Trip Tips and Advice for the Atypical Traveler from Atypical60!

Hey all—I just know you’re dying to read today’s post! *wink* *wink*. Because I’m a giver, I’ve decided to share some of my trip tips with you! Some are practical, and I realize a couple are just downright weird and perhaps rather…um…atypical but they may be just a teeny bit helpful! So here goes……………

Strategic Packing: The Checked-in Luggage: If you are going away for more than a week and traveling by air, chances are that you will have more than a carry on.   I refuse to pay the airlines more than need be. There is no way I will allow myself to be charged $100 or more because my suitcase is over the limited weight by as much as a few ounces or a pound. I pack the lightest stuff that I possibly can in my suitcase. Tablet, liquid makeup, most of my beauty stuff, tweezers—basically anything that won’t pass by security goes into the checked luggage. Plus, I need to leave room for items that I’ll bring back from my vacation when I shop. I do plan out some of my outfits though. I’ll place a complete outfit in a zippered plastic bag, then to get the air out I’ll kneel on the filled bag and squeeze, squeeze till it’s flat!

Outfit ready to go into the bag

To make for easy clothing choices, I’ll take a complete outfit (Note I don’t do this 100 percent of the time)..

Outfit in the bag

Fold it, put it into a freezer-sized zippered plastic bag and note what clothes are inside. I don’t label the plastic bag because I reuse them. I did this last year with every outfit–this year I didn’t and I should have!

                                    The Carry-on: The heavier items always go in my carry-on. Jeans. Blazers. Outerwear. Shoes. Hair Rollers (I’ll get to that later). Blow drier. I’ll also pack a couple of journals into the carry on. They are heavier and don’t take up that much space. The point is to keep heavier articles and clothing with you so you don’t end up spending more money on checked-in luggage.


Journals can be heavier and I don’t want to weigh luggage down, so a couple of these always go in my carry-on luggage!

                                    The “Personal” Item—i.e. Purse: This is where I get really creative. I’m obsessed with the airlines losing my baggage. Trust me, I’ve had “lost” and “misplaced” luggage before and ended up receiving it days later. It isn’t fun. Let me tell you what I do. I’m a fan of the Longchamp le Pillage bag.

Longchamp bag emptied

My flattened and empty Longchamp Le Pliage bag. Watch it grow and expand!

I’m also a big fan of organizing with plastic bags. I’ll organize items in plastic bags. I.e. Pens and writing implements go in one bag.

Longchamp writing essentials

My writing necessities. These will all be placed in another larger zippered bag.

Combs (I never brush my hair unless I’m blow drying), hair clips, ties, barrettes in another.

Longchamp bag hair essentials

Some of these hair items get squeezed into…

Longchamp bag hair essentials 2

This little zippered pouch then..

Longchamp hair essentials 3

Everything here plus combs are placed into a larger plastic bag and put into the Longchamp bag!

I’ll fit a couple of pairs of shoes/sandals into the bag as well.

Longchamp bag sandals

A pair of sandals ( this is a re-enactment. I just got these!)…and..

Longchamp bag ballet flats

Ballet flats get shoved into the Longchamp bag too. Wait. I’m STILL not done!

My agenda, with a pen inserted into the binding wires—fits perfectly and I never have to search for it.

Longchamp weekly planner agenda

Look to the far upper left of the agenda. That blue thing is the pen I keep–it’s the perfect place!  I’m still not done!

I also fit my camera and my car charger and camera charger. Bonaparte carries the adapters for foreign outlets in his carry on.   I always carry an umbrella no matter where I am. (I cannot have the rain ruining the hair that I have nor do I need the rain to wash away the products hiding my bald spots!).

Longchamp umbrella and wallet

The umbrella, and lest I forget my wallet. I’ll tell you there is so much stuff in this bag a pickpocket would give up trying to find my wallet in a matter of seconds!

I received this tote bag from the wonderful staff at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hands down, this tote bag is strong as all get out. I literally used it throughout my last vacation and used in in place of a purse at times. It folds up neatly and takes up no space.

Longchamp bag wythe hotel tote

This tote is great. It’s strong enough to hold a few wine bottles too! Makes my day! If you want to purchase one of these great totes you can email the Wythe hotel at:  Tell ’em  you found it on my blog!

I also stuff this Trish McEvoy makeup organizer, but I use it for dental floss, teeth care more than anything else.  Oh..and my makeup brushes get thrown in here too! My new addition to my bag is the Monoprix grocery bag—you never know when you need an extra tote. Am I right?

Longchamp trish mcevoy makeup planner

I’m not a Trish McEvoy fan, but this impulsive purchase does come in handy every now and then.

Longchamp makeup brushes

Hey–What can I say? The Longchamp Le Pliage holds a ton of stuff!

Longchamp chapstick and gloss

I forgot–I have a little bag of chapstick and lip glosses that I fit into the Longchamp as well.

All stuffed and ready to go into the Lilly for Target Straw tote.

Longchamp bag. Nnow filled to the brim.

Everything from the above pics is stuffed into this Longchamp Le Pliage bag–even the little red Monoprix grocery bag!

Longchamp bag filled and closed

All stuffed and zipped and ready to go into the Lilly for Target straw bag!

I’ll tell you, Bonaparte gave me the old eye roll when he saw that I was using this straw tote  as my “purse”. He didn’t think I would get away with it. He was even more shocked when, on our way back, I had so much stuff that I had to have him use this straw bag as his personal item! It takes a real man to do that!

Straw bag. Zippered compartment for phone, car charger, camera charger and phone charger

My phone and phone charger go into this zippered compartment. Very convenient.

Anyway, I place one “emergency” outfit in a plastic bag—believe me. If you have any spills of airline coffee or hit turbulence while eating and spill food, all you need to do is grab the emergency outfit out of the bag, change and put the dirty clothes back into the emergency bag.

Straw bag. Emergency outfit bag.

My emergency outfit bag also contains a change of underwear and a bathing suit. You just never know!

I’ve had a child throw up on me and a good leather Kooba bag some years back. That’s one reason for the emergency clothes and carrying the nylon Longchamp bag. It cleans up easier!

Kooba sloan bag

My beloved Kooba Sloan bag. It took a long time to clean the vomit off. I used saddle soap and elbow grease. Since then, I never travel with a good leather bag. The Longchamp is fine–it cleans easier. AND the emergency clothes come in handy when someone pukes on you!

Books also went into this straw bag. The little zippered compartment was perfect for my phone AND my phone charger. Many airports have charging stations so it was at the ready!

Straw Bag. Books for Reading

I actually shoved 5 books in the straw bag, but I purposely left two behind.  I do that every year–I leave one or two books for other visitors. I’m a giver alright!

Straw bag sunhat

My protective sun hat also goes into the straw bag! Then when I arrive at my destination, I use the straw bag as a beach bag!

Straw bag. Emergency clothes, books, sun hat, longchamp bag, camera, phone, chargers

Fill ‘er up!  You can see the handles of the Longchamp bag but not the bag!

Straw bag..everything and the longchamp bag inside

All stuffed. My “personal” item! I swear it was heavier than my large luggage!

Don’t Be Intimidated By The Locals’ Clothing: Face it. We’re all tourists when we visit an unfamiliar place—no matter how many times we’ve been to a destination—if it isn’t home. We’re tourists. And, although I do try to blend when I’m in a large city, I don’t mull or stress over what I’m going to wear. Take Paris, for example. I’ve read so many articles and heard so many people talk about the need to dress up. Yeah….there are still plenty of Parisian women who’s fashion savoir-faire and chic looks can take your breath away but they are a minority! Listen to moi. While I won’t walk the streets of Paris in cutoff shorts and a ratty T-shirt, I will make sure I look presentable and still appear comfortable. During the cooler months, my uniform of choice during the day will be skinny jeans (on my fat ass), a fitted t shirt or thin sweater like a J. Crew Tippi, a blazer and boots.

During the warmer months (and canicule), I’ll wear a simple shift or plain t-shirt dress with ballet flats, Rondini sandals or…flip flops. Yes. I’ve walked the streets of the 6th in flip flops!Damnit—I have beautifully well-pedicured feet, and they need to be admired! I stopped bringing heels with me because I never end up wearing them. Ballet flats are great from the day-to-evening transition.

Two t shirt dresses I wore in Paris multiple times

These two dresses were worn multiple times when we were in Paris. I changed up the look with belts. It was too hot for a scarf most of the time. Worn with flats or sandals or even flip flops it was an appropriate look! I got each of these dresses at Old Navy for $15.00 each!  Both have been washed many times and retain their shape. I don’t put them in the dryer though.

White eyelet shift worn almost every day in the South

I freaking LIVED in this dress when we were in the South. I would wear it to the beach over my suit, wear it sight seeing and running errands. Best dress I ever purchased at GAP–and it’s from last year!

Most Parisians dress casually these days. Unless you are on Avenue Foch or are hanging in Neuilly or find yourself in the 7th arrondissement next door to Karl Lagerfeld, don’t worry about a lack of chicness on your part. Believe me, I try to break the stereotype of the “ugly” American all the time—but I’m never going to go into hock trying to dress like an heiress when I’m not! Many of my travel clothes are from Old Navy—especially the summer clothing and they are extremely appropriate.

Paris. Parisian Chic Non 2

A bus stop in Paris during morning hours. I can guarantee these are not tourists.

Paris. Parisian Chick Non 3

Do any of these people in Paris personify chic?  Don’t be intimidated! It’s all good!

Same thing in Manhattan. As an ex-Manhattanite, I’ve had so many inquiries on what to wear when in New York City. Wear whatever makes you comfortable. Those “Ladies Who Lunch”—they are all on the Upper East Side—which is so last year! They dress for each other and can be found along Fifth and Madison Avenues. Women in New York City are NOT the “Real Housewives of NY”!  Naturally, if you are going to an incredibly fancy restaurant for dinner, you want to check to see if there is a dress code, but New York is a pretty casual city. People still dress for work if they have extremely corporate jobs.

Jeez, I remember the days, back in the early 1960’s when my mother made us “dress” for shopping into the City and for dining out. Those days are over.

When I lived in NYC I even ran to the corner store and dry cleaners in hair rollers. Oh yes I did. I really didn’t care. I set my hair when I’m in Paris too—Bonaparte’s aunt Danièle damn near had a heart attack when I came downstairs with my hair set for the first time.

Rollers in the hair

I had no shame when I lived in NYC. I thought nothing of leaving the apartment like this–I DID have a scarf over my rollers though!

I promised her I would never leave the apartment like that—and I never break a promise. NYC streets in hair rollers. Yes. Paris streets in hair rollers. No!

Toiletries:  Hotels always have those little travel sized toiletries like body lotion, bath gel, shampoo and conditioner. If we go away for the weekend, there is no reason for that stuff from home unless you are very brand loyal. Travel-sized deodorant and those cleaning wipe towelettes are always in my bag.

Those little “Moist Towelettes”: I’ll tell you—even on a longer trip; those cleaning wipes have multiple uses. First of all, the ones that work as makeup removers are great. But here’s another use. After wiping your makeup off, wash the towelette with soap and water to get rid of the makeup residue. These towelettes are sturdy, very sturdy. I actually use these repurposed as wash cloths. Oh yes I do! I’ve got a “thing” about using washcloths that others may have used and these towelettes are perfect! One towelette can last a few days!

Travel Tips. Wet Towellettes

Towelettes are a definitely necessity because they are so strong and can be repurposed. I swear by these!

                        Sunscreen and sun protection items: Sunscreen is greasy and can be sloppy to travel with. I don’t travel with it. Instead, when I get to my destination, I’ll seek out a discount store and get the least expensive sunscreen products I can find. SPF 50 or 30 or 20 is the same whether it is a high-end brand or a discount brand. I’ll leave the good stuff at home. (I will, however, bring my TanTowels with me to ensure an even tan). My sunhat always gets packed—not only does the wide brim protects my fact, but the hat also protects my hair and scalp! The hat isn’t fancy at all, but it does the trick so I kind of don’t care how I look when I’m wearing it.

Don’t forget the change: These days, a great many commuters have EZ Pass—which is a dream when taking a road trip and going through tolls. But what about those who live in a city and rent a car for their travels? What about those who are driving through Europe? Load up on that change!!!

European tolls are expensive and it seems there are more toll roads over there than here—maybe my imagination and maybe not. Either way, we load up on the euro change and always have it ready in the car!


At home and away, if you don’t have an EZ pass or the European equivalent of an EZ pass, you need all the change you can get your hands on!


Make sure you have euros and centimes if you are traveling by car. Also, the 1euro coin is handy for grocery shopping. You need a euro for a grocery cart–don’t worry, you get it back!

Even if you are driving or out and about in a car in a city, make sure to have change for parking. Most large cities have begun to use those little kiosks that spit out little tickets that you place on the dashboard of your car so carry change or a credit card.

Parking kiosk

The kiosks have taken the place of meters in most cities–but living in Manhattan has put me into the habit of always having change in the car!

In Paris you can go into a Tabac store and purchase a parking ticket that you can insert into the parking kiosk—it’s even more convenient, especially if you don’t have the change!


Tabac stores carry tickets for purchasing so that parking will be easier. You can also buy a lottery ticket to test your luck too!

Journal and Photograph Your Trip: Activities and sightseeing aside, make sure you take the time to write about your trip! Take an hour before cocktails or aperitifs to relax, unwind and write! Even if it is just a couple of sentences or notes about something unusual that happened—it’s all good. Perhaps nobody will ever see what you write except you—but you will always have those memories and you will have great reference to give to others if they need information. In addition, you can always go to your journals for fond memories of past trips.

You also just cannot take enough photos either. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t a pro. Snap away—I’ve gotten some great photos with my phone too. Life is always one Kodak moment after another. Better to err on the side of too many pics than too little. You can always delete what you don’t like.

You can never take too many pictures!

Mind your manners: It’s funny. As an American, I notice that we, as Americans, are incredibly friendly, but we aren’t always polite. How many of us walk into a store here and say “Good Morning” or “Good Evening” to the sales assistants? How many sales assistants greet us with “Good Morning’ or “Good Evening”? I rest my case. We are an incredibly friendly bunch, we smile and are bubbly, but sometimes, we just aren’t polite.   Overseas, people may be a bit more standoffish and aloof, but they are incredibly polite. When traveling overseas, always enter a shop with a “good morning” in the country’s native language and a “goodbye” in their language as you exit. Little things like that make all the difference in the world.

Also, remember that other cultures don’t eat as quickly as we do. When you are in a café or restaurant in another country, the service isn’t going to be quick and rushed. So bring a book to read or people watch or take the time in a café to journal your thoughts! It’s the perfect time!

Have a “Bad Weather” backup plan: Ugh. When the kids were young, I remember beach vacations where the weather turned really bad. On one occasion, I took my son Roman down to the beach with me and we were running around in the rain—everyone else thought we were nuts. We had a blast! But—you really need a backup plan. Nobody wants to sit around with nothing to do. We’ve seen some fun movies while on rainy vacations, and have taken some great museum trips too. Always find out where the indoor attractions and entertainment are!


In 1995 we were on vacation at Virginia Beach. It rained mostly every day. That’s when we saw “Clueless”–and the movie still reminds me of that vacation. We still had a blast!

The Jewelry: Don’t bring good jewelry. Period. I’ve posted this before and I’ll post it again. Hotels are notorious for “losing” jewelry. Bring the cheap stuff—and I mean CHEAP! Walmart has the best faux gold hoop earrings on earth. An entire card of four pair of earrings for five bucks. Go to Forever 21 for a couple of cheap necklaces. Nobody is paying attention to your jewelry except someone who wants it for themselves. If you travel with cheap jewelry, nobody else will want it!

Travel Tip Cheap Earrlings.

Look past the frizzed ends that are sticking out. These earrings are beyond inexpensive. They are downright CHEAP!  Actually, I wear them all the time, not just on vacation!

The souvenirs: it’s always nice to gift friends and family with items from your travels. Here’s how I feel about this. Bring back something useful, out-of-the-box, and different. And something that doesn’t weigh a lot! If you can find Christmas ornaments from your travels, you will have memories from year to year every time you trim that tree!   Grocery totes, candies, food magazines—they are all different and more useful than the typical items sold in overpriced souvenir shops and booths.

All the above are cute little items to bring back for friends and co-workers (Yes. co-workers, for THOSE of you who are LUCKY enough to be *cough* employed!)

You can also have prints made of pictures you took, have them framed, and give them as gifts—it’s more personal!

Wear matching underwear while en route: This is probably the creepiest and twisted advice or tip I can give but—I’m atypical. OK? I don’t like flying. As much as I realize it is the only way to travel at times, I still don’t like it. During takeoff, I say a Hail Mary, an Our Father, and an Act of Contrition. I recite the same three prayers as we land. Just. In. Case.

Act of contrition

This is ONE prayer I’ve been reciting since I was a little girl. Mostly because I was told by my mother or a nun that I had “better” say an Act of Contrition. It happens to be a good flying prayer too!

That being said, I always make sure I am wearing a really pretty bra and panty set. Why? You ask! Well, if “anything bad happens” and my body is not intact, the rescue workers can match the top with the bottom. This goes for long road trips too. Those texters—and drunks-when they drive, they kill others but not themselves. If I’m a goin’, I’m doin’ it in nice and clean underwear!


If Ima going to the angels, I may as well dress like one! Trust me,  I don’t wear gold underwear when I travel, and my gut sticks out–but I do make sure I match. Just. In. Case!

Well, that’s it for my travel tips! I hope you learned something from my  *cough* “expert” and “Jet setting” advice. Just kiddin’ I’m not an expert nor am I a jet setter. I’m just having fun!  Here’s a song about vacations! Just for you and only for you!

Mister Willie Nelson–On the Road Again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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8 Responses to Trip Tips and Advice for the Atypical Traveler from Atypical60!

  1. Jane Ricci says:

    Love your blog Catherine! Was never tempted to try France until I read about your vacation. You have a lovely, easy style of writing. I look forward to more postings.You are so talented and thank you for sharing that talent with me!

  2. gk says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this post – it’s so tiring hearing how chic the Parisians are, the NYers are, the Italians….people are people all over the world and they wear a variety of clothing/styles. No one cultural group has a monopoly on style!
    You must be a pleasure to travel with, you seem so easygoing!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi gk. Right????? I’m tired of that too. Everyone has their own style and everyone needs to be comfortable and confident in their own style. Variety is the spice of life and it’s fun to see how others styles blend in–it isn’t about the chic! LOL. Bonaparte tells me I’m an excellent travel companion so I guess I am easygoing. I just try to be a nice person!! XOOXOXOXO!

  3. Beverly says:

    Sipping my coffee first thing in the morning and reading your humorous and educational blogs, complete with pictures…..priceless!

  4. annamarie Campbell says:

    Hahaha I love your adventure, stories, and all the great advice, Catherine!!

    • Catherine says:

      LOL. Hi Annamarie! I’m happy you are enjoying my adventures and stories–you know that I love to hand out advice too–and have since I was a little girl! There’s more a comin’!!! XOXOXOXOXO!

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