Travel Tips and Tip Top Takeaways

*Sigh* Our annual trip to the Côte d’Azur has ended but I still have things to write about.

I have to wait 48 weeks to go back. In the meantime, I have some tips to offer!

The way Vincent and I travel isn’t fabulous, flamboyant, or luxurious. We travel prudently and wisely. And you do not need to be wealthy to travel internationally. It takes saving and planning, pragmatism, and research.

Gloria Swanson Shut Up GIF

Well…I’m NOT rich and I won’t shut up so read on!

And so, I would like to share some tips and takeaways that I have learned over the years—and one huge mistake I make over and over and over, promising myself I will not repeat this the following year.  Let’s go!

First, my biggest mistake.  Why keep you guessing.


Overpacking is my biggest mistake! Every year I do this. Every year I come home and say I will never do this again. But I continue to repeat this error year after year.  Do NOT overpack.  And I write this especially if you are planning to head to a warm-weather, beachy destination.  Naturally, in the winter, we must wear more clothing and outwear is essential, but in summer it’s a different story.

Next year, I swear it’ll be only my carry on!

And this did not need to be packed to the brim!

For two weeks, I lived in bathing suits.  I wore the same dress almost daily.  My pink Lilly Pulitzer sun dress with built-in bra.  This year was the second year in a row that I took the dress with me.  It is, hands down, the perfect type of dress you need for hot weather.  It is appropriate for day-to-night and comfortable as all get out.  Step into a pair of panties, throw the dress on and you’re done.  Simple and non-fussy.

Three of the bathing suits I wore were two-pieces. I wore the middle one the most.

This was worn once. I love it but it was just so hot and I find two piece suits more comfortable. This should have stayed home.

Wait. Let us get back to packing.  You do not need a different outfit for every day—especially if you are in an area where the vibe is casual.  I packed three maxi dresses, four short dresses, two pair of lightweight pants, seven tee shirts, one button down shirt and three pairs of shorts.  I also packed four bathing suits. (I’m not going to focus on underwear).

I did not wear the black maxi. I did, however wear the gray one and the taupe was worn around the apartment.

I wore the black dress quite a bit. The middle one came with me for 6 years. I discovered a hole in it and it was thrown out.  The far right? Never wore.

Never wore the shorts or shirts.


I wore this cropped sleeveless tee. I packed the same shirt in both black and olive. Never wore them.  The navy pants pictured?  I did wear them twice  but not with the tee pictured with them. I wore the pants with the tee pictured on the left.

This is the dress I wore almost every day. Every. Day. Built-in bra so all I needed was a pair of panties and this dress. It’s the best dress I’ve ever purchased from Lilly Pulitzer. I wore this a lot during last year’s visit as well.

I wore this on the plane to and from. I did not wear any of these items except for flying. 

In addition, I packed one pair of sneakers, which were never worn, three pair of sandals, of which I practically lived in one of the pair, one pair of flip flops and the ballet flats that I wore on both flights.  I could have sufficed with the one pair of sandals and the flip flops.

Never wore these. Shouldn’t have packed them

These were the sandals I lived in. The black Salome’s and the Tropezienne sandals. 

Except for makeup, which was minimal and toiletries, which needed to be checked, a carry-on would have been sufficient.

Minimal makeup means mascara, brow product, lip balm and eye liner. Bronzer was to even out my skin from the sun and as eye shadow.

Don’t get me wrong—checked luggage was essential because we rent an apartment and we had beach towels, sunscreen, books, journals and needed the space to bring back items we purchased. But overall, the amount of clothing I took with me was ridiculous.

Schitts Creek Comedy GIF by CBC


Don’t be like me. Don’t overpack.  My mistake is your not mistake!

Be wise in packing.  Try to visualize what your activities will be. If you are going to be at the pool or beach, you certainly don’t need a ton of clothing. If you are seeing the sights, pick comfortable items.  A sundress is far more comfortable than shorts and a shirt.  A simple maxi can be sufficient for dinners out.  I need to practice what I preach!

Apartment or hotel? This could be the most important aspect of a vacation.  Cost-effectively, I honestly feel an apartment (or as in the States, a beach house) rental for summer trips—especially for a week or longer, is the better choice.

In a hotel, your life is an a la carte existence.  (NOTE: this is if you are NOT staying at an all-inclusive resort).  You pay for every meal out.  You pay for clothing to be cleaned.  You must tip everyone.   Hotels are expensive—especially luxury hotels.  Most of us cannot afford two weeks at the Carlton.

If you can afford to stay here on your vacation, chances are you really don’t need to be concerned about a budget.  God love ya–you’re lucky!

It’s different visiting a city for a week or less or a long weekend—for those visits’ hotels are essential.

Airbnb’s, for us, are still in the research stage because we have heard too many disappointing stories that have made us second-guess staying in one.

✈️Airbnb Côte d'Azur: the best Airbnb rentals on the French Riviera

This Airbnb is on the Riviera and looks beautiful. But we are still on the fence.

Staying in an apartment works for us on those longer-than-a-week vacation.  The apartment we rent for our time on the Côte d’Azur works.  It has worked for about 13 years now. We have a relationship with the agency and the owner knows we are great renters.  We take care of the apartment as if it were our own.

I love the apartment we’ve been renting for over a decade. We spend most of our time on the terrace!

The main bedroom (there are two) is nothing fancy. The bed is incredibly comfortable and we keep the doors to the terrace opened at all times–even while we sleep.

We have eaten inside only once. Last year due to a massive rain storm.

It has a washing machine which, upon arrival every summer, I welcome with open arms and dirty clothes.  This year a nice big bottle of detergent was left for me. I cried tears of happiness.  A drying rack is permanently left on the terrace which also brings joy—clothes can be air-dried outside! While I realize to some this might sound silly but the ability to wash clothing and towels, makes the trip easier—and you do not have to go home with dirty laundry in your suitcase.

This little washing machine does the greatest job. It is housed in the main bathroom so I can take a bath and do laundry at the same time!

And then I get to dry the laundry on the terrace!

Staying in an apartment also allows you to feel like a local.  The first thing we do after arrival and unpacking is grab our grocery bags (which we pack in our checked luggage), and head to the local Hypermarche in Mandelieu.  I never tire of grocery shopping in France.  There is so much to chose from and the ready-made food is fantastic.  The quality is much better than here in the States.

Look at the choices of butter!

This is one of the many choices of refrigerated pastry sheets/shells/crusts. It makes me sad that we don’t have these choices at home.

And for those who don’t want to make sauce from scratch. You have ready-made. 

The choices of food and other items can be overwhelming too.  Being that we live in Pennsylvania with the ridiculous “state-run” liquor stores, it is a pain-in-the-ass to buy our Kir Royal or Aperol Spritz makings because we are at the mercy of Pennsylvania’s odd rulings.  In France even the strongest of spirits is available for purchase!

Any type of spirit is sold at the markets. From this to the strongest booze.

Thumbs up for the grocery shopping.

Transportation—Drive or Train? This is another thing that needs to be well-thought out.  If staying on the Côte d’Azur, you have access to a good number of places to visit.  And, depending on what type of vacation you are having, transportation can be vital.  For instance, if you are staying in an apartment across from La Croisette in Cannes and plan on doing absolutely nothing except walking across the street to the beach, you need only your two feet to get around.

But, if you are planning to head to various beaches or towns or to sight-see, renting a car might be a good choice.

2022 MG ZS price and specs: price-leader SUV sticking around | CarExpert

We rented an MG this year. Not our choice by it was the choice Hertz gave us. The car drove well, but the tech stuff was a pia. 

The local train goes up and down the Bord du Mer along the coast.  Stopping at different towns and villages, you might prefer this mode of local travel.  However, if you want to go to St. Tropez, be mindful that the train ends in St. Raphael and you will have to cab it to Ste.-Maxime to take a ferry to your destination.  Don’t forget that taking a train means that you are under the control of the train’s schedule.

The 3 key objectives of the New Provence Côte d'Azur Line

Although I’ve heard great things about the local trains, we prefer having a car. Be mindful that this train doesn’t go to St. Tropez.

It is an individual preference, and for us, renting a car works.  Firstly, my husband grew up in France and is familiar with the highways and local roads—giving him a familiarity which makes him extremely comfortable.  And when you have a vehicle, you are more in control of your travels-within-travel.   If you do decide to rent a car, make sure it is automatic.  It can be challenging on the local roads—especially in the back country where the terrain is mountainous and hilly and driving a stick shift can be annoying.  Automatic gives you better control.

The process of a car rental is easy.  Get off the plane, out of the terminal, head to the car rental and you are done—the process of returning the automobile is even easier.  Drop the car off, a staff member will look the car over, sign paperwork and you are on your way to your flight’s terminal.

Nice, France Airport Information, Provence travel information and tips, by  Provence Beyond

From the Terminal 1, take a tram then head to the car rental. It’s an easy process.

Can We Tawk?  While I’m certainly not fluent in speaking French, I can understand a lot of the language.  But when I am in France, I try to speak as much as possible—even if I’m not speaking the greatest of grammar.  The French love when you make even the feeblest of attempts to speak like a Gaul. Enter a store or any establishment?  A quick “Bonjour” will suffice. You don’t have to flash that big American smile.  That one little word can work wonders.  Next, explain, in French that you speak only a little and you have made an ally.  Chances are most French people do speak English, even if it is as little as you speak their language and you will have great assistance.

If you are ordering duck in a restaurant, the word is “Canard” Not Connard. You do not want to call anyone connard–except if they are a real jerk.

Case in point:  I decided that since I love Octopus so much, I would purchase a whole on, fresh from the Mediterranean to cook for dinner.  I approached the fish monger and in my best French greeted him and asked how to cook a whole octopus as I had never done so before.  My husband chimed in with adding that I was practicing my French language. (He’s such a perfectionist—it’s the French in him).

Géant Casino, Mandelieu-La Napoule - Restaurant reviews

Another tip: if you love seafood and fresh seafood isn’t readily available in your area. Take the time to eat as much as you can when on the Cote d’Azur.

Within seconds, the fish man, started speaking in English, took me by the hand and led me to the area where pre-cleaned and pre-cooked octopus was waiting for me.  He explained that perhaps this was not the time to attempt to cook an entire one.  His assistance was stellar. I took the octopus, thanked him (in French) said “Bonne journee” and continued shopping.

Politeness and recognition counts.  I belong to a few France travel groups on Facebook and some of the posts from Americans complaining about their trips are downright pathetic. Just because you are from America does not mean that everyone will bow to you or hold you in high esteem.  Humility is a virtue.  Remember that.

You Don’t Have to do Everything:   We work so hard during our time at home. 50 weeks of work. (Unless retired). Running around during holidays.  Weekends often spent catching up on stuff you should have done during the work week.  Why shouldn’t a vacation be spent relaxing for the most part?

Vacations are meant to savor—like a delicious meal.  I have seen a plethora of itineraries that leave little for as much as a trip to the toilet.  While I do realize that for many, European trips or any trip overseas can be a trip of a lifetime, it doesn’t mean you need to see every sight known.

chevy chase dancing GIF

No need to be like Clark Griswold and spend your vacation running from country to country in the span of a week!

Would you rather have a trip where you can barely remember what you did because you were running around so much? Or, would you rather have a vacation where you see sights with an equal amount of relaxation.  Swimming at different beaches in the morning, then visiting that town’s sights in the afternoon is a beautiful way to divide and spend your time.

You need to relax.  Set a spell for a while why donja?

We’ve had years where we did a lot of driving and seeing sights but we balanced it out with sitting at the pool or a beach the next day. One day sights, the next day beach or pool.   This was the year we said “screw it” and did hardly any sightseeing.  It was the “lazy” vacation and turned out to be one of the best.

Dining out:  As we rent an apartment, we don’t dine out often.  This time around we went out to dinner three times and each time, we were happy and loved both the restaurants and the food. You do not have to spend a fortune either to get a decent meal.  I have heard people say that food was “meh” and so on.  Sorry-not-sorry but even average restaurants are better than the garbage you get at Cheesecake Factory and the like.  The food (for the most part—beware of menus that offer to many choices), is always fresh and the portions are smaller, although lately it seems portion-size is getting larger, and choices are seasonal.

Egg and Tomato from Marche Forville. And the mayonaisse is great!

It’s nice to take advantage of local produce like tomatoes (I spelled mayonnaise wrong) and local eggs.

We skip lunch.  For us, the long lunches would cut into our precious vacation time and day-drinking wine would put me into a complete slumber.  You gotta do what works for you. Besides, skipping lunch is economical and sometimes healthier.

Please do not treat the servers like second-class citizens. We happened to be sitting next to a couple at one of the restaurants who treated our server like absolute shit. It was inappropriate and entitled.  Again, I love ordering in French.  It brings a connection between you and the server and shows respect on your part.

Salt Bae Night GIF by Storyful

Don’t be a rude or nasty restaurant patron. Treat the servers with respect.

Also, dining out comes later in France.  When we ate on our terrace, we would start earlier because we whiled the night away drinking (I sound like a lush but it was vacation), eating and watching the activity on the sea. It was delightful.  But if you make dinner reservations, make it for at least 8:00 PM.

Check Your Passport!!  After reading and hearing horror stories of passports not arriving in a timely fashion, especially for first-timers, and renewals being delayed, my strong advice is taking care of that important form of identification at least four months in advance.

Back in the day, acquiring a passport was not an issue nor an overwhelming experience.  Now it just seems like a chore.  You need the correct photos, the cost has risen, it takes forever to process and be mailed back to you.  The sooner you take care of this, they less stressful your travels will be.

Travel Flying GIF

Make haste in getting your passport. Do NOT wait until the last minute or the only place you will be traveling is to your bathroom to get sick.

TSA Pre-check and Global Entry:  Speaking of passports, under normal circumstances, TSA pre-check is a great thing to have.  Some airports are better than others.  Inasmuch as I cannot stand Philadelphia Int’l airport (because of parking and the fact flights to France are double of those from JFK and Newark), they have the TSA pre-check down perfectly. No matter how crowded the airport might be, going through TSA is a breeze.  I must give credit where credit is due and Philly is great with this.

Newark, on the other hand, sucks. If the price of a direct flight to and from Nice were not so darn purse-friendly, I would never fly from that god-forsaken airport.  The pre-check line was so bad –actually, it was blended with the non-precheck.

Global entry is far better.  Global entry is just a quicker way of returning home from an international flight.  You don’t have to deal with lines at customs. And if multiple flights are arriving from points global, it can take forever on the customs lines.

That said, when you have Global entry, you head to a kiosk, your image will be taken, you walk to an agent who will say “do you have anything to declare.”  We do not spend a fortune shopping so our answer is always “no,” then we are on our way to claim the luggage.

APC and Global Entry Kiosks | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Global Entry kiosks. The greatest thing that ever happened to arriving back in the States!

The process for TSA/Global entry consists of an interview, having your photo taken and being fingerprinted.  It is easy and I have to say, my experience at Philly was quick.

2 Easy Ways to Get a Faster Global Entry Interview

Interview process was easy peasy!

Heading online to the website for global entry/TSA, you make an appointment.  The appointments mostly take place at the airport closest to you. The good thing is you can schedule your interview for evening hours which makes it convenient for the working person.

After the interview process is completed, a couple of weeks later you will receive a card with your TSA/Global entry number and your photo. Keep this. You can add the TSA pre-check number to your airlines’ reservation and that’s pretty much it.

Get to the Airport Early:  My kids think I am an obsessive crazy lady. As do some of my friends.  I care not. As a woman who experiences extreme stress and anxiety, getting to the airport early makes me a calmer person. And that’s a good thing.

Because Newark and JFK airports are a bit of a drive from the Philly area, we leave *extra* early.  Trust me, my husband is a wise man regarding this subject. He lives by “happy wife, happy life” and has gotten used to my obsession with being early only for travel and my doctor’s appointments. In all other aspects of my life—I am late.

Believe me, if you had to travel on the Jersey Turnpike and the Belt Parkway, you would understand what I’m talking about.

I give two hours to travel to Newark because you never know how traffic will be and you never know how long it will take to find a good parking spot at the economy lot and the timeliness of the jitney to transport you from said lot to terminal.

When “they” say to arrive three hours early to your flight overseas, “they” are not kidding.  Give yourself three hours (I do this when I’m flying solo domestically as well).  If you have luggage to check, most likely you will be waiting on a line—sometimes a small line, and sometimes a long one! As stated previously, TSA pre-check isn’t the same at every airport so allow yourself TSA line time.

Once past TSA, it’s time to head to the gate and give yourself some time to wind down and relax before your flight.  I have a routine.  I always buy a bag of Peanut M & M’s . It is a superstitious but delicious habit I have gotten into. And despite the journals and books I have in my tote or carryon, I relish in purchasing juicy, tabloid magazines and publications. My husband abhors that but I don’t care—happy wife, happy life.

Manning Your Flight Space:   I know, I know, I’m not right in the head.  About a half hour before the flight boards (assuming it isn’t delayed), I man my personal space to board. We fly economy so we board in Group 2 and I’m always the first person in that group to board.  If you happen to be at any given airport when I am flying internationally and spot me on the Group 2 line, I will be the only one on the line for a while so stop by and say hi!

And when Group 2 gets the signal to board, my energy level is akin to a rugby player in a game.  I cannot get to my seat fast enough. There is a method to my madness. I want my carryon in the overhead bin above my seat.  The state of carryon luggage is the bane of my traveling existence.  Families with five kids—not older than the age of five, each with their own luggage of carry-on size. Mommy and daddy cannot pack all the childrens’ belongings in one large suitcase to check?  I have news for you—you will be waiting for hours on a customs line upon your arrival. Those carry-ons will not save you any time.

Then you have the travelers who carry two backpacks. One in back and one in front—along with a tote as a personal item.  I cannot believe the airlines allows people to do this.  Then there is the passenger who takes a slightly oversized piece of luggage as a carryon.  Nope. You better get away from me.

The blame for this?  Both the airlines and entitled passengers.  The airlines companies are bleeding us financially with price increases worse than Chanel and Louis Vuitton.  It is time to stop charging for checked-in luggage. It needs to stop.  On one hand you cannot blame people for want to travel with a carryon, but leave it at that. No need to stuff a piece of luggage larger than the regulated measurements.  No need to carry two backpacks under the auspices of saying it is one.  No need for a family of seven to take up other’s overhead space.

True story (I mentioned it in one of my blog posts), after we were seated and our carryon luggage was housed comfortably and safely in the overhead, a woman came over and tried to stuff her hard luggage into the overhead above me.  I said in my best passive-aggressive tone. “It’s full.”  She got the message and tried elsewhere.

Patience is a Virtue:  In my normal, everyday life, patience is a virtue that, sadly, I do not always practice.  However, when traveling, I exhibit the patience of a saint (my husband will argue this but he’s French so arguing is his jam).

When disembarking the plane, we are both rather polite.  Realizing there are passengers that need to make connections, we wait to leave the aircraft with the last of the travelers.  If you’ve ever missed a connecting flight, you will do the same moving forward. It’s no fun.

Besides, you need to allow for time to get through customs and retrieve your checked-in luggage, get a car rental or a cab or train—it’s going to take time do to all this.  Don’t become stressed with impatience.   I am very fortunate to be able to go through customs by piggy-backing on my husband’s UE passport but there have been times when I have had to wait on customs lines for over an hour.

Just be patient. In due time, you will be settled and enjoying yourself and the time is fleeting so do not try to rush it.

Shopping:  Dismissing grocery shopping, I’m talking about the shopping for items you can bring home.  I’ve traveled enough to not spend a day shopping but it’s fun to do it in drips and drabs.

Our summer shopping in France is always a visit to Fragonard in Grasse. There is a reason for this. Fragonard scents and skincare are among my favorites. Fleur d’Oranger is my favorite scent of all time.  It is my signature summer scent and Fragonard’s orange blossom products from scents to skincare are the real deal.  The smell like pure orange blossom.

Our kitchen area now has the wafted essence of Orange Blossom!

Fragonard Haul

A refill of Fleur d’Oranger, body lotion, shower gel, home scents and a gift of a bag that is perfect for grocery shopping!

My love for Rondini.  When in St. Tropez, it is customary to treat myself to a pair of Rondini sandals.  The sandals are custom-made and custom-fit.  And the price is incredibly reason for the craftmanship.  Owned by the Rondini family, they have been a staple in St. Tropez for decades.  I still have my first pair purchased in 2010.  The Tropezienne sandals purchased in 2011, have been repaired after Chippy snacked on them, and have been worn constantly every summer. They are old and now ragged looking but are so comfortable and broken-in and I love them.

The second pair of Rondini sandals I’ve purchased.  I wore these every day during our vacation. They are VERY worn in!

This year I purchased a third pair of Salome sandals and Sahariennes Fines in patent leather.  The price for two pair came in at around 300 USD.  Considering the fact Tory Burch Miller sandals which are mass-produced and cost from $198 on up per pair, the custom Rondini sandals are a bargain.  If you have narrow or wide feet, or bunions, or a high arch or a low one, these sandals will be made to best fit your needs.

Two pair of Rondini sandals purchased this year!

One can never have enough sunglasses.  Izipizi, a brand of readers that I like, has a pop-up shop in St. Tropez. When we were in St. Trop, I stopped by and purchased a pair of the reader sunglasses. I love them. Under 50 USD, they are very-well constructed and the “reader” factor means I do not have to constantly change glasses.  I love the style.  Bringing useful items home is always a plus because you will have fond memories and take extra-special care of the items.

A small purchase with a big impact. These reader sunglasses were an excellent buy!

Who doesn’t love pretty underwear?  I purchased two bras and some matching panties at the Geant Hypermarché.  At approximately 8 euros for the bras and 7 for the panties, this was a steal. I regret not purchasing more.  After checking the size conversion chart, my French size is a beautiful fit.  And the bras are just so comfortable and lift without padding.  You don’t have to break the bank to buy delicate and gorgeous underwear in France. Groceries and underwear could not be easier in one-stop shopping!

my 36 C is 95 D in France and fits beautifully.

Found at the hypermarche! Who needs luxury shopping when you have this?

In addition, I purchased two pairs of regular reading glasses.  I go through these like a baby goes through wipes during every diaper change.  These glasses are sturdy and look great.

Was glad to have found these.  If you are on vacation and see a great pair of reading glasses for an inexpensive price–buy them!

Oh, and if you are a cook or baker, you can bring a few useful items home—just make sure they are in your checked luggage or you can say bye-bye to them.

These traveled well in our checked luggage.

Random other stuff:  We picked up touristy tee shirts in St. Tropez. Why not? It’s fun. I also purchased a vintage-style baseball cap in Cannes to add to my collection.  There are times, like at the beach, when I just do not want to wear a wig and the casquette, or baseball cap, is a fun souvenir and practical one too—it adds protection from the sun.

Left to right:  A Cannes bb cap for me, a Monaco bb cap for Roman, a very touristy tee shirt for me.


Duty-Free:  Yet another reason to arrive early to the airport is duty-free shopping.  You can find pretty good deals. In the past I have gotten great buys on Longchamp and Repetto but these days, I go for more every-day purchases.   If you like luxury makeup, duty-free is an excellent option.  I picked up a Chanel cream bronzer that was sold out in the states and I love it!

Duty-free is your friend!

It made me very happy to purchase the Chanel cream bronzer at the duty-free price!

In addition, I recently ran out of my La Petite Robe Noir parfum by Guerlain.  Duty-free had it and I added a new scent to my collection. Éclat d’Arpege by Lanvin.  It’s an update of sorts to the original Arpege; a scent that my mother used to wear.  Try a different scent. Luckily, this turned out to be a winner.  A light, floral but not too sweet scent that doesn’t trigger a headache—it’s nice for spring and summer.

You cannot beat duty-free for parfum. I should’ve purchased two La Petite Robe Noirs. 

Other than purchasing Crème de Cassis at the hypermarche, you can find it at duty-free.  And this is the good stuff and the price is right!

Our cabinet is now full of Cassis!

Another tip for those who enjoy cooking and baking.  Buy French recipe magazines.  First, it is fun to translate the recipes—it really helps with learning the French language. Secondly, most of the recipes look good!

It’s always a fun challenge to translate the recipes into English.

And it’s even more of a fun challenge to decipher the juicy gossip magazines!

Save the shopping bags.  If you have little gifts to give during the year, you can present them, nicely wrapped in a shopping bag from France (or any country you visit) It’s that little extra!

A few of the shopping bags I have not given away yet.

Other stuff: 

  • Get in touch with your iPhone company to be placed on a travel plan for the time you are away.
  • Call your credit card company and your bank to ensure that you will be away so you can protect yourself while traveling.
  • If using a car while traveling, keep a Ziploc plastic bag filled with European change for tolls.
  • Make sure you have electrical adapters to charge your phone or camera. Better yet, keep them in your suitcase and do not unpack them when you arrive home.
  • The parking lot. Take a photo of your car and the number of the space it is in. You will not be doing a Seinfeld upon arrival home.
  • Pack baby wipes. Baby wipes. The toilet paper overseas isn’t exactly as soft as here and you want to take care of your heinie. It’s precious.  In addition, Europeans don’t use facecloths the way we Americans do. I remove makeup with baby wipes then I rinse them out and use as ad-hoc washcloths.
  • Leave the “good” jewelry at home.  You can find inexpensive necklaces, bracelets and earrings at Walmart or Amazon.   You don’t want to lose the good stuff.
  • If you are not comfortable carrying your luxury bag, leave it home!  I traveled with my LV Neverfull this time.  It carries a ton of stuff and I’m fine with it getting a bit banged up. It has to go under the seat on the plane and can get squashed. No big deal.  If you are nervous about that. Find a different bag.

at-the-airport-parking-lot | Atypical 60

Take a photo of your car in the parking lot. This was from a past trip to Paris. 

If you are not comfortable taking your luxury bag on a trip, leave it home!!  I don’t mind taking my LV Neverful because it holds a ton of stuff. The pouch that came with the tote, I used quite a bit when we ran errands and when we went out to dinner.  The Wythe Hotel tote on the right has been coming with me since 2015. It works as a beach bag, pool bag, everyday tote and a grocery bag. It is, hands down, THE best multitasking tote I’ve ever had.  Wythe Tote Bag Link

The Best Beauty Tips I can Offer:  Because the sun gives a gorgeous glow, foundation, skin tints, cc creams are not needed.  Even using sunscreen, you’ll achieve a nice color.  The only makeup I travel with in the summer is eye makeup and lip gloss.   I found a great waterproof brow pencil on Amazon that traveled with me and it was wonderful to swim in the water and not lose my brows.

If there was one thing I could seriously suggest to women it is to invest in a wig or two and travel with them.  Hair loss or a full head of hair, wigs for a vacation or travel in general should be essential and normalized.

Back when I had an almost full head of hair, I would spend hours blow drying and styling after a day at the pool.  Or I would spend quite a chunk of change getting a wash and blow out (and I must say the best ones I received were in France).

Now, I literally plop a wig on my head and head out. It’s incredible.  Curly, straight, bobbed, beachy.  So many looks in seconds.

Some of the wigs I wore on vacation: Top left is Brooklyn by Estetica Designs. Top Right is Finn by Estetica Designs. Bottom Left is Avalon by Estetica Designs and Bottom Right is Brave the Wave by Raquel Welch wigs.

I cannot really think of anything else except to say that traveling is such a wonderful thing to welcome into our lives.  It is the perfect way to educate yourself about different people and cultures and you do not have to be wealthy to do so.

Hope this helped in some little way and enjoy the summer no matter where you go!



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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12 Responses to Travel Tips and Tip Top Takeaways

  1. Karen says:

    Interesting and useful stuff! I was kinda wondering if you actually went swimming with a wig, but I see the baseball cap helps in the light haired department. I was following all the rioting going on throughout France that seemed to be taking place while you were there. Did any of that happen in your area? I’m glad for you if it didn’t; you were very fortunate!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Karen, No. I didn’t swim with a wig. I chopped my “bio” hair (what’s left of it) into a short bob. For some reason it looks like I have more hair. I swam with my hair pulled back in a twirly-do. I figured who cares if anyone sees my bald spots. I saved the wigs for time out of swimming. The baseball caps work wonders because they aren’t exclusively a tourist thing. Many women wear the bb caps at the beach and pool!

  2. Nancy says:

    So helpful and very interesting.

    Wondering if you have tried or will be trying out Jones Road Makeup…very curious about it…but so hard to know colors/quality from just on line with only one or two stores in the NYC area and no retailers sell it….on line only. I trust you and your reviews.

    Very good point on taking some time on trips to just relax and not pack full days every single day…that is my usual inclination…to see as much as possible in case I never get back to a specific location.

    I have looked at Lily dresses but the reg. length always seems to short for me…I am 5’6 but have heavy legs so if its not below knee…not for me. How tall are you? I always admire how nice you look in shorts/ pants/ cute dresses…you can wear anything and look great.

    Glad to have all your recent posts and happy you had such a fun and well deserved trip.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Nancy, I’m a fan of Jones Road. It’s a foolproof brand and the shades are pretty-much flattering on everyone. The miracle balms are really good but I don’t use them in the summer. It’s too hot and sweaty for that kind of balm on my face. The eyeshadows and lip colors are wonderful. Overall, it’s a very mature-friendly cosmetics brand.
      I’m 5 six. They are short and my legs aren’t thin but for me, comfort is essential in the summer months. I chose comfort over anything else! LOL!

  3. Susan says:

    You travel like we do! Apartment rentals, grocery stores, cooking in sometimes. It’s wonderful to have your coffee in the AM without having to doll up! I love the grocery stores and hypermarkets in France. Bringing home stuff is fun, I’ve brought glasses cases from Italy, gloves, scarves, purse, cosmetics, wine, cheese, butter- fun fun!!
    Your apartment is gorgeous, and the washer is a big plus! Thank you for taking us along with you..
    And I agree about the people who pack a full size carryon for every kid and then try to stuff it in your bin. Give me a break!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Susan, Yeah. You cannot beat spending time in an apartment. And the more you do it, the better you are of living like the locals! It’s fun. Coffee in the AM at “home” is the best! I don’t want to get dolled up because after coffee it’s swimming and I’m not putting a full face on to hop in the water! It’s funny because the community we rent in, is very affluent and people do NOT appreciate being showy. This summer a family arrived at the pool, nanny in tow, the mother wearing all designer clothing while the father was the one in the pool with the kids. The mother was being observed very carefully by the residents and they were not giving looks of approval.
      Yeah, the kids w. carryons is ridiculous. Most of them can barely wheel or carry their own luggage!

  4. J says:

    Such a helpful post with a dose of your clever personality! Thanks for many good suggestions. I will be saving this in my travel folder.

  5. Momcat says:

    Thanks for sharing your travels with us and the follow up tips! I agree that any vacation that is seven days or longer renting an apartment/beach house/ cottage is the way to go. You can eat what you want when you want and when you go out can experience pricier restos with the $$ you save. It’s fun to hang out at grocery stores and how nice is it to pick up food for supper and a bottle of wine to go with it?
    100% agree with at least trying to speak the language of the country you are visiting.
    At least learn how to say Hello, Good bye, thank you and the all important où sont les toilettes? Acknowledging staff when entering a store is really important in most European countries even in Québec Bonjour ( or more casual Salut) is expected when inter acting with staffers at restaurants or stores or anywhere. No server will freak out if you ask them to translate before ordering…my friend was noshing away on some anguille fumé that came as an amuse bouche and asked the server what it was…he told her it was smoked eel LOL her face turned green…it was very good.
    Also agree with your sight see one day/ lazy day next day itinerary. We used to do that when travelling with the kids..I needed the break too…because if mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy… especially when travelling because Ma has earned her vacation too!
    Glad you’re back, are you heading to Paris in November?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Al, and glad you enjoyed this post. I’m a firm believer in not doing too much. While I realize for many, a European vacation to multiple countries is a trip of a lifetime, but time is needed to just relax and enjoy. I become irritated when I hear people speaking of how many places they went to on vacation as opposed to coming back having spent quality time. As we drove through Cannes one morning a ton of travelers had been dropped off from a cruise ship. Every. Single. One. of them looked miserable. They walk around and gape. Not much of their money is spent so it really isn’t doing much for tourism. And please…just say a few words in the country’s language!

  6. Juliet says:

    Gutted that this probably ends the lovely holiday we have now had to the south of France, but those are brilliant tips. In fact, a lot of those tips about what-do-you-actually-reach-for? are a good suggestion for day to day living. I did have a checklist the last time I went on a sunny break of all the things I packed, and I was going to tick all the things I used (cough, I lasted about 3 days before I was distracted but I will try again as it did help focus my tiny mind)… Another vital tip, and this I find applies to anywhere I go just about, is that you can (if you want/need) buy the odd thing once there and funnily enough it is often more suited to your destination in terms of weight, style, colour etc – and you can bring it back as a wee reminder, a tee shirt barely takes any space, the husband bought a sun hat in Tenereife this year which he is inordinately fond of. Those Rondini are a perfect example.

    I also agree quality over quantity time – these days showing off however many places you have been to and ticked off impresses no one and suggests an utterly crap time, especially as it seems so profligate in terms of fuel and opportunity. There is a grim faced relentless look of people marching from one site to another with a list in their heads – easily spotted, why didnt they just stay home if they were hating it so much? And yes, a few words or phrases – hello, goodbye, please, thank you, I’m so sorry I dont speak much… along with a few manners, always helpful.

  7. Tony Bilby says:

    Great article

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