This post brought to you by TownePlace Suites by Marriott®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of NellieBellie.
As many of you know, Janel and I are 2 of 10 children. Many of our siblings are spread out across the country making it difficult to see everyone. Last week, I had an opportunity to travel to Alaska to see our sister Darla, number 3, in Anchorage, Alaska. A chance that absolutely could not be passed up!
I've traveled a lot, in many ways (car, train, plane), and in many styles (African safari!), and have good experience in traveling for long distances and long trips. The quick trips are fairly simple because you can pack everything in your carry-on and make it easy. Those trips where you get into checking a bag (or multiple!) are when it starts to get a bit crazy. And unorganized. And frankly, exhausting.
Hotels are exhausting after a couple days. They are fun at first, but you don't ever seem to get comfy, organized, or feeling like home. I have to say that when I went up to Alaska I stayed in a TownePlace Suites by Marriott® and LOVED it. It wasn't just an ordinary hotel. My room had a full kitchen (with dishes and pans and everything), office area, and space that was just well set up! The hotel itself had a laundry room on site and all sorts of features you would need after a few days. The continental breakfast was healthy and the staff super friendly. I got in really late, after their airport shuttle stopped running, so they even paid for my cab ride out to the hotel. Cheers to TownePlace Suites® for making my Alaska trip all sorts of comfy!
This girl needed to bring some serious wardrobe possiblities on my trip. What on earth do you wear in Alaska? I knew I needed winter gear, obviously. But I also needed clothes for around town. And for pictures. Gotta look cute for pictures. As per usual, my suitcase exploded upon arrival. Thank goodness for that elfa® closet solution! (Check the TownePlace Suites® website for locations featuring these closets)
You never know when a cute dress is needed! And Janel made it perfectly clear I was expected to scout out for lumberjack men (sadly, no lumberjacks were found). So I brought most of my wardrobe with me. Thankfully, TownePlace Suites® and The Container Store® fixed all that mess for me with their fantastic elfa® closet solution (right! a hotel with an organizer in the closet). I didn't realize how helpful that really would be, until I had one. Explosion, gone!
How about these boots (dang, I'm glad I was able to bring them along!)...
Darla and I went out for dinner, saw the sights, went and visited her place of work, and all sorts of fun. I found Alaska to be absolutely charming, beautiful, and calm. It was so much more quiet than I expected.
I found that I didn't need all those changes of clothes, after all. Flannel, jeans, and boots fit in perfectly. Although, anything fits in with that gorgeous scenery!
Oh gosh, you MUST see this photo I captured while out in the country side. (I rented a car for the day and traveled up into the mountains a bit to get to a gorgeous little village with FANTASTIC VIEWS!). You can't help but stop and breathe for a few minutes while up in Alaska. There just doesn't seem to be any reason to move so quickly (maybe nothing to get to :)) that you miss the beauty. The train happened by while I was out shooting photos of the mountain. I cannot describe to you how excited I was that I got this shot (Janel is the photo pro!) of a moving train!
I want to leave you with some of the tips Janel and I have gathered over the years of travel. Many of you probably know and use these, but perhaps there is a nugget of new information that will make your travels easier and less stressful!
Tips for long-term travel stays:
- Choose your hotel well.
Not always do you have control of this, we know. But if you do, pick a hotel such as the TownePlace Suites by Marriott® that caters to long-term stays. They are worth their weight in gold!
- Plan your itinerary.
As much as you can, have a plan. Know where you want to go (or not go), what the cost will be, what you need to have prepared in advance. Think about renting cars, purchasing tickets, having proper clothes on hand. And if possible, leave your itinerary with someone at home in case they need to get ahold of you. If your family worries, pop a photo on a group thread of you at that next destination. They can breathe easier AND see a cute photo!
- Pack carefully.
Pack clothes that match each other for maximum use. Be aware of if you will have laundry service available to you. If you do, bring accessories that add variety to your outfit (think scarves, flats, & necklaces) allowing you to wash your clothes. And roll your clothes versus folding...you'll save loads of space! If you are worried about wrinkling, pick up a bottle of wrinkle releaser when you get to your destination. Don't pack everything. It's wise to plan a trip to the store when you get to your destination (unless where you are headed is terribly expensive!) for the larger items that you use.
If you are staying somewhere for longer than a couple of weeks think about travel insurance. It can help with lost luggage, medical emergencies, even evacuation. Not everyone will find it necessary but it may be worth checking into. Insurance for your phone and devices is also a good idea. Often you can add insurance just for a month. Do that before you leave in case of a lost or stolen phone.
- Cell phone.
Before you leave double check your data limits, coverage, and like mentioned in the first tip, insurance. Be sure that you can use your cell phone as needed. When you get to your destination check the connection and roaming charges right away so you can make adjustments. If traveling with children, think about getting the older ones an inexpensive disposable phone (teach them the necessary numbers) in case of an emergency.
Keep money in various denominations and in various spots. There is generally no need to carry large amounts of cash, just a bit. Be aware of your location and what is available if you need to get more funds. If you know that you can access an ATM or bank easily then your usual way of paying for things will suffice. We generally bring several pre-loaded cards and don't travel with our credit cards. Many banks offer cards that can be added to, if needed. Don't leave your cash in your hotel room. If you are traveling overseas think about having a traveler's check or two on hand, in case.
If you are traveling overseas (frankly, if you have children you should do this when traveling anywhere!) be sure that you have your medical information updated and paperwork with you. Check to see if the location you are going to will require (or prefer) particular vaccinations or medications. Be aware of any problems that you may encounter with personal allergies or conditions and bring plenty of medicine along. Have a plan in place if your medication is lost or stolen.
Always, always, always have your paperwork in order before you leave. Be sure all your paperwork is in place for flights, hotel rooms, proof of identity, even rental cars. Follow all the proper procedures for reserving each item, be sure to have the credit card in hand that was used for each (unless special provisions were made), and have any reservation numbers, account numbers, etc... The more paperwork you have, the better!
- Scout out what's important to you.
To us, coffee in the morning is vital. Having healthy meals is important. And, unless we've rented a car, transportation is necessary. When we get to the hotel the first thing we do is figure out coffee. We don't wait until the morning to figure it out, we do it right away. We will also look at the phone book, call the front desk, or even go on the internet to find what may be a great "home base" place to eat. Often we have picked a hotel based on transportation ability but if not, we figure that out right away. Usually right when we check in we ask about the hotel shuttle, location of mass transit, and any info we think may be necessary for getting around.
- Pick up supplies.
Before you get too far along into your stay stop for a few moments to pick up necessary supplies, snacks, and feel-goods. Head to the local store and grab that wrinkle releaser, bottle of conditioner, snacks, even a book or two. You are going to be there for quite some time so act like it! Don't wait until you are so starving that you buy the closest (and most expensive!) available snack...be prepared!
- Laugh at the crazy.
Inevitably, no matter how hard you plan, things go wrong. Embrace it. Life is an adventure. Travel is an adventure. And no adventure is without...adventure! So don't stress and freak when something goes wrong; fix it, laugh about it, learn from it, and move on. When things go wrong we have the BEST stories. Like that one time Janel was flying on a 17 hour flight from South Africa and fainted on the plane (long story!) waking up with an oxygen mask and multiple flight attendants surrounding her. Yes, I've heard that story MANY times. Definitely not a flight that went right, but she has a great story to tell!