Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Travel Marm’s Packing List

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

So you’re going on a trip? Fantastic! Nothing is more exciting than breaking out your suitcase, travel tote or backpack, and those smaller sized ziplock bags! This 100% Pure zippered pouch comes with awesome, organic facial products.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

I have bought the items below multiple times because I haven’t packed them, but now I’m armed and ready to go. So Don’t Leave Home Without:

Ziplock bags. Small size. Somehow they disappear like socks in the dryer. You can never have enough.

Converters. A few to several of the cheap, #3 kind.  You will need them for your phone charger, laptop and/or tablet chargers. And– hair styling tools!

Phone Car Charger. Thanks, Wendy, for reminding me of this! The best way to keep up battery while on the road.

Wine Bottle Opener. Hotels will not supply these. Be sure to put it in checked luggage; you can’t carry them on a flight.

Plastic Water Bottle with a top. This makes me force hydration, and in many countries buying plastic water bottles is $$.

Umbrella. Small.

Light Rain Coat.

Ear Plugs. Get as much sleep as you can. My last hotel in northern Italy was on the village square next to the clanging bells of a  baroque church. At 7 AM.

Nail tools. Being desperate for a nail file or a nail clipper ruins an afternoon, so bring them.

Bandaids. For blisters.

Neo Sporin ointment. For blisters and any other scrape that could become infected.

Tylenol or Ibuprofen. 

Sunscreen.  Even on urban, city trips you will be outside longer than you normally are.

Copies of passport or driver’s license.  Put these in a suitcase and separate from the real documents in case of theft or loss.

International Driver’s License. Make sure you do the easy, quick process to get it or you can’t pick up your rental car outside of the USA.


Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Girls’ Get Aways!

Do you sigh and smile like I do when you think of your daughter? Mine  is almost 24. I am 52. We are at a place of mutual adoration, but we hiked some mountains to get here.  I christened her HRH at age 16; she has since moved on to Gracious-Hardworking-Totally Kick Ass. )  HRH’sgirlhood was an easy tomboyhood filled with energy, smiles, athletics, then dance. Middle School Madness was a roller coaster of mini drama-bouts. Then HIgh School was an Ice Age of communication and emotion, kind of like living in North Viet Nam with no internet. College became friendly, and I earned  Acceptable Mom Clearance.

She even told me that she realized I was right and knew everything when she was 19. I waited 19 years for that. 

Transition to Real Life from University Utopia was a bee-yatch, but she snapped into Reality Bites and working full time , and being poor in New -York in a few months. Then we started having Real Conversations, and they just keep coming.  So I want to take her on a Mother Daughter getaway and have her all to myself. Join us?

January, or Dryuary is well over and it is time for a Mother-Daughter Getaway to beat the Winter Blues.  Here are some suggestions from friends and family.

Bikini Boot Camp. Tulum, Mexico. Great name, huh? My friend Amy and her daughter Emma did this the first week in January and loved it. Bikini Boot Camp is an all-inclusive vacation including lodging, food, and regular, scheduled exercise and yoga options. Amy loved getting up first thing and practicing yoga to the sunrise.  The food is all fresh, additive and gluten free and served to you family style.  Get your Mind Body Connection jumpstarted at Bikini Boot Camp.

Canyon Ranch. Tucson, Arizona. This is the gold standard for spa and nutrition stays. I did this a couple of years ago with two girlfriends and I can’t wait to take my 23 year old daughter. There were scads of mother-daughters doing the Canyon Ranch Routine: eating small portions of superior, clean food, taking work out classes, going hiking, going to health seminars, and having spa services.  I learned so much at Canyon Ranch about nutrition, physiology, and of course portion control and cooking.   It is a Dry Resort, but we didn’t miss drinking due to CR’s delightful mocktails. (Well. Yes we did. ) High Points:  hiking in the Tucson mountains, lunch time cooking classes with Chef, nightly massage.  Be sure to call and ask directly about deals and specials and spa allowances; there are always a few doing.

Skiing in Vail, Colorado.  Vail is primo for its snow, skiing variety, and easy transportation. Flights to Denver are plentiful and direct from most places and the drive to Vail is a cinch via rental car or the Colorado Mountain Express.  I met my ski buddy Judy in Vail for a few years because of this. We like to stay at the Vail Cascade, which is reasonably priced for Vail and has a spa and work out facility attached. There are other, even more high end options in Vail or Beaver Creek.

Palm Springs, California.  Get out to the sunny desert in Palm Springs.  Palm Spring has several resorts, and its midcentury houses are a great drive-by diversion.  Did you know you can hike the hills and desert trails in Palm Springs? That would be my pick. The shopping  is also excellent. Tennis, anyone? I stayed at La Quinta, which is the primo tennis and spa weekend resort.  La Quinta has been around for generations and its Spanish colonial adobe architecture and gardens are outstanding.  It is a full blown tennis club offering the best pros, lessons, and clinics. (I am mentally planning a tennis team trip here.) Capital T for Tasteful,  The Riviera is at Starwood property with a full spa, tennis courts, pool, fitness center and awesome, reasonable rooms.

London, Paris, or Rome Off Season.  Cheerio! Bonjour! Bongiorno! Get some Culture, and great food and drink, and shopping in a world city. The best deals going are from British Airways. They offer packages of air fare and hotels; remember to pick a hotel that provides a complimentary breakfast. And see if there is also free afternoon tea or evening wine or aperitif.  We went to London on a BA package years ago; it was perfect. I’m happy to see they are offering the same packages now because I’m dying to take HRH to Paris.

Puerto Rico, Isla de Vieques.  Calling all Beach Babes! And East Coast Girls– the travel is just as easy as going to Cancun. The W Resort and Spa is calling your name: margaritas or mojitos served to you on the beach and a massage later. For you  Boutique Hotel Ladies the Hacienda Tamarindo offers just 17 rooms with a killer breakfast and all manner of spa services.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is not an international trip, BTW. There are now flights into Santa Fe, but flying into Albuquerque, New Mexico and driving 50 minutes to Santa Fe remains an option.  Santa Fe feels like a different country with an architecture and cuisine dominated by Spanish Colonial and Native American cultures.  The town center boasts adobe building from the 1600’s.  The food scene is unspeakably good: Inn of the Anasazi, Cafe Pasquale, and more.  Santa Fe has the best concentration of fine arts in a spectacular mountain setting. Museums: the Georgia O’Keefe, the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, the Folk Art Museum and more. Performing Arts: The Santa Fe Opera in the summer, music, dance, and more. The visual art scene of its world famous galleries has been around for decades. And, the Japanese spa 10,000 Waves offers spa services in traditional, Japanese style.


Travel Marm Packing Essentials

New Orleans for Empty Nesters

Need a mid-winter lift? Get thee to New Orleans, or NOLA, for divine food and drink, amazing architecture, and an escape into French America.  New Orleans’ old world vibe,  spectacular food, music, lush Adoubon park,  and opulent historic houses in the Garden District really transport you from daily American living to its European, old world ambient.    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

Transportation:  Uber,  taxi, and the St. Charles Street Car that goes from the French Quarter to Uptown  Accommodations: New Orleans Hotels

Lunch: We went immediately to Brennan’s in the French Quarter. Recently restored, Brennan’s is an old school New Orleans standby specializing in a long, languorous brunch with bloody mary’s, mimosas, or champagne. The dessert Bananas Foster was invented at Brennan’s.  Between the three of us we had an omelet, shrimp creole salad, and coq au vin, or backed chicken in wine sauce.

Walk Around the French Quarter:  There was jazz on the street! The quarter always has jazz bands busking on corners. See old French and Creole-style buildings with wrought iron on narrow, paver-set streets. It is just fun to walk around and window shop in antique stores, vintage jewelry stores, galleries and all types and grades of restaurants and bars.

Uber to Mardi Gras World:  See where Mardi Gras is made! Mardi Gras World creates the floats for Mardi Gras as well as for other parades around the world. It is like a huge scale Santa’s Toy Shop in their studio-warehouses and there is a self-guided tour. Stroll outside to the docks and see the barge and tugboats of New Orleans.

Cocktail at your hotel or in an outdoor French Quarter bar.

Dinner at Commander’s Palace. You eat big and fancy here; all stops are pulled out. The gumbo appetizer and the warm dessert souffle is not to be missed.

Day 2. Breakfast at your hotel.  Magazine Street and Uptown. :   Take the St. Charles Ave. streetcar from Canal St. and get off at First or Second St.m about a 15-minute trip. Walk through the famed Garden District neighborhood toward Magazine St. There are Garden District tours available of the historic houses and gardens.  When you get to Magazine Street, turn right, then walk the stretch between Washington and Napoleon, which is full of restaurants, shops, and bars.  Have an espresso and walk all the way up to big, beautiful Audubon Park .  You can take a bus, the  #11 Magazine Street or a cab back to the French Quarter for some coffee with chicory and beignets at Cafe du Monde,  or to your hotel.

Pack up at the hotel and get ready to catch a late afternoon or evening flight, or stay another night and eat at Galatoire’s in the Quarter and head up to a bar on Magazine Street.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials


See the Instant Itinerary in this post!  See the Stockholm Day 1 Longform article for details and impressions.

My One and Only and I walked Stockholm for four days, and we loved every clean, beautiful, ordered thing about it. Here is our Day 1 itinerary.

Arrival: We took the Arlanda Express train into Stockholm and checked into our sleek, Swedish hotel, the Nobis in Normalm. It was 7 AM. The breakfast buffet was stocked with the Euro-usual: fruit, muesli, yogurt, bread, ham, salami, cheese, and oh . . . . smoked reindeer, and some lingonberry jam.

Site 1: Gamla Stan. 2 hours. We strode the 15 minutes over a canal to Gamla Stan, the old city. It houses the current royal palace, Kungliga Slottet, and museums, churches, squares, shops, restaurants, bars, and schools. We saw the changing of the Royal Guard, 

Kungliga Slottet is the type of opulent palace seen all over Europe. It even had its own Hall of Mirrors and the collection of precious stone medals was impressive. 

Gamla Stan’s mustard, russet, and pine colored buildings and the cobblestones make it fun to walk around. The restaurants are overtly touristy, and there are many nordic curio shops.

Break:  Espresso HouseWhile traveling, we all need a second place to rest, get coffee and snacks, use free wifi, study maps, and pore over the travel books we didn’t read before the trip. The Espresso House is the second place in Stockholm. There are everywhere, they have free wifi, and the coffee is superior. And Espresso House serves warm, crunchy-gooey paninis; there are plenty of chocolate opportunities as well.

Tour 1: 2.5 hours The best way to see the big scale of Stockholm and the full panorama of its Baltic setting is to see it by boat. I had bought our tickets for the Stockholm Bridges and Canals tour online from, a tour-clearing house site. But there was no need to do so. Several boat tour ticket booths lined the two main tourist harbors.

The tour pulled us out of the main harbor and took us around a loop toward Lake Mälaren, adjacent to the harbor. We went under several old city canal bridges and then went through a canal lock near trendy Sodermalm that evened up the waterway for the boat to enter Lake Malaren. We saw parts of Stockholm we could have never seen if we had stayed on foot. 

Cocktail Hour. Grand Hotel Stockholm. We beat jetlag! How divine that glass of rosé was at the outdoor bar next to the old hotel. 

Dinner:  Sushi at MBK Restaurant. Walking distance through the outdoor mall in Normalm.


“So the Vasa ship isn’t a Viking ship!” I said too loudly at breakfast. Nobody looked at me; they don’t do that in Sweden. You just get ignored, which is better anyway.

The Vasa warship was a war vessel commissioned in 1628 by King Gustavus Adolfus to strike fear into the Polish navy stationed across the Baltic. Too bad it sank almost immediately after its premature launch in Swedish Baltic waters.

Walk 1: After loading up on breakfast and pots of coffee, we walked a couple of miles along the Strandvagen boulevard next to the bay to Djurgården island which houses the Vasa Museum. Bike lanes, pedestrian lanes, and car lanes lined up in parallel on Strandvagen with sturdy, identical lines of poplar trees dating from the late 1700’s. Not a car or a person out of place, Swedish style. 

Site 1: Vasa Museum. The museum shrouds the Vasa ship like a grand wedding-tent, soaring five stories with masts like a spider web of wood. No machines, industrial factories, or robots were used on the Vasa. Just droves of shipbuilders in an outdoor foundry and lumber yard on Djurgården island.

The Best Part: We then strolled to the anthropology displays. Swedish forensic anthropologists have taken the bones and teeth of the drowning victims, and they have re-constructed detailed personal histories and even human-sized models of them. Ship workers and servants sustained injuries like broken bones and missing fingers and toes during their hard, short lives. Their brittle, often missing teeth revealed diets poor in nutrients. The anthropologists listed their illnesses and injuries, and they gave them authentic names like Lars, Gunnar, and Greet.

Lunch: Guess where we went to lunch? You’re right: Espresso House! After leaving the Vasa museum we walked down the Strandvagen along the bay toward the hotel. As usual, the tomato and mozzarella panini and cappuccino hit the spot.