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Tag: travel

Pro Packing Tips for your Vacation Tech

Joining this Colgate University reunion torchlight ceremony with hundreds of other alumni after a two-year delay was especially meaningful. Packing my tech for this weekend trip took a bit longer than I expected. If it’s been a while since your last vacation, you might also need a refresher on packing your gear. Here are my top tips…

Going on vacation again with my family after more than two years into this pandemic has been amazing. Our recent New Orleans trip and drive to our college reunion weekend both felt like the good old days.

But my packing powers were a bit rusty. Sure, I brought the right clothes (mostly), but when it came to certain peripheral supports for my tech, I didn’t score 100%.

If you feel you could also benefit from a few reminders, here are my pro packing tips for your tech.

Remember to Take a Small Power Strip
It’s rare to find enough plugs in your room to charge your tech when you’re on vacation. I find it especially helpful to set up a charging station using a small power strip with a short extension cord. (Plus, it’s so easy to pack.)

The mini power strip also keeps all of your charging cables in one place and reduces the chance that you’ll leave anything behind.

Carry a Peak Design Backpack as a Personal Item on your Flight
If you’re planning on flying with your camera and travel tripod, and you want to pack it into a bag that will fit under the plane seat in front of you (as a personal item), you’d better pull out a tape measure and start measuring dimensions. No matter what, it’s going to be tight!

For our New Orleans vacation, I bought a Peak Design V2 30L Everyday Backpack. It just barely squeezed in on board both flights, but it did! (phew)

And then this knapsack was the perfect travel companion on my back as we walked about New Orleans.

Pack a Thermos with Tomorrow Morning’s Coffee
I’m an early riser and always like to have my first cup of coffee as soon as I get up. If you’ve driven somewhere where breakfast doesn’t start for another hour or two, you might be out of luck finding an immediate cup of Joe. But not if you already have your coffee with you!

I brewed a pot of Peet’s Major Dickenson’s coffee right before we drove to our Colgate reunion, poured it into my hi-tech Yeti thermos and then packed it in the car. Early, the next morning, I unscrewed the top of the thermos, lifted it to my face and was delighted to still sense faint warmth. No, my coffee wasn’t at all hot anymore, but it was absolutely fine for this need.

Use your Apple Watch as a Silent Wake-Up Alarm
If you’re thinking of ditching your Apple Watch on your next family trip, don’t!

Whenever my family is sleeping in the same room on vacation, I don’t want to wake everyone up with my early alarm on my iPhone. That’s when I continue to wear my Apple Watch during the overnight hours. Its silent, vibration-only morning alarm is perfect for this purpose. A little haptic action on my wrist is all I need to start my day.

One thing… I normally charge up my Apple Watch at night. So if that doesn’t happen, I have to remember to immediately do it before breakfast.

Bring your Apple TV
If you want your hotel room TV to mirror the streaming options on your home TV, packing your little Apple TV puck just might do the trick. Just connect your Apple TV to the hotel’s Wi-Fi and the TV’s HDMI cable.

I’ve found this kind of MacGyver maneuver works best with less advanced hotel Wi-Fi systems that don’t require signing in with anything more than a password. If you’ve got to first navigate through a hotel web portal to sign in, the Apple TV will get stuck.

Write Down your Streaming Apps’ Passwords
If you don’t end up taking your streaming puck on vacation, you might be surprised to find one already connected to your hotel room TV. (That’s what we found in our New Orleans B&B.) If that’s the case, all you have to do is sign into your streaming accounts. Of course, you’ll need your passwords for that!

And when you’re packing up to leave, don’t forget to sign out of your streaming apps!

Travel Back to the Future
Going on vacation again can be a big step towards returning to the normal patterns of life. And if playing with your tech is part of your vacation fun, then I say bring it and enjoy!

Kid-Friendly Vacation Activities in New Orleans

Traveling to New Orleans doesn’t have to be all about Bourbon Street. I’ve got a few tips from our family trip.

New Orleans is actually a great place to take your family on a little vacation. We traveled there over spring break and really enjoyed exploring the city, learning about its history, listening to jazz, and of course eating all of that great food. It didn’t hurt that the French Quarter Festival happened to be going on during our last couple of days.

A key ingredient to our vacation’s success was doing a lot of our exploration on foot. That’s the way to really get a good sense of a city. As my sixth grader, wife and I all enjoy a good hike, it wasn’t a problem racking up some serious city-walking mileage.

If you’re considering a similar adventure and one that specifically avoids Bourbon Street, here are a few of our own highlights. A big shout out goes to my wife for doing the research to identify these peak experiences.

Spooky Family Ghost Tour by Unique NOLA Tours
We learned about the many ghosts haunting houses in the French Quarter. And along the way, we also got a nice New Orleans history lesson. It’s important to have a great storyteller as a guide, and we got really lucky with Dane Rhodes. He’s a local actor who’s been in a variety of movies in small roles. He told our tour group that his claim to fame was we’ve probably seen a movie on TV with his face exploding. Enough said.

Crescent Bike Tour by Buzz Nola
The only limitation to a good walking tour is you can only travel so far. The solution is to expand your reach on a bicycle. This three-hour bike tour took us to the amazing City Park and its live oak trees, the beautiful riverfront as well as Cemetery #3, where we learned about the complex process of managing generations of family members in above-ground tombs.

Audubon Park in the Garden District
To expand your view even further, you can jump on the St. Charles Streetcar and head out to the beautiful Garden District and Audubon Park near Tulane and Loyola universities. (The Audubon Zoo is also in the park, though we didn’t take the time to go there.)

A super lunch spot a few blocks outside the park is Tartine at 7217 Perrier Street.

Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour
If you really want to get out of town, then a swamp tour 45 minutes outside of the city is a worthwhile half-day excursion. (A bus picks you up in the French Quarter.) If you’re looking to see some alligators and other cool wildlife up close, this is the perfect boat tour.

HH Whitney House Bed and Breakfast
There are plenty of hotel options in New Orleans, but staying at a bed and breakfast really enhanced our experience. We loved our time at the HH Whitney House Bed and Breakfast just northwest of the French Quarter. (We had a two bedroom suite with a private bath.)

It’s located at 1923 Esplanade Avenue (about a 25 minute walk to the center of the French Quarter) and run by Glen Miller.

Beyond enjoying a fantastic home-cooked breakfast each morning, we really appreciated Glen’s hospitality and recommendations for where to go and what to do. Not that you can’t do your own research, but it was so great having a home base with someone looking out for you. By the end of our five days in New Orleans, it felt like we were staying with a close friend. Glen is simply fabulous.

Bring your Camera!
Finally, no vacation is complete without the opportunity to spend some time taking photos. And of course, New Orleans offered plenty of visuals for me to capture.





Time to Dust off your Luggage

After two years of relative isolation during the pandemic and really three years since our last family trip by plane, it felt so energizing jetting to Louisiana and exploring a different part of our country with my family.

Two final recommendations:
Praline Beignets from Loretta’s
Café au Lait from Café Du Monde

Yum.

Offbeat Photo Moments from our London Vacation

If you’re expecting iconic London photography, there’s nothing more to see here. If you’re hoping for something a little different, well then… I might have something for you. Unique or throwaway? You decide!

My family and I have recently returned from a week’s vacation in London, and yes, I snapped more than a few pictures along the way. As part of my little photographic exercise, I also attempted something a little different…

In addition to finding iconic shots as well as any number of family selfies, I tried to also observe our London experience using a different eye. So, I took a few photos that represented the story of our trip from an alternate perspective… imagery that you might easily miss (as well as a few that were entirely impossible to ignore).

These offbeat moments were right in front of us. I just had to open my eyes a bit wider or turn my head in a different direction to spot them…

Sunrise at Heathrow Airport
When you’re walking off the jetway at 6am after your seven-hour flight, you’re probably not taking the time look out the window towards the airport. Well, you should… a sunrise is beautiful just about anywhere!

Kensington Gardens
As I experienced a little jet lag on our first morning, I stumbled through Kensington Gardens on a cloudy day. Then, suddenly this moment presented itself. My vacation had officially begun!

The Elphin Oak
I found this delightful sculpture filled with fairies, elves and animals at the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.

British MuseumDon’t forget to look up! This skylight ceiling bathed visitors with blue-cast sunlight seemingly from an alternate reality.

The London EyeWhile everyone else was looking up and over London, this reverse view down was really cool.

Cutty Sark
For me, viewing the hull of this restored 19th century clipper ship from this angle was the true highlight.

Tower of London
Sure, everyone races to see the Crown Jewels. But the Tower of London tour also houses many other treasures, including the opportunity for my third grader to get close to chainmail armor.

Hungry Raven
My son spotted this peculiar moment as this hungry Tower of London guardian tried to figure out how to get inside an already-open Pringles can.

Tower Bridge
I got the complete view by looking up to look down.

Lock Hatters
My father visited this iconic hat store on St. James’s Street 60 years ago and recommended I stop by and ask if they remembered him. While I stopped short of asking the very proper salesman to check their records, I did FaceTime my dad while we were walking through Lock Hatters and facilitated a reunion of sorts.

The View on St. James’s Street
This view had a timeless feel. So I quickly pulled out my iPhone XS Max to capture the image.

Ceiling at King’s Cross Station
The grafting of this ceiling extension using such a modern design onto this old structure is both radical and brilliant.

Chilly Night by the Thames
A hot chocolate street vendor provided some additional heat to help this pop-up café also serve as a warming station.

Silent Disobedience
This doesn’t appear to be much of an accident…

The Tube
Riding the Underground was our total transportation solution. It felt more cushy than NYC’s subway cars, but the space was also a bit tighter and rounder. Mind your head!

Red Telephone Box
A phonebooth? Still? How quaint.

Sunset over London
Both a sunrise and a sunset during a London trip?! That’s definitely worth calling out. And a nice way to end our little photographic journey across the pond!

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