Travel Happy: Minimalist Packing for Chamonix, France

The countdown to our French winter adventure has begun! A good friend is turning 40 and him and his wife wanted to celebrate in style…in France! Did I mention this good friend makes delicious wine, lived and studied in the Rhone Valley and has a mentor that will be throwing us a decadent wine dinner? Yeah, sign me up for that!

So the question of what to pack has arose. This is a trip where we will combine wine tasting in the Northern Rhone region of France, near Malleval, and skiing Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Two very different vibes – both equally amazing!

Having checked the luggage policy for Lufthansa, I found out we were allowed one carry on and one checked bag (we are flying economy class – got almost free tickets using our WellsFargo business CC points!). Because we will have our skis (putting them in one bag so it’s considered one checked!) Mike and I will have to share a bag. This is really not a problem, as I’m used to packing minimalistically for long trips. I didn’t even check a bag for our ten day trip to Portugal!  The weather will be a bit on the warmer side in Malleval (50’s) where we will spend the first 4 days,  and colder in Chamonix (20’s-40’s) where we’ll spend 5 days, with snow in the forecast, yay! But, dang, what to pack! Plus, it’s France, so I have to be presentable…..

With all of that considered, I put together a simple, classic, yet practical wardrobe that checks all the boxes. The first thing to consider: outerwear. I’m hoping we’ll do some hiking/walking in both Malleval & Chamoix, so needed warm, yet functional footwear. On the opposite end, we’ll be walking around historical sites, tasting wine, being very French, so need an easy (but cute) walking shoe. And with the chance of snow, have to bring the cute hats! I choose the below, and planned my color scheme around these colors: tan, navy blue, black, grey.

I’m bringing three hats – one beret, one ski cap, one furry flap hat – and mittens that will match it all. The sporty, yet cute Cole Haan boot will be worn on the trails and the slip ons pack beautifully – and are comfy!

I then thought about our time in Malleval, France…..touring the quaint villages, dining in French cafes, sipping French wine, hiking in Pilat National Park, getting wined and dined with Pierre Gaillard. And the weather would be mild – so I opted for skirts and dresses, all having layering options.

Next, I picked pants – one pair of jeans and two yoga pants – that I could dress up or down and all could be worn with interchangeable tops. And layering with a shawl or poncho – of which I was bringing three  (a grey, creme and a olive green one) – would keep me warm.

And the rest was easy – ski clothes (that I’d wear multiple days, sorry crew!) a bathing suite (hoping to hit some hot springs!) and toiletries, undergarments and pjs.

I’m beyond excited to explore the Rhone Valley, French Alps, and everywhere in between. And I’ll have packed for any and all adventures we encounter!

Bon Voyage!

Our Portugal Adventure: Day 1

Our trip had finally come – Portugal here we come! I had packed a few days prior to departure, Mike the night before, so we woke up on Thursday, October 11, hit the hot tub, took the dogs for a walk and hit the road! This was actually the earliest we had ever left for a trip, so it was a pleasant, non stressful morning. I had made a reservation at ParkDIA the night before, saving $2 per day, so we were off to a good start. Our total for the car(10 days) was only $70!

Our first flight to Philadelphia got delayed about an hour, which wasn’t a problem as our flight to Lisbon didn’t leave until 9:19 pm. After grabbing a quick bite & a beer, we were off on our first leg. We would be traveling for the next 24hours. Boarded, about to take off, and the captain signals that hurricane Michael’s wrath was interfering with the original flight route….so our runway path got shutdown and we had to wait for something to open up. Almost three hours later, at midnight, we finally took off. At least Mike and I didn’t have to share our row with anyone and were able to sleep a bit. I use that term very loosely as Mike is 6″4 and really doesn’t fold up nicely. But he made the best of it.

The flight, albeit extended 3 hours due to delays and turbulence, got us safely to Lisbon at 11:30 am local time, where we promptly got off the plane, exchanged money, and asked about the trains to Sinatra. In my original research, I thought we’d have to head into Lisbon’s town center to Rossio station but the friendly airport guide let us know to take the metro red lineup Ouieutte, get off and take the train to Sintra. Simple right!? It actually was extremely simple. And we actually made all connections without having to wait (even stopping at the ticket counter to buy tickets for the metro & Sintra).

Getting off at Sintra, the last stop on the train, I pulled up our Airbnb address, where we’d drop our bags and head out to grab a bite and explore. I had let our Airbnb owner know I wouldn’t have service, as I don’t get an international plan when traveling – both a liberating and terrifying concept, as we had rented Airbnbs throughout the country to were relying on WIFI at the places and google maps for directions. So glad I didn’t fret too much over this though, because we got to our temporary home with zero trouble and found the owners daughter cleaning. We were able to leave our heavy bags, as we were about an hour early, grabbed the key, and took off into the great unknown, in search of good food and refreshment. It was about 2:15pm at this time and the need to stretch our bones was something fierce. The weather was still humid, and although it wasn’t hot, hot, it was a perfect temperature to walk around in a dress or shorts, comfortably.

The narrow streets were alive with people, with tuk tuks and small vehicles whipping through the alleys. Seeing the local traffic, I was extremely glad we didn’t get a car for the first jaunt. Parking on hills, as steep as they come, in unfamiliar territory is not my cup of tea. Our digs were in what seemed to be a good location and we found a beautiful restaurant, Sabores do Mercado, to spend the next hour and a half. Wine, fish, local beer, olives….we had arrived!

After filling our bellies, we decided scope out the sites we wanted to check out in the morning. The train station had an information center so we walked down, asked about Quinta da Ragaleira – an old villa with extensive grounds and tunnel. Also on the list, Pena Palace, sitting high atop Sintra. Well, we walked up, and up, through the Parque da Liberdade, all the way to the top of the hill….to find a great deal of cafés, restaurants & shops….just not the castle circuit. Well, at least we got a good walk after having been cramped up in an airplane! We realized we had walk d all the way to Sao Pedro, a completely different town, which we’d find a shortcut to Pena Palace the next day. It pays to stay in a town a few days so you can scout out the sights.

The 6 mile walk had left us ready to put our feet up, so we headed down, stopped at a local grocery to get two bottles of wine and some water, then went in for the night. The dollar isn’t strong in Europe, but we found things to be relatively inexpensive here. Lunch, for instance, was 36Euro – but Mike had three beers and I had two large glasses of wine. Vino in the Mercado ranged from 1.50 – 3.40Euro – a steal, even with the conversion!

Although it was early, we had only sleept a few hours on the plane and were running on empty. At the house, we unpacked a bit, talked, drank wine and planned our next day’s adventures…and end d up in bed at 9pm. Cheers to our first day in Portugal!


Travel Happy: Packing for Portugal

Portugal is calling! We head to the oldest country in Europe, this Thursday October 11th for a ten day trip. I’m much more of a planner than Mike, so I took the weekend to organize our Itinerary and pack. Here again, Mike and I have two very different philosophies: Mike will wait till the night beforehand to pack a bag he wants to check…and I will spend a few hours, several days before I leave, to pack meticulously, in a bag I can carry on the plane, so the airline doesn’t loose my luggage.

When we decided to take this trip, we settled on October due to the off-season weather (it will be mid-seventies) and the minimal crowds (Europe in the summer is hot and crowded!). When deciding what I actually need on this trip, I took into account our activities, the forecast, and wanting to pack as light as possible. The coastal hiking in Portugal looks amazing, so hiking is high on our list of things we’ll be doing, along with kayaking and SUPing. The amount of historical sites, the castles, monetarists, wineries, and old villages are endless, overwhelming even! With the amount of walking we’ll be doing just sightseeing (we’re not renting a car for the first few days) on the gorgeous cobblestone streets, I feel comfortable flats and layers will be the perfect combo. So, I thought I’d write about how I’m tackling the packing for the wonderful adventure we’re about to embark on.

Packing fora trip to Portugal in the Fall (10 days total)

Tip: Pick a color theme, two or three staple colors you’ll coordinate all outfits around. Mine: Navy Blue, Grey & White/Tan

  1.  Yoga Pants (3 pairs) – I have pretty colorful yoga pants so I’m planning to dress them up a bit on the days I need to wear them to tour around. Portugal people are stylish, so walking around looking like a sloppy American tourist will not do!
  2. Linen pants (1 pair) – I am not a jeans girl, but understand I need a nicer pair of leg warmers as the fall in Portugal is a bit cooler at night (we’ll be on the coast a lot and plan to do water activities: kayak, SUP, charter a boat). These linen pants will be perfect boat attire.
  3.  Hiking/Active tops (2 tank tops -Wika/flexible/breathable & 1 long sleeve base layer) – these are clutch for an active day. We plan to hike part of the Fishermen’s Trail near the southern coast of Portugal (in the Algarve area of Portugal) and be outside as much as possible, so these will most likely be worn multiple times. Because we’ll be close to the ocean (and the weather looks a bit gloomy on some days) I thought the long sleeve would come in handy for layering. I can also wear this over or under the dresses I brought for a dress up look.
  4. Dresses (4) – I am a dress wear-er for sure. And while you’re traveling, these are so easy and versatile to throw on and pack! All the dresses I’m bringing can be dressed up or down depending on what I layer with.
  5. Casual-dressy tops (1) – This will be worn on days when we’re touring and need to look dressier, but not formal. The white, flowy top can be worn with yoga pants or my linen pants for a dressier pants look.
  6. Sweaters/Long sleeves (3) – Knowing the weather, I wanted to pack lighter sweaters to layer on top of dresses especially. I have a navy blue and white stripe shirt, a grey & navy blue sweater.
  7. Jackets (4) – This is tricky, because I didn’t necessarily want to bring four, seems down right gluttonous! But, it may rain a bit while there – so there’s a rain jacket. It’s a dressier atmosphere and may be chilly at night – navy blue sports jacket.  A hooded puffy – for hiking so will have this in my camel back bag and leave it in there. My jean jacket – a staple and I will wear this on the plane.
  8. Shoes (4) – Here again, 4 pairs of shoes seems insane to me -for a ten day trip!? Well, we want to hike the coast – need hiking shoes – it may rain a bit, which won’t stop us from going out – so ya need boots – Some days may be sunny and nice – so flip flops -and the night time on cobblestone streets call for flats. And there ya go.
  9. Scarfs (3) – I’v traveled quite a bit in my day – Africa, Turkey, Belgium, Vieques, Amsterdam, Ireland, Italy, Belize – and the European style of dress always impresses me. And one of the best accessories and items to pack are scarfs. I am bringing a black, a navy blue and a grey scarf to add to my outfits, layer when it’s cooler, and dress up my yoga pants.

I’m so looking forward to exploring this beautiful country – and maybe even look a bit stylish while adventuring.

Cheers to our Happy Adventure!