What’s in My Travel Bag

What's In My Travel Bag - Inflight Essentials

A thoughtfully packed travel bag makes all the difference when jet-setting around, especially if you’re trying to survive a long-haul flight. These are the inflight essentials that I never fly without.  In order to make going through security and my inflight routine easier, they are all organized into small pouches, and my toiletry bag and electronics are the easiest to reach. A sturdy, organized travel bag is essential for your personal carry-on bag, and you can find our favorites here.

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St. John USVI Vacation Guide

When you think of the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), with the tagline “America’s Paradise,” might not typically come to mind. If you’re searching for the ultimate beach vacation, look no further. In 2017, the three islands are celebrating  the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day with a USVI Centennial Commemoration promotion of $300 in spending credits to be used on specific activities and restaurants. St. John is the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands and two-thirds of the island is covered by Virgin Islands National Park, which was the main reason we wanted to visit. It’s one of the lesser known national parks that was on the list for a while. Find out where’s the best snorkeling, hiking, dining and sleeping on the island in our St. John USVI vacation guide.

St. John USVI- for blog post

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Five More Wineries to Visit in North Georgia

When we first started A Friend Afar, “research” took us on day trips from Atlanta to North Georgia to go vineyard hopping and share with you in this post. We’ve since returned to the North Georgia mountains again and again to discover new places to taste wine. It’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday with the girls, a date, a family outing, and celebrate special occasions. Actually, any reason will do! Here are five more of our favorite North Georgia wineries to visit from Atlanta!

More vineyards canva


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Our Favorite Tips for Keeping a Travel Journal

Travel journals are a fun and creative way to remember your most meaningful travels. While I record my favorite tips, tricks, and locations here at A Friend Afar, I knew I wanted to start a handwritten journal to record how these destinations make me feel. Starting a travel journal was something I thought about for a long time before I started writing because I was worried that I would start one and then quickly give it up or forget to write in it. I did a lot of searching through Pinterest for inspiration, and I was honest with myself about what would work for me and what would not work. Below are my favorite tips for starting a travel journal and keeping up with it as you seek out more adventures.

Our Favorite Tips for Keeping a Travel Journal - www.AFriendAfar.com

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5 Ideas for Layover City Day Trips

The next time you’re booking a flight for vacation or business, consider scheduling a longer layover so you have time to explore a new or old favorite city on a day trip. Layover day trips can be an easy, inexpensive way to break up a long flight, see a friend living there, or discover a place you’ve always wanted to visit. The perfect day trip itinerary in our opinion? Walking, visiting one or two touristic sites, trying some good food, and doing a little shopping. Here are 5 ideas for common layover city day trips!



If you have at least a five-hour layover, consider leaving the Tokyo Narita International Airport and taking a quick day trip to darling Narita. It’s only 10-15 minutes away by train and boasts a pedestrian-only shopping street, Narita-san Omotesando, great restaurants, and the sprawling Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple complex to explore. Narita is a charming little taste of Japanese culture. If you happen to land in the morning, the airport offers a free tour guide program if you want to be shown around. Have more time on your Tokyo layover? We also love Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa and going to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

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Our Favorite International-Focused Non-Profits

Today is Giving Tuesday! With the holiday season quickly approaching, we thought we’d feature a few our favorite international-focused non-profits! #GivingTuesday is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.” #GivingTuesday is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year!

“Join the movement and give – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community. It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back and then share your idea. Don’t forget to explore ways to maximize your gift including employee match programs with your employer! Here are a few non-profits we love!



Refugee Women’s Network (RWN) is a non-profit organization located in Decatur, Georgia and we both serve on the Board as volunteers. RWN inspires and equips refugee and immigrant women to become leaders in their homes, businesses, and communities through three programs. For more than 20 years, RWN has continued to be the only organization in Georgia that specifically serves refugee women. RWN’s spectrum of services meets women where they are; whether they’ve been in the US for three months or three years. Whether they need help enrolling their children in school or they’re preparing to open their own business, we help women on their journey to become independent and self-sufficient.

Social Adjustment services are provided to help refugees assimilate into their new lives in the U.S. and to encourage self-reliance so that individuals and families can successfully navigate similar situations in the future. Leadership Training gives refugee and immigrant women the skills and confidence to be advocates for themselves, their families, and their communities. Women’s Economic Empowerment services are provided to equip refugee and immigrant women with the knowledge and resources to become economically self-sufficient through employment, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Donate here!


Source: https://www.cartercenter.org

Meagan has been working for The Carter Center for over three ears now, but as an international affairs grad from Georgia Tech, she has admired and followed the organization for almost a decade now. The Carter Center has two main divisions: Peace and Health. Peace programs include human rights, election monitoring, and the newest program: Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative.

The Carter Center’s health programs are world famous. The organization has been leading the fight to eradicate Guinea Worm since 1986, and it’s poised to be the second disease ever eradicated! There were an estimated 3.5 million cases when The Carter Center started its program back in 1986, and there are currently only 19 so far in 2016. Health programs at The Carter Center focus on neglected tropical diseases including river blindness, schistosomiasis, and trachoma, but there’s also a mental health program that is working to reduce stigma and discrimination. Donations go a long way! $15 will cover the cost for 50 pipe filters used to eradicate Guinea Worm, and $30 pays for river blindness elimination for more than 100 people.


CARE has been a organization Stephanie’s admired ever since first hearing about it in college, especially because of its focus on empowering women and girls. She’s been working there a little over two years! Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading
humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and working to achieve social justice. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because we know that we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities. We  believe that, when equipped with the proper resources, women and girls have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health, and water; create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger.

Donations to cover general operations are always needed but if you are planning on donating as part of a holiday gift, consider giving a Gift of Lasting Change. These gifts are a way of filling a symbolic CARE package with items including school uniforms for girls, Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) kits, and a goat. Watch this video celebrating the 25th anniversary of VSLA to learn more about CARE’s economic development work.  In honor of #GivingTuesday, CARE’s board of directors will match every dollar you give to go three times as far – but just until midnight on Tuesday!

What’s your favorite non-profit? Tell us about it in the comments below!

The Perfect Sleep Mask Guide

A sleep mask is always one of our travel essentials we don’t travel without! It’s a must-have item in our carry-on to help with sleeping better during long-haul flights. You may have seen it on our packing lists since it’s  also handy to have in case your hotel room curtains allow light in.  The Perfect Sleep Mask Guide- www.afriendafar.com #sleepmasks #travelessentials #packinglist

For such an important item, why not make sure you find the right one? Here’s our handy roundup of perfect sleeps masks that are comfortable and luxurious. And they make wonderful gifts as well! There are fun options too, like Etsy’s fox and cats, Bucky’s patterned ones  or the eyelashed Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s!



A Uniquely Irish Experience- Visiting a Sheep Dog Farm

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Ireland, consider visiting a sheep dog farm for a sheep-herding demonstration. Our visit to  the sheep dog farm Joyce Country Sheepdogs was our last stop before heading back to Dublin to fly out the next morning and turned out to be one of our favorite activities of the trip. It’s located in the lovely Connemara region of the country not too far from Galway City. The setting itself was in a dreamy, serene and beautiful location.

Visiting an Irish Sheep Dog Farm - www.AFriendAfar.com - #connemara #sheepdogfarm #countygalway


The demonstration was a fascinating way to learn more about the  border collies, sheep and the handler. Joyce Country Sheepdogs is only open seasonally from March until the end of September so take this into consideration while planning. It’s open every day except Sunday and demonstrations take place at 11 am, 1 pm and 3:30 pm. The cost was only €10 for adults, €5, for kids from 5-12, and free for kids under 5.


Plus there are puppy snuggles to be had depending on what time of the year it is!


We researched another option near the Ring of Kerry in case you’re headed to that part of Ireland rather than County Galway. Check out Rick Steves recommended Kissane Sheep Farm!

Visiting an Irish Sheep Dog Farm - www.AFriendAfar.com - #connemara #sheepdogfarm #countygalway

We’re always on the lookout for off the beaten path experiences while traveling. Do you have any to share for Ireland? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!