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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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

The Best Printable Europe Packing List – Two Weeks in a Carry-On

Heading to Europe? Here’s our printable two weeks in Europe packing list!

Europe Packing List - AFriendAfar.com

I always aim to pack in only a carry-on if at all possible no matter how long my trip is going to be. I find it much easier to tote around a carry-on suitcase rather than a checked-size bag. Plus, if you pack right, you can mix and match pieces to re-wear and make different outfits. And there’s always the option of doing laundry (Airbnb is amazing for that) or hand-washing in the hotel sink. Here’s a printable Europe packing list of what I brought on my latest two week trip to Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. My goal was to strike a balance between being  comfortable and stylish.

Some of the items I am so glad made it into my luggage include a pair of New Balance for J.Crew sneakers (I have these navy ones while Meagan has them in white and gold), laundry detergent packets, a rain jacket, sandals, Downey Wrinkle Releaser, and a scarf! I used my trusty Travelpro Rollaboard as my carry-on piece and my Lo & Sons OMG bag as my personal item on the plane. And of course I used an Everlane Tote as a day bag while exploring!

One last tip: if you’re packing for two weeks in a carry-on, you’re going to need packing cubes!

Is there anything you always pack for a summer trip to Europe? Let us know in the comments!

Printable Summer in Europe Packing List - A Friend Afar

 

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Stephanie grew up road-tripping across the U.S., but her first flight was to Australia, and she’s been hooked ever since. She lived abroad in Thailand, where she met Meagan, and in Ghana with Peace Corps and has been to over 30 countries on 6 continents. She travels for the adventure, the stories, and nature.

Everlane Weekender Review

With summer on its way, it’s time for a weekend getaway. We know you’re already planning your beach trips and weekends in the mountains. We’re ready for lazy days spent in hammocks and strolling along the beach. But before you set off on your road trip, you need the perfect bag for a weekend away. Leave those rolling suitcases at home! We’ve featured some of our favorite weekender bags before, and now we’re going tell you about one we both own in this Everlane Weekender Review.

Everlane Weekender Review

Our Everlane Weekender Review

We both own an Everlane Weekender bag, so that’s a good start to this review and should really tell you something. Meagan bought a suede version that has since been retired, and Stephanie followed suit by buying the navy canvas weekender with the black leather straps. Continue reading

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

4 Ways to Feel Like First Class in Coach

Travel Hack: 4 Ways to Feel Like First Class in Coach

We’ve been traveling a lot for work and pleasure lately, and it’s only about to pick up! We’re always SO excited about our destinations, but we have to get there first, and flying in coach can be such a drag. Am I right?

Here’s the good news, travelers! We have four travel hacks to make flying in coach as comfortable as possible. With Salem Kitty’s help, Stephanie just filled her new Delsey Tote with all the goodies she needs to relax in coach on her flight to Reykjavik.

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Travel Hack: How We Travel For Free With Miles

Guest Post by Ryan martz
meagan’s husband and favorite travel companion

Everyone is always asking us how we take at least one international trip a year, especially since I’m a teacher and Meagan works at a non-profit. Well, we travel for free! Here’s how we do it!

Travel Hack - Travel for FREE: How we earn lots of airline miles to book free flights!

How to Pick the Best Miles Rewards Card

How did I pick the right card for us, you may ask?

There are tons of reward cards on the market, but we recommend 2 strategies here for when you’re starting out.

First Option: If you already have some miles saved up, take a look at all your reward miles balances, and see which one is the closest to netting you a free trip.  Meagan and I both had flown on United for various long haul trips in college, so we had already accrued a number of frequent flier miles.  Naturally, we wanted to add to our already-existing stock, so we waited until the signup bonus for the United Mileage Plus Visa card was at least 50,000 so that we would already be assured of at least one free flight to anywhere in Europe, North/Central America, or the Caribbean (60K needed). We were almost halfway to two round-trip tickets.

Second Option: Consider your nearest airport. Which airline has a hub there? We live in Atlanta, so flying Delta is always an easy option. We eventually signed up for a Delta American Express card when they were offering 50,000 bonus miles as well. That gave us both a Visa card and an Amex card.

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Our #Take12Trips Challenge

Wow we can’t believe we’re already a quarter of the way through 2016! We thought it would be fun to provide an update on our 12 trips in 12 months effort so far and our plans going forward. We’d also love to hear from those of you joining us in the challenge on where you’ve been and where you’re planning to go.

If you missed our original #Take12Trips post, be sure to check it out. Our New Year’s Resolution is to travel more often and travel differently, and it’s working!

How We’re Going to Travel More in 2016

January

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Stephanie started off the year in Florida visiting the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. Later in January she also took an overnight trip to the Chattanooga area with a fantastic stay at the Chanticleer Inn.

The Beechwood Inn - www. AFriendAfar.com

Meagan’s January trip took her to the beautiful and delicious Beechwood Inn in Clayton, Georgia.

February

Meagan and Steph biking

We took a fun girls trip to coastal Georgia! First we went to St. Marys where we stayed at the lovely Spencer House Inn. Then we hopped over to Cumberland Island for a night at the stunning Greyfield Inn.

March

1842 Inn - A Macon Bed & Breakfast

March took Stephanie on a brief trip to Phoenix to catch a spring training game with her husband Ed. Meagan & Ryan did a weekend trip to Macon to stay at the 1842 Inn!

whale watching

We both went to Irvine, California for the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) 2016! Read a little about our experience there on our new friend Lindsay’s blog I’ve Been Bit. The night before we flew back home we went whale watching with Captain Dave’s and saw 5 grey whales. It was pretty exciting!

April

20160402_125319-1.jpgMeagan is more than a little in love with her day job. The Carter Center just held a staff retreat in Plains, Georgia, home of President and Mrs. Carter, and Meagan and her husband went to check out the small town. It’s the perfect example of a tiny southern town. The shops that you see above are all that make up downtown Plains, and that’s incredibly charming. Naturally, there’s a lot of President Carter pride there.

Stephanie is headed to Dubai and Durham, North Carolina for work in April! She’s hoping to have a bit of time to explore both.

May

iceland

[Photo credit: Ulrich Latzenhofer]

In early May, Stephanie is headed to the DC area for work and is also doing a girls weekend with two friends who live in the area to the Eastern shore of Maryland. Mid-month she’s headed to Iceland to do a trip around the Ring Road and is looking forward to seeing the original Geysir, waterfalls, ponies, lagoons and more! Photo credit

Meagan and her husband are heading to Istanbul for the first leg of their trip and will be there on their 5th wedding anniversary. They’ll be spending nights on both the Asian side of the Bosphorus in Kadikoy and the European side in Sultanahmet.

June

kasbah du toubkal

[Photo Credit: Kasbah du Toubkal]

After Istanbul, Turkey, Meagan and Ryan are headed to Marrakech, Morocco! They’ll be spending a few days in the city before heading out to the majestic High Atlas mountain range to stay at the Kasbah du Toubkal in Imlil. Can you believe that view?

Stephanie is dreaming about a domestic National Park visit for June but doesn’t have definite plans yet.

July

Stephanie is in the early stages of planning an epic Sound of Music tour of Austria, visiting WWII sites in Germany and maybe a visit to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Meagan has too many ideas, but none of them are concrete. Does anyone have a ticket to Hamilton that they’d like to share?

August & September

We’re both headed to Ireland with our husbands for the Georgia Tech versus Boston College American football game in Dublin! We can’t wait to explore the city and also see some of the iconic Irish countryside. If you’ve been, please give us your tips below since we’re still planning our trip!

October-December

At this point we just have ideas but nothing firm planned! Stephanie is dreaming about celebrating her three year wedding anniversary at Big Bend National Park in October. She also wants to visit Biltmore Estates in Asheville in December to see it all decorated for Christmas!
Meagan wants to take the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad through the North Georgia Mountains and is also looking at a trip with Georgia Conservancy.

What About You?

Where have you been so far this year? Do you have any exciting trips on your calendar? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.

If you have tips for any of our upcoming destinations, we’re all ears!

How to Travel More Often

#12 Trips How to Travel More

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

10 Travel Essentials We Don’t Travel Without

Everyone loves a “what’s in my bag” post, and this one is “packed” with the Top 10 Travel Essentials that we don’t leave home without! A long-haul flight may require a lot more to keep you comfortable, entertained, and sane than a short flight or train ride, but these are the items we’ll be packing no matter the trip. If you catch us at the airport, here’s what you’ll find in our bags…

10 Travel Essentials: all the gear and goodies we never leave home without - www.AFriendAfar.com

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Top 10 Travel Apps You Can’t Leave Home Without

We’ve been compiling lists of our favorite tips, tricks, and products to make your next trip easier to plan and enjoy. Since mobile apps have been changing the way we travel, here are our Top 10 Travel Apps that we use to plan our trips, keep up with our itineraries and tickets, and find our way around.

Top 10 Travel Apps - www.AFriendAfar.com

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

How to Pack a Duffel Bag

I’ve been trying so hard to pack less, but sometimes a long weekend away requires more than your standard set of outfits. I used to just stuff everything into my duffel bag, and that always resulted in a pile on my hotel room floor as soon as I needed something. Of course, I was putting my clothes in the bag in neat stacks, but it was getting things out that was such a nightmare. Now that I have a new bag and a few handy tools, I’ve really figured out how to pack a duffel bag!

How to Pack a Duffel Bag in 3 Easy Steps - www.afriendafar.com

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

A Week at the Beach Packing List

Beach Necessities- What to Pack for a Week at the Beach- www.afriendafar.com #beach #packinglist #beachnecessities

Planning  a week-long escape to the beach? You’ve come to the right place for our ultimate beach packing list! It’s the perfect mix of comfy casual for days spent lounging by the pool or relaxing on the beach, active wear for exploring & adventuring, and a few nice items for dining & going out. Continue reading

Stephanie grew up road-tripping across the U.S., but her first flight was to Australia, and she’s been hooked ever since. She lived abroad in Thailand, where she met Meagan, and in Ghana with Peace Corps and has been to over 30 countries on 6 continents. She travels for the adventure, the stories, and nature.