Ways to Know if Someone Will Be a Good Travel Companion

  1. Do you like the same types of food?

Like, if you hate tomatoes but they only want to eat at Italian restaurants, you might have a problem. (Trust the vegan on this.)

Vegan mac’n’cheese pizza in Salem, MA.
  1. Do you feel comfortable enough in their home to take off your shoes and rifle through their cupboards?

If you just stand in the doorway, feeling like you need an invitation to take off your coat–lest you overstep the boundaries of showing them your coatless body–then you probably shouldn’t share a common space for any period of time.

  1. Would you yell at them if they cut off your mom in traffic? And would everything be okay afterwards?

“Dude, that was my mom! You need to calm down. For real.”

If you so fear their reaction that you would only meekly say, “Um, I think that may have been, um, a woman who could have given birth to me,” then do not travel with them. Because there may come a time that they will overstep your boundaries–like speaking to you through the door while you’re trying to pee–and you need to feel okay telling them to give you a goddamn minute.

However, if you think that snapping at them for cutting off your mom in traffic would result in a huge blowout or tears–do not let them become the only person you consistently interact with for days on end.

  1. Would they be patient enough to take approximately 6,392 photos of you with your new mailbox?

When you’re on a trip, there’s nothing worse than seeing something super cool and having your travel companion grudgingly taking a photo of you with it–only to discover that you’re squinting weird. You need someone who will snap a bunch of photos. And then snap a bunch more if the previous batch did not meet your standards.

(Please note, this must be reciprocal.)

Hashbrown no filter. But I was wearing a wig and a lot of makeup.
  1. Would you spot them money for dinner or just straight up buy them a coffee?

During your travels, you run the risk that somebody’s card just won’t work or one of you may run out of cash at a cash-only café. You need to be comfortable with the idea of shelling out money on their behalf that you may never see again. (Or trusting them enough to be sure that they’ll pay you back.)

  1. Have any of their roommates mysteriously disappeared?

Do you know any of their previous roommates? Are they still friends with their roommates? If not, this could be a warning sign that they’re the type of person who will just take your bananas and time your showers.

  1. Have you ever vomited/farted/burped or done some other seemingly embarrassing bodily function in front of them? Would you feel comfortable doing this?

You may be sharing a teeny tiny hotel room with one bed and the flimsiest cardboard wall between that bed and the bathroom. If you eat at that local Indian restaurant that seemed kind of shady–but was recommended by your brother’s girlfriend’s dog-sitter–and you start to feel a telltale rumble in your intestines…

Let’s just say–when you travel with someone, they learn your secrets. If the idea of letting them hear you destroy a toilet bowl fills you with terror, you should not travel with them.

(Naturally, don’t try to be gross. But things happen. Sounds are made. You need to feel comfortable enough with your travel companion, that they won’t openly point out or be horrified of your humanity, so that you don’t give yourself constipation just to avoid any potential embarrassment.)

I feel like this turned into a bunch of things about bathroom habits.
Here, have a picture of baby ducks in Paris:



Most Important Thing to See in Prague: The Golden Penis

Prague is a beautiful city. This is a given.

Ancient architecture, streets that curl and wind like Christmas ribbon. Castles. Despite all the tourists, you can see a fairytale city just under the surface.

But it’s so easy to burn out on beautiful buildings. Look, there’s one. Oh hey, another one. So many beautiful buildings. Staying in Prague? Guess what, you’re in a beautiful building. Going out to eat? This restaurant is also a beautiful building.

It should come as a surprise to no one that my favorite memory of Prague is touching The Golden Penis at Prague Castle. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually called. But that’s what we should all call it now. You’re welcome, Prague Tourism Board.

I had not been expecting it. The statue of a boy stood proudly in a square, surrounded by people all avoiding eye contact. The penis had been rubbed shiny by previous visitors. Families, a group of young men, other tourists–you could tell they all wanted to touch it,  but were afraid of looking like weirdos.

This was my chance to shine. Because I am truly excellent at looking like a weirdo. Thrusting my phone at my travel companion, I stood erect in front of the statue and placed my hand directly upon The Golden Penis. The crowed laughed. And then cheered. Strangers spoke excitedly in foreign languages.

“You all know you want the same picture!” I prompted the crowd of tourists in English, still laughing. (Since my Czech is actually rusty Polish.) I used hand gestures and indicative head tilts to encourage an older Czech woman there with her grown children. And you know what? She went for it.

(Moment of pride: The horrified “Mama!” from her fully adult son.)

And while I don’t remember where exactly this statues was on castle grounds (truth–I had just drank the strongest Irish coffee of my life), that makes it even better. Now it’s your journey. To try and find The Golden Penis.

IMG_7731Dicks: Bringing international cultures together since the dawn of time.

How to Pack for 10 Days in Europe (And Look Great in Every Photo)

In April, I went to Paris for five days and Prague for another five. Before I left, I spent weeks carefully packing and creating an outfit strategy plan. There were lists, charts, and an intensive meditation process. My goal was to only take a carry-on sized suitcase—especially since I’d be pulling it through cobblestone streets and loading it onto shuttles.

(But take note, ladies—some airlines will weigh your purse with your carry on suitcase. And then make you check your tiny suitcase anyway. And you may or may not cry because you’re just so, so tired. FYI.)

So you want to pack light, but in the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook likes, you want to look as goddamn fabulous as you feel, strolling through the streets of Paris. You don’t want to look like a schlub in sneakers and sweatshirt.

Red shoes and suitcase

Here are my tips for packing light and looking amazing and totally not like someone who spent weeks planning their outfits:

  1. Pick a color scheme:
    • My color scheme was grey/blue/black/white with pops of red. I brought a pair of black pants, dark jeans, and a black dress. Along with some basic tops in grey, black, and black and white stripes, as well as an off-white blouse. I also brought cardigans in dark blue and red. I laid everything out in my apartment to make sure I had several outfit combinations. Then every morning, I didn’t have to try too hard, since everything matched.
  2. Have a pop of color:
    • For me, it was my red scarf or red flats. In photos, the red scarf really adds something. I had actually brought another scarf that I ended up not wearing as much because it didn’t look as good. (And I bought a scarf there as a souvenir.) A pop of color could also be a hair accessory, a statement necklace, shoes, or a cardigan. The only limit is your imagination! Or something!
    • Note: If it’ll be chilly enough that you’ll be wearing a coat, then what’s under the coat matters less than things like scarves or gloves. So you may have the most amazing shirt that anyone has ever seen—the 1889 World’s Fair of shirts—but no one will see it.
  3. Plan to visit a laundromat:
    • So exciting! Just what every traveler wants! Go see the Mona Lisa, pop by the Louvre, and then finish your day by experiencing true French culture and attempting to wash your clothes in a foreign laundromat. (Or possibly, your hotel/AirBNB/hovel might have an available washer/dryer.) Do this either a day or two before you leave for the next country or just after you arrive. Make sure you’re leaving yourself an outfit that’s NOT in the wash, in case things have to air dry. But this is the easiest way to bring less stuff—by wearing dark colors and washing the stuff you already wore.
  4. If it’s not summer, bring boots:
    • That’s always been my main piece of footwear on European trips. A pair of comfortable black boots that are just one step above casual. If it rains, you’re covered. They match with everything. And you look less like a tourist than if you wear sneakers. If you think you’ll be going someplace fancy or you simply want another option, I suggest a pair of fancy flats—just make sure those are also comfortable.
  5. Bring things you feel you can throw out at the end of the trip:
    • If you’re packing light, you may not have room for souvenirs. So bring those slightly old pairs of socks instead of newer ones. You can toss them at the end to make room. Also, same with toiletries. Don’t bring any toiletries you wouldn’t feel cool throwing out if you had to.
  6. Remember that if you forget it, you can buy it there:
    • This is true of Europe, but may not be true if you’re traveling someplace more remote. (Although even Belize has an American/British grocery store down the road from the airport.) In a city like Paris or Prague, you’re not SOL if you forget a toothbrush or a pair of pantyhose—you can just buy it. So you don’t need to over pack or prepare for every single potential hurdle. Chances are that everything you bring will be fine, but if it’s not, a visit to the local drug store/pharmacy should fix everything. (Just don’t forget, like, your contacts or prescription medications. Then you’re up Shit Creek without a paddle. But if you spring for my airfare, I’d be happy to bring them to you.)

Is this helpful? I don’t know. But have fun! Take so many pictures that your camera runs out of memory, and you’re like, “I thought this thing could hold 50,000 photos?” And then you check and you TOTALLY took 50,000 photos.

DINOSAUR LAND: The World That Time (But Not Virginia) Forgot

Dinosaurs 3
Deep in the back roads of Virginia, there exists a place, unbound by the laws of time and nature. That place… is Dinosaur Land.

Dinosaurs 1

Dinosaur Land is one of those roadside tourist traps. Except that I traveled there specifically. It was a destination, rather than a whimsical spontaneity.

Dinosaurs 2

As a kid, I definitely went through a dinosaur phase. I could name so many dinosaurs. I watched all the documentaries. I had dinosaur toys, plush animals, books, and a deep and abiding love for the Power Rangers.

My favorite dinosaur was the Pterodactyl. Because it was a dinosaur AND it could fly. Unlike all of those land and water jerks. Pterodactyls were like the unicorn-pegasus creatures of the dinosaur world.

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(Before we go any further, I feel I should inform you that a portion of this blog was drafted after imbibing some ginger moonshine. Ginger moonshine, you say? That is a blog post for another day.)

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If you go into Dinosaur Land expecting fine artwork and an elaborate and historical set-up, you will be disappointed. If you go into Dinosaur Land expecting weird, old statues of dinosaurs–and other unexpected creatures like human-sized cobras and bear-sloths–that you can laugh at and take pictures with, then you are golden, my friend. Go forth.

Dinosaurs 5