SkillsTravel

I am the type of person who likes to be prepared for every situation. That includes making sure that my car is prepared for every situation as well. There are a lot of helpful items that can be kept in a plastic bin in your trunk or the glove compartment just in case you need them. They can also be removed if you need the space. Mileage varies on which items you want to keep in your own car, but here are a few ideas:

1. Jumper Cables
Use these if your battery dies. A good Samaritan can help with the rest.

2. Tire Repair Tools
A tire gauge will let you know the pressure in your tires. Other tools include a jack, a tire iron, and a spare tire. Failing that, you can use a tire inflater or sealer that might get you to a gas station.

3. Duct Tape
It can fix all kinds of things.

4. Your Car Manual
I know that no one wants to read the manual but if you have a specific question you could find the answer in there.

5. Flashlight
You can use your phone for this. However, if you need a light for an extended period of time, you can drain your battery. Keep an actual flashlight around, just in case.

6. Road Flare
Safety first when it’s dark out or you need to grab people’s attention!

7. Small Fire Extinguisher
You may never need it but it could be life-saving if you do.

8. Your Insurance and Vehicle Information

9. Bluetooth Device
Handsfree phone calls are the safest way to go.

10. Phone Charger
You never know when you might need it.

11. Cleaning Products
I would recommend plastic bags, tissues and/or paper towels for any kind of mess that you encounter. If you’re really into cleaning, you can include a hand-held vacuum or an air freshener.

12. Non-Perishable Food
I recommend a bottle of water and a food item that doesn’t need to be heated or prepared like jerky or granola bar. You can keep this in a collapsible cooler if you’re on a road-trip. This will come in handy if you’re stuck somewhere.

13. Anything that can protect you and your car from the elements
A spare umbrella or jacket will help when you are outside of the car. I would also recommend a towel or a change of clothes to avoid ruining the interior of your car in different kinds of weather.

14. Blanket
A blanket can cost around $5 and will be helpful if someone in your passenger seat wants to take a nap or if you need to get warm.

15. Extra Money
You may have money in your wallet at all times. If not, keep some spare change or a small amount of money in your car. You might need money if you run into an unexpected tollbooth or you need to tip a tow truck driver.

16. Small First Aid Kit
You can go to the hospital for the big stuff. This is just for small injuries and won’t take up much room.

17. Sunglasses
These will protect your eyes and help you drive better.

In the end, what you keep in your car is your business. It comes down to what suits your needs. For example, if your share a car maybe you don’t have a say about what goes in. Let this be a starting point for you to drive more safely. It can also be a great list to prepare for the road trip of your dreams! Happy driving!

Image: Pexels

Travel

Welcome to the home of the Tastykake, Rocky Balboa, Wawa, and, of course, the cheesesteak… I am taking you to Philadelphia! Growing up, my family and I would travel from my hometown of Collegeville, a suburb of Philly, into the city nearly every weekend to explore museums, eat wonderful food, and check out other hotspots. For you, dear traveler, I have come up with the perfect itinerary to help plan your first day trip to this lively, multi-dimensional city. Welcome to The City of Brotherly Love!

Morning

For breakfast, try one of the Green Eggs Café locations. This trendy, eco-friendly restaurant is dedicated to serving locally produced foods at reasonable prices, while allowing their customers to support the movement by using only recycled paper and dishware. I highly recommend the Smoked Atlantic Lox Omelet or the “Kitchen Sink” (think a skillet of eggs, cheese, potatoes, peppers, biscuits, and gravy everywhere). The portions are rather large, but don’t worry because you can ask for a biodegradable take-out container.

After the amazing meal, you are surely going to want to walk off the food coma. Spend a few hours browsing the collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located at the end of the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this massive museum holds the most beautiful European, American, and Asian artwork. Don’t forget to run up the museum steps in proper Rocky fashion!

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Afternoon

From the museum, walk through the bustling Center City neighborhood to reach Reading Terminal Market. You’re going to brave some lines and crowds here, but this market is a prime location to eat and browse. The market carries nearly everything you could imagine, from local and exotic produce, Amish specialties, meat, seafood, handmade confections, flowers, to cookbooks and other trinkets. The delicious aromas will make you hungry for lunch here, so head over to my favorite vendor in the market and favorite cheesesteak joint in Philly, Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie. If this is your first visit to Philly, order a classic and prepare yourself for a serious mouth party. After all, President Obama ate here, so you know it’s good.

By this point it’s time to say goodbye to the market and get ready for a little history lesson. Make your way to Philadelphia’s Historic District, which is full of museums and historic buildings. Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States and birthplace of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Betsy Ross’ home and first American flag. Stroll along the grassy squares and cobblestone streets, making sure to pass by the Liberty Bell, and imagine what life was like while the United States was young.

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Evening

The fun-filled Philly day trip is sadly coming to an end, so it’s time to wrap up with a glorious dinner. There are few options here. For the Francophiles and wine-lovers, try the quaint Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro near Center City and make sure to order the Beef Bourguignon. If that is not your ideal cuisine, right next door is El Vez, known for their funky rock n’ roll atmosphere and tasty enchiladas. Finally for the sports fan, go to Chickie’s and Pete’s, the Philly sports fan’s go-to stop for crab fries. I guarantee after eating at any of these restaurants, you’ll be more than ready to head back home and recoup after a great day of eating and exploring.

Time-Permitting

If you have a few extra minutes to spend in the city, be sure to stroll by the water at Penn’s Landing, shop around Rittenhouse Square, or bike in Fairmount Park.

And there you have it – a whole day of activities for your eventful day trip to Philadelphia. Time to grab a friend and make it happen!

Image: Aysia Woods

Culture

1. Holidays

The obvious: it’s holiday season. You may celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or just plain old New Year’s Eve. December means shopping. It means pigging out on all year-round-forbidden foods. And it means seeing family and friends and reconnecting with those who you have maybe lost touch with throughout the entire year. I see December as a month of reunion.

2. Hot Drinks

Don’t tell me you don’t participate in PSL season. Okay, if you had to look up PSL, maybe not. Either way, we all know there is nothing more comforting or satisfying than sipping on a searing cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in cold December. It is the time where coziness reaches its climax. Drinking away your calories is acceptable, but only in December.

3. Smell

December has a smell – that is fact. It smells like cinnamon. It has the aroma of pine trees. And it has the faint scent of deliciously baked goods. Am I wrong?

4. Winter Clothes

Summer is definitely a desired season, but during this time you can finally dress in sophisticated coats and elegant scarves that you’ve secretly been waiting to wear all year long.  It’s cold, but not cold enough where you’re forced to wear bulky parkas. Also, it calls for some fun when putting an outfit together – scarves, boots, pants, jackets, ear muffs, hats, and gloves! There is much opportunity to be a fashionista – get creative, my friends.

5. Cozy, Cozy, Cozy

Not only do you get the chance to drink sugar and calories, but December also means sitting by mellow fireplaces, candles, and an excuse to just be lazy for once! The sun sets earlier, therefore your days end earlier and getting home early in the midst of some comforting dim lights is very tempting. Readers: what’s better than spending a night reading a captivating novel by the fireplace?

6. Netflix

Let’s be honest, not all of us have boyfriends and girlfriends to cuddle with. However, Netflix is always there to comfort all singles worldwide. From interesting documentaries to addicting TV shows to the movies we just never had the time to watch during the year, Netflix is our best friend.

7. Vay-cay

December is the time to reunite with family and friends, as previously touched on. However, it is also a time of travels and vacations – be it to see those family and friends or to travel with those family and friends. December is a time to bond with family and friends and get closer to your loved ones while still getting the chance to visit familiar or unfamiliar places!

8. Fluffy Snow

December introduces many parts of the world with snow. By January, the snow is no longer “pretty” because by then, it has turned yellow or brown and icy. However, in December, it is a beautiful thing to see blankets and blankets of freshly fallen snow! Snow angels better be on that to-do list!

9. ABC Family

December tends to revolve around child hood memories and this includes flipping the television channels only to find Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Polar Express on. For some of us, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas is on our calendar – spare the judgments, please.

10. Reflection and Renewal

Above all, December is a month of renewal. It is a time to wrap up the year, to wrap up old habits, to plan for new ones; it is a time of reflection and preparation. This is a beautiful time that invites reminiscing and change. Plan to embrace the goals you have for 2015 and think about what you would like to leave behind in 2014. December is the close for the year – enjoy every last moment and squeeze out the best remaining bits of it!

How will you enjoy December?

Image: Stanford

CultureTravel

There are always risks to traveling. Your flight might be delayed or the airline might lose your luggage. I eliminated some travel risks from my life by creating an all purpose packing list. It’s the list that I consult before every trip to make sure I leave nothing to chance. The list is partly common sense and partly items I added over the years based on recommendations. Even if I don’t bring everything on it, it’s good to consult just in case. Here are some tips to make your own list:

packing

1. Remember The Essentials

Think of what you cannot live without while on a trip. Try to think of what you need in your everyday life. For me, my clothes, my wallet, and my cellphone must always be packed. I need these items no matter where I travel or for how long. Write down the things you can’t live without, even for a couple of days.

2. Be Smart When Packing Toiletries And Medications

It’s always good to bring travel-sized toiletries with you. You may want to take your chances using whatever soap and shampoo is in your hotel, but there might not be any. Remember that when going through an airport, you don’t want any liquids pulled out of your carry on, so think about that while you are packing.

I would also think about any medications you might need. Depending on how long your trip lasts, you might not need your entire pill bottle. In fact, you might not want to bring any medications if you are able to go to your local drugstore. Just consider where you will be going on your trip. When I was in Europe, the language and cultural barrier made it hard for my friends to find cough medicine when they needed it. Bring some medicine from home if you think it will be more convenient.

3. Think Seasonally

All of the items on my list are convenient for travel during every season. Once you have every possible item on your list, it is only a matter of deciding what to bring. For example, I won’t bring my raincoat to Hawaii in the summer, even though a raincoat on my list. Check the weather forecast and consider what you might be doing on your trip. You can also throw caution to the wind and say, I’ll just pack what I packed last time, but if your usual plans change, you might be unprepared. It doesn’t hurt to keep all of these items on your list so you don’t forget anything.

4. Only Bring The Electronics You May Need

Electronics can be optional on your list. It’s always a good idea to remember to bring your phone and your charger. Someone else might have one, but you don’t want to worry about it. Keep in mind that a lot of electronics, such as a laptop, are expensive and can be stolen. Also, you might not want to bring something as heavy as a laptop if you don’t think you will have a lot of downtime. Put it on the list anyways in case the opportunity presents itself. If you are traveling to a different country, remember to bring power converters for your plug-ins.

5. Entertainment Can Be An Asset

Entertainment doesn’t seem that important until you are stuck at the airport for two hours. This category could include a book or movies to watch in the hotel. It’s good to plan for these things. Just think about how much time you will have to read or watch movies while you are away. If this is not a priority, you can make room for other things in your bag.

6. Determine Your ‘In Case Of Emergency Items’

I have a list of worst case scenario supplies. This would include matches, batteries, or a first aid kit among other things. Chances are you can buy these wherever you go. The point is to have them in the moment that you need them. They don’t take up much space in a bag; however, a lot of supplies can take up valuable space and weigh you down. Be practical.

7. Pack Some Accessories

Accessories tend to be different, but we all have them. Accessories might include a hat, glasses, scarves, or jewelry. I would advise against bringing anything you are worried about losing. Sort your accessories into accessible bags for convenience.

8. Remember Anything Needed Specifically for the Trip

These are the items you will need to get anywhere. This would include your driver’s license, passport, flight plan, or money. Even if you are not taking a plane, you could find a car, a train ticket, or anything else you definitely need to get you to your destination. You don’t want to get all packed to go and then realize you can’t go anywhere. Put them on the checklist to be sure.

9. Take Care Of Things At Home

This is actually just one item on my list but it covers the broad idea of making sure that your regular life isn’t interrupted by your trip. Think about everything that needs to taken care of while you’re gone. An example would be getting time off work or returning books to the library. You will probably do this anyway in the months and weeks before your trip. The point is to give it some last minute thought before you leave so you are not stressed out during your vacation.

10. Make It Your Own

In the end, what ends up on your list is whatever you feel like packing. For example, I am not really a camper. If you are someone who goes camping often, there is probably a lot of camping gear on your list. The list is about making your travels easier. Once you discover what you want to get out of a trip, write down whatever you need to in order to make it happen.

These are just a few categories that I used to make my own list. You are your own person with your own needs. You need to find what works for you. It will take you awhile to think of everything you will need. You can even consult some travel websites for advice. My personal list is a checklist but I know that not every box has to be checked. The point is to be ready so at a moment’s notice you can get out there and have fun.

What does your ultimate packing list look like? What are your must-have travel items?

Image: Strange Luke