Unexpected Essentials to Pack for Your Overseas Trip

Planning a trip overseas is a daunting task, from booking airfare and hotel stays to dealing with different languages, currencies, times zones, and cultures. That’s why you should plan as much as you can in advance, including your packing list.

Here are some unexpected essentials to include in your suitcase when packing for a trip overseas:

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has protein, fat, and sugar, which are your basic nutritional needs. It doesn’t spoil, and it tastes good on fresh fruit or bread. Peanut butter is a comfort food that tastes like home. Bring it with you, because it’s unlikely you’ll find it in the grocery stores in other countries.

Pack your favorite jar of peanut butter or a non-perishable snack like granola bars, crackers, or trail mix. These snacks make those long plane, train, and automobile rides much more bearable.

Footwear

Grab your favorite pair of sneakers, and you’re all set, right? Wrong. In Hong Kong, a restaurants often refuse to serve patrons because they are wearing sneakers. Some hotels in Europe don’t allow you to wear flip-flops in the lobby. Give yourself some options because you don’t want to have to buy shoes at your destination.

Shoes purchased in European or Asian shoes might look like your favorite Nikes or Timberlands, but they might not hold up after a 10-mile walk through the cobblestone streets of Denmark or London. You don’t want to fall or break an ankle. However, if that happens, you can use a trusted company like MedjetAssist to arrange transportation to a medical facility.

Outerwear

Make sure you know what type of weather you’ll encounter on your travels. If you are going to several places where the climates may differ, find a thick jacket with layers that can withstand many temperatures and keep you dry, too.

Antacid

While traveling it’s wonderful to experience local cuisine. Adventurous eating can be a highlight of traveling. However, you might find your stomach upset by unfamiliar food. Be sure to bring some of your trusted gastrointestinal prevention along. Otherwise you might find yourself having an uncomfortable vacation. Even if you have an iron stomach, acid eats through iron. Your stomach won’t withstand everything you throw at it. With a little pre- and post-noshing medication as needed, you and your stomach can enjoy the cuisine of any region.

U.S. Dollars

If you enjoy the art of bargaining, you might be surprised to learn that you’ll get a better deal if you have U.S. dollars–especially in some parts of Asia. In Vietnam, you’ll find that many retail shops and restaurants display prices in dollars. Make sure you carry some, but not too many, or you might find a local kid picking your pocket and running off with your dollars.

By putting these often-overlooked items on your packing list, you can ensure that your trip is more comfortable — allowing you to focus on the destination and the adventure.

 

Arlington, Texas: A Premier Destination for Any Type of Traveler

Ask anyone outside of Texas if they’ve heard of Arlington, and they might think you’re talking about the city near Washington, D.C. Located 20 miles west of Dallas, the city of Arlington has worked hard and used a lot of resources to gain the respect it deserves. It offers amazing experiences for all types of travelers.

Family Fun

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Image by Chad Zandi via Trover.com

As a kid growing up in Texas, Arlington was my Disneyland. Back when family road trips were still a thing, my parents piled my brother and me into the back seat of our sedan and drove 400 miles north for a fun-filled weekend in Arlington. We stayed in one of the many IHG hotels near Six Flags Over Texas and had a great time at the amusement park. It was my first experience with adult rides.

I still remember the rush of adrenaline as I spotted the outline of the Texas Giant off into the distance. At the time, it was the largest wooden roller coaster in the world. Six Flags remains a popular facility today, with rides, characters, and shows.

Sports Fanatic

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Image by Tiffany Allington via Trover.com

Arlington is where both the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers play. If you’re a baseball or football fan, Arlington is your mecca. The ultra-modern AT&T Stadium has been the home of the Cowboys since 2009. Metroplex residents know the stadium as The Death Star or one of a few other choice nicknames. If you want to ask somewhere where to find the stadium, have them point you in the direction of Jerry’s World.

Just across the massive parking lot is Globe Life Park. I still refer to it by its original name, The Ballpark in Arlington. It’s a classic structure that reminds you of baseball stadiums of the past. Every seat in the house is fantastic, and you can get game day seats for under $30 for most games. If you happen to plan your trip on a dollar hot dog day, you’ll be in baseball heaven. Both parks offer in-depth tours on non-game days, too.

Business Minded

Nestled between the two iconic sports stadiums is the Arlington Convention Center. With a massive 30,000-square-foot Grand Hall and another 40,000 square feet of exhibition space and meeting rooms, the convention center offers you plenty of options and amenities for meetings of five to 500.

It’s not all business when business travelers go to Arlington, though. If you need a team-building exercise, book a lane or 10 at Alley Cats or race at K1 Speed and beat the tar out of your boss with no guilt. For refreshments, you have to check out Arlington’s first locally owned brewery. The pretzel bites and pale ales are amazing at Division Brewery.

With its rapid growth and proximity to two major cities and a major international airport, Arlington, Texas, is on its way to becoming a household name. No matter what type traveler you are or what kind of trip you’re planning, Arlington has something for you.

 

5 Historical Attractions in Birmingham

Founded in 1871 as part of the post-Civil War Reconstruction efforts, Birmingham is a cornerstone of American history. Explore these five attractions to learn about Birmingham’s historical impact, which still affects our society today.

Civil Rights Institute

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Image by Bill Dillard via Trover.com

Located in the Civil Rights District, a beautiful area of town with hotels and restaurants, the Civil Rights Institute chronicles the course of the Civil Rights movement from 1950 to 1960. This interactive museum offers informative, haunting exhibits about the country’s struggles from segregation to integration. The many displays use life-size models, historic recordings, and multimedia features to show how the battles of the past are relevant today. Museum tickets cost $15, and discounts are available for children and seniors.

Jazz Museum

Also in the Civil Rights District is the Jazz Hall of Fame. From the early days of boogie-woogie to the latest jazz fusion, you can explore how jazz is woven into all musical genres, including hip hop, alternative, and rock. The Jazz Hall of Fame is also dedicated to nurturing future musicians. It offers classes and seminars for jazz enthusiasts of all ages. Nothing brings the world together like music.

Baptist Church

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Image by Jennifer Hott-Greenway via Trover.com

Don’t miss your chance to visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in the Civil Rights District. Established in 1873, this was the first African-American church in Alabama. It was the central meeting place for leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and in May 1963, the church was the starting point for marches and demonstrations. The church is best known as the site of the bombing that killed four little African-American girls. The tragedy led to a massive backlash and sparked the passing of the Civil Rights Bill of 1963.

Flight Museum

A short drive from the city you’ll find the largest aviation museum in the South. The 75,000-square-foot facility houses aircrafts, photos, and artifacts depicting the history of flight. You can sit in a World War II fighter jet or a modern-day A-12 Blackbird. The museum also explores the history of military flight, with exhibits from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Tuskegee Airmen. Museum tickets cost $7, but all military personnel and their families can enter for free.

Sports Hall of Fame

Sports and athletes are as influential today as they were in the past. At the Sports Hall of Fame, you can learn more about Alabama’s contributions to the world of sports. The museum has over 5,000 pieces of memorabilia from athletes who were born in Alabama, attended school in Alabama, or otherwise impacted sports in Alabama. This organization also encourages higher education by offering sports awards and scholarships to local high school athletes.

On some vacations, you plan for relaxation, and on others, you plan to learn something. Birmingham, Alabama, might not be the sexiest of vacation spots, but the city’s importance to the development of the South is clear in its historical sites. A visit to these places will give you a historical perspective on the social climate of our country today.

 

5 Must-See Attractions on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk

My first beach experience occurred in Virginia Beach. We booked a long weekend in a beautiful hotel with a view of the beach. As a fearless 4-year-old coming off my first season of swim lessons, I wiggled out of my father’s lap and sprinted toward the surf. I got chest-deep before learning a valuable lesson. Jellyfish are not a toddler’s friend. The only thing that made me feel better was the boardwalk. Safe from the sand and surf, the boardwalk became the best part of my beach vacation.

Concerts

During the summer months, the boardwalk is a mecca for entertainment, with four separate oceanfront stages along the three-mile boardwalk. One night a magician dazzles you with his hand tricks. The next evening, you can catch an Ella Fitzgerald tribute performance. The boardwalk features jazz singers, rock bands, and soulful crooners from the United States and Canada.

If you’re looking for your big break, book a set on a Virginia Beach Boardwalk stage. You’ll find new and up-and-coming local artists, too.

Fishing Pier

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Image via Trover.com by Rodney K

My father is an avid leisure fisherman, so one of my earliest memories of the boardwalk is of fishing off the pier. I hooked a whopper on my first visit but almost got pulled off the side. I was a legend on that 1,000-foot pier that day. It’s a popular spot, and if you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent it from the tackle shop.

Outdoor Dining

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Image via Trover.com by Vicki Samborski

Restaurants pepper the boardwalk, from quick eats to fine dining. As you might guess, the most popular options slant toward seafood, but the cuisines are as diverse as the patrons. You can find Italian, Greek, and Irish food and even a traditional steakhouse here. All offer outdoor dining with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. Boardwalk dining offers fantastic people-watching opportunities, too.

Festivals

There’s nothing like a festival to highlight the best of a place. Because the Virginia Beach Boardwalk has a lot of highlights, you can find festivals and celebrations scheduled all year long. Virginia Beach Restaurant Week allows you to sample the area’s many culinary offerings. On the Fourth of July, you’ll see one of the best fireworks shows in the United States. In winter, the Holiday Lights event offers breathtaking Christmas displays that you’ll have to see to believe.

King Neptune 

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Image via Trover.com by Pravin Mistry

The 24-foot, 12-ton bronze statue of Neptune towers over the entrance to the Neptune Festival Park. The city commissioned artist Paul DiPasquale to create this unique and powerful structure of the Roman god of the sea with a triton in his hand. It’s a popular photo op on the boardwalk, so be prepared for a big crowd.

In 2010, Travel & Leisure named the Virginia Beach Boardwalk one of America’s best boardwalks. In 2016, USA Today bestowed honors on the oceanfront in its best-of list. If it weren’t for the boardwalk, I might have never returned to the beach. Can you blame me?

If you want a beach vacation but aren’t a fan of the beach itself, check out the interesting sights on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. You won’t even miss the water!

Eating in Hyogo: More Than Beef

I’m not above booking a vacation focused on food, since that would take care of two items on my bucket list in one blow. There’s nothing like going somewhere new and tasting the local specialties. That’s why you have to partake in the local claim to fame, Kobe beef, when you visit Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture. Kobe isn’t just about the beef, though.

Hotel Restaurants in Kobe

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I’ve discovered that hotels have some of the best dining options in a new city, at least in Europe and Asia. In Kobe, staying at a noted hotel like the ANA Crowne Plaza Kobe is ideal for overwhelmed culinary travelers. Located across the footbridge from Shin-Kobe Rail Station, the hotel sits amidst colorful foliage and the hiking trails of the Rokko Mountains. The hotel houses seven restaurants, giving you the opportunity to sample a variety of cuisines all in one place.

American Cuisine in Kobe

Most modern cities who welcome foreigners have at least one American dining option. For new travelers, it might seem crazy to eat food you can get at home and waste an opportunity to partake in the local culture. Seasoned travelers understand that a little slice of home can go a long way, though. At Nailey’s Grill in Kobe, crowds line up for the exceptional burgers and nachos. This spot is also known for its salads.

Chinese Cuisine in Kobe

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Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a lot of Chinese influence in Japan. Located in the center of the city, Kobe’s Chinatown is one of three named Chinatown districts in Japan. Centuries ago, Chinese merchants settled near the busy port of Kobe, and Nankinmachi was born. Over the years, Kobe’s Chinese cuisine has evolved, but you can find steamed buns, dim sum, dumplings, and specialties from most regions of China here.

French Cuisine in Kobe

French culture is popular throughout Japan, and top French chefs like Joel Robuchon and Pierre Gagnaire have restaurants in Japan. As a result, some Japanese chefs have taken classic French cuisine and given it their own unique twist. In Kobe, Tatsuya Kishimoto opened Au Bec Fan. Here you can find beef bourguignon, crème brûlée, and other classic French dishes, but with a Japanese spin.

Kobe Beef in Kobe

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I’ve had Kobe beef in China, and it’s unbelievable. I imagine that trying this famous dish in the spot where it was first created will be quite a different experience, though. The manufacturing standards for this type of beef are strictly enforced, and not every type of beef can be Kobe beef. Most local establishments have a Kobe beef option on the menu, but some restaurants serve nothing but this delicate meat. Ask your hotel to recommend the best place to enjoy Kobe beef on your budget.

Kobe is a beautiful city with great food. Take the three-hour bullet train from Tokyo or the 15-minute train ride from Osaka, and experience the city’s cuisine in all it forms. Try it all, including the beef.