I wish I had started this a long time ago, but here goes! I'm a mom to 2 sons and a step-daughter, with which I often travel. Internationally I've been to Toronto, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Why does that seem like such a short list? My to-do list is so much longer!

Europe » Russia October 3rd 2018

Ok, so I'm leaving tomorrow. There was a last minute flight change. NO stress at all. Was texted at 3:00am from the airlines saying my flight from Chicago to Helsinki was cancelled. No big deal, right?!?! Well, luckily the flight was automatically re-routed through London. Now flying Knoxville to Chicago to London to Moscow. So I'm getting there an hour later, no problem considering I thought the whole trip might be cancelled. Minor freak out. The upside being I don't have to deal with the Helsinki airport until my flight home. Heathrow will be much easier to negotiate on my flight to Moscow. Yay for English. I have all of my tours scheduled, so I'm getting to see pretty much what I wanted to see. All booked online. One minor snafu where I schedule St. Isaacs ... read more

Europe » Russia August 17th 2018

Yay! My visa was approved and I'm official to travel to Russia in the month of October. How stressful to send your passport away in the mail, fingers crossed that the company that you are using is legit and that it will make it to the Russian consulate and back? Whew. Glad that's done. I used a private company because the process to obtain the visa from the US is a little daunting and I didn't want any room for error. I basically paid my fee and filled out an application that contained the info they would need to file for the visa on my behalf. They also took care of the invitation letter that I needed, so I didn't have to go through one of my Airbnb hosts because I'm not staying in a hotel. ... read more

Europe July 22nd 2018

It is relevant to note that I plan all of my trips myself. I have yet to rely on a travel company, though I may one day. For now, I like to research and plan where I am going and set up an itinerary that works for me. Once I've picked a destination and decide how much time I have, I go ahead and research and book my flight. Since my time is usually limited, I have gotten into the habit of flying into one destination and out of another to save time on backtracking. Most airlines or booking agencies let you do this with no problem. This time, I'll be flying in to Moscow and out of St. Petersburg, taking a train between the two half-way thru the trip. As a bonus, I worked it ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre July 20th 2018

So, I've been wanting to take a solo trip for a while now. It's easy to get people to go to Europe with you. Even Iceland. Costa Rica? Heck yeah. Machu Picchu? Sign them up, even my kids. Who wants to go to Russia?? (((((crickets)))) So, there you have it. The logical choice for my first solo trip. Plane tickets aren't so expensive if you are willing to travel in economy. Airbnbs are cheap. I think I'm spending around $300 for 6 nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I used hotel points for a free night in Finland for my layover home. Bonus country! Get to spend the evening and the next morning exploring Helsinki. The rub? Finding out that U.S. Citizens need a Visa to enter Russia. Embassy fees run about $150. However, dealing with ... read more

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