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Happy Christmas aftermath! My living room looks like a toy store exploded, how about you? I must have been a pretty good girl because I got a few really fun travel goodies, some of which are heading with me to Europe when I return.

I have plenty of travel gear, but I’m always impressed by my family’s ability to find new things for the road. My mother-in-law in an ace at this as she shares my passion for travel. Want to see what Santa brought?

Michael Kors Black Leather Gloves- My top ask was for a pair of lined leather gloves. I tend to start the tour season when it’s still chilly in March, so some nice gloves will bring the heat and style. I’ll never be as stylish as an Italian, but at least I can pretend. I’ll probably never be as hot blooded, either, so keeping my perpetually frigid digits is a public service, really. These gloves were from my baby, Nico, who spent several anguished trips to the mall searching for gloves large enough for my long fingers. He found them in XL at Macy’s and they are perfect! What a sweet boy.

Loqi bags– Since I live in Seattle I have lots of reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags were banned here a few years back and if you don’t bring your own shopping bag to the store, the checker looks at you like you’ve just arrived from Mars. I keep several in my car to avoid feeling foolish. I’ve taken to bringing a few in my travels too, loaning them to people who brought backpacks or for shopping. I often prepare picnics or wine tastings for my tour groups, strong bags are required for wine for 28 people! My mother-in-law bought me this adorable set of lightweight shopping bags with a travel theme, which came in a little zippered sack that would be perfect for my art supplies.

Kikkerland Super Mini Fan– An adorable little fan that showed up in my stocking of travel goodies, about the size of a AA battery. I laughed at this one, it brought back a funny memory. There was a tour one summer where the ladies (mostly 50’s and 60’s) were all occupying the front rows of the bus and complaining about the heat, even if the AC was cranked up so high that I practically had icicles growing on my eyebrows. I could have sold little fans like this to my ladies in the “Hot Lady Club” for a fortune! This will be good for the summer, for the hot and dusty days in the Forum.

Kleenex Slim Packs- You know that I am geeky about the packing/tour guiding thing when I get excited about Kleenex. I got these cute little packs that look like wallets and that will slip easily into a pocket. I don’t need them for sneezes, but for all of the icky situations that come up, be that gross toilets, doorknobs or suspicious wet spots on public transportation.

Luggage tag- I needed a new one, and this is so cute and so true. Although, now I’m inspired to make art for all of you, I’m thinking about designing my own tags with an adventure theme.

Bobino Folding Phone Holder– Possibly my favorite travel gift, I’m hoping this will work. I get stuck trying to find a good charging spot in my hotel room all the time. This little hanger hooks over the charger base and holds your phone wherever the outlet is. Genius!

Kitten bandages–  You all know how I love tinkering with my Box of Awesome. A few years ago, a tour member gifted me a box of absurd bandages with silly quotes like “Tis but a flesh wound” and I’ve come to adore them. Nothing is worse than being injured in a strange land, so making my clients laugh in a scary situation is golden to me. I’m always on the lookout for adorable/absurd/delightful first aid supplies to take the sting out. For 2017 it’s kittens! Yay!

I also got a gray cashmere sweater and tall black Uggs, both of which will be coming along on my next trip. I’m all about softness and warmth in off-season travel. My mother-in-law spoils me!

I usually get lots of books, but only got one this year, “The Girl from Venice” which is a mystery about Venice during WWII. It looks interesting, particularly as there isn’t much written about that timeframe.

I did give a book that I’ll probably buy and found a few others that I resisted buying myself. Ross King has been a favorite author of mine for a long time and he just released a book, “Mad Enchantment” about the painting of Monet’s “Waterlilies”.

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Another book on my list is the new one from Thomas Madden, who wrote my favorite history of Venice. His new book is about the city of Istanbul, a natural companion to the Venice book. Buying other people books for Christmas is sad because I get so excited about the books I’ve chosen…and then give them away.

That’s the Christmas report from here. Did you get any travel related goodies? I’d love to hear what you got! Share in the comments, give us all some ideas on how to use the gift certificates we received!

AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.


  • Isabel Lau says:

    My husband gave me the Rick Steves Switzerland book. I do hope that means we will be heading out on another tour.

  • Toni says:

    My daughter and I were given Osprey farpoint 40 packs for our month long trip through the U.K. this summer. We plan to use many of your packing tips to keep our packs around 15 lbs.i also gave her two of your prints. Thanks for all you do.

  • Andi Cody says:

    Sarah, I have so enjoyed the print you so generously sent. It’s just perfect and I would be first in line to buy your personally designed luggage tags! As always, I found lots of good information here as well as thoroughly enjoying reading your posts every day!

  • Carol L. says:

    Although I’ve reached an age where I receive mostly candy or other food-related gifts (but no calories there, LOL!), I did get a wonderful travel-related gift: a LifeStraw water bottle with 2-stage filtration — this will be great since during our travels we spend too much time searching-for and carrying-back-to-the-room sufficient bottled water!

  • Barbara Blizzard says:

    As a long time member of the “Hot Ladies Club”, I carry a supply of large bandanas when I travel. I get the bandana wet and wrap it around my neck to help cool off. When I see others struggling with the heat, I pass along one of the spares. This might help you on the bus! And many thanks for the print – I got Paris which we have visited yearly since 2000.

  • Melva O'Connor-Rafuse says:

    Happy New Year Sarah:I bought mysef the rick steves packing cubes and I received the travel laundry bag.I hope to pick up a Sicily Rick Steves tour next year..2018! starting saving now as our Canadian dollar is pretty weaklove love love your posts and blog…they make my day.Mj

  • Megan David says:

    Hi Sarah,I also love the beautiful block print you sent and would be thrilled to purchase luggage tags designed by you.My daughter gave me a Vapur collapsible water bottle for Christmas that is as light as a feather (when empty). Iti can be folded, frozen and comes with a caribiner. Looks perfect!Happy New Year.

  • Barbara says:

    I’m currently reading Madden’s “Venice” and loving it, thanks for the recommendation. Also, an historical fiction you might enjoy is “Villa Triste” by Lucretia Grindle. It’s set in 1943 Florence and centers around a family, two sisters and life, war, the resistance, etc. . .Doing lots of reading before my first trip to Italy (VFR) this spring and have been using many of your recommendations. Thanks.

  • Katherine says:

    I got a Native Union tag cable. Don’t have it yet but I’m also getting an Eddie Bauer First Ascent jacket. I lost my favorite EB jacket 3 weeks ago at the zoo with the granddaughters. 🙁 I took that jacket everywhere in Italy as it was lightweight, packable, colorful, and rain resistant.Love your blog and am catching up on past posts. Loved reading about your adventure with Nico. Bummed that I missed the print offer.

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