A recent discussion with some friends made me think about the souvenirs we buy from our trips, the trinkets from vacation, the gifts for other people. Why buy anything at all from these places? The cheap tourist stuff is probably made in China, and what good does a magnet from Puerto Rico do anyone? What’s the point of a souvenir?

Who are the Schwartaus?

“English, Irish, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German.” That was the mix of ethnicities that I could rattle off at a mile-a-minute whenever someone asked my heritage. “And possibly some Cherokee and Mexican.” We added that later after learning that my mom’s side of the family might have included Native Americans, and my dad’s relatives lived…

Six Reasons to Spend Six Weeks Abroad

In America, it’s uncommon to hear of people taking really long vacations or trips lasting more than two weeks because most companies in the US don’t offer much paid time off or allow people to work remotely. In Europe, things are a little different. Spain and Germany give their workers 34 days of paid vacation,…

Roadtripping around France

August 20, 2005. I was 20 years old, had 6 years of French under my belt, and got to fly international first class (!!!) avec mon père to Paris. Two full semesters studying abroad. I’d been planning this for years. A full year abroad was the whole reason I stayed in-state for college, letting scholarships…

How to Pack for 6 Weeks in 2 Carry-On Bags

We’re 38 days out from our Schwannema Euro Adventure, slowly checking things off of our pre-trip To Do list. And today, I knocked a big one off the list: doing a test-pack to make sure we can live out of carry-ons for 36 days.