Travel plans & blogging myths - une femme d'un certain âge

Thursday miscellany: travel plans & blogging myths

Looking westward along the Seine in Paris at dusk. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Hint…

Yes, we’re headed back to Paris!! We leave in a week, and will be staying for a full two weeks this time, finishing up with a few days in London.

Over the last two years, we’d booked some trips months in advance (to be able to use frequent flyer miles) thinking, “well for SURE, things should be opened up by then.” 😆 We kept having to push travel back due to Covid, and this is a trip we’d originally intended to take last spring.

We’ll be taking the same precautions we do at home: masking indoors in public, avoiding tightly packed crowds and dining outdoors whenever possible.

Changing how we travel

Our trip to Italy last fall was fabulous, but we agreed that bouncing around from location to location every few days is just too wearing, and feels more rushed and frenetic than we like. And driving in Europe can be stressful (not to mention expensive).

We’re going to try a different approach this time. We’ve rented an apartment for two weeks to use as a base. We can do some day or overnight trips out from there (using trains or other public transport) without having to pack everything up and change locations. And we can eat some of our meals in, which will save a little money too. We booked the apartment through VRBO this time, will let you know how it all goes.

And of course I’m working on a travel wardrobe, will share next week!

Busting some blogging myths

Every now and then, I feel like I need to clear up some misconceptions about blogging in general, and what I do specifically. The beauty of blogging is that it’s so individualized. Each person I know who blogs as a business goes about it a little (or a lot) differently. So what I say here may not apply to other bloggers or influencers.

First, my goal and purpose is to help you find stylish and practical wardrobe solutions, while embracing personal style. Getting dressed should be a pleasure, not a chore. I don’t consider myself a “Fashion” blogger. So you won’t find me modeling the latest fashions, with a new and different look every day. (If that’s the content you’re looking for, there are lots of other 50+ bloggers who do this well, check out my Daily Reads page.)

Myth #1: bloggers/influencers get lots of free clothing/designer goods

It depends on the blogger/influencer, their audience, relationship with brands, and their style focus. I rarely receive gifted items (which I always disclose when shown), and don’t have access to a designer fashion closet somewhere to borrow from. I prefer it that way; I’d rather be authentic in what I share.*

My outfits and travel capsules are from my own wardrobe, purchased for my own use. Not everyone is going to want to wear what I do, so I try to use collages and other visuals to provide outfit ideas and suggestions.

*I have no quarrel with bloggers who feature more gifted items, nor do I assume they are being inauthentic. It’s just a personal choice.

Myth #2: bloggers/influencers get paid to travel or get to travel for free

If only. 😉

Some of the bigger (audience-wise) bloggers may do a lot of sponsored travel. We don’t receive (or solicit) free trips, hotel discounts, or any kind of compensation. Nor do we travel with an assistant, photographer, or styling team. We have to be able to manage luggage on our own, and make all of our own travel arrangements. Our trips are usually our vacations, and we’re doing a lot of the same things you may be doing on your vacations: sightseeing, walking tours, museums, etc.

So I don’t pack a lot of impractical clothing when I travel, just to be photographed in. I need to be able to fit everything in a suitcase that I can shlep around an airport, up flights of stairs, on and off trains. The clothes I do pack have to be functional, comfortable, appropriate, and versatile. If that means they’re not as novel and exciting, well, that’s the trade-off.

Ultimately, I think this is more helpful to those of you who travel than showing outfits I’d never wear otherwise while traveling.

Some good sales on now…

Aquatalia40% off sale items with code EXTRA40 (I almost always travel with a pair of Aquatalia weatherproof boots.)

Talbot’s25% off select styles

J.Crewup to 50% off “dressy” styles

Thanks for reading!

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

50 Comments

  1. Adele
    March 24, 2022 / 2:51 am

    Safe travels, and have a marvelous time! Can’t wait to read your trip reports — j’adore Paris :~).
    I love your approach to blogging and your commitment to keep things authentically YOU.

    • Marian
      March 24, 2022 / 7:27 am

      I agree!

      • Jen
        March 24, 2022 / 10:00 am

        So true!

  2. Denise Lalande
    March 24, 2022 / 4:03 am

    So anxious to hear all about your trip.
    For us there are many advantages to renting a small apartment vs a hôtel. I think you will love it.

    Enjoy your holiday!

  3. Taste of France
    March 24, 2022 / 4:21 am

    Something new since Covid: it’s almost obligatory to reserve timed tickets to get into major sites like the Louvre and other museums. And time slots disappear fast, so plan ahead. The benefits are shorter/faster entry lines and less crowding. I noticed this in Amsterdam, London and NY, as well as in Paris. In London, it turned out that reservations are necessary for even tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants if they’re popular. Some restaurants even want the reservation held with a credit card. If it’s important to you to go to a certain place, plan ahead.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      March 24, 2022 / 4:51 am

      Thanks, and yes, this was our experience in Italy last fall. We have a list of exhibitions and restaurants and are going to start making reservations now.

  4. Chris
    March 24, 2022 / 4:31 am

    Hi Susan, we’re headed to Napa in May. At a loss as to what to bring, any suggestions? I know you had posted your capsule wardrobe for your fall vacation there. Thanks!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      March 24, 2022 / 4:55 am

      Hi Chris, it really depends on what activities you have planned and where you’ll be staying. For going out in the evenings, think “elegant casual.” The weather can be quite warm there in May, so be sure to check the forecasts before you go. Here’s my recap from our fall trip in 2019: https://unefemme.net/fall-wine-country-travel-wardrobe-recap.html

  5. Carillon
    March 24, 2022 / 4:53 am

    Just returned from London. It was wonderful to be back; met up with friends, saw ‘Hamilton’ and the ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibit. A perfect trip after missing London for so long. The only stressful part was having to call in to take the Covid test to be allowed to fly home. No testing required to get there. Very few people with masks on.

  6. Libby Wilkie
    March 24, 2022 / 5:07 am

    Definitely agree about renting apartments. We’re going, again, to London end of May and rent in the same building always. Then we’re free to go for overnights down to Kent, or wherever. And I prefer to make my own breakfast!

  7. C.D.
    March 24, 2022 / 5:16 am

    Susan, I appreciate your blog’s transparency and your efforts to show how we can use our own wardrobes in different ways for different situations. Your travel tips — and those from your readers — have been especially helpful. i just returned from a two-week trip to Southern California and used your strategy to plan out what clothes to take. My only addition was to use compression packing cubes to organize my carry-on suitcase. Being able to compress the clothes made good use of every inch (with space for a few extras I “needed” to buy while there). Looking forward to your next posts about your travels.

  8. RoseAG
    March 24, 2022 / 5:27 am

    Staying in one place and renting a place should make it easier to stick to CVOID protocols.
    A lot of moving around and transport connections leave you in air that gazillions of people have been in contact with.

  9. Meg
    March 24, 2022 / 5:39 am

    Safe travels! Look forward to hearing more about your trip and your experience with staying in an apartment. Love your blog and how you stay true to you.

  10. Téa
    March 24, 2022 / 5:43 am

    Have a bon voyage, Susan! Thank you for taking us with you and sharing your adventures! Love this blog, so!!

  11. Janet
    March 24, 2022 / 5:48 am

    We rented an apartment in Paris years ago. We stayed there for a week. We loved being in a neighborhood. Look for the weekly street market that usually happens. We loved being able to buy local food and eat in our apartment. Now we rent houses/apartments whenever we travel. It gives you a different vibe from staying in a hotel.

    • Marian
      March 24, 2022 / 7:28 am

      Yes. We like to do this too.

  12. Lila
    March 24, 2022 / 6:04 am

    Have a wonderful trip. I am interested in your apartment rental experience. We are planning on renting next summer for an extended stay in Paris!

  13. deanna
    March 24, 2022 / 6:08 am

    Your trip to Paris sounds lovely! Can’t wait to see pictures of the apartment and your travel capsule wardrobe. I love your blog just as it is, featuring items that work together for you in timeless versions. A new look every day can be overload. Not my reality. I too prefer fewer pieces….but who knows? Maybe if I had more closets? 🙂

  14. Debra
    March 24, 2022 / 6:08 am

    We always rent an apartment in Paris; in fact, I have two lined up for this summer, one rented through AirBnB and one through VRBO (I’ll be staying in a smaller one myself for two weeks, and then will move to a larger place when my family arrives). I, as you noted, like to settle in and ‘live’ in the place I’m visiting, and an apartment allows me to do that. I hope that you’ll post information about your apartment after you return – it’s always nice to learn about new rentals!

    Thank you for allowing us to peek behind the scenes at the way your blog works. I always do appreciate your posts because while I am very different from you, style-wise, I always take something useful away from each of your posts. I can’t say that with all blogs!

    Off to London tonight with a small carryon and my cabin bag (which I have to confess is a pretty good sized pliage bag). It took me a couple of hours yesterday to pack but I think I’ve got a great wardrobe in that tiny case, thanks to the advice you’ve given, which kept running through my head as I packed. Certainly at least the plaid pants were your inspiration! Again, merci mille fois.

  15. NancyMK
    March 24, 2022 / 6:12 am

    Susan, which quartier will you. be in? In May we will be (crossed fingers) in the 6th not far from the Bon Marche, lovely to shop for food there and in small shops.We have rented an apartment in Paris many times, always with good results.
    My husband loves to shop and cook dinner so restaurants just for lunch. Wonderful for the wine merchant and butcher to treat us like inhabitants of the quartier.

  16. Linda V\
    March 24, 2022 / 6:22 am

    Gee. I am jealous! didn’t you just get back from London? have a great time. I think the last time you went to Paris that it was a horrble heat wave. 2019 right? Weather should be nice now. Have a great time

  17. Karen B
    March 24, 2022 / 6:30 am

    Have a great time in Paris! I will be in France for the month of May. I am meeting my daughter in Paris the first week. This will be the third time using the same apartment rental company. We are staying on I’ll Saint Louis this time. We are taking a cooking class and an evening tour but the rest of the time is free to wander since we have been there many times.

  18. Candy
    March 24, 2022 / 6:30 am

    Hi Susan, just an FYI I flew yesterday from Sarasota to DC and noticed a lot of ladies in striped tops! It’s a trend that has taken over. I was glad I wasn’t wearing one of my many striped tops I have now. Last autumn, it was animal print everywhere at the airport and now it’s stripes!

  19. Lynda Davis
    March 24, 2022 / 6:44 am

    Can’t wait for your Paris reports as I’m heading there for the first two weeks of June for a trip that has been postponed for Two years. Take lots of pictures to share with us. Thanks and bon voyage.

  20. Sandra
    March 24, 2022 / 6:49 am

    Have a wonderful trip, Susan. We started renting apartments in Paris about 12 years ago and find it more enjoyable for an extended stay. After walking around all day, it’s lovely to have dinner in and relax. Having a washer/dryer is another bonus!

    In which arrondissement will you be staying? You might be interested in Ina Caro’s book about day trips from Paris. The SNCF has been advertising OUIGO tickets to certain destinations for 10 Euros.

    Sandra

  21. Kami
    March 24, 2022 / 7:25 am

    I do all the trip planning in our family, and having taken trips both ways, I agree with your strategy to establish a “home base” and then take day trips from there. For our “belated” 20th anniversary several years ago we took a 10 day trip to Paris. We stayed at one hotel but took day trips to Giverny and Versailles (technically still in Paris, I suppose, but you do have to take a train to get there) and a champagne tour in Reims. We used trains and the Metro for all our transit (we took the train to Reims, but the Viator tour of Champagne provided their own van to get to the vineyards). It was much more relaxing to settle in to a place as opposed to unpacking and repacking every few days (no doubt why cruises are so popular!) Staying at a hotel was pricey though, and eating out every night was a little overwhelming on the digestion. I have had both good and bad experiences in the US with VRBO and AirBnB (the honesty and helpfulness of the host can make or break your stay), so I will be excited to hear how your rental went. A friend of mine had very good things to say about One Fine Stay for Paris rentals, but I have never used them. I wonder if any of your readers have?

  22. Shybiker
    March 24, 2022 / 7:45 am

    Lucky you! Enjoy the trip. Good tips on blogging. I can’t believe people think you can get something for nothing. Brands make deals only when they see it in their interest and turning yourself into a free-lance sales-person is a job.

  23. Kris
    March 24, 2022 / 7:48 am

    I’m betting you’ll really enjoy your rental in Paris. We’ve rented at least 20 times from VRBO and never had a bad experience. (In US and abroad, ten times in Paris). There is so much pleasure in having a “permanent” home to return to each night and getting to know your city and neighborhood in depth. Pre-Covid, we rented a cottage near Orleans for three weeks; it was truly memorable. We’re scheduled to rent a house in St. Remy in Provence this fall, sharing it with two other couples for four weeks. Can’t wait! Bon voyage! And thanks for the great articles.

  24. Elizabeth
    March 24, 2022 / 7:50 am

    Susan, thanks for “busting some blogging myths”. I appreciate your transparency on gifting, how you really travel, and why you pack the clothes you do. My travel wardrobes, when I look back on photos, aren’t exciting. But the style is very classic, comfortable shoes like my 10 year old Mephisto Mary Janes, and clothing that is washable & dries by the next morning. Interesting, too, because no matter where I’ve been in Europe, Iceland, the British Isles, shop keepers start talking to me in their language. So, I guess I fit in, for better or for worse! !

  25. Lee
    March 24, 2022 / 7:52 am

    We’ve rented in Paris with Paris Perfect. Apartments were great and in our desired location, the 7th. Bon voyage snd God go with you.

  26. Judy
    March 24, 2022 / 8:03 am

    Love your approach! Keep it up.

  27. Ellen F
    March 24, 2022 / 8:36 am

    The last big trip we did was to spend 10 weeks in London in a rented apartment. It was wonderful. As I’ve gotten older, I find I am less interested in breadth and more interested in depth. We got a sense of how Londoners really live. I loved going grocery shopping and seeing all the differences in what people buy. Living with British washers and dryers was an experience! We got to know our local pub. We were able to see lots of theater. And I got to go back to museums that were too much for one visit, Like the VA Museum and the British Museum. We were able to take short trips to Bath, Scotland, and the Cotswolds. You will love spending all that time in Paris!

    • Ginger Whelan
      March 24, 2022 / 10:43 am

      what company did you use to rent in London?

  28. Karen
    March 24, 2022 / 8:42 am

    We also enjoy renting apartments in Europe. Thank you for your very realistic blog and great travel information.

  29. Gayle
    March 24, 2022 / 8:50 am

    We have rented apartments in Paris (twice), Nice, London, California, South Carolina, Florida, Albufeira. It gives you a completely different feel for a place when you have to find the grocery store and maybe ask for green beans when they only speak Portuguese and I speak none! Have a wonderful trip.

  30. Carol Montanti
    March 24, 2022 / 8:57 am

    Hi Susan, maybe I will run into you in Paris! I leave April 1! This time I am staying in two different hotels, just because i only booked this trip last week and couldn’t find a good apartment in my budget range at the last moment. But I have had lots of luck with apartments in Paris and in France, all on vrbo, all great. It’s airbnb that I avoid like the plague, although I have survived a couple bookings with them but they are notorious for cancelling! Nice that France has dropped its health pass, one less thing to have to take care of (and of course Macron needs to get re-elected in April). I have just been on the websites for some of the museums and there is lots of availability it seems. One of my former hosts in Paris said she thinks bookings can be easily made just a couple days in advance, which is nice since I find weather in paris is something to take into account, it’s a shame to be indoors on a beautiful day! Enjoy your stay!

  31. Florida Lyn
    March 24, 2022 / 9:03 am

    Love that you mentioned carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs as one reason to pack light. It happens every time I go to Europe as they are not as diligent about accessibility as we are in the US.

  32. Lady in Jeans
    March 24, 2022 / 9:16 am

    I appreciate your approach. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.

  33. Linda
    March 24, 2022 / 9:36 am

    We always stay in AIRBNB’s or apartment hotels, as traveling with two teenage boys it gives us more room. We’ve been traveling with them for 8 years for 6-10 weeks every summer. We’ve only had one AIRBNB cancel and it was two months in advance and we ended up finding a better place. We always eat breakfast in and most dinners eating lunch out while sight seeing. We’ve stayed in some beautiful apartments over the years. One in Florence that had 18th century frescos painted on the walls and this summer we have an apartment in Copenhagen with a huge roof top patio and enclosed kitchen on the roof to cook with amazing views over the city. It gives you a real sense of living in the neighborhood that you don’t get at a hotel. I hope you enjoy it and safe travels. We’ll be spending 3 weeks in Aix en Provence and end with 3 days in Paris. We’re looking forward to international again.

  34. Nancy Karpen
    March 24, 2022 / 10:53 am

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. Enjoy and stay safe. It sounds much less hectic than your last trip. and it’s nice to have a home base and take day trips. You’ve been to Paris a lot, do you do repeat visits to places you love or look for new places to explore?

  35. Barbara
    March 24, 2022 / 11:26 am

    Susan! I’m so excited for you and your upcoming trip! Please keep us posted with lots of travel pics, your wardrobe, how your apartment worked out and everything else! I’m living vicariously through you! Can’t wait! And, of course, wishing you safe travels!

  36. Michelle
    March 24, 2022 / 1:52 pm

    So excited about your Paris trip! I’ve learned a lot from you about packing, so your travel posts are always a favorite of mine (start with the shoes!). My family of 3 rented a 2 bedroom apartment in Paris 5 years ago through Air B&B; it was one of the best trips ever. Loved having space to spread out & relax in, eat some meals in, & having a washer & dryer was wonderful. Safe travels!

  37. Elizabeth
    March 24, 2022 / 2:23 pm

    Looking forward to seeing your travel outfits ..What a beautiful time to be in Paris.. Enjoy your vacation

  38. Eileen
    March 25, 2022 / 5:21 am

    I love your travel advice, especially shoes! My husband and I are renting a apartment in Florence Italy again for two months. We leave next week. We have used VRBO mostly, with no problems. We eat in, with the occasional meal out, we eat on our terrace happily. Each apartment we rent ( Italy and Paris so far) gives us a different neighborhood feel, we love that. It’s fun to be a temporary “local”. My husband’s family are Italian, my mother was from Copenhagen, we are very fortunate to able to travel again, we love ( and miss) the city vibes.

  39. Maggie Vita
    March 25, 2022 / 10:36 am

    I just returned from Paris/Lyon last night. We stayed in airbnb apartments in both cities – as we always do – and really enjoy having a kitchen available for meal prep, more than one room to move around in, and just feeling like we live there temporarily. Our apartments both had washer/dryers which really helped with our pared-down wardrobes. Although I did better this trip as far as over-packing shoes (took 3 and used them all!), I still overpacked in general and didn’t wear everything I brought. For me, lesson learned is don’t be so concerned with fitting in or trying to look French, wear what I like and am comfortable in. It’s been a few years since I was last in France and I noticed that women are dressing more casually that in the past. There were plenty of put-together looking women wearing primarily black but I saw a good amount of jeans and – dare I say it – leggings! Next trip, I have a much better idea of a minimal capsule wardrobe that can be dressed up or down and will easily fit into a carry on suitcase. Love following your travel adventures, Susan, and looking to you for style/packing/travel inspiration.

  40. Renee D
    March 25, 2022 / 2:30 pm

    One of the main reasons I read your blog is that it’s clear that unless you’re taking pictures in a store dressing room, you are probably wearing your own clothes. You repeat pieces and outfits (the horror! When did “outfit repeating” become so novel that it needed a special term??) and I feel like I am seeing what you wear in real life, not just an outfit you just “unboxed” [eyeroll], put on for the photos, and then changed back into whatever you actually wear. I understand that there are bloggers who make their living off of that model, which is basically what it is, modeling. And that’s fine, but that’s not what I’m after. I prefer sources that are more about personal style and actual lifestyle than a bunch of this week’s sales links (not that I mind a monetized link to an item I might wish to buy.) I feel like you strike a very good balance between sponsored posts/try-ons and real life which is why I, not-petite, not Francophile, not living in Southern CA, not yet empty nested and retired, come here

  41. No Fear of Fashion
    March 26, 2022 / 2:46 am

    Meeting you in Paris has given me the challenge to look stylish yet comfortable. Especially where it concerns footwear. This is always a challenge for me as I love high heels. Mind you, since my retirement I had to change that to more sensible shoes, so i am confident I will come up with something to make you proud of me haha.
    Greetje

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      March 26, 2022 / 5:17 am

      Greetje, you always manage to look so stylish…I’m not worried, LOL!

  42. Kathy
    March 29, 2022 / 12:34 pm

    I’m so happy for you that you get to return to Paris! I love to have a “home base” when I travel, and not have to pack up and move every couple of days. I was able to visit Paris in 2018 and rented two different apartments, and really enjoyed that experience for several different reasons. It’s especially great if you’re traveling with someone outside your own household and therefore can share expenses 🙂

    I love your blog and style, and even though your coloring and body shape are different from mine, I still learn from what you share, and definitely enjoy seeing your outfits and reading about your travels. Your blog is a happy place for me.

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