Bag a Box

Balikbayan Box CoverAs Dede & I were gearing up for our return trip to Moscow, Russia, we struggled to find a way to pack a large box of provisions that would still be well-sealed even after security inspection.   I was concerned that the TSA officials might not be especially thorough about re-taping the box seams which could lead to the box tearing open in transit and spilling out much-needed cargo.   Clems came to the rescue with a simple, but incredibly effective solution — the Balikbayan Box Cover.

The Balikbayan Box Cover is a heavy-duty canvas bag with reinforced seams, industrial-strength zipper, & side handles that’s designed specifically to fit a 20″ x 20″ x 20″ cardboard box (commonly available at paper goods companies and/or office supply shops).   At 60 linear inches, this conforms to major airline luggage size restrictions, although I discovered that you do have to be pretty creative to keep the weight within the 50 lb. limit in such a large box.   The beauty of the box cover is that after TSA officials inspect and reseal your box, they can zip the top flap on the bag closed and your box is further protected from re-opening.   The bag also helps guard your box (and its contents) from rough airline baggage handling.

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Moscow stampMaybe it’s a generational thing, but even though I was only 5 years old when it originally debuted, I can’t get The Beatles’ Back in the U.S.S.R. outta my head.   Why?   Well, we are.   Sorta.   Okay, technically, the "U.S.S.R." hasn’t existed in many years (extra history class bonus points to anyone who can name the year that it dissolved — without using Google!) but we’re back in Russia, so that’s close enough!

We had a nice, impromptu sendoff at the airport from our pal Rhonda L., who just happened to be also be jetting out early Friday morning.

As before — but even moreso now — there’s no way to thank you all enough for the tremendous outpouring of love, support, & prayers.   We’re truly blessed to have had so many of you rallying for us during the long journey to our adoption!

Keep an eye on our Russian Adoption Journal over the next 3 weeks for updates from Moscow.

Save XP!

Today, January 14th, the editors at InfoWorld formally launched their “Save Windows XP” campaign.   With Microsoft planning to stop both OEM & shrink-wrapped sales of the OS as of June 30th, the clock is ticking…

Now, sure, Windows Vista is plenty snappy-looking, but it simply doesn’t offer anything more than system-sapping graphics fluff and there’s still lots of productive life left in venerable ol’ Windows XP.   XP is, by far, still the best choice to get the most bang out of your hardware buck!

Join the grassroots initiative and sign the petition at and go to to discover more Windows programs!

More Travel Tips

Vagabondish logo
Not long after I posted my January Blogtipping article dedicated to travel blogs, I discovered Mike Richard’s excellent Vagabondish weblog.   Although relatively new, this group blog offers some awesome and very practical travel tips & techniques for nearly every kind of traveler.   Just a few of the standout articles I’ve come across on the site are:

January ’08 Blogtripping

Blogtipping iconInspired by our upcoming return trip to Moscow, I chose "travel" as the focal point of January’s Blogtipping post.   While it’s certainly exciting, travel can also sometimes be quite stressful.   But here are just a handful of great travel blogs that can help get you organized, ease some of your worries, and help prep for your next big trip:

Jauntly is a very new blog by Ilana Smith that’s dedicated to frugal, practical travel.   I’m keeping my eye on this blog because:

  1. Unlike some blogs that assume travel means cargo shorts & hiking boots, Jauntly has an "everyman" perspective — y’know, travel for the rest of us.
  2. Very practical packing tips!
  3. Clean site design!
  • Tip: It’s a new blog, so it just needs more posts.

TravelGearBlog from the BootsnAll Travel Network staff covers the world of travel gear & gadgets.   It’s worth a look because:

  1. Previews & reviews of loads of products for travellers.
  2. "How to" articles to make the most of your gadgets on the go.
  3. I really like those Weekly Gear Guides!
  • Tip: There’s lots of info on the gear, but not much yet on what to carry your stuff in — I’d like to see more bags & luggage reviewed.

Travelhacker is another fairly new resource for all types of globetrotters, from business travelers to vacation travelers on a shoestring budget that offers tips on bookings, vacation spots, and perks.   There’s lots to like about this blog:

  1. Tons of useful& very practical tips for travelers.
  2. Posts include a wide variety of tourism & travel topics.
  3. Frequent posts means there’s always fresh and interesting stuff to read on this blog!
  • Tip: The content is great, but could also benefit from a few photos here & there.

As a bonus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Travel category of Michael Davis’ excellent FamilyHack blog.   Michael & gang offer some great practical and (especially for us) very timely advice on traveling with kids.

luggage iconAlso be sure to check out Doug Dyment’s OneBag (formerly "The Compleat Carryon Traveller").   While this is more of a reference site rather than a blog, there’s a wealth of travel packing insights to be found there.   Even if you can’t quite commit to Doug’s philosophy to only ever travel with a single carry-on bag, you’re sure to find tons of useful information that you can use when preparing for your next excursion.

Now it’s your turn!   Have a favorite travel-related blog site you’d like to share?   Post a comment and let us in on it!