Almost like “Seinfeld,” a lot of these thoughts are about seemingly “nothing,” or at least they are very trivial in the overall picture of wine travel. Since this issue of the Wine Lovers Travel newsletter is coming to you only one day into our Piedmont trip hosted by Pelletiere Estate, let me share some thoughts and ideas about getting to our starting point of Milan.

Pack Hacks
This first week escorting the Pelletiere Estate group is only the start of a full 4 weeks in Europe. You’ll also be hearing from me as I head into Puglia, Basilicata, the Amalfi Coast, and then 2 weeks in Paris! How to pack for 4 weeks?

Packing cubes!
I already knew the trick of rolling up clothes, which works great. But doesn’t solve for organization and space efficiency. I kept reading about packing cubes as the answer, and now that I have them, I am a believer!

My first set came from REI and they are definitely superior to the cheaper ones I ordered from Amazon, made from some unknown Chinese company. Both use compression, meaning that they have double zippers. One to open and load, the second to compress out all the air. The REI ones are better because the zippers are smoother and the compression is greater. Still, both work fine. Using about 6 cubes, I was able to pack a month’s worth of clothes, including a cocktail dress (needed for a Paris event), and didn’t have to expand my 26” (medium sized) checked bag.

It’s not only liquids that get routed out in security
Since I checked a bag, I put all my liquids, primarily toiletries, in my checked suitcase. To give myself an added option just in case I needed to move some to my carryon later in the trip, I put all the obvious liquids, like foundation, toothpaste and colognes, in a clear one quart bag.

What I did put in my carryon was a small container of a certain powdered substance I add to my morning coffee that many of us use to keep our digestive systems on track. If you use this, you know what I mean! My carryon rolled through the security scan at LAX, no problem.

But when I arrived at London Heathrow, my connection point to Milan, they make you run the gauntlet on trains, escalators and long corridors before having to once again go through security. I sailed through along with my computer bag. But my carryon got derailed for the dreaded hand check. The security agent was nice enough, but went through everything in the rollaboard. The culprit was my container of Miralax! This wasn’t the first time this has happened, so word to the wise. Pack powders in your checked bags or make sure you’ve allowed extra time to go through security.

Suitcase cover. My new best friend
About a year ago, it was time to get a new checked bag. My existing one had traveled enough. Wanting to get one to match my green soft sided rollaboard made by Delsey, I learned that color had been discontinued. If you know me, you know I’m all about fashion and functionality.

The only one I found after way too much time searching, was a humongous 29-inch version. I did use it on a couple of trips, but it was unwieldy, even with 4 decent wheels. Fortunately, my long-time luggage store was nice enough to let me trade it in for something else.

I ended up with a 26-inch Ricardo bag. I chose it because I liked the design and pockets, and because it was pretty—a white and navy blue abstract design. And I’ve already admitted to being all about fashion! But I’m also practical and knew that one trip and my lovely bag would be battered and scuffed, never to be so pretty again. What to do?

My trusty friend Amazon gave me the answer. A clear luggage cover! Once you close up your suitcase, you slide it over your bag and Velcro it closed on the bottom. Worked like a charm, and here I am writing this from my hotel in Milan, next to my clean and pretty navy and white bag.

Apple+ TV works in Europe!
This may seem silly, but as excited as I was to embark on this trip, I was a little disappointed that I’d have to wait a month to see “Lessons in Chemistry” on Apple+. I’d read the book last year, and it was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. When I found it they’d made it into a streaming series, I was excited to see it. But it started on my departure day of October 13.

So when I arrived in Milan, I thought I’d check my iPhone to see if there was any chance Apple+ would work in Italy. Happily, it does! So I watched the first two episodes that have been released and will be able to continue to enjoy, along with anything else I like on Apple+ as I’m traveling.

A word about Milan Malpensa Airport
Although MPX isn’t as major a hub as LHR (London Heathrow) or FRA (Frankfurt), it is used often. Sometimes it makes sense to stay overnight at an airport hotel, as it was for me on this trip. Here’s what I learned.

MPX has 2 terminals. There is a Sheraton hotel attached to Terminal 1, which you access by foot, following the well-marked signs. Across the street from Terminal 2 is the Moxy Hotel, a Marriott/Bonvoy brand. I arrived from London to Terminal 1, which is where I had to return the next day to rendezvous with the Pelletiere Estate Group. But I’d made my reservation at the Moxy, because it was less expensive and I didn’t know the difference it would make.

There is a free shuttle bus that runs every few minutes from early morning to 11pm between the terminals, and every 30 minutes during the night. Not a big deal to have to take a bus, but after a long journey from Los Angeles, I’d wished I’d stayed at the Sheraton and didn’t have to deal with more transit. That said, the Moxy is great—they make a delicious pizza and have a comfy bed, much appreciated after long, sleep-deprived flights.