One day in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto | PACK THE SUITCASES


My name is Caroline and I’m a 30-something woman based in the North West of England. I work full time but try to go away every three months. Or as much as you can stretch 32.5 days of annual leave to.

I started this travel-blogging malarkey after me and my other half Chris got home from honeymoon in May 2016. I sat there thinking ‘So what now?!’. Basically, I needed a project to fill the void left by three years of wedding planning being over, otherwise I was just going to repeatedly redecorate our entire house for the rest of time.

So I bought a fancy camera, got into photography and wrote some blog posts about the places we’d been on honeymoon. One of these first ever blog posts went a bit viral (it was about Reykjavik if you’re interested – it’s not even a very good post). I must have loved all the online abuse that came with it, because the rest, as they say, is history. Pack The Suitcases was born and I’ve been blogging ever since.

Travel has always played a huge part in me and Chris’s relationship. Since getting together in January 2011, we’ve racked up a lot of cities and countries together. He takes some of the photos for the blog. If you see one with a thumb partially obscuring the lens, you’ll know it’s by him.

Wherever I’ve been exploring over the years, I’ve always enjoyed boring friends and family about it when I get home. I still find it baffling that strangers on the internet apparently also quite like hearing my travel tales. But apparently you do because I’ve somehow ended up with quite a few people reading this blog now. If you’re a tourist board or travel brand, you can see my work with me page for more info on that kind of thing.

Some other stuff about me

As mentioned above, I work full time and this blog is just a hobby. I don’t make my income from it (in fact, it costs me a fortune once a year when I have to renew my account). My actual job is working in publishing as a copy editor and general word geek. So if you spot any grammatical errors or typos on here, it’s definitely only because I wanted a break from doing my day job…

When not working or blogging, I’m riding. My horse is my escape and I love trying to improve in dressage and just generally being around him. I also like feminism, tea and loads of other stuff that I won’t drone on about here.


What kind of holidays/travel do I write about here?

European city breaks are the ‘bread and butter’ of my travel, as well as local UK breaks. But I’m lucky enough to have friends in Japan so really specialise in that too.

  • I don’t do all-inclusives, package holidays, packing light, super luxury, or roughing it. We never drive abroad and try to avoid it here in the UK too. I’m allergic to any kind of ‘outdoorsy’ stuff (apart from walking and horse riding). I don’t see the point of splurging all your spends on a super swanky hotel when you’re only going to sleep there. As long as it has a decent shower and a well-placed plug socket for hair straighteners, I’m happy.
  • I do do spending far too much on new outfits for the trip (but I always manage to pack the suitcase successfully – see what I did there? Help).We usually stay in apartments or mid-range hotels. I love cramming in loads of off-the-beaten-track exploring, getting some culture with museums/galleries, finding pretty spots and cobbled streets, visiting gardens, eating ALL THE FOOD, trying local craft beer, and doing day trips on trains. I bloody love a good coastal train journey with a nice village at the end of it. Also gin.

Say hello

You can get in touch with me by email or at various online places listed below. If you’re a tourist board or something interested in working with me, please visit my work with me page.

Countries/cities visited

As you can see, I’ve not blogged everywhere I’ve been… yet.

  1. England – I live here (unfortunately) so have seen a lot of it. I’ve lived all over the place in the North West, but ‘home’ cities are Liverpool and Manchester/Stockport. I love Kirkby Lonsdale and Shrewsbury for weekends away.
  2. ScotlandDumfries & Galloway area – Kirkcudbright and around it, Edinburgh, North Berwick
  3. Isle of Manall over the island! Note: it’s not part of the UK!
  4. GermanyMunich, Berlin, Landsberg am Lech, Hamburg, Lubeck
  5. Czech Republic/CzechiaPrague
  6. BulgariaSofia
  7. The Netherlands – Amsterdam
  8. PortugalMadeira, Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, Vila Nova De Gaia, Guimaraes
  9. Austria – Salzburg, Vienna, Krems an der Donau
  10. France – Paris, Nice, Cannes
  11. Belgium – Bruges, Ostend
  12. Spain – Gran Canaria
  13. ItalyRome, Milan, Venice, Burano, Florence, Siena, Lucca
  14. Vatican City – And what?
  15. DenmarkCopenhagen
  16. SwedenStockholm, Gothenburg, Branno, Malmo
  17. Monaco – It counts, right?
  18. NorwayBergen
  19. IcelandReykjavik
  20. JapanTokyo, Kyoto, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Itoigawa, Naoshima, Himeji, Kobe, Nara, Takamatsu, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Okayama, Kochi, and generally all over Japan
  21. Ireland – Dublin
  22. MaltaValletta, Mdina, Gozo, Golden Bay, Sliema
  23. SloveniaLjubljana
  24. CroatiaZagreb
  25. USASan Francisco, Boston, Rockport, Salem, Berkley
  26. RomaniaBrasov, Bucharest, Bran
  27. RussiaMoscow, Saint Petersburg


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