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Spring Updates and Travel Recommendations

written by

Aliceson Bales

posted on

May 14, 2024

This post may contain affiliate links.

Where does the time go? It’s already May. MAY!!! Proms, formals, graduations and weddings. Oh my!

One of my goals for this year is to be a more regular blogger. Oops.

This year has been a time of change for us around here. Marshall is now a junior - well actually now a rising senior since he’s finished all his classes for his junior year. We have gone from sitting together everyday all day, sometimes in a chair cuddled up and reading together to group classes and dual enrollment. He finished classes at our local cooperative school, two classes with me (which will likely be his last classes with me) and his dual enrollment classes at WSCC in downtown Greeneville. 

If you’re not familiar with dual enrollment, it’s a fantastic opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to earn high school and college credit at a local community college. In Tennessee high schoolers can take several classes for free and then even more classes at a reduced rate. They earn double high school credits (one semester dual enrollment equals one year high school credit) and get the experience of learning at a more advanced level - faster pace, college professor, new learning platform. It’s challenging for them. And that’s GOOD. It’s a blessing and I encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity whether they plan to go to college or not. It’s good to have someone holding their feet to the fire, so to speak. I’m glad Marshall has had the opportunity and I look forward (for him) to his classes next year. He will take two more semesters of English, a computer skills class and probability and statistics in his senior year. This will give him a little freedom when he’s at college to take a few classes he “wants” to take and hopefully lighten his load there. 

He also participated in a theater class this year at coop and performed in a play at the end of the term, “Thirteen Ways to Screw up Your College Interview”. He played two characters - one super sweet kid who loved his mom and then a super creepy guy. . . It was such fun watching him blossom into someone who can take the spotlight and shine in it. I’m so grateful to his teacher, Kristin Girton. She is a blessing to our school! 

And in April he attended our formal with a group of friends and had a fantastic evening. I’m so glad we have our cooperative school where he gets the opportunity to participate in athletics, dances, theatre classes and lots of community service. We are so blessed.

And now Marshall is employed full time here on the farm for the summer while Barry is traveling more and more with music. If you are anywhere The Wood Box Heroes are playing this summer I encourage you to check them out. As I write this post they have the #1 song on both the Bluegrass and the Grassicana charts - Cross the Line. It’s a song written by one of the lead singers, Josh Martin. The Heroes are a band comprised of the amazing Josh Martin, Barry Bales, Matt Menefee (who plays with such folks as Mumford and Sons) and Jenee Fleenor - the FIVE time consecutive (and only female ever) musician of the year. So if you hear of the Heroes playing near you please go see them. I promise you won’t be sorry!

And in June (June 7-8) Barry and I will be back at The Homestead Festival in Columbia, Tennessee at Rory Feek’s farm. I hope you’ll come out to see us and join your 5,000 other friends for great talks, fantastic food and awesome concerts. I’ll be speaking on homesteading and homeschooling, Barry will be answering questions on a panel with other homesteading husbands and people like Joel and Daniel Salatin, Michael Pollan and Ann Scott will also be there. I hope to see you! And if you want 20% off your ticket prices, put BalesFarms20 in the coupon code at checkout and you’ll save 20% off the total price. 

And now, last but not least, I wanted to share some travel recommendations with y’all that I’ve been asked about lately. I’ve been asked repeatedly about carry on luggage. I only carry on. Y’all know Barry has been a professional traveler for 35 years. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve dealt with lost luggage and/or damaged luggage (and damaged gear and instruments). There is nothing that puts a damper on a start to vacation than uttering the phrase, “they lost my luggage”. So I just don’t take the chance anymore. I carry on. The first time I did it I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fit everything in but actually what I realized was I packed things I didn’t need. Things like soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner (which are always in the rooms). Clothes I didn’t end up wearing (which honestly just takes a little organization and watching the weather before I leave). And so I do a little pre-packing work and now can carry on like a champ! 

I know some of you are rolling your eyes and are really still skeptical but I will share with you my favorite pieces. These are pieces I have used over and over and over. I take them everywhere and so does Barry (in fact, two of these items listed are with Barry on a trip right now as I type). These are not the most expensive and they're certainly not the most glitzy but they get the job done. (That's another thing I will say about luggage and travel pieces - they WILL get damaged. It's not a question of if they'll be damaged but when they'll be damaged so save your money and spend it elsewhere.)


This Baosha bag has been on so many trips I can't even remember. And the toiletry kit that comes with it is heavenly. It's so organized! I first bought this bag with and without the shoe compartment - GET THE SHOE COMPARTMENT. It fits under the seats and in the overhead on flights. I can fit at LEAST a pair of shoes, a curling iron and a jacket in the shoe compartment. I bought Barry a Think Rolyn weekender bag that we also like but it just doesn't fit as much as the Baosha bag linked above. It's not flashy and every once in a while I'll start looking at cooler, hipper and sleeker bags but when I pack and unpack I'm always glad to have this striped Baosha bag. It just holds up and holds everything I take with me.


I use these compression cubes and really like them. I know - some people LOVE the cubes and some people don't. I don't have use for just regular packing cubes but these compression cubes are the BOMB. The second-to-the-largest compression cube holds six - yeah 6 - dresses. SIX DRESSES! Compressed. So I can put six dresses in something that I hold with one hand. I put all my workout gear, pajamas and a zip-up hoodie plus a wrap in another and that's almost everything you need. I can also put the largest cube in the shoe compartment of my Baohsa if needed. That's super handy.


I bought this suitcase and have used it many many times. I've used it and Barry's used it. In fact, now that I think about it he's using it right now! It has a telescoping handle that doesn't get stuck. It's light and has multiple exterior handles for lifting and pulling and it's lightweight. All these are good things for a 5'6" female who gets her luggage in and out of the overhead compartment. 


I bought this rechargeable, USB curling iron/straightener for travel outside the US. Do I love it? Not really. It is the best I've found so far. I do like that it doesn't fry my hair like the old days when I would take my curling iron overseas. It does the trick, holds charge and is good in a pinch. Again, it's the best I've found. . . . If you have others you like please let me know!

I hope you find something you like on this list. I stand behind everything I recommend and I think you'll be happy with the durability of the items. Again, they may not be flashy but they will get the job done and you won't be stuck with broken luggage during a trip. 




carry on





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