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Blogging from the former U.S.S.R.

Pryvit! Or “hello” in Ukrainian. My name is RaeJean Stokes. I’m normally a Contributing Editor at, but for the next month or so I’m also a traveling vagabond. Together with my husband, Nick, I’ll be hopping around parts of the former Soviet Union and writing about my experiences here in the “Today in Travel” blog whenever I can find an Internet connection.

Today I’m writing to you from Ukraine, where Nick and I served as Peace Corps Volunteers from 2003 to 2005 (and also where we met … awwww). After Ukraine we’ll continue on to St. Petersburg, Tallinn (Estonia), and finally Helsinki. Since it’s a unique trip, especially in the dead of winter, SmarterTravel has asked me to send some dispatches from the road.

First off, I want to share with everyone the virtues of traveling internationally on Thanksgiving Day—which I did this year en route to Ukraine. This marked the fourth time in five years that I’ve been in the air while the rest of America is eating turkey, and while I do miss the stuffing and gravy there is something to be said for flying internationally on a day when most Americans want to be at home in front of the television.

I’m based in Denver, and our plans called for us to fly to Chicago and then on to Frankfurt and finally Kyiv. While the domestic leg was packed, our trip from Chicago to Frankfurt was nearly empty. It was like flying first class for the price of coach. And for someone who can’t sleep sitting up, being able to lie down across three seats was a dream.

I also want to add my two cents to an issue raised in Josh Roberts’ blog entry about the TSA a few weeks ago. At the time he lamented the fact that the TSA was not handing out one-quart bags to passengers waiting in line for inspection. However, this past Thursday in Denver they (finally) were. This is not to say that you shouldn’t come to the airport prepared, of course, but perhaps as time passes the TSA is getting a little more organized.

That’s all for this time. Next time we speak I’ll tell you a little about my travels here in Ukraine!

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