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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Relax with a Staycation

Sometimes you just need to get away. Unfortunately, it's not always in the budget. I travel 3-5 weeks a year and it's not always enough. I get it. During those times you can get a few days off, but you can't afford to get on a plane for a full-blown getaway, you can give yourself the gift of a relaxing and fun staycation. 

staycation tips

Staycations are great, because you can make one fit into any budget you have. Here are my tops tips for a staycation that rocks.

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Throw a themed party

Just because you can't go to Greece or Paris or Italy, doesn't mean you have to miss out. Find some themed tableware (I suggest Shindigz, but sometimes Oriental Trading has what you need and it's more affordable) and a great backdrop, or pictures you print out from the internet, and invite some friends to bring a dish that goes with the theme, that way you aren't footing the bill for the whole thing. Stream some appropriate music, find some interesting facts about your "destination" and enjoy a couple hours in another city.

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Pitch a tent

We all know that packing up the car and doing all that stuff that comes with camping is stressful. Instead of that, get your tent out, pitch it in the backyard, make it comfier than usual with your favorite blankets, pillows and cushions and add details to make it awesome: battery-powered fairy lights, a short table (I have a similar one) or trunk to use for eating and playing games and pull your fire pit close by for s'mores, ghost stories and weenie roasts. (Here's a good one, but we have one from IKEA.) Make life easier on yourself by ordering out, then it'll really be relaxing. Still do those s'mores though!

Take a drive

We used to do this all the time. We packed a cooler with fun foods, threw a change of clothes in a bag (just in case) and just took a drive without a real destination. We picked a direction and just randomly turned and wandered. Usually, we'd end up somewhere cool that we never saw before, made lunch from our cooler, explored the area and then went home. Don't forget your camera, because you never know what you'll find.

Head to a new city

This probably sounds expensive, but you don't have to go far. Get in the car, head to a suburb that's easy to get to and you aren't super familiar with, park and enjoy it. Being on the outskirts of Portland, we are close to a lot of towns, many we don't really ever go to. In 30 minutes, I can be in a bunch of different places. Look for the downtown area, which usually has a charm of its own, and check it out. 

Find an itinerary for your town

I know you haven't done everything in your city. Go online, check out a two- or three-day suggested itinerary from another local or traveler. Do the stuff they suggest that you haven't done and see your city with a new eye. Take a camera, pretend to be a tourist and really enjoy yourself. Buy a city card if you can and do all those touristy things you haven't done in a while, or at all.

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Have a picnic

Either put together a lunch from stuff you have at home, pick up ready-made stuff from the local grocery store or hit up the farmers' market for yummy stuff. Head to a great park in your town and spread out your blanket (you can throw it over a picnic table if you don't want to sit on the ground). Enjoy your surroundings, do the cool stuff they have, like hiking or volleyball or frisbee golf and make a day of it. Don't forget your sunscreen.

Stay in a vacation rental

Maybe you're home enough and you just need a little bit of a change of scenery. I get it. Look on Airbnb and find an affordable rental nearby, but not too nearby. Maybe in a neighborhood you don't often go to. Pretend you're somewhere else and enjoy someone else's house for a few days. Bring your own food if that's the extent of your staycation budget.

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Make outdoor movie night a thing

A few years ago, for Eric's birthday, I bought a Roku projector and screen. We use it to have outdoor movies, where we bundle up (because usually it's a bit chilly), find a Netflix movie and make snacks and popcorn. It's fun and it allows us to use our yard in another way. We've invited others over to partake as well. You don't have to invest in a big projection screen. Instead, grab a white sheet, hang it on a wall outside and you're set! We sit at our lawn furniture, but you can also throw blankets and pillows on the ground and pretend you're at the drive in or do it in the front yard in your driveway, sit in your car and pretend even better!

Dine al fresco

Much like packing a picnic lunch, but this doesn't require you to go anywhere. Sit out on your deck or in the backyard and grill, cook inside or get takeout and enjoy your backyard and lovely weather while you can. Eating outside feels a lot different than eating inside at the table or in front of the TV. For some reason, it feel more like vacation to me.

Learn a new language

Get ready for your next big vacation by learning a new language. I love Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur, but you could also take a class or invite your friends over to help learn with you. You can have your own mini class, have some themed nibbles and get in some fun socializing time.

A few reasons why staycations are awesome:
  • You don't need anyone to take you to the airport.
  • No packing/unpacking a suitcase.
  • You save money for a traditional vacation.
  • Jet lag doesn't exist.
  • Do as much or as little as you want
Here are a few musts to get ready for a staycation, because if you're going to stay at home, you don't want to be pissed that you're there.
  • Clean up the yard.
  • Clean the house.
  • Pull out everything you want to use beforehand.
  • Put new bedding on the beds.
  • Stock the fridge.
Do you include staycations in your life? If so, how do you make them awesome?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Malaysia Can Be Magical If You Know Where To Go

There are so many beautiful places for you to visit if you are going to be taking a trip to Malaysia. Unfortunately, not many people take the time to come to this amazing place, but they should because there are some truly fantastic sites to see. Malaysia is a magical place to visit if you know where to go, otherwise it could be a bit of a hard place to navigate. So, take a look at this guide for some of the best places to visit in Malaysia and make it a trip to remember.

Petronas Twin Towers

These two twin skyscrapers and held the title of world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004. Despite losing their tallest building status in 2004, they still hold the record for being the tallest twin towers in the world. They are a wonder to behold, and you end up wondering if people get scared being so high up! If you go into this building you are going to be treated to some wonderful views that you would only get one other place, and that is in the sky in an airplane!

One of the towers is predominantly owned by Petronas, but the other one is home to a variety of companies such as Huawei, Microsoft and other big names. Many companies use these offices to run some of their branches, but the main reason you should visit here is for the views we mentioned above. You can’t understand until you have experienced it, and how amazing it feels to look up and wonder if the building even has an end.

Mount Kinabalu

If you head over to Sabah, you will find the World Heritage Site Kinabalu Park. As well as being the highest mountain in Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu is also the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago. It is a long way up and down though, so make sure that you are in the right level of health to be able to do this. You don’t have to get all the way up, and you don’t even have to go up at all if you don’t want to. Enjoying the view from the bottom is still a great way to spend to spend some time in Malaysia.

If you are a photographer or a painter, you are going to love this place. It is such a scenic destination, and you are going to get some excellent pictures out of this experience. Even if this is the case, don’t spend so much time trying to capture its beauty that you forget to experience it.

Batu Caves

If you are looking for an adventure to go on while you are in Malaysia, then one of the best ones is the Batu Caves. These are on a limestone hill and you will find a range of caves and cave temples to go exploring in. The name of this place comes from the river that flows past the hill, the Sungai Batu. This is also the focal point for the Hindu festival of Thaipusam which attracts thousands of people every year. If you do manage to get to this place when the festival is on, you are going to be in for a real treat.

Tioman Island

Just off the East Coast of Malaysia you will find Tioman Island. It is a nature reserve that is surrounded by beautiful beaches that you can enjoy. This area is well known among tourists, and has a great reputation for its diving spots which are full of beautiful corals and sea sponges. There is no nicer place that we can think of to experience diving than this wonderful island. You will also find a whole range of shipwrecks that have happened on the island, so if this is something that you are interested in, you should certainly check it out.

Once you get there, the first thing that you will notice is that the entire island is covered in tropical rainforest. You will be able to see animals such as butterflies, lizards, and monkeys all roaming around the island. If you go a little further east, you will find the Juara Turtle project which is a hatchery. Here they protect and study the sea turtles, making sure that they aren’t getting injured by the sea, or anything else.

Sunway Lagoon

If you are looking for a theme park to go to, then Sunway Lagoon is definitely one to consider. It is located in Bandar Sunway which isn’t far from Old Klang Road which has a lot of properties, which will be especially good for tourists to stay in. You want to be somewhere within walking distance for this theme park so that you can get there and back without a hitch. Did you know that Sunway Lagoon has hosted various international lifestyle and music events, including MTV World Stage for six years.

It is somewhere that everyone can enjoy because there is always going to be something for everyone. It can be a long day visiting here though because there is so much to do, so ensure that you take plenty of water.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple

Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur and was founded in 1873. Today, many people come from all over the world to visit this place, and see its beauty. There was a new part added to it in 1968, but it has not taken away from the historic beauty of this amazing structure. If you are interested in the history of the temple, you can learn more about it when you get there. It is one of the most beautiful sites to see in all of Malaysia!

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Hopefully you have found this post helpful, and will use this as a guide to travelling around certain parts of Malaysia. It is a beautiful country, and you should take the opportunity to go there and experience everything on this list if you can.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Things Not To Pack In Your Carry-On

I talk a lot about what you should pack and how to pack it, but some things you don't think are weird may get you stopped at security and your bag flagged. Not that they won't check it and let you go, which has always been my experience, but there was a thread in a Facebook group I'm in about those things you may pack that will look wonky on the x-ray and may get you stopped.

On my last trip, I was stopped and my bag searched because I had a bag of laundry detergent that had to be tested. That makes sense, though I've traveled with that bag for quite a few trips (because buying detergent at my destination is sometimes inconvenient, especially if they don't sell it in the laundry room). I had to let the TSA agent know that I had a very fluffy pillow in my bag that I had to sit on to get my bag zipped, so it might jump out at her. She appreciated that. 

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A ziploc bag of cough drops

I'm not sure why this is a problem, but we usually keep them in the original bag or Eric puts a handful in his jacket pocket with no issues.

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A lot of snacks

So, apparently this is only a problem if you don't keep them all together. Don't just shove snacks willy-nilly into the free space in your bag, or it looks suspicious for some reason. Also, put them in clear plastic bags. This has happened to several of my friends.

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Cheese or other brick-like food

I assume this must look like a bomb. It's not actually an issue to take on the plane with you.


You might have gone to the beach and inadvertently tracked sand into your carry-on, but if you do, not only will you end up with sand on the floor when  you get home, but you may be stopped to have it tested

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A slab of meat

This may or may not look like "organic remains" to TSA. 

Quartz, rocks and gemstones

I have no idea why these get flagged, but they do.

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Bath bombs

I routinely bring these back home for my mom, but they can look like actual bombs in your bag. 

Poker chips

And things that are like poker chips. When they are stacked or piled together, they look weird in the scanner.
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Cards, games and soap in metal containers

Since the x-ray can't see through metal, they need to know what's inside. This shouldn't be surprising, but I always forget when I bring one of my favorite travel games with me.

Perfumes and colognes

Sometimes just wearing your favorite scent can get you flagged and your hands, belt or shoes swabbed. I'd advise against wearing fragrances when you fly, not only because this is annoying, but because as someone with terrible allergies, it makes being trapped in a metal tube extremely miserable.

Other things that have gotten me stopped: homemade food in food containers, chocolates, fried chicken I bought at an originating airport, a selfie stick, a little bendy tripod, and a stash of quarters for laundry. As long as it's not on the list of "definitely not" items from TSA, I wouldn't not pack any of these things if I needed to bring the back with me, because unless items don't fit in my bag and I can easily ship them, I won't waste money on checking a bag.

What weird thing have you gotten stopped at airport security for?
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