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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Review: Travelon's Amazing Bottle Totes

Summer has started, which means you're going to outside. A lot. We take trips, we go to the beach, we hit the pool, we go to theme parks, we go to concerts, and we go to festivals. When we travel, we always bring a water bottle with us. It's too expensive to keep buying water all day and it's super annoying to have to carry them or shove them in your purse. In fact sometimes you don't even want to take a purse, but Travelon has you covered with two different bottle totes that are both awesome.


We have been using a bottle strap for our trips, but it's not perfect. It doesn't have an adjustable strap, it doesn't work for all bottles and it's not easy to drink while you're still wearing it. In short, it works, but not well. Travelon has designed two bottle totes that can work for any of our trips/needs.


The first is their Packable Water Tote. It packs into a little square that can fit in your pocket, then unfolds into a great polyester tote that can hold even a large water bottle. It fit my huge Laken thermos with room to spare. It has a great long strap that is adjustable, so it works for me and Eric, who is much larger/taller than me. 


This will work even for those big, bulky bottles you buy at the airport, and the weird shaped ones, like Pellegrino or the square bottles. You don't even have to use it for a bottle. Carry around your travel coffee mug with a closing lid, stuff your cardigan in it. Whatever you need a smaller bag for! I also like that when in use, you have the small pocket inside that can hold some cash or lip balm. 


Eric tested this out by taking it on a day out where he went downtown to play Pokemon and meet a friend for lunch. He was able to have both hands free and didn't accidentally leave his bottle anywhere, which has happened in the past. 


The tote also has a flat bottom, so you're not going to set it down and have to keep picking it up because it fell over a hundred times. Can you guess what annoying things I've dealt with on my outings? LOL 


The second tote is the Anti-Theft Boho Water Bottle Tote, which is a padded tote in a fun pattern that has a zipper pocket in the front for things. I love this one, because not only is it fun, but it also doubles as a "stadium bag". If you have gone to a festival or sporting event lately, you may notice that only certain size bags (in other words, really small bags) are allowed into the venue. These are called stadium bags. 


Not only does this pretty bag hold even a large bottle of water easily, but it has a locking zipper pocket, so you can carry necessities without worrying about it falling out of your pocket or getting stolen. This is also the perfect bag for going through the airport, because it has RFID-blocking technology for your credit cards, ID and passport. It also fits a large phone.



I packed mine like I would go through the airport with it: phone, bottle, a credit card, ID, cash, lip balm, pen, and my powder compact. You might bring something different, like your earbuds or phone charger. They'll both fit. It'll make your trip through security much easier. Trust me.



The tote has an plush, adjustable strap with a locking clip, so it can be secured to a chair or table while you're sitting down to a meal or watching your new favorite band. The body and strap are anti-slash, so you don't have to worry about anyone stealing your belongings, even if they aren't many. Eric's already excited to take this with us to Disney and other theme parks, since he carries the bottle and hates bringing his whole wallet, when he really only needs a few things. Not only will this make riding more comfortable, it will also save us money.  

If you have summer adventures planned, either of these totes will make a great companion to those and all your other year-round errands, outings, and trips. not only are they comfortable to carry, but you'll be able to stay hydrated everywhere you go, as well as save money!

More details:
Where can I buy these totes? On the Travelon website: Packable Tote | Boho Tote
How much do they cost? Packable Tote: $10.50 | Boho Tote: $31.50 Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Packable Tote: Black Grey | Lime Grey | Mosaic Tile (shown) | Basket Weave | Boho Tote: Black Quilted | Blossom Floral | Grey Heather | Mosaic Tile (shown)
Other specs: Packable Tote: Holds up to a 40oz bottle with a base diameter of 3.5", ripstop polyester, water and dirt resistant, packed size 3.25” x 4.25” x .75”, strap drop 15.25"-30". Boho Tote: polyester, strap drop 13"-24", 3 card slots and passport slot with RFID-blocking techonology



Disclosure: Travelon sent me both the Packable Bottle Tote and the Anti-Theft Boho Bottle Tote for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Singapore on a Budget

You’ve probably been told that Asian cities such as Singapore are expensive holiday destinations and you’re right, they can be. If you’re flying long haul to these destinations then chances are you’ll have spent quite enough money as it is on the plane ticket so when you’re there you’ll be looking at maximizing your holiday budget.

In this short post we take you through a whistle stop tour of visiting, eating and shopping in Singapore, where to save money and where to find bargains. Click here for even more ideas on where to take your next holiday.


Image courtesy of Pexels

Eating


This is a city where food is everywhere. The amount on offer is incredible and with that choice comes some very expensive options. There are, however, some cheaper ways to eat and without compromising on quality.

Sundays in Singapore mean one thing: buffets. Hotels across the island offer a buffet lunch ranging in price but always with top quality food. Get great value for money by filling up at a hotel buffet and we guarantee you won’t be looking to eat out in the evening.

For even less cost hit up the malls, but don’t go to restaurants, instead head to the food courts. Here you’ll find street food that’s come inside and offers incredible value for money. Most malls offer a food court with cuisine from around the world.

If you’re looking for a real bargain then you need to head to where the locals eat. The city is dotted with hawker centers, these covered structures house tens of stalls each offering a different specialty from across the region. This is street food at its finest and for an absolute bargain price. Choose the classic chicken and rice and wash it down with a freshly squeezed lime juice or traditional coffee for around $5.


Visiting


While there are lots of attractions you can pay for there’s also plenty you can see for free. Take a stroll around the super trees or head to the beach on Sentosa island, which is free to walk to from the mainland. If you’re travelling with young children you’ll find beaches galore, a free water play park complete with pirate ship and little playgrounds dotted around.

Nothing beats visiting Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street for a look at some of the incredible materials and food on offer, so get comfortable for a walking tour around these fascinating areas.


Shopping


Clothes aren’t cheap but then again you don’t need to wear too much thanks to the high temperatures. The cheaper shops, such as H&M can be found in many malls but the supermarkets also now offer a range of clothes.
For cheaper food hit the wet markets to pick up exotic fruit and vegetables and fresh fish.

The Lion City has so much to offer and not all of it comes at a price. Use these hacks to navigate your way around the most expensive attractions and save money without compromising on having the holiday of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

10 Ways to Save on Travel Meals

Food isn’t like souvenirs. No one goes on vacation without buying it. You have to make room in your travel budget to eat, but there are many ways you can make that part of your expenses smaller. Just because you are trying to save money doesn’t mean that you have to eat fast food or sandwiches for every meal or can’t experience the best cuisine a place has to offer. Below is my top 10 list of ways to stretch your food funds.

Ask the locals where they eat

Odds are, people who live where you’re traveling don’t eat at the fanciest restaurant in town. You know who eats there? Tourists and people celebrating their anniversaries. The “normal” people eat at affordable dining establishments that are also delicious and serve food from the local area. They are going to want to point you towards some of the city’s gems and impress you because, unlike hotel staff, they don’t get paid for recommending the crazy expensive steakhouse down the street.

Look forward to lunch

You probably aren’t always frugal. While on vacation, it’s okay to splurge sometimes. If that includes going to a top-rated restaurant that you know is spendy, make reservations for lunch instead of dinner. The food will be just as tasty, but cheaper than at dinnertime.

Split an entrée

Most restaurants serve you at least twice as much food as you can eat. Don’t be weighted down having to carry around leftovers or feel bad about food left on your plate. Share a main dish with your travel companion. Most hotels will split an entrée for no fee, but even if you have to pay for an extra plate, it only costs a few dollars, which is cheaper than paying for a whole other meal.  

Order an appetizer for a meal

Most appetizers can be plenty to fill you up and can be as little as a third of the price of an entrée. This is also a great option for you if you like to try many different dishes. Order two to three for the same price as a meal.

Hit up the food carts

Food carts can offer a huge variety of different local and international foods, but can be half the price of (or less) than dining at a sit-down restaurant. With this kind of savings, you can try fare from several carts with no regrets.

Shop the farmers market

There’s no better way to experience local cuisine and interacting with residents than a visit to the closest farmers market. You will find a variety of food, including meats, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. Purchase enough for lunch and enjoy the afternoon having a picnic in a nearby park.

Rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel with a kitchen(ette)

This is my favorite way to stretch my food budget, because there are so many options. Renting can be a great value over hotel stays if you’ll be visiting for a week or more, plus it gives you the chance to check out the local grocery store. Make many of your own meals and save considerably. I don’t often like to spend money on eating breakfast out, so I love to buy new cereals and pastries I can enjoy in my room.

Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast

You don’t realize how much dining out can cost until you go on vacation. A reasonable breakfast can cost between $8-15 per person. If you multiply that by the number of people you’re traveling with and the number of days you’ll be staying, that number can be huge. If you find a hotel in your price range that offers free breakfast, you’ve hit a jackpot of savings.

Sign up for Groupon

If you haven't been using Groupon, what are you even waiting for? Save 40-90% off food and more, meaning you can eat for way less than you originally planned, meaning you can splurge on a fancy meal, spend that money elsewhere, or actually just stay on budget. Sign up at Groupon for the destination of your next vacation (they cover many international locations as well as the United States) and eat for less!

Don’t order off the kids’ menu

If you travel with children, you’ll notice that most kids’ menus seem to have the same small rotation of foods. Obviously, little ones don’t just live on hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets and PB&J sandwiches. Not only do they charge an outrageous amount for these “staples” that cost hardly anything to make, but they offer hardly any nutritional value and your kids are likely to eat only half of it before declaring they’re full. Instead, order a meal that you both will eat and share. This saves you money and might get them to eat a vegetable or two.

While there are other ways to save on dining, these have proven to be the most useful for my travels and are my first suggestions to anyone asking how to cut costs on their trip. They are easy to do and will enable you to try a bigger variety of foods, too. You’ll experience more of the city and its people, giving you a greater vacation experience.

How do you save money on dining out when you travel?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Summer Packing Tips

Summer is coming and that means packing light should be easy. Well, I've learned that isn't true for a lot of people. While I'm like "throw a bathing suit, some sandals, sunscreen and a pair of shorts in a bag", others are sitting there wondering how they can cram 10 pairs of shoes into a carry-on for a 4-day trip. No! You need my summer packing tips!

Photo by Elaine Tu on Unsplash
First of all, wherever you go, you probably won't know anyone and you probably won't see them again. Nobody will remember what you were wearing or if you wore the same pair of shorts two, or even three, times. Unless you're getting married and have to bring a giant dress with you, there is no reason you can't pack light for any trip, including your awesome summer getaway.
My NUMBER ONE rule is to mix and match. Remember that your outfit on the plane is not just a travel outfit, but something to add to your rotation when you arrive. If you're headed to a warm weather locale, then here's how I pack: 
  • One or two pair of shorts 
  • One pair of capris 
  • One sundress
  • One mid-length skirt
  • One pair of walking shoes (that you should wear on the plane)
  • One pair of comfy sandals or other nicer shoes you can walk all day in
Choose a neutral color scheme. I normally pick black, tan or blue for my bottoms. This enables you to choose things that work with all your bottoms. When I travel in the summer, I wear capris or a skirt on the plane, then toss two good pair of shorts into my bag, either the capris or skirt that I'm not wearing, a good summer dress (often this is a travel dress that is cute and moisture wicking). 

I try to wear my bulkier shoes on the plane and pack the smaller pair. Make sure you don't choose a pair of shoes that you haven't broken in yet. Trust me. You don't want to find out how uncomfortable your new shoes are on Day 1 of your trip. It sucks. I do a  ton of walking on my trips, so a good pair of walking shoes (Skechers are a favorite) is a must

For your other pair of shoes, choose a cute pair of sandals or flats that will work with your dress, but also with your other bottoms. It sometimes is terrible to have sweaty feet in sneakers when you just want your toes to breathe. I have several really good sandals that I can walk all day in, including these from Clarks, these from Aerosoles, and Jambu sandals similar to these.

Obviously, this can be tailored to your needs. If you don't like skirts, don't take one. If you only wear skirts, don't bring shorts or capris. If you're a dude who doesn't wear skirts or dresses, bring a pair of lightweight trousers you can wear to a nice restaurant. Easy! Toss in a pair of flip flops for trips to the pool and runs to the front desk.

When you go to choose tops, think of both fashion and function. You don't want to sweat, but you want to look cute. If you've done your job in creating a neutral palette for your bottoms, this should be easier. Take a mix of 5 tops, making sure at least one can feel dressed up if paired with the skirt for a night out. Just in case. 

Bring a lightweight cardigan that can be used as a layer when it's chilly indoors or on the plane. I also bring a scarf/wrap that matches everything, because sometimes you don't want a full layer, but something that you can use to keep your shoulders covered (this is especially important if you're traveling somewhere and visiting temples). You can also use it as a sarong. 

Toss in your favorite bathing suit, sunglasses and a good sunscreen and you're good to go wherever there's a pool or a beach. 

I know you're thinking that this can't possibly be enough clothes to get you through 1-2 weeks at a destination. Well, you'd be right if you weren't planning to rewear any of these things, but you're a budget traveler, you don't pay to check a bag, and you plan some downtime in your trips to relax and do a bit of laundry. With these nice pieces of clothing, you can make 15 unique outfits, which will take you through more than a long trip of two weeks. 


Since I'm saving so much room in my carry-on, I make sure to include my favorite folding mesh laundry basket, which I use as a hamper until it's full or I'm low on shirts, then I take it with me to dump in the washing machine. I also keep a small bag of detergent (or 3-4 pods) and a couple dollars in quarters, so I'm always ready. I've stayed places where the laundry was free and others where it was not. I've also stayed places where detergent was readily available and others where you had to go to the store to get some. Be prepared! These are things that take up little room and make your life easier.

And now you know my secrets to summer packing! Where are you traveling this summer?


Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I will be compensated for anything you buy through my links. Thanks in advance for your support!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

My Las Vegas Wish List 2019

In just a few weeks, I'll be headed back to Vegas for my annual summer trip. We have tickets, we have a place to stay, we're gonna watch some basketball, and I'm going to do some awesome stuff that's new to me, as well as return to some old stuff, but you have already seen those, so I'm not repeating them.


Even though I had to skip my 2nd trip last year, this will still be my 8th trip in 4 years. It can be hard to find new things, but as the city is always changing and I don't know all the secrets to Sin City (and definitely not Henderson), there are plenty of things for me to add to a wish list for this next trip. Amazingly, it consists of more than extra sunscreen and Columbia clothes to pack my bag with.

photo credit
Even in the middle of the desert, I still think coffee is the blood of life. It might be 119° outside, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good latte. On he way back to our timeshare from dinner one night, I glimpsed a cleverly-named coffee shop: Illumilatte Brewing Society. Not one to pass up a good cup of Joe, I immediately made a note to check it out and the reviews are quite good, so this is #2 on my list of coffee shops, as #1 is the new Bad Owl Coffee location that opened in S. Vegas and trying their new fancy toast (not avocado tyvm) and their espresso flight in Hogwarts house colors.

photo credit
I know it's going to be stupid hot outside, but that doesn't mean a good jaunt out to the desert in the early-ish morning hours can't be fun. This limited-time art installation, which just got a 2-year extension, entitled Seven Magic Mountains may just be some pretty colored rocks in the middle of nowhere (honestly, it's only 10 miles from town), but it's free, it's cool, and I'd love to visit and take some fantastic pictures before we all head to a lovely breakfast.


No trip to Vegas is complete without delicious food. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I'm a lover of sushi. Well, there will be four of us for most of this trip and one of us doesn't eat sushi (blasphemy!), but he does love Hawaiian food, so I found this awesome compromise that mashes the best of both worlds. Island Sushi & Grill has incredible reviews, most saying it's one of the best Japanese restaurants in Las Vegas. Plus they have malasadas! [if you've never had them, they are Hawaiian doughnuts, oftentimes with cream fillings.]

A post shared by Creamberry (@creamberrylv) on

If you're one of the few who haven't seen the beauty (and horror) of the cotton candy burrito, here you go. You're welcome! It's horrible and wonderful looking all and once and I must have it. Creamberry LV has added this abomination to their menu full of other such terrible treats, including cookie shots filled with coffee/cocoa/milk, puffle cones, and rolled ice cream "tacos". Honestly, it all looks equally delicious and tooth-rotting, and you'll be seeing some fabulous drool-inducing pics from me.

Each season, the magical horticulturalists of the Bellagio create an awe-inspiring tribute to flowers and plants with a different theme. The Bellagio Conservatory is large and bright and totally free. It's open 24-hours a day and any time is a good time to see what has been created from different plants. Often there are fish in the pond and sometimes birds in an aviary, but it's always spectacular. Above is a picture I took from one of my last visits that was themed for The Year of the Dog of the Chinese New Year. At certain days and times they also host live performances, though I have somehow always missed them.

photo credit

In my quest to find new things that I've missed in the past, I discovered that Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall has daily laser light shows in what they call the Mystic Falls Park. It's completely free and I love that inside looks like outside...and there's also a TGI Friday's on the premises, which I will never say no to.

photo credit

I'm a big fan of factory tours. I like to see how and where things are made. It's cool to me, so when I learned about Anderson Dairy and their free self-guided tours, I, of course, wanted to learn more. It reminded me quite a bit of the Tillamook Cheese Factory here in Oregon, except it will mostly be milk and not cheese. If you also like to see how things are made and headed to Vegas, don't forget to stop into Ethel M's Chocolate Factory Store.


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Okay, so this is absolutely my splurge item for this trip, but I've been waiting for it to open for at least 3 years now. The Haunted Museum is run by Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures, which I detest as a show, but love as an idea for a museum. He has filled a historic home in Downtown Vegas with all the items he's collected over the years from his ghost-hunting journeys. Admission is steep at $44 per person, but you get to see terrifying items like the Dibbuk Box, which is said to be a containment unit for a demon. Now, I'm afraid of a lot of things, but I've been excited to visit this museum since I heard it was opening...and then there were no real updates until it was finally open. 


photo credit: Groupon

I adore all the street art around Las Vegas, but when it's a bazillion degrees out, the last thing you want to do is hang around outside more than you need to. I can still get my art fix though, at HeadzUp, the city's 3D art gallery that also houses an escape room and archery tag arena. 

Obviously, these won't be the only things I visit while in town for the week, between basketball game and visits with family, but these are on top of my list for sightseeing and eats. 

Tell me your favorite places to visit when in Las Vegas that you think I should experience!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

How to Travel With a Friend

Traveling with a friend can be awesome. It can also be stressful. More stressful than traveling with a significant other or family. If you know how to do it right, you'll still be friends when you return. It helps to plan trips with someone you know you  have things in common with to begin with. This National Best Friends day, I want to share my tips on how to travel with a friend, and not kill each other in the process.

Talk About Budget

We all hate to talk about money, especially with friends, but if you don't do this before your trip, I guarantee you will not be friends after your trip. Tell them what you're comfortable spending and find out what they're comfortable spending. 90% of the time, they will not be the same, and that is okay. It sucks if they are planning to spend twice as much as you can and you don't find out until you're on Day One of your vacay. It's always easier to spend less than come up with more, when you have bills and rent to pay. 

Set Expectations

Talk to each other about your travel styles. Are they chill about everything? Can they handle your micro-planning? Is it the other way around? If you are drastically different travelers, you may not work as travel partners. Of course, you could be like me and my friend who came with me to Disney last year. She was super chill and enjoyed that I am a super planner and planned all our days. I gave her an itinerary, made all the reservations, bought all the tickets, and she just went with it. 

Talk about the other stuff too. Are you a morning person? Is coffee a must before people talk to you after you wake up? Do long silences make you uncomfortable? Do they plan to help you drive? Are you unwilling to help them carry their bags because they're a chronic overpacker? It's easier to know these things before you leave home. That said, expect the unexpected.

Plan Together

Also known as knowing priorities and learning to compromise. Once you know your budget, talk about what your "must dos" are for your trip. If you're lucky, many of those things will be the same. You might also both find that the other wants to do/see/eat things you didn't know about, but actually want to to do/see/eat too! 

It's important that you're both happy on your trip. You can't both do things that only the one of you wants to do, because one of you will end up being bitter. Of course, compromising on things is important, too. Be open to new experiences. Do things that you only sort of want to do to make the other person happy. That brings me to this next tip:

Spend Some Time Apart

I get very worn out if I spend 24 hours a day with someone. I like to have my own space, my own room, some personal time. Just because you're on vacation with someone, doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment with them. This could mean you get a two-bedroom to stay in, you keep up your morning run without them, or even that you go and do something alone for part of the day. It's possible they want to do something that you really don't. It's okay to tell them that they should still go do it and you'll do something else on your own. Time apart is good for you both. 

Be Honest

I really don't want people to tell me what I want to hear if they feel the complete opposite. If you don't want to do something I want to do, or I'm being annoying, tell me. I'd rather know than you be resentful. I'm not sensitive, so things like this won't hurt my feelings. And even if they do, I'll still know that it was probably hard for you to tell me, so I won't let it ruin our trip or friendship. If you need to just take a walk by yourself, tell your companion. If you don't feel like Italian food, tell your companion. If their incessant gum popping is making you want to punch them, tell them. Just maybe say it nicely and not threaten to throttle them if they don't stop. 

Traveling with a friend (or friends) can be super rewarding and a great bonding experience. Of course, it can just as easily break your friendship if you don't prepare and communicate, so following the 5 tips above can help you manage all expectations. 


What are some ways you make trips with friends better?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Doing Disney & Other Theme Parks On a Budget


Being on a budget can sometimes make theme park vacations challenging, since everything seems to cost an arm and a leg. As fun as theme parks are, it’s not all that fun when you know you are quickly draining your bank account and spending way more time in line than you need to be. With some strategic planning you can get a better value for your dollars and still have a great time at the parks. Here are my top tips for doing Disney and other theme parks on a budget:

theme parks on a budget

Get to the parks early

My number one rule of visiting any theme park is to get there before they open. The worst line you stand in is the one before you get into the park. Try to arrive 20-30 minutes before the gates open and you could avoid large crowds of excited guests.

Avoid EMH

Disney parks that have Extra Magic Hour each day tend to be the busiest ones. Find out which are participating on which day and avoid them. The other parks will be less crowded in the morning and that means shorter lines.

Bring snacks

Even if you don’t have children in tow, it is always a good idea to bring a bag stocked with healthy snacks and bottled water (or a reusable bottle that you can refill for free around the park). Those churros, pretzels and popcorn throughout the day can really add up and they aren’t very nutritious either. The other upside to bringing your own food is that you don’t have to wait in line forever to get a drink or an overpriced ice cream. You have your own snack bar in your bag!

Make dining reservations

Dining reservations are a must when visiting Disney. There are so many restaurants to choose from, but even at the least busy times you may have to wait up to an hour to be seated. Look at menus and prices online, then book a table right there (or call Disney Dining). Aim for times outside the normal meal times – 11-11:30 A.M. or 2-2:30 P.M. for lunch and 5-5:30 P.M. or 7:30 P.M. or later for dinner – to take advantage of a ready table and to beat the crowds. Ride lines are considerably shorter during lunch and dinner. You can book reservations at a few restaurants inside Universal as well.

Buy souvenirs off-site

There are many cool things to buy inside the parks, but you’ve probably noticed their high price tags, too. Children have a habit of wanting things wherever they are. Surprise them by purchasing clothing and toys at one of the nearby souvenir shops or discount stores like Target. You will keep them happy and also save a bundle.

By doing a bit of preparation, you can pack more into each day and really get your money’s worth. Waiting in line sucks, and your kids (or your significant other) will be glad you took the time to learn some tricks to help eliminate needless standing around for things, and you can do the happy dance when you wallet isn’t empty at the end of each day.

Theme parks don't have to be crazy expensive. We do a lot of them and we know where to cut corners and how to make the most of our time as well. 

How do you make your visits to theme parks more affordable?

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Dad & Grad Gift List 2019

In just a few weeks, we'll be celebrating dads all over, and so many kids will be graduating both high school and college. No matter who you have on your list, you're going to want to get them some awesome gifts to celebrate them and their achievements. Lots of dads like to travel or travel for work and plenty of grads want to see the world. If those describe your recipients, then this dad & grad gift list is for you!

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash
I've got some new ideas for you this year, including plenty of cool things I saw, and will hopefully be reviewing for you, at the Travel Goods Show. As always, I have broken them down by price range for you.

Budget: >$50


1. Memory Foam Armrest

Now there will be no question as to who's got the armrest, though there might be an even bigger fight for it. The airplane armrests are always uncomfortable, even when they are padded. Make long flights a little more comfortable with one of these awesome memory foam armrests. They don't take up much room in a bag and can make a big difference towards getting them there a little happier. $15 from Walter+Ray
2. Travel Journal
Help them plan their next trip or keep track of what they've done and seen with a great travel journal or two. I have the This Journal is Going Places and it is fantastic for those who like to plan out everything in advance and keep all their wish list items in one place. You can plan a handful of trips with this and it's color coded for each trip. It's got a slim profile for taking with you everywhere. The Travelogue Journal has scratch-off maps, checklists, itineraries and places for receipts and ticket stubs. This Journal is $16.30 on Amazon | Travelogue is $24.99 from Amazon
3. Compression Socks
All types of people use compression socks, and now they are even more fun to wear with bright colors and patterns. Compression socks are good for long flights, long days of walking, or even running and jogging. I always keep a pair or two in my travel bag and they are lifesavers. Your dad and grad are going to love them on all their trips, just like I do, especially the new fun styles that don't look like you work at a hospital. $26.99 from Sockwell. You can see my review here.
4. Travelon Active Anti-Theft Packable Backpack
It's never a bad thing to have a good backpack when you travel. Travelon has this great anti-theft one that's also packable, which had never been done before! It's a bit heavier than other packable bags, but it is also way more secure and great for using as a day bag or your personal item on a plane. For grads going off to see foreign countries and might be staying in hostels to save money, this is a must for keeping all their valuables safe while they're out and about. You can view my review here. $40 on Travelon's website (but use my code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to save 20% off your purchase)
5. Humangear utensils
So, I'm not gonna lie. I love a good food cart, and I also like to make my own food when out and about, like on a road trip. If your dad is the same or that college grad on your list is just wanting to travel on a budget, then not only do they need these awesome all-in-one utensils, but they will also be eco-friendly on their way, since these are reusable and so much better than plastic forks and spoons - and much more durable. They come in a variety of colors, too. These are very budget friendly at $3.99 on Amazon for one or $10.22 on Amazon for 3-pack {If you're looking for something similar to go with these, Humangear also has squishy silicon bowls or you might want to pick up a set of metal or other reusable straws.}
6. Copper Cow Coffee
You all know I love coffee. Maybe your dad or your husband or your grandpa or your son also loves coffee. Maybe the thought of going backpacking through Europe having to live off Starbucks or instant coffee sounds terrible. Give them coffeehouse quality coffee in a portable pour over pack that they can take everywhere. My favorite pack is the 5-pack of filters with added creamer packs, so you can have a great cup anywhere you are. $15 on Copper Cow website
7. Packable Rain Jacket
I never bring an umbrella anymore. Not only are they bulky and only useful for one thing, they take up space in your bag that could be used for something else important. When we travel anywhere we don't need a regular coat, we always take along packable rain jackets. They enable you to stay dry and keep both your hands free. If it's not raining, but it gets a bit chilly, you can use it as an extra layer. They also pack small when not in use. I have both a Columbia and an Eddie Bauer rain jacket, which you can find on Amazon, but this unisex jacket runs just $26.99 on Amazon
8. Laken Thermos Bottles
Hydration is very important when you travel, and it helps you save money to not have to keep buying beverages all day. Laken bottles will keep your beverages hot up to 8 hours (and cold for up to 24). I use mine everyday at work for coffee and if I haven't finished drinking it, it's still warm by mid-afternoon, because we all know there's nothing worse than cold coffee if it didn't start out that way. Depending on the size you buy, these run $17+ on Amazon



Moderate: $50-100


1. Bracketron Roadtripper
Here's another thing I'll be reviewing. The Roadtripper is a multifunctional travel tool. It is a phone stand, but you can unfold it to also hold your tablet and your phone for viewing videos on the tray table latch, so it's at eye level. If you're on the road and need to use your phone as a GPS, this also works for that...and it's certainly not flimsy like a lot of those other phone holders you buy elsewhere. The roadtripper folds up small and unfolds in different ways for what you need to use it for. $50 on Bracketron, but it is on sale now for $34.99. You can also find it at Best Buy and other stores.
2. Walter + Ray TAB
Getting on the plane and then having to contort your body uncomfortably to get items you want to use in-flight out of the bag under the seat in front of you is crazy! Walter + Ray invented the TAB in response to allow you to pack everything you need for your flight in a slim pocket that has a tab that slides into the seat pocket or a strap that fits over the tray table, even closed, so you always have access to all your goodies and you don't have to hurry to shove them all in the seat pocket and then realize you've forgotten something after you've deplaned. $65 on Walter + Ray's website
3. Benjilock
Regular TSA-accepted locks usually suck, and are easy to forget the combination to, especially if you only travel a few times a year. If that's a problem your dad has too, so he just doesn't use a lock on her luggage, a Benjilock might just be what he needs. Instead of a combination or a key, it opens with a fingerprint. And if he's traveling with several people who are using the same carry-on/suitcase, it can hold up to 10 fingerprints. I'll be reviewing this soon. $70 on Amazon, but can also be found at The Home Depot and QVC and Ace Hardware.
4. My Elios Wanderer solar charger
When out sightseeing all day, you don't really have access to any outlets. While I always carry a portable charger, it's not always possible to recharge that when you travel. If you have a dad or grad that likes to camp or backpack or hike, then they are in need of a good solar charger. The Elios has 4 fold-out solar panels that recharge by the sun, though you can also recharge it with the wall outlet, and then use it to charge your phone or your tablet when you need to re-up. $75 on MyElios website
5. FaceCradle
There are so many travel pillows to choose from, but one of the best I've tried is the FaceCradle. Not only is it perfect for the ever-diminishing airplane space, but it's great for tall people, and for using on trains and in cars as well. It has a bunch of different ways to use it. We have the regular version and the lite version, and we sleep like babies on the plane. You can see my review here. $49.99 on Amazon
6. Cashmere travel blanket
Sure, you could buy them any number of other travel blankets, but add a bit of luxe to their travels, especially those college kids staying in super cheap accommodations, and to make their economy seat a little less awful. I like this one that's a wool/cashmere blend, making it a bit more affordable for your wallet, too. $64 on Amazon
7. Tropicfeel shoes
I backed these as a kickstarter, because they sounded amazing. They are pretty much Spring and Summer shoes (though if the fall isn't cold, you could wear them then too). We travel to Vegas a lot and do a ton of theme parks, which have plenty of water activities. These shoes are like your best sneakers and water shoes in one. I backed them hoping they would be as good as they sounded, and they were. We both have a pair and they are super lightweight, can be worn with or without socks, and look fantastic. They are perfect for all the walking your dad/grad will do on their travels. $78 on TropicFeel (available for preorder.)



Splurge: <$100


1. Anti-theft Tailored Wheeled Underseat Carry-on
This new carry-on with spinner wheels from Travelon is fantastic and has a great wipe-down bottom half that can be cleaned easily after tromping through the airport, the subway, and down the street. It has a ton of room and is easy to stash in the overhead. You dad will love this new classic bag, and he'll be able to pack everything he needs in it. $141 on Travelon (get 20% off if you use code SHEREENTRAVELS20%)
2. Priority Pass
Hanging out in the airport can be fun, but after a while, you wish it could be better. Buy your dad access to all the airport lounges, so he can get some peace and quiet, free snacks and maybe get some work done or catch a shower. You can purchase him the standard pass for $99/year, or upgrade him to the plus for $299, which includes 10 free visits (generally member visits are $32). Right now you can get 15% off memberships on PriorityPass
3. Travelon's new Heritage Weekender

This bag is so beautiful and unisex and user-friendly. It unzips on top and has a phenomenal wide mouth opening, because they know what we all want and need in our bags! It can easily hold a week's worth of clothing with spare shoes and toiletries. The Heritage collection is lovely and wears so we'll. The longer you use it, the more worn and fantastic the fabric looks. Every dude needs this for Father's Day, but everyone's going to want to steal it to use for their trips too. $105 on Travelon (get 20% off if you use code SHEREENTRAVELS20%)

4. Airline gift cards
Buy a gift card that can be used for their favorite airline or hotel chain (or Airbnb) or rental car company. It's nice because you can customize it and make it a bit more personal than a normal gift card. $1-infinity: whatever you want to spend.
5. Bluffworks Chinos 
It's nice to have clothing that does double duty. Bluffworks pants are specifically for travel, because they are odor-resistant, stain-resistant, wrinkle-proof and almost indestructible. They look like dress pants, but they're sturdy enough to wear hiking, camping or rock climbing. One pair can work for everything you do on vacation or a business trip. $98 or $125, depending on the style, on Bluffworks' website
6. CityPASS
I'm sure your dad already has heis next trip planned. Why not help him make it more affordable by giving him most or all of his activities for free? This is also something that a grad will be undyingly grateful for getting to do more for less, so they can splurge a bit more on food. You'll be able to find a lot of participating cities. $50+ on CityPASS website.
7. Thule Crossover 2 backpack
The Thule crossover is a 30L bag that can fit all your gear for a trip, plus keep all your electronics safe and organized. It has RFID-blocking, a water-resistant shell, a sleek profile, and plenty of room with pockets and sections to keep everything in its place. The Crossover 2 Convertible Laptop Bag has all the same features, plus a side handle and removable strap, so it can also be carried like a briefcase. Perfect for business travel and backpacking. From $184 on Amazon

Who's on your list this year and what are your top gifts?


*Dislaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through one of those links, I may be monetarily compensated + I'll be eternally grateful for your support.
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