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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How To Travel-fy Your Haircare Routine

When you travel, if you want to travel light, there are some things you have to change. While it can be easy to get caught up in routines, and it's important to keep some of them intact wherever you go, sometimes you need to switch things up to fit your travel lifestyle. We don't compromise on our strict carry-on only policy unless it's coming back from vacation and checking a bag with our too-many-purchases is less expensive than shipping back the spill over. That being said, we are always looking for ways to pack less and lighter. 

How to take care of your hair on vacation

Now, I'm not willing to have a bad hair day in exchange for more packing space if that's my option, so I'm betting I'm hardly the only one. Want to look your best while still keeping everything in your small bag?

Decant your fave products into smaller containers

This seems like a no-brainer, but some people are still trying to pack full-size products and checking their bags because of it. I'm not going to pay an extra $35 for my shampoo to fly, especially when I'm not going to need a giant bottle of it for a week or two. Washing your hair everyday isn't good for it, unless you're spending all your time in the pool or ocean and need to get the chemicals out. Either way, a 3oz bottle should last you more than two weeks, even with everyday shampooing. Make a run to Target, pick up a selection of travel bottles and jars if your fave products don't come in smaller sizes and decant, decant, decant. Only need a smidge? Use contact cases for things like moisturizer that you need very little of.

Make use of dry shampoo

If you don't know how to break out of the shampoo everyday rut, try a dry shampoo. You can find small spray bottles at your salon or in the hair care aisle of your favorite drugstore. Make your own at home and save money. it's easy. Here's how.

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Switch to shampoo bars

This is a favorite in my travel bag. I save room in my 3-1-1 for more important stuff, like contact solution and moisturizer, by packing a solid shampoo and conditioner. I buy mine from Lush, but they have them at Basin and several other places. They work like soap, but come in a variety of ingredients for different types of hair, just like regular shampoo. A bonus is that they last for a really long time, so you won't have to refill your shampoo after every trip like you might now. Another bonus: no spillage. I hate that.

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Downsize to travel-size hair appliances

Bringing your hair appliances from home is a good idea, since you know how they work and will make you feel better about yourself if you're used to using them all the time. I travel with a straightener by Conair, but not the same one I use everyday. It's large and bulky. Instead, I've opted for the smaller, travel-size one. It actually works better and takes up a heck of a lot less space in my carry-on. I have one that has a rounded edge, so I can use it to straighten or curl. I love a multi-purpose tool. More and more companies are making mini versions of their popular hair care appliances, and it's smart to invest in them, plus you can always keep it packed in your bag, so you don't forget it.

Don't bother taking a blow dryer

I know this is a controversial one. I tend to take showers at night and let my hair air dry, or spritz in some beach spray (see below), so I can scrunch and go, but I know there are people who swear by blow drying. I'm not one of them, because I'm lazy, but sometimes I use one. That said, almost all hotels and even many vacation rentals supply hair dryers for their guests. Save room in your bag and leave yours at home. If you must bring one though, try to find a travel version, so you aren't taking up half your carry-on with an unnecessarily large device.

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Instead of a curling iron, use sea salt spray for beach curls

I've discovered the beauty of beach curls/waves. I like it, because I can jump out of the shower, spray this in, scrunch it up and get on with my day. So much easier than taking out the curler, waiting for it to heat up and meticulously curling strand after strand. It saves me time, which I am grateful for. It can also work on dry hair, but I've been less successful with that. I'd say to just spray your hair with water first and then add the sea salt spray for best results.

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Use sunscreen

Don't forget that your hair is just as susceptible to sun damage as your skin. Rub some sunscreen in your palms and run your hands through your hair to avoid leeching your color. This also adds a bit more needed moisture too. If you're worried about it not blending in, dilute it with a little water. If you wear a part in your hair, make sure to dab some sunscreen there as well. There's nothing worse than a burnt (and eventually peeling) scalp. 

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Go au naturale

Put your clothes back on, because I'm still talking about your hair. If you're okay with saving time in the morning with tools and unneeded products, feel free by leaving your hair as it naturally is. Don't curl your straight hair or straighten your curly hair. You might find you don't hate it. If all else fails, make it easier to deal with by putting it in a braid or messy bun.

Do you have travel hair care tips that save time or luggage space?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Eating Cheaper on Your Vacation

One of the most exciting parts of traveling, besides going somewhere new, is trying new food. Are you always thinking about when and where you’re going to eat next? Do you want to eat your way through the city? With all the fresh air and walking one gets while out sightseeing, it might be the thrill of being in a new city or because all the extra exercise, but it feels like you just ate and are hungry again! 
eating cheaper while on vacation

Unfortunately, it’s impractical to eat all day. Not just because it’s unhealthy, but also because it’s totally unaffordable. Plus, how would you get any sightseeing done? Even if you eat just three times a day, you’re going to need some tips on how to do it inexpensively, so at least you don’t go broke doing it. Here are just a few of the rules to follow to get the best bargains and keep your wallet from emptying out by the end of the first day.

Bring snacks!

Trick your stomach by bringing snacks with you in your bag each day. This way, if you’re tempted to nibble on something, you know you have them on you and are less likely to spend money on food you don’t really need.

Eat where the locals eat

Just by avoiding touristy areas, you can save a lot on your meals. When you’re out, ask a few people where they recommend. They aren’t going to tell you they prefer a chain restaurant over their favorite local pub. The food is likely more authentic than those that you can find right near tourist attractions, making it cheaper, because it’s local and not shipped in from a different country.

Make lunch your main meal

If you really want to try one of the “hip” restaurants by a celebrity chef, make reservations for lunch. The food will be just as good, but it’s usually much cheaper at lunch than at dinner. 

Hit up the food carts
Food carts can have 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.

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

This is a great way to stretch a 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. If you aren’t a big breakfast person, instead of eating out for that meal, shop for new cereals and pastries that you can’t get at home. There’s never a better time to try new foods!

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

Groupon is an amazing little site that offers daily deals on a wide assortment of things, not least of which is dining. Each day a new offer goes up at a big discount off the regular price. Dining certificates can be purchased quite often and many times you can grab a half-off gift certificate to a new local restaurant or one just trying to bring in new customers. It works! 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 all 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.
This is just a small list of things you can do to help stretch your food budget on your future trips, but they can save you quite a bit. Remember, the more money you save on meals, the more money you can spend on doing something else!

How do you like to save money on your vacation meals?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Stop Packing These 5 Things

I used to pack a bunch of things when I traveled. Over the years, I've learned what is a must and what should stay home in order to get the most use out of it and allow me to carry-on my belongings and save baggage fees. Every time I travel, I get better and better at packing, especially when returning to places that I've been several times. 

Quit packing these 5 items and what to pack instead

Of course, I still make mistakes – like when I decided I didn't want to take a rain jacket to Orlando – but that's me being human. I'm willing to continue to learn. Fortunately, I've learned these five important lessons when traveling and it makes me a more efficient packer/traveler.
I’ll admit it. I live in Oregon, where it rains…a lot. I’m used to it and I couldn’t even tell you where any of the umbrellas I own are located. I either just walk around in it or put on my rain jacket, because if I didn’t, I’d never really go anywhere for a majority of the year. Umbrellas are impractical and take up space in my travel bag and can only be used in one situation. If it’s windy when it rains, they’re useless.

What to pack instead: Get a good, lightweight, packable rain jacket with hood. This will free up your hands, keep you drier and won’t poke out people’s eyes if you’re in a crowded area (like the theme park). If you’re traveling somewhere warm, it can also be thrown on when inside an air conditioned space or a cold snap happens. Multi-purpose.

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High Heels (impractical shoes)
If I can’t walk all day in a pair of shoes without wanting to cut off my feet, then they aren’t coming with me in my bag, with the exception of flip flops that I can wear to the pool, down to the lobby or to the grocery store. Uncomfortable shoes or high heels rarely get worn on vacation, because after walking all day, your feet already hurt and squeezing your feet into a pair of stilettos sounds like more torture than usual.

What to pack instead: A nice pair of sandals or ballet flats that work with your shorts, pants and dresses and have good support, so you can wear them out sightseeing and then to a nice dinner in the evening.

1 outfit per day
Okay, this is a complete no-no for those packing light to avoid checking a bag. You don’t need 14 tops and 14 bottoms and 9 pairs of shoes. You just don’t.

What to pack instead: Be creative and pick a color scheme for your clothing, so that you can mix and match. All your tops should be able to go with all your bottoms and give you the maximum use of everything. I like to go with this equation: 5 tops + 3 bottoms = 15 unique outfits. Throw a dress into the mix and your travel outfit (that one you wore on the plane) and make your travel wardrobe even larger. Maybe you’ll have to do a little laundry. Suck it up.
All your makeup
Let’s face it. You probably have a crapload of cosmetics in your bathroom and you probably use only 5-10% of what you have on any given day. Leave that giant makeup bag at home and go a little more natural.

What to pack instead: Smaller sizes, the bare necessities and multi-use products. If you missed my last post on your summer beauty bag, check it out for more help on this.
Okay, I’m not telling you not to read, but books and magazines are bulky and take up valuable space you need for more important things, like pants.
What to pack instead: Take a magazine (or two) and load up your phone or tablet with your favorite books and mags. I will take a magazine just for the parts of my flight where I can’t have my electronics on, but I tend to read or play a game on my tablet or play a game with my husband the rest of the flight. My tablet packs a ton in a small package and saves me a lot of room. Just remember your backup battery. Leave your read magazine behind for someone else on the next flight, and voila! You've gotten rid of an extra thing.

I stick by all these tips for every trip I take, just so I don’t overpack and can pack as light as possible. Being able to carry all my own baggage is key. If you’ve ever tried to drag everything you own up three flights of stairs after a 12-hour – or even a 2-hour – flight, then you know the pain of packing more than you need.

What items do you make sure to leave at home and what do you pack instead?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

How Do You Hotel?

I don't stay in too many hotel rooms when I travel, because I like to feel at home wherever I go, but when I do, I have a lot of expectations. Apparently, I'm not the only one. The average guest going into this year want more. Expect more from their hotel stay experience. 

What are the most important things to have in a hotel room for you specifically?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Plan a Romantic Staycation for Valentine's Day

If you're like me, you've got plenty of things planned for the year, so you don't particularly have money (or motivation) to plan a Valentine's getaway for you and and your sweetie. That's okay. Instead of a gift they probably don't need or paying way too much for flowers or a dinner out, why not surprise them with a creative staycation?

plan a romantic valentine's day staycation

I love being a tourist in my own city, and I often just throw my camera in my bag and look at things as if I were a visitor. Here are some ways to get romantic for the holiday without breaking your bank:

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Go Glamping

Break out your tent, pitch it in the backyard, stock it with pillows and blankets, string up some battery-powered fairy lights, open a bottle of wine and get your favorite foods delivered. If you have a short table or something that can work as a table if you throw a tablecloth over it, use that and spin some tunes on your phone to create a romantic atmosphere. You don't have to spend the night out there, but you can spend some quality time together and pretend you're not at home...at least until you need to use the restroom, but at that point, you'll be happy that you aren't actually camping.

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Do Dinner and a Movie

Instead of a traditional dinner-movie date, cuddle up in the backyard (or in your car drive-in style) and eat dinner al fresco while watching a movie on a projection screen - or you can put up a sheet if you don't have one. 

Go On a Scavenger Hunt

Buy yourself a city hunt that you play on your phone and put your heads together to follow the clues and learn some new things about where you live. StrayBoots and Urban Adventure Quest are good ones. Bring your camera and take fun pics of the two of you while you're crushing it like the boss couple you are.

Take a City Tour

Pretend you just moved to where you live and you're on a first date and take a cool tour, whether it's a walking tour, a bus tour, a boat tour or a food tour. Do something new and that you've always wanted to try. It's a great chance to snuggle up with your significant other too. 

Try Unique Dining Experiences

Don't do the same old restaurant dining that you usually do. Sure, that Italian place you hit up every couple of weeks is probably good, but it's time to branch out...and save some money. Instead of dressing up and being the same as everyone else, why not bundle up (if it's cold where you are) and check out a new coffee shop for breakfast and then hit up those food trucks you've been meaning to try. 

Our city just got a new food cart pod with outdoor seating, a fire pit and at least a dozen (so far) different food trucks, so there's something for everyone. It also gives us a chance to try several different foods at once.

Take a Hike

If you're an outdoorsy couple, put on your walking shoes and pack some snacks and head to a hiking spot you've been meaning to make it to. If you're planner, put a picnic together too and have a nice secluded meal where you can connect with each other in a whole new way.

How will you make this Valentine's Day special? For more ideas, check out my staycation Pinterest board.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Heart-Shaped Romantic Destinations

Valentine's Day is coming up fast here. Even though I don't celebrate it, I thought you might like to see some naturally heart-shaped places you can actually travel to. Perhaps you can plan a trip to visit one of them in the future or you might just like a little eye candy for the day. 
Check out these pretty spots:

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Heart Lake, Washington

This naturally-occurring lake can be found in Washington's Olympic National Park. You can hike and even camp next to the lake, for a lovely romantic outdoor date. 

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Makepeace Island, Australia 

This island is owned by Richard Branson and can accommodate 20 guests, so it's probably not cheap to stay on, but it's definitely pretty.

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Tavarua Island, Fiji

If you love surfing (and gorgeous islands), this is known to be one of the best surfing spots in the world and hosts an annual surfing competition. It's also perfect for snorkeling and diving, because it's surrounded by coral reef.

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Coeur de Voh, New Caledonia

This amazing little heart can only be seen properly from above, but this part of the landscape is formed by mangroves and can take on different looks as the vegetation changes. It's difficult to get to, but the area is teeming with fantastic wildlife.

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Valentine Lake, British Columbia, Canada

This lake is for the hard core hiker (or romantic). Plan to camp here, as it's a 4-hour hike from the end of the main road. Just think about what a sweet and well-earned getaway it will be when you get there. Pack a bottle of wine to celebrate the journey.

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Gislachersee Lake, Austria

Located in the Ötztal valley of Tyrol, Austria, this lake offers spectacular views of the Alps. It's a 3-hour hike from the popular ski resort of Sölden, but imagine how gorgeous and secluded it must be in the summertime.

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St. Paul's Bay, Greece

There's a popular wedding venue, there's a small church built on this spot to commemorate St. Paul's visit to teach the Rhodian people Christianity. What a stellar place to renew your vows!

There you have it. Some inspiration for your future travels and a little pretty to round out your Valentine's Day. If you don't have money for a trip, stay tuned for great ideas on how to plan a romantic staycation, and if you're solo for the day and need a laugh, check out this blog post on Society6.

Are you taking your sweetie on a romantic getaway for V-Day?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Travel to Beat the Winter Blahs

Living in Portland has a lot of perks, but one of the drawbacks is that winter can be really bleak. It's not usually bothersome to me, but I know a lot of people who have intense SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This month, I think it's finally caught up to me, because we have very short days full of rain and most of them are super cloudy, and then we have 12-13 hours of nighttime. I'm feeling pretty off on everything and want to just hide in my own bubble and ignore people, and I'm sleeping really badly, which is not a problem I normally have. 

If you're also experiencing SAD, or just the feeling blah in general from the craze of the holidays and then the let-down of the new year, let's talk about how we can combat that: 

Plan a trip

You don't actually need to go on a vacation, especially if you just came back from one, but actively planning for something good can really get you out of a funk. It's been proven that even the act of planning trip can lift your mood, almost as much as actually taking the trip itself. 

I have been looking at things to do and places to eat in New Orleans for my short visit in March for the Travel Goods Show. It's giving me joy in the moments of blerg during this month, since I have something to look forward to. I'm also in the act of slowly packing my bag. I'm not taking much, but buying a few new things is also giving me an emotional lift. In the fall I bought some spring shoes on clearance for future trips, so those are going in as well. And yesterday I parsed out my toiletry bag, so I know I'm not taking things I don't need. 

Stay tuned for a packing light post for spring.

Go explore your town

Just get outside. Even if the weather sucks, taking a day trip or just being a tourist in your own town. As much as I just want to stay inside and listen to podcasts or watch movies, it's not really too productive, so I know I should go out and get fresh air and see people. I planned a group brunch this past weekend and, as much as I didn't want to go, I knew seeing and interacting with people would be good for me, and I was right. 

Force yourself out, take some pictures of cool things, play some games, meet some friends. You'll find you feel less depressed, if only for a little while. It's better than nothing and wallowing at home by yourself and/or being cranky with your family.

Throw a party

We throw quite a few parties, and this year we decided to do more themes, but also try to save more money. Because we can't travel all the time, we came up with a happy medium. We threw our first "destination potluck", where we chose a travel destination and asked our guests to bring dishes from that region. I did a bit of decorating, but nothing crazy like I would normally. It gave us all a break from reality and that excitement of trying new foods when you travel. It was enough to give us the incentive to throw more. 

Hit up the salt room

It's been a while since I suggested this. We aren't all close to the beach, and wintertime isn't a great time to visit anyway. The salt room gives you the same benefits, but you won't have to wear 9 layers of clothes and get wet sand in your shoes. In fact, an hour in the salt room is equivalent to 3 days at the beach, plus the salt-ionized air can help keep you healthy, which is also important in this time where it seems like every third person has the flu or some other nasty sickness.

That's what I got for you. Try to survive the gross seasons of winter and sickness. Eat your veggies, get your vitamins, keep your spirits up, and get excited about future vacations.

How do you beat the winter blahs or your SADness?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Avoiding the Flu While Traveling

We're deep in flu season and this year is much worse than usual. Not only that, but now there's the new Coronavirus coming out of China, too, which is even worse than the flu. I used to get sick any time I went on vacation, but I've since learned how to stay healthy on all my trips, including while flying. If you're worried about getting ill and ruining your whole vacation, you probably need some of these tips:

How to avoid getting sick while traveling

Bring antibacterial gel

Purell is a staple of my travel bag. A lot of airplane water tanks are dirty and full of bacteria, because they're super hard and annoying to clean. Because of that, avoid drinking water from the drink cart unless you get your own unopened bottle, and also don't wash your hands in the bathroom sink, as they come from the same tanks and you'd just be adding extra bacteria on top of bacteria. Just thoroughly coat your hands in gel, or use antibacterial wipes.

Wash your hands often

I know I just said that you shouldn't wash your hands in the airplane bathroom, but make sure everywhere else you go, you wash your hands as much as possible. This will help with any gross germs you pick up from places where people have just touched or coughed on surfaces. 

Don't touch your face

People touch their faces an average of three times an hour, which means if you haven't washed your hands or used Purell, there's a good chance those germs on your hands are getting in your nose, eyes or mouth. Gross, right? Try to consciously keep your hands from your face, especially on the plane. 

Wear a mask

This is another way to keep from touching your face, and also from keeping germs out of your nose and mouth. You can wear a regular medical mask (just make sure it's the right kind and you're wearing it correctly and you dispose of it properly). I, personally, like something a little more fun, and I highly recommend the winged mask from The Barrier Method (or a gaiter neck mask for men or those that like something less fussy. I'll be wearing mine on my trip to New Orleans, and will be purchasing one for Eric for our next trip in the fall.

Drink a ton of water

I bring along a reusable water bottle, mostly because we drink a lot of water when we travel, but also because buying a bunch of bottles is not economical and it's not environmentally-friendly. Once we arrive at the airport, I buy a cold water to fill up, and then when we get to our destination, we usually purchase a big gallon of water to put in the fridge, so we don't have to drink tap water and we have a good supply of clean water. My reusable bottle is a thermos and keeps our drinks hot or cold, so you aren't drinking awful lukewarm water in the middle of the day.

I also love to order a tomato juice while flying, because the altitude takes away some of the wonky flavor and it's also packed with vitamins, which are nice to have while flying.

This is all veggies (and rice)

Eat your veggies

When you travel, it can be hard to eat well, especially if you're eating out a majority of the time. I always make sure to get my allotment of fruits and vegetables, so I'm not losing nutrients that I desperately need, especially when I'm doing more activity than normal. I try to actually order extra veggies (that aren't deep fried) at least a few times when I'm out, or I get a good stash of fruits for breakfasts from the farmers' market or a nearby grocery store when we arrive. 

Take extra vitamins

With all the new foods and extra activity you're going to be faced with, it's easy to get a little lax with your health, so pack a box of immunity tabs, chewable tablets, or Emergen-C. I make sure we take one in the morning and one in the evening.

Get enough sleep

When I don't get enough sleep, I can be cranky and uncool. Nobody wants to be around me. In fact, *I* don't want to be around me. I make sure I give myself some downtime on my trips, because being go go go all the time is exhausting, and packing my days means I don't get to sleep as much as I need. A good night of sleep can do a world of good, plus you wake up feeling refreshed, plus you don't get sick from not allowing your body to recharge.

If you have problems sleeping, look for something that helps you drift on or stay asleep. A few of my favorite ways to do this is an herbal sleep spray, an all-natural sleep aid, a great eye mask and/or a good pair of ear plugs

Avoid excess alcohol

I love a tasty drink as much as the next person, but I try to limit my booze intake while traveling and I definitely avoid it while flying to keep from getting dehydrating. I may have a drink with dinner or while out at happy hour, but I also try not to drink much before it's time for bed, because it doesn't help me sleep better. In fact, I sleep really badly when I drink too much. You know your body better than anyone, so you can make sure you stay within your limits.

Staying healthy while you travel can really help you make the most of the time you have and avoid being miserable while trying to have a good time sightseeing. When you've got limited time in a place, you don't want to feel like you wasted money to go there. 

Do you have a favorite way to stay healthy on vacation?

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