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Saturday, June 29, 2013

SkyRoll’s New Spinner Bag

With the billion things people use Kickstarter for, it’s nice when you find an actual useful item that you want to back. You may remember my review of the original SkyRoll garment bag. That bag is super convenient and fits a lot in a little space, but not everyone can carry a bag on their shoulder – or wants to – and spinner wheels are so much more convenient than the in-line skate wheels, because they are more sturdy and your bag won’t flop around if you hit a rock or whatever.

Photo credit: SkyRoll.com

The original SkyRoll just doesn’t work for everyone, even though it’s so awesome. For one, you can’t put bulky items in it, like sweaters or your laptop. The new spinner will have a built-in laptop/tablet pocket on the inside. It can accommodate a 15” laptop easily, but you can even take your monster 17” one (if you have such a thing like I do) with a little bit of maneuvering.

Photo credit: SkyRoll.com

You won’t have to sacrifice the garment bag feature though, because not only does the SkyRoll spinner have a main compartment, but it also has an attached garment bag – a regular size one for men and a longer one for formal dresses for women. The bag has their signature toiletry bag. This whole bag fits under the seat on the plane, and you can unzip the top to get at your phone and other important items) that fit in the pockets on the inside top flap and your laptop. It all looks amazingly useful, especially going through security and for the business traveler who needs to take suits and other things for meetings, great for cruisers who need something for formal nights, but also a bag full of warm weather clothes. I think it’s also great for all travelers in between, too.

Photo credit: SkyRoll.com
The Kickstarter campaign went so well that SkyRoll raised above and beyond what they were hoping to get their new project off the ground, which means the new spinner will be out on the market as soon as possible. I’ll be formally reviewing it once it hits the markets, so you may have a new item to add to your holiday wish list or an idea of what to buy for that traveler who has everything….except a SkyRoll spinner bag!

You can preorder your bag right now if you can’t wait. The Kickstarter campaign is still going strong and donations are still being taken. $150 will get you a bag as soon as it is available (with free shipping or $75 outside the US). There are only a few early bird spots left, then it will be a donation of $200 to get your bag, which will retail for $300. Hurry and get your bag at a deep discount and have it in time for holiday travel.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Pack for a Weekend Getaway

Most travelers aren’t content never taking a vacation or even slaving away all year to wait for their annual trip. In fact, aside from the usual two weeks, it’s hard to make it through day-to-day without getting away a few other times throughout the year. We tend to take a few days here and there a couple times a year. You might not think you have the funds to do it, but if you step back and take a look at your travel style you can find ways you can cut corners, meaning you’ll need a smaller budget to fund these long weekends. There are plenty of ways to save money, no matter where you go or how you get there. If you’ll be road tripping on your getaways, like I did on my trip to Bend, Oregon, then you can find tips for saving on drives here and here.

When you fly to your destination, one of the easiest ways to save – time and money – is by traveling carry-on only. You don’t need much for a few days, which means you can pack quickly, skip the airline counter check-in and ignore the baggage carousel upon arrival. I always have a packing list to help me keep the number of items down and also to make sure I don’t forget any of the essentials. I know when I get to my destination I can probably buy whatever I missed packing, since a weekend getaway isn’t going to take me that far from home (like, I probably am not going to Bali or Columbia), but I’m adamantly against spending money for things I already have. Here’s how to build your packing list:

Instead of even travel-size shampoo/conditioner, these samples can work for a weekend getaway

Normally, I take this 3oz hand cream, but these two sample packs are more than enough for 3 days
Save those samples
I know I’m not the only one that has a bag full of samples and trial-size health and beauty items. Every purchase I make from Sephora or other department store makeup counters comes with mini sizes of beauty products. I also sign up for many freebies online. When I travel, I go through and see what I can use and then pack it in my 3-1-1 or toiletry bag. I’m never going to use a full-size thing on a two-week trip, much less just a few days, so there’s no point bringing a whole container of anything, be it toothpaste, moisturizer or shampoo.

Pare down your beauty routine
Even with all your travel-size items, it still smart to take less. If you have an extensive morning routine at home, see what you can just get away with. I don’t load up on the makeup normally, so I figure there’s no point in taking a bunch of unnecessary items that I’ll probably not use. I know when I wake up I’m going to do the bare minimum so I can hurry up and get on with my day. Four or five products are all I need: moisturizer, foundation, powder, blush and mascara (optional). See what things you can do without. If you are an eye makeup kinda girl, look for makeup palettes that have everything you need in a neat little package, so you don’t have to pack everything separately.

Decant, decant, decant
Sometimes you can't find samples of your fave products, but you don't need to waste space by bringing even a large travel-size container. In this case, I say decant. Eric has a fantastic shave cream from Kiehl's, but it takes very little for each use, so I put some in a travel pot and kept the actual container at home. This makes it doubly perfect for traveling.

Pack multipurpose items
I love it when things do more than one thing. Cheek tint that is also a lip stain. Tinted moisturizer with SPF instead of sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation. A maxi skirt that can also be worn as a dress. A tablet for games, books, email and internet. All these things are perfect companions for your carry-on bag, because they take up less space.

My Vegas attire: shorts, capris, dress, 3 tops, fancy sandals and a
pair of  ballet flats (to be worn on the plane)

Mix and match
As always, when you coordinate all your clothing, it’s super easy to pack in a carry-on. Two bottoms and three tops can mix and match to make SIX outfits. That’s way more than you’ll need for a long weekend. Don’t forget that what you wear in transit can also be rotated in as needed. And shoes! You should take two pair – max. Make sure they are both comfortable enough to walk in all day. Don’t be like my coworker who told me that she had 16 pairs of shoes she wanted to take with her to Mexico on a four day trip. Sixteen! I don’t even think that many shoes would fit in my carry-on and if they did, there would be no room for anything else, except maybe socks and underwear. Her trip was for a wedding, so aside from what she needed for the ceremony, she could have survived with a sun dress, a pair of shorts, her bathing suit and some flip flops. Learning to pack efficiently is important and can save you a ton.

That’s it. Think about what you truly need with you for three or four days and be realistic. Don’t play the “what if” game. What if I go out to a fancy dinner? What if it gets really cold? What if I want to go clubbin’? Did you plan for those things? Do you normally just change plans at the last minute? Sometimes it seems like it might be harder to pack for a short trip than a long one, but with some practice, it can be super simple. Just think, if you don’t bring something that you thought you could live without, by the time you miss it, you’ll probably already be back home.

Yup, that's my actual packing list!
This trip we’re taking two bottoms, three tops, a pair of sandals/flip flops and a pair of walking shoes (my sandals are walking shoes, so I’m also taking a pair of ballet flats) each and our packable jackets. I threw in a travel dress to wear to dinner with family. All that and our toiletries fit into our rolling carry-on, so I’ll be taking a the new Travelon Signature Messenger (review coming soon) to carry my regular purse stuff, important documents, netbook and snacks, and Eric will be carrying the Travelon Urban Tour Bag for the iPad, his 3DS and bottle of water. That’s it. We are traveling light. Staying at two places in three nights requires us to be able to throw everything in our bags and go quickly.

What are some of your favorite ways to travel light?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Infographic: Let's Go On a Beer Holiday

Don't forget to enter you name into the drawing to win a new Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit from my good friends at Travelon. Entering is fast and easy!

Lots of people take vacations to indulge in local wine, but what about beer? Have you ever heard of someone traveling specifically to sample local brews? I haven't, though oddly I know plenty of people who are crazy about beers and ales and love to grab a pint with their meals. If this sounds like an appealing way to plan your next vacation, check out this infographic of the beer around the world and decide where to go based on its popularity and cost. Even aficionados can work their love of this beverage into a budget trip. Some of the best food I've ever had was in a pub, and it was much cheaper than at a normal restaurant, which is always handy.

The cheapest beer in the world and other pint-sized facts

I found my love of Guinness on a trip to the UK. Where did you have the best beer/ale/lager and what was it called (if you can remember)?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Super Useful Travel Posts

Win the awesome Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit from Travelon. Enter here!

Happy Friday! Can you believe June is almost over? It seems like it was just June 1st and now it’s the 21st. How’d that happen? Maybe I’ve been having so much fun planning my trip to Vegas that the time just slipped by. Somehow, I don’t think that’s all of it, but that just means it’s time for me to show you the fun stuff I found over the last few weeks.

Have you ever bought luggage at the airport? Seems a bit odd, right? It’s no secret that I love to shop at the airport, but I’ve yet to buy a bag of any kind while there. I did once by a carry-on while in my last days of vacation in order to bring goodies back from Europe, but even when my wheel broke on a bag, I just suffered until I got home and replaced it after some comparison shopping. So, if you also wonder who buys luggage at the airport, Harriet Baskas from Stuck At The Airport has an enlightening article about it.

Photo credit

Do you hate it when you have a nice manicure or pedicure on your vacation and two days in you chip it? I know this irritates me all the time. I either take a bottle with me of matching polish or just go au natural. This new pen can help you fix your chippy nails and also save space in your 3-1-1 bag. LAQA & CO. knows that we like to keep our fingers and toes looking great no matter where we are. You can also slip it into your purse when not traveling.

Photo credit: Smarter Travel
Sitting on the airplane can make you all stiff and cranky. You can’t very well get up and do jumping jacks, and even if you could, you probably wouldn’t, because it’s weird, right? It’s a good idea to stretch and move around when on flights, long or short. You don’t want to annoy your neighbors or make people stare at you though, so why not try these suggestions from Smarter Travel for in-flight exercises that aren’t totally embarrassing.

Almost everyone loves the beach. If you are taking a trip to Europe this year and think that all the beaches you know about will be bursting with sunbathers, you’re probably right. That’s why you need to find a lonely stretch of sand to call your own. Travel + Leisure brings you Europe’s Secret Beaches, which may not be a secret for much longer now that they’ve let the cat out of the bag, so pack your suit and sunscreen and plan a few days near the water and soaking up the rays.

If you have been sad that you have to go all the way to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can now look forward to a cheaper trip (for us West Coasters) when it opens at Universal Studios Hollywood at some future undetermined date.

Are you a vegan traveler and have problems finding places to eat when you go on a trip? Chicago Tribune brings you the top 10 most vegan-friendly cities. Surprise! Portland is on this list, but actual surprises are Las Vegas and Austin, Texas.

Summer weather isn’t always sunny and hot. And sometimes it’s too sunny and too hot. For unpredictable summers, take a trip to one of the 10 best indoor water parks brought to you by Tripomatic. Personally, I have Germany’s Tropical Islands on my list, because it looks super cool. 

As always, I hope you enjoyed some of these posts I've found. If you've found anything fun that's travel-related, feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gevalia: A Coffee to Travel With

We are coffee drinkers. At home, that's pretty easy to deal with, because we have our Keurig* brewer in the kitchen and all-day coffee at work. When we travel, you don't have too many options, especially if you're trying to stay on a budget. Going to the coffee shop every morning is not an option if you want to save money. Most hotels and vacation rentals have a coffee machine, but the blend they supply you with is some of the cheapest coffee available. It can get you through, but it's definitely not high-quality. You do have a third option, and that is to bring your own coffee. We have started doing this, because we almost always have breakfast in our accommodation.

Wat's the point of all this coffee-talk? So, I can tell you about an awesome coffee brand that you can enjoy at home and on-the-road. It's so yummy, you'll find yourself making room in your carry-on bag to be able to pack it. It's not just perfect for breakfasts on your trip, but the rich flavor complements any treats you pick up at the bakery or that dessert you were too full to finish off, but had to order anyway. (You know who you are.)

Dessert-inspired birthday wrapping
This past weekend, we had a group party where we celebrated three birthdays, a graduation and Father's Day. (There were a lot of gifts involved!) My part was desserts, because I love to bake, and I decided to make something special for each person we were celebrating. And what goes best with dessert? Coffee! That's what! I stopped by Safeway to get everything I needed, including some chocolate mocha Gevalia. Chocolate goes better with more chocolate after all. As soon as I unpacked all my goodies, my mother-in-law made a point of saying "That's my favorite coffee!" And it's no wonder. Gevalia is bold, never bitter and full of rich flavor. It was the ideal partner to each goody I made. 

While I was at Safeway getting my baking essentials, I grabbed a box of new Gevalia Keurig® K-Cup®* coffee for home, too. The Swedes really know how to make their coffee, but I suppose that makes sense - They've been doing it since 1853. Their experts pick the best beans, cast-iron roast them, grind them super-fine and the result is a delicious, delicious coffee experience. Want to see my final dessert buffet?

Salted Caramel Brownies and Espresso Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Roll, Smores Pops and Lemon Basil Poundcake
The desserts were a big hit (surprise!), but the coffee was also a favorite and I'll be finding some room in my carry-on for it on my big trip to London and Paris this fall. Not only because I love, love, love to start my day off with an awesome cup of coffee, but also because most accommodations there don't include coffee and I can't afford to buy one every day for two weeks - a cup can run you $5-6 at a cafe or even a corner coffee shop. Multiply that by two of us and we could eat two (or more) actual meals out instead. Gevalia's richness will add a new level to the quick meals we make ourselves and help us start our days off right. 

Fun opening gifts
Maybe one of our future trips to Europe will take us to Gavle, Sweden where we can tour the factory and sample more premium blends made by the pros. (You  might see a 48 hours post soon!) In the meantime, we can sip our own steamy mugs and imagine what that vacation will be like. It will be a staple at all of our future get togethers, too. Not only was it fun to gather everyone for food and gifts, but it's always lovely to catch up with family and good friends. So, next time you're at Safeway, or your favorite local food store, stop by the coffee aisle, pick up some Gevalia and invite a friend over to catch up. And buy an extra bag for your upcoming trip.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

*Kraft Foods is not affiliated with Keurig, Inc. KEURIG and K-CUP are registered trademarks of Keurig, Inc. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Disneyland Paris Wish List

Want to win a great toiletry bag for your next trip? Enter to win the Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit from Travelon.

Well, I'm on schedule. We officially have airfare to London and Paris, so this fall is going to be an amazing traveling experience. If you missed my last wish list posts, you can view my London list and my Paris list. Though we have been to Disneyland Paris before, we were rushed and only had one day to see both parks. Now there are new things to see and do and we are taking 3 days to see it all, including exploring Disney Village. I'm super excited for this trip, as you can imagine. Here are some of the things I consider must-see highlights at Disneyland Paris and the surrounding area.

Disneyland Paris Photos
This photo of Disneyland Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

In the dungeon of Sleeping Beauty's castle lies the dragon. It breathes fire, even! It's one of the coolest things we've seen at a theme park and we definitely won't be missing this when we go back.

Disneyland Paris Photos
This photo of Disneyland Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

You know how I love a Halloween Party. Well, Disneyland Paris has one, too, though it's only one night. If I can get tickets, we're going to dress up and be there to see special parades, fireworks and shows.

Disneyland Paris Photos
This photo of Disneyland Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Everyone loves Space Mountain, but Space Mountain Mission 2 is a whole other adventure. It's a traditional roller coaster that goes upside down. It's crazy fun and worth waiting in line for...though the line is still never as long as the original ride at Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris Photos
This photo of Disneyland Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cars Land is a thing in Paris, too. We're hoping it's less crowded than California and we can enjoy it more this time. Don't you love Luigi and Guido?

Photos of Walt Disney Studios Park, Marne-la-Vallee
This photo of Walt Disney Studios Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Instead of just a show, Crush has his own ride! It looks a lot like the Matterhorn, but we love that ride, so we are excited to test it out.

Photos of Walt Disney Studios Park, Marne-la-Vallee
This photo of Walt Disney Studios Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I wish Disneyland also embraced more of the Toy Story franchise. We're going to be getting on the new (to us) RC Racers, Slinky Dog Coaster and Army Men Parachute Drop.

Photos of Walt Disney Studios Park, Marne-la-Vallee
This photo of Walt Disney Studios Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

No trip to Disney is complete without a few meals out. I've read such good things about the Earl of Sandwich, though it won't be the only place we eat at Disney. I'm looking forward to making reservations for some actual sit-down restaurants, too.
Photos of Disney Village, Marne-la-Vallee
This photo of Disney Village is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Have you been to Disneyland Paris? Did you have a favorite ride?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Travelon Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit

If you have a few minutes to spare, don't forget about my reader survey that is still open. I really want to know what you like and don't like about Shereen Travels Cheap!

So, I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I like to have all my toiletries together and organized. I am not one to just toss a bunch of stuff in a bag and assume it’s everything I need. I have a list of every necessity and then add a few non-essentials to make me feel pretty. At the end of this month we are going to Las Vegas for three days and I am starting to pack already.

Travelon set me up with their Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit, which is perfect for taking the necessities – and then some – for one person and most likely large enough for several people going on a long weekend (or a longer trip if the majority of your stuff is liquids and goes in your 3-1-1 bag and you are good at paring down everything else). Usually when I travel, I take the regular size hanging toiletry kit, but I find it can be a little large if I’m going alone or we go for a short trip.

Look at all this stuff that fit in there!
This kit is definitely compact, but it has a lot more room than you think it does. Look at all this stuff I was able to get into it. Half of it will go in my 3-1-1 bag, but when I get to my destination, I like to have everything in one place, so keeping it all in the bag is really convenient, because I don’t have to search a bunch of places. It’s easy to keep organized, too. There is one large compartment, which is where we stash things like our toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant. Items that we need to find more quickly, like sunscreen and shampoo, can be slipped into the elastic loops – and it keeps bottles from turning over and spilling on everything by accident.

There are two zipper pockets, one mesh on the top that we use for small things that we might need: bandages, tweezers and stain remover towels. In the front is a PVC pocket that is good for things that might make a mess. I like to use it for little things that I use a lot, like my lip balm and contact lens cases.

When we get to our room, the compact toiletry case is never in the way. Closed, we can hang it on a hook in the bathroom by the attached loop on the back. When we are actively using the bag, we can unzip it and use the sturdy hanger to hang it on that same hook, from a towel rod or anywhere else it might be fitting. Your necessities can always be at your fingertips, and if someone is using the bathroom, you can hang it somewhere else in the room and have access to your toiletries.

As you can see, once my liquids have been put into my 3-1-1 bag, there is a considerable amount of free space in the toiletry kit. I probably could fit my mini flat iron in there or some hair accessories. It’s the perfect size for my trip later this month, and both Eric’s and my stuff fit into it. It won’t take up much room in our carry-on either, which is important when we are just trying to take the bare essentials and still have some room left to bring purchases home. And you know there will be some, because I’ll be wandering the Forum Shops for a while during the NBA Draft. Eric isn’t going to shop at H&M or drool over Jimmy Choos and I can only watch so much of the Draft before I fall asleep, so there will probably be a few buys to go back home.

We’ll also be staying in two different places within three days, so being able to pack up quickly will be very useful. Since everything can fit into my toiletry kit, I can zip it up, toss it back in my carry-on and then hang it up at my next destination. Easy peasy! Can you tell I love this bag? I think you will, too.

More information
Where you can buy itTravelon online
How much it costs$25.00
Colors it comes inblack | blue steel | snake | leopard | zebra
Other specs420 D. Polyester fabric that is easily wiped down if you spill on it – the snake print comes in crinkle nylon fabric, 9 X 7 X 4.25 

Want to win your own Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit from Travelon? Enter below!

Disclosure: I was provided with the Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: Snugg iPad Mini Case

So, what do you do when you go on a trip and want to take along your iPad mini? If you’re like me, the first thing you do when you get a new electronic gadget that seems fairly fragile is get a case for it. TheSnugg.com contacted me and asked if I would like to review their popular cases. How could I refuse? For a few minutes I contemplated calling everyone I knew to see if they had a more recently produced iPad that I could borrow for a day to review one of their awesome headrest cases for the car, but I decided instead that most people I know now are all into their minis, since they are more portable and easier to travel with, so I asked if I could review the Snugg mini in a fun color.

I think I’m becoming a case snob now and I’m excited to have several different ones to choose from. I like items that coordinate, too. My netbook that I travel with is royal blue and I asked Snugg to send me the baby blue case to go with it. I figured Eric would be none too thrilled if we got a pink case and it didn’t match with anything. I did like that it was an option though.

Snugg claims they have sold their leather cases all over the world and to many celebrities, so if you want to be like Justin Timberlake – and now me! – you can buy one after you read about how great these protective and stylish cases are. They are available for all generations of iPad, iPad mini and iPhone.

Snugg makes cases that are sleek and colorful. I love the variety of hues they come in and you can be sure that they are sturdy, since they are made of leather. The case has a magnetic closure that keeps it from flapping open if you have it stashed in your bag. Once open the mini is kept in place by a snug (ha!) frame and a convenient Velcro closure that is hidden behind your device. You tuck the tab in to stick it together. I tested its security by waving it all around me and my mini didn’t budge at all. That’s pretty great, especially if you are a one-hand-user or your kid(s) uses it.

The inside cover is soft and sueded to protect your screen, though you can buy special screen defending sheets from Snugg, too. You’ll also find a handle that you can slide your hand under to help you hold onto your mini even better. Slide the cover into the back slot to make it more ergonomic for book or email reading. The handle is soft underneath and is also elasticized to keep it comfortably tight to your hand, so it can’t accidentally slide off and onto the floor. Plus, it’s easy to use if you are right or left-handed.

You don’t have to just hold onto your mini. Once the back has been fit into the slot, it angles the case to be able to use it hands-free in two different positions. You have both a low angle and a steep angle, so it can be used in any way that is comfortable to you.

Another great feature of this case is that your mini does not need to be taken out of the Snugg to be able to use the camera/video function or FaceTime. You can happily snap away while out and about and still keep your mini safe. There are also convenient cutouts for all the iPad features: volume, power button, headphone jack, power jack and microphone. And if you like to use a stylus pen instead of your finger to work your screen, it has a handy little slot to stash it on top, which means you never have to fumble around in your bag for it, because it’s always right at your fingertips.

Even though the Snugg is sturdy and made of leather, it is still not as thick as many other cases are, which makes it easier to pack into any bag you carry, as it is lightweight and doesn’t take up much more room than your actual mini. Do you have a bag with a slot specifically for your iPad? This should fit perfectly in it.

All their cases are attractive, stylish and can be both fun and professional looking if you use your mini for business purposes. I chose the baby blue, but you can chose from anything from basic black to a pixelated camo print and every color in between. If you are looking for a gift for your gadget-loving dad for Father’s Day, there’s still time to pick up one of these nifty cases for his iPad/iPad mini. He’ll love that you were thoughtful enough to get him something to protect one of his most versatile electronic items.

More information
Where you can buy itSnugg online
How much it costs$24.99-29.99
Colors it comes inBlack, Baby Blue, Electric Blue, Pink, Orange, Red, White, Distressed Brown, Camouflage, Denim
Other specsSoft inside with PU leather outside. Automatic sleep/wake function: Open the case to wake your iPad mini, close it and Sleep mode is activated. Lifetime guarantee.

Like Snugg and their great products? Find them on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and Google+.

Disclosure: I was provided a Snugg Mini for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% mine.
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