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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tips for Traveling with Babies

Having a family can create challenges, especially when traveling, but that doesn't mean it's too hard to go, even with babies. As long as you plan accordingly and ahead of time, you can totally be a master parent traveler. Here are just some ways to help you figure it out and be a pro in no time.

Travelling With Babies
What are your tips for traveling well with your infants?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 4

We're back to getting all caffeinated with Portland's coffee culture. In this series, I visit three or more independent coffee shops in the city and tell you what sets them apart from the rest and what I liked and didn't like about them. It's a chance to get away from the millions of Starbucks in the city and get a coffee in a new setting and give back to small businesses. 

portland coffee

I'm not against Starbucks. In fact, I love it because I always know what things will taste like, because I've had them before. They're great to pop into when on a trip, because they're quick and easy, but sometimes I just want to slow down and with so much great coffee in the Portland area, it's a shame I don't branch out more. So, here are the shops I've visited in June:

Case Study Coffee

Located in the Downtown area, this shop is one of the largest I've visited and has the most Starbucks-y atmosphere. The staff are super friendly and the shop is still cozy, despite its large size.

I parked across the street in the parking garage next to Case Study, so my visit was quite easy. The pastry case made it hard to choose something, so I went for a garlic herb bagel with cream cheese (though I could have also had it with either butter or hummus). The flavor was outstanding and they actually gave me enough cream cheese for both halves of my bagel, which seems like an issue a lot of places if they don't put the cream cheese on for you.

I just went with a vanilla latte as my drink of choice. The coffee prices seemed a little high here, so I just ordered a small size, which was still kind of large. While I waited, I watched one of the baristas make a pour-over. They seem to be all the rage now. Since I paid for parking, I ended up well over $10 for my breakfast. That would have been fine if I had been downtown for another reason, but I wasn't. My coffee was a whopping $5, but my bagel (which came from Bowery Bagels) was $2.50 ($2 for the bagel and $.50 for the cream cheese). $7.50 is still on par with Starbucks though, so I suppose it's not that spendy in comparison. 

Prosperity Pie Shoppe

Multnomah Village in SW Portland has been getting a huge overhaul these last few years. One of the newish places that has moved in is this coffee/pie shop and educational center. It's a lovely and warm cafe with comfortable seating, friendly staff and large windows that open onto the sidewalk.

We were invited to Prosperity to see my father-n-law and his friend play music. We took the opportunity to order dessert, since they are open in the evenings. We got an iced chai tea latte (medium: $4), an iced mocha (medium: $4.45) and a slice of banana cream pie ($6.25). The coffee had a wonderful rich flavor and was very refreshing on the warm night. The slice of pie was large enough for us to not need to get a second slice between the two of us and was easy to tell it was homemade. Plus, look at this sweet little message on my plate!

Considering the shop is near a lot of fun boutique stores and up-and-coming restaurants, it makes it even more appealing to hang out in the area. I'll be returning in the future, whether I have a gig to go to or not. It just feels like a nice place to meet friends or have a chill date night. They serve real food as well, mostly salads, and also have a ton of different kinds of loose teas to choose from. 

Bogza Coffee

Sometimes, it's just fun to search your neighborhood for gems and Bogza is a wonderful hidden coffee shop in Beaverton's The Round. This warm and inviting bistro has all your favorite coffee drinks and then some of their own. They also have pretty wooden walls with a miniature gallery.  

I went in looking for the specials. I got a 16 oz honey lavender latte ($4.25) and a chocolate croissant ($2.50) that turned out to be as big as my face. It was a wonderful way to start the morning. I looks like they also have breakfast sandwiches, which I will definitely try next time I'm there. 

Several people were working from the shop, because there are some comfy seats throughout and you get a nice view of the "Round", which is sort of like a park made by apartments, restaurants, and businesses. It's also right on the MAX line. The staff were all super nice and welcoming. At less than $7 for a quick breakfast, this is a great place to hit up when starting your day, or for a pick-me-up in the afternoon.

What are some of your favorite coffee shops where you live or from your travels? What's the "thing" to order?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Business Travel On a Budget

Just because you're traveling for business, it doesn't mean that you have to spend big bucks to get there and back, especially if you work for yourself. Save money, while still being productive by knowing where to splurge. You can be the hero of your company and the envy of other business people. Here are 5 ways to make the most of your money and get ahead.  

better business travel

Get the wireless package
Gogo Wireless is your ticket to successful flying. If you take to the skies often, save big by buying a monthly plan instead of paying per flight. You can use it unlimited throughout the month on your chosen airline, or, for a few dollars more, on all participating airlines. Get all your work done online while other people are watching the in-flight movie or reading a book. The monthly plan pays for itself in just a few three-hour flights.

Purchase a Priority Pass for airport lounges

It’s hard to work in a crowded terminal or even at one of those tiny coffee shop tables, plus you need to find a place to plug your laptop in if you start to run out of juice. Airport lounges are so much more comfortable and efficient. Membership at Priority Pass gains you admittance to over 600 airport lounges across the world, where you can enjoy Internet access, free drinks and snacks and more. The best part? You don’t need to pay for a business class ticket to gain entry.

Pack light

Packing light is always a budget move. Not only do you save on baggage fees, you can go from the plane to your business meeting right away, without having to wait at the baggage claim or drop your bags at your hotel if you don’t have time. Women can make use of a little black dress, a blazer, cardigan and different accessories to make many outfits out of a few key pieces. Men can get by with one suit and several different shirts and ties. You can pack less and still look great and professional every day.

Use your smart phone to save time, money and aggravation

Chances are your phone bill is paid for by your company (or you write it off on your taxes), so use it to make the most of your time. Use a service like TripIt to keep track of all your miles and itineraries, book flights and get travel alerts on-the-go. You can also use it to make reservations with dining programs like OpenTable to get rewards and discounts on dining. Your clients will never know you wined and dined them on a budget!

Get more airline miles

As frequent travelers, business people spend a lot of time in airports. Why only get frequent flyer miles for flying? Accrue miles for parking, shopping and dining when you sign up with Thanks Again and get free flights faster. Use the free flights for your personal trips if you have to use your own money and get reimbursed for the costs. If you use a business credit card for your travels, use the free flights to save on your future business trips.

These are some great ways to make the most of your time and money, making you a more effective business traveler. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and look your best when you arrive at your destination, in case you don’t have time to freshen up. Good walking shoes will also be a lifesaver, as they can be perfect for work situations and also for sightseeing if you have some extra time before heading back home. Feel better and more productive on all your trips!

How do you save on your business travel?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

All the Baggage Guidelines You Need

Every so often the airlines change their baggage allowances. This means not all carry-on bags actually qualify as carry-on size, but it generally depends on the airline as to how flexible they are. AirFrance is notoriously strict about bag size and weight. If you want to travel carry-on-only, it can make it a bit of a challenge, but that's okay, because you know I got you covered when it comes to packing light and teaching you how to mix and match

carry-on baggage guidelines

You can always do laundry when you travel, so the less you take, the easier it will be to carry and get around, plus the airlines are never going to be sad that you just have a small bag. Take the minimum you can (I always plan out my travel wardrobe around my schedule and make sure I have incorporated time to do my laundry into my itinerary). It makes traveling a lot more convenient when you have fewer things to worry about and fewer decisions you have to make. 

 Do you travel with just a carry-on? If so, what are some of your best tips for packing light?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Getting Salty Without the Actual Beach

Here in Portland we don’t get a lot of sun, even outside of Winter. Much of the time you go to the beach, you still have to wear long sleeves or a rain jacket. Going to the beach can be super-relaxing and gives your body much-needed vitamins. Mostly I like to go to the beach to walk along the sand and then go shopping, but my husband likes to go and attempt to swim, then run back and lie in whatever sun there might be, which usually isn’t much. So, instead of wasting 3 hours driving to and from the beach, we have found a new way to visit the beach throughout the whole year: salt caves.

salt cave

Salt caves are rooms that are made of salt from the Dead Sea. The floor is covered in salt and feels like walking on the beach. The salt is a natural ionizer, which pulls impurities out of the air and the minerals permeate the air to help cure ailments like eczema, acne, allergies and respiratory issues like asthma. A regular session is 45-50 minutes and is the equivalent of 3 days at the beach. What a great way to soak up all that goodness in a short amount of time!

You go in and sit in a lounge chair and they turn down the lights for you to relax. Generally, there are only a few people in the room at a time, and in some places, you can have your own cave to yourself. I spend my time blogging on my phone or checking email and, even though I’m technically working, it allows me to concentrate and unwind at the same time. You can sit in the salt if you want or just dig your toes in (as you remove your shoes before entering). Of course, some we've been to require you to wear socks or booties.

They keep the room comfortable, so it’s almost like being at the beach. It is suggested that you wear loose clothing in order to get the full effects of the salty air. This allows you to wear warm weather gear to give you the beachiest experience. After you leave you will feel completely relaxed and after several visits you may start to feel the difference. I have naturally oily skin, but found it evened out after my visits. I also felt like I breathed a bit better – being a lifelong sufferer of allergies. Even if you aren’t trying to relieve any ailments, a salt cave visit can be cheaper than the beach and can also be found in places where there is no beach. It’s like a mini vacation! Look for one in your area.

The one we used to visit in Portland closed and a new one opened, but it is part of a spa and only open for salty goodness Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, making it hard to visit when you have a job. Because of this, we pretty much only visit salt rooms while on vacation and have been toying with the idea of putting in our own salt room in the backyard. It would be like a vacation every time I went inside. 

Have you ever visited a salt cave/room?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

5 Ways to Travel Healthy

Do you ever get sick when you travel? This used to happen to me every time I went anywhere. It's a total bummer, but I've finally gotten over that and learned to take care of myself before leaving, while flying and during my trip, so that I can make the most of my time and not be all gross and sickly when I'm away from home. 

If you worry about getting a bug or picking up all those foreign germs everywhere you go, here are some of my top tips to keep healthy so you can enjoy yourself.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the first rules of travel. If you are constantly on the go, you are going to get tired and your body won’t have the chance to recharge itself. Want to hate everyone and everything on your trip? Then sleep as little as possible and try pack as much as you can into the time you have. 

Drink more water

Instead of alcohol, carry around a bottle of water and drink as much as possible. A hydrated body is a happy body. At least drink as much as you would if you were at home, if not more. Travel has a way of sucking all the moisture from you, especially on long plane rides, so if you don’t like plain water, do what I do and load up on those ice tea packets from Lipton or Crystal Light.

photo credit

Antibacterial wipes, spray or gel

When you travel, I can guarantee you that germs are everywhere! From the escalator handrail to the airplane tray table. You can’t always get to a place to wash your hands, or you may want to wipe something down, so bringing any of these is a good idea. I opt for wipes, because you can use them on anything and they can just go in your carry-on instead of your 3-1-1 bag.

Don't forget to eat

Sometimes you’re having such a great time you just plain forget to eat. Not me. I’m hungry all the time on vacation. But if you’re not like me – like my husband – you will be so engrossed in what you are seeing/doing, you totally don’t eat until you are so hungry you could eat your own foot. Plan meals into your schedule and go even if you don’t feel like eating. A regular schedule is important and even if you don’t eat much, it’s better than skipping a meal altogether. 

It also helps if you don’t overeat, which I am likely to do on vacation. If I know I’m not starving, then I get Eric to split something with me, because we can always grab a nibble later if we get hungry again. 

And don't forget to try to squeeze in some healthy options. I try to get as many veggies in as possible, because surviving on a diet of fried foods and cheese aren't going to make you feel that great at the end of a vacation, or even by the middle. Veggies give you energy and help you from getting sick.

Plan for downtime

A combination of downtime and getting enough sleep will surely keep you on top of your game when traveling. You’ll feel better and you’ll have more energy. I know it’s exciting to do as much as possible. I pack my days full of fun things to do, but I also make sure we have time to relax. Traveling in the fall and winter forces you to slow down, because the hours for shops and attractions are shorter. 

If everything closes at 6pm, you really only have a choice of late-night bars or dinner and laundry before bed. I always opt for going back to my hotel/apartment and chilling for a bit, then changing clothes, going to eat and coming back to do email, read a book or play a game. You will notice how much more rested you feel and when you get up the next morning – NOT at the crack of dawn, because things don’t open until 9 or 10am – you’ll be more ready to start your day.

Comment below and let us know how do you keep healthy when you travel:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

2017 Dad & Grad Gift Guide

Father's Day is just 11 days away, and students are in the midst of graduating from high school and college right now. If the dad(s) or grad(s) on your list is into travel - I mean, who isn't? - then something fun and travel-related that will last them on many vacations is way better than, say, that engraved pen, briefcase or tie you were thinking about getting. You know one of those was on your list. Wouldn't you rather have them equate your gift with fun, worldly memories than signing documents and going to work and being a grown up? I know I would rather have something fun (and practical) than something just needed for adult life.

dad and grad travel gifts

I know that not everyone has an unlimited budget for gifts, especially with summer coming and vacations already planned. These gift-giving occasions can seriously creep up on you, or the number of people you end up having to buy gifts for increase quickly some years. Because of that, I have gifts in all price ranges for all budgets. 

Budget (under $50)

More power
Make sure you can follow your grad's travels on Instagram or Facebook by getting them a battery backup for their mobile. You won't have to worry if they got murdered when they can keep their phone charged. Your dad can use this, too, since he's streaming all those videos and looking at all the photos you keep sending him of your kids. We have two of these doodads, which can charge two phones (or tablet or camera) twice during the day. $15.99 

Don't you like to chronicle your trips to remember later? Get them a moleskine journal where they can write down all their thoughts, notes and drawings. They are sleek and convenient, so they fit in the pocket of any bag or jacket. Get them a fancy pen to go with it and you're golden. $10-15, $20+ for Cross pen

Digital security
If your dad/grad loves to lounge by the pool or play on the beach, then you need to get them a waterproof phone pouch. It keeps water and sand out, floats and still lets you talk, text, play games and take pictures. Last time I was using mine in the lazy river, a lady floating by asked me all about it. This would be an excellent gift to go with something else, because it costs less than $10.

Hoodie Pillow
Sleeping on the plane (or a train or the back of the car) can be difficult. Give them the gift of easier sleep with the awesome hoodie pillow where they can get comfortable, keep their head warm and block out light. I love mine and take it everywhere I travel. $20

Travelon RFID-Blocking Trifold Wallet
There are so many thieves out there looking to steal your money, your identity, your credit card numbers. Protect all that stuff that's in your pocket with a stylish and RFID-blocking wallet. It fits all your cards, money, receipts and more and never gets all bulky. It's real leather. only $30

GSI Outdoors Travel Javapress: Do you need a gift for a coffee lover? I've been so disappointed many times by bad coffee. Wouldn't it be awesome to just have a coffeemaker everywhere you went? I thought so, too. This commuter javapress is like a French press in your hand, but with a mesh strainer that does the same job. I have a review here$22.95

Packing Cubes

(Almost) Everyone likes to be organized...especially when they travel. Get them some of Lewis N. Clark's fantastic packing cubes, like the fun new expandable ones, so they fit everything she needs in her carry-on. These can run $10-44, depending on size and set

Hydration. It's important. It's also nice to have a cold beverage stay cold and a hot beverage stay hot...like all day. Laken insulated bottles do just that and come in a variety of sizes. They're really sturdy and you'll still find ice in it hours later. I take this with me everywhere, especially when we go anywhere with the dog. Your dad will be excited that his coffee is still hot when he gets to work, or wherever he's going, even if he gets pulled into a meeting. It's also nice to have ice water available when sitting on a hot, sweaty bus in South America. Plan to spend $30-40 on a good size one

Moderate ($50-100)

Kameleon Rose Travel Dress

Okay, so I have rarely spent $65+ on a dress, but I have done it and have been happy every single time. What if you could spend that same money and get over 20 pieces of clothing? Because that's just what the Kameleon Rose dress is. It can be a dress, a skirt, pants, a top, a poncho and more! I'm loving mine that I picked up at the show and you can see my review here$65-80

Pakems Travel Boots 
These are another Travel Goods Show find. The woman who designed these was looking for a less bulky boot for skiing and playing in the snow and made her own. They are lightweight, still warm, they're cute, and they pack down small, so they don't take up your whole carry-on when you're trying to pack light. I got my Pakems and they are so awesome. See my review here$65

Lewis N Clark Secura Convertipack
Who doesn't love a bag that can be used multiple ways? I'll tell you who. Nobody. And moms totally appreciate a multipurpose bag, especially if it's super cute like this one. The convertipack can be worn as a shoulder bag, crossbody, or a backpack. See my review here$69.99
Chloe Hoodie
This hoodie has so many functions...and pockets! So many pockets! Your lady grad will never take another jacket with them on trips to the laundromat or to Spain. For real. I love this hoodie so much, it's stylish, cozy and lets you walk around without a purse if you want. It isn't cheap, but the construction is rugged, it's flattering and they are going to wear it all the time. If you don't have a girl on your list, SCOTTeVEST has similar ones for men, including the 10-pocket cotton hoodie, the 10-pocket microfleece hoodie and the 13-pocket Knowmadic hoodie. $90

Splurge (over $100)

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior
This bag will come in handy on a weekend trip to Vegas, a week-long trip to visit Grandma or months in Europe. It doesn't seem like it's that large, but if you mix and match your wardrobe, then you can fit 20+ outfits in here. Perfect for when you need to carry everything with you at all times, including your laptop and other electronics. It can be carried like a backpack, briefcase or a shoulder bag. It fits under the seat on the plane, too, so that's pretty awesome. The bag expands for extra purchases along the way and has a ton of pockets to keep stuff organized. If you need more reasons why it's cool, check out my review$120 on Amazon

Skyroll Spinner Suitcase
This is a great bag for a recent grad and the dad that likes to jetset. It has a removable wrap-around garment bag to allow you to bring suits and other formal clothes without having them get all wrinkly in your bag. The main bag has a top pocket for your laptop (a must, right?) and a top compartment for things you need to get at easily. There's still quite a bit of room in the largest compartment for shoes, your toiletries and more. We took this bag to Europe and it was amazing. Super easy to wheel along and I knew all my belongings were safe, because it had the garment bag wrapped around it. It's a bit of an investment, but it's well made and awesome, so it'll get a lot of use. $299

Bluetooth Headphones
You know what's awesome? Having noise-cancelling headphones that are also wireless and can help you sleep on the plane and are adjustable to fit everyone's head. Get them a pair of Sol Republic Air Tracks and they will love you (even more than they already do). $119

Give the gift of experience and save them money with either a CityPASS or a Go Card from Smart Destinations. Both save up to 50% off a city's most popular attractions and saves them from waiting in the ticket line, which is always the worst. from $45

Awesome pants
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

Lojel Novigo Carry-on
I bet your dad's been traveling with the same old carry-on he's had for decades. Well, why not upgrade him to a fancy new bag with all the bells and whistles and basically a crush-proof shell? I love the Novigo with its locking wheels, shiny exterior, organized interior and smooth spinner wheels. You can read my review here$269.99

Ever hear horror stories of lost, scratched or crushed sunglasses? All that money spent on great glasses down the drain! I usually put mine on my head, but then I have to shove them in my purse when I'm at dinner, a movie or on a theme park ride. The last trip I took, I scratched a pair of my favorite sunnies. Sad face. Popticals make this problem non-existent, because your glasses slide closed and the earpieces fold up, then they fit right into a cute little case. I hope to bring you a review of these, because they are super awesome. $199+

Airline/Hotel 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. whatever you want to spend

What are you doing for the dad or grad in your life this year?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases help me bring you more useful blog posts and travel overviews.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rock Your Staycation - Part 1

The weather is warming up and summer is going to be here before you know it. maybe you have plans to travel some other time of the year, but still want to enjoy the summer months and don't have the funds to swing another trip, plan a staycation or two. Don't take a typical one though. Anyone can stay home and drive around all day and then come back and sleep in their own bed. Why not make it a real adventure and be creative with your planning?

budget staycation tips

Just because you aren't flying anywhere, doesn't mean you can't stay in a hotel or pack a suitcase. Staycations are boring, because you spend half your time in your own house (and the word is also annoying to hear and say). Chances are you haven't explored your whole city or even nearby cities. Pretend you have never visited where you live before and get excited about tourist attractions. You probably haven't been to them in 10 years, or ever, so they are new to you!

Stay in a town other than where you live 

Not up to hanging around your own town? Go a town or two over and explore that one! Stay in a budget hotel or a B&B and make an itinerary with all the touristy stuff there is to do there on it. Just that change of scenery can really help you relax. And even though you could drive there and do a day trip, why not make it a real vacation by putting some money on an affordable accommodation. Claim you're from out of town, (because hey! You are!) and ask "locals" where the best places to eat and visit are. Even if you've already been there, you might learn about some really awesome cafes, shops or parks that you never knew existed.

Get a hotel or vacation rental in the middle of the action

Come on! You haven't see everything in the city you live in, have you? There are still some things in Portland that I have yet to get to...and in Oregon. And I just found out that a couple hours away from here I can see a replica of Stonehenge! (Filing that away for future day-tripping, for sure.) If you live near a big city, chances are there is a fabulous downtown that is full of fun and weird stuff to do. I also bet dollars to doughnuts (yum!) that you don't live downtown, because it is wicked expensive. This is the time to cash in some miles or hotel points for free nights or look into gettng an apartment or condo rental in the middle of it all and set out each day to discover something new and awesome about where you live.

Look online for popular (and obscure) tourist attractions 

You already do this when you go on regular vacations. Do it the same way for your hometown and find crazy things you have never heard of before, do things you always say you will or just go be a cheesy tourist and do things that you tell other people are musts when they visit.

Eat at all those food carts you always say you will try, but then never do

Oh the joy of looking at the Twitter feed and seeing a new food cart has opened. You vow you will try it, and then 30 new carts have come and gone and you have yet to drive the 2 miles into town and find parking and eat maybe some of the most delicious stuff you will ever call food. Okay, maybe it will be mediocre or downright disgusting, but you'll never know unless you try it. All in one day you could try salted cod, deep fried cheeseburgers, ham and cheese crepes and Korean short ribs on a stick! (Of course, you'll have to adjust for what your town actually has.) Seriously though. Your city probably has a ton of really cool stuff. If not food carts, like Portland is famous for, then maybe you can hit up a bunch of greasy spoons or taco trucks. At least you'll get exercise walking to each one.

Bring your camera and take lots of pictures 

Don't take your city for granted. Just because you see that stuff every day, doesn't mean it's not cool. You'll be sad one day when you talk to someone about things and then realize you have no photos of it or you being there.

Want more ideas for taking the perfect staycation? Check out my staycation Pinterest board on things you can do to turn your backyard into an awesome getaway and what to do and where to go away from home. We use our backyard as a movie theater and are looking to make it even more luxurious for when friends and family come indulge.

Where did you spend your last staycation and what did you do?

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