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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Review: Travelon's Anti-Theft Metro Small Crossbody

By now you know what a bag lady I am. I have different bags for different trips, because sometimes I need a bigger or smaller one for my activities and now I've got the perfect bag for Las Vegas: The Anti-Theft Metro Small Crossbody from Travelon is both the ideal size, but it's also chic and classic looking. I can go straight from the airport to The Strip. Let's check it out!

Right off the bat, the new Metro collection spoke to me, with it's two-tone material, giving it a classy, yet sort of sporty look. The top looks like waterproof vinyl and then you have a heathered material on the front. Both are actually a water- and stain-resistant polyester, which makes it a great bag for my jaunts around rainy Portland, too.

This bag is more than just great looking. It's not going to stand out in the crowd as a traveler's bag, so you won't be pegged as a tourist when you're in a crowded area with lurking pickpockets. Even if they do decide you are one to rob, they're going to be pretty disappointed, since this bag has two locking compartments and a locking clip on the strap that allows you attach your bag to a chair, table or other immovable object when chilling or eating.

The strap is also fully adjustable, so you can fix it for your body. A man or woman can carry this. It's also slash-proof, along with the body of the bag. Anyone wanting to steal this from you will have to drag you along with it. Nobody's going to go through that much trouble for whatever you have in here.

The front compartment is a patch pocket with a zipper that only opens along the top and three quarters of one side. You might think this is going to be awkward, but it's not. The best part about this is that your compartment can't flop open and spill everything out on the ground. I've totally had that happen to me before. This compartment has RFID-blocking technology for your credit cards and your passport (in fact, two passports can fit in this slip pocket, in case you're traveling with another person and you want everything in one place. 

There's a second large slip pocket here, too. I used it for my phone, but you can use it for sunglasses or other things you need to keep secure. 

There's a large zipper pocket behind this larger compartment. It's pretty deep, and had more than enough room for my large back-up battery (and then some). I like the chunky zipper on here. It gives The bag extra personality and fits with the different material feel.

The back of the bag has a large slip pocket that can throw your maps or guidebooks in. It fit my Kindle Fire, and will fit my iPad mini for the plane. If you use a point and shoot camera on your trips, this is a perfect place to stash it, since it's right up against your body. I'd also use this for a scarf/wrap, when I need a little extra coverage.

Let's talk about the main compartment. It's deceiving, because it's much larger than you expect with the slim silhouette of this bag. I threw some snacks, my coin purse, a packet of tissues and a bottle of hand sanitizer. 

This compartment has another zipper pocket for organization, where I'd keep my kip balm and other necessities. It's pretty deep as well. 

Here are all the things I was able to get in this purse and still had room left for items I might have forgotten or things I pick up along the way. The red bag is a super small packable reusable bag, which I take along with me for groceries and other purchases. 

I'll be taking this bag with me on my week-long trip to Vegas, so you'll be seeing a log of photos of me carrying it around while sightseeing, eating and getting in my million steps along the way. You will probably see it featured in my pics of Scotland as well. It's not too big and it's not too small, which is exactly what I need in a travel bag.

It's very comfortable to carry and you're going to find it the perfect companion for your travels. it gives you peace of mind, has enough room for all your necessities without being bulky, plus the crossbody strap allows you to have your hands free for taking pictures, browsing at the farmer's market, and wrangling the kids. 

More details:
Where can I buy these totes? On the Travelon website
How much do they cost? $63 - Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Black | Gray (shown) | Navy
Other specs9.75" x 10.75" x 2", Strap Length: 52.5", Strap Drop Length: 14"-19", polyester fabric 

Show Travelon the love by following them on their social media channels: 

Where would you take this bag on your travels?

Disclosure: Travelon sent me the Anti-Theft Metro Small Crossbody for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Traveling Is Good For You

It's true! Traveling is good for you and your health. It makes us happier and more tolerant. It broadens our minds and teaches us new things. It helps us bond with others and make lasting memories. Even the process of planning a trip is good for us. Want to know more? Check out this infographic that will give you many, many reasons to start planning your next trip now.

photo credit

Where will you be going on your next trip?

Does A Cruise Vacation Float Your Boat?

Ah, a cruise. Is there anything as polarizing as a vacation on a giant cruise liner? When it comes to travel, the answer is almost definitely not. You’ll go on a solo trip, head to dangerous and exotic places, but you’ll stop short at bordering a glorified shed on water. 

Sadly, the perception of a cruise vacation is enough to put most people off booking one, and you might find it enjoyable. You never know whether you will like something until you try it and scratch it from the list. With that in mind, the logical option is to weigh up the pros and cons and come to an informed decision, something most of us don’t do when it comes to travel!

To help, here is a selection of the pros and cons. After that, it’s up to you to make a decision.

Pros of Cruise Holiday

1. City Sampling 

Although you might be cooped up on a ship for a while, there are ample opportunities to get off the boat and explore. A typical cruise stops off at a variety of towns, cities and countries on the route and organizes transport to and from the port. Once in the hub of the action, you can discover what the place has to offer before heading back for dinner and drinks. For those that love to sample different cultures and places, this is the perfect type of vacation. Just be sure to book a package that includes sights which you find interesting.

2. Destination Choice

And, it’s not as if you’ll find it tough to book a cruise that isn’t in line with your needs and wants. As a general rule, there are hundreds if not thousands of itineraries regarding ships and their operators. Some might look the same, but delve into the route and you’ll find small and significant changes which could make or break your getaway. Start by choosing the vicinity, such as the Caribbean or Scandinavia, and tailor it until it’s a fine-tuned schedule that covers all the bases. It takes some thorough research yet it’s worth it when you experience the holiday of a lifetime.

3. Affordable Upgrade 

We all want to seat in a first-class seat 35,000ft in the air or stay in a suite at the Four Seasons, but it isn’t feasible. The sheer cost is too much to spend on a single flight or hotel and so most of us opt for the middle option. If you’re sick and tired or mediocre opulence, a cruise liner is the ultimate choice. Why? It’s because the difference between the middle of the road and first-class isn’t much money-wise. A business-class cabin is a couple of extra bucks but it comes with all the amenities you would expect from a sea view to premium dining. There might even be a free bar to subsidize the costs even more. 

4. Unpacking

Packing and unpacking is the bane of every traveler’s life. You’ve just taken everything out of your case only to find it has to go back in again and it’s annoying. A cruise is different because you’ll stay in the same bed every night for at least a week. So, there is less packing and that makes it feel more like home; it certainly removes the stress. What’s the difference between this and a hotel? In a hotel, you’re in the same place for seven days and don’t get to explore as many places.

Cons of Cruise Holiday

Of course, it’s not all picnics and rainbows as the following will show.

1. Safety 

It’s worth pointing out that cruises aren’t inherently dangerous. Around 20 million people board these ships every year according to The Travel, and only 16 have died up to 2011. Still, there is cause for concern when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, as the Titanic proved. Not only that, but the Hofmann Law Firm points out it’s one of the most dangerous professions, and, if it’s risky for the workers, it’s the same for the passengers. It is always worth checking out the safety features and considering your well being.

2. Port Time

No, this isn’t a reference to the alcoholic beverage! As pointed out previously, cruise ships dock in lots of ports around the world for their guests; however, it still might not be enough. Travelers who like to spend time exploring a place will hate the fact that they are on a timer. Miss it and you will have to watch as your ride sails off into the sunset. If you’re the opposite of a city sampler, you will prefer organizing an adventure and setting your deadlines to avoid leaving frustrated.

3. Prices

The major problem is the price of amenities onboard the boat. The company in charge of the liner understands one thing: you’ve got nowhere to go. As a result, they can increase their prices for the likes of food and drink – the staples – and charge a small fortune. And, if you try to bypass it by bringing your own, they take it off you because it’s banned. Even if you get it through, you’ll have to spend the night running back and forth to the room to fill up your cup which is tiresome.

4. Amenities

Some of the things you’re accustomed to aren’t available onboard or are sub par. An internet connection is a perfect example. While it encourages you to socialize or unwind with a book, you might need wifi to keep in contact with the family. Plus, what if there’s an emergency – how will they get in touch? You can use mobile data but there’s an extra charge when you leave land so it could break the bank. Everybody wants to enjoy their vacation by switching off, but being off the grid isn’t always healthy.

It’s time to decide if the ship sails. So, do you say yay or nay to the idea of a cruise vacation?

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


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.


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.


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!
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