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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review: 2-in-1 Convertible Crossbody Duffel from Travelon

Do you ever find yourself lacking in space when you return from a trip? I have several packable bags that just aren't all that practical if I'm traveling with my husband and need that space for actual necessities. As a carry-on packer, I use space strategically, and usually this doesn't leave me much space for souvenirs, but Travelon knows all about people like me. In fact, their staff are full of people like me who want double-duty products, and that's where the 2-in-1 Convertible Crossbody Duffel came from.

Many times when we travel, we pick up gifts for family for birthdays or Christmas, but then we have to find a place to put them on our way home, or ship them back. On bigger trips that take us out of the country, shipping stuff is just not feasible, but I also like to know where my belongings are. This new convertible duffel is both a duffel bag, but also a crossbody purse. 

I had the first variation of this and used it when we went to Colonial Williamsburg, but when it was packed, it was a bit unwieldy. Could be that I stuffed it too full. LOL! This new version is pretty perfect, in my opinion. It allows you to put the same amount of things in it, but in a taller, rather than longer, bag. It also has handles and a shoulder strap, which improves any bag in my eye.

When you don't need it as a duffel, you can zip the main bag inside, giving you a crossbody bag with a large zippered compartment and a smaller zip pocket on the outside, perfect for going out for the day and holding your necessities. Once your trip is over, you can unzip the main bag (still using the other part that you were using as a purse), stuff all your purchases into it, and it easily fits under the seat on the plane or in the overhead if you prefer. 

We took this bag with us to Las Vegas, because we always come back with more than we come with, usually from family, but not always. Not only did it hold as much as our main weekender, it was just as heavy duty. Eric was able to keep his battery back-up, phone cords, book, and all his pocket stuff that he took out at security in the front as well. And it has a pass-through strap to add it to your wheeled bag, which is a huge plus to all Travelon bags over a certain size.

The nylon body is durable, but lightweight, and the straps are wide and comfortable for your hands. You can also use the shoulder strap, which is adjustable, to carry it more comfortably if it's heavy. Because it doesn't have ridged structure, it really conforms to whatever you want to put in it. You could easily use it as a weekender or a gym bag as well. 

If you take this as your main bag, but don't want to carry a second bag as a purse, you don't have to. When you get to your destination, you can unpack it, zip the duffel inside, and go about your trip with just a purse. If you don't care about an anti-theft bag, this one is a perfect size and light to carry. The strap is multifunctional, meaning you can wear it any length, for whatever your wearing style is. I notice more people are wearing crossbody bags closer to their bodies with the strap shorter, and this works for that, but also as a traditional crossbody, or even a regular shoulder bag.

If you plan to bring along your credit cards and/or passport with you, make sure you're taking them in an RFID-blocking wallet or stop by your bank and ask for some of of their credit card sleeves, or purchase some online. This will keep your info safe while out and about and keep you looking sporty with your crossbody bag. 

I love the look of this bag all the way around. It's great for men and women, has a classic look, is water-resistant, and can be packed in a really small space if you aren't using it as a purse. This is going in our packed bag, then will come back with us on the plane ride home. It's basically the perfect carry-on, shopping, and back-up bag. If you're heading out for your trip with gifts, you can bring it in this, then pack it down when you arrive, or swap it with the gifts you received. 

More details:
Where can I buy it? On the Travelon website
How much do they cost? $28 - Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Black (shown) | Grey | Navy
Other specsPolyester ripstop, Size: PACKED: 10" x 7" x 2.5", Strap Drop Length: 17"-27.5"

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

Where would you take this bag?

Disclosure: Travelon sent me the 2-in-1 Convertible Crossbody Duffel for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

12 Affordable Fall Vacation Destinations

I’ve been reading your survey responses and I’m listening. Some of you wanted more newsletters and posts on what destinations are budget-friendly during the upcoming months. Well, this next newsletter will talk about long weekends, microcations, and budget winter destinations, so you can plan better. Since that’s covered, I’d love to talk about budget fall destinations, for those of you hoping to take a trip sooner, rather than later.

As you know, destinations have on, off and shoulder seasons, where on season is the most expensive and busiest, off season is the cheapest and least crowded, and shoulder being somewhere in between. We tend to travel in September and October, which is shoulder season for a lot of destinations. Because there are smaller crowds and kids are in school, the limited opening hours aren’t that annoying, since we aren’t waiting in endless lines. I also feel like it gives me a built-in excuse to go back early, relax and get some good sleep. Not just that, but then I have time to do laundry when necessary.

So, what destinations are budget-friendly in the coming season change? Let’s look!


If you’re looking for a getaway that doesn’t include the typical beach setting, set your sights on Cape Cod, where the rates are cheaper and the seafood is still amazing, and there aren’t crowds of tourists, because it’s not summer. September still has great weather (highs in the 70s), though if you’re hoping to leaf peep, you’ll need to go later in the year and pack some warmer clothing.

If you really want to get away from it all, Bali sees a drop in summer crowds. You might have to deal with a bit of rainy weather, but generally the rainy season doesn’t start until November. Explore temples and beaches and save at resorts. Pretty much, you’re just looking for a good deal on airfare.

Chicago is another destination that swarms with tourists in the summer, but once the kids go back to school and the temps drop, you’ll be free to visit without fighting crowds and easily explore attractions like the Field Museum, Navy Pier, and Millennium Park. You might even get a picture of yourself at The Bean without a thousand people in the shot. Just avoid the weekend of the Chicago Marathon.

Hoping to visit Europe, but can’t quite swing the cost? Go to Montreal instead. Not only are the flights faster (getting you there much quicker), but it has an interesting old-world and modern city mixed vibe that you won’t find anywhere else. Skyscrapers and cobblestone streets, beautiful parks, amazing museums and even an Underground City where you can escape the cold.

Oddly enough, September is when you will find SanFrancisco at its warmest, yet also its cheapest and less crowded. You’ll still want to bring a jacket, but this is your chance to really take in the city’s attractions like all the cool things at Golden Gate Park, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and also stuff yourself full of seafood.


New Orleans is great to visit all fall long, but it’s still very warm in September, so waiting until October to visit can make it much more comfortable weather-wise. The high temps are still in the 70s, so you can pack your shorts and t-shirts, making it easier than ever to travel with just a carry-on. You will be contending with hurricane season, but as long as you keep tabs on the weather, you should be fine.

The Bahamas aren’t teeming with tourists during the fall, since September and early October is hurricane season, and most people wait until winter sets in to get away  to somewhere warm, so if you wait until late October or even November, you’re going to miss a lot of the rain and the tourists, but you’ll still get great deals and a chance to wear your swimsuit, too.

If you’re interested in watching the leaves turn, and you love outdoorsy activities like hiking, lighthouses and waterfalls, then the Upper Peninsula in Michigan is right up your alley in early October. You’ll need to bundle up, but there’s so much to see here. When the cold gets to be too much for you, you can hang out in one of the area’s handful of casinos and awesome restaurants.

Orlando sees a drop in visitors, since most of them are coming for the theme parks and it’s hard to do that when your kids are in school. If you can get away during October or November, you’re still going to be able to soak in some warm weather, while also getting bargains on hotels and finding shorter lines for park rides. Be aware though, if you are relying on hotel shuttles, they will be few and far between for theme parks. I’d recommend renting a car or using Uber/Lyft.


Take a tropical vacation without the fear of hurricanes in Aruba, Bonaire, or Curaçao (also known as the ABC Islands). You may still get rain, but you’ll also find temps in the 80s. Hit up Aruba and Curaçao for resorts, casinos and architecture, and Bonaire if you’re into scuba diving and snorkeling.

Instead of the arid landscape of Aruba, hit up Barbados during this time for a more lush, green escape. You’ll face short bursts of showers, but also cheap hotel rates, British-Caribbean culture fusion, and awesome tropical rum drinks.

If you can handle the cold weather, Washington, DC can be an excellent fall getaway. There are so many free museums and landmarks to break from the chill, plus there are tons of delicious restaurants where you can spend the money you’re saving on activities.

If you're planing a budget getaway, where are looking to go?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The 411 On Overbooked Flights

The holidays are coming and usually that means more packed flights and lots of drama from some passengers who think it's all about them. What this means for you is a good chance of getting bumped or the chance to volunteer to get on the next available flight. Why would you do this? To get a free flight, of course. 

Everyone has heard the term “bumped”. If you haven’t – or if you have and are not sure what it means – it is the term given to a person who has the misfortune to get to the airport too late (read: after almost all the other passengers) to check in for their overbooked flight and loses their seat. They are “bumped” from the flight. With the amount of overall flights being reduced, there are now more people who want to fly on those that are available most days. 

There are a certain number of no-shows or ticketed passengers that miss their flights each day. The airlines have always planned for this, but in these tough economic times they also want to fill their seats on the limited flights they have, so they overbook. (This was always a common thing on their most popular flights before the recession.) Sometimes everyone shows up and that leaves around 3-5 people without an actual seat. The airlines will rebook them on the next available flight, but will also always ask if others are willing to be bumped instead. This is how you get comped free travel/hotel/food.

Tip: Ask for a credit voucher instead of a free flight voucher. This works like a gift certificate for the airline and allows you more freedom when booking your flight with it (i.e. you can use it for international airfare if you wish or to buy more than one cheap ticket).

When you get to the gate, you will normally see on the monitor at the check-in desk if there is a list of passengers. These people are already on the “waiting” list. They may have checked in after everyone else or were able to be put on stand-by. If someone else doesn’t show up, or someone gives up their seat willingly, they get to board that flight. If you aren’t in a hurry to get to your destination, then maybe you wouldn’t mind volunteering to hang out until the next flight. The more people on the list, the more willing the airline will be to work with you in giving up your seat. Go up to the airline employee and ask if they need volunteers to be bumped. If so, ask what you will be compensated. Usually, because you have been helpful and friendly (this is certainly key in any customer/customer service conversation), they will give you a voucher for a free flight or credit to use at a later date. You’ll, of course, not have to pay extra for being rebooked on a new flight.

This is what everyone seems to look like during holiday travel
Depending on how long of a wait it will be until your next flight, you might also be able to negotiate a free hotel room and/or dining vouchers for the airport while you hang around and wait for the next flight to come in. While you end up with a free flight (and probably more), the airline doesn’t really lose any money by giving you these things in exchange for your seat. They will be flying that future flight anyway and your seat was already paid for by the passenger who will be filling your seat when they purposely oversold the flight. You get all the perks for just being nice (even if it was selfish) and you might have made someone’s day by letting them take your place. This is a great way to be able to stretch your dollars and be able to vacation more throughout the year. You’ll also get more frequent flyer miles added to your account (if you are compensated with a voucher for a dollar figure and not a free flight)!

Tip: If the airline pays for you to stay in a hotel overnight, they must also pay for your transportation to that accommodation.

Want to avoid getting bumped? Make sure you get to the airport early instead of the last minute. It just takes that one person to get there before you for the flight to be full. I always suggest getting to the airport at least one hour early for domestic and at least two hours early for international. Of course, I get excited for any travel I do and want to allow time for anything that might delay me (traffic, long security lines, etc.), so we tend to get to the airport two hours ahead of any flight. We use the extra time to browse shops, watch people and eat. It’s always nice to be able to sit down and have a decent meal, instead of grabbing fast food right before you get on the flight. It gives you time to relax if you stress right before you travel. It also boosts your energy and helps reduce jet lag. Make sure you drink lots of water, too. I always buy a big bottle of water after security to take with me on the flight, since I am often thirsty, flying dehydrates you and I don’t always want to wait 45 minutes to an hour before they bring around the drink cart.

Tip: Want to finally get into the fancy schmancy airline lounge? Ask for a pass to use it if you’re bumped and have to wait a few extra hours.

More tips on getting “bumped”:
  • If you want to get bumped, it helps to get to the airport early as well. Get your name on the list of volunteers before anyone else.
  • Book on a flight that is likely to be overbooked (holidays, afternoon flights, early evening flights, last flight of the day, red eye, etc.)
  • Be polite. Don’t demand higher compensation than what they are offering you. If you know they are desperate, you can use it to your advantage, but negotiate in a polite manner.
  • Know the flight schedule. This can be just as useful to you and your travel plans as it is to the airline employee rebooking you.
  • Make sure you’re booking on an airline that does overbook flights. Some airlines do not. (Of course, this information is also helpful in not getting bumped.)
  • Be willing to fly on a different airline or a different route. This makes it easier to rebook you as well.
  • Pack light. While this doesn’t really help you to get booked, it does ensure that you keep all your belongings with you and the airline doesn’t have to figure out how to reroute your bags in addition to you (and your travel companions).
  • Fly through busy airports when possible. Obviously, these airports have more passengers flying everyday and have more overbooked flights than smaller airports.

I haven't had the chance to get bumped yet, but I am open to it. If it can help me budget a trip for cheaper the next time I travel, then it’s totally worth it. What about you? Have you ever purposely volunteered to be “bumped” in order to receive free travel?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Your Best Travel Destination According to the Zodiac

Everyone has a travel style, and your personality can totally mesh with that and create a fantastic and perfect vacation destination for you. Even if you don't believe in horoscopes and astrology, you have to admit that sometimes they're correct. Orbitz has rounded up travel styles and your perfect trip based on your astrological sign.

I'm a Sagittarius, and I adore a good road trip. I also like a big, once-in-a-lifetime trip. I'm lucky to have gone on several trips that some people will only dream of or be able to go on once. This year will see me on one of those trips to Scotland and England. 

My hubs is a Gemini and likes anywhere he can chill out, but also loves new places that are beautiful and Ecuador was actually one of our best trips, while also being one of our most aggravating. We learned a lot about travel and ourselves, and we'll definitely go back at some point. It's gorgeous, outdoorsy, historical, and an amazing place for travelers on a budget (and even those not on one). 

Do you think your ideal vacation destination based on your astrological sign is accurate for you? 

Monday, August 19, 2019

6 Ways To Avoid Losing Touch With Loved Ones On Your Travels

If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your new adventure and forget about friends and family. However, staying in touch with your loved ones while you travel is pretty easy - plus things can change quickly back home, and your loved ones will likely want to hear all about your adventures and live vicariously through you. Below, you’ll find 6 ways to avoid losing touch with loved ones on your travels:

1. Send Postcards

It’s always fun to receive a postcard in the post, so why not send a postcard back home whenever you visit somewhere new? They probably aren't the best way to keep everybody super informed, but they are fun to send and receive.

2. Get A Phone Especially For Travel

If you’re traveling for an extended period, it’s probably a good idea to get a phone especially for travel. Get a sim card that you can easily top up as you go and use that to stay in touch with the people you love. You probably won’t be spending too much time using your current contract while you travel, so it makes no sense for you to pay a bigger chunk of money each month than you need. Only pay for what you really need when you get a phone especially for travel. If you get a cheaper phone, you won’t be so tempted to spend ages living your life through a screen, either! 

3. Set Up A Special Email Address

Having a special email address means you’ll have somewhere all of your travel correspondence is documented. You’ll have emails to and from your friends and family, and even after you get home you can look back on them and smile as you reminisce about your trip. Take a look at how to set up an iCloud email login and you’ll have an easy time of doing this. 

4. Use Skype

Skype will help you if you’re feeling homesick, as you get to see the faces of your loved ones and interact that way. It can be better than a phone call, especially since you can Skype multiple people at once and have a group catch up! 

5. Start A Blog

How about starting a blog? It may take time, but a travel blog can become profitable. You may be offered free trips and accommodation in exchange for a post, although you’ll need to be consistent. At the very least, you’ll have an online diary of your adventures that you can read through again and again. You might even help others gather the strength to travel too! 

6. Create A Whatsapp Group 

A whatsapp group is a quick and easy way to stay in touch providing you have an internet connection. Add all of your family to one group and your friends to another, and before you know it, it’ll feel like you never left! This is a great way to stay in the loop while you’re away. 
I'd also like to suggest Voxer as an app that you can use for group and individual convos. It's free an easy, plus it has a time stamp for when you actually sent the message, not when it went through, and you can see where a message was sent by clicking on it and looking at the map. I use this when I'm traveling solo in the states as well, just so everyone knows where I am.
How do you stay in touch with your family and friends when you travel?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Packing Light for Big Impact

I am a believer in packing light. I have packed all sorts of ways and I've decided that packing less leaves me less stressed, I have less to carry and fewer things to deal with. I almost never come home with items that were never worn, because I pack carefully and with intention, so everything goes with everything else and I can mix and match each piece I bring along.

If you are worried that not packing outfits per day and matching shoes for each one is going to be your downfall, think of how much happier you'll be when you aren't lugging that 58 lb bag that you also have to check and waste $25+ each way on. I like making my life easier and only having a handful of items in my bag definitely makes it simple to find something to wear each morning and gets me out of the door faster. I make a list before I start packing of what I will need and then choose a few of my favorite pieces and go from there.

fall travel wardrobe

We live in Oregon, so we tend to own quite a bit of Columbia clothing. It's long-lasting, feels great and is perfect for packing, because it's lightweight and moisture-wicking. I have several key pieces that work for most climates. 

Columbia can be spendy, but I recommend buying on sale. You may also want to check out REI, Backcountry, ExOfficio, Lucy (for women) or Anatomie (also for women). Items made with soy or bamboo are great for warmer climates, because they are odor resistant. You might also like linen for the breathability. There are lots of great travel brands out there and many don't even look like they are, so you don't stick out as a tourist, but are still comfortable in the heat (or the cold, depending on when you travel).

I also am a layer-er. I always travel with a scarf/wrap a lightweight jacket and a cardigan or two. This way I'm covered if it gets cooler at our destination and for the chills on the plane. It may seem silly, but on the plane I wear a pair of stretchy jeans, comfortable slip-on shoes, a t-shirt, a cardigan and a scarf. If it gets warm, I can shed some layers, but if it's cold, I'm set. I have this awesome HappyLuxe wrap that I can also use as a blanket. In fact, I can wear it as a scarf while also covering my lap if my legs are cold.

Layering also gives you the ability to wear part of your travel outfit at your destination, so I always dress with that in mind. I work with three bottoms and four-five tops total. When they all go together, you have 12-15 different outfits. You can see how I've made different looks with each of these tops and bottom combinations.

I usually toss in an easy dress  that can work for day and night, then go with just two pair of shoes. Both should be great for walking and at least one of them should work for your dress. These are the shoes I took on our trip to New Orleans: a pair of ballet flats and a pair of walking sandals. Both pair went with everything I packed, so I mixed it up each day depending on how I was feeling. 

summer travel wardrobe

I try not to pack shoes that might be too constrictive, because then if my feet swell, I'm SOL and uncomfortable. Of course, I bring a pair of compression socks to wear while I'm hanging out in my room, but that doesn't do me any good if it's hot and my shoes don't work with socks.

Throw some accessories in your bag to give you some other options. This sunhat works for when I'm somewhere with a lot of sun and I'd like to keep my face from turning into a lobster (even with sunscreen this can happen pretty easily). A good piece of jewelry can literally turn a day dress into a nighttime one, especially if it's a cute little black dress, which is what I take with me everywhere. It's a wrap dress my Lucy Activewear, so it's breathable and sporty feeling, but can be dressed up a bit for a nice dinner. Easy! 

Now all your clothes fit in a carry-on. You know where all your things are. You don't have to wait at the carousel for your luggage. You don't have to pay baggage fees. You don't have to break your back trying to get your bag up stairs. Now, you just need to get working on making your toiletries lighter.

What are your biggest issues with packing light?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What's In My Carry-On (UK Edition)

Everyone who knows me jokes about how early I pack. I have panic dreams about traveling with two mismatched shoes, a pair of shorts (in the winter) a pajama top and no money or phone chargers. I will pack a month - sometimes more - before I leave, even with a packing list.

Well, this works in your favor, because as I pack, I also take pics along the way. I pack a bit differently when I go on am overseas trip than I do if I'm, say, going to Vegas. I have enough experience to know what I definitely need and what can be bought (or what can, but will cost a stupid amount of money). So, let's take a look at what's going on my carry-on personal item, because clothes are a whole different ball of wax and a post of their own. I'll also be sharing these things on Instagram, but going into more depth here.


I never go anywhere without snacks. Not on the plane. Not in the car. Not to a theme park. Not to work. Not to the store. You never know when hunger can strike and I'm a demon when I get hungry, so snacks galore. You'd look in my purse and think I had kids. I do not.

Some of my favorite things I'll be bringing along: (huckleberry) banana bread, beet chips, chocolate covered espresso beans, Wheat Thins, granola bars, salami, grapes, Laughing Cow and Babybel cheese. I have a cute thermos for the cold things and I have an expandable food container for the big stuff, and Stasher bags for chips and beans. All of these can be reused on my trip and on my return home, either for more snacks or for loose items that I don't want broken.


I can't travel without my laptop. I use it to keep up on emails, upload pics, write posts and look up directions.


No matter how you prepare, the plane is never what you expect. It's either too hot or too cold and there's never enough legroom. I lawyer on the plane and generally wear a thin t-shirt, possibly a long-sleeve top over that, and a cardigan. That way I'm prepared for everything.


Now, I'm probably not going to wear my coat on the plane, unless it's really cold, but they always take up too much of my large carry-on, do I either stuff it next to me in my seat or, probably in this case, put it under my laptop for extra padding. 

Please, whatever you do, don't use up extra bin space with your big puffy coat until everyone has put their bags away. I will call you out and/or smash it up there with my bag for you being inconsiderate.

Neck pillow

Now, I know everyone is different, as I've been told that my choice of neck pillow is "the worst" and "nobody should ever buy it", but my opinion is my opinion, just as they are entitled to theirs. Eric and I adore the FaceCradle and FaceCradle Lite, because it doesn't go around your neck in the traditional sense. It hangs on the seat back behind you and then you adjust it so it's comfortable for you to just lean forward into it. This alleviates neck pain and also back pain. It's really good for taller people as well, because leaning forward gives you a bit more space. 

If this doesn't sound like the neck pillow for you, I highly suggest the Cabeau Evolution Cool - which is made of memory foam and a mesh overlay to avoid sweating - or the Hoodie Pillow - which is more affordable and also has a soft hoodie that can cover your eyes to block out light.

Water bottle

I like to stay hydrated, but those little cups they give you on the plane are just that. Little. I bring along a reusable insulated thermos that I fill with cold water before we board the plane and then it stays cold until we arrive at our destination or until it's empty. Whichever comes first. When I get to my destination, I use it for coffee and water to save money while out and about.

iPad mini

I love my Mini. It has enough juice to last hours and hours, plus I can play games, watch movies/shows, read, listen to podcasts and make notes. It's lightweight, so it doesn't take up that much room, and it fits in my purse. If you don't bring along a laptop, you can use it to get on the internet too, so you can check/send email, look up directions, etc.

Phone charger

I use my phone a lot when I travel, even on the plane, because I have a few games on there I like and I enjoy bogging on it sometimes. Most long-haul flights are on planes that have outlets in the seats for your electronics, so I can make sure it's charged before we arrive.

Battery backup

For flights that don't have outlets, I bring along my battery backup. Not just for the plane, but also when I get to my destination, because running out of power sucks.

This is not the entire list of things I'll be packing, but I'll definitely be posting a series of items that can be found in my bag while I'm traveling. Also, please follow me on Instagram for more posts like this one. 

What are your go-to items for long flights (or even short ones)?

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through them, I may be compensated + I will be grateful for your support of my blog.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Shereen Travels Cheap Turns 9

My little blog is turning NINE years old today! I can't believe it's been that long, and also it feels much longer at the same time. As always, I like to reflect on the past year and the coming year (and beyond).

Photo by Vladas Kalnys on Unsplash
This past year has been a pretty good one. We took a wonderful, history-filled trip to Philadelphia and a short trip to Vegas this summer. I hit up Vegas for the Travel Goods Show earlier this year and this time last year I was on a girls' trip to Los Angeles. So, let's look at this coming year:

September 2019 will see us in the UK. We'll be headed to Edinburgh for a family wedding, where I will also be working with Visit Scotland to bring you all the awesome stuff in the city on my 4 days not spent doing family stuff (and possibly while doing family stuff, like going falconing at a castle!). I'll also be working with The Cauldron Edinburgh to show you the awesomeness that is the literal magic of creating cocktails with a wand. This place originated in London and has been growing fairly quickly. The Edinburgh location just opened last month. 

After that, we'll jump on a plane for a return trip to London, where we have a schedule packed with free activities, but I'll also be working with London Pass to show you how it can save you money on your trip, while also allowing you to do more than you thought. 

Next year I'll be headed to the Travel Goods Show in New Orleans in March, which I'm super excited about. My mom will join me on the non-work part of that trip, so I hope to show her some of the cool places we hit up last time, and also see some other places as well. 

July we will make our annual return to Vegas for NBA Summer League and for me to do some solo travel around the city to explore new places that I haven't had the chance to see yet.

Beyond this next year, here's what I have planned:

September 2020 we're returning to Orlando for a week and a half to hit up the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and Universal to return to Hogwarts. My friend, Melisa, who joined me in LA last year has plans to come out and meet us.

December 2020 might see me on a girls' trip to NYC, though that really depends on timing and finances. We'll cross our fingers and hope for the best. It'll be short and sweet if we can swing it. My friend will be there for a conference and her daughter and I will entertain ourselves doing touristy things while she's doing that.

In February/March 2021 my mom and I will be in Vegas again for the Travel Goods Show, and food, because food is awesome. And then in July 2021, Eric and I will be back.

Fall 2021 we're planning a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. Past that we have a list of want-to-visit places:

Minneapolis St Paul
Toronto, ON
Branson, MO
Tokyo - this is our ten-year destination, so 2029!

I'm really looking forward to a great, new destination each year, while also planning a few visits to Disney parks probably, because we can't really stay away. 

Are there places you've been or are looking forward to going that you think I should put on my list? 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Anti-Theft LockDown Bag from Travelon

Summer is still happening and there are probably a lot of you with trips planned to the beach or places with pools. Places where you're likely to bring stuff you need (like car keys, your phone, and credit cards), and also want to go swimming and have to leave that stuff so it doesn't get wet. If you're like me, you worry about things even when they are hidden and you're 5 feet away. 

Travelon has designed their LockDown bags for your travels, whether they take you to the beach, the pool, a hostel or your kid's soccer game. These slash-proof bags let you store your phone, your wallet, and any other valuables you need to bring with you. We often find ourselves in these situations and could really use a bag like this.

The LockDown is easy to use and has a a wide, reinforced strap that can wrap around a beach chair, a pole, a bed headboard...basically anything that is fixed and can't be run away with. Not only does this mean it's secure, but knowing that it will take extra work to steal, thieves look for easier targets. 

We stay in a lot of rentals, and generally bring valuable items with us that we don't always take with us each day we go out. Considering at least a few other people have keys to get in, I guess not all of these rentals are super secure, meaning I could use this bag to stash things like extra cash, passports, and an emergency credit card. This could also go for hotels where people are coming in to clean the room or make repairs. Perhaps you like to stay in hostels to save money or you live in a dorm with roommates. 

Have you ever been traveling and come across a cool activity, like ice skating, where you can't take your shoes or bags? Well, this bag can save you from having to miss out on these cool things or having to stuff your pockets full of things that are cumbersome and bulky. Whatever your situation, you can totally find a great use for this LockDown bag. 

The large size LockDown can hold quite a bit more than you expect. I put a pair of sunglasses, my hotel key, a bottle of sunscreen a phone and some cash in it and probably could have fit another phone and probably my go husband's wallet. No more never taking your eyes off your beach chair or making someone stay behind to watch your stuff. You don't have to trust others, just Travelon's ability to make a great, anti-theft bag. 

Your LockDown comes with a solid brass combination lock that's customizable to whatever 4-digit number you want. It's pretty hefty, so you know it'll keep your items safe. Nobody's going to spend time trying to come up with the combination when they can grab the unattended and uncovered items off the neighboring blanket. 

A couple of tips: You can't stuff this bag to the brim with things, because you are going to cinch the top closed and then use the strap to wrap around a thing. Pull the strap until you see the grommets and then put the lock through that and the end o-ring. It cinches closed very tightly, so you can't get anything in or out of the bag.

This bag is not waterproof, so if you are going to take it to the beach or the pool and are using it for things you don't want to get wet, you may want to bring along a zip-top bag for those things and then put them inside. I DID set it on a wet surface with my things inside, and though the bag was wet, the items were dry, but it wasn't a prolonged contact, so I would definitely think ahead. 

There are tons of reasons to need a LockDown bag from Travelon, and you'll never regret having one when you do need it. If you aren't sure which size to get, I definitely suggest getting the larger one, especially if you travel as a couple or have kids. Because it cinches, you're probably only going to be able to fill it 2/3 full. 

More details:
Where can I buy it? On the Travelon website
How much do they cost? $58 (large) - Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Gray (shown)
Other specs: one-piece construction made of SafeTex, 9.25" x 13"

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