Let's Connect!


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Domestic Travel and Transportation During the Pandemic

Although the pandemic is still active across the globe, travel within one’s own country is largely unrestricted and therefore small family vacations or short breaks are possible. But no matter with whom you travel and from where, you need to be aware that restrictions and procedures are still largely in place across many nations and even intercity or interstate travel isn’t advised by governments, although no one will stop you. However, international travel is currently heavily regulated.

o matter with whom you travel and from where, you need to be aware that restrictions and procedures are still largely in place across many nations.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

In the United States, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises not to travel anywhere within the country unless you and your party are fully vaccinated. They also advise regular testing before and during travel for the unvaccinated. In addition, social distancing measures such as mask-wearing and the two-meter rule are highly regulated in all public settings and enclosed spaces.

Transportation Options Might be Limited

The potential for Covid-19 transmission means that many businesses, especially those that rely on public numbers, aren’t operating at full capacity. Establishments such as theme parks, cinemas, and restaurants are good examples of this but travel-related businesses are also affected.

Coach operators, bus rentals, passenger trains, and airlines are excellent domestic transportation options. However, many of these businesses might not be as accessible as you are used to. In many nations, government guidelines and laws are forcing these types of businesses to operate at limited capacity and to strictly enforce Covid safety. You need to stay patient and check all local transportation options when planning to travel.

Courtesy is a Must

When traveling via public systems such as planes, trains, and coaches, the restrictions and limited capacity can become somewhat frustrating and/or stressful. However, we should all remember that we are in this together and nobody, especially the travel employees, is to blame. 2020 saw an increase in air rage incidents causing the FAA to hand out more fines than before and increase the amount.

Even though international air travel is restricted, in comparison the rates of incidents are higher in ratio when compared with how many flights are taking place. While some fines of this nature are issued in relation to mentally unstable or criminal individuals, during 2020 and into 2021 many have been in relation to people being asked to follow Covid rules such as mask-wearing, staying apart a certain distance, and using antibacterial products. By asking for these simple rules to be followed, travel employees are simply doing their job and trying to keep everyone safe.

Stay Up-to-Date with Covid Policies

As recent incidents have shown, such as the UK’s removal of certain countries from their “Green List” without prior warning, Covid-19-related policies and procedures can change at the drop of a hat. For this reason alone you should try to stay on top of national and local Coronavirus policies as you travel domestically from city to city or state to state.

Various health department websites for each state, local area, or tribe (United States) will provide the most recent news concerning Covid-19 policies. While many are likely to be the same, some differences are possible and are usually reflected by Covid-19 infection rates in each region. Where it is higher, it is likely that strict measures are imposed and the opposite is likely to be true for lower infected areas.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

What to Know About International Travel During the Pandemic

Just because America and a few other places are doing super well right now in regards to Covid, we may get complacent thinking this is the norm everywhere. I have been putting off flying domestically, because the safety protocols don't really meet my specifications right now and I don't really trust strangers in an enclosed space, making me uncomfortable in an airplane despite being fully vaccinated. Since international travel involves Covid testing for the most part, I would be more likely to travel out of the country.

Just because America is doing well in regards to Covid, know there should be some things to think about if you're planning an international trip.

If you're like me, know there should be some things to think about if you're planning an international trip soon:

Know the numbers

Just because the U.S. has fairly good and rising number of vaccinated folx, it doesn't mean other countries are doing as well. Many places still can't get vaccinated and there are governments that aren't making the ones they have available as widely as they could/should. Look at the vaccination percentages and also the Covid numbers. Both are really important to know in order to feel safe in any given place. You also should keep in mind that even if you are okay with taking the chance, there are variants out there that you could still contract, and you could also unknowingly spread Covid to other people who may have been okay before. 

What if you get stranded

There's still a chance that Covid numbers boom wherever you go, so have a plan. What if they go back into lockdown and you're stranded there? Can you afford to get stuck in another country? Will your insurance cover you? Is there a way for you to get home if the country closes? What if you get sick with Covid and have to go to a foreign hospital? you may be stuck there for weeks or months while you recover. You may be putting undue strain on an already strained medical system. Do some research and think about how you might be affected if the worst happens. 

Follow the rules

Even if you're fully vaccinated (which should be a given if you're traveling internationally) that doesn't make you immune to rules. Wear your mask on the plane whenever you aren't eating or drinking. Don't pretend you are just so you don't have to wear it. If a place requires you to get tested or present your vaccination card, remember that it's not just about you and places are trying to keep their own people/guests/customers safe and healthy. Don't make their lives harder. If they request you wear a mask, even outside, either do it or go elsewhere. Pitching a fit isn't helpful to anyone and just makes you look like a jerk. If you don't like the rules, that's on you.

Be Kind

I know this may sound like a "duh" suggestion for you, but "air rage" has dramatically increased with the pandemic. Remember that everyone's in the same boat and travel can be stressful. You don't know what people are going through, so try to give them some slack. I try to remember this even when not traveling, but especially when dealing with those in the hospitality industry, flight crews, and customer service. They're stuck there doing their jobs and you making it harder just adds more stress they don't need. If something goes wrong, give them a chance to fix it before getting upset. Things happen and sometimes mistakes are unavoidable. What matters is how they're handled once it's brought to their attention.

Tip Better

In places where tipping is normal, I suggest tipping better than you usually do. This pandemic has been hard on a lot of people and people are struggling, trying to make up for the year plus of lost income. Remember that when you go out to eat, use Uber or a cab, go on a tour, or use other services. I even tip more than usual when I visit food trucks. In fact, I feel really good about helping people so much that I plan to continue doing so even after the pandemic is over. Even at home I have a snack/sanitizer/water bin in front of my house for delivery drivers and mail carriers. They've been doing a lot more with people being stuck at home and don't always have time to stop for snacks or water. It all goes back to being kind to people and realizing we are privileged to even be traveling during this time. 

If you aren't planning to travel out of the country, but still want to go somewhere - because we all do - check out my list of great domestic destinations. If you also aren't into flying right now, a road trip can be really fun and indulgent. Check out my tips on how to make your road trips better, and packing tips for your trip.

Are you planning to travel this year?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

LGBT-Friendly Travel Brands

Happy Pride Month, you guys! I've been doing my best to be an ally and get some info out about great travel destinations, and now I'd love to talk about some awesome travel brands that have the LGBT community covered by contributing to great organizations, sponsoring Pride events, and making sure their companies are both inclusive and diverse, creating a safe space for all people, no matter their sexual orientation, identity, and gender. 

Let's talk about some awesome travel brands that have the LGBT community covered by inclusive and diverse, creating a safe space for all people, no matter their sexual orientation, identity, and gender.
photo credit

This is by far not a complete list, but these are some of the most outstanding brands when it comes to inclusivity:


From their inclusive television commercials to their destination overviews for gay and lesbian travels, they offer the chance to read up and then book right on the site.
Need a one-stop shop for LGBT-friendly hotels, resorts, destinations and events? Orbitz offers up their own guides to make your vacation the best ever.


A member of the IGLTA, an active member and contributor to LGBT nonprofits and community campaigns, airberlin takes pride in have a diverse and inclusive staff from over 60 countries.
Pride flies nonstop with Alaska and they have a list of resources for great Pride celebrations in cities they fly in/out of, including an events calendar and special discounts. 
American is one of my favorite airlines, but they are also a fantastic company on the inside. They the first airline to include sexual orientation (1993) and gender identity (2000) in its nondiscrimination policies for employees, it has criticized anti-gay legislation, and scored 100 on the Human Rights Campaign index.
Pride Takes Flight Here at Delta and they offer plenty of resources for folx to find the perfect vacation destination for them and also tout their employee equality culture and denounce anti-gay legislation and discrimination.
The first airline to allow same-sex couples to accrue airline points together also supports amazing non-profits like the Trevor Project, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and sponsored the Pride events their HQ of Long Beach, CA.
Southwest is the official airline of several LGBT organizations, including GLAAD. Their tagline is "we support the LGBTQ Community, because we are the LGBTQ Community." Learn more on their LGBTQ Outreach page. 
The only other airline to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign index, United is a gold partner of IGLTA and airline partner for the Gay Games of Cleveland.
The entire Virgin brand is headed by Richard Branson, a proud and loud ally. They are an official sponsor of San Francisco Pride.


I love a good vacation rental, and I'm a big fan of Airbnb. They have Project Lighthouse to uncover and overcome discrimination throughout their community and rentals. They also offer lots of experiences for LGBT folx.
Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Not only do they partner with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and IGLTA, but they also have scored 100 on the Corporate Equality Index many years in a row and even have their own microsite for their LGBT travelers. 
Choice Hotels
In 2019 Choice Hotels was named "Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality" for 9th consecutive year. With another perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index, they have a long list of resources for employees, including Choice PRIDE that aims help create and maintain a supportive work environment.
Commune Hotels
Commune has a brand called Joie de Vive that has sponsored the San Francisco Pride celebration for many years, their Thompson Hotels on the east coast offers specials for NYC's Pride celebration. Both brands are TAG-approved, an LGBTQ-owned and operated Travel Advocacy Group.
Hilton Hotels
Stay Hilton. Go Out. Like several other companies, Hilton received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and is a platinum partner of the IGLTA and an official partner of the Washington, DC Pride parade and GLAAD media awards. Check out their Hilton Pride microsite.
Hyatt Hotels
Not only does Hyatt celebrate equality, but they have a Facebook page dedicated to it entitled HyPride, that promotes their HyPride program and their LGBT initiatives.
IHG Hotels (Intercontinental Hotel Group)
While fighting for marriage equality and and against anti-gay legislature, IHG joined the Human Rights Campaign in their efforts for LGBTQ rights, and has sponsored Atlanta's Pride festival since 2011 (as that is where their headquarters are located).
Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group
The first hotel to sign on as the first national hotel sponsor for the Trevor Project, is also a member of IGLTA and is TAG-approved. All of their employees are given yearly trainig on how to make their hotels more gay-friendly and accepting.
Marriott International
In my photo above, I'm wearing one of Marriott's #LoveTravels shirts. I saw my friend Troy wearing one (Troy writes for a lot of travel sites and also runs The Gay Traveler, where he specializes in LGBT travel) in an Instagram post and I asked about it. He was kind enough to send me an extra. Not surprisingly, Marriott also received a 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. You can read more about #LoveTravels here.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Starwood's W Hotels were the first to offer same-sex marriage packages in New York, but also frequently support Pride events and LGBT organizations around the globe.
The vacation rental booking site is owned by Expedia.


You can Ride with Pride with Amtrak and they also want to help you Ride to Pride, by showing you all the great destinations with awesome Pride events that are worth traveling for. They even provide a great link for more LGBT education.
Carnival Cruises
Carnival Cruiselines strives to treat everyone equally and extend the FUN to every single cruiser. The earned a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index and participate and sponsor both the Seattle Pride Parade and Southampton Pride.
Lyft does their best to support and employ the LGBT community. With equality in the workplace, they also contribute money to important organizations like StoryCorps' Stonewall OutLoud campaign and the ACLU, and they put their commitments out there with LyftUp.
Not only do they get you to all the Pride events safely, they also sponsor Pride events in major cities in the US.

I hope you're all having a wonderful June and Pride Month, even if festivities are postponed this year. Just remember, Pride isn't cancelled, and you can find ways to support the community and also celebrate safely. And if you want to plan your trips beyond how to get there and where to stay, check out this list from journey of 12 LGBT+ monuments celebrating history and Budget Travel has the 10 best LGBT+ bars in the US. 

What are your favorite LGBT-friendly travel brands?

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Where to Travel Domestically Right Now

Things are reopening and a lot more people are ready to travel, but aren't too interested in taking a long flight. In fact, many people are still wary of flying internationally and are looking to domestic destinations to satisfy their travel bug. So, if you're looking for places in the US that have high vaccination rates and are still taking the pandemic, and your safety, seriously. 

If you're looking for places in the US that have high vaccination rates and are still taking the pandemic, and your safety, seriously.

While we're fully vaxxed, we aren't interested in going anywhere that's going to be super crowded or popular, and we won't be traveling in the summer at all. Right now, restaurants, museums, national parks and the like are super busy. In fact, many national parks right now are closing to visitors very early in the day, due to how many visitors they're getting. So, where should you go instead?

Los Angeles

More than half of those 16+ in LA are fully vaccinated and the state is finally open with some restrictions. Cases are dropping and soon those attending events and large gatherings will be able to use CLEAR to show they have been vaccinated. The state overall is trying really hard to lure tourists back, especially with Disneyland and other theme parks open.

New York City

Not only is NYC getting back on track for their people, but they will also be vaccinating visitors who would like to get a shot via mobile vaxx sites. Broadway shows are reopening, and the food scene is bouncing back, and those getting vaccinated are eligible for a ton of freebies, like Knicks tickets and Shake Shack yums.

New Orleans

Though it looks like NoLa was going to be pretty behind in keeping their local healthy, they shut down things and cancelled regular Mardi Gras celebrations and told travelers to please stay home. Instead of getting risque, you can now get freebies around town by flashing your vaccination card at restaurants, bars, and other businesses.

Charlottesville, VA

Virginia has launched its WanderLove campaign, and you'll find a bunch of LOVE installations across the state for taking pics. You'll even be able to get free beers and other things if you can prove you've had at least your first Covid shot. 


Despite how badly Texas in general is doing in regards to Covid vaccines, including not reporting correct numbers, Houston seems to be doing much, much better than everywhere else. Open-air concerts are back, so enjoy the weather and nature out at Discovery Green. This park hosts free weekly music performances, a permanent art installation and even two restaurants, where you can indulge in some great Texas BBQ.


With vaccine rates rising and Covid numbers falling, outdoor dining and drive-in movies are returning this summer and people are flocking to the beaches. If you're looking for more to do in Chicago, check out this post.


Hawaii has been a great travel destination throughout this pandemic, holding firm on their quarantine rules and then omitting them for those who are fully vaccinated. Travelers are required to Covid test before travel and on the way back to the mainland. It's been a while since I've been to Honolulu, but if you're looking for affordable things to do, I've got tips for visiting MolokaiMaui or Honolulu.

Washington, DC

With Covid restrictions finally lifted, most of the museums have reopened. The weather is generally nice during the summer and early fall, so eating outside will be pleasant, allowing you to dig in to the rich foodie scene. Here are some of the things we did on one of our previous trips.

Las Vegas

After a rough start with opening and closing and trying to figure out how to keep things going throughout the pandemic, Vegas finally got it together and has been welcoming visitors with extra precautions. Thought many things may have closed, new things have opened, making the city new in lots of ways for repeat visitors like me. We decided against NBA Summer League this year, but we will be road tripping there in late September/early October. 

Some states are doing much better when it comes to vaccinating its population than others. Here's how each stands a month or so ago, based on how many have gotten at least one dose. If you're doing a road trip, this might be important information for your route.

If you are looking into traveling outside of the country, here are some countries with high vaccination rates that might be on your list to visit.

Are you hoping to travel soon? If so, where are you planning to go?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Checking In

We seem to be in a transitional time. We're going from a bunch of restrictions to hardly any restrictions and I'm not entirely sure how to handle it. The pandemic made a lot of normal things seem questionable and though we've been dipping our toes in, I think there are a lot of things we will change going forward. 

We seem to be in a transitional time. We're going from a bunch of restrictions to hardly any restrictions and I'm not entirely sure how to handle it.

Summer brings with it a slew of family birthdays and people wanting to make a bunch of plans with us. Staying home was actually really good for my mental and physical health. I didn't have to tell anyone no, because staying home and keeping physically distant from people outside your house were a given. I have been able to enjoy more time with my husband and myself and I was super into it, so I'll tell you how I am, and you can tell me how you're dealing right now.

Making: Chocolate mint cakes for Eric's birthday. He requested that flavor combo, so I made mini bundts to serve at our first indoor, non-masked family celebration. While I know we probably aren't in danger of getting each other sick with Covid, I also am starting to realize that eating cake that someone else has blown on is pretty weird and gross. I might always do a mini cake for the candles from now on.

Drinking: A lot of coffee still, because I'm trying my best to help out my local coffee shops, but I have also been trying the new Cutwater Spirits canned cocktails, which are a great alternative to going out and spending $10+ on a cocktail or buying everything to mix yourself. The Paloma is a great, refreshing drink for the summer.

Listening: New music by Ashnikko, AJR, and The Band Camino. I've also been listening to the new season of The Adventure Zone podcast, while also relistening to TAZ Amnesty to get back to some old friends. The McElroy podcasts got me through 2020 and I'm glad I've gotten back to them. Gamers might appreciate The Besties, where Justin and Griffin talk with some other friends about the best games of the week. 

Looking: At things to do in the Maldives and in Colombo, Sri Lanka, though we won't be going for another year .I'm also looking into new things to do in Las Vegas, and things on the way for our upcoming road trip.

Wishing: We were going on vacation sooner than September, but since we're also planning several more trips for next year, I can't complain too much.

Enjoying: The nicer weather and sitting outside in the backyard and doing the little bit of gardening...and stick-on manicures. My favorites right now are from Lily & Fox. They are easy to put on, they're affordable, and they last longer than expected. I think they will be perfect for travel, because if it gets chippy, you can just peel them off and put on new ones...or not.

Wondering: If crowded spaces will ever feel comfortable for me again or if I will always feel like I need a mask in those sorts of spaces. 

Watching: I just finally watched Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+ and I loved it. Like everyone else on the planet, I'm watching Loki. I've also been watching Girls5eva on Peacock, which is hysterical, and Dollhouse on Hulu with Kat Dennings, which I also love, but it makes me glad I don't have to date ever again. If you're struggling a bit with mental health and/or anxiety, Bo Burnham's Netflix special Inside is fun, interesting, and heart-wrenching at the same time. If you've not been exposed to his comedy before, I'd not suggest starting with this one, as it can be difficult to watch in spots. He wrote and filmed the whole thing himself and it took him an entire year, but I feel like it may also be his best. 

Hoping: More people will get vaccinated across the country, so traveling feels more safe, and we have a much smaller chance of having Covid variants (like the Delta variant that comes with black fungus) running rampant through our population and doing a whole other round of lockdown/quarantine.

Marveling: At just how many cool things there are to see/do in Portland that aren't hiking. The city gets even more creative with things when group/crowd activities are not happening. 

Needing: Some time away from home, which I will get in due time. In the meantime, I realized what I was needing was some hugs from family, which I indulged in over the last weekend now that we're all fully vaccinated.

Smelling: All the mint and tomatoes growing in my yard. 

Wearing: More colorful makeup to feel happier and my new white Columbia slip-on PFG shoes, because the weather's nice and I am finally going out of the house more and shoes matter again. 

Thinking: About how much I don't really miss eating out. I mean, I like going out and having someone serve me food I didn't cook, but after over a year of making my own food or getting food delivered, I think I will be more picky about when I eat out and where I go. We probably won't be going back to eating out 3-4 times during the weekend. If we do, I think it will revolve a lot more around the food trucks and a lot less around going inside somewhere.

Buying: Backgrounds for more summery destinations. I'll still be doing Destination Date Night staycations, just maybe less frequently. We've found them to be a great little escape that's affordable. We'll be doing Malta soon.  

Disliking: How full restaurants are in the middle of the week and how busy the highways are becoming again. 

Feeling: Like I need to get back into vacation mode now that more and more people are getting vaccinated and travel is getting back to normal. I'm already planning much more than I have in the whole last year.

Now, tell me how things are going with you

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Dad & Grad Travel Gift List 2021

Guess what? We're finally getting back to normal and people will be traveling and living a life outside of their home and local grocery store. With Father's Day coming up quick and everyone graduating right now, travel gifts can really go a long way in making your recipients extra happy. 

We're seeing things start to open, and even if we aren't taking advantage of those early opportunities to stay healthy, having a travel bag packed and ready is a great thing to work on, and you can even use those things at home. As always, here is my list of awesome things for your loved ones, broken down into price categories:

Budget - under $50

1. SpectraSpray
There are natural sprays for everything, including those to make your travels way better. Purchase sprays individually, or ones that go together in a Jet Lag Kit or Stay Well Kit. $19.95+ on SpectraSpray - my review is here

2. Nabee Compression Socks
Sitting on long flights and/or walking all day, can really be bad for your circulation. I have issues with swelling ankles and feet and have found that compression socks are a necessity for my life. I love the fun patterns that Nabee has. Just because you're doing something to help you stay healthy, doesn't mean you can't look awesome doing it. $29.99 from Nabee.

3. AeroPress Go

Does your dad/grad love coffee? Are they always jetting off somewhere? Even if they just enjoy camping or needsto free up some space in their home (or college dorm), the AeroPress Go is perfect for those that just want a good cup of Joe at home. It makes amazing coffee, is super easy to use and clean, and fits inside its own mug. $31.95 from AeroPress or Amazon - my review is here

4. Airplane Pockets
I really hate the airplane seat pocket. Mostly because they aren't large enough for things I want to have during my flight, but also because I've found so much trash in them when I've flown. Get your dad/grad a set of Airplane Pockets that slip over the tray table (covering it with an anti-bacterial fabric) and give them 4 pockets to hold their phone, glasses, pen, snacks, book and whatever else. If you follow me on IG, you've seen these in action on my trips. $29 on Amazon

5. Well Told drinkware
Since no one's going anywhere for the foreseeable future, why not give them something to remind them of a favorite trip or destination, or a big trip they have hopes of. Well Told Design makes beautiful drinkware with etched maps and more. I have a pair of London pint glasses, but I'm hoping to add to the collection soon. $18+ on Well Told - my review is here

6. Belkin Mini Surge Protector
We have several of these - one for travel and some for our house. These surge protectors are so useful, because you can turn one outlet into three sockets and two USB ports. the back swivels, so you can fit it anywhere and then plug in all your gadgets. It has come in handy in those rooms that have maybe one free outlet (read: 95% of hotel rooms) that isn't at the bathroom vanity. Give your dad the convenience of always having enough power outlets. $16.89 on Amazon

7. Bamboo utensils from The Other Straw
When we all start traveling again, even if it's just around town, we're especially going to want to eat out, even if that's just at food trucks. I'm really loving these great bamboo utensils from The Other Straw. Not only are they eco-friendly and nice to look at, but they come in their own pouch for keeping them clean in between uses and TOS donates 50% of their profits to fund ocean cleanups. $9.56 on The Other Straw

Moderate - $50-100

1. Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack 2.0
I am a huge fan of Timbuk2 bags. They have ones that are great for everyday and ones that also work well for travel. The Rogue 2.0 is perfect for toting your laptop on trips, along with snacks, books and all the other things you want in-flight. They can work as great weekenders, or for those that light to pack super light, which is usually me if I travel alone. The less I have to carry, the better, and a backpack is easy to get down the tiny airplane aisle. It can be paired with the Packable Travel Tote for coming home with extra goodies.  $89 on Timbuk2 | $39 on Timbuk2

2. FaceCradle
There are so many travel pillows to choose from, but one of the best I've tried is the FaceCradle. Not only is it perfect for the ever-diminishing airplane space, but it's great for tall people, and for using on trains and in cars as well. It has a bunch of different ways to use it. We have the regular version and the lite version, and we sleep like babies on the plane. $49.99 on Amazon - my review is here

3. Barrier Method Neckie
Everyone's got a mask or two right now, but Barrier Method was selling theirs before they were all the rage. I always get compliments on my winged mask. With summer coming, the neckie is smaller, but still lightweight and effective. This anti-bacterial mask is both healthy and pretty and can be used to stay well, reduce your allergens, keep your neck warm, among other things. Gift your dad/grad the gift of health and wellness with one of these. They can wear it to the grocery store and on the plane. $50 from The Barrier Method - my review is here

4. Bluffworks Original Khakis or Departure Jeans
It can be hard to find the perfect pair of pants to travel in or with. Bluffworks started with their original chinos and have since branched out into jeans, blazers, shorts, and now women's clothing. Their pants go from boardroom to sightseeing to rock climbing to dinner out. They look great, they're stain-resistant, wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking and even include security pockets. Pack fewer pieces that have more versatility. Your dad already probably hates to pack, and your grad hates to do laundry, so these pieces work for everyone. $49+ on Bluffworks

5. Tropicfeel shoes
I backed these as a kickstarter, because they sounded amazing. They are pretty much Spring and Summer shoes (though if the fall isn't cold, you could wear them then too). We travel to Vegas a lot and do a ton of theme parks, which have plenty of water activities. These shoes are like your best sneakers and water shoes in one. I backed them hoping they would be as good as they sounded, and they were. We both have a pair and they are super lightweight, can be worn with or without socks, and look fantastic. They are perfect for all the walking your dad/grad will do on their travels. $100 on TropicFeel

6. Benjilock
Regular TSA-accepted locks usually suck, and are easy to forget the combination to, especially if you only travel a few times a year. If that's a problem your dad has too, so he just doesn't use a lock on her luggage, a Benjilock might just be what he needs. Instead of a combination or a key, it opens with a fingerprint. And if he's traveling with several people who are using the same carry-on/suitcase, it can hold up to 10 fingerprints. $70 on Amazon, but can also be found at The Home Depot and QVC and Ace Hardware

Splurge - $100+

1. Gift cards
Buy a gift card that can be used for their favorite airline or hotel chain (or Airbnb) or rental car company when they can travel again. It's nice because you can customize it and make it a bit more personal than a normal gift card. $1-infinity: whatever you want to spend.

2. GlobeIn monthly travel box
If your mom doesn't quite have the funds to travel (or just misses traveling during Lockdown), but loves cool stuff from other countries anyway. Give her the gift of stuff from around the world with the GlobeIn box. Each box contains at least 4 goodies from other countries and they all center around a story. $144 for a 3-month subscription. (The price per box goes down with longer subscriptions)

3. CityPASS
I'm sure your mom already has her next trip planned. Why not help her make it more affordable by giving her most or all of her activities for free? You'll be able to find a lot of participating cities. $50+ on CityPASS website

4. Priority Pass
Hanging out in the airport can be fun, but after a while, you wish it could be better. Buy your dad access to all the airport lounges, so he can get some peace and quiet, free snacks and maybe get some work done or catch a shower. You can purchase him the standard pass for $99/year, or upgrade them to the plus for $299, which includes 10 free visits (generally member visits are $32).

5. Travelon Heritage Carry-All Weekender
This wide-mouth weekender has so much room in it for a weekend or a week or a two-week trip. It's true! I packed two people's clothing in it for a week in Vegas. Not only is it spacious, but it's also super good looking. Your mom will get so much use from this bag and get all the compliments as well. $115 on Travelon + get 20% off if you use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% - my review is here

6. Ebags Fortis Spinner Carry On
Has your dad been using the same beat up carry-on for decades? Or your grad doesn't even have a real piece of luggage? Then this bag works for either. The hardside shell gives it extra strength to keep their belongings safe, the spinner wheels make it easy to take even on cobblestones, and they can't overpack, though you can expand it for extra purchases and check it home. $159.99 on Amazon

And if you want to throw in an extra fun thing in for them, you can add a Happy Traveler shirt, bag, coasters, or travel mug for them to take wherever they may go.

7. Battpak by Octave
With graduates going off to college or possibly backpacking across countries soon, they're going to need a good battery back-up for their phones. You don't want to have all your valuables out in the open, and the Battpak is perfect for those occasions, because not only will it charge their phone, but they can also keep extra money, an emergency credit card, or whatever else they want to keep hidden in the secret compartment. $129, on sale for $99, on Octave

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.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

12 Budget Fall Travel Destinations

With things opening back up and travel being more than just optimistic in the coming months, I thought you might like to read about some places that are generally affordable in the fall. We're planning a road trip to Vegas, and are already looking forward to traveling farther in the future. If you're also dying to pack a bag, here are some places to plan to go to.

With things opening back up and travel being more than just optimistic in the coming months, I thought you'd like some budget fall  destinations.

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 San Francisco 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 planning a budget getaway, where are looking to go?

Pin It button on image hover