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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Dad & Grad Travel Gift List

It's that time again! Time to celebrate fathers and kids becoming adults and venturing out into the world. We like to honor them with gifts, letting them know how special and proud we are of them. If you've got a dad, grandfather, brother, son, or graduate in your life that likes to travel, I've come up with a list of suggestions for you that can all be here before June 18.

If you've got a dad, grandfather, brother, son, or graduate in your life that likes to travel, I've come up with a list of suggestions for you.
Photo by Sherman Yang on Unsplash

When my dad was alive, he and my mom loved traveling on his motorcycle. Even growing up we did tons of road trips. He loved gadgets and I inherited that love. With travel coming back, new travel items and gadgets to make upcoming trips better are always a welcome gift.

Masks are going to be a travel staple for a long time. Some airlines are still requiring them. Many destinations are still requiring them. And they're a good idea when going anywhere during cold and flu season, or when going somewhere there is a large concentration of people. Keep them safe, but also stylish.

MaskC Deep Hues KN95  $36 for 10
When in crowded spaces, like the plane, I always choose a KN95 mask. Their form is not only more breathable, but it's also more comfortable with the extra room in front. You may opt for black or colorful ones, but I also really love these solid dark hues.
When I'm out and about, I always have two masks - one that I'm wearing and a backup. While you can use a plastic bag, it's nicer to have something a little better looking and also have a place to stash your mask while eating or walking around outside without it getting dirty. These are pretty and also can clip right onto a bag. 
Yes, I have a lot of different masks in my house. As much as I think disposable masks have a place for travels, I also love a great reusable mask, because you can wash and reuse them while on a long trip. They enable you to pack a little lighter and show your style a bit more. I have several Vida masks, including the sport masks and the artist prints. The all come with filters and are really comfortable.
The Barrier Method Neckie $35 & Winged Mask $45
I love the Winged Mask, but the Just the Mask and Neckie are more suitable for many destinations. They are lightweight, but still anti-bacterial and have built-in UPF, so you don't get sunburned on your face and neck, especially when sitting in the window seat where the sun's rays can be much worse. There is a mask for everyone. You may recall that I started wearing my Winged Mask before masks were even required. You can see my review here.

The right accessories can really make a trip much better. I have a stash of tried and true items that I take for all trips, or just some trips. Here are some of my favorites.

Stasher Bags $45.96 for a set, but less if you only want specific ones
While traditional zip-top bags are great, they aren't that awesome for the environment. I have started replacing things with Stasher bags. They're spendy, but well worth the money.
Anyone who travels outside of the country needs an adapter for their electronics. Most US electronics are dual voltage, so you don't have to worry about a converter. This adapter is affordable and can be used everywhere, so you no longer have to buy different adapters for each region. I loved this one I purchased and it has 4 USB outlets for your phone and other small electronics, so everything is always charged.
Several years ago I backed Pivo on kickstarter, because it looked exactly like a thing I could use for taking outfit photos and more. Cut to now where I've been using the original with ease and have just upgraded to the Pivo Lite to get more features and have a funky new color that I can keep in my travel bag. Pivo allows you to use your phone as a whole photo and video studio + you can use it take group pictures without asking a stranger to help.
Aeropress Go $39.95
The AeroPress Portable is as great as the original, but everything is compact enough to fit inside it's own coffee cup, which is pretty amazing. As a person who travels quite a lot and tends to stay in places that have terrible coffee makers or none at all, being able to get a good cup of coffee is very important to me. If you have a similar coffee lover on your list, this is a must. You can see my review on it here.
Swell Insulated Food Container $24.99 for 24 oz or $50 for nesting bowls (shown)
Wherever I go, I have snacks of some kind. Long trips call for many snacks. A lot of airlines still haven't brought back food service, so you're kind of on your own, and granola bars and chips can get pretty boring. I have several insulated food containers and they're awesome for bringing along things that are more substantial or need to be kept hot or cold. I especially enjoy chees and fruit, so these Swell containers are fantastic for allowing me to take those things on long plane rides, but they're also good for theme park visits and road trips.
When you're out all day snapping pics, using your GPS to get around, and posting jealousy-inducing photos to social media, your phone battery can drain pretty quickly. Having a decent sized battery backup like this one can make sure you can always charge up your phone. In fact, we carry two similar ones and each allows us to charge up fully at least twice during the day (we play a lot of games as well).
Every flight attendant will tell you how gross the seatback pocket on the plane is. They get cleaned out, but never cleaned, so you're putting your headphones in the same pocket that may have just had a dirty diaper in it a few hours earlier. Airplane Pockets fit over your tray table, making it antibacterial, and give you four pockets - one large one and three smaller ones - to fit everything you need for a flight. After you land, slip it off, fold it up, and toss it in your bag.

Bags and Toiletries
I love bags and things that go in my bags to keep me organized and these kinds of gifts are always welcome, to the well-seasoned traveler, but also for beginner travelers that haven't really ever had to try packing light or more efficiently.

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. 
Travelon Anti-Theft Metro Carryall $85 on Amazon | $95 on Travelon (take 20% off with my code SHEREENTRAVELS20%)
Maybe your dad takes a lot of overnight, business, or weekend trips. If so, then this carryall is ideal for a few outfits, a pair of shoes, and still have some room leftover for small purchases. When he's on longer trips, he can use this as an underseater for all his entertainment and snacks.
I don't know why, but I have always loved a pannier bag. It's one that fits on the side of a bicycle. If your dad/grad enjoy biking everywhere, or even just on vacation, Timbuk2 makes amazingly heavy-duty and stylish bags for every need. This weather-proof lightweight pannier is great, but if you're looking for something a bit more upscale, the Convertible Backpack Pannier has more features and is just $159. The only downside is it's not waterproof, so it's not ideal for rainy destinations, but I guess neither is bicycling.
Travelon's Greenlander Insulated Water Bottle Bag $40 on Travelon (take 20% off with my code SHEREENTRAVELS20%)
Make sure they stay hydrated and have a place to stash some cash with a water bottle bag. This one is insulated, keeping things cool, and has an anti-theft zipper pocket and a comfy adjustable shoulder strap. You can view my review here.
Matador Flatpak Bag $39.90 for 3
One of the most annoying things about taking liquids on a trip is that the bottles don't get smaller when you use product, so you end up taking half-full bottles back or throwing them out. Quit doing both of those things with these pack-flat bottles. They are leak-proof and can hang in the shower with their snap loops. Not only do they pack better than traditional bottles, but they get smaller when you use product. 
In my travels, I've had a lot of tubes and containers, but none have been as awesome as GoTubb. I use these for anything I can't find a smaller version of, so I can pack light. They don't leak and they hold a lot more than you expect, but in a small size. These come in small, medium and large, so they can be used for practically anything, from snacks to pills to moisturizer.
Packing light can be a challenge, but strategic packing items can help you get a little more in your bag. Packing cubes are kind of a necessity, and even if your dad/grad has some, if they don't have compression cubes, it's time to upgrade them. Get 30% more in your bag, or save that extra room for other necessities, like your toiletry bag and shoes. I love the Specter line from Eagle Creek. They cost more, but they are top of the line and have a compression function, so you get even more in your bag.

I hope you've found something awesome for the dad and/or grad on your list, or maybe for yourself if you're a dad or just need something for the upcoming summer travel season. 

What has been your favorite travel gift to give or receive? 

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links that may result in monetary compensation, which helps me to keep running this blog for you. Thanks in advance for anything you buy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Stay Hydrated with Travelon's Greenlander Insulated Water Bottle Bag

Eric and I are forever trying to stay hydrated when we travel. We quit buying bottles of water everywhere we go forever ago, because it can really add up, and it's a waste of plastic. Of course, carrying around a thermos is annoying and can add too much weight to my already stuffed purse. A water bottle bag is the answer, and Travelon has so many to choose from.

The Greenlander Insulated Water Bottle Bag from Travelon is anti-theft, sporty, and fits most size bottles and thermoses.

This is the third water bottle bag we've gotten from Travelon and it's a big step up from the basic one we have, but still lightweight, and has more features. Eric drinks the most while we're out, so he gets the honor of carrying this bag. He's not asking me constantly for the bottle and it's pretty much impossible for him to set it down and forget it, since he's wearing it.

When I'm just out with the dog or at the beach/pool, and I don't have to take a purse, these bags are perfect for me, too. It's comfortable to wear and fits any bottle I have, including my shorter, wide-mouth 14 oz thermos and a big liter size SodaStream bottle.

The strap is nice and wide, with rounded edges, so it's not digging into your shoulder or neck. It's really comfortable and can be adjusted for whatever your height. We both wear it crossbody, and it's always perfect for us both. 

This new Greenlander water bottle bag is insulated, so even if you aren't walking around with an insulated thermos, you aren't forced to drink gross lukewarm water (or whatever beverage you're drinking) all day. It makes hydrating a little more tolerable, especially when it's hot outside. 

No matter your bottle or thermos size, the Greenlander Water Bottle Bag has a drawstring closure on the top to keep your bag inside and from falling out if it falls over or you bend down. We've had this happen when putting it in the backseat of the car and had to fish under the seats for it.

This cool bottle bag has some neat anti-theft features, too. Instead of a locking zipper, which can be difficult to deal with on a bag like this, it has a zipper that fits through a loop, so it can't slide down if caught on something or if someone tries to unzip it to get at what's in the pocket. 

This zippered pocket is the perfect size for small necessities. Maybe you're taking this on a short flight and don't need much on the plane, or taking it to the pool or beach. Stash your ID, keys, and cash in there. 

This pocket actually stretches across half of the circumference of the bag, which I found surprising. You can get more inside if you aren't carrying a huge bottle and if you put things in it before you put your bottle in. You can't fit your passport in there, unless you do it sideways, and then you risk it bending and getting damaged, so I don't suggest trying it. 

There's also the insulated lining here, too, so if you wanted to store some small snacks in there, or your favorite lipbalm that you don't want to melt, you totally can. 

If you're traveling with your dog and need a place to clip on your potty bag dispenser, or a collapsible bowl, you can use the front loop. 

There's a larger loop on the "back" that can be used for that as well, or your keys or a badge when going to conventions or theme parks. 

The Greenlander Water Bottle Bag also has a slash-resistent body, keeping your items safe from thieves. I love that their bags have this feature. It adds a bit of weight, but it gives me peace of mind. 

Traveling with kids? Get two of these and use one for snacks, like granola bars and fruit. It's a way to store them easily, and it's convenient to just pull something out right away. The drawstring will keep everything in and the insulation will keep things cool and non-melty or non-wilty. It's also great for baby bottles or juice boxes! And if your kids are dogs, throw a little bag of treats underneath your water bottle for them.

Everyone can use this awesome little bag, so keep it in mind for Father's Day, graduations, and birthdays coming up. It's not just for travel, but great for hiking, festivals, hanging out at the park, and taking to the beach.

More details
Where to buy: Travelon website
Cost: $40 - take 20% off with my code SHEREENTRAVELS20%
Colors it is available in: Galaxy Blue with aqua details (shown) | Jet Black with lime details (shown up top) | Diamond Ash with coral details
Other specs: size: 4" x 4" x 8.5", made of sustainable 100% certified recycled rPET material, slash-resistant adjustable strap with 14"-29" drop

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Disclaimer: I was provided with the Greenlander Anti-Theft Insulated Water Bottle Bag for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Small Coastal Backpack from Travelon

I'm always looking for a bag that can be used as both a personal item on the plane that can also double as my daybag at my destination. Later this year we'll be traveling around Baltimore's Inner Harbor for a day on a long layover to Europe. I'll want something small like a handbag, but with room for my carry-on essentials and possibly small souvenirs. 

The Small Backpack from Travelon's Coastal line is one of those great little bags that fits more than you expect, is lightweight, and is anti-theft.

The Small Backpack from Travelon's Coastal line is one of those great little bags that fits more than you expect, is lightweight, and has an important anti-theft feature. It's also got a cool vintage vibe and feels a bit sporty, too. It's a lovely canvas that's only going to look better the more you use it.

I'm in love with the size of this bag and the wide straps are really comfy. The bold Sunflower color is right up my ally and easy to identify as yours. If you tend to dress in neutrals, this gives you a nice pop of color, and your companions can see where you are. 

Unlike many travel bags, this one is pretty simple and straightforward. It has a small zipper pocket on the front where you can keep things you want to keep corralled or easy to get to. I like to make sure my earphones and phone cord don't get tangled up at the bottom of my bag and I also like to have an emergency pack handy.

The main compartment opens wide enough to see everything inside if you like. For such a small backpack, it has quite a lot of room for things you may need. 

The back wall has a large slip pocket for your electronics. Here's my iPad mini, but it would clearly fit a larger tablet if you wanted.

On the front wall, you have multiple slip pockets. On the right you can store your phone, or a small umbrella, or even a small water bottle. I always have a hand sanitizer with me, so that's where I put it. I like to always know where to find it, so I can use it often.

On the left, you have 3 RFID-blocking pockets: 1 for your passport and 2 for credit cards or your ID. These pockets keep your info safe from thieves and organized. If you travel with another person and like to have everything together, you could fit two passports in the passport pocket. This is always a nice feature to me, because I always worry about losing one of ours when traveling through a bunch of airports. I'm sure I'm not the only one, even though it's never happened at all.

Here's everything I was able to pack into the Small Coastal Backpack: A reusable water bottle, my iPad mini, a notebook and pen, a bag of snacks, a battery backup and phone cord, passport, ID, two credit cards, an extra mask, an emergency TP pack, hand sanitizer, and headphones. There would be room for keys, a magazine or puzzle book, and even a lightweight wrap. 

The straps are easily adjustable, and are reinforced and sturdy. I like that they don't have a complicated mechanism to adjust, even while wearing it. 

If you have a stylish dad on your list for Father's Day or a graduate who'll be doing some traveling, or going on a trip yourself, The Coastal Small Backpack could be the ideal companion for them/you. 

More details
Where to buy: Travelon website
Cost: $30 - take 20% off with my code SHEREENTRAVELS20%
Colors it is available in: Sunflower (shown) | Oyster
Other specs: size: 4.5" x 9" x 12.25", 9.5L, abrasion-Resistant Canvas With Droplet Barrier, smooth-glide adjustable shoulder straps

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Disclaimer: I was provided with the Coastal Small Backpack for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

People Are Traveling Again

2022 is the year people are getting back to travel, which is exciting, but also stressful. Between worrying about changing restrictions, high airfare, possible outbreaks, and large crowds, it's hard to be as excited about travel planning as before. You'll definitely be paying more for a lot of things, whether you intend to or not. Here's what else you can look forward to.

2022 is the year people are getting back to travel, which is exciting, but also stressful.

I know a lot of these apply to me, though many applied pre-pandemic. I have always looked for deals and always want a longer vacation. I hope, even if you don't spend longer at your destination, you spend more quality time with your family or other companions. Stop responding to work emails and calls as much as possible, or only reply early morning or in the evening. I also hope more people do more immersive vacations where they seek to learn more about the culture, food, and people. More of you will care about traveling more slowly, instead of cramming everything in in just a few days before hopping to another destination or going home. 
How will your travel plans change this year when  you return to traveling?

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Getting Comfortable On the Plane

It's no secret that airfare is sky-high right now, so it's hard to really find deals that are that good. In order to save money, you're probably trying to go as budget as possible. With airplane real estate at a premium, it can be hard to get comfortable on flights when you're relegated to economy class, but there are a few things you can do to make your air travel less awful and more comfy.

With airplane real estate at a premium, it can be hard to get comfortable on flights, but there are a few things to make your air travel less awful.

Dress in layers - You never know if the plane is going to be hot or cold or what, so it's always smart to just layer up and then you can take off or put on a layer as needed. I tend to wear a tee or tank and a cardigan and also bring a lightweight scarf, in case there is a chill and I need to protect my neck.

Wear nonrestrictive shoes (so if your feet/ankle swell, they won't get worse) - Ask me how I know :) Slip on shoes are always good, but if you're trying to save space in  your bag, walking shoes are not a bad plane option either. Of course, you can always pop a pair of folding flats/slippers in your bag and change on the plane.

Invest in a pair of compression socks - If your feet or ankles swell on long flights like mine do from dangling off the seat, these are a lifesaver and easy to buy online or even at the airport. I love the compression socks and sleeves from Zensah.
Bring your own snacks - I like to be on my own schedule, plus I'm not willing to pay $8 for grapes and fake cheese, so I pack my own. It saves you money, you know what you're eating and you don't have to wait for the cart to get to you.

Don't forget your neck pillow - Sometimes, you just want to sleep until you get to your destination. Neck pillows are really useful, even if they look dumb. I have a favorite one (hint: it's not one of those c-shaped foam ones that don't work at all. We both use the FaceCradle and soon I'll be reviewing the Somniwrap from Travelon.

Grab a BIG bottle of water - Most attendants won't give you the whole bottle of water, and if you're thirsty right at take-off, it sucks to be you. Get the big bottle at the newsstand and you'll be happy you did. If you don't drink it all in the air, you still have it at your destination. So much hydration! I always bring a thermos to put my water in to keep it cold, but you can also save $7 and just fill yours up at a refilling station that can be found at many airports now.

Make use of the seatback pocket - Putting all your crap in the overhead? Pack a small bag with the stuff you definitely want while flying (magazine, e-reader, travel journal) and slip it under your seat or in the seatback, so you aren't getting up and rummaging in  your bag and annoying people. Nothing's worse than looking over and seeing someone's butt right at your eye level. In fact, invest in Airplane Pockets to keep your stuff together and keep germs away. (You can see us using ours in the top pic.)

What are some of your favorite ways to make air travel better?

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated monetarily when you make a purchase through them. This helps me continue to run this blog, so thanks in advance.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Review: Travelon's Greenlander Compact Sling

Summer is coming, and with it come farmers' markets, festivals, vacations, and more time outside. If you hate carrying around a bag, but still need to carry the essentials, then the Greenlander Compact Sling from Travelon is your new best friend. I wore it to an event downtown this past weekend and it was awesome.

If you hate carrying around a bag, but still need to carry the essentials, then the Greenlander Compact Sling from Travelon is your new best friend.

The compact sling is the perfect bag for travel as well. Walking through the airport can be stressful and having to dig through your bag for your phone and your passport or ID is annoying. Have everything you need within easy reach, while also not having to rummage in an over-large bag. 

This little bag wears like a crossbody, but the strap is unique, allowing it to come over one shoulder, but also sit at your waist. It's amazingly comfortable, and it sits right against your body, giving you a feeling of security for your necessities. 

I was able to get all the things I would normally take with me to the airport and on the plane, but also things I would take with me on an outing or to a theme park: cash, my ID, snacks, a battery backup for my phone, hand sanitizer, credit cards, and even my keys.

The front zipper pocket goes all the way down to the bottom of the bag. I was able to stash my phone in it on Saturday, so I always knew where it was and could grab it quickly for photos. If I were traveling, or going out, I would use it for sanitizer, my cards and cash, and probably lip balm. (I just noticed that this pocket has RFID-blocking technology.)

These things all slid right in with room for a spare mask if needed. I really love the contrasting zipper and zipper pull that gives the bag a bit of funky color, but makes it feel a little sporty, too. Not only does it look cool, but it doubles as a security measure. See that matching loop? (you can see it better in the title pic.) You can slide the zipper and pull into it and have some extra safety for your belongings.

The inside of the bag is larger than it appears, but it's also manageable and opens wide enough to see everything in it. I'm actually surprised how many snacks fit in here with my battery backup and phone cord. There's a separate slip pocket inside, too.

This slip pocket has RFID-blocking, too, so if you use it for your passport and/or credit cards, you're safe from hacking technology that wants to steal your information or identity. Nobody wants that, and I love that this little bag has that protection. 

It's not the only anti-theft feature either. The main compartment has a clip zipper, like most of the other anti-theft Travelon bags. It clips to a small d-ring on the body of the bag, so no one can unzip it without some effort. You'll definitely notice someone trying to tug your bag unzipped and failing if you're wearing it.

You also have the wide padded strap that is adjustable. It also has security features though. In order to keep this bag functional and lightweight, it doesn't have a large metal clip like some of the other bags do, but has a strong plastic buckle that can lock. This way, you can unbuckle it, wrap the strap around a chair or table when you are hanging out, re-buckle, and slide the lock into place. People won't be able to snatch your bag and run, either off your body or the furniture you attached it to.

The strap and the front, sides, and bottom of the Compact Sling are slash-resistant. I know this is a concern for many people who travel on public transit or go to music festivals where there are a lot of people present. 

Travelon is moving into more sustainable bags, so now you can feel like you're making a difference while also looking stylish. The Greenlander line is made of 100% recycled materials.

I'm sorry for the sun making this a terrible picture. I couldn't actually see my phone screen at all.

If you've got a birthday or graduation for a traveler coming up soon, this could be the perfect gift for them. I know I'll be using this for a lot of activities, because I love to have my hands free to take pictures or browse the market or to hold the dog's leash. There are endless activities where this bag will be super handy to wear. 

More details
Where to buy: Travelon website
Cost: $49.50 - take 20% off with my code SHEREENTRAVELS20%
Colors it is available in: Diamond Ash (shown) | Galaxy Blue (with gray & aqua accents) | Jet Black (with gray and lime accents)
Other specs: size: 5”W x 7.25”H x 1.75”D, strap length: 33-59", 100% certified recycled rPET material (made from recycled water bottles), water-resistant, spot-clean with a damp cloth.

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Disclaimer: I was provided with the Greenlander Compact Sling for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

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