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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Review: Serenity Tray Organizer

By now, we all know that the airplane tray table is the dirtiest part of the plane, followed pretty close by the seatback pocket, where everyone puts their garbage. The pocket is never big enough for things you want to put in there either, or you're in danger of forgetting whatever you've put in there because it's out of sight. The solution: bring your own pockets.

Serenity Organizers has this awesome tray organizer that slips over the airplane tray that has 4 pockets, is antimicrobial, and machine washable.

Serenity Organizers has this awesome tray organizer that slips over the airplane tray, so you don't have to touch it. It has 3 small pockets and a large pocket, for all the things you want to have on the plane with you without having to rummage through your bag throughout the whole flight. Besides, it's too hard to pretzel yourself in order to even get to your bag with how little leg room you probably have.

The Serenity Tray Organizer keeps you from holding things when you aren't using them, keeps your lap clear, and helps you stay organized, too. I, generally, have a plan of things I want to do and eat when I fly, so being able to have all those things with me, but contained, is really important. I'm able to have my backup battery and cord for charging my phone in between reading and playing games, a magazine when I'm over screen time, headphones for listening to podcasts or the in-flight entertainment, snacks are very important, as is my water bottle, and my sunglasses for once I get to my destination. All of these things fit in the tray organizer, and have their own place in it. 

The organizer fits snugly over the tray table and is antimicrobial. This means the germy tray never touches the stuff on it. 

It also means if you want to eat directly off of it, that's fine too, because you have a barrier. once you get home from your trip, you can empty it and throw it into the washing machine, so it's clean and ready for your next trip. 

Once you reach your destination, you can slip off your organizer, flip it inside out, and cinch it closed. I, especially, love that part, because getting off the plane is chaotic enough, and no one wants to spend 10 minutes cramming everything back in their bag while being jostled by everyone else trying to get to their things to get off the plane.

You can either just tote it with you, or toss it in your bag and go. On my way home from Vegas, I only had a backpack and a tote with some things that I wanted to try out while in the air, so it was easy for me to take my tray organizer off and just toss it in when I arrived at my home airport. 

(My video from the plane wasn't great - I still need to practice doing things while also holding my phone - so I used a chair with a smaller back to recreate how I would add all my items to the Serenity organizer and then slip it off when I am done with it.) As you can see, it holds quite a bit and it's perfect for those that like to stay organized or when you are traveling with little ones. Kids can have their own stash of books and snacks and games and toys with this organizer, so they are entertained their whole flight. 

The only downside I encountered with it is that when your tray is down, if you have bigger items in the pockets, it all ends up in your lap (though it doesn't fall out), so if you already find the tray table comes down too far and is uncomfortable, this won't help, but Serenity also has a seat organizer that lips over the airplane seat and then has the pockets on the bottom, which would be behind your legs when you're seated. This might be better for taller people. 

On the plus side, all your belongings fit snugly in the tray organizer, so anyone who needs to get past you to get to the bathroom won't end up cracking their knee on your water bottle or dump half your stuff onto the floor by knocking into it. 

Other reasons the Serenity Tray Organizer is awesome:
  • It's quick-drying, so if you spill on it, or need to wash it, the lightweight fabric dries fast.
  • It weighs less than 3 ounces, taking up almost no space in your bag when not in use.
  • The drawstring is long enough to wear over your shoulder.
  • It was created by two amazing ladies, so it's supporting a great woman-owned business.
  • You can get one in 6 different fun colors: charcoal, cool grey, blue indigo, fire orange, rose pink, and powder blue.
Get yourself an organizer, or one for a gift, now, and always be organized and on your travels. Purchase on Amazon or on Serenity's website.

How much better would your flights be with one of these?

Show Serenity Organizers some love. Follow them online on their socials or check out their website

Disclaimer: I was given the Serenity Tray Organizer for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. ***  Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: Cheat Sheets Laundry Sheets

As you know, I am a big advocate of packing light and doing laundry on trips, in order to maximize the small space you have. A small capsule wardrobe can really become a larger travel wardrobe when you mix and match and a lot of times that means you'll have to do a bit of laundry. Of course, you may just need to do laundry in an emergency situation, as we did when we found our washing machine didn't work in Edinburgh.

Cheat Sheets laundry sheets are great for travel, because they take up no space and you don't have to hope the laundromat has affordable detergent.

I always travel with some laundry sheets and a pop-up hamper. Laundry sheets are great for travel, because they take up almost no space and you don't have to hope the store or laundromat has affordable detergent, or detergent at all. And if you only need to do a few things in the sink, they usually aren't great for that, but Cheat Sheets are different. 

Cheat Sheets are fast dissolving and don't do big suds, so you can easily do a hand wash in the sink and your items don't take forever to rinse. Depending on how much you need to wash, you can use a half or whole sheet. I used a half sheet for these few items that I've taken on trips before and they were fresh and clean at the end. 

Here's a time-lapse video of me washing my few pieces in our small sink. As you can see, there are no visible suds, but you could see that the clothes were getting clean, as the water was dirty, and I rinsed until it ran clear, then squeezed out as much water as possible. 

I found these sheets way preferable to sink washing with other products I've used before, since it didn't take me forever to rinse them out and I could tell they were clean before I started rinsing them, due to the low sudsing.

Because I don't normally hand wash my clothes, I tried All Purpose Cheat Sheets out in my washing machine, too. The great thing about laundry sheets is that you can use them in regular or high-efficiency machines without changing anything or using a special kind for one over the other. You are meant to start your water and toss in a sheet, then add your clothes once it has dissolved, but since these are so quick to dissolve, I threw my sheet in on top of my full machine. 

Not only did it dissolve without leaving any trace behind on my clothes, it washed the whole load of laundry as well as any of my normal detergents have. 

Other reasons you should invest in Cheat Sheets for your travels (and at home):

  • No messy liquids, which also means you aren't restricted to 3.4oz limit.
  • Everything is pre-measured, so you always know how many loads you can do with what you have.
  • They're eco-friendly and biodegradable! No microplastics go into the ground water and sheets come in an easily-recyclable cardboard container.
  • They're hypoallergenic, for those of us that are allergic to everything and have to be careful of the detergent we buy because of sensitive skin.
  • Free of harsh chemicals you want to avoid: phosphates, fluorescer, dyes, sulfates, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, parabens, and more unnecessary additives. 
  • They work equally well in hot or cold water.
  • They don't add any weight to your luggage!
Cheat Sheets come in 3 formulas. (The Sea Spray fragrance is very light and clean, so if you're sensitive to smells, this shouldn't bother you at all.): 
  1. Gentle: for all your unmentionables. This comes in Sea Spray and Fragrance Free
  2. Swim: for all the damaging chlorine you picked up at the pool. This comes in Sea Spray
  3. All Purpose: for all your normal clothing that doesn't need gentle care. This comes in Sea Spray
Get your own either on Amazon or the Cheat Sheets website. Your purchase will support a woman-owned business.

Have you been looking an easier way to do laundry on vacation and at home?

Disclaimer: I was given the Cheat Sheets Travel Sheets for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. ***  Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Planning Your Summer Travels

It's that time again. Time to start planning your summer travels, if you're going somewhere. Don’t wait until the last minute, because that’s when you’ll pay the most. Airfare alone can jump as much as 40% during the summer months, so here are some tips to help keep you in the black this year and have an amazing time:

It's that time again. Time to start planning your summer travels. Don't wait until last minute and end up shelling out buckets of cash.

Shop for airfare on Tuesday and Wednesday and look for flights that depart on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday for the lowest fares. New fares are posted every Tuesday and Wednesday are the perfect time to get the best deals, and when you fly on less popular days, you can pay less and have a better chance of not getting bumped off your flight due to overbooking. One thing that'll make you happy is that this summer, flights will be the cheapest they’ve been in seven years. Of course, that doesn't mean you should slack and leave booking until later. You still need to get on that ASAP.

Go early

 If your kids get out of school sooner the rest of the country, take advantage of your good fortune and vacation before the second week in June. Many schools have release dates in May, so if you can take time off before Memorial Day weekend, you can save a ton. The middle of June through the middle of August is going to be the most expensive time to travel almost anywhere, and the most crowded.

Go somewhere different 

Your kids are always going to want to go to theme parks or the beach during the summer, but by changing up your destination, you can actually save a little or a lot of money. If they insist on going to the beach, look for lakeside resorts near where you live. Most still have a beach and everything that goes along with it, unless surfing is on the agenda. Other ideas are to visit cold-weather destinations or South America. The Southern Hemisphere experiences winter during our summer, making it a less desirable place to vacation. Less desirable equals more affordable. South America is close, but there are so many different places to choose from that are amazing, tropical and super budget-friendly.


Airfare can become a costly burden if there are many of you traveling. If you can spare the extra travel time, take a good old fashioned road trip to get to your destination. Make sure to plan fun stops along the way, like to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn, ghost towns or museums. It makes the whole trip seem like an adventure if you don’t just drive straight through. 

A pic from our boat tour of Portland

Plan a staycation 

If everything just seems too far out of budget this time of year, opt to do things around your own town and take your vacation over holiday break. Prices will be lower, most destinations will be less crowded and you will be able to see and do more than in the summer. Need some ideas for your planning? See my staycation post and check out my staycation board on Pinterest.

Don’t forget your cash back! 

Help keep a little money in your pocket or stretch the dollars you have by using Rakuten to book your flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. You can even get cash back for buying essentials like sunscreen and shorts! It's totally free to join and it's super easy. In fact, they give you a gift just for making your first purchase. How can you beat that?

Plan ahead

Start planning for a cheap summer trip next year by picking up my Secrets to Summer Savings ebook. I give you all my travel saving tips to make summer travel cheaper and packed with more fun.

Don't forget that traveling light can save you a lot of money in the long run, too. At the very least, you'll save $70 by not checking a bag on your roundtrip flight. More if you're an overpacker. Here's how I packed for a whole week in a backpack and here's how I pack my toiletry bag.

Where will you be going for your Summer vacation?

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Packing Light: Tips for Your Toiletry Bag

After posting about how I packed a week's worth of clothes in a backpack, I promised you a post on how to pare down your toiletries. I have been working on bringing fewer or smaller things on my trips when I travel, which might be difficult for those who want to take their whole routine on vacation with them. Even when I do more than usual, I still don't use too many products.

After posting about how I packed a week's worth of clothes in a backpack, I promised you a post on how to pare down your toiletries.

I find that doing things more simply when I'm away from home both gives my skin a break when I'm also getting more exercise, so I am not dealing with extra breakouts, and I don't have to keep track of so many things that I'm scrambling to fit it all back in a bag when I have to pack up to go home. That bag won't be so big that I need a larger carry-on or suitcase to fit everything I need, so fewer, smaller things helps me pack lighter overall, which in turn saves me time and money.

I rounded up all the things I normally use at home. These are all full sizes and I chose the three eyeshadow palettes I use most often, sometimes I mix and match. Even one of those palettes would take a lot of space in my toiletry bag, so I tend to go with smaller ones when I travel, though they don't usually have as fun colors and I'm more than likely will use neutral colors most of the time I'm away. 

I've also included what I use for my hair and my eyecare. I didn't include my shampoo and conditioner, but I replace those with solid bars when I travel. I've got some favorites from Lush, and I will chop them in half or thirds, so they take up less room, but I will also keep them in a metal tin, and that doesn't have to fit in my toiletry bag, because it's spill- and waterproof. 

Deodorant is easy to downsize. Every brand has a smaller, travel option usually. I bounce between several brands, so I'm not super picky when I buy a new small one for my travel bag. If you are, then check out alltravelsizes or Minimus for your favorites if you can't find them at the store.

Contact solution goes a long way. I've been on the very last squeeze for three days, so I know the smaller one is going to last me a week or more, even with two of us sharing. I'm not opposed to buying this when I get to my destination, but I'm cheap and it's harder to find solution some places, like Europe. When we accidentally left a bag of bathroom stuff behind going to Paris from London, we had to go to an optometrist in Paris to buy contact solution. And if you're beholden to the 3-1-1 bag rule, you definitely can't bring a full size bottle on the plane.

I'll compromise on a lot of things, but I refuse to use bar soap...anywhere. I hate it. So, I find a fun body wash and use that on trips until it's empty and then I find a new one, or I put a favorite one in a GoToob, and then I can refill it over and over, and it doesn't leak. I have upgraded my travel bag to include a small pump soap dispenser that I fill with foaming hand soap and it has changed my whole travel experience. It's a small thing, but doesn't make me hate washing my hands in my room anymore.

Before I got TSA PreCheck, I was tired of having half a tube of mini toothpaste with me when I got home and not wanting to take two with me on the next trip, so I wasn't wasting that half tube, so I started using toothpaste tabs. I've tried multiple brands, but I really like Bite, because they work much better than others, taste better, and come in glass bottles that can be recycled or reused. I bite one in half, so I get two brushes out of one, because they are so efficient and foam up really well.

I have brought along a folding toothbrush for a long time, but I highly recommend these by Dr. Plotka's. They use silver to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and fungi, so you don't have to worry about replacing it after you used it for 2 weeks and then didn't travel again for 3 months and left it in your bag...or what might be on the hotel bathroom counter. It closes, too, so it's easy to not have your wet brush head touching other things in your bag.

My hair is really thick and frizzes in the slightest humidity, so I use a hair honey on it that is made for Black hair. It smells nice and it doesn't take much to get my hair to cooperate and look like I'm a person. This big jar lasts forever, so I always have about half a tablespoon in one of these small GoTubbs

I also find that a good setting spray for my makeup gets it to last all day long, with minimal touch-ups. You want to look good in pics. This is another product I keep trying new ones for at home, but the Urban Decay is tried and true, so that's the one that goes on trips with me. I don't want to find that all my makeup melted off halfway through a 12-hour bout of sightseeing where I'm taking public transport.

My skin is sensitive, but I'm also over 40, so I need some extra skincare when traveling. I use a tinted moisturizer with priming in it, but also a separate hydrating primer on certain areas, like under my eyes. My skin is combination, but the dry areas are super dry, and I find that hyaluronic acid is helpful under all my makeup. I don't need a lot of any of these things, but I still need them. I decant moisturizer into another small GoTubb and the other ones that I need even less of into a contact lens case. These are perfect for small amounts of liquids, because you know they aren't going to accidentally leak and they take up hardly any room.

I am much more particular about my foundation and when I find a good one, I stick with it forever. Luckily, this one comes in a travel size, but if it didn't, I'd probably use a GoTubb for that, too. I really like Ulta for travel sizes for my toiletry bag, because they have a lot of things in smaller sizes and often have sales. I'm less particular about my mascara, but I usually try to choose one for travel that lasts all day and is waterproof. You never know when you're going to get caught in a downpour. Waterproof ones are better for staying on all day long.

I have a ton of different blushes and eyeshadows, but I'm not taking all of them with me on a one-week trip, where I probably won't use 98% of them. I've upgraded to this face palette, which has a bronzer, highlighter, and two cheek colors, but I will mix and match to use them as eyeshadow, highlighter, and blush. This is the only way you can usually get a good brown and complimentary pinks, and those are the colors I like to blend on my eyes. Between a primer and a setting spray, these work pretty good wherever you want to use them. I always bring a kabuki style brush for blush, and I have two generic brushes for eyeshadow that barely take up any room. I shove them in the bottom of my toiletry bag with one or two eyeliners.

More often than not, I have a bag full of lip colors that I choose from each morning, but they don't last all day. I hate thinking about reapplying when I'm busy doing things, so now I just bring my favorite color of Covergirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color. It actually does last all day long and I only need to have whatever lip balm I'm into with me, because sometimes my lips get dry, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with this lip color.

So, I went from all that stuff up on top to just these pieces now. A few are the same things, like the charcoal scrub, my compact (though sometimes I just take the one that's normally in my purse), and eye drops. 

In addition to these things, I bring along a travel hair straightener and I feel organized and like I can keep track of everything. Another plus: if I accidentally leave any of these things behind and they don't make it home with me, I haven't left a $20-40 item, because I never brought a full-size container in the first place. At most, I'm out a small portion of product, and that can easily be replaced.

I hope this helps you pack a little more thoughtfully and smaller when you travel, so you don't have to check a bag just to accommodate your toiletry bag.

What's your biggest struggle when trying to pare down on your toiletries?

Disclaimer: Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Review: Pursesuitz Pocketwear Tank

I don't know about all the other ladies out there, but I'm so tired of pockets in women's clothing either being super shallow or non-existent. Sometimes, you just don't want to carry a purse or other bag, or you aren't allowed to bring one into a venue, but your pockets are insufficient for keeping things inside or secure. 

What's a girl to do when her pockets are neither big or secure enough to hold things? We get a Pursesuitz Pocketwear Tank.

More than once I've put something in the pocket of my jeans only to sit down and for it to fall right out. Cool. The only useful pocket is a back pocket where I put my phone, but I'm 100% not putting anything else in there, not just because my phone is already in there. So, what's a girl to do? Well, we get a Pursesuitz Pocketwear Tank, of course. 

One of the new companies I met at the Travel Goods Show was Pursesuitz, founded by Barbara Zabawa. Barbara was also tired of never having sufficient pockets, so she did something about it and created a high-quality tank that has two large kangaroo pockets. They stretch across the whole bottom portion of the tank. She sent me home with a tank and I wore it on the way home and have worn it several times since. 

The tank has a compression feel and makes a really good base layer. This enables it to sit closer to your body and not look bulky under anything you're wearing over it. The hem also has these elastic rows in order to keep it from rolling up or flopping around. I love it, because it helps keep you covered and doesn't scrunch up around your waist. Today, I just wore it under my favorite hoodie, like a regular tank top. 

How big are these pockets? And how do they keep your stuff inside? Well, they're pretty large. You can put your passport in there if you want. Your big phone will too. Honestly, I don't know how they keep your belongings in. I'm obsessed with the pocket technology, honestly, because they somehow just suction closed like Velcro, but are super soft and make a really satisfying little "shoop" sound that's super quiet. 

I turned up the volume as high as I could and still couldn't hear it on my video above, so nobody around you is going to hear it, and possibly not even you. I DID make everyone I know feel the inside of the pockets, because the closing technology is so cool.

I wanted to prove how awesome this tank is. I'm wearing a small and you can definitely size up if you like a little more room, but know that it's not going to sit as close to your body with all your stuff. Notice how the stuff in the pockets don't even move, even while jumping around. 

Even with the tank not on my body, nothing falls out, such is the amazing pocket technology. Please ignore my intense facial expressions in these videos. Nobody told my face it was on camera. LOL!

If you're on one of those budget airlines and have to limit yourself to a personal item size, this tank can help you hold more things on your person when a purse or belt bag would count as a second bag and cost you extra money.

Gotta keep hand sanitizer handy on the plane

Other cool things about this tank top: 

  • It's made of recycled polyester/spandex
  • It's machine washable
  • It's moisture-wicking
  • It's wrinkle-free
  • It comes in two colors so far - black and gray
  • It comes in sizes Small to 3X, so people of all sizes can wear it

you can't even tell I'm wearing a tank with things in the pockets

It's not just perfect for travel, where you don't want to carry a purse through the airport or on the plane, but you can wear this for all these other activities:

  • A sporting event or concert where no bags or only stadium bags are allowed
  • A festival, where having a purse is annoying
  • Taking your dog for a walk
  • Going for a run or to the gym
  • Sightseeing in crowded areas where pickpockets are prevalent
  • When on public transportation
Stop carrying items around in your bra and keep them in convenient pockets instead. There's so many reasons you'll want to have one or more of these comfy tanks in your closet. I'll definitely be keeping one in my travel bag. It's a perfect layering piece, so can be worn in a variety of situations, too. 

Get yours now and support a great woman-owned travel brand, while adding a valuable piece to your travel (and everyday) wardrobe.

How would you wear this awesome tank?

Show Barbara and Pursesuitz some love. Follow them online and check out the other levels of compression tanks on her website

Disclaimer: I was given the Pursesuitz Pocketwear Tank for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Saving Money On the Las Vegas Strip

Last month, I took one of my yearly trips to Vegas. This was a short trip, because I was there for the Travel Goods Show, but I still took time to do some of my favorite free things and also splurge on some food and attractions I wanted to get to. 

If you're headed to Las Vegas, or thinking about visiting and worried about your budget, let me take you through some great free/cheap things for you.

If you're headed to Las Vegas, or thinking about visiting and worried about your budget, let me take you through some great free things to spend absolutely zero dollars on, except in gas or via Uber (or the Monorail, which I highly recommend):

Bellagio Conservatory

I love the Bellagio. There are some great places to eat, luxury shops where I enjoy window shopping, a video of upscale fashion shows, and it just has a good vibe. The stand-out for me is the lobby and the conservatory, which both change with the season. Anytime you go, there will be a different theme than the last time you were there. Even if the theme is the same, it will probably look completely different. Master gardeners create scenes using flowers, seeds, beans and more, which are combined with buildings, walkways, aviaries, and ponds inside a huge class-ceilinged area. 

It's open 24-hours and is completely free. It's a fantastic opportunity to get some lovely pics, and if it's busy, you'll be competing with plenty of other visitors doing the same thing. Don't forget to walk behind the main structure, as there's always something cool to see, and this is usually where I take selfies.

Flamingo Habitat

I love the Flamingo, the Linq and the Linq Promenade. It's one of my favorite areas of the Las Vegas Strip. If you're looking for a relaxing time just viewing some beautiful animals, head to the Flamingo's Flamingo Habitat. You'll find flamingos, pelicans (they have feeding times if you'd like to visit and watch), koi, catfish, turtles and more in a lovely little oasis, complete with flamingo fountain and waterfall.

Wynn Fountain

If you don't enjoy crowds or want to wait for the fountains to start over at the Bellagio, head down to Wynn for a smaller water show that runs 24/7. It's also right next to their waterfall, which gives a great backdrop for a photo op.

Palazzo Lobby & Canal Shoppes

Like the Bellagio, the Palazzo changes up their lobby decor based on season, as well as their decor throughout their side of the Canal Shoppes. Inside you'll also find a very tall waterfall feature and a reflecting pool. Continue through the Shoppes to the Venetian, where you'll be able to walk along Italian canals, over bridges and enjoy free entertainment, like people dressed as statues, as well as some fantastic musicians. 

The Park MGM

Don't get this confused with The Park at MGM, which is the hotel across the street. MGM Park is attached to New York New York and is a great outdoor area lined with eateries. That's not all though! There's a water walkway feature, places to sit, vendor kiosks and on some nights you can take in free local musicians or watch artists creating awesome things, like murals that are displayed downtown.

Streets of New York at NYNY

Some of the best features of the streets have been replaced with more gambling and slots, but it doesn't diminish the fact that you can feel like you're walking down actual streets in New York City and even feel like you're seeing a little bit of Times Square. Slow down and look around. Look up, because the balconies and windows have some cool details. I also love to take pictures of store fronts and myself on stoops. 

M&M World

If those candy-coated chocolates are a favorite of yours, you can view 3+ floors of merchandise, sponsored items like a racecar hood with M&M art, and candy gifts plus there's even a free movie featuring your favorite candies. You don't have to buy anything here if you don't want, and there are even some fun photo ops throughout.

Statues, Atmosphere, and Fall of Atlantis

I don't recommend gambling at Caesar's Palace, but that's a personal preference of mine since I never win anything there. I still pay a visit there, starting with a stop out front to the colorful prayer shrine, where I donate a buck or two and light a stick of incense to give me some luck (either it doesn't work at Caesars, or else I'm just giving money for my own enjoyment). Inside, there are tons of impressive Roman statues and architecture elements, and if you continue through, you'll end up in the Caesar shops, which is a big indoor shopping mall that looks like you're outside. 

Head to the very end and witness the free animatronic show The Fall of Atlantis. It's not good, but it's fun to see at least once. Hopefully, they will either revamp this show or repair the animatronics, because the people are in terrible need of it. Don't forget to check out the aquarium, which you'll find on the backside of this round and see what sort of sunken treasure you can spy while viewing the marine life.

Brahma Shrine

If you are looking to gamble or just need a little extra luck in your life, stop by the shrine outside of Caesars. Donate some change or a few dollars, light a stick of incense and say a little prayer. This shrine has a historical marker and has been a landmark outside of Caesars since 1984. I love stopping by and just soaking in a little bit of serenity. It's tucked in a little patch of bushes across from Hell's Kitchen, so it's quiet, except for the cascading of the nearby fountains.

There are lots of other things to see that aren't on The Strip, and I'll probably have another post up on those soon, because I think there are some great things to do in Las Vegas that aren't losing your money and/or drinking all day at the pool. 

Do you have favorite freebies in Las Vegas?

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Pack with Me: One Week In a Backpack

It's been a while since I did a pack with me post. Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas for the Travel Goods Show and I packed everything I needed in a backpack, because I'm a short, weak person, and I don't like to struggle to get my bag into the overhead on the plane. Now, I also brought a roller bag with me, because I knew that I would be bringing quite a bit of stuff back, but it literally only had a rain jacket in it. 

Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas and I packed everything I needed in a backpack. Here's how I did it if you need help packing smaller.

I posted this video on my IG and had people asking me how I do it, so I decided to do a whole post on it. I know a lot of people struggle with packing light, so I'm here to show you how I pack when I travel alone. This backpack fits under the seat and has a lot of organization. In fact, the bag I took (similar) is bigger than the one I am packing the same items in in this post. 

Here are some of my outfit of the day pics, because I like to see what I wore and what I didn't, but also I like to show you how to use your small wardrobe to mix and match options. As I said in my IG post, I packed more than I usually do on this trip, because I had a fancy dinner planned, but I also wasn't sure of the weather or what I might end up doing last minute, so I definitely didn't need a dress or one of my extra pairs of pants. I debated not bringing a rain jacket, but I'm glad I took it, because it rained 2 of the 5 days I was there and it barely took up any room. 

So, I brought 2 pair of pants and wore one. I am showing you all the tops I have (I substituted a 3/4 sleeve striped shirt for my Barbie/Harry Potter shirt here, because it goes with more and is something I normally take with me.

Here is everything with the jeans and then my miscellaneous items: a dress that looks like two pieces, a lightweight hoody, and an athletic jacket that looks good with everything. You should always bring along a few pieces that can layer, because sometimes the weather is colder than you expect. My jacket could go over all my tops and even my dress, but I could even layer a tee over the dress to give it a different look.

Here is my pajama set and then my plane outfit: jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirt, hoody, and not pictured is the athletic jacket that I left out in case the plane was chilly.

I only had two pairs of shoes with me and they went with everything. I wore the sneakers on the plane and the flats were easy to shove in any open space in my bag. Now, let's talk actual packing:

I'm a big user of packing cubes and I really love compression ones. There are a lot with breathable mesh sides, which are fine, but I don't think they do as great of a job as ones without the mesh. If you're just looking to be more organized, then any cube will work for you if it's the right size. I bought this set, because it came with a ton of pieces, but also a range of sizes. You never know what might work and these were cheap, but surprisingly well made, and had a fun design. Start with your packing cube completely expanded before your start packing it.

Then roll each item and do a layer of the bigger pieces on the bottom, the smaller ones on a second layer, remembering to use all the available space, and then I just folded my pajamas and laid them on top. You don't need to do that part if you don't want. These would have made my layers uneven, so I just wanted to keep it even. Also, nobody cares if my pajamas are wrinkly, especially since I was traveling alone.

Now, the exciting part: zipping it up and then zipping the compression part. You end up with a nice brick of clothing that's easier to manage and much easier to pack (passport for scale). 

I had a second, smaller, packing cube for my underwear, socks (including a pair of compression socks), and I put my makeup mirror on top before zipping it all up.

Here's what I ended up with for clothes and the smaller bag above them is for my charging cords. 

Here's a small sampling of my toiletries. This is my entire makeup palette though. Everything else in the bag is haircare, toothpaste/brush, contact solution, glasses, and shower needs. This Nomatic one that I picked up at the show is actually bigger than the Travelon one I took with me, so it takes up more space in a smaller bag. And now we move on to actually packing our backpack:

This backpack has a lot of fun pockets. I used them to organize all the things I usually take with me: a power bank and cord for use in the airport or on the plane, a pair of sunglasses, my Flint lint roller, and my mini flat iron.

Here I've placed the bigger packing cube in the bottom lengthwise, then the smaller on standing up, so then I've made a space for my shoes. My toiletry bag goes on top of the big cube, then I added my electronics bag on top and a spare tote in case I need more room to bring things back with me.

Last, but not least, I put snacks in the outer front pocket, my laptop in the laptop compartment in the back, and then I used the removable straps on the bag to cinch down my rain jacket (because I normally wouldn't bring a second, totally empty, carry on with me. My everyday essentials go in a small handbag. I like this Travelon convertible bag, because it can be worn 3 ways: a crossbody, a shoulder bag, or a belt bag. My reusable water bottle goes in the side pocket and I'm ready to go.

That's it. I was able to take everything I needed, plus some extra pieces, and kept all my belongings with me from home, to car, to airport, to plane, to destination. My bag (minus the water bottle, which I put in the seat pocket, because I had a smaller leg space in the aisle) fit under the seat in front of me and I was able to easily get off the plane once we arrived. 

on my way home

I'll be doing another post soon on just toiletries and a whole review of this backpack and the toiletry bag. So, if you want to learn how to pare down your cosmetics and other essentials, it's coming in the next couple of weeks. And if you're looking for a new bag, this might be the one for you. I've also packed small for two people in a similar sized roller bag and personal item. If you can't carry a backpack for whatever reason, go check out that post.

What challenges do you face when trying to pack lighter?

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