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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Don't Forget to Pack This One Thing for Summer Trips

There are a lot of things you should pack for your summer travels, like sunscreen and shorts and your bathing suit, but there's one thing that's much more important than anything else to a successful trip: your patience. Yes, this sounds like I'm telling you that summer travel will be annoying, and, shockingly, I am. 

Summer travel will be annoying, so make sure you bring this one important thing wherever you go.

How do I know? Because Summer travel is always annoying. There are too many people everywhere, things cost more than usual, traffic is bad, and there are kids everywhere. (No offense to kids. I could say the same about drunk adults or incredibly rude people.) Know that things are going to be challenging and plan for it ahead of time.

If you're flying, then get to the airport early, even if you have Precheck or Global Entry. If you haven't booked your flights yet, you need to get on it ASAP. Try to book the earliest flight in the day that you can afford, so you may sidestep the worst of the delays that start in earnest in the afternoons. 

Speaking of, there are still staff shortages at all the airlines and at the airport, so delays and cancellations will happen. Generally, flights get overbooked, which makes travel in the summer rougher than usual, because most flights are at full capacity and getting bumped is more common than the rest of the year. Check in with your flight as soon as you're allowed (I always have the airline app on my phone, so I get a push notification to remind me when check-in is open, and I can do it quickly and easily, no matter where I am).

This is another reason to get to the airport early. You don't want to be the last person through security for your flight, because the odds of you getting bumped are much higher then. Build in extra time to get there and have entertainment to keep you busy, or plan on getting a meal post-security or using other amenities, like a yoga room, movies, or looking at art. 

Pack light, so the possibility of your bag not getting to your destination with you drops to nearly zero. Not only will you save time and money, but if you get delayed or your flight gets cancelled or rerouted, you have all your belongings with you. There's nothing worse than having to spend the night somewhere and not having an extra change of clothes, toiletries, or other necessities when you need them. 

Invest in travel insurance or check your coverage through your credit cards. Things happen and it's not always optimal. If your travel gets cancelled or you lose days due to a delay, you should be covered.

The plane hasn't even stopped, but there's a line to get off. *sigh*

Let's circle back to patience. Though all of the above things will require it, try to keep your composure and stay chill. Travel can be stressful for a lot of people and when things change, it makes it worse. Remember that it's not the airline crew and gate agents' fault when things go wrong or are delayed. Be nice when you ask them to help you rebook or change seats or whatever else. People are rude to them all day for just doing their job, please don't make it harder on them. 

So, yes, things will take longer, cost more, and be generally more annoying, but knowing that ahead of time and planning for it can help you relax and travel better. Even with the crew shortages and fewer flights to choose from over the last few years, my travels have been fairly normal and all the big annoying things have been things out of my control and have still worked out in the end. Breathing through it and not overreacting, even when I feel like it, is always the best choice.

Once you make it through the airport and get to your destination, annoying things may continue when you have to wait in lines for attractions or get your rental car or visit a museum. So, patience - don't leave home without it!

How do you try to keep your travel days from getting the better of you?

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Live Your Bridgerton Dreams

If, like much of America, you have gotten caught up in the gossip and drama of Bridgerton - the period series about well-to-do British families with amazing instrumental covers of modern pop songs - then you might also be loving all the filming locations featured in the show. I know I am. Everything is so vibrant and gorgeous that it makes me want to put on a poufy floral gown and stroll the countryside. Here are 7 filming locations where you can indulge your own Bridgerton dreams:

If, like much of America, you have gotten caught up in the gossip and drama of Bridgerton, here are 7 filming locations to indulge in.

Even if you aren't interested in walking in the dainty steps of this amazing show, this would still make an amazing visit to England, full of pretty affordable activities and beautiful backdrops to take some truly spectacular photos, sure to make all your IG followers jealous of your fancy travel life.

Are you watching (and loving) the new season of Bridgerton? I'm so happy we're finally seeing Penny's story, along with some new flattering looks for her. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Celebrating the Achievements and History of Asian Americans

Our country is a melting pot of culture and that's what makes it the amazing place that it is to live in and visit. While not all history is great history, it is still important and can really help you learn why we do things we do, because tradition comes from somewhere, and oftentimes it comes from immigrants or those that came to this country through slavery. Just like Europeans took this land from the Natives, they also took their cultures, language, foods, and music as their own.

This month is all about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage, so here are some things you can do to learn more of it

Now, maybe that sounds depressing, but it is also wonderful to learn where each thing came from and to celebrate those that created the things we enjoy. Also, think about how bland our food would be without spices that came from other places or how boring our music would be without any outside influence. This month is all about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage, so here are some things you can do to learn more of it:

Visit a museum in person or virtually
A lot of museums are showcasing AAPI artists. Sometimes, art can really speak to you about an artist and their life. Here are a few exhibitions that you can view in the coming months. If you can't travel right now, there are some museums that offer virtual tours:

Look for local festivals
So many large cities have festivals throughout the year, many of which are a celebration of different ethnicities. Check listings in your city to see if you have a lantern lighting or a dance troupe or a market before the end of the month. Of course, I recommend engaging with the community all year long, because you will only be better for it and learn some cool things.

Support AAPI businesses
I'm really lucky that where I live, right outside of Portland, a ton of Asian-owned businesses have popped up. I frequent several Asian- and woman-owned coffeeshops, eat at many Asian-owned restaurants, and have access to some wonderful Asian-owned shops. Check out LA's Thai Night Market. Another way you can do this is by shopping for travel goods from some great companies:
  • Calpak - Luggage and other bags
  • Lo & Sons - Carry-on totes
  • Copper Cow Coffee - Pour-over coffees for those on the go
  • Cadence - Travel containers for your toiletry bag
  • Tatcha - Skincare inspired by Japanese beauty methods
  • Tower 28 - Makeup and beauty items that are made for everyone, but specifically for those with eczema
  • Serenity Organizers - Tray or seat organizers to make your flights less annoying

Listen to Asian-American podcasts
I listen to a lot of different podcasts, from educational, to political, to real game play. Sometimes I will stumble upon some gems through other podcasts that I wouldn't otherwise have listened to. If you're looking for some new ones to broaden your horizons, check these out:
  • They Call Us BruceHosts Jeff Yang and Phil Yu present They Call Us Bruce, an unfiltered conversation about what's happening in Asian America.
  • Asian America: The Ken Fong PodcastKen Fong gets to the heart of Asian American culture, history, and spirituality. Through interviews with culture-makers and -shapers in the Asian American community -- some you know, others you've never heard of before -- prepare to laugh, cry, and be amazed.
  • The Asian American AthleteThe Asian American Athlete is a podcast that celebrates Asian American athletes and Asian Americans in the sports world.
  • Worst Asian PodcastA comedy podcast hosted by a couple Asian American millennial best friends. We have fun chatting about what it means to be Asian including what's trending in relevant Asian news, society, culture, lifestyle, comedy, movies, entertainment, and everything else in between.
  • But Where Are You Really From?Hosts and life-long best friends Angela Lin and Jesse Lin explore their identities as Asian-Americans through the lens of their first-generation upbringings and how those influences have shaped how they see the world and their place in it.
  • Asian EnoughIn this podcast from the L.A. Times, hosts Jen Yamato and Frank Shyong chat with celebrities about the joys and complexities of being Asian American, and invite their guests to share personal stories and unpack identity on their own terms.
Now, finish out your May strong and a little smarter about the world around us. Maybe you can also start planning a trip somewhere you've learned about. I'm hoping to get to Japan in the next 5 years. What Asian countries are you planning to travel to?

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, May 18, 2024

Your Best Summer Staycation

If you can't afford a summer vacay this year, you aren't alone. Summer is, notoriously, the most expensive times to travel, though there are some places where it is the off season and more affordable. I wrote about a handful in my most recent newsletter*, but you might also be saving for a bigger/better trip later in the year. If you are, then take advantage of a staycation this summer.

If you can't afford a summer vacay this year, you aren't alone. You can take advantage of a staycation instead.

We got real good at staycations during the pandemic, because it made us creative. If you need some ideas on how to make this summer your best yet, read on:

Take a drive

There are probably tons of places near you that you haven't been. Gas/charge up your car, pack a cooler with drinks, snacks, and sunscreen, then drive to somewhere nearby for the day or overnight. We used to do this a lot when I was a kid, because we didn't have money for a full-on vacation, but we had money to go out for the day and drive somewhere new. We explored a lot of places 1-3 hours from home and I think I may just start doing this more often now, too. You don't have to have a plan, but I'm sure there are places you've wanted to see, but just haven't gotten there yet.

Take a walk

I've found that when I do a walking tour in my city, I see it a totally different way and I learn a lot of new things. Now, you can totally book a professional tour, which I highly recommend, but if you're looking to save money, you can find free tours in most large cities. You are only expected to give a tip at the end. You can also do a self-guided walking tour through an app like GPS My City. 

See a free concert

Summertime is the best time to get outside and oftentimes the sunny weather comes with outdoor concerts and other entertainment. Check your local listings for a way to get out and do free things. I enjoy Shakespeare in the Park. 

Do a museum tour

When's the last time you went to a new (to you) museum in your city? Maybe a historical building or home? Make a point to visit some that you haven't been to or haven't been to in a while. My goal right now is to go to our Japanese American Museum, but I also haven't been to the Portland Art Museum in a long time, so I hope to get to both of those at some point. If museums aren't for you, go on a street art crawl or visit a sculpture garden, if there is one of those near you. 

Plan some park meetups

City parks can be varied and have totally different vibes, even in close proximity. Get a group of friends together and meet up at a different park each time. Ask everyone to choose their favorite one and plan a get together around that. Everyone can bring a food to share and you can do a picnic and a stroll. 

Hit up your nearest National Park

As you know, I'm not the outdoorsy type, but I know a lot of people are and getting outside is important to them. So, find your nearest National or State Park and go for a hike. If that's not really your thing, switch it up for your nearest arboretum or botanical garden.  

Drink some wine

Now, I'm not a big wine drinker, but even I love a good tasting room. If you're lucky enough to live near a winery (or several), make a day of visiting and exploring the area and drinking some of what they make there. Pretend you're in the French countryside or even in Napa Valley. Some places have buses that will take you out to the vineyards, so you don't have to drive yourself and can drink as much as you want. Remember to drink a lot of water though, because alcohol is dehydrating. If wine isn't your thing, see if there's a local brewery or distillery tour near you. I've got the Aviation Gin distillery tour on my list.

Start a destination dinner (or brunch) group

Get a group of friends who also can't afford a trip somewhere more exciting and rotate choosing a destination to feature for a potluck. Decorate for the destination, crank some appropriate tunes, have each person bring a native dish, and play games where you learn about the place. You can even dress up or teach each other some useful words in a new language. I'm a nerd and always print out some fun facts to put around the party or on the table.  Make it easier by subscribing to Try The World and get 20% off their Summer Food Tour Vacation with code VACAY20.

Go glamping in your backyard

When you want to camp, but you also like the luxury of a bathroom and not sleeping on the ground, set up a tent in the backyard, throw some string lights around, drag some cushions and blankets out there and maybe a small table, then play games, listen to music, have a meal or two delivered, and maybe put up a movie screen and create your own open-air theater. 

Eat around the world at food trucks

If your city has a good food truck scene, then choose a handful that make entirely different cuisines and make a point to hit up as many as possible. You may not get to visit the destinations themselves, but you can enjoy some of their traditional foods, at least. If you're lucky, you can find several in one cart pod, order several things from each, and then everyone can sample some of each dish. I'm a big fan of eating this way.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to make your summer an awesome and budget-friendly one, even if you have to stay home for the moment. I find that June and July are always packed full of things that one can do, which can be overwhelming and give you a bit of decision fatigue. Portland seems to want to pack as much as possible in the summer months to make up for the rest of the year, when there is either a lack of options or it's cold or rainy or both, making it less than optimal to be outside for that long.

What are some of your favorite ways to staycation?

*this is the sort of extra content you miss if you aren't getting my newsletter. If you subscribe and want this last edition, reply to your confirmation and I'll send a link to you.

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, May 15, 2024

Travel & Live Better with SpectraSpray

When I start planning for a trip, there are certain things that I don't leave home without, and there are things that I often keep in my carry-on, and some of those things go in my personal item when I'm on a long-haul flight. Anything that can help me stay healthy is a plus, especially now when you can contract so many different things on a trip when you're coming into contact with more people than normal.

SpectraSpray helps me make the most of my trip, so I can spend my time enjoying my destination instead of being sick and/or tired. Here's how:

SpectraSpray helps me make the most of my trip, so I can spend my time enjoying my destination instead of being sick and/or tired. It can help you, too. SpectraSpray is a woman-owned company that specializes in oral sprays for a wide variety of needs, but my must-haves are the Daily Defense pack and the Sleep Well pack. 

                      Look how easy this is! No water, no mess, no food required.

Daily Defense
When you're touching so many new surfaces, breathing in recycled air, eating less-than-healthy food, and doing more than usual, you need to take care of yourself in other ways. You need to make up those vitamins and minerals somewhere. Instead of packing giant multi-vitamins that are hard to swallow and also hard for your body to absorb efficiently, bring along some nice tasting, easy oral sprays. 

The Daily Defense set comes with a multivitamin spray and an immune spray. You spritz 4 times into the inside of your cheek and it quickly absorbs into your body. As with anything for travel, you want to start using it before your actual trip. About a week before you leave, start using both of these to help you build up your immune system. Immune also creates a barrier in your mouth to help defend against outside bacteria and viruses. 

I still wear a mask when I fly or do things in close contact with others, like concerts or sitting on transit. Between a mask and Immune spray, you're going to avoid getting that dreaded vacation ick. Add in Multi and you're also going to feel better about yourself, even when you haven't had a real vegetable in two days. You should still try to find some fruits and veggies, but you're at least bridging the gap here, and the high absorption rate means your body is actually getting all the nutrients from the spray. $39.95 + use code SHEREENTRAVELS

Sleep Well
This set is a lifesaver on vacation and at home. It comes with B12 Energy and Sleep Spray. Sometimes, jet lag can catch up with you or even just a general tiredness that comes with being on the go so much. Not only do I swear by the B12 Energy when I'm on a trip and need a little extra pep, I also keep one of these sprays in my locker at work for those after-lunch feel-like-I-need-a-nap times. You can, literally, use it multiple times a day, it doesn't give you crash like caffeine and sugar might, and it doesn't keep you awake when it's time to wind down either. And if you've been drinking, well, this can help you recover a bit quicker instead of nursing a hangover and losing a whole day to it.

Now you can seamlessly use Sleep Spray when you're ready for bed. It supports a natural, deep sleep cycle and doesn't leave you drowsy when you wake up. I use this on long airplane rides when I know I need to get on a different sleep schedule. It helps my body relax, so I can slip into a decent sleep. I also use this on the first night in a new place, when I usually have a lot of trouble drifting off. Eric is a really light sleeper and everything wakes him up, but with the Sleep Spray, he's able to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Getting better sleep means you can wake up refreshed and feel brand-new for your next day exploring a new destination. That's pretty priceless, in my opinion. $39.95 + use code SHEREENTRAVELS

Bonus: Ageless Beauty
SpectraSpray sent me their new liquid drops with Biotin and Collagen; two ingredients that promote healthy skin, nails, and hair. I've been using it for 2 weeks now and I feel like my skin has slowly improving. My hair and nails have always been strong. Ageless Beauty also supports your bones, muscles, and joints, an important thing to have as you get older. You take two dropperfuls a day (or 8 pumps, depending on how your bottle comes) and it has an interesting flavor. I'm ambivalent to it and just noticed it said it's supposed to be pineapple. I usually take it at nighttime before bed and put it under my tongue, like some other drops I had in the past. The flavor doesn't long-lasting, so by the time I walk into the other room to start my bedtime routine, I don't taste it anymore. $47.95 + use code SHEREENTRAVELS

Honestly, I refuse to take capsules, because they are often too hard to choke down and they don't feel like they work that well, and that's because your body doesn't absorb them as well as oral sprays, which are only outdone in efficiency by those given by IV, and, I don't know about you, but I don't have $150+ laying around for that treatment and especially not multiple times. Another benefit is that oral sprays don't make you nauseous, like you might get with traditional vitamin pills/capsules. You don't have to make sure you've just eaten, making them infinitely more convenient, too.

Not only that, but they don't taste bad. Most have a slight mint flavor that is nice and doesn't linger. Much better than that dirty herb flavor you sometimes (or all the time) get with supplements. If you don't enjoy it, it doesn't hang around. Give it a minute to absorb, and then chase it with some water. 

SpectraSpray makes vegan, organic, sugar-free, gluten-free, yeast-free, wheat-free, dye-free sprays to help you through every facet of your life. Not only are these sprays all natural and have the highest absorption rate, they can be used anywhere at any time, they're safe for everyone, are TSA-compliant, and there is no sugar, starch, wheat, soy, eggs, salt or dairy. Bonus: they're made in the USA.

You can buy each spray individually or you can buy them in sets. Individuals start at $17.95 and you can save by subscribing to your favorites. Check out their selection here and use the code SHEREENTRAVELS for 5% off.

Like what SpectraSpray is doing? Follow them on social media!
Disclaimer: I was provided with the Daily Defense, Sleep Well, and Ageless Beauty for the purposes of sharing with my readers. 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, May 11, 2024

Eco-Conscious Travel Tips

While travel doesn't always feel like it's great for the environment, especially when you're getting to your destination on a a huge plane that burns a ton of fuel, there are many things you can do to offset your travel carbon footprint. 

While travel doesn't always feel like it's great for the environment, there are many things you can do to offset your travel carbon footprint.

Pack Light

The less "cargo" that a plane carries, the less fuel it has to use. It might be negligible in relation to the weight of the plane itself, but every little bit helps, plus you'll feel like a rock star for being able to go straight from the plane to your hotel, because you don't have to wait at the baggage carousel like all those other suckers. Boom! You saved time and you saved money. If you need ideas on how to pack strategically, check out this post.

Bring a reusable water bottle

Stay hydrated, while also being environmentally conscious and not buying a bunch of bottled waters on your trips. I have a favorite. I will fill it half with ice and the other half with water at the beginning of the day and my water stays cold all day long and I usually even have ice long after my bottle is empty and I need to refill it. It's great, because it also saves you money too.

Skip the straw

So many places now are banning plastic straws, because they aren't recyclable and mostly just end up in the ocean, aspiring to become a part of that plastic island. If you travel  internationally, you'll notice that you don't even get offered a straw in many places. If you must have a straw, travel with a reusable one. I have several stainless steel and copper straws that I put in my purse to use when I'm out. If you hate the feel of metal, try bamboo instead or a silicone top for your metal straw.

Bring your own utensils

With the same idea about straws, I generally travel with a set of bamboo utensils. Why? Because I love eating at food trucks, but I hate plastic utensils...and there's never anyplace to recycle them (if they even are recyclable). There's also the fact that sometimes those plastic forks and knives are just not sturdy enough for the food you're eating. Have you ever had a fork just snap in half while trying to eat something heartier? Well, bamboo forks will never do that, plus, you can wash them and reuse them without worrying about BPA and degradation. 

If you don't care if you have a whole range of utensils, then check out these awesome travel utensils from Humangear. They're made for camping, but no one's going to bat an eye if you whip these out at the food trucks, especially in Portland.

Shop at farmers’ markets

Support local farmers, butchers, florists and artisans by shopping at open-air markets. Not only will you be putting money back into a community to help it thrive, you’re also keeping small businesses alive. By purchasing fresh ingredients that you can eat right away or do a little preparation with back at your lodging, you’re saving money over a traditional sit-down meal.

Eat at food carts

Another way to save on meals is to eat at food carts. They are the ultimate in budget dining, because they are basically a mobile kitchen. With their low overhead, (no seating, waiters, busboys, etc.) those savings are passed on to you. You also get to try local cuisine for less, and normally where there is one food cart, there are many. If your kids are picky, there is bound to be something they find appetizing within reasonable walking distance from your current cart.

Find sustainable restaurants

While not always budget-friendly, I try to look for restaurants who use local and seasonal foods. This means that your food doesn't have to travel far to get to you, plus you're getting the freshest dishes possible, so it's a win-win. There are lots of sustainable restaurants that pass their savings on to you, so not only are you getting awesome food, but you aren't paying more for it either. Locally-sourced food is a great way to really feel your destination as well.

Ebooks and apps

Guidebooks are awesome, but not only do they take up room in your luggage, what do you do with them when your vacation is over? Probably you recycle them, but what if you didn’t have to? You can pretty much get any book you want in digital format for your e-reader or smartphone. You can even “bookmark” important pages you know you’ll need. And there are a lot of apps that can give you directions, city tours, maps and even help you find attractions nearby. Many are even free! Going paperless can really make you feel lighter on your trips and allow you to feel better about all the information you’re toting around.

Walk or take public transportation

A big percentage of  travelers rely on renting cars or taking cabs when on vacation, but that’s not always economical. In most big cities, taxis are really expensive and just a few trips could add up to hundreds of dollars. Why waste all that money (and gas!) when you can just as easily walk to your desired destinations or take public transportation? If either of these options are feasible, then take the time to slow down and smell the roses. 

You never know what you’re missing until you get out and see things from the point of view of a local. You’ll get some fresh air, exercise and even find a hidden shop or café that you can come back to. This is also a great time to let your kids take the reins and learn to navigate the subway map or figure out the best walking route from your hotel to wherever it is you planned on going. And if you tend to get swollen ankles from tons of walking, then get yourself a pair of good compression socks for sightseeing or to wear when you get back to your room.

Stay in an eco-lodge

If you’re looking for alternative accommodations from your typical hotel, consider staying in an eco-lodge. They come in many different types, but strive to do their best to impact the environment as little as possible, with low-flow toilets, use of sustainable materials, farm-to-table programs and more. You will find that many are a lot more luxurious than expected and even more affordable. Be careful, though, as some offer electricity, while others do not. If lights after sundown are important to you, then make sure you confirm that it is included before you book.

Stay in an Airbnb

While this isn't necessarily eco-friendly all on its own, it comes with benefits built-in that you don't think about: there's no housekeeping, so unless you're washing all your linens and towels everyday, you're saving water. You can also opt to put your Do Not Disturb sign on your door instead, so you skip cleaning days that are unnecessary when you're staying in a hotel. Reuse things, save them from having to replace your half-used soap or shampoo. In the meantime, turn off as many lights as you can while you're in the room, and all of them when you leave for the day. These things still help in the long run.


Not all places recycling receptacles, which is disheartening, but I always have a second garbage bag that I use strictly for my recyclables and then I ask where I can take that at the end of my stay. I've been known to break things down and pack them home if I can't find a proper place to dispose of them. I'm not willing to toss things in the garbage unless there's absolutely no other choice. If you cruise, I have been told that everything goes into garbage cans and then there are crew members who sort out garbage from recycling. 

As a budget traveler that tries to do my part for the environment as much as possible, I’m always looking for new ways to save on my whole vacation. By just making the effort to get out and see your destination from a new perspective, you find different ways to experience your trips and change up your travel style a bit to make it more affordable and green at the same time. 

How do you travel green?

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!
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