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Month: April 2017

The best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip

The best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip

As someone who just got off her 79th flight this *year* a few hours ago (yes it is April 12, and I do mean since January 1), I certainly know a thing or two about packing a suitcase. It can be a little different packing for work-related trips compared to vacations but overall, similar principles still apply. So let’s talk about the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip.

This was taken on my honeymoon in Santorini, Greece.
Santorini, Greece where I spent my honeymoon

1.Use packing cubes

Packing cubes were honestly something I thought was totally unnecessary for a long time. It wasn’t until I was in Hawaii for 8 days with my friends in October and my friend Stephanie was using them that I realized it was something I needed to try. On that trip, I succeeded in not checking a bag, however my carryon was so stuffed that the second I unzipped my bag there was practically stuff everywhere in an explosion of bathing suits, underwear, dresses and toiletries. Not fun. And also not easy to find that one thing that I needed that was definitely at the bottom of the big ol’ pile.

This is where packing cubes come in. For the trip we just took to Hawaii last week, I was able to organize so much better. For this trip which was vacation, I had a cube for each: bathing suits, underwear/socks/bras, workout clothes, during the day clothes, and nice clothes. However when I travel for work, my cubes are slightly different: underwear/socks/bras/panty hose, workout clothes, non-work clothes, and work clothes.

One of my FAVORITE parts about using packing cubes is when I am going on vacation and I am not sure the size of the suitcase I am going to be taking…

Has this ever happened to you before… you figure out everything you are bringing, fold it up all nice and neat in your suitcase only to realize that you aren’t going to fit it all in? Then you have to unpack everything to move to a larger suitcase and inevitably the nice, neat piles you folded are now *not* in nice, neat piles anymore?

Your problem is now solved with packing cubes. Once everything is packed in the cubes you can just arrange the packing cubes in your suitcase, if they don’t fit, it takes less than 30 seconds and zero re-folding to move to a different suitcase. Eliminate that frustration, get packing cubes. I promise that using them is the best way to pack your suitcase. The kind that I have are currently $25.99 on Amazon so you aren’t looking at breaking the bank, but you certainly will be eliminating the frustration.

Here are the packing cubes that I have. However if you follow the link, you can see there are different colors (maybe if you are packing for two kids you might want two colors) and a variety of sizes. They are seriously the best way to pack your suitcase!

2. Pack with a list

Ok so going for full transparency, I do not utilize lists for my business trips. I practically pack the same thing over and over for these so it would be a bit of a waste. However, vacations are different so I absolutely use lists here. And unless you travel regularly, they really will be helpful for you as well.

Why spend time making a list when you could be spending that time packing? Well it will help you really think of everything. I have certainly been guilty of forgetting important things like socks, toothpaste, or my charger because I needed to charge up but I didn’t unplug it from the wall when I left on my early morning flight. And it’s not like you can’t purchase these things once you reach your destination, but this is taking valuable time out of your vacation.

The other important thing about lists is it will help you think of the things that you should bring that you don’t normally interact with on a day-to-day basis. For example, I have a GoPro that I don’t bring with me on work trips but I often bring it on vacation. Since I don’t see the GoPro regularly, it’s easy to forget about it when I am packing for vacation, especially if I am packing in a crunch.

3. Wrinkle-free clothing

People often argue about whether or not you should roll or fold the items in your suitcase to avoid looking like a hot mess when you arrive at your destination or spending an hour ironing everything. My favorite solution is to consider the items that I am packing and how wrinkle-prone they are and to just pack the items that are less likely to wrinkle during the trip. Side note: This maybe because I dislike ironing unless it involves me throwing something in the dryer, haha. If you are deciding between two shirts and you know that one of them will require ironing and one won’t, just pack the wrinkle free option!

4. Consider the weight and size of the items that you are packing

I am heading to Iceland in a few weeks and it will be colder there than it is where I live. Instead of packing my winter coat, I will be bringing it on the plane with me. My coat is big and it would take up too much space if I put it in my suitcase.

*As a reminder the FAA limits the number of items you can carry onto a plane to two; a carryon that fits in the overhead compartment like a roller board bag and a personal item such as a purse that fits underneath your seat.*

FAA restrictions aside, most airlines don’t give you a hard time about things like jackets or pillows, and these things are not [usually] included in your two item limit.

You should also consider the weight of the items that you are packing. For example, my husband wanted to bring his Carolina Blue Nikes on our trip to Hawaii since the Heels were in the Final Four (and won the NCAA championship…go Heels!). These shoes are heavyyyyy. Much heavier than his sandals that he was also bringing to Hawaii. He opted to wear these shoes, rather than his sandals onto the plane to save weight in the suitcase.

Cheering on our favorite tall drinks while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
Cheering on our favorite Tar Heels in the semi-final game against Oregon April 2017.

5. Think about security lines and restrictions

If you are just bringing a carryon on your next flight and you do not have TSA pre-check, or you are traveling through an airport that is not TSA pre-check capable, consider the security restrictions BEFORE you leave for the airport. The best way to pack your suitcase is to keep your liquids, gels, or aerosols (in your 3-1-1) bag in an outside pocket or on the very top of your suitcase. This will absolutely help you speed through security as you won’t have to dig for your bag of liquids and hold up the line behind you.

If you travel even a few times a year, I would certainly recommend looking into TSA pre-check. It is very nice not to have to go through the scanners, take your shoes off, or remove your computer or 3-1-1 liquids from your bag. It’s not that expensive and it is good for 5 years. It is also covered as part of some travel credit card benefits, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Hopefully these 5 tips helped you learn the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip. Do you have any pointers from your own travel experience? I would love to hear them in the comments! Also, for more travel-tips be sure to subscribe to my list so you won’t miss a post!

Currently reading: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

Currently listening to: “Relentless” by Tim Grover

Me at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Me at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

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How to find the best flight deals

How to find the best flight deals

After snagging two < $700 trips to Europe in less than six months, I have gotten a lot of questions about how to find the best flight deals. There are various loyalty programs for airlines and hotels as well as credit cards that you can utilize and I will write another post about those ways at some point. However, now I want to focus on the traveler who wants to know how to find the best flight deals without miles, credit card points, or loyalty status.

Austin and I on our most recent trip to Maui at Haleakala Crater.
Austin and I on our most recent trip to Maui at Haleakala Crater.

There are two ways that you can go about planning your travel when looking for deals…

1) Have set days and a flexible destination

OR

2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates

Now if you have both set travel days and a set travel destination, you can find several flight trackers that will let you know if/when the price drops. But for now, back to the deal finding.

1) Have set days and a flexible travel destination.

So you requested your vacation a year in advance and it’s something that cannot be changed? This is largely our situation when I am planning on going on vacations with my husband since he is a surgery resident and their vacation dates are planned up to 16 months in advance.

Your best friend in this situation is Google Flights. If you haven’t used Google Flights before, you are really missing out. You can read more about Google Flights here.

With fixed dates, I like to set my departing airport and dates in Google Flights and then for the destination you can put “Europe” or “South America”. From there you can peruse the destinations to see what comes up for you and your particular dates. This is exactly how we decided we were going to Paris because the dates we had for vacation were already set and the flight prices on those days were cheap.

google-flights-europe-input
This is what you will see when typing in google flights. Then you click on the picture that looks like a map.
google-flights-europe-map
This is what comes up when you click on the map picture under google flights and you are searching for European destinations. Here you can click on cities to view flight details.
google-flights-south-america-map
This is what comes up when you click on the map picture under google flights and you are searching for South American destinations. Here you can click on cities to view flight details.

Now let’s review the other scenario that you might have and how to find the best flight deals…

2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates

Have you been dreaming of a trip to Hawaii? London? Tokyo? For people with more flexible dates but with a great idea where you want to go, you have two routes. The first is to check out Google Flights again. On Google Flights you can put in your timeframe, picking say a week in October and then pulling up the calendar. When you have the calendar pulled up, you can see what days are cheaper. You can also use the flexible dates option where it will show you a graph of the cheapest days to leave and come back. Lastly with Google Flights you can set the number of days you would like to be gone for and then search by price using the Price Graph feature. Google Flights can also send you price notifications as well.

Using the calendar feature on Google Flights.
Using the calendar feature on Google Flights.
Using the flexible dates feature on Google Flights.
Using the flexible dates feature on Google Flights.
Using the Trip Planner feature on Google Flights.
Using the Price Graph feature on Google Flights.

The other option with flexible dates is to utilize Kayak. The best way to do this is from a computer rather than a tablet or a phone. Then google “cheap flights from [insert your home airport code/city] to [insert destination airport code/city]”. So for example, if I live in Salt Lake City and I want to go to Maui, I would google “cheap flights from SLC to Maui”.

From there, click on the Kayak link (may not be the first one or two results). Many websites have this function somewhat including Google Flights, but I really do like Kayak’s the best. From there you will see a nice price graph. The difference between this price graph and the one from Google, is that this is comparing trip prices across varying different lengths. Why is this helpful? Well if a 7 day trip flight price is $900 and an 8 day trip flight price is $650, odds are you would want to do the 8 day trip because it would likely be a cheaper overall option for you unless you are spending a lot of money on hotels.

kayak-slc-to-maui
How to find the best flight deals when you search on Kayak. You can scroll with the arrows on the bar graph to change the date time frame.

Hopefully you are now ready to book your next trip. Make sure you check out my pictures from Hawaii and subscribe to my list to get more travel tips. Have any other tips you have found for how to find the best flight deals without using miles, credit card points, or loyalty status? Leave them in the comments!

Cheering on our favorite tall drinks while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
Cheering on our favorite Tar Heels while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
How to find the best flight deals
Kaanapali Beach from the Hyatt Regency.
How to find the best flight deals
Kaanapali Beach from the Hyatt Regency.
How to find the best flight deals
Enjoying a nice walk on the beach
How to find the best flight deals
Austin enjoying the beach.
How to find the best flight deals
Second angle.
On the beach!
On the beach!
Before yoga on the beach
Before yoga on the beach
Luau ready
Luau ready

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The incredible view from the swim up bar at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
The incredible view from the swim up bar at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
Heels win the championship!
Heels win the championship!
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Austin at the Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Me at the Haleakala National Park
Me at the Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Along the Road to Hana
Mama's Fish House drink. Our meal and drinks were amazing! *Side note* The bartender mentioned he averages 1000 drinks per day and there are two different bars in this restaurant!
Mama’s Fish House drink. Our meal and drinks were amazing! *Side note* The bartender mentioned he averages 1000 drinks per day and there are two different bars in this restaurant!
Sunset outside of Mama's Fish House.
Sunset glow outside of Mama’s Fish House.

Currently reading: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

Currently listening to (I actually JUST finished it as I was typing this): “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero ****If you haven’t read or listened to this book yet, PLEASE do. This is somewhere around the 10th time in the last year I have read/listened to it and it is SUCH a great book. Very influential mindset wise. I always get something new out of it each time.


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