Category: Travel

Travel Tuesday: Packing a budget airline personal item

August 28
No comments yet
*

I am a sucker for a deal. Like, I will go out of my way to save a few bucks no matter what. It is one of my best and worst traits. So of course, I have flown budget airlines. I just can’t resist $30 flights, can you blame me? But of course, that $30 fare does not include a checked bag or even a carry on. They always allow you to add one on, but for starting at $25 each way you know I’m not buying it.

Anyways, I have become a bit of an expert at packing for a long weekend in a free “personal item.” A personal item is defined as a purse, briefcase, or small backpack.  Below are the size rules on three popular budget airlines at of August 27, 2018.

Allegiant
16 x 15 x 7 inches
Frontier
18 x 14 x 8 inches
Spirit
18 x 14 x 8 inches

For the last few years I have been using an old bag that I was given at at work conference as my carry on. It was smaller than the requirements but it got the job done and was something I had around the house. With a few trips in the works I decided it was time to bite the bullet and pick out a bag that would last and be the exact perfect size so I could maximize my packing. I landed on this bag from Madewell. The dimensions are just right so I can stuff the bag and still fit it on Frontier and Spirit flights. I will want to pack a little lighter on Allegiant, but it will still be fine.

img_1371

Below is what I pack for a long weekend in my free personal item. This includes four summer outfits, pajamas, makeup, shampoo, and other personal items. In this trip I brought my large black water bottle to fill up past security, but I could skip that and buy a bottle of water at the gate if I needed the space.

img_1372

Note that I have a smaller purse in my bag. When you carry a personal item as your bag you do not get an additional purse. Because of this I throw one in my bag and pull it out later. This is another item I could skip depending on the trip, or I could find a smaller purse for these uses. I also utilized gallon sized zip bag to hold my clothes. I am starting to do this with the personal item bag to help keep things organized. I usually end up searching for something at the bottom of the bag at the airport and making everything in to a mess. This just makes it a little easier. Also please note I am on the small side so my clothes take up less room.

In this scenario the bag is packed for summer with simple outfits. I would wear jeans to the airport and carry a sweater as I always like to bring one when I travel. I’d also wear my larger shoes. If it was winter I’d fly in jeans and boots, carry my jacket, and pack extra sweaters and maybe jeans if I have to.

img_1373

I like to be as prepared as I can when I travel, but I also like to think of it as a time to practice working with what I have. I only bring the staples for makeup and often skip simple toiletries such as shampoo if I know it will be available where I am staying. I don’t like to spend a bunch of money on travel size stuff, but I do always have travel sized hairspray. That is one item that I have to have. Your list might be different depending on your needs.

Do you use a personal item as your suitcase when you travel? What are your favorite ways to maximize space in it?

Traveling Spirit Airlines? Read about my favorite tips.

RELATED POSTS

Travel Tuesdays- What I carry in my day bag

July 10
No comments yet
*

Today for Travel Tuesdays I wanted to share what I carry with me when I am out and about while traveling. I know a ton has been written about the essentials you must carry, but I like to keep things really simple so today I am sharing the few items I consider necessities.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about bags. When overseas or in a more dangerous place I always carry a crossbody bag that has a zip closure. This way a pick pocket cannot just reach in and grab something nor can they grab it off my shoulder. Also, I hold the bag in front of me when on the train or in other congested areas. I carry something similar to this one by Kate Spade.  Although backpacks are in right now, I do not suggest a backpack purse as you cannot see your belongings and they are too easy to steal from. As you can see, I like to carry an actual purse instead of a backpack or messenger bag. I like to blend in as much as possible and I think carrying a regular bag helps. When we do need more storage my husband brings a small black Timbuk2 bag that blends in well most places.

Ok, back to the contents. Like I said, nice and simple.

Before we leave I check my wallet and leave any unnecessary items at home. I keep a few credit cards, insurance info, my ID, and anything else I need. Other cards, especially work IDs and credit cards are left at home (unless traveling for work of course.)  I carry a small wallet, like this one when traveling as it holds the essentials without taking up too much valuable space.

During our trip to Europe, my husband carried both of our passports on his person. Although I did not have my passport on me I felt safe knowing I would not lose my passport if my bag was stolen. This worked for us, but if you need a passport decide for yourself the best way to carry it.

I like to carry a smaller  makeup bag with my personal essentials. I carry this at home too and just restock it for trips. This bag contains lipstick, eyeliner, tampons, medicine, (ibuprofen and Zyrtec), a pen, gum, a mini hair brush, and a hair tie. Having these items on me at all times helps to ensure a good trip. If I need an afternoon makeup refresh those two makeup items do it for me. You items could differ.

A reusable water bottle. Although I love my big fancy water bottles, when out for a long day or short on space I like to use a regular disposable water bottle as my container. They are lightweight, cheap, and disposable if needed. Refill whenever you see a safe water location. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Something to snack on. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and meal times change. Keep a small snack in your bag just in case. An apple, granola bar, or carrot sticks all work perfect. I usually carry enough for both of us.

If we have a heavy travel day I might toss in my Kindle Fire or headphones, but for just day to day exploring I leave those at the room.  Also, if I have a phone with a bad battery  I might bring a backup. Right now I have a new phone so the battery is great.

That is basically all that I carry. It is pretty similar to what I carry daily. If it works most of the time, why switch it up, right?

Do you carry anything unusual or different when you travel?

Travel Tuesday: Spirit Airlines tips

July 3
No comments yet
*

Last week for our trip to Maryland we flew Sprit Airlines. We have used this airline in the past, but this time I did a little more research to ensure we got the most bang for our buck on the flight.

After searching the internet and reading other blogs, I found out that you can get the best deal on Sprit Airlines by booking at the ticket counter at the airport. You can save up to $20 a person a flight by using this method. For us, that meant saving $80 on our weekend flight. Totally worth a quick stop at the airport!

As an example, here is a round trip flight from Orlando to Baltimore for two. Both flights are non-stop.

usage charge

The total includes a “Passenger Usage Charge” or $79.96 which you can avoid by booking at the airport.  Spirit does request that you purchase during “Preferred Ticketing Hours,” but does not state that you can’t get a ticket at other times. See the times here. Our airport’s preferred hours are between noon and 4pm so we went on a Saturday around 2pm. We did have to wait for a few travelers to check bags, but it was a pretty easy process. I could have gone alone and parked, or to save $2 and some steps I could have had Charlie drop me off at the ticket counter and make a loop around the airport and come back. The timing would have been just about perfect. At the counter the clerk seemed familiar with customers buying at the gate and showed us the flights available. I had checked the flights at home beforehand and knew what flights we wanted but we looked with her as well. The total cost at the gate can differ a little bit from what you see at home, but it seemed much lower and we were not charged the passenger usage fee.

For this trip we did not book seats. On all three flights Spirt seated us together and unless it is a long haul flight I am fine with being stuck wherever. Because this was a long weekend trip we just took the free personal item and packed everything we needed in that. For short trips that is all we really need. Both of us had extra space in our bags both coming and going.  I’ll talk more in a few weeks on how to get the most out of that bag.

Unfortunately  the one area we did not plan ahead well in is food. We did take smoothies to go as we left the house, but were both hungry as we were boarding the plane. Charlie bought a sandwich for which I do not even want to know what he paid. I need to start planning out snacks and meals to take as it helps cut costs and gives you one more healthy meal before you get to your destination. If you have great plane meal tips, send them my way! We usually just take granola bars, but I’ve seen people on planes eating entire meals from home.

The one food item I do like to buy at the airport is a coffee. I usually grab an iced coffee after we go through security and then drink it while we wait. Before we board I rise it out and refill it with water to help keep us hydrated during the flight. If you’re local to Orlando I highly recommend Zaza’s Cuban Cafe if you’re flying from Terminal A. The coffee is great and a great price.

Do you have any great tips for Sprit Airlines? I’d love to hear them.

Budget tips for spirit airlines flights.Save money and time with spirit.

RELATED POSTS

Travel Favorites

June 5
No comments yet
*

This week for Travel Tuesday I wanted to share a few of my favorite travel products. These are little things we have that really make our trips better. While we don’t buy tons of “travel stuff” we do have  a few items we love.

img_6890

First off is this travel pillow.  Before our trip to Europe earlier this year I bought a cheap little travel pillow. It was useless. Charlie bought this one in the airport and it was perfect. It packs down small and really makes sleeping on the plane possible. If you travel often and want to sleep on the plane this pillow is for you. It is a little expensive, but worth it.

We it comes to travel accessories, I like to stick to things that are still part of my usual wardrobe. I love over the shoulder bags, but when traveling, a crossbody feels much safer and is less likely to be grabbed off you. I also always travel with a zippered bag. Although pick pockets  can aways unzip it, it, it just feels like one more line of defense. I carry a bag similar to this one when traveling in unknown places.

Charlie owns a wallet with a removable mini wallet. When we travel we only take the mini wallet with just a few cards, ID and cash. This wallet is nice and small and fits comfortably and safely in his front pocket. We generally keep most cards and cash in this wallet and I only carry a small amount personally just in case we get separated.

When traveling overseas you of course need a travel adapter. I use this one and am happy with it. It has USB charging as well as the others needed.  Please note these travel adapters do not convert voltage, just the shape of the plug. This means that it is fine to charge any device that can accept the given current. In the US our power comes out at 110 volts, but in Europe they are usually 220 volts. Almost all phone and computer chargers are fine accepting 220, but this voltage can ruin many hair appliances that are not made for it. Before traveling check any hair irons or blow dryers you are brining to ensure they will work. (Remember, even if they accept the voltage you will still need an adapter to use them.) As you can see from the photos, I did not take my hair dryer. Some of the places we stayed had one and if they did not I just air dried. Have a great travel dryer? Let me know, I am in the market for one.

img_8979

This curling iron is fine, it is rated 120-240 V

img_8980

This dryer is only rated 125 V. I did not bring it to Europe.

img_8978

This flat iron is rated to 240 V and was fine.

RELATED POSTS

Travel Tuesday: Road Trips

April 24
No comments yet
*

I love a good road trip. There is nothing like the feeling of the day in front of you with the music playing and your favorite person or people with you. Living in Orlando we are geographically limited on where we can go, but I wanted to share a few places we drove to and enjoyed. Depending on where you live they may or may not be feasible.

10378944_10203815383447844_1947664592542025185_n

Savannah is one of my favorite old cities. Filled with tons of history, it also is easy to access and affordable to stay in. I’d suggest Airbnb to get the best rates on room or to rent a home in the historic district. I haven’t had the chance to Airbnb in Savannah yet but cannot wait to. I love staying in old historic homes right in the heart of the communities. While in Savannah be sure to walk the riverfront and check out the squares. This is a great city to just stroll and relax. If you’re looking to get inside check out the Telfair Museum or a nice bookstore. My favorite time to visit is in the fall or spring.

3

If a day on the beach is your idea of a good time, consider checking out St. Pete Beach. With beautiful white sand, beaches, for days, and lovely sunsets, it is the prefect place to relax, have a drink, or a book. Get a room on the beach and have access to the pool, ocean, and food all at once place. If you want to get out of the sun check out the Dali Museum or catch a game at Tropicana Field. If you’re thirsty check out the Florida Orange Grove Winery and take a free tour.

1

For our mini honeymoon Charlie and I ventured to New Orleans. It is a bit of a drive from Orlando, but was totally worth it. Like Savannah, it is an old city with tons of culture. We spent time walking the old neighborhoods and learning about the french influence at the museums. Also, the food is pretty darn good. Check your favorite reviews site for the current best picks, but know the town is full of great options including tons of seafood.

 

 

RELATED POSTS

Travel Tuesday: Road trip tips

April 3
No comments yet
*

Since it is still spring break in some parts of the country I figured today would be a good  day to share road trip tips. We love road trips, but they have to be done right. Below are my seven tips for a successful road trip. Note: We don’t have kids so these tips apply to adults traveling without kids. Some tips will relate to older kids and teens, but I can’t promise anything.

1. Know your route
I feel like this is pretty obvious, but I feel the need to mention it anyway. Know where you are going, how you are getting there, and if possible a few major cities on the way. Share the basic plan with the entire car so that everyone can assist is paying attention to the route. We’ve all missed an exit before, it happens, but it is best to realize this as soon as possible.

2. Bring beverages
Staying hydrated on road trips is super important. We always bring big water bottles to get us going and refill them as needed at rest stops. As a coffee drinker make my coffee before we leave and take it with me, saves money and the time it takes to stop. Yes, the more you drink the more you need to use the restroom, however it is worth it and the bathroom breaks give legs a minute to stretch.

3. Healthy Snacks
Avoid the gas station crap by packing a small cooler or lunchbox with a few snacks to keep you going. I like to pull these out when we get a little tired or just bored. Favorites include carrot sticks, grapes, baked potato chips, and trail mix. Apples, bananas, popcorn, and a handful of nuts are also good options.

4. Pack a lunch
If you are watching what you eat, or just trying to stay healthy and on budget consider bringing your lunch for the first meal of the trip. Before the rise of fast food road trippers always had picnics at rest stops but these days it is not popular. As a nod to the past pack a light lunch to eat at a rest stop and remember the old  days. Salads, cold sandwiches, potato salad, and chips and salsa are favorites for packed lunches.

5. Avoid gas stations
Of course you have to gas up the car, I understand that, however limit time spent wandering around the convenience store. I can’t count the group road trips I’ve been on where we have walked around one of those for 20 minutes and everyone ends up buying junk. Gas the car, use the restrooms and get out. If you do need snacks consider stopping at a grocery store and getting enough for the next leg of the trip instead of single serve options. (If you must stop, Wawa is our favorite for healthy options)

6. Power up
Before you leave ensure you have at least one phone charger in the car. Running navigation, music, and surfing the internet drain phone batteries and for the sake of safety you need at least one working phone. We usually have two chargers just to be safe. Make sure all other entertainment devices are powered up and ready to go as well. Note: check on your phone data allowance before your trip, all that time scrolling instagram in the car can totally blow it.

7. Plan ahead entertainment
Road trips are long but a great time to enjoy an audiobook together. We like to download one to my phone via Overdrive from our local library.  We also love listening to and playing along with our favorite trivia podcast, Podquiz. This is also a great time to talk about life goals, dreams, aspirations, and whatever else needs hours.  I like to bring a pencil and notebook for notes as some of our best ideas come from this time. Eventually I will publish that children’s book.

 

So those are my tips, nothing crazy but just a starting point for a good road trip. Most of all, have fun. A road trip is the memories you make it. So take the time to relax, be silly, and share the real you with your companions. I believe this is the reason so many of us love road trips; in the car we can return to the real us.

 

Check back next week for Travel Tuesday and I will share some of my favorite road trip destinations in the southeast. See you then!

RELATED POSTS

AirBnB

March 13
No comments yet
*

For today’s Travel Tuesday I am talking about using AirBnB instead of hotels. We started using AirBnB about four years ago for a trip to Chicago on a budget. In Chicago there are tons of amazing hotels in the Loop area, but they are pricey. Sadly, $200 a night just wasn’t in the budget for us. Also, although the loop is nice, we didn’t really want to stay there with all the hustle and bustle of the city.  The other hotel options I found that were in our price range were out by the airport which was too far away from the city for us. After looking around I remembered that a friend had used AirBnB and loved it. After doing some research about which neighborhoods were best for us I was able to find a nice room to rent in the Wicker Park area of Chicago.

Our Airbnb in Notting Hill

Now you will notice I said room. Yes, the first few times we used Airbnb we just rented a room with a private bath from our host. When searching with Airbnb you have the option of finding a shared space (couch), private room, or the entire home. This saved us around $30-$50 a night which at the time really helped out. When renting a room via Airbnb there are a few things to look out for.

Who else is in the home?

Some hosts will divide up and rent an entire home to travelers and will never be on site. Although this sounds okay in theory, I did not feel that this would be the safest bet for us. In my opinion the host/guest relationship is based on mutual trust and respect for each other’s space and things. When this relationship is just with another guest you lose that respect as the other guest is not responsible to you and vice versa. We only rented from hosts who also lived in the home, however for the three times we did this we barely saw the hosts at all. One was not there the entire time of our stay.

What is the bathroom situation?

Even if I am renting a room I still wanted my own bathroom. This was just so that I did not have to worry about being late for something because the host needed to take an hour shower or something of the like. It also made the idea of a shared space more comfortable for me.

What is included?

Depending on the host, you may have full or limited access to the kitchen, washing machine, and other amenities the home has to offer. Some hosts even include breakfast supplies to help with your stay.

Once you have found answers to these questions you can see if a room is a good choice for you. When renting a room, or any Airbnb home, I always read TONS of reviews and always stay with a host with tons of experience and positive reviews.

For our trip to Europe we decided that we wanted to use Airbnb again and rent studios in the cities we were visiting.  Compared to US cities we felt there were many great affordable studio options in London, Brussels, and Paris. We were able to rent studios and apartments for around $100 USD in each city. In Brussels that $100 got us an entire one bedroom apartment.

Just as before we read reviews and did out research of the area before requesting to book. For safety reasons Airbnb does not tell you the address until you confirm the purchase but you do know the area. Generally the listing will give walking times to popular transit stops, stores, and restaurants which will help you understand the area. If you are still unsure I suggest going through a google street view of the area to get a better understanding of it and to ensure it feels safe.

One of the questions I often asked hosts before booking was the availability of a space to store luggage before check-in or after check-out. Many hosts are able to accommodate this request but I always ask first. Also check out the check-in and check-out times. They can vary greatly from host to host and many are flexible. Often hosts have a key box available so guests can check in at their leisure without having to meet in person.

Once we arrive in our room/home I always do a quick check of everything to ensure that everything that we need is available and that we feel safe in the space. When renting an entire home this includes checking out the kitchen and seeing if we have the supplies promised  such as pans and dishes.

One of the reasons we wanted entire homes while in Europe was so that we had a kitchen. This allowed us to cook one or two meals on our own which saved money and stay healthy. I will share more on that in a future post.

We have been very lucky and have never had problems with our rentals. If you find that you have a problem with your host or rental before, during, or after a stay please visit the Airbnb Trust Center. There you will find information as well as how to get more help. As with anything, if you for whatever reason do not feel safe feel free to leave. Also be aware of the emergency phone number regardless of if you are staying in an Airbnb or not.

As I’ve said, we have had amazing luck with Airbnb to the extent that they are were we start our lodging search. If you are interested in trying them out use this link for $40 in travel credits for new users. (Please note that I do receive a credit for every new users who completes travel via this link.)

If you’ve used Airbnb before let me know in the comments; I am super curious about the experiences of others.  Stay tuned, next Tuesday I’m going to be talking about our stay in London!

RELATED POSTS

Travel Tuesdays: Airlines

February 27
No comments yet
*

Hey guys, so if you follow me on Instagram you know my husband and I recently finished up a two week trip to Europe. I loved sharing while on my trip and asked if you guys were interested in blog posts and you said YES. As I said, the focus of these posts will be on how to travel simply and affordably. I will be sharing my favorite places from each of the cities we visited as well as tips on how to travel on a budget. In the future I will share about other places we have visited as well as hometown of Orlando.

Are you ready?

So first of all to start things out I wanted to talk about buying airlines tickets.

We flew Norwegian Airlines for this flight and loved it. We were able to find tickets super cheap. We traveled in February from Orlando and purchased tickets in August.  Our tickets we between $160 and $190 each way for the base ticket. We bought the LowFare+ tickets where where $90 more. (This can change, I saw flights with the add ons for only $70.) This includes a checked bag, meals, and you get to pick your seat. On their own these items are approximately $35 each.

We flew on a a Boing 787-9 which sits 9 across in coach. Because we booked super early we had lots of seats options. We chose row 27 because it had two seats available and from what I could find out had tons of legroom. Although neither Charlie or I are super tall, 10 hours in a plane is never fun. We lucked out and the row was great. We did not have anyone in front of us and there was an open space that was great. We were able to stand up if needed and get out of our seats without disturbing the other person in our row. This was an exit row so it is only open to willing adults but it worked great for us. These seats were close to the restroom but the smell was not bad; the only smell we noticed was a slight chemical smell and not actual… bathroom stuff.

For this Norwegian plane we found that rows six, nine, and twenty-seven were the best.  These rows also offer basinet options in the middle bulkhead seats. If you have a child under the age of two these are definitely worth looking into.  A couple on our return flight had a baby and once the flight was in air the flight attendants came in and attached a bassinet to the wall. The baby was able to sleep and hang out in there as long as the fasten seat belts sign was off. For more on how to reserve those check out this blog post I found.

As I mentioned, we purchased the the LowFare+ tickets which included a meal. The food kept us alive but was not great. Of course, it is airline food, so we didn’t have high expectations. Our dinners did come with a beverage and I was able to get wine which was nice to help wind down. We also received a brown bag sandwich with juice and yogurt before we landed. Next time we fly with Norwegian we may just buy the tickets and maybe a suitcase instead of the meals as I think we could have lived without them.

I was surprised to find that even with the cheap tickets each traveler was allowed one carry on bag. This could be as large as a carry on rolling bag. There is a weight limit of 10 kilograms which is about 22 pounds. For this trip Charlie brought his carry on but checked it and I brought a slightly larger bag. In the future we’d both bring regular carry on bags and carry them on the flight. You also can bring one personal item such as a purse or briefcase.

Lets talk about seats. In my opinion seat selection for an overseas flight is worth if if you are traveling with a companion. Although we don’t interact a bunch on a flight, it is worth it to have that person next to you. Seat selection is $35 each but ensures you actually sit next to your companion. For short flights we have skipped the seat selection, but for more than two hours I think it is a good idea.

The in-flight entertainment was good. I watched Baby Driver on the way over which was something I had been meaning to watch for some time. The selection was good with lots of movies and TV shows and the touchscreens had games as well. As is the trend, we were able to order drinks and snacks via our screens as well; it even had a place to swipe your credit card.

Overall we enjoyed our flights and will most likely use the airline again. In the future we will rethink the LowFare+ tickets and maybe just pay for the seats  which would cost us $140 for two people on two flights compared to the $360 we paid for the seats/bags/meals. I suggest booking in advance and reviewing the far calendar to see when the best deals are.

In general, I like low cost “a la carte” airlines as long as you know what you are getting in to. I can’t count the times I’ve  seen people flying Spirit or Allegiant get upset because they have to pay for a bag or are not seated next to their loved one. Always review the baggage policy and check your bag size. When booking pay for additional luggage then and be creative. When we fly Allegiant together we can usually share one checked bag saving us some money, try options like that to see what works. And budget airlines don’t give you a free bag of pretzels and half a can of coke. But guess what? You will live or spend $3 on one there, it is worth it if you saved $100 on the flight.

So that is my experience with these airlines, if you have any questions or comments share them below!

RELATED POSTS