Finding Happiness While Exploring the World

Travel Preparation

Planning a trip can be stressful, and even the most experienced adventurer is bound to forget items at one time or another. The good news is that there are ways to make your life a little easier when planning a trip, whether it’s packing, traveling on a budget, or attempting to see a ton of attractions in a limited amount of time. This page is devoted to making your pre-travel life a whole lot easier, with travel tips that I find to be the most helpful for myself.

Packing Light

I don’t think I’m what you would consider a “fashionista”, but I am still a girl after all and I love me some cute shoes. That being said, my travel fashion sense may not always be up to Heidi Klum standards, but I’m always happy I left those Calvin Klein pumps safe in my closet back home. It leaves much more room for the souvenirs you’ll cherish once you’re back home, like French wine!

 

Packing for warmer climates

When I’m headed to the Caribbean for a week or two, I begin by screaming with excitement and running upstairs to pack my suitcase a month in advance because I can’t contain my excitement. But then I end up throwing random things into my suitcase the morning that I leave because let’s face it, that’s actually the kind of person I am. So, for a warmer climate vacation, I personally pack: 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 sundress, 1 bathing suit, 1 pair of flip flops and 1 pair of nicer flats or sandals, 4 or 5 tops, and a nice outfit that can be worn to an upscale restaurant. If I have enough room left over I might include: 1 skirt, running clothes/shoes.

Part of my saving grace is the fact that I layer clothing for the plane ride. I wear my primary walking shoes, a pair of jeans, a tank top underneath a cute shirt plus a sweatshirt, and any jewelry I might want for the trip as well (I don’t wear much jewelry while traveling as it gets in the way and I don’t have to worry about loss/theft). Without even putting it in the bag, I have on my person 2 tops, an extra pair of jeans, a sweatshirt because sometimes nights even in warm climates can get chilly, and an extra pair of shoes. How efficient!

 

Packing for colder climates

When I’m traveling somewhere cold, it’s usually against my will or a bucket list item that only crazy people have on their lists because being cold SUCKS. I am always cold. And when I say I’m always cold I mean I refuse to wear shorts unless the outdoor temperature is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit and I don’t typically go swimming unless it is HOT HOT HOT. So packing for colder climates is super hard for me, seeing as how all I want to do is pack ALL THE SWEATERS I OWN. So let’s get reasonable: 1 pair of skinny jeans (to fit into boots), very warm socks, thermals, 2-3 sweaters, hardcore gloves, a pair of shoes that aren’t boots but would be OK in the cold weather. On my person I am wearing boots, my extra pair of jeans, a nice shirt underneath a sweater or sweatshirt, winter hat, gloves, scarf, winter coat. 

 

Packing for mild climates

Mild climates are a bit harder to predict, as they can feel tropical at times while still feeling like the arctic at other times. It’s a love-hate relationship for those who live in these parts of the world (hello from Michigan!) but honestly what would I do without 4 beautiful seasons? Here we go: 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of other pants, 1 skirt, 2-3 shirts for layering, 1 sweater, 1 pair of flats. On my person I am wearing my other pair of jeans, primary walking shoes, a tank top underneath a shirt underneath a light jacket, and perhaps a scarf.

In mild climates, I sometimes bring along a pair of fashion boots. If I do, I pack my walking shoes and wear the boots on the plane. My method is to basically make sure that the larger, bulkier items are on my person to maximize the amount of room in my suitcase or backpack.

 

Essentials

My essentials include: camera/charger, phone/charger, plug adapters (international), toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, razor, sunscreen, hair straightener and hairbrush.

Sometimes I pack my Macbook or iPad, but not always. I pack these items if I will need to do work or extensive research on the trip, but for most people a smart phone is enough. If you’re on vacation, it isn’t very likely you’ll want to spend a lot of time on a laptop so why waste the suitcase space? On the same note, I hardly ever pack my own soap or shampoo if I am not checking a bag (and I normally don’t). Most hotels provide these items for free, and on the off-chance that they don’t, I can easily purchase these items at a local convenience store for pretty cheap.

 

Travel on a Budget

I’m finishing up my Master’s degree this year, and I have some student loan debt. I make coffee for a living. I go out with my friends and I save as much money as I possibly can. Therefore, most of my posts will be budget-conscious. Here are a few ways I make traveling on a student’s budget possible!

I don’t check any bags. That’s right. Sometimes I think it’ll suck. But it ultimately ends up being a blessing. I don’t need that many clothes because I can layer shirts. I also don’t need 10 pairs of shoes because I tend to do a lot of walking so I just aim for comfort. The one pair of cute flats will only be worn a few times, so it doesn’t matter if I re-wear the same pair all week. Not checking bags avoids the fees and the stress of having to wait by the luggage carousel.

I use a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Nothing is worse than running out of Euros and being charged a fee for using your credit card. What a waste. Additionally, I don’t convert a lot of cash either. I use my credit card for almost everything (a method not recommended if you have a spending problem. If that is your situation, you’re definitely better off converting money so you don’t overspend). In addition, my credit card (capitalone venture) gives me skymiles. It takes awhile to rack up skymiles, but eventually you can earn enough for free flights or hotels for a trip or two. It’s better than not getting anything for using a card, that’s for sure!

I check nearby airports for cheaper tickets. Sometimes it’s cheaper to drive to another airport and pay for parking than it is to fly out of your own airport. Head over to my “Travel Resources” page for some resources for cheaper flights and hotels.

 

Preventing Hassles and Disasters

Too little research before your trip may cause you problems or unnecessary stress while traveling. Here are some things you may want to research to ensure a successful vacation.

Check the weather. Checking the weather for the duration of your trip will allow you to pack appropriate clothing and plan appropriate vacation activities. Keep in mind that in some places, like Hawaii, the weather forecast is constantly changing, but it is a good idea to research this information for a general idea of what you will be facing.

Pre-plan bus routes, subway routes, or things you would consider your “weakness” in travel. While I believe in “getting lost” in new places, I also believe in being smart. I always pre-plan how I will be getting from the airport to the hotel and back. If you really hate the hassle, you can always call the hotel and inquire about any shuttle services they may have to the airports. There are tons of travel apps for your phone that can help you with directions as well and you can find some of my favorites on my “Travel Resources” page.