Hello Tour Guide

Unless you just want to sit on the beach and veg out for a week, you'll probably have some excursions and activities you want to do when you travel. I spent a lot of time recently traveling throughout Asia and here is what I have to say --> a personal tour guide is the bomb.com <--

Not only should you do research on what you want to see before your trip, but you should also book in advance! The definition of vacation is "an extended period of leisure and recreation." So why put yourself in a situation where you have to plan when you get there? I don't want to spend my time at the concierge desk, searching on google, or being on a tour bus with a crowd of people. 

Call the hotel or resort ahead of time, book things over the phone with the concierge, spend that extra $ on a private guide (this will save you time and let you see exactly what you want), print up your items of must-sees and best day/weather to view. 

My tip? ...

Ask the locals for their recommendations for food and activities and take advantage of what your hotel has to offer. I've also found the best area for reviews are on TripAdvisor because you'll get honest opinions from other travelers like yourself!

My Airport Notes

Wouldn't it be nice to avoid all crowds, germs, and just general frustration at the airport? Ah if life were perfect...

Unless you live in Hong Kong where the airport and security system/technology is far superior to any other airport I've been to, then you'll want to read on. Here are just a few ways to make your time at the airport a breeze:

  1. Get approved for TSA or Global Entry. I have both but sometimes Global Entry can be a little wonky, especially if you have a name change (the struggle of a married woman). TSA lines are absolutely worth it to save you on time and convenience through security checkpoints (keep those shoes on, my friend!)
  2. If you can, don't bother driving yourself to the airport. Stressful to find a spot and account for the time of getting into the security line. Use uber or have a friend drop you off. 
  3. Pack small and ditch the idea of a checked bag. This uses way more time at the airport, gives you the chance of losing your bag, and can cost extra $. I like a small rolling carryon to run around the the airport or even a backpack to just stuff my essentials in for a wknd trip. 
  4. Keep your ID and credit card handy. This should be common sense but needs to be said. 
  5. If you can, travel by yourself or just with one other person. It's crazy how many more opinions there are, how much time you have to wait for someone else, and how much more stressful this can be with more people in your travel group. Just meet at the destination and stick with one travel buddy! 
  6. Stick with one airline. If you do this then you'll know their system better, location of gates, and boarding process by heart. 
  7. Keep a charger in your carryon. Nothing worse than running out of battery on your phone or iPad if there is a delay. 
  8. Last, but not least, be wise on your outfit choice for travel day. Easy shoes to slip on and off, light jacket because God knows the temp in airports is unpredictable, and something comfortable if your in for a long haul. 

Carry-on Essentials

Sometimes flying can be the worst part of a trip. Unless you are a lucky SOB and always get upgraded you might be in for a long and uncomfortable ride. I've learned that I can make it a little more enjoyable if I have the right items handy at all times. Ready?

  • Keep your under-the-seat carryon no bigger than a small backpack or handbag. Nothing worse than making your leg room even smaller because you brought a small duffle to sit with you. 
  • No laptops. A pain to take out through security and probably a useless items on the plane unless you have to travel for work. Stick to a small iPad and make sure to load movies, games, or books on it before you get to the airport. Airport wifi is mediocre at best and you won't be able to download things in time before you have to hit Airplane Mode on the runway. 
  • Roll on lavender oil. This scent will relax you if you are stressed, need help sleeping, or just generally need a calming smell instead of your neighbor's odor. 
  • Sanitizing wipes. I always wipe down the chair arms and folding tray when I get situated. Airplanes carry enough germs, might as well try to avoid getting sick because the previous passenger had the flu. 
  • Light scarf. Easy to fold, wear, and use as a clean blanket or rolled up neck rest. 
  • Snacks. Bring your own baggie of nuts, dried fruit, or small crackers. Nothing worse than being hungry and having airplane food as your only option $$$$ *don't forget gum, and a small water bottle to refill for free. 
  • Headphones. Need I say more?
  • Small notepad or magazine. If electronics fail, it's always nice to have a backup option or even relax your eyes from the screen. Make some checklists for yourself, goals, journal, etc. 
  • Small toiletries. Especially for a longer flight, you'll thank yourself for a good freshen up or if you aren't feeling well --> tylenol, small tissue pack, hand sanitizer, face wipes, small travel toothbrush, Tums, ginger ** try GinGins .. great for your tummy, motion sickness, and to calm your nerves. 

Another pro tip for better flight experience? Pick the right seat for you! If you need to lay your head against something always make sure you to the window. I personally always have to have an aisle seat so I can get up and move or go to the bathroom without feeling awkward asking something to move. You'll also have a better experience closer to the front of the plane. Earlier boarding, better access to bathrooms, and first to get off if you need to catch another flight. 

Packing Pro

Traveling can be stressful and one time consuming part is luggage. What do I bring? How much? What toiletries? What if it gets lost?

Fret not. Why this is be hard based on where you go, you'll end up becoming a pro the more you travel. But here are some quick tips to shave off some time and worry:

  1. Layers. Obviously your wardrobe will be different whether you are going somewhere warm or cold but a great concept regardless is to think of layering so you can be prepared on changes in temp. 
  2. Tennis shoes that you can workout in but also do daily exploring/walks in. Tip here is to try to stick to black, grey or white for tennis shoes so you can match better with a casual look when needed. 
  3. Wind or water resistant jacket. You'll always wish you brought this when you did. Check out  Patagonia's houdini jackets that roll up in a small pouch for space saving. 
  4. Keep your toiletry bag packed so you can just toss in whenever you travel. I have an extra toothbrush, medicine, small face wash, etc so I don't have to worry about combining all my stuff for another trip. 
  5. Stick to basic or nude colors. Why? It's so much easier to mix, match, and create multiple looks on the same pieces of clothing. Less clothes, more options. 
  6. If you are not going on a trip that requires cold weather clothing, hiking, or is more than 5 days then you should always stick to a carryon suitcase. You'll save money and, more importantly, TIME at the airport. < always check size regulation for overhead carryon. Tumi products are always airline regulated and made for the modern traveler >
  7. Your biggest space waster is going to be shoes and toiletries. Stick to travel size options, opt out for bringing your own shampoo or hairdryer, and limit your shoes to three. 
  8. When in doubt, under pack. You can always buy at your destination and quite honestly you'll come home with cooler items that have a story. 

Airline Dating

If you are going to be an avid traveler then you need to start scoping out which airline you want to partner with. Picking out your top two or three airlines is like being in a relationship:

  • You are going to be loyal to those airlines and only those airlines
  • You will end up having their best customer service number on speed dial
  • You'll feel the love back by building up points and getting rewarded with treats (aka UPGRADES)
  • You will know what airports have your beau's best lounge
  • You'll basically be spending all your extra cash back on this relationship 

When you decide, pick on that has a large international base and then another that you love for your local country. Personally, I've picked Southwest as my local partner and American Airlines as my international partner. Reasons why?

American Airlines has newer planes, better lounges, and a good loyalty program. Once you climb the ladder in the relationship status you'll have many benefits of upgrades and customer service. Southwest is a great local airlines in the USA--mainly because their customer service is unbeatable. You can change fights last minute and use credit for future flights, no change fee. And any areas they don't reach in the USA I'll just use my other boyfriend, AA.