Travel Toiletries

I began my career in 2011 and immediately started frequently traveling for work. Before that I was a chronic over-packer; “but what if..?” was my motto. I since have learned the value of space and convenience of not having too much luggage, especially with air travel and all the restrictions that come with it.

I’m a big pro-carry on only person, and not because of the cost of checking but the elimination of having to wait for your checked bag. So that’s an even bigger draw to figure out how to pack smarter.

I know I touched on travel with this post put I have a really short trip coming up and decided this would be a good topic to blog about!

Here are some tips I’ve accumulated, both over my pre-surgery years and in this recovery since it’s more essential I pack certain things.

Watch Your Liquids

Ah, the challenge of air travel and that 3oz. rule. You can buy solid shampoo and conditioner. They’re not as environmental friendly but you can pack makeup remover wipes over liquid makeup remover. Same with toner.

I beg of you, then please have your bag of liquids in a convenient place to pull out for going through airport security. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is surprised when their bag sets off the sensor then they have to go on a search and seizure to find the liquid.

Plan Ahead

Let’s say you know you have a trip coming up in 2 weeks, and your toothpaste is getting down there. Think about how much you’ll need on vacation and take the normal sized one. There’s few things more satisfying on a trip than getting to throw out something and take home less stuff.

Decante Your Loved Products

Traveling can feel ideal to use smaller products you’ve accumulated that are different than the products you normally use. But this can be another varied factor in an already strange situation. Travel already brings stress, often richer food than we’re used to and different water (primarily noticeable with washing your hair); why throw another variable into the mix? I prefer buying empty travel containers and taking my usual products with me. Or often brands have a gift set with smaller versions of their products which can be perfect for travel!

Not all that is mine!

Keep A Travel Kit Always Packed

If you travel frequently, consider always having your kit packed. I’m more mindful then most but recently forgot to pack my deodorant since I was planning to pack it the day I left after I used it. Yes it was easy to go buy one, but it was an annoyance that took up time I could have instead being enjoying my vacation. Doing this is more expensive because you’re buying duplicates of your products but you can easily pack your toiletry bag without much thought. Another idea is to make a checklist.

What are your travel kit tips?

I’m Back!

I took a much needed break from blogging. I went on my first post-surgery trip last week and it was amazing! To relax and go mostly technology free was a great feeling.

It was exactly what I needed my first trip to be. It allowed me to apply what I’ve been working on in real life, showed me I’m much more capable then I give myself credit and helped me identify what to work on for future trips. It also showed me what to pack to make for a comfortable time away from what I know, and reinforced that allowing for lots of time before something is key to me not getting stressed.

I’m so excited to get back to traveling and I have some ideas for the rest of the year!

Guest Post: Solo Travel

Hi! My bestie Steph is back today with a topic I love: solo travel. I believe it’s extremely important to experience traveling alone. It can be daunting but oh so rewarding. Over to Steph for her tips!

Hello again! I’m back to recap my amazing trip to visit Logan in London. Our friend Meg headed back to the States on Tuesday, and with Logan back at work for the week, I had a few days to wander London solo. I am a huge proponent of solo time, especially solo travel time. I’ve wandered Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego by myself. It can be a bit intimidating, but so rewarding. Here’s some tips I’ve learned as I’ve planned and explored solo.

5 Tips for Planning Solo Travel Days

 1. Plan variety for each day

Research is my thing. I love reading travel blogs and TripAdvisor reviews; I searched and searched for all the good things to do in London and then made a big list. There were many museums and markets and shops and cathedrals.  With three full days, I could have gone to all the museums on one day, then had a full shopping day the next. However, I’ve found variety each day is better. I split the museums across the days with one each day. I went to the shops I wanted to visit based on the area I was in. On my first day I took in history at The British Museum, got some fish & chips at a pub for lunch, explored a couple bookstores and wandered Covent Garden. The second day I explored Borough Market, walked by The Globe and St. Paul’s Cathedral, took in the beauty of the National Galleries and made a Boots run. Add a little culture, a little shopping and walks to each day. You’ll never get bored or too overwhelmed.

2. Highlight the things that bring you joy

The absolute best thing about solo travel is getting choose to only see the things that bring you joy. Hit up the nerdy museum that only you might find interesting. Eat the favorite food that no one else likes.

For me, I am an avid reader. It might be a slight addiction. Like Rory Gilmore, I always have a book on me. I knew I wanted to buy at least one book as a souvenir, so adding some bookstore explorations were at the top of my list.  I visited a few bookstores. First was The Folio Society. The Folio Society produces gorgeous copies of classic novels. The shop is slightly hidden away and small, but it was so fun to peruse the gorgeous editions in person that I’ve oogled online. I also went to Foyles. Foyles is a reader’s dream bookstore. There are six floors of books!!! I actually returned a second day for tea and a scone in their cafe on the fifth floor. I recommend it!

3. Don’t forget the food

Solo dining can be a bit intimidating, but don’t be scared of it. The worst thing you could do is only eat fast food because you’re afraid to say “table for one.” The food of a new city is just as much a part of the culture as a museum. If solo dining is still a bit intimidating, a good alternative (especially in Europe) is a market. I went to Borough Market one morning for a brunch of sorts. First was Monmouth for some coffee to sip as I took my first trip around the market. Then, I sampled a duck confit wrap, some cheese, homemade ravioli, and banana bread.  

4. Be completely flexible

I had a list of the places I wanted to visit each day. It evolved as I got closer to my trip, but I was fairly set once I got to London. Then, I wanted to sleep in one day, so I did and spent a little less time at V&A. I got a little hungry one afternoon, so I stopped in a cafe for a latte and a scone. No regrets. I really wanted to visit Harrod’s, but once I got inside I wasn’t feeling it, so I left. You might be walking to your next destination and see a shop you didn’t know about. Or stumble upon a unknown museum. Go in! You are in the driver’s seat. The unexpected can sometimes yield the best rewards.

5. Embrace the solo adventure

Take pictures, make memories and have fun.

Stephanie is twenty-something gal. When she’s not trying new restaurants in Chicago, she’s exploring a new city or kayaking at her lakehouse. She’s an avid reader, podcast listener and foodie. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @stephaniehermes.

Flight Problems

When I started working full time, I started traveling more. My job entails a fair amount of travel out of town, not to mention the trips for fun I choose to take. With this increase in trips came something not so fun: an increase in experiencing flight problems. I can tell you countless stories of delays, close calls to the gate, and unfortunately flight cancellations from the last several years.

On my trip to New York in June I experienced one of the worst flight fiascoes in my life. My flight home was delayed by six plus hours due to weather back home, I witnessed flights to Chicago being cancelled left and right, and ultimately I made the choice to rebook my flight for the following day before my original flight ended up being cancelled a few hours later.

No one likes to alter their plans due to something like this; I’d had a nice relaxing evening planned out before going back to work the next day. This turned to a hurried evening then one wrought with a late arrival home and smaller sleep time before being ruled out completely.

We’ll call a spade a spade here; flight problems suck. When you are organized enough to book a flight at a specific time, and then it doesn’t take off/land when it’s supposed to? The nerve. Unfortunately in times like this it is what it is, and I’ve pulled together a few lessons to better approach situations such as these in life.  

Packing: a whole other story. 
Packing: a whole other story. 

1.       Some things are out of your control

When I planned my trip I booked flights to line up with how I wanted to bookend the trip; a not too early departure on a Thursday at 11 AM, and a flight that would get me home on a Monday in time to cook dinner and decompress before unpacking and preparing for work the next day.  The cancellation of my flight meant two pretty crappy things: taking another day off of work and incurring a handful of unexpected expenses from additional time away from home.

Did this frustrate me? You bet. But after freaking out for a few minutes I took a deep breath and told myself this was out of my control. Unless I wanted to rent a car and drive through the night, I physically could not be in Chicago for work the next day. I emailed my boss (a perk of having your work email on your phone) to explain the situation. Then I let. It. Go. Why worry over something you cannot control?

2.       Everything in life costs more than you think it will

As I mentioned above, I had a fair amount of unexpected expenses from this experience. There were extra food costs for my prolonged time in the airport and additional night out of town. The cab fares to get out of then back to the airport the following day. And the big one; the bill to stay in a hotel overnight.  

Now I’ll stop here to say this wasn’t a must. I certainly could have roughed it and slept in the airport overnight. But here’s how it went down. My friend and I looked at each other and agreed to stay at the airport for another 18 hours would be pure hell. Maybe if the time frame was shorter, or we weren’t in one of the worst airports in America (seriously I hate you, LaGuardia). In a situation like this there’s being money savvy and then just being stupid for the sake of saving cash. Did I like paying an extra $200 on my trip (because of course the hotel options were not cheap)? Of course not. That completely blew. But thinking back I would still make the same decision to get out of the airport and have a quiet place to sleep before returning the next day.

I wish I had better advice for a situation like this. I’m not afraid to admit here that in my position, a financial pull like this one is something serious. I’m someone that tries to stick to a pretty tight budget, and I financially plan for bigger events like weddings and vacations. Really what it boils down to is-it is what it is. Praise be for savings, and you better believe I was cutting expenses for a few weeks after to recoup for the extra spending.

3.       Plan ahead

Pack an extra book, or better yet, have a few options on your kindle. Put games like heads up and trivia crack on your phone (and always pack your charger in your carry on). On that note  fly only with carry on whenever you can as it cuts down on costs, time spent at the airport once you reach your destination, and hassle if you end up changing flights. Trust me you don’t need all those shoes! Throw a few travel friendly snacks in your bag to cut out unhealthy airport meals. I love homemade trail mixes, Larabars, and bananas.

Some may call it jinxing the situation, but it’s a comfort to be prepared if your flight is delayed. If anything you’ll have a book to read down the road and some extra eats for later on in your day!

When all else fails, booze it out! 
When all else fails, booze it out! 

This wasn’t my first flight cancellation and unfortunately I feel that it won’t be my last. The flight I took a week after this one was delayed three and a half hours. I just read a terrifying story on another blog about an engine malfunction during a flight (which thankfully worked out just fine). Traveling can look glamorous (I blame carryover of the glamour of a destination, which isn’t always so glamorous after all. And travel photos from the 60’s) but it really can be the worst.

I choose to look at flying as a necessary evil to get to someplace exciting. The next time you have flight problems, just try to stay calm and remember this will pass.

Guest Post: Four Things I’ve Learned from Traveling with Girlfriends

I’m excited to feature a guest post by my great friend Stephanie! We’ve known each other for ages and she’s my partner in crime for many of the fun times you see here on Sage & Serendipity! Steph and I love talking all things the Royal Family, taking spinning classes, and finding yummy new restaurants in the city. We’ve taken several trips together and have many (many) more planned for the future!

I’ll toss it over to Stephanie!

I’m a single gal who loves exploring new cities. My favorite travel partners are my girlfriends. In the past few years we’ve explored the streets of New York City, rode ferries in Seattle, and strolled the beaches of Florida. I’m lucky to have girlfriends who love to travel and explore new cities. But, as with most groups of friends, we aren’t without our disagreements or spats of drama. A trip with your girlfriends can be awesome or disastrous. Here’s a few things I’ve learned during my past few years of traveling with friends:

1. Set clear expectations.

Is this trip about seeing the sites? Or is it about relaxing by the pool/beach? Whether it’s a loose schedule or detailed itinerary some expectations need to be set on what each lady should expect for the trip. While planning, the group should discuss the objectives of the trip (exploring vs. relaxing), the money you’re expecting to spend, and the activities you’d like to do. This will look a little differently for different friend groups. For some trips we’ve had a detailed itinerary of activities with restaurant reservations and color coding. You may not get that detailed, but at least discuss a little of what you’ll do each day. Otherwise you might be in a new city with four different opinions on what do that day, or worse four ladies who each don’t have an opinion.

Cocoa Beach, FL Cocoa Beach, FL

2. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

A few weeks ago I went to Savannah with some college girlfriends. Prior to the trip it was recommended to go to the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. As a former Girl Scout, I really wanted to tour the house. So, when I arrived I told my friends that it was something I at the top of my list. None of them had been Girl Scouts, so the tour probably wouldn’t have been their first choice. But, I asked and they obliged. They made it fun because they knew I loved it. And in return, when my friend Jillian said she wanted to visit Bonaventure Cemetery — a site I wouldn’t have chosen — I obliged and had fun. Don’t miss a site or activity you wanted to see because you’re afraid to rock the boat and then leave disappointed. If you’re into it your friends will get into too.

3. Address the drama.

Last summer, Logan and I headed with two friends to NYC (note from Logan: find all those trip recaps in my NYC section here!). On day two we planned to explore Brooklyn. We mapped out an agenda that included shopping, pizza and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. A few hours in we had walked miles more than we expected, were tired, cranky and hungry. It could have been a breaking point. Instead, we addressed it. Our solution: for 30 minutes we need to just sit in the air conditioned restaurant and not talk. So we sat silently in a pizza place playing on phones. It allowed us to all take some deep breathes, to relax and recover. After some silence (and food) all our moods improved and we could move on drama free. Don’t let crankiness ruin a trip. Address it head on, find a solution and go back to having fun.

Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn, NY

4. Be prepared for the unexpected.

I’ve missed a connecting flight, our car has overheated, and one lady spent the night on the bathroom floor. And that was just one trip! Something will go wrong. It’s inevitable. Despite your best planning you might have to miss one of the most beautiful beaches to sit in Roy’s Autoshop in St. Augustine, Florida (highly recommended by the way). Make the most of it: walk to Target, read funny cards and get slushies. Download Head’s Up on your phone and be the loudest in the airport. Enjoy the times with your friends, turn attitudes around and laugh together. You won’t regret making the unexpected fun AND you’ll have a good story for later.

Stephanie is twenty-something gal. When she’s not trying new restaurants in Chicago, she’s exploring a new city or kayaking at her lakehouse. She’s an avid reader, podcast listener and foodie. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @stephaniehermes.