Happy almost-Friday, friends!! I hope you’ve had a great week so far and have fun plans for the weekend ahead. Today we’re talking travel…more specifically, your travel questions. I love sharing Trip Reports from each of our adventures (find those here), but I’m often asked more general questions about travel. So I opened the doors for questions on my Instagram Stories awhile back, and they came flooding in! In fact, there were so many that my Travel Q&A became a three-part series!
How do you decide where to splurge and where to save?
All of our trips are definitely a balance of splurges and saves, and it varies depending on location and the type of experience we hope to have. If the trip is all about rest and couple-time, then we’ll splurge on a fancy hotel, but save by splitting our meals. If a view isn’t important, then we’ll splurge on the nice hotel, but save by booking something smaller in the back (like a garden view versus oceanfront). You still have access to all the same amenities, but at a lesser rate.
Also, if you only have a few days in a place, then location is key for optimizing your time there. Consider the time and expense it takes to get around…it may cost more to stay in a central location, but you’ll save by being able to walk everywhere.
As for excursions and activities, we will usually splurge on one per trip, like the catamaran trip in Santorini, but save the other days by exploring on our own. And when it comes to transportation, we weigh the pros and cons of the class of plane and ferry tickets against the amount of time we have. For instance, our days on each Greek island were limited, so we splurged for the high-speed ferries over the cheaper, slower ones. But since it was shorter ride, we booked general class tickets to save.
What’s worth a splurge will be different for everyone, so you just have to decide what’s worth more money to you. For me, I love a nice hotel with service, but could care less about shopping or extravagant meals…so that’s where the majority of our travel budget goes.
What kind of bag do you carry for travel?
I almost always have two bags…a tote and a crossbody.
The tote sits on top of my carry-on suitcase (a lifesaver since it’s usually crazy-heavy!), and holds my laptop, agenda, wallet, glasses, lipstick, headphones, Kindle, and all the little extras necessary. This tote varies based on the season and trip…beach bag tote in Summer and leather tote in Fall. For longer trips, I love using a medium-sized weekender bag (that still fits under the seat!) and holds overflow from my suitcase.
Once at my arrival, I switch to a smaller crossbody for the day-to-day. That is usually filled with my jewelry and packed in my suitcase, or tucked in the tote.
outfit details here
Do you keep the same skincare routine when traveling?
Yes!! Travel wreaks enough havoc on my skin, I don’t want the shock of new or lesser products on it, too. Thankfully my skincare comes in travel sizes, so I just take it all with me. I save the little jars and just refill them from my larger sizes when they run out.
I would love to know more about your packing process. I find packing stressful and I feel like it takes me an entire day!
At this point, I have my packing down to a science…but I still dread it!! And it takes me the better part of a day for longer trips! I actually start packing in my head days before the trip, going over outfit ideas, checking the weather, and determining what I might want based on the activities.
Once I start physically packing, I allow myself enough time so I’m not up crazy-late the night before…that just leads to overpacking. First I set aside items needed for very specific activities on the itinerary…like hiking, swimming, skiing, etc. Then I start putting outfits together, making sure every piece can be paired with at least 2-3 other items, so I have the freedom to mix and match my outfit once at the destination. It helps to stay in a single color palette, too, so you aren’t forced to pack an abundance of shoes and accessories.
If the trip is short, I’ll go ahead and determine outfits for day and night of each day. Take it one step further and snap a photo of each so you can refer to them later! And remember, earrings and scarves use virtually no space in your suitcase, but have the power to completely transform an outfit. And always include a white tee and black tank.
Once everything is laid out, I will edit things down even more, then pack it all up in eBags. That process actually makes it so much easier once you actually pack it all in your suitcase. They fit like puzzle pieces, and your back stays tidy and organized!
What tips do you have for staying comfy and fresh on long flights?
My carry-on bag for long flights always has toothbrush, toothpaste, eye drops, saline spray, moisturizer, sanitizer, lip balm, pain reliever, gum, comb, ear plugs, cozy socks, and a warm cardigan. Also think about what you like to do for entertainment on a flight. If you’re a movie-watcher, bring good headphones that won’t hurt your ears. If you’re a reader, invest in an e-reader you can load with books without weighing down your bag.
I follow my same bedtime and morning routines on a plane…brushing my teeth, applying moisturizer, and even wearing my retainers for ‘bed.’ Before arrival, I brush teeth, moisturize, and apply a little lipstick so I don’t feel like a complete zombie.
We also added this inflatable foot rest to our travel arsenal on the flight to Greece, and it was a game-changer! It fits snugly in the foot space, but allows a place to elevate your feet…and small kids can actually lie flat!
What is the best luggage situation for a family?
Now that our kids are older, it’s every person for themselves! Every member of my family travels with a CalPak 22″ Carry-On bag, and a personal backpack. We all carry everything we need for the flight and trip, so you never have to ask or wait on someone else.
When they were smaller, I’d pack a larger suitcase like the CalPak 28″ Bag that could accommodate all our clothes, and they’d carry a backpack with the games, snacks and toys needed for the travel.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: You can find tons of deeply-discounted CalPak bags on eBay, and since they’re so durable and long-lasting, buying them pre-owned is a great option too. If you’d prefer new, just use the filters in the sidebar.
Do you use a rewards card?
Yes, our credit card accrues mileage points on a single airline, and we use it for virtually every available purchase. This is a quick way to stack up points for trips!
I’m also a member of every hotel and car rental rewards program, and utilize them for everything from free wifi to upgrades. Hotels.com is my preferred booking site since it allows me to earn rewards regardless of hotel and chain, and every 11th night is free. Oftentimes I book on hotels.com, then contact the hotel directly to give them my member number or pass along any special occasions we may be celebrating. #upgrade
Do you roll or fold? How do you save space in your luggage?
I know I sound like a broken record…but eBags!!! I swear they double the space in my bag, no matter if I’m packing swimsuits and tees or ski coats and pants. I fold my clothes to fit the dimensions of each bag, piling them high, then zip them down in a compact and compressed little bag.
Do you have a huge travel budget? You travel a lot.
Traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, and making memories with my friends and family is at the top of my life list. So the majority of our expendable income goes towards travel. Well, and now college tuition! Ha!
Some people drive new cars, buy expensive jewelry, or give each other extravagant gifts. Travel takes the place of all that for us. Every anniversary and Christmas is marked by a new place we visited together. So while our travel budget may seem big, we save in other areas to make it priority!
I’m also diligent about booking the best fares, researching hotel deals, and stretching our travel dollars.
Who takes your pictures when you’re traveling?
We all trade off taking pics of each other. If I need an outfit photo, Mr. SP will take it when we’re traveling alone, or one of the kids if we’re traveling as a family. I rotate between them so they don’t get annoyed! But I also never ask for a reshoot…they fire off 3-5 shots and I just make one of them work.
As for getting photos together, we simply ask a hotel employee or fellow traveler. I usually look for someone taking their own group pics and offer to take a photo for them first. Then I’ll take several, and at different angles, vertical and horizontal so they know I’ve gone out of my way to get them a good photo, and they always reciprocate. The majority of our travel pics are on an iPhone now, and virtually everyone knows how to use it, so it’s easy to pass over your phone for a pic.
I’m also not afraid to ask for exactly what I want and give basic directions like, ‘Could you make sure to not crop off our feet’ or ‘Would you position us slightly to the side and fit the Eiffel Tower to our other side.’ If I were taking a photo for someone, I’d want to make it what they want, so I assume others are the same.
How do you figure out what to do on a trip?
Once our flights, hotels, and any other transportation are booked, I start planning the ‘What to do’ and ‘Where to eat’ part of our trip! I scour blogs, travel sites, Pinterest, and Trip Advisor looking for favorite experiences.
If it’s a show, experience, or notable restaurant I’m dying to try that requires a ticket or reservation, I’ll pre-book. But the rest of it we play by ear and decide while on the trip what we feel like doing that day. Sometimes the best memories come from just enjoying the space you’re in!
You know I love searching eBay for great prices on travel gear, designer faves, and especially the Dyson store for incredible deals on vacuums and my beloved dryer. I’m thrilled to announce eBay has given me a home page on their site!! I’ve carefully curated my fave finds currently available, and will work hard to keep it updated for the next couple of months. Perfect for holiday shopping, too! You can check it out here…and let me know what you love searching on eBay and I’ll add them to my page!
*This post is created in collaboration with eBay, but all thoughts, product selects, and solicited advice are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*