Travel Q & A

Happy Friday, friends, and cheers to the weekend! We’re headed home tomorrow, then it’s fully-steam ahead on back-to-school. Little Miss starts Monday, followed by college move-in day next Thursday. I am a giant ball of nerves, anxiety, excitement, and tears.

More than anything, I’m just dreading that moment when we drive away. To help cope, I’ve already starting doing what I do best…planning trips for all the school breaks! It may seem strange, but traveling is my absolute passion, and where we invest a big part of our time and budget.

I love sharing Trip Reports from each of our adventures (find those here), but I’m often asked more general questions about travel. I recently opened it up on my Instagram Story, and the questions came flowing in! I chose the most popular ones to answer today, and will follow up with the remainder soon.


What luggage do you use?

I switched to hard-shell luggage several years ago, and don’t think I’ll ever go back! Not only does hard-shell luggage provide extra protection from rough handling, but keeps the contents dry in rain, snow, and puddles, plus holds it’s shape for easier over-head storage. It’s also easy to keep clean, since you can just wipe it down.

I think one of the myths about hard-shell luggage is it’s heavy, therefore prohibitive to how much you can pack before hitting the airline’s weight limit. But in fact, my CalPak bags are more lightweight than any fabric suitcase I’ve ever owned!

The shallow, double sides also hold so much more, and are easier to access since you’re not digging to the bottom of a deep bag. Every member of my family owns a CalPak 22″ Carry-On bag, and paired with a personal backpack, it was all we needed for two weeks in Greece! (See those packing tips here.) I also own the CalPak 28″ Bag for longer or cold-weather trips. Or in this case, I take them all when shooting a Gibson x Hi Sugarplum Collection! (See the behind-the-scenes of those here.)

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.

outfit details here


How do you pack in just a carry-on?

One word….eBags!! I discovered these several years ago, and they were the biggest travel game-changer! I have a huge assortment of sizes, and my entire family swears by them!

I fold my clothes in the dimensions of each bag, and pile them high! The bags are ventilated and compress your clothes into a compact cube that packs easily, and prevents wrinkling. The material is sturdy and the zippers durable…I’ve had this exact set for years and they are still as efficient as the day I bought them.


What is your go-to travel outfit?

My outfit varies a little depending on the length of the flight, plans upon arrival, and weather…but it always includes comfy shoes and a jean jacket!

For long, international flights, I wear joggers or some sort of knit pant, and a cotton tee or tank. They feel like pajamas, but you look more pulled together and you don’t arrive a rumpled mess. The jean jacket instantly adds style, and also provides an extra layer of warmth on the plane.

Of course my carry-on tote includes a cozy cardigan, fuzzy socks, and more…you can find more on that here.

outfit details here

For shorter or domestic flights, I prefer to keep my legs covered so I opt for jeans or a long skirt. If my final destination is warm, I wear a tee or tank, and the jean jacket keeps me warm enough in my departure city, and adds an extra layer for the chilly plane.

If arriving in a colder climate, I wear a fleecey or jersey long-sleeve, along with my winter coat.

I also use whatever bag I’ll need most on the trip (tote, beach bag, etc), as my personal carry-on. It stacks easily on the flat top of my CalPak 22″ Carry-On bag.

outfit details here


How do you handle jet lag?

Traveling across several time zones takes times and an adjustment. Jet lag is inevitable, but there are things to lessen the effects once you arrive. I used to prefer to hit the ground running, but could barely make it to dinner. So now we do things a little differently!

  1. First, I choose the latest overnight flight available to increase my chances of sleeping on the way over.
  2. Avoid caffeine and stimulants on overnight flights.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I literally guzzle water the entire flight.
  4. As soon as I board, I change my watch to the destination time zone and immediately start using it as my guide.
  5. Do your best to ensure your hotel room is available upon arrival, even if it’s morning, so you aren’t walking around like a zombie in your travel clothes.
  6. If it’s a late afternoon arrival, take a quick shower to revive and head out for a few hours of exploring and dinner. Try to stay up until 10pm before crashing.
  7. If it’s a morning arrival, take a power nap at the hotel, but no more than 2-hours! Set an alarm to be sure! Then shower and head out for exploring.
  8. NEVER calculate what time your body ‘thinks’ it is! You’re on a new time clock now, stick with it!


Do you plan everything or do you use a travel agent?

I love every aspect of travel, from planning the trip, agonizing over hotel choices, finding the best local foods, and exploring new cultures and environments. So I plan all our trips…but wouldn’t say I do it alone!

I reach out to friends, scour blogs and Pinterest, and consult countless travel sites. Depending on the trip, it can take me anywhere from a day or two, to weeks and weeks!


Do you stick with healthy eating and working out when you travel?

Travel is a full experience for me…from the food to the activities. So I don’t limit what or when I eat (rarely do I practice Intermittent Fasting when we travel…see that Q&A here). I also don’t want to spend precious time on a trip in the gym!

That said, we almost always choose destinations with an active element! Hiking in national parks, skiing in the mountains, hours of walking European villages, and even long walks on the beach. So while I’m not seeking out traditional work-outs, we are staying active.

As for food, I eat all the things! I’ll always remember the gelato cone on the gondola in Venice, the Nutella crepe in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, the block of feta staring out at the Mediterranean Sea. I won’t remember if came home with tighter pants or not.

But instead of two scoops, I’ll get one. Or instead of two huge plates of pasta, we’ll split one. So there’s some moderation. I fully enjoy every aspect of the travel, then get back to my usual routine when we get home.


Do you fly coach when traveling internationally? If so, how do you make it more comfortable?

When we first started traveling, we chose the cheapest seat that got us to our destination and were happy as clams to be there! Now that we’re older, we don’t bounce back from long, uncomfortable flights as quickly, so I made a few changes to ensure better flying options for international flights!

  1. I use a mileage-accruing credit card, and we put absolutely everything on it! I also fly one airline almost exclusively, so I’m racking up as many points, and status, as possible.
  2. The departing flight is usually the most crucial to us, since we usually need to ensure sleep, so I’ll use miles/points for business class on the way over, but coach or preferred economy on the way back.
  3. If business seats aren’t available, I’ll book a coach seat with miles, then pay to upgrade to the next cabin.
  4. I never book a flight without securing the best possible seats within our budget. For us, seats are more important than the day or flight time, so I’ll look at several flights until finding the best seating options.
  5. If coach class is inevitable, I always pay the fee to secure a seat in the front of the cabin with optimal leg room and dedicated overhead bin space. Seat Guru is an amazing source for selecting the best seats for every plane/flight. Then pack cozy socks, soft cardigan, eye mask, ear plugs, and a neck pillow to make the space as comfortable as possible.


Do you always travel with just a carry-on?

No, it really depends on the destination and itinerary, but I love the ease of carry-on life and try to make it work whenever possible. No lost luggage, no waiting at baggage claim, no lugging heavy bags!

I always weigh the options…do we have a short connection time where checked bags could be a problem? Are we changing locations several times? Can I buy full-size items if needed at my destination? Will the hotels provide essentials like hair dryers and toiletries? If the answer is yes, then I try to make a carry-on work.

If the answer is no, and I want the option to bring more, I go with a checked bag. Another tip is to get TSA Precheck…not only does it give you access to easier security lines, but you don’t have to pull liquids out of your bag. So as long as everything is under 3ozs, you can pack them in your main toiletry bag.


Did you travel a lot when your kids were little?

Mr. SP and I have taken a kid-free trip every year we’ve been together…minus the years each kid was born. It’s always been the best thing for our marriage!

We also want to share the world outside our home bubble with the kids, so we travel as a family, as well. But while we wanted them to experience the world, it didn’t make sense to spend a fortune on places they wouldn’t remember! Or make the trip more work than fun! So we started small, with road trips and weekend adventures that only required a short flight.

We spent a lot of time at the beach, and exploring big cities over a long weekend. So they got used to the travel and how to behave, but it was mostly about fun family time. As they got older, the trips got bigger and a little more strenuous, but always with active, family-friendly elements.

This year was the first for them to travel outside our country (they’re 18 and 13), and I’m so excited to venture further.


What do you do for international phone service?

I always choose hotels with wifi so I’m able to use email, iMessage, FaceTime, and internet when necessary. My phone carrier also offers a Passport Plan for just $10 a day, so I’ll activate that on trips when I know I’ll want full data and phone service outside of the wifi parameters.


What are your sleeping arrangements? Do you get an extra room for your kids?

It’s a little different for every trip, depending on hotel options, but we always share a single space. Family travel is exactly that…the chance for us to spend as much time together as a family. So we leave friends behind, and share a single room or apartment.

I look for rooms with two of the largest beds, or a pull-out sofa, or sometimes rent small two-bedroom apartments. The time before bed always seems to be when we have the most fun, so I don’t want to miss that just for the chance to have a little more personal space.


Okay, I think that’s enough for today!! So many great questions, and so many more to come in my next Travel Q&A installment! Feel free to leave any in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list! Happy weekend, lovebugs!

[Shop My Travel Essentials]


*This post is created in collaboration with eBay, but all thoughts, opinions, and wanderlust are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*

Leave a Comment



    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
  2. Emi wrote:

    I love this post so much!! My husband and I are getting more and more active in our traveling all the time and I am so happy- I’m like you, I’ve got the travel bug BAD! Thanks for the great tips!! Can’t wait to use them on our couples trips and with the Teeny 💕

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
  3. Beth W. wrote:

    Cassie– Yes! eBags for the win! Thank you so much for letting me know how great they are *and* for sharing how you often take long trips with just your carry-on. Thanks to you, my teenage daughter took a 10-day school trip to Scotland & Ireland this summer with just her carry-on, the only one out of 20 who didn’t need to check her luggage. It gave her such peace of mind to always have her bag with her and took away any stress and anxiety as far as that part of the trip went (2 international flights, 5 hotels, and a ferry ride). She took jeans, light sweaters, even rainboots–it all fit! People were skeptical, but she just told them all about her eBags ;o). (Side note, airport security had her lift her bag up over her head a few times to make sure she could manage it, and that was fine, too.) –Beth

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Beth W. wrote:

      Correction! My daughter just let me know security didn’t ask her to lift her bag, but she did need to make sure she could do all the lifting on her own. Which was fine ;o).

      Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      That’s incredible!! Sounds like an amazing trip!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  4. patti wrote:

    Do you have any tips to ensure your hotel is ready for you when you arrive early? That has been one of our biggest problems. “Walking around like a zombie in your travel clothes”

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I will email the hotel directly and request it. it’s not always guaranteed, but they usually try their best!!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  5. Mary wrote:

    Going on a group trip to Spain and Italy soon. Would you recommend the footrest that you took to Greece? I’m not convinced the benefit outweighs carrying it, packing it, etc. Can you explain more how you used it on the flight? Thank you so much! I went to Italy 5 years ago and used your packing tips to have only a carry on for 12 days!!

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      That trip sounds amazing!! The foot pillow is actually only the size of your hand when deflated, so packing it wasn’t an issue for us. We used it in premium economy, so it was perfect for filling the gap between our seat and the seat in front of us. I can’t guarantee it fits in traditional coach, but the description says it does! My daughter and I absolutely loved it!! Allowed us to turn on our sides a bit and have our feet elevated, and we both slept!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  6. Sandy wrote:

    Intermittent fasting, down the tubes, ha,ha!
    I would remember a chunk of feta w/a Greek sunset too!
    I am with you on leaving the expensive trips until kids are old enough to remember them-Disney included.
    Great tips, thank you!

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
  7. Kim wrote:

    Question: when taking one suitcase and using ebags, how do you deal with wrinkled clothes?

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      My clothes rarely wrinkle when packed properly in the ebags!!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  8. Colleen wrote:

    I agree on wearing the jean jacket. I discovered inside the jean jacket behind the pocket is another pocket. The main pocket is sewn into the bottom band of the jacket and its quite large. I stuff my phone on one side and the passport on the other side. It was by coincidence that I found it and checked all of my jean jackets and the construction is the same on all of them. Very handy and secure and still look pulled together with the jean jacket.

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Kasey wrote:

      Thank you for that tip!! I just checked my Jean jacket from Old Navy and sure enough, pockets on the inside on both sides!! Woohoo!!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  9. Mokie wrote:

    Love all your tips! I love to travel also but my family doesn’t so much and I have 3 boys so that’s when I decided to see all the baseball stadiums. It took us 10 summers but we finished this May in Florida. I know you said you like to get one room as a family for travel but wanted to let you know when my first went to college the following summer when we were seeing another group of stadiums I got 2 rooms in many places and it was great for the kids to stay together and reconnect. It was one of my most favorite memories giving them that time without us to hang together. Just FYI as I know your oldest is heading off next week 😊

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Great idea on the baseball stadiums, mom!!! I love getting the kids involved in where we go now, too! And thanks for the tip on the extra room!

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  10. Joanna wrote:

    I’m not seeing your exact bag through the link. I love the two tone.
    When traveling with the kids we always booked two rooms with an adjoining door. I know that is not always possible, in which case we had two rooms across from each other so we could still see into each others room. That way five of us were not crowded into 1 room and sharing one bath. And, a pool was mandatory!
    I’m getting better at travelling light but still can’t quite do the carry on only. I don’t know how women do it. Maybe, those packing cubes would help.

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      The packing cubes will DEF help!! And yes, we’d likely add a second room if our family were bigger! Here’s the link to my exact two-tone suitcase…I couldn’t find a lesser-priced one on eBay unfortunately.

      Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  11. Anabel wrote:

    Just got 2 sets of ebags. Can’t wait to try them at the end of the month !

    Posted 8.9.19 Reply
  12. Leeann wrote:

    Does your tote bag fit under the seat in front of you?

    Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  13. Jen wrote:

    I would love to know more about your packing process. I find packing stressful and I feel like it takes me an entire day! What do you do to make the task easier?

    Posted 8.10.19 Reply
  14. Jane wrote:

    What is your favorite airline to travel on?

    Posted 8.11.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      It’s not necessarily our favorite, but we fly American 99% of the time…mostly because Dallas is their hub and it’s the most convenient. Lufthansia is our favorite European airline…they treat you so nicely!!

      Posted 8.12.19 Reply
  15. Cindy wrote:

    What about those lavender sneakers!?!! I am obsessed

    Posted 8.11.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Those are Nikes! So cute, right?! I think they’re discontinued though. :/

      Posted 8.12.19 Reply
  16. Breda wrote:

    If this is to personal, I understand, but what credit card do you use, and which airline? I’ve been looking into getting a credit card for this exact reason, and the choices are overwhelming.

    Posted 8.11.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      We use a citicard for American Airlines miles. I’d start with the airline you fly most, and research the cards that accrue the most points for them!

      Posted 8.12.19 Reply
  17. Brenda wrote:

    Would you mind sharing which is the most mileage accruing credit card that you have found and which airline you normally use those miles on.

    Posted 8.11.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      We use a Citibank card and accrue miles for American Airlines. Dallas is their hub, so that’s always been our main airline. I fly with them 99% of the time, even if the rate is a bit higher on occasion…earning the miles is key for us!

      Posted 8.12.19 Reply
  18. Sarah M wrote:

    I love traveling as well! We have 5 boys (2 sets of twins 10 months joke!!!!) Total surprise as the first set were honeymoon babes and obviously the other two came verrry quickly after! The baby babe came 2 years later. It is a wild ride, but I love every minute of it. They are 24, 24, 24, 24, and 22. It’s the wild time the twins are the same ages.
    We have been to all 50 states and 7 continents!!
    Thanks for sharing everything! Real quick…it’s LUFTHANSA not LUFTHANSIA. Figured you would want to know🤗

    Posted 8.12.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      You are a superwoman!!!! Seriously, I’m in awe of you!

      Posted 8.13.19 Reply
  19. Shelly wrote:

    I love travel and packing. Thanks so very much for sharing travel advice, it is very helpful!
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Posted 8.14.19 Reply
  20. Deb Hawkinson wrote:

    I love the cognac colored bag in the first picture. What brand is it??

    Posted 8.15.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      It’s from Barrington!

      Posted 8.18.19 Reply
  21. Katherine wrote:

    Hi Cassie, I enjoy your blog especially these types of articles that go beyond the fashion ideas. I was wondering if you have any particular travel blogs that you like and would be open to sharing? I do all of our travel planning as well and would love ideas for blogs – real people ideas! – for thoughts beyond what TripAdvisor has to say. Thank you in advance!

    Posted 8.17.19 Reply
  22. Deborah Hawkinson wrote:


    Posted 8.21.19 Reply
  23. Gina wrote:

    Sooooo proud of your traveling chops! You ROCK!

    Posted 8.22.19 Reply