Smart Packing Tips

My suitcase for Ireland. Notice the roll!
My suitcase for Ireland. Notice the roll!

Everyone dreads it and waits 'til the last minute to do it, but packing is an essential part of traveling. For any of you who claim to be experts at it, I would love to hear from you because I'm always looking for new ideas on how to make it easier. Despite how often I travel I still struggle at it, but along the way I've picked up some helpful tips and tricks to get the job done. And I'm proud to say I've never had to pay extra for my bag being overweight. So, here you are:

  1. Choose your suitcase first and make it smaller than you would think you need. If you go the other way around (pick your clothes first, then the bag to fit it all), you're doomed. And if you choose the biggest bag you've got because you will be gone for an extended length of time, you might as well just fork your wallet over to the airlines now.
  2. Don't wait 'til the last minute. Why? Because if you start a few days in advance, you can go back to your pile later and realize you might not need that 3rd pair of white jeans. I promise, it works. Just like writing a long paper, it's good to take breaks.
  3. Roll, roll, roll. It seriously makes that big of a difference. And your clothes are less wrinkled, usually. My friend and fellow travel enthusiast Sara, has seemed to perfect this technique and actually packs a smaller bag than her husband (eh em, a carry-on for a 2 week trip, seriously?!). Check out her blog post on that here.
  4. Stuff small items inside shoes, like your socks and underwear. It really is all about maximizing space.
  5. If you plan on being active on vacay, bring a pair of old sneakers and leave them at your destination. Hey, we all love to free up space for souvenirs!
  6. Although this is pretty intuitive I can't stress enough to bring samples or travel sizes of your cosmetics. We all have that collection of goods sitting in our drawer that Sephora gives us Beauty Insiders or the bonus goods Kiehl's throws in the bag to urge you to try more products. Well traveling is the perfect time to use those up and save on space.
  7. Last but not least, invest in a luggage scale. They are inexpensive and totally worth the expense of not being surprised at the airport. Those extra airline fees add up quickly! Just make sure it does both kg and lb. You know, for when you're traveling internationally.

Have anything to add? I'd love to hear it!

Save on SPG Hotels

I admit, I'm a little late for posting about Cyber Monday deals but this one is not over yet. Starwood hotels are on sale-- up to 25% off-- for travel through September 2016. So if you're planning a trip for next year (as you should be) this is an excellent chance to get a quality stay for less. What's even better is Starwood Preferred Guest members get an additional 5% off!

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The Best Shoes for Traveling

While many of you are thinking about what sides to serve with your turkey next week, I'm thinking about what to pack for my upcoming trip to Ireland. This year I've opted to trade turkey for travel and I'm quite excited about it. So, appropriately, my next few posts are going to give you some insight on how I prepare for a trip overseas. When it comes to traveling around Europe, there's no denying that it will involve lots and lots of walking. Even my seaside escape to the Amalfi Coast involved some exploring of some sort which wouldn't have happened without happy feet. Finding the right pair of shoes is so important for this type of vacation and every time I'm preparing for some upcoming Euro travel I am faced with the dilemma of finding comfy yet fashionable footwear. I want to be comfortable but at the same time I want to look cute and let's face it, gym sneakers rarely go well with cute. Not to mention, they scream tourist which to me is possibly worse than wearing shoes that dig into the back of your heel.

I've pretty much looked at every Clark's and Merrill shoe out there, but little did I know that these shoes were right beneath my nose. Thanks to a friend who does some modeling for Reebok, I discovered the perfect pair for walking around all day-- the Reebok Skyscape Runaround 2.0. They are super lightweight, offer generous mold-to-your-foot cushioning, and come in all sorts of colors. Best of all they are devoid of any huge logo that screams sneaker. I purchased the black ones and they are exactly what I needed. Thanks, Lauren! BTW, check out her blog for some awesome workouts you can do at home and for some tasty, healthy recipes.

The Reebok Skyscape Runaround 2.0
The Reebok Skyscape Runaround 2.0

Knowing Ireland, I am bound to face some wet weather. As if finding one good pair of shoes was hard enough, I needed to find something that would keep my feet dry. I'm a huge fan of Hunter's wellies and have owned some because of their superb durability since before they were trendy. But they take up some prime real estate in my suitcase, are not really plane-friendly, and it's even more frustrating if the weather forecast proves me wrong and I don't end up wearing them. This is where the Tretorn Skymra Mid SL GTX comes in. They might cause a bit of sticker shock to some but they are made of Gore-tex which ensures that no drop of water will find its way to my feet. They easily fit into my suitcase and they look and wear like a fashionable high-top sneaker, which I love.

The Tretorn Skymra Mid GTX
The Tretorn Skymra Mid GTX

Some other great shoes for traveling include, but are not limited to:

A Chelsea-styled rain boot like the JCrew Chelsea Rain Boot. They look like their stylish all-leather sibling that are super in right now and these ones even come in leopard to add a bit of flair to your outfit.

A slip-on Vans-styled sneaker like the Gap Leather Slip-on. Plain, black leather goes with everything and keeps a low-profile while being a sneaker makes them comfortable too. Not to mention, slip-ons are very TSA and plane-friendly!

Keds. So many fun styles, so much comfort. Love the Kate Spade styles!

So I'd love to know, what is your go-to shoe for traveling?

Note: While this post is all about practicality, I cannot guarantee that my suitcase will not include at least one pair of impractical shoes too, whether that be my Frye boots or a pair of heels. Because sometimes a girl just wants to feel fabulous in a new country too!

The Airline Upgrade Worth Paying For

Delta airlines aircraft
Delta airlines aircraft

These days airlines are will charge you for just about anything (bathroom use, Ryanair, really?) and most of it I refuse just out of principal alone. I hate feeling like I'm being nickeled and dimed. But there is one upgrade that I will pay for and that's Delta Comfort+ or Economy Comfort as it was previously known. Comfort+ is similar to what other airlines consider premium economy but for a fraction of the cost. To be offered this upgrade, you must book a ticket in the main cabin. Once you get to seat selection you should be able to upgrade or you can upgrade after your ticket has been booked, provided there is still availability. If your timing is right, you can get an upgrade for as little as $49 on international flights but usually expect the upgrade to cost around $99. And for domestic flights, it can cost much less but will largely depend on the route. Now, the good stuff. Here is what you get when you upgrade to Comfort+:

Sky Priority boarding

Dedicated overhead bins

Extra legroom (3in. domestic; 4in. international)

50% more recline

Free booze and premium snacks*

Premium entertainment*

Seat in the front of the economy class cabin

*Applies to domestic routes where booze, better snacks and entertainment costs you. On international flights these amenities are complimentary regardless of whether or not you upgrade.

So the big question, is it worth it? Personally and for the legroom alone on an international flight, absolutely. I am not a very big person but 6+ hours in a cramped space is painful and totally worth even paying $99. When you're already paying $1300+ for a ticket, what's another hundred or so when we're talking about being more comfortable? But for a domestic flight, it all depends on how much Delta is charging and how long the flight is. Anything over 4 hours is worth considering for me. However if you are tall or have some achy body parts, anything regardless of flight duration might be worth considering provided the price is right.

Lucky enough to have status with Delta? Silver Medallion members can upgrade to Comfort+ for free 24 hours prior to takeoff, Gold Medallion 72 hours prior to takeoff, and Platinum and Diamond Medallion members can upgrade for free at time of booking. Happy traveling!

More info on Delta's site here.

UPDATE: As of Nov. 17, 2015, Delta has made Comfort+ a booking option like Main Cabin or First/Business Class for U.S. and Canada flights departing on or after May 16, 2016. In other words, you no longer will choose Comfort+ on the seat selection page. This also means that Comfort+ will be booked through to your final destination rather than you having to book it separately for each leg.