Avoid Over Packing with These Tips

Packing List

In a way, the perfect packing list is key to saving time and money on a trip. Most airlines charge for checked bags, anywhere from $25-$50. And that is each way. Might not seem like a lot, but why pay for something you could avoid? Plus, there is the benefit of not having to spend time checking your bag before your flight or having to wait for it after you land. So whether you are trying to make everything fit in a carry on or just trying to avoid a heavy suitcase, here are some tips for only packing what you need.

Clothing Packing List

Clothing is perhaps the biggest piece of packing for a trip. It is one of the most important parts – and takes up the most room as well. This is why carefully making a packing list is so crucial, you really can’t afford to waste any space. Here are some tips for packing clothes that will save time and money.

Check the Weather

Keep an eye on the weather up until the day before you are about to leave. Make sure you are packing clothes accordingly.

Plan Activities

Hopefully before your trip you have at least an idea of some of the activities you are going to do. Try to plan outfits that you would feel most comfortable doing these activities in. Are you spending your time at the beach? Or are you going to be hiking most of the trip? Maybe you plan to spend your time going to museums or shopping. Make a rough list of some of the activities you realistically plan to do, and create a packing list accordingly. Don’t pack some super nice dress “just in case” a fancy occasion pops up. It is your trip, if you don’t plan it then it won’t come up. Save the space.

Pack Outfits – Not Pieces

Do not throw a bunch of tops, bottoms, and shoes in your suitcase with the idea of making it all work once you get there. Not only will it likely not work, but you will be stressed out every morning trying to pick outfits. Instead pick outfits to put on your packing list (taking into consideration the weather and activities, as mentioned above) and stick to them. If you are more of a visual person like me, you can start keeping an album of go to outfits and you can pick from those. Read all about how I do this here.

Create a Standard Packing List

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you go somewhere. Create a template packing list that works for you and stick to it. It might take a few trips to tweak it just right, but after that you will feel much more at ease. Include a section with a list of the super important things that must be brought – such as travel documents and any medications you might use. Also list some of the things you most often forget, so that you always have them written down. My most forgotten item? Pajamas. Not the worst thing in the world, but still annoying.

To help you create a template, run through a typical day in your head. Write down all items that you would use and need. This should help you to remember some of the more mundane and easily forgotten items (like your PJs).

The Bottom Line

Having a perfect packing list will save you time and hassle (and maybe even a little money too!) Make sure you carefully select outfits with weather and activities in mind. Put together a template packing list for the feature so that you do not leave anything important behind. Most importantly, create your packing list and stick to it.

What is your most forgotten item?

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Vegas: How Much a Trip Really Costs for Two People

Las Vegas

A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I took a four day trip to Las Vegas. To be honest, it is probably the first big trip that I have planned and paid for all by myself since graduating college and I was so excited. Saving money for this trip was easy, and I break down how you can do it in this post!

Since this blog is all about saving money, part of that including traveling, I thought I would show you how I did. Coming up in some future blog posts I would like to break down the individual processes of how I pick things as well. But for now here is an overview of my trip and an estimate of how much it cost. Enjoy!

For each category I will have totals, and remember that these are the totals for two people, not one!

Airfare to Vegas

So usually the big ticket item on a trip out of town in the plane ticket. We purchased ours in February for a May trip. To get the cheapest flight, we were pretty flexible in the weekend we decided to go. After playing around with some options, a Saturday-Tuesday trip seemed to be the cheapest option with a weekend included (I wanted to save some vacation time and only take two days off of work).

We decided to fly Southwest for a couple of reasons. One, my boyfriend has a rewards card with points he could redeem for his flight. So he already knew that was the airline he was going to go with. I on the other hand do not have any rewards points, so I was open to any options within my price range.

After looking, Frontier had the cheapest fares. I have never flown Frontier, but my boyfriend has and even said he had a good experience. However I am still skeptical about the whole thing (I have seen tons of bad reviews, it has to be cheap for a reason, right?) Still I considered it before I had a major realization. Frontier charges for bags (whether you check or carry on, so be careful if you do fly with them!) So even if I had a carry on for a bag, I would be paying $35 each way, for a total of $75 the entire trip. That plus the ticket price was actually more than a Southwest ticket, who has free baggage (carry on and one checked bag free).

So I went with Southwest!

Total for Flight and Bags:

$271.89

Hotel

Of course the next most important detail is the hotel. My boyfriend has been to Vegas several times, and is a part of a rewards club. He had gotten an email offering a free hotel stay at one of a few select hotels in Las Vegas.

(the view from our room)

So we looked through the list and decided to go with the LINQ Hotel. We were able to get the Deluxe King room and a view overlooking the Ferris wheel (the biggest in the world). While the room was free, we had to pay a fee for some things like the internet, which was $30 a day.

Total for Hotel:

$102.04

Transportation

Thankfully we stayed in the middle of the Las Vegas strip, so most of what we wanted to do was within walking distance. However there were sometimes where transportation was necessary. For those instances we used Uber. We used Uber four separate rides: to and from the airport, as well as to and from one of the shows we went to.

Total for Transportation:

$62.07

Entertainment

When in Vegas, you have to go to a show. We chose to go to Penn & Teller (amazing, by the way!) Buying the tickets the day of (found on this website) saved $10-$20 on each ticket, so we got each one for about $61.50 plus applicable fees.

We also decided to go on the High Roller Ferris Wheel. It is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, and it was right next to our hotel – I couldn’t say no to that. Tickets are normally $37 a person, but when I signed up for the rewards program at the casino we stayed at I got a coupon for 2 for 1 ride! It was a great surprise because we were already planning on doing it, but it was cheaper now.

Other than that we spent out stay just walking around from casino to casino looking at themes and great displays, which of course was free.

(beautiful flowers at the Bellagio Conservatory – free to view!)

Total for Entertainment:

$183.45

Food

Of all the activities we did in Vegas, food was probably the most expensive.

Day One:

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar

We got some trash can brisket nachos to share and each got our own burger.

$61.50 + tip

Day Two:

Wicked Spoon Buffet

I had heard so much about this buffet and had to try it – and it did not disappoint. Weekend brunch was $36 a person.

Day Three:

Hash House a Go Go

Decided to try this place since it was located in our hotel and it was fantastic! I got the Tractor Driver combo – a HUGE red velvet pancake, bacon, and eggs. And my boyfriend got the Sage Fried Chicken Benedict (one of the things they are known for).

$30.98 + tip

Gordon Ramsay Burger

We stopped in here mid-day after doing some walking around town. We weren’t too hungry, so we split the Hells’ Kitchen burger – and it was possibly the best burger I have ever had.

$15 + tip

Virgil’s Real Barbecue

Walked past this place late at night and it smelled so good we decided to go in. Got the pig out platter with ribs, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. Yummy!

$24.38 + tip

Day Four:

Cravings Buffet – The Mirage

We ended the trip with a simple buffet. We went during the weekday brunch for $20.99. For the price, this was a great value. Plenty of options to choose from and there was no crowd or lines to deal with.

$41.98

Total for Food:

$246.44

Other Notes

Of course we did some gambling and bought souvenirs, but I am not going to include all of that since it was unnecessary and just what we decided to do.

Also I mentioned a few times that we used a rewards program throughout this trip and it helped so much! This is how we got the hotel for so cheap, and got various coupons. We also got free tickets to a show, and two free drink tickets we could use at various casinos. I highly suggest signing up when you get there if you haven’t already. It will help for the current trip as well as future ones.

Total Expense

So for hotel, airfare, food, transportation, and entertainment we spent a total of $865.89 on the trip total for two people. Under $1000 total for a four day trip is not too bad in my book!

Bottom Line

I think my first trip planned was a success and actually probably cheaper than expected. Eating big meals once a day saves tons of money. Also, being a part of a rewards program certainly helped with the costs, and I highly recommend to anyone going to Vegas.

What trip are you planning in the upcoming months and how do you plan to save money?

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The One Type of Cheap Vacation You Can Afford Today

Cheap Vacation

Why a Staycation?

Staycations can be cheap and fun. One of the best parts is just getting a nice hotel, being lazy and enjoying the room. Another thing about vacations is that usually you do not spend a lot of time in your hotel room. That would be a waste, right? To spend the money on the plane ticket just to sit in a hotel room? Well this is where the staycation comes in. The trip partially is the hotel room.

Find the Perfect Place to Stay

As I mentioned, the best part of a staycation is where you stay. So do some research and find the best place to stay for you. Whether it is the newest hotel in town, a hotel with old time character, or a tiny house. Speaking of which – don’t be afraid of airbnb! You can find some seriously cool places – often cheaper than a hotel room. And more private. Plus, if you go with a big group you can split the cost and still stay close together.

Where to Go

When I say staycation, you don’t have to stay in the very city you live in. Go somewhere close. If you live in a suburb, you might want to go to the biggest city that is closest to you. Alternatively, if you live in a city, you might want to stay at a small town near you. It is nice to get away from the city for a while and just relax. Since I live in San Antonio, my favorite go to is Fredericksburg, TX. It is close enough by that I don’t spend a lot of money on gas, but there is still tons to do. Tons of good bed and breakfasts, wineries, breweries, and great food.

Need More Ideas?

Still not sure where to visit? Google “Day Trips from _____ (your hometown)”. A lot of big cities even have travel books. For instance, I checked out this book from my library for ideas. Which brings me to another point, go to your library and check out the travel book section. They are likely to have state specific trips that will be within your reach. They will give you information like the best places to stay, eat, shop, as well as activities specific to that city. These are a great resource, and getting it from your library is free.

The Bottom Line

Need a break but can’t afford a plane ticket? Rethink a staycation! Find a town near you, reserve a room, and spend the weekend eating, drinking, and relaxing. Sometimes that is better than the packed itineraries anyway.

What is your favorite kind of staycation?

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The Top Six Sturdy Carry On Suitcases Under $100

Carry On Suitcase

Carry On’s

Since I plan on being a serious traveler this year, I decided to start acting like it. I did not have a carry on size suitcase. In fact I have only ever checked a bag when flying. However, I started thinking about it and how much money I end up wasting doing that.

The Math

Say you plan to travel four times in a year, and you check a bag each trip, both ways. That bag will cost you at least $25 (each way), usually more. That’s $200 a year you didn’t need to spend. So get yourself a carry on sized suitcase, and save some money for more travel!

My Carry On Picks

So I started doing some research on some cheap (but still cute and functional) carry on suitcases and here are my picks. They are all hardshell, four wheel suitcases. I definitely feel like cloth, two wheelers are a thing of the past. Once you get one of these, you will wonder why all suitcases didn’t have four wheels before! Airports are a breeze with the smooth ride on these wheels.

carry on
carry on

Samsonite // Aimee Kestenberg // Rockland Melbourne // Traveler’s Club // Utopia Home // Traveler’s Club

*Note that prices may change, and vary based on color

 

My Carry On Suitcase

So which one did I pick? The gold of course! I love gold, and this one was too perfect. It looks so nice in person. When I saw it go on sale on Amazon, I took it as a sign and bought it. I was hesitant at first, since the color looked odd in the photos, but the reviews were great so I went for it. Check it out for yourself!

carry on suitcase

Bottom Line

Don’t spend your money when you don’t have to. Pick one of these affordable, yet sturdy carry on’s and never check a bag again! Now that I have a carry on, I will be testing out the best ways to fit the most in it – so stick around for that post coming soon!

Which carry on is your favorite? Have another pick I didn’t mention? Leave it in the comments below!

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Save Money Traveling – One Tip to Help Save Time and Money on Your Next Trip

Save Money Traveling

One thing that I have learned over time that enables me to save money traveling is to have snacks and meals on hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. And going to new restaurants is one of my favorite parts of traveling. But when you are on a trip for a few days, it can get old quickly – and expensive. To save money traveling, I use this trick. As an added bonus, you will save tons of time with this tip so you have more time to explore the city.

Where to Go

One of the first things I like to do when I land is go to my hotel, relax, then head to the nearest grocery store, or convenience store. If you want to save even more time, you can plan ahead and see what is around your hotel and have it mapped out. The best way to find a grocery store near your hotel (especially if you are planning ahead) is to go to Yelp. Here you can type in the hotel’s address, and search “grocery store” and it will pull up the ones closest to your hotel. Then I go in and buy my food.

What to Get

I usually get a little of each of these three categories: breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Breakfast:

For breakfast I like things like yogurt (if you have a mini fridge) and oatmeal. Oatmeal is the one thing you can make it almost any hotel room. Since you can make it in either the microwave, or if you don’t have one in your room you can use the coffee pot! To make it even easier, you can buy the single serve bowls so you do not have to find a bowl to cook it in. Or if you want to buy packets you can use whatever coffee mugs or cups the hotel provides.

Snacks

For snacks I like things like bananas, granola bars, and almonds. Something easy to grab and go. You want at least a couple of snacks that you can throw in your bag, especially when you have a full day of activities planned and don’t want to be burdened with being hungry and grumpy.

Lunch

Lunch can be tough, depending on your hotel situation. If you have a refrigerator, I like to go for the pre-made salads and sandwiches. One of my favorite places to go for this kind of stuff is Trader Joe’s. They have so many pre-made options (that are healthy, too!) This is the perfect break from all of the fatty foods you have probably been eating all trip long. Just about every grocery store and convenience store has something of this sort. You can even buy what you need to make your own sandwiches.

Other Notes

Water

Of course, I like to get some waters, too. Good drinking water can be hard to find in a hotel, so save your money and just buy a small pack at the grocery store. Otherwise you might end up spending a fortune throughout the trip in convenience stores, vending machines, or the hotel’s store. All options that are way more expensive than if you would have just bought a pack in the first place.

Silverware

Also, if you plan to eat something that requires silverware make sure you plan for that too. Some pre-made salads might come with it. Other things won’t. You can either buy a small pack at the store, or get them from your hotel. If your hotel has a free breakfast in the morning you can get them from there. Or if you just call down to the front desk and ask, they will most likely oblige.

Saving Even More Time and Money

If you have the room for it, you can even bring food from home. If you have room in your suitcase throw some snacks in there. Of course this option limits you to only non perishable foods, but you can still bring quite a bit, and save yourself some time when you get there.

Save Money Traveling

So there you have it, my super simple tip to help you save money traveling. I cannot express enough how much this has improved my experience while traveling. Don’t let your hunger and time crunch ruin your trip. Eat in for at least one meal a day, with snacks, and go out and eat whatever you want for the rest of your meals! You will appreciate the food more if you don’t eat out every meal, plus this will save you a lot of time and money.

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