Travel Necessities: What's In My Carry On

Monday, June 30, 2014

Water Bottle // 4: West Elm Travel Set (sold out) // 5: iPad with Smart Cover

You literally won't find me on a plane without these things. 

After years of overpacking on the "what if's" (read: scarves & shoes) and leaving out some essentials (like a snack), I think I've finally mastered it. But the great thing about every item up there is that 

Bombino Cord Wrap
You can find similar alternatives to this little cord keeper, and any of them will do. But I will so that I love grabbing my headphones and not spending 15 minutes sorting out the tangles every time I want to use them.

Larabar
Once again, this is personal preference. But I find that short flights (like the one-hour-and-some-change Nashville to Chicago) is always the time I'm the most ravenous. Since gems like American Airlines don't even serve a crummy little bag of peanuts or pretzels anymore, it's wise to have something to much on! I find granola bars are a good choice because they can live in your purse for a quite a while and still be edible. Almonds are another go to. I personally prefer Larabars because they  contain very few ingredients, and all of which can be read without a translator & purchased easily at a grocery store (the coconut one has: dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. THAT'S LITERALLY IT.)

Vapur
I'll never forget the day I invented this. I was sick of buying bottles of water when I was out, but also sick of carrying around a HUGE reusable canteen or Nalgene just incase I was thirsty. I thought to myself, "What if there was a re-usable Capri Sun type bottle that I could fill up with water, and leave flat in my purse when I wasn't using it?!" I swore I was going to be a millionaire.... until I googled it and found out it was already invented. Dang it. Well, if I'm not going to be rich, I'm just glad it's already a thing, because I use it constantly. I got mine on Amazon (certain colors go on sale from time to time).

Travel Set
I've found that being short on airplanes comes at an advantage & a disadvantage. The advantage? Leg room is not an issue for me. However, my head is always being pushed forward/down by the headrest, because it's where everyone else's necks are. A neck pillow seemed like a nice option, but the inflatable ones were sticky plastic and the plush ones took up too much space... so I just skipped it. UNTIL I found this great set at West Elm! The jersey knit cover makes it soft, but the pillow itself is a blow up... best of both worlds! It's awesome. The West Elm set is sold out, but here's a similar one.

iPad Mini & Smart Case
I never thought I'd get an iPad, especially a mini one (I'm definitely one of those people who thought they were just oversized phones), but I'm so glad we have it. On trips where we're only doing light work, we just use that instead of hauling a laptop. Plus, the iPad can have books, movies, magazines (all Condé Nast magazines include a free digital subscription!), and the battery lasts forever. We load it up with movie rentals from Amazon & use the Smart Case to prop it up. The Smart Case was a non negotiable to me when we decided on getting an iPad. But, we're cheap, so we got one off eBay that came with a hard case for the back, too. 

So there you have it! Those are my essentials. Do you use any of these when you travel? Think it's over the top? What are your must-haves?


You Learn Something New Everyday v.1

Friday, June 27, 2014

My brain is full of useless facts. What can I say, I'm curious and I like to know the answers to thinks.

I thought I'd start sharing some of my new found information.

1 - It's common practice for USPS Mail Carriers in Chicago to only DELIVER mail, not pick it up. Which means in order to mail a letter, you have to GO to the Post Office or find one of these bad boys.
 I've just never heard of anything like that. Apparently Chicago has the worst mail delivery in the nation with wrong mail delivered, late or undelivered mail, and the worst post office locations available. This is apparently why it typically takes 6-8 business days (so almost two full weeks) for a letter to get from Nashville to the correct address in Chicago (most domestic mail I send takes 2-3 business days).


2 - Lloydminster

Lloydminster is a city in Canada. It is on the border of two providences, Alberta and Saskatchewan. This is different than twin cities (like Kansas City, MO/KS), because they are two cities that share the same name and nothing else. Lloydminster is one city, split down the middle. 


You can see the two providences.

Closer view of the city.
On top of the fact that this one city is governed in several different ways, Saskatchewan and Alberta also happen to be in different time zones. SK is Central time, and AB is Mountain time. Crazy. More info here.

3 - Peter's Map Projection

This one actually blows my mind. You may have heard of Mercator Map Projection (I've only heard of it within the last year), which is the map projection we know and love.....
Turns out, this version of the map was created in Germany about 500 years ago to assist with crossing oceans. Notice the distorted space between The Equater and 30*N Latatude vs. 30-60*N? I never really thought that much about it, until I saw this map of Peter's Projection (more accurate) with Mercator Projection on top of it.


it's like my entire life has been a lie.
Greenland.... what a hoax! And poor Africa, it's actually twice as large as we've been giving it credit for this entire time. I was shown this clip of the West Wing which inspired my rabbit hole of research.

4 - The Apple's Dirty Little Secret

No, I'm not talking about your iPhone recording all your conversations. I'm talking about these beauties.....
I seriously love apples. I also love fresh flowers. If you come to my house, 99% of the time, you'll see my big white bowl full of assorted fruits and veggies - including several apples (most likely Gala!). In that same 99%, there will be fresh flowers on the counter, because fresh flowers make me happy :) Often times I find myself replacing the flowers more often than I'd like. I've finally learned why!

Apples (as well as bananas) give off a gas called ethylene, a hydrocarbon (as if I know what that means) that causes other organic material to progress faster. This means flowers die faster and other fruit & veggies ripen at a rapid pace. This can be a great tip if you've got a rock-hard avocado or peach, but it's bad news for the peonies, whose lifespan is that of a fruit fly already. From now on, my apples will be in the fridge. 


*****

Those are my random thoughts for the day. Am I the only one who gets strangely interested in this kind of stuff?




Being In Two Places At Once (and how to pull it off)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Disclaimer: I know I'm crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to be at two weddings on the same day. Wedding #1 was in Washington, DC and Wedding #2 was in Wichita, KS. It's kind of like the opening scene of 27 Dresses on crack.

Quite literally half way across the country.

Unfortunately, both of these weddings were non-negotiable. One was my cousin and one was one of my best friends (for the last 12+ years). Wedding #1 was at 11am and Wedding #2 was at 6pm.  It seemed pretty impossible, but with some careful planning, we made it happen. The truth is, I didn't feel any more stressed on this trip because I typically plan ahead and pay attention to details.... so this trip just happened to be the time it all paid off. If you're just as crazy as I am, here's some guidance if you need to be in two places at once.

#1 - Make peace with missing a few things
I missed Wedding #2's rehearsal dinner and had to leave Reception #1 early. You can't have it all, so prepare yourself (and your host) that you'll miss out on a few things.

#2 - Use what you have to make it work
I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that Wichita is not a bustling metropolis with endless flight options. We had exactly 1 option to fly there in time for the wedding. Leaving DC at 2.15pm, layover in Chicago, landing in Wichita at 5.35pm. If everything went as scheduled, this would give me 25 minutes to get from the airport, change into my bridesmaids dress, and be there in time to walk down the aisle. Oh, did I not mention I was a bridesmaid in W#2? It might not have been ideal, but it worked! For this trip we booked 3 separate One Way flights and it was most definitely the cheapest and most convenient. More on that, here.

#3 - Overplan everything
Map out everything - how you're getting to/from the airport? Who is calling the cab? How long will it take you to get there? Then double check/build in back up. It takes 45 minutes to drive there and 20 minutes to go through security, but bump that to 1hour and 30 minutes. Have a 2nd cab number ready to go if your first one doesn't show up. You'll be thanking yourself later.

#4 - Pack as lightly as possible
I cannot stress this enough. This sounds like common sense, but for something like this you should definitely be carrying on. And to take it a step further, avoid the roller board bag. Often times, airlines will make you gate check (for free) larger carry ons, and you're left waiting for your bad. Time is money in this situation. For the 3 day weekend I brought a 28L backpack and a purse. This allowed me to shove the backpack in EVERY overhead bin and I never had to wait on an airline. I also used packing cubes to organize each day. I have been using them for the last couple of years and I can't tell you how amazing they are! Stick to the basics and double up as much as you can. 1 pair of jeans with a few different tops, one pair of casual flats that go with everything, etc. This will save you so much stress.

#5 - A small emergency kit is your best friend
Cash, Advil, touch up make up, bandaids, stain remover stick, granola bar, and a few bobby pins.... those are what saved me, anyway. When you're planning your weekend, think of all the things that could go wrong (like blisters or needing a tip for the cab) and decide what you could need in an emergency. You won't have time to go to CVS.

Was it worth it? Hell yes. I got to see most of my family & some of my best friends in 48 hours. I highly suggest it to anyone. The risk is worth the reward! Have you ever been to two weddings in one day? Would you ever? Do you think I'm insane? :)


Wedding in DC





Wedding in Wichita