Tag Archives: budget

(Drugstore) Skincare Essentials 

21 May

Skincare has become as big an industry as makeup, with hundreds to thousands of brands pumping out some new exciting product every other week.  It can make things very confusing and you can find yourself dropping lots of money on these items.

This is my list of skincare essentials all of which may be found in a drugstore. This doesn’t mean there aren’t outstanding higher end skincare products, but it isn’t a necessity.

Before I proceed with my list let me state two important points:

FIRSTLY, Consult your family physician or dermatologist to determine the right skincare regimen for you. Skincare and makeup go side by side, however, one (skincare) falls into the realm of medicine. I’m not saying to disregard any advice given by makeup artists or gurus, however, do not take it as gospel.

SECONDLY, Having healthy skin is affected by lifestyle, so it almost goes without mentioning that you should aim to: eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, limit the amount of alcohol you intake and avoid smoking.

I also want to state that many of my skincare choices come both from my personal dermatologist as well as a dermatologist who has a great, informative YouTube channel; Dr.Dray

Lastly it is worth mentioning that I have acne prone, sensitive, oily-combination skin (that’s also technically ageing). This means that if I can use it,  anyone can!

With all that stuff out of the way, let us proceed.
SKINCARE ESSENTIALS

1 Makeup remover and eye makeup remover– Yes I know these are technically two things! Makeup remover is important in breaking down as much of the cake face before you wash, making it easier. Makeup remover comes in wipes or liquid and even some oils (also technically liquid)

I have nothing but good things to say about the Garnier micellar remover, but there are loads of other brands at the drugstore. 

As for eye makeup remover I’m currently using Almay liquid remover. Another recommendation is witch hazel which is gentle, affordable and effective. 

2 Face wash– A gentle, non-exfoliant face wash for everyday use. This creates a bit of controversy as many persons especially those who wear a lot of makeup think they need a very abrasive face wash to deep clean their pores and get the gunk out. However, being harsh on your skin can ultimately result in further damage and overproduction of oil.

I have three recommendations for gentle everyday face washes: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Neutrogena Ultra gentle cleanser.

3 Day cream WITH SPF!– Do NOT leave out the SPF. This will almost surely defeat the purpose of wearing cream during the day. A day cream with SPF helps keep the skin moisturized, acts as a primer for any makeup products and most importantly protects from sun damage which ultimately leads to wrinkling and increases the risk of skin cancer. If your favourite daily moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF then add a sunscreen.

NB. ANYONE, of any skin tone, can get skin cancer, so cover up!

My drugstore day cream recommendations include: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Oil of Olay.

Sunscreen recommendation: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen.

4 Night cream– After you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face and getting ready to settle in for the night, put on some night cream. A cream with a glycerin base is good for keeping the skin moisturized by protecting it from drying out. You can also use the same daytime moisturizer at night (sans SPF)

Night cream recommendation: Ceruve, Neutrogena Hydro boost .

A tip for nighttime cream is to put it on when your face is still moist to avoid it drying out when the water evaporates.

5 Night eye cream- You don’t need it. Yes the skin surrounding the eye is quite delicate and can show aging before other parts of the face but your regular moisturising cream works for your entire face. I KNOW, I’ve been fooled before.

6 Retinol cream (on alternate nights)- This is optional. Retinol containing products help prevent signs of aging and it is recommended to start using at age 30. Additionally, retinol products also help treat acne, so it’s useful for many persons. When you do use retinol containing products, stil, use your regular night moisturizer and use the retinol sparingly.

Let me clarify that these retinol products have to be “prescription” strength to offer real benefit. There are some prescription strength preparations available over the counter in some places but other than that your doctor will have to write up the prescription for you.

Recommendations for retinol products: Retin A and Differin gel.

7 Lip balm– I use a thick moisturising balm in the morning and the evening to condition my lips, especially with the increased use of drying liquid lipsticks. A petroleum based lip balm also helps in the removal of stubborn lipstick.

This list is one of essentials and not exhaustive. Also, it doesn’t include products to specifically treat acne or other skin conditions. For that you must see your health care provider.

Are there any other drugstore skincare brands you know about? Let me know and have an awesome day!

How to Entertain on the Cheap

27 Nov

Signature cocktail and simple decor
Hello

The Holiday season is fast approaching and this means entertaining and lots of it . As someone who does her fair share of soirees I know it can run you ragged; physically , emotionally and of course financially . 
Often, what begins as an intimate gathering with close loved ones can snowball into an all out zoo scene and that cute budget you set goes up in proverbial smoke . 

Here are some tips I often consider when planning to entertain:

1) Plan a menu around items you already have

Don’t go out and spend a fortune on a massive turkey if you already have piece if lamb in the freezer. Decide what you make using whatever you have sitting in your cupboard . 

2) Make the most of your menu

Try to get as much out of the items you do buy. For example , if you buy a pumpkin, use it in as many dishes as you can; pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin pie etc. Do this rather than buying dozens of different items to make different dishes. 

3) Be selective with your invites

The way of the world of entertaining is such that some of the persons you invite won’t come while others will show up with extra guests. Be sure to invite reliable friends asking them to RSVP and make it clear whether or not they are allowed to bring guests.

4) Do potluck 

This is an oldie but a goodie. I am guilty of telling people not to bring anything when I entertain because I somehow feel it is in poor taste. It doesn’t have to be, we all have those friends who always offer to bring something so engage them. Also, people like to feel useful, why deprive your cousin of making his world famous sweet potato pie?

5) Make a punch/cocktail

It can be expensive to purchase multiple bottles of wine, vodka, brandy, scotch, rum and so on. It is far more cost effective to purchase one type of alcohol in bulk and make a punch or signature drink from it. 

6) Keep decorations simple

We all love our homes to look beautiful and festive. This means trees and wreaths and tablesscapes and railing and mantle piece decor, new curtains, new cushions… I could go on. The costs of these things really add up! Focus on a few things e.g the tree and tablesscapes. Chose items that can mix and match and be reused in the future.

I hope some of these tips help to allay the anxiety that can often come with entertaining, I also hope I listen to my own advice. Have an awesome day!

Travel Tips- Transport

3 Nov

Oli Oli Bus in Oahu Hawaii 
Hello
Today I will talk about transport options to consider while travelling. I have touched previously on money saving transport tips but I wanted to take a more in-depth look at it.
I really love travelling but as I’ve said before you can easily spend half your vacation budget on transport and for me that’s not good. I will take a look at the major forms of transport and some tips on how and when to use them.
1) RENTAL CAR

Rental vehicles are useful if you are traveling in a group or visiting someplace not easily explored via public transport. For example, I had a family vacation earlier this year to Orlando FL. There were five of us and we went to various theme parks and malls. Due to the layout of Orlando and the number of persons, a rental vehicle was our most feasible option. We split the cost and shared the driving load and it worked out well.

TIPS

Shop around– There are dozens if not hundreds of rental car companies out there. Don’t just rent the first thing you see. In some instances you can even bid for a car. Also, most rental companies don’t charge you on booking but only once you actually rent the car so even when you arrive at your destination you can check out different companies for the best deal.

Read Contract/Policies carefully– This is so important. Make sure you are fully aware of the company’s policies on gas, tolls and damage.

Be wary of upgrades– I fell so hard for this the first time I rented a car. I see upgrades the way I see the tactic fast food companies use when they offer you fries with every meal or convenience stores that offer you gum or water: Trickery via the power of suggestion. 

If an upgrade is recommended be sure to get all the details needed. Sometimes the upgrade ,often sold as being a better deal excludes important and mandatory aspects and it is only revealed when you receive your final bill.

Consider Insurance – All rental companies will offer you insurance for extra money per day. This can drive up the cost of your rental in a major way. 

I say consider because the truth is most of us go through most days without having any accidents at all so the chance of one happening in the few days you rent the car are slim. That being said, in the off chance something should happen you may regret not having that insurance. My advice is to clarify how much the insurance covers and if it seems appropriate then get it and protect yourself.

Nix GPS-By this I mean do not rent the company’s GPS  system for $15 per day. In 2016, you can use Google maps or waze or a similar app and use it for navigation. If you are travelling outside your country you can invest in a sim card so you can use the apps.
2) TAXI

This refers to original taxis, not services like Uber. Taxis are typically safe because taxi drivers are lisensed and members of associations and companies. They have to display their names and credentials and rides are either metered or list preset prices for various destinations to avoid overcharging . However ,  taxis are expensive and this is what has fuelled to popularity of  Uber et al. 

For me I use taxis to take me to and from the airport on trips where I haven’t rented a vehicle or on the off chance I am out someplace after buses have stopped running. Apart from that I am very wary of taxis.

TIPS

Ask about average prices beforehand– Getting a vague idea of how much it costs to go from point A to B prepares you for what you will pay and can clue you in if it seems too pricey.

Get an idea of the fastest routes– The meters go according to distance. If your driver takes a more convoluted route, your price will go up. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the routes via Google maps etc so you know if you’re both literally and figuratively being taken for a ride . This has happened to me before.Don’t let it be you!
3) UBER/LYFT

These are known as ride sharing services. The original and best known is Uber but there are now many similar services available worldwide . For anyone unfamiliar, the service involves using an app where you request a ride from a driver nearby. You are aware of the cost of the ride prior to getting in and payment is via credit card. If you don’t take the ride, you aren’t charged.

The major difference between this type of service and a traditional taxi service is that the drivers are not lisensed taxi drivers. This results in lower fares and makes it a preferred option for many because of this. On the downside there is minimal regulation of said drivers and there have been some unfortunate incidents involving drivers. 

I say use these services with caution. Obviously I advocate for the most cost effective options but safety always comes first . 

TIP

Read reviews – This is a saving grace where users rate drivers and vice versa. This can direct you away from problematic drivers and towards the good ones.
4) PUBLIC TRANSPORT

This refers primarily to buses and trains. This is likely the second most cost effective way to travel. In most well planned cities and even in rural areas there are regular reliable bus/train services.

 I recommend using public transport if you are travelling to a busy city or of you are on a leisurely vacation where you aren’t rushing to go anyplace (’cause public transport can be tedious!) I also recommend this mode of transport if you are alone or in a small group of maybe two or three persons where it is less expensive than car rental.

TIPS

Get a schedule– So you know when and where the bus you want will be arriving. Many bus services now have apps where you can see in real time the current location and estimated arrival time of the next bus or train.

Plan to leave well in advance– As I said , public transport can sometimes be tedious. As the day wears on there tend to be more and more delays. Additionally ,  buses and trains make stops, a lot  of them. This means that a trip that may take twenty minutes in a taxi could take an hour by bus due to these factors. So leave home well before you want to arrive at your destination.
5) WALK

Sometimes this is the best option. If you’re going someplace nearby and you aren’t in a hurry this can be ideal . It is certainly the cheapest as it’s completely free not to mention getting that cardio in.

TIPS

Know your route-Make sure you know where you are going. Google maps etc can help you plot your course.

Make sure it’s a safe area– Keep to well lit, busy areas especially if you are alone.

 I was once the person who took taxi everywhere and it burned my pockets and my very soul, so I know how important it is to choose the right mode of transport on the right time on your trip.

I hope my breakdown and tips have offered some help to anyone planning a trip and I hope you have an awesome day!

Aside

Champagne mouth but Prosecco pocket- Fine dining on a budget

18 Oct

Hello

So the saying goes :”champagne mouth and beer pocket” or in my homeland  Barbados : ” champagne mouth and mauby pocket”. Mauby is a drink made from the bark of the tree with the same name. It is fairly popular throughout the Caribbean and like beer, is very inexpensive compared to champagne.   I drink neither beer nor mauby, but I do drink Prosecco which I often refer to as Champagne’s cheaper Italian cousin so this is the drink I use for comparison.  

I digress…

The point I’m making is this post is about enjoying something very pricey without spending all your savings at once.

A couple nights ago I had dinner with family and friends at a fairly upscale osteria. The ambience was gorgeous with glass light shades housing Edison bulbs and tall glass vases with sheaths of wheat inside them not to mention an open faced floor to ceiling shelf housing an eclectic array of items from metal colanders to cook books reflecting the Italian cuisine they serve.

As we sipped and supped, and believe you me, we did, I thought to myself about the fact that I love food and love fine dining but my entire life mantra is to stick to a budget. I basically assessed the entire experience along with other previous similar ones and came up with some tips that a budget savvy individual might want to use.

The point of living life on a budget isn’t to always choose the cheapest option and deny yourself of enjoyable,  meaningful experiences but rather to achieve what you want in the most cost effective way.

TIPS



1) Eat the bread

Most dine-in restaurants will offer a complimentary bread basket. It can be as basic as sliced french bread or as varied as olive bread, cheese crusted bread etc. A few restaurants will devitae from bread and offer things like popcorn. But the point is…EAT IT. 

Many times most persons will nibble at a piece and leave the rest behind, hoping not to ruin their appetite with empty calories but trust me the bread will fill you up and decrease the need for extra food. You may be able to skip an appetizer or avoid having to order a soup or salad if you fill up on that bread.

Olive bread- came with balsamic  vinegar and olive oil to dip.
2) Make the most of appetizers


If you decide to order appetizers this can be where more savings come in. Most appetizer servings are now as large or in some cases larger than mains. You may want to order an appetizer and eat it as your main since it will be cheaper.

Another benifit to appetizers is the ability to share. For example our dinner party was comprised of eight persons and we had 3 appetizers between us. The combination of the bread and the appetizers left most of us almost full.

Tempura fried portobello mushrooms


Bruschetta with: tomato, prosciutto and pear with gorgonzola cheese



Tagliere with Prosciutto, salami, olives and cheeses.
3) Share your food

This was touched on in the previous tip but to reiterate the point, ordering something that can be spread among two or more persons is almost always more cost effective. This means selecting dishes that are easily shared such as pizza or large pasta dishes.

Pizza



Seafood soup, easy to share 


Meatballs 

Ravioli 
4) Have water


Just like the bread basket, most respectable restaurants offer complimentary,  refillable glasses of water. DRINK IT! Ordering a fountain drink or juice will cost you especially if you go through more than one drink per meal. Just stick to the water.

5) Order the bottle

Most “fancy” meals are never complete without a glass of wine. We all know the alcohol sold in restaurants is always ridiculously marked up, however the wine gets cheaper with increased volume. If eight persons were to order a glass of wine each, it would have easily added up to more than an entire bottle from which you can get multiple servings.

 

6) Skip dessert

This is not a hard and fast rule (none of these are). If for example the restaurant is known for it’s desserts then it’s different, or if you are like my close friend Mark and totally addicted to sweet treats then go ahead. 

I personally have found that no matter how good a restaurant is, the desserts are often just okay. There are usually limited to just 4 or 5 options and it’s either some kind of cake or some kind of ice cream. When I go to a fine dining restaurant I am going for the appetizers and mains. If I want desserts I go to a bakery.

Dessert- Ice cream with espresso 




I hope my tips are useful to anyone planning a fine dining dinner experience and I hope you have an awesome day! 

Outlet Mall Shopping- Is it worth it?

28 Sep

Saks off 5th Avenue bag filled with outlet purchases.
Hello

I love to shop. I also love a bargin. I am the prime candidate for outlet mall shopping: I get my fix but for less and that makes me feel so satisfied.

Right?

Maybe….

It’s no secret that outlet malls have become increasingly popular. The mere fact that there are now entire malls dedicated to it is testimony to this. You go out to these clusters of high end stores and pick over their merchandise which you purchase for a fraction of the price. You walk away feeling smug because you’ve one upped everyone paying full price in the department stores, you’ve really stuck it to the “man”. Until someone tells you that your purchases aren’t the REAL thing but rather lower quality knock off.

This is a not so well known claim : that many outlet stores indeed manufacture lower quality items under their brand and sell them at “discounted” prices tricking us fools into thinking we’ve found the deal of the century when in fact we’ve been scammed.

I said this is a not so well known claim, because assuming it was common knowledge,  outlet malls wouldn’t be as packed and bustling as they often are (I would know as I  frequent them myself)

Outlet Origins

Let’s examine this by starting from where else?  The beginning.  The concept of the outlet mall bagan a few decades ago, right around the same time consumerism became a way of life. Big department stores and clothing brands wouldn’t sell all their merchandise for one reason or another and it would be scooped up from all the different branches and sent to one obscure warehouse where they were sold off for next to nothing . This was the time of innocence for the outlet store. If you wanted this kind of bargin you had to be willing to drive to this location and sift through the good the bad and the ugly to get that steal of a deal.

Awakening Evil 

This was a great thing. Companies got to recoup some money on their items and consumers got their bargin. As one would imagine something like this would eventually gain popularity. Why pay $200 for a jacket now when you could get it for $20 next year this time? Well it would seem that the volume of customers hungry for a bargin became too tempting for some companies to ignore. The rumor is that companies, realising the kind of profit they could turn started making cheaper items and selling them at low cost. The consumers were still happy. They got theit brand name bags and shoes and still had money left over to go out. The companies were very happy. They made more profit.

Dawn of Enlightenment 

Somewhere, someone, some years ago realised this wasn’t making sense. They figured that companies stood to profit way more by passing off lower quality items as reduced price items and making a killing. What started as a very quiet unsure whisper is now more of a murmur and it’s getting louder. There are many people who state it as fact that all outlet stores are selling “fake” items.

Still

There is little concrete evidence widely available to lowly  consumers such as myself to say if this is all true or not. So let’s look at this:


Is it Possible? 

Absolutely. The goal of any business no matter size or shape is to make a profit. As much of it as possible.  According to  information  (cannot attest to the validity) some companies make as much as 60% of their revenue off outlet sales. Unfortunately and it’s quite easy to see how companies might opt to do this.

Is it Wrong?

This is where it gets sticky. Is it wrong for a company to make a slightly lower quality item (still good quality mind you) and sell it at a more affordable price? NO. In fact many companies do a similar thing. For example PINK is a more affordable line in VS aimed at teenagers and girls in their early 20s. Old Navy is like a cheaper (more fun, less preppy) version of The  Gap which is the little sister of the more sophisticated Banana Republic. All three have the same ownership with some very similar designs and likely produced in the same factory, yet they have three distinct price points.

However, what IS WRONG is cheating people. Most persons belive that outlet stores are still what they began as. A place where unsold and unwanted high end merchandise goes to retire. The fact that massive billion dollar companies would market their items as one thing when in fact they are something else, is loathesome, and this is what stings most people.

How do they get away with it?

1) Put simply, a lot of people just don’t know. Everyone doesn’t read fashion blogs and consumer reports. A lot of people just want a nice handbag at a great price and they aren’t out looking to see if they’re being swindled. 

2) The clientele is different. I am not saying there isn’t overlap but often the person who will drive all the way to an outlet mall and rifle through the wrong sized clothing for hours on end to pay 1/3 the price for a belt or coat probably isn’t floating around department stores buying what they have there. If you cater to an entirely different clientele who probably has zero idea what the “original” item really looks like and how much it costs then you can get away with it.

Do all companies do this? 

Since I can’t be 100 % sure any companies do this, I can’t say all do. But it’s hardly likely that from the hundreds of brands who own outlet stores every single one is mass producing lower quality items to pass on to unknowing consumers. It isnt impossible though. I personally believe some do and some don’t. 

Does it matter?

It all depends. To answer this question we have to inflect a bit. Why do we want these items in the first place? Why are we so excited to fork over $200 (still a significant amount of money) for a piece of cloth or a hunk of leather? There are two main answers.

1) It’s all in the name. We want that brand name or famous logo splashed across our belongings. Retail companies realise this and appeal to our vanity by mass producing this stuff so we can pay for their name. 

2) Quality. This is something  we look for and expect when we pay a certain price or see a certain name. It’s meant to justify the price.  A lot of these brands are known for their high quality, hand made items which unfortunately isn’t the case if it’s mass produced.

But as I alluded to earlier, many of these companies make both their retail and outlet items in the same factories and they have similar designs. The retail item might have a better quality fabric or use a more expensive zip, buckle etc. So no the two items will not be the exact same thing and yes one will be of higher quality than the other but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good quality item. Think of it as a way to own something from a brand you like but within your budget. Remember you get what you pay for.

How do I shop at outlet malls?

Here are a few tips if you are thinking of doing some outlet shopping with all this information in mind. No one tip is foolproof and can guarantee you won’t be duped but if you keep them all in the back of your head you should be able to maneuver the malls with success.

1) Decide if it matters and how much.

 After all I’ve just said some people won’t care and that’s fine. For some, like myself I have no problem buying a slightly lower quality shirt but I want a top quality bag so I chose wisely. If you are so paralysed with fear of getting low quality “knock offs” then outlet shopping is not for you. 
2) Ask an employee

It’s so crazy, it just might work. While some employees might flat out lie in hopes of getting commission from a sale (this happened to me but not at an outlet) many others won’t.  There is a good chance the company isn’t going to tell them to lie, they probably just hope you don’t ask.

3) Check the tag

A trick I was taught was to look at the tag. If it gives one price listed as retail price with the price they are offering below it or stuck on as a price sticker then it likely did come from a retail store.

4) Become familiar with the retail versions

If you are  considering buying a pair of leather boots from X brand, go into one of their regular stores or go online and see what the stuff looks like. If the boots at the outlet look similar but not quite the same and is in the outlet at the same time it’s in retail then it probably is made for outlet. Conversely if you see a pair that you know for a fact was advertised two seasons ago then you can assume this is the real deal.

5) Pay attention to detail 

It was pointed out to me once that the outlet version of a particular brand had a slight difference in the tag. That’s the only place you could really tell but there it was. Sometimes they it’s the type of hardware used, a different shade of a particular colour etc. 

6) Observe…

The volume of clothing and how much of each thing there is. If there are disproportionate numbers of  the same style in different colours and sizes that’s a sign thsee are leftover retail items. Whereas if the number of each style of item is voluminous as in the hundreds that’s a clue it was probably mass produced just for the outlet.

 

7) If it seems too good to be true…

You know the rest of that saying. If an item normally retails for $2000 and it’s selling for $150, it’s not the same item. The only caveat is if it is severely damaged something you would be obviously aware of.
How can you own high end/luxury items for less?

So if you are no longer convinced that you can trust an outlet store but you want to own some higher end items. I have 2 pieces of advice:

1) Save up

Good old fashioned setting money aside until you have enough for the item you really want. That way when you purchase you know you have made an investment in what you really want. 

2) Sale

Wait for the brand or department store to put on a sale and get the same item for less. Yes this means you may have 

I hope this was helpful for the next time you go outlet shopping. Have an awesome day! 

Travel Tips- Visiting a Museum

21 Sep

Outside museum in Costa Rica



Hello

I love museums. I think they are an excellent way to learn alot about a particular country or region or art style in a short space of time. I can’t think of any major trip I’ve taken where I didn’t visit at least one local museum. A museum is a great way to spend a morning or while away an afternoon. It’s chill, entertaining and pretty cheap compared with other tourist activities.
Here are some tips I have if you’re thinking of visiting a museum on your next trip.
1) Decide to go

Museums are one of the most budget friendly vacation activities for the following reasons: 

Many museums charge no fee or a very nominal fee asking only for a donation,  so if you only have $5 to spare that’s usually okay.

A lot of museums offer discounted fees to various persons e.g. students, teachers, senior citizens. 

Many museums offer discounted fees after a particular time e.g The Museum of Art and Design in Manhatten offers “pay what you wish” after 6pm on Thursdays.

 
2) Research

Choose

Museums come in all shapes and sizes. There are massive national museums, art museums, fashion museums, military museums etc. Spend a little QT with google and tailor your selection to your interests so you don’t waste time, money and energy.

Temporary Exhibits 

Many museums have exhibits that last for only a few weeks or months. They’re often interactive and very in depth. It might be worthwhile chosing a museum with a temporary exhibit you might be interested in. A few years ago I visited a temporary exhibit at Museum of Natural History in NY  (my absolute favorite in the world). It was based on using more natural foods and it was outstanding. I got to sample a lot of different foods especially honeys, there was one with elderflower and to this day I’ve never had another opportunity to taste elderflower honey, so I’m glad I went then.

Other Activities 

Most museums have a calender of events for the upcoming month and even year which include exhibits as well as other events like musical performances, films or even workshops often for small additional fees.

Display from Temporary exhibit in Gold Museum in Costa Rica


Statue in museum


3) Pack Light

This is standard travel advice.You’ll likely be on your feet for quite a few hours .Some museums will make you put your bags away allowing only phones and purses. However, if they don’t , you won’t want need to lug around all your belongings at once. So pack minimal items keeping the load down.
4)  Eat before you go

Or after you leave. The truth is that most museum restaurants or cafés are exceptionally overpriced. Now if you specifically want to eat at the museum by all means go ahead but there is a pretty good chance you’ll be paying double the amount for the same wrap or salad you could get from a cafe around the corner.
5) Caution in the Gift shop

This is a sure way to have your money sucked .Gift shops are bright and shiny and make you feel encouraged to buy. Either set a spending limit e.g no more than $30 or decide precisely what you want e.g a commemorative book and stick to it.

I hope these little tips encourage you to visit a museum on your next trip. They really are enjoyable places and you can feel your mind expanding. Happy Travels and have an awesome day!  

Travel Light(Packing Tips)

14 Sep


Hello

Here is another post giving some travel tips. This one focuses on what you should (and shouldn’t ) pack when setting off on an adventure.

Travel Goals…

In my mind’s eye I am an “easy-breezy” traveller. I am wearing an ethically produced maxi dress, beautiful wrap sandals holding my wide brimmed hat in one hand, my large but not oversized beautiful travel bag hooked over my other arm and my cute but not miniscule crossbody bag draped over my torso.

I would have a physical book with an engaging yet lighthearted storyline and I’d be contentedly nibbling on a healthy home made pinterest worthy snack bar while waiting on my next flight. 

I would be the envy of all other travellers. They would whisper to themselves “Look at her, she’s so casual, so worry free, traveling so light”

Sadly, I have more often than not, NOT been this type of traveler. I have been the one with two overstuffed duffle bags literally filled with useless nonsense, struggling and panting to get from one gate to another, who despite having packed everything but the kitchen sink, left the one thing I really need at home . But I am getting better, much better, so much better that I made a 10 day trip to Costa Rica last November with only one large carryon and one hand bag. YASSSS!

Packing heavy isn’t just physically and mentally taxing, it can cost you. It means maximum luggage fees, it means having to repurchase the crap you forget to pack and sometimes leaving things you’ve spent money on behind. 

So I am going to share a few “packing light” tips and I hope it helps.

MUST HAVES

1) Travel Documents 

Don’t leave home without them or you won’t get very far. Most of us need our passport to get around but don’t forget other supporting documents such as work permits, residency letter etc.

Additionally,  check well in advance about Visa requirements prior to travelling.

2) Prescription Medications

Again, just don’t leave home without them. If you are on potentially life saving medication such as insulin, thyroid meds, asthma inhalers etc please make sure you pack this stuff.

Unlike OTC drugs that you can stroll into any pharmacy, gas station or even book store and purchase, most pharmacists will not issue prescription, meds without a prescription. This means if you forget your stuff you will have to go pay and wait to see a doctor in order to get the prescription written.  This can take a chunk of time not to mention money out of your vacation.

3) Wallet

Just as important as the first two on this list. Even if you have your passport and your medication, if you don’t have a dollar or cent to spend, you are in proverbial duck’s guts. Be sure to pack these three things FIRST!

4) Electronic equipment 

We live in the digital age (that is what we call it right?) and our electronic devices are just as much a part of our lives now as food and water. Be sure to pack your electronics as needed. So if you don’t think you’ll need your laptop for the next 4 days, leave it or if you never use your tabet then forget it. Be sure however, to remember your camera, go pro and any other important photography equipment for your awesome trip!

5) (Mini) Cosmetics/ Makeup

Mini is the important word here. Precisely what you need is rather subjective. I might need skin moisturizer but not shower gel, someone else might need 6 hair products but no mouthwash .(I’m not judging)

The real key, is the amount. Even on a fairly long trip; >10 days you don’t use a full container of any product so you don’t need to carry it. Most  fullsized containers are well over the carryon allowance of 3 FL Oz (100mL) and it means you will have to check your luggage which for most carriers will cost you. 

So, it is worthwhile to carry mini sizes of most of your cosmetics. Most pharmacies, supermarkets etc sell these pint sized versions of your favorite cosmetics for under $3 each and for certain items like deodorant and hairspray I recommend buying them.

But in an effort to be more money conscious I recommend investing in a set of mini empty containers. You can fill them up with small amount of your full sized products instead of having to buy a mini. This is more cost effective ultimately.

As for makeup  (if you wear it) select a few items that create a number of looks for the time you’ll be travelling. You don’t need 3 eyeshadow pallets or 12 liquid lip colors for 5 days! 

6) Clothing 

Of course this is a must have. If you are going anywhere for longer than 24 hours, you’ll need a change of clothes. You’ll need underwear, actual clothing not to mention jewelry, shoes and accessories. 

This is definitely a situation of less being more. Try to coordinate your outfits in advance selecting pieces you can mix and match maximizing each one. For example in a 4 or 5 day trip I may only need two bottoms, 3 tops and a dress. Be even more minimal when it comes to accessorizing.  You can probably get away with one pair of shoes (plus the ones you travel in) , one bag and just a few jewelry pieces.

My mother will legitimaly pack 3 different pairs of shoes and about 10 bracelets to go with each outfit because she couldn’t make up her mind.( She is that traveller with 2 overweight suitcases trying to smuggle an extra carryon piece) Don’t do it!

SHOULD/COULD  HAVES

7) Emergency kit

As easy as it may be to find painkillers or bandaids when on vacation , they may be pricier as you will likely be purchasing from a souvenir shop or you may not find the brand you want. 

I usually carry along a little pouch with some emergency nessecities. Note I said LITTLE. Again it’s all about moderation. In my emergency kit I carry a few ibuprofen tablets, a couple antihistamines, a few alcohol swabs and a bandaid or two. 

I have seen a certain family member who shall remain nameless (cough* my mother* cough) pack a first aid kit so massive I swore there was an actual defibrillator in it. (There wasn’t ). Unless you are going hiking or exploring some other dangerous terrain where you need a proper first aid kit you won’t need anything so elaborate as to include abdominal gauze and actual bottles of alcohol. If you really require that stuff then you should probably be in an Emergency room.

8) Book/Magazine/Art/Craft supplies

So you love to read or do crossword or sudoku or whatever the kids are doing these days.Maybe you are a hobby artist. Going on vacation for many means having time to relax and do something they really enjoy (like reading) so by all means take your hobby items along. Just not too much.

I am guilty of this. I read quickly and I’m constantly afraid of finishing a book and having nothing else to read for the remainder of my trip. I can say without a doubt this has almost NEVER happened. Take 1 book, or one crossword or one roll of crochet thread and one needle. Not five or six. You will overload yourself and probably not use half the stuff anyway.

9) Snacks/Food

This is another thing you don’t need but it can be reasonable to travel with. Perhaps you like a very specific protein bar that you eat every morning at 10 am and you don’t think you can get it where you are going. By all means pack a few. Not ALL. Maybe you have layover and 3 flights to get to your final destination and you want to carry something to sustain you along the way, sure go ahead and pack a bag of chips and an apple.What you don’t need to do is prepare a 3 course meal and portion it out into plastic containers (I have actually seen this). Keep it light.

DON’T NEED

Towels and paper toiletries

When I was very little, we traveled with our towels. Then, on the last day had to pack a moist towel on top of our clothing. You don’t need this in your life. Most hotels and even many hostels will provide clean fresh towels and toilet paper. If they don’t,  check out and get far away, very far away.

Extras

This is the whole point of this post. You only need what you need. Always think about that when you find yourself wanting to pack something “just in case” You don’t need extra clothing, you don’t need extra snacks, you don’t need extra shoes and purses. I often find myself feeling more flustered than comfort when I am over packed and over burdened with stuff.

DON’T FORGET

These are those items we can often overlook or leave until the absolute blessed end and then forget.

Sunglasses/Shades

This is a pet peeve of mine. It happened to me so many times I’ve lost count. You step out of the airport into the sun and bam! Corneas scorched! All because you forgot to toss your sunglasses on top of your stuff. Now you have to decide whether you are going to spend a chunk of your cash on new ones, overpay at a souvenir kiosk for likely poor quality ones or spend the rest of your days with your hand over your eyes.

Umbrella

This might sound weird to some but I have never regretted traveling with an umbrella. Not once. I have a small one that easily fits in my hand bag.  This is especially important if you’re travelling someplace with a high chance of rainfall. I am that person that whenever it begins to pour I pop out my umbrella and keep moving only to find one or two persons (who I don’t know) nestled up beside me sharing my umbrella. Don’t be a nestler!

Electrical cords/Backup memory cards and batteries

It should go without saying that when you travel with electronics you carry the cords. I have never left one of mine behind but I know so many unfortunate persons who have. Then you are faced with a similar dilemma to the sunglasses situation.

CHECKLIST

To ensure I don’t forget any of these items I have a highly organised mental travel checklist that I won’t allow myself to step through the door without checking off twice. If you don’t entirely trust your mental faculties I recommend a written (paper or electronic) list to make sure you have all that you need and nothing more.

I hope you’ve found some useful tips,  travel light and have an awesome day!

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