Today I’m sharing what I carry with me on the plane. If I’m going on a beach vacation, I take my beach bag as my carry-on so that I don’t waste space in my suitcase. For this trip to Greece, I took my backpack so that I can fit a lot more in it. So what do I bring with me?
Empty water bottle: I bring this so that I can always have water on me while we’re travelling/sightseeing so I don’t have to buy water wherever we go.
Lip balm + important liquids & medication
An extra outfit: When I’m travelling in the summer, I always make sure to bring an extra pair of shorts, one top, one pair of underwear and a bathing suit, just in case our luggage gets lost.
Sweater: I don’t put this in my bag, I wear it, but I don’t ever take a flight without having a sweater.
Thanks for reading! What’s one thing you can’t travel without?
I love to travel and I love everything that has to do with travelling, including outfit planning! When I’m travelling by plane, I love to be comfortable but also look somewhat put together. Here are three outfit ideas that I would wear (and have worn!).
1. Total Comfort.
This outfit is perfect for long haul flights, especially those that are overnight. You’ll feel like you’re in your pyjamas and you’ll be able to fall right asleep. I always travel with a sweater on the plane because a) I get cold and b) it doesn’t take up room in my suitcase.
This one would be great if you’re going on a business trip and will be making an appearance at the office or at a client’s shortly after getting off the plane. The jeans are very comfortable (and affordable!) and the jean jacket makes for a put together look. Plus, it doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your suitcase.
I love to travel in maxi dresses when I’m going on a beach vacation because it gets me in the vacation mode and it covers my legs so I don’t get cold on the plane. I always like to bring either a cardigan or little jacket with me even on beach vacations just in case, so I paired the dress with my jean jackets, so it once again doesn’t take up space in my suitcase (do you see a pattern here?).
This is the second year in a row that Michael and I have gone to Europe for our summer vacation so we’ve definitely learned a few things while planning both trips. I thought I’d share some of my tips to help you save money in certain areas to be able to put more in another, or just to save money in general. Here we go!
Book non-refundable flights- If you’re 100% sure of your travel dates/plans, book these flights as they tend to be cheaper than refundable tickets.
Book non-refundable hotel rooms- Once again, if you’re sure of your travel plans, make sure you choose the non-refundable option. On hotel booking websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Trivago, etc, you always have the option of choosing the non refundable rate, which is always less expensive.
Don’t choose advanced seat selection- We always do this because I prefer to have the peace of mind knowing that I already have a seat next to who I’m traveling with but if it’s not a necessity for you- don’t do it. You could save a good $120, depending on the airline.
Don’t stay in the city centre- This depends on what you want to do/get out of your vacation, but if your main goal is to save money, choose a hotel that isn’t in the main centre of the city, as these tend to be more expensive. For example, for our hotel in Athens, we chose one that is about 5km from the Acropolis and only paid $40 a night!
Take public transit- Taxis can get so expensive, especially if you’re in a busy city and get stuck in traffic. It’s best to take the bus/metro as this usually costs only a couple of dollars per ride, depending on the city.
Book your hotel on Hotels.com- We’ve used this website for the first time while planning our trip to Greece and it’s been awesome. When you sign up for an account, you can start collecting nights. Once you’re at 10 nights booked on the website, you get the 11th for free (the value is the average of the amount you spent on your 10 nights). The nights can accumulate quickly, especially if you’re planning a Europe trip. You get the free night once your 10th night stay is complete. Since we haven’t travelled to Greece yet, we don’t have the free night in the account yet, but I will most likely write another post reviewing our experience with Hotels.com once we can use our free night.
Find hotels that have breakfast included- Some hotels will have breakfast included, which is great because you can save some money on a meal. I only think this is worth it if it’s truly included in the cheapest rate and not if you have to pay an extra to get the breakfast, because the extra is usually more than what a decent breakfast elsewhere would cost.
Don’t eat out at every meal- Once again, this totally depends on your vacationing preferences. We like to eat out all the time on vacation but if you want to save money, don’t eat out at every meal. You can go to a grocery store and get things to make your lunches; sandwiches, salads, etc. and only have to eat out at dinner. Plus if you can get breakfast included at your hotel, you only have to eat out for one meal a day.
Here are some of the things that I think are worth splurging on:
Room with a view: if you’re going somewhere that is known for its view, such as Santorini, I think it’s worth it to spend a little bit more money here to get a room with a beautiful view and cut back on a hotel elsewhere where the view isn’t as important.
Unique dining experience: we’ll be in Athens and we’ve decided that one night we will be eating at a restaurant with a rooftop so that we can have a view of the Acropolis. This is obviously not a necessity, but while we’re there, we think it would be really nice to take advantage of this view.
What I don’t think is worth splurging on:
First class flights: unless you can truly afford it, I don’t think that travelling first class is worth spending an exorbitant amount of money on. Unless you’re on an 18-hour flight, I don’t think that it’s truly necessary.
Lavish hotels: this obviously depends on your preference, but I don’t think that splurging on a fancy hotel is worth it, especially if you’re visiting Europe. You’ll be so busy exploring that you’re basically only going to use your room to sleep. As I wrote above, I do think however that a room with a nice view is a good splurge.
Thanks for reading & I hope that this will be useful to some of you!
Do you have any tips that help you save money when you travel? I’d love to know, write them below!
I’ve had a serious case of wanderlust lately; wanting to travel everywhere! I feel like there’s so much I want to see and explore before I’m ready to settle down. It got me thinking and I wanted to share my travel bucket list; the places I most want to travel to, hopefully before having children. I know this is a pretty long list but the top 5 are really what I’m aiming for in the next years!
Greece (we’re actually checking this off next month!)
Dubai & Abu Dhabi
Asia trip: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore.
Australia + New Zealand
Turks & Caicos
Isn’t it so much fun to dream?!
If you could choose only one destination, what would be your pick?!
I have always loved every aspect of travelling- from packing, to waking up early and waiting at the airport, watching planes land & take off, to the hours of reading on the flight, to that feeling of my stomach dropping when the plane finally lands. However, I know that travelling isn’t every one’s cup of tea. Here are some suggestions to prevent any stress before and during travel.
Start a packing list 1-2 weeks before you leave
I always, always, always write a packing list before any trip, even if it’s just a short 2 or 3-day getaway. It really helps me stay on top of things and it ensures I don’t forget anything. I’ll typically write out a list anywhere from one month to one week before I’m set to leave. By doing this, I get to go over my list multiple times and add items to it that I forgot when I first wrote it.
Also make sure it’s detailed (I write it down to every top, bottom and pair of shoes I’m bringing), it will allow you to plan your outfits and prevent over packing.
Start packing about one week before you leave
I found that it really helps to start laying out all the things I want to bring about one week before, that way I make sure to not wear them and not get them dirty right before leaving. It also gives me a chance to see if I’m missing anything, and which size of suitcase I should bring.
Choose your seats in advance
I know this may not be for every one since early seat selection usually costs more, but it’s a great way to not have to worry about if you’re going to sit next to the people you are travelling with. I have done this for every vacation I have been on with Michael and I found that it just saves me so much worrying about if I’ll get to sit with him. I also don’t have to stress about checking in 24 hours before the flight (Will I be able to log on? What if I’m at work and all the good seats are taken? What if it didn’t work and there’s an issue when I get to the airport?), which leads me to my next trick below.
Decide if you’re going to check in online before or at the airport
If you want to check in before, make sure you are aware of the exact time you can start checking in and set a reminder on your phone, that way you’re sure to not miss it. Personally, I prefer to check in at the airport. They have the machines that you can use to check in. All you have to do is type in your flight information, scan your passport, and check in the passengers that are on that reservation. It will print your boarding passes and the tags for your luggage. Plus, there usually isn’t a line to use the machines.
Make sure you have your favourite music on your phone or a book/magazine you’ve been wanting to read
This one may seem very obvious, but it will allow you to the edge off while waiting to board your flight or while you’re in the air. It will definitely help take your mind off what may be stressing you out!
Check what stores/restaurants are located in the airport terminal you will be in
Most airports now have a website, and on some of them you might be able to see the restaurants and even shops that are located in each terminal. When I’m travelling early in the day, I prefer to eat breakfast at the airport, so checking these websites just reassures me that I’ll be able to grab a bite to eat before my flight. I know that this might seem useless or futile to some people, but this just really helped put my mind at ease about one little aspect of my travels.
I hope this was helpful!
What are some of your tips to reduce travel stress?
This year got off to a rocky start so I thought I’d look back on one of my favourite trips and share it with you guys! Michael and I went on a spontaneous trip to Punta Cana in the summer of 2014 and it turned out to be amazing! For a little back story, we were both 18 at the time and had been planning on going away during the following winter break (between December 2014 and January 2015). Just for fun, I was browsing all-inclusive vacations on the Air Canada Vacations website and I had found a super great deal on one resort in the Dominican Republic. We looked at it extensively together and decided that it would be a great idea to go, given the really low price.
After reading all the reviews, we ended up choosing a different hotel because the original one we had seen had a bad virus going around and most of the guests were getting sick. We ended up booking two weeks before we were set to leave and got an amazing deal- already lowered price plus a family discount since my dad works at Air Canada.
We didn’t really know what to expect of the hotel but it turned out to be amazing! We stayed at the Iberostar Dominicana and we would recommend it to everyone. I don’t want this to turn into a full blown review of the hotel since we’ve stayed there over two years ago, but we were extremely impressed with the food, the cleanliness of our room and hotel in general, as well as the beach (the best part!).
We’ve been on one other all-inclusive type of vacation (Jamaica in 2015) but this one to Punta Cana is still my favourite one. There was just something so special about going on our first vacation alone together and be together 24/7 for a full week. We had been on vacation together before, but always with family, so it was so great to get to do exactly what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it; we didn’t have to go along someone else’s plans/schedule. (Just as an FYI- I’m extremely grateful we got to go on vacations with each other’s families, it was just a nice change to be away just the two of us). We got to go on an excursion during our trip which left us with some pretty great memories.
Now onto some pictures of our resort and the beach!
Thank you for reading and I hope it made you want to book, or start thinking about booking a trip!
I have always loved travelling, but my love of planning for travel has come from planning my first summer vacation back in 2014. Michael and I were both 18 at the time and we decided (kind of on a whim after finding a great deal) to book an all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana. We have made it a point to go on at least one trip per year together since then, so I have had quite some experience with how to plan the perfect trip/choosing the best resort or hotel. Here are my main tips.
Read the reviews
If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this tip. I really do think that reading reviews for the resort or hotel you are thinking of staying at will really help in deciding if this is the place for you. My favourite website for reviews is Tripadvisor. Not only will you find information about if the hotel is clean and if it provides good service, but you might also find information about walking distances to nearby attractions, or if it’s easy to get to public transportation. You never know what people might post about in their reviews. They might also reveal information about things that would really be nice to know about; hidden fees, for example. Also, the posters can share their own photos, which I love looking at because it really helps to visualize what the place looks like and if it fits all your criteria; enough palapas on the beach for example.
Know which area you want to stay in
This tip applies more for the non-inclusive types of vacations. If you’re travelling to Europe or a particular city, decide which main attractions you want to visit and where these are located. This will really help in situating yourself and making sure to select a location that makes most sense for what you want to do/see.
For instance, when planning our 4-night stay in Rome for this past summer, I initially thought it would be a great idea to stay at a hotel near the Termini, that way we could make our way all around town by public transport. After speaking with people around us and taking a closer look at the map, we realized that it would make the most sense to stay in a hotel that is close to one of the main attractions. This would in turn allow us to walk pretty much everywhere we want to go. We ended up choosing a hotel right by the Trevi Fountain and we were able to walk to every attraction we wanted to see- even to the Vatican!
Book with a trusted/reputable airline
This tip is mostly for when booking an all-inclusive vacation. I have been on several all-inclusive vacations, most of them with Air Canada Vacations and one with Transat Holidays (Air Transat) and I really do think that this is the way to go. There are “bargain vacation” websites that exist, but I don’t think I would ever book with them, or if I did, I would really make sure that the trip itself is operated by an airline. A phone number is always provided when you get to the resort, should you need any assistance at all from the airline during your stay, so you know you can always count on them.
I hope you enjoyed all these tips and let me know if you have any that you’d like to share!
I mentioned in my previous travel Thursday post that while we were in Rome, we decided to take a day trip to Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. The details on the tour company and our guides are at the end of this post.
We started by meeting the company in Piazza Del Popolo for 7:30 am. We then rode the coach bus for about 3 hours to the entrance to Mount Vesuvius, which is 300 metres away from the top. This means we had to hike those remaining 300 metres. It was a difficult hike, seeing as it is uphill and the path isn’t paved; it’s all tiny rocks. As difficult as it was, it was SO worth the view. Once you get to the top, there are three gift shops, the third one being the furthest and highest.
We saw the crater (pictured below), which stretches about 1km wide.
Once at the top, we had a beautiful view of the bay of Naples, and could even see the island of Capri, as well as Sorrento.
It was so cool to think that these beautiful islands were in “sight” distance. We spent about 15 minutes at the top and then made our way back down.
FYI, there is so much dust and sand; my socks and shoes were FILTHY after the hike.
After our hike we got back on the bus and drove about 15 minutes to get to the restaurant where we had delicious Neapolitan pizza.
We then headed to Pompeii, where we were met at the entrance by a guide. I don’t normally like to have guides accompany my sightseeing, but I thought in this case it was worth it; I felt like I learned so much more than if I had walked around myself.
Being there was so impressive. Standing in a place that you learn and read about in school, and that has stood the test of time is something belitting but empowering all at once.
We didn’t take many pictures here, we were so tired from all the walking and the super intense heat!
The area where Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii are located is famous for its Limoncello because of the size of the lemons they grow!
We had booked this tour through Viator with City Wonders and we had Antonella and Luca as our guides, and Antonio as the driver. This tour included the transport by bus, the entrance to Mount Vesuvius, lunch and the entrance to Pompeii with a tour guide. I would highly recommend to do some sort of tour if you’re planning to go for a day, especially if you’re in Rome, since it’s about 3 hours away.
I’m really happy we chose to do this; everything was so well organized. From the pick up, to taking the pizza selection on the bus before arriving to the restaurant, to the distribution of the audio guides for the Pompeii tour; it was all perfect. I highly recommend you check out City Tours.
This day excursion was the perfect end to a wonderful 2.5 week trip, and a wonderful way to end our four days of time alone in Rome.
Lizzie McGuire had raised my hopes pretty high for this city, and I wasn’t disappointed. Rome is probably my favourite place I have ever been to. We visited this beautiful city at the end of our Europe trip and I’m so glad we saved the best for last. I thought it was so interesting to see how all the history is integrated in the city. I was blown away by how you could be walking down the street and hit the Pantheon, and then the Coliseum. It’s crazy to me to think that these buildings have been standing for almost 2000 years.
I’m going to attempt to show what I mean with pictures, but I don’t find that pictures do this place justice, and they certainly don’t capture what I felt while being there.
We stayed at Five Rooms Rome (originally booked at Rome King Suite- Annex building, turns out the annex building was another hotel entirely) and we thought the location was perfect. We were a five-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, and about a 15-minute walk from the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. It was so easy for us to get everywhere we wanted to go. We walked to everything we visited, which we thought was very feasible.
I thought I’d share our itinerary, in hopes of it being useful to some of you going, or thinking of going to Rome.
We arrived at our hotel around 11:30 am. We changed, got settled in and then decided to go exploring. Since we had tickets for attractions on all other days, we decided to visit all the sites that weren’t a “destination”. We pretty much walked around the whole city that day. This is what we did/saw:
Had drinks in Piazza Navona
Spanish steps (they were closed for renovations)
Victor Emmanuel II Monument (entrance is free- but there is a fee to take the elevator all the way to the top)
Shopping around the Spanish steps- Tiffany and Co and Tory Burch on Via Del Babuino
Dinner at a random restaurant- which we didn’t like at all
Gelato for dessert
We went to bed pretty early that day since we were so tired from the traveling.
This was the day we visited the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. We had purchased tickets in advance but had no set time, so we decided to sleep in and get going whenever we woke up. We didn’t have anything else planned for the day, so we didn’t mind sleeping in, and we knew that we had to get up really early on our two other days so we took advantage of the sleeping in.
This was definitely my favourite day; I loved the Coliseum and the Forum. It’s just so interesting getting a glimpse into the way people lived during that time.
We had dinner at the restaurant Life, which was very good. We didn’t have any reservations but they took us in anyways. If you want to sit outside, I’d recommend making reservations since the outside was full when we got there and we had to sit inside. It wasn’t the cheapest meal but we had wanted a “fancier” dinner as a treat to ourselves. We had gelato once again for dessert.
We got an early start to the day for an excursion that we had booked online in advance for Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
We first started by hiking Mount Vesuvius. The tour bus took us up to the entrance where the hike was another 300 metres to the top. It was quite difficult, as it was pretty steep and it’s not a paved path, it’s just little rocks. Although it was quite hot, because we were by the water, there was a great breeze that kept us a little bit cooler. The hike was so worth it once we got to the top. We could see the entire bay of Naples below us, and further out into the water we could see Capri and Sorrento. We also got to look into the crater of the volcano, which is about 1 km wide.
After the hike we went to eat lunch at a restaurant near the entrance to Pompeii. Once that was done, we entered Pompeii. It was so amazing to see this entire city emerged after being engulfed by ashes. Fun fact, when the volcano erupted in 79 A.D., the lava never made it to Pompeii; it was the ashes that killed everyone and everything. It was so amazing that just by looking at the homes and “buildings” in the city, you could really get a glimpse into how people used to live during that time.
We spent about 2 hours in Pompeii and then rode the long bus ride back to Rome (about 3 hours) and got back around 9 pm. We were so tired from the day that we decided to get some Big Macs and cannoli for dessert and eat it in our hotel room while watching television.
A full blog post on this tour/excursion will be up soon.
We had tickets to the Vatican museum for 9 am so we walked there from our hotel (approximately a 45 minute walk). When we first got there, it was a little tricky to find the entrance for the museum- we ended up going into St-Peter’s Basilica by accident. Once we found the correct place, it went really smoothly, we had found the line for people who had made reservations online, and they even let us in before 9. We spent about 2 hours in the museum and visited the Sistine Chapel.
We then took a look at St. Peter’s Basilica, which was packed with people since the entrance is free.
Since it was still pretty early in the day we decided to visit Castel Santangelo, which was really cool. It was first built as a mausoleum for Hadrian and it was eventually converted into a military fortress.
After this we made our way down, by foot, to Trastevere, an area where we heard had great food. We looked up great places to eat at and ended up at La Prosciutteria, which served amazing meats and cheeses. For the platter shown below and two beers it was 25 euros.
After lunch we didn’t have it in us to walk another 45-60 minutes back to our hotel so we took a taxi back. We relaxed for a couple of hours and then went shopping before going to dinner. We did some damage at Tiffany and at Tory Burch :).
Dinner was at a restaurant close to the Trevi Fountain: Angelina Trattoria. This was by far our favourite meal. It was a little bit more expensive than our other meals, but that’s because we indulged in nice wine and a dessert (quite expensive). Not only was the food amazing, but the service we received was outstanding. After having had mediocre at best service during our previous days, it was so refreshing to have someone interact and strike up a conversation with us, as well as having a smile while doing so.
Thanks for reading, I really hope you enjoyed it! Let me know what you think!
On our Europe trip this summer, we spent a total of 22 hours in Barcelona (including sleeping). Since our time was very limited, we had tried to plan our day very precisely, so that no time would be lost trying to figure out what to do.
Originally I wanted this post to be “how to see Barcelona in one day” but things didn’t exactly go as planned during our visit, which resulted in quite the disappointment. I thought I’d share some tips, as well as explain what we did, in hopes that this will be useful to some of you.
When we first decided to go to Barcelona, I knew that I really wanted to see the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. I had thought of purchasing tickets in advance but when you purchase tickets online, you also have to select a visit time. I didn’t want to choose times for these, as we were arriving in the morning by plane from Madrid and would lose the tickets if we couldn’t make the chosen time for whatever reason (delayed flight, etc).
Not buying tickets in advance was a huge mistake.
When we arrived to the Sagrada Familia (from a hop on/hop off bus- more on this below), we were truly amazed by the immensity and the intricacy of this church- as well as its wait time. It showed that the next available entrance was 5 hours from then. Since we couldn’t wait that long, we just admired it from the outside and left. We were both really disappointed.
We then decided to head to Parc Guell. Surprise- the tickets that we could buy were for 2 hours from when we arrived. We were even more disappointed by this point- we couldn’t see the two main things we had gone there to see. We ended up checking out the section of the park that was free.
Looking back on it, I definitely would have purchased the tickets for Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell online before, and would have chosen a later time that wouldn’t be compromised if ever our incoming flight was delayed.
Do purchase tickets for the hop on/hop off bus.
In order to get around the city, we chose to buy tickets for the hop on/hop off bus from Bus Turistic. I definitely thought it was a great way to get around the city rather quickly, and we were able to see some of the city at the same time, since we sat on the top deck most of the time.
Visit the area near the port.
After our unsuccessful attempts to enter the main sites, we decided to get off the bus and walk around. We walked down La Rambla all the way to the area near the port. When you reach the end of this street, there is a huge round about with a towering statue of Columbus, called Mirador de Colom. This was my favourite area we saw. It was a lot more open than the rest of the city, there were palm trees, and it felt like we were in a different city than we had just been in minutes before.
One of the stops on the blue line of the hop on/hop off bus was Montjuic and we decided to stop here to get to the top of the mountain. We took the cable car up (which has a small fee) and the views were truly breathtaking. There’s also a castle, which usually has an extra fee but the day we went was free. The view was incredible and I highly recommend going up.
For dinner, go to Rambla de Catalunya Street (not to be confused with La Rambla).
For some reason, it was quite difficult for us to find a good place to eat, and we hadn’t really done any research prior- we just assumed we would choose a place on the fly. It was more difficult than we thought. We initially chose a restaurant that had such poor service that we had to leave. We made our way to Rambla de Catalunya and found a number of restaurants with terraces. Although not far from Placa de Catalunya, it was pretty quiet and the restaurants looked nice and as though they had authentic food.
Overall, I did enjoy Barcelona but I’m not sure that I would go back. This might be due to the fact I couldn’t get in to two of the main things I wanted to see, although it was my fault for not booking tickets in advance. I think that if we had had more time to explore the city my opinion might be different.
We ended the day with this divine dessert (waffle with white chocolate and caramel) from a stand on La Rambla.