Las Vegas: August 8th-11th 2017

Hi all,

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I was in Las Vegas last week with my mom and brother for a quick trip. That was my 6th time there (my first one being legal, though!) and I never get sick of the atmosphere.

I just thought I’d quickly share where we stayed & ate, along with some pictures.

Our Stay: We stayed at the Bally’s and although it’s not the nicest hotel on the strip, it’s in a prime location. It’s smack in the middle of “all the action”, being right across from the Bellagio. You can easily access the North end of the strip (towards Treasure Island, Encore, etc.) and the South end (New York, New York, MGM Grand, etc.). The rooms are quite large and the beds are comfortable.

We swam twice while we were there and the pool is great! It’s not big (compared to other strip hotel pools) but the water was so warm, it was like going into a bath.

Recommended: Pay a few extra dollars per night and stay at the Paris.

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Where we ate: We tried the breakfast buffet at the Paris and Bellagio, and the former was our favourite. We had dinner one night at the buffet at Harrah’s and it was awful- definitely not worth the money. Our second dinner was at In-N-Out (in the courtyard behind the Linq hotel) and we loved it! We also ate at the Cheesecake Factory at the outlets, and you can never really go wrong with that! We also got candy from Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions every night… they have so much choice!

Recommended: In-N-Out and Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions.

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What we did: We mostly spent our time strolling through the different hotels and doing some shopping at the outlets. Some of the hotels have such cool decorations. We did the roller coaster at New York, New York which was fun, but it definitely shook us a lot. Now that I look back on it, it doesn’t seem like we did much, but we literally stopped in every hotel on the strip. My brother went to see a show one night, so my mom and I spent a couple of hours playing the slot machines at the Bellagio.

Recommended: If you’re into jewelry-making, head to Discount Beads (4266 S Durango Dr. #G, Las Vegas, NV 89147, United States) for a great selection & prices!

Getting Around: We mostly stayed on the strip, but we did go to the outlets, as well as a craft store I had heard great reviews about and wanted to visit. We took the city bus both times and it went really well. The buses have screens that show you the upcoming stops, so it’s almost impossible to miss your stop (make sure you press the button to request it, though!).

Tip if you’re taking the city bus back from the North Premium Outlets: There are two stops and if you get on the first one (in the direction of the strip), you’ll be pretty much guaranteed a seat! We stood at the second one because it was the closest to the entrance/exit we came out of, and there were lots of people; it was a packed bus the entire way.

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Bellagio & Caesar’s Palace.
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New York New York Hotel.
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A display inside the Bellagio.

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Inside The Venetian Hotel.

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I hope you enjoyed this quick little recap!

Have you ever been to Vegas? If so, what’s your favourite thing to do or place to eat at?

Marilyn

 

Recap: Rethymno + Lake Kournas

Hi all,

I’m back with yet another recap post. This time, it’s our one day in Rethymno. If you read the post from July 20th (if you haven’t, you should go do that now and come back!), you know that we were in Chania for 3 days before going to Rethymno.

**You must rent a car on the island, the drives are so beautiful. The drive from Chania to Rethymno was the most scenic and impressive. There were massive mountains all around us, at certain points we felt like we were in the Swiss Alps, it was incredible!**

We didn’t really have concrete plans for what to do in Rethymno, but we knew that we wanted to stop somewhere on the way. We chose to go to Lake Kournas and we are SO glad we did it. I was a little bit hesitant at first to go here, because the pictures online didn’t seem that great but it quickly turned into one of my favourite places we visited on the trip.

Lake Kournas is a freshwater lake nestled in the mountains. It’s quite large; about 1km in diameter and the water is a deep blue that I’ve never seen before. The edges of the lake are turquoise, due to the shallow sand. We rented a pedal boat for 2 hours and went around the lake. We stopped a couple of times to swim. It was such an amazing experience. The water was a little chilly, but we quickly got used to it. There was something so magical about swimming in this lake, with the mountains surrounding us. We kept looking over at each other and telling each other just how beautiful it was.

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After our time there, we drove to the city of Rethymno. We circled around for parking, and after finally finding some, we lugged our suitcases to our hotel, which was about a 10 minute walk.

We stayed at Casa Vitae and we are so glad that we did. After staying 3 nights in a very small room, with barely any hot water, it was so nice to come into this big, comfortable and luxurious room. The staff was so nice and the grounds were beautiful, we felt like we were staying in a whimsical garden. We had breakfast at the hotel the next day (it was included in the price of the room) and it was delicious, there was so much food!

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This was the view from right outside our room.
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The courtyard.

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Breakfast area.
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Back gate.

After checking into the hotel, we walked around to go to the fortress. It was so impressive, there were so many structures. I found it quite fascinating to learn what each of them were used for. Plus, the view from up there was amazing, we got to see the reflection of the setting sun on the water.

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View from the top of the fortress.

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As per our hotel’s recommendation, we had dinner at Othonas and it was the best meal we had on this trip. I had the Pastitsio, and Michael had the Lamb stamna, which he still raves about.

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My pastitsio and Michael’s lamb stamna.

After dinner, we got a Nutella crepe and explored the town. I initially thought it looked very similar to Chania because of the lighthouse and harbour, but the vibe was very different. There was a street lined with palm trees and I felt like I was somewhere very tropical. It was really beautiful.

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Harbour.
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Lighthouse.
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Harbour.

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Marilyn

Elafonisi Beach, Crete

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing a recap of our day trip to Elafonisi beach on the island of Crete.IMG_5632

After a couple days of exploring, we were really excited to finally get a beach day, but it didn’t go exactly as we had thought it would.

We were staying in Chania and decided to drive there ourselves, which took about 2 hours. We didn’t know this, but we had to drive through the mountains for about 40 minutes. This was 40 minutes of winding roads, the road being so narrow in some spots that only one car could fit. Also, there were barely any rails on the side of the road and if there were, it was definitely not enough to stop a car from falling over. Needless to say, we got really nervous driving here and we were just really thankful that we had cars both ahead and behind us.

When we finally made it, we got 2 chairs under an umbrella, which cost us 8 euros. It was extremely windy, so windy that we couldn’t just leave our towels on the chairs, we needed something heavy to hold them down.

We tried going into the water a few times but despite what it may look like on pictures, the water was freezing. We didn’t even make it in past our waists, we were just too cold.

Also, this really is our fault, but towards the end of the afternoon, we decided to get some drone footage. We must have been out in the sun for a good hour, and we got so burnt. The tops of our feet and the back of our legs got the worse of it. We were burnt for the rest of the trip, which was slightly annoying because we had to be super vigilant about our sunscreen application.

Apart from all this, our day was great! The beach was breathtaking, definitely the nicest one I’ve ever been to. Despite not really being able to swim as much as we would have liked, I’m really glad we got to see it.IMG_5658IMG_5647IMG_5665IMG_5634IMG_5653


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think down below! 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Marilyn

Recap: Chania, Crete

Hi all,

I’m so excited to share the first “recap” post of our trip to Greece. In these recaps, I’ll be sharing what we did, where we stayed, where we ate, along with loads of pictures! They won’t be travel guides per se, as I don’t think we know enough of each city to really be able to give a “professional” opinion.

Let’s start with the few days we spent in Chania, on the island of Crete. We stayed in the old town and it was seriously beautiful. It’s filled with narrow, cobblestone streets and colourful houses. It actually reminded us of Italy.

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I’ll start with a general overview of our stay and will then go more into day by day details.

Where we stayed:

Room Honeymoon. We had the room on the ground floor (there are only 2 rooms in this hotel) and it was very small. We couldn’t comfortably move around the room if our suitcases were open on the ground. However, for $50 per night, we couldn’t really argue. It was in a prime location and was so affordable.IMG_5424

What we did: 

  • Visiting the old town, stroll through the harbour
  • Venetian lighthouse
  • Ancient Aptera + Fortress
  • Elafonisi beach

Where we ate:

  • Breakfast: Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery. This cafe was a 30 second walk down the street from our hotel so it was super convenient to have breakfast here. We ate here twice.

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    This is “the view” from the cafe.
  • Dinner:  –Lithos Restaurant: Facing the harbour. It was tasty but seriously overpriced. Palazzo Almare: Facing the harbour. We had the seafood platter and while some fish was good, we didn’t enjoy all of it, and it  was very expensive. Semiranos: This one was tucked into tiny streets but it was very good. We had the Cretan pies as a starter and it was probably the best appetizer we had on our entire trip. It was stuffed with spinach and feta, but it had a different shape than the normal spanakopita.
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    The Cretan pies.

     

We also ate gelato every night

Now I’ll go a bit more into detail and our thoughts on this city.

Day 1:

We landed in Chania in the late afternoon and picked up the car at the airport. We rented a car for our 5 days on Crete and I would highly recommend this, especially if you want to see multiple cities (and you most likely want to, since it’s a really big island!).

We drove into Chania and found public parking right down the street from our hotel. We used the car every day and never had an issue finding parking when we came back in the afternoon.

It was raining that day so we just spent the evening walking around the harbour, going to the light house, and just visiting. Dinner: Lithos Restaurant.

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The Old Venetian Harbour.

Day 2:

Breakfast: Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We didn’t really have a set plan for the entire island of Crete, so on our first full day in Chania, we decided on a whim to go to the Ancient Aptera. It’s basically Roman ruins, but not nearly as well preserved as in Rome. Some of the structures were very impressive, but the sight itself was kind of an eyesore. There is a theatre, which is nicely preserved though. We also visited a fortress that’s about a one minute drive away from the Aptera.

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The theatre.
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The fortress.
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View from the cliff next to the fortress.

After our time here, we drove back towards Chania and had to stop at a small shopping mall in the beach town of Platanias for some new shoes for Michael, his had gotten completely ruined somehow.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the old town of Chania and doing a little bit of shopping. We tried going to a couple of the museums in town but they were very small and we didn’t really feel like paying for something that would take us 20 minutes to visit.

Dinner: Semiranos (this was our favourite dinner in Chania!)

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Day 3:

Breakfast: Starbucks… We really wanted Crepes but the crepe restaurant only opened at 5pm (?!) and we wanted something quick, so this was our only choice…

Lunch: We went to the supermarket the day before and made salami sandwiches.

We went to Elafonisi beach, but I will be doing a whole post just for that beach, as the whole day was a really interesting experience! Once we got back from the beach, we had dinner at Palazzo Almare and just walked around. IMG_5428IMG_5429

Day 4:

Breakfast: Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We started our drive toward Rethymnon and decided to stop at Lake Kournas, which was probably the best idea we had on the entire trip! Once again though, I will be going into more details about Lake Kournas in my next Greece recap post: Rethymnon.


I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment down below 🙂

Have a great weekend,

Marilyn

2 Week Greece Itinerary

Hi all,

I wanted to share our itinerary for the two weeks we recently spent in Greece. I’ll start by listing what we did and below I’ll speak about what I wish we had done differently.

Day 1: Travel to Athens overnight

Day 2: Land in Athens in the morning and travel to Chania, Crete. Pick up rental car. Spend night in Chania.

Day 3: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 4: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 5: Travel to Rethymnon, Crete + spend the night.

Day 6: Travel to Heraklion, Crete + spend the night. Drop off rental care in the afternoon.

Day 7: Take a high speed ferry to Santorini. Spend the rest of the day in Santorini.

Day 8: Spend the day in Santorini.

Day 9: Take high speed ferry to the island of Paros. Spend the night in Naoussa.

Day 10: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 11: Spend day + night in Naoussa. Excursion to Antiparos on this day.

Day 12: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 13: Travel by ferry to Athens. Spend the night in Athens.

Day 14: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 15: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 16: Come home 😦

What we would change:

I planned this trip rather quickly and decided on the three islands pretty randomly. Other than Santorini, I just took a chance with Crete and Paros. While we enjoyed our time in Crete, looking back on it, I’m not sure if I should have chosen this island. We felt like we were in Italy rather than in Greece.

We ended in Athens and I think I would have preferred to start there, since it was our least favourite part of the trip. It would have been better to start with “the worst part” and end with the best. Although it did make coming home a bit easier since we were eager to leave the city! (I know this may sound pretentious, but while we loved visiting the ruins, the city itself isn’t very nice- it’s not clean and it felt unsafe. I will be delving into more details with a full blog post on Athens in the next months.)

This is just the itinerary, I’ll definitely be writing more posts about what we did in each city in the next couple of months so make sure to check back for those! You can also subscribe to my blog that way you’ll never miss when a new post comes out!


Thank you so much for reading!

Marilyn

What’s In My Carry-On?

Hi all,

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.
  • Neck pillow
  • Earphones
  • Lip balm + important liquids & medication
  • Book
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Travel documents
  • 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.
  • Chargers
  • Sweater: I don’t put this in my bag, I wear it, but I don’t ever take a flight without having a sweater.
  • Snacks
  • Sun hat

Thanks for reading! What’s one thing you can’t travel without?

Marilyn

Travel Outfit Ideas

Hi all,

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.

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Leggings: Champion.

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

Sweater: GAP Factory (this is a similar one).

Shoes: Nike Tanjun (bought at Famous Footwear).

 

2. Comfortable but work appropriate.

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.

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Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Jeans: Forever 21.

Flats: DSW (similar ones).

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

3. For vacation.

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?).

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Dress: Shein.com

Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Sandals: Steve Madden bought at TJ Maxx. These are similar ones.


Thanks for checking it out! What’s your favourite travel outfit?

Marilyn

Money-Saving Travel Tips

Hi all,

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Marilyn

My Travel Bucket List

Hi all,

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!

  1. Greece (we’re actually checking this off next month!)santorini
  2. Dubai & Abu Dhabi Dubai
  3. Bora Bora bora bora
  4. Asia trip: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore.China Shanghai town city blocks of flats high-rise buildings city skyline Huangpu river flow Pudong evening travel traveling
  5. Australia + New ZealandSydney Opera House and Ferry
  6. Thailandthailand
  7. The Philippinesphilippines
  8. Balibali
  9. Maldivesmaldives
  10. Turks & Caicos turks and caicos

Isn’t it so much fun to dream?!

If you could choose only one destination, what would be your pick?!

Marilyn

How To Reduce Travel Stress

Hi all,

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?

Marilyn