What NOT to pack


Don't overpack! Image via Flickr: zingersb

I love packing. I don’t know what it is, but I just love it. Whenever my parents are going on vacation, I call my mom up and tell her I will help her pack.  Here is my list of items you should NOT pack:

1. Hair Dryer – pretty much all hotels have this covered. There is no sense in bringing along your personal hair dryer. It takes up space and it’s just not needed.

2. Big Shampoo Bottles – if you’re a frequent traveler like myself, you can buy travel size containers to put your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, moisturizer, etc. I personally don’t like the hotel shampoos.   I have naturally curly hair so I need my hair products. I transfer them into my travel sized containers. Less space and less weight.

3. Too many shoes – all you really need is one pair of good walking shoes and one shoe you can wear at night. That’s all you need ladies! No need for a carry on for just shoes.

4. Lots of clothes – If you think back to all the vacations you’ve taken, I’m sure there are a few items of clothing that you did not wear.  You don’t need your full wardrobe.  I went to Asia with just a backpack and small duffel bag as a carry on.  This is what I took on my trip:

2 pairs of pants, 5 tops, two cardigans, and two shorts, a bathing suit and a cotton dress.

Some of the clothes I packed, I knew I wasn’t going to bring them back (I had planned to leave some clothes behind).  This allowed me to shop for new items and not add more weight to my luggage.

5. Lots of books – If you can afford to get one, invest in an ebook or an ipad.  It will take up less space and you have access to an insane amount of books.

6. Towel – I used to pack a full size towel whenever I went on vacation, but I no longer do that. If you want to use your own towel, I would suggest to purchase a travel size towel.  I bought one for my Asia trip, just to try it out and it wasn’t too bad.  It took up less space, and it worked.  You can check your local outdoor store for travel towels. I purchased mine at Atmosphere.  Or you can always air dry 🙂

If you have any suggestions of what not to pack, let me know. Would love to hear your suggestions!

Maybe one day, I’ll be like Rolf and not pack anything!


update: I did pack underwear and socks too…didn’t include that, but figured that’s a given!


Saving $$$ for your Dream Vacation

The summer is almost over and I didn’t travel anywhere, except to Niagara Falls.  My last “big” vacation was to Paris in 2006 –  four years ago! I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, Cuba, NYC, Chicago and Orlando between 2006 and now but I don’t consider those my “big” vacations. My next “big” vacation, if all goes well, will be to Asia next year. Fingers and toes crossed man! I’m excited to go there, and haven’t really started to plan anything yet because I still need to get my finances in order. If you’re trying to save money for your “big” trip or dream vacation, here are some tips you can follow:

1. Cooking at home – I love, love, love to eat out but as you know, if you eat out too much it can add up and you start to break the bank. Plus, it’s healthier to eat at home, ’cause who knows what kind of ingredients are going into your food.  This past weekend I went to a restaurant and ordered pasta and it tasted like they used ketchup as the pasta sauce with lots of salt. It was pretty nasty!

2. Have a separate account for travel savings – It’s just so much easier when you have a separate account for travel. It’s easier to keep track of and easier to see how much you’ve saved.

3. Borrow books and DVD’s at the library – I like to read and of course watch movies. The library near my house has a pretty good selection and if they don’t have what I’m looking for, I can always request it and they let me know when it’s ready for pick up. As I said in one of my earlier posts, it’s a great way to get all our travel guides..for free!

4. Smart shopping – Before I buy most things, I tend to have a conversation with myself “Do you really need this?” Most of the time I don’t, so I end up putting the item back. I’ve also started to buy things at garage sales and thrift stores. I bought a really cute black clutch purse at a garage sale for $1.00! Not only do you save money by shopping at thrift stores, you’re also being environmentally friendly! Think about it!

5. Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card – I still need to apply for one, but this is on my list of to-do’s. A travel rewards credit card is a great way to use your reward points towards hotels and flight costs. Click here to read more about it.

Happy Saving!

The Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada

I’ve been thinking about applying for a travel reward credit card for some time now. I ALWAYS pay my credit card bills on time and getting a free trip with my points sounds good to me.  You would think this travelhugger would already have one but I’m loving my free groceries with my PC mastercard. But I figured since I’m planning a big trip next year, might as well apply for a travel rewards credit card right?!  So I did some investigating and I didn’t realize how many different travel rewards credit cards are out there.  According to Rewards Canada, there are about 60 travel rewards credit cards. Now I don’t have time  to research all 60 so thankfully Rewards Canada compiled a list of the Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada for 2010. Now I need to decide on which one to apply for…decisions..decisions…

p.s. if you’re planning on getting married next year, I would sign up for a travel rewards card ASAP and put all the wedding costs on the credit card. You could probably get a free honeymoon or a free flight for your honeymoon with all the points you will get. I would only recommend this to people who ALWAYS pay the full amount of their credit card bill on time. You wouldn’t want to call Gail from “Til Dept do us Part” to help you get out of credit card debt!

Do you have a travel reward card? What are the pros and cons of your card?

Guest Post – Airplane Jitters

This is a guest post by my good friend Nadia.  She loves to travel but she still gets a bit anxious taking an airplane.  Nadia offers up some great tips on how to handle those airplane jitters.

My list of favourite things to do is vast, but high up on that list is travel/vacation.  However, on the other end of the spectrum, airplane travel ends up on my list of least favourite things to do.  Unfortunately the two generally go hand in hand.  I guess I get what you call the airplane jitters, it’s not enough to prevent me from traveling, but just enough to build a little anxiety, and a tightened stomach especially as the trip approaches.    So over the years of constantly battling my mind, here are a few tips that have helped me coping with the airplane jitters:

1. Prior to the trip I do a little mind work. I force my mind to focus on the actual trip itself, I remind myself that I am not currently on the plane, and I will worry about that when I’m on it.  This isn’t always easy, but when I work really hard at it, it helps keep the anxiety at bay and prevents me from worrying and helps me re-focus to my favourite thing – the actual vacation!

2. I bring plenty of magazines and books.  I have a favourite book that I can read over and over, and I find that the familiarity of it makes me feel more at ease.

3. Last year I actually brought a puzzle book, filled with Crosswords, Sudoku, Word Searches, etc, I found that it helped me phase out my surroundings, and helped me focus on something other than the plane.  Bring something that isn’t overly easy for you, but not extremely difficult either.  Work on puzzles that are challenging enough to keep you distracted, and help kill time!

4. If you have an Ipod or Laptop, download your favourite shows or music and bring it along that way you can listen and watch the same things you would at home that help you relax!

5. If I have a travel buddy, I generally let them have the window seat, because sometimes I’d rather not look.  If I travel alone, I do request the window, but more for comfort than anything else, and just kept the shutter down (luckily my seat partner didn’t mind!)

6. Last year I was on a short flight to NYC, my travel buddy was aware of my airplane jitters, and helped me out by asking me about my favourite show and kept me talking about it to keep my mind focused elsewhere. We then flipped the conversation and I started asking the questions in return. So don’t be shy about telling the person you’re traveling with that you experience some anxiety, they can be a great support, and help you settle and become more comfortable!

7. For long flights, my doctor actually recommended to take gravol, it helps calm the stomach flutters, and actually helps me sleep.  For short flights, I do not take gravol as it can leave you feeling groggy if you haven’t slept it off.  Again I checked with my doctor, so I highly recommend you do the same, as everyone is different.

Thanks Nadia! Great Tips!  If you also share Nadia’s airplane jitters, what do you do to help you cope?

What’s the cheapest way to travel from London to Amsterdam?

My parents are going to London in a few weeks and my mom emailed me to find out what is the cheapest way to travel from London to Amsterdam.  I’ve never been to either of those places but I always wanted to go.  So I hit the internet and started my search.  My parents will be traveling from London to Amsterdam from Wednesday to Friday.  Here is what I found:

1. Easy Jet 88 £ each return.

2. Overnight Ferry from London to Amsterdam – I have heard that taking a ferry from London to Amsterdam is cheap, however this isn’t an option since my parents don’t have a lot of time.  Some of the ferry operators include –  DFD Seaway, Stena Line, PO Ferries .  I did do a search on DFD Seaway just to see how much it would cost and it came to 80 £ each return.  This price doesn’t include the cost of the cabin. You have to purchase that separately.

3. British Airways106 £ each return

4. KLM 166 £ each return

5. CityJet This was the most expensive – 300 £ each return

So it looks like Easy Jet is the winner! Have you ever traveled from London to Amsterdam? What was the cheapest way for you?

Decorate your Home with your Love for Travel

The one thing that I love besides traveling is home design/decor.  I came across this article today about vintage travel posters by one of my favorite home design websites Apartment Therapy. I think this is a great idea for travel lovers.  I love vintage and antique pieces.   I forgot that I bought some vintage prints in Paris (time to find those prints and frame them!)

What is your favorite home accessory or piece of furniture you bought while on a vacation?

Planning your Honeymoon

My good friend, littlebrownbride, asked me to do a blog post for her about planning a honeymoon. This is my very first guest post! woohoo! Thanks for asking me to do this post for your blog littlebrownbride!

Check it out here!

To all those coming from littlebrownbride, welcome to my blog! Feel free to subscribe and follow me on twitter @travelhugger.