10 Tips for Traveling by Yourself

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  1. Research where you are going.  You can usually find out the neighborhoods to avoid and which ones you don’t want to miss.  There is so much information out there.  Google and Tripadvisor are both good places to start your research.
  2. The Google Maps app is invaluable.  It helps to make you look like less of a tourist.  If you start pulling out a map every time you turn a corner or go a few blocks anyone watching could see that you don’t know where you are but if you are just looking at your phone for all they know you could have just gotten a text or were checking the weather.
  3. If you have a condition that requires medication make sure to have a couple of copies of your medication list along with your doctors information and other emergency contact information.  Put one in your wallet/purse and another in your luggage at your hotel.
  4. Leave a copy of your documentation (itinerary, reservations, tickets, confirmation numbers, passport, driver’s license, etc.) at home with someone you trust.
  5. Make sure to have a hard copy of phone numbers.  What if your phone goes dead and you have to buy a new one?  What if you lose it?  Anything can happen and it is nice to have those numbers handy.
  6. Have a plan for each day but don’t get upset if you can’t do it all.  Also, make sure to have some alternatives in case something doesn’t pan out.  Weather can change, tours can be canceled, there could be unscheduled construction in a building you might want to see.  You never know what will happen so it is nice to have a back up plan just in case.
  7. Skype or Face Time with loved ones.  This helps keep any homesickness at bay.
  8. Take an umbrella and (at least) a light jacket with you.  Weather can be unpredictable…why be miserable?
  9. Keep everything organized in a folder.  I use a 5 Star pocket and prong folder that is water resistant and very sturdy.  I put everything (reservation confirmations, booking numbers, tickets, etc.) in sheet protectors with extra sheet protectors in the back.  I keep it organized by putting everything in order as I come to it on my vacation.  I keep extra sheet protectors in the back to keep up with receipts, brochures, used tickets and small mementoes.
  10. Always be aware of your surroundings.  This is pretty much common sense but on occasion anyone can get distracted and not focus on what is going on around them.

 

I hope these tips help you if you’re traveling by yourself or even with someone!

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What’s in my carry on bag?

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As I’ve said before I try my best to only carry on when I fly.  This is what I put in my carry on/personal item which was a tote bag when I went to NYC.  These are pretty much my essentials for any flight.  I carried my luggage on as well but this post/video doesn’t cover what I packed in it.

I always make a list of everything I need to take with me.  I break it down into these categories: Toiletries, Comfort & Convenience, Documentation/Money(ID’s, Confirmation, Tickets, Reservation Info, Credit Cards I will take, etc.), Electronics & Entertainment, Makeup, Accessories, Clothes and finally Shoes.

For my carry on/personal item the only categories I look at are: Toiletries, Comfort & Convenience, Documentation/Money and Electronics & Entertainment.

Here’s my list:

Toiletries

  • 3-1-1 Bag
  • Wet Ones Wipes

 

Comfort & Convenience

  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Tissues
  • Glasses & Case
  • Contact Case (I can actually fit this in my glasses case)
  • Gum
  • Emergency Bag (First Aid Kit, Zyrtec, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, Toothpicks, Tums)

 

Documentation/Money

  • Travel Folder
  • Wallet
  • Passport

 

Electronics & Entertainment

  • Phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 4)
  • Laptop (I took my Samsung Chomebook, 11 inch)
  • Tablet (Nexus 7 with books, movies & television series loaded on it)
  • 2 Chargers, 1 for my Chromebook and 1 for my phone and it also charges my tablet
  • Ear Buds
  • Small Notebook
  • Journal
  • Pens
  • NYC Travel Book

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Tips for Packing a 3-1-1 Bag

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I almost always carry on everything when I fly.  I don’t like waiting at the carousel for my luggage, I don’t like my luggage out of sight, the fees can be ridiculous and I really hate having my luggage delayed for a few days.  Okay, well I guess delayed is better than completely lost but I still hate it.  Anyway, not matter what your reason is to not check a bag, if you carry on, chances are you have to have a 3-1-1 bag.

My 3-1-1 Bag Contents:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Contact Solution
  • Deodorant
  • Face Soap
  • Toner
  • Moisturizer
  • Face Primer
  • Foundation

Use contact lens cases for foundation, primer, moisturizer, face wash, etc.  This has saved a bunch of space for me.  After you’re finished with the product you can wash out the case and then store it somewhere else in your luggage.  I’ve found that I don’t use nearly as much product per day as I thought I did.  Even if you have to use both sides of one case for a particular product that case takes up a lot less room than a traditional travel sized bottle.

If it comes in a wipe then consider using it.  Wipes do not have to go in your 3-1-1 bag.  For example, in the past I would normally bring hand sanitizer.  It isn’t something I use at home a lot but it can be really handy when you are away from home.  Now to save space I pick up a couple of packs of Wet Ones Antibacterial wipes.  They’re more versatile than just the sanitizer because not only can you wipe your hands but you can clean surfaces with them.  I also bring makeup removing wipes instead of eye makeup remover.  I usually buy these in a large pack but when I travel I use zip top snack sized bags and put what I need in there.  I’ve also seen where insect repellent wipes are made and they’re actually good.  They also make sunblock wipes but I have heard that they don’t work very well.

Look for travel or sample/trial sizes of things.  Most products have a travel size of each and a lot of the makeup counters have samples of things that are great for travel.  When I bought my Clinique 3 Step System I received travel size bottle of each.  Also, when I bought my Naked Eye Shadow Pallet it came with sample sizes of their eye primer.

If you can, invest in a TSA approved bag.  Usually they have better shape to them than a zip top bag so it is easier to fit and arrange things in them.  If you do use a zip top bag make sure it is good quality and I personally opt for the freezer type.  They are much more sturdy.

Remember that if you forget something chances are you will be able to pick it up wherever you are going.

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The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack

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After my trip to NYC I felt like I needed a good travel backpack.  I had taken a tote as my personal item on the plane and I had worn a crossbody through the city but I wasn’t really ecstatic about either choice.  With the tote I had my hands free but it pulled my body to one side and that was uncomfortable.  The crossbody was fine for a little while but then it began digging into my shoulder and my neck, especially when I added anything to it.  It rode up and rubbed and it was very uncomfortable by the last day.  It just won’t work for any more trips.

I have a good sized hiking pack by Osprey but it isn’t carryon friendly, not to mention who wants to take a hiking pack to the city?  You would really stand out and not in a good way.

I did some research and I found The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack.  It looked like it had good organization but wasn’t overly huge and I love the orange color.  I love that it has a place for my laptop and tablet as well as a place for water bottles.  I think this will work out well no matter where I want to travel.

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Quick Update and Photo Dump

Okay, I had a few minutes to do a quick update and put some pictures on here.

I’m still going to the Y and taking Zumba twice a week.  I’m still loving it!  I am losing weight and toning up but most importantly I’m feeling great!

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Me and Anna Ruth.  I look weird but whatever…we’re having fun!

I leave tomorrow for NYC and I’m so excited!  I think I have everything ready.  I’ll do one last quick check but I should be good to go.  I think I will do a packing video as well as try to do some vlogging while I’m there.  I don’t know though, I’ll just have to see when I get there.

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The skeptical shopper.

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Ava Braun Crowder giving Grumpy Cat a run for her money!

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My baby in a rare cuddle mood.

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Hanging with Dad

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Sneaky….

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In Richmond for the weekend and Rylan decided that the ice bucket was a great toy and hat.

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He loved the Krispy Kreme hat!

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Climbing all over his Uncle Jerry.  This reminds me of my childhood because I would do the same thing!

20150311_152644Falling asleep on his Sis….so sweet!

I wish I had gotten a few pictures of Momaw with him.  I was able to get video but forgot pictures….smh.  Oh well…next time!

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Playing with part of his Easter Basket from Momaw.  He has a whole collection now of handmade wooden trucks and heavy equipment thanks to our buddy Jimmy.

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He loved to hug the soft rabbit.  He’d say “Awwww…..” and hug it so tight!

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Running around the yard like a wild man!

So far it has been a great start to spring!  When I get back from my trip I plan on starting on my gardening and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of posts on it.

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10 Tips for Taking a 7 Month Old on a Cruise

We wondered about cruising with our Little Man…but we waited to worry about it after we booked our cruise!  If I over think something I will end up not doing it so we just went for it.

I’m very glad we took him though.  It turned out to be a great vacation for all of us!  He was a great little traveler.  He’s a very laid back baby anyway so I’m sure that helps.  We have always taken him wherever we go so he is used to being out and about.

The staff on the Carnival Ecstasy attended to our specific needs very well!  I can’t say enough good things!

Tips to have a great cruise with your baby!

1.  Adjust your expectations of “vacation”.  By this I mean, if you’re used to getting into port and doing 3 adventure excursions you may want to rethink that.  We knew with Rylan we wouldn’t be doing in major hiking, no scooters, no scuba/snorkel or anything like that.  We looked ahead at our ports and decided on what as a family we could do there.  We had been to both ports on previous cruises  and chose this particular ship because of that.  Our thinking was that since we had been to both we knew what to expect from the locals, how to get around and things we might want to do again.

2.  Don’t over pack.  I know babies need a lot but you will probably not need everything you pack.  I put everything I thought we needed on the nursery floor then worked on whittling it down to a manageable mess.

3. Bring a compact, light weight stroller. Babies that don’t walk get very heavy after a while. Also, a stroller helps tote other essentials.  We have two strollers, both by Baby Trend.  I love them both!  Our Baby Trend Euroride was perfect for the cruise though!  It folds up very small (and easily!), has a decent but not huge cargo area, is very light and very maneuverable (one hand driving if need be!).

Rylan in his stroller

He loved his stroller :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Get an ocean view or better room if you can. You may be spending a little more time in the room than normal because of naps &/or feeding not to mention your baby will probably love looking out at the ocean!

5.   Bring easy to clean bottles.  I took 4 Playtex nursers.  I use Dr. Brown’s and absolutely love them but for travel and ease of cleaning the nursers were the best bet.  I packed liners in a zip loc bag and I brought 2 extra nipples.  It made things a lot easier on me.

6.  Pack formula and cereals in a zip loc bag.  It’s much more secure than the containers and will take up less space in your luggage.  Don’t forget the measuring spoon!

7.  Bring infant pain reliever/fever reducer and any other OTC or prescription medications you may need.  I didn’t look to see if the shops on board had infant medications but I wouldn’t take the chance that they didn’t since they usually don’t carry a huge selection.

8.  If you really want to pack light you can always use the laundry facilities on board.  I don’t always but just in case I need something I’m prepared to use them.  Before Rylan came along the type of detergent we used didn’t matter in a pinch.  With a baby though, generally speaking you want to use detergent that is free of dyes and fragrance and that may not be available on board.  My solution was to pack some All Free and Clear “pods” in a snack size zip loc.  They aren’t heavy, don’t take up much space but are worth having to keep my baby from having an allergic reaction to some detergent.

9.  Request a crib when booking.  The crib they provide will be a portable crib that’s about the size of a Play Yard.  It was so nice to have!

Crib provided by Carnival Ecstasy

Our Little Man enjoying his crib provided by Carnival Ecstasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  Bring a Baby Carrier for the life boat drill.  If you are like us and you get to your muster station a smidge later than everyone you may have to stand for the ridiculously long safety briefing that you have to listen to twice (once in English & once in Spanish).  You will then march up some steps to the side of the ship that your lifeboats are on where you will once again have to stand for a ridiculous amount of time.  Anyway, a squirming 7 month old in your arms will wear you out, however, a squirming 7 month old with be but a mild annoyance if glued to you in baby carrier.  :)

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