2013 International Coastal Cleanup Day (sort of)

Apparently, September 21th was 2013’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. I missed that memo, so I say International Coastal Cleanup Day is whatever day you want it to be. Be a rebel, do what you want.

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There are several benefits to volunteering, like awesome free t-shirts or catching a glorious sunrise.

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Apart from the gorgeous scenery, I got exercise that didn’t make me feel like I was exercising. Isn’t that the best kind?

I also recommend keeping a list of what you find. We kept a sheet that totaled all of our haul and seeing everything we picked up was really satisfying.

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If you don’t have an official sheet, just make your own! Instagram, Facebook or Tweet a picture of it and maybe it’ll give others the motivation to get out and do some cleanup too. Anyone done any volunteering lately? I’d love to hear about it!

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Summer Road Trippin’ 2013 Playlist

I ALWAYS make sure I have my iPod loaded with plenty of good songs before I go on a trip, it really helps pass the traveling time. Here is a list of some of my current favorites. One of these will be used on my next video. Guess which one!

10. Imagine Dragons: Radioactive

9. Florence + The Machine: Spectrum

8. Brandi Carlisle: Hard Way Home

7. Mumford & Sons: Hopeless Wanderer

6. Steve Earle: Copperhead Road

5. Taylor Swift: 22

4. Blake Shelton: Boys ‘Roung Here

3. Brad Paisley: Beat This Summer

2.One Republic: Feel Again

1. Casting Crowns: Who Am I

If You Lack The Hospitality Gene Like I Do…

In my post about traveling with only a carry-on, I mentioned packing hotel toiletries instead of buying them at your destination or packing full size bottles. Another great use for them is in your guest bathroom…

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I keep a jar filled with all kinds of hotel goodies and disposable razors, in case I have friends or family over and they have forgotten something. It’s convenient for them because they don’t have to ask for anything or waste ten minutes in the shower (while the hot water runs out) trying to squeeze the last few drops out of a shampoo bottle that I keep forgetting to replace. Cold, half-washed guests are much less cheerful, I’ve found.

I don’t get credit for this idea, though. I stayed with my cousin in her student flat and when I went to use the shower she said, “Here is my shampoo and if you need anything else, you can probably find it in here.” Then she opened a little jar filled with an assortment of whatever toiletries anyone could ever need. Brilliant! She’s a smart one, that cousin of mine. There are a lot of benefits to doing this.. It makes you seem like a much better host than you might actually be. It gives a purpose to any empty jars lying around your house. Most importantly though, it dresses up your horrendously peachy, 1960’s style bathroom… OK, maybe those three things are directed mostly at me and my hospitality ineptness, obsession for ground glass jars and my out-dated bathroom… but you get the idea…

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I’m still looking for the best way to dress this bathroom up and the jars are a good start. If anyone else has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Travel Tip: Zip-Lock Bags Are Your Friend

I’ve said before I try to only travel with a carry-on bag. One thing that is really important, especially when you’re trying to fit a lot in a small bag, is organization. First of all, if you get randomly stopped by security (which has happened to me the last TWO times I have flown!) you don’t want to open your bag and have a bunch of underwear fall out because you shoved it in at the last-minute when you realized it was almost forgotten. (I will neither confirm, nor deny that I have had that happen to me.) Secondly, you don’t want to have to dig through the entire contents of you bag to find that one bottle of lotion for which security stopped you, because it MIGHT have been bigger than regulation. And thirdly, if you’re going to be living out of a suitcase for a few days, it is just much easier and stress free to know where everything is. Plastic, sandwich sized bags make all of these things so much easier.

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Yes, I keep the courtesy hotel toiletries. Don’t judge. For weekend getaways, when you don’t need to bring a full bottle shampoo, conditioner and body wash, they are the perfect travel size. Some hotels are even getting really fancy with it. I stayed in hotel last summer that only had Bath and Body Works products. Fancy!

I normally use three bags to separate my stuff: Electrical/Chords (Camera, Charger, Laptop Etc..) Hair stuff (Clips, Bobby-pins, Ties) and toiletries.

They keep everything organized, prevent your clothes from getting ruined if a bottle breaks, and (the best part) the bags are clear, so you can see everything that’s in them. No digging! Once you’re done packing, put them all right on top. Chances are, anything that looks suspicious will be in these bags, so it makes the security check easier.

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I know I am not saying anything groundbreaking here, and a lot of people already do this, but I thought I’d share. Traveling can be exhausting and stressful, so every little bit helps!

Keeping Discount Airlines Discounted

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The cost of flying, along with everything else, is so much more expensive than it used to be! This has created a new breed of airline, the “Discount Airline.” Overall, it’s a great concept, but you have to be careful of hidden fees and surcharges. When little things add up, your “discount ticket” can end up costing more than a regular airline. Here are some tips that I’ve learned:

Seat Selection Fee:

This was the first and the sneakiest fee that I came across on my most recent ticket purchase. The transition was so smooth between the ticket date and time selection to the seat selection that it was easy to miss a few things. Those few things would be the $18 per seat the airline wanted to charge as well as the fine print at the bottom stating that I could skip this step if I chose. Once I decided to skip, an annoying little pop-up basically said, “Are you sure you want to skip this step? If you do, we will place you between a large smelly fellow and a screaming baby.” Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Plenty of seats were still open, so as long as you get to the airport in plenty of time, you should still be able to sit with your traveling companion. Worst case scenario, you’re stuck between a smelly fellow and a screaming baby… you can ask someone to switch with you after boarding….

Cancellation Insurance:

Maybe it’s just me, but paying $30 in cancellation insurance for a $42 flight seems a little excessive. Not only did rejecting this fee come with another threatening pop-up, but it also came with a long waiver that forces you to lie and say that you have “read and understand” their unreasonably long disclosure. There are some cases where insurance is fantastic, like auto or health insurance, but cancellation insurance just doesn’t seem worth it to me. I also figure that if I were to add up all the money I have saved by not buying insurance, it would more than cover any money that I might lose if I had to cancel a flight sometime in the future.

Baggage Fee:

This is the one instance where I would recommend accepting the charge. The fee is pretty much unavoidable, unless you are vacationing to a nudist colony (to each their own), and it is much cheaper to pay the baggage fee in advance rather than at the airport. For all the nudist out there, they do allow you to have one small carry-on that can fit under your seat which can perfectly carry the few things that you’ll be needing, like lots sunscreen and a pair of flip-flops. For the rest of us though, we need at least one carry-on bag. Normally I travel with one rolling carry-on and a laptop bag. There’s a small fee for the rolling carry-on or a larger fee if you need to check a bigger suitcase. Another trick I have learned, for non-discount airlines like Delta, is to always pack my rolling carry-on bag like a checked bag. In other words, nothing in it that’s valuable and could get broken or stolen. 99% of the time, the carry-on space will get too full in the cabin and the flight staff will offer to check your carry-on for free! This is especially handy if you have a quick transfer at an airport. You won’t be stuck sprinting through crowded airports rolling your suitcase over everyone’s toes. People don’t generally like that for whatever reason…

Don’t come hungry!

They may offer you water, but don’t get crazy and ask for some juice because you’ll definitely pay for it. Normally there will be snacks for sale too, but who wants to pay $5 for off-brand, stale peanuts? I prefer to bring my own pack of stale peanuts that I accidentally left in my suitcase from the last time I flew and decide again not to eat them.. Really though, bring a snack. Unfortunately, you should probably buy one of those bottles of water in the terminal that seems like it would be filled with gold flakes for the price that you’ll have to pay. It will be worth it though, because the only thing worse than sitting in dry airplane air is being thirsty while sitting in dry airplane air.

Bonus Perk:

One thing that is really great about discount airlines is that they often fly from smaller airports. For instance Allegiant doesn’t fly from the main Tampa airport, but from the St. Pete/Tampa airport. These airports are much less busy, so no long lines and a lot less “hurry up and wait.”

These are just a few things that have worked for me, but let me know if you have any other tips or travel stories!

Travel Style 101: Scarving

I have this condition called, “I was born in Florida where we have no style sense.” Flip-flips are everyday wear, in many cases for work and church too. Outside of those things, shorts and a t-shirt are really all you need. I also had a double whammy in that I went to a school with a uniform. Not just a dress code, but full on plaid skirt, knee-high stockings and penny loafers. Traveling with any sort of style while not packing three suitcases was definitely a challenge for me at first.

When I went to Paris in 2008, I was walking around in jeans, flip flops and a t-shirt (terrible I know). It got really chilly in the afternoon, so we stopped at a market and bought some scarves.

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I got this baby. I think I thought “Oooh shiny! Pretty colors!” I still do really love this scarf, but this matches with very few things, it’s pretty obnoxious and orange really isn’t a good color for me…. which is why, like a terrible daughter, I stuck my mom with the gaudy orange scarf and took her wisely chosen, black and brown scarf…

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She’s so much better at this stuff than me! It matched with everything and it was really warm!

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It started like this…. then the orange beast descended upon my mother…

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And I “borrowed” the black one for the rest of the trip..

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Much better right? Plus, how awesome is that subway entrance! Am I the only one with fashion slip ups? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!