Dating in Vanlife

Dating in Vanlife

Connection and intimacy is a very important part of life, whether you choose to van life or to live in a traditional housing structure, like a home or an apartment. Dating in vanlife however is a bit different. First of all, unlike most people, I am not tied down to a specific city or state. In order to maximize my chances of success, which is to have a happy long term relationship and find a partner I can build a life with, I only targeted cities I would consider as a home base. Secondly, a single girl living in a van conjures up some interesting fantasies in the male population, which makes for some interesting opening lines. Last but certainly not least, all singles who are seeking to find the right person goes through the challenge of finding real connection in a busy digital world. So is it possible to find real love in vanlife? Is it possible to find stable meaningful connections with people when you are living an lifestyle that is considered unstable?

finding love

One of my first dates on the road was in Palmer, Alaska. Driving up from Texas, I felt a deep connection to the state, a combination of being fascinated by the idea of living in the last frontier and the romantic notion of living off gird with a man who could live off the land excited me. After setting up my profile location on Hinge to Palmer, which I decided would be a good starting point, since I was planning to be there for a couple of weeks for the State Fair of Alaska, my vanlife dating experience began.

Most of my matches were intrigued by the idea of a single girl living traveling in a van. Of course, it is safe to assume my profile would only peak the interest of the more adventurous, free spirited types. If a guy was looking for a local girl with a traditional 9 to 5 job, he would have left swiped me. There was all kinds of messages. There were the:    “That so cool you are traveling in a van!” and “Take me with you!”. Some of the guys who reached out were former vanlifers or had traveled in a very similar fashion. Quite a few guys were fascinated with the vanlife lifestyle and wanted to hangout to hear about my adventures.

Of course, there were messages from guys who wanted to live out their teenage fantasy of shacking up in a van “down by the river”. I even had few guys reached out to me offering their home for me to stay with them, thinking that I needed a hero to save me from vanlife. One even said, “If we work out, I have plenty of room for you and your pets in the house.” One of the strangest request was from a guy who after sending me an unsolicited dick pic, asked if I would be open to meeting him and his friend, which I immediately detected as the beginnings of a threesome van fantasy. Weird.  After careful selection process, I decided to meet a few of the guys I matched with.

Camping in Vanlife

The first guy was an early 30’s something professional who just recently moved back Anchorage, Alaska after living in the lower 48 for a few years for work. The Lover 48, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Alaskan lingo, refers to all the other states out side of Alaska and Hawaii. We decided to meet at the State Fair of Alaska in Palmer and spend the day exploring the fair activities. Dressed in what can only be described as hipster chic, “Tom” was dressed head to toe in black: Skinny jeans and punk band t-shirt. He was a far cry from my typical type. With a friendly smile and striking blue eyes, we both were eager to see what the fair has to offer. As far as dates goes, this one is definitely one of the most interesting dates, complete with my very first ax throwing session, which is quite a satisfying and fun experience. After sharing a plate of fried halibut, we went to see the famous giant vegetables, grown in midnight sun. During April 22 to August 20, the Alaskan sun doesn’t really set, making it possible to grow 130-pound cabbage and pumpkins the size of a miniature loveseat. The date ended when I had to go back to work. Although I had a great time, we both realized we were not relationship compatible, so it was back to the digital dating jungle for me.

Axe Throwing at Alaska State Fair

Date number two in Alaska was a guy in his early 40’s, who worked in the real estate business. Stable and seemingly mature, he was nice, but not quite my type. Wanting to keep an open mind, I decided to meet him for a quick coffee. As Carry Bradshaw once said, ”He was like the flesh and blood version of a DKNY dress; you know it’s not your style but you try it on anyway.” During our date, everything was fine except for one thing: I was mildly distracted by the high pitched sound of his voice. While some people may call this shallow, I quickly realized early in my dating life this truth: If there is something about a guy that is a bit annoying in the beginning, it will certainly always get worse. To make things worse, he admitted he was only interested in me because I was “kinda cute, “ which I took as a backhanded compliment. It was the final nail on the coffin. After a short coffee date, we parted ways amicably, and thus ended date number 2.

As I dated my way across North America, I’ve met many nice guys who had great careers and a great sense of humor. One of my most memorable dates involved driving together for 2 and a half hours to go catch roller coasters. Recently, another guy offered to show me around Seattle, showing me the local wine scene and tourist attractions. While he was great company and a wonderful tour guide, he had just gotten out of a relationship. Nevertheless, it was a fun first date.

One of the most interesting and slightly odd first dates was when a guy offered to have me come by to do my laundry at his house. In all fairness, he was about to start his vanlife adventures after selling his house in Seattle and wanted to pay it forward. We actually hung out a few times trading favorite travel spots and drinking good wine.  Another time, I met up with another vanlifer outside the parking lot of a Costco. I had been shopping and was planning to leave town later that night, and decided to meet up. “Jake” was a full time carpenter and had been living vanlife in Seattle for a year. He pulled up right next to me in the back of the Costco parking lot in his Ford 350 Transit. I said “Hi! Nice to meet you. Do you want some eggs? I have way too much and it won’t fit in the van.” The things you say on a first date in van… (head shake). We had a fun time checking out each other’s rig. As I stepped in to his rig, I was hit with the biggest case of van envy. Custom white cabinetry, ample space, and a diesel heater made me almost drool with envy. My pets and I had been in 30 degree weather, and the idea of having on demand heat was like close to heaven.   He gave me some great tips and we parted way as friends.

Interior Vanlife

After going on many great first dates in vanlife, I’ve discovered this truth: There are a lot of great guys out there. What it boils down to is finding the right fit for you.  Living and traveling in a van attracts a certain type of guy, usually current vanlifers, past vanlifers, or people who are interested in an alternative lifestyle. Ultimately, it boils down to whether or not the two of you have enough things in common: lifestyle choices, personal values and if there is a spark. And boys, you will not be getting lucky in the van down by the river.

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free till they find someone just as wild to run with them.”

Carrie Bradshaw

Sex and the City

How To Be Productive During Covid19

How To Be Productive During Covid19

How to be productive during Covid19 requires some planning.  For those of us who have wanderlust, Covid19 has put a halt on our travel plans, interrupted our lives and put fear in our hearts.  Feeling stir crazy from social distancing and not having anywhere to go, it’s like being a hamster running in the wheel.  With most of us either working from home and spending more time at home than ever before, finding ways to entertain ourself often resorts to binge watching Netflix while daydreaming of live before Covid19.  Instead of just binge watching TV while expanding our waistline (let’s face it, who binge watches TV without snacks?!), here are some ways to satisfy the wanderlust and also be productive during Covid19.

  • Learn a New Language – Are you a wine lover with dreams of wandering the vineyard with a glass of red wine in your hands in Bordeaux, France? Does traveling to historical sites excite you as you step back in time visiting the Aztec ruins in the heart of Mexico?  How about seeing the temples in Thailand?  No matter where your wanderlust dreams may take you, speaking the local language is a great way to get more connected to the culture and enrich your experience on your travels. My favorite app for language is Duolingo, which has a great free program and many languages to learn including Spanish, Italian and Chinese Mandarin. Another great program is Busuu, which has less languages to learn on their platform but is more thorough. Both have a paid version as well. I’m currently learning to improve my Spanish, Chinese as well as French.  Learning a new language give me a sense of accomplishment and make me feel like I am being productive during Covid19.
  • Plan Your Next Trip: With all this extra time on our hands, start planning for your next escape.   Covid19 has severely impacted the travel industry since most of us are under quarantine and social distancing, but once things get back to normal, there will be amazing deals to travel.   Take this time to do research, join Facebook groups and learn more about your next global destination.  Whether you are wanting to book an epic cruise adventure to Alaska or explore the temples in Bali, you can be sure to get incredible discounts travel in the near future.
  • Explore the Great Outdoors: Social distancing during Covid19 means gone are the days of bar hopping and restaurant going, but there is still the great outdoors. Take a walk and listen to the sounds of birds, enjoy the cool breeze under the big blue sky and breath in the fresh air. Take advantage of the empty parking lots and go roller blading.  Dust off that bicycle and explore your own neighborhood.  Instead of driving, take the bike and run errands.   Not only will your body feel better from the exercise, but you will also get Vitamin D as well as serotonin, which is the feel good hormone. Serotonin helps boost your mood as well as create more calm and focus.
  • Try a new Receipe: One of my favorite things to do during my travels is eating the local foods.   Taking my taste buds on an adventure of flavors is one of the joys of traveling. Bring your inner chef to life by learning how to make new and delicious foods. Whether it is Tuna Poke or Thai Curry Chicken, now is a great time to try our some new recipes at home.  Plus, you can save money during Covid19 by not eating out while learning how to make new and exciting dishes.
  • Have a Cultural Submersion Night– Take the edge off of wanderlust and create a virtual travel experience at home. Bring out the inner child and use your imagination. Pick a favorite city or country and create an evening around it. For example, if you are missing the beauty of Italy, plays some Italian music as you cook or order in Italian food.   Have a glass of Chianti red wine and savor your meal. Watch Italian movies such as A Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn or the DaVinci Code. Or get the full experience by finding an Italian movie with subtitles.  Miss the vibrant life in Mexico?  Try cooking up some delicious fajitas on the grill while drinking margaritas.  Plays some salsa music and maybe even learn to dance watching YouTube salsa dancing videos?  Anything is possible.

Finding ways to be production during Covid19 while staying healthy both physically and mentally is the most important thing right now.  As we all figure this out together, it is more important than ever to stay calm, be kind, and take care of each other.  Take this time to slow it down, relax and enjoy the time off from our regular life.  Have a great tip on how to stay productive during Covid19?  Share with us in the comments below.  =)

Lessons From Vanlife

Lessons From Vanlife

What comes to mind when you think of vanlife?  For me, my first impressions of vanlife was when I was scrolling through Instagram, looking at a pair of happy couple’s feet as the majestic view of a mountain is in the background of their opened van door.  Vanlife had a magical quality about it:  Traveling throughout the country, having absolute freedom and being able to experience all kinds of new adventures.  After my first months of being a full time vanlifer, this is what I’ve learned:

Hanging out with the pets in van

1.  I used to waste a lot of water.  Having a foot pump sync makes me realize just how much water I can conserve. I have a 6 gallon water tank that I use for hand washing, cleaning dishes, everything except for drinking.  I can easily go for 1 week without having to refill it. I think of all the times I keep the water running when I brush my teeth (sorry!  Yes, I was guilty of that.) and I realize how wasteful I was when I was living in a regular house. Having a foot pump sink also means I only run the water when it is time to rinse the dishes only, so water is not just running in the background.  This makes a huge difference in conservation.

6 Gallon Fresh Water Supply

2. Walmart have so much stuff! As a vanlifer, Walmart becomes a sort of safe haven. Many of them will allow you to park overnight, which I am really grateful for. Each region also has special items. For example, when I was in Alaska, Walmart had a huge supply of dehydrated food for camping or emergencies. Just a few weeks ago, I was driving north towards cooler weather, I realized I needed another sleeping bag for the kitties to hide under. I was able to pick sleeping bags, cat litter, as well as groceries AND crash for the night, all at the same place. I know it sounds silly, but when you are doing vanlife, efficiency matters (fuel savings) and having a one stop shop is amazing.

3. Truck Stops are awesome. Not only do they have some of the coolest gadgets, most of they have amazing showers for around $10-15 dollars. I have seen some for only $5, but most are closer to $15. They are clean and they even supply towels and toiletries. Plus, many will allow overnight parking, which is amazing when you are sleepy and didn’t bother to plan ahead to figure out where you are going to stop for the night.

4. Everyday, you will have the opportunity to practice patience. I travel with my 6 pets: 4 cats and 2 dogs. When the pets and I live in a space of less than 150 sq feet, we step on each other’s toes (literally sometimes!) All the pets seem to have their own opinions and not everyone gets along. Factor in the dogs are both working breeds, well, now it gets even more interesting. To be fair, most of the time, the pets are really well behaved. They travel well, and get along with each other. However, practically every day, one out of six animals will misbehave.

The cats love traveling in the van

I remember being asked, “Does it ever get lonely on the road?”

I replied,” I don’t have time to get lonely. I have 6 pets.”

The dogs love that front seat!

5. I’ve become the “Marie Kondo” of Vanlife. Seriously. Organizing and cleaning up after yourself becomes an essential part of life. First of all, if anything is left out, it automatically becomes a huge clutter because there is so little space. On top of that, if it is not strapped down or put up, it will fly as I am driving and most likely hit me or the pets. I’ve learned to be creative to take advantage of every nook and cranny of the van. Downsizing becomes an every day fact of life due to lack of space. After a while, I realized I don’t need most of my things stored in my attic at the house. What am I suppose to do with 2 huge storage containers of cocktail dresses anyway? There was a time in my life when I use to go to weekly events where I would dress up, but now a days, my uniform consists of wearing yoga pants & a cotton top. There is a great amount of freedom with simplicity. Next time I am back at the house, it is downsize time.

6. If it is not secured down, bungee down or Velco down, it will fall off. Every single thing in the van has to be securely fastened in place. At the end of the day, it is still a moving vehicle. I remember when I was going to Instagram looking at all the beautiful vanlife pictures. Marveling a the beautiful ceramic mugs hanging on the wall, I was inspired to create that in my van. Real life is very different. When you drive, things move and vibrate. The clinking sounds of mugs on the wall becomes really annoying after the first 2 miles. Those beautiful magnetic strips for knifes? Just imagine what would happen if you had to emergency stop? … No thank you. Once, I accidentally forgot to strap down the slow cooker and it toppled over, right on top of the dog. Luckily, the latches on the lid did a great job and nothing spilled, but my dog was not too happy about being woken up by a flying crock pot. Bungee cords and heavy duty Velcro are definitely a staple in my tool box.

7. The road less traveled really is better. National parks are great but I found some of my most memorable days are spend in smaller or less well know state or national parks. Sometimes, I would turn into a small dirt road to find it leads to a beautiful lake. Some of my favorite spots include Dixie National Forest in Utah, right by the more famous Bryce National Park, where I was able to see hoodoos and camp for free as well. Navajo National Monument in Arizona was filled with amazing canyons and Lone Rock in Glen Canyon in Utah is still one of my favorite places, with beautiful beaches you can drive on and lot of space to roam. While national parks are great, national forest and other lesser know parks give you more privacy and a chance to truly escape into nature without the crowds or tour buses. And of course, when you boondock or go to these less know places, usually you can camp for free. In fact, I have only paid for camping once this last year of living in a van.

One of my favorite free camping sites

8. If you plan to travel with pets, people will stare. At any given time, I have 3 pets in the cock pit. The two dogs sit in the front and one or two cats will be sleeping in on the dashboard by the windshield, soaking up the sun. It really is a funny sight. Be ready for tourist to come with cameras in hand taking photos of the pets in the van. =)

Cats love vanlife

9. People will react to you in two ways. They either think you are really cool living out of a van and traveling the country, or they think you are weird. Not that anyone has ever said it was weird, although a few have said I was “crazy” to traveling as a single girl by myself. Others people will think you are cool. When I was passing through Colorado I was looking for a healthy food shop to buy some supplements for the dog. There was a guy who looked like he was in his mid twenties skateboarding in the area. When he saw my van, he came up to me, with a huge smile and said he wanted to do the same thing. Once when I was washing my dog at the pet store, an older woman in her late 50’s came up to me and started asking me about my van. After walking my my van in the parking lot and seeing the pets, she hunted me down in the store so she can pick my brain. She was thinking about converting a van herself. After waiting for me to finish washing my dog, I gave her a tour. She was happy. =)

10. I’m a much nicer person with hot coffee in the morning. Especially when it’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside. After waking up to hungry cats meows and excited dogs pulling on their morning walks, having hot coffee really helps me with the practicing patience.

11) The secret to waking up at 6:00 am is simple. Go out to a place were there is no internet or cell phone service. Without social media, Netflix or the internet to keep me entertained, it is just me, the pets and a good book. Most nights, I’m asleep around 10:00 PM. Before vanlife, I am usually up until 2am in the morning.

At the end it wasn’t the beautiful places that I saw that made vanlife special. Visiting places like Yellowstone National Park, Zion, and Moab was great, but what truly makes vanlife special is the actual experience of living in a van, slowing down to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and really being able to live in the moment. Meeting new people, especially the elderly, and hearing about the adventures of their youth was one of the things I really enjoyed from my van travels. Taking time to prepare a hot meal while watching the sunset is one of life’s simple joys. Traveling in the van and living the vanlife isn’t really about the destination. Vanlife truly is a unique way to slow things down and live life in the moment.

Visiting New York City

Visiting New York City

Recently I went to visit one of my favorite cities in the world, New York City.  It is home to 8.4 million people, a melting pot of culture and commerce.  For most people, coming to New York means seeing all the tourist sites, walking through Time Square, climbing the Empire State Building, and going to Central Park.  As much as I love seeing the sights, New York City offers so much more.  Here are my favorite things about New York which makes this city one of my favorite.

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit

1- Concrete Jungle – Being in New York City is always mind blowing when I look out the window.  There are buildings as far as the eye can see.  What Manhattan lacks in green space, it makes up in buildings and there is so much diversity in the structures.  Old brownstone residential homes mixed with new shiny office buildings.  If you are lucky, you can turn a corner and see a quaint old church, with beautiful European architecture.  It is truly a magnification place.

2-Diversity of People- There is so much cultural diversity in NYC.  In a city where as many as 800 languages are spoken, everywhere you look, there is someone who may look different from you.  Yet, everyone resides in peace, sharing the same small spaces with their neighbor.  No matter where you go, you are welcome.  I love walking through Korea town, where you can find some of the best Korean bulgogi the city has to offer, only to cross a street, and end up in Little Italy, where you can find authentic home made pasta made with squid ink.  Because of the diversity of the people and their unique cultures, you can turn a corner and find you are in a different part of the world.

Cultural diversity is everywhere in NYC

3-Transportation Heaven – There are so many ways to get around in New York City.  With your choices from sea of yellow taxis, buses, and the extensive subway system, there is always an easy way to get around.  Of course, you have your choice of ride share options in including Uber, and of course, you can always walk.  New York is a very safe and walkable city.

Public transportation is every where in New York City

4-Food Carts- I love food carts.  They remind me of traveling overseas where there is so much amazing street food.  You can find a great Greek Gyro food cart at almost every corner, and there are people roasting fresh nuts with an intoxicating aroma of cinnamon and sugar.  It is authentic, quick and delicious.  There are even healthy options like smoothie food carts as well.

5-Energy- New York City has a very unique fast pace energy which seems to pulse through the veins of everyone who lives there.  Between dodging cars and the flashing lights, there is a unique energy only found in NY.  It is alive with culture, powered by the diversity of the people who inhabit this beautiful island.  I always feel recharged and inspired after visiting the city that never sleeps.

NYC the city that never sleeps

6-Nice People- Many people have the misconception that New Yorkers are not very nice.  While they are not like the folks in the South with Southern hospitality, New Yorkers have their own unique way of showing kindness.  For example, when I needed help getting around and was lost in the City, New Yorkers would take time to help me find my way back to the hotel.  I’ve had my doors opened for me many times and they were kind enough to humor me and take a photo for me.  When you think about sheer number of tourist who visit New York, asking for directions and blocking walk ways to take photos (yes I am guilty), New Yorkers actually display quite a bit of patience.  So on behalf of all the tourists visiting New York, New Yorkers, I would like to thank you for showing Northern hospitality.  We really appreciate it.

7- Street Performers – In NYC, there is never a shortage of talented people and you will see street performers all around.  Dance troups in the subway will hold an impromptu dance performance, entertain the crowd while they wait to catch the subway.  Musicians pour their hearts out, strumming away on their guitars.  A saxophone player creates a mood of romance in the streets, the perfect background to a night on the town.

There is no other city in the United States like New York City. Between the 24 hour night life and eateries, the pulsating energy of commerce, and the multi-cultural diversity of people, NYC is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Until next time, New York, I will miss you.

Day Trip to Galveston Island

Day Trip to Galveston Island

Living in Texas has many benefits:  Lots of sun light, great economy and being close to the water. One of my favorite quick get aways when visiting family in Houston is to take a day trip to Galveston Island, about 45 minutes drive from Houston.  As you approach Galveston Island, a warm salty breeze greets you, and you know you have arrived. During the week day, the long boardwalk is quiet and there is a sense of serenity. Time slows down and relaxation sets in as you take in the sights of the island: The gentle waves washing into the sand, the sea gulls gliding majestically through the air, and little sand pipers running across the beach.

I am always grateful for quiet moments of solitude to reflect on the joy and abundance I have in my life.  So often we are caught up in this fast paced world, but being at the Galveston Island on the beach, I am reminded of the simple pleasures of life: Basking in sunlight, listening to the waves, watching a child play in the water, and seeing the joy in my dogs eyes as they wrestle in the sand. Being in Galveston has a magical transformational effect, if you take a moment and allow yourself to let go and just enjoy the laid back pace of life.  
The day trip to Galveston Island reminds me of a time in my lives when I slowed down and appreciated the simple things in life. When you think about it, when was the last real conversation you had with your neighbors? With your family? With your friends? Being here makes me think of afternoons in my earlier years where making time for the people closest to me mattered the most and I vow to make more time for my friends and family this year As the day comes to a close, I head to East Beach on the far end of Galveston Island and watch one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. Happy and rested, I head back to the city of Houston, refresh and relaxed.
How to Travel Light

How to Travel Light

Each year, I travel about 200 plus days. If you add up the time it takes to check bags and to retrieve bags, it can easily add an hour to your day. On top of that, there is a chance the airline will lose your luggage. When you learn how to travel light, you will save time and never lose your luggage.  Once, my luggage decided to take a trip to Istanbul without me. For the last 3 years, I travel exclusively with a carry on and a backpack. This trip, I am flying to the Northeast United States, battling the rain and cold, then flying out to Colombia for another two weeks in the hot and humid climate. Even with 3 pairs of shoes, my laptop, my DSLR and camera lenses, work clothes and a mix of beach and casual wear with a winter coat, I am still traveling carry on only. How do I do it? Easy. It just requires a bit of creative planning.

How to Travel Light Tips & Tricks:

 

1) Get the most out of your luggage – Make sure your carry on luggage doesn’t have dead space. There are really pretty bags with structured designs that look cool on the outside, but take up precious space on the inside. Look for a luggage that uses all available space. And since you will be carrying everything, the lighter the bag, the better.  I recently purchased a new Samsonite Spinner luggage weighing 8lbs and it has made a huge difference. My other Samsonite bag, which only made it a little over one year, was on the verge of falling apart. One of the wheels were no longer working and I was literally dragging the luggage. This time, I looked for heavy duty wheels. I prefer the ones with a dual wheel because they seem to glide easier. Also, I prefer hard luggage with an expandable zipper. I use to travel with a soft side luggage but found I would over stuff the bag and it wouldn’t fit into the overhead compartment. The great thing about the zippered hard luggage is once everything is zipped, it will fit perfectly every time. Stay away from the conventional hard luggage because they are really finicky and are hard to close if the alignment is even slightly off. Last, I sit on the luggage to test it’s strength. Depending on how much you weigh, this may or may not be the best idea, but I want to make sure it can handle at least over 100 lbs of weight empty, both laying on its side and standing upright.

2)  Bring versatile clothing you can re-wear – Just like jeans, make sure to pack articles of clothing to build outfits around.  A cute summer dress can transition into an elegant evening with a cardigan, heels & accessories.  Plan out your outfits ahead of time and add accessories to glam it up.

3) Bring Ziploc bags & Trash bags – Dirty clothes goes in the trash bag and ziplock bags come in handy to pack snacks as well as to contain liquids from spilling. I like to double bag liquids, just in case.  Bring extra trash bags in case it rains and you need to make a make shift poncho for your electronics.

4)  Hand wash your clothes –  Bar soap.  Water.   A little elbow grease.  Done

5)  Roll your clothes up –  Don’t just dump clothes into the luggage or fold them. This takes up more space, plus your clothes get wrinkled in the process. If you are bringing shoes, tuck things like socks or underwear into the space to use all available space.

6) Downsize on your liquids. If you have to have your favorite conditioner, bring it, but you can do without the shampoo. My favorite facial cleaner and body soap is VaniCream Cleaning Bar, which you can get at a drugstore for about $6.  It’s extremely gentle on your skin, and doesn’t count take up space in my liquids bag. One of my favorite finds is a chewable tablet solid toothpaste by Lush. It is so easy to travel with and they have a variety of flavors. A good night cream is essential as well as an eye cream, since being on an airplane dehydrates your skin. And of course, travel size sunscreen makes the list. You can always get travel containers and refill as needed. The same goes for hair products as well.

7) If you don’t have to sit on the bag to close it, you have more space. The trick is to pack your bag using all available space, so the denser the better. If you are going on vacation and you want to bring back souvenirs , pack a different bag for the return portion. Most major airlines allow 2 free checked bags for international flights. You can always check a bag on the way back.

8) Get a backpack or a big tote. Don’t bring the purse unless it is HUGE. I travel with my Macbook Pro laptop, Kindle, DSLR, battery packs and food.  I have a huge Kenneth Cole Reaction Backpack which allows me to pack about 35-40lbs of stuff. I pack my purse in my luggage because I have more usable space in the backpack. This makes a huge difference in what I can bring with me on my trips.

Traveling light is easy when you plan ahead.   The important part is making sure everything you pack will be used at least a few times.  If not, it doesn’t make the trip.  Once you start traveling with only a carry on, you will realize how easy it is and how much time you save by not waiting for you bags.  It also allows you to be more mobile.  Happy Travels!