How to pack for that getaway in 5 minutes.

So you’ve done your research, and booked your vacation of your dreams, now for one of the dreadful parts of traveling-the packing.

In the ideal world, we would be able to travel with that cute 5 piece matching luggage set. Not pay for our overweight baggage and have a handsome bellboy waiting for us at the destination airport to help us push them all around. I’ve travelled a lot, and sadly the odds of this happening is slim to none. what I’ve learned though  in my novice traveling years is that, not only can over packing be expensive, as more and more airlines are starting to charge for luggage. Some, like our so lovely Spirit airlines, who even charges for carry-ons. If paying is not a problem for you, think about the strain of pulling, pushing and lifting that you will have to endure with all that extra weight. By the time I returned home, I would be so sore that I was ready for the next vacation.

After much trial and error, I am now a pro (well almost), at packing light and keeping that extra $25-$50 baggage fee my pocket for souvenirs or towards the next getaway.

  1. Plan
    1. Try and plan your outfits. Think about places that may want to dine, what will be necessary for your excursions and build your suitcase/bag around those items. Also, it is always wise to check out the local weather. Both morning and night, as I learned in my recent trip to Dubai (check out my previous post “Things I wish I knew..”)
    2. What to bring Shirts or dresses

should only bring enough for each day of your trip minus three. Pants: a pair of jeans for every other day minus 2.

    • Shoes: two pairs of casual shoes (ie a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers) and a pair of formal kicks. Ladies, you do not need a pair of shoes for each outfit. Try to only bring clothes that can be worn with the same shoe. I once traveled to Dominican Republic with a suitcase full of shoes, and returned home having worn none.
    • Undergarments: I am sure mom has already conditions us for this one. Remember to pack a clean pair of socks, undershirts, and underwear for everyday of your trip. When packing, Pack as many socks and undergarments into your shoes as will fit, then set the shoes in the bottom of the bag. This will not only save space, but will serve as the first layer of your bag and provide protection from all the bumps and bruises the bag will surely endure during transport.
    • Toiletries: If you’re planning on putting your toiletries in your carry on, remember that it must be able to pass through security, be sure to get everything in travel-size bottles and pack them per TSA regulations. If the plan is to check them in, your best bet would be to put them in a zip lock bag, this will help you conserve space, and protect the rest of your luggage in the event that one of the bottles, break open during travel.

3. Packing

Now that you’ve laid out all that you want to bring, here comes the hard part. Getting it all to fit in the least amount of luggage and still having room left for the return souvenirs. When it comes to cramming all those clothes, there are only two good choices, folding vs. rolling. Folded clothes are less likely to wrinkle but will end up taking up more space in the luggage. On the other hand, when rolled up, clothes are more likely to arrive to your destination wrinkled, but will only take up a fraction of the space compared to when they are folded.

So, when choosing clothes try and stick to Soft, wrinkle-resistant materials like knits, wool, and cotton as they can all be rolled without much concern. Keep in mind that each item should be rolled tightly as loose rolling will result in wrinkles, regardless of the material. Starched garments like collared shirts and dressier items should always be folded. Combining both rolling and folding should be enough to let you cram everything in your bag, with left over space and still avoid looking a hot mess while vacationing.

When placing all of your items in the bag, your best bet is to think of it like baking a cake.

The first layer or crust, should be the shoes stuffed with undergarments.

The second layer in your bag, on top of your shoes, should be all of your heavier rolled items such as jeans, sweaters, and towels. This should be followed by any fragile items that aren’t being brought as carry-on. Expensive items such as laptops, cameras and jewelry go here. By placing them on top of the heavy rolls like towels and jeans, they will be more likely to arrive to your destination in one piece. Think of this as the fruit filling.

The next layer (soft crust) should consist of lighter rolled items like t-shirts swimwear.

On top of them, place your folded items. If possible, keep them in a dry cleaning bag. This will help minimize wrinkle and provide easy access to them once you arrive to your destination, allowing you to unfold and hang them right away.

Last, on the very top, you place the toiletries.

Now you’re ready to roll!

Really, roll those bags to your nearest airport and get going!

 

Copyright © 2017 by travelingsistaz.  All rights reserved

Things I wish I knew before I started to travel.

After my first trip, it was like I an addict getting their first hit. I was addicted. I constantly looked for the next place, the next ocean, next volcano to book. Though I’ve only been to 11 countries (not many when compared to true travel connoisseurs), some days I feel well traveled and can be travel guide to the United Nations, and then I travel to another corner of the world and realize how much more I need to learn. For those of you who are preparing to take that first “hit” of travel, I have prepared this post to shed some light on the few things that I have learned on my travels.

 

Be prepared

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Vacations can be quiet expensive and the last thing you want is to return home, more stressed than when you left home. When planning a trip overseas Google should be come your best friend. Take some time to learn common phrases in the local language. Being able to say “where”, “thank you”, and “good morning”, can actually take you a long way. Local are often impressed by the fact that you made an attempt at connecting with them by learning these common phrases.

Be cultural aware 

    Familiarize yourself with the local language, money and culture. It is important for you to know a little of what is appropriate behavior for sex, age and even race. For European countries like France, where nude beaches are as common as Starbucks in New York, the cultural concepts such as nudity is quite different when compared to a middle eastern country such as Dubai.

Outerwear 

        I learned this lesson the hard way. Always bring a jacket. No matter what your encyclopedia says about local climate, bring a sweater or even jacket will be a smart idea. No matter the destination, somewhere along the way, you will wish you had a jacket. The airplane AC on the plane may prevent you from catching up on some sleep, the temperature may drop unexpectedly. During my recent trip to Dubai I was surprised to learn just how cold it can become at night. It was borderline freezing! (Then I remembered 6th grade earth science, deserts are hot during the days average 100F and can drop at night to an average of 25F) Also, you may decide to take a tour of holy sites such as churches and temples, and for that, you’ll need something to cover your shoulders in order to be allowed in.

Document

    Traveling is one of the most memorable experiences of your life, but memory is often fleeting. Capture your travel experiences in a journal or blog, Video. Photos. Letters. Postcards. Anything! so you go back and revisit them throughout the years. Looking back I wish I took more videos/pics of my earlier travels.

Have the proper documentations!

    Before even booking your trip, take a look at your passport. Make sure your passport is valid and not going to expire at least 6 months after your scheduled return. If you’re planning to visit a country that requires a visa such as Cuba or India, add that to your travel budget and get your Visa in advance. Certain countries may even require vaccinations that are not necessary here in the US. Check with your doctor, and make sure you’re caught up on our routine vaccines, as well as those of the country you plan to visit.

Pack light

    When I first started traveling, I would actually drag around two suitcases, no matter how long the trip is. One for shoes and one for clothes (yeah, I know). Like everything else in life, leave your baggage at the door (well not literally). An oversized suitcase (or suitcases in my case) may seem necessary to hold everything you need, until you realize, that’s you don’t need it. Pack smart. When packing bring things that can be worn or used in multiple ways, and do not take up too much space. A scarf can be worn as a head wrap, used as a light blanket or a pillow cover. Pack several times. Each time removing non-essentials, until you’re left with only what is absolutely necessary. Depending on where you’re headed, chances are if you forget or run out of something you’ll be able to replace it.

Some of the essentials: Jackets, Scarf/blanket, Earplugs, Charger, Camera and lots of cash as you may not have access to an ATM.


Be prepared to be an ambassador of where you’re from

    Like it or not, you may find yourself representing your home. No matter how hard you try to blend in the locals will be able to spot you a mile away. With that in my mind be somewhat prepared to entertain questions about politics, culture, money, fashion and even racism. During my trip to Dubai December 2016, all the question were concerning the recent presidential election. Depending on what they have been exposed to regarding American culture, some of the questions may surprise or even offend. On one little island in the Caribbean I was once asked “How many times have you been mugged”, once the locals found out that I was New Yorker. You don’t have to entertain every question, but keep in mind they want to learn you’re your culture as much as you want to learn about theirs

The fun part is up to you

    During my early trips, I had a list for everywhere I went of all the things I wanted to try and do. I did not complete all my tasks I will return home disappointed. Until I realized that I need to live in the moment. If I didn’t get to see a monument a wade in a river that was ok. My being preoccupied with my list I missed a lot of other wonderful experiences. Eventually, I realized that it was okay if I missed something, or ended my trip early, or extended it for longer, or spent the whole.

Lastly

    Just go! You will never be know everything, but you will never get there until you leave.
      When in doubt, travel.

 

Cuba

My very first trip on the blog MUST be the land of salsa, Castro and Cigars-CUBA!

 

 

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The preparation

My college girlfriend and I have been traveling for years, and most of our trips were booked almost spur of the moment. Our recent trip to Havana, Cuba was no different. We found many flights with JetBlue less than $200 per person round trip, but the dates did not fit both of our schedules. We ended flying with Delta for $400 round trip, We were so in there!

Habitacion

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Walking down any city block in Havana one will be sure to spot one of these. It signifies casa particular. In the late 90’s the Cuban government lifted a ban allowing Cuban residents to rent rooms in their houses to tourists, called Casas Particulares. My friend and I stayed at Casa Martha e Israel, where we paid $140 total for 5 nights and daily breakfast for two people. A round trip flight to Cuba from NYC ranges from $15 Still think you can’t afford to travel?

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There are two forms of currency accepted in Cuba. The CUC$ and the  the CUP. We found that the CUC is used most by foreigners and the CUP by the locals. Currently $1 USD is equivalent $1 Cuban CUC. Goods were found to be relatively inexpensive when compared to the US, especially if your remember to never accept the first offer.. My friend managed to eat an entire meal of rice chicken and salad for $3USD! Cubans may not feel the same, as the average Cuban salary in 2015 was $19 USD/month.

The OLDSmobiles that line Cuba’s street make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. The streets of Cuba are a car lover’s paradise. Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel placed a ban on importing foreign cars or parts. As a result all of the cars found on Cuban streets are not only straight from the 1950s, but most come with original parts. Since taking over from his late brother, Raul Castro have since lifted the ban, allowing Cuban citizens to purchase foreign cars, that is as long as they are willing and able to pay the hefty taxes. Taxes that can bring the price of a car from $30,000 to $300,000. With prices like these, I think it’s safe to say Cuba’s classic car parade is here to stay. At least for now.

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Walking around Havana it was easy to see the different cultural and political influences in Cuban architecture. “The influences from different styles of Moorish, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Roman found in Cuba’s architecture mirrors its rich social and political history from the graceful colonial baroque period to its modern towering blocks”.

Che’s house. Located at Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, Havana, Cuba.

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Che’s house. Located at Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, Havana, Cuba.
Ernesto Che Guevara is a name almost synonymous with Fidel’s because of his pivotal role that he played in the Cuban Revolution. His image, like Fidel’s is often captured in paintings, statues and even in music around Cuba. TIME magazine has even named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. La Cabana de Che provides an excellent view of old Havana.

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Cuba, like many of its counterparts is a country well known for its art. After the revolution most artists felt it best to leave Cuba. Those who remained faced censorship, as their art was sponsored by the government. Censorship meant artists could not draw, sculpt or sing anything that could be interpreted as anti revolution. It is not until the 80’s did art truest begin to reflect the artists expression. I found this statue in old Havana at the plaza vieja. Made entirely out of bronze it is a woman fully nude with the exception of her closed toe shoes, riding a huge chicken and carrying a giant fork. No one could really tell us what the statue represents. Perhaps the fork is an invitation to all the delicious restaurants and bars like Azucar bar (who has the best pina coladas in life!) located in the square, or the fork is what she uses to keep the rooster in check.

 

Copyright © 2017 by travelingsistaz.  All rights reserved

 

Welcome! follow me as I discover places I never imagined existed.

I grew up in the traditional Caribbean household, where it was structured and focused around family, school and church or as my fellow Haitians like to say growing up Haitian consisted of three things, Lekol, Lakay Leglise! Lol. So, as a child I promised myself that I was going to become successful enough to travel the world. So, here we are. Welcome to travelingsistaz, where I will share pieces of the world that I bring back home with me, to share with those of us still at the stage of lekol, lakay, leglise 😉

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I have not been everywhere, but it’s on my list.