What’s in my carry on: The essentials

When it comes to traveling, what you chose to pack and how you pack dictates how comfortable the flight will be. I used to over pack to the extreme, which not only added extra weight to my luggage and luggage fees, but made traveling exhausting all together.

Now that I have a tad bit more experience with traveling, it has become easier to organize myself even last minute. Here is a list of my carry-on essentials.

  1. The bag

The most important part of the carry on, is the bag itself. I have been using this Michael Kors oversize tote for quiet some time now. When choosing a carry on, pay close attention to the size and length of the straps. Always chose one that gives you the option of being able to carry it by hand and the ability to through it over your shoulder when you need your hands free. The strap should also be thick and wide enough as not cause any pinching in the shoulder, which will lead to discomfort.

2. Media/technology

I usually only carry my Ipad as oppose to a laptop, as it is much lighter and convenient, basically has the same function, and God forbid gets lost or stolen, is a much cheaper loss than an expensive Mac book. It also holds my Audible books, games and music. I also carry my Iphone, the cords for each device and most importantly a backup battery pack. There is nothing worse than getting off the plane and hunting for an outlet to charge a phone or tablet. This portable charging wristlet is one of my prized travel possession, not only is it wide enough to carry my keys, lip gloss, and phone, but it is also comes equipped with an external charger and charging cord, which means that your phone can be charging while it is tucked safely away in your bag.

use this link and get a similar one from Amazon

3. Camera

When I started blogging I was a bit shocked when I realized the vast difference between “professional” photos and those that I posted. To up my photo game and after much research, I purchased the Olyumpus OM-DE- M10 Mark2. Which provides excellent image quality and having the capability to catch the finest details and sharpness even in difficult lighting, and is great for novice shooter like myself.

4. A change of clothes

While we never wish for it to happen, it’s always a good idea to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your checked luggage gets lost. Keep in mind the weather of of your destination. A pair of jeans, a t-shirt and change of underwear, should be sufficient.

5. A Good book

Usually a magazine or E-book is helpful in getting through long flights after you’re exhausted from watching movies. Check out Audible Membership for the latest titles.  Two of my favorites are Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibuscus, both written by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieI also never leave home without my planner, as I like to stay organized, even while vacationing.

6. Comfort

I have a cosmetic bag, that I refer to as my comfort bag. In it I carry my earphones, hand sanitizer/ wet wipes, hand lotions, eye shield (for napping), medicine, ear plugs, as well as compression socks to help my legs through those long flights.  A comfy blanket and neck pillow are other essentials.
 I got these from Amazon.

7. Sunglasses

Rather then looking for a bathroom to reapply makeup in order to feel refreshed after flying, I usually just throw on a pair sunglasses. This will hide any newly acquired dark circles from the flight, and have you stepping off the plane like the celebrity that you are.

8. Passport holder

A pretty passport holder to keep bag claims , and boarding pass are essentials as well as a healthy snack.


What’s in you Carry on? comment below.

Go to @travelingsistaz for a chance to win one of these travel essentials

Cross Country Ireland!

Stops: Direct flight from JFK
Entry point: Dublin, Ireland
Exit point: Dublin, Ireland
Estimated Budget: USD $1,200/pp


Located in the North-western Europe and is divided into two sections, The Republic Ireland which gained their independence in 1920 and the remainder Northern Ireland still remains as part of the United Kingdom.  Dublin, the capital and the country’s largest city is the fourth most visited European capital.

Language: English is spoken everywhere but Irish Gaelic is the first official language.

Travel restrictions: Citizens of European Union, The European Economic Area (EEA) countries (and Switzerland) only require a valid  passport and do not require a visa for entry or employment. The same holds for US citizens who are visiting for less than three months.

We flew nonstop flight from JFK on Royal Dutch Airlines with total time 6 hr 54 minute

Transportation: We rented a car as our main means of transportation. Renting a car in Ireland is very similar to the processes elsewhere in that you need a credit card in your own name and as well as an unrestricted driver’s license.  Most car rental companies in Ireland apply a minimum age of 25 in order to rent a car.


we used Dan Dooley car rental that was reserved prior to our arrival.

Food: Irish cuisine mostly consists of  meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper. Ireland is the home of some of the world’s greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years. The Jameson distillery is a common tourist destination found near the center of Dublin. The other other popular drink in Ireland are it’s vast variety of teas. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other country in the world.

Weather: Overall, the weather fluctuated ranging from chilly, overcast and wet to warm and sunny. In Ireland you may indeed experience ‘four seasons in one day’, so pack accordingly and keep up-to-date with the latest weather forecast. I would definitely recommend carrying along your wet weather gear.

                                                               The trip

Day 1-3:  Our first stop was Meath, Ireland. Here we stayed at Dunboyne Castle Hotel and Spa.

The hotel is situated on the grounds of a former castle. The original castle was destroyed during the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland. Now in it’s place is a mansion once home to the Lord of Dunboyne.  We had an onsite spa, The Seoid, meaning jewel in Irish, where we were able to unwind in the crystal steam room, and enjoy the herbal sauna. The Ivy restaurant, also located on the grounds served traditional Irish dishes. This hotel appears to be the ideal location for weddings, as during our short stay there we witnessed three nuptials.


day 3-5: We drove to Killarney, Ireland and checked into Muckross Park Hotel & Spa

On day 4 we booked the recommended tour of  Ring of Kerry. The tour guide picked us up at the front of the hotel at 10AM and we were on our way! During the 100-mile coastal panoramic drive, we had the opportunity to see the most majestic views: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses cottages and a few sheep being chased by dogs on endless farm land. The best view of all was that of  the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View.

Day 4 we drove to our next location Adare Ireland, where we stayed at the Fitzgerald’s woodlands House Hotel. Out of all of or accommodations this was the most homely.

On day five we drove into Limerick, for a little sight seeing and had the pleasure of getting front row seats at a fashion show that was taking place at a local boutique that was being hosted by blogger Lisa of @Lisa_lust_list. All of the pieces showcased were gorgeous, but well over our shopping budgets for that day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day 5 we drove to Wicklow, Ireland where we checked into the Powerscourt Hotel.

This five star hotel, was hands the down the best that I have ever stayed in. Even outdoing the one we stayed in while in Dubai. Located on the grounds of the 1,000 acre Powerscourt House and Gardens, was home to a beautiful waterfall, and endless trails for cycling or jogging. Here we had a 20-meter Swarovski crystal-lit pool and three exceptional dining facilities where we were able to taste the best foods that we tasted during our stay.IMG_7860

on day 6 we drove into Enniskerry is a village, a small village a few minutes from Wicklow.

Day 7 we woke up at dawn and drove the airport.  We arrived 3.5hrs before our flight and still almost missed the flight. Unfortunately, this by far has been the worst airport experience for me. Most of the staff at the airport were unable to provide information or directions, and we were guided into a line with the name of our carrier, only to stand on the line for two hours and be told that we were on the wrong line once we got to the front. FullSizeR (1)

Overall, this was the most restful vacation that I had in quiet some time. unlike most of the cities that I have visited, Dublin lacked the hustle and bustle feel. Which meant we explored at our leisure, enjoyed the night life and still made it to bed at reasonable time.

21 Happy things :-)

  1. The sound of children laughing
  2. The smell of fresh baked bread
  3. Standing on a white sandy beach looking into crystal Blue Ocean
  4. Free drink from Starbucks
  5. Conclusion to a grueling semester
  6. 4th of July BBQs
  7. Getting lost in a book by your favorite author
  8. Binge watching a newly discovered Netflix series
  9. Completing that annoying level on candy crush
  10. Supportive feedback from fellow
  11. Sound of the rain, while I am under my blanket
  12. Completing all my chores, and still having time for a nap
  13. Naps
  14. Deep tissue massages
  15. No traffic
  16. Mystery shows
  17. Ignorant TV
  18. Smell of rain
  19. Homemade spaghetti
  20. Count down to Vacations
  21. Receiving hand written love notes

Yellow Plush Toy

Name your happy below

*Inspired by a fellow blogger

use code TRAVELSISTAZ25 for 25% off your purchase

5 ways to save money for your dream vacation.


  • Research
    1. Choose where you want to go, and find out their peak season and chose dates that do not fall during that time frame. The key to finding the cheapest air tickets is to identify the season with the lowest passenger demand. Visiting during the least popular times, tend to be less expensive.Sign up for a few email alerts from travel companies and airlines that share flash sales and limited-time-only offers. You’d be surprised at the deals you can find.        Don’t sleep on sites like Groupon… check out this deal!
  • Vacation savings account  

A trip to the beach could be in your future, so start saving now..

  1. Open up a separate account just for vacation, and designate a fixed amount that you’re willing to put away every month towards that dream vacation.
  • Cut back on luxuries like eating out
    1. Going out to eat French food at the pricey French restaurant in your city VS. saving enough to eat French food in FRANCE…?
  • Sell your used items
  1. That expensive pocket book that you were crazy enough to spend your entire Tax refund check on three years ago, may be worth a 3 day vacation to the Caribbean.

Get another Gig

  1. As a nurse I used to pick up an extra shift per month and save all the extra money towards my yearly vacation. A lot of fellow bloggers said that they started driving Uber. I hate driving, so this was not much of an option for me.

Travel Folding Soft Toothbrush (2 Pack) by GUM

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!


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