New Traveler’s How To Guide

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First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren and I am the face behind LaurenJaclyn.com! I have always had a passion for all things beautiful, including fashion, beauty, and design. After graduating college and briefly pursuing event planning, I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of starting a fashion and lifestyle blog about everything from on-trend accessories to my favorite hairspray to fool-proof recipes. It has been so much fun and I hope some of you join me on my blogging journey.

I have had the privilege to travel quite a bit throughout my life, with a lot of my extended family scattered across the world in Italy and South Africa. Traveling abroad is such a blessing, but it can be stressful at the same time! For a fashion lover like myself, the stress always sets in when it’s time to pack, especially when it all has to fit in a carry-on bag. My shoe closet and beauty product collection can get a bit out of control, so I certainly can’t bring it all along when I travel.  Today, I am going to share some tips and tricks to make the most of your carry-on luggage, and make sure you’re looking fab while you travel the globe!

Multi-Purpose Pieces

This is essential when you’re trying to get the most out of your carry-on! Focus on packing things that you’re going to be able to wear a lot of different ways. The best way to do this is to bring great basics, such as a pair of skinny jeans, plain t-shirts, and tanks for layering. Doing this allows you to establish the base of a look without having to pack too many items. Pants or bottoms are another really great way to implement this technique because they’re really easy to wear multiple times between washes (let’s be honest – who washes their jeans with every wear anyways?) and they serve as a great starting point for an outfit. Next time you go on a trip, try to just pack one pair of jeans and see how many looks you can come up with! I recently did a series on my blog where I styled one jumpsuit in three totally different ways (here, here, and here) just by changing up the accessories. Revolving all of my looks around that one staple jumpsuit eliminated the need for a bunch of different pieces that I would have only been able to wear once.

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Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Accessories are the best way to spice up different looks without taking a ton of different pieces with you. They generally take up the least amount of space and can totally change up the overall look. Bringing things like scarves, beanies, and a variety of jewelry will barely add any weight to your luggage, but will add a ton of versatility to your travel wardrobe. Don’t forget about using hair and makeup as accessories, as well! This is one of my favorite ways to change the vibe of a look! A tousled ponytail as opposed to sleek straight hair look gives two totally different styles without you having to pack anything extra!

Wear the Bulky Items

I am the first one who likes to look chic at the airport – but sometimes you have to adjust the plans to make sure you’re able to fit everything you need in your bag. Packing a big bulky jacket in a carry-on is not always feasible, but if you’re going somewhere freezing, it’s necessary. To avoid taking up the entirety of your suitcase with one jacket, omit it from the luggage and simply wear it to the airport. I cannot tell you how many times I have been that girl at the Miami airport in a wool coat, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Another thing I usually always end up wearing while I travel is a hat. I do this for two reasons! First of all, I am obsessed with hats and wear them every chance I get. Second of all, hats can be extremely hard to pack because they take up a lot of room and can often get misshapen during your travels if you place them in your luggage.

Size Matters

Try to downsize anything you possibly can to save room. For example, I am a vitamin junkie and I like to make sure I stay regimented especially when I am on vacation to avoid getting sick. If I brought all of my vitamin bottles that I needed with me, it would take up the majority of my suitcase and add unnecessary weight that could be used for something more practical and stylish. To avoid this, I count out just the amount of vitamins I will need for the time I am gone (plus an extra day’s supply for unexpected emergencies) and put them in a Ziploc bag or travel pill box, like this oneto save space.

The same principle applies for your toiletries! Your toiletries are a necessity but they end up taking more space than you realize. We all know about travel size goodies they have at the grocery store (I mean, how cute are they?) but it’s always a bummer when they don’t have the specific brand you’re used to. As someone with unpredictable hair, I cannot just use any shampoo or conditioner and expect my hair to be manageable so to avoid bringing along my entire bottle, I buy travel size bottles, like theseand fill them up with whatever I want to bring along. This makes for a much smoother transition for my hair and a lighter carry-on for me – win, win!

What are your favorite packing tips for when you travel?

Be sure to check these items off your list before you board your plane abroad.

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1. Apply for your Passport
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2. Make a copy of your Passport and any other important documents.

3. Bring a folder: Store your important documents in here, this is also a handy way to collect any paper items memories you get along the way (tickets, postcards, etc.)

4. Ensure you don’t need a visa to get into the country your visiting. Getting stuck in the airport until your expedited visa comes in does not sound like an item on my bucket-list. Also, be aware if you have to pay a entrance/exit fee when visiting the country.

5. Check in with your doctor for any medications or shots you may need to ensure of your health when visiting a foreign country.

6. Fill any regular prescriptions.

7. Double check all of your carry on liquids and gels are under 3.4oz.

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(Gotoob – one of my favorite carry on items to condense shampoos, soaps and conditioners in) 

8. Call your credit + debit card company and let them know what countries you’ll be visiting.

9. Secure all credit + debit cards – surprisingly, a lot of places throughout the world don’t accept credit cards, so it’s always a good idea to have cash on you at all times. Make sure to have a minimum of 2 debit cards, from different banks, just in case on debit card gets lost or puts a hold on your account (this happens more times than you can imagine).

10. Make sure your credit + debit card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. If they do, look into getting a card that doesn’t.

11. Get the local currency (if you’re able) before you go, you can request it in advance from your bank.

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12. Bring about $100 worth of cash with you in US dollars.

13. Book your first few days (or weeks) of accommodation depending on length and spontaneity of your trip.

14. Make sure you know the address and exactly how to get to your accommodation from the city’s airport. To be safe, print out a Google Map of directions to show to your taxi/uber driver upon arrival. ESPECIALLY if you’re staying in a hostel, which are often on residential or not well known streets.

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15. Break in your shoes and make sure they’re comfortable and don’t give blisters.

16. If you are a student, or have your old student ID – BRING IT! There are student discounts at museums and sites all around the world. It can often make a dramatic difference in entry fees.


Just a few reasons why you should pack Mother Dearest on your next vacation.

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Your mom was your first ever travel buddy and here are 6 reasons (not including endless memories and unparalleled bonding) to bring your mom along on your next traveling adventure.

1. She can be your personal photographer

She will undoubtedly need a basic photography lesson, but with enough support and practice she may just be able to get you that insta pic you’ve been dreaming of. She won’t necessarily understand what you are going for, or know why the first 399 pictures weren’t good enough, but she will click away until you are satisfied.

2. She packs things like gloves

As you’re preparing for your trip you think to yourself “I wouldn’t be caught dead walking around with gloves on my hands when it’s not snowing”. You imagine yourself blending in with locals as you tell your mom to leave the gloves at home.  Flash forward to when as you are walking down a city street with numb fingers and your mom whips out the gloves you told her not to pack you understand the saying “mother knows best.”

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3. She understands you

After a long day on your feet, when even though you’re on vacation,  you just want to buy a pint of good ‘ole  Ben & Jerrys – she won’t judge you. She will find an American television station and help you finish the whole thing, eating just the right amount to give you enough, but ensure you don’t hate yourself the next morning.

4. She’s a better driver than you

As you plan your trip abroad, you casually rent a car to get around Ireland the most efficient and convenient way. It’s not until you are in a stick-shift car, on the left side of the road, on what should be a one-way street, with a jaw sore from clenching your teeth that you are thanking the Lord above that your mom is behind the wheel – and not you!

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5. She can be your excuse for doing touristy things

Traveling is tough as you try to balance having a true cultural experience, and seeing everything you can. Most of the times cheesy touristy things don’t include either of those—but SOMETIMES they are fun/funny/you can see a lot/you have to try them because you are indeed a tourist. And in those sometimes, it’s nice to have Mum with you to blame on “dragging you” on….a duck tour of Dublin per say…that ends up being a hilarious way to see the city.

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6. She’s your best bet at a good travel buddy

She has already seen you at your worst…multiple times. And she did carry you around for 9 months…so if you don’t travel well with your mother, there might be something wrong! Traveling can bring out the worst in people as you deal with the inevitable travel debacle (including but not limited to: delayed/cancelled flight, medical emergency, cosmetic emergency) all while living out of a suitcase for a number of weeks. Being with your mum is the best because she knows just how to deal with you in this situations—when to leave you alone, when to let you take the lead, and so on. She will also still love you after the trip…no matter what.

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Guest Blog – Written by Maddy Hart

When staying in a hostel, you gain a richer travel experience by meeting like-minded travelers from around the world. Additionally, when traveling on a budget, it’s your best option.  Americans can be a bit hesitant to explore the world of hostels since they aren’t popular (or even an option) in the USA. Have no fear, hostels are safe and a fun way to immerse yourself in a new city.

Be sure to read this essential list before booking your first hostel!

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Choosing a Hostel

Hostelworld.com is the best resource for finding hostels. When you type in your dates and location, it’ll take you to the list of hostels there. Each hostel has a number score, which is the overall ranking of: value for money, security, location, staff, atmosphere, cleanliness and facilities. Read the reviews for some tips and reviews from past travels.

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Rooms

In hostels there are two types of rooms – privates and dorm rooms. Privates are private rooms, which are  basic hotel rooms inside the hostel. Privates are a more expensive option, but offer more privacy. Dorm rooms are filled with bunk beds to house anywhere between 4-40 people. For the dorms, you rent the bed, so you share the room, and obviously privacy is limited. For dorm options, there is typically a co-ed and female only dorm. As a female solo traveler, I feel more comfortable in female only dorms. The higher the amount of bunks in the room, the cheaper the nightly cost will be. You’ll meet more likeminded travelers, but will be sacrificing some privacy.

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Who

A wide range of people stay in hostels. Some hostels have age limits (usually between age 18-34) and others don’t, I have seen families with young kids stay at hostels.

Price

A bed in a hostel will cost anywhere from $6 a night (South East Asia) to $30-40 a night (Western Europe).

Exploring the city

A majority of hostels have organized activities around the city, and if not you’ll meet people who also want to explore the city and see similar sites that you do. The people at the front desk usually have the best idea about what’s going on in the city, so ask them whatever questions you have. A hostel with a good location can make a big impact if it’s convenient to public transportation/grocery stores/sights etc.

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(Bikes for rent at Kinlay Hostel in Cork, Ireland)

 Bathrooms

Imagine communal college dorm room bathrooms, not glamorous by any means. Private rooms will have connected bathrooms (just for you, or shared with another room), while dorm room bathrooms are typically down the hall. This is a good time to have a large Ziplock bag or toiletries bag to bring all essential toiletries(toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc) with you when you wake up and go to bed.

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(Bathroom from a private room in Wulingyuan, China)

Hostels’ policies

Be sure to read these online before you go, because some hostels only accept cash, some have a curfew (although, I’ve personally never experienced this).  Some receptions are NOT open 24 hours, this is very important if you’re checking in late, and need to make sure beforehand you arrange on how you’ll get in.

Kitchens

A hostel with a nice kitchen is amazing; you can save so much money by cooking your own meals. Even getting meals to-go from the local grocery store is cheaper than a restaurant meal out.

Meals

Many hostels offer free breakfast, but don’t get too excited, it’s usually a slim collection – generic cereal, some breads and jams. I’ve been to some hostels that offer free dinner, or dinner for a small fee. It’s usually family style – so a great way to meet a group of people from all over the world. Also, some hostels have small cafes or sell/make food of some sort.

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(Hostel lunch in Zhangjiajie, China)

Hostel bar

For a hostel with a lively scene, find one with a bar. Drinks are affordable, and it usually leads to a big group going out to some other bars near by. But to forewarn you, hostels with bars can be a bit nosier.

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Internet

Free wifi is becoming a standard for all hostels; most have a few computers and printers as well. Tip: Print your boarding passes here for your next flight here.

Walking Tours

Many hostels offer free walking tours, which usually are 3-4 hours, and start in the morning. These are great for meeting people, and seeing the key sights. Be sure to ask the front desk of any activities the hostel offers. The guides work off tips, so throw them around $10.

Washing Machines

One amenity your hostels may offer is  washing machines where you can wash your clothes yourself, or they’ll have a service to get it done. Usually very inexpensive. If there are no washing machine (dryers aren’t popular in Europe) you can go to a local laundromat as a budget option.

Safety

Be sure to always note the address of where you’re staying. It’s best to take the business card of the hostel to always have the address of the hostel. To remember the location, look for a main monument or store in the area. All hostels will have a place by your bunk to lock up your stuff.

 Tips

Pick the bottom bunk, it’s much easier to get in and out of. As well as better for charging all of your electronic devices.

Pack rubber flip flops, you’ll need them for the showers (last thing you want while you travel is bacteria).

Don’t be shy, strike up a conversation and introduce yourself. Talk about your itinerary for the day and see what sites and activities everyone else is up to.

Map out exactly where you’re going before you arrive to the hostel. Hostels are often hidden, and not clearly marked.

Bring ear plugs and a eye mask with you. People can be in and out of the dorm room at night, so these make sleeping a little more soundly.

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(Leaving Hostel One Sevilla Centro in Seville, Spain)

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Flights can be the largest chunk of your trip budget, but these sites make buying a flight a bit lighter on your wallet. There are two ways to do it: searching for a flight for specific location and time, or if you’re flexible. Tip: With flexibility comes greater savings.

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Here are the best kept airline secrets:

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(📷 by amwarman_)

Sky Scanner

 This is my first go to when looking for flights. It’s a flight search engine that shows the cheapest deal.

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Google Flights

More interactive user face including “Discover Trips” where eyou can set dates, places and interests. Google Flights allows you to include the “Multi-city” option when searching for flights. This means you can fly from different locations without having to buy one way tickets each place. For example, you can fly Orlando to Florence, and then from Rome to Orlando, and it’ll be within the same purchase.

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Airfarewatchdog 

A low airfare alert site that covers all airlines. You can sign up for email airfare alerts.

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Secret Flying 

If you’re dying to travel, but flexible on time and location, this is the site for you. How it works: This site offers details to the most incredible flight deals(I’m talking US to Asia for less than $500). When they find a great deal, it’s immediately posted it on the website. 

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Travel Pirates

 Similar to Secret Flying, Travel Pirates is a travel resource for posting the most affordable flight deals.

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Follow these on Twitter for instant knowledge of flight deals:

JetBlueCheeps

airefarewatchdog

SecretFlying

TravelPiratesUS