How To Pack Like a Champ

As a traveling performer, I am always on the lookout for killer new ways to pack efficiently, tightly and stylishly. With my clothes being pulled in and out of suitcases and lugged from airplane to airplane, I can honestly say I’ve given up on buying anything that requires consistent ironing, dry cleaning or even air drying. I’ve definitely given up on such luxuries as lacy bras and panties as hotel laundry facilities are basically death to delicates.

14681585_10155085240751729_7211205716116369533_n.jpgHowever, I still like to look good on the road yet still maintain a high feeling of comfort. To take a break from packing for Houston (I leave tomorrow afternoon for a month-long gig at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo), I thought I would give some of my best tips and tricks for packing a diverse wardrobe in a single suitcase and backpack.

SPACE SAVER BAGS

These things have literally been the lifesavers for my travels. For as long as I can remember, I used to just roll up my clothes and throw them in my suitcase, leaving them open to collecting that stale airport, airplane and whatever else smell that latches on in the course of travel. While I still highly recommend the rolling technique, putting all of my items in these air tight bags is the secret to keeping my clothes not only fresh but wrinkle-free. I am also able to bring SO many more items since I can vacuum seal them!

I’ve used many different brands but I usually stick with Zip-Loc as they have the tab that helps really create that air-tight seal. I use a large one for my main items (hoodies, shirts and pants) and then the small and mediums for bras, panties, socks, slippers, tank tops and tights.

MESH PACKING CUBES ebagsblog

My mom recently went to China for four months and she was having the hardest time figuring out how to organize everything for her trip; that is, until she stumbled upon packing cubes. Now most people would look at these things and think they were pointless and take up extra space. WRONG. These bad boys have simplified life ten-fold.

More often than not, I will drive to different gigs. Sometimes these gigs are 15-20 hours apart from each other which requires me to stop for the night. Before I leave the hotel, I’ll pack some clothes for the night, next day and some extras in one of these mesh cubes. I’ll then use a smaller cube for toiletries. Everything else goes into the space saver bags for later. This way, when I arrive at my hotel for the night, I can simply grab these two cubes without having to search for anything in the dark. I also don’t have to throw a bunch of things in a bag and take it all out on the hotel bed. Time is money, especially when you’ve just driven 10 hours straight!

TRAVEL-SIZE EVERYTHING

#TravelSize #MiniatureEverything

I don’t know what it is about travel-size items but I absolutely adore them. Maybe it’s because anything mini is absolutely adorable or because it’s just more fun to see how many of your favorite brands come in travel-size. Also, the price tag ain’t too shabby either.

I love when I can do a trip with just a carry-on and that is where travel-size items are my best friend. As a special treat to myself, I will go to places like Sephora or Ulta and buy travel-size items of brands I’ve always wanted to try or simply ones that I can’t afford the regular of. Not only does this allow me to feel pampered, but I also get to try things without fully committing to an expensive product. There’s nothing like luxurious bath products to make you feel relaxed in a strange hotel room.

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

I despise going out to eat every night and watching my bank account drain faster than a Katy Perry relationship. In order to keep myself inside a traveler’s budget, I bring a few kitchen essentials that allow me to cook delicious meals inside my hotel room. A few things in my “kitchen box” include:

  • Mini cutting board
  • Sharp knife (perfect for cutting up fruits and veggies)
  • Nutribullet (It’s heavy but SO worth it)
  • French Press (travel size, of course)
  • Dollar store utensils (2 of each)
  • Italian seasoning (you can literally put it on everything)
  • Plastic Tupperware
  • Wine bottle opener (duh)
  • Mug

If I’m staying at a hotel that serves breakfast I’ll usually try and snag some bowls, plates and napkins but I don’t mind swinging by the local Target or Walmart and buying $1.99 paper plates.

As long as you stay organized, you can bring everything you want and need with you on all of your journeys. Happy traveling!

Photo Credit: The Odysessy Online 

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A Weekend In Jaco

I originally wrote this post for Tico Lingo, a Spanish immersion school located in Heredia, Costa Rica, as part of a WorkAway program. I wanted to share this adventure as well as some tips about a weekend adventure you could have while visiting Tico Land! 13102866_10154612081706729_5779748262555390554_n.jpg

Wanting to step outside of the valley for the weekend, I ventured to the quirky town of Jaco in search of sandy beaches, pina coladas and a little spontaneity. What I found was so much more than I had originally expected. I’ll preface this by stating that the original plan was to spend a short time in Jaco simply as a stopover to Manuel Antonio. I’ll cut to the chase, however, and confess that one night in Jaco quickly turned into three with absolutely zero regrets on my part.

HOW TO GET THERE

I was able to catch a local bus to San Jose for a mere 550 colones (roughly $1) directly to the Coca Cola station. From there, I asked a few locals where to catch the bus directly to Jaco. (Side note: Always try and get on a “directo” bus. This will be the quickest route to your location.) Many locals recommended I get a taxi directly to the new 7-10 station since the area was a little sketchy and I had a backpack worth of goodies on me. So for 2000 colones I jumped in a red taxi with a yellow triangle (super important!) and got dropped off in front of the station. It looks just like a mall with the tickets being sold upstairs and the boarding downstairs. Cough up 2335 colones for a one-way ticket and jump on the 2- hour ride to Jaco!

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At the base of a waterfall 20 minutes from Jaco Beach! 

The bus will drop you off at the main Jaco station directly across from the Best Western hotel. Take a left and begin your journey down the main drag of Jaco town!

WHERE TO STAY

As I mentioned before, the original plan was just to crash in Jaco for the night and then head out to Manuel Antonio. However, it wasn’t that long before I realized I wanted to spend more than 24 hours in this hippie beach town.

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ROOM2BOARD HOSTEL – Starts at $18 a night

I was ridiculously impressed with this hostel. Not only was the price definitely affordable but this place was literally right on the beach! This boutique hotel offered a luscious pool with a waterslide and plenty of poolside seating as well as a bar that offers $5 cocktails, woodfired pizza and a talented and helpful staff. They also have a giant wall where they project movies or hockey games until 11 p.m. The final icing on the cake? Rooftop hammocks overlooking beautiful Jaco beach and the Pacific Ocean.

BUDDHA HOUSE

A friend and I splurged and booked a private room in this boutique hostel kitty-corner to Le Loft and The Green Room. The weather in Jaco can be brutal in terms of heat so having a room with a private shower and air conditioning was well worth the $25 each. Also, having a private hammock and bean bag chair wasn’t too shabby either.

WHERE TO EAT

THE GREEN ROOM – $6-$10

There are tons of small sodas, coffee houses and bars that offer some delicious quick bites but for slightly above your normal Costa Rican fare. Friends and I stumbled upon The Green Room and we were immediately hooked, eating there three times during our stay! This place offers many delicious and fresh choices such as banana pancakes, vegetarian breakfast burritos and fizzy berry mojitos. Even their water is great as it is infused with mint, basil and cucumber before being served cold. This place has amazing live music every night, plenty of art for sale and fair prices for the high quality.

WHAT TO DO

Jaco is a fairly tourist town so the main strip is covered in choices for ATV, zipline, waterfall, crocodile and biking tours. A friend and I chose Costa Rica Waterfall Tours for our Explorer Tour climbing 10 waterfalls and jumping off a few of them! This adventure took us 4x4ing through the jungle to a serene waterfall where all you could hear was the sound of water and birds. With the help of a local Tico guide, our group hiked down to the bottom of this 10-waterfall canyon and hiked our way up, stopping to jump off cliffs as high as 20 feet! I’ll admit my knees were a little shaky but it was well worth it!