Top 5 Travel Tips

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As summer soon approaches, so do summer travel plans. Whether you are travelling stateside or planning to travel abroad, these tips will help you be prepared for your vacation.

Tip 1: For domestic flights, the best time to buy a ticket is six to eight weeks before the desired date of travel. And the best day to buy a ticket is on Tuesdays at 3pm. The reason for this, is airlines release their flight rates on a weekly basis on Mondays, so Tuesday is when airlines see each other’s prices and reduce their prices to be competitive. And if you are traveling internationally, then the best prices will be eight to ten weeks out from the desired date of travel. Just make sure to check that your travel dates don’t align with any domestic or foreign holidays, as this will increase the price of the ticket as well as the pricing and availability for hotels.

Tip 2: Subscribe to airline/train/coach buses newsletters. However you plan on travelling, subscribe to these newsletters as they are always competing to give you the best offered price and deals on tickets. I like to fly with Alaska Airlines domestically, and once a month they send me a newsletter for very cheap flights which require me to pick dates up to two months in advance. When I lived in Europe, I subscribed to Eurostar which also offered a similar newsletter deal for cheap train tickets to certain destinations.

Tip 3: Buy tickets in advance. This may seem obvious, but if you can buy a ticket online in advance then do that. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more on the day of. I made the mistake of buying a train ticket from London to Paris the day of and it cost me 4x the normal price. But since the train was already full, the only ticket option available was first class. And this applies to all types of tickets. For example, if you are planning to go to Disneyland/Disneyworld, then buy the tickets online since they will be the same price in person and then you get to skip waiting in another line.

Tip 4: Research what you want to do/see and where you want to eat. I use Pinterest to look up free activities to do in cities I travel to, as well as where to find vegan restaurants. What’s great about Pinterest is that there are a lot of blogs linked to the site, and if you are searching for cities then a lot of these blogs are written by locals, which means you can make the most of your travels by visiting the city like a local and less like a tourist. And I’ve used this for everything, from finding vegan food to getting step-by-step directions using the metro in Paris.

Tip 5: Try to plan to do 1 or 2 things a day, but nothing more. Whether this be sightseeing at two spots or visiting a museum followed by dinner, this minimal planning will make your vacation feel less stressful and more enjoyable. To plan on doing one or two things allows time for traffic and travelling from spot to spot without any rush. It also allows you to feel accomplished if you get to do everything you set out to do. If you plan to do 5 or 6 things a day, you’ll find it harder to fit everything into your schedule and end up feeling rushed or you’ll feel disappointed that you didn’t get to do everything.

I hope these tips will help your vacation be more affordable and less stressful. And Bonus tip, make sure to pack a capsule wardrobe to make the most of your suitcase. You can read a step-by-step guideline on how to create a capsule wardrobe for your suitcase here. Make sure to check it out and to follow these tips to make your next vacation a relaxing, stress-free holiday.

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All-Natural DIY Cleaning Products + Easy Cleaning Hacks

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With every spring comes a wonderful sense of renewal, a new beginning from the drab of winter. And with each spring I like to do some very much needed cleaning. A few years ago, I watched a documentary called Chemerical, which goes into detail on the toxins used in commercial cleaning products. What I discovered from this was how unsafe many of these chemicals can be for the environment and bad for your health, your skin, your children, and your pets if they should be exposed to them. Not only can some of these chemicals be toxic, they can also have high risks such as causing cancer. So, if making all-natural, eco and budget friendly cleaning products sounds like the best way to refresh, clean, disinfectant, and deodorize your home this spring, then keep reading to find out how to make them. Plus, stay tuned to the end to discover cleaning tips and tricks to get out those stubborn, tricky stains.

These next three items are going to be your new best friends. The first item is vinegar. Distilled white vinegar kills micro-organisms, works as an effective disinfectant and deodorizer, plus it’s safe and non-toxic for you and the environment. It also works as a natural bug repellent. And don’t worry about that vinegar smell since it becomes odorless once it is dry. A huge gallon of this only costs a few dollars and lasts for about six months to a year. The second item is Melaleuca oil otherwise known as tea tree oil. This essential oil is very effective as an anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial. And the third item that’s an excellent natural cleaner is baking soda. It is anti-bacterial and works well as a deodorizer and mild abrasive.

Now that you know of these natural products, here is a recipe to make your own natural cleaners to use around your house.

All Purpose Cleaner

In a bowl add:

¼ – ½ cup of distilled white vinegar

15-20 drops of tea tree oil

Enough water to fill a spray bottle

Pour cleaner into a spray bottle (you can find a cheap one at the Dollar Store or Target). For long term storage you will ideally want to use a glass or aluminum bottle due to the acid content of the vinegar. This cleaner works great to clean surfaces, clean messes, or for dusting surfaces. However, do not use this cleaner on granite or marble since the vinegar will erode the stone’s finish.

If you have a small child with plenty of toys, or a dog or two with toys that easily become dirty, a great thing to use after a simple rinse is a disinfectant to kill all microbials and germs lingering on the surface.

Natural Disinfecting Spray

In a small spray bottle (can be found at Dollar Store or Target), add 20 drops of tea tree oil to water. Feel free to add any other essential oil drops like lemon or lavender to leave a nice smell behind.

Here are a few tips and tricks to clean pesky appliances using these magical, natural ingredients.

Tip 1: To clean hard water buildup in your coffee maker, make a solution of ½ water and ½ vinegar and run that through your coffee maker. Then after that has ran through, run your coffee machine with just water twice to rinse out the vinegar. This will help your coffee taste richer and fuller as well clean out an appliance often neglected.

Tip 2: To clean dirt and food buildup inside your microwave put ½ cup of vinegar into a bowl of water. Place bowl inside microwave and run it for three minutes. This will create a steam that will loosen caked on food and allow you to easily wipe off with a sponge.

Tip 3: To unclog and freshen your drain, fill your sink (or tub) with water about halfway (about ¼ way for a tub) and use ½ cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar (2 cups baking soda and 4 cups of vinegar for a tub) into the sink. Let this soak for a few minutes, then unplug the sink (or tub) and let the solution drain. This will remove the buildup that accumulates on your pipes and it will also leave your disposal smelling fresh.

Tip 4: To remove caked on food buildup in your oven, combine ¼ cup of baking soda with 2 cups of water. Apply mixture on tough spots and let it sit for 20-40 minutes. For cleaning the oven door, leave the door open so the mixture can stay put on it. Then, wipe clean with little scrubbing effort.

I hope these all-natural products and cleaning tricks and tips help you this spring and will be of further use to you in the future. If you are further interested in natural cleaners, essential oils as cleaners, and the toxins in commercial cleaning products, I’ve provided links below.

Documentary on chemicals in cleaning products Chemerical (streaming on netflix) http://www.chemicalnation.com/content/

More information on chemicals in cleaning products and your health http://www.greencleancertified.com/gr…

Vinegar as a cleaning agent http://greencleaning.about.com/od/Gre…

Research on effectiveness of Melaleuca aka tea tree oil http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic…

Antibacterial properties of essential oils http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/a…