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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5 Things to Use Instead of Wrapping Paper This Christmas

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As a child my favorite thing about Christmas morning was ripping open my presents. I loved the feel of soft plush bows, satiny ribbons, and crisp new boxes. In fact, when I was three I preferred the boxes my gifts came in instead of the actual gifts. I played with those boxes for hours.

However, I think everyone can agree how satisfying it is to tear off that wrapping paper, but had I known then how bad the gift wrapping paper was I would never have unwrapped my gifts. Now as an adult, buying wrapping paper is so costly for something that’s just going to be thrown away. I’m sure, like my family, this Christmas, after all the wrapping paper is torn off the gifts, you’ll gather up all the paper remains into a trash bag and throw it away. This is such a huge and unnecessary waste. Keep reading to find out how to replace gift wrapping paper with Eco-friendly options that also have multiple uses too.

The tradition of wrapping gifts in paper isn’t a very long one in American history. For most of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, gifts were presented in keepsake boxes which brings me to my first recommendation. A keepsake box today can be in the form of a nice storage container. You can find them for under $10 at places like TJMaxx, Ross, or HomeGoods. What’s nice about them is they come in various sizes, artistic designs, and they usually have magnetic top lids. So, after your friend or family member opens their gift they’ll have a great and unique box to use afterwards.

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However, if those boxes aren’t quite your thing my next recommendation can be used for many occasions. You can buy cardboard gift boxes in a bundle for pretty cheap at the dollar Store or online at Amazon. Since they are plain you can reuse them for many occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. If you store them nicely, you can keep using these over and over saving you lots of time and making gift wrapping less of a hassle.

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If you have a smaller gift, you can try out this next recommendation by also buying a scarf. There are many tutorials on YouTube which demonstrate how to wrap a small gift with a scarf. This is a great idea since the scarf is not only the wrapper but also a bonus gift too!

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If a scarf is not suitable as a bonus gift, then I also recommend a small blanket, a coffee table cover, or even a table runner to use as the wrapper. These can also be useful in wrapping larger gifts too.

For my last recommendation, I suggest using reusable grocery bags. These are pretty affordable since most only cost between $1-$3. Plus, after Christmas is over you can easily put these into great Eco-friendly use at the grocery store.

I hope this list helps you create some new Christmas traditions that are Eco-friendly without the holiday waste.

Top 10 Eco-Friendly Gifts

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During this holiday season, a lot of gifts will be exchanged. While advertisements pressure us to buy material items to give, you also have the option to give gifts with meaning behind them. And what better way to celebrate the present moment than by giving thoughtful gifts that consider the future. This top ten list will you give you many options to consider giving to your eco-minded friends and family or to simply give a gift that helps reduce waste and moves materials products into a more resourceful and innovative future.

Pets

CycleDog

My first recommendation is for all pet lovers out there. Cycle dog is an amazing earth-friendly pet company that sells recycled collars, harnesses, leashes, toys, and beds. Materials range from recycled water bottles, recycled rubber tires, to recycled bottle openers. Collars range from $23-$25, price depending on dog’s size, and their products can be customized to fit your dog perfectly if needed. Based out of Portland, Oregon, all products are hand-made and hand-sewn at their facility there. And shipping is a flat rate of $5 or free with orders over $60.

Children

GreenStart_Blocks

This is an exciting year for a few of my friends who recently had children or are expecting their first baby. For my friends with young, toddler-age children and expecting their first child, I’m giving them this awesome gift to their children. The Greenstart line by InnovativeKids has an amazing toy kit called the Stacking and Nesting blocks that is made entirely from Earth-friendly, recycled materials. With ten sturdy boxes to stock build, and nest featuring beautiful illustrations, your child will have enriching content for hours of fun and learning. These blocks also include different early-learning concepts of each side; numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and baby animals. This has so much learning in one toy that it can easily last for many years in a child’s early life. For toys in different age ranges, make sure to check out their website to see all the eco-friendly toys they have ranging from newborns to five years old. The Earth-friendly green start line features puzzles, games, books and more made from recycled materials, FSC wood, and eco-friendly inks. Every green start product is designed to encourage a love of nature and features simple messages that kids will understand and enjoy.

Jewelry

JordWatches

Around this time of year there’s a lot of pressure to focus on jewelry as a gift, especially for women. But what about something a little more unique, like a wood watch? Jord wood watches is a company ran by artists, designers, and marketers that offer options for both men and women. And what’s special about this gift is the watches come in beautiful wood gift boxes. If you are looking for something like this but with a little bit of a lower price point, then I recommend WeWood watches. Both companies are completely committed to bettering the environment, which makes this little gift quite impactful.

Home

SaltLamp

For a little gift that can easily decorate a house another eco-friendly gift is a salt lamp. Not only are they great at cleaning the air and removing dust and toxins from inside, they also give a calming, beautiful glow. In store, I’ve seen small ones for $13 and larger ones for $32. You can easily find them online at Amazon and find a size and price point that best suits your needs. This would be a lovely gift and inexpensive gift for anyone, especially an eco-minded person on your gift list.

Teak and Blown Glass Tube Vase by Viva Terra

Another décor item that is very unique and cool is the Teak and Blown Glass Tube Vase by Viva Terra. Artisan-made in Indonesia, molten glass is poured over a reclaimed teak wood root to create this breathtaking sculpture. The glass flows over the curves of the wood, looking as if it’s frozen in time. Each vessel is made to fit a specific root, and the pairs will all be one-of-a-kind. For only $59, I think this is such a steal for something so incredibly special.

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This next gift is for the bathroom and for your body. Rocky Mountain Soap company is a Canadian company that uses all-natural ingredients to create products for both men and women. They have bath and beauty products that ranges from an entire face care line, bath and shower, body care, candles, deodorants, chap sticks, and aromatherapy. What really makes their products stand out is the amazing range of scents they have. Their holiday collection includes scents like Vanilla Ginger and Vanilla Candy Cane, and they even have fun flavors like their kid’s root beer bubble bath.

PaperSource

If you know anyone who loves writing letters or needs stationary for their home office, then I recommend Paper Source. One of my favorite things to gift is a stationary set with paper and envelopes to a friend of mine who lives in a different state then me. Stationary makes a great gift for family and friends who live far away because I see it as a promise to continue communication even though distance may keep you apart. But Paper Source is an amazing choice for stationary due to their commitment to being eco-friendly. They only partner with mills that adhere to environmental and socioeconomic standards, many of which are fueled via wind or hydro power. Their collection of solid color papers, cards, and envelopes are made from at least 30% post-consumer waste. And their printers operate with reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and recycle their ink waste. Based out of Chicago, this company is on a mission to making stationary paper as stylish ad eco-friendly as possible.

In many cities now, plastic bags are no longer being used which is a good thing for the environment. But to avoid paying for paper bags, the best thing to use are reusable bags/totes. One can never have enough of these bags. You can keep a few stored in your kitchen and another couple in your car. And now that these bags are everywhere, not to mention super affordable, you can find some great styles. Trader Joe’s has a fun selection in their stores. But what really surprised me was to see the Dollar Store collection, which are nice in quality and super cute.

This next gift is something I love giving and receiving. Every year, millions of water bottles aren’t recycled and instead are thrown away. You can help reduce that waste by giving someone a reusable drink container. I love love love using my Camelbak as my water bottle. They range from $12-$25, but they do come with a warranty in case they are damaged. But if you need something insulated, I recommend Kleen Kanteen. It keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks warm for 12 hours.

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For a fun little stocking stuffer, I recommend glass or metal straws. Plastic straws are so environmentally wasteful and nearly impossible to recycle. So, if you know any cooking enthusiasts, iced-coffee or smoothie lovers then these are perfect for them. I found my favorite metal straws online at Amazon but another good option with lots of fun choices is Strawesome Glass Straws. This company is family-owned and operated in Michigan that’s committed to health and the environment.