Travel Tips and Tricks

Travel Tips and Tricks

One of the most important things I learned in the first 10 years of my career that made me feel like a badass was how to travel. Before I learned these skills, I was terrible to travel with. TERRIBLE. I was anxious, I was always the last one in or out of the plane and boy, oh boy did I look like a hot mess. To put it politely, I was a bitch to travel with.

Perhaps this skill comes naturally to some but for me, it was like pulling teeth. I didn’t come from a family that traveled more than two hours from home for our yearly camping trips so when my boss told me I was going to Chicago for the first time I was ecstatic and also terrified….mostly terrified. The last time I had been on a plane I was eight and I was going to Disney World. I was 25 which meant it had been 17 years since I had been on a plane and I wasn’t going to be traveling with my parents.

I was traveling alone and had NO idea what I was doing. LITERALLY, NO CLUE WHAT I WAS DOING. I was, however, pretty sure that I needed to leave my Mickey fanny pack at home but how would I be sure? Over the past few years, I have racked up a few more trips across the U.S. to places like Chicago, New York, Saint Louis, Orland and so much more. Throughout my travels, I have learned a thing or two that I would love to share with you.

If you don’t travel on flights often the only piece of advice, I can give you is to keep your car clean. If there ever is an impromptu dinner and you get asked to drive, you don’t want to have to make a mad dash to your car to toss all your junk in your trunk and wipe down your dashboards with paper towels from the bathroom. Also, always keep an unopened air freshener in your car – you can open it up and suddenly your car feels so much cleaner. I still struggle with this. I drive two hours a day to and from work so I basically live in my car and you can tell. I have made it very clear to my boss and coworkers that I can’t make any guarantees that my car will be clean if I choose the short straw and have to drive.

  • The first and most important rule – be nice to everyone you encounter. You never know which flight attendant is on the last leg of a 72-hour shift or on the flip side what flight attendant can get you upgraded to first class. BE NICE OR DON’T GO.
  • Be prepared for the worst in all situations. Not just like “oh this stinks” worse but “dear god, save me, I’m so screwed” kind of worst. Your flight will get canceled, your hotel reservation didn’t get booked, your luggage with all of your presentations won’t show up, etc. What can go wrong will. Leave time to accommodate the bad situations and it will make your life so much less stressful.
  • Invest in a good carry-on suitcase with the wheels that spin in every direction, not just forward and backward.
  • Try not to check a bag unless absolutely necessary. You can typically get through a week by taking a few key pieces (hello black dresses) and accessories to change it up.
  • Put a tag on your bag that you can’t miss. It’s so much easier to grab your bag from the carousel if you can see it coming a mile away. Make sure it’s tied on really tight so that it doesn’t fall off. Make sure you have your name and information on your suitcase in 3-4 locations. Get a TSA approved lock for your suitcase and don’t lose the key.
  • Pack as much black clothing as you can. No sweat stains, no-spill stains, basically black is foolproof when traveling (but please…avoid powdered sugar donuts and deodorant that stains).
  • Have a suitcase packed with all the essentials that you just leave packed 24/7 and refill when you get home from your trip – that way you don’t forget your Qtips, razor or toothbrush. It’s also helpful to make a packing list with all the items you typically take with that you can use so you don’t have to rack your brain on what you are forgetting. You can also check out my nifty packing checklist.
  • Anything you need to get through the day should stay in your carry-on (medications, toothbrush, etc.). I’m just going to say it again… always assume your luggage will get lost and you won’t be able to access it for 2-3 days.
  • Have a set idea of where you might go for meals or an agenda so that you can look up the places and make sure you have appropriate clothing. Make reservations if you can, I like to use Open Table. If you’re not familiar with the area, ask around at your office to see who has gone out to eat/entertain in the cities you are visiting. Use Facebook and Yelp to get recommendations. When dining with clients it’s always a good idea to have set plans that you know are foolproof plus a few back-ups. Always ask about food preferences ahead of time (vegetarians and people allergies love it when you think to include them in planning).
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.
  • Check-in for your flight in advance. Download the app. Make sure you have the notification turned on. I’m a nervous nelly so I always print a copy of my boarding pass as well. Just in case.
  • Sign up for frequent flyer programs and hotel loyalty programs. A free weekend in Hawaii – hell yes! Free cookies at check-in – hell yes! I don’t travel that often so I’m only at “free bottle of water in your room” status but I’ll take it!
  • Wear socks and slip-on shoes. Airports are gross. Athletes foot is gross. Enough said.
  • Avoid wearing extra jewelry and a belt when you are getting on the plane. It could get lost or you might forget it and that would be the stink. Also, don’t wear anything real expensive. It would be tragic to lose your diamond bracelet on your way to a conference.
  • Keep a spare phone charger on you at all times. I repeat AT ALL TIMES. If you don’t need it, I can bet someone near you will and you will be a HERO.
  • Charge your computer and your phone to 100% power before leaving the house.
  • Parking in a garage? Take a photo of your parking space so you don’t get lost when you get home. Take the time to think through how you are getting where you are going. I can’t tell you how many times I have rushed through a parking garage just to forget how I even got to the check-in desk which made finding my car after a week-long trip and late-night meetings a nightmare and also very embarrassing and a little scary as I roamed the dark parking garage at 2 a.m..
  • Bring headphones. When your headphones are in it’s a signal to everyone around you that you are off-limits. If you have headphones in and someone bothers you, it is always okay to let them know you are off-limits. There have been so many times where I just wanted to check out and the friendly family in my row wanted to chat. These are the times that my headphones have been a savior – was I listening to anything – nope – were my headphones in – you bet they were. Oh gosh, I can’t hear you I’m listening to a really important podcast.
  • Keep a couple business cards on you – you never know who you might sit next to on the plane. Networking on a plane could land you an awesome client or job down the road.
  • Bring cash. Bring dollar bills. Tip the taxi driver, the baggage guy, the waiter at the coffee house, etc.
  • Keep enough cash on you to carry you through a day if your cards got locked. I can’t tell you how many times my credit card company has locked my account because I was in a different state and it was flagged as a security issue. Dearest pilot – can you just wait to take off for a quick sec while I make a call to my credit card company?
  • Be safe, have scheduled check-ins with someone from home. Turn on your location finder and make sure someone is checking in on you.
  • Share your flight and hotel information with your team members and family. You don’t have to give them the phone number to your hotel room, but your general travel information should be shared.
  • Always include some extra time in your travel plans. Assume you will get lost or your taxi driver will get lost, etc.
  • Paper is heavy. If you have a lot of paper that you need to take (conference reports, presentation decks, etc.) you should try to ship them to your hotel ahead of time. I never realized why my suitcase was so heavy until I was talking to another co-worker and she told me she had shipped all her presentations to the hotel. Next level genius. Also, the company either has to pay for your suitcase or for shipping.
  • Always bring presentation decks in printed and digital format and assume that the venue that you are presenting has the most antiquated software. Keep a PowerPoint and a PDF in case they don’t have, gasp, PowerPoint. Have a connector for a PC and a Mac.
  • Make sure you can turn your cell phone into a private hot-spot if needed.
  • Airport wi-fi is not private. It is not secure. Understand the risk of using the airport network before logging on.
  • When you are traveling, and your standard workday ends, and you don’t have any more client meetings – it’s okay to check out the city or grab a quick drink. Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you’re not human – don’t forget to take a break. I remember my first business trip I thought I had to work the whole time I was traveling, and by the end of the week, I was so exhausted I was stumbling through my client presentations.
  • If you travel on a weekend it’s okay to ask for comp time – what’s the worst that happens – they say no?
  • Keep a bottle of water, energy drink, and protein-packed snacks on you at all times (fruit leather and beef jerky are two of my favorites because they don’t crumble in your bag and they are quick). You will save so much money if you don’t have to buy the expensive airport snacks.
  • Find out how often you are going to be traveling and where you are traveling. Some companies will cover the cost of TSA pre-check and a passport if you meet certain travel requirements and let me tell you – it doesn’t suck to skip the line. The company won’t cover it – get it anyways – it’s SO worth it.
  • Take care of yourself – eat healthy meals and snacks and drink lots of water. Yes, Cinnabon is tempting but it’s probably not the best choice.
  • I strongly recommend melatonin. I keep it in my suitcase, and it’s been great to combat time changes and the nights where I can’t wind down after a busy day of traveling. Take it about an hour before you plan on going to bed assuming you won’t get a late-night call and get pulled into anything after you take it.
  • Always, and I repeat always, set a wakeup call. I have had so many nightstand lamp outlets that just don’t work and been down to the wire on my battery life – thank goodness my phone didn’t die, and I miss a meeting or flight. You can call the front desk at just about every hotel and they can set a wake-up call for you.
  • Write down your expenses in real-time. What did you buy, who was it for and what did you spend on the tip. If you can file your expenses in real-time (or each night) – I highly suggest doing that. I can’t tell you how many receipts I have lost for a cup of coffee. It might not be a lot, but it adds up.


Have any travel tips I didn’t cover? Would love to hear from you!

Happy traveling!!

Saturday Morning Cleaning Routine

Saturday Morning Cleaning Routine

Cleaning is my Zen. Some might say I have OCD but to each their own. Right?

On Saturday mornings, I like to get up earlier than everyone in my home to complete the following routine. This allows me to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing or getting things checked off the to-do list.

If there is one thing to remember – it’s THE BUN RULE. Everything in your home must be Beautiful, Useful or Nutritious/Necessary.


I take my cleaning bucket with me throughout the entire house. I like to keep stuff to a minimum so I only have one bucket that contains everything I need to clean my home.

I move methodically from one room to the next from top to bottom to eliminate wasted time and trips. If something needs to go downstairs, it either waits until I make my decent to the lower level or if I have to go downstairs I grab it on the way down (no wasted trips!!)

I start upstairs in the room furthest away from access to the downstairs (so I have to clean every room before I go to the next level).

I have a kitchen size garbage can in the upstairs bathroom, so I pull that into the hallway first. I hate having to empty teeny tiny trash cans every day so having only one large can allows me to save some time during the week.

If this is the first time you are working through the routine, you will need to allow a big chunk of time to really dig in and get the place clean. Then from there it’s really just maintaining cleanliness and order.

If you start getting what I call “stack syndrome” meaning you have tons of things you need to sort or figure out where they go – just start. Don’t make piles in bins, there is no reason and it will (I promise you) turn into clutter. Sort it on the scene. Make one, I repeat ONE box of “sort” and put items that you absolutely cannot figure out if they are important in this box. This box should never get filled – if it starts to look full then you deal with it or throw away (or donate) the items.

I enjoy this routine as I can stay in my pajamas until it’s done. I recommend stashing away some of your favorite snacks and beverages that you can munch on throughout the process.

When I leave a room – it’s “pretty much perfect” aside from putting the cleaned linens/towels back.

If I could put caution tape across the door of every clean room until Monday morning – I would.


I have to admit when I keep saying “wash” in the post below, but I am basically making one giant laundry pile that I will tackle washing and drying throughout the day.

As each load finishes, I dump the basket on the bed (I remove all the dirty sheets on the mattress so nothing gets dirty right after being washed).

Then before bed, I make a cup of my favorite tea, turn on a TV show and put my laundry away. It feels SO good to not have to touch a thing on Sunday.

I also love sleeping in clean sheets without having to get up and go to work in the morning – extra snuggle time in clean sheets!


Select a laundry basket that you are going to designate as your “downstairs stuff” area.

Fill the basket with dishes, laundry, books, really anything you find upstairs that belongs downstairs and put it in this box as you clean the upstairs.

This will eliminate all of the back and forth trips. Remember, work smart and be efficient.


Ditch everything you don’t use once a month.

The best way to live is simple – don’t let objects control your life.

I have two bins that I keep on each floor of the hours – fix and donate.

Everything that I don’t want to keep that doesn’t make it into those bins gets trashed (thus the big trash…or recycle – don’t kill the planet).

  • Dust: This has to be first so that you can sweep up the dust at the end.
  • Clean off make-up containers, bottles, etc.
  • Clean Toilet: I like to remove the whole seat and let it soak in bleach.
    • They make neat lids that just snap off (so no tools are required).
  • Then I use a Swiffer duster around the base of the toilet and any baseboards where hair tends to collect.
  • Windex Mirrors / Glass
  • Clean Sink
  • Mop/Sweep Floor
  • I usually only mop once a month and then just sweep up hair the rest of the weeks.

If you have used the bathroom and it’s steamy make sure to let it cool off in the room before doing this otherwise the condensation on the floor won’t allow you to get all the icky stuff.

  • Clean Tub: I won’t lie – I usually do this while I am showing after my entire cleaning routine is over. I take a sponge and cleaner into the shower with me and scrub it down before getting myself clean.

Lastly, my favorite part:

  • Refilling empty supplies (toilet paper, tampons, shaving cream, razors) from my stock and hanging up the (all white) towels.
  • Put the trashcan back with an empty bag.

I like to drop some lemongrass essential oils into the bottom of the tub, drawers and trash can to keep the room smelling nice all week.


Ditch everything you don’t use once a month

Pick up and hang up / fold clothes

  • I like to use type/color hanger in each closet as it makes them look tidy and uniform. Swap out your mismatched hangers and send me a photo of the before and after.
  • Make bed
  • Wash Sheets and Pillowcases

I like to drop lavender essential oil onto my mattress before putting on the sheets and into the corners of my dresser drawers and closet.

I put the drops at the end of the bed where my feet go so that when the bed warms up, the smell is very faint and helps me relax and fall asleep

This could be bad for the mattress, but to me, it’s worth the risk.




Ditch everything you don’t use once a month

Organize and straighten any stuff that remains in the room

I like to decorate with a purpose so everything in the room is something we use but “staged” to look like it’s meant to be part of the décor.

Wash and Fold Blankets

Remove Pet Hair



Ditch everything you don’t use once a month

Pick up any clutter

Clean off the table (that’s right, seriously, no joke – CLEAR EVERYTHING OFF THE TABLE)


Then set the table: Usually, people won’t pile clutter on the table if it looks like it’s going to be used.


Ditch everything you don’t use once a month

Start a load of dishes. Whatever does not fit in the dishwasher, wash by hand.

Clean out anything in the fridge that you know no one will eat in the next 3 days (assuming you didn’t make a ton of food in the last two days). Don’t waste good food, but don’t keep food that you will end up throwing away in 3 days.

Fill a few pitchers with drinks (Kool-Aid, Ice Tea, Crystal Light)

I like to add Lemon slices or fruit slices (they make me feel fancy).

Wipe down counters (yes, move appliances and clean under them)

Scrub out the sink.

Clean off stovetop

Clean out microwave

Clean any spills or anything sticky

Sweep and mop the floor

When the dishwasher is done, put away the dishes.

Usually, I go grocery shopping on Sunday Night and prepare healthy pre-portioned food for the week.

When I am finished cleaning the kitchen, I like to get the coffee pot all ready (filled with water and grounds) so that I don’t even have to do that on Sunday. I just wake up and hit the make button.


Clean out your purse

Organize shoes

Put coats on hangers (I try to check coat pockets as well)


Stack laundry baskets

Wipe down washer and dryer

Clean out the lint filter


Clean out car

I like to drop orange essential oil into my floor mats and the carpeted area behind the back seats. It’s a nice clean smell and gives me an energized feeling when I smell it.


I like to pick out the meals we are going to make for the week and then plan my shopping list accordingly. I have a master grocery list that I use along with clipping coupons to save money.


I am dangerously attached to my planner and master yearly calendar.

After I cleared the clutter out of my home I have all of my important documents sorted in boxes in the basement and in an emergency folder.

On Saturday Night I write up a list of my long term items that I need to complete and then fill in all of the items have to be completed each day, chores, bills to pay, events, dinner ideas and birthdays. This makes it easy for me to just fill in things I need to remember vs. having to remember everything each day.

I try to work on completing a long term goal each day for at least 30 minutes so that the tasks don’t feel so daunting. I also have a sheet of paper in my binder that I write reminders to myself on as they come up so that I can add them into my lists I keep to maintain my sanity and calendar the next Saturday.

This also makes it easy for me to avoid just saying yes to helping out or making plans throughout the week because I can take my time on Saturday afternoon to think through if I have the time to really give my whole heart to the task.

Additionally, this gives me an opportunity on Sunday to spend some quality time writing poems and addressing birthday cards which is a way to let the people you care about know how much you love them.

Additionally, if I know I have an event like a Birthday, I have time to plan a killer celebration. I can think through party themes and make my party shopping list ahead of time so that I don’t have to kill myself at the last minute.

I also try to look a week ahead and write down anyone that I will need to purchase gifts for if I have not purchased the gift earlier in the year. I have a list of everyone I should purchase gifts for throughout the year and I use my monthly promotional calendar to save money by purchasing my gifts ahead of time when they are on sale.

This time also allows me to order items online to save time and money.

and… that’s my Saturday Morning!!!

Diaper Bag Snack Ideas

Diaper Bag Snack Ideas

When you leave the house with a little one and they get hungry 15 minutes into the trip having snacks on hand is a game-changer.

Here are a few of my favorites!

  • Goldfish
  • Dehydrated Fruit
  • Cheerios
  • Granola Bars
  • Raisins
  • Pea Crisps
  • Rice Cakes
  • Apple Sauce Cups
  • Almonds
  • Marshmallows
  • Cereal
  • Trail Mix
  • Crackers
  • String Cheese
  • Beef Jerky
  • Yogurt
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate (or a few pieces of candy – yes, sometimes I bribe and/or reward my children)

FREE Grocery List Printable

FREE Grocery List Printable

Going grocery shopping always seems like such a chore. I decided that I was going to take the work out of making a list every time and make a master list.

This way I can print it out and leave it on the counter and then each week when I realize I’m out of something I can just highlight it – no need for random reminders in every room of the house!

I hope my list makes your life easier!

P.S. – I left room so you can add your items to the bottom!

Weekly Grocery List

Emergency Kit Checklist

Emergency Kit Checklist

I am not crazy prepared for the apocalypse or zombies, I just like to know that if we needed to leave the house quickly for a few days we could.

This also comes in handy when traveling with children (or my husband).

I have a bag for each person in my trunk along with one shared bag. If I use something from the kit, I make sure to re-stock once a week.

For the Outdoors:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray

For Messes:

  • Beach Towels (one per person, these could be used for a variety of things – spills, warmth if the car breaks down – you name it…)
  • Wet Wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Ziplock Bags

For Hygiene:

  • Clothing for 3 days (and a few extra pairs of undies and socks)
  • 2 Days Worth of Beauty Products / Personal Hygiene Items / Diapers & Wipes

For Safety:

  • Flash Light
  • Mini Tool Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Bungee Cords
  • Bandaids
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Emergency Family Plan (where should we meet up if we get separated)
  • Blankets
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors
  • Matches & Lighter
  • Binder with copies of all important documents
  • Copies of a few family photos (make sure you have a current one for each family member so you can use them for identification purposes if needed)

For Nutrition:

  • Pet Food for 2 days
  • Food/Snacks that Would Last Two Days (think canned food and granola bars)
  • Water Bottles
  • 2 Days Worth of Medicine / Vitamins
  • Hard Candy for Blood Sugar Emergencies (make sure it won’t melt)


What do you keep in your emergency kit?