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Caroline Lloyd

The Best Vacuum Storage Bags For Travel

best vacuum storage bags for travel

Discovering the best vacuum storage bags for clothes may seem gimmicky and fake, much like those infomercial products that advertisers have been peddling since the advent of modern TV. Although they have appeared on several infomercials, vacuum-sealed bags are nothing like the vast majority of those advertising gimmicks. They make excellent storage containers for both home use and of course, travel!

But what are vacuum storage bags, really?

Built with a small valve, these bags can easily be sealed with a hand pump or a vacuum cleaner. They are designed to release air—not seal it. As you squeeze the air out of these containers, you compress everything that’s inside them. This technology comes in handy when you’re traveling, especially when you’re trying to stuff a lot of items in a small suitcase. Whether you want to bring extra clothes, blankets, or plush toys, you can place them in vacuum-sealed containers to fit everything in your bag.

If you don’t like how vacuum storage bags wrinkle your clothes on a trip, carrying a few extra suitcases won’t do any harm. As a matter of fact, these should come in handy for your return trip. All you need to do is pop your dirty laundry inside and compress everything to make more room for souvenirs and other goodies. Even when you’re not traveling, you can use these vacuum-sealed bags to store your clothes. Likewise, they can be used to store seasonal items like winter jackets and thermal blankets.

How to Choose the Right Vacuum Sealed Bag

Size

Jumbo bags are excellent for carrying heavy winter clothes. Let’s say you’re traveling with family in winter. You can squeeze all your coats and jackets in oversized vacuum bags. Once the air has been pumped out, you will be able to fit everything in a few suitcases, and you won’t have to carry around heavy luggage. Bags for everyday clothes have to be smaller. To get the best bang for your buck, buy variety packs that offer bags in different sizes.

Quality

If you’re always on the go, buy high-quality vacuum bags so they can last longer. Look for ones made with thick and durable materials. This way, they won’t rip easily. At the same time, you can ensure that your clothes are safe from dust, moisture, and other elements that might ruin them.

Sealing methods

Find out the sealing methods they use to keep air out. An excellent sealing method will preserve the quality of your clothes while they are inside for extended periods of time.

There’s nothing new about vacuum bags for clothes. Now, you can easily find hundreds of manufacturers who produce such products. But there are a few items that do stand out from the rest. Here, you will see five of the best vacuum storage bags for travel in our opinion.

Don’t forget to read our 5 Ways to Fit More in You Carry-on Bag

Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags

The Spacesaver is one of Amazon’s best-selling vacuum storage bags for good reason. It comes with one-of-a-kind double-zip seals and a triple-seal turbo valve. This combination lets you squeeze every bit of air out of your bag using the free hand pump that’s included in your purchase. This makes it easier to seal items inside an air-tight container when you’re traveling. Spacesaver promises to give you 80% more space than any other vacuum storage bag.

Spacesaver is made out of anti-microbial materials, which keeps your items safe from mold, mildew, or bacteria. In other words, it keeps all your clothes in pristine condition no matter how long you intend to store them. The bag is designed to keep out moisture, and even critters trying to nibble on your clothes.

Only four different sizes are available, but the 40- x 30-inch jumbo pack is larger than most of the bags on the market. Best of all, Spacesaver offers a lifetime replacement guarantee. You just need to get in touch with them to have your bags replaced.

Best features:

  • Oversized storage bags, perfect for large items like pillows and blankets
  • Double-zip seals protect your belongings from moisture, mold, and bacteria
  • Has a travel-sized hand pump

Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags Price: $39.99 Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Vacwel Jumbo Vacuum Storage Bags

Measuring 43 x 30 inches, the Vacwel vacuum storage bag is one of the largest, if not the largest, on the market. It can fit winter clothes, blankets, pillows, and more. Not only can this vacuum-sealed bag store large items, but it can also reduce their storage volume by 75%, making it ideal for under-bed storage. Plus, it’s made with durable materials, which reduce tearing vulnerability. Compared to other compression bags, it is 25% thicker. That means you won’t have to worry about it ripping apart when you stash it under the bed.

Once you seal your belongings inside your Vacwel bags, they will remain airtight. After rigorous testing, the company developed a triple-valve technology to maximize air expulsion. If you’re looking to store items for long periods of time, you can trust Vacwel to keep moisture, mold, mildew, and mites out.

There are different variety packs available, each of which comes with its own combination of small and larger bags. However, the smaller sizes aren’t sold separately. Additionally, not all bundles come with a complimentary hand pump.

Best features:

  • Oversized storage bags with enormous capacity
  • Triple-valve technology keeps it airtight; protects it from mold, insects, bad odors
  • Thicker than most vacuum storage bags on the market

Vacwel vacJ6 Jumbo Vacuum Storage Bags Price: $21.95 Vacwel vacJ6 Jumbo Vacuum Storage Bags Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Space Max Premium Vacuum Storage Bags

Anyone who likes to take a lot of wardrobe options with them while traveling but hates carrying a bulky suitcase needs a Space Max vacuum bag Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . Also measuring 40 x 30 inches, it’s big enough to fit large and heavy clothing items like winter coats, jackets, and ski pants. Made with a double-zip seal and a triple-seal turbo valve, the Space Max vacuum-sealed bag is designed to keep air out and prevent it from seeping inside the bag. This provides the ideal protection against moisture, foul smells, and insects.

Even if you decide to use your vacuum bag for storing items for longer periods of time, you won’t have to worry about mites getting to your belongings. Your seasonal clothes and other items will be safe and sound inside your Space Max bag.

For about $19.99, you can purchase six jumbo vacuum storage bags. You can maximize the space in your apartment or in your suitcase by reducing the volume of your belongings by 80%. A complimentary hand pump comes with your purchase. So, wherever you want to go, you can travel light and more efficiently, with Space Max.

Best features:

  • Oversized storage bags with enormous capacity
  • Double-zip seal and triple-seal turbo valve technology
  • Has a travel-sized hand pump

SPACE MAX Premium Jumbo Vacuum Storage Space Saver Bags Price: $19.99 SPACE MAX Premium Jumbo Vacuum Storage Space Saver Bags Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Bayco Vacuum Storage Bags

Ideal for households on a budget, the Bayco jumbo pack comes with eight 40- x 30-inch vacuum storage bags, and it’s available for only $15.99. It might be cheaper than most of the options out there, but in terms of quality, it can compete with some of the biggest names in the business. With a Bayco bag, you can fit huge items such as duvets, pillows, and blankets. You can also reduce each item’s original size by 80%. Although it is compatible with any vacuum cleaner, you might find it more convenient to use the travel-sized hand pump that comes with your purchase of a Bayco pack.

All of the Bayco bags are durable and reusable. You can use them as many times as you want. However, you need to make sure everything is dry and clean before placing your belongings inside. Once everything is ready, you can store your winter clothes in jumbo packs and shirts in smaller bags. The Bayco bag keeps moisture and bacteria out. It also prevents foul smells from seeping inside.

Best features:

  • Affordable jumbo-sized vacuum storage bags
  • Made with durable material
  • Has a travel-sized hand pump

Bayco Vacuum Storage Bags Price: $15.99 Bayco Vacuum Storage Bags Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Simple Houseware Vacuum Storage Bags

Another budget-friendly vacuum-sealed bag comes from Simple Houseware. This 39.5- x 26.5-inch bag is more affordable than most storage bags. With Simple Houseware, you can have more for less. Like most of the bags on this list, it claims to reduce storage volume by 80%. It’s airtight and waterproof. However, it doesn’t have a complimentary hand pump. On the other hand, Simple Houseware does offer free utility clips for each storage bag.

Simple Houseware’s vacuum bags also have noticeably thinner plastic, which could lead to some leakage in the long run. Instead of using these for long-term storage, you can use them whenever you’re traveling instead. You only have to keep your clothes for short periods of time, so you won’t have to worry about ruining your clothes in case air starts to seep inside. Since it doesn’t have a complimentary pump, you will either have to buy your own or borrow a vacuum cleaner at your hotel to be able to use this on your travels.

Best features:

  • Affordable price
  • Has a variety of sizes
  • Has utility clips for storage

Simple Houseware V 15 Vacuum Storage Space Saver Price: $19.87 Simple Houseware V 15 Vacuum Storage Space Saver Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Sunsets Over País Vasco, Spain

Listen in as we chat with Kayla Tulane about how something so simple as a sunset in northern Spain can be the perfect time to reflect on some of life’s most important lessons.

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Credits

Guest: Kayla Tulane – Thanks Kayla for sharing your stories!

Hosted & Narrated by:

Editing: Laura Samulionyte

Show Transcript

coming soon

Why Following Your Dream Is The Easiest Way To Ruin Your Life

Why Following Your Dream Is The Easiest Way To Ruin Your Life

Doing something you love for too long can leave you in a pickle.

Doing something you “love” for too long can leave you in even more of a pickle.

I won’t go too deep into my life story, but I just need to first say that sometimes we are so driven to find our dream job that we convince ourselves we have. Guided by our families, mentors, friends, and social media followers’ watchful eyes, we do a whole lot to ensure that we are not perceived as failures. We had clear intentions. We had clear dreams. And we were successful.

The truth of the matter is dreams change.

Dreams, in a daily/nightly sense, are made up of references from experienced life. They mold, change, and evolve based on your day. The larger life dream, I think, evolves in the same way. There will always be bits and pieces of your life intertwined, but dreams absolutely can (and should) alter course. If they don’t, how do you mark your growth as a human?

With all of this being said, I changed course. It was risky, scary, exciting, and ultimately overwhelming, but I hate to say that a large part of those emotions were driven by my perception of outward judgment: How people would make up their minds about a decision that I spent the better part of a full year making. A decision that began with questioning how the outward world (and, therefore, I) categorized myself. Did I choose these labels? Did I accidentally fall into this job? Did someone just say that I was good at something and then I ran with it? If I don’t try something new, am I missing out on a larger potential?

So here’s how it went down:

College, graduation, move to New York, landed steady job (excited), grew in said job (okay), grew stagnant in job (not so excited), decided a change was needed, set date to leave job.

Past this, I didn’t have much of a plan. I decided to take two months to travel, something that I hadn’t done much of despite my keen interest in people and culture. The plan was (against my better judgment) to return with a fresh slate and start new when I returned. I started out with zero expectations other than craving something that would wake me up from the labeled coma I had somehow found myself in.

I wish I could tell you that I had some sort of sparkling, fireworks revelation while traveling; A moment of realization about how I wanted to repurpose my life. Despite every Elite Daily article you read, that doesn’t always happen when you “Travel the world to find yourself.” My revelation was much more subtle and felt as if it were plainly obvious the whole time.

The revelation (that traveling helped me find):

Your passion, dream, identity, and job are not all the same thing and do not need to be neatly categorized into one box. My concept of the word passion had always been associated with dance; A love that had already grown and changed course for 15 years, but neatly fit into one artistic box of my life. Dance and movement grew to be an integral part of my personality, life and being. And it always will be, but as my 20-year-old self once wrote in a college theory paper, “Change is the only constant.” Little did I know, those words would ring loud and clear with a whole new, proven meaning five years later.

Just as my love for ballet morphed into a love for modern dance, I have morphed that passion into an emotion. The thrill of finishing a ballet class sweaty, heart pumping, and standing a little taller. The feeling of improvising for a full hour only to narrow in on a single moment’s feeling of your whole body breezing through the air. The mind-tugging moment of reading a book only to look up and visually comprehend that the world is a very real place that holds beautiful people, stories, and history. The fresh taste of completely foreign cuisine prepared by a chef who has cooked with these spices for their entire life. Connecting with a simple violin solo that seems to capture a feeling so perfectly.

I am enthralled by moments that remind me of my humanity and connect me with others doing the same. It may seem incredibly vague, but this is what I crave, this is what I love, and why my dream(s) have altered yet somehow remained in the same vein. I truly believe that these moments are why people travel in the first place, to reconnect and to explore senses that awaken them to the world surrounding them.

I’m 25, but I fear that many people much older than I have never taken a moment to curiously explore, capture, and meditate on what it is that drives them to do and love what they do and love.

The post-revelation life adjustments:

Your passion, dream(s), identity, and job should support the others (And they may be in a few fluid piles rather than boxes). Find a way to make it work. For me, this meant finding a flexible job that will allow me to take the time my personality craves to be curious: to travel, to experience, to learn. I’ve found new passions, taken steps to dare myself, have started a business, and want to share my experience of being curious in different corners of the world through my business Life Nomading.

As an outsider looking in it may seem like a backwards career move, but to me, any move in a career that you aren’t whole-hearted about is backwards.

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New York for Single Travellers

New York for Single Travellers

Whether you’re here on business or just visiting to cross some city sights off your bucket list, New York is for single travellers: A place where you’re never alone, but can make decisions for yourself (and no one cares). New York bliss. NYC has something to offer everyone, but here are a few things to welcome you to the world of  New York for single travellers.

Transit

Don’t be scared. Take public transportation.

Not only will it save you money (and potentially a new pair of shoes), but it will give you a deeper appreciation of the people and the construction of this city. Get it? Deeper? As in tunnels?

I could go on and on about Subway tips for tourists, but I’m going to leave that to this in depth article. Read it. Memorize it. Stand clear of the closing doors, please.

Where to Stay

Lodging can be daunting as it’s sometimes the most expensive piece of the travel puzzle, depending on the length of your trip. As a single traveller, you most likely won’t be wanting to drop $100+ a night for a hotel room. Other options?

Hostels

As we all know, hostels are a fun way to meet other travellers when you’re alone. If you’re looking for hostels directly in Manhattan, the prices are sometimes in line with hotels. Be sure to widen your zoom when looking at a map! There are some really awesome hostels in Queens and Brooklyn that offer way nicer amenities and are generally $25/night. Compare to the subway map, as long as it’s off a subway stop, you’ll be in the chaos of the city soon enough!

AirBnb

Game changer. Sometimes I think about how people traveled pre-AirBnb; It revolutionized how people experience the city!

Having a local at your fingertips for recommendations, a home-base to make coffee in the morning, and the ability of walking down your front steps to a neighborhood rather than Times Square – that’s what makes a New York City experience real. You can average about $30/night in a New York Airbnb, but don’t forget about the extra cleaning fee when you book. Same with hostels, zoom out to take a scan at rooms in all 5 boroughs. Staying in these areas will get you some better prices!

What to do

For a full list of things to do in New York, I could talk for days. The greatest part about the city is that just by going outside for a walk, you’re in for an adventure. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to wander. These are the things that I suggest doing on your own:

Walking ToursGrand Central Terminal Walking Tour

A built in friend group of travelers just like you!

If you want to get away from the family’s with fanny packs, take a tour of a less popular area Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. (it’ll widen your horizons anyway). At the very least, you have the attention of a local for at least an hour or two. Ask for recommendations; I’ve sometimes planned an entire trip that way!

 

Museums

Great for a rainy or cold day, but also one of the top attractions in New York. You could spend a whole week touring NYC museums, so pick which one will appeal to you the most. You can wander around by yourself for hours, which I tend to do even if I come with a group!

Pro Tip: The Natural History Museum is actually “pay what you wish” when you buy your ticket in person! Don’t feel bad about skipping out on that hefty $23 recommended admission. There’s a family of five right behind you that will fall into it’s traps.

Jazz at Lincoln Center

If you’re a sucker for jazz, like me, but have no idea where to go, why not go to the center of it all? Located at Columbus Circle, you can find formal concerts here, but the best thing to do alone is Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club. Grab a glass of wine, sit in the back and take in the amazing talent. It’s a low lit, single traveller’s dream that will leave you feeling classy and fulfilled!

Top of the Rock

Because if you have to do one touristy activity, this should be it Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . For sweeping views of the New York Skyline and maybe a moment of silence overlooking the chaos, Top of the Rock provides you just that.

Ask a stranger to take your photo (they’ll probably ask for one back), and then just take it all in. It’s way better than the Empire State Building, just trust me on that.

AirBnb Experiences

If you’re staying in an AirBnb, you’ll probably get a marketing email or two leading up to your trip, but AirBnb Experiences are open to anyone! They’re an awesome way to get a unique experience that’s off the beaten path, and with a host that is passionate about a niche topic. Take a tour, make a souvenir, or try some food that you wouldn’t normally have encountered!

CitiBike through the Park

For someone new to New York, I wouldn’t recommend relying on CitiBike to get you from destination A to B (those cab drivers can be pretty scary on the road).

However, a nice ride through the park gives you a fun activity and a great way to see as much as possible. Central Park is a great one to bike through, but for a park a little less obvious, try out Riverside. There’s also a bike path closer to the Hudson which runs from 145th street all the way to the Battery. Get on it and go! …Just be sure to dock your bike every 30 minutes so you don’t get charged.

A day pass is $12 for unlimited 30-minute rides, or a single 30-minute ride is $3.

See a Show

Can’t come to New York and not see one, right? There are a lot of options for discount tickets on the fly. The easiest one being on your phone: Download TodayTix. Right now. Just do it and see what it is. Another option includes going to the theater’s box office as soon as it opens (do a little research and make sure they do same day rush tickets before going). If all else fails, line up at the TKTS Booth. They sell same day tickets that are 20-30% off: Worth a shot, right?

 

Where to eat

When friends and family visit, they probably think all I do during the day is eat… I’m just very passionate about food offerings in New York City. These are the places that I can recommend on a medium budget (no, not Michelin restaurants), but will get you out of the Times Square Applebee’s.

Tortaria (Union Square)

Tortaria restaurant new york city union squareI love a good taco/marg joint, but this is the perfect blend of quick tacos and a full-on restaurant. Perfectly placed between Union Square and West Village, stop in even if just for the chips and queso (And obviously some tequila, if you’re into that).

Top Secret Tip: They have this smoked barbecue sauce that sits on the tables. PUT IT ON EVERYTHING. Mix it into the queso, pour it down your throat, whatever it takes. If I could buy it by the gallon, I would.

Jacobs Pickle’s (Upper West Side)

#1 favorite place in the city. Don’t even think about going for Sunday Brunch since they don’t take reservations, but if you go on weekdays for any meal you’ll be able to walk in and snag a table (or bar spot). The cocktails are amazing, but the food is the winner. Southern with a twist, comforting, and large portions. Hello, leftovers! I’ve never left without complete satisfaction from the grub or the service.

Clearly, Ian loves Prince Street Pizza

Prince Street Pizza (NoLita)

The BEST pizza. It’s not what you imagine as typical NY style pizza, but it’s the style of pizza that I want while in New York (that counts, right?). You can usually see the line stretching down the sidewalk, but well worth the wait. Grab a square, take in those tiny peps, perfectly crafted sauce, and fluffy dough. I can smell it a mile away. The perfect end to an unsuccessful “shopping” day in SoHo.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (Flatiron District)

You may have seen their name at some point in life. This place is a cheese-lover’s dream. Fun cafe on the ground level, but the magic is downstairs in the cellar. Amazing, affordable happy hour with a good selection of wines to pair with your mini cheese board, but you CANNOT leave without trying the Mac and Cheese. Mom’s mac is good and all, but woah. I have dreams of this pixie dust infused mac.

Playa Bettys (Upper West Side)

I was originally drawn into this place during my search for queso that could compare to my tex-mex loving roots. They did not disappoint. Neither did their drinks or burritos, which have french fries in them… casual. Playa Betty’s also broadened my food-loving horizons to include tachos (tater tot nachos, brilliant) and ice cream churro sandwiches (I mean, come on). If it’s nice outside, they open their windows and create a patio. Perfect for Upper West Side dog, people, and dog people watching.

Ippudo (Multiple Locations)

Amazing ramen. If you’ve had NY pizza, bagels, doughnuts, and cronuts, you may be looking for something a bit less alarming to your digestive system, and you can’t miss out on a classic Japanese soul food. Ippudo has several locations in New York, making it easy to take a break from tourist food.

Black Seed Bagels (East Village)

We all know NY bagels are good, but while there are several places that claim to have the best, I generally think they all taste the same. Black Seed definitely does not. I promise you will have a life-changing bagel experience here (All I’m saying is that one more than one occasion I have eaten multiple in one day). It’s the water in New York that makes our bagels special, but they add a touch of honey to that magic water to make it even more magical. Bliss.

Rosemary’s (West Village)

When you’re ready to sit down for a nicer meal, indulge in a bottle of wine, and have an experience of culinary arts, this is the place. It’s large, and always lively so you can enjoy your meal even if you’re dining alone. It’s reasonably priced for the quality of the food and well worth it if you’re treating yourself. Located in prime West Village, they feature produce from their rooftop farm in a magical setting that takes you from Greenwich to Tuscany upon entering through the doorway.Cuba Restaurant - Greenwich Village New York City

Cuba (Greenwich Village)

Mojitos and Empanadas. Considering getting this mantra tattooed on my forehead. Cuba gives you the real deal. It’s a small dining space with a lot of flavors. Brunch can get crazy, but go for a quiet weekday meal.

Desserts:

If you’re super into the sweets and find yourself on the Upper West Side, I dare you to make it through the Top 5 Desserts on the Upper West Side. It’s a challenge, so if you only choose one, I won’t judge.

Cafe Lalo (Upper West Side)

A cafe to sit and read a book… at least according to “ You’ve Got Mail. Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. ” I’ll take my latte with a side of Tom Hanks, please. Treat yourself to a little cheesecake and take in the quaintness of the Upper West Side.

Levain Bakery (Upper West Side)

Six. Ounces. Of warm, gooey, cookie that is. Levain’s perfectly baked cookies are a dessert that will be in your memory forever. Chocolate Chip Walnut is classic, but you cannot go wrong with any of the cookie flavors. Located at W 74th and Amsterdam, it would be easy for you to overlook the tiny basement bakery if it weren’t for the line stretching down the block. Well worth the wait though, and if you deem that it’s not, there’s a second storefront right around the corner. You’re welcome.

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Dough (Union Square)

Follow their instagram if you want serious FOMO before your trip. These decadent rings of bliss come with lots of napkins and a craving for more. Go in the morning for a fresh batch, or in the evening when you can normally get two for one (Although I highly suggest heating it up before eating for maximum satisfaction).

Milk Bar (Multiple Locations)

Cliche, I know, but you have to try it if you haven’t. It’s famous for its cereal ice cream, and for good reason. The first time I tried it, I audibly said OMG after every bite. I promise you’ll be able to find one within a reasonable distance, so take the time to go and enjoy. Your life will be changed, and ice cream will never be the same.

 

 

So if you’re coming the New York City by yourself, just remember that this city is made of 8.6 million people that are alone. Don’t be afraid to sit in a restaurant or go to the park and read a book. Always be aware and diligent, but soak in the bliss that is independently wandering through New York.

Loctote Review

I’m a walking tour guide, and quite honestly I hate taking my big backpack with me on every tour in New York City. In this Loctote review, I cover my thoughts on the simple yet powerful drawstring (or drawcord) rather bag that I take with me during my days adventuring around New York City.

At first glance, this can look like just another drawstring bag but upon closer inspection, you can quickly begin to see why this thing is advertised as such a resilient bag Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . When I first got my Loctote in the mail on initial opening I was so stunned by the sheer quality of the bag itself. I knew it was meant to withstand slashing, but I wasn’t expecting such a thick and quality material.

It’s hard to describe!

LOCTOTE Flak Sack II - Lightweight Theft-Resistant Drawstring Backpack Price: $129.00 LOCTOTE Flak Sack II - Lightweight Theft-Resistant Drawstring Backpack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Thoughts upon opening the box:

“Woah, this isn’t your average light-as-air drawstring bag.”

That’s because it’s slash proof. The Loctote is made of a perfectly blended fabric that doesn’t rip when a knife slashes it. Get this, it’s actually being used for law enforcement clothing now! The straps also have a small cable in them that make it difficult to cut through. This is not your average, light as air, drawstring bag. This is something that you will buy and keep forever (unlike those drawstring bags that wouldn’t even make it through a week at summer camp).

“Woah, the inside is fancy.”

It’s lined, and there are pockets! There is nothing I love more than a pocket in a backpack. Quick access to your valuables and bonus, it’s RFID blocking, so not even electronic pickpockets will make it into your bag. Ask Ian, he’s fallen victim to this before. :/

“How does this work?”

I jumped right in pulling on this, tugging on that, spinning the combination lock, and quickly realized that maybe I should glance over that very detailed instruction sheet laying in the box. When I say detailed, I really mean detailed, and you may need that detail level to operate the custom Loctote lock. It allows you to program your own combination to something you’ll actually remember (thank goodness)!

In Use:

The coolest part about the Loctote is how you can lock it and leave it. Once the bag is tightened, a cable pulls out in the front that has a small silver loop attached. If the cable is pulled out far enough, there will be two silver brackets exposed. The custom lock wraps through the silver loop and the two silver brackets on the cable. Lock it around a park bench, a chain link fence, anything that’s stationary, and go live your life without a worry in the world. It’s that simple.

I, personally, use my bag every day in the city. It fits all of my things, is easy to throw over my shoulder, and gives me peace of mind that in whatever situation my bag will be safe. You may think that some of the features are drastic, but they come in handy when you lock up your bag to throw a frisbee with your friends in Central Park.

A lot of times, I pile all of my things into my boyfriends’ backpack because I don’t want to lug mine around. I don’t have any excuses anymore with this bag. It’s a great size that’s in between a purse and a normal backpack: Perfect for a wallet, camera, and water bottle (which is generally everything I need in life).

All in all, if you’re looking for that perfect hybrid between a backpack and an “adventure around the city” type bag this will be your best bet.

LOCTOTE Flak Sack II - Lightweight Theft-Resistant Drawstring Backpack Price: $129.00 LOCTOTE Flak Sack II - Lightweight Theft-Resistant Drawstring Backpack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

New York Subway Tips for Tourists

The New York underground can be pretty daunting, but here are our New York Subway tips for tourists. Deep breath, it’s going to be okay.

 

Take a look at your Google Maps to figure out the best route to your destination (and don’t be afraid to ask a friendly-looking New Yorker for help, we’re nicer than we look). It may be daunting, but worth the experience and the time saved! Subways can normally get you places in New York faster than cars.

*Google Maps Tip* You can download the New York City area locally to your phone so that your maps can work even if you lose reception while underground on the subway.

Subways
New York Subway

Cost

One ride on the train is a standard $2.75 no matter how far you go, and the card itself costs a dollar. This MetroCard will work on both subways and buses; No need for a separate New York Bus Pass!

Time Vs Value Card: 

  • Time can either be a 7 day or 30 day unlimited pass.
    • Unlimited Subway passes are activated on your first swipe, so if you’re here for two weeks and buy two 7 day passes only use one at a time (or wait to buy your second after your first card has expired). The days continue to be used whether or not you use the card (so you can’t save days and use it on your next visit).
  • Value is a dollar amount preloaded on the card ($2.75/ride). If you’re here for multiple days and really plan on exploring multiple areas of the city (And you should – there’s more to New York than just Times Square), I would recommend buying the 7 day unlimited pass. It’s $32, which means if you use it 12 times you’re saving money.
    • You can activate your subway card simply by swiping in the turnstiles on your first ride.

New York SubwayBuying your Card

How to order a Subway card online?

You don’t. Online purchases of metrocards are really for people who buy them monthly. But don’t worry, it’s incredibly easy to buy them once you arrive! Just go to any station and use one of the touch screen kiosks.

If you need to buy a metrocard at the airport: 

Head straight to the train or bus station you’re hopping on. You can purchase them at the station!

Does the subway take debit cards?

Yes! Most station kiosks take both credit card and cash, but the smaller kiosks only take card.

New York SubwayNavigating

Uptown/Downtown: 

One of the most important things to understand about our subway system is the concept of uptown/downtown. Before you head out for your excursions, take a look at a map. Is your destination further North than your current location? Take your subway line uptown. Destination further South? You guessed it, head downtown.

Take a look at the signs overhead on the platform. Generally, at express stops one side of the track will be express and the other local (same platform). At local stops, there will be one entrance for uptown, and one entrance for downtown.

*Some local stops won’t let you transfer sides without exiting the station and re-swiping. If you have a value card with money on it, you’ll be charged again. If you have an unlimited card, it won’t let you swipe again for 18 minutes.

New York SubwayExpress Vs Local:

  • Local: Stops at every station on a line. These stations are on maps as a black dot.
  • Express: Skips some stops to get you there faster! These stations are on maps as a white dot.

*Sometimes the conductor will announce that certain trains are running local/express. Pay attention if your destination is at a local stop. You may end up zooming right past it!

*Pay attention to the letter or number on the train! Colors will only help you so much! Lines of the same color sometimes split in opposite directions and can make you end up somewhere different than expected!

Transferring: 

If you need to transfer trains, and you’ve confirmed from the map that they both stop at the same station, you don’t need to exit and re-enter. Most staircases have clear arrows for you to make it to your next train.

 

Buses

People can live in New York for years and not take the bus once. When I first started using it, I was mad that I had missed out on the convenience for so long! Generally, buses save your tired little NYC legs from walking those extra 10 blocks. Or, if you don’t want to transfer trains and prefer to just sit for an extra couple of minutes, the bus is for you!

How to Swipe

There are two type of buses in New York:

  • Normal Bus: Hop on the bus when it pulls up. There’s a machine by the driver to insert your metrocard (it’s an aggressive pull – beware). It’ll spit back out, then have a seat!
  • Select Bus Services: Technically a premium ticket. Rather than swiping your card as you board the bus, these buses always have machines on the street to insert your metrocard before you board. It will spit out a receipt. HOLD ONTO THIS! You won’t need to do anything or show anyone your receipt, but NYPD does random checks on select bus services to make sure you’ve paid your fare. I’ve seen it happen, it’s not worth the $100 ticket from the police.

*The M60 is a select bus service from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan. WAY cheaper than an uber or taxi, so if you aren’t in a rush after landing or on your way back to the airport. Hop on the M60!

Navigating: Here’s where a good sense of direction comes in handy. Similar to navigating uptown/downtown, make sure you’re looking at a map for where your destination is. Google Maps will tell you which bus to take, but it’s up to you to make sure you board on the correct side of the street. If you board on the wrong side, you’ll be heading clear in the opposite direction.

*Find some mile markers to give you a general sense of direction: The grid system is super helpful (higher numbers mean North, etc), or a few recognizable buildings (Empire State, Chrysler, One World Trade).

Stop at your Stop: The bus doesn’t always stop. If the driver doesn’t see anyone waiting at the bus stop, they will keep on plugging away. To make sure the bus lets you off, press the “Stop Requested” button on the poles once you’re one stop away. This lets the driver know, “Hey, I’m getting off at the next stop!”

 

Etiquette

Etiquette is a very real thing on NYC Public Transit. Here are a few tips that will keep you from making New Yorkers grumpy on the train (trust me, if we’re happy you will be too):

Boarding: Like your mom taught you the first time you got on an elevator, step aside and let people off first. There will be more room for you once they’re on their merry way. There is nothing worse than trying to get off the train and having a wall of people standing in front of you getting mad because they can’t get on themselves.  

Whilst on Board: Things not to do…

  • Try to Subway surf and not hold on. You’ll look like an idiot and everyone will hate you.
  • Talk obnoxiously loud. You’ll sound like an idiot and everyone will hate you (or you could end up on @overheardnewyork).
  • Try to make friends with strangers. We know we’re standing inches apart, but eye contact just isn’t a thing. Talking DEFINITELY isn’t a thing (unless you really need help with directions). This is not the elevator in your Toledo apartment building. New Yorkers value our hard to find silence.
  • Manspread. Time to get cozy with your neighbors. Bucket seats monitor this a bit, but on bar seats slide over to make room for other passengers. No one hates a manspreader more than New Yorkers.
  • Eat. Seriously? No one’s immune system is strong enough for this. No one wants to smell your halal food on the train either.

Things You May See New York Subway

For nightmare worthy Subway sights, follow @subwaycreatures on insta. On a normal day, there may be a few alarming things, but nothing worth causing a scene over. If you truly feel uncomfortable, quietly remove yourself from the situation or notify nearby security.

Panhandlers: It’s no secret that you’ll bump into a few homeless in the tunnels, on your train car, or on the platform. They will hop on your car, tell a sad story, and ask for money. You’re the judge of what you do in those scenarios, but coming from a New Yorker, know that they are always there (sometimes with the same story, and sometimes different). I’m not a totally insensitive jerk though, I’ve given money to those I believe are being honest. As a fun fact, an average New York panhandler makes about 60k a year.

Showtime: Breakdancers, magicians, musicians, even comedians hop on the train and give a little performance. If you don’t plan on handing them money, don’t stare or record (I know, it’s hard not to sometimes). If you watch or video, they’ll be expecting you to pay for the performance.

Would you like to explore New York City with a local while you’re here? If you’re looking to cross off all the popular stops like Times Square, Grand Central, Radio City, and a view from the Top of Rockefeller than our Rise Above Midtown tour is calling your name.

Rise Above Midtown Walking Tour Price: $69.00 per person Rise Above Midtown Walking Tour Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/11/2018

Have questions about the New York City Subway? Leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them for you!

Tickets to Top of the Rock New York

Why should you get tickets to Top of the Rock in New York? There are several observation decks in New York, but here are my reasons why that beautiful skyline is best seen from Top of the Rock.

The Area

You’re in the heart of midtown New York! If you have time to kill before or after, take a stroll past Radio City Music Hall, the ice skating rink, Magnolia Bakery, or Saks to see their infamous holiday windows. There certainly isn’t a lack of things to do around this area where the charm is always present. If you’re really intrigued with what midtown has to offer beyond Top of the Rock (and the history behind it all), consider a New York Midtown Walking Tour that includes your Top of the Rock ticket; It will help you learn about that concrete jungle you’ll be viewing from above.

The View

From 70 stories above the city and only a glass panel between you and the horizon, you’re sure to get crystal clear pictures without those metal grates that the Empire State Building offers you. Speaking of, you’ll probably want to get the most iconic building in NYC in your photo (which means being on it may not be the best strategy). Skip the Empire State Building and take a gander at it from an angle you can appreciate.

Timed Entry

This one is a biggie. Pretty much the equivalent to a Fast Pass at Disney World. Your ticket to Top of the Rock has a time for entry, come back from exploring New York at that time and take the next elevator up. It’s that easy. No lines, which is somewhat unheard of for general ticketed attractions in New York. You’re also able to stay on the deck for as long as you like although the typical stay is around 45 minutes. This is built into our Midtown Walking Tour, with entry time lining up right when the tour ends. Let us take care of the timing!

Ticket Info

The going rate for a non sunset Top of the Rock ticket is $39.20 ($36 + tax). For sunset hours marked on their ticketing page, the total is $50.08 ($46 + tax). There is also an option to upgrade to “sun & stars” which allows you to visit once during the day and return after sunset. With this option, the ticket is roughly $59.


Pro tip:

Sunset hours are clearly and more expensive, but worth it! Our midtown tours that end during sunset hours include a normal ticket price to Top of the Rock, so travel with one of our evening groups for a deal on your sunset ticket and a tour of the area!

New York is full of options for similar experiences, but for a view of the skyline you’ll want to get the absolute best. Be sure to pack your camera and your walking shoes if you’ll be joining us on a tour. Top of the Rock and Midtown are not to be missed when you visit New York!

Winter New York Packing List

You’ve done it. You’ve booked your ticket to a winter wonderland, where the city never sleeps and pizza is always acceptable to eat. But how to create a New York Packing List for Winter? Your picturesque NYC Rom Com is just one packing item away from being totally disastrous (and cold).

Whether you’re not used to the frigid temperature or you have general packing anxiety, here’s a packing list that will keep your Frozen experience in a Broadway theater and not on the New York City streets.

New York Packing List Item 1: Comfy Walking Shoes

On average New Yorkers walk about 6 miles a day, and that’s without going on one of our NYC walking tour to make sure they don’t miss any of the essential city sights.

If you refuse to dress like a mom at Disney World (no shame in it!), leave your sneakers at home and start your winter New York packing list with some cute boots that will look good in all the photos. The secret is to make sure they give you arch support and a non-painful heel strike when you’re pounding the pavement.

My go-to boots are my Clarks Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  – They’re cute with a dress/tights or jeans and I can wander for hours in them!

If you don’t want to buy new boots, consider an insole Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  that reduces your risk for shin splints. One hour on the concrete in your flat riding boots, and you’ll be quite a bit slower for your second day here!

CLARKS Women's Nevella Bell Boot, Dark Taupe Suede, 9.5 M US Price: CLARKS Women's Nevella Bell Boot, Dark Taupe Suede, 9.5 M US Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

New York Packing List Item 2: Waterproof Shoes

Check the weather right before you head to the Big Apple. Even if there is a small chance of rain, DO NOT forget waterproof shoes! In New York, there is no escaping the rain (or snow) if you’re caught in transit. Trust me, there is nothing worse than knowing you have a day full of walking in front of you + wet shoes. A space hog, but an essential packing list item!

To save room in your suitcase, and a bit of effort when walking around, you’ll want to have ankle rain boots as opposed to full ones. Asgard boots Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  are amazing, and you’ll fit right in with other New Yorkers wearing them! Don’t forget your umbrella Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  either!

Outdew Compact Travel Umbrella Windproof - Unbreakable Double Canopy Construction With Teflon Coating Auto Open Close Button umbrellas Price: $16.99 Outdew Compact Travel Umbrella Windproof - Unbreakable Double Canopy Construction With Teflon Coating Auto Open Close Button umbrellas Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

New York Packing List Item 3: Oversized Scarf + Hat

I know that not everyone is a scarf and hat person.

But in New York, you will be out of necessity. These two items are crucial for keeping you nice and toasty to stay outside and get your NYC bucket list accomplished. Here’s my strategy:

Hat

Choose a hat that’s a neutral color and can go with multiple outfits in your go-to Winter packing list. This way you can wear the hat all day with any of your outfits (because, beanie hair is real). The right beanie will keep you warm even if you’re wearing a tee shirt in the snow. Ear coverage is a game changer. My favorite is Eddie Bauer.

Eddie Bauer Womens Fairview Beanie, Lt Khaki Regular ONESZE Price: $19.99 Eddie Bauer Womens Fairview Beanie, Lt Khaki Regular ONESZE Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Scarf

Two words – Blanket. Scarf. Go crazy with the colors here. To spruce up your Winter New York packing list, I prefer a nice plaid with some fall tones mixed in. The bigger the better, you’ll be thanking me long after your trip to New York.

If you have a rough Saturday night, just throw on this puppy with a plain long sleeve (or literally anything), some big sunglasses, and a top knot – Boom. You look like a movie star with no hangover whatsoever.

Life Hack – they’re warm too. Who said you have to be cold to look cute in those outdoor Central Park pictures? 

Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel) Price: $14.89 Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

New York Packing List Item 4: A Mary Poppins Bag (with pocket on outside)

No, not a literal carpet bag (well maybe). You need a bag that you can tote whatever you need without being uncomfortable.

  • When the sun comes out and that blanket scarf may be a bit much, stuff it in the bag.
  • Carrying a water bottle Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. ? Stuff it in the bag.
  • Cliff bars so you don’t get hangry and start acting like Betty White pre-Snickers? (Also essential to your Winter New York Packing List) Stuff it in the bag.
  • Band-Aids Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. needed from ignoring my hint about comfy shoes? Stuff it in the bag.

 

Tip: Maybe bring a bag that has an easily accessible zipper pocket on the outside. You don’t have to go digging just to grab and swipe your subway metro card.

My suggestion is either a cross body bag or small backpack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  so you can swing those arms and keep pace with New Yorkers’ walking speed.

New vintage Women Real Genuine Leather Backpack Purse SchoolBag by Coolcy (Brown) Price: $69.98 New vintage Women Real Genuine Leather Backpack Purse SchoolBag by Coolcy (Brown) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 10/22/2018

New York Packing List Item 5: A Winter coat that you won’t hate outdoor pictures in

It’s going to be cold, but you don’t want to look like this:

You can’t go wrong with a classic peacoat Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  to pair with your hat and scarf. You’ll feel like a quintessential New Yorker in Winter. Get something that will dress up your park play-clothes, and only enhance your nicer dress for those Broadway shows.

Note: Be sure it’s actually warm, and you can fit a comfy sweater underneath. Things your mom always told you, but are actually useful!

BGSD Women's 'Elizabeth' Wool Blend Walking Coat Price: 109.99 BGSD Women's 'Elizabeth' Wool Blend Walking Coat Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 10/22/2018

Those are the bare essentials in our Winter New York Packing List. Now I won’t tell you what clothes to wear under all of these recommended items; That’s entirely up to you and the activities you’ve planned. My overall New York aesthetic tends to be functionally cute. You can never go wrong with leggings and an oversized sweater! Be sure to go on as many walking tours as you can, take a ton of pictures, and live in the moment. Check out some of our other guides (Read: How to navigate the NYC Subway) to see what to do when you get here!

Experience the Upper West Side - Life Nomading Walking Tour Price: $29 / per person Experience the Upper West Side - Life Nomading Walking Tour Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 01/17/2019

The Best 5 Desserts on the Upper West Side, New York

best desserts on upper west side

Whether you’ve accidentally wandered too far north in Central Park, or live in the city and are just looking for new places to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Upper West Side (UWS) is a land of cute bakeries, shops, and adventures.

There are plenty of incredible options to get your sugar fix on the UWS, but we visited our top five favorite dessert locations even though we’ve been multiple times (just to be sure, you know?). Here were our thoughts on places you must visit:

Magnolia Bakery

magnolia bakery frosting cupcakes

Located at 69th and Columbus, this is only one of Magnolia’s locations (their original location is in West Village).

But don’t worry, it still holds it’s yummy quality and quaintness! Per their standard, you can always see their buttercream being made behind the counter and you are greeted by lovely, friendly bakers!

magnolia bakery banana bread pudding

Although their cupcakes have been featured on Sex and the City and other TV Shows/movies, their most popular dessert is the banana pudding. Amidst a whole bakery full of the most beautiful cakes, cookies, and cheesecakes, we had to take the recommendation of the public and went with the classic banana pudding.

Let’s just say there is a reason it’s the most popular.

If you’re looking for a dessert that still feels somewhat light, but has a complete richness equal to your grandmother’s pudding (and grandma was a top-notch baker), this is your dessert. And it’s banana based, how bad can it be for you?

 

Levain Bakery

Levain. Le sigh. I have dreams about these cookies at night.

best desserts on upper west sideWeighing in at 6 ounces each, Levain’s perfectly gooey cookies are a dessert that will be in your memory forever. To give a little context, the two owners of Levain Bakery perfected their recipe while training for a triathlon, so be sure to exercise a whole lot after eating one (OR just don’t google how many calories are in one). Chocolate Chip Walnut is classic, but you cannot go wrong with any of the cookie flavors.

Spoiler alert: We make a stop here on our Upper West Side Walking Tours Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Buy a few, send some to your friends (they ship), shout it from the rooftops – they’re amazing!

Located at W 74th and Amsterdam, it would be easy for you to overlook the tiny basement bakery if it weren’t for the line stretching down the block. Well worth the wait though, and if you deem that it’s not, there’s a second storefront right around the corner. You’re welcome.

 

Cafe Lalo

If you visit with a crimson rose and copy of Pride & Prejudice, you may just find love with other fans of You’ve Got Mail Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. .

Aside from being famous for the scene where Kathleen Kelly tells Joe Fox he’s similar to the generation of cocktail waitresses with only first names, their desserts are as high quality as this movie.

Located at W 83rd and Amsterdam, their twinkle lights, large french windows, and adorable cafe atmosphere will entice you to sit and stay a while. Grab a slice of their cheesecake (or anything from their full cabinet of goodies), and you won’t be disappointed. They do a full brunch, have a full bar with boozy milkshakes, and even live jazz on certain evenings.

Sit. Snack. Sip. This is what every cafe experience should be.

 

Milk Bar (UWS)

This place is every little kid’s sugar heaven. If you visit, make sure you watch the Chef’s table episode on Christina Tosi (and have some crack pie nearby in case of a dessert craving emergency).

We popped into the W 87th and Columbus location of Milk Bar for the necessary cereal milk ice cream (add the crunchy toppings, worth it). Seriously, I could eat endless amounts of this stuff. The flavor keeps every bite interesting and you don’t feel sick after eating too much – dangerous.

This location is close to Central Park West, so if you’re visiting the park and want some quality ice cream on a hot day, do yourself a favor, and walk a little further than the normal ice cream stands.

(Also try everything on the menu, because it’s a dream)

 

Silver Moon Bakery

This is not your run of the mill bakery. They are a small space with a lot of passion poured into their goodies. Their chocolate ganache cake will melt in your mouth, the loaves of bread are fresh, and the less likely goddess of their menu is the hot chocolate.

Located at W 105th and Broadway, you’ll be able to smell the loaves of bread at least three blocks away. If you’re grabbing something on the go before you start your walk in Riverside Park on a fall day, this will satisfy your sweet tooth and warm your belly. Pair with a cinnamon roll and heaven isn’t too far away.

If you’ve read this far, you can imagine how much pain we were in at this point. The things we do for you, active readers…

We know this isn’t every amazing dessert spot on the UWS, but we chose according to our palettes. Feel free to comment with your favorite! Happy sugar binging, and keep up that NYC walking speed to burn off the extra calories!

Experience the Upper West Side - Life Nomading Walking Tour Price: $29 / per person Experience the Upper West Side - Life Nomading Walking Tour Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 01/17/2019

The Shitty Side of Traveling

how_to_poop_while_traveling

You see all these travel bloggers; Their beautiful adventures, perfectly angled, perfectly colored. They’re thin, beautiful, digging into some large exotic street food, enjoying a large brunch spread full of cheese, pastries, and lattes. WOWZA, you want that.

But I want to talk about what really happens on these trips, post-brunch. If you’ve been anywhere, even on vacation, you know what I’m talking about. Shitting… or lack thereof. How are there so many travel blogs out there without even the mention of it? Because for me, the inconsistency of pooping is the only consistent thing while traveling.

where to poop while travelingI embarked on my first long-term travel adventure last month, knowing full and well that even domestic travel put my sensitive digestive system at risk for constipation. Throw in a little jetlag and a whole world of new foods and I was set for complete catastrophe no matter how much water (or coffee) I drank.

drinking beer at ruin bars in budapestWhen you’re sightseeing, hiking, beaching, enjoying a beer in an authentic pub, or in no man’s land looking at the glories of the world, you don’t want to be thinking about the last time you spent a solid amount of time in the bathroom (or the last time it was solid). Wondering “how long can I go without shitting before I die” isn’t exactly what I want running through my head when I’m trying to look cute in travel pics. But it’s somewhat unavoidable, so let’s chat about it, shall we?

First of all, this is a completely natural occurrence.

In fact, it’s an evolutionary trait dating back to our hunter/gatherer days. When you’re a real nomad (not the cute, insta-famous ones), hunting for animals, you probably don’t want a predator tracking your scent during your journey. So as soon as your body recognizes that you’re in a new location, it shuts down all colon activity.

Cool, right?

Yeah, not so much when the bloating sets in after that lovely brunch spread.

Traveling is also stressful, and your tummy knows it.

Did you know that you have 100 million neurons in your gut? That’s more than in your spinal cord. So if you’re in a gross bathroom, stressed about missing your connecting flight, or overly exhausted from being in airports for 36 hours straight, your second brain in the gut is going to just say no.

Obviously, there are ways that you can keep on your merry loo schedule while you’re exploring.

A few tips (and reasons I failed – lesson learned):

Pre-Trip Prep

A few days before the trip, I normally start packing my diet with fiber. Kale salads for dinner, spinach smoothies for breakfast. Being on a super consistent schedule leading up to your trip gives your body routine, which will be easier to follow.

I failed at this. Packing up your apartment, quitting your job, and leaving for two months led me to some serious stress eating. Constipation – 1, Caroline – 0

 

Water, Water, Water

As soon as you head to the airport, drink a bottle. Through security? Drink a bottle. Just chug them as often as possible.

8-hour flight? Doomsday. They offer free wine on the plane, and I just couldn’t resist. Then I landed in Europe where water fountains are not a thing, and who wants to spend money on water bottles? Constipation – 2, Caroline – 0

 

Keep it Moving

Exercise. And this is where it gets tricky. Unless you’re able to maintain the same type of exercise as you’re used to, your body has to adjust. Yes, you may be walking 10+ miles a day when you’re exploring, but if you’re adapted to doing yoga every day, that’s a very different type of movement.

No, I’m not going to do yoga every day after wakeboarding and walking a marathon. Sorry. Constipation – 3, Caroline – 0

 

Diet

Fruits and veggies! And preferably fruits that have not been cooked into a jam, resting in the middle of strudel.

breakfast in bulgaria

avoid eating the whole plate of pastries

Ha. Ha. Ha. You think I’m not going to try every pastry on this side of the world? In my defense, the salad culture that I’m accustomed to isn’t quite as popular outside of NY. Sure, we’ll go with that. Constipation – 4, Caroline – 0

Fast forward to our second stop on the trip and I’m getting desperate. Panic poop mode, if you will. After chugging about 6 bottles of water, I start pulling out all the stops for things that are my go-to’s:

  1. Coffee: Ended up dehydrating me even more. Next.
  2. Soft Serve Ice Cream: Flickering memories of my childhood, but still nothing.
  3. Activia: If it works for Jamie Lee Curtis, why not me?
  4. Kale: Okay, you know it’s bad when Kale doesn’t work.

And right when I was about to order some Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears, I realized that I was past the point of no return and it was time to fold. My boyfriend and I started a 3-hour long venture to buy laxatives. Let me tell you, you know it’s love when a man asks the convenient store worker for laxatives in Hungarian after using google translate on every box in the store.

Travel Tip: Most laxatives can only be purchased in proper pharmacies, not your average Walgreens. But have no fear, either buy them and pack ahead of time or purchase there, you won’t need a prescription!

So here are my recommendations (to pack & and to buy in emergencies):

Metamucil (To pack)

A gift from the heavens! For those with potential to reach a desperate situation, but able to catch it early enough. The equivalent of 5 kale smoothies ready to hit your digestive system in the form of fiber pixie dust.

Pro Tip: Since it’s orange flavored, mix it with some Emergen-C to get the total travel package.

Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Price: $25.44 Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Colace (To pack)

This baby is technically a “stool-softener” but the sound of that title sends shivers to the insides of my colon. Let’s just say it loosens things up in a nice way without completely dehydrating you into a prune.

Pro-Pro Tip: Colace + Metamucil + Emergen-C Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . You. Will. Be. Invincible. Go climb Mt Everest.

Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Price: $15.97 Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Suppositories, Fleet or Equate (To buy or pack)

In short, these are not fun to talk about since they go in the opposite direction of how you want most bodily items to flow. But they work. I’ll let you decide how you feel about them. They aren’t for everyone.

Pro Tip:  I say that you can pack these, but I could easily see them not being the best to travel with. Google it. Proceed at your own risk.

Dulcolax (To buy, available in lots of countries)

For those of you with the desperation level of wishing a solid dose of food poisoning on yourself. The normal version says to take it before you go to bed and things will start rattling about 6-12 hours after you take it. Convenient. Have your morning coffee and take a seat, my friend. This puppy works.

Pro Tip: Drink SO SO SO much water after. Lax attacks pull all the water in your body to aid the process and leave you feeling like a raisin. So if you get a headache a few hours later, just chug.

Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Price: $16.31 Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

To Sum It Up

That’s the shitty side of traveling. The moral of the story is that it’s bound to happen, so let’s not pretend that it doesn’t (even to those pretty little #wanderlustgirls). Here’s to many more trips where laxatives aren’t the necessary option for you, but if so, pack in preparation and cheers to flushing!