Weekly, I have people ask me tips about travel. It's definitely one of my huge passions in life and I want to be able to help others who enjoy exploration in making it a little more enjoy.


Travel can be overwhelming for a lot of us. What to do? Where to go? Where to eat? How do I create a budget? What should I pack? Often, these questions can cause someone to miss out on a lot of amazing things because it all just seems so overwhelming. My goal is to start sharing some of my insights and experiences to help you make your travel life the best it can be.


Last week, I shared how I pack in one bag - my favorite tip of all time! Traveling light leaves you with a lot less stress and way more time to enjoy wandering. If you haven't checked that post out, you can find it here.


In this post, I'm sharing three of my MUST KNOW travel tips. I have more than three, but this is a good place to start and are at the very top of my hacks!



1) Make Reservations... everywhere

This might seem like a no brainer post 2020, but making reservations is key to having a memorable trip anywhere you go. Most all places accept reservations but often people don't take advantage of making them. Or, they make the mistake of waiting too long to make them.


When? Book reservations for dinners/drinks/experiences at least 3 months in advance, if you can. I know, I know. You're like "WHAT?!" But, like they say "the early bird gets the worm." If you are hoping to get in at a super swanky, highly sought after place, book even further in advance. The earlier you book, you secure your preferred time and can even get an early bird discount when booking certain experiences.


If you wait until a month before, your chances are much slimmer of optimal preferences and if you don't make a reservation at all, you risk missed opportunities and a possible stressful situation.


Tell them Why! If you don't remember anything else I tell you, remember this one. If you are celebrating an anniversary/birthday, put it in your reservation. If you are celebrating a job promotion, put it in your reservation. If you just found out you're pregnant and celebrating, put it in your reservation. I book through OpenTable and Resy frequently and they both have spaces to tell them why you are celebrating. Be specific.




If you are booking a hotel or resort, the same applies. Talk to someone and let them know why you are staying with them. I cannot tell you the amount of complimentary things/extra special treatment we have received over the years when we simply let the establishment know why we are there. Places want your repeat business and they want to celebrate you choosing to eat or stay with them for your special event. It makes celebrating your occasion even more special.





2) Stay local

When planning a trip, skip the tourist traps. Part of traveling is soaking up another city and culture. It gives you a unique experience and, often, a much less crowded time away. Most tourist driven restaurants, activities don't really hold the charm that a local place would. It can feel intimidating to seek out the local joints because often, the first places listed on a public search are the tourist stops. It can be overwhelming and maybe we don't want to get out of our comfort zone. But, that's the best part of travel - getting out of your comfort zone! A few of my favorite ways to plan local only activities:


  • Ask a local - if you have a friend (or a friend of a friend) who is local to the area or has connections, ask. I have always found people to be so helpful and excited when sharing about a place they love. Sometimes this can open doors to other experiences maybe not provided to all visitors if your connection has an in at a restaurant or experience.

  • Know where to search - your basic Google search isn't my favorite way to scour your resources for local haunts. I like to hit up hashtags on Instagram to check out local spots. You can try ones such as "local(city)" and see what pulls up. Sometimes these can lead you to local bloggers, foodies, and tours that are off the beaten path. Condé Nast is another go-to for me, especially in bigger cities. CN will provide more resources on hot, new stops so it's a great resource to try unknown spots. They also usually have old, faithful stops that are steeped in the culture of your visit.

  • Lastly, read reviews from other travelers! Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor - all of these resources can help you get inside details of a place or restaurant you want to visit.



3) Plan the "must dos" but leave room for "maybe dos". Have a backup plan!

I fall somewhere between having an open palm and being a planner when we travel. For the best experiences, you have to be okay with plans being changed due to unforeseen circumstances (hello 2020!), traffic, or just wanting to change things up. The best way I've found to do this is plan the "must do" activities. If it's a restaurant you booked 6 months ago and you've been dying to try, it's a must do. If it's a 2 hour drive away from your hotel to a special site you have always wanted to see, it's a must do. But, if it's wanting to hit up a fancy beach one afternoon but a viscous rainstorm rolls in, it's an opportunity to pivot.


Have a backup plan for each day of travel... have a list of places you'd like to go, if time allows. A museum? A local book store? A quaint coffee shop? Just walking around downtown? These aren't must dos, but they make pretty sweet backup plans if something else falls through. Allowing yourself room to pivot keeps your trip flowing and you making memories without allowing changes to put a damper on your adventures.


None of these tips cost money - but they can add value to your trip! Do you have some favorite travel tips you've learned over the years? Share them with me and I would love to try them!


xoxo,

patty lauren



After my luggage being lost for a few days on a trip to California many years ago, I committed to never checking a bag again. I started my carry-on only lifestyle on a trip to Europe and have never looked back!


98% of the time I do a carry on luggage only + 1 personal item, but on the occasions I fly Allegiant or Frontier, I pack in a backpack that will count as a personal item (free). I had a much smaller backpack but recently upgraded to the New Crew Lululemon Backpack and it’s a game changer! I was able to fit the following in my backpack plus room to spare!

  • 1 pair of dressy pants

  • 1 silk cami

  • 1 skirt

  • 1 tank top

  • 1 cropped hoodie

  • 2 pairs of shorts

  • 2 shirts

  • 1 pair of sweats

  • 1 pair of letting

  • 1 pair of flip flops

  • 1 bikini

  • 1 sports bra

  • 1 set of night wear

  • 2 days worth of supplements & pills

  • 1 pack of makeup wipes

  • 1 pair of glasses

  • 1 water bottle

  • A hairbrush

  • A bottle of sunscreen

  • A curling iron

  • A phone charger

  • My Daysy Fertility Tracker

  • My makeup bag which has my contact case, cc cream, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, 3 face serums, lash serum, toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, eyebrow gel/pencil/pen, dry shampoo, hair ties, and a few other small things


This is for a 4 day trip, but could easily be enough for 5 days. So... HOW? First, I start early! I usually start my packing process 2-3 days before a trip. This gives me time to think about what I’m asking and not make impulse decisions.

How To Travel Light


1. I start with making a list of each day of travel and a “Morning/Afternoon” & “Evening” category. For example:


Monday (morning)

Pool day and casual lunch out

Monday (evening)

Upscale dinner and after dinner music

By listing activities, I have an idea of what type of clothing to pack.

2. After listing each day’s plans, I list the outfits (plus shoes/accessories) I think I may wear. For example:


Monday (morning)

Pool day and casual lunch out

Pool: leopard bikini, coverup

Lunch: linen pants, white crop top, sandals, macrame earrings, crossbody bag

Tip: I try to stick with a color scheme (neutrals are always a great go-to with a few splashes of color in a piece of jewelry or a fun bag) that I can have repeat uses of shoes/purses for. If I have 5 outfits and they’re all different colors, it’s going to be harder to stick to a minimal list. I continue this for each day and all of the activities. I use my iPhone notes app and utilize the checkbox feature so I keep track of what I actually pack.

3. Once I’ve listed all of the items, I lay them all out in the floor and pair them with any accessories. Then, I reassess. Do I really need 3 outfit changes one day? Do I really need an extra purse? Am I bringing 3 tops because I can’t decide now and want options? What can I rewear?


4. After I do my reassessment, I usually lose a few items. I do one final pass through of activities/clothing and begin to pack.


5. ROLLING! I roll every item of clothing as tightly as possible. I have several videos on my Instagram highlight “1 Bag” that shows how I do this. It makes a world of difference in what you can fit in a bag or piece of luggage.


6. Lastly, toiletries! I pack all of my toiletries in one bag. Everything is under the 3oz requirement. This means purchasing mini sizes of my favorite face products or adding a little bit into small, portable containers like the ones below.




For makeup, I try to just bring the necessities... sunscreen, cc cream, blush, and mascara. If I feel like I have space, I’ll pack eyeshadow and bronzer. I always take a disposable toothbrush so I can toss it at the end of the trip and have one less thing to pack.


For pills and supplements, I use this container set from Amazon and take out the days I need. They’re small and super portable!


More tips to light, one bag travel!


If I am doing a backpack, I will also use one of my Lululemon Belt Bags as a crossbody. I wear this on my person and it has important/quick access items like phone, wallet, passport, etc. Combining the backpack and belt bag also keeps me totally hands free which is always a win when traveling!


Check the weather of your destination! Is rain expected? A cold front? A heat wave? I use the AccuWeather app to look at each day to help me plan my outfits.


I wear my bulkiest items on the plane. Sneakers/Boots/Coats/Hats, etc.

I stick to 2 pairs of shoes, *maybe* 3 if I am taking an actual carry on luggage. If I’m using a backpack, I stick to 2.

I wash my hair right before a trip so I don’t have to worry about washing it midtrip and bringing all of my hair products minus a curling iron or straightener.

This type of travel isn’t for everyone, but I love it and would never want to travel another way! Less time checking bags, waiting for luggage, and keeping up with things is more time to explore, engage, and make memories!

What did I miss?? Let me know if there’s something I didn’t cover and I will answer!

til next time...

xoxo,

patty lauren

If you missed part one of sharing my journey of non-hormonal birth control, make sure you check out that post - it gives some insight into why I chose to ditch "The Pill" and pursue birth control options that better fit my lifestyle and longterm heath goals.


In this followup, I'll cover the non-hormonal form of BC I decided upon as well as a very helpful technological device that makes things easy to track and better learn how my body works.


After talking to my health practitioner and reading/researching lots of information for about 3 years, I decided that the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) was the best decision for me. Whether you are TTC (trying to conceive) or TTA (trying to avoid) it's important your partner is 100% on board - I'm very thankful my husband has been and is also supportive of me sharing this so I'm excited that this will encourage someone else who has been debating this decision.


Resources & Where to Start

I highly, highly, highly encourage you to purchase and read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler. It is the HG of Fertility Awareness Method and teaches you everything you need to know not just about FAM, but your body, understanding your cycle, dealing with infertility, how it can help with conditions like PCOS and endometriosis - it is full of knowledge, stories, and statistics.


In addition, I found this podcast really helpful - it dives into what FAM is, how to practice it, and the success rates!


So, what is Fertility Awareness Method?

I'm going to keep this short because I'm not a professional and I really think you would get the best advice from TCOYF or a Fertility Awareness Method educator.


Since this is my personal experience, I'll share the key components and how I practice FAM.


I think it's really important to start with what FAM is NOT - it is not the Rhythm Method. The Rhythm Method is practiced with the thought that every woman ovulates on Day 14 of their cycle. In reality, less than 10% of women actually ovulate on Day 14 - which leaves a lot of room for error. Ovulation can affected by a lot of things - stress, sickness, certain conditions, etc - it can come early or late in a cycle. FAM teaches you how to learn when YOUR body ovulates and thus giving you the power to try and conceive or prevent pregnancy. With perfect use, it can be 98% effective.


The Fertility Awareness method relies on a woman's Basal Body Temperature (BBT), cervical fluid, and cervix position. By understanding these 3 things, you can implement FAM with success.


If you choose to have sex during your fertile days, the percentage of success is reliant upon your choice of barrier method.


Women are only fertile for about 6 days each month. Ovulation occurs 1 of those days and the other days are how long viable sperm can live in your body. If you are TTC, this is the time frame you would have unprotected sex - while if you're trying to avoid, you would either abstain or use a barrier method to prevent pregnancy.


Putting FAM into Practice

In TCOYF, you learn how to chart your cycle manually. However, I have chosen to use the Daysy Fertility Tracker. It is more pricey than just using a BBT thermometer and graph paper, but I really wanted the additional support. "The Daysy fertility tracking computer uses the Fertility Tracker Method (FTM) to calculate your fertile days and predict your ovulation. This means, Daysy takes your basal body temperature and menstruation data, and calculates for you when you are fertile and when you are not.

Daysy draws on the science of different models of fertility awareness to provide highly accurate calculations of your fertility status each day - fertile or not fertile. The self-learning algorithm does all of the necessary calculation work for you to come to these conclusions."


How Does Daysy Work?

Each morning, before I do anything (get out of bed, sit up, pee, talk - anything that's active and can mess with my resting temperature), I roll over and take my temperature with my Daysy which takes about 60-90 seconds. With Daysy, you don't have to temp at the same time every morning BUT I try to keep this pretty consistent because the more consistent I am, the more consistent my chart is and less room for outlying numbers. If I'm fertile, she gives me a red light and if I'm infertile, she gives me a green light. The yellow light is during learning phases of your cycle (especially in those first couple cycles where Daysy is learning your individual cycle habits)


My data is kept in my Daysy so all I have to do is sync her to my phone and the Daysy app. In the app, I can add additional details like CF, intercourse, notes, etc. It takes a couple of cycles for Daysy to understand your individual cycle and begin to predict your fertile (Red), infertile (Green), or learning phase (Yellow) days. She will predict ovulation but this is where those FAM rules come in to play - I can pinpoint ovulation day with my BBT and CF and sometimes that different than what's predicted. That's why it's important to really learn the method so the power is 100% in your hands.



This is my personal chart off my Daysy and helps you see what I'm talking about. You will see the red dipping temps - this is before ovulation. Where the black circle is shows a temperature shift, indicating ovulation has taken place (which I was able to confirm with the additional FAM practices) My temperatures stayed high and I got my green lights. Pretty cool, huh?





I have found my experience with Daysy to be absolutely amazing and helpful. I'm also part of a support group online where women can ask questions, share charts, etc. It's a very welcoming, engaging community and purchasing the Daysy was 10000% worth it.


In conclusion

Our bodies are SO amazing. Something that was mentioned on the podcast I recommended earlier was that this method is not for everyone - and that's cool. Women who do practice FAM or want to generally feel "led" to do it - because it does take some more time and effort, but if you are wanting to not have to be on hormonal BC or you just want another option - it's really an amazing tool. It's given me a bigger appreciation for my body and how amazing God created it to be. I love feeling in control and knowing my body - I've learned to give her a little more grace and love because she is working really hard for me.


Thanks for reading along!

xoxo,

patty lauren