Traveling & Writing: The Gear and Tools I Use on the Road

Gear and Tools I Use When Traveling

When I’m on the go, I try to steer more towards minimalist travel. If I go on an overnight I pack just enough to fit into a purse, and if it’s a weekender then there’s a good chance I barely pack enough to fill a suitcase even halfway. I value the freedom that comes with having little to no luggage more than I value having multiple outfit options and shoes to choose from. Because of this, I’m a big fan of whittling down a packing list to just the essentials.

There are those necessary things that I almost always pack for a trip (coconut oil, a large scarf, my toothbrush, for example). But there are also a few items I use on the road that are so important I wouldn’t dare take a trip without them. They make traveling a breeze so I’m easily able to do it as often as I’d like, and they also make it possible for me to post content from anywhere. I’m talkin’ gear here–luggage, planning tools, and electronics. Here’s what I never leave home without:

My Patagonia Duffel

Simply my favorite!

MY LUGGAGE

Really, the only perk to having a rolling suitcase is that it’s pretty easy to carry around. Other than that, they actually make traveling a bit of an ordeal. I find that they’re cumbersome, have a lot of weight to them even when they’re empty, and when you lay them on the floor they zip open to take up twice their size. I used them for a long time, and still do occasionally. For a trip home at Christmas, when those problems don’t really interfere with my travels, they’re perfect.

In the past year, though, I’ve really come to love using duffel bags. Even when they’re full, you’re more able to squish them into tiny overhead spaces on planes. Also, your bag will only ever weigh whatever contents you put into it–which I find actually encourages me to remove unnecessary items from time to time. And if you do happen to pack light, then the space your duffel bag occupies is significantly less.

My only problem with duffel bags, though, is that they’re a little more of a chore to carry around. The strap that goes across your body can dig into your shoulder, and I personally feel like a Weeble Wobble walking around with it in one hand as I teeter around. You can imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that Patagonia created a duffel with genius backpack straps on it. I seriously couldn’t believe it, and I have to say it is now my primary suitcase. Not only can I just whip it onto my shoulders and go, but it comes in super snazzy colors (hellooooo, purple). In the future, I do hope they add a hip strap to the bag, but even without that it’s convenient times infinity.

Aside from my duffel, I also have my designated personal item. This is always one of my Fossil bags. My first Fossil purse was purchased over five years ago. At the time, I’d just ruptured my achilles and had to find a sturdy cross-body bag that would not get in the way of my crutches. The one I purchased quickly became my favorite purse of any that I owned, and while it could use a few minor repairs, it’s still kickin’.

My other Fossil bag is about six months old now, and it goes with me everywhere. I love how roomy it is, how well it’s made, and how it goes with practically everything I wear. Yes, there are tons of great companies out there for you to purchase a sturdy, reliable bag to schlep your stuff around–many of them geared towards travelers! But I can use my Fossil bag to carry all the things I need, and I look damn good while doing it. Win win.

My Poketo booty

Poketo love

MY PLANNING TOOLS

To keep up with Tremendous Times, I have to stay super organized. I love organization and planning in a really weird way. For example, my brother and his fiancee recently asked me to help them plan their honeymoon, and I’ve not only broken down the information into separate emails, but I organize each email with headers for each topic (transportation, activities, etc.) and detailed explanations of each option. I’m so cool, right? Right?

Um anyway, to stay on top of things, I always travel with two very small notebooks I purchased from Poketo–one is an agenda, and the other is a travel journal. Both are so perfectly sized and wonderful that they make my heart go squee every time I take them out.  My planner, as you guessed, keeps tabs on my daily to-do’s, activities, and it even has pages for writing down notes. The travel journal is similar–there’s a section for notes–but also a page per day to list the detailed itinerary of what I did. If it weren’t for these two tiny notebooks, I’d 1) definitely lose track of what posts should be published on which days and 2) have a hard time remembering my experiences when I’m on the go.

My computers

One of these I travel with. One of these I don’t. Guess which is which.

MY ELECTRONICS

I’m tech-savvy, but not that tech-savvy. With my electronics I like to keep things simple, so the things I use when I travel are the same ones I have and use daily at home.

I use a MacBook Air that is on loan from my boss. Honestly, if I didn’t have it, I would have a difficult time traveling with a computer in my bag. The MacBook Air is super light and thin and easily fits in my purse. It’s light enough that I sometimes don’t even notice I have it with me. My other functioning laptop, which I’d purchased prior to working for him, is a blunt object that could do some serious damage. It not only takes up significantly more space, but it weighs way more, too. It would be a challenge to want to bring that with me wherever I go, so I’m fortunate that I have a different option!

Aside from a computer, I also never go anywhere without my iPhone. I’m not glued to it every hour of every day, but if I leave the house, it’s my map, means of communication, and my way to reach someone in an emergency. While I sometimes get irritated with it–particularly when it just decides to turn off, like, whenever it wants–it works for me.

My phone is also my camera. I do own a nicer Fuji camera and a few instant cameras as well, but they take up valuable space. So if I’m really trying to pack in a practical way, my iPhone is the smallest camera I have that still takes good photos.

I also can’t ignore that I have a lot of helpful apps on my phone as well. Some of my favorites when I’m on the go (and even when I’m not): Instagram, Twitter, Afterlight, Mextures, Google Maps, Wi-Fi Finder, Transit, Trover, Lyft, and Spotify.

So there you have it. Those are the things that I literally couldn’t leave home without, and that make frequent travel possible and easy for me. Perhaps the luggage, planning tools, and electronics that I use are not the best of the best, but right now they’re certainly the best options for me!

What luggage and gear do you like to have when traveling?

Here’s where you can purchase some of my favorite things!

Patagonia (the Black Hole duffels)
Fossil (the Explorer bag!)
Poketo (the travel journal and the agenda)
Apple (I use an 11-inch MacBook Air from a few years ago)

Photo Credits:
Death to the Stock Photo
Moi

Make “Someday” Today: Battling the Fears that Keep You From Traveling

Man and woman at waterfall

Let’s talk hopes, dreams, & fears.

This post is available to listen to and/or download on Soundcloud.

Over July 4th weekend, I’m proud to say I checked a pretty big thing off of my bucket list: I went skydiving!

This is something that I’d sort of put in the back of my mind to accomplish someday. It’s so effortless to say that, isn’t it? Someday I’ll go to that museum, someday I’ll hike through the Grand Canyon, someday I’ll live abroad… It’s just easier to declare, “I’ll do that one day,” than to actually act on it, even if it means doing a small something that is part of a bigger something. And this doesn’t just go for exploring the world. Anyone can say, “I’ll show more appreciation to others tomorrow,” or “Next month I’ll take the bus to work instead of drive.” Making the change and doing it right then and there is actually much more difficult.

Why do we engage in this sort of self-sabotage? Because we’re afraid, and we allow this fear to prevent us from doing the things that we really want. To achieve these goals, a lot of the times we’re faced with change and/or the unknown (scary!). We see our objectives in the distance, like a tiny island off on the horizon–it is possible to get there–but it’s safer to continue with the comfort of what we know. By saying “someday,” we remain on the mainland while keeping that little island in our sights, and we never actually make advances to try and get there.

Traveling in particular is full of the unknown. You don’t know who you’ll meet, what you’ll encounter, and as hard as you try, you’ll never be able to predict all the challenges and amazing opportunities you’ll face. This is part of what makes traveling so exciting, but also kind of frightening.

It’s great to shake things up and scare yourself from time to time, and that’s why I like trying new things and going new places. Yes, it can be intimidating, but most of the excuses people have for not traveling come from a place of fear. You’re afraid you might run out of money, possibly lose your job, or you won’t be able to make friends. Whatever your excuse may be, there’s a good chance that it’s mostly composed of fear.

The good news is, if you can come to terms with your anxiety, traveling and exploring will not only become much more attainable, but it will feel infinitely more enjoyable. Here are some steps you can take to kick fear in the ass and better prepare you for adventures, near and far.

Small adventures are a great start!

Small adventures are a great start!

1. Start small

Thinking about running away to Cambodia to teach English for a year? That’s awesome! However, be aware: if that’s your foray into living a more adventurous life, then you’ve certainly skipped the kiddie pool and taken a dive right into the deep end. Seriously, I am all for spontaneity and grabbing life by the balls, and if this plan of action is really calling your name then you should go for it! But if you’re feeling super hesitant or want to build up your confidence for travel, start on a smaller scale. 

You can actually create the adventure in your life that you need–go on a hike somewhere unfamiliar, attend a show for a band that you’ve never heard of before, or take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try. Also, get in the habit of introducing yourself to anyone interesting you meet–not only could that person be an absolutely amazing new friend, but it will help you hone the ability to talk to anyone, which is a valuable skill to have on the road.

The main thing to keep in mind is: new. Try new things, meet new people. Doing this as often as possible will give you a taste of how wonderful it is to venture out into the unknown. The more often you do it, the less you’ll view unfamiliar territory as something to avoid.

2. Get a hold of your finances

For the longest time, I believed travel was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Cruises, weekend vacations, international trips–none of that seemed possible for me. I felt like I could barely pay rent each month, so how was I going to travel at all? Now, I travel domestically much more often, and I’m trying to save up for a bigger trip in the near future. I changed two things.

First, I faced my debt. Wow, this was (and actually still is) quite hard to do. Living with debt, no matter how small, can feel paralyzing, and more often than not I’d rather be tragically binge-eating potato chips in a Snuggie than examining credit card statements or letters from Sallie Mae.

Understand that I’m not sharing this for pity. I’m sharing this because money plays a huge factor in the frequency and type of travel someone does, and there are a lot of travel fears that stem from cash, or the lack of it. Also, I’m not the only human being in the world with debt. If you’re out there, have debt, and think you can’t travel, I want to convince you otherwise.

It’s the hardest thing, but you have to sit down and actually figure out the number you owe. This sounds silly, but for the longest time I didn’t even know how much in debt I actually was. I was so afraid to open those letters each month, so I shamefully put them in a drawer to remain blissfully ignorant. In fact, when it came time to figure out how much I owed, I cried. However, after seeing the number and making a plan to slowly but surely pay it all back, I felt lighter. That unknown amount of loans and credit cards was what was weighing me down, but the actual number was far less worrisome.

After understanding my financial situation better, I also stopped buying shit. Whenever I go shopping, I ask myself, “Do I really need this?” More face wash? Yes. New socks since my old ones have holes? Yes. That cute dress from the mall? Nope. I do still treat myself from time to time–I am human–but I try to remain as conservative with my spending as possible.

city

The best way to get to know a place before you get there? Not Google.

3. Do research

Knowledge is power, my friends, and if you’re armed with a lot of information about where you’re going or what you’re doing, you’re way less likely to be scared about it.

The internet is a great tool, but don’t let it be your only method of sleuthing around. First you’ll be Googling some country in Eastern Asia to visit, then you’ll find a link that will take you to a Facebook post by this guy in New Jersey whose friend had a terrible experience and had to go to a hospital there, and that will lead you to WebMD where you’ll see all the rare diseases you could catch. Next thing you know you’ll be crying yourself to sleep with the lights on.

Instead, talk with people who’ve been there or done that. There is nothing more valuable than a little sit-down with people in real life who can tell you all about their experiences. If you don’t have any friends who have visited Cape Town or know any family members that learned how to fly a plane, then ask them if they know someone. Chances are, people are going to be super excited for you and want to get you in touch with anyone that might be able to help you.

Computer and Desk

Work it.

4. Work hard (so you can play hard)

Whether you work an hourly retail job, a 9-to-5, or you run your own business, remember that nothing is guaranteed. Yes, if you decide to take 3 months off from your job to travel through Europe, there’s a chance you could return to no job. But tomorrow you could have no job. You could have hours cut, the company might downsize, or sales might tank. The point is, now is the best time for you to pursue your passions. However, don’t think that in order to follow your dreams you have to sacrifice your job.

My best advice is to become invaluable in the workplace. Work your ass off. Do your job well, go above and beyond whenever possible, and solve the problems that come your way. If you like your job and would love nothing more than to explore the big bad world and then return to said job, bring that up to your employer and see what options might be available. There’s a chance they might look into hiring a temp while you’re away, or that a portion of your job could be done remotely. If you work an hourly position, perhaps they’ll let you pick right back up when you return. The point is, you never know until you ask.

After all your hard work, you may still find that you went after your aspirations but lost your job because of it. Bummer. But don’t fret! If your work performance before leaving for worldly travels was stellar, you’ll certainly have some great references for other potential employers. Also, if you left on good terms, your former boss or co-workers may even know of some leads for you.

Also, look at your adventures as a chance to grow or learn new skills that you can bring back with you. Traveling in and of itself is valuable, and more than likely, a well-traveled person has a lot more to offer than someone who’s never left his or her hometown. Even if your current workplace disagrees, a different prospective employer may see the value in the time you spent gallivanting around. Whether you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, WWOOFing in Argentina, or getting in touch with your family history in Ireland, there’s a lot to be learned on the road.

5. Keep those you love and trust informed

Obviously, you’re more than welcome to keep your dreams and desires to yourself, but life is about sharing. When you’re ready, find people you love who are supportive of your goals and let them know your plans. Even if you’re still dreaming things up and everything is in the brainstorming phase, sharing your hopes and ambitions with others makes distant dreams more tangible. Then, once plans become more concrete (airfare is booked or you’ve signed up for some daredevil activity), those will be the same people you can check in with, request to send you things while you’re traveling, or leave copies of important documents with. They’ll actually be able to help you stay safe.

Anyone can sit around alone and think about rock climbing in Arizona or riding an elephant in India, but talking about it with someone is the first step to making it a more realized goal. Suddenly it won’t be some scary, unspeakable hope that you have–it will be a real aspiration that people who care about you will encourage you to go after.

Skydive Elsinore

Post-skydive! A wonderful experience.

The worst thing you can let fear do is have you say “someday.” I’m so glad that I had the final push to try out skydiving. If I hadn’t, there’s a good chance I’d still be camped out on that metaphorical mainland, keeping my eyes on the island in the distance but never making any plans to reach it. Coming to terms with fears is no easy task, but if you’re able to do it, you’re well on your way to some pretty amazing adventures!

What sorts of travel goals and dreams do you have for yourself? What fears do you have when you think about actually going through with them? What kinds of travel and adventure experiences have you had that were scary but were totally worth it in the end?

Photo credits: 
Death to the Stock Photo
Moi

Three Products Every Woman Should Pack When Traveling (featured on LunaLuna Magazine)

I’m super excited to announce that I’ve had an article published on LunaLuna Magazine! This is a post that the ladies will find especially helpful, and I hope all you dudes out there share with the gals in your life. This post was originally published here.

“Are you ready? The following three products are going to change your life.

I know what you’re thinking: “They’ll change my life?” I wish I were being dramatic about it, but the three products below literally will. They’re great for everyday, but they especially make traveling much, much easier.

Coconut Oil

Why it will change your life: you can consolidate a hair de-frizzer, lip gloss, moisturizer, and eye makeup remover into one.

Just like I pack clothing items that can work for multiple outfits, I also bring beauty products that can act as multiple products in one when traveling. Coconut oil is good for practically anything, it seems, and I have a large tub of it sitting in my bathroom at home for that very reason. Rub a small amount on your hands and run through your mane to de-frizz your hair. Swipe it on your lips for some moisture. Rub it on drier areas of skin like your elbows.

My favorite use, though, is as a makeup remover. I wear waterproof eye makeup, which can be kind of tricky to remove, especially as a contact lens wearer. Coconut oil is gentle and does the job better than any makeup remover I’ve ever bought at a drugstore, and is way less money as well.

A small travel-sized container filled with some of this amazing stuff should last you a while. A little coconut oil goes a long way.

A Menstrual Cup

Why it will change your life: you’ll never have to purchase another pad or tampon in your life. And, if you’re like me, you’ll never leak.

Long gone are the days of spending money monthly on uncomfortable hygiene products. No more packing an entire package of pads for a trip. Goodbye to “period panties”–ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

If you haven’t already heard of it, the Diva Cup (and other similar menstrual cups) only needs to be emptied every 12 hours. It takes a little getting used to and requires practice to figure out how it fits best in your body–it’s far more “hands-on” than pads or tampons–but I’ve had nothing but crazy success with it. I got the hang of it quickly and found that I actually experience less cramping when I use it. Win win!

Source.

Some travel essentials. Source.

Just to be clear, some people think that it’s gross to use a menstrual cup because you’re removing this cup of blood from your body and pouring it in the toilet. But my body isn’t disgusting, and neither is yours. Women have periods, and that’s not gross–it’s natural.

So aside from the fact that you’ll save money and an insane amount of space in your luggage, you’ll also become a lot more in tune with your body. The Diva Cup also comes with a little carrying bag, and it will fit perfectly into any cosmetics case.

Baking Soda

Why it will change your life: not only can you avoid spending dollah billz on the doc, but you’ll avoid pumping your body full of antibiotics.

Bladder infections (or UTIs) suck. There are few things worse than that sinking feeling when you sit down to pee and recognize that, congratulations, you have another one. I’ve luckily never had one while traveling, but I have used the baking soda method at home before. It was such a success, that I carry some baking soda with me just in case whenever I’m on the go.

My friend told me this trick which balances the pH in your urine, and it worked like a dream. Please know, she’s no doctor, and neither am I, so use this method at your own risk. If you’re a few days into an infection, you should see a doctor immediately, but if you’re just starting to feel the pangs of one coming on, here’s what you can do:

Mix 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water.

Repeat no more than 2-3 times daily, and do for up to 2 weeks.

Literally, I feel 5 billion times better within about 20 minutes of the first glass, and I’ve done this multiple times with a 100% success rate! It takes away the urge to pee every minute, and it minimizes the pain considerably. Usually, I do this for about a week to ensure I’ve gotten rid of the infection, but if this doesn’t take care of it, I make an appointment to see my doctor.

Try to pack this in a small container, like a contact case, so that if you know you’re prone to UTIs, you’ll be prepared!”

What health/beauty items do you swear by for traveling? Have you ever used any of these above products when on the go?

Also, be sure to check out the other amazing travel articles and posts at LunaLuna!

Florida Keys Adventures (or: How I Learned to Love Swimming in the Ocean)

A Bahia Honda sunset

A few months ago, my brother told me that he had, by chance, snagged a camping spot at Bahia Honda State Park (pronounced bay-uh hon-da) in The Florida Keys. I wanted desperately to join him, his girlfriend, and my parents, but I didn’t see any way that it would work out. After a few weeks of searching for airfare, I’d nearly given up hope since everything was just so dern expensive. About a month before the scheduled trip, though, I hopped online one last time to look for flights and couldn’t believe it: flight prices were hundreds of dollars less than what I’d been looking at previously. I frantically called up my mom, and although I’m sure she couldn’t quite catch everything I was saying because I was so excited, she definitely understood, “I’m going to FLORIDAAaAaAaA!!!11″

 Why was I so excited? Well, of course I’d be able to spend time with my family which is a rare thing since they all live on the east coast. Also, I’ve never been to the Keys, and I love seeing new places. But really, I was looking forward to swimming somewhere where I’d be able to see my feet.

The truth is, I love the beach, but I hate–hate–swimming in the ocean.

This sounds weird, but I feel like I’m not alone in this. There are a lot of people out there who just really dislike hopping in the ocean for a swim. You get tossed around in the current and the waves, saltwater enters every orifice of your body, and when you get out and dry, you’re left feeling sticky from all the salt.

Honestly, though, I can deal with all that. What actually creeps me out is not being able to see my feet. Yup.

The beach that I’ve been to many times in South Carolina is gorgeous, but step in over a foot deep and who knows what’s swimming around you. There could be little crabs at the bottom, a fresh wad of seaweed to step in, little hungry sharks, spiky poisonous things, etc etc etc.

Look, I get it, it’s an ocean and there’s all sorts of crazy stuff in it. I’m an adventurous person, and I’m well aware that I’m more likely to injured in a car accident than I am doing a number of other things, including, but not limited to, swimming in the deep blue sea. I just like to know what I’m stepping on or what’s swimming around me. Is that so much to ask?!

Enter: Florida.

Me at the beach!

You know when you’re watching commercials on tv or looking at an ad in a magazine, and you see this beautiful, wonderful beach with sparkly aquamarine waters, and you think to yourself, “Huh, I’d like that,” as you stare off into the distance wistfully? Well, that’s what The Florida Keys felt like to me. It was slightly unreal. The first day I was there, I decided to test the waters out “just to see what it was like,” but that warm, pristine ocean kept calling me back in day after day. It’s strange, but being able to see where I was stepping and what was around me, even in deep waters, put my mind at ease.

Aside from just feeling more comfortable in the water, I got the chance to see some cool stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. On my first day there, I caught sight of a large stingray swimming just a few yards away from me. I really, really wish that I could tell you I kept my cool, but I most definitely did not. I froze in place, started yelling to my brother, and pointed maniacally at the it as it was gliding around. My strange behavior made everyone in the vicinity take notice, and a crowd of people came over to watch the ray swim off and away from weird little me.

I did more than just wade around in the waters, too. I actually signed up to go snorkeling with my family, so Tuesday morning (6:30am to be exact–which, may I remind you is 3:30am my time–le woof) we hopped in the car and joined a boat of scuba divers and other snorkelers and headed out to sea. I’ve never gone snorkeling before, and honestly, I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world, either. As Fezzik from The Princess Bride would say, “I only dog paddle.” But armed with some flippers, a mask and snorkel, and a snorkeling vest, I spent two hours splashing around, getting to see some of the amazing coral reef, beautiful fish, and even a sea turtle!

Breaking news! Sea turtle spotted in Florida!

After snorkeling, the next day I decided to try out snuba–a mix of snorkel and scuba–for the first time. This. was. amazeballs. It was basically like scuba diving but without having to worry about the equipment, like the compressed air tank and such. It was so so fun, and incredibly freeing.

For scuba diving, I’d obviously have needed to get certified, but for Snuba all I had to do was a brief training. Honestly, when I first started listening to the instructor, I got really nervous about diving. I thought I was just going for a fun swim underwater like 25 feet, but it turns out lungs exploding is sort of a thing. I was briefed a little on how to use the regulator, equalizing the pressure in my ears, and why not to hold my breath (hint: the lung exploding thing I mentioned. NO BIG DEAL.).

Of course, it ended up totally fine and I had an amazing time swimming around. I saw a lobster, my instructor handed me a starfish to hold (!!!), and there were a few barracudas that a got a little too close for comfort. I also left feeling like I could be a part-time mermaid.

Snuba

Florida was a magical place for vacation this summer, and I got to do some amazing things I’d never done before. I also did more swimming in the ocean there than I have in my entire life, so you know it’s gotta be good. I was only there a few days, but the memories (and the tan lines) will last me much, much longer. Bahia Honda, I hope we meet again!

Have you ever gone snorkeling, scuba diving, or tried snuba? What was your experience like? What other activities do you like to do when you’re by the ocean? 

Photo credits:
Nathan Johnson
Tilden’s Scuba Center
moi

 

 

Travel That: Your Summer Weekend Getaway

Santa Cruz sunset

This post originally appeared on HaveHeart Magazine.

It’s the middle of the summer, and if you haven’t planned a kickass vacation yet, you best hurry up! You deserve it, and these beautiful, toasty, sunny months are bound to go by too fast. Now, I understand that sometimes work or money gets in the way, but don’t fret! It doesn’t have to.

Behold the beauty of weekend trips!

A weekend trip with your closest friends is the perfect getaway for amazing memories, and it’s also a great addition to other summer travels you may have (you lucky dog). Whether this is your one big trip of the summer, or a little extra somethin’ to keep things spicy, a weekender won’t require tons of spending–but it will require planning. Keep these tips in mind when figuring out your getaway with friends:

* Be honest.

Yes, it’s a couple’s or group’s trip and you should certainly compromise so everyone’s happy. But that goes both ways, so be honest. If you really, truly hate riding on boats and a cruise is in the running, say so.

When my roommates and I were thinking about where to head one weekend, it was between Sonoma and Santa Cruz. My one roomie wasn’t too excited about Sonoma and she told us right away–and it’s a good thing she did, because we had a blast in Santa Cruz!

The bottom line is, you’re traveling with people you care about and who care about you, and the last thing anyone would want is for you to be less than excited about the trip. If you have an opinion, voice it and be heard.

Ocean Beach

* Communicate to create a budget.

The money part is always tricky. My best friend gets teased that her middle name is “Insufficient Funds” because of a trip we took to Vegas that left her for broke. I was luckier and returned with $9 in my bank account! We can joke about it now, but it was not our finest moment.

The best way to make sure that everyone stays on the same page money-wise is to have everyone involved in the budgeting. There are some costs you won’t be able to avoid–flights, lodging, or gas for the car, for example–but you can control how much you spend outside of those things.

Break down the trip so that you predict every cost you will incur. From there, if the price isn’t right, work with that total cost to bring it to an amount that works for everyone. This might mean taking the bus to the airport instead of a taxi, getting balcony seats for a show instead of orchestra seats, or eating lunch at a food truck instead of at a restaurant.

When you break it down, there aren’t any surprises. No one will feel like they’re holding the group back from doing fun things, and everyone can have a realistic expectation of the trip–activity-wise, and money-wise!

* Schedule alone time.

People are not meant to be together 24/7. You may love your friends or significant other like crazy, but nobody’s perfect and everyone needs breathing room. Even a soak in the tub while you read a book or a short walk in the park can be just the trick to give everyone a little space before you reconvene for the next fun activity.

I head to LA some weekends to visit my main squeeze, and we spend most of the time together. But on Fridays I usually have a little time to kill before he gets done with his job, so I find a nice happy hour at a restaurant in the neighborhood. It’s always a treat to be out and have that time to myself amid a weekend that I’m primarily sharing with another person.

Scheduling alone time can be a breeze if you’ve accurately budgeted and been honest with everyone (above). If you really want to get to the art museum, someone else wants to go on an urban hike, and another person is craving some high-end shopping, you can all do what you want and what you can afford. Do one activity solo for small portion of time, and when you get back together you’ll all have something exciting to talk about!

Highway to Death Valley

* Share responsibilities.

I did a small road trip through Death Valley a few months ago. Even though I really enjoyed playing navigator and figuring out music and discussion topics, I offered to drive whenever it was needed. Would I have rather been sitting in the passenger seat? Probably. But it was a responsibility I needed to share so that everyone involved could enjoy the ride to the fullest.

It’s everyone’s vacation, so everyone needs to put in the effort to make it work. The best way to go about it is for everyone to be in host/hostess mindset and to constantly offer help. There shouldn’t be just one person picking the restaurants, figuring out directions to the next location, or driving on a road trip. Unless it’s been happily agreed by everyone, trade off on different tasks so that any stress isn’t weighing on just one person. This can lead to resentment, which is the death of a fun vacation.

Now get out and enjoy that weekend! Tweet your weekender experiences to @HaveHeartMag and @t_christine–we’d love to hear all about it. Check back for a new Travel That next month.

Photo credits: moi