Your Travel Questions, Answered!

Your Travel Questions, Answered!

 

Recently I posted on Instagram Stories using the “Questions” sticker and asked you all to send in any travel-related questions you had.  Scroll down for the questions asked and my responses.  I loved hearing from you and hope you find the answers helpful – you’ll find everything from best luggage, to how to keep from overpacking, and favorite destinations.

One of the questions I get most frequently relates to recommendations for cities I’ve visited.  I LOVE giving out recommendations so always feel free to ask, but also check out the travel tab at the top of my blog to see if I may have done a travel guide already.  I’ll admit that there are many places we’ve gone that I haven’t done a guide for, but those always have the most info!

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

 

Favorite place you’ve ever been?

This is so hard because each place we visit has something special to offer!  That said, the ones that I still dream about the most are Montana, Switzerland, and the roadtrip we took through Germany.

 

Carry-on packing tips?

Tip #1: Stuff your socks, underwear, and swimsuits in your shoes.  This will help your shoes keep their shape while also maximizing your precious luggage space.  Win-win.

Tip #2: Keep a toiletry bag packed at all times.  This will ensure you don’t forget anything and also cut down on so much stress; you won’t be running around last minute trying to get small containers and travel sizes of all your necessities.

Tip #3: Wear your biggest items on the plane to free up space in your carry-on (more on this below).

Tip #4: Use your “personal item” wisely.  You can get away with a pretty big bag as your “personal item” so do yourself a favor and don’t bring your small purse as your personal item.  Get a backpack or large tote and stash your smaller bag inside that!  Then, use the rest of the extra space for anything you may not have been able to fit in your carry-on or checked luggage and items you want to keep on hand.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

What place is number 1 on your travel bucket list?

Currently… Montenegro.

 

If you do checked luggage, how to keep the weight down?

We haven’t checked bags in over 2 years so I am not an expert on this, but my #1 tip would be to wear your heaviest shoes and coats on the plane.

Put anything else particularly heavy in your carry-on (camera, computer, toiletries, etc) and even though you have the luxury of being able to bring full-size products, resist the temptation.  If you add one or two of those extra heavy items to your carry-on, it should still be easy enough to lug around while keeping that weight down on your checked luggage.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

Best place for a romantic/couples getaway?

Abroad, you really can’t beat Paris!  Call me cliché but it truly is as romantic as they say.

In the US, Charleston is super dreamy.  The perfect combination of great food, beautiful architecture, and adorable hotels.

 

How not to overpack?

Tip #1: Check the weather before your trip!  It surprises me how many people don’t do this; it is the first thing I do!  By doing so, you’ll have a better idea of the proper clothing to bring and don’t have to bring one of everything “just in case”.

Tip #2: Pack items that can be worn multiple ways.

Tip #3: Know your itinerary plans and be realistic.  Are you going to be doing a lot of walking and doing casual dinners?  Leave the heels at home.  Or, do you plan to hang on the beach all day and then get dressed up for a nice dinner each night?  Go ahead and bring the wedges and focus on light coverups and dresses that don’t take up much room.  If you’re honest with yourself, are you actually going to work out on vacation?  If not, leave the chunky tennis shoes behind.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

 

Best luggage? 

Hands-down: TravelPro!  After I purchased mine, a flight attendant friend told me that it is “the preferred brand of travel professionals” and ever since I’ve noticed that nearly all pilots and flight attendants carry the brand!

I’ve had my carry-on for three years and have taken it on every single trip and it is still in near perfect condition.  It was a little pricey but has held up so well that I can confidently say it is 100% worth it.

And let’s just address two controversial topics real fast: hard case v. soft case and two wheels v. four wheels.

I’ve tried hard-cases and absolutely hated them.  They got banged up and looked dirty almost immediately, the hard shell makes them less pliable to mold around random last-minute additions and weird shaped items so you end up with wasted space, and I’ve heard so many people complain that they get broken when thrown around by the flight crew.

Four wheels are a necessity.  Being able to turn your suitcase sideways to roll it down the aisle is a game-changer.  My husband refuses to let go of his two-wheeler and let’s just say it is wildly embarrassing walking behind him as he whacks row after row trying to get down the aisle.  Also, if you ever end up in a Home Alone situation running through the airport situation (don’t want to admit how many times this has been us), trust me, four wheels are your friend.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

What do you keep in your toiletry bag? 

I actually have been working on a post about this, I just desperately need to finish it.  I promise to have the post up within the next few months, detailing what I keep in my toiletry bag and how I pack it.

 

How do you choose your destinations?

At the beginning of each year, we take out a flight map and look at where we can get directly from Dallas. (We are lucky to be a hub airport so we have tons of direct options, thus we’ve become spoiled and avoid connections as much as possible).  While looking at the map, we write down all the places we think sound fun.

From there, we make individual lists of our top five – ten choices from the list and compare.  Often there are places that show up on both our lists and those destinations become the ones we prioritize.

During this planning session, we also take out a calendar and look at the year ahead to see where we have holes that would make good time off of work, what long weekends may be good for travel, etc.  A lot of times, our destination choice will depend on the time of year/season, so this provides us a good picture to determine where we ultimately want to go.  For instance, if the only time we can take an extended period of time off work is in March when it is fairly cold most everywhere, we can cross off a lot of places that are ones we would only want to visit when warm.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

How many suitcases will it take you to travel with baby?

Ha, that’s a great question!  We have no idea yet, but do have two trips planned in October so we will find out soon!

 

Best place to book cheap flights and how far in advance do you book them?

To be honest, I don’t have any tried and true place to book cheap flights because we are in a unique situation based on the fact that my husband works for an airline so we travel standby.  Thus, we only fly his airline and we can’t plan much farther than a week in advance because we don’t know if we will make it on the flight until minutes before the flight takes off.

That said, my best advice is to not be dedicated to one airline.  Shop around!  For example, I know that everyone has it in their heads that Southwest is the cheapest (because they did used to consistently be the least expensive), but honestly I find that often it isn’t these days!  Kayak is a great site that will show you tons of airlines all in one place.  You can easily add filters for times of day or if you’d be willing to fly out of nearby airports rather than only the one you listed.  Ironically Southwest isn’t included in Kayak’s search feature, so in order to do a full comparison you’ll need two windows open – one with Kayak’s site and one with Southwest’s.

Finally, I recommend checking out this blog post from Taza that is extremely informative and appears to have some amazing and helpful recommendations.

 

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

How you plan – spreadsheets, go with the flow?

This is such a great question that I actually am going to do a whole post on our planning process!

But the quick answer is that we are more go with the flow.  We have a rough outline but we definitely aren’t planned-out-itinerary-by-time types.  Before a trip we talk about what is most important to each of us to see or do.  That way, we know what to prioritize and never end the trip with one of us feeling like we missed out on something we really wanted to do.

 

How do you plan to destination travel while also leaving time to visit family and friends?

*Ultimately, the answer to this question will vary person to person.  It is up to you to determine for yourself what feels most comfortable for your life, situation, and budget.  I would start by picking which holidays you absolutely want to spend with family and then make a goal for personal travel and stick to it (if you get homesick, start looking at pictures of places you want to travel so you get excited again!)

At the beginning of the year, we look at a calendar and map out the year.  Any weddings we know we have coming up, events, birthdays, holidays, etc.  From there we add in what weeks or times of year are best for each of us to take off work so we can see where we have overlap.

After five years of marriage, we have figured out which holidays we plan to spend with family, which sides we spend them with, and which holidays we do by ourselves.  Additionally, we decided when we got married that we wanted to prioritize one “big trip” each year.  If we get lucky and are able to take another, that’s fantastic, but having one to look forward to and plan for is so much fun.

From there, we fill in our calendar based on what weekends are available, where we are able to travel easily, and where makes sense financially.  We have been in a special chapter of our lives where we didn’t have kids so weekend travel was incredibly easy and we took full advantage.  Now that baby is on the way, we know these “extra trips” are going to be much less frequent.

Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

 
Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

 

There you have it, answers to all your travel questions!  I hope they were helpful and gave you some insight into our travel methods.  Hopefully these tips help you when planning your next trip!

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out at any time – I am always more than happy to help!  I take it as a great compliment that you trust me to help you plan something as special as your travel!

 


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    Travel blogger Mary-Katherine of Gold-Hatted Lover answers your travel questions, including favorite destinations, best luggage, how to pack without going over the weight limit, and more!

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