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Ahead of the Pack

Staff members try to move a huge trolley case during the 100th Chinese Export Commodities Fair in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province October 15, 2006. This trolley case has been certified as the world's largest by the Guinness World Records and measures 175cm (5ft 9in) by 115cm (3ft 9.3in) by 46cm (1ft 6.1in) thick. Picture taken October 15, 2006. CHINA OUT REUTERS/Alvin Chan (CHINA)
This trolley case has been certified as the world’s largest by the Guinness World Records and measures 175cm (5ft 9in) by 115cm (3ft 9.3in) by 46cm (1ft 6.1in) thick. CHINA OUT REUTERS/Alvin Chan (CHINA)

I recently returned from a girl’s weekend and when I met my friends at the airport they seemed equally fascinated and horrified by the fact that I was traveling with only one small carry-on bag.  Mind you, this getaway was only for five days!  But even for longer trips I try to keep within the confines of one carry-on size roll aboard and a tote.  It reduces my stress, lessens the chance for lost items and increases flexibility if travel delays and/or interruptions occur.

  • Keep footwear to a minimum!  Shoes are usually one of the heaviest things to pack.  I try to go with three pairs (including the pair I’m wearing) or less.  If you are going to be dressing up, pick a skin-tone neutral sandal that will work with everything from dresses to jeans and a cami.  Choose something comfortable for day – a sandal, ballet flat, boot or sneaker based on your style and the weather at your destination.  Always try to wear whatever item is heaviest (usually a boot or sneaker).
  • Pack a palette that works together!  For me, this is usually a combo of black/white/grey and denim.  Scarves and jewelry add pops of color.  Don’t panic if you dislike neutrals – you can still find a palette that works together – think ombré shades, olive/peach/caramel or grey/teal/eggplant. Google color palettes if you need inspiration!  Packing items that can be layered helps when you will experience a variety of climates.
  • Pack efficiently!  Through years of trial and and error, the infographic below highlights the packing method that works best for me.  It’s a 3-layer approach with shoes and packing cubes or bags containing smaller items on the bottom, a divider piece in the middle and folded clothes on top.  The divider piece allows me to easily lift off the top layer of folded clothes and access items in the bottom.

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Lastly, don’t be afraid to either re-wear some items or do laundry on the road.  It’s a great way to meet both locals and other travelers!

Cut to the CHASE (Sapphire Reserve Card)

Like many amateur travel hackers, I’ve been eyeing up the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card with it’s incredible 100,000 Chase Reward bonus points.  However, as the child of a fiscally responsible accountant and mathematician couple, the thought of paying $450 a year to a credit card company for the pleasure of using it’s services put a lump in the pit of my stomach.

Here is the article that convinced me to pull the trigger.  Apparently the $300 annual travel credit is per calendar year, not card holder year.  So by signing up prior to the end of 2016, I will get to use the $300 credit this year and again after the first of the year.  Right out of the gate this puts one up $150.  Mix in the complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the card and the triple point earnings on travel and dining and there is no question that I’ll come out ahead with this card.  The mathematical breakeven points for annual spend are demonstrated here in an article by The Points Guy.

Immediately after approval I contacted the Chase team via email portal to see if I could have the card expedited in anticipation of upcoming travel.  They replied that due to extreme demand for the card they were unable to accommodate expedited delivery at this time.  Imagine my surprise and delight when just four days after applying (including a weekend), my card arrived via UPS!  Thrilled with their customer service and can’t wait to start making a dent in the qualifying minimum spend.

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Card Benefit Summary:

  • 100,000 Chase Reward points after $4,000 spend in the first three months (worth $2,100 or MORE)
  • $300 in statement credits annually for travel purchases
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (NOT limited to primary cardholder)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis and Silvercar
  • Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains
  • Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 50% more value when you redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Access to benefits through Chase’s The Luxury Hotel & Resort CollectionSM
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel and purchase protections
  • 24/7 direct access to a Customer Service specialist
  • Worldwide Travel Assistance
  • Access to the Visa Infinite Concierge (reservations or Broadway, music and sporting event tickets)

This Halloween, Paint the Town!

October is here and you know what that means…pumpkins, cider and Halloween parties!

With a professional face/body artist in the family my inclination for costumes usually turns toward make-up oriented ensembles.  To pull off the more complex of these looks, you really need to go to an experienced painter!  Try searching for a local branch of a Face and Body Art Guild.

One of my favorite looks for 2016 is the Pop-Art Look.  To complete your outfit, try going with a polka dot dress or bright primary colors.  For a simpler approach, stick to a black tank or tee, jeans and boots.  Black, red, yellow or blue wigs are another way to make this look pop!
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A second, slightly creepier pick, is optical illusion art.  For these looks, keep clothing extremely basic – all black or jeans and tee.  Let the makeup do all the work. 

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Lastly, despite seeing TONS of this look last year, I’m still a huge fan of the sugar skull.  Complete this look by incorporating a band of flowers in your hair and donning a slinky, long dress.  For men, a suit and hat combo work just fine!

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