Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Istanbul Hotel

Our hotel for the Istanbul trip has been booked! $66.40/night + service fees and taxes, blah blah blah, math math math, in the end, it's about $215/person at the Raymond Hotel. Not bad for 6 days in a lovely exotic city.
Photos make it seem super promising and the reviews are incredibly positive. The location is really nice - right in the thick of the old city sights and it's close to a metro line.

I emailed the hotel to make sure that our reservation is confirmed (since I booked through a third party site, hotels.com) and to ask again for the exact type of room we want, emphasizing our bed preference and how we want a non-smoking room, etc. Also, hotels.com was a bit confusing as to whether breakfast was included in the room cost so I wanted to double check with that as well. It's important to contact the hotel to make sure they received your booking, especially when it's foreign, because heaven forbid you're stranded in a foreign country, right? Plus, contacting them this early puts you in their radar and hopefully gets you the best room possible.

Ack! I get so excited when things start to come together.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ireland!

Ummm, what? A trip to Ireland, which includes airfare, rental car, and a 3-bedroom cottage for $559? There isn't too much fine print, you just need a party of 4 and choose your departure and arrival on the magic dates, but wow.

Snorkeling in Maui

As the weather here gets colder and colder, I look forward to my Maui trip more and more.
One of the main activities we have planned for our Hawaii trip is snorkeling. I've only fake-snorkeled in a swimming pool before so I'm really excited to do the real thing. Maui is the most popular Hawaiian island for snorkeling so I think we're definitely in for an amazing experience.

However, I'm reading up on the pros and cons of renting vs. buying to try and decide what to do. I'm not a giant germaphobe but I do have some apprehensive feelings about putting a snorkel in my mouth that might've been used by someone who never brushes their teeth. But making room in my luggage for snorkeling equipment is as equally unappealing.

I'll probably end up making my mind up last minute, depending on how full my luggage seems and how clean the rental equipment looks.


33 more days of waiting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tumi Luggage on Gilt

There's a Tumi Luggage sale on Gilt right now. Their luxury luggage line is really nice and they have a bunch of patents on their superior designs. It's rather pricey, but a lot cheaper on Gilt (though still an investment).

I really love the Tahiti Backpack, perfect as a carry on.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Business Class to Paris!

There's an Open Skies sale on Hautelook right now and the offer is mighty appealing. It's for a $450 voucher to be used towards any Open Skies flight and it'll only cost you $99. I just did a random search for a flight in February to Paris and it's $750, each way. There is a limit of one voucher per booking, per person, so I would strategize and book the departing and return flights separately to maximize the vouchers' capabilities. It would still cost just $399, each way which is still rather amazing since it's business class.  An $800 flight to Paris is kind of typical, but flying in luxury for $800 is pretty special. The catch is that you have to use it before March 2012, so only a few months left.

If I didn't have Maui and Istanbul already in my schedule, I'd definitely hop on this right away. Open Skies is amazing - it's a subsidiary of British Airways and offers business class only (yes, the entire plane), which is kind of nuts. Damn that voucher expiration date!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jetsetter Satchel

I can't seem to get away from Rebecca Minkoff lately. I got myself the MAC crossbody clutch, the three-zip crossbody rocker bag, and the studded rocker (for my sister) over the summer and most recently, purchased a wallet. But what can I say? This lady designs some lovely accessories.

My current obsession on my wishlist is the Jetsetter Bag. The name screams travel and the bag seems perfectly suited for holidays and mini breaks. It comes in both black and cement, and I think I prefer cement. Black looks a bit too Wall Street-pantsuit for my taste, whereas the cement color is both professional and fun.
this is the bag in 'cement'
top view (of the bag in 'black'
It meets all my criteria: a zip top and appropriate size, lots of functionality, and it's structured so it won't topple.

The side pockets are perfect for storing your passport and toiletries bag for easy access at security check in.

Looks like there are lots of little pockets inside; the description says, "Interior zip, wall and cell phone pockets; key clip." And from the photos, it seems that there are four zippered pockets on the outside.

The long strap is removable, which is nice, since I'd probably prefer to carry the bag like a tote, but would like the option of tossing it over my shoulder and around my back. That long strap would make it a great weekender bag.
Hopefully someone cheaper makes something convincingly similar soon because it's for sale at Nordstrom for $495 [the forest green color is available for $346.50 at Saks)] and that isn't exactly in my budget. But my fingers are crossed since Black Friday is just around the corner...

Cheers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tis The Season to Spend Money

With the two holidays I have planned in the near-ish distant future and the fact that every retailer is yelling, "It's almost Christmas, bitch!" in my face everywhere I turn, I've been spending a lot of time shopping online (mostly window, but made some real purchases as well). I've been on the hunt for a compact wallet, a protective sleeve for my iPad, and the perfect tote and I've found two out of the three, at least I think (because my purchases haven't arrived so they have yet to be evaluated).

I've been using a key pouch to hold my money and credit cards and whatnots but I thought it was time for a proper wallet. I ordered this Rebecca Minkoff wallet, and I'm hoping it's as decent in person as it seemed online. I like it because it zips all around (which forces me to keep its contents at a minimum, lest it burst open), it has 4 card slots (which gives me room for my debit card, 2 credit cards, and my driver's license), and it's just big enough to suit the dimensions of American paper money. That last point is quite important to me, as I never understood why there are so many wallets designed with widths that are larger than the width of paper money. It seems like French wallets are v. in these days (Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Ted Baker have quite a variety available this season). French wallets are rather compact and simple, but I don't want to fold up my money and squish it in, since that's what I'm doing right now with my key pouch.

I also ordered this cute little Marc Jacobs neoprene iPad case with faux fur lining. Currently I have a protective sticker backing, screen protector, and smart cover on my iPad - which is my minimalist approach to sating my incessant need to protect any and all electronics. However, the idea of my stuff getting banged around in a crowded airport made me want to get some heartier protection. Neoprene (the material used to make wetsuits) is a bit stretchy and offers a snug fit, so it's space efficient and its precious contents won't slide around and get damaged, it's lightweight, and weatherproof, which will offer me some peace of mind if I get caught in a torrential hurricane. Plus, the faux fur lining sounds so plush and posh and I think even my iPad deserves to be snug and warm now that the weather's getting cooler.

As far as the search for my perfect tote, it's still ongoing. I just haven't found "the one" yet. I'm weighing trendiness with functionality and price, so it's rather tough. Currently when I travel, I use my Longchamp le pliage medium-sized tote (bought it in Paris, how proper, right?), which is surprisingly roomy, but it's getting a bit beat up. I need it to be a zip top so that when I send it through the conveyor belt at security check-in, I won't worry about the contents spilling out if it tips over. And it has to be big enough to hold my iPad or netbook plus my toiletries bag, tiny wallet, passport, and other knickknacks but small enough that it doesn't look ridiculous and oversized compared to my small frame.

And here's a little gift: $25 for $50 to spend at hautelook - there's a limit of 1 coupon per customer, but I snatched this right up and snagged a few goodies already.

Cheers.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Size Matters

There's a Heys Luggage sale on gilt.com! Lots of 3-piece luggage sets (22", 26", 30"), normally worth more than $1000 for less than $250; not bad.

I'm not too keen on buying anything because I have no need to invest in a bag that's too big to be used as a carry-on right now but maybe you do?

They even have scales for sale, for those of you who worry about having bags that are too heavy. I've never worried too much because I'd know if my bag was too heavy (because I wouldn't be able to carry it) but be aware that most airlines do put weight limitations on carry on luggage in addition to the limitations on the dimensions of your bag.

I haven't seen too much muss or fuss over the weight of my bag (except a few times in Europe while flying Ryanair and Easyjet) but I have witnessed multiple people who had bags that looked a bit too bulky and the airline agents stopped them and told them they had to check their bags and pay the fees. It seems like the airlines are looking to squeeze pennies wherever they can so now I bring a tiny paper tape measure with me (I like the free ones from Ikea, I keep a stash in my luggage), just in case I ever need to prove that I'm following the rules.

Cheers.
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