I am about to take a trip to Chicago, and decided this would be a great time to write about how I pack light, save on travel and what I can't travel without!
If you're like me, and you hate huge suitcases, unnecessary spending and not knowing where you are going when you travel, read on! I'm happy to share all I've learned about traveling.
Whenever I travel, my goal is to fit everything into a backpack, and a small carry-on suitcase. That way, I avoid baggage fees, and then I also don't have to worry about waiting to pick up my bag when I get there. I can get straight to vacation!
Depending on how long your vacation is, I feel that I can get up to 5 days in just those bags. Once you get to your lodging, ditch all the stuff in the backpack and take it wherever you go exploring, so you can load it up with water, snacks, sunscreen and a clean change of clothes if needed. I also suggest extra deodorant if it's summertime :)
Zach and I got lucky - his parents were already going on this trip and we mooched our way into their apartment rental. However, the first night I reached out to a friend I knew had moved to the area, and she graciously accepted us into her home. Check - accomodations = $0.
The second thing we decided to do was pack a bunch of our own snacks. This seems like common sense, but I forget all the time! Luckily I just had a work event the week before and had tons of lara bars, cliff bars, fruit and baked chickpeas to take with. Snacks = $0
Meals can be a bit more difficult. Usually when we go out we like to have one "fancy meal" This time we chose to have brunch (also a bit cheaper than dinner) and will probably spend about $80 there. We chose to go to Hancock tower. We decided that we would rather get a meal out of our viewing experience than wait in a line, pay $20 and have to fight off other tourists. Other than that, we plan to do hot dogs and deep dish pizza for every meal!
We chose to do all free things while we were there. Fortunately, Chicago has a ton of beaches, shopping and a free zoo! We are planning to take advantage of those options.
Lastly, utilize public transit. Chicago has some great transit that we do plan to use, but for some places it just doesn't go where we need to go. Enter UberPool. I personally like UberPool because you meet people from the area and sometimes you get the best stories!
This is specific to me, but there are a few things I cannot live without.
- Simple Face Wipes - It's going to be in the 90s when we are there. I will be sweating like a pig. I don't think makeup will be happening on this vacation, so I plan to keep these on hand to refresh when needed
- HEADPHONES. I always forget these! Can be great for the plane, as well as awkward train rides if you don't want to speak to people...
- Bottled Water - Essential! Even if it's not summer or hot, travelling and walking around can seriously dehydrate you. I like the contigo reusable bottles from Costco, they can clip to a backpack.
- Comfy Shoes - I definitely want to look cute, but my strappy sandals are going to become my enemy about an hour into my vacay. I suggest bringing tennis shoes that you can walk around in all day, as well as maybe one pair of fancy shoes when you want to dress up.
- Small backpack - I always bring a small backpack instead of a purse on vacation. I always carry more, and then I also don't have to worry about that awkward strap in the middle of the boobs situation, am I right?
I love to plan and usually make excel spreadsheets with my itinerary, with links to google maps and site of places we want to go. It's very important to me to know where I am going when I'm in an unfamiliar city, I hate looking like a tourist.
I hope this helps!