Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Conference Travel: My WITS17 Packing List and a GIVEAWAY

It's fly week for me as I join 500 women travel influencers, creators, and brands in Milwaukee for Wanderful's annual Women in Travel Summit. 

As someone who attended WITS'15 in Boston, I am excited for this event which has elements of personal and professional development, opportunities for collaboration, networking, and global sisterhood. 

I've started to think about packing and what will make my time in Milwaukee the most productive it can be. Here's what's going into my carry-on. 

My Bags
I am not checking luggage. Whenever it's possible, I carry-on and this year, I am bringing my Kelty Redwing 2500 Backpack. She's been traveling with me since 2010. This front-loading pack holds everything I need and fits comfortably in the overhead bin or under the airline seat. The waist and chest straps even the weight and make carrying it easier on my shoulders and hips. 

I'm also bringing my Samsonite Jordyn Laptop Tote, an attendee's gift from WITS'15.

I never travel anywhere without my packing cubes. These organizers are like individual dresser drawers for my clothes and they save me time and space. I also use a charger organizer to keep my charger cables tangle-free. 

  • My MacBook Pro. This travels everywhere with me. It allows me the flexibility to take notes and work on the road when I have down time before, after, or between sessions. 
  • My iPhone. I will be using this as my primary camera for tours and conference photos. 
  • A power strip. Outlets in hotel rooms and conference breakout rooms can be limited. By bringing a power strip, I can stay charged and help a friend. 
  • Earbuds for my flight and shared hotel rooms. 
  • My Jackery. This dual USB port charger was a game changer for me.

Other essentials
  • Business cards for networking
  • Ear plugs for shared hotel rooms
  • A notebook and pens for quick notes
  • A refillable water bottle and coffee mug
  • Quest Bars and/or portioned bags of almonds for snacks
  • Gum 
  • A scarf and a sweater for chilly breakout rooms
  • Rain gear: Because of this year's weather forecast, I am bringing my Eddie Bauer Insulated Trench. Thanks, Steph, for the recommendation. I have used this jacket since November and it keeps me warm and dry. 

When it comes to clothes, I pack light and functional. I choose a neutral color palette and plan around that. I make sure to pack comfortable shoes for offsite tours and a dressier outfit for evening networking and socials. 

Ready to win?


If you're a woman who loves to travel, Wanderful is for you. This community connects women around the world through meet-ups in over 22 cities, a thriving social media network, domestic and international travel, an influencer program, admission to special events around the world, a home sharing network, and discounts to the WITS conference. 

I am such a fan of this community that I am giving away 10 memberships to Wanderful, a $119 value. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment below about one gadget you never travel without. 

If you're not one of the 10 winners of this giveaway, you still can take advantage of a discounted membership with $15 off when you sign-up using the code LOVELYLIFE through May 1stClick here for more information.

Good luck!


*This post contains affiliate links, through which purchases help to support this blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Ideas for #NationalGrilledCheeseDay

Few foods live up to comfort level status more than grilled cheese sandwiches. 

When I was growing up, grilled cheese and tomato soup was the lunch of champions and for us, it's a go-to Sunday night supper. 

Tip: Save yourself some money...check out the day-old stand at your grocery store. Who needs super-soft bread? You're cooking it anyway. 

Sometimes, the classic is best. But, if you want to take it up a notch, experiment with bread types and ingredients like these. 

1. Fig preserves and Fontina cheese.

2. Serrano ham with Manchego cheese.

3. Sliced apple, pulled pork, and sharp cheddar cheese.

4. Fat free refried beans (or black bean hummus), grilled chicken, salsa and jalapeño jack cheese. 

5. Mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry jelly, turkey, and American cheese.

6. Strawberries, turkey, and creamy goat cheese.

7. Mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, avocado and pesto.

8. Ham, pickles, Provolone cheese and mustard. 

9. Tuna salad with tomato and Swiss. 

10. Raspberry jam, prosciutto, and Gouda cheese.

Don't forget to mix up the bread...sourdough, rye, French, artisan, potato, white, wheat...it's all good. 

What's your favorite flavor combination?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Road Trip Essentials

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to start thinking about those summer road trips. 

Whether you're going to explore, visit family and friends, or spend time tooling around with no place in particular to be, it's a good idea to be prepared. 

The Señor and I love road trips. Clothes aside, here are some essentials that we're sure to pack and always keep in the car. 

1. Snacks and water 

For me, this is not negotiable. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. To keep away the hangry horrors, I pack snacks and then, I'm good to go; I'm a much happier co-pilot..and it's cheaper than stopping for convenience store snacks. If you pack a cooler, you have more snacking options, but it can be a space issue. 

2. Easy clean-up supplies

To keep the car relatively clean, I always pack a couple of plastic bags from the grocery store for trash and a packet of wet-wipes.

3. An electronic toll transponder
This is a time saver that is worth its weight in gold. States differ in their registration procedure, so if you're getting one for the first time, research before you go. We have one in each car. We also keep a few dollars in coins for parking meters, but the transponder is essential.

4. A road atlas

In the rare occasion that you have no cell service, a road atlas is good to have, and it makes it fun to pour over maps as you choose new paths to explore. 

5. A car emergency kit. 
We have AAA, so we're not overly concerned, but the triangle reflectors and jumper cables are nice to have. We also keep insurance information in the glove compartment. 

6. Downloaded podcasts, audio books, and/or a great playlist
When you and your drive partner have common interests, listening to a podcast serves as a great launchpad for later conversation. As an introvert, I appreciate the "quiet" time that allows me to recharge and simply enjoy sharing space with the one I love. 

7. A small notebook and pen. 
I use the notes feature on my phone for most things, but occasionally, paper and a pen comes in handy. We keep it in the glove compartment. 

8. Helpful apps
Everyone has their favorites, but here are the apps we use when we're out on the road: 

  • Yelp & Around Me
  • Hotel Tonight & Priceline
  • Gas Buddy
  • Groupon
9. Chargers
My car has USB chargers, but my husband's does not. As a result, we use dual USB chargers that go into the lighter port. For longer trips or working travel, we have a power inverter car charger, which will charge our laptops as well as USB charged devices. Our favorite mobile charger, though, is the Jackery, hands down. We each have one; it goes everywhere with us and we wouldn't trade it for anything. 

10. For good measure...
Outerwear of some sort is essential for me; whether it's a light sweater for chilly indoor air conditioning or a rain jacket for a pop-up shower, I make sure that I throw something in the car to keep me warm and dry. 

What are your road trip essentials?