The Art of Traveling Ultra Light

The Art of Traveling Ultra Light

One glance at me and you presumably think I am the type of girl that packs a full luggage filled with shoes, to accompany a second (maybe a third) filled with millions of outfits that most likely will never make a cameo. Well, you have me all wrong.

I wasn't always a master at the art of traveling light. Over the years I've learned to pack smart. Like many females, I used to pack a BIG ASS suitcase (sometimes 2) filled with tons of outfit options, shoes, and accessories. After countless trips, I started to master the art of packing and quickly realized that I didn't need copious amounts of options. Each trip I take, I learn more and more about editing my outfits and shoes. Plus, if you are traveling from place to place, it's pretty easy to move swiftly from one location to the next.

When I tell people that I traveled for 18-months straight with a 25" suitcase, they never believe me. I show them this photo, and their jaws drop in disbelief. I should also add that this was towards the end of our travels, with three months more to go. A few more clothing items made their way into my luggage. Hey, how can you not shot in Paris, Berlin or Barcelona? I even managed to fit a paella pan miraculously; my wheels were about to burst off, but it fit.

 Here  are my arsenal tips for traveling ultra light:

Check the weather before your trip. Why? This way you'll know what to pack. I used to never do this and sometimes I'd over pack the wrong items and under pack the needed items.

Select your day-of-travel outfit wisely. Why? Because it will create more efficiency when you pack your luggage. I'll typically wear heavier shoes (wedges or boots), a coat or jacket, and a hat. These items will save you space and weight in your luggage. (Note: In the video, I packed my light coat in my luggage since I had room to spare. I generally take it on the plane with me.)

Pre-select your outfits. Picking your outfits ahead of time will not only save you the headache of "what am I going to wear today?" but it will also allow you to pack clothing items that can be combined into multiple outfits. Style your outfits and snap a photo. This will help you keep an inventory of what you have and different outfit combinations. For me personally, I love dresses and jumpsuits. You can dress them up or down, layer them with cardigans, jackets and button downs.

Choose a color palette.  Pick a favorite item that you want to emphasize in your packing list. Then choose two other colors that compliment it well. These three colors will be your color palette for your packing list. I like to pick neutral items as a base like black, white or beige and this will help me decide what I pack.

Pick outfit items that can be repurposed. This is probably my favorite one. Pick out items that can be worn in various ways.  All of the tops should coordinate with all of the bottoms you pack. All outerwear items like a  cardigan and blazer should match everything else, all tops and bottoms. Layering is a great way to get lots of combinations from just a few items. Make sure your tops are thin enough to layer and have coordinating colors. 

Accessories to help change an outfit. Accessories are a great way to change up an outfit. Bring a belt that has enough holes so it can be worn at either the waist or the hip. I generally will back two colors: a brown, black or white belt, all depending on my outfits. Bring at least one piece of statement jewelry that can dress up your looks.

Know how to pack efficiently. The pack in roll method is what I have found to be the most efficient. You can neatly pack items that won't generally wrinkle as much.

Stick to a 25" suitcase or smaller. This will hinder you from over packing. There is really no need for anything bigger unless you are going somewhere where you are required to being bulky items like Iceland or Alaska in the winter or a ski holiday.


Filmed and Edited by: Valerie Fidan / Music by: Yanis Soundress Hypnotized (Dim Sum Remix) / Camera: Olympus E-PL7 with 14-42mm IIR Lens / Luggage: Samsonite Spin Tech Luggage 24" (Similiar item)

3 Tips on How-To Book Airfar

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Airfares may be up, but there are still airfare wars. The best ones go unadvertised. These are not last-minute bargains, but they are short-sale bargains. For example: In late March, JetBlue announced a round-trip fare of $97 between Boston and Houston, including tax. The next day, United slashed its fares out of Boston, offering $60 each way to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., or New Orleans. All cheap seats were gone in a blink. How to find these? Subscribe to airfare alert services or the airlines, themselves. Also, follow the breaking fare news on Twitter.

Consider Dates.

The days of the week you fly can influence ticket prices. Consider the day of the week--Wednesday is one of the three cheapest days; the others are Tuesday and Saturday; Friday and Sunday the most expensive days to travel. The cheapest day to travel internationally are a bit different. International travel deals are entirely based on availability and since most people travel over the weekend (Friday and Saturday); you will find the cheapest international airfare deals if you travel midweek, usually departing and returning on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Early morning flights

The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning. Yes, that means you have to get up at 4 am. Next best times are flights during/after lunch and flights at the dinner hour; and of course the absolute cheapest time to fly is on those limited routes with red eyes.

Timing is everything.

The best time to buy domestic airline tickets are on Tuesdays 3pm EST. Shopping on Tuesday is the best time to buy airline tickets, but be careful as most of these discounted airfare are pulled on Thursdays, so your probably paying too much if buying on the weekends.

Got a little anecdotal evidence of your own to add? Let's hear it in the comments.

Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome travel photos with #ramblist! As always, all opinions, as always, are my own. Photos taken with iPhone; edited in Camera+ and instagrammed.

How To Deal With Your Socially Alienating Gluten-Free Situation While Traveling

pão de queijo, gluten free, gluten-free pão de queijo, gluten-free food, gluten-free Brazilian bread Being gluten-free may be all the rage with the celebrity set, but that is one area of celeb life gluten-free folks do not want to imitate, by choice. Silly Instagram pics, limo rides and Louboutins? Yes. Having a weird dietary restriction that makes you stand out? Not so much. Sure, some folks are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon--but when you are not gluten-free by choice, one is faced with a abundance of issues.

Having a gluten intolerance hit me like a ton of bricks about five years ago, and transitioning to a gluten-free self was difficult. Quite frankly, I had enough to deal with, given that at the time I had just moved in with Gregg, I left my job to eventually start my own company, and coping with the devastation of my Grandfather, who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. Not to mention, the economy tanked.

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At the time, being 22, living in San Francisco and dealing with a mysterious autoimmune disease that prevented me from enjoying a slice of pizza Delfina or Acme Bakery Epi bread is no one’s idea of a good time. My world shifted dramatically. Social situation became challenging, and having to explain that I was now gluten-free started to become annoying. Over time I got used to this, and was ready to discuss/answer questions about how I eat, in a way that does not provoke conflict. (People pick up on vibes if you are annoyed!) I understand it can be annoying, but family, friends, and strangers are curious.

Luckily for me, San Francisco is very gluten-free friendly place. Finding an abundance of gluten-free fare, familiarizing myself with grocery stores like Rainbow Groceries, becoming a label reading ninja, and scouting out stores and shops that catered to my needs was fairly easy. Gluten-free items seemed to be more noticeable and easily available. Social situations seemed to not be as stressful.

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While I may go about embarrassing myself in restaurants with dozens of questions, allow me to enlighten folks everywhere on the best ways to deal with your potentially socially alienating gluten-free situation. Here are some tips:

Question everything. I was first embarrassed to ask millions of questions, but I knew I had to for my own health. Know that it is OK to ask how food is prepared,  if a restaurant or host can accommodate your dietary restriction, or at times having to educate people on what in the world a gluten intolerance is.

Plan ahead. When eating out, know what is available in your area, and plan ahead--especially if dining out with friends. Use a smartphone app or Yelp! and Foodspotting to locate restaurants that will accommodate your needs. This is great if you go out of town, too. Others often think I can just go to any restaurant and order a salad, but food I can get at most places is just not as nutritious as what I make at home. (Salads are great! But, I don't always want a boring salad!) Plus I have to ask so many questions to be sure of staying gluten-free is a pain. If you can find a place that meets the likings of everyone in your group, that would be ideal.

Scan menus ahead of time. I always scan menus ahead of time. If you do not see many choices, call ahead; in most cases, even with minimal choice on a menu, it is likely that the kitchen would be accommodating and adapt some of the dishes to suit your gluten-free requirements  Around the San Francisco Bay Area, many restaurants offer a gluten-free menu; sometimes you just need to ask.

Know how your food is prepared. When looking for a restaurant, be sure to find out how they typically prepare their foods and if they can accommodate your requests. Ethnic restaurants are oftentimes good choices because many of their foods are naturally gluten-free. Fast food restaurants are not a good bet—they serve meats (sometimes breaded and fried) and french fries that fit nicely into a gluten-free world? Perhaps not. Make sure that french fries are not being fried in the same oil as other breaded or gluten-filled foods. I always tend to get viciously ill after I eat french frieds at McDonalds; But perfectly fine at In-n-Out.

Make smart menu choices. At restaurants, I choose items that are likely to be gluten-free or that the kitchen-staff can easily modify to be gluten-free. Before ordering, ask your server specifics: how is the food prepared and what ingredients are used. You can even offer suggestions on how to season and prepare your meal.

Communicate. I generally make sure my server knows the severity of my condition before actually placing an order. Explain your restrictions and ask for their help. If you can not get their attention, ask to talk to the chef directly.

xxo, valerie

How do you handel social eating situations?

How-to Not Get Gluten Sick While Traveling in a Foreign Country

how-to-avoid-cross-contamination-when-traveling-in-a-foreign-country.jpg

gluten-free travel, gluten-free italy, gluten-free in italy, gluten-free rome [dropcap letter="I"]nternational travel, naturally presents an inherent challenge to gluten-free traveling because of the unfamiliarity, different cultural customs, and the ever-present language barrier. To carefully guard your health and avoid cross-contamination when traveling in a foreign country, know the right questions to ask, keywords to look out for, and be prepared to educate service staff when necessary. If you employ the skills that you have learned and practiced at home for avoiding cross-contamination, your chances for a safe experience abroad increase substantially.

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Never assume anything and always double-check everything.

Although, it can be challenging, get to know the names of ingredients you cannot have in that country for efficiently scanning menus. This is when dining translation cards come in handy. Ask how the foods you are considering will be prepared and be on the look out for techniques such as dusting and dredging meats with flour. This is when having a general knowledge of how many foods are prepared can be beneficial, particularly overseas.

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Minimally prepared and separated food.

Another good tactic for avoiding cross-contamination is to ask that foods be prepared minimally and separate from other ingredients that can be questionable. Confirm that the service staff understands exactly what you need, by having them repeat back to you in their words how they will prepare your meal. Even though, you may find certain cities to be quite accommodating to your needs and know how to avoid cross-contamination, you need to be prepared for the times when awareness of the issue is not what it should be.

Backcountry restaurants where the staff does not speak your language or cultures that are "people pleasures" like in Thailand or Laos are more prone to communication barriers. Regardless of where you are in the world, your strategy, and safety net boils down to how many questions you are willing and able to ask.

How do you prepare for gluten-free travelling in foreign countries? Share with us below or on Facebook.