Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.
Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.
Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.
The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"
Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.
Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."
Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."
ChappyWrap blankets are plush, reversible, machine-washable and the only blanket you’ll ever want to snuggle under again.
ChappyWrap Blanket Review
Price and Where to Buy: The original size blankets are available on ChappyWrap’s website for $135. Smaller sizes are available starting at $55.
How the ChappyWrap Blanket Rates
Comfort: 10/10. The original size blankets are generously oversized, measuring 60″ x 80″. No more cold feet from a short blanket. Made from a cotton/acrylic/polyester blend, the ChappyWrap blankets are incredibly soft, cozy, and warm.
Durability: 10/10. The ChappyWrap blankets feel as soft and warm as fleece or cashmere, but don’t suffer from the same shrinking, pilling, or fuzz issues. You can wash and dry these in the machine without worries, so feel free to bring these on vacation with you or let the dog lay on it.
Style: 10/10. ChappyWrap blankets are gorgeous. They’re available in a wide variety of stylish patterns and colors to match your decor. Don’t miss the new places collection with designs that pay homage to destinations like Maine, Cape Cod, or San Francisco.
Final Verdict: Replace all your old, pilled blanket with a stylish ChappyWrap that will last for decades and look just like new.
How can America, home of the KFC Double Down, Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, and Carl’s Jr. Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich, not have these amazing foreign fast-food chains within its borders? Here are 10 delicious and forbidden fast-food chains that we wish would move stateside—ASAP.
Crossbody bags are the ideal daypack for travel—they are more secure and foil pickpockets better than over-the-shoulder purses or backpacks, and they don’t immediately mark you as a tourist. The best crossbody bags for travel are ultra-lightweight or have anti-theft features, like these nine great bags.
Travelon Anti-Theft Crossbody Messenger
Travelon’s versatile Anti-Theft LTD Crossbody Messenger can be worn as a crossbody bag, or you can detach the strap and carry it as a clutch. Either way, it’s lightweight (weighing just over nine ounces) thanks to its travel-friendly and easy-to-clean stain-resistant nylon exterior. Like all Travelon bags, this one is designed to be hard to steal, with slash-resistant construction and locking compartments. There’s even RFID-blocking material built into the credit card and passport slots. An internal clip holds your keys securely, which is perfect for travel.
A sharp, sophisticated crossbody optimized to stay in style season after season is a splurge any woman should be willing to make. Handmade in Tuscany, this crossbody from M.Gemi is detailed with sharp linear accents and dressed in rich tumbled leather. It’s a statement piece for sure—and one that’s absolutely worth it.
Timbuk2’s Messenger Bag is a classic for a reason: It has a padded, air-mesh strap to prevent shoulder pain (even if you overpack it), padded compartments for electronics, specially designed flaps that help keep out rain, an internal water bottle pocket, and a removable cross-strap.
Pacsafe’s Metrosafe Anti-Theft Crossbody Sling Backpack is a unisex option that holds a ton (including electronics in a special padded organizer pocket). Although lightweight, this bag has a hidden stainless steel wire embedded in the strap, which prevents thieves from slashing it. There’s also a security buckle built in that can be attached to something solid (like a table leg) so you can put it down without worry during a meal.
Never dig around in the bottom of your bag for an elusive item again with the Baggallini Big Zipper Crossbody Bag. This purse has five external pockets (including three secure zipper ones) and multiple interior compartments to keep everything organized. The nylon fabric is lightweight and water-resistant, so it will stand up to the rigors of travel.
Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Slim Double Zip Crossbody Bag
As its name implies, this bag is designed to keep your stuff safe, with anti-theft features such as a security flap, steel-reinforced strap guards, and RFID-blocking pockets. You can even fit this slim-profile crossbody bag under your jacket for extra protection.
AmeriBag’s Healthy Back Bags have a unique, ergonomic design that contours to your back and distributes weight evenly. The microfiber version is the lightest and is also water-resistant. Inside, there are spots for your water bottle, pens, cards, and anything else you need.
Sechunk Cotton Canvas Leather Messenger Crossbody Bag
For days when you need to carry just a little bit more, the Sechunk Cotton Canvas Leather Messenger Crossbody bag is just 8.46 inches by 1.57 inches by 10.24 inches, so it fits all without being oversized. Fill the leather-trim canvas bag with all your in-flight essentials.
The Dagne Dover Andra Crossbody is one of the trendiest crossbody bags on our list and comes in a variety of colors. This minimalist bag has lots of organizational pockets to store all your belongings on the go. Wear it as a shoulder bag or across your body.
Protect yourself from being electronically pickpocketed with these RFID-blocking wallets that look like normal wallets.
Tumi Alpha Global Wallet
Made out of a water-resistant tech fabric, Tumi’s Alpha Global Wallet will protect your stuff from both rain and RFID thieves. Inside, everything stays organized with a currency pouch, an ID window, pockets, and card slots.
Use Travelon’s RFID-Blocking Wristlet Clutch as a wristlet, clutch, or wallet—the strap detaches so you have options. Made out of a nylon fabric, this wallet is lightweight and easy to clean. It features four card slots and a zippered pocket, plus a main compartment that’s large enough to hold your phone.
Made out of Vera Bradley’s iconic quilted microfiber and topped with her fun seasonal prints, this RFID wallet will stylishly protect your information. Snap and zipper closures keep everything secure, and there are seven RFID-protected card slots, one ID window, and two slip pockets inside.
Made out of 100 percent leather, Timberland’s RFID-Blocking Trifold Security Wallet is just as rugged as its famous boots. Available in black, brown, and cognac, the wallet’s leather ages with use to look even better over time. The trifold design has six card slots, two slip pockets, an ID window, and two cash pockets.
For the perfectly sized RFID-blocking wallet, look no further than Bellroy’s Hide & Seek. Available in two sizes (LO for bills shorter than 74mm and HI for bills taller than 74mm), this wallet holds up to 12 cards. There’s also a hidden coin pouch and designated section for business cards. Made out of an environmentally certified leather, the wallet is covered under a three-year warranty.
Minimalists will love this ultra-sleek, RFID-blocking card case that can hold up to 12 cards (plus cash via the external elastic strap). Like to change up your wallet to match your outfit? The case’s color plates can easily be changed out to update your look.
Keep your coins, bills, and cards neatly organized with Fossil’s Logan Leather RFID Bifold Wallet. This compact wallet hides plenty of storage space, including a zipper pouch for coins, one ID window, and five card slots. This wallet comes in lots of fun colors and patterns like hearts, colorful stripes, or rose gold.
Just bringing the essentials with you? Keep everything streamlined with Herschel Supply Co.’s Unisex Charlie RFID Wallet. This slim cardholder has three card slots, plus one in the middle for cash or extra storage. It weighs just one ounce, so you really can bring it everywhere.
Heavy shoes or boots can weigh down your feet and legs, making you even more tired and achy after a long day on your feet than you have to be. Swap them out for these lightweight boots and shoes that will make you feel like you’re walking on air.
HOKA Carbon X
You don’t have to sacrifice cushioning and support for a light weight. HOKA’s Carbon X running shoe has a carbon fiber plate to help propel you faster plus plenty of cushioning underfoot. These shoes were worn to break the 100K world record time, so they’re practically guaranteed to help you with your 5K time.
For lightweight sandals, look no further than Havaianas. These iconic Brazilian sandals are made out of a feather-light rubber. Unlike cheap flip-flops, the Flash Urban Plus Sandals have a cushioned footbed, a unique textured sole (to prevent slipping), and a back strap to keep the sandals secure. The Flash Urban Plus has a fun leaf design that will be very on-trend for summer.
Most running shoes are made out of plastic, but Allbirds is here to change that with its new Dasher shoe. The sole is made from a lightweight sugarcane, and the top from Allbirds’ signature renewable eucalyptus and merino wool blend. The sleek shoes have plenty of cushioning, a sockless design, and lots of arch support. Wear the Dashers in good conscience, as Allbirds offsets all the carbon emissions from the shoe’s production.
Made out of Rothy’s signature sustainable knit, these Chelsea boots barely weigh anything—and can be worn straight out of the box without suffering from blisters during the break-in period. Removable insoles add extra support and cushioning to further prevent fatigue.
Bzees Tease Boots have a lightweight secret—the outsoles are infused with small air bubbles. The rest of the boot is made from a stretchy fabric that’s lighter than leather. Remove the free-foam footbed from the inside to save on even more weight, or leave it in for extra cushioning.
Lightweight hiking boots that are also waterproof are hard to find, but Vasque’s Breeze checks both boxes with style. (Click here for the men’s style.) The Gore-Tex Extended Comfort waterproof membrane prevents water from getting inside the boots, while the lining wicks away any sweat-related moisture from the inside. Vibram soles give you plenty of grip to keep you surefooted both on and off the trail.
Clarks’ Step Allena Go features a foam-layered footbed that provides cushioning without weight. A slip-on design adds style and convince, and these neutral shoes will work with a variety of different outfits.
We asked experts—the spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) as well as the team physician for the Chicago Bulls, White Sox, and Joffrey Ballet—about shoes that are good for your feet. Here’s what shoes they recommend you pack on your next walking-intensive trip.
“Healthy travel shoes should have arch support, a thicker sole, and shock absorption. A breathable fabric is a bonus. Sneakers should be your go-to when traveling. A casual sneaker should do the trick without weighing down your bags,” says APMA Podiatrist and spokesperson Dr. Priya Parthasarathy.
“If you have to do open-toed, avoid flip-flops and do a more supportive sandal. Something thicker, with arch support and a depression in the heel. My favorite sandals for travel are Birkenstocks.”
Dr. Kamran S. Hamid, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon for Midwest Orthopedics at Rush and team physician for the Chicago Bulls, White Sox, and Joffrey Ballet also weighed in.
“In general, the best shoes for traveling are those that have adequate support and are comfortable. Hoka shoes are a newer brand that are tremendously light while still providing great support and cushioning. Additionally, they have a slight curvature in the front and back of the shoe which takes some stress off of the middle of the foot for long periods of walking. These are great shoes for long-distance runners that we have repurposed for patients with foot/ankle arthritis or pain.”
How the Tracksmith Session Shorts and Harrier Long Sleeve Rate
Comfort: 10/10. The Session Shorts are made out of an extra-soft Veloce knit fabric that’s lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable, and UV protective. The anti-microbial liner won’t chafe or retain odors, making these perfect for travel. The Harrier Long Sleeve is made out of a merino/nylon blend that will keep you sweat and smell free in the spring or fall.
Features: 9/10. The shorts have a perfectly-sized zipper pocket on the side that can hold keys or gels.
Design: 9/10. At 3.25″, the shorts hit the sweet spot for length (not too short and not too long).
Style: 10/10. With a discreet logo and a sleek silhouette, you can wear this outfit out on runs or to run errands.
Final Verdict: Tracksmith’s Harrier Long Sleeve and Session Shorts are the perfect outfit for shoulder season runs.
The VSSL First Aid Kit contains everything you might need in an emergency, and it’s small and lightweight enough that you can always have it on you.
VSSL First Aid Kit Review
Price and Where to Buy: At the time of writing, the VSSL First Aid Kit was on sale for $94 on VSSL’s website.
How the VSSL First Aid Kit Rates
Usefulness: 10/10. The VSSL First Aid Kit is thoughtfully stocked with everything you might need in an emergency, including an LED flashlight, a compass, bandages, a whistle, a thermometer, and more.
Durability: 10/10. The VSSL is made out of military-grade aluminum, so it’s tough and waterproof. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty.
Portability: 10/10. The emergency supplies are packed inside the flashlight, and the whole kit weighs less than a pound. It’s less than 2 inches in diameter and is easy to keep in your glove box or backpack.
Style: 10/10. The unique VSSL design is perfect. It’s shaped like a flashlight, with the flashlight at the top, the compass on the bottom, and all the supplies inside. The bright red color makes it easy to spot when you need it.
Final Verdict: Hikers, travelers, and drivers should keep the VSSL First Aid kit nearby at all times.
Bring the cafe to you with the best coffee makers and coffee delivery subscriptions. Your morning cup has never tasted better.
The Best Coffee Makers
The best coffee makers will make your drink just how you like it—in just a few minutes.
Dash Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Cold brew is less acidic and smoother than regular coffee—not to mention a delicious treat on a hot day—but it usually takes more than 12 hours to steep and make. When you want cold brew instantaneously, Dash’s Cold Brew Coffee Maker has you covered. In just five minutes, this easy-to-use coffee maker will brew up to 42 ounces of cold brew or 16 servings of cold brew concentrate.
You can brew light, medium, or dark strength with the twist of a dial. The gadget is easy to clean as well—just run water through the system.
The AeroPress is a favorite among serious coffee drinkers, and it’s surprisingly easy and quick to use—plus this tiny gadget takes up zero counter space in your kitchen. The AeroPress can make regular coffee as well as espresso shots, and clean-up takes seconds. The included paper microfilters filter out all the grounds and grit, or you can use a more eco-friendly reusable stainless steel filter.
Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter
Brew a great cup of coffee in less than five minutes with Bodum’s easy pour-over coffee maker. Available in a 17-ounce, 34-ounce, or 51-ounce carafe size, it makes exactly as much coffee as you need. You’ll never have to buy another coffee filter again—the kit includes a reusable stainless steel mesh filter that filters better than paper and helps extract the aromatic oils from the beans.
Freshly ground coffee just tastes better, which is why the coffee you get at a cafe feels like more of a treat than what you make at home. Capresso’s CoffeeTEAM TS makes it easy to have fresh-ground coffee without all the hassle of grinding your own beans—simply pour whole beans into the gadget’s air-tight hopper (so it doubles as a storage spot for your beans) and press a button to brew the coffee. The built-in conical burr grinder will perfectly measure and grind the beans for you before making you an amazing cup of coffee.
This coffee machine is programmable, so you can choose your grind settings, the number of cups, and the time that you want it to brew.
Wake up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee with Hamilton Beach’s 2-Way Brewer. Just add the beans the night before and program the coffee maker to start at whatever time you like, and it will automatically have a cup of coffee waiting for you when you wake up. Sleeping in? The warming plate will keep the coffee hot until you get to it.
To save on dishes and clean-up time, you can brew directly into your mug—or into the 12-cup carafe when you’re making it for multiple people.
Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Make your own espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes with the touch of a button with this coffee maker from Mr. Coffee. The 15-bar pump system brews rich and strong espresso shots, and the automatic milk frother makes creating foam super simple. Just fill the easy-to-clean water and milk reservoirs and pick the drink you want from the touch panel, and the machine will do the rest.
Hawaiian coffee is famous for a reason—it’s smooth and delicious. Treat yourself to 100 percent Kona coffee from the Hawaii Coffee Company, or to the more affordable (but still easy to drink) 10 percent Kona Blend. The company is currently offering $5 shipping and a 10 percent off coupon on all orders.
Take a virtual tour around the U.S. via your taste buds with Trade’s coffee subscription service. Take a short quiz about your tastes and preferences, and Trade will help you discover new flavors and roasters from across the country. You’ll get great coffee as often as you want it, plus help support small coffee roasters.
At the time of writing, Trade was offering 30 percent off your first bag, plus free shipping.
A Driftaway Coffee subscription starts with a four-profile tasting kit. You’ll rate each coffee in your kit, and Driftaway will use that data to match you to your perfect coffees for future deliveries.
The coffees are sourced from small coffee farms, and each delivery will include a story about the origin of the coffee.
Never run out of coffee (or tea) again with Intelligentsia’s subscription service. Choose the amount you want delivered and how often, and if you want whole beans or pre-ground. Browse the Intelligentsia coffee or tea offerings and pick the ones you like, or tell Intelligentsia which flavor notes you want, and it’ll pair you with the perfect beans.
Coffee is available from around the world, with a focus on ones that are currently in season. Prefer cold brew? Try Intelligentsia’s Cold Coffee Box, a naturally sweet blend of Ethiopian and Latin American coffee that can be drunk straight out of the box.
Don’t want to commit? You can buy bags of coffee without the subscription, and Intelligentsia will ship it to you for free.
goodboybob roasts its coffee every Tuesday and ships it out every Wednesday, so your beans are guaranteed to be fresh. The classic subscription starts from $15 per delivery and can be sent out every two or four weeks, and you can choose how many bags, which coffees, and which roast you want.
Or treat yourself to the rare subscription, which starts at $130 per month. This delivery features hard-to-find, award-winning coffees that are worth the price tag. These roasts are shipped in a custom, reusable wooden box and come in jars to keep the beans extra fresh.
Spice up your morning coffee routine with Atlas’ Coffee of the Month Club. The service curates micro-lot coffees from around the world and sends you a fresh 12-ounce bag each month. Your box will include freshly roasted coffee beans, a flavor notes guide, a fun postcard from the coffee’s country of origin, and brewing tips. You’ll expand your palate and discover new coffees that you won’t find in a store.
Bringing your own food on the plane makes perfect sense, both for your taste buds and your wallet. But whether you’re packing your own snacks or buying a gate-side meal to-go, you should avoid these seven foods—for your sake and those around you.
Food You Can’t Finish
If you decide that a long flight is the time to tuck in to a special treat, more power to you. Just make sure you have time to finish it—or that you’re okay with throwing it away before you land. In most countries, you’ll have to declare any food (even packaged items) before entering, and something that you’ve opened up might not make it in.
Fresh fruits and vegetables usually won’t be allowed in, either, due to agricultural concerns. (The U.S. Customs and Border Control Agency offers this helpful guide, but other countries will have different rules.)
Some people will tell you to bring a cup of noodles or other instant soup aboard a flight and ask the flight attendant for boiling water during meal service. Although a mug of hot soup may sound enticing, it’s a bad idea to keep a cup of scalding liquid near your lap when turbulence could strike at any second.
Plus, many prepackaged ramen cups have close to half of your daily recommendation of sodium, which certainly won’t help you fight jet bloat.
Crunch… crunch… crunch. Put down the chips or raw vegetables—your seatmate does not want to listen to you chew. Crunchy foods can sound louder than a jet engine when you’re basically chewing right in your seatmate’s ear. Remember that the person next to you has nowhere to go, so save the noisy foods for when you land.
If you’d struggle to tackle what you’re eating on a full-sized table with actual metal utensils, don’t attempt it on a tiny tray table with flimsy plastic forks and minimal elbow room. Airplanes aren’t given a deep cleaning between most flights, so you might be leaving crumbs or other leftovers behind for the next occupant of your seat.
If you’re tempted to bring hardboiled eggs, tuna fish, or other strong-smelling food aboard, stop and think about whether everyone trapped in the small cabin with you wants to smell what you’re eating. (The airlines are big offenders on this one, too—often offering a fish option at dinnertime.)
Grabbing a fast food meal can be the cheapest and easiest airport option, but it’s really not the best choice for flying. A greasy meal ticks both the “smelly” and “messy” options, and the often-high sodium content of fast food options contributes to jet bloat.
Tiny packets of complimentary peanuts have mostly disappeared from planes due to the growing number of peanut allergies in the world. Packing a peanut butter sandwich or bag of nuts isn’t just inconsiderate—it could also be dangerous if you have a severe allergy sufferer on your flight.
Make your house work for you with these smart home devices that will save you time, effort, and money. From a robotic trash can to a WiFi extender, these gadgets will make staying in just a little easier.
Townew Self-Sealing Trash Can
We don’t yet have a robot that takes out the trash, but technology has advanced to the point of a self-sealing and self-changing trash can. All you have to do is press a button and the TOWNEW trash can will seal the full bag (which puts an immediate stop to any odors, unlike tying a bag). Pull it out, and the TOWNEW closes the lid and automatically pulls a new trash bag into place.
A built-in motion sensor automatically opens the lid as you approach to throw away trash, so you never need to touch the can.
Make vacuuming a chore that you look forward to (or at least don’t dread) with Tineco’s Pure One S12 Smart Cordless Stick Vacuum. This super lightweight vacuum comes with two rechargeable batteries (that can be charged simultaneously with the included wall-mounted dock), so you’ll never have to wait while one battery charges. Not having to deal with the hassle of a cord makes vacuuming take much less time, and the trademarked iLoop Smart Sensor Technology automatically adjusts suction power so you don’t have to switch settings when going from carpet to hardwood.
The vacuum comes with a variety of attachments (like a dusting brush and crevice tool) that makes it simple and satisfying to vacuum everything from your ceiling to your sofa.
Best of all, the Tineco has a self-cleaning filter tool that doesn’t require you to rinse it out in the sink like most other bagless vacuums.
Does your Wi-Fi give up on you every time you move to a certain spot in your house, or someone else logs on? Never suffer through a buffered video chat or painfully slow movie again, with the 3-pack Wi-Fi System from eero. The system is made up of three tiny, discreet boxes that you place unobtrusively around your house to blanket up to 5,000 square feet in fast and reliable Wi-Fi.
eero works with your existing internet provider and is incredibly easy to set up (the plug-and-play setup takes less than 10 minutes). The system includes free encryption and other security measures that are updated automatically to keep your data safe.
Tackling some home improvement projects? Make measuring a million times easier with the Cuibt Smart Virtual Reality Measuring Tool. Instead of fumbling around trying to hold a measuring tape and write down your measurements, this smart home gadget automatically saves measurements straight to your phone. The Cubit uses dual lasers to take ultra-accurate measurements, and the wheel measurement feature makes it easy to size up irregular objects and corners.
The Cubit’s app works like a free interior designer—snap photos of your space, use Cubit to measure it, and then play around with your project until it looks exactly how you want it. Then Cubit will provide step-by-step directions to implement your project in real life, making it easy to do everything from creating a gallery wall to hanging a shelf.
Never lock yourself out again with the Lockly Secure Pro smart lock. This smart home gadget is easy to install on your existing door (and comes in a deadbolt or latch version) and can be opened via Bluetooth, keypad, or with your fingerprint.
Lockly’s patented keypad design switches the placement of the digital numbers with each use, so even if someone is watching, they’ll never be able to guess your pin.
You can set one-time codes for deliveries, workers, or guests, or even let in someone remotely via the app.
Arlo’s Pro 3 Floodlight Camera keeps an eye on your property for you. The bright, motion-activated light will instantly illuminate a wide area when it senses movement. The built-in security camera with a 160-degree viewing angle captures full color, 2K HDR footage (even at night) so you can clearly zoom in on objects or faces. A hidden speaker allows for two-way audio, so you can hear and speak to visitors.
For extra security, you can program the built-in smart siren to be triggered remotely or in case of an emergency.
The floodlight camera is easy to set up and includes a rechargeable battery so you don’t need to worry about wires.
Manage your home with the Amazon Echo Show 8. With an 8-inch HD screen you can set up the Echo Show anywhere in your home and use it all day. The Echo Show 8 lets you make video calls, stream the news, listen to podcasts/audiobooks, control all your smart devices (including security cameras, lights, and thermostats), display photo slideshows, give you step-by-step cooking directions, display your to-do list, check the weather/traffic, and more.
Concerned about privacy? You can disconnect the device’s microphones and camera with one press of a button, or use the built-in shutter to cover the camera.
If you always secretly wanted The Clapper but never got one, you can now achieve your turning-off-the-lights-without-getting-out-of-bed dream with the Phillips Hue Smart Light. These Bluetooth-enabled bulbs can be turned on and off or dimmed via voice command with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or the Google Assistant.
I can’t tell you how to get turndown service every night, but I can show you the best ways to make your bedroom feel like a hotel room. It’s easier than ever to find the same sheets, mattresses, and more that your favorite hotels use. Follow these tips to get five-star-worthy sleep every night.
Recreate Your Favorite Hotel Bed
Want to recreate the feel of your last Marriott stay at home? You can buy the same experience at Marriott’s online shop, which sells the same brand of mattresses, bedding sets, and pillows that are used in the hotels.
Want to find your favorite hotel’s beds at a more affordable price? It’s fairly easy to find what mattress the property uses with a quick online search. For example, Westin touts its world-famous Heavenly Bed, but it’s a widely known secret that the Heavenly Bed is just a Simmons Beautyrest mattress, which you can find for much cheaper at places like Wayfair.com. Added bonus: Wayfair allows you to return mattresses for free for up to 100 days after you buy it, so you can really sleep on your decision.
Discovered your new favorite pillow on a hotel’s pillow menu? Find out which pillow it was using DOWNLITE’s hotel bedding finder search engine. The brand makes pillows for a number of different hotel chains, so you can find the exact model you want and then purchase your pillow on Amazon. Or go directly to the hotel’s website—like Marriott, many other brands have their own bedding shops.
Even if you don’t splurge on a new mattress, topping off your old bed with luxurious new sheets can transform your sleep. The majority of luxury hotels use all-white bedding for that crisp and clean look, so emulate that style for upscale impact. Look for high-thread-count sheets made from percale, which tends to feel lighter and airier than other materials. The Company Store’s 400-Thread Count Supmia Percale Sheet Set is made from American-grown cotton that feels amazing—the set has an option for an extra-deep fitted sheet so you don’t have to fight with a fitted sheet that slides off the corners of your mattress in the middle of the night.
Luxury Hotels use duvets rather than old-fashioned comforters—this helps rooms look cleaner and more pulled-together, and allows just the cover to be washed in between guests, rather than the whole comforter. Garnet Hill’s Signature Down-Alternative All-Season Comforter is the perfect choice, thanks to its cruelty- and allergy-free filling, which gives you weight without overheating. This duvet manages to be light in the summer months but still cozy during the winter.
Top off the bed with an extra blanket for warmth (or just for style). Garnet Hill’s Twisted-Rib Cashmere Throw is made from an indulgent 100 percent cashmere knit that’s sourced from purebred Kashmir goats in Mongolia to make the softest blanket I’ve ever felt. For something a little lighter, The Company Store’s Cotton/Bamboo Blanket is the perfect layer for summer months when most other blankets are too hot.
The best hotels have blackout curtains that leave your room pitch black, no matter the time of day. Splurge on remote-controlled blackout roller shades that can open and close without you needing to get out of bed. Or, for the more frugal and less lazy among us, a good pair of blackout curtains will not only block light but also insulate the room in winter and keep the heat of the sun out in summer.
Hang a calming photo across from your bed to help you unwind and clear your head before going to sleep. Photo-printing site Fracture will print your photos on glass for a luxury look with no frame required.
Add a plant that doesn’t require much light or maintenance to your bedside table—studies have shown that plants can help purify the air, helping you breathe better at night.
Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2019. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
Bulky jackets are the bane of cold-weather travelers. If your coat isn’t taking up precious space in your carry-on, you’ll have to lug it around the airport to avoid sweating profusely and looking like a nervous security risk. Here are 11 of the best packable, lightweight winter jackets for travelers that will keep you feeling warm and looking stylish on the road.
Patagonia Women’s Vosque 3-in-1 Parka
Looking for a packable jacket that works for every part of your trip, from the mountains to the city? Patagonia’s Vosque 3-in-1 Parka has it all. The outer shell looks like a stylish tweed jacket, and can be worn alone or paired with the insulated liner for really cold days. The liner can be worn alone and works well when you’re active. The parka uses 100-g THERMOLITE eco insulation, an environmentally friendly material (it’s 92 percent recycled) that’s lightweight but still super warm.
The Arc’teryx Men’s Atom LT Hoody is a packable jacket that delivers the warmth needed in a whole host of situations and environments. Insulated with 60 grams of lightweight, water-resistant Coreloft™, this hoody maintains thermal performance if exposed to moisture, and compresses into the tiny nooks of your backpack when not in use.
Most easy-to-pack winter jackets look like activewear and are tough to pull off on a city trip, but L.L.Bean’s Quilted Riding Jacket is the ultimate winter coat that can do both. Its classic design goes with any outfit and won’t make you look like a tourist who just wandered into town off a hike. Thanks to the insulated synthetic lining, it will keep you warm in -15 degrees F (with moderate activity). Want to layer this jacket? It has adjustable waist tabs that let you customize the fit based on what you’re wearing.
The ThermoBall Eco Hoodie, available for women and men, packs down incredibly small thanks to PrimaLoft technology that traps heat within small air pockets. This winter jacket is water-resistant and made of recycled polyester and nylon.
Omni-Heat lining and insulation give Columbia’s Mighty Lite Jacket plenty of warmth. It comes in a range of colors and can be found for a surprisingly low price when on sale. This lightweight coat won’t add much bulk to your bag and has a handy interior security pocket to stow valuables.
If you’re looking for an affordable and packable down jacket, try Uniqlo’s Ultra Light Down Parka, which folds up into its own handy carrying pouch so you can easily slip it into your suitcase. The hood and water-repellent fabric will protect you in rain or snow showers, and the range of colors will suit any style.
Based in the snow sports mecca of Aspen, Colorado, since 1947, Obermeyer knows a thing or two about cold and wet weather. It’s developed a patented HydroBlock Sport fabric tested to resist nearly 400 inches of rain (and roll stain-causing liquids right off). Find it in the Tuscany II Jacket, which also uses another unique Obermeyer material: Thermore Classic insulation, which is thin and light but still warm. The hood is removable and adjustable, as is the faux fur trim.
Patagonia’s PrimaLoft Nano Puff Hoody (available for men and women) is the lightest jacket I’ve ever owned. The women’s version weighs just 10 ounces (the men’s is 12.8 ounces), yet is ultra-warm and waterproof. Unlike some other methods of insulation, you can feel good about this jacket: Its 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco is more than 50 percent recycled material.
The North Face’s versatile Arrowood Triclimate Jacket (available for women and men) is a three-in-one coat that’s perfect for travel: You can wear the waterproof, windproof shell or comfy inner fleece liner by themselves, or combine them to make a warm winter jacket. The hood, wrist cuffs, and hem cinch cord are all adjustable for a better fit. This breathable coat is designed for hiking and other outdoor activities.
The Pack It Down Jacket can be folded up into the right-hand pocket, making it one of the best packable down jackets for women. The fabric is weather-resistant, and the 700-fill-power goose down is certified to the Responsible Down Standard. You can remove the hood to further cut down on weight and space.
The Cerium LT Hoody from Arcteryx is incredibly lightweight—just 10.8 ounces—yet it’s surprisingly warm thanks to its combination of goose down and synthetic insulation. (Note that on rainy or extremely cold days, it’s best combined with a weatherproof shell.) The Cerium LT Hoody compresses into its own stuff sack for easy packing.
Caroline Morse always packs lightweight winter jackets for travel to cold destinations. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for style and travel photos from around the world.
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.
We’ve all been there: After a trip, you find ticket stubs, room keys, and other souvenirs in your pockets and bags for weeks. It seems like a shame to toss all those memories away, but keeping them in a box just adds to the clutter. The enforced time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is a good excuse to finally get all your travel mementos in order. Here are eight cool ways to display your travel keepsakes.
There are plenty of decorative binders out there that don’t look like you stole them from the office supply closet. Find one you love, or create a personalized cover for one using travel photos. Then, take all of your paper mementos—postcards, brochures, restaurant menus, etc.—and punch holes in them. Soon you’ll have a library full of binders from all your trips. Find instructions here.
Want to remember that beautiful white-sand or black-sand beach forever? Scoop up a little bit to take home with you (and maybe some shells, too) if that’s permitted at your beach. Use your souvenir sand to partially fill up a glass mason jar. Insert a photo in the jar and maybe some shells or other memorabilia. See how to do it (and how to protect the photo in the jar) here.
Make a Ticket Collage
Put your tickets on display by making a collage. You can use ones from events, flights, and more. Best of all, it’s easy and cheap to do. All you need is a frame and a map. Use the map as a solid background, and then overlay your tickets on top. See some examples here.
Got bulkier objects that you want to show off, like coins or even an old passport? Get a shadow box, a type of frame that lets you fit way more than a photo inside. Find ideas and instructions here.
If you’d rather get crafty on your phone or computer, turn your travel snaps into a photo book from Shutterfly. You can customize photo sizes, layouts, captions, backgrounds, and more, and then add a memorabilia pocket to store boarding passes, tickets, or other mementos.
If you ask nicely, most hotels will let you keep those cheap plastic room keys. Once you’ve stockpiled a few, all you need is some magnetic tape to turn your keys into refrigerator magnets. Now every time you look at your fridge, you’ll be reminded of all of the amazing places you’ve stayed. You can also create magnets out of other memorabilia, such as casino chips, as shown here.
Wound up with a handful of foreign currency that you can’t bear to throw away? Grab some of these fillable ornaments and add in your coins for a sentimental decoration.
This project requires some crafting skills, but the end result will be more than worth it. Basically, photocopy and enlarge your favorite stamps from your passport, and transfer them onto wooden panels. Here’s what it looks like when it’s all done (plus detailed instructions).
Tired of throwing away money and generating waste on single-use items like Q-tips or plastic wrap? Save money and the planet with these reusable alternatives for disposable items.
Collapsible Reusable Straws
No one wants to be caught asking for a plastic straw in public, but carrying around a reusable straw seems cumbersome—unless you get this set from Amazon. Made from stainless steel, these reusable straws collapse down into their own carrying case, so you have an easy and sanitary way to keep an eco-friendly straw on you at all times.
A to-go paper cup in a cardboard sleeve from your local coffee shop might be slightly more convenient than bringing your own, but it has its downsides—like cooling off almost immediately, burning your hand, and sloshing out the top. Break your disposable drink habit by bringing this coffee mug from Hydro Flask with you. It has a spill-proof lid and will keep your drink at the perfect temperature all day.
Even a Q-tip has a reusable alternative. LastSwab looks and works just like a disposable cotton swab, but is made to be used over and over again. Made from durable and eco-friendly materials, the LastSwab can be easily cleaned using soap and water. It’s available in two versions—one for cleaning and one for makeup. Both come in a protective case to keep your swab clean in between uses.
Plastic wrap can be incredibly usefully for saving leftovers, but it’s also incredibly wasteful. Ecomended’s Food Wax Wrap is a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap. Made from a cotton fabric coated with beeswax and jojoba oil, these wraps can be cut to any size and formed around any dish/bowl/cup to create a seal by using the warmth of your hand. Unlike plastic wrap, these wax wraps can be washed and reused, and come in fun prints like avocado or bees.
Made from bamboo, one roll of these reusable paper towels will last you about three to six months of regular use. The towels absorb more liquid than a regular paper towel and won’t tear. Simply toss them in the washing machine after each use.
Reusable, durable, microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and freezer-safe—Stasher’s silicone bags have some clear advantages over plastic zip-lock bags. The Stasher bags come in a variety of sizes, including sandwich, snack, pocket, and half-gallon. All of the bags are made from non-toxic platinum silicone and contain no BPA, PVC, or latex.
Single-use plastic floss picks are terrible for the environment, but they make flossing easier than standard dental floss. Get the benefits of a plastic floss pick without the environmental impact with quip’s Metal Refillable Floss. The metal dispenser holds floss that you’ll refill just once every three months, and makes it easy to get to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth.
Eliminate waste and chemicals from your laundry with these Whitmor Dryer Balls, which replace fabric softener sheets. Made from non-toxic materials, these small balls have soft spikes to fluff and soften your laundry, preventing static cling and wrinkles.
Need an alternative to disposable aluminum foil and parchment paper? Try AmazonBasics’ Silicone Baking Mats. These slim mats are oven-safe up to 480 degrees and replace cooking sprays, oils, aluminum foil by preventing food from sticking. The mats are easy to clean and reuse.
Don’t want to use a plastic water bottle but hate cleaning your reusable water bottle? LARQ’s self-cleaning water bottle does the work for you—simply press the button on the lid to activate a UV light, which will clean and purify the water bottle and the water inside.