Duffel Bags

While everyone relies on wheeled suitcases when traveling, I personally adore duffel bags. Between my height disadvantage and the fact that I have almost zero upper body strength, stowing suitcases in overhead bin is not an easy task for me. Duffel bags, on the other hand, have no wheels and no hard parts to add to the weight, and are therefore easy for me to just toss over. They’re also lighter to carry around and can easy be squeezed into small spaces, even the larger ones.

Don’t get me wrong; suitcases have certain advantages too and I understand why lots of people prefer them. In fact, I still sometimes travel with a suitcase. Most of the time though, duffel bags are best for my traveling needs.

If you’re like me or if you simply feel like swapping out your bulky suitcase for a handy duffel, here are five fantastic ones to consider (including two from one of my favorite brands, Bando, that I myself have and use often):


ban.do the getaway ticket stripe duffle bag from Girlfriend Galas


cassidy faux leather duffel bag from Sole Society


ban.do getaway mega blooms duffle bag from ban.do


reclaimed vintage leather carryall from ASOS


novel duffle windsor wine offset stripe/veggie tan leather from Herschel Supply

Eye Masks for Midair Slumber

I’m amazed that some people can pass out on a plane without a problem. Not all of us have that talent, which means that people like me need a lot assistance just to get comfortable and squeeze in even an hour of shut-eye. A fluffy pillow, a warm blanket, a comfy outfit, a mild sleeping pill and/or alcohol… every little thing helps.

I think one of my biggest in-flight sleep deterrents is the fact that planes are almost always too bright. Even when they dim the lights and it’s dark outside, there’s still too much light, which is why eye masks come in handy for me. Still, many eye masks out there are unflattering. It’s bad enough that your hair’s all messy from the head rest, your skin’s all dehydrated from the lack of humidity, and your mouth’s probably hanging open as you’re slumped in your seat after dozing off. Not to worry; there are some super cute masks out there that give you a touch of sophistication, even if you are slightly drooling on the side of your mouth.



breakfast at tiffany’s inspired eye mask from TheSleepyCottage

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pretty pink silk sleep mask from The Snoozery

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 2.55.26 PMmary green sleeping eye mask from Shopbop


french lavender aromatherapy cat eye mask from Naomilingerie


lavander eye mask from Holistic Silk


lacey lids sleep mask from Morgan Lane


silk eye mask from Net-A-Porter


floral print linen eye mask from Zara Home


starry eyed sleeping mask from Morgan Lane

Comfy Tees for Flying

It’s no secret that I absolutely hate flying. It’s the one part of traveling I admit I cannot quit enjoy or even just get used to. I hate being stuck a small space for hours, not being able to move freely and get comfortable. While the window views, in-flight movies and sleeping aids are good distractions and make flights easier for me, I still end up with getting restless and fidgeting and wishing the flight would end already. So I do everything that will help me feel as comfortable as possible.

One of the many things I try to do is to dress super comfortably. This means that my travel style is simple: soft, loose tees, loose-fitting pants, and flats or sneakers—plus a warm sweater or jacket to match. This combo always guarantees comfort and warmth for me without looking sloppy. The tees are especially important. I prefer graphic ones made of soft, airy material and fit well without being too constricting.

Here are some flight-perfect tees I found online:


c!ao graphic tee from Madewell


rocky horror picture show tee from UO


naf shirt from The Deep End Club


i’m pineapple graphic tee from Forever 21


fun icons tee from Truly, Madly, Deeply


good vibes tee from Sub Urban Riot

Cool Road Trip Must Haves for the Kids

PlanetBox bento boxes for enjoyable lunch stops.PlanetBox bento boxes for enjoyable lunch stops. (Courtesy PlanetBox)

The sun is high, the days are long and temperatures are rising. It’s summertime once again, and with the kids out of school, families are leaving their cares behind and gearing up for a summer vacation that takes them to their dream family destinations for an extended period with nothing to do but simply relax and unwind. Some will fly; others will take to the sea, cruising their way to exotic ports and beautiful lands. A fraction more will go on the road, favoring the surprising sights and spontaneous stops and detours the open road has in store.

If you’re one of those families hitting the road this summer, pack your bags, load up the car and don’t forget those multi-use Ziplocks (you’re bound to find some use for them during your trip!) But before you pull out of your driveway and head to a new adventure with the kids, consider bringing these five very handy yet admittedly cool road trip accessories with you. Your kids will love them, and you’ll be eternally grateful for them.


PlanetBox’s Bento Boxes

Two of the trickiest things about being on the road are being able to save money on food and eating healthy. An easy solution is to fill that ice cooler with your family’s favorite meals, drinks and snacks and load it up in the back (or in the backseat for quicker access, if there’s space), and you’re all set!

To keep your food organized and also have well-portioned meals, PlanetBox’ sturdy, eco-friendly bento boxes, are a great way to go. Whether your packing wraps and sandwiches or proper meals with meats, veggies and desert, these awesome lunch boxes are perfect for different levels of appetite as they come in three different sizes – Shuttle, Rover, and Launch. Each box also come with different compartments for a balanced meal, an easy-to-use latch to keep your food nice and secured, and a fun magnet design set for personalization.

Complete the set and get a no-spill Big Dipper container for thick soups and wet dishes, a Little Dipper dip container, a BottleRocket drink container and an insulated carry bag to keep the kids’ food nice and warm. Purchase one for every member of the family, and road trip lunch stops will be easier than ever! PlanetBox lunch boxes start at $34.95.


Little Passports

Take Little Passports with you during your road trip.Take Little Passports with you during your road trip. (Courtesy Little Passports)

Adorable activity booklets packed with games, trivias, information, DIY instructions and even simple recipes as well as stickers, postcards, and other fun travel-related items will not only inspire your little travel bugs and get them excited about your trip but also provide the perfect fun and educational entertainment for those long stretches of road where there’s nothing to see or do. Little Passport’s travel subscription boxes, which include a brightly-colored carrying case, making them convenient to carry anywhere, are for kids 3 to 12 years of age, but teens and adults will love them too! Monthly subscriptions start at $11.95.



Flip 'N' Checks are perfect car games!Flip ‘N’ Checks are perfect car games! (Courtesy Flip ‘N’ Check)

There’s nothing better to keep the younger ones entertained than with everyone’s favorite activity games, but paper activity books are so wasteful and downloadable mobile games keep our kids glued to their devices. So try Flip ‘N’ Check’s awesome line of educational games instead, which delivers a new twist on classic games like crosswords, mazes, word searches, Mad Libs and other puzzles with an awesome dry-erase feature.

Each Flip ‘N’ Check glossy, colorful activity book comes with a variety of 20 educational game sheets, a dry-erase marker, and a panel with a thick, clear dry-erase board so the kids can play the games as much as they want without leaving a single mark on the sheets, making it easy to reuse, reduce and recycle! And it travels well with its compact design and hard cover, making it great for road trips as well as flights and family cruises. Flip ‘N’ Check activity games are perfect for kids ages 5 and up.

Best of all, they were developed and designed by entrepreneurial teens from New York City under the not-for-profit Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp, a program that teaches entrepreneurship to high school students, so you’re giving back with each purchase. Each Flip ‘N’ Check activity book retails at $14.99, with all the proceeds going back to the program.


onanoff BuddyPhones

Kids love BuddyPhones.Kids love BuddyPhones. (Courtesy Onanoff)

A few years ago, it was High School Musical. These days, it’s Frozen. They make for great family sing-a-longs, especially on long drives; but adults can only listen to “Let It Go” so many times. Along comes onanoff BuddyPhones, the ultimate listening companions for kids so they can listen to their favorite Disney album on repeat or play their Nintendo 3DS games to their heart’s content while parents enjoy some peace and quiet. What’s more, these headphones’ built-in sound control feature that maintains volume levels at 85 decibels so they’re safe for our little ones’ gentle ears. And they’re durable and flexible too! An onanoff BuddyPhones retails at $24.95 each.


OneStepAhead Backseat Entertainment Car Organizer

Driving for many hours with kids, it’s hard to keep your car clean and tidy. Your newly-washed and vacuumed vehicle will eventually fill up with pieces of food, wrappers and toys, among other things. Along with a couple of trash bags, OneStepAhead’s Backseat Entertainment Car Organizer will keep those pesky messes away, with its expanded pockets that can carry anything from toys, books and electronic gadgets to water bottles, sippy cups and snacks to wet wipes and tissues. It’s everything you need to stay organized and avoid feeling crowded during your drives. But make sure that the kids are staying on top of organizing their own stuff too! A non-personalized Backseat Entertainment Car Organizer costs $19.95.


(Originally published on MiniTime.com)

all rights reserved. no part of this blog post may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.

Turn Family Vacation Snaps Into Beautiful Photographs with instaLens

Vacationing families who fancy themselves amateur or hobby photographers can now go from merely taking hurried and clumsy snapshots of their vacation to producing beautiful travel photographs without having to lug a DSLR around. With instaLens, a phone’s simple camera can turn into a powerful and compact photography device perfect for family vacations.

As humans, we have this innate need to preserve our experiences and memories in permanent mediums, whether it be through paintings and drawings, the written word, or photographs, easily accessible to share with others or whenever we get the urge to walk down memory lane. This is evident enough in the number of vacationers taking pictures and selfies virtually everywhere we go.

As parents, however, we are all too familiar with how complicated things can get when we’re on vacation with the kids and we have mastered the art of finding and using ways and solutions to make our job easier – whether it’s in utilizing ingenious packing hacks to having the right toys and activity books handy to distract the little ones from that impending tantrum to planning a vacation that will satisfy everyone in the family.

Many parents these days have learned to rely on compact gadgets to capture their family vacation memories, whether it’s with a GoPro or with their trusty camera phones, because juggling a stroller, a diaper bag, an excitable toddler, and a heavy DSLR just won’t do. And while camera phones may not have the flexibility and power of DSLR, those limitations are easily remedied using instaLens’ brilliant collection of optical lenses.

Courtesy instaLens
Courtesy instaLens

The Cape Town-designed line of camera phone lenses are lightweight, compact, and easy-to-use, making them the perfect accessories to traveling shutterbugs young and old. In fact, they are super easy to use – just snap one on to the magnetic ring (included with every purchase along with magnetic lanyard, and an instruction sheet) that you attach around your phone’s built-in camera – that even your little ones can take snaps of their own with little assistance!

These lenses are super affordable, with the wide/macro, fisheye, and polarizing lenses retailing at $30.89 a pop, and the super retailing at $38.61. Additionally, they each come with a little pouch that doubles as a lens cleaner and a protective lens cap, so you can rest easy when the kids handling them.

Courtesy instaLens
Courtesy instaLens

Zoom in for a shot of an exotic insect in Costa Rica or the sun setting reflected in your child’s eye, go wide to capture a picturesque scene in California, or go panoramic when taking a photo of migrating animals in the Serengeti. instaLens’ collection features a variety of lenses – wide/macro,fisheye, polarizer, super, and telephoto – that you can purchase individually or as sets, giving users the flexibility to achieve different results.

Best of all, these lenses are incredibly effective, increasing your phone’s camera functionality and helping you add depth, character and more detail to your photos so that they’re more than just your average family vacation snaps. instaLens’ lenses are the perfect camera accessories for jet-setting families who prefer to travel light. And who doesn’t?

Purchase one or all of these lenses now in their online shop.

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.

(Originally published on MiniTime.com.)

all rights reserved. no part of this blog post may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.