Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Packing for a Summer Getaway with Carry-Ons


This is the post many of you have been waiting for and I want to thank everyone for their kind words of support and also your patience while I try to get myself back together. It doesn't matter how long or short a trip I take - it takes me a long time to unpack and organize things. This summer my husband and I planned a 2 week getaway with one week in New York and another week for Florida. The second half ended up being postponed for a later date due to work conflicts combined with my anxiety about leaving our two energetic Jack Russell Terriers and a very temperamental Ragdoll cat. This was the first trip we boarded them and while we knew we were leaving them in very good hands, I still think of them as my babies and leaving them for any period of time is hard for me especially since our fur kids are very high maintenance. But I digress - we packed for a two week getaway with carry-ons only as both my husband and I like to travel light. Many of you liked my Three Weeks in Europe with Carry Ons post last summer. This year we were lucky to try something new with carry on luggage from Away Travel.

Those following me on social have seen a few sneak peeks featuring Away - they are a relatively new company that carries affordable travel luggage. At the time of our trip they stocked one size of luggage the Carry-On ($225) which measures 21.7” x 13.7” x 9”. While in New York I stopped by their pop up Concept Store on in Noho at 325 Lafayette Street and discovered they just launched two additional sizes The Medium ($275) and The Large ($295). At this time you can order them direct from their website or purchase in store. If you click this referral link you can save $20 off your first order.

A quick look inside the concept store and then a review of the carry on followed by what I packed for the trip. The store currently stocks a few items you can only find in the store. There are two themes for the store, one is Tokyo inspired and the other has a Swedish theme. Both are based on what the founders are passionate about. While in the store I bought a travel blanket/scarf they call a Blarf ($125). I hope they carry this online soon or have it in more colors. It's the perfect size, thickness and density for the airplane. So many recommend carrying a large scarf or small blanket and I think it's hard to find something the right size and thickness for the plane.

 above image, courtesy of Away

 above image, courtesy of Away

Below are some images I took of the store. The staff was very kind and allowed be to browse. They have stations inside where you can see the product in person. They also have a kiosk stocked with folded shirts and tees like a demo station as a way help you figure out what size luggage will work best for your travel packing needs.


Bottom left - try out station with clothing so you can see which size best fits your needs based on what you plan to pack. Bottom right an Away x Capsule Beauty Box Collaboration set.


A closer look at the luggage. Away sent both my husband and I carry ons to test out for our trip. I wasn't able to get a picture of the box - but they are shipped in a perfectly fitted box and they also come with their own dust bags for storage. Upon opening it I was really surprised how lightweight it was. The exterior is made of a Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate. It has some give to it if you touch it - it's not 100% solid like metal or glass but still very thick and surprisingly sturdy. When we both unboxed ours I have to admit we were both concerned about the sturdiness since it's so lightweight. After putting it to the test though I can report that it's very sturdy. We did take these on the plane with us as carry-ons so I am not sure how the exterior will hold up if you check it.

For something so compact and streamlined, it has a lot of features I found practical but genius. The space is very well designed inside and out. There's minimal wasted space inside for maximum packing - most luggage has a lot of unusable space inside because of the handles or pockets. It comes with a built in USB charger which I found very handy. The interior comes with a compression system which helps hold all your clothes in place so there's minimal shifting even if it's not completely full. There is also a removable laundry bag packed at the base - it rolls up into a compact zip pouch so once again, valuable packing space is not taken up. It comes with four wheels that have a 360 degree spin so rolling it around flat or angled is easy and seamless. Handles expand up to 20.3 inches.

There are four lights that indicate how much charge is left in the battery. Each case comes with a TSA approved lock as well:




Many of you saw my preliminary packing list in this post here. This is what I ended up packing inside, I also had the clothes I was wearing to and from our destinations. In addition to our carry ons, I had a Louis Vuitton Neverful Tote in the MM size and my husband had a laptop case. Not shown below is what I packed inside my tote which included my liquids, wallet, small truffle pouch with cosmetics, makeup brushes in a MustaeV bloom pouch, laptop and one pair of flats.

All packed up:


A quick look at the interior, more shots and details on their website:



What I fit inside the left side with the zipped portion. Each is the same in size. This is the first suitcase I've tried where both sides are the same - most have either a deep base with a cover. The Anya Hindmarch case fit inside with everything shown below (hat not packed but rather carried by hand). In the left side I packed 2 pairs of jeans, 2 blouses, 4 tees/tanks, makeup case, 2 sweater shells, three dresses.


On the right side is a compression case. It has a zip pouch where I stored socks and underwear. Packed inside were 3 boxes of Laduree tea (for on the way home), 3 sweaters, 1 pair of jeans (yes a 3rd pair, lol), 1 summer dress, 1 black tank, 1 pencil skirt, a pair of heels in dust bags, 1 tank, yoga pants and my camera case. My clothes are small and were lightweight so it was easy to roll or fold things in a way to fit without overstuffing.


Beautywise, everything fit inside 1 Anya Hindmarch Inflight Case to keep everything compact, 1 MustaeV Bloom Pouch for brushes and pencils, and 1 quart sized ziploc bag for liquids. Some of you may be wondering what happened to my clear pouch that I bought last year for liquids. Even though the description says it's quart sized and reviews indicate many airports take it, there have been a few instances where security took one look and I had issues getting through. I was still able to get through in the end but since it looks like it carries a lot many suspect that it's over the quart size limit. I decided to skip it this round.


The beauty pack list:

Cases:

Eye makeup:

Face Makeup:

Cheek and Highlighters:
Lips:
Misc:


Liquids and skincare:


For those wondering how well the luggage will hold up to scratches, I did not check the bag and so it was not exposed to serious contact damage with other bags. I did find one mark light scratch on the surface that happened from another bag sliding in the overhead compartment against mine. It was easy to remove but it was not a deep scratch and there was no indentation in the surface. I used a warm wash cloth and a tiny bit of hand soap to wipe the surface and the mark was almost 100% gone with a couple swipes.



A few final thoughts about packing for a week in New York City for the summer. I could have skipped the hat and my heels. Even for dressier occasions or meetings, my black flats worked just fine. In the streets I saw women mainly wore sandals, flats or short heeled wedges. I saw very few heels although I suspect some may just simply carry them in their totes to change for work or going out - if any New Yorkers want to chime in let me know!
  • I could have skipped the hat. I didn't want it to get squished so I carried it on the plane. I did not end up wearing it at all as I felt it would have just gotten in the way.
  • I walked most of New York City in either my Chloe flats or Tory Burch Millers. Yes, sandals were not the best idea, but being a California girl I just have to. My feet did ok - no blisters and they did not get too dirty. Both pairs of shoes survived without any damage from extensive walking.
  • I packed more than I needed for a week - but we did intend to be away for 2 weeks instead of 1.
  • Next trip to NYC I'm packing super light on the beauty side. All I need can be found at Birchbox Soho or Space NK, not to mention all the Sephora stores around the city. 
  • I really missed my hair dryer but I survived with the one in the hotel.
  • My husband only packed jeans and even after a trip to Banana Republic in the city for some last minute things, he only picked up shorts and polos. Next time I will be packing a nice pair of slacks or khakis for him. There were a few restaurants I wanted to go to that we could not because he only had jeans as he was on "vacay" mode.
  • I did bring a pair of my Pumas that I had from last year as my sneaker/walking shoes. My husband informed me I need to invest in a pair of better looking shoes. He gave them that "these should be burned" look when he saw me wearing them. If you have any recommendations please let me know.
  • By the end of my trip I had several full sized liquids and other items I bought while in NYC that would not fit inside my carry on or tote. I shipped them back home via FedEx. Quick note on pricing - make sure you double check price quotes online. I shipped everything home for a little over $40, box weight was about 20 pounds. A little over a week later I received an invoice from FedEx stating I owed an additional $120. I called them to ask about it and was informed that prices are just estimates in the store and additional charges may occur for residential deliveries, weekday deliveries, declared value and size etc. They said the best way to get an accurate quote is to use the calculator online or to call them directly. They were very nice and professional on the phone, this obviously was my first time shipping something this large from FedEx and I told them I was just a bit surprised there was such a huge difference from the estimate to the actual cost. They waived the extra $100 without me complaining or asking, which I thought was really nice of them and something they did not have to do at all. If you are a newbie shipper like me - just be aware of the shipping estimates if you ship large boxes or items home. If in doubt just ask about any potential added charges that may be incurred.
I hope you enjoyed this packing post and review of the Away Carry Ons. Right now the only place to buy is direct from their website and you can save $20 off your first order by using this referral link. Both my husband and I were really impressed with it. It's practical, priced right, works just the way you want a carry on to work and sturdy. The little touches and features make a huge difference. I was impressed with how much I was able to fit. I am planning to buy one for my brother and brother in law soon as they are both in need of good travel gear.

Do you have any tips or things you do for packing in carry-ons? Or are you the type that always checks luggage?

Press samples featured courtesy for review include the Away Carry Ons, MustaeV Bloom Pouch, NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint, Edward Bess All Over Seduction. Some minis were from gift with purchases I've collected over time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Langham Place New York


It's been over a week since I've returned home from New York and I'm still energized to the point of almost glowing from my trip because I had such an amazing time. Today I'm sharing something a bit different than I normally do on The Beauty Look Book because when I have an experience that is out of the ordinary I want everyone to know. During our week in New York my husband and I stayed at Langham Place New York located in Midtown Manhattan and it is the best hotel we have ever stayed at. Prior to our trip it took quite a while for me to research hotels - to date my husband and I plan our trips on our own and my go-to review source for hotels is TripAdvisor which helps me narrow down places by location, ratings, price point etc. I picked out Langham Place New York after much consideration and I am beyond thrilled that I did. The hotel exceeded our expectations in every way. I think it is rare that I can say that something was perfect in every way, but my experience staying here was. The service was top notch right from the time we booked our rooms all the way to the day we checked out. In a city that never sleeps, being able to stay at a place that feels like a relaxing home away from home was priceless.

Langham Place New York is located on 5th Avenue within walking distance from the Empire State Building. We found it to be the perfect location for us even though getting around the city is very easy, we found it central to all the places we wanted to visit. Aside from location, spacious modern rooms, luxurious feel, the best thing about this hotel is the service. Everyone was welcoming, friendly, professional, courteous and each person went out of their way to be helpful in any and every way possible.


The rooms have a residence feel with a very open and spacious feel. A repeated theme on hotel reviews for New York is that hotel rooms are small and expensive. If you read the reviews on Langham Place New York, one thing that will stand out is everyone comments on how spacious the rooms are and most have said the service is phenomenal. I wholeheartedly agree and upon entering our room, both my husband and I were blown away. He did not want to splurge for our trip on the hotel, but this experience changed his mind completely and by the end he agreed that this place is indeed worth the splurge. Our room had a mini kitchen and separate living area near the entrance. Also not shown included a Miele laundry machine + dryer. I did not do laundry on this trip but my husband did as he hates traveling with dirty socks even if he brings extra pairs with him.

A look inside the hotel, mainly our room. After staying here for four nights, I did not want to leave. If you look closely below you will see a Nespresso machine. Heart won! They also leave the most amazing cookies on the nightstands during turn down along with bottled water. Heart won yet again :)


View from our room:



A very kind welcome note left by the Managing Director. I've never received a welcome note before so this touched my heart to the core!



Can I transport this bathroom to my own home please? 


TV monitor built into the mirror!


Husband's half of the bathroom:


Travel minis that I brought with me:


Sunset view:





Travel beauty: 


Fully equipped fitness center:


In room breakfast with a view: 



During our stay we had room service for breakfast once which was simple yet refreshing. We wanted to try the restaurant Ai Fiori as it had amazing reviews but we were only in town for a short time and chose to explore the city instead. Everyone on the staff from the doormen to concierge and room service was very helpful - I cannot express in words how impressed I was. Literally everyone greets you in the most welcoming way (this happened throughout our entire stay).  The Langham Place New York hotel takes luxury to a new level and after having such a great experience and I will definitely have this place at the top of my list for the next time I visit New York.

I will have a post tomorrow on packing and how I fit everything into a carry on going to New York, but I wanted to make a quick note that by the end of my trip, I had more than I could carry in a suit case so I decided to ship a large box back home via FedEx. I packed what I wanted to ship in a large bag and was about to hail a cab to a FedEx shipping center when one of the doormen kindly told me the concierge would pack and ship everything for me from the hotel. I was still curious about how much it would cost (and how long it would take) to ship on my own for reference in case some readers are traveling to a hotel or destination that does not offer the same service. He kindly pointed me in the direction of a FedEx that was a lot closer than the one I was headed towards initially. It was within a 5 minute walk and actually inside the Empire State Building (just around the corner from the main entrance). As I was shipping my box I thought was pretty neat to be inside the side walls of the Empire State Building. The shipping process was quick and easy, they measured, boxed and packed everything for me and sat me down at one of the stations to enter my shipping and payment information. The whole process took maybe 5 minutes at most and there was no line when I arrived. It cost me only $40ish to ship a large box about 20 pounds second day which I thought was very reasonable.

Back to a few more thoughts on Langham Place New York. I think there's nothing that can match a really good hotel experience and if you are able to stay here while in New York, I think you will enjoy it as well. In all the years and places I've traveled to there have been very few hotels I've stayed at that have made a strong enough impression to be memorable, Langham Place has made the list. You can see more about their rooms and amenities on their website gallery.

If you're researching New York City hotels for trips I hope you found this review helpful! The number of options are almost overwhelming and it took me hours and days of making lists, checking availability and checking my list again to narrow down which one to stay at. I hands down recommend Langham Place New York. If you have any favorites I would love to hear about where your go-to spots are. It's been a long time since I've last been to New York and after having visited I do think I need to try to go more often. I already cannot wait until my next trip back.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Week in New York City


I'm back from spending a week in New York and am so excited to share all the details from my summer trip. A trip to NYC has been on my wishlist for many years - it's been almost 10 years since I was last in the city. I was actually only in New York for 5 days with my husband. Our trip was planned primarily for sight seeing fun and for me trying new food places was high on my list. I mapped out approximately 30 spots prior to leaving knowing I would not be able to make it to most of them, but it was very helpful for planning and narrowing down what to see by location. I had such an amazing time and cannot wait to go back - there's an energy in New York City that can't be matched anywhere else. Summer is such a lovely time to visit although it was quite a bit more humid than the mild weather in Southern California. Thank you to everyone who took the time to e-mail me and message me recommendations! Today I'm sharing the highlights of my trip. More details to follow in separate posts on what I packed, a review of the luggage I tested out, where we stayed and special spots I visited. A quick note to those who expressed some serious concern about me wearing white jeans in the city. I made quick adjustments to my packing list before I left and thank you to each and every one of you for warning me :)

In this post I'm covering sights we saw, places we ate and some thoughts about getting around the city which might be helpful for first-timers or those who haven't been to NYC in a while and are looking for an updated guide. This post is a long one so grab a cup of tea or a snack before reading.


We took the red-eye to NYC with Delta (my husband's preference) and while I do really like flying with them, I will say that we both agreed next time we will not do the red-eye again. Neither of us can sleep on planes. We arrived bright and early at JFK at around 6:00 AM (yes, super early!) and it took us about a 25 minutes to wait in line for a taxi and about 1 hour to get to the city.


During our week in New York we stayed at Langham Place New York on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Much to our surprise our room was ready even though check in wasn't until afternoon. I spent around 2-3 days researching hotels and online reviews via Trip Advisor - the number of options to pick from in NYC are overwhelming. My husband and I were beyond thrilled with our stay at Langham Place. A dedicated review to follow because this place deserves it - every one was incredibly helpful right from the time we booked our hotel. Upon arrival the service was impeccable -  the concierge, housekeeping, and all the doormen were so amazing. They also leave delicious cookies in the room at turndown - heart won. We found the location was great - although being in NYC it's very easy to get around the city with the subway and taxis.

Bottom left flats by Chloe, bottom right view from our room

For sightseeing we both had a few places we wanted to see together. Both of us have been to New York before but this was the first time we had been together. It was relatively hot and humid during our week there so we did some leisurely sight seeing and didn't rush anything. My favorite place was Central Park - we walked about half of the way through from the south end to the middle. Other places we saw included Washington Square Park, the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, Battery Park, Bryant Park and Grand Central Terminal. We passed through a lot of areas by walking but those were the highlights. If you're in NYC during the summer I highly recommend you check out the event calendars - at Bryant Park they have the HBO Summer Film Festival going on and they play films on a large screen. We passed by at the end of the one of the films - it was packed but looked really fun.





Night time in the city is an experience in itself. I'm not a huge fan of bus tours but they are a nice way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We took the Grayline Double Decker Bus Night Tour which leaves from Times Square and enjoyed it - our tour guide was very entertaining. It was about a 2 hour bus tour and goes from the city to Brooklyn. For the day tours you can hop on and off the bus, but for the night tours it's a continuous ride. A few snapshots of the city at night - some are from the bus tour, some are from dinners and walking around the city.


For the places to eat, we only made it to a small handful of spots on our list, but every place we stopped by was amazing and well worth the extra walking and travel distance to find. Breakfast, lunch and dinner spots included Jack's Wife Freda on Carmine Street (beyond obsessed), Buvette (amazing!!), Shake Shack (burgers are better than In-n-Out, although I didn't really like their french fries), Don Antonio's (pizza is amazing! just like ones from Naples), Momofuku (went twice for the cookies), Laduree Soho (for macarons and tea to bring home as gifts), Cafe Cluny (one of the cutest cozy dinner spots ever) and the Soho House (great views).

If there are any I would deem must visits - it would be Jack's Wife Freda, Buvette and Cafe Cluny. On my next trip I hope to have time for afternoon tea somewhere in the city.


My husband had the waffle sandwich at Buvette and I stole a bite, it was amazing!

These were the only pictures I was able to get of Don Antonio's, the pizza was THAT good and literally gone within minutes. More on them and their menu on Yelp - it can get very crowded, it appeared to be a very popular spot. We were seated right away because we took the spots right by the window instead of the main dining area - but it was cozy and perfect for people watching. Among the top 2 best pizzas I've tried since visiting Italy last year with the soft and fluffy crust.


I will have a separate post on shopping spots that I stopped by. This trip I wasn't able to get much shopping in - there was a lot on my list that I missed this round but there is always next time! Soho is just absolutely adorable - I could spend forever and the rest of my life there. For those who want a sneak peek of what's coming next, I will be covering Bergdorf Goodman x Edward Bess, Space NK in Soho, Birchbox Soho, Diptyque at Grand Central Station and the Away Travel. A quick peek at some snapshots from walking around Soho - it's so charming, I wish I could have spent more time here exploring and shopping. Many of the stores did not open until 11, I was in the area early in the morning so most were not yet open to go inside but it was fun to window shop.


A few thoughts to share on getting around the city and budgeting for transportation from a newbie perspective. It's been a while since I've been in New York but I'm familiar with the metro and subway systems of other cities and also outside the US. Since it has been almost 10 years since I've been to NYC I reached out to a few friends who are New York locals, friends who travel to NY frequently for work and also looked at reviews online.

There are a number of websites and reviews that help break down the cost of transportation between taxis, Uber, or the subway. I'm one of those people who often gets confused about direction and since WIFI can be spotty in larger cities, it takes me longer to navigate my way through new surroundings so I thought worst case scenario was that I would have to take taxis everywhere. I am happy to report that navigating NYC is indeed relatively easy to figure out. In general both my husband and I found the subway easier and faster. The areas I went to were all very safe (even to and from Brooklyn late at night, late as in past 10:00 pm). I took the advice of friends who assured me the subway was safe and just to make sure to be in areas where there were lots of people versus the isolated areas with nobody around.

On budgeting for transportation, we each bought a $20 metro card that we used up almost all the way. For taxis getting to and from the airport runs at a flat fee and with tip it's about $75 to $80 each way. For our taxi trips rates ranged from $8.19 to $33.54 (these numbers included 20% tips). I took the taxi from NYC to Brooklyn once which was the most expensive trip. On taxis - it was recommended that I stick with the yellow cabs and I would highly recommend you do so as well. Total spent on taxis for 5 days (excluding airport transportation) was $160 (including tips), the average taxi ride cost $15ish. Now that we know how to navigate the city next time we will probably use the subway more. I have friends who use Uber every time they go to NYC. This trip we did not try it.

One last note on timing for travel leaving the city to get to the airport. My flight left from JFK at 4:55 pm and the airport guidelines said to arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to take off which meant I would have to arrive at the airport by 2:55 pm. Several assured me I would be ok leaving the city at 2:00 pm but I gave myself an extra 45 minutes since I was leaving on a Friday and I'm glad I did. At around 1:15 pm a traffic surge happened and it took 20 minutes for the doormen to find an available cab. They were so nice about it too, one made several calls to try and find one while the other ran around the block trying to find one with working AC. It was really so impressive how much they went out of their way. Once I was on my way to the airport there was traffic - it took 60 minutes. There was a quick line for airport security - all in all, giving myself the extra time was worth it so I did not have to rush or feel anxious about missing my flight.

A few more snapshots:


One final photo because I know beauty lovers will appreciate this. Net-A-Porter has same day delivery in the city which is so cool. If this showed up at my door to deliver a package I think it would the coolest thing ever. I also wanted to mention that Edward Bess is now carried online at Net-A-Porter!


I hope you enjoyed this roundup of my trip highlights! There's so much to see in New York City and even though there's so much I didn't get to, I enjoyed the week there. I can't wait to go back again. More on the beauty, shops and packing in the upcoming days! I know many of you are eager to see how I packed carry-on style again.

For those who visit NYC either frequently or occasionally, what are you favorite places to go to? We didn't make it to any museums this round since we had a short trip. It's definitely on our list for next time along with places like The High Line, Top of the Rock, the One World Trade Center Observatory (we hope to go inside next time) and for me so much more for the beauty spots :)

For those who follow me on Instagram @beautylookbook, thanks for following along!

 

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