Ways I’ve Saved Money While Traveling

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Happppy Monday! Is it still possible to get the Sunday scaries during the summer? Because even though the days have been longer and the weekends have been lazier, I’m still feeling pretty busy at work right about now!

Going off last week’s post on packing tips, I thought I’d share a few super easy ways to save money while traveling. I’m all about treating yourself (especially when in NYC for a weekend…I’ll take ALL of the food and wine, please!), but when taking longer trips, I’ve found some simple ways to cut back.

1) BRING A BOOK FROM HOME. If you’re like me and like to read but also enjoy browsing the airport bookstores, this tip is for you. DO NOT (I repeat, do not!) buy a book at the airport when you could probably purchase the same item for much cheaper on Amazon (or when you could bring something that you a) already own and have been meaning to read for months or b) checked out from the library). I love using plane rides as a way to catch up on fun reading, but there’s really no reason to cough up $25 for a hardcover airport book! Just say no. 😉

2) Go to the grocery store. If your travel destination is close to a grocery store, do a quick shop for essentials (this is better for trips that are 3+ days long, because otherwise you probably won’t finish everything you buy). If you’re traveling with friends, decide ahead of time when you’d like to go out to eat and when you’d like to stay at home, and shop for food accordingly. Keeping healthy, affordable breakfast food such as egg whites, yogurt, or Luna/Rx bars around the house (or Airbnb) can be a smart solution if your group plans on doing fancier lunches or dinners out. Just don’t buy things that you won’t eat or won’t finish, unless you can bring them back with you or hand them off to another member of your group who’s staying longer…if you end up tossing half of the grocery store items you bought to be “frugal,” you’re not saving any money! Trust me, I’ve been there.

3) Don’t be shy about splitting. It’s easy to say “oh, I’ll get this Uber” and think that the charge is no big deal, but everything adds up over the course of a trip! My friends definitely aren’t shy about Venmo requesting one another $1.80 or so to chip in toward a $10 group Uber ride. It may seem silly asking for such a small amount of money, but it helps keep everything fair. You’ll thank yourself later when you have an extra $10 to put toward that second margarita at dinner.

What tips would you add? I’m heading to the Cape this weekend with friends and can’t wait. ‘Tis the season of vacation!

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FRIDAY FEELS, #6

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On my playlist: James Taylor, anyone?! So excited because tonight we’re taking my mom to the James Taylor concert at Nats Park (my dad, sister, and I got our family tickets as a birthday present for my mom earlier this spring), so naturally, I’ve been listening to his music this week to prepare. My mom loves him and always had one of his CDs in the car when my sister and I were growing up. I distinctly remember her driving me up to Maine for my first year of college with “Carolina In My Mind” and other classics of his on repeat (hey, it was a long car ride). We’ve also listened to James Taylor and Carole King’s joint album MANY times, and I love the two of them together. Also, did you know that James Taylor used to be married to Carly Simon? Like, musical worlds colliding. But anyway, I’m a fan. As Taylor Swift says, “You said you never met one girl who had as many James Taylor records as you…But I do.” (Such a good throwback song!).

On my nightstand: Other than binge watching Season 3 of How to Get Away with Murder (it’s on Netflix, so it’s kind of a no-brainer), I’ve been reading The Attachments, which is a funny novel about two female coworkers who gab their brains out over the office email system, which is monitored by a guy who kind of has a crush on one of them…it’s a cute story but hasn’t been my favorite read, although I want to finish it because I hate abandoning books!

On my mind: So, this really cool new falafel place (called Falafel Inc, the Post did an article about the restaurant here) opened up right near me in Georgetown and I was thrilled to try their famous $3 falafel and pita sandwich earlier this week (and I know I’ll have to go back and get it again + try one of their delicious looking sides sometime soon!). The best part? Not only is the food cheap, but proceeds go toward feeding a refugee for a day. Talk about a win-win! I basically SPRINTED over there after work on Monday (at like, 5 pm) because I was so hungry and ready to eat dinner, haha.

On my wish list: I’m totally obsessed with straw totes/bags right now and love this half circle one from Tuckernuck! Also, weird wish list item, but I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’ve really been wanting to try these famous cotton candy grapes! I’ve been freezing regular green grapes and eating them while I watch Netflix at night (#coolkid, I know), and they’re SO good. Like not even in a “I’m trying to be healthy so I’ll eat these instead of candy” type of way…they’re just actually delish and I kinda prefer ’em to candy! If you haven’t gotten on the frozen grapes bandwagon, add them to your list! I bet the cotton candy ones would be good at their usual temperature but I’m also curious what freezing them would be like?! I just need to get my hands on them first…next time I make a Giant or Whole Foods run, for sure.

On the agenda: In addition to going to the James Taylor concert, I’m also planning on getting together with friends and probably having a lazy Sunday afternoon reading by the pool. Summer weekends are truly the best weekends! Hope you have a great one!

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How to Pack Efficiently

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I’ll preface this post with a little disclaimer: I almost always try to pack as light as possible. I’m not one of those girls who hauls three bags through airport security and checks another two for a week-long domestic trip (or even for a six month international trip…but more on that in a second!). Then again, I’m not a fashion blogger who’s literal job is to bring a million different outfits on each trip, etc, etc. But I always have to laugh when I see posts about what a struggle it is to use just a carry on…because it really, really isn’t that hard. Promise!

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I’ll be going to Paris with my family this summer, and I think we will be checking bags this time. You may be wondering why we wouldn’t check bags for a week-long, international trip, but when we spent two weeks in London between my sophomore and junior year of college, my parents insisted that we bring carry on bags (!) to last us the entire time. About six months later when I left for my semester abroad in Scotland, I brought along only one (really big) suitcase and a backpack. I ended up purchasing a small roller bag for weekend travel, and it was cheap enough that I could just leave it behind when the school year ended. But guys. I traveled abroad from mid-January through late May with one bag. You can do it for one weekend, I promise! 😉 Still not convinced? Here are a few tips of mine:

Scope out the scene: When traveling this past year, I’ve primarily been going to weddings or to visit friends. During my most recent trip to NYC, I opted to bring a backpack and a larger tote bag rather than a bag and a suitcase because I knew I’d be staying a couple of different places and didn’t want to have to wheel my suitcase around the city. For the weddings, I’ve generally stuck to a carry on suitcase and a backpack. My suitcase has definitely been filled to the brim, but that was mainly because I liked to bring a couple of different outfit options for each event–and I’m glad I did! I had bought a dress specifically for the wedding I was invited to in April, but when I realized how cold the weather was on the day of, I decided to wear a backup option and felt much more confident in it!

My friends and I have rented Airbnbs for several of our most recent trips, and they’ll often indicate whether important items such as hair dryers and towels are provided. Can’t tell based on the website? If you have friends arriving to the destination ahead of time, ask them to scope out the scene. I realllllly didn’t want to have to haul a huge hairdryer across the country with me when I was packing for Seattle, but a friend who had checked in earlier noted that each and every bathroom was fully stocked! When we were in Florida for another wedding, it appeared that our Airbnb had limited towels, and we knew we’d need several in order for the 10 of us to each have one to use at the beach and have a separate one for showers. We told some of the latecomers to pack as many extra towels as possible, only to find an extra closet full of them after the rest of our friends arrived–oops! But better to be safe than sorry, I guess! Moral of the story: Scope out the scene as best as possible before packing (or having friends pack) items that may be provided already!

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Be practical: While I’m great at packing light, I’m not always excellent at actually bringing the things I need. My mom used to “joke” that I packed badly on purpose so that I’d have an excuse to go shopping whenever I reached my destination, but that really wasn’t the case. Promise! Later, I’d often bring too many things that I just never ended up using. When we go to Florida, I really only need to pack clothes, because I keep toiletries, hair tools, flip flops, and other items at our place down there, which makes things super easy! I’ve also learned that I’m mainly lounging around when we’re at home, so tons of Nike shorts and t-shirts are a must. My grandma’s retirement complex is a bit dressier, so I always bring some nicer options for when we have dinner over there. I used to bring a ton of cute casual outfits with me and never really ended up wearing them, because I’m really either fairly dressed up or really dressed down when I’m there. And as much as I try to convince my family to help me with some outfit shoots for the blog, the answer is usually no…. So most of the fun items will stay at home until they change their mind. 😉 Moral of the story: if something looks cute but it’s really unlikely that you’ll wear it, just leave it at home.

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Don’t wait until the last minute: I’m that weirdo who always packs DAYS (if not more…) in advance. I enjoy packing and like feeling super organized before my trip (which is funny, because I could care less about getting to the airport early…as long as I have time to grab a coffee at the gate before the plane boards, then we’re good!). However, packing in advance will save you stress in the long run. I’ve definitely started putting items in my suitcase only to realize that I need to buy a new pair of tights or a certain toiletry before my trip, and if I know a few days in advance, it makes things much easier. Also, make sure you have enough of all of your prescription meds prior to a trip. If you’ll be traveling for a week or more and will need a refill before you leave, take care of that well in advance, too. CVS is everywhere (and I refill a lot of my prescriptions in Florida as needed), but depending on where you are and who you’re with, heading to the pharmacy could just end up being a hassle, so plan ahead! Moral of the story: Don’t wait until 11 pm on your first day of vacation to refill that nightly prescription.

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Don’t forget something fun: When else are you going to where that adorable sequined sunhat if you don’t bring it to the beach?! I’m definitely guilty of buying fun, nonessential items for such and such trip that I’m taking, and I think everybody does that from time to time! Don’t forget to pack that special piece of clothing or accessory that you just had to get, and enjoy using it! Moral of the story: Just because you’re packing light doesn’t mean you have to be 100 percent practical 😉 Bon voyage!

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Behind the Scenes of a Home Tour Photo Shoot

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Hado Photo

I thought this would be a fun post to write since 1) it’s always kind of interesting to learn what goes on behind the scenes at any kind of photo shoot, and 2) home shoots are different than fashion shoots (although I still tried to get myself ready, too, should there be an opportunity to jump into any of the photos). I’ve had my home shot twice now, and while I’m no expert, I did find that I was 1) exhausted by the end of the shoot each time, even though I did literally nothing while it was taking place, 2) my apartment looks so much better through the lens of a professional than it does on my iPhone, and 3) even getting my small apartment all cleaned up can take quite awhile!

In case you have a professional home tour shoot coming up or just want to prepare to take some quality photos of your place, here’s how I prepared:

Both of my shoots were on Saturday morning around 11 am. This was an ideal time lighting wise (although my apartment is always very bright, so really any time of day would’ve been fine!). It also wasn’t toooo early (I like to sleep in a bit on weekends when possible!) and allowed for some prep time in the morning.

Though I had been getting my place ready throughout the week, making last minute decorating adjustments here and there, Friday evening gave me plenty of time to finish major cleaning (spraying and scrubbing in the kitchen, dusting my windowsills, tidying up the bathroom, etc). I also went to the store to stock up on fresh flowers and small touches like lemons for my bar cart (no, I do not have real lemons sitting around at all times, haha). All of this took a couple of hours and with my place sufficiently clean, I did a big vacuum, knowing I’d do another quick one in the morning.

Saturday morning was for last minute prep, like cleaning off my glass coffee table with Windex (and feeling very “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” while doing so), doing a second round of vacuuming, putting away shoes and other random things that I didn’t want out during the shoot (into the closet they went!). I then showered, did my hair, and got myself ready while waiting for the photographer, who did ultimately want me to jump into a couple of pictures!).

My most recent shoot took about two hours, and I think the first one I did took the same length of time. Man, I was tired and hungry after all that time, and I wasn’t even doing anything! I tried to stay out of the way during the shoot, but I did enjoy watching what was going on and helping make small adjustments to a corner of the room as needed.

I’m so excited to share the results of my most recent shoot once the piece goes live! For those of you who do outfit shoots, idk how you do it 😉

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June Reads

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I’m excited to share my June reads with you all! I was able to finish a lot of books while on vacation in Florida, in particular (I even read two in one day!). While I’ve shown a few of my recent reads on Instagram, here’s the complete roundup of everything I enjoyed last month. Pack your pool tote or carry on with one of these options–you can thank me later!

Talking As Fast As I Can, by Lauren Graham: (Not pictured, because my sister is borrowing it at the moment!). As a longtime Gilmore Girls fan, it was wonderful to finally read Lorelai’s (oh, sorry, Lauren Graham’s) book! My favorite section was definitely when Lauren talked about the making of the Gilmore Girls Netflix reboot (did you know that the episodes are called “Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall” and are in that specific order because of the Carole King song?! I didn’t! Also, for some reason, I barely thought about all of the work that went into rebuilding the town of Stars Hollow prior to filming. It was interesting to hear some of the “behind the scenes” scoop with regard to the actual set, too). The fact that Lauren grew up in Northern Virginia right near where I live and work made her memoir even more appealing!

In A Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware: I had heard about this book forever before I finally sat down and started it (and I ended up reading it in one sitting–on the same day I read Lauren Graham’s book! #Vacation). It follows a group of 20-somethings who are gathered at a friend’s bachelorette party (or “hen weekend”) only for terror to unfold. The storyline moves quickly and you’ll keep asking yourself “what on earth really happened?” until Nora, the protagonist, is able to put together the pieces of that awful night.

After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Ok, I’m officially in love with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work! I gushed over One True Loves in a previous book review and know that others have enjoyed it as well. I definitely teared up at times while reading about Lauren and Ryan, who choose to mend their marriage by taking time apart, all while dealing with challenging family dynamics and the new world of dating. How will Lauren, who hasn’t dated anyone since she met Ryan at age 19, process the events happening in her world without her husband by her side? DOES she actually miss him, or would she rather move on with her life and start anew? Reid has the ability to tell stories that are engaging but convey true insight and emotion. Pick it up!

Sugar, by Kimberly Stuart: This was a lighthearted read that looked at a pastry chef starting over in the industry while juggling a new relationship, town, and work situation. Honestly, when the back of the book noted that the main character would be working for her ex boyfriend, I expected much more drama on that front, but really their relationship seemed like it had been pretty minor. The book was still enjoyable but for sure was on the fluffier side, so if you like a good chick lit read, this one is for you!

Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris: It honestly feels like forever ago that I read this book, but trust me, the plot still creeps me out every time I think about it. The story follows a couple who lead a seemingly perfect life and have what appears to be a flawless relationship with one another, but it’s soon revealed that this couldn’t be farther than the truth. How can the protagonist escape her terrifying husband when he makes it impossible for her to maintain a life of her own? Others will agree that it’s a very disturbing storyline, but I was enthralled and couldn’t stop thinking about it! I definitely had to call/text a few people when I was done just to tell them how creeped out I felt. It was one of the crazier thrillers I’ve read but I just couldn’t put it down.

It Happens in the Hamptons, by Holly Peterson: This is the perfect summer beach read, and if we’re being honest, it reminded me a lot of We Could be Beautiful, which I talk about here. When a single mother and her son arrive in the Hamptons for the summer, they don’t know what to expect (or ultimately, who to trust). Is the man that single mother Katie is dating truly as good as he seems? The story has several twists and turns (some of which I predicted!) and will leave you guessing as you go.

The Startup, by Doree Shafrir: I had been wanting to read this since I first heard about it a month or so ago. Filled with scandal, romance, and more, it was an interesting story about a group of individuals whose lives intersect due to their work in the tech world in NYC. It reminded me a bit of The Underwriting!

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Getting Personal: How I Started Blogging

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I started blogging last July (and have since published 230+ posts!), and I can’t believe how quickly the time flew! For me, blogging has been an extremely fulfilling hobby and creative outlet. It definitely took awhile to feel like people (other than a few close friends–thanks, guys!) were reading my posts, but I was honestly fine with that (it’s a little scary to write about yourself and wonder what other people will think–so many bloggers are constantly picked apart for the slightest things!). Now that I feel more in the groove, I’m so excited to have a larger audience and am thankful for all of the Instagram friends, IRL friends, and new-to-me sites I’ve discovered over the past year.

So first, here’s a little bit about what blogging means to me…

When I was going into my sophomore year of college, I discovered The College Prepster and read it religiously. If I was awake, I seriously would log onto my computer right at midnight, knowing that a new post would be up and ready to read. I also kept up with Carly’s Tumblr every day and constantly felt inspired (I’d even ask my own fashion-related questions from time to time!). That same summer, I had major jaw surgery that left me bedridden and only able to eat through a straw for about a week. During that time, I poured over Her Campus, a new-to-me site at the time. I loved every single article on there and would text my friends about them, even though normal college life couldn’t have felt farther away.

When I returned to school, I was beyond nervous about what would lie ahead. I was already fairly shy, and while thankfully my close group of friends understood what I was going through, I was terrified for my other classmates to see my mouth filled with braces, a splint, and rubber bands, which I had to wear 22 (!) hours each day. If I knew I was going out one night, I’d rush through all of my meals and wear the rubber bands as long as I could so that I could take everything out and have two somewhat normal hours at a party… #funtimes. I couldn’t eat a lot of the normal food in the dining hall, was scared to speak up in class without being stared at, and dreaded normal things like the photo shoot and pizza party my college newspaper staff had one afternoon, because there was NO way I wanted to pose for a headshot, and I couldn’t even eat pizza!

Looking back, all of this seems kind of silly, as I have friends who’ve gone through far, far worse situations while in college AND had to experience these things without the support system that I was so fortunate to have. I’m also thankful that I was able to address the extreme jaw pain I was having (I feel so, so much better now) and had understanding professors who supported me (they were always so thoughtful and reassuring, and sophomore year ended up being my best academic year in college!). But at the time, looking and feeling weird was all I could think about. So how does this tie into blogging, you may ask?

I distinctly remember coming back to my room after class every day and catching up on my favorite blogs, which truly comforted me. Even though I felt kind of weird around people I knew in real life, lots of bloggers were kind of quirky, not to mention interesting and inspiring. I grew to follow blog after blog (Bloglovin made it all super easy!), and by junior year, I was checking the site every morning to catch up on my favorite reads. For me, blogs were an escape from the chaos of normal college life. By senior year, I started a fashion and lifestyle blog of my own where I’d profile classmates of mine. I made a point to generally steer away from covering close friends, because I really wanted to showcase a range of people, personalities, and interests. I had a great time writing these posts, chatting with classmates of mine, and just being creative.

This site didn’t ever turn into anything after college, but I still kept up with my favorite blogs when I moved to New York. When I moved back to DC last summer, I finally had a little more time (I was living at home and working shorter hours) and figured, why not?! After several confusing hours trying to set up a site on WordPress.org (and ultimately resorting to professional help!), DC to a T was born! It has seriously been a blast going from blog reader to blog writer (although I still read a number of blogs every day and love them). It’s also been exciting to see friends start their own blogs, meet other bloggers in the area, and see my (small) Instagram following and readership grow over the past year.

So, basically…if you’re still reading: THANK YOU. Blogging went from being an escape from real life to a way for me to TALK about my real life (well, parts of it!) and share it with you all. I am so grateful for all of the kind and supportive comments I’ve received on this site and elsewhere online. <3

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A DC Print I Love

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I got a lot of great feedback about my DC print post awhile back, but I just came across another one and wanted to share! Serena Martin does the prettiest watercolors, and I may need to add her DC map to my gallery wall!

I love the colors (especially the cherry blossoms), and she even includes District Taco! Side note: I actually JUST tried District Taco for the first time the other week and don’t know what took me so long! If you go, be sure to get chips and queso along with whatever else you order. 😉

I think this print would look super cute near my Laduree postcard (they give ’em out for free at the Georgetown location).

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Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

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3 Home Pieces You’ll See Everywhere

You know when there are those home items that you just see EVERYWHERE? Moroccan poufs, that classic black and white rug from West Elm, and the like. Below, I’ve rounded up some of these “classics” and where you’ve seen ’em so that you can get some inspiration. Hey, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Gold World Market tray: Versatile and affordable (it’s only $30!), this tray would look gorgeous on a dresser, coffee table, or bar cart! I’ve had mine since living in Philly and it’s a purchase I don’t regret one bit because it’s held up so well.

Where you’ll see it…

Jessica Sturdy’s living room tour:

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Lauren Nelson’s (old) bedroom tour:

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The classic pouf: It’s a must for any design-obsessed lady. Poufs can be expensive, but they’re so worth it. Use one as an extra seat, a foot rest, or just to add a bohemian touch. I personally have this one and love it.

Where you’ll see it…

Danielle Moss’s home tour:

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The campaign dresser: It’s a timeless piece but can be extremely difficult to find at an affordable price point! I personally love the white painted ones, but navy campaign pieces are also lust-worthy.

Where you’ll see it…

My home tour:

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Little Blue Dress

So, if you can’t already tell, I’m a little obsessed with this blue patterned dress I own and pretty much wear everywhere. I seriously have WAY too many pictures in it, which is sort of embarrassing but just goes to show how well it’s held up over the past three years. I originally bought it for a rehearsal dinner in the summer of 2014, but it’s worked perfectly for much more casual events, dates, brunches, nights out, you name it. Oh, and the best part? If I’m remembering correctly, it was only $20. The worst part? I have NO idea where it’s from, since I remember passing a random store in SoHo and leaving with the dress after only a few minutes. But still, best $20 ever spent, am I right? (Also, these are just SOME of the pictures of me in it…#yikes).

With my friend Ashley, Summer 2016
With my friend Ashley, Summer 2016

 

A night out in the city, Summer 2014
A night out in the city, Summer 2014

 

At a going away party for my friend who was joining the Peace Corps, Summer 2014
At a going away party for my friend who was joining the Peace Corps, Summer 2014

 

Before the rehearsal dinner, Summer 2014
Before the rehearsal dinner, Summer 2014

 

At brunch in Philly, Summer 2016
At brunch in Philly, Summer 2016

What I love about this dress is its flattering cut. I have pretty wide hips, so I like that the material is a bit flowy while still being tight up top. Otherwise, shift dresses generally fit me the best, and I’m pretty picky about what I will and won’t wear (hence why I’ve worn the same dress everywhere for the past three years…oops).

So, help a girl out…if you know of other equally cute dresses with a flattering cut (and preferably a fun pattern–this girl LOVES a good pattern), let me know. If only I could somehow find that little boutique in NYC and buy five more dresses in every single color…but that probably won’t happen!

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The Cutest Totes for Travel and Beyond

It seems like every website I turn to these days has the most adorable tote bags. Don’t get me wrong, I have more than enough at home, but who can resist these perfect options? Many of them would be great for travel (I actually purchased this one for my trip to Paris in August, but I’m thinking it will also make a fabulous work tote). I’ve rounded up some of my affordable faves…let me know if you decide to purchase any!

Also, on another note: I’m lusting over the famous Cult Gaia bag. Does anyone own one? I keep seeing them everywhere and have been itching to pull the trigger but just don’t know how practical they really are…if you have and love one, let me know in the comments!

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This option from Sole Society is so preppy and cheery and looks like it can store a ton!

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This would make an adorable work or school bag and has such a classic look.

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The tote I picked up for Paris! Can’t wait for it to arrive.

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Another adorable striped option that is LESS THAN $15!

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I was also looking at this tote for Paris and love the pattern.

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I’ve spotted this fun summer tote on a few other blogs and love the pom pom details.

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