Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Travel 101: Flights

Hi folks,

First off I want to let you all know upfront that I'm just covering domestic travel in the USA. Someday I might do an international post, I think I might have to go renew my passport before that!

Just after touching down in Salt Lake City, UT



The number one way to travel distances along with being generally the most costly.  If I'm trying to plan a plane trip I always start by visiting Google's Flight Matrix.  (Originally created by a company called ITA software as an independent flight tool, meaning it's programing offers unbiased information allowing you all the facts to choose what's best for you.)  It searches all the Airlines, minus Southwest (They don't let anyone except their own site publish fare information.) and has an easy system allowing many different search options.
Search Options Include:

  • Round Trip, One Way, and Multi-City
  • Multiple Airports for each destination
  • Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First Class flights
  • Number of Passengers
  • Number of Stops
  • Price
  • Airline
  • Time of Day
  • Flight Duration
Other cool features include a map where you can choose your departure city and hover over other cities to find interesting and unexpected deals on destinations around the world.  Though if you look internationally please know that there will be some airlines omitted from listings, similar to Southwest.

Using your own location there are prices for popular destinations further down the main page, as well as access to your two most recent searches.  Plus once you've started a search you can open a calendar and compare prices for different dates with no limits on what you can search except what airlines have published.

Flying over the city of Roanoke, VA


If Southwest flies to and from the destinations you need I would always check their prices, they're often very close to the competition, sometimes a bit more expensive, other a bargain.  But the big draws of Southwest are free checked bags, and free changes to flights.  On the other hand all their planes have narrow seats, only 17" in width, and they have at times been discriminatory towards larger customers (though after a few well publicized events this now happens much less frequently).

Seat Guru

SeatGuru is the third website I might turn to while planning.  Once you've narrowed down your flight options it can help you choose between similar flights if being comfortable is one of your concerns.  You can input information for each flight you're evaluating and see a map of the plane, measurements for the seats and legroom too.

If you're like me and larger sized you may even want to start with SeatGuru to figure out which airlines you prefer.  The seat sizes and pitch of the seats (legroom) vary by the model of plane and each particular airline.  There are comparison charts organized by short and long haul flights and ticket class.  They also list amenities such as video screens (including type whether it's overhead, seat back, or on-demand), if laptop power is available and whether it's AC or DC current, and if there's WiFi available.  And you can sort the chart by whichever category is important to you.  

Leaving Atlanta, GA, Delta's hub city.

Other Tidbits

Beyond the three resources above note that flying on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will get you the cheapest ticket.  Additionally book 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 months in advance of your trip usually yields the best price on fare.  The only exception is the week before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Around those holidays it's best to get the flight 3-4 months in advance because they fill up faster.

I should note that I no longer book on sites like Orbitz, Priceline, or Travelocity.  They sell third party bookings and your flight isn't 100% guaranteed because if they're overbooked you will be the first to be cut and put on standby.  No one wants that!  So I check the prices on Google and Southwest, and buy directly from the airline when I know which flight I want.

If you think you might be spending some time in an airport for a layover or as you wait for your initial flight you may want to research the airport in advance.  It may make the choice for you if there are several layover airports to choose from and one airport is particularly pleasant when the other choice is in need of updating.  I look for three things when I visit an airport website:
  1. Free WiFi, you really want then to have this if you'll be stuck there for 4 hours, if not bring a good book.
  2. A map of the airport, if it's a larger airport you may even want to have a printed map handy.  Knowing how to get from terminal A over the D might be further than you think!
  3. Know what food is there.  If you need to eat in an airport it's nice to know how many or few options there may be.  Some airports are delightful, and some just sad.  I like knowing in advance so I can choose something that's healthier or that will hit the spot after a long day.

Finally on the day of my flight I like to make sure I have a change of clothes in my carry on if I have a checked bag, just in case luggage gets lost.  I try to print my ticket in advance if possible, or allow plenty of time to be in line to print it at the airport and check any bags.  Do you think I left something out?  Let me know in the comments!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Capsule Wardrobe Woes

Hi friends,

This week has been a busy one for me.  And maybe it's just the season, but it seems like I've got more on my plate and mostly that's great.  I'm finding myself able to deal with more stress and getting better organized too.  I finally found a planner to carry with me that I really love too!  I heard of it though Scruffy-Little Nerdherder's Blog and I can't wait to get it in the mail from Ruskerville's Etsy shop!  This is the planner I went with:

I love it because not only is it awesomely Harry Potter themed, with quotes and lovely details put into it, (and Ravenclaw!!) but it also consists of just monthly calendar pages and notes (he makes other kinds with days too).  I find that looking at a whole month is much easier for me than trying to do things day by day.  Which might sound a little funny, but I think it's because I'm detail oriented enough that it makes me crazy to try planning every second of my day.  Plus all the times I've tried to plan out my days I feel discouraged because they never go as planned anyway and I feel doomed to fail before I even start if it feels too busy.

Capsule Wardrobe Woes

Anyway, I wanted to start off this post with something more positive because I can't help but feel like I'm going to be more negative than I'd like as I assess the failings for my fall capsule wardrobe.   (Which you can take a peek at here!)  Maybe it will turn out to be in your advantage that things haven't worked as well.  So, the biggest problem I've had is with my tops.  I feel like I don't have enough variety or perhaps enough flexibility with them.  I think going forward than means I need to have a couple more basic pieces, which is something I managed to do much better in my summer capsule wardrobe.  Here's a quick comparison:

                                              Tops                 Layering                   Bottoms
Summer                                14                      3                               11
Fall                                        16                      3                               10

As you can see things look pretty good if we're going by the numbers.  But let's break this down some more and see if we can make sense of it.  Of the 16 tops 3 can only be worn in colder weather.  So that puts me at 13 tops the can be worn and layered.  I've found that this layering piece from Forever21 really only works with 4 of my tops, and it's not very useful.

So it will be one of my first pieces to go up on Poshmark! (an app/site for buying and selling new and gently used clothing)  I'll be replacing it with this Old Navy Perfect Henley:

My other problem, which doesn't feel so bad, but is still in need of change is that I added these corduroy Toms to my capsule wardrobe without first checking to see if they fit properly.  *facepalm*  They don't fit me, they're a half size too small and will be finding a new home via Poshmark!

So I'm left without a sneaker or other warm shoe other than boots.  And boots aren't for as much as I now love my boots I don't want to wear them out too fast.  I think I'll be replacing the Toms with some Converse Chuck Taylors in purple as my first Purchase on Poshmark.

I'm hoping the one new top will make all the difference, but I think in some ways my problem is simply the wild weather here in North Carolina.  I may reconsider this later, but right now I feel like I could-

  1. Have smaller summer and winter capsules, and larger fall and spring ones, rather than the typical capsule.
  2. Try my changeovers at a different time, so that summer might be July-September, fall October-December, winter January-March, and spring April-June.
  3. Have two main capsules and two mini transitional ones.  Summer would be in use April-September, and winter October-March.  The mini wardrobes would be laying pieces and pants in fall, and tanks and shorts in spring.
For now I'll still be planning my winter capsule wardrobe to start in December, and I may do a whole year before trying to change my methods.  My problem may be that I have too many unique pieces less suitable for laying.  If so spending a whole year on this project will help me cull them at least.  I'm really not sure what I'll end up doing, but writing down my options allows you all to give feedback if you have any ideas.  So please feel free to send any tips my way!