3 Things to Know for the First Time traveler

First Time Traveler Tips From Kristin

So you’re going on a trip? Are you leaving the country for the first time? Driving, Cruising, Flying?

Whatever vehicle of transportation you’ll be using for your first big trip it is an exciting one!

My very first experience traveling internationally was in 2008. I was 17 years old and getting ready to go on a cruise to Bermuda.

Things I didn’t have…  

  1. A Passport.
  2. Luggage
  3. A Clue

I was 17 years old at this point in time. I was traveling with my sister (Anita) yes, The Classy Broke girl herself.

Tip Number ONE

Get your PASSPORT!!

Regardless of where your home country may be, your passport is your ticket out.

Myself and my sister went to the post office to have our picture taken. We arrived at our appointment with our forms filled out and in hand to immediately mail.

Below, is a link to the 5 step process to obtain your passport. (If you are a US citizen.)


  • Give yourself plenty of time before your trip to get your passport processed.
  • It can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months depending on the current state of processing.
  • YES! The cliche of terrible passport photos are a thing for a reason.  Don’t stress too hard if the photo isn’t your absolute best angle. On the same note however, It does stay with you for 10 years. I had my passport renewal photo retaken many times…. Chances are you won’t love it, but, if you can find one that you don’t utterly detest, you’re doing pretty good.



So, As I was saying my first big trip was on a cruise. I did not own any luggage besides a backpack.  Anita and I went to a discount store and purchased the largest hot pink duffel bag, that to this day I’ve ever seen.

For our next trip which was a three week trip to Europe when I was 20 we went to Kohl’s and bought complete luggage sets that were buy one get one free.  Some pieces of those sets we still have 10 years later. They were definitely not the most expensive or the best quality but they did the job and then some. 

For that Europe trip we were on a group tour so it wasn’t that difficult to have a lot of luggage. At the time it seemed like we needed a ton of luggage for those three weeks. I believe that we each brought the large suitcase and a medium sized duffel type bag. We did laundry in the sink of our hotel in Rome and hung the clothes in the room. 

Now though we have both transitioned to using smaller luggage or just carry on size luggage. When you go from a large suitcase that you has to be checked to just carry on luggage it can be scary. Will I have enough clothes and how will I fit everything in? But from experience traveling with just a carry on is so much better than a large suitcase. 

Check out Anita’s post about traveling around Europe with a budget friendly travel back pack here  http://www.theclassybrokegirls.com/ebag-weekender-backpack-review/ 

And this post about why a carry on only bag is better than a large suitcase


Get a Clue!

How do you go about getting a clue about travel. By reading blogs like this one. 

Here are more from The Classy Broke Girl to help you get some travel inspiration. 




Look for travel resources on Pinterest and everyone’s favorite Google.

Here are The Classy Broke Girls’s travel boards on Pinterest to get you started.




Find travel guru’s to follow on Instagram . I am not a guru but here is my travel page on Instagram @kris10travel to give you some travel wanderlust

The more you read about travel the less scary it will be. But you can read, read and read but eventually you will need to take the leap and go for it. 

So get your passport, some luggage (smaller is actually better) and get a clue by continuing to do research and you will be ready to travel in no time. 

Budget Friendly Travel Back Pack


     Europe with a Budget Friendly Travel Back Pack

I searched high and low for a travel back pack that meet various requirement for me. One it had to meet 3 different airlines carry on sizing requirements. Two it had to fit almost 3 weeks of clothes ( I did a little bit of laundry but really didn’t need to). Three it had to be inexpensive. Some bags I saw were hundred of dollars. So what was this budget friendly travel back pack that I found?

The EBag Weekender Back Pack. It made it through 17 days, 11 Airbnb locations, 6 flights, 5 countries, 3 major cities taking public transportation with the bag, 2 rental cars and 1 cross country train ride.  

Th back pack was my carry on bag for this multi-country trip. It performed very well and I would recommend. I will be using again and again and wish that I had known about this bag sooner.


Good Quality

Lots of pockets

expandable zipper

water bottle holder

laptop slot

compression straps

22x19x9 means it fits all carry on requirements  for the overhead bin

Adjustable straps

Side strap included

Can hold a lot of stuff

Easy to go up and down stairs and escalators

9 Colors to choose from

Comes in a Junior size- 19 inches high


Can get quite heavy- mine weighed in at almost 22 pounds

Might not stay sitting up depending on how much you stuff into it

Difficult to maneuver with on a crowed train

My personal Review

The weekender bag was able to fit a ton of clothes. I packed 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of yoga pants, sneakers, Croc flats, 1 bra, socks, underwear, reusable menstrual pads, 7 long sleeve shirts, hair brush, toiletries bag, deodorant, plug converter, 11 inch laptop, soap in a plastic container and 2 vitamin bottles and 1 small backpack packed inside the large backpack. I feel that it was able to hold just as much as a regular carry on bag with wheels.

Awesome Features

The front pocket is very deep. This made it so that I was able to put my soap and my deodorant all the way down to the bottle of the bag. The front pocket were very convenient for getting the toiletry bag out when going through security. I  also found the back laptop section to be a wonderful addition for storing my laptop. That section sits against your back when the bag is on giving you peace of mind about no one being able to access it. It is quite deep but there is a pocket that helps to make it so your laptop does not slide all the way down.

There are 2 straps on the inside to help compress down your clothes. On the outside of the bag there are 4 more compression straps, 2 on each side that really help to compress the bag.In addition, the expander zipper proved to be a very useful feature. I would open the expander zipper to get all my stuff inside the bag and then use the outer compression straps to compress the bag. The compression straps made it so the bag did not look so large.


I did not have any issues with the size of the bag. We flew 3 different airlines, United, Easy Jet and Ryanair. United allows one carry on and one personal item. It was on these flights that I used a small backpack as the personal item.  On the Easy Jet flights, which we had 3 of, I had to fit everything in only 1 carry on bag. I was able to do this each time and did not have any problems with the size of the bag.

I used the sizer to double check and it fit with a little pushing. This is one of the reason I wanted a soft sided bag with no wheels or handle.  When we took the Ryanair flight, we paid to check the carry on bags. Ryanair has much smaller carry on allowances and it was easier to check the bag instead of trying to find one that fit their allowance.

Was it hard to carry around?

The E Bag Weekender was great for going up and down all the stairs we encountered. I did not have to lift my bag up to go up the stairs. If I was standing in a line for a long time I would put the bag on the floor. On the bus and the public trains I would need to take the bag off and put it on my lap or on the floor if there was room.

There was one instance in London between landing and getting the train to Paris that I walked quite far around London for some sightseeing with the backpack. This was the only time that I wished that my bag had wheels. Lather though, I  was glad my bag was on my back when we left very early in the morning for the airport and my husband’s rolling bag was very loud.


“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below”

Motherlode Weekender

$149.99 https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/mother-lode-tls-weekender-convertible/143101?productid=10362789

Look out for promotions and sales on the website. As of writing this they are offering a discount code that brings the bag down to $89.99.

Junior Weekender

$139.99 https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/tls-mother-lode-weekender-convertible-junior/241465?productid=10395044

Concluding Thoughts

I really like this bag and would recommend it and I am glad I used this bag on our cross county Europe trip. Originally I thought that I would have to spend a lot to get a travel back pack that would work. But with a little research I found what I think is a great budget friendly travel back pack. 

An even Cheaper Option?

There is one other option that is even more budget friendly. This bag seems like good quality and fits a ton of stuff. It does not open up like a suit case rather it is a backpacking camping/ hiking backpack but seems to have good back and shoulder support that would make carrying it for a long time easier than the E Bag. I do not believe this bag would fit carry on sizing ( I could be wrong) and I have not tested it out it like I did with the E Bag. I am currently using this backpack as my 3 day Emergency Go Bag.

Why you might want to consider it…. It is only about $30. Wait What! A great bag for only about $30. Yes!

I didn’t think this bag would be great quality based on the price when other bags like this sell for way more. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised in how nice it was. Please remember I have not heavily tested it yet but it is currently packed full and it seems to be really good and perfect for what I am currently using it for. I think it would be a really good hiking back pack also.

The link for that bag is below if you want to check it out. For about $30 you don’t have much to lose.




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