How We Travel Frugally on the Plane

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

Many articles nowadays talk about frugal travel in terms of finding the cheapest plane ticket, booking luxury hotels with points, get a travel points credit card. Those all seem like common sense but what was the tipping point for us to travel frugally is actually a few things we bring on the plane.

  1. We pack tortilla wraps on the plane.

Yes, specifically tortilla wraps. We used to pack sandwiches on the plane, but usually the mayo, mustard, and the juice from the tomato make the bread soggy by the time we sit down on the plane and THIS GIRL does not like soggy bread. I recently found that if we switched to tortilla wraps, it holds much better and we can pack a much bigger portion in the wrap than a sandwich can hold in between its two flimsy soft bread slices!

I usually would get freshly sliced sandwich meat from Walmart in their deli section because 1) it is much better than the pre-packaged ones, and 2) you can get the proper amount and not waste half of the sliced turkey laying in the fridge at home.

Whenever we go on trips, we get sandwich meat a lot. It’s something easy and tasty. But have you ever gone to the deli? Personally, I don’t usually go up to the deli and ask for sliced sandwich meat, so I always get caught off-guard when the nice lady behind the counter asks me how thick I want the sandwich meat to be. I usually awkwardly say, “um… regular sandwich meat thickness?”

Well, yesterday when I was at Walmart, I saw this sign that blew my mind:

I never realized they actually have names for different thicknesses! Though, the names are not as creative, in my opinion. But now I know when I go up to the deli that I want it “shaved” (I love very very thinly sliced meat).

2. Shamelessly bring your favorite snack

I once saw this girl backpacking through the Appalachian Trail with a GIANT bag of chips strapped on top of her bag as if it’s her most precious possessions on a through-hike. I think after seeing this girl, I have come to terms with where I can bring a big bag of chips. Mr. Code Junkie loves chips, but he does not enjoy flying. So we decided we are going to bring a big ol’ bag of kettle cooked sea salt & vinegar chips (yes it’s VERY specific!) even if it counts as our “personal item.” 

I also bring dried mango and these cocoa covered almonds I found from Walmart. Now, the plane ride is more like my personal picnic time!

3. Bring an empty Nalgene bottle

Ok, it doesn’t specifically have to be Nelgene but I am properly obsessed with them. I first bought one for backpacking because they NEVER leak, you can’t break them even if you drop them on sharp stones, they have a life-time warranty (say what!), and they have a GREAT amount of surface area for me to put all the hiking stickers! I also use it as a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag on cold backpacking nights or cold nights at home. 

At Torres del Paine

This bottle started coming with me everywhere I travel, and it’s really useful. After going through security to pop to the nearest coffee shop and ask for some hot water (for some tea you brought through security) or some hot bean juice (coffee) for Mr. Code Junkie. It saves so much money not having to make a habit of going to Starbucks and being attempted to buy a pumpkin spice latte or that unicorn frappuccino (remember it was a thing?). 

What is the first domino that starts your frugal habits?

 

 

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman

I first heard about Blair Braverman from a quote from the New York Times article she wrote about the Iditarod after I came back from Alaska in September. Before Alaska, I never knew there was a race called Iditarod, nor did I know this race was run by sled dogs.

After coming back from Alaska, wanderlust, and trapped back into a COVID lockdown, I requested this book, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair, from our local library. I think I was under the impression that this book is about Iditarod or dog sledding and it’s a lot more than that. This book is more about Braverman’s recollection of how she grew up, longed to live in a cold place (I still can’t understand why), lived in Norway and lived/raced in Alaska.

I love the book, and I love the way she writes her story almost like a novel but you know everything is true. It is more of a biography than JUST about sled dogs or living in the cold. I think one unsettled feeling of mine comes from the parts where she talked about being molested by her host parent in Norway, “Far” (I guess meaning farther). She made a great effort to try and come to terms with those emotions but I don’t think she quite got there yet in the book. Maybe she didn’t get there in real life either. She also pretty objectively (almost seem like from a third-person perspective) described how she was treated in Alaska by her first boyfriend Dan, and many other men out there. Goodreads reviews described these men as misogynistic 

In comparison to a similar adventure type of autobiography, the Push, by Tommy Caldwell, I think Tommy had some disturbing memories of his childhood and previous marriage but I enjoy the parts where he looks back and reflects on them in the book as the event happens. The reflection, obviously made many years after the actual event, was helpful for me to see his full story. I think Braverman’s book is lacking some of those deeper reflections that I would have loved. Even the last few pages, Braverman was still haunted by the memory of Far, and that in-and-of-itself disturbed me ever still. I really hope karma catches up to this horrible human filth.

Overall, it was a solid read, and I love Blair’s friend in Norway, Arild.

Winter Gardening in Arkansas (Garlic, Kale, and More)

Mr. Code Junkie and I went back to his parents’ for Thanksgiving for a week and a half and we ate our weight in juicy turkey and delicious stuffings. It still feels like the parents’ house is the best since they have a stocked fridge full of wonderful surprises while our fridge looks like a college student short on money.

I had hoped my garden would hold up while I was gone because for a while there, it really was doing wonderful. The bak choy is producing every single day, the tomatoes are growing mad, and so are the peppers that I started in October! I had thought about putting a hoop house on this bed while I was gone but I looked at the forecast and it says it will go down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 Celsius), and I thought my plants can handle it.

Well, they did not.

According to my friend, the week we were gone, the temperature dipped down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius). Of all things, my calendula and lupine survived. The bak choy is struggling a little, but kale and cabbages seem to love the cold very much. 

I built a hoop house after watching this video by James Prigioni on Youtube and mine came out quite like his! Although I feel like his bed is probably a lot sturdier. According to Prigioni, the hoop house adds a zone and half which makes my zone (6A) 8 and a half! 

The garlic I planted in the fall (October-ish) all sprouted because we have had a fairly warm fall here in Northwest Arkansas. I forgot who recommended this seed company called Southern Exposure, but I got my garlic and some other seeds from this company and my sprouting rate has increased drastically compared to the seeds I buy from nurseries, or worse, Home Depot. I realized you can click on the little sun icon on the left column of the website and it shows all the seeds that are suitable for the South-East region (which isn’t exactly where I live but close enough). You can also filter by “Certified Organic,” “Heirloom,” and “From Small Farm.”

 

I recently got chatting with one of the guys who run a local orchard, and he introduced me to this rather rare fruit I have never heard before, pawpaws. This opened up a new door for me to explore all the fruit-growing hipsters of the world. After discussing with him, I decided to buy two Pawpaw trees and try it out. It takes 3 years for these trees to fruit, so I can practice my patience while I wait. I also read up on these from a book called For the Love of Pawpaws by Michael Judd. Apparently, my trees are descendants of the famous trees they cultivated from the University of Kentucky! They are supposed to taste like bananas + cantaloupe but each tree may produce a slightly different flavor of the fruit. And even crazier, there are pawpaw festivals

The reason I never heard about Pawpaws is that they have a very short shelf life (2-3 days) and cannot be transported like bananas, strawberries, and other fruits. The only way you can taste a pawpaw fruit is if you have a tree, or have a friend who has a tree! 

While there isn’t a lot going on in the garden in winter, I spent my time planning out next year’s garden layout! Learning from this year’s successes and failures (mostly failures and some dumb luck), I paired up different types of vegetables that are companions with each other, and only plant veggies I like to eat. I don’t know who I was kidding, planting beef-steak tomatoes and cucumbers thinking I would convert into a vegetarian overnight.

It is the time of year where we reflect, slow down, cook soups, spend time with loved ones, and gather our hopes for the new year (though we should always do all of these things!). I hope you are cherishing what you have and taking a break from the normal busy life to enjoy a bit of gardening in the winter.