The Luggage Set That We Use

Some people have asked about the suitcases that we use when we travel, so here is a quick description of our luggage set.

Luggage at the AirportWe have a Coolife 3-Piece Luggage Set that we purchased with money from our wedding almost five years ago. Prior to these suitcases, we already owned a few older pieces of baggage, but we wanted something with the spinner wheels so that we could roll them around more easily.

Since buying this set, we have taken it all over the US and to several countries overseas. To say that these suitcases are well-used and well-loved would be an understatement.

Here are some key features and benefits of this luggage set.

  1. Durable Construction: The luggage is made of 1680D Oxford cloth, which is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. The material provides better protection for your belongings compared to traditional polyester luggage. As mentioned earlier, this luggage has been through a lot, and each piece is still in great condition. Coolife also includes a 2-year warranty with the set in case something unexpectedly breaks.
  2. Optimal Organization: The set includes a variety of sizes to suit different travel needs, including a 20-inch carry-on, 24-inch medium luggage, and a 28-inch large luggage. The set also has a nice 15-inch tote bag, something that was not included when we purchased the set in 2019. This nice variety of sizes makes it possible to pack efficiently either for short trips or extended vacations.
  3. Easy Mobility: Each piece of luggage is equipped with four multi-directional spinner wheels and a telescopic handle, allowing for smooth and effortless maneuverability through airports, train stations, and other travel environments. This is one of the main reasons we bought them.
  4. TSA-Approved Lock: This is something else new that was not available on our luggage when we bought it. For added security and peace of mind, each piece of luggage in the set has a built-in TSA-approved lock. This allows TSA agents to open and inspect your luggage without damaging the lock, keeping your belongings safe during travel. If you’re someone who likes to lock your luggage, you might find this handy. Perhaps this would also keep your zippers from gettting caught and damaged by other luggage.
  5. Compliance with Airline Standards: The carry-on luggage in the set is suitable for US airline cabin luggage according to IATA standards. This means you can confidently bring it on board with you as a carry-on item, avoiding the need to check luggage and potentially saving time and hassle at the airport. Even when fully loaded and bulging, the 20-inch carry-on still fits nicely in the overhead bins.
  6. Ergonomic Design: The luggage features a sturdy ergonomic aluminum telescoping handle, providing comfortable handling for travelers of all heights. Whether you’re pulling the luggage behind you or pushing it alongside you, the handle ensures a comfortable grip and easy navigation.

One downsides of the suitcases is that they sometimes get wet when it’s raining. If you suspect that you will be in that situation often, maybe you would cosider a hard case luggage set instead of a soft case like these.

The reason we opted for soft cases is two-fold. First, we assumed (whether rightly or wrongly) that hard cases would be more susceptible to scratching and looking worn. Second, we tend to pack our suitcases as tightly as possible, and it’s easier to stuff a soft case suitcase than a hard case one. As far as protection of belongings is concerned, we think that has more to do with how you pack things inside. Even a hard case won’t protect fragile items if they were poorly packed.

One final note about appearance. We recommend choosing a colour other than black if you want to make it easier for yourself to find your bags at the luggage carousel when you fly. Because we chose a pleasant blue colour, we can locate our bags easily most of the time, and Baby Jadon even recognizes our bags now. If you want your bags to blend in with the others though, yeah, go with black!


Overall, the Coolife Luggage Set offers a combination of durability, functionality, and convenience at a great price, making it our personal #1 choice of luggage for traveling. If we had to buy them all over again, we definitely would!

What do you prefer for bags or suitcases when you travel?

The #1 Way to Save Money on Food When Traveling

We love food.

We especially love food that has variety and unique flavours.

But more than food, we love to save money. Food, unfortunately, is a great way to waste a lot of money if you aren’t careful.

According to a conglomeration of sources, the average monthly food expenses for a family of four in the US can range from $600-1,000.

Honestly, we don’t know how they do it.

DR Hotel BreakfastWe live in the Minneapolis, MN, area, have one toddler and one infant, and average about $220 or less per month between groceries and restaurants. Sadly, we even have food go bad because we cannot keep up with all the food that we have. We truly are blessed beyond measure.

When we travel, our eating habits don’t change too much as we bring along our own food with us whenever we can to avoid paying for food at restaurants. If we are on longer trips where we stay in hotels or Airbnbs and cannot bring enough of our own food with us, we will buy food locally and prepare our own meals.

Yes, from time to time we might miss out on local cuisine, especially when traveling overseas. But we would argue that we don’t miss out on too much.

Benefits of Skipping the Restaurants

Here are several reasons we would rather eat our own food than go to restaurants:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Dining out at restaurants, especially in touristy areas, can quickly add up and strain your travel budget. By bringing or making your own food, you can significantly reduce your daily expenses and allocate your funds towards other travel experiences. With proper planning and smart shopping, homemade meals can be a fraction of the cost of restaurant dining.
  2. Flexibility and Convenience: When you bring your own food, you have the flexibility to eat whenever and wherever you please. Whether you’re on a road trip, exploring a new city, or spending a day at the beach, having your meals readily available allows you to focus on your itinerary without the need to search for restaurants or wait for table service (especially if you have squirmy little kids). Additionally, homemade meals can be customized to accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences, ensuring a satisfying and stress-free dining experience.
  3. Healthier Options: Dining out is enjoyable for many reasons. But by preparing your own food, you have the opportunity to choose nutritious and wholesome ingredients, control portion sizes, and avoid excess sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats commonly found in restaurant dishes. This not only promotes better health and well-being but also saves you from potential post-meal regrets.
  4. Cultural Immersion: Bringing or making your own food while traveling allows you to visit local markets, grocery stores, and specialty shops, providing insight into the region’s culinary culture and ingredients. Shopping for fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and homemade breads can be a delightful adventure in itself, offering a deeper connection to the destination and its food traditions. We absolutely love exploring local markets, experiencing the smells and sights, and haggling with the locals over their goods. In our opinion, this is a great alternative for those who like to try the food at their destination.

Examples from Our Travels

When traveling to neighboring states, we typically drive, so it’s easy to pack some snacks and a few meals in our bags. Snacks also help us stay awake and occupied while we drive.

When flying domestically, we take advantage of any airport lounges along the way because they usually have plenty of complimentary food options. Our home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul has several amazing lounges that we love to frequent!

Packing food when flying is a little more difficult, but we do it. The key here is that you have to be willing to fly with checked bags, and you don’t want to pay for those checked bags. We usually fly Southwest in the US because they allow two free checked bags per person, and we also get a lot of value from our Southwest Companion Pass. But we also fly Delta and United once in awhile, and we have credit cards that give us free checked bags on those flights.

Whenever possible, we stay in Airbnbs or hotels that have full kitchens available. If that is not possible, we at least try to get places that have mini-fridges and microwaves.

Flying internationally is the trickiest when it comes to bringing and preparing our own food, especially because of border restrictions when traveling with fresh food. So for overseas travel, we tend to rely more on local markets and grocery stores.

Grocery Store in PortugalIn 2022 when we went to Portugal, the first thing we did after leaving the airport was go to a grocery store. For less than $10 we got yogurt, drinkable yogurt, juice, crackers, cheese, and a jug of water. Paired with the breakfast that we got at our oceanside bungalow, we were set for a few days!

After leaving Portugal and going to Greece, we went to a grocery store for bread, hazelnut spread, sausage, potatoes, and pasta for less than $20, and that provided us with meals for several days.

Last year in the Dominican Republic, we got rice, milk, sausage, eggs, bananas, and avocadoes from the store and an open-air market. For a little less than $29 total, we had healthy, energy-packed meals for a whole week while we traveled around the country. In fact, we actually had too much food!

When staying in hotels, we also like to book the ones that offer complimentary breakfast, and they will usually provide food that is local to the area. We have had some amazing breakfasts at hotels in the Philippines, Malta, Slovenia, Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Italy, and the Dominican Republic. No need to go to a restaurant for lunch or supper when we had a huge meal of international food for breakfast!


Bringing or making your own food while traveling offers a myriad of benefits, from saving money and promoting healthier eating habits to enhancing cultural immersion and outdoor dining experiences.

Someday when we are in a better position financially, we would love to eat out more at restaurants when traveling. But for now, saving our money for other things is a higher priority, and we are content!

You can stretch your travel budget further, savor delicious flavors, and create unforgettable moments on your journey. Before you head out on your next adventure across the state or across the world, consider packing a few homemade snacks or meals to enjoy along the way – your wallet will thank you!

Do you have your own tips for saving money on food when traveling?