4 Types of Vacation Packages for Busy Women

Specialty Vacation PackagesTravel planning can be a lot of fun, but it’s also time-consuming — and stressing out about a vacation kind of defeats the purpose. Vacation packages can take almost all the planning out of the equation — and they don’t have to be the run-of-the-mill, giant-tour-bus trips that might spring to mind, either.

We’ve rounded up five types of vacation packages that seem just right for busy professional women who don’t have a lot of time to spend researching hotels, restaurants, activities, sightseeing spots, and so on. These companies are booking through 2017, but if you’re looking for something last-minute, you’re in luck: Now is a good time to find deals, as late summer is a less popular vacation time than early/mid-summer. (Check Last Minute Travel, CheapCaribbeanTravelzoo, or Groupon. You can also read our guest poster’s tips for traveling solo, as well as check out our last discussion about using all your vacation time.)   [Read more…]

The Hunt: Stylish Comfort Heels

comfortable heels for workSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

One of our top pages of all time is our regularly updated Guide to Comfortable Heels — and while that guide includes brands outside of those that bill themselves as “comfort” brands, sometimes you just really want a heel that is built like a sneaker, whether for commuting, for long days on your feet, or for general foot problems.  Finding stylish “comfort” heels can be a challenge, though, so I thought we’d round some up.

comfort heels under $100 Aerosoles are known for having affordable comfortable shoes, and these 3″ heels have 24 5-star reviews over at Zappos.  They incorporate Heel Rest, a “technology designed to distribute your body weight toward your heel, and away from the ball of your foot.”  They’re available in four colors in sizes 5-12 in regular and wide sizes. Another highly rated shoe from this brand: the Domino dress pump — sold out in all colors except navy at Zappos, but Amazon still has it in black and red for $46-$77. Pictured, for $79:  Aerosoles Dolled Up
stylish comfort heelsWe’ve featured this shoe a ton over the years (and it’s got a zillion great reviews on both Nordstrom and Zappos), but I’ve never noticed it in any colors but the neutral ones — I’m excited to say it now comes in NINE colors over at Nordstrom, all for $98. Corso Como Del
comfort heels for workEven though this platform is higher than what I usually recommend for work (they’re .75″ and I usually recommend no higher than .5″), I think these shoes look great for work.  They use a Cushion Plus™ technology to ensure “feet are comfy withe very step,” and though they only have 3 reviews, they’re all five stars. They’re available in black suede and patent, as well as this lovely plum suede, for $110 at Zappos. (These are from Clarks’ Narrative Collection; note that lots of ladies have also loved the Artisan collection over the years — if you have a strong preference for Artisan you may want to check out these pumps.) Pictured: Clarks Kendra Sienna
comfortable heels for workOK. I didn’t intend to feature quite so many purple pumps today, but I’m excited about these heels too: the Rockport Total Motion pump has been around for years and is highly rated over at Nordstrom — and now it comes in this lovely burgundy snake print leather (also in a black snake print as well as a ton of solid neutral colors). The shoe is $119-$128 at Nordstrom and Zappos.  Rockport Total Motion Pointy Toe Pump 
comfort heels cole haanWe’ve drooled over these Cole Haan pumps before, but it’s nice to see the ten solid reviews they have over at Nordstrom. Even better: they’re on sale! The shoes were $250, but are now marked to $159. (Amazon has more colors, some sizes and colors marked as low as $103.) Cole Haan ‘Highline’ Half d’Orsay Pump
minimalist comfort heelsI originally dismissed Eileen Fisher shoes as just another licensed brand name, but their shoes are worth noting if you’re looking for comfortable, minimalist styles. I like these architectural block pumps, which feel really modern.  They’re available in black and gray for $210. (Another modern heel in this price range: these well-reviewed pumps from Paul Green.) Pictured: Eileen Fisher ‘Hawk’ Block Heel Pump

Ladies, when you’re looking for a comfort heel, where do you start the search? Have you bought any amazing, comfortable, stylish heels lately? 

 

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

(L-all)

Weekend Prep for Monday: Do You Do It?

weekend prep for mondayOne of the things that came up in the comments on our diets for busy women post was the idea of prepping meals and snacks on Sunday for the week ahead — and I’ve read a ton of advice saying that you should steal an hour during the weekend to review the major tasks you need to accomplish in the week ahead. So I thought it might be an interesting open thread today:  Do YOU do weekend prep for Monday or the week ahead? When do you do it, and what do you do?

Pictured: veggie meal prep from @squirrel_kitchen, featured in this DailyBurn article about 21 inspiring instagram accounts for meal prep. 

For my $.02, when I was working in BigLaw I liked resting/playing on Saturday and coming into the office on Sunday for a few hours if I needed to do some work. Because I was well rested and there was no one else in the office (or, at least, vastly fewer people, and everyone was there to work), my focus was so much better — I used to call them “Super Mondays” because I was so productive. These days, I often try to get at least half of the short morning and afternoon posts written for the week on Sunday afternoons, putting in a few hours of work while my youngest son naps. If at all possible I also try to write a to-do list of my tasks for the week ahead, and put papers to review on my desk so I can get some focused work done before turning on the computer — easier said than done when your business is online! This probably isn’t even that noteworthy, but another thing I try to do is look at the NYT and WSJ and other news outlets on Sunday, because I’ve found that I waste far too much time looking at articles on Monday, particularly the longer magazine articles.

So ladies, let’s hear it — what routines and practices have you put in place for your weekends that lay the groundwork for a great week ahead? For those of you who do meal prep or have other healthy habits on the weekend, I’d love to hear what you do!  

Psst: here’s our last discussion on morning routines for successful people.

What Should Your Monthly Housing Costs Be?

housing costsHow much of your salary should you be spending on housing costs? What do you actually spend? We decided to devote a post to this topic after seeing an interesting discussion about readers’ rent/mortgage payments as compared to their incomes.

Before getting to specifics about housing: The general 50/20/30 rule for budgeting is still commonly accepted advice. The guideline was made popular by Senator Elizabeth Warren (who happens to be a bankruptcy law expert) in her book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. As described in this LearnVest article, you should:

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Returning Items Bought Online

Returning Items Bought OnlineI sometimes like to ask myself, what are my core competencies? What am I really good at — an expert in? Ladies, you’re in luck: I am an expert at returning items bought online. (I’m maybe a bit of a shopping bulimic, and while I’m not proud of this, it’s just kind of where I am in my life right now.) I have my own little system for how I return items bought online, and I’m curious to hear: Ladies, do you have any other systems or hacks for returning items bought online? Another question here: What’s your understanding of the etiquette of returning stuff? Let’s bypass the question of whether I’m being a jerk by buying a lot of stuff and then returning it — I feel like return policies were created to address this question, after all — but I do try to make things as easy as possible on the person handling the return at the other end.

So here’s my system for returning stuff online (starting from the moment you’ve decided what’s staying and going).

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The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job Hunting

The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job HuntingLadies, do you sometimes feel a little intimidated or confused by LinkedIn privacy settings and LinkedIn etiquette? If you say “open to new job opportunities” or significantly update your profile, is that a red flag to your boss? Is it creepy if people see that you’ve been looking at their profiles? We did a story in 2012 about how to secretly use LinkedIn to change careers, and I thought it would be helpful to everyone if we did an update on LinkedIn settings, whether you’re looking to change careers or just generally job hunting or networking. – Kat 

Whether or not you’re one of those people who complain that LinkedIn is turning into Facebook, it’s important to keep up with the site’s changes and new features and to always know what your privacy settings are. (By the way, if you don’t have two-step verification set up, which became an option in 2013, go do that right now.) Have you noticed the recent changes made to the LinkedIn Settings page? It’s simpler and more streamlined, but you might find it harder to locate certain options you’ve used in the past. Now is a great time to make sure you’ve got the optimal Linkedin settings for privacy — especially if you’re looking for a new job.

Pictured: linkedin, originally uploaded to Flickr by sue seecof.  

Here’s a brief guide to ensuring your job hunting (and networking with an eye to job hunting) activities stay private by picking the right LinkedIn settings:

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