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Why You Should Request Free Samples Before Summer Vacation

Why You Should Request Free Samples Before Summer Vacation

Before you head out on summer vacation, be sure to request free samples. Find out why at and I went on a mini-vacation during his Spring Break, and I opened my travel bag in the bathroom. “I better find a new free sample of toothpaste because mine is running out,” I thought. Because yes, my entire travel bag is filled with trial-sized free samples. We have a few overnight trips planned for this summer that we’re really looking forward to … and I need to brush my teeth during them, of course. So I need to request free samples because packing a full-size of everything while you’re living out of a carry on bag just doesn’t make sense.

Do you have any trips planned? If you do, you should definitely request free samples. It makes traveling so much easier.

Why You Should Request Free Samples Before Summer Vacation

They’re Convenient.
It’s so much easier to pack a sample, finish it, and then throw it away before you head home. That way, you’re not lugging a full bottle of shampoo and conditioner on vacation, then dragging an almost-full shampoo and conditioner back home. Same with something like toothpaste, body wash, floss, and anything else you might need for the bathroom.

They Weigh Less.
If you’re checking a bag when you’re flying, you have to worry about the weight of it. You only get a certain number of pounds for free. After that, you have to pay an additional fee. How awful would it be if a few ounces of a full-sized body wash was the reason you had to pay more for your checked bag? If you pack samples, there’s a much smaller chance of that happening.

You Can Carry Them On A Plane.
Post-9/11, you can’t carry liquids over 3.1oz. onto a plane. Cumulative, sure, no problem. But individually, nope. Sample sizes are always exactly that size or smaller, meaning they comply with the 3.1oz limit and you can put them in your carry on. That’s great for people like me who only bring a carry on (because we’re too cheap to pay for checked luggage). After you finish a sample, keep the bottle. You can refill it with other products (in case you can’t find a sample of your favorite mouthwash before your trip) and it will still be within the 3.1oz limit.

You Won’t Feel Bad If You Forget To Pack It To Go Back Home.
After I got my belly button pierced, I had to clean it with expensive soap for quite a while. During that time, my family stayed overnight at a hotel, so I packed my full-size bottle of soap. And, in the bustle of leaving the next morning, I forgot it. I was so mad the whole car ride home. If I had a small free sample and left it at the hotel, I wouldn’t have cared. After all, it was free.

They’re Free.
This is the most obvious reason. If you’re frugal like me, you want to save as much as you can … even if you’re on vacation. So instead of spending money and bringing your actual products with you, use free ones. Those pennies add up. And, even if you pack your own body wash, the hotel might provide you with small bottles. Use those instead and save yours for your next trip!

24 Hours In Wilmington, NC

24 Hours In Wilmington, NC

We’re kicking off a brand new series here at Drugstore Divas: “24 hours in … ” We’ll be spending 24 hours in certain cities, then giving you a game plan for when you travel there. Sometimes, all the time you have to get away is one night, so you want to make the most of it. Us too. Between work, then running a marinara sauce business and selling it at the local farmers’ market each week, we’re busy people. So I get it. If you’re like us, this is for you. We’re starting the series off with things to do in Wilmington, NC, mostly because we live here. And if you live in a city like ours, you definitely should kick off a new series with it.

Looking for things to do in Wilmington, NC? Check out this 24 Hours In Wilmington, NC post for restaurants, activities, and more.

24 Hours In Wilmington, NC

We’re starting our 24 hours off at breakfast and continuing until the next day.

Wake up and head to Ezzells Breakfast House (2115 Carolina Beach Road). Everything is good here, but I really recommend the biscuits and gravy. You might get recommendations from others who are dining there since many of Ezzells’ tables are family style — and you often sit there with strangers. That’s part of the charm, though. You end up making friendly conversation with someone you don’t know and end up making a new friend.

Head to the New Hanover County Arboretum (6206 Oleander Drive). There’s no admission fee, and if it’s free it’s for me. Especially when you’re on vacation. I want to do stuff, but I also want to eat. And if I can save money on activities, I can spend more on food. Plus, the arboretum is really beautiful. There’s a huge garden section, which grows food to be donated to a local homeless shelter, there’s a section for kids, a large zen garden, and classes too (so be sure to check the schedule before you head over).

Planning a trip to Wilmington, NC? You can't leave without trying the best local marinara sauce: Rita's Wooden Spoon (

If it’s a Saturday from April until November, I suggest you head over to the Riverfront Farmers’ Market (Water Street). It’s open from 8am until 1pm. You can pick up local vegetables, eggs, plants, seafood, and (my personal favorite) Rita’s Wooden Spoon marinara sauce. That’s Pete’s business, so we are there each week manning the stand. Come say hi.

If you’re still at the arboretum, head across the street to have lunch at The Salt Works (6301 Oleander Drive). It’s a small, unassuming restaurant that has been around for over 30 years. It only serves breakfast and lunch, and it only accepts cash, so keep that in mind. I had a very good grilled cheese there, and the Lima bean soup is great (despite what you may think of Lima bean soup).

If you already left that portion of Wilmington, check out Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House (5046 New Center Drive). It’s an old diner (I like to think of it as an oversized Airstream) that serves really good deli sandwiches and a huge variety of beer.

If you’re with kids, we absolutely love the Children’s Museum of Wilmington (116 Orange Street). There’s so much for kids to see there (like a teddy bear hospital, a really fun outdoors area, and (our favorite) an amazing fabric tree to climb on). We actually go once a year when the museum closes down, opens for ages 21-plus, and hosts Pizza Putt. For one night, there’s mini golf, pizza, and beer set up throughout the museum. It’s so much fun.

For the kid in you, you can go bowling at Ten Pin Alley (127 S. College Road). We got there every year to celebrate Pete’s birthday. It was redone recently. Before that, it may have looked familiar to you because HBO filmed Eastbound & Down there.

Actually, a ton of shows were filmed in Wilmington, so you can put together a walking tour of your favorite shows, especially if you loved One Tree Hill. There are a ton of One Tree Hill landmarks in town still. And if you loved Dawson’s Creek, you can find a lot of familiar spots as well.

Front Street Brewery (9 N. Front Street) is the oldest brewery in Wilmington. We have a ton now, but only the original gives free brewery tours daily. There’s a tour at 3:15 and another at 4:15. You’ll learn about the process, then get a chance to try a few samples too. If you find a favorite, you can have a pint at the bar and snack on some appetizers. Personally, I’m a big fan of their fried pickles and beer nuggets. They also sell a mug of bacon … in case you’re a bacon fan.

Looking for things to do in Wilmington, NC? Check out this 24 Hours In Wilmington, NC post for restaurants, activities, and more.

Head down on Water Street to walk the riverwalk (and get a great view of the USS North Carolina, a World War II warship), then hop one block up to head into Orton’s Pool Room (133 N. Front Street). It’s America’s oldest billiards and pool hall. Depending on the day you’re in town, you could play for free (Sunday till Tuesday) or just pay $7 an hour per table. Or, you could just get a drink and hang out.

If you’re not hungry yet, I have the best coffee shop for you: Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods  (202 Princess Street). We love this place. It serves great coffee, draft and bottled beer, plus has cookies, pastries, succulents, and some clothig items available for sale too. I like coffee, but don’t drink beer, and Pete drinks both, so we always dreamed of finding a coffee shop that serves beer. Bespoke is exactly that.

My favorite place to eat downtown is Copper Penny (109 Chestnut Street). It’s pub grub done really well. I love the French onion soup there. Pair it with the spinach salad and you’ll have a happy stomach.

If you want seafood (and you probably do since you’re hanging out in a coastal city), go to Dock Street Oyster Bar (12 Dock Street), which has won “Best Oysters” for the last 15 years. Split the Dock Street Steamer Platter with a friend. Trust me.

If you’re feeling romantic, The Little Dipper (138 S. Front Street) is a local fondue restaurant. It’s also where Pete and I got engaged, so it holds a really special place in my heart.

There are a few local restaurants that offer certificates on If you can purchase a few ahead of your trip, you’ll be able to save on your meals when you get here. Plus, it’ll help you from having to walk around and decide where to eat.

Now it’s time for late night. Depending on the day and season, you have a ton of options. Front Street, as you may have realized, is full of bars. You can spend time in any of them and have a good time. If you’re looking for something with a little more activity, our favorite ideas are:

Tuesday: Comedy Bingo at Dead Crow Comedy Room (265 N. Front Street). You can get $2 tacos, $2 shots, $2 beers … and a free comedy show. You get a bingo card with words on it. Then, two or three comics perform. You mark down any words they say that are on your bingo cards. And if you get bingo, you can win prizes at the end of the night, like tickets to comedy shows, t-shirts, and gag gifts.

Friday: If you’re in town from about Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, you can check out Downtown Sundown, a free concert on the water (Water Street, between Princess and Market Streets). A local band performs from 6pm to about 7:30pm, then a nationally touring cover band takes the stage from 8pm to 10pm. What’s very cool is that you are able to drink beer and wine outdoors in that area, so it makes for a fun activity.

If you like music, there are a bunch of music venues that get big names. Check out The Throne Theater (208 Market Street) and Greenfield Lake Amphitheater (1941 Amphitheater Drive). You can also see some great performances at the Kenan Auditorium at UNCW (601 S. College Road). If you’re into theater, you can catch fantastic shows at Thalian Hall (310 Chestnut Street) too.

And if you just want to barhop, there are tons of bars downtown for you to do just that.

Looking for a great hotel in Wilmington, NC? The TownePlace Suites Marriott is for you.

We recommend you stay the TownePlace Suites Marriott (305 Eastwood Road). This is the hotel we blocked for our wedding guests used when we got married. It has a BBQ outside (which we used), plus twice a week, there is food catered by a nearby restaurant and beer and water provided, free for hotel guests.

Definitely book through a cash back site like eBates or TopCashBack. I always go to those before booking any hotel (or car rental) because you can get a percentage back. And every little bit of savings helps.

You’re heading out, and there’s just enough time for one more breakfast. Good thing you can get that free at the TownePlace Suites Marriott before you check out. My mom was a huge fan of the pancake maker when she stayed there during our wedding week, so try that before you hit the road.

*If you’re planning a trip, be sure to click each location’s name to be brought to their website. You can find operating hours and more that way.

Toiletry Bag Packing List

Toiletry Bag Packing List

Planning a vacation? Be sure to check out this Toiletry Bag Packing List from first.I love lists. I often make to do lists so I can keep my blog work on track. But when I’m traveling, I’m a big fan of lists too … especially packing lists. My mom used to have a great master list on the computer that she would print every time we went on vacation. There was a version for camping and another for flights. It was a huge help. So, to help you out, I actually made a toiletry bag packing list. If you’re headed out on spring break or getting ready for a night out of town, this is perfect.

Toiletry Bag Packing List

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Razor
  • Q-tips
  • Hair Brush
  • Makeup
  • Makeup Remover
  • Contacts + Case
  • Contact Solution
  • Glasses
  • Face Wash
  • Eye Cream
  • Lip Balm

To make your life even easier, I actually created a printable packing list. All you need to do is right click the image below and save it to your desktop. Then, every time you’re packing for a trip, just print it out. Cross off the items as you pack them in your bag and you’ll be sure to remember  them all.

Planning a vacation? Be sure to check out this Toiletry Bag Packing List from first.

Keep in mind that if you’re flying, there are size-restrictions on your liquids, plus the airline may enforce additional restrictions on what can be packed. Be sure to check with your airline before packing.

Want more travel posts?

How To Plan A Weekend Birthday Trip
Planning a weekend birthday trip? Get all the details and tips on how to plan one from

How To Be A Tourist In Your Own City

How To Be A Tourist In Your Own City

Drugstore Divas received the sweatshirt in this How To Be A Tourist In Your Own City shirt.

Can't get away? Don't worry. You can still be a tourist in your own city. Find out how at

We are going away for spring break this year, which is new for us. We usually just turn the week into a staycation. I’m excited to get away, even though it’s only for half the week. The other half, we’ll be playing tourist at home. Have you done this? It’s actually a lot of fun, plus it’s a lot cheaper on the wallet than actually going  on a trip. To help you plan, we put together this how to be a tourist in your own city post.

How To Be A Tourist In Your Own City

Start at your city’s tourist bureau.
Most cities will have a tourist bureau to give information to out-of-towners. You can use this for yourself, though. Most of the time, when people go out in their own cities, it’s for dinner at a familiar restaurant. Or maybe you go to a park you love. People tend to go to the same places. If you go to your city’s tourist bureau, you can get ideas for places you may have forgotten about or may have never been.

Ours also has an entire section for freebies for local residents. Many of our local museums offer a residents day where anyone in the county can visit for free. Definitely work some free attractions into your schedule so you can save some money.

Pack a camera.
When you’re on vacation, you tend to break out the large camera (at least, we do; I know most people just rely on their phones). Don’t forget your camera when you’re a hometown tourist. Act like a tourist and take photos of historical landmarks, famous buildings, your dinner, etc. Anything that you would shoot when you’re out of town, shoot when you’re in town.

Go out to eat at a tourist spot.
We live at a beach town, so we have a couple very tourist-y seafood buffets that we always pass. You know, the ones with an oversized crab greeting you as you drive by. Stop in there, and see what the tourists eat. Don’t go to your little hole in the wall, off the beaten path, local joint. Go right in the mix of bathing suits and beach towels (or your town’s equivalent). 

Book a hotel.
The only time we stayed in a hotel in our city was the day after we got married. We had a room booked at the hotel where our reception was. Other than that, we’ve never slept in our city. If we were playing hometown tourist, I would definitely book us a hotel for a night. Pick a hotel with free breakfast and coffee in the room. That way, it feels like a vacation. Plus, we would be able to take our time leaving the next morning.

Can't get away? Don't worry. You can still be a tourist in your own city. Find out how at

Pack a bag.
You want to be prepared for anything when you’re out and about. Sure, you can probably easily run home between day and night activities, and that is a perk of vacationing in your own city, but pack a bag and make it feel like you’re out of town. Put in a sweatshirt and long pants, so if you get cold, you have clothes with you. That’s what I did recently. We were out exploring our area and I had the Native Sun Bird Wide Neck Sweatshirt from Vibration Apparel. I actually am obsessed with this shirt. It’s really lightweight, so perfect for spring, and incredibly soft inside. Pete wanted to claim it as his own actually, but the wide neck wasn’t for him.

What tips do you have for being a tourist in your own city?

How To Plan A Weekend Birthday Trip (& Enter to win a decades box from Old Time Candy, ends 4/13)

How To Plan A Weekend Birthday Trip (& Enter to win a decades box from Old Time Candy, ends 4/13)

Drugstore Divas received a product from Old Time Candy for this post. All thoughts and opinions belong to Drugstore Divas.

Planning a weekend birthday trip? Get all the details and tips on how to plan one from

My father-in-law’s 70th birthday was recently, and we’re heading to Washington, DC next month to celebrate. We’re really excited. Pete and I have been planning a weekend birthday trip for his dad, and I figured our planning could really help if you’re planning any upcoming weekend birthday trips.

How To Plan A Weekend Birthday Trip

Pick a location.
First and foremost, you have to figure out where you’re going. For a weekend, you’re probably not going to fly anywhere. Instead, you probably need to head somewhere within driving distance. Look at a map and find somewhere you can get to in a handful of hours.

For us,  Pete realized DC is halfway between us and his dad.  We could both drive there in a morning and still have the afternoon and evening to hang out.

Find activities.
Once you figure out where you’re going, figure out what you want to do there. Look on Pinterest, travel sites, the city’s Visitor Bureau, etc. Write down a ton of ideas, then start to narrow them down based on where everything is located. You don’t want to overbook yourself, so be sure to choose a couple great activities for each day. But leave time in case there’s traffic, an activity is crowded, etc.

Book a hotel.
Once you’ve settled on a location and found things you can do there, book a hotel. You can ask friends for recommendations or look on discount hotel sites. In addition to prices, those often have reviews from people who have stayed there previously. Be sure to check out amenities as well. A hotel could be a great price, but if you’re paying a ton for parking, it’s not a great deal anymore.

Personally, I prefer hotels that offer a complementary breakfast. If you can have breakfast in the hotel for free, you won’t have to spend as much money outside of the hotel.

Figure out what you need for the weekend, including any dressy clothes if you’re planning on heading to a nice dinner to celebrate, plus shoes. And pajamas. I’m writing that because I have a tendency to forget to pack pajamas when we go away, and then I end  up wearing whatever Pete packed.

Bring a gift.
If it’s your birthday, you don’t have to bring yourself a gift. I mean, you could, but that would be a little ridiculous. If you’re going away for someone else’s birthday, bring a gift with you.

Planning a weekend birthday trip? Get all the details and tips on how to plan one from

I’m going to let you in on a secret, but you have to keep the secret if you know Pete’s dad. We are bringing him a decade box from Old Time Candy. Let’s chat about it for a minute. Old Time Candy is a site where you can purchase, you guessed it, candy from the past. You can pick and choose, or you can purchase by decades: 1950’s to 1990’s. (You can search candy back to pre-1920’s, but this box starts at the 1950’s). The site suggests you pick the decade when the recipient was 10, so we picked the 1950’s box.

Now, obviously, I was not around in the 1950’s, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in the box. When it arrived, some of the candy was familiar to me, like wax bottles and a candy necklace. But there were some that I had never seen before, like a licorice pipe. That one had me laughing. Could you imagine how up in arms parents of today would be if stores sold licorice pipes?

There was a great mix of full-size candies (like Raisinettes and Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy) and small, individually-wrapped candies (like Honeycombed Peanuts and Walnettos). It was so fun for me to look through everything, and it wasn’t even my nostalgia. I was just imagining how I would be with the 1990’s box, snapping back to my childhood as I picked up Warheads and Cry Baby’s. And that made me think of how Pete’s dad would be going through this box. It’s less about the candy and more about the memories.

Planning a weekend birthday trip? Get all the details and tips on how to plan one from

So of course, that made me think about how much my dad would love this. Yup, I just found his Father’s Day gift (and maybe his Christmas gift too). But back to this box for Pete’s dad. The decades box can be personalized with a “birthday with a zero” box top. Since we are going on this trip for a birthday with a zero, this was perfect.

Do you know someone this would be perfect for? You’re in luck. We are giving away one 4-pound decade box from Old Time Candy. This giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on April 13. The winner must be a US resident who is 18 or older. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drugstore Divas is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

5 Healthy Beach Snacks (so you don’t reach for potato chips)

5 Healthy Beach Snacks (so you don’t reach for potato chips)

Planning a trip to the beach? Don't pack potato chips! Check out these 5 Healthy Beach Snacks that you can pack instead (from love the beach. We live close to it so we’re able to go as often as we want. Actually, we just got back from it. As we were there today, I started thinking about snacks. Personally, we bring snacks that are as healthy as possible, but I know people who just grab potato chips because it’s an easy option. You can use the excuse that you’re on vacation, I guess, but so often we go to the beach when we’re not on vacation so that doesn’t work for us. If it doesn’t work for you, or if you just want to be conscious of what you’re eating, I put together a list of 5 healthy beach snacks.

5 Healthy Beach Snacks (so you don’t reach for potato chips)

This is my favorite beach snack. We will buy a frozen bag and take it out when we are packing for the beach. We will leave it in a plastic bag (instead of putting it in the cooler with our drinks) when we pack. And, by the time we are ready to snack, the edamame have thawed to the point where they are perfect to snack on. They’re delicious and addicting — and packed with soy and protein so they’re good for you. Plus, that separate plastic bag you packed these in can double as a garbage for the shells.

Cut vegetables are such a great way to snack at the beach. Peel and cut carrots, cut up some celery, and you’re good to go. You’ll get the same crunch that you would from potato chips, but without all the grease and unwanted garbage. You can bring a dip for these, if you really need, but I really like vegetables plain. They have a good taste and you don’t have to think about unwanted calories.

Cheese and crackers
This is one of my favorite snacks in general. Buy some crackers, put some cheese in your cooler, and snack when you’re hungry. You can cut a block of cheese the night before the beach and just drop it in a reusable container that you can grab when you’re walking out the door. If you want to make it even simpler, you can pack cheese singles. Just fold them into fours when you get to the beach and there’s no night before prep.

Fruit is such a hit any time we go to the beach. It’s so hot out and my body just craves the water that’s in fruit. You can chop up some watermelon, pack a bunch of grapes, toss an apple in a bag, whatever is easiest and most delicious for you. If you do decide to chop your apples or pears (or similar) the night before, sprinkle the slices with a bit of lemon juice before you put them in the fridge. It will help to keep the cut fruit from discoloring during the night.

If I make popcorn at home, it’s never out of a microwavable bag. I always use the kernels and pop it myself. That way, you can really make sure it’s healthy. Don’t add butter and salt and this is a great beach snack. You’ll get the same sensation of popping potato chips, but none of the bad stuff that comes along with them.

What healthy beach snacks are your favorite?