Jewels: Aja Dang is a TV personality, model, actress, spokeswoman, and environmental advocate with a passion for sports and geek culture. With more than eight years of on-camera experience and a Masters Degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC, she has worked with Maxim Magazine, Clevver Movies, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Xbox LIVE and FX Movie Channel. She also happens to be a Personal Chef Approach™ member, so I asked her to take the time out of her jam packed schedule to share a few travel tips with us…

Aja: Hello April, where did you come from?

1 carry-on bag = 6 outfits

1 carry-on bag = 6 outfits

We are already four months into the year and that means itʼs almost summer, which
means VACATION! I was born into a traveling family: both my parents, my grandmother
and a handful of aunts and uncles work in the airline industry so to say that we took
advantage of the traveling benefits would be an understatement
I could list all the benefits to traveling for both the mind, body and soul – but that is now
what this post is about. No maʼam, I am here to share with you HOW to travel.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I have to check in a bag. Not only is there a
possibility that your bag might not make it to its final destination, but why spend your
money on bag fees when you can spend it on a fun adventure during your trip? Plus, it
gives me peace of mind when I have eyes on my belongings at all times.

Unless youʼre traveling with children, I see no reason to need a check-in bag. Itʼs all
about packing smart, stuffing things to the brink, and finding a nice, strong man to throw
it in the overhead compartment for you. In my most recent trip, I spent 10 days traveling
Europe and was able to pack everything in a very stuffed carry-on. Here are my top 10
carry-on packing tips:

Aja's Top Ten Carry-On Tips

Aja’s Top Ten Carry-On Tips

1. Choose dual-purpose items: Most important tip – you must plan your outfits if you
want to pack wisely. Pick a couple shirts, sweaters and pants that can be mixed and
matched to make totally different outfits during your trip. For example: cardigans can
be worn alone or over a shirt, skirts can easily be taken from day to night by changing
your shoes and denim shirts can be turned into crop tops for night.

2. Wear bulky items on the plane: Jeans, boots, jackets, thick scarfs – wear them all on
the plane and save precious carry-on space. It gets cold on planes anyways..

3. Donʼt bother with jewelry: Granted, I donʼt wear too much jewelry anyways but for me,
accessorizing on trips is silly. Spend your days exploring the world instead of worrying
about whether you want to wear a rope of princess necklace. Plus, thereʼs less of a
chance of losing your precious hoop earrings if you leave them at home. But, if you
must bring accessories, limit yourself to one or two pieces.

4. Choose your shoes wisely: Iʼm sorry for all my shoe obsessed ladies, but you do not
need to bring more than two shoes on any trip. Nice walking shoes and a pair of
heals. The ʻwalking shoesʼ I brought to Europe with me were my Steve Madden boots
and I brought a pair of black closed-toe shoes.

5. Stop, drop and roll: Roll your clothes when you pack them, donʼt fold them. Trust me,
there is a difference. With pants,lay them on the bottom of your suitcase with the
bottoms hanging over the side, then fold them over all your clothes when youʼre done

6. Stuff the crap out of your suitcase: If you prefer to pack your boots instead of wearing
them on the plane, I better see belts, panties, and shirts stuffed in those boots to save
space in your luggage! I do this with workout shoes and even pumps.

7. 2-for-1 your makeup bag: Find a makeup bag that can double as a clutch.

8. Utilize your personal item: You can add a lot of little extras in your personal item.
Ballet flats, an extra sweater, even another bag! Along with the essentials youʼll need
for the flight, put whatever you canʼt fit into your suitcase into your personal item.

9. If youʼre getting bored with outfits, borrow clothes: Going on a trip with someone?
Share clothes and double the size of your attire! This even works with you boyfriendsʼ
or husbandsʼ clothes. Shirts can be tucked in, large sweaters can be cinched with a
waist belt and pants can be cuffed.

10. Know that you donʼt HAVE to go shopping on your trip: buying nicknacks on your trip
might be a fun keepsake, but for me, traveling is all about the memories – not the
items. Pack a camera, put it in your carry-on and call it a day. It might take a couple trips
to fully master the carry-on packing technique but it is well worth it – one less thing you
have to worry about while you explore the world. Another thing that helps me get ready
for my travels is to make snacks at home so I have something to eat during delays,
rebookings, or 12 hours flights. I love Julieʼs Bright Eye Muffins because they are so easy
to travel with and share!

Jewels: Thank you Aja! BTW, tip #9 is definitely one of my favorites. It’s especially handy when you
you can share make-up with your man too (wink).

Bright Eye Muffins


There is nothing like warm, freshly baked whole wheat muffins with the scent of cinnamon and banana wafting through the house to start your day – bright eyed and bushy tailed. Your family will not even notice all the extra nutrients packed in there with carrots, parsnips, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, and just enough mini chocolate chips to add a huge smile to those bright eyes, and breakfast on the go.

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


Bright Eye Muffins

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 small bananas mashed (make sure they are ripe)
  • 1 cup carrots grated
  • 1 cup parsnips grated
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots chopped
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Bright Eye Muffins

  1. Line muffin with cupcake wrappers. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in bananas, carrots, apricots, sunflower seeds, and mini chocolate chips.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Mix in oil and vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop spoonfuls of batter into lined muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.

Serving Suggestions

Great on their own, accompanying fresh fruit and yogurt, or with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Nice afternoon/tea time snack as well.


Make double batches of these, and freeze individually wrapped muffins to pull out whenever you need them (without the mess). They defrost quite quickly, or you can zap them in the microwave quickly.

« Previous PostNext Post »
  • April 4, 2014
    2:55 pm

    Brilliant! I am a horrible packer and always take way too much… mainly shoes so this is going to be printed and kept in the carryon!

  • April 4, 2014
    8:07 pm

    Great tips! I’m going on a family vacation later in the year so these tips will be a great help.
    Love these muffins! I make them often.

  • April 6, 2014
    2:30 pm

    #6 great idea..never thought of that! ! An these muffins sound like a great snack at work this week. . Will make double batch to freeze some.thnks Jewels!!