Sunday, January 25, 2015

Escape Monthly Review: January 2015 (Portland, OR)

Escape Monthly was one of the boxes I most wanted to try, but I was wary because I'd seen a few less than positive reviews. It sounds like some people didn't like the quality of the box or the items. I decided to put it off and go with Try the World instead (what a mistake!). Then I saw that Escape Monthly had a deal on Living Social and decided I would try it out. With the deal, I was paying a lot less and it wouldn't auto-renew supposedly (I'm still trying to work this out, since I decided to go ahead and subscribe after seeing this box, but now I have two accounts and subscriptions. Hopefully they will be good about replying to emails!).

This is a monthly subscription box with a different location (US and international) chosen for each box. I love this concept and I love the idea of receiving items from each location. After seeing this box, I'm quite satisfied because these are exactly the kind of souvenirs I would pick up from my own travels.

For January, Escape Monthly selected Portland, Oregon. I wasn't all that enthusiastic about the location and somewhat wished I had saved my voucher for a better destination, but since I'd ordered, I was getting this box one way or another. I am happy that I actually liked it as much as I did, because the items were really well-chosen and the whole box was extremely well-curated.

Everything was wrapped several times and quite secure (this is good as many of my boxes lately have arrived dented. I think the post office hates me!). I also absolutely love the informational foldout. It's like a travel brochure, detailing the destination and the items. I learned about Portland, enjoyed the pictures, and still was able to link the products inside to the theme/destination. Plus, the full color design is very pretty and feels like the ideal manner in which to introduce subscribers to the location and the box itself.

The box also comes with a full travel guide to the destination. This is great, because I always like to buy these when I travel to use as a general guide and get to know the area before I arrive. Although I may never make it to some of the locations I would "visit" in the box, you never know. In this case, my sister and her husband actually have a close friend in Portland and travel there regularly, so I will just pass it along to her. Even if she's familiar with the area, I'm sure it can't hurt to read through.

I really loved all the products included in this box. I suppose technically the value isn't much more than the price of the box, and if you don't want travel guides, you barely break even, but still, I will use all these items.

Included was a Keep Portland Weird sustainable soy candle. I don't know what the scent is (I may have missed it), but I like it and the tin. I also enjoy candles and I haven't been getting many lately except tea lights (which I don't use too often). I also received mint lip balm. I honestly have a medicine cabinet's worth of lip balm - and I will never be disappointed to get more!

For bath products, there was a bar of Cedarwood soap (see my lip balm philosophy for my feelings about soap) and a full size box of bath salts. One thing I noticed about the box is that these items were all full size and giftable. As I said before, these are exactly the kinds of things I buy when I travel - local foods and household/bath products. I figure you can't really go wrong with these kinds of things, while fashion and decor can be tough to call based on individual preference.

The food items were definitely unique. One was a trio of jams from  Rose City Pepperheads. These are jellies made with fruit and habanero peppers! This might cross the adventurous line for me, but my husband is all about peppery jam! They can also be used as marinades or mixes, so he'll be trying them out in a variety of ways soon.

We also have a big bag of Masala Pop saffron rose popcorn. We had a bag, I should say! I have never tried anything like this before. It's a little like kettle corn - a mix of sweet and salty - but there's a slight flowery overtone to it. At first, I couldn't decide if I liked it or not because it was surprising. However, I definitely did like it and I love that it's such a different flavor. I would have expected Portland to be somewhat boring, because it's still in the US and doesn't have that interesting global feel of a lot of the travel-themed boxes, but Escape Monthly found unique and yet usable products.

I've signed up to keep receiving this box and I was really happy with it. The value is not much higher than the price, and I suppose it's personal preference if you would like these items, but I found the packaging and selections to be perfect for us and I can't wait to see where we are headed next month!

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