Tom Bihn’s website heralds this bag as “a supremely organized backpack” and I tend to agree. While it is the same size as your run-of-the-mill booksack, the genius lies in its design. There are all sorts of pockets and compartments that allow you to pack like a pro! This bag made one-bag travel a reality for me and I can’t imagine boarding a plane without it. In a recent Uber to the airport, my driver balked at my lack of luggage and I’d never felt so proud. All thanks to my Tom Bihn!!!
This is an awesome place to store all the little things you might need access to without having to sling a backpack off your back (See also: purse, lol). So it’s the perfect companion for my Synapse. You can also detach the strap and use it within your main bag to store items like cords, toiletries, or underwear. Then pop the strap on once you’ve reached your destination and *BAM* purse. Very versatile little piece. I actually have TWO!
This little doodad let’s you hang your bag, water bottle, hat, beach towel, etc. off of just about ANYTHING. Hang your backpack off of the nearest tree branch on a picnic. Hang your purse off the table at your favorite dive bar. Hang your water bottle off your exercise bike. Hang your day bag off your wheely suitcase as you whisk it through the airport. You get the idea… Oh, and my #1 use for mine? Hanging my Tom Bihn up in bathroom stalls. (TMI?)
Yu-Be’s highly concentrated glycerin formula isn’t greasy. It just soaks right into the skin! It’s also enriched with Vitamin E and B2 to nourish and repair. Perfect for dealing with that dry cabin air.
Chet’s birthday was yesterday, so this past weekend, we took a day trip to Chattanooga to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Here are a few pictures I snapped with my phone, if you’d like to see…
The aquarium is separated into two buildings — Ocean Journey and River Journey. The former houses the saltwater habitats and showcases playful penguins, touchable stingrays, beautiful butterflies and a spectacular coral reef with big sharks and schools of fish.
They also had a HUGE jellyfish exhibit featuring every type of jellyfish you could imagine plus a bunch of art inspired by the species! I loved how extraterrestrial these guys looked…
…and these glass blown pieces were STUNNING.
Digger and Louie the otters! You can read more about the Tennessee Aquarium enrichment practices HERE.
If you didn’t know, Chet adores visiting aquariums and creating/maintaining little sea-life ecosystems of his own is one of his most beloved hobbies. (We even visited the Newport Aquarium the day we got engaged!) Needless to say, he had a ball!
The River Journey building included exhibits featuring rivers nearby (like the Tennessee River) and around the world (like the Amazon). The Mississippi Delta exhibit, and Alligator Bayou specifically, felt very familiar.
Random highlights? Pig-nosed turtles…
…a Twitter powered by Electric Eels…
…and a tank dedicated to the very lake we drove across to get to Chattanooga!
Such a magical way to spend the afternoon. Just observing all the beautiful creatures…
…and making wonderful memories!
Thanks Tennessee Aquarium! We had a wonderful visit and hope to visit again soon.
The birthday boy gave this adventure a big TWO THUMBS UP!
Here are a few other adventures we would recommend:
The one item that has changed my travel game the most? Packing cubes. Seriously, if you’ve never used one of these space saving devices…do yourself a favor! Since making this life-changing discovery, I’ve tried a few different kinds. But today, I’d like to put the NOMATIC COMPRESSION CUBE to the test. Let’s see what I can stuff inside!
The NOMATIC COMPRESSION CUBEis made of rip-stop nylon so it is super durable and strong. What sets it apart from the other cubes I’ve tried is that it has two compartments. Not only that, there’s an extra zipper in the middle that helps compress everything down! The double compartment could be useful for a few different things — keeping dirty and clean clothes separate, organizing by type of clothes, or even a side per person if you’re a super minimal couple!
When the packing cube is full it is about 5 1/2 inches tall. However, by zipping the central perimeter zipper, that number can shrink down by about 2 inches! What?! The overall size of the cube is roughly 10 1/2 by 8 inches. For perspective, I have PURSES bigger than that!
Let’s pack some stuff up!
I tried to include some bulkier items that I might not normally take if I was one-bag traveling — like heavy duty yoga pants and jammy pants.
Here’s what I fit inside:
1 button down shirt
1 pair of yoga pants
1 pair of denim shorts
1 set of jammies (t-shirt and pants)
3 pairs of underwear
and 1 pair of ankle socks
The middle zipper is what makes it a compression cube!
My hope was that it would sit at the bottom of the bag like this!
Success! (You could honestly stack two in there!)
Look at all that room! Plenty of space for my laptop, another packing cube (or two!) and a toiletry bag. Plus, all the other pockets of the Tom Bihn are free for other goodies. If I were packing for an actual trip (instead of just experimenting), I would probably use the NOMATIC for everyday clothes (maybe tops on one side and bottoms on the other?) and use a smaller packing cube for underwear, socks, jammies, and workout clothes. Which would mean I could fit A LOT of outfits in a NINETEEN LITER bag.
Final verdict – This is a fantastic packing cube for smaller backpacks! The compression zipper really does a lot to bring the bulk down and double sides is super handy. This little baby holds a LOT!
It’s mid-April as I write this, and for lots of us, now is the time to start thinking about an annual summer vacation. Yippee! It’s certainly an exciting prospect, with downtime from work, and the opportunity for some much needed R & R (either alone or with loved ones in tow). HOWEVER… for many, summer vacations induce anxiety. All manner of things can go wrong, and the idea of a “perfect” vacation is a lot to live up to.
Prep and plan as you might, your vacation may not go the way you expect it to…
The weather – torrential rain, wind, cold snaps – where was the sunshine you were hoping for?
Grumpy companions – you have taken them away for their holidays, but why do they insist on complaining all of the time?
Transportation – missed or cancelled flights, car breakdowns, other people getting in your way…if only there was an easier way to transport yourself around the world.
Sickness – you really should have learned the lingo before choosing from the menu!
Sound familiar? Don’t worry; these problems are common to all of us. So, while it is difficult to attain absolute perfection, there are things you can do to improve your chances:
Do your research before travelling. Find out what the weather is going to be like at certain times of the year in your preferred location, and make sure you read reviews online about airlines, hotels, food places, etc. The better informed you are, the more likely you are to enjoy each aspect of your getaway.
Choose a destination you will all enjoy. Assuming you aren’t travelling alone, consider the needs of those travelling with you. While you won’t please everybody all of the time, you can still make compromises so that everyone has a good time.
Read my top airport tips. I know, I know…Nothing irks me like that random dude in the security line who thinks because he flies twice a month for business he can start bossing everyone around. Everyone’s an expert, right? But if you’re planning on boarding a plane this year, give these tips a read!
Stick to your price range. You aren’t going to have a good time if you suddenly run out of money and find yourself with nothing to do, so budget carefully before jetting off somewhere. I think it helps to set a “before-you-go budget” (for flights, lodging, etc.) and a “spending budget” (your allowance while you’re there).
Think about your accommodation. Whether you choose a luxury hotel like the Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel or a youth hostel off the beaten track like Hostal El Momento in Granada, make this a priority. It has to be within your budget, appropriate to your needs, and within reach of the sights you want to see while you’re away. Double-check that you’re booked in before arrival as well, just in case of a mix-up!
Don’t try and do everything while you’re away. With so many things to see and do, you will burn yourself out if you try and tick off everything on your itinerary. So, plan for downtime, only visit the places you are desperate to see and leave the remainder for your next holiday.
Forget perfection. The higher your expectation, the more disappointment you will feel if something goes wrong. If you can go with the flow and enjoy the time you have, no matter the mishaps, the more enjoyable your holiday will be. I promise!
What do you think? Have I missed anything? Have you achieved the perfect vacation? TELL US YOUR SECRETS!
Hi friends! As promised, today I’m going to fill you in on my recent trip to Los Angeles. In celebration of his birthday, my dear friend Adam asked if I would like to spend a few days in L.A. culminating in a Venice Beach birthday party. Of course I jumped at the chance! It was a wonderful excuse to spend time with him (we haven’t lived in the same city since college!) and see some of our other friends who call the West Coast home.
Lately, I’ve been really into reading diary-style blog posts (“I did this…and then we did this…”) so I decided to try that out for this post. I actually typed this up straight from my personal travel journal! Let me know if you like this method. Here we go —
After a morning of work, I Ubered to MIA with plenty of time for a leisurely, non-rushed experience. I boughtWhite Fur by Jardine Libaireat the airport Books & Books, grabbed a turkey bagel from Einstein’s, and ate while listening to Britney’s Gram: The Podcast. I nabbed some snacks for the flight. The flight to L.A. was 6 hours. On the plane, I read a few chapters from my new book and then watched The Glass Castle and Girls Trip. Long flights by yourself are kind of a treat (as long as you don’t have a man-spreader next to you), aren’t they? I landed at 8:30pm pt and met up with Adam, whose plane had also just arrived–no easy feat as LAX is huge. Colby picked us up and we stayed up (too) late talking. I had a couple glasses of red wine because California.
Not a great night of sleep (damn you time changes!) but I woke up ready to tackle the day, after some coffee of course. Adam and I went to M Cafe (a vegan spot in the neighborhood) and split a breakfast burrito and avocado toast before walking around West Hollywood for a bit. We planned out the rest of our day and decided to walk to The Original Farmer’s Market.
It’s a long walk but mostly through cute neighborhoods. We saw lots of bungalows (totally my vibe!) and kids dressed up for Purim. Once at the market, we walked around the stalls. The sticker stall was a clear favorite for me and I couldn’t resist buying a few sheets. (I mean who can resist ALPACA stickers?!) We also lingered in the stalls selling incense and essential oils. Free smells! There were a ton of food options but I settled on Loteria Grill and ordered huevos rancheros with warm corn tortillas. Then we stumbled into a fruit stall that smelled even more amazing than all those hippy-oils and bought some mangoes. There was a Zara nearby so we popped in for a quick browse. I ended up buying a marigold cardigan and justified the purchase because L.A. was much colder than I had planned and I needed an extra layer.
We then took an Uber to Colby’s apartment; our driver played old school hip-hop the whole way and it seemed like the perfect soundtrack to the passing scenery. Since we’d been walking all morning, we relaxed for about an hour at Colby’s before heading out to Runyon Canyon. We hiked a large loop which took us along a ridge with beautiful views of Downtown L.A. on one side and the Hollywood sign on the other.
We stopped at various benches to take in the landscape and take pictures, and chatted the whole way. I took a water from the “honor system” cooler on the way out, paying a dollar via Venmo. (Technology!)
From there, we made our way down to Hollywood Blvd, by way of Muji (my obsession), and saw the star clad side walk. Then we walked the red carpet (!) which was already set up for Sunday’s Oscars – just with a bit of plastic on top. It was fun to get a behind-the-scenes look. We also found another view of the Hollywood sign, saw more stars, and the apartment building from Pretty Woman.
After another chill sesh at Colby’s, we decided to call it a night after a quick pop-in dinner at Village Idiot.
I woke up quite early and read White Fur for a bit. Adam and I decided we both needed to do a little work to wrap up the week so we headed to Coffee for Sasquatch. This was the rainiest day (rain in LA?!) of the trip and the coffee shop was a cozy place to spend the morning.
After a little work we took an Uber to downtown L.A. to spend a few hours at The Last Bookstore. Adam’s birthday was the following day and he has a tradition of treating himself to a stack of books each year. I abstained from purchasing my own stack as it wasn’t my birthday but, honestly it had more to do with my one bag travel situation.
Still raining, we darted a few blocks to Bäco Mercat. Our meal here was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. Highly recommend! We split caramelized cauliflower to start and I had The Fava Fritter. So good! Adam grabbed a post-meal espresso at Tilt
and we took a hilarious Uber pool back to West Hollywood. (Hilarious because Adam and I know each other well enough that we can speak without needing to speak…and our car companions needed to be spoken about. Let’s just say I spent a portion of the ride staring out the window with tears coming down my face because I was trying so hard not to laugh!)
From there, we drove to Dan’s house in a borrowed mini cooper. The first half of the drive was stunning as we navigated through the Hollywood Hills in the rainy weather with jazz playing on the radio. Dan and his wife Samantha gave us a tour of their house and we spent some time visiting. Then we headed to a couple grocery stores to buy supplies for Adam’s party. Back at the house, we met Dan’s 2.5 year old daughter, Olivia.
Finally, we met up with Maggie at Los Feliz Theater (Recommend! Only $9.50 for a ticket and super charming!) and saw Red Sparrow. I snuck in a burrito bowl from Tacos Tu Madrewhich is right next door. Sorry, not sorry.
Birthday party day! Adam and I returned to M Cafe – I had oatmeal with berries and a juice (with lots of turmeric!). We ran up the street to a Trader Joe’s to get last minute supplies – water, snacks, beer – for the party. We drove to Venice Beach and dropped stuff off at Dylan’s apartment, the party locale. His place has an adjoining beachy courtyard strung with fairy lights, complete with picnic table and fire-pit. The three of us walked the boardwalk and got cold brew at a cute place nearby with outside seating (I don’t recall the name).
Party guests started to arrive, including Dan who was making all the yummy food, and Stephanie, who I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. I also got to meet Colby’s boyfriend who had been at work when we hung out on Thursday. We dined on bean-burger sliders with coleslaw and homemade bbq sauce, tempeh kebabs, and chips with hummus and homemade salsa. Vegan BBQ-theme on point!! I also bought Adam a 9″ fruit tart from Whole Foods as his “cake” and, although we skipped the candles, we sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. We made a fire in the fire-pit, talked, and listened to music.
I woke up at 4:30am and was out the door by 5:15. Made it to LAX without a hitch. Thank goodness for the early morning departure time. Paramedics were randomly resuscitating a woman on one of those metal tables in security and my pre-coffee consumption self was highly confused. She seemed to be ok by the time I made it through. I got a bagel (which I saved to eat on the plane) and coffee (which I immediately downed). On the plane I watched The Battle of the Sexes and hardcore creeped my seat mate’s business because I was convinced he was an air marshal – still no conclusive evidence on that one. I made it back to Miami just after 3pm est. Such a wonderful trip. So glad I got to spend time with Adam for his birthday!
Have you ever been to Los Angeles? What was your favorite part? Do you keep a travel journal with details from your trips? I love having a place to jot down the places I visit and the restaurants I want to remember. Hope you enjoyed this peek into mine!
P.S. Some of these photos were captured by Adam. Thanks boo!
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite YouTube channels in my subscription feed. Kara and Nate are a husband and wife travel team exploring 100 countries before 2019, and they share their adventures through daily vlogs.
In pre-YouTube times I used to be obsessed with shows like “Globe Trekker” and Samantha Brown‘s “Passport to [fill in the blank].” They totally filled the hole in my heart carved out by a deep sense of wanderlust. Finding Kara and Nate’s channel left me feeling similarly. While I’ve watched other YouTubers who focus on travel, none have felt so relatable or, honestly, are as fun to watch!
If you’re looking for something travel-related to binge watch this weekend, I would HIGHLY recommend checking out this channel. They have videos from all over the world but I especially love their two week trek in the Himalayas —
If you’ve been following this blog long enough these two adventures should come as no surprise as my OBVIOUS favorites. [Check out this post and this one.] I really dig trains and I REALLY dig Himalayan mountaineering.
And speaking of Himalayan mountaineering, in honor of reaching 100k subscribers, Kara and Nate partnered with iTrek Nepal to give away an adventure like the one they took to Everest Base Camp!!! Which, if you watched the playlist I linked above, you’ll probably want to win. You can enter HERE. (But remember – the trip is for 2 so you should probs take me as your +1, k? I’ll happily share all my random Everest knowledge with ya!!)
Do you imagine the busy, bustling, metropolitan streets of London?
Or do you imagine beautiful lush green hills and glorious countryside?
Where you fall on the above largely depends on your exposure to England as a whole. While I’ve explored a bit of England in my younger years, I’ve only ever been in London as an adult. There’s no doubt that London has its upsides, and is a worthy travel destination in and of itself, but today I thought we’d focus on the other side of the spectrum.
Away from the bustle of London lies some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Rural England is a wonder that has inspired thousands of writers, artists, and poets. And it is still proving inspirational. Lately, I’ve been seeing lots of blog posts and YouTube videos from my favorite UK content creators about their excursions into the countryside. And you know what? Rural England is now pretty high on my Travel Bucket List! Below are a few options I’ve researched that I want to check out. Come along, let’s begin our computer screen vacay…
The Peak District
The Peak District is, as the name suggests, a mountain range. The “Peaks” (as they are locally known) are a collection of hills, mountains, and rugged terrain in the county of Derbyshire, in the East Midlands.
The Peaks are a true natural wonder, and are mostly unspoiled thanks to their protected status. I could walk, hike, cycle, go boating, or just explore the adorably quaint villages and towns that are dotted through the area. Tourism is common here, so I wouldn’t be out of place, and I’d never run out of glorious views to delight over.
The Home Counties
The Home Counties are a collection of counties that lie just outside of London, so I could easily fly into the capital and then take a road trip to the countryside. The counties included in the “Home Counties” description include Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent. (Say those out loud and you’ll sound like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, lol!)
It seems I won’t struggle for things to do in the countryside. As well as delightful local events and displays, the Home Counties are also home to some of the most beloved royal palaces that would be well worth a day-trip in my opinion: Windsor Castle, Hever Castle, and Oxford Castle (pictured above) are all found in the Home Counties. And I’m nothing if not very interested in the British Monarchy.
The Jurassic Coast
Finally, if I fancied seeing rural England by the seaside, then the Jurassic Coast surely won’t disappoint. The “Jurassic” description comes from the many ancient fossils that have been discovered in the area; who knows, I might even stumble across a specimen or two for myself! (When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist for a time so this is right up my street.)
The Jurassic Coast is shared by the counties of Devon and Dorset, so there’s plenty to see and do when not exploring the stunning coastline. As well as the cities of Bournemouth and Weymouth, I could also head into the nearby Cranborne Chase Area of Natural Beauty and delight in exploring the verdant terrain.
Have you ever ventured outside of London to explore rural England and all it has to offer? Which of the three areas above has you itching to plan a trip? I’d love to hear! I’m ready to pack my bags. 🙂
My husband and I just got back from a Thanksgiving road-trip to St. Petersburg. And since moving to the far reaches of the world (read: Miami), long-haul treks in the car seem to be our new normal. Whether it’s getting out of the way of impending hurricanes or heading out-of-state to spend holidays with family, we’ve covered a lot of miles in the car.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for getting your car road-trip ready. Winter holidays are fast approaching and you might want to load up your car with presents and hit the dusty highway. But I would encourage you to make a list and check it twice to ensure you reach your destination stress-free and safely!
Check tires. First, check the level of wear to your tires, and the level of air inside them. For wear, you can make this assessment yourself if you feel comfortable or have them checked out by a professional. For air, consult your car’s manual for the recommended pressure and use a gauge to test if your tires comply. If you don’t have a gauge, most gas stations will have one available.
Check fluids. Brake fluid, oil, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant can all be checked by popping the hood of your car. Almost all cars allow for easy access to check these fluids and should be clearly indicated on their caps. If you are in any doubt how to check these levels, you can always consult your manual or a mechanic.
Test lights. Grab a buddy and check to make sure all your lights are working. Test the headlights, brights, turn signals (front and back), as well as brake lights. The last thing you want on your trip is to get slapped with a citation for a light being out.
Clean and organize. Next, clean out the interior of your car and make sure all windows and mirrors are wiped down and clear. Place all your important documents in an envelope in your glove box. Consider other items you might want to have close at hand, like tissues or sunglasses, and stock your car accordingly. Grab a designated trash bag to keep your floorboards from getting overrun by trash and use bins to corral items that might roll around and cause a distraction.
Prepare for emergencies. Finally, invest in emergency preparedness items to keep in your trunk. You can create your own kit based on the time of year and landscape of your drive or you can purchase one like THIS or THIS. Items to consider: Jumper cables, water, blanket, first aid kit, tools, flashlight, and energy bars.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle that meets all your road-trip needs, hop on over to CARS.COM. This fantastic resource is full of info on all sorts of models.
How do you get your car road-trip ready? What do you think makes a great road-trip vehicle? Share in the comments below!
If you’re around these parts long enough, you’ll learn I have an obsession with turning the day-to-day into endless opportunities for adventure. I love travel and the outdoors and exploring new-to-me places. Which means I’m always on the look out for products which will facilitate my whims!
The newest addition to my Every Day Carry: Adventure Edition is the HEROCLIP. This little doodad is the perfect thing to toss in your bag if you’re headed out for a hike, day at the beach, or any sort of travel. Here’s why…
Heroclip is a fully functional clip, with a rotating, folding hook. Meaning- you can hang your bag, water bottle, hat, beach towel, etc. off of just about ANYTHING. Hang your backpack off of the nearest tree branch on a picnic. Hang your purse off the table at your favorite dive bar. Hang your water bottle off your exercise bike. Hang your day bag off your wheely suitcase as you whisk it through the airport. YOU GET THE IDEA!
A few specs of note:
Heroclip rotates 360 degrees, folds at two joints for maximum versatility and has a rubber tip so whatever you are hanging will stay put. When not in use, the hook folds securely on to the clip. (So it’s easy to store in your backpack if you’re 1-bag travelin’!)
Since I’m down here in South Florida, I love using my Heroclip to keep my tote bag off the ground at the pool. (LIZARDS!) It’s also great if you have items at the beach that you don’t want to get sandy.
But my #1 reason for always having a Heroclip on hand?! SKETCH BATHROOMS WITH NO PLACE TO HANG A BAG!
If you’re traveling with all your worldly possessions in a single backpack, the LAST thing you want is to set that backpack in a puddle of pee. AMIRITE?!
Would you like to take Heroclip on YOUR next adventure? Lucky you! I’ve got one up for grabs that Heroclip was sweet enough to send me. To win, make sure you’re following me on one of my social media platforms – Facebook Twitter Instagram
–and leave a comment below telling me the last place you traveled to! I’ll choose a winner (randomly) next Tuesday, 10/10/17! (United States only.) Good luck!!
(Disclosure: I received products in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own and I only endorse brands I truly believe in!)
Last week, for a quick getaway between Chet’s summer session classes and the fall semester (#professorlife), we loaded up the car and headed to Delray Beach, FL. We stayed in the lovely Delray Beach Marriott, which I’d highly recommend. Due to my work schedule, we knew we could only escape for a few days. But the hour drive from our home meant we had our toes in the sand by 10 am! Plus, the short stay, coupled with choosing a Tues-Thurs time-frame, meant we could splurge on accommodations.
We drove up on Tuesday morning and immediately parked beachside. After an hour or so, some rain clouds started rolling in. But that gave us the perfect excuse to grab brunch at Caffe Luna Rosa. The watermelon mojito is a must! Afterwards, we explored the Pineapple Grove Arts District, read books while enjoying some afternoon coffee, and then headed to the hotel for check-in followed by quick dips in the pool and hot tub.
We got cleaned up for dinner. Burgers and fries are a beach vacay favorite of mine. And went for a long walk along the beach…
Do you spy our shadows?
Gotta get those ‘grams!
Wednesday was our full day so we headed to the beach bright and early. I brought along Brooklyn Girls for a fast and fun beachy read. We read, swam, and soaked in as much Vitamin SEA as possible.
Chet recently got this old school Polaroid working. (We found it at a flea market.) So we also snapped a roll of film. Presto! So satisfying.
Here’s one I took of our hotel. Doesn’t it look like it could have been taken in the 70’s. I love the vintage-y vibes. I’d love to find a cool way to display all the pics we took because I’m pretty obsessed with them. Any ideas??
One way we made this quick trip feel longer? After a full morning and early afternoon at the beach, we packed it in, ate a quick lunch of sandwiches and fruit in our hotel room, and then headed out for round two at our hotel’s pool. I was pretty enamored with the idea of a towel made to the exact specs of the lounge chairs (it’s the little things, people!) and of course the poolside wait-staff. #luxury
We finished off the evening with a trip to a cheesy, quintessential beachside restaurant for conch fritters and frozen beverages.
The next day, we clicked repeat on the beach, had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at 11 am (because why not?) and then headed home in the afternoon. What an amazing getaway!
So long for now, Delray! We can’t wait to come back.
Have you ever been to Delray Beach? Do you like taking quick trips to recharge or do you prefer to really settle in to a place for maximum relaxation? Got any hot tips on where we should take our next mini vacay!? Let me know! xoxo