Category Archives: Travel

Travel Journal: Los Angeles

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 —

Wednesday – 

After a morning of work, I Ubered to MIA with plenty of time for a leisurely, non-rushed experience. I bought White Fur by Jardine Libaire at 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.

Thursday –

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!)

The red carpet is under a layer of plastic wrap!

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.

The apartment building from the movie 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.

Friday –

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.

Books flying off the shelf, trying to come home with me!

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 Madre which is right next door. Sorry, not sorry.

Saturday – 

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.

Sunday – 

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!

The end.

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!

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Great YouTube Channel for Travel Inspo (totally binge-worthy!)

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

and their train journey on the Tran-Siberian Railroad

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!!)

Here’s a video about the giveaway —

GO ENTER! 

Do you have any favorite YouTube channels that I should binge-watch this weekend? How do you cure your wanderlust? Share below! 

P.S. Wanna exercise this weekend instead of binge-watching travel vids on the couch? Here’s a Great YouTube Channel for Lifelong Ballerinas.

Travel Inspiration: Rural England

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

When you think of England, what do you imagine?

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. 🙂 

P.S. Fancy some more wanderlust? Check out another computer screen vacation.

Getting Your Car Road-Trip Ready

Sponsored post.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

HEROCLIP – Review & Giveaway!

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’!)

  • Holds up to 50 lbs
  • Dimensions: 3″ wide, 3 3/4″ long (closed)
  • Weight: 2 oz
  • Material: Solid aircraft grade machine-cut aluminum with anodized finish, plastic, steel

Bonus: Outside Magazine featured Heroclip in their Top 5 Gear Under $25.

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!)

 

Mini Vacay: Delray Beach!!!

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…

delray beach ocean

Do you spy our shadows?

delray beach photographer

Gotta get those ‘grams!

brooklyn girls by gemma burgess

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.

mariott hotel delray polaroid photograph

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??

mariott hotel towel service

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

Savannah Eats: Where + What

where and what to eat in Savannah, GA

As promised, today I thought I’d tell ya about some of the food we ate on our recent trip to Savannah, GA. We were in town for the wedding of our dear friends so we were completely spoiled by meals at the restaurants selected by the bride & groom. Savannah has some pretty delicious offerings (and many restaurants boast beautiful views of the river or are located in gorgeously historic buildings) so if you’re planning a trip you’re in for a treat! But even if you don’t have a trip to Savannah on the horizon, I couldn’t help but include some budget-friendly meals that will work for general travel as well.

Savannah Specific — 

Lizzy’s Tequila Bar & Grill – We kicked off the weekend by enjoying dinner with the soon-to-be newlyweds. This restaurant is right along the river and had the perfect festive atmosphere to get celebrations started. Afterwards, we nabbed a drink at O’Connell’s Irish Pub which we were pretty convinced was haunted but the bartender would not play along.

HITCH – Before a night at the bars for the bachelor/bachelorette party, we fueled up with dishes that took a modern twist on Southern favorites. I had the chicken pancakes — thin and crispy peppered pancakes with fried chicken, chili aoli, and strawberry salsa. 2 thumbs up!

B. Matthew’s – After rehearsing the ceremony we scampered over to B. Matthew’s for the rehearsal dinner. This place had such a cool, historic vibe — exposed brick & beams, fireplaces, and a bar that looked straight out of the turn of the century. We dined in an upstairs room (with a private bar) that felt equal parts intimate and grand. Perfect for a gathering of the couple’s closest family and friends!

Vic’s on the River – And finally, the wedding reception itself was at a beautiful venue overlooking the river. The light from the setting sun pouring in the huge windows cast such a warm and romantic glow on the newlyweds. We dined on pork tacos, crawfish beignets, and a shrimp and grits bar (!). And topped it all off with two types of cupcakes baked by my mother especially for the occasion. My mom is a pro at baking wedding cupcakes. (She’s made cupcakes for my brother’s wedding and mine!) But this was the first time they got a “feed each other a bite and smash it in the face” MOMENT.

General Travel —

I wouldn’t be me without offering you some insight into how I keep travel affordable.

AirBNB Cuisine – One of my favorite benefits of staying in an AirBNB is that they come equipped with a kitchen. Why not take advantage of this and bring along food for at least some meals? I’m totally the girl who brings oatmeal and nut butter with me wherever I go so I was set on breakfast every morning. We also had sandwich fixin’s, baby carrots & hummus, chips, and cookies for quick lunches in between wedding-related errands and late night munchies.

Whole Foods – If you’re looking for a place to stock up on necessities, I’m a big fan of seeking out a Whole Foods. It’s a great place to double down and nab that soap you forgot to pack, a 12 pack of La Croix (because hydration), and ALSO treat yourself to a fairly inexpensive lunch. When you know you’re gonna indulge at dinnertime, Whole Foods comes through in the clutch with tons of healthy options for brekky, brunch, or lunch. Balance, people!

Have you ever been to Savannah, GA? What were your favorite dining experiences while there? Do you have any tips for cost-effective eating when on the road? Share below!! 

What’s in my Tom Bihn Synapse 19 + Side Effect

tom bihn synapse 19 side effect

Hi guys! Last week was a lesson in rolling with it when plans change unexpectedly. Chet and I were planning on spending a few days in his hometown in Louisiana (I could almost taste the poboys and frozen daiquiris) before he presented at a conference at the local university. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare (and even bought new books at the airport bookstore for our journey!) But after delays at the gate, delays on the tarmac, and delays on the phone as we tried to figure out if there was any possible way we could get to Louisiana…we ended up in a Lyft headed back to our apartment. *DOH!*

Even though we didn’t make it to our destination, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into my travel bags anyways. I felt like my one-bag packing mojo was pretty spot-on this time around and I’d kinda like to have a post to reference the next time I’m traveling for 2-3 days by plane. And maybe it will be useful to you as well!

[CLICK HERE TO HAVE MY ONE BAG TRAVEL CHEAT SHEET SENT TO YOUR INBOX!!]

tom bihn bags

As always, I’m a forever devotee of my Tom Bihn Synapse 19. The newest member of my packing accouterments entourage is the Tom Bihn Side Effect, 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). It’s a great, little companion for my Synapse. 🙂

So without further ado, here’s what I packed for a 2-day (+travel days) trip to Louisiana by plane…

In my Tom Bihn Side Effect 

Large Compartment

  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Small notebook
  • Headphones
  • Plane Tickets

Front Compartment

  • Keys
  • Pen
  • Chapstick

In my Tom Bihn Synapse 19

* click HERE for a break-down of the Synapse 19 pockets *

Main Compartment

Deep Center Pocket 

  • Liquids bag –
    • body wash
    • perfume
    • face wash
    • toothpaste
    • and BB cream
  • Deodorant

Shallow Center Pocket

  • Lara Bar x2
  • Kindle charger
  • Advil

Bottom Compartment

  • Sandals

Left Pocket

  • A ziploc bag full of trail-mix
  • Phone charger
  • Pen, Sharpie pen, Sharpie

Right Pocket

  • Tom Bihn stuff sack
    • feminine products
    • tweezers
    • razor
    • and hair ties + bobby pins
  • tooth brush
  • and a ziploc bag with 4 face wipes

Now that you know my travel essentials for a weekend away by plane, maybe it’s time for you to start planning a trip of your own!! If you’ve got something in the works, or are just feeling especially wanderlust-y, go ahead and CLICK HERE! I’ll send you a little cheat sheet of the info above (a bit more generalized, of course) so you can keep your bag light without forgetting a thing. Print it off whenever you need to take to the skies, and cross off the items as they get tucked in your pack. Happy travels!

[CLICK HERE TO HAVE MY ONE BAG TRAVEL CHEAT SHEET SENT TO YOUR INBOX!!]

Photo Diary: Miami Seaquarium

As you may remember, item numero uno on my More Delight List was to visit Miami Seaquarium. I wrote about our experience (and the complicated feelings that came along with the visit) yesterday, if you’d like to take a look. However, today I thought I’d share a few pictures.

First up, the reef aquarium…

…then a stroll through the tropical fish aquariums.

The manatees bear a striking resemblance to a cat I know. (And I kept thinking of the British tourists we met on Biscayne Bay who called them floating baked potatoes. Ha!)

The crocodiles and sea turtles were happily sunning themselves…

…with views of downtown Miami right across the bay.

Then we saw Lolita the Killer Whale. [Read more HERE.] (Can you spot the Pacific White Side Dolphins in mid-air 2 pictures down?)

Flamingos just chilling on one leg! Aren’t they prettiest shade of salmony-pink?

“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than liiiiightning…”  [Side note: The house where the trainers and employees hang out is a replica of the house from Flipper the TV show. I would have snapped a pic but there were a couple of gals in wet-suits eating their lunch on the front porch and I thought it would be a little rude.]

Have you ever been to Miami Seaquarium? Do you have a favorite day trip activity in your city that brings you joy? I’d love to hear about it! 

P.S. More fun photos — Biscayne National Park and Historic Savannah, GA!

3 Ways to Pack Your Tom Bihn Synapse 19

in-the-metro

As you may have guessed from previous posts (like this one and this one), I’m low-key obsessed with my Tom Bihn backpack. I could regale you for hours with info about all it’s features. It is just so. dang. packable. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding…

So, instead of tell you about all the versatile pockets and roomy compartments, I’m gonna walk you through a few of my favorite ways to pack the Tom Bihn Synapse 19.

how-to-pack-tom-bihn-synapse-19

The Pockets:

1. Main Compartment

2. Shallow Center Pocket

3. Deep Center Pocket 

4. Left Pocket

5. Right Pocket

6. Bottom Compartment

For 1 Bag Air Travel:

1. You’ll be amazed at how many clothes will fit in the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 with the help of a packing cube (or two). The double-sided packing cubes are genius if you want to keep your clothes organized (think: tops on one side / bottoms on the other OR day clothes on one side / loungewear on the other) or separate dirty and clean.

Your laptop or tablet will fit comfortably in this compartment as well.

2. This is the perfect space for all the small bits you may need readily available while up in the air. Tuck in your earbuds, your favorite lip balm, and a snack.

3. Slide your toiletry bag down in this front pocket and you’ll have no qualms about pulling it out when you go through TSA. This one from Tom Bihn has clear sides and was designed as a 3-1-1 toiletries bag for air travel. There’s plenty of room inside for all your essentials.

4. This side pocket has a space for your writing implements so you might want to tuck in a little notebook as well. It’s also a great place to stow a small flashlight, your sunglasses, and a collapsible bag.

5. Think of this as your electronics pocket! There’s plenty of room for a camera and there’s an additional pocket along the lining that’s perfectly sized for a phone. Clip a clear organizer pouch to the O-ring inside and fill it with your various chargers. No need to frantically search for cables that have made their way to the bottom of your bag!

6. Finally, the bottom compartment will hold a pair of sandals or flat shoes, a pashmina to keep you cozy when the plane gets cold, and a collapsible poncho if you’re headed to a rainy climate.

For Working On-the-Go:

1. As this is the largest compartment, this is where your bulkiest items will go. If you’re working on-the-go this probably means your laptop as well as any notebooks, folders, and books you may need.

2. Slip in a pair of earbuds that will cancel out any annoying noises you may encounter. You could also keep a stockpile of business cards tucked in a fancy holder.

3. Amazingly enough, this pocket was designed by the folks at Tom Bihn as the perfect place to hold a water bottle. This is great for keeping weight distribution even and totally cuts down on spills. You could go with a classic or class it up.

4. Store your pens, memory cards, and a wireless mouse in this convenient side pocket.

5. The other side is perfect for all your chargers. Again – one of the clear organizer pouches would be perfect for corralling them all. And don’t forget to throw in a snack bar or two! It’s hard to work when  you’re hungry!

6. Finally, the bottom compartment is a convenient location for your wallet. And it’s wide enough that it will accommodate a billfold style design. Don’t need that much space for your wallet? This is a great place to store an umbrella, as well!

For Having Outdoor Adventures:

1. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or just urban exploring; you’ll want to have a few essentials in your Tom Bihn Synapse 19! The main compartment is a great place to store an extra layer of clothing, in case it gets cold, and any equipment you may need to bring along. (Think: camera or video gear, tools, DRONES!)

2. Safety first! Don’t forget to bring a small first aid kit. Buy one or make your own out of an Altoid can. Making your own allows you to really customize the contents for your particular adventure.

3. Again, the Deep Center Pocket is the perfect place for your water bottle. Toss in a bandana, too. They have SO MANY uses. (Here are 25.)

4. This is a great place to keep sunscreen and bug spray close at hand. You might also want to toss in a multi-tool or your eating utensils. Spork? Chopsticks? 3-piece cutlery? Your choice.

5. If you’re venturing away from civilization, it may behoove you to reserve this pocket for “I can pee anywhere!” materials. Think: tissues, wet-wipes, anti-bac, etc. Of course, these could come in handy for other purposes, too!

6. Finally, pack a lunch! This bottom compartment will ensure your sandwich won’t get squished amidst all your other equipment and it’s spacious enough to accommodate an adventurer’s appetite! The menu, of course, is up to you.

Where would you take your Tom Bihn backpack? Do you have a favorite travel accessory you recommend to anyone who will listen? Tell me about it below! 

P.S. A Tom Bihn-accompanied trip — Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette, LA