Tag Archives: holiday

Is there such a thing as the perfect vacation?

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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 tipsI 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! 

P.S. A mini vacay to Delray Beach! 

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Travel Inspiration: Rural England

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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.

10 Holiday Gift DIY’s You Should Start Making Today!

Here are a few ideas to get you started if you plan on making holiday gifts this year. DIY gift giving is a great way to save some dough during the costliest time of year. Not to mention, there’s something so sweet and personal about receiving a gift made especially for you, don’t you think? The 10 DIY’s listed below range from “extremely simple” to “easy but time consuming.” All the supplies needed are readily available. (At second hand stores, Dollar Tree, or your local hardware/craft store.)

Please excuse how many involve jars…

gold-polka-dot-mugs

Gold Polka Dot Mugs

Make these for: Someone who loves to entertain. Think: Your best friend who hosts a monthly book-club or your sister who always offers to throw wedding showers.

The How-To: Find a few mis-matched white mugs at Dollar Tree or a second-hand shop. Decorate with different sizes of polka dots. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and let cool in the oven.

Pair with: A bag of Fair Trade coffee beans.

mason-jar-candles

Mason Jar Candles

Make these for: Anyone who spends a lot of time relaxing in the great outdoors. Think: An aunt who spends most every evening on her screened in porch or your sister-in-law who considers the ideal vacation something akin to a chapter from Little House on the Prairie.

The How-To: Instructions HERE.

Pair with: A historical fiction novel.

polka-dot-jeans

Polka Dot Jeans

Make these for: A jeans and t-shirt kinda gal. Think: Your art-obsessed daughter or a friend who always discovers enviable flea-market finds.

The How-To: Find some suitable denim and cut the legs to achieve a casual, cut-off’s vibe. Dip the tip of a pencil eraser into some white fabric paint and stamp the jeans to create a polka dot print.

Pair with: A clever tote bag.

colorful-braided-rug

Colorful Braided Rug

Make this for: A cuddly kid. Think: Your toddler son who is always on the floor surrounded by toy trucks or your sweet niece who would rather be curled up with a chapter book than anywhere else in the world.

The How-To: Instructions HERE.

Pair with: A lamp that makes ceilings look like the night sky.

love-you-jars

“Love You” Jars

Make these for: Someone who loves dainty decor. Think: Your little sis who is in need of decorations for her brand new apartment or your gal pal who matches mantelpiece decor with each approaching holiday.

The How-To: Attach a doilies and red paper hearts to glass jars. (You can glue, decoupage, or just tie the string tight enough to hold the paper pieces in place.) Wrap red and white bakers twine around the middle and tie so the knot is hidden in the back.

Pair with: Fairy lights.

homemade-taco-seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Make this for: Anyone who believes in Taco Tuesday. Think: Your brother who fancies himself somewhat of a celebrity chef or your co-worker who always posts her meals on Instagram but you don’t hate it.

The How-To: Follow the recipe for your favorite homemade taco spice blend. Package in whatever container you think most suitable.

Pair with: Taco holders that keep your hard-shelled tacos up-right.

eco-friendly-dryer-sheets

Eco-Friendly Dryer Sheets

Make this for: The people in your life who never forget their reusable bags when they go to the grocery. Think: Your Greenpeace donating Mom or your yoga instructor.

The How-To: Instructions HERE.

Pair with: A clothes hamper.

chai-tea-latte-mix

Chai Tea Latte Mix

Make this for: Someone who likes to start their day with a hot cuppa. Think: Your Starbucks-obsessed boss or the mom you share carpool duty with.

The How-To: Find a recipe for chai tea latte and mix it up. Add the mix to a jar and embellish with some twine and a pretty tag. (Great for bulk gift-giving!)

Pair with: A tumbler for drinking hot beverages on-the-go.

t-shirt-produce-bag

T-Shirt Produce Bag

Make this for: Anyone who frequents the Farmers Market. Think: Your green-thumbed boyfriend or your BFF who recently got really into juicing.

The How-To: Instructions HERE.

Pair with: Gift certificate to your local produce market or co-op.

flavored-syrups

Flavored Syrups

Make these for: Someone who fancies themselves a barista. Think: Your husband who wouldn’t be caught dead drinking plain, black coffee or your budget-savvy bestie who has sworn off her coffee shop habit as an upcoming New Year’s resolution.

The How-To: Recipes for vanilla, raspberry, coconut, and caramel syrups HERE. Add each syrup to a bottle with a pour spout. Package in a basket or tray so they’re kitchen counter ready!

Pair with: A coffee cookbook for added inspiration.

Which DIY from above is YOUR favorite? Do you plan on making any presents for the holidays this year? 

Computer Screen Vacay: Adelaide Edition

adelaide computer screen vacay

I’ve had about enough of this never-ending winter. It’s been a doozy, don’t you think? So let’s pop “down under” for a holiday in a more suitable locale. Because I’ve been staring at gray snow clumps for what feels like a year and a half and Adelaide always looks gorgeous in pitctures. Let’s go!

I have long felt called to Australia as a vacation destination. I would love to travel on the Indian Pacific Rail from Perth to Sydney or stay in the television set turned B&B McLeod farm house. (Oh, you haven’t watched all 7 seasons of McLeod’s Daughters on Netflix? The hit Aussie drama that chronicles the lives of girl farmers on an all girl-run farm? Get on it!) Not everyone shares my passion for trains and agro-soap-operas though, so let’s explore a computer screen vacay in Adelaide, South Australia.

Where should we stay?

I think for this visit we want a quiet place to relax and really feel like locals. So let’s skip the normal hotel route and stay away from the city centre. Adelaide has lovely historic cottages and they love a good outdoor space (porches, verandas, courtyards). We definitely want to be able to have brekky and a cuppa outside in a sunbeam and perhaps toast the twinkling stars at days end.

cottage1

This cottage looks traditional on the outside while sleek and modern on the inside. I love the white walls throughout–makes everything looks so light and airy. You can almost feel a cool breeze flowing through. And what about that little outdoor area right off the bathroom? Perfection.

cottage2

cottage2terrace

Here’s another cottage option–a little smaller, a little quainter and a little more historic. Basically I DIE for this cottage. I would be in danger of spending my whole vacay on that terraced courtyard with all the lovely plants and sunshine! And would that be so bad? Bonus: yellow walls, fireplace, big tub and stained glass in the bathroom (??!!).

courtyardapt

courtyardaptoutdoor

This apartment option offers breathtaking high ceilings that bathe the whole dang place in natural light. A sliding door off the main room leads to a sweet little brick porch and the furnishings are simple. This looks like the kind of place where after a week’s vacay you think, “I could just move here, as is, no need to return and get all my other crap, this is fine….DON’T MAKE ME GO HOME!” 

What should we do?

The majority of our time can be spent exploring outdoors; the city centre, the green space, random neighborhoods. Super cost-effective fun! Here are a few more specific ideas.

parklands

The city of Adelaide is encircled by a huge green space known as Adelaide Park Lands. The Park Lands are comprised of 29 individual parks which house everything from Japanese gardens to cricket pitches to prime sun-worshiping real estate. This area would be a perfect place to explore with little to no cost involved. The official website is super informational and basically gives a trillion ideas for ways to spend the day in the park. I would love to rent a bike and go on the Bike Art Trail. And of course picnic, see native flora and maybe catch some cricket or play a little croquet.

aborigineart

I’m all for learning about new cultures, even on vacay, so I’d love to check out the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. We can browse the art gallery, watch performances by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and maybe even take a guided tour. Maybe we’ll feel compelled to purchase a didgeridoo to take home as carry-on. Who’s to say?

Coopers

And what’s a real holiday without some sort of a booze tour? I would love to take a Coopers Brewery tour through the brewhouse, bottling hall and history museum, accompanied by some samples, of course. Most of their brews are carbon neutral and the brewery itself has a huge focus on sustainability and best environmental practices. How cool is that?

What should we eat?

I’m very in favor of grocery shopping and making ones own meals and picnicking on vacations. Obviously for budget purposes this is super helpful, plus that’s how my mama raised me. But, we gotta check out Adelaide’s culinary landscape for a few choice dining experiences!

thestore

The Store. Burgers, pastas, risottos and a bangin’ wine list in a bistro-style setting? I’m in. Their brunch menu is nothing to sneeze at either. Straight drooling over the food porn on their website, y’all. This is my kinda food.

vilis

Vilis specializes in a more traditional Australian comfort food fare. Think: meat pies, pancakes and sausage rolls. Lots of gravy! They even have something on the menu called a Pie Floater, a meat pie floating in a sea of pea soup and topped with mashed potatoes and gravy–which sounds equal parts disgusting and alluring. I’d give it a go. It’s probably delicious.

lucias

Lucia’s offers Italian food and even bottles their world-famous pasta sauce. I love me some pizza so this one is a no brainer. They also boast super delish coffee and a focus on seasonal ingredients! Their dishes sound so legit (and I’ve read Heat so I’m basically an Italian food expert now).

~

Well, I think I’m sold on a trip to Adelaide! Who’s in? Perhaps I should start tucking away some money in a mason jar labelled “Adelaide Funds”? What wanderlust-y fantasies helped YOU get through this winter? I’d love to hear. : )

(Rental photos via Airbnb, Park Lands photo via this ABC News article,  Vilis food photo via Urbanspoon)