Six Great Hairstyles For On-The-Go Girls

Leave the hairspray and curling irons at home. Here are some super cute, yet incredibly easy hairstyles to try while traveling.

1. This easy bun keeps your hair out of your face and looks super trendy,

long hair styles tutorial,jpg2. A simple yet interesting pony tail.

braid

3. All you need is a head band (and maybe some bobby pins) for this updo.

tuck4. Add a little poof to your ponytail.

ponytail5. A great option for that half up, half down look.

loop

6. Like a bun but sassier.

topknot

 

 

 

My Top 5 Most Helpful Posts, So Far.

I started this blog back in 2010 to inspire people to get out and see the world. Below are my most helpful posts from over the years. Enjoy!

1. How to Get Your Pass Passport in 24 Hours or Less

For Real!! This is you one-stop-shop for obtaining your passport in a hurry.

passport

 

2. Don’t Waste Time In Line

Here is the inside scoop for planning ahead and saving time during your travels.

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3. A New Way To Stay

Ditch the hotel for these more affordable and cooler options.

hostel

 

4. Learning How To Get Around When You Don’t Speak The Language

Don’t get intimidated in a new place. You can learn enough to get by and make your travel easier.

book

 

5. Packing Light For A Long Trip

No need for a lot of luggage. Learn how to travel light.

packing

My 5 Most Romantic Trips (and why)

Kauai, Hawaii

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The beautiful Waimea Canyon didn’t disappoint.

While visiting Oahu, I thought it’d be fun to take a side trip to Kauai even though I didn’t think it was possible for Hawaii to be any more beautiful than what I had already seen.  Man, was I wrong. Kauai is like being inside one of those motivational posters with a cheesy message urging you to “work hard and one day you’ll get there”. Well, if you’re in Kauai you’ve made it, my friend. Everything is so beautiful that you’ll spend each day pinching yourself.

Every night was dinner near the ocean before strolling along my hotels private beach. During the day I’d explore the Na Pali Coast, admiring its dramatic cliffs before arriving at Waimea Canyon to drink in one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. I watched colorful fish be fed at Lydgate Beach, ate the best shrimp tacos at a roadside stand and visited the quaint town of Hanapepe.

When people ask me for honeymoon suggestions Kauai is always at the top of my list.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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This destination was romantic because it was so exciting and out-of-the-box. Everyone in this city seemed to be gorgeous and in love (a great combination, right?). It was a common site to see people making out on benches or cupping each other’s asses as they strolled the streets. It was the place to visit a Sex Hotel.

Aside from all the hotness, this city is a very romantic place to peruse. For maximum romance, I suggest renting a boat and rowing across the lake at the Jardín Botánico. You’ll feel like you’re in a Jane Austen novel for sure.

Paris, France

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Obvious, I know. This city is the epitome of romance and with good reason. First of all, it’s just so damn beautiful. Everything is extravagant and over-the-top gorgeous. Also, there’s the Eiffel Tower which makes you want to kiss someone every time you look up and it takes your breathe away. It’s tough not to be giddy and mushy in this city. The food, the wine, the architecture; it all goes to your head.

Florence, Italy

A sidewalk eatery in the PIazza Santa Croce with the Basilica of Santa Croce in the background.
A sidewalk eatery in the PIazza Santa Croce with the Basilica of Santa Croce in the background.

I went to Florence with one of my best girlfriends. Each morning We’d navigate the narrow roads to our favorite sidewalk cafe for breakfast. Afterwards, we’d walk among the statues at Piazza della Signoria then decide which historic church we’d like to discover that day.

I didn’t have this tug in Rome, Venice, Verona or any other Italian city I’ve been to but there’s something about Florence that makes me want to go there and be in love.

Savannah, GA

The view of Talmadge Memorial Bridge from River Street.
The view of Talmadge Memorial Bridge from River Street.

This seriously southern town is so charming it’s hard not to fall in love with it.

The haunted history adds a spooky edge  while the food is simply some of the best in the south. If you’re there during the weekend you’re sure to stumble upon a wedding or two in any one of the 22 squares that are dotted throughout the city. Savannah is one of these cities where you can plan absolutely nothing yet never be bored. I highly recommend a visit and soon!

Tongue Tied – Overcoming The Language Barrier in Brazil

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When my husband James and I  got an opportunity to move to Brazil for several months with his company we decided to make a major change in our lives, selling everything we owned to be free to travel for years to come. All of a sudden my days consisted of packing, selling and donating our belongings until all we had left was a mattress on our living room floor and a small storage unit full of keepsakes. We were ready to go.

The city we were moving to was called Recife and is the fifth largest in Brazil. When researching our soon-to-be home I would get lost for hours reading about the culture and looking at pictures. I’d imagine my days full of exploring the markets and lazing on the beach.

When I told people that I was moving to Brazil for a couple of months they all asked the same question, “Do you speak the language?” My response was always the same, “I don’t speak Brazilian Portuguese but I’ve been to many countries where I didn’t know the language and have gotten along fine.”

After my first day in Recife, I quickly realized just how cocky and unprepared I was. Sure, I’ve been to plenty of countries where English isn’t the primary language but those places are also huge tourist destinations and very accommodating towards Americans.

What I didn’t take into consideration was that Recife is not a tourist hotspot. It receives visitors from other areas of South America but unlike Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, most Americans have never heard of Recife, Brazil.

We landed on a Saturday afternoon and hit the ground running, ready to explore this new land. However, by Sunday night I laid in bed thinking, What have I gotten myself into?, and fighting the rising anxiety in my chest. My vision of how life would be here was fading fast.

Besides my husband, I hadn’t heard one word of English the entire weekend and I quickly learned that it was a rarity altogether. People stared with a mixture of awe and confusion when they’d overhear our conversations. The looks from children were especially amusing as they’d tug on their parents clothing and point to us as with wide eyes looking for confirmation that what they were hearing was not normal.

I had never experienced such a disconnect before. My usual confidence was replaced with fear and self-consciousness. Each night I’d study phrases but panic and freeze when it was time to use them. The vision I had of myself as this suave, well-traveled adventurer now seemed like an illusion. Instead, I felt like a coward for avoiding situations where I would have to speak.

I knew I’d regret not exploring Recife while I had the chance so I challenged myself each day to get out of my comfort zone and take risks.

First, I began to really study  basic words and phrases that allowed me to exchange pleasantries, order food and ask questions. When I was out I made a point to not begin conversations with “Do you speak English?” Instead, I’d try to see how far I could communicate in Portuguese. Many times I’d surprise myself but most importantly people appreciated my attempts.

Sometimes people wouldn’t understand me or even snicker at my pronunciation but I powered on, setting my insecurities aside. I slowly became more confident in my abilities and actually looked forward to leaving my apartment each day. The thought of hailing a taxi or asking my waiter for a menu no longer made me panic.

When it was time to leave Brazil I was proud of how far I had come in such a short time. I learned that travel is about stepping away from what you know to make room for something new. I look forward to taking many more unfamiliar roads in the future and am now confident in my ability to do so. (See How To Get Around When You Don’t Speak The Language)

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Note: This piece was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Eidé Magazine.

Don’t Waste Time In Line

Louvre

My biggest tip for travelers is to plan ahead. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did when you are passing hundreds of tourists waiting in line at the hottest attraction because you bought your ticket ahead of time.

First off, think about where you want to visit and see if a Museum Pass or CityPass would be worth the cost. For example, a Paris Museum Pass gets you into over 60 popular attractions including the Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and Palace of Versailles. You can buy a 2, 4, or 6 day pass and most of the time the card pays for itself in just a couple of visits. Most importantly, these passes typically let you skip straight to the front of the line. Most major cities sell such passes and with the click of a button much of your trip is already taken care of!

When planning my Parisian vacation, I wrote a list all the museums that I knew I wanted to visit and looked up general admission prices. It turned out that visiting 3 museums equaled the amount of a two-day pass. It was an easy decision to buy the pass because I had the option to visit many other attractions if time permitted.

Before you make the purchase be sure that your desired attractions are included and read the fine print for certain restrictions. I was glad to know ahead of time that my pass did not include the Eiffel Tower.

This brings me to my next point: If you don’t want to bother with a pass or a particular attraction isn’t included not all hope is lost, most places still allow you to buy tickets in advance. I bought my tickets to the Eiffel Tower several weeks before my visit. Doing so allowed me to walk straight onto the elevator while hundreds of people were waiting in line to buy their ticket.

While in Amsterdam I didn’t bother with a museum pass because there were only two places I knew that I wanted to visit for sure; the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. For both attractions, I bought my tickets online in advance and walked straight to the front of the line. I saved several hours that were better spent exploring the city.

Helpful Hint: Be sure to print your tickets before you leave AND download a copy onto your phone or tablet for backup.

Not all places offer advance ticket sales. In these cases you just have to bite the bullet and wait in line. I really wanted to visit the Catacombs in Paris but tickets are not available ahead of time. That meant waiting in line for over an hour to buy my ticket. It wasn’t fun but was tolerable as it was the only time during my travels that I had to do so.

If you’re not a planner and would rather fly by the seat of your pants, that’s fine, just remember that a couple of minutes to buy your ticket in advance can save you countless hours and help you better maximize your vacation.

Each time I’d see a line of people standing in the cold I’d want to scream, “Buy your tickets before you come!”. It doesn’t take much effort and wouldn’t you rather spend that time sipping latte’s and taking silly pictures in front of big, red telephone booths?

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My European Packing List – Winter 2013

Here is a sneak peak at what I’m bringing on my trip to Europe. I’ll be gone for two weeks and traveling between three countries (Paris, Amsterdam & London). My main objective was to pack pieces that are light and versatile. A good rule of thumb is If it can’t be worn at least two different ways then you don’t need it.

My backpack is for electronics and toiletries. The luggage is for clothes and shoes and the duffel bag has my camera bag. While I could have fit everything in my carry on I would have had no room for things I may pick up during my travels so I decided to bring a duffel bag as well.

Two Weeks, Three Countries
Two Weeks, Three Countries

As far as clothing and shoes here is my list:

– 1 down-filled jacket

– 1 rain coat

– 3 pairs of shoes

– 3 neutral scarves

– 5 pairs of socks and 5 pairs of underwear (these items are easy to wash in the sink or your hotel or apartment)

– 3 sweaters

– One white blouse

– 2 pairs of skinny jeans

– 1 pair of black leggings

– 2 long sleeve cotton shirts

– 1 crazy cat shirt (because I can!)

– 1 cotton dress

– 1 skirt

– 2 shoulder bags

That’s it!

Honestly, I could get by with less but I figure I can be a little indulgent.

Olinda, Brazil – The Sights and Sounds of the Beautiful

The city of Olinda.
The city of Olinda.

It has been said that when explorer Duarte Coelho Pereira first laid eyes on a small area of land situated on a hill in the Northeast of Brazil his first words were, “Oh, Linda,” meaning “Oh, Beautiful” in Portuguese. That was just the beginning of how the town of Olinda became the first European settlement of Pernambuco in 1535 and its allure is as strong today as it was back then.

Just a short drive north from the state’s capital of Recife, Olinda is a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here there are no skyscrapers or throngs of people waiting for the bus. Instead, you’ll find a quaint town overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Colorful homes line one cobblestoned street after another and whichever direction you turn it’s likely that you’ll run into a church dating back to the 1500’s.

For many American tourists, the draw of bigger cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo seem to overshadow this small village. However, a visit to Olinda is an opportunity to experience one of the oldest and best preserved colonial cities in Brazil.

For those who decide to explore this colorful city basic Portuguese is a must as most locals do not speak English. Despite the language barrier the people here are welcoming and friendly. A new appreciation for hand gestures and other non-verbal cues will surely be acquired as you navigate your way through the curvy streets.

Olinda is known for its many churches and exploring any of the one’s dotted throughout the city is a great way to begin the day. The Church of São Salvador do Mundo is as good a place as any to begin as it sits atop the highest hill in the city. It began as a small chapel erected by the city’s founder and has been rebuilt and renovated many times since making it the beautiful, ornate site that it is today.

Not far from this church is Oficina do Sabor (Rua Amparo, 335) , a must for lunch. Perhaps most famous for their pumpkins filled with various meat and curries, this is one of the best-known restaurants in the area. My favorite dish is the Camarão Tamarineira, shrimp served in a tamarind sauce accompanied by a banana puree and coconut rice. Enjoy your meal with a caipifruta, a traditional Brazilian drink made with Cachaça (sugar cane rum) and a variety of fruits. Not only is it delicious but with its colorful blend of fruits, it may also be one of the most beautiful drinks I’ve ever had the fortune of drinking.

You won’t find shopping malls in Olinda but who needs price scanners and food courts when the Brazilian breeze is calling your name? Here, you’ll stumble upon many small markets and shops throughout the day where vendors sell everything from homemade crafts and clothing to traditional street food.

If you really want to live like the locals order Tapioca ,savory or sweet depending on your mood, and wash it down with fresh coconut water.

For a more adult beverage head to Licoteria (Rua Santa Tereza, 1190) where the proprietor makes his own liquors using his grandmother’s recipes. The flavors are interesting and include coffee, rose and lime. I recommend trying the Leite (milk) liquor. While it sounds odd, the flavor is sweet and smooth, reminiscent of a butterscotch candy.

Like any true South American city, the magic happens at night. That’s when the locals come out and start to fill the air with the sounds of Brazil. No need to spend money on a show as music is heard from every direction with impromptu band practices and street performers. Just sit back and appreciate the unique rhythms as you look back on your day in this small gem on the sea.

Note: This piece was originally published in the Winter 2012 issue of Eidé Magazine.