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We’re getting close to the end of my travel posts, sadly!  This post was one of the most interesting ones to write.  There are so many resources in bookstores and across the (internet) universe about preparing for a trip, but so few that offer suggestions to make the most of your experience while you’re actually there.  Over the years, I’ve developed a loose set of guiding principles that I like to follow.  Check them out and let me know what you think!

Hit the streets.  I find a walk around my destination to be the most orienting way of introducing myself to it.  You get an idea for how far away everything *really* is on the map, what streets and landmarks are important for navigation, etc.  B likes to remind me that I have an unusually strong sense of direction though (I love that I was born to be a sailor), so I can usually navigate myself around a city by the end of the first day.  I would happily walk around all day long.  Just give me some coffee and a pair of sneakers and IT’S ON.  I have always found it to be the best way to fight jetlag.  Why do we let jetlag be such a “thing”?  Just get up and start moving.  Your body will figure out what it’s supposed to do.

I’ll usually ask my dad for recommendations first, if he’s been to the place I’m going (which he probably has).  He’s been to 28 countries and 43 states, so pretty much the only places I’ve been that he hasn’t are Austin and Ottawa.  People love talking about themselves and the places they’ve traveled to, so asking your friends for recommendations is great for all parties involved.  It also eliminates needing to spend much time on your phone looking for things while you’re already there.

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Wake up early.  Some of my favorite travel experiences have happened before 8 in the morning.  Sunrise over the Jefferson Memorial, Tribeca on a quiet Sunday morning, croissants on deserted rues….. If you can, get up early and see the city in its true form – before everyone else does.

Go where the locals go.  You’ll often find better deals, and more authentic culture, by doing so.

Do not throw your health by the wayside.  This is especially true for those traveling for business, where you’ll be sitting in a chair for much of the day.  Stick to your routine at home if you exercise regularly, but don’t be afraid to change up the method.  One of my favorite things in the world is traveling with my dad and waking up early to go on a (rather aggressive) walk across Manhattan to get Ess-A-Bagels.  I am quite sure he insists on staying on the west side to get the exercise in, but we earn those calories one way or another.  This is another reason that I will continue going to sleep early and waking up early on vacation.  Jetlag is bad enough without giving your body another different thing to adjust to.

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Travel by yourself at least once.  I know it can be intimidating to some, but I swear everyone is a better person having to go through customs in a foreign language alone.  My sister and I have both traveled internationally solo, and the compassion and patience you learn to show and appreciate is a gift that keeps on giving.

Learn at least some conversational basics in the native language.  Honestly, it goes such a long way.  I also desperately look forward to the day where Americans are not viewed as THE WORST tourists in the rest of the world, so please, help a sister out here.

Travel during the shoulder (or off) season when possible.  When B and I decided to go to San Francisco, I did what I always do… Pull up the monthly weather for the city.  Do you want to know what the temperature difference between the warmest month (September) and May (when we found the best flight price) is?  Five degrees.  5.  Do you want to know what the plane ticket price difference was?  At least $130 each.  And that’s not even considering the corresponding inflation of hotel prices.  Is the 5 degrees, and swarths of other tourists worth it?  You tell me.  But I will happily take my $200 and buy some dim sum with it.

Sometimes you may benefit from a “don’t ask” approach.  I particularly love trying food that I don’t know the ingredients of.  I have some predisposed notions of not loving certain things, and sometimes a change in preparation is all that’s needed to change your mind.

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(The pictures in this post were all taken in LA!)

San Francisco

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While we were in the Bay Area, there were tons of spots we wanted to check out.  We went to Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Sausalito, San Jose to visit B’s family, and even took a drive down to Monterey and Big Sur.  This didn’t leave too much time to explore San Francisco, but we saw as much as we could in the three days we did have!

I was expecting to be cold all the time and shrouded by fog at least for the greater part of each day.  These things everyone always said about San Francisco, but were not true at all the three days we were there.  We walked out onto sunny streets each morning, and I was a little overdressed in sweaters two out of three days.  This unbelievable stretch of weather we had was perfect for all of the outdoor ventures I had planned.

Where To Stay.

Hotel Zoe.  This was the hotel I had originally planned on booking.  If you want to spend most of your time near the Marina District or Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s probably a great bet!

We opted for an Airbnb since they are so much more reasonably priced then most hotels, and generally with much better locations throughout the city.  Feel free to email me ( if you want to know the place we stayed – our host was great and the location worked out perfectly for us!

Where To Eat.  

Maven.  The first day we were in San Francisco, we went to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies and were walking around the Lower Haight area, with some time to kill before our dinner reservation.  We stopped in Maven and grabbed some seats at the bar, almost instantly ordering the rhubarb crumble (topped with pistachio bourbon ice cream!)  It was so amazing, I would recommend checking this place out just based on that one dish.  They also have a sizable selection of wine, beer, and cocktails.  Every detail of the interior design was better than the next- from the live edge bar, to the open floor plan, and the greenery filled wall!

Hong Kong Lounge II.  There was no question we would be having dim sum at least once while we were out west.  Even though there were plenty of recommendations, we decided on this one.  Everything we had was amazing, but I particularly loved the dumplings!

Akiko’s.  Another non-negotiable SF food I knew we had to have was sushi.  Akiko’s is a small and very cool place so, as with everywhere in San Francisco, I would highly recommend making a reservation beforehand!  The quality of the fish here is outstanding, though I wasn’t super impressed with the assembly of their maki rolls, so I would definitely recommend going with a nigiri or sashimi tasting!


Coqueta.  B and I absolutely adore tapas, so we made a reservation at the waterfront Coqueta as our last dinner of vacation and it absolutely did not disappoint!  They started off strong: with a location on the water, huge windows with views of the bay, and a huge ceiling with exposed beams and pipes.  Our reservation was for the chef’s counter, a bar perfect for couples who want to sit close or for foodies who want to look into the kitchen and watch the artful preparation of their meal!  We started off with a pitcher of sangria (11/10 would recommend) and the Iberian cheese plate, which you can really never go wrong with.  All the tapas we ordered and the churros we got for dessert were amazing, but I would love to go back again to try their paella and manchego cheesecake!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.  The Insta Famous bakery has a different flavor of Cruffin (croissant muffin hybrid) each day of the week, which changes quarterly.  We went on a Monday morning, so the line to pick up one of the famed pastries wasn’t too bad.  You definitely have to check it out (and snap a pic of their neon sign!)


Boudin’s Bakery.  Home of the original San Francisco Sourdough, you definitely have to get clam chowder in one of their legendary bread bowls while you’re in town.  I didn’t particular want to go to Fisherman’s Wharf, having a personal track record for impatience in that type of tourist trap, but we went after our Alcatraz cruise solely thanks to B’s recommendation of Boudin’s and it was 100% worth it.  If the clam chowder can impress two native New Englanders, it can impress anyone.

Ferry Building.  One of my very favorite activities in a new city is to snack my way around some local treats (shout out to my Dad who taught me the joy in eating one’s way around cities).  Places like New York’s Chelsea Market and San Francisco’s Ferry Building make this super easy to do!  The Ferry Building is absolutely gorgeous both inside and outside, plus I love that you can pop outside the back to enjoy your treats by the bay!  (Check out all the merchants, food and otherwise, here).

What To Do.

Alcatraz.  The only thing B said he absolutely wanted to do on vacation was the Alcatraz tour, and it certainly did not disappoint.  Make sure to buy your tickets it in advance, since some of the times will sell out.  We chose to take the earliest tour possible, since the island would be slightly less crowded than it would by the time more visitors arrived.  The ferry ride over to the island was very enjoyable, and the audio tour of the penitentiary is absolutely incredible.

Golden Gate Park.  Let me just start this off by saying Golden Gate Park is huge.  It’s beautiful, but it’s also huge.  I think you could spend a full day here and still not see everything that’s housed inside.  The Japanese Tea Garden is absolutely stunning in its serenity, and the Conservatory of Flowers should not be missed either!  There is even an aquarium and a fine arts museum on the grounds, so even if a stroll amongst nature wasn’t on your itinerary, there’s probably something here for you.

Presidio.  This former military post was one of the coolest places we saw.  In modern day, it’s basically a huge outdoor playground and a hub of SF history.  Once you’re here, there are two free shuttles that will take you around the park, plus a free shuttle that will take you back across SF to the downtown area!  I mean, how great is that?!  Their website has a comprehensive guide to planning your perfect trip to the Presidio, but definitely make sure you get in some history at the Officer’s Club and some stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge down at Chrissy Fields!

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Alamo Square.  We weren’t planning on going to see the famous Full House street, but we found ourselves with some extra time so we went anyway.  The park is quite nice, the houses are stunning, but there’s a gorgeous tile mural on the Hayes Street entrance to Alamo Square that you really shouldn’t miss.  I was so impressed!

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Lands End.  The only place on our list that we didn’t have time to get to was Lands End.  I’ve heard that the sunsets here are absolutely stunning, and who doesn’t want a short hike followed by some beach time in California?!

Where are your favorite places in San Francisco??  Let me know in the comments!

Traveling With Your Significant Other

Hello my friends, welcome back!  Today I wanted to take a minute to share some thoughts I have about traveling with your significant other!  Though Bryan and I spend plenty of time together and love taking longer trips around the Northeast, our trip to San Francisco was the longest amount of time we had ever spent together uninterrupted by work or life obligations.  Amazingly, it went off without a hitch!  So today I’m sharing some of the things that I found helpful in coexisting 24/7 in a new location!

Identify the type of vacation you want to take right off the bat.  Whether it’s a relazing trip to the beach, an active adventure outdoors, or a cultural immersion into a different city, it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page upfront in terms of your travel expectations.

Compromise.  I’m an aisle seat person, B prefers the window.  Neither of us want to pay triple the airfare to fly first class, where we both could get our seat of choice.  I’ll take the aisle on one flight, and B gets the window on the next.  This sort of back and forth compromise has to happen the whole trip – much like it does in real life.

Plan together.  I have a tendency to take the reins in planning things as small as what we’re having for dinner on a Tuesday night, so making sure that I slow down and involve B in the process as much as possible is crucial.  For the most part we wanted to do the same things, but there are always attractions that don’t overlap, or something I might not have known about.

Discuss your budget upfront.  No one wants to be stuck having the money conversation in the middle of vacation.  Get it all out in the open early.

Designate phone time.  B and I both take a lot of pictures, so while we tend to have our phones “out” a lot, I try not to start cruising Instagram in the middle of the day.  A pre-dinner stop at the hotel to change and relax makes for a good designated time to decompress with some mindless scrolling.

Schedule down days.  In the middle of our trip, we didn’t plan anything except for visiting Bryan’s family, which turned out to be a perfect reprieve from the aggressive touring we were doing.  Having nothing scheduled and no planned wake up time gave us a chance to reset and relax before returning to more active itineraries.

Make sure to check in with the other.  As someone who will happily hang out outside and walk around all day long, sometimes I forget that this isn’t for everyone.  If it’s 90 degrees outside, B will probably want to take a break for some AC.  Similarly, my sister tends to need to recharge at the hotel mid to late afternoon after a full morning.  It always helps to check in with your travel companion and see what their needs are.

Know the signs.  B can tell when I’m hovering around hangry a good half hour before it really sets in.  Because he’s so good at catching it early, we can grab some food before getting really contentious.  Likewise, I try to be aware of how much heat and sun we’re in, so I know when to get B some shade or air conditioning before he gets uncomfortable.

Be still.  This has been a cornerstone of my approach to traveling in general over the past few years, but it’s just as important to do when you’re with someone.  When we go to a particularly wow-worthy location, we always make sure to put away our phones after we’ve taken our photos and just stop and enjoy the place together.  From a sunset in Burlington to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands, they wind up being my favorite moments together.


After our morning in Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands, we headed over to Sausalito just in time for the fog to burn off and give way to a beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon.  The quaint seaside town offers a perfect escape from the bustling city.  We parked on Bridgeway, the main street by the water.  It served as the perfect central location to explore the waterfront, where we would have happily spent the entire day watching boats sail by.  (If you can’t find street parking, check out the lot on Ensign Street!)  The Sausalito Boardwalk or Bridgeway Promenade are two perfect spots for a relaxing stroll!

There are tons of cute spots to pop in and out of along Bridgeway, but the ones you shouldn’t miss are Bubble Street Gallery, Soxalito, and Hubba Hubba!

Since we didn’t act quickly enough to find a houseboat to stay in like Bryan had wanted, we made sure we at least had time to go see them.  People do live here, so remember to be as courteous as possible.  We had no problems walking around the docks and checking them all – making sure we took our pictures from afar!

I had a pretty hefty list of potential restaurants to try, which was frustrating considering we only had time for two meals!  There are lots of big name places with big menu prices, but I tend to pass those over more often than not.  My honorable mentions are Copita, Sushi Ran, and Le Garage!

Sausalito Taco Shop is a cool local joint to check out for California style mexican food, but Bar Bocce was the real winner in my book.  With a super cool idea (an outdoor bocce court) and a beautiful location right on the water, it was a great spot to enjoy the sunny afternoon.  To boot, their pizzas were really delicious as well!

Muir Woods & Marin Headlands


One of the most magical places we saw in California (which is saying something, considering how beautiful Northern California is) was Muir Woods.  It’s only a half hour drive from San Francisco, but feels like a completely different world.


We got up first thing in the morning and took the gorgeous drive through the state park.  Before we had even reached the parking lot I was in awe of how incredible this place was.  There’s a new system in place now that requires parking or shuttle reservations, which you should definitely reserve in advance, since there can be spotty service inside the forest.  It ended up costing us $28 for two ($10 each for admission and $8 for parking) and it was totally worth it!

There’s a seemingly endless amount of trails to follow, but unless you plan on taking the 8 mile trek to Muir Beach, you probably don’t need to wear activewear.  We walk at a pretty brisk pace and took several trails (and not trails – shh) over the four hours that we were there, and I was totally fine in jeans and a pair of Chuck Taylors.


Muir Woods was perfect for the morning after we landed.  It was picturesque and serene in the brisk morning, and there’s nothing quite like a stretch of the legs to fight that jet lag.  We were inside for a little over four hours, and it completely flew by.  We stopped to grab a yogurt parfait at the cafe before we left, and had a little bit of time before the morning fog burned off, so we decided to go take the drive to Marin Headlands.


Past being a perfect picture location, the Marin Headlands have a ton of cool history (shown in the multiple military sites) and are home to lots of different wildlife!  We were pretty lucky in our photos, but on a crowded day it’s worth driving farther and stopping at other lookout points where there are fewer tourists!  We didn’t have much free time left, since we had planned to go to Sausalito for the afternoon and evening, but there’s plenty of exploring to do in the area!

Check back in on Monday to read all about Sausalito!

xo, C

Napa Valley

When B and I decided to spend some time up in Napa Valley, I was overwhelmed to say the least.  With 400 wineries, how were we ever going to find the *Perfect Ones* to go to?


I did an embarrassing amount of research to pick which two wineries we were going to visit.  We didn’t particularly want to visit any of the more popular ones, though we did consider Domaine Carneros and V. Sattui.

We decided on Stewart Cellars and Ashes & Diamonds.

I was pretty much sold on Stewart Cellars the moment I saw a picture of their dreamy courtyard.  I don’t even remember where I found it, but the more I saw the further I was convinced.  They have a gorgeous tasting hall, in addition to the courtyard, but I think we got the best seats in the house at a window side bar, since James kindly opened up the windows for us, allowing the perfect breeze to come in without being blinded by the California sun.  They also have a location of Southside Cafe on property, which helped our decision to go, knowing we would be able to grab a salad or torta after our wine tasting!

I found our second winery, Ashes & Diamonds, through one of my favorite Instagram accounts and bloggers, Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar!  The newest winery in Napa just opened in November of 2017, and offers a love letter to wine country that is so refreshing, especially after seeing some of the more ostentatious chateaus in the area.  The bright white and yellow midcentury modern buildings serve as an ode to Napa’s entree to the global wine business in the 1960s.   The inside space is striking yet welcoming- with comfortable seating and wine cork side tables, no detail has been spared.  The eye for minutia is even seen down to the bottle labels, designed by Brian Roettinger, aka the art director behind Magna Carta Holy Grail.  There are two distinct label designs, signaling whether the bottle is from a single vineyard or a blend!  Light and happiness pours throughout the property, creating the absolute perfect atmosphere.

Both of our sommeliers were amazing.  They did a really great job of gauging our wine knowledge and teaching us about the wines we were drinking and the process behind them in laymen’s terms, recognizing that we could still have a fun and informative experience without being wine connoisseurs.  Make sure you bring cash with you, since some wineries don’t accept electronic tips, even when though they are well deserved by the staff.

We spent the morning before our first wine tasting strolling the charming streets of Yountville, including a stop at Bouchon Bakery, one of my favorite stops in NYC as well.  They have a beautiful courtyard outside to eat at, if you manage to snag one of the coveted tables.  No where else in Napa that we went to was as busy as this bakery was!  In addition to Bouchon, the legendary Thomas Keller also has ad hoc and French Laundry right in town.  If I succeed in coming back to Napa soon for a more relaxed type of vacation (instead of the one day excursion from SF), I would probably stay at Hotel Yountville or Napa Valley Lodge.

The town of Napa itself has a great downtown area that we were able to spend a perfect evening walking around exploring.  There are plenty of restaurants we wanted to try, including Alba, Zuzu, Tarla, and Eiko’s, but we decided to snack our way through Oxbow Public Market instead.

We could have easily spent a full week in Napa Valley, and we hope to get the chance to soon!  It strikes the perfect balance of being relaxed and laid back, with no shortage of activities to do.  We would have loved the chance to go hiking or biking around the beautiful area, taken a hot air balloon ride, or taken a bit extra time to unwind at one of the world class spas.  Until next time, Napa!

Planning A Trip: The Journey

In today’s installment of “Planning A Trip” we’re talking about the most love or hate part of vacations… the act of getting there.

I’ve always loved the journey.  Sometimes on road trips with B or my sister, I find myself with a twinge of remorse upon realizing that we’ve reached the destination and those pure hours of carefully curated playlists and deep moonlit chats are over.  The feeling, of course, is fleeting; but I have always felt like a bit of an odd duck for it.


Ultimately, I think it’s because I love what’s associated with these seemingly tedious travel journeys.  Traveling really does not stress me out.  I know people can get super frazzled in the security line, or frustrated at the airline for doing *everything* to ruin your day.  But I love what it means to be in an airport or on a road trip, and I love the feeling of knowing that something magical could happen any minute.  I feel so at home in airports, they have always been one of my happy places, and I think part of it is anticipating what problems may arrive.  That, and I have a native New Englander’s penchant for punctuality, so I always arrive with way more time that I need.

Identifying what makes you most uncomfortable while traveling can help tremendously in terms of preparation.  For me, it’s staying hydrated.  I have exceptionally dry skin, and so I actually start drinking water in troves the day before I am traveling.  I also keep lip balm, hand cream, and a face moisturizer in my bag for the airplane… But I think the copious amounts of water I drink are the real saviors here.  I’m also not one for coffee or liquor in the airport, as both are majorly dehydrating.  But for others it might be the coffee or airport bar that make traveling less stressful, so whatever works for you!

As soon as I get on the plane, I get myself on the time zone of my destination.  I aggressively fight against jet lag, since I’m already prone to falling asleep at 10pm EST, I always feel like I have double the work to do when I go to the west coast.  Immediately getting myself on PST on the flight helps make the whole week easier.  Another thing I did for jet lag in San Francisco is have Bryan make sure I stayed up until 11pm the first full day we were there.  I could have easily fallen asleep hours earlier, but by pushing myself to stay up a bit later (especially since we had only gotten four hours of sleep the night before) I slept in until 6 and had no problem staying on California time for the rest of the trip.

There are a few pricy things that have increased my travel experience tenfold.

Priority Pass.  In a nutshell, Priority Pass offers several different memberships that provide access to airport lounges.  Several big travel credit cards will include a complimentary membership, which is a great perk to take advantage of.  While some of the lounges don’t compare to the likes of Centurion Lounges, they do make a consistently great place to stop before a flight.  In Boston, there’s one that is usually not too busy at Terminal C (JetBlue) that I like to go to, if for no other reason than grabbing a granola bar and Perrier.  But in some cases, like San Francisco, the lounge may be the only real access to quality food and drinks that you have in your terminal (thank you Air France Lounge for the turkey sandwich and chicken noodle soup!)

Another perk that some credit cards offer (or that you can purchase for $85) is TSA PreCheck.  Precheck has been my absolute saving grace over the last few years.  I’m a huge germaphobe, and just the thought of taking my shoes off in an airport always nauseated me beyond belief.  Not having to do that anymore is absolute heaven.  Plus, who really likes waiting in line at the airport?!

If you don’t want to shell out the cash for PreCheck, make sure you have everything organized and accessible on your way through security.  Before I had PreCheck (I can vividly remember doing this in high school), I used to pack my belt and jewelry before going to the airport.  Didn’t even put them on until I was through security, so I didn’t have to take them off in line.  I also would always keep my laptop and liquid bag right near my zipper, so I could just toss them on the belt without fumbling through the rest of my belongings and knocking things out onto the floor, or holding up everyone else in line.

And lastly, this is not a tip so much as a rule, the person stuck in the middle seats gets BOTH armrests.  This is really non negotiable.  While you have your window seat daydreams or stretch your legs out into the aisle, the only saving grace a middle seat dweller gets is both armrests.  Where’s your humanity?!

How do you like to make traveling easier?

xo, C

Monday with Mac – Chicago Weekend

Guys I’m back with a breakdown of my girls’ weekend in Chicago! Chi-town is another cool city that I think everyone should take a trip to at some point! It was the perfect city for a three day weekend. My friends and I took an early flight on Friday morning out of Boston, and were in Chicago in 2h40m. It’s a super quick trip!


There is a lot to do in Chicago that you could definitely spend a whole week there. But for 4 girls looking to have a fun spring weekend, we did a lot of walking around, enjoying outdoor activities, cute brunch spots and rooftop bars! Here’s what we were able to fit into 3 days.

Activities we did:

  • SkyDeck Chicago in the Willis Tower (this can get pretty crowded, but it’s a must walking out on the glass deck 103 floors above the city!
  • Grant Park
  • Millenium Park (beautiful outdoor theater – close to the Art Institute of Chicago which is a great art museum!)
  • The Bean
  • The Riverwalk
  • Navy Pier (a fun carnival atmosphere with a ferris wheel, swings, and lots of fun shops and restaurants!)


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Places we Drank:

  • Cerise Rooftop Bar (on top of the Virgin Hotel- great views and vibes all around)
  • Raise Rooftop (on top of the Marriott Renaissance – great view of the river!)
  • City Winery (on the chicago riverwalk- great place to grab a glass of Rose on a sunny evening and watch the boats pass by!)
  • Joy District (very fun nightclub vibe with a great dance floor and adorable rooftop!)


Places we Ate:



I would recommend anyone who is curious, to take a trip to Chicago! It is well worth the visit! Thanks for reading 🙂

Planning A Trip: Research

Welcome to Day 2 of Planning A Trip!

The very first thing I do when it comes down to planning is booking the flights, which may seem sort of obvious to some, since they tend to vary more in price than anything else.  They’re also much harder to cancel than a hotel reservation, so booking the flights means we’re really going on a trip!

I always do quite a bit of Googling when I’m looking to go somewhere.  Some frequent searches are “Best Time To Visit Puerto Rico” or “Monthly Weather Charleston”.  I always like to cross reference the search results of these with the Google Flights fare schedule, and it usually yields some pretty good information.  The average temperatures and number of rainy days sometimes scarcely vary between the busiest travel times and the shoulder season, which allows you to save some money and travel during a slower season that’s only a few degrees cooler.

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I always at least try to fly loyally.  Even when I know I’m going to fly JetBlue, I still use Google Flights while doing my research.  I love how visually everything is laid out, and you can really see how the price varies between dates.  I just make sure to use their awesome filters so I’m only seeing nonstop flights from JetBlue.

I’m also at a place in my life where I’m traveling domestically pretty heavily (trying to take advantage of that TSA Precheck!) and not as much internationally, which is an entirely different animal.

To be quite honest, the early steps of planning (re: hotels and rental cars) are hands down my least favorite aspects of traveling.  I really don’t care about hotels much for 95% of my travels.  Since I don’t do much beach or resort travel, there’s no reason to spend thousands of dollars per night on somewhere that essentially just needs to have a bed and a shower.

Since I’m looking to explore the location I’m in and not the hotel, I tend to also travel pretty loyally to Marriott, so I always check their website directly first to check to see what kind of rates they’re offering (for more about why I travel loyally, check out my How I Afford To Travel post!)

Depending on the location I’m traveling to, and whether or not I have a car, I’ll generally consider staying outside the city center to get $100 off the room price and free parking.  In places like Austin this has worked greatly to my advantage, especially since we were only actually spending one day in Downtown Austin.  In Nashville, however, Mac and I were mostly exploring the Gulch and Broadway, so we opted to stay right downtown within walking distance of almost everything, taking a few Ubers when necessary, since it was so much cheaper than renting a car and staying farther away from everything we wanted to do.

The last step of hotel research that I do is all about bed bugs.  It’s important to preface this by saying my germaphobia in general is what my mom calls “neurotic” and what I call “thorough”.  I wipe down every surface in the entire hotel room with an antibacterial wipe as soon as I get there, and I absolutely never walk around on a hotel floor with bare feet.  This sort of paranoia extends into bed bugs as well.  The internet is super helpful in finding out if the place you’re going has any sort of record with bed bugs.  In places like Manhattan and San Francisco, which see so many travelers from all corners of the globe, it can be really hard to find an affordable hotel that has zero reports, so something within a three or four year grace period I’ll usually let slide.  This is just another reason I prefer to stay at a Marriott over an Airbnb when possible, because big hotels tend to have facility management and protocols in place if a traveler brings along some unwanted friends; plus, their reputation is on the line.  It’s always advised to do your own bed bug investigation once you check in.

For rental cars, I don’t shop loyally as much.  I’ve found Hertz to generally have some of the best prices, especially if you have AAA.  While I was under 25 they waived the young driver fee which was huge (plus, you can add on a second driver for free if they are also a AAA member).  B tends to also get some pretty great rates with his “perks at work” program, so those can be worth looking into as well.

I also think it’s pretty important and responsible to start making a travel budget.  Once I have an idea on the most affordable options, what kind of attractions we’re doing, and such, I’ll start to break down the budget.  For San Francisco, it looked like this.

Different people will, of course, have a different idea of their budget based on varying priorities (some might think budgeting almost $40 for coffee is ludicrous, but exploring coffee culture is important to us, especially in somewhere as significant in the coffee world as San Francisco!)  I also way overestimated for transportation, quite frankly because I wasn’t interested in spending time researching those costs and we walked a lot.  But it’s always better to overestimate and allow yourself some wiggle room!

Next up, the more fun part of planning, is deciding what to do!  When going someplace totally new, it can be overwhelming trying to understand giant lists of neighborhoods, attractions and restaurants.  Google Drive is invaluable in these early stages.  It gives you an opportunity to put all of the information you’ve found down in one place and go back to it no matter where you are.  Plus, when you’re traveling with someone else you can both work on the planning doc together!  In these early stages, I’ll write down everything I find, highlighting the neighborhood next to it.  Then later on down the road, I don’t have to go back and find this information when I try to find a place to eat after the attraction.  Then, once I’ve found pretty much everything there is to find in the destination, I can start eliminating things until the list gets down to a more manageable size.  After that, cross-referencing the attractions and restaurants can help me prioritize everything and get an idea for what is manageable, and what is actually 2 hours outside of the city!

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I use blogs and Instagram accounts quite frequently in my research process, especially in looking at finding restaurants.  Where locals go to spend their hard earned cash on a Wednesday night is exactly where I want to be eating on vacation.  Eater is also one of my favorite resources, to find out what’s popping right now, or where the quintessential cuisine of your destination can be found.

I can be somewhat of an obsessive planner (or a control freak, depending on who you ask).  I spend so much time researching a destination before I arrive to make sure I eliminate things I don’t care to see, aka things that are frequently the top results on Google.  I’ve tried to develop a balancing act of having a plan, while not overbooking myself to the point of every sight just becoming an item on a checklist.

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My sister and I travel best when we have at least some sort of a schedule.  I love finding the local food scene, but Michaela has celiac’s disease; so this could lead to some stressful and hangry moments were it not for proper planning beforehand.  When we went to Nashville, we did a broad overview of what each day would look like, so I could spend some time finding gluten free places in the area that worked with Mac’s dietary restrictions, while also letting me explore Nashville’s culinary identity.  In the end, it looked something like this.


Looking at this schedule, it almost looks like we were jam packed for the entire trip.  But realistically, we still had so much time to fit in other activities around this schedule (we even went to two more museums than we planned!)  We’ve been practicing getting in each other’s faces for 23 years, so needless to say we can be pretty good at it when the hanger starts getting in.  We knew after many trips to NYC together that having an idea of what we were doing each day – and having a place with good celiac reviews nearby – was going to make our trip the best and smoothest it could possibly be.  When visiting familiar destinations like NYC, we’ll usually just pick somewhat of a starting point for the day and work our way to the end point on a very loose schedule.

A look at how I planned to go to San Francisco with B is a lot different, but the core Google Drive is still there!

Once we decided to go to San Francisco, we quickly realized that this city is just as expensive as everyone says.  All of my normal planning avenues were failing me.  We didn’t want to stay outside of the city when we wouldn’t have a car, and even the lower tiered Marriott’s were more costly than I would have liked.  I was ready to book a room at the chic Hotel Zoe, when B found an amazing price for an Airbnb in Nob Hill.  Since it was more centrally located and in more of a local neighborhood, we decided it would be a better option for us than staying near Fisherman’s Wharf.

I desperately wanted to go to Yosemite, but we quickly realized it wasn’t really feasible this trip.  Instead, we opted for some more time spent outside of the city in Napa, Muir Woods, and Sausalito; and decided to save Half Dome for its own special trip.  A fair share of logistic hurdles arose while planning (making sure we were around to hang out with Bryan’s sister and brother in law on the weekend, not leaving our suitcases in the car EVER to avoid break-ins, etc), but with some time spent arranging attractions like puzzle pieces, we found a way to fit in everywhere we wanted to see without feeling rushed.

With B, food isn’t as much of an issue as it can be with my sister (through no fault of her own).  Knowing we could both eat anywhere, we decided to plan our dinners ahead of time, so we could find the best meals at the best prices and enjoy some date nights during the trip; figuring we would be able to grab a burrito or something quick for lunch along the way.

Sketching out a loose itinerary was particularly helpful for this trip, since we had to book some things in advance.  Once I compiled a list into (you guessed it) Google Docs of all the activities available to us, we were able to funnel everything into priority attractions, secondary attractions, and the things we really didn’t need to see.  We tried to plan only 2-3 things (including meals) each day, giving us additional time to explore as we went, but making sure we didn’t miss anything we really wanted to see.  Then, depending on how each day unfolded, we could pick items from the secondary list to hit up, should we find the time.


A great tip I’ve found for trying to plan out your travel days is to always look at tours.  Even if you don’t plan on taking one, tours can give you a good idea of what you can fit into one day (for example, Muir Woods and Sausalito is a popular tour bus combination, so I knew we could do them both in one day).

Make sure you stop by next Wednesday for the third installment of Planning A Trip!

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(The photos in this post were all taken in Paris!)

xo, C

My Go To Airport Outfit

I’m going to be pretty blunt with you all.  I have been raging war against airport fashion since I was ten and saw my fellow children getting on the airplane in pajamas (didn’t they know what my mom said about pajamas not being acceptable in public?!)

That being said, airports are the only place I don’t overdress for.  Au contraire, I am probably judging you pretty hard if you wear stilettos to the airport.

My travel outfit is pretty much what I can be most comfortable in without sacrificing personal appearance.  For example, sneakers I can get on board with, leggings I cannot.

Long Blazer.  The long blazer is crucial to looking polished, but keeping yourself warm during your flight.  This is an old blazer-coat hybrid from Old Navy, but I love this one and this one.

Uniqlo Leggings Pants.  These were a recent addition to my travel wardrobe and I would recommend them to everyone going on a long haul flight.  I normally just wear jeans to the airport, but these are so comfortable for those cross-country flights, while looking like jeans!  Plus, they’re only $30.  You’re welcome.

Nikes.  I used to exclusively travel in white lifestyle sneakers (think Chuck Taylors or Stan Smiths), but I’ve been loving the comfort and walkability of Nikes.  I have TSA Precheck, so I don’t have to take my shoes off at the airport, but the sock form makes it super easy to slide in and out of if you do!

Cape Scarf or Travel Wrap.  I know I’m not the only one out there who gets cold on planes… This travel wrap from Target is absolutely perfect – you can wear it as a scarf or as a cape, and even use it as a blanket!

Layers.  Most obviously, I always wear layers I can take on or off, particularly based on the arrival destination.  If I’m going somewhere down south, a t-shirt will be perfect for the warm sunshine waiting!

What’s your travel uniform?  Let me know in the comments!

xo, C