Long time, no see!

Home, sweet home! Kinda. We hit the ground running as soon as we landed. Robert is off to begin a new job and I’ve been ‘hard at work’ studying for my comprehensive exam coming up in just over a week.


Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

We got up bright and early at 2:50AM to make sure to have ourselves and the house ready for the shuttle to pick us up at 4:00AM, which changed to 3:45AM, and then again to 3:30AM by the shuttle company… A bit hectic and stressful, but we managed.

Sunrise over JFK

We arrived at the airport around 5:30AM. Who knew the airport was so happening that early in the morning? Typically Robert and I fly in the evenings, so this was a first for us. We waited about 30-40 minutes to get through security, which is the longest we’ve ever had to wait, which makes us totally spoiled. It wasn’t so much the wait time that irked us, as much as it was how disorganized the lines through airport security were, which is pretty typical for JFK, actually. But long lines and poor attitudes from the shuttle dispatcher were not enough to darken our travel day!

The flight went quickly and smoothly, and picking up the rental car could not have been easier. I seriously recommend you look into National rental car if possible. Completely hassle free and no one tried to upsell us on unnecessary rental car insurance. From there it was an easy 30 minute drive from the airport to town.

Let the roadtrip begin!

Let the roadtrip begin!

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we decided we would wait it out with some lunch in town and beach time.

I'm sure it was 5 o'clock somewhere!

I’m sure it was 5 o’clock somewhere!.. Am I tan yet?

It was a perfect day for the beach.. hot & muggy, just the way I like it, and just about the only way I can get Rob in the water. I can’t brag enough about the beaches on Amelia Island. The water is warm, yet refreshing and the sand is flat enough that when you’re laying down you don’t need to do much sand squishing to avoid lumps in your spine.

Unfortunately, Florida’s been getting hit with some nastier-than-usual weather this summer, so the water was a tad murkier than I remember, which only freaked me out because of all the shark attack stories I’d been hearing lately. Still, a little murky sea water didn’t keep me from my beloved ocean.

A little island exploring before dinner.

A little island exploring before dinner.

We begrudgingly left the warmth of the sand due to the daily August thunder shower, checked into our hotel room, and did some exploring in town before meeting up with Robert’s aunt for dinner at her farm. The less time we spent in the room the better. Sleep was too tempting after such an early wakeup. We headed out to Centre Street, the main strip in Fernandina Beach, walked around, took some pictures with the locals (haha), and had a celebratory anniversary cocktail near the docks at Brett’s Waterway Cafe. The first time Robert and I came to Amelia Island we ate here with Robert’s family and had a really lovely meal.

We got there before they set up for the dinner crowd, which comes in around 5:30, so they let us take our drinks out to the porch to look at the water and for the first time in my life I saw real live seal mammals in the wild (with the exception of a seal once when we were on Cape Cod)! Unfortunately they were too far away to photograph or really identify, but without question we saw two dorsal fins swimming just off shore. This made me entirely too overjoyed.

Then we headed over to Robert’s aunts farm to enjoy some family time and dinner, and meet the new horses!

Meet Indy! An impressive 2,500lb logging horse.

Meet Indy! An impressive 2,500lb logging horse.

We were pretty tuckered out after dinner at the farm and headed back to our hotel. It was an incredible first day. We did so little and yet so much. The next day we headed over to St. Augustine and into the worst storms of our trip, but that’s a different story for another day. =)

I still have many, many pictures to sort through to share with you all and think that dividing the trip up into a few different blog posts is best. The next post will be about our day trip to St. Augustine, then a post about Orlando, then Tampa!

Then, with my test nearing and anxiety mounting I’ll be preparing for a weekend getaway to Maine with my dear friend, the expat.

Thanks for sticking with me, even with the large gap between posts. I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you share your summer adventures with me as well!

Travel Styles & Preferences #2

Rolling Luggage V. Backpacks:

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I use the ‘Expedition Travel Pack’ by L.L. Bean. They’re without a doubt one of my favorite brands for luggage – tough and durable, but lightweight. Robert uses the ‘Expedition Duffle’. I don’t think they make these exact models anymore, unfortunately; however, I’m sure L.L. Bean has bags that are comparable. We’ve brought our packs with us on several long trips, including an 11 day trip to Florida and on our 16 day honeymoon to Italy. That being said, we are not ‘backpackers’ and therefore if that’s the kind of bag you’re looking for, I can offer little insight into which bags are appropriate.

For rolling luggage, I’ve been using the American Tourister 20″ Spinner DeLite Hardsided carry-on in black. Hard-sided luggage can get a bit pricey, so I’ve avoided taking the plunge until this little guy went on clearance at Target this past winter just in time for me to visit a friend in Orlando for an extended weekend. I’ve used it on about 3-4 trips now and I think it works great. This is the bag I plan on bringing with us to Florida for this next trip. Before now, the longest I’ve ever packed this bag for was 5 days, so 8 days might be a bit of a stretch, but I think I made it work! Robert’s rolling luggage came from a flea market type of place, and I have no idea what the brand or model is, and truthfully it’s not the most durable bag on earth, but it works for what he needs and has so far {knocks on wood} never let us down.

There are pros and cons to both types of bags.

L.L. Bean Expedition Duffle

L.L. Bean Expedition Duffle

We bought the L.L. Bean backpacks because we didn’t want to deal with rolling luggage on the cobblestone roads in Europe. The 11day Florida trip was a dry run with the bags, and I thought they worked out well. Most obviously, the biggest downside to these types of bags is, of course, the weight. If you’re not careful or if you’re going on trip longer than a week (or if you’re like me and like to have clothes for a variety of situations) the weight can get really very cumbersome. But, if you’re going on a trip where your attire is more straight forward {i.e. you’re going on a business trip and need less casual or evening wear} than the weight thing may not problematic at all. It all depends on how much you know you can realistically carry around. For Italy, my backpack was just over 40lbs — which when you do a test ‘drive’ around your living room seems like nothing at all, and then when you carry it for hours around the airport seems like the biggest mistake you’ve made that day. Also, if you don’t pack the bottom layer as flat as possible, it may get a little uncomfortable against your back.

That all seems like negatives, I guess. But in truth, I did love the convienience of having everything on my back. We had no trouble walking the unpaved side streets of Italy with our backpacks and, because they’re carry-on size, enjoyed having everything so compact. The L.L. Bean bags fit perfectly in the overhead compartment on airplanes, much easier than my rolling luggage, and because they’re soft-sided smush down smaller if necessary. 11-16 Days was a stretch, with regard to weight, but both of these bags would be perfect if you are able to bring less items with you when you travel. On the website, L.L. Bean refers to this bag as a ‘weekend’ bag, and the newest model measures at 22.5Hx14Wx9D. My personal opinion, is this bag is great for much longer than a weekend, but not for much more than a week.

Another consideration with backpacks is to think about what kind of personal bag you’ll be using on the plane, if you’re going to be using one. As a woman, it’s not a problem – I use my Longchamp Large Le Pliage tote and just hold it on my arm or in my hand. However, as a man your options become much more limited. My husband likes to use a bookbag as his personal bag or sometimes even his camera bag and finds it very challenging to to have both bags be backpacks. A messenger bag might be a better option.

L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, Large

L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, Large

Rolling luggage, in general, is great for so many reasons. Weight is not an issue, especially if you have a well built bag. I’ve had many rolling bags over the years, including the L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, in ‘Large’. I bought this bag before going to Paris on a study abroad trip, thinking that it would be my ‘European Luggage’ {haha, oh how naive I was!}. I way overpacked using this bag, I brought probably everything I owned and very little of what I needed. I also brought it with me on a few vacations after that, and realized, slower than I probably should have, that this bag was just ridiculous for one person. I have to say, that the only times I’ve ever liked rolling bags, is in carry-on size. Anything larger than that for luggage of any type gets very unwieldy.

The American Tourister bag is turning me, quickly, into a convert for life. This upcoming Florida road trip is the longest I’ll have used this bag on. So far, I’ve brought this with me on a few long weekend trips and it’s served me very well. For our 8 days coming up, the fit is a little snug, but everything fits well enough. I love the 360° spinning wheels, it makes it so you don’t have to drag your luggage behind you, which can get extremely uncomfortable after long periods of time. The hard-sided feature can take a beating without me worrying about my luggage inside. Yet, even though it’s hard-sided, it is still extendable if you need a little more room. I usually prefer not to use that feature, because the more compact, the better.

With rolling luggage, you can use any type of personal bag you’d like – backpack, tote bag, camera bag … the possibilities are endless, which is ultimately what led Rob to want to use his rolling bag on this trip.

It seems, that rolling bags are most people’s preference. They are in abundance whenever you walk down the luggage aisle of most stores, whereas duffles and backpacks are harder to come by. It’s hard to say what my preference is, because I love both of these bags for very different reasons. For European adventures, I really don’t see myself ever using anything except my L.L. Bean Expedition Pack. There’s just so much more walking from one place to another and I’d rather not have to drag a bag behind me. I’m much more mobile with the L.L. Bean bag than with the American Tourister, oddly. However, my rolling bag has been great when I’m traveling by myself, or to places where I know exactly where I’m going an don’t have to do much walking.

I’d love to know what your preferences are, and what brands you use and love (or hate!). Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your sharing!

What’s in my personal bag?

Thankfully, this will be a much shorter post than the one on what’s in my carry-on! But, I really love seeing how other people pack and organize themselves for trips and I had so much fun writing the posts in this ‘series’. That being said, this is just one photo and a explanation of what I’ll have in my personal sized carry-on bag.


 

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Sorry this one’s a little dark, I had some camera troubles!

From the top!

1. Reef Flip-flops. I know it might seem silly to put these in my personal bag, instead of in my carry-on, but I like having very easy access to them. I’ll wear my sneakers to the airport, because they’re the heaviest shoes I’m bringing, but I never know how swollen or puffy I’m going to get once airborne.

2. My travel journal for jotting down blogging ideas and inspiration once we arrive!

3. Fuji Film & Fuji Film Instant Camera: Probably excess baggage, but I love these. We bought a few for our wedding last summer and I really enjoyed using them and think it will be fun to play around with these on our travels!

4. Passport/Wallet: My BFF just bought me this Kate Spade Passport Wallet for my birthday in early July and I love it! I like having everything in one place. I’m always nervous I’m going to forget my passport, but I {knocks on wood} have never forgotten my wallet.

5. Paper Towns, by John Green: After much consideration about which book to bring for the plane and beach/pool side reading, I decided to go with Paper Towns. My decision wasn’t easy but my reason for choosing this book was simple: It takes place in Florida (Orlando specifically, I believe) and the movie is coming out so soon and I’d like to have read the book before it does (or at least before I see it).

6. The black case to the left will hold all of my small chargers, i.e. cell phone & camera.

7. Sunglasses & sunglasses case, again for easy access once we get off the plane!

8. The little red case hold my camera, so I can take lovely pictures of our trip to share with you all!

9. EcooPro Lightweight Portable Adjustable Over Ear Stereo Headphones.

10. My laptop & charger. I probably won’t use this on the plane, because I usually just take advantage of the personal screens on JetBlue flights, but it’s easier to go through airport security if your electronics are someplace easily accessible, and at 5:00AM I have no interest in prolonging that particular experience.

11. My cell phone, of course! Equipped with the charging case I mentioned in a previous post.

12. The bottom row is all skincare and moisturizing products: (warning: If you have no interest in reading about these products, skip ahead.)

  • A little detergent (although it’s really supposed to be a Shout Wipes, but I have to pick some up still)
  • Deodorant wipes, you can buy these at Whole Foods, or Amazon. I was hesitant to buy these at first because they do tend to run on the pricier side, but they are WELL worth it to throw in your gym back or while traveling to hot locations.
  • Caudalie Grape Water. Definitely the weirdest purchase I’ve ever made, but I liked the idea of having something to spritz on your face while traveling to freshen up, and I love it. I bought this last year before traveling to Italy (13 hours each way! yikes.) and I was so glad I had it!
  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. Just a little face lotion to keep away any skin dehydration from flying.
  • Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream, a little sample I got in my BirchBox subscription! Again, I realize this seems like a lot of skincare products (at least it does to me) but we’re leaving at 4:00AM for the airport, and I could use all the help I can get!
  • Bio Republic Face Masks: Aloe & Cucumber for when I get the inevitable sunburn from hell. I also received these in a Birchbox. I doubt I’ll use these on a plane, or anywhere public for that matter, but I think it’ll be nice to have them on the trip to help my skin recover from travel and exposure to the sun.
  • Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint Sunscreen – want to guess where I got this little sample? If you said Birchbox, you’re keen on picking up themes! Hoping this little guy will help brighten me up after a long, early morning of traveling and a little extra sun protection never hurt anyone.

Thanks so much for reading! I’d love to know what you all bring with you in your personal bags when you travel. I look forward to you sharing!

Only 3 days left!

Only 3 days left!

Weekly Inspiration

Sorry it’s been so many days since my last post! It’s been a crazy hectic week of leaving jobs and internships & finishing graduate school to move on to new an exciting adventures! I’ll try to be more consistent with posts going forward! And will finally have some traveling to talk about!


There’s been an awful lot of inspiration this week! Here’s a look at some of the things that almost ruined my credit score.

1. NCL – 7 Day Cruise from Copenhagen to Norway.

Lately I’ve had a major itch go on another cruise and to visit Norway, but it hadn’t really occurred to me to put those two together. I was perusing the new Norwegian Cruise Line brochure and my curiosity for their European cruises peaked. A few years ago, Robert and I began thinking about our honeymoon and one of the original suggestions was to go on a European cruise. Immediately following a wedding, this seemed more stressful than just picking a few cities to visit, so we put it on the back burner. When I went to the NCL website, I discovered they had several options for a cruise to Norway! Well, it’s been a mental planning session ever since.

NCL

Let’s go Fjord hopping together!

2. Glamping.

I love camping. I used to go all the time when I was in high school and early years of college. There’s something to sleeping outdoors. Some of my best nights’ sleep have been in a tent. However, I’ve never really been able to fully embrace the not being able to shower for a few days at a time thing. Glamping seems to be the best of both worlds, and I’m more than a little obsessed with looking at pictures of it on Pinterest.

Glamping

#DreamHome Anyone?

3. Snaps!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, SnapChat Live Story Feeds are always inspiring. They are mini-reminders that people around the world are different in beautiful ways, but also not so different as we’d think.

SnapLive

4. Kings Landing, Croatia.

Dubrovnik seems to be a trending topic among the travel sites I follow, and among my friends who are enjoying their summer Eurotrips. As a relative newbie to travel, I have to admit that until recently, Croatia had never really been on my radar (a huge mistake on my part, I’m realizing rapidly).  This is changing with haste, and not just because I’m more than a little in love with Game of Thrones. Croatia looks as close to Paradise as one can get, and I want to be in those glistening blue waters as soon as possible, please?

croatia

Me and Cersei will definitely be enjoying some wine together while becoming new BBF’s.

5. Last, but most definitely not least – my Italian honeymoon.

This coming Monday, August 3rd is my 1 year wedding anniversary to Robert. So, Tuesday is the anniversary of our departure to one of the most magical trips I’ve ever been on. We spent over 2 weeks in Italy, visiting Rome, Florence, and Venice. Leaving Italy was heart wrenching, I could have stayed there forever – improved my Italian and eaten carbs like it was my job. Without question we will return one day, but until then I will just keep flipping through our beautiful pictures…

If you're considering locations for a honeymoon, I HIGHLY recommend Italy. Absolutely the best trip I've taken to date.

If you’re considering locations for a honeymoon, I HIGHLY recommend Italy. Absolutely the best trip I’ve taken to date.

Thanks for reading & I look forward to hearing what inspired your wanderlust this week!