8 Days, 14 Outfits, 1 Carry-on

It all starts with a list…

As I mentioned in the last post, years ago I created what I like to think of as my “universal packing list”. It has any items necessary for our trips: winter/cold weather, summer/hot weather, camping, and so on.

Click of a larger image

Click of a larger image

This is not necessarily where I begin, however. Usually it starts with a lot of daydreaming at my desk, or in the middle of the night, when I’ll get inspired by what I’d like to bring with me and I start jotting those ideas down. This is usually a messy process that requires me to create charts and ruin a lot of perfectly good sheets of loose leaf paper. Then, after several “drafts” of my packing list, I’ll create a neatly typed version and put it someplace I will be able to access it easily.

I like to plan out outfits in advance based on what I feel good in at the time and based on our plans and itinerary.

I like to plan out outfits in advance based on what I feel good in at the time and based on our plans and itinerary.

In this case, I taped it into my travel journal, which I use more as a planning map than I do a journal. Even for me, this felt like a lot of items to carry and I was worried that it might not fit in my 21″ carry-on, which is the only suitcase I plan on bringing for myself. I’m usually pretty ambitious about how much I can fit in a small bag, and remain under weight requirements, but Florida is pretty straight forward in terms of weather during this time of year — hot, hot, wet, rainy, hot, hot. Easy enough to prepare for, because even when it’s wet and rainy it’s still hot. Therefore, my next step was to just lay everything out and see what I was actually dealing with.

Travel sized face soap, razor, cleansing wipes, cotton pads, razor, Roberts shampoos, tooth paste, makeup remover, makeup brush cleaning spray, travel sized deodorant for me, 2 travel size body washes, 2 shampoos and 2 conditioners for me, and a dry shampoo spray.

I prefer to get most of my travel sized toiletries from Harmon Discount Beauty Supply stores. I just think they have a better and larger selection than my local CVS and Stop & Shops. Robert and I will buy shaving cream and sunscreen when we get down there, because between the both of us for 8 days we will use a full size bottle, or nearly so, of each. He will obviously be bringing his own deodorant and razor, which isn’t pictured here.

Don't forget your Magic Bands & Disney themed hair bows.

Don’t forget your Magic Bands & Disney themed hair bows.

I will actually pack the box the magic bands came in, and very likely put our reservation paperwork and other Disney related paperwork and information in the bottom of the box. I’d just rather have everything in one place, in the event that the magic bands get finicky.

Cant go to Florida without plenty of bathing suits! I plan on swimming nearly every day so having a variety of bathing suits will give the others ample time to dry.

Can’t go to Florida without plenty of bathing suits! I plan on swimming nearly every day so having a variety of bathing suits will give the others ample time to dry. I also plan on bringing 1 one-piece bathing suit for our day at the waterpark.

Theme park attire. Running shorts are often made of quick drying or water resistant materials which will come in handy for water rides on humid days, I try not to bring a bag or too much excess with me to the theme parks because its too hot to carry things around. The Magic Bands will have our credit card information and park tickets, and I have a charging phone case for some extra battery life on my cellphone. Ill bring my ID with me in the pocket of my running shorts, and likely nothing else.

Theme park attire. Running shorts are often made of quick drying or water resistant materials which will come in handy for water rides on humid days, I try not to bring a bag or too much excess with me to the theme parks because its too hot to carry things around. The Magic Bands will have our credit card information and park tickets, and I have a charging phone case for some extra battery life on my cellphone. Ill bring my ID with me in the pocket of my running shorts, and likely nothing else.

Some evening outfits for dinners out, still pretty casual but a little nicer than running gear.

Some evening outfits for dinners out, still pretty casual but a little nicer than running gear. 😉

4 Tank Tops and 1 pair of shorts for casual daytime attire. I don't mind rewearing shorts several times in a row.

4 Tank Tops and 1 pair of shorts for casual daytime attire. I don’t mind rewearing shorts several times in a row.

 

My one piece or close to outfits: 2 knee length dresses, 1 romper, 1 pair of overalls and a crop top, and 1 maxi dress.

One piece (or close to) outfits: 2 knee length dresses, 1 romper, 1 pair of overalls and a crop top, and 1 maxi dress.

It all folded up smaller than I anticipated! Now were off to the races...

It all folded up smaller than I anticipated! Now we’re off to the races…

Ready...Set...Go!

Ready…Set…Go!

Hope you enjoyed seeing my packing process. It’s still a little early so this was just a dry run, I will have to add the shoes I plan to bring, but the general idea will remain the same. Share your packing tricks in the comment section if you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear how you prepare for quick trips!

Weekly Inspiration

I’d like to start a new posting series, where once a week (probably on a weekend) I’ll post a few things that gave me inspiration throughout the week. I can’t remember where I got the idea from, but I think it’s great. I find travel inspiration all over the place, and I love the idea of sharing that with my new and growing community.

1. First and foremost, our upcoming trip is a major source of my wanderlust inspiration this week. As you can probably tell from my last post, my mind is running wild with all the things I’d love to do and see. I’ve begun working on packing organization and prep, which will likely be the next post on the blog, and started buying any items that we’ll need or want to bring with us.

Getting excited just looking at this welcome sign!

Getting excited just looking at this welcome sign!

2. Talking with Brenna about our upcoming trip to Maine! Things are still fairly up in the air but it looks like we’ve finally nailed down a date, and will, hopefully, be embarking on an exciting weekend adventure to someplace new (for me at least) the last weekend in August. Brenna loves all things cold and I love all things hot, so it’s not very often we can agree on ideal vacation locations — as of now my favorite state remains Florida and Brenna’s is eternally Maine. Nonetheless, Maine looks beautiful from all the pictures I’ve seen and the idea of sharing something as special as Maine is to her, with her is inspiring me and my travel bug in many ways. Maybe Alaska’s next?

I mean, c'mon! How beautiful is this?!

I mean, c’mon! How beautiful is this?!

3. Pinterest is a dangerous place for the weak of focus. This picture taken on a deck of a dinner boat in Cairo is just … I mean it’s just … It speaks for itself, doesn’t it? This photo is giving me intense visions of me sitting on one of those leathery upholstered chairs, enjoying the cold air off the water, and watching the sunset. Let’s leave now, shall we?

Here. Let's go here?

Here. Let’s go here?

4. A volunteer trip to Tanzania, perhaps? I intern at a pretty incredible international volunteer organization, and sadly that internship is coming to an end at the end of next week. However, as part of my ‘perks’ for working with them for the last few months, I have earned credit toward one of their truly incredible volunteer programs, and I’m feeling a really strong pull toward Tanzania. Something about volunteering in the shadow of the infamous Kilimanjaro is more than enticing. It would be so good for me to get out of my comfort zone and visit someplace entirely new, not as a tourist, and basically on my own (with the exception of other volunteers, who would be strangers, and the organization’s staff). Definitely food for thought.

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5. Something about this quote really resonated with me. I know that all these pinteresty quote pictures can get a little cheesy, but every once and a while one really speaks to me. This is one of those.

What would inspiration be without pinspiration?

What would inspiration be without pinspiration?

What inspired you this week? Thanks for reading, and I look forward to you sharing!

2 weeks out.

Sorry about the confusion folks! I meant to save this as a draft earlier, instead of publishing it before I finished writing it. Yikes. Rookie blogger mistake, I suppose.

2 Weeks To Go, What’s the plan?:
14 days until our Florida Road-trip, but it feels like 14 very excruciatingly long days. There’s several hurdles to get through before actual preparations begin, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post there’s lots we’re hoping to leave to spontaneity. In the meantime, I’m wrapping up my internship, graduate assiatantship, and my final class. Of course, I left law and ethics until the end so it’s going to be an extremely long second half of July even though we’re already at July 22 (whoa, July flew).

However, travel is my therapy and thinking about our trip has helped me survive the summer semesters. In other words, I’ve had an awful lot of time to daydream and come up with very ambitious itineraries for our 8 glorious days in sunny Paradise.

Just a heads up, this might be a little bit lengthier of a blog post than what I typically (haha typically in the last 6 blog posts) submit. I’d really like to share my plans, wishlist, and process for preparing, even how I utilize a universal packing list I created years ago so that I wouldn’t have to write new ones every time I went someplace (I do anyway, but it’s nice to have these when I travel so that I know exactly what is in my bag when I leave so I can make sure it’s back in the bag when I come home).

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Let’s talk travel week.
The word hectic comes to mind. My final examination is either on Monday or Wednesday, it’s dependent on how the semester progresses in the next week, and therefore there’s no way for us to know when my semester is actually over. I planned our flight for first thing Thursday morning, giving me plenty of time to study for and take my final, pack, and organize my apartment before we leave. I hate leaving a messy apartment to come home to. A clean apartment softens the blow of having returned from paradise to reality.

Also due to wrapping up the semester, I likely won’t have time to do laundry or start arranging the things I want to bring before Tuesday at the earliest. I’m definitely a person who needs to work these things out in advance. Unlike my husband, who is able to select the things he wants to bring, roll them into his version of a neat ball, and throw them into a backpack in 5 minutes flat.

I hate over-packing but also hate feeling unprepared for a dinner because I packed the wrong things. I try to plan outfits that can be worn more than once and for day or night (Florida is a bit harder to make this work simply because of how hot it is. If there’s not time for laundry, trust me, you do not want me wearing most articles of clothing more than once — with the exception of shorts because, who cares?). The good news is that for women, summer clothes pack up into basically nothing and therefore do not take up a lot of room in one’s suitcase.

Some items we plan on just buying when we get down there (like toiletries for instance). I have extremely sensitive skin…extremely. And for years I would buy whatever sunscreen would fit the ounce requirements for airlines, which would result in my face feeling like it was on fire for a week or more. Not this time, I’ll just buy my preferred large size sunscreen when I get down there. Same with shaving cream, a week in a bathing suit means I’ll use a lot of it and instead of packing multiple travel sized ones, I’ll just buy a cheapo regular sized one when I arrive.

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We always fly JetBlue when we fly domestically.

The Game Plan:
On travel day, a shuttle will pick us up at 4:00 AM to bring us to the airport. Lately, we’ve been using shuttles and I have to say they’re really just so convenient. We live very near NYC and accessing any of the major airports in the area is a snap (barring extensive travel time on public transit or rage inducing traffic on the highways and bridges). My point is there is no shortage of ways one can get to the airport, however it actually costs just as much to take a shuttle (pay someone to drive and handle your luggage for you) as it does to lug your things in the subway or paying for extended parking at the airports and tolls in NY… and at 4:00 AM, “ain’t no body got time for that.”

We planned to leave as early as we are because we’d really like as much of a full first day in Amelia Island as we can. And when I say “we”, I mean me. Robert really has no desire to wake up at 3:00 AM after a long day of work the day before. I’m a mean wife =)

Aunt Rita doing her thing!

We’ll likely take a rest when we get into town around 10:00 AM and after checking into the hotel and picking up the rental car, we have nothing really going on that day. On my wishlist for the first day: Get to a pool or a beach, read, relax, drink something frothy, and eat something fishy. Simple. Hopefully, Robert’s aunt will be meeting up with us at some point on either the first or second day. She owns a horse & carriage company on Amelia Island, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do when we’re there. It gives you the chance to see the Island from a unique perspective and Robert’s aunt is a wealth of knowledge about the Island’s history. It’s like our own personal history tour and it’s amazing – if you ever visit, I highly recommend you check out Old Towne Carriage Company.

We’re on the Island for only 2 full days before we’re hittin’ the road for Orlando. My hope is that we can do a quick half-day trip down to St. Augustine and see Castillo de San Marcos and explore the historic downtown area. This is definitely ambitious, as it’s an hour and 20 minutes drive from Amelia Island, but it’s one of those bucket list places that I’ve always wanted to visit. If we can’t swing it this trip it’s not really that big of a deal because we are going back down to Orlando next year for an extended trip to celebrate a friend’s wedding.. but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, so let’s see what happens.

August 8th we’ll get up early and spend the early morning on the Island, hopefully we’ll get to see Robert’s aunt one more time and then we’ll start our 2 hour drive to Disney, where we’ll spend the first day at one of their water parks. Robert’s leaning toward Blizzard Beach, but why he wants to be reminded of snow in August is a little baffling to me. Actually, my real problem is that I just can’t choose between the two! They both offer very different, yet equally enticing attractions.

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My adorable husband, stoked that we’re at the happiest place on earth. This is an old photo from 2013.

We’ll wait until later in the afternoon to check into our hotel officially, because while you can do online checkin at any point that day, usually the rooms still won’t be ready until 3:00 PM anyway, which is about the time we’ll be finishing up at the waterparks due to the daily summer storms that roll in around that time, and will give us plenty of time to shower and change for an early dinner with friends at Beaches & Cream. By far one of my favorite places in all of Disney World. Yum. There’s something about how nostalgic that whole resort area feels to me. Another one of Robert’s aunts will meet us in Orlando at some point that night, but if we finish dinner early enough I hope we can spend some time around the Boardwalk and hopefully do some arm twisting and get our friends to visit Epcot for a little while (Epcot is the best part of Disney, period.)

For this trip we decided to stay at the All Star Music Resort, one of Disney’s value resort all-star-music-resort-gallery00properties. We went back and forth for a while trying to decide if it was worth it financially to stay “on property” or at a hotel nearby, and it came down to wanting to maximize our time while in Orlando. If you stay on property you’re privy to Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which are extended park hours at the theme parks on rotating days. On the days we are going Magic Kingdom will have Extra Magic hours until 2:00 AM, and Animal Kingdom will open at 8:00AM instead of 9:00AM, giving us a little extra time with reduced crowds and to make sure we do all the things we want in the 2 days we’re at those parks. Additionally, we really enjoy utilizing Walt Disney’s bus service which transports you wherever you want to go around the resort areas, and if we decide to drive to a theme park we don’t have to worry about paying extra for parking because it’s included in our resort stay.

"Where dreams come true.."

“Where dreams come true..”

The next two days we’ll get up bright and early and split our time between Magic Kingdom (1 full day), Animal Kingdom (1/2 day) and Hollywood Studios (1/2 day). We have a dining reservation on Sunday night at California Grill, a new place for us, and I’m really excited to try it. Lots of other bloggers and YouTubers rave about the dining experience there. Our reservation is right around the time that fireworks begin at Magic Kingdom so hopefully we’ll be seated with a good view of the action. For those of you not in the know, California Grill is on one of the upper levels of the Contemporary Resort and it overlooks the Magic Kingdom theme park. Usually, it’s very difficult to get a reservation at Cali Grill, which I’m finding to be more and more true of Walt Disney World restaurants in general, with a few exceptions.

Rob & I at SciFi Drive-In at Disney's Hollywood Studios, 2012.

Rob & I at SciFi Drive-In at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 2012.

We usually try to make at least a few dining reservations when we’re at Disney World in advance, especially if there’s a particular restaurant we’re hoping to try or return to, and we definitely make sure to make our fast pass selections in advance since they started allowing guests to do so. It helps reduce the amount of time you’re waiting in queues for rides, especially during slower times of the year and certain times of day. Although, if you go on a busy day or reserve fast passes for a popular ride, the fast pass lines can also be quite lengthy.

The last morning at Disney we’ll have breakfast at O’hana, our first ever character breakfast experience in all the years we’ve been going to WDW, and say our goodbyes to magical Orlando for Tampa Bay!

We truthfully have no idea what to expect from Tampa, having never been before and that’s really exciting to us. Our wishlist includes: Ybor City, the Tampa zoo, and lots of time spent on beaches or around pools. Our hotel seems to be fairly centrally located, just in case we decide to make the trek to Busch Gardens (although after 3 days in theme parks, may not be too appealing in the heat they’ve been experiencing.. but, again, who knows?).

 

I’ll do a separate blog post, probably in a week, with a final packing list for what I’m definitely bringing, and how I plan to organize myself into the least amount of space and weight possible for me.

Sorry it’s such a long post, but I hope you enjoyed reading about our plans and would love to hear about your Disney experiences and any upcoming summer travel plans you may have. Weigh in on whether we should go to Blizzard Beach of Typhoon Lagoon, or on other things to do in Tampa! Thanks for reading!

Tentatively, Maine.

If you follow my twitter at all, you’ve likely gotten a glimpse into my ADD. Lately, I’ve posted a few “Polyvore Sets” (For those of you not in the know, basically this.. [see picture]) for a tentative weekend trip to Maine at the end of the summer.

My best friend loves Maine. Her and her family go every summer, and this year her beloved family vacation was cut short due to work requirements. As far as I’m concerned, there was nothing particularly special or different about her annual trip to Maine, apart from my anxiety about her last few months in the states before she moves to England for a year to finish graduate school. Daily, I received pictures of her enjoying Maine’s lush piney greenery, rolling oceans, Dooney & Bourke factory store, and her parents’ lobster rolls.

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Suddenly realizing how hard next year is going to be without receiving my daily Snapchats or pictures I’ve grown so accustomed to since she moved from New York to DC last year, or being able to pick up the phone to chat whenever we’d like, and actually going for extended periods of time without one of us visiting the other… I became overwhelmed by the feeling that I need to experience Maine with my pal before embarks on her new life across the pond.

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Those who know me know what happens next.. I “suggest” we visit. Most of the time, people in my life respond with a snicker and a,”…Yeah ((sigh)), Wouldn’t that be nice?” And the me’s of the world have already packed (at least on Polyvore). My best buddy on the other hand is similarly packed and is searching for hotels probably as we speak (type? read? don’t be so literal, you know what I’m trying to say). The only roadblock we’re currently facing is coordinating weekends between my last month as a graduate student in New York, her brief move back to New York, and her big move over to London.

This is by way of saying, look out for some additional posts on Maine! If you’ve ever been, or if you’re from Maine, please share what you love about the Pine Tree State, or any suggestions you might have on things to do! 🌲

Travel Styles & Preferences

Travel guides seem to be a bit controversial in the traveling community. I gotta be honest… I love a good travel guide, but I’m not married to them. When I pick a destination, chances are I have a pretty good general idea of what I want to do and see, but having never been there for myself, really have no clue. Travel guides help me choose decent places to eat, less well-known museums or sites that I would have likely walked passed had I not read they were there, and whether or not I should listen to people when they tell me that, as a woman, I probably shouldn’t wear shorts in France.

In the planning and preparation stages of my travel prep is when I tend to spend the most time with these travel guides. I like to get a general feel for the things I’d like to see and develop a very general itinerary as to when I’d like to see them, but it’s more of a rough draft than a finished product, and if it changes no big deal. My husband, on the other hand, uses the guides a lot once we’re at the location to figure out how we get from Point A to Point B and where we can grab some delicious food nearby.

Our trips usually include a combination of a 1 or 2 short, preplanned tours, and a lot of free time to wander (with a basic idea of which direction we’re headed). For instance, when we were in Ireland we scheduled a bus tour from Dublin to see the Cliffs of Moher (which got canceled due to what a New Yorker would consider a pathetic amount of snow); we scheduled a day trip around Tuscany tour when we were in Florence; A Vatican tour in Rome, etc.

For Germany we’re discussing plans to take a tour out of Munich to see Füssen and Neuschwanstein Castle; In London we’re discussing plans for a day tour out to Stonehenge…

We are spending a little over four days in each location, and lending one day each to a tour is hardly a concession. We still have three full days (and trust me, they will be FULL days) to explore on our own.

Sure, you can access these places on your own, and sure, you might have more time to spend at each place. I just prefer the tour format. It gives you a chance to meet someone who is much more familiar with the area than I will likely ever be just by reading about it, a chance to meet other travelers, and possibly a chance to see things (again) I would not have known about otherwise.

I guess it boils down to the word “tourist”. I don’t mind it, and I don’t mind being one. I know that I exhibit cultural sensitivity and respect for locals wherever I go, and therefore actively try to combat the image of the “ugly American” and intrusive tourist. I know that other countries and people are not put on this earth for my entertainment and I don’t expect them to be. I’m just an observer who’s trying to see something new and learn about the world beyond myself.

One negative strike or perception against travel guides is that they  take the element of spontaneity out of travel and adventure, but they don’t need to completely, and frankly to be 100% spontaneous makes me a little anxious. I do seek authentic cultural experiences when I travel, and I do not in any way believe that the use of travel guides have prohibited me from these, and in some cases have led me down some pretty amazing paths toward great encounters with wonderful people.

I’ve met some really amazing people while on tours in other countries, I’ve also met some amazing people just meandering about. My point in saying all of this I suppose, is that everyone has their own process and comfort level with traveling. If you’re the traveler that tosses a pair of shorts, a rain coat, and a scarf in a backpack and throws a dart at a map and heads off without much more planning – great. If you’re a traveler that needs to fill every single day with an itinerary – great. Traveling is personal and how we learn about and experience new places is entirely up to us.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on using travel guides and how you all prepare for your adventures!

What’s a few snaps between friends…

Do you recall, in the beginning, when I told you that I needed an outlet? Here’s a prime example of why. This is my side of a Snapchat with my best friend while on a 5 minute coffee break at work. Whoops. =) (Don’t worry, she sent some back) Enjoy the Friday silliness, my Wanderkin friends!

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Encierro & il Palio – My stream of conciousness

Chances are you’ve heard of the Running of the Bulls in Spain, but if you’re anything like me, it’s very likely that you know very little about the actual event. Until recently, I could definitively tell you that the encierro happens in Spain… the location and date, however? That would be a very different story. Well, today – July 7 – is the first day of encierro (corral) in Pamplona, Spain. So I went searching for a bit of background on the event.

Image borrowed from: http://sanferminprensa.com/

Image borrowed from: http://sanferminprensa.com/

It all started this morning with Snapchat, which has a story category for ‘Running of the Bulls’. (Sidebar: If you have Snapchat, I highly recommend you tune into these. I can’t get enough and believe these short videos do a lot in the way of bridging perceived cultural gaps and making small connections with people from all over the world. If you do not have Snapchat.. Welcome to 2015, you should probably download it and get with the program.) Curious, I did a general google search for the history of the annual ‘encierro’, made popular in the US by Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. If you’re interested in a brief history, I recommend the Time article I posted on my Twitter feed.

From what I’ve gathered today, Hemingway is to blame for the draw of Americans to Pamplona every July for the San Fermín festival. Well, a romanticized image depicted by Hemingway along with wine filled celebrations and what may possibly be foreigners’ blatant disregard for the rules du jour.

Something about this mysterious Spanish tradition reminded me of il Palio in Siena… Maybe it’s the swarm of visitors to the regions to witness these historically brief moments linked to much deeper cultural roots, or maybe there’s just something fascinating about people engaging in risky activities with large, fast-moving animals. Who knows?

Siena begins to prepare the square for il Palio, horse race. August 2014

Siena begins to prepare the square for il Palio, horse race. August 2014

The Palio is a much less publicized (in America, at least) event that occurs twice a summer in Siena, Italy. I first learned about these centuries old bareback horse races last August when Robert and I were on a tour of Tuscany.

It is believed that the Palio dates back to the 12th century and is an extremely important event for the locals. Siena is broken up among seventeen districts and a jockey and horse ride on behalf of their district – the prize for the winner is the glory awarded them by their district. It’s a really fascinating spectacle!

The square is prepared by matting down the angular stone roads with soil, and the center of the square is crammed with visitors who stand (only the lucky, and wealthy, few get the shady seats on the perimeter) in blazing Tuscan summer temperatures for hours awaiting the, only moments-long, race around the square.

Panoramic view of "Piazza del Campo" during the historic parade just before the Palio race begins

Panoramic view of “Piazza del Campo” during the historic parade just before the Palio race begins – this is not my photo, but a stock image that offers a much better view of the square.

I think my real fascination stems from my abrupt realization that I know very little about the intricacies of so many different cultures. The Palio for instance, lasts no more than 90 seconds (Encierro lasts just over 2 minutes), and preparations begin months before, excitement and glory for the victor last a whole year after, and pride in their heritage and cultural identity runs deep. As for the rest of us, we’re just lucky enough to be a very, very, very small piece of these historical puzzles.

Where to first?

As you can probably already tell, I love traveling. I’ll take it in all shapes and sizes, and because of my husband’s work schedule we’re pretty limited on when we can travel.

Rob insists on making a stop at Silver Diner for a Nutella Banana Milkshake whenever we are in DC! Then some fun wedding selfies and monument pictures for good measure!

Back in March we visited Washington D.C., easily one of our favorite cities, for a good friend’s wedding. We realized that quick little weekend trips might be a nice way to fill our summer with travel and quell that aforementioned buzzing in our brains, without interrupting Rob’s work schedule too much. We talked on the way home about all the little trips we wanted to achieve this summer, and almost within seconds our brilliant idea about quick weekend trips turned into a basically planned 8 days in Florida… whoops.

Photos from my first trip to FL in 2010. Don’t worry the shark is fake 🙂

Our plans began the derailing process right as we started talking about our first year wedding anniversary. We decided we would begin in Amelia Island, Florida – such a unique and beautiful part of the state. It doesn’t feel like so much of the rest of Florida, in the sense that you will be hard pressed to find a strip mall or big box store anywhere near the main drag. You will, however, find warm ocean waters, beautiful sandy beaches, remnants of Colonial influences, horse and carriage rides, and lots of surf gear clad locals.

We go to Orlando about once a year – Rob went to college near there and one of my best friends moved down to work for the Mouse – so, I assumed we would avoid it on this particular trip… until, hubby said, “Why would we go to Florida and not visit Disney World?” I’m 100% a kid at heart and I will never turn down a chance to visit the happiest place on earth… Not even when we already planned to go at the end of September for, what is in my humble opinion, the best time to visit Orlando – Disney’s Food & Wine Festival and Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights (25th anniversary!). And thusly, Orlando became the next stop on our trip.

Then, we decided we should go someplace new and we’d heard lots of good things about the Tampa Bay Area. I can’t really say too much about Tampa because we have zero plans once we arrive and we’ve never been before!

Me and Rob last October at Food & Wine and Halloween Horror Nights

There’s lots of things that I find particularly exciting about this trip:

  1. We leave mere hours after I finish my last ever class as a graduate student, HURRAY!
  2. We will be celebrating a pretty spectacular 1st year of marriage.
  3. Apart from our time in Orlando, we have absolutely no set plans for Amelia Island or Tampa, and our whole trip is open for us to be spontaneous and explore or relax or whatever. Truthfully, we would have liked not to plan Orlando either, but summer is a busy time of year and without fast passes it can be quite difficult to do or see the things you want – including getting dining reservations at places you’d like to eat (which for me is just about everywhere… eating is one of the best parts of traveling, isn’t it?)

So, that’s trip #1 – Amelia Island, Orlando, and Tampa.

Trip #2 is, as I mentioned, at the end of September. We will be returning to Orlando for an exciting 3 day weekend of Food & Wine festivities at Epcot and a fearfilled night of Halloween Horror Nights 25!

Trip #3 is the big one! The day after Thanksgiving Robert and I will be traveling to Munich, Germany and London, England to visit the Christmas Markets (a dream of mine!) and visit my best buddy who’s moving to London for the year to finish her graduate studies.

I hope you stick around as I share my process for planning and preparing for our upcoming adventures. I can’t wait to continue filling you in on our plans and hope that you will share your travel plans and adventures with me!

Wonderings of a Wandering Mind…

Hi! I’m PJ and I love to travel. It’s virtually all I think about all day long while I try to navigate through my life of graduate school, internships, and work.


You see, it all started back in 2009. I’d never stepped foot inside an airport, let alone a plane, before then. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up and traveling certainly wasn’t a priority. Having never been anywhere, I didn’t know that I would want to see so many new places, until my adviser in my history program dragged me to Paris for two weeks to study revolutionary France.

Since then, there’s been a constant buzzing in my brain wondering where I’m off to next, if I’ll be able to afford to travel forever, if I can afford to travel now, what kind of suitcase is best, what on earth is a packing cube and why do I want 500 of them so badly, how do I pack for 8 days of winter weather conditions in a 20 inch suitcase, to check or not to check, converting US measurements to metric, and on and on until husband is left rocking back and forth in a corner and throwing credit cards my way to shut me up. I’m kidding… Kind of. 

So I decided I should probably get an outlet. That’s where you come in. Here I hope to share with you my process for thinking of, planning and preparing for travel, and traveling.

Additionally, I hope this becomes a community where fellow travel lovers and wanderlusts share their experiences with me. Again, I’m pretty new to the world of travel and I know I have a lot left to learn and hope this can be a place where I’ll be able to do that. But be nice. The internet doesn’t need to be a place for judgments and meanness.

I look forward to meeting you all!