Monday, April 27, 2015

How To: Travel with Friends

I know, I know, I'll be blogging about Italy really soon, I swear. It's just been a little difficult to get everything sorted, as I have a full-time job (as an engineer) and work has been incredibly busy and currently, I am out of town on business. I'm currently about an hour outside of Boston and have already taken advantage of my location by calling on my favorite New Englander, H. We spent the weekend dropping our 'R's (you know, "Hah-vahd") and galavanting around H's old college town.

And that makes a pretty nice transition for today's post. I've never really traveled alone, unless you count the small outings I've had on remote business trips. It's lucky for me that I have a sister and several friends who love to travel so I've always had companions on trips. I once went abroad with a friend for a month and we had to see each other's stupid faces every single day and we somehow managed to get along the entire time and I'm happy to say we're still friends.

I wanted to put together a survival guide of sorts for traveling with others. I guess I say "friends" because it's a nice and generic category. I've also traveled with family quite a lot and I've holidayed with several boyfriends (not at the same time - meaning, I didn't date them all at the same time nor did I travel with them all at the same time). But I think that family and beaus also fit into the category of "friends," right?
Every trip was a learning experience and has given me something to contribute to this list.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Galileo: Favorite Map App

So I flew back from Italy on Saturday. It was an amazing trip and I have lots of photos and experiences to share. I took over 2000 photos and 250 video clips so it's going to take a little while for me to sort and edit and organize. So first, let me talk about my new favorite map app.

I love Google Maps, I really do. I also love the My Maps feature. It's awesome because you can bookmark places and use really adorable icons and even draw lines (i.e. for bike paths) and you can even import someone else's hard work into your own maps.

However, my main problem with Google and My Maps is that I cannot bring it up on my iPhone. I can use a web browser to open the map, but then the caching feature (which is available in the Google Maps app) is no longer available to me. Plus, I had a few snafus last year while in France, even with the caching. I had 'starred' a bunch of sites that I wanted to go to and everything was going great. All of a sudden, my map refreshed itself and the stars disappeared! WHY, GOOGLE, WHY?! It was so annoying.

So, I've been searching for a solution to my map issue for a while and have experimented with a few options. I've finally settled on Galileo and I am in love. It allows you to download (searchable) maps and you can use them with or without wifi; brilliant. It was put to the test while I was in Italy and it passed the test with flying colors.
I thought I would share its successes (and minor shortcomings) with all of you who also love having offline maps whilst abroad.

Friday, April 17, 2015

10 Minute Travel Makeup

I love makeup. I think it's fun and I like the way it makes me look. On a normal day, I have a relatively time-consuming makeup routine. It takes me about 20 minutes to get my face on for work and I use a bunch of products, like cream bronzer and cream blush, that I wouldn't dream of bringing with me on holiday because I like to streamline and pack light.
I've pared down my holiday makeup to twelve products plus a lip product and I can slap it all on in ten minutes. It doesn't make me look endlessly glamorous, by any means, but it's enough to make me look more awake and fresh and is perfect for when I'm on holiday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

36 Hours in DC: Day 2

Despite our strenuous day of biking and our late bedtime, we managed to wake up at 7AM on Sunday morning.
Not wanting to waste the day, we got up and got ready (instead of lingering in bed like little lazy monsters) and headed out the door. Again, everything we did on Sunday had zero admission fees. Thanks, DC and the Smithsonian Institution!

Monday, April 13, 2015

36 Hours in DC: Day 1

So, even though I'm in Italy, I'll be blogging about one of my favorite American cities today. Last weekend, I went to DC and it was so much fun. We really lucked out because the weather was amazing. Saturday was a little windy but really bright and sunny. Sunday started off a bit overcast and cool but by the afternoon, it was wonderfully warm and almost 70F. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see too many cherry blossoms (thanks to the harsh winter and unusually cold February and March) but we spotted a few and snapped a few dozen photos.
We managed to squeeze a whole lot into our day and a half and I'm going to narrate it all. I'd also like to emphasize that we did not pay admission to any of the sights we visited. Isn't that awesome? There's so much amazing free stuff to do in DC.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Italy 2015: Packing List

We leave for Italy tonight and I am over the moon. I am already counting down the minutes until I can leave the office.

Whenever a holiday approaches, I'm always like, "I NEEDED THIS SO MUCH," but this time, I really mean it. With the aggressive winter we've just suffered through and the fact that I haven't used any of my vacation days yet this year and we're already into the second quarter, I'm due a proper holiday. The past weekend in DC was a lovely mini-break but I need to just not be at work for a full week and since I'll be abroad, it will be incredibly easy to avoid phone calls and emails.

Coming up with a packing list for Italy was quite trying. I've had this ideal in my head of lovely springy weather but it's been a bit difficult to really get in the spirit because it's been so inappropriately chilly here. Did I mention that it snowed last Tuesday evening and that the next morning, I had to chisel my way into my ice-coated car? Yeah, so despite checking the weather reports for the cities we're visiting (which claim temperatures averaging 65F), I was having a difficult time shaking the need for sweaters and coats.
But, thanks to my trusty little Polyvore account , the heater I have pointed in my face right now, and the fact that I experienced lovely warm weather in DC this past weekend, it's a little easier to imagine what it's like to not be shivering and I think I've got my packing list down.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Packing Cubes

Back when I had no money, I used giant zip top bags which basically functioned like packing cubes. They compressed their contents which saved space in my suitcase. Well, now that I'm older, somewhat richer, and maybe just a smidge wiser, I decided to invest in some packing cubes. I travel enough (for leisure and for business) that I concluded that it would be a worthwhile investment. I bought mine through ebags with a nifty 15% off coupon.

This Italy trip, which I am embarking on in two days (follow along on Instagram, if you please), will be the true test run because my sister and I will be fitting two people's wardrobes (for a 9-day trip) into one piece of luggage. It's not like we haven't done it before - we shared luggage when we went to Hawaii a few winters ago, to T&C, to France for 9 days last year - but we've never tried using packing helpers. Not only will the packing cubes help us pack more into the suitcase, I think the convenience factor will skyrocket because the packing cubes will help us keep our clothing segregated.

I've purchased one set of the medium cubes (3 in  the set), two sets of the small cubes (3 in each set, 6 total), and one set of the slim cubes (3 in the set). I didn't buy any large cubes because according to the photos on ebags' website, only two large cubes will fit into a standard carry on. While the large cubes will still do their job as far as compressing their contents and maximizing space, they don't offer much in the way of organization or separation. With smaller cubes, there are fewer items in each that you have to rifle through to find what you are looking for and that was my logic behind my purchase.
I thought it would be worthwhile to share some examples of what I might pack into these cubes and how I might arrange them in my luggage so that you too can decide if cube packing is a lifestyle change you'd like to make.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

36 Hours in DC: Packing List

I'm headed to DC this weekend with H. We've both been to DC separately several times and we've gone together a bunch too. This time around, we plan on biking around the city (because while we were in Toronto we discovered that we make an amazing biking duo) and we're going to visit some of our favorite spots and maybe some new ones.

This past winter has been incredibly brutal (I mean, it snowed last night in the NY Metro area!) so I've been looking forward to this little jaunt for weeks. I planned my spring timey outfits a while ago and I've been editing every time I checked the weather forecast. It's still a bit chilly, but the sunshine and lack of snow plow piles on the ground has me incredibly grateful and happy.
Here's what I'm bringing:
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