Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Packing for Holiday Travel

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Sarah’s post inspired me to write a little about packing for holiday travel. Don’t you hate the way you feel when you travel? The one time I want to look good is when I’m seeing people I haven’t seen for years, and despite the best of efforts it seems that even my eyelashes don’t want to cooperate while traveling.

At first, the obvious solution was to pack more…more clothes…more make-up…more hair products and tools. Result? Still icky.

Now I’ve realized feeling and looking good away from home is all about packing the right things, not more. So here are a few of my crucial travel tips:

#1 Water bottle with filter=Hydration

When I first saw bobble water bottles in the store I was so mad I hadn’t thought of this invention! I’ve discovered the number one trick in feeling good while your away is hydration. It costs a lot to keep buying bottled water and for those water snobs like me out there, this filter can ease the fears of tap water away from home. Seriously one of the best inventions EVER to always have in your purse.

#2 Blanket = Sleep

Some people have their pillow or something else they can’t sleep without and I have never understood this logic or having a child dependent on a sleep aid until now. Different sleeping environments really can affect your quality of sleep, so when I started bringing my Restoration Hardware blanket on trips, I slept a gazillion times better. Really? A little embarrassing, but this blanket is amazeballs and Sarah’s find at Costco is just as lovely.

#3 Slippers = Comfort

It’s official and obvious that I’m now 30, as I am listing slippers as a travel essential. But seriously comfort equals joy at a hotel or anywhere when I bring my lovely mocs along. If you haven’t tried bringing your slippers along, give it a try.

#4 Curling Iron Cover = Worry-free Travel

No one wants to arrange travel plans by how quickly their flat iron can cool down before leaving. I finally bought a curling iron cover, and now can get ready and leave quickly without worrying about burning clothes planes/houses etc.

#4 Chocolate + Gum + Perfume = Refreshment

Sarah is the best little packer and surprised me at the airport one time with our favorite Ritter chocolate. A delicious treat always helps with flight delay frustration!  I always make sure I’m am stocked with a fresh pack of gum and a travel-size perfume (free from Bath + Body Works coupons) before leaving on a trip. They work like a charm to detox from airplane air. As Sar mentioned, our favorite is refreshing and not too fruity or overpowering,  “White Citrus“.

Okay, just one last thing…this might not be an essential but wouldn’t travel be a little easier with a new wool weekender?

I saw this at the Sundance Outlet, and am in lo0ove. Wouldn’t it be smashing for holiday travel? 50% off, but still $199.

Will you be traveling for the holidays? What are your packing essentials? Read more of our travel tips HERE and HERE.

Packing Tip: Cosmetic Grab Bag

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

In my early 20′s I worked for Clinique in England. I LOVED that job, mostly because I LOVE the products and all the freebies I received. At the time I traveled quite a bit and often without much notice, and that’s when I came up with my ‘cosmetic grab bag’. It’s simply my soap bag ready to go at any moment.

Today it’s still one of my favorite packing tips. Just having it ready and handy has proved to be very useful and a real time saver. It’s especially nice to have all new products ready and waiting; and as you can see I like the travel sized items from Bath and Body Works which are often free with coupons. Sometimes I get really nerdy and try and colour coordinate all my products, but hey it’s fun and festive. :)

 

 

Packing Tip: Ikea’s Big Blue Bag

Monday, October 15th, 2012

We just returned from our fabulous wedding weekend, and thought I’d share one of my favorite packing tips.

Sometimes when we’re going away with a big group it’s easier for the hostess and ourselves to pack our own bed, bedding and towels etc…But when you get it all together it can become quite bulky and look something like this:

This is when the Ikea big blue bag comes into play, you know the ones at the check out for only 59¢? Seriously it’s the best 59¢ I’ve ever spent, I use it again and again especially on large items like these.

See look how tidy:

It’s perfect to pack in the back of the car, as it’s a major space saver.

Of course you don’t have to just back bedding, it’d work for whatever to cart around; I’m thinking it’d be supper handy with kids. Do you guys have any packing tips? There’s always room for improvement!

 

 

FREE: National Park Week

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Have you guys heard that this is FREE National Park Week? What a deal! To see a complete list of parks participating see HERE.

There’s nothing I’d rather do right now then pack up for good ol’ American road trip, but sadly the hubs is suffocating in finals, and I’m dreaming of freer days.

When we first immigrated we spent the first couple of summers touring some national parks. The red rocks of Utah were the complete opposite to green hills of Cheshire, and we were in awe. Now that I’m married it’s fun to revisit and show the Mr places he’s not yet been.

Yellowstone is my absolute fave. What’s yours?

(PS. If you’re planning to spend sometime in the park, always inquire about any special offers. For example at Yellowstone you can by a souvenir cup and receive free refills throughout your stay…always a plus.:)

Lazy Weekend Extended and a Dream House Tour

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Happy Monday everyone, we hope you all had a lovely weekend. We were lucky and spent it with friends and family in Midway. We ate too much, laughed a lot and even enjoyed a good football game.

While we were up there, of course we had to check in on the dream home, and were pleasantly surprised to see that they are now hosting tours…Em will be reporting her thoughts on this later this week, but for now CLICK HERE to make reservations, if you’re interested in going yourself.

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As for us, we’ve decided to keep the weekend going, eating lots of leftovers and dreaming of watching the big game in the Dream House family room next year!

Travelzoo Deals

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Do you guys know about Travelzoo?  I have been using this site for years to compare prices from all different airlines and travel sites such as Orbitz and Expedia, to make sure I am getting the best deal around on flights and vacations.  You can subscribe to their weekly email features the ‘Top 20′ best internet travel deals of the week, and now a new feature has been added for local deals.  Last month I found this deal, and thought it was too good to pass up:

We bought the deal and last weekend Brad and I headed up to Park City celebrate my birthday.  The Stein Eriksen Lodge did not disappoint!  I think we loved it most because we were nestled up in the autumn mountains and the lodge was so quiet before the snow and ski rush!

A few highlights from our stay:  Running around the grounds trying to find the hot tub in our robes and slippers (yes we know we are dorks), enjoying dusk at the outdoor pool and hot tub (no one else was there!), our own private deck with incredible mountain views, a private workout at the gym (which had it’s own tv for each machine, soaked washcloths, lemon water, protein bars and fruit for post-workout recovery) and of course a long soak in the biggest bathtub EVER, reading a good mag.  It’s the little things, right?!  Brad’s highlights:  High definition tv and cable at the foot of the bed, waking up to a crisp New York Times at the door.

Make sure to subscribe to Travelzoo to sign up for your local deals, I’m glad we didn’t miss out on this one.  Thanks Brad for a great birthday that I’ll never forget x

Naked Smoothies at Starbucks

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Traveling is one of my favorite things ever, but I really hate layovers, and really really hate airport food. Brown iceburg lettuce isn’t my idea of a healthy salad, and at sky high prices, it can be both aggravating and disappointing trying to grab a bite between flights.

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A couple of years ago Em introduced me to one of her little secrets, we’ve mentioned this trick to you all before (see HERE), but after our most recent trip, we feel the need to tell you all again. Are you ready?

Go to Starbucks, and buy a Naked Juice out of their refrigerator. Simply ask for them to blend it up with ice, and add a dollop of cream (optional). This is big enough to share, so we usually have it spilt into two cups.

We love the Blue Machine flavor, it really is the perfect snack while traveling, you get that burst of flavor with the feel good of the fruit, all for around $4 (that’s only $2 each if you’re splitting!)

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Look how happy Emi looks with her yummy treat! Now we want to hear what you think, promise us next time you travel you’ll try this, we pinky swear you won’t be disappointed:)

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Staycation

Monday, August 8th, 2011

This summer we have no vacations planned, (too many classes + work for the hubs). I thought I was being creative when I planned a little holiday at home, but apparently I’m not the first with the idea of vacationing without going anywhere. This idea became popular with this whole economic crisis thing!

My suggestions for a great Staycation are:

No. 1 Change up your bedroom before hand. De-clutter night stands, and any other surface, then give your bed a mini makeover. As you can see I got a bit carried away with this by hanging a flat sheet from our four poster;but a different set of sheets or new pillows will really mix up the look and feel. I even took down a couple of our photos and added a little art piece I enjoyed making to make it feel less personal like a hotel room (it’s not very often that that’s a good thing!).

No. 2: Don’t set you alarm, and don’t feel guilty for sleeping in or getting up…do whatever YOU FEEL LIKE!

No.3: Go out to breakfast. This ONLY happens when we are on vacation, as the Mr wakes up famished daily, so this one really helped us get more in a vay-cay mood, especially when we go somewhere new.

No.4: Visit a museum or theme park. Pretend your seeing your area for the first time, what are the main attractions visitors like to go to? Chances are you haven’t been in quite a while, if at all.

No.5: Resist the urge to check your email, and answer your phone. You should probably mention this to your regular callers before hand, so they don’t think it’s strange!

No matter if you staycation is a day or a week, it can be equally rejuvenating. So go a head and treat yourself to a guilt free vay-cay!

For more suggestions see HERE.

British Summer Treats

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside,
I do like to be beside the sea.
Oh, I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom,
Where the brass bands play ‘tiddly om pom pom.’…

Excuses me, I was getting carried away there singing to myself!

Today I’m thinking of my favorite childhood summertime treats, and of course that brings me to the seaside. The beach is never too far away for a day trip when you live on an island,  meaning there’s always an ice cream truck and perhaps a rock shop near by too.

Allow me introduce you to the most famous of British summer treats: the 99 ice cream+ sticks of rock.

The 99 Ice Cream is a simple vanilla cone, with the wow factor of  a Cadbury Flake. The combination of cool creamy ice cream and flakey milky chocolate is a dream. Most ice cream trucks also offer an option on raspberry sauce dripped on top, adding a punch of fruity. Traditionally, grandparents like to give their grandchildren a little pocket money for such treats, before the day trip or holiday began.

Rock candy is every child’s dream, colourful and sugarful! They take forever to eat, as they very hard and would break your teeth if you dare to bite. The outside of the candy can be a variety of colours and patterns, at the tip you can see the inside which is usually white with the name of the place your visiting embedded. Traditionally, children bring back a stick for all their friends or chop up several sticks to share with a whole classroom.

I do miss these treats, but don’t worry I have enough fantastic local ice cream here to keep my homesickness at bay!

I hope all of you are splurging your calories on such goodness too!

Yosemite: Sierra Mountain Lodge B&B

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Last week the hubs and I met up with his parents to explore Yosemite National Park. It was a peaceful weekend filled with beautiful views, good conversation and great food. One of the highlights of our trip was our accommodation–little did we know when we booked our room we had stumbled upon a little haven.

The Sierra Mountain Lodge is a family-run bed & breakfast nestled in the small town of Ahwahnee, CA, which is about a 40-minute scenic drive from the southern park entrance. I’ve found that staying in a B&B can be very cost effective, and very charming–as long as you pick a good one!

Pulling into the driveway was like entering a secret mountain retreat; we were welcomed with the smell of fresh pine, and the buzzing of bees and rustling of leaves. Our suite accommodated all four of us, and was very cozy and very clean. I always love a linen closet filled with fresh white towels!

As you can see from the photos, we were not in a hurry to leave and could easily have stayed the whole day (that always seems to be a problem when we stay somewhere nice), but it was great going out for a drive, knowing we had a cozy room and hot chocolate awaiting our return!

The morning breakfast was delicious: hot pancakes, sausages, yogurt and fresh fruit. It was lovely to meet the owners and mingle with the other guests before heading out to a full day of adventure.

Basically, I just loved this place. The owners were great and really created an inviting, well kept environment. We felt right at home, and will definitely return for our next Yosemite trip… and of course, I’m now dreaming of running my own bed & breakfast….

PS. Did you know the National Park Service has free days? The next one is on June 21st. See more details HERE.

Gold Foil Scratch Off Map

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The map craze just got a little bedazzled with this gold foil, scratch off map.  Very cool, love it!

Find it HERE.

Jeff Lewis + Casa Vega

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

We heart Jeff lewis. His reality show; Flipping Out on Bravo is one of our guilty pleasures.  Jeff and his team are hilarious, his projects are amazing, and his business is inspirational.

One of his projects was a redo of a classic Mexican restaurant in LA, Casa Vega.  Of course on our recent trip to Cali we had to go and check it out.  We were impressed with the makeover; and equally impressed with the delicious food.  We look forward to visiting again.

Check out the before and afters:

(Images courtesy of jefflewisdesign.com)

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Day Trippin: London’s Must Do’s

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Five items to bring on a day trip:

No. 1 Comfy Shoes: There’s been many times I’ve made the mistake and gone away with just a pair of ballet flats, those these are great at home and running errands, but it’s a completely different story when out walking around ALL day. A well broken in pair matched with great socks, will keep you going long after the museums are closed!

No.2 Big Bag: Big enough to carry camera, water bottle, snacks and souvenirs. Too many bags can lead to an early mental breakdown while you’re hoping around the city, relieve the mental stress and keep everything in one place.

No. 3 Hand Sanitizer: Quickly bobbing around the city can soon leave you feeling more than gross, it’s amazing how having clean hands can make you feel so much better.

No. 4 Scarf: You already know how much we love these, but while on a day trip they are essential. They’re light to carry and keep you snug as the evening draws in, or any sudden weather change.

No.5 Umbrella: There’s nothing you can’t see in the rain than in sunshine, and in London it’s more likely to rain, even a small one you can easily fit in your purse is worlds better than getting drenched and cutting your day short.

Five places you must see visit:

No.1 Westminster:  Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey are all found in within this small area.  The architecture of these buildings alongside the Thames makes the view absolutely breathtaking.  You simply cannot go to London without having your picture taken by Big Ben and peeking down Downing Street on the off chance of seeing the Prime Minister.  If you have time we would highly recommend sitting in on the houses of commons for a taste of British politics.  Also, right across the river you can hop onto the London eye, to see views of all of London.

No.2 Tower of London: This destination is easily one most fascinating places in London, it’s packed with history and chilling tails of darker days. It’s home of the crown jewels, royal armor of several past Kings, and the famous ravens. The only problem is there might be too much to see and you could easily spend the whole day here (which we highly recommend), but if you don’t have time you at least have to go see the surrounding walls and get your photo infront of Tower Bridge. Tickets are £19.80 per adult, but can be purchased cheaper online HERE, or if you’re traveling into the city by train you could qualify for 2 for 1 admission read more HERE.

No.3 Buckingham Place: If you go to London you’d better go visit the queen, or at least go see the Changing of the Guards. It’s extremely royal and extremely free so it’s a must! See HERE for schedule.

No. 4 St. Pauls Cathedral & Area: Again it’s just a beautiful place to visit, and it’s packed with history. It’s been on the site since 604 AD. They welcome visitors for daily services, which I like to do to relax and soak up to the atmosphere, info HERE.

Across the way there is Millennium Bridge which is worth a walk across. The bridge was built as part of the city’s millennium celebration and you may recognize it from the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Once across you’ll see Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, we’re yet to see a play, but the standing tickets start at only 5 pounds quite a deal, see HERE.

No. 5 Harrods and Liberty:  Harrods is as famous as a store possibly can get.  This store has it all.  It is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and gifts for home.  Make sure to check out their food courts, which are out of this world.  Also, the children’s toy department is pretty hard to beat.  Liberty of London is one of favorite store in London.  It is famous for it’s fabrics and unique designs. Liberty’s current location is on Regent Street in an old Tudor building built from two ships in 1924.  It is definitely worth visiting and is not known to many tourists, so is usually a nice, quieter place to shop.

London has many hop-on/hop-off tour buses that we would highly recommend to see lots of things in a limited amount of time.  It is well worth the money to get an audio tour of history while seeing the sights, and beats wasting time traveling from place to place using the underground.

Sarah, our sis Helen, and Em seeing the sights (and being wind blown) on a tour bus Autumn 2010.

We may be slightly biased, but this is our favorite city in the world! We hope this post will make your London experience comfortable and easy, and help you fall in love with this fabulous city.

Spring Break

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Me + Em and the hubby’s are heading out on a road trip in the morning, to visit our in-laws in sunny cali (it’s weirdo that we both married California men). There’s sure to be lots of: music listening, food eating, game playing and giggle laughing fun ahead. I’m excited to feel spring, and relax a little or a lot.

Talking of trips, I stumbled across Love Lane Caravans the other day, they restore and rent out caravans in Cornwall England. Such a bliss idea, and look how cute they are:


I secretly really want to own a B+B, the idea of creating a clean + cozy getaway is very exciting to me.

But for now…

I’ll just be wishing you all a cozy weekend…

do sleep in!

Dublin on a Dime

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

While purchasing tickets for our trip home to England last October, we found that it would actually be cheaper to fly into Dublin for a night than flying directly to London.

We jumped on the opportunity as we had never been to Ireland together, and although very jet-lagged we had a fantastic couple of days exploring this historical and charming city.

A few tips to enjoy a great day in Dublin on a very tight budget:

No.1 Transportation: If you are planning to spend all of your time in Dublin city center there is no need to rent a car. Car rentals are sky high, the city has a confusing one-way system. Public transportation is readily available, and most things are in walking distance.

We traveled into the city from the airport via Air Coach. Right now you can purchase a round trip ticket from the airport to city center plus a day bus sightseeing tour (see below) for only 24 euros.

No. 2 Lodging: The most economical hotel I came across was the D4 Hotels, there are 3 hotels in this chain, all with different stars. Although we stayed at the most expensive one, I couldn’t see there was much difference between the 3, as they all share the same amenities.

They’re priced at around 50 euros a night, and their location is very convenient as it’s one of the stopping points for the Air Coach as well as some of the day tour buses. The walk into town was about 30 minutes, and the bus ride about 8 minutes at about 2 euros per person.

No.3 Sightseeing: We were so tired from the flights, that driving around on the open-roofed double-decker bus was a nice relief to walking, as well as the perfect way to keep us awake with the brisk Irish chill in the air. We got to see the whole city and the outskirts such as Phoenix Park that we otherwise would not have seen. The audio commentary is ideal to get a brief and broad insight to the history of the city.

As it is hop on and off, first we did the full tour and then the second time around we decided where we wanted to stop off. You’ll want to see Dublin Castle and Trinity College for sure, but keep in mind most places close between 4-5pm, including the buses so make sure to check times. For more about the sightseeing tour bus, look HERE.

No. 4 Food: On a tight schedule, it’s smart to travel with granola bars so you always have a little something if your hungry. They’re perfect with a hot drink in the morning so you can just get up and go.

For lunch we stopped by our favorite UK grocery store, Marks & Spencer on Grafton Street. It took us at least half an hour to weigh up all of our favorites. Perfect for lunch with little tables and chairs to sit down and take a bite; a sandwich, drink and chips is about 4 euros.

For dinner, it’s nice to taste some of the local food, we had some gluten-free fish and chips at the local ‘chippy’; don’t forget to check your brochures from tours and hotels, as they frequently have coupons; for example we got free cokes with our fish and chips, which saved us about 3 euros each.

Our favorite world-wide pit stops for the loo and a drink are of course Starbucks and McDonald’s, both reliable in those times of need!

No. 5 Shopping: Shopping around Grafton Street is the best, and has most high-street chains worth seeing, we love River Island and Top shop; as well as shops unique to Dublin like Kilkenny’s, this was our favorite for Irish products, plus they ship to the US for a flat rate of 20 euros. Holler!

For two days + one night in Dublin, we spent around 75 euro’s each, which was still cheaper than flying direct to London. Bottom line: spend money on a good tour and one good meal a day, other than that eat on the cheaps and see what’s free. Do you guys have any money saving tips you use on trips? We’d love to hear them.

HAPPY ST. PADDY’S DAY EVERYONE!

Happy Presidents Day!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

While studying at BYU somebody asked me what non-major class I enjoyed the most while earning my degree. My answer was surprising even to myself: American Heritage. Being a proud and very patriotic Brit, I wouldn’t have suspected that I’d love  American history so much, but the more I learned about the founding fathers (in particular, George Washington), and the miracle of how this country began, the more fascinated and engaged I became.

Painting by Arnold Friberg

Over the past couple of years Brock and I have been able to visit a couple of historical sites on the East Coast. Here I am at Independence Hall soaking up the history and loving it!

If you guys haven’t seen the HBO series John Adams yet, I highly recommend it. It’s very well done, and takes you on a fantastic journey of another great president.

I hope you guys had a great Presidents Day, and hopefully time off to enjoy it!