Los Cabos, Por Favor!

When winter rolls in, I usually start craving a warm weather vacation. So this past holiday season, much to the chagrin on my family back east, we booked cheap airfare (thanks, Southwest!) and headed south of the border. Los Cabos was a short two hour, direct plane ride away and with Chase Sapphire points burning a hole in my pocket, it was a no-brainer! It was actually my first time to Mexico, and I was pumped to explore a place I had heard many rave reviews about over the years.

As a newbie to the area, I learned that Los Cabos is actually comprised of two cities – Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. We chose to stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in San Jose del Cabo. I’ll admit that I never used to be into all-inclusives, but after this trip, I don’t think I can go back. With seven restaurants, poolside drinks and even room service included in the all-inclusive package, we never went hungry or became bored with the selections. Our suite was the perfect size for three people, the resort was huge with charming touches of Baja flair and we loved the amazingly helpful and friendly staff. 

Although I love being lazy all day at a resort just as much as the next vacationer, I wanted to get out and explore the town. San Jose del Cabo was just a short five minute taxi ride away from the hotel. It’s more laid back and less commercialized than party spot Cabo San Lucas and it had all the traditional Mexican charm I was looking for. Strolling its plaza and popping into shops is a great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon.

San Juan del Cabo San Juan del Cabo San Juan del Cabo San Juan del Cabo

Five days of sunshine, margaritas and lounging by the pool made this relaxing winter getaway everything that I was hoping for. Let’s just say that my Mexico trip was a success. Now I’m itching to check out more of the country! Next on my agenda? Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta possibly? What are your favorite Mexican towns and resorts?

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Tips for Making Life Easier When Traveling With Kids

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Any traveling parent knows, the task of bringing the kids along on a trip is never easy. From endless tears on crowded flights to temper tantrums in busy public settings, situations like these can be extremely exhausting and embarrassing for a parent travelling with their kids.

Luckily, jetting around the world with your children doesn’t always have to be a terrible headache. With some simple planning & preparation, taking the youngsters on your next world adventure can instead be an amazing, family-bonding experience. Make the family travel experience so much easier with these tips below:

Plan & Book Ahead

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Time is your friend when traveling with the kids. Wherever possible, planning and booking well ahead of time will pay off in the long run. Keep a well documented itinerary, and make copies of any important travel documents to help make your travels run a lot smoother. For some activities and entry to attractions, you are also able to pre-purchase tickets weeks, even months ahead of time. Booking holiday packages that include both flight + hotel accommodations will also make life a lot easier, as it reduces the amount time searching for these separately and can often save you a pretty penny. Some families may wish to stay flexible, but for most, having a well thought out plan is much needed and usually the safer route.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

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As a parent it’s likely you have a list of essential items you must have on you at all times, or at least within reach. What these items may be will largely depend on the age of your kids.

Mums & dads with babies and/or toddlers be sure to equip yourself with ample amounts of nappies, baby wipes, formula and whatever else it is that you need, as you won’t want to run out in the middle of an international flight. Other essentials regardless of age include things like sunscreen, first aid or any necessary medications. But remember, pack within reason. While it may be easy to overpack in fear of running out of these essentials, remember you can still purchase the odd item here and there whilst away. If you need a little extra help, look at this comprehensive checklist of family travel essentials and don’t miss a thing!

Get Yourself Covered

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Before even hopping on a plane, ensure you and every single one of your children are covered by comprehensive a travel insurance plan. While it is advised everyone, regardless of age, gender, travelling destination etc. should be covered under travel insurance, it’s especially important for you as a parent to protect you and your little ones in the event of emergency, injury, illness or loss. There would be nothing worse than having to foot most of a medical bill in an overseas country, if something bad happened. Travel insurance is really a no-brainer, so don’t ignore this critical piece of advice.

Keep Them Busy & Entertained

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This one’s probably an obvious one, but undoubtedly one of the best ways to make your life easier when travelling with the children in tow. Prevent the kids from getting bored (and hopefully any complaints or tantrums) by keeping them busy and entertained as much as possible. This is much easier to do during when taking them on outings and completing activities, but really important to achieve during those more quiet or duller moments, such as waiting around at the airport, sitting on a long flight or lining up in queues. Be sure to pack coloring books & pencils, their favorite toys, games or even an iPad (and don’t forget the chargers too). What you decide to bring to entertain your kids depends on your parenting style and what you know works best for kids. Tire them out and watch them go out like a light at the end of the day, then have a little time for yourself to relax.

Have Some Fun!

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As earlier identified, travelling with kids can be difficult and a lot of planning can be required to successfully off such a trip. However, one of the most important things is to remember to have some fun! Get your kids excited about travelling and get them involved in decisions such as where you’ll go and what you do. Give them a part or a say in your adventure and it’ll make the trip that little bit better.

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Italy…With Kids

“You want to take your baby to you to Italy?” This is something I heard a lot leading up to our Italian adventure. My reasons aside, I understand that traveling with kids is not always ideal. But you know what? It’s doable, and millions of people do it every year. Sure, Italy is romantic, but it can also be a great destination for families. Here’s what I learned after my first trip to Italy with a baby in tow.

Plan Accordingly

Your schedules will be different than they are at home. For example, like most of Europe, Italians eat dinner later than Americans are accustomed to. Factor in jet lag, and a tired toddler is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to schedule in nap times, and pack the necessities like snacks and a change of clothes during long days of sightseeing. Bring enough diapers and formula from home too. Supermarkets with large baby selections are hard to come by in the city centers, and you don’t want to be running around the city looking for specific items. Travel-friendly gear like fold-up, compact strollers come in handy when navigating through a museum or packed restaurant. Strollers that fully recline are also key, and we’ve even been able to enjoy a few quiet meals when little one fell asleep after a busy day. A couple brands that are popular with travel blogging parents include BABYZEN and the Pockit Lightweight model.

Find the Right Accommodations

A luxury hotel that’s meant for romantic getaways may not be the best bet for family travel. Read reviews and make sure that kids won’t be out of place at your chosen hotel. When traveling with our baby, I shy away from boutique properties and choose larger hotels with amenities like room service and a pool. another great option is an Airbnb rental. A kitchen and additional living space definitely comes in handy! Booking this Airbnb in Florence was probably the best decision we could have made!

Taking advantage of the rooftop pool at the Hilton Venice
Hilton Venice
Our suite at the Hilton Venice was spacious enough for a family
Florence airbnb
Our Airbnb in Florence

Take Advantage of Local Family-Friendly Activities

Sure, there are romantic restaurants, wine bars and beautiful piazzas a plenty. But there are also parks and museums, and those piazzas make for a great place to run off some energy. Research online to find the best activities. Florence Carousel

Enjoy the Food

Luckily the food that Italy is famous for is very kid-friendly. I don’t know many children that would pass on pizza and pasta! Eat authentically and you’re all on vacation, so indulge in that nightly gelato.

pasta!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Flexible and Enjoy Yourselves

I learned the hard way that taking a baby along on our Walks of Italy tour of the Vatican wasn’t the best idea. The three hour tour was way longer than a toddler’s attention span, but we improvised and one of us stepped aside so we didn’t disrupt the rest of the group. Stressful at times, but it worked out in the end. Tantrums happen, trains may be missed or a pacifier may get lost. Go with the flow and don’t sweat the small stuff. Italians have kids too, and overall Italy is a very family-friendly country. We were welcomed everywhere we went, everyone we came across was accommodating and there was even some cheek-pinching by friendly Italian grandmas. Don’t worry about what others think and focus on spending quality time together as a family. Years down the road it will be better to remember the fun memories rather than that time your toddler cried in a crowded restaurant. And don’t forget to take a lot of family photos!  traveling with kids

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Florence in Photos

From the architecture to shopping (hello leather goods!) to the small town feel, Florence was by far the city I loved the most during my summer tour of Italy. Although I only spent a short three days in the city, I came home with many, many photos. Here are some of my favorites. 

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How Your Family Can Get The Most Out Of Its All-Inclusive Vacation

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When you go on an all-inclusive family vacation, you could be missing out on some benefits. The all-inclusive” part doesn’t just mean food, drinks, and beach towels. Such resorts have much more to offer. Since you already paid, why not take advantage of the services to their fullest extent? Many families don’t even bother to read the list of offerings the all-inclusive resorts provide. As a result, they are overpaying for the vacation. The food and the pools are not worth the money you are paying for the all-inclusive resort. There is much more to take advantage of. All you have to do is a little research. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your vacation.

Choose the Right Resort

Before buying a package, you have to ask yourself what type of a vacation you want to have. Are you the kind who likes to hang by the pool all day sipping tasty cocktails? Then you can save money by booking a resort that doesn’t offer too many sports activities. If you love being entertained all day and all night, look for a resort that has a variety of shows planned. Does your family like sports and outdoor activities? Make sure to find a place large enough to offer tennis courts, a golf course, football fields, or whatever else.  Also take note that some resorts are geared toward families and some all-inclusives are adults-only. Just keep this in mind as you search. It should be fairly obvious in the marketing materials and websites. You and your partner don’t want to split the honeymoon suite with your kids. Just be careful. Many of these family resorts offer plenty of activities for young kids. Most resorts will list all inclusions and you can get a general vibe from the websites.  

Try New Food

No matter how many days you spend at the all-inclusive resort, be it 3 or 14, you’ll have enough time to try at least half of the munchies they offer. The variety of dishes is usually mind-boggling. There is absolutely no reason to stick with your old stand-bys. An all-inclusive resort is your opportunity to try new food, especially of the local variety. If you don’t take advantage of all the new dishes, you are not just missing out on a wonderful experience, you are overpaying for your vacation. 
Try not to overeat if you’re worried about gaining weight, but at least vary what you eat. 

Take Classes 

Many resorts offer a variety of classes you can take. The day you arrive, go to the front desk and ask for a class and activity schedule for the week. Remember, most likely, no one will be going around offering you these classes. The instructors don’t get paid for the number of students they teach so they don’t care how many actually come. You have to take the initiative and find out about the classes yourself.

Don’t Go To Sleep Early

Most all-inclusive resorts have some type of evening entertainment available for the vacationers. Usually, the evening shows are the most exciting. You can enjoy the fireworks shows, circus performances, belly dancers, and much more. Every evening, the resorts try to offer something new. So for the money you pay for the package, you get a new show every night. Take advantage of it.

Explore The Territory 

Resorts usually try their best to create a stunning landscape. Beautiful exotic trees and plants, pure white sand, sculptures, and other works of art create an amazing background for taking pictures. Explore the territory of the resort to find these beautiful places. Only a small percentage of the tourists actually see every corner of the large resort facility. Meanwhile, you can find wonderful places for photos, resting, and meditating.

Go Outside The Resort

Even though an all-inclusive vacation means that you have all you need in one place, venturing outside the resort can help you enjoy a brand new experience. 
If you are the kind who likes to take in the local flavor, consider this when choosing the resort. In most cases, such resorts are located in an area filled with similar retreats and reaching a local town requires a long ride. If you want to go outside, find a resort closest to the town.

Take Children For Free

Some all-inclusive resorts allow the children to stay for free as long as mom and dad are paying full price. If you have a large family, such a resort can be a real money saver. Find out about this option before booking the vacation. When you go with children, check out all the activities available for them. For example, many resorts have a children’s club where you can leave your kids under the supervision and enjoy a relaxing drink at the bar without worrying about your child. 

Ask For More

All-inclusive resorts try their best to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. That’s why in most cases, you can get some extra freebies just by asking. Do you want to feel like a real VIP? Ask the bartender to bring you a cocktail to the beach. Do you want a romantic bath with bubbles? Ask the staff to bring you some bath salt and accessories. Need to get the towels changed twice a day? Don’t hesitate to ask. Want a tastier beer or cola? Ask for a can or a bottle.  As long as you are polite, you can get many extras others don’t even think to ask about. 
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My 1st Airbnb Experience

I’m admittedly a little behind the curve on the whole Airbnb thing. As a travel blogger, I’m a little surprised myself that I’ve never rented via the popular site. What can I say? I tend to lean toward hotels (ideally luxury ones at that) for their services, safety and amenities. After rave reviews from my friends, who have used Airbnb rentals everywhere from Hawaii to Paris, I decided to give it a shot.

It was about 6 months ago that I started planning a trip to Italy. My husband and I would be doing the classic first timer’s Italy itinerary of Rome, Florence and Venice. The clincher? Our toddler was coming along for the ride. I know what you’re thinking. Who would want to bring their baby to such a romantic destination? Where we go, she goes, and I wasn’t about to skip a trip to Europe just because we have a baby! I knew that having a little one in tow meant naps, lots of dirty laundry and nightly bath time. The convenience of a private apartment with a kitchen and extra space was tempting, so to Airbnb’s website I went.

Since we had hotels in Rome and Venice locked in with points and hotel loyalty programs, we opted to rent a one bedroom apartment in Florence. While researching, I was really impressed with the search criteria options and being able to filter results for everything from family friendly facilities to amenities like internet and a pool.airbnb viewI was able to find a centrally located apartment from a super host, and it even included a crib. After reading the reviews, we decided to pull the trigger. Upon arriving in Florence, our hosts were gracious enough to meet us at the train station. The apartment was clean, spacious and perfect for our family of three. As every traveler knows, it’s nice to have a kitchen to eat a few meals in, and a laundry room to wash clothes. The location could not have been better – it was located on a quiet street within walking distance of restaurant, shops and Florence’s famous Doumo. The Mercato Centrale around the corner was super convenient and a go-to lunch spot. We were more than pleased with our choice of accommodations and I can gladly say my 1st Airbnb experience was wonderful!

If you’re ever in Florence, check out our new friend Alessio’s apartment. You won’t be disappointed!airbnb

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Hotel Review: Intercontinental New York Barclay

Intercontinental Barclay

I always love being back in New York, so when the opportunity came for a quick weekend trip to see old friends, I jumped at the chance.

Manhattan has so many amazing hotels.For this trip I was looking for a good central Manhattan location that could easily get me to my favorite neighborhoods. With Intercontinental points to burn in my account from my new IHG credit card, I quickly found the Intercontinental Barclay. There were quite a few Intercontinental properties in Manhattan, but I chose the Barclay because of its Midtown location. Located less than 5 blocks from Grand Central, it was a convenient home base to get around the city.

Grand Central
The hotel is withing walking distance to Grand Central

The hotel has an old New York vibe, with a grand lobby and gilded ceilings. As an IHG card holder, I gained Elite Spire status, which meant a room upgrade and complimentary wifi. My room was comfortable, updated and very large by Manhattan standards. I loved the black and white floors, which are classic New York. I even had them in my very first NYC apartment. The bathroom was spacious, clean and modern. Simple amenities like a Keurig machine and nice toiletries were a nice bonus and really make a difference in my book.

From check-in to check-out, the service was great, with helpful staff that even remembered my name. Overall the hotel was comfortable, clean and safe. Have I stayed at nicer Intercontinentals? Yes. (Hello Willard Intercontinental!) But this hotel is definitely nice, and a great Midtown option. For the location, interior and price, this hotel is definitely worth a visit. IHG Barclay bathroombathroomIHG barclayIntercontinental Barclay

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Why We Should Love our National Parks

Muir woodsDid you know that 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the US national Parks? There are 59 official parks across the country, which means that there is likely one that’s close to you! Whatever your activity of choice is – hiking, camping or just sightseeing – there’s a National Park for it. We’re so lucky to have these amazing, preserved pieces of nature at our fingertips to help inspire new adventures. If you’ve been itching to visit your closest park, the US National Park Service is offering complimentary admission to all parks on April 15. Mark your calendars!

As a new Coloradan, as we’re called, I recently visited Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive in early fall made for breathtaking views, especially of the Aspen trees, and we actually crossed the Continental Divide! The park’s nearest town, Estes Park, has quickly solidified itself as one of my favorite little towns in Colorado.

During a recent trip to San Francisco, I was also lucky enough to make it to Muir Woods. It’s less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of of the Bay Area, but feels a world away. Added bonus, it’s also not too far from wine country, if you want to make a day out of it. 

Did you know that one of our parks is a rainforest? El Yunque in Puerto Rico is the only rainforest on US soil, and it’s definitely unlike any other National Park you’ve seen. While in Puerto Rico for my wedding in 2012, a short drive from San Juan transported us to a rainforest complete with waterfalls, beautiful plant life and tropical birds. 

I’ve come to learn how necessary the right equipment is for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. I recently discovered Cotopaxi, and it’s become one of my go to outdoor brands not only because of their products, but because of their support of well being worldwide. They donate a portion of every sale to various charities that assist with global health initiatives, and these backpacks help provide the most aid. So great, right? They are supporting the 100th anniversary of our parks with the hashtag #ParkPride. Share your park photos!

Cotopaxi National ParksI would love to take a road trip to Yellowstone or explore the Everglades during my next trip to South Florida. What National Parks are your favorite, and which ones are you hoping to visit one day?

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2016: My Year in Travel

Like most travel bloggers, I am always looking forward to my next trip. The year ahead means an open calendar of new cities to see and more passport stamps to collect. The last few years I have been so lucky to be able to travel to beautiful, amazing places, and 2016 was no different. With the past year came an exciting cross country move, along with the adventure that is traveling with a baby. From South America to mountain towns in my new home state of Colorado, here are my 2016 highlights.

CHILE: I’ve been to Chile many times since I have family there, but this trip marked an important milestone – my daughter’s first international trip. Traveling with a baby is never easy, but thankfully the ride went off without a hitch! I also ventured to Pucon for the first time, a town in the southern Lake District that is an adventure lover’s dream destination. A visit to the Santa Rita winery in the popular Maipo Valley rounded out the trip. flying with a babypucon chile santa rita chile santa rita winery

SAN FRANCISCO: Believe it or not, I’d never been to San Francisco. When friends moved to the Bay Area, it was the perfect excuse to plan a trip! Although the fog ruined a chance at any clear photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, I still loved my first San Fran experience.  Muir woods

VAIL: Since transplanting to Colorado in early 2016, I was eager to explore my new state. I was spoiled to stay not once, but twice, at the town’s lux Four Seasons during the year. The mix of small town charm and alpine architecture has earned Vail the title of #1 mountain town in my book.
Vail Four Seasons

LAS VEGAS: I always love a quick trip to Vegas. This year’s visits were a little different…because our baby came too! We made the most of the pools, great restaurants and of course, gambling. I also stayed at one of my favorite Vegas properties, the Venetian, which is always a wonderful experience.   Venetian pool

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Baby on Board

Air travel is stressful. There are crowds to deal with at the airport, cramped quarters on the plane and rude passengers. Try adding a baby to the mix! But it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. We took my daughter on her first flight at 2 months old. I was on maternity leave and felt like a hermit…why not go to Florida to see family, right? Since then she’s flown on over 20 flights. (We’re really taking advantage of the “kids under 2 fly for free” rule)! Some have been as easy as pie and some have been nightmares, but I always make sure I’m prepared and take it in stride. Here is what I’ve learned so far. baby on board
CHOOSE YOUR SEAT WISELY 
One of the worst things in the world is being stuck in a middle seat with a lap child. I learned this the hard way. As bad as that was, I’ve also been lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me, which you better believe I took full advantage of! When my child was younger and unable to sit on her own, I always inquired if there were open seats on the flight. A few friendly employees have rearranged my seating assignment and allowed me to place a carrier in an empty seat. You would not believe how nice it is to not have to hold a baby for 3 hours straight! If your flight has slim pickings, it may be worth it to upgrade to a premium seat or business class for added space. When in doubt, head to the back of the plane, where there’s most likely to be open seats.

COME PREPARED My pre-baby packing checklist looked much different than it does today, and certainly did not include diapers and formula. Don’t leave home without an adequate supply of snacks, diapers and clothes. Now that my little one is a toddler, I have learned that the iPad is my best friend on a long flight, so I make sure it’s loaded with Sesame Street episodes. I also take the Baby Bjorn as a carrier option.

flying with a baby

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FAMILY BOARDING Most airlines allow passengers traveling with small children early boarding, usually after first class boards. This allows you to not only check your stroller at the gate without a line of anxious people breathing down your neck, but also the chance to get situated in your seat and unload your necessities with ease. Family boarding is especially important on Southwest, where being the last group to board almost guarantees a middle seat.

PREPARE FOR TAKEOFF Have you ever changed a baby in an airplane bathroom? Trust me, it’s not fun. My pre-boarding ritual includes a diaper change and a fresh bottle. Making sure your baby is changed and fed will hopefully prevent an emergency trip to the lavatory. And since changes in pressure can affect children’s ears, a bottle or pacifier can help ease the transition as you ascend.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP My husband and I often fly together, but I’ve also flown alone with child in tow. As you can guess, it’s MUCH easier to have that extra set of hands. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve asked TSA agents to assist with pushing my bag through the conveyor belt and opening my stroller. It’s worth asking for help if it makes getting through security a little easier.

EXPLORE AIRPORT FACILITIES Thankfully many airports are becoming more family friendly, with designated play areas and women’s lounges. A recent long layover in Dallas went smoothly thanks to their Junior Flyers play area. SFO and O’Hare have great playgrounds, the latter designed by the Children’s Museum of Chicago. Beyond the obvious amenities, we love the AA Admirals Club lounges for the play areas we’ve come across in the Miami and LAX locations. Check online to learn more about your airport’s facilities.

bbay DFW kids club

Flying alone with my little one has shown me that there are nice people out there. Without fail, people have offered help every time, whether it’s to carry my bag or grab something from the overhead bin for me.  A flight attendant once said she’d hold my baby if I needed to use the restroom. And during an uncharacteristically fussy period, a nice woman seated behind me told me to hand over my little one. She was a pediatrician and must have noticed that I needed a break! Yes, you may get a few eye rolls when you’re heading down the aisle, but I’ve never encountered a rude fellow flyer. Try not to worry to much, flying with kids isn’t as hard as it seems.

 

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My Favorite Travel Beauty Kits

Unlike my husband who travels light and is fine using the complimentary soap provided by the hotels, I have to have my luxuries when I’m staying away from home. It’s not always easy packing the necessities, and no one wants to lug around their full size shampoo and body wash. Thankfully a few of my favorite brands offer convenient travel sets for girls on the go. Here are the products I make sure to include in my luggage.Molton Brown

Molton Brown Jetsetter KitMolton Brown is an iconic English brand that has the most luxurious scents (I’m obsessed with Japanese Orange!). I take this toiletry kit with me when I want to feel pampered on the road. The glam pink bag doubles as a makeup bag too!

Malin + Goetz Essential Kit: One of my favorite Miami hotels, the Mondrian, stocks their bathrooms with this brand. The Essentials Kit full of 1 ounce necessities is usually in my bag during overnight flights for the face wash and moisturizers. Bonus points because they are paraben free and contain no dyes or perfumes.

Bliss Sinkside Six Pack: I first discovered Bliss after staying at a W hotel, and I’ve been in love ever since. This travel kit includes their best products – Lemon + Sage Body Butter, Soapy Suds, face wash, shampoo and conditioner. The best part is that they’re small enough to fit in a carry on bag for quick weekend getaways.

Coola Mineral Suncare Travel SetCoola Suncare is my must have for  beach vacations. I love that they offer organic and mineral based products, plus their travel sets are TSA friendly. I usually pick up their sunscreen at Sephora before taking off to a tropical destination.coola suncare

 

 

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My Beach Packing List

florida beach

Summer has arrived! Like a lot of Americans, my summer agenda usually includes a trip to Florida. So I headed south to the beaches of Florida to visit family, eat good seafood and, of course, relax on the beach. While a bathing suit and shades are staples, my packing list has definitely expanded now that there’s a baby in tow for my trips! Here’s what’s in my bag.

Sunglasses: Classic aviators like Oliver Peoples’ “Benedict” sunglasses are always in style, and polarized versions keep my light eyes safe in the sun.

Weekender Tote: My Fold-Over Weekender bag from Thirty-One Gifts is large enough to hold all my stuff, is super durable, plus comes in a cute pattern to boot!

Beach Towel: I found a stylish striped version from Serena & Lily that includes fun tassel accents. Perfect for long afternoons lounging on the sand!

Babyganics Outdoor Essentials Duo: One of my favorite baby brands, Babyganics, sells a mineral based sunscreen that’s safer for little ones. It protects against the strong Florida sun and comes in convenient travel sizes.

packing list

 

:GIVEAWAY:

One reader will have a chance to win their very own tote, courtesy of Thirty-One. It comes in 5 patterns and can even be personalized! Just comment below with what you always pack in your beach tote and you’re entered to win. Good luck!

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Alessandra Ambrosio’s Jetsetting Style

alessandra ambrosio

When the opportunity arose to meet Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio at a recent store event, I couldn’t pass up the chance. She was visiting Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio to launch Victoria’s Secret Sport’s new incredible front-close sport bra. (The bra is awesome, by the way. Ladies, go try it out!). Obviously I’m jealous that she’s so effortlessly stunning, but I’m also envious that part of her job involves traveling the world. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her globetrotting lifestyle, favorite destinations and travel essentials.

You just returned from vacation in Hawaii. What did you do there? Just relaxed and enjoyed the beaches and water. We all went surfing.

Where did you stay? The Four Seasons Maui. It was perfect!

What’s your favorite destination? Brazil, where I’m from. I get to see my friends and family.

What are your travel necessities? Headphones and my iPad. I fill it with movies. I also use the mineral water facial spray from Evian.

What’s your dream destination? Tibet.

Any essential plane reading material? I always bring a book and lots of magazines.

What’s your best travel tip? Make sure to sleep on the plane! It helps ease jet lag.

 

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What to Pack for a Summer Beach Vacation

beach necessitiesI’m heading to the beach in a few short weeks (South Carolina, to be exact), and like any good travel blogger, I’m already thinking about what I need to pack. I know I’ll be bringing along lots of sundresses, flat sandals and all the necessities needed for beach time. Check out my list of what I always make sure to include in my beach bag.

1. C.Wonder Rugby Stripe Tote: This straw bucket tote is sophisticated and functional.

2. Coach Bridget Sunglasses: Colorful sunglasses are a must for any beach vacation, and you can’t go wrong with pink frames!

3. Woven Fedora: Anyone will look beach chic in a summery fedora, and Modcloth offers lots of fun, stylish options.

4. Clinique Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: This light, non-greasy formula is one of my favorite sunscreens.

5. Dolce Vita Anica Sandals: Flat sandals are comfy and stylish, and I love the trendy details on Dolce Vita pairs.

6. Shiseido Stick Foundation: This product packs full coverage foundation and SPF37 into one little stick.

7. FRESH sugar lip balm: Sun protection, a hint of color and it smells good! It’s the perfect lip balm to protect your pout from the summer sun.

 

Confused about what to pack? There’s a great packing checklist on one of my favorite blogs, Glitter Guide.

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Taking in Some Tennis in Cincinnati

Years ago when I was a young PR girl in New York City, the agency I worked for at the time represented the US Tennis Association. I was lucky enough to attend the US Open, and really was impressed. Today, the US Open Series is a course of tournaments that determine which players advance to the US Open. One stop on the tournament is pretty close to home in Cincinnati, and it’s always a fun event. We decided to take a road trip to Cincinnati to visit some friends and take in some tennis at the Western & Southern Open.

US Open series Cincinnati Open

We arrived early in the morning and were able to quickly get in. We had pre-purchased our tickets, and they were pretty cheap – under $20 a person! A ticket gave you access to all the practice rounds and matches, so you could visit each venue and match as you pleased. My husband pulled up the schedule online, so we knew where and when certain players were playing. We were able to see big names like Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Martina Hingis. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest tennis fan, but it was cool to see the famous players up close and personal. I was excited when we got a front row seat to Serena Williams’ practice round, but sadly she was a no-show. We realized this after waiting about 30 minutes in the scorching heat for her to arrive. Oh well.

Cincinnati Open Maria Sharapova Cincinnati Open

When lunch time rolled around, I was impressed with the vast, more upscale options. There were outposts from Tony’s of Cincinnati, Taste of Belgium and the Montgomery Inn, plus local favorites like Graeter’s, Skyline and LaRosa’s pizza. I especially enjoyed the Svedka vodka lounge, and there was also a fancy Moet champagne bar.

moet lounge moet lounge

The event was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I definitely plan to attend again next year. Check out photos from the event that have been posted on social media channels here. The event goes on for a few more weeks. Learn more and snag your tickets on the Western & Southern Open’s website.

 

 

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