Our honeymoon to Jamaica was amazing! We started planning our honeymoon pretty early on, since we got engaged in December and only had about 6 months to plan everything for our wedding! We both wanted to go somewhere tropical where we could just relax and be at the beach, and we both loved the idea of an all-inclusive resort. We had never been on a trip together, and we wanted it to be fun, beautiful, and laid-back. We started looking into Sandals resorts, and we picked Sandals Montego Bay after looking at lots of reviews and talking to friends who had been there. We booked the resort and our flights, and then it seemed like something far off that would never come. After the wedding, it seemed so surreal to finally be married and to be boarding our first flight together – and as husband and wife!
We were both so pleased with the Sandals experience! Everything was so beautiful when we arrived, and they took care of everything for us, including a waiting room at the airport with drinks and sandwiches, a shuttle to our resort, and taking care of our luggage every step of the way. Our room wasn’t ready yet when we arrived, so we went out to the beach to sit and look at the views. We were so excited and felt so fancy to be at this big beautiful resort on such a beautiful island!
just arrived in the sandals open air lobby!
the view from our room and a bathtub on the balcony!
The water in Jamaica was so clear and beautiful, calm with very little waves. We went snorkeling one day and got to see so many beautiful fish and the reefs were amazing. We also saw TONS of jellyfish! They were tiny and almost clear with a hint of pink – that’s the only way you could see them. We got stung but it just felt like tiny electric shocks, nothing major. But the really great thing about Jamaica is that there are basically no sharks…my worst fear! I made sure to google about that before we booked. We spent our days having breakfast at the main buffet, lathering up in sunscreen, and then hitting the beach for a few hours! We mostly ate lunch at the beach bar and grill because we were right there, and then we would come in to the room in the afternoons to cool off, shower, and rest or nap. At night we would get ready and go to dinner somewhere on the resort – we had Italian, Asian stir-fry, and English pub food. There were several restaurants on the resort, but two required reservations and we only did that once. We loved Tokyo Jo’s, the Asian stir-fry restaurant – and it was right outside our hotel room so it was easy to get to! The English pub was close, too, just steps from our room. We went to the piano bar one night and also did karaoke! Mostly, we enjoyed the water and the sun and just spending time together with nothing to do. I read one book and a few trashy magazines, and we reapplied the sunscreen as often as we could. This skin was not made for the sun, but Andrew always gets a great tan. So unfair! 🙂
We were at the resort Tuesday to Tuesday, and Sunday was the one week anniversary of our wedding! So we booked a candlelight private dinner out on the Greek Gazebo location – our dinner actually did not go according to plan, because there was a mix-up and they had reserved our location for another couple, as well. So that was a little bit of a bummer, but we still had fun and got to enjoy the beautiful sunset out overlooking the water!
The last day we were there, we rented out a cabana over the water, and that was probably our favorite thing about the trip! We spent the day covered by the shade, catching such a good breeze, and they served us breakfast and lunch out there with a private butler for the day! His name was Cory and he was so great. He talked to us all about Jamaican culture and we just loved being able to relax in the shade all day for our last full day of vacation.
We loved our experience and would love to go back for an anniversary! I would love to go back every year, but you know…teacher salary! It was hard to come back to reality but we have so many amazing memories from our first trip together as husband and wife! The only tip I would give is to pack even lighter than you think you should. I’m not a super heavy packer, but honestly I could have done without several makeup items, and could have packed wayyyy less clothes! All you really need are sunglasses, bathing suits, cover ups, flip flops, and a few dresses or outfits for dinners! Thank you to Sandals for making our honeymoon so much fun!
FriYAY!!! The weekend is upon us. This weekend, I’m at the beach with some of my favorite people, celebrating my best friend Whitney for her bachelorette weekend! She’ll be getting married in about a MONTH – I can’t believe it and I can’t wait to stand up there next to her while she marries the love of her life! Her bridal shower was in February, which was a ton of fun, so I know this weekend will be grand. I’ve really been looking forward to it!
I’m soready for spring and Whitney’s wedding has kind of been that stepping stone for me – like, by the time she gets married, spring will be HERE. And then before you know it, the 100 degree, 100% humidity days will start rolling in just in time for mine and Andrew’s wedding in July! I especially love the warmer weather for when I go watch Andrew’s baseball games after school. At the beginning of the season, it’s frigid by the end of the game, but by the end of the season, I’m getting sunburned and sweating. Either way, I still love it!
Speaking of Spring, all the florals are out in stores in full fledged glory. I’m loving this dress – and you can’t beat a price like that for a nice dress from Loft!
I’m starting to think about the honeymoon in July, and I realized I don’t have a matching set of luggage. When I graduated high school, I got a nice set – but that was 13 years ago! That makes me feel old. I’m l-o-v-i-n-g this set and daydreaming of my new monogram – but this one is probably a more affordable and realistic option!
That’s about all that’s going on with me! Celebrating huge life events like my best friend getting married, preparing for mine and Andrew’s wedding, my best friend Kelly having a baby in May…and our high school’s spring break and Andrew’s birthday are in just a couple of weeks! I’m so looking forward to that week off so I can take care of things I really need to do – like deep clean, de-clutter and donate things I am no longer using, and do my taxes (fingers crossed!).
I’ll be sharing photos and insta stories of Whitney’s bachelorette weekend for the next couple of days, so follow along on Instagram! Enjoy the weekend!
I have been wanting to get this post up for a couple of weeks now, but I needed the time to give it justice. I just saw my mom this past weekend, and we were still talking about how great our trip was. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to some amazing places in my life, but Arizona has easily made its way to my top five! The weather was amazing and the scenery was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Mom and I stayed in wonderful places, met some cool people, ate great food, hiked a ton, and got to relax and pamper ourselves, too. It was the perfect mix and I still can’t believe I got to see the Grand Canyon!
I spent a ton of time researching what to do, where to hike, where to eat, etc. in Arizona and how to make the most out of just a few days there since I’d be missing school (and because $$$). It’s tricky to get to Sedona because you have to fly in through Phoenix and rent a car – it’s about a 2 hour drive. So over the summer, I had planned everything out and we got it all booked. Here’s a breakdown of our amazing trip! Get ready to tuck in for a long post and lots of pictures!
After school, I met mom at my apartment and we headed to the airport. We were able to get a non-stop flight (it’s about 4.5 hours). We landed in Phoenix and got our rental car; we were both starving and I had been dreaming of an In-N-Out burger for weeks, so that was our first stop and Mom’s first experience with In-N-Out! I don’t know if we were that hungry or if it’s just because it’s that good, but I felt like it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten (of course we got everything animal style with 1,000 island dressing, grilled onions, and melted cheese!). If you ever make it to the west coast, you HAVE to make this a priority.
We drove for what seemed like 18 hours (really about two and a half) and finally made it to our perfect little Airbnb, which was a guest house with a rooftop terrace overlooking Thunder Mountain! It was the perfect location and our host had thought of every little detail. We were so tired from traveling so we just went straight to bed!
On our second day, we woke up early so we could have coffee on the terrace and watch the sun come up over Thunder Mountain. It was so beautiful! Afterwards, we got ready and headed out to our Pink Jeep tour! We chose the Red Rock Tour and had such an amazing tour guide. We got to stop off at a few places for pictures, and the tour lasted about two hours.
After our jeep tour, we spent a few hours hanging around in town in Sedona. We had lunch at Wildflower Bread Company, which has a patio with a great view of Snoopy Rock! We walked up and down Main Street and went into some shops to look for souvenirs.
Afterwards, we walked back to our car and drove to Cathedral rock. It was a really great hike and makes its way all the way down to Oak Creek if you take a side trail. We didn’t make it all the way down because it was getting late in the day and we had other items on our agenda! We drove to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was such an amazing and beautiful sight.
Finally, we rounded out our day by doing a quick hike of Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset. It was incredible to see all the rocks turning more and more red in the orange/red sunlight!
We showered and got ready for dinner! We ate at Elote, a place I had read rave reviews about. We had a delicious and fresh margarita on the patio while we waited, and they handed out little bowls of popcorn for people to munch on while they waited for a table! The food and atmosphere were both great.
We made it back home late, but took a few minutes to sit on the terrace and look at all the stars before bedtime! There is very little light pollution in Sedona, so the stars were incredible, even with a full moon!
We woke up on our third day in Arizona and checked out of our Airbnb. We were so sad to have to check out because it was a perfect place to stay, but it was already booked for the following night! We ate breakfast at The Coffee Pot, a local favorite and a cool little diner with a gift shop attached (there is a rock formation called Coffee Pot behind the restaurant).
coffee at the coffee pot – see what i did there?!
We had a big day ahead of us with a lot of driving to do! At first, we had decided just to head to the Grand Canyon, but our Pink Jeep tour guide convinced us to drive to Page, AZ to see Horseshoe bend and Antelope Canyon. I am so glad we took his advice! It was a long day – four hours driving there and four hours back – but so worth it. We got to Page and stopped at Horseshoe Bend first. It’s where the Colorado River makes a horseshoe-shaped turn (hence the name!). Pictures of it are amazing, but I can’t explain how incredible and massive it was in real life. The colors are unreal. This was one of my favorite things about the entire trip.
We drove to Antelope Canyon which is supposed to be incredible, but there was such a wait to see it and we still needed to hit the Grand Canyon, so we had to pass on that. But we were so excited from Horseshoe Bend that it was okay! We had a little picnic in the car and headed back to stop along the way and see the Grand Canyon.
fancy whole foods rental car picnic
We had originally planned to do the South Rim entrance of the Canyon and do a couple of small trails I read about, but with our detour to Page, AZ we came in on the east entrance at Desert View. There weren’t any hiking trails, which was a little disappointing to me, but we did do a 25 mile scenic drive with overlooks along the way, and we got to see the Canyon as the sun was setting and with the huge orange harvest moon. Pictures do nothing to truly capture this; it was such an incredible sight! I can’t explain the feeling of being so small in such a vast world. It sounds nerdy, but it was just a really crazy feeling and experience.
After our big day to Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon, we drove back to Sedona and checked in to our second hotel, Amara resort! They had left some champagne and treats for my 30th birthday, which was a thoughtful touch! The hotel is gorgeous and tucked away off of the main street in downtown Sedona.
This was our big spa day to pamper ourselves after all of our adventuring and hiking. Our poor feet definitely needed it! We had breakfast in the room from room service (Amara’s restaurant is SaltRock and it was all so delicious). Then, we walked to the spa to check in for our appointments! We both had relaxation massages and facials, which was so divine. The entire spa was so cute, relaxing, and the staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. We had hot tea and a sparkling pomegranate juice toast afterwards and hung out in the relaxation room for a while.
We spent the rest of our day by the infinity pool overlooking Snoopy rock formation, sipping margaritas (and water!!!), having lunch from the hotel, and reading/floating/lounging. It was the life! Then we went back to our hotel room, showered and got ready, and went down for the manager’s wine hour (Kimpton hotels do a complimentary wine hour every day from 5-6pm). We sat out on the hotel patio/lawn under the market lights and just chatted and enjoyed ourselves! We ended the night with a long, late dinner on the patio at the SaltRock kitchen restaurant with absolutely delectable food.
hotel pictures + pool overlooking snoopy rock formation
Our last day in Sedona! I will forever miss this quiet little town. We woke up and had breakfast at the resort right next to ours. Their restaurant is called Cress at Oak Creek, and we sat at a table right by the water. It was honestly one of my favorite experiences of the trip! So beautiful, and different scenery than the red rocks and desert we had been seeing the entire trip. We had the best time at our breakfast, and the food was amazing, of course.
We checked out of our hotel and headed out for a last hike before driving back to Phoenix for the night. We hiked Baldwin trail to Templeton trail to Oak Creek! This is the creek we hadn’t made it to the day we did our Cathedral rock hike, so we were really glad to be able to feel like we completed that! It was a beautiful hike, perfect weather, and the creek was so peaceful. After our last hike, we ate at Open Range Grill and Tavern for a late lunch in downtown Sedona. We had a cactus cheese dip which was so delicious, and we each got a prickly pear margarita! The prickly pear cactus is everywhere in Sedona so we felt like we had to! They were just okay, haha – a little sweet for our liking.
After lunch, we drove back to Phoenix where we had to fly out from. We stayed at the Hotel Palomar (another Kimpton Hotel). They had another celebration package for me on our arrival – more champagne and a delicious peanut butter chocolate mousse cake! We packed up to be ready to leave the next day, ordered room service for dinner, showered, did face masks, and relaxed because we were so beat from our trip!
Sunday was basically just a travel day. We woke up, had coffee and breakfast, and drove to the airport to return our rental car and fly home! We had another non-stop flight, but this time we lost 3 hours going back home, so it was late by the time we got in and we had dinner with Andrew and then pretty much fell right to sleep! My only regret from the trip is that I didn’t follow my friend’s advice; she lived in AZ for a while and told me to hug a cactus for her – but that wouldn’t be safe, so I had to make a smart personal decision ?
flight home! (sorry guy)
Those are the most basic basics of our trip! I would love to make my way back to Arizona again, because there’s just so much to do there that 5 days barely even scratches the surface. But my mom and I packed in as much as we possibly could, and we had such a blast together. It was one of those “life” moments that I’ve mentioned before where you just really feel alive and appreciate everything so much. I’m incredibly lucky that she gifted me with this trip for my 30th and couldn’t have asked for anything more!
I am back from Arizona! The trip was absolutely amazing, and I’ll write up a post about it soon – I have to sort through my hundreds (and hundreds) of pictures first! I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. We landed late Sunday night, and I had to wake up at 5am to teach! So I’ve also had to do laundry, unpack, get back in the swing of things with school, and try to catch up from the three hour time difference!
I have a super busy week ahead of me, like always! There is a lot of stuff going on at school this week, meetings after school, work on Wednesday at the pub, and I’m trying to get back on track with cooking meals and packing lunches since I was mostly gone last week and eating only salads indulging with my mom!
Fall is (pretty much, almost, basically) here! I am in the mood for a nice deep berry color like this for my next manicure, or if I’m feeling froggy, a nice dark blue (colors are “raisin’ the bar” and “less is norse – dark ice blue.” Is anyone else obsessed with color names like me? Someone has that job!) I love this lip paint in “Fomo” or “Manbun” for fall, and I can’t wait to start shopping for some tall boots to wear with leggings and cozy sweaters! Call me basic if you will, but it’s time for those cozy fall favorites. Some year-round favorites I’m hoping to re-stock soon include my Philosophy Amazing Grace lotion, my Benefit Hoola Bronzer, and my splurge mascara (I missed it when it was on sale for $10 and I am kicking myself!). I also do not need another bag – I repeat – I do not need another bag – but if I did, I’d get this one in gray! I mean, it’s not even really a bag, right? It’s a clutch…totally different?!
I hope everyone has a great week & makes it through to Friday the 13th without any spooky and strange happenings! 😉 Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. It always feels like it comes faster each year!
I am so glad it’s the weekend because that means I am THAT much closer to my trip to Arizona next week with my mom!
This week was happy but went by quickly, especially since I missed work on Monday for my 30th! My week at school was full of paperwork and to-do items that really had to be accomplished, so it felt good to knock some of those out and get them checked off of my constant, ongoing to-do list!
I am so obsessed lately with everything this color.
I scooped up this little number yesterday afternoon and it looked so good on. I always try things on with an attitude of, “It probably won’t fit right, but it doesn’t hurt to try!” But this dress looked so flattering. I love the colors and the gold button detailing on the back. The length is great for work or play, too! And I love anything that covers my arms, because that’s one of the areas I’m least comfortable with on myself. I’m dreaming of wearing it in the fall with booties or heels, in the classroom or out to dinners or weekend events!
For my trip to AZ, I picked up some travel items. I love to buy travel-sized items for trips. Of course the miniature sized items are cute, but I think what I really enjoy is the idea of feeling like I’m jetting off somewhere that I need a few smaller items to save space in my luggage! And I also think I like the fact that I can try new things without committing to an expensive item. For this trip, I got travel sizes of this shampoo and conditioner, this cleansing water that I’m really excited to try, and this body wash. I also picked up some travel size face cleansing wipes for my mom and me to use. I’ll take my all-time favorite face wash in its sample size container. I know I’m not looking for anything new in that department! Temperatures are going to be over 100 degrees while we’re there, and we’re doing a lot of hiking, so I am just going to pack light: Workout clothes (including my favorite leggings ever), a couple of fun outfits for dinners out, and a few athleisure outfits for beboppin’ around town with my mom. I got this backpack for hiking. It rolls up into itself and will hold water, snacks, and sunscreen.
Have a happy FriYAY! Andrew and I are off to another date night tonight. We’re so hip.
I looked through some old blog posts recently (it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this thing seriously for two years now!), and what I notice the most when I’m gettin’ in my feels on a blog post is this theme of balance. Taking time for yourself. Saying NO to things so you can say YES to what you really need. I’ve said it a million times: I overextend myself. I have a tendency to do too much. I need to slow down. I need to take care of myself. It’s there, in a hundred different phrases with a hundred different deliveries (all eloquent and witty, of course, I’m sure).
So this week at the beach with my family is a reminder to myself that this is exactly what I didn’t know I needed. Walking for miles on the beach, collecting sea shell after sea shell, running the dogs until we all can’t breathe and we’re panting and happy. I’m having some adult beverages and a lot of water, going to bed early to get up and meet the sun, and trying to stretch my brain playing Scattergories at night – and giggling when we come up with crazy words and fight for justification.
I know there are beach people and mountain people and indoor people and all kinds of other people, but the beach has always been my happy place. Every year as a kid, my family took a trip to the beach and as an adult, the beach just brings me back to that feeling. The feeling of having nothing you have to do, and being able to enjoy whatever you want with toes in the sand and wind in your hair. As an adult, I have to work a lot harder to be able to not have to do anything for a week…but it’s so worth it once you’re actually sitting in a chair, book in hand, waves rolling out in front of you.
360 degrees of beach watching
living their best life, running from waves
We don’t realize how much the stresses of day-to-day life get to us. We walk around tense and tight, with knots in our necks and shoulders because we try to push everything down so we can make it to the next thing. We do need to slow down and take care of ourselves, and even if it isn’t for a week at the beach or any type of vacation at all, we have to intentionally set time aside to breathe and just be. It’s just what we didn’t know we really, really needed.
Now I’m going to finish this post so I can go enjoy the ocean and challenge the sun with SPF 70 applications every two hours. I’ll keep you posted on the winner.
This week flew by. I was off Monday and Tuesday, and on Monday I worked for hours agonizing over my budget and how I can save and plan better next school year so I won’t need to have a summer job. Reality check. I also made a goal to really focus on being active this week, and I stuck to it! Small victories.
I mentioned my Fourth of July plans earlier this week, but it was such a great time! The food came out perfectly and it was so nice to just relax and kick back a little bit. We didn’t end up going to the baseball game, but it was nice just to stay home and be near the dogs and take it easy!
filet mignon, honey lime ginger grilled scallops (adapted from here), garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, and grilled balsamic brussel sprouts (andrew had brats and burgers like a true american)
I got my hair done last Saturday and I am loving it! It’s always nice to get a little refresher from Jamie at the Parlor. (I’ve been going to her for like 10 years, no joke).
My family is going on a beach vacation in August, which I am so excited about! I am looking at these and these. Also loving this coverup and this coverup that could also double as a cute summer dress!
Finally, I mentioned my best friend’s wedding in this post, and a couple of weeks ago we ordered our bridesmaid skirts and tops for the big day! I absolutely can’t wait to see how everything comes together. When I put on my outfit and imagined everything on the big day, it suddenly became really real to me that this is happening! I’ll be crying like a baby when Whitney walks down the aisle (what else is new?).
Back to life, back to reality…it feels like it has been a million years since I left for Aruba, and now I only have a few sweet days before Teacher Work Days start back up. I was so glad to get back to my doggies, friends, cozy bed, and my boo thang, but if I could have all of those things in Aruba…I’d move yesterday.
I’ll try to keep this short and sweet and let the pictures do most of the talking. I had the most amazing time; pictures and words can’t do it justice, anyway.
Sunday – All of our flights went off without a hitch on the way there and on the way back. We had some long-ish layovers, but that’s no biggie. When we arrived on the island (!!!), we went to the hotel and met Aunt Sherilyn and got our room squared away, and then immediately went out to the beach! The view from our room was awesome, and we went to a nearby beach bar called Carlitos for happy hour drinks (mojito for me!). My sister and I both had a delicious grilled grouper salad. We went back to Carlitos a couple of times on the trip because our server was so sweet and the atmosphere was perfect! After more beach time and getting ready, we had a late dinner at the Sea Breeze with our group (my Aunt Sherilyn, her best friend Cay, a family friend Cindy, and Mom, Emily, and me!). It was so nice that first night eating outside and having the waves and the wind all around us.
Monday – We had a group sight seeing tour of the island! That was so amazing. We rode around, stopping at a few different places – the Aruba Aloe factory, which was awesome, a huge rock formation, a chapel with a beautiful view, the Aruba Natural Bridge, and a lighthouse. We had fresh, fresh smoothies (most of us got coconut, and don’t judge me, but I can’t stand coconut so I got mango). And I got to hold a bird!!! I love all animals, so I was really pleased. When we got back to the hotel, we walked to grab a quick lunch at Dushi Bagels and Burgers. Dushi means sweetheart in Aruba’s native language, Papiamento. That afternoon, Mom, Cindy, Emily, and I rented jet skis which was SO FUN, and then we hit the beach for a while. At night, we got dolled up for a late dinner with everyone at The Pelican Nest (with birthday festivities for Aunt Sherilyn’s 70th!). The Pelican Pier is where a lot of tourist events leave from on boats, and on the back of the pier is the restaurant, The Pelican Nest, and we had the best server named Carlos. We just loved him!
Tuesday – After working out, Mom, Em, and I met up with everyone at Starbucks and walked on the beach with our coffees, did a little bit of shopping in town, and had lunch at The Old Fisherman. Most of our meals were seafood, of course! But everything I ate all week was delectable. When we got back from shopping, we (you’ll never guess it) went to the beach. Tuesday night we had a big party bus pub crawl through Kukoo Kunuku party bus! That was one of the favorite things we did. Everyone was so nice, the music was great, and my 70 year old aunt was cutting loose with the rest of them, dancing and having such a wonderful time! (Good clean fun, people.)
Wednesday – This was a really relaxing day. We had a beach day, and then my aunt and I had a massage + facial and it was the most soothing time ever. I felt like a new woman when I came out of that spa! And I looked like I was about 12. That night, we went on a sunset cruise, which included a late dinner at The Pelican Nest again (with our server, Carlos!). The sunsets and sunrises were absolutely breathtaking. I would take a picture and immediately be upset that it didn’t show how beautiful the island really is.
Thursday – I saw a pelican on my beach jog with Emily! He was super cool and probably less impressed with us. We found a little beach hut that had breakfast sandwiches and a bloody mary bar called Scott’s Brats. We grabbed Mom, got breakfast, and went across the street to some market shops and found a cute little jewelry store. We had to say goodbye to Aunt Sherilyn and Cay, so we did a birthday champagne toast before seeing them off! Mom, Emily, and I finished out our trip by taking a snorkeling cruise, which was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I’m terrified of the ocean, but I did it! We all went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Iguana Joe’s, and then had to pack up to leave the next day 🙁
Friday – This was our last beach day, and the only day my sister and I didn’t get up and work out, even though we had high hopes for a morning swim. I’m glad we didn’t make it, because later we found out there had been a lot of sharks feeding that morning! Yikes!!! Sharks are literally one of my biggest fears. We walked to get a breakfast sandwich, lathered in the absolute last drops of our sunscreen, and had a little bit of beach time. Finally, we hopped down the street for a pistachio ice cream and checked out. Our flights back were seamless, and we went through both Aruba & US Customs when we left Aruba, so when we landed in the US, we were good to get our bags and head home! We were all so exhausted at that point, but we just kept talking about what a fabulous trip it was. The locals were so kind, the weather was perfect, and the food was amazing.
Mostly, I think I loved just having some quiet moments to sit, feel the breeze, be in my head, relax, and recharge. We all need that from time to time, whether it’s on a mesmerizing Caribbean island, at the beach, a lake, or even just sitting on your own patio. We need time to be thoughtful, thankful, and peaceful. Believe me, I know how incredibly blessed I am for being gifted this trip. Sometimes we need to take some time out from the real world to be able to come back swinging. And here I am, rested up and rejuvenated just in time to kick off a new school year!
This time last year, I was taking a break from teaching (actually, I thought I’d never be back in the classroom) and I worked in a corporate training job that allowed me to travel quite a bit. Since I traveled so often, I got pretty good at packing light and being resourceful with my travel items.
My sweet, funny, and world-traveling aunt is taking me on a trip this weekend to ARUBA!!! I can’t believe it! My mom and sister are also going, and we will celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday in style – she has planned everything to a T and I feel incredibly blessed to get to go on this trip that I would otherwise not be making until maybe my honeymoon or…never (did I mention I am a teacher in North Carolina? Not exactly money bags over here). I wish more of my family could go because we always have the best time together, but we can’t have everything we want. Aruba is a tiny island right above Venezuela, and my sister and I will attend a wedding in Asheville before flying with our mom to meet our aunt in the Caribbean!
Here are my best travel tips, honed from years of over-packing:
1. Make a list. MAKE. A. LIST. Traveling is no time to wing it and if you’re a Type A, detail-loving, listing champion like I am, this is a no-brainer anyway. But if you’re not, trust me. Make a list. Cross it off as you pack things and add to it as you think of new things. You can make the list on your phone, too (I’m not even ashamed to say I made one on my phone first, and then transferred it to paper because there’s nothing like physically marking something off a list).
2. Check the weather where you will be. It is always smart to pack an extra sweater/jacket or travel-sized umbrella, because you just never know.
3. Pack extra underwear, but not extra clothes. You can roll up your clothes to save space, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring your whole closet. Stick to things you know you always feel comfortable and good-looking in. Don’t branch out on that ‘if I am feeling thin that day’ dress. Pack the one you know you can let it all hang out in. There’s nothing worse than packing something and then not wanting to wear it when you get to where you’re going.
4. If you have hanging clothes or silky/wrinkle prone clothes but have to pack them up, roll them and lay them lightly on top of your suitcase. Pack a wrinkle release spray for when you take them out and hang them up…which should be pretty much immediately when you get to where you are going. Most hotels have an iron, but I kind of refuse to iron and this is how I do it.
5. Make sure you have the most essential items you need, but understand that it is 2016, and anything you forget can probably either be provided by your hotel, bought easily, or go without being missed too much. You need underwear, you need some clothes, some bathroom items, and probably a phone charger…but everything else is just fluff. We are not our things. We do not need to pack our entire lives for a week long vacation. (See number 1)
Here are some of the essentials I always take with me on trips:
This Mary Kay travel roll-up bag was given to me as a gift a couple of Christmases ago, and I love this thing so much. It has four zipper pouches with velcro on the back. They’re clear plastic, so you can easily find your items, pull out a pouch if you need it, and clean them out without any hassle. In my four pouches I keep the following ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ITEMS:
Pouch 1: all of my makeup. I keep it pretty simple…I generally use the same face and eye makeup every day, so I pack that, then add a few lipsticks and maybe an extra eyeshadow palette – that way I’m covered no matter what comes up.
Pouch 2: all of my shower items. I use containers that I get at Target and fill them up with my everyday shower items and body lotion. I used to have fun buying little travel shampoos and body washes, but my skin and hair like what they like. I have found that it’s best for me to stick to what I know – plus, it’s a little bit of home every time I shower on vacation.
Pouch 3: other bathroom toiletries. A travel q-tips case, hair ties, bobby pins, a couple of duck bill clips for styling my hair, toner, moisturizer, cotton pads, eye drops, tooth brush, travel-sized tooth paste, travel-sized deodorant, makeup remover wipes, and a disposable razor or two.
Pouch 4: random but often needed travel items. Tums, ibuprofen, wrinkle release spray, small lint roller, clorox wipes, and a small first aid kit and nail kit. You never know when you’ll get a headache or tummy ache on a trip. I also keep band-aids, neosporin, and a small manicure kit in case of blisters, cuts, broken nails, etc.
I tie a small travel-sized loofah to the handle on top of the bag. When you roll it up, it’s a nice little carrying case and fits nicely in a corner of your suitcase or carried separately if you don’t have size limitations.
Miscellaneous travel info: I always pack one pair of casual shoes that I can wear every day if needed, one pair of nicer shoes for a nice meal out or an event I might be attending, and a pair of tennies. I always try to keep up with some sort of exercise while I’m traveling so I don’t fall off the deep end, especially since vacation, in my book, is no time for strict dieting. Flip flops are a must if a beach or pool may be involved.
I always start off with the items I know I’ll always forget if I don’t write them down, like my phone charger, fitbit charger if it’s a longer trip, laptop charger, any medications, and a notebook. I love to write, and I always like to keep a notebook handy in case I feel inspired or need to make a list about something. I like to keep travel journals, too – so I plan on doing that for this Aruba trip!
Finally, instead of buying a million new things for your trip, try borrowing some of your clothes/shoes/accessories from a friend! It is new to you, you haven’t had any pictures in it, and you can get it for FREE.99. Win-win! I am borrowing a bathing suit cover up and this fun, bright yellow clutch from my BFF Whitney (corgi not included).
And here are the two extras that I have purchased specifically for this Aruba trip, because I know my skin, I know that I will be near the equator, and I know that I need extra help (fair-skinned people, can I get an AMEN?!).
Neutrogena beach defense SPF 70 sunscreen. This goes on smooth, smells great, and offers more protection than my usual 30 I have used in past summers. After many careful but failed attempts, I just can’t trust the spray-on sunscreens.
A plain black Rash guard for wearing a few hours a day to cover areas most prone to burning, or in the tragic event that I actually do get a sunburn and have to stay covered up. This one will match any of my bathing suits.
That’s it! I could go on and on (and sort of have), but I am so excited about my trip and it feels good to have an organized system to tackle a week long trip in another country, even if it will mostly be laying in the sun 🙂 Please send good vibes for my blindingly white skin.
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