Next Stop: Sri Lanka (My Itinerary)

When I decided I wanted to go to Sri Lanka most of the questions I got were WHY and WHERE IS THAT? After seeing photos on Instagram and then doing some research I knew this would be the destination I would close the year out with. Sri Lanka has so much to offer for a country it's size and perhaps the time to go is now before it becomes a top destination which often means prices go up and it becomes over crowded think Thailand, Bali.....

Photo: Gorka Nelson

From the culture in Sri Lanka, UNESCO sights, to the beaches, the wild life, epic train rides and temple visiting there is so much to do and I knew that the week I am planning on being there will be a whirlwind of activity. I can't wait.

Below is a breakdown of cost and our itinerary.


One of the Most Underrated Getaway Destinations

Recently we had the opportunity to go to Palm Beach, Florida and I must say that this is one of the most under-rated vacation destinations I have been to so far. You can fly direct from Boston to one of the most laid back airports ever. It's a small airport and it's literally a five to ten minute cab ride to downtown.

Palm Beach

I loved how laid back Palm Beach is. The downtown area felt deserted because there were no crowds. We asked a few locals if this was normal and they said yes. The houses we saw - excuse me, mansions we saw were gorgeous. I rode my bike past beautiful villas that I would give an arm to live in, maybe a leg too if they sweeten the deal (I kid but seriously...). I even peeped into Maralago and I get the hype, it's beautiful.



DIY Shift Dress

This weekend I decided to take on another diy project because they are so fun. Reworking clothes you already own is fun and it saves you money too! I am honestly surprised at how this dress ended up but I love it. It’s also exciting because this is definitely a dress I will be wearing often especially on a beach somewhere.


I set out to make a shift dress using a dress/mumu that I bought a few years ago and have never worn. I used a dress I already own as a pattern for the dress. I am not comfortable with measuring and all that stuff yet but I know inevitably I will have to learn how to measure and cut, cue youtube.

7 Tips on "How" to Have a Great Vacation?

Below are the 7 'hows' to having a great vacation. They are simple and easy to implement tips that will be useful the next time you go away. I dare you to try them and tell me that you won't have the time of your life. Just let go and be on 'island' time wherever you are. For you type As this will be hard but it will guarantee a great time.


How do you stay fit when you are on vacation?
I know what you are thinking, urgh really, working out??? But the answer is simple. Just don't. You are on vacation!!! You should be doing things that are out of the ordinary. Out of your normal routine! Unless you seriously love working out - which I don’t, lean back, sip your beverage of choice and watch those bikini wearing 'look-like models' girls prancing away. Make a mental note to do extra squats when you get back (haha) and then quickly order another sweet tasting, calorie loaded beverage.

First Ever DIY - Pencil Skirt on the Blog

This weekend the sawing machine I ordered from Walmart arrived. I have been thinking of using some fabric I have had in my closet for ages but haven't gotten round to it. For one getting a tailor is expensive and two plain laziness.

I hadn't told anyone about my idea of starting diy sawing as a hobby so when my family saw the machine they all looked at me like I had lost my mind. I do a lot of things myself these days from braiding my hair, crotchet, treatments, juicing, you name it if I can do it then it's something I will definitely try out, cue the sawing machine.

With Pintrest, Youtube and all the diy websites out there you can do practically anything yourself. The machine itself was very straight forward to set up. I just had to read the manual veeeery carefully.

BEFORE/AFTER

Five Tips to Travel to Luxurious Destinations on a Budget

Do you often wonder how people afford to travel to luxurious and exotic destinations all over the world? Are you a hard working person who doesn't have money to splurge on expensive flights and resorts but would like to visit anyway? I have a few tips that can help you. Make sure you read all the way down, sometimes we save the best for last : ).

Five tips that can get you to exclusive destinations on a budget:

Do your research. 


I know this is not glamorous nor is it something anyone wants to do but if you want to travel to nice resorts then you have to do some work. Go on Trip Advisor and look up the best resorts at your desired destination. Read blogs that have reviews of these places and what they liked best, often times they are true. Look at the amenities that you would like to experience.  Keep this list in mind and go to my second tip.

Morocco Tour

Explore Morocco in this one week itinerary with shirus_story. 
This is a comprehensive and fully packed itinerary featuring the highlights of the country. 
From the Medinas of Fez and Marrakesh, the blue city of Chefchauen, to the beach in Essaouria, camping and camel riding in the Sahara desert you will get the culture, history and adventurous package in Morocco.
Due to the packed nature of this itinerary this is not a relaxing vacation.

Dates: Saturday May, 19 2018 - Monday, May 28 2018 This will be during Ramaadan



Price: $1,999

The Itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrive Fes and head out to Chefchauen. 
This will be a 3 - 4 hour ride. Settle down, rest and enjoy some free time. Perhaps go to a Hamman if you want to. I will live that up to you.

Affordable Dubai & Maldives Combo Luxury Itinerary

I will admit that for the longest time I had been a 'Dubai snob'. I've always thought it would be an overly commercialized city with really nothing that would wow anyone looking for something different in a new city they were visiting. I mean how do you justify having a ski resort in a desert? HELLO! Weird right?


Anyways after some plans I had made fell through I started exploring the idea of Dubai and boy am I glad I did. Dubai is a vibrant city and really all the reviews I had read were super positive with people saying Dubai should be on your bucket list. So after going to Dubai and also spending a day in Abu Dhabi cue a scream 'Sex and the City' fans I highly encourage anyone who is on the fence about Dubai to go.

Banff National Park - Full Itinerary

Have you ever been to a place that surpassed all your expectations? Banff in Alberta Canada was this place for me and so far my favorite destination this year. I think the fact that everything is natural and unspoiled contributes to the reason why I love Banff. Despite being an expensive destination it is still one of the most amazing places I have ever gone. Below is a longish post on Banff so please bear with me.

Budget:  I set out at a budget of $1,000 for the long weekend and this would include hotels, flights and car rentals. After researching the area I knew we would have to pay more than we would like for hotels and flights. This is a favorite destination for international travelers as well as Canadians which contributes to the inflated prices.

Day Trip to Nantucket

I don't think Nantucket qualifies as a day trip because depending on where you are coming from it is far!!! If you fly in you probably have to leave Nantucket earlier than you would want to if you only had a day so...

Anyways is it worth it? HELL yes. I am probably a bit impartial to Martha's Vineyard but Nantucket has it's own charm. Starting from Hyannis where I caught my ferry ride I was impressed. Hyannis is quite impressive in it's own right. Arriving on Nantucket on the fast ferry I was blown away. I can't imagine taking the slow one though. Two hours on the traditional one is a long time. So I definitely recommend taking the fast ferry for a higher price.


Japan Day 2 - Kyoto

Kyoto has so much to offer that to really do it justice you would have to stay a week there. But seeing as we only had a week in Japan I chose to maximize and see and do as much as possible. On day one as you see here, I went to the bamboo forest and then treked to through the city to a few temples before finally catching a bus to Kinkakuji the golden temple. It's very easy to use public transportation in Japan and when in doubt just ask.


Day two we woke up bright an early and headed to Nara park. We wanted to go to the temple where big Buddha is and then also head to the tori gates. I planned to use the express train to Nara using my Japan Rail pass and then the local to the tori gates. Nara park is a beauty to explore so prepare to be wowed. The weather wasn't the greatest but we made the best of it.

Brazil - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Somehow I felt like we got robbed on our Brazil experience. That's probably why it has taken me so long to write this post. I loved Brazil and I will go back one day, given the visa fees that I paid I reckon I should go back and explore Brazil slowly and thoroughly.

Getting to Brazil from Bolivia was a pain. When we finished our tour in Uyuni we finally had wifi and I logged into my emails to find that our flight to Santa Cruz had been cancelled. Our plans had been to get out of Uyuni on the same day the tour ended. There isn't much going on there so I thought it would be better to spend our limited time in Brazil.



14 Things You Must Try in Bali

Here is a long overdue list of the things you must do, if you ever find yourself in Bali:
Uluwatu
  1. Visit Ubud Monkey Forest and Ubud city. 

Banff Alberta 3 Day Itinerary

I honestly knew nothing nor had I ever heard of Banff before I saw photos on Instagram. I did my research and after seeing the incredible views that are a flight away from Boston I booked our tickets, reserved ridiculously expensive hotels and blocked off my vacation days. You see Banff is very popular in the summer. I always strive to travel in the low season but I think Banff will be the exception.

I am surprised that I hadn't heard of it because Banff is beautiful. You get amazing scenery and hiking without having to travel to the likes of Patagonia or the Alps.

So what's our plan for the four days that we will be in Canada?

We will arrive in Toronto on a Thursday night and then fly to Calgary Friday morning. ( I have never been to Toronto so I am excited to be there even for a few hours). The easiest way to get to Banff is to drive from Calgary to Banff. From there we will rent a car and it's off to this beautiful place.


From left to right: Grassi Lake, Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake. Photo Sources: www.fineartamerica.com and www.tripmemos.com.

Wine Tour In Chile

On our final day in our South America trip I booked a wine tour at CousiƱo Macul and it was one of the highlights of our trip. We had such a great time there and it's an easy ride on the metro from Santiago. So don't pay for a taxi when you can ride the metro for super cheap. We paid a taxi going and discovered on returning that it would have been faster and more efficient on the metro.


Anyways when we arrived they asked us if we wanted the premium tour. Say yes! You will get a lovely bottle of wine at the end and the wine tasting will include more premium wines. I don't know if it gets busy in the high season but we literally walked to the vineyard and requested a tour and they put us on the next available English speaking slot. How many times do you get a wine tasting in Chile? Right, so don't cheap out.

Matilda Hotel Boutique - Chile

There are hotels that you visit and feel like they are so different they deserve to be featured. They leave you feeling some kind of special. Matilda Hotel in Santiago Chile was refreshing and left me feeling like I stepped into a time warp in the middle of a very metropolitan city. The location is a little off the main street but it's because it is an old palace that was transformed into a hotel but they maintained most of the old charm.


The Location: It is close to the metro so you can get there easily. The neighborhood though is a little off putting but don't let that deter you.

Martha's Vineyard Travel Guide

Planning for Martha's Vineyard on any summer day is a fit, planning it 4th of July weekend is something to reckon with. A month to the date I started thinking of where we would go for Brian's birthday which happens to fall on one of the most expensive times to travel in America. It's close to July 4th and it's also in the summer so it's a no win for bargain traveling.

So anyways I started looking into hotel deals and really there were none. All the nice hotels had been booked and what was left over was super expensive. I dug deep, took a deep breath and reserved the last available room for that weekend at the Mansion House Inn and Spa. All the blogs I read recommended staying at the Summer Camp but alas there was no room there. So we settled for the Mansion House. The reviews were good so I had some comfort but I didn't know what to expect. 

 Amazing views from the cupola at the hotel. 

Before you ask why we had to go there. Let me explain. We had just come from a two week vacation in South America and we were tired; didn't want to fly anywhere, didn't want the hustle of planning something grand so Martha's Vineyard seemed fit and also why not. This New England gem is an hour away from the mainland it was time to go.

3 Day Tour From San Pedro Atacama to Salar De Uyuni

I think the first thing I must note here is that you MUST book with a tour agency. It is absolutely necessary if you are going to do the trek from either Chile to Bolivia (like we did) or from Bolivia to Chile. Your point of origin will depend on where you arrived. We flew to Chile direct from New York so we knew we would start in San Pedro.


Here are the details:
Arrive - Chile very early in the morning. We flew into Santiago at about 5 in the morning. I didn't want to waste the day so I booked a walking tour. Leave your bags at the airport. There is a service offered here that let's you leave you bags for a fee. Take an uber/taxi into Santiago.

10 Travel Tips That Will Save You Time & Money

I was thinking the other day that I should write a few essential tips that I have learned over time when preparing to travel. They are true and tried.

  1. Go to skyscanner and look for flights that you are looking for. If you are flexible on time search by "cheapest month". If you are like me and have to travel when you have to travel, then put an alert to watch prices. This has saved me hundreds of dollars. Book when you feel comfortable that prices will not get lower than what you are aiming for.

Juice Cleanse Series - Week 1 Journal

Day 1
I started my morning with a weigh in and yikes my weight is up. I then had some hot water with lemon to set up my stomach for the day.
I had my first juice for breakfast and it was oh so good quite refreshing.
My second juice was just as good. I drunk water in between my juices. Remember you have to drink half your weight in water.
I took a yoga class and I was feeling okay until some point in the afternoon I had a strange headache. I say strange because it wasn't a full blown headache but rather one of those headaches that seem to be in the background so you have some discomfort.
Then my stomach started acting up and I was super bloated. The noises it was making were not normal at all. I wasn't hungry and the bloated feeling did not go away. It was so bad I couldn't suck in my stomach. I looked pregnant.
Below is how my juicing goes. I put everything I need in little containers depending on what the recipe is and then I juice.

Juice Cleanse Series - Cost and Preparation Time

Pre-Game
As I had mentioned in this post I plan to do a juice cleanse/fast for the next two weeks. Basically I will be a vegetarian for the next couple of weeks. Yikes!!! I love my meat but two weeks (or more) won't kill me. My goal is to lose weight.

Yesterday which happened to be a Sunday I went to the grocery store to get my juice supplies. My juicer also came in the mail, thank you two day shipping from Amazon!!! : ) and I also got a 6 pack of 16oz bottles for my juices.


Juice Cleanse/Fast Plan

You have probably read about my weight journey and the myriad of issues I have with weight. Seriously it's like you hit 30 and weight loss becomes an issue you didn't have before. I'm not trying to say that I have been skinny all my life bla bla bla. No. My weight has fluctuated over time and I have tried various things, some with great success and most with failure. Which sucks!


I hit 30 and I couldn't just go to the gym and lose the extra pounds I was packing. It became harder no matter which workout regimen I tried and needless to say it is frustrating. So I decided to do a juice cleanse to jump start my metabolism. It's a 2 week juice cleanse/fast that will probably drive me nuts but I am willing to give it a shot. So how will it work? Here are a few pointers:

Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Route 66, The Grand Canyon, The Horseshoe and the Antelope Canyon Part 2

We drove to Page in a few hours from the Grand Canyon. It had been snowing on and off but it did warm up a little when we reached Page. We checked in after a break headed to the Horse Shoe bend. I had become a popular destination so you can ask the local and they will direct you to it. Also there are no guard rails, there is no set up. It is just you and nature which makes it very rustic and very dangerous. It would be quite easy to take a topple over the edge.


Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Route 66, The Grand Canyon, The Horseshoe and the Antelope Canyon Part 1

After enjoying a couple of days in Miami we headed of to Las Vegas and later on to Arizona. In Las Vegas we enjoyed the restaurants, the shows and really energy that you can only find on the strip. It was loads of fun.


Japan Travel Guide - Kyoto Day 1

Now that we are back from Japan I can do a travel guide on one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. From the vibrant culture, amazing food, wonderful people and beautiful sights there is so much to do in Japan and certainly to really explore you need more than one week. However I only had a week and I made sure to fit in as much as I can.

On arriving in Tokyo late at night I cleared immigration and custom pretty fast especially because all my stuff was carry on. I try to avoid checking in stuff because it always ends up wasting time for example we waited over an hour in Bali for our luggage so this time I left my perfumes at home : ).


So if there is a tip I would share is to avoid checking in luggage. The second tip is to buy the Japan rail pass. It saved me so much money seriously if you plan to travel between cities just one round-trip may put you over what you spend on the JRP. You do have to buy it before you leave your country of origin. Once you get to Japan you show your passport at one of the Japan Rail offices and they give you the pass. They will ask you the day you would like to activate it so depending on when you want to start traveling between cities that's the day you choose as your 'start' date. I had a 7 day pass so I packed my travel in those 7 days and saved my last days in Tokyo for when the pass expired.

Miami Travel Guide

We decided to escape the brutal cold in Boston and swiftly packed our bags to head to Miami for a few days before heading to Las Vegas and then Arizona (more of that later). I did not know what to expect from Miami expect that it would be expensive and it would be loads of fun.

We arrived in Miami on a Friday night and our Uber driver who picked us up at Fort Lauderdale airport was awesome! Initially I was stressing out about the drive into Miami but because we arrived in the early evening we got their after rush hour. It cost us about $50 dollars from the airport to our hotel in Miami. For some reason its crazy cheaper to fly into Fort Lauderdale verses Miami and being the cheapo that I am that is what we did.


Anyways our driver showed us some cool places to hung out, drive the long way to point out some key areas, in general he was awesome. After arriving and checking in we went to hunt for food and I'll have you know that Miami is a foodie paradise. I am not a foodie but we enjoyed the food. It is expensive as we had expected with a drink doing for $15 what??? But your on vacation so who cares right : ).

South America Itinerary: Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile

Hi guys, so we are heading back to South America soon and we are super excited. The last time we went was one of the first destinations we ever went to and suffice to say we were novices. Armed with a little more experience we are now headed back with a few tricks in our pockets.

Here is our fourteen day itinerary to South America. First it is important to note that this is not a cheap itinerary. While I think that it is one of the inexpensive ones it is by no means cheap. We will be spending at least $3,000 each between flights, hotels, visas and tours. I have always said that when I travel I like to be comfortable which means hostels are out. Also air bnb is a great option but I also like that hotel treatment especially for the duration that we normally go for. However for what we get I think it is a bargain.


It is expensive to travel between countries in South America because airlines are not cheap. I searched and searched for budget airlines and I got some bargains but compared to Europe for example it is on the expensive side. You could get a cheaper itinerary if you have time on your side but seeing as time has always been our most costly resource we have to settle for air travel verses bus travel which is a lot cheaper.

Anyways here we go:
Itinerary
Day 1
Fly overnight from Boston to Santiago Chile
Day 2
Arrive Santiago early morning explore
Fly to Calama in the afternoon and then drive to San Pedro
Day 3
Start 3-day tour of Salar de Uyuni from San Pedro
Day 4
Fly from Uyuni to Santa Cruz
Day 5
Fly from Santa Cruz to Rio de Janeiro
Day 6 – Day 8
Brazil
Day 9
Fly from Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu and explore Brazil side of the falls
Day 10
Argentina Iguacu explore Argentina side of the falls
Day 11
Fly from Iguacu to Buenos Aires
Day 12
Buenos Aires
Day 13
Fly from Buenos Aires to Santiago
Day 14
Cajon del Maipo
Last Day
Wine tour and more exploration of Santiago. Return home night flight.

We hope to enjoy these countries and hope to get the most out of this trip. If you have any suggestions/tips feel free to put them down below in the comments.

Listening is loving...

Images from: Atacama, Uyuni, ChristRedeemer, Tango, Cajon del Maipo, Escadaria, Wine Tour, Copocabana, Iguazu

Lose 1 Pound A Week!!!

I had an epiphany last night as I was thinking about my body goals for the year. In 2013 I lost quite a bit of weight. I was working out at least 3 days a week, eating right and sleeping right. You don't need to be a fitness guru to know that these are the 3 key things you need to lose weight.


Flash forward to 2014 through 2016 I kind of lost myself. I was still working out but I wasn't eating right and I wasn't resting right. I wasn't following the three mantras. I am not really a junk food eater but my alcohol intake increased. I'm not an alcoholic or anything but I was drinking every night. Two glasses of wine here, two shots of bourbon there, throw in a mixed drink and my weight started to suffer. I started to get that alcohol pouch and it caught me by surprise. What did I think would happen? ha ha Also I wasn't sleeping at least eight hours.