Wanderlusting: The 10 Countries I Most Want to Visit in the Near Future

My last blog post about travel envy was kind of a bummer, so I decided that I needed to write something a bit more positive before the week was over. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I’m not going to Istanbul with Aaron, I started thinking about the 10 countries I’d most want to visit. My only criteria for the list was that 1) I had to include countries that I’ve never been to before, and 2) they had to be places I’d want to visit in the near future (i.e. in the next 10 years or so – not when I’m much older and less adventurous/active), which was pretty easy because I haven’t been everywhere… yet.

Below is the list that I came up with, with the countries listed in alphabetical order:

Cambodia

Up until very recently, Cambodia was totally at the top of my must-see list. Throughout our honeymoon in Bali & Vietnam, we met several other couples who just raved about the food, beaches, friendliness, and cheapness of Cambodia, not to mention the complete awe of experiencing Angkor Wat. However, another travel blogger that I highly admire recently wrote about why she thinks that Cambodia has recently changed, and not for the better. Kate really knows her stuff, so I believe her when she says that she didn’t love her latest experience there. I’m hoping though that things will turn back around for Cambodia, so I can get enthusiastic again about visiting it.

Cambodia

Cambodia – thanks for the pics, Alice!

Chile

Aaron and I had so much fun backpacking around South America in 2009, but we felt a bit amiss that we didn’t make it to Chile. Ideally, our trip there will include experiencing cosmopolitan Santiago, snowboarding in Portillo, surfing in Pichilemu, and a few days exploring Easter Island.

Ecuador

Aside from wanting to see the Galapagos Islands, I’d never thought too much about visiting Ecuador; that is until my friend Jen came back from a trip there last year and had the best time ever. She promised that she’d one day write a blog post about her trip (right, Jen?), so I’ll leave it to her to tell you why she fell in love with the country.

Ecuador

Ecuador – thanks for the pics, Jen!

Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, live music, Northern Lights, Einstock beer – what’s not to like? If there were direct flights from Reykjavík to Dublin, we would have combined Iceland with our Ireland trip last summer.

Mauritius

My family friend visited Mauritius during her Semester at Sea, and as soon as I saw the photos of the perfect turquoise water and bleached white sand, I knew that I’d have to go there some day. It was definitely in the running as one of our own honeymoon destinations, but we’d like to combine it with a few weeks in South Africa as well, and we didn’t think we’d be able to do all of that right after the wedding. I guess it will just have to be the destination for a special anniversary trip, right?

Mauritius

Mauritius – thanks for the pics, Hana!

Morocco

As soon as I can find the time to spend a week in Marrakech, I’m going to make it happen. My friend Daniel was lucky enough to spend this past NYE at this insanely beautiful estate, and said that he just thought the whole area was really beautiful and interesting. Also, my mom and sisters got to ride camels near Tangier a few years ago which looked really fun.

Morocco

Morocco – thanks for the pics, Rachel and Nicole!

Burma/Myanmar

One of my friends from college has lived in a handful of foreign countries since grad school, and although she’s currently living in Kabul, she is supposed to head back to Yangon soon. Only recently a tourist destination, she says that traveling around Burma is like going back in time. Aaron and I want to see what that’s like before everything becomes too modernized.

Continue reading

Advertisements

How I’m Dealing With Travel Envy

You know those people who seem to constantly post amazing travel photos on social media sites? I’m not talking about full-time travelers or professional travel bloggers here; I’m referring to those friends of yours who have regular desk jobs but just always seem to go skiing in Vail one weekend, then lounge on the beach in Hawaii, and then somehow go sightseeing in Paris shortly after that. Yeah, you know the type.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t help but feel the tinge of travel envy whenever I see posts about other people’s travel adventures. This is especially true for me these days because my next international trip might not be until the end of the year. However, I know that the best way for me to deal with that envy is to just unplug. If I don’t want to see so-and-so’s photos from her fifth beach vacation of 2014, then maybe I shouldn’t look at her Facebook profile. It’s just that easy.

And yet, there’s someone in my life who’s been traveling a lot this year from whom I can’t unplug: my husband Aaron.

istanbul

Some of Aaron’s photos from his first Istanbul trip, January 2014.

We found out earlier today that Aaron’s about to go back to Istanbul for the second time this year. Last month he spent a week taking depositions in Istanbul, then spent another three days in London going to multiple Premiere League soccer matches. Granted, these trips have been for work and he doesn’t get a lot of time to just relax and play the tourist, but it’s still pretty awesome that he gets to experience one of the oldest and most culturally fascinating cities in the world, even if it’s just for a few meals and late afternoon wanderings.

Last time Aaron went to Istanbul, a lot of people asked if I was going to join him. I said that I declined because I’d prefer not to go there in January when it’s so cold, I had a lot of things going on back home in SF that week, and I knew Aaron would be really busy with work. But this time around, joining him in Istanbul sounded really tempting, especially because Wendy Perrin just published this blog post about how winter is such a great time to visit Istanbul. How could I let this opportunity pass me by a second time? I should be more spontaneous, right? I could make this happen!

Excited with the possibility of spending a long weekend in Turkey, I started researching flights right away. There aren’t any direct flights from SFO to IST, so the shortest travel times with layovers in either Amsterdam or Frankfurt are around 16 hours each way. Also, since I need to save up vacation days for a big trip at the end of the year, I couldn’t/shouldn’t take more than three days off for this one. So after comparing prices, travel time, and flight schedules, I’d really only have three full days to be in Istanbul, and the chances are that I’d be alone most of the time. If I was lucky, I’d maybe get a few dinners with Aaron and a free place to sleep. Hmmm, this was starting to not sound so great.

Sure, I’d prefer to sightsee with Aaron, but the “being alone” part didn’t bother me too much; I backpacked solo for several weeks in Australia and Spain a few years ago, and I really enjoyed the freedom and challenges of being on my own. But the part that was most unsettling was the price tag, and the fact that I’d fly for 32+ hours just to be in Istanbul for three days. Was that worth it?

Continue reading

Weekend Getaway Recommendations for Californians

Unless you’re a full-time traveler, business school student, or lottery winner, you probably get to go on one or two big trips each year, tops. (If you don’t fall into one of those categories and you go on lots of awesome international vacations every year, please message me – you need to teach me your secrets!) That means that the majority of the trips that you go on are on the smaller side, and we haven’t discussed those types of trips too much on the blog, aside from the few mini-moon posts.

Many of my blog followers and I live in California, so I wanted to write a post about some of the best in-state weekend getaway destinations, and where to stay. We Californians are pretty lucky with a plethora of local vacation options; no matter what city we’re in, beaches, mountains, deserts, or forests are just a short drive away. Naturally, I asked my team of local travel experts (a.k.a. my friends) where they’ve recently stayed when they needed a a quick little vacation from their lives in the “big city” (a.k.a. San Francisco and Los Angeles). Some of the hotels are bigger splurges than others, but all of them have received an honorary gold star as a great accommodation for a weekend getaway.

California getaways

We’ll start the list with “North California” (ugh), and make our way south. If there are any cities/hotels that you’d like me to add to the list, please send them my way!

Mendocinoperfect for total relaxation by the sea.
Stanford Inn by the Sea
Stevenswood Lodge

Tahoe: perfect for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and boating.
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

Healdsburg: perfect place to drink wine with your four-legged friends (there are lots of dog-friendly wineries!).
H2 Hotel
L & M Motel

Calistoga: perfect for drinking wine and soaking in mineral pools.
Solage
Indian Springs

Yountville: perfect for winos and serious foodies.
Bardessono
Vintage Inn

Napa: perfect for wine wine wine, and, oh yeah, wine!
Westin Verasa Napa Hotel
Napa River Inn

Half Moon Bay: perfect for those seeking classic elegance on the beach, and pumpkin festivals in October.
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

Carmel/Montereyperfect for golfers, beach-lovers and aquarium enthusiasts.
Carmel Valley Ranch
Bernadus Lodge & Spa
Sprindrift Inn

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

After a gorgeous wedding in Healdsburg last year, my friends Christin and Sam decided to wait a few months before going on their ultimate honeymoon in Tahiti. Worried that their photos wouldn’t do the islands enough justice, they also put their GoPro camera to good use and made a little highlights video that they could share with their friends and family. Check out the awesome video below (nice editing work, Christin!), as well as their thoughts on their amazing Tahitian honeymoon:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Tahiti (Moorea and Bora Bora) [January 2014].

Moorea honeymoon

How long was your trip?

9 fabulous days. 4 days in Moorea at the Sofitel Ia Ora Beach Resort and 5 days in Bora Bora at the Intercontinental Thallaso Resort and Spa.

bora bora hammock

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Sam and I had quite the hectic engagement year (as do most couples), but to top it off we also did a cross-country move from San Francisco to Chicago. Needless to say we decided to postpone our honeymoon until after our June, 22nd wedding. Because Chicago is so gorgeous during the summer, we decided to schedule our trip for the dead of winter to escape the cold. Our ultimate goal was to have the most relaxing honeymoon in the most beautiful place we could find. Bora Bora is obviously one of the first destinations that came to mind.

A good friend of mine was planning her honeymoon around the same time and also looking at Bora Bora as a potential option. Fortunately for me she is much more of a planner and researcher than I am when it comes to travel, and she tipped me off to a great travel agency, Pacific for Less, who specializes in travel to Tahiti and Hawaii. I’ll share more about them later. Ultimately we decided on Bora Bora because of its reputation as one of the most beautiful honeymoon locations in the world, and we both agreed it was probably not a place we’d be going on family vacations ☺

tahiti beach

The best part about our honeymoon was…

There were so many incredible meals, excursions, and hotels but truly the best part was the location. The entire trip we kept looking at each other with that “is this real life?” look because it honestly felt like you were living a dream. At one point we met a cute Australian couple who was there with their 2 daughters (I suppose this rules out our rationale that Bora Bora is not a family destination). They had traveled to nearly every tropical destination in the world: Fiji, Maldives, Seychelle Islands, Bali, The Caribbean, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. You name, it they had been there. We asked them which one was their favorite and without hesitation all four of them said Bora Bora. Between the crystal blue water, the amazing reef, and the over-water bungalows, Bora Bora took the cake for them. Perhaps they were just appeasing us or high on Bora Bora’s beauty, but regardless it made us feel great about our decision!

moorea view

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Without a doubt we would not have planned on going during their rainy season (which is December – March). As much as we wanted to coordinate our trip around escaping our first Midwest winter, there is nothing as disappointing as rain in paradise (especially when you’re traveling that far). We were fortunate that our first 4 days in Moorea and the first day in Bora Bora were absolutely beautiful. The last 4 days in Bora Bora rained for the majority of the time. As with most tropical locations, it was still warm so it didn’t keep us from doing what we would have normally done, but if we had known we definitely would have booked prior to, or after, the rainy season.

tahiti paddle boarding

How much planning did you do in advance?

We started planning shortly after our wedding, so about five months’ worth. We used a travel agency, Pacific for Less who literally did everything for us so the planning process was really easy. We booked our flights from Chicago to LA, and they took care of the rest. Like I said, Sam and I are not planners when it comes to travel, so besides physically getting ourselves to our honeymoon (or at least hiring someone to get us there), we only planned one dinner reservation at Villa Mahana and a snorkeling excursion with the Sharks and Stingrays (see below). Everything else we scheduled once we got there.

tahiti honeymoon

  • I highly recommend dinner at Villa Mahana! It is the exclusive restaurant on the island, run by two French guys. There are only 7 tables which fill up fast so you’ll want to be sure to book your reservation in advance and ask for the VIP table that overlooks the property.
  • Also the Shark, Manta Ray and Sting Ray snorkeling excursion is a must do. I had been on several snorkeling excursions before but none quite like this one. Again because I’m not a planner, I did not fully realize what we were getting ourselves into. Our first stop was the Manta Rays. Unfortunately the water was murky and we couldn’t see them so we moved onto the next stop, which was the Reef Sharks and Sting Rays. When we got there, there were hundreds of Sharks and Sting Rays circling the boat. Somewhere along the line I had convinced myself that the Shark part of the excursion was just us viewing them from the boat. Oh no! You can imagine the shock that came over me when they told us we were jumping in. I think the fact that I didn’t have time to think about it was a good thing and with a little encouragement from my husband (and the fact that an 8 year old jumped in first) I took the plunge. I can confidently say it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done and when it came time to jump in with the Lemon Sharks (p.s. they were 3x the size of the Reef Sharks), I didn’t bat an eye.

sharks

Continue reading

Amanda & Justin’s Real RTW Trip: Part 2

Amanda and Justin’s RTW trip was too awesome to confine to one blog post, so you can read part 1 here, and below is part 2 – enjoy!

What were your three favorite places that you visited on this trip?

It’s so hard to narrow down our favorite places from a trip this long; there were so many amazing places! From a high level, our favorite countries were:

Argentina: Justin’s sister lives in Buenos Aires, so we got a real taste of the local culture in the area and got to meet several of her friends. BA is an extremely fun city and it’s impossible to beat the steak dinners and incredible wine at cheap prices. Bariloche is a ski gem, the Lake Tahoe of Argentina: fun little town, incredible natural beauty, good skiing/snowboarding, and lots more amazing food and homemade chocolate. Mendoza has amazing wine and also unparalleled natural beauty.

Bariloche

Skiing in Bariloche, Argentina

Turkey: this country blew us both away, both by the outdoor activities, insanely beautiful landscapes, amazing food, history, culture, and fun. Our first stop was Selcuk – it’s has a great coastline and beaches, and the world-famous Ephesus ruins which were very impressive. Then we went to Pamukkale, which consists of an absolutely gorgeous mountain of hot springs, “travertines,” and waterfalls. This place is impossible to describe, so we’ll let the pictures do the talking. Then we went to Cappadocia for a sunrise hot air balloon ride, exploring the impressive landscapes, and amazing food. Finally, we spent 5 days exploring Istanbul, one of our favorite cities on the whole trip.

pamukkale1

Pammukale, Turkey

Cappadocia

Cappadocia, Turkey

Indonesia: We spent 5 incredible days relaxing and enjoying resort life in Seminyak, Bali. We spent some time exploring the island and seeing the rice paddies, but most of the time decompressing from our hectic travel schedule, enjoying the beach, pool, and being in one place for a change. We then went to the Komodo Islands and did a 3-day liveaboard diving trip, which turned out to be by far the best diving either of us had ever done. The quality, quantity, and size (both HUGE and incredibly tiny and beautiful) of the marine life was unmatched, and the liveaboard experience was unbeatable, including delicious home-cooked Indonesian food for every meal. We also had the opportunity to go on land to see the famous Komodo Dragons – the only place in the world they exist! Finally, we relaxed on beautiful Gili Trawangan, which has no cars, good diving, and great beaches.

One of the most beautiful, rare, and poisonous creatures in the sea: the blue ring octopus. This little beauty was only about 1.5 inches long.

One of the most beautiful, rare, and poisonous creatures in the sea: the blue ring octopus. This little beauty was only about 1.5 inches long.

Komodo dragon!

Komodo dragon!

Also worth of honorable mention as the two best surprises of the trip:

Bruges, Belgium: Maybe it’s just because we didn’t know much about this town before we got there, or because the day we showed up there was a city-wide festival of music, arts, and games going on, but this place stole our hearts. Really, the only word to describe it is adorable. Charming architecture, fun small-town feel, INCREDIBLE selection of Belgian beers for cheap prices, amazing food (so many mussels…) and great Belgian chocolate. We could have spent much more time here.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Singapore: We had heard a lot of negative things about the city-state, but we both loved it. We’ve heard it described as “sterile,” but for us it was just modern and fun. Lots of cool places to wander, stuff to see, great views from the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and some of the best street food we ate on the entire trip (the dumplings are too die for!). They have a few areas where they set up dozens of food hawker stalls that allows you to eat any kind of Asian food you can imagine: Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, etc…all for cheap prices. The street food there is pretty hard to top.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

Were there any places you wish you had skipped?

Yes, but really the only places we didn’t love are places that we used for transit and didn’t plan on spending any time. These cities include Lima (Peru), Zagreb (Croatia), Podgorica (Montenegro), and Vientiane (Laos). I don’t think we regretted and of the places where we actually spent time – we did lots of research and only visited places we knew we would enjoy.

Do you have any tips for other couples who are considering going on a RTW trip?

  • First, just do it. There are always a million excuses why you can’t do a trip longer than 2-3 weeks, but you won’t regret doing it. It is a lifetime of memories that are invaluable.
  • Kindles and iPads are an absolute must for a trip like this. Both are great for long flights, bus rides, transportation of any kind really. iPads allowed us to easily download shows and movies, and we also bought lightweight USB keyboards so we could write emails to friends and family without having to hunt and peck on an iPad.
  • Facebook can be a very useful tool to get recommendations for specific places – don’t be afraid to use it as long as you’re not being too general.
  • Information is key!! Before you go to a new country or city, inform yourself about how much taxis should cost, whether using the meter is a custom, and what the exchange rate is to avoid being ripped off. Nothing worse than finding out later you paid way too much for a taxi ride. The exchange rate app XE was very useful for us. In general, don’t trust taxi drivers, especially at airports and bus stations! Make sure you have the name of the place you are staying on your phone (we took screen shots) to show the taxi driver. Also, try to google map how far the distance is to your accommodation so you have a general idea of what you are in for.
  • Tripadvisor is your friend: we relied on it heavily for restaurants, activities, and places to stay.
  • If you’ve got hotel points or airline miles, this is the time to use them – but do so in places where your points will go the furthest, and where other accommodations may be less appealing.
  • Try to space out when you stay in nice hotels – it is something to look forward to but also critical in reenergizing for the rest of the trip. If we were moving around a lot, we would then plan to stay in a place for 4 – 5 nights (and sometimes in a hotel) so we could take a breather and regroup for the next journey.
  • Buy a travel backpack. Don’t even think about doing this with a rollerboard or standard suitcase. We both used Osprey backpacks which held up great!
  • Don’t take yourself or anything too seriously because, let’s face it, traveling can be stressful. There will be times that things don’t go your way or you are tested, but always remember that you are a team, in this together, and don’t hold onto the frustration. It’s okay to be frustrated at times but look, it’s all part of the adventure. Just shake it off as best and as quickly as possible. You don’t want it to ruin the trip or your partner’s experience!

Continue reading

Amanda & Justin’s Real RTW Trip: Part 1

My friend Justin is one of the best-traveled people I know, so when he told me that he was going on a round the world (RTW) trip with his girlfriend Amanda after they graduated from business school, I couldn’t wait to hear about their travel plans because I knew they’d be ridiculously impressive.  Six months and 20+ countries later, I was not disappointed one bit. And since they have so many beautiful photos and thoughtful RTW trip recommendations, I decided to split their post into a two-part series. Here’s part 1 – enjoy!

How long was your RTW trip, and how did you find the time to go?

Our trip was 6 months long and the timing was perfect for us as we had just graduated from business school in June, 2013. We both had jobs lined up and were offered a late start date (February 2014) – the opportunity to travel for that length of time was too good to pass up.

Justin and Amanda in Bali

Justin and Amanda in Bali

Where did you go (and how much time did you stay in each place)?

The rough breakdown is as follows:

~6 weeks in South America:
• Ecuador (Galapagos Islands, Quito, and Banos)
• Peru (Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, and Cuzco)
• Argentina (Buenos Aires, Bariloche, and Mendoza)

~8 weeks in Europe:
• Spain (Barcelona, Mallorca, and San Sebastian)
• France (Saint Emilion, and Paris)
• Belgium (Bruges)
• Netherlands (Amsterdam)
• Germany (Munich for Oktoberfest)
• Austria (Vienna)
• Slovenia (Ljubljana and Lake Bled)
• Croatia (Zagreb, Plitvice National Park, Zadar (coastal drive), Split, Hvar and Korcula (islands) and Dubrovnik)
• Montenegro (Kotor)
• Turkey (Ephesus, Pamukkale, Capadoccia, and Istanbul)

~3 weeks in the Middle East:
• Jordan (Petra, Wadi Rum desert, Aqaba, and Amman)
• Israel (Eilat, Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Bethlehem)

~6 weeks in Southeast Asia:
• Thailand (Bangkok, Krabi, and Chiang Mai)
• Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane)
• Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
Singapore
• Indonesia (Bali, Komodo Islands, and the Gili Islands)

~3 weeks in New Zealand (Amanda went home for the holidays as she had already been to NZ, so Justin pushed on solo):
• Auckland
• Whitianga
• Tongoriro Crossing / Lake Taupo
• Rotorua
• Queenstown
• Wanaka
• Franz Josef glacier
• Milford Sound

Cappadocia

Hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey

Did you have a set itinerary from the start, or did you play things by ear?

We booked the long flights through American Airline’s RTW ticket desk (this consisted of about 10 – 12 segments), and then played everything else by ear. Once we were booked, the cities were set in stone but the dates were changeable for free (luckily, we never had to change anything). For example, we knew we were flying into Buenos Aires on a specific date, and we would generally plan the activities that we did in that area as we went along. One condition of the RTW tickets was that we had to fly into and out of the same city (we were allowed one exception to this rule, which we used in Europe: flew into Barcelona and out of Istanbul). Therefore, we also knew what date we had to be back in Buenos Aires to fly out. How early we planned things depended on where we were: in Europe it was very easy to just make decisions and hop on a train or bus, whereas in Indonesia we had to book flights to get from island to island – so that part required more advanced planning.

Pamukale

Justin and Amanda in Pamukkale, Turkey

Our greatest resources for recommendations for each location were suggestions from previous friends that have traveled there, tripadvisor (we used this A LOT for everything ranging from activities to restaurants to hotels), and posting on FB for recommendations. These resources all were an important part to the planning process. Also, don’t underestimate the time it takes to plan! We would take a day here and there to just do research and plan our next move – you want to make sure you put thought into what you do so you can finish the trip with no regrets which is what we did!

View from the top of the Marina Sands Hotel in Singapore

View from the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore

How hard was it to pack for a RTW trip?    

The answer to this question varies significantly depending on who you ask – packing was much easier for Justin.
For Justin, the thought of packing for this trip sounded daunting at first (6 months, countless cities and countries, and multiple climates in both summer and winter), but at the end of the day he just simplified and packed light. When it was cold he layered up. He packed mostly things he didn’t care too much about, expecting stuff to get lost or ruined – no real science to it. Amanda put much more thought into her packing…

From Amanda’s perspective, this was a very overwhelming trip to even think about packing for because she didn’t want to forgo her fashion sense for total utility so she worked hard to strike a balance. She wishes she had some advice while packing therefore she has provided some key things / recommendations that she would make to girls packing for a RTW including:

  • Get a backpack that you can easily get into and out of so you don’t feel like you have to repack every time you want to get a shirt – I LOVED my backpack which was the Osprey Waypoint 65L which was great because it had a daypack attached to it (very convenient) and it zips open like a suitcase which was very helpful. Have your backpack fitted to you as well so it is more comfortable (they can do it in any travel or outdoorsy store).
  • Scarves are your best friend – I brought 4 on the trip and bought more while traveling. They are not only great to add warmth and layers, but they can easily change up an outfit to make you feel like you have more clothes than you do!
  • Roll everything you pack – it takes up way less space so you can squeeze more things into your back pack
  • Only pack lightweight things and focus on layering – I brought a lot of solid colored tank tops that I could layer with each other or under sweaters. This is also a great way to change up the look of outfits.
  • Buy space compressible bags to pack bulky items in! I had one from EagleCreek and it was life saving – I could put 6 sweaters in it and compress them to take up the space of half that.
  •  Try to pack things that are one color scheme so every piece goes with everything else – I took a lot of black and white items so then I could add a colorful scarf, tank top or necklace to make many outfits out of a few items
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of active clothing you will need (work out pants / shirts, etc.) – that is one thing I wish I would have brought more of because if they get sweaty, you can’t re-wear them!
  • Find a great crossbody purse that is neutral in color and zips up so you don’t lose all of your valuables. I got a Marc by Marc Jacobs beige canvas bag which was perfect. I could easily clean it, it went with everything, was large and had a zip pocket that I could safely put my wallet and passport so I would not get pick-pocketed.
  • Don’t pack anything you are attached to – I took only inexpensive items and did have some things ruined during the course of the trip. I had to throw them out but it was no big deal since they weren’t expensive!
  • Have a great pair or two of sunglasses – the best accessory to make you look great in pictures when you may feel “not at your best” after camping for 3 nights and not showering, just for example…
An island in Indonesia

An island in Indonesia

_____________________

Come back tomorrow to read the second part of Amanda and Justin’s amazing round the world trip, including thoughts on their favorite and least favorite places, and lots of incredibly helpful tips for other couples considering going on a RTW voyage.

Real Honeymoon: Antigua

There haven’t been too many Caribbean honeymoons on the blog yet, so I’m really excited to share this really great one from Antigua! Stephanie and Matt knew they needed to escape this winter’s polar vortex by honeymooning in a warm and beachy location, but Stephanie left it up to Matt to decide the exact destination. Read all about how he surprised her with an amazing honeymoon in Antigua:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We stayed at the Galley Bay Resort in Antigua.  We got married on 12-27-13 and traveled from January 2-January 11th, 2014.

antigua honeymoon

How long was your trip?

8 amazing days!

antigua honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I loved every minute of planning our wedding, but with all the little details that goes on with a wedding, I asked my fiance if he would be interested in planning the honeymoon for us.  He was more than happy, and really took time to do his research on resorts and locations.  I gave him my top three that I was interested in… St. Lucia, Hawaii, and Antigua.  At first, it was going to be a surprise, and I’d find out at the airport where we were going.  But… I couldn’t wait, and wanted to do more research on possibly “trashing the dress” photos too.  One afternoon he put the resort on the screen of his computer and then flipped it around.  I was so so excited!  I think once we were about a month away, I was visiting the Galley Bay website daily filled with anticipation!

antigua honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Oh my goodness everything…!  Matt and I wanted a relaxing vacation filled with sun, reading, food and drinks.  The food at Galley Bay was so gourmet and delicious.  I’d have to say overall though, our daily visit to the deck to sit in an adirondack chairs, sip on an island cocktail, and look out into the ocean, was probably my favorite part of the trip.  The food is a super close second!  I highly recommend taking the sunset cruise by Captain Sean too.  We did this our last day/night at Galley Bay and it was beautiful.  It was fun seeing the island from a different perspective.

antigua honeymoon

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Bringing bug spray!  I wore a lot of dresses and skirts, and by the end of the trip, I had quite a few bug bites.  Definitely pack some of this and carry it with you throughout the day/night.  Other than that, just adding more days to the trip too would have been a great change!

antigua honeymoon

How much planning did you do in advance?

Matt did all of it!  He called various travel websites, and looked online at the top honeymoon resorts and locations.  He went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I looked into different places to visit on the island too, but we were such beach bums, we didn’t want to leave the resort.  We were so pleased with our location, and beyond grateful we got the opportunity to take such a beautiful vacation!

antigua honeymoon

Continue reading