Travel Essentials

When people ask where I would like to travel in the world, my answer is literally every country. It would be my dream to see every country even just for a day and experience the local, traditional cuisine. Here are some of my favorite travel items I would take for a trip around the world:

travel essentials

  1. Trtl Travel Pillow ($29) – this travel pillow is different from traditional pillows in that you wrap it around your neck (like a turtleneck). It has velcro to hold it closed and a piece of flexible plastic that prevents your head from flopping. I like that the material is soft fleece and keeps you warm since usually it’s cold on planes. It folds almost all the way flat which makes it easy to pack. I felt like it was really effective in preventing my neck from flopping, I slept comfortably on my trip to England. Here’s how it works: trtl travel pillow instructions

2) Lightweight Water Resistant Travel Backpack/Foldable & Packable ($19) – this particular backpack folds up into a small pouch which is kinda awesome!

3) Hydro Flask ($22)

4) Lightweight waterproof jacket ($89)

5) Hunter Rain Boots ($150) – I’ve had these for almost 10 years and while I don’t wear them everyday, they’ve been so reliable and comfortable for walking.

6) Earplugs – so great for planes, hostels, shared hotel rooms, etc.

7) Sleep Aid (generic brand) – I use these to prevent jet lag. I’ll time my time on the plane and take the sleep aid about an hour before I want to sleep. This helps me sleep well on a long flight and wake up feeling refreshed even with an 8 hour time difference upon arrival.

8) Chaco sandals (around $60) – these are so comfortable and great for hiking, in water, etc.

9)Waterproof phone pouch ($6) – I first got this pouch for a river tubing trip. I ended up falling off my tube and being totally submerged in the water and my phone was protected. There are lots of similar cell phone pouches out there and I also love them for the beach.

10) Solar phone charger ($40) – I don’t have one of these yet, but really want one not only for travel but for emergencies. I included this particular one just based off online reviews.

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Wanderlust: starting a travel fund

Even though it’s only been a short time since my amazing trip to England, I’m always thinking about where I’d love to travel to next. Traveling (and moving) have been a big part of our 11 years of marriage and we’re really hoping to go back to Scotland together. It really was a magical time in our lives, and it’s a place we could see ourselves living (no, this is not another moving announcement, ha, ha!) I enjoyed this article with three ways to be inspired to starting a travel fund. The last point about inexpensive trips is something I’ve also been thinking about. Two places I’d love to visit that are close to us are Santa Barbara and Joshua Tree. I mean, look at this!!!

3 Ways to Inspire Yourself To Start a Travel Fund

By Christine H.

I think we all want to save. We have a desire to have a savings account, not just for emergencies, but so we can have a little bit of an extra money for fun saved away. For a lot of people, this is a travel fund. Because travel isn’t a necessary expense, a lot of people have a hard time putting the necessary money away to start a travel fund. It’s hard to save that money away when you could be using it right now. Here are a few tips to inspire yourself to start a travel fund.

Save your cash

A lot of people who struggle to put their money away into a special travel savings account, find some form of a coin jar to be an effective way to save money. You’d be surprised how much of your loose change can add up to be a substantial amount of money. Anytime you spend cash, come home and put all of your loose change in a jar, and continue contributing to it on a weekly basis. Before long, you’ll have a few hundred dollars stocked up. Simply take this money to either a bank or a coin counting machine(most grocery stores have one), and you can exchange your coins for cash. You can then use this cash immediately on travel, or deposit it into your bank to be used for travel expenses.

Another great cash saving method, is to save all of your 5 dollar bills. Have a jar (some people like the idea of using a shadow box!), or an envelope, or any other form of storage that works for you, and place every 5 dollar bill that comes your way into it. You probably have a lot more 5 dollar bills pass through your hands than you thought, and you’ll save up quite a bit of money this way. It won’t feel like a lot, because that’s basically the cost of a latte, but you’ll start saving and have a good amount of travel money saved up in no time.

Motivate yourself

One of the best ways to motivate yourself to save for anything, is to put reminders of your goals in places that you’ll be forced to see them every single day. Hang a large map on one of your walls, and place pins in all of the places you’ve been to. Not only is this a cute way to decorate your home, but seeing all the places you’ve traveled to, or rather all of the places you haven’t traveled to, will motivate you to put more money into your travel fund.

Take inexpensive trips

It’s easy to aim high and end up falling short, and in the end accomplishing nothing. If you have a hard time making yourself save up for a trip, start with a small and inexpensive trip as your goal. Don’t plan a 2 week trip all over Europe that you know will cost you thousands of dollars. Instead, plan a road trip with friends to a neighboring state, even if it’s somewhere you’ve been before(if you haven’t, even better!). This will keep the entire cost of the trip down to a minimum, and you can all share the cost of gas and lodging. Maybe this will satisfy your wanderlust, and you can continue to simply take short, nationwide road trips with some of your best pals. But it’s possible that this simple travel method will further motivate you to save for more exotic travel destinations. Just make sure that, no matter what kind of vacation you are saving for, that you make realistic saving goals for yourself. You won’t be able to save all of the money for a trip to Cabo in a week, so instead, plan for a trip months away. When it comes time to buy the tickets, if you can’t afford them, either postpone the trip a few more months, or purchase tickets for a less expensive destination instead.

Setting realistic goals and realistic expectations is one of the keys to being able to afford  to travel on a regular basis.

3 ways to start a travel fund

Fiesta Friday: links I love and things to celebrate

We’re currently on a staycation in Newport Beach! I’ll write more about it when we come back (from an hour away, ha!) but we’ve been looking forward to relaxing and seeing a new-ish place without traveling far.

Here are some other places I’d love to see one day:

Canada – I’ve never crossed the border north and was inspired by these pictures of Banff and Lake Moraine

10 things to do in Barcelona (my top choice would definitely be Camp Nou!)

6 reasons to visit Bolivia

My top 10 travel wish list

Fiesta Friday: links I love and things to celebrate

things to celebrate happy weekend links

We’re nearing the end of California’s Super Bloom – a beautiful result of the heavy rainfall this winter. It has been beyond gorgeous!

Have you ever heard of Colmar, France?! Looks straight out of a fairy tale.

And as if I didn’t already want to travel everywhere all the time, here’s a great list of the Top 10 Cheapest Travel Destinations – where would you go? All of them sound awesome, especially Spain, Serbia and and Greece.

New Zealand travel fantasy: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-hunt-for-the-wilderpeopl31

We saw Hunt for the Wilderpeople last week at the Alamo Drafthouse – the movie is an adventure comedy drama and made me smile, laugh and cry! But most of all, it made me really want to visit New Zealand! New Zealand has been on my travel list for a while (I mean basically with like every other country in the world, ha, ha) and I loved the gorgeous scenery in the movie.

Here are some more amazing images I found while daydreaming about going to New Zealand.

new zealand

new zealand

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(click image for link)

p.s. – the director, Taika Waititi, also directed another movie I love “What We Do In The Shadows”, a horror comedy and vampire documentary. I know it sounds weird but I’d recommend it!

Motherhood Around the World series summary

One of my favorite blogs I’ve been reading for years started another segment of their series “Motherhood Around the World” where they interview American moms living abroad and discuss surprising and unique aspects of raising kids in various cultures. It’s been so fascinating to read about different parenting styles, giving birth in a country one didn’t grow up in,  and of course seeing the beautiful landscapes around the world.

In Sweden (and other countries), babies will often nap outside tucked in their strollers – that’s one huge difference than in the US! Child Protective Service would be called before anyone could think twice! 😉  Some countries like Germany have paid maternity leave up to 12 months!

Some of the countries featured that I found particularly interesting were: Iceland, Thailand, Kenya, and Mexico. While I’ve lived abroad twice (in Guatemala and Scotland), both were before we had kids and would’ve been very different experiences. We’ve always been open to moving abroad with our kids and this series has given me an interesting and real insight to what it might be like.

Check out the amazing outdoor community pool in Iceland:

pool

this cute family in Thailand:

thailand

or read the series here on A Cup of Jo!

Fiesta Friday

things to celebrate happy weekend links

When we lived in Virginia, our street name was Cotswolds Hill Lane – having not known what the Cotswolds were then, they’ve since been added to my list of places to travel – check them out here with Julia’s travel post, so gorgeous!

This is literally my favorite facial product right now! I’ve definitely seen the claimed results of refined pores and a clean, detoxified feeling on your skin.

I recently discovered an awesome travel blog from the beautiful Emi, who documented these amazing pregnancy photos on her trips!

Have a great weekend! XO

 

Austin, TX: City Spotlight

Austin Texas Travel

We made our first trip to Texas a few weeks ago and BIG  NEWS, we’re actually moving there this week!

We loved the city – the lush, rolling hills, food, atmosphere – and my husband accepted a job there soon after. Everything happened so fast as we are in the process of selling our current home in Utah where we’ve been living for the last 3 years.

When we move there, I’m sure I’ll have lots to update on this post! Here’s a few things we loved on our short trip:

Mt.Bonnell – a short walk up about 50 stairs to the highest point in Austin with a great view of the city skyline. Free admission, public trail.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – what could be better than dinner and a movie?! The service was great and they had a large variety of items to select. I had a chili burger with a side salad 🙂

Butler/Zilker Park – like the Central Park of Austin, there is so much to do right on the across Lady Bird Lake and downtown. I’m looking forward to trying kayaking or paddle boating when we move there!

To eat:

There were so many amazing places we had recommended that we didn’t have enough time to try them all! A few of my favorites:

Torchy’s Tacos – I grew up in San Diego so of course I love tacos! I was so impressed with Torchys – I especially recommend the brisket taco and queso (cheese dip for chips)

Terry Blacks – this is where I had the best brisket of my entire life, no exaggeration! The meat was so tender I didn’t even need a knife. They have self serve sides which is awesome so you can try a little of everything (which I did!)

Amy’s Ice Creams – highly rated ice cream that to me rivals Salt and Straw (Portland) – they have weekly specialty flavors or you can create your own combo. It’s similar to ColdStone but a hundred times better 🙂

Gourdoughs (donuts) – a few locations in Austin including the permanent food truck that we visited. Their donuts are pretty amazing and come with awesome toppings (fruit, icing, etc)

We’re excited to start a new adventure and see new places! If you have any Austin recommendations, please share!

City Spotlight: Edinburgh

City SpotlihtWe had the opportunity to live in Edinburgh, Scotland while my husband was interning with the Scottish Parliament! It was my first time in the UK and we absolutely loved Scotland – the country, castles, amazing landscapes, people and culture. We would move back in a heartbeat!

We arrived not having a place to live (!) but luckily we found the perfect flat just a few minutes walking from my husband’s internship. We found the flat through Gumtree, which is similar to Craigslist.

Edinburgh is an amazing blend of old, historical buildings and new and modern shops, restaurants and businesses. They have a pretty great public transportation system in the city, we got everywhere without a car.

See & Do

Edinburgh Castle – take a tour of the beautiful Edinburgh Castle, set atop a hill overlooking the city, it even includes a pet cemetary!

The Royal Mile – the main street that starts at the castle and ends at Holyrood Palace, lined with shops, restaurants, pubs, etc.

Holyrood Palace – The Royal Family residence when they are in Scotland. Tour info here.

Scottish Parliament – The building across from Holyrood has a very unique architecture (which you’ll learn the significance if you take a tour)! Tour info here

Princes Street/Old Town Edinburgh – centrally located shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and gardens.

Climb the Scott Monument – named after Sir Walter Scott, one of the most admired men in Scotland.

Football – or soccer as we call it in the US 😉 There are two main clubs based in Edinburgh,  Hearts and Hibs (Hibernian)

National Museum – free admission

Elephant House – One of the tea and coffee shops where J.K. Rowling penned Harry Potter. They also serve pastries and have a great view of Edinburgh Castle!

Arthur’s Seat – an easy hike up the mountain, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the city!

Edinburgh is cold in the winter and usually gets a small amount of snow. The sun sets in the late afternoon. The summer days are long, similar to Alaska.

There are lots of other amazing things close by: 

Glasgow – the largest city in Scotland is a short train ride from Edinburgh’s Waverly Station

The Highlands and Islands – you would need a car to get there, but there are lots of tours that leave from Edinburgh, like Highland Exhibition Tours – be sure to check out Loch Ness!

St. Andrews – the “home of golf”, St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews University

Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument – about an hour from Edinburgh, you can take a tour of the castle and also hike the monument.

Ville

I may or may not have a price alert set to Edinburgh! Hoping we can make it back one day!

What’s in a name?

So where on earth did the name ‘Jam Tart‘ come from?!

After completing undergrad degrees in Utah, my husband got an internship in Edinburgh, Scotland with the Scottish Parliament. It was the most magical few months of our lives! We absolutely fell in love with the city, people and culture. Scotland is extremely beautiful – green, rolling hills, ocean breeze, new and modern buildings, historical buildings and castles, bagpipes, tartan, awesome accents and friendly people.

One of the local soccer teams is ‘Heart of Midlothian‘ and one of their nicknames is ‘Jam Tarts’. So the name was born from my love and passion for soccer and Edinburgh.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

St. Margaret’s Loch, Edinburgh

 Holga photo by me