fbpx
Browsing Category

Travel

Travel

Our Current Bucket List

Currently dreaming (Corona dreaming albeit) of….

Whether you’ve been sucked into scrolling through travel accounts on Instagram or you can’t stop pinning destinations on Pinterest — we all can’t wait to start traveling again.

BUT until we can travel again normally (and safely!) we’ll be over here building our dream bucket list. From both local destinations to the far corners of the earth — here are some of the first places we can’t wait to visit. 

New Orleans

Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash

New Orleans is chock full of culture, food, nightlife, and history, so it makes perfect sense it has earned a spot on our bucket list. Whether you want to explore Bourbon street, take a cemetery tour, or enjoy live jazz with a drink in hand, New Orleans is a must-see city at least once in your lifetime. Make sure your trip is full of adventurous foods (gator po’boy anybody?) in addition to learning about the of French, Spanish, African, and American influences seen in every part of life here in this southern town. 

Redwoods National Park

While there are a lot of National Parks worthy of this list, lately we’ve been coveting the giant and lush trees of Redwoods National Park. Take to the trees to camp (or glamp) in style, spend your days hiking, or just enjoy driving through the scenery — with some of the tallest trees in the world, this trip is sure to put things in perspective.

Bonus: this National Park is almost completely open to visitors right now so you can cross this one off sooner rather than later- check out our full COVID-proof National Park list HERE.

Cannon Beach

Photo by Ryan Wilson on Unsplash

While you may associate Oregon with lush forests and hiking, it’s also home to stunning rocky coastal beaches which brings us to our next bucket-list destination — Cannon Beach. On your way, stop at Camp 18 — a logging camp turned restaurant to get a sense of Oregon’s logging history. Enjoy the bustling art scene with the dozen or so galleries in midtown Cannon Beach or head to the beach to take in the iconic Haystack Rock. 

Maine (in the Fall!)

Fall in New England is unlike any other. But the one place we can’t stop thinking about trekking to? Maine. Enjoy a fresh sea-to-table dinner, sightsee one of the many historic lighthouses, or just enjoy a day taking in nature in this beautiful state.  Whether you’re enjoying the chilly weather in a coastal town like Bar Harbor or you’re taking to the trails in Acadia National Park — Maine is one place we can’t wait to hit up.

The Great Lakes 

Not all beautiful bodies of water are situated on the coasts — in fact, for a getaway that feels further away than the Midwest head to check out of the many Great Lakes available on the US side. Lake Superior’s beautiful clear waters feature shipwrecks and opportunities to cliff dive, but has colder water year-round. If you want to enjoy water time and stunning sand dunes, head to Michigan and enjoy Lake Michigan instead. 

Cape Cod 

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

Cape Cod used to be a place for only those flush with cash, but it’s also a quintessential New England coastal experience for everyone else. Get your fair share of picturesque lighthouses and fresh from the ocean seafood alongside these coastal towns — many of which are architectural and culinary gems. Take in weathered shingles, clam chowder, and glorious sand dunes across Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard.

Cumberland Island, Georgia

A charming and majestic island we had never even heard of until recently, Cumberland Island will have you feeling like you’re far away from home. Grab a ferry from St. Marys and take advantage of this quiet and enchanting island that’s under protection by the National Park Service. Stay at the Greyfield Inn for an all-inclusive experience in a manner from the 1890s or enjoy nature by camping in one of the many campgrounds on the island. 

Japan (International Travel couldn’t come back any sooner!)

Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

Japan is a dream destination to start but combine it with the cherry blossom season? Now that’s bucket-list-worthy. While we may not be able to get to Japan anytime soon, experiencing the bustling cities, countryside, and culture of Japan is definitely on our must-see list. First up? Plenty of time spent in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hakone for stunning views of Mount Fuji. 

French Riviera 

While most people flock to the coastline of Italy (see more about our month in Italy with our kids here!), we’ve been dreaming more about the South of France for our next big adventure. From the sprawling lavender fields of Provence to the yacht-filled waters of Saint Tropez, there is plenty to see in the French Riviera. Take a bus, train, or rental car and explore some must-see stops along the coast — Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Provence, and although technically not part of France, the small country of Monaco.

Marrakech

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Dream-worthy markets of handmade goods, stunning courtyards with mosaic tiling, and some of the best food in the world — we must be talking about the one and only Marrakech. If you’ve ever wanted to shop endlessly in markets or take in the fantastic architecture, you may want to head to Marrakech. Start at Ben Youssef Madrasa, a preserved 14th-century former Islamic school that represents Moroccan design with its ornate tiles, wooden windows, and tranquil courtyard — not to mention the endless opportunities for the perfect Instagram shot. 

Croatia

Between idyllic beaches, picturesque national parks, delicious food, and plenty of history — Croatia has got it all. When I lived in northeastern Italy, we spent some time in Split and it was MAGIC.

It earned Travel + Leisure Choice Destination of the Year in 2016, continuing to gain popularity and it is easy to see why. Head to the Dalmatian Islands if you’re looking for a beach vacation, Plitvice National Park for all you adventure-seekers, or Dubrovnik for anybody looking to live out their best Game of Thrones life (most of the series was shot here)!

While some of these may get to be crossed out sooner than others, we can’t stop dreaming of when our next adventure will be and adding to our bucket list. Pinning that dream destination we hit and reminiscing on those memories year to come is just the best. What’s next on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel

How To Prep Your Home for Airbnb Guests

Making money while you travel — sounds like a dream come true right?

Annnddd if you haven’t checked out our How to Make Money While You Travel 101, it is definitely worth a read HERE.

With the rise of vacation rentals, there’s an easy way to utilize that empty house of yours and make money on your next trip. But turning your home into an Airbnb takes a lot more than adding a listing online with a few pictures. From basic amenities to how to store your valuables, here are a few key things to consider when preparing the home for Airbnb guests.

Make Sure It’s Safe

First things first — you want a safe experience for your guests. Critically examine your home with safety in mind. Are there exposed wires or loose steps?

When we were prepping our home for our first Airbnb guests during our month long stay in Italy (see how we did it all for 1k here!), there were definitely a handle of things we just lived with and didn’t think about, but knew needed to be fixed (i.e. that hole in the bathroom wall that we never fixed, or those pesky closet doors that posed a risk for little fingers)

Take stock of all the potential hazards and fix them before you begin advertising your home. Make sure there are working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Add a small first-aid kit somewhere in your home and of course, leave your phone number or email address for guests to reach you in case there are questions or problems.

Lock Away Your Valuables

The most important part of inviting guests into your home is safeguarding your personal items. There are two parts to this — the first is to screen potential guests. The second is to remove your valuables completely.

This includes jewelry, family photos, legal papers, fine china, firearms, and other items important to you. If you don’t want to remove them from your property completely, decide on accessible areas for your guests. You can keep basements, rooms, cupboards, and closets off-limits to keep as storage while you have guests. I know so many Airbnb’s we have visited have that one closet that is locked shut….that you wonder what might just be in there, but is effective nontheless.

We are pretty avid minimalist, so we really don’t have much to lock away when we have guests…and typically we are taking our camera and laptops with us. But we do keep a small lockbox, for other valuables we don’t want accessible to guests.

(Also just for your peace of mind- worst case scenario if something did happen, Airbnb’s Host Protection is BOMB.)

Keep It Simple

Minimalism is key here — guests don’t want to live among your belongings. We push our clothes to the back of the closet, remove our kids artwork on the fridge, put out personal tolietries in a basket under the sink…you get the picture.

Don’t feel like you need to completely strip you home to a stark hotel room, but definitely clear the clutter and remove those super personal, red flashing light “someone lives here!”, items.

Lock in a Competitive Price

Airbnb only acts as a way to make money while you travel if you actually book guests! Do research on comparable listings to get an idea of rates and lock in your competitive pricing. Update your calendar regularly and consider adding a discount for extended stays since it’s easier to manage fewer people coming and going.

We actually use the AirBnb smart pricing feature and it has worked great for us! It automatically adjusts the price based on the time of year, demand etc….we have never not had a booking for a time we opened up our calendar.

In addition to a comprehensive description, make sure your photographs are well-lit and plentiful. Consider hiring a professional photographer for this portion. We actually contacted our realtor and she had her photographer take our images for us for only $100! Well, worth the upfront cost given the thousands we’ve made off our empty house while traveling…it really does make a difference.

Don’t Forget the Amenities

Make sure there is a comfortable bed, good pillows, and high-quality sheets. It’s helpful to provide extra pillows and blankets. Make sure there are clean hand towels and bath towels.

Mu number one thought when we first considered listitng our house on Airbnb while we traveled was- “but they aren’t going to sleep in our sheets right??”

Have an extra sets of towels, bed linens, and pillow protectors for your guests aside from the one your family normally uses. You may also want to consider a separate mattress topper and pillows for an extra level of sanitation for your home. We stash our personal linens in closets while we are gone, and have our house keeper but them back on at the exit cleaning before we return!

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Leave Written Out Rules

Have written instructions on how to connect to the internet, how to use the TV, and operate other major appliances like the AC, heater, or security systems…as well as all those weird quirks about your house that only you know:)

Outline expectations for parking, trash removal, and checkout for guests. Make sure to state any house rules as well. For example:

  • Can your guests have parties?
  • Is smoking allowed? If yes, specify where.
  • May your guests play loud music after 10 pm?
  • If you allow pets, provide specific pet rules.
  • Do you have sensistive plumbing?

CLEAN!

We always schedule our house cleaner to come the morning the guests are checking in and the day they check out. AirBnb allows you to set a custom cleaning fee in your listing, so we opted to have that fee cover both the initial and final cleaning.

So we do all the straightening up, and then we leave the actual wiping down, vacuuming, mopping etc to the house keeper…we tried to do it all ourselves once, and trust us, THIS is the way to go. Makes leaving a breeze!

It’s always a bit of a mad dash to prep our house for guests, on top of all the work to get ready for a trip…but it is 100% worth it when we get that deposit in our account that essentially just paid for our trip! (Not the mention coming home to a sparkling clean house!)

We also love adding thoughtful touches, like a personalized welcome note or travel inspired touches around the home to really elevate our guests experience. It’s the little things that take a guests stay from good to unforgettable.

Ultimately, to prepare your home for Airbnb guests means to prepare to become a great Airbnb host. This boils down to one factor — a great guest experience. There are so many great places to stay on Airbnb, so to set yourself apart, be friendly and responsive without being obtrusive. By improving the guest experience you’ll build relationships, get returning guests, and earn amazing reviews — in addition to earning that extra cash!

Get to more traveling now! Sign up to be a Airbnb host HERE!

Travel

National Parks to Visit Now — And What to Do There

For all the summer 2020 trips that never were…

While summer definitely won’t look normal this year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t adventures you can still embark on! One of the safest options for summer 2020 is heading to the great outdoors and experiencing a National Park.

We had a trip to Norway (our first time back to Europe since we did our epic 1 month in Italy for 1k – two kids in tow and all!) and the Redwoods that were both cancelled, so we have been desperately itching for just any change in scenery….anyone else?!

So we’ve outlined the best National Parks open this summer — and what to do once you get there. Scroll below and find your last minute, COVID-safe getaway below!

National Park Push Pin Map

ARIZONA

Grand Canyon National Park

The South Rim, Tuweep, Inner canyon trails and the North Rim are all open for day hiking. Beginning June 14, the park will initiate a phased reopening of Colorado River trips.

Don’t Miss:

The most popular entry to the park is Grand Canyon Village. It is home to Yavapai Point — one of the best places to view the canyon. The Rim Trail is one of the most comprehensive trails in the Grand Canyon and allows you to see the South Rim’s most popular viewpoints. It’s a fairly easy walking path that traces the canyon’s edge with viewpoints at Maricopa Point and Hopi Point.

ARKANSAS

Hot Springs National Park

Trails, roads, water fountains, and concession services operating in bathhouses and the Mountain Tower are open for limited services.

Don’t Miss:

Head out to Sunset Trail which leads to multiple impressive mountain overlooks. The 8.9 mile loop is doable for beginning or moderate hikers. Afterwards, relax in the longest operating bathhouse from 1912 along Bathhouse Row. Buckstaff Bath is equipped with steam cabinets, whirlpool tubs, Swedish mass therapists, and needle showers. 

CALIFORNIA

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

Roads, parking lots, developed and wild trails, restrooms, and picnic areas are all open for visitors but overnight campgrounds and lodging will remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

Of course you can’t miss The General Sherman Tree on your visit to Sequoia. The world’s largest tree stands at 275 feet and measures more than 36 feet in diameter at its base. Or head to the Giant Forest — a large sequoia grove that is home to more than 8,000 trees.

Joshua Tree National Park

Park entrances, parking lots, roads, trails, backcountry camping, family campsites, and some restroom facilities are open for visitors but the visitor center and group campsites remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

Head out on Arch Rock nature trail — a .5 mile trail that has a lot of large rock formations to climb on and a large natural arch.

COLORADO-

Rocky Mountain National Park

On June 4th, the park will implement a reservation system (get yours at www.recreation.gov). The reservations will go on sale on May 28th for reservations from June 4th to July 31st. The next release starts on July 1st for the month of August and the same system will continue for September and October. 

Don’t Miss:

On the popular 3.5 mile Emerald Lake hike, you’ll wind past Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Tyndall Creek with breathtaking views of the peaks before reaching Emerald Lake at 11,000 feet of elevation.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Reopened with access to the main park road, dunes parking area and dunefield, Medano Pass Primitive Road, Mosca Pass, Montville Nature, Sand Sheet Loop, Wellington Ditch, Dunes Overlook, Sand Ramp, Medano Lake, and Music Pass trails would reopen, along with all picnic areas at Mosca Creek, Sand Pit, and Castle Creek.

Don’t Miss:

To take in the dunes in a different way, try out sandboarding or sand sledding. You have to rent special boards off-site but it offers unique ways to explore the sand dunes.

Mesa Verde National Park

Open with access to the Mesa Top Loop Drive, Far View sites, Cliff Palace driving loop, park hiking trails, restrooms and the Chapin picnic area. The park’s concessions facilities opened, including Morefield Campground, Far View Lodge, Far View Terrace, and Spruce Tree Terrace.

Don’t Miss:

A trip to Mesa Verde National Park wouldn’t be complete without a tour of an Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling. Head out on a ranger-led tour to Balcony House, Cliff Palace, or Long House.

FLORIDA-

Everglades National Park

Open areas include Royal Palm, Research Road, Long Pine Key, West Lake, Guy Bradley Trail, and Coastal Prairie Trail, and Main Park Road. Guided tours resumed though on a reduced capacity basis. 

Don’t Miss:

Take the Road from Homestead to Flamingo — this 38 mile road will pass through all the natural habitats of Everglade National Park. Stop off and enjoy the hiking trails, boardwalks, and observation towers. At Anhinga Trail boardwalk you can watch wading birds and alligators up close.

MAINE-

Acadia National Park

Visitors will have access to the Park Loop Road and most associated restrooms. On June 5 the park will open its Carriage Roads to pedestrians.

Don’t Miss:

Explore the bike on the network of carriage roads — 45 mile of scenic and car-free cycling. There’s a mix of flat family-friendly loops to more challenging climbs and descents that provide a beautiful and unique look to the area.

MINNESOTA-

Voyageurs National Park 

On May 18 it reopened overnight tent camping and houseboat mooring sites and the rest of the park is open.

Don’t Miss:

Voyageurs National Park is northern nature at its finest. Rent a houseboat (they range from very basic to luxurious) and enjoy the 84,000 acres of water and 134,000 acres of boreal forest.

NEVADA-

Great Basin National Park

Entrance road to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, Scenic Drive, Baker Creek road and trailhead, Snake Creek road and trailhead, Strawberry Creek road and trailhead, are all open. Hiking trails at Great Basin are technically open, though many trails are still covered in deep snow at higher elevations.

Don’t Miss:

At the altitude of almost 7,000 feet, lies the Lehman caves. They consist of 1.5 miles of underground passages that were formed during the Ice Age made from pockets of limestone. Take a guided tour through the stalactites, flowstone, and delicate white crystals.

SOUTH DAKOTA-

Badlands National Park

Park roads, overlooks, campgrounds, and trails open but the visitor center and entrance stations are closed.

Don’t Miss:

To explore the Badlands by car, take off on the Badlands Loop Road. The 31-mile scenic road goes right through the middle of the park with plenty of viewpoints. If you want to add a hike to your trip, check out Notch Trail. The 1.5-mile path starts with a brief stroll through the canyon before it leads to a ladder up against a steep wall so it’s not for the faint of heart.

TENNESSEE-

Great Smoky National Park

Clingmans Dome Road is open. Access has returned to Cades Cove Loop Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Clingmans Dome Road, Deep Creek Road, Foothills Parkway, Gatlinburg Bypass, Greenbrier Road to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead, Lakeview Drive, Laurel Creek Road, Newfound Gap Road, Tom Branch Road, Tow String Road, and Wear Cove Road.

Don’t Miss:

Cades Cove is a fertile valley set amongst mountains that was home to the early Southern Appalachian settlers. You’ll see 18th and 19th century cabins, churches, and a working grist mill. This road circles the valley but you can also park and head off on a hike from here. Abrams Falls 5-mile round trip hike to a small but mighty waterfall.

UTAH-

Capitol Reef National Park 

Returned to full operations this week with most recreational opportunities available.

Don’t Miss:

Check out Sunset Point for dramatic views of Capitol Reef’s rock formations when the sun goes down. It’s a short .3 mile trail that leads right to the overlook from Sunset Point Trail.

Arches National Park

All park roads, trails, and restrooms open while campgrounds remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

To check out North America’s longest arch head to Landscape Arch. The 306 foot arch is at the end of an easy and flat 50-minute hike from Devils Garden trailhead making it accessible for the whole family.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The main park road and all viewpoints to Rainbow Point, restrooms at Sunset Point, Farview and Rainbow Points are open, and trails within the Bryce Amphitheater area.  The Mossy Cave area is open, though construction may close some areas temporarily.

Don’t Miss:

For a different perspective of Bryce Canyon, head to Inspiration Point which is home to three levels of viewpoints. Visitors can look towards Silent City with rows and rows of hoodoos. Inspiration Point is a great way to take in one of the greatest views of the United States and is accessible enough for even those with mobility issues.

Zion National Park

Zion Canyon has reopened though there would be no shuttles. The Angels Landing chain section is closed and The Kolob Canyons area of the park also remains closed.

Don’t Miss:

Zion National Park is one of those parks that offers stunning views just driving Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. For those looking for an adventure, take off on one of the best hikes in the park. Although the chain section of Angels Landing is closed, this 5-mile hike offers sweeping views of Zion Canyon.

VIRGINIA-

Shenandoah National Park

Reopened but only for day use. The entire Skyline Drive and all backcountry trails will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting June 30. However, the park lodges, visitor centers, picnic grounds, campgrounds, cabins, and historic structures will all remain closed for the time being. 

Don’t Miss:

To check out Shenandoah National Park by car, head to Skyline Drive. This 105-mile road runs the entire length of Shenandoah in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It offers scenic drives and plenty of overlooks to stop at.

WYOMING-

Grand Teton National Park

Reopened with access to primary roads, some public restrooms, day-use hiking, fishing, multi-use pathway system and several viewpoints. 

Don’t Miss:

Head to Jenny Lake during your time at Grand Teton. You can fish, swim, boat, or paddle around the waters or embark on a hike. There is a 7.5-mile hike around the trailhead or a shorter 1.5-mile hike to Hidden Falls.

Yellowstone National Park

All entrances are open. The entire Grand Loop Road is accessible besides the segment between Canyon and Tower which is under construction. Visitors can access most services and facilities. 

Don’t Miss:

A trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without visiting this ancient geyser. For the best viewing, head to Upper Geyser Basin in the early morning before the day’s visitors arrive. You’ll also want to check out Grand Prismatic Spring. To take in some of the attractions via car head to Scenic Loop Road. If you drive the lower loop you can take in Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Hopefully this gave you plenty of inspiration to book that last minute trip to a National Park! We’re hoping to check as many National Parks off our list as possible and just take such joy in documenting our travels and dreaming up our next adventure as a family. Have options, WILL TRAVEL.

Travel

We Got Cash Refunds For All Our Flights…Here’s How

First of all, let’s just all agree this sucks.

Having to cancel summer trips, reschedule adventures we’ve been dreaming about for months, maybe years….it totally sucking the wind out of our travel-loving sails.

BUT praise the Lord, we were able to get full cash refunds for ALL our flights….so we’re sharing here how we made it happen.

One day we WILL get back to Europe…but until then
we can dream about magical day trips from Rome

The Coronavirus has disrupted many things this spring, turning the travel industry completely on its head. The pandemic caused a historic shutdown of air travel in mid-March which just still feels unreal.

While US carriers cut down their flight routes up to 90% (wow, just insane), travelers are having to deal with canceled and delayed flights with endless changing schedules.

Some are fighting for refunds saying they have only been offered vouchers and fight credit, others are still waiting on refunds promised weeks ago. From long wait times (I STILL haven’t gotten through with Delta) to glitchy websites, there are plenty of obstacles to tackle when it comes to getting your money back.

So how do you navigate managing getting your money back during these unprecedented times? We outline a few tips on how to get your refund back in your pockets — and what exactly you are entitled to. 

Wait Until the Last Minute

For any planners out there, it may seem counterintuitive to wait until the last minute to handle these changes but trust us here. It is one of the easiest things to try when it comes to getting your money back — don’t voluntarily cancel the flight on your own.

By waiting until the airline cancel themselves (our Norway flight wasn’t cancelled until 7 days prior to departure!), it requires them to give your money back instead of a travel voucher. Don’t make any changes or accept a travel voucher until the very LAST possible minute, because when you make a voluntary change, they have no obligation to refund you. I know all you Type-A’s are cringing, but this is definitely the way to go on this one.

You Are Entitled to a Refund 

Point blank — if your flight is canceled or significantly changed (with American they told me the flights had to be changed a total of 61+ minutes or more) you are legally entitled to a refund.

Under the rules of the Department of Transportation, if your flight is canceled (no matter the reason) you are entitled to a full refund back to your original payment website. The DOT released a reinforcement on this issue on April 3 that this policy still applies during the pandemic. The DOT’s enforcement says that passengers should receive their refund within 7 business days if paid via credit card or within 20 days for cash and check.

Airline policies will differ from what they consider a significant schedule change. American Airlines just changed that time refund from 61 minutes to 4 hours given the mass changes happening from the pandemic, but this only applies to new ticket purchases. Delta allows refunds for trips that have been delayed by over 90 minutes and United requires a change of at least six hours.

With one of our Norway flights, it got changed from a direct flight to two connecting flights….and that also qualified us for a full refund (still just completely torn up we weren’t escapading through Europe this summer…have you seen our epic one month trip to Italy, babes in tow and all??)

If all else fails… try again

If the first representative you talk to says no, hang and try again…I had to call Scandinavian Airlines upwards of 5 times to finally get our $1200 refund (incredibly annoying YES…worth every penny, YES). With all of these rules in limbo, you might luck out and get an agent that is willing to assist you this time. You can also ask to speak to supervisors who probably have more authority to make it happen.

If you are still fighting an airline for a refund on a canceled flight, visit the Department of Transportation’s website to directly file a claim with them.

In contrast, some airlines are automatically issuing travel voucher credits when a flight is cancelled. Normally I’d be on board, but with travel being such a big question mark right now (someday we WILL get back to Europe), I don’t know about you, but I want my money back. This is exactly what Spirit tried to pull on us for our NY flight this summer, but thankfully I called, I pushed, I filed a claim for a refund online, and eventually got our flight fully reimbursed (PTL!).

How We Spent 1 Month in Italy for 1K HERE!

Have you had luck with your airline refunds? Will you be taking advantage of flight deals and rebooking in hopes to travel again? If you are still dreaming of some sort of adventure for this summer, but not sure what it might look like…take a look at our post HERE!

Travel

My Travel Plans Were Cancelled…Now What?

YUCK right?? Let’s all have a moment of silence for all the adventures planned that never were this summer.

(We personally had to cancel an epic family trip planned for Norway this May…and honestly I just try not to think about it too much because it’s too heartbreaking)

Traveling for Americans will look vastly different this summer. While most people had to cancel their spring trips (take a look at how we got full cash refunds for each and every flight HERE), their summer vacations are still looming in uncertainty. Spring was spent with plenty of time inside doing puzzles, wearing sweatpants, and taking up plenty of new hobbies. So now that warm weather is rolling around, we are sitting here wondering how can we scratch that adventure itch…anyone else?!

While the U.S. Department of State is still advising Americans to avoid all international travel, domestic travel (more specifically outdoor oriented travel) seems to be the answer for travel for now…because we need something, right?!

So how will this summer look? We’re digging into positivity and rounded up a couple of ways to make the most out of this unexpected season — while still being safe!

Rise of the Road Trip

Road trips…surprise, surprise… predicting this summer will be heightened unlike anything before. People are opting for car travel over plane travel as a direct response to the pandemic (this is definitely what we are thinking!)

Experts are also seeing a rise of RV travel (anyone else have a never before urge to purchase a camper and get on the road?!)— they offer a sense of freedom and safety which is the perfect sentiment during these unprecedented times. Minimizing risk because you are confining your travel and lodging into the same self-contained environment, while still itching that travel bug is the name of the game.

This site seems to be the best resource for renting RV’s for those cross country adventures.

And for good measure, here are some suggestions from the CDC to ensure your travel is as safe as possible.

  1. Anticipate your needs before you go so you can minimize stops.
  2. Prepare food, water, and snacks for the road.
  3. Pack a sufficient amount of alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitizer.
  4. Bring disinfect and other cleaning supplies.

So why not take advantage of this situation to plan a summer road trip? While international travel may not resume for a while, we can still see across the United States and our own backyards. Take this as an opportunity to visit those close-to-you destinations that you may have ruled out before. Visit an old favorite in your home state or introduce your family to a trip you often went on as a kid.

Get Outdoors

We think travelers will also be leaning towards summer vacations that explore the great outdoors. Travelers will head outside to state and national parks because they feel the safest and will most likely be open to the public.

National Parks are expecting to experience the largest visitation growth periods in history (YES!) as everyone is clamoring to be outside again. With this new influx of visitors, the NPS will be implementing new safety measures. We planned a last minute getaway to the Smoky Mountain National Park because we were dessssppperraateee for a change of scenery – but check out our full list of National Parks open now and what to do once you get there HERE.

Return to full operations will continue to be phased and some services may be limited. If you choose to travel (or are lucky enough to live by) a national park, there are a few simple safety guidelines across the board to take into consideration when visiting.

  • Comply with state and local guidance, just because the park is open doesn’t mean you should go.
  • Continue to follow the social distancing rule of 6 feet.
  • During COVID-19, resources you may be used to might not be available so remember to always pack items like water, park maps, and food.
  • Avoid crowded areas — trails will have limitations making them more crowded than usual so avoid peak times and popular areas.
  • Don’t approach wildlife. While this is always the case, with much of the population indoors this spring, areas have seen an increase in wildlife activity.

AND If you can’t get to a national park soon, remember you can always visit virtually! SO cool!

Here is a list of National Parks that are partially open or have dates to reopen soon.

US National Parks That Are Open Now

  • Denali National Park, Alaska (backpacking areas open, but climbing season suspended)
  • Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (entrance/trail use by permit only)
  • Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (some areas open)
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona (day use only)
  • Joshua Tree National Park, California (roads and limited trails open)
  • Redwood National Park, California (day use only)
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado (day use only)
  • Biscayne National Park, Florida (trails, boat launches, and restrooms open)
  • Everglades National Park, Florida (day-use area and some beach campsites)
  • Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky (trail use only)
  • Great Basin National Park, Nevada (trails and visitor centers open)
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (day use only)
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio (trails open, clockwise travel only)
  • Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota (limited trail open)
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (day use only)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (limited trails open, day use only)
  • Zion National Park, Utah (day use only)
  • Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands (trails and beaches open)
  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (backcountry areas open)
  • Olympic National Park, Washington (day use only)
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (roads, hiking trails, and fishing areas)
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (south entrance, some roads, trails, and restrooms open)

National Parks Scheduled to Open

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (currently closed, reopening limited areas May 22-25)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (plans for reopening scheduled for May 27)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, Colorado (opening June 4)
  • Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (trails and backcountry camping opening May 19)
  • Arches National Park, Utah (opening May 29, backcountry access opening May 30)
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah (opening May 29)
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas (opening June 1)
  • Parks Canada National Parks (multiple parks opening June 1)
  • Canada National Parks Campgrounds (scheduled to open after June 21)
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (opening June 3)
  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan (opening after June 14)
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (mid-June)
  • Katmai National Park, Alaska (camping suspended until July 1)

State and local parks also offer hiking, biking, and camping in order to get outside. Public lands managed by the National Forest Service offer miles and miles of wide-open spaces to enjoy that will likely be less busy than national parks.

When not planning our last-minute National Park trip, we have been LIVING at our local nature preserve! It’s like a little mini-vacation, and bonus it’s only 15 minutes from our house.

Take advantage of local favorites to plan a weekend with all the outdoor activities that leave you feeling filled to the brim — a campfire, s’ mores, and a beautiful hike. Pack a picnic and take it to your local state park to enjoy.

Travel WILL happen this summer… though “normal” travel will not return for quite some time (queue all the crying emojis). While you may not be able to head off to your trip overseas (remember that one time we lived in Italy for a month??), it’s still possible to make the most of this summer.

After all, after months of quarantine, any trip will feel like a dream vacation.

Travel

Essentials to Take on Your Next Overseas Flight

A long haul flight means one thing (besides a super exciting destination on the other side 🙂 ) – P R E P A R A T I O N.

Whether it’s products to help you catch some much-needed shut-eye or a few items that make traveling just a little easier, we’ve rounded up some international travel essentials we really feel make a difference in chaos versus calm.

While passports and foreign currency are always at the top of the list, we always ask ourselves, “what can make this the easiest trip yet?” Prepare for anything on international flights with our favorite go-to products that are just as stylish as they are useful…a must in our book.

brandless-4gEbivsYPEg-unsplash

1. If you haven’t heard of Away luggage yet, get out under that rock you’re living under! Every trip, whether international or local, deserves a great suitcase and Away makes some of the best of them. A sturdy suitcase in a trendy color will ensure you never mistake a bag for your own at baggage claim again— they even offer custom painting, engraving (on metal) or stickers to further personalize.

81676cb6-13e5-48d0-aa10-8a4d98322b5e

2. Save your hair and skin the trouble of dealing with hotel mini toiletries while traveling. Just because you’re living out of a hotel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have luxe products to get ready with like this Aesop travel kit. Feeling fresh and put together after a long flight can make or break your jet lag or lack there of….

wayfaren-318_06b20bc1-a12a-4d51-835d-561a73a3a5a1_1296x

3. Call us biased but we think part of a great trip is writing down the memories and a minimal journal to keep them in. Utilize all your time spent on trains, planes, and automobiles to journal about your experiences traveling abroad….you are going to thank yourself when you’re reminising down memory lane 10 years from now.

Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 12.24.16 PM

4. Packing your toiletries will be a streamlined and stylish process with these Cuyana travel cases. Keep one in your carry on with all your inflight skincare and makeup essentials (TSA approved!) to freshen up on board. These cases are SO high quality and just beautifully made.

51grov8N3kL

5. Keep this handy menu in your purse to help decipher common meals and drinks from Spain to Italy— especially when the cafe doesn’t offer wifi. No bigger than a credit card, these compact and useful A-Z guides will make sure you end up order squid eggs at that foreign restaurant.

61BWZq2XTPL._SL1500_

6. And all the OCD travel germaphobes said AMEN….for wipes that are as polished as they are handy, reach for these essential oil towelettes. Also available in lavender, orange, and peppermint, essential oils are a great alternative to alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They will kill germs while the aromatherapy benefits can reduce stress and anxiety of an international flight.

1469-02B_HBV_ROSE_HIBISCUS_ECOMM_20OZ

7. Freshen up with this rose hibiscus hydrating face mist. Everyone knows traveling can be super drying for your skin and this mist will help you feel hydrated on board and awake and refreshed when you land after a long haul flight.

301

8. Why do we always feel so icky after a long flight?? Dehydration! A collapsible water bottle will ensure you stay hydrated while traveling without the bulk of a full water bottle. These Que bottles come in the chicest colors ensuring you stylish and hydrated travels.

Metal_Silver_Toothbrush_2700x2700

9. The perfect in-between of flimsy plastic toothbrushes and the classic bulky electric ones, a Quip toothbrush won’t take up room in your carry-on while still giving you a deep clean. Because of its sleek properties, keep in your carry on for longer flights…I always, always head to the bathroom on board to brush my teeth after an international trip. Such a little thing that makes me feel ready to tackle jet lag!

61ZRwuvQ4WL._AC_SL1200_

10. The only adaptor you ever need….no more random messes of various bags of adaptors you’ve had through a variety of trips. No matter where your travels take you, this universal adaptor charger should be in your carry on. With 4 international plug adapters, this charger works in over 150 countries.

61yP0zdprkL._AC_SL1000_

11. Sleeping well on a plane may seem like an anomaly, but to wake up feeling refreshed after an international trip, we will try ANYTHING! A comfortable silk sleep mask is a great place to start. Pair these with earplugs or your favorite noise-canceling headphones for the greatest possible potential at SLEEP on your long haul flight.

Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 3.27.22 PM12. Pair the above with these Noise-canceling headphones and you are sure to catch some Z’s. Headphones are imperative to drown out the noise of an airplane and catch some shut-eye on longer flights. These emerald green versions are as pretty as they are useful.

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 3.55.09 PM

13. Hallelujah to the person who invented the first portable, outlet free charger. We love this Calpak portable battery that also doubles as a chic luggage tag (also available to monogram) because portable chargers are a must for long layovers and even longer travel days.

Here’s to you next easiest flight yet! We are already dreaming up our next international destination – Cheers friends!

 

Travel

7 Winter Getaways That Will Make You Want to Book a Ticket NOW

Whether you’re looking to escape to a warm-weather paradise or a winter wonderland, we’ve gathered some of the best getaways to check out for these last few months of winter. From classic traditions in the Big Apple to the food scene in Savannah to sled-dog rides in Bend, Oregon, we’ve got a well-deserved vacation for everybody on this list.

I don’t know about you but we are constantly dreaming up that next destination and reminiscing on past trips…and the winter makes us especially eager for a getaway. See the round up below!

Miami

jason-briscoe--T0La6F_WrE-unsplash

Trade in the cold for the hot sunny weather of Miami where the average temperature in January is 76 degrees. Spend your days basking in the sun and your evenings enjoying a cocktail on a rooftop bar or checking out the nightlife in South Beach. January and February are actually perfect months to vacation in Miami as hurricane season lasts from June to October bringing potential stormy weather. So what are you waiting for? Get lost in the Cuban food of Little Havana, explore the art in Wynwood, or relax in the sand on Miami beach.

New York City

heather-shevlin-KaDO53R3AHw-unsplash

Winter in the Big Apple is truly like no other. From the skating in Rockefeller plaza to the department store window displays, there is something for everybody to enjoy during this time of year. There is something about seeing the city under a fresh blanket of snow that is just pure MAGIC. Use this opportunity to explore beyond tourist favorite attractions and cuddle up in cozy bars and restaurants. Heading to Brooklyn will give you a taste of what everyday New Yorkers spend their time doing. Enjoy the views Dumbo has to offer or the eclectic shops of Williamsburg.

Savannah, Georgia

jessica-furtney-htdBI4TbIBM-unsplash

Savannah is the perfect winter escape because you’re able to skip out on the crowds and the humidity that summer in the south brings. This picturesque town does have varying temps during the wintertime, but with cheaper room rates it’s the perfect time to enjoy the southern hospitality. Explore the roads lined with Spanish moss and rows of trees. It also has a bustling food scene, full of authentic Southern food as well as mixes of various cultures from British and beyond. Soho South Cafe and Collins Quarter remain local and visitor favorites for cafes and eateries.

Berkshires, Massachusetts

thomas-kelley-A15MNH421yU-unsplash

You might automatically picture quintessential New England in a warm summer breeze, but it’s actually a dreamy destination to check out during the winter as well. Explore the small towns, open roads, and cabins and barns covered in snow. Head out on an adventure to cross country ski or snowshoe or spend the weekend snuggled up in a cozy cabin. Check out Blantyre hotel which boasts amenities like four-poster beds, fireplaces, and just idyllic grounds. They will set you up to enjoy winter picnics, ice skating, or even a sleigh ride all accompanied with homemade hot chocolate.

Yellowstone National Park

katelyn-wamsley-7Ig1ZGN7M0c-unsplash

Sure the summer months at Yellowstone garner up to 97% of the park’s three million annual visitors, but that doesn’t mean winter isn’t a good time to visit the historic national park. Enjoy the peace and seclusion that winter brings in the 2.2 million acres of beautiful scenery. Stay in the Old Faithful Snow Lodge where you can enjoy cozy nights with thick quilts before you venture out during the day for activities. Fill your days with cross-country skiing or snowshoeing throughout the thousands of miles in the park. You’ll have the pleasure of viewing erupting geysers, frozen waterfalls, and brightly-colored mineral pools in addition to viewing large bison in the wild. You can even head to Yellowstone Lake to ice skate!

Santa Fe, New Mexico

chris-murray-bnx1q6oX_UI-unsplash

Head down south for winter with a trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico. It is easily accessible, only forty minutes from Albuquerque, where you can take an uber from city to city or take the local train making hourly trips. Sante Fe is chock full of things to check out- the art, the food, the shopping, the unique southwestern experience. If you’re looking to warm up inside, check out Meow Wolf an indoor expansive art installation. Buy your tickets in advance to explore this immersive art experience that uses storytelling and mystery to transport visitors to fantastical realms. Head to downtown to walk around and explore the shops while scents of New Mexico’s state tree piñon pine intoxicate you.

Bend, Oregon

adrian-BplvneYmh8Y-unsplash

The Pacific Northwest makes for a wonderful winter destination. Located just a few hours south of Portland, Bend is a haven for outdoor winter sports. Check out Tumalo Falls for cross country skiing or snowshoeing, Mount Bachelor for snowboarding and skiing, or sledding at Darke Park or Dutchman Flat. Many tour companies will lead you on a moonlight snowshoe tour or head into the city for a beer tour instead. Some trails often remain snow-free in winter at Oregon Desert Trail if you prefer to hike instead. You can even go for a sled-dog ride! If you run out of options to explore, check out the town of Sisters (22 miles away) for boutiques, galleries, and picturesque winter experiences.

Are you off to visit anywhere this winter?! We’d love to hear! Let us know in the comments below!

Budget Travel

Make Money While You Travel…BUT REALLY

Money, money, moneyyyyyy.

It’s got to be the #1 reason you don’t travel as much as you would like….are we right?! Because, as you know, adventuring is not cheap.

This has always been our biggest limitation in regards to vacationing as a family. Especially, as because the more our family grew, the more dollars we were cashing out for each trip.

This also was one of the biggest factors in why we were slow as mud to jump on traveling internationally with kids….”But it is SO much money, just to get over there!”…”Shouldn’t we wait and spend that money when we can *actually* enjoy it.”

LIES. ALL LIES.

Life is short friends, way too short to wait to go to Europe once the kids are out of the house.

The problem: travel is expensive.

The solution: Enter the literal most BRILLIANT idea we’ve ever had.

When planning our trip to Italy, we knew we needed to find some way to offset the costs of not only traveling overseas for a month, but also covering the expenses of our bills here (more on how we spent 1 month in Italy for $1k here).

Insert our means of making money while we travel HERE- Monetizing something that is ours, when we aren’t using it.

And so the idea of listing our own house on AirBnb whilst away on vacation came to life- and it was the most glorious, brilliant, divine, idea we’ve ever had.

Here’s how it works folks- we know the dates we will be away on a trip (whether that’s 2 days or 2 months), we open up those dates on our AirBnb listing, people book our home, we make money WHILE we travel…by doing NOTHING. We then simply try to find a stay in our vacation destination around the same total we make off our home while away.

Now, this isn’t for everyone. We’ve gotten the looks…..”You do what?!”….”So, you let people stay in YOUR house? Oh, I could never do that.”…”Isn’t that weird that strangers have been staying in your home?”

We totally get it. But for us, as long as they don’t sleep in our sheets and it allows us to more easily hit that book button on our next adventure…it’s an undeniable YES.

Below we are answering some FAQ’s/tips we typically get about renting our house out on AirBnb while we travel. Go ahead and get your own listing started HERE and earn $40 with your first booking (plus significantly reducing your travel expenses)-

  • Don’t feel like your house has to be PERFECT to be able to do this! – We had sooo many projects still left on the list the first time we booked our house during a trip (including a arm length hole in our laundry room wall). The only non-negotiable? That it’s CLEAN. Perfectly styled and every single project completed is absolutely not necessary.
  • Get professional photos taken– We reached out to our realtor and were able to get pictures taken of our house for $100! Worth every penny for how quickly those photos help our listing move. There has not been a single trip we haven’t had someone book our home since the inception of this idea in Spring of 2018!
  • Allot your Cleaning Fee to cover a pre and post cleaning– When setting up your listing, you will have the option to input a cleaning fee for guests. Use this to your advantage! We have our fee cover a cleaning before we leave (we’ve done it the hard way and attempted to get out home spick and span ourselves pre-travel and it was just wayyyy too stressful). Now we just straighten up pre-departure and leave the heavy lifting to someone else! And one of the very, very best parts of all of this?? Drumroll please…..You come home after a trip to a SPARKLING CLEAN house. Friends, is there ANYTHING better?!
  • What about your valuables? We are fairly minimalist (read our list of travel essentials for the less is more mama here), so we honestly do not have any “valuables” other than our laptop and a necklace or two. Options here are- lock your items in a safe, have a friend/family member hold onto them during your trip, or if the items are small enough, take them with you! You have the ability to approve or deny every single person that books your home…so check out their reviews, message them, get a feel for their character if you can. We have never once had an issue with this, or had a single item shown up missing/damaged, nor had anything but a pleasant experience with our travelers!
  • What about damage to the home? Shout out to AirBnb, because for every single host (at absolutely no additional cost to you) they offer their “Host Guarantee.” This provides you “property damage protection of up to $1 million USD for every host and every listing.” So truly, you have nothing to lose. Thankfully, we have yet to experience any damage or loss, but feel super confident knowing this is here as a back-up protection if needed. Go on, start setting up your own listing here now!
  • Second set of “AirBnb” guest towels and sheets– The one thing that weirded me out in thinking about other people staying in our home was them sleeping in our sheets (too weird right?!). That was my one non-negotiable with this whole idea. So we invested in a a very basic set of sheets and towels to pull out only when we have a booking. Once we get home our own sheets go back on and it’s like no one was ever there!

Use the link HERE to get your listing set up and earn $40 with your first booking (plus significantly reducing your travel expenses)! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. We would love to help you get out and adventure more in any way we can!

Travel

What to Pack when Traveling with a Baby (for the Minimalist Mama)

Traveling with kids is already a challenge right?! What you are packing and bringing along should work for you and not against you…can I get an AMEN? We are all about less is more in our family. So we’ve compiled our list below our essentials for what to pack when traveling with a baby, for the minimalist mama.

Because the less you bring, the more free hands you have. And the more free hands you have, the more easily you can chase around those wild children, right?

Make your next trip more joyful, less stressful. Less stuff, more memories.

DSC_0623-2

What to Pack When Traveling With a Baby – The Essentials

  • Gathre Mat – This mat has SAVED us on so many trips (our favorite size is the Midi). Goodbye disgusting airport floor and hello picnic at any moment. These mats are crazy durable, wipeable, and protect those little babes from any germs you want far, far away…and the beautiful designs don’t hurt either. Who says you can’t travel with little AND keep an ounce of your sense of style?!ChicagoAirport1
  • Fawn Backpack– Super high quality and exactly the amount of compartments you need, nothing else you don’t. A diaper bag that is just as beautiful as it is functional (my kind of baby gear). Fits perfectly under the airplane seats, isn’t too bulky for pedestrian adventures. Also, Dad might not be completely opposed to carrying this one as well! (Pictured below!)Italy1
  • Headphones– These are great. Super affordable, don’t fall off, fold up super compactly. I love the rubber-like band that means kids not easily breaking and pulling them apart! You seriously can’t beat this price too.
  • Water Coloring Book – Our go-to travel activity for kids because there aren’t 165739 pieces to loose or a massive mess to make. Yes, you can absolutely pack ALL the activities to keep kids occupied (themed zippered bags, window clings, and the like)…I am just not that mom. The simpler the better in our family. For a bit older kids, our go-to is the sticker puzzle books. Again, totally mess free and crazy easy to travel with.
  • Baby Carrier – If I could only bring ONE thing on this entire what to pack when traveling with a baby list, a baby carrier would be it. A non-negotiable for traveling with babies. The Ergo is a very sturdy option for travel and we love the Happy! Baby Carrier if you are going to a warmer destination and want something a bit more lightweight. We attempted to trek around Rome in our Solly Baby wrap, and although we love it for at home, it’s just not practical for travel.

What to Pack When Traveling With a Baby Continued…

  • Golden Books – Thin and super easy to pack a few of these books without taking over your entire bag!
  • iPad– Need I say more?
  • Dirty Diaper trash bags– Because it WILL happen in the worst moment in the worst possible location. What to pack when traveling with a baby 101: prepare for the nightmare scenario….because let’s be honest when it comes to parenting that is just how it goes.
  • Summer Infant Travel Stroller – This stroller has been with us in the cobblestone streets of Italy, to the hills of San Francisco, to the Redwood Mountains, and countless airports. SO durable, lightweight, easy to fold-up, and has an attachable shade (important for those long sunny travel days), and can lean back for the glorious, coveted stroller nap!DSC_0122

A Few Final Traveling with Baby Essentials

  • Clip-on High Chair – If your Airbnb or hotel does not provide a high chair (preferable), we love this thing and it makes meals so easy with a little while away. Folds up super compact and allows you to eat with a babe ANYWHERE!
  • JetKids Ride Box – It’s a carry-on, it’s a ride-on, its a suitcase, it’s a bed! This is the one item on the list we don’t have but is at the TOP of our list for our next big adventure. We tried the more economical blow-up travel foot rest pillow for our eldest to be able to lay down and sleep on longer flights and it was a disaster. This will definitely be worth the investment.
  • Thermos – Still have a milk drinker and are going to be traveling for long stents? Bring this sippy cup and this one alone! Stainless steel and will keep liquids cold all day, but not as pricey as the hydroflasks!
  • Travel Journal – Despite the chaos around you, you are going to want to soak up every.single.bit. of your trip…because a year from now looking back at those memories will be so very sweet and you’ll want to somehow transport back in time. A beautiful travel journal with everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

IMG_5114

Thinking about what to pack when traveling with a baby truly does not need to be complicated, because honestly less is SO much more. If you’re not convinced yet, see our 10 reasons why you NEED (I know, I know it’s a big claim…but hear us out) to be traveling with your kids as often as you’re able. (And why it can actually be, dare we say, FUN?!) Cheers to many more adventures with littles in tow being as free of stress and as packed with memories as possible!

Travel

The BEST Day Trip From Rome

Have a bit of an extended stay in Rome? Then you MUST…read you’ll be totally missing out if you don’t make it here…MUST make a point to take a day trip to Sperlonga, Italy. We are 100% convinced it is Italy’s secret hidden gem.

Sperlonga is tiny beach town about 1.5 hours away from the Rome city center. White washed Italian home lined cliffs, bougainvillea covered streets, white sandy beaches overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Tyrrhenian sea- this place is a MAGIC.

DSC_0618

DSC_0356

Dating back to the 1950’s, Sperlonga used to be a hidden getaway for movie stars and actors from Rome and we can completely see why.

So if you only are able to take one day trip from Rome, this.is.it.

GETTING THERE

Take the train from Termini out to Fondi-Sperlonga. You can purchase tickets ahead of time on Tren Italia or GoEuro, or simply use the straightforward self-service stations at Termini. You will most likely be looking for the train headed to Naples. Tickets are 6.50 Euro one way and only a little over an hour ride there….a steal for the beauty you’re about to bathe in.

DSC_0941-2

DSC_0003

Hop off at the Fondi stop (Note: the train station is not labeled Sperlonga, pay close attention as many times the Italian trains have no announcement or screen notifying you of each stop) and simply go through the train station exit and immediately head to your right to the bus stop.

From here, you will wait for a bus that takes you to Sperlonga beach. The bus is 1.50 Euro (cash only) and only about a 15 minute drive to the coast.

PRO TIP: Make certain to look up the return train and bus times before leaving (and screenshot them on your phone) so you know what your return options are before heading home! We have definitely learned the hard way on some European excursions and were stranded in a town with no way back to the city until the next day…not the WORST problem in the world, right?! But important to note.

*If you can take longer than a day trip, we say go, go, go! We initially went out for just a few hours, but fell in love with the little seaside town so much we decided to go back for an overnight stay. Because goodness THAT view in the morning from the sea facing balcony, cappuccino in hand- WORTH IT. (We recommend Florenza Residence or Hotel Aurora…anything with that view though)

DSC_0238-2

DSC_0465

DSC_0231-2

DSC_0444

WORTH NOTING

There will be two main stops on the bus to Sperlonga, the first one at the top of the hill in the historic center, and the second at the beach. Do yourself a favor and get off at the top of the city center and meander your way down to the water. The winding pathways of bougainvillea covered doorways and white washed cobblestone paths are pure magic and not to be missed.

Also note- If bringing a stroller, this is also the recommend route, as there really is no easy way to get back up to the city center once down at the beach….trust us we learned the sweaty and exhaustingly hard way 🙂

DSC_0873

DSC_0663-2

DSC_0459

DSC_0470

AT THE BEACH

The beach is split up into various “sections”- a public strip of sand (no umbrellas and free to anyone who chooses) and several private groups of umbrellas. Each private area typically has a resort or hut of some kind associated with it. It is 20 euro to rent an umbrella with two chairs for the day and well worth the comfort and reprieve from the hot Italian sun.

There are showers and places to rinse off your feet at the back of the shore and we even heard waiters come around to take aperitif orders around 5pm daily…What?!

DSC_0254

DSC_1000-2

DSC_0057-5

DSC_0125-5

Take a walk down the beach and you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and a nice amusement park type area for little ones- a small playground, trampoline park, a carousel, and train. Keep in mind the rides do not open until 5pm though! (Another reason to book that oversight stay!)

DSC_0964

DSC_0262

DSC_0623-2

DSC_0638-2

DSC_0195-2

This little hidden gem of a city is still beautifully untouched from the wave of summer escapading Italian tourists and probably one of our very favorite parts of our month long stay in Rome (read how we spent 1 month in Italy for 1k here)!

We’re convinced Sperlonga is Italy’s best kept secret and the perfect way to escape the bustling city of Rome for a day or two. Comment below and let us know if you make it out there, we would love to hear what you think!

DSC_0287

DSC_0248