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5 Top Packing Hacks for Carry-On Travel

Looking for the best tips and tricks for packing in a carry-on? You’ve come to the right place!

As a self-proclaimed packing nerd, I love to share the travel hacks I’ve learned over the many years I’ve been traveling with a carry-on – for both domestic and international trips! It can feel daunting trying to cram everything into a tiny, poorly designed suitcase. That’s why I’m super picky about the luggage I use.

This may be a bold statement, but I truly believe that the suitcase and packing tools you choose can either make or break your entire trip. After trying to haul a heavy suitcase with broken wheels five miles uphill in Italy, let’s just say I learned my lesson. (There may or may not have been crying involved.)

In this post, I’m going to share my top packing hacks and recommendations with you, so you can hopefully avoid your own nervous breakdown while traveling! You can thank me later.

Looking for easy packing tips and ideas on how to save money by traveling with a carry-on only? Check out this helpful guide by a frequent traveler! #carryon #travel #travelpro #luggage #traveltips

1. Choose The Right Suitcase

Let’s start off with the most important building block of successful packing – your luggage. If you, like me, like to save money and the hassle of waiting around at baggage claim by traveling with carry-on luggage only, you know how vital it is that your suitcase is well made and has plenty of space to organize!

While researching the best luggage companies a few years ago, kept coming up as a top traveler favorite. I’d heard of Travelpro® before, and knew my own family members used and loved their suitcases. I also found out that Travelpro® has been the brand of choice for professional flight crews and frequent flyers (for over 25 years!), which obviously made me trust the brand even more.

After my last suitcase kicked the bucket, I decided to go with the Travelpro® Crew™ 11 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter, which is a beautiful soft sided suitcase built with high-quality ballistic nylon fabric (it even has DuraGuard® coating for stain and abrasion resistance, which is great for frequent travelers like me who want their luggage to hold up for many years).

The Crew™ 11 range is Travelpro®’s flagship collection and has the perfect combination of durability, modern technology and style. These beauties are so high-quality and clearly made with lasting use and style in mind. The collection is available in four colors including Black, Indigo, Brown, and Patriot Blue (I opted for Patriot Blue).

2. Get Organized

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’m sure we all know (or are) that person whose suitcase constantly looks like it exploded one day into their trip. Staying organized while on the road is such a great way to keep stress levels down and truly enjoy your travels!

When you know where things are, and they’re easy to locate, you save time, worry and possibly your relationships – because let’s face it, no one wants to wait for their friend or significant other to rifle through their bags for an hour when they could be out exploring.

My top tip for staying organized while traveling is to divide and conquer! Let me tell you, having a bunch of different pouches and compartments is a life-saver while packing (and while traveling!) because it keeps things so well organized. For instance, I use a backpack with plenty of compartments such as a padded laptop pocket, small zippered section inside the top flap, a big zippered side compartment, a side pocket for water bottles, etc.

To divide things up even further, I use pouches and small bags (think pencil case sized or small cosmetic bags) to separate things by use. One pouch for any medicine or health-related items, a hard-sided case for all my cords and memory cards, a carry-on friendly pouch for all my liquids and creams – you get the picture. I love a good pouch!

Some suitcases have surprisingly bad design, making packing a huge chore. Knowing that my suitcase has enough space to easily pack all of my stuff is such a relief! Travelpro® designs its luggage to help you pack more efficiently, making travel easier and less stressful – which is such a lifesaver.

3. Utilize The Space In Your Luggage Effectively

Knowing where all your things are (and not having to freak out every day looking for items in a messy suitcase) is SO nice. Once I started using smaller suitcases like my Travelpro® Crew™ 11 21″ Expandable Spinner Suiter, I realized I had to make better use of the space in order to make it all fit.

I survived a long, two month trip around Europe with just a carry-on, and absolutely loved how freeing it was! If I can make the switch to carry-on only travel, anyone can. All it takes is a bit of creativity, the right suitcase, and some helpful space-saving tools.

Packing cubes have been another valuable discovery since becoming a carry-on traveler over six years ago. I use them to separate items by category (rolled up underwear in one packing cube, all my socks in another, tank tops in another, etc). It makes staying organized on the road (and getting dressed!) infinitely easier, not to mention all the physical space it saves in your suitcase!

My Travelpro® suitcase also has expansion capability of up to 21″ for maximized storage, in case I want to add a little extra space while on the road. An interior full length pocket, side mesh and wet pockets provide lots of smart and easy packing options, which I love. It’s so nice to be able to pack everything away in its own designated place and not have to worry about items ending up in one big, confusing pile inside my luggage!

4. The Less Clothes, The Better

Especially if you’re traveling during the summertime months, and will be in a warm climate, dresses (if you’re into them!) are such a great option. You can pack lots of undergarments and simply wear the dress over and over again, since they tend to not get dirty very quickly.

I find that I only need a few shirts as well. Shirts and tops can usually be worn many times without feeling grubby. If I’m wearing pants, I like to wear a clean pair of leggings every other day – so I tend to pack more of those. Same for underwear – the more, the better. Then you can do laundry far less often!

Another common sense tip many of us frequently forget:

If you don’t wear it when you’re home, you probably won’t wear it while traveling.

I know it can be tempting to want to pack that super cute romper that’s been sitting in your closet for the past year, thinking you’ll finally get some use out of it. But guess what? If you haven’t worn it lately, it’s probably for a reason. Don’t pack a bunch of new or random clothes and expect to suddenly want to wear them. I always opt for tried and true favorites that I know are comfortable!

Looking for the perfect Europe winter packing list? Check this one out!

Looking for easy packing tips and ideas on how to save money by traveling with a carry-on only? Check out this helpful guide by a frequent traveler! #carryon #travel #travelpro #luggage #traveltips

5. Buy A Luggage Scale

If you’re packing in a carry-on and flying internationally (particularly on multiple budget airlines), you’ll have to check each airline’s weight limits and make sure you’re well under them to avoid the insanely high baggage fees. I’ve been thinking about compiling a big list of airline weight and size limits for the blog, let me know down in the comments if you think that would be helpful!

There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport and having your baggage come in over the weight limit. The panic that ensues when you realize you’ll either have to get super sneaky or throw away a third of your precious belongings in the trash is not fun. Don’t put yourself through that.

There are lots of scales available online for less than $10. These bad boys definitely pay for themselves with all the money you save on checked or overweight baggage fees. I highly recommend grabbing one before your next trip!

And there you have it! My top 5 packing hacks for carry-on travel. I hope this quick guide was helpful!

Happy travels!

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Best Boutique Hotel In Brooklyn: A Peek Inside Hotel RL

A Quick Note About The Hello Rewards Program

Before we dive in to the rest of this post, I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to RLH Corporation’s brand new Hello Rewards program! Their guest recognition perks actually offer real rewards to the everyday American traveler. Forget exclusive “elite status” climbing and arbitrary points you’ll never use. Hard pass.

Instead, Hello Rewards offers instant gratification! For example, get $10 in your “Hello Bucks” bank for every night you stay that you can then use towards breakfast, your next stay, and much more. Hello Rewards are easy to use and help make the booking process even easier, making their hotels perfect for road-trippers and other last-minute travelers.

In addition to each set of Hello Bucks you earn, all Hello Rewards members qualify for a 10% standard discount as a loyalty perk. Doesn’t get much better than that! Learn more about Hello Rewards here.

Bonus: If you book your stay at one of RLH Corporation’s hotels using my code Voyager, you’ll receive 30 Hello Bucks when booking to use towards a future trip!

Hotel RL Brooklyn is one of RLH Corporation’s beautifully designed boutique hotels, located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Situated right between the neighborhoods of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, surrounded by vibrant murals and an active community, a stay at Hotel RL offers a unique window into what life in Brooklyn is really like. Side note: Bushwick was the first neighborhood I lived in when I moved to Brooklyn almost ten years ago!

Visiting New York City can often be overwhelming, pricey and exhausting. But when you choose to stay in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, away from the touristy hustle and bustle of Manhattan, you will be rewarded with a much more relaxing, authentic experience at a fraction of the cost of other NYC area hotels. Hotel RL offers mid-range pricing with fantastic amenities and boutique design elements – a combination you won’t find elsewhere.

Looking for a real NYC experience?

You won’t find it staying at a tourist-trap hotel in the middle of Times Square. (In fact, let me encourage you to stay far, far away from Times Square at all costs. Ahem.) The best way to get an authentic glimpse of NYC is to pick a hotel in a neighborhood that still retains its original character.

Hotel RL Brooklyn provides exactly that, while adding in a hefty helping of friendly service, a welcoming environment unlike any other hotel in its class, and superior accommodations.

Whether you’re traveling for business or simply taking a vacation, Hotel RL Brooklyn will make you feel right at home!

What’s Special About Hotel RL Brooklyn?

Well, quite a few things make Hotel RL stand out, but one of my personal favorite reasons is their commitment to community engagement and improvement. They currently have several initiatives in place that offer their guests opportunities to educate themselves and get involved with local charities and other projects making a positive impact.

The organization spotlighted by Hotel RL Brooklyn is the amazing Ali Forney Center for LGBTQIA+ homeless youth in New York City. The Ali Forney Center’s mission is to protect LGBTQIA+ youth from the dangers of homelessness while empowering them with the tools and resources they need to live independently. Find out more about their incredibly important work here.

Another awesome incentive that Hotel RL offers in exchange for helping the community is a complimentary night at the Hotel RL of your choice when you donate $100 or more (terms and conditions apply). Any and all donations are welcome and will be directed to your selected charity organization. How awesome is that?!

What Hotel Amenities Does Hotel RL Offer?

  • Accessible rooms (including rooms with roll-in showers)
  • Pet-friendly stays
  • A beautiful co-working space open all day
  • Restaurant with delicious offerings
  • Live performances at The Living Stage
  • A bar (both regular and coffee bar)
  • Breakfast

Want Local Recommendations For The Neighborhood?

Hotel RL has you covered! From restaurant suggestions to local eventspopular attractions, and outdoor adventures, they are happy to help you craft the perfect itinerary for your stay. Their team is welcomingfriendly, and helpful – so don’t be afraid to ask for ideas or tips during your visit!

Here are some more things to do in Bed-Stuy and a great overview of the neighborhood and its history (Jay-Z is from Bed-Stuy, if you didn’t already know). There’s so much to explore, especially when it comes to food and street art!

But wait, there’s more!

RLH Corporation has a collection of fantastic hotel options to suit every traveler’s needs. Besides their Hotel RL brand, they also offer a wide range of styles and affordably priced accommodations you’ve probably heard of before! Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Red Lion Hotels – the original hotel brand lives on, bringing warm service, local tips and more
  • Hotel RL – for open-minded travelers looking to experience local culture in a boutique environment
  • Red Lion Inn & Suites – valuing memorable experiences and making travel effortless for their guests
  • Lexington Hotels – an American hotel perfect for families and professional travelers alike
  • Signature Inn – offering a unique, retro-modern vibe with great service
  • GuestHouse – elevating the hotel experience by making you feel right at home
  • Knights Inn – affordable pricing and reliable essentials you need on the road
  • America’s Best Value Inn – small business feel and the best value in town
  • Canada’s Best Value Inn – a friendly and affordable option for solo travelers and families alike in Canada

More Details About Hotel RL Brooklyn

  • Location: Hotel RL Brooklyn is situated conveniently in Brooklyn in the neighborhood of Bushwick. Only 1 block away from the Kosciuszko Street subway station (J train) or about 3 blocks from the Myrtle Avenue subway station (M, J & Z trains), it is easy and quick to get back and forth to Manhattan as well as explore Brooklyn and Queens. P.S. My favorite free app for navigating NYC is Citymapper!
  • Amenities: Open co-working space, WiFi, breakfast, accessibility features, pet-friendly rooms, a restaurant and coffee bar, live performances weekly, a bar, discounted stays for seniors and auto club members, and more.
  • Pricing: Rooms from $112 (mid-week)
  • Book your stay: Find the lowest prices & reserve a room at Booking.com, or book directly – don’t forget to use my code Voyager to receive 30 Hello Bucks!
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STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN HIKE (HAIKU STAIRS)

I bet the first thing that comes to mind when planning a vacation to Hawaii is how you are going to sip strawberry mojitos at a luxurious resort by the beach. That’s all fine and dandy, but what if I told you that you’d be missing out on one of the most rewarding and sought-after hikes that this planet has to offer?

The hike is called Haiku Stairs aka Stairway to Heaven and it offers breathtaking views of Kaneohe Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

The stairs were originally built in 1942 by the U.S. Navy. They lead to a top-secret center for sending radio signals to battleships that were sailing through the Pacific during World War II.

For some time after the war, they were kept open to the public. That is, until 1987 when they were shut down and deemed unsafe due to water erosion and heavy use by hikers.

From base to crest, the hike takes you up around 4000 stairs that lay at nearly a vertical incline up the mountain. One misstep could cost you your life, causing you to fall hundreds of feet down a rocky mountainside to the valley below.

Due to the recent popularity of the hike on social media, people are flocking to the island to do the hike. The local police force has started issuing fines up to $1000 if you’re caught.

On rare occasions, there are police waiting at the bottom of the hike to book hikers but rarely do they go up the stairs. So basically, as long as you hike around the government road at the bottom you should be fine.

There is another hike leading to the stairs called Moanalua Valley trail and it is legal. However, this trail takes over 7 hours to complete. The trail takes you up crests and in some parts, there’s only one rope up a rocky peak.

IT ALL STARTED WITH A BET…

I was talking with a friend over coffee somewhere in downtown Los Angeles last May.

“What’s the craziest place you would go to right now if you had the money?” my friend asked me.

“I would hike Haiku Stairs in Oahu, Hawaii” I said.

An incredulous look came over his face and he decided to up the stakes. “If you go I’ll go.. but only if we fly out tomorrow.”

“Most definitely,” I said nonchalantly, knowing full well that I had work on Monday and it was already Saturday evening.

I watched him as he pulled out his phone and look up flight times. Must be nice to have a trust fund, I thought to myself.

We bought our tickets and parted ways. I ran back home and tried to get some sleep. The flight was at 11 am and it was already midnight.

The next day, I somehow managed to wake up early, pack for two days, and make it to the airport in just in time.

There was one small detail about that whole morning that really bugged me: My friend hadn’t answered even one of my phone calls. About 30 minutes before the flight he texted me saying that he had passed out last night after coming home and forgot to put on his alarm.

I weighed my options. I had never gone on trip solo before, let alone attempt a dangerous hike on some remote island that I’ve never been to. In the end, I decided to go for it.

So there I was, on my way to Hawaii for the first time, to do an illegal hike, completely by myself. I had no idea how to do the hike and was unsure if I was going to survive to tell the story. If there’s one thing to know about me, I’m a big fan of half-baked plans.

I arrived in Hawaii a couple of hours later. I booked a room through Airbnb just outside the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Five minutes later, I ordered an uber to my destination. I know I sound like some kind of entitled millennial right now talking about Airbnb and Ubers, but I don’t care. Thank god for technology.

I spent a couple of minutes posting about my plans on social media, some person sent me this article on how to make it past the guard without getting caught.

You can access the hike through 3 different access points.

  • Option one: Through the main hike entrance. Hop a fence and walk down a private government road that will lead you directly to the base of the hike without having to go through the forest. You will definitely pass by the guard. He will say something like “you are aware of the fines right?” in which case you should politely respond yes, and carry on. This is the point where you can potentially run into police who will issue you a fine.
  • Option Two: You hop over two fences, walk down storm drainage into a bamboo forest, down the government road, and back into the forest to the bottom of the stairs.
  • Option Three: a path that leads to a water-tower, down the private road, and into the jungle.
Source

I felt less and less like a hiker and more like some kind of FBI operative gathering top-secret intel on the next day’s mission.

This is the moment I felt nervous. I realized I didn’t want to do this thing alone. I asked my driver about it and said he’s never been. I arrived to my Airbnb and the guy there didn’t go either and wasn’t interested.

I then remembered an app called Couchsurfing. I downloaded it and looked for meetups. Luckily, there was a meetup happening a 20-minute drive from my place.

I decided to go. There were seven people huddled around a table in an open park by the beach. They were really friendly and offered me a beer. One of the travelers was a polish girl named Anna. She had a witty sense of humor and a half-crazed look in her eyes that suggested an openness to half-baked ideas and the possibility of an adventure. I told her about the hike and she said she would be down to go with me. Mission accomplished. I headed back to my Airbnb to get some shuteye.

The next morning I woke up at 5am. I read in a couple of articles to start the hike early if you want to make it past the guard without him noticing. Also, pictures are best when the sun is not directly overhead.

As I left my Airbnb, the sun was cresting over the east side of the mountains, I told my driver to hurry.

We got to the neighborhood about 45 min later. We quietly drove up Makena street and came to the first entry point. A guy emerged from the trees. He legit looked like “the Rock.” He was tall, buff, and had this menacing look in his eyes that reminded me of Jack Nickelson coming through the door in the movie, The Shining.

We decided to test out entry point number two. There was no one there, so we jumped out of our uber and hoped over two waist-high fences into a huge storm drain between houses.

We noticed some dog feces had been flung into the drain most likely by the neighbors, hoping some hiker would step on it. I understood why. I’ve read reports that hikers come through at all times of the night disturbing the neighborhood.

At the end of the storm drain, we were met by this fence that we easily climbed under and into a beautiful bamboo forest. Up until that point I had never been in a bamboo forest in my life. A feeling of calmness came over me for the first time on an otherwise super chaotic day. After walking uphill through the forest and climbed under a couple more fences we met the main road.

I had read earlier that police will sometimes drive down this road. I felt too exposed so we started to jog until we saw a clearing into the forest north of the road.

We disappeared into more bamboo trees and again completely surrounded by nature. The only thing that reminded us of human presence was the bustling highway above us. Two long cement lines suspended in the clouds disappeared into the forest ahead of us.

We walked for another ten minutes following numerous deer trails that vanished under tree roots and reappeared again in the distance. We were getting closer.

I saw a fence. Beyond the fence I spotted the first part of the staircase.

A mixture of relief and excitement came through me but then I realized that we had actually come to the sketchiest part of the hike: getting past the guard.

We spotted him a couple of hundred feet to our right along the road. We moved stealthily towards the stairs and further away from the guard. We had no choice but to run across the clearing, rock climb through a gorge and onto the base of the stairs. He definitely 100% saw us but didn’t say anything.

We hurried up the stairs, disappearing into the lush, gorgeous rain forest Hawaii is known for.

About 30 min into the hike you run into the reason why it’s banned. The staircase becomes mangled, all of a sudden we were forced to walk up the hand railings. There’s literally 10ft of damage. Proceed with caution because the fall is about 500 ft down the gorge and into the valley below.

The staircase eventually evens out, and you come out of the dense forest and finally on to the crest.

It was at this point that I realized why the hike is called Stairway to Heaven and I concluded why this trip was, in fact, worth it. Hawaii an incredible place.

We reached the summit in about 3 hours after we started. We saw a bunch of other hikers on the trail and they were super nice.

At the top, I took the following picture. It’s my favorite shot from the whole trip.

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Snacks – My travel buddy Anna surprised me with a sandwich on the way down. Food literally saved my life.
  • Water Water Water! My go-to water bottle is Swell’s 17oz Stone Bottle because it keeps beverages cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12, and maintains a condensation-free exterior.
  • Windbreaker – or a thin sweater. It gets REALLY windy on top.
  • Hat & sunglasses
  • Camera
  • WATERPROOF HIKING SHOES

Hawaii’s conditions range from beautiful and sunny to overcast and rainy at the flip of a switch. I highly recommend bringing along a pair of waterproof hiking shoes for any hike you plan on doing. I completely forgot to bring my hiking shoes with me and had to wear my Asics which are normally my favorite hiking shoes but not recommended when hiking through mud, as they get really wet and smelly afterward.

Below you’ll find my favorite hiking shoes from Keen and Jambu which are my go-to brands. They LAST FOREVER!

I’m in no way recommending this hike. But if you do decide to go, do it sooner then later. The condition of the staircase will only get worse as time goes on. If this hike is something you feel like doing, make sure to do it within the next year.

It took us about an hour to climb down the stairs, and we finished the hike sometime around noon.

I spent the rest of the day with Anna. My Airbnb host was kind enough to let me borrow his car for the day. We drove around the island and took some pictures before heading back to my host and dropping off the car. I picked up my suitcase and was at the airport by 8 pm. I missed my flight. Luckily they changed it for free after talking to a supervisor. I’m an incredibly lucky person. I get away with a lot of shit. They put me on a connecting flight which I would arrive at 8 am Tuesday morning.

I spent two beautiful days in Hawaii and got to check something off my bucket list. I narrowly avoided getting fired.

Was it worth it? Yes.

Would I go again? Definitely yes.

There is one thing that happened on this trip that has changed my life forever: I got over my silly fears of solo travel. I learned that I’m a pretty resourceful and that I don’t need anyone to accompany me to explore a new place.

If you really want something in life and throw yourself full force into that direction, something in the universe will have no choice but make it happen.

If you liked this article make sure to share it on Facebook or Pinterest. It helps me get my message out and inspire more people. Thank you!!!!

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15 OF THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED HOTELS

These days, hotels need to do much more than provide comfortable accommodation and good service to capture the hearts of travelers; they also need to be ABSOLUTELY picture-perfect. Why? Just so that visitors can elicit feelings of jealousy in the minds of their social media following. In fact, I came across a statistic that said more than 40% of those under 33 prioritize ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing their next holiday spot.

With over 800 million monthly active users, Instagram has become an undeniably powerful platform for marketers due to it’s huge influence on consumer decision-making. As well as building awareness and inspiring travelers, independent hotels and global chains can now use the platform to drive direct bookings.

Whether you’re booking out the presidential suite or just eating out at the hotel restaurant, these gorgeous hotels offer abundant opportunities for photographic moments worthy of the glossy pages.

HACK: WHAT I USE TO FIND THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS

Skyscanner compares prices from all of the major airlines and will find the cheapest available flight for the dates you’re looking for.

HOW I INSURE MY VALUABLE BELONGINGS AND GET WORLDWIDE EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG

If you travel frequently with any kind of valuable items (Camera gear, laptops, jewelry, collectibles), then you NEED to get travel insurance. You never know what can happen and you DO NOT want to wait before it’s too late. World Nomads is the premier insurance company to insure short-term and long term travelers against theft or natural disasters. They also provide universal healthcare options and worldwide 24/7 emergency assistance including medical treatment and transportation.

LA MAMOUNIA MARRAKECH

 This Moroccan palace has been redesigned by an internationally acclaimed designer, Jacques Garcia, combining Moroccan style and ambiance with a modern twist. With its luxurious decorations, fabulous gardens and its trendy 2500sq m SPA, la Mamounia guarantees the amazement of its guests. The hotel offers plenty of different rooms each with it’s own Moroccan themed look, providing plenty of opportunities for you to take beautiful pictures

CAP ROCAT

Cap Rocat has recently been completely renovated by Antonio Obrador. The idea was to give a modern spin to an old fortress originally built for the surveillance of the Bay of Palma. The property has 360 views of the surrounding countryside and El Arenal Beach. It has since been declared as a National Monument, and received the Europa Nostra Award among other accolades.

AZULIK

Located in Tulum (Mexico), Azulik Hotel & Spa is an adult-only, clothing-optional establishment. The resort is surrounded by lush forest in the expansive biosphere reserve Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are 48 wooden-crafted villas perfectly submerged within the Mayan jungle next to the Caribbean Sea, allowing guests to enjoy a 360 degrees’ view of the beauty that surrounds the resort. Azulik draws mostly couples and solo travelers that are looking to disconnect from the world and be transported back in time.

CAVO TAGOO

Located, within proximity of Chora in Mykonos, the awarded hotel Cavo Tagoo features an infinity pool with a 100 feet aquarium bar and a fully-equipped spa with indoor pool. Many rooms enjoy stunning views of the turquoise Mediterranean sea.

HOTEL PLAZA ATHENEE

Hotel Plaza Athenee is located just a short walking distance from the Eiffel tower and many rooms in the building offer stunning views of the landmark. The hotel has elegant, antique-filled rooms, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. Feel free to pop a bottle of champagne while enjoying the most beautiful view that Paris has to offer.

HOTEL VILLA HONEGG

Proof that one need not be a behemoth brand to broadcast inspirational travel content, this 23-room hotel hits above its weight when it comes to social media taking full advantage of its stunning setting high in the Swiss Alps.

RIAD YASMINE

Amid the narrow of streets of the Medina, this chic boutique hotel in a classic Moorish riad with ornate design accents is a 9-minute walk from Musée de Marrakech, and 8 km from Aéroport de Marrakech. The hotel has been popularized by the beautifully tiled pool that sits in it’s courtyard. The 7 upscale rooms and suites have Moroccan accents, free Wi-Fi, and polished en suite bathrooms with traditional mosaic tiles. Be prepared to join a long waiting list, as this hotel is booked until 2020.

AMANGIRI

This stunning resort is set on 600 acres in Canyon Point and provides panoramic views of the canyon and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Amenities include a floatation therapy pavilion, a sauna, steam room, cold plunge and step pool, a fitness center and yoga pavilion. Enjoy an all-inclusive self-care weekend if relaxing is your thing, or if you’re more active – you can join numerous yoga classes, and even guided hikes. There’s also a communal living room, library, art gallery and a dining room, wine cellar, and an award winning restaurant that will satisfy even the most demanding food critics.

1 HOTEL BROOKLYN BRIDGE

This hotel is where it’s at if you’re looking for the best view of New York. Located near the Brooklyn Bridge along the East River, this trendy hotel is a 12-minute walk from the nearest subway station and 9 miles from the Statue of Liberty. Industrial-chic rooms feature free Wi-Fi, smart TVs, Nespresso machines and yoga mats; most offer river, park or Statue of Liberty views.

EL FENN HOTEL

This ultra-chic riad hotel offers luxurious rooms with colorful Moroccan decor that is both true to Morrocan interior design and satisfies even the most snobby of interior design critics. All rooms feature original artwork from the owner’s private modern art collection.

Some rooms include leather-lined floors; Upgraded rooms add terraces and plunge pools. There are also 2-4 bedroom quarters, including a 4-bedroom riad with a kitchen, a roof terrace, and a plunge pool. There’s an upscale restaurant with a cocktail bar, as well as 2 courtyard pools, and a roof terrace with a plunge pool. Other amenities include a spa with treatment rooms, a hot tub, and a hammam.

GIRAFFE MANOR

This one is for all of the animal fanatics out there. The giraffe manner offers excursions to all of the local safaris and even has a group of giraffes that live on the property. The giraffes have free range of the place and can often appear next to you as you eat breakfast. 1930s manor house has been transformed into an all-inclusive hotel with 10 refined rooms that come with free Wi-Fi balconies and terraces.

SULTAN CAVES SUITES

Sultan cave suites can be found in the middle of Cappadocia, turkey. An area known for its caves, and history that goes back over 1000 years. Hotel features arch ceilings and stonewalls, medieval suites that have every modern luxury one could possibly ever want.

TAJ LAKE PALACE

It’s really rare to come a come across a hotel that sits in the middle of a lake, and the Taj Lake Palace doesn’t disappoint. The hotel is set in an 18th-century marvel palace upon Lake Pichola and has been featured in multiple movies including being featured in James Bond.

Opulent rooms future gold leaf designs, lake views and even a personal butler to handle all of your desires. Enjoy food from one of the three upscale restaurants on the property with free WiFi throughout.

KAMANDALU

This serene and luxurious resort is set amongst rice patties and a tropical forest. Perfect for those that want a vacation away from the city, Kamandalu is the perfect escape.

KALEYDO VILLAS

Located on a small island just northeast of Bali, the eco-friendly Kaleydo Villas is a perfect getaway for those that want to avoid the busier islands and actually enjoy a peaceful vacation. The boutique resort is located just 150 meters from beautiful turquoise beaches that are home to sea turtles, a variety of colored fishes and corals (perfect for snorkeling!)

CONRAD MALDIVES

The Conrad Maldives is a ritzy resort set on two private islands in the Indian Ocean. Jump directly into the ocean from your private villa that has a private hot tub and sun deck. Many of the villas offer glass floors so it appears as if you’re floating directly on water. Perfect for even those of the more demanding guests, the Conrad Maldives has every luxury your heart could possibly ever desire

In no way do I claim ownership over any of the photos published in this article. My only intent to use/share images is to educate others and provide information that can be transformative to my readers. If you are the rightful owner of any of the pictures posted here, and you do not want it to be displayed or if you require a suitable credit, then please contact me and I will immediately do whatever is needed either for the image to be removed or provide credit where it is due. 

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THE WORLD’S 10 MOST UNDERRATED TROPICAL DESTINATIONS

Do you want to travel to a beautiful tropical destination but don’t want to deal with annoying tourists and crowded beaches? Then any one of the following 10 places might just be the perfect getaway for you.

Imagine this: you’re relaxing on an empty beach in a tropical paradise, lying on a towel atop soft white sands, bright blue skies floating above you, and crystal clear waters stretching out in front of you as far as the eye can see. The beach is so empty and serene that you can finally finish that book you bought at the airport last week. Perhaps you’ll have a delicious seafood dinner later that evening at a restaurant you didn’t need to make a reservation for 6 months in advance. You’ll return home well-rested and relaxed, with memories and souvenirs that will make you wish you could turn around and fly right back.

This is what I imagine the ideal vacation to be like. To be able to spend a couple of weeks away from it all, away from traffic, responsibilities, and annoying coworkers. So if this kind of vacation resonates with you at all, then I’m sure you’re now wondering where you can travel to that has all of the bells and whistles a tropical paradise should have – but without the crowd of tourists. Places like Bali, the Bahamas, or perhaps even Fiji are horrible places to travel to if you’re looking to just relax. These picture-perfect destinations are stunning, don’t get me wrong…. but there are millions of people dreaming about traveling to these same places. This means overpriced rooms, crowded beaches, and worse, agitated locals.

Perhaps you’re even considering going in an “off-season.” Well, Bali doesn’t really have an off-season, it’s crowded all year long, and the Bahamas experiences temperamental weather in the winter (lots of rain and thunderstorms). Meh…

This is why I set out to find some alternatives. Destinations that have incredible beaches, great food, and decent hotels. The problem with some destinations that do not get too much tourist traffic is that when you go, the only accommodations available is some rickety hut by the beach. I wanted to find destinations that have a variety of accommodations. So you can stay in the beach hut if you like that sort of stuff, or if you like to pamper yourself, you can splurge on a room in a 5-star resort that has every amenity you can imagine.

Sure, it can require some more skill and planning to go off the beaten path, but trust me, it is definitely worth it in the end. So if you’re traveling to a tropical destination sometime soon, consider going to one of these underrated alternatives to overcrowded beach destinations.

TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS:

Where to book the cheapest rooms: I use either Agoda.com or Booking.com to find nice hotel rooms while on the go.
Where to find a cheap hostel to stay in: I usually use HostelWorld to find cheap accommodations while traveling abroad. Hostels can be sketchy at times, so while planning where I’m going to stay, I’ll check out the user-submitted pictures of the place before I book to see if the place is as advertised.
Best site to find cheap flights: I use Skyscanner. The website’s algorithm will compare prices for flights from all of the major airlines. In the past, I would try to hunt around for the cheapest flights on a ton of different websites but would almost always end up booking through Skyscanner.

LA DIGUE, SEYCHELLES

Renowned for its unspoiled beaches, craggy shoreline, and exotic wildlife, La Digue’s gorgeous powdery pink-sand beach, has served as the backdrop for movies like Castaway and Robinson Crusoe and is said to be the most photographed stretch of sand in the world. Getting to the Island is pretty easy, once you land on the neighboring island of Praslin, La Digue is only an hour-long boat ride away. Once on Ladigue, you will be completely submerged in nature, as the island remains unspoiled by the tourism industry. Your tastebuds will be in heaven as there are a couple of notable restaurants on the island – Tarosa Takeaway, a buzzy eatery with Creole fare; and L’Union Estate, the largest vanilla plantation left in Seychelles (both restaurants have stellar reviews). Check-in at the historic La Digue Island Lodge, which has thatched-roof bungalows and a 19th-century colonial.

Also, if you’d like to go really off the grid, the neighboring island of Felicite is breathtaking and if you also just so happen to be able to fork over $1k a night for a room, then check out Six Senses Zil Pasyon. In terms of architecture, the place is truly one of a kind.

FORMENTERA, SPAIN

Formentera is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s reachable by a 35 min ferry from its more crowded, better-known island neighbor, Ibiza, and makes for a popular day-trip destination in the summertime. This island exemplifies what’s like to live life along the Mediterranian, simple, beautiful, and of course, there’s GREAT food.

So technically food isn’t considered a love language but to me, it is. I am an absolute food snob and I will go to great lengths to find the best restaurant. So if you’re more of a food snob then you will love Formentera. In fact, you’ll probably spot yachts pulling up from Ibiza just to dine at the swanky eateries Juan y Andrea, Es Moli de Sal, and Beso Beach.

There’s also a calmer side of hidden beaches and local watering holes. Hike to the secluded cove of Calo des Mort, where you can dive into crystal clear turquoise water, followed by squid-ink paella and sangria at Can Forn.

ST. LUCIA

There are many reasons why you should visit St. Lucia. The small island, located in the eastern Caribbean, is filled with natural attractions, historical sites, exotic wildlife, and lush greenery, making it a wonderful place for both relaxation and adventure. If you enjoy trekking through exotic rainforest this Island might just be your cup of tea. The island is home to the Piton Mountains which cradles many of the beaches in St. Lucia providing spectacular scenery, especially at sunrise and sunset. The island is home to several one-of-a-kind hotels like the Ladera hotelJade Mountain Resort, & Villa Beach Cottages

ANGUILLA

US News and World Report ranked Anguilla — a British overseas territory — as the Caribbean island with the best beaches. With an embargo on cruise ships, casinos, and even high-rise hotels, Anguilla is a departure from your typical tourist trap. Accessible by a short boat ride from St. Maarten, Anguilla offers a distinct culture and landscape. Enjoy the island’s peaceful and laid-back energy while enjoying the beautiful clear turquoise waters that stretch out as far as the eye can see.

I once spent an afternoon once in Anguilla, and I got the chance to visit Shoal Bay. The beach is, in my opinion (and I’ve been to PLENTY of beaches) the MOST beautiful beach that I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

As for lodging, Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort is a top-rated resort on the island, with a former Michelin-starred chef, an award-winning wine cellar and access to a private beach.

UPOLU, SAMOA

Samoa is still one of the best-kept secrets in the entire South Pacific. Okay, it’s not totally a secret—but compared to countries like Fiji, it is still much more relaxed with fewer crowds. What makes the specific island of Upolu so great? Well, it is truly perfect for the adventurous traveler. According to Samoa Travel, on Upolu, you can go swimming in caves, go surfing, trek through the rainforest, and swim under waterfalls. It sounds like a paradise for anyone with a sense of adventure looking to experience something truly unique!

SUMBA, INDONESIA

Obviously, Indonesia is a super popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world—this group of islands is so beautiful that people are willing to fly for days to get there just to spend a week or two in paradise. The crowds on Sumba are much smaller than the neighboring islands Bali, so you can experience the authentic Indonesian culture. Home to some of the world’s best resorts, and the beaches are simply amazing.

LANAI, HAWAII

Want to enjoy the natural beauty that Hawaii has to offer without dealing with all of the tourists? I mean what even is Honolulu these days, It feels just like Disneyland but with a beach and no rides. Smart vacationers head straight to Lanai, a small island just a short 25-minute flight from Honolulu. Lanai is much less populated than many of the other islands, which makes it a great spot for a more relaxing getaway. According to Go Hawaii, it’s the perfect place to explore rugged natural areas where most tourists don’t venture! But friendly locals will no doubt show the best places to seek out. Looking for something romantic? Check out the island’s beachfront campsites and Four Seasons properties.

SKOPELOS, GREECE

Santorini. Mykonos. Crete. Greece is home to 227 inhabited islands across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, yet these three steal the spotlight every time. Skip the crowds for Skopelos, just an hour ferry ride from Skiathos, where you’ll find unspoiled coastline, charming blue-roofed tavernas, and Byzantine-era monasteries. Rent a private villa with terraces overlooking the cerulean Aegean at Adrina Resort & Spa (trust me, you’ll never want to leave). Skopelos Town’s terracotta-tiled buildings house romantic garden restaurants like Perivoli and joints like Antolia, where locals come to listen to live rebetika music. On the northwest tip of the island, the quaint village of Glossa offers the best vistas, especially at Agnanti, whose cliffside deck serves Greek classics of kleftiko (leg of lamb) and stifado (beef stew).

VANUATU

Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise-ship ports and flashy resorts. Deserted beaches, an ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving are just a small part of the magnetism of this scattered 80-plus island archipelago. Check out the Iririki Island Resort or the Angelfish Villas and tell me that you don’t just want to spend the rest of your life there!!

COOK ISLANDS

I saved the best for last. The Cook Islands is another destination in the south pacific islands that you definitely should put on your radar. If you’re looking for an exotic getaway – it doesn’t get much more remote or more beautiful then this — home to perfect beaches, deep jungles and expansive coral lagoons. Each of the 15 islands seems more breathtaking than the last. The Cooks have the sun and sand and aqua waters you’ve always associated with the South Pacific, as do Tahiti and Fiji. But there are several ways the Cooks stand out from those other destinations.

First, it’s the cheapest to reach by air. Air New Zealand flies here every Saturday on a Boeing 777, a 9- or 10-hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles, and frequently offers airfares around $899 round-trip, or even less with their occasional $400 off coupon codes, which bring the price down to a ridiculous $499-$598 round-trip.

The one notable remark that many tourists come back from the Cook Islands is that “the people are so friendly.” Not to mention there are a ton of activities – snorkeling and diving are very popular here.  Fish and other seafood are delicious – what you eat in the restaurants is what was caught that day.

When to go – July through October because it’s “whale season” during which cavorting whales and their offspring are visible from the shore. Another fun fact: The country will most likely reach 100% renewable energy ahead of any other on Earth.

Remote, friendly, and insanely gorgeous, the Cooks Islands will not disappoint!

Have you been to any of these destinations? Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite!

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15 BEAUTIFUL PLACES YOU SHOULD VISIT IN ITALY

If you’re planning on visiting Italy soon or just need some inspiration for your next vacation, I recommend putting a couple of these places on your bucket list. Italy has so much to offer, and the following cities barely do the country justice. These are some of the best places to visit in Italy if you’re looking to catch a glimpse into the Italian lifestyle.

Italy, frequently touted as the ‘gem of Europe’ is about the same size as California, and has just about as much diversity. Italy’s rich history, food, culture, architecture, and scenery will entice you to come back again and again.

Many first-time travelers visit iconic Italian cities such as Florence, Venice, and Rome. Italy has a lot more to offer, however, and going off the beaten path will prove to be equally rewarding and eye-opening. It will also help with over-tourism in the more popular cities.

So without further ado, here are some beautiful places to visit in Italy that I hope will spark a sense of wanderlust in even the least spontaneous of travelers.

Skyscanner compares prices from all of the major airlines and will find the cheapest available flight for the dates you’re looking for.

HOW I INSURE MY VALUABLE BELONGINGS AND GET WORLDWIDE EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG

If you travel frequently with any kind of valuable items (Camera gear, laptops, jewelry, collectibles), then you NEED to get travel insurance. You never know what can happen and you DO NOT want to wait before it’s too late. World Nomads is the premier insurance company to insure short-term and long term travelers against theft or natural disasters. They also provide universal healthcare options and worldwide 24/7 emergency assistance including medical treatment and transportation.

POSITANO & THE AMALFI COAST

The Amalfi Coast is perfection incarnate, where one can behold picturesque towns teetering precariously above the glittering seas. Rugged yet refined, the Amalfi Coast epitomizes perfectly the natural drama and cultural elegance we speak of when we speak of Italy. It’s diverse enough to accommodate everyone, from celeb spotters to nature lovers, to book nerds.

Positano has been put on the map recently by content-hungry Instagramers. Which has resulted in overcrowding in the summer times, but can still be enjoyed in the offseason after the crowds have left.

The city is a mix of pastel-hued buildings that jet over the aquamarine Mediterranean on a near-vertical cliffside. One can enjoy views of the city and the Mediterranean from a variety of vantage points on the hill all the while eating gelato.

VENICE

Not only is Venice one of the best places to visit in Italy, it is also one of my favorite cities in the world. The ancient city is suspended on stilts above the water. Frequently dubbed as the world’s most beautiful city, there’s a certain sense of romanticism that courses through the city.

ROME

Rome is home to iconic treasures such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, as well as beautiful neighborhoods (take Trastevere and Centro Storico for starters), and ahhh-maz-ing food like the world’s best pasta. Rich in culture and history, the city is a world unto itself.

HACK: HOW TO EXPLORE ROME IN ONLY 8 HOURS

Rome is super easy to travel to from the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. You can take the Leonardo Express train across the street from the entrance of the airport. A quick 30-minute train ride will take you into the center of Rome. Next, to the train station, you’ll find sightseeing bus tours where you can travel around the city in around 1.5-2 hours. You have the opportunity to jump on and off the buses to see the major attractions.

LAKE COMO

Lake Como is known as a place frequently visited by the world’s mega-rich. Luxurious hotels and 5-star restaurants line the beautiful coastline of this small lake located just north of Milan. The picturesque lake is surrounded by lush green gardens, opulent villas, and sleepy little villages. Enjoy gorgeous views, delicious food and wine in one of the prettiest destinations in the world.

CASCATE DEL MULINO

After having posted some of these pictures on Pinterest recently, I’ve received some comments such as ‘these are actually in Turkey’ and ‘this is Pamakule.’ But guess what, Italy has some beautiful hot springs that are just off the beaten path and away from most tourists radars.

Cascate del Mulino can be found amid the hills of Maremma. Access to the pools is public and free throughout the year.

FLORENCE

Known the world over as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is an absolute must for any first-time traveler to Italy. Between the huge wealth of artistic and historical attractions as well as the fantastic day trips you can take in the region, you can easily spend a week in Florence and still uncover new things to do.

PORTOFINO

Portofino is a fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline, southeast of Genoa city. Pastel-colored houses, high-end boutiques, and seafood restaurants fringe its Piazzetta, a small cobbled square overlooking the harbor, which is frequented by super-yachts of the ultra-wealthy.

TROPEA

Tropea is a secluded Italian beach town located on the toe of Italy’s boot that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. The city is home to two and a half miles of pristine white beaches, dramatic rock formations, cliffs and coves that dot the coastline. There are both public (free) and private (fee) beaches where you can swim in sparkling, turquoise, Caribbean-like water.

NAPLES

One of the busiest metropolitan cities in the country, Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy. Naples offers a treasure trove of art galleries and historic sites as well as a vibrant atmosphere of shops, restaurants and nightlife venues.

FUN FACT: Plenty of well known Italian dishes like pizza and spaghetti originated from this area 🙂 So if you’re a foodie, Naples might just be the perfect place for you to visit in Italy

World-famous historic sites like the Bay of Naples and Pompeii are nearby, making Naples an ideal base if you’re interested in learning more about Italian history and culture.

MILAN

You can find the pulse of Italy in Milan. Recognized internationally for it’s contribution to fashion and design, Milan is a great place for even the snobbiest of art critics. Milan is the best place to visit in Italy if you are a fashionista – The country’s biggest fashion brands call this city home. One of the best spots in the city center to find them in one spot happens to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, featured above.

RIVA DEL GARDA

Plenty of hikes to be found around Riva del Garda, a town that can be found in the northern part of Italy. The bustling Italian town is at the dramatic end of Lake Garda, with mountains rising on either side. The town was part of Austria until 1918 and there is still something sedate and un-Italian about the streets and architecture.

SARDINIA

Sardinia is an island smack dab in the middle of Meditteranean. It’s a beautiful Italian island that strikes visitors with it’s natural beauty, characteristic coves, and snow-white sandy beaches. Sardinia is perfect for those seeking a uniquely Mediterranean vacation similar to Mykonos, but without all the tourism.

ASSISI

 The town of Assisi sits on a hilltop in Umbria, southeast of Tuscany. Assisi has many of the trappings of a small Italian town – churches, of course, with more frescoes than you can shake a paintbrush at, but also medieval castles (two), a Roman amphitheater, ancient winding streets, excellent food and sweeping vistas across the valleys that surround it.

CINQUE TERRE

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Italy you have to add Cinque Terre to your itinerary. Cinque Terre translates to the “Five Lands” and refers to the five coastal towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The cities are home to iconic colorful houses perched on top of steeps cliffs, which drop off into the turquoise sea, the towns of Cinque Terre have marveled travelers for years.

DOLOMITES

One of the most scenic mountains in the world is the Dolomites. If you’re a fan of nature and enjoy hiking, the Dolomites is one of the best places in Italy to visit.

In no way do I claim ownership over any of the photos published in this article. My only intent to use/share images is to educate others and provide information that can be transformative to my readers. If you are the rightful owner of any of the pictures posted here, and you do not want it to be displayed or if you require a suitable credit, then please contact me and I will immediately do whatever is needed either for the image to be removed or provide credit where it is due. 

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