Travel Tips

August 26, 2015

Dubrovnik walks

For the last two years, I’ve been on the road a lot. My husband works for a large global company and he is often placed on projects abroad. Depending on the project budget, I’m often invited to go along with him. We even brought our 75-pound Portuguese Water Dog to Prague with us this summer!

I’ve pulled together a few tips that might help you if you are an anxious traveler (which I can be) or just need an extra feel-good boost while traveling. If you have any tips or tricks that you swear by, please leave them in the comments below!


Less is more! If I have more than one destination, packing light is always my friend. I find that when I am traveling lighter, I am less worried about loosing a bag in baggage claim, or just forgetting it in the bathroom! It’s hard enough to keep track of your boarding pass and passport, let alone all of your other stuff. Of course, there are trips when checking a bag is necessary, but I try to bring only a carry-on if possible. Who wants to spend extra time in the airport hanging around the baggage carousel? If I am headed to a warmer climate or traveling during the summer, packing light is a much easier task. I always put aside items a week before I leave and then edit down. Do I really need two black sweaters? I bought this bag on our trip to Asia in 2014 (two weeks, four countries!) and I’m always impressed by how much it fits. Plus, I find that backpacks make traveling easier. I’d also recommend travel cubes to help keep you organized!

Helpful apps. I love this currency app — it reminds me how much I’m actually spending, plus it works offline. If you are traveling to a large city, I’d recommend downloading the TripAdvisor city guide, so you can browse restaurants, attractions and things to do while offline. I love to add all of my trip details into TripIt if I am going on a more complex adventure (multiple flights, hotels, etc), as it helps keep everything organized in one place. Yelp can also be helpful, depending where you’re traveling. I love to find one or two local Instagram accounts to follow — there’s nothing better than seeing the place you are through a local’s eye! I’m such a visual person and if i find someone that really resonates with me, I know that I’ll probably appreciate the things they’ve seen and done. The same goes for local blogs!


Things I always take with me:

– Adapters, of course (including this converter for my curling iron, etc)

This all-over skin salve to heal and moisturize. I’m obsessed and it goes everywhere with me, especially in the airplane! Gotta keep your skin hydrated in the air.

An eye mask because you never know when you’ll need it. I’m hyper-sensitive to light and the little bright lights in hotels on television and phones often keep me awake at night. It will be your best friend on a red eye flight!

– My first aid kit includes bandaids (mostly for blisters) as well as these these for any stomachaches and this for mornings when I’ve had a little too much to drink or am just not feeling 100%. I also love to bring tea bags from home, especially this ginger one.

– A good face mask because traveling (and that awful airplane air) can wreak havoc on my skin. If I am feeling in need of a real down and dirty mask, I always choose this clay-based one. I also love this mask for hydration (and it goes on relatively clear, so you could even apply mid-air).

– A notebook and pen. I often do my best creative and reflective thinking while traveling.

This book! I own the paperbook and have it on my Kindle for easy access. For a period of time, I was a really anxious traveler and this book plus Deepak Chopra’s healing affirmations were the magic combination.

It’s always nice to bring reminders from home and to ease your transition to wherever you might be going. However, I try and remind myself to roll with the punches and to simply enjoy the ride — that’s what adventure is all about anyways! Bringing along certain comforts and relying on a few helpful tricks is never a bad idea, and can make the trip more enjoyable. Please share any of your own travel tips or tricks in the comments below – I’d love to read them!

I originally wrote this post for The Boston Day Book.

A Summer Visit to France

August 5, 2015


A few weeks ago, I spent several days with my grandfather in France. I’ve been so lucky to get to the farm so many times this year. I’ve been able to visit every 3 months, and I feel really lucky about that. Definitely feeling very grateful to spend time with my grandfather, especially as he lives alone so far from the rest of my family. (My dad is an only child and we all live here in Boston)

I swear that each time I am in France, I have arrived during the best season. Suffice to say, that each season is the best for its own reason. In the summer, there are roses and the most amazing fresh produce (and my grandfather’s orchard is in full bloom — including fresh figs, so good), and of course sunflowers and days in which the sun doesn’t set until 10pm. Matt and I also were married at the farm on a hot July day. As a kid, we would mostly spend summer holidays in France. Summer holds a special place in my heart.


Come fall, there is the most mesmerizing foliage, especially during the hours of dusk. The fires begin and hunting season starts. You start eating heartier food to keep warm, and of course, red wine flows. If I am in the city, the breeze in Paris come October is probably my favorite thing in the world. It is smoky and crisp and fills my lungs with the courage and hope (and nostalgia, of course. The fall always does that.)


In the winter, there may be a magical dusting of snow, but for the most part only frost grazes the ground. Each morning when you awake, glistening dew greets you for your morning walk. You eat a big lunch around the kitchen fireplace and sip an aperitif in the late afternoon. Hours before you normally would. It’s okay; you need to keep warm.


And then there is spring. I’m actually not big on spring (it always feels nonexistent in Massachusetts) but in France it’s totally different. After months of gray skies and rain, everything blooms. Bees are buzzing, birds chirp, and flowers of all shapes and colors begin growing everywhere. Baby animals really do magically appear. You’ll be walking through the vineyards and all of a sudden you’ll see a doe and her babies.

Until next time, France. I love you always and forever. No matter what season.

A Weekend Getaway to Lake Garda

July 28, 2015

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This past weekend, Matt and I went to Italy to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary (wow how time flies!). We decided on Northern Italy because 1) although we’ve both been to Italy years ago, we’ve never been together, and 2) it is really close to Prague. Direct flight for the win!

We left Prague on Friday afternoon and flew into Milan, where we picked up our pint-size Smart car. It was pretty hysterical – and super fun (and practical) on the winding vineyard roads.

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We really lucked out with the weather — sunny and in the 90’s. I’m usually quite a planner when it comes to trips, but quite honestly, I didn’t have much time to plan for this weekend aside from booking our travel and bed & breakfast. I love the planning part of travel and often spend hours plotting out the best scenic views, where to eat like a local, and where to get the best coffee. (the important things, right?)

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In a way, it was refreshing to go into this trip with little decided upon. Our agenda was wide open – it felt so good. I’m sure that we “missed” some of the best pasta or the best place to view the lake, but who really cares? Sometimes it can be exhausting to try to keep up with the “best of” that you forget to just enjoy the view that you currently have. This trip reminded me that I actually love being spontaneous – just as much as I love the planning. You never know what you’ll stumble upon by just wandering about.

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In the end, this weekend was all about relaxation. We wandered around Bardolino, enjoyed wine at our bed & breakfast high above the lake, and we even rented a boat for the afternoon (such a fun idea). To celebrate our anniversary, we had a romantic dinner at Locanda San Vigilio on Saturday evening. The view from this restaurant / hotel was unreal — I felt like I was in a fairytale. Per usual, we consumed a lot of pasta and seafood and it was delicious.

Where we stayed: Prati Palai

Where we ate: Locanda San Vigilio /  gelato at Gelateria Biancaneve Bardolino /  seafood at Ristorante la Taverna da Oreste / tortellini at Pastificio Remelli

What we did: rented a boat with Nautica Guini / strolled around Bardolino / went to Borghetta

What we didn’t have time to do / next time: a visit to this winery / wander around Verona

Thank you, Lake Garda for an amazing weekend!

Traveling to Europe with a Dog

July 16, 2015


If you follow me on Instagram, you likely noticed that I recently spent a month in Prague with my dog, Weber, in tow. Traveling to Europe with a dog has always been a dream, but I never thought it would become a reality.

Matt has been based in Prague for three months this summer (ending at the end of this month!), and we knew that to spend as much quality time together as possible, I’d likely go for a chunk of time, as well. Although we travel often, our trips are normally 1-2 weeks long. A month away from home seemed exciting, yet daunting. I knew that I wanted to bring our dog along, but how would it work? Was it even possible?


Earlier this spring, when we realized that the possibility of bringing Weber along to Prague might actualize, I dug into the research. Let me start by saying: I quickly became overwhelmed. The information that is available is so cumbersome and can be difficult to navigate. I honestly wasn’t sure if the entire process was going to work until after we had arrived in Prague!

Depending on where you are traveling and the duration of your trip, the rules change quite a bit. For one, traveling to the UK is pretty close to impossible with a dog in tow. Your dog must have many vaccinations and they often have to go through a quarantine.

Since the Czech Republic (or Germany, which is where we flew in to) is rabies-controlled, our process was much easier. The US is also rabies-controlled and many of the regulations are based upon whether the country is rabies-free, rabies-controlled or if there is a high incidence of rabies.

For us to travel to Germany, we needed to first confirm with the airline that we purchased the correct carrier (this is the one we got – I’d highly recommend. Make sure that there is plenty of space for your dog to stand, turn around, etc!), and purchase Weber’s ticket! For us, Weber flew in the same plane as me, so it was less expensive than some other options where he would have had a pet guardian (we flew Lufthansa and it was $400 one way; price was based on weight and size of carrier + dog). Plus, it was nice to bring him to the airport and spend as much time with him as possible before we were separated. Honestly, the separation was the most traumatic part. TSA is pretty thorough and I think Weber caught on to the tension in the room. Plus, then they secured his crate with zip ties, which was pretty scary for him. It was also scary for me, but well worth it.


After we were certain that our airline didn’t require any specific paperwork, I contacted the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control to make sure that I understood all of the necessary action items. There is actually a contact for each state / region, which I thought was very helpful.

Most importantly, your pet needs to have a micro chip (Weber had one implanted when he was a puppy, so we were all set there), rabies vaccination, plus be in good health. In order for the rabies vaccination to be approved, there has to have been enough time since the vaccination, so be sure that you time it appropriately. In order to complete the paperwork, you need to make an appointment with a certified vet (our normal vet wasn’t able to do this, so we went to the MSPCA Travel Center). Be sure to print out the necessary paperwork (we also emailed it over to them ahead of time), and bring all copies of your pet’s vaccination history if you end up seeing a new vet. Very important: the paperwork must be completed LESS THAN 10 days before arrival in the new country, or else it is void. As soon as you complete the paperwork, you must overnight it to the USDA APHIS official designated to your state (be sure to include a self-return mailer, etc). To be honest, I was nervous that the timeframe was going to be too tight, but these officials deal with this stuff all the time, and we received our paperwork signed by the USDA with plenty of time to travel.

To return to the US, be sure that you have a signed and dated copy of your pet’s rabies certificate. When we returned, that is the only thing that customs wanted to see.


Overall, be sure to do your research and ask plenty of questions! Now that I’ve done this once, I feel much better prepared to navigate the system should we have to do it again. Although it was a bit difficult to get Weber to Europe, it was an adventure that we’ll never forget (more on that to come)! I am headed back to Prague on Sunday, and have to say, quite sad that my buddy won’t be joining me this time around!

Camping on the Boston Harbor Islands

July 15, 2015


One January night, Matt came home super excited. With a huge smile, he told me that he was able to secure a camping permit for Lovells Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands where camping is allowed.

Although the following few months proved that our summer travels were going to be quite extensive due to Matt’s work, we knew that we’d make it home for this camping trip. There are only a few islands in the Boston Harbor that allow overnight camping, and Lovells Island is the only one that allows camping + grilling + campfires, which in my opinion, are three necessary ingredients for a summer adventure.

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Lovells Island is a semi-quick boat trip from Rowes Wharf. There are no direct boats to Lovells Island, but we took the ferry from Boston to George’s Island (with a 45 minute “layover”) and then carried on to Lovells in a small boat. I thought that Lovells Island would be another decent boat trip away, but it was a mere 5 minutes and we had pulled up to the dock.

Unfortunately, Weber was in a car accident (he’s okay, thank goodness!) the week prior to camping, so I had decided to just go out for the day. It was so hard to leave the group (they were having so much fun!) but poor Web needed me at home.

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If you live in Boston or the surrounding area (and like camping — or even just adventure!), I’d definitely recommend adding camping on the Boston Harbor Islands to your summer bucket list. I hope to do it for real next summer! If you are interested, just be sure to register well in advance (plots fill up fast).

Cesky Krumlov, A Medieval City in Czech Republic

July 13, 2015

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Cesky Krumlov, a medieval village just two hours south of Prague is home to over 300 UNESCO world heritage and protected buildings and sites, including the second largest castle in the Czech Republic. One weekend, Matt, Weber and I headed down to this beautiful town to check it out.


It ended up being a scorching hot weekend, which worked out well since we were so close to fresh water for Weber to go swimming. In addition to the most beautiful buildings and streets, Cesky Krumlov has a river that runs through the middle of the town. Especially on a warm summer day, you’ll find canoes, party boats full of people, and dogs cooling off in the water.

Cesky Krumlov is a pretty touristy destination — great for the weekend getaway or day trippers, since it isn’t too far from Prague by train or car. We ended up staying a bit out of town (10 minute walk up the hill), which I would actually recommend. It was nice to get away from the crowds and stay somewhere off the beaten path.


Like much of Czech Republic, the restaurants spill into the streets and most have an outdoor seating section. We loved beers and tradition Czech food at Depo, plus fresh vegetarian food along the river at Laibon. There are also so many grassy spots along the river and by the castle to picnic.

In addition to taking it easy along the river, we visited the castle and gardens (the museum & tower looked awesome, but weren’t dog-friendly so we just appreciated from a distance).

I would definitely recommend stopping in Cesky Krumlov for a night, especially to visit the castle gardens. I’d recommend visiting in spring, early summer or fall and visiting the castle in the morning to avoid crazy crowds.

36 Hours in Uruguay

July 6, 2015

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While we were in Argentina this past November, we wanted to get out of the city for a few days. To be honest, the decision of where to go was a bit daunting. As this was our first trip to South America, the options were endless. I love travel research but it can turn into a black hole very quickly. Should we trek down to Patagonia and see the gorgeous lakes? Even further south to the glaciers? Should we go to Chile (I had heard amazing things about Valapraiso)? Or what about Salta? There were so many incredible places to visit and simply not enough time. I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to feel rushed.

Uruguay had been on my mind for some time. I had seen photos of the gorgeous landscape and had heard stories from friends who had been before. The proximity from Buenos Aires made it an ideal getaway. You can hop a ferry and an hour later, you are in old town Colonia.

Colonia was beautiful with its colorful houses and waterfront views. It felt like we had stepped back in time with the old cars, warm smiles, and easy pace of life. Although it’s been a few months since we were there, I can’t seem to shake Uruguay. I hope that someday we can return and spend time exploring new parts of this beautiful country.

If you’re interested in reading more about our time in Uruguay, check out my post on Narbona Wine Lodge, the beautiful Relais & Chateaux hotel that we stayed in.

The Turkish Coast

June 8, 2015

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Sometimes it takes being on the road again to feel inspired to write about past trips. I still can’t believe that I haven’t properly shared my experience in Turkey last fall. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken.

In addition to spending a week in Istanbul (split up into three different occasions), I traveled to Cappadocia and the Turkish coast.

Matt had to head back home, unfortunately, but my friend Chantal and I continued on! Fethiye, a city in the Aegean region of Turkey was our homebase. We flew into Dalaman and rented a car to explore the coastal towns of Fethiye, Oleduniz, and Yesiluzumlu. Driving in Turkey is not for the timid, but I couldn’t recommend it more! We were able to cover so much ground and stumble upon small villages that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. One thing to note: people drive as they want to – no one obeys road signs or traffic signals, so just be extra assertive!

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We stayed in two different locations so we could experience different landscapes. For the first few nights, we stayed at the Kabak Avalon Bunglows, high above the water. The windy, hilly drive up to the bungalows was pretty exhilarating. There was no barricade, and the narrow roads were literally on the edge of a huge drop. We just went slowly – and stopped to say hi to the many mountain goats we passed along our way!

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The Oleduniz area is stunning. From high above the cliffside, the turquoise water would shimmer in the sunlight. If you are in the area, the one thing you absolutely have to do is go on a boat tour. There are many to choose from – if you’re in the party mentality, you can choose the pirate boat with foam pools and crazy loud music, or you can choose the smaller boats that are equally hysterical. The whole experience is just that… an experience. Our hotel coordinated the boat tour (it was this one) and it was quite memorable. It was a hot day (as it often is on the Turkish coast in September) and we would jump into cove after cove, climbing back on to the boat for a cool beer and respite from the sun. We stopped to see Butterfly Valley, which was neat! We also ate many pides and enjoyed nargile here while we would sit back and watch all the paragliders land on the beach.

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After a few days of sun-drenched beach time, we drove 45-minutes into the forest. Yesiluzumlu wasn’t the easiest place to find, but the bumpy dirt roads were well worth it. We arrived at Dikencik Cottages and were greeted by friendly dogs and cats, plus the lovely Ayse and Cengiz. They didn’t have any other guests at the time, so Chantal and I had the whole place to ourselves. After being on the road for quite some time at this point, it felt so wonderful to be in a place that felt so homey. Rather than head out to a local bar in the evening, we preferred to stay in and drink a bottle of wine with our hosts. We shared wonderful conversation, delicious food (the breakfast was unreal – I still think about it!), and quiet moments in the countryside. Our time at Dikencik Cottages was a highlight of my trip and I hope to go back someday.

A weekend in Munich

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Weber and I flew from Boston to Munich to kick-off this month-long trip in Europe. There are no direct flights from Boston to Prague, and I wanted to make the process with Weber in tow as easy as possible. Plus, a weekend in Munich sounded lovely. I had only been once before – for Oktoberfest no less – and I hadn’t really seen much of the city aside from the inside of a beer tent.

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Plus! We actually have a friend that lives in Munich. She is a friend from my time of living in France and I had recently spent several weeks with her in Argentina at our good friend’s wedding. There’s no better way to see a place than with a local. Our friend Judith and her boyfriend, Phillip, took us from beer hall to beer garden and lots in between.

I loved visiting the Englischer Garten! It’s a massive park (bigger than Central Park!) in the middle of Munich with beer gardens, wide open spaces, and a surfer’s paradise. After cooping Weber up in his travel crate, I was so excited to let him run free.

A Month in Prague

May 29, 2015


If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I’m in Prague – and with Weber, no less! Matt is here for work until the end of July. It sucks being apart, so we’re taking advantage of the opportunity and I am joining him in Prague a few different times.

Since this visit is a month-long, we went through the crazy process of bringing along our 80 pound dog. It was no small feat – definitely more on that to come in a future blog post.

I am working remotely from Prague so high on my list of priorities this past week has been scouting out coffee shops. It’s way more fun to work out in the city than from our hotel lobby. (yes, we are living in a hotel for a month. So far, so good!)

I’ll be sharing my favorite places as the month moves along, but for now, off to pack our bags for a weekend getaway to the Bavarian countryside! Have a great weekend!