Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Conference Travel: My WITS17 Packing List and a GIVEAWAY

It's fly week for me as I join 500 women travel influencers, creators, and brands in Milwaukee for Wanderful's annual Women in Travel Summit. 

As someone who attended WITS'15 in Boston, I am excited for this event which has elements of personal and professional development, opportunities for collaboration, networking, and global sisterhood. 

I've started to think about packing and what will make my time in Milwaukee the most productive it can be. Here's what's going into my carry-on. 

My Bags
I am not checking luggage. Whenever it's possible, I carry-on and this year, I am bringing my Kelty Redwing 2500 Backpack. She's been traveling with me since 2010. This front-loading pack holds everything I need and fits comfortably in the overhead bin or under the airline seat. The waist and chest straps even the weight and make carrying it easier on my shoulders and hips. 

I'm also bringing my Samsonite Jordyn Laptop Tote, an attendee's gift from WITS'15.

I never travel anywhere without my packing cubes. These organizers are like individual dresser drawers for my clothes and they save me time and space. I also use a charger organizer to keep my charger cables tangle-free. 

  • My MacBook Pro. This travels everywhere with me. It allows me the flexibility to take notes and work on the road when I have down time before, after, or between sessions. 
  • My iPhone. I will be using this as my primary camera for tours and conference photos. 
  • A power strip. Outlets in hotel rooms and conference breakout rooms can be limited. By bringing a power strip, I can stay charged and help a friend. 
  • Earbuds for my flight and shared hotel rooms. 
  • My Jackery. This dual USB port charger was a game changer for me.

Other essentials
  • Business cards for networking
  • Ear plugs for shared hotel rooms
  • A notebook and pens for quick notes
  • A refillable water bottle and coffee mug
  • Quest Bars and/or portioned bags of almonds for snacks
  • Gum 
  • A scarf and a sweater for chilly breakout rooms
  • Rain gear: Because of this year's weather forecast, I am bringing my Eddie Bauer Insulated Trench. Thanks, Steph, for the recommendation. I have used this jacket since November and it keeps me warm and dry. 

When it comes to clothes, I pack light and functional. I choose a neutral color palette and plan around that. I make sure to pack comfortable shoes for offsite tours and a dressier outfit for evening networking and socials. 

Ready to win?


If you're a woman who loves to travel, Wanderful is for you. This community connects women around the world through meet-ups in over 22 cities, a thriving social media network, domestic and international travel, an influencer program, admission to special events around the world, a home sharing network, and discounts to the WITS conference. 

I am such a fan of this community that I am giving away 10 memberships to Wanderful, a $119 value. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment below about one gadget you never travel without. 

If you're not one of the 10 winners of this giveaway, you still can take advantage of a discounted membership with $15 off when you sign-up using the code LOVELYLIFE through May 1stClick here for more information.

Good luck!


*This post contains affiliate links, through which purchases help to support this blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Ideas for #NationalGrilledCheeseDay

Few foods live up to comfort level status more than grilled cheese sandwiches. 

When I was growing up, grilled cheese and tomato soup was the lunch of champions and for us, it's a go-to Sunday night supper. 

Tip: Save yourself some money...check out the day-old stand at your grocery store. Who needs super-soft bread? You're cooking it anyway. 

Sometimes, the classic is best. But, if you want to take it up a notch, experiment with bread types and ingredients like these. 

1. Fig preserves and Fontina cheese.

2. Serrano ham with Manchego cheese.

3. Sliced apple, pulled pork, and sharp cheddar cheese.

4. Fat free refried beans (or black bean hummus), grilled chicken, salsa and jalapeño jack cheese. 

5. Mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry jelly, turkey, and American cheese.

6. Strawberries, turkey, and creamy goat cheese.

7. Mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, avocado and pesto.

8. Ham, pickles, Provolone cheese and mustard. 

9. Tuna salad with tomato and Swiss. 

10. Raspberry jam, prosciutto, and Gouda cheese.

Don't forget to mix up the bread...sourdough, rye, French, artisan, potato, white, wheat...it's all good. 

What's your favorite flavor combination?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Road Trip Essentials

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to start thinking about those summer road trips. 

Whether you're going to explore, visit family and friends, or spend time tooling around with no place in particular to be, it's a good idea to be prepared. 

The Señor and I love road trips. Clothes aside, here are some essentials that we're sure to pack and always keep in the car. 

1. Snacks and water 

For me, this is not negotiable. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. To keep away the hangry horrors, I pack snacks and then, I'm good to go; I'm a much happier co-pilot..and it's cheaper than stopping for convenience store snacks. If you pack a cooler, you have more snacking options, but it can be a space issue. 

2. Easy clean-up supplies

To keep the car relatively clean, I always pack a couple of plastic bags from the grocery store for trash and a packet of wet-wipes.

3. An electronic toll transponder
This is a time saver that is worth its weight in gold. States differ in their registration procedure, so if you're getting one for the first time, research before you go. We have one in each car. We also keep a few dollars in coins for parking meters, but the transponder is essential.

4. A road atlas

In the rare occasion that you have no cell service, a road atlas is good to have, and it makes it fun to pour over maps as you choose new paths to explore. 

5. A car emergency kit. 
We have AAA, so we're not overly concerned, but the triangle reflectors and jumper cables are nice to have. We also keep insurance information in the glove compartment. 

6. Downloaded podcasts, audio books, and/or a great playlist
When you and your drive partner have common interests, listening to a podcast serves as a great launchpad for later conversation. As an introvert, I appreciate the "quiet" time that allows me to recharge and simply enjoy sharing space with the one I love. 

7. A small notebook and pen. 
I use the notes feature on my phone for most things, but occasionally, paper and a pen comes in handy. We keep it in the glove compartment. 

8. Helpful apps
Everyone has their favorites, but here are the apps we use when we're out on the road: 

  • Yelp & Around Me
  • Hotel Tonight & Priceline
  • Gas Buddy
  • Groupon
9. Chargers
My car has USB chargers, but my husband's does not. As a result, we use dual USB chargers that go into the lighter port. For longer trips or working travel, we have a power inverter car charger, which will charge our laptops as well as USB charged devices. Our favorite mobile charger, though, is the Jackery, hands down. We each have one; it goes everywhere with us and we wouldn't trade it for anything. 

10. For good measure...
Outerwear of some sort is essential for me; whether it's a light sweater for chilly indoor air conditioning or a rain jacket for a pop-up shower, I make sure that I throw something in the car to keep me warm and dry. 

What are your road trip essentials? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Travel Tips for Couples

It was a match made in heaven for my husband and me when we discovered that we were both blissfully afflicted with wanderlust. Our case is so severe that we need a fix at least once a week, even to travel to a new destination for our weekly Sunday afternoon coffee date.
Canoodling aside, travel is a big part of our lives, and we're hoping to travel full time as soon as possible. For some like us, the idea of traveling around the world with a partner 24/7 is bliss, but for others, cramped quarters and too much togetherness bring anxiety that could derail even a week's vacation. 

Here's how we do it. 

1. Obviously, shared interests are fabulous, but celebrate your differences. You're a beach girl. He's a mountain man. Or vice versa. No worries. Do some research and find locales that allow you to do both. Compromise.

2. Plan together. This is how you can be sure that both of you have the opportunity to have your needs and wants met. Discuss expectations about budget, activities and accommodations. Both of you will be emotionally invested and excited for all that awaits you. 

3. Travel light. No one wants to feel like a pack mule. Organize your stuff and then take out at least 10%. Don't pack for What if?. If you need it enough to carry it on your back for x hours or days, then keep it; otherwise keep pruning until you are happy and won't lament carrying your load...on your own...for the duration of the trip.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. When you're together all the time, or at least when you're traveling together, your partner's habits may start to creep up on you when you're tired, frustrated, or hangry. Recognize that your frustration is really about you and your reaction; you control it. Is it worth it to alienate your partner? Doubtful. Don't take him or her into your world of crazy, because then, you'll have two problems. There's little that a snack, a nap, or a good belly laugh can't fix. And then kiss and make-up. 

5. Share the load. Are you driving? Offer to drive and give him or her a break to snooze, catch up on email or social media or to just look out the window. He or she will appreciate the break and your willingness to share the load.

6. Don't feel like you have to talk all the time. Share space and be confident in your quiet time to think, meditate, wonder at what you see and play with naughty thoughts to make your stay-over that much more fun.

7. Plan ahead. Pack a snack. Pack water. Pack tissues. Pack medicine for a pop-up headache. Pack antacids. It's better to be prepared. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. Know thyself, and I do, so I pack a protein bar. Then, I'm good to go and a much happier camper. 

8. Alone time is okay. Do you want to go for a run? An early morning dip in the pool? If one of you wants to do something in which the other simply has no interest, don't worry. Sometimes the time apart is the remedy for when you're getting on each other's nerves or it saves the other from resenting having to do something or go somewhere he or she really doesn't want to do or go. Plus, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. You can meet up later and share your experience. 

9. Don't be afraid to start small. Maybe a round-the-world trip is not your cup of tea. Start by playing tourist in your own town. Or travel to the closest biggest city. The first big date my husband and I had was to New York. We went for the day and it was magic. Central Park, the Met, tapas and sangria...how can you go wrong?

10. Make it a date. Hold hands. Kiss. Take goofy photos. Picnic. Play. You love each other; make loving memories to hold dear when you're not able to travel as much. 

Whether it's a weekend getaway, a day trip to the city, an afternoon at the museum, traveling around the world, or even a Sunday afternoon coffee date, travel with the one you love is an amazing experience. You connect in a way that may go unchecked in the craziness of chaotic days. Take a chance and see the world. And be sure to kiss all along the way. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Seasonal Goals 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm a long time reader of Life According to Stephand I'm excited to participate in her seasonal goals linkup

New season, new goals. 

Here are my seasonal goals for Spring, 2017.
  1. Book summer travel and enjoy at least one long weekend away. 
  2. Eat sustainable fish twice a week and try three new vegetarian recipes to add to the repertoire.
  3. Read 2-3 personal development books. Any recommendations?
  4. Reorganize spring/summer clothes and pack up winter clothes; donate what I don't love or didn't wear. 
  5. Get in a morning walk at least three times per week and do yoga at least once a week, to complement my current weight training schedule. 
Are you a goal getter? Please share what's on your list of goals to accomplish this season. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

10 Travel-Inspired Date Night Ideas

When you love to travel, it permeates every fiber of your being. When you're lucky enough to have a partner who loves to travel as much as you do, feeding the wanderlust is a daily event. 

Looking to add some travel-inspired date nights to your cache of good ideas? 

Pin this for future reference. 

  1. Choose a different restaurant featuring cuisine from around the world. 
  2. Watch a foreign film from a country you want to visit or a film featuring that location. 
  3. Take a foreign language course from a local community college and download the free DuoLingo app to practice with a meal out at that country's restaurant. Try to speak only that language. 
  4. Be a tourist in your own town; find out what your town is known for and enjoy that. 
  5. Spend a weekend in your state or provincial capital city. 
  6. Cook themed dinners; choose a different country each month. Listen to a Pandora channel from that style of music. 
  7. Take a cooking class from a country you want to visit. 
  8. Take a road trip. Drive out a reasonable distance and meander back on the state roads instead of the interstate.  Stop at a cafe or local shop on the way home. Pick up a collectible
  9. Take a photo walking tour and see an area through a different lens. 
  10. Peruse the travel section of the bookstore; choose a new memoir to read or plan your next vacation. 
BONUS: Use your travel collectibles and mementos to create decor for your home. 

What's your best idea for a travel-inspired date? Inspire me. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Inspiration #21

Before you can achieve your goal, you have to know your why. 

The clearer the vision, the more you will fight to make it happen. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ahora 21: Now in My World

In true New England fashion, March entered like a lion, with cold and wind biting enough to send the heartiest of groundhogs back underground in search of a warm corner. 

The early days of March were a harsh transition from the sun and warmth of Florida we had enjoyed only days prior, but onward we move, pining for our own warm, sunny days, which, eventually, will find their way north. 

Here's what's happening ahora in March. 


  • Follow the Yellow Arrows by Suzanne Ball. This is fun reading for me because the Señor and I hope to do the Camino Frances in 2018. This book has practical advice and insightful commentary for anyone thinking about doing the Camino de Santiago. 

And, if you've ever considered doing a Camino yourself, or know someone who has, this film, The Way, will feed the wanderlust. Even if a Camino is not in your future, this is a beautiful film about forgiveness, compassion, and tolerance. It's worth a watch. 


  • Like many other people, I am watching and loving This is Us. I also love the soundtrack, and this site has all of the tracks from all of the episodes. 
  • The Golden Girls...the entire series is streaming on Hulu. 
  • Documentaries like these and this one here, The Smog of the Sea, which just crossed my feed this week. 

  • A lot of oatmeal. I've been making a pot of steel cut oats on Sunday nights and eating it with fresh berries and a handful of nuts. Delicious! Or, I use the whole, dry oats and make a pancake.

Listening to...
  • On Pandora, I've been listening to a lot of Ray LaMontagne, Jack Johnson, and Michael Franti. 
  • On Sirius, for some strange reason, I have been loving 70s on 7. I'm an 80s baby, but for whatever reason, disco is my jam these days. 

  • Glasses. For the first time since I was a child, I am wearing glasses full time. They're tri-focals and they take some getting used to. My reading glasses, apparently, weren't cutting it anymore. 

Looking forward to...
  • WITS17. I will be traveling to Milwaukee next month to attend the Women in Travel Summit. Want to learn more or join us? Register here. This is an amazing experience for women interested in travel as a hobby, a blog, or a business. 
  • Che Malambo, a male Argentine dance troupe is coming to Boston. Rooted in the gaucho style, the show involves precision footwork, drumming, and song. Here's a preview. 
  • Jack Johnson concert. He's my go-to Pandora channel. I can't wait to see him live!
  • Wicked. The touring company swings through Boston in late spring. This has been on my short list for a long time. And we got discounted tickets through Goldstar. Even better!

So that's about it for me this month. What's new with you? What's happening ahora in your world?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Scenes from a Wedding

In a ceremony as lovely as the sunset, my brother married his sweetheart in a Gulf-side ceremony in St. Pete Beach, Florida. 

It was a perfect day. It was warm, but not too hot, and not a cloud in the sky. 

The view from the bridal suite at the Grand Plaza Hotel, St. Pete Beach

With everyone in their "resort chic" finest, we gathered to celebrate; and celebrate, we did.

My parents and my niece.

With parents and children...a family blended in love. 

A beach-inspired cake

My hungry nephew, with the best seat in the house. 

My parents delivered the toast. My Dad was the Best Man.

A special family dance. 

Coincidently, my Patriots-loving brother married his sweetheart on the same day as Tom Brady married his beloved Gisele Bundchen...February 26th. 

She was ready. 

Cheers to the bride and groom. Cheers to love!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Here's to the pioneers...the unbreakable...those who forged their path and followed their curiosity. 

Want some inspiration? Keep reading...

International Women's Day: Celebrating 15 Remarkable Women Who Will Inspire You to Be Your Best Self. 

10 of the World's Most Inspiring Female Travelers

One of my favorite badasses...Amelia Earhart in 1928

Are you Wanderful?

Give a shout-out to the women who inspire you. I celebrate my sisters around the world, each making a difference in their own way. Cheers to you!