Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Travel Series: How I Carry-On? with Aly Walansky

I met the fun, travel junkie, and awesome freelance writer Aly Walansky when I first started blogging. Here we are 8 years later and she is just as awesome as ever. I live for her travel and beauty stories. She’s a girl after my own travel, beauty, and food heart. Aly so graciously answered my questions for How I Carry-On? Her second home is an airplane.

Thank you Aly for showing me how you carry-on!


How I Carry-On (Aly Walansky).jpg


Name: Aly Walansky (A Littly Alytude). Follow Aly on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Job: Freelance writer

Homebase: NYC

Why do you travel? Job? Personal or both? Hardly ever for personal! Seriously, I accrue tons of miles that I hardly get to use. Work, almost exclusively.

What is your preferred method of travel – plane, train or automobile? Plane! I mean, car if it’s just a few hours away (so silly to take a plane, say, from NYC to Boston when you spend more time sitting in an airport terminal than you would on an Acela.

Land, sea or both? Depends – I’m not a huge beach girl, and I don’t love cruising, generally, either. But I do love to know I am near beautiful water and tropical weather!

Favorite airport? I really fell in love with Hong Kong’s airport. More locally, Nashville and Austin both have great airports that really reflect the energy and spirit of their community.

Lease favorite airport? Sao Paolo. Terribly organized, slow moving, horrible food options.

Favorite terminal for food, shopping, etc.? I don’t shop much in airports (I know, I know) – but this goes to Nashville, again, just for food!

To check or not to check? If I can check a bag for free, I’m into it. Otherwise, it gets pricey fast.

Favorite travel bag and luggage? A pink hard shell Samsonite. My friends call it my Barbie bag!

Favorite airline? I fly Delta most often because I have status – but given the choice, otherwise, Virgin. Also love Hawaiian Airlines!

Least favorite airline? United. Ugh.

Loyalty? Airline & hotel? Delta, because upgrades make everything more awesome.

Window or aisle? Aisle. I get up a lot!

Favorite hotel? This one is hard. There’s so many I’ve loved for so many reasons! Right now I’m at Vdara in Las Vegas and it’s kind of a piece of amazing. Also a big Delano fan.

Favorite food when traveling? I always pack fiber one bars for the plane – airport food is usually so sad!

Libation of choice on the road? As much water as possible when flying!

Travel outfit? Looks oddly like my yoga outfit!

Travel gadgets? Camera? My iPhone, and a selection of travel charger!

iPhone, Android, or Windows? iPhone.

Currently reading? Sadly, I hardly ever have time to read – but when I do, it’s usually mindless romance novels.

Favorite travel apps? TripIt Pro.

How do you stay healthy on the road? Moderation – and try to move around as much as you can. It sort of helps counteract those cocktails and indulgences.

Favorite travel beauty/grooming products? I live for Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard – especially if you are spending lots of time eating outdoors!

Most memorial travel experience? I went to Israel about a year ago. It’d not the first time I’ve gone – I did Birthright Israel in college – but going as an adult, one with “life experience” – made it incredibly unique. I’m not a very spiritual girl, generally, but walking around the old city of Jerusalem, you can’t help but feel a bigger presence. It felt like I was walking through a live action history book. Also, the FOOD. I still dream of the falafels off the carts in the open market.

Worst travel experience? I’ve had some crazy travel dramas – I’m still haunted by the time I fainted right over barracuda infested waters in Riviera Maya. My friend – who is maybe 100 pounds – caught me. Crisis averted, but I’ll never forget that trip!

Travel advice? Do your research – whether you are on your on with a set agenda, or on an itinerary, you are going to have so much more fun if you check out the little-known spots for food, shopping, exploring. Whenever I’m hitting a new destination, I do a call out on Twitter or Facebook for tips – I usually find some great ones!

Travel Diary: Terranea Resort, by Destination Hotels ~ Part 1

I left San Francisco and headed to Southern California for my hotel and spa adventures with Destination Hotels. On this hotel and spa tour I was by myself. I like highway driving and needed time to reflect, relax, and get some really good sleep. I find it interesting when people ask me why I travel by myself. I’m sure they don’t ask a man that question. I’ve always traveled by myself. I like traveling with people, but to really discover who you truly are, you have to travel by yourself, man or woman. So many people can’t eat dinner by themselves. I actually enjoy it. I’m the same girl who went to Paris to study not knowing one person, who moved to DC not knowing one person, and still loves a solo adventure. I know I’m supposed to be all PC because I’m married and apparently I’m supposed to only want to travel with my spouse. Yes, I’m married, but at the end of the day I’m still Julia.

As with most of my California adventures, I always make a bee line for In-N-Out Burger. I wish they would bring them to the east coast. I know it’s a California institution and I prefer mine animal style. After my date with burger destiny I headed to the beautiful Terranea Resort, by Destination Hotels & Resorts. Terranea is located 45 minutes to an hour from Los Angeles Airport. The drive to Terranea was simply stunning. I decided to forgo the 405 and take the coastal highway. I’ve always loved the drive from the airport through Hermosa beach to the coast. The resort is built on the coast of the Pacific Ocean with views of Catalina Island. It doesn’t seem that something so close to Los Angeles can feel like you are in another country, but it’s true. It’s simply breathtaking. The Palos Verdes Peninsula in which Terranea is located has been featured in movies such as Charlie’s Angels, Pearl Harbor and G.I. Jane. You didn’t really think Demi and Anne Bancroft were in Annapolis did you?

The resort has over 580 guest rooms, suites, casitas, and villas. All the rooms have balconies and it’s the perfect place for journal writing, coffee, or practicing yoga. I took my travel yoga mat and was able to get in a few rounds of sun salutations every day.

Terranea is a great destination for weddings, girl getaways, and retreats. There is something for everyone at the resort. Each week the resort lists the various activities at the property. I took a lovely sunset yoga class on my first day taught by Sun Yu. After coming from San Francisco I needed to stretch and move from all the sitting involved with travel. An evening yoga class was just what I needed. Terranea is an outdoor treasure trove of relaxation. I like being outdoors and the activities such as hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, and spinning over looking the ocean. I  ike being outside so I walked the nature trail every morning, ate dinner outside, and sipped my nightly cup of tea outdoors. I see why locals love it, as well as, out of town guests.

Terranea has eight dining venues so every palate can be satiated. I like to call myself a flexitarian. I’m flexible with my eating and have no dietary restrictions. My first meal was at the Asian-fusion restaurant bashi. The head chef of bashi is Brucy Nguyen and the food is inspired by his mother, his heritage and the fresh ingredients available in California. Instead of gravitating toward my typical Asian fare I took the suggestions of my lovely server, Janet, and let her pick for me. She told me I must having the shaking beef dish.

Janet was so correct. The flavors were enhanced by the lime sauce. Yes, I put lime sauce on beef. It’s sounds like a flavor oxymoron, but once I tasted it there was an explosion of flavor components that my taste buds and mind were grappling to place. It was so good I suggested it to the couple next to me and they had the same conclusion. Wonderful.

After dinner I rolled myself to my bedroom where I enjoyed a cup of camomile tea on the balcony and lavender essential oils on my wrist to prepare for a great slumber. Day 2 was approaching fast.

Travel Diary

{Always my first stop in California – In-N-Out Burger. Animal style.}


{A lovely welcome note and the resort’s weekly activities.}


 {A room of my own.}


{Big girl bath time.}


{I love a patio with a view.}


{Green and lush.}


{Cabanas by the pool.}


{Let’s go for a swim, shall we?}


{Movement studio for spinning and/or yoga.}

Terranea Resort - Movement Studio

{Sunset yoga with a view.}


{Sunset at Nelson’s by the cove.}


{Dinner at the contemporary Asian-influenced bashi.}


{Ahi tartare.}


{Crispy Walnut Shrimp}


{Shaking Beef. I didn’t believe that lime sauce and beef went together, but it transformed this dish.}


{And to all a goodnight.}



Disclosure: I was a guest of Terrenea Resort, by Destination Hotels. All opinions are my own. 

Travel Diary: Calistoga & Napa Valley, California ~ Day 2 (Francis Ford Coppola Winery & Boskos Pasta & Pizzeria)


On Day 2 of our #takeanapa tour we spent the day at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The winery is located about 45 minutes from Calistoga in Geyserville and was a very pretty drive  on rolling hills. We passed vineyards on both sides of the highway. It was beautiful and green. The winery is a great place for families to spend the day. There are cabines you can rent for changing clothes and place your belongings while you spend time at the property and the pool. The winery has tons of things to do for families. It’s a fun outing for kids.

We spent time at the cute gift shop filled with paper, books, and beauty items. The winery houses memorabilia from the Coppola films and even the desk from the Godfather. You can also see Oscars for the award-winning film.

We had lunch at Rustic which was excellent. The views of the vineyards, outside, and with some of the best ladies I know wasn’t lost on me. I’m extremely humbled and blessed for the opportunity to experience traveling with them. I didn’t bring the proper running top because the mornings in California are cool so we decided to do a little shopping after our exciting morning.

Because we were in California for a race we had our pre-race carbo-load meal at Boskos Pasta & Pizzeria. Boskos is located in the heart of Calistoga and was a quick ride from our hotel. We are big fans of all things artichoke so it was no surprise that on our second night we wanted another artichoke dish. I decided to have my pre-race meal be the Vittoria. A delicious combination of bay shrimp, mushrooms, and garlic in an asiago cream sauce.

Calistoga, I’m definitely missing you and your laid back Cali-style.

 {My favorite coffee spot in Calistoga.}


 {Francis Ford Coppola Winery}


 {Cabines in front of the pool like the ones they have in Europe.}



{Vines for days.}


{Desk from the Godfather.}
{“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”}


{Mr. Oscar.}


{Lovely items from the gift store.}


{I can never have too much paper that reminds me of Paris.}


{I’ll take a few bottles to go if you don’t mind.}


{Sipping Sofia Blanc de Blancs}




 {Yummy Director’s Cut Zinfandel}


 {Rustic Restaurant on the property.}




 {More Sofia Blanc de Blancs for lunch}


{I could go back just for the salmon.}


 {A few of my favorite people on the planet. I love these girls.}


{Pre-race dinner at Boskos Pasta & Pizzeria.}


 {Eggplant stack.}


 {Carbo-loading on Pasta Vittoria}


 {We couldn’t get enough of the amazing Sonoma County Pinot Noir.}


Frances Ford Coppola Winery
300 Via Archimedes
Geyserville, CA  95441

Boskos Pasta & Pizzeria
1364 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA 94515

{Disclosure: I received discounted travel assistance from Calistoga Tourism. All opinions are my own.}

Travel Series: How I Carry-On? with Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

How I Carry-On? is a travel series devoted to travel style. As a traveler, I am curious about my fellow travelers’ routines, what they pack, and how they live their lives always en route. My travel motto if the trip is under 10 days – carry-on only. This usually works 95% of the time. It also made me think. How do my fellow travelers, travel? What makes us love and despise travel at the same time. Are they airport lounge obsessed like me? Instead of me emailing them for the answers I thought I would do a Q&A and allow my lovely readers to benefit from their knowledge like I do. Confession. I often hit Sarah up on Instagram to ask what she’s wearing. She lives in bright, beachy, and comfortable clothes. A girl after my own heart. Peep these pants. Love them.

Thank you Sarah for showing me how you carry-on!

How I Carry-On Prototype IMG_6996

Name: Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon ( Follow Sarah on Instagram, Twitter, &  Facebook.

Job: Travel journalist, Caribbean expert, black-belt international shopper

Home Base: Miami, Florida

Why do you travel? My passion is also my profession – I write about all aspects of Caribbean travel and shopping for outlets including Travel + Leisure, AOL Travel, USA Today, Islands and Caribbean Journal – so I’m always in the Caribbean for work. But because I love what I do, it always feels like pleasure.

What is your preferred method? I’ve been enchanted by the magic of air travel ever since I took my first flight at three-years-old and remarked to my mother that the clouds were upside down. And I’m one of the few travel journalists I know who actually loves airports.

Land, sea or both? Both. There’s nothing like seeing the Caribbean from the air, all those idyllic islets afloat in impossibly blue sea. But some destinations are best explored by boat: The British Virgin Islands and the Exumas in the Bahamas come to mind.

Favorite airport?  I’m in the American Airlines terminal at MIA so often (two or three times a month) that it feels like a second home. But as long as I have Wi-Fi and a/c, I’m a happy camper.

Least favorite airport? I was most disappointed with the airports in Grand Cayman and Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Both are high-end destinations that you’d imagine would have swanky airports but they’re small, cramped and have very limited shopportunities. Both are being renovated though, so there’s hope on the horizon.

Favorite terminal for food, shopping, etc.? I can always make a pre-trip purchase at Coco Bay and The Shoppes at Ocean Drive on Concourse D at MIA; they both have great accessories and resort wear (I love the stuff from Miami-based designer Peace Love World,

To check or not to check? Depends how long the trip is, what activities are on my itinerary, and whether I’ll be on camera (I do video, too). Carry-on if it’s a straightforward three- or four-night jaunt; a hard-side checked bag if longer or if I need to pack wardrobe for a shoot.

Favorite travel bag and luggage My current carry-ons are a Kipling workhorse I’ve had for about 20 years (!) and a Briggs & Riley wheelie. But I’ve got my eye on bags from Crumpler, LeSportsac. Longchamps and Tumi.

Favorite airline? American and JetBlue

Least favorite airline? I’d only fly Spirit if it was free.

Loyalty? Airline & hotel? American Airlines from Miami because they take me almost anywhere I need to be in the Caribbean. From FLL, I’m a Jetblue fan. No hotel loyalty – yet!

Window or aisle? Aisle, so I can really stretch out my 4’ 9”-frame.

Favorite hotel? I’m all about the Caribbean private-island experience, and I could live at Fowl Cay ( in the Bahamas or Petit St Vincent ( in the Grenadines.

Favorite food when traveling? I always pack protein bars because a hungry Sarah is an angry Sarah. Once at my destination I’m all about street food: bokit in Guadeloupe; patties and jerk in Jamaica; conch salad in the Bahamas; accra in Martinique. And I sample KFC in every Caribbean country I visit (but Jamaica’s is the best!)

Libation of choice on the road? I love fruity cocktails but I mostly drink water because I’d rather save my calories for food!

Travel outfit? Pants and top; a colorful wrap or my customized military jacket; Maison Martin Margiela tabi flats; Louis Vuitton Yayoi Kusama Neverfull tote.

Travel gadgets? Camera? Usually just my iPhone and MacBook Air. But I want to start shooting my own video this year so soon I’ll also be schlepping a DSLR, tripod and mic. (Fashionable camera bag suggestions welcome!)

iPhone, Android, or Windows? #TeamiPhone

Currently reading? Various travel and fashion mags.

Favorite travel apps? I’m completely in awe of the modern miracle that is inflight wi-fi, and my Gogo app is a Godsend.

How do you stay healthy on the road? I always pack my running gear and squeeze in a run most mornings of my trip. It’s a great way to experience the nuances of a destination up close. We’re always being fed sumptuous meals on media trips (tough job, I know) so to cut calories I choose an appetizer for main course and I’ve also started to substitute espresso for dessert.

Favorite travel beauty/grooming products? I rely on Mario Badescu glycolic foaming cleanser, Tazorac gel and my Clarisonic to keep my skin in check. I love the oils from St. Croix apothecary Itiba ( for my hair and skin, and I always have a small circular tin of Vaseline with me for old-school moisturizing on the go. Clinique’s Calyx and Bobbi Brown’s Beach are my go-to fragrances, at home and away.

Most memorable travel experience? I can’t choose just one! But swimming with pigs in the Bahamas; climbing Gros Piton volcano in St. Lucia; playing mas at Trinidad Carnival; and zipping around the Exumas from Fowl Cay with my husband in our own powerboat are all up there.

Worst travel experience? Ending up in the emergency room on a Saturday night in St. Croix was no fun.

Travel advice? When packing, accessories always trump outfits. When things go wrong (and they will), retain your sense of humor. Airline lounge membership is money well spent.

Travel Wish List: Hotel Lone – Rovinj, Croatia

Hotel Lone

I’m headed on a Mediterranean Cruise next year and I’m already plotting and planning my adventure. The cruise leaves out of Rome, but I’m considering a trip to Croatia either before or after the cruise. I still haven’t made up my mind, but Croatia has been on my list for a long time. My first hotel discovery is the chic and sexy Hotel Lone on the Istrian coast in Rovinj. It’s a very contemporary hotel. Look at the design. It has every thing I need – water views of the Adriatic, spa, restaurants, and great design. The hotel even has its own nightclub. I’m already telling myself I want to stay here. We shall see.

Hotel Lone (9)

Hotel Lone_Wellness (7)

Hotel Lone&Eden pool (3)

Bay suite_00066





Rovinj (2)

Wheels Down: Lexus RX 450h SUV

This review is definitely for the car junkies in my life. I’m normally all about everything 30,000 and above. Sometimes, I have to stay on the ground. I love highway driving. I am a woman who loves the open road. I’m still dreaming of driving cross country with an iPod full of music and This is The Read and 18 to 49 podcasts. I’ve stated I’m not a car person. I leave that to my brother and cousin. But, after spending 4 days in this Lexus RX 450h SUV, I totally got their love of fancy (in my Iggy Azalea voice) cars. I could be a car person in this baby.

This is a sweet number and the perfect size for someone who wants an SUV, but does not want a monster vehicle. I currently drive a 5-speed car. Any time I’m in an automatic I have to be very cognizant of the fact that I’m driving an automatic. My feet naturally want to shift gears. I had to remember that I’m not at a NASCAR race.

Growing up in Texas I always notice gas prices. I’m a little crazy and that in my own vehicle I freak out if I’m on half a tank of gas. Let’s just say this SUV put my car to shame. We drove from San Francisco airport to Napa, all around Napa, and super close to San Francisco before we had to fill up the car. The gas mileage is crazy. Fuel efficiency at its best.

The amenities is what makes this SUV sing. I could plug in my phone, play my music, listen to a podcast or listen to SiriusXM. We bounced between podcasts, music, and the GPS. The trunk/extra space is vast and we were able to get 4 suitcases and numerous bags in the back. Everyone was super comfortable in the car. I actually drove and rode in the back so I can say the backseat is equally as comfortable as the passenger and driver’s seat.

To my car girls. Prepare to be spoiled with the Lexus RX 450h.

Lexus 450



 {Thank you Lexus for the car experience.}



Travel Diary: Calistoga & Napa Valley, California ~ Day 1

Calistoga Travel Diary

It’s no secret that I’m itching to move to California. I love DC, but this girl is ready to live in the land of wine, beach, earthquakes, and yoga. I decided last year that I wanted to spend more time exploring various parts of the U.S. A lot of time travelers believe we have to leave in order to see beauty. As much as I love a great European jaunt I realized that I needed to get out and explore various destinations right in my own backyard. Although California isn’t necessarily in my neck of the woods, but you know what I mean. Napa Valley and Calistoga, California are beautiful to say the least. It has been years since I visited and it was better than I had remembered.

It started innocently enough. My “Blue Crush Tour” girls and I were on a tech talk call when Erika made the best suggestion last October. “Let’s not wait until September to get together. Let’s run a race together mid year – in California.” Erika is our resident runner at the moment. I hung up my marathon legs for a little thing called yoga in 2006. With her suggestion Amber and I settled on running with her. Immediately dates were agreed upon, race day set, and registration paid. The one caveat was having to train in one of the coldest winters ever in D.C. Needless to say I hated running on the treadmill. I was scheduled to run the half-marathon with Erika, but realized my training lacked this winter and decided on the 10-K which was a good thing. I had a great race.

The first weekend in April we all made our way to Calistoga & Napa Valley. If you’ve never been to wine country I suggest you plan a trip. It’s a beautiful drive from San Francisco, green, and mountainous. We all arrived on Friday and made our way to Calistoga, our home base. Calistoga is known for wines, hot-springs, mud baths, and is nestled between Napa Valley and Geyserville in Napa County. It is a quaint and small town, perfect for relaxation, and makes a perfect getaway. The best mode of transportation getting to the Napa Valley area is a car and ours was a Lexus RX450h. This luxury sedan was fun to drive and it was fun to drive on the open road. I quickly got used to that SUV.

We stayed at the remodeled Sunburst Calistoga. I was hesitant at first when I pulled into the hotel. I was expecting a traditional hotel, not a motel, but once I opened the door to the room I was pleasantly surprised and yelling a loud “Thank you, Jesus!” The room was super clean, had great amenities, and the bed was comfortable. I fell into bed every night with our non-stop schedule. Amber coined it “comfy, retro chic.” I’m glad I’m a flexible person because that is one thing I learned from travel and yoga. Always be flexible.

If you know me, you know I’m a food and wine person. I am also a restaurant junkie. I love to cook, but it’s nice to have someone do it for me. Especially when I travel. I enjoy reading about restaurants, chefs, food, techniques, etc. On my list of must eat restaurants in Napa was Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. I have followed him on television since his Napa Style TV show in 2004 and heard many great things about Bottega. I knew we had to eat there. Plus, after reading 36 Hours in Napa Valley I took the lead and secured a reservation – 2 months in advance. After relying on a shaky GPS, driving up and down a mountain, being over an hour late (I detest lateness) – the restaurant welcomed us with open arms and a great glass of Pinot Noir.

It was a great end to a busy day of travel and first day in Napa Valley. Stay tuned for more.

{Yoga Room in San Francisco Airport.}


{Lexus RX 450h Car for the #TakeANapa Tour.}


{The Lexus RX450h has a real outlet for the backseat smartphone junkies.}


{Downtown Calistoga}

Calistoga 2

{Home base.}

Calistoga 1

{It was too chilly for the pool, but the mineral hot tub hit the spot.}

Calistoga 4

{How cute is the room situation?}

Calistoga 5

{Essential Elements in the bathrooms. A decent hotel amenity.}


{Dinner at the world renowned Bottega Napa Valley. It was worth every single calorie.}


{Grilled artichokes. Yum!}


 {Grilled Shortrib Meatballs}


{Black Pepper Bucatini alla Carbonara. I can go back to Bottega just for this dish}


{2012 California Pinot Noir. Superb.}



{Disclosure: I received discounted travel assistance from Calistoga Tourism. All opinions are my own.}


Travel Diary: Devon Valley Hotel in Cape Winelands, South Africa

I traveled to Cape Winelands in 2010 before heading to the World Cup in other parts of South Africa. It was one of those bucket list trips, but I never posted the photos or wrote what made it so memorable. Growing up in Houston I always knew that my life would be very different than other members of my family. I know some of them could really care less about travel. They love hearing about my adventures, but that is for Ju-Ju. All they need is my itinerary and to know I made it safely back home.

I always knew I wanted a life full of passport stamps, adventur, and joie de vivre. It wasn’t until my late 20s when I decided this thinking was okay and that they didn’t have to “get me.” If you never thought of going to South Africa I beg you to reconsider. It’s worth every single cent you have to save to get there. I suggest visiting the Cape Winelands if you are a fan of the grape. There are numerous wineries for afternoons of sipping, pondering, and discovering something different.

The Devon Valley Hotel was our base and the perfect place to recover from a very long day of travel. If you know me you know two things: (1) I hate to fly (ironic, I know) and (2) I don’t sleep on planes. So you can imagine how exhausted I was landing in Africa. After navigating driving on the opposite side of the highway, shifting gears on the opposite side of the car, and deciding it was better that The Don drive we arrived to mountains, fresh air, and luxury. The hotel has its very own winery next door. SylvanVale Vineyards is part of the hotel. It was great sampling their many wines on our trip. I just wish I could find them here in the states. Delicious.

Happy Travel Tuesday!

Devon Valley

Devon Vally Hotel

Devon Valley Bath

SylvanVale Vineyards

SylvanVale Wine Menu

Wine tasting at SylvanVale

SylvanVale Vineyards Fave

We visited was Peter Falke Wines. The view and the atmosphere was simple stunning and the wine was equally as divine.

{Peter Falke Wines}

Peter Falke Wines 1

Peter Falke Wines 4

Peter Falke Wines 5

Peter Falke Wines 2

Peter Falke Wines 7

 {Wine + contemplation = a great life!}

Peter Falke Wines 3

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