Dream Europe Backpacking Packing List

In summer 2022, I spent five and a half weeks backpacking around Europe. Besides planning where we were going to go, what we were going to eat, and how we were going to get there, my favorite part of this pre-planning was creating my Europe backpacking packing list. 

I am notorious for my packing prowess, so doing a proper backpacking trip was my greatest challenge yet! The key to a successful backpacking pack is condensing, outfit planning, and knowing you’ll be doing laundry. I knew that we’d only be packing our essentials, so I paid close attention to what we were using on a regular basis and what we could do without for a few weeks. 

Not only is it a good idea to plan your pack, but it’s also the best way to enjoy your backpacking adventure. Read on to find out what I needed most and what I could’ve left behind!

Need: The Backpack

A red Fairpoint 55L backpack by Osprey.
Photo courtesy of Osprey.

Obviously, the star of the Europe backpacking packing list is the backpack. When it comes to the best travel backpacks, you can’t go wrong with an Osprey. Both my husband and I had our Osprey Fairpoint and Fairview packs with us in Europe which we couldn’t have done without. (Be sure to get the 55L which is a 40L sized full backpack with a 15L day pack and is carry-on friendly!)

Not to mention the dozens of other backpackers we encountered with Ospreys too!

These packs come with a day pack which actually zips to the back of your big backpack for easy carrying. Or you can go the goober route as we did and wear your daypack on your chest through airports or train stations. When you’re short like we are, it’s much easier to stay balanced this way. 

Getting weeks of stuff into a backpack seems intimidating, but you’d be impressed with how much space these Osprey bags give you! Plus they have boning in the back to help alleviate the pressure/weight of carrying all your stuff. 

*My critical note about these backpacks is that if you have a chest with a D cup or larger (like I do) you probably won’t get the chest strap to fit comfortably around you if you can get it to fit at all. This is a frustrating feature given that my backpack is specifically designed “for women.”* 

Need: Packing Cubes

TRIPPED packing cubes featuring different travel scenes like the beach.
Photo courtesy of TRIPPED.

I could never imagine a Europe backpacking packing list without TRIPPED packing cubes. Not only do these marvelous little innovations compact your clothes, but they also keep them organized so you don’t have to worry about digging through everything just to find that pair of socks. 

Personally, I used one, smaller cube for my underwear, bras, and socks and the largest one from the set for my clothes. My rule of thumb for packing clothes for the trip was: if it doesn’t fit in these two cubes, it’s not coming with me. The one exception to this was my handy travel cardigan which I would tie around myself or my backpack on travel days. It’s important to always have something you can layer (like a sweater or rain jacket) with when the weather gets chilly–even in summer. 

Plus you can hang the cubes in the closet of your hotel or Airbnb to stay organized. I often used the larger cube as a laundry bag as I wore clothes out of it to keep my clean clothes separate from them. 

Need: Keep Your Bags Together

The Love Cincha belt which features the Progressive Pride flag pattern.
Photo courtesy of Cincha.

Although your Osprey bags can zip together, you might find yourself in need of an extra way to tote something along the way–even something like your extra sweater or neck pillow. Never lose your pillow again!

Even off of a European backpacking adventure, I love my Cincha bag belt. 

My Cincha means I don’t have to worry about lugging any extra pieces or towels in my arms on travel days. It is strong enough to hold your bags together even if you’re running full tilt to a plane gate at the airport.  

Need: Comfortable Shoes

Black Sketchers Go Joy walking shoe.
Photo courtesy of Sketchers.

This isn’t necessarily something you need to pack (I always wear my favorite walking shoes or boots on the plane/travel days), however, you do need to have comfortable shoes in your Europe backpacking packing list. If you’re spending weeks hoofing it through cobblestone streets you’ll be putting more stress on your feet if you don’t pack sensibly. 

Bonus: Most packing cube sets come with a shoe bag which is great to double as a wet clothes bag for the beach! Plus the shoe bag means you probably don’t need to pack away plastic bags in your limited suitcase/backpack space. 

Need: Medicine Box

A teal, folding medicine box for travel.
Photo courtesy of FYY.

For my fellow medicated friends (anxiety meds save lives), this medicine box is an absolute godsend. Keep your prescriptions separate from pain meds, antacids, sleep aids, or whatever else you need on a regular basis. 

With magnetic doors to keep it secure, you can keep a bunch of medications all in one compact place. This box saves so much space in your backpack! 

*My note is to take photos of your RX bottles and save them somewhere safe on your phone in case you need them.*

Need: First Aid

Mini first aid kits by DecorRack.
Photo courtesy of DecorRack.

In addition to your medicine box, stash away a miniature first aid kit. I only needed a couple of bandages on my five+ week backpacking adventure, but I’m still very grateful I packed this. You never know when you might need something so it’s good to be prepared. 

Need: Sink Suds

Sink Suds packets.
Photo courtesy of Sink Suds.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have access to a washing machine during your backpacking trip, you’re going to want a pack of Sink Suds. These easily packable detergent packs are made for washing things in sinks or bathtubs and they’re not liquid! 

*My note is that if you’re in a pinch, hair conditioner also works really well for washing clothes. Not only will you get the stink out, but you’ll also condition the material too! Just be sure you scrub in warm water to help kill germs and de-stink your garments.*

Need: Universal Converter

A white universal power adaptor.
Photo courtesy of SublimeWare.

Charging converters have come a long way since my very first independent international trip 15 years ago. Gone are the days of having to juggle individual outlet converters! 

Universal plug adaptors are compact devices that make space for all your charging needs. I personally prefer ones like this that have multiple USB outlets to keep all my electronics charged or split with my partner or friends. 

Need: Cozy Pajamas

Black model wearing lavender colored PJs from Dagsmejan.
Photo courtesy of Dagsmejan.

Especially if you plan on backpacking Europe with a friend (like we did with our pal/fellow travel writer Cait Kontalis), you might want to pack some cozy PJs to avoid any awkward travel roomie moments. 

Dagsmejan jammies are beyond comfortable, take up minimal space and feel like luxury. Not to mention you’ll stay cool even if you’re a hot sleeper like I am. Plus, if you’re roughing it at a hostel or micro-hotel, you can feel like a million bucks with your Dagsmejan pajamas. 

Need: Reusable Travel Mug

Teal colored MyBevi tumbler.
Photo courtesy. of MyBevi.

If you drink as much coffee and tea as I do, having your own reusable travel mug along on your backpacking trip is always a good idea. I love MyBevi because it keeps my drinks (both hot and cold) at their correct temperatures throughout the day. Also, it’s nice to not have to use disposable cups all the time. 

Plus they’re durable, adorable, and very easy to hand wash even in a tiny sink. I love these!

*My advice: Bring your own tea and coffee to save some $$$ along the way. Ditch the boxes and store them in a reusable shopping bag you can use throughout your trip. Or pack them in the inside zipping pocket in your Osprey bag.*

Need: Reusable Water Bottle

Brita water bottle in orchid (light purple).
Photo courtesy of Brita.

Whether you want to go the Stojo collapsible bottle route or grab a Brita water bottle with a built-in filter, your bottle will be your best friend. Believe me, you will need that water with all the walking you’ll be doing in Europe! This is an absolute must for a Europe backpacking packing list.

*My advice: Hook a carabiner to your water bottle to attach to your backpack. I lost my Brita bottle five days into our five-and-a-half-week trip because it popped out of my backpack bottle holder.* 

Need: Portable Jacket

Bright red Voller puffer coat.
Photo courtesy of Voller.

Honestly, if I backpacked around to different countries again, I would do it in the autumn or spring–to enjoy the cooler months. And I’d immediately pack my Voller puffer coat. Their vibrant-colored coats are gorgeous, packable and a really great option to have on hand. Plus you’ll never lose these brightly colored babies on the back of a chair because they’re that hard to miss!

I didn’t bring my Voller with me on this Europe backpacking adventure simply because it wouldn’t make sense with the warm weather. But I highly recommend bringing one along, especially if you run cold. 

Need: Travel Umbrella

Rainbow colored umbrella from Repel.
Photo courtesy of Repel.

Particularly if you plan on visiting places where rain is a frequent occurrence (looking at you Ireland), you’ll want a portable umbrella. Even if you end up not ever needing it, it’s better to have it with you so you don’t spend a whole day walking around soaked to the bone. 

After all: few things are as nasty as walking in humid weather and wet socks. 

Leave: The “Just in Case” Makeup

The compact, all-in-one Woosh makeup palette.
Photo courtesy of Woosh.

Look, I don’t blame you, I find myself doing this a lot. I always pack a little “just in case” makeup even if I have very limited space. But, let’s be honest, you probably don’t need it. When I travel I usually only do my eyebrows and mascara. Between the sweat, the sun, and the sunscreen, putting any other makeup on is a waste for me. 

If you absolutely need to pack portable makeup just in case, I highly recommend an all-in-one travel palette like the stackable pieces by Woosh

Leave: The Sun Hat

Black and white Verabella sun hat.
Photo courtesy of Verabella.

I love a portable sun hat. I have every aspiration of wearing that hat and looking cute while doing it. That said, I wore my sun hat maybe twice in five weeks. Did I look adorable in it? Absolutely! Could I have traveled without it? Absolutely!

Should you want a rollable sun hat like mine, grab one of these! They fit wonderfully in a backpack. 

Leave: Extra Sunnies

Oversized cat eye style sunglasses.
Photo courtesy of The Fresh.

As someone who wears glasses, I usually pack two pairs of sunglasses when I travel. One prescription pair and a regular pair in case I wear my contacts. If, like me, you’re usually wearing your glasses, just assume that will be the case for the weeks you’re backpacking. I didn’t wear my regular sunglasses a single time in five weeks. 

Sure, they don’t take up much backpack space, but every little bit counts! 

Leave: The Books

Journal covered in passport stamps.
Journal I designed!

This goes without saying, but do not pack books when you’re backpacking Europe! A lightweight journal? Sure. But you don’t need to bring all your beach reads in print form. Even if your backpack feels manageable around the house or even on the first few legs of your trip, the weight will get to you eventually. 

Unless you cannot live without your print edition of whatever you’re reading, just download it electronically. Your back and Europe backpacking packing list will thank you. 

Leave: Outfit Swaps

clothes hanger hanged on clothes rack
Photo by EVG Kowalievska on Pexels.com

Even for me, this is the hardest part of a European backpacking packing list. I laid each piece of clothing I wanted to take on my bed and saw which ones I could put together for the most ensembles. Altogether for clothing, I packed: 

  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras 
  • 1 pair of paper bag pants
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 swim coverup/bonus extra layer
  • 3 tank tops
  • 2 rompers
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 pair of sandals (flip flops)
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes

Bottom Line

Packing for a European backpacking trip does not have to be scary or intimidating. If you give yourself the space to plan your pack, it can be an enjoyable experience. Even if you do that you might still overpack, but that’s still a lesson for next time! 

Backpacking was way more fun than I thought it would be, even if we had rough airport days that made us wish we’d had our rolling suitcases. All in all, our adventure was beyond my wildest expectations and I would encourage anyone to backpack at least once in their lifetime, even if it’s just a week. 

Knowing how minimalist you can pack is a freeing experience in itself. 

I Hate Bucket Lists

You read that right–I hate bucket lists.

Every once in a while I’m asked to write about bucket lists. It’s a topic I see everywhere in travel media. The phrase is so overused I don’t think people think about It anymore–let alone what it actually means. Like a virus, it seeps into the very notion we all have about travel.

And, inevitably, people often ask me what places are on my personal bucket list. I don’t know because I don’t have one. I can’t get past how much I hate bucket lists.

The idea that seeing the world equates to elitism, wealth, or something to be earned breaks my heart. Travel isn’t cheap (a tangent for another day) but it isn’t something that should be finite either. 

What We Lose

Besides the limiting nature of the phrase, it also has the power to make us hyperfocus on what we think we want. That could keep us from taking opportunities we might not otherwise have considered.

That’s probably the biggest reason I hate bucket lists.

Typewriter typing "things to do before."
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

For example, I had always wanted to see Paris. It wasn’t on my “bucket list” per se, but the City of Lights was an aspiration of mine. When I got there on my 2022 backpacking adventure, I was underwhelmed by the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. Imagine if that had been my trip of a lifetime and how soul-crushing that moment would have been. 

Yet earlier in 2022, I had the unexpected opportunity to go to Costa Rica. CR was not a place high on my radar and yet, I fell hard for the magnificent country. From the cuisine (Casados are life) to my first glimpses of rainforest and getting matching tattoos with my favorite guide on Earth, this unexpected journey filled my heart with experiences I never dreamed of. 

Most miraculous of all? I ziplined Superman-style over a canopy of trees–despite my fear of heights utterly terrified of heights. When I reached the other side and got my bearings, tears of joy erupted from my eyes. I had done something I never would have considered to be on my “bucket list.” And that something became a core memory of overcoming my boundaries.

It is in the moments we don’t plan for that give us the most in this life. 

Hot air balloons flying over the desert.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

What We Gain

Do you know that twinge of melancholy that strikes at the end of a much-looked-forward-to vacation? For me, that’s the desire to dream about the next adventure. A harkening to see new or different horizons. 

A trip shouldn’t be a box to tick off of a list of things to do before we die. Travel is something we do to help us live

Destinations don’t have to be far away. We can be tourists in our own cities if we give ourselves permission to see the sights differently. 

Trips should inspire us to keep exploring, learning, and growing. When we center travel as hard won we put so much pressure on that trip to be everything we ever dreamed of. Inevitably the journey won’t be perfect as things rarely are and it could invariably poison you against traveling again. 

What I’ve Learned

More than that, the idea of a “bucket list” implies that we have to think of death before expanding our horizons. At my age (I’m 30) that isn’t something I think about very often. Yet we never truly know when our time is up. 

Not to mention the things we could miss out on if we wait too long to travel:

  • Had The Great Wall of China been on my “bucket list,” and I tried to see it 40 years from now, it’s possible I wouldn’t have been able to walk the uneven surface.
  • If Australia had been on my “bucket list” I might not have had the stamina to snorkel the reefs and spent unexpected swim time with a reef shark. 
  • The seemingly endless stairs at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica would’ve ruined a “bucket list” trip for 70-year-old Amanda. And I wouldn’t have been able to see the splendid waterfalls.
My friend Cait and I in Costa Rica.
Photo by Kyle Haggerty

More than that, we don’t know if we’ll be able to see the world in three, four, or five years. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught me anything it’s that life is too short for bucket lists. We aren’t promised our future dreams. We can only make do with what we have today. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do have lists of places I would love to see. Among them are Tanzania, South Africa, Japan, the Maldives, Thailand, and Peru. However, when people ask me where on Earth I want to see in this lifetime, I can’t give them a list. Because every place on Earth is a place I’d love to see (for the first or millionth time.)

When we tell ourselves that the journeys we dream of are within our reach, we can make them happen. If we keep putting them off for a later day–it’s possible that day will never come. 

Why Prague Should Be Your Next European Adventure

When I was growing up, Bohemia was a place of fantasy for me. I knew I was Bohemian. Still, what that meant couldn’t encompass what it felt like to be in my ancestral homeland. What was once Bohemia (with Prague at its center) became Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic (or Czechia.) Yet, despite all the name changes, Prague is still there at the center of it all. 

During my five-week European adventure in the summer of 2022, I can say without hesitation that Prague was my favorite stop. Not that other cities didn’t take my breath away. Prague just had something different.

Plus, it held my familial heritage in the palm of its hand. 

The face of the Prague Astronomical Clock, the only clock of its kind in the world that still works.
The Prague Astronomical Clock, the only medieval astronomical clock that still works in the entire world! Photo by Haggerty Photography.

Prague is so much more than its beer scene

If you look up what to do in Prague, you undoubtedly find site after site noting the city’s beer scene. Sure, you can get a really cheap beer in Prague or Czechia in general. Cool. There has to be more reason to visit this magnificent city than just a cheap beer. It breaks my heart that the City of a Hundred Spires amounts to getting a pint for €3. 

The city is home to Bohemian culture, glass artisans, centuries-old artworks, and the world’s only working Medieval astronomical clock (the Prague astronomical clock.) You can uncover secrets of the city’s past beneath the cobblestone streets with underground tours, take in the history of how it largely survived WWII, and eat your weight in chimney cakes (Trdelník.) 

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the perks of cheap beer while you’re abroad. That said, don’t let that rob you of a real Prague adventure. 

A small skyline view of Prague that includes Prague Castle, taken from the river on a riverboat.
A view of Prague (including Prague Castle) from the Vltava River on a riverboat. Photo by Haggerty Photography.

Savings extend far beyond the booze

Prague has a reputation for cheap beer, though it is also far and away an affordable place to visit. Of the seven cities we visited this summer, Prague was the most affordable by far. (Particularly since we ended our tour in Reykjavik which was far and away the most expensive.) There was a time when Prague was an even cheaper destination. But it is still easy to see it on a budget. 

US News named Prague the 2nd cheapest European vacation spot in 2022. It’s been on such lists across the web for years despite rising costs across the European Union. It may be known as The Golden City, but don’t let the nickname fool you. You don’t have to be drowning in gold to have a good time here. 

Sit-down restaurants, like anywhere in the world, will run up your bill. However, Prague is blessed with cafes, bakeries, and Trdelník spots galore. It’s easy to get by on $40 or less per person per day in food–particularly if you score a hotel with free breakfast. Though not a budget option, the Four Seasons Prague has an incredible breakfast spread. You can even get it included in your room rate. (Not to mention their hotel rooms are too dreamy for words.)

I couldn’t resist starting each day with a kolach (a sweet Czechia pastry with cream cheese or preserves in the middle.) My family has a recipe for these that I’ve been obsessed with since childhood. If you’ve never had a kolach, I can’t recommend them enough.  

A photo showing a bird's eye view of Prague from the top of City Hall in Old Town Square.
A bird’s eye view of Prague from the top of City Hall in Old Town Square. Photo by Haggerty Photography.

Being in your own fairytale

There isn’t a better way to describe Prague than to say it is like living in a fairytale. 

When you’re surrounded by cloud-piercing spires, medieval architecture, Baroque aesthetics, and to-die-for views of the Vltava River, you’ll want for nothing. You can even meander the Charles Bridge in Prague over the Vltava and admire some 14th century statue work.

It’s impossible not to look around in awe whether it’s been a day or a week of being in Prague. The moment I stepped foot in the city I knew it would be a place that would stay with me long after I’d left it. 

My husband and I spent a lot of time just wandering the cobblestone streets of Prague. You don’t need a daily agenda to enjoy the majesty of this miraculous city–all you need is a sense of wonder. 

5 Tips for First Time Visitors to Ireland

Ireland is one of my favorite places on Earth—and for good reason! The moment you touch down on The Emerald Isle for your first time in Ireland, there is green as far as the eye can see. Suddenly you realize that this country earned its nickname for a reason!

That said, just like visiting any place there are some things I wish I’d known before seeing Ireland for the first time. Learn from my experiences to be better prepared for a magical adventure.

Buildings in Dublin on the waterfront. A must see for a first time in Ireland.
Photo by Steven Hylands on Pexels.com

1. Be prepared for all weather

Obviously, it must rain a lot in a place that is so lush and green. Like most places, Ireland has a rainy season (December and January) though it does rain frequently on the island even outside those months. Regardless of what a weather app might say, come prepared for at least one rainy day when you visit.

And, honestly, even if it’s a wetter time of year, December is still a magical time to see Ireland. It’s a bit chillier, yet it’s the off-season so things are cheaper and far less crowded. Plus, you get the magic of the holiday season! That means plenty of charming Christmas markets that are simply the best. [Be sure to grab a hot cocoa from Butler’s Chocolate Café, they’re the best!]

2. Invest in a CityPass

If you are a museum and hot tourist spot kind of traveler, CityPass will be your best friend–especially for your first time in Ireland. A one-time payment gives you access to myriad museums, locations, and even hop-on/hop-off bus tours. I highly recommend investing in a CityPass, particularly if you’re visiting Dublin. You’ll save a ton of money.

fast red bus on the road. These kinds of tour busses are a great way to see Dublin for a first visit to Ireland.
Photo by lawlesscapture on Pexels.com

3. You’re entitled to some sales taxes back

Countries within the European Union (EU) participate in a program called the Retail Export Scheme. This scheme means you are entitled to getting sales taxes back on some purchases. Tax savings can be done at locations all around the island, particularly in bigger cities like Dublin and Cork. Getting your sales tax back might be more trouble than it’s worth depending on what you’re buying, but it’s a good tip to know!

During my first time in Ireland I believe we got back about €30.

4. Know where your hotel is located (and what’s around it)

We made the mistake of staying at a cute hotel in a good neighborhood on our last visit to Dublin. What was wrong with it? Well, it was across the street from a 24-hour dance club. If you stay at a hotel without air conditioning you must open the windows to get some fresh air and there are screaming drunks outside at all hours of the night. If you find yourself staying at a place like that, be sure to ask for a room facing away from the main street or invest in some good earplugs.

Street view of The Temple Bar in Dublin. Be sure to visit during your first visit to Ireland.
Photo by Mark Dalton on Pexels.com

5. Check the labels on products—always

You can find some incredible wool products in Ireland. From sweaters to gloves to cute felted sheep, Ireland’s wool is out of this world. But, like anywhere, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Quality wool isn’t cheap. If you see a cheap sweater or wool product, there’s a good chance it wasn’t made in Ireland or it’s not a quality purchase. Always check the product labels if you’re suspicious of a good deal.

Must-haves for a first-time visitor

Last Minute Ultimate Packing List

So, you leave on vacation tomorrow (or in three hours) and you haven’t packed–let alone written a packing list. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Why else would you be reading this last-minute packing list?

It’s easy to let the anxiety take over at this point. Just take a deep breath. Packing doesn’t have to be a nightmare, we’ll get through this together. Whether you’re about to embark on a short trip, a weekend trip, or a long-awaited getaway, we’ll get you there.

The most important thing is not to panic.

Save this for your own peace of mind on your next adventure. Having a packing list handy can save a lot of time and headaches in the long run.

A brown and black duffel bag on a car seat. Your most important packing list items go in your small, personal item/bag.
A personal item to start off your last-minute packing list journey. Photo by Jens Mahnke on Pexels.com

Personal Item (Bag) Packing List

Here is where I make a Keep Calm and Carry On joke–sorry, it can’t be helped.

Honestly, the most important things you need off of your packing list are often in your personal item/bag. Why? Just on the off chance, your carry-on bag gets relegated to the plane’s underbelly, you’re going to want these specific, personal items with you.

Woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage--the carry-on bag will have most of your packing list items. init.
Your carry-on bag will have the most items from your packing list in it. Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Carry-on Bag Packing List

If you’re like me and travel on the lighter side, your carry-on bag is where the rest of your personal items will go. Even on longer trips, I don’t pack more than a carry-on because it’s so much easier to hustle through airport security or the crowded subway with minimalist packing.

It’s a good idea to make sure your carry-on bag has an I.D. tag on it, just in case, before you leave for the airport too! You never know if you’ll get to be a lucky carry-on for checked baggage at the gate “volunteer.”

While you have a good internet connection, be sure you add your destination to whatever weather app you use. It’ll help you plan your travel outfits (even in a last-minute packing pinch.)

  • Toiletry bag (opaque for non-liquids and transparent under a quart/liter for liquids)
  • TSA-approved liquids (under 3 oz.) or in reusable 3 oz. bottles
  • Packing cubes (these are my favorite and you’ll save so much space)
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Bathing suit (if it applies)
  • Swimsuit coverup (if applicable)
  • Sandals in a shoe bag (if it applies)
  • Dressy shoes (if it applies)
  • Laundry bag (even a plastic shopping bag will do)
  • One pair of underwear for each day (I rarely pack more than seven and will do laundry if needed)
  • One pair of socks for each active day (same idea as above)
  • Bras (I usually pack one regular bra and then bralettes or VAI Athletica sports bras for comfort)
  • One pant per two/three days
  • One shirt per day (again, up to a week and then laundry)
  • A purse that can be packed flat
A Pomeranian dog inside a bag. No, there aren't any doggies on this packing list.
Sorry, we don’t have any cute puppies on this packing list. Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

Pro Packing List Tips

Even last-minute packers can make use of these handy travel tips I’ve picked up over the years. Not only will they save you space in your luggage, but they’ll also save you money if you tend to overpack.

  • Wear your biggest shoes on the plane
  • Wear your heavier items or just carry them along with you
  • Only pack formal wear if you know you’ll need it
  • Bring a foldable shopping or smaller bag in case you need to store something in it and tie it to your personal item
  • Digitize your important documents
  • Pack clothing items that can be put into different outfits
  • Make sure you always have easy access to your important documents and money
beautiful view of moraine lake
Photo by Jaime Reimer on Pexels.com

Pro Travel Tips

While not packing list related, we wanted to help ease some of that last-minute packing stress by sharing a few pieces of frequent traveler wisdom with you. Hopefully, these tips help you and your travel companions have a good time away!

  • Check-in for flights online
    • Unless it’s utterly impossible, always check in for your flight online. You can skip the check-in line (another reason I always pack just a carry-on) and head straight to security. A few airlines have even implemented fees for not checking in online. I saw that for the first time this summer with Ryanair.
  • Some airport lounges frequently have paid walk-in entry
    • That’s right! Even without something like Priority Pass you can often buy your way into certain airport lounges for $20-$40. Especially if you’re stuck a the airport for a long time, it’s often worth the fee for free food and drinks. (Not to mention the lounging space.)
  • Always bring a reusable water bottle
  • Be prepared for security: have your must-remove items in easy reach
  • Be sure your phone apps are updated
  • Your phone map most likely can show you locations within the airport including gates, cafes, and toilets.
  • If you can, order ahead
    • A lot of order-ahead locations like Starbucks or Dunkin utilize that service even in airports. I’ve gotten drinks made in minutes and avoided an hour-long line in the process.
A brown leather duffel bag
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

One Last Thing

In all of the adrenaline of planning a trip, I hope you haven’t forgotten to leave room for fun. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had while traveling involved a sense of spontaneity.

Sometimes we can find a lot of joy in doing things last minute or not planning at all. Embrace the newness of wherever you are headed–even if it’s somewhere you’ve been before–and be present.

Above all: travel confidently!

Four Must-Do Experiences in Ponce, Puerto Rico

When visiting a place like Puerto Rico, it’s easy to just go to San Juan. It’s the largest city, the capital and often the most talked about in tourism. However, there is so much to Puerto Rico beyond San Juan–especially in Ponce. Ponce is the second-largest city on the island and is known as “La Perla del Sur” or “The Pearl of the South.”

You’ll understand when you arrive in Ponce why it is considered such a treasure. 

With stunning beaches, an incredible arts scene, and architectural beauties you will fall in love with this city as I did. Although truth be told, I didn’t get to experience the beaches or the bioluminescent bay because of continuous torrential rain. So obviously I have reason to want to go back. 

Here are the experiences you do not want to miss out on when seeing Puerto Rico’s Southern Pearl.

The patio of a gallery in Ponce.

See the bio bay

This is a no-brainer for me. There are only five ecosystems on Earth that can sustain the high number of platonic dinoflagellates that create the famous “glow” of a bioluminescent bay. Puerto Rico has three bio bays, one of which is accessible from Ponce. La Parguera is where you’ll want to check out this remarkable phenomenon. As you travel through the water you see the plankton “light up” from the movement, emanating a blue-green glow. 

Of course, as I said earlier, visiting a bio bay can be deterred by bad weather. The planktons are saltwater marine life that doesn’t like the fresh rain water. Sadly, that’s a part of travel. Sometimes things don’t work out. But definitely plan on seeing the bay if you can!

The main square in downtown Ponce and the Fountain of Lions.

Book a tour with Isla Caribe

Walking tours usually end up on my must-do lists. I love a good walking tour because you get a closer view of the history of a place and really get to understand how it feels to be there. No tour has ever come close to the ones offered of Ponce by Isla Caribe.

Not only is the company woman-owned, but it is also run with the kind of care you don’t usually see in the tour industry. Our tour guide didn’t just memorize a set of factoids about Ponce–she is from the city and deeply loves it. Plus there is more care when giving the history of a place you love than somewhere you just know about. You walk away with a deeper sense of place than you would elsewhere.

(Bra wearing folks, be sure to wear your Vai Athletica on walking tour days. You’re going to want those phone cameras handy! Be sure to pack one of these flexible holders too, because getting good photos/videos isn’t always easy on the move.)

This is the kind of tour that should be offered everywhere. I would go back just to learn more from the women behind Isla Caribe. 

Check out Castillo Serrallés

From high above the city of Ponce, just below the giant concrete cross-shaped tower (Cruceta del Vigía), is Castillo Serrallés. Also known as El Castillo or Serralés Castle, this estate circa the 1930s was once home to the Serralés family. The family is one of the foremost families in Ponce’s (and Puerto Rico’s) history. They introduced sugar cane production to the island in the 1830s before starting the island’s first rum distillery.

Now El Castillo houses the museum of their legacy as well as that of their ongoing rum company: Don Q. 

Don Q is short for Don Quixote. So, if you’re anything like me, you will make a bunch of silly windmill jokes on the tour. The tasty drinks you sample certainly help with the bad joke-making. I loved the mixology portion of our tour, it was a fabulous way to end the excursion.

A view of Ponce from El Castillo.

Grab lunch at Níspero Asador

Just steps away from downtown Ponce is Níspero Asador. Named for the shady fruit tree on the patio, Níspero was my favorite foodie stop in Ponce. Try to sit out on the patio if you can, though be mindful that níspero (or Japanese loquat) fruits may drop from the tree. So if you hear a *thud* on the brick, don’t be alarmed. 

No matter what time of day you visit this spot, definitely bring your appetite! I ordered a salad with churrasco, a crispy marinated skirt steak, and got a cut of steak almost the size of my plate! It was so tasty, but way too much food for me! 

If you like a good cocktail, don’t skip the cocktail menu here! You will have a hard time narrowing it down. And definitely don’t skip the desserts either. I highly recommend the tiramisu. Especially if the weather is hot and humid, the tiramisu cools you right down.

75+ Las Vegas Instagram Captions

You’re finally there! The City of Lights! Now you need to come up with some Las Vegas Instagram captions to avoid writing some silly post referencing “The Hangover” six times. (No judgement, I get it.)

So here are some iconic quotes to get your inspiration running whether you’re in Vegas now or will be sometime soon. Let’s see how others have talked about Sin City, to inspire your Vegas Instagram captions shall we?

“I love the vibe of Las Vegas.” – J. Balvin

“There is absolutely nothing you can’t do, see, eat or buy in Las Vegas. It is a magical wonderland where everything is possible – especially in the world of showbiz where everything feels so big, bright and spectacular.” – Arlene Phillips

“It seems strange to say this, but it is true: Coming back to Vegas to work is like going on vacation for me.” – Celine Dion

“When you get your name out there in Las Vegas and New York, that boosts your brand even more.” – Terence Crawford

“I have always loved Las Vegas. It’s a traditional place for lounge comics to perform, and I love that.” – Norm MacDonald

aerial photography of city during evening to inspire Vegas instagram captions.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Las Vegas, Nevada: A city where oddities don’t make you lame, but instead bring you riches and fortune and fame.” – Walter Wykes

“Vegas embodies every brash, joyous cliché about the U.S. that the rest of the world hopes might be true.” – Mark Ellwood

“I don’t drink much anymore, but when I traveled with Frank Sinatra, God rest his soul, I used to drink like I could do it. He made it a test. In Vegas, the Rat Pack, which I was a little part of, drank all night and slept most of the day. Then, about 5 o’clock, we’d meet in the hotel steam room, lock the door, and steam our brains out.” – Don Rickles

“Seriously, why tour the world when all you have to do is visit Las Vegas and see all the highlights in one location?” – Jeff Maguire

“Las Vegas is the most honest fake city in the world.” – Frank Scoblete

white concrete building near water fountain to inspire Vegas instagram captions.
Photo by Antonio Janeski on Pexels.com

Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” – Paul Samuelson

“There’s no better place than Vegas to take a chance and gamble on love.” – Becca Kufrin

“Nevada’s one of the most conservative states in the Union, but you can do what you want in Vegas and nobody judges you.” – Drew Carey

“I love Vegas. It’s like going to Disneyland.” – Vanessa Marcil

“Las Vegas is a city built on hopes, dreams, and a little bit of crazy.” – Michael Mcdonald

people walking in Las Vegas to inspire Vegas instagram captions.
Photo by Prime Cinematics on Pexels.com

“Las Vegas honors women – Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Britney Spears. I love that Las Vegas celebrates women.” – Jennifer Coolidge

“There’s actually a song called ‘Vegas Lights,’ which I wanted to be an anthem for Vegas, that represented how I felt when I went to the clubs. I felt this weird energy where everybody was having a good time, and it didn’t matter. Dancing like nobody’s watching. It was kind of beautiful.” – Brendon Urie

In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number. – Steven Wright

“Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks–it says, Goodbye.” – Frank Sinatra

“Vegas is the answer, no matter the question.” – Unknown

signboard placed near entrance to city on sunny day
Photo by Enric Cruz López on Pexels.com

“I have a very warm spot in my heart for Vegas.” – Louie Anderson

“So, you know, if, if I wanted to get up and just play golf one day, I would just get up and play golf. If I wanted to go to Vegas, I would just get up and go to Vegas.” – Michael Phelps

“Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“I love Vegas. God knows that I know how to find my way around the buffets in Las Vegas.” – Mick Majerus

“Guests love to be ‘wowed’ in Las Vegas. They enjoy and embrace new tastes, new flavors, and they come to expect the unexpected in Las Vegas.” – Michael Mina

high angle view of city scape
Photo by Quintin Gellar on Pexels.com

“Artie said it would be nice if we got married. I said it would be nice, too. The next thing I knew, we were on our way to Las Vegas.” – Lana Turner

“I always love going to Vegas.” – Kyle Richards

“Why can’t we remember anything that happened last night?” – “The Hangover”

“A Las Vegas show is all-round entertainment. Which means there’s some singing, some dancing, some magic, some drama – everything is rolled into that one performance.” – Ne-Yo

“When I arrived in Las Vegas, I felt I was embraced by it.” – Jerry Lewis

bird s eye view of building during dusk
Photo by Marina Monroe on Pexels.com

“So much of Las Vegas falls under the heading “it has to be seen to be believed.” – Jeff Maguire

“I do think that people go to Las Vegas for ‘whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ They go for the spectacle.” – Charles Bock

“I’m probably one of the worst people with numbers you’ve ever met. My brothers always kid that they think I’m counting cards in Vegas, but I’m just trying to add things up.” – Luke Wilson

“Las Vegas is like that, a place that resonates in such a way that wouldn’t know if the place is real.” – Ian Astbury

“Yeah, Vegas is the number one place to go. Vegas is Sin City. It really gives you a feeling of looseness and anything can go.” – Jim Belushi

motor vehicles driving on the road
Photo by Get Lost Mike on Pexels.com

“I like Vegas for its spontaneity.” – Tony Curtis

“I just love coming to Vegas. There is always a good energy here; the minute you get off the plane, it is happy.” – Kelly Carlson

“The thing I love about Vegas is there’s something for any type of mood you’re in and something for any kind of adventure you seek out.” – Christina Tosi

“It was a melting pot in Las Vegas. You got every age level, every ethnic background, every social aura – it was an absolute Americana audience… people who were there to celebrate occasions; people who were there to gamble; people who were there because they were awed by the whole Vegas operation. Tourists.” – Norm Crosby

“I usually love to go bowling when I’m in Vegas. There’s something about Vegas and bowling, do you know what I mean? You know what I mean. Bowling is just the thing to do.” – Rutina Wesley

people playing poker
Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

“Las Vegas and I both grew up together, and all of a sudden I was doing things that no performer had ever done before.” – Wayne Newton

“Vegas is my town, my people.” – Larry Johnson

“I went with a friend to see Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas, in the last year that he was performing. He wasn’t necessarily on top form, but the way he could connect with an audience and the way he communicated through the lyrics was something I hadn’t ever really seen before.” – Ron Howard

“I don’t think anyone leaves Las Vegas rejuvenated, their skin shining, their bank accounts glowing. No one leaves Vegas, like, ‘I didn’t make one mistake. That felt great. Back to work.” – Iliza Shlesinger

“No one thinks Las Vegas is real; it is illusion, but visitors willingly suspend disbelief and pretend.” – Hal Rothman

high rise buildings in Las Vegas to inspire Vegas instagram captions.
Photo by Ira Bowman on Pexels.com

“I really love Las Vegas. It’s, like, my favorite place to be. I love to DJ out there. It is the place to be as a DJ.” – Pauly D.

“Las Vegas is a beautiful place. I like it more and more and plan to be here often. It’s a great place for chess.” – Anatoly Karpov

“There’s really only one constant in Las Vegas and that’s change.” – Travis Hoium

“The brand of Las Vegas is adult freedom, and our campaigns reflect that brand. The ‘What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas’ is still a wildly popular slogan and lauded as one of the top tourism-related campaigns of all time.” – Heidi Hayes

“People don’t understand that Las Vegas is such a small community, beyond the tourists who visit here. If you’ve lived here for a long time, you know everybody.” – Zak Bagans

cafes and stores at lave vegas venice nevada usa
Photo by Enric Cruz López on Pexels.com

“Vegas is famous for a lot of things, and bad marriages are one of them. Margo and I are proof that you can make this work. It just takes a little effort.” – Ron White

“But Vegas is really my first home.” – David Copperfield

“The people who say New York never sleeps must have never visited Las Vegas.” – Michelle Madow

“I shouldn’t be near Vegas and have money in my pocket.” – Adam Sandler

“That’s why I love Las Vegas – it is the ultimate place for excitement.” – Arlene Phillips

time lapse photo of road during night
Photo by Brayden Law on Pexels.com

“Las Vegas is about distraction.” – James Turrell

“Nowhere else in America is everyone really ready to get outta their minds. No pun intended, like my song. Vegas is that place.” – Lil Jon

“If you know how to live in Vegas you can have the best time.” – Tony Curtis

“With everything it has to offer, Las Vegas is an obvious destination for tourists, as proven by the over 40 million visitors the city welcomes per year.” – Jon Porter

“Vegas means comedy, tragedy, happiness and sadness all at the same time.” – Artie Lange

people sitting in a bar
Photo by David Guerrero on Pexels.com

“Vegas is everything that’s right with America. You can do whatever you want, 24 hours a day. They’ve effectively legalized everything there.” – Drew Carey

“There’s just no quiet in Vegas.” – Barry Manilow

“Vegas represents the idea of America I had as a kid. The big cars, the pretty girls; everything is possible in Vegas.” Joel Robuchon

“I love roller coasters that make my stomach drop. One ride in Las Vegas, the Big Shot, straps you into a row of seats and catapults you into the air from the top of the Stratosphere Tower – then plummets back down. I ride it over and over; it’s exhilarating.” – Drew Barrymore

“I love Las Vegas. I like that Las Vegas has everything. Everything and anything you want to do, you can do in Las Vegas.” – Drew Carey

grayscale photography binion s hotel casino
Photo by Kio on Pexels.com

“You can take the girl out of Vegas, but you can’t take the Vegas out of the girl.” – Charisma Carpenter

“Las Vegas is a 24-hour city. It never stops.” – Eli Roth

“Las Vegas is the expression, in glitter and concrete, of America’s brittle and mutating id.” – John Burdett

“I think that Vegas is one of the wildest places I’ve ever been to. You can look to your left and there’s a drag queen getting married by Elvis, to the right there is some old bird sticking quarters into a slot machine for hours.” – Marsha Thomason

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wanted to represent Las Vegas more. Represent the Southwest. It’s a magical place. The desert. I do understand people’s criticisms, but it’s a magical place and a beautiful city, even though there are a lot of things that are wrong with it.” – Brandon Flowers

pink and blue lighted rack
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

“Vegas is a celebration.” – José Andrés

“Sometimes I think I need to get crazy. Go to Vegas.” – Chris Pine

“I’ve always loved it in Las Vegas, and it is the only city in the world that brings so many different talented people from so many places.” – Daniel Boulud

“For a loser, Vegas is the meanest town on earth.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“While I was busy hating Vegas, and hiding from Vegas, a funny thing happened. I grew to love Vegas.” – J. R. Moehringer

Viva Las Vegas!

Cheapest Time to Fly to Costa Rica

So you want to enjoy the Pura Vida life in Costa Rica? I can’t blame you. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen–hands down. But, like traveling anywhere, if you want to visit Costa Rica you’re probably wondering when the best time to visit is. Everyone loves a great deal! Here’s the thing: the best time to visit and the cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica aren’t necessarily the same. 

With airlines, travel dates in the high season are going to be more expensive, but the weather will be nicer. The time of year you decide to fly will determine whether you can access cheap flights or even direct flights. Even so, it’s entirely possible to have a great time in Costa Rica without paying hand over fist for airfare. 

Photo of a Costa Rican waterfall by Amanda Finn from January 2022. The cheapest time to fly and see the waterfalls is July or August.
Photo of a Costa Rican waterfall by Amanda Finn.

Best time to visit

The best time to see Costa Rica is also the most popular time: November, December, and January. Why? Because of the weather. 

For the most part, mid-December through April is considered the dry season. That’s the ideal time to visit Costa Rica. Dry season is also peak tourist season and when you will have plenty of sunshine. Sunshine means a lot when you’re visiting this part of rainforest filled Central America. You might encounter rain, though it’s not likely to stick around all day. (If you’ve been to Florida think quick, rainy afternoons.)

Cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica

That leaves the other half of the year to be the rainy season. This means you guessed it, the cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica is during the rainy season. Specifically during August and July. 

Using my personal favorite airline United Airlines as an example, let’s take a look at the cheapest flights to Juan Santamarïa International Airport in San Jose from my home airport O’Hare for August 2022 versus December 2022. (These are as of today, May 25, 2022). 

  • August 23 – 30: $672 (direct)
  • December 1 – 8: $850 (one stop, 95 minute layover)

Of course, this all depends on where you’re flying from or what airlines you use. And if you use a tracker like Hopper or other search engines to calculate the best time to buy your plane ticket to Costa Rica. Hopper’s algorithm scours the web to find the best deals from all over from Spirit Airlines to American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and everything in between.

It’s always a good idea to track your preferred flight with a program to make sure you get the best deals on airfare. I always use Hopper when I fly. Using one of these programs Is your best bet for the lowest fares.

You can also benefit from using miles or airline points to book your flights too. (If you’re interested in getting bonus miles through a United credit card you can sign up with my referral link.) It’s a good idea to stay loyal to one particular airline because the more you build up a history with them, the more likely you are to get upgrades or other perks. 

Unusually clear view of Arenal Volcano's mouth. Photo by Amanda Finn taken in January 2022.
Unusually clear view of Arenal Volcano’s mouth. Photo by Amanda Finn.

Final thoughts

Don’t think that visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season means you’ll be slopping through puddles all day though! While you might want to pack some rain boots, extra bug spray, and ponchos, the national parks will reward you with more lush greenery than you would see in the dry season. (Keep in mind: you cannot usually use bug spray or spray sunscreen in the rainforests as they are protected ecosystems.)

Honestly, there isn’t a bad time to see this incredible country. When you’re ready to see Costa Rica, be sure to check out Passport Adventure. Be sure to tell José that you want to see Arenal Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and go whitewater rafting. I promise it isn’t as scary as it sounds!

Recognize Expectations: 5 Tips on How to Ground Before You Go

The key to life is lowered expectations. While I believe this adage is helpful for social standards, I also believe adventurers can raise (or at least recognize) their own personal expectations. (Especially when traveling somewhere new.) With that in mind, here are five Covid-friendly tips I use when traveling.

1. Set your intention

“Grounding before going” means recognizing where you presently are, mentally and physically, before you begin your journey. By being intentional in these two different spaces (and the beloved in-between space), you may savor your current positionality. 

Plus, you’ll recognize your expectations for the trip ahead. Maybe you have a mental intention? “I want to be safe” is always valid. Especially if you have exceptional abilities or identities. Perhaps it’s a physical intention? “I want to see trees.” By pausing, you give space to set your personal expectations, show some gratitude for what’s in store, and truly begin your adventure.

2. Be Covid aware

In the U.S., the Covid-19 pandemic is in flux between pandemic and endemic status, but the consequences still run deep. Many venues are still closed, supply chains are disrupting availability, and there is collective exhaustion. But there are ways to further protect yourself–even if mask mandates are flying away. If you’re planning indoor activities, expect a range of rituals. Some of which, I think, are here to stay. Such as like extra sanitation and QR codes for menus and prices. Even so, expect different hours than what an internet search may say.

photo of planner and writing materials
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

3. Minimize data points 

As an INFJ-A, the “judging” side of my personality seeks systems to sort through the chaos. However, I also believe too many divergent points of view disrupt enjoyment, especially for wandering. When finding things to do on your adventure, see what resonates. Whether that’s through word of mouth (such as asking your social media circle for their fave spots) or websites like Dream Suitcase. This is a simple way to recognize expectations about your forthcoming adventure.

By minimizing data points and not giving in to Yelp reviews, you’ll be more open to what’s ahead because you’re expecting less. Plus you’ll probably be less disappointed if a restaurant, music hall, museum, etc. is not open. 

4. Choose a theme

Whenever I go somewhere new, I seek friends who actually live in the places I’m visiting. I enjoy seeing how people actually live. As a result, my favorite places from my recent trips to Seattle, WA, and Green Bay, WI weren’t the Space Needle or Lambeau Field. Instead, they were hidden gems from my favorite themes: live local, be one with nature and sip coffee. (Yes, in addition to two local coffee shops, I went to the original Starbucks at Pike’s Place in Seattle.)

By choosing themed activities that exist everywhere, you’ll minimize expectations. That’s true whether you’re exploring with a companion, traveling solo, or meeting up with folks.

5. If you can, give yourself a buffer day

Let’s face it, life happens. Whether it’s flights getting canceled, getting sick, or maybe wanting more time to enjoy your journey, a buffer day gives more room for savoring. That’s in addition to facing the unexpected (good and bad) that come from exploring.

I know it’s asking a lot. Time affluence is in short supply for most people. If you can’t give yourself a day on your trip, perhaps aim for a day after you’re home again. That way, you’ll have time to process your experience, do that pesky laundry, and plan your next adventure.

close up photo of cat lying on table
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Wanderfest: Connecting with Wanderful Women

When my now pal Lauren Pelkey (@Wanderlulu) reached out to me about going to Wanderfest I hesitated. The week after that I was already going to be in New York City for a travel conference. Plus, it was finals week in my graduate program. But, when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist the allure of the first outdoor travel festival for women–so I accepted!

My pal Giselle and I hopped down to New Orleans, for the second time in three months, to celebrate women in travel during Women’s History Month. This was the first time Wanderful, an online community for female travelers, was hosting the event. While Mother Nature had other plans for that weekend, which was unexpectedly cold and super windy, we all made the most of our time together. Even a tornado warning wasn’t going to stop all of us from having fun! Even if it meant drinking sparkling wine in the basement of the Sazerac House. 

Giselle and I in the basement of the Sazerac House during the event mixer.

Our first event at Wanderfest was learning about The Orisha with Nana Sula. Gathering in the home of this remarkable spiritual woman, surrounded by her artwork and pieces she has collected through the years, to learn and sing. That was the best way we could have started the weekend. Only six of us signed up for this program, but of all the women at Wanderfest we were the luckiest to have started our empowering weekend with Nana Sula. 

When we arrived at Nana Sula’s home we met another festival attendee, Mahoney. We were immediately a kindred spirits. I asked for her Instagram handle so we could connect later only to realize we were already Insta friends! Isn’t it funny how we can sense friendship with others? This happened more than once over the course of this weekend too! This only further reminded me that the world of female travel is tight-knit even if it seems so big. 

Though my friends from Vai Athletica couldn’t be there, I had their digital business card on hand. I’m all about empowering female business owners while also making packing easier because no bra on Earth packs better than a Vai. If someone wants to prove me wrong, I accept the challenge. Unless the answer is to not pack a bra at all, in which case I cannot disagree. 

A tasty beverage during the Saturday night Wanderfest bar crawl.

As our world continues to open back up, seeing so many women in community with one another was truly inspiring. I didn’t expect Wanderfest to hit me as hard as it did in that regard. After all, it was a feel-good, have fun kind of festival. Yet, getting a chance to meet so many women, some of whom I already knew from social media, in real life felt different. We’ve collectively spent such a long time in solitude during the pandemic, being in a gathering feels foreign now. 

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see the first Wanderfest. Although the weekend was far from perfect. First events often are in outdoor venues with potential bad weather scenarios, yet I’m glad I got to bear witness to it. Throughout our weekend at Wanderfest we met amazing entrepreneurs, creators, and fellow wanderers who cannot get enough of the world. I left New Orleans with a revitalized spirit. Writing about travel, experiencing everything the world has to offer, and sharing those joys with other people who get it? There’s nothing like it.