Monday, November 10, 2014

My travel favorites...

Well hello there! I haven't been back in a while I know, but I have been recently helping Chris get through this very stressful process called 'applying for college'...Uggh! I'll have some thoughts on all of that when its all done, but for now I wanted to get back to my blog. I missed writing, so as I've been reflecting back on our trip, (as long ago that seems to be now), I wanted to share some of my favorite accessories/tips/ideas that I specifically used and found to make our trip so much less stressful for many reasons.  I figured I was still in time to share these with those of you planning on traveling soon for the holidays or anytime thereafter for that reason.  I hope that you'll find these items helpful in your planning and traveling. Here they are:

Keeping in mind that we were going to be moving between 3 states, and basically live out of our suitcases, and in addition, wanting to avoid extra baggage fees, any unnecessary over packing was out of the question. So I did some research on the best possible way to pack just enough clothes, (the right kinds of clothes) for 5 people and for 8 days. We were also going to be doing a lot of walking, in humid areas, so packing needed to be practical and light- there was no room for cuteness and/or the latest fashions really.  Casual wear and tennis shoes were our calling. 

So I found this travel blog post that basically showed me how to pack up a few outfits at a time into rolls. An amazing piece of travel advice! I was able to pack up 2 pants, 2 shorts, 4 shirts and an extra pair of shoes for each of us into just 2 suitcases! With some extra room to boot and I minimized wrinkling. We each took a sweatshirt and carried that as necessary so it wouldn't overload the bags either. Loved it. Then because we made sure that our hotels had laundry services I also took a plastic container with Tide wash pods and a few dryer sheets so I could wash clothes between cities. I had done this on our Hawaii trip  a few years back and had worked well so I decided to try it again. We saved money by taking our own detergent stuff, and it helped me avoid bringing home a whole bunch of dirty (stinky) laundry too. I will continue to do both of these things on any and all trips because it made packing and traveling pretty much stress free.

Travel Photography
18 tips for photographing your family vacation photoMy research included getting information on travel photography, and I found this article by Juliette Fradin on one of my favorite photography blogs called It was about picture taking on trips and I got inspired with ideas of the kinds of pictures I wanted to take on this trip.  It had some great ideas, but I have to say that because our trip was so go-go-go, I really didn't have a chance to think about or set up all the special shots as she suggested, but I still think it makes a good read for all the the great travel information it contained.

Camera bags
In this same article is where I also found my next two favorites. This photographer suggested two different bags for two different situations, but both happen to apply to me for this trip. So I decided to purchase both.

The Lowepro Sling bag-

Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag (Black)I had to get resourceful with everything we were taking including my purse and my camera bag. I had to avoid any additional pieces of luggage possible, so this bag became the perfect solution- it turned out to be my purse, my carry-on AND my camera bag for the entirety of the trip. It comes with a padded section for my camera but there was also extra room to carry my tickets, my phone, my travel book (see below), a magazine, a water bottle and even a light sweater once I opened up the zipper section. I carried it cross-body the whole time, and it occasionally would get heavy but I knew that I had everything with me at all times and no extra camera bag to carry. I found that Ebay carries them at the best price available and I got it delivered in less than 2 weeks.

Camera Coats
This was the other great suggestion I decided to
purchase not only for the purpose of this trip, but its a way to always protect my camera in a purse when I don't feel like carrying it around in a bulky camera bag and give myself a stylish flare at the same time. For this trip, it provided extra protection for my camera from those rainy days in Washington DC and for the boat trip to and from the Statue of Liberty. And even with this Camera Coat, it fit into the camera compartment of my Lowepro bag. They are a bit pricey, but I bought mine (the one pictured) because it was cute and it was on sale! I don't pay full price for anything f I can help it especially on a trip like this. That's how I roll. ;)

Travel Books
Midori style Travel books are apparently all the rage in agenda carrying nowadays. They are intended for travel journaling, but people are using them for all sorts of reasons- note taking, goal planning, an idea keeper, artwork etc. I was introduced to them by my SIL, and I'm always looking for a cute new way to keep my ideas and time schedule together so I decided to buy a "faux-dori" (a travel book that is similar to the actual Midori brand travel book for half the price). I figured it was the same idea and it would still be a leather covered journal as a way to keep a journal throughout our trip. I wasn't sure I'd do much with it, but I ended up having a great time keeping this up as the days went by. I used some scrapbooking skills to make its own little book, and used stickers, my Instamax pictures, and the memorabilia I gathered to decorate it. I took a small pencil case with some washi-tape, pens, scissors, a small ruler, and decorative extras to complete it. It was a project I happily worked on during our flights to and from and I would find a few minutes every night to journal. So as of right now, my trip is pretty much journaled in its own little notebook (an accomplishment in itself...Truly!) This was actually a great resource for me as I used to refer back to as I wrote my posts about the trips. They also come with 3 notebooks, so I still have 2 more inside my leather book to use for other things and I carry it with me everywhere.

So there they are, my favorite travel tips/ideas and accessories. I love finding a good item and telling my friends about them even more so. I hope you find these interesting enough to try for yourself. You can find these posted on my Pinterest page as well. I'd love to know if you have any of your own travel favorites. We don't travel that often, but I'm always open for a better way to do things when traveling near and far.

From my corner to yours... wishing you happy, stress free travels!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our trip to the East Coast- Highlights of NYC (days 1-3)

So I was seriously considering not finishing up these posts. Its almost too much info for anybody, but  I hate not finishing off projects. So for the sake of getting closure, I figured I'd just finish up with at least some highlight picture collages of the last 3 days of our trip in New York. I won't be saying much but I hope the pictures will say it all for me- We did a heck of a lot in just 3 days and we a blast. We Love New York!
Day 1- The Manhattan Sky line view from our hotel room in Long Island City

Our first dinner in the city at John's in Time Square recommended by my SIL Gaby. Delicious pizza in a beautiful renovated church. A great New York meal anytime.

 The kids (and Tito) experience Time Square for the first time
 with the help of Spidey himself.
There is something different going on at every corner.

  It was alive and kicking At Rockefeller Center- Its such a location straight out of the movies. The boys found happiness at Nintendo World before we went on our way to a last minute set up (by a good friend) to see a taping of America's Got Talent
 at the famous Radio City Musical Hall. 
Great 1st night in NYC.

 Day 2-  Started off with a trip to see Lady Liberty, a walk up to her pedestal and a visit to the museum with in its walls. Looking back on the city from the statue is a view I will never forget.

TBT- Jerry and I had gone to NY back in 1998 with Christian who was 18months old at the time. One of the most memorable moments I have of that trip was of watching Chris on the boat to and from the Statue. He was just captivated by the water and wanted to stand by the railing at the top of the boat to watch the water as it moved along. Being able to capture him in this very soulful stance meant so much to me and I get emotional every time I look at them. So I figure I'd share them with you here to fully reminisce.

So remembering these pictures and knowing we were going back to the Statue of Liberty on pretty much the same type of boat 16 years later, I wanted to hopefully get some of the same shots. And I did! Sans the binky in the mouth of course.  ;)
He doesn't remember having taken those baby pictures but he still had that same soulful look and was captivated by this whole experience in a totally new way. So happy that I got to capture these on film too.

Wall Street- This was Jerry's must see part of the trip...his kind of Disneyland. I made sure to point out to the boys the architecture and the layout of the buildings. It the concrete Jungle of the world.

911 Memorial-  An immediate sense of solemnity falls on you as you approach this place. There are no words to explain or ways to wrap my mind around the images going through my head as I sat there imagining what it must have been like there that fateful day.  Even Mikey who wasn't even born then and knew not what it all meant could feel that sense of quiet fall on him. We spent the following morning showing him videos of what happened so he could fully understand the magnitude what this beautiful memorial meant.

(TBT #2- Another picture found from 1998...It gave me some serious goose bumps people!!)

 A YANKEE GAME!!!-  Jerry surprised us by changing our plans for that evening with tickets to Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox game. Yeah baby!! When would we get the chance to see those two teams play AND in addition we had the privilege of watching Derek Jeter play one of his last games of the season in NYC.
 Let me tell you, those Yankee Fans are hard core!
The subway ride to the Bronx was full of them! Soo cool!

Day 3- Final day in the city and a chance to get a few last things in. We walked to Grand Central Station, Saint Patricks Cathedral (almost too overwhelming to be in there with all the renovations going on inside), walked down Lexington Avenue, saw Saks Fith Avenue, the Apple store under glass, and of course famous FAO Shwartz and the "Big" Piano. The boys gave it a good shot at playing Chopsticks with their feet...soo much fun!

 Central Park Tour- This is the last and final tour through Tours by Foot we would take. We almost missed it entirely due to a miscommunication of time, but we made it. Our tour guide Bill, was a lot of fun and for a change was an Actor/Art History major and he knew a lot about Central Park and its history. It was a beautiful, peaceful tour and very green. Picturesque beyond belief especially at the sunset hours.  We can now officially say we have seen Central Park from beginning to end, and oh did Bill make us walk.. A LOT!! This tour takes you from 59th and Fifth Avenue entrance all the way to the other side to Central Park West where it ends at John Lennon's Strawberry Fields and the site of the Dakota  Apartments where he was shot and killed. Worth every step we took.

 And after a long day and so much walking (my pedometer recorded over 20,000+ steps for that one day) we ended this amazing trip with a very big sweet tooth at the famous SERENDIPITY cafe. This was another recommendation from my SIL Gaby. Its cute and quaint and the size of the desserts allowed us to share in the overindulgence of yuminess! 

And then as soon as it had started it was all over...We were headed home! 

We are still looking back and remembering so many great moments and missing so much of these 3 beautiful cities. We are so grateful to our In Laws for joining us once again and for being a part of all those memories we made. I am grateful to Jerry for making such an effort to make sure this happened for us this year. It really was a special trip and the boys and I will never forget it.

Thanks to all of you for coming back each time to keep up and I hope that we could inspire you travelers out there to try a few of the Tours we took. I can't recommend them enough. 

From my little corner to yours...That's all folks!