NYC Part 6: Our final day

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. Catch up now with part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

We woke up on Monday morning, our last day in New York feeling blue. Our flight home wasn’t until 8pm, but we didn’t have much planned for our last day. Another of David’s friends, Ella, was in the city visiting family, so we made plans to met her at a Swedish coffee shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

After showering and storing our bags (thank goodness our Airbnb had a locker we could use after checkout!) we walked to the subway and headed from Astoria to Greenpoint. The coffee shop was a little chain store called Konditori, but David was excited because it was Swedish. We got drinks at the counter, Ella and I both ordered hot chocolate, while David and I split a muffin, then crowded around a little table in the back of the shop.

swedishcoffeeshop

We chatted and enjoyed our hot beverages, then decided to explore the neighborhood we were in, which is known as “Little Poland.” Little Poland wasn’t as strictly defined as Little Odessa; while it had something of an Eastern European feel, there were still sushi restaurants, people speaking English, and Swedish coffee shops. We stopped in a few little shops in search of Prince Polo candy bars, my favorite Polish treat. There’s a cute Polish Deli not far from my work, but I still wanted to find Prince Polo in New York.

We wandered all over the neighborhood, explored bodega after bodega before finally finding a shop selling Prince Polo. You could tell right away we were in the right place: the store took me back to my study abroad days. They had a selection of Polish snacks and drinks, and a small deli counter. Everyone but us was speaking Polish. We picked up 3 Prince Polos (Ella was excited to try the chocolate bar) and headed back into the bitter cold.

prince-polo-1

Next on the agenda: Polish food for lunch. Between google maps and some good, old fashioned wandering around, we found ourselves in a Polish market. We ate potato pierogi dipped in mustard and chatted until Ella had to head back to her brother’s. She told us about a bookstore in Manhattan that supposedly had Urdu language books (David speaks Urdu) so David and I decided to check it out.

LittlePoland

We said goodbye to Ella at the subway; David and I made our way uptown to the Upper West Side. Upon entering the bookstore, we looked at each other–it didn’t look like we’d find any Urdu books there. It appeared to be a children’s bookstore, and while we found a handful of Spanish learning materials for kids, we didn’t find anything close to Urdu resources.

What were we to do? Our uptown adventure was a bust, we only had a few more hours in New York and we weren’t at all familiar with the neighborhood. So we decided to just walk around in the cold and see what we could see. Two broke 20-somethings quickly saw the Mexican restaurant having happy hour $5 margaritas. Sold.

margarita

The restaurant was really cute and the bartender was nice. We ended up hanging out for a while and ordering their happy hour boneless wings to share. Finally, it was time for us to go. We took the subway back to Astoria to retrieve our bags, then ubered to La Guardia. Our plane was delayed because it was SNOWING in NC, but otherwise our trip home was fairly uneventful.

PlaneDelayed

Whew! When I set out to share my NYC journey with you, I did NOT plan for it to go on for 2 months nor for it to expand into 6 posts. I hope you enjoyed it, because I certainly enjoyed experiencing it and sharing it with all of you. Tell me about your experiences in New York or your favorite city in the comments below. If you liked this post, be sure to hit the subscribe button, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and keep following me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Margarita picture: https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2015/1/27/a-margarita-a-day-january-2015

NYC Part 5: Broadway Show and Cocktails in Manhattan

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. Catch up now with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

After taking some cheesy photos and finding our way to our seats, Holly and I were able to take in the set of the Broadway musical, Once On This Island. (David was exploring downtown on his own, with plans to meet back up with us later on.) The setup was different than any theatre I’d been in before. The theatre is in the round (the audience surrounds the stage instead of being on one side of it) and is very open. Some of the cast was already on stage, milling around while the audience was settling in. The floor of the stage was covered in sand, and there was a “river” flowing in from one side. The first row of seats are on stage, with the audience seated with their feet in the sand. In addition to human cast members, there was a live chicken and a live goat on stage (my cousin’s favorite part)! I don’t have any pictures of the set because photos in the theatre are not allowed and they’re actually pretty strict about it.  The photo below is a model of the set that I found online.

onceonthisisland-set

Once the audience was settled (the show was standing-room only, but luckily we had seats) the show began. During a storm, the village storytellers tell a frightened little girl the story of Ti Moune. Ti Moune is an orphan girl who was adopted by peasants from the peasant side of the island. The island is also home to the grands hommes, wealthy descendents of French settlers who live on the other half of the island. In a Romeo and Juliet style story, Ti Moune falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel. I don’t want to spoil the ending, although if you’re curious, the synopsis is available on Wikipedia. The performance was incredible and the fairly young leading actors had phenomenal voices and stage presences.

After the show, we waited by the stage door for the actors to (hopefully) come out and sign Playbills. The first to come out was Sparky the goat! We got to feed him some goat food and take a few photos. Next to come out was Phillip Boykin who played Tonton Julian, Ti Moune’s adoptive father. He was really nice, signed both of our Playbills, and took a photo with us! Unfortunately no one else came out, but I’m not that surprised since it was a matinee and they had an evening show to prepare for. I was disappointed that Isaac Powell (who played Daniel) didn’t make an appearance, since he went to high school with my best friend and they were in their school’s production of Pippin together.

stagedoor

We met back up with David and decided to get drinks before Holly headed back to CT and we returned to our Airbnb. Holly picked the place, an Italian restaurant called Da Marino with allegedly really cool bathrooms. We sat at the bar and each had a cocktail. Holly had one of their signatures, an espresso martini, I had a cosmo, and David had a vodka tonic. We chatted with each other and with the bartender, who could tell we weren’t New Yorkers right away. We were the only ones at the bar, since it was like 6PM on a Sunday.

Cocktails

David and I checked out the men’s and women’s restrooms respectively, and they were indeed pretty cool. The women’s room was like a fantasy enchanted forest. When I returned to the bar, the bartender was singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” with piano accompaniment. She was great! I guess she came to New York to become a singer, but was bartending to pay the bills.

We left shortly after her performance, Holly to Connecticut, and David and I to Astoria. David and I picked up some ramen and snacks to eat at home, rather than trying to go out to eat again. We had a chill evening for our last night in New York.

Cousins

Read about our last day in the city in my next NYC post! (Update 5/20/18: part 6 is the final piece of the story!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a Broadway show? Where do you think the coolest bathrooms in New York are? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Once On This Island wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_on_This_Island
Once On This Island set photo: https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Broadway-By-Design-Dane-Laffrey-Clint-Ramos-Bring-ONCE-ON-THIS-ISLAND-from-Page-to-Stage-20171216

 

NYC Part 4: 9/11 Memorial, A Broadway Show, and More!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

911

We slept in a bit on Sunday morning, knowing we’d need to be well-rested for another day of trekking around the city. We took the subway from Queens to downtown Manhattan so that we could visit the 9/11 memorial. On the site of the twin towers, there is now a single, functional skyscraper, a memorial museum, and two enormous, sunken waterfall pools. The pools are covered in the names of all of those who lost their lives during the attack in 2001. It wasn’t easy to see those huge memorials completely covered in names. The site is beautiful, but there’s something haunting about it.

911-pool

The Grand Central terminal was next on our list, so after a quiet and reflective morning, we headed back up to midtown. Grand Central is one of those very New York things you just have to see when you visit the city. We walked around for awhile, taking in the mural on the ceiling, the huge market downstairs, and of course, taking advantage of free public bathrooms.

GrandCentral.jpg

We met my cousin for lunch at a tiny (TINY) little pizza place called Patzeria Perfect Pizza on W 46th. She took the train in from New Haven that morning so we could spend the rest of the day together! The pizza place was so cramped, I’ve been in delivery-only pizza places with no dining room that had more space. But it was warm, cheap, and the pizza was really good. We managed to snag some tight seats on high stools at the table along the wall.

While we ate, we talked about our plans for the day. Holly (my cousin) and I wanted to see a matinee of a Broadway show. David was encouraged to come along, but insisted that he didn’t want to come. Holly and I had hoped to see Come From Away, but it was sold out. We talked about several different shows, but we both love theatre and would really be happy with anything. We settled on Once On This Island.

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After we finished our pizza, we headed back into the cold and over a few blocks to the Circle in the Square theatre, where we got tickets for the 3PM show. Knowing that left us at least an hour to kill, the three of us decided to just walk around. We went to Rockefeller center and watched people ice-skate, passed by the NBC building and Radio City Music Hall, just enjoying being in New York and catching up with Holly. By 2:15 we made our way back to the theatre, knowing the doors would open around 2:30PM.

OnceOnThisIsland.jpg

Holly and I said goodbye to David (who planned to see the NY Stock Exchange and explore the financial district) and headed into the theatre when the doors opened. Crowds of people swarmed into the warm lobby, showed their tickets, had their bags peeked in, and all headed to the restrooms on the bottom floor, as there’s no intermission. On our way back up, we had our pictures taken at this cheesy but super fun red-carpet style backdrop. We showed our tickets again, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin!

OnceOnThisIsland-redcarpet

Read about our experience with the show, fun with the alleged coolest bathrooms in NYC, and more in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 Update: The whole story is live!  See the final post, part 6 now.) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a show? What is your favorite musical? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

NYC Part 3: Evening in Manhattan

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

After spending most of the day in Brooklyn, we took the Q train back into Manhattan. We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s on the Upper East Side that evening, but knew we had a little time to kill first, so we got off in Midtown Manhattan. I wanted David to see Times Square for the first time.

UsManhattan

We got off the subway at the Times Square station. I looked around the part of the city I was most familiar with and felt that deep, uniquely New York energy. Together with about a billion of our closest friends, we walked around Times Square. On a Saturday evening. Even in March it was ridiculously crowded. David said it reminded him of India, but was not as crowded or as hot (but he was in India in July and New York in March). We stopped into H&M (one of his favorite stores, because it’s Swedish) and looked around for a while.

DisneyStore

We went to the Disney Store which was insanely packed, even for the Disney store. I, of course, wanted to buy every princess item in the store, but walked out empty-handed. Next we visited the M&M store where, again, I wanted to buy everything in sight but, again, restrained myself. It’s like $8 for a magnet and $30 for a T-shirt and I’m not made of money. It’s so tourist-y, but God, I love Midtown. David wasn’t impressed though. He said it was like “any other big city.” Sigh.

MMStore

We took the subway uptown to the Upper East Side. We found our way to a little cafe called Alice’s Tea Cup to meet a friend of David’s. It is a cute little Alice In Wonderland themed tea shop, and they also offer sandwiches, soups, and salads. The food was good, but a little on the pricey side. I had a grilled cheese with vegetables on regular pre-sliced loaf bread and it was like $20. There’s no tipping, but still, it was a bit too expensive for what it was. I guess that’s New York for ya.

David and his friend split a pot of chocolate chai tea. I have never liked tea. I’ve tried it hot, I’ve tried it iced, I’ve tried it sweet, I’ve tried it with milk, I just do not like tea. They offered me some, but I had just a sip of David’s. It was pretty good, which is a huge endorsement from me because, as I said, I do not like tea.

WashingtonSquarePark

After dinner we headed down to the Village near NYU. We took tourist-y photos in Washington Square Park, then went to a bar called “Fat Black Pussycat” which is above The Comedy Cellar. We showed our ID’s at the door (the only time we were carded in NYC, surprisingly), then stood at the bar with a few beers.

TheVillageBeer

We chatted and drank for a while before David said “Is that that dude from 30 Rock? Frank?” We looked over to the table he indicated. In the dark bar, we weren’t sure, but it sure looked like him. “The one with the hats?” David’s friend asked. “Yeah, him…Judah Friedlander?” David answered. David’s friend suggested that perhaps he was performing at The Comedy Cellar downstairs. We checked it out, and it was totally him. (Getting excited over seeing a B-list celebrity in “the wild,” check).  Also, they had a Polish Beatles poster!

BeatlesPoster

We finished our beers, walked around the Village for a while, then headed back towards Queens. David’s friend was very concerned we’d get lost, but we didn’t. We ended up back in our Airbnb without incident.

Read about our adventures at the 9/11 memorial, Broadway, and more in my next NYC post! (Update 5/20/18: All posts posted!  See part 5 and part 6 now!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you have a celebrity sighting? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

NYC Part 2: Morning in Little Odessa & Afternoon in Coney Island

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Day 1 here.

On day 2, Saturday, we were ready to brave the subway. We’ve both traveled to cities with metro systems, together and independently, so despite coming from NC where people will clutch onto their giant pickup trucks in a cloud of smog before they use public transport, we were both familiar with the concept. However, New York City’s subway system is confusing as hell. There are a million lines, some of them are numbered, some lettered, all of them are colored, but there are multiple green lines, for example, so that’s not helpful. Thank God for Google Maps.

NYCMap

We walked about 15 minutes to the subway station nearest to our Airbnb, then took the R train from Astoria, Queens into Manhattan, and the Q train all the way down through Brooklyn. Our stop was Brighton Beach also known as Little Odessa. Little Odessa is home to many Eastern European immigrants, especially those from Russia and Ukraine.

If someone had said to me “imagine a cross between Eastern Europe and New York City” I would’ve pictured Little Odessa, even before going there. We walked up and down the main street, under the raised train tracks. A variety of Slavic languages swirled around us; I didn’t hear anyone speaking English. There were tons of little convenience stores, delis, and shops. We went into a “department store” that was essentially an Eastern European style Walmart. David observed that it reminded him of similar stores in Serbia. They sold everything from underwear to kitchen appliances to pharmacy items and everything was very cheap by NYC standards.

LittleOdessa

Next we stopped in a bookstore. They sold English books in Russian, Russian books in English, kid’s books, romance novels, adventure stories, language books, and Russian cultural books. David definitely enjoyed it more than I did, considering he speaks some Russian.

We left the bookstore in hopes of finding a good lunch spot. Many of the restaurants looked amazing, but were sit down and we didn’t really have the time or money for that. Others had folks lined up down the sidewalk, but didn’t have a dining room. Did I mention it was 40F and windy the entire weekend? We aren’t Russian, and I can’t quite enjoy eating outside in the cold wind. We finally found a little corner restaurant selling 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $5. Sold. The store owners seemed to be Russian, even though the food wasn’t.

Pizzaday2

After walking around a bit more, we hopped back on the train to Coney Island (we totally could’ve walked, but woulda coulda shoulda, eh?). Since it was March, none of the rides were operating. Many of the shops and arcades were closed. It was a really cool way to experience an iconic piece of Americana.

CandyStore

We visited one of the few shops that was open, a candy store. They sold all kinds of novelty candy; giant boxes of cereal marshmallows, giant gummy bears, a huge variety jelly beans and gummies, Harry Potter themed candy, alcohol themed candy, and a bunch more. We had fun looking around before stepping back into the wind. There was a cute cafe/restaurant down the street with great views of the still amusement park rides. David got a macchiato and I had a hot chocolate (I’m a kid at heart, what can I say?). We enjoyed our hot drinks and people-watched for a while.

ConeyIsland

We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s in Manhattan that evening, so after finishing our drinks we went back to the train, which we road from Brooklyn back to Midtown Manhattan, so that David could see Times Square for the first time.

Read about our adventures in Times Square, the upper east side, and the village in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted!  See part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited NYC before? What’s your favorite neighborhood? Did you brave the subway? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Weekend in NYC! Part 1: Getting There and Day 1 in Queens

This past weekend, my husband and I visited the Big Apple.  NYC.  New York.  THE City.  Is it obvious yet that New York is my absolute favorite city?  I’ve been about 5 times before this trip, and I would go again in a heartbeat. (Anyone want to buy me a plane ticket for next weekend….?)

A few weeks ago I was looking up cheap airline tickets, just for fun.  David and I had been hoping to do something for spring break, but all of our other plans had fallen through, and besides, we had different breaks (mine was last week and his is this week).  I looked just out of boredom, hoping to get an idea of what we could do for our next trip.  The site required me to put in dates, a departing airport, and a destination.  I picked our local airport and NYC, any airport, just to get an idea of the price point.  For 2 people, round trip, 2 weeks in advance it was $420, including fees.  We booked it 2 days later.

We were going to New York!! I was giddy for the two weeks while we last-minute planned our long weekend.  We booked an Airbnb for Friday-Monday, I asked off work for Monday, and we got in touch with friends and family in the area.  We each made a list of things we wanted to do/see and tried to match them up the best we could, knowing we would barely be able to get a taste of NYC in a single weekend, albeit a long one.  Our flights were early Friday morning and late Monday evening, giving us *almost* 4 full days.

NYC-Day1-Airport

Friday morning we woke up at 3:30AM to get to the airport by 4:30 for our 5:50AM flight with a layover in DC.  Unfortunately, even in the urban areas of central NC there are a grand total of ZERO Ubers or Lyfts at 4AM on a Friday morning.  ZERO.  We scrambled to drive to the airport, knowing we’d have to pay out the ass to park at the airport all weekend, also knowing we had no choice.

So we threw our backpacks in the car and drove to the airport.  We got through the surprisingly long line at security and to our gate, boarding exactly on time.  We then waited in the plane for two hours for American Airlines to get themselves together.  We finally took off, late, and arrived right when our connecting flight was leaving Ronald Reagan for LaGuardia.  Fabulous. 21 people on our flight were supposed to be on that connection and I must say American did nothing to help us other than quietly assign us to a new flight, which no one could access full information on.  The full story is a different story for a different day, but lemme just say #DisappointedAmericanAirlines

We finally got on the right plane, took off, and arrived at LaGuardia.  NEW YORK CITY, BABY!!

NYC at 9AM on a Friday is crawling with Lyfts and Ubers, so we had no problem getting a Lyft from the airport to the Airbnb to drop off our bags.  Then it was on to the adventure.  We weren’t quite ready to brave the NYC subway system, so we took an Uber (Uber has shared rides in NYC, which are cheaper.  Bring that to NC please!) to Jackson Heights, Queens, where there is a South Asian neighborhood and an AMAZING dosa restaurant, Dosa Delight.  I knew about the place because 4 or 5 summers ago I went there with my cousin, Holly.  We walked around the neighborhood for about 30-45 minutes, taking in the atmosphere and the culture.  Different languages swirled around us, and different people surrounded us on the streets.  We visited a couple of shops, just window shopping and killing time until the restaurant opened for lunch.

NYC-Day1-Dosa

We split an order of samosas, followed by different kinds of dosa.  David, of course, ordered like a pro, having spent last summer in India.  I stumbled through ordering something that I hoped wasn’t ridiculously spicy, but would still be authentic.  The samosas and dosa were amazing, and I would absolutely go back a third (and fourth and fifth…) time.

We ubered back to the Airbnb and crashed (we’d been up since 3:30AM!) until dinner time.  We were sick of paying for ubers and lyfts, and weren’t quite ready to brave the subway system at night, so we looked for food near us.  We were in Astoria, Queens, in a mostly residential area, but there were a few restaurants near us.  We found a pub in walking distance that looked reasonably priced and headed out, already starving again.

Dillingers Pub and Grill was about a block away.  It had a nice casual atmosphere, especially at 6PM.  They were playing pop music from about 2000-2010, so I knew basically every song.  It was a nice, nostalgic pick.  The food was great pub food; David had a burger while I enjoyed a buffalo chicken sandwich.  He got a beer and I had their rum punch, which was on special for $5.  The whole experience was very enjoyable, and we went home full and happy, but totally ready to shower and go to bed early.  We knew we had a big day ahead of us in Manhattan and Brooklyn!

NYC-Day1-RumPunch

Look out for future posts on the rest of our trip!  I can’t wait to share the full story with you.  (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted!  See part 2, part 3part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Have you been to NYC? What were your experiences there?  What’s your favorite city in the US?  The world?  Let me know in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.

Destination: Knoxville. Part II: International Eats

Knoxville, TN is one of my personal favorite destinations. It’s a bit of a hidden gem in the south: people tend to focus on Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, or beach towns like Myrtle Beach, Miami, and Charleston when planning visits to the southeast, but Knoxville has a lot to offer. If you’re interested in a general guide to Knoxville, including entertainment, museums, bars, restaurants and general tips, check out my Destination: Knoxville post here.

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If you’re interested in out-of-the-way, unique, international eateries and markets, Knoxville has you covered, and so do I. See below my recommendations for cool places to eat and shop.

Quality Turkish Market

TurkishDeli

The folks are Quality Turkish Market are very kind and helpful, especially to a noob like myself who had never tried Turkish food before. The setup is order at the counter and pay in advance, but the food is, as the name suggests, quality. It’s delicious and filling, even the 100% vegetarian dish I enjoyed. They also have a small market area where you can buy imported sodas, candies, and other non-perishable treats.

Gosh Ethiopian

Gosh

Have you ever tried Ethiopian food? You should, and you should start at Gosh. They have lots of options and simple explanations of the unfamiliar food. Get ready to eat with your hands!

Sitar Indian Cuisine

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Sitar serves up traditional Punjabi dishes, just what most Americans expect when they sit down at an Indian restaurant. I would recommend starting with Samosas, which are crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes and veggies. Our table devoured ours in record time. For main courses they have a variety of curry dishes, many vegetarian, but plenty of meat-lovers’ options: lamb, chicken, shrimp, etc.

Indian Grocery

IndianGrocery.jpg

The Indian Grocery on Kingston Pike is quite large; this is no corner store. They offer many fresh, non-perishable dry goods, and frozen ready-to-eat meals. The selection is impressive, and there are plenty of options for the novice cook!

Holy Land Market

HolyLandMarket.jpg

This middle Eastern/Mediterranean market features a grocery section and a small deli. You can pick from an impressive array of olives, teas, and Turkish Delight, as well as many other grocery items.

What are your favorite international restaurants and markets in Knoxville? What about your hometown? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

A big thank you to Maria Grissino for allowing me to use her photo of the Tennessee Theatre as my featured photo on this post!

Original Destination: Knox: https://theglobetrottingscientist.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/destination-knoxville-tn-usa/

World’s Fair Flags Photo: http://www.knoxvilletennessee.com/downtown/worlds-fair-park.html

Sitar Indian Image: https://smokymountains.com/restaurants/sitar-indian-cuisine/

A Backpacker’s Guide to Packing: Winter Edition

So you just booked a trip to Europe. The plane lands on European soil in January. Hard, frozen, European soil. How do you pack? Do you have to lug around an extra suitcase for all your scarves, boots, and coats? NOPE. Just follow my tips and you can travel with only a backpack in any weather.

  • Wear your bulkiest clothes to the airport

    Warmchunkyclothes.png

    Your chunky boots, thick scarf, and big coat should be on your body, even if it’s a little warm when you’re traveling. It will save you a ton of space in your bag. Don’t try to pack 5 pairs of shoes either–throw in some shower shoes and be okay with the shoes on your feet.

  • A down jacket is more packable than a fleece one

    Coat

    For an all around insulation layer, I prefer a packable down jacket. It’s lighter and more packable than the standard fleece jacket everyone seems to take with them. The one I have weighs less than two pounds and packs up smaller than a football. Sure, there’s some fleece jackets out there that meet that criteria, but this jacket was less than $30 on Amazon. It’s a good all around insulating layer that I use traveling, hiking, climbing, etc.

  • Pack layers

    Layering

    When I traveled to Scandinavia in October a couple of years ago, I wore a coat and scarf over a sweater over a shirt to the airport. Layer up so that you are prepared for any weather instead of packing separate outfits for potential temperature fluctuations.

  • Stick to a color scheme

    ColorScheme.png

    This is a good general packing rule, but is especially important with winter clothing. Make sure you match your clothes to your coat and scarf and don’t pack anything that doesn’t fit in the theme. This means you’ll have many different outfit combinations to choose from.

Pretty simple, huh? For more general packing tips, check out this post, 6 tips for packing light and this one, Essential items every traveler needs before the next big trip. Good luck!

Did you enjoy this post? What are your packing hacks? Tell me about them in the comments below! Share via Facebook or Twitter and f ollow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Links:

Bulky clothes photo: https://goo.gl/images/qDZ5D8

Down jacket photo: https://goo.gl/images/yXZpsh

Layers photo: https://goo.gl/images/4oYvs6

 

Destination: Charleston, SC, USA

Charleston: A quick look

Language: English
Currency: USD
Drinking Age: 21
Public Transportation: 2 free trolleys, and a paid bus service
Passport: No (for US citizens)
Vaccines: Routine

Before you leave

  1. Stay with Airbnb! Charleston has many cheap Airbnb options. (If you sign up using my link you’ll get a $40 credit and I could receive a small compensation as well.)
  2. Charleston is pretty far south–if you’re going during the warm months (that’s April-October down here, y’all) be prepared to sweat, and pack appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

Charleston

Once you get there:

You will likely have to drive to get around Charleston. If you’re flying in I would recommend renting a car. However they do have a bus service (CARTA) which offers bus rides for a fee, but their trolley, which operates through parts of historic Charleston, is free. Another service, DASH, also offers free trolley rides.

Be prepared to walk. Even with cars and buses and trolleys, to get around downtown you simply have to walk. There are plenty of paid lots and garages where you can park your car.

  1. Charleston City MarketOld-City-MarketThe Charleston City Market was established in 1788 by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and has been a public marketplace ever since. While it was once primarily a meat market, it has evolved into an artisan’s haven. You can find everything from hand-woven baskets, to paintings, to souvenirs, to cheesy hand-painted wine glasses.
  2. Hunley Submarine (civil war history)hunleys-daring-submarineThe Hunley is fun for any history buff. Scientists are working to restore a Civil War era submarine that’s open for tours on the weekends. The tours to the submarine itself are led by a guide, while the museum tours are self-guided. It’s a good introduction to the wealth of Civil War related history in the Charleston area. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child.
  3. Fort Sumter (civil war history)Fort Sumter Battlefield HeroFort Sumter National Monument is probably best known as the place where the American Civil War erupted. Nowadays, it’s another must see for anyone interested in American history. Getting there requires taking a tour boat to the fort, and taking an approximately two hour tour. Information on tours and facilities can be found on their website.
  4. Folly BeachFollyBeachA 20 minute drive from central Charleston, Folly Beach is a cute Carolina beach town. It is home to many tourist-y beach stores and hipster-y cafes.
  5. Kickin’ ChickenkickinchickenA local chain restaurant, the Kickin’ Chicken has great food and a relaxed atmosphere. With tons of big screen TVs, wings, and a bunch of beers on tap, it reminded me of Buffalo Wild Wings (with better service). The food was fantastic, and the service was excellent. I subbed in a barbecue sauce for the buffalo sauce on the menu for my sandwich and the server didn’t bat an eye.
  6. Black Magic CafeBlackMagicFollyBeachThe original Black Magic Cafe is located in Folly Beach with a new location in James Island. The Folly Beach location is in a tiny old house, with seating outside and in, including on the enclosed screened-in porch. It’s packed on a Sunday morning with plenty of 20 and 30-somethings enjoying coffee, muffins, eggs, and many breakfast combos.
  7. Aqua Terrace Rooftop BarRooftopBarLocated on top of the Charleston Marriott, the Aqua Terrace Rooftop bar has good views of the city, and a gorgeous view of the Ashley River. The drink prices are a little higher than the college bars we usually frequent ($10-15 for a mixed drink) but the cocktails are good.
  8. The Gin JointGinJointLocated right downtown (and near a parking deck, bonus!) the Gin Joint is hopping with 30-something hipsters on a Saturday night. It has a speakeasy theme and a variety of gin drinks, whiskey drinks, and cheeses.
  9. Fudgery IncFudgeryLocated across the street from the Charleston City Market, the Fudgery is conveniently located when you’re out on the town. They offer gourmet homemade fudge, hand-squeezed lemonade, and a variety of ice cream flavors. We picked up some chocolate caramel fudge to take home and a strawberry lemonade to sip on while we walked around. The staff is very friendly and offer free fudge and ice cream samples!

Charleston is a cool city, and I would love to see more of it in the future.  I’ve heard great things about their murder mystery parties, ghost tours, and other historic Charleston spooky attractions.

Did you like this post?  Do you have any recommendations for visitors to Charleston?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter, and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Links:

Trolley info: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/free-public-transportation-charleston-dash-trolley/

Hunley submarine site: https://hunley.org

Kickin’ Chicken photo: https://www.thedailymeal.com/kickin-chicken-2

City Market photo: http://www.visit-historic-charleston.com/things-to-do-in-charleston-sc.html

Charleston City Market: http://www.thecharlestoncitymarket.com/main/history

Rainbow Row photo: https://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/charleston-county/rainbow-row.html

Fort Sumter photo: https://www.civilwar.org/

Hunley Submarine photo: http://cdn.history.com/

 

6 Tips for Packing Light

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with my 15-year-old cousin (who lives near me) to New England for a week to see her aunt, my cousin. I’ve traveled a lot, and lately I’ve been getting into backpacker style traveling. On my last trip to Europe I stayed in hostels and didn’t check any luggage. It mostly started because I’m cheap, but it’s become more of a hobby now (and I’m still cheap). I’ll share some tips for packing light so that you can also stop paying to check a bag!

“You don’t have a suitcase?” My younger cousin’s mom asked me when we met in the airport parking garage a couple of hours before our flight.

“Nope” I replied, and gestured towards my backpack. We trekked into the airport, my cousin, her mom, my husband, and I, chatting about school and work and traveling.

Later, inside the airport, when she was paying $25 extra for my cousin’s checked bag her mom turned to me and asked again “You aren’t checking anything?”

I shook my head and my husband chimed in “Once you’ve lost a bag, you’ll never go back” I’ve actually never had an airline lose my luggage, but I’m super cheap. Paying $25 on top of my $300 ticket AND risk them losing my belongings? No thanks.

We arrived in NY and when my older cousin came to pick us up, the first thing she said to me was “that’s it?” upon seeing my backpack. “I’ll tell you how, just keep an eye on my blog” I joked.

Tip #1: Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Despite impressing my cousins, my husband still accused me of taking too many toiletries. “Do you need all of this?” He asked as he watched me pack. It’s a good question to ask yourself. If you don’t normally need something, it’s probably best to leave it at home unless you know for a fact you will need it on your trip. I’ll admit, in a normal week I don’t need workout clothes (oops) but my cousin is pretty active, so I knew visiting her meant we’d hit the gym at least once. Just be adaptable and pack for your trip and yourself.

Tip #2: Wear your bulkiest clothes to the airport so you don’t have to pack them. Even if it’s going to be warmer and you end up carrying your coat/jacket, it’s a great way to save space in your luggage. Carrying a coat or jacket doesn’t count as a carry-on or personal item. You can also put stuff in the pockets if you’re really desperate, but I would recommend saving this for the return trip, since you’ll likely have souvenirs of some kind. Just be careful not to put anything “suspicious” looking in your pockets.

To the airport I wore:

A short sleeved top
A pair of leggings
A pair of boots
A warm jacket

Tip #3: Plan to wash and/or re-wear your clothes. I haven’t checked luggage in 3 years. You can pack everything you need in carry-on size luggage no matter how long your trip is. I’ve found that I need a certain amount of stuff, no matter how long I’m going away. You always need pants, shirts, etc, but the trick is to re-wear and/or wash your clothes. If you’ll be away for more than a week you’ll probably need to wash clothes, but if you were at home, wouldn’t you be doing laundry anyway?

Tip #4: Save and use small containers for traveling with small items. I’ve saved mint tins and plastic razor boxes for a while and they’re awesome for organizing bobby pins, jewelry, cotton swabs, and other small accessories.

Tip #5: Utilize packing cubes. Organizing your belongings into packing cubes is a great way to save space. It seems counterintuitive to add items to save space, but cubes (or honestly, any small zip-up cloth bags you have) help you to smoosh items down. Bonus: they also help you to organize into outfits or type of clothing.

Tip #6: What you should pack.

What I packed in a backpack for a one week trip:

2 dresses
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of leggings
2 cardigan sweaters
2 pairs of PJ pants
2 comfy T’s for sleeping
2 tank tops
3 short sleeve shirts
1 long sleeve shirt
1 pair of tennis shoes
1 set of workout clothes (shirt, shorts, sports bra)
Socks and underwear for a week
A laptop
A magazine
An (empty) water bottle
I also packed travel sized toiletries. You’d be surprised what you can find in under 3 oz bottles. I have everything from deodorant to hairspray to baby powder to body spray.

Places to find small bottles of liquids:

Target
Walmart
5 Below
Bath and Body Works
Big Lots

If you can’t find your favorite shampoo or lotion in small bottles, you can purchase empty airplane sized bottles pretty much anywhere (Target, Walmart, Big Lots, REI, Dick’s, etc.) just check the travel section. You can then fill them at home with your favorite product. But lemme warn you, it’s messy and not the easiest task to accomplish. I would recommend just purchasing products that are already in travel sized bottles, but I’m not your dad.

If you follow this guide, you too can stop paying to check a bag when you travel!

Do you have any packing tips? Share them in the comments below!  For even more travel tips, check out Travel Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have to, A Backpacker’s Guide to Packing: Winter Edition, How I Moved to India for 2 months with Only a Backpack, and Essential Items Every Traveler Needs Before the Next Big Trip.  Did you like this post? Share via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter and follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!