St. Regis Punta Mita Remede Spa Lounge

#Spagoals: 11 Insane Destination Spas Around the World

Just like how little kids dream they could possibly count every grain of sand on every beach on earth, I like to dream I could visit every single one of the most epic destination spas on earth one day. That’s a reasonable goal, right?

With input from well-traveled friends, I rounded up of some of the world’s greatest destination spas for a recent travel story. Turns out I’ve only personally been to two out of the 11 I ended up including in the piece, so I’ll be adding the rest to my bucket list!

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Bogota, Colombia - Looking towards Usaquen from La Calera

Up Next: LAX to Colombia!

If you, like us, are devouring the new Netflix series Narcos, Colombia may not be super-high on your list of travel destinations. But the country now is far from what it was in those drug cartel-controlled years. And it is courting tourists to come check out its warmth and culture and natural beauty.

I got the idea to visit Colombia when we were in Tulum earlier in the summer with a big group of friends celebrating a wedding. On the day following the nuptials, several of us took a hungover walk from the beach to shop for souvenirs (for instance, the shirt Jordan wore to his travel-theme first-birthday party, and the one Maya wore in this fierce smizing pic — werk). On that slow saunter, a friend who had recently returned from a super-fun vacation in Colombia during which she danced the nights away with her husband (romantico!) told us we had to go and we’d love it.

I am excitable and impressionable when it comes to holiday ideas. And I also love certain serendipities that make a visit to a place seem fated, like an enthusiastic convo about one place while in another fabulous place amid warm and wonderful people.

Plus, I won’t lie: Wherever there is a new Four Seasons hotel opening, that’s where I want to be. So the chips fell into place, the grandparents got on board to babysit, and we booked some flights. Woo!

For those who might be interested in a similar visit to Colombia, especially from Los Angeles like us, here’s a sketch of what we have planned so far: Read more…

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Ambergris Caye, Belize

6 Bucket-List Islands I’ve Seen… and 7 More I Need to Visit Before I Die!

I recently had the chance to pitch and write a story for Bravo TV’s The Daily Dish called “13 Islands You Have to See Before You Die.” Of course, this was also a chance for me to sit at my desk wanderlusting madly.

In the piece, I included a mix of some of my favorite islands on earth… as well as an approximately equal number of places that I haven’t yet seen with my own two eyes — but have on my bucket list for sure.

From natural landscapes plucked from fantasies to all-night European party destinations, behold the picks I culled together (as the list originally appeared on The Daily Dish) so that we can all start making our plans — or at least building our dreams — to cross off every last one of these beauties.

How many have you visited so far? And which island are you dying to visit next? Read more…

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Taking babies to hotels

New Family Travel Traditions (And Happy Labor Day Weekend!)

David and I like to keep moving. We try to seize each opportunity to travel as a chance to visit a new country (or two, or three), ideally something we can both see together for the first time. I can’t think of a trip we’ve taken abroad that we didn’t love enough to repeat a million times — but there are so many other places we’d like to see first!

But in between the big trips, we do have some go-to minibreak destinations we visit frequently enough that they feel like home away from home for us. Specifically — as any regular reader of this blog will know — we love the Palm Springs region and travel frequently to the desert. It’s got all of the ingredients that make up a perfect little holiday: easy striking distance by car, luxe hotels, perfect pools, sunshine that won’t quit… and proximity to the world’s best outlet shopping.

I’ve stayed all over Palm Springs over the years, for all kinds of occasions and getaways. Korakia Pensione, the Avalon (nee Viceroy), and the Parker are among my favorite properties.

I now have a new favorite in the making, too. Read more…

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Baby's first road trip

We Did It (And You Totally Can Too)! 6 Tips for Baby’s First Road Trip

When David called on Friday to check in on his way home from work, and I told him, “You’re off the hook. I think you should stay home and relax.”

We had planned a road trip about 325 miles north up the coast of California to the Monterey area for the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends. But I knew hubs was tired, and I assumed this undertaking—our one-year-old twins’ first major road trip—would be utterly exhausting. It might be better if he stayed home and recouped some rest instead. “No way,” he said, if wearily. “I wouldn’t miss the babies’ first road trip!” So it was on.

And you know what? It turned out to be far from the fatiguing experience I feared it could be. In fact, it was manageable enough that I actually wondered why the words “baby’s first road trip” strike such terror in new parents’ hearts. We’re just back now, and I’m here to correct the record: Baby’s first road trip can be a ton of fun!

Along the way, I picked up some tips for road tripping with babies that will make our next one even better—and can inspire you to get out there, too! Read more…

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Push present

Yes, I Got a Push Present — and I Deserved It!

My twins turned one last month, and I’ve been reflecting a lot on the way this summer feels with them on the outside compared to how it was with them on the inside last summer. Duh, it’s a lot different.

As part of all the swirling preparations last year, I got something like a push present (even though we need to stop calling it that — but more on that later). Now I’m learning that these gifts for mama surrounding baby’s birth are highly controversial, so that’s what I’m here to discuss (and OK, defend) today.

A recent survey conducted by one of my employers, Today, showed just how controversial they really are: Among 8,000 respondents, close to half said they weren’t fans (and 26 percent said they didn’t even know what a push present was). Just 28 percent cheered the idea.

Evidently, some folks think they’re just tacky: Isn’t the baby the present? Read more…

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Private island vacation , 2015 travel trends

Bon Voyage! 5 Over-the-Top Travel Trends You Need to Know About Right Now

[Mini drumroll…]

I’m excited to share that I’m now working with Bravo TV’s fun entertainment, pop culture, and lifestyle destination on the web, The Daily Dish! As the freelance contributing editor, I’ll be producing all kinds of lifestyle content, including beauty, fashion, food, entertainment — and a whole slate of fun travel stories.

To that end, I’d love to share my latest piece on 2015 travel trends, which originally appeared on the Daily Dish.

I hope it inspires some great holidays in the waning summer weeks and beyond!

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Peach salad at Trace Austin

A Vegetarian in Austin: The 6 Best Things I Ate in Town

Because I don’t eat meat, I’m frequently limited when I travel. When I visit many other countries or cities, I don’t expect to eat the regional delicacy — and I’m respectfully OK with that. But on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to eat very, very well in places I didn’t expect that would be possible.

One such place was Austin, where I assumed I’d find a city overflowing with pulled pork and steak or whatever kind of barbecue meat eaters eat. (#Clueless.) Such was not the case. I found plenty of barbecue, of course — but that included a vegetarian barbecue sandwich I’d gladly pick as my sole desert-island food. It also included a huge selection of light and health-minded fare, including an impeccable peach salad and melon soup, just right for the 100-degree heat. And of course, it included some pretty epic dessert (which I approached in totally unrestrained fashion because vacation.)

So if you’re a vegetarian in Austin, or going to Austin, I present for your consideration a few of my favorite things in town:

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Barton Springs Pool Austin, Texas

48 Hours in Austin, Texas: The 7 Best Things I Did in Town

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a chronic sufferer of FOMO. (In fact, I characterized it as the most debilitating of my pregnancy symptoms last summer, which was really saying a lot.)

But I just came back from a perfect weekend getaway with the hubs — less than 48 hours — in which I somehow managed to feel like I had both soaked up a ton of local culture, and also scored some much-needed rest and rejuvenation. And despite the shortness of the trip, I didn’t come home feeling any FOMO.

Our weekender was in Austin, Texas. And although neither hubby nor I had ever before been there, we found it a perfectly paced town where there is plenty to do and see, but not an air of pressure that you must see everything on a list or else you have somehow blown a major opportunity. (I hate that feeling.)

In fact, before we left on this trip, I solicited some advice from travel blogger friends, as well as a pal who lived in Austin during graduate school. Here’s what the latter said about it in an email: “The good thing about Austin is that you can just soak up the vibe and not feel like you have to do any one, or 10, particular things. If you have some good food, margaritas, and hear a little music, then you’ve gotten a good slice of the city.”

And, after my visit, I found that description of the Southern city just exactly right: Austin is a place where you can find what your particular personality seeks — food, music, sun, culture, shopping, whatever — and come home enriched and restored. I loved that.

It also helped that we were so well located when we visited, thanks to our gracious host hotel, the W Austin. It’s right downtown in the Second Street District (literally right next door to the famous Austin City Limits music venue), and allowed us to walk (even in 100-degree heat) or take a few-dollar Uber ride easily around town to see a ton of great stuff without much effort or advanced planning.

That said, here are my absolute favorite things we did with our 48 hours in Austin, Texas: a little weekend getaway that felt like so much more.  Read more…

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Travel theme first birthday party ideas

Travel Themed First Birthday Party: A Festive Unisex Bash for the Twins!

I don’t even know how to approach a post about my twins turning one: No words can begin to adequately sum up the intense and wondrous and wild year after our family of two became four. All parents know this feeling, of course.

So how about if I focus instead on the babes’ travel themed first birthday party? That seems like a reasonable scope and scale. And I’m kiiiiiinda obsessed with the way it turned out.

For this party, David had one request: He wanted to host it in the backyard of our home, our first house, where we brought our babies after we left the hospital, a place to which he, in particular, has a deeply visceral connection (which is very sweet to see).

As for me, I had a few more ideas. After we got the babes their first passports and I saw how bonkers cute/hilarious the photos looked, I had this idea to make a sign that said “Oh, the places you’ll go!” and post those photos somewhere on it. From there, I loved the idea of a travel themed first birthday party. And then I thought of a “Here comes the airplane!” sign for the food table. Of course we’d have a taco cart, the crowd-pleasingest, budget-friendliest, easiest way to feed a group.

Along those lines, I was inspired by a couple of recent trips to Mexico (Punta Mita/Sayulita and Tulum), plus the availability of such great Mexican-style decor in Los Angeles. I was also pretty obsessed with this photo on Pinterest. But I knew I didn’t want the party to be too theme-y in any way. And that was about where my opinions and expertise on the matter ended.

Fortunately, I have friends in very convenient places — namely, in the event industry. My super-talented pal Sarah Granger-Twomey of PIE Productions got on board with helping me plan (never mind she’s in the throes of planning her own daughters’ celestial-themed joint birthday party in a few weeks), and helped me bring it to vibrant life.

Aaaaand her in-demand photographer husband, Sean Twomey of 2Me Studios (who also shot our maternity photos!) offered to shoot our day (while he also managed his two kids). Double score!

So after a super fun afternoon shopping for decor with Sarah in downtown Los Angeles, we were all set to go for an 11 a.m. backyard party. And then just as Sarah and our friend Rachel (who is among the most naturally festive people I know) were arriving to help set up, we heard thunder, and rain started falling. Out of absolutely nowhere. Um, what? People: It’s mid-July in Los Angeles, during a drought of biblical proportions. This cannot and does not happen. The Day After Tomorrow. Alanis Morissette. Etc.

And I would have panicked without my two seasoned event-industry friends, along with my event-industry husband, who rolled up their sleeves, pounded the coffee, and got to work.

Another thing that seems relevant here, before I go on with all the photos: As Sarah, Rachel, David and I stood in the living room formulating a rain plan, our friend (first) and neighbor (second), Dwayne, ran up the front walk in his jogging clothes talking about, “Hey, I have an E-Z Up tent. I’m bringing it by.”

This to me was a moment among so very many — nearly infinitely many in our love-filled first year — that have crystallized the idea of “It takes a village.” And we’d be absolutely lost without ours. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the helpers and everyday heroes in our lives. 

(By the way? The rain held off during our party’s exact mid-day window.)

Now onto the photos… Read more…

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