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Fruit seller, Cartagena, Colombia
Travel

3 Days in Cartagena, Colombia… in 20 Colorful Snapshots

Back now from our recent trip to Colombia, I’ve already shared details of our experience in Bogota — a vibrant if still complicated gem of a city. That we loved Bogota so much was a bit of a surprise to us, given that Cartagena is much more my speed when it comes to my typical vacation preferences. It’s got that Caribbean heat and humidity, plus beaches and islands. It’s charming, lively, and picturesque beyond words. So rather than droning on too much, I want to simply show you scenes from our three days in Cartagena through snapshots. I hope they both gesture at the city’s beauty and culture, as well as suggest a reasonably paced sample itinerary for would-be visitors. And off we go! Continue Reading

Monserrate cable car ascent, Bogota, Colombia
Travel

8 Reasons to Travel to Bogota, Colombia (Despite What People Tell You)

On our connecting flights into Colombia earlier this month, we encountered a horrible person. This is not unusual on a plane, but the encounter was so pronounced that it left a prolonged bad taste that colored the beginning of our trip.

We were flying into Cartagena, where we began our Colombian adventure. The guy on the plane, an American, had long ago fallen in love with the city and had visited there 78 times, he said (but who’s counting?) — and had bought property and established some kind of nonprofit. He was in love with Cartagena, obviously, and told us we’d love it.

Then when we told him we were heading to Bogota as our next stop, he said this, actually out loud and not in his head: “You’re going to absolutely hate it. First of all, you’ll probably get kidnapped. And then of course, you’ll be sick from the altitude, which would ruin your whole trip even if you weren’t kidnapped. Also it’s freezing. I wish you had my email address so you could tell me afterward how much you hated it and I was right.”

Legit, this monologue happened. At one point I told him, “OK, stop talking now.” Neighboring passengers rolled eyes. It got awkward.

Much as we wanted to, we found that we couldn’t immediately brush it off. While in Cartagena, David and I asked several people (Colombians) how we might expect to find Bogota when we got there. And, frankly, we were not comforted by their answers. Many people underscored the danger of assault and also the altitude and weather challenges.

So several days later, by the time we took off from Cartagena on our way to Bogota, and someone sitting next to me on the plane made the sign of the cross, I felt a sense of dread.

But spoiler: In the end? We absolutely loved Bogota. Maybe even more than we did Cartagena, though that city is more of the seaside Caribbean vibe that is typically more my vacation speed. Here are all the reasons Bogota ranks high on our list of experiences: Continue Reading

First flight with twins
Family Life, Travel

First Flight With Twins! 5 Lessons I Learned (That Might Help You Too)

Readers of this blog well know that travel is among the greatest passions shared between David and me, so we knew we’d want to introduce the experience to our twin babies early on.

In our relationship, I’m more the one who’s like, “Cool, let’s totally fly to Australia tomorrow with newborn twins! I mean you never know unless you try, amiright?!” type of deal. David is more of the realist/pragmatist. I’m sure it’s very good to have this internal family system of checks and balances, but it is also the reason it took us 15 months to get on a plane with the babes.

At last, we did it! And in the end, the trip was both chaotic (duh) and absolutely doable — especially with nuanced preparation — some of which I’d done, and some of which I’ll know for next time.

Despite the fact that I already published the absolute, comprehensive best advice for flying with babies available on the Internet, turns out I had a few more things to figure out. Here’s what I wish I knew ahead of time (that might help you too!):

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Sundance Helicopter over Las Vegas Strip
Travel

Helicopter Over Las Vegas Strip: You’ve Got to Try This!

Through my work writing about events and travel and all sorts of lifestyle topics, I’ve had the chance to try many epic experiences. (And we well know from research that experiences are the true path to happiness — not material things.) Through work, I’ve had opportunities to visit many new cities and countries, flown a blimp over New York, ridden in a hot air balloon over Southern California, and in a race car on the German Porsche race track, for instance. These experiences — and memories — are my absolute favorite parts about my job in media.

Well, there are still plenty of things I have yet to try. And just this week, I checked another “first” off my bucket list: I rode in a helicopter over Las Vegas Strip!

In town for business, I was invited by the sightseeing outfit Sundance Helicopters to come for a nighttime ride over the Las Vegas Strip. And they would be sending a limo. So far, so good.

The ride was shortly after dinner time, but I neither ate nor drank beforehand. I get motion sick (not to mention anxious!) and I pictured open doors, intense noise, jerky movements, and wild banking. So I figured it would be better to have an empty stomach and be safe than sorry.

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Ambergris Caye, Belize
Travel

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? Continue Reading

Bogota, Colombia - Looking towards Usaquen from La Calera
Travel

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: Continue Reading

St. Regis Punta Mita Remede Spa Lounge
Travel

#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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Baby's first road trip
Family Life, Travel

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! Continue Reading

Private island vacation , 2015 travel trends
Travel

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
Travel

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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