Hi all! Back to the grind of another week, but hopefully you all had a great weekend. We didn't really do much because the weather here was brutal this weekend! We tried to run some errands on Saturday but the wind and rain made it so hard. We ended up just staying home the whole weekend having a Star Wars marathon! Kai is starting to fit in to all his 3 month clothes and one of the things I bought for him for this age was a pair of R2D2 pajamas! I have some R2D2 PJs myself (mine are from last year but here are some similar ones), so we did some major twinning and snuggling in them this weekend and watched most of the saga.
So one thing I get asked all the time is how we can afford to travel as often as we do, and the answer always is because we budget for all of our travels! Seeing the world is our biggest hobby and in order to make that hobby happen we save our money to do it! Today I want to share with you how we budget for our big annual vacations that we take every year. We have a few simple tips that really make all the difference in allowing us to take trips of a lifetime all the time!
Pick One Big Destination a Year
We always settle on one big trip per year and then fit in smaller trips like road trips or trips to go see family and friends in to our travel schedule. Figuring out where you want to go is the first step though because that's how you're going to figure out how much it is going to cost you to go on said trip. I suggest doing this as far in advance as possible. Honestly, we pick where we want to go on our big vacations each year almost a whole year in advance.
Make a Rough Price Outline
After you pick where you want to go, it's time to start figuring out how much it'll cost you. I look up flight prices and hotel prices to the destination we have picked out. I always try to look for the average price as well as good deals and land somewhere in the middle for both flights and hotels. I add those two things up and then I add in around $1,000 in spending money if we are taking a domestic trip or $2,000 for international trips. Those amounts include everything that we would be doing except for renting a car if it's necessary. So I'm talking all food, shopping, and entertainment. If we have to pre-pay for any entertainment, then it comes out of that lump sum. Examples of these kinds of things would be sporting event tickets, theater tickets, and tours.
Input Trip Total in to Budget
Once we've figured out roughly how much it will cost us to go on our chosen vacation, we figure out when we want to go and add that rough price in to our budget. We have a nice spreadsheet budget that we use to track all of our bills that need to be paid each month. We have it extended out by a couple years for any annual bills, big expenses like Christmas or buying a new car, or for vacations, so we can see that any expenses we have this year won't severely effect us in the future. So if we want to take a trip this upcoming December, we would put the trip total in to one our December lines on our spreadsheet under additional expenses. This way we can look and see that we won't be too low in our savings or that it won't cause any issues with having enough money to pay bills around that time. It's a nice visual representation to make sure that we aren't stretching ourselves too thin by going on vacation. If it causes any issues then we go back to the drawing board of either changing the time of year we take the trip or pick a new destination that might not cost as much money. As we get closer to needing to book our vacation, we spread out the total to where we need to pay for our flight and our hotel. So with still using December as an example, we would take out the price of the flight and hotel and move it to October since that is when we would be spending that money to book the flight and hotel. Then all that is left for the vacation in December is the spending money we would need for the trip.
*If you're interested in how we set up our budget please let me know and I can do a post on it or just answer via e-mail on an individual basis. I know budgets can be intimidating!
Look for my next travel tips post about the best way to save money on travel, so you can travel for less more often! Where is your next big vacation to? We're hoping to make it down to Savannah, GA/Charleston, SC this fall! Hope you all have a great week ahead!
Hey all! Happy Travel Tuesday! Hopefully you all had a great Easter weekend full of candy, family, and Christ! We had a pretty full weekend actually. The first in a very long time! Friday evening we took Kai to the mall to do a little bit of shopping. It was his first trip out of the house besides going to the doctor or my parent's house! He did so well, too. We got Shake Shack for dinner and popped in to a couple of our favorite stores, and he was an angel the entire time. On Saturday, we got to visit with some friends of ours who also just had a baby! It was so fun to catch up and swap baby stories. Easter Sunday was so wonderful for us. I put together Easter baskets for Kai and Wrigley and had so much fun doing it. I got Kai Sebastian the lamb from Cuddle + Kind, and I can tell he just loves him! We did our annual Easter egg hunt for Wrigley where we put a treat in little plastic eggs and hide them all over the house. He's so smart and finds all of them by himself and pops them all open to get the treat! It's so impressive. My parents came over late in the morning to also give Kai an Easter basket and spend some time with us. For Easter dinner, we went to my aunt's house and spent the afternoon with our big family. It was everyone's first time meeting Kai and it was so fun to see him interact with everyone. I hope you all had a great Easter weekend, too!
So I know we took our trip to Seattle awhile ago, but like I said in my Portland Travel Story post, I really wanted to share this trip with all of you. We went to some amazing places while visiting Seattle and it is honestly my favorite city in the US.
We drove up to Seattle from Portland and went straight to Pike Place Market. Like I said, Seattle is my favorite city in the US and Pike Place Market is my favorite place in Seattle. So basically my favorite place ever. We walked around a little bit and smelled the flowers and grabbed some fruit from a farmers stand when we first got there. Then it was time for lunch. One of my favorite places at Pike Place is Beecher's Handmade Cheese. You can see them actually making the cheese there in the shop! It is the original cheese shop and they have a nice selection of cheeses to choose from. They also have a cafe menu, so we love going here for lunch. I always get the mac and cheese. It is so creamy and rich. Caleb got a smoked turkey sandwich that was also delicious! Next on the list to visit was a French bakery called Le Panier. They have amazing macarons and other French pastries there. We stopped in and grabbed some treats to have for later at our Airbnb that we were staying at. Next to Le Panier is Turkish Delight where you guessed it...you can get Turkish delights and Turkish coffee. We of course got both! After our food spree, we went to a couple of shops like Sur la Table and Made in Washington. I love the Made in Washington store. I'm not usually a big gift shop person but this shop has the most amazing huckleberry salt water taffies. They are probably my favorite candy ever! So if you're ever at Pike Place make sure you grab a bag for yourself and me ;). We didn't make it to Starbucks this time but I'm a huge fan and think it's just so cool that the first Starbucks location is right there in Pike Place. A lot of people will tell you it's not worth it to wait in the long line to get a drink there and you can just walk a block and go to the location there to grab your coffee, but I think it's worth doing at least once. It's not just about getting a drink, it's the experience of being in their first shop!
After our afternoon at the market we made our way over to the Freemont area to check in to our Airbnb. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing there because #pregnancytales. For dinner that night, we went to my favorite food spot in Seattle, the Walrus and the Carpenter. They have the best oysters I've ever tried, and I was so sad I couldn't indulge in them this time around. All the more reason to go back again soon though! We still had a delicious dinner and then walked around the Ballard neighborhood afterwards.
Our second day in Seattle we actually spent hiking in Mount Rainier National Park, and I'm going to save that adventure for another post because with pictures alone it deserves it's own post! Before we headed out to the mountains though we stopped in at General Porpoise Doughnuts for breakfast. This was my favorite doughnut shop of our whole trip to the PNW! I loved everything about it from the doughnuts to the decor inside the shop. All their doughnuts are sugar coated and filled with cream or jelly. I got a strawberry cream filled doughnut that was seasonal and Caleb got the lemon curd doughnut. Both we're out of this world delicious! Their coffee was awesome, too. It was the perfect start to a very memorable day.
Our next day in Seattle was a full day of exploring. We had a quick breakfast at Cederberg Tea House in the Queen Anne area. It is a traditional South African tea house. Ashlyn and I found it on a list of the best bakeries in the USA and it was listed as the best one in the whole state of Washington, so we decided to check it out. It definitely didn't disappoint! My favorite thing we got was the Malva Pudding. Their big thing with it being a tea house though is Rooibos tea, which is caffeine free tea that is ground very fine and pulled through an espresso machine. I did not try the tea for a couple of reasons being I need caffeine in the morning and also I tried to stay clear of most teas while I was pregnant. Ashlyn tried it though and said it was really good!
Since we were in the area, we went over to Kerry Park for an amazing view of Seattle and the sound. You can see the entire Seattle skyline as well as Mount Rainier off in the distance on a clear day. We relaxed there for a bit then headed over to Salty's for their brunch buffet. We met up with some friends from California at Salty's and it was a very cool experience. They have a huge breakfast buffet and their restaurant sits right on the water. You can see seals flopping around the water from your table!
Our afternoon was really enjoyable, too. We did the espresso tasting at the famous Starbuck's Reserve Roastery. We also all tried their coffee cocktails, too, and I personally liked Caleb's the most. He got a play off of a Manhattan and it was so good! My favorite espresso was both the ones from the Congo. The Roastery is honestly one of my favorite spots in Seattle. They always have new things to try, and I love going back every time were out there. I can't wait till the Chicago one opens up!
We went to another favorite spot of mine for pre-dinner drinks at Needle & Thread. I was so sad that I couldn't order a cocktail with Caleb and Ashlyn, but the bartender graciously made me an amazing mocktail. The great thing about this bar is there is no menu. The bartender asks you a series of questions about what you like to drink and then crafts your perfect cocktail. Ashlyn and I discovered this place on our first trip to Seattle and we loved our drinks so much we just knew we had to take Caleb here. They both loved the drinks they got this time, too. The other cool thing about Needle & Thread is it is a speakeasy style bar. It's located on top of another bar called Tavern Law. You have to make reservations to get in to Needle & Thread and when it's your reservation time you enter Tavern Law, pick up a phone in the back of the bar and when your reservation is confirmed, you get buzzed in to a secret door where you can enter. I love bars like this because it's not just about the drinks but also the experience you get to have while enjoying a drink. After our time there, we walked over to Bar Melusine for dinner. This is a sister restaurant to Walrus and the Carpenter, so we knew it was going to be great, and we were right! I was boring and stuck with a burger and frites due to being pregnant but all the seafood looked delicious. I definitely plan on going back here next time so I can try the oysters and steak tartare!
Our last day we only spent the morning in Seattle and with it being a Sunday, we of course had to get brunch! We chose Westward for our last meal in Seattle and it definitely didn't disappoint. The restaurant is also located on the water (we have a thing for views ;) ) and the food was great. We got lucky and got to sit on the patio to enjoy the water and sun before getting back in the car for a long drive back to Portland. I got the Dutch Baby pancake and Caleb got the lamb shoulder hash. We recommend both! Both dishes were delicious and their lattes were awesome, as well. We stopped off at Pike Place Market one last time to walk through the fish market part of Pike Place since we didn't get to walk through it on our first day. We grabbed some snacks for our road trip and started our long trek back to Portland.
Instead of heading straight down Interstate 5 to get back, we got off once we hit US RT 12 and took it all the way to the coast. From there we drove down US RT 101 and stopped off at Cannon Beach. I'll share this part of our trip in another post, as well, as it was a full day worth of adventures!
Have you ever been Seattle? If so, I'd love to hear what your favorite places are in this beautiful city! Leave me a comment below and let me know!
Caleb and I went to Italy a couple years ago for our honeymoon and one of the places we visited was the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a very special part of Italy located on the northwestern coast of the country. We had the best time visiting and can't wait to go back some day and spend a few days there just relaxing on the beach, drinking wine, and enjoying the views! I want to share with you though some of the wonderful places we did get a chance to visit while we were there in a little quick guide. For reference, Cinque Terre means "five villages," and the five villages are Riomaggoire, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
There are a few options for getting to the Cinque Terre from other parts of Italy. You can take a bus, a train, or you can drive. Driving is not recommended as parking is very limited in the area.
The best major city to travel to the Cinque Terre from by bus or train is Florence. You can take the Italia Rail from Florence to Riomaggorie and it takes around 2 1/2 hours. If you prefer a guided tour and getting there by bus, you can book a day tour from Florence. We personally chose this day tour through Florence Tasting when we visited the Cinque Terre. It was priced at €110 per person and lasts about 12 hours.
There are 3 options for getting around to the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre which are by foot, by train, or by boat.
One of the most breath taking ways to see the Cinque Terre is by hiking through the area. The best way to do this is to hike along Trail #2, which is the Sentiero Azzuro or Blue Trail. The trail runs along the coast and it will take you around 6 hours to get from start to finish. You can start either in Monterosso and head south or you can start in Riomaggoire and head north. You can take your breaks from hiking while exploring each of the towns.
The easiest way to get from town to town is by train. The train stops in all 5 towns as well as a town called La Spezia, which is just outside of the Cinque Terre and is known as the main hub. This is where any trains you take from outside the area like Florence would stop for you if you are wanting to visit the Cinque Terre. La Spezia is about a 10 minute train ride to Riomaggoire and each of the other towns are only 5 minutes apart. It is recommended that you get a Cinque Terre Card for €10 for a day because it will get you unlimited rides on the line that goes to all 5 towns as well as access to the hiking trails and some museums. If you buy a 1 time train ticket for €1.80, make sure you validate your ticket at the station just before you get on the train. This shows that you're using the ticket for this ride and it wasn't previously used on a different ride. If you don't validate the ticket before you get on the train though, the conductor will charge you a lot of money to do it on the train.
The last way to get from town to town is by boat. There are a few different options, too, when it comes to getting around by boat. You can take a ferry, a boat tour from Manarola or Riomaggoire, or rent a private boat. You can catch the ferry from Monterosso and La Spezia and it will drop you off at every town except Corniglia.
Things to Do
The village of Riomaggoire is known for the beautiful colorful houses you always see in photos of the Cinque Terre. The best views of them are from Trail 531 and Trail 2. The town has some lovely shops and places to grab a bite to eat, as well. We recommend stopping in to Giammi Cafe and having a cappuccino and croissants first thing in the morning. This is also the best place to take a boat tour from!
This is the Cinque Terre's most romantic village. It's on top of a hill and has great views of the water. If you take a boat tour from Riomaggoire, you will be dropped off in Manarola. It is a wonderful experience that we highly recommend! We loved doing the boat tour and exploring this little village on our honeymoon. Our favorite part of this village was just relaxing up on a high cliff and watching the sea. Another cool stop to check out in this village is the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, which is a beautiful church.
Head over to the lookout called the Bar Terza Terra for some amazing views in Corniglia. This is also a great place to grab some drinks and food to relax with while enjoying the views of the sea. Another great place for some beautiful views is the Borgo Storico di Corniglia. Bring your walking shoes though because this is a hiking trail and will require some walking up and down hills.
My personal favorite village, Vernazza is where you can get in some amazing beach time. A great place to grab some lunch is Belforte and if you're up for some gelato (who isn't!?) stop by Gelateria Vernazza. For some history, you can check out the Castello Doria, which is a watchtower that use to belong to a much larger castle. It costs €1.50 to enter and climb the tower.
To view some fine art, tombs, and a beautiful church, visit the Church of San Francesco and Monastery. The church sits up on a hill, so it provides for some great views, too. It's a bit of a climb to get to, but the Monumento a San Francesco is worth it. It is a beautiful statue and once you get to it you'll be provided with a breathtaking panoramic view. Bring your swimsuit and towel with you to Monterosso, too, so you can relax at Spiaggia di Fegina. It is supposedly one of the 25 sexiest beaches in the world.
Where to Stay
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Hey there, friends! I hope you've been having a wonderful week. We've just been cuddled up at home, as usual! We had a nice quiet week though, just the 4 of us for the most part. We've gotten in lots of snuggles and are slowly catching up on sleep. Tuesday was extra nice because Kai and I took the "day off" and just snuggled all day long. We made what we call a couch fort where we push our couches together in our living room and we had a Harry Potter marathon. We munched on cookies and took a bunch of naps while we listened to the rain fall outside. It was the coziest most perfect day!
Caleb and I have started dreaming about our next trip to Walt Disney World and we've started thinking we are going to make it happen next spring for my birthday so we can go to the Flower and Garden Festival! Just the thought though inspired me to think up a fun Disney post for all of you! One of the things that many Disney goers have on their Disney bucket list is eating and drinking around the World Showcase at Epcot. If you've never done it before it might sound confusing and overwhelming or if you're not aware of this awesome Disney tradition let me fill you in! Epcot's World Showcase has 11 different pavilions that represent different countries all around the world. Each pavilion has different food and drinks that you can try. So a lot of Disney goers will make it a goal to go all the way around to each of the pavilions and try a food and drink item from each country! You will roughly spend around $150 per person if each person decides to get food and drinks at every pavilion. Personally, Caleb and I like to share because it's so much food! Here is our guide for helping you choose the best eats and drinks while you're there during a non-festival time. We personally like to go counterclockwise around the lake. (During Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden, and Food and Wine there are special menus with additional countries you can visit...which I will go over in different posts in the future).
Food - Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, Signature Poutine
Drink - Labatt Blue
Rose & Crown Pub
Food - Fish and chips
Drinks - Pimm's Cup, Guinness
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
Food - Macarons, Pain au chocolat
Drink - Champagne
Crepes de Chefs de France
Food - Chocolate crêpe
Drink - Café espresso
Spice Road Table
Food - Hummus fries, Three lamb sliders
Drinks - Pomegranate mimosa, Sangria, Andalusian Nights
Food - Spicy crunchy roll, Spicy calamari tempura
Drink - Sake
Fife & Drum Tavern
Food - The American Dream, Jumbo turkey leg
Drink - Not Your Father's Root Beer
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
Food - Calamari Fritti, Margherita pizza, Cannolo Siciliano
Drinks - Via Napoli Sangria, Via Vesuvio
Food - Gelato cup
Drink - Prosecco
Food - Traditional Sausages
Drink - Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen
Joy of Tea
Food - Pork egg roll
Drink - Tipsy Ducks in Love
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Food - Viking Chocolate Mousse
Drink - Viking coffee
La Hacienda de San Angel
Food - Pork empanadas, Tacos de Camarones
Drink - Lime raspberry margarita, Rosita margarita
Caleb and I have "been around the world" the last two years and these are our favorite picks from both years! Good luck...and don't forget to drink water! ;) Cheers! Prost! Salute!
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Better late than never, right!? Ok so I know we took this vacation quite awhile ago, but now that I have my MacBook and I can actually edit photos with the quality they deserve I started re-doing our shots from our PNW adventure last summer and they are just too good not to share with all of you! Especially since we won't be traveling anywhere until fall this year, I thought I'd slowly share our travel story from this vacation with you all on here. So, let me start from the beginning...
In summer 2017, we took our big annual vacation and this time we chose Portland, OR and Seattle, WA! I have been to both cities in the past with my best friend who lives in Portland, but Caleb has never been. We visited with my best friend Ashlyn and took Caleb to all of our favorite spots as well as tried out some new ones! We spent 2 days in Portland, drove up to Seattle and spent 4 days there, and then drove back down to Portland where we spent another day and a half. For the sake of not making this post be a novel, I'm just going to share the Portland part with you today. Please forgive the lack of photos, too, we really took this time to enjoy spending time with each other and Ashlyn and I was also in my first trimester...so as you can imagine I was really concentrated on surviving and enjoying each day to the best of my ability!
We arrived in to Portland really late at night and did my favorite ritual that Ashlyn and I have when I first get to Portland...we went to Jack in the Box! This is one of those fast food places that we don't have in the Chicago area but we really love it, so we we're excited to grab some burgers, tacos, and egg rolls after our long flight.
Our first full day was filled with just exploring the city since it was Caleb's first time. We hit up the famous Voodoo Doughnuts and Stumptown Coffee for breakfast, did some shopping at Powell's City of Books, and then went to a new spot for me for lunch, Pine State Market. The cool thing about this market is that it is basically like a dining hall. There are a bunch of small restaurant stands inside and you can get so many different kinds of foods! They have Korean BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, ramen...you get the picture. Caleb got the ramen, I got a burger, and Ashlyn got a jumbo hot dog. The best part about this is we all got to share and try a little bit of everything! We also grabbed some soft serve ice cream from the Wiz Bang Bar stand, which is Salt & Straw's only soft serve location in Portland. Hands down the best ice cream you will ever have! After stuffing ourselves crazy, we drove over to the Alphabet District (which is my favorite neighborhood in PDX) and did some shopping. I love this area because there is a great mix of one of a kind boutiques as well as some well known favorite stores. Our favorite store in the area though is called The Meadow. It is a salt, bitters, and chocolate shop and is owned by Mark Bitterman. If you've ever dappled with higher end salt, his name probably rings a bell. So as you can imagine with Caleb being the amazing cook that he is...he was in absolute heaven. We walked out with a bunch of salt, chocolate, and a pink salt block! We then took a nice afternoon break for this preggo lady, freshened up, and headed out to dinner at a new spot for me, Pok Pok. They serve authentic Thai food and it was so delicious. We suggest getting the fish sauce wings and Kaeng Hang Leg, which is sweet pork belly. We then walked over to get more Salt & Straw ice cream because we promised Caleb it would be at least a daily occurrence. I got a scoop of a seasonal option but Ashlyn and Caleb both got pints, so we could have it whenever we wanted at Ashlyn's apartment!
Our second full day was an amazing one to say the least. We started the day out at Pine State Biscuits for a great breakfast. This is one of our all time favorite places in Portland, and we have to go every time I visit! We then headed out to the Columbia River Gorge where we did a full day of hiking. We started out at the Crown Point Vista House, which is a great overlook of the Columbia River. We then did a 2 mile hike to the Upper Falls, a 1 mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls, and a half mile hike to Multnomah Falls. All three hikes we're fairly easy...at least easy enough for a 12 week pregnant lady! You can access all three trail heads off of Historic Highway 30. After our nice long day of hiking, we headed back in to the city where we had dinner at our favorite Portland restaurant, Radar. Ashlyn and I discovered Radar on our first visit out there before she moved to Portland, and we fell so in love with this restaurant. We hyped it up a bunch, but Caleb agreed at the end that it is some of the best food you will ever have. Our favorite dishes are the braised brisket and smoked pork shoulder. My mouth is watering right now just typing about them!
The following morning was a quick one in terms of our time in Portland. We popped in to a cute little doughnut place called Pip's Original Doughnuts and Chai for breakfast. They serve little doughnuts, coffee, and the best chai teas. We got one of each mini doughnut with the cinnamon sugar and the Dirty Wu being our top choices. We then drove up to Seattle, which I will save that fun for a different blog post!
When we got back to Portland a few days later, we kept the doughnut train going and hit up Blue Star Donuts for our first breakfast back in PDX. I really really love the lemon poppy doughnut but the blueberry bourbon basil is a close second. We stuck around the Mississippi neighborhood of PDX after breakfast and went in to some cute shops in the area. We hit up another Meadow location and this time Caleb grabbed some bitters and I grabbed some rose cocktail syrup that I am still dying to try. Only a couple more weeks hopefully! We opted to stick around the area for lunch, too, and went to Little Big Burger, which is right next to Blue Star. My travel crew graciously took an afternoon break with me back at Ashlyn's place before heading over to the Old Town area for our Shanghai Tunnels tour later at night. This was a brand new experience for me, and I'm not going to lie I was a little nervous about it. Ghost stories aren't really my thing, but I sucked it up and went underground for the tour of the tunnels. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but it really isn't that bad. Just watch your head! The ceilings are low and you could whack your head on many many pipes. After the tour, we went over to Cartopia, which is an awesome lot full of food trucks! We each got something different and shared just like we did at Pine Street Market. I love doing this so you get to try a little bit of everything!
Our final day our of vacation was only a half day, but we ended on quite a high note. We went out for breakfast to a place called Off the Waffle. You guys, I LOVE waffles so much. Like Leslie Knope level love waffles. This place apparently also loves the show Parks and Rec because you can get a plate called The Swanson! It was our dream breakfast. It was unfortunately time for us to head to the airport after that, but we definitely left with full hearts and bellies. We can't wait for our next visit out to the PNW with Nugget in tow!
I'll be sharing our time in Seattle and Mount Rainier National Park in separate posts. so stay tuned! Make sure you're following me on Twitter for daily ramblings and blog post announcements! Hope you all have an amazing weekend!
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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