what i'm packing for my trip to europe

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I’m about two weeks out from my trip to Europe and am so excited. We’re spending my birthday in London, then hopping over to the Netherlands (as my family heritage is very, very Dutch. In fact, my ancestors were some of the first Dutch settlers of New York, making us Knickerbockers!). I'm a big planner and get pretty extra in the planning process so I’ve been sketching out my outfit ideas for weeks already and have finally gotten it down to what I think will be my final packing list.

I’ve left a few things off this list like my pajamas and workout clothes, but those things have little relevance to my daily outfits so I decided to keep this list more streamlined. I’m only taking a carry-on, which would have once been daunting to me but after living in NYC, I’ve become adept at packing light. The trick is to plan your outfits ahead of time, pack smart (I use the Kon-Mari folding method), and choose pieces you’ll be able to mix and match.

A little background on what I’m expecting in terms of weather and activities that I kept in mind when choosing what to pack. The weather should be in the high 60s during the day, getting a little chillier at night. We’re not expecting much rain, but you never know in these areas, so I kept that possibility in mind. In London, most of our activities will be exploring the city and having picnics in the park, then going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour which, of course, requires a certain look.

As for the Netherlands, things are a little less structured but I’ve considered outfits that work for cycling as well as a look for a day spent outdoors, when we go out of the city and into the forest near the border of Holland and Germany. I needed something sporty for that day, but also pulled together and cozy.

packing for ten days in Europe

10) Statement Raffia Earrings - I’m definitely a statement earring girl, so I’ll be bringing my raffia pair as well as a vintage white shell pair, pearl studs, and my classic diamond studs.

11) Blue & White Printed Scarf - To give basic outfits a girly, spring vibe, I’m packing two scarves (one is a short, pink neck scarf) including a blue + white printed one to wear with sweaters and jeans.

12) White Converse - These are my favorite travel shoes because they endure everything. I don’t want to pack my big wellies for this trip, so I’m taking the white Converse because they do well in the rain or shine.

13) Beige Suede Slides - I adore my beige slides! They’re the perfect balance of casual and dressy, depending on how you style them.

14) Small Basket Bag - Since it is spring after all, I can’t travel without my favorite basket bag.

15) Barrington Tote - My Barrington tote is the perfect travel bag. I’ll carry it on the plane and use it on days when I need to carry more with me, such as my camera or snacks.

16) Instax Mini 8 - I actually bought this camera just for this trip (and I’ll use it in the future, too) because I want to be able to have cute little polaroids to put in my journal.

17) Fujifilm x-t20 - I’m also, of course, taking my mirrorless Fujifilm x-t20 camera and 35 mm lens to use for taking photos around the city.

18) Trench Coat - You can’t very well go to London or Amsterdam, in my opinion, without a trench coat. I’m actually taking two (which I plan on sharing and swapping out), one that’s lighter and one a little bulkier just in case.

19) Rain Jacket - So that poor weather can’t ruin the day, I’m packing my hooded rain jacket.

20) Wide Brim Hat - As another way of re-styling a simple outfit, I’m taking my wide brim brown hat.

1) Gingham Day Dress - I’m taking a fun, periwinkle gingham dress to (hopefully) wear on our day in Notting Hill and Kensington Palace Gardens because I think the color will be so fun surrounded by all of the pastel buildings and flowers.

2) White Cashmere Sweater - I love this versatile sweater because cashmere works in so many different climates. I’ll be pairing this with my jeans and various accessories.

3) Black Square Neck Blouse - This square neck blouse is so flattering and looks especially good with gold jewelry and statement earrings. It will definitely be a piece that I rewear as much as possible.

4) White Tee - The perfect layering piece, right? I plan on wearing it quite a bit under my cardigan and trench coats, styled with scarves and different necklaces.

5) Black Silk Camisole - Another good layering piece, I love wearing black camisoles for any occasion, dressed up or down. I will probably wear with with my cardigan and Lululemon leggings for our outdoorsy day.

6) Long Beige Cardigan - One of my favorite outer layers is a thin, beige cardigan that I wear all the time at home to the point that it’s almost like a comfort blanket.

7) Blue High-Waisted Jeans - One of two pairs of jeans I’m taking with me, my blue high-waisted pair from Madewell are so comfortable and flattering.

8) Black High-Waisted Jeans - Black skinny jeans have been my go-to for years. I’ll mix and match them with everything else I bring as they are a perfect base for any outfit.

9) Gold Pendant Necklace - To dress my outfits up, I’m bringing a couple of different gold necklaces.

my u.s. travel bucket list

Monterey, California

Monterey, California

Whether it’s Europe or Southeast Asia or Kenya to visit my adopted elephant, I’m almost always dreaming about the next destination I want to experience. I think many of us who love to travel are always imaging ourselves jetting off to far flung places. But this month on the blog is about blooming with grace or blooming where you are and that’s what inspired me to share the list of places I’m dying to go here at home in the U.S.

I’ve been fortunate to visit and live in many different states, but what’s really cool about the U.S. is that it’s so big and spans many different types of landscapes and environments, so there’s always something new to experience. Here are ten places I’m hoping to check off my travel list soon that are right here in my home country. Let me know if you’ve been to any on the list or where you’re hoping to visit soon.

charleston, south carolina //
I honestly can’t believe I still haven’t been to Charleston, having grown up in the South! In fact, I weirdly haven’t been to many of the big Southern cities because my travels are usually further away rather than in my region. But, with all of the beautiful, colorful architecture and incredible food scene, Charleston is one I cannot wait to check off my list.

austin, texas //
Austin ties with Charleston for the U.S. city I most want to visit right now. From the quirky art scene to the food and all of the amazing outdoor spaces, Austin seems like the perfect destination for me. I want to get in all the vintage shopping, taco eating, honky tonk dancing, and natural swimming hole swimming and definitely stay in one of the city’s cute Airbnbs.

new orleans, louisiana //
The architecture, the history, and the music are all big draws to New Orleans but to be honest, it’s really all about the food! From beignets to pralines to red beans and rice and all of the amazing up-and-coming bars in the city, I’d have to do a lot of walking to burn it all off.

northern california //
After my parents raved about Monterey, my dream has been to do a slow road trip around the region probably starting in San Francisco and then going around Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel, Muir Woods, and Sausalito. It just seems like one of the most beautiful areas in the country and exactly the chill, cozy, beachy vibe that I love so much.

woodstock, vermont //
Vermont has always been a dream of mine to visit in the autumn because it literally looks like cozy heaven. Then, I saw Julia’s posts in Woodstock and knew that was the perfect place. That bookstore!

jackson hole, wyoming
If we’re talking outdoorsy trips with lots of hiking and picnics, Jackson Hole would be my pick. The landscape has to be one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Plus, the town has plenty to keep you busy too and you know I’d be all about the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

blackberry farm, tennessee //
Probably top three on my list is Blackberry Farm. Ever since I read about it long ago, I think in an issue of Town & Country, I’ve wanted to rent one of their “cabins” (hard to call it that when they’re so high end) and spend a whole week taking cooking and gardening classes, hiking, and riding horses.

hudson valley, new york //
My mom was born in Hudson Valley and we’ve been wanting to take a trip up there to rent this amazing property we found on Airbnb. It’s a converted barn set on a little creek and only a short walk into town where there are cute farm stands and general stores.

savannah, georgia //
Can you believe I live like three hours from Savannah and haven’t been yet? I’m thinking of taking a photography trip up there this summer to see the architecture and the beautiful southern flora. I don’t plan on going deep into the touristy town center other than to stop in The Paris Market.

kona, hawaii //
What would this list be without a spot in Hawaii? It was never a place that interested me too much growing up for some strange reason. I think I thought of it as being super touristy and having grown up so close to Disney, I didn’t love that. But lately, I’ve seen photos from the Kona and Maui areas and it just looks like such a fragrant, lush place with all the fruit stands on the side of the roads. Ideally, I’d love to stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai but an Airbnb could be cute too if it has a private pool.

a triumphant return to st. augustine

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As you might know, I lived in St. Augustine, Florida while doing my undergrad at Flagler College and have so many good memories of my time there. From swimming in ocean in the mornings before class and hanging out at all of the cute cafés to riding my bike around the cobblestone streets and appreciating all of the historic architecture (in addition to all of the typical college experiences, too, of course), there was always something to appreciate.

But, I didn’t go back to visit St. Augustine for a really long time after graduating because the end of senior year was a weird time for me and for awhile, I felt really negative connotations with the town that I loved so much before. I finally went back for the first time last summer, three years (!!!) after graduation with my friend Ryan, who I had studied with and was back in Florida visiting from New Jersey. He admitted that he kind of had some of the same weird feelings being back, which made me feel so much better about the whole thing.

While it was weird seeing all the ways things had changed and all the old places where I had so many memories, it was a good way to get over the bad vibes. Since then, I had visited one other time but it was at night and rainy and wasn’t the most exciting. But, this past weekend, my friend Holly and I planned a day trip that I felt helped me to reclaim my old city as my own.

Holly grew up in North Carolina and only moved to Florida recently. She’d been wanting to spend some time in St. Augustine and I’ve become a pretty enthusiastic tour guide, so I was excited for the day. What made it even better was that she recently bought the same exact car as me, so it was like being a passenger in my own vehicle on the way up. Haha.

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We started by getting donuts and driving up A1A along the beach to get there, which is one of my favorite drives. Sometimes when I had the time, I would take this route going back to school from my parents’ house in New Smyrna Beach in the evening. I always listened to Lana Del Rey on the drives for some reason (lol) and it was so magical. It’s an ocean view almost the entire way until you pass through some small, really Southern looking towns and then get into St. Augustine Beach.

Once we got into the beach side of town, we passed some of my old haunts like Café 11 (which had the best caprese sandwich and there were always dogs out on the patio), the beach outpost of Kookaburra Coffee, and the beach entry by the pier that was always my go-to.

Passing by the beach as we approached downtown, we passed the old office of the wedding planning company I worked for in school as well as the lighthouse and the touristy Alligator Farm, somewhere I’d never actually ended up visiting.

Crossing over the Bridge of Lions is always a kind of magical experience because you get the most amazing view of historic downtown as well as the portion of the St. John’s River that comes through town. Sometimes, you’ll get stopped if the drawbridge is up, but it’s fun because you can get out of the car and walk around. Didn’t happen to us today, but the view was perfect nonetheless.

So, we parked over on a street by my old dorm and walked up through campus so I could show her the amazing architecture and especially the courtyard which is one of my favorite places in town.

We walked around a little and stopped in this new self-serve tap room situation which reminded me of a scaled down version of a wine bar I love in Winter Park. We had some wine and pineapple cider, then walked uptown around where my former hairstylist’s salon is. I like the uptown area because it’s less touristy than much of downtown.

Our first stop was Juniper Market which is a super aesthetically pleasing coffee shop slash market slash art studio. It’s all white shiplap and there are tons of gorgeous paintings and paper goods created in house. There were some gorgeous postcards with painted magnolias and oranges that I’m very much coveting!

We went next door to Goldfinch, a boutique I loved exploring when I was in school. They have a really cute curated selection of chic, beachy bohemian dresses, bags, and jewelry. Next stop was the antique store across the street where I found a gorgeous pair of vintage earrings for $2! 😍

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Next, we walked over to one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the world, The Floridian. I absolutely adored their original location which was right next door to my communications building and was sad to hear that they had moved but I ended up really adoring the new location. They were able to really retain and maybe even enhance the cozy, homey, Southern vibe.

What I love about The Floridian is how it celebrates Florida heritage in a way that’s authentic. There’s no Mickey Mouses or tacky neon palm trees. Instead, there are beautiful wooden antiques, the most stunning alligator painting (it might be charcoal), and a creative, well thought out menu that sources locally.

I got my go-to order, the Fried Green Tomato hoagie with side salad and sweet tea. My friend got a Fried Green Tomato BLT (with bacon jam instead of actual bacon) and a Garden Gimlet which was this really great herby cocktail.

After our early dinner, we went over to Ice Plant which is one of my favorites that I never visited enough when I lived in town. It’s this great bar inside a 1920s ice factory that serves a vintage inspired menu. I got my go-to Moscow Mule and we sat there for quite awhile talking about fun potential future plans and making friends with one of the bartenders who was a fellow Flagler graduate. He was definitely the kind of person who made me proud to have graduated from Flagler because was so intelligent and thoughtful about the issues we were discussing.

I took a couple photos while we were having drinks and sort of love them because they have an interesting vibe and look like they could’ve been taken in the 1920s, particularly the one at the bottom of this post. It really feels like it tells a story.

After drinks, we went over to the beach. My friend is from North Carolina but once came to St. Augustine for spring break and, coincidentally, one of the spots that meant a lot of her was the same pier that holds a place in a lot of my own memories.

So, we went over there and walked on the beach. It was getting dark and misty and I was wearing wellies, so it weirdly felt like being on a beach in England or something!

Last stop was ice-cream because how else would we end the day? We picked some up and then made the drive back home. It was super misty at that point so all of the fluorescent signs along the beach made it feel like we were in a film noir. Ultimately, it was such an inspiring day and made me feel really excited for the rest of the year!

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healthy plane snacks for your upcoming holiday travel

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With the holidays right around the corner, I know a lot of you are heading to the airport for flights home and are probably anticipating a ton of sweets and amazing holiday food when you arrive. Flying can be really hard on your body in so many ways, so it’s important to eat healthy when you’re on the plane. Your skin is already getting dehydrated and your immune system is really vulnerable, so it’s best to be mindful of what you’re eating mid-flight.

Here are a couple of easy ideas for healthy plane snacks that are TSA friendly!

avocado on rice crisps
Pack a sealed container with seeded crackers (I love the brand Mary’s Gone Crackers) and sliced avocado as a super healthy, savory snack.

fab four smoothie
Kelly Leveque had the best idea for an easy drink to take with you on the road. Fill a shaker bottle with two tablespoons of chia seeds and a packet of collagen powder. Once you get through security at the airport, order an unsweetened iced green tea from Starbucks and mix it all together!

bare apple chips
I love these apple chips for a travel snack because they’re sweet and chewy and a little bit crunchy.

dang coconut chips
Another good sweet snack that comes in nice little portions. There are a variety of flavors, but I just like the classic toasted coconut.

fresh fruit
This one is so easy, plus the clean up is simple. My favorite fruits to take on planes are bananas, apples, pears, and grapes because they’re not at all messy and they’re super filling.

roasted chickpeas
This is one of my favorite snacks whether I’m traveling or at home and it has so much protein. I pour a can of drained chickpeas on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes until they’re slightly crunchy. You can add all sorts of seasoning too! I like doing a simple salt and pepper or adding in a little paprika or Old Bay.

veggies + hummus
Fill up a little Tupperware container with sliced carrots and celery, maybe even some pita chips, and homemade hummus or you can pick up some at the airport if you forget!

popcorn
This is a wonderful plane snack because it feels indulgent, but it can be super easy. You can make a bag at home and bring it along but it’s probably easier to buy a bag in the terminal. I suggest Skinny Pop, Boom Chicka Pop, or Budda Bowl.

nut butter packets
Bring along some individual packets of peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter to eat by itself or spread onto fruit.

protein truffles
Make your own protein truffles to bring along as dessert. I recommend these, but there are so many variations to try out.

planning my trip to london + partnering with boden

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Happy Monday, everyone! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m partnering with Boden for the next three months to share their winter collections with you all. As a lover of British fashion, I’m a big fan of Boden and this collaboration actually comes at the perfect time since I’m currently planning a trip to London for the spring.

Since that’s the case, I thought it was only right that I order this London mug to celebrate! Tomorrow, I have a post scheduled to share the pieces I chose, courtesy of the Boden team, for this month but in the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit about how I’m planning my London trip.

I have a pretty long travel bucket list and a couple of locations that keep popping up in my mind over and over. With all of the hype around Harry & Meghan’s wedding this year, I got super excited about London again and decided that’d be where I go next! Since then, we’ve also added on a second location in Europe which will be really fun!

Okay, so you may already know that I’m a pretty obsessive planner so some of this might seem a little crazy to be doing so far out, but I swear it pays off!

travel planning tools

google maps
I’ve been using the ‘Your Maps’ feature, which is one of the best travel planning resources I’ve come across. You can basically pin all of the locations you’re interested in on your own custom map. One scenario where this is really helpful is for choosing restaurants. You pin every restaurant in the city that you’d like to visit, then when you’re out and about and get hungry, you check the map to see which is closest. You can also use the maps to help plan your itinerary.

google sheets
I use a multi-page Google sheet to organize our itinerary primarily because it’s accessible from all of my devices and for anyone I share it with. This just makes it easy to reference and edit the document whenever I need to. I plan a pretty tight itinerary because I like to have an idea of what I’m doing during the day, but I make sure to schedule time for spontaneity, which is kind of a funny concept but it works.

tripit app
This app is a great way to keep all of your important travel information organized. Right now, I only need the free version but will probably upgrade right before my trip. I’ve linked the app to my email so it stores my flight and hotel confirmations all in one place along with any ticket purchases. On the day of travel, the upgraded app will give you all sorts of updates from any flight changes to gate locations and even suggest when to leave your house based on airport traffic.

choosing where to stay

hotel versus airbnb
I debated between staying in a hotel or renting a flat through Airbnb or One Fine Stay. I’ve done both in the past and like them almost equally with hotels only coming out ahead by a little bit. After looking at the prices of flats in my desired area, I realized they were priced at or even sometimes above what a good hotel would cost, so I went with a hotel. In other cities, Airbnbs tend to be cheaper than hotels but that’s not the case in most areas of London, from my experience.

surrounding area
I wanted to be in a central area because this is my first trip to London, so I figured I’ll save the East End for another trip. I looked around Marylebone, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and so on, but really wanted to be in Mayfair, so that’s where I ended up booking. I’ll post more about the hotel in my post-trip blogs in the spring, but I’m excited about where we’re staying!

proximity to the tube
This is a big one no matter where I’m traveling. If there’s public transportation, I want to be as close as possible. The hotel we booked is like a three minute walk from the Tube and there’s a ton of cute things en route 😉

planning daily activities

planning for spontaneity
Like I mentioned above, I like to plan time for spontaneity. I make sure to have time in the schedule available to do things last minute I may not have thought of before and that time tends to be scheduled in the evening.

grouping by location
A great way to plan your itinerary is to group things by location, which is made super easy by using the custom map tool in Google Maps. I will typically pick a neighborhood or two for each day and schedule my itinerary around those locations. For instance, one day will start in Notting Hill, then flow through Kensington.

grouping by theme
A more unique, fun way to schedule that I considered was grouping by theme. For instance, I thought about doing themed days like history, royals, pretty things (art and cute cafes), and so on. For example, the history day would consist of visiting historical sites and even choosing restaurants with historical significance. I still think that’d be fun to do, but this trip will be scheduled by location.

what’s on my itinerary
I don’t wanna give too much away because it’ll all be covered in my posts after the trip, but one thing I’m really, really excited about is the fact that I’ll be there on my birthday and have already gotten tickets for the Harry Potter Studio tour that day and also plan on doing breakfast at Chiltern Firehouse.

packing + logistics

styling outfits ahead of time
It might seem weird to be planning my outfits six months in advance, but I swear it’s such a good idea because it gives you plenty of time to think of things you want/need that may not come to mind closer to the trip. I create little look books of the outfits I want to wear, then figure out what pieces I already have (the majority) and what things I need to buy before that time.

organizing practical items
I like to be organized really early on so that I don’t forget anything. A few months in advance, I like to get all of my travel related items together in one place. This includes my passport, converters, travel pouches, packing cubes, and so on. I round up all of these items and put them in a box labeled ‘travel’ so that I know where to find everything.

carry-on kit
I’ll talk about this in more detail later and include photos, but I like to start planning what I’ll take in my carry on so I have it ready to go. Typically I take a few beauty items like face mist and hand cream plus entertainment (books, podcasts), and some health items like snacks and a lifesaver kit with tea and vitamins.

Do you have any big trips coming up?