Journey with Purpose: Visit Thailand & Help End Child Sex Trafficking with ECPAT International


Hello fellow travelers!

I’m teaming up with ECPAT International with the mission of helping to end child sex trafficking in the travel industry. Today I’m coming to you all with an exciting new travel/volunteering opportunity for those of you looking to learn more about this issue and participate in a program that will not only allow you to visit one of my favorite countries in the world, but also provides great insights into the nature of child sex trafficking and support for the organizations looking to abolish it.

Thailand has always been one of my favorite destinations, but I’ve always been particularly bothered by the level of human trafficking, sex work and child sex work that I’ve encountered during my travels through Thailand and Southeast Asia in general. This is a huge part of the reason I’ve become involved with ECPAT International, whose core mission is predicated around ending child sex trafficking globally. I’m particularly excited to help ECPAT with their journey for good initiative, which combines two of my great passions: travel and providing meaningful, valuable opportunities for children and women around the world.

Read below for more information about this trip, and please click around! If you know of anyone who might be interested I highly encourage you to share this information with them; this is an amazing opportunity and a portion of the trip cost goes directly to benefit the organizations working to end child sex trafficking around the world.

 

Travel with a Philanthropic Twist
Explore the world and be a part of advocating against child trafficking and exploitation by signing up now for our next tour of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai!  ECPAT-USA has partnered with socially responsible tour operator AltruVistas to give travelers the trip of a lifetime. This is just the ticket for those who want a more meaningful travel experience while making the world a better place.
Check out a few highlights and the itinerary of our upcoming ECPAT Advocacy Journey (11/27-12/7) which is now open for registration. The 11-day journey is focused on giving participants a glimpse at how modern day travel is combating modern day slavery. We witnessed how emotionally powerful these tours can be, and it is a life-changing experience. You will have the opportunity to:
  • Visit Child Life, an NGO led by Kru Nam that provides direct intervention for children at risk in Maesai, Northern Thailand at the border with Myanmar. We’ll learn about intervention and prevention strategies being used in local communities to keep children safe.
  • Spend the day with the Mirror Foundation, an NGO run by Thai hill tribe staff that works to protect ethnic minorities. We’ll learn about the group’s anti-trafficking efforts and enjoy dinner and cultural dancing together.
  • Enjoy a meal at Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant, a social enterprise that promotes acceptance of family planning. We’ll get to talk to representatives from the International Labor Organization and to learn more about the overlap of labor trafficking and sexual exploitation involving children in Thailand.
  • Experience a variety of cultural excursions, such as visiting an elephant conservation center and touring the Grand Palace, temples, and local markets.
Are you ready to pack your bags for a life-altering journey to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai!? Sign up today and join us as we make this world a better place.
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One more way to get involved!
SOLD, starring Gillian Anderson and David Arquette, is a story of a girl who is trafficked from her village in Nepal to a brothel in Kolkata, India. Through the service TUGG, you can set up a showing of SOLD at your local theater, and turn it into a benefit for ECPAT-USA! Screening SOLD is a great way to raise awareness about the issue of trafficking and talk about what we can do to end it.  To get started and request a screening guide, email  Karli@ecpatusa.org 
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Please help create a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex. Your commitment enables us to give children freedom. Press the donate button on our home page www.ecpatusa.org Thank you for your support.

 

 

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Stockholm Bucket List II: Skansen, Vasa Museum and the Best Dinner Ever


After a gorgeously sunny and warm arrival in Stockholm we woke up to a very rainy Stockholm on our second day. Undeterred, we took advantage of the poor weather to tackle a few of the indoor activities we wanted to explore (and one outdoor activity that we couldn’t resist)!

We started our day slowly trying to work up the courage to venture out in the rain, with a specific rainy day plan in mind. Yesterday we stumbled upon a great little tea shop just as it closed and, as you all probably know, I love tea, so we put it at the top of the list for today.

True to our word, Chaikhana was our first stop today and boy, was it a good one! We ordered a cup of tea each (I got the Bai Mu Dan, a very delicate white peony tea) and I ordered the Indian Omelette, which came with a side of gluten free toast. The service was admittedly a little slow and would have been preferable later in the afternoon, when our day was coming to an end and we didn’t feel pressured to get moving. Still, the food and tea were worth the wait (the omelette was to die for) and I topped it off with an amazing gluten and dairy free cake.

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Chaikhana is located directly across from the German Church, so we popped in there quickly and took a peek around. The church itself is small but beautiful, and we snapped a few pictures before we had our fill and continued on to what we thought would be the primary activity for the day–the Vasa Museum. Due to a slight lack of prior research on my part, the Vasa Museum was not exactly what I thought it would be, but it was very interesting all the same. We learned about the history of this 17th century would-be warship, which ended up sinking approximately 1000 meters into its voyage and killing 30 people. We learned about the reclamation and restoration process and about the lives of passengers that had died during the journey, which I thought was the most interesting part. Life in Sweden during the 1600s is an area of history I’m admittedly clueless about, so it was interesting to get a better understanding of what that was like.

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We left the Vasa Museum around 4:30 and made the impulsive decision to visit Skansen, an open-air museum and zoo. Although I typically have reservations about zoos and their treatment of animals, Skansen actually surpassed my expectations tenfold and I was disappointed I didn’t get to spend more time there. We paid the entry fee of 180 SEK and went straight to the aquarium, which confusingly houses not only fish and reptiles but also open-air monkey exhibits, including lemurs (my personal favorite). There was an extra fee of 120 SEK, but it was well worth it.

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Photo credit: Photos by Ena

The rest of the museum was huge and we were stressed about the fact that it closed at 6:00 PM, but that was an unnecessary worry. Sweden is apparently an incredibly trusting country and Skansen, at least, seems to operate on the honesty policy. We walked at our leisure and weren’t kicked out promptly at 6:00, and saw others who continued to explore  until 6:30 at least. We felt compelled to leave at closing time, being the rule abiders that we are, but no one seemed too bothered that we spent a couple extra minutes looking at the Lynx exhibit or playing peek-a-boo with a cheeky seal.

Our exhausting day ended at a little local tapas-style restaurant called Matkonsulatet, where we had some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had. The restaurant itself was pricey by my broke millennial standards, but well worth every single krona! We sat at the bar and ordered a wine while we chit-chatted with the server–I started off with a rose champagne and informed him that I’m gluten free and not hugely fond of fish. The menu was in Swedish only but the staff spoke perfect English, so we asked him to just pick 5 of his favorite dishes for us (and were so hungry we ended up getting a sixth).

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Elise and I shared all of the dishes, starting with patatas bravas, a strawberry salad with balsamic and sheep’s milk cheese (amazing), pork belly with anchovy sauce (not as amazing), a cured beef dish, hangar steak and a pork side with parsnip chips and a parsnip puree (my personal favorite dish). We both topped off with a dessert–I got the chocolate mousse/fudge with olive oil and Elise got the vanilla/toffee version. We liked it so much that we went back again on our last day! I’ll be writing a blog post specifically about Matkonsulatet in the near future (and will link back here), so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Bucket list review:

Vasa Museum:

Activity Type: History & Culture, Museum

Price: 130 SEK for adults (~USD$15), 100 SEK students (~USD$11.75, we got in on student prices)

Value for Money: Moderate. The museum was very well thought out and interesting and worth a see, but like everything in Sweden  it’s fairly expensive. Best for history/naval buffs.

Suitable for: Everyone! Parts of this museum were definitely made with children in mind, and it made for a good rainy day activity.

Recommend: This wasn’t my favorite thing to do in Stockholm, but I definitely tend to lean in towards experiences instead of museums (i.e animal encounters, skydiving, etc), but for museum buffs this would be a nice activity. 

Skansen Open Air Museum:

Bucket List Traveler Info:

Activity Type: Zoo, Outdoor Adventure

Price: SEK 180 (~USD$21.22), Aquarium SEK 120 (USD$14 extra)

Value for Money: Moderate to high. I loved this museum and wished I’d made an entire day of it. That said, entry prices were steep and paying more to see the aquarium felt a little unfair, even if it was a very enjoyable exhibit. I’d pay it again, but I could see some people not enjoying it as much as I did.

Recommend: 100%! I really enjoyed this museum and love getting to spend time outdoors. Exhibits were large and animals looked mostly happy (even in the miserable rain), which is unusual for zoos. The history of Sweden was also explained in many interactive, open air exhibits, which was very interesting. 

Want to know more about Stockholm? 

Click here to read about eating, drinking and exploring Old Town Stockholm! 

 

Stockholm Bucket List I: Eating, Drinking & Exploring in Old Town


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Greetings from Stockholm! Our first day got off to a bit of a late start; our 9:10 flight from the UK had us getting into Sweden around 1:00 in the afternoon, which meant we didn’t get to our hotel until about 2:30/3:00. Public transportation in Sweden is actually incredibly easy and efficient; from the airport we took the Arlanda Express into the city center, which was a quick and comfy 20 minute ride. From there we hopped onto the subway and then connected to a tram, which brought us directly in front of our hotel. We checked in at the fabulous Motel L and were given access to our room immediately and were pleasantly surprised to see that it was cute, comfortable and fashionable.

I can’t recommend Motel L highly enough–the staff were very accommodating for a relatively budget hotel, the rooms were stylish, clean and very quiet. It was a little bit out of the city center, but public transportation made it an easy connection to get just about anywhere. Breakfast wasn’t included in our stay, but we could pay 90 SEK (about $9, typical in Stockholm) to get essentially an all-you-can-eat deal, which was well worth the money every time. I didn’t expect much from the breakfast based on the Tripadvisor reviews but personally found it to be exceptional; I was able to get gluten free bread and mini-pastries in abundance (the standard serving came with two rolls and either two slices of bread or two pastries depending on the day), which was more than enough to feed me (and probably a few other people, too).

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They also had a huge array of meats, a few cheeses, a selection of yogurts, granolas and cereals, fresh fruit and lots of different milk items, including oat milk (unexpectedly amazing), soymilk, lactose free milk and normal milk. There weren’t really any hot items, but I don’t see why you’d need a hot breakfast with choice like that!

We obviously didn’t arrive in time for breakfast on the first day, so we sought out a few local bites after freshening up and then headed to Old Town. It was a gloriously sunny day and we decided we’d spend it getting comfortably lost and wandering the streets. I was worried that Old Town would be insanely touristy, and in a lot of places it was–there was no lack of kitschy tourist shops selling standard tacky souvenirs– but we were shocked by how un-crowded it was.

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There were tons and tons of hidden gems in Old Town, including a few fantastic Swedish design shops (my personal favorite was Designfirman, pictured below), gorgeous old buildings and cobbled streets, a handful of trendy but moderately expensive gastropubs and restaurants and a few points of interest, including the German Church and the Riddarholmen Church, which is the oldest surviving building in Stockholm.

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13,000 steps later we were growing peckish and ready to sit down, but we were too early for the dinner reservation we’d tentatively made at the Flying Elk restaurant. We stopped into a cute, rustic looking spot called the Corner Club and were greeted by Oskar, a friendly barman who sat down with us and walked us through their cocktail menu. We ended up ordering three different types of cocktails between the two of us–the Milkman, Oh Canada, and Honey Dew You Know (all very cleverly named). The first drink we had was the Milkman, which was incredibly strong but had a very pleasant aftertaste.

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We decided to get some food in the pub instead of at the restaurant and were pleased to find that they actually shared a kitchen. I ordered the cheeseburger and fries and was excited to learn that it could be made with a gluten free bun even though it wasn’t noted on the menu. It was hands down the best burger I’ve ever eaten, even if it did come in at 204 SEK (about $20). Food in Stockholm is generally expensive (even by New York City standards), but every single expensive meal that we had was totally worth the price. I was worried about how well I’d be able to eat in the city with dietary restrictions, but I can happily report that there was no need to worry: the Swedish are very accommodating and gluten free substitutions usually come at no additional charge.

One of the other bartenders noted that she was also gluten free, so we shamelessly asked her for a list of restaurants she’d recommend that had gluten free options. Between herself and Oskar we were given a list of probably 10 places, including our definitive favorite restaurant in Sweden, Matkonsulatet, which I’ll write about in detail in my upcoming gluten free guide to eats and sleeps in Stockholm and also in my post about our day 2 adventures (link coming soon). We ended up not leaving Matkonsulatet until about 10:45 PM and were exhausted after our early morning flight and extensive wanderings, so we headed back to the hotel and cozied down into bed for an early-ish night.

Come back soon to:

Check out what we did on day 2 of our Stockholm adventure! Spoiler alert: it involves lemurs!

Coming soon: Can’t get enough of Stockholm? Click here to read about our day trip to the fabulous Drottningholm Palace!

Coming soon: Dietary restrictions? Take a look at my cohesive guide to gluten free eats and sleeps in Stockholm! (You won’t regret it!)

 

The British Bucket List: High Tea at The Savoy


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Going back to the U.K. has always felt a little bit like going home to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to live here a few years ago, and have since returned on an annual basis to visit friends and continue to build and reinforce my network of people in the area. Even though I find the U.K. incredibly comfortable, I always try and push myself to see or do one new thing that I haven’t done in the past.

This year’s trip saw me booking high tea at the very luxurious Savoy hotel with a good friend. High tea costs approximately £50-£53 per person without alcohol, and boy was it worth it! We arrived to London from Canterbury by train and got in a good deal earlier than our reservation, which was set for 1:15 PM. This gave us plenty of time to explore the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens while we waited, basking in the (rare) British summer sun.

When it came time for our reservation we entered the lavishly decorated building, which was incredibly ornately decorated. Fresh flowers, attentive staff and impeccable interior design completed the image of sophistication, and it was an immediately calming atmosphere. We were able to really sit down and enjoy ourselves, mulling over the tea menu (boasting more than 30 flavors of tea) while deciding on whether we preferred a savory service to a pastry service. Our waiter was attentive but reserved, which was the perfect combination.

SAVOY TEA 2 PHOTO CREDIT

Photo Credit: Kiwi Collection

When booking the tea I’d requested a gluten free tea service, and was informed upon arrival that my food had been prepared in advance and would be ready whenever I wanted it. I believe that those who didn’t request a gluten free service can still get one, but that the gluten free option will typically take longer to come out than the standard option if it hasn’t been pre-ordered.

I ordered the rose and peony white tea before choosing the Afternoon Tea option, which included finger sandwiches, fresh scones, a course of pastries and then a dessert option. Emily ordered the alternative menu, which substituted pastries for an asparagus, crayfish and egg dish. Our first course came out quickly and Emily, being my guide for all things British for the day, politely informed me that it was customary to taste each sandwich so as to avoid being rude. I was only too happy to oblige, and eagerly enjoyed the ham and cheese, the coronation chicken, the egg and mayonnaise and the tomato sandwich. Apprehensively I tried the smoked salmon–I’ve never been big on fish–but it was absolutely lovely as well, and I ended up eating the whole thing.

The courses rolled out as we requested them and each one was better than the last. By the time we were finished we were uncomfortably full but incredibly satisfied, and spent a pleasant half hour chit-chatting in the beautifully adorned tea room. We settled the check promptly before venturing out to explore the little shop just outside the tea room, where Emily purchased a packet of the tea that she’d enjoyed during our meal. Taking our afternoon tea at the Savoy was an absolute treat, and one I’d recommend for anyone looking for a taste of British culture and refinement at it’s very best.

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Photo Credit: Visit London

Bucket List Traveler Info:

Activity Type: Food & Beverage

Price: $50-53 without alcohol

Value for Money: Variable/high: I personally felt like this was incredibly worthwhile, but for people who are less interested in food/beverage and prefer something a little more active and a little less refined it may be less enjoyable. 

Suitable for: Everyone! May not be great for young kids.

Recommend: 100%! I loved the tea service here and it was a great experience. I’d love to come back for another special occasion.

Extras: Photography is mildly frowned upon, so most of my photos came from a stock source.

 

 

Northern Europe!


Hi guys!

After a long hiatus involving a move to NYC and a bit of an adjustment period after, I finally have a new trip coming up! I’ll be crossing more items off my bucket list in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it. I’ll be expanding some of my content into the territory of restaurant reviews and will hopefully be getting a few new city guides together, so be on the lookout for those! I can’t wait to tell (and show!) you guys all about it!

-Natalie

Bucket List Adventure: Stand-up Paddle Boarding in Colorado!


Last month I turned 24, and in the spirit of trying new things every year, I decided I wanted to do something exciting that I’ve never done before. I had tons of adventures in my 23rd year of life–skydiving, hiking, zorbing, exploring movie sets, playing with tigers, communing with elephants, volunteering in Thailand and getting an up-close and personal introduction to Australian wildlife–and while I know that this year is going to be a little less exotic, I still want to do things that push me as a person, mentally and physically. Just because I’m not actively traveling at the moment doesn’t mean that my life can’t still be exciting and full of new adventures, and I’m determined to keep finding activities that will challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone.

It didn’t take long for me to decide what my first adventure as a 24 year old would be: stand-up paddle boarding or SUP, for short. As a birthday present to myself, I bought a GoPro and decided to christen it on the day trip to Bear Creek Lake Park, which is about 35 minutes outside of Denver.  My friend Erica was visiting from Massachusetts, so we headed out to the park in the early afternoon. Paddle board rentals are a little bit steeply priced there–$20 per hour–but the surroundings were gorgeous and our wait time wasn’t outrageously long. It was a Saturday, so it was slightly more crowded than it would probably be on a weekday, but the lake didn’t feel like it was absolutely overrun with people, which was a definite bonus!

Actually finding the little lake where you rent the paddle boards can be a little bit tricky, but we figured it out after a few minutes and then went to the boat rental building and put our names in. The wait was about 20 minutes, which was slightly inconvenient but did give us time to reapply sunscreen and let it soak in before we headed out into the extra-strong Colorado sunshine! When we finally got the boards we were a little bit nervous about actually using them; loads of people around us were taking lessons, but we hadn’t bothered with that and were just winging it.

To my surprise, stand-up paddle boarding is crazy easy! It takes a little while to figure out what strokes will push you in which direction, but the learning curve is pretty gentle and before long we were able to get ourselves moving, turning around, etc. We had tons of fun exploring the little lake and I think that this activity would be SUPER fun to do on a lazy river, especially while traveling. I’m definitely going to be seeking out SUP when I’m traveling in the future–I’d love to do it in Southeast Asia or in Hawaii! If you’re interested in trying SUP around the world, I’m going to include a few links to articles below that will give you a little bit more information on key destinations. If you’re not sure you want to try it on vacation, I highly recommend trying to find places near your house to do it–state parks often also offer it, so be sure to do a quick google search for SUP locations near you!

The Travel Channel: World’s Best Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Spots

Outside Magazine: North America’s 10 Best Beginner SUP Spots

The Clymb: The World’s Best Places to Stand-Up Paddle Board

Bucket List Traveler Info:

Activity Type: Adventure

Price: $20/hr

Value for Money: Average. There are other places where you can rent boards for $12 an hour instead of $20, and I’d say thats a much better value. 

Suitable for: Everyone! It doesn’t require much skill, and if you’re really nervous you can always take a lesson.

Recommend: 100%! Its so much fun and I can’t wait to do it again.

Extras: All photos in this article taken with a GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition.

Custom Travel Itineraries


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Good morning readers! I’m very excited to announce that I’m going to start planning custom travel itineraries for people for a nominal fee. My goal is to create reasonably priced, customized, personalized travel itineraries, tailored specifically to your interests and needs and to your likes and dislikes. Like a guidebook, only written especially for you!

I can help plan trips of any length, and charge depending on the length of trip I’m commissioned to plan. The pay scale runs according to length of trip and level of detail desired for the itinerary. Here’s a brief rundown of what is and is not included:

Whats included:

  • A personalized day-by-day travel itinerary that’s tailored to meet your needs an interests.
  • Information on all applicable transportation and transfers needs.
  • Tips for how to get the best deal on a flight or the cheapest/most comfortable/fastest way to get from one destination to another!
  • Potential day trips from your immediate area.
  • Hotel and restaurant suggestions based on your budget, your interests and your expressed preferences.
  • Suggestions or cultural things you should be aware of, if any are relevant to your destination.
  • Alternate ideas and mainstream activities that are worth a look, no matter what your interests are.

Whats not included:

  • Bookings—itineraries only provide suggestions, its up to you to select and book your favorites!
  • Reserving activities—again, this is up to you! Most international activities can be reserved via email.

What I’ll need from you:

  • After a brief e-mail correspondence indicating the length and destination of your trip, I’ll send you a survey to get a better idea of your needs, wants, interests and budget, in addition to number of people anticipated to attend and any other personal information that I’ll need—whether or not you have food allergies, children, are a handicapped vacationer, whether you have strong fears or phobias, etc. On the flip side, its great to know what you’re not hugely interested in doing—if you’re more of a hiker than a museum-goer, please write this on your survey, too! This will give me the opportunity to learn more about what you specifically might find interesting (or awful), and to plan accordingly! The more detailed you are about your wants and needs, the better job I can do planning for you, so feel free to give me as much information as you want!

If you’re interested, please visit my PAGE (CLICK HERE) for more information, or e-mail nsteinberg13@gmail.com if you’d like to request a sample itinerary. I’ll be giving away fifteen custom itineraries for free, and all I ask is that, if you like my work, you give me a positive review on Etsy. Currently, I still have 15/15 free itineraries to give, so e-mail if you’d like to receive one!

Bucket List Idea: Taking a Class at Canvas and Cocktails!


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Sometimes, when I’m not traveling, I start to feel like my day to day life is really, really boring. I tend to fall into a routine, either with work or school, and maybe going out for food or drinks, usually to the same places. Recently, though, I’ve been wanting to branch out more and to try and make my home life a little bit more like my life abroad! Colorado has a ton of great activities, most of which are pretty affordably priced, and I think its high time I started taking advantage of them.

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Last Christmas, my sister gave my mom and I tickets to Canvas and Cocktails, which has various installments around the country (Painting and Sipping, Canvas and Corkscrews are a few others, to name a few! Doing a quick google search is probably the easiest and fastest way to find a similar venue near you). I was a little bit nervous about it at first–I have the artistic ability of a rock, when it comes to things like painting and drawing–and didn’t think I was going to have what it took to paint some of these paintings. A lot of them looked pretty complex, even though the one that we chose was relatively simple.

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We were able to look online at a calendar of classes, which included the painting that was going to be recreated during that session. The piece that we chose was multi-media, a painting of an umbrella, a lamppost and rain on a backdrop of books pages, which we got to choose for ourselves. When we arrived at the studio we were greeted and checked in by the lovely ladies at the desk, who were all very friendly and chatty. We paid and were shown to our easels, given a brief tour of what we’d need to get started (paints, aprons, complimentary drink).

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I picked up my gear and grabbed a mimosa, then took a few glamour shots to get prepared for the class! Our studio has a super-cool raffle drawing for a free class, which you get entries for by checking in or sharing photos on various forms of social media. I checked in on Facebook (with a photo), checked in/tagged myself on Instagram and shared my Instagram check-in to Twitter, and got 4 entries for the raffle!

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We began by picking out the book pages for the background of our painting, and I choose all dictionary pages, particularly ones with animals on them. Our super-friendly instructor taught us how to apply them to the canvas, then turned us loose for about 15 minutes so we could work independently. After 15-20 minutes we began to mix our other colors and worked on our paintings, and were given breaks every once in a while to let the paint dry and to keep us from over-fixating on the paintings. The instruction was basic but effective, and our leader made sure to come around and check everyone’s work individually and correct things if they were going way off-base.

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When our painting were nearing completion our instructor drew names for the raffle, and I ended up winning, which is SO exciting! I never win anything, like seriously never win anything ever, so it was doubly exciting for that. I finished up painting and perused the store, coming out with a scarf and a super cute necklace, both of which were 20% off. We were allowed to finish at our own pace and check out the store, which is great for slower painters. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something fun and different to do, and I cannot wait to go again with my free class!

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Bucket List Traveler Info:

Activity Type: Class, art.

Price: $35, includes a free drink. 

Value for Money: Above average! The whole experience is super fun and you’ll have a pretty piece of art to bring home at the end of the day. Totally worth it.  

Suitable for: Everyone! I have exactly zero talent when it comes to art, and even I managed to produce something pretty. I also saw kids there, and families–no alcohol if you’re under 21 or don’t have an I.D, but you can definitely still join the fun!

Recommend: Absolutely! I cant wait to do it again. 

Pack With Me! Carry-on Edition


Hello friends!

I know its been a while since I’ve posted anything, but its been a really busy couple of months, what with the holidays and getting settled into my new job. Anyway, I forgot to share with you guys that I’ve booked a trip back to my beloved second home, the United Kingdom, for two and a half weeks! My dream is to expatriate the the UK entirely, but in the meantime I’m taking baby steps, exploring graduate school options and using the resources at my former university to see if they can help me out any.

I’ve got about two and a half weeks in the UK, though, and not all of its going to be hard work! I’m so excited to revisit some of my favorite sites and people, in addition to hopefully meeting some fantastic new people and seeing some amazing places I haven’t been yet! On this trip I am absolutely determined to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour and see Stonehenge, so prepare yourselves for posts about these two legendary attractions! I’d also like to do a few review posts about places I’ve eaten and visited and the like, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, though, I’m currently knee deep in packing, so I figured I’d write up a quick post to show you guys exactly how I pack! Unfortunately I didn’t think about this before I started packing my primary bag, which in my opinion is a bit boring anyway, so I’m going to do an upgraded-fun version: the carry on. This is only a quick trip, so I’ve invested in a lovely black faux leather day bag from H&M, which you can find on their website HERE. So far it looks great; it closes with a drawstring and a snap, is big enough to hold my laptop and all the other goodies I’ll put inside of it. Added bonus: it doesn’t look like its going to fall apart immediately, which is, of course, probably the most important part.

So what do I keep on me for an overseas flight? First and foremost I bring my laptop, pre-loaded with work I optimistically want to get done during my flight. My laptop is definitely the foundation of the bag and always goes in first, as it’s pretty difficult to squeeze it in there with all my other things in the way.

I sort out my cosmetics or body products into two piles before I go: dry products and liquids. Although I know its best for my skin to go naked during flights (face only, thanks, I’m not the resident inappropriately dressed person sat next to you on the plane), but oftentimes I’ll want to have at least a halfway decent looking face on during my time in the airport and during layovers, so I keep my look super simple and skin refreshing. Currently, I’m going to be using my daily skin-clearing products, which will have their own little bag, then build with a non-comedogenic facial moisturizer, the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (added benefit of being SPF 20!) in Nude, the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer in .05, a spot of blush (Covergirl, nothing exciting!), a swipe of the Bareminerals eyeshadow in a light color that suits my skin tone,  and the Covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara. Nearly all of those products are clickable, so if you want to learn more about a product feel free to click the link and check it out! I’ll write a related post about my airport and in-flight look, so keep an eye out for that!

I like to separate out all my skincare products beforehand, sorting them into wet and dry. In addition to the makeup I have on my face (and extras for pre-landing reapplication!), I also keep makeup removing/skin refreshing wipes, Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Toner, some Q-Tips and cotton balls and a travel size of baby powder, to keep my hair from getting too greasy during my flight. I also keep a little gaggle of bobby pins, a bun shaper (for a quick, sleek look!), a clip, a few hair elastics and a brush in a little bag with me. I never wear perfume on a flight because yuck, no one wants to smell you for that long! But I do always keep some deodorant on me to stay fresh. I also like to keep a toothbrush and toothpaste mini, in addition to a mouthguard because I always fall asleep! Keeping a super-hydrating lip balm on hand is my favorite personal bonus!

I always find flights to be crazy cold, so I like to layer up! In the bottom of my bag I always keep an extra sweater and a pair of super-cozy socks, fluffy or wool. A scarf is imperative, and eye-shades are definitely an added bonus. I dont take a neck pillow with me because I think they’re bulky, dumb and they help me approximately zero with regards to comfort, so that saves me a lot of space and hassle!

The most important part of packing my carry on, though, definitely has to be snacks. As most of you know I’m gluten-free, but I always forget to book my gluten free meal (one day I’ll learn. Maybe). So bringing snacks is crazy important to me. I like to make sure I have enough to keep me going throughout the flight, which honestly means bringing a lot of everything and making sure I have something for breakfast the next morning. I’ve been on a massive dates kick lately, so they’re a new addition to the team. Other things in my little lunch bag include caffeine free/herbal tea, green tea, multivitamins/fish oil to keep up my immune system, melatonin if I need to get adjusted to the timezone and fear I won’t be able to sleep, two Kind granola bars, three Trader Joes Organic String Cheeses, a packet of dates, carrots, two pressed fruit bars, some mints and an empty water bottle. Its mega important to stay hydrated on a flight, so I always bring a big one and top it up just before my flight.

Pro tip: Make sure you always bring your daily medications in your carry on with you; you never know if you’ll lose a bag or get massively delayed, and being without your medication can be a huge pain. I personally also bring my glasses in my carry on, in addition to an empty contacts case, some solution and a spare pack of contacts.

As far as technology goes, I’ve already mentioned my laptop. I also make sure that I bring my charger and adaptor with me, and if I’m going on a really long trip I’ll bring an external hard drive, which can be great for storing TV shows and movies on! I also make sure I bring my phone and headphones, ensuring that my handy dandy Iphone is updated with great new music and some relaxed playlists for the flight. I also remember to bring a charger and a top-up battery stick, when I’ve got one! A recent addition to my technology regimen is my Fitbit Flex, although I’d really, really love a Charge or a One with a cute little carrying case! I find the wristband to be increasingly irritating, so I’d love to have some better way of carrying it around. If you know anything please give a shout in the comments! I’d love to hear tips or your favorite products.

Last but not least I bring my passport, even if its a domestic flight (you never know what could happen!), my flight documents if necessary, and my wallet, equipped with cash card, credit card and backup credit and cash cards, if I’ve got them. Doubling up on your cards can be an absolute lifesaver, so I’d highly recommend it!

So yeah! That’s everything I keep in my bag with me. I might be a bit of an over-packer, but I’m rarely uncomfortable on a flight and always make sure I have my basics down. What’s in your bag? Tell me your personal favorite, cant-fly-without products or items in the comments below!

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