Since going on our European honeymoon last August, my inbox has been overflowing with travel questions. Y'all are seriously the cutest with the questions you come to me with and it brightens my day to know that y'all trust in me. I've answered so many of them personally but I wanted to take some time to answer some of the most recent ones on a blog post! Even though I plan on doing about two more parts to this Q+A, I wanted to get this puppy up and running. Let's dive in, shall we?
Drew asked: My fiance and I are going to Italy for our honeymoon and we want to see the smaller towns outside of Milan, Lake Como, Florence, and Rome. What cities would you suggest? Any Italian phrases we should know?
Italy has my heart in every way you can imagine! Really take the time to explore those bigger cities. I would count Lake Como as one of the smaller towns outside of Milan, and if anything, I would spend less time in Milan and way more time in Lake Como! As for Florence (my heart and soul TBH), spend time within the cities but be smart; there are tourist traps at every corner. For major attractions, get in line first thing in the morning so you aren't waiting in the sweltering sun with 500 hundred other people while you get to the top of the Duomo. Explore the opposite side of the river around Santo Spirito and Palazzo Pitti. There are copious amount of art galleries, wine shops, and mom and pop vintage stores that beg to be explored! As for the small towns around Florence, my personal favorite is San Gimignano. This medieval town is famous for it's wineries, architecture, and is infamous for being a hotspot for torture back in the medieval times. Go visit Tenuta Torciano, the best winery in town owned by a precious Italian family, and taste the wines while you roam the grounds. When in Rome, spend as little time as you can in the city center (except for an after hours tour of the Vatican. Expensive, but so so worth it) and opt for the opposite side of the river in Trastevere. Trastevere is the local part of Rome and arguably the trendiest. It is so quiet and laid back during the day, zero tourists in sight! But at night, the place comes alive with locals dancing in the street to classic Italian folk music, twirling each other under string lights and sitting on the steps of fountains as they sip sparkling wine. Wine bars under hanging gardens boast amazing house wine and light bites so you can sit and stay for hours. Pure. Magic.
As for Italian phrases, a few basic words will get you far. You can order anything from a coffee to a full meal to telling the taxi driver where you want to go by starting a sentence with "vorrei," pronounced vor-RAY. It means "I would like." So to order a coffee you would say, "vorrei un caffe per favore" or you can tell your taxi, "Vorrei andare Piazzale Michelangelo" (andare, pronounced awn-dar-AY, means "to go"). This will get you so far, and so many restaurants, cafes, and bars will appreciate that you know this polite everyday phrase.
Melissa asked: My boyfriend and I want to go to Kotor but worry there isn't enough to do in a week. Would you agree?
I absolutely adore Kotor and everything it has to offer (seriously, I freakin' love this place), but that being said, the place is small and is just now being picked up by the tourism circuit meaning there aren't a plethora of museums to choose from to kill time in. What Montenegro does have are gorgeous beaches, killer hiking, and amazing food and wine. Hayes and I both agree that Kotor is a favorite city of ours and we would go back for longer in a heartbeat but days here are slow and we need to appreciate that. Spend your days hiking the walls of the city, kayaking up the Bay of Kotor, getting lost in the streets, exploring the beer gardens, and of course, petting the cats. Enjoy!
Anonymous asked: I can't afford international travel. What are some places to explore in the US that won't cost a fortune?
Everybody thinks travel has to require a passport but it just isn't true! Some of my most favorite trips have been within the continuous 48 states and I wouldn't trade them for anything! Some of my favorite US cities include: New Orleans, Charleston, Seattle, Oxford (don't knock Mississippi until you see it for yourself. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised at the least), Santa Barbara, Nashville, New York (a little bit more expensive but an experience worth the pretty penny), and Chicago! You also don't always have to fly. Trains, buses, and road trips may not be as glam, but they can definitely keep your wallet happy.
Elizabeth asked: What kind of luggage do you carry when you're bouncing between multiple cities?
I have a few favorites! As many of you know, I am obsessed with Veeshee, a customizable bag company. They carry a bag called the Weekender which is my absolute go-to. I have two, and my husband loves mine so much that I got him one for Christmas. They run about $200 and are totally customizable and come in like two weeks which is totally unheard of for a personalized bag. They are light, have a cross body and shoulder strap, and lots of good pockets for organized storage. Besides Veeshee, I also love any small hard luggage that has swivel wheels. It makes it so much easier to maneuver through those city streets.
Jane asked: I don't like taking a lot of makeup and self-care products while traveling. What are your essentials?
Anything with multiple uses and super hydrating. For my skin, I am currently coveting Tula's Illuminating Serum and their foaming cleanser. I also don't leave for an overnight trip without Patchology's Cloud Masque night cream. For my makeup, I try to keep it simple. I love BareMinerals CC Cream, Too Faced Brow Quickie, Bite Beauty multistick for eyes, cheeks, and lips in Lotus, and Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (I've linked the mini because I find that the full size dries out too quickly. Plus, it's only $12 and fits in any travel bag or carry on. Major win). Another cutesy little trick I love for those extra light packing trips are Minimergency kits. These teeny little makeup kits are under $20 and carry everything from breath mints, to deodorant, to needle and thread, to tampons, pain relievers, earring backs, and much much more. Did I mention they can fit in your pocket? Shop for your perfect kit here.
Gabriela asked: I am interested in studying abroad but I don't know where to go. How did you pick Italy?
Me and my real life besties/blog besties/study abroad roomies, Holland and Hunter. These cutie babes are also big time bloggers and you have to check them out! Here we are in Capri just a little bit wine drunk and living our absolute best lives.
Ooooh wow. This weekend. More like THE weekend. RIP to us. We went HAM in Croatia at Ultra Music Festival. Best weekend I never ever ever ever ever want to relive in my life. Would maybe do it again, though. LOL.
Oh Gabriela, honey. You've got me talking about Italy and now I'll never be able to stop! But first, let's talk about how you pick where you want to go. It all depends on what you are studying. I chose Italy because Italian language was my minor so it was an easy pick. But if you aren't studying a language, you have a bit more freedom to pick and choose. School is first and foremost so talk to your academic advisor about programs that align with your coursework and that will be compatible with your school credits. Many of my friends who studied abroad in Italy with me took, and I sh** you not, wine tasting classes. Some of them even got them counted as course credits because they were in hospitality or culinary schools. Others were simply ahead of the curve and needed elective courses to fill up empty credits. Work that system, boo!
But in my humble opinion, I think studying abroad in places such as Barcelona, Edinburgh, Florence, Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Rome give you the most advantage because you get the three most important things: good universities, excellent cultural experiences, and partying (don't tell your parents the last part but it is v important, gals).
Mary asked: What is the most valuable lesson travel has taught you?
Travel has taught me so much. It has taught me to not be afraid of other people and cultures but to embrace them with open arms. I've learned that traveling alone in Italy is where you find yourself. I've learned that you can never form an educated opinion on Morocco until you've been there. I've learned to always strike up a conversation with the person next to you at the bar in Mexico. I've learned that saying a cautious but optimistic YES to everything in Amsterdam is far more rewarding than a concerned NO. I've learned that drinking a pint alone in Edinburgh is way more fun than you could ever imagine. All in all: say yes to experiences, welcome people with open arms, and when in doubt go alone.