Over the years, Ben & I have grown to truly love living in Richmond. One of the great perks is how close it is to D.C.! This time, in an effort to avoid city traffic & paying for parking, we drove to the end of the blue line at Franconia-Springfield, parked our car there for free, & then rode the metro into the city. If you are entering the city from Virginia, I would highly recommend this trick.
Anyways, we went to D.C. to meet up with Ben’s parents who happened to be in town for work. It’s always great to be able to spend time with family seeing as though none of our family lives in VA (but I’m really pushing for at least some of my family to move out here someday…). We walked along the mall, ate tasty street food, & just got to sit & catch up which is always so refreshing.
After we ate lunch, we walked through stunning floral gardens. We saw roses of every color imaginable. Basically I was in heaven. I wish I had taken more pictures of all the colors, but of course I was drawn to all of the pinks! They were all so lovely & fragrant & effortlessly whimsical & I could have stayed there all day long. But after a long walk in the garden, we made our way over to an area of the city I had never been to…
This area of the city has been so well designed. It’s right on the water & is full of amazing restaurants, cafés, shops, & more. They even had a large bonfire for people to make s’mores at. The thing I loved most about this area though, was how visually pleasing they had made it. It was clean & has fresh pots of gorgeous flowers around every corner. Those little details mean so much & made our experience so delightful. I definitely cannot wait to go back again soon.
For me, planning is definitely something that comes pretty naturally. It allows me to dream big & really get excited about events in the future. Planning a trip, especially one in another country, was something completely new to me a couple of years ago. However daunting it seemed at the time, all it takes is biting the bullet & following these easy travel planning tips for a dreamy vacation full of fun activities & amazing outfits.
Tip 1: Create A Mood Board
This step, though multi-faceted, may be the most important step in planning a great trip. First, get on Pinterest & start researching travel bloggers who have visited your desired destination. Chances are, if you want to travel there, they have been there too, so why not learn from them? Search for great places to eat, the most “Instagrammable” spots, & things to do. Get out a pen & paper & start making lists of places & ideas that look interesting to you. Pin inspiring photos from these blogs on your destination mood board to look back on & get pumped!
I’m not going to Greece, but here is an example of what my mood board for my imaginary trip to Greece looks like…
Tip 2: Find Your Color Palette
Note my mood board above. See the blues, white, & natural tan colors that stand out? This will now become my color palette when planning my travel outfits. I touched on this in my most recent Q&A, but one of the best ways to avoid over packing on a trip is to stick with a color palette. This makes mixing & matching a breezy so that you can create several outfits from only a few key pieces. I love dressing in the colors of the places I’m going. It makes me feel like I belong to wherever my travel destination may be. You can see outfits & accessories for my pretend trip to Greece in these photos.
I never like to over book my trips, but I find that if I have something booked & planned for at least every other day, it really helps to create a schedule. Any famous restaurant? Make a reservation, even if it’s for lunch! Book a boat ride, a tour, a cooking class, a hike, or something fun & exciting that is unique to the location you’re visiting.
Tip 4: Research & Plan Some Logistics
Some important things to research before any trip are housing & transportation. Lots of blogs have recommendations as to where to stay, which can be helpful. Something you might want to consider if you’re looking to save a little bit of money is staying just outside the city. We did this in Italy & in Paris & totally loved it. It was nice to have a bit of quiet & calm in the evenings to decompress from the day.
As far as transportation goes, do your research to see whether people recommend using public transportation or car rentals. If you’re thinking about renting a car, don’t forget to take parking fees & even finding parking into consideration. In Paris, we walked & then took the water bus down the river! While we were in Positano, we walked & took the bus up & down the mountain. The point is, every city is different, & most blogs will give good recommendations on these matters.
Tip 5: Study!
Remember that list you made of all the restaurants & places you wanted to visit? Now it’s time to mark all of them on the maps in your phone. Save each location & take a bit of time to study the map. Become familiar with some of the main roads & try to map out how your days will go. This will help so much when you arrive in a city you’ve never been to before.
If the country you are visiting has a native language other than your own, try setting some goals on Duolingo to brush up on, or learn a little bit of the language. Even just knowing the basics will go a long way.
Whenever I travel somewhere new, I like to document the things I saw, the things I love, the places I recommend going, etc. This spring, someone recommended to me that I should document those same things about the city I call home, Richmond, VA. What a great idea?! So today I’m sharing my 48 hours in Richmond guide. Get ready for a weekend of all of my favorite things in this amazing city.
Where To Stay
I recommend staying at the loveliest hotel in RVA, the Quirk Hotel. It’s located downtown & has a beautiful aesthetic with pink as their primary color. The lobby has incredible high arched ceilings & beautiful furnishings including their iconic pink velvet couch.
Grab A Quick Snack
After arriving in Richmond after your trip, I would stop by Lift Coffee Shop & Cafe for a quick bite to eat. They have great coffee & sandwiches, but my favorite thing to order is their peanut butter & banana smoothie. I typically don’t go for this kind of smoothie, but their’s is just so good. Richmond is also know for it’s many murals & Lift has a very fitting mural of a pair of wings right outside, perfect for a good photo opt.
Check Out The Neighborhood
Next, you might want to stretch your legs a bit & take a stroll around the neighborhood. Right down the street from the hotel, are a few really cute shops you could visit. Mod & Soul has some really cool, very Richmond style pieces including clothes, candles, little bits & bobs all at affordable prices. Then right next door is the dreamiest little store called Verdalina, which has stunning garments, accessories, & beauty products that are super high quality at a more luxury price. Perfect to find a great keepsake to remember your trip by.
If these shops are a bit too feminine if you’re traveling with mixed company, there is a great little bookstore across the street, a men’s store called Ledbury, & a great ice cream shop called Charm School.
In The Evening
Richmond is such a foodie city, & there are countless amazing restaurants available for you to try. (see my full favorites list below) One of my very favorite restaurants downtown would have to be Wong Gonzalez. This is an Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant that just gets it so right. For appetizers, I love the tequila shrimp & the fiesta bites & my go-to entree is the Gonzi’s Stir Fry Skillet. Ben also really loves the Asian BBQ Pork Tacos. Fun fact: there is a special events room upstairs called Beauty & Grace, & there is a life-size picture of me on the wall!
Don’t let the fun stop after dinner! Grab a fun cocktail either at Quirk’s scenic rooftop bar or head over to Switch, Richmond’s newest pop-up bar. This place is so cool because it completely changes themes every 6-8 weeks. When I went recently, the top floor was Alice & Wonderland themed & then once you “go down the rabbit hole”, the downstairs took you back in time to the 90s. They have delicious specialty cocktails that carry out the theme of the room you’re in. A super cool spot & you never know what you’re gonna walk into.
Time For Breakfast
My all time favorite spot for breakfast in this city is Can Can Brasserie. When our families come into town, they cannot go home without a visit to Can Can because of it’s authentic Parisian atmosphere. When you walk inside, you truly feel like you could be in Paris! I love going during their coffee house hours for delicious pastries & amazing coffee.
After breakfast, I recommend taking a stroll down Carytown. This is a favorite spot to visit in Richmond because of it’s cute shops & restaurants. Some of my favorite shops in Carytown include, Mongrel – the perfect place to find a gift for ANYONE!, Bygones – a vintage store with fabulous dresses & accessories (you’ll want everything!), Sugar + Twine – a great spot for a mid-day coffee pick me up (don’t leave without trying their cheddar biscuits!), Creme de la Creme – they have beautiful dishes, candles, party goods, & home decor that are all swoon worthy, & Ginger Thai – my favorite Thai food in the city.
Next, Choose An Afternoon Activity
Head over to the Museum District & check out the Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts. This museum is really top notch with incredible exhibits inside, a great cafe, & stunning gardens outside. One of my favorite spots to come to get inspired & feel that sense of awe when looking at truly magnificent art.
After going through the museum, take a bit of time to stroll down the streets in the Fan District. The houses are so quaint & colorful & each have their own unique personality.
Visit Maymont Park! This is one of my favorite locations for photoshoots because you truly feel like you are not in the city anymore. The gardens & the landscaping are just incredible. Walk through the Italian gardens, then through the Japanese gardens & find yourself perfectly at peace in this tranquil space. If the weather is nice, pack a lunch & have a picnic under the huge trees or inside one of the many gazebos on site.
Eat dinner in The Fan tonight. Try Kuba Kuba for amazing Cuban style food (Everyone here loves that place! Don’t forget to try their fried plantains!), or Beauvine Burger Concept for a fun atmosphere, great burgers, & I highly recommend their frosé which has elderflower liquor in it.
If you are a cake lover, or even a wine lover, you should go to Shyndigz. This place sells the best cake in the city & you can order it by the slice! Such a cute spot & very Instagram worthy.
Let’s head in a different direction this time & go to Hot Diggity Donuts. This place is small but the service is great & the donuts are made right in front of you when you order them. They are served hot & every single flavor is a win! I recommend trying their cappuccinos as well. They are perfectly petite as they should be.
One Last Thing
Before heading back home, you cannot leave the River City without visiting the James River! I suggest heading towards Brown’s Island & explore the area by this majestic river. There is also a bridge you can walk across the entire river, or at least half-way to get a great photo.
We are throwing it back to our honeymoon in Italy with these photos. We spent 2 full days on the beach eating pizza, swimming, & most of all, people watching. While lounging in total bliss, there are a few items in my beach bag that I found particularly useful. These things were easy to pack & made transitions before & after the beach a breeze.
For sunscreen, I like to use at least SPF 50 on my body, but on my face, I use my Coola Makeup Setting Spray with SPF 30. I’ve used this for years! It’s perfect to use & reapply whether you have makeup on or not. Also, on long days out in the sun, it’s so important to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, so have a large bottle on hand.
Going on a trip with the man you now call your husband just days after your whirlwind of a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience. Whether you’re traveling near or far, these newlywed days spent alone in a new place are moments you’ll treasure forever. Last summer, my husband & I got married in Maine (see more here) & then had a straight up magical honeymoon in Italy (see more here). I look at our honeymoon pictures almost as much as I look at our wedding photos! Because of this fact, I thought I’d share with you my honeymoon packing guide to make the most of your memories & capture photos you’ll love looking back on for years to come.
Looking back on my trip, a few items stand out as must-haves in the category of memory making. First, I highly recommend you bring travel sized candles, or at least one. We brought two, one for each city we stayed in & burned them in the evenings before bed. We brought them home to savor as sweet memories because the scents take us right back to our Italian honeymoon. Another great thing we brought was a polaroid camera! We made a point to take 2-3 photos a day & somehow, these photos are the most special to us. They are not to post, they are only ours.
As far as clothing goes, midi & maxi dresses are key. You’re looking good & have a newlywed glow, so bring pieces you will feel good & look good in. This is your honeymoon. Don’t be afraid to show a little more skin than usual. Also, if you’re going somewhere tropical, a white swimsuit is a must! I found the perfect white one piece that doesn’t look see-through when wet for only $12! This was the same one I wore on my honeymoon & I absolutely adore it. I brought my white espadrilles, but because of all the stairs & walking we had to do, I basically wore these leather sandals with every outfit. Lastly, bring a large bag. Our beach bag was a lifesaver! I love being prepared for anything, so it was nice to have my swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, extra clothes, etc. very accessible at all times.
You want these photos to be ones you happily look back on for years to come. One thing that really can make a photo is having the right accessories. Don’t dismiss the power of a great pair of earrings, a simple scarf, or a fun pair of sunglasses just because you’re on vacation! Trust me, take the time to plan & pack a few pairs of fun earrings as well as 2-3 pairs of sunglasses to mix things up. On our day trip to Capri, I wore my blue square scarf 3 different ways throughout the day! First, it was tied around my beach bag for a more personalized look. Then, I used it to tie my hair back in a ponytail when I got so hot from climbing stairs. Last, I tie my hair in a bun & wrapped the scarf around my head. See them all in action here.
My One Regret
My one regret was not something I didn’t pack on my way there, but on my way home. I had the idea while we were in Positano to buy a unisex onesie for our future baby to wear one day. Sadly, I chickened out in the end, but I really wish I had gotten one! How special would that be to dress our baby in a onesie we bought on our honeymoon?! So cute. Since I didn’t do it, I hope one of you will do this! If you do, please tell me!
As I’m writing this post, I’m currently out of town. I traveled to my hometown of Oklahoma City to see my sister’s high school graduation. When I was packing my things I realized that I consistently travel with the same handful of skincare products that I swear by. Each & every product I choose to travel with serves a unique & specific purpose in my skincare routine. Traveling has a way of really throwing off my skin’s groove, but with the help of these lovely products, I’m able to remedy any skin situation that gets thrown my way.
The Glossier Milky Oil & travel-sized Milky Jelly Cleanser duo is my very favorite way to remove my makeup & cleanse my skin while traveling. These products do a great job of removing all of my makeup as well as nourishing my skin from the natural wear of traveling. If I start to feel any breakouts forming, I quickly use my Solution to stop it in its tracks & give my skin a refresh. This product is a life saver! After this chemical exfoliant, I like to use a moisturizing overnight mask. I’ve been using this for years & I keep coming back to it because of just how good it is.
Typically, I prefer to not use the same products on my face night after night. For this reason, I brought another skincare routine combo that is perfect to travel with. I mix in a few drops of the Pixi Rose Oil Blend with the Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins for the perfect tone & nourishment my skin completely loves.
My Secret Weapon
As I mentioned before, I’m currently out of town & using these products on the daily. I have to give a special shout out to these overnight eye masks. The VIIcode O2M Oxygen Eye Mask For Dark Circles are a must have in my skincare travel essentials kit. My sister & I used these last night & we both swear that not only did they do wonders for any puffiness & dark circles under our eyes, but we actually slept better! They feel so cool & soothing on the skin, making me ready for a great night’s sleep. For an extra bonus, when we woke up, we sprayed our eyes with the VIIcode eye spray. This product is a spa-like treatment that is so refreshing & stress relieving. A combo such as this is like bringing my own spa with me wherever I go.