Best Coffee Shops in Every State

top coffee products and tips

Below is a list of my favorite coffee shops in every state, plus a few international destinations.

Here’s a link to a PDF file if you want to save the list of ➡️ coffee-shops.

✨Read the bonus content below to find my favorite tools, products, and resources for drinking coffee or espresso at home.

Alabama

Arizona

Continue reading “Best Coffee Shops in Every State”

Waco City Guide

Waco travel guide

My Waco City Guide is the only one you need to plan your trip to Magnolia.

Waco has been a popular tourist destination since Chip, and Joanna Gaines debuted their show “Fixer Upper” on HGTV. The Gaines have several businesses in Waco, the most famous of which is Magnolia Market at the Silos. In addition to shopping and dining, there’s a beautifully restored church on the grounds.

Waco is a lovely city to visit, so get busy planning a day trip with all my recommendations.

I suggest starting your day with a cup of coffee at Common Grounds or breakfast at Magnolia Table. Next, visit the shops and grounds at Magnolia. Don’t forget to try the cupcakes at the Silos Bakery Co. The classic flavors include cute themed names like Shiplap (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing) and Silobration (vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream icing). After you visit Magnolia, drive outside of town to Heritage Coffee. It’s a beautifully designed coffee shop on a ranch. For the rest of the day, check out the antique stores and boutiques downtown or go on a tour of Waco. For lunch or dinner, I recommend Harvest and Cafe Homestead.

Keep in mind Magnolia is closed on Sundays. Waco is about 90 to 100 miles from the Dallas and Austin airports. You can easily plan a day trip from Dallas or Austin. Here is a link to my Austin City Guide. It’s jam-packed with links to all the best places.

MAGNOLIA AT THE SILOS

Waco city guide

Magnolia Market at the Silos (home decor)

Magnolia Home (furniture)

Shops at the Silos (Jo’s shops ranging from bath + body, men’s provisions, bags + jewelry, women’s clothing, and books + paper)

Seed and Supply (garden accessories)

Silos Baking Co. (sweets) *GF cookies

Magnolia Press (coffee)

Magnolia Table (breakfast or lunch)
It is located a few miles from the Silos. The best time to visit Magnolia Table, the restaurant, is between 6 am-8 am. The restaurant is only open till 3 pm.

Magnolia’s Little Shop on Bosque is the original home of Magnolia Market that offers last-chance items at a discount.

SHOP

January Letterpress is a collection of paper goods and gifts.

Brazos River Supply Co. is a men’s store featuring lifestyle items and gifts.

Clasé Vintage & Goods sells thrift and vintage fashion.

Cultivate 7Twelve is a small art gallery offering local art and artisan goods for sale. Also hosts farm-to-table dinners, yoga, dance classes, live music, and art workshops.

Fabled Bookshop & Cafe is an independent bookstore and cafe.

Gather carefully curated items for hosting and entertaining at home.

Harp Design Co. is handmade furniture and handcrafted home goods.

JDH Iron Designs is a metal art design from wall art and home decor to custom projects.

Roots Boutique is a boutique selling clothing, accessories, and unique gifts.

Spice Village features a collection of over 60 clothing and decor boutiques under the same roof.

Wildland Supply Co. is a clothing and gift boutique in downtown Waco.

DO

Fixer Upper Tour of Waco is the best tour in town. See many homes from HGTV’s Fixer Upper and enjoy learning about Waco, Texas.

Cameron Park is over 400 acres of forest and walkable trails overlooking the Brazos River.

Cameron Park Zoo is a natural habitat zoo the whole family can enjoy.

Waco Suspension Bridge and Riverwalk is an excellent spot for a stroll along the Brazos river.

Waco Hippodrome Theatre presents new and classic movies, plays, and concerts, plus in-theater dining in downtown Waco.

Dr. Pepper Museum is where you can learn about the oldest soft drink in the United States and how it started in Waco.

The Mayborn Museum Complex is Baylor University’s natural science and cultural history museum with fun, interactive activities for kids of all ages.

Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site and museum showcasing the fossils of 24 Columbian mammoths and other mammals.

Waco Downtown Farmers Market features local artisans and vendors offering fresh produce, coffee, and food. Note: only open on Saturday in downtown Waco.

Waco Escape Rooms is a team-based game where players solve puzzles and find clues within one room to escape in a limited amount of time.

Waco Tours explores the hidden gems that make Waco unique with its guided tour options.

EAT

Cafe Homestead is a farm-to-table concept restaurant.

Harvest on 25th is my favorite restaurant in Waco. *GF *V

Helberg Barbecue is a traditional Central-Texas-style barbecue joint.

Mac House sells mac ‘n cheese, grilled cheese, salads, and more.

Mamaka Bowls sells smoothie bowls, smoothies, and juice.

Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria is an artisan pizza restaurant offering Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pies.

Olive Branch Bakery & Cafe sells coffee, pastries, and breakfast and lunch bites in a relaxed, warehouse-style space.

Revival Eastside Eatery is a lunch spot for salads, sandwiches, and burgers in East Waco.

Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shoppe is a local favorite for sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Sironia is a cafe and boutique under one roof.

Union Hall is a community eatery offering 20+ diverse dining options under one roof.

Waffle Chic is a food truck that sells waffle fries.

310’s Kitchen is an open-air BBQ bistro.

DRINK

best coffee Waco
Heritage coffee is the best coffee shop in Waco, Texas.

Common Grounds is located near Baylor University. Really good espresso

Heritage Coffee is a few miles out of town but worth the drive. It’s located in a restored barn surrounded by beautiful pecan trees.

Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits offers a unique coffee and craft cocktail experience.

Luna Juice Baris the best juice bar.

Pinewood Coffee Bar is a local’s favorite that also serves draft beer.

Oh My Juice offers cold pressed and fresh made juice, smoothies, salads, and acai bowls.

Thrst Coffee is a coffee cart located in downtown Waco. Pick up a bag of beans to take home or for gifts.

SWEETS

Lula Jane’s is a bakery with limited quantity so go early.

Heritage Creamery is a handcrafted ice cream shop.

Hey Sugar Candy Store is a candy store with old-fashioned ice cream, gourmet popcorn, retro sodas, gourmet chocolate, and a large selection of bulk candy.

Mo Cookies sells cookies.

Nightlight Donuts is a mobile donut truck that pops up all around Waco.

Pokey O’s Waco is an ice cream parlor.

STAY

Hillcrest Estate is a historic home turned vacation rental renovated by Magnolia.

Magnolia House is a historic home turned vacation rental renovated by Magnolia.

Carriage House is a historic home turned vacation rental on the Magnolia House property, renovated by Magnolia on Fixer Upper.

I did not like the Hilton hotel. I think Air BNB is the best option for lodging or stay in Austin or Dallas and drive to Waco for a day trip. The Gaines are planning to open a hotel later this year in Waco.

GETTING AROUND

Silo District Trolley is a free trolley to get around the Silo District in downtown Waco. It picks up in front of Magnolia Market.

Texas travel guides: Austin and San Antonio.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in Austin? Leave your responses in the comment section.

P.S. You May Have Missed:

Austin City Guide

Fall Bucket List

What to Pack on Vacation

Favorite Things

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Marla Young’s Newsletter

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By MARLA YOUNG

Best Totes and Backpacks for Travel

Best Totes and Backpacks Travel

Below is a list of the best totes and backpacks for travel that I recommend.

  1. Briggs & Riley Tote: I use Briggs & Riley’s luggage for work. This tote has lots of compartments to keep me organized. It’s worth the investment for the lifetime warranty.
  2. Cuyana Zipper Tote: I use this carry-on bag for day trips and weekend getaways. It’s a classic tote that is stylish and holds up well.
  3. Aer Travel Sling: The Aer Travel Sling is designed to keep your travel essentials close at hand. It features a padded laptop pocket, a quick access pocket for travel documents, and a versatile sling strap for multiple carry positions. This one is great for men.
  4. Briggs & Riley Extra Large ToteThe Briggs & Riley Large Tote has lots of extra room if you travel with young children. I also like this tote if I go away for longer than a week.
  5. Packsafe Ultimatesafe anti-theft BackpackPacsafe makes backpacks and bags loaded with simple and effective anti-theft features to help protect you from pickpockets and thieves.
  6. Longchamp Tote: This tote is ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway. I recommend using an insert to keep your items organized.
  7. Aer Travel Backpacks: This is my favorite backpack.
  8. Briggs & Riley Backpack: The Briggs & Riley Backpack is perfect for the business traveler.

Continue reading “Best Totes and Backpacks for Travel”

How to Plan for a Vacation

Travel Apps

Here are some travel tips, tricks, & tools I use to plan for a vacation.

Google Sheets: I use Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet with all my travel information. This is best done through your desktop/browser. If I end up without WiFi or data, I can still access any vital information or make updates on my trip.

I use the Google Sheets app on my phone to access the spreadsheets.

If you are traveling in a group, everyone can edit the Google Sheet once they have access to it.

Here’s a copy of my Ashville Google spreadsheet.

U.S. Department of State Website: This website is another excellent resource for travel planning. They indicate the level of safety in each country based on the local political and health situations, including COVID-19, laws, general country information, current COVID-19 restrictions, border closures, and more. It’sIt’s also a good idea to enroll in their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) when you travel, which will notify you of any dangers or exceptional circumstances.

Pinterest is great for finding travel tips.

BLOGS & WEBSITES

I’ll do an internet search for my travel destination and add the word “blog.” I think blogs offer the best itineraries and travel recommendations.

I save articles using the Pocket App and Pinterest. Continue reading “How to Plan for a Vacation”

Essential List of What to Pack in a Carry-On Bag

carry-on-bag-essentials

Below is a list of what I pack in a carry-on bag to keep me entertained, hydrated, and feeling my best when I travel.

Cuyana Leather Zipper Tote: The Cuyana Tote is elegant and relatively affordable, costing less than $200 for a bag that’s made in America out of Italian leather. I also purchased the matching tote organization insert to keep my bag organized.I use Briggs and Riley exclusively for work trips due to the lifetime warranty. Airline crew are eligible for a discount. Email Briggs & Riley customer service to verify your airline employment for a discount code.

Cuyana Wallet: I purchased the Cuyana wallet to match my Cuyana tote. I also love the zipper wallet. I pack multiple credit cards and a debit card. I usually wait until I arrive to get local currency from the ATM. I also like the Zoppen Multi-Purpose RFID-Blocking Passport Holder Travel Wallet. The trifold design allows you to store your passport, boarding pass, vaccination card, ID, SIM card, cellphone, cash, a key, a pen, and more within its slim design. Plus, it’s got RFID-blocking material to keep your private details safe.

Cuyana Travel Case Set: I purchased the Cuyana travel set to match my Cuyana tote and wallet.

Apple Noise Cancellation AirPods: These are my favorite noise cancellation earbuds for travel.

Passport Case: If you are traveling out of the country or an airline employee traveling out of uniform, you will will likely need your passport along with your Global Entry Card. I can’t recommend this investment more highly and downloading the Mobile Pass if you’re flying from the U.S. Be sure to store your credit cards, passports and wallet in a RFID blocking pocket to keep your personal information safe.

Anker PowerCore+2100 Charger: I travel with multiple backup chargers. Anker is my go-to iPhone charger. If I’m out all day and don’t know when I’ll be able to access a wall outlet, I pack an Anker PowerCore portable charger. It can juice my iPhone to full capacity five times over before needing a charge itself. I also like Mophie chargers.

MacBook: I use a Macbook for writing, editing pictures, taking online courses, and watching programs away from home. Like iPods and iPhones, the MacBook can be charged from a portable battery pack, as long as you have a USB-C to USB-A cable. I use the Charmat Power Bank to charge my MacBook. I also like the Anker 537 Power Bank.

Twelve South AirFly Duo: The AirFly Pro is a tiny wireless transmitter that allows you to connect two wireless headphones to any headphone jack. You have to pair the AirFly Pro with your wireless headphones and then plug in the AirFly Pro to any headphone jack.

Friends Headphones: They fold up into a small pouch and rest over your ears so you can wear them throughout the entire trip.

iPhone: I read articles I saved on the Pocket app. I download podcasts ahead of time to listen to during a long flight. I use the Pocketcast app to listen to podcasts. If I am going on vacation, I download travel guides and maps. I use Spotify to listen to music. Depending on your data plan, you may be able to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and supply Wi-Fi to other nearby devices. This can save money on hotel Wi-Fi charges, and chances are you’ll have a faster connection to boot. On iPhone, you’ll find Personal Hotspot under Settings > Cellular. On Android, you’ll find Hotspot and Tethering in the Networking and Internet section.

iPad: I prefer to read on my iPad or Kindle. I use the Texture app to read magazines. I also use the Inflight Reader app to download free magazines before a flight. My local library offers free books that can be downloaded using Overdrive and the Libby app. Don’t neglect entertainment, either. For video, both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video allow you to store videos for offline playback through their mobile apps. Look for the download button next to the video you want to save. You can also download music for offline use if you subscribe to Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime, or Amazon Music Unlimited. For games on your smartphone or tablet, I’d suggest launching them in Airplane Mode before leaving to ensure they don’t require an internet connection.

Logitech Keyboard Case: I like to use this keyboard with my iPad if I don’t pack my laptop.

Kindle: With an e-reader or tablet, you can enjoy endless entertainment in a slim package.

Silent Pocket Faraday Sleeve for iPhone: I use the silent pocket Faraday Sleeve for privacy protection. A Faraday Cage is simply an enclosure designed to block electronic signals and radiation. Silent Pocket’s Faraday line was inspired by creating privacy and security protection for our wireless devices. Once you drop your tablet or smartphone into one of our Faraday products, ALL signals to and from the device are cut off from the grid. It’s as though they are turned off with the battery taken out.

USB data blockerUSB data blockers let you charge your devices from other peoples’ USB ports (including charging kiosks) without the risk of their accessing your phone’s data or infecting it with malware.

Lightning-USB Charger: Most Apple chargers have lightning ports on both ends now, but many planes have USB chargers at each seat. Be sure to grab a lightning-USB charger if you have a newer Apple device you want to charge.

TravelCard Charger: This mini-charger is the best portable charger to carry with you for a bit of battery boost.

Small Solar Charger: A solar charger is helpful to charge gadgets and stay connected in an emergency.

Apple Air TagsApple Air Tags are a super-easy way to keep track of your stuff.

Belkin Portable Surge Supressor: Carrying a portable surge protectorwith you when you’re traveling makes it easy to turn a single outlet into several outlets.

Travel Adapter: I pack an international travel adapter any time I go abroad. Mingtong’s universal adapter has four USB ports and four retractable plugs and works in more than 170 countries. I also like the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter.

Anker 32 Port Charger: When I’m in an airport, hotel, or coffee shop, I’ll plug my iPhone into the compact Anker 32W port, which goes from zero to 50 percent in 25 minutes. Even better, I can use the second port to simultaneously charge my MacBook.

Electronics Organizer: I use Peak Design’s Tech Pouch. It has plenty of storage pockets for all my tech. This one is similar for a lower price. I also like the Grid-It organizer and the Incase Nylon Tech Organizer.

Captivator Energy Mist: A quick spritz mid-flight instantly makes me feel like I’m in a spa.

Unibazl Vision Elite Pens: They’re the only pens I’ve ever tried that don’t explode on planes!

Cashmere Scarf Travel Blanket: I always pack a travel blanket. It keeps me from freezing on a plane.

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars: The vanilla ones are my favorite. They taste like cookies and are full of healthy fats and collagen protein (read more about collagen here) and very low in sugar (2 grams).

Slip Sleep Mask: The Slip Sleep Mask is one of my carry-on bag essentials for red-eye flights. I love this brand of silk pillowcases and sleep masks. Slip pure silk sleep masks are 100% pure silk, inside and out. They’re made with pure silk filler, internal silk liner, and a silk-covered elastic band. Make sure your sleep mask and pillowcase are 100% silk.

Truffle Clarity Pouches: Truffle’s pouches provide a simple solution to staying organized. The clear plastic means you’ll never dig through multiple bags to find your lipstick or essential documents. All of the pouches keep products upright and intact. The Petite Clarity Purse is ideal for transferring from a carry-on to a handbag. The Large Clarity Pouch is for beach essentials (keeping their water and sand-free) or for more oversized items that you want to keep tidy in your suitcase. The Clarity Document Case is for toting travel documents, magazines, and even an iPad.

Somavedic: I use a Somavedic to negate the effects of 5G. The smaller model is ideal for airplanes, hotel rooms, cars, and small spaces.

Osmosis Harmonized Water: I like to pack one of these osmosis harmonized water kits when I travel internationally. The kit includes four minis to boost your cells into action. These waters are frequency enhanced for health. They are non-toxic, effective for all ages and improve your health on a cellular level. There is no expiration date on any of the Harmonized Waters. The energy is in the form of scalar waves, which means the water molecule always contains that energy until used by the body. As long as you do not put anything into the bottle once opened the water is always viable. This kit is the perfect way to get started on Harmonized Water. Find out more about Osmosis Harmonized water here.

de Mamiel Altitude Oil: Altitude Oil is the perfect travel companion to support and protect the immune system. Altitude oil is a mixture of essential oils with antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, including Lavender to ease tension, Eucalyptus to help clear your head, and Franconia to bolster immunity, and the antiseptic properties of Pine. Put a drop under each nostril or a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply several times. This oil is not just for travel. Use it on any form of public transportation. Please keep it on your office desk when the room or your head needs cleaning. Sprinkle it onto your pillow when you have a cold or can’t sleep. Shake a few drops into the bottom of the shower when you wake with a stuffy head. Pop a few drops in a humidifier when feeling nasally or under the weather.

Jao Hand Sanitizer: Most sanitizers use a synthetic antibacterial agent called triclosan, which is controversial for its damaging effects on marine life and its peculiar tendency to spawn resistant bacteria. To prevent drying, the formula draws on a blend of essential oils, including Eucalyptus, geranium, Lavender, sage, and tea tree. Jao was tested against seven of the most likely hand contaminants. The “kill rate” was less than one minute in all cases. Unlike every other commercial antibacterial product I’ve used, this one didn’t make me want to rub my hands on a towel to get rid of a wet residue or an overpowering scent. I also like Osmosis Hand Sanitizer.

Compression Socks: I wear medical grade compression thigh high stockings when I am working. For personal travel, I usually wear compression socks. Sox Solution offers a great selection of compression socks for travel, work, medical and sports uses and has added more fashion-conscious designs. All their socks are made in Italy and have patented designs. I especially like the AB-X padding, which helps provide an additional cushion, which I like when I wear them as walking socks. I tried their new TSS6000 Soft Padding OTC and like the new softer fabric. They also include their Silver DryStat antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, which reduces foot odor and are quick-drying, minimizing blisters meaning you can wash them out in the sink and be ready to go the following day while traveling.

Travel Pillow: I like to pack an inflatable travel pillow for a red-eye flight. Go Sleep has released an upright sleep system. It includes an adjustable elastic cord with toggles that secure the seat or adjustable headrest, comfortably supporting the head in place.

Dr. Singha’s Travel Tonic: It’s a magic potion to help win the battle against jet lag. Travel often brings on various forms of stress caused by poor eating, disrupted sleep patterns, high speeds, and general apprehension. This great travel buddy can help you arrive calm and collected instead of tense and exhausted. Contains Organic extracts of Ginger Root, Eleuthero Root, Lemon Peel, Sheep Sorrel, and Wild Harvested Yohimbe Bark in a base of Organic Grain Alcohol and Distilled Water.

Airplane Seat Covers & Tray Covers: These are helpful if you are traveling with children.

Water Bottle: When you travel, bring a BPA-free water bottle with a built-in filter to fill it up at any water fountain once you’re through security. I like the Hidrate Spark PRO Smart Water Bottle Tritan plastic or stainless steel. This rechargeable bottle links to the HidrateSpark app via Bluetooth to track how much you drink and remind you when to drink, and it even features a locator, so you never misplace it.

Argentina 23: I never travel without colloidal silver. It’s the best way I know to heal cuts, scrapes, sores, and burns quickly. It can also treat a host of common illnesses such as colds, flu, and sore throats and kill nasty germs. Read more about the many uses of colloidal silver here.

Paris Nasal Ointment: It’s a must for anyone who travels due to the dry environment in airplanes. When your nasal passages get dehydrated, you get tiny tears or fissures in the skin. When that happens, viruses can get inside. If you keep your nasal passages moist, there’s a lesser chance of airplane viruses getting into your nose. I use a few drops of this in my nose when I fly. The astronauts use this product!

Organic Lip Balm: My favorite organic lip balm is from Living Libations.

Ear Plugs: The best earplugs I found are from Ear Peace if you do not have noise cancelation headphones or noise cancellation iPods.

Hand Lotion: My hands get very dry when I am flying. This hand lotion by Karen Herzog works so well and does not leave a greasy residue.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Dr. Tung’s products are the best. I use Dr. Tung’s Ionic Toothbrush for travel.

Books: I always download several books before a trip. I recommend reading Robin Benson’s Travel With Vitality and The Healthy Conscious Traveler for great tips on staying healthy while traveling.

Eye Relief: I use BioTears or Dry Eye Relief to treat dry eyes and keep them moist.

Goodwipes: These handy little items are a large, biodegradable, hypoallergenic body wipe you can take with you on the go.

Snacks: I always pack extra snacks in the event of delays, I like to make a hearty salad which I’ll pack in an old takeout container that I can toss at my destination.

MegaHydrate: Take 3-5 capsules on long flights to increase hydration and reduce free radical damage. Read more about MegaHydrate here.

Zumread In-Ear Earphones: These teeny and comfy earphones are powerful enough to tune out all peripheral plane noise.

Cord Taco: A cord taco is a genius tool for organizing charges, earbuds, and other wires. The premium leather significantly changes the look from messy to cool and organized.

Pure Essence Labs Ionic-Fizz Magnesium Plus Raspberry Lemonade Sachets: Magnesium is said to calm the nervous system and prevent leg cramping, so I like to dissolve some in a large bottle of water for drinking throughout the flight.

LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C Sachets: It’s no secret Vitamin C provides essential support to a healthy immune system. Downing a few packets of this potent, hyper-absorbent formula before takeoff boosts my immune system when needed most.

Skin Care Products: I save travel size packets of moisturizers and serums for long flights. DNA Skincare, Living Libations, and Osmosis Skincare are my favorite product lines.

Athletic Greens Travel Packs: Athletic greens give you a full foundation of vitamins and minerals, and probiotics to support your health and well-being.

Restore Sinus Spray: Restore Sinus Spray is designed to help you cleanse, soothe, and hydrate the delicate membranes lining your nasal passages.

Sunglasses: I always pack sunglasses in a travel case. I like this monogramed case from Mark & Graham that holds 2 pair of glasses.

Self Defense Flashlight: I also carry this around in my bag in case of a power failure so I don’t waste my iPhone battery.

Stasher Reusable Food Storage Bags: I pack a lot of food to eat when I travel. The Stasher bags do not take up a lot of space and allow me to heat food on the road. Stasher bags are safe for use in the microwave, a standard oven, or a pot of boiling water up to 400F. Stasher can take the heat, the cold, and anything else your kitchen dishes out. Thanks to the patented airtight seal, your food’s nutrients, flavors, and juices stay locked in.

Nature’s Way Supplements: I keep this brand of cold and flu supplements on hand during cold and flu season.

Travel Containers: I use travel containers for my beauty products and toiletry items. I purchase my containers at the Muji store and the Container Store. I recently ordered a set of Cadence capsules to store my skincare products. The magnetic capsules are leak proof, air tight, and super cute too.

Weatherman Umbrella: If you don’t carry your umbrella in your carry-on like I do, you need to pack one in your suitcase. I like the Weatherman Travel Umbrella. I also use the Carrot weather app.

Ziploc bags: I always keep a few plastic bags in my carry on bag and luggage. The mini plastic bags are great for vitamins.

Face Mask: Some airlines may require a face mask. I like the Scough face covering.

Camera: I shoot with a Nikon DSLR mirrorless camera and lenses.

Kleenex: I always pack a travel size pack of Kleenex. It also comes in handy if there isn’t any toilet tissue in the public restrooms.

First Aid Kit: I pack a small first aid kit that includes tweezers, nail clippers, small scissors, eye drops, cotton balls, cotton swaps, moleskin, blister Pads, itch reliever, adhesive bandages, gauze, waterproof bandage tape, thermometer, cough drops, lozenges, rubber band, Salvon Antiseptic Cream, Niflugel Niflumic Acid 2.5%, Ibuleve Maximum Strength Gel, Germolene Antiseptic Cream, CicaSedermyl Skin Repair and Disinfecting Cream, and Arnica Bruise Gel.

Medicine: Always pack prescription medication in a carry on bag.

Supplements: I use these pill boxes from the Container store to store my vitamins. I also like the Ellie Grid Smart Pill Box. Ellie organizes your pills in seconds, reminds you to take your pills, and uses sensors to track your progress over time.

Caddis Blue Light Blocking Glasses: I like this design of blue light-blocking glasses to protect my eyes from screen time. Caddis lenses block 45% of harmful blue light at and surrounding, the most harmful wavelength (455 nm). This is more than other brands. The lens is nearly clear, which is hard to do. The anti-reflective coating helps to mitigate reflections and glare. The coating is designed to prevent smudging.

Caddis Eyewear Readers: I wear the Caddis Miklos tortoise reading glasses. They fit great and include blue-light-blocking HEV-coated lenses. This protects against eye strain and potential issues like headaches, tension, and sleeplessness.

As you pack and prep, create a morning checklist on your phone for items you may leave, or that would be terrible to forget. Here’s what mine generally looks like:

  • Passport, IDs, documents
  • Wallet
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Headphones
  • Water Bottle
  • Headphones, Apple Watch, iPad, phone (fully charged the night before)

I started using an app which allows me to create a master list I can use for every trip and just add the special items I need for that specific trip. You can even create lists for different seasons so you can make sure to bring those winter boots and gloves in the winter and your sunscreen in the summer.

This article has several packing apps you can check out.

Here’s a selection of my top resources for packing.

  1. Save this illustrated guide for folding socks, underwear and tees.
  2. Travel Outfit Planner PDF.
  3. Printable International Destination Packing List
  4. Printable Vacation Packing List
  5. How to Pack Two Weeks in a Carry On.
  6. A fabulous Packing Guide Ebook

Best Totes and Backpacks Travel

Here are my favorite totes and backpacks for travel.

  1. Briggs & Riley Tote: I use Briggs & Riley luggage for work. This tote has lots of compartments to keep me organized. It’s worth the investment for the lifetime warranty.
  2. Cuyana Zipper Tote: I use this carry on bag for day trips and weekend getaways. It’s a classic tote that is stylish and holds up well.
  3. Aer Travel Sling: The Aer Travel Sling is designed to keep your travel essentials close at hand. It features a padded laptop pocket, a quick access pocket for travel documents, and a versatile sling strap for multiple carry positions. This one is great for men.
  4. Briggs & Riley Extra Large ToteThe Briggs & Riley Large Tote has lots of extra room if you are traveling with young children. I also like this tote if I go away for longer than a week.
  5. Packsafe Ultimatesafe anti-theft BackpackPacsafe makes backpacks and bags loaded with simple and effective anti-theft features to help protect you from pickpockets and thieves.
  6. Longchamp Tote: This tote is ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway. I recommend using an insert to keep your items organized.
  7. Aer Travel Backpacks: This is my favorite backpack.
  8. Briggs & Riley Backpack: The Briggs & Riley Backpack is perfect for the business traveler.

What about you? Does this look like your packing routine? What packing tips do you have to suggest I haven’t mentioned here?

P.S. I write a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations. Sign up if you like and get my newsletter delivered right to your Inbox via this link. Here’s a link to the travel planning edition of the newsletter.

You May Have Missed:

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Austin Travel Guide

Austin City Guide

Austin ranks at the top of my list for places to visit. The capital of Texas has all of my favorites including Mexican food, Etsy style boutique shopping and a variety of outdoor activities. Austin is famous for it’s “dive joints” – eclectic, funky, mom and pop businesses that have a one-of-a-kind feel plus some of the best Tex-Mex and Barbecue in the state. Are you getting hungry? The city is a food lover’s paradise with no shortage of dining options. What once was a small hippie city has transformed into something much slicker thanks to big events like the SXSW music festival and celebrity sightings. Continue reading “Austin Travel Guide”

Chic Travel Guide: Bright Lights Paris

Bright Lights ParisIf you are planning to visit Paris or just love dreaming about this oh so chic destination, I have a must-read book to share with you today. It’s called Bright Lights Paris: Shop, Dine & Live Parisian Style by Angie Niles. It’s filled with stunning photos and lovely fashion illustrations plus fabulous tips from celebrities, fashion designers, bloggers, chefs, and more. Continue reading “Chic Travel Guide: Bright Lights Paris”

Five Things: NYC

If I had to choose one layover as my all-time favorite, it would be NYC. I enjoy the food scene, shopping, and Broadway shows.

This weekend I had a long layover in Long Island. I hopped on board the Long Island Railroad. The train is a convenient way to travel to Manhattan from Long Island. The trains run once an hour, and the ride is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Central Islip to Penn Station. It costs $25 for a round trip ticket. Most hotels provide shuttle service to the train stations in Long Island. Uber is also available on Long Island.

Here are 5 things I enjoyed in NYC.

Senza Gluten

{Senza Gluten}

1.  SENZA GLUTEN: First on my agenda was an early dinner at Senza Gluten. Senza Gluten is a new 100% gluten-free restaurant in Greenwich Village. I ordered the Margherita pizza made with San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. San Marzano are the best tomatoes. It was as good as the gluten-free pizza in Italy. The restaurant has a lovely ambiance. I sat outside but took a peek inside and the interior seating has a rustic vibe. The service was excellent. The owner made a point to introduce herself to me and asked my thoughts on the meal. I recommend making a reservation due to the restaurant’s popularity. 

Continue reading “Five Things: NYC”

My Favorite Travel Apps

Travel AppsHere are a few of my favorite travel apps to help with the travel experience. Leave me a comment and let me know your favorite apps too. I’m always looking for new finds!

PLAN

Evernote helps keep all your ideas, notes, documents, URL’s and more all in one place.  Free iOS, Android

Pack Point generates a customized list of items you should pack. Free iOS, Android

Hipmunk compares the top travel sites to find the best hotel and flight deals. Free iOS, Android

World Mate helps you plan your trip. Free iOS, Android

TripIt syncs your flight confirmations, hotel reservations and more in your calendar. Simply send your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt automatically creates a detailed daily itinerary for every trip. Free iOS, Android, WP

Drop Box saves files from your computer in an online account for later access anywhere in the world. Free iOS, Android, WP Continue reading “My Favorite Travel Apps”

Richmond Travel Guide

 

Richmond Capitol

I am crazy about Richmond, Virginia. I think you will be too!

The capital city of Virginia is not only a historical destination but a wonderful place to explore the outdoors, dine, and shop.

Richmond is famous for donuts, coffee shops, Southern cuisine, street art, outdoor trails, Christmas lights, magnificent architecture, and cool shopping.

Richmond locals will make you feel right at home. I love the Southern hospitality and the mouth-watering Southern cuisine.

My Richmond travel guide includes the top must-do things to plan your next visit.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in Richmond?  Leave your responses in the comment section.  

EATS

Tarrant’s Cafe is my favorite restaurant in Richmond. It is not just a meal but an experience. I recommend the Shrimp and Grits or She crab soup. *V *GF

Brenner Pass  brings the flavors of the alps to the plate. You will likely need a reservation.

The Roosevelt is a highly acclaimed restaurant in Richmond. I really like the dessert menu featuring coca cola cake, peanut butter pie, foie gras pound cake, and nutella gelato.

Proper Pie Co. brings the New Zealand-style savory pie to RVA. The menu changes daily.  V*

Stella’s is the best Greek restaurant in RVA.

Julep’s is a romantic Southern inspired upscale restaurant. Perfect for a date night. Very romantic atmosphere.

Dots Back Inn serves diner classics in a vintage themed café and featured on Diners, Drive Inns, and Dives.

Impanima is the best Vegetarian restaurant in RVA. *V *GF

Buz and Ned’s is the famous barbecue joint featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Pick up some of the famous barbecue sauce for a souvenir or gift. *GF

Kuba Kuba is a Cuban-Spanish restaurant featured on the Food Network. The Picadillo Empanadas and Tres Leches Cake are popular menu times.

8 1/2 is a delicious take out Italian restaurant.

Daily Kitchen serves organic fare. *GF *V

Sally Bell’s Kitchen is a Richmond institution. It is a lunch box menu and bakery. Inside each box  you’ll find a sandwich (pimento cheese is popular) on fresh bread; a cup of creamy potato salad topped with a pickle chip; a cheese biscuit; a deviled egg; and—the prize—an upside-down cupcake, frosting covering the sides and bottom. Perfect for a picnic at one of Richmond’s outdoor parks.

Coppola’s Deli is a popular lunch spot serving N.Y. style deli sandwiches.

Urban Farmhouse Market and Cafe is a coffee shop and farm to table restaurant. *V *GF

Lulu’s is an eclectic restaurant in an old warehouse. The mac and cheese is a popular dish on the menu.

Millie’s is a Richmond brunch staple. Arrive early to avoid long lines or try the lunch menu weekdays. *GF

Mama J’s is a soul food diner. Chef Velma Johnson makes the most superb catfish nuggets, yams, and incredible, pork-free, vegetarian collard greens. *V

Edo’s Squid is a fancy Italian hot spot. *GF

Burger Bach is a New Zealand inspired burger pub.

 

MARKETS

South of James Market is the best farmer’s market in RVA on Saturday mornings.

Elwood Thompson’s is an organic grocery store. The juice bar is popular. *GF *V

 

SWEETS

WP Bakery is a little gem serving pastries, pies, cookies, and other treats. Lots of vegan and gluten-free options. The only bakery offering gluten-free donuts in town. *GF *V

Pearl’s Cupcake Shop is the best cupcake shop in RVA.

Sugar Shack Donuts is one of the best donut shops in the country.

Shydigz is an adorable dessert café. Great for after dinner desserts and a hot toddy.

Sub Rosa Bakery is an authentic French bakery. The chocolate croissants are popular.

For the Love of Chocolate is a candy shop.

Country Style Donuts is an old fashion donut shop open 24 hours. Locals from all over the state visit the shop.

Mrs. Yodar’s Family Donuts is a family run donut food truck. The sourdough donut is the most popular.

 

DRINK

Black Hand Coffee is a no frills coffee shop serving a good cup of joe.

Sugar & Twine is a coffee shop and bakery in Cary Town.

Alchemy Coffee makes the best lattes and cappuccinos.

Rostov’s Coffee and Tea is the oldest coffee and tea shop in town. They roast their own beans and offer a huge assortment of teas.

Lamplighter Coffee is known for their cold pressed drinks.

Lift Coffee is the cutest coffee shop.

Lemaire’s is a fancy restaurant in the historic Jefferson Hotel. The Jefferson Julep is the signature beverage. You will feel like a Southern Belle in this hotel with the Gone With the Wind style staircase.

Maple & Pine has really good cocktails.

 

SEE

Virginia State Capitol  is a great spot for photographs.  Don’t miss the statue of George Washington.

Maymont is a 100 acre Victorian estate and public park. You can spend an entire day here strolling the gardens and other activities. Children love the petting zoo. Great for photographers. Lovely spot for a picnic.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum is popular for literature enthusiasts. The museum features Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia, pictures, relics, and personal belongings.

Virginia War Memorial  honors Virginia veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

Virginia Holocaust Museum includes an exhibition about the family story of Holocaust survivor Jay M. Ipson.

St. John’s Church is where Patrick Henry gave his closing speech at the Second Virginia Conventions with the famous quotation “give me liberty or give me death.”

Children’s Museum of Richmond is great for the little ones.

Virginia  Museum of Fine Arts houses a permanent collection of American Impressionists.

Lewis Bitner Botantical Gardens is one of the top botanical gardens in the country. Don’t miss the  Garden Fest Holiday of Lights.

Hollywood Cemetery sounds creepy but provides the best view of the James River and city of Richmond.

 

DO

Carytown is a funky street nicknamed “Mile of Style” where you can dine and shop.

Modern Richmond Tour features architectural tours each month.

Richmond Canal Cruise on the James River is a 40 minute boat ride with a tour guide discussing Richmond history.

Byrd Theater is popular for $2 second run movies.

Brown’s Island is a hot spot for Richmond festival and music events.

First Fridays RVA  is a monthly art stroll.

Greenleaf’s Pool Hall is a fancy pool hall open late.

The Camel is a live music venue serving food and drinks.

Richmond Food Tour includes a walking tour of Richmond neighborhoods that includes food sampling.

Richmond’s Craft and Design Show is a great event for Christmas shopping held annually in November.

 

SHOP

Sweet Clementine is a designer women’s consignment boutique.

Mongrel is a quirky card and gift shop.

Na Nin is a women’s vintage clothing boutique.

Izzie’s is a home decor and furniture consignment shop.

Ledbury is a stylish men’s shop selling well-fitted and high quality shirts.

Fab’rik is a women’s boutique selling trendy clothing at affordable prices.

Need Supply is the best place to buy denim.

Ashby is a consignment shop for hip used clothing.

Glass Boat is a locally owned boutique similar to Anthropology.

Traveling Chic Boutique is a contemporary women’s fashion boutique.

Shockoe Denim sells jeans made by hand in the store.

Diversity Thrift is the largest used clothing and home goods store in Richmond.

By Gones is one the best vintage boutiques in RVA.

Roan is a luxury women’s boutique.

U Fab is the top fabric store in the state. Check out the bargain remnants.

Fountain Bookstore  is an independent bookstore.

World of Mirth is a toy store for kids of all ages.

 

MOVE

James River Park features a rock climbing wall.

Riverside Outfitters offers white water rafting excursions.

Virginia Capitol Trail is a 13 mile trail for running, walking, and biking.

Liberty Trail is a 6.2 self guided trail featuring 15 National Historic Landmarks.

Belle Isle is a 54 acre park to walk, jog, or bike.

Pony Pasture is one of Richmond’s most popular spots for sunbathing on the large granite boulders.

 

STAY

Jefferson Hotel is an elegant upscale hotel.

Quirk Hotel is an art deco hotel.

Berkeley Hotel is a classic hotel offering traditional accommodations.

North Bend Plantation is a charming bed and breakfast. You can also tour the home and grounds.

Linden Row Inn is a boutique hotel composed of seven adjoining nineteenth-century townhouses.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in Richmond? Leave your responses in the comment section.

Philadelphia Travel Guide

Philly Love Sign

Philadelphia is famous for the Liberty Bell, Rocky Balboa, and Cheesesteaks. The City of Brotherly Love is also the birthplace of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Philadelphia is home to many national treasures, a thriving culinary scene, beautiful parks, hip shopping, and a bustling sports scene. Don’t forget to pack an extra bag for shopping. All clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free. My Philadelphia travel guide includes the top must-do things to plan your next visit.

Continue reading “Philadelphia Travel Guide”

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

The Happiness of Pursuit

If you have not heard of Chris Guillebeau, allow me to introduce you to a modern-day renaissance man. Chris is an entrepreneur, world traveler, speaker and best-selling author. His first two books were The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup. Chris is the host of the World Domination Summit, an international gathering of creative people. Chris blogs about his travel adventures and other topics at Chris Guillebeau.com.

Chris’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit is an inspirational read that will inspire you to make your life more meaningful. The book is about finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life. It’s about pursuing a big dream and being willing to risk it all.

So what is so unique about Chris Guillebeau? He set out on a quest to visit every country in the world before age 35, and he did it. Then he wrote a book about it. Continue reading “The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau”