Travel Tips

TIPS, TRICKS & USEFUL KNOWLEDGE FOR TRAVELING

After 5 years of traveling for work, I have compiled some of my favorite travel tips to ensure a solid travel experience! Whether it be to the next state, across the country or a trip to the other side of the world – this blog contains nuggets of experience and tricks that have worked for me. I am known for getting hangry, tired, and melting down if I don’t keep good nutrition + sleep during long travels. I’VE LEARNED finally on how to pack my bag correctly and what to do so I don’t get hangry or overly exhausted. HERE we go….

TIPS:

  1. Always choose the AISLE SEAT- this is a must when traveling long distances. You gotta pee, can’t sleep or need to stretch your legs…DEF choose an aisle seat. I love love love having the window seat especially when traveling over beautiful places BUT not at the expense of being stuck inside and having to ask a few people to move so I can go pee every hour. Which leads me to my next tip…
  2. DRINK so much water- you have to pee every hour. Flying at high elevations will cause you to dehydrate faster and everything just goes down hill from there. Staying hydrated is known to help jet leg as well. I always bring a hydro flask and refill it any chance I get. I also rarely get anything but water when they give you free drinks on the plane. Sugar and alcohol will continue to dehydrate. Ok lets be honest I’ll have one glass of wine on a long flight to Europe if I can’t sleep….cause it’s free and SO good. 
  3. PACK SNACKS – oh my goodness if I did not pack snacks….I would be the worst travel buddy. After years and years of eating food that made me sick cause it’s all I could find at the airport I learned to pack a legit snack bag. Help from my amazing Dietician Abby Chan, I now don’t go anywhere without it. Even if that’s a wedding day, driving 2 hours, traveling for over 36 hours on plane. Because of my various health issues, I must keep high protein and low sugar snacks. You do what’s best for you but here are some of my favorite: chick peas, fresh fruit (apples, bananas), snap peas, turkey sticks, protein bars, etc. Stasher bags. 
  4. MOVE YOUR BODY – always. I believe this statement to be true every single day of our lives but especially when traveling it’s important. This looks like stretching on planes every 2 hours by walking the aisles. Finding a space in the airport to practice yoga or do some squats and push ups. When I travel to places I always find gyms to drop into, yoga studios to try, running outside, or taking advantage of hotel gyms. Look up HIIT, strength training or cardio circuits on Instagram for ideas. I always bring a jump rope, resistant bands and running shoes wherever I travel. They are all small and can easily travel. ALSO, if possible bring a travel yoga mat- super nice to roll it out and have quiet movement time on your mat in random places. 
  5. TSA PRECHECK – is a must when traveling in airports every month. There are other options such as Clear or Global Entry but this is SO helpful. I never show up to the airport more than 1 hour before a flight due to Pre-check. You don’t have to remove shoes or take anything out of your bag. When I travel with camera gear and computers this is SO helpful. I am all about efficiency when traveling. 
  6. Sign up for TRAVEL CREDIT CARD – These travel credit cards save you money in the long run, let you into amazing lounges all over the world, and rack up all those points for future flights, car rentals, and hotels. I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and I received 100,000 points when I signed up along with TSA pre-check, access to over 1,000 lounges in the world, and 3x on every dollar spent on travel and dining. Many people have one card through an airline like SouthWest or American Airlines but I’ve found more perks through a very specific travel credit card. This also includes car rental insurance and they will put you up in a hotel if your flight gets delayed over 6 hours. 
  7. MEMBER at a car rental – I’ve really loved being able to walk from the airplane straight to your rental car without waiting in any lines!! It’s FREE to sign up and you always get a discount if you are a member. I use AVIS and I also get points that rack up over the year. With Avis you get a kick back from Amazon with a 10% gift card by just renting a car!! 
  8. FIND the local coffee shop, bookstore + little shops. This is where I find ALL my treasures is in hidden little nooks when traveling around. From prints, jewelry, books, and clothing. I meet the best people, as well. 
  9. Look on SKYSCANNER, Justfly, or Hopper for the best deals when searching for flights. They will often have great deals even if that means a day layover, but worth a $450 flight compared to a $1,200 flight. ALSO, always remember to search in an incognito window which blocks browsing history, cookies, and more. Many airline companies can jack up prices based on browsing history. Click File at the top on computer screen, then New incognito window.
  10. Always CARRY ON your bag if you’re going for a short travel. You will save money, time, and worry. I cannot tell you HOW many times my checked bag got lost from connecting flight and it’s such a hassle to track it down. Traveling minimally will teach you how to live out of one bag and use everything you brought (basically to not over pack). Get a good bag that can easily roll with 4 wheels and a lock.

WHAT’S IN MY BAG: 

This is what I get asked the most when I travel. SO HERE it is…all my go to’s, essentials, and must-haves when traveling, especially overseas. 

(If you want the same things, I added links to each item! Just click on it.)

Top 5 Favorite Travel Destinations

Looking for your next getaway? Try one of these!

1. Capri, Italy

One of my very favorite places in the world. It’s a tiny lush little island in the middle of Tyrrhenian Sea where the sun shines brighter and the water is bluer. Some of the most famous Italians have houses on this island, such as Giorgio Armani. It’s known for its crisp limoncello and Caesar’s private swimming hole called the Blue Grotto. This magical little island is a quick trip from Naples, Amalfi Coast, or Sorrento by boat. Always by boat.

When I studied abroad in Orvieto, Italy, we took a trip down to Sorrento for the weekend. Five of my girlfriends and I all went in search of the Blue Grotto’s. Well….that was my goal but they went along for the ride. We stayed in a beautiful old olive grove overlooking the sea and mountains. It was truly breathtaking and only for 12 Euro a night! Sorrento reminds me of a hip fun Italian beach town with fields and fields of lemon. This is the birth place of limoncello, or so I was told. Wherever we went, it was with limoncello!! Before dinner, after dinner, with your gelato. It was magical. I convinced the girls to take a boat tour to the Island of Capri. It was there my soul came alive. I felt my heart in the sea.

We took a 6 hour boat tour starting from Sorrento that took us over to Capri for the day. They dropped us off to go explore for hours and swim. We ate and drank our way through the cozy tight streets of the island. It reminded me of Greece. We found a beach down by the harbor and swam in the sea till it was time to get back on the boat. They took us around to all the grotto’s (three or four to be exact) but I was in pursuit of one. The Blue Grotto was apparently Caesar’s private swimming hole. And I believed it. You must get off your boat, get onto another tiny boat, go pay more money to these men who are just waiting in boats to go in. There were only two of us plus the Italian swift boat steerer. We went through a tiny little hole the size of a boat. You MUST remember to duck or you will hit your head on the rocks above.

It’s there once you enter into the Grotto that the world transforms in front of your eyes. Due to the type of sand that is inside this Grotto the whole room lit up blue in a way I’ve never seen in my life and won’t ever see again. The guy asked me if I wanted to jump in so I threw my camera to my friend Erin and I dove in. I swam deep down opening my eyes to see fish swimming and felt a connection to the mermaid life my ancestors were apart of. I came up for a breath of air and heard all these Italian men sining love songs around this Grotto as they rowed the boats in a circle. If I could have lived there, I would have. Right in the middle of the Blue Grotto.

And that is why the Capri is my number destination to go to. You will not have the same experiences as me but yours will be better because it will be your own.

2. Krabi, Thailand

In the Southern part of the Thailand you will find Islands and beaches all dedicated to beauty. It will blow your mind and it will be worth it. My friend and I stayed in a town called Krabi at a beautiful little bungalow near the beach. This resort only cost us $15 a night!! Everything in Thailand is cheap compared to Western countries. So your money goes far. I highly suggest going to Railay beach!! It is here, we decided to take a full day to climb and go hiking. The beaches are all connected by tiny little sandy trails through cut outs of trees hanging out with large rock formations to the sides. Keep your eyes out for monkeys!

You can jump from island to island by boat. It is hard to see all of them unless you have lots of time. I suggest taking an all day little island boat tour. They picked us up right at our resort and took us all over the water to these really cool islands. We snorkeled a lot and cliff jumped at others. We ended the night on Railey Beach to watch the sunset and eat dinner they provided for us. Also not to mention on the way back, we stopped in the middle of the water where it was pitch black to see Bioluminscence plankton. It was insane. I highly suggest taking a trip to Thailand in general but you can see by the photos this island was insanely beautiful! And very restful.

3. Tulum, Mexico

Nestled off the coast of Gulf of Mexico, you will find this boho sandy street town with a paradise of beaches. You can walk up and down the street popping into cute shops and very expensive clothing stores! You can eat at some of the most amazing restaurants in Mexico and get away from the “fake Mexico” all the resorts show. This place is tropical, artistic, and peaceful. The people there live slower. They talk slower. They aren’t in a rush. Everyone rides bikes through town as dream catchers are swaying in the wind. I cannot say enough good things about Tulum.

It’s from here you can go off to explore Centos and the ruins of Mexico. The best way to do this is by taxi. Make sure you have enough pesos! We stayed at the cutest little bungalow nestled in the middle of palm trees. We walked or rode bikes everywhere for days. Life is slower in Mexico, so expect to enjoy yourself and not rush to get to the next thing. You will sweat A LOT. It’s hot and humid! Go to the ocean, get your butt in the water and enjoy the crystal blue clear waters of Tulum. You won’t regret it.

4. Paris, France

This town, as many of you know, is full of art, culture, and food. It holds a sweet place in my heart for some unknown reason! Probably due to the romanticism and beauty every turn you take. Or due to the amazing pastries and art. I cannot rave enough about Paris. With it’s lush green trees ( in the summer of course), to it’s art museums decked with the best pieces for thousands of years, to the tiny little streets to get lost in, Paris is one of my favorites.

You can take trains into smaller villages for the day or go to Palace of Versailles to enamor the luxurious life of old. I would highly suggest just getting lost in the city. Me and a friend traveled there in the winter after shooting a wedding in London. It was cold but we explored the whole town by foot freezing and teeth chattering. We didn’t care because the beauty of the Eiffel Tower at night drew us into awe. Take a little picnic to the park and just enjoy the surroundings of France. Slow down. And soak.

5. Singapore

A few years ago, I went to Singapore to photograph a wedding. Ever since I’m dying to go back. This city-state is a blend of cultures and food. Believe it or not it’s one of Asia’s top business meccas. Singapore has so much to explore in such a little island, which means you can do a lot in a short amount of time! We were able to explore with friends who were born and raised in Singapore. These are the locations they took us to that are a MUST:

  • Marina Bay Sands hotel
  • Sentosa (beach)
  • Gardens by the Bay
  • Hawka Centers to eat
  • Botanical Garden
  • ALL THE MALLS!! with Air Con!

We spent over a week in Singapore and I loved my time there because it was unlike anything I had ever been to. It was the cleanest city on earth and public transportation was impeccable! Everyone speaks English and a mix of Chinese. You will be amazed at Singapore and all that is has to offer.

HAWAII’S BEST BEACHES

I’m a beachholic. No I’m a waterholic.

As much as I love beaches, it’s the waters that the beaches offer I’m drawn to. After years of exploring all the Hawaiian Island- these are the set of my FAVORITE beaches. I have fond memories at all of them. Your reasons for going to a beach may be different than mine. I do not sun bath often and if I am- I’m reading. No no, I go to the beach to swim.

Most of these photos are mine- besides the obvious ones taken from above / I didn’t get a good shot because I was swimming!

1.Green Sand Beach (PAPAKŌLEA)- Big Island

OH my my this beach is my favorite in the whole world. It’s a HIKE to get out there. 2.5 miles to be exact. I hiked out there the first time I visited years and years ago with my friends for sunrise. Now the locals offer rides for $20 and cuts down on your time. I suggest going EARLY in the morning before it gets too hot to hike and the crowds come. The first time I went- no one was there. We had the whole beach to ourselves- turtles and all. The sand is in fact GREEN and shimmery- only four beaches in the whole world that are considered green sand beaches. You’ll find some chill waves to play in during the winter months.

2. Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach – Maui

If you drive the road to Hana- this is the best spot for a good swim and sunset. The black sand beach with lush green palm trees and views make it my favorite beach on Maui. The black sand is a bit more rough with tiny little black pebbles. There are caves to the right that you can swim in during the right time of the tide. The last few times I’ve gone it wasn’t too busy but this last year in February 2019 it was INSANELY busy and not very enjoyable. It’s not the biggest beach but I did have a lovely swim and could even hear some whales underwater.

3. Ke’e Beach – Kauai

Can you even?! At the very North of Kauai you will dead end into this amazing wonderful beautiful beach called Ke’e. It’s where the start of the Napali coast trail. Unfortunately, due to the flooding the road was closed in 2018. I was there in January 2019 and the road was still closed. You will need to do research on this to find out if it’s open or closed.

Be aware of the land in all of Hawaii. It’s not our land and yet we treat it like it is. We trash it and expect the Hawaii Islands to give us what we want when we want it. But nature does not work like the way of humans. Don’t be upset if you cannot get to what you want to in Hawaii. Be at peace you were meant to see what you were meant to.

4. Baby Beach, Sprecklesville Area – Maui

I’ve only spent one evening at Baby Beach BUT ITS one of my favorites. I mean look at those views of the mountains and sunsetting behind. Come on. It’s called baby beach because it has this break line that creates the perfect shallow little bay for babies to play in. Along with LOTS of turtles! It’s perfect for a picnic dinner and drinks to watch the sunset or take the kids to swim without fear of big waves. Oh Maui!

5. Kua Bay- Big Island

THIS BEACH is glorious. With the CLEAREST of blue waters and amazing big waves during winter months, it’s a must when visiting the Big Island. Located on the West Shore, it’s about 25-30min drive down downtown Kona but so worth it. I’ve had some of my most favorite swimming days (6-7hrs) out in those waters in perfect waves. Sometimes the riptide can be really strong, so just watch what the locals are doing and trust if they are not going out far than don’t.

6. Waimea Bay- Oahu

This beach is one of my favorites because it’s on the North Shore of Oahu and I’ve swam in the BIGGEST waves of my life there. It’s home to the world known surfing competition called the Eddie, so def beware in the winter months about large waves. I’ve definitely gotten myself into a little trouble with massive waves there. But have also had some amazingggg times laughing and swimming with friends. It has a large beach- so if you don’t want to swim it’s a good sun bathing location. Parking can be very hard- I’d suggest going up North to the left and parking on the side to walk down to beach if there are no spots. You can also cliff jump when the water is calm enough. Sometimes the lifeguards won’t let you jump if the waves are too big.

7. Kalalau Beach – Kauai

You can only reach this beach by hiking in from the Kalalau Trail . I have not been there but only seen the beauty of it from a boat tour. Capt Andy’s Boat Tour to be exact- amazing. I’ve heard this beach is insanely beautiful but my captain told me to not swim because the surf is so strong. IT’S SO worth going on the boat tour though. wow.

8. Makena Beach (Big + Little) – Maui

I spent much time here while in Maui. Great break for wake boarding or just swimming. Very clear waters!!! The beach goes for miles so you can always find a good spot to camp out for the day. There is a hidden little gem off of Big Beach though. It’s called Little Beach! It’s a nude beach that is worth going to if you are into that. I’ve never felt so free in my life swimming in the deep blue ocean waters as I did while visiting Little Beach. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you take part in the nude. Also, you must climb over a rock during the right time of day to get to little beach.

9. Lanikai Beach – Oahu

My last visit to Oahu I lived with a friend for a month and spent every single day at Lanikai Beach. It resides off a dead end part of SouthEast side of the island in a residential area. This part of town doesn’t have any hotels or air b and b’s- it’s purely residential. Which makes it more private. Although, it gets VERY busy, it’s a very long beach so there is always room. Miles of WHITE power sand and pure blue waters makes Lank Kai truly paradise. No fish, no shells, no rocks, no mess. It’s perfection. Sunrises here are the key. This is a view from the Pillbox hike just above early in the morning.

10. Pipeline Beach- Oahu

The final most amazing beach in Hawaii- voted personally by me- is Pipeline!! It’s on North Shore of Oahu with a wide sandy beach to play on. Pipeline is known for their world famous surf competitions during the winter. The waters can be too rough in the winter to swim but worth going to watch the surfers surf. These photos were taken on my 26th birthday while watching the sunset eating Acia bowls.

Hawaii : Mouna Farm

Mouna means: Inner Silence

For three weeks I weeded, planted, harvest, laughed, swam, watched the sunrise during morning yoga, watered, ate fresh food, and made new friends. Mouna gave me rest in ways I have not experienced since I worked on a farm in Italy. Oh how I miss the simple life where we wake up before the sun rises and fall asleep an hour or two after the sunsets, where we walk everywhere cause no one has a car, and where we spend hours making dinner from food that was just harvested. My heart was filled by simple things like fresh picked guava and nightly dance sessions around the campfire.

I found this farm through a friend who found it on the wwoofing website. WWOOF- world wide opportunities on organic farms. They are all over the world in almost every country. You work for free room and board. Check it out here: http://wwoof.net/   Go check one out! It’s FREE!

Life goes on, it doesn’t wait for you to answer your emails, update your social media, or respond to texts. I have been convinced of this the last month living on the farm away from the internet world that life goes on without me. And the world doesn’t revolve around me or my business. I love my photography business I really do, but it was running my life. I let it dictate my schedule and take over in ways that affect my body and relationships around me. I took back my life from work and re centered it to be about people and rest. Work is an important aspect of life but I believe it should never be your whole life. I’m not normally a schedule or routine person. It’s hard for me to create one and than stick with it. But the couple times I’ve experienced “forced” routine I’ve found myself thriving in it. My schedule was:

Wake up at 6:00am for: alone time, mediation, yoga  

7:30-8:00 Breakfast with everyone in the kitchen

8:00-10:00am- water plants

10:00-noon- work the land in whatever way was needed on that day

12:00-12:30pm- lunch

12:30-3pm- break (usually swimming in the ocean)

3:00-5:30- finish working on projects or watering

5:30-7:00- shower, read, help with dinner

7:00-8:00- dinner and clean up

8:00-9:00/10- campfire and bed

We all have a choice what will run our day. I let my work, emails, to do list run my day for the last year. I was stressed, all over the place mentally, and usually disconnected when I was around people. It took a few days on the farm to break the habits of checking my phone every 5 minutes and thinking I needed to respond immediately to emails. But once they were broken my attitude changed and my body was able to physically slowed down.

“Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, and swim when you feel it”.Were the words I heard over and over again when living on the farm. My first thought to those statements were; that sounds quite selfish of me and goes against everything I was taught growing up in modern day christian church. Or sports teams. Igorne the wants of the body, push through, strive for greatness which doesn’t come by taking midday naps. But I’ve learned to listen to my body- to what it needs, what it wants, what I’m ignoring because I’ve been told to push it away. 

I’ve never in my life felt more satisfied by food than I have by eating on the farm. We had curry probably every other day with rice and a huge salad. Lunch was usually left overs from dinner the night beforehand. I never once felt my stomach growl, I never once overate, I never once (okay…..maybe once) got hangry. We ate all vegetarian on the farm and now have switched to a plant based diet. I’m not as tired, I think clearer, and I actually feel good!!! If you have known me the last couple years I’ve struggled with food allergies and new intolerances. I’ve been trying to figure out why the heck I feel awful all the time or have a headache or literally can fall asleep at the table in a second. I have not figured out exactly whats going on but I can tell you I feel 60% better than I have felt in the last three years ever. Let’s be honest, it probably has to do with no stress as well. But hey I’m working on it!!! So here is to a new lifestyle of finding a morning routine + eating plant based + destressing! 

Oahu Island is beautiful, of course, full of friendly people, good food, and inspiring beaches. The surf is wild and the acai bowls are magical! I have one more week on this island with a college friend than on to- Kauai and Big Island for more adventure!

xoxo-hannah