our time in cusco, peru


Since our trip to Peru in October, it feels like I’ve been hopping from state to state and haven’t had much time to go through photos and share vacation details. I finally started editing photos last night and have loved reliving everything my husband and I experienced in South America. I definitely consider this adventure one of our favorite trips of all time. Here are a few photos from our time in Cusco. When we weren’t taking tours through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, we spent most of our time wandering around Cusco. It took a couple of days to get adjusted to the high altitude and even when I was doing better it still felt as if a bowling ball was constantly resting on my chest, so eating a ton of food and staying well-hydrated was important. I was totally fine with that. Peruvian cuisine is hands down the best I’ve […]


Filed Under: Peru, Travel46 Comments

barbados holidays

Barbados Holidays

Barbados holidays have been popular with couples, families and groups on tour for as long as air travel has been affordable. Why? Well, the scenery is eye-poppingly gorgeous, the culture is varied and interesting and Bajans have a reputation for being fun and friendly. For me, it’s been a dream destination for a long time and my top choice for a Caribbean getaway. There are several reasons why I think this small sovereign island sets itself apart, and I want to write about why I think Barbados would make the perfect holiday destination for anyone. Firstly, let’s do some geography: Barbados is a coral island set where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean sea. These waters are warm just about the whole year round, and Barbados holidays boast some of the world’s most spectacular diving. But the natural beauties of the islands aren’t limited to the coast. The core of the […]


Filed Under: Sponsored Post, Travel16 Comments

maras salt mines in peru

Peruvian Salt

We had the opportunity to take a wonderful half-day tour to the Maras salt mines in Peru, and I must say, seeing salt being harvested by local workers was something my husband and I will remember for a long time. You wouldn’t think that a tour of salt production would be anything to write home about, but the combination of the mountains and patchwork look of the salt ponds was really unique. Plus, the bus ride down was the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life so there’s that. Let’s just say I’m glad I waited to google “Peru bus crashes” until after we had arrived back at the hotel, safe and sound. Salt water springs feed the pools and during the tour, our guide kept telling us to dip our hands into the narrow, rushing rivers. He explained that the water should taste sweet like ice cream, but it […]


Filed Under: Peru, Travel44 Comments

the lowdown on msc cruises

MSC Cruise Review

While we were living abroad, we booked a week-long Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises. Since we had never heard of this company prior to moving overseas, we were skeptical about their low rates and strange boarding/departure schedule, but went with them anyway and had a great experience. I’ve heard other opinions — especially when it comes to their Carribean cruises — but I liked it a lot more than past cruises with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. So, if you’re wondering about cruising in Europe, here’s the lowdown on MSC Cruises. We were scheduled to take a cruise with B’s parents during their visit in Scotland, but because our field assignment got extended an additional six months, we were required to send our passports back in for a different visa and it took forever. Since we were passport-less for a month and a half, we had to cancel a few trips including a week […]


Filed Under: Travel14 Comments

unexpected adventures with target wedding

Amalfi Coast

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own. August is the top month for travel and weddings, and I’m partnering with Target Wedding to tell you about my favorite unexpected adventure and how you can make your trip memorable with their wonderful products. By registering with Target Wedding before your big day, you’ll unlock endless possibilities and make it that much easier to experience your own unexpected journey! Since vacation is more enjoyable when you have the right gear to document all of those special moments, I have some great recommendations for you all. But first, let’s talk about my own unexpected adventures. MY UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE IN ITALY My journey starts with a Mediterranean cruise that B and I saved up for while living abroad in the UK. Because we moved to Scotland one week after our wedding and our first year of marriage […]


Filed Under: Giveaway, Travel26 Comments

6 ways to get over your fear of flying

6 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Flying

I’ve been on a lot of flights throughout my lifetime and although I love being up in the clouds now, I used to hate it — especially when I was younger. Since my past career involved travel between DC and district offices, and even trips for staff retreats, I started paying attention to my flight anxiety and how I could calm it. By the time we moved abroad to Scotland and decided to travel all over Europe on discount airlines, I had basically solved this issue. Well, until we flew on a creepy Ryanair flight to Dublin, but that’s another story. Here are 6 ways to get over your fear of flying: DISTRACT YOURSELF Take extra care when packing your carry-on suitcase and include things that you love. I always bring plenty of magazines, my Kindle with a couple of books already downloaded, a notepad and pen for jotting down random lists, […]


Filed Under: Anxiety, Travel24 Comments

why you should use kayak explore

Why You Should Use Kayak Explore

Kayak Explore has quickly become one of my favorite websites for travel now that we’re on a budget due to our mortgage payment. It’s a travel tool that allows you to browse for flights to different destinations all over the world so that you’re able to find something in your price-range, and as long as you’re a bit flexible when it comes to timing and the location, you’ll have a blast booking travel this way. Here’s why you should use Kayak Explore: YOU’LL SAVE MONEY The obvious reason is that you’ll find cheap flights to fun places. Instead of becoming completely horrified when I have the urge to travel and find that a certain destination doesn’t work with our budget (like, at all), I go straight to Kayak Explore to see what we can afford. The website gives me reasonable round-trip options which is wonderful since air travel has become so expensive over the […]


Filed Under: Travel21 Comments

a weekend in wyoming

Weekend in Wyoming

Today Morgan from The Misadventures of Morgan is sharing her favorite things to do in Wyoming. Since I’m dying to go to Yellowstone National Park to visit Old Faithful, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Enjoy! When I was younger, I was utterly confused by the amount of people who would flock to Wyoming during their summer vacation. Having grown up in the state, I found it to be quite flat and boring. It wasn’t until I had moved away for a while that I realized how great the Cowboy State actually is. Classic case of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. Now that I’m back home, every weekend consists of a fun getaway to somewhere nearby. This is a state that I think everyone should experience at least once in his or her life. Yes, that means you! Are you ready to plan […]


Filed Under: Guest Post, Travel, Wyoming18 Comments

is times square worth the hassle?

Times Square is Worth the Hassle

You’ve all probably asked yourselves this question while planning a trip to New York City. Is Times Square worth the hassle? Well, I’m here to help you out. I’ll admit, I’ve visited Times Square on three different occasions and sometimes it really does cause you to feel claustrophobic and completely overwhelmed. There are tourists everywhere, traffic is so bad it’s laughable, vendors approach you with every tour bus deal under the sun, and the winding line for discounted Broadway tickets makes walking on the sidewalk impossible. But still, I choose to explore the area every single time because it’s so different from the Midwest or downtown DC — or any other place I’ve lived, for that matter. And for this reason I think that Times Square is worth the hassle… and the headaches you’ll probably develop while listening to the constant noise of car horns and tourists screaming for the […]


Filed Under: New York, Travel24 Comments

5 reasons to visit annapolis

Paddling Annapolis

Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, is a quaint waterfront city that packs a lot of old-world charm. It’s surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and home of the United States Naval Academy, so if you enjoy being near the water like my family, this is the place to be. And with some of the best seafood restaurants and shops in the area, you’ll never run out of things to do. Because I firmly believe everyone should stroll around this city, here are 5 reasons to visit Annapolis. THE WATERFRONT Let’s start with the most obvious reason: The Waterfront. Annapolis is surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and quite a few rivers so while you visit, you can enjoy sailing lessons, boating, fishing, Bay tours, and even charted cruises. Brandon and I already have future plans for the sailing school, and next time we visit, we’ll definitely take advantage of Schooner wine tasting cruises. […]


Filed Under: Maryland, Travel32 Comments

four corners monument

Four Corners Monument

Before you read this post, let me first apologize for the awkward photos. We had been driving for hours (I believe we put 1,700 miles on our car just that weekend), and the sun was extremely bright — hence the tired, squinty looks. And with that disclaimer, let’s get to it. We decided to check out Four Corners Monument while we were living in Arizona because some of B’s co-workers had mentioned the area. Plus, I really wanted to stand in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona at the same time. Four states at once… that sounds dirty. The monument area had picnic tables, benches, a stand selling fried bread, and Navajo vendors selling other handmade goods, and although the actual monument wasn’t that magnificent and the area was basically empty (aside from the random tourist), it was a fun experience. Plus, the drive was gorgeous! I can’t tell you […]


Filed Under: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Travel, Utah26 Comments

win a free trip to paris… and a bike tour for two

Win A Free Trip to Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities to visit so I was excited when Fat Tire contacted me about a travel giveaway for two. Because who wouldn’t want to win a free trip to Paris? The grand prize package includes airfare for two, airport transportation, a five night stay at the Fat Tire Flat, and an unlimited amount of exciting tours of Paris for two from all Fat Tire Bike Tours, Easy Pass Tours, City Segway Tours and Classic Walks of Paris selections, PLUS a customized itinerary. Needless to say, you’ll be able to explore the city in style and you’ll never be bored! All of the information for this giveaway is located on their website, and you can also enter below to win a Fat Tire Paris Bike Tour voucher for two people. You guys are going to bring me along when you win, right? a Rafflecopter giveaway Giveaway […]


Filed Under: France, Paris, Travel73 Comments

travel with oasis collections

Travel With Oasis Collections

You’ve decided on a destination and booked the plane tickets, now it’s time to find accommodations that meet your travel needs. Do you go with the practicality of a short-term apartment or the convenience of a hotel? Wouldn’t it be great if a company could bridge this gap? Travel lovers, meet Oasis Collections. Oasis Collections is a one-of-a-kind hospitality company that combines the authenticity of renting a private home with hotel-like services. This means that you’ll still have the ability to practice your frugality by cooking your own meals instead of restaurant hopping — all while experiencing the support from an on-the-ground team of people to make your vacation a breeze. Need someone to book tours, classes, airport transportation, restaurant reservations and other services? Their concierge service is included in the booking so you won’t have to deal with that. Worried about the properties? You shouldn’t be. Oasis Collections offers a handpicked portfolio of design-oriented apartments, homes and […]


Filed Under: Hotels, Sponsored Post, Travel7 Comments

visit hoover dam

Visit Hoover Dam

Welcome everyone. I am your dam guide, Rachel. Now I’m about to take you through a fully funtional powerplant, so please, no one wander off the dam tour and please take all the dam pictures you want… you get the point. I was going through Lightroom and completely forgot about all of these photos. We visited Hoover Dam on our way to Vegas from Scottsdale, Arizona and even though I had seen many photos online and glimpses of the dam in movies, I wasn’t prepared for the actual size of the structure. It’s huge! Hoover Dam is located right off of Highway 93 so it’s perfect for families traveling through the area, and extremely convenient because you’re able to drive your vehicle and park right next to the dam which is what we decided to do. I was also told that if you drive over the dam and walk back, […]


Filed Under: Arizona, Nevada, Travel26 Comments

relaxing holidays in europe

Relaxing Holidays in Europe

This post was made possible by Web Outreach Team. Sometimes when you come home from a vacation, you’re so tired that you feel like you need to get away again just to recuperate! It’s hugely important to come back from your holidays feeling rejuvenated and relaxed, and there are a number of wonderful cheap holidays throughout Europe which will give you that rested feeling you’re looking for from a break. SPA RELAXATION Europe has some of the best spa resorts in the world, and many hotels now provide an in-house spa service for guests, so you may not even need to leave the confines of your accommodation to treat yourself to a massage or facial. Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus is a particularly relaxing choice: set up on the hill looking down into Pissouri Bay and offering a village style retreat hotel experience, with the breath-taking scenery of Cyprus all […]


Filed Under: Sponsored Post, Travel5 Comments

new york city in instagram photos

New York City in Instagram photos

After we returned from New York City a week and a half ago, I was borderline obsessed with convincing my husband that we should pick up and move to the East Village neighborhood. We found 15+ awesome restaurants in the span of two blocks (we like to eat), plus drip coffee shops on each corner. Is this Heaven? No, it’s the East Village in all it’s glory. Then we looked up rent for a one bedroom apartment and had heart palpitations. We’ll keep our townhouse in the ‘burbs, thank you very much. Even though this area was our favorite to explore, there was a lot to see in NYC and the overall experience was great. Here is New York City in Instagram photos: Have you ever been?


Filed Under: Life's Little Moments, New York, Travel15 Comments

snapshots from great falls park virginia

Great Falls Park Virginia

The best part of living in Northern Virginia is the endless opportunity to explore the surrounding area. This means I’m never bored on the weekends, and I also have something to show family members when they come to visit. Most of my July vacation was spent in Georgetown and New York City, but my sister and I slipped away to Great Falls Park Virginia to snap some photographs and enjoy the gorgeous views. I would love to go back again for a picnic, but maybe in the fall when the weather is cooler and I can bring the dogs. The park entrance fee is $5 per vehicle or $3.00 per individual which is a great deal considering the number of overlooks, hiking trails, picnic tables, and optional visit to the informational center. You could easily spend half the day there with family and friends! Just wear tennis shoes because you’ll be […]


Filed Under: Travel, Virginia35 Comments

a local’s guide to london

A local's guide to London

Even though Jen doesn’t yet consider herself a London local, her guide to London is so thorough and helpful that I’m calling her one. I mean, look at the detail of this guide! Her suggestions are wonderful so be sure to bookmark this page before your next vacation to London. And let’s give it up for Jen of Lady, Relocated! I’ve now lived in London for 9 months as Rachel mentioned in her most recent weekend postcard. I don’t consider myself a local but I have graduated myself to tour guide status. I’ve had several visitors rely on me for London ideas so I’ve refined my suggestions to a point I’m finally comfortable sharing. These recommendations are meant for first time London visitors who want to see highlights and squeeze in as much as possible during a short timeframe. I’ve also included some helpful resources from travelers much more experienced than me […]


Filed Under: England, Guest Post, Travel23 Comments

exploring sedona arizona

Bell Rock Sedona

Recently, I’ve been looking back on our photos from Arizona. Because I grew up surrounded by corn fields in Iowa, moved to busy Washington, DC after college, and then to green and lush Scotland after that, being in the desert was such a huge change for me. When you’re used to being surrounded by some sort of greenery, experiencing a landscape of tan, red, and orange is strange. And it’s even stranger when an Iowan like me is among cacti. That was weird. Since my husband and I sold both of our cars before moving abroad, we only had one vehicle for a while after moving back to the states. I remember driving Brandon to his office in Scottsdale and seeing wild horses roaming around the desert. I found everything about it to be crazy… and beautiful… and I wanted one of those damn horses! One of our favorite adventures […]


Filed Under: Arizona, Travel43 Comments

the best camera straps for travel

Best Camera Straps for Travel

Whenever I bring my camera with me during our travels, the thought of someone stealing all of my stuff is constantly in the back of my mind. My camera and all the gear that goes along with this very expensive hobby/profession is worth a pretty penny and it would take me a while to save up enough money to replace everything. Like, a really long time. That’s why I think it’s important to follow a few steps to ensure your gear is safe, and do simple things like switch out the camera strap you’re currently using. There are a few issues with the strap that comes with your camera body and here’s why (and why I think that iMo has the best camera straps for travel): 1. Uncomfortable. Have you ever walked hours on end with a camera digging into your shoulder? It’s not pleasant. That’s why I’ve made the […]


Filed Under: Photography, Travel, Travel Essentials19 Comments

ugobags customizable luggage

Ugobags Customizable Luggage

I had the opportunity to review UGOBAGS customizable luggage and instantly fell in love with my unique piece when it arrived on my doorstep. My customized carry-on made travel way more interesting and I can’t tell you how many flight attendants complimented the logo and colors I used. Plus, it was easy to spot in the overhead compartment which is important to me. I usually pack my DSLR in my carry-on suitcase, so my UGOBAGS white hard shell and brightly colored straps prevented panic as I was trying to find my suitcase a few rows up. I could easily keep an eye on my belongings and felt stylish rolling down the plane aisle and around the airport. c/o UGOBAGS Not only are you able to customize almost every part of the suitcase including the size and handle colors, your able to choose the color of your wheels as well. Since […]


Filed Under: Travel, Travel Essentials20 Comments

20 things only travelers will understand

20 Things Only Travelers Will Understand

1. Some people avoid living near the airport — you; however, love being in the flight path. The sound of large planes rocks you to sleep and it’s oh-so-convenient being five short minutes away from an international airport. Sometimes you stare out the window and wonder where each plane is headed to. 2. You feel more comfortable traveling with a small backpack than a large suitcase. You have no problem re-wearing several outfits while exploring different countries and the thought of hauling around multiple bags stresses you out. While some of your friends pack clothes for every occasion, bring their makeup collection, shoes, and their entire supply of beauty products, you don’t even bring a hair dryer. 3. You don’t bring enough clothes for a trip but you don’t skimp on electronics. Stashed away in your carry-on is a DSLR, GoPro, laptop, iPad, camcorder, and other devices to document your […]


Filed Under: Travel36 Comments

visiting dachau

Visiting Dachau Nazi Concentration Camp

This isn’t a happy travel story like the many other posts on my blog — it’s quite the opposite actually. But it’s something that I wanted to share on my website because although most tourists are interested in Oktoberfest and the Marienplatz while in Munich, I believe it’s just as crucial to visit the not-so-fun-and-happy sites like the Nazi concentration camps. The experience is heavy and sobering, and although it’s difficult to comprehend that something as horrific as this actually occurred, it’s important to pay our respects. People need to first handedly learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly stuff that happens in our world instead of just reading about it in a textbook, and that’s why I think everyone should visit a concentration camp. It was part of my high school choir group’s agenda and then I went again with my husband years later. We decided that visiting […]


Filed Under: Germany, Travel41 Comments

grand canyon national park

Grand Canyon Rocks

I can’t believe it has been 14 whole months since we left Arizona. Our corporate rotation was a whirlwind to say the least, and it just dawned on me that I haven’t even shared any photographs from our awe-inspirig trip to Grand Canyon National Park. When we first visited the park while living in Arizona, we drove around with Malcolm (our Westie) on the Desert View Drive scenic route and made a ton of stops to check out the sites. This was a quick way to take everything in, and since it was so hot on that day, it was nice to hop back into the air conditioned vehicle. We also talked to visitors from at least five different countries and they all had the same sentiment — wow, a place like this actually exists. Not only is the depth somewhat terrifying (we seriously saw a guy hiking on top […]


Filed Under: Arizona, Travel20 Comments

a stroll through georgetown

While Jodi was here visiting a few weekends ago, we went on a stroll through Georgetown on our way to have brunch at J Paul’s, and also because we wanted to find Baked & Wired cupcakes and Sweetgreen frozen yogurt. Because clearly all great weekends are centered around food. That’s what I think, at least. Not only does this area have plenty of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and stores, but there are tons of brightly-colored rowhouses to drool over. I think this will be the next area we move to. ;) Have you ever visited this area?


Filed Under: Travel, Washington DC44 Comments