• Things To Know When Visiting Costa Rica

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.


    It rains and it’s humid. Like REALLY humid.

    I know Costa Rica rains.. hence their rainforests. I did not know that it rained so much too the point where I don’t remember being completely dry. My hair… my skin… my clothes.. EVERYTHING was moist the whole week I was there. I’ve been in humidity, but sometimes I forget how sticky it can be. My recommendation is DO NOT where form fitting shorts, because you WILL have a terrible time trying to put them back on once the humidity has kicked in.

    They take USD

    No need to change your USD currency if you will be visitng popular tourist destinations. $1 was equal to $500 Colones when I was there. Fairly straight forward to buy items, your change will just come back to you in Colones. I personally still enjoy changing my currency. I like to think it makes me look more local.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    It’s not as cheap as you think it would be

    Speaking of money… be warned.. Costa Rica is not a budget traveker’s paradise. Sure you can buy a meal for about $5 – $8 bucks at a local Soda (small hole in the wall spot). The downside to Sodas is that they are not commonly located in the capital. In the capital, where I stayed, the prices were equivaletn to the United States. Sometimes I would catch a break and buy street empanadas or meat on a stick for a low cost, but that was only sometimes. The hotels, transportation and tours were all still relatively pricey. Not a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

    The Capital (San Jose) is pretty centrally located. Centrally FAR.

    I wish I had time to bum around on a small beach town, but alas, I only had 1 week. Instead of being isolated on a beautiful beach, I opted to see as much of the country as I possibly could in a short amount of time. I chose to stay in San Jose which was centrally located to the sites I wanted to see. Now, if you want to follow in my foot steps, I must warn you that just because it was central, doesn’t mean it was close to anything. San Jose was roughly 2 hours away from anything of natural beauty. It’s a sweet location for some people, but I know all that travel time is not ideal for all. I personally enjoyed it.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    Bring Bug Spray and Sunblock

    I don’t get bug bites and sun burns are a foreign concept to me… but my best friend was with me and ended up with about 25 bug bites and some gorgeous looking sun burns. In fairness, I used sunblock too. But not because I burn, but because I don’t want cancer.

    You need to like animals

    Costa Rica is full of wild animals who have integrated their natural habitat to that of their surroundings. For the most part, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. As a matter of fact, the locals don’t like you bothering them, so don’t. But if you’re calm and steady, you can see some real gems! You have more luck seeing animals when near the rainforest versus the city. For example, I saw the most animals when I was hiking through Manuel Antonio, their National Park and also Pacuare River when I was river rafting. Some animals I saw are pictured below! (But I definitely saw more than what is pictured.)

    It's a sloth in a tree!

    It’s a sloth in a tree!


    A deer! A female! Ray... a drop of golden sun...

    A deer! A female! Ray… a drop of golden sun…


    It's Marcel from Friends!

    It’s Marcel from Friends!

    Pura Vida

    Last but not least, be ready to learn the Pura Vida lifestyle! Pura Vida is a saying meaning Pure Life, but it really means anything positive. It means, have a nice day, thank you, you’re amazing, enjoy your stay, have a great life, best wishes, cheers, you’re a rock star… you get the deal? The Costa Rican people are happy and kind and you’ll have the best experience possible if you let their lifestyle find a place in your heart too.

    PURA VIDA!

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio

  • All Toll Roads Lead To Miami

    Welcome to Little Havana! Miami street art!

    Welcome to Little Havana! Miami street art!

    When I planned my Florida escapade it was for the sole purpose of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! But after I realized how much time I had, I decided to explore what else the Sunshine Stae had to offer. Without a full minute’s thought, the first answer was Miami!!! So what if it was 3.5 hours away from where I was staying… so what if I could only be in the city for about 6 hours? It would be worth it right? RIGHT? Yes… and no.

    NO

    1. The 3.5 hour drive turned in to a 5 hour drive because of the terrible rain. And YES! It was my idea to power through the rain, but who knew it would be so scary?

    A quick glance of that crazy Floriday rain!

    A quick glance of that crazy Floriday rain!

    2. TOLL ROADS! TOLL ROADS! TOLL ROADS!!! Goodness gracious. Be prepared to pay at least $15 EACH WAY when driving from Orlando to Miami. Be prepared to pay toll roads in general when in south Florida. It was stupid how many there were and some even need exact change!! AHHHH! Be warned!
    3. If you’re not going for the party scene… arriving in the evening can be kinda underwhelming.. womp womp…actually arriving late in the evening was a bummer regardless because I didn’ even get t see the beach. *SIGH*

    YES

    1. I can say I’ve been to Miami and experienced Little Havana. (And see some of Calle Ocho street art.)
    2. Some of the food at Versaille’s Restaurant was underwhelming, but their Cuban Coffee (colada) and flan delivered!

    Cuban Flan and Cuban Coffee aka Colada from Versailles Restaurant.

    Cuban Flan and Cuban Coffee aka Colada from Versailles Restaurant.

    3. I love looking at pretty houses and Miami and South Beach have a bunch of those!
    4. Even though I wasn’t there to party, it was a Friday night and you can totally get a feel for the vibe of the city! It’s definitely enough to make you want to give it another chance.
    5. I got to use my (limited) Spanish skills in Little Havana and felt totally local and boss.

    So overall… I have no opinion on Miami and that’s rare for me to say. I didn’t experience it long it enough to love it, hate it, or judge it. I think given more time and maybe better conditions (both weather and mental preparation of toll roads), I would have a clearer idea of what Miami is and what it has to offer.

    So tell me! Am I missing out on the Miami madness? Or did I dodge a bullet?

  • Harry Potter and The Theme Park That Took All Of My Money

    Hogwart's Castle within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Hogwart’s Castle within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    So. It finally happened for me. I finally… went… to.. THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!!!!! Words can’t truly sum up the emotion this created for me. In life, the top two things I love are, 2. London and 1. Harry Potter. Needless to say, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter had me bursting at the seams with joy. In a nutshell, I ran the whole way from the entrance of Universal Studios until the entrance of Harry Potter World (except for 10 minutes I had to wait before the park actually opened). Once I was actually in front of the Islands of Adventure entrance… I broke down. From huge smile to crying face in 2 seconds flat. I was. just. so. damn. happy.

    Part of Hogsmeade

    Part of Hogsmeade

    So now, about the park. If you love Harry Potter, it’s a Godsend, If you don’t like Harry Potter, you will.High five to Universal because both areas, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, look damn near identical to the movies. The buildings have that magical charm and Hogwarts Castle, takes my breath away.

    Just like most theme parks, the rides inside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter can get LONG. But that’s ok! As long as you hit up The Forbidden Journey first thing in the morning, you only need to wait maybe 20 minutes. (I did, at least.) The Forbidden Journey is located inside of the Hogwarts Castle and they do a fine job of bringing to life some of my favorite aspects of Hogwarts. That would be.. the talking painting, the Fat Lady, the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, the defense against the dark arts classroom, and the entrance to The Room of Requirements, to name a few.

    The entrance to Dumbledore's office.

    The entrance to Dumbledore’s office.

    So the ride is a 4D ride.. you’re in a little ‘carriage” that follows a giant screen. Think Disney Haunted Mansion, except faster and with a screen in front of you. I personally loved it, but be warned, some get motion sickness. I just so happen to love roller coasters, so it worked out for me. If you love it, be sure to ride it again! I went 4 times.

    The Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge are both within the Hogsmeade park, and they’re great! Especially Dragon Challenge. But the other ultra popular Harry Potter Ride is Escape From Gringotts on the Universal side. Similar to The Forbidden Journey in both experience and wait time, this was my second favorite line to wait in. You can see the goblins working and snap some pictures of the inside of Gringotts, aka one of the safest places in the Wizarding World. The true highlight of this ride though, is the dragon on the OUTSIDE of the building that breathes fire every few minutes. Talk about realistic right?

    The dragon of Gringotts

    The dragon of Gringotts

    Now, I talked about the items that come with your admission ticket, but that’s not the only thing you die hard Harry Potter fans will send your money on. The souvenirs are top notch. Each shop has something different to offer. There’s candy at Honeydukes, quidditch must haves from the Quidditch Supply Store, things that make you giggle from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a wand from Ollivander’s,  and dark magic items from Borgin and Burke. I bought something from every store! (Not to mention food… which I will have to talk about in a completely different post.)

    Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley

    Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley

    So needless to say, bring all the money $$$ because this park does a damn good job of making you spend it, and it will take it happily. In fairness though, it’s worth every penny for the Potterheads out there who want to bring home as much magic as possible. 🙂

    The best way to really understand what I’m talking about is to see an experience everything first hand and I HIGHLY suggest you do so. Don’t wait 5 years like I did! But when you finally make it to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, let me give you some pro tips.

    1. As mentioned, get to The Forbidden Journey ASAP. Do this also for Escape From Gringotts (Preferably go at least two days so you can prioritize appropriately.)
    2. Travel light throughout the park, save souvenirs for the last day because you will HAVE to put your personal items inside of lockers before you get on a ride. Kinda annoying, but rules are rules.
    3. The line for the Hogwart’s Express, which connects Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley can get crazy long. You will be tempted to just walk to each park, but DON’T! It’s not just a train to and from, it’s an experience. So just like the popular rides above, do this early or really late, so you can ride it both ways.

      Just got off the Hogwarts Express.

      Just got off the Hogwarts Express.

    4. I know I just said don’t walk… BUT if you do, be sure to stop next to the entrance of the Hogwart’s Express on the Universal side. Even if you don’t walk, just come out of Diagon Alley and do this…. Go visit 12 Grimmauld Place. You may see Sirius Black! Or at least you’ll see the Knight Bus.

      12 Grimmauld Place.

      12 Grimmauld Place.

    5. Knockturn Alley isn’t meant to be easy to find and most tourists actually can’t find it. For Orlando, it’s at a dead end in the park with the smallest sign that will point you in the right direction. Take the time to find it. When you get there, it’s like another new world. When I went, there were only 5 other tourists in the dark area. It was also storming with lighting which added to the creepy effect of Knockturn Alley, You may also see something Draco fixed….

      The Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes.

    6. As mentioned with the storm, don’t let the rain scare you! Most people leave because of the rain and this is the best time to tough it out at the park. Buy a poncho, and keep at it. The crowds will thin, but you’re fun will only increase! Besides, nothing feels more like London, than a rainy night. 🙂

    I know this post was a tad long… but like mentioned in the start, I love Harry Potter… and now you all know a snippet of what I mean by that. Stay tuned for more information about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the amazing food it has to offer. Tell me, have you been to this park? What did you think?

  • 10 Things Only Travel Can Give You This Christmas

    Many people buy their Christmas gifts from Amazon or their local retailer, but this year I’ve realized the best gifts come from travel. Actually, there are some things ONLY travel can give you this Christmas. The gifts are not only one of a kind but truly beautiful to behold. The list can go on forever, but let’s focus on 10 of the,.

    10. Sense of Wonder

    Every time I visit some place new, I don’t just check an item off my bucket list, it means I have room to add even more. The world never ceases to amaze me. Traveling shows you just how little you actually know and how much more there is to learn. Travel ensures you never become an expert in anything.

    LOGO

    9. Problem Solving Skills

    No trip goes completely as planned. Things happen, or things don’t happen. Either way, YOU NEED TO FIGURE IT OUT. You have no choice and in a way, that’s the best part. You are forced to learn and those problem solving skills are totally transferable in the rest of your life.

    8. Tolerance & Understanding

    When you travel, you are exposed to many new people, places and the cultures that go with it. Usually, no place is like home and it gives you a peak in to the rest of the world.. The more you travel the more open minded you become. When you are out in the world you are usually the outsider in a new place hoping the locals will tolerate and understand you, and the role reversal is something that stays with you when you return home.

    7. Stronger Sense of Self

    You need to know who you are when you are with people who know nothing about you. They can’t tell you who you are, it is up to you to decide who that person is. Traveling has made me personally so much stronger in spirit and mind. It’s also given me so much confidence because I know I can trust myself and I can do anything I put my mind to without the help of the crutches of my daily life and resources.

    Getting ready for the Canyon Dream Tour!

    Getting ready for the Canyon Dream Tour!

    6. Stronger Bonds With Friends

    As I just mentioned, traveling strengthens the relationship you have with yourself, but it also solidifies those with you y=travel companions. I think  my best friends are those I travel with. Those are the people who you know will stick with you through thick or thin, when plans don’t go your way. Travel gives you shared memories that will never go away.

    5. A Break From Routine

    Routine can get dull… fast. Travel is not routine. Even if you feel like you travel often and “do the same things in different places” my response to that is, do you really though? The answer is no. A break from routine can be such a breath of fresh air that can give life to your real life.

    Street BBQ

    4. Bragging Rights

    Let’s be real for a moment. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE loves to tell people the cool places they’ve been, the sweet things they have done and how badass their life is. Trust me. I mean EVERYONE. You know what that is called? Bragging rights. You know what travel gives you in spades? Bragging rights. Paris? Yeah I’ve been there. The Grand Canyon? Like five times! London? I lived there. Beaches in the Philippines? Of course, I winter there. …. See what I mean? Pretty cool right?

    3. Appreciation of Daily Necessities

    If you ever explore outside of the USA (since that is where I live) you will realize how good you have it here. (In fairness, it’s pretty good in Europe too) but I mean to Southeast Asia… or South America… many of these places don’t have the luxuries that I have at home. Running water, a great bathroom, air conditioning or a heater. Things I took for granted once upon a time, I no longer do. You can often find me in the shower saying “Man, I love running hot water.”

    2. Finding Happiness at Home

    Seeing the world is amazing, but so is coming home. Every time I leave Las Vegas and find my way back, I think I love home a little more. I love it because it does not trap me. Travel has made me realize that although there is only one place on my address, I can be a citizen of the world. However, just like the saying goes, if you love something, set it free, If it comes back it is mean to be. Well I keep finding myself back in Las Vegas and travel has made me OK with calling it home.

    Home Sweet Home

    Home Sweet Home

    1. Inner Peace

    Everything listed above, all combined gives me the greatest gift of all… inner peace. I am so happy and thankful for everything I am able to do and see in the world and experience at home. Travel has given me a chance to slowly ensure I don’t live with regrets and honestly, what is better than that?

     

    Meditating on a Philippine Beach

    Meditating on a Philippine Beach

    Go forth! Travel and receives the best gifts that it has to offer you!

  • Stay Warm When Traveling

    Wear layers like socks, tights and a skirt

    Wear layers like socks, tights and a skirt

    I was born in the Philippines with warm weather year round, and now live in desert of Las Vegas where the summers can reach 110 F degrees. I know how to beat the heat, but surviving the cold can be a challenge. Sure, Las Vegas can have winters that dip to about 15 F degrees, but that is rare. We hardly see rain and snow is a once, maybe twice in a lifetime situation. With that said, I had to learn how to keep myself warm when traveling to cool locations. Now keep in mind this post is about staying ward when traveling to somewhere COLD, not somewhere freezing! 😉

    Keep It Light

    You never want to carry the heaviest coats when you travel. It weighs down your suitcase and is an overall burden. You should choose light jackets and shirts. For myself, I like long sleeve thermals and long sleeve dresses. I also opt for leggings versus jeans. Also, when choosing your jackets, picking something water resistant is the better choice because then you don’t have to bring an umbrella. But, if you absolutely HAVE to HAVE a heavier jacket, make sure you wear it on the plane as opposed to packing it.

    Thick leggings, sweater and leather jacket with high boots

    Thick leggings, sweater and leather jacket with high boots

    Layer

    As stated above, packing lightly means you have room to layer! Go crazy with it! The beautiful thing about layering is you don’t have to buy clothes specifically for the cold. For example, a tank top under a long sleeve shirt under a sweater under a light jacket. See where I’m going with this? It works with the pants too. I like to do tights under leggings, with high socks.

    Shoes

    Your shoes are king. Picking the right shoes can make or break your cold weather experience. Choose something that is water resistant that way it can stand whatever the weather may throw at you. Also, choose something comfortable enough you can layer your socks in. Lastly, a high boot is excellent to add extra coverage to keep you warm. Just like the recommendation with the heavy jacket, if you are packing multiple shoes, make sure you are wearing the heaviest pair to and from your flying destination.

    Dress up your look with patterned tights, nice sweater and jewelry.

    Dress up your look with patterned tights, nice sweater and jewelry.

    Accessories

    Last but certainly not least, your accessories. This means your hats, scarves, mittens. All of these are important! They cover the last bits of you that really help keep you warm. Stating the obvious, these would be your head, neck and chest and of course your hands! I don’t think I need to elaborate. 🙂

    I hope these tips were helpful! Last word of advice is don’t forget to pack something that can be both casual and dressy. Just in case you want to mix it up. So what are your tips for cold weather? What does your favorite outfit look like?

  • Stay Awake On A Road Trip

    RoadtripLiving in the United States means that many amazing destinations are within driving distance. For me, the downside is that I have a difficult time staying awake on lengthy drives. I am actually notorious for doing so. Recently though, the road trip to Colorado and the Four Corners became a possibility and I needed to stay awake for an 8 hour drive… each way. So… the sleeping beauty that I can be needed a plan to stay awake the whole time. Most of it was trial and error but below is a formula of what I realized works best for me.

    Sleep

    Roadtrip SleepIt seems like common sense to get sleep before a road trip… but I figured I should add it to the list since I have been in a situation where I got NO SLEEP and completely hated life the whole time. So… get some sleep. Take a nap. Make sure you get sustainable shut eye. If you need to pull over and sleep…. do so!

    Food

    Roadtrip FoodSnacks! Tons and tons of snacks. It not only keeps you fed but it entertains you. It forces you to multitask and stay more engaged while driving. For me personally, I discovered that hot cheetos are magic. They are crunchy and spicy. It’s hard to fall asleep if your mouth is on fire!

    Caffeine

    Roadtrip CaffeineI love coffee. I love caffeine. I tend to go crazy overboard when driving. I like to start with a coffee before I leave or as soon as I start driving and I tend to pick up an energy drink or two for every 3 hours. It seems excessive, but as I said, I fall asleep.

    Music

    Roadtrip MusicWhatever you are listening to needs to be entertaining. Happy music makes for a happy driver. I spend plenty of time creating a playlist but if I’m feeling lazy, Disney movie music is a solid go to. I also occasionally enjoy listening to stand up comedy and audio books.

    Timing

    Roadtrip TimingAs they say, timing is everything. That goes for long distance driving. I find that for myself, leaving mid morning and driving into the mid afternoon OR leaving mid afternoon into early evening works best for me. There is definitely more traffic but those are the hours of the day when I am most alert.

    Friends

    Roadtrip FriendsHave a good friend with you! All the above does not compare to having a buddy with you while you drive. They are entertaining and keep you alert. It’s also a great time to bond and reconnect with them. Just make sure that the friend you choose isn’t a sleepy human. 😉

    Roadtrip SafeI’m excited I have finally come up with a list for myself that actually works and I hope someone out there finds this interesting and helpful! Now I can’t wait until my next road trip. The possibilities are limitless now that I can keep my eyes open for hours on end. Where is your favorite road trip worthy destination? What is the longest you have driven?

  • Stay Fly… When You Fly

    What to wear when you fly...

    What to wear when you fly…

    Let’s face it. Everyone has seen that person who just doesn’t look like they have it together when they are at the airport. Ladies.. (sorry gents… I don’t have guy styling tips at this time) don’t be that person. It’s super easy to be fly and functional at the airport and on your flight!

    Clothing

    You don’t have to live in sweat pants and a hoodie to be comfortable and you don’t need a tube top and skin tight jeans either. Wear something comfortable like a long maxi dress, leggings or even shorts (if your destination is somewhere warm). If wearing leggings or shorts a loose shirt is best to pair with it. But the real secret is to ALWAYS bring a jacket or something long sleeved. I love bringing over an sized, light sweater that can easily come on and off as needed throughout the flight that can even double as a blanket! 🙂 Also, it helps if your clothing has nothing metallic on it. Security will appreciate it.

    Maxi dress, slip on shoes and an over sized sweater.

    Maxi dress, slip on shoes and an over sized sweater.

    Shoes

    Avoid the heels and lace up tennis shoes. Heels are not practical and lace up tennis shoes take up too much time at the security gate. Do not be that person who holds up the line to untie and tie their sneakers. Stick to a few basics. Flip flops, ballet flats or an equivalent slip on shoe like Toms <3 or if it’s a little chilly… UGGs. That’s right. I said UGGs. They are comfortable and can be cute if worn correctly.

    Leggings, t-shirt, over sized sweater and UGGS!

    Leggings, t-shirt, over sized sweater and UGGs!

    Accessories

    Keep it minimal. Don’t wear jewelry if you can avoid it. It’s a pain to take off and put back on at the metal detector. Once again.. you don’t want security trying to tackle you… or.. do you???? I avoid wearing metal to the point that if I put my hair up, I only use hair ties. I do bring a pair of sunglasses with me, so I can wear them on the plane if I want to sleep, but I keep those in my bag until I am on the plane. Speaking of bags, you are usually allowed a personal item and I try to use the biggest bag I have or backpack so I can stuff as much stuff in it as possible. Having just one large item is better than two, since it helps you look less like a crazy bag lady.

    Shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve flannel and slip on shoes.

    Shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve flannel and slip on shoes.

    I travel fairly often and my skills have come to me over the past few years of trial and error. I hope you found my scientific formula to looking fly on a plane helpful! Feel free to tweak it and make it your own. Let me know in the comments what your favorite outfit is when you fly!

    Safe flying!

  • I Fly Southwest

    Southwest Airlines

    I fly Southwest Airlines

    I fly Southwest Airlines .I never thought I would say these words… “I missed my flight.” In all my years of travel and all my work experience and personal paranoia, it finally happened. I missed my flight home from Oakland, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. A series of unfortunate events occurred that eventually lead to me missing my Southwest flight by about 15 minutes, and of course, it was the last flight for the evening.

    So what is a girl to do? I had to get my Concierge hat on and figure it out. I had to get home, I had work in the morning! First step, I tried to call Southwest directly to see what my options were. The call center agent wasn’t overly helpful and informed me that although there was no rescheduling fee, I would have to pay the difference in cost between my two flights. This wouldn’t have been the worst case ever, but since I was already at the airport with Ashley, (who was the credit card holder), we figured it would be best to talk to an agent in person.

    The ticketing agents at the Oakland airport were such lovely people and in my opinion, much more helpful than the agents available over the phone. They explained the protocol of missing a flight through Southwest Airlines. It goes like this: you get put on standby for the next two flights until a seat becomes and you usually do have to pay the price difference. However, since they did not have a flight available that evening, they would put me on the first direct flight out AND guarantee me a seat since they were not fully booked. They also waived the price difference! Can you believe that? Talk about turning a potential nightmare into a mild inconvenience.

    In conclusion, if you are ever running late for a flight, let it be a Southwest flight! Also, if you can, talk to an agent in person since they are usually able to accommodate you a little bit better than over the phone. Regardless, never no call no show for a flight! If you miss your flight and never call or talk to an agent, they do not automatically reschedule your flight. You lose your flight and your money. So if you can’t take the time to catch your flight, at least find the time to contact them.

    Lessons learned on my part! 🙂 Happy flying everyone! Remember, I fly Southwest Airlines… and you should too.

    Their nice response to my comment about their service.

    Their nice response to my comment about their service.