Traveling with Airbnb!!

So you travel bugs…. Have any of you tried Airbnb yet? For those of you that don’t know Airbnb, you need to. Airbnb is going to REVOLUTIONIZE traveling! Airbnb is taking the concept of couch-surfing to the next level. You rent out a room in someone’s home like you would a hotel room. Now sounds awkward right? I was skeptical, but after trying it I don’t know that I will ever book a regular hotel room again!

When I searched for hotels for this visit to Encinitas, California I noticed the hotels had jumped fifty plus dollars. For a gross Motel 6 we were looking at one hundred and For 99$ we rented out this private entrance guest room. The room and bathroom had everything we needed shampoo and conditioner, fresh spring water, beach towels, and a fan. On Airbnb there were cheaper options, but I wanted a room with a private entrance and within walking distance of the beach.

Airbnb also has options to rent out entire homes for reasonable prices. In thailand and Brazil you can rent out entire homes for less then thrity bucks. WHAT… is right! Did that make you think you need to go to Thailand now or what????

My initial concern was the lack of privacy, which wasn’t a problem at all! Our hosts Chris and Ashley were very friendly and provided us with numbers to reach them and told us to knock for any questions. Other then that we saw them in passing as we did our own thing.

The benefit of using Airbnb is having the luxury of knowing all the local secrets!

Chris sent us a text each morning of our stay with all his suggestions for eating, activities, and must see areas. This is how we discovered the BEST fish tacos in this world, a local farmers market, and and an Indian coffee bar where we ordered this Cardamon Latte! All places we never would have come across on our own!!

 

Another super cool part of our experience was learning about the culture and history of Encinitas. Now keep in mind I literally don’t care for history at all. Chris talked about Yogananda (an enlightened mind) who lived and wrote life changing books about yoga, self realization, and meditation. I noticed the community was surrounded by not only a positive vibe but happy healthy people that I was drawn to. Chris and Ashley talked about “The vibrations” that bring us back to Encinitas time after time. Normally I would think it was a load of crap but the weird thing is, I am so drawn to Encinitas and the ocean and as I thought about that I wondered why and took that into consideration.

A cool place with such beautiful culture!

Another thing I considered as I listened to them talk about their lives and their culture there I remembered an experience I had the last time we visited. We visited Moonlight Beach early in the morning before we had to leave and it was foggy but I didn’t care. I got in by myself because the water was too cold for my husband. Anyways minutes after I got in it started pouring rain (If you know me you know I LOVE the rain) and the water calmed to soft waves. I floated and rode the waves in as the rain soaked my face and I was surrounded by fog . I can’t explain it but it was literally the most beautiful spiritual moment of my life! Sounds dumb but I swear.

Then of course this was the morning we left. Encinitas is once again mourning my departure! If you have the chance to visit Encinitas please do. Such a beautiful experience! Since leaving Encintas I’ve read a lot about self realization ,yoga, and eating healthy and I’ve tried to start on my own yoga journey. I’m hoping to channel some of their positive energy into my life and so far, I Love it! You can find inspiration to change and work on yourself anywhere but this time I found it using Airbnb! What a cool way to meet new people and to learn new things… I can’t wait to try it again!

Xoxo  Thanks for reading!

Kaylee

 

Best Travel Souvenirs!!

One of my favorite parts of traveling is finding the perfect souvenir.  Not only for myself, but for my friends and family. For me, a great souvenir can make me feel like I’m not still in Arizona for a moment. Isn’t that the point? We want to remember our travels and the feelings we had during them. These are my top four souvenirs that are fun to collect and you can do really cool things with them.

1.  License Plates. On our honeymoon they were selling these all over the island. We bought a couple to give away and a one for us. I used mine in my honeymoon shadowbox and it’s ADORABLE in there. It would be cool to start a license plate wall or to border a room with them!

This is my honeymoon shadowbox.

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2. Shotglasses. Very fun to collect and such a cheap souvenir. We display ours on a shelf. When it’s party time bring them all out for everyone to enjoy! Different locations make so many cool and unique ones. On our honeymoon, we bought a ton of hand painted ones they were selling on the side of the road!

 

3. Coffee Mugs. This one is pretty self explanatory. I love my coffee. Every morning I drink it. When I pull out one of my mug souvenirs and pour  my coffee it literally makes my heart beat. I’m working on a wooden display in my kitchen to hang them on for all to see. My favorite!

4. Postcards. This one is pretty obvious and everyone already knows about it. But postcards are so perfect for scrapbooking , hanging on the fridge, or putting them in a photo album. Let’s get real, those pictures on the front are way better then you could do on your own!

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My travel scrapbook!

Thanks again for reading ladies! Have a great week. I’m preparing for a vacation to the beach with my honey this weekend. Can’t wait!!!

xoxo,

Kaylee

St. Martin, Caribbean Paradise

St. Martin/ St. Marteen . . . This beautiful island is where my husband and i spent our honeymoon. First of all, can you believe this water? Yes, it all looks like this. Clear and green, literally the most beautiful beaches in the world. St. Martin is a Virgin Island located near St. Barts. This island is unique because it belongs to two different countries. One half is French, the other is Dutch. That is part of what makes this island so culturally different. We found the locals to mostly keep to themselves, most of them were very unapproachable. The American dollar is accepted island wide, but make sure to have lots of cash with you. Cabs, hotel transportation and staff, boat workers, food service and activity directors all work off tips.  Also in most of the grocery stores they require you to spend at least twenty dollars to use a credit card. I would suggest having a rental car. There are “Taxis” on the island but they are more like unregistered vans that drive people around. We rented through Dollar Thrifty and had no problems. The roads are very narrow and the locals do as they please. We were almost ran off the road a couple times and had a couple close calls with the scooters that don’t use any specific side of the road. Ha ha, talk about an adventure!

This picture was taken at our hotel, Little Divi Bay. This was our private hotel beach. It was so nice to have a hotel with a beach within walking distance. After being at the beach all day, we’d spend time in our room and relax. Within an hour I would start missing the water and walk the fifty feet to the beach. It. Was. Amazing!!!

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Let’s start with the local rum everyone is obsessed with from there. The obsession is only validated after you try it. They sell it all over the island in all kinds of different flavors, but the classic is Guava-berry. You can find Guava-berry Pina Coladas at almost any restaurant, but if you’re into making your own there is a recipe on the bottle. The rum is also available to order online. The cheapest we found it on the island was nineteen dollars. Nothing makes you feel like you’re in paradise like having one of these on the beach!

The most famous beach on the island is called Maho Beach. This beach is famous for being right in front of the landing strip for the airport. Yes, these planes literally fly right over your head. It is exhilarating! The beach is a must see but tends to be very crowded. Don’t try and park right next to the beach, all the cars pile up and it’s hard to get out. We parked a block away and just walked. The Beach gets especially crowded right before the airplanes take off. There is a little beach bar at Maho Beach that makes an amazing five dollar Guava-berry Colada during happy hour!

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There are a couple key things to remember while visiting this island. The people here are mostly very poor. They all work at the hotels you’re staying at, the activities you are paying for, and the restaurants you eat at. One thing we found on our visit is to stay away from the popular Americanized “touristy” restaurants. We tried quite a few and were disappointed. If you want good local food try out a little shack, or even the nice family you pass on the street selling food out of their yard. It sounds sketchy, but you want the full island experience, right?

Little Jerusalem (pictured above) is located by Simpson Bay, and was our favorite place by far. We ended up eating here three nights straight. The owner was so incredibly kind! He started our first visit out with this, “Do you want something good, or REALLY good?”. Of course I said really good and good thing I did because whatever he made us tasted incredible! The next night we came back and got the same meat but did a sampling of a ton of other things. The plate had curry rice, pita, hummus, yogurt sauce, lemon and parsley potatoes, and the BBQ meat he made us. I’ve been craving this food ever since I left. Thank you Little Jerusalem for being a special part of our honeymoon.

The second picture is one of the little huts we visited trying to be adventurous. A little local lady makes a variety of different foods and puts them in hot pans. You tell her what you want and she cooks it, throws it all in a box and gives you a price. The food was excellent and very cheap. We always tried a little bit of everything. We tried salt-fish, fresh fish, friend chicken, island teriyaki chicken, rice, a pasta dish and lots and lots of bread. The bread resembled a denser Navajo fry bread. This bread is all over the island; it’s a must try!

Zip-lining at Loterie Farms was by far the best part of our honeymoon! Worth every penny! We paid about one hundred and twenty dollars for both of us. Make sure and specify you want to do the extreme course. The tour is completely guided and both guides were very helpful in answering questions. The guides explained in detail how to work the the harnesses and clips safely. At first I was worried about being in charge of my life in something I was so unfamiliar with, but we got the hang of it pretty quickly. One tour guide took the lead and the other follows at the tail end of the group. Now let me tell you, this course is NOT for the faint of heart. If you don’t like heights you won’t be comfortable or have fun. Some of the lines were over three hundred feet off the ground. It was a true adventure and the guides made it really enjoyable. With no GPS and just a map (like we had) it was extremely hard to find. A lot of people get lost trying to find it.

Here is a link to their website:  http://loteriefarm.com/activities/fly-zone-extreme/

Parasailing was our next big adventure, both of us have always wanted to go! Through No. 1 SXM, it was ninety dollars a person. Once again, totally worth it! We paid for the deluxe which was eight-hundred feet, water touch, and free fall. This was their largest package. The less you go up the less you pay. The owner, driver of the boat, and instructor were very friendly and funny. They both seemed to have a blast taking us out and made the experience really enjoyable. They told us to relax and have fun up there. The instructor even told us we could go upside down if we wanted. At the end, they show you all the pictures they take of you and give you the option to buy them. It was thirty dollars for a jump drive with over forty pictures of us. They captured a ton of us upside down, holding hands, laughing, and kissing. Such a cool memory, we had to buy them! It was an overall cool experience and a must try!

Here is NO 1. SXM website: http://loteriefarm.com/activities/fly-zone-extreme/

I’m going to be honest with you when I tell you we spent most of our week there lost. Those were some fun memories and usually we ended up discovering some secret place we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. This was our secret unnamed beach where I found handfuls of untouched sea glass!

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St. Martin was literally a beautiful island to explore. If you decide to visit do your research. We found all kinds of suggestions online for activities and sites to see. Explore and have fun! Happy traveling!

 

Tips for surviving NY Chinatown

Chinatown was really my favorite part of visiting New York City. It can definitely be very overwhelming for someone like myself. Let me explain.  When me and my best friend visited NYC in 2013, we were about a year out of high school with almost no traveling experience. Being the innocent and sweet children we were, we learned quite a few things about Chinatown that are key for getting what you want and enjoying the experience.

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1. Don’t be polite. These people will take advantage of your politeness and see it for weakness. Sounds harsh but it’s true. Chinatown is honestly these vendors’ store. They view you as a business deal and will take every drop of what you give them. Trust me. they know how to play the game.

2.  You will do a lot of walking away. Don’t feel like you need to argue over an item with a vendor. This is how a conversation goes in Chinatown.

 You: “How much is this shirt?” Vendor: “What size?” You: “I asked how much.”     Vendor: “Ten dolla.” You: “Ok, Thank you.” (Walking away) Vendor: “Ok! Ok! Eight dolla.” (Keep walking) Vendor: “Ok, five dolla.” (Keep walking) “You no want?”

This will go on and on if you let it. By the third stand you will be over that. Keep conversations short and sweet. When they try to badger you ignore them.

3.  An important thing to remember in Chinatown is bargaining. You can almost always talk a vendor down. A good way to get the price you want is to offer two-three dollars lower than what you want to pay. So say asking price is twenty and your want to pay thirteen; offer ten. The vendor will either say no, or go up a dollar or two above your price. If he straight up declines go straight to your offer. If still declined walk away. There is a good chance you can find someone else who will accept.

 4.  Is that real Tiffany? Of course, it is 100% white gold. Look you can even see the little Tiffany’s logo on it. For only fifteen dollars it can be all yours. Let me just tell you this, it’s not real Tiffany nor is it real Marc Jacobs or Prada.

 5. Make sure before you leave for your trip you have adequate luggage space for your Chinatown souvenirs. If you find yourself over shopping and don’t have enough space, consider mailing the bigger things home.

6. All thirty NYC shirts, hoodies, pants, and  tank tops you think you must buy you will never wear. Like ever. Go with one I swear.

7. Plan to go with cash, but not too much. There are always ATMS on every corner. Go with no more than one hundred dollars. If you need more withdraw it.

8. Make sure to eat a meal in either Chinatown or Little Italy. In Chinatown there are tons of Chinese carts that serve Dim Sum for awesome prices. Dim Sum is like a meal of Chinese appetizers, mostly fried and delicious. If you have a wider budget check out Little Italy for some authentic pasta. YUM!

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9. Have fun and pay attention! It’s a lot of people and easy to get distracted. Watch your bags and stay close to the people you’re with.

 

 

 

 

 

My Heart Belongs in Encinitas CALIFORNIA

This is me at my happy place. If I could I would blog about beaches only all day everyday. But I live in the desert! NO beaches here. As often as I can I make it to the beach, and my new favorite little California coastal town is Encinitas, CA! Encinitas is about forty minutes outside of San Diego. If you think you love San Diego you don’t know what you’re missing! We stayed at The Portofino Beach Inn which was really nothing special, but they offer fresh espresso in the morning. The Portofino is extremely close to the beach. In September we only paid fifty dollars a night.

 

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Let’s start with Moonlight beach. This beach has got these beautiful stretches of cliffs on both sides that run for miles. The water is on the clearer side. While I was out boogie boarding I looked down and could clearly see my feet (love it). I rode in wave after wave at Moonlight Beach. It was the perfect flat beach for boogie boarding. Moonlight Beach is fairly deserted early in the morning. This is my favorite time to go and watch the waves.

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This picture gives you an idea of the cliffs. Note that beautiful old staircase. We walked in both directions for miles and saw two more. Makes for some beautiful pictures!

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While you are visiting Moonlight Beach don’t forget to stop at Moonlight Yogurt & Ice. They have frozen yogurt (who cares??) and amazing coffee and Boba tea. Boba drinks are really big in California. All those beautiful tan people people love their Boba. Boba are like chewy baked tapioca balls. When made correctly it should be of gummy-bear substance and a little sweet. I have to admit at first I was skeptical, but with all the cool flavors (passionfruit, fresh watermelon, honeydew, green tea-coconut) I couldn’t help myself. I’ve tired Boba tea a couple of places since, but this place has it nailed. Get the milk+fruit flavored Boba (Snow Tea). Now for their coffee. I started every morning on Moonlight Beach with a Thai Latte (sweetened condensed milk and espresso). I swear best coffee ever. They have a lot of creative things on their menu so don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions. Staff is very helpful.

Here is their yelp link: http://www.yelp.com/biz/moonlight-yogurt-and-ice-encinitas-2?osq=moonlight+boba

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Swami’s Beach is pictured in the slideshow below. For the love of all beaches this place is BEAUTIFUL. You take about four sets of stairs to get down to the beach area. The cliffs just tower above you. I was surprised at how many people were up top looking down. Don’t get me wrong, the view is amazing, but hardly anyone was on the beach! Up on the top area there are a ton of tables and benches, perfect for a book, lunch and also makes for some beautiful pictures. The water here is a bright green and you can see clear down to the bottom even from up high. Am I obsessed with clear water or what? From up top we watched a sea lion swim and a group of surfing students.

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After a long hard morning of beaching you MUST stop by 101 Diner. Don’t let the line fool you. They are a fast paced diner and they’ll set you down fast. The key here for me are the Hawaiian pancakes. Coconut, banana, and pineapple pancakes topped with a fresh homemade coconut syrup. TO DIE FOR. We also had the chorizo scramble. It too was amazing, but I am a pancake girl all the way. They have great specials all week long and the omelets passing by me looked great! Service was fast and friendly

 

So you can find your way here is the yelp link: http://www.yelp.com/biz/101-diner-encinitas?osq=pancakes

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The last beach I’m going to touch on is Windandsea. This beach is perfect for you adventure goers. I love to climb up all the cliffs and look in the tide pools. It’s not a hard hike up and down the beach rocks, but I do recommend wearing shoes you want wet. Some parts you have to run when the waves go back down.

 

LOTS of tide pools which I LOVE. I saw all kinds of fish, snails, crabs, and weird plants. It was fascinating! You’ll see all the cliffs pictured above. There is also a lot of black moss so BE CAREFUL (I may have slipped a couple of times). Another good tip is to google the tide times in this area as they change. If you come too late or too early you won’t see much. Also summertime is the best time to see critters 🙂

My all time favorite beach activity is searching for pieces of sea glass. I found my first pieces at Lake Michigan and was hooked!!!After I came back I did some research about the best places in California to find these treasures. I found a lot of blogs saying it was really tough to find. Umm . . . .  BULL.  It’s all over, you just have to look. This was literally one day at the beach. I have one basic sea glass searcher rule; don’t take the pieces that aren’t ready. You want smooth edges and it should be very foggy to look through. If you pick up a piece that isn’t developed enough, chuck it as far as you can so someone else can discover it later.

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