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Avec Amour : May 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to Stay Connected While You Travel (While Spending Limited Time Online)

I've always been a fan of unplugging. I avoided an iPhone for as long as possible, sticking with a phone that made calls and sent texts way longer than most. Now that I literally have the world at my fingertips, I have to be more conscious about making the decision to unplug.

When I studied abroad, we had no cell phones, and wifi was scarce. We might check in on the free computer in the hostel we stayed at, if there was even one available. I just remember feeling so free on those trips, and completely aware of everything around me - because I wasn't distracted by anything else.

It might not always be realistic to be disconnected for a prolonged period of time. When this is the case, I'll set boundaries and check in once a day or every two days on a longer trip (like our recent two week jaunt around New Zealand). I'm still using my phone to take pictures and as a wireless remote for my camera, so it's important to me that it's not buzzing and distracting me. Enjoy every minute!

Here are my tips for staying connected with limited time spent online/on your phone.

1 - Notifications
I don't know how you people do it. The only notifications I get are texts and phone calls. Email and apps are set to be checked manually, rather than pushed through every time someone likes my Instagram photo or J.Crew sends another sale email. If you need/prefer the Push settings during everyday life or for work, I would suggest you take it down to the bare minimum while you're traveling or on vacation. If you want to take it all the way down (or if you're traveling internationally), put it to Airplane Mode!

2 - Unroll Me
I can't stand the little red number in the corner of my mailbox.... so as soon as the emails load, I have to read and take care of them right away or I'm stressed out (Matt lives with 20k unread emails on the regular and I have no idea how he lives with it). I was also sick of waking up to 30 new emails, and only 1-2 of them being anything worth opening. I signed up for Unroll Me and it's really changed my inbox stress! 

Unroll Me scans your inbox and gives you the option to Unsubscribe, Add to Roll Up, or Keep in Inbox. I unsubscribed to everything I didn't care about (promotion I signed up for two years ago), Added to Roll Up anything like Victoria's Secret, Madewell, or PetCo who sends sale emails I'm interested in SOMETIMES, and Keep in Inbox was anything I would need to see as it comes in, like emails from Airbnb bookings, or The Skimm. Anything you add to your roll up will be sent to you in ONE big email, ONE time a day! 

3- The Skimm
The Skimm keeps me informed in about 5 minutes with news from all over the world. Which means I won't get back from a cruise and have no idea that the government was on strike (true story!), or that a plane tragically crashed into the Alps while I was flying to New Zealand (also true).  Sign up here even if you aren't going anywhere!

Just a little excerpt from today's Skimm about the FIFA controversy!
4 - Do Not Disturb
This feature is a miracle worker. It stops your phone from vibrating or ringing AT ALL, while still leaving it available to receive calls or texts. It's essentially "silent". This really should be mandatory in weddings, funerals, meetings and coffee shops (in my opinion!). Just to keep yourself from being constantly distracted, turn on the do not disturb. Swipe up on your home screen, and click the moon symbol :) This can be particularly helpful if you're in a group message. You could even switch that message chain only to Do Not Disturb! Open the message, click Details, and switch on Do Not Disturb. I also love using it at night when I'm in a different time zone - keeps you from accidental wake ups (your alarm still works when DND is activated).

5 - Make a Plan (and stick to it!) 
Before you go on your trip, make a plan - decide how often you'll check email and post to social media. Every evening after dinner? On the train only? Full digital detox? Whatever you decide, stick to it! You'll feel yourself relax so much when you're enjoying the streets of Rome, not wondering which filter to add to your photo of the Colosseum. Limiting your time online can be so FREEING and you'll realize you didn't really miss much anyway ;) 

There are so many beautiful details in the world! Don't miss them because you're checking Facebook ;)

PS - this is in no way a sponsored post. I just love the Skimm & UnRoll me!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This Week in Travel: Vol 25

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

Hope everyone had a lovely long weekend! We stayed firmly planted in Nashville and soaked up some quality time with friends, truly relaxing, and enjoying the beautiful weather! We participated in our first Color Run which was a total blast, and I would highly recommend for anyone "intimidated" by running a 5k, because nobody is taking it too seriously. It was so fun! We also grilled out twice because we can, swam in our kiddie pool, and took NAPS. Can't every weekend be a long one?

I'm off to the panhandle for a few days with girlfriends and I can't wait! The Florida girl inside of me is D-Y-I-N-G to see some coastline and smell salty air. 

Hope everyone had a safe & fun weekend!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Zealand Travel Diary: Abel Tasman National Park & Nelson

I'm back with some more New Zealand travel coverage! It was quite the trip, and I've got at least 3 more posts after this one. 

After we left the little slice of heaven that is Napier, we headed towards Abel Tasman National Park, which is in the northern area of the south island. 

On our way to Wellington (the gateway to the south island!) we drove through Martinborough and did some additional wine tasting on the way. Not a bad way to road trip! Special shout out to my DD who let me try as much wine as I wanted :) 
he's the best :)
The nice guys at Martinborough Vineyards let us taste all of the wines for $5NZ! Quite the deal if you ask me. We also stopped by Margrain Vineyards, and while the wine wasn't my preference, they were perfectly nice and poured generous samples. They also have a very cute cafe is you need a snack!

Then we drove our little car onto the Interislander Ferry and took a trip across the Cook Straight! The ferry was comfortable and nice, and the ride was only about 3 hours. There are plenty of booths and chairs to sit and relax if you want, they also screen a movie you can buy a ticket for if you'd like. 

They have a cafeteria style restaurant if you're hungry, but you're also able to bring your own food (which we did!). They also sell beer, wine, coffee and other fun drinks. While you're invited to bring your own food, you cannot bring outside alcohol for consumption. 

I'd also suggest bringing something to fill your time. We hung out on the deck for the sunset, but once it went dark, I kicked back with my book and sat by the window. We also played cards for a bit, but you could also watch a movie on your laptop or take a nap :)

PS - Check with your rental car provider if driving your car onto the ferry. Some require you turn in your car in Wellington and pick up a new one on the South Island. Jucy allowed us to drive our car across, which saved us a lot of time! And driving the car on/off was actually a lot easier than I imagined it would be.

The drive after we landed on the South Island in Picton, was the worst part of the trip for me personally. Luckily, I had anticipated a little car sickness, as per my friend Claire's tip (THANK YOU!) and had some ginger gum to help easy my nausea. YIKES. 

While it might not look that bad, let's zoom in a little bit.

Every single little zig and zag was pretty much on the side of a cliff. And like I said before, unless you're in a major city like Auckland, you'll be driving on 2 lane roads. In this case, in the dark. With people coming careening around the corner.... I was miserable. I think this would be slightly better if done during the day, but still would make me nervous as you wouldn't have the headlights to let you know someone was coming!

But once we got to Nelson (the town outside of Abel Tasman) where our hotel was, and I was a happy camper again! We stayed at The Sails hotel which was adorable and modern. It was a favorite of ours from the trip. We stayed on the ground floor, which I actually preferred because I could sit on the balcony and drink wine in my bathrobe :)

In the morning, we drove over to Able Tasman to go sea kayaking on a half day tour to Split Apple Rock. It was so beautiful and so much fun!

We were the only two on our tour with The Sea Kayak Company, so it was like we had a private guide to ourself! It was also nice not having to wait for slower people and kind of go where we wanted! You can just rent kayaks rather than going on a "tour", but I enjoyed having someone who knew where we were going and history on the islands we stopped at.

We stopped on this beautiful beach and went shelling (I'm a dork and love shelling) and found some gorgeous shells and awesome sea glass! It was interesting shelling on the complete other side of the world, I saw things I'd never seen before, even with living in Florida my whole life.

After exploring the beach and paddling back, we were shocked to see the beach we started at was much longer... the tide had gone out almost a quarter mile! 

When we got back from our kayaking adventure!
When we arrived! Big difference!

I also found this pretty little starfish guy. So unique, right? Definitely unlike any starfish I've ever seen! The perfect end to a perfect day.

After a long day of kayaking, we wanted a nice dinner! We got a few suggestions from our guide, one of which he said "you'll never get in without a reservation" - but we walked right in! The hostess said we were incredibly lucky, apparently this never happens. I'll take it! It was one of our favorite meals :) 

It was at the Boat Shed Cafe, and I loved it! We ordered several of their "small" plates and shared... my favorite way to eat. Not to mention, we got a table on their covered patio (it's open when the weather is warmer!) with this beautiful view of the sunset! The whole restaurant was adorable and we loved it. 

I would definitely recommend making the reservations if you're headed to Nelson! And ask for a table on the patio ;) 

We also dined at DeVille for coffee and a breakfast to-go that we loved in Nelson! I wish we'd had another day to stay and hang out in adorable little Nelson/Abel Tasman. We loved it!

Have you ever done Abel Tasman? While it might not be Milford Sound, I think it's a site not to be missed on your epic trip to New Zealand!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Weekend at the Beach Packing List

With a long weekend rapidly approaching, many may be heading towards the ocean! While I won't be amongst you over Memorial Day, I'm having a little beach getaway with a friend in a few weeks. I can't wait!

We're only going for three days, so I'm keeping it light on the packing list. I'm not even bothering with jeans or jackets... it's going to be 90 & sunny. Nothing about that says "pants" to me. It's really just dresses, swim wear, and a few accessories.

beach packing list!

This will all fit in a carry on with room to SPARE! We are driving... which is tempting to overpack. However! There is no reason to bring a bunch of stuff I'll never wear! Cover ups can be worn a couple of times, swim suits can be hand washed easily and dry quickly, and sandals go from day to night. 

Think about what you'll be doing before you overpack. For this quick vaca, we'll be doing a lot of laying on the beach, relaxing by the pool, and grabbing dinners. There's no reason for me to pack my entire wardrobe or bring anything heavy or too fancy. Maxi dresses will cover a multitude of sins in a sleepy beach town, and my black sundress ALWAYS works several ways on a trip! Choose versatile pieces that make sense

Woo hoo! Beach time! Stay safe out there, kids. Plenty of SPF, water, and have fun!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

This Week in Travel: Vol. 24

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

I SERIOUSLY miss the beach! Any kind of beach! Take me there please?!??!!!!!

While I won't be there for Memorial Day Weekend, I'll be making a trip really soon to the Florida Panhandle. I've never been - any tips? Growing up in south Florida, we never bothered driving 8 hours to go to another beach... especially because ours was so beautiful ;) SO! Rosemary, Panama City, or Seaside area... I'd love to hear your suggestions for restaurants or cute areas to explore! I'll be spending most of my time in the sun and listening to the waves break... but I guess we'll need to eat, too.

What does everyone have planned for the holiday? Even if you're staying put like me, I hope you get some sunshine and summer vibes! Happy Memorial Day! :)