A Note on Trip Planning

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Voluntary or not, planning a trip starts the moment that you let your wanderlust take over for even a second. You begin to imagine the types of places you want to go, the things you’ll do, the experiences you’ll have, what you’ll eat. You begin to plot out the sites that you couldn’t live without missing, and how your very Instagrammable AirBNB would sit in the perfect spot. Suddenly you start to notice hints of your dream destination everywhere; it invades your thoughts, your dreams, and your conversations. Until one day everything changes…because after months of dreaming and hoping you’ve FINALLY gotten your ticket.

At least, that’s how it went for me. Two years ago Tokyo was barely on my radar. It was just a city that I saw in photos and on TV shows. It was the birthplace of a style we’d learned about in Intro to Fashion called Harajuku; it was the setting of many magical Miyazaki films that I’d watched with wide eyes. Until I moved to the West Coast, traveling to Asia didn’t even seem like a moderate reality. You see, living in the Southeast meant that Europe was a convenient travel destination—it felt accessible, airline tickets were more reasonable, the time difference was manageable. Even closer than that was Mexico, but Asia? That shit felt far. Too far.

A couple of months after I moved to Seattle two of my coworkers went to Japan for a month. They returned with stories that sounded made up, fantastical souvenirs, and many tasty candies. It was then that I began to feel thirsty for Asia. I started to see bits and pieces of Japanese culture everywhere. Slowly (and hungrily) I began to familiarize myself with different kinds of Japanese cuisine in Seattle; I made friends with people who had been there before and were under the “I love Japan” spell that I’d grown accustomed to hearing about. My Netflix queue gradually went from Kimmy Schmidt and Planet Earth to Anthony Bourdain and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and my Amazon wish list? …I’m sure you can imagine. Exactly a year from my friends’ return I exited the tab where I’d just finished watching Lost in Translation, got on Kayak and booked a flight for six months later.

(Maybe it was the sparkling, panoramic shots of Tokyo at night that tantalized me, or maybe it was ScarJo. The jury’s still out).


Choosing a destination for travel is only the first step in planning your trip. The next step, in my opinion, is identifying why you want to go there. What’s driving you to go to this new place? Is it the historic sites? The culture? The serene beaches? The pancakes? Identifying the reasons you want to go somewhere new will help you shape your itinerary for a supremely custom travel experience. It will be more memorable and enjoyable for you than one that simply covers the bases of that new place (especially if, frankly, you just can’t be bothered to care about some of those bases).

As many of you know, I get more excited about food than I do about most things. The opportunity to try new foods using cooking methods that have been honed for many generations, feeling it’s cultural and historical significance, it’s so life-giving to me. It’s why I’m going to Japan. I may miss some of the statues and the temples, but I certainly won’t miss Chanko Nabe in Ryogoku or “Ramen Street” in Tokyo Station.

Pro tip: An important question to ask yourself is, “When I get back, I will regret if I miss…” what? Answer that question for yourself before you leave so you know that you’re prioritizing all the things you really care about.

Once you’ve determined the WHY of your trip the rest of the planning should come fairly easy. If you’re finding it hard to come up with ideas, do some research. I think travel blogs are a really reliable resource. Take inspiration from some of the adventures the bloggers had, things they ate…but don’t be afraid to  follow their lead and seek out some of your own travel secrets. Also, check out Youtube for video travel diaries and insider information.

One of my favorite travel blogs, Cup of Couple,  just went to Japan, check out a video from their trip below:

IMPORTANT: As much as I preach about curating my own travel experience, I have a pile of books in my room that I’ve been pouring over for the last few months. Not only do they offer insight into things to do, but some also include cultural information and maps. V HELPFUL.

Some of my favorite Japan resources:

*Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who know a lot about what you’re interested in (Authors, Restaurant Owners, Etc). They can often offer up the most unique, fearless travel advice.


Traveling to a new place doesn’t have to be a checklist of obligations and tourist traps.  Make your trip memorable by making it your own, and even making it up a little as you go. A little spontaneity never hurt anyone—only made things more exciting.

One week left until take off!

Sayonara

(I’ve been practicing)

La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary

La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla ChipsWhenever I mentioned that I was making a trip to Barcelona, a popular suggestion I got was to visit La Boqueria. La Boqueria is a huge market filled to the brim with produce, locally made products (cheese, cured meats, olive oils, etc) and counters where you can pick something up or have an authentic meal prepared right in front of you. Our hotel was near La Rambla, we made the market one of our first stops.

Things you should probably pick up at La Boqueria:

1. Fresh Produce – Traveling can often consist of eating heavily for days upon days. A welcome change, for us, was to grab some fresh fruit for breakfast and vegetables to take along with us for lunch. We spent a fraction of what we would’ve at a restaurant and still got to enjoy the local flavors. My favorite things were the vibrant red cherries, juicy peaches and perfectly ripe avocados.

2. Juice – It’s impossible to miss the rows of festive, brightly colored straws that adorn the fresh juices all over the market. From kiwi coconut to mango banana berry, you can pretty much get any combination (or single flavor) that you’re hoping for. Definitely a refreshing treat that would make a hot day maneuvering through the crowds much more bearable.

3. Candy – On a less healthy note, you have got to get your hands on some of the specialty candy in the market. We made a point to go three separate days, each time trying something new. My favorites were the macarons (of course), the truffles,  the coconut bonbons and this circular, toffee and chocolate crispy treat. I really think I could’ve tried anything and would’ve had a shut-my-eyes-in-chocolate-ecstasy moment.

4. Gelato – Gelato isn’t just delicious in Italy; no, I had some of the best gelato I’ve ever had from a counter in the very middle of the market. We got one coconut and one scoop berry (with fresh berries piled on top). The gelato was so good that we actually had to have a seat right in the middle of La Rambla to enjoy it to the fullest extent (send your judgements to my P.O box).

5. Empanadas – Jamón y Queso. Pollo y Queso. Anything. Everything. Get them all.

6. Counter Service – The one thing we didn’t do (and I feel regrettable about) was taking advantage of the in-market food counters. The aromas from the various seafood, tapas and float about the entire market; the sizzle of busy skillets interrupting barter conversations between shopper and stall owner. There was one near the back that was lit with rustic lighting and was serving lobster…I’ve got to get back there some day. It really did seem to good to miss.

Although we did see and do a lot in Barcelona, I felt like the market needed it’s own post. More sites and stories to come!

 

Speak to you soon!

 

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Burgos | Spain Travel Diary (+June Playlist)

Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips Burgos | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla ChipsSometime during the middle of our tour of Spain we stopped in a quaint, colorful town called Burgos. When we arrived the sunset was beginning to paint the pastel buildings in warmer tones and  illuminate the tall towers of the cathedral near our hotel; Flowers decorated street level window boxes, restaurant table tops and almost every balcony we saw. Within a few minutes of being in town I was a little disappointed we hadn’t blocked out more time to spend in this charming city, but totally grateful that I got to see it at all.

As the sun sunk behind the hills that framed the town we indulged in a multi-course meal of Sopa de Ajo (castillian garlic soup), Pork Tenderloin, and Quesa Fresca with honey. (Don’t worry, there was wine).  We reluctantly rose with the sun the next morning and made our way towards Bilbao.

Reliving this Spain trip has been almost as satisfying as the trip itself, but I couldn’t go another week without making a playlist. As it’s the beginning of a new month I give you the June Playlist. Enjoy:

Speak to you soon!

 

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