10 road trip travel essentials

New places are always on my radar. Whether we're visiting a totally new city, or just getting out to one of our favorite spots a couple of hours away, it sometimes seems like we can never stay put for too long. Andrew and I try and get out of town whenever we can and road trips are what we do best. We've driven all over the southeast, we've powered through Kansas, the Rocky Mountains, the Chihuahuan Desert, and have dipped all the way down to my home town in the tip of Texas. What I'm trying to get at is we're no strangers to being the road. We have quite a bit of experience being trapped in a car for hours or even full days, and I thought I would put together some of the things I've learned about going on the road. I won't waste your time with telling you to remember your shampoo, but I will let you in on a few things that we've learned along the way, usually by going on trips without these items and being worse for wear. I hope you guys get some great tips before heading out on your next adventure!


...
Car Charger
I know what you’re thinking. This is the most obvious choice for a road trip essentials list. But do you know how many times I’ve used just any old charger and have it either charge my phone at a glacial pace or come back with the “this accessory is not supported” message and not charge my phone at all? Too many times, leaving me to ration my battery and trying my hardest to keep from scrolling through Instagram while we drive through Kansas. Finally, last spring before our DC road trip, I decided to buy a dedicated car charger. It’s the classic coiled charger from decades past-- it’s almost nostalgic. But it charges our iPhone XS Max phones faster than even our wall chargers. When you’re using location services for long haul trips, plus music, social media, texting and/or video games all at the same time, one of these is a must have. You can find this charger here.

Portable Charger
Piggybacking off of my last item, picking out a quality portable charger is a must. Chances are you aren’t going to be hanging out in your Airbnb for the majority of your stay. You’ll likely be out and about enjoying the sights and sounds. Bringing along a portable charger is one of the best investments you can make. But, I’m not talking about some cute, flimsy portable charger that may or may not work or will charge your phone 30% before dying itself. I made the decision to splurge a little on something that I knew could potentially save our trip. Not only has the Jackery Giant saved our butts on multiple trips, it charges our phones incredibly fast. We don’t need to be tethered to a wall or outlet. We’ve charged our phones while sitting at MLB games, while eating out, or sitting on the train. When we're not on the road, we keep it by the couch so we can charge up without leaving our phone in another room. It charges both our phones multiple times before having to charge the unit itself. It is a bit hefty, so if you usually travel light, you’ll probably notice the extra size and weight. This is the one area where I’m willing to compromise, though. The Jackery Giant is available here and is a Prime item.


Mini Backpack
I know a lot of us have been on the backpack-as-handbag bandwagon for a while now, but if you aren’t, vacations are the perfect opportunity to try it out. Even if you’re a crossbody or wristlet person, they don’t compare to the freedom that backpacks give you. You’ve seen multiple pictures of me on trips with some of my favorite backpacks. Most notably, my header photo on this blog features my favorite Michael Kors backpack. Aside from the freedom they offer you, you’re able to carry a lot more and not be bothered by that extra weight that may otherwise be a deal breaker. (Looking at you, Jackery.) I’ve gone as far as getting myself a clear backpack for events like concerts or football games where clear bags are the only type allowed so I have one for every occasion imaginable.

Michael Kors backpack similar here | vintage faux fur shawl, brand unknown 


Rain Gear
EVEN if you check the weather beforehand, EVEN if the place you’re going gets .1 inch of rain a year, take a rain jacket or umbrella, or even some rain boots. You’ll be doing yourself a massive disservice if you don’t. I don’t think I have to explain this one in much detail. Always be prepared, and if you end up not needing them, great! Rain gear generally doesn’t take up too much space, anyway. And if you do, you’ll thank yourself. If you’ve read my DC photo diaries, then you know that the amount of rainfall we saw in the DC metro that week was unprecedented. Not to mention the amount of rain we saw on the way to and from our destination.


Totes clear umbrella

Spare Handbag (Weatherproof)
You guys already know that I always travel with one of my all-weather-leather Dooney & Bourke purses packed in my suitcase. Like the just-in-case umbrella and rain jacket, you don’t wanna find yourself in the middle of a thunderstorm with your bag being battered. Getting yourself a bag that’s weatherproof will keep your valuables inside dry and will ensure the bag itself won’t take on water damage.

Ralph Lauren rain boots similar here | vintage all-weather-leather Dooney & Bourke

Reusable Bags
I’m not trying to preach more about plastics (yes I am), but reusable bags hold so much more than your typical plastic bag. Plus, they’re nicer, sturdier, and keep everything a lot more organized. As much as I love flying, one of my favorite things about road trips is that I can shop without having to worry about whether I’m weighing down my luggage or having to ship things back to myself. Reusables are consistently some of our most utilized items when we're on the road or just running around town. My favorites are from Buffalo Exchange, they're really durable and have lasted for years, but I'm also a huge fan of their designs. I also love the bags that Urban Outfitters gives out when you buy something. They're surprisingly strong, and I'm able to squeeze them into just about any bag.


Reusable Drinkware
If you’re gonna be on the road for a while, then you’ll wanna take a water bottle and/or a coffee mug. It cuts down on waste both in the environment and in your car. Having reusable drinkware means less trash that needs to be dumped out at gas stations or when you get home. Be sure to fill up your water bottles before leaving because once you're out of city limits, there's no telling how long between rest stops or gas stations. 


Blanket/Scarf/Pillow/Eye Mask
Even if you’re travelling in the dog days of summer, you’ll thank yourself for packing a blanket or big scarf for naps while you’re on the road. Take along a pillow and you’ll get just about as comfortable as you can be while cramped in a car for hours. If you’re a needy sleeper like me, you might consider an eye mask to block out the sun so you can really rest. This Bucky eye mask is my absolute favorite. It's dome shaped which is super comfortable to have on, but also allows you to open your eyes without anything pressing down on them. My favorite thing about them is that they block out light completely, even when you open your eyes. I've always found them at my local TJ Maxx stores, but like everything else there, there's no guarantee they'll be in stock. I also found them on Amazon, so if you come across one, get it!


Bucky 40 Blinks eye mask


DIY Travel Kit
I have several of the Glossier pink pouches and make use of them all. They’re clear plastic and zip right open. I always pack a glasses wipe (Andrew and I both prefer our glasses for everyday wear), some eye drops, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer, napkins, face wipes, and anything else you think could be useful to have on the road. It’s nice having a place to keep it all neat and organized. I really recommend using something plastic to avoid damage if the altitude will be changing and making things leak.




Snacks
Duh. In all seriousness, we always try taking the fresh fruits or things that will likely go bad in the time that we're out of town. If bananas or apples aren't your idea of road trip snacks, then you've never found yourself 80 miles from the nearest gas station with a growing appetite. And because road trips are inherently fun (at least for us), we also stock up some salty or sweet gas station snacks before we head out.

...
When we first started going on the road, we remembered the obvious stuff like contact solution and our toothbrushes, but would find ourselves without a way to effectively charge our phones or get comfortable in the passenger seat, or making a huge mess in the car. I hope these 10 essentials have given you some ideas for your next trip. Being hundreds or thousands of miles from home and realizing you've forgotten something important or wishing you'd packed something else is one of the worst feelings. Do you guys swear by something that I didn't list? Let me know!




updated morning routine

Mornings and I haven’t always had the best relationship. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve started putting more effort into my morning routine and paying attention to what really helps get me off to a great start. The AM has really improved over the last few months of trial and error. Read on to see what’s worked for me, and maybe pick up some tips and tricks of your own!



If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know that my boyfriend and I were servers (and for me, a retail worker as well) for a long time. Our routines were pretty unorthodox. We were getting home at or after midnight, falling asleep around 3am, and sleeping until noon. In mid 2018 we both made a change that landed us jobs where the working hours are much more traditional. We were both excited, but switching up most of my routines was more difficult than I could have imagined. 

I started trying out different things to see what would get me out of bed and out the door most energized. From trying morning showers (nope, I’ll stick to my nighttime showers, thanks) to actually eating breakfast, to having tea instead of coffee in the morning (also no), I tried everything under the sun. I’ve finally made some progress and I’m excited to share what’s worked for me.
...

Breakfast

I never was much of a breakfast person, especially when my mornings started so late in the day. It was naive to think that when my schedule changed, my old ways would continue working for me. In no time I was sluggish, cranky, and had an insatiable hunger. The morning coffee on an empty stomach was no longer an option. I decided to try out having a real breakfast every morning, despite my initial lack of appetite. I knew that hunger would inevitably kick in once I was out of the house and it was too late. I’ve learned that as much as I was used to reaching for certain foods in the morning, they don’t all work the same way an hour or so down the line. I’ve found the perfect balance of quick, satisfying, and wholesome meals that keep me full for hours on end.



My favorite weekday breakfasts are smoothies or oatmeal. Both take no time at all to prepare, especially once you know exactly what ingredients you’re using. I opt for smoothies most mornings because I can carry them from room to room with me as I get ready for the day. Both smoothies and oatmeal are really customizable-- you can toss in whatever you like and you’ll be good to go. 

My Morning Oatmeal Recipe: My favorite oatmeal recipe is super simple: a banana, walnuts, and water or milk. When it’s done, I have oatmeal that tastes exactly like banana bread. No need to sweeten. Oatmeal is also a great option because you can make a lot of it ahead of time to save you even more time in the morning.

Sometimes I've got some extra time on my hands and my smoothie becomes a smoothie bowl.

My Morning Smoothie Recipe: My favorite recipe always has a banana and frozen berries. I also add a serving of oats-- which helps keep me full for a long time-- some flax seed, frozen spinach (don’t worry, you can’t taste it over the fruits), and protein powder. I then mix one part milk or milk substitute and one part water. This is my everyday smoothie, but I do change up the ingredients from time to time. It’s not rare for me to add pineapple, greek yogurt in place of protein powder, or some avocado in it as well. It’s all about playing with ingredients to figure out what works for you.

What I use: I got a Nutribullet a couple of Christmases ago and use it almost daily. I also use most of the attachments that came with it like the handles, lids, and rims when I’m taking things on the go. I also picked up these wide mouth straws at Target and they make a big difference. Plus, they’re made of food-grade silicone which is really easy to clean.

Vitamins/Supplements

I’ve been taking Olly vitamins for a couple of years now and I love them. The Perfect Women's Multi in berry is my all time favorite. They’re delicious, they don’t upset my stomach, and they even satisfy my sweet tooth. I’ve had their Sleep and Omega-3 vitamins as well, and while I like them, the women’s multi is the one that I keep repurchasing. In addition to that, I take my fish oil and CoQ10 every morning. I keep them all in this really cute Texas shaped basket on our kitchen counter so I never forget to take them. I rarely get seriously ill, and I like to think taking my vitamins regularly contributes to that. And, you know, not going outside with wet hair. (That was for you, mom.)

The Perfect Women's Multi


Do You

This next one took me the longest to figure out, but it’s what’s made the biggest difference. I’ve really gotten into YouTube over the last year and my favorite YouTubers never cease to put me in a great mood. In the morning even the slightest inconvenience can get blown out of proportion before I’m fully awake. When I started working a YouTube video or two into my morning routine, I noticed a drastic change. My mood is lifted and I get inspired for the day and its possibilities. It might sound funny that a YT video can do all that for me, but watching some of my favorite people do what they do makes me genuinely happy. I highly recommend you find something you love and work a little bit of it into your mornings. Maybe that’s flipping through a magazine, watching a 20 minute sitcom, blog surfing, or even lighting a candle. I’m still a night owl by nature and mornings will probably always be my least favorite time of the day, so I’m not going to deny myself doing whatever I can to spruce them up. 

Even in the middle of winter, I want to believe I'm in the desert.

And a coffee to go, please.
...

I’m still working on becoming more efficient in the AM, but I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made. Having a routine has made my mornings so much smoother and have me a little more organized when I walk out the door. I don’t wander around in the morning wondering what should come first. Thank you guys so much for sticking around and reading my little blog. It really does mean the world to me and I look forward to creating a lot more in 2019. 


atlanta photo diary

This week Andrew and I took a short trip into Atlanta. Even though the city is only about a two hour drive, it’s not one that we frequent. A few months ago, Andrew found out that his favorite band was touring with one of my favorites and there was no question about whether we’d be making the trip to see them.



We got in pretty late on Monday night and losing an hour to time zone differences didn’t help, so we headed straight to our Airbnb and rested up for what we knew would be a long day.

We woke up on Tuesday excited for the day ahead. We planned on doing some vintage shopping as well as hitting up some thrift stores, breweries, and general sightseeing before heading to the venue at night. First on the list was Goodwill. Although I’ve only been to Atlanta a time or two before, I already have a couple of favorite thrifting spots and this trip didn’t disappoint. I found some decor/storage pieces I’d had on my list for some time as well as a few clothing items and books.








Next, we decided it was time for some coffee, so we ventured into what would become our area of choice on this trip. Andrew chose Dancing Goats Coffee Bar in Decatur and he’s now officially in charge of tracking down coffee for us. I opted for a chai latte while Andrew had a double shot of espresso. We hung out for a bit as Andrew plotted out the rest of our day and I got some reading done on my Kindle. We grabbed a coffee on our way out and marched on.








While waiting for Andrew’s brewery of the day to open, we did some pretty typical Atlanta stuff. We checked out the local Buffalo Exchange and wandered around whatever or wherever caught our eye. We mostly hung around the Decatur area and wandered up and down Ponce De Leon.




Soon, we headed out for Three Taverns brewery in Decatur. We spent a bit of time here as well, and the relaxing atmosphere was just what I needed. The upstairs area has some couches and comfy spots to hang out, as well as some board games and a photo booth(!!!) If we had more time we definitely would have gotten a couple of photo strips to tuck into my dresser mirror. I still have some unrealized teenage dreams, you guys!










We headed to The Masquerade in Kenny’s Alley at Underground Atlanta. With temperatures in the low 30s and dropping fast and my lack of a proper coat, the doors couldn’t open fast enough (or, you know, 50 minutes after they were supposed to open). The show went off without a hitch and we had an amazing time. Both of the bands we were there to see blew us away and just like that, our night was complete. We drove back in a state of bliss and I fell asleep dreaming of breakfast foods.

















We woke with a purpose on Wednesday and for once, I didn’t hesitate when Andrew asked what I wanted to do. I’d been talking about going to the Georgia Aquarium since before we got into the city and I wasn’t leaving without visiting. First things first, though: we needed food.

Andrew had Home Grown picked out before I was even awake and again, his food choices didn’t disappoint. I kept it pretty basic with some french toast and orange slices (one of the things off of my sleepy breakfast list from the night before), Andrew had the breakfast tacos. While we ate, I went ahead and bought our tickets and parking pass from my phone. Pro tip: you get a discount for visiting on a weekday and buying your tickets online-- even if it’s the day of-- plus a discount on your parking pass. Just make sure to buy them straight from the aquarium’s website!

The Georgia Aquarium was nothing short of breathtaking. My dream since I was a kid was to be to a “real” aquarium where they had one of those tunnels you could walk through and watch all the fish swim overhead and all around. I’m pretty sure I saw it in a movie or tv show once, but the image never left my head and my little dream finally came true.

The aquarium has SO much to offer including whale sharks, beluga whales, California sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, African penguins and so so so much more. We spent the better part of our day here, even going back and repeating exhibits because of how much we loved it there. The aquarium is also really pushing to inform people about the harms of plastics, especially single-use plastics. Their gift shops don’t hand out plastic bags, which I really appreciated, and there is no shortage of recycling bins all around the facility.





















































The rest of the trip was for Andrew’s brewery checklist. Though we really only had time for two more before having to head home, we made the most of it. Our first stop was Wild Heaven Brewing in (surprise!) Decatur. Their layout was pretty comfortable and although we were just about the only people there, the atmosphere was pretty great. The guys working there were super friendly and it was an all around chill place.














While we were at Dancing Goats the day before, Andrew had had his eye on the restaurant just across the street, The Marlay House. This is a Dublin style pub and I kept it pretty basic again having the fish & chips. Andrew had the lamb stew and we split the blueberry bread pudding for dessert.

Our final stop was Orpheus. We’re no stranger to the Orpheus brewery. We’ve been here before and we almost always have at least one of their brews in our fridge. We sat down for a few card games and laughs all while toasting an end to the trip we’d been looking forward to for months. Though this was probably the briefest stop of the day, it was the perfect way to end our short trip. Like always, our drive home was accompanied by My Favorite Murder and fighting over the car’s temperature.

One of my favorite things about traveling-- no matter how short the trip-- is that you can always stretch the days out and do as much or as little as you want. Although we were really only in Atlanta for two days, it felt like we’d taken a much longer trip. We were able to squeeze so much into our two days there without ever feeling rushed or exhausted. Maybe it’s because we aren’t strangers to day trips and weekend adventures, but I think we’ve really found our sweet spot for planning short trips. Like I said, Atlanta is only a couple of hours away and I really wanna start visiting more often. I know that there is so much more that I haven’t gotten the chance to see or do, and I’m sure convincing my better half won’t be too difficult.



Instagram