Las Vegas: August 8th-11th 2017

Hi all,

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I was in Las Vegas last week with my mom and brother for a quick trip. That was my 6th time there (my first one being legal, though!) and I never get sick of the atmosphere.

I just thought I’d quickly share where we stayed & ate, along with some pictures.

Our Stay: We stayed at the Bally’s and although it’s not the nicest hotel on the strip, it’s in a prime location. It’s smack in the middle of “all the action”, being right across from the Bellagio. You can easily access the North end of the strip (towards Treasure Island, Encore, etc.) and the South end (New York, New York, MGM Grand, etc.). The rooms are quite large and the beds are comfortable.

We swam twice while we were there and the pool is great! It’s not big (compared to other strip hotel pools) but the water was so warm, it was like going into a bath.

Recommended: Pay a few extra dollars per night and stay at the Paris.

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Where we ate: We tried the breakfast buffet at the Paris and Bellagio, and the former was our favourite. We had dinner one night at the buffet at Harrah’s and it was awful- definitely not worth the money. Our second dinner was at In-N-Out (in the courtyard behind the Linq hotel) and we loved it! We also ate at the Cheesecake Factory at the outlets, and you can never really go wrong with that! We also got candy from Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions every night… they have so much choice!

Recommended: In-N-Out and Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions.

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What we did: We mostly spent our time strolling through the different hotels and doing some shopping at the outlets. Some of the hotels have such cool decorations. We did the roller coaster at New York, New York which was fun, but it definitely shook us a lot. Now that I look back on it, it doesn’t seem like we did much, but we literally stopped in every hotel on the strip. My brother went to see a show one night, so my mom and I spent a couple of hours playing the slot machines at the Bellagio.

Recommended: If you’re into jewelry-making, head to Discount Beads (4266 S Durango Dr. #G, Las Vegas, NV 89147, United States) for a great selection & prices!

Getting Around:Β We mostly stayed on the strip, but we did go to the outlets, as well as a craft store I had heard great reviews about and wanted to visit. We took the city bus both times and it went really well. The buses have screens that show you the upcoming stops, so it’s almost impossible to miss your stop (make sure you press the button to request it, though!).

Tip if you’re taking the city bus back from the North Premium Outlets: There are two stops and if you get on the first one (in the direction of the strip), you’ll be pretty much guaranteed a seat! We stood at the second one because it was the closest to the entrance/exit we came out of, and there were lots of people; it was a packed bus the entire way.

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Bellagio & Caesar’s Palace.
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New York New York Hotel.
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A display inside the Bellagio.

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Inside The Venetian Hotel.

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I hope you enjoyed this quick little recap!

Have you ever been to Vegas? If so, what’s your favourite thing to do or place to eat at?

Marilyn

 

Recap: Rethymno + Lake Kournas

Hi all,

I’m back with yet another recap post. This time, it’s our one day in Rethymno. If you read the post from July 20th (if you haven’t, you should go do that now and come back!), you know that we were in Chania for 3 days before going to Rethymno.

**You must rent a car on the island, the drives are so beautiful. The drive from Chania to Rethymno was the most scenic and impressive. There were massive mountains all around us, at certain points we felt like we were in the Swiss Alps, it was incredible!**

We didn’t really have concrete plans for what to do in Rethymno, but we knew that we wanted to stop somewhere on the way. We chose to go to Lake Kournas and we are SO glad we did it. I was a little bit hesitant at first to go here, because the pictures online didn’t seem that great but it quickly turned into one of my favourite places we visited on the trip.

Lake Kournas is a freshwater lake nestled in the mountains. It’s quite large; about 1km in diameter and the water is a deep blue that I’ve never seen before. The edges of the lake are turquoise, due to the shallow sand. We rented a pedal boat for 2 hours and went around the lake. We stopped a couple of times to swim. It was such an amazing experience. The water was a little chilly, but we quickly got used to it. There was something so magical about swimming in this lake, with the mountains surrounding us. We kept looking over at each other and telling each other just how beautiful it was.

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After our time there, we drove to the city of Rethymno. We circled around for parking, and after finally finding some, we lugged our suitcases to our hotel, which was about a 10 minute walk.

We stayed at Casa Vitae and we are so glad that we did. After staying 3 nights in a very small room, with barely any hot water, it was so nice to come into this big, comfortable and luxurious room. The staff was so nice and the grounds were beautiful, we felt like we were staying in a whimsical garden. We had breakfast at the hotel the next day (it was included in the price of the room) and it was delicious, there was so much food!

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This was the view from right outside our room.
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The courtyard.

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Breakfast area.
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Back gate.

After checking into the hotel, we walked around to go to the fortress. It was so impressive, there were so many structures. I found it quite fascinating to learn what each of them were used for. Plus, the view from up there was amazing, we got to see the reflection of the setting sun on the water.

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View from the top of the fortress.

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As per our hotel’s recommendation, we had dinner at Othonas and it was the best meal we had on this trip. I had the Pastitsio, and Michael had the Lamb stamna, which he still raves about.

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My pastitsio and Michael’s lamb stamna.

After dinner, we got a Nutella crepe and explored the town. I initially thought it looked very similar to Chania because of the lighthouse and harbour, but the vibe was very different. There was a street lined with palm trees and I felt like I was somewhere very tropical. It was really beautiful.

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Harbour.
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Lighthouse.
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Harbour.

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Marilyn

Why You Should Do Things That Scare You

Hi all,

Today I wanted to discuss something that has become important to me in the last few months: doing things that scare you. I’ve always been confused about what to do with my life but it hit me particularly hard at the beginning of this year.

I made the decision to withdraw from my classes midway through my semester and take a break. Although it was frightening, it was exactly what I needed: to re-charge and focus on what my next step would be, school wise. It ultimately led me to find another program that I think I will really enjoy.

A few months after making this change in school, I made the decision to quit my part time job. I was working in customer service and found it extremely stressful. Although everyone tells you to not take it personally, at some point, I just realized that I didn’t want to be stressed out over a part time job, I have the rest of my life & career to do that ;). So after a lot of thought, I decided to quit. For me, this was scary, as I had worked nonstop since I was sixteen. This was quite a higher paying job than my previous ones, so I was terrified of leaving and not having a steady income. But I did it, and it led me to discover so much and gave me the time to start a couple projects that I’m very, very excited about.

All this thinking led me to come up with reasons as to why we should do things that scare us.

  1. You’ll discover new things about yourself: When thrown into a situation you’ve never been in before, you’ll have to adapt and make decisions that you’ve never thought you’d ever have to. You’ll most likely be surprised at the decisions that you make, giving you lots of insight as to the kind of person you are becoming.
  2. You’ll learn what you’re capable of: You never know until you try. Whether it be jumping off a cliff or quitting your much hated job, you will find out what your mind and body are capable of doing, when put to the test. For me, quitting my part time job and finding something I was passionate about lead me to see that I actually was capable of starting a business, something I had wanted to do (but was afraid of) for quite a while.
  3. You might find your passion and discover what you love/hate: You might end up loving or hating that thing you did, but at least you’ll know where you stand on that front. You will then be able to base your next move on this and tailor your life according to your new-found knowledge of yourself. Also, although this might not apply to every situation, you might end up finding your passion and at the very least, how you’ll be able to enrich your life through that passion.
  4. If you don’t do it, you might miss out on a great opportunity: Sure, you might do it and fail, but at least you will have tried. What if something great ends up coming of it? You wouldn’t have found that until you tried.

At the end of the day, (as cheesy as it sounds) we only have one life to live. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather step out of my comfort zone and try new things that might lead me to discover something great (or not), rather than do nothing and later have regrets.

What do you think?

Marilyn

Elafonisi Beach, Crete

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing a recap of our day trip to Elafonisi beach on the island of Crete.IMG_5632

After a couple days of exploring, we were really excited to finally get a beach day, but it didn’t go exactly as we had thought it would.

We were staying in Chania and decided to drive there ourselves, which took about 2 hours. We didn’t know this, but we had to drive through the mountains for about 40 minutes. This was 40 minutes of winding roads, the road being so narrow in some spots that only one car could fit. Also, there were barely any rails on the side of the road and if there were, it was definitely not enough to stop a car from falling over. Needless to say, we got really nervous driving here and we were just really thankful that we had cars both ahead and behind us.

When we finally made it, we got 2 chairs under an umbrella, which cost us 8 euros. It was extremely windy, so windy that we couldn’t just leave our towels on the chairs, we needed something heavy to hold them down.

We tried going into the water a few times but despite what it may look like on pictures, the water was freezing. We didn’t even make it in past our waists, we were just too cold.

Also, this really is our fault, but towards the end of the afternoon, we decided to get some drone footage. We must have been out in the sun for a good hour, and we got so burnt. The tops of our feet and the back of our legs got the worse of it. We were burnt for the rest of the trip, which was slightly annoying because we had to be super vigilant about our sunscreen application.

Apart from all this, our day was great! The beach was breathtaking, definitely the nicest one I’ve ever been to. Despite not really being able to swim as much as we would have liked, I’m really glad we got to see it.IMG_5658IMG_5647IMG_5665IMG_5634IMG_5653


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think down below! πŸ™‚

Have a great weekend!

Marilyn

Recap: Chania, Crete

Hi all,

I’m so excited to share the first “recap” post of our trip to Greece. In these recaps, I’ll be sharing what we did, where we stayed, where we ate, along with loads of pictures! They won’t be travel guides per se, as I don’t think we know enough of each city to really be able to give a “professional” opinion.

Let’s start with the few days we spent in Chania, on the island of Crete. We stayed in the old town and it was seriously beautiful. It’s filled with narrow, cobblestone streets and colourful houses. It actually reminded us of Italy.

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I’ll start with a general overview of our stay and will then go more into day by day details.

Where we stayed:

Room Honeymoon. We had the room on the ground floor (there are only 2 rooms in this hotel) and it was very small. We couldn’t comfortably move around the room if our suitcases were open on the ground. However, for $50 per night, we couldn’t really argue. It was in a prime location and was so affordable.IMG_5424

What we did:Β 

  • Visiting the old town, stroll through the harbour
  • Venetian lighthouse
  • Ancient Aptera + Fortress
  • Elafonisi beach

Where we ate:

  • Breakfast: Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery. This cafe was a 30 second walk down the street from our hotel so it was super convenient to have breakfast here. We ate here twice.

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    This is “the view” from the cafe.
  • Dinner: Β –Lithos Restaurant: Facing the harbour. It was tasty but seriously overpriced. Palazzo Almare: Facing the harbour. We had the seafood platter and while some fish was good, we didn’t enjoy all of it, and it Β was very expensive. Semiranos: This one was tucked into tiny streets but it was very good. We had the Cretan pies as a starter and it was probably the best appetizer we had on our entire trip. It was stuffed with spinach and feta, but it had a different shape than the normal spanakopita.
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    The Cretan pies.

     

We also ate gelato every night

Now I’ll go a bit more into detail and our thoughts on this city.

Day 1:

We landed in Chania in the late afternoon and picked up the car at the airport. We rented a car for our 5 days on Crete and I would highly recommend this, especially if you want to see multiple cities (and you most likely want to, since it’s a really big island!).

We drove into Chania and found public parking right down the street from our hotel. We used the car every day and never had an issue finding parking when we came back in the afternoon.

It was raining that day so we just spent the evening walking around the harbour, going to the light house, and just visiting. Dinner: Lithos Restaurant.

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The Old Venetian Harbour.

Day 2:

Breakfast:Β Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We didn’t really have a set plan for the entire island of Crete, so on our first full day in Chania, we decided on a whim to go to the Ancient Aptera. It’s basically Roman ruins, but not nearly as well preserved as in Rome. Some of the structures were very impressive, but the sight itself was kind of an eyesore. There is a theatre, which is nicely preserved though. We also visited a fortress that’s about a one minute drive away from the Aptera.

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The theatre.
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The fortress.
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View from the cliff next to the fortress.

After our time here, we drove back towards Chania and had to stop at a small shopping mall in the beach town of Platanias for some new shoes for Michael, his had gotten completely ruined somehow.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the old town of Chania and doing a little bit of shopping. We tried going to a couple of the museums in town but they were very small and we didn’t really feel like paying for something that would take us 20 minutes to visit.

Dinner:Β Semiranos (this was our favourite dinner in Chania!)

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Day 3:

Breakfast: Starbucks… We really wanted Crepes but the crepe restaurant only opened at 5pm (?!) and we wanted something quick, so this was our only choice…

Lunch: We went to the supermarket the day before and made salami sandwiches.

We went to Elafonisi beach, but I will be doing a whole post just for that beach, as the whole day was a really interesting experience! Once we got back from the beach, we had dinner at Palazzo Almare and just walked around.Β IMG_5428IMG_5429

Day 4:

Breakfast:Β Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We started our drive toward Rethymnon and decided to stop at Lake Kournas, which was probably the best idea we had on the entire trip! Once again though, I will be going into more details about Lake Kournas in my next Greece recap post: Rethymnon.


I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment down below πŸ™‚

Have a great weekend,

Marilyn

Tips To Help You Save Money + Why It’s Important

Hi all,

I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while and finally decided to go for it, as I think it’s really important to know how to manage your money, especially as a teenager/young adult. Michael and I were sitting on our balcony in Santorini last month, watching the sunset, and I just kept thinking that I’m so grateful we’ve been smart enough with our money, to be able to splurge on experiences like these. We have seen so many people around us blow their money on drinking and useless spending, ultimately leading them to live from pay check to pay check. While I know some people enjoy that lifestyle, it was never for us, we always thought it was important to be wise with our money.

I’ve been working since I was sixteen, and pretty much saved every penny from my first three years of work. Except for a few clothing items I bought at the store I worked at and a last-minute trip to Punta Cana with Michael, I saved all the money I made. I never made any big purchases, I was very careful with what I spent my money on and weighed each decision before swiping my card. I learned the value of money at a young age and it was only when I moved onto a significantly higher paying job that I allowed myself to splurge on a few items (like a car and a Kate Spade purse!)

It also helps that I’m not the type of person to go out and party every weekend. I understand how fast money can be gone. In the few times that I’ve gone out, I must have spent about $40 each time for a couple drinks… that adds up quickly!

For me, saving money for my future was always important. I wanted to make sure that I had enough if ever something happened and that I would have enough for a down payment on a house when I graduate school. This end goal definitely helped me remain on track, money-saving wise.

Here are some of my tips:

  • First decide what you want to save money for. Is it a long term goal- a house, for example, that would require you save for a long period of time? Or is it a short-term goal- a Europe trip for example, that would require you to save lots in a short amount of time? This will help you decide how much you should be putting into your savings every pay check (more on that below).
  • Make a list of your necessary monthly expenses. This will allow you to see exactly what needs to be spent and what will remain from your pay checks. It will give you a realistic idea of how much you can hope to save in one year, for example. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. If buying clothes is a necessary expense for you, then write it down. Although I would recommend you write down things that you wouldn’t be able to live without; food, gas, etc.
  • Make a list of things you could cut out of your budget- make concessions. I really do think that to save money, you do need to tighten your belt a little bit and cut out some unnecessary spending. I love shopping as much as the next blogger, but I know this can quickly eat away at my savings. As a general rule, other than a few items of clothing here and there, I tend to limit my shopping sprees to twice a year. I always take a small trip with my mom and brother to the US at the end of summer, so this is when I get some clothes for back to school. The other time is either after Christmas so I can take advantage of after Christmas sales, or in the spring, so that I can get some summer clothes. If you spend $50 a month on manicures and you can live with doing it at home for a couple of years, scrap it. It doesn’t seem like much, but that’s $600 a year! You can do lots with $600!
  • Save, save, save and save some more!Β Financial professionals will give you various percentages that you should spend and save from your pay check, but I believe that this varies from person to person. When I first started working, my percentage was practically 100% save. As I moved onto the higher-paying job, I found myself spending more because I could justify it with the higher pay, and this was when I had to remind myself that I should be saving more. At one point, I was automatically putting 50% in my savings, and keeping the other 50% in my checking account. This however did not mean that I was automatically spending the other 50%, it was just there if I needed it. If you really want to be strict about saving, I would recommend a 75-25 saving-spending percentage. The saving percentage can be higher if you want it to, it’s not necessary to spend!
  • Have two accounts: a savings and a checking.Β This is especially great if you can have your savings account not linked to your debit card. This way, you won’t be able to access your savings when you’re shopping, restricting what you can spend even further. Also, having to do a few extra steps (transferring x amount from one account to the other, waiting for it to get processed, etc) might deter you from actually doing it.
  • Find a balance. Even though I can be strict with my money, I do think it’s important to find a balance. I don’t spend much on clothes or electronics, but I don’t necessarily budget when it comes to a trip. I love travelling and I don’t want to sacrifice certain things on a trip because it might be the only time I get to go there! I really do think you can take advantage of your young years without destroying your future.
  • Make a mood board with your goals (financial or otherwise). This one doesn’t only pertain to saving money, but if you have a picture of your goals right in front of you, it will be much easier to stick to your plan!

Thank you so much for reading, I really hope you enjoyed these tips! Do you have a tip that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear it!

Marilyn

Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding Recipe

Hi all,

I’ve been loving this recipe lately! It’s great for breakfast and makes for a very filling snack. Plus it’s dairy-free!

What you’ll need:

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  • 2 cups of fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

What to do:

  1. Place the strawberries, maple syrup, coconut milk and vanilla bean extract in a blender and blend until smooth.IMG_7228IMG_7230
  2. Place the chia seeds in a bowl and pour the strawberry mixture over it. Whisk very well. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then whisk it again.IMG_7232IMG_7234

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    Whisking it after 10 minutes.
  3. Cover and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. I like to leave it in overnight so that it gets really thick.IMG_7239
  4. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading! What’s your favourite chia pudding recipe?

Marilyn

2 Week Greece Itinerary

Hi all,

I wanted to share our itinerary for the two weeks we recently spent in Greece. I’ll start by listing what we did and below I’ll speak about what I wish we had done differently.

Day 1: Travel to Athens overnight

Day 2: Land in Athens in the morning and travel to Chania, Crete. Pick up rental car. Spend night in Chania.

Day 3: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 4: Spend the day + night inΒ Chania.

Day 5: Travel to Rethymnon, Crete + spend the night.

Day 6: Travel to Heraklion, Crete + spend the night. Drop off rental care in the afternoon.

Day 7: Take a high speed ferry to Santorini. Spend the rest of the day in Santorini.

Day 8: Spend the day in Santorini.

Day 9: Take high speed ferry to the island of Paros. Spend the night in Naoussa.

Day 10: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 11: Spend day + night in Naoussa. Excursion to Antiparos on this day.

Day 12: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 13: Travel by ferry to Athens. Spend the night in Athens.

Day 14: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 15: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 16: Come home 😦

What we would change:

I planned this trip rather quickly and decided on the three islands pretty randomly. Other than Santorini, I just took a chance with Crete and Paros. While we enjoyed our time in Crete, looking back on it, I’m not sure if I should have chosen this island. We felt like we were in Italy rather than in Greece.

We ended in Athens and I think I would have preferred to start there, since it was our least favourite part of the trip. It would have been better to start with “the worst part” and end with the best. Although it did make coming home a bit easier since we were eager to leave the city! (I know this may sound pretentious, but while we loved visiting the ruins, the city itself isn’t very nice- it’s not clean and it felt unsafe. I will be delving into more details with a full blog post on Athens in the next months.)

This is just the itinerary, I’ll definitely be writing more posts about what we did in each city in the next couple of months so make sure to check back for those! You can also subscribe to my blog that way you’ll never miss when a new post comes out!


Thank you so much for reading!

Marilyn

Summer Reading List

Hi all,

I know we’re already halfway into summer break, but I wanted to share my reading list for the rest of the break. I actually read a few of these while on vacation and will be reading the rest in the next couple of months. As you’ll see, I love to read a mix of teen and adult fiction. I love “beach” reads; books that don’t really require much concentration and that you can breeze through in one sitting. Here we go.

  1. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han
  3. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Paris For One by Jojo Moyes
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  6. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (I always like to read the book before I see the movie)
  7. Confessions Of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella- I’ve seen the movie multiple times and have the book, but have yet to read it, I think it’s time that I do!

What are some of the books on your summer reading list? I’d love some more suggestions!

Have a wonderful week!

Marilyn

What’s In My Carry-On?

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing what I carry with me on the plane. If I’m going on a beach vacation, I take my beach bag as my carry-on so that I don’t waste space in my suitcase. For this trip to Greece, I took my backpack so that I can fit a lot more in it. So what do I bring with me?

  • Empty water bottle: I bring this so that I can always have water on me while we’re travelling/sightseeing so I don’t have to buy water wherever we go.
  • Neck pillow
  • Earphones
  • Lip balm + important liquids & medication
  • Book
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Travel documents
  • An extra outfit: When I’m travelling in the summer, I always make sure to bring an extra pair of shorts, one top, one pair of underwear and a bathing suit, just in case our luggage gets lost.
  • Chargers
  • Sweater: I don’t put this in my bag, I wear it, but I don’t ever take a flight without having a sweater.
  • Snacks
  • Sun hat

Thanks for reading! What’s one thing you can’t travel without?

Marilyn