Bella Vida by Letty

travel tips

10 INSPIRING TRAVEL COFFEE TABLE BOOKS

10-inspiring-travel-coffee-table-books

I have a great love of books and cozy spaces. I take great comfort in lounging on the couch near my bookshelves and indulging in some hard earned me time. When I’m not traveling of love perusing images and books for inspiration. Once my imagination gets going my creativity really begins to flow.

These books are truly beautiful to look at.

travel coffee table books

Follow Me To

The Follow Me project was created in 2012 based on the concept of showing the beauty and uniqueness of different locations around the world. It is a story told through the eyes of two ordinary travelers who attempt to portray local lifestyles and narratives by means of photography. 

travel coffee table books

The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World 

From Lonely Planet The world’s leading travel guide publisher.  Take a journey through every country in the world.

travel coffee table books

Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips

Pack your suitcase, load up the car, and head for the open road! In the tradition of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s award-winning annual feature showcasing the world’s best auto trips, National Geographic presents Drives of a Lifetime: Where to Go, Why to Go, When to Go. This lavishly illustrated, hardcover travel planner and gift book gives you every bit of information you’ll need to navigate 400 amazing driving routes in some of the world’s most fascinating locales.

travel coffee table books

Beaches 

Gray Malin is the artist of the moment for the Hollywood and fashion elite. His awe-inspiring aerial photographs of beaches around the world are shot from doorless helicopters, creating playful and stunning celebrations of light, shape, and perspective, as well as summer bliss. Combining the spirit of travel, adventure, luxury, and artistry, Malin built his eponymous lifestyle brand from a deep passion for photography and interior design.

travel coffee table books

Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country 

From Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel guide publisher, Wine Trails, the first book in Lonely Planet’s “Perfect Weekends” series, introduces the secret gems in well-known regions such as Napa and Sonoma, Tuscany, Burgundy and Rioja, and also explores off-the-beaten-path regions in Georgia, Greece and beyond.

travel coffee table bookstravel coffee table books

Paris in Color 

Take a journey through the world’s most romantic city, traveling from color to magnificent color with this beguiling book. An orange café chair, bright blue bicycles against a fence, a weathered white door—Nichole Robertson’s sumptuous photographs of the distinctive details of Paris, all arranged by color, evoke a sense of serendipitous discovery and celebrate the city as never before. At once a work of art and a window into the heart of the city, Paris in Color will surprise and delight those who love art, design, color, and, of course, Paris!

travel coffee table books

The Seasons of New York

New York is one of the most ever-changing and photogenic places in the world. Featuring full-color photographs of well-known landmarks from all five boroughs—from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to South Street Seaport, as well as secret treasures throughout the city—this visual celebration of New York in all of its seasonal splendor is a perfect take-home souvenir for a tourist or a treasured gift for a resident New Yorker. 

travel coffee table books

See San Francisco: Through the Lens of SFGirlbyBay

From internationally popular design blogger SF Girl By Bay comes the ultimate love letter to San Francisco. This gorgeously photographed lifestyle guide gives readers an insider’s tour of the City by the Bay through Victoria Smith’s unique lens. Organized by neighborhood, each chapter features enchanting photos of hidden corners, local color, landmarks, and hot spots, revealing why so many people, Victoria included, fall head over heels for this amazing city. Brimming with original, dreamy photography and packaged as a gorgeous jacketed hardcover, this lovely book makes a perfect gift for photography fans, San Francisco dwellers, visitors to the city, or those who have left their hearts in San Francisco.

travel coffee table books

The New York Times: 36 Hours

To travel in North America is to face a delicious quandary: over these vast spaces with so many riches, from glittering cities to eccentric small towns and heart-stoppingly beautiful mountains and plains, how to experience as much as possible in limited time? The New York Times has the answer, and has been offering up dream weekends with practical itineraries in its popular weekly “36 Hours” column for over a decade. 

travel coffee table books

Great Escapes Italy 

To travel through Italy is as close as one gets to being in paradise. For centuries, writers, artists, architects and merchants have been drawn here, inspired by the beauty of Venice, Florence, Naples and Rome. Countless books, paintings, poems and sculptures are evidence of its undying appeal, and over the past 60 years, the country has become one of the world’s top travel and holiday destinations. The loveliness of Italy—its architecture, landscapes, culture and food (some of the world’s finest!) — if not eternal, is certainly enduring, and the easy-going and relaxed Italian lifestyle, il dolce far niente, is still unrivaled.

You can purchase any of these wonderful books via the link or by clicking on the image.

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Best Gift Ideas for Travelers a Gift Guide

Shopping for the holidays can be extremely overwhelming. Here is a thoughtfully curated holiday gift guide for all of the travel lovers in your life.

cases-collage

Travel cases and accessory organizers are a must for trips.  Packing organizers allow you to fit more into your bag and stay organized when traveling.  You can fit more into your bag and your belongings are better protected. Minimize and organize with these travel packing aids.

Travel Gear Electronics Accessories Organizer 

2 in 1 Trunk Organizer & Cooler Set

Makeup Artist Clear PVC Set Bag

Travel Black Leather Jewelry Box Lockable 

Lingerie Travel Bag

maps-collage

Prints, posters and canvas Maps of their favorite places.  Art just makes you feel good especially pieces with a strong connection to good memories.  There is an aesthetic emotional response to art and it is the qualities in an object that evoke this emotion.  

Massimo Vignelli New York Subway Map

 

Chicago Railroad Blueprint Map

Monuments of Paris Map

Central London Neighborhoods Map

Washington DC Street Map

Old Map Art

glasses-collage

I drink coffee and tea everyday.  I cannot have to many because they end up broken or missing.   A cool cup, mug or glass is a great reminder of good times.

Washington DC Subway lines Map mug 

Wine Glass Washington DC State Runner

Starbucks Chicago Dot Collection 2015 Ceramic Double Wall Traveler Tumbler 

Boston Sport Water Bottle

Paris coffee mug

French Lilacs Ceramic Travel Mug 

games-collageThere are many benefits to playing boardgames such as; spending time with family and friends. Engaging in activities that do not involve staring at a computer screen or a smartphone. Exercise your brain by learning something new.Improve your memory by keeping track of what is happening in the game.  Revive your creativity and problem solving skills.  And mostly just having fun.  Here are some cool fun games for the travel lovers in your life.

Monopoly Here and Now World

Scrabble 3D World Edition

Talicor Where In The World

Brainbox All Around The World

Passport To Culture

Sequence States and Capitals

Map of the World Jigsaw Puzzle

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The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown Washington DC

the exorcist steps

The Exorcist steps are famous for being featured in one of the scariest horror films of all time, The Exorcist. The book and film are loosely based on an actual events.  The novel was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession and exorcism that American author William Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University.  The Academy Award winning movie which came out in 1973 is about an actress filming in Georgetown who seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter when the teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity.

the exorcist steps

The Exorcist steps are 75 concrete stairs located in Georgetown at the corner of Prospect St NW and 36th St NW, leading down to M Street NW.  The stairs were built in 1890 as a shortcut between M Street and Prospect Street.

I visited right before sunset and did find the place creepy.  Nested between an ivy covered stone wall and a brick warehouse with dumpsters overflowing with stinky garbage.

Yes, they are very long and steep.  The height of the steps are equivalent to a five story building.  I gripped the railing all the way down pausing only to snap some pics.

exorcist stairs

The stairs appear in the scene where the priest sacrifices his life to save the girl.  This is a definite stop to take photos for every horror movie fan.  A visit an iconic spot in cinema history is a must. It’s one of the most famous steps in the world.

On Halloween of 2015, more than 40 years after the film was released, Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council member Jack Evans memorialized the steps with a plaque with  Director William Friedkin and and writer William Peter Blatty on hand.

 

exorciststeps

Depending on the time of your visit you might find the steps crowded with people exercising and lots of the students from Georgetown University.

Have you visited the Exorcist Steps in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC?

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Books that Will Make You Want to Travel

My daily reading habits include news and social media but in addition I try to always have some fiction and non-fiction to read. I particularly love books that inspire me to imagine and create.   Just like reading travel expands our minds, our horizons and limits. Reading fills us with knowledge, mental stimulation and of course entertainment. The wonderful thing about books is you can take them anywhere. You can stash a whole library on your phone.

Here a few books that will inspire you to travel:

the alchemist

 

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” 
— Paulo Coelho 

 

on the road jack kerouac

On the Road

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” 

— Jack Kerouac 

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” 

― Jack Kerouac

 

My Brilliant Friend Neapolitan Novels

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

“Everything in the world was in precarious balance, pure risk, and those who didn’t agree to take the risk wasted away in a corner, without getting to know life.” Elena Ferrante

“Nowhere is it written that you can’t do it.”  Elena Ferrante

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional–but is it more true?

“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”  Yann Martel 

1000 Places to see before you die

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

It’s the journey of a lifetime, every month—and the perfect gift for the traveler and anyone who dreams of traveling. Written by Patricia Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and illustrated with full-color photographs, each month is a to-die-for itinerary. Discover exotic and culturally rich Uzbekistan. Cruise America’s “favorite drive” in autumn, the winding Blue Ridge Parkway. And experience the light that captivated so many Impressionist painters in Normandy. Each month features a large photograph, smaller images throughout the grid, a map, must-see attractions, and local history.

“If you’re waiting for a special occasion to make your next trip happen, then consider this: The day you get off the couch and head for the airport, that’s the special occasion.” 

— Patricia Schultz 

“As Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, I had “an everlasting itch for things remote.” 

— Patricia Schultz

 

What are some of your favorite books that inspire you to travel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

When I visit a place I really enjoy exploring and uncovering hidden gems. Since I’m a die hard road tripper this includes surrounding areas of wherever I may be. While I visited Chicago last summer I searched for things to do within driving distance of the windy city. Starved Rock State park turned out to be the perfect place to spend the day since I love exercising outdoors and being surrounded by nature.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Starved Rock State Park is only a one and half hour drive from the city of Chicago along the south bank of the Illinois River. It is a pleasant surprise since most of Illinois consists of flat prairies. It was formed thousands of years ago by melting glaciers. The water rushed and eroded everything except the sandstone. Today you can see steep rock walls, cool dark valleys, bluffs, gorges and canyons.

This beautiful park has many things you can do: hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, etc. There are cabins and of course the Lodge for extended visits.

hiking tip

Planning your Visit

Before you go I highly recommend checking the website or calling the park for conditions. I visited on a very hot afternoon toward the end of July. The park had experienced lots of flooding, which meant parts were inaccessible which limited the things to do. Flooding is common in the area and some people even recommend hiking in rain boots. So call ahead and find out what to bring.

Upon arrival we parked near the lodge where there were plenty of empty spaces. Head inside and grab yourself a map. They have a visitor’s center, gift shop and dining if you need supplies. In addition there are many other lots to park at depending on how long or far you want to go and what you want to see.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Since we were only there for a few hours we chose the trail leading us to the bluff and gorgeous views of the Illinois River. It was very hot that day. You can experience all four season on any given day in Illinois so I recommend layers you can take off and put on as needed. Each person in the group had their own water and snack supply. These are not easy trails. If you do not exercise regularly you may find the trails challenging. The boardwalk has many many many stairs, which take you up and down for miles and miles. There are also dirt paths you can take all throughout the park. Some were quite muddy and we had to make many detours. Our trail led us through a lush green forest of oak and hickory trees, through the canyon and to a grand view of the Illinois River.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Details

Hours: Visitors Center: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00pm

Prices: Free to Public. Prices for tours, activities and boat rentals vary.

Activities:

This is one place I would love to come back and visit to explore the other trails. During the springtime there are waterfalls and during winter ice falls and that is something I’d love to see.

Have you been?

 

 

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Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Boston is Massachusetts’ capital and largest city. It is one of the oldest cities in the US and it’s rich political history has greatly impacted the way the US government runs today. Whatever type of travel experience you are looking for there is something on this list of things to do in Boston for you. The city is vibrant with all kinds of activities whether you’re a sports fan, enjoy the outdoors, are seeking culture or are a huge history buff.

What to Do

The Freedom Trail

Take a Freedom Trail Tour. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. Starting at the visitor’s center of the beautiful Boston Common the tour led by costumed guides. It’s a great way to learn about and see some of Boston’s most important sites.

Insider tip

Wear comfortable shoes.  It’s a very long walk.

Granary Burying Ground

One of the more interesting stops on the Freedom Trail was the Granary Burying Ground. Founded in 1660 it is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence; Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.  Also, prominently displayed in the Burying Ground is an obelisk erected in 1827 to the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin who was born in Boston and is buried in Philadelphia.

Quincy Market

Explore South Market and Quincy Square near Faneuil Hall. Quincy Market is a historic market complex near Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was constructed in 1824 and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized its construction without any tax or debt. There are many places to eat and shops for purchasing souvenirs.

Insider tip

This is a touristy area always buzzing with people.  Enjoy the street performers which appear at any time of day.

boston

Take the subway over to the Skywalk Observatory.  The Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower. It is the second tallest skyscraper in the City of Boston. Enjoy amazing views of the Boston’s famous landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park, Boston Harbor and much more.

Click here for more photos.

Boston Ducktour

Boston Duck Tours is a very fun way to explore the city of Boston. You a great overview of the city, see many unique neighborhoods and splash into the Charles River for a breathtaking view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines.  It was a blast.

New England Aquarium

Visit the New England Aquarium and check out the four-story Caribbean coral reef teeming with more than 1,000 animals.

Greenway Carousel

Ride the unusual Greenway carousel.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of places to stay in the city however, during my visit there were several conventions going on so most places were booked. I ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham. Hilton is a reliable established brand with comfortable, clean rooms. It is located in a quiet area, which is just a short drive into Boston.

What to Eat

Having some clam chowder at Finz at Pickering Wharf in Salem Ma #food #foodie #visitma #travel #instagood #bellavidabyletty

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Boston is the place to eat great seafood. It is home to some of the world’s most amazing lobster rolls, clam chowder and fish especially cod dishes.  Go try some.

#boston lobster rolls #food #foodie #foodlove #instagood #instalove #bellavidabyletty #visitma

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Have you been to Boston?

What were some of your favorite things to do?

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How to Start a Travel Inspiration Journal

How to Create a Travel Inspiration Journal

How to Start a Travel Inspiration Journal

An inspiration journal is central place where you can jot down ideas and other things that will inspire you to achieve your goals. It can help you get started, unstuck, or maybe lead you into a completely different direction but mainly motivates you into action.

You can create an entire journal of strictly inspiration or like me have a combination of places I’ve enjoyed and would love to revisit along with bucket lists of things I’d like to do and places I’d like to see.

When we travel the experience is usually over far too quickly. By journaling we get to explore how we felt about the places we went to and the activities we participated in. We get to know ourselves better by clarifying our thoughts.

Journals also serve as records. We can record our progress or expound on the places we’ve been. Sometimes it’s helpful to look back so we can realize all that we’ve accomplished.

 

These books will get your creativity started.
An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers

travel journal

When we travel, we don’t want to follow the same itinerary as everyone who’s come before us. We want to feel like explorers, adventurers in undiscovered territory. And that’s exactly what sketching can bring to the travel experience.

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World

travel sketching

The book, Art of Urban Sketching by Gariel Campanario, takes you around the world by showing you the stylings of urban sketchers spanning every continent and into 30 countries. Filled with more than 500 full colored illustrations drawn on location by artists within their own cities, you will hear their stories while learning expert tips and ideas for tools to use for sketching, as well as how to participate through social networking and online activity.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

travel journal

An artist’s journal is packed with sketches and captions; some rough, some polished. The margins sometimes spill over with hurriedly scrawled shopping lists and phone numbers. The cover may be travel-worn and the pages warped from watercolors. Open the book, and raw creativity seeps from each color and line. The intimacy and freedom on its pages are almost like being inside the artist’s mind: You get a direct window into risks, lessons, mistakes, and dreams.

A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks – 230 Artists – 30 Countries

travel journal

By nature, art journaling is a private activity. But when Dawn Sokol’s first book, 1000 Artist Journal Pages, broke the fourth wall and shared the work of artists all over North America and parts of Europe, it created a ripple of inspiration throughout the art journaling community. In this much-anticipated follow-up, Sokol features more than 1,000 new, captivating pages, this time—by popular demand—from artists across the globe. Lists of techniques and materials used for each page, plus behind-the-scenes interviews, give readers a glimpse inside the minds of new and established artists, making this a stimulating compilation sure to inspire beginners and seasoned art journalers alike.
Books for  traveling writing inspiration.

Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler (Travelers’ Tales)

travel writing

Two major trends have recently swept the travel world: the first, an overwhelming desire (thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love) to write one’s own memoir; the second, an explosion of social media, blogs, twitter and texts, which allow travelers to document and share their experiences instantaneously. Thus, the act of chronicling one’s journey has never been more popular, nor the urge stronger.

Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, will inspire budding memoirists and jetsetting scribes alike. But Writing Away doesn’t stop there—author Lavinia Spalding spins the romantic tradition of keeping a travelogue into a modern, witty adventure in awareness, introducing the traditional handwritten journal as a profoundly valuable tool for self-discovery, artistic expression, and spiritual growth.

Writing Away teaches you to embrace mishaps in order to enrich your travel experience, recognize in advance what you want to remember, tap into all your senses, and connect with the physical world in an increasingly technological age. It helps you overcome writer’s block and procrastination; tackle the discipline, routine, structure, and momentum that are crucial to the creative process; and it demonstrates how traveling—while keeping a journal along the way—is the world’s most valuable writing exercise.

Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!)

travel writing

Most travel diaries fizzle. By day six of a big trip, people are struggling to recall what happened on days three, four, and five. They return home with mostly empty journals, or bland writing that fails to capture the full spirit of their journeys. Award-winning travel humorist Dave Fox comes to the rescue in this book that’s both informative and irreverently funny. You’ll learn to: Bring destinations to life with bold details.Splash those details quickly onto your pages so journaling doesn’t gobble up your precious vacation time.Elude your Inner Censor and write with confidence.Weave together your outer and inner journeys, using unfamiliar places as a backdrop for self-discovery.

Dave shares his favorite journaling techniques, shows how to find time to write in the middle of an exciting trip, and infuses it all with a generous dose of his off-the-wall humor. Whether your journeys are weekend road trips or excursions around the world, this book will help transform you into a travel journaling superhero!

 

Once you’ve found some inspiration to get you started choose the type of sketchbook, binder or journal you would like to use.

journals binders

Carolina Pad Studio C Zip-it Notebook with Zipper Pouch Cover 

Pocket Leather Journal with Owl Handmade Blank Craft Paper Brown  with Gift Box 

or binder

Kate’s Paperie Binder with Set of 3 Journals, The Art of Travel 

Genuine Leather Journal Notebook Refillable with Cool Lock 6-ring Loose Leaf Binder

UniKeep Travel Binder – Ocean

I’m inspired by colors, textures, mixed media, positive quotes, photos, places, travel, sewing, fashion,jewelry, music, art, painting, movies, stories . . .

travel journal entry ideas

Ideas to get you going.

Top ten list
Bucket list
Favorite travel quotes
Favorite places
Start with a map
Start with a ticket stub
Start with a postcard
Cut out magazine photos
Start with a photo you took
Favorite thing you ate
Describe the smells
Describe the texture
Describe the taste
Most exciting
Least exciting
I’ll never do that again

 

Do you have a travel inspiration journal?

 

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Things to do in Chicago Take in the Willis Tower Views

Things to do in Chicago

The Willis Tower was originally built and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower. This 108-story skyscraper is one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, Illinois. It took 2,000 workers three years to build and has been open to the public since 1974. It’s the second tallest in North America and the Western Hemisphere and the eight tallest building in the world.

Skydeck Willis Tower

If you’re visiting Chicago I highly recommend checking out the views from this iconic skyscraper. The Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the United States and from the 103rd floor features expansive views of the city and lake front. Visibility from the Skydeck is approximately 40-50 miles. On a clear day you can see four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Fun Fact

The average sway of the building is six inches from true center. But don’t worry the building is designed to sway up to 3 feet and you won’t feel it anyway.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Insider Tip

The Willis Tower Skydeck is a popular attraction, which receives about 25,000 people each day. The best times to visit are either early morning or evening. One way to beat the long lines and save money is to purchase a Chicago CityPASS. If you purchase the booklet ahead of time you can totally by pass super long lines and go straight to the elevator that swoops you up to the Skydeck.

The CityPASS also includes entrance to Chicago’s most popular attractions, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute, Museum of Science, Planetarium, etc. It comes out way cheaper than purchasing tickets for each individual attraction. Especially if you’re traveling as a family.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Chicago CityPASS  ~ See the Best and Save Money

 

Have you visited the Skydeck at the Willis Tower?

Where you brave enough to step out onto the platform?

Willis Tower related products.

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Most Popular Travel Magazines

Most Popular Travel Magazines

popular travel magazines Collage

While I sometimes read on my phone or kindle I still really enjoy reading books and magazines.  I take them with me when I’m traveling, to the beach, on the plane, in the car, etc.   I enjoy flipping through the pages and taking my time looking at the photography.  I find it inspiring to read about other peoples experiences and travel stories from all around the world.

 

 

Condé Nast Traveler 

Condé Nast Traveler  travel magazine

From the pages of Condé Nast Traveler, you’ll discover breathtaking destinations, including the best islands, cities, spas and cruises. Each issue is filled with travel secrets of celebrated writers and sophisticated travelers; featuring the culture, architecture, cuisine and shopping that complete the travel experience. An annual subscription also includes our must-have Gold List, Reader’s Choice and Hot List issues.

Backpacker

backpaker travel magazine

Magazine of wilderness travel offering practical “you can do it–here’s how” advice to enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips with fold-out maps and stunning color photography.

National Geographic Traveler

national geographic travel magazine

National Geographic Traveler magazine brings the world to your doorstep with lively articles told in a storytelling style and gorgeous photography that inspires wanderlust. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or someone who takes a few international trips each year, you’ll be immersed in multiple fascinating destinations in each issue.

Islands

Islands travel magazine

Islands Magazine is one of the most informative publications around. It focuses exclusively on island vacations and features thoughtful articles with themes of white beaches, crystal clear skies, and blue oceans. All of this is presented with stunning photography and high-quality printing. The magazine does a great job of inspiring would-be travelers to visit featured islands.

AFAR

Afar travel magazine

AFAR is a different kind of travel magazine that guides and inspires those who travel the world seeking to connect with its people, experience their cultures, and understand their perspectives. Every issue delivers intriguing travel stories told with beautiful photos and a fresh design.

Travel 50 & Beyond

travel magazine

This magazine is designed for readers ages 50 or older. It features practical tips and vacation ideas geared toward finding the best values while traveling. Its editorial focus is primarily on North American destinations.

Sunset

Sunset travel magazine

Sunset magazine is one of the leading publications to bring all things found and made in the West into the hands of people across the country. From great restaurants to places to travel to for a little rest and relaxation to inspired ideas for decorating your home and improving your garden, Sunset magazine is dedicated to presenting you with the most beautiful aspects of the West.

Travel + Leisure

travel magazine

Travel + Leisure magazine is one of the most popular travel publications in the world. Unlike other magazines devoted to traveling within a specific country, this magazine highlights far-flung destinations in the United States and abroad. Readers will find tips on traveling around the world, destinations for adventure travelers, and even some budget-friendly ideas.

Cruise Travel

cruise travel magazine

The exciting and romantic world of cruise vacations is yours! This industry-leading magazine features Ship of the Month, Port of the Month, Cruise of the Month, along with seasonal Cruise Calendars that provide itineraries, ports-of-call, and prices. Every aspect of cruising is covered from planning, dress codes, shore excursions, and shopping, to wheelchairs and special needs. Plus, the Annual Cruise Directory is the definitive must-have guide for vacationers and agencies alike.

Trailer Life

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 12.56.18 PM

Everything about Travel Trailers and How To RV from Trailer Life Magazine.

Food and Travel

food and travel magazine

Food and Travel is a British magazine offering stunning photography, delicious recipes, news, and travel features every month. Regular features include articles on weekend getaways and travel hot-spots, cooking tips, hotel and inn profiles, and traveling on a budget.

Roadrunner Motorcycle Touring & Travel

road runner travel magazine

RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel is the premier magazine offering the motorcycle enthusiast first-hand cruising experiences and exciting destinations for motorcycle vacations here and abroad. Each issue features descriptive tours, maps, photos,product reviews,vehicle and equipment test data.

Travel – Sunday Times Travel Magazine

travel magazine

A Sunday Times Travel Magazine subscription brings you the best writers, the best photography and the best, practical, in-depth travel information every month.

Have you read any of these magazines?

What are some of your favorite travel magazines?

 

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Road Trip Emergency Essentials Checklist

Get ready for your next trip with this list of road trip emergency  essentials.

Road Trip Emergency Essentials Checklist

Taking road trips is one of the most common ways to vacation.  It’s more affordable and a great way to explore new places, relax and have some fun making new memories.  Make sure your car is ready to go with this checklist.

1. Spare tire
2. Tire jack
3. Tire iron
4. Tire inflator and sealer
5. Jumper cables
6. Your car’s manual
7. Car emergency kit
8. Tire pressure gauge
9. Duct tape
10. WD-40
11. First aid kit
12. Flashlight
13. Multi-tool
14. Matches or other fire starter
15. Energy bars
16. Water bottles
17. Weather radio
18. Seat belt cutter
19. Window breaker
20. Flares
21. Maps / Atlas
22. Ice scraper
23. Mylar space blanket
24. Paper towels
25. Tissues
26. Toilet paper
27. Wet wipes
28. Pencil and paper
29. Umbrella
30. Spare change/emergency money
31. Blanket
32. Change of clothes
33. USB mobile device charger

 

Are you prepared for your next road trip?

Do you have any suggestions to add?

 

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Popular Electronic Travel Games For All Ages

Popular Electronic Travel Games For All Ages

This is a curated list of popular electronic travel games for all ages.  Games are sure to make the time fly and make the journey more pleasant.  Some journeys can be long or sometimes get delayed.  I tried to chose a variety of games.  Some of these games are educational, build your memory or are just plain classics.

 

sudoku

1. Akira Electronic Sudoku Number Puzzle Handheld Travel Game 

Sudoku is a logic-based number placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 boxes (also called blocks or regions) contains the digits from 1 to 9 only one time each. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid.

solitare

2.Mega Screen Solitaire

Mega Screen Solitaire. Two games in one! Plays Draw 1 or Draw 3 Klondike Solitaire. Have fun with large screen for easy viewing and an auto shut off.

hangman

3. Handheld Pocket Arcade Electronic Hangman Game

The classic handheld Hangman game with over 6,000 word vocabulary. Includes 6 Categories: Sports, Science, History, Art & Literature, Geography, And Entertainment.

tetris

4. WOLSEN Handheld Game Tetris

The classic Tetris game,Featuring many variations of the addictive Tetris game with radio function, can search multiple FM channels.

game console

5. My Arcade Portable Gaming System 

Soar the skies, solve puzzles, play golf or tennis and much more. My Arcade Portable Gaming System is loaded with 140 fun and easy to play video games! Simply power on the system and start playing, anywhere, anytime!

donkey kong

6. LCD Portable Game Console w/ Speaker – Bulit-in 152 Games 

Great for fans of Mario Bros, Pac-man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter and Ninja Gaiden!
This handheld portable video game console comes loaded with 150 classic 8-Bit vintage games and comes in a convenient pocket size so you can play anywhere on the go!

simon says

7. Simon Electronic Carabiner Hand-Held Memory Game

The classic electronic game of memory is back in take everywhere carabineer format. Ever-increasing sequences of lights and sounds command your response. Keep the pattern and you just might beat Simon!

brain games

8. Electronic Brain Trainer Video Game with 10 Games 

Perform basic training for attention, memory, computation, analysis, response and other important skills with this go anywhere Electronic Brain Trainer.

handheld games

9. I’m Game 180 Games Handheld Player 

The GP 180 Handheld Game Player provides a fantastic variety of exciting and challenging games for children of all ages. Bundling 180 Games into one convenient player that fits in your pocket, this is an ideal choice for entertainment on-the-go. The player includes sports, adventure and puzzle games as well as thinking and learning games involving memory, math, and logic.

chess

10. Electronic Chess Travel Game

The unit has 3 Levels of play and Take-back of 2 Half Moves.

mr potato head

11. 1997 Hasbro MR POTATO HEAD Handheld Learning Electronic Travel Game

Mr Potato Head Learning Electronic talking toy with 5 different learning games on it.

operation

12. Operation Electronic Carabiner

It takes a sharp eye and quick hand! The Operation electronic carabiner allows you to test your operating skills anywhere and anytime. Follow the path; up, down, left or right, just donメt cross over the path or youメll get a time penalty. Remove all thirteen ailments from Cavity Sam, before the time runs out and youメll move onto the next level. Youメll have less time with each new level. Be fast, be precise ヨ beat all 30 levels ad become the new operating expert!

baseball

13. Electronic Baseball Handheld Game

Retro Style Electronic Handheld Baseball Game with Improved Sound Effects – updated from earlier Basic Fun version. Great Retro fun!!

space invaders

14. Space Invaders Electronic Carabiner

Space Invaders – Beware of the invasion – with the Space Invaders electronic carabiner! Use the laser cannon by moving it horizontally across the bottom of the screen, while firing at the descending aliens to earn points. The more aliens defeated the faster they attack. You must defeat the aliens through all 10 levels to stop the invasion before the aliens destroy your cannon and take control. Good luck and good shooting.

blackjack

15.  Pocket Blackjack 21

The pocket-size portability and casino-style of Pocket Blackjack 21 will provide hours of fun anytime, anywhere. Test your blackjack skills. See if you can beat the dealer without going over 21 to win big!

 

Have you played these games?

What’s your favorite electronic game?

 

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Things to do in Florida at Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

hollywood broadwalk

Here’s an insider tip for things to do in Florida.  One of my very favorite hometown hangouts is the Hollywood Broadwalk.  No, that’s not a typo. The city named the boardwalk The Hollywood Broadwalk.

Did you know there is a city in Florida named Hollywood?

Not very many people do.  It’s the complete opposite of the one out in California.  Located between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale this small beach town is very diverse receiving visitors from all over the world. It’s relaxed, laid back and family friendly.

Hollywood Boulevard ends at A1A where you can access Surf Road and the Hollywood Broadwalk. The Broadwalk stretches for about two and half miles.  On one side of the Broadwalk are seven miles of sand with the view of the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean, which changes from jade to turquoise depending on the light.  The other side of the Hollywood Broadwalk is lined with shops, cafes, ice cream shops, restaurants, hotels, inns and other businesses.

Experience South Florida the way the locals do.

Hollywood Broadwalk Collage

See

If you park at the north end at Sheridan Street there is a viewing deck where you can climb up a few stories to take in the beautiful beach view from above.

Eats

The Hollywood Broadwalk gives you the opportunity to have a seaside meal. At the north end of the Hollywood Broadwalk, just off of Sheridan Street you will find plenty of parking, shade and picnic tables.  You can use the grills or bring your own.

On the weekends there is a fresh market at the south end of the Broadwalk where you can find organic produce and drink a refreshing smoothie made from locally grown fruits and vegetables.

And in between you will find a great variety of restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, pizza joint and just about any type of food you’re in the mood for.

Sleep / Stay

You will find various types of accommodations along the Broadwalk from large chain hotels, small mom and pop hotels. If renting is your thing you can find anything from luxury to casual beach house.

Play

Just off of Garfield Street you can find a playground, ball courts and even an interactive dolphin fountain for the kids to splash and play.  Charnow Park features shaded seating areas and picnic pavilions.

Sand

While on the sand you’ll see all types of boats out on the water.  On weekends you might see a group of twenty small sailboats bobbing along during sail school.  At night you’ll see large cruise ships and their twinkling lights as they head deep into the ocean.  The port of Ft. Lauderdale is only about eight miles away.

Sports

The Broadwalk is always bustling with skaters, joggers and bike riders.  There are at least two places I know of where you can rent wheels.  You can pick up a racket and play ball at the ball courts off Garfield Street.

Water

In the water you can swim, float, fish. If you want to play in the water you can also rent jet skis.

Entertainment

You will find various entertainments at the different bars and restaurants. For free entertainment you can find live music performances at the band shell located off Johnson Street. The Hollywood Beach Theater hosts live music five nights a week and a variety of cultural performances just 25 steps from sand to center stage.

You can see what’s happening at the beach now via this live webcam or view a map to plan your next trip here.

Have you been to the Hollywood Broadwalk?

What was your favorite thing to do there?

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11 Cool New Types of Picnic Baskets

11 Cool New Types of Picnic Baskets

A curated list of 11 cool new types of picnic baskets.  Picnicking is something we do almost every weekend.  Living in South Florida allows us to enjoy the outdoors all year long.  We visit beaches and parks.  We hold our celebrations and events in the outdoors.   Since I spend so much time picnicking I’ve come to learn about the different types of baskets.  In addition to the classic wicker baskets there are now baskets made from a variety of fabrics, plastics, and wood and come in all shapes and sizes.

1. Here is a modern looking collapsible basket. Instead of wicker, the basket is made out of durable polyester and comes in an array of colors and fashions. What makes these so convenient is that they can double as a reusable grocery bag, because they your food at the right temperature.

picnic basket tote

Blue Collapsible Insulated Basket

2. Now a days we can find picnic baskets in all new kinds of funky shapes.

picnic basket

Household Essentials Woven Willow Picnic Basket, Square Shaped, Fully Lined, Service for 4

3. The exquisitely handcrafted Verona picnic basket was designed for those who love to picnic on a casual level. The Verona is a two-lid willow basket with deluxe wine and cheese service for two.

picnic basket

Picnic Time Verona Insulated Wine Basket with Wine/Cheese Service for Two

4. Enjoy the classic look while fully insulated. The Classic Wicker Picnic Basket is an upscale design and has full willow construction with spacious built-in food compartment.

classic picnic basket

Classic Wicker Picnic Basket With Built-in Food Compartment Corduroy Lining, Upscale Service for 4 With Fleece Blanket 

5. Backpacks are perfect for excursions because of the way it distributes the weight.

backpack picnic

Hamptons Backpack with Blanket and Two Place Settings

6. Fully equipped picnic cooler for two. Unique, divided Thermal Shield insulated cooler with separate sections for wine and food.

picnic basket cooler

Picnic at Ascot Eco Picnic Cooler for 2

7. Fully equipped picnic cooler for four with removable wheeled cart.

picnic basket cooler cart

Picnic at Ascot Bold Picnic Cooler For 4 with Removable Wheeled Cart

8. The ultimate, all-in-one, insulated tailgating cooler with gas grill, three-piece BBQ tools, and fully-removable waterproof cooler section.

picnic cooler bbq

Vulcan Cooler with BBQ Tools and Grill Barbecue

9. This Picnic Time Manhattan portable cocktail case has everything needed for your cocktail party on the go. Fully-insulated and made of rich premium leatherette, the Manhattan has a beautiful velveteen interior lining that helps to showcase all its amenities.

picnic wine basket

 

Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kit, Mahogany

10. We have the classic look except larger and on wheels. Great for family picnics anywhere.

picnic basket

Exeter 4-Person Insulated Wicker Picnic Basket Set with Accessories on Wheels

11. These beautiful totes are insulated and can carry anything.

picnic tote

Sachi Insulated Fashion Speed Tote

 

We usually picnic in large groups so we use the wheeled picnic baskets.  

How about you, what style of picnic basket do you prefer?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can pull over and have picnic with a pig. And if you can help it never fly as cargo.” Jim Henson

“Picnics are very dear to those who are in the first stage of the tender passion.” Arthur Conan Doyle

“I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors.” Enid Blyton

“Give me Pablo Neruda, picnic beneath a full moon & iridescent stars, black olives, cherries, dark things, canoe on a river…that’s romance.” Brandi L. Bates

 

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10 Fun Things to do in South Beach Miami Florida

Best Things to do in South Beach

South Beach is a neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach, Florida.  Located due east of Miami city between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean it is known for being trendy and attracting rich, famous and beautiful people.   This place is always bustling with locals, visitors and things to do.  Sobe is high energy and attracts large crowds especially on holidays.  I would describe it as stylish, extravagant and luxurious.  At night it is the hottest club scene I’ve ever been to.  Fashion and music merge on the beach with influences from Latin and European cultures.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you bumped into a celebrity or two during your visit.

South Beach is also known as the historic Art Deco District.  A trip to Miami is not complete until you visit and experience this area for yourself. You will be transported to another time surrounded by the interesting architecture, which dates back to the 1920’s.  Everywhere you look you will find fancy details from that long ago era.  Today there are over 800 Art Deco Structures lighting up South Beach in a rainbow of neon and pastel.

What is art deco you might ask?  The Miami Design Preservation League defines art deco as:

“Art Deco was a product of new ideas and movements and found its inspirations in many distinct early 20th Century European design styles such as Cubism, French Art Deco, German Bauhaus and Expressionism, Dutch de Stijl and Amsterdam School, Vienna Secession and others.”

They offer a free historic district sites map on their site.  You can take a guided tour or do it yourself.

South Beach Miami Beach Florida

Ocean Drive

When visiting South Beach I highly recommend both driving and walking Ocean Drive.  This street has served as the backdrop of countless movies.  You will see grand hotels, interesting art deco architecture, the gorgeous beach and when the sun sets the famous neon lights come on.  There are plenty of shops, restaurants and places to stay.  Most restaurants offer outdoor seating.  A great way to do some people watching or just enjoy the ambience and beautiful weather.

Be warned shopping here is more expensive than other spots.  A mixed cocktail can easily cost over $20.00.

A few famous places on the strip are Casa Casaurina, also known as the Gianni Versace Mansion, the Clevelander, Park Central, the Tides Hotel, the Cordozo Hotel and the Waldorf Towers.

Be sure to park your car and hit the beach.  Lummus Park Beach is on the list of world’s most beautiful beaches.  On the boardwalk you can skate, bike, run or take a stroll.  There are places for the kids to play as well as places to exercise and work out.  Out on the sand you will see Miami’s iconic colorful lifeguard stands, soft white sand and gorgeous blue and jade waters.

Lincoln Road Mall South Beach

Stroll along Lincoln mall which built in 1912 as a sophisticated retail spot is also one of the county’s first outdoor malls.  Today you will find casual restaurants, fine dining, high end designers, book stores, bars, theater and a Star Bucks on every corner.  There are art galleries and artist studios which open up for tours, movie theaters, street vendors and all types of street performers.  You can spend hours here.  I suggest having a seat, it’s a great spot for people watching.  You never know what rich and famous person you might bump into.

Head to the beach.  It usually rains in the afternoon during Florida summers.  I recommend heading out early.  I was able to beat the rain on Sunday and enjoy some beach time.  This beach has vendors for just about everything including snacks.  Be sure to get a peek of the famous lifeguard stands.  No two are alike.

Walk down Ocean Drive and see many familiar historic art deco hotels.  This street appears in numerous films and television shows.  There are lots of places to pick up souvenirs.

espanola way

Visit Espanola Way an often overlooked bohemian spot for shopping, dining and art galleries.  The area was modeled after the Mediterranean villages of Spain and France and was originally built as a meeting place by Miami Beach’s wealthiest citizens.  It’s very pretty at night it’s lit up by strings of light bulbs.

If you like music check out the New World Symphony schedule.  Some performances are projected on the buildings huge wall facing the park.  On certain nights they present free outdoor movie screenings.

Visit the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater for live entertainment, concerts, comedy tours and private events.

If you love to dance some of Miami’s most famous nightclubs are on Washington Avenue, Collins and Ocean Drive.

Best Things to do in South Florida Sunset

 

My favorite thing to do at South Beach is to try and catch the sunset.  This photo was taken on the beautiful romantic rooftop of the Tudor as the sun was setting.

You can find more things to do, news and deals by reading my specially curated Florida twitter list.

 

Have you been to South Beach?  

What was your favorite thing to do here?

 

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My Best Travel Photography Tips

travel photography tips

Today’s post is filled with travel photography tips to help you capture the best vacation memories.  When we take a photo not only are we preserving precious memories but we are also documenting a place.  We are capturing the essence of a place at a particular time in history.

 

Angles

Just a slight shift in position can dramatically alter a photo.

Salem
Unusual angles can add impact and different perspectives.  They can bring out point of views we normally don’t see. How to get different perspectives:

  • Shoot from the side.
  • Kneel down.
  • Shoot up.
  • Hold your camera high.
  • Lie down.
  • Sit down.
  • Climb up.

 

Lighting

Lighting is everything when it comes to photography. Tudor South Beach
The hardest time to get a good picture is during the bright middle of the day.  The best times to shoot are early morning and early evenings.  An added benefit to being out and about so early is avoiding large crowds.

 

Framing

Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Framing gives the image depth and layers while leading the eye to your focal point.

 

Zoom In

Zooming in can bring texture to your photos. French Toast Muffins

 

Zooming out can be awe inspiring.

Boston

Subject

Don’t center your subject.

 

Sblue shack

 

Do you have any photography tips?  Share them below.

 

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