Our 2019 Travels in Pictures

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Aside from respective stints in Europe during or after college, we visited more countries this year than any other year. There are many reasons that the stars aligned for us to travel so much in 2019, including the opportunity to work remotely—so sometimes our laptops and responsibilities came with us on the road!

Importantly, we found some amazing travel deals on airfare and Airbnb accommodations. We maximize the benefits from travel reward credit cards (Chase Sapphire Reserve is our favorite). AND we visited 5 counties in a 10 night European adventure. Note that sometimes this is a bad idea, but it worked out really well on this itinerary and was worth it for the cost savings on airfare!

Full disclosure: we spend waaay too much money this year, but we never know when circumstances will change. We may not always have this opportunity to travel-like-mad, so we decided to go a little crazy and enjoy the heck out of every moment we could in 2019. Also note that you can do one or two of these trips without breaking the bank! We are incredibly happy that we were able to have these adventures together. Here are the highlights in pictures.

1. Taking a cooking class in Quito, Ecuador

2. Exploring the Galápagos Islands.

3. Taking in the beauty of Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

4. Partying for St. Paddy’s Day in Toronto, Canada

5. Checking out Botero in Medellín, Colombia

6. Unwinding in our apartment in Cartagena, Colombia

7. Rediscovering Roatan, Honduras

8. Relaxing on St. Martin in the Caribbean

9. Enjoying a sunny day in Amsterdam, Netherlands

10. Savoring the sunset in Dubrovnik, Croatia

11. Exploring Kotor, Montenegro

12. Marveling at Mostar, Bosnia

13. Wondering through Sarajevo, Bosnia

14. Checking out the fort in Belgrade, Serbia

15. Eating our way through New Orleans, USA

16. Taking a break with mom in Portugal

17. Soaking up Soho in London, England, U.K.

18. Ringing in the new year in Dublin, Ireland

Wishing you an amazing new decade in 2020! What were your top travel destinations in 2019?


How to Get to Sintra (and Cascais) from Lisbon

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Sintra is a perfect day trip from Lisbon. Pena Palace is really cool to explore, and so are the other sites around the park. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your excursion

1. Take the train

Trains depart frequently from Lisbon’s Rossio Station and the trip takes about 45 minutes. Note that you have to exit the Rossio metro station to get to the train station, which is on the other side of the square. Also note that not all trains that head towards Sintra go all the way to the last stop. There are a few stops that have “Sintra” in the name, but you want to go to the very last stop on the line, which is just called “Sintra.” You should get a Viva Viagem reloadable (zapping) metro pass when you arrive at the Lisbon airport, as it also works for the trains, trams and ferries—and public transportation is very easy to use. The train ride to Sintra is not scenic, and you’ll travel through some struggling areas, but it felt safe. Always use caution, of course, when traveling, and keep your valuables close.

Rossio Square

2. Have a plan for when you get there

The train will drop you off in the small old town of Sintra, which is still a fair distance from the local attractions. You can take a bus, which runs along the tourist route or you can take Uber, like we did. To Pena Palace, it was a 20-minute ride up the mountain and cost €3. If you want to see all the attractions, plan on spending at least 3 hours exploring the park.

3. Plan for weather

We got to Pena Palace just as the mist was moving in. On a clear day, the views are beautiful, but a heavy fog could diminish the experience. If you can plan for weather, you should. And while you are in Sintra, you may want to go to Pena during the most optimal weather, then explore the other areas.

Pena Palace

4. Consider continuing on to Cascais

Cascais is a beautiful little town by the sea and also perfect for a day trip from Lisbon. You can get to both Sintra and Cascais via train from Lisbon, but they are on separate lines, so you need to take a bus or ride-share from Sintra to Cascais. We took the train to Sintra and then took a 30 minute, €15 Uber ride to Cascais. Once you’re in Cascais, you definitely need to take a long walk along the water to Boca do Inferno and check out the amazing cliffs.

Boca do Inferno

There’s a wonderful restaurant by the cliffs called Mar do Inferno, and we had an outstanding seafood platter there.

Seafood platter at Mar do Inferno

The town of Cascais is also really cute and fun to walk around, so plan on spending a few hours there. You may want to have lunch and/or dinner in Cascais, since there are many more options than in Sintra.

We took the train back to Lisbon from Cascais—it’s an easy 40 minute ride and the zapping card works for the fare. Note that when you take the train back to Lisbon, you’ll have to also take the metro 2 stops if you want to get back to Rossio Square.


5. Consider spending the night in Cascais.

Sintra and Cascais can easily be visited in one day from Lisbon. But why rush? You may want to spend the night in Cascais and explore the town at leisure. It’s a fairly quiet town, at least in the off season while we we’re there, but has plenty of restaurants and a decent nightlife, particularly on the weekends. Overall, Sintra and Cascais are well worth the trip from Lisbon to explore a little more of what the region has to offer.

9 Tips for Traveling the World with Only a Personal Item

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Sometimes a handbag comes along too

We see travel tips all the time for packing light and think: That’s still too much! If you can’t fit it all under the seat in front of you, then you haven’t packed light enough. We pack so light that we frequently get stopped at customs and asked if we forgot our bags. Nope! We just don’t like to be weighed down. It doesn’t matter how long or in what season we are traveling. The only time we bring an extra bag is when we need our snorkeling gear or drone 😁 And even that goes in a small, easy to manage carryon.

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Travel Tip #3: Look at the bulkhead seating on SW

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If you are a solo traveler on #Southwest don’t forget to check the bulkhead! SW was amazing at accommodating is when LiAnn broke her ankle. Often times there’s a special-needs traveler (like she was when we realized this) and a companion sitting in the bulkhead seats, which leaves an aisle or a window seat open, but everyone looks ahead and fails to notice. Sometimes there are two seats open. So our tip today is: Notice! #igottotheairport5minutesafterboardingstartedandstillgotthefirstrow

A Magnificent Drive to Vik

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Our drive to Vik was the highlight of our trip. It is an easy ride along the ring road and unless you want to hike or find hot springs, you don’t have to map and plan much to see the sights along the way – they are right by the road.

There are beautiful waterfalls, strange lava formations, glaciers atop large mountains and looming volcanoes. There are fields full of vibrant shades of green, yellow, red and brown. There are black sand beaches, Icelandic horses and lots of grazing little lambs.

It’s about a five hour round trip drive from Reykjavik to Vik. Our only regret is that we didn’t make a hotel reservation in time to drive an extra 2 ½ hours east to the glacier bay at Jokulsarlon. By the time we decided to do this, the few hotels and guesthouse in the area were already fully booked. We decided it was just a bit too much to do in one day, so we had lunch in Vik and made the scenic journey back to Reykjavik.

I would say, if you only have time to chose one: golden circle or drive to Vik – definitely drive to Vik!

Click here for a great article on traveling light!

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People wonder how I can travel for two weeks (in the winter) with just a day pack.

1. The first thing I do is find the bag I want to carry and then fit what I can into it – if it doesn’t fit, it stays home.

2. I find a color scheme and stick to it – mixing and matching pieces.

3. I pack a travel size bottle of laundry detergent to wash things in the sink if needed – although in some parts of the world, like SE Asia, laundry service is so inexpensive, you can just send it out every few days and pack even less!

4. I bring as many light weight, quick drying items as possible and just one sweatshirt and one sweater to wear over light weight clothes (usually only either the sweater or sweatshirt can be in the pack)

5. I don’t spend a lot of time packing, but I always do spend time thinking about what I’ll need and want to wear and how it can all be coordinated.

6. If I really want to do some serious shopping, I ship it home – usually for less than the airlines’ baggage fees.

It’s so liberating to be free of luggage when I travel that it’s well worth the extra thought I put into it. Plus, with all the added baggage fees these days, it’s nice to know I can fit everything under the seat in front of me!

Click here for a great article on traveling light!

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A lovely final 24 hours in Asia spent on the water with a Singapore Sling