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After spending the last two years traveling America's most beautiful routes I feel confident in saying I've mastered the art of the road trip. How to pack your bags, your car, beauty tips while traveling, how to make it out of sticky situations in one piece and I'm in love with how good it feels to connect with the deeply routed people all over this big badass country.
I ended this year with a trip back to the country that spurred my interest in writing my book Wanderful to begin with - Spain - and here's the short version of how all of that came to be:
I spent the summer of 2014 finishing up my first book New Orleans Style. Here I was, given an opportunity to create something that would become my calling card as an author and in the spirit of my wanderluster Grandmother I studied the constellations, put my luck on a full moon and booked a one-way flight to the Mediterranean coast.
As I took off it occurred to me: every time I’d taken a trip I’d sought out a guide. Usually that came in the form of a book, or a magazine, and lots of google searching for travel blog posts on my intended destination - there were lots of lists of the best restaurants and bars, the museums to visit, and the tours to take - but what I hadn't found was a guide for the fashion loving bohemian types like me! Those interested in slow, experiential travel. So, I set out to make just that. Wanderful became the American road trip version of that, and what I wish for the readers is that they get out and see the wonderment that America has to offer.
2018 Dream Destination List
So now, 3 years later, it's the end of 2017 and I'm thinking where to next.?! I'm starting to brainstorm ideas for next projects and certainly intend to cover more international travel in 2018, and so to end the year Ben and I spent a few weeks in Spain - it's truly a country that sparks my inspiration like no other.
I've been poring through the Expedia blog to get ideas for 2018 travels and here's 5 destinations I'm adding to the list, and some of my magical girlfriends lending to that inspiration.
p.s. even if you're only planning one adventure this year, let these glorious destinations & ladies inspire the wanderlust in you.
My darling friend Keiko (yes the one that's alllll over my book) visited Santorini this year and every photo was a pure dream. I researched a bit and then this article grabbed me - romance? oui, please!
Glamorous seascapes, glittering horizons and white washed hillsides... I don't know what I'd do first: sample the local wines (the vines grow deep into the island’s ancient volcanic soil enhancing the flavors), swim in the Aegean Sea or rent a car to venture out to the blue umbrella-topped Red Beach and Oia.
This particular post on Italy has me wanting to spend weeks exploring the country but MIchaela's photos coupled with her the notes on Florence: a quaint apartment within walking distance of all one’s favorite gelato shops, tucked away restaurants with local fare of house-cured meats, and expertly curated cheeses and wonderfully stylish locals have me wanting to make Florence my first Italian destination.
Krystal is another one of my travel loving friends and my oh my does she ever make traveling look like an ethereal delight. Her blog is one of the most beautiful out there. Between she and Jasmine (my Aussie friend who's currently living life as a New Yorker) these two have given me a serious lust for Australia.
Krystal spent this holiday season traversing Australia, go take a look at her instagram to get some serious Australian summer inspiration, and in her recent post on Byron Bay she describes it like this: A coastal town, Byron Bay is located in the southeastern corner of New South Wales and offers all the sea-faring charm you’d expect it to — think Santa Cruz meets Montauk, with a dash of Venice Beach — where surfers live to surf [and] where families live in the most adorable beach-facing homes, shopping at the local farmer’s markets every Sunday." I want to go for the views (of course), the seaside meet jungle hikes and the bohemian inspired shopping throughout the area.
Amanda, who's gorgeousness graced the cover of my book (and who's also seen on lots of pages in the Pacific Coast Highway chapter), makes living the life of a world traveling photographer look incredibly connecting. This winter & spring she's leading Photo & Art tours and I'm fingers crossed, going to make one of these happen by end of Spring. Her Cuba tour includes balcony breakfasts, ocean swims, visits to artists collectives, and convertible rides. Si, si si!
Ana has been on a world traveling whirlwind this year. Go scroll through her 'gram for just a sec and you'll be hard pressed to actually decide which destination she makes look the best.
She visited Lisbon this year after discovering her grandmother's family originated there, and she shared her experience on "meadering" through Lisbon in this post. I researched a bit more, found this 48 hour guide to Lisbon, and coupled with the inspiration from Ana's photos - Lisbon climbed (easily) onto this list.
I can't wait to get the planning underway. I've got some good tools I've been using for booking too - so I'll be back to share those soon! In the meantime, any places you think I need to add to the list? Tell me, tell me, tell me!
SHOP OUI WE'S TRAVEL STYLE
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Notes on a lovers' lifestyle....
SHOP BEACH MAXI DRESSES
Books to read: The Vacationers (Emma Straub), A Winter in Majorca (George Sand), Wild Olives: Life in Majorca with Robert Graves (William Graves), Turning Up at Dawn (Tomas Graves), The Rocks (Peter Nichols), Living in Style Mallorca (Christine von Auersperg)
9 am: the sun's starting to pour through the curtains and there's 3 things on my mind: a café solo from the coffee man we've started calling "our coffee man", a sugary sweet ensaimada from the bakery one door over from him (it's similar to a beignet I suppose and a delicacy in Mallorca), and the beach, of course. After we wander along through the sleepy streets of Arta, inevitably we'll decide which beach on this island will be ours for the day.
I peer out of the window, and as expected, the sun's waves are dancing upwards and calling me out, I push open the shutters and the sounds of the village are just starting to join in on what the sun's started: the zip zip and then zooooom of our neighbors moped, the children down the alley being hustled along to school and I settle back into the thinking of "oui, si, oh yes, I could live here - like this - forever."
This trip is different for me, technically - we're on vacation. We drink rosé with lunch, a local red with the late afternoon tapas, and we share a bottle more at night with whatever seafood dinner we're having. One day in and we were fully settled: food + wine, morning trips to the market and seaside drives, long soaks in our oversized bathtub at night: and we've said to each other over and over "vacaciones con mi amor!"
I thought quite a bit about what to share with you here, and truly, a trip to Mallorca in the off season means we had the beaches often to ourselves, we hiked Torrent de Parreis (plan a day for it) with just a few others, and our trips into the Serra de Tramuntana involved us, a few cyclists and locals, and only the occasional tour bus hair pinning up the winding roads directly at us.
I won't give you a "must see" list - the island is a bit more than that - however here's a few things I'll add to your list if you visit:
The Markets: Arta on Tuesdays, Sineu on Wednesdays, there on the weekend? Check around, you'll find one
The Beaches: Cala Gat at Cala Ratjada, Cala d'Or, Cala Pi, Cala Banyalbufar, Cala Deia, Sa Calobra and honestly I could go on and on (and on)
The Beach Towns & Villages: Arta (we stayed in an Airbnb that was an absolutely dream home), Deia, Fornalutx, Pollenca, Sineu, Santanyi, Valldemossa, & Port de Soller
Rent a car, it's cheap, and you can get anywhere.
One day we sat on our rooftop all afternoon - at sunset I looked down into the alley ways, the smoke rising as the neighbors lit their evening fires and commented: "there is something very Jim Jarmusch about this place..." a while later I opened another jar of olives and came across this quote: "if anyone tells you there is only one way, their way, get as far way from them as possible, both physically and philosophically."
In that moment, I pulled myself closer into Ben, the sun bounced down over the hazy mountain and then fireworks lit up the sky - we found ourselves running into the plaza to see what it was all about. We trailed along to find a wedding party second lining through the village! And right there in our small town of Arta ... tears fell from my eyes, a mix of wine and wonder and because this world offers so much. Love and celebration: that stuff happens everywhere, and today it was all ours and each of these lovers sharing this little island with us.
These travel diaries are often the hardest to write, why? because they're mine... no one else to photograph or interview or get local stories from... it's just me (and Ben, usually) out there experiencing the world and hoping to share the best of what we've found and experienced (even when we're on vacation) with you.
Gracias, always, for being here.
*wardrobe for this trip was provided by Ophelia Swimwear. Shop their collection at their newly launched online storefront.
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In my coming book there's a whole chapter on what I've nicknamed the rock n’ roll highway; it features quite a few backstage beauties that live and hang along the route from Nashville to Florence, AL to Athens, GA.
The backstage beauty is the type of girl that knows the words to every Rolling Stones song, and lives on a weekend diet of cheap beer and diner food (we can all have a cheat weekend now and then right?!). She throws the best house parties and she and all her friends are right on the brink of discovery. She’s always the most laid-back, glamorous girl in the room in her vintage band T-shirt.
Since I moved to Nashville I've been asked A LOT to share a list of where that type of girl shops and hangs here ... last summer I shared this where to hang for 24-48 hours list (and I stand by it still) so this is the expanded list of venues and shops that made it into my book.
This little tour today is where to get your music fix and find the most fabulous vintage gems all around town. So here we go: a music & vintage tour of Nashville.
Can’t Miss Nashville
For the Music Lover:
Most visitors to Nashville come for the music because there’s truly so much to see and hear. Here are a few favorite spots, and trust me... there's SO many more:
The 5 Spot: What I love about this place is that you can catch a killer early show on a weekend night (I saw my friend Andrew Duhon play to a packed house on a Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.) or go on a Monday night for the Motown Monday dance party. SO. MUCH. F'N. FUN.
Robert's Western World: If you’re ready to spend the night two-stepping the real deal, Honky Tonk is Robert’s Western World. Fried bologna sandwiches, dancing cowboys, and cheap beer make for a wild night down on the Broadway strip.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge: A world famous historic watering hole, legend has it that Tootsie kept IOUs behind the counter for the hungry musicians. At the end of the year, the Grand Ol’ Opry guys would pay off the IOUs for the up-and-comers to make sure Tootsie stayed in business.
The Ryman Auditorium: The Ryman Auditorium is the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry. Not only have the famous feet of Elvis and Johnny Cash graced the stage of this stunning gothic auditorium, but the acoustics make it one of the best places in the country to see live music. Recently Phoenix was there (my fave) and I'm planning to see Father John Misty in September.
The Grand Ole Opry: “The show that made country music famous” continues to feature a broad spectrum of country styles nightly. Take the backstage tour and gaze into the mirrors where gals like Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood get dressed before their shows.
For the Vintage Devotee:
An entire week could be spent diving into the vintage shops of East Nashville. On my personal best-of list:
Opium Vintage: by appointment only - stocked with a vibrantly obscure collection, including Japanese vintage sourced by owner Laura Citron. It's my favorite of the entire list.
Hip Zipper: great for well-priced denim and accessories.
Starstruck Vintage: gorgeous winter coats for under $100.
Local Honey: hand-dyed vintage by Magness Collection, and this is where I get my hair done... super hip salon and good vintage shopping, win win.
High Class Hillbilly: the place for authentic cowboy goodies and western wear.
Goodbuy Girls: located in the Idea Hatchery (a test kitchen shopping center for new brands) this shop is great for graphic T’s and loads of fringe.
Old Made Good (OMG): Just north of the East Nashville neighborhood is this kitschy vintage shop with a glitter covered floor and adorably charming handmade goods.
Savant Vintage: Over in 12 South, find this favorite of Vogue magazine, photographers, rock stars, and stylists—Savant has an extensive collection of highly curated pieces. Be prepared to spend a little more for the tremendous quality of the jackets, dresses, ponchos, and hats filling its racks.
Hope you guys put this list to good use, and if you haven't pre-ordered my book I would LOVE for you to do so now! Let me know how you love Nashville!
As I spent last year trekking across America documenting travel, style & culture stories for my second book Wanderful, The Modern Bohemian's Guide to Traveling in Style, I often returned to the beaches of the Pacific Coast Highway, artistic hideaways in the Mojave & Sonoran deserts, and the California canyons.
Traveling the cerulean blue surf breaks, experience the flora of the canyons & the wildly energetic art havens tucked way out in the desert gives me a soul connection I've only experienced in one other place (a few summers ago on a 4 month summer adventure in the Southern Coast of Spain - and that feeling reignites for me in SoCal).
Today I'm taking over the instagram page of Passport by Forbes - the journey begins on the Santa Barbara boardwalk and ends here, in Salvation Mountain. I trekked solo for 3 days, and ended this adventure with friends - celebrating the birthday party of a dear old friend from New Orleans.
Read more about traveling solo here - and come back over the next few weeks for photo tours of each destination I stopped in along the way.
The rainbow-hued Salvation Mountain, built with adobe clay and painted with a half a million gallons of donated paint, is a favorite destination for aspiring artists and wandering off-grid types too.
I arrived into Joshua Tree for a night of birthday fun (i.e. a bit too much pink wine and lots of story telling as the sun fell over the monumental rock formations all around). The next morning I took the wheel of my friend's jeep, 4 friends (new and old) piled in, and we hit the road to Salvation Mountain. A few hours later.... south of Palm Spring, east of the resort ghost towns of the Salton Sea and through Slab City (a desolate RV filled village home to snowbirds and serious off-gridders) the five story high man-made structure was in view.
Take time to travel up the hand-painted yellow brick road to reach the summit and then explore the ingenious labyrinth of Technicolor caves below.
Hi loves! I'm barely a week out of the wildness of Bonnaroo and it was one of those somewhere over the rainbow, traveling to the north star and back, 100 trips around the sun types of experiences.
I could write for days on end about the feelings, the music, the friendship and the food we experienced.... however here today I've got three things to share with you.
1. How to get in the mood for a festival of this size.
2. How to spirit guide yourself into the best style & beauty choices for a festival weekend.
3. My top picks of the weekend in regards to bands, pop-up shops and food!
Sound good? Let's go.
Getting in the Mood
1. Focus on the possibilities to come: to be honest if I was an impatient person a festival of this size could be daunting... the first day will require you to navigate traffic, figure out parking, sort out gate entries, and learn the grounds... however keep in mind that every moment is an opportunity to experience something new. I traveled to Bonnaroo with my little sister, and lucky for me, she'd been several times before... so good news! She knew how to navigate our way around as we finally got settled on day 1. We sorted through the waves of people and settled in ready to take the weekend in stride.
2. Be Present: There is so much good music, yes - but a festival like this will give you time to connect with your friends (new and old) on a completely different level. I checked my iPhone health meter and we were literally walking 8-10 miles everyday... journeying from stage to stage, to the campgrounds and back... and with that sort of time you can really bestow some heartfelt attention on your traveling partners. Michelle and I were able to connect on so many things during that time, I think it's truly one of the reasons I love festivals the most.
3. Find a thrill in curiosity: If I only saw the bands I knew when I arrived at Bonnaroo I would have missed so much. On the first night we saw Mondo Cosmo... why? I had never heard of them, but the name sounded right up my alley (hi "cosmo") so we went and it was a blast. The last day Ben joined us and recommended a UK band Royal Blood... again, never would have thought of it, but watching the wild 90's style mosh pit that formed at 2 pm (from a safe distance) was a bit of a thrill!
Spirit Guide Your Style
I am girl that dresses myself the same way I did when I dressed in costume as a child. There were a few mornings that I wondered... is this too much? However, here's my thoughts when it comes to festival style.
1. Be your boldest you: Well, first start with a comfortably stylish shoe and then move forward. There's not many times on a given week that you'll feel comfortable donning loads of patches, fringe, sequins and twirly dresses.... or dying your hair shades of highlighter yellow (which I did the night before) ~ however, this IS a time to be bold. I honestly pursue getting dressed in the morning for me and me only, and I highly recommend taking that approach too... so if you're your boldest you on the festival grounds you'll surely get more comfortable being that in regular life too.
2. Let it breathe: while being bold is one thing, keeping your skin happy and healthy goes along with it. I chose light weight dresses and cotton patterned sets and layers and layers so as the cold air set in at night I'd be able to warm up. Quality fabrics will allow your skin to breathe and you'll feel better for it.
3. Channel your inner dancing queen: I truly danced the days away every.single.day. When I was little I was certain I'd be a dancer on one of those 80's TV shows... Solid Gold anyone? So put your hair up, slather on the glitter and make the festival grounds your own personal dance floor.
Top Picks of the Weekend
1. Favorite shows: Mannnnn, this is a hard one - there was so much good stuff! However, here's a few acts that I was MIND BLOWN 💥 by:
Crystal Castles (for their punked out ghostly insaneness), Glass Animals (hiiiii that's me twirling madly way down front), Tegan & Sara (yep, me again down there), The XX (the interaction on stage is sheer magic), & Aaron Lee Tasjan (best dressed, best guitar shred and the best of Nashville for sure).
2. Best pop up shops: Mamie Ruth! I stopped by everyday for glitter freckles and new wardrobe.
3. Best food: Subway. Every day at 4:30 we ventured back to the Subway Greenroom (they literally built an entire store including a stage for acoustic sets on the fest grounds). We ate red pepper hummus wraps (soooo much better than overpriced fest pizza), an awesome vegetarian option and dudeeees it was free - to everyone.
I truly can't thank you guys enough for following along on my festival adventures. As the music loving girl that I am, these trips have been so incredibly special. So as the sunsets on Bonnaroo, I promise to be back again with more of these to come!
This fest season I've been so incredibly fortunate to be invited by Subway to hit the road with them to attend a few of the top music festivals across the country. I shared my 10 Things to Stay Cool at Summer Fests' list right before taking off for Hangout, and I'm happy to report back that my packing list served me well. This post was a paid partnership.