How To Eat Your Way Through The South

By Taylor Schear of  SOFLOFOODFINDS

If you’re anything like me, then you revolve your trips around food! With so little time and so many great choices, there is so much pressure to choose the absolute best restaurant. Well, I have got you covered.

Best Restaurants In The South

Below you will find a list of the top restaurants throughout America’s southern states.

Miami, FloridaThe Salty Donut Miami FloridaThe Salty Donut

The Salty Donut is in the Wynwood area of Miami. Wynwood is known not only for the famous street art, but also the food. Salty Donut opened their permanent storefront this past month. Before this, they were primarily doing pop up locations on the weekend. But after great success the demand became so heavy that they established regular hours Tuesday-Sunday. This is for good reason; the donuts are fantastic. They carry the “usual suspects” along with some interesting combinations. My personal favorite is their apple cider bourbon spiked donut hole. What is even better, is the cold brew cider that pairs perfectly with the donuts!

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink miami floridaMichael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is one of the most buzz-worthy restaurants in Miami right now! It is centrally located in the Design District. The restaurants popularity is due to the amazing menu developed by head chef and owner, Michael Schwartz. The food is all based on seasonal fresh ingredients. Pictured above is the figs with burrata. It is very simple, but I think that is what makes it great. Every single ingredient is the star of the show without overpowering one another. Make sure to save room for dessert. All the pastries, ice cream, and chocolates are made fresh from scratch, in house every day.

Athens, GeorgiaLast Resort Grill Athens GeorgiaLast Resort Grill

Last Resort Grill serves contemporary Southwestern style food in a very modern environment. The restaurant started as a music club in the 60’s, but now serves as a great gathering to eat with the community. The restaurant believes in supporting local farmers and companies by primarily using ingredients sourced in Athens. The dish above is the Pilancillo & Black Pepper Crusted Hanger. It is a tender local sourced hanger steak served with salsa verde, chili parmesan dusted corn, and charred tomato butter potatoes.

Big City Bread

If you are looking for a more traditional southern meal, then Big City Bread is the place for you. All the food (including the breads and pastries) are made fresh every day. It is the perfect place to grab a scone and coffee during the morning rush or sit down and enjoy some grits on a Sunday morning. The chef and owner is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales and has worked at restaurants all through the South.

Nashville, TennesseeEdleys BBQ Nashville TennesseeEdley’s BBQ

Edley’s BBQ must be one of my top three favorite restaurants of all time. It is a very casual vibe; everyone orders at the counter and sits down at one of the wooden tables to wait for their food. Don’t let the adequate furnishings fool you! The food is so flavorful and packed with smokiness. Make sure to come hungry, the portions are huge. There are multiple locations throughout Nashville, so you are never too far from an Edley’s!

Biscuit Love

Biscuit Love has my love! Again, this is the type of restaurant where you walk up to order your food and then go sit down. They do this to prevent the wait for food from getting too long since it can get quite packed on the weekends! You can probably tell from the name that they are famous for their biscuits. The restaurant is new (opened in 2015), but originally started as a food truck. The owners are graduates from Johnson & Wales, but have always had a love for brunch. You can immediately tell this when you walk in the restaurant.

Sprinkles Cupcakes Nashville TennesseeSprinkles Cupcakes

So as many of you know, Sprinkles Cupcakes is a national chain. However, it was my first time trying it when I visited Nashville. The coolest part is that they have a cupcake ATM. Yes, you heard me right… A CUPCAKE ATM. In goes your money, out comes any cupcake your heart may desire. The cupcakes are delicious, but so are their cookies. My favorite was the traditional chocolate chip. It was soft with just the right amount of chocolate folded throughout.

 


Taylor Shear ProfileABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey guys… it’s Taylor Schear! Thanks for reading! I always love being able to share my passion for food and adventure with others! If you have enjoyed joining me on my food quest throughout the South, then make sure to continue to follow me! I am @soflofoodfinds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. For more food travel guides then check out soflofoodfinds.com!


 

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8 Clever Ways to Make Travel Memories Last Forever

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Many souvenirs start off as good ideas and end up collecting dust or being given away to someone who may appreciate them more. The point of a keepsake is for it to trigger wonderful memories of your travel adventures for years to come, and perhaps become something to pass down.

Unique Souvenir Ideas For Travel Memories

Make your travel memories last forever with these clever ways of collecting:

1 Collect Found Objects

unique souvenir ideas

Fill a time capsule, antique travel trunk or scrapbook with found objects you collect from every place you visit. The object doesn’t have to be a souvenir in the traditional sense or cost money. The most treasured objects have a mystery surrounding them and several stories to tell. The found objects could be small and random or have something in common, even though they originate from different places:

  • Pick up a stone from the ground from wherever you visit.
  • Collect a leaf or flower from an interesting plant that catches your eye.
  • Save bottle caps from local breweries in different cities, states and countries.
  • Bring home napkins with logos or copies of menus (with permission) from restaurants.
  • Collect quotes in a journal from random people you meet on the street.

When picking up found objects from nature, collect these in a sustainable way. Do not pick up feathers from birds of prey, which are also protected and an illegal action in many places. Don’t overharvest plants. Leave nature intact as you collect your memories.

2 Collect Stamps

Stamp collecting isn’t only a hobby to share with a grandparent, it also makes a wonderful international map and memento record of your wayfaring. Find interesting stamps in museums, philatelic libraries, and in regular postal offices and small shops that sell stamps. Imagine having a story to tell about purchasing the stamp for your collection and then artfully placing it in a keepsake notebook to pass down for generations!

Once retrieved, collectors would glue a stamp into an album, but now archival methods and tools have turned philately pursuits into an artform. Many beginning collectors focus on topicals (topics, such as horses or flowers) or forming a collection of stamps from the lands of their ancestors:

“A lot of travelers, especially stamp collectors, enhance their travel experience and travel memories by creating philatelic passports of their travels,” says John Apfelbaum, President & CEO of Apfelbaum, Inc.

“Using a small notebook, they purchase stamps at foreign post offices where they travel and ask the post office workers to cancel the stamps affixed in their little notebook. That way when they come home they have a memory of their trip along with an interesting local stamp and cancellation.”

3 Keep a Travel Journal

keeping a travel journal

There’s no way you could forget your latest trip, right? The mind works in amazing ways and memories have a way of blending together over the years. You will remember beautiful and strange details, while others will be foggy but still touching. Record those details now in a travel journal:

  • Write down the best moments.
  • Record snippets of overheard conversations.
  • Inscribe those found quotes from strangers.
  • Sketch those details.
  • Make a collage in the pages.

Your travel journal will need to be portable and doesn’t have to necessarily be in physical form. A journal you’re able to hold has a special quality that a digital one won’t, yet a travel blog is easy to take with you wherever you go as it doesn’t need to be packed and transported.

4 Make a Global Spice Rack

While on the road, collect the flavors of the world. What spice or spice mix is an area famous for? While in New Orleans, track down the best southeastern Creole flavor combination, for example.

Add each selection to your spice rack at home, or build a test tube spice rack that makes you feel like you’re cooking in a laboratory. Every time you make a dish, you’ll taste a travel memory.

5 Make Magnets from Travel Photos

SNS Instax SHARE SP-2

There are many ways to make travel photo magnets. You could use a service to produce them, such as Social Print Studio (uses your Instagram photos) or Fox Print. You can also instantly print out your photos with Fuji Instax SP-2 Printer and all you need to do is attach them to a magnet strip with a sticky surface. Turn any magnetic surface into a display board for your travel memorabilia magnets.

6 Build a Library of Area Authors

Build a global library of living authors from around the world. Attend book signings in the area you’re visiting, if any, and obtain a signed copy from the author. Peruse book shops and ask about local authors. Whether it’s science fiction, romance, poetry or a haunted destinations book, your library will be diverse and extra special when it reflects the places you have visited.

You will be able to say something personal about nearly every author, and if nothing else, talk about that time the bookstore owner of this quaint shop in Croatia pointed you toward the best wine you’ve ever tasted.

7 Make a Video

Think of it as a highlight reel of your favorite travel moments. Take a few minutes of video on your trip, and when you get home, condense your media files into a single video. Continue to add onto this video as you travel.

To ensure that it doesn’t get overwhelming, set a time limit for the footage you take and add on to your single video. You don’t have to download any complicated software to edit the video, if you don’t want, because Google Photos will edit for you.

8 Curate a Collection of Modern Art

The beauty of this idea is to target regional artist works from the area of your visit to collect. Ask a student artist sketching if he or she will make something quick for you for a generous tip or cup of coffee. Visit local galleries and support them by purchasing prints or original works.

Artists will often paint popular tourist spots but also create art around places that are personally special. Make your curated collection of art all the more unique by visiting the destinations that are depicted, whenever possible.

 

Make your memories transcend time with a little creativity. Focusing on collecting particular items or building upon how you display those souvenirs at home will ensure you don’t break your suitcase zipper by overstuffing with random knickknacks. When you collect, gather touchstones of experience, and the travel stories you share will be even more powerful.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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7 of the Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Maine

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective
It’s easy to see that Maine has an incredibly beautiful coastline. It’s not as easy to decide which city along that coastline to visit. That’s because there are so many viable options where you’ll find great food, cozy inns and unforgettable scenery. It makes it difficult to choose just one of the beautiful towns in Maine.

Beautiful Towns in Maine To Visit

The following are just seven of the candidates to put on your short list before you decide where to take your next vacation.

Bar Harbor

bar harbor maine

Bar Harbor has more than just a beach. It sits at the base of Acadia National Park, which woos hikers with its granite peaks and bikers who want to ride down the old carriage roads.

The area trails can also take you to coastal overlooks, although you might want to hit up the sandy beaches, too.

Camden

Welcome to your next vacation spot, sailors. Camden, Maine, sits on Penobscot Bay, from which you and your sailing crew can take off and into the picturesque waters. It really is beautiful here: the locals even call it the “Jewel of the Coast.”

Speaking of locals, less than 5,000 people call Camden home. Clearly, that means you can expect a homey, cozy experience on your trip.

Kennebunkport

beautiful coastal towns in maine

Any presidential history buff will know that the Bush family has made Kennebunkport their go-to vacation spot: they have their very own holiday compound, which tourists sometimes go to see on their trips to the area.

Of course, a former President has to have good taste in locations for his vacations — who needs relaxation more than a former commander-in-chief? The slow-paced town will definitely ease you into a similar state of serenity, as will the quirky shops, museums and clams. If you need a bit more excitement, hop onto a lobster-trapping or dolphin-watching tour.

Cutler

Bird watching will get a whole lot cuter if you choose to book your trip to Cutler. That’s because the area is home to an adorable puffin community that takes to the water and perches on the coastline’s grey rocks. All members of your family will be charmed by the little guys, we promise.

Of course, there’s more to a holiday than just a bird-watching expedition. Cutler has its beautiful coastline and quaint lighthouse, of course, but it also comes with a promise of tourist trap-free shopping and dining. Really, there aren’t any souvenir shops in this tiny town.

Portland

portland maine beautiful towns in maine

Most coastal towns appeal to tourists in the summer, but not Portland: most locals will tell you that the best time to visit is fall, when the changing leaves paint the seaside in burnt oranges, fiery reds and golden yellows.

Of course, any season will show you the warm hospitality for which Portland is famous. The locals strive to be as friendly and welcoming to tourists as they are to each other, a vibe you won’t soon forget after you head home from your holiday.

Rockport

Here’s another of Maine’s coastal cities that’s rumored to be the most beautiful — even though it’s clearly impossible to decide. And, like many others on this list, it offers surf and turf, at least as far as activities go.

You can traipse through the Rockport Marine Park — or lie on the sandy beach there, of course. The Beech Hill Reserve offers stunning views, too. And then, there’s the bay, which is ripe for kayaking trips, which local tour companies lead.

Castine 

lighthouse in coastal maine

Castine is so beautiful that it’s been a destination for artists for decades. They come to paint a piece of that classic New England scenery — exactly what you seek on your trip, too. Along with like-a-painting views, you’ll find a bit of history at the Fort George and Fort Madison State Parks.

You can also check out a sandy-hued lighthouse, a local art gallery and, of course, an incredibly quaint Main Street.

 

You won’t find any hustle-and-bustle along the coast of Maine. You won’t find clubs or fancy restaurants or beach cabanas where you’re served fancy cocktails.

What you will find, no matter where you go, is a wealth of natural beauty. The beaches, parks, mountains and wildlife will be just as striking. And, with your loved ones along for the trip, you’ll realize you don’t need more than what’s right in front of you in any one of these seven towns.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can follow her on Twitter and Pinterest!


 

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7 Best Places to Visit in the Mediterranean

By Andrew Larson

Turquoise water, so unbelievably blue your friends will think the pictures are Photoshopped. Warm sunny days. Delicious seafood. A nice ocean breeze blowing the dry air across your face. It’s no wonder the Mediterranean has long been a sought-after destination for holidaymakers and sun worshipers. And if beautiful weather and amazing food weren’t enough, the laid-back vibe of these coastal towns just adds to the relaxation you’ll experience on your next European vacation. As you’re researching your upcoming trip, don’t miss out on these seven best places to visit in the Mediterranean.

Top 7 Mediterranean Destinations You Won’t Want To Miss

7. Barcelona, Spain

barcelona spain

Most Mediterranean destinations offer sandy beaches or picturesque islands. Sure, you can spend your days in Barcelona lounging on the beach. But this fantastic city makes up for the elements lacking in many small coastal towns: excellent nightlife, world-class cuisine, and celebrated art and architecture. Home to famed architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona is dotted with his interesting works that give this city its unmistakable character. Nothing beats a day visiting the famed Sagrada Familia, an unfinished cathedral in central Barcelona, and then enjoying a glass of Spanish wine and some tapas at a local café.

6. Sardinia, Italy

It might not seem fair to include an entire island as a top destination, but only visiting one part of this massive Italian landmass wouldn’t do it justice. With a rugged interior full of mountains and forests, to beautiful coastlines of white sandy beaches, Sardinia might just be one of the Mediterranean’s least-touched natural escapes. And more than just natural beauty, the island boasts a nice collection of local wines and cheeses. Mountains, beaches, interesting culinary offerings, all in a secluded locale? The list of reasons to visit Sardinia on your next vacation keeps getting longer.

5. Milos, Greece

Milos Greece best places to visit in the mediterranean

With Greece’s abundance of islands, it’s hard to pick just one to visit. But Milos offers the spectacular beaches and delicious food of Greece, at a fraction of the price and without all the pesky tourists of the other islands. Covered in interesting rock formations, a relic of past volcanoes, you’ll leave Milos with more landscape pictures than your Instagram can handle.

4. Formentera, Spain

Located just south of party destination Ibiza, Formentera has gained the reputation as the more laid-back option for Spain vacation-goers. But this unforgotten island has another repute that can’t be ignored: some of the top beaches in the Mediterranean. The crystal blue water and white sandy beaches are unparalleled along Europe’s coastline. But it might take some effort to reach them. The only way to get to Formentera is by boat from Ibiza. But for those willing to make the trek, a nearly desolate island and beach beauty is sure to please.

3. Comino, Malta

Comino Malta Mediterranean

Not as well-known as its Italian neighbor to the north, Malta might be the Mediterranean’s best kept secret. An island located just south of Sicily, Malta’s removed locale makes it a more elusive pick for a Mediterranean vacation. But one look at the stunning Comino Island and you’ll be wondering why you waited so long to visit. A paradise for snorkelers and divers, Malta offers an adventurous seascape fit for exploring. And don’t miss Comino’s Blue Lagoon, a tiny enclave of strikingly blue water, surrounded by rocks and perfect for a relaxing swim.

2. Nice, France

There’s nothing better than spending an afternoon strolling down the sweeping Promenade des Anglais, a magnificent boulevard that follows the pebbly coastline of Nice. If small towns like Cinque Terre are the Mediterranean’s hidden gems, Nice is its brilliant diamond. A luxurious playground for the rich and famous, Nice, France emanates a certain extravagance in which one can’t help but indulge. And there’s no sense restraining yourself; with charming cafes and designer shopping, a trip to Nice is sure to pamper your inner celebrity.

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik Croatia

A list of top Mediterranean destinations wouldn’t be complete without highlighting this Dalmatian jewel. Old Town Dubrovnik sits on the edge of the sea, crammed inside a massive wall and surrounded by turquoise water. Strolling through town, up stairways and down tiny alleys, is like being transported back in time. And if cobblestone street charm isn’t your thing, an abundance of islands lay just off the coast. Kayak tours and boat day-trips offer a variety of options for exploring these beautiful islands.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This post was written by Andrew Larson, a semi-retired software engineer turned globetrotter and full-time travel enthusiast who now runs Wanderlust 15. Check it out for more great travel tips & destination suggestions!


 

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10 Ways To Style Up Your Travel Outfit

By Dana Hughes

Travelling is always tiring and time consuming. Running through airports or train stations, checking maps and making sure we stop at gas stations for a refill, sucks up almost all our energy.  So we usually like to dress as comfortable as possible in order to reduce stress. But most of the time, comfortable means boring and it really doesn’t have to be like that when it comes to your outfits. Here is a list of 10 amazingly easy ways of jazzing up your travelling clothes.

Tips For Creating A Stylish Travel Wardrobe

1. Jewelry

jewelry for travel

One of the easiest ways to really bring to life a bland travelling outfit is jewelry. This means that you can basically wear whatever you want, even jeans and hoodies as long as you sport the right amount and type of bling. For example: are you wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan?

Then throw on a multilayered necklace that includes pearls, beads, chains and crosses. Embellish your wrists with heavy bracelets and nobody will even notice you’re wearing jeans. Or, are you wearing a simple cream colored top with pants? No problem. Gold is the answer. A big chain necklace will take you out of the boring zone and into the fun and luxury one.

2. Sunglasses

sunglasses for travel up style travel fashion

If you’re travelling by car, let’s say and you have a long drive ahead of you, you will definitely need sunglasses. But, as a trick of embellishing your outfit for that journey, leave your classic Ray Bans to rest at home this time and go for a big, dazzling pair instead. You cannot go wrong or unobserved with a pair of Lolita sunglasses from LoLoBu. They have a thick white frame which is why, if you pair them off with a red hot lip, the effect is guaranteed.

You can’t go wrong with a pair of round ones, the Harry Potter type, especially if you get them in a crazy neon color from, let’s say, Dior. But 2015’s star were definitely the cat eyes sunglasses. So rock a pair of golden ones, like Quay proudly introduced this year with a completely black outfit and a hat and watch as all eyes turn on you in the crowded airport.

3. High-heels

high heels for travel fashion

I know you’re going to wrinkle your nose at the idea of going on a trip in high heels, but hear me out first. High heeled shoes are empowering, luxurious and make a statement, especially when you’re travelling. They really say: “Wow, this girl is about to go on an eight hour flight to Rome wearing sky high heels. She must really have it together. Why can’t I do that?”

Watch as you become an example and an inspiration to women around you, because, indeed, attempting an eight hour flight in high heels is a feat of strengths and if you can do it, it must really mean you’re a strong, independent woman, who does have it all together.

4. Luggage

stylish luggage for travel

Another obvious point in order to style up your travelling ensemble is the luggage. Instead of carrying your stuff around in a plain, black bag, make sure to buy an interesting, colorful and stylish one. Go romantic, for example and buy a retro one, especially if you’re travelling light, or go diva with… Chanel.

5. Scarves

scarves and travel fashion

The accessory we all love and cherish is, probably, your best friend on a trip. It’s very versatile and can serve for many other purposes, not just to hang around your neck. Therefore, when travelling, don’t think only about the comfort and warmth a scarf comes with, but design and style as well. Therefore, instead of choosing a bland one, try a plaited blanket scarf, for example, a huge shawl-like one or, why not, a head scarf.

6. Maxi Dress

travel style maxi dress

The maxi dress or skirt may seem another odd choice for travelling. That’s because when we think about going on trips, we mainly think of pants, but, actually, maxi skirts and dresses are very comfortable. More comfortable that pants even, in hot weather. So, you can choose a simple, mono chrome maxi skirt, pair it off with a crop top and you have an amazing outfit for the airplane or train, no one else will have.

7. Casual Chic

casual chic travel fashion

Probably the most eye catching and, at the same time, most comfortable style you can adopt while travelling is the boyfriend style. Grab a pair of low-waist, baggy, tattered boyfriend jeans, a white tank top, a hoodie and a baseball cap and you’ve got yourself a head-turner outfit straight out of the hood fashion, as well as one you could probably climb a mountain in.

8. Stylish Boots

travel fashion stylish travel boots

Boots are another great way of combining stylish attires with being nice and comfortable while you travel those long miles. They are clearly the way to go, almost always. We don’t recommend you travel in, let’s say, sandals. Your toes will get dirty and crushed in no time through the airport or train station. However, with boots you run no risk of that and if you can find a dazzling pair, your success is guaranteed.

9. Oversized Sweaters

travel fashion and oversized sweaters

Oversized sweaters can save you a lot of trouble. They will keep you warm and you won’t need a supplementary piece of clothing, like a cardigan or a jacket. Just the sweater will do. The world has fallen back in love with them as they re-entered the trend this year. They are highly fashionable right now and the best part – you cannot go wrong with them, no matter what pattern or color you choose.

10. Hats

stylish hats for travel

And last, but not least, hats. Either you’re travelling during summer to some hot holiday location or in winter time to a snowy one, you will still require a hat. So why not make it a jazzy one and the main attraction of your outfit? If you’re feeling bold enough, you can try a funny one, with cat ears on it, for example, because they have been in trend this year.

 

So take these ten tips and go crazy and creative with them. The purpose here is to make travelling as pleasant as possible for you, and a well put together, sparkling outfit will certainly do that.

 


dana-hughesABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dana K. Hughes is a travel enthusiast and a photography student, who loves to plan unforgettable trips. She is also a dedicated writer, who loves long walks through unknown cities and spying on people’s outfits. Dana is currently doing an internship at http://serbags.com, where she writes original articles that inspire readers to showcase their individuality and bring out their personal style. You can also find her on Twitter.


 

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6 Things to Consider When Planning a Destination Wedding

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

To all of you “Future Mrs.”, a “Congratulations” is in order. So now that the man has popped his question and the bride-to-be is going forward with planning, there’s so much to do! Time is ticking until the knot is tied. A destination wedding might be something you have always thought of. However, there are a lot of things to be aware of.

Planning Your Destination Wedding

Here are 6 things you should consider to have the destination wedding of your dreams.

1. The Location

destination wedding on the beach

You can’t have a wedding without picking a location! If you’re thinking of having a destination wedding, then “destination” could mean a few things. It could mean you want your wedding to take place five hours away at your favorite beach. It could also mean you want to fly over seas to a nice resort. Either way, the best destinations to have your wedding aren’t right around the corner.

Because your location will be farther away, you need to keep in mind that when you’re planning you’ll be making calls to the venue rather than driving there to see it in person. Give yourself a few options and then narrow it down. Ask yourself questions like “How far do I want my guests to travel?” and “What did I fall in love with about this location?” to help you make the final decision. You can have the sand between your toes on a Hawaiian island or a giant castle in Europe as the “wow” factor for your romantic ceremony. Dream big! It’s all about picking the right location.

2. The Guest List

Think about how many people you want at your wedding. Destination weddings usually have a lower numbered guest list due to the travel. It can also get expensive for guests when they pay for their own travel and accommodations, which is the reason why less people will attend. Most weddings like this have just a small number of family and friends, which keeps it pretty intimate. This can give the wedding a more relaxed feel, meaning less stress for the bride!

3. The Travel Items

wedding on beach bride

You will need to break out your inner minimalist when it comes to what you bring to your wedding. Most destination weddings are celebrated over multiple days, and you know you’ll end up packing a bigger suitcase. It’s a good idea to skip the DIY wedding decorations and leave it up to the wedding venue to give your ceremony some glam. The mother of the bride can travel with the wedding dress to ensure the groom doesn’t sneak a peak. Did you want your dog to be the ring bearer? Then you’ll need to make sure the flight allows pets before your book your plane ticket. The little details will come together at the wedding, but you should definitely leave the big stuff at home.

4. The Budget

What are you expecting to pay for? No, you don’t have to pay for the travel and accommodations for your guests, but if it’s in the budget you can make that offer. Typically the bride and groom pay for venue, the décor, and the food and drinks. If your wedding is at a location your guests can drive to, consider the gas and toll expenses they will have to pay. Don’t let the budget overwhelm you, and stick with what’s important. This will make it easier on the planning side, where the time and money is at the minimum level. You can use budgeting tips to plan your wedding and definitely cut down some of the cost.

5. The Invitations and RSVPs

beach wedding

Inviting guests to a destination wedding is more complicated than sending out invitations to a wedding in your hometown. There’s a lot of invitation etiquette you might not have thought about. You will need to send out the “Save the Dates” early enough to allow your guests to schedule their travel arrangements. They are usually sent 6-8 months before the wedding. Flights typically cost more when they are booked closer to the date. Save your guests money by sending out invitations earlier.

The RSVPs give you confirmation on who will attend your wedding. Give your guests a strict reply date, so you have time to plan accordingly. The more details you announce on your save the dates, invitations, and RSVPs, the better understanding your guests will have. This part of planning a destination wedding is all about the timing.

6. The Weather

Always, always, always have a back up plan! You can plan the perfect wedding, with the perfect location, but if a tropical storm decides to blow through your big day, you’re going to wish you had a back up plan. Beaches aren’t so beautiful in the rain. When you plan your wedding with the venue, make sure you come up with an indoor plan. You can’t control the weather, and that’s okay! You can still have a gorgeous destination wedding, and they say rain on the wedding day means good luck!

Don’t let the stress and expenses of a destination wedding scare you away from having the wedding you’ve always wanted. Keep your plans organized, and keep your guests informed. If you want a wedding on the beach then go for it girl! Say “I Do” at the destination of your dreams.

                                                


 Kacey Mya Profile Picture                                           ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                                  Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


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Bike Trails That Will Leave You Speechless In Scottsdale, Arizona

By Denise Nelson

Just recently I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do, enjoy and see, so of course I had to see the landscapes and what the city had to offer a cyclist like myself. I took to the roads early in the morning to ride through the old-town Scottsdale, looking at the architecture of the buildings and the unique feeling this side of town could offer. It’s not only what the city has to offer in views but also the benefits of cycling that are always a good reason to get out and on that bike!

>Scottsdale has been recognized for its biker friendliness and recognized by the League of American Bicyclists at the gold level. It’s a clean way to get around and, in a bicycle-safe community, it provides safe transportation and accommodation to bikers. If you like to cycle with a canine, Scottsdale is the place to do it. They allow pets to come along on your travels… just as long as you pick up after them!

There are many options to choose from between paved or unpaved trails and even mountain trails. They range in distance, but they also offer a variety of views as you travel through different parts of Scottsdale and experience something new.

 The Stunning Views On Scottsdale’s Bike Trails

Echo Canyon Trail head at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona




As the sun rose higher in the sky, the weather was warming up and I decided to ride down the Scottsdale Greenbelt, which takes you down through Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake. In total, this trip is 14.5 miles (23 km) and worth it for every bit of scenery you see along the way (especially if you stop for a small detour to see Marguerite Lake.).

There are also two paved bike trail sets to choose from, or do both: the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails and the DC Ranch Paved Trails. I chose to do the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails since there were more of them and offered more visual stimulation.

McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails

There are many options for mountain bikers as well. We took to Tom’s Thumb, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and allows for beautiful mountain rock formations, desert landscape, plenty of desert wildlife on the trail and the vast blue sky above you.

On the mountain trail through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you can see a variety of mountains, hills, rocks, cacti, desert plants, desert landscape, wildlife and hikers. This trail is beautiful and leaves a lasting impression on you, especially when seen at sunset. The sunset in Scottsdale is this beautiful purple-red-orange scene that paints the desert beautiful colors. The picture you see while riding your bike through this desert at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other Bike Trails in Scottsdale, Arizona to Cycle

Arizona desert landscape, Phoenix,Scottsdale area.

Another trail to ride on would be the Indian Bend Wash Path. It is a beautiful, lush and green 22 mile (35.5 km) expanse with parks, waterways and greenery. What is great about this trail is the fact that there are tunnels and bridges that go over and under the roadways so you don’t have to take a break from the beautiful view while you ride.

I also recommend the South Mountain Trail. It’s a 16,000-acre park and offers tough, but interesting trails for multiple levels of bikers. I went on the Desert Classic trail, which is 9 miles (14.5km) with a beautiful view of the rich greenery and mountainous landscape offered only by the desert. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind views of the rock formations and steep cliffs.

Following South Mountain, I would also recommend the Browns Ranch Trails. It’s roughly 13 miles (21km) long. The wildlife you’ll see range from rabbits and squirrels to desert tortoises and snakes. Rock formations, natural landscaping and relaxed trails provide for an easy ride to enjoy a desert scene with a gorgeous view.

If you are more advanced in your riding you’ll want to check out Sunrise Trail. It’s a fairly new trail that is 10 miles (16km) long and very rugged and steep. The trail is very narrow so you need to watch for hikers and for your own safety as cacti grow close to the trails. It is also a single-track and has a steep elevation of 1,700 ft (518m).

Lastly for mountain biking, I would say to finish with the Whiskey Bottle Trail. It’s a short 3 mile (5km) trail that is for intermediate-advanced bike riders. The trail starts off easy but you gain a steep increase of 800 ft (244m) into a more rocky trail. There are tight curves and dangerous turns and terrain. Overall, this trail is a short, but rewarding, trail to bike on as it provides a beautiful view at the end, overlooking the vast desert with it’s beautiful rocks, scenery, and animals.

The Many Colours Of Cycling in Scottsdale

Serene iconic Arizona desert morning sunrise with enormous powerful sun on horizon line framed by Saguaro cactus - gorgeous lens flare.

Taking to the roads, there are plenty of street lanes for you to get to any place of business you’d like. Taking this route allows you to see the art on the above route of the Indian Bend Wash Path, get to bookstores, grocery stores and more, all while taking in the view of homes and the architecture styles of old and new homes built in Scottsdale.

If you don’t want to go alone, then you have the options of group rides! They welcome any type of rider, at any level, and they offer multiple time frames to fit your schedule. Each day of the week, they’ll take you on different trails, paths, and parks. This allows for a memorable experience while meeting new people with similar interests. Riding together allows for a deeper experience in a new place with the added personal connection while talking with other riders.

The amount of trails and scenery available in Scottsdale is amazing. There are so many trails and paths to explore that you could have a fantastic weeklong experience. A wonderful bonus to the trails and paths are the lakes, mountains, and parks that are available to bike riders.

If you ride early in the morning, you can see the sunrise cast its beautiful rays over colour across the vast desert. At night, the painting-like sunset casts that colour over the desert leaving it bathed in a beautiful nighttime glow.

Tips Before You Head Out On A Scottsdale Bike Trail

Overall, if you want to take on any of these trails, whether you are a beginner or an advanced biker, you need to make sure you are prepared and in shape for the trail you are planning to ride. Make sure your bike is comfortable and you have enough water and snacks to keep you safe on your ride. Always wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the weather and the trail type. Make sure to map your trail so you always stay on track and don’t get lost and make sure to take everything into consideration so you can have a great ride!

 


denise nelson profile picABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise is a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking around the world. She worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train & ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country & any activities they want to indulge in. She’s also a founder of MountainBikeEZ where you can learn about mountain bikes & mountain biking.


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Visit Finland: Ways to Disconnect From WiFi & Connect With Nature

By Dave Brett of Travel Dave UK

When it comes to the Nordics, normally ‘affordable’ is not a word you would associate with this unique area of the world.

However, Finland is the most affordable destination within this region that still packs a mighty punch for your hard earned buck.

Did you know that Finland has a national law called okamiehenoikeus (The Everyman’s right), which states that you’re free to camp anywhere on public land in Finland for free?

Finland Hammock

Simply pack a tent and a sleeping bag and you’re free to roam! Of course, this will limit you to travelling during the Summer months as Winter conditions in Finland can be harsh.

This is what first attracted me to visiting Finland. I’ve always been a big fan of the great outdoors and Finland has so much to offer in terms of huge contrasts between the seasons.



It’s not that difficult to reach the outdoors in Finland. The country is covered by thousands of lakes, millions of trees and endless amounts of archipelago islands.

finland views

It can be harsh in the winter reaching extreme minus temperatures, but the summer can offer so many hiking trail opportunities that are not to be missed.

Along many hiking trails you can find free public cabins to sleep in for the night, some ask for a small cleaning fee donation, but never too much.

finland cabins

The best part of Finland is the true beauty of Finnish nature and you can visit many national parks that offer free hiking trails.

One great national park worth exploring, and only a short drive away from Finland’s capital Helsinki, is the Nuuksio National Park located close to Espoo, Finland’s second biggest city.

If you fancy something a little bit different, head into Finland’s bear country, Ruka, Kuusamo. Located close to the border of Lapland, it offers stunning Finnish lakes and hiking trails such as Oulanka National Park, which will take your breath away.

You can also go off hiking in Finland’s Lapland region. One great trail is in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park where you can find a wonderful selection of cabins to choose from and enjoy life without electricity while really connecting with nature. The autumn time is truly stunning here when winter is coming and the colours start to change.

finland trails

Another incredible hiking trail to explore is the coastal paths close to Turku such as the Finnish Archipelago trail that offers free hiking or cycling trails around Finland’s thousands of small islands, all connected with local ferry boats.

Finland doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan on enjoying the stunning Finnish nature in the summertime.

Don’t let the winter put you off either! If you fancy something a little different, Finland is magical across all four seasons as you can really notice a drastic change in climate here.

For a true winter adventure, head to the Koli National Park located in Northern Finnish Karelia. Here you can look over incredible winter snow plains, grab a snowmobile and go on safari over the frozen lakes and even try your luck at a spot of ice fishing.

finland lakes

And of course, most important, be sure to see if a local will adopt you for one evening and invite you to try a local Finnish sauna experience!

Finland has a sauna per every 5 residence, it’s simply a way of life in Finland and Finns couldn’t live without going to the sauna at least once a week. The sauna has many Finnish traditions and that’s why it’s best to be adopted by a Finn who will happily run you through the whole relaxing ritual and make the experience more worthwhile.

finland free camping

Finland doesn’t have to be expensive when it offers incredible camping and beautiful nature all for free. No matter what the season, this country truly has it all when it comes to nature.

If you’re looking for an adventure, something unique and different like a relaxing nature experience, Finland is a dream destination which will offer a unique trip and allow you to reconnect and relax with nature.

 


Travel Dave UK profileABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Brett shares his travel stories and digital nomad lifestyle on Travel Dave UK while offering travel tips and suggestions for anyone travelling. His goal is to travel to every country and, as of the writing of this article, has managed to hit 86 of 196! You can also find him, along with his adventures and advice, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


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Langkawi, Malaysia – A Nature Lover’s Paradise

By Vanessa of The Island Drum

Peninsular Malaysia has over ten popular islands just off its coastlines but for nature lovers Langkawi, Malaysia is a standout.

Despite Langkawi’s reputation as a beachy resort island, its natural topography is often overlooked by travellers keen on a dose of nature. In fact, nature greets visitors in abundance immediately upon arrival, whether arriving by boat or plane.

langkawi malaysia view from cable car

Ferry passengers are greeted by lush tropical islands and islets as the ferries weave their way to the main Langkawi terminal and flight arrivals are presented with bird’s-eye views of stretches of sandy, white beaches, picturesque rainforests and padi fields.

The Geopark That Is Langkawi

cable car in langkawi malaysia

Langkawi’s natural beauty is one of the main reasons the 99-island archipelago was granted UNESCO Geopark status back in 2007.

Visitors often get confused as to the location of the ‘Langkawi Geopark’ when in fact the entire main island as well as the outer islands are considered ‘the Geopark’.

Geological monuments, protected geosites and more than 90 documented areas of geological diversity are grouped together to form three separate geoforest parks within the archipelago, which is where many of Langkawi’s ‘sightseeing’ venues and activities are also located.

Mat Cincang Cambrian Geoforest Park includes Mat Cincang mountain and gives new meaning to the adage ‘old as the hills’. The  550 million year old mountain is considered by many to be the actual birthplace of Malaysia!
This impressive mountain is over 700 meters tall and home to Langkawi’s most popular attractions: the Panorama Cable Car and Sky Bridge in Oriental Village (Langkawi’s answer to Disneyland, if you will). The vistas from the top (only reachable by cable car) are stunning and, on a clear day, visitors can see as far as Thailand’s distant Koh Tarutao.

Touring the Mangroves in Langkawi

Langkawi water buffalo park

Mangrove tours are generally focused in the Kilim Geopark Forest. A chance to explore them is an eye-opening experience for even the most well-versed nature aficionado. The mangrove ecosystem is one of the most diverse on the island, with the flora and fauna to prove it. The abundance of insects, crustacean and fish, which call the mangroves home is a smorgasbord for a diverse bird population, from Briminy Kites and Sea Eagles to colorful Kingfishers and more. Two varieties of bats can also be spotted ‘hanging around’ within the many limestone caves that are only accessible by boat or kayak. A quick tip: mangrove tours are much more interesting with a licensed knowledgeable guide, to get the absolute most from the experience.

Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park – A Visitor Favourite

island hopping in Langkawi Malaysia

Although there are actually 104 islands within the archipelago (99 at high tide) the nearby island of Dayang Bunting gets the most attention – not just because it’s part of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, but because it is also home to the legendary Tasik Dayang Bunting (better known as the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden). A drink from this mysterious fresh water lake is said to have helped many a barren female become pregnant. To drive that folklore-ish fact home, the mountain top looks very much like a pregnant maiden lying on her back.

Visits to Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park are usually included in the ‘Island Hopping’ boat tours as well as the family friendly jet ski tours of Mega Water Sports. It can be quite touristy during weekends and school holidays, but it is a lovely park with plenty of jungle plants to admire.

For those who prefer to set their own schedule, renting a car or motorbike will allow you to explore the local beaches and waterfalls at a leisurely pace.

Relaxing on the Beaches in Langkawi

Pantai Kok beach in Langaki Malaysia

Beyond the well-known Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) and Pantai Tengah, there are at least eight more beaches worth checking out. The pristine Pantai Tanjung Rhu being one of the last public beaches which offers a few undeveloped meters of white sand and inviting emerald green waters is at the top of the list, along with Pantai Teluk Datai (Datai Bay Beach).

The more remote beaches such as Pantai Kok, Pantai Teluk Yu (Shark Bay Beach), Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (Skull Sand Beach), Pantai Batu (Pebble Beach) and Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach) are all unique and worth exploring as some of their names are also indicative of, perhaps, colorful pasts.

Enjoying the Beauty of the Waterfalls in Langkawi

seven wells waterfall langkawi malaysia

When it comes to waterfalls Langkawi has three that stand out, especially during the monsoon season when the cascades are especially abundant.

Telaga Tujuh Waterfall is actually visible from the nearby Panorama Cable Car. More commonly referred to as ‘Seven Wells’, this waterfall sees more than its fare share of visitors, regardless of rainfall, based on sheer beauty as well as convenient proximity to Oriental Village.

The 14-tier Durian Pergangin Waterfall and the more isolated Temurun Waterfall make for picturesque rest stops for visitors circumnavigating the island’s many back roads. You can expect to spot plenty of monkeys along the way, as they are especially attracted to picnic spots – but as cute as they are, feeding them is not advisable.

Trekking the Jungles of Langkawi

Grazing Water Buffalo in langakawi malaysia

Langkawi’s natural gifts are also found deep in the rainforest or in secluded locations best visited with a licensed nature guide (for safety reasons as well as having the benefit of a local expert). Jungle trekking is offered by local tour companies at levels suitable for young children up to the serious mountaineer and they are guaranteed more than a few ‘wow’ moments.

Wildlife is plentiful in the Langkawi archipelago, with the over 200 species of tropical birds leading the pack. Monitor lizards, dusky leaf monkeys, macaques, flying lemurs; the list goes on and on.

With waterfalls and mangroves, beaches and jungles, it’s pretty clear that for anyone with an appreciation for nature, Langkawi will not disappoint.

 


vanessa profile photo island drumABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa is based out of Langakwi, Malaysia and created The Island Drum to provide information and awareness about the island and all the events, attractions and activities. Vanessa is also sharing her experiences travelling Peninsular & East Malaysia as well as Southeast Asia and beyond! You can also find her on Facebook & Instagram.


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The Times And Trials Of Working in a French Restaurant

By Ashley of Curious Provence

I walked into the dining room to the sound of the repeated yelling of the word “merde!!” It was coming from the kitchen. The fear that had been a low rumble intensified as I was faced with the head chef/owner. All my French vocabulary escaped me. His face contorted as I began to speak, the same expression many French people adopt when I open my mouth. I’ve become somewhat accustomed to it. Minutes later, I was shaking as I was opening a wine bottle in front of a table of four french people. The more nervous I was the slower I was, the slower I was, the more nervous I became. At home I could rip into a bottle of wine no problem- and do so every night (when in France…) This was different. Drops of red wine dripped all over the white tablecloth.

French people take each job and turn it into a métier, or a trade. You specialise in what you do and you’re proud of it. The chef must have been desperate; I had never worked as a waitress before. Living in a rural village in France only gives you so many options.

provence wine

Shift work was not an option. As the team or as the chef called us, his ‘soldiers’, needed so much training, we worked both lunch and dinner service. I found myself in seemingly perpetual cycles of working, eating, sleeping and nothing else. My brain was exhausted not only to keep up with the French but the French slang that is so common with restaurant staff. Everything is abbreviated. On orders, cabillaud (cod) is KBIO, personnel is ‘perso’ a carafe of water is a circle with a line through it. My french vocabulary was incredibly slow to improve due to my inability to actually hear what anyone was saying. I tried to pick out words that I kept on ripped pieces of paper in my back pocket. Who knew there were so many expressions with the word fart in them?!

The clients participated in a constant guessing game of where I was from. Thankfully, there were exclamations of joy whenever I mentioned I was Canadian. This was swiftly followed by the interrogation of why on earth I would move here when all the young French people are moving there. I learned that being Canadian is oddly considered chic and la classe. Explaining the nationalistic difference between French Canada, where I’m from, and identifying myself as Canadian instead of Quebecois was a constant topic of conversation. This interest in my heritage thankfully disguised some of my inept shaky serving.

The drinks were tricky. The French love of sirops (syrups) meant that I had to learn, rather unsuccessfully, all the different names of sirops combined with water, pastis, lemonade and beer. For example, a ‘Monaco’ is a ‘panaché’ (beer with a little lemonade) with grenadine sirop. A gommé, or a demi acid, is beer with lemon sirop. Then, there are all the French and local specialties. How to serve pastis (aniseed liquor) with all it’s various sirops and their various names. Rinquinuin…what a name! Once, after the evening shift, the chef made me try Jet 27; it was like drinking toothpaste.

charcuterie board france

I had to learn how to say to say ‘non.’ As an anglo-saxon from a capitalist society, I had a hard time getting used to the fact that the customer is not king. Eventually, the long days and the lack of extra money for extra hours and the French inability to tip, allowed me to adopt some of the French waiter attitude. You want to eat at 7pm? The chef had no problem telling potential clients that we eat then, you eat afterwards. You want your beef well done? Impossible! Your want a special menu for your kid? Non. You want to eat lunch at 2:30 in the afternoon? Non. How dare you not order an entrée? How dare you not eat all of your meal. All this, along with the chef’s strong conviction that all vegetarians should be hospitalised, led to some interesting situations. Surprisingly, the French actually put up with this and indeed expect it.

A part of the job is getting to know the clientele. This is paramount in a rural French village. I’ll never forget the local olive producer’s exasperation when I made him spell his name for me on the phone for a reservation. You become adept at details. You remember to reserve the table next to the kitchen for the guy who comes every week with a different girl, you remember (after much tongue twisting practice) that 5A in front of the local sausage means: Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique.

provence france cafe

You learn that it’s rude not to do the 3 ‘bisous’ (kisses) with every single person in the kitchen when you get to work in the morning. You learn to keep a straight face as hot coffee spills on you. You program yourself, through sheer anxiety, to distinguish the ring of the bell from the kitchen despite the noise of a roaring restaurant. You can even tell the mood of the chef by his ring.

The pecking order of a restaurant is evident at all times. Everyone is asking something of you, even the dishwasher. You wouldn’t believe the effortless insults that can be utilised while amazingly still using the formal ‘vousvoyer’ form. You learn to jump at the chef’s exclamation of “Hellooo??” If you don’t stand up for yourself, you’ll be trampled. As you can imagine, defending yourself in another language is a constant battle. After shifts, in the early hours of the morning, I’d angrily punch into WordReference.com all kinds of words I wish I had known at previous moments during the day. I was exasperated that there isn’t a real translation of smart ass in French. In such a stressful environment you can be under attack at any moment.

After two months, I was replaced with someone who could handle six plates at once. I learned to carry only 2.5. I learned how to make foam for a cappuccino and the difference between a parmentier and a parmentière. I was able to have an insight into French peculiarities, such as leaving half bottles of wine and taking cigarette breaks between each course. I learned the incredible subjectivity of the restaurant experience and that, from now on, I’ll be leaving much bigger tips!

 


curious provence profile photoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley is a Canadian living in Provence, documenting her life and experiences in the area on CuriousProvence. She shares her passion and knowledge of local food, wine, markets, festivities and other interesting cultural particularities. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.