Before making any hotel accommodations or itinerary decisions, I always consult with TripAdvisor. (For restaurants, I tend to rely on Yelp or Eater though.) It’s probably the best one-stop-shop aside from purchasing a guidebook for your destination.
When I adopted TripAdvisor two years ago, I had a few qualms. In particular, I found that I had to sift through reviews to find things that interested me or that the reviews focused on details I wasn’t concerned with. In the past year however, TripAdvisor has started making much better recommendations based on my own travel style settings (i.e., art & architecture lover, like a local) and my prior reviews and research.
In order to keep TripAdvisor’s recommendations relevant to me, I also make sure to set time aside shortly after trips to post my own reviews. Again, this helps the website adjust its recommendations for me in the future, but I also feel motivated to “give back” to the website’s community. I want other travelers to be able to make informed decisions, so I always review my hotel, restaurants, and the attractions visited. Any time I can help a helpful tip, too, I include that.
If you’re not already using TripAdvisor, or feel overwhelmed with the options, I recommend updating your travel style under your profile and actively using the different filter options when you research a particular location. I try to look at only the most recent reviews, too, and I pay attention to who is doing the reviewing: Are they frequent reviewers? What badges do they have? What age are they? That helps ensure that I’m getting current information from people like me.
If you’re interested in reading some of my reviews, click here. I tend to be pretty positive, but I also think my extensive research helps ensure that we’re set up for a successful, enjoyable trip.
I’m working from New York City (or just “The City” if you’re originally from the Tri-state area) this week. I couldn’t be more excited about getting a taste of autumn on the East Coast since it’s been quite warm in San Francisco these past few weeks. At the risk of sounding like a basic bitch, I’m looking forward to layered clothing, tights, boots, and pumpkin spice lattes for the next few days (although it looks to be in the 70s toward the end of the week).
I have some evening work commitments, but I’m still managing to squeeze in a few (Italian) dinners with friends and I’m finally going to see my cousin’s son who is starring as Gavroche in Les Mis right now! I’ll also be picking up some bagels on Saturday on my way out to bring back to the West Coast. (Really excited about testing out these methods.) A week in New York always flies by, but hopefully I’ll be able to slow down a bit and enjoy the changing leaves.
On Wednesday we returned from our (too) short trip to Hawaii. We wound up spending about 36 hours on Oahu and the remainder of our trip on Kauai.
We started our trip with a visit to Pearl Harbor, which was extremely interesting and well-done. The museum put a lot of effort into recording survivors’ stories, which added another layer of depth. Unfortunately, the wind picked up too much and the boat to see the USS Arizona was suspended for the remainder of the day. Tip: If you’re going, you should go early in the morning when it’s less likely to be windy.
We had great meals while on Oahu. The Pig & The Lady is a modern Vietnamese restaurant, which we hit up after craft cocktails at The Manifest. We also walked a good two miles to try malasada at Leonard’s Bakery (I preferred the original) and had a modern Hawaiian brunch at Koko Head Cafe, which serves brunch all day.
On Kauai, we stayed at the Koloa Landing Resort in Poipu Beach. Our villa was twice the size of our own apartment. My favorite feature of the villa was having an in-unit washer & dryer, which I think is going to be a must-have on all future tropical vacations! We spent one morning snorkeling and then spent the remainder of our days alternating between the resort pools and the beach, where we saw an endangered Hawaiian monk seal (their population is about 1,100). As on Oahu, we had great meals on Kauai, my favorite being Eating House 1849 – by Roy Yamaguchi (the butterfish hot pot is a must).
We infrequently go on beach vacations (maybe because my husband isn’t the best at applying sunscreen to my back…), but Hawaii was a nice mix of relaxation on the beach, sightseeing, hiking, and great restaurants. I wouldn’t mind if a trip to Hawaii became an annual tradition for us and I think I’d like to go to The Big Island next.
On my way back to San Francisco last weekend, I started chatting with two other passengers on my flight. After sharing that I had been traveling for the last eight days for work, one of them remarked at how well I must pack to travel with such a small carry-on. Precisely. Prior to each trip, I identify all of the events I’ll be attending (e.g., 5 days in the office, 2 days of hiking, and so forth), and then plan out each outfit I’ll need. That often means re-wearing clothes and spot treating with Frebreeze or even doing laundry, but it’s worth it to have a lighter, smaller carry-on.
For my most recent work trip, I packed for 6 days of business casual and 2 days of casual clothing. I ended up packing just 8 clothing items.
I got two wears out of a dark jersey-knit wrap dress, of which I’ve professed my love to several times on this blog, including on my red eye flight. Since the weather was hot at my destination, I chose one that was machine-washable in case it needed to be laundered (which it did!) at my Airbnb rental. I also packed two silk blouses, each of which were re-worn twice: once with jeans and once with a skirt. A striped tee did double duty as well and a jewel-tone sweater was worn once during the day and once to a casual dinner with friends.
Rounding out my packing list was a blue blazer to dress up outfits and as a layer for cooler evenings, an oversized scarf, and two pairs of ballet flats. Is this the most exciting list of outfits? No, but I’m not a style blogger! I was able to easily fit all of my items into a carry-on that was easy to hoist into an overhead bin and schlep on Amtrak and the subway and I looked put together for every event I attended.