It was the perfect day for a mini road trip, so my friend Claire and I headed to Princeton. We had planned to go apple picking, but the line was so long we went to Princeton University instead. The campus is beautiful, and the weather was just right! We wandered around for a bit, then grabbed some hot coco and pumpkin bread from a nearby Starbucks (delicious!) for a picnic on the lawn.
P.S. My shirt is from Lauren James, it’s so comfortable! Perfect for fall!
I have passed this farm hundreds of times and never taken a second look, but something about it caught my eye today and I couldn’t resist stopping in.
Three years ago, I took a thirty day trip to Europe with EF College Break. The company organizes trips to Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa for anyone age 18 to 26. The trip you book includes flight, hotel stay, most transportation, and a welcome dinner, and a farewell dinner. You can book alone, or with friends. I booked my trip alone, which at the time, was completely out of character for me. When I was younger, I would actually beg my mom not to take me to summer camp. So, voluntarily signing up to be away from home for 30 days was a big deal – and the best decision I have ever made.
Here’s everything you need to know about EF College Break:
BEFORE THE TRIP you’ll get a chance to “meet” everyone in an invite-only Facebook group for your particular tour (time to change that profile picture to something that says “I’m fun to hang out with!”). The tour guide also uses this group, so it’s a great way to ask questions, collaborate with others about what you’re bringing (a lot of people in my group discussed what kind of phone they were using), and even meet a potential roommate.
Quick Tip: Be wary of securing a roommate before the trip has even started. You don’t want to get stuck with someone before getting to meet everyone else. By not having a set roommate, I got placed with someone new every time we switched hotels, which led me to meet a lot of new people.
ON TRAVELING: You may spend a lot of time in a bus or train. I did the “30 days in Europe” tour and while I had the time of my life, I wish I was more prepared for the long hours we would be spending in the bus. On my trip, we had 5-7 hour bus rides every three days. Though it was exhausting, it’s all worth it because you see so much! The bus trips are usually broken up with short stops along the way. The picture to the right is when we stopped in Assisi (it quickly became one of my favorite places). Another time, we stopped at Pont du Gard in Italy to swim and sun bathe beneath the ancient Roman bridge (how many people can say they’ve done that?).
Quick Tip: When booking your trip, look at the itinerary and beware of the days that say, “Travel to________”. You may want to google the distance to see just how much time you’ll spend in a bus or train.
THE TOUR GUIDES: While I can’t speak for every tour guide (though I’ve heard good things), my tour guide was amazing. She spoke about four different languages fluently and knew all the best spots to eat, sightsee, or just hang out. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she was also fun to be around. So get your idea of the typical tour guide (remember Miss Ungermeyer in the Lizzie McGuire movie?) out of your head, EF tour guides are anything but.
ON TOURING: it’s good to know that nothing is mandatory. Every day your tour guide will have the day scheduled with things to do and places to see, but you don’t need to do any of it. A lot of people go along because it’s fun to be with the group and the trips are, 90% of the time, the exact thing you were wanting to do. However, there are times when a museum or tourist attraction won’t look appealing to you, and that’s okay.
Remember: Nothing is mandatory. Don’t waste your time on something you don’t absolutely want to do, you’re only in each city for 2-3 days.
ON PACKING: I can’t stress this enough, pack light. This is not a vacation where your bag stays in the room and you can live out of your suitcase for a week. You are traveling constantly (see above) and there are many times you’ll have to walk around with your luggage. Often times the bus can’t park right in front of the hotels because of the narrow streets, so you’ll be forced to roll your luggage up and down the cobblestone side streets of whatever foreign city you’re in. And more often than not, the hotels will not have elevators. So when you’re deciding whether to bring that third pair of heels, think again.
Quick Tip: Bring non-perishable snacks from home. It sounds crazy, but you’ll be thanking yourself when everyone is spending money every time their stomach growls (it adds up!). Granola bars come in handy when you’re hungry in the hotel room at 3 AM.
ON GOING ALONE: Don’t be afraid to sign up for a trip alone. While a good amount of people go with friends, plenty of people sign up alone too. Like most things worth doing it was scary at the start, but at the end of it all I was a better person. I came home from the trip with a sense of independence, a view of the world (okay, Europe), and friends I know I’ll have for a lifetime.
OVERALL I definitely recommend EF College Break if you’re within the age bracket and looking to travel. It’s the easiest way to go- just sign up and leave the planning to the tour guides- and it’s reasonably priced.
Today I took a trip to Nyack, NY and Piermont, NY. Two small towns filled with old buildings, beautiful architecture, local shops, and located steps from the Hudson river.
As I was catching up with my friends over dinner last night, they pointed out that I travel all the time, and asked me if I had any travel tips. So, I decided to compile a list of tips to make traveling a little bit better.
Weeks before your trip…
- Stock up on reading material. Instead of paying airport prices for new magazines, check around your house and friends’ houses for magazines (or books) you haven’t read yet.
- Download movies. Before my flight to Texas this past June I checked iTunes every day for deals on movies. I ended up renting GBF on my iPad for only 99 cents (compare that to the $5 they charge you for the inflight movie), and it turned out to be a great movie!
- Research. Whenever you have free time start to research the area you’ll be visiting. This can be really overwhelming to do in one sitting because there are so many websites to look at (my favorites are tripadvisor and yelp). Find places you may want to eat, interesting places to see, and activities for rainy days. Have a loose outline of what you want to do – but don’t worry about sticking to the plan too much, just have fun.
- Stay healthy. I try to take a vitamin C tablet every day, but I become especially aware when I have a trip coming up. It’s very easy to get sick when you’re traveling, so prepare your immune system with an extra boost before and during your trip.
Your carry on…
- Warm clothes. Planes tend to be really cold, so I always tuck a sweater and a pair of fuzzy socks in my bag. Being comfortable makes all the difference in how long or short a ride can feel.
- Medicine. Though I rarely need to use them, I bring Advil and motion sickness medicine with me on all of my trips. Just knowing they’re in my bag helps me worry a little less.
- Snacks. Food at the airport is extremely overpriced (a bag of pretzels for $5.50…how?!) Fill your bag with your favorite healthy snacks so you won’t be tempted to buy junk food!
During your trip…
- Don’t sleep on the plane. This may not be the same for everyone, but sleeping on a plane makes me more drowsy than I was before. It’s uncomfortable to sleep on a plane and I’m constantly waking up. I find that staying awake and keeping busy helps me to be more alert when it’s time to meet whoever is waiting for me at the airport. Once I arrive, I take it easy for a day (but still no naps!) and then sleep early that night. If you nap the first day, you’re setting yourself up to need naps the rest of the trip.
- Make use of yelp. When my boyfriend and I went on our road trip the yelp app was our best friend. I like to use travelocity, as I mentioned before, for activities and hotels, but yelp is the best for places to eat. I love that users can upload pictures of what their meal looked like – it’s the perfect menu!
Sanibel Island, Florida
My dad recently moved to Florida, so I visit at least once a year. It has quickly, and happily, become my second home. I decided to squeeze in one quick vacation, before the start of the school year, and fly down to Florida. It was a much needed trip filled with relaxation, and father-daughter time, of course. My dad and I went to the beach nearly every day and we even took a mini-vacation (a vacation within a vacation) to Sanibel Island. I fell in love with the tiny island, also known as ‘The Shell Capital of the World…and they do have a lot of shells (picture a beach with shells instead of sand)!
Towards the end of my visit my dad and I went out to eat at Snook Haven, a restaurant in Venice, Floirda. It was our first time there and we loved it. The place has an authentic “old Florida” atmosphere – to get there, you drive down a dirt road lined with canopy trees on either side. The restaurant itself sits near a tangent of the Myakka River and hosts live music daily. The food was delicious (try the sweet potato wedges!) and the staff was friendly- just like you’d expect in the South. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area, and be sure to look up at the giant alligator on the ceiling…it’s real!
On vacation…details coming soon !
After returning home from my southern road trip I fell back in love with New Jersey. Last winter had me contemplating whether I wanted to live here, but all I really needed was some time away to remember why I love it so much. So here it is, reasons to love New Jersey:
- It’s truly the best of both worlds in New Jersey. No matter where you live you’re never far from a beach or major city (you have your pick between New York and Philly). Where I live in the Northeast, for example, I’m about thirty minutes from New York and an hour and a half hour from the beach (which I think makes for the perfect mini road trip!). My friend in South Jersey, however, is about two hours from New York and only fifteen minutes from the beach!
- We experience every season. Sure, New Jersey winters are long and cold, but every other season more than makes up for it. Florida is great with it’s hot summers and warm winters, but here in the Northeast we get the best season of all – autumn. The leaves turn the most beautiful shades of orange and red and it’s just the right temperature outside: cold enough to bundle up in a cute scarf, but not I-can’t-feel-my-hands-cold. I would take autumn over a warm winter any day…and to be completely honest, I even kind of like winter, because Christmas just doesn’t feel the same without hot coco and snow.
- The pizza and bagels are better than anywhere else (okay maybe New York has us beat with the pizza, but we’re right behind them!).
- It’s filled with green! Most people don’t think of green trees and hiking when they think of New Jersey (thank you, Newark airport), but in spring and summer there really is green everywhere you look. I love New Jersey summers, because not only do we have the beach, but we also have places to hike, lakes and rivers to kayak and boat in, and secret spots to cliff jump!
- New Jersey has the most diners in the world. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite meals is breakfast…especially when it’s not breakfast time. Growing up my friends and I would often end up at the diner after a night out – whether it be from the movies when we were young, a pep rally in high school, or coming home from the city when we were older. Breakfast food (pancakes!), diner fries, and good company was, and still is, the perfect way to end the night.
- The skyline. One thing you don’t get when you live in the city, is the view of just how beautiful the New York City skyline is. My favorite spot in all of New Jersey is right near the Hudson River where you can sit and admire the city from afar. There’s hiking nearby (again, outdoor activities!) and plenty of picnic tables and benches. I love to come here on my own to read and just collect my thoughts. There’s something magical about sitting among all of the nature and looking across the Hudson River at the greatest city in the world.
Have you ever been to New Jersey? If so, what did you think?