Quick Trip to Beverly Hills

Last week, I popped out to LA for a quick work trip. The trip was very quick but I did score a few free hours in Beverly Hills to play. While I’m certainly no west coast expert, here are a few places I recommend if you travel like I do, and need a few suggestions.

Olive & June

If you’re looking to treat yourself, I highly recommend getting a mani/pedi at Olive & June. Inside, the place is so simply chic it’s easy to unwind during your services. The ladies at the BH location were fantastic & are nail art experts. Since I was still rounding out client meetings and additional weddings, I opted for a simpler nail art experience.

obsessed with this half moon design

Sugarfish

Lunch at SugarFish is a MUST. Hands down, the best sushi I’ve ever had. Choose one of the pre fixed menu options (I did the Trust Me Lite) & you won’t be sorry. In hindsight, go hungry & try as much as you can, because honestly, every bite was incredible.

Shopping on Rodeo Drive

Besides the fact that Rodeo is one of the most beautiful streets anyone could want to shop on, the stores are so fantastically staged; just the site of it is gorgeous. Not to mention, everything is more charming with palm trees.

foyer into Ralph Lauren

The Beverly Center is awesome for additional shopping & I also hit up the and The Grove for a quick lunch between meetings on Tuesday in between meetings.

Ladurée

While Ladurée this isn’t a west coast novelty, I can always go for
a macaroon & champagne as a mid-afternoon snack.

In-N-Out

The second I found out I was heading to LA, friends began to make me promise I’d try In-N-Out. While I 100% understand the hype and it was truly delicious, I don’t think any burger joint can top Swensons.

La Scala

Old school Beverly Hills, highly recommend the chopped salad.  Good place to see & be seen.

I also took a quick stroll down Melrose, which is cool area to explore. Very eclectic & chic.

What are your favorite LA spots? Where should I make sure I get to next time?

Cheers,

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Traveling Like a Pro

Traveling like a pro as actually a lot easier than it sounds. From my own experiences, I’ve compiled the list below that highlights a fewrules I follow when traveling to ensure my trip runs smoothly.

see? the first flight out can have it’s perks

Sign up to accrue airline miles. Even if you don’t exclusively fly the same airline every time, it’s a smart idea to signup every time you take a flight with a new airline. It’s free & a great way to get a free flight/ upgrade your seat.

Pack like a pro. Check out yesterday’s post on packing. No one likes to lug a heavy suitcase around.

First flight out. Many will fight me on this but it is my preference to always take an early flight out. Usually those flights have less of a chance of being delayed and if you happen to have a flight cancellation, it’s likely you’ll be able to jump on another flight later in the day.

Bottle of water + Snack. Whenever I travel, I usually keep at least one energy bar in my purse and one in my suitcase. Once I’m passed security, I always pick up a bottle of water. This stems from those horror stories I’ve heard about planes running out of water. I’ve thankfully never been on a flight like that, but it always eases my nerves knowing I have water & a snack, if needed.

Pre- TSA // Global Entry. If you travel a lot, I cannot express the need to have Pre-TSA & Global Entry enough. You don’t have to take anything out of your bag or remove your shoes to go through security. The application process was fairly simple. Fill out a form online & stop in for a quick interview. Again, American Express offers Pre-TSA as a cardholder perk.

Clean out your purse prior to takeoff. You don’t need those receipts or superfluous items in your bag. No one wants to be the one fishing through their bag at security looking for their ID.

Make yourself comfortable. If you’re gearing up for a long flight, donne a cute pair of leggings & cardigan. I love to swear a scarf or cozy wrap in case I get cold.

Airport Lounges. Check into what your airline or credit card may offer. I’m a Priority Pass holder which grants access to 1000 lounges worldwide. With American Express, I have access to Centurion Lounges, which always makes me get to the airport with plenty of time so I can relax prior to my flight.

via Centurion Lounge

Check your credit cards. As I’ve mentioned, Amex has a ton of great perks that go along with traveling but if you have an airline of preference, check into options with their credit cards. Often times, they’ll run specials such as gaining 60k miles when you spend so much in the first three months. Great option if you need to make a larger purchase, may as well gain those miles to use for flights! The credit card you already use may have great perks you’re unaware of.

Pack thoughtfully. This is a rule I swear by! Have you ever flown somewhere tropical in the dead of winter? When you land, your shorts and sundresses won’t save you from the cold. When I’m packing I’ll put anything I’ll need handy in the very top of my suitcase. Like a jacket or heavy sweater. That way, when I land, I can unzip the top and pull out my jacket or whatever I need. Quick & efficient when you don’t have to stop, unzip your entire suitcase and dig around.

What travel tips do you live by?

Cheers,

Packing Like a Pro

early morning flights require cozy jeans & a snuggly sweater

Over the past few years, my travel has increased quite a bit, which is perfectly ok with me. I love traveling and have learned there’s definitely an art in doing it well. For work or fun, I usually find myself on trips that last 3-5 days & if you can do it right, for that amount, you should never have to check a bag. See a few tips below for packing like a pro & ditching your checked luggage.

  1. Invest in good luggage. When I was shopping for a luggage set, there were a few specific things I was interested in. I wanted one piece to be suitable for carry on travel, I wanted it to be bright & recognizable ( ie: red) and I wanted to find a brand that was guaranteed (with warranty). I ended up with Victorinox which is ironically the brand my family of travelers has always used. These are other great brands that made the top of my list: Away (even charges your phone!) & Delsey.
  2. Make an itinerary/ packing list. If you have even a rough idea of what you’ll need to pack, it will eliminate most of the “just in case” outfits. For example, if you’re spending all day Saturday at a spa on your trip- no need to pack an outfit for Saturday during the day. If you know you’ll be outside in fall like temperature, pack a few items that can be layered.
  3. Channel the French. French women are notorious for keeping their chic closet’s tre simple with a few staple & iconic pieces. Pack simple pieces that transition from day to night, work well with other pieces you’re bringing or can be layered.
  4. Eliminate duplicates. If you’re staying in hotel, there’s a 99% chance you won’t need to pack your hair dryer (even though it pains me to leave my Drybar babe). Staying with your bestie for the weekend? She probably has a straightener/ curling iron and most of your shower essentials.
  5. Wear your largest pieces. If I’m packing my favorite wedges for the weekend, I’ll wear them to travel in. Winter coat? Carry it on with you. It could get chilly on the plane & if not, you can always stow in the overhead compartment. Taking your largest pieces out of your bag saves so much space for other necessities.
  6. Roll whatever clothing you can. I always roll my jeans, pajamas, cotton dresses anything that won’t wrinkle too badly, I find this to be a major space saver.
  7. Combine handbags. When carrying on a rolling bag, you’re still allotted one personal item. In this scenario, I usually pack a smaller purse and carry on a tote wth my purse inside + my book, iPad. For example, this past weekend, I took this tote as my “purse” but packed two smaller clutches for nights out.
  8. An extra bag. If I’m worried about purchases I’ll be making or know I may have a fuller bag on my return trip, I’ll pack a bag like this Lilly Pulitzer one. Folds completely flat & fits in those skinny front pockets. You can always pull that out, throw in your purse and a few other items and count it as your person item.
  9. Check the weather. Takes two seconds on your phone to know what Mother Nature will be up to at your destination. If you’re heading to a tropical beach vacation, you probably don’t need to pack more than one sweater or sweatshirt.
  10. Keep your toiletries bag packed & ready to go. If you’re carrying on, you know you have to keep your liquids small. I keep a toiletries bag ready & stocked to avoid any late runs to the CVS travel section. That way I never need to worry about what I have & can throw it in my bag the night before.

Hope this helps next time you find yourself packing up for a getaway!

Cheers

My Seven Handbag Essentials

Today I’m sharing a few of the little staples I keep tucked away in my day to day handbag. While a girl can’t be caught without a hair tie, bobby pins or ear buds, these select few items are also in my bag at (almost) all times.

  1. Two different shades of lipstick. I always travel with at least one coral-ish color that could work with either pink or red as well as one darker, more fall-like color. Currently, these are my favorites: coral & nude.
  2. Neutogena makeup remover wipes.  If you carry lipstick in your bag, especially one that’s a bright color or stain, you should definitely carry these…. just in case.
  3. RXBAR. Whether I’m catching a quick train to a client meeting or need a little snack to get me over my afternoon haze, I love having my Blueberry RXBAR at hand. The consistency is thicker too, so I never worry about having it get broken up in my bag.
  4. Oil blotting sheets. You never know when you’ll need to get rid of a little shine. These are a few of my favorites. This one, this one & this one.
  5. PartySmart Pill. Some say these don’t work at all but I have used them for the past year & my morning-after nausea is always lessened when I take this little guy. All herbal so if nothing else, a vitamin.
  6. Emergen- C. You never know when you’ll start to feel sick & I swear by these when I’m flying.
  7. L’Occitane Hand Lotion. Nine times out of ten, I leave my apartment without lotioning my legs. I love keeping this near for dry hands or legs. I love it because it won’t leave you greasy & isn’t over scented.

What are you guys up to for the weekend? In two weeks, I have a three week span of weddings so I have some preparation for that. Bridesmaids dress alterations, gift shopping, etc.

Cheers

Chicago Bachelorette

Last weekend was one of my very best friend’s bachelorette in Chicago. Planning a bachelorette in Chicago is similar to planning a bachelorette in NYC, there are SO many good places to go with such little time. Here are a few places we popped into this past weekend…

Friday

We stayed right on Michigan Ave so we popped into Eataly for a quick lunch & did a little shopping. We of course could visit Chicago without getting the bride some deep dish at Giordano’s before heading over to Second City to start off the night with a few laughs. I highly recommend almost any show at Second City, they have trained some of the most highly regarded comics. Later that night, we sang our hearts out at Howl at the Moon and shimmied down to Three Dots & A Dash to end the night.

Saturday

Kicked off the morning at Summer House which is a bright instagrammable little spot with incredible brunch. After, we took a nice walk to the beach & caught some sun on what may have been the most perfect beach day. Since we knew we’d have a late dinner, we grabbed some small bites at Pierrot Gourmet and sips at 3 Arts Cafe (inside Restoration Hardware) before heading to Polish & Pour for manis & prosecco! We played some hilarious games as we got ready for dinner at Girl & The Goat– which was absolutely delicious. The escargot ravioli was my favorite. Perhaps the highlight of the entire weekend was dancing the night away at Celeste’s Disco.

Sunday

After groggily waking up just hours after we had fallen into bed, we walked down to Beatrix for some nourishment. Everything from the lemon pancakes to the chilaquiles are delicious and sure to kick any hangover.

So hard to squeeze in all my Chicago favs in one weekend, I’m looking forward to another trip this fall!

Cheers,

Viñales Itinerary

My excursion to Viñales was one for the books. Viñales was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is almost completely undisturbed beyond the city limits. Knowing there were so many activities we wanted to accomplish, we booked a private tour with Discover Viñales Tour Company. We were picked up by our driver early in the morning in Havana and departed for our two hour drive. Once in Viñales, we picked up our guide, Yaniel and headed toward the Indian Caves. We walked through the caves to the boat that guided us through the remaining cave. 

After the caves, we headed toward a tobacco field, sorting house and paid a visit to Rene, an expert tobacco farmers who’s been rolling organic cigars for over 50 years!

After the tobacco field tour, we had lunch at an organic farm overlooking the most picturesque valley. The meal was the freshest meal I’ve ever had, as we walked up the to the restaurant, we saw farmers pulling fresh vegetables from the ground. Talk about farm to table.

the view wasn’t too bad either

After lunch we visited the prehistoric mural and rode horses through the Silent Valley. 

I can’t recommend visiting Viñales enough and booking a tour with Yaniel through Discover Vinales. This city is the most undisturbed, beautiful area I’ve ever seen.

Cheers,

Havana Itinerary

Friday

Arrive in Havana midday and take a cab to your Casa Particular in Miramar- a neighborhood of Havana. The airport is approximately 30 mins away from Havana so it’s a great way to see some of the rural landscape as you head into the city.

After getting checked in, waste no time and head into Old Havana. Most casa’s have access to call a cab for you but I highly recommend taking a taxi collectivo. It’s the Cuban version of Uber, except you flag a car down on the street and you pay a small fee to get wherever you’re going. Cubans use this method of transportation as the buses are over crowded and many drivers only charge 2-4 CUCs depending how far you’re going.

Every night, my recommendation is the same…dinner & dancing. Head to StarBien Restaurante for dinner. 

Saturday

Wake up early and head to Hotel Inglaterra, where you meet your tour guide, Saúl, for a day tour of Havana. This tour was an incredible way to get our bearings around Havana and cross off some of learning some of the history. I highly recommend booking through Locally Sourced Havana Tours and asking for Saúl. The morning consists of a walking tour through Havana, a full lunch and a classic car tour which all wrap up at Hotel Nacional for drinks around 4 or 5pm.

Grab dinner at El Cocinero and head next door to Fabrica de Arte to dance the night away.

Sunday

Wake up and have a leisurely breakfast, head to Santa Maria del mar. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Havana but the beach is absolutely incredible. Locals boast that the water is five distinctly different shades of blue and they were certainly right. Spend the day at the beach and head back to Havana to get ready for dinner at Paladar Atelier. 

Monday

On this specific trip, we checked out of our Airbnb this day and stayed our last few days at the Melia Cohiba. The hotel was nice but definitely not a “must.” We spent the early afternoon at the pool and spent the early evening grabbing drinks before dinner at La Guarida.

After dinner, walk along the Malecón where many locals hang out at night. The Malecón is a roadway and seawall along the coast, which is a great spot to get some relief from the heat.

Tuesday

Day trip to Viñales… coming tomorrow! Stop back to read more.

Wednesday

Spend the morning roaming around Old Havana and pick up any last minute cigars you want to bring back home, grab a street churro for one last sweet taste of Cuba and head to the airport.

Sips

La Floridita– bright pink right at the top of Ospibo St (Bishop St). A bit touristy but the location boasts it’s most famous guest Ernest Hemingway.

La Bodeguita Del Medio- definitely touristy but this is where the mojito was created. There is always a crowd but great live music. Perfect to catch a mid day cocktail while you explore the streets of Havana

Hotel Saratoga rooftop – poolside drinks with a great view of the city. Perfect for a relaxing night.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba– this infamous hotel is great for a drink out on the veranda. Easily the best mojitos in Havana and a great spot to put up your feet and enjoy a cuban cigar

Dancing

King Bar– lots of dancing and live music, very much a club atmosphere but a lot of fun

Fabrica de Arte– probably my favorite evening out in Havana. Fabrica de Arte is an incredibly restored warehouse that is a night club combined with an art museum. Plan to spend all night here as between the art, live music and incredible DJ’s, you won’t want to leave. The line is incredibly long and starts to form early but if you’re dying to get in, you can sweet talk the bouncers for a few CUCs.

Casa de musica- live music and two shows a night, go early to avoid the line

Eats

El Cocinero- directly next door to Fabrica de Arte, this nondescript restaurant has amazing rooftop dining. Definitely ask to be seated on the roof

La Guarida– this “hideaway” paladar is one of the most unique places to dine in all of Havana. The restaurant sits inside what appears to be a run down building but once inside, you’ll see all the charm La Guarida has to offer. Asked to be seated on the roof and make sure to go up to the highest point for an incredible 360 degree view of Havana

Paladar Atelier – this paladar is one the most highly rated restaurants in all of Havana. The food options may seem a little odd on the menu but friends agreed it was one of the best meals of their life. I had to agree.

StarBien Restaurante- a quieter paladar in a residential area in a beautifully restored home. Asked to be seated outside and enjoy the Italian/ Cuban fusion.

*make all dinner reservations prior to arriving in Cuba, check out more tips from yesterday’s post

Overall, there are so many places to “get lost” in while visiting Cuba. The people are so friendly so if you need help or are looking for a recommendation, just ask! There were so many no-name places we stopped into to grab a drink which were all fantastic.

Feel free to reach out with any questions. If you’ve traveled to Cuba before, is there anything I’ve missed?

Cheers,