Iceland has been the ultimate hot spot the last few years with tourism up by 40% from 2015 to 2016. I’ve dreamt about visiting a destination where I might have the opportunity of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights for as long as I can remember. Literally on a whim, I found myself booking a trip to Reykjavik for the beginning of February 2017. What lead me to taking the plunge was finding a really awesome deal with WOW Airlines. Here’s a glimpse at where we stayed, what we did and some of my recommendations for while visiting.

While I love hotels because of the amenities, there’s nothing like a rental property when away – especially now that I travel with my toddler. I found the perfect rental in Reykjavik via VRBO.com and booked instantly. This apt had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 separate living room areas, washer/dryer, full kitchen + dining room and had enough space for us (a group of 5 adults/1 child) and for Victor to run around after a long day out in the city. The location was also perfect and that is KEY!

Click HERE to view our rental.

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Since we were visiting in the heart of the winter season, I decided to book tours vs. rent a car and go on our own. While I have heard great things about exploring on your own, I was little nervous about Iceland’s frequently changing weather while traveling with a 17 month old. We booked all of our tours and transfers through BusTravel Iceland. Click HERE to check out some of their top tours! They were so helpful in assisting me book everything as well as super accommodating that we were traveling with a child and even offered a car seat for each tour.

Day 1:

Blue Lagoon + Northern Lights Tour 

A lot of people will go on and on about how the Blue Lagoon is “touristy” and you know what – it is, but in the BEST way possible. While there are a ton of natural lagoons all over Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a must when visiting. I could have spent hours here! It was so beautiful, relaxing and exactly what we needed after that overnight flight and time change.

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Chasing the Northern Lights will always be a hit or miss but I was still super excited to do so. I’m so happy to say that we totally lucked out and were able to see them during our tour even though the activity wasn’t super strong.

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Day 2:

Golden Circle 

For Day 2, we went with the Afternoon Golden Circle Tour. This worked out perfectly because it allowed us to get a good nights rest since we weren’t picked up until about 10am. With this tour we were able to visit and explore the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, Þingvellir National Park and Kerið volcanic crater. All of these locations were simply breathtaking! It started to snow these huge flakes while we were at Kerið for about 5 minutes and then a beautiful rainbow came out and it was sunny. This was the perfect example of the Icelandic saying “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.”

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Day 3:

Southern Iceland

This was our last full day in Iceland and we spent it exploring Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier and Black Sand Beach. The Southern part of Iceland was amazing and I feel like it is a must see when visiting. I look forward to spending more time there when I return.

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Our flight home the following day wasn’t until the late afternoon so we spent the morning walking around Reykjavik and checking out a few landmarks. We came across some really awesome shops, cafes, street art and hot dog carts (which are super popular in Iceland!)

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A few tips I would give anyone planning a visit to Iceland would be the following:

Book early! Because of the booming tourism, hotels + apartment rentals sell out quickly.

Plan ahead! Regardless if you plan to explore on your own or book tours, there’s nothing like being prepared before arriving and having a list of what you want to do and see. This is key if you have a short visit.

It’s all about the layers! Seriously, I was so surprised how not cold Iceland was. OK… I take that back. The night we chased the Northern Lights it was FREEZING but during the day, I was actually hot in my down coat. The weather is unpredictable so make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out there and remember to pack layers (long sleeves, leggings, snow pants etc.) These items will be easy to put on + take off  depending on how the weather turns out.

Budget wisely! I always try to save a little more than what I originally budget for spending money while away  because… well, you just never know. Iceland is expensive!! I’m talking like $20 for a burger and $15 for a mixed drink expensive. And gas…. it’s $7.50 a gallon!

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To say that I am in love with Iceland would be an understatement. Visually – it is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. The people were so friendly and helpful and I felt safe the entire time. Waterfalls are everywhere and the scenery will leave you breathless. I plan to visit again…. and hopefully soon.

If you have any questions about Iceland – don’t hesitate to reach out!

I’m no Fashionista, but I love Fashion…. and more than that, I love Paris. Before my first trip back in 2015 I was so worried when packing for my visit. I didn’t want to look like a typical tourist but I wanted to stay true to my sense of style. Luckily for me – Parisian style isn’t much different than my own. Here are a few style tips to keep in mind for your trip to the City of Light + Love.

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PC: @pearls_and_paris

  1. Keep it simple – simplicity, versatility and practicality are key to true Parisian style. Do not over accessorize.
  2. Flats are KEY – I think movies have jaded us to think that all Parisian women walk around in 5 inch stilettos everywhere and that is so far from the truth. Flats are key… especially for tourists. Paris has a lot of cobblestone and on top of that, most people walk A LOT during the day. Can you imagine doing that in heels? My last 2 trips I easily walked at least 10 miles EACH day.
  3. Blazers are a girls best friend – Putting on a blazer can instantly add a chic touch to any outfit. Everyone should have at least one classic blazer in their wardrobe and they are absolutely a staple for Parisian style. Throw on a pair of oxfords with it and you might pass off as a local 😉
  4. Relaxed Silhouettes – I noticed in my area (at least in NJ + NYC) form fitting clothes are what most women gravitate towards. Parisian style is slightly different. They appreciate flowy dresses and relaxed fit as well as tailored pieces vs. body con + overly baggy.
  5. All Black Everything! – Ok, maybe not everything lol Black + white hues are always trendy. I’m all about a pop of color from either your shoes or bag. Also think scarves! They are huge in Parisian style and can instantly add a pop of color and glam to your outfit.

Parisian style ultimately is about not being over or under dressed.

They are simply casual but at the same time elegant and carry a stylish confidence that is contagious. At the end of the day, staying true to your style is what is most important. If the tips above are ones you personally don’t prefer, go with your gut and wear what makes you feel beautiful and confident.

Beaucoup d’amour! xo  

I’m in a few awesome female travel groups on Facebook. Everyday I see posts that start off something like this “I want to travel full time, what job should I apply for?” In theory, how amazing does that sound? There’s a ton of ways to become a digital nomad but unfortunately, that doesn’t work for all of us. The average American has a full time, 9-5’ish, job/career that gives them 10 vacation days a year. YUP, that’s it.

I get asked pretty frequently how do I travel so much and that I must get a lot of vacation days at my job. WRONG! I too only have 10 vacation days a year. The difference is how I use them to my advantage to maximize my time away.

To all my NON digital nomads, here’s a few tips to help you make the most of your vacation days this year.

1. Go on short & extended weekend trips. – Yes, a 2 week vacation sounds luxurious but when you have ONLY 10 days per year, do you really want to use them all at once? Look into destinations that are only a few hours away, either by car or plane. You can leave Thursday night which will guarantee 2 full days at the destination of your choice before heading back home on Sunday. Planning this way will allow you to go away 10 times throughout the year, only taking 1 vacation day each trip. If you need a little more time, leave Wednesday night and that will give you 3 full days at the destination of your choice and a total of 5 trips for the year. If you live on the East Coast like me, that can mean a trip to Europe!

2. Plan around a holiday. – This goes hand in hand with the advice above. Planning a trip around a holiday weekend will help you extend that 2 or 3 day trip by a full day but without using a vacation day. For example, Memorial Day always falls on a Monday. Head out of town Wednesday evening and return Monday and you’ll have a nice little 4 night trip.

3. Take advantage of 2 weekends for a longer trip. – Some people just don’t like short trips and that is understandable. A good tip to have a longer vacation, while only using 5 of your vacation days, would be to plan a trip between two weekends. Catch a flight after work on Friday and return the following weekend on a Sunday. That sounds like a perfect 8 day / 7 night getaway to me! Plan this around a holiday weekend and you will only use 4 of your vacation days.

4. Ask for unpaid time off – Ok, so technically asking for this won’t literally maximize your accrued vacation days but rather extend whatever trip you want to take that you might not have enough vacation days for. I know for me this year, all of my vacation time will be used up by the first week of September and a little winter get away will absolutely be on my mind before Christmas time. What I can do is just get approval from my boss to take 2 days off, unpaid, and make a short weekend trip to the islands.

I think the main thing to remember is that if you genuinely love to travel, going somewhere for a few days is better than never getting to experience that place at all. So many of us tend to make bucket lists of things we want to do and see but then never execute those plans because we are so tied up with work. Last year a study came out that said over 50% of Americans don’t use all of their paid vacation time. The main reasons being fear of losing their job, falling behind while away or simply thinking that by not missing a day of work – it would lead to a promotion. I want to tell all of those people to RETHINK their lack of vacation. Taking time off can help your mental health, stress and overall productivity. 

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Iceland is completely magical! With only 3 nights in this city I wanted to make the most of my time and so for me, that meant booking tours that would bring me to everywhere on my MUST VISIT list. I did a lot of research and compared doing it on our own vs. tours and tour companies and ended up booking with BusTravel Iceland. They were reasonable priced, had a wide variety of tours to chose from and had great customer service. They also were very accommodating that we were traveling with a toddler and even provided a car seat for every tour and transfer we booked.

These are the top 5 tours that I highly recommend not missing on your trip to Iceland.

1. Blue Lagoon 1The Blue Lagoon spa is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland, its natural geothermal water is rich of minerals, excellent to rejuvenate your body and soul. There are a ton of add on services like spa amenities and in-water massages that you can include or you can just pick up a drink from the swim up bar and relax in the warm water. While you have to purchase your entrance ticket in advance from the Blue Lagoon website, you can book your transfer from BusTravel Iceland to be picked up right outside your hotel.

2. Northern Lights Tour

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Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights is a big reason why a lot of people venture out to Iceland but seeing them isn’t guaranteed. A guided Northern Lights tour is a great way to try to see them because your guide has so much experience chasing the lights that they know exactly where to go to maximize your chance of seeing them. They take you out of the hustle and bustle of the city and head into the quiet darkness of the countryside to enjoy the natural spectacle of the aurora borealis.

3. Golden Circle Tour 

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The Grand Golden Circle is a compact tour that takes you to a series of remarkable and diverse sites in the Southwest of Iceland. On this tour you will visit:

-Geysir geothermal area

-Gullfoss waterfall-

Þingvellir National Park

-Kerið volcanic crater

-Faxi waterfall

4. Southern Iceland Tour

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This tour takes you to various natural pearls along the enchanting south coast of Iceland. The landscape is characterized by strong contrasts, where grown plains meet coarse mountains and fire meets ice. On this tour you will visit:

-Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

-Skógafoss Waterfall

-Sólheimajökull Glacier

-Black Sand Beach

5. Fjords & Into the Glacier

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This tour will take your breath away at each stop! You get to explore the man-made ice caves dug into Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull. From Husafell, you hop on the special glacier vehicles and dive inside the surreal entrails of the Ice Cap Glacier. There, you will witness the effects of global warming as well as Iceland’s seismic history. On this tour you will visit:

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-Hraunfossar waterfall

-Husafell

-Langjökull glacier

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While these may be my top 5 tour recommendations, BusTravel Iceland offers many more tours including premium options that have a max of 15 people per tour which provides a more intimate experience, more flexibility, more free time and more spontaneous encounters than travelling in big groups. They also have special offers which bundles multiple tours to save you money.

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Another year, another 365 days to make the most of those work vacation days you will be accruing! If you are anything like me then you are constantly planning your next destination in your head. Before 2017 even rolled around I had 3 trips fully planned and booked for the first few months of the year but another 5 countries that I couldn’t stop talking about and researching and that is ultimately how I came up with my list of the Top 5 Destinations for 2017.

Even though I know I won’t be able to make it to these places this year, if you can – DO IT!

1. Cuba

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Now that travel restrictions for US residents have eased up – 2017 would be the perfect time to visit this beautiful island that is filled with clear blue water, white sand beaches and some of the most incredible (& vibrant) architecture. Cuba is a melting pop of cultures and anyone who I know that has visit speaks highly about how warm and welcoming they are to visitors. With round trip flights from Fort Lauderdale for $115, there’s no wonder why tourism is set to be at an all time high this year.

2. Egypt

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I’m sure some of you are like whatttt, Egypt? The Middle East?! nooo

YES! Egypt and FYI, it’s located in Africa. As an American, it’s so typical for us to feed into the media and where they think you should avoid. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings while traveling – that’s a must for anywhere in the world. It is so affordable to go to Egypt right now and you can even go with a tour group for 1/4th of the price of what it was 10 years ago. When visiting you can check out tons of ancient history, vast deserts and world-famous coral reef sites.

3. South Africa (Cape Town)

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Perfect weather, mountains, clear blue water and tons of tranquil gardens is one of the main reasons why so many people flock here from all over the world. If you’re adventurous, add shark cage diving to your must do list when visiting and do not forget about a safari tour.

4. Thailand

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Thailand has been a popular destination for a long time, especially for budget travelers. Lush jungles, picture perfect beaches and cheap but delicious food are some of the top reasons why people visit. Ok, so you’re probably wondering how cheap Thailand actually is, right? Well for starters you can find a round trip ticket from the NYC area to Bangkok for about $600. Food from street vendors is said to cost about $1 and while you can absolutely chose to stay in a luxury resort – you can also stay in a beach front bungalow for as low as $20 per night.

5. Portugal

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 Portugal is my top European country to visit by 2018. It’s currently one of the safest countries in the world (says the WEF) so that is a little bit of a relief to hear when traveling abroad with the kiddies. It is rich in history and culture, has beautiful landscapes and incredible beach towns. They also say some of the best wine comes from Portugal so…. CHEERS to that!

Where are you traveling to in 2017?