Hello 2018: My Daydreams & Travel Goals

Happy New Year everyone! We all get another chance to reflect on the past, plan for the future, and make room for new goals. In 2017 I tried to do a trip-a-month, but this year’s travel goals will be quite different. New year new you right? (See if I accomplished last year’s goals here…I also share my reflections and highlights of 2017 travels). And now without further ado here are my travel goals for 2018:

Travel Less

Wait what? Isn’t this a travel blog and your first travel goal of the year is to not travel? Yes; lately I’ve been feeling a need to slow down from last year’s fast pace (most months we went out of town at least once but some months multiple times)…at least my bank account does. I’m hoping to save a decent chunk of money this year for something really special in 2019. It doesn’t mean I won’t be traveling though. See my next 2 goals! However, I do hope to budget more successfully, get into a routine of tracking my spending on a spreadsheet, and save some moolah!

Go on my First Solo Trip

I did live in London for 2 months basically on my own in 2014, but I had 3 girls from my college in the same building and visitors for about half my time there. I don’t really classify it as a solo trip even though I did lots of exploring on my own. I’m overdue to have my first official solo female travel experience. I think it would teach me a lot, and it’s something I don’t want to wait much longer to make happen. My dream locations are Israel and Copenhagen. Japan has also recently become a top contender for a girls trip if solo travel doesn’t end up happening, so we’ll see what 2018 brings my way.

Travel to Out-of-town Weddings

We have 4 weddings to attend in 2018 between Chicago, Maryland, Mexico, and San Diego. A lot of our time off work will be used for these occasions and I AM SO EXCITED!

Explore more of beautiful San Diego

We are so lucky to live in southern California, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of its awesomeness. I’m hoping that slowing down our travels will leave us with more time to explore the ins and outs here in San Diego. I’ve been dying to check out more breweries, restaurants, cafes, and bars to get a better feel for all the neighborhoods. We’ve hit a majority of the touristy spots by now so we can focus more on local gems this year. I also want to take advantage of the amazing weather and spend lots of time outdoors!

What changes do you hope to make in 2018? Where are you daydreaming about visiting?

My 2 Year Blogiversary!

I’ve officially been blogging for 2 years! My how time flies. I did a recap last year after 1 year of blogging  and thought I’d continue the tradition. It’s a great way for me to take stock of what I accomplished over the year and to set some new goals.

First off I thought it’d be interesting to see which of my posts were the most popular, and I’m not surprised to say that both of the ones I wrote via interviewing my husband did the best. People prefer hearing from him more than me on my own blog! hahaha 🙂 That’s ok though: this blog always has been and always will be for me even if no one else looks at it, but I really do appreciate all of you who stop by to read every week.

That being said here are the links to his posts in case you missed them or want to revisit:

Ollie O’Loughlin’s Guide to Airport Beers

A Nightmare in Paradise: Ollie Remembers Fiji

The post written exclusively by me that’s done the best was the outfit guide I wrote for the Great Barrier Reef. Turns out that sort of practical information gets a decent amount of traffic, and I hope it helped a few people out there plan for that bucket list paradise!

As far as what I accomplished this year, once again I initially thought it wasn’t much. But between having a full time job with a 2 hour daily commute and traveling as much as we do, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made this year. For starters, I bought a travel blogging course that’s given me a lot of technical advice for running a blog. Through that course, I learned how to purchase my domain name (no more .wordpress.com in my website link), set up the correct security and backup features I need, and get everything switched over to a self-hosted platform. It was a bit of a pain to do since I have no IT background, but I’m so happy I figured it all out… I may have paid to have people figure it out for me when I got stuck 😉 but that still counts!

Secondly, it was really important to me to post more consistently here and on Instagram this year, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. I’ve managed to get a new blog or YouTube video up almost every Monday, and I post on Instagram every Mon, Wed, and Fri. Through the blogging course, I also realized that I wanted to work harder to improve my writing and tell better stories, so I’ve been trying really hard to do so and to come up with catchier titles for my posts.

Trying to post more consistently, trying to tell better stories, and trying to improve my photography skills to portray moments and feelings that may inspire others has been the most welcome challenge. As lame as it sounds, having this space to express myself has had such a positive impact on my overall wellness. I’m proud that I’ve continued to push myself creatively and can’t wait to see what I’m inspired by in the year to come.

This next year, I would like to focus more on the look of my blog. I need to get a better design that makes more sense to me, feels more like me, and is easier to browse. I also REALLY want to have a logo designed. (Any graphic designers out there?) Another thing I want to improve on is my Pinterest presence. I feel like that platform is a great place to browse for travel inspo and could be a prime way to get viewers to my site. I have a couple references for how to do so, I just need to take the time to read and give it a try.

That’s all I wanted to document about 2 years of blogging 🙂 I am curious to know if there’s anything in particular you’d be interested in seeing more of here? Don’t hesitate to let me know. One of my favorite posts was an idea my cousin sparked, so I’m open to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks again to Emily Alyssa Photography for the candid capture of me being mesmerized by the ocean as per usual. hehe 🙂

Happy daydreaming friends!

 

 

Rosé and Summer Memories

Have you ever had an alcoholic beverage be so strongly linked to a memory of a time or a place? Maybe don’t answer that… haha. One example I can remember is sipping Pimms in London–oh happy days. So when this summer rolled around, I decided that I wanted to have a dedicated drink of the season, and I chose rosé. Here is my little photo diary in honor of summer 2017 and also a run down of how much of my summer bucket list I accomplished.

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Kicking off rosé season in San Francisco
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Rosé overlooking Millennium Park in Chicago
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Rosé while the crew cooked dinner
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Beach rosé…total relaxation mode
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Romantic dinner at Bluewater Grill on Catalina Island

As far as my summer bucket list goes, I managed to accomplish about 50% of it. We did attend the dog surfing competition–so cute and so fun–as well as going to the Del Mar Horse Races, hanging at the beach a fair bit, seeing 2 Padres games, hiking somewhere new, and going stand up paddle boarding! We failed to party at a rooftop bar, attend KAABOO (it hasn’t happened yet but I don’t think we’ll go), or sail around the bay on a catamaran (but we did that last summer). I’m definitely happy with what we accomplished and can’t wait for more adventures.

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That dog is a celebrity riding into shore. Imperial Beach, CA
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As much beach time as possible. Encinitas, CA
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Petco Park is THEE best
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Hiking Los Penasquitos Canyon!
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I swear I stood up and paddled on that. Mission Bay, CA

Heading into fall, things are looking quite busy. We just wrapped up a mountain escape weekend (is Labor Day considered summer or fall?). Then we have a trip to two cities on the east coast (one brand new for both of us and one a repeat favorite), a trip to Miami, hopefully a new hike or two, and maybe our first camping trip. I also have a girls weekend in LA very soon, so fall is shaping up to be travel-filled and fun!

 

Practical Ways to Quickly Restore Equilibrium Post Travel

Travel is exhilarating and exciting, but for most of us, even a short trip can greatly put us off balance. It has sometimes taken me more time than how long the actual trip lasted to get back on track with my normal life routine. Do you know that feeling? You were gone for 4 days and then it takes you two weeks to return to how you felt before you left, whether that be in regards to weight, energy, skin, etc. I’ve been doing a lot of shorter trips lately since I have a full time job, and through my own experience I have narrowed down my go-to essentials to help me cleanse post-travel and more quickly return to “real life” equilibrium.

  1. Body: I use Nature’s Secret fiber cleanse and, along with lots of water, this combo helps to detox my stomach and get me back to my pre-trip weight.
  2. Skin: I use Mojo Spa’s Ultimate Detox Deep Cleansing Facial Powder. It’s basically a charcoal scrub that cleans away all my travel grime and leaves my skin feeling super soft.
  3. Mind: Doing a couple sessions of yoga always helps me mentally reset and boosts energy as well.

Bonus worth trying but I’ve only done it once: a juice cleanse… because I felt the fiber cleanse wouldn’t be hardcore enough to handle the job at hand. I had just returned from a long weekend in Austin, Texas. I over indulged as one does while traveling and consumed brisket at least once a day. It was heavenly to the point where I almost cried actual tears while eating because it was THAT GOOD. At the same time, I could feel my arteries clogging, and when I got back from that trip I felt like a steaming pile of poop. I wanted to try something a bit more extreme than my typical fiber cleanse. I opted for the 3 day juice cleanse from Jus by Julie. It was expensive but the juices were delicious. I will admit that I felt pretty darn good afterwards, but I’m not sure if I would do it again purely due to cost. If it’s something you’re thinking about trying and can afford it, I would say it’s definitely cool to try and will make you feel better.

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What are your post-travel cleanse essentials??

What to Wear When Visiting the Great Barrier Reef

Here’s what I packed for 4 days/3 nights in Port Douglas, which is quite warm pretty much all year round:

3 bathing suits…our hotel had about FIVE ACRES of pool, so I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in a bikini. You can definitely get away with only packing one, though! The brands pictured are SeaFolly, Triangl, and Urban Outfitters.

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One cute, summery dress for dinners out…this dress is by Mumu.

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I only wore 3 of these shirts. I wore the black, striped one from Old Navy with a denim skirt for wandering around town. I wore the flowy, white one from Free People with denim shorts when we went on the scenic helicopter flight. I wore the white graphic tank from Urban Outfitters with my high-waisted SeaFolly shorts on our final day when we walked on the beach for one last time and flew back to Brisbane. Last but not least I wore the black, low back cover up dress from Roxy over my bathing suit when we went snorkeling on the GBR.

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Here are the bottoms mentioned above: from SeaFolly, Zara, and H&M. I could have gotten away with packing way less since they are all denim and look similar. But I wasn’t backpacking, so I didn’t have to worry about packing light 😉

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For shoes I had my leather Steve Madden sandals and black Reef flip flops, both of which go with basically anything. The Steve Madden ones made me feel a little more dressed up. I only wore my Birkenstocks once on the first day, so I definitely would have been fine not bringing them. We didn’t end up doing any long walks or hiking, so if you have something like that planned, bring better walking shoes. (I own two completely different pairs of Tevas that would have worked.)

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Don’t forget to accessorize and pack your favorite sunglasses, you’ll definitely need them! Another thing you can’t go without is sunscreen–and lot’s of it.

If you want to see what I got up to in Port Douglas, check out my vlog here!

To read our day-by-day itinerary click here.

You can see my review of the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas here if you’re trying to decide where to stay 😉

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Ollie O’Loughlin’s Guide to Airport Beers

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For this post I interviewed my hubby, who is Australian and therefore has traveled a hell of a lot more than I have. Over the years, he has basically perfected the art of drinking in airports around the world and considers himself “the man, the myth, the legend of airport beers”. I wanted to share this very important information on the blog and give some tips and insight to help you improve upon your own airport drinking skills.

Allison: Welcome to the Daydreamer Next Door–excited to have you here today! For starters, can you run us through a situation that comes to mind when you hear the words airport beers?

Ollie: When it comes to airport drinking there are several thousand stories I can tell and most of them would be some of the best stories I could ever tell, but lets keep it simple for now. There’s almost a beauty to it, and when I say beauty I don’t glorify alcohol abuse or drinking alone unless you’ve had a hard day at work and you’re sharing a glass of wine with your pet cat, but the sense of adventure could make a sober person want to have at least one beer before their trip into the unknown. So once you check your bags and you clear security and you’ve passed the bomb test which you’re holding your breathe you don’t get, even a sane man feels a little thirsty. You scour the airport like a rat looking for the next best piece of cheese, and then all of the sudden you find a bar where there’s a seat, television screen, and a bunch of people who look like they could offer good chat. You order your first beer–you’ve got your hometown favorite, take one of those. While your passport is on the bar the person next to you says, “where are you heading?” You reply with great excitement telling them your destination, and before you know it you’re in a great conversation, and that’s even before you leave. Fast forward… you’re cheers-ing and walking toward your gate. You have a few on the plane, and then you reach your dreaded lay over which no one wants to have. After about 8 hours of sleep, which on a plane feels like 1, you feel like a busted asshole. So the first thought that comes to mind is how can I cure the thirst that feels like an unfillable well? You walk the foreign terminal lands like Napoleon discovering the north pole. You finally deem a bar worthy of your 2 hour layover. You look at the draft beer, the taps behind the bartenders. Some of them you’ve seen, some of them you have not. You decide “what the hell,” and you dive into a beer you’ve never even heard the name of. One sip in, the bartender asks you if you like it? You reply yes with all the politeness your mother taught you from a young age. Your passport on the bar now carries a lot more weight than it did back home. Before you know it, you’re talking to several people from several different countries all because they can identity the Australian cross. There have been times I’ve had a full blown conversation with someone form a nation I do not even know of or the language they were speaking… but we bonded over one thing at the bar and that was a sure nod at the scoring of a soccer goal. This and a whole world of possibilities opens up when you participate in airport drinking. I can’t wait for my next airport beer!

Allison: What would you say are the top 3 benefits of airport beers?

Ollie: Meeting new friends, being more relaxed on a flight (flying is scary and very uncomfortable especially for a large man), and some of the airport bars I’ve been to are better than normal bars and usually do good food too.

Allison: How do you know what area to settle down in?

Ollie: Me personally I always look for a place with a lot of screens because there’s almost always sport on. And a place with a lot of taps because you know they have a variety of beers. I prefer a more open space versus a tiny bar. Being closer to your gate is also ideal–catching a tram 3 terminals away means more time between your last beer at the bar and the next beer on the flight.

Allison: With all this liquid, how do you time your last bathroom break?

Ollie: The best time is right after closing out your tab but before boarding. You know once you hop on a flight it’s about an hour or more until the seat belt sign turns off.

Allison: What’s the number one tip you can offer?

Ollie: Rule number one is never let anyone know how many beers you’ve had. You need to be let on the flight and also allowed more alcohol in the air.

Allison: Do you ever have cocktails or is it just beers?

Ollie: I personally only have beers purely because if you spend a couple grand on a plane ticket the extra $3 for a cocktail doesn’t seem worth it until you get to your destination.

Allison: What time is it acceptable to start drinking?

Ollie: As soon as the bar opens which is usually 6 am. It’s the one place in the world where it’s acceptable to drink beers at 6 am.

Allison: What are your favorite airport bars around the world?

Ollie: My top three are the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney, Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore, and Stone Brewery in San Diego. I really like Indianapolis Airport because they have a sick Lids store, it’s never busy, and the people are nice. Drinking Guinness in Dublin Airport was also fun while watching Air Lingus planes take off.

Allison: Thank you for joining us and walking us through how to make the most of an airport drinking session!
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Reflecting on Time With Jord Watches: My 1 Year Blogiversary

Quite often as I’m scrolling through the blogs I follow, I come across their anniversary posts. Reflections on the past year of their blogs-two, three, and even more years having passed since they first started. Then it dawned on me that I too have a blog and realized that it’s already turning a year old. So I’ve decided to join in on the tradition of posting a “blogiversary” post each year.

My blog all started a year ago when I decided I needed a creative outlet. I had recently moved to the west coast and started my big girl job in pharmacy, which is obviously highly scientific and structured. Then football season came around and I realized every Sunday for the NFL season (and even most Saturdays for college football) would have to be spent at home so Ollie could watch all the games. This gave me more free time and left me a little bored considering I don’t care to watch every single game if the Bears or Dolphins aren’t on. I spent more time reading, daydreaming about travel, and remembering the previous trips I’ve taken. I had an urge to write about it all, so I got on WordPress and started, without knowing how blogs work or what direction I was heading.

When I first considered writing a blogiversary post, I was hesitant. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much or anything worth writing about. Some blogs and instagrams have thousands upon thousands of followers by the time they turn one. That definitely wasn’t the case for me; however, as I thought about it more, I realized I had accomplished a lot and that this first year was worth documenting and remembering even just for my sake-which is why I started my blog, for me and only me. If people want to follow along then that’s just a very welcome bonus.

So here are some things I’m proud of and some journeys I’ve been on this year:

  • I’ve stayed with it and still feel inspired every day
  • I put a lot of thought into my vision and target audience to try and post more consistent content
  • I renamed my blog to “The Daydreamer Next Door”
  • I reached out to a graphic designer to collaborate on a logo in the future
  • I started an Instagram page specifically related to my blog and to highlight travel
  • I invested in a nice camera to post high quality photos
  • I started playing around with making videos of my travels using said camera
  • I started reaching out to tourism boards for potential collaborations-no bites yet but good practice!
  • I took a promotion at work so I now have weekends off and more vacation time (making things happen with 1 week paid vacation and working every 2nd weekend was very challenging)

Last but not least, I started collaborating with Jord Watches which has been so fun and wouldn’t have been possible without my blog and social platforms. I’m so excited to be able to offer my readers a chance to win $75 off a gorgeous women’s watch or men’s watch. The contest goes until September 25 and just by entering you are guaranteed a $20 off voucher (all vouchers must be used by 1/31/17). I choose to get Frankie which is made with natural zebra wood and has a navy face-the perfect shade for me considering I so often find myself on the beach chilling by the ocean. It’s a unique watch-simple and neutral all while making a statement with the large face and pop of blue. It’s also been a cool watch to take on my travels because it matches so much of my wardrobe and quickly makes me feel more put together and accessorized. Thank you Jord Watches for making me feel like a more fashionable adult and for helping me keep track of the time that passes by always too quickly. I can’t believe my blog is already a year old. Instead of receiving presents on its birthday, it’s offering them haha! Click the link below to enter my contest! Much love to those who read along. And hey it’s football season again which means more time to write 😉

https://www.woodwatches.com/g/thedaydreamernextdoor

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This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches, but my opinions will always be my own.

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