Goals for 2019!

Is it just me or is every year going by faster and faster? I cannot believe that it is already 2019!! The best part about it thought that there are 365 days and 365 chances to do what you love and what makes you happy. I always try to set some kind of goals for the year ahead and usually a lot of those have to do with travel.

So here we are again, 2019 is upon us and below are some of my goals for the year. Hopefully they inspire you to create some of your own as well.

2019 Goals

Professional Goals

More IG Stories – I said this before and I will say it again, I suck at doing stories. I love looking at others and engaging with other people on their stories, but somehow can not get my self to post more. So, this year I am going to try to set a goal of at least doing one story a week, to get in the habit of it and then picking it up more often as the weeks go by.

Revamp my website – I want to take this year to focus more on my blog and make it look more professional. I am looking to add more sections to it, make it look cleaner, and update it more often.

Travel Goals

Explore more of Chicago – now that I have been living here a few months, I really want to venture out more and see more of the city.

One out of country trip – this is already planned so I am already making progress on this goal but maybe I can add another to the list :). I will be making my first trip of 2019 to Mexico for my birthday and cannot wait to share the experience with you guys.

One in country trip – this will also be ticked off because of two bachelorette parties, but I am hoping to take another one for leisure as well. On the top of my list are: Nantucket, somewhere in Oregon, New Orleans, and Disney (I still have never been).

One solo trip – I have always wanted to do a solo trip. It is something that is out of my comfort zone, so I am really hoping to accomplish this one this year.

Personal Goals

Exercise more and eat healthier – I feel like this is always everyone’s new years resolution/goal, but I have let my fitness down a bit in the past year. I am just trying to come back up to speed and do some form of exercise at least once a week and eat better in order to make my body feel and look better.

Take better care of my skin – now this is not to say that I do not take good care of my skin, but I want to put more effort into my skin and body routine. There are times when I get lazy and decide that other things are more important than taking care of myself.

Make more time for myself – to add on to skin routine, I want to also make more time for myself. I am always on the go and overbook myself with plans most of the time, so I just want to take more me time and plan less. This year is a lot about taking more time for myself and concentrating on me vs other people all the time.

Miscellaneous Goals

Finish a series of a show – for anyone that personally knows me, they know that I have show problem. I have this tendency to watch a million shows at one time, which then makes me behind on everything and I can’t ever catch up/finish a show. So, I am hoping to at least finish one series this year which sounds easy, but for me it might take a whole year haha.

Read at least 3 books this year – I love buying books and bookstores in general, but when it actually comes to reading those, I definitely slack in that department. I am definitely better than I was before, but I am hoping to at least read three books this year and spend more time reading vs being on my phone/computer.

Those are just a few things I am hoping to work on and concentrate on this year. I will do a middle of the year review to update you guys about where I am at and to also make sure I keep myself accountable.

Let me know your thoughts? Do you have similar goals as well? How do you go about sticking to them and make sure to actually accomplish your goals?


Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

A Look Back on 2018

I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. I can honestly say that this was one of my favorite years for travel. I got to go to some pretty cool places and hit off some items off of my bucket list.

I have highlighted my trips for this year below and some of my favorite parts about them.


Travel Highlights of 2018

January:

Tulum, Mexico – this was probably my favorite place I visited this year and one of my faves overall. I cannot begin to describe the feel of this place because it is incredible. There is so much to do and every place is unique and gives you major gypsy vibes. The beach is beautiful and the food gets better at every place you eat.

Recommendation: make sure to check out Casa Malca which used to be Pablo Escobar’s house.

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Euro Trip: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia is a new country filled with beautiful sights and lots to do. I may be more biased when talking about it because I do have family that lives here. For those of you that do not know; I was born in Croatia, but most of my family lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But nevertheless it is a country filled with rich history and some amazing destinations. I wanted  to share some that are near and dear to my heart, so if you ever find your self in these places you have some insight on them.


Prijedor

Prijedor – I was just recently in this city celebrating my grandpas 80th birthday. It is where my dad grew up and that whole side of the family resides. This city is getting renovated more and more each year and you can find more and more to do every time you visit. Although, it is not a vast tourist destination, the summer is filled with locals and tourists from surrounding areas, so if you are looking for a little more of an outgoing experience, that would be the best time to go. 

There is a beautiful river called Sana that you can swim in, in the summer and spend all day soaking up the sun. Or put on your walking shoes and head downtown for some shopping, coffee and delicious eats. At night, make sure to hit up the many cafes and clubs that are around town.

Also make sure to visit Kozara National Park. This is probably one of my favorite parts about being in Prijedor and all though it is about a 30 minute drive or so, it is absolutely stunning. I have been in the summer and the fall and I cannot begin to explain how beautiful it is. In the summer it is filled with lush green forest and stunning views. In the fall, the leaves start falling and changing colors and it is just breathtaking. If you go during the winter then you can find yourself in a winter wonderland, accompanied by skiing and snowboarding. There is also a hotel that you can stay at, just make sure you book in advance in the winter because it gets crowded due to the snow sports.

Another great day trip or weekend trip is to go see Banja Luka (about 45 mins out), which is a bigger city filled with a lot more to do. You can spend the day shopping in the center and getting some of the best cevapi (a grilled dish of minced meat, a type of kebab) you will ever have. Banja Luka has some of the best, so if you find yourself there; it is a must! In the summer, you can enjoy many outdoor concerts and all year round a vibrant nightlife. 

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Bliha Waterfall – about an hour out of Prijedor, is a beautiful waterfall as well. Going in the fall was perfect because there was literally no one there. It is more of a popular spot to go to in the summer. The only downside is you get less of the waterfall vs when you go in the summer, but it is still gorgeous. 

Mostar

Mostar is in the other region of the country called Herzegovina and also my mom’s hometown (I am lucky, I know! I get to have family in the most beautiful places). It is a vibrant city filled with rich history and it is well known for the Stari Most or the Old Bridge in English. The old town is filled with cobbled stone streets, tons of restaurants, and shops. If you are lucky enough, you can even catch the jumping competitions. Mostar’s bridge is a popular spot for divers, but do not try the jump if you are not a skilled diver because it is pretty dangerous.

Now, that is not all Mostar has to offer. It is filled with lots of cafes, restaurants, and shops in the downtown area as well. And the nightlife here is amazing! From underground clubs, to pool clubs, you will be pleasantly surprised with the nightlife scene here. 

Blagaj – a tiny village right next to Mostar, is one of the most magical places you will see. It is so uniquely pretty and has tons of restaurants that you can sit and enjoy the river views.

Pocitelj – another village near Mostar that is a great stop for some walking around for an hour or two. The historic urban site is a walled town dating all the way back to the sixteenth century. It is about a 20 minute drive from Mostar, and great spot to get some great views and exercise by climbing to the top.

Kravice Waterfall – a couple hours out of Mostar, you will find a beautiful waterfall. Not only, do you get to see all the waterfalls there, you are allowed to swim in the water as well, so it is the perfect way to cool off a bit in the hot summer days. Once done, hang out at one of the cafes and soak in the views.


I am fortunate enough to have family to visit across the seas, although, I do wish they lived closer so I could visit them more often. But that just makes each visit that much more special and on top of it I always have beautiful places to see.

Do you have family that lives far away from you? Let me know in the comments where in the world they are?

Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

Midwest Trips

Living in the Midwest has its ups and downs, but I have learned to love it now that I am living here. Personally, I am more of a beach kind of girl, so I definitely love the west coast a lot more, but you gotta work with what you got, am I right haha?! Since, I have lived here for a couple of years now, I have had the pleasure of visiting a few places in the Midwest and have compiled a list of some of the areas I enjoyed visiting. (Please note that I live in Chicago, so most of these are around and closer to that area, meaning there is soooo much more to the Midwest than just these trips).


Milwaukee (Wisconsin) – it is the perfect weekend trip. It has that big town small feel. It is filled with lots of breweries and lots of cheese (yummmm). It is fun to go any season because they always have fests going on or things happening. Check out a brewers game in the summer and hit up October fest in the Fall.

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The Ultimate Guide to a Disney Cruise

I love Disney, but unfortunately I never had the opportunity to go to any of the parks. Once upon a time, my friend won a Disney Cruise on the radio and there I was living out my dreams. Now, this still wasn’t one of the parks I have been dying to go to, but it was a step closer to my ultimate Disney experience.

In addition, to this being my first Disney experience, this was also my first cruise, so it was a first all around. I have compiled a list of all the great things about this cruise and some of my tips because this was an unknown experience to me, like I am sure it is for many of you that have never been on one.

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The Experience

Each cruise is going to provide you a different experience and I am sure they all have their perks. Luckily, I had the pleasure of going to one with some of the best hospitality in the world…AKA Disney :). The Disney corporation is known for their experiences and amazing hospitality and this cruise was no different. From the moment the cruise was booked until the very end, the whole experience was magical. The cruise I went on departed from Fort Lauderdale and stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, and the Castaway Cay which is Disney’s private island.

You get a nice big booklet of everything you need to know and it included your complete itinerary, so you had everything with you in one place. Make sure you do not forget that because it has your luggage tags and some other items that you will need.

Once you get to the airport, you are able to take the Disney shuttle which takes you to the port. The bus played some videos that you could enjoy on the hour or so ride there and was accompanied by a very funny driver.

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After arriving to the port, you wait in line to check in and get additional information about boarding. This process does take a bit of time, but once done you can make your way up on the boat.

As soon as you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the amazing hospitality I continue to talk about. Your party’s name is announced for all to hear as you walk through the doors making you feel like royalty.

Once you board, you are free to roam around, get some food and go to your room where your luggage will be waiting for you.

We had a suite with a balcony which gave us some pretty great views and it also helps with not feeling too seasick. I would recommend booking a room with at least a window, if you know that you do get motion sickness or don’t like enclosed spaces.

Food and Drinks

This cruise had a couple of restaurants that you were assigned to go to each night with a time slot and then your typical buffet that was open through out the day. The buffet had pretty good food, but it was very standard and similar to any buffet you would go to. The soft serve was definitely my favorite because who doesn’t love soft serve.

The restaurants were pretty incredible and provided you with dinner and a show for most. It gave you this magical experience all while eating some of the best food I had eaten in a while. We also had the same servers each night, so they got to know us which made the experience that much better.

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My favorite had to have been Tiana’s where we got major New Orleans’s vibes and a great music performance by the one and only Tiana and her band.

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The Activities

This being a Disney cruise, most of the activities were oriented towards kids and teens which is understandable. To my surprise, there was still plenty to do on the boat for the older folk, so they did not forget about all the adults.

One of my favorites was definitely the pool and the best part is that they had an adult only pool. It was a nice break, for those that actually want enjoy some peace and quiet. Personally, I liked the upper deck around the main pool. It is perfect for laying out and relaxing. Another great perk was that they played movies on a huge screen, so you got to work on your tan while watching some of your Disney favorites.

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Since I was on the cruise with my friends and we are considered adults (even though I disagree sometimes haha), we checked out a lot of the adult activities. Below are some the cruise has to offer:

Trivia at the Bar – we lost badly but then again I am not the best at trivia.

Bingo – who doesn’t love Bingo 🙂 plus you can win cash prizes and things that you can purchase on the boat.

Evening Adult Only Entertainment (different show or performance every night) – be prepared because they will pick on the crowd. It is super interactive and fun. One night we had a comedy show which was very entertaining.

Lounge Bar – a perfect place to just relax and grab a drink.

Disney Performance – this was one of my favorite parts. Every night, there was a performance in the theater which was spectacular. The actors really do a good job portraying the Disney characters and it is enjoyable for all ages.

Last Night Party – on the last night, they have a huge party on the deck. With performances, dancing, and fireworks, it was the perfect way to end this magical cruise!

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The Offsite

On this cruise, we made two stops: Nassau and Castaway Cay!

Nassau:

This was my second time in the Bahamas and it was pretty amazing. We went to Nassau which is the most popular city to visit and it is where the famous Atlantis Resort was which I am sure many have heard of – cue Holiday in the Sun for all my Mary Kate and Ashley fans :). We had options to book different excursions, but we decided to explore the town a bit and just hang out at the beach.

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Once we got off the boat, we started by taking a walk around town. We went into some shops and browsed around for some souvenirs. We found a restaurant with beautiful views of the ocean and really good conch, so we took a break there. Make sure you try the conch, especially in the Bahamas, it was delicious.

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After our bellies were full, we headed down to the beach where we hit up a happy hour bar right on the beach. There is just something about a drink out of a coconut that makes it ten times better. A few hours later, we had to get back on the boat and enjoyed the rest of the evening on the cruise.

Castaway Cay:

Disney being Disney couldn’t just take us to any island in the Caribbean; they naturally took us to their private island called Castaway Cay. The island is not huge but it was big enough that it gave you plenty to do on it.

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The best part was that there was an adult only beach and it was hidden all the way at the end of the island. It was stunning and the perfect way to relax. The food on the island was also provided and it was included in the cruise pricing, so unless you are getting drinks or buying souvenirs, you did not have to have too many expenses unlike our first stop in Nassau.

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We were also supposed to do an adults only excursion where we would get on a smaller boat and go to another mini island where we would have done a rum tasting. Unfortunately, the water was too rocky, so that was cancelled. Instead, we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach and no one was complaining :).

If you follow me on Instagram, then you will know that in my stories and my post, I asked to see if anyone had any questions about cruises. Below are some of the most common questions I got and so I thought I would share them on here:

Money: how much should you bring on an all-inclusive trip? The short answer: that depends on you!

How much are you planning on drinking (alcohol) because that is extra and can be pricey on cruises. If you are from a small rural town, these prices might shock you, but if you come from a big city then you can expect cocktails to be around $10 if not more which is the norm. You do have the option to also get a drink package, but personally I do not know believe it is worth it unless you are planning on drinking a lot each day.

Another factor is how many stops does your cruise have? Unless you are going to a private Disney Island where everything was included, you can expect to be paying for everything once off the boat. You can however go back to the boat to eat or stay on the boat while it is docked, but what’s the fun in that?

Excursions! Those are all extra as well and all though you do not have to do them, it is fun to at least try one while on your trip. Just make sure to book in advance, so that you get a spot.

My advice – budget $200 per person per stop plus another $200 for drinks. So if you are making two stops like I did. I budgeted having $600 spending money for this cruise to include the two stops and drinks. I did not end up having to spend that much, but better safe that sorry.

What to pack: this was one of those questions that I kept asking myself and other people because I had no idea what I would need on a cruise. I was worried that since we were on water that I would not be able to easily get something if I had forgotten it, so I was stressing out about the packing the most.

Luckily, the boat does have a mini store for you to buy things that you might have forgotten and since you do also get the opportunity to get off the boat, you can buy things you need there too. So do not panic like me, you’re not stuck there haha.

So below is a list of things that you should pack. Keep in mind that this is for a warm weather Caribbean type cruise. If you’re going to Alaska or somewhere a bit colder…maybe bring a winter jacket 🙂

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  • Swimsuit, hat and sunglasses – you will need this the most! I would also bring a cover up.
  • Sunscreen – if you do forget it, the cruise will have some.
  • Casual dress and shorts and a t-shirt for sightseeing and just walking around the cruise.
  • Dress up clothes for dinner – I brought two rompers and a dress. You do not have to be super fancy at dinner but everyone does dress a bit nicer.
  • Flip flops or sandals and heels or wedges for one of your dressed up days. Also, bring a pair of athletic shoes, depending on your excursion or just for comfort, it is nice to have. Plus you can travel in them and be comfortable on your flight.
  • A light jacket or sweater. It does get cold at night, you are in the middle of the ocean after all.
  • Casual wear – this is mainly for when you are hanging out around the boat or in your room – I did forget this part, so I was usually just sitting around in my pj’s or the yoga pants I traveled in.
  • Toiletries – if you are going with a group, I would recommend to split this off. Since I was with all girls, we all brought different things and shared. This way not all four of us were bringing curling irons and we were able to utilize each others.
  • Jeans – I do and always will bring a pair of jeans everywhere I go. You can always find them useful no matter the weather. If they are bulky and you do not want to pack them, travel in them instead.
  • Do not forget your passport!! You can not get on the cruise without it.
  • Dramamine or some sea sickness medicine. I did not bring it because I do not normally get seasick and then ended up being nauseous. So bring it even if you are stubborn like me and do not think you are going to need it.
  • Small backpack or beach bag to carry around your stuff on the cruise or off the boat.
  • Chargers and reading material.
  • Water bottle – I always travel with one, it is just convenient.
  • Ziploc bags or a water proof bag – you’re surrounded by water and accidents happen especially around children.
  • Watch – you will be on somewhat of a schedule when you are on the cruise. You will have assigned dinner times and scheduled shows and performances, so it is important to keep track of your time. In addition, you want to make sure you know the time when you’re off the boat, because you do not want to get left behind. I know everyone has phones nowadays but sometimes things happen, plus it is a great accessory.

Safety: everywhere you go, safety is naturally a big priority. I know a lot of people are always asking is it safe to go there and is it safe to do this and that which is a valid concern especially with cruises. I have heard stories before of people falling off, or getting left behind or even crazy storms, which has some people concerned about cruises in itself. And then there is always titanic, or that fear of getting stuck in the middle of the ocean and getting eaten by sharks. Ok a bit dramatic, but it is nothing I haven’t heard before. Here are my thoughts on the safety on the cruise and how I felt:

The nice thing about cruises is that there is a safety procedure that everyone has to go through once on board. You are assigned an exit and place on the boat that you need to show up to once the alarms sounds. I know many of us always overlook the safety procedures because you always think something will not happen to you, but it is important that you do not pay attention especially if you have never been on a cruise. During the procedure, you are explained what actions to take if there were to be an emergency.

While on the boat, I did feel safe the whole time, but like anywhere still make sure that you always have all your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.

I did experience a lot of turbulence on the first day due to the weather not being the best. It was a bit uneasy on some of the lower floors because I would see the water hit the windows and the boat was a bit rocky. Despite that, I did not feel unsafe, it was more of just an uneasy feeling due to the high turbulance which made me get a little seasick. The staff did reassure everyone that this can happen, but it should pass soon.

Off the boat is a different story. Once you arrive to your stop, you do need to make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. I would not do any excursions that seem very sketchy especially if vendors are pushing you to purchase. As any trip anywhere, use your common sense. Also, make sure you keep track of your time because the boat will leave without you if you do not get back and that is going to cost you a lot of money. With that being said, make sure you have contact information of whom to reach in case of that situation.

Getting back on the boat, you had to go through security and metal detectors which made me feel more protected knowing not anyone can just hop in and bring what ever they wanted onto the boat.

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Overall, a cruise was a very unique and fun experience especially with Disney. The hospitality there and the whole experience was magical. Although, a cruise is not my preferred way to travel, I think everyone should try it at least once.

Who has been on a cruise before? What is your preferred way to travel?

Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

 

 

 

 

Nashville: the perfect weekend getaway

Oh Music City – filled with some of the best nightlife and live music and of course bachelorette parties. Well at least that is what everyone thinks of when they hear Nashville – or Nash-Vegas, but there is so much more to this awesome city.

I have been to Nashville twice now and loved it each time for different reasons. The first time I went was a few years ago with a few of my friends. The last time I went was just a few weeks ago with my mom, so they were two very different trips for obvious reasons.

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Below are a few of my favorite things about Nashville and they showcase how you can spend the perfect weekend with your friends as well as your family.

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My Favorite Travel Apps

There are so many great apps out there for your travel purposes. Some just give you amazing wanderlust, others help you book the best trip. Below are a few of my favorite travel apps:


My first point will be to mention that if you board a plane, even if it is once a year, enroll yourself in a mileage program. Not only is it free, but you are collecting miles and can get free flights for yourself down the road. It is easy to sign up and just make sure to add your number anytime booking a flight for that airline. I personally am part of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines because those are the ones I mainly travel with. The miles do add up and I have already utilized my miles for some free trips. Most airlines have an app you can download and this way you will have all your mileage numbers handy and can check your progress.

For Wanderlust:

TripBucket – this app allows you to look at all these amazing places in the world and essentially add it to your bucket list of places you want to visit. You can search by different categories such as cities, natural wonders, adventures; just to name a few. It also helps you find more wonderful places to see and let’s you check them off your trip bucket list.

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Hitlist – this app is perfect for those that are very flexible with their time. It shoots out notifications of amazing travel deals if you go on certain dates, and these deals are amazing! It also gives you options to search anywhere in the world and see what deals they have going on. You can add certain places to your list and when they find a good deal, they will push out a notification.

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Been – this allows you to track where you have been. It keeps count on how many states and countries you have been to and makes you realize how many more places you need to go.

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For booking good deals:

Airbnb/HomeAway – most of you have heard about this now, but this is a good way to find great housing for bigger groups and to have more of a home style experience. I usually utilize this if I am going somewhere with a big group of people because we can all be in one place and have a lot of space vs being in two or three hotel rooms. Although, this is a great option, please be aware that some cities and countries do not benefit from this service, so it is just something to think about. It raises their cost of living and makes it harder for locals to purchase homes.

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Skyscanner – lets you search for good deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. You can search by destinations and see when it would be cheaper to go visit a certain place.

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Skiplagged – this app is really great because it finds you the best deal to get to your destination. It looks at flights where your final destination could be a connection. For example, let’s say you want to got from Denver to Chicago, sometimes booking a trip to New York with a connection to Chicago ends up being cheaper.

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Rome2Rio – this app is pretty amazing!!! It gives you easy and affordable options on travelling from city to city. It will find flight options, bus, train and even driving if applicable; and provide you with the time it would take to get there as well as the approximate cost. It literally does all the dirty work for ya.

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Hopper – this is one of my favorites. This app finds the best deals on flights and notifies you when it is cheaper to fly. Add a destination and time when you want to travel and it will watch it for you and tell you when it is best to purchase.

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Do you use any of these apps? What travel apps do you love?! Let me know in the comments 🙂

Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

7 Photos that will make you want to visit Scottsdale ASAP

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Continue reading “7 Photos that will make you want to visit Scottsdale ASAP”