Travel Blogs to Inspire Your First Post-COVID Vacation!

Travelling has always been something that was really important to me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to see the world, experience new cultures, and explore new places. I’m pretty fortunate — I’ve already gotten the chance to see so many different countries in my lifetime — and yet, I still can’t wait to see more.

Then, of course, 2020 happened. While I didn’t have any solid plans to travel anywhere at the time that lockdowns hit, I certainly had a trip or two in mind to celebrate graduating and enjoying my time between finishing university and setting out into the “real world”. However, the last year of being at home has given me plenty of time to reflect on the places I have been lucky enough to visit, and all the places I hope to go as soon as COVID and lockdowns have become a distant memory.

Below are all the travel blogs I’ve posted since beginning my blog nearly two years ago now — during which time I was fortunate enough to visit everywhere from my own hometown to South East Asia. Hopefully for all of you who’ve been feeling impatient to break out of your routine and go experience new things after this last year of being at home, you’ll be able to find plenty of inspiration, recommendations and ideas from my little collection of blogs in this post!

SPEND A WEEK WITH ME IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO!

This was the last vacation I went on pre-COVID, but it was a great one to have experienced as my last trip for a while. Puerto Vallarta makes for a great relaxing beach holiday, while also having plenty of adventurous places to visit and local areas to explore the culture.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN BANGKOK!

Bangkok was both the first and last stop on my trip to South East Asia, so while we didn’t see that much of Bangkok during our first few days there per se, you can get a good sense from this post of what it was like acclimating to travelling to the opposite side of the world on my first trip without my family!

THINGS TO DO (PART TWO!): BANGKOK EDITION!

The title here may be a little confusing, since I didn’t actually make a “Things To Do in Bangkok: Part One”. However, this post shares what I did in Bangkok the second time around, and how I spent the last few days of my travels in South East Asia.

THINGS TO DO: KOH PHI PHI EDITION!

Koh Phi Phi is, hands down, one of my absolute favourite places on earth. Not only is it an absolutely stunning landscape, but it’s full of great little cafes, restaurants and shops AND every single shop owner on the island owns a cat. No joke, I’ve never seen so many cats in one place in my life (which was fantastic for me, as I really love cats). I really couldn’t recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi more, I’d probably live here if I could.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN KOH PHI PHI!

Koh Phi Phi is a great adventure spot, and has loads of snorkelling, hiking, and all sorts of other exploring options for those of you who enjoy a little hands-on adventure. There’s SO many adventure options for all types of different comfort zones, as well — so don’t worry if you’re not looking for anything too extreme. If this sounds like your thing, check out this post to get a better sense of what it’s like to take a day trip boat tour of the island!

THINGS TO DO: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand, and a great place to visit to be able to see some really stunning architecture and buddhist temples. It’s a really beautiful place, and visiting the Old City is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited.

PLACES TO EAT: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

For my foodies — there was some really great food in this city. Maybe I’m just biased, though, because Thai food is one of my all-time faves.

THINGS TO DO: SIEM REAP EDITION!

My time in Cambodia was short, but I did manage to fit in a lot of things while I was there. I really didn’t know what to expect of Siem Reap, but it really took me by surprise and ended up being one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME AT ANGKOR WAT!

Perhaps the best-known travel destination in Cambodia, Angkor Was and the surrounding temples are really one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced — they’re really different from any other temples in South East Asia as well. It’s usually packed with people, but if you go in the summer (as I did) it ends up being a lot emptier, which really made the experience more special.

THINGS TO DO: HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION!

Vietnam was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list I’d definitely recommend adding it right now. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is absolutely full of all kinds of amazing food, history, and culture — the city itself, and the entire country of Vietnam, was really one of the most unique and interesting places I ever visited.

THINGS TO DO: NINH BINH EDITION!

Ninh Binh was a real stand out for me in terms of places I’ve visited in my life. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone in a whole lot of ways, but it was all really rewarding at the end of the day. The town is absolutely beautiful, and there’s no shortage of beautiful places to see in the Vietnamese countryside.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN HOI AN!

To be honest, Hoi An is definitely more of a “party” location in terms of places I visited in Vietnam — at least for me. It was crazy fun, though, and I met all kinds of people from around the world while I was staying here.

PLACES TO EAT: HANOI EDITION!

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, and very different from Ho Chi Minh City. It was really interesting being able to visit both in my time in Vietnam — I loved them both so much, and for very different reasons. There’s all kinds of cool things to do and see in Hanoi, but the food in particular is to die for.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN HA LONG BAY!

Ha Long Bay is by far the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, I’d give anything to go back right now. There’s all sorts of ways to see and experience it, but one of the most popular is spending time on an overnight cruise — which I have to say, I’d highly recommend.

THINGS TO DO: LUANG PRABANG EDITION!

Okay, I know I’ve pretty much said that everything on this list was my favourite thing in one way or another, but Laos was really one of the best places I’ve ever visited — and you should probably consider adding it to your bucket list, TBH.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN LUANG PRABANG!

A little in-depth look at one of my best days from my whole trip to South East Asia. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend Laos more.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN TORONTO!

Does it really count as travelling to visit my own hometown? Probably not, but I’m still counting it. Plus, for those of you who’ve never been to Toronto and want to experience it as a local would — then my guide will definitely help you do that!

PLACES TO EAT: TORONTO EDITION!

For all my fellow foodies, Toronto is a must-visit. There’s just so many great options. It has a little bit of everything — as it is the most multi-cultural city in the world, after all — so no matter what you love, there’s something here for you.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN DISNEY WORLD!

Okay…I won’t lie, I’d be pretty hesitant to be going somewhere as crowded as a theme park anytime soon. That might just be me, though. So for everyone who’s been looking forward to a Disney vacation when this is all over, feel free to check out how I spent my weekend there and all my fave things to do and see at Disney World!

SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH ME IN WEST PALM BEACH, USA!

This was more of a trip to visit with my family, but we still managed to squeeze in a little sight-seeing of the local area surrounding our AirBnB while we were visiting West Palm — and we spent a lot of time at the beach, too!

Do you guys have any plans in place to go travelling post-COVID? If so, I’d love to hear where you’re planning on visiting! I, personally, am not making any solid plans until I have my vaccine and the end is “officially” in sight, but in the meantime it’s fun to imagine everywhere I’ll go when we’re free to travel again. I’d love to be able to visit either Japan, Singapore, Italy or Greece (or all of the above!) but honestly I’m not even picky — I’d be happy to go on a trip anywhere at this point. I’d love to hear all of your dream travel locations, so drop a comment below and let me know where in the world you would go right now if you could choose from absolutely anywhere!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you all have an amazing week ahead to look forward to.

Much love,

Meredith

Trends I’m Loving: Beach Vacay Edition!

Hey y’all!

So to start off, I have some super exciting news to share — I’m officially a FabFitFun affiliate! I don’t even have to tell you guys how excited I am about this, as I’m constantly referencing products and brands they introduced me to and raving about what I received in my boxes each season. If you want to get in on the fun, click here to head over to the FabFitFun site and get $10 off your first box when you use the code SPRINGLOVE!

(As a side note, if you’re curious about what type of products you may receive in a FabFitFun box, you can check out these sneak peek photos of the Spring Box, or my past Winter and Fall Unboxings to get a better idea!)

But for now, back to today’s content — for my 100th (!!!) blog post, I’m going to be sharing all my favourite fashion and makeup trends for a stylish and fun beach getaway. While I love how trendy and cool fall and winter fashion can be, summer is my favourite season and I just love how simple and easy-going summer style is. In my opinion, a great vacay wardrobe should incorporate both that care-free summer feeling, as well as taking every opportunity to try out as many new trends as possible (as tragically, vacation time is limited so you may as well take advantage). Vacation style, ideally, should therefore be cute, casual, and above all else — comfy. I mean, you’re taking a break right? So get comfortable and relax! (And if you don’t have any plans to take a vacation any time soon, feel free to keep reading — I’m going to be rocking these trends all summer too!).

A Cute Peach Lip

Peach tones have been the summery trend I’ve become obsessed with lately. I won’t lie, I’ve avoided peach the last few years — when it gets too bright and coral-hued I find it clashes with my skin tone and can look unflattering. However, I’ve been sticking to lighter, more neutral tones lately and I have to say — it is SO cute. Just look at this — is it not the perfect summer shade?

Of course, peach can be incorporated into any aspect of beachy summer looks — I got a peach manicure to match before I flew down to Puerto Vallarta as well! But a cute peach lip in my new fave. My favourite peachy lip looks are Kylie Cosmetic’s lip kit in Dirty Peach. (I love using Kylie Cosmetic’s Endless Summer Lipstick as a top coat to this to add some shine, but apparently they no longer carry the shade. However, if super-matte looks aren’t your thing, MAC Cosmetic’s Frost Lipstick in shade Skew would make a great topcoat as well!).

Some On-Trend Accessories

Okay, so cute hair accessories in 2020 isn’t really news. You can’t go more than a minute on Pinterest or Insta without seeing some super cute hair clip inspo. However, this was my first time really getting to test this style out personally. You can find me wearing chunky hair clips just about every day now — I’m pretty much addicted.

I brought endless hair accessories with me on my trip to test out, and I’ve discovered all of my faves. Obviously, oversized clips are all the rage right now — I got mine from H&M, and personally I think they’re adorable. If you’re looking to be perfectly on trend for your next getaway, I’d totally recommend checking out their accessory stock, as well as Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie for the cutest pre-tied bow scrunchies and scarves.

Glossy, Glittery Lips

You guys all know by now that I’m a gloss gal through and through — I just love the look! Now, I’ll be the first to admit super glossy looks don’t work out perfectly for every day on the beach (Is it super cute? Totally. But does your hair end up getting stuck in it every two minutes? Also yes.).

That being said, it still makes SUCH a cute beach look for the right occasion — especially for those uber-glossy, glittery looks that lipstick just can’t achieve. I found the perfect gloss for this getaway at Kylie Cosmetics in shade Oh You Fancy?. This gloss is just about as glittery as it gets, and it’s got a cute clear/peachy hue. It totally adds to a peach lip look and gives that perfect shine that helps add to your glowy beach look.

A Cute Bikini Collection

Every so often, I like to grab a few new bikinis to keep up with the latest trends. I find that bathing suit trends can be super distinct to each season and always changing, so it’s great to pick up a few so you look super on-trend before any beach vacation.

My personal faves this season are stylish snake prints and the return of bold neons — especially if you’re rocking a tan. As well, any bandeau or tank-style top is always just so cute. There’s endless stores that carry trendy bikinis, but some good ones to check out are ASOS, Free People and Revolve.

A Pinterest-Worthy Beach Hat

Looks that are cute AND practical? Count me in. I’ve really fallen in love with the wide-brim beach hat trend lately — for starters, simply because of how adorable it is. But Pinterest-famous vibes aside, this hat really does help protect both your eyes and sensitive face from the sun, which makes it a win in my books. While I bought this hat while away on my trip (it’s surprisingly hard to find vacation accessories in February) this style of hat is a staple that, in a few months, you’ll be able to find just about anywhere. While I may not have bought it from any commercial store, I’d recommend checking out H&M’s stock when the time comes — I really am falling in love with their accessories!

A Reliable Fake Tan

I don’t know about you all, but I’m not a fan of tanning. Only problem is — I love looking tan. You see my problem here? Maybe this is my personal opinion, but I find lying in direct sun fun for about half an hour before it starts getting really unpleasant. Plus there’s so many other downsides, such as the potential of uneven tanning, as well as sun damage — both on the cosmetic level, as well as damage to your skin’s health. While, yes, you could just load up on sunscreen, isn’t it easier to be in the sun/shade/indoors at your leisure and let your fake tanner do the heavy lifting? Who knows — maybe I’m just lazy or bitter because I burn super easily, but I consider this to be a vacation essential. (If you’re curious, my go-to is St. Tropez’s Classic Bronzing Lotion).

A Fresh Take On The Classic White Beach Dress

I should start this one off my ensuring you all I have nothing against white summery dresses, obviously. I love them! But you have all summer long to wear all the white dresses your heart desires, and only a short time away on vacation to really make a statement.

I’ve been obsessed with this cream-coloured romper ever since I bought it on sale at Aritzia at the end of last season, and I’ve been dying to show it off. I just love how it manages to be cute and classic while also switching up the whole usual white dress idea. If rompers aren’t really your thing, you could also give a two-piece set a try! Personally, I can’t wait for summer to roll around so I can go shopping for some cute matching shirt-and-short combos.

A Solid Waterproof Mascara

I could go super into detail here, or you could just check out my latest Thursday Favourite’s post about why Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Waterproof is the ultimate travel mascara. Either way, if you’re going to be swimming, sunning, or sweating — you’re going to need this.

That’s it for my little tropical fashion moment — but the good news is as of today we’re officially one step closer to spring! Happy March, everyone, and if you’re just so over this whole “winter” thing (and don’t have time to plan a getaway), just 21 more days until we’re all free of it. I don’t know about you guys, but I, for one, could not be more excited.

I hope you’re all having a restful and relaxing Sunday and are gearing up for a good week — personally, I’m taking a night off to relax as I have yet another crazy week ahead. If only vacation lasted forever, right?

Much love,

Meredith

Spend A Week With Me In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

Sailing Tour by Vallarta Adventures

Hey guys!

So, as many of you already know, I’ve been spending this week taking a (very much needed) vacation in Puerto Vallarta. This last month has been a bit of a rough one for me — between having the flu, my term papers, my job and just keeping up with life its been a lot. However, not only was I lucky enough to have this getaway planned (and right after my final papers were due!), but from here on out my life should be at least a LITTLE less hectic, so cheers to that!

Puerto Vallarta is a special place to me since this was actually the place I went away on my first ever vacation! To be fair, I was too young to remember it — but this is my first time coming back ever since, so it’s pretty exciting to take it all in. I also have to say, Puerto Vallarta makes a great vacation spot — its easy to access from just about anywhere in North America (which I know for a fact since my family flew in from Toronto while I flew in from Vancouver, and none of us had long or difficult travels). As well, the weather here is STUNNING — like seriously, every single day that we’ve been here has been sunny and warm, and there’s almost never a cloud in the sky. It’s insanely perfect — maybe it’s just that all the vacations I’ve taken in the last few years have been to places with variable weather, but I’m pretty blown away by this “constant sun” and “no fear of cloudiness and rain” concept.

My Last Trip To Puerto Vallarta!

As well, Puerto Vallarta has just about everything anyone on your trip could be interested in. Not only does it have the beach, the pool, the sun and all the typical things you’d want out of a beach getaway, it has a vibrant town and plenty of adventurous activities in the nearby area. Since I was here with my family and my main goal was to just chill out a little, I didn’t really take part in anything TOO adventurous — but there’s all kinds of activities ranging from zip lining, to snorkelling, to parasailing, to hiking and more. Oh, and our hotel came equipped with the biggest spa I’ve ever seen, so there’s that too.

The View From Our Hotel Room

Overall, I have to say — I’m pretty in love with it here. (Bonus points since our hotel even came with a little house cat — meet Mitzy!). I know I always say this, but I never wanna leave (or at least, I could use more than one week). But enough of that — let’s get into all the details of my little vacay!

Meet Mitzy!

Our Accommodations

Our Room at the Marriott

For this trip, we stayed at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa. This little resort has it all — it’s near, but not quite in town. It’s smaller and a little quiet, which I personally loved. It has a lovely, large infinity pool, it’s own private stretch of beach, multiple restaurant and bar options and a large and fantastic spa — but more on that later.

Marriott Puerto Vallarta Beach

Some of my favourite aspects of this hotel are the lovely beach and poolside chairs, the amazing hibachi restaurant, the poolside food and drink service, and the amazing little stand that makes fancy cocktails served in real coconuts. (I mean, just look at this — how much cuter does it get?)

The rooms are large and pretty comfortable — not that we’ve spent much time in them when it’s so beautiful out. There’s a good range of food options, and a VERY good range of drink options. To top it all off, our hotel comes with it’s very own cat (Mitzy!) and the view from out balcony is beyond spectacular — so overall, I’d say this place is a winner.

View From Our Room Pt. 2

Things To Do

Go On A Sunset Sail
Sunset Sail by Vallarta Adventures

So I’ll just start off by saying that no matter where I’m travelling to in the world, just about my all time favourite activity is to spend a day on a boat. Seriously, my life goal is to be able to buy a boat one day. I’ve been on plenty of boats during my travels — such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Honolulu, just to name a few — however, this one really was the best one yet. We specifically chose to do a sunset sail via Vallarta Adventures, and while boating itself is great, let me tell you — boating at sunset is better. This particular boating adventure came with all the bells and whistles too — little snack trays, music, and an open bar (!!!). The staff were beyond lovely, too. Overall, I’d say this activity was a serious 11/10, and definitely my favourite part of this trip. If you’re ever in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll seriously want to check this ride out.

Sunset Sail by Vallarta Adventures
Have A Spa Day
Marriott Spa

So, obviously, this was VERY much needed after the week I’ve had. The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Spa is unlike any spa I’ve been to before, too — it really is a whole experience. Like first of all, it’s absolutely HUGE. When you get any services done, you get full access to all their amenities as well. So, while all I really signed up for was the 80-minute Swedish Massage, I ended up getting a LOT more. We spent our day before and after enjoying everything this spa had to offer, including: a jacuzzi, a hot and cold plunge pools, a foot bath, a sauna AND a steam room — and that’s not even an exhaustive list, just the things I tried out. Overall, it was an AMAZING experience, and probably one of the most extensive and amazing spa days I have ever had (thankfully, since I needed it so much!).

Marriott Spa
Hit The Town
Me in Town, Puerto Vallarta

The town of Puerto Vallarta is so vibrant and fun — if you’re spending your time at a resort, like me, you’ll still want to take a day and go explore. The beachside town is filled with countless restaurants, bars, and a wide array of shops, which will cover all your souvenir needs. There’s also a boardwalk that stretches on for miles and miles — allowing you to explore easily. Plus, the beaches by town are gorgeous, and feature plenty of beachside bars and restaurants — which is ALWAYS a good idea.

Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk
Try A Tequila Tasting
Tequila!

This is basically a must-try if you’re in Mexico — I mean, where else would be better to try something like this? It makes for a great little afternoon activity, and it’s totally a fun experience you really can’t get anywhere else. Our hotel offered free tastings, however, with how much tequila there is in this town, you probably could try this just about anywhere. Even if you’re really not a fan of tequila, they certainly have the best tequila in the world — so it’s definitely worth a shot (or two!).

Puerto Vallarta Pier

Places To Eat (And Drink!)

Mikado
Sushi at Mikado

Maybe I’m just a sucker for Hibachi places, but this was one of my favourite places we tried on our vacation. While this restaurant was a part of the Marriot we stayed at, you can totally make a reso here even if you aren’t a guest. The restaurant features two separate areas — one Sushi, one Hibachi. While we tried both out, and the sushi WAS amazing — the Hibachi restaurant was both SO delicious and SO fun. It totally gave me throwback vibes to every birthday I ever had at Benihana as a child, so really, there was nothing not to love.

Banana Tempura at Mikado
Si Señor
Si Señor on the Beach

This bar and restaurant wasn’t just beachside — it actually had tables to sit at ON the beach (which was about everything you could ever want). We really only stopped in here for drinks, but wow were they ever good. If you go here, you HAVE to try the Palomas — maybe I’m biased since I love a good Paloma any day, but they were absolutely to die for. The drinks, the view, the beach — UGH. This place is absolutely a must-try if you’re ever in the area.

The Blue Shrimp
Arriero Style Octopus at the Blue Shrimp

This may already be obvious from the name of the restaurant, but if you LOVE shrimp, this is the place for you. It was basically all that was on the menu, and it was glorious. The appetizers were delish but the shrimp dinners (where you basically just ended up choosing which sauce and style you wanted your shrimp in) were beyond amazing. The whole restaurant had a very strong Maritimes/Canadian East Coast seafood dinner restaurant vibe, so it was also pretty nostalgic for me since I haven’t been to the east coast in years. (Have I ever mentioned that I have a farm in Prince Edward Island? I guess that’s just a story for another day!).

Portuguese Shrimp at the Blue Shrimp

And that’s it for my little getaway! I’m heading home tomorrow afternoon (or today at the time that this posts), tragically enough — I’m really not ready to leave just yet. I mean, I guess I have to head back to reality at some point, but does it need to be so soon?

Sunset Sail Tour by Vallarta Adventures

All in all, this trip was AMAZING, though, so I can’t complain. Puerto Vallarta is a stunning city with a little something for everyone and endless blue, sunny skies. Like seriously — this place had better weather than anywhere I’ve been in a while, and I couldn’t be more thankful. (I love Vancouver, but sometimes you just need a break from the rain, you know?). Puerto Vallarta even reminded me a bit of home, with the mountain and beach combination it has going on!

I hope you guys all enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you (and experiencing it!). Hopefully it inspired you to plan a little vacay of your own sometime soon — if you end up heading to Puerto Vallarta or trying out anything that I did, let me know! I’d love to hear that I inspired some ideas for some of your future travels.

As well, stay tuned next week for another — slightly different — travel post! I’m going to be sharing with you guys all my fave beach vacay style trends for this spring and summer, so stay tuned! I’ve been collecting photos of all my favourite makeup and fashion trends I’ve tried over the last week and I can’t wait to share.

Have a great week everyone, and don’t forget to take some time to relax! Even with how overwhelmed I was last week, I didn’t truly realize how stressed I had been until a few days into my getaway — so take a minute for a quick breather, a Netflix binge or some self care. It never hurts!

Much love and adios,

Meredith

Ps. Enjoy some extra bonus photos below — I had too many for one post!

Spend A Weekend With Me In Disney World!

Happy Sunday everyone!

So, as many of you may already know, I spent my winter holidays this year travelling with my family down to Florida. We spent the first part of our getaway located in the Delray area of West Palm Beach (if you’re interested, you can read all about that here!) before moving on to Disney World!

My family and I are definitely amongst some of the more seasoned Disney travellers — we’ve been countless times, and we all know what we like and what we don’t. So, for today’s post, I’ve compiled a little guide based on our day-by-day of this years trip! This post specifically features Disney’s Magic and Animal Kingdom, as well as Universal Studios. However, if you have any other questions about Disney World and it’s other parks, eats, hotels or attractions that I didn’t visit/discuss this time around, feel free to message me! Chances are I’ve experienced it before, and I’d be more than happy to help anyone (especially if you’re planning your own Disney getaway!).

Our Accommodations

This time around, we chose to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I’ve stayed in this resort before, but not since I was very young, so it was a crazy little blast from the past. Not only is this resort full of beautiful decor and lush gardens, it’s just two monorail stops away from the Magic Kingdom — making it a very convenient place to stay for the duration of a Disney getaway.

This resort features a whole campus of buildings (and waterfront villas!!!), multiple pools, a restaurant and bar plus so many other activities — meaning if you’re staying for a longer trip, there’s no limit on fun stuff to do right at the hotel.

Our stay was rather short, so I didn’t really get the chance to indulge in any of these extras — but it was still a great place to stay with some of the most friendly hotel staff I’ve ever come across. (Plus, when you stay in any Disney Resort you usually get the option of entering the park an hour earlier than the general public!).

Friday: Universal Studios

Friday morning, my family and I woke up crazy early and took a little road trip down from Delray to Orlando. One thing that’s pretty important, especially if you’re not planning a week-long trip with all kinds of time, is to ensure you get to the parks as close to opening as possible to avoid crazy lines. The lines at just about any ride at Universal Studios are bound to be insane, but all of their biggest attractions (such as the rides included in Harry Potter World) can get to be hours long — so you need as much time as possible to fit it all in!

What To Do

Universal Studios, in my opinion, is definitely known for their crazy VR-type rides and bigger rollercoasters. While this definitely makes it a little less friendly for little ones, some of these rides are incredibly mind-blowing and an experience unlike any other. In terms of the absolute best, can’t-miss rides, I’d have to say the rides that combine VR-type video into the ride are the most important, since I’ve never experienced anything like them anywhere else. My can’t-miss rides would have to be:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • The Simpson’s Ride
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
What To Eat

I feel like I may be stating the obvious here, but the absolute can’t-miss food at Universal Studios definitely comes down to one thing: Butter Beer. Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, this stuff is absolutely delicious and totally worth trying. Otherwise, there’s all kinds of other Harry Potter themed food and candies you can try at HoneyDukes that are all outstanding. If you’re looking for a full meal, there’s countless restaurants at the entrance of the park, as well as stands that offer classic theme-park fare.

Helpful Tips

The lines at Universal Studios are the longest I’ve seen at any theme park, both in Florida and worldwide, so it’s definitely best to plan out your day as much as possible, and arrive as early as you can. Plus, if you’re willing to spend a little extra money to spend on Express Passes, it’ll definitely make your day a whole lot more action-packed and enjoyable.

Saturday: The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is arguably the most iconic attraction at Disney World — everyone can instantly recognize the classic Cinderella castle from any picture, any time. If you’ve never been to Disney before, this is obviously the one park you can’t miss. And, like me, if you’ve already been — then the nostalgia that this park has to offer is basically unparalleled. Even though it rained through most of our morning here, we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying all of our all-time favourite rides.

What To Do

The Magic Kingdom, for me at least, is definitely more of a nostalgia experience rather than a day full of thrill rides and coasters. This year, there were a couple rides my family had to cut from the usual list (such as the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides) due to weather and time restrictions, however, this really helped me narrow down my personal list of can’t miss rides in the park. While this list may change a bit person to person as it is, once again, rather nostalgia based, I feel like I’ve got down pretty much every classic you’d need to see if you’re going for a first-time vacation.

My absolute, all-time favourite rides that you HAVE to visit if you’re heading to Disney’s Magic Kingdom would have to be:

  • The Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Thunder Mountain
  • It’s A Small World (my sister’s all time favourite, she would KILL me if I didn’t add it to the list)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Jungle Cruise
  • Space Mountain (a classic, although I do find it a little terrifying and whiplash inducing)
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Splash Mountain
What To Eat

While there are countless snacks and sweets all around the Magic Kingdom that are absolutely fantastic, I feel I’d have to argue the can’t-miss classic this park has to offer would definitely be the Dole Whip. Not only is is sweet and delicious, it defiantly helps to have a nice, cool snack whenever the sun comes out in the Florida heat. My sister would definitely also argue the turkey legs are a can’t-miss, but I usually pass on those — they’re too barbaric for me!

Helpful Tips

Disney doesn’t offer a more expensive, express-pass type of ticket — however, you do get 3 Fast-Passes per day in each park that you can re-book for another ride as soon as you use them up. My recommendation would definitely be to try to book your three passes for some of the most popular rides — such as Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain — and try to arrive as early as possible to fit in as many others as you can. From there, you can always rebook your passes as you use them up for any other rides you don’t want to miss! As well, if you’re staying at a Disney Resort, they often feature a Magic Hour where you get the option to enter the park an hour before the general public. Don’t let the early hour dissuade you — it’s 100% worth it to wake up early and hit as many rides as you can before the lines start getting crazy.

Sunday: The Animal Kingdom

We finished up Sunday by heading off to the Animal Kingdom. While the overall vibe of the Animal Kingdom is a lot less ride-based than the other Disney parks, over the last ten years it’s developed a couple newer rides that definitely bring the thrills ride-lovers may be hoping for.

What To Do

One of the newest, biggest attractions Disney has to offer is it’s two newest Avatar-themed rides — Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Both of these rides offer the best new ride technology Disney has to offer — the former with a similar VR-type experience to the rides at Universal and the latter with animatronics and live-action effects. While I only have three “can’t-miss” (confession: I actually haven’t been on one of these, but I really wish I had the chance) rides for the Animal Kingdom, these three rides honestly may be the best Disney has to offer. The top three rides, without a doubt, are most definitely:

  • Expedition Everest
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Avatar Flight of Passage

I’ll give a little more explanation here because I feel these rides deserve it. Expedition Everest is not only one of the coolest rollercoasters I’ve ever been on — no VR or 3D effects required. Plus, it’s the biggest thrill ride that I can think of at Disney World offhand — it actually has huge drops and is more of a classic coaster. It’s so fun, the first time I ever rode it with my family we legit went on it about 13 times straight. It’s THAT good.

The Na’vi River Journey ride and the Avatar Flight of Passage are two of the newest to Disney’s parks. The rides are based on the 2009 film Avatar, which Disney will be releasing a sequel to later this year. This means that not only have they just installed these attractions, there’s actually and entire area of the Animal Kingdom built to replicate the Avatar world. I will admit — it was not only strikingly realistic and similar to the films, but also pretty awe-inspiring. While I (sadly) only got the chance to go on the Na’vi River Journey ride (and therefore it’s the only one I can really speak on), I have to say, I was beyond impressed. This ride is not meant to be a thriller, but rather a smooth water ride through a nighttime landscape straight out of the Avatar world. Not only was it incredibly true to the film and absolutely stunning — there were also a couple of incredibly realistic animatronic versions of a few characters from the film. I’m talking so real, it was almost a little scary. I’ve truly never seen anything like it before, ever. If you’re ever visiting the Animal Kingdom, trust me, you don’t want to miss this ride.

What To Eat
Photo by Andrijana Bozic on Unsplash

This park is full of just about any kind of cuisine you could ever want — since it has different areas themed after different parts of the world, there’s a wide array of food from all different cultures. While, obviously, we didn’t get a chance to try everything, I have to say the little food carts around the park really have some fantastic eats. My two personal favourites were definitely the barbecued corn on the cob in the African exhibit, and the stir-fried pork and rice in the Asian exhibit.

Helpful Tips

Since all my tips about Fast-Passes don’t differ much from those I shared about the Magic Kingdom, I’ll just leave you with this tidbit of advice: the new Avatar rides are just about impossible to get on if you don’t book a Fast-Pass for them in advance. Any other ride at the Animal Kingdom may have a wait, but if you want to experience these rides you won’t be wasting your advance Fast Passes booking both of them, that’s for sure.

Where To Eat

Morimoto Asia

Our first night in Orlando, we headed over to Disney Spring’s to Masaharu Morimoto’s Asian fusion restaurant. To start off, my family and I split a couple appetizers — a round of Shumai as well as some tempura-fried popcorn shrimp. To finish off appetizers, we split the chef’s famous spare ribs — which were beyond spectacular. If you get the chance to visit this restaurant, then trust me — these spare ribs are their signature dish for a reason.

For dinner I ordered a plate of Orange Chicken, which was both delicious and remarkably large. Not that I’m complaining, though — I was absolutely starving after the long day I had (we had to wake sip at 5am in order to make the trek from Delray to Orlando!). For dessert, we split an order of Mochi — which was not at all what we expected it to be, but absolutely delicious nonetheless. You can see it pictured below, but in case you were wondering — it was made of an almond-flavour pudding, fresh fruit, popping boba, and mango sauce. Overall, it was an amazing meal — I’d definitely recommend checking this place out if you’re planning a Disney getaway any time in the near future.

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

Okay, honestly, I wasn’t really expecting to eat one of the best meals of my life at Disney World — but this restaurant really delivered. The menu keeps it pretty simple, opting for a couple classics rather than an overwhelming list of options. However, there’s still all kinds of options for even the pickiest of eaters. My family and I ordered the three meatball appetizer and Burrata to share — and while you can NEVER go wrong with Burrata, the meatballs were absolutely to die for as well. Seriously, meatballs can basically never be bad — but these ones really took it to the next level.

For my entree, I ordered burrata-filled tortellini. I’m sure my comments above, both about the food quality and my love of burrata, probably give you a good idea of how I felt about this meal, but I’ll still say it, just in case: this was absolutely one of the most fantastic meals I’ve had. Its hard to go wrong with simplicity, and just pasta, tomato sauce and burrata can really be one of the best combinations food has to offer.

On top of all this, my family and I shared a vanilla bean creme brûlée (a classic favourite of mine), which was also fantastic. On top of all this, the cocktails were delicious and the service, while a little slow, was still pretty top-notch. Seriously, if you’re planning a trip to Disney any time soon, be sure to book this restaurant for at least one meal during your stay.

And that’s it for my Florida, USA travel segment! I hope you all enjoyed it, and hopefully if you’re planning a trip to the area anytime soon you got some useful tips and recommendations. I hope you’re all having an amazing week and that you’re absolutely crushing your January goals — be sure not to let up on that post-new years motivation!

Be sure to stay tuned next week to hear all about what it’s like getting a lash lift and my personal experience with it! Is it a worthwhile alternative to lash extensions, is it safe, is it long lasting? Don’t worry, I have all your questions (and more) covered! As well, if you’re hoping to feed your wanderlust just a little more, stay tuned for my next travel diary coming up next month — any guesses where I’ll be going next?

Much love,

Meredith

Spend The Holidays With Me In West Palm Beach, USA!

Me, at Delray Beach

Hey everyone!

So, as many of you know, this holiday season I headed down to Florida with my family. Since I had all my holiday posts planned, written and queued up for the duration of my getaway, I saved all my travel posts for after the holiday season. So, without further ado, here are my Florida travel posts as promised! Today, I’ll be sharing with you guys the first portion of my trip, Christmas in West Palm Beach, USA. Stay tuned next Sunday for part two — Spend A Weekend With Me In Disney!

To start off my trip, I headed back to Toronto for a bit, where I rested up and did my gift swap with my family. While it was a little non-traditional, it saved us from having to waste luggage space bringing everything to Florida — which would have been a huge pain for my family, since they’d just be bringing it all back home anyway. Going home was great — it’s always nice to spend some part of Christmas at home — plus I got to see my cat Dmitry.

My baby!

Shortly thereafter, we got on a plane and headed off to West Palm Beach. Florida can be very hit of miss this time of year when it comes to the weather — so we prepared for everything. Thankfully we did, since the weather was pretty all over the place during our stay — but we didn’t have to let it ruin our vacation.

Our Accommodations

Florida, USA

Surprisingly, in all my travels, I’ve never stayed in an Air BNB before (that I can recall). However, this trip wasn’t just a regular family getaway — my whole extended family was meeting up for this vacation. We rented a home in town that fit all of us, which was interesting as a first time Air BNB stay.

It was a pretty decent place overall, but it definitely had some flaws. The place was a large, rather empty home put up for rent on Air BNB while it was on the market to be sold — so it wasn’t actually anyone’s current home. It was large enough for my whole family, but it felt empty still — it kind of lacked a lot of furniture, as well as a certain charm. Maybe that’s just my opinion since I had to share a tiny single-bunk bed room with my sister and they didn’t have anywhere near enough hand or shower towels — but overall, it wasn’t terrible. I’d rank it a solid 7/10, and I’d definitely consider trying out Air BNB again.

I may or may not have totally forgotten to take photos of our place…… so here’s a screen shot of my insta story! Apologies for the poor quality 😦

Things To Do

During our stay, we were located in the Delray area — which is a cute little beachside town. While we were mostly there to spend time with family and enjoy the holidays (rather than explore), there definitely was a few activities I’d recommend if you ever go to visit the area.

Hit The Beach
Delray Beach

Delray Beach is a small, beautiful and pretty secluded beach, especially for Florida. If you’re going to visit the area and are looking for a beach day, I’d totally recommend it. It’s a lot quieter than other nearby beaches I’ve been to — making it far more relaxing and more fun to explore or spend the day at. If you’re there for the day, I’d definitely recommend walking down the coast for a bit or just sitting and soaking up some rays (weather permitting, of course).

Explore the Town
Atlantic Avenue

Beachside towns are always the best to explore. If you’re in the area, the absolute best place to look around is Atlantic Avenue. The entire street is completely made up of cute restaurants, beach clothing stores and local art shops — there’s hardly a chain store on the entire strip, meaning you get a little break from the same-old same-old and really get to look around at something new. I’d totally recommend going for an afternoon just to wander — no need to worry about time, directions or anything, this area is best experienced plan-free.

Places To Eat

This entire area is full of every kind of restaurant, fast food or take out joint imaginable — so no matter what you want, you’ll be totally covered. It certainly was a little tricky being a group of 14 looking for places to eat — it did tend to limit our options, but we still had a couple really great meals.

Papa’s Raw Bar
Soft Shell Crab at Papa’s Raw Bar

While this is a fish and seafood restaurant, I can attest there really is something here for everyone you’re travelling with. The menu features multiple categories, including sushi, burgers, salads, tacos and hibachi, so everyone can find something on the menu to satisfy their cravings. Plus, I gotta say, the fried rice was pretty much to die for. Check out their website here!

Doc’s All American Burger Shack
Root beer Float at Doc’s

This cute little roadside take-out joint was pretty much the epitome of classic American take out food. They had burgers, fries, shakes and floats — and absolutely all of it was delicious. We stopped in for a quick snack but honestly, all of us were super impressed with what we ordered. Sometimes, simplicity and classics really are best.

While this trip may not have been all about adventure and exploring, it is what makes the West Palm area perfect for a family vacation. Not only is it simple and easy, there’s absolutely guaranteed to be something for everyone. Whether it’s activities or food, this little town has it all — Florida is really one of those places that has everything you could ever need. If you really are feeling up to a little adventure, there’s countless types of day trips all in the nearby area as well. If you want, there’s Miami, the Everglades, Disney World, plus so many other beaches and, of course, a whole ocean to boat around.

Florida, USA

Stay tuned next week to hear all about my weekend trip to Disney World — I’ve been plenty of times, so I’d consider myself a bit of an expert for anyone looking to plan a trip there themselves. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas, New Years and holidays — if you went on a winter getaway yourself, I’d love to hear all about it! Drop a comment below and let me know where you went and how it was!

Xo,

Meredith