USA Travel Bucketlist

USA Travel Bucketlist

I love to travel to Europe but never really take the time to travel around the United States. There are so many places to see in my own country but Europe is so exciting that I always choose to save our big trips for somewhere in Europe instead.

Today I’m sharing my United States Travel Bucketlist in hopes that it will inspire me to plan some trips within my own great country.

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Maine
  3. Boston, MA
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Hawaii
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Alaska
  9. Charleston, SC
  10. New York City
  11. Colorado
  12. Texas
  13. Salem, MA
  14. New Hampshire
  15. All of the National Parks

What’s on your bucketlist?

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

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Vacation Mode

Vacation Mode

I love to travel but now that I’m a full-time working adult I don’t get to travel quite as much as I want to. Brett and I still make it a priority to travel at least a few times each yet even if they are just small trips.

This week we are going on an extra special trip and I am so excited! We have been planning this trip for a couple of months now and I’ve been counting down the days until we finally get to leave.

Vacation time is really important to me in order to avoid burnout at work. When I work for too many months without a vacation I start to get frustrated and grumpy. Taking some time off allows me to reset my focus and come back relaxed and ready to tackle whatever challenge is thrown my way next.

Do you have any summer vacations planned this year?

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Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

 

7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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Our Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

Brett and I went on a bucketlist trip to Rome in October. I had been dreaming of this trip since I first saw the Lizzie McGuire Movie and it felt like a dream to be able to go with my husband. We started off our trip in Paris which you can read about here. I love visiting Europe because everywhere you go you are surrounded by so much history.

Since we ended up spending a day in Paris our time in Rome was shortened. I had read a ton of travel blogs and books before our trip so I knew that three days in Rome to do touristy things should be plenty.

Rome Travel Guide, 3 days in Rome

We ended up buying the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Pass which allowed us into the tourist places for free. We were also able to take a hop on hop off bus around the city as many times as we want. Rome has a great transportation system but we preferred to take the bus because we could sit on the top deck and see many of the sites from there.

Three Days in Rome

On our first full day we picked up our OMNIA Pass and hopped on the bus. We took one full lap around the city to see everything. I think the whole loop took about an hour which we didn’t mind because we were so jet lagged.

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We eventually got off the bus near the Pantheon and had gelato at a cute cafe that we had found while on the bus. We then walked to the Pantheon which was pretty packed. The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple that was built in 113-125 AD. It is known for the huge pillars that stand out front and the dome in the center. It is one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites. Brett and I walked around inside the Pantheon for a while just looking at everything.

Pantheon Rome

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One thing to watch for when you are visiting Rome is the pickpockets. They are all over the place and like to try to engage you in conversation or will throw you an item like a bracelet and try to get you to pay for it. I knew that pickpockets would be bad in Rome so I invested in this bag from Amazon that if RFID blocking and has little clasps on all the zippers that make it harder to break into. The crowded streets around the Pantheon were packed with pickpockets.

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After the Pantheon we walked to Trevi Fountain which was PACKED! I would recommend trying to visit either early in the morning or later at night if you are hoping to get a good picture. We decided we would just come back later to get close to the fountain.

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We were pretty exhausted by this point and I was pretty sure I was catching a cold so we headed back to a restaurant near our hotel for pizza. We went to the same restaurant the night before and Brett had a 5 course Italian meal including tripe. He was so full!

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The next morning we got up bright and early and walked to the Colosseum. Our OMNIA Passes covered our entry but we did pay extra to have a guided tour. One of the best things about the OMNIA Pass was that we were able to skip the line and enter right away. The line that day wrapped around the Colosseum and the wait was already up to four hours by the time we arrived!

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Our tour guide was great! We had headphones so that we could hear what he was saying while we walked around. I don’t think it would have been as great if we wouldn’t have had the guide. After our guided tour was done we had the option to keep walking around and exploring. A tour for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was leaving in about 30 minutes so we decided to hang around for a bit and then join that group.

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ended up being my favorite places we went in Rome. Every tour of the Colosseum also comes with a pass to go to the Roman Forum but apparently very few people actually go. I have no idea why because it’s full of history and breathtaking views of the Colosseum and ancient Rome.

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The Roman Forum is basically the center of ancient Rome where you can see the ruins of government buildings, temples, houses, and tombs. You can go down on the streets where Romans used to walk and can kind of picture how life in ancient Rome was. I can vividly remember talking about the Roman Forum in a college history class so it was amazing to see it in real life!

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This was my favorite day in Rome even thought I was super sick by this point. I really just wanted to crawl into bed but being in Rome was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I tried to forget about my sickness and keep plugging. After our visit at the Roman Forum we had amazing pasta for a late lunch and then walked back to our hotel for a pre-dinner nap. We ended up having dinner at a cute pizza place near our hotel.

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The next day Brett told me to go back to sleep after breakfast because I really wasn’t feeling well. I slept in until noon and then we headed out for a busy day! We first went back to Trevi Fountain and made our way to the front. I had dreamed of visiting Rome for so long and standing by the fountain’s edge made it finally feel real.

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We then made our way to the Spanish Steps but it was so busy that we weren’t able to walk up them. We probably could have but I didn’t feel like fighting the crowd. They were really beautiful though!

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The most exciting part of our day was the after hours Vatican tour that we had booked through our OMNIA Pass. We took the Metro to the Vatican but ended up getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk really far to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. We were so grateful to have the OMNIA Pass by this point because we were able to skip the crazy long line and head right into the Basilica.

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St. Peter’s was breathtaking the say the least. Brett and I love to visit places of worship on our trips but this one takes the cake! I would 110% recommend booking a tour so you don’t have to wait in the hours long lines to get in. We walked around for a couple of hours and emerged ourselves in the history and elaborate artwork.

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We had an after hours tour of the Vatican Museum booked for 7 pm so we ate dinner near the square. I was so excited to go to the Museum that I barely paid attention to my pasta and gelato. We met our tour group near St. Peter’s and all walked our to the Museum together.

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Touring the Vatican Museum at night was so peaceful. There were many other tour groups there but no one had to wait in line and it was very relaxed. We signed up for this tour when we picked up our OMNIA Pass on day one.

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I still can’t believe that I saw the Sistine Chapel in person. It doesn’t even feel real! You are not allowed to take pictures but I can still picture the room in my head. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be!

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The rest of the Museum was full of amazing works of art. My favorite was this hallway of old maps. Each room that we walked through had high ceilings with detailed paintings and tons of gold.

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We went back to our hotel that night and packed for our trip home in the next morning. I couldn’t believe that our time in Rome was coming to an end!

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Our trip back to Michigan didn’t go exactly as planned. Brett works for an airline so we fly for basically free but are never guaranteed a flight. We spent most of the day trying to get on an airplane with no luck. Eventually we found a flight to Boston and ended up running through the airport and boarding just in time! It was truly a miracle. However, once we got to Boston to spend the night we realized that Red Sox game was that night and hotels were crazy expensive. It was fine though and we ended up flying back to Michigan the next morning.

This trip to Paris and Rome was such a crazy adventure. When Brett and I got married he put in his vows that we would have a lifetime of adventures together and he was right. I can’t imagine going through life without him by my side. I can’t wait to tell our kids about this trip one day!

Have you ever been to Rome? What’s the #1 destination on your travel bucketlist?

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My #1 International Travel Essential – TEP Wireless Review

#1 Travel Essential - TEP Wireless Review , travel hotspot

Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do. I love planning out itineraries of what to do each day and exploring all there is to see in each new place. I read the guide books and scour Pinterest and blogs for tips, tricks, and must see locations. I make a list of the food and drinks I need to try, the history behind each monument, and most importantly, I map out walking tours.

In October my husband took me to Paris and Rome for an early 25th birthday celebration. I had been to Paris before so I knew where to take Brett for his first visit. Rome was a different story. Rome had been #1 on my bucketlist for the last couple of years but I had no prior knowledge about how to get around the city.

I was doing my usual pre-trip research when I stumbled upon TEP Wireless, a portable “pocket” WiFi device. I was intrigued and dug into reviews and technical information to see what it was all about. My cell phone carrier can provide internet for international use. However, it’s incredibly expensive so I never buy the plan for trips. TEP Wireless seemed like the perfect solution!

You rent a “Teppy” device for the duration of your trip (days, weeks, or months) and you receive a unique password that you enter in when trying to join the network on your device. It’s super easy to use! The only downside if that you have to activate each day of internet access but it only takes a couple of clicks and the wifi is back up and running. The instructions explain everything!

The Teppy has 8+ hours of constant use on a single charge and works in over 100 countries. We rented the external charger which really came in handy on some of our longer days. Brett and I both used the wifi for our phones and never ran out of battery when we also had the external charger handy. The device is super small and easy to fit in a pocket or purse.

A couple of weeks before the trip I booked our Teppy device with a pre-paid return envelope. About two days before we left the Teppy arrived in a cute little package and was ready to go to Europe with us. When we knew our travel plans were changing from just Rome to Rome and Paris I hopped online to chat with one of the TEP Wireless customer service representatives. They were able to re-assure me that the device would work in Paris and Rome for no extra charge!

I was really glad to have TEP Wireless in both Paris and Rome. We never lost coverage and found it super easy to use! We look forward to renting with TEP Wireless for our next big trip!

By the way, I paid for my TEP Wireless rental with my own money. They do not know that I am doing this review but I thought it might be helpful for all of my fellow travel enthusiasts!

Have you heard of TEP Wireless before? Have you tried anything similar?

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Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

 

24 Hours in Paris: How to Spend One Perfect Day in the City

24 Hours in Paris

I mentioned before that my husband, Brett, works for a airline so we are able to fly standby at a low cost. The trade off is that we never really know where we are going to end up. The goal for our trip in October was to make it to Rome but flights to Rome were oversold and there was no way we would make it there in one day. Brett came up with a plan to spend a day in my second favorite city so that I could show him around.

24 Hours in Paris

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you would know how much I love Paris. I visited for the first time in 2011 and again in 2015. I attempted to plan trips in 2015 and 2017 with Brett but they never quite worked out. It was a dream come true to visit Paris with Brett! When times get tough I want to be able to remember this day in Paris with Brett. How happy we were, how beautiful the Eiffel Tower is in fall, and how much fun we had together even though I was dragging Brett around Paris on barely any sleep. 

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We started our day by changing our clothes in the airport bathrooms (#TeamNoSleep) and then booked an Uber to take us straight to the hotel to drop off our bags. We decided to splurge on a hotel which we never do and stay right by the Eiffel Tower since we were only staying for one night and wanted to make the most of our time in Paris. 

24 Hours in Paris

24 Hours in Paris

24 Hours in Paris

After dropping our bags off at the hotel we headed straight to the Eiffel Tower. There’s just something about Paris that’s magical to me and I was very excited to share the magic with Brett. There was construction around the tower so we were unable to go underneath it which was really sad. We also decided to not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower this trip. I had already been once and Brett didn’t want to spend all day in line. After taking in the views we went to a little cafe to grab breakfast. We were both exhausted and sitting for a few minutes to plan out our day was just what we needed. 

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In 2015 I walked along the Seine River to visit many of the places on my Paris Itinerary. This trip I decided it would be a great idea to re-trace my steps and do the same thing in order to show Brett all the highlights of Paris in a short amount of time. We would have to exclude a couple of things like Moulin Rouge and Montmartre (my favorite place in Paris) in order to make it a true walking tour. There are great bus tours of the city if you truly want to see everything in a day!

24 Hours in Paris

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In our 24 hours in Paris we explored the grounds of the Louvre but didn’t go inside, toured the Notre Dame,  ate ice cream by the Eiffel Tower, and watched the Eiffel Tower night show. In my Midnight in Paris post I talk about the magical moment I saw the Eiffel Tower at night for the first time. Pure magic. Brett and I also had a nice dinner complete with Brett trying escargot for the first time. He actually really liked it! 

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If we would have had more time I would love to have explored the Louvre again. I could spend hours walking around the Louvre. I would have also gone to Montmartre because that’s one of my absolute favorite spots in Paris. 

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We flew out around 11 the next morning so we took a walk around the Eiffel Tower and grabbed my favorite chocolate croissants from a cute cafe near our hotel. At the airport we bought macaroons and starting planning the next leg of our adventure in Rome. 

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Paris will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m so grateful that Brett and I finally got to visit together. In case you couldn’t tell, I really love Paris. 

Interested in visiting Paris? Check out my other Paris travel posts below!

Thanks for reading! 

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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