Last Minute Tips for a Successful 24 Hours in Las Vegas

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At the beginning of 2015 we made a pact that in 2015 we would focus on work. Chris & I both decided to put ourselves last & work on getting me getting a promotion & he taking classes to get certified in his field. Then December came around & we realized we hadn’t seen our friends as often as we would have liked, we had only been able to go visit Chris’s dad’s side of the family a few times & we hadn’t been to Connecticut to see my family since the year before. So although I got a promotion & Chris passed his certification test, we had no lives.

This year our “resolution” was to live life as hard as we work… So far we have been doing terribly. Chris has been working 10-11 hour days regularly & I have been working each weekend day since we’ve been back from Connecticut. So when I got one single Saturday off last week, we decided to get away & go to Vegas for a little night trip. And let me tell you, there is no better time of the year to go to Vegas last minute then in January when the high is in the 50s. Hotels are amazingly cheap!!

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So how did we fly a last minute weekend trip to one of the busiest cities in the country?

Check Out What Deals You Have Available

One of the reasons we decided to go to Vegas was our M Life points got us amazing deals at half the hotels on the strip. Signing up for M Life was one of the best things we have done in Vegas. We earn points at casinos, restaurants & pools associated with MGM Hotels & in turn we get discounted prices for … well … everything. It’s great. Look into it next time you’re in Vegas!!

Make Plans

Research what is going on while you will be in town. In Vegas there are always new shows, clubs & restaurants. For us we decided we wanted to have a relaxing, but fun weekend so we decided to skip out on the club life & check out a show that neither of us had seen before. Lucky for us, we were able to get gifted show tickets to see Jennifer Lopez’s new show. AMAZING!! Best show I have seen in a long time! She is not performing right now but she will be back for a few more mini-residencies. Go! You will not be disappointed!

Pack Light

Since we were only going for two nights, & we knew Saturday our night would be taken up by the J. Lo show at Planet Hollywood packing for us was pretty easy. All I needed was a casual outfit for Friday & one semi dressy outfits for Saturday. After throwing in a simple outfit to hang around the casinos in during the day, & one to drive home in, my weekend bag was packed and ready to go.

Hit the Road

Okay, this may only really be the difference between life & well, wanting to run in front of a car, here in SoCal but making sure you leave to be Vegas bound is essential!! I have been stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in the middle of the dessert too many times!!! A few years ago there were two cars of us heading out there. My car left at 5pm and we got in 7 hours later!!! Chris’s car left at 10pm and he got there at 2am… How is this fair? We left at 9pm this time & were checked in by 1am. Just enough time for a drink at the hotel bar. Now go have fun!!! Enjoy Sin City!

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Travel Hacks for a Comfortable Cross Country Flight

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Taking a long flight isn’t always the most comfortable thing. Not all of us can sit in front of the curtain with chairs that lay back & drinks that are served to use in actual stemware. And long gone are the days where the stewardess knew each guest by name. Now it is all about sticking as many people onto a plane as possible & getting them to their destination.

I have had some wonderful flights, & then I have had some just straight terrible flights, where my planes have been delayed, my luggage was lost, I was stuck on the tarmac for hours before taking off for a flight from London. I even had to sleep on the floor of JFK airport on Christmas once. Flying isn’t always pretty. But taking a cross country, or even international, flight in coach doesn’t have to be all that bad. Especially if you follow some of these hacks to make sure your trip runs as smoothly as you can control.

Know where to sit
I used to love sitting at a window seat. It meant that I could lean up against the window & fall asleep without the scare of waking up on the chest of the stranger in the seat next to me. Lately, however, my feelings have changed. I feel claustrophobic in the window seat & want to constantly stretch my legs. My new favorite seat: the isle. Now I am able to get up as often as I want, even if the person in the middle is fast asleep. Know where you are the most comfortable. You are going to be there for a while, & it isn’t always possible to switch seats.

Wear the right gear
I need to be comfortable when I get on a plane. I am a jeans come off type of girl the second I get into my house so nothing is different about sitting in a seat for five hours. I always wear some sort of yoga pants or leggings on long flights. For a while my legs would even go numb while I was on planes, that’s where the proper footwear comes into play. Yes it’s easier to wear your heavy boots when packing, but don’t. Find a way to get them in the suitcase. Wear sneakers so your feet are supported and your blood flow keeps going.

Stay fueled
It’s easy while you are just sitting there to snack on the airplane chips & just have some soda they give you. Don’t! Always, always, always take the water they pass out. If you aren’t going to drink it now, you will later! Flying dehydrates your body, & replenishing your H2O can be a big time mood changer. Also, grab a sandwich or salad at one of the airport eateries for during your flight. It’s not fun when you land on a fun trip or vacation & all you can think about is needed to eat. Be prepared.

Have all your necessities at an arm’s reach
That book you may want to start for the fifth time, your tablet that has your latest Netflix binge on, & even your comfy sweater to keep you warm when the person next to you raises their air to full blast. Keep all of that under the chair in front of you so that no matter what you want, you can always grab it easily. The worst is being stuck on a plane with nothing to do.

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SoCal Driving Tips for Getting Around During the Holidays

Growing up in Connecticut my family spent a lot of time on the road. Family & friends lived in different cities & each weekend we were going somewhere to see them. But Connecticut is a pretty small state & there aren’t too many highways running through the second smallest state in the county. Even though my family took road trips to Florida pretty regularly, I still, naively only thought there was route 95 & 91. 95 spans the east coast, going from Maine to Key West. No need for other routes!

Then I moved away for college & realized, there’s a lot more freeways out there than my little self thought.

So naturally, my goal after graduating college was to move across the country to the land of pavement & interchanges… Los Angeles. Coming to the city with the worst freeways in the country was intimidating. I had had my car shipped out here & when I landed that first day, I remember being very adamant with my friend I was going to be living with that we go pick up my car. I wanted to have it right away so I could begin exploring my new home. Little did I know this adventure would take hours to drive 15 miles to & from the yard where my car had been dropped off at.

My first LA road fail.

November to December has the most traffic on the road compared to any other time of year. People are going to Holiday parties, shopping, dinners & spending time with family & friends. Driving around Los Angeles & Orange County can be a total nightmare any time of year, but during the holidays the nightmare is at a whole new level.

So I was inspired by the peer to peer car sharing brand, Turo, and their Los Angeles car rental team to come up with some of my favorite travel tips for the road in busy SoCal during the holidays. Soak them in, write them down, live by them… they will change your life.

Map it out

Before you leave, where are you going? Pull out your Google Maps & check out exactly where you are headed compared to where you are now. Sometimes it’s an easy straight shot where you hop on one freeway & get off a few miles away. Other times it may take 12 freeway changes to get from your house to your friend’s. (Yes, I am talking from experience.) Know where you are going, & if there are other options that you can change to when the road gets a little rocky.

Add 30 minutes

No matter what, leave early! Just last week I got in my car & my ride was supposed to take an hour & half. By the time I got to my location, it was nearly three hours later & I was a half hour late to work. Always expect it will take longer. No matter what.

Know which way traffic is flowing 

Some freeways are always busy, at all times. (Did someone just say the 10 freeway?) But others are very specific on which way the traffic flows at different times of the day. For instance, the freeway outside our house has constant traffic, going East only, from 3 pm to 7 pm… every single weekday. I don’t even go near the freeway in that directions during the afternoons. I know I will age just sitting there. It’s just like heading to Las Vegas on a holiday weekend, you know you will be sitting with the rest of SoCal on the 15.

Use a navigation app

There are a ton of app options for you to download straight to your phone that helps reroute you due to traffic changes. Use them. I am not going to lie, I didn’t trust these apps for a long time, but now that I use them, I don’t drive without them. Your arrival time updates as you drive, & they offer new routes when a traffic incident comes up. Which leads me to my final tip:

Don’t be afraid to venture off the freeway

Sometimes taking surface streets from one exit to another can save you from 45 minutes of just sitting in your car. Trust the app when they say a new route is faster. Get off the freeway, follow the annoying voice coming from your phone, lock your doors (I mean lets be real: safety first) & follow the train of cars that are using the app right along with you to save time.

Eating Through Portland

Anytime I go on vacation I am all for finding the best foods in town. I love trying local restaurants & finding foods that I can only find wherever I am. When we went to Florida we went to three local breweries & I was sure to try any specialty brew they had. Whenever I go home, I make sure to indulge in as much New Haven pizza I can get my hands on. But when we went to Portland last month, I didn’t know where to begin!

Portland is known for their craft beer, local Pinot Noir, & amazing food. It is a foodie’s paradise!

Between their hundreds of gourmet food trucks, their mom & pop coffee shops, & 5 star restaurants, everyone can find something they like in Portland, at any price.

The first time I went to Oregon I had no idea how much of an impact the food & beverage industry has there. The state has 216 craft breweries & is ranked 2nd for the amount of breweries per capita only behind Vermont. The unique & local ingredients allow chefs to truly experiment while supporting their local farmers & economy.

We were sure to try as many new things we could get our hands on & of course I need to share with you some of my favorites.

Breakfast: Babica Hen Cafe

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You can find this cute little breakfast joint right off of Route 99 in Dundee in a strip mall made for the wine lover. There is a cute little Inn, and a few tasting rooms right along this amazing cafe. I was a little nervous going in. We stopped here on our way to a day of wine tasting and I knew I would have to load up on carbs and protein so I wouldn’t get drunks from the wine. I was a little nervous that this place was too cutesy and the food would be less then filling. Boy was I wrong. All of our plates were jam packed with fresh vegetables, eggs, bacon & chorizo. Every meal was beyond perfect, & did I mention their blackberry mimosas were spectacular also??

Lunch: TILT

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Holy burger! My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach with this thing! (But don’t worry, I finished it off.) This monster is their Mad Andy. Topped with the usual toppings plus an egg, blue cheese, bacon & an onion ring. It was so delicious, but a little larger than I could handle. And to top it off I couldn’t leave without also trying their cheddar tots & original beer battered house fries. YUM! Next time on the list though: their tilted house fries, French fries with gravy & bacon on top! Yes please!

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Dinner: A Cena 

This Italian eatery is one of the best I have found on the west coast. After a day of wine tasting there is nothing better than soaking it all up with some amazing carbs, & with a lobster cream sauce on top of some homemade pasta I felt right at home. We started dinner with some fritto misto (fried calamari), a bowl of mixed olives & some fried artichokes. Wow. That right there was enough for dinner. But that is obviously not where we stopped. I had an amazingly creamy seared scallops over risotto while Chris had the dish A Cena is known for: Agnolotti. A mascarpone & corn ravioli topped with Maine lobster. AMAZING.

Ice Cream: Cool Moon 

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This small store front ice cream shop is located right in the heart of the Pearl District and offers 26 delicious flavors of ice cream. We tried, just about all of them but I had to go with the Thai Iced Tea. It was fabulous!

Beer: Rouge

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Rouge was the second brewery we stopped at on our last day there. I was so overloaded with food and drinks that I couldn’t even sit down and have a tasting, but that doesn’t mean we left empty handed. After Chris enjoyed his flight, and I finished my French fries (you didn’t really expect I had nothing did you?) we went inside and began picking what we were going to bring home. Beard Beer &the Marionberry Braggot were my two must haves. Basically I love anything with marionberries in it. Ice cream, pie, and now beer! And Beard Beer, well I will let you read about this beer yourself

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My Favorite Food at Disneyland

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When most people think of Disneyland they think rides, shows, and their favorite characters. Oh and standing in lines. My friends and I, however, we think about food. The Disney Resorts have some of the best food for hotels and definitely the best food for amusement parks. I am here today to tell you some of my favorite foods at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

1. Clam Chowder Bowl at Royal Street Veranda at New Orleans Square in Disneyland

This is my go to snack while waiting to watch Fantasmic! at night. We usually stay to watch the show & everyone is ready for a snack. So if it isn’t a churro or popcorn, we usually end up splitting a bread bowl & they are amazing. You can get gumbo also if you are adventurous but I like to stick with hearty clam chowder.

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2. Corn Dog at Corn Dog Castle at Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure

I literally die. I am not a big fan of greasy foods but the Disneyland Corn Dogs are no joke. Up until a few years ago there was only one spot you can grab these beauties… at the end of Main St. but now they have expanded to California Adventure also. Nothing is better than a Corn Dog & a Disneyland Margarita at the happiest place on earth!

3. Mac and Cheese at La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney

If you are just looking for a snack I suggest grabbing a Mac and Cheese off of the kids menu, but if you are ready for a full blown, cheesey meal of deliciousness… get the big one. So good!

4. Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney

Now that we live just 20 minutes from Downtown Disney there are days where I just run over to grab a sandwich at Earl. Now I am sure if you have been to Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood you have tried it there too but these are way better than Subway!

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5. Lobster Nachos at The Cove Bar on Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure

Recently the Cove Bar in DCA underwent a little bit of a remodel & expanded their seating but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait for a table. Get there early enough because if you try to get seats around World of Color show times, you will be waiting in a long line. But if you do get in… you need to have the Lobster Nachos… Amazing!!

6. Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes at the Plaza Inn on Main Street in Disneyland

Always a good go to, the fried chicken with mashed potatoes at the Plaza Inn is the perfect dinner date. And if you time it right, you can even catch a glimpse of the fireworks from your seats.

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