THE GREAT DEBATE // Hotel or Airbnb?

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When planning a new trip, one of the chief decisions you’ll likely need to make is where to call home throughout your travels (unless you’re some kind of sleep/shower-defying rebel ninja).  In my early adventure days, I was ’bout that hostel lyfe as much as the next guy.  But since the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental sites, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever to dream a bit bigger.  Now each time I travel, there’s the internal debate between staying in a hotel or renting a private home.  And while hotels are generally considered the more “convenient” alternative, I’ve found that rentals usually provide a lot more bang for your buck.

Setting aside any political leanings (because I don’t have any), I’m a big proponent of Airbnb and other vacation rental sites.  I’ve rented digs in domestic cities like New York, Austin, and Portland, as well in reaches as far as Croatia, France, and even Cambodia.  I’ve often found that for the same rate (or less) of the average hotel room, you’re afforded way more in terms of space, privacy, and amenities.  Take, for example, our stupid amazing lodgings from Tulum this past spring.  For less than a room in a nearby hotel, we had our own 2 br/2b HOUSE.  Sure, we had to drive to the beach, but whatever, we had our own POOL!

If money were no object, maybe I’d opt for hotels more often.  After all, when you’ve travelled hundreds or thousands of miles from home and are feeling jetlagged, sticky, and hungry, it’s pretttttty gratifying to wrap yourself up in a fluffy white bathrobe and order room service.  And without that handy concierge and housekeeping, you’ll have to fend for yourself in terms of getting around, doing laundry, finding food, making the bed…you get the drift.  However, there’s something about the more local experience of rentals that really can’t be paralleled.  I love the feeling of a “home” away from home that I don’t share with hundreds of strangers.  I like having a kitchen – or at least the OPTION of a kitchen (I might not cook but the full-size fridge sure is handy for beer).  If your host is super legit, you’ll often get the guidance and amenities that you’d find in a hotel (neighborhood tips, snacks, in some cases a MOTORBIKE – true story) thrown in fo’ FREE.  And above all, I relish in the challenge that comes with navigating new territory; the validation that comes from just getting somewhere and figuring it out.  Sure, I’ve gotten lost…a lot…but aren’t the best gems always off the beaten path?

What kind of traveller are you: A posh hotel dweller?  Or an Airbnb adventurer?

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Mesh swimsuit by Topshop. Lace top by Lovers + Friends. Vintage Levis shorts.  Black dress by Reformation.

(Somewhere Over the) RAINBOW SHELF

Just bought a great new bookshelf and made a little weekend project out of organizing it.  Here’s a section in progress – recognize any of your favorite titles?

And real talk to my book blogging homies – guys, how do you organize your shelves?  Is it by color, author, genre, series…? This rainbow theme make me SO HAPPY but I had to split some of the series up, which gives me anxiety…what if they miss each other??

Hope you’re all having an awesome week xx

Photo from my Instagram.  Let’s be insta-friends!

BOOK REVIEW // Dragonfly in Amber

The Vacation Mode Dragonfly in Amber

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones … about a love that transcends the boundaries of time … and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart … in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising … and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

Well, I did it.  I really did it – I made it through Dragonfly in Amber.  I don’t know why this book was such a challenge to finish (the “break” I took to binge-read The Selection Series might have had something to do with it) but all in all, it was really good.

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HOW TO // Make Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee Vacation Mode

Trying something new on the ole’ site this week – video! I love web videos so thought I’d try my hand at some content of my own, with the help of some badass friends.

In this vid I’ll walk you through the steps to making cold brew coffee.  Ah, cold brew…that smooth, rich, refreshing delight that blows your boring iced coffee out of the water.  Coffee that is cold-brewed has a lower acidity than coffee brewed with hot water, plus the taste is incredibly robust/awesome.  Ever wonder how your local café makes it so delicious? The trick is in the timing – and it honestly couldn’t be EASIER to do at home.  Here I’ll show you how to make the perfect cold brew in just 5 steps – mix it up, grab a book, and let the clock work its wonders.

It would mean the world to me if you clicked “play” and gave it a little watch.

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BOOK REVIEW // The One

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In true binge-reading fashion, I ordered The One overnight upon finishing The Elite and finished it in two days.  And in true …me (?) fashion, I feel the same way about it that I did about the previous two books in The Selection series (reviews here and here).  It was not, by any means, the most groundbreaking literature I’ll ever read, but was definitely entertaining, even addictively so.

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COBA Coolness

Coba Ruins

So much content captured from Mexico, so little time. The ruins of Coba are a quick, fun, easy daytrip from Tulum town, and truly spectacular to behold (if you’re into the whole ancient ruin thing).  Hop in your rental car, turn west and you should arrive in under an hour.  If not, you may have a worse sense of direction than me – there’s one convenient main road almost the entire journey, with clear signage pointing you along the way.

Tips:

– This is a no-brainer for most fully-functioning adults but when setting out from Tulum, make sure you have a full tank of gas.  If nothing but for the peace of mind…there are zero gas stations between Tulum and Coba.  We found ourselves running mysteriously low and had a very anxious last few miles.  There are stations in Tulum town and another right outside Coba.

– Don’t buy dreamcatchers or souvenirs in Tulum town. Wait for your Coba excursion day and stop at the many stands lining the highway along the way.  Beautiful housewares and other trinkets from Mayan artisans abound, with lower prices than what you’ll find in town.  They’re so legit, you might actually spot one of the ladies weaving dreamcatchers as you shop.

– Same goes for food: stop for lunch at one of the roadside spots set up along the way and enjoy a true local experience (not that they’re not catered to tourists – but you will probably be the only ones there). Our lunch spot of choice consisted of an outdoor grill, a couple of rickety tables, and some cute pooches to keep us company.   When I ordered a beer, the guy taking our order ran to the convenience store across the street to buy it. The food tasted as fresh as if they owners had raised the chicken, lettuce, and beans in their backyard – no info on if that’s actually true.

– Once you reach Coba, spring the extra few bucks to rent a bike or opt for one of the pedicabs they offer, otherwise you’ll spend a majority of the day hoofing it from site to site.  You may think you’re being cheap/lazy until you actually start out on the path and realize how truly vast the ancient city is.  It you come in the morning and have a few hours ahead of you, then a leisurely jungle hike probably makes for a nice day. However, our too-relaxed selves showed up with limited to spare before closing.  Our driver (cycler?) was very informative so we learned a lot about each individual ruin we visited.

– Climb the pyramid.  Coba is one of the only Mayan ruins that you can still climb.  Just do it – you can clock your cardio to justify extra margs later, and the 360-degree view of the surrounding jungle is unmissable.

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Dress by Nasty Gal.  Teva sandals.

BOOK REVIEW // The Elite

I’m having a tough time recapping the plot of The Elite in my own words…I feel like the second book in a series always contains lots of plot progression and deepening intrigue that’s a bit challenging to pin down.  Like, a lot HAPPENS, but even more gets saved for the author’s show-stopping third or fourth (or seventh, in JK Rowling’s case) (or neverth, or in George RR Martin’s case) finale.  So for the sake of efficiency, here’s the summary from Goodreads:

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