It’s been a year since I started running. A year of reflection. Of change.
So much has happened since the last time I visited Bowen Island and Nectar Yoga B&B that it was like an out of body experience returning last month. Remembering how I felt when we were there last year and being present during our recent visit made it feel like time was running parallel. Retracing the same steps I’d taken before, walking into the beautiful cabin and yoga dome, reliving the emotions from a year ago while appreciating the way I now felt… View Post
It’s finally SPRING! And that means longer days, warmer weather, aaaaaaand Summer isn’t too far away! Whether you’re planning a beach- y holiday or are just looking for some cute pieces for the warm months ahead, this post is all about the things to help you make the most of sunny days. So grab the SPF and your favourite pair of sunnies, it just gets better from here!
First up: swim suit. Pretty much a staple when it comes to Summer and a necessity when you’re hopping on a plane to sit on a beautiful beach somewhere. This peachy suit is a 2- piece from The Secret Closet, perfect if you aren’t a fan of one- pieces but still like a little extra coverage. And for bikini lovers like me, you’ll also like that the strap is removable and the bottom is reversible (this one has a pretty floral print on the other side) and can be rolled down if you like a lower- lying bikini bottom. Also: anything with a little bit of sparkle makes you feel kind of like a mermaid, and how can you not have fun when you’re channeling your inner Ariel? 😉 You can visit The Secret Closet owner, Nicole, in Maple Ridge to try on the swim suits so you find one that’s the perfect fit and style- the hardest part is narrowing down all the cute choices!
Next up: beach essentials. Think cover up, towel, and bag. For travel, I think anything with a zipper is a good option to keep your personal belongings like wallet and travel documents safe. This striped beauty is my go- to for everyday and has doubled as a carry- all when I go away for a few days. If you’re in charge of plane tickets and passports when it comes to vacations, a passport holder is a great idea to help keep everything together and organized. The one below is made by Pecan Tree Creations, and there are a few options available including holders for up to 6 passports, so if you’re travelling with the whole family you can keep everyone’s passports and documents all together. It has an elastic closure to keep everything secure and you can pick from several pretty prints (how perfect would this be to give as a grad gift with some money tucked inside for someone you know planning a post- grad trip?).
If you like to cover up while you hunt down the perfect beach- side ice cream cone, there are so many cute options and I’ve shared two completely different ones below. The first is this pretty cover up from Jammy and Co that doubles as a dress when you wear a slip underneath. It’s lightweight and perfect if you want a light layer over top your swim suit, or want something that serves double- duty when you travel and saves on packing space. I love that it goes with anything and you can take it from beach to dinner with a quick change out of your swim suit and into a light layer underneath (they also make cute options in kids sizes if you’re looking for something for your little lady- how cute would twinning at the beach be?!).
If you’re like me and love a good towel for the beach, or want a plush one to take on vacation, this wearable poncho towel from LOLL is a great option. Throw it over your other beach layers to stay warm with the ocean breeze, use it dry off, or use it to change in and out of your swim suit underneath. There’s a zip on both sides or pop it on and off over your head. I love how soft and thick it is- plus the hood is a nice added bonus to keep warm. Whether you lie on it to soak up some sun, or throw it over your bathing suit it’s great for the pool and beach (think walking to and from the beach/ pool at a hotel on vacation). If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that walking on deck while the ship is moving can make for an extra cool breeze and this would be perfect to stay warm, especially for those late- night dips in the pool. 😉 Also- how perfect would this be to curl up in for a fresh air nap? There are several designs available, including Turkish towel options and thick terry towels like this one. Whether for the beach, to take to a sunny vacation spot, or for Summers spent at home, this is a towel I’m glad to have discovered. Now I just need Summer to hurry up and get here!
OK, last thing I want to mention: I feel like vacations are an excuse to buy a few cute outfits. 😉 Or if you’re staying close to home this Summer, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about your warm weather wardrobe. You can’t beat a classic t- shirt, and the great thing is you can wear them year- round. Hawaii holds a special place in my heart and I love Aloha Kai’s line of apparel inspired by the Islands. This ‘You Had Me At Aloha’ tee goes with everything and is super soft and comfortable. Wear it with jeans until it really warms up or pair with shorts or cute skirt (might have to try this with a pretty tulle number as well 😉 ) … And then there’s this pineapple skirt from Lone Wolf Boutique– I don’t think it gets more fun than this! (I also can’t wait to wear this skirt with my swim suits this Summer). Owner Stephanie and I actually went to high school together and I was so excited to get to include her in this post (she’s also got a watermelon print skirt I’ve got my eye on that’s super cute). This outfit just makes me smile and I think is a great example of some of the fun things you can work into your Summer wardrobe. And seriously- just try not to love that pineapple print. Just try. It’s just plain fun and that to me is what Summer/ vacation and the clothes that come with it are all about.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for the warm weather ahead! BC in the Summer can’t be beat and for those of you lucky enough to be heading on a vacation this year, I hope you enjoy a yummy cocktail on the beach for me. Now it’s just a waiting game until the hot days of Summer get here!
A few weeks back I shared 5 reasons why I think we all need a girls getaway every once in a while (see that post here). Aside from the obvious (you just plain deserve it!), it can be so refreshing and help you recharge. It’s also a chance for you to spend some quality time with friends and enjoy a glass of wine (or a few! 😉 ) and do whatever you want when you want. Doesn’t that sound amazing?! Oh the things we appreciate so much more after kids…!
One of the amazing women I know, my friend Kate, wanted to celebrate her birthday surrounded by a few of her favourite gals and she planned a 2- night getaway on Bowen Island so we could all get away and enjoy ourselves. And did we ever!!! This was my first time going to Bowen and I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful it was and how it was amazing to feel so removed from our busy lives, but only be a 15 minute ferry ride from Vancouver! It’s called beautiful British Columbia for a reason folks, and Bowen Island- plus the scenery to and from- was a reminder of how easy it can be to take this place we call home for granted. We’re blessed living here in the West Coast in all this natural beauty.
We had an amazing time and I’m sharing a little about our getaway below including where we stayed and what we did- and how we got there, just wait and see!- see below and be prepared to fall in love with Bowen Island…
Getting to Bowen you take a 15 minute ferry ride from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver. Just the view from the ferry terminal is pretty amazing and once you’re loaded & on your way, the views just get better. It’s too bad it’s only a 15 minute ferry ride!
Packing up 5 women for 2 days, you wouldn’t think we’d have that much stuff to bring with us. Oh but we did…!!! I had a beautiful Ford F- 150 at my disposal for the week thanks to Ford Canada (more on that coming soon) and we had it loaded (see below). It was actually just plain funny how much stuff we packed for 2 days, but hey- we made it count! Even though I don’t usually offer to be the driver for things like this, it was so much fun to drive that truck that I took the opportunity to play chauffeur. Let’s just say I really didn’t want to give it back when we got home. It was spacious and comfortable even with all 5 of us and some bags inside. It was loaded with features including cooled seats and a moonroof, which were appreciated in the Summer heat, and I loved how this truck practically purred when I drove it. We hooked up a phone and one of the ladies played DJ as we drove to the ferry terminal. Such a great start to the trip!
… try not to laugh too hard! 😉
Once we got to Bowen, it was a 30 second drive off the ferry (seriously!) to our home away from home. We stayed in The Summer House at the Union Steamship Marina and it was beautiful. The Summer House overlooks the marina and beach and is close to everything from restaurants & cafes to a grocery store, shopping, and fun things to do (like paddle boarding & kayaking!). It’s walking distance to most things and we enjoyed relaxing on the patio in the evenings. I loved cozying up in a bed with a window at the end overlooking the garden- such a cool place to fall asleep at night!
While we were on Bowen we enjoyed time at the beach, shopping, relaxing, and- my favourite!- paddle boarding. We tried out several of the restaurants and cafes while we were there including Tuscany Restaurant, The Snug Cafe, and Artisan Eats and snooped around Artisan Square for some locally made art and other goodies. Bowen is the perfect place to unwind and we definitely soaked in every blissful minute of it. Without our kids, we were able to take our time, do what we wanted whenever we felt like it (throwback to life pre- kids!), and chat without constant interruption. There was something special for each of us about this trip, and I came home reflecting on some amazing times & memories made. Just what I’d been hoping for.
The first morning we were there I woke up early and decided to go for a walk around the marina. It was so beautiful and tranquil and was the alone time I had been craving. I just sat on the beach shooting photos and enjoying my surroundings. Simple pleasures. Paddle boarding was definitely the highlight of the trip for me (surprise, surprise!) and we rented ours for 2 hours from Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. I didn’t have my phone on me, so I sadly didn’t snap any photos, but I’d absolutely recommend it (or rent a kayak instead) to enjoy the beauty of Bowen from the water. And it wouldn’t be a girls trip without wine (and a few other grown- up sips!) and our fridge was stocked with quite the variety. We all took turns serving up drinks and loved indulging in some kid- free days and evenings with a tasty beverage in hand (a big thank you to Trading Post Brewing for sending me to Bowen with some of their delicious 1827 Helles Lager & Otis Farmhouse Rye IPA- if you enjoy craft beer like I do, make sure you find them in Langley!).
This little getaway left me feeling refreshed and so thankful for the lovely ladies I got to share the experience with. To my friend Kate, who made this whole amazing getaway possible, thank you. You’ll never know how much this time on Bowen meant to me. I’ll be holding some special memories close to my heart.
Until next time Bowen, thanks for being such a blast!
Thank you to Trading Post Brewing and Ford Canada for coming along on the trip!
Trading Post Brewing is based in Langley, BC and crafts a variety of small- batch beers that offer inventive flavours made from quality ingredients. Visit their website for location info, beer selection & more
It’s official: Summer is here! And with it comes the scramble to figure out what to do and where to go.
Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart (or both!) it’s hard to think of childhood without Disney. If Disneyland is a ‘been there, done that’ scenario for your family, but the kiddos haven’t had their fill (do I even need to mention Frozen???) why not consider combining a cruise vacation with the mouse?
We asked our travel expert Gary Gallant to tell us more about Disney Cruises. Here’s what he had to say…
Have you thought of this unique option for your family holiday? A Disney Cruise is a perfect destination for
you and your family to enjoy!
A Disney Cruise is just like putting a Disney
Park on a ship and then sailing away.
And there is something for all ages.
If you have had the chance to visit one of the Disney Parks around the
world, you know they always do things differently, and give much more than
expected. Everything is bigger and
brighter with Disney! You will see the
same on the Disney ships; they are definitely not your average cruise, and they
are a destination in themselves.
Throughout the cruise, Minnie and Mickey will make their rounds, along with all
your other favorite Disney characters. Their
aim is to delight all ages. The kids in
the family will get at least as much value from the cruise as the adults will.
Cruise Line has 4 ships. The Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and
the newest: Disney Fantasy. Disney sails around Europe and Alaska during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, with the Fantasy sailing the Caribbean year
During the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons Disney sails to the Bahamas and Caribbean from popular ports such as Port Canaveral, Miami, Galveston, and San Juan. Itineraries usually
include a day at their private paradise island, Castaway Cay in the
Bahamas. And over the holiday season is
one of the most magical times to cruise with them into the sun. Consider a stop-over before or after the
cruise at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This will make the whole vacation just that
much more enchanted.
Don’t forget that in addition to the
marvelous ship experience, you will be exploring exciting ports of call to make
this a completely wonderful memory. For
these warm sunny destinations, pack appropriately. Flip-flops, sun glasses, sunscreen, t-shirts, and shorts are the order of the day.
For those not seeking hot climates, The
Disney Wonder sails to Alaska, sailing out of Vancouver again this Alaska season, running from May until September. For local Vancouverites this means no airfare required to have the Disney experience!
As with other premium cruise lines, Disney ships
offer varied dining options: Lumiere’s, Triton’s, Royal Court, Royal
Palace, Parrot Cay, and Topsider’s Buffet to name a few. Activities abound, including: original
Broadway-style Disney stage shows, movies under the stars, character meet ‘n greets, exclusive kids clubs, family clubs, pools, and AquaDuck,
the only water-coaster at sea! Top this
off with world-class adult amenities such as Quiet Cove adult-only pool, a full-service
spa, and Palo adult-only dining to name a few, and Mom & Dad will find a way to enjoy themselves too. You will find features unique only to Disney,
and they are always adding to and improving to their existing services and activities. The magic is in the details!
When you plan a Disney Cruise getaway
you know you are giving the very best to your family. There will be so many enchanted moments to
remember, they will last forever. It
couldn’t get more magical!
To see Gary’s other family- friendly travel advice for TPB, click here.
Gary is a Cruise & Resort Professional with
Expedia CruiseShipCenters, and has been in the industry for 14 years. His passions are people & travel.
If you would like to learn more about family- friendly travel options, check out his website or contact him:
With everyone counting down the days to the Summer Holidays, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most of this time of year. For many families travelling is a favourite activity, but it can add up fast. So I spoke to one of my favourite (and most well- travelled!) gal pals about how she and her husband travel on a budget. A big thanks to Christina Neufeld for contributing this post!
A Frugal Traveller’s Guide
By Christina Neufeld
If you’re anything like me
you’re either on vacation or dreaming of your next getaway. Many of us share the desire to travel more
often but think we can’t afford it. This is exactly what I thought until I realized
that the best way to travel more is to travel cheaper. Cheaper doesn’t have to
mean that you sacrifice on the experience though! Here are my top tips to help
you plan your next trip on a budget:
Book in Advance
It’s been said many times,
but the earlier you book the more chance you have of saving money. Many
companies offer early bird discounts and when there are different price points
it’s usually the cheapest tickets that go first. It’s true that there can be
great last minute discounts if you are flexible on your travel dates and
destination, but if you have specific dates and a location in mind it’s best to
book as early as you can.
Explore Alternative Types of Accommodation
One of our favourite Air BnBs in Untermammergau, Germany
In general, the more
flexible you are, the more potential for saving money on your trip. This is
especially true for accommodations as there are a variety of budget options
available. Here are my suggestions for alternative accommodations.
Our favourite hostel in Feidkirch, Austria
Air BnB – This is my personal favorite because you
can find an apartment/house rental to fit any budget, even for one night. I
have stayed in some beautiful apartments for a steal! This is also a great
option for families because you can rent a unit with lots of space and a full
kitchen. Always be sure to read the reviews before you book.
Hostels – In some countries these are mainly for
young backpackers but in other places elderly travelers and families are quite
Staying just outside of the normal Tourist/ Downtown Area – You can use public transit to get downtown and save a bundle.
– In Europe these are common and include more basic accommodations at a
Our beautiful hostel
in Feldkirch, Austria
Hotwire/ Priceline – Name your price and submit your bid.
Look for Inexpensive and Free Activities
Park Guell is a beautiful- and free!- place to visit in Barcelona, Spain
The main draw for many destinations
is the attractions it has to offer and these often come at a high price. Of
course you don’t want to miss out on major attractions but you can factor in
some savings as well with these options:
Pay What You Want Tours – Most large cities offer
these tours which are usually very well done and give you the flexibility to
pay what you think it’s worth.
Free Museum Days/ Discount Days – Sometimes these
discounts apply only to residents of the area, so read carefully.
Groupon/ Living Social/ Other Daily Deals – It can pay off
to sign up a few weeks before and watch the deals, but be sure to read the fine
print to make sure you will be able to use it on your trip.
Parks and Natural Attractions – Often free or very
Paella is delicious & common in Spain
Some destinations are more
expensive than others, but no matter where you go eating out for 3 meals a day
can add up quick! My husband and I are both foodies and love eating delicious
meals when we travel. You too can enjoy fresh and tasty meals at a budget price
using these tips:
Street Markets – These are great for finding freshly
prepared foods which you can then take away to a nearby park for a picnic.
Picnics are my favorite way of saving money when travelling. Not only are they
affordable but you can sprawl out on the grass to rest your tired feet and
people watch. If you don’t have a market nearby try the grocery store for your
Delicious Paella is common in Spain
Street Food/ Vendors – Most
cities/ countries have their own type of cheap street food which is readily available and particular to that region and usually very delicious.
Specials – In some places such as Spain you can take
advantage of multi- course meals for a low price. These specials are usually
posted on a chalkboard or you can ask your server. If you can eat a large lunch
in the mid-afternoon you may not need to spend as much on dinner.
Eat Where the Locals Do – Don’t be afraid to step
away from restaurant chains and try some of the
local cuisine. It’s usually
much more affordable and tastier than the tourist filled chains. Just be
that you choose clean and reputable establishments as standards vary by
Cook Your Own – Having a kitchen available to use
can be a great way to save money.
Overall the best way to
save money is to plan out your budget before you travel, make sure it’s
reasonable, and then stick to it. Once you know how much you have to spend you
can splurge on what matters to you and cut back in other areas that are less important.
Plan in advance so that once you’re on vacation you can enjoy it without having
to worry about the cost.
Christina Neufeld is a
lover of all things travel. She was bitten by the travel bug at a young age and
has made it her goal to see as much of the world as possible. So far she has
visited 22 countries and lived in 3. She currently lives in BC with her husband Chad. You can follow along with her adventures at www.travelwhereyouare.com where she shares travel tips and advice. Christina also loves
travel planning and can help you plan your next trip at www.merakiitineraries.com
Title Image Source: Here And There
Photos courtesy of Christina Neufeld