California Love

I’m asked all the time, “where is your favourite place to travel?”. My answer is always California. I’ve never been anywhere more vibrant. It has palm trees (my favourite), ocean, the best shopping, amazing restaurants, and ultimately it just has everything I could want. Take a look at some of my favourite moments!

Hearst Castle                              Photo by: Maria McCollum

This is one of the two pools at Hearst Castle near San Simeon. It was built in 1947 and is known as “La Cuesta Encantada” or  “Enchanted Hill”. It’s such a magical place to be, it’s on top of a hill, obviously, and on a clear day the view is incredible! I’d highly recommend a visit.

Get tickets and read more here.


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Pacific Coast (PAC) Highway                                      Photo by: Maria McCollum

Read my post on road trips to find out more about my vacation in California. We drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I mention how the drive was spectacular, here’s a picture of just how spectacular.

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Beverly Hills                                          Photo by: Maria McCollum

Palm trees. Beverly Hills. Enough said.

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San Francisco                                            Photo by: Maria McCollum

This was the stunning view from the boat in the San Fransisco bay.

Hollywood Walk of Fame                                    Photo by: Maria McCollum

If you’re ever in LA and you don’t know what to do, Hollywood is always buzzing and full of entertainment. For more information on the Hollywood Walk of Fame click here.

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Santa Monica Beach                                         Photo by: Maria McCollum

Santa Monica is definitely a beautiful beach. However the only negative thing about it is that it’s packed with tourists and if you’re looking to ride the perfect wave this is not the beach for you. If you feel like being a cheesy tourist and take tons of photos of the ferris wheel at the Pier (like me), then it’s perfect!

Rodeo Drive                                                   Photo by: Maria McCollum

That’s right, 90210. The shopping centre of LA. You never know what, or who, you’ll see here. I just happened to see Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner. Even if your budget can’t support a shopping spree, it’s a beautiful area to wander and get a feel for the LA culture.


Carry-On Dos and Don’ts

The first thing to do when you’re thinking about your carry-on(s) is to base it off of how long you’re going. If I’m leaving for a week I’ll take a large purse, but if I’m going for any longer than that I’ll take a carry-on case and purse. If you take a carry-on case this is a great way to save space in your checked suitcase. See my article on overpacking for more tips on saving space in your checked suitcase.

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  • Place bulkier/heavier items, such as jackets, sweaters, shoes, in your carry-on case to reduce weight from checked luggage and free up space
  • Put expensive/sentimental items in your carry-on
  • Always put cosmetics, that you’re bringing on-board, in a clear plastic zip-lock bag
  • Bring things to do! Staying entertained makes time go by so much faster
  • Bring extra socks, underwear, one extra outfit at least! – Lost luggage is not a good situation but if you have enough to survive for another day it’ll help out a lot! It sounds weird saying “bring underwear” but it’s a life saver if your case ends up in Amsterdam instead of Barcelona (yes, it happened)
  • Bring any prescriptions for medication, to prove that you really need it



  • Exceed the liquid limit (varies on country, do your research)
  • Bring alcohol, weapons, anything illegal
  • Basically just follow the law!
  • Put things you’ll need on the plane in your case, fit them inside your purse to put under the seat in front of you

Happy travelling!



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We’ve all been in this situation. You’re literally sitting on your case to make it close, and I’ll admit I still find myself doing this but I have gotten better. In this post I’ll share how I avoid overpacking!

Overpacking can get pretty bad, like having to buy an extra suitcase for coming home… or 2. When you’re packing for your trip think about if you’ll be buying a lot when you’re there because, chances are, if you’re buying new cute clothes from a foreign country you’re going to wear them instead of what you brought. I only bring things I know for sure that I’ll wear. I also bring things, strategically, that take up space and I can just throw out. For some reason no matter what, even if I don’t buy anything, I always find it more difficult packing coming home than leaving. So I leave extra space. My suitcase expands so I make sure I don’t expand it on the way, this way I’ll definitely have an extra 2 inches of space for coming home. Here’s a general list of clothes that I take (this varies depending on where I’m travelling and how long):

  • one pair of sweatpants
  • two sweaters
  • one pair of light jeans/shorts
  • one pair of dark jeans/shorts
  • two-three pairs of leggings
  • four-six t-shirts
  • seven pairs of socks (this is the one item you should always take more than you need)
  • two-four bikinis
  • one-two dresses (only if I know I need them)
  • one-two jackets
  • two-three pairs of shoes (including travel shoes)

I try to limit the amount of bulk, so sweaters, sweatpants, and jeans all take up a lot of space and are heavy, whereas t-shirts don’t. Now on to my tips and tricks:

  • if I know I’m going on a trip I save just enough product of my toiletries in their bottles so that I can use them and then throw them out, this makes so much space in your case!
  • roll your clothes, such a space saver
  • for ease of travel put all the heavy items at the bottom of your case (not under everything, if you have your case standing tall the items will be at the bottom), I hate when my case is always falling over at the airport and this prevents it
  • if you’re taking shoes in your case stuff them with socks, this will keep their shape

I hope you guys will find these tips helpful and you don’t need to sit on your case anymore!

The Benefit on Communities from Travelling

A representation of community

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“The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.” -Albert Schweitzer

In order to have a good community we must have solidarity and for that to happen people must understand each other. Learning about other cultures from books or the internet is great, but actually going to another country and learning first hand how the people live is how you get a true understanding. This allows people to respect and even connect with other cultures.

Community is about [loving our neighbour. John Paul II said that since solidarity is a virtue, we demonstrate “a firm and preserving determination to commit oneself to the common good”] (google). But how can we love our neighbour if we don’t even know or understand them? To get a true sense of community in other countries it’s essential to travel. This doesn’t mean building a school in Africa, or moving there. But hey, if you’d want to do that then that’s even better! It just means stepping outside of this first world bubble and seeing what another’s life is like. Having interreligious dialogue is one big step to understanding the life of another. Religion is the main focus of life in countries such as Thailand, Nepal, and India. This doesn’t mean converting to their religion, it means taking time to learn about it in order to understand it. The best way to learn is to travel!

By travelling you are making communities and, subsequently, the world a better place!

Dressing for Travelling


I cannot stress this enough. Wear. Layers. You never know how hot or cold the plane, train, boat, or whatever method you choose, will be. You also want to be as comfortable as possible. In one of my last posts I explain how I always take a blanket on the plane. I’ll also be doing a post about all the things I put in my carry-on! But for now, how to dress? Keep on reading and you’ll find out.


Layers. Layers. Layers. I usually wear a comfortable sports bra, leggings/sweatpants, a t-shirt, a flannel shirt or something long sleeve, and/or a sweater, just incase. If I feel like making an effort to elevate my outfit I’ll wear a hat, sunglasses, or any other accessories that I feel like.

This is what one of my outfits would look like:

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I always wear comfortable shoes. My feet usually get sore and tired even if I’m not walking a lot, I think it’s because of the pressure on the plane but I could be wrong. Nike Roshes are a very good choice (shown below).

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Nike Roshes                              Photo:

Keep in mind that you have to wear the shoes after the flight, too. On a plane your feet swell and if your shoes fit tight it may make them more sore or you may be uncomfortable.

TIP: Don’t wear brand new shoes, break them in before travelling to find out how comfortable they are.

Be comfortable. Looks are not everything when it comes to travelling!

Staying Fit and Healthy on Vacation!

Working out in your hotel room!

Staying healthy on vacation can be challenging. One way to help is by doing a quick workout in your hotel room whenever you have time. I’d suggest doing it first thing when you wake up because chances are you’ll be exhausted at the end of the day. Doing it before breakfast is what I normally try to do. You’ll be able to enjoy the treats offered on vacation without worrying too much about weight gain or losing muscle. Because let’s face it, being on vacation, you’ll want to be able to eat what you want and when you want.

Squeezing in an early morning workout near Edinburgh in Scotland. Fitness takes no rest. Photo by: Maria McCollum

For ideas, check out Nerd Fitness’ hotel room workout!

Other alternatives

Here are some other ways to be healthy:

  • forget the elevator, take the stairs
  • go on a hike to explore your destination
  • if in a tropical location, go for a run on the beach, your thighs will be on fire thanks to the sand!
  • swimming is a great form of exercise!
  • Dance! Explore if there are events in your resort or in your hotel. You’ll have a blast and dance those calories away.
  • Walk instead of buses, or other methods of public transport. You’ll see more of your destination, save money, and stay fit! It’s a win-win-win!
  • Choose what you splurge on. This one makes a HUGE difference. I would recommend eating healthy for two out of three meals on vacation, and try to limit but you don’t have to exclude unhealthy snacks. Enjoy yourself, within reason.

Ultimately, you know how much you value your fitness. If it is very important to you then you will make time and put in effort. If not, that’s okay too. Your vacation is your time away from the busy every day life and it’s important to enjoy it. Staying healthy is something that makes me happy. This is why I try to stay healthy. It’s all about what makes YOU happy.

Why You Should Travel


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I’ve talked about how to travel, and I’ve touched upon where, but why? “I don’t know what my calling is, but I want to be here for a bigger reason. I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.” – Will Smith. I believe this quote is one to live by. But how can someone be one of the greatest people who have ever lived without seeing the world? This question leads me to another of my favourite quotes “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine. In today’s society it is absolutely essential to travel. Learning about cultures, seeing new architecture, and eating different cuisine.

*These are my opinions and disagreeing with them is perfectly fine. Living in one place for your whole life is not crazy. Never taking a vacation, in my opinion, is slightly crazy. Get a passport, get on a plane, or get in the car, or a boat, and go somewhere. Cheap options are always available. Saying you don’t have enough time is no excuse. You have the same amount of time as everyone else who has ever lived. You may find your “bigger reason”. Travelling opens up your eyes to the world. The world truly is at your fingertips and honestly you find yourself. There is no better way to get to know yourself than when you’re travelling. You’re out of your daily routine, and hopefully you don’t stress while away. Home is always there. It’s not leaving any time soon, but you can. It’ll be there when you get back, and it’ll seem better than ever. One of my favourite feelings is getting back after a vacation and feeling like you need a vacation. It makes me feel like I really experienced something. It makes me a better person and I focus on what’s really important in life. So go out and read more of this wonderful book we call the world. The places you see may and your experiences may just change your life.