This post is almost two months in the making. Yikes. Things have been rather busy in the Cannon house, but I would be remiss to skip out on a write up of our last adventure. So let’s talk logistics… For our most recent vacation, we were all set on going to Paris, however we heard about an option to do an extended layover in Iceland on our way over there. This is affectionately referred to as “#MyStopover” on Icelandair and it allows for a layover of up to 7 days with no extra cost to your ticket. Cool right?
We flew into Reykjavik and spent most of our time on the Golden Circle and southern portion of Iceland. Renting a car and driving ourselves was very clutch, allowing us to stop when/where we wanted although the price of car rentals (and almost everything in Iceland) is high. The guide we used for the drive is here.
Now for the weather. We went the last weekend of April and when we checked, we saw it was going to be upper 30’s to low 40’s. No big deal for the Utahns. Welllll it was windy. Very windy. And it must be like this often because the rental car places all say to hold your car door when you open to make sure it doesn’t swing and whatever is beside your car.
As far as the sights go, I am not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I can tell you that Iceland’s terrain was a surprise. As you can see, it’s basically an incredible waterfall tour. I’d like to go back both in the winter and the summer to see how different it is at other times. Here are some of the pictures and videos from #MyStopover . Definitely can’t wait to go back to Iceland!
Stay tuned for a post outlining the rest of our trip to Paris.
As someone who just got off her 79th flight this *year* a few hours ago (yes it is April 12, and I do mean since January 1), I certainly know a thing or two about packing a suitcase. It can be a little different packing for work-related trips compared to vacations but overall, similar principles still apply. So let’s talk about the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip.
Packing cubes were honestly something I thought was totally unnecessary for a long time. It wasn’t until I was in Hawaii for 8 days with my friends in October and my friend Stephanie was using them that I realized it was something I needed to try. On that trip, I succeeded in not checking a bag, however my carryon was so stuffed that the second I unzipped my bag there was practically stuff everywhere in an explosion of bathing suits, underwear, dresses and toiletries. Not fun. And also not easy to find that one thing that I needed that was definitely at the bottom of the big ol’ pile.
This is where packing cubes come in. For the trip we just took to Hawaii last week, I was able to organize so much better. For this trip which was vacation, I had a cube for each: bathing suits, underwear/socks/bras, workout clothes, during the day clothes, and nice clothes. However when I travel for work, my cubes are slightly different: underwear/socks/bras/panty hose, workout clothes, non-work clothes, and work clothes.
One of my FAVORITE parts about using packing cubes is when I am going on vacation and I am not sure the size of the suitcase I am going to be taking…
Has this ever happened to you before… you figure out everything you are bringing, fold it up all nice and neat in your suitcase only to realize that you aren’t going to fit it all in? Then you have to unpack everything to move to a larger suitcase and inevitably the nice, neat piles you folded are now *not* in nice, neat piles anymore?
Your problem is now solved with packing cubes. Once everything is packed in the cubes you can just arrange the packing cubes in your suitcase, if they don’t fit, it takes less than 30 seconds and zero re-folding to move to a different suitcase. Eliminate that frustration, get packing cubes. I promise that using them is the best way to pack your suitcase. The kind that I have are currently $25.99 on Amazon so you aren’t looking at breaking the bank, but you certainly will be eliminating the frustration.
2. Pack with a list
Ok so going for full transparency, I do not utilize lists for my business trips. I practically pack the same thing over and over for these so it would be a bit of a waste. However, vacations are different so I absolutely use lists here. And unless you travel regularly, they really will be helpful for you as well.
Why spend time making a list when you could be spending that time packing? Well it will help you really think of everything. I have certainly been guilty of forgetting important things like socks, toothpaste, or my charger because I needed to charge up but I didn’t unplug it from the wall when I left on my early morning flight. And it’s not like you can’t purchase these things once you reach your destination, but this is taking valuable time out of your vacation.
The other important thing about lists is it will help you think of the things that you should bring that you don’t normally interact with on a day-to-day basis. For example, I have a GoPro that I don’t bring with me on work trips but I often bring it on vacation. Since I don’t see the GoPro regularly, it’s easy to forget about it when I am packing for vacation, especially if I am packing in a crunch.
3. Wrinkle-free clothing
People often argue about whether or not you should roll or fold the items in your suitcase to avoid looking like a hot mess when you arrive at your destination or spending an hour ironing everything. My favorite solution is to consider the items that I am packing and how wrinkle-prone they are and to just pack the items that are less likely to wrinkle during the trip. Side note: This maybe because I dislike ironing unless it involves me throwing something in the dryer, haha. If you are deciding between two shirts and you know that one of them will require ironing and one won’t, just pack the wrinkle free option!
4. Consider the weight and size of the items that you are packing
I am heading to Iceland in a few weeks and it will be colder there than it is where I live. Instead of packing my winter coat, I will be bringing it on the plane with me. My coat is big and it would take up too much space if I put it in my suitcase.
*As a reminder the FAA limits the number of items you can carry onto a plane to two; a carryon that fits in the overhead compartment like a roller board bag and a personal item such as a purse that fits underneath your seat.*
FAA restrictions aside, most airlines don’t give you a hard time about things like jackets or pillows, and these things are not [usually] included in your two item limit.
You should also consider the weight of the items that you are packing. For example, my husband wanted to bring his Carolina Blue Nikes on our trip to Hawaii since the Heels were in the Final Four (and won the NCAA championship…go Heels!). These shoes are heavyyyyy. Much heavier than his sandals that he was also bringing to Hawaii. He opted to wear these shoes, rather than his sandals onto the plane to save weight in the suitcase.
5. Think about security lines and restrictions
If you are just bringing a carryon on your next flight and you do not have TSA pre-check, or you are traveling through an airport that is not TSA pre-check capable, consider the security restrictions BEFORE you leave for the airport. The best way to pack your suitcase is to keep your liquids, gels, or aerosols (in your 3-1-1) bag in an outside pocket or on the very top of your suitcase. This will absolutely help you speed through security as you won’t have to dig for your bag of liquids and hold up the line behind you.
If you travel even a few times a year, I would certainly recommend looking into TSA pre-check. It is very nice not to have to go through the scanners, take your shoes off, or remove your computer or 3-1-1 liquids from your bag. It’s not that expensive and it is good for 5 years. It is also covered as part of some travel credit card benefits, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Hopefully these 5 tips helped you learn the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip. Do you have any pointers from your own travel experience? I would love to hear them in the comments! Also, for more travel-tips be sure to subscribe to my list so you won’t miss a post!
After snagging two < $700 trips to Europe in less than six months, I have gotten a lot of questions about how to find the best flight deals. There are various loyalty programs for airlines and hotels as well as credit cards that you can utilize and I will write another post about those ways at some point. However, now I want to focus on the traveler who wants to know how to find the best flight deals without miles, credit card points, or loyalty status.
There are two ways that you can go about planning your travel when looking for deals…
1) Have set days and a flexible destination
2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates
Now if you have both set travel days and a set travel destination, you can find several flight trackers that will let you know if/when the price drops. But for now, back to the deal finding.
1) Have set days and a flexible travel destination.
So you requested your vacation a year in advance and it’s something that cannot be changed? This is largely our situation when I am planning on going on vacations with my husband since he is a surgery resident and their vacation dates are planned up to 16 months in advance.
Your best friend in this situation is Google Flights. If you haven’t used Google Flights before, you are really missing out. You can read more about Google Flights here.
With fixed dates, I like to set my departing airport and dates in Google Flights and then for the destination you can put “Europe” or “South America”. From there you can peruse the destinations to see what comes up for you and your particular dates. This is exactly how we decided we were going to Paris because the dates we had for vacation were already set and the flight prices on those days were cheap.
Now let’s review the other scenario that you might have and how to find the best flight deals…
2) Have a set destination and flexible travel dates
Have you been dreaming of a trip to Hawaii? London? Tokyo? For people with more flexible dates but with a great idea where you want to go, you have two routes. The first is to check out Google Flights again. On Google Flights you can put in your timeframe, picking say a week in October and then pulling up the calendar. When you have the calendar pulled up, you can see what days are cheaper. You can also use the flexible dates option where it will show you a graph of the cheapest days to leave and come back. Lastly with Google Flights you can set the number of days you would like to be gone for and then search by price using the Price Graph feature. Google Flights can also send you price notifications as well.
The other option with flexible dates is to utilize Kayak. The best way to do this is from a computer rather than a tablet or a phone. Then google “cheap flights from [insert your home airport code/city] to [insert destination airport code/city]”. So for example, if I live in Salt Lake City and I want to go to Maui, I would google “cheap flights from SLC to Maui”.
From there, click on the Kayak link (may not be the first one or two results). Many websites have this function somewhat including Google Flights, but I really do like Kayak’s the best. From there you will see a nice price graph. The difference between this price graph and the one from Google, is that this is comparing trip prices across varying different lengths. Why is this helpful? Well if a 7 day trip flight price is $900 and an 8 day trip flight price is $650, odds are you would want to do the 8 day trip because it would likely be a cheaper overall option for you unless you are spending a lot of money on hotels.
Hopefully you are now ready to book your next trip. Make sure you check out my pictures from Hawaii and subscribe to my list to get more travel tips. Have any other tips you have found for how to find the best flight deals without using miles, credit card points, or loyalty status? Leave them in the comments!
Currently listening to (I actually JUST finished it as I was typing this): “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero****If you haven’t read or listened to this book yet, PLEASE do. This is somewhere around the 10th time in the last year I have read/listened to it and it is SUCH a great book. Very influential mindset wise. I always get something new out of it each time.
A Date with the Goblins – Camping near Goblin Valley State Park
Over the weekend, we decided that we would go camping near Goblin Valley State Park. We were a little delayed getting started as Austin didn’t end up getting off of a work until after 9. However since we figured he wouldn’t get off until around 6 we booked a hotel halfway to Goblin Valley in Price, UT so we wouldn’t be setting up late at night. This turned out to be a great move.
Camping in the actual park requires reservations but the BLM lands surrounding the park are available for camping for free. There were plenty of campsites that had fire rings already there. We were excited to find a great one.
After setting up we went into the park and went for a hike on the Carmel Canyon Trail. While on the trail, we ended up taking a detour to Goblin’s Lair and it was incredible. The detour Goblin’s Lair made the entire trip absolutely worthwhile. Here are some of the photos from the Carmel Canyon Trail.
Now for some Goblin’s Lair pictures…
Okay… clearly we were a bit obsessed. Seriously though, Goblin’s Lair made the whole trip to Goblin Valley State Park well worth it. If you happen to go there yourself, make SURE you take the detour to check this out.
Here’s the actual valley itself…
Once we got back to the campsite however, things got a little dicey. The wind was picking up on our way off of the trail and once we got back to our campsite it was so windy we were almost surprised to still find the tent in place. It was the night of the Duke-Carolina game so we listened on satellite radio and waited for the wind to die down. It didn’t. We cooked on a propane grill and then settled in for a fairly sleepless night with the tent flapping all night. The wind got worse overnight so we packed up pretty early in the morning and headed back.
As we drove back to Salt Lake City, we noticed it was windy virtually the entire drive back and that night there was a massive front that came through with some inclement weather. I am not sure if Goblin Valley State Park is usually that windy or if it was an across-Utah front. I suspect the latter but don’t quote me on it. Overall… definitely interested in going back. There were some other trails just outside of the park that would be very fun to try out if Dex wasn’t with us (Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon loop).
My last two posts were about the first portion of our family trip down to the Nationals Parks – Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Park. The final part was the grand finale – Zion National Park. Zion National Park is the most well-known national park in Utah, and it is a pretty incredible place. Instead of driving along the rim like you do at the Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, you drive IN the canyon and get to look up at the massive stone walls.
The most famous hikes in Zion National Park are Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Both of these hikes are decently dangerous with Angel’s Landing having very steep drop-offs and chains to keep you steady and the Narrows with extreme flash flooding risks. That being said, for in-shape/avid hikers, those are both MUST hikes.
Since we were a little less aggressive, we opted for the East Rim Overlook Trail. This is a trail I had never been on before that still offered a fantastic view without the extremes of the hikes that I mentioned previously. It was not extremely steep, and therefore much more generous to my east-coast family.
Although we made this trip from Salt Lake City, Zion National Park is only 2.5 hours from Las Vegas and definitely a worthwhile, shorter-trip-than-visiting-the-Grand-Canyon adventure.
If you caught my last post, you know that my parents visited over President’s Day weekend and as they had already visited once before, they decided they wanted to see some parts of Utah besides just Salt Lake City and Park City. Therefore we decided to take a weekend trip from Salt Lake City to the National Parks. We planned a nice little loop from Salt Lake City with the first stop being the closest national park – Capitol Reef. The next stop after that was Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon is definitely more popular than Capitol Reef, but still not the most well-known national park in Utah. It is also significantly higher in elevation than Capitol Reef. Since our visit was in February, we caught it in the snow! It is truly a magical place in the snow. If you want to do some hiking in Bryce Canyon in the winter time (or ANYWHERE at a high elevation), you will definitely want to invest in some Kahtoola microspikes. These spikes attach to your hiking boots and will help substantially with your footing in the snow. As a side note, these are the exact spikes that I have and I highly recommend them. Many people go instead with Yaktrax, which are much less expensive but also not nearly as substantial. I have heard many reports of these breaking.
Here is a link to the Kahtoola microspikes:
Since the whole family was not equipped with these, we decided to pass on the hiking. However, I have done the Queens Garden trail twice which takes you down in the canyon so you can see it up close and personal. It is very beautiful!
Bryce Canyon is famous for the “hoodoos” which are beautiful rock formations. You can see a lot of these various formations in the pictures below.
So this is part two of our weekend trip from Salt Lake City. Once again, if you missed part one, you can check it out here. Be on the lookout for part 3 coming soon.
The second leg of our trip to Spain was a visit to Barcelona. Barcelona is an amazing city. We were thoroughly impressed. In my opinion, the two most incredible things to do in Barcelona were the Sagrada Familia and The Palau de la Música Catalana. You will see many pictures of both here. I also really enjoyed the cable car ride from Barceloneta to Montjuïc as it showcased an incredible view of the city.
As a side note, the first leg of our trip was to Mallorca. You can read all about our trip to Mallorca here.
If you are considering planning a trip to Barcelona (or any European city for that matter), I would HIGHLY recommend utilizing Rick Steves’ book:
We utilized his other books for Athens, Rome, and Florence…and he didn’t let us down in Barcelona either. Side note: make sure to get the most updated version as prices, hours, etc. of attractions are constantly changing. We have already purchased his “Paris” book for our upcoming trip in April. His books are a great way to figure out an appropriate length of time to spend in each city as he rates the attractions, creates “walks” to link them together and even proposes itineraries. Obviously, no amount of time is enough, but if you aren’t planning on moving to Europe, his book will certainly be worth the price!
We stayed at the Hotel Catalonia Square which was very close to the Plaça de Catalunya – the main hub area for the city. The hotel in particular was fabulous as it had a daily “snack” available from 2-11pm that was basically a meal. I would definitely stay there again.
Now onto the sights… On the first day we did some venturing around Barcelona and checked out the The Palau de la Música Catalana. This was beautiful. If we go back to Barcelona, we will definitely look into going to a concert there. Here are some pictures.
Next on the list of things to do in Barcelona was to visit Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece the Sagrada Familia. This was one of THE COOLEST places I have ever visited, although it is not actually completed yet. A lot of churches start to look the same after a while, but not this one! Wow. The goal completion for the Sagrada Familia is in the year 2026, but they seem to have a ways to go… definitely means Barcelona will be back on the list to finish when they do though.
Here are some still shots from this incredible basilica.
Here is some additional fascinating architecture from walking around Barcelona.
No trip overview of things to do in Barcelona would be complete without some mention of food and drink. Our favorite stop was Tapas 24 – we actually went there twice. The sangria there was made with Lemon Fanta instead of the typical orange juice. We each had about 6 haha – yum!
The last full day we were in Barcelona we took a cable car from Barceloneta (the beach area) to Montjuïc. The views from the cable car were absolutely incredible.
Once we made it to Montjuïc, the views were incredible there as well.
We also visited Antoni Gaudí’s outdoor masterpiece – Park Güell. It was a bit of a taxi ride away (we went from one side of Barcelona to the complete opposite)… but totally worth it!
Overall, if you are looking for things to do in Barcelona – there are plenty! It was an awesome place to visit for sure. I am looking forward to going back eventually, especially to see the completed Sagrada Familia. Remember – if you are planning your own trip, you should definitely do it it with the help of Rick Steves’ book. Grab it here. Happy travels!
Somewhere between terrain that looks like Mars and the Lion King’s Elephant Graveyard you will find Moab, Utah… probably one of the most unique looking areas in all of the United States.
Austin’s sister and her boyfriend were visiting us for the past week and we decided to wrap up the week of skiing with a trip to Southern Utah to visit Moab. Austin and I have been only once right after we first moved so we were excited to make the trip again. I was in Philly for work so I joined the rest of the crew on Friday night so I enjoyed a solid two days.
While you may have heard of Moab before, most people are unaware that it’s the closest town to two of Utah’s National Parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Canyonlands is comprised of three separate districts that are divided by rivers: Island in the Sky, Needles & The Maze. Many people overlook Canyonlands and spend all of their time in Arches National Park and they are definitely missing out!
Also contrary to popular belief, southern Utah can get cold. Early Saturday morning in Arches National Park was cloudy and cold (teens-twenties) but the afternoon brought sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. All of the pictures below of Arches National Park were on the same day and taken by me.
Want to visit yourself and only have the weekend? Here is what I would recommend:
Friday – Drive from Salt Lake City to Moab
Saturday – Spend the day in Arches National Park.
Drive from the Visitor’s Center all of the way to Devil’s Garden stopping at the viewpoints that interest you.
The hike to the Delicate Arch is 3.0 miles RT and a must if you are in to hiking. 95% of the hike is not shaded and if you are visiting when it is warm outside prepare for this hike to be incredibly hot with extra water, sunscreen, and snacks. The Delicate Arch is extra beautiful at sunset but be careful to bring a flashlight if you are going in the evening.
After the Delicate Arch head back towards the Visitor’s Center and take the turnoff towards the Garden of Eden and take the short trail to the North and South Window if time permits.
Extra activities depending on fitness/interest level:
Fiery Furnace – This requires a permit or a ranger-guided tour. Advance arrangements are required. Refer to the nps.gov website.
Devil’s Garden Hike – This hike is over 7 miles long and goes on a primitive trail where you can see many beautiful arches such as Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. 95% of the hike is not shaded and if you are visiting when it is warm outside prepare for this hike to be incredibly hot with extra water, sunscreen, and snacks.
Sunday – Spend the day in Canyonlands “Island in the Sky” District.
Although popular, Mesa Arch is beautiful at sunrise. If you are an early riser, go ahead and head to Mesa Arch first thing allowing for plenty of time to park and hike the 0.5 miles to the Arch. This is a popular time and the limited parking can be taken. If you would rather avoid the rush and the early wake up call, consider doing this at sunset instead.. still a golden hour of photography so the colors are less harsh and it will be a lot less crowded.
Continue beyond the Mesa Arch down to the White Rim Overlook. Although the actual 0.8 mile each way walk is not incredibly impressive, the end view is amazing.
Want a view in the other direction? Go to Grand View Overlook. This is 1.0 each way and it is along the edge of the island. Very cool.
If you want to skip the Grand View Overlook, check out the Green River Overlook which has a short path to the viewpoint and it’s in the same direction as the Grand View Overlook, although it’s not quite the same view.
Extra activities depending on time/vehicle:
Drive Shafer Trail Road. This windy narrow road is not for those afraid of heights or without a high clearance vehicle. If you love off-roading, this is a must although make sure you allow for plenty of time if you are taking this road to Moab and verify conditions with the Visitor’s Center prior to your departure.