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Budget Travel

Trip Report: Tokyo

Konichiwa! We recently returned from Tokyo, Japan where my husband and I celebrated 10 years together. Tokyo has been on my husband’s bucket list for a long time, and visiting all the Disney parks is #1 on my bucket list! So off we went, 11 hours from LAX on Delta Airlines arriving at NRT the following afternoon.

Day 1: Welcome!

After getting through security, it was time for us to locate the Klook desk to retrieve our Friendly Limousine Bus vouchers. Klook is a discount travel website, perfect for traveling in Japan and the Limousine Bus is airport transpiration into the city. While doing this, we were approached to do a T.V. Interview where they asked us questions about our relationship. After looking into it, I found this was for the popular show “Why Did You Come To Japan?”. So keep an eye out for billboards and merch coming soon like Homer Simpsons, Mr. Sparkles.

After taking the hour journey into the city, we arrived at the Conrad Tokyo to check-in. Hands down the most luxurious hotel we’ve ever stay at, and the most wonderful service. Now, if you haven’t realized I like to plan and be prepared, so when I couldn’t book my Disneyland tickets online it made me panic a bit.  So after checking in we scurried over to the Disney Store Shibuya to purchase our tickets. Arriving at the cutest Disney store we quickly got to the 3rd floor where the ticket counter is located. Tickets were extremely easy to purchase and the Cast Members were very friendly. With the tickets in hand we explored a bit of Shibuya before heading back to our hotel to rest after a long day.

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

We woke up at 4:45 am due to a combination of jet lag and excitement. After getting ready we jumped on the train and headed to Maihama Station and walked over to Disneyland, arriving an hour before opening. To no surprise there was already a short line to get in and only grew longer as the hour passed by.

Being very aware of how long the queues get, we raced over to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt once the gates opened. It’s a very cute trackless ride that differs from the one in the states. Next, we needed to get a fastpass for Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek so we could come back later in the day to bypass the normal queue. After running around we made our way to the front of the park to take our time going in a clockwise direction to visit each land. We made sure to fuel up at the Sweetheart Cafe with the goodies below.

Jungle Cruise was a highlight in Adventureland and I especially loved the little food area by China Voyager, it felt like a small market. Unlike Disneyland Anaheim, the train at Tokyo Disneyland only goes around 2 lands but still worth a ride with great photo ops. We also made sure to catch a showing of Country Bear Theater since it’s no longer at the Anaheim park. When we needed a short break we stopped off at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen in Westernland which has balcony seating that over looks the river. There’s not much to do in Critter Country besides Splash Mountain but I definitely suggest taking a peak or dining at Grandma Sara’s Kitchen.

Next we made our way to Fantasyland which is a cute area, similar to the other parks. We were able to ride Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt from earlier. Probably the cutest dining in the park is located in this land and is all Alice in Wonderland themed, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. You’ll notice a lot of the restaurants and carts can quickly get lines, especially if they released new seasonal offerings. Our favorite cart in Toon Town is Mickey’s Trailer which offers different Spring Rolls, including a Pizza Roll!

After we grabbed a few Spring Rolls we made our way to Tomorrowland to use our fastpass for Monster’s, which is similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters just without the points. After exploring Monstropolis we grabbed a bite to eat at Plazma Ray’s Diner and Pan Galactic Pizza Port which has a awesome little show above the ordering window.

After a long and exciting day we headed back to the hotel and ordered room service while watching crazy fun Japanese game shows.

Day 3: Tokyo Disney Sea

We woke up again pretty early to make sure we got to the park to line up before opening. While in line we got pretty hungry so I went to find something to hold us over. There are a few drink vending machines near the lockers and for food the closest place is near Maihama Station, so come prepared. Once the park opened we raced towards Mysterious Island to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth which quickly became our favorite ride. After our thrilling journey we made way to obtain our first fastpass of the day, Tower of Terror.

In search of some food we took the Disneysea Electric Railway from American Waterfront to Port Discovery and walked over to Lost River Delta. We were able to skip the line on Indiana Jones with the single rider option, which a lot of people don’t utilize. For Joey we found some chicken and a fruit soda drink at the Lost River Cookhouse. For myself I got a Chandu chicken curry steam bun at Sultan’s Oasis in the Arabian Coast. They say you’re supposed to wait 30 minutes before going in the water after eating but that wasn’t going to stop us from going under the sea at Mermaid Lagoon.

Tower of Terror is awesomely themed with my favorite Imagineer, Joe Rohde playing a roll as the main character, Harrison Hightower. The Cast Members were extremely nice and gave us a history sheet in English. While in the area we made sure to get the Alien Mochi and flavored popcorn to continue our snaking quest. The theater shows in the park are very popular and either have longs lines or have a lottery system to view them so we skipped over those. Instead we took our time strolling through shops and taking in the amazing atmosphere to end our day.

Day 4: Both Parks!

This was our chance to sleep in and take the parks at a slow leisurely pace. We stopped off at Starbucks to get the morning started and to my dismay I forgot to purchase a “You are Here” mug to add to our collection. We got to Disneyland right at opening and saw how LONG the lines can get if you don’t show up early. Not to worry, the lines move rather quickly to get in although become a little jumbled with “merging”. After walking around Disneyland took the adorable monorail to Disney Sea.

We stopped off at The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge to enjoy some drinks and light food. TRL is a very well themed bar with dark woods and sophisticated decor. Since we felt so fancy we strolled over to the Venetian Gondolas for a gondola ride in the Mediterranean Harbor as the sun was setting. We spent the rest of the day filming on the GoPro and exploring the Ports before calling it a night.

Day 5: Asakusa & Shibuya

We spent the day exploring Asakusa and the temples which really gave us a feel of traditional Japan. Certain places were very calming with people paying respect or taking in the beauty of the surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see people dressed in kimonos around the temple, and most are excepting of photos being taken. The shops in the area pull a huge tourist crowd and there’s a lot of souvenirs to choose from.

While trekking all across Tokyo my boots failed me and I needed to find a new pair of shoes. What better place to go shopping than Shibuya? Even late at night this place has such an electric energy, with it’s beaming lights and music blaring from shops. We watched as hundreds of people crossed the famous Shibuya Crossing from the 2nd floor of Starbucks, where I also didn’t think to get my mug 🙁

Day 6: Akihabara

I bet you’re wondering how we started our day, right? I hope you guessed WITH OWLS!!! Tokyo has a lot of animal cafes and going into one I wanted to make sure the animals were treated right and cared for properly so I did A LOT of research. This is how I found my best friend, HoneyBee who I now send owl posts to weekly. I could have spent all day with these beautiful creatures but there was a lot more for us to explore.

What is one to do after spending time with owls? Explore Akihabara of course! Most of the buildings we wandered into have 8 stories give or take a few, truly a geek’s paradise. The arcades are so incredibly loud and colorful, it’s very exciting to witness. The crane games are especially fun to watch or play but also addicting so watch out or you’ll end up broke. What’s great is you see people of all ages playing and having a fun time.

To top the day off, which was definitely hard to do, we dressed up in costume. Not just for any reason, oh no, we dressed up as Mario and Luigi to go-kart around Tokyo! Driving through the streets of Tokyo with the Sky Tree in the distance and a pack of go-karts following a guide was so exhilarating. People would wave at us as we zoomed pass or take videos at stop lights which made the experience so much more memorable.

Ending the night was difficult to do as there was so much racing (haha) through our minds. When we got back to our new hotel they had special treats set out for us celebrating our anniversary and we viewed the Disneyland Castle Fireworks from our bed. Mirroring a Cinderella moment but with my Prince by my side.

Day 7: Harajuku & Shinjuku

Woke up wondering if we were going to relive day 6 like the movie Groundhogs day. Nope! There’s still a lot of exciting things to see and do. We took the train to Harajuku to check out the famous Takeshita Street. Not a street for those who like to avoid crowds as this is another huge tourist spot. Bright pastel colors are found in the stores, people and even the food.

A walk through a neighborhood and we found our way to Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku and Golden Gai. Although we only walked around that day in these areas we could have easily spent multiple days taking in this bustling area.

Day 8: Sayōnara

With only a few hours to spare before being whisked away to the airport, we decided to visit Disneyland one more time. Even with 8 days we didn’t have enough time to see everything that we had planned but that’s the beauty so we can start planning the next visit. The people and city have so much to offer and was so welcoming. Thank you Tokyo, you will hold a special place in my heart.

Have you been to Japan? What are your favorite things to explore or what would you look forward to most?

25 Things to Do in London


London Calling! Are you ready to explore one of the greatest cities in the world? As Joey Tribbiani says “It’s London Baby”…just leave the hat and pop up map at home.

  1. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

    Of course this is going to be the first on my list! For all of us who have been waiting for our Hogwarts letter, this is for you. Strut your house gear along the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest as well as sets from the entire movie franchise! 

  2. Sky Garden 

    The Sky Garden is a FREE attraction that I recommend going to when you first get to the city. A gorgeous view of Central London is a great way to say, “Welcome! You’ve made it”. Also a great alternative if you want to save money/time and skip the London Eye or The Shard. You must book your reservation in advance and don’t forget to  bring the printed ticket.

  3. Palace of Westminster & Big Ben

    See how House of Parliament works with a guided tour or admire the architecture from the outside. Keep an eye out for Peter Pan flying around the clock tower which is named Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben is the bell. 

  4. Westminster Abbey



    Although you can’t take pictures inside this royal church, it’s beauty will leave a lasting impression

  5. Trafalger Square  

    image via visitlondon.com

    Great place to grab an afternoon snack and people watch.

  6. Hyde Park

    You can either stroll through or spend hours exploring the many treasures in Hyde Park.

  7. Harrods

    Forget the little blue bag, you want the green bag from Harrods! If you get lost it’s ok, they have food! 

  8. Victoria & Albert Museum

    image via archinect.com

    One of the many free museums in London, this one has over 2 million objects.

  9. Tower Bridge 

    Not to be confused with the London Bridge which is actually now in Arizona (weird right?)  This beauty has become an iconic symbol of London and you can go up it!

  10. Borough Market

    image via timeout.com

    Come hungry and leave full, this food market should not be missed on your list.

  11. House of MinaLima

    OMG! Have you read the latest story in the Daily Prophet? Don’t fret, you can pick up your copy here. Mina & Lima are the two behind all the graphic design work in the Harry Potter films, with their most recent work being in the Fantastic Beasts films. 

  12. Tower of London

    This place is so cool with it’s gorgeous grounds and dark history. 

  13. Theatre Show 

    Is it safe to admit most great actors come from the UK? there seems to be a debate about this in Hollywood, either way see for yourself and catch a show.

  14. Camden Market 

    Such a cool market to find unique treasures either for yourself or gifts for others. 

  15. Millennium Bridge 

    A walking bridge that may look familiar to you if you throw in some Death Eaters flying around as they attack London.

  16. Covent Garden

    image via britainandbritishness.com

    Shopping, food, entertainment all in one spot. 

  17. Tardis 

    You’ll find this beauty right outside the Earl’s Court Station, watch out for Daleks. 

  18. Leadenhall Market 

    image via ivisitlondon.org

    Once a meat market now houses shops, cafes and pubs. However it’s probably better known as a filming location used in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” for the Leaky Cauldron entrance. 

  19. Sherlock Holmes Museum

    The queue to take a picture in front of the door can get long but you can easily walk into the shop next door and visit the museum. 

  20. Natural History Museum

    image via nhm.ac.uk

    The building is worth the visit alone, but count this among the many free museums in London.

  21. Portobello Road Market 

    bestvenue.london

    Antiques galore! You can probably find anything here, and I do mean anything!

  22. Neal’s Yard

    image via bestvenue.london

    A quaint area you can stroll through while in Covent Garden

  23. British Museum

    image via visitlondon.com

    Free! Give yourself ample amount of time to explore, unlike me, who tried to cramp in everything 40 mins before closing .__.

  24. Big Bus Tour 

    image via bigbustours.com

    I am such a fan of Big Bus Tours. Yeah they’re “touristy” but aren’t we all tourists in a place we’ve never been? The tour lets you see all the major attractions from the top deck, lets you hop on and off at different stops and saves your legs. 

  25. The London Pass 

    image via visitbritainshop.com

    Gain access to most of the major attractions with fast track entry and ride a Hop On / Hop Off bus. Check out the website and make a list of the attractions you would like to visit, then compare pricing to see if it would be worth buying.  

    *BONUS RECOMMENDATION! Forbidden Planet – Megastore

    image via forbiddenplanet.com

    Totally geek out here and spend all your money on fandom gear.

    This completes our tour of London, what do you plan on checking out on your visit to London?

15 Places to Eat in New York City


There are thousands of restaurants in NYC, with so many choices it can be hard to narrow them down. I’m here to help! In no particular order, here are 15 places to eat in New York City that you should try at least once that won’t break the bank.

  1. Eataly NYC

    image via nycgo.com

     When top chefs collaborate, you’re left with the worlds largest artisanal Italian market place. Plenty of choices for anyone in your party.

  2. Nom Wah Tea Parlor

    image via nom wah

     This vintage dim sum parlor opened in 1920 and is still offering up great food you can share amongst friends and family.

  3. Joe’s Pizza

    image via eater.com

     Joe’s Pizza has created quite the following over the 40+ years being open. Celebrities, locals and tourist all agree, it’s a great slice of pie. 

  4. Chelsea Market

    image via chelsea market facebook

     You could eat here all day with the how many food vendors there are. You may even run into some important people who occupy the upper floors of the building like Google, Food Network or the Major League Baseball.

  5. Katz’s Delicatessen

    image via timeout.com

     Known for their pastrami sandwiches = bring on the meat sweats.   

  6. John’s of Bleecker St.

    image via timeout.com

     NYC is known for their pizza, and John’s of Bleecker St. helped make that true. Their moto; “The world has changed, but we haven’t. We are still The “Original” John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker St.”.

  7. Crif Dogs

    image via thrillist.com

     These aren’t you traditional “dirty water dogs” you can get on the side of the road. They actually make me want to eat hot dogs and they have veggie options too.

  8. Shake Shack

    image via eater.com

     Since opening in Madison Square Park back in 2001, Shake Shack has been serving great burgers, fries and shakes to the masses. 

  9. Momofuku Noodle Bar

    image via eater.com

     The first of the Momofuku restaurants. This spot is serving up some amazing ramen and pork buns. You’ll catch owner, David Chang on “Ugly Delicious” during your next Netflix binge. 

  10. Clinton Street Baking Company

    image via clinton street baking

     Breakfast! Get your day started with some blueberry pancakes or whatever you fancy. 

  11. Urbanspace

    image via urbanspace

     Dive into the market place with over 20 eateries. Don’t worry, you’ll walk it all off.

  12. Lombardi’s Pizza

    image via lombardi’s

     Opening in 1905, this is the United States first pizzeria. Lombardi was also a teacher of sorts, inspiring some of his employees to open up their own famous pizzeria’s. We, along with the Ninja Turtles, and so much of pop culture owe it to this legend. 

  13. The Halal Guys

    image via the halal guys

     Starting as a cart in NYC, they quickly gained traction with their decadent meats, falafels and hummus. 

  14. Best Bagel & Coffee

    image via thrillist.com

     You can’t go to NY and not have a bagel, it’s a rite of passage. I mean it says it in the name! Don’t you trust everything you read on the internet?

  15. Kish-Kash

    image via eater.com

     Bask in all the cous cous glory that Chef Einat has cooked up. Recently new to the neighborhood this spot is bound to get big.


    Are you hungry yet? Leave comments below of your favorite NYC places to eat and let’s go find our next food coma. 

Reading is an Adventure

Reading is an adventure
that never ends
– Charles Shulz

One of the best ways for us to travel is with our own imagination. It may sound cliche but Charles Shulz was onto something magical, reading is an adventure! Think of the writers who brought you books that you will read over and over again, are you transported to a new place? Can you imagine the taste, smells or emotions that characters was feeling? That’s the power of reading!

I remember getting those Scholastic book fair catalogs in elementary school, rushing home and circling all the books I was hoping to get. Finally the day had come, I would walk into the school Library with the money I begged my mom for and pick my new adventure. “Magic Tree House” and “The Boxcar Children” were among my favorites, wondering where the next journey would take us. I still get excited anytime I walk into a library or book store, a library card is a mini passport waiting for stamps. What would be in your “reading passport”? Maybe Middle Earth or the Forbidden Forest?

So let’s celebrate reading and continue the adventure by simply opening a book. Comment below with your favorite reads.

Business Insider “The 21 greatest travel of all time”

 

 

Find Travel Gear on a Budget

Find Travel Gear on a Budget

Finding cheap travel gear on a budget can be hard and frustrating. The anger that takes over when you decided to take the plunge and buy that expensive gear only to see it on sale 3 months later makes you want to Hulk SMASH! Don’t worry, I’m here to help you find the best deals for gear that wont break the bank, so you can spend more on your travels.

Research!

What are you looking for? A reliable suitcase, stylish but warm winter coat, the perfect hat that says “Yeah, I’m on vacation”, or maybe you have no idea what you need but you need to find it. Doing a quick google search will bring up endless possibilities and somewhere in the haystack you’ll find the deal.

A huge source of my travel gear I find on Amazon, they usually have great prices and most time free shipping. I don’t make this my final stop though, I find what I’m looking for and keep their price in mind as my starting point.

REI used travel gear     Steep and Cheap     Overstock

Thrift Stores

I find so much travel gear at thrift stores and I get excited every time. It’s fun to think about the history of the item, what places has it been? Did someone just buy it for one trip? You’ll be surprised at what you can find at a thrift store…travel or not. One of my favorite Reddit threads is “Thrift Store Hauls”, people are constantly sharing their amazing finds for a fraction of the cost.

scary huh? but don’t let that stop you from finding gold

Dig high and low! Check the book section for travel guides or maps for places you’re planning on visiting. They may be a few years old but most of the content will still be accurate for general things to see and do. You may even find a book for a destination you haven’t thought about visiting yet and add it to the bucket list
.

Scan through the clothing racks, there’s no need to spend $800 on a coat when you can score a North Face jacket for $15. Look out for good walking shoes or boots, you can find name brands barely worn. Funny enough when I decided to do this post I went to a local thrift store to gather pictures when I found this Travelon anti-theft bag during a 50% off sale for only $7 when it retails for $65, so happy!

Found this in that scary mess I mentioned, brand new only $3

Don’t stop there, next check out the techy section, display cases, cosmetic bags area. Target will send their after clearance items to Goodwill Industries, sometimes even items that were opened but never used but they clearly couldn’t put back on the shelf. That’s how I found brand new adapters for half the price.

Don’t forget garage sales when the season is right.

Off Price Retailers

I always take a look at Ross or Burlington for travel accessories like luggage locks or travel pillows. I got a pair of Skullcandy head phones for less than $10 when they retail for $40. Costco will have luggage deals from time to time if you’re a member, great quality too. Look for the nearest outlet mall/store for past season items at a discount some even have extra discounts on their sale stuff.
  

Friend Swap Travel Gear

Share travel gear with your friends and coworkers, it’s a great way to test out an item that you’re not ready to buy yet. Obviously if you damage the item you are expected to replace it. As I write this a friend is borrowing one of my Travelon bags while she explores Europe. We’re a community, we have to help each other follow our dreams.

Where do you like to find your travel gear on a budget?