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A Geek’s Guide To Comic Con

Let’s talk comic con! Better yet, let’s create a geek’s guide to comic con and rejoice in all of the geeky bliss.

Pick Your Convention

Choose your own adventure! Look up the cons in your area or cons you’re willing to travel to. The major comic conventions out there include; San Diego Comic Con International, New York Comic Con, WonderCon, and Emerald City Comic Con to name a few. A lot of cities have been hosting their own conventions or expos on a smaller scale but still just as fun and typically easier to get tickets to.

Buy tickets (passes, autograph/photo ops) in advance and as close to release date if possible as comic conventions are growing in popularity. Take San Diego for example, they are one of the hardest cons to ever get into unless you already bought the next years passes at the previous con or wait in a virtual queue which can take hours or potentially crash. Follow the cons social media for announcements and release dates.

Make a Plan

With a limited amount of days, multiple panels, autograph/photo ops, meet ups and vendor shopping, there’s a lot to see and miss. Best way to manage your time and hit all your must-dos is to make a list. Check out the comic conventions website, look for a program schedule and vendor/show floor map. Figure out which panels you want to attend and be sure to give yourself some time before the panel start to get a seat. Some panels depending on the convention you’re at will line up hours before the panel start time. Check your favorite artist’s social media to see if they will have a booth at the con you’re attending and what area they’ll be located in. 

What to Wear

Do you plan on cosplaying? if so, have a plan and do some research. Does your cosplay adhere to the cons policy? Will you be comfortable all day walking around and in crowded areas? Do you plan on changing throughout the day? Will you be able to easily use the restroom or do you need a friends assistance?

Don’t feel like cosplaying? That’s ok! Wear something you’re comfortable in. My favorite go to is a t-shirt with my favorite fandom on it and some jeans. If you’re still unsure you can always search hashtags from previous cons, you’ll see plenty of show floor pictures and what people decided to wear.

Food

Although food choices at convention halls have gotten better over the years they are still pricey and limited. Bring a few snacks in your backpack or bag along with a water bottle you can refill at the drinking fountains. You can always search the food vendors the convention hall has before hand on their website. Depending on the conventions you go to, food trucks can also be an option and typically within walking distance outside of the convention center.

What to Bring

  • Portable charger – don’t want to miss taking pictures of all the awesomeness
  • Art tube – don’t want the precious prints you buy to get destroyed
  • Pen & Paper – always a good idea
  • Expect to collect business cards so have a place to store them
  • Snacks – as mentioned above
  • Cash – most vendors will accept card but wifi connection in convention centers are typically horrible and can slow the card process way down

Convention Day!

Woo hoo! I’m so excited for you and this is just the planning phase. I hope you’re excited too! Comic Con is so much fun, you’ll never want to leave.

Nerd Wood Design – click on the picture to check out my friends art. He’s constantly coming up with awesome new pieces.
Le Petit Elefant – aka Genevieve Santos is one of my favorite artists. Click on the picture to view her talents.

Besides the panels there’s the exhibitors and artist alley to explore. My plan of action is to always do a loop of the floor and make a note of things I liked and want to buy, this helps me stick to a budget and not go crazy or broke on the first day. If you see something you plan on buying, but are waiting until the last day or end of the day, don’t! Far too often I see people say they’ll come back later only to find that item is sold out. Check with the vendor, that if you purchase the item if you can come back for it later, or if they have extra stock of it, if you decide to wait on purchasing the item.

Don’t expect huge discounts by waiting on the last day to buy things. Some huge vendors may give discounts because they don’t want to haul a huge supply back but for most the product they have is how they make a living. If you find something you really like but don’t have the funds to get it then crab a business card and see if you can purchase the item later and have it shipped to you.

Most important aspect of the day is to have fun! You’re surrounded by a bunch of geeks who love fandoms just as much as you do. Strike up conversations while waiting in lines for panels or special guest opportunities, you may make some new friends. So let’s talk about it, what are you favorite things you look forward to at comic con? comment below!

 

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?

3 Days in Paris


Paris is a beautiful city that you can probably wander around for a lot longer than 3 days, but when you’re limited on time 3 days in Paris is magical.

Day 1: Welcome to Paris!

Check into your accommodations and freshen up before heading out to explore the city.
We stayed at a lovely Airbnb apartment in Montmartre, right about the quaint shops.

Hop on the Big Bus Tour to get a glimpse of the city. Yes, this is super touristy but it’s one of the best ways to see all the famous landmarks around the city without killing your feet. Because of the great experience I had on the Big Bus Tours I look for them in any major city I go to.

Take in the beauty of the Eiffel Tower, you have the option to go up and view the city but might I suggest going up the Arc de Triomphe instead? They say the view from the Eiffel Tower is beautiful but it’s missing one thing…the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Grab a sandwich or savory crepe from Happy Caffe and walk through the Jardin des Tuileries Garden until you find the Louvre Museum, you won’t have time to explore all the art but you can look into the eyes of Mona Lisa. If you have an extra day to spare you should lend it to the Louvre so you can appreciate the beauty it has to share.

Next walk along The Seine River and the Bouquinistes, which are the green boxes were you’ll find merchants selling books, art and souvenirs. Take a stroll along one of the bridges to Notre Dame Cathedral and take a moment to appreciate the Gothic architecture. After exploring the area make your way to Shakespeare and Company and purchase a book or two.

You are now in the Latin Quarter, wonder the streets until you find the perfect location for dinner.

End your night with a good view of the Eiffel Tower on the hour to watch the lights dance around fill you with childlike wonder.

Day 2: Paris explorer!

Spend the morning walking around Montmartre and up the steps up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Follow in Amélie’s foot steps to Cafe Des 2 Moulins to take a few photos before heading to lunch at La boite aux lettres.

After lunch it’s time to explore the famous Paris Catacombs, spend a couple of hours walking through tunnels lined with human bones.

Now it’s time to walk like royalty through the immense grounds that is The Palace of Versailles. Or if walking is now a bore to you with your royal mindset you can rent a bike and ride through the gardens.

If you have a kitchen in your accommodation pick up some items to have a home cooked meal. You can get fresh cheese, baguettes, meats, pasta and sauce to make a hopefully memorable meal.

Day 3: Disneyland Paris!

Get up! We’re going to Disneyland Paris!

A bit out of the city but easy to get to, you’ll want to arrive and line up before the park opens. I suggest starting at Walt Disney Studios to knock out the big rides before heading over to Disneyland where you’ll probably spend most of your time.

Spend the day being a big kid, run around with happiness. Find your way to Disney Village (Downtown Disney) for shopping, food and entertainment.

Disney Tip: Everyone runs to Crush’s Coaster when the gates open.

Paris Tip: Don’t let anyone hand you anything, put anything around your wrist or ask if you speak English as they try to have you sign something. It’s all a scam! They will try to make you pay, pick pocket you, or get you to put your bags down while someone comes around and takes off with it. Unfortunately theft is a big thing in Paris so make sure your possessions are protected and brush up on the latest scams with a simple google search. With all that being said, don’t be afraid to explore and see new things.

Well there you have it, you just spent three days in Paris and boy are my arms tired…huh?

 

 

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?

A Geek’s Guide To Vancouver BC

A Geek’s Guide to Vancouver BC

So you want to explore Vancouver British Columbia, and why wouldn’t you? It’s clean, vibrant, and you get the best of both world, nature and city all in one location. You can spend a weekend here or a lifetime and always see something new.


Planning Your Visit

Maps

Vancouver Metro Map

Vancouver Map

I always recommend looking up the official tourism site for the destination you’re visiting. The travel bureau wants you to see the best stuff its city has to offer to make sure you spread the word and keep coming back.

Official Visitors Guide via Vancouver Tourism

Accommodations
Where do you want to stay? Hotel over looking the city or vacation rental to live like a local in a residential neighborhood?

During our latest visit we stayed at the lovely Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Vancouver. This was the ideal hotel for us for location and budget. The hotel staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the city and surrounding area. They also have a fun Instagram page to give you more insight on their favorite locations. There are many hotels in the city that are budget friendly or pamper you with luxury. 

Next thing to plan is how do you want to get there?

  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is less than 8 miles from Downtown Vancouver
  • Drive the distance. Make sure to have a vehicle that will tell you kilometers per hours and expect to pay everywhere you go for parking.
  • Train choo choo. Amtrak gives you a chance to see all the beauty the Pacific Northwest has to offer

What To Do

Stanley Park

This park is huge! Being one of the cities largest attractions you should plan at least a half day to explore. The seawall is a nice walk or bike ride to work off all that poutine you ate. Check with your hotel or vacation rental as many will supply bikes to ride for a few hours. There are also plenty of bike rental shops near the park entrance or Citi bike once in the park.

Granville Island

Take one of the little boats across False Creek to enjoy the Public Market and shops on Granville Island. Expect to spend a few hours here exploring and trying the food including Granville Island Brewing Co.

From there continue the little ferry ride to Maritime Museum Dock where you can get beautiful views of the English Bay.

Kitsilano Beach Park

Kits Beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun and spend a summer day relaxing or playing beach sports.

Gastown


Gastown is a small charming neighborhood with a famous resident, the Steam Clock. There’s only 7 working steam clocks in the world and Vancouver is home to one of them. It’s fun to take a few moments watching the gears turn or hearing the whistle blow. There’s also a few souvenir shops near the clock if you’re looking to take some goodies home.

A short walk away you’ll find Canada Place.

Canada Place

An iconic landmark, Canada Place is a great place to feel welcomed. It’s the Convention Center, major cruise terminal, and so much more. Also in the area you’ll find the 2010 Olympic Torch and the digital Orca statue art.

Movie/TV tour

image via vancouversun.com

Commonly referred to as “Hollywood North”. With some big studios in there area, there’s filming going on most times of the year. You can look up some of your favorite films and hits the streets kid, live like the stars.

Whale Watching

image via insidevancouver.ca

During migration you may have a chance to see these majestic creatures. Best months for spotting a whale will be March to October and there’s many different tour companies to choose from.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

image via vancouverchinesegarden.com

Fans of Nat Geo should recognize this gem as they named it the World’s Top City Garden.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

image via capbridge.com

A stunning place to take in the beauty nature has to offer and take instagram worthy photos.

Vancouver Aquarium

image via vanaqua.org

No need to go to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way when you can visit all your favorite fish here.

Grouse Mountain

image via grousemountain.com

Only 15 minutes from downtown with spectacular views of the city.

Science World

image via scienceworld.ca

Weird Science! Be a kid and get creative with science.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

image via tourismvancouver.com

Sip some tea, take in this wonderland and day dream under a tree like Alice.


Food

Vancouver is on the list for being a “Foodie City” and for great reason, they have food trucks, well respected chefs and amazing cuisine. Where will your taste buds take you?

Blue Water Cafe

image via tourismvancouver.com

Best known for their seafood and outstanding wait service, you can either have an elegant dining experience or wallet friendly happy hour experience.

Earnest Ice Cream

image via earnesticecream.com

We all deserve a sweet treat. Especially after deciding what flavor you want from the mouthwatering list.

Cactus Club Cafe – English Bay

Food with a view! Great place to laugh with friends and loved ones over a great menu.

Vij’s Restaurant

image via vancouversun.com

A local favorite and recommended as a must do

Cafe Medina

image via medinacafe.com

Vancouver locals are huge on brunch and this is the spot to do it at. Lines can form so get here early.

Storm Crow Tavern

Truly one of my favorite geek restaurants! The whole atmosphere pulls you in, you can meet there with friends and family and play board games all afternoon.

EXP Restaurant + Bar

Video game restaurant/bar with great food. They live stream League of Legends, Overwatch,  Starcraft competitions and more, so it’s a really chill place to hang out, just pick the right side; Horde or Alliance?

a few other recommendation

  • Tacofino – TACOS! need I say more?
  • Fanny Bay Oyster Bar – Happy Hour!
  • Meat & Bread – grab a sandwich and head to a park
  • Nicli Antica Pizzeria – pizza and drinks, yes please!

Tips

  • If you’re driving expect to pay for parking everywhere
  • There’s free “neighborhood” wifi in Yaletown
  • The currency is Canadian dollar (CAD). Paper bills include $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100. $1 coin known as a loonie and a $2 coin known as a toonie

What are your favorite places to see and do in Vancouver?

Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving

 

 Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit NYC for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With my mom along for the excursion we were flown out to New York for an experience we’d never forget.

Arriving at JFK the day before Thanksgiving, we needed to make our way to Manhattan. There are a few different ways to get into the city from JFK or LaGuardia airport . Taxi, car share, Shuttle or subway are the most common. I chose taxi since I know it’s a flat rate into Manhattan and it’s easy to get right outside baggage claim. Something new I noticed since last time I was there, is that the Port

Authority of NY & NJ gives out receipts to show the rate and cab number you’re getting into. No doubt this cuts down on drivers pocketing money or over charging.

When you get into the cab they will ask your destination and enter in code 2 into their meter which is the flat rate fee + any tolls or surcharges. Another new thing I noticed is the touch tv screen in the back seat where you can view your rate, city information and payment options at the end of the ride.

We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Time Square, not actually in Time Square but right around the corner on 8th ave between 48th & 49th st. I typically like to stay at Hilton properties because of their Honors reward program and the amenities they come with. If you like staying at hotels check which company will give you the best rewards based on your needs. They all tend to be really competitive to make you their loyal costumer so you have some choices.

I enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn TS, they have spacious clean rooms and friendly staff. Our view over looked 8th ave out towards the Hudson River. When I needed a few items for my new tattoo, there were two choices near by, a Duane Reade (Walgreens company) and a Rite Aide. The nearest subway entrance is a block up on 50th st. a blue line, which was a bonus for us, as it had a elevator for my mom.

On Thanksgiving day we woke up at 4:30 am, hopped onto the subway going uptown towards our grandstand entrance. Our tickets stated they start letting in at 6 am, we got there at 5:30 am and there was already a line around the block. Once in, we were directed towards the bleachers that line Central Park West. We had amazing seats but definitely froze! A few things I wish we would have brought; seat pads, a blanket and hand warmers. For some reason I expected there to be music playing during the parade but there wasn’t.

After the parade we went to Top of The Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. What an amazing view of Manhattan! You can purchase your tickets online in advance for a selected time slot

and arrive a few minutes before that designated time. There’s 3 observation decks once up top and special tickets you can purchase to come back at sunset or night.

For Thanksgiving dinner we were treated to a luxury buffet at The View Restaurant, which sits 48 stories above Time Square in the Marriott Marquis. The floor rotates giving spectacular city views, making a complete 360 during an hour. There was 3 or 4 stations with different offerings of a decadent food assortment. Add great company and red wine sangria and it made for a memorable evening.

We continued the next 5 days running around Manhattan in full tourist mode. Since this was my moms first time in NYC I didn’t want her to miss a thing. We hopped on the Big Bus Tour, which was brilliant since she can’t walk very well. They have 4 colored routes plus the night tour. The only ones that don’t have hop off locations is the Brooklyn and the night tour. There are many different tickets available depending on we chose the 2 day bus tour with the night tour.

We moved hotels a few times to get in different parts of the city, including Hampton Inn Financial District and the Conrad New York located across from the Freedom Tower and 9/11 memorial. Staying at the Conrad was such a privilege, a way to end NY on a high note.
Well that’s enough of me rambling on, thanks for listening. You can view the rest of the trip in the photos below. If you have any questions please let me know.

A Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide

A Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide 

I love the holidays and I love giving gifts, but it can also be stressful, especially if you have a tight budget or the person has “particular taste”. So that’s where I come in! I’ve created a travel holiday gift guide to help you master the holiday season versus staying hidden in a dungeon.

A Geek's Travel Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Scratch off world map so you can scratch off all the places you’ve been
  2. Make sure no one suspects you’re hiding droids with this Star Wars luggage tag
  3. Be a professional photographer with this phone lens kit
  4. Be a hero by bringing a collapsible water bottle to the airport
  5. GoPro Hero 6, one of my favorite cameras to capture life’s adventures
  6. There’s no wonder why Ready Player One is becoming a movie, it’s an amazing read!
  7. Pocket size Totoro umbrellas are perfect to carry when traveling
  8. Keep your chargers and cords organized with this Star Wars zip bag
  9. Tote around loot in this stylish Disney canvas bag
  10. This Bombshells passport cover makes a statement
  11. Connect Lego key chains on bags or keys
  12. One of my favorite travel companions, the Popsocket!
  13. Have a carry on that says you love the 90s with this Nickelodeon bag
  14. Drown out the noise around you and only sense the force with some Star Wars headphones
  15. Create a masterpiece with the Surface Pro

Now kick back, relax and drink some hot coco you filthy animal.