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How To Book An Epic Vacation in Less Than Two Weeks

How To Book An Epic Vacation in Less Than Two Weeks

It's no secret that I love to travel. This time, I needed a SERIOUS getaway where I could realign myself with my passion for exploration and adventure. I wasn't going to take no for an answer, so it was time to take some action.

In less than two weeks, I planned a five-day trip to Playa Del Carmen from Raleigh, NC for less than $1,000 a person inclusive of airfare, accommodations, and transportation. I want to share my tips and tricks on how you can plan your spur of the moment getaway sans guilt. 

1. Find your inspiration. I frequently use the Kayak mobile app to search for deals based my days of availability and price range. I explore various destinations on the app by choosing "More" and then "Explore." 

I USED THE KAYAK APP TO VIEW LOCATIONS ALIGNED WITH MY DATES OF AVAILABILITY AND PRICE RANGE

I USED THE KAYAK APP TO VIEW LOCATIONS ALIGNED WITH MY DATES OF AVAILABILITY AND PRICE RANGE

 

2. Decide on your adventure. Trips come in many forms. Think about experiences that make you happy. Also consider whether or not you want to drive or fly. 

THE THOUGHT OF BEING NEAR THE BEACH WARMS MY HEART, AND IT WAS THE IDEAL LOCATION FOR WHAT I NEEDED.

THE THOUGHT OF BEING NEAR THE BEACH WARMS MY HEART, AND IT WAS THE IDEAL LOCATION FOR WHAT I NEEDED.

 

3. Decide on the duration. Time away should not be stressful. Select the right number of days that align with work or family schedules.

Example: We chose 5-7 day trip was selected for Mexico based on our work schedule. 

 

4. Find the best price for your flight. If you are flying, I highly recommend using the Hopper App. Hopper helps you determine when to fly and buy so you get the best fare for your trip. 

AFTER CHOOSING OUR DESTINATION, WE USED HOPPER TO TRACK OUR AIRFARE. THE APP SENT US NOTIFICATIONS WHEN THE FARES WERE PREDICTED TO INCREASE/DECREASE.

AFTER CHOOSING OUR DESTINATION, WE USED HOPPER TO TRACK OUR AIRFARE. THE APP SENT US NOTIFICATIONS WHEN THE FARES WERE PREDICTED TO INCREASE/DECREASE.

 

5. Consider bundled deals. If you are looking to purchase more than a plane ticket, you may be able to save more money by bundling your plane ticket, hotel, and car rental together.

FIRST WE PRICED OUR AIRFARE, HOTEL, CAR RENTAL, AND EXCURSIONS INDIVIDUALLY. THEN, WE USED TO EXPEDIA SITE TO EVALUATE BUNDLED DEALS. WE SAVED A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT BY PURCHASING OUR PLANE TICKETS, ACCOMMODATIONS, AND RENTAL CAR TOGETHER.

FIRST WE PRICED OUR AIRFARE, HOTEL, CAR RENTAL, AND EXCURSIONS INDIVIDUALLY. THEN, WE USED TO EXPEDIA SITE TO EVALUATE BUNDLED DEALS. WE SAVED A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT BY PURCHASING OUR PLANE TICKETS, ACCOMMODATIONS, AND RENTAL CAR TOGETHER.

 

6. Book it. Get excited! If you need assistance regarding the research for your trip post-booking, Papilia is here to assist and advise. 

SERIOUSLY? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? - (LOCATION: IN COBA, MEXICO)

SERIOUSLY? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? - (LOCATION: IN COBA, MEXICO)

Sophia's 2016 Travel Goals

Sophia's 2016 Travel Goals

veryone in the world is in the midst of starting their new years resolutions for 2016.

5 Simple Steps to Hosting a Fabulous Friendsgiving

5 Simple Steps to Hosting a Fabulous Friendsgiving

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Friends and family, get ready! You may or may not be feel it yet, but the holiday season is here. Friendsgiving is a fun way to embrace the spirit with people you care about no matter where you are in the world. The Papilia team is here to give you some history about Friendsgiving along with simple tips to hosting your own.

What is Friendsgiving? Friendsgiving is a growing trend among the Millennial generation who are unable to make it home to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family. Other people tend to host a Thanksgiving-like feast in addition to celebrating Thanksgiving with their family.

Friendsgiving should be a fun event instead of a laborious one. We have five simple tips to help you host your own Friendgiving based on our own experiences.

  1. Consider your space + create a manageable guest list: Be realistic about the amount of people you can comfortably fit into your home, and create a guest list that aligns with your estimation.

  2. Plan ahead: People tend to book their vacations in advance. Send out an invite as early as October, and another reminder 10 days before the date you have selected so you know who will be attending. The number of people attending will determine the quantity of food you need to provide. Friendsgiving is typically hosted on Thanksgiving Day or before.

  3. Develop a menu + decide whether you will/will not be delegating responsibilities: Keep your menu simple to avoid stress. Take the time to decide how much of the cooking you would like to do or if hosting a potluck is the best way to go.

  4. Buy ingredients ahead of time: No one ever enjoys shopping for items amidst the holiday rush. Buy non perishable ingredients at least one week ahead and non perishable ingredients four days in advance.

  5. Have fun: You decided to host Friendsgiving to have a good time with your friends. Make a play list, think of games you typically like to play, and most importantly, don't forget to laugh.

Papilia Recommended Fall Hikes

Papilia Recommended Fall Hikes

You know Fall is here with the crispness in the air, changing fall leaves and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! It's time to get out in the open, and appreciate all of this fall foliage that the season has to offer with these three Papilia recommended trails for you to enjoy.

Hessie Trailhead in Nederland, Colorado- Hessie Trailhead is a well worn hiking loop in Roosevelt National Forest and great for hiking lovers of all levels. It is a 40 minute drive from Boulder and shy over an hour from Denver. Hessie Trailhead is a popular 3.6 mile loop trail featuring a lake which also connects with other trails, see here. Dogs are welcome on this trail too!  Grab your hiking boots, dab on that sunscreen and bring plenty of water. If you hit this trail since you will be in high altitude, making water your best bet for a sustained good day in nature.

SUNSHINE PEAKING THROUGH THE ASPENS ALONG THE HESSIE TRAILHEAD, COLORADO

SUNSHINE PEAKING THROUGH THE ASPENS ALONG THE HESSIE TRAILHEAD, COLORADO

Billie Goat Trail in Washington DC- This 4.7 mile trail is one of the best known trails in Washington DC/Metro area; located in Maryland between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. Regardless of which section you choose (A-C), you are bound to hop over rocks and enjoy amazing views of nature. This map will guide you through all the ins and outs of the trail - so get ready for a relaxing hike filled with so much fun!

ROCK HOPPING ON THE BILLY GOAT TRAIL

ROCK HOPPING ON THE BILLY GOAT TRAIL

Max Patch near Hot Springs, NC- Max Patch is a 3.5 mile loop trail located near Hot Springs, North Carolina. You'll notice immediately that Max Patch looks a bit different from the neighboring mountains and that's because it was cleared of trees in the 1800s for sheep and cattle grazing. Its been well maintained in this way so that you can enjoy breathtaking 360 views of Pisgah National Forest.  This trail is good for all ages and dogs are welcome. We recommend bringing water, a picnic, or a snack to enjoy at the top.

THE MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OF THE MAX PATCH

THE MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OF THE MAX PATCH

The Heart of America - Washington DC

The Heart of America - Washington DC

Washington DC is the heart America's political system; however the District of Columbia is a dynamic capitol city full of history, culture, fine dining experiences, and athletics.

The City of Oaks - Raleigh, North Carolina

The City of Oaks - Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina is a capital city with a hometown feel. This city is a budding center of innovation and entrepreneurship; the vibe can be felt through unique farm to table restaurants, local boutique shops, and tech companies popping up throughout the Research Triangle Park (RTP). This area is also surrounded with lakes and hiking trails perfect for the nature lover.

 

Weather: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter - Raleigh experiences all four seasons. The optimal time to visit Raleigh is in the spring (March - May) and fall (October - November) seasons when the weather is mild and beautiful. Summers tend to be hot and humid, and 1-5 inches snowfall may occur during the winter months.

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Women should pack business casual/formal and/or leisure casual attire depending on the purpose of your trip.Raleigh is typically a driving city, if you are female and driving, high heels are acceptable, however if you are walking in the city center, short pumps or walking shoes are recommended. Men should pack business casual/formal and/or leisure attire depending on the purpose of your trip.

For other suggested activities: pack hiking and workout gear.

Culture: Most people in Raleigh tend to be transplants from all over the United States. Regardless of their origin, their inner Southern charm still comes out. 

Shopping: The style in Raleigh is very versatile depending on your trip purpose and the season. Papilia will provide you with shopping recommendations prior to departure. 

Some Suggested Activities: 

Umstead Park- This park is a gem in the middle of Raleigh. Lush with trees and trails; the Umstead provides visitors with camping grounds, access to fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding.

UMSTEAD PARK

UMSTEAD PARK

Find a Festival - You are guaranteed to find a unique festival any time of year. A variety events celebrating international culture, arts, food trucks, craft beer, artisans, and music are guaranteed to stimulate your senses and make you smile.

ONE OF THE MANY FESTIVALS IN RALEIGH

ONE OF THE MANY FESTIVALS IN RALEIGH

Art Galleries - Explore over 20 art galleries peppered throughout Downtown Raleigh and its surrounding areas. Appreciate a variety of artistic perspectives, talk with the artists, and take the opportunity to buy a piece that resonates with you.

VISUAL ART EXCHANGE

VISUAL ART EXCHANGE

*Offline Media offers you with the latest happenings in Raleigh each and every weekend. 

If you’re a foodie: You are in store for a special treat. Many restaurants offer farm to table creations such as Stanbury. Other restaurants such as Chucks and Beasley's Chicken and Waffles offer a southern twist on your favorite classics. You DO NOT want to miss out on Raleigh's foodie scene. 

STANBURY

STANBURY

Safety Tip: Raleigh is a safe place, but be aware of your surroundings and keep your personal belongings within reach. 

RALEIGH SKYLINE (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARRIOTT HOTELS)

RALEIGH SKYLINE (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARRIOTT HOTELS)

Historic La Antigua - Guatemala

Historic La Antigua - Guatemala

La Antigua, once the capital of Guatemala is a breathtaking town nestled in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. 

Yangon: The Gateway to Myanmar

Yangon: The Gateway to Myanmar

Yangon, the capital is growing in numbers by the day. The curiosity and opportunity of Myanmar has attracted people near and afar for business and leisure. 

Bagan: A Life Changing Experience in Myanmar

Bagan: A Life Changing Experience in Myanmar

Bagan will be a life changing experience for avid and newfound travelers alike. The ancient land is a juxtaposition between the temples of the past and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the present day. 

Top 5: Long Layover Friendly Airports

Top 5: Long Layover Friendly Airports

Let’s face it. No one likes long layovers. You are already exhausted from the woes of travel, but attitude and distraction is everything

My First Impressions of Myanmar

My First Impressions of Myanmar

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It's not Throwback Thursday, but I wanted to share my first impressions of Myanmar in lieu of a podcast that I will be featured in about Inle Lake  (in collaboration with @stylematicapp) due to be released this week. This trip was a life changer for me, and I will share more about my time in this wonderful country to encourage you to travel more, and worry less.

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Originally written December 12, 2013

Okay friends, it has already been five days since I have landed in Yangon. I thought it would be fun to answer the top three questions that most friends and family have been asking me since I have arrived. ..and here they are!

1. What are your first impressions?  It has been at least two years since I have been fortunate enough to explore a new country. I had zero idea of what to expect. I looked out the airplane window, and as it landed, I felt like I was 10 years all over again when I first landed in Sri Lanka. I saw a lot of lush green trees, land, and water. Certainly more land than people, buildings, or city lights. As my friend Mike picked me up from the airport I took some time to absorb my surroundings, checking out the roads, and buildings in the 90 plus degree weather. One thing I wasn’t expecting: to see Revlon ads posted all around a shopping mall!

2. What’s it like there? People are very sweet and pleasant. Colonialism can still be felt through the architecture of buildings, like the old railway station you see below. Other than that, Yangon is a city that is bustling with opportunity. There are plenty of marketplaces, hotels, and restaurants to experience. I honestly did not expect to see so much commerce here. There’s also the Yangon Bakehouse that not only has exceptional artisanal goodies, but also works to create job opportunities, skills development, and fair wages to disadvantaged women.

3. How do you like it there? It’s pretty awesome. I am already surrounded by some great friends. I’ve already been to my first soccer match: Myanmar v Cambodia. I can’t wait to visit the local pagodas, eat more of the local cuisine (yes, I’ll be trying out all the local places that Anthony Bourdain has).  Most of all I see so much opportunity, and I’m so excited to delve into al the work I envision for Evolvemint’s future.

I realize that I am being general here, SO keep the questions coming! I will do my best to take as many pictures and to capture stories while I’m here. FYI: I’m obsessed with taking pictures of fruit stands and marketplaces…..more to come about them.

Much love…

Travel Unplugged

Travel Unplugged

Lesson learned for the week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: sometimes you NEED to travel unplugged.

Papilia is Going to Punta Cana!

Papilia is Going to Punta Cana!

Since February, I have been testing out Papila’s concept by providing travelers with personalized advice on how to pack efficiently and appropriately for their destination. 

The Importance of Travel + Attire #CultureTrav

The Importance of Travel + Attire #CultureTrav

We wake up every morning, go about our daily morning routine and make decisions about our attire according to our activities and weather for the day. This decision is made whether we realize it or not; perhaps because we are aware of our surroundings, and know how to acclimate to our own culture.

What about when we travel? How do we prepare to dress appropriately for another culture? I have to admit, I did not give attire too much thought when I was in my 20s; I wore clothing that I was comfortable in, not realizing it may not have been appropriate for the cultural setting I was placed in. In retrospect, seeing people look at me a certain way, made me feel out of place, and placed me in a dangerous position since I stood out looking like a ‘foreigner’. 

Attire can make or break a personal experience. Anxiety when packing appropriately for our destination can also negatively impact our experiences.

This is why I’m elated to discuss this topic on the #CultureTrav Twitter chat June 25th at 2:30PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) hosted by @Nicolette_O and @JLipowski

Please join us as we ask all you savvy travelers about your experiences regarding travel and attire. 

A preview of our questions below: 

Q1: How long does it typically take you to pack for your trips? Why? What dictates which clothes to bring? #CultureTrav

Q2: Do you shop for attire you need before departing, or wait to shop from local stores? What do you prefer? #CultureTrav

Q3: Have you ever over or underdressed? Share your experience with us. #CultureTrav

Q4: Is there a particular type of attire you really love or appreciate from another culture? Got a pic? #CultureTrav

Q5: What role does one’s attire play in being safe while traveling and is it specific to only women? #CultureTrav

Q6: Share a photo of traditional clothing or attire from your country or heritage. #CultureTrav

BONUS: If you could wear one thing the rest of your life, what would it be and why? #CultureTrav

For the Love of Travel

For the Love of Travel

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Do you even know what you love? 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I never asked myself these questions until 2010, and now I ask myself these three questions at least once a day. 

I’ll answer them right now for you.

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Initially, my fear of taking risks and feeling like I had to follow a societal norm stopped me from thinking outside the box. After years of asking myself this question, saving money, and quitting my job to do what I believe in, I’m starting to figure it out.   I started to pay attention to what made me happy and what made me a negative person. What made me love life was exploring a variety of cultures; using all my five senses to maximize each experience. I’ve never looked back and I am the happiest I have ever been, even if it requires a roller-coaster of ups and downs.

Do you even know what you love? 

I absolutely love to travel. I love to be creative, and I love having a flexible schedule that allows me to work hard and play hard. Papilla incorporates all these elements, and I’m willing to work hard to inspire other people to travel more and worry less. 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I’m afraid of failure. Intellectually I know it’s the best way to grow, but emotionally I don’t want to fail. I have a mini motivational moment every day. I remind myself that I am doing what I love and the decisions I make are my own. The world is truly my/your oyster.

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions; and I would be thrilled to hear your responses.

Do what you love. Life is too short.

Live an Inspired Life

Live an Inspired Life

My love for travel undoubtedly originated from my childhood.  I was lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of cultures at a young age without even realizing it until my 20s. 

When I was 10, I lived in Sri Lanka for two years; they were the most formative years of my life. I will never forget the first feeling I had as the plane door opened in Colombo. The humidity immediately infiltrated the air conditioned airplane. A ’sea’ of palm trees covered any trace of buildings or people. It was a complete change from what I was used to in California. I had never seen or thought tin structures could get prime real estate on the beach. Everything I thought I knew at that age completely changed. I was exposed to a variety of religions, races, and situations of political unrest that called for frequent curfews. My curiosity to learn stemmed from the lifestyle of Sri Lankan people, along with many beautiful landscapes, rich history, and spicy food (each topic will have to be covered in a separate post). 

These treasured memories will say with me forever, and this is why I encourage you to travel more, whether it is 100 miles or 1000 miles away. 

1. You learn to appreciate everything you have with a fresh perspective. 

2. You will discover something new about yourself

3. You have created memories for a lifetime. 

 Our lives tend to be so fast paced. Traveling brings me back to reality and reminds me to stop, reflect, and appreciate.

Bottom line: live an inspired life. 

Does Culture Matter?

Does Culture Matter?

I am in the beta stages of working on Papilia, a travel app that helps you pack efficiently and culturally appropriate for your destination