This was my second trip to Rocky Point in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Just a 4 hour drive to “Arizona’s beach” from Phoenix. This time we decided to stay at Las Palomas resort.
Things to do: our favorite bar which was a short taxi ride away is Wrecked at the Reef from our resort. This trip we didn’t do much exploring out of the resort, but you can rent jet skis or ATV.
All the food and drinks were between $5-$10… so cheap.
Shout out to my friends who all split this amazing Airbnb with me for my birthday weekend. We stayed here which was $192 a person for 2 nights. This place holds 10 people but let us know at check in we could have 11 people for $20 extra per night. The Airbnb host was very responsive. I would highly recommend staying here! Although, it isn’t a penthouse (top floor), the balcony has amazing beach views and amazing sunsets.
Pro: Las Paloma’s is very safe. It has all the amenities you would want for a vacation including multiple pools, hot tubs, beach access, swim up bar and restaurants on site. They even had a cleaning service every day. Last, the pool hosts fun events like cooking classes and daily deals with drinks. For example, you get 2 for 1 drinks between 2-3pm.
Cons: no visitors in Las Palomas. Our friends were staying at another hotel and because they didn’t have wristbands they couldn’t access to our pool. Security was every whereeeee. We asked the front desk and they wouldn’t even let us buy them day passes. Also, they wouldn’t let us check out pool towels on the day of check out. Be sure to bring towels from your room if you plan to use the amenities on the day of check out.
A lot of people ask me how much my flight and total cost to Thailand was. Let me break it down for you…
We booked our flights from the states about 6 months in advance. We decided to go during December after Christmas because it is high time in Thailand. Meaning weather is bearable and beautiful. Around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, we had to use less vacation days since it was over a holiday so it seemed the most logical. Originally, when I started looking on Google flights, I was looking to fly out of Chicago, LAX and SFO. The cheapest option found was for $708 per person from San Francisco to Bangkok round trip. I found it in the $600’s but I waited a bit longer to book.
Cheap flights means longgggg overnight layovers though.
Below is a snap of the flight we took in United and Cathay Pacific. It didn’t allow us to book online so we ended up having to call United which was a pain. I think there was a glitch in the system with the Cathay Pacific segment because all of our friends were having issues too.
Where We Stayed
We decided to stay two nights total in Bangkok. One on the first night and one on the last night which worked out beautifully. See my posts on Phuket and Koh Samui to see the rest of our itinerary.
On the first night I used points at the Doubletree for 20,000 points. It had really nice amenities including a gym, rooftop pool and warm cookies upon check in. We were able to walk everywhere including the mall and Isao Sushi. I recommend getting there right when it opens at 5:30pm because there was a long wait when we got there a few minutes til.
On the last night, we stayed at my favorite of all time The Conrad for 27,000 Hilton points. In comparison to the States, that’s a pretty good deal. In a big city it can cost around 40,000 Hilton points or more for one free night. The Conrad has robes, fresh oranges and water upon check in. The pool was amazing
I recommend seeing Sky Bar in Lebua at State Tower as seen in the Hangover 2. You don’t need reservations just to get drinks, but you do for dinner. There was quite the line when we went. The view makes it worth it to see all of Bangkok at night!
I pulled out a little over $300 aka 10,000 Baht. I used this money mainly for food and taxis. I’ve heard the cheapest way is to out of a ATM vs. a bank or exchange place. The exchange rate was only $9.41 plus $5 for my non bank fee.
I didn’t even spend all the $300 I pulled out! I spent $300 on other tours on my card +$708 flight + $200 for flights and ferry/bus ride to Koh Samui+ $300 cash everything was a little over $1,500. How crazy! For a two week vacation!? Now I know why people love Thailand so much.
Where do I even start…the best week of my life. We peaked. It’s over. And now I’m depressed.
My roommate did a lot of research through other blogs like theblondeabroad.com (one of our personal favs) and she’s done a few yacht weeks and said Croatia is the best. It was also the original route. You can do Greece, Italy, Thailand and more. My goal is to do every route!
First things first. Book the yacht. We booked the yacht with about 5 girls in November. We found the rest of our group (awesome Texas boys) through the Yacht Week Finder Facebook page. I highly recommend joining the Facebook page to meet other people. After we confirmed our group we created a private channel to help pack and figure out logistics.
Day 2-Hvar by Kiso
Aka the song of trip. We went to Hula Hula
Hvar is where the White Party happens. Bring something white because everyone wear white to this party.
Day 4- Komiza
You must see the blue & green caves! They are natural and so so beautiful. You can also cliff dive at these spots.
Vis was one of my favorite islands. We rented scooters and drove around the whole island…got lost a few times and found a winery. I highly recommend going to Fort George during the day. It overlooks the beautiful city. We ended up going here at night for a party too. Bottle service with the biggest bottles of Belvedere >>>
Day 6-Natural bay
The skippers tie up the boats together so everyone can jump/swim from yacht to yacht.
Day 7-Regatta/back to Split
Okay we didn’t have enough wind for this apparently…but all the 50 boats race to the finish line. You are judged based on theme of the boat (ours was bae watch) and speed. We didn’t want our outfits to go to waste so we still got dressed up and participated.
What did you do on Yacht Week?
A typical day we would wake up and eat breakfast & lunch on the boat. We stocked up on groceries, ice and alcohol every day. We even bought an extra cooler because it gets hot. Every day was 85 and sunny. Our skipper would sail us to the next island. Our skipper, Matej, was a local from Croatia. He gave us awesome recommendations for dinners.
What To Pack
One hoodie (one night got cold)
A few pair of cheap sunglasses. I broke a pair and another guy on my boat lost a pair.
The big question everyone always asks me…how much did it cost? It cost ~$700 per person for the yacht which we paid in ~$200 increments starting in December. I brought $1000 cash, because we knew ahead of time a lot of places wouldn’t take card in Croatia. We exchanged it all it Kunas. We spent ~$100 on groceries/alcohol for the boat. We put a couple hundred each and used that for restocking alcohol, ice, water taxis and port fees. Don’t forget the flight. I found a cheap flight out of LA to Moscow to Split on Russian Airlines for ~$1000 roundtrip. Overall, we spent a lot more with bottle service and nice dinners out. I would say in total with yacht, flights, food, tipping our skipper and extras ~$3k…BUT it was one of the best weeks of my life so in my opinion so worth it!
Questions? Email me at email@example.com.
Nearly two years ago I headed to Italy with my family. We went to three cities while we were there: Rome, Sorrento and Bari. For those of you who don’t know the Shaffer’s travel like the Griswold family, except my dad is a mean Clark Griswold. First of all, my dad insists on getting a stick shift car since its about half the price in Europe. Every time we go to Europe we always come close to near death situations (stay tuned for our Germany Autobahn experience).
Anyways, Rome is one of my all time favorite cities. I love the history, fashion and food. Next time I go I will for sure spend more than a few days here. You need at least a week to explore everything.
Sites to see in Rome:
Trevi Fountain-make sure you throw a penny from your right hand over your left shoulder for good luck!
Sites to see in Sorrento:
Where we stayed:
Our favorite restaurant:
Ristorante Donna Sofia
Owners catching fresh tuna & a common shot to settle the stomach after meals-limoncello!
Sites to see in Bari:
Oh wait…nothing. Literally nothing. I would not suggest visiting this part of Italy. My dad forgot to mention its an industrial seaport. We were probably the only americans in the town. My dad booked a hotel with points that used to be previously owned by a Sheraton. Before our arrival, the hotel was sold to a hostel, but our stay was still guaranteed. My sister threw one of her biggest tantrums known to date. Here is a picture of my sister and Dad at dinner. The smile on Ashley’s face is from pure joy of winning a fight to go back to Rome early. I rarely say this, but good job Ashley. It is a running joke in the family “Remember that one time we went to Bari”….never gets old.
P.S. We still to this day don’t know why my dad chose to go here. We think it was some weird travel channel he watches, but I guess we’ll never know.
Last summer got a little crazy…moving within driving distance to Vegas was beyond dangerous. I racked up 6 trips in one summer and I can not get enough of sin city. I have to bring in a professional for this one. To the girl who got all of our friends obsessed with the pool parties, sleepless nights and hangover brunches at the Bellagio….meet Andi Zitney (she just so happens to be my roommate. How convenient right?!). For this blog post I decided to ask her some questions for those of you who have never been to Vegas or want to test out the adult playground the way my friends and I do…Enjoy and be safe!
M: When was your first trip to Vegas?
A: My 21st birthday was my first adult weekend in Vegas.
M: How many time have you been to Vegas?
A: (she’s laughing actually thinking about it) 30+. It’s an easy trip because I have a house there.
M: Although, I know you don’t stay on the strip much. What is a good hotel/location for going out?
A: MGM is always going to be great spot, because it has a night club and day club. It speaks to a younger crowd. I would stay away from the North end of the strip. You will constantly be making your way back to the middle.
M: What is your favorite restaurant on the strip?
A: High Dollar STK in the Cosmopolitan-$$$$ and Culinary Dropout- $$
M: Buffets are a must do. Top 3?
A: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and The Cosmopolitan
M: What has been your favorite show? Why?
A: Cirque du Soleil- O Show. You could go with your grandma or friends. It is all around a good show. The hypnotism shows are fun too. Also, I would check out if there are any concerts in town.
M: If you are 21 and going to Vegas for the first time what night clubs do you recommend?
A: Hakkasan in MGM, XS in Encore and 1 Oak in the Mirage.
M: Day clubs?
A: WET REPUBLIC!The only place you need to go.
M: Do you recommend getting onto guest lists? What about for guys?
A: If its a slow weekend yes, but for big weekends like Memorial day, fight weekends or labor day I would recommend buying tickets for big names. Usually you can tell by a well known DJ. Guest lists can get up to a 4 hour wait and they can’t promise you on getting it. Guys…sorry…no.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since I’ve lived in Arizona one of the best things to do is find new trails and explore the beautiful sunny state. Let me first state I am NO professional. Hiking is something I have recently done a lot more since I’ve moved here.
Antelope Canyon– Page, AZ. Okay this wasn’t really a hike… Just a couple set it stairs, but still super cool to see.
Grand Canyon-An american must do. I haven’t done this since I was about 10 years old.
Horseshoe Bend- Page, AZ.
4. Fossil Creek–Pine, AZ. I have to admit my friends and I went here with intentions to find a natural waterfall…we hiked over 10 miles and never found it. If you decide to go here please email me, because as soon as we walked to the car we heard people jumping into the waterfall.
5. Sedona-Sedona, AZ. Sedona is an easy two hour drive from Phoenix. I’ve been a few times since living in Arizona and it’s absolutely one of my favorites. They are known for their pink jeep tours. We did a winery jeep tour at a Day in the West.
We went in the summer and it was perfect to do the natural water slides at Slide Rock Park in Sedona.
4. Camelback Mountain– Phoenix, AZ. This is probably one of the most well known in the Phoenix area.
5. Pinnacle Peak–Scottsdale, AZ.
6. Piestewa Peak–Phoenix, AZ
Never been on a hike before? No Problem.
Here’s what you need…
Water bottleS (you can never pack too much water I’ve learned)
Backpack (to hold your keys, water, phone, etc.)
Towel (on a really hot Arizona day you’ll want this to cool off)
The Shaffer fam is down under! Talk about about a long flight…(woof). Below is what we did day by day.
Day 1:Sydney, Australia
Day 2: At sea
Day 3: At sea
Day 4:Picton, New Zealand
Picton was one of my favorite cities in New Zealand. It was the only city on the south island that we visited. I wish we would have done a kayaking exclusion because Picton had the bluest water I’ve ever seen. Picton is most known for the wine…some of you may have had Malborough wine. So naturally we had do some tastings. We also checked out the local beaches and hiked to Bob’s Bay which was a really beautiful exclusive beach.
Day 5: Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington was a lot of people’s favorite city…not mine, but it was still pretty unique. The city reminded me of San Francisco with many hills, cable cars, and Victorian homes. This day my family did the Lord of the Rings excursion. We went to Mount Victoria and saw where part of the movie was filmed then toured Weta Workshop. We saw how the costumes and props were made for movies they produced including The Hobbit, Avatar and District 9 and many more. My favorite part was all the behind the scenes facts from the Lord of the Rings movie.
Day 6: Napier, New Zealand
Napier was a bit more country side than I expected, but it was still really pretty. We took a taxi up to Mission Estates Winery & Silky Oak Chocolate factory (two of my fav things). Although, my dad made us chug our wine since our taxi meter was running. Mission Estates winery reminded me of a southern plantation. I was already getting ideas for one of my friends to get married there.
I think my friend Leah should get married here…
it’s 5 o’clock somewhere
Silky Oak Chocolate Factory
Day 7: Tauranga, New Zealand
In Tauranga we did the Rotorua thermal outing and blue baths tea excursion. This was a long bus ride, but we got to see all the kiwi farms. We first had some tea and scones then ventured on to the largest natural geyser in the southern hemisphere at Maori village.
Day 8: Auckland, New Zealand
Hands down. Favorite city. What was there not to love? The weather, the shopping, the millions of yachts, the clean air, OH….and the bungee jumping. I was on a mission to find the AJ Hackett Bungee place. I did some researching beforehand and after about a 5 mile hike I found it. I convinced my brother to jump with me from the Auckland bridge (Chris was not a happy camper and left the scene). Bungee jumping was on my bucket list so why not do it in the beautiful New Zealand?! My friend Leah bungee jumped in Queenstown on the south island so it really inspired me to do it. It whole process took about 1.5 hours. We got our gear then climbed to the top which by the way gives a beautiful view of the city and harbor. The heaviest guys went first so I watched my brother go before me so I knew I could do it. The loud music was encouraging too! Right before I went he asked if i wanted to get dunked. SO worth it.
All in all, New Zealand is one of the prettiest countries I’ve ever seen. Had I not gone bungee jumping I think Picton may have been my next favorite city. There is so much to explore though you can’t go wrong. I’ve heard renting a car a exploring New Zealand is the best way to see it. So maybe next time…
Day 9: At sea
Day 10: At sea
Day 11: At sea
Note: The Tasman Sea is pretty rough. We had up to 15 foot waves the first few nights so I recommend if you have the slightest bit of motion sickness to bring some Dramamine or other medicine. I didn't get sick, but my mom did...
About the Cruise: Royal Caribbean – Explorer of the Seas. This cruise brought back some memories for me because we were on this same ship 13 years ago departing from Miami in the Caribbean when it was a new ship. There is a ton to do for all ages. The “at sea” days were mostly spent working on in the gym, ice skating, rock climbing (which is way easier to do now versus when I was 10) and laying out at the adult pool. There were movies and shows at night. 96% of the ship was from Australia so we met a ton of really nice people. I would recommend taking a Royal Caribbean cruise because they are super organized and affordable. They leave an itinerary on your bed of everything going on the next day on the boat. tips for the port the next day, weather and recommend attire. We had two formal nights (which you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to). In addition, You can pay extra to do the shore excursions or just explore the port on your own. I found that its almost better and cheaper to just explore the port on your own.
Things I loved: all you can eat, amount to do on the ship, the cute towels in the shapes of animals left by our awesome steward Antonio.
Things I hated: children running around all the time…everywhere & the price for alcohol and coke packages. I personally don’t drink that much pop, but for some people I know this is hard thing to give up on your vacation. It costs $22/day just for the coca-cola cup to get unlimited pop from the machines. That would be $242 just for our cruise..worth it?? In my opinion…no. Next, there are multiple alcohol packages you can get the select package for $42/day, premium for $57/day or ultimate for $67/day. If I were on spring break with my friends I’m sure I would do the premium package. In this case, with my family I’m not trying to get white girl wasted. Of course, we had some dinner at wine, but not enough to get my moneys worth on the select alcohol package. That doesn’t include wine off the boat obviously. For me, I would rather try local restaurants and wineries off the boat so for this vacation I think it was smart we didn’t get a beverage package.
Day 12: Sydney, Australia
Luckily we had nicer weather on the way back. The first day it was raining so we couldn’t explore much of Sydney. I would suggest coming here during Australia/New Zealand’s summer which is right now (January). It’s currently 75 degrees and sunny with THE perfect breeze. Sydney harbor was filled with entertainers and shops. We went to The Bakers Oven Cafe which is located in “The Rocks”. I had THE best calamari of my life. After that we got gelato on the harbor at Gelatissimo. I would recommend both. We walked around the Palace Garden and Sydney Opera house. If we had more time I would have liked to go to Bondi beach.
Questions?! Feel free to email me at email@example.com
This is my fourth time to Europe and I’ve NEVER been to Ireland. I am super stoked, got to explore Dublin for the day, but the best part about it is I’m going for work. That’s right…you read correctly the first time. My job is pretty bomb.com. Although, I was probably supposed to use this time to adjust to the time difference…I’ll explore instead. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
But first…coffee….and buying a new suitcase (Thank you Canada Airlines). I highly recommend this coffee shop called Blu Apple. The very nice gentleman there let me store my luggage there for free for the day and FREE WIFI. I tried to store my luggage at a nearby hotel, but they said they only could store for guests of the hotel…go figure.
I couldn’t believe how green Dublin is. I mean I guess it does rain here all the time, but the Christmas decorations make it that much more amazing. Here are some pictures I took around the city.