Inside: How to find those special travel souvenirs you’ll love forever. A month ago I was in Amsterdam. Staring at a closed door. Locked out of the apartment my sister, my friend and I were renting. Not my proudest travel moment. But good things can come out of bad times. While my friend waited on a locksmith, my sister and I explored the city. We walked the cobblestone streets and analyzed each step of how we managed to lock ourselves out. How did we do that? But as we turned a corner, the happy white tents of a flea market greeted us. We found the best souvenirs of our two-week trip at that flea market. (Scroll to the end to find out what we scored!) Besides including a good story to tell people back home, those souvenirs were also the real deal. There were genuine finds that I’ll love forever. Talk about a serendipitous moment. If we hadn’t locked ourselves out, we never would have found that flea market. Why Choosing the Right Travel Souvenirs Matters The souvenirs you bring home from your travels should make you feel good. You want them to spark memories, be useful or purely enjoyable. None
If you haven’t noticed, Kansas City is happening. This month, Vogue called Kansas City one of the ‘flyover cities’ worth “landing and lingering in.” That’s why I’m doing this blog series; to share the hidden gems, the local favorites and the places you have to check out in Kansas City. (Check out last month’s favorite Kansas City things.) Here’s what I’ve been exploring this month. Cider Hill Family Orchard Kick off fall by going apple picking at a local orchard. This year, I went apple picking for the first time ever and I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. Cider Hill Family Orchard in Kansas City, Kan., covers 38 acres and has 1500 apple trees with 18 different kinds of apples. Wander through the groves and fill up a peck, half bushel or bushel full of apples. If you’re hungry, there’s no shortage of apple cider treats. Grab some apple cider donuts, an apple cider slushie, or go the traditional route and ask for a cup of cold pressed apple cider. There’s also a hay wagon ride and pumpkin patch for the kiddos. The U-Pick apples are available as long as there are still apples on the trees. In October, opening hours
It’s hard to put your finger on it exactly, but I think it’s safe to say that Kansas City, Mo., is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts. This cow town that straddles a border with Kansas City, Kan., has really come into itself over the past few years—and the nation is taking notice. Maybe it was the Kansas City Royals winning the 2015 World Series. Or, perhaps it’s the excitement for the KC Streetcar, which just opened in May and runs from the River Market to Union Station. Maybe it’s the ever-popular First Friday in the Crossroads Arts District every month or the blossoming vintage and antiques scene in the West Bottoms. Whatever it is, Kansas City is happening. Whether you’re visiting Kansas City or you’ve been here all your life, it’s time to start exploring this city. I’ve lived here five years and I feel like I’m just now starting to discover everything Kansas City has to offer. That’s why I’m starting this new blog series; to share the hidden gems, the local favorites and the places you have to check out in Kansas City. Here’s what I’ve been exploring this month. First Friday: Art Starts at the KC Library
The hardest part about getting away, whether over a long weekend or on a two-week European excursion, is making the plans. Booking hotel rooms. Planning must-see sites. Divvying up the expenses. It’s a lot to get done. Getting everything organized for a trip is where I struggle. I have a bad habit of procrastinating planning. I have this irrational fear that I’m going to pick a bad hotel or not do enough research to find good sightseeing opportunities, so I put off getting started. It also doesn’t help when I don’t have a good way of organizing. I’ve used everything from Word® documents to Excel® spreadsheets to a folder in my email to organize trips. None of which work well for this purpose. The best method I’ve ever used is this travel planning board, made from craft paper and Post-it® notes, which I hung on the wall. While fun, this method had its downsides. I couldn’t access it away from my house and it was a pain to make changes. When planning a two-week vacation to England, France and Wales in July, I found an amazingly better option. I used Travefy, a free online and mobile group planner. It helped
While I’m no stranger to traveling to far-off places, I also don’t think you need to travel long distances to explore something new—and worthwhile. On a whim, I recently bought “Missouri’s Natural Wonders Guidebook” by Don Kurz. For months now I’ve been aching to get in nature, find new spots, hike, go camping and just roam. This random purchase was my push to get moving, even if just in my own backyard. The book discusses the best natural wonders of Missouri. It features 100 scenic areas in the show-me state including prairies, wildlife areas, springs, waterfalls, swamps, geologic features, caves, trails, woodlands and streams. I live in Missouri, but I hadn’t heard of most of the areas mentioned in this book. I’m ready to grab my boyfriend, grab my dog and get out there. A note on guidebooks So, why did I buy this old-fashioned kinda hokey guidebook? There’s just something about holding a book in your hands, you know? Flipping through the pages with the pad of your thumb. Making notes in the margins and referencing them later. Opening the book, letting the pages fall and reading whatever page fate decides to land on. You can’t get that with
Decorating your home doesn’t come without inspiration. And I find that I feel most inspired to get creative with my home when I’m away from it for a while. Sound counterintuitive? Maybe. But it’s no secret that a little fun can leave you refreshed mind, body and soul. This past weekend I spent a little time in St. Louis, Missouri. I wanted to share a few spots I went to (and loved!) in case you plan to visit. Here are some great areas to explore: Central West End This cute eclectic area features some nice eateries and a couple shops. We ate at Pi Pizzeria, which has locations all around St. Louis. And I couldn’t visit a city without stopping at a local bookstore. So, I bought a book after perusing Left Bank Books. Clayton This neighborhood has a nice strip of restaurants and boutiques. We ate at a really delicious salad restaurant called Crushed Red. The Loop This funky area features six blocks filled with shops and restaurants. I had fun perusing a secondhand shop that I can’t remember the name of and sipping an iced coffee from Blueprint Coffee. The Hill Starting in the 1890s, Italian immigrants clustered in this
Today I leave for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cambodia! I’m sorry I’ve been so out of touch recently. An upcoming move (yes, I’ll be moving again this summer) and excitement over this trip has made me not in a writing/working mood. A vacation always changes that though! I hope to come back feeling refreshed and inspired. I love the feeling of the unknown before a trip (especially when traveling to a completely different country and culture). You don’t completely know what to expect and you can only imagine what you’ll see. I’m ready for an adventure! Where are you itching to travel? Tell me about it in the comments! Keep Up With Red Leaf Style! Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.