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Solo Traveling the Massachusetts North Shore: Rockport

Hey guys, it's been a minute since I posted about my time in Marblehead while solo traveling the North Shore last November. Before I knew it, after getting back, the holidays were already in full swing and I took some time to just be in the moment, and also, reflect on this whole, crazy year. But I'm back, feeling refreshed and so excited to talk about the rest of my trip, starting with Rockport.

Exploring Motif 1. Photo by Nina Weinstein Photography. 

Solo Trip to the Massachusetts North Shore: Marblehead

It's been about six years since Josh and I last visited the North Shore of Massachusetts, and for the past year or so, I've been itching to get back. When we last visited, our focus was a Halloween getaway in October to experience Salem. We had a lot of fun, but little did we know just how crowded and chaotic it would be (rookie mistake). To escape the crowds in Salem one afternoon, we decided to take an impromptu drive up the coast and ended up in Rockport. We only spent a few hours there, but I completely fell in love with it, and I think those few hours were some of the best of our entire adventure. We stayed in Marblehead that trip, but because the entire weekend was pretty last-minute, and because we were so focused on Salem, we didn't research anything to do, and ended up not seeing even a sliver of what Marblehead had to offer. Since becoming more familiar with New England, and constantly researching new places I want to experience, I came to realize that our North Shore visit years ago barely scratched the surface of what is an absolutely breathtaking part of the state. You guys know how much I love the Cape and Islands, but my goodness, the North Shore can easily rival it. There's miles and miles of rocky coastline, history that dates back to the 1600's, with houses that are still standing from that time, small-town charm at every corner and salty air along the way. I was so excited to come back and really see it this time. 

Photo by Nina Weinstein Photography.

Martha's Vineyard Travel Guide: 3-Night Itinerary in September | Plus Nantucket vs. Martha's Vineyard

Recently, Josh and I spent a week exploring Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, and you can read about our 4-night stay on Nantucket here.

After four pretty perfect days on Nantucket, we hopped on a ferry to Martha's Vineyard. It had been about three years since we last visited, and we've previously done a day trip and another 3-night stay, and have loved it each time. So, needless to say, we were excited to get back.


Travel Guide: 4-Night Nantucket Itinerary in Late September

Well, friends, we planned on spending our anniversary this year having a romantic dinner overlooking the cliffs of Positano, drinking wine in a small cottage outside of Pienza with views of the rolling hills and vineyards, and gazing at the canals of Venice, but that obviously didn't happen. When we learned in early July that the EU wasn't going to be allowing U.S. tourists to cross the borders, we sadly canceled our Italy trip, and began to come up with a new plan. Because our anniversary and Josh's birthday are so close together, this time of year is our favorite for traveling. But with the uncertainty of the world, we decided it was easiest, safest and most worry-free to stick with something more local, and something we were familiar with. And honestly, it turned into such a memorable trip.

Photo by Georgie Morley Photography.
Photo by Georgie Morley Photography.

Koh Lanta, Thailand Travel Guide | Kantiang Bay & Long Beach

After spending 4 nights exploring Koh Mook and Koh Kradan, which you can read about here), I hopped on a speedboat ferry to spend my last few days in Thailand on Koh Lanta.

Koh Lanta was the one island that had been on my original itinerary when I first started to plan this portion of my trip. It's popular with tourists because it's quite large (it's about a 30-40 min drive from one side of the island to the other), but has still maintained a very relaxed and authentic feel. It's definitely more developed, offering plenty of restaurants, street vendors, walking streets, shops, etc., but also has some beautiful beaches for swimming. 

Because Koh Lanta is more developed, it definitely didn't have that castaway island feeling I experienced on the other two islands, but because of where I spent my time, life still felt very relaxed, and I never felt like I had left tropical paradise.

Beach at Long Beach Chalet.

Exploring Thailand's Trang Islands: Koh Mook and Koh Kradan

After spending four nights eating my way through Chiang Mai, I was off to go island hopping through the Krabi region. Visiting the country's famous beaches was, after all, the main reason I decided to visit. I spent a lot of time researching which areas to visit, and in the end I decided on three islands: Koh Mook, Koh Kradan and Koh Lanta. For this post, I'll be focusing my time on Koh Mook and Koh Kradan, which are considered to be part of a grouping called the Trang Islands, located in the Andaman Sea.


Travel Guide: Three Nights in Chiang Mai's Old City

If you’ve been sticking with me, you know that I recently got back from a solo adventure through Singapore and Thailand. I’ve posted my recap of my Singapore trip here, and my first night in Thailand was spent at Chai Lai Orchid, which you can read a recap of here. As much as I loved, loved my time in Singapore, I was pretty excited to jet off and spend 12 nights exploring two different areas of Thailand.

While researching my trip to Singapore, I very quickly realized that flights to others destinations in Southeast Asia were very affordable, and I thought to myself “If I’m traveling all the way there, why not add another destination and make the most of it?” I narrowed down my choices to Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. I know a few people who have gone to Thailand and have raved about the food, the people, the beaches and well, pretty much everything about it. As much as I was really drawn to all the destinations I had on my short list, there was just something about Thailand that felt right.

After my night at Chai Lai, which was an hour outside downtown Chiang Mai, I made my way into the city to spend three nights here. Adding Chiang Mai to this trip was the very last decision I made while putting together my itinerary because initially, I had only planned on visiting beach destinations. But so much of what I read online spoke of the amazing food in Chiang Mai, the really friendly locals, the beautiful temples and it was said to be a more authentic Thailand experience. It was hard to pass up the opportunity to explore everything Chiang Mai had to offer, and I'm so grateful that I decided to work it into my trip. It was definitely a highlight for me.

Wat Chedi Luang.

Ethical Elephant Tourism in Chiang Mai, Thailand: My Night at Chai Lai Orchid

When I decided to visit Thailand, it may surprise most people to know that an elephant experience wasn't on my radar. I’ve always loved animals, and any opportunity to interact with one is something I would have jumped at in the past. But I think we all know at this point how horribly elephants in Thailand have been treated in order to entertain tourists. I had just thought the days of any kind of ethical experience with an elephant were over, and for good reason.

And then, while putting together my itinerary for my time in Chiang Mai, I discovered Chai Lai Orchid. I began to wonder if it was, in fact, possible, as they claim on their website, to still have a loving and caring encounter with an elephant in Thailand while still supporting responsible tourism.

So, I began to do my research. I wanted to ensure that if I decided to do something like this, my money was being given to a place that truly had the elephant’s best interests at heart, that they were being treated with kindness and love, and also, their care was first priority. After much debate, I decided to spend one night on the grounds of the Chai Lai Orchid.

Photo by James De La Roche of DLC Photo Tours

Travel Guide: Three Days in Singapore

When I was first planning my trip to Southeast Asia, Singapore was the only destination on my itinerary. Once I was down the research rabbit hole, my quick little week-long trip to the Little Red Dot, as its also called, turned into an almost 3-week adventure through both Singapore and a couple regions of Thailand. And guys, it was quite the journey for someone who has never really left North America.

So, why did I choose to travel to Singapore? This was a trip Josh couldn’t join me on, so I’d been doing a lot of research on safe destinations for women solo travelers. Singapore was on quite a few of those lists I stumbled upon, and the idea of going somewhere far away that pushed me outside my comfort zone was oddly appealing. I didn’t really know much about Singapore, to be honest, so I started to look into things to do, and immediately, I was so drawn to it and just felt like I had to experience this little city/state. I loved how futuristic it was while also being very connected to nature and tradition - in fact, they refer to Singapore as many things, one of which being a Garden in a City. Being the nature-lover I am, Singapore appealed to that part of me, while also feeding my urge to explore a new urban destination. On top of all that, I'd read that it was a very easy city to navigate in English, making my first few days in Asia relatively stress-free.


Iceland Recap: The Blue Lagoon & Silica Hotel

Since we were celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, we decided to end our trip in a pretty big way and go out with a bang. We knew during our Iceland adventures, we would definitely make it a point to visit the Blue Lagoon, but we decided to splurge and spend our last night at one of the lagoon's two on-site hotels: the Silica Hotel. And guys, it was was a pretty magical experience.




The Blue Lagoon might be the most popular thing to do in all of Iceland. We read so many reports online that were conflicted: many people said that they loved it and thought it was amazing, and others said that it had become so popular and overrun with people that it wasn't relaxing at all. We're both happy to report that we enjoyed every second of it, and felt the experience was worth our time and the cost.



Iceland Recap: Solheimajokull Glacier, Waterfalls, Efstidalur Farm Stay

As we began to make our way back to the Western part of Iceland to our final destination, we spend one of our last days exploring Solheimajokull glacier, all the famous waterfalls along the Southern coast and ended our day by staying the night on a farm.



We started our morning back in Vik, and going back to Dyrholaey Viewpoint. The last time we visited this destination, it was raining, so windy we could barely stand, and the views were pretty cloudy. We woke up on a bright, sunshiny morning and decided it was worth going back to take in the views. We were definitely so glad we went back, and take a peek for yourselves why.


Iceland Recap: Seydisfjordur, Eastern Fjords & Jokulsarlon

Deciding to visit the Eastern fjords of Iceland was a bit of a risky move simply because our time in Iceland was fleeting. Squeezing in the excursion was something we debated quite a bit because we knew we'd be in the car for a good chunk of two days. We both decided to go for it because we really wanted to see Seydisfjordur (where parts of Walter Mitty were filmed) and also, we wanted to drive the coastline through the fjords because we had read that they were incredible, and also, far less crowded. And so, we were off!



Iceland Recap: Golden Circle & Vik | Black Sand Beach

I haven't always known a lot about Iceland, but Josh and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in theaters around New Year's when it was released in theaters, and much of it was filmed in Iceland. Since then, the sense of adventure that movie gave me, and scenery that it showcased have stuck with me. Fast-forward a bit to us planning a trip for our 10-year wedding anniversary. We debated a few locations that were more relaxing and pampering, never really getting super excited about any of them. Josh turned to me one day and said, if you could go anywhere for this trip, where would you want to go? Without missing a beat, I just said Iceland. He liked the idea of doing something adventurous and before we knew it, we were planning to celebrate 10 years of marriage in the land of fire and ice. We booked the trip in December, and every night I would turn to Josh in bed as he was trying to fall asleep and say, "Babe, I can't sleep, I'm too excited for Iceland," to which he would respond, "You know it's February, right?" We were going in September.