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The Best Places to Eat in Maui

Grandma’s
Swap Meet
Pineapple Store

Where to eat in Maui was our Google search continuously throughout our trip. Some places were easy to find using apps like Yelp and Google. We found, however, that our three favorites for eating in Maui were completely under-advertised with some of the best food we’ve ever had (i’m lookin’ at you, crab-stuffed mushrooms).

Hawaii has about 200 species of crab.

Dole Whip is a topic of conversation in our relationship that occurs 2 times per week on average. When we found out Hawaii had Dole Whip, we had to get our hands on some. Stopping there was a special treat for us both, as it’s Jeff’s absolute favorite and I had never tried it apart from making it at home with the official Dole Whip mix in an ice cream machine. For those of you who don’t know, Dole Whip is a dairy-free frozen treat that people enjoy at the Dole factory and at Disney properties. The way it is whipped is where the magic is.

There are two competitor businesses, directly beside one another, for people to enjoy these frozen treats. The store on the left is the trademarked Dole Whip treat, whereas the place on the right is a small business frozen pineapple treat store that also sells pineapple merchandise. Since they were right next to eachother, we tried them both. We concluded that the Pineapple Store’s treat was far better. Why? Because it literally was just frozen Maui Gold Pineapples— they make it right in front of you. Now, both have their perks. We love Dole Whip for the Disney reminiscing and the sugar. However, there was something so beautiful about frozen pineapple and nothing else– not even water was added!

7 Shocking Facts about Airports

To Celebrate PDX’s 7th Year as one of the BEST Airports in the USA, here are some cool facts about airports. Afterall, what exactly does it mean if we are the best airport again for the 7th year in a row?

I always say our Portland, Oregon airport is the best not because they were actually rated the best, but they feel the best. You walk in and there’s people looking out for pedestrians and they, get this, actually have the right of way (cough cough, Boston). Despite southern hospitality, I’ve experienced excellent service at the PDX airport just by directing someone the right way or taking the time to steer them in a better direction to have their question answered.

The navigation through the airport is simple. So simple, that people even find ways to make it more complicated, thinking it’s bigger than it really is.

The bathrooms are clean at the portland airport. Now, I’m sure busy travel seasons have gross bathrooms in every airport across the country, but I have yet to experience that at PDX.

When you arrive, you are greeted by local musicians, sending happy little messages to your brain, reminding each traveler that traveling is supposed to be fun and doesn’t have to be so stressful all of the time. The music takes that “mall feeling” out of the scene and realigns the tone with what you’d experience in the lobby of a four diamond hotel lobby. Afterall, most people are paying about the same amount if not more for a one night stay at an upscale hotel. It might as well feel like one.

Can we talk about the food situation at PDX?

There’s a reason for the obligatory PDX Carpet Posts. When you hit the ground, you’re home to local cuisine with absolutely no upcharge just because you’re at the airport. You’re home to local goods, made here in Oregon, including “Made in Oregon” goods. When you’re here, you experience art from the get-go just to ensure that you’re embodying the idea of Keep Portland Weird.

What makes an airport so amazing? What doesn’t? Just recently I have been traveling more due to an increase in good health (yay!). But in the past it has been a nightmare to travel due to being worried about the cleanliness of airports, the endurance it takes to travel while taking autoimmune disease medicines, and the number of resources it takes to travel.

Some complaints I have heard about the portland airport is that there is not enough shopping. Now, this primarily comes from peoples who are from abroad and didn’t have a chance to do enough shopping while in the United States, but I find that…you’re usually not in the US to shop and if you are, the PDX airport will find ways to make you consider shopping more locally by only offering local goods to appease your shopping itch.

https://www.statista.com/topics/3324/airports-in-the-united-states/

How to Do Maui in 72 Hours

-Don’t waste too much time at your accommodations

-Shower at the beach

-Eat at the farmers market to experience real food, culture, and the art scene

-Take advantage of tourism salesmen at the farmers market

-Eat local fruits on the way for snacks (carry cash)

-Don’t have expectations or a bucket list, but have 2 main events you want to experience

5 Ways I Stay Confident Traveling as a Solo Woman

5 Ways I Stay Confident Traveling as a Solo Woman

Ladies, when I first started getting in touch with my adventurous side, I was just starting to date again. It wasn’t until a few adventures in that I met my partner now. I went on some crazy cool adventures that helped shape me into the person I am now before we met! I will admit that looking back at those trips, it was much harder to plan solo travels than as a couple. Though it took more planning, there was a great learning opportunity in each of those plans.

What I learned about staying somewhere on my own is that it is worth doing the research every time– I do a TON of searching when it comes to staying somewhere I was not familiar with. Truthfully, I am not usually comfortable leaving my own apartment but have made the effort in the last year or so to go outside my comfort boundaries so I can explore more of the world like I see other adults my age doing on TV and social media. I learned that there are a few steps I follow in my process that keeps me calm and collected when I’m stressed before or during the trip.

Research the crap out of what you’re booking

  • Local Attraction such as a lake or mountain
  • Rating and reviews of park or hotel
  • Price of admittance or rental
  • Cleanliness of Amenities such as the shared spaces (i.e. bathroom)

Be careful and especially if you are traveling alone, understand your surroundings at all times. Be aware of how much money you have on you, how much gas is in your tank, and what your cell battery and service levels are. 

Stay Powered Up

  • Cell phone battery pack and cord
  • Phone Numbers in my wallet, pocket, or glove compartment

Keeps Multiple Forms of ID on you

It seems silly, but considering how small an ID is and how slick it is, it’s easy to fall out of your bag or pocket. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere out of state because you couldn’t board the train or airplane without an ID. Or, even locally, you wouldn’t want to be driving somewhere you’re not familiar with without an ID. I’ve kept a few of my old IDs on me in my glove compartment or wallet so that if I lost one, even if it’s not valid, I’d look a little more legitimate.

All trails, All the Time

I say this all the time, but All Trails really is the REAL reason I became comfortable traveling independently without a companion (human or doggo). This subscription app allows you to follow your map in real-time either online or out of network, as you have the ability to download the 4 different kinds of maps with the paid version. This saved me from going off-trail so many times and kept me confident that I’d always reach my destination by sundown. What I found even better was the ability to pace myself so that if I started lagging behind, I’d be able to see if I’d need to pick up the pace to make it to my car before the park legally closed.

Keep Cash in Multiple Locations

I’ve been on trips before where they didn’t accept Visa, but accepted American Express or vice versa, or they didn’t accept cash and I only had a card. The list goes on when it comes to what places take which payment types. Rule of thumb is to always carry enough cash to fill a half tank of gas and grab a snack. Carry about $30 in cash at all times. In addition, keep a balance on your credit card that would allow you to get help for a new set of tires in case something happened. Too many trips I went on and prayed the entire way in and out of the road thinking, “I don’t have enough to cover new tires if one of these popped”. While I made it each time, out safely, with no popped tires, it wasn’t very responsible.

The Secret to Saving Over $150 for Your Vacation? Shopping At The Dollar Store before Departing

The Secret to Saving Over $150 for Your Vacation? Shopping At The Dollar Store before Departing

Learn how this couple saved over $150 just by taking a quick trip to the Dollar Store before their weekend trip to Hawaii.

One of my favorite topics to follow on Pinterest is Dollar Store Hacks not only because it shows you how to stretch a dollar, but it also shows you ways to be more creative with items you’d never think to put together. I may not be much of a crafter right now, but I am crafty when it comes to saving money on “need to have” items so that I can have more “want to have” items on my vacations. This post breaks down 10 different ways you can leverage the dollar store items to fulfill your traveling needs.

There’s nothing worse than finishing a ten-hour workday, booking it to the airport, and then not having enough time to stop for snacks! What’s even worse? Perusing around the shops in the airport to waste time before your flight. According to Business Insider, in 2017 the average American spent an average of $11-$140 per airport trip. Save time and avoid those impulse buys at the airport terminal shops. You can buy similar items and even healthy snacks at the Dollar Store and put them in your carryon bag or purse. What’s even better is that they have packs of items like cheese crackers or bags of nuts or granola bars. (Total savings:

Coffee mugs were one of our best purchases for our most recent trip. They had a grip on the base and a sealable lid on top to keep our rental car extra tidy and our coffee nice and hot to sip on while we enjoyed the Hawaii views. People were so shocked that we brought our own mugs and were so thankful for considering our part in keeping their home state clean. What I loved about these mugs was that it kept our trash minimal. When we wanted soda or coffee, we’d use the mugs. They were easy to wash out and more sturdy than the paper cups given out at coffee carts. (Total Savings: Target average price: $20)

Over the counter medications is something I honestly don’t have a ton of knowledge on, but recently learned that it is illegal to carry medications without their proper prescription or information label. What this means is that if you had a bag of medicine in a zip log baggie or a pill case without the label indicating they are your medicines or what those medicines even are, you are not compliant. To avoid this, I bought all new medications that I regularly use, such as GasX’s generic brand. There is nothing worse than being on an airplane with an upset, gassy stomach. (Total Savings: Priceless)

Earplugs and a night mask were our saviors the first night in Hawaii. If you’ve never visited a farm at 3 am, or worse, sleeping on a farm at 3 am, imagine the sound of sometimes 3 roosters at once howling outside your jeep after working ten hours and then catching a six-hour flight. Earplugs…were my savior. (Total Savings: Target: $3.99 for earplugs)

Nighttime sleep-aid was the number one product that made it possible to show up to work the next day as if I had not left the Portland area whatsoever for the weekend. I took one packet on the plane and was able to sleep about 4 hours, enough to carry me through the day. (Total Savings: Target Price: $4.99 for 100 pack, but who needs a 100 pack for a weekend?)

Melatonin was another great way to adjust to the time zone, without having to take something that would clonk me out. It was an easy way to transition in and out of time zones and a great option for Jeff to sleep on the plane, who doesn’t like to take medicine.

Tote bags are a cheap item to get at the dollar store and a quick way to easily save you the $50 bag fee, per person, to avoid checking your carry-ons. As long as you can fit everything into a tote bag, it’s considered a purse, murse, or, technically speaking, a “personal item” to accompany your one allowed carry on bag. (Total savings $100)

I love a good pair of sunglasses, but sometimes while traveling, you switch purses, murses, carryons, and tote bags. You mix the snacks with the sleeping bags and your sunglasses end up somewhere in the trunk with the toiletries. It happens! Sometimes the sun is so blinding in tropical areas and there can sometimes literally be no place to pull over for miles, which is why it’s important to always have a few pairs, scattered amongst different areas of the car or your luggage just in case. At the Dollar Store, you can try different looks and grab a few pairs for almost no investment. (Total savings: $30-60)

Non-AerosolSunblock is actually an item that most Dollar Stores have and many times, it’s “the good kind”. The best part about Dollar store products sometimes are their small sample or travel size. We used a Neutrogena face sunblock cream and while we purchased it in Hawaii, it was an item that I found almost the same version of in the dollar store when we returned home. Now I’ll know to stock up!

Flashlights (without batteries) are a great tool to have for camping and quick to pick up if you can’t run to your local REI or Amazon.

Packing tape is something I’ve learned to always pack now because the one time I packed it, it didn’t fail me. A small thing of tape goes a long way sometimes and does not take up much room. You can tape your sneaker or flip flop, or tape the casing of your flashlight, like I did, which came in handy one night when we had to set up camp in the dark! We would have been SOL!

Non-aerosol Shaving Cream is something I don’t think I’d ever used before trying it out in Hawaii. Let’s be real, when you’re planning a trip to Hawaii in just 3 days while working full time, it’s just not possible to get in for waxing. Luckily, I found shaving cream that did the trick for the trip. While I purchased one with a pump thinking it’d be easier, I’ll buy one that has a normal squirt bottle. I dropped it once and the pump broke. Still a good buy, but worth a different package next time.

Toothpicks are something I don’t quite understand the importance of until I find my boyfriend grabbing 1, 2, 6 of while leaving a restaurant. Then it becomes important to me to shoo him out of the restaurant before someone notices. The man loves his toothpicks, which was an easy fix at the Dollar Store. A pack of 200 is $1.09 with tax and the guy is happy driving for hours. (Savings: Priceless)

3 Must Haves for Jeep Camping in Maui, Hawaii

3 Must Haves for Jeep Camping in Maui, Hawaii
https://www.amazon.com/shop/influencer-a85e6dc8?listId=2OVK6WKFH5BRP

If you’re thinking about camping in the back of a Jeep in Maui, Hawaii, I’ve created the complete packing list, including all of the items we purchased for our glamping trip to ensure a safe, very comfortable, and affordable vacation that we planned at the last minute. This post breaks down the top 3 purchases I made for a camping trip in Maui, Hawaii over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

On a Tuesday morning at 4:30am, I woke up to my boyfriend’s 10 texts, listing out all of the details he had made for a long weekend in Maui, Hawaii, including flight details, excursion ideas, lodging options, car rental deals, and more. Not all of the details were hashed out yet, but one this was for certain– we were going to board a plane at the PDX airport to Maui at 6:17pm and we both were on board with the crazy idea of sleeping in the back of a Jeep.

We would load the car Friday during my lunch break and leave directly after work, which meant we needed to pack the bags ASAP to make sure everything fit into two carry on bags and one checked bag.

So, how exactly do you fit all of your bedding, clothes, excursion gear, and more into these 3-5 bags? You choose the right gear. While I was working, Jeff’s job was to find the items we needed for camping, order them, and pick them up at Amazon’s hub lockers in downtown Portland since we were rushed for time. When I returned from work each night, my job was to ensure that everything fit into our luggage and was under the weight limits.

This bedder be good…

When Jeff told me we could get an air mattress for the back of the Jeep I thought to myself, “this better be good or he’ll never hear the end of it”. We’ve all had those awful air mattresses that deflate in the middle of the night and I was going to make sure that I wouldn’t be in one of the most perfect places on Earth, completely deprived of sleep because I didn’t sleep for three nights. To avoid this and the endless complaints to Jeff, we agreed to research the air mattresses first. The most important and trickiest item that we ordered first was the air mattress. Thank God Jeff did the research, because this purchase we really did well with and enjoyed. We wanted to make sure it fit into the actual back of a Jeep and that it was comfortable, of course. What was also important was that it had an air pump that was not battery operated. Not only did we not want to spend money on batteries, but we can’t carry batteries onto the plane, so it had to have an adapter. We ended up finding a really comfortable mattress that is purposefully for the back of SUVs and Jeeps. What we loved about this mattress was that it had four separate air compartments, allowing for less chances of deflation during the night time. Another great feature was that it had flocking on both the headrest and the sides, allowing the mattress to mold to the width of the back of the vehicle. It also was long enough so that we could keep the cab open and stick the mattress out instead of our legs cramping up to the length of the trunk.

The air mattress we deflated and fit back into the box to put into our luggage. This helped keep all the parts together and ensure it didn’t get any scratches from other items in our luggage. It really didn’t add a ton of weight to our luggage.

Prevail against being dirty…

There’s a stigma that comes with camping– that it’s dirty and gross. While, don’t get me wrong, it most certainly can be, there are products like the adult wipes made by Prevail that allow you to completely avoid being gross and smelly on a three day camping trip without showers. We were in Maui camping in the back of our extended Jeep for 3 FULL days and while the campsite had a shower, we never actually asked where it was. Our goal in Hawaii was to be as active as we could be without spending time at the campsite unless it was to sleep. We used the wipes a few times a day to stay clean and fresh. We swam all day the last day we were in Maui and took a quick shower in our bathing suit at the beach. Other than that, we went the entire trip without needing to shower– that’s truly how good these things are.

These wipes are often used for senior citizens or peoples who are often bed-bound from surgery. They are fairly large and can cover large areas. What I loved about these wipes for camping was that they were lightweight, could fit in the glove compartment for easy access, and lasted us the entire trip with plenty to spare. While they aren’t flushable, they are easy to throw into the garbage with our other rubbish. We didn’t find that they stunk up the car even after leaving them in the trash for a few hours with the windows shut. I used these even on my face to remove makeup and felt like they had enough dampness and roughness to them, but were still gentle on my sensitive skin. They don’t have too much of an odor to them, but are comparable to baby wipes with a light, clean scent.

Tripod

The third best purchase we made was a bendy tripod. It’s small enough to fit in my purse, bendy enough to mount to mostly anything, and sturdy enough to withstand the wind. We used the tripod most when we wanted to take a few nice photos, but didn’t want to ask someone to take a picture of us. For example, when we were walking down the street and wanted a few more natural-looking photos of being tourists, we just set up the tripod on a tree stump and set the timer for ten seconds and selected a still from the live photo. The tripod comes with a phone holder, but can also adapt to even hold my Nikon D3300.

The value for this tripod was great for day trips and using it here and there on the fly with our iphone.

How to Plan Your First Alone Trip

The Flexible Approach to Your First Planned Vacation Alone

#1. Set an amount of money you can spend and be realistic
#2. Write down five things that you remember you used to love or think you could love
#3. Request the PTO off, even if everything isn’t planned out yet
#4. Choose a place based on the list you created in step #2
#5. Create a list in the Bear App of restaurants, cafes, and local attractions that interest you around that place
6. Book where you’re staying
7. Add the places from Step #5 to a Google Map
8. Check your car before you go: oil, gas, windshield wiper fluid, tags, license, and toll money

Every year people start off New Years Resolutions to motivate them to be the person they want to become. For me, I started my New Years Resolution back in July, where I woke up one day and told myself that it was time to stop making excuses for not doing anything fun and exciting with my life. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be, but that I wanted to challenge myself to have unique experiences.

#1. Set an amount of money you can spend and be realistic

There wasn’t a huge budget to spend; to be honest, I had about $270 to spend and while that’s not much for a vacation, I had to make it work; I NEEDED to take a vacation. With $270, I had enough to really enjoy myself and turn my terrible 2019 into a stellar year from this one trip.

#2. Write down five things that you remember you used to love or think you could love

So, I decided to just start with what I knew I used to love– water and camping. The smell of camping, the cold damp air at night, the satisfaction of laying down in your tent with snacks nearby, and the way the sounds of other campsites danced with your silence was such a peaceful experience. Those are all memories I adore from childhood. The beach was another. I grew up chasing the waves, burying myself in sand, tasting the candies from the corner store, the hot sun drying up your splashed skin– I bask in those memories even now. It didn’t matter which body of water, but the beach feeling mixed with the camp vibes seemed like a good place to start. So, I searched “beach campsites” into google and saw their top 10 results. “Tillamook, Oregon” was a place I recognized, felt comfortable with, and knew that I could explore on my own and feel safe.

#3. Request the PTO off, even if everything isn’t planned out yet

For me, I had plenty of PTO to spend, so I just spent it. However, that’s not always the case for people (including me!). If it’s not “I don’t have the money”, it’s always “I don’t have enough PTO”. So, how much do you have to make it work?
Maybe you only have a day of paid time off (PTO) in the bank, but your company allows you to take a half-day without penalty. Or, perhaps you have holidays off from work and could schedule well in advance to take advantage of that free day off. As an example, here is a calendar of all the holidays that my company recognizes. As a rule of thumb, when the stock market is closed, our company is closed; Otherwise, we’re open! Sometimes these rules of thumb make it easy to plan ahead without asking your boss too many questions about paid time off.

#5. Create a list in the Bear App of restaurants, cafes, and local attractions that interest you around that place

6. Book where you’re staying

The first time I ever booked a hotel by myself, I showed up to the counter and they asked to put a card on file. I gave them my debit card. There was $121 available in my bank. I had no idea that you needed to put a hold on the card. But, these are things you either hear from your parents, or you just figure out. Lucky for me, the Arthritis Foundation was sponsoring my trip, so the clerk nicely told me that he put a hold on the card for $100. In reality, he should have turned me away as a guest, but since the corporate account was on file, and it was a volunteer opportunity for children with disabilities, I think he did me a solid and figured I had to be a semi-decent person to be there at the hotel on the AF’s expense.

When it comes to booking where you want to stay, I always choose one local attraction that excites me and then I book the lodging fairly close to it. My first trip alone was paragliding. So, I booked my campsite within a short driving distance to the sand dunes so that I wouldn’t chicken-out. To my surprise, my campsite ended up being about a mile from the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the place with the best breakfast and coffee in town! An added bonus was how safe the campsite was– it had a large open field with plenty of families with children around, which made me feel safe. The site had good ratings, a quick response from the campsite owner, and didn’t require any cleaning fees, which was an added plus given I was on such a small budget.