International

A YEAR’S GUIDE TO TRAVEL PLANNING

Travel Guide to Amsterdam - what to see and where to go

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to travel more or you’re just hoping to get ahead of the game – January is always my favorite time to start to dream about and ultimately begin to plan travel for the coming months. Since I follow a pretty specific game plan when it comes to making my far-flung fantasies a reality, I thought it might be helpful to share.

Step One: I like to begin here – on my Pinterest board of bucket list destinations near and far. I try to start to pick out a few that seem fairly doable (based on distance, expense, etc.) and one or two ‘reach’ destinations (that will require more savings, travel and time off work). I call these top picks my “wander-list” for the year.

White cutout top and white denim shorts, lakeside weekend getaway

Step Two: Next I look to my calendar and hone in on any locked in dates (this could be a friend’s upcoming wedding or a business trip) and also any locked out dates (a month that will be particularly busy at the office for instance).

Step Three: Begin to make matches between your “wander-list” and your calendar. I always do this with Google Maps open. Is that wedding only a short driving distance from a new city you’ve been meaning to check out? If you’re taking a long international flight, is there a day trip you could make while you’re there? This is also a good time to think strategically about scoring off-season prices or overlapping your trip with major local events (like Jazz Fest in New Orleans or Oktoberfest in Amsterdam).  Weather is also a huge factor here.. think New York in the Fall or Paris in the Spring. I always take the time to research things like average rainfall for my destination during the month I’m looking to visit. While rainy days don’t necessarily equal a bad trip, I like to know what I’m getting into ahead of time.

NYC Central Park Bow Bridge wearing Talbots quilted vest and scarf

Step Four: Once I’ve made matches and decided on destinations, I use Google Docs to make a to-do list and Google Calendar to create a coordinating time frame. The Google Doc makes it easy to add names of accommodations and additional details such as transportation or activity reservations as I make them (and share them with your travel buddies).  And the Calendar is helpful for setting reminders on when to actually pull the trigger and book. Is it an international flight? I’ve found between 3-4 months out to be the sweet spot for finding the best deals while I allow no less than 1 month for domestic flights. Plus, if I know I’ve got 6 more months to save before I need to book a flight it makes it so much easier for me to make a realistic plan for doing so.

Step Five: Book away. I like to use Google Flights for initial searches and then usually hop over to Expedia to compare actual flights/book. As far as accommodations, I’m a huge fan of AirBnB for access to a more ‘local’ vibe and you usually get more space for your buck. Plus things like a kitchen or washer/dryer (if you’re going to be gone for more than a week or are traveling with little ones) can really come make all the difference. However if a luxe resort at a tropical locale or a hip little boutique hotel downtown are the style you’re shooting for – I love searching Tablet for ideas first and then comparing prices and reading additional reviews at Trip Advisor.

Things to see, where to stay, what to do - A Travel Guide to Prague, Czech Republic

Happy travels!

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TRAVEL GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

Travel Guide to Amsterdam - what to see and where to go

I originally had this post planned for earlier in the week, but in light of the recent tragedy in Paris – talking about how great my own international travels had been just seemed insensitive. But I thought twice about it since then and realized that now is exactly the time to see the beauty of travel and the good in the world around us. So without further preface, my complete guide to Amsterdam. (more…)

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AMSTERDAM: NAVY AND BLACK WITH PAIGE DENIM

Amsterdam wearing Paige denim and wool floppy hat

By the time we reached Amsterdam in our travels (catch up on the rest with my guides to Copenhagen and Prague), I had exhausted most of what was in my suitcase. So I reached for the classics. These black, distressed skinny jeans were worn constantly, both for flights and long days of walking around and this navy coat is so good it made the spot as my only coat for the trip (with heavyweight items I try to pick an option that can be dressed up or down and matches with everything – this one covers all those bases).

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TRAVEL GUIDE TO PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Things to see, where to stay, what to do - A Travel Guide to Prague, Czech Republic

The second leg of our European trip took us to Prague – a city that was booked almost entirely on the fact that several friends and acquantainces over the years have mentioned that there was something very special about the city that is hard to describe without actually visiting.  Now here I am, finding myself – having now visited – trying to put the magic of Prague into words (aside from saying ‘just go’).  (more…)

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PRAGUE: DAY TO NIGHT WITH RUCHE

Prague day to night with Ruche: plaid skirt and floral date night dress

I am certain that our time spent in Prague is the closest I will ever come to living in a fairytale. The castles, the colors, the… everything. It just felt like magic. For the most part I try to pack practically with solids that I can mix and match – but I was happy to have packed a few standout pieces like this plaid skirt and floral dress for a city that felt like it deserved a little dressing up.

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.