Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying one of my favorite cocktails of all time, my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita. What a year this has been figuring out how to balance a full time career, motherhood and travel blogging! Dreams of being whisked away to a glamorous life of full time travel, experiencing new places every week were level set by the reality of understanding the root of building an audience, consistently conjuring up quality content and understanding a world that is very different as I go into my 40s then it was even just 20 years ago. While I understood that a travel lifestyle didn't need to be a National Geographic Reporter or the beloved Samantha Brown or Rick Steves, I certainly had a lot to learn regarding how to put what I discovered and loved out there for other travelers like me.
A quick recap of the start of Sippin Gypsy:
I remember sitting in the New Orleans airport at a bar, sipping my last Bloody Mary before the flight home, trying to come up with possible names for my new adventure....a travel blog. My husband and I would come up with a catchy name and quickly search to see if the name was taken already for a blog or business. I already had the nickname 'lil gypsy' given lovingly by a few friends and coworkers for my eclectic preference in fashion style, and constant need to be moving taking new job opportunities and up and moving with sometimes less than two or three months notice. Within our first five years together, my husband and I met, got married and had our first son together...we had already moved 6 times and changed cities 4 of those times. The 'sippin' was a give in. Between trips to Disney World when here in Orlando, New Orleans and Savannah, one of my self proclaimed favorite parts of visiting these places was the brilliant concept of sipping and strolling because of their open container laws enabling visitors to be able to walk around with a cocktail 'to go' and still be able to explore and experience things and not be cemented to a bar stool.
'Basic Training' and the start to wonderful new digital friendships and mentorships:
So how do you take a dream of traveling as a career and translate into today's format? Lots of reading and research quickly put me in front of this incredible group of ladies and gentlemen who were called "Travel Bloggers". Some of them were young single professionals that had figured out smart ways to work from their laptops around the world, others were couples or families who found jobs that enabled them to move to new countries with work (such as teachers or medical assistants) and others were like me...working that '9-5' and sneaking away on weekends off and paid holidays to soak in the new sights whenever they could. These fantastic individuals were wildly receptive to others in the travel blogging industry and offered support, suggestions and inspiration. So there I was...late 30s, staring at my phone and scared to death to download these apps and platforms called "Twitter", "Instagram" and "Snapchat". I was comfortable enough with Facebook and Pinterest I jumped right in and set up my Sippin Gypsy accounts....but I was 38 years old...was I allowed to "tweet" or post selfies on Instagram!!!??? I turned to the amazing family on Facebook, The Travel Bloggers Club and found the support I needed, and learned how to professionally use not only my social media platforms to share what I was proud of in my travels, but also I learned how to set up a professional blog, what this SEO concept is, and what to do to establish myself as a no name, middle aged family woman with a unique fashion style and lover of cocktails into a brand that connects with other amazing travelers and offers little tidbits of experience and excitement about exploring this incredible world we are all citizens of.
Taking it from a hobby to a lifestyle:
One fact that quickly stood out to me from many of the Facebook groups and new travel bloggers who popped up overnight was the difference between those with similar odd delusions that I had, that by creating a catchy blog name and posting pretty pictures of travel would translate to the perceived lifestyle of Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown. It became very clear how hard these travel bloggers worked at building quality content, spending time networking and promoting their information and really serious about managing themselves as a brand and working together to help build credibility in the digital realm so that their hard work would be more easily found by nonchalant browsers. The Facebook Group, The Travel Bloggers Club started some very helpful and interactive activities for members that helped us with networking together and promoting each other by sharing content on each others social media sights, commenting on each others blog and peer to peer coaching to writing better, posting more effectively in social media, and overall support in the industry! To this day I still revisit many of these blogs to gain inspiration and continue to support my digital friends and mentors:
Eliza is the host of The Travel Bloggers Club and created one of the most influential and inspirational blogs Digital Travel Guru Eliza and several other incredible ladies and gentlemen have been incredibly supportive to travel blogger newcomers and have demonstrated sincerity and diligence to helping others figure out how to navigate this digital world.
Alex and Lisa have been equally as inspirational and supportive. Their blog Career Gappers is so transparent and realistic. It gave me hope that even someone as inexperienced as myself can learn, grown and build my own blog. Last year, Alex and Lisa started cataloging their monthly business report, recapping efforts and successes to goals and opportunities as professional bloggers and how to grow their brand. This really helped things click for me. Their vulnerability to put their business out there helped me pace set and allowed me to set realistic goals.
Yeshira with her blog HelloYeshi has such a delicious way of captivating her readers. Her photos have such an artistic edge, and her love of travel and resonates through every post. Yeshi has been such an active member of our Travel Bloggers Club and helps newbies really settle into the group and feel welcomed. Last year Yeshi hosted a Travel Blogger Q & A where she invited many of us from the group to share more about ourselves on her blog! I was so inspired by this and loved getting to know my digital peers better through her posts!
Sometimes you encounter someone who really shifts your thinking and helps open door that were hidden to your comprehension of possibilities. Kemi of Musings and Adventures was just this sort of inspiration for me. Some of the first posts I encountered by Kemi were her recaps of day trips and weekend getaways. Since I was confined to travel on my days off or vacations, I was feeling discouraged that I couldn't contribute posts about 'my month in Spain'. Kemi has such a wonderful following of other women like us who find ways to add travel value even with just a day or two to explore. This gave me such relief and renewed hope for my own type of travel and posting!
Federica of A Stroll Around The World instantly caught my attention. I loved her style of writing and I really connected with this concept of slow travel, and taking your time to enjoy a location. For a while I was planning my trips to pack in as much content as I could, but the more I read by Federica I understood how much quality I could gain by slowing down a little and appreciating the small details that can often be missed in a fast paced travel. Federica is also very involved on Facebook and then a few months into reading her posts and I understood why I was so inspired...here was a fellow travel blogger over 20-something!! Yippee!! I was so glad to see another woman embarking in this journey!
Keep growing your network:
So now I find myself anxious to check in on Facebook and Instagram to see what my digital peers are doing daily. But I also really try to keep up with activities that continue to support each other. Our Facebook group committed to A Seven Day Challenge where a small group of us participate in a rapid fire of activity on each others blogs and social media sights to continue to build activity to our brands and improve authority in our domain name and other search tools and results. This recent Seven Day Challenge has introduced me to other truly inspirational travel bloggers:
Julie has created a most creative and attractive blog layout called Why Not Ju Her adventures across the globe are artistically cataloged on her blog and the overall energy is fantastic. My family heritage is from Norway, so I am excited to learn more about her suggestions for travel in Norway as we prepare to do a family vacation to see where my grandparents were from and explore more of such a beautiful country!
Diana and her blog Dianas Healthy Living is the perfect example of dedication and time spent building your brand and staying true to yourself. She has built a wonderful following and her fans are starting on her travel adventure as she includes not only reviews and posts from incredible restaurants and chefs, but her travels across the globe. What I found the most inspirational for me with Diana's site, is so many of her tips and growth come from her experiences right here in America! Since my current travels are keeping me Stateside as well, I found this refreshing that such a successful blog can flourish! (I have been a little jealous that life doesn't allow me to get to my bucketlist destinations worldwide...yet!!)
Mirela of The Travel Bunny is centered in one of my dream locations, Europe. She writes of her travels through many of the countries I have always found dreamy and right out of a fairy tale! Her blog offers great tips for getting the most out of your travel budget and really getting into the culture of the locations she visits!
Jayashree of Doibedouin has a wildly energetic blog and truly a beautiful way of looking at travel and bringing those she loves to be part of her travels. Like myself she has found the activities with the Travel Bloggers Club to be helpful to really growing her blog. She posted an article about our Seven Day Challenge that really explains how these activities boost your credibility within search engines.
Caitlyn with her blog With Caitlyn offers a wonderful concept to link food and travel: She litterally offers recipes inspired by her travels. Caitlyn's blog is beautifully real. You can find her review of a book she is reading, a new recipe and entertaining recaps of where she has visited. I've advised for my own boys who are interested in creating a lifestyle blog as we start traveling more to see how she balances what she enjoys doing at home and travel into an engaging blog!
Arunima of Nameste Solo Travel is one of the most brave and gracious ladies I have encountered in my blog research. Not only is she confident to venture into this world on her own and take in experiences independently, some of her travels have been met with challenges that she has written about most eloquently and handled respectfully. What really connected me to Arunima's blog was her post about her travel to Switzerland.
Lissa runs a blog about Family Travel called Roots Wings and Travel Things which I am so excited to have been introduced to! When I first created my own blog I thought it would be best to shield the world from my private life, specifically my children, But the way that Lissa catalogs her family adventures (and being another Midwest girl...) I am so anxious to learn more about how Lissa balances travel with children and shares their experiences.
Sydney created her blog A World In Reach to catalog her own travels in her quest to see as much of the world as possible. I love this about the travel blog lifestyle, and I know it is something my own children are aspiring to. I love that our world is be coming to accessible and that today's young professionals are showing us what they are learning as they explore. I never understood when people had never traveled from their hometown to see even more of their own country, but then you read the passion and insight that someone as bright as Sydney shares on her blog, and you just feel relief that our world just might be heading in the right direction!
Nina of Nina Out And About seems to have lived a life of travel. She explains that even her family traveled every chance they got and now she continues with that same diligence and passion to try exciting things in places many of have on bucket lists from decades ago! I am so excited to continue to network with Nina and gather ideas for what to do in some of the locations we are budgeting for in our own family adventures.
Alison is another wife and mother who runs a family travel blog called Five Family Adventurers I loved learning about her story uncovering how her and her husband were great travel companions and now are upholding that passion to explore together and bringing their children along. Her blog is really engaging and I truly connected with her experiences and seeing things through the eyes of her children.
So here we go! A Seven Day Challenge with digital peers that I feel like I have known my whole blogging life, and new friends that I am honored and excited to build partnerships with! Cheers to all of us and that you everyone for your support!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you from my friend Allen Walker. Allen is sharing with us several great ways to indulge in the beauty and luxury of Dubai, but still be conscious of the environment. Allen highlights some of the many ways Dubai is choosing more responsible ways to delight tourists and locals alike. Enjoy!
Dubai is popular for its lavish malls and extravagant lifestyle. You can see man made wonders everywhere which stun the human eye and make you believe that it’s not a part of this world. However, it’s a fact that people often don’t consider Dubai when they plan to visit a bio diverse place full of natural beauty as they think Dubai offers just luxurious and engineering feats and has nothing to do with natural beauty. It’s not true at all. The city is an ideal place for ecotourism and has everything one desires. From striking deserts to beaches and from natural resorts to animal petting farms, nature is visible everywhere and this is another reason which makes Dubai the first choice of tourists.
Dubai has started several ambitious projects to explore and promote natural beauty and few of them have already completed. Curious to know more about the natural wonders the city has? Let’s discuss one by one.
Spending holiday in a resort with family or spouse is the dream of every individual. Dubai resorts & hotels promise to give an amazing combination of adventure, fun activities, glamour, and glitz. There are a number of resorts present in the city which are situated at the best locations. Some are present in the middle of the city while others are established in the desert. For the comfort of tourists, international level restaurants are present there where you can eat mouthwatering food and enjoy local cuisines. Paddle board, windsurf paddle boat, spa, and adventurous activities are available in these resorts. Here are five top resorts in Dubai which you must not forget to visit.
It’s not only a major eco-friendly project of Dubai, but also the entire country. The project aims to protect natural flora and fauna without involving lavish development so people can enjoy nature at its purest form. Taking breathe in the air of Al Maha is like inducing peace and eternity into your body while the beautiful scenery mesmerizes your eyes. After all, it’s Dubai so you can stay in a comfy room surrounded by the tropical environment.
If you are going to visit Dubai with kids, then petting farms would be worthy experience. You see different types of animals including exotic rescued, imported, and mundane. It’s allowed to touch and feel these animals and management also informs tourists how to take care of them. Learn about their food, habitats, and interesting information. Most of the petting farms run on donations and you can also give some money to provide better facilities to animals.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a small area near Dubai creek and known as a natural wetland area. The place is abounding of marsh harries, flamingos, and ospreys. The area is the perfect depiction of natural beauty and proves Dubai has much more to offer other than gigantic shopping malls and towering spires.
Masdar City – Zero Waste Production
Dubai is a place full of wonders so never expect less than the perfect from it even when it comes to ecotourism. A mega project is underway named Masdar City which would function and run on nature. It would be free from carbon that is a harmful gas for human beings and causes several diseases. Zero waste production is the ultimate goal of the city for that clean energy production technology is being used in the project. MIT and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology are working on the project and putting extreme efforts on the development of green technology.
Desert Safari Dubai
Desert is an intrinsic part of Dubai and it lets you explore nature at its best. Waling on the sand dunes and feeling the sand particles on your feet is an amazing experience. Youngsters cover these deserts on cycles while families prefer 4x4 jeeps. Experts drivers are required to ensure safety as driving on the ups and downs of sandy hills is not a child's play.
Morning and evening are the best times for a desert safari because enduring scorching heat isn’t possible for tourists who come from cold areas. Scrumptious food is available during your visit to the desert while belly dancers and traditional performances let you know the life of local people. If you want to explore and witness the desert life, then prefer cycling as you can stop and see the local animals and plants. Last but not the least, don’t forget ride in the desert because you can’t enjoy the real essence of a desert without it.
Parks and Aquariums
There are multiple parks and aquariums present in Dubai in which Al Bashra Pond Park, Creek Park, Mushrif Park, and Umme Suqueim parks are very popular where you see a lot of flora and fauna, enjoy picnics, take cycle rides, and observe the habitats of different birds. In winter season, you can visit the park any time, but visiting timings are specific for the summer season.
Educational aquariums are present in Dubai which are a great source of learning for children to know about the native marine life. The prominent aquariums in Dubai include Sharja Aquarium and Dubai Aquarium Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall where you see different species and various types of marine life.
The Hatta Dam is closer to Dubai and known for the peaceful environment it offers away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Heritage Village is surrounded by beautiful mountains where breathtaking beauty is spread everywhere. Kayak and paddle boats are the amazing and fun full activities in the area that also helps you to lose some weight and restore your energy level by taking bath in the cool water.
Isn’t it impressive? Hence, we can say with great confidence that Dubai is a second to none city that can host people of every taste and interest. It doesn't matter if you are a fan of lavish lifestyle or a nature lover, Dubai is ready to surprise and impress you with its striking entertainment opportunities.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying a Sippin Gypsy Chocolate and Mint Non Martini Protein Shake.
This post was written by my friend Adam Durnham who specializes in Mental Health and has some really great insights to the benefits of travel and your mental well being and balance. As a wife, mother and career woman, I know I was able to relate to many of his points and suggestions. Too often we get pulled into the stresses of life and we forget to take time to do things that enable us to 'reset' and rejuvenate ourselves. Enjoy!
The Mental Health Benefits of Travel
When you first think of traveling, what comes to your mind? Do you think of the ultimate family vacation? Do you think of a solo trip across the country? Maybe you think of going to that popular Caribbean destination you just saw on your internet search. You might think about meeting people from other cultures and exploring the world.
Traveling is one of the most fun things you can do. It is also a great way to create unforgettable memories as well. However, it is more than just having fun. Traveling can improve your overall well being. Whether you just got out of a dual diagnosis rehab or have an overly stressful job, Traveling can help to improve your mental health in the following ways.
Many people experience stress in their life. Some people have more stress than others. Those who are working 60 hours a week, taking care of someone else, or perhaps in recovery from some mental state may be overly stressed. If you have a lot of stress in your life, you should know that traveling can be one way to reduce that stress. Traveling gives you the break you need from the daily struggles that are causing you stress. It gives you the chance to relax, rest, and recharge, so you can lower your stress levels. A study done in 2013 shows that traveling reduced the stress level of 89% of people. That was only with one or two days of traveling as well.
One of the main reasons someone may have a decline in their mental health is because they don’t know who they are anymore. They can’t connect to their true feelings or experience happiness from things they used to be passionate about. If this is the case for you, it may be time to reinvent yourself. Traveling can help you with this. You might want to explore a foreign country or just travel the United States. By doing this, you are expanding your mind, experiencing new cultures, and taking on challenges. You can learn more about yourself, so you can invent the “new you”.
Feeling More Satisfaction and Happiness
Traveling can help you to feel more satisfaction in your life as well. Many people with mental health issues aren’t satisfied with the life they are living. They are tired of their job, exhausted from their responsibilities, and constantly feeling overwhelmed. When you are traveling, you can let all those things go for awhile. You can feel satisfaction through your explorations. This satisfaction can allow more happiness to flow into your life as well. Traveling allows you to feel more fulfilled. One study done by Cornell University shows that even thinking about an upcoming trip can bring you happiness.
Improved Mental Resilience
Traveling can improve your mental resilience as well. When you head off to a new place, you can feel both intimidated and excited. You might feel scared but thrilled. The trip can help you strengthen both your emotional and mental resilience. There might be some obstacles you need to overcome when traveling. For example, you may need to learn a new language or deal with a situation when your car breaks down across the country. Overcoming these obstacles allows you to become more emotionally stable and strong. You learn to give up control and have patience.
Expressing Your Creative Side
When you travel, you also get to express your creative side. Adam Galinksy, a Columbia Business School Professor , states that going to a foreign place and getting into their environment, raises your cognitive flexibility. Traveling gets you thinking outside of your normal perspective. It enhances your creative side. The more you engage in the culture of the place you are traveling to, the more you can expand your creativity.
Going on a trip can help to improve your productivity. One of the main reasons someone may need to go on a trip is because they need a break from the daily struggles. They may need a break from work, caring for a loved one, or to refresh their own body and mind. When someone gets in this run down state, they aren’t going to be very productive. However, taking a trip can help to reduce these overwhelming sensations and improve productivity.
Traveling can help to improve behaviors as well. For instance, people who are depressed typically go into isolation. They avoid interacting with people or doing things they once enjoyed. This worsens the depressive state. If you suffer from depression, going on a trip can increase your interactions with others. It can get you moving which also helps to reduce depression as well.
Connecting to Nature
According to some studies, natural surroundings are often the best for promoting a better mental health state. Traveling can provide you with many natural experiences and connections. You might visit a mountain, go camping in the woods, or visit a natural spring. By doing this, you are connecting yourself to the world, to nature. You are connecting with something bigger than yourself. This often helps to improve mental health symptoms.
Trying New Things
One way to improve your mental health state is by trying new things. It is normal for people to avoid things because they feel uncomfortable doing them. However, trying new things also helps you learn who you are and what you enjoy. It allows you to take part in opportunities and enjoy new experiences. By doing this, you can create more happiness in your life. You can feel better mentally and emotionally.
If you need to improve your mental health state, traveling could be one way for you to do that. There are so many places you could explore in this world. There are so many different experiences you could have. Traveling could help improve your mental health state in so many ways. It could help you feel more happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, and contentment in your life as well.
Find that new travel opportunity today!
Adam Durnham is a freelance blogger that specializes in mental health, addiction, and recovery. Whenever he is not traveling, Adam lives in Detroit, Michigan with his travel buddy Beignet.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Bourbon! This creamy cocktail comes inspired not only by my new found appreciation of bourbon after an amazing experience in Louisville Kentucky, but also my love of tropical gardens. I wanted to find a way to bring Louisville on vacation to my home in Florida. This cocktail relies on the bold warm flavors of bourbon and surrounds it in a light botanical veil. Green Chartreuse is a severely under utilized spirit that adds an herbal complexity to a cocktail's flavor profile.
I've had no 'formal training' as a bartender, but I know spirits and flavors and I know what I like. This is a great cocktail to play with your own pallet and customize the drink to have sweeter notes by increasing the pineapple juice and lessening the Green Chartreuse, or make the drink more 'boozy' or herbaceous by decreasing the amount of pineapple juice and increasing the Green Chartreuse. The art of cocktail crafting is more of a personal creation as opposed to a rigid recipe that must be followed. Play and have fun!
2 oz. Bourbon
1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. Coconut milk
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
2 drops Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients into a tin shaker with ice and shake vigorously until the tin is very cold to the touch. Fine strain into your glass and garnish with edible flowers and coconut crisps.
I'm excited to hear from my fellow Sippin Gypsies!! Tell me what you think of this wintery tropical cocktail and please let me know what variations you try!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you from my friend Kayla of Our Start with some great tips for helping you prepare for flying with kids. As a mom and lover of travel, I really appreciated her suggestions, and have used several myself when traveling with my boys! Enjoy!
How to Survive an International Flight with Kids
Travel has so many benefits. Traveling exposes people to new cultures and new ways of seeing the world. Kids benefit from travel just as much if not more than adults. While traveling is fun and exciting, getting there requires a lot of steps. Flying is efficient and quick. At the same time, international flights with kids pose certain challenges. An international flight may take hours or even days to complete if there's a long layover. Parents need to think about ways they can help their kids relax and even enjoy long international flights with their children. There are many ways to help kids cope with the stress of leaving home and heading to another country. Careful, detailed advanced preparation along with an understanding of each child's precise needs is the best way to have a happy family trip from the very first moment it begins.
Ready and Rested
All kids need sleep. In fact, they need more sleep than adults. Teens also tend to have a clock that makes them stay up later at night and makes it harder for them to get up in the morning. Several days before the flight, push kids to get to bed earlier. Having enough sleep is one of the best ways for kids to feel at their best before boarding, during the flight and afterwards. Sleep also enables kids to communicate better with parents and reduces their feelings of being out of sorts.
While luggage restrictions make it hard to bring what children want when they're traveling by plane, it's possible to be thoughtful and work with such restrictions to help kids items they want with them as they travel internationally. Kids can participate in the act of packing. Let them do the investigating before boarding. Many airlines have a detailed list of what is allowed and what is not. Let the child do much of the packing of their own bags so they'll like what they have with them as they travel.
Interest Kids in the Route
International travel by air is incredibly exciting. During the course of the route, travelers can cross many bodies of water and many different countries. Kids should take the time to learn about where they're going. Kids can explore the exact route they're going to take in great detail. For example, if they are flying over parts of Europe, before the trip is the time to study the cultures of places like France and The Netherlands. Parents can encourage kids to study the history, culture and languages of each place and then point it out as they travel.
Flights between borders can take a lot of time. Now is the time to encourage kids to find clothing that lets them sit comfortably and move about freely. Little kids should have clothing that a parent can take off with ease if it gets dirty. Layers such as a jacket and a short sleeved shirt allow the child to respond to changes in temperatures as they leave and the flight continues. Older kids should be encouraged to look for fabrics like cotton that breathe and allow them to remove any stains fast.
Parents should remember that even international flights may not always much to eat or may offer food that kids find unpalatable. Provide kids with a small treat budget of their own. Spending time in an airport before the plane leaves typically means spending time in an area with lots of eating choices. Many airports have dozens of food choices from simple snacks to complete meals. Give kids the option of spending a small sum of money on food they like to eat.
Take Turns Parenting
In the course of leaving for a trip, boarding a plane and staying in the air, parent may be with their kids for hours at a time. Parents should set aside a designed time for each parent to supervise their kids and pay attention to their needs. The other parent can be the person who handles other details at this time such as interacting with airline officials, checking in baggage and staying on top of all necessary arrangements at their intended destination. One parent will make sure each child is adjusting to the plane ride and be there to answer any questions the child might have. This allows each parent some adult time during the flight and time to deal with their own personal needs.
Corresponding With Friends
Today's kids are more in touch with their friends than ever before. Many have updated social media accounts they use to share their experiences with the world. An international trip offers a way for kids to talk about their lives with their friends. Encourage kids to keep a flight journal they can share with friends. Let them share their excitement with their peer group. Many kids also have friends who live overseas. Kids should be reminded of the possibility of finally meeting with a friend for the first time. A long flight is easier to endure when they know someone's waiting for them at the other end.
Kayla Clough is the email specialist here at OurStart. Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Sorbet Sparklers! For this post my sparkler has gin and raspberry sorbet with fresh mint from my garden, while my sidekicks (my sons) are enjoying the nonalcoholic version of this tasty refresher.
This summer we piled in our Jeep and traversed the country from South to North by way of Atlanta GA, then onto Louisville KY and finally to Chicago IL for a family get together before trekking back home. My boys are turning 12 and 13, and this was their first ‘Road Trip’ vacation. We all had so much fun! To make the drive easier we purposely broke up the drive with overnight stays no more than a 6 hour distance from one city to the next, with time to stop for lunch/dinner after 2-3 hours in. This worked beautifully!
Atlanta was the first stop and a city I love dearly. This would end up being my forth time really enjoying the city. The boys loved the Aquarium and the chance to see all the different habitats and ecosystems influenced by oceans, lakes and rivers. The boys also really enjoyed finding some of the street art sprinkled around the city. They loved that people are allowed to paint pictures and murals on the outside of buildings! I loved watching their appreciation for all types of art and how it inspired them.
For more suggestions of what to do in Atlanta: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Playin': Atlanta
For dinner we spent time at Ponce City Market trying a little bit of almost everything there. We all agreed that HOPS Chicken was one of the best fried chicken we had ever had. We stocked up on desert between my favorite, Batter and the new Five Daughters Bakery…we had enough sugar pumping through us to certainly keep us awake for another drive, but we wanted to enjoy the city, and Centennial Olympic Park is beautiful at night. Atlanta was only a one-night stay for us on the way up North. It is an easy drive from where we live and decided to give ourselves more time in cities that were a bit further away.
For more suggestions of where to eat and drink in Atlanta: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Sippin': Atlanta
For suggestions of where to stay in Atlanta: 6 Cool Hotels in Atlanta and Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Restin': Atlanta
We woke up and started into the mountains of Northern Georgia and into Tennessee. I always find the mountains so majestic and humbling. We took turns picking songs on Spotify and sung our hearts out together as we wove through the countryside. Lunch was in Nashville. What a fun city! I am looking forward to spending a few days in this city soon. There were so many restaurant options. We ended up atThe Row which has seen several famous artists over the years.
Louisville Kentucky was our next stop for two nights on the way up, then again for a night on the way back home. One of my top priorities was to visit the Angels Envy Distillery, one my husband’s favorites bourbons. I have just begun to develop my pallet for bourbon, so this was an incredible way to truly understand the art and history of this dark spirit. Our tour guide Julie was fantastic. She not only has a passion for the Angel’s Envy brand, but also for the art of bourbon.
For more suggestions of what to do in Louisville: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Playin': Louisville
The food in Louisville was incredible. I took my time and did a lot of research before our road trip. I had read that Louisville had some new farm to table restaurants and some really impressive bars. I couldn’t stop eating. Everything was so delicious. A few memorable favorites were Butchertown Grocery and Naïve, both with fresh local foods and delicious well crafted cocktails.
For more suggestions of where to eat and drink in Louisville: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Sippin': Louisville
In a town packed with distilleries, it really raises the bar (no pun intended at all) for bar programs. Bartenders need to know their history of bourbon and respect the deep dedication to this spirit. Kevin and I used a booklet that also serves as a ‘passport’ to visit the bars and distilleries in Louisville proper, also known as The Urban Bourbon Trail. This guided us to some of the most amazing spots with passionate bartenders and mixologists and artistic and classic cockatils including Proof on Main and the Lobby Bar at the Brown Hotel and of course the Angel's Envy Distillery!
We spent one of the afternoons walking around historic Louisville, and the beautiful Victorian mansions. I picked up a book by local author, David Domine and we used his book to find out more about the haunted homes we walked past. We also really enjoyed The Big Four Bridge. What a great place to walk off dinner or pack a picnic and enjoy the river! Louisville definitely needed more than three nights. There was so much more we wanted to eat and explore. Kevin and I committed to coming back and bringing our bourbon loving friends along for a couples getaway.
The drive to Chicago from Louisville was so easy. The boys especially enjoyed the miles of windmills. We lost count, but it was hauntingly beautiful to drive through.
Then came the bridge into Chicago. What an experience. The boys hadn’t seen a city so big yet. It gave me chills to hear their excitement of the skyscrapers. This was Kevin and my second visit to Chicago. We opted to stay right in the River North neighborhood. We were close to everything.
Exploring Millennium Park was one of my boys favorite things to do in Chicago. We also spent a wonderful afternoon in the Art Institute. My cousin studied there, and has a passion for art, so having him as a tour guide was perfect. We also truly enjoyed the Architecture Tour from the boat. It was fun to ride through the city and sail past the concrete giants that adorn the city’s skyline.
For more suggestions of what to do in Chicago: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Playin': Chicago
The cocktail and cuisine scene in Chicago is amazing. We had so much amazing food and beautiful cocktails it really was hard to pick favorites. I loved the view of the river and skyline from Raised Bar. The boys really loved the food from Green Street Smoked Meats. Kevin and I enjoyed the sultry ambiance of Bavette’s where we ventured down a candle lit staircase into a speakeasy style hidden bar with incredible cocktails.. We concluded we needed a lot more time in Chicago. We felt we could’ve spent a week there and still not experienced everything on our lists.
For more suggestions of where to eat and drink in Chicago: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Sippin': Chicago
In the end, we loved our road trip. Time in the car was spent enjoying music or playing travel games. The boys had prepared for each city by doing a bit of their own research about the history of each city and at least one attraction they were interested in visiting. This kept their interest in each city as they were constantly on the look out for something they researched. The kids were also great at trying new flavors in each city. Kevin and I decided we will do another family road trip with the boys.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita, one of my favorite cocktails from EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando FL while reading a post from my friend Albion of AlbionGould after her recent trip to Disneyland Paris!
If you're a Disney parks fan, you can't leave Disneyland Paris off your list. Not only do you get some new Disney magic, it's located right next to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This post will tell you all the details of what you need to know before you visit Disneyland Paris.
We've always flown into Charles de Gaulle Airport. There are multiple ways to get to Disneyland from the airport. Both of our preferred methods depart from Terminal Two. The high speed train option will get you to the Disneyland stop in a matter of minutes--quite literally. The Disney station is Marne-la-Vallée/ Chessy Station. However, we don't take it when our kids are with us because it can be rather chaotic, especially if there's luggage involved. Our most used option is the Magical Shuttle. You can pre-book your tickets online or buy them from the desk. It obviously takes longer than the train, but we've found it to be much easier with the kids. The shuttle stops at all of the Disneyland hotels, a small hub in town with hotels, and at Disneyland itself. The final stop is right next to the train station where you would have ended up had you chosen the train.
Where to Stay:
Like the other Disney parks, Disneyland Paris offers multiple on-site properties. The main hotel (and most expensive) is located right on top of the front gates. All of the hotels have different theming and are comparable to their hotels in the States. There's a large selection of off-site properties that are just a three minute train ride away to choose from as well. We have four kids, so for both pricing reasons and to be able to all be in the same room, our hotel of choice is Residhome Val d'Europe. The hotel is located fifty feet from the train entrance and it's just one stop away from the parks, which is actually much quicker than some of the official Disney hotels.
Getting into Disneyland:
Disneyland Paris is most similar in layout to Disneyland (Anaheim). There's a courtyard where you can choose to go into Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios, or Disney Village. The entrance to Disneyland is quite different from the American versions. The main queue is below the hotel, but I have a secret for you! Go to the right of the building (you'll go under a walkway).
The left luggage office will be in front of you but just off to the left is another entrance. It's never as busy as the main entrance and there's no signage to tell first time visitors that it's there.
When to Visit:
Just as with other Disney parks, there are good and bad times to visit Disneyland Paris due to crowd size, but the schedule you need to watch out for isn't what you'd think. When you're planning your visit, make sure it doesn't coincide with a school break in the U.K. In England, you can't take your kids out of school without getting a fine, which means that they travel only over their breaks. While other breaks will make a difference too, the U.K. is the the one that brings the biggest crowd. If your visit needs to be at the same time, be prepared for quite long lines and some difficulty in restaurant seating.
Disneyland Paris features many of the big name rides that we know and love from the American parks--Space Mountain, Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more. They all have a bit of a twist on them, though. Space Mountain, for example, has more of a Jules Verne type theming. Pirates starts with the burning of the town and ends with the cave. There are also Paris specific rides, like Alice's Curious Labyrinth and Crush's Coaster.
I will be honest--I feel let down by the Disneyland Paris food. I love Disney food and was expecting a level above the American parks since Paris has such a great reputation. While the food in the parks is ok, it's really just ok. There are very few themed food options, all of the carts are basically the same, and the food just generally seems to be overpriced and rather blah. Disney Village has restaurant options and I would recommend those over the food actually in the parks.
Do I Need to Know French?
The short answer is no. We didn't encounter any cast members who didn't speak English. However, it is helpful (and polite!) to know how to say please and thank you at the very least. Also, at most rides the cast members will ask questions in French first, so if they're looking for a party of two to jump ahead, you can swoop on that if you can understand the question.
How Long Do I Need?
Disneyland Paris is on the small size (smaller than Anaheim). I would say that you don't need any more than two days to do both the parks and feel satisfied. Because of the proximity to Paris, I would highly recommend taking at least one day trip into the city while you're there.
I hope that this has given you a general overview of what you can expect from Disneyland Paris and that you're planning your own visit!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Gin! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy End of Summer Party Cocktail. My friend Rahat from India is sharing some of the best places to visit during one of the most vibrant and beautiful celebrations, Holi! Enjoy!!
Firstly I thank you for giving me an opportunity for writing a guest post for your site. So let's start the post by sharing my brief introduction. My name is Rahat Arora I am from India. As per my passion and interest I am a passionate traveler, love to explore new places and their cuisine and culture. I am a frequent traveler exploring different destinations in India for last 3 years. I have yet to visit destinations out of India...however, my list of travelling to abroad is getting bigger bigger and I am going to visit them soon and I share my travel experience through my blog www.traveltrivago.com
To know more about my travel experience follow my social media links:
Sharing a guest post on places to visit in India on the eve of Holi. Before sharing about the places let me give you breif introduction about Holi festival. Holi is one of the most fun loving festivals celebrated in India with lots of positive vibes. Holi festival is celebrated in the month of March and normally a festival celebrarted by all communities but Holi festival is very important for Hindu community. Holi is known as spring festival and also known as the festival of colors where people apply colors on each other faces.
During Holi festival whole India looks vibrant to enjoy the vibes of this festival but there are still certain places in India where you must visit to enjoy this festival.
Here are the few must visit places in India on the eve of Holi
1. Mathura & Vrindavan:
If you are planning to explore India during Holi festival then Mathura & Vribdavan is the most vibrant places in India to enjoy the festival. Mathura & Vrindavan is in Uttar Pradesh state of India and is very easily accessible by the means of railways and road from New Delhi the capital of India. I suggest you to visit a week before the eve of Holi because here the Holi is celebrated 1 week earlier different events.
To know about reasons to visit Mathura & Vrindavan 1 week reasons click the below link
Another popular town near Vrindavan which is approximately 40 kms. Tobreach Barsaane from Vrindavan buses andTaxi's are easily available from Vrindavan. Barsaane is famous for Lath Mar Holi where you must visit if you are visitibg to Mathura & Vribdavan. Barsana was the home of Radha where Krishna went to tease her and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women of Barsana chased him away. The main celebrations at Barsana, take place at the Ladliji temple, dedicated to Sri Radha Rani. The two day celebrations of Lath mar Holi is a unique experience. In the first day men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon travel to Barsana to tease the women there. The women chase men and hitting them with sticks, hence the name Lathmar Holi. Men are allowed to protect themselves with shields. The second day women from Barsana go to Nandgaon to play Holi with men of Nandgaon. To view this unique event Barsaane is must visit on the eve of Holi.
3. Anandpur Sahib:
Holi festival also celebrated by Sikh community in unique waycas they celebrate Holi (called as Hola Mohalla) at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab. To reach here from New Delhi railways and air are easily available. If you travel to Anandpur Sahib by train from New Delhi then you can catch these trains Uhl Janshatabdi (12057), Himachal Exp (14553) and Ned Uhl Sf Exp (22457) etc. The minimum time a train takes to reach Anandpur Sahib from New Delhi is 6h 15m.
To reach here by air their is no direct connectivity of flight between New Delhi and Anandpur Sahib. You can take IndiGo from New Delhi to Chandigarh then take taxi from Chandigarh to Anandpur Sahib to enjoy Hola Mohalla is an annual air celebrated a day after the Hindu festival of Holi. It was first organized by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh to celebrate Holi. Apparently, the name Hola is the masculine name of the feminine Holi. While the vibrant Holi festival boasts of sprinkling colors, Hola Mohalla takes the form of demonstrating martial skills in simulated battles.
4. Jaipur & Udaipur:
Holi is one of the major festivals celebrated in Rajasthan. The holi festival celebrated for two days. The first day of Holika Dahan is observed at the City Palace in Udaipur, among the most popular Tourist Places in Rajasthan. The customs of lighting the Holika Dahan is traditionally performed by the current custodian of the Mewar dynasty. The following morning, the celebrations of Holi are all out on the streets of Udaipur & Jaipur. An elephant festival kicks off the celebrations in Jaipur. Every year the Holi festival begins with a massive parade including elaborately decorated elephants, camels, horses, and folk dancing through the streets. The owners of these animals take significant pride in how they dress up the elephants or camels, and it is often a friendly competition amongst neighbors to see who can create the most lavishly decorated animal. There are also elephant polo, elephant races and tug-of-war between elephants.
Another popular place in Rajasthan. To reach here first you need to reach Ajmer city and from their Pushakr is only 11 kms away. Pushkar is one of the holiest places in India according to Hindu community. In Pushkar people gather and apply colors on their faces and just enjoy the vibes of this popular festival.
One of the things I love about Summer into Fall is the perfect not too hot, not too cool evenings, and amazing nights out in the back yard with friends enjoying the last few nights of late sunsets and the beginning of Autumn and all those nostalgic flavors.
I was challenged with a group party to want to offer my guests craft cocktails but struggled with everyone liking a different spirit and my not wanting to be trapped behind the bar for the whole night. After a little playing around with flavors and recipes and some tips from some of the amazing bartenders I admire here in my Orlando area, we came up with this fun party idea:
A batch recipe that would be a base for a cocktail to partner with almost any popular liquor. After a few weeks of playing with combinations, my favorite flavor combo was the refreshing Ginger Carrot!! Not too sweet, but perfect for sippin' and a great compliment to Tequila, Gin, Vodka or Whiskey!
For my party, I prepared the reduction and found cute single serve bottles where I had the reduction and a little crushed ice. I set the individual bottles with ice, squeeze of lemon juice and Ginger Carrot reduction in the freezer for three hours before the event to chill even more. As guests arrived, they were able top off with the spirit of their choice, shake slightly and enjoy directly from the small bottles! I was a wild success!
Equal parts Ginger Carrot Reduction to liquor
(my small party bottles held 3 oz. reduction and guests topped it off with an additional 2.5-3oz. of the liquor of their choice)
Juice of half a lemon
Short rosemary sprig
Ginger Carrot Reduction Recipe:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the following:
2 lbs of finely shredded of fresh carrots
½ cup turbinado sugar
½ lb of broken ginger pieces *if you want a stronger ginger flavor, use ½ lb of ginger but finely diced instead of large broken chunks
Zest of a large orange
3 pinches of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Let boil together for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon…. then remove from heat and cover.
Once cooled, strain through cheese cloth and refrigerate.
*Reduction will last in fridge for up to one week. To add a longer shelf life add 1/4oz. of a high proof grain alcohol (such as Everclear) to the reduction before bottling for storage.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Bourbon! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Summer Sour inspired by all the delicious cocktails I tried while visiting bourbon country: Lousiville Kentucky!
Louisville Kentucky is one of those perfectly sized cities. The downtown area is the spot for locals and tourists alike with a wonderful variety of things to do and places for incredible cocktails and cuisine! Staying downtown made it convenient to walk to almost everything, but driving and navigating the city really was also very very easy, and parking was never too challenging (keep in mind I was not there during the Kentucky Derby). While there are several options for well known brand hotels that would be well situated amidst all the action, I love lodging at historic locations to enhance my experience and really saturate myself into the city.
1. The Brown Hotel
Built in the 1920s, The Brown Hotel was designed to impress. Elegant details and a large ball room, the Brown Hotel was the place to be seen. The Brown Hotel stood through some tough times including prohibition and the Great Depression as well as a horrible flood in the 1930s. The Hotel closed briefly in the 1970s just after the passing of Mr. Brown. But the glory of this beautiful hotel would not lay quiet for long. The hotel was sold and remodeled several more times with the most recent acquisition by the 1859 Historic Hotels group. Her lobby is opulent yet inviting and the staff makes everyone feel like a VIP. Part of the fun, in my opinion, of visiting a historic hotel, is the ghost stories that accompany each location. There are rumors that the ghost of Mr. Brown still walks the halls of his hotel and mysterious happenings from the 15th floor, While I wasn't graced with a visit of Mr. Brown please let me know if your visit grants you a glimpse of him!
2. The Seelbach Hotel
This hotel was built with intention of bringing the grandeur of Europe's best hotels to Louisville. Originally built on the outskirts of downtown, The Seelbach is now perfectly situated to give you convenient access to most of the great spots in downtown Louisville. Although this impressive hotel has exchanged ownership several times, each owner and investor thankfully celebrated the opulence and exquisite details of the original owners, two brothers, Louis and Otto Seelbach from Germany. Opening it's doors just in time for the 1905 Kentucky Derby The Seelbach Hotel has remained a name of quality and decadence. This hotel also celebrates it's own resident ghost, The Lady in Blue. While I didn't catch a glimpse of her, several other guests have boasted catching the scent of her perfume or even a brief sighting before she disappears.
3.21c Museum Hotel
In a word: fun. This hotel doubles as an art gallery and makes you rethink what a hotel can offer in contribution to your experiences when traveling. Not only does the hotel offer intriguing and through provoking art displays through the gallery, the adjacent restaurant and bar,Proof on Main is one of the must do spots in Louisville. The rooms are spacious with clean modern lines and unique artwork. No ghost stories really accompany this unique hotel, just a great location and a fun way to rest while experiencing Louisville Kentucky
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!