The benefits of staying in a furnished apartment when traveling are innumerable – including lots of space, local insider knowledge, and the ability to stay in less touristy, more authentic neighborhoods.
However, finding a good apartment can feel overwhelming.
There are a lot of variables to consider, including price, location, cleanliness, and convenience.
Walking along the beach in Bali and gazing out over the expansive water was enough to make us dread our upcoming flight the next day.
A flight that would begin our 27-hour journey back to Philadelphia.
Flying home for the holidays sounded like a great idea — until it really sunk in that we would be in transit for longer then it takes most people to plan their entire trip.
Because this was not the first time, nor the last, that Trav and I would be embarking on such a long journey, we decided to make a list of all the things we do to make long-haul flights more enjoyable bearable. (more…)
2 Pair of jeans – A pair of semi dark skinny jeans are perfect because they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I bought this pair from J.Crew in June and have taken them on the past four trips – they definitely pulled their weight! Plus, they don’t stretch out so you can wear them multiple times before washing.
I almost always pack a pair of white denim. If that is not your jam, then consider a boyfriend jean or black or gray skinnies.
1-2 Pair of leggings – A cheap pair from Target always come in handy for travel days or even for pajamas. I always make sure to have a pair with me.
An upgraded pair is also a necessity. I wouldn’t wear the Target leggings out to dinner but I would wear these (and often have)! I also have this pair (similar pair) and wear them quite frequently at home and abroad – the space they take up rolled in my suitcase is negligible.
Slouchy pants – By far some of the most comfortable pants out there. The fact that these pajama-like pants are considered fashionable is great news for travelers – now we don’t have to worry about what to wear on the plane!
Pair these with a t-shirt and sweater with a pair of flats and you’re ready to go. My favorites include these from H&M and these from Old Navy.
1 Wool Jacket – This is a great option from Amazon.
1 Packable Puffer – This piece is perfect for layering or on those days you are doing more active activities. This Patagonia puffer is actually warm and can easily fit under a more structured jacket on those especially cold or damp days on the road.
1 Blazer (optional) – A black blazer is perfect for elevating any look to something extra special. It easily fits folded at the top of your suitcase and pairing it with a scarf and skinny jeans makes for a seriously chic evening look. A good blazer is worth the investment and I turn to J.Crew for the best versions.
1-2 Pair of running leggings
1-2 Sports bra
1-2 Active tops
1 Pair of Flats – Buy the most comfortable pair you can find – remember, you want to be able to walk around all day without blisters. My favorites are usually from Madewell and J.Crew.This pair will elevate any look and can be worn while sight seeing and then out to dinner. I also have a classic pair (similar to these but older) and they have held up well for the past three years.
1 Pair of Sneakers – My favorite pair of sneakers for travel are my Nike Internationalist – and not just because of the name! They are the most comfortable waking shoe and can even be worn for a run if I don’t have running shoes with me. If you want a running shoe, the most fashionable pair are neutral colored (I love black and white) Nike Frees.
1 Pair of Boots – I typically pack a pair of ankle boots or riding boots for those trips with cooler weather. I find ankle boots to be more versatile in fluctuating temperatures because you can wear them with long pants or with shorts and dresses if the weather is warmer. My favorite pair are Sam Edelman (pictured above but are sold out). Here is a similar pair – Sam Edelman Petty Boot.
1 Pair or Heels (If the occasion calls for it – otherwise don’t bother.)
Bonus – A simple pair of flip flops is a good idea to bring on every trip. This way you are prepared for a jaunt to the pool or spa.
2 Pair of Dainty Earrings – a simple pair of studs works with every outfit any time.
1 Pair of Statement Earrings – swapping out a pair of studs for statement earrings is an easy way to transition from day to night activities.
2-3 Dainty Necklaces – My favorite necklaces are from Layered and Long. I wear these constantly whether we are at home or traveling. (You can use the code EPOP10 for a discount).
1 Statement Necklace – Another easy way to take your look from day to night. The best necklace (and one I am currently coveting) is this versatile piece from Stella and Dot. You can wear the Plume Necklace in several different ways which makes it the perfect piece for travel!
1 Watch – My current favorite is this Michael Kors piece, which I wear practically everywhere.
Suitcase – Trav prefers to travel with a backpack but I love having a suitcase because I really hate schlepping a backpack over my shoulder all the time! I have had a very sturdy canvas Samsonite for the past three years. This is a great suitcase but I would love to upgrade to a sleeker option such as this Delsey hard shell luggage.
Tote Bag – I take my Cuyana tote with me on every trip. It is very resilient and looks great as well. If you prefer a day pack I also have my trusty Osprey (similar version) which I will take on occasional trips.
The above list is intended to take the guesswork out of packing and help you minimize your travel stress and your suitcase.
Tuscany is a vast area in central Italy where gorgeous landscapes of olive groves and vineyards are abundant. There are many cities to explore and countryside villas to stay at.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Tuscany, in under two minutes.
Want more details, including the best sandwich in the world and Trav’s pick for the best gelato?
Below are the Top 10 Things to do in Tuscany.
1. Stay in a Farmhouse
Tuscany has its fair share of beautiful villas to rent. We had the most unbelievable experience renting this farmhouse, which was a short 45-minute train ride to Florence.
If you would like to read the full review of our stay in Tuscany, click here.
The whole area of Tuscany effuses relaxation and a slower pace of life. It is almost impossible to feel stressed out in this region.
The people are friendly, the food is meant to be enjoyed and the wine flows freely. Make sure you take time to truly take in the atmosphere of this region.
3. Learn How to Make Italian Pizza
What better way to relax than to enjoy the simple process of pizza making. Fortunately, our farmhouse came equipped with our very own outdoor brick oven. (Read about our experience here.)
Nothing tastes as good as fresh pizza from a brick oven, and even better when made outside enjoying the countryside.
4. Wine Tasting
There are wineries spread throughout Tuscany. Make sure to do some research and visit ones that are locally operated and organic. (Sulfate-free means fewer headaches the next day).
The winery featured in this video is Fattoria Castellina – their Daino Bianco wine has a history that is very interesting to learn during the tasting.
If you stay at a local villa or farmhouse, your hosts should be able to tell you the best ones in the area.
5. Rent a Car
The best way to see Tuscany is by car. There are so many small villages to explore and the only way to get there is by car.
Make sure you have a GPS or some maps and hit the road. Some of our favorite small towns include Vinci (home to Leonardo De Vinci), Carmignano and all of the small towns in between. You might get lost, we certainly did, but it is all part of the adventure.
6. Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More
It is Italy, after all.
There are so many delicious places to eat in Tuscany including some of the best gelato and the most incredible sandwich you will ever eat at All’ Antico Vinaio.
Some of the quintessential Tuscan dishes include ribollita, porterhouse steak, wild boar and pecorino cheese.
One of the best restaurants to experience a classic Tuscan meal is at Trattoria Mario, where you can sample a traditional steak and don’t forget to order the ribollita (a delicious soup-like dish consisting of bread and vegetables simmered overnight and dosed in olive oil).
If you don’t feel like venturing out, you can find some of the most delicious meats and cheeses at any local grocery store. Just make sure you are brave enough to order at the butcher’s counter – it is worth it!
7. Spend the Day in Florence
With all of the eating in Florence (refer to #6), you would be crazy not to spend some time here. But food is only one of the reasons to explore this gorgeous city.
The Duomo is one of the most magnificent cathedrals ever built – and climbing to the top of it is worth the view.
There are also numerous museums and squares throughout the city. It is where many of the Renaissance artists resided and seeing Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia is an unforgettable experience.
8. All’ Antico Vinaio
Trust us, this sandwich is so good it deserves it’s own number.
There are so many great variations it can be overwhelming deciding exactly what to order. We recommend asking for their favorites or you can try one of ours:
Pecorino cheese spread with fennel salami, shaved zucchini, and eggplant
Prosciutto with mozzarella, tomato, arugula, and olive oil
9. Indulge in Gelato
Trav’s pick for the best gelato is Gelateria dei Neri in Florence. However, most gelato shops in Italy are legitimately delicious, just make sure to follow the gelato pro tip! We are also fond of La Carraia – with multiple locations around Florence, and Le Bonta in Lucca.
10. Visit Lucca
This charming medieval town in northwest Tuscany is the perfect day trip. You can walk around the city walls and wander through the various alleys and streets throughout the city.
The Piazza San Michelle and the Lucca Cathedral (Duomo di San Martino) present the perfect picture-taking opportunity. Lucca is just the right size to wander around for a day and feel like you have seen almost everything.
If you are planning a trip to Europe, then Tuscany is the best place for a rejuvenating yet adventurous vacation. It is one of my favorite places in the world and is perfect for a summer or autumn trip.
The best part of our time in Tuscany was acclimating to the local culture. We stayed for two weeks and by the end of our time the women behind the deli counter recognized us and we had no problem ordering and then picking up that 4Euro bottle of red to go with it all.
If you book the same apartment we did, we can guarantee you will have an excellent experience as our hosts were some of the best people we have met.
Have you ever been to Tuscany? If so, what are your top 10 things to do there?
Further Reading (Posts handpicked for you, by us!)
None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!