• Driving the Dingle Peninsula

    Adare Manor + The Dingle Peninsula

    Our road trip continues from a morning at the Adare Manor, to our drive through the Dingle Peninsula.

  • Dinner at Dromoland Castle in Ireland

    Ireland: Dromoland Castle + the Inn at Dromoland

    The magic really begins with a stay at the Dromoland Estate and dinner at Dromoland Castle.

  • Cahir Castle, Ireland

    Ireland: The Road Trip Begins

    Our Irish road trip begins! Our first day takes us to the Dromoland Estate via the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.

  • Jameson Distillery, Dublin

    Dublin: Trinity College + Jameson Distillery

    Day 2 in Dublin: Trinity College, Local Markets + a great afternoon at the Jameson Distillery.

  • Dublin Hop On Hop Off

    Dublin: Hop On Hop Off Tour

    Day 1 in Dublin, exploring the city from the Hop On Hop Off bus.

Driving the Dingle Peninsula

Our Irish road trip continues!

After a magical evening at Dromoland Castle, we were en route to County Kerry where we would be based for the remainder of our time in Ireland. I had heard incredible things about Adare Manor and put it on our itinerary for the day as a stop on our way south.

The town of Adare is utterly charming (the recipient of a tidy town award), and the manor itself is worth a visit to take in the sheer beauty of the facade. Unlike the traditional castles we’d seen, this is a manor home but is vaguely reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. The hedges in front of the manor, plus the series of brightly colored flowers just add to the overall beauty of the space. We were incredibly lucky: the sun was shining for us, and the entire space was truly illuminated and transformed in the sunlight. We had originally planned on stopping for breakfast at the manor but instead opted for a quick brunch in the town of Adare at quaint Main Street haunt, The Good Room Cafe. After coffee and a light bite, we said goodbye to the tiny town so we could head south to the Dingle Peninsula.

Keep reading for a recap + photos from Dingle and the Conor Pass!

Adare Manor, IrelandAdare Manor, IrelandAdare Manor, IrelandAdare Manor, IrelandAdare Manor, IrelandAdare Manor, Ireland Read More

Dinner at Dromoland Castle in Ireland

For an evening we lived an absolute fairytale. After a day of seeing impressive castle ruins at the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle, we made our way to Newmarket-on-Fergus, the home of the Dromoland Estate. The stop was a bit out-of-the-way on our journey to County Kerry, but knowing my dad’s love for castles and my mom’s desire to see castles, I knew it would be worth the stop over.

A stay at Dromoland Castle itself didn’t fit into our budget for the trip. In lieu, I booked us two rooms at the Inn at Dromoland, a less posh though absolutely suitable hotel on the same estate as the castle itself. We arrived with enough time to get ready for dinner, which I had arranged in advance at the Earl of Thomond, the restaurant at Dromoland Castle. Knowing that we wouldn’t be able to stay at the castle overnight, a dinner there seemed like a great way for us to enjoy the castle grounds and see the interiors. Upon check-in, the concierge at helped us within arranging a car to collect us from the inn and take us to the castle for dinner, which allowed all of us to enjoy the evening without worrying about driving home afterwards.

Dromoland Castle, Ireland

“Your ride awaits.”

My mom received the call in her room when the van pulled up, and giddily told my sister and I that our ride was waiting outside. I had already felt like I’d been transported into a scene of Beauty and the Beast at Trinity College’s library in Dublin, but the fairy tale continued in a major way for our evening at the castle.

We arrived about 45 minutes early with the expectation of grabbing a drink at the bar. The castle’s façade alone is otherworldly, with green and red ivy crawling up the stone walls. Unlike the ruins we had seen earlier, Dromoland is an active castle hotel and clearly the product of a major investment to live up to its five-star standard. Many larger tour groups providing guided tours of Ireland include a night at Dromoland Castle in the offering, and it’s easy to see why. The castle grounds are pretty spectacular, plus beyond the accommodations guests have access to a range of options on-site including falconry, fishery and archery.  Read More

Cahir Castle, Ireland

Ireland on the Road: Rock of Cashel + Cahir Castle

After two days in Dublin, we were off to begin our road trip through Ireland. Our main focus for the week would be in County Kerry, but first we wanted to head to the Dromoland Estate via the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.

For anyone thinking about renting a car and road tripping through Ireland, it’s an absolutely fabulous way to see what the country has to offer on your own timeframe. You have the autonomy and flexibility to stop where you want, leave when you want, pop into any shops, restaurants, pubs or points of interest without being on any sort of time frame. Stay tuned for my post on tips for renting a car in Ireland, plus things to keep in mind when choosing your vehicle – we learned a lot during this process!

Road Trip through IrelandRoad Trip through Ireland

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel, Ireland

Our first stop was in County Tipperary at the Rock of Cashel, about a two hour drive from Dublin. I had heard about the Rock of Cashel from an Irish friend of mine during graduate school. When I visited Ireland previously, she asked if I had made the journey to the iconic site but my adventure hadn’t taken me out that way.

Since we were driving the country on our own this time (no public transport), we had the flexibility to cater our path to take in as many sites as possible. The Rock of Cashel and nearby Cahir Castle made the cut for our first day of driving.

While we had some sun during our drive, it faded away by the time we had reached the Rock of Cashel. Rain clouds and wind replaced the warmth and we bundled up to made the trek to the castle entry a bit more bearable. The ruins, sitting up on the hilltop, are immediately identifiable as you pull into the town of Cashel. Tours take place every hour on the half hour and we had arrived just in time for the 11:30AM tour, which is a great way to see the site and add a layer of history and understanding to what you’re seeing.

Our guide was hugely informative and took us through the space, showing us key interiors and some highlights from the grounds. To be honest, the weather was hellish, which made the experience tough since we were trying to listen while shivering. I had always thought the Rock of Cashel was a castle and wondered why it was referred to as a ‘rock’ instead. In actuality, the space once served as home for royalty (perhaps in the 3rd and 4th centuries) before it was given to the church and used as a religious compound of sorts beginning in the 12th century or so. From the tower, huge distances are visible on a clear day. The space ended up being abandoned because of the elements; winds of hurricane proportion blew through the area and the cold and conditions became so unbearable that the residents called it quits. My mom, dressed absolutely terribly for the weather, was shivering violently and quickly recognized why people would leave; a pretty space, but a tough place to withstand the elements.

I couldn’t grab many photos since the rain was coming down throughout the entire tour, but the space itself is remarkable and incredibly imposing. The ruins are still in very good shape considering how long they’ve been standing, and all of the restoration that’s been done replicates what it would have been like centuries ago. As morbid as this sounds, the burial plots surrounding the compound are astoundingly beautiful. The green is dotted with stone Celtic crosses marking burial sites of those passed, and there are still three burial plots left to be filled with the last living plot holders (the youngest is 84). If you visit, be prepared to see scaffolding – it’s not pretty, but it’s necessary to keep the ruins from falling into total ruination.

Learn more about the Rock of Cashel here, and continue reading to see pictures + notes from our stop at Cahir Castle.

Rock of Cashel, IrelandRock of Cashel, Ireland Read More

Jameson Distillery, Dublin

Our first day in Dublin was jam-packed and a bit zombie-like for all of us after our long flight from Las Vegas. For our second, and final, day in Dublin we were much more alive and ready to explore a couple of other key destinations. On our radar: the Book of Kells (my one request), plus the Jameson Distillery. During my first visit to Dublin years ago, I didn’t make it into Trinity College to see the Book of Kells or Trinity’s famous library (4.2 million books housed there). This time, I vowed that I’d make it in to tour the area, and even prepped by watching The Secret of Kells beforehand to get some inside scoop into the history.

Book of Kells, Trinity College

Trinity College, Dublin

Everything I read urged visitors to head to Trinity College early in the morning to see the Book of Kells to avoid the long queues that can form later in the day. We made Trinity our first stop and easily found the entry point to the exhibition, which houses the Book of Kells in an incredibly informative and educational way. Tickets were roughly €10 each, with discounts for students and seniors. To my mind, this is a worthwhile investment if you’re interested in learning a bit more about the manuscripts, the monks involved, the writing process, old Irish script, etc. The book itself was written around 800AD and contains the four gospels of the New Testament. After the exhibition and getting to see the actual book, visitors are led into the Long Room, Trinity’s massive library which is 65 meters long and houses 200,000 of the college’s oldest books. I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast walking through this place, which is a highlight in and of itself.

Read more about the Book of Kells here.

The Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin  trinity-t&d

Art, Food + Book Markets in Dublin

Dublin Art Market

After Trinity College we only had one real objective left: the Jameson Distillery. First, we needed food, and I had read about a series of fabulous markets that happen on Saturdays in Dublin. In Temple Bar, there was a book market, a food market and a crafts market to uncover and we were on a mission to find all three.

The book market was small, and of little interest to anyone when we finally found it (located in the main Temple Bar square). The food and art markets on the other hand were of interest to everyone. In lieu of a normal lunch, we meandered to the food market and each found a stall that interested us before reconvening at a central table. Washed down with a hot spiked cider, it was perfection on a crisp fall day. The crafts market, while relatively small, still had a number of fun stalls to explore though we left empty-handed.

Read more about markets in Dublin here.Dublin Food MarketDublin Food Market

Jameson Distillery

Jameson Distillery, Dublin

After lunch, we made our way to the Jameson Distillery on foot. I’ll be honest: I don’t like whisky. I knew that the boys would want to visit the factory, though, and that it would be an educational experience at the very least. Read More

Dublin Hop On Hop Off

Day 1 Dublin City Highlights

We landed in Dublin around 6:45AM running on very little sleep but fueled by a load of energy and excitement. Our first stop was the Cliff Town House on St. Stephen’s Green, a boutique hotel in Dublin that we called home for two nights. We were far too early for check-in, but we were able to drop off our luggage, spruce up and make our way out.

With limited in time in Ireland’s capital, we opted to purchase tickets for 48 hours on the Hop On Hop Off bus operated by City Sightseeing Dublin. When I’m in a city for a brief period of time, I love this option for getting my bearings and seeing some key sites while avoiding the costs of cabs as much as possible. For less than €20 each (seniors and students be sure to bring your IDs to claim your discounts – there are many!) we had access to many of Dublin’s top sites, and commentary about our the surroundings during our journey. There are nearly two dozen sites to choose from and you could easily spend the full two days exploring everything the city has to offer. Here’s how we spent our first day in Dublin on the Hop On Hop Off Bus:

Temple Bar

Temple Bar, Dublin, IrelandHop On Hop Off Bus, Dublin, Ireland

We entered at Stop 7 located on St. Stephen’s Green, directly opposite our hotel and rode just a short way to Temple Bar. Even those who haven’t been to Dublin will likely recognize the Temple Bar neighborhood as being the nightlife hub of Dublin, dotted with charming pubs and boutiques. The area is much more alive at night, but by day it’s still captivating in its own right. Brick buildings touch candy-colored pubs, and flowers and flags decorate many of the facades. We walked through while the city seemed to be waking up; the Guinness truck was doing out barrels upon barrels of beer, and restauranteurs were slowly opening doors for lunch and an afternoon pint.

Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland@St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland

Christ Church + St. Patrick’s Cathedrals

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

After strolling through Temple Bar, we made our way to Christ Church Cathedral for a dose of morning history (this is another stop on the Hop On Hop Off if you wanted to bus it). I visited Christ Church during my last visit to Dublin and found it absolutely stunning. The cathedral itself is a beauty but it’s the history, dating back to the 11th century, that makes it an absolute must-see.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandChrist Church Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandChrist Church Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandChrist Church Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandChrist Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

We continued our cathedral hopping at St. Patrick’s; we were too close to pass it up. During my last visit, I skipped over it, just scoping out the facade and scooting by. This time, we went inside to compare and contrast St. Patrick’s (late 12th century) with Christ Church. If you’re a cathedral, architecture or history person, you should probably visit both. The inside of St. Patrick’s has some incredible stained glass (always a favorite of mine), and a stunning set of flags decorating the inside.

From a design and aesthetic perspective my dad preferred St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but both are gorgeous in their own ways. For anyone interested in purchasing a Heritage Card, do note that neither of these cathedrals falls under the Office of Public Works so you’ll have to dole out the cash for the entry fees on each of these.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandSt. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandSt. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

Keep reading to see snapshots from the Guinness Storehouse! Read More

Ireland Family Roadtrip

Our trip to Ireland marks a milestone birthday for my father, and maybe even more importantly the first ever international family trip that we’ve been on together. Ireland has long been on my father’s bucket list so it seemed a natural destination for our celebratory excursion when we were brainstorming this getaway. Together, we’ll be spending two days in Dublin followed by an Irish road trip that will have us delving into County Kerry with some world-class scenic drives.

This forthcoming series of posts will be slightly different from any others historically in that my entire family will be in tow. The five of us represent a medley of personalities and interests – as do most families – so I thought it may be fun for us (and for others) to profile all of the travelers on this trip along with each person’s highlights along the way. You may identify with one of us more than another and my hope is that we can collectively highlight what a family road trip through Ireland can be, and how our range of interests can be represented during this getaway.

So, without further ado, the team:

Shannon {The Blogger}

Upper Falls, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Okay, okay. No profile really needed here as I think my interests and personality have come through in this blog over the last six years but it may be worth giving a brief blurb.

Clearly, I love traveling, and while I’ve enjoyed our adventures around the world, Europe remains my favorite continent for travel. I love the variety of cultures and languages represented within the continent, and always find myself enchanted with the architecture and European history. I’m the typical eldest child: I’m the planner in the family, and while I may waffle on the side of over planning, I’ve learned to value flexibility and love the opportunity for unplanned adventures (as long as I feel prepared for a destination broadly). I prefer coffee to tea, red wine to white wine, and am not a big fan of beer or whiskey (which is relevant for this particular trip). In a pub, I nearly exclusively order cider if it’s available. I love experiencing live music, always prefer quaint boutiques and shops to mega complexes when traveling, and will never pass up a market (especially a farmer’s market). I’m a pescetarian but love sampling local cuisine as much as possible. I’ve been to Ireland one time before in 2010, spending time in Dublin and the West Coast.

What I’m most looking forward to in Ireland, besides spending time with my family: exploring castles, scoping out Irish landscape, and experiencing Skellig Michael. 

Scott {The Husband}

Lugards Falls, Tsavo East, Hiking in Tsavo East, Galdessa

Whether or not I’ve detailed my husband’s likes and dislikes in the past, I think his personality has come through a bit as we’ve traveled together over the years. Scott is the ultimate travel partner and we travel remarkably well together (one of the selling points when we decided to tie the knot). Like me, he’s the oldest child and bears many of the same symptoms: he’s a researcher and a planner that’s generally the responsible one in a group, though his FOMO is second to none. He grew up with globe-trotting parents and has traveled more extensively than I have. He has a particular love for China (and Asia broadly) though enjoys Europe as much as the next traveler. If given the choice of buying clothes or spending the money on a great meal, he’d always opt for the great meal, especially when traveling in a new destination. He’s spent very little time in the UK and has never been to Ireland before, and is excited to experience the pub culture and camaraderie that the destination has become known for. Unlike me, he’s a carnivore, and a beer and whiskey lover, which makes Irish pub culture particularly enticing. He always prefers off-the-beaten path spots to tourist go-tos and loves to experience real local culture in destinations that are not always on other people’s radar. He’s the biggest foodie of the group (but not a food snob), and is excited about the farm-to-table renaissance happening in Ireland.

What he’s most looking forward to in Ireland: Irish pub culture, trad music, and beer + whiskey tastings.

Rick {The Dad}


This trip all began during a brainstorming session for my father’s 60th birthday. Ireland and Scotland were both at the top of his bucket list and while we weren’t sure we’d be able to pull it off, we’ve made it happen! We’re here because of him. He’s probably the biggest history buff in the group and is a lover of medieval history in particular. He’d be in heaven spending a week exploring castles, cathedrals and manors and reading about the history of every place he’s visiting. Beyond this historical component, he loves the fantasy elements that come with Irish tradition. He loves museums, perhaps more than all of us, but also loves good beer and whiskey. While he’s also the oldest child in his family, he’s less of a planner, is less inclined to try to seek out hidden gems in advance, and would naturally prefer to see where the day takes him. He’d generally prefer dining in a pub to a fine dining experience, likes local outdoor markets and would easily be happy visiting a collection of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 spots in any given city. His previous travels have been primarily within Western Europe, but this trip will mark his first time in Ireland.

What he’s most looking forward to in Ireland: Pub culture, getting a taste of authentic Ireland, visiting castles, and enjoying the scenery.

Grace {The Mom}


Where do I start? Firstly, my parents are divorced (this comes as a shock to some people since they’ve remained best friends), but still love spending time together and get along remarkably well. My mom was born and raised in Malta and has traveled relatively little outside of the United States. She has an incredibly child-like spirit and is entertained and excited with nearly everything. I mean this in the kindest way possible: she’s a typical tourist. She loves taking photos and videos of everything, and while she’s invested in great equipment (that she bought on QVC), she hasn’t really learned how to use any of it yet (we’re hoping she’ll be able to practice in Ireland!). She’s been known to crop off a few heads in photos so we’re diligient about double-checking the quality when she’s playing photographer. She’s not overly interested in history or in culture, and museums are some of her least favorite places generally speaking. She likes seeing things. She loves the idea of seeing castles and landscapes and horseback riding, and her desire to see Ireland has grown since she saw it showcased on The Bachelorette. She’s the perfect candidate for a guided bus tour with a set itinerary and group since she would normally have a hard time navigating a city on her own if left to her own devices. In a pub, she’d likely order a shandy or a cider though she likes beer more than I do. She’d far prefer a casual local restaurant to a fine dining experience, and also loves local markets, especially if she can haggle. Beyond Malta, this is the first European destination she will have visited.

What she’s most looking forward to in Ireland: exploring castles and visiting breweries.

Tiffany {The Sister}

The Traveling Scholar

My sister is four years younger than I am and falls very much into the second child persona. She’s a bit more of a risk taker than I am and could best be described as eclectic. She has blue hair, a myriad of tattoos including a foot tat of a dinosaur with a monocle, and is interested in a future in criminal psychology. She’s always up for any adventure (but would hate to plan it), and can always be counted on to boost the group’s energy. Unlike me, she’s likely to leave a destination having taken zero photos and would always prefer to live in the moment (she signed up for Facebook just last year). If we were playing pub trivia, I’d want her on my team. She’s incredibly smart, knows some of the world’s most random facts, and enjoys learning outside of a classroom setting. Her first international trip was a visit to London when I was living there (you’ll remember our Eurotrip here) and loves the idea of European travel. She’d generally prefer spending a day drinking a pint in a pub than visiting a museum though she loves sightseeing in new destinations and does actually enjoy a well done museum. She loves good beer (well, any beer really), and would be first in line for a whisky tasting even if she’s not the biggest fan of whisky. While we’re incredibly different, she’s my best friend and knows me better than anyone; despite our somewhat different interests, we have a blast together. Like my dad, most of her travels have been within Western Europe and this will mark her first visit to Ireland.

What she’s most looking forward to in Ireland: experiencing authentic Irish culture, seeing architecture.

And we’re off to the races! We’ll start off in Dublin and then continue on with our adventures throughout the country. Stay tuned to follow our adventures, see snapshots and videos of our favorite experiences, and check out our itineraries. Follow our adventures in realtime on Instagram using #shamrock60!

xo from 35,000 feet,

Shannon Kircher

Group Planning in Las Vegas

Party planning + group coordination in Vegas

Looking to celebrate a special occasion in Las Vegas with a group? Here are some tips and ideas for making the most out of your time in Sin City.

We spent three days in Las Vegas for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration and I was very excited to be the party planner for the event. We began discussions of this over a year in advance as we had guests coming in from all over the US and internationally. Our main objective: get everyone into the city for a great multi-day event but don’t over plan for people. Many of the people joining us hadn’t been to Las Vegas before and the last thing I wanted was to be dictating their entire trip. Instead, I planned events or dinners daily and allowed people to opt in. The one exception to this was the birthday dinner on my grandmother’s actual birthday where we kindly requested that all attendees join.


Aria, Las Vegas

A year prior to the event, I worked with the social coordinator at the Mirage to strike a room deal and offer special rates to our group. We were working with people representing a range of budgets and tastes and this proved to be a great option in terms of value and location. Scott and I scouted out the rooms a year prior and were astoundingly impressed with the rooms and service across the board. For us, with a 90th birthday party, we wanted a hotel on the ‘smaller’ side (I realize that in Vegas ‘smaller’ is on a different scale), so this fit the bill. I love the Palazzo, Venetian and the Wynn (pictured) but the size of those properties made them rather inaccessible for our guest of honor.

In working with the coordinator, I was able to secure special rates without having to guarantee anything, which was my biggest concern. Our rooms went into a pool and guests were able to call in to book or book online with a special link. The room block expired one month prior to the event, giving people plenty of time to secure. Plus, with only one night due as a deposit and a flexible cancellation policy, no one had any issues with being able to secure from a financial perspective. For us, I secured the two-bedroom hospitality suite to act as our ‘home base’ for guests. For groups, I find that having a hub is a great perk so people have a place to meet, congregate, and hang at the end of the night. Our room was the perfect meeting point for all attendees before heading to dinners and events.


Group Dinner at Wicked Spoon, Las Vegas

Honestly, I find dinners to be the biggest headache when dealing with groups. How do we pay the bill? Do we split evenly? What if someone orders seven cocktails and others in the group are non-drinkers? What about people with different tastes or dietary restrictions? Ugh. There are so many things to take into consideration.

Our solution after reaching out to the majority of hotels for group menus and options was this: a ‘mandatory’ dinner on the birthday night at Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan. Yes, a Vegas buffet. I can’t even tell you how opposed I was to this idea initially. A buffet for a birthday dinner? I was toying with the idea of a fancy steakhouse or a cool Asian fusion restaurant, but the reality is that we were dealing with a range of guests. I was asking all attendees to be there and it wouldn’t be fair of me to rope people into a $100+ meal if their budgets couldn’t allow that. Plus, people have different tastes: we had some attendees that are happy to splurge on expensive tasting menus, and some that would find a casual Mexican spot the perfect option for any evening out. A buffet solved all of my problems: we had an extremely reasonable set price per person inclusive of non-alcoholic beverages, there were options for everyone available regardless of tastes and dietary restrictions. I did sign a contract obligating me to provide the final number of diners five days in advance but that seemed a simple enough task.

And let’s be honest: this wasn’t a $15 dinner buffet at a two-star hotel; the Cosmopolitan does it right and everything is absolutely top-notch. Plus, the setting was the perfect place to grab a drink beforehand at the Chandelier Bar so we could all migrate to dinner together.

In terms of payment, here’s what I found the easiest: I calculated the total price per person inclusive of gratuity and taxes and shared this cost with all attendees for the sake of transparency. I personally put all of this on my credit card and had all guests pay me either in cash the night of or in advance via PayPal. For drinks, guests were able to order through a cocktailer who was on hand to take orders – we had absolutely zero issues with this.

For other dinners, I selected restaurants that made sense. For us, it was Sushisamba at the Palazzo for one night, plus Five50 at the Aria another night. I gave people the option for both of these, and sent out menus so people had an idea of pricing and knew what they were getting into. Read More

90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas

We are incredibly lucky to be able to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday! At 90, she’s still in amazing shape, and we couldn’t think of a more fun and accessible place for her to ring in her new decade than Las Vegas. With 18 people in tow, we celebrated with her over the course of three days, complete with custom swag for the birthday girl and attendees.

We did group dinners at Sushisamba, Wicked Spoon and Five50, watched Zarkana for most people’s first ever Cirque experience, scoped out the Strip from the High Roller, listened to live music at piano bars, and spent our days popping into different resorts and taking it all in. Check out some snapshots from our celebration:

90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas90th Birthday Party, Las Vegas Read More

3 Weeks in a Carry-On Suitecase

From Vegas to Ireland and Beyond in a Carry-On

If you’re trying to travel carry-on only, you’ve likely read a thousand posts on this and have probably seen a million pins on Pinterest dedicated to going carry-on only. For weekend getaways, this is a no-brainer, and even for trips within the same climate a carry-on seems feasible enough. When we visited Brazil and Argentina in May, I went with only a carry-on for nine days and had items that went unworn during our trip!

We’re embarking on a trip tomorrow that’s entirely different, though. It involves different climates and vastly different situations which had me questioning whether 3 weeks in a carry-on could actually be possible. So, imagine this:

  • Four days in Las Vegas for a 90th birthday party (low 100s)
  • Eight days on an Irish road trip (low 60s), including a family photo shoot in Killarney National Park
  • Seven days in Basque Country, including two days of wine tasting in La Rioja (70s)

Tips for Carry-On Packing for Different Climates

  1. My biggest saving grace? Packing cubes. I love Eagle Creek’s version, but I’m sure any variety would work. In this case, I was able to use the mid-sized and large-sized to essentially delineate different climates. So, my Vegas/warm-weather clothes were tightly rolled into my mid-sized cube, while my large cube housed my cooler weather clothing (e.g. pants, 7 or so shirts, two scarves, etc.). The cubes help to compress and organize but are also handy in the sense that I’ll easily be able to identify which clothes I’ll want to unpack in which setting. So, when we get to Vegas, my mid-sized bag will pop out with shorts and mini dresses ready to be hung for our short stint there. It’s honestly magic how much these little cubes can hold if you roll tightly and pack well.
  2. Edit, edit, edit your shoe selection. Shoes are my biggest downfall when it comes to packing, but I’ve finally learned to be real with myself when we’re traveling. Naturally I wanted to bring a great pair of heels to Vegas but the reality is that I’d wear them a couple of times there and then never again during the remainder of our trip. Instead, I opted for a pair of tan wedges that can go with anything and easily be worn walking around at night in Europe or even during the day when wine tasting. Other shoes include a pair of comfy flip-flops for day time wandering, and a pair of mid-calf boots that are comfy enough for sightseeing and cute enough to wear out at night. Many other things crossed my mind (cute sandals, riding boots, etc.) but they were all gratuitous. You really don’t need more than three pairs of shoes (and you’ll be wearing one of them)!
  3. Pick a color family. If you stick with a general color theme, you can mix and match much more easily. I opted for neutrals but you could go with something bolder if you had clothing to fit that profile. I’m taking a pair of jeans, black denim and black leggings for bottoms, so any neutrals can mix perfectly fine with those. My tops are generally all neutrals with a couple of exceptions. It seems boring, but accessories can totally change up an outfit and boost something simple for an evening out.
  4. Plan for layering. For me, the best way of approaching a multi-climate situation was in layers. Vegas is hot, San Sebastian will be relatively warm, and Ireland will be relatively cool. Scarves, sweaters, and a jacket could take something that’s a bit more warm weather friendly and make it cool weather appropriate.

Read More

Anguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach Resort

We always encourage our guests to get out on the water to see Anguilla from a different perspective. The off island cays are gems, plus the rugged landscape of Little Bay and pristine beaches lining the island are mesmerizing by water. When we began planning our weeklong event, we knew that we had to include one day of beach hopping for the full island experience.

With 20+ of us in tow, there was no way we were going to squeeze onto our boat for the day so we partnered with Anguilla-based Funtime Charters to join us in escorting people from one postcard-perfect locale to the next. The weather this week has been absolutely brilliant which just added to the overall wow factor of the experience.

Anguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach ResortAnguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach Resort

Stop 1: Prickly Pear

We had originally discussed doing lunch at Prickly Pear but options were limited with the off-season schedule. Regardless, we knew that a stop here was non-negotiable. The beach at Prickly Pear is one of my favorites in the whole of Anguilla; pristine white sand against a near neon shade of turquoise with perfectly-placed pops of green dotting the island. It was the ideal place for a first stop; we floated, chatted, sipped and explored until the earliest part of the afternoon.

Anguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach ResortAnguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach ResortAnguilla Island Hopping with Frangipani Beach Resort

Stop 2: Lunch at Sandy Island

Sandy Island is a postcard. I’d actually never eaten there before, but I’m always in utter awe as we pull up to this little spit of sand in the middle of the sea. This time we opted for a Caribbean buffet for our group to ensure that we were all eating at the same time. Shrimp skewers, fresh grouper, BBQ ribs and chicken made their way to the table in a family-style fashion, accompanied by a slew of traditional Caribbean sides (think rice & peas, and pasta salad). Washed down with painkillers and rum punch, it was absolute perfection. The view here always urges me to just stop and stare for a moment to take it all in.

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Stop 3: Shoal Bay (not featured) + Little Bay

Anguilla Boat Trip

We still had hours left after lunch and there was more on our agenda to see. With time for about two more stops, Shoal Bay and Little Bay were musts. Shoal Bay isn’t featured in any of these photos, but it is a lovely stretch of beach and is arguably the most famous beach in Anguilla. To be honest, I’ve never quite understood what makes Shoal Bay ‘better’ than Meads Bay or any of the other world-class beaches on the island, but its fame makes it a must-see for most guests.

On the other hand, it’s clear what keeps Little Bay top of mind for visitors to the island. The tiny, protected cove is only accessible by boat (or by a rope that you can climb down), and the dramatic cliffs and landscape are relatively unique on the island. The rugged terrain reminds me more of an image out of Southeast Asia than it does the Caribbean, and the craggy face of the cliff surrounding the cove is breathtaking. Plus, there’s the famous Little Bay rock that’s a veritable rite of passage for many.

Anguilla Boat Trip with Frangipani Beach ResortAnguilla Boat Trip with Frangipani Beach ResortLittle Bay, Anguilla Boat Trip with Frangipani Beach ResortAnguilla Boat Trip with Frangipani Beach Resort

After a day of sun, sand and sea, we enjoyed a slow cruise into Sandy Ground while the sun was setting. We spent the remainder of our evening there, casually dining on Mexican fare at Elvis’ on the beach.

In hindsight, this was a highlight for me from our event week, perhaps the highlight. How do you beat cruising from one beautiful locale to the next with great people in tow? Perfection.

xo from Anguilla,

Shannon Kircher