Nobody Likes You When You’re 23 

Wow, we are getting old. It’s so strange to think we turned 23 this year. For the transition into our “Michael Jordan year”, we spent it apart from each other, but still had a lot of fun!

Becca | Since Derek + I have the same birthday, we don’t get each other presents, but we like to go on a trip or do something together. This year, we had a fancy staycation at The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. We checked in on Friday afternoon + left Saturday afternoon. The Biltmore is an amazing resort + we were very fortunate to have been able to stay there!

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Lux Room | We booked the Cottage Suite with the Garden view for our one night stay. It was a quaint “mini-house” with a small patio. It was so cute and luxurious + we felt super fancy.

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Poolside | The resort has 8 pools. EIGHT! We stayed at the big “Paradise Pool” over the weekend because it had the swim-up bar and water slide.

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Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner is Served | We got the “Summer Inclusive” package, which allotted us each a free breakfast, lunch + dinner at the on-site restaurants. For breakfast we had the buffet at Frank Albert’s, which served an abundance of yummy food! For lunch, we enjoyed  burger and grilled cheese at Frank Albert’s. And last, but not least, we shared a fancy meal together at Wright’s. We had an amazing food experience all weekend, and could not say better things about Wright’s. Absolutely delicious!

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Overall Impression | Overall, Derek + I had a great time at the Arizona Biltmore. We got to enjoy each other’s company in luxury + I was able to enjoy a staycation at one of the best Arizona resorts. I would say that Year 23 is off to a good start!

Liz | Robbie + I took a trip to Castle Rock, Colorado for our birthdays. Those of you who do not know, Robbie’s birthday is two days after mine, so we like to combine our celebrations. Robbie’s family owns a vacation home in Castle Rock + love to visit as much as they can. This was my first time going + it was an absolute blast!

We first flew into Denver + had lunch at a rooftop bar ViewHouse Eatery while having the best view of Coors Field.

After food + drinks we drove about 45 minutes to Castle Rock + had a night in with pizza at the Riach’s vacation home.

The following day, Saturday, we drove about 2 hours towards the Rocky Mountains + spent the day in Breckenridge, Colorado for a fun filled day at the Annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest. At the Oktoberfest, they give you the option to buy tokens for drinks + a beer stein actually made in Germany! [The steins are pretty heavy cups]. After a couple of beers + glasses of wine, we decided to call it a day + head back to Castle Rock for more birthday festivities for Robbie.

Today, Sunday, we went on a beautiful hike. Roxborough State Park, about 30 minutes out of Castle Rock. It was about 2 miles round trip + had amazing views at the top!

Even though it was a quick trip, it was the most fun we’ve ever had! Twenty-three could not feel better. Thank you to the Riach family for a great birthday vacation! Until next time Colorado!

Becca + Liz | Even though we didn’t get to spend our birthdays together this year, we went on some pretty great adventures with our significant others! Cheers to 23!

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Welcome to the Caribbean, You May Kiss the Bride

In our opinion, everyone should take a trip of a lifetime at some point.  Our older brother, Brian, and his now wife, Megan, decided to have a destination wedding with the family + close friends. Their destination of choice: the beautiful island of St. Lucia.

In May 2016, we packed our bags for the Caribbean. Catching a flight to Charlotte for one day then taking another flight to St. Lucia the next was an exhausting two days. However, as soon as we stepped foot at the resort, all the traveling stress disappeared. We got in our rooms and went straight to the bar for food + drinks.

Being in the south Caribbean comes with about 90% humidity. But what made that better was the open beach and two different pools we had access to! Don’t forget the free endless food + drinks! The first few days we arrived to the Sandals Resort, we explored, drank some great liquor + ate some delicious food.

On the fourth day of being in Paradise, Brian + Megan said their vows to each other. It was the most beautiful setting at sunset. Megan walked down the aisle with her Grandfather and was the most stunning bride. It was a beautiful ceremony followed by a family dinner at one of the restaurants at the Resort.

Brian + Megan’s Wedding

Our last day on the island of St. Lucia, we all agreed to a little get-away (from the resort) + an adventure around the island. Our dad signed us all up for a boat + island tour to explore the top tourist/local spots on the island. Our tour guide picked us up in a speed boat + we traveled to the other side of the island, stopping at hit spots on the way. We snorkeled at the white sand beach, spotted famous resorts (including the resort Ben Higgins brought his ladies on Bachelor Season 20), + bathed in a volcano mud bath. We ended the tour having a delicious lunch at the tour guide’s mother’s home, which was hidden deep in what seems the forbidden jungle.

We can’t thank our parents enough for giving us the opportunity to go on this family vacation. It was by far the best experience + we’d give anything to go back to our little piece of paradise.

Day Trip | Flagstaff

A couple of weeks ago, our parents invited me to visit our brother, Brian + sister-in-law, Megan, in Flagstaff for the weekend. I enjoy visiting + getting away from the warmer weather, + of course, eating great food. On Saturday, we did some shopping Downtown + witnessed the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight at Brian + Megan’s friend’s house. On Sunday, Megan took us to her local Farmer’s Market at Downtown City Hall.

There were lots of people at the Farmer’s Market + more vendors than expected. I saw at least 26 puppies, so you know I was having a great time chasing them around. I was surprised of how much of a variety there was in what the vendors were selling. There were fruits + vegetables, tacos, jewelry, coffee + pickles being sold by the very nice people. I had a very positive experience.

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As we were walking out, I decided to sample a peach that a man was serving. I kid you not, this was THE BEST + JUICIEST peach I’ve ever eaten in my entire life! So we bought a few for the ride to lunch, because they were just too delicious to pass up. Seriously, so good!

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We then made our way to brunch at the well-known Mexican restaurant, MartAnne’s. I was told that this joint served the best breakfast, so I had pretty high expectations. MartAnne’s exceeded those expectations. I ordered the Chorizo Breakfast + I finished every bite. The chorizo had a tasteful kick to it, but nothing too extreme. The tortillas were fluffy + authentic, while the hash browns were nice + crispy.  I very much enjoyed my brunch + customer service while visiting MartAnne’s. I recommend it to anyone traveling to Flagstaff.

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The Do’s + Don’ts of Traveling By Cruise Ship

I have only been on two cruise vacations, so I am no expert. But both times I traveled with my in-laws, who are experts. Derek + his family grew up going on cruise vacations (6, at least), and I am so lucky to have had the privilege of joining his family on a couple of cruises in the five years Derek + I have been together.

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Both trips, we went to the Caribbean for 7-8 days, and I was a sea-cruising mess both times. The first cruise was with Carnival, when I was 19 years old, and the second cruise was a couple years later with Norwegian. I kind of had a little more of my shit together for the second cruise, but there’s still lots of room for improvement.

Yes, I stressed on my first cruise. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t pack correctly, I lost a lot of important information + items (which I eventually found, thank goodness), but I did not enjoy my first cruise the way I wanted to.

To avoid disrupting your cruise vacation, I am going to share with you my do’s + don’ts of traveling by cruise ship based on my personal experience + mistakes.

Do’s.

#1. Pack light outfits. There’s nothing worse than wearing heavy clothes on a ship. Packing light + airy clothing, such as cotton tank tops + shorts, will allow you to be more comfortable and enjoy your time on deck. I struggled my first trip because I brought some “normal” clothes, meaning denim shorts, and thick + stiff dresses. I ended up wearing the same cotton shorts + 3 tanks tops the whole week because I was in + out of the pool, the buffet, and the room. I might as well just brought one dress and worn it all week (but I don’t recommend that, see Don’t #2).

#2. Bring a lanyard. I know it sounds strange, but holy crap, your stress + worry will vanish with this tip. It is amazing how many times you will go in + out of your cabin in a day at sea (almost 16 times). So it is important to have easy access to your room key for whenever you need it. I didn’t do this trick my first cruise, and I about lost my key 18 times. On my second cruise, my future mother-in-law offered me a lanyard. The people at the front desk had a hole-punch machine for room keys, and they punched it for me to attached to me lanyard. I simply wore the key around my neck and never took it off the whole trip. This way I could go back and forth from the deck to my room without worrying whether I had my key or not! Genius.

#3. Have cash + card. Always bring your credit or debit card on a cruise, and also some extra cash. The first time around, I didn’t know any of this, and struggled to pay for stuff + buy what I wanted. The cruise line puts your room expenses (tax, cleaning fee, room service fee, etc.) on your card. This makes it so you just tell the person what room you’re in on the ship and they will charge the room card. Food + most drink packages are included in the cruise price, so you do not have to worry about that. However, the spa, speciality restaurants + additional expenses are not. I would recommend bringing extra cash for the days you’re at port. These are the days you are off the ship and get to travel the islands + cities on foot. Most ports take American cash, however, most do NOT take credit cards. So if you are wanting to purchase items at port, it’s nice to have cash available.

Don’ts.

#1. Get “shwasted” on the first night. I know that you’re probably excited to be on vacation, but try not to over do it on your very first night on board. The ship will have special events going on to stir up your night, but I recommend not getting too carried away. There’s nothing worse than having your first full day at sea with a major hangover. Seawater + hangovers do not mix well, just ask Derek. I recommend taking your time with the free drinks. You don’t have to drink all the alcohol on the ship in one sitting, there will still be some tomorrow.

#2. Forget dressy attire. Most cruise ships have dinner restaurants that require a dress code. This was my favorite part, because we would get all dressed up, then go eat unlimited fancy dinners! One night I ordered three lobsters, don’t judge me. But if I haven’t packed an outfit that wasn’t a tank top + shorts, they would not have let me eat. I am not saying you need your former prom dress, or wedding gown, but something that you would wear to a nice + casual cocktail party (is there such a thing?). Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on those fancy nights.

#3. Lay out without sunscreen. For the love of God, please take my advice! I am white, not like pasty white, but pretty close. My skin does not handle direct sunlight very well, but I always want to be tan! So both trips (didn’t learn my lesson the first time, I guess), I got SUPER sunburned. The first time was just me being stupid, by laying out on a raft in Tortola for 4 hours without a lick of sunscreen on. Obviously, I turned into a lobster by lunchtime. However, the second time (with my luck) on our first day at sea, my chest developed a heat rash. So I was miserable for 3 days trying to get rid of that (I recommend itch cream, it really works). I managed to stay in the spa for most of the days to heal, which I highly recommend (mostly because they give out oranges… ). I have definitely learned my lesson to just put the damn sunscreen on! I promise you will get tan no matter what, just make sure you protect your skin, or you will ruin some of your vacation. 

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Although I have learned A LOT about traveling by cruise ship through my experiences + mistakes, they were still amazing vacations that Derek + I got to share together.

Which cruise should we take next and to where?