Archive | December, 2012

Courtney Mara’s 2013 Bucket List

31 Dec

My 2013 DC bucket list:

  • Go inside the National Cathedral
  • Bureau of Engraving & Printing
  • Go to the top of the clock tower at the Old Post Office Pavilion
  • National Geographic Museum
  • Air & Space Museum in Dulles, VA
  • National Observatory
  • US Capitol building tour
  • Explore 14th Street NW

My 2013 personal bucket list:

  • Get married (May 2013)
  • Have more DC dates with my fiance/husband
  • Spend more time with friends and family

My 2013 travel bucket list:

  • Jamaica (wedding): (1) jump off of a cliff (even if its a baby one) in Negril and (2) Margaritaville in Montego Bay
  • South Africa and Mozambique (honeymoon): (1) see a great white shark, (2) swim with a whale shark, (3) go with Matt on his first safari, (4) ride an elephant with Matt in Africa, and (5) go to Cape Town. 
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to at least one state that I have never been to (e.g., Hawaii, Alaska, Alabama, Vermont, etc.)

What is on your 2013 bucket list?

2012 in review

31 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Travel Tip #2: Credit Card

28 Dec


If you like to travel abroad, I highly recommend getting a travel credit card that does not have any foreign transaction fees.   This is so important for trips abroad because foreign transaction fees add up! states that “the average foreign transaction fee is 3% for banks and 1% for credit unions, according to the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project.”  If you are spending $3000 on a trip abroad, those fees could add up to $90 if using a bank card.   Let’s say you do two trips abroad every year for 10 years, that figure adds up to $1,800 that you will have spent on foreign transaction fees.  You could instead save that money with a no foreign transaction fee credit card.  I LOVE Bank of America’s travel rewards card because there are no annual fees.  You can find a list of other credit cards that do not have foreign transaction fees on Huffington Post’s website (click here).

Happy Travels!

Travel Tip #1: How I Avoid Jet Lag

22 Dec

Sleeping on plane from Italy

Hopefully I don’t jinx myself by saying this, but I rarely, if ever, get jet lag. The way I get around it is by traveling with a watch (I never use my U.S. cell phone – or even turn it on – while I am traveling abroad) and I always set it as soon as I get on the plane to the time of the country that I am visiting. I then do NOT think or discuss what time it is in my home country. I change my sleep and eating times to the country I am visiting starting on the plane. And, I make sure to bring sleep medicine so that I can more easily change my sleep habits.

For example, on the way to Italy, Matt and I had a red eye. I made us sleep as soon as we got on the plane so that we would be wide awake for Italy. On our flights home (three to be exact), the flights started at 7 am in Italy and had us home around 10pm in DC. I tried to have us stay awake for as much of the flights as possible so we would be tired when we got to DC and went straight to bed. Neither of us had any trouble with jet leg in Italy or upon return from Italy.

Hopefully this helps someone who has issues with jet lag! What other solutions do you have for jet lag?

Sample Packing List

15 Dec

Because I think this could help others who, like myself, take forever to pack, the following was my packing list for my one-week trip to Italy in November:

  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 going out jeans, 1 casual jean)
  • 1 black pants
  • 1 casual dress
  • 1 black work out pants
  • 2 workout shirts
  • 2 black shirts
  • 1 black cardigan
  • 4 sweaters (thin, not thick)
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • Black boots
  • Nice winter boots
  • Sneakers
  • The appropriate amount of intimates

Miscellaneous items:

  • 1 book and multiple magazines
  • Pens (super helpful for customs forms)
  • Makeup (concealer, blush, mascara, lip stick, and gloss)
  • Glasses with case
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Travel size shampoo, conditioner and body wash (this ended up not being necessary since we had these at each of the hotels)
  • Ipod with sports armband
  • Phone and charger (although I don’t use this abroad)
  • Head phones
  • Camera with camera charger and plenty of space on the memory card
  • Passport and visa, if needed
  • Money and credit cards
  • Tooth brush and travel-sized tooth paste

Medicine bag:

  • Sleeping medicine (I like ZQuil)
  • Vitamins
  • Emergen C
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Advil
  • Advil cold & sinus (in case you get a cold)
  • Nasal spray (this helps if you end up getting a cold – use it on the plane so you don’t get a headache)

All of these items fit into my carry on luggage so I did not need to check baggage.  Below is a picture of Matt with our luggage (we each had one  rolling carry on and a backpack/purse).

Italy luggage

What do you recommend packing?

Atlanta, Georgia

9 Dec

Great post about the holidays in Atlanta by elatlboy! Check out more great posts by elatlboy at!

The Adventures of elATLboy

Around Thanksgiving in the United States is when you’ll start to hear holiday music and see holiday lights and trees go up in earnest. During the holiday weekend just before dark I decided to checkout the scene at one of my favorite areas in Atlanta, Pemberton Place and Centennial Olympic Park.

Walking onto the heart of Pemberton Place I immediately saw all the enlarged ornaments around the World of Coca-Cola. Midtown straight ahead. In how many languages can you say Merry Christmas?!

Pemberton Place during the holidays in Atlanta

The World of Coca-Cola front and center, with the Downtown skyline behind. I’m surprised I didn’t see little kids trying to climb the ornaments. 🙂

Pemberton Place during the holidays in Atlanta

A broader view of Pemberton Place. Lot’s of people were sitting and posing for pictures in the red-and-white striped ornament. Others just hanging out, having fun on the grass.

Pemberton Place during the holidays in Atlanta

The holiday lights and ornaments provided one scenic shot after another.

Pemberton Place during the holidays in Atlanta

Lights dotted the…

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Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

1 Dec

After visiting Foz de Iguacu, Brazil, I crossed the border into Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.  If you like to shop, you must stop here.  There are a lot of shops with cheap clothing and other goods.   It is a popular shopping spot for Brazilians and Argentines.  I also had the opportunity to visit Itaipu Binacional Hydrodam and Museo de la Tierra Guaraní and Zoológico Regional.  Both are not far from Ciudad del Este and are recommended on WikiTravel.

Happy Travels!