A Millennial's Travel Advice

What I Packed for Three Weeks in Europe

My trip to Europe lasted from April 29th until May 23. Here is what I packed and what I acquired along the way. Check out this post, for tips on how to choose a backpack along with my review of the bag I ended up with.

What I packed:

  • Fancy dress- This was only for the high tea in London. Normally, I wouldn’t pack an expensive dress especially knowing that I would only wear it once but this was a special occasion.
  • Leather jacket- This was my standard daily wear jacket.
  • Rain jacket
  • One pair of jeans
  • Two leggings
  • 30 pairs of contacts- I wear dailies but after lugging around so many pairs of contacts for weeks I’m debating whether or not I should buy two week wear pairs for trips. Does anyone have thoughts on this?
  • Book
  • Walking shoes
  • Flats
  • Beach bag
  • Neck pillow
  • Pajamas- shorts and tank top
  • Locker lock
  • Luggage lock
  • Adaptor
  • Phone charger
  • Go Pro
  • Sunglasses
  • Cardigan
  • 28 pairs of underwear
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • Two bras
  • Tank top white
  • Fancy club dress
  • Backless bra and three pasties
  • Clutch
  • Five Dresses
  • Three tank tops
  • Three T-Shirts
  • Two bathing Suits
  • Black skirt
  • Tights
  • Bathing suit bottom cover
  • Bandeau
  • Three compressor bags
  • Selfie stick

What I didn’t wear:

  • Tank top
  • Clutch
  • Rain coat
  • One pair of leggings
  • Only wore once- white tank top, blue dress, black dress, fancy club dress, black tank top
  • Bandeau


  • Small shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Two face products
  • Small moisturizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Two face sunscreens
  • Razor
  • Floss
  • Brush
  • Comb
  • Q-tips, cotton face pads
  • Heel Band-Aids
  • Polysporin
  • Deodorant
  • Face cloth
  • Towel
  • Head towel
  • Vitamins
  • Comb
  • Hair ties
  • Three chapsticks

What I bought:

  • One dress
  • One jumper
  • One hoodie
  • Jeans
  • Top
  • Heels
  • Bathing suit
  • Postcards from all cities
  • Three shot glasses and cards as gifts
  • Sunglasses
  • Harry Potter trivia
  • Glasses case
  • Necklace
  • Clutch
  • Notebook
  • Two necklaces
  • Gifts- sunglasses, luggage tag, lip balm, candy, three boxes of tea, London te

Threw away: 

  • One face soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Book

Wished I had:

  • Flip-flops both for the beaches and in the hostel
  • Jean jacket
  • Water bottle- spent a lot of money buying water.
  • Soap container

Overall, I packed too much while actually thinking that I was packing light. Most of my clothes only got worn once which isn’t great. While my bag managed to feel light, it was definitely too much. I find that my downfall with packing is that I want to look good in different pictures and I don’t always want to be wearing the same outfit for photos. I need to work on caring a little less about this. Does anyone else have this problem?

I ended up buying a second pair of jeans and the sweater because the weather was colder than I anticipated and I was woefully unprepared for it. Next time, I will try and pack a little bit more prepared. Also, it never once occurred to me that I might be able to do laundry in a hostel. I was able to do laundry a few times throughout my trip. This could have cut back on clothes as well if I had thought of it sooner.

Some of my toiletries I packed without anticipating needing such as the band-aids and polysporin (an antibacterial product for cuts) but knew that I would regret not having if I did end up needing. For items such as this, I don’t mind that I lugged them around for three weeks. However, for items such as two sunscreens for my face (Why Arielle?) I do regret dragging about with me.

For the most part, I definitely over packed and could easily have managed with half of what I brought but there are no glaring regrets. Does anyone have any thoughts about how I could have done things differently?

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

How to Choose a Backpacking Backpack

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One very important consideration when choosing a backpack is weight. Always select a lightweight one, your clothes and belongings will weigh it down drastically and you don’t need to have that added weight to drag around.

Many bags come in different sizes, for example I am 5’3 and weigh 120 pounds and in the Osprey I’m a size small. Some brands will come in a one size fits all but have adjustable straps to make it fit your frame. Personally, I found after trying some on that I preferred the ones that are already designed to be my size. I found that they sat more comfortably around my waist and stayed more snuggly towards my back.

The ideal backpack should have waist straps that sit comfortably on your hips while the overall bag should not be raised too high above your head. During my hunt for the perfect backpack I went to four different stores and in all of them was able to find knowledgeable people to answer my questions. Don’t be shy; they are there to help. Ask all of the questions, the employees were even willing to help me adjust my straps.

As I was shopping alone, they let me know if it looked like a bag was too far above my head. They likely have sold numerous backpacks and know what they should look and feel like. The man that I spoke with in Atmosphere had backpacking experience himself and spoke knowledgably about what bags he had used. All of the bags I tried on were pre-stuffed with bags to help you get a feel for size.

Originally, I purchased a 50 litre with a lenient return policy as a starting point. Converting my solid clothes into a liquid measurement didn’t work in my brain so I just wanted to get a feel for size. The 50 litre held everything I needed but left no room for any purchases along the way. I know myself well enough to know how unreasonable that expectation would be. Even on the limited budget that I set my for myself I knew I would still end up buying at least a few things.

After you think you have a bag, take it home and pack it full of everything you think you need. This should give you a good idea of space. Also, try wearing the bag around your house. Is the weight too heavy? Do the straps not sit well? Can you carry this on a 5km walk through a winding road searching for your hostel?

I ended up with an Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack, Charcoal Gray, Medium/Large I selected the Far Point because of the detachable backpack, for you this might be less of an important feature but I knew that I would need it at least once. This bag also allows me to zip away the straps for airplane travel.

The Far Point comfortably held all of the things I needed with room for extra purchases. It also fit well despite its large size. Throughout my trip I never genuinely felt the bag was too heavy (hangovers make everything feel worse). The only thing that I could critique it on is that once I detached the backpack the first time I found it often started to unzip itself from the main bag. This could be a result of me stuffing my bag too full or not properly attaching it but it was very troubling. Another issue that I ran into, which again may be due to fullness, is I found the main zippers occasionally separated. I had locks on my bag so they kept things together either way and I have no way of knowing how far they would have unzipped.


My too full Osprey Far Point 70

Take your time in shopping for a bag. Do lots of research because different bags have different features. I did not do this, I made a last minute realization that I needed one two days before I was set to leave which resulted in numerous stressful drives around Edmonton to all of the camping supply store seeking the perfect bag. While I am happy with my final choice, I could have spared myself this hassle and maybe even found something better.


Where to Find Backpacking Backpacks in Edmonton, Alberta

Camper’s Village is where I ultimately made my purchase. However, Wholesale Sports is where I had my best shopping experience. MEC was another store that I checked out with a variety of different options. Finally, I also checked out Atmosphere. Most of these stores carried almost the exact same selection so it does not necessary matter where you end up. MEC is the only one that was drastically different.


Stay tuned to hear about my packing experiences! I overpacked 🙁 Learn from my mistakes.


As Always,


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A Millennial's Travel Advice

How To See Jamaica on a 20-Something Budget

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What You Will Find in This Jamaica Travel Guide:

  • Things to Know Before You Go
  • What To Do In Montego Bay
  • Things To Do In Negril
  • Things To Do In Ocho Rios
  • Getting Around in Jamaica
  • Jamaica Travel Tips
  • Quotes from Jamaican Locals

Things to Know Before You Go

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. Everyone that we encountered on our trip spoke English. There are plenty of resorts throughout Jamaica, this just isn’t feasible for budget travelers. Jamaica has three main airports located in Montego Bay, Kingston, and Ocho Rios area. We flew into the Montego Bay airport. Travelling between cities is fairly easy. We visited three cities and used the Knutsford Express. These buses are affordable, have air-conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Visas aren’t necessary for most people entering the country for under 90 days. However, the border crossing was very strict. We were asked numerous questions including a dispute about my age (My youthful face will pay off when I am older). Before planning any trip, ensure that your passport has at least six months left before the expiry date.

The main currency is the Jamaican Dollar (J$), this is commonly used in souvenir shops and local restaurants. Jamaican dollars are often referred to as “jays” by locals. This is confusing if you are Canadian where jays are also known as joints. American Dollars (USD) are commonly used for booking excursions, such as paragliding, and in mainstream, tourist restaurants. On most days, I was able to spend less than $100 CAD.

The high season is December- March, when the weather is warm and sunny but rates might be higher for accommodations. April and May still have dry weather but with lower rates and fewer tourists. June through November is the low season and may contain rainfall. However, we visited in July and didn’t experience any rain but were able to take advantage of the lower rates and fewer tourists. If you are travelling on a 20-something year-old budget, the lower season could be a good time to go. As is common with tropical rain, it will rain hard for a brief period of time.

Leading up to my trip, people often expressed concerns about our safety. Even at the bag check counter in America, the staff member working was shocked to hear we weren’t staying in a resort. Our cab driver from the airport warned us about male harassment. We often found that men honked their horns or catcalled as they drove past us and when we visited our beach in Montego Bay a man swam to where we were to attempt talking to us and inquired about our contact information. This was a common theme throughout Jamaica; however, at no point did we ever feel particularly unsafe.

To be fair, I have been harassed in almost every country that I have been to and the men of Jamaica were no worse than anywhere else. My typical strategy for dealing with unwanted male attention in an unfamiliar place is to figure out a polite exit strategy. I generally, say thank you to any compliments that I receive and politely walk away. If applicable, do not lead men to your hotel; if someone is following you, and you were planning on heading back to your hotel, then stop somewhere else along the way.

Jamaica has a great culture and vibrant people. Plus, the food is so delectable. Our favourites included jerk chicken and festivalAnd now, how to see Jamaica on a 20-something year old’s budget.

Things to Do In Montego Bay:

We stayed at The Wexford, which was a little bit more expensive than the other places we stayed but they included free breakfast and free access to the beach (In Jamaica, beach entrance often costs money). Unfortunately, we didn’t love the Montego Bay beach.


On our drive to our hotel, our cab driver advised us that our hotel was on the “Hip Strip.” This is essentially the street where everything tourist oriented is located. There are gift shops and Margaritaville was a five minute walk up the street. The cab driver let us know that the “Hip Strip” is about five minutes away from the main city of Montego Bay and suggested that if we planned to go into the city we needed to use a map to plan an exact route and to not go at night. We didn’t end up going into town but this is an important tip if you do plan to.


Wasted away again in Margaritaville…

Margaritaville serves excellent food and massive drinks. The cost is in US Dollars. A bartender was roaming around pouring free shots into people’s mouths. There was also a waterslide which ends directly in the sea. Margaritaville is a nice place to visit for a first night in Jamaica. Especially in Montego Bay where people expressed concerns for safety.

Things to do in Negril:

Where to Stay: Travelers Beach Resort. This is a ten minute walk from the Knutsford Express station. There are cabs waiting there for you if you choose to take that route. We opted not to and one of the cab drivers tried to give us weed as he passed us walking. Travelers Beach Resort is not all-inclusive; however, it had a great location on 7 Mile Beach. This narrow strip of beaches lines the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean. This is the sea we came to see. The resort also employs a beach security guard to watch your things while you swim. Additionally, they have a cab driver in the lobby in case you need a ride anywhere.

Where to Eat and Drink: Visit Margaritaville for a tourist spot; however, this is for day drinking and you would be remiss not to go anywhere else.


Cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe.

Rick’s Café is my favourite spot in Negril. It’s located on the west end where the beaches stop so everything becomes cliffs and rocky. Make sure you go close to sunset for some stunning views. The view of the sunset isn’t what makes Rick’s Café unique; however, it’s the cliff jumping. There is an approximately 35 food ledge which you can jump off (There is a slightly lower one below for the faint-hearted). Additionally, there is an even higher treehouse where locals may show off for a tip or a nearby grassy area where daring people can jump. The bar plays live music and has reasonably priced drinks. After the sun sets, the bar clears out rapidly. Since we are daring enough to cliff jump, we went the next day for opening. This worked out great as there was no one else in any of our photos.


The sunset from Rick’s Cafe.

Other Negril Activities:  Premium Parasail Jamaica is about $100 USD per person and makes for a unique, amazing experience. They picked us up from our hotel’s beach by boat and brought us to the main area for payment. This gives you a chance for a boat ride 😉


Things to do in Ocho Rios

Where to Stay:  Reggae Hostel,  they employee a security guard for the evenings which is a nice layer of security.

Ocho Rios Activities: There are tons of things in Ocho Rios to do.

Dunn’s River Falls: This is 600 feet worth of waterfalls. We arranged a Jaital tour to take us to the falls, this tour included a private beach afterwards. If you’re unable to do the whole falls there is a shorter entrance. The climb itself is so much fun but you will need some water shoes which can be bought along the highway. These shoes are very similar to what we were able to buy on the side of the road. Ours cost about $10 USD. During the climb everyone holds hands and supports each other. The falls are bustling with people but this adds to the atmosphere. The water itself is refreshing and beautiful.


A portion of Dunn’s River Falls.

Glistening Waters on the Luminous Lagoon: The effect of this microorganism is only visible at night. Reggae Hostel arranged a driver to take us there but at $40 USD it was expensive. Through the hostel we think we went to a dodgier place to view them instead of the more mainstream location. Overall, it was a bit disappointing and our photos did not turn out well. The location of this was in Falmouth which was about an hour away from Ocho Rios.

The Blue Hole: Our guides told us that the water gets up to 600 feet deep. There is an upper level to the falls in addition to the lower level, make sure that you see both. The Blue Hole contains jumps including ropes, waterfalls, and cliffs. How cool is it that you get to jump off a waterfall? The Blue Hole is full of adventures and was not very busy. We took a route taxi to get there (More on route taxis below).


The Blue Hole didn’t get its name for no reason.

Markets: Ocho Rios has a market where you can get souvenirs and other neat Jamaica objects.

Where to Eat: Check out the Jerk Centre. You can get jerk chicken, jerk pork, and jerk ribs. Jerk food is simply delicious. Locals dine in the Jerk Centre which is always a nice sign of authenticity.


Note our reef shoes that we bought on the side of the road. 

Getting Around in Jamaica

We used the Knutsford Express with ease to travel between cites.

Fun Fact: Jamaicans drive on the opposite side of the road from North America. Sadly, most of the cabs are not clearly labelled in some way because Jamaican cabs are typically a local’s personal vehicle which is driven for extra cash. Assuredly, during any travels you should be mindful of the vehicle you are getting into but in Jamaica you will be harassed to accept a ride. If you do find yourself in need of a cab, talk to your accommodations; this will ensure you are getting someone trustworthy.

There are route taxis are local taxis where often there are more people than allowed in the vehicle. This provides a reduced cost, it was about 100 jays versus 300 jays. On the other hand, private taxis are more expensive but it will just be you and your travel companions. Route taxis are the way to go for a budget traveler.

Travel Tips for Jamaica

We found that the people were very willing and eager to help us. We were 45 minutes early to our Rick’s Cafe cliff jump. But our cab driver patiently waited for us, waited while we jumped, and took photos for us after our jump. He didn’t even charge us extra for how much of his time we took up.

  • Yes, the men did harass us but the men can be harassing in any country. I wouldn’t base my decision to travel or not travel based on how the men will treat me. If anything, you could always wear a wedding band.

Jamaican Words to Live By

  • “You have to do what you want in life, money or not.”
  • “Jamaicans do nothing fast except drink, drive and talk.”
  • “You have to do what you want in life; don’t let nothing stop the party.”
  • “I wish I could travel, even to sleep on the streets just to be in another city.”

Overall, we spent about under $100 CAD a day for food and activities. Our accommodations for the week came out to about $300. I can’t accurately report on flight costs as we visited other cities in Florida on our way to Jamaica and post Jamaica. Plus, these will vary depending on where you are flying from.



Plus, look how beautiful this Negril water is. You can’t go wrong with a Jamaican vacation!

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

The Las Vegas Epic

I simply love Vegas. So much, that I went twice in one year and that Jess and I have decided we should make it a yearly trip for September long weekend.

Vegas can be full of adventure if you play your cards right. From lived and learned experience, one of the most crucial pieces of a good Vegas trip is who you go with. You and the people you are there with must be on the same page and have the same expectations for the trip. If two of you want to drink and gamble and the third person does not it creates a divided group dynamic. This is no fun for anyone.

Once you land, don’t stress about transportation from the airport to The Strip. You can literally see The Luxor and Mandalay Bay among others from the runway. There are plenty of cabs and I’ve found that it typically takes about $20 to get to the hotels on the southern edge of the strip.

Choosing a Place to Stay

The Strip is expansive and full of hotels. Choosing a place to stay can be intimidating. The first time we went to Vegas we chose The Monte Carlo because it was affordable while still being located at the newer end of Vegas. The second time we chose New York, New York because of how we met and it was still affordable and in the area that we wanted to be in.

Mandalay Bay and Luxor are at the southernmost tip of The Strip. Along this area you can find a variety of different newer hotels containing the bigger deal clubs. The older hotels that people tend to associate with Vegas, The Golden Nugget or Circus Circus, are actually located fairly far away. Fremont Street, or older Vegas, can be reached by bus. When choosing a hotel try to keep in mind what you are hoping for. If you want the Wet Republic or Hakkasan (MGM Grand), aim for the southern end. If you are there for more of a classic gambling experience and don’t care about the clubs, then Fremont Street might suit you. Word is the gambling odds are better on Fremont Street. However, this area may look dodgy.

Las Vegas in January

The first time I went to Vegas was after my PCH road trip. Jess and I flew to Vegas where we stayed at the Monte Carlo. Another friend of ours flew from her home to meet up with us there. The three of us know each other from New York (much more to come on this).


New York, New York. The roller coaster at night is fun!

We had all been super excited for this reunion and quickly got ready to go out. We started off by gambling in the Monte Carlo. I’ve never even been to a casino in Edmonton before but I like to start strong. We don’t understand craps and lost our money on roulette. We really hit our stride with blackjack.

However, this is one of those instances where we didn’t have group synchronicity. Jess and I were up for shenanigans and our third friend avoided our drinking by playing the VLTs. I cannot stress enough how much you need to want the same thing as your friends.

Shopping in Vegas

Shopping in Vegas is phenomenal. There are stores and distractions everywhere. The strip and hotels are loaded with places that you can stop for the standard souvenirs. You know, the shot glasses, decks of cards, etc.

If you’re like me though, you want so much more than that!

The North Vegas outlet mall can be reached by bus. There is a bus called the SDX that will take you all the way there. A perk to taking this route is it will take you along the entire strip so you can truly see all of Vegas. It runs down Fremont Street too so you can see old Vegas. I’m a sucker for a good outlet mall.


Hungover but still hunting for deals.

If outlet malls aren’t your thing, pop over to The Forum at Caesar’s Palace. Sadly, not the real Caesar’s Palace. This mall is expansive and contains a variety of standard stores that you would mind in a mall such as Victoria’s Secret or H&M. There is also a Fat Tuesday here. Drink one! Higher end shops like Chanel can be found in The Bellagio.


As you walk along The Strip, you will notice it littered with club promoters. I do recommend trying to take advantage of these; they can help you get free entry and drinks. Oftentimes, the bars they are promoting aren’t the bigger ones but if you can grab a few cheap or free drinks, I recommend doing it. The prices in clubs are obscene and who doesn’t love pre-drinking for free? Another option before heading out to a club is to play a few rounds of blackjack or whatever games you prefer. There will be free drinks brought to you as you play and if you strategize it shouldn’t cost you more than a club drink.


Strategizing to maximize clubs.

Going out in Vegas takes strategy. Some clubs have free entry before certain times. I am morally opposed to ever having to pay to get into any sort of club unless there is a popular DJ playing. I recommend figuring out all of the places that you hope to go to in Vegas, and then either through the help of the promoters or your own sleuthing, figure out which clubs have the earliest free entry stop times. Plan to go to these ones first. For example, if Hakassan’s free entry stops at 10:00 pm and TAO’s free entry stops at 12:00 am, go to Hakassan for a few hours and then head to TAO. All of the casinos will have cab lines, they are beyond readily available (Side Note: It is against the law for cabs to pick you up from the street, they are required to do it at a casino, so if you need a cab just walk to the nearest casino). This strategy will help you get into more places free and go to more of the clubs if you only have a short amount of time.

On our first night in Vegas we headed over to Marquee in The Cosmopolitan. We got free entry and the line moved fairly quickly.

Our second night we strategized to visit Hakassan in MGM Grand and TAO in the Venetian. Hakassan was my favourite. It has three floors and a hip-hop room. The main space plays EDM. I did have to pay $20 for a shot, so try to come a little tipsy if anything. I found TAO to be super over crowded.


We tried to play craps but immediately lost our money without even knowing how.

We also tried to play Roulette but never won and didn’t enjoy it. However, if you want to be a baller it does feel nice to go all on black.

We have slots/VLTs in bars in Canada but I’ve never paid much attention to them. A good strategy is to find the penny machines and bet low while you get free drinks. This would be good if you are going out. I find these less enjoyable because I am a social gambler. I love the thrill of meeting new people.

Blackjack is our ultimate favourite. Look for free bet tables. These allow you to gamble with the dealer’s money. Jess and I have worked out a system where we buy each other back in if one of us runs out of chips and the other one has more. We love to play blackjack and naturally we love to win but we don’t take it too seriously and typically stay within our budgets. They key to blackjack is to find a good table. This is a great game for socializing; you can meet people from everywhere. Make sure that the dealer has a good vibe.


Winning in the Monte Carlo.

I’ve found that the dealers aren’t typically against you. They do offer subtle guidance if you don’t quite seem to know what you are doing. We even had a dealer tell us to talk away while we were ahead. When Jess and I were there in July, we tried to play some game with a $25 buy-in that looked misleadingly like blackjack. We were wrong but couldn’t back out and didn’t know how to play. The dealer essentially told us what we should do and we won! We took our fresh $25 chip and left Caesar’s Palace.

With all gambling, be responsible, it is not a way of getting rich quick. It loses its fun when you are chasing wins and spending more to try keeping up. That is the trick behind gambling. All of the odds are against you but trick you into thinking you will win.

Gambling Tip: Bring cash with you! There are no bank ATMs to be found anywhere and the fees in the casino ATMs are excruciatingly painful.

Other Noteworthy Points:

White Castle was building a location in the Casino Royale when we visited. It was not technically open, they were just practicing making burgers for the opening, but we begged them to let us have a sample anyway. They let us have free White Castle! Goes to show you, sometimes all you have do is ask.


Thank-you White Castle Las Vegas

The Monte Carlo offers no in-room Wi-Fi. I realize that they aim to keep me in the casino but still so frustrating.

The visit to the Las Vegas sign was a $50 round trip cab ride from Casino Royale. We had our cab wait as it is a bit out of the city and we weren’t sure we could easily get a cab back and the walk was too far. This is a place where it might be helpful to offer to take a picture for the person next to you in line if they will take one for you. From experience people are wiling to help out.

Fat Tuesdays are a classic Vegas drink. You can walk through the streets with them. Check out Casino Royale or The Forum for one!

On our bus ride back from the outlet mall, a man on the bus harassed me. He basically cornered me and was determined to talk to me about life and where I was from. He told me that there are two things he knows about Canadian women, “We like our weed and we are freaky.” I told him that I must not have gotten the memo. Since Jess and I were on our way back to our hotel, we lied about where we were staying and got off at the wrong stop to avoid him finding out where we were staying. Honestly, I highly recommend this if someone on public transit is ever bothering you. Especially if you are on your way back to where you are staying. It is easier to disappear into a crowd than avoid someone outside your door.

Las Vegas in July

Jess and I believed that we did not live up to our potential during our January trip. This prompted us to make another trip for Fourth of July weekend. I swear us foreigners get more excited than Americans. This time we stayed in New York, New York as a tribute to where we met. They messed up our check-in, I had called ahead to change the name on the reservation because Jess was arriving first, but they still wouldn’t let her check-in. Ultimately, she was able to get in and score a room upgrade.

Vegas is always crazy fun and being there for Fourth of July weekend was no exception. This trip we decided to get $1 chips from as many casinos as possible, we ended up with ten. On our first night we headed out to casino hop rather than drink. New York, New York is conveniently located across the street from the MGM Grand. We walked across the street to start out in their casino.

IMG_4969Our collection of Casino $1 chips.

              As I mentioned before, the table that you play at is crucial! We met some guys from South America who said that they were in town for the World Series of Poker. While Jess and I tried our usual strategy to buy each other back in, we were barely hanging on. One of the guys kept giving me his chips to buy me back in to keep playing! Eventually we both lost too much and had to walk over to Planet Hollywood after dodging the guys. Our asses got kicked at gambling our first night.

The reason we decided to skip clubbing on our first night was because we had scheduled a visit to the Grand Canyon the next morning. We booked through Comedy on Deck Tours. We were able to find a Groupon online. I highly recommend that for any Canadian or American cities you look for a Groupon before booking things. This site is a very handy way of getting deals and I have never had a bad experience.

The Grand Canyon is beautiful, but so hot, especially in July. Make sure to bring water! Our tour had water on board as well. The bus ride itself is nice, with a stop to view the Hoover Dam before crossing state lines to Arizona. I opted to do the West Rim glass rim while Jess had done this before and chose not to. It was a nice photo op.

Jess and I in the Grand Canyon. Don’t be shy, recruit a stranger to help with pictures.

                  After our Grand Canyon we went back to the gambling. This was our only successful day of gambling. We had great luck in the Casino Royale and even better luck at The Mirage. We had a great blackjack table at the Mirage and gained back so much of what we had lost the day before. Sadly, Vegas never lets you stay ahead for long.


Winning in the Mirage, too bad it only happened once.

            On our walk back we decided to put our names down for 1 Oak. We chose this because the night that we wanted to go the New York location it was closed for a private party. Overall, we had a great day. After 1 Oak, Jess ran into a fellow Aussie who we ended up sharing a cab with. He paid for us to get back to our hotel. Sometimes it pays to talk to strangers. We stopped by The Monte Carlo for a tribute to our last trip. We sat at a $10 minimum but the people next to us were betting $100 and winning. I mean, we did okay but $10 is nothing on that.

Fourth of July started with Denny’s and drinking cider, then we embarked on a mission to find tacky American Flag clothes. Much harder than you might think! We searched through many clothing stores along The Strip before finding gold in a souvenir shop.


Fourth of July started out so promising.

Paris Hilton was playing a Beach Party at TAO Day Club and we thought it would be hilarious to go. We went in briefly so that we could get wristbands for re-entry and then left to The Venetian Casino to get free drinks while waiting for Paris to start (Strategy!). We went up in time to see Paris, her opening line was, “I’m sorry, I need to start that again.” Between the drinking and the dancing in the 40 degree weather the alcohol hit hard. Jess and I left Paris, I ran full force into a beach chair and cut my leg, I vaguely remember turning down a security guys offer of getting someone down to help. I was silly and had no traveller’s insurance but he told me I could have a Band-Aid for free. Since I was too drunk to even notice that I had injured myself until someone pointed it out to me, I decided to forage on. Waiting for medical attention would only delay me drinking more and that would be unacceptable.


Paris Hilton at TAO Beach Club.

                  As we staggered out of The Venetian we passed by the White Castle at Casino Royale. Obviously, White Castle was exactly what we needed. Inside, all of the employees were wearing amazing tacky American Flag hats. We demanded to know where they came from, “Our manager bought them they said.” Naturally, we needed to have a word with this manager to see if there were any extras. After some pleading and pulling the foreigner card, she happily gave us two! White Castle Las Vegas is seriously so good to us. With our new fancy hats to match our shirts we enjoyed some food.

There is a Fat Tuesday location at Casino Royale too. Post White Castle, we needed a slushie drink. So we stopped and just generally were the drunkest people in North America. On our walk back we met some friends in the street that claimed to be Canadian. Mistakenly, they lied and said they were from Quebec but could speak no French. This gave them away; Quebec is entirely French. They followed to The Bellagio but wanted us to join them at Circus Circus. Jess and I refused; we were set on blackjack at The Bellagio. Meeting friends in the street sounds risky, but sometimes can pay off. You might get tips for doing things that they have done or find out about other adventures to be had. Inside The Bellagio, I unsuccessfully tried to convince a security guard that Utah has a two for one wife special and that he can have my friend and I as long as we move to New York. He remained unconvinced. We found a blackjack table, but at this point we were too drunk to be gambling. I insisted on telling Jess how to play blackjack following all of the rules meanwhile I followed none. The blackjack dealer actually asked me what was going on with me. Giving up we trudged home. Since we were seeing Calvin Harris that night and the fireworks we decided to nap it off a bit.

The Fourth of July fireworks on Vegas shoot off the casinos and are a fantastic display. So we hear. We slept through our alarm and tragically missed them. So much disappointment. We did wake up in time for Calvin Harris at Omnia in Caesar’s Palace. We played some blackjack to get our alcohol levels back up before heading over. Omnia is a cool place; don’t make the mistake that we did in thinking it is smaller than it is. There is one part patio, with a smaller DJ stage and we spent much of our time here before realizing that it was huge inside and that is where Calvin actually was. In its defense, the Omnia patio overlooks Vegas and is quite beautiful. The real club was packed. This made for a sad event. I was carrying a handheld clutch; Jess had a cross-body purse. Someone pickpocketed her stealing her ID and all of her cash. So we ended up leaving early. On our way back I kissed a 20 year old to help him win a bachelor party scavenger hunt. Finally, we decided to gamble a little more. I’m certain that I have never looked more haggard in my life than I did dragging myself through the New York, New York casino looking for a blackjack table.


Fourth of July ends in pain. Vegas wins again.

                  Making it up for our 11 am check out was the ultimate struggle. Since we no longer had our hotel room to base ourselves we headed out for some super hung-over shopping.

On both of our trips Jess and I tended to not eat any of the food. We live off of chips and Cheetos in our hotel. Maybe on the third trip I will have more to add about food.

Las Vegas Pointers:

  • Be on the same page with your friends! So much emphasis.
  • Take direct flights whenever possible. There is nothing worse than waiting in two airports with a hangover.
  • Drink so much water. The desert + alcohol= dehydration
  • Try to eat the food
  • Bring cash to the casinos. This helps with budgeting but also not getting attacked by ATM fees.
  • Check Groupon if you want to go to the Grand Canyon or any other event in the city.
  • No naps unless you can do so responsibly.
  • Sunglasses can be used as a tool to disguise how drunk you are for photos. My lack of pictures likely speaks to drunkenness on this journey.
  • Strategize to maximize time. We have managed to do so much in just weekend trips because of strategy.
  • All hope was not lost; Omnia retrieved my friend’s ID from the floor and mailed it to her. The people only wanted her cash.
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A Millennial's Travel Advice

Pacific Coast Highway Mini Roadtrip

My friend Jess and I decided to meet in LA and drive to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway. The PCH runs from Mexico to Canada, so we did a much shortened version of this trip.

Los Angeles in a Day

I only had one night in LA which isn’t nearly enough time for this interesting city. However, we did fit in some of the stereotypical photo stops. We rented our car through Thrifty Car Rental which was closely located to the airport and a shuttle took me there. We chose this rental company because it was affordable and allowed us to pick up in Los Angeles and drop off in San Francisco. It ended up being misleading though as the prices went up once we dropped off the car. Something that struck me about Los Angeles was how difficult it would have been to get around if we didn’t have a rental car. The points of interest are spaced out fairly far and I didn’t see many buses.

We had only been in LA for ten minutes so obviously we had to make a quick stop at In-N-Out before making our way to Venice Beach. There were numerous “Pharmacies” along the beach and a variety of interesting characters.


Venice Beach.

Next we visited the Beverly Hills sign and drove Rodeo Drive. We stopped at Millions of Milkshakes along Santa Monica Blvd. I’m not much of a milkshake kind of girl but this place was super cool! The milkshakes are named after celebrities and they have videos playing of celebrities who have enjoyed the milkshakes.Naturally, we had to go to Hollywood Boulevard. Our hostel, USA Hostels Hollywood, was located very close and we were easily able to find overnight parking close by. Once we dropped off our car and luggage we walked to Hollywood Boulevard. We checked out some of the stars, some boxer was making an appearance, but we don’t care for boxing. We stopped for dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Café. While the food is good at Hard Rock Cafés, I feel like it’s missing out on an authentic meal of that city.


Beverly Hills.

USA Hostels Hollywood, had rules around drinking in the bedrooms; however, they had lots of seating out front for doing so. Jess and I caught up while drinking way too much. We thought that we might try going to a club but ended up in some dive bar with super cheap drinks along Hollywood Boulevard. At some point we made it back to the hostel and went to bed.

Begrudgingly, we woke up in the morning early. We couldn’t miss the Hollywood Sign. Trying to find a good photo spot was a little tricky, as some roads were closed due to forest fires. We eventually found one though. I look like I’m in physical pain in all of the pictures because I was. The best unknown spot for viewing the sign is Beachwood Drive off Franklin ave Main Street in Hollywood. Driving up Beachwood Drive into the Hollywood Hills you will arrive at either an excellent place to stop for a picture or if you are feeling adventurous a place to start a hike up to behind the sign. A bonus is the drive past celebrity homes.

So much pain.

Los Angeles Points of Interest:

  • Venice Beach
  • Beverly Hills
  • Hollywood Sign
  • Hollywood Boulevard

USA Hostels Hollywood: The room was clean, the building was reasonably secure. Every single time you want to enter the area with the rooms you must show your key to the staff behind the desk who then unlock. Annoying, if you only left for 30 seconds but necessary. The rooms had lockers which you needed to bring your own lock for but they were spacious.

Things to Watch Out For:

  • Overall, I found driving in LA much less scary than I was expecting. However, I did nearly get us killed when I didn’t let a man into my lane. He then followed us up the block screaming obscenities at us. It was super uncomfortable. Road rage is real! And we were terrified.

The Road Trip Saga

After we visited the Hollywood Sign, we stopped for water and road snacks and then set out on the Pacific Coast Highway or Route 1. Once we got out of LA the highway was beautiful. We left later than we wanted to but finding the perfect Hollywood Sign photo was harder than we expected it to be/we were hungover.

The highway is very straightforward and easy to drive. One thing that tripped me up a little was that I’m from a KM/Hour country and don’t have any concept of miles. But this was not a massive deal other than when trying to speed but not actually knowing how fast this would be. It was occasionally traumatic as at times we thought that we were closer to things than we actually were.

We stopped for lunch at Moby Dick Restaurant in Santa Barbara along the pier. The food was great but eating on the patio with a view of the water was phenomenal. I’m a sucker for a meal with a view. We didn’t spend much time in Santa Barbara but from what I saw it was beautiful. Jess took her turn driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time.IMG_1053 (1)

Another stop that we made was in Pismo Beach. You probably haven’t heard of it but you must stop there! It is a beautiful and quiet town.

  Pismo Beach  Pismo Beach. The water was so serene and the boardwalk was beautiful.

                  Along the water we saw sea lions and a beautiful sunset. The road winds along some mountains which look scary but ended up being okay to drive. We stopped multiple times to take photos. We found a bridge that we thought was Bixby Bridge but we were heartbreakingly wrong. We did experience a hugely disappointing moment on this trip. We had been super exciting to visit Big Sur and see Bixby Bridge. However, due to our other unplanned stops and leaving too late the sun had already set and we missed it. It was so tragic that Shakespeare could have written about it


One of our many photo stops. The view is so beautiful along the Pacific Coast Highway.

                  I collect cities. I like to make stops in as many cities as possible even if it’s only just for a meal. Therefore, we stopped in San Jose for dinner. We ate Mexican which was not ideal. Overall, the road trip was mostly successful and took about nine hours to get to from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

IMG_1136Thank you Snapchat!

Pacific Coast Highway Points of Interest:

  • Bixby Bridge
  • Pismo Beach
  • Santa Barbara
  • Sea lions roaming the coast

Things to Watch Out For:

  • We wanted to stop at Hearst castle but had no time.
  • We made the mistake of not allotting time for more stops. Missed Bixby Bridge.
  • Speed signs were confusing for km/hour girls. We were consistently disappointed because we thought we were closer to somewhere but actually we were super far away.

San Francisco

I absolutely love San Francisco; I have been three times and am open to so many more. On this particular trip, we got to San Francisco super late and mostly just found overnight parking for our car and went to our hostel for sleep.

In the morning, we had pre-booked our Alcatraz visit. It’s good to do this in advance because you cannot go to San Fran and miss it! In our heads, the pier was much closer so we opted to walk. We were wrong. We ended up missing our boarding time which was super stressful. Luckily, Alcatraz tours allow people to wait in an additional line in case there is room on the next boat. We were able to get on the next ferry. The ferry ride is short but scenic. You can see great views of approaching Alcatraz Island but also of the coastline of San Francisco. At one point, the island was occupied by Native Americans and you can see the spray painted relics of this piece of its past. Alcatraz offers an audio tour which I do recommend. It’s full of interesting information. I’ve been to the island twice; once in July and this time which was in January. In July the island was beautiful and full of flowers. On this trip the island was a little chilly so dress warm. When we were there former inmate, William Baker, was signing copies of his book. While you do go to Alcatraz at a scheduled time, you can leave on whichever Ferry you please afterwards so you can have as much time or as little time as you want.

With Alcatraz out of the way we went to a restaurant that I have gone to all three times I’ve been here: Chart House. What I love about it is that it’s right on Pier 39, so surrounded by shopping and if you get a seat along the window you not only get a beautiful view of the coast and the Golden Gate Bridge, but you can also see the sea lions that congregate on the pier. Highly recommend this for a sunset dinner. Pier 39 is home to the Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump. I love Bubba Gump restaurants and we made sure to eat here too during our trip. Sometimes you do have to do the stereotypical tourist things. I’m a pretty big fan of The San Francisco Sock Market. They have a wonderful selection of socks which makes me very happy.

IMG_1226                 Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point, beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Not our favourite, no one looks good from an up angle.

We walked along Fisherman’s Wharf before heading back to pick up our car and visit the Golden Gate Bridge. We took turns driving across the bridge. We also aggressively hunted for the best photo spot. We went to at least four different places. Our favorite ended up being the edge of Golden Gate Park. As far past the edge of the Golden Gate Welcome Centre as you can get.


Our favourite view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Just past the Golden Gate Welcome Centre. Never be afraid to ask a stranger to take a photo, I find they are usually more than willing. Especially if you offer to do the same for them.

Another fun thing we did was take turns driving down Lombard Street. The hill that this is located on is so steep that they had to wind it. If you don’t have a car, have no fear! You can get to either the top or the bottom by the cable cars and there is space for walking. I can’t imagine living in one of the houses along here as this is quite a busy tourist attraction. In July, this area is filled with flowers and looks stunning.

Once we returned the car we hopped on a cable car. Afterwards, we both had packed for warmer weather so a shopping trip to Powell Street was required. Back at our hostel, another USA Hostel, we pre-drank and got ready to prepare for a pub-crawl offered by the hostel. Pub-crawls or any activities that your hostel offers are a great way of meeting hostel friends.

I’m afraid I can’t tell you what four of the bars on this trip were because Jess and I decided to drink one shot and one drink in each of them. What I do know, is that when we were on our way home we stopped by Jackalope and had an amazing time. The bartender let us pick all of our own songs on the computer and we danced and sung by ourselves. Jess and I vow to go back here every time we visit San Fran.

In the morning, we flew out to Vegas.

San Fransisco Points of Interest:

  • Alcatraz Island
  • Chart House and Pier 39
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Jackalope bar
  • Lombard Street- either by car or by foot.

USA Hostels San Francisco: Again, the room was clean and had the same security system. We loved the opportunity to go on pub-crawls or other activities to meet people.

Things to Watch Out For:

  • Alcatraz Island can be chilly.
  • Driving in San Fransisco can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with one-way streets.
  • There are so many hills. This makes walking times longer than you might think. Also, bring good walking shoes.


Overall Things I learned on this trip:

  • If renting a car ensure that you can drop it off in another city.
  • If travelling from country, contact your phone company for a data plan! This can save you so much. Something I like to do is put my iPhone in airplane mode and then manually turn Wi-Fi back on. This will let me connect to Wi-Fi without running up my data. My friend Jess, who comes from Australia, typically gets an American phone number for her stay.
  • Having enough time! This trip felt a little rushed.


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Millennial Lifestyle

Why I Started Quarter Life Thriving

Dear Reader,

My name is Arielle and I’m a 25 year old living in Edmonton, Alberta. I started Quarter Life Thriving because ever since I was a young child I had dreams of being a writer. However, I suppressed these in favour of something more practical. I ended up completing a degree in psychology two years ago with the intent of pursuing a Ph.D. Throughout the course of my degree I ended a six year relationship with someone who was not the best fit to say the least. Ultimately, I realized that I didn’t have to follow the streamlined pattern laid out for me. I did not have to finish high school, get higher education, and settle down. Hell, I haven’t even had a meaningful relationship in three years.

As powerful as this realization was, I no longer know what I wish to do. Plus, I now have student debt (I don’t regret my degree though as it laid a strong foundation for all other pursuits). Part of me does want to go for the masters/Ph.D. that I built my university life around; however, part of me wants to gallivant around the world.

For a long time, I thought I was alone in my turmoil. Everyone seemed so much more put together than me. But, then I realized that this is something that so many other 20-somethings can relate to. It took me a long time to start a blog because I worried that my ideas would have been done already or that I just wouldn’t be good enough. Then I realized that I can do this.

Since finishing my degree I have travelled at every opportunity. I have said, “Yes” to so many different things. And I have completely grown as a person.

I don’t even recognize myself from who I was four years ago.

This is why I started Quarter Life Thriving. I hope to share this journey with you, my reader, and provide you with the tips that I have learned along my transformation so that you too can join me in Quarter Life Thriving.


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