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Travel Essentials

It’s travel and holiday season! For those of us who are not traveling, this list will give you enough goals to lust over travel accessories and plan your next vacay. 

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For those of us who are traveling, where are you all headed? 

As I am relentlessly running around to pack everything, I thought of sharing some of the travel essentials I cannot do without and some essentials, you all have shared. 

1: Luggage

Luggage can be tricky. Are you traveling light? Are you going on a backpacking trip?  Are you going to visit family overseas? Will you be shopping a lot? Ideal luggage is subjective. If you travel a lot for work and live out of a suitcase, you’ll need maximum space and a durable piece of luggage. 

My favourite is the Samsonite line. They are trendy, lightweight, and extremely reliable in terms of durability. If you are looking to splurge more, Tumi is a luxury line of luggage that is sleek and trendy.

 

2: Cosmetics and Toiletries

I keep going back and forth on how I prefer traveling with my makeup. Should I check all of it in? Keep some out and deal with them in a ziplock through the security? It depends. When I have a long layover, I need all the help I can get to look human when I arrive at my destination.

Here’s what I keep in my cosmetics bag (I love how spacious my Tommy Hilfiger one is)- Dior Star Foundation, Marc Jacobs Mascara, Dior Matte Lipstick, NYX matte, Lip Balm, NARS blush, Anastasia DipBrow Pomade, and my absolute essential: my YSL waterproof liner. I have recommended it an infinite times and am still baffled as to why anyone would choose a different kohl liner over it. 

These products give me a full face of makeup when I need it.  

Sephora's Micellar Water is great to get rid of all the makeup for when you want to give your skin a rest. 

Hafsa Pathan, owner of Honey Lemon Events, recommends the Mario Badescu spray for keeping her skin hydrated.

I personally am a huge fan of this Dior mask for in-flight skin care. My go to moisturizer is Dior Hydra Life.

Other essentials I carry- Cottonelle Flushables, Lysol spray, tooth brush, toothpaste, and Lysol wipes. 

3: Technology

Camera: I do not think it’s possible for me to travel without my Canon DSLR. I recommend a DSLR camera for all those of you who want to venture into the world of travel photography. If you cannot be bothered, and just need something to capture memories with something other than your mobile, get a Canon Powershot point and shoot. 

SD Card:  I am not sure as to why it isn’t advertised more, however, if your camera is WiFi compatible, I recommend an Eye-fi card. It uses WiFi connection from your camera to transfer photos via an app onto your phone. Pretty amazing, I know. For me, the eye-fi eliminates the need to carry a laptop around to transfer photos. 

Portable Charger: Endless juice- that’s what I am talking about. Anything less than 20,000 mph is not worth the money you are spending. Spend a little more and invest in- this Anker one. 

Long Cellphone charger cables: if you end up staying at a hotel or don’t have an electric switch close enough, this one will eliminate that problem.

Converter plugs are important, needless to say.

A great pair of headphones is imperative. Apple headphones are the standard go to, but, if you are looking to splurge, then I recommend the Bower & Wilkins one.

4: Footwear

Again, pretty subjective as to where you are traveling, but, my suggestion for a good pair of walking shoes is Sperry’s, followed by a comfortable pair of leather loafers. 

My Sister-In-Law gifted me my first pair of Sperry’s and I absolutely fell in love with how comfortable and trendy they are. I am glad the craze over Toms is over- they never really appealed to me.  

Make sure to try the leather loafers ahead of time, if they need to be loosened, make sure to get them stretched ahead of time. 

5: Apps

Azhar Khan, friend from high school and a fellow traveler, recommended Maps.me. It’s an offline navigation system. I am excited to try it out on my future trips.

Pandora is my go to for songs. I have a playlist downloaded and ready to go. It’s great to get you in the right mood. 

Saavn is great for Bollywood music- if you are so inclined. I am subscribed to this one as well and love being able to access all the latest songs.

Audible is an amazing audiobook resource. Especially when you are traveling and want to get your reading in. My husband and I are both great fans. I am about to finish A Cuban Affair on it and my husband has undertaken the Game of Thrones series.  

I hope it doesn’t come as a revelation that Whatsapp is the best messaging app for international messaging. You do, however, need WiFi to be able to use it.  

6: Miscellaneous

Traveling pillows are one of the best inventions to date. There are so many out there- designed to suit your sleeping position as you sit through your journey. There are the standard neck pillows, and then a chin pillow for those of us who prefer sleeping with their chin drawn in. 

Make sure they are made out of memory foam!  

Socks: many of you have recommended a pair of socks. My only two bit is to make sure they are 100% cotton. 

Luggage Tags and Passport Holders: If you aren’t on this bandwagon, why not? I love everything leather so I absolutely love a luxurious leather passport holder and a luggage tag.  

Watch: I love a good watch. A luxurious leather strap and a trendy dial. I am lately digging the North Accent brown soft genuine calfskin leather strap watch with an Arabic numeral dial.  They come in varying dial and strap sizes. There is a 42mm dial and a 36 mm. The strap sizes are accordingly. I love that they are unisex. They are made with Sapphire Crystal (anti scratch, hardest material available for watch crystal), functions using Swiss Movement, Camel engraving on the crown face as well as engraving on the watch buckle. It comes in a great leather watch box. Makes for a perfect gift! 

 

This list is not conclusive. There are many items that can be added or removed according to your needs. I have just included what I think is essential according to me. 

Cannot wait to hear back from you all about your travel destinations and some more of your essentials!

 

Miami Travel Guide

Miami is alive. It’s heart beats late into the night. Miami is worth the hype. It is a great destination if you are looking to escape somewhere to experience a slightly different culture (lots of Latin influences), a prominent city, yet, a beautiful destination to escape to.

This trip was a surprise anniversary gift from the mister. He thinks I possess “spey aduke” which literally translates to Dog’s bone. In Pukhtoon culture, Spey Aduke is a label used to refer to someone who possesses a dog’s bone- which means that they are predisposed to wandering. Clearly, my husband has a great understanding of it.

Before every trip, you have to set up an expectation of what you want to get out of it.  Most people think the sole purpose of a vacation is to relax. That might be true for some. For me, it entirely depends on where I am going. If it’s a destination rich in history, culture, or architecture, my itinerary will look much different. As for Miami, our purpose was to laze on the beach for the most part.

Where we stayed:
We would walk out of our resort- the Confidante- and go straight on to the beach. If there is a luxury you want to splurge on, make it this. Make sure your hotel has a private beach access. Driving to beach and finding parking might prove to be a hassle-especially if you are traveling in peak season. Our booking included beach chairs and an endless supply of towels. The Confidante also has waitstaff on site for you to order drinks or food while you laze on the beach. I ordered Piña Colada and it will set you back for $15 per drink (overpriced for someone who drinks the virgin version), but, it’s a great perk to avail to.

The Confidante has a great selection of breakfast buffet. Their room service, concierge, valet, as well as resort waitstaff service was excellent. Check it out on Dua Lipa’s music video!

Places we visited:
The highlight of the trip was driving down to the Keys. They had just about recovered from the devastating effects of the hurricane. So it felt nice to be able to put something back into their economy. The sunset at the Keys was breathtaking. We drove in particularly to Islamorada. Depending on your itinerary, you can drive further out to the tip of the Keys.

Little Havana was exceptional food wise. Not so much for site seeing so I have discussed it further under food.

My husband also booked a trip to the Everglades. Everglades is part of National Park in Miami. It is a swamp filled with reptiles- crocodiles, alligators, and snakes. I am phobic to reptiles. It’s mild, but, it’s there. So I was less than excited to go on this tour. However, it was the second best experience. The feeling of speeding through the swamp was fabulous. It was like nothing I have done before. We also attended an alligator show, after which, my husband *almost* pushed all the kids out of the way to be one of the first ones to hold a baby alligator and get his photo taken.

Wynwood Walls is an excellent place to take in the art scene of Miami. It is very touristy, but, it is well worth the hype. They have walls painted in various patterns and style. My favourite were the cubism ones. You can also buy art here, if you were so inclined. Go on a weekend, and you can attend a craft fair. Quite fashion forward and unique.

Bayside Marketplace was a fun place to people watch, catch a yacht ride, hear live music, and grab a bite or two. We spent some time there to just take in the ambience.

Design district is a must if you are into architecture. The architecture style is modern, and houses mostly fashion boutiques. The style is quite different from what Ocean Drive has to offer.

Ocean Drive is an awesome place to stay at if you want to party the night away and soak in the Miami night life. It lives up to the hype. The food, music, and ambience are enough to transport you into a trance. The hotels on Ocean Drive were packed and the access to South Beach was not as convenient as it was at Mid-beach- where we stayed. The Art Deco architecture, however, is amazing for photo backdrops. Make sure to take tonnes of photos!

Where we ate:
We ate at the Lazy Days restaurant at the Keys. The view from the restaurant was stunning. We tried their must-eat menu item; Conch fritters. I, for one, was not a fan. The shrimp pasta, however, was absolutely delicious. My favourite part of their offerings though, was their complimentary banana bread. It was the best I’ve ever had!

Since we had made it all the way to the Keys, we decided to sample their specialty- Key Lime Pie. I am not a fan of Key Lime pie, however, I have come to the conclusion that most bakeries outside of Keys have no idea as to how to create this pie. The one we tasted at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen was the best I have had. It was not too sour, not too sweet. Just perfect.

Our breakfast was a buffet selection at the Confidante. It was included in our hotel package and was delicious as well as fresh. Try to get a hotel with breakfast included. Not only is it a great economical decision, but, will save you some traveling time to put towards something more productive.

Creekstone beef supplies dhabiha beef and so I chanced upon Toro Toro while searching for restaurants in Miami that supplied creekstone beef. Toro Toro is a high end steak house that serves a variety of gourmet meals. Our steak was decadent, juicy, tender, and so well flavoured.

Little Havana is by far, our favourite Miami spot for food. It’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s different. Versailles restaurant on Calle Ocho has early 70’s vibe with their over the top mirrors and ambiance. The food (we ordered sea food) was fresh, service was quick, and their Cuban espresso will wake up the dead. Their tres leches is my favourite- although at the time it felt ridiculously sweet. In comparison to the others we had, I am pretty convinced about this one. Do not leave without trying their creole sauce!

La Camaronera was a cute little spot for seafood (some may think that it’s a bit too hyped as it was featured by Guy Fieri), but, it lives up to its hype. It can get super busy because of how popular it is. Their food is delicious, and quick. The only catch besides their seafood, is that, they only accept cash. Their tres leches was my husband’s favourite.

Rosetta Bakery was one of our dessert spots. Because a pastry chef must do what a pastry chef does. Eat pastry. Their fruit crostata as well as chocolate truffle cake were our favourite.
One of my favourite things about Miami is that their “bakeries/patisseries” not just ice-cream spots, are open late. I don’t think I’ve ever had a crostata at 1 am before. Bakery businesses, take note.

My favourite final spot came as a suggestion from a fellow food blogger, Izzah, at Tea for Turmeric. It was Chez Bon Bon at Fontainebleau. Their pastries are top notch, detailed, and delicious. We had Pabana (passion fruit and banana pastry), double chocolate pastry, macarons, and croissant. The croissant was sub par. But the pastries hit the spot.

How We Got Around

 Mister booked our vacation package through Costco Travels. You have to be a member to book it. They usually have a great selection of all-inclusive packages. Our flights, hotel, Everglades tour, as well as our car was booked through them. 

We got around within Miami with the help of our rental. We got a convertible car- it really elevates the experience of being in Miami. Although, if you are looking for a more economical version, I would suggest Uber/Cab. Most of the resorts charge a parking and valet fee of around $50-$100.

What I wore and What I packed

I wore an "Islamic" swimsuit. I bought mine from Ali Express. I got it in black. The quality was pretty decent for the price and arrived on time.

I also packed a paddle board. The experience was even better with it, in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Pack lots of sunscreen, towels, flipflops, and mosquito repeller.

 

That's all for the Miami guide! Do check out the video tour of it.