24 hours in Verona, Italy._GirlGoneTravel.com

A day in The City of Love, Verona, Italy

Two hours from Milan and Venice, and only a little more than an hour from Brescia, where we were staying, is the city of Verona, best known for being the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Juliet’s House will be the place you will want to visit first upon arrival (though doors to the museum don’t typically open till mid-morning). Even when we arrived to the city early on a weekday morning, a mop of tourists had already gathered in the courtyard of where the real-life Cappello family once lived. There’s a statue of Juliet at the foreground where people wait in line to grab her bronze breast because supposedly it makes the one doing so lucky in love. My husband and I passed on this chance, confident that we were going to be OK either way. Watching people anxiously line up to do so, with women as well as men happily posing for photos with the boob of a statue in their hand was, however, the comical introduction to our day in Italy’s City of Love.

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Three beautiful days in Brescia, Italy

One of the greatest gifts I received as a young traveler to Italy was the opportunity to learn about Brescia. Brescia is about an hour and a half from Milan, in the region of Lombardy. Not many people I have spoken to about my time there as a young adult know where Brescia is, much less even heard of it. It has always been for me, especially as my intro to Italy, a secret paradise, my own little haven. Though the distance from Milan is short, it feels like it is worlds away. Brescia, considered one of the most ancient cities in Italy, is a favorite just as Northern Italy remains my favorite area of the entire country to visit.

I also have family there, which might influence it all a bit too, and it was a wonderful experience for me to return to such a special place in my heart with a husband and kids in tow. I spent the first few hours in complete awe of the fact that this was a moment when my past and present were coming together in the most beautiful way possible. 

Watching the clouds roll over the Alps in Switzerland.

What my family vacation in Italy helped me remember

I am back! I planned on only taking two weeks off from blogging, but that turned more into three. After my beautiful sister’s wedding and our road trip through Italy (thanks to those who followed us on social media!), my sister came into town for a few days more after her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. We played tourists together through NYC and as every day went by I felt more and more relaxed with a lighter, more easy-going outlook on what I wanted to do for the rest of the year.

I have a bunch of posts and photos I want to share with you; where to go, what to do, where to stay…but first, I wanted to write about how significant the time away was for us.

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Planning a Road Trip through Italy

It’s road trip time, dear readers!

We didn’t take an extended road trip in 2015, although we did take smaller road trips closer to home which were a lot of fun and a great reminder that unforgettable travel does not have to be to far away places.

This year we are going international again (see our 2014 road trip through France)! I am excited to be returning to Italy and to revisiting some of the ol’ stomping grounds of my youth in Brescia.

Brescia is in the region of Lombardy in Northern Italy and is a 1.5 hour drive from Milan. I spent some time here deciding whether I wanted to stay and study there. I struggled with the language and was very young and  eventually made my way back to New York City. This time I will be traveling with my two youngest boys and my husband, and though things have changed dramatically since I was last there, I can’t wait to reconnect with my sister – whose wedding we will be attending – and with a region I once fell in love with. Of course, sharing this with my family makes the return that much sweeter.

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Weekend Getaway to Cortland, NY

Nestled in upstate New York, just 30 minutes outside of my old stomping grounds of Syracuse (go Orange!), lays the quaint, historic city of Cortland. A winter ski destination and close in proximity to the wineries of the Finger Lakes, it was the perfect little weekend getaway for a fun father/daughter road trip.

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The Face of Adventure Travel

Adventure travel is, by definition, “a vacation or trip to a natural environment or remote place with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of a new experience.” The level of challenge in the activities vary, but if you are passionate about outdoor travel and find yourself spending most of your travel time as well as budget on these types of experiences, you fall within the group of adventure traveler.

When looking at what the media considers to be an adventure traveler he generally is male, white, and muscular/thin. They can be a woman too, but still she is white and thin. Marketers envision younger backpackers and trekkers of summits who enjoy physically challenging expeditions and like to sleep in mud huts, tents, hostels and side road motels.

It is true that an adventure traveler is one who is generally a risk-taker and curious by nature and who tends to want to push themselves physically and mentally as part of their travel experience. But adventure travel is as diverse as those who partake in it.

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Weekend Getaway to Los Cabos, Mexico

After several trips to really cold destinations, I needed an escape to somewhere warm. I didn’t realize how much I needed this escape until I arrived to the warmth of Los Cabos, Mexico. When I arrived to San José del Cabo airport I felt the weight of winter, or maybe it was the many layers of clothing, lifted off my shoulders. The beautiful sound of Spanish filled the air, sprinkled with the English of the many tourists that visit here regularly. In a weekend’s time, I would get to enjoy two very different hotel experiences and lots of sunshine.

The airport is a direct 5-hour flight from New York and Newark airports, though the area is mostly visited by residents in the nearby Arizona and California states. The airport is easy to navigate – though it’s important to remember to stay clear of the aggressive vendors right outside the security doors before you exit the airport. I really can’t stress this enough. It’s best to book your car service/shuttle through your hotel reservation, all of which will be waiting for you outside of the airport, not before (regardless of what any vendor there will say). Avoid being tricked into sitting through a timeshare presentation and you should be OK to start your vacation.

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Remembering Priorities and Tips for Avoiding Burn Out

I finally finished unpacking two suitcases that sat on my bedroom floor from trips that I did back-to-back with very little time at home. This is the dream life of many travel bloggers and writers I know. It is definitely not mine.

For the past couple of years I have traveled an average of 2-3 times a month. My reason for traveling so much is to get work. To stay busy and always have something to deliver. But somewhere in 2015 I found myself feeling very, very tired. And towards the end of 2015, I found myself less excited about having to pack yet another suitcase.

It was time to rearrange my priorities and avoid burn out. The following is the thinking process for assessing what I needed to remember before I could figure out what I wanted to do. We all have different experiences and journey, but I found that stopping to remember how I got here and why I do this was important. I follow this up with tips for avoiding exhausting yourself out of what you love.

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Joys of Winter in Southwest Quebec

I arrived to Rouyn-Noranda, in southwestern Quebec, just as a snowstorm was kicking-off. It was milder than normal, I was told, but still much colder than what I had experienced thus far back home.

My schedule included a long list of activities in the snow and I was excited. There are so many things to do especially in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. In fact, throughout the 4 days of my visit, I came across people of all kinds making the most of the area around them and, it turns out, skiing isn’t one of them which for me was perfect.

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3 Romantic Days at Mont-Tremblant

Located in the Laurentian Mountains northwest of Montréal in Quebec, Canada, is the year-round ski resort, Mont-Tremblant. It sits on the shores of Lake Tremblant and not far from the Mont-Tremblant National Park.

It has also become a destination favorite since our recent romantic weekend getaway there. From Newark  and La Guardia airports, it’s about a 5 hour flight, with one stop, on Air Canada and about a 7-hour car drive from NYC. In other words, it is really close, although once you arrive, you feel like you are a world away.