Stop Stressing About Getting The Perfect Vacation Photo

Vacation is supposed to be about relaxing, exploring a new place, and living in the moment. However, social media has made it so that so much of travel is focused on getting the perfect vacation shot.

I used to stress about getting the perfect shot in front of an amazing monument, but then I realized that that’s bullshit. When I come back from a trip I don’t just want to remember the sites— I want to remember MY experience of them.

So, stop stressing about getting the perfect photo and just live in the moment!

Here’s how to capture perfectly candid travel content that will help you remember the experience, not just the sites:

1. Shoot in burst mode.

Set your camera to continuous shooting mode or just hold down the shutter button on your phone to capture a bunch of photos quickly. This way you can capture more movement and don’t have to focus on getting the pose just right.

2. Take a video.

Have a friend (or a stranger if you’re traveling alone) take a video of you walking at a pretty site or just goofing around. You can put the video in slow-motion to make an aesthetic Reel for Instagram or just screenshot the video to capture candid shots!

3. Remember to capture the in-between moments.

Not every photo has to be in front of a beautiful site. One of my favorite travel memories is laughing with my friends on a train in Ireland but I didn’t have my camera out. I wish I had taken photos of that amazing time to capture our joy!

4. Bring a disposable or film camera.

Not being able to see your photos in the moment will make you less worried about perfecting them. I love bringing a disposable camera on trips to capture candid moments. Bonus: when you get the photos developed you get to relive the trip all over again!

I hope these tips help you relax a little more on your next trip! Check out this post for more tips on how to make your vacation photos pop!

How To Pose In Travel Photos

When you travel to beautiful places, you really have to bring the fire to stand out in photos. If I never have to see the skinny arm pose in front of the Eiffel Tower again, I will have done my job! Here are my favorite poses to make my travel photos pop!

1. The Hop

Hop at a diagonal angle to the camera. Swing your arms like you’re running or hold them in your hair. This pose is great because it adds movement and makes you look like a natural part of the scenery. This is great for busy city streets or crowded areas with a lot of movement.

2. The Walk Away

Face away from the camera and put your weight on your front foot like you’re walking. This pose is great to use in front of beautiful vistas or on symmetrical streets because it brings the viewer into the image. They can imagine themselves standing where you are!

3. The Lean
Lean on a banister or wall and cross one foot over the other. This pose is one of my favorites because of how casual it is. No matter where you are, you look like you belong! This pose is great to use in doorways or on stairs of beautiful buildings.

Comment with which pose you’re going to try during your next trip!

Travel in The Time of Corona

As someone who loves to travel, the restrictions due to COVID have been particularly difficult. I don’t take safety lightly, so I canceled all my spring and summer travel plans at the beginning of the pandemic. When my boyfriend mentioned visiting his family for a few weeks, I was predictably anxious. Travel brings up a host of unknown factors and potentially risky situations, but seeing family took priority. Now, on the other side of the trip, I’m so glad I didn’t back out. After being cooped up in our small apartment for months, a getaway was much-needed!

When traveling in the time of Corona it’s imperative that we take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and others safe. Travel looks a lot different these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lovely trip. Here are some important things to keep in mind when planning your trip:

  • Get tested before you go. This was required for us to enter Maine but I think its a good practice to get tested or quarantine before you travel anywhere. This way you can be sure you’re not bringing the virus to your destination.
  • Eat and socialize outside. If you’re going to be visiting with friends or family, spending the majority of your time outside will reduce risk for all involved.
  • Avoid unnecessary errands. For our car ride and camping trip we went shopping beforehand and packed the car up with everything we needed to avoid stopping along the way. This will keep you from possibly exposing local populations to the virus.
  • Pack your PPE. To keep ourselves and others safe, we packed a whole bag with our masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, gloves, a thermometer, disinfectant spray, and paper towels.
  • Travel by car if you can. Keep planes safe for those who really need them by driving if you can! When driving it’s also important to make as few stops as possible. I know you’re wondering about bathroom breaks. Stopping at a bathroom has been rated as a pretty low-risk but make sure to keep your mask on and use gloves if you can. If you don’t like the idea of public restrooms right now, you can also find a campsite or hiking trail along your route for when nature calls!
  • Stick to the outdoors. Gone are the days of traveling for restaurants and museums. By visiting restaurants and other indoor spaces, you risk bringing the virus to locals. Plan your trip around spending time outside: go camping, take a hike, sit on the beach.
  • Respect the locals. This one is huge. Maybe the place you’re traveling has fewer cases than home, but that doesn’t mean you can abandon all precautions. You are a guest in someone else’s town. Be respectful and try to keep it safe and healthy for them.

I hope these tips help you alleviate some travel anxiety and plan a trip that’s both fun and safe!

How to Take Stunning Travel Photos

This may sound harsh, but if I see one more person do the skinny arm pose in front of an incredible monument that’s been admired for hundreds of years, I’m going to snap!

You didn’t come all this way and invest so much into seeing the most beautiful locations in the world only to take a boring picture that just sits in your camera roll!

Here are five easy tips to take travel photos you’re truly proud of while still living in the moment and not spending the whole trip chasing the photo!

1. Hit the most crowded locations during off-peak hours.

We’ve all done it—you get an idea in your head about this amazing photo you’re going to take in this incredible location, only to arrive and see a line of people who all had the same idea. Visit the most popular tourist locations early in the morning or on a weekday to make sure you have the time and space to get the shot!

2. Make a mood board.

This is something I’ve started doing before traveling recently and it’s soo helpful! It helps me to plan what I’m going to pack, how I’m going to pose, and possible photo angles so I know exactly what to do when I get to my destination. It greatly reduces my stress about getting great shots. Click here to see the mood board that inspired these photos.

3. Pack clothing that fits the location.

Once you make your mood board, you’ll have a general idea of a color palette and theme. Use this to plan your outfits and pack things that are going to fit in or stand out in your location. For my trip to Maine I mostly chose neutrals, and knits with a few flowy fabrics to capture the ocean breeze.

4. Browse the geotags.

This is a must before going on a trip! See where others are taking pictures around the area and how they’re styling the photos. You can get some inspiration, think about what you would do differently, and even discover some new locations you never would have found otherwise!

5. Edit on the go.

Being able to edit my photos from my phone and post in the moment was a game-changer for me when traveling. My new camera has WiFi that allows me to download photos right to my phone, but in the past I’ve used a dongle like this one to quickly transfer the photos from my memory card to my phone. I then edit my photos in Lightroom Mobile using my presets and post them right to Instagram! Click here to get the preset pack I use for all of my photos!

I hope you found these tips helpful! Where’s your next destination?

Maine Mood Board

Sources: @andforvintage, @chelseyrouen, @baluevama, @krystal_bick, @rebelrosey, @hannahliza

I’ve started a new habit of creating mood boards before I travel and it has made my packing and content planning so much easier! I use the mood board to guide what kinds of clothes to pack, where to shoot, and poses to use while traveling.

This month, Ben and I took a three-week trip to Maine to visit his family and get out of the city. The weather was still relatively warm, but we could feel the beginning of fall in the air. I wanted my wardrobe to reflect this transition period. I packed cotton button-downs, cable knits, and flowing fabrics to capture the ocean breeze. I kept my color palette confined to neutral tans and blues, but expected the addition of green from the forest scenery.

Coordinating my wardrobe to the scenery and planning my poses and shooting locations made it so much easier to create content while traveling. I didn’t feel stressed about getting the perfect photo from the trip because I had already had a game plan to capture photos I was proud of! Stay tuned for more posts featuring images from my trip!

Want to know more about my packing process? Read my post about how I pack light.

Best Workspaces in Madrid

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[This post originally appeared on the CIEE Teach In Spain blog.]

If you’re like me, you can have trouble getting work done in the comfort of your own home. Writing a blog post turns into scrolling through Pinterest, and scrolling through Pinterest turns into trying to make “The Ultimate Fudgy Brownies” at 2:00 in the afternoon on your only day off. So, I’ve learned that I need to get myself out of the house in order to be productive. This has become a really great way to get to know Madrid and I’ve found several cafés and workspaces that I frequently convert into my office for a day. Here are my favorite places to set up shop to get work done, or meet up with friends to research destinations for our next weekend trip.


Café de La Luz

A relaxed atmosphere with the scent of burning incense flowing through the air makes this cafe a great space for whipping out your laptop while sipping on a coffee. I suggest ordering their chocolate milkshake—it comes with a little side of popcorn! Make sure to get there earlier in the afternoon because it tends to fill up by 5pm.

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Espíritu 23

This adorable coworking space features a quiet work atmosphere and a full-service café where you can order a coffee or tea to keep you company while you work. They also have an outdoor space with artistic murals where you can work during warmer weather.

La Bicicleta Café

This café/bike shop hybrid is a great place to meet with friends or work on group projects. Laptops are only allowed at certain tables, but there has always been open space when I’ve arrived. The large tables and café atmosphere makes it easy to talk with friends or colleagues while sipping on a coffee. You don’t have to be as quiet as in a coworking space. I should mention that they also have AMAZING chocolate cake.


The Shed Coworking

The tranquil atmosphere at this coworking space makes it a perfect place to get work done. I almost didn’t even notice time passing. They also have a gorgeous terrace, and free coffee and tea in their self-service kitchen!

Lolina Vintage Café

The vintage vibes of this café make me feel like I’ve traveled back in time. The comfortable seating area on the basement floor with couches and antique chairs is a great place to get work done and then enjoy a cocktail after business hours.


Scenic Madrid Views You Haven’t Heard Of


[This post originally appeared on the CIEE Teach In Spain blog.]

Whenever I travel to a new place I like to get high. That is, I like to find high ground or a tall building from which I can view the surrounding area. It always helps me orient myself in a new place and, of course, it’s a great opportunity for photos. Oftentimes, sites with great views can be hard to get to, crowded, or expensive. So to help, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite views in Madrid that are cheap (or free) and easy to get to. Whether you’re looking for the perfect photo op or just a lovely place to watch the sunset, these sites are ideal.


1. El Parque del Oeste

Wander through the rose garden in El Parque del Oeste and then take a gondola ride up to catch a view of the palace and Madrid disappearing beneath you. The ride totals 5€ for transport to the top and back and it was worth it for how unique these views are.


2. El Corte Inglés (Plaza de Callao, 2)

At the top floor of El Corte Inglés right off of Gran Vía, there is high-end food court style dining with stunning views. Enjoy your lunch while looking out over the Madrid city center. Many rooftop bars offer views of Gran Vía but some require an entry fee and are only open in the evenings. El Corte Inglés offers the same great views, but in a more relaxed environment with a delicious variety of food and drink.


3. Cerro del Tío Pío

El Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío (also known as “Parque de Las Siete Tetas” by locals) is known for its seven rolling hills and beautiful view of the sunset over the city and mountains. Located in Puente de Vallecas, a fifteen minute ride from the city center via metro line 1, this park is popular but never overly crowded. You’ll never be fighting for space to see the view which makes it a favorite spot for a sunset picnic with friends or a date night.


4. El Templo de Debod

Though the Egyptian ruins of El Templo de Debod are a beautiful sight during the day, the sun setting over the hill behind them is even more stunning. You may have to deal with crowds at this time of the evening, but if you arrive early, you can enjoy a gorgeous sunset. Groups of people enjoying drinks and music on the grass only add to the lively atmosphere. What’s really amazing about this site is the uniqueness of the view. Don’t forget your camera and a picnic blanket!


Wintertime in Copenhagen: A Story of Hygge and Gløgg

DSC04488October is upon us and, as the fall weather sets in, you may be dreaming of planning a winter vacation to the beach in order to thaw out and catch a break from the cold. However, I’m here to try to convince you to reconsider. You may think I’m crazy for suggesting a trip north for the winter months, but there’s a reason that the Danes have a specific word for the feeling of coziness and contentment created during winter.

My friends and I heard that the Christmas markets in Copenhagen were some of the best, but we really didn’t know what to expect when leaving temperate Spain and traveling north in the middle of December. I usually try to avoid the cold, so I was a little apprehensive while planning this trip. But immediately when we stepped off the train and arrived to the city center of Copenhagen, I understood why this city is the perfect December destination.

The sparkling lights, a warm cup of mulled wine in your hands, and quaint shops selling holiday sweets create the cozy sense of hygge that will make you forget about your dreams of sunbathing on a beach. The trip immediately got me in the spirit of the holidays, something I had been struggling to do without the snowfall I usually experience in the U.S. There were plenty of opportunities to warm our bones by ducking into a market stand for gløgg or hot cocoa and, when the sun went down around 3pm, we made our way to a pub to play cards and drink some Carlsberg.

Copenhagen is one of my favorite destinations to date because, though the city is unbelievably gorgeous, it was more about the mood and experience than anything else. It’s not the cheapest place to visit, but I have compiled a list of my favorite sites, experiences, and activities, that all fall on the more affordable side. That said, you’ll probably be fine money-wise as long as you don’t spend as much on gløgg as I did.



Predictably, Denmark in December is pretty cold. Layers, a coat, warm socks, gloves, and a hat were key. I also suggest making sure your outer layer is waterproof for any rain or snow you might encounter. We had some rain during our stay, but it was on and off and still allowed us to see everything we wanted to!


Stay: Copenhagen Downtown Hostel

Though slightly on the expensive side as far as hostels go, that seems to be the case with all lodging in the city. However, this hostel was great for the price. It was in the city center, had clean rooms and a cafe and bar downstairs with a cheap happy hour. This would be a great place to stay if traveling alone. We spent several evenings playing games and drinking mugs of Carlsberg in the bar, which was a great place to relax and meet other travelers from around the world!


Drink: Gløgg

I’ve mentioned it several times, so if you haven’t heard of it already, you’re probably wondering, “what is gløgg?” It’s basically Danish mulled wine. I drank far too much of it while hopping from market to market. It’s the perfect way to warm up while sightseeing.

Breakfast: Ebelskeivers

When I was a kid, my best friend had an Ebelskeiver pan and we would make the little Danish pastries every time we were together, filling them with various jams, fruits, and creative concoctions. We got pretty good at making them but the Danes of course do them the best. You can get them at restaurants or roadside stands. The fluffy little round pancakes are the perfect breakfast (or anytime) treat.


Cafe: Paludan Bog & Café

The quaint, intimate atmosphere of a bookshop paired with good coffee and a full breakfast. To me, this was the epitome of hygge.

Dinner: Eat Outside

Yes, you read that correctly. In Copenhagen it’s customary to eat outside, even in the winter months. Restaurants have outdoor seating outfitted with warm blankets and overhead heaters. It was a fun experience and a great way to take in the beauty of the city while enjoying a meal.


Christmas Market: Højbro Plads

This was my favorite Christmas market we visited. It had a great variety of stands for gifts and food, and the beautifully decorated buildings of the square were on display. We visited this market several times during our stay because it’s very central. I would suggest stopping by for a cup of gløgg and a bratwurst for dinner.

View: Rundetaarn

A  view from above the city is a must for me whenever I’m traveling. Not only is it beautiful, but it also helps me get my bearings. With the Rundetaarn, however, the real photo-op is inside the tower, along the winding ramp up to the top. The white walls, bright windows, and curved stone floors are like nowhere I’ve ever been before. Plus, it’s actually pretty cheap to get to the top: just 25 DKK which is a little less than $4.


Visit: Freetown Christiania

The historic alternative neighborhood created in an old military base is a must-see while in Copenhagen. Walking across the bridge to the town in the freezing wind and spitting rain was a low point of our trip. We surely didn’t pick the best day to make the trek. Reserve this sight for the day with the best weather forecast because it is a bit of a walk. The town is so different from the rest of Copenhagen with a hippie atmosphere and art around every corner. Just make sure not to take photos along Pusher Street and respect the community.

Extras: The Little Mermaid Statue & Tivoli Gardens

Though the Little Mermaid Statue is a very famous landmark honoring Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, it is also pretty out of the way and very small. In my opinion, it’s only worth seeing if you have the time because it’s a bit of a walk. However, the walk there and back is beautiful and will allow you to see different parts of the city!

The entry fee for Tivoli Gardens is a little expensive but if you’re into Christmas light displays or carnival rides, it may be worth the price. We were able to get in for free with a local friend who had a season pass. I’m not a fan of rides but the light displays were some of the best I’ve seen. It truly feels like a winter wonderland.

This amazing experience in Copenhagen has taught me not to shy away from traveling in the winter. If you pack and plan right, cold weather travel can have so much to offer. Now I’m just waiting for it to get cold enough in Cincinnati so I can make myself a cup of gløgg and cozy up by a fire.



Lisbon Travel Guide


Two months since leaving Europe, and I’m already feeling nostalgic. I crave those winding cobblestone roads, detailed iron balconies, and I could really go for a café con leche right about now. So, what’s the best thing to do when I feel this pain? Rub lemon juice in the wound (obviously) and look through all the photos from my travels this past year.

In an effort to share what I’ve learned as a broke English teacher traveling Europe and chronicle my travels in a somewhat organized way, I’m making travel guides for everywhere I visited this past year! First up: Lisbon, Portugal. I visited Lisbon almost a year ago in October 2018, so the timing of this one is pretty perfect. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Lisbon in the fall!



In the fall the weather was variable and we had a few days of rain. Be sure to pack layers; you will work up a sweat hiking up and down hills during the day, but the temperature will drop at night.



Good walking shoes that will allow you to handle the hills and a rain jacket.


Language Tip: Obrigado/a = Thank you

Obrigado is the masculine version and obrigada is the feminine. However! Portuguese confusingly differs from Spanish in that the speaker’s gender is what determines the gender of the word. You use obrigado if you identify as male, and obrigada if you identify as female.


Best View: Miradouro de Santa Luzia

A beautiful view of the hilltops of the city winding down to the river, and great scenery for photographs. Though it’s a beautiful place to stop and take pictures, it’s not overly crowded which is always a plus when trying to get that perfect shot!


Market: Time Out Market

Time Out Market has so many amazing cuisine options and the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! Ginjinha, a tart cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup, is a must try. Get there early or enjoy a meal during off-peak times because it really fills up for dinner.

Brunch: Restaurante Infame

This restaurant is on the pricier side but is a big bang for your buck and has one of the most decadent brunch menus I’ve ever tasted. Three courses, a cocktail and coffee — what a way to start the day!


Dinner: Chinês clandestinos

So, here’s something you won’t find on TripAdvisor: Chinese restaurants illegally operating out of people’s homes are a huge thing in Lisbon. It’s pretty accepted now and these restaurants are becoming more popular among tourists, but something about knocking on someone’s apartment door and dining in their living room is really an experience. To top it off, it was also some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had. We visited Rua do Benformoso 59, but there are several in the Mouraria neighborhood and a quick google search will help you find the address of the one that appeals most to you. Chinês clandestino is a must-try if you’re visiting Lisbon.


Dessert: Nata

The best place to get nata is supposed to be Pastéis de Belém, and while their pastries were amazing, I’ve never met a nata I didn’t like. Basically every nata I had while in Portugal was a heavenly experience. You can’t go wrong with custard dusted in powdered sugar.


Drinks: Red Frog

Continuing with the clandestine theme, speakeasies are also very popular for a night out in Lisbon. You may have to wait a little bit at the door, but the drinks at Red Frog are experimental, gorgeous, and delicious.

Nightlife: Pensão Amor

Located in the historic red light district, Pensão Amor plays on its roots with pin-up graffiti, stripper poles and burlesque shows. The atmosphere is to die for but my favorite thing about this bar is that each drink has an aphrodisiac rating indicated on the menu by a scale of 1 to 5 penises.

I can’t wait to go back to Lisbon one day and see what else this amazing city has to offer. What are your must-see destinations in Portugal? Let me know in the comments!

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Living Outside of Madrid’s City Center


[This post originally appeared on the CIEE Teach In Spain blog.]

Shortly after arriving in Madrid, my fellow teaching assistants and I were scouring rental websites, competing for affordable rooms in the most desirable neighborhoods in Madrid. During this time I heard from a lot of people, somewhat vaguely, that they were looking to live “in the center.” Many of them did end up finding a place in the city center and living there definitely has its advantages: nightlife, reduced travel times, access to shopping and dining. I was initially also set on living in the center; however, when I had the opportunity to rent a recently renovated apartment just a five minute walk from my school for only 300€/month including utilities, I knew it was too good to give up. Unfortunately, this meant abandoning my plan of living right in the center.

I was a little worried that living outside of the center would be isolating and keep me from making friends, leaving the house, or being able to appreciate everything the city has to offer. Thankfully, that has not been the case at all. Living right next to my school gives me more free time in the mornings and evenings. Without a long commute, I am able to enjoy life in Madrid even more. Living in an area that feels more like a neighborhood with parks, schools, and families has also allowed me to explore a new area that I otherwise may have never seen. I also live in an apartment with a good amount of communal space, modern fixtures, and two terraces. These kinds of amenities are really difficult to find in the center unless you are willing to pay top dollar. I have many friends who live in small rooms with no windows in apartments with little to no communal space. They were willing to sacrifice these things for location. It’s really just about your priorities and what is important to you in a home.


If you’re planning on living outside the city center, however, I definitely suggest living near a metro line that can get you easily into town. I live right next to line 1. This has kept me from feeling isolated because I can just hop on the metro with my abono (unlimited rides for just 20€ a month) and be almost anywhere in 15-25 minutes. It also helps to live with or near a friend. This way, you can plan to do things together in your own neighborhood, share a cab after a night out, or hang out without having to brave the crowds of the city center.

I can confidently say that living slightly outside the center to be closer to my school, have a recently refurbished apartment and lower rent was the right decision for me. I love my neighborhood and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by living where I do. What I lost in location, I gained in time and money, and that is totally worth it for me. The housing hunt can be stressful and competitive, so don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity by limiting your apartment search. Things often seem to work out when you keep an open mind!