All you really need in the summertime is a tall iced coffee, a mountain to climb, waterfalls and forests to explore with your favorite people and pups, and a few solid outfits that will breathe with you through the afternoon breeze. For a recent weekend getaway wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee, I packed a few trusty wardrobe staples along with some new favorites I’ve picked up this season.
Between unwinding along Ireland’s quiet northwest reaches and enjoying copious helpings of Scottish whiskey, we took the train down the Irish coastline for a weekend of adventures along the southern reaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 1,500 mile scenic route speckled with jaw-dropping views and castles along Ireland’s rugged westerly shores. With much to do and just a few days to soak up Ireland’s first national park, centuries of history, a gorgeous peninsula, and some incredible seafood, my husband and I hit the ground running as soon as the train slowed into Killarney station. Our first stop would be the surreal sanctuary of Friar’s Glen, a small bed and breakfast nestled away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Killarney in an ancient valley between the mountains of Killarney National Park.
Between roaming the Irish countryside and touring through the Scottish Highlands on to Islay, we spent a wee bit of time in Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh. Although our stay was brief (and fell just a few weeks before Brexit), we packed in a full day of culture and history as we stumbled across so many unexpected gems in this quietly beautiful, cosmopolitan city. One could spend an entire vacation wandering Edinburgh’s storied streets, taking in its spectacular architecture, enjoying incredible dinners, and learning about the city’s intriguing history and residents – J.K. Rowling, Sir Sean Connery (James Bond slash collegiate nude model, as we would discover), Robert Louis Stevenson, and medieval witch hunters (who drowned their victims in a loch that once filled Princes Street Gardens) alike have hung their hats in the affectionately nicknamed “Athens of the North”. Even with only a day to spare, there’s a lot you can see and do – a stopover in Edinburgh is definitely worth your while if you can fit it into your travels!
When you marry a whiskey man (or whisky man, as they say in Scotland) with whom you share an affinity for first editions, bedroom slippers, bran cereals, Ken Burns documentaries, gardening, and heavily peated scotch (we are essentially grandparents in the chrysalis) it’s tough to decide on a honeymoon destination. Oddly enough, we both landed on a tiny island off the coast of Scotland through independent research (another beloved Hunt-Ralston hobby) and soon realized it would be the perfect spot to unwind after exploring the wilds of Ireland and bustling Brussels.
After a few weeks abroad I’m back home, unpacking, sorting out photos, and catching up on beauty rest. Three countries and three times as many plane and train rides later I’m missing one city in particular. Nestled along the northwest coast of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is a relaxing train ride from Dublin (with wifi and wine) or just an hour’s drive from Shannon airport. The city holds an extra special place in my heart as likely 1700s stomping grounds for my great-great-great-you-get-the-idea-grandfather who immigrated from North Ireland to North Georgia and opened a tippling parlor only to be eventually killed by local Native Americans who would also become part of my Appalachian lineage – but that’s another story for another blog.
How to pack for two to three weeks in Europe using a single carry on. Plus my capsule wardrobe packing system, what’s in my bag, a few travel tips, and a handy printable packing list. If broken roller boards, sore shoulders, Zambian baggage fees, and a lone suitcase languishing on the tarmac of the Madrid airport have taught me one thing about exploring this world, it is this: Pack light to travel well. How light? Whether a trip is three days or three weeks my max is a 10 kg / 22 lb duffel bag paired with a little 14L backpack. 22 pounds (plus a small bag or personal item) is the typical limit for carry-on luggage on most smaller airlines. According to backpacking experts, 22 pounds is also on the lighter side of my ideal pack weight, which is 1/4 to 1/6 of my 125 lb total body weight. To me, traveling well means having enough clothes, toiletries, and travel essentials to be comfortable without dragging along anything I could do without. The fewer …
Ocean Shores, Washington A week and a half in Washington State was one long sweet, surreal day dream. Our first stop at Ocean Shores unexpectedly introduced us to equine friends: Maggie and Milly. After an afternoon on the beach we were off to Olympic National Forest and idyllic Lake Quinalt for the best salmon nachos in the world. What to pack: Ocean Shores Thrifted Patagonia M Stand Up Short (Also here) Thrifted wide-brim hat (similar on sale at Nordstrom and Amazon) Ray-Ban Classic Aviators in grey-green and gold H by Hudson “Horrigan” Booties (Sizing notes) Bandana (Nordstrom) Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park Next up: The Ruby Beach coast along Washington’s Olympic National Park, which is impossibly expansive and remarkably welcoming. At once you feel tiny, humbled, yet also as if you’re coming home, surrounded by a cathedral of ancient trees, rugged bluffs, and icy tidal pools. It’s the sort of place meant for basking in the warm sun, exploring secret caves, and tumbling over driftwood to unearth little sea creatures. Photo by Caroline Walker Evans …