Las Vegas Travel Recap: Where to buy cold medicine and watch men dance

It’s been a bit since I’ve done any pieces about travel, which is weird considering I travel every month, but let’s not talk about the past. Let’s talk about VEGAS, BABY. Vegas has been on my list for a number of years but it seemed like a place that I needed a really good reason to visit. And finally my boyfriend, Frank, gifted me (and 10 of our friends) with that reason: his 30th birthday. So we all got on like 5 different flights (even though we were all coming from NYC) and descended on Vegas for a weekend of gambling, dancing, and drinking.

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At the airport w/ hot water and lemon

Now, I already did a podcast episode on this trip which you can listen to here, but that’s not so much a travel guide as it is a reflection of our time. Including, how sick I was. I want to steer away from that just a bit because I’ve a) already covered it and b) talking about my insane head cold is really no fun at all. I did however love everything about my CVS experience so I am totally going to highlight that. You can judge me but that’s why you come to me and not other bloggers right? I’m giving you the real deal here.

Also, this is a quick and dirty rundown, I know you’re busy. 🙂

THE RESORT

We stayed at the Wynn, because I had always heard vaguely good things about it and I found an amazing deal on Expedia. Done and done. It is toward the end of the strip, so if you’re looking to be in the thick of it, I wouldn’t stay here. But truthfully, you are going to end up taking a car to EVERYTHING. There’s a bus route that you can take, but once you put on your four inch heels, the bus just doesn’t feel right. More details on transportation later, but if you think you want to be on the center of the strip for walking purposes, I am not sure it’s worth it.

The Wynn has a casino, which means the casino floor has smoking. The rooms we had were non-smoking and you couldn’t even tell we were in a casino with that much smoke. Our room was gigantic. The bathroom was the most impressive part, it was probably the size of my first studio apartment and had a bathtub built for two, a separate shower, two sinks, a vanity area and a TV.

Since I was super sick day one there was literally nothing better than watching Friends in the tub and then ordering room service. I also won $100 that night on roulette!

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The service was great and I felt very much at home. Especially since I wound up spending so much time there. It has an incredible amount of outlets (F&B, shows, clubs etc.) and super luxe stores. I cried walking by the Alexander McQueen store everyday hoping I hit it big on the tables so I could buy a beautiful bag.

RESTAURANTS

The weird thing about LV is that you don’t ever feel that guilty for never leaving your hotel/resort. Sure there is plenty to see and do, but realistically all of the casinos kind of look the same, so sometimes it feels easier to stay put. We ate a good amount of meals at the Wynn and had essentially no complaints.

The Buffet @ Wynn

The hype is very real. The buffet at the Wynn is as good as they say. Picture every food you’ve ever loved and then picture it all for the taking in a single room. We ate this probably 3 times which could be embarrassing if wasn’t so amazing. They even brought me hot water and lemon to clear my sinuses at every meal. Oysters, chicken and waffles, candy apples, chia seed pudding, prime rib, mac and cheese, lox, danishes, sundaes, congee, sushi… on and on it went. My stomach actually just made a sound thinking about it. Even if you don’t stay at the Wynn, it’s worth the trip. Pro-tip: Go before 9:30am to avoid the line.

If you’re asking yourself “how do I wake up at 9:30 in Vegas?” don’t forget it’s 3 hours behind the East Coast. You’ll be awake. If you’re from LA, sorry I can’t help you. 😉

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Not at the Wynn but I died laughing when I saw it.

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

What an incredible experience this was. I found it difficult to find a restaurant on the Strip that wasn’t also a restaurant in New York City. A lot of them are repeats from NYC (or Miami) and for a group traveling from there, it seemed weird to go to a place we could go to any time. (Even though we don’t, ha!) So I came across Rose. Rabbit. Lie. I was intrigued by their “supper club” vibe but was immediately sold when I found the vegetarian and gluten-free menus they offer. The restaurant is in the beautiful Cosmopolitan hotel (my second choice for our trip!) and it is an actual supper club. We saw about 6 performances throughout our meal of talented dancers, singers, and musicians who danced all over the room and on top of tables. The food was excellent, the cocktails were strong and overall while it was one of our more expensive meals, it really didn’t break the bank. Highly, highly recommend.

Stripburger 

We went to this little outdoor burger place for lunch when people started to land from their flights and we weren’t a complete group yet. It’s in walking distance of the Wynn and was surprisingly good. They even made me a hot toddy! So expect a full bar, and a good meal. Also when I say outdoor, I mean outdoor. There is no interior, but they have heat lamps. It was a little chilly, but great atmosphere. Awesome waiter as well.

Pink Taco

Definitely not the highlight of our trip. The margaritas were good and the service was decent. But the tacos were really heavy and weirdly thick? I ordered them thinking they’d be light and they came out super heavy. The guac was ok, but pretty generic. I will say, we were able to get a table for TWELVE at the last minute so it’s good for that. Also it’s in the MGM, so it was in walking distance of our show at Magic Mike.

BARS, LOUNGES & CLUBS

Surprisingly, we didn’t do that much bar hopping. Like I said, it’s a bit challenging to get around as a large group. Also, they give you free drinks at the casino so…

Chandelier Bar

Inside the Cosmopolitan, we went here after our dinner at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. The setting is beautiful, it’s basically a two story lounge designed to look like you are inside of a chandelier. Other than that it’s your run of the mill lounge. My friend did get a pretty interesting drink that was Alice in Wonderland themed and turned different colors, but for those of us less adventurous. It was pretty basic.

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In the Chandelier

Corduroy 

Old Vegas & Freemont street were some of my favorite highlights from the trip. It felt just much more my speed. Picture an easier going Brooklyn with neon lighting and you’ve nailed it. We saw a bar advertising habanero pickle backs so we ducked in. What we found was an incredible little bar, designed to look like an old dive but definitely brand new, good picklebacks and awesome service. Also they had a selfie room that’s worth checking out.

Hakkasan 

The biggest joy of Hakkasan is that my friend new someone who could get us in for free and with free drinks and no line. I will say though, even if you do pay to go, it’s a beautiful space and vibe, while a definite Vegas nightclub, didn’t feel like too much. I usually feel overwhelmed or skeeved out, but it was a super nice place, plenty of room to move and dance, and I felt safe. We had fun dancing here even though the hip hop floor was closed and we were forced to dance to EDM.

SHOWS & MUSEUMS

Magic Mike

We went to one show and one show only. Magic Mike. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, because I think part of the joy of going is discovering it for yourself. (I didn’t take videos or pictures like some of the other women were, it felt super weird and also like it would take me out of what we were witnessing.) This show was 10x better than any of us could even believe. Seriously. We went in excited but left blown away. These guys are seriously talented, the host is hysterical, and the whole event was super fun, charming, and truly empowering. Pro Tip! Sit on the floor by the bar. They are cheaper than the bar seats and MUCH better. I promise you. They’re amazing. Message me if you want the exact seats. Best seats in the house BY FAR.

Neon Museum 

If you had told me I was going to go to a museum in Vegas I would have never believed you. But I did! And it was wonderful! We went to the Neon Museum. It was so fun to get outside on a nice day and to also learn about Vegas through some of its most iconic neon signs. The museum is beautifully curated (it’s not just a bunch of signs junked together) and the tour guides are knowledgeable and super kind. If you go during the day you can choose to talk to them or meander on your own. I highly recommend chatting, they know cool stuff! If you need a break from the booze and gambling, come here.

CASINOS

I really wasn’t much a gambler but I will say this. I loved the Wynn Casino. I won there (haha) and also everyone was pretty friendly. The Golden Nugget was terrible and I’d never go back. The El Cortez was fun in an old school way. It’s the oldest operating casino in Vegas. Go for the quarters, stay for the guy playing a piano.

BONUS: CVS

I am not crazy. This was the greatest CVS ever. Not only could you buy cold medicine here, but they sold HARD LIQUOR. Sure you can get wine and beer. But you can also get gin! Fireball! Anything! I was beyond. Also just outside the door is sports betting. We went here like four times and I don’t even feel ashamed.

Is she really going to end on CVS? (Yes, she is.)

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Why I Like Being “Simple”

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Photo by Khai Sze Ong on Unsplash

It’s been over a month since I’ve last written and I just want to thank you all for giving me that time! My last post went up three days before I started my new job and then it was a whirlwind of travel and learning and bonding and total, absolute exhaustion. But I am happy to report I feel like I am settling in nicely and I am so excited to be challenging myself in new and interesting ways.

A younger version of me would have pushed myself to maintain the blog, the poetry, the novel, the social media presence all at once, even while trying to learn a new job. This time around I said no to overwhelming myself. I said no to setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I said no to torturing myself about “not being enough”. I wrote when I could, I slept when I needed to, and I took a break from obsessing about every little thing. I focused on my new work, I got to know my team instead of hiding away in my room to write (they made that easy) and I am so happy I did.

Maybe it’s because I am older and I’m finally learning a thing or two about life, or maybe I’ve changed for another reason, but I can tell you this: allowing myself to be simple kept me happy, healthy and sane these past six weeks.

I’ve never wanted to be simple. Simple was a sin in my book. If I wasn’t multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-stressed out, then I was failing. A typical day would have been an intense weight workout, a full day of work, writing all night, responding to piled up texts, walking the dog, cleaning the apartment and then passing out totally exhausted. I got sick a lot. I wasn’t productive. My writing was… well… shitty.

Simple felt wrong, simple felt too easy, simple felt like I wasn’t doing my best.

What I’ve found is that SIMPLE allows me to excel. What I’ve come to realize is that my other talents, my other interests, and loves? They’ll still be there. This blog is still here. My poetry is still waiting for me to edit it and share it with the world. I’ve found other simpler workouts that don’t require me to travel to the gym every day. It’s all there and I will get to it. (When I can!) When I focus my attention to one or two things, I kill it. I sleep. I am not sick all the time. When I am simple I am a better, calmer, version of myself. It took a million and one tries, but I finally saw the pattern.

Now that the travel is done for a bit, now that I am finding my rhythm at work… now is when I can pick up the pen again. Write this blog post for you. Take some new photos for the IG. Make special plans with my friends. And when I do all of these things I will be more engaged because I won’t be tired, or worried, or thinking about the next task. I can simply be present.

I know there will be days when I want to go back to the way I was. When I want to pressure myself and push myself and overwhelm myself. And maybe I’ll need the extra encouragement. But knowing that it’s ok to take a step back and breathe is going to make all the difference. I mean, how often do you let yourself be simple?

Letting Go of All the Versions of Me to Reveal… Me

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

I spent a majority of my life trying to be several different people, all at once. It maybe all started with what I call a success-hybrid I created as a kid. Someone would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’d say, “A doctor-writer-veterinarian.” As I got older I adored to try new things. I played soccer for a year. I played the clarinet for 3 years. Theater and singing lasted longer, almost 8 years. I took on International Studies as a minor for a semester and dropped it almost immediately. I am a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a best friend, I work during the day, and write at night.

All those years I always compartmentalized who I was. If I was in a relationship but my friends were single, I would insist we not talk about my boyfriend. I didn’t want them to think I was actually that sensitive. (But I am.) I wouldn’t talk about my writing with my friends at the gym. I hardly ever mentioned my outside interests at work. It could seem at times even wrong to do so. I operated each piece of myself on its own.

Which ultimately started to drive me crazy because it was impossible to balance my time. Sometimes being a girlfriend took up three more hours than I had planned for. And so I couldn’t be a writer that day. Or I’d have to work late, and not be a friend that day. I have no idea why I did this, but I did. It wasn’t until the last year, maybe two, that I noticed it and attempted to stop it.

I asked my friends to welcome my boyfriend into our friend circle more fully, I made very close and dear friends at work, I told my superiors when I had work published so we could all celebrate. Instead of one or the other I was getting closer to the idea of me that I had as a child, I could be a couple things and it would be alright.

By removing my own compartments, I am a much happier person. My time doesn’t need to be parceled out hour by hour. My planner has become less precious to me. I write in the same room as my boyfriend. I am writer-girlfriend. I share my poems with my co-workers. I am poet-coworker. I make friends at work and introduce them to my boyfriend. I am coworker-girlfriend-friend. The more I combine my passions closer to one another the more like myself I feel. Every time I do not compromise one part of me for another, I glow. The tighter I wind in, pulling it all back, the more complete and whole I feel.

It turns out that I don’t need to be one person for each scenario. I just need to be me, in my entirety, and I will be happy. The closer I can get to my own core, the closer I get to being truly happy with the life I have built.

 

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work

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No shade to Women’s Running, but… I was so excited for last month’s cover story: “How to Eat Healthy While Traveling”. I really needed some new tips. Of course, I was disappointed to find that the article was one page and super generic. Stuff like: drink water, eat almonds. Definitely tricks that work in a pinch but if you’re someone who travels A LOT for work, you can’t sustain yourself off of almonds and water alone. And when you’re traveling with Celiac’s disease like I am, it can be even harder.

I often find myself in airports with incredibly few options (MIA I am looking at you and the one Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand) and I’ve come up with a REALISTIC guide to eating well when you find yourself in airport terminals all the time.

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Photo by Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

PACK SNACKS

This one is a no-brainer and when I say snacks I mean SNACKS. I read a lot of posts where the author recommends you make your own salad or meals in Tupperware and bring them on board. That sounds lovely if you’re traveling on a vacation or to a house with a place to wash your dishes. But when you’re traveling for work, you are often running straight from the tarmac to a meeting. It’s stressful enough to waltz into an important meeting with your luggage, but add on an entire tote bag full of dirty tupperware? No thanks. Also my bag is usually full of documents, folders, and my laptop, which doesn’t leave much room for meals.

Instead I pack snacks that are DIVERSE and I know won’t upset my stomach. The worst thing is trying a new granola bar and then 30 minutes later fighting bloat in a cab on the way to a meeting. The worst. Always go for real ingredients and different flavor profiles. The different flavors is CLUTCH for me because I know that if I bring only fruit based bars, I am going to feel sick eating just fruit all day. Here’s a sample of what I usually pack for a typical work trip, it’s enough to cover all of my flights as I usually have no time for myself to go grocery shopping anywhere I go:

RX Bars, an Apple, Beef Jerky, Trail Mix (w/o chocolate, ok), Clif Bars, G-Free Crackers, PB packet.

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AIRPORT MEALS

The dreaded airport meal. Even the airports where I fair pretty well (JFK) it’s still not something I look forward to.

1. In airports with few options or when you are crunched for time, the best item to look for is a salad. But do your best to find a place that actually knows how to make a salad. Do not go to the Sam Adam’s Brewhouse and ask for a salad, I promise you it will be heavy and kind of gross. Instead look for small cafe’s or even the tiny Grab N Go stations. I know the salads are pre-made but most Grab N Go’s tout a commitment to vegan or organic produce so you know you’re getting pretty decent goods.

2. And while yes, I am trying to eat healthy while traveling for work, I do my best to avoid eating some usually good proteins in airports (fish, steak etc.) because of how they are prepared (though one time I did get airport sushi)… but if I need the protein I pick chicken. It’s lean and easy to tell if it’s cooked right. You don’t have to guess much with chicken.

3. that annoying person who asks for dressing on the side and side salad substitutions for fries. It seems like you’re making a big deal but you’re not. If you’re nervous about it, you can ask your server upfront if they make substitutions or changes. It’s polite and your server will be prepared to help you and you’ll be prepared to order.

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AVOID CARBONATION & GUM

Part of eating healthy while traveling for work for me is keeping my gut happy. I love gum and I love seltzer but oh my god… the BLOAT isn’t worth it. It took me forever to realize the connection between these vices and my painfully bloated tummy on a flight. High altitude can already cause bloating, don’t help it out by adding bubbles. Opt for flat water (and a ton of it!) and mints. I know they aren’t sugarfree, but honestly a little sugar is better than being so painfully blown up that you can’t eat dinner later or sit through a meeting properly.

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

 

YOGURT IS KING

Unless you have a dairy allergy, yogurt is an amazing friend. If you have a hotel mini-fridge grab extras at the hotel market (most of them have these now) and toss some in there for breakfasts and late night snacks. And if you can find yogurt at the airport — YASS! The key to eating healthy while traveling for work is making sure you are full but also getting the same key nutrients you would on a regular day. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and also contains natural probiotics that keep your digestive system on track while you travel. Gut health = your health.

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Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

STARBUCKS HAS BANANAS

Bananas have a ton of fiber and you can find them at almost any Starbucks. Did you notice that there are Starbucks literally everywhere? I hate their coffee so I am often the girl who has a banana and water and who says “No” to “Anything else?” but I am okay with that. In a rush at the airport, hotel, meeting space, whatever, I can grab a banana and know that it will help me make it to my next meal. Bonus points if you packed the PB packet like I told you to.

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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

DINING OUT

There are so many variables when it comes to dining out while traveling for work and sometimes the worst culprit is yourself when you’re alone. I’ll be honest and say that I have had a lot of burgers and fries in bed, (the days are long and I like burgers.) But 98% of the time I aim to keep my dinners as clean as possible. This is because dinners are typically the only time I am at rest, sitting down, and have a higher price point (meaning a better selection) on food. If I know I am going to be struggling at the airport, and during lunch in between meetings, I rely on my dinners to be the staples of my day. I think about what key vitamins and nutrients I missed and try to plug them in. If I haven’t had a leafy green all day, I’ll make sure I get a giant salad. If I haven’t had any protein, I’ll aim to get a nice piece of salmon. It isn’t ideal, and you shouldn’t typically eat a big meal before bed, but for surviving on the road, this is necessary.

MAINTAIN ROUTINES

The last thing I’ll say is this: do your best to maintain any and all routines while traveling for work. If you typically work out in the morning at home, work out in the morning at the hotel. If you have tea before bed while reading a book, have tea and read even just a couple of pages before bed in the hotel. I always pack face masks because I like to do them after flying. It also just makes me feel more at home. Keeping yourself as calm and happy as possible will keep your stress levels down and you much healthier.


Let me know if you have any of your own tips and if any of these were brand new to you! I am always looking to create content that is actually NEW and helpful, instead of regurgitating what you’ve already read.

Small But Mighty: Away Carry-On Luggage Review

You guys have been LOVING my reviews lately, so I am stoked to share with you my latest on Away Travel luggage. I had been obsessing over this luggage like every other travel nerd on Instagram for quite some time but it wasn’t until Old Faithful (my fuchsia piece of Target luggage I bought in college) broke on my trip to Miami in February. It was a sad day. I had used that piece for about a decade, so I figured it was time to treat myself a little.

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Away comes in several sizes but I went with the smallest roller bag known as The Carry-On. I went with the deep forest green because I thought Navy and Black were too generic and I wanted something that wouldn’t turn brown after a couple of uses. It’s a beautiful color.

The best part of this review is that I have been on a whirlwind tour of the country for work and so in the past month I’ve carried it with me on planes, trains, and too many Lyft rides to count. Here’s the breakdown.

SIZE: I went with the smallest one because I wanted to guarantee it could fit on any flight, anywhere. Thank god I did. The overhead storage on a recent flight to Hawaii was so teeny, tiny and my bag fit no problem. It looks super small but this can fit A LOT. I had to do San Francisco and Hawaii back-to-back so I needed to be able to pack for 60 degree and 80 degree weather. Mission accomplished.

PACKING: In this little bag I packed: 3 pairs of slacks, 3 tops, 2 dresses, 5 workout outfits, 2 pairs of flying leggings, 2 casual outfits, countless socks and undies and bras, Converse sneakers, ballet flats, my laptop charger, my poetry book manuscript (really), all of my skincare items, and my makeup bag. Even though it is small, it is thoughtfully organized so everything has a place to go. Brilliant.

WEIGHT: I honestly was worried it was cheap because it weighed so little. It is super light, even lighter without the charger in it. I was able to lift it overhead with ease, even when it was stuffed to the brim.

EXTERIOR: Ok so this is disappointing. I got green so it wouldn’t stain but I didn’t expect white paint! From bell closets at hotels (and my own closet) my poor baby got a lot of white paint marks. Luckily they’ll come off, but I only do this after a trip, so during I have to suffer the scrapes!

DURABILITY: I didn’t abuse it too much but it seems to be putting up with all the trips and airplanes good enough.

WHEELS: The wheels move like BUTTAH. Seriously. This rolls with such ease I wanted to die. That said, they are tiny little baby wheels. So at the Amtrak station and on Boston’s uneven streets they got caught a lot. They’re great in the flat surfaces in the airport. Even carpet.

CHARGING FEATURE: Omg this thing can hold a charge. Between myself and everyone I traveled with we charged our phones A LOT on it and I didn’t need to recharge it all. It’s still on the same charge from March! And I went to Boston, Miami, San Fran, and Hawaii. It’s that great. I had no issues flying with it. Delta made me pop it out and put it in my purse. Easy.

AESTHETIC: It’s totally good looking. A guy in the airport even stopped to ask me what I thought and asked to feel it up. I gave him my mini-review while we waited in line together. I got other compliments on it as well.

So was it worth the $225? I say, YES. With the exception of it’s tendency to pick up paint everywhere I go (seriously), it’s an excellent piece of luggage. I cannot believe the amount of stuff it fits and I love how easily it fits into any overhead bin. Consider me obsessed.