Creating a Visual Vacation Packing List

September 12, 2012

I don’t know about you but seeing my clothes lying on my bed before leaving on vacation, it usually looks like I am packing too much. If you want to stop doing that, and really who doesn’t, try creating a visual checklist.

My Chicago Packing List

I have the luxury of using photoshop but you don’t need fancy design software to get this look. Check out polyvore. This website has access to all the clothes you need (and the ones you don’t) to represent you wardrobe!

Step One: Figure Out What You Want to Wear

This is the first for a reason. Using polyvore or your closet, you first need an idea of what you want to wear! Find out:

  • Weather
  • Type of Travel
  • Length of Stay
  • Walking/ Non-Walking

After you know the answers to these questions, you’ll know more about what you CAN pack rather than what you WANT to pack. Don’t expect to bring your killer heels on a business trip where you will be walking several blocks between meetings.

Step Two: Organize by Outfit | Day | Type

Everyone has their own organizational style. Personally I mix and match on vacation, so I organize by type with outfits in mind. I recommend you figure out how you see things.

Step Three: Profit

Now that you are prepared, you are less likely to

a) forget anything

b) get a pulled muscle because your bag is too heavy


How do you pack for vacation?

Reflections from Camp Van Vac

September 8, 2012

Sitting and listening to the breeze, waves, loons, and laughter are just what I was hoping for when I reflecting on our trip to Ely. This past labor day weekend, Breon, Sen and I traveled to Ely to spend our long weekend “camping.”

I use the word camping lightly because we were in a cabin. Cabin 11 to be exact! A very very rustic cabin. No sink, no bathroom, concrete floors, etc. you can see just how rustic it was by watching the video.


Upon our arrival, I was so excited to see how gorgeous the view was from the cabin. Through the windows, there was a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Burntside. It was just breathtaking.

We grabbed a canoe and tested our abilities, we felt comfortable…more on that later.


A long awaited trip to Pebble spa on Sunday morning. Breon bought me a spa package that included foot soak, sinus and head massage, and 60-minute massage. What an awesome boyfriend…I mean come on! :)

We spent some more time in Ely before heading back to camp to go fishing/canoeing.

After getting Sen comfortable in the canoe, we put the rest of the gear into the canoe. We heard a few warnings from folks leaving.

“Oh, its windy out there. I turned around!”

“You two will have a time of it getting back.”

But we ventured out anyways. We crossed the big lake with ease…it wasn’t until we came to a cove the we realized there was some serious “windage”.

We tried to keep the nose in the waves but it was just one second of unbalance and we went in. The canoe, sen, and us in the water. After finding that we were all okay, we pulled the canoe onto a random dock and waited.

We were a little nervous heading back. But with good communication, we made it back just fine. But we didn’t fish.


A fun and relaxing day with a walk, swimming, drive up echo trail, and a mini hike in the boundary waters. During the mini-hike we found a really cool mushroom that we were both enthralled over. I think Breon’s photo is the best (seen below)! After a nap, Breon made delicious chicken, potatoes and soup.

(c) Breon Nagy 2012


Having to leave Tuesday, we spent the morning getting ready. Then we ate at the Taste of Ely. Delicious breakfast in our tummy we went to the Wolf Center. Alas, those silly wolves were napping or so I believe in my mind. Next time, we’ll see ’em!

It was a wonderful trip and just what I needed. I love being near the water and being a couple of steps from it made the trip that much better. Reading, listening, looking, swimming, canoeing (tipping), laughing, relaxing, warming by the fire, and all I hoped. Camp Van Vac…we’ll be back.

6 Non-Touristy Things to do in Chicago

September 7, 2012

One of the reasons I love to travel is that you can see how other cultures live. And while Chicago is a lot like Minneapolis, it’s got its own uniqueness. After doing some research, I looked for some fun “non-touristy” things to do while I am in Chicago next weekend for the Anytime Fitness Annual Conference. Here is what I found:

Grab a Movie in the Park

During the summer months in Chicago, they host a Movie in the Park nights all over the city! If you are planning a trip soon, they are playing movies through October! Check out their schedule here. According to the website, admission is free, and all movies begin at dusk weather permitting. A free movie date in Chicago…Heck yeah!

Visit the Hideout for Awesome Live Shows

The Hideout is a small live music club that hosts everything from music and theater performances. They also host a killer block party every September! Yelp users speak highly of the place, saying:

“This is the quintessential Chicago bar. If you have friends coming in from out of town and you want to show them a real slice of Chicago away from tourism, this is the bar. I have been going there for years and never had a bad time there.”

The beer is cheap (yet drinkable), the music is good, and it makes you feel at home.

Grab a Morning Workout on North Avenue Beach

Rent a kayak, go beach running, or just sun and swim at this local beach. With plenty of activities available, you won’t get bored here. Spring and fall days can be just as inviting, especially if you like to run (or have a dog or kids that do), want to fly a kite, or go for a bike ride.

Eat Delicious Grub at Heaven on Seven

Located on the seventh floor of the Garland Building, this Heaven on Seven is the original. It’s famous for its spicy Cajun-Creole menu, specializing in breakfast and lunch. It only serves dinner once a month, so you must consider the Michigan Avenue location for an evening meal.

Walk Michigan Ave

Okay so this is a little touristy, but I just love Michigan Ave’s shopping, people watching, and overall appeal. Some of my favorite stores to go to (or glance into) are: Marc Jacobs, NikeTOWN, and Chanel (that is the peer in one because I can’t afford much there). According to Frommers,

The Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St. (close to Michigan Ave), looks like something out of an English country village, with a Gothic stone exterior and a peaceful, flower-filled courtyard.

Visit the Farmers Market

Another fun and free thing to do is visit the farmers markets in places you travel, it’s one of my personal favorites! Downtown travelers are now able to shop for fresh produce and farm products every weekday, rain or shine, at the Farmstand Farmers Market located at 66 E. Randolph St. Open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 3 pm, the new market will offer fresh fruits and vegetables recently picked on nearby farms.

Resources: Chicago
Explore Chicago

photo credit: CJ Schmit via photo pin cc