Tips on Taking Dogs to the Beach

20150418_174354Puppies Looking Out Window

It was always my dream to take my dogs to the beach and watch them play on the shore. I wanted them to sit beside me after hours of running through the sand, while we took in the sunset and the sound of gently crashing waves. My first trip to the beach did not go this way at all.

I took my dogs to San Diego with me when I decided to visit the Whaley House. I had learned that San Diego had many dog friendly beaches, unlike my experiences further north in Venice/Santa Monica. I settled on taking them to the Original Dog Beach, since it was the closest to my hotel. We arrived at the beach just at sunset, and I thought everything was going to be cool. It wasn’t. That’s not to say it was terrible experience; it was just more stressful than it needed to be. If I had planned better, it would have been more enjoyable for me and my dogs.


Taking a dog anywhere can be a lot like taking a child anywhere. Both can be difficult to get in the car, and both can be difficult to manage once in the car. In both instances, you have a better chance of success if you don’t freak out. Not only that, dogs can pick up on our emotions and respond accordingly. If you keep your wits about you, you have a better chance at directing your dog. Before you leave, keep in mind that you’re going somewhere calm and fun. There’s no set time when you have to arrive or when you have to leave, so take your time and remember to take a deep breath.

Take them to the car first.

Dogs can get excitable when they know they’re going somewhere. If your dog gets wild right before you go on a car ride, get them in the car first. I tried to leave with them and my bags all at once, and I ended up forgetting the bag with their treats in it. To make up for it, we had to make an impromptu stop at Walgreens. If you take your dogs to the car first, that will allow you the few extra seconds to ensure you have what you need.

Make sure they poop before you leave.

If you don’t, you run the risk of them pooping as soon as you arrive. This isn’t quite as bad if you are with another person, and you didn’t forget your dog bag. That said, it is difficult enough to walk through sand by yourself, back and forth to get tissue and to pick it up, then proceed to your spot on the sand.

Introduce them to the water slowly.

The waves can be rather intimidating to a dog, especially the smaller ones.  Mine were curious initially with the wet sand and algae, but once the tide rolled in they ran off in a hurry.

Be mindful of leash laws.

The Original Dog Beach was the first leash-free beach, but some beaches do have leash requirements so keep that in mind before you travel. Some beaches have certain areas where dogs are allowed off-leash as well.

Have fun.

Let them explore along the shoreline, play with them, let them run and kick up sand. Bringing your dog to the beach is meant to be fun for both of you; if you focus on that and not on what you forgot or what’s gone wrong, everything else will fall into place.

Sometimes, taking just one dog to the beach can be stressful. Taking multiple dogs to the beach can be especially stressful.  But, if you plan ahead and take your time, it can be a lot of fun for the entire family.



Tips on Dressing for Humidity



Packing is one of the least fun things about going on vacation. You want to bring enough but not too much, while leaving enough room for any souvenirs or trinkets you may find along the way. I usually leave packing until a day or two before I’m due to depart, and I check the weather forecast up to a week before I leave. My primary concern when I travel is packing weather-appropriate clothing, since I’ve caught myself too many times without the proper coat, or without any umbrella. Since I come from a hot, arid climate it’s a little difficult for me to plan for snow or humidity. After many instances of trial and error, I’ve finally learned a few helpful hints to manage in clammy environments.

  1. Loose fabric. You don’t want to wear anything that is too tight in humid climates. If it clings to your skin, it will cause you to sweat more. Dresses are a great option for spring and summer; if you’re traveling during colder months, layering loose fabric is the way to go.
  2. Cotton is your best friend in tropical climates. Cotton isn’t a form-fitting fabric, and the material allows for sweat to absorb quickly. Linen and rayon are also good options for this kind of weather.
  3. Bring an umbrella if rain is in the forecast. You may not need it in the end, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Bring sandals whenever possible. Sandals and flip-flops aren’t always practical in humid climates, but if you can get away with them – go for it. They will not only keep your feet from sweating, but they take up less room in your suitcase. Win-win. If it’s too cold for flip-flops or sandals, stick to lightweight, comfortable shoes.
  5. Sports bras. When I go on vacation, I prefer to pack sports bras over regular bras. Underwire and humidity is a recipe for itching and general discomfort, and when I’m on vacation I’d like to avoid that as much as possible. This isn’t practical for every outfit or occasion obviously, so I would bring a nice one along just in case.
  6. Always bring extra socks and underwear. I would recommend bringing twice the number of socks and underwear for the days you will be gone. Walking around in wet socks may be at-home remedy for colds, but when you’re on vacation it can be uncomfortable and unsanitary. Not only that, since they take up so little room in a suitcase, you can get away with bringing extra without worrying about packing space.


While it’s one of the least-fun things about going on vacation, packing is pivotal to traveling. If you do it right, you can go on your adventures with (relatively) little worry. If you don’t, you can end up spending money you didn’t plan on to overcompensate. With a little preparation and the tips above, you can organize your vacation wardrobe appropriately.

If you have any other suggestions on packing for humid weather, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Vacation Guilt?

I’m not sure why, but I always get nervous before going on vacation. I love to get on planes and go on adventures, but somehow I always turn into a nervous wreck in the days before I leave. Of course some of it is pure excitement over going somewhere new, but every time I feel happy about the impending adventure ahead, anxiety inevitably follows.

A lot of this has to do with the prospect of getting from A to B, but more than that – I think I feel guilty for leaving my dogs behind. I already feel like I don’t spend enough time with them, so when I decide to venture out for a few days (without them) I feel like I’m abandoning them.

I did a lot of research in how to combat these guilty feelings before my last trip to New Orleans. For some reason, this time it was more difficult to leave them behind (it was just one day longer than my last trip, but it felt like two weeks longer). I hired a dog sitter to come check on them in the evening, and my roommate agreed to check on them in the mornings. I made sure to bring them souvenirs when I brought very little back for my human family members. Still, I couldn’t shake the guilty feeling no matter what I did.

Have you ever felt guilty before going on vacation? I thought it was just me at first but after a couple Google searches I realized that I am not the only one. What was your reason(s) for feeling guilty? What did you do to combat those feelings? How did it affect your time away?

Chicago Travel: Five Must See Exhibits of The Field Museum

In a city full of museums, art galleries and skyscrapers, The Field Museum stands out as one of Chicago’s top tourist attractions. Founded in 1893 as the Colombian Museum of Chicago, The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It is also the home to the most complete T. Rex ever found. With roughly 1.39 million visitors last year alone, the Field Museum has proven time and time again to be popular with tourists of all ages.

The Field Museum continues to be at the forefront of scientific education for all ages with four different learning centers dedicated to conservation and research. Visitors to the Field Museum can spend an entire day combing through its collections, with exhibits dedicated to world cultures, endangered animals, and fossils. Below are five of the resident highlights of the Field Museum that every visitor should see:

  1. SUE the T. Rex. Sue is the most popular attraction at The Field Museum. Her massive frame greets you as soon as you step into the lobby, cementing her place as the crown jewel of The Field Museum. Her head is on the second floor in a glass case; weighing in at over 600 pounds, it’s far too heavy to be with the rest of her fossil. She has been on display since 2000, and since then has drawn over 16 million visitors.
  2. Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egypt collection is set up inside a replica of an Egyptian tomb. The tomb spans all three stories of the museum and is full of hieroglyphs, sarcophagi, and even a Book of the Dead. The Egyptian marketplace exhibit details what daily life in Ancient Egypt was like. You can even peer inside the remnants of an actual sarcophagus. The museum shows a companion film to the exhibit, but you don’t have to see the film to enjoy the collection.
  3. Tsavo Lions. The Tsavo Lions may not be as well-known as SUE, but theirs is a story draped in both blood and infamy. The Tsavo Lions were famous at one time; the pair terrorized a Kenyan railroad camp for over ninth months in the late 19th century. People claimed the lions ate over 130 people at the time but scientific testing estimates the final number was closer to 35. Their skins and skulls were donated in the 1920s by Lt. Col. John Patterson, the British Army officer who killed them and ended the threat.
  4. The Mesoamerican and Central American Collections. These exhibits contain thousands of pieces of pottery, weapons, statues and textiles that highlight the rich and dramatic history of the Americas. One thing that stands out about these collections is the sheer size of many of the pieces; there’s a replica of an Aztec calendar stone on display that takes up an entire wall, and wood carvings that stand from floor to ceiling. Most of the items are in cases, but even through the glass you can see the detail in the works and the excellent care each piece receives.
  5. The Fossil Collections. The fossil collection at the Field Museum is nothing short of awe-inspiring. From dinosaurs to modern species, the fossil collection is one of the most impressive collections of the entire museum. The dinosaurs are the highlight of the fossil collection, with an entire room dedicated to the extinct predators and herbivores of yore. If you’ve never seen a dinosaur fossil up close, this is an experience that can’t be passed up.



My Experience at Venice Beach


Venice Beach was one of those places I just had to go to. But every time I went out to Los Angeles, I Googled how long it would take to drive to Venice and it always seemed to be a little too far for the amount of time I had available. Like San Francisco and Seattle, it seemed to call out to me from a very young age. It was a city full of hippies and creative types, according to my parents and everyone I knew that had been there. Two summers ago, I was finally ended up on the famous Venice Boardwalk for the first time. And it was magical.


Go to Venice early in the morning or late in the afternoon


Venice Beach is next door to another iconic California tourist spot – the Santa Monica pier. If you’re walking along the boardwalk, you can see the famous ferris wheel in the distance. My friend and I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and stop at both before we hit the road for home. Because we went later in the day, parking wasn’t an issue. If you decided to visit Venice in the summer (or any beach, really) I recommend going either first thing in the morning or close to sunset. I employed this tactic in Venice and San Diego, and it worked like a charm.

Pets Aren’t Allowed on Venice Beach


We tried to walk on the sand with my dogs, but we were quickly guided back to the boardwalk by lifeguards on duty. Venice Beach does not allow dogs on the sand, but Santa Monica does. You can, however, walk with your pets along the shore on Santa Monica Beach. While we were on the Venice side, we strolled up and down the boardwalk, past the (actual) freakshow, marijuana tents, dancers, artists and characters that make Venice so famous. We even got to witness a few beach goers try their hands at the rings, poles and ropes that make up the infamous Muscle Beach.

Tips aren’t required but appreciated


If you decide to venture down the boardwalk, keep plenty of cash on you. You never know what treasures you’ll find, and it’s the easiest way to do business with the artists. Plus, you’ll want to have tip money if you find a character or performer you’d like to take photos with. During our visit, I met a man who, for a penny, handed me a sticker with the words “Who is John Scott?” printed on the front. I was so curious, I went and Googled him. He’s also known as “L.A.’s Oldest Vandal”.

Venice Beach is a must-see if you’re in the Los Angeles Area. If you’re looking for a unique beach experience, Venice is guaranteed to give that to you. You never know what may happen on Venice Beach, but you know that whatever it is, it’s going to be interesting.

Food Review: Duke’s Huntington Beach


dukesEvery time I go to California, I love stopping in at Duke’s. It’s been a family tradition for the last fifteen years or so, ever since my uncle and aunt discovered the original location in Hawaii. Duke’s has six locations throughout Hawaii and California, all located on or near the water.

Duke’s is easy to spot; coming down Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll see it right on the beach. There’s a downstairs bar area meant for those enjoying the beach, and an upstairs/outside dining area for more formal guests. The downstairs menu is a condensed version of the dinner menu, and thankfully both menus have the restaurant’s signature dessert – Hula Pie.

If you eat nothing else at Duke’s, get the hula pie. It’s so good, my uncle will send us pictures of him eating it. The Hula Pie is, by itself, worth an entire trip to the beach. It’s made with macadamia nut ice cream, which is impossible to find in most parts of the country, and a chocolate cookie crust. The fudge and the whipped cream toppings are optional, but…really, they’re not. We typically like to start the meal off with it, mostly to make sure we have the room in our bellies for it.

Duke’s also makes some killer fish and meat dishes. I am personally not a big fish-eater, but my cousins and aunt love their salmon and ahi. The sirloin to me is one of the most juicy I’ve had, and the pineapple garnishes are like the cherry on top. I wouldn’t recommend the wraps though; the last time I went the server told me they are pre-wrapped and they simply warm them up. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d rather have a steaming hot sirloin than pre-made. If I want pre-made, I’ll go to McDonald’s. J

If you’re going for a more formal eating experience, I highly recommend making a reservation. Since it’s located right on the beach, it has a tendency to stay busy. If you decide to go after a long day in the water and on the sand, I would say that’s not necessary. And if you’re there at the right time of day, just as the sun is about to set over the water, opt for outside seating. It makes for one of the dreamiest sunsets you can experience.



Travel Questions No. 8 – Do you ever travel (for fun) during the holidays?

Travel Plans 2017 – Update

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this year to be over with. This hasn’t been a terrible year overall, but it was definitely one of those years where I felt like everything was “one step forward, two steps back”. Now with 2016 coming to a close, I’m looking to the new year with a fresh set of eyes and a cup full of hope. Among other goals, I want to make it to at least two places on my bucket list: New Orleans and Big Sur.

New Orleans

I will be going to New Orleans for the first time in February. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am; this has been a dream that I’ve had for years, off and on, and now it’s finally going to happen. I am staying in the French Quarter, and I am hoping that I will get to spend some time on Bourbon Street and Jackson Square. Among other things, here’s just a few things I think I’d like to do:

  1. Eat: beignets, etoufee, gumbo, and po’boys
  2. Visit a plantation
  3. Take a haunted tour
  4. Shopping (of course)
  5. Visit the WW2 Museum

This list isn’t comprehensive, of course, or binding. I’m a big believer in going where the wind takes you or, going wherever time allows. J

Big Sur

I am hoping I can get to Big Sur for my birthday next year. I’m hitting the 3-0 milestone, and I have never seen a real-life waterfall. I haven’t looked into too many details on Big Sur yet, so this is still in the idea stage. My biggest reason for wanting to visit Big Sur, besides the waterfalls, is the rest of the heavenly, breathtaking scenery. If I can’t make it to Big Sur, my back-up plan is Sequoia National Park. I’ve never seen redwoods before. I need to see redwoods. J