Posts filed under consults + itineraries

Get Out of Town | Greenwich

Bus. Walk. Train. Repeat. I wish I had a little trail that I could track of all the places I’ve been in this city just to see how much of it I have covered. While I have no doubt that I’d have some impressive coverage of the city of London over the past 7.5 years leading groups, I get a certain kick from traveling off the beating path. And when you’re traveling on the Thames, it’s definitely not the traditional way to get around town.

If you wander down to Big Ben, you can hop on a Thames Clipper and head down the river to Greenwich. While it’s a tiny village feel, it still has tube access, London city buses and a view of the skyline in the distance. It’s very much part of London… just kinda on the outskirts. I got back tonight from a great day there, and I figured I’d share what our itinerary of the day so that you can copy it sometimes when you’re itching to get out of the city. Or you know, almost out of it. 


GREENWICH 

08:45 | Meet at Westminster Pier to get tickets for Thames Clipper
*Just outside Westminster tube station, Caffe Nero just there so you can buy a coffee before you go!

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09:14 | Depart for Greenwich via the Thames Clipper
*Check the Thames Clipper website for updated timetable information

10:00 | Approximate arrival time to Greenwich

10:15 | Visit the Cutty Sark Tea Clipper
*Buy tickets on arrival. Get the combo ticket for the Cutty Sark + Royal Observatory

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11:30 | Depart Cutty Sark. Wander up to Royal Observatory. Stand on the Prime Meridian!
*Give yourself a bit longer to walk up here than expected. That hill takes some time to wander up!

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12:30 | Have lunch in town
*The Greenwich Market is a favourite place because of the endless food stalls and cheap eats, but if you’re feeling up for a real British treat, try the iconic Goddards for British pies, mash & pies as a really affordable price.

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13:30 | Head to the Maritime Museum (free!) or wander through the shops. Don’t miss Joli’s! This is a great vintage shop with cool art pieces, furniture and clothing.. and the prices are perfectly reasonable. 

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15:00 | Walk to the Fan Museum for afternoon tea. Go ahead and pre-book your table, and make sure that you’re coming on a day when they serve tea. You'll be in a gorgeous setting enjoying one of London’s cheapest afternoon teas!

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16:30 | Walk back to Thames Clipper and head back to London!


Have a great time in Greenwich. What am I saying? Of course, you will. It’s gorgeous in the fall, and that view of London from the Royal Observatory! Ahhhh, you’re gonna love it.


Find more of our favourite spots in England here, or jump along on some of our days on my Youtube channel!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Tuscany Day Trip | Montepulciano

I convinced Tyler and our friends, Geraldine and Grant, to go to Montepulciano for the day while we were lounging around the villa one day. I had gone years ago and was itching to show them what a cute town it was. After they relented to my less-than-subtle nudges, we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half. When we got there, I soon realized- I had actually been to Montelcino and had never been to Montepulciano before. Oops.

The good news for all of us was that this town was WAY better than I had expected to show them. Lucky for them (and me!), we got to spend a wonderful day exploring this charming town once run by the Medici family and still known today for its world class wines.

Plus, rolling the word "Montepulciano" off your tongue is one of the funnest things ever said.


MONTEPULCIANO
 

GETTING THERE

To drive from Florence (which is the best way, since it's really complex to reach otherwise), you'll take an easy 90 drive south, past Siena. Park in one of the paid lots and wander in through one of the various city gates. We parked in lot #1 and it was a great starting point.

You can walk straight from the parking lot and into town. From there, it was a windy and colorful stroll up through into the city center. Along the way, expect fruit stalls, tiny artists' shops and touristy stops full of leather purses and ceramic goodies.

 

WHAT TO DO

This isn't going to be a day-trip that has a big bullet-point list that comes with it. Your main objectives for the day are to relax, catch some great views from the endless alleyways and vistas, and eat/drink well along the way.

You can make it up to the Piazza Grande (admittedly, a tiresome endeavor with a baby stroller) and enjoy the piazza life from there. Grab a cup of (delicious artisan!) gelato from the tiny cafe right in the square for a real treat. Or if you're feeling more energetic, you cna pay €4 to climb up to the top of the Terrazza del Palazzo Comunale for sweeping views of the Tuscan hills surrounding you.

 

WHAT TO EAT

If wine is your game, then you've got countless vineyards surrounding the town you can visit as this is the home of the famous vino nobile. The larger vineyards offer amazing lunches in gorgeous settings... along with pricetags that pair well with such an opulent experience. Some of the most famous vineyards in the Montepulciano area are Avignonesi and Contucci Cantine.

 

C’era Una Volta is a restaurant that sits outside the historic city walls. If you don’t have a car, it’s not for you, but if you do have a car (and especially if you ha e kids!), go here. It looks non-descript from the road- but as you walk up, a tiny little restaurant will open up. Opt for a table in the outdoors, if it’s nice. If you have kids, they’re welcome to play in the tiny little kid barn- complete with a play pen stocked with toys! Dream scene. The food is delicious- the homemade eggplant parmigiana is the best started you’ll have for a while. Don’t miss the chance to order the kid the “Peppa Pig” pizza- complete with pointy ears, olive eyes and a prosciutto nose.

 

Where to Stay

Villa Nobile is a private house- actually, a family friend's house that we rented. However, its location in Montepulciano and its amenities (Hello infinity pool overlooking Tuscan hillside!) make it a relaxing home during your stay in Tuscany. The owners will help coordinate meals, cooking classes, wine tasting and a cleaner, but to be honest, you’ll feel just as spoiled simply having dinner on the patio with its sprawling views. If you go, make sure you look through their list of local recommendations for helpful local suggestions.


Tuscany is a great place to take day trips- really for any type of traveler. If you're young and looking to explore- these small, friendly towns are nearly fail proof adventures. If you're a couple looking for some romantic spots and lonely cafes, these towns offer it. If you're a family craving some culture, but feel exhausted by big cities- small towns like Montepulciano are a great middle ground. (Plus so many of the streets are pedestrian only, you don't have to worry about cars. Let those kids run free!)


 

Find more of my Italy posts here and my series on Tuscan day trips here.

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy by grant schol

 

Pack Your Bags | Iceland's Golden Circle

If you haven't seen by now on Instagram, we are in Iceland. We've been here for a week now and have a little under a week left. We've been exploring non-stop. My head is buzzing with so many thoughts: logistical (do we have the food allowance sorted? i need to tell the students what time we leave in the morning!), parental (i need to buy more snacks for the bus. remember to get Harrison's shoe out from under the seat.), tourist (whoa - Iceland is exploding with people. things change quick when there is a tourist boom!) and personal (I realllllly want to buy a new wool sweater. and some OmNom chocolate).

In the midst of such chaos, I thought it might be good if I jotted down a classic day-trip from Reyjkavik for you. This is really THE day-trip that most people make. It's called the "Golden Circle" and features three main sites: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir & Gulfoss. Expect to spend about 4.5-5 hours in the car of driving plus the time you're going to spend visiting each of the sites. Plan to give this outing a full day of your time in Iceland, and you'll definitely want to have your own car to get you from place to place as there is no public transport.

While those are the three main anchors of the Golden Circle with a few "tier two" options you can add-in, I'm adding in a few extras of my own that I think really make the day all the better.

 


ICELAND'S GOLDEN CIRCLE DAY TRIP

 

THINGVELLIR

 

This is the first stop you'll make on the Golden Circle is at Thingvellir National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is worth visiting for a few reasons.

1. It is the meeting plate of the North American and Europe/Asia tectonic plates. In between the two plates there is an enormous rift valley that offers a stunning view of how these two pieces of the world fit together.

2. It is the site of the first parliament in Iceland was held here, which earns it a place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 930AD, Althingi was held here at Thingvellir. There

3. You can scuba dive between the two plates in a fissure. Not only does this just sound amazingly cool- a dive between two tectonic plates!- but also, the water is stunningly clear. Don't expect to see loads of fish and sea life, but a chilly dip down into a gorgeous piece of the world.

 

SKAHOLT

In between Thingvellir and lunch, we had an hour of time to kill. We headed to Skaholt- a tiny stop that was about 20 minutes away from lunch. There we visited the tiny country church of Skaholt. A modern-ish church that is bright and airy inside. While the church is quaint and sweet to see, the visit is made more worthwhile to a visit downstairs where you can see the sarcophogas of a Bishop from the 1500's. Also, outside the church is a replica of an older Icelandic church- complete with grass and flowers growing on the roof.

 

FRIDHEIMAR

When the idea of stopping in a greenhouse for lunch was suggested, I was a bit.... ho hum at the thought. However, I'm glad I was convinced to go because we had such a great time. When you visit Fridheimar, you can get an introduction to how this small family-run greenhouse manages to sustain year-round growth of such high-quality tomatoes. But the fun doesn't stop there.... eat lunch at the restaurant for the full experience! For the basic version (what we did), eat the homemade tomato soup and fresh baked bread. Eat as much as you like of both- alongside fresh butter, creme fraiche and cucumber salsa.... oh, and fresh basil you can clip right off the potted plant at your table. (Book a table in advance so you don't have to wait!)

If you have time to visit their stables, it is also really fun. They did a show for us where they showed us all the five gaits of the Icelandic horse and then had tea & coffee for us in the stables afterwards. We drank coffee in the sunny September light and met the stars of the shows in their stables. It was casual and perfect.

Find out about booking a table, a horse show and all the rest on their site here.

 

Geysir

From Thingvellir, you'll want to continue on to Geysir. This is where we, in English, get the term geyser. It's a hot spring that, for years, was spitting out water ever few minutes. The classic Great Geysir has slowed down in recent years, but fortunately for the investors who built a massive and luxe visitor's center- the neighbor Strokkur Geysir is still going strong.  Go by and watch it blow hot water into the air, and then duck into the visitor's center for some coffee and a kleiner (homemade Icelandic donut). The gift shop is massive and full of great things, but notoriously more expensive than the same shop's offerings in Reykjavik- consider it a tourist tax?

 

GULFOSS

This waterfall, which translates from "Golden Falls" for the way the sunlight hits it in the summer evenings, is a great stop if you can only make it out of town for one waterfall. It's massive and easily accesible, and the various spots to view the enormous waterfalls are varied around the park, so you can migrate from far-off vantage points all the way up to the side of it where water will mist you will cold drops.

 

The scene is stunning- complete with rainbows scattered throughout the area from the constant mist and, with full admission, a considerable amount of fellow tourists. (But for good reason, you'll have a great time!)

 

HESTHEIMAR

After you've finished with the main attractions, head to Hestheimar for an evening ride on an Icelandic Horse. This small, family-run stable offers gorgeous trail rides throughout the day. (Fortunately for people like me, they work with people of all skill levels!)

 

We always spend the night out there and get dinner before the ride. It's always served in their cozy kitchen and is homemade and hearty. Think: homemade lasagna or roasted meats served hot bread from the oven and followed by warm apple cake and mugs of coffee. There are cabins available for rent, if you really want the full experience. (And by full, I of course mean, a misty morning in the Icelandic country and a hot breakfast of eggs and homemade pancakes covered in Nutella and powdered sugar.

 

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Looking for more tips and guides for Iceland? Check out my Iceland travel guide for all our favorite tops or my popular "Perfect Iceland Itinerary."



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

Pack Your Bags: The Perfect Normandy Itinerary

Over the weekend, we went with my students to Normandy. What started as a regular group trip evolved into an epic getaway when my friend, Stacy, hooked us up with a stay in the Chateau de Servigny. As you may have imagined, my students heads nearly fell off when we rolled up and they saw our accommodations for the weekend. 

Luckily, the fun didn't stop there. We had a day in Bayeaux- eating at our favorite spot and seeing the famous tapestry, touring the D-Day beaches, visiting Mont St. Michel in all of its Easter Sunday madness, frolicking through the port side town of Honfleur and wandering through Monet's garden in Giverny.

Normandy isn't the easiest place to get to from Paris, but I'm going to make it a little easierby doing a suggested itinerary for a few days there. In exchange, you have to indulge me and see a slew of pictures from our weekend away. If it's any consolation, most were taken by Stacy (who just happens to be an amazing photographer) and they are really pretty.

 

THE PERFECT NORMANDY ITINERARY

 

DAY ONE | DEPART FOR NORMANDY

You have a few options to get to Normandy- either rent a car at Hertz in Gare du Nord or train from Paris to Caen. From there, rent a car and drive from there.

Head to Bayeux (approximately 20 minutes from Caen).

Lunch at La Moulin de Galette (get the Galette l'Aure - but sub out the chicken for ham. It's incredible.)

Spend the rest of the day enjoying the tiny town of Bayeux: visit the Bayeux Tapestry, explore the town, or wandering through the town's stunning cathedral.

Stay at the Hotel Churchill, Reine Mathilde or the pricier (but equally central), Villa Lara Hotel.

 

DAY TWO | D-DAY BEACHES

Wake up. Have breakfast in Bayeux.

Explore Utah Beach. 

Drive to St-Mere-Eglise. Explore the Paratroopers Museum there. See the "paratrooper" hanging in memory of the US soldier who survived German fire by playing dead as he hung, stuck on the village's church steeple, during the chaos of D-Day. Eat lunch. Visit the tasty bakery in town.

Drive to La Pointe du Hoc. Visit the stunning place dotted with craters from explosions and explore German armories. 

Visit Omaha Beach & The American Cemetery above the beach.

Return to Bayeux. Relax for the evening in town.

 

DAY THREE | MONT ST MICHEL & VILLEDIEU-LES-POÊLES

Breakfast in Bayeux- at the hotel or from one of the nearby local cafes.

Depart for Mont St. Michel. (If you're not up for driving. Hotel Churchill offers a daily shuttle from their hotel to Mont St. Michel at an affordable rate!) The drive is two hours from Bayeux, and you'll have to either take the shuttle bus from the parking lot or walk 30 minutes to the famous rocky village.

Explore Mont St. Michel. Eat in town, do some souvenir shopping, explore the Abbey on top of the town, and enjoy the views offered from the top. You'll want about 2.5 hours to explore the town after you reach the base of it.

Depart Mont St. Michel. If you leave early enough, you can stop for lunch in Villedieu Les Poeêles. This tiny town is not only really cute with lots of cafes, shops and bakeries, but it also is the home to Mauviel copper cookware- the fancy kind that you can buy for 3x the cost in Williams-Sonoma.

Drive on to Honfleur, spend the evening eating in one of the endless restaurants dotted around the tiny seaside town.

 

DAY FOUR | HONFLEUR, GIVERNY & RETURN TO PARIS

Wake up in Honfleur. Shop around the town. Eat lunch in a cafe around the main port in the sunshine. Wander through the little streets. Visit Saint Catherine's Cathedral to see the naval-esque architecture of the fishing town.

Depart Honfleur for Giverny. Wander through Monet's family home, manicured gardens and legendary water garden. 

Drive back to Paris in time for dinner and an evening settling back into the City of Lights.

 

 

So there you have it- your Normandy getaway all planned out. Check out more travel advice in my France Travel Guide or contact me for a personalized consult for your vacation.



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy by L'Amour de Paris

 

 

Get Out of Town | Windsor, UK

Windsor is a place that people often have on their "maybe/should we?" list when they visit England. It's known for Windsor Castle and to be honest- I used to tell people that it was just as easy to stay in London and get your fix of royal residences here.

But a few years ago, I spent a really charming day in Windsor that changed my perspective on making the trek to the tiny town. Now when I'm asked if it is worth going- I almost always will say "Yes." I think it's a great stop, if you have the time to spare and you want to get a different feel from London. Plus, the train ride is only 26 minutes from Paddington Station, so it is super simple to do.

Here's what you want to know...

 

GETTING THERE

Take the train from Paddington Station to Windsor + Eton Central. (You can buy your tickets at the station on the day, or book the day before and save around £3 per ticket through the Trainline.) Either way, it's affordable (£13.90 at the station for a round-trip ticket, or £10 online) and shouldn't be sold out, as trains run about every 20 minutes.

Buy an "open return" ticket. This gives you a round trip ("return") ticket with the flexibility to hop on any train when you are ready to leave ("open"). These are available for travel on trains after 9:30am and will be significantly cheaper.

You'll make a connection at Slough to continue on to Windsor. This is easy- and just requires you walking to another platform. (Don't worry- it is all well marked and easy to find.) From there, hop the tiny train that will chug you over into Windsor + Eton Central. It takes about 5 minutes from Slough.

Once you arrive at the Windsor + Eton Central station, you'll be in a cute little station full of eateries and shops. The castle is just out the end of it. It couldn't be easier to find.

 

WHAT TO DO

Well, obviously, you'll want to see Windsor Castle. It's worth seeing and there really is a lot to look at there. The highlights are: The Royal Staterooms, Queen Mary's dollhouse and St. George's Chapel, which houses many of the monarchs you'll recognize such as the Queen Mother and Henry VIII. If you're dying to see the changing of guard during your time in England, they also do that here. You can find more information on times and dates here.

Plan to give yourself around 2.5-3 hours to explore the property. You can buy your tickets on arrival if it's during the slower season, but I'd advise booking ahead on the official site so that you can skip the lines and just go straight in. (It's easy, I promise. You can collect them there, too.)

 

GETTING THE FULL EXPERIENCE

The other great thing about going to Windsor is that the town surrounding the castle is really adorable. With a sweet little high street and loads of cafes offering affordable meals and treats, it's a great way to get a feeling of "small town" English life without having to go too far to find it.

As the town is fairly small, I'd allow for an hour or two to wander the shops and poke around town. You'll be able to see what you want in that time frame... but it might be good to carve in some extra time for eating, too.

 

 

TEA WITH THE QUEEN

What American doesn't love to joke about having tea with the Queen? (Where did we all pick that one up, by the way? It seems to be standard issue when we receive our passports.) Sadly, Lizzie won't be offering you to have tea in the royal dining room, but that doesn't mean your day in Windsor should go without it.

There are loads of sweet tea shops that offer cream teas and afternoon teas, however, book a table on the patio of the The Sir Christopher Wren Hotel (a 3 minute walk from the castle!) and enjoy spending the afternoon in the sunshine overlooking the River Thames. The 17th century hotel, which is historically known to be a previous residence of the famous architect sits prominently under the castle on the water- just to the side of the bridge.

Not only is the setting serene, but the price of the afternoon tea there is hard to beat. (£18.50 per person for a full afternoon tea, as of our visit). You get the full experience of dainty sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, various sweets for dessert and your choice of tea or coffee to round out the moment. (Definitely don't eat lunch before! Opt for a late breakfast and go at 2pm when it tea begins service or you'll be too stuffed to enjoy it.) Or you can always opt for just having a cream tea for £8.75 per person, which gives you fresh scones with cream + jam plus unlimited coffee or tea.

Book your table in advance online by emailing wrens@sarova.com or by calling +44 1753  442 400.

 

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Honestly, you can do Windsor well within a day (and even less). You should easily be able to see all you want to see, have a great meal and wander the town with enough time to get you back to London for dinner. It's worth going, and easy to do with a friend, spouse, or the whole family. 

 

Please add in your favorites from Windsor below, too. We would love to hear what made your day there great!


 

FOR MORE OF MY FAVORITE DAY TRIPS IN ENGLAND, CHECK HERE.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Why Are Travel Consults Are A Thing.

I wrote a really long post about why I started doing travel consults and why I do them. But then I re-read it, and it was boring and the word "I" occurred way more than I liked. So I erased and thought I would try again with a bit more basic approach.


WHAT ARE TRAVEL CONSULTS?

I offer travel consults for people traveling to Europe. While I don't know everything about Europe, I do live in Europe and book/lead travel for small to large sized groups for a career. I'm experienced to discuss the subject and I'm passionate about making trips great. 

Most of my travel consult services are conducted via Skype or FaceTime. These are in 45 minute or 75 minutes sessions. Typically, clients will send me an outline of their trip before the call- dates, places they want to go, questions they have, and expectations in store. From there, we schedule a call and I do a little homework to get ready for the call.

On the call, we discuss their trip- tailored to what they need and want. We work through the logistics of traveling between destinations, we plan out which sites makes sense to see on which days, of course, work in all the extra details that make a trip magical- special spots you can't find in a guide book, memorable meals, taxi companies that are the cheapest, and the like. 

 

WHAT GOOD ARE THEY?

I won't pretend that you need me involved in your trip to have a great time in Europe. This place is amazing, and I would never say that I'm any part of that magic. However, Europe can also be a very frustrating place- especially for Americans who come from a very different background and have spent thousands of dollars to be here. I've learned that having someone that can both be your advocate while also serving as a liaison to a new culture is an invaluable asset. I love getting to be that person for my students and clients- the person that gets where they come from and also helps them see things they didn't know existed.

Plus, who else can help you skip lines at the Louvre and save you £15 on getting into Westminster Abbey? Only someone who has been to these sites so many times, they know how to get the best experience from a huge variety of sites. Local and industry tips like that make a huge difference when you only have a few days to see a city.

 

WHY DO I DO THEM?

It is really awesome to use the knowledge that I have gained both professionally and personally to help people experience Europe in the best possible way. To be able to tailor a trip for someone to make it fit their hopes is awesome. Plus, a lot of the information you'll get online is generic, touristy and ... fine. You'll have a great time if you stick to the run-of-the-mill places you hear about from friends who have spent a few days here or TripAdvisor. However, you'll really get to see a special side of Europe if we work together- you'll find all the small spots that make Europe really unique while getting to see the landmarks that made it famous. 

And... let's be honest: I was getting worn out from writing so many emails to random friends and family of readers that were heading this way. It took hours of my life and I really had no connection to them at all. Now I can spend more time on less people. And that's why I've priced the consults the way I did- low enough where anyone can afford them... but also at a point where only people who are serious will book.

 


 

My March schedule is nearly FULL as people get ready for spring and summer travel, but there are still a few slots available for end of March and April. Please, contact me sooner rather than later! Some of the things you'll want to do when in Europe need to be booked sooner rather than later- so don't wait. Seriously, you know the phrase "A stitch in time saves nine?" Well, this is similar... just more like "A travel consult in time saves you fights and tears when you've showed up to Versailles with a four hour line."

 

Contact me at lauren@aspiringkennedy.com and we can see if a travel consult will be a good fit for your trip. I'll be honest if I think it would or wouldn't be- I'm not always fit for the trip you have planned.

 


 

 

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

6 Travel Resources You'll Love For Europe

While January brings a lot of things (diets! terrible weather! sickness! new starts!), for me it brings in endless travel consults. It's January and summer travel is on the horizon. It is so fun talking through trips with people- I love getting to help people choose from the endless options that await them and guiding them as they craft a trip that is tailored to them exactly. I love it! 

I thought it'd be helpful to send a few of the resources that I really love and use to you, in case you find yourself in the same boat. (And if you are planning a trip to Europe- well, lucky you!)


JAMES VILLAS: After our trip to France in December, I'm a huge fan of James Villas. The company offers great service, their "inventory" of properties gives you great options regardless of budget. Regardless of if you're looking for a luxury villa (like this one!) or a cost effective way to travel with a family or group- James Villas has so many good options. 

We loved our time in Provence, and I can't wait to try out other properties of theirs in the future.... I am currently dreaming of Greek sunshine and late dinners along the Spanish coast.

*Note: Property rentals through James Villas work on a weekly basis, so it's not a great fit if you're wanting to hop quickly through destinations. The value here comes from limited travel, enjoying cooking at the house and the cost savings of not having to pay for additional hotel rooms for friends/children traveling with you.

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GO EURO: This site is my go-to for checking the cheapest/best/fastest way to get between destinations in Europe. The main search tool has three tabs- flight, bus, and train. You can click through the tabs to see how expensive and how long each of the options will take. 

You can also be referred through to purchase the option you like best, even though they bring in options from every company out there. It's a great resource!

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LUXURY LINK: If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, Luxury Link offers fabulous packages and deals for the same price (or lower!) than you can typically find through other websites. We've got some really inexpensive deals through the site that have included nice perks upon our stay like massages, dining credits, and treats in your room upon arrival. 

Use this link and you'll get $50 off your first stay, and I'll get credit for our next stay. Maybe we can toast our travels poolside. :)

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RAILEUROPE: I love this site for a more extensive searches when planning rail travel. I also like it because, most of the time, you can pre purchase tickets... and since the other rail sites are in local language, this site will automatically be 100x less confusing. 

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TABLET HOTELS: Another favorite place of mine to find great hotels. These offer beautiful boutique hotels that fly a bit under the radar. Truly, it helps us find some great spots that we wouldn't have had been able to find otherwise. 

If you use this referral link, you'll save $25 on you first stay... I promise, you'll be hooked after your first Tablet booking.

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TRIP IT: This site is a great tool for adding and syncing all your travel plans. All you do is forward your email confirmation to "plans@tripit.com" from your email, and it will create a trip with all the details for you. Your plans will have maps, contact details and confirmation numbers all tagged to them.

Plus, their offsite mobile capability makes it easy peasy to use on the go... even without a data plan.



 

Hopefully, these get you off to a good start in planning your vacation.... and when you get stuck, email me for a travel consult. I'm in the zone these days. Let's see what we can do to help make your trip even better. Get more information on travel consults here.

 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on January 19, 2015 and filed under travel, consults + itineraries.

Pack Your Bags | The Perfect Iceland Itinerary


I'll be honest: When we first added Iceland as a trip in our semester, I was really overwhelmed at the idea. Basically, because I had NO previous knowledge about the country. Nor could I even begin to guess how I to pronounce them either. (So many letters. So few vowels!)  Luckily, my boss hooked us up with an amazing company to do the thinking for us, Iceland Private Tours. They created us an amazing itinerary for our time there and took all the thinking out of the equation for us.

Their work is my gain. And now yours, too, because I'm taking our three trips and merging them into an itinerary for five solid days in Iceland. 

 

DAY ONE | ARRIVAL 

Welcome to Iceland! Grab your bags and pick up your rent car to get this adventure started. Your trip to Iceland begins with a journey to the famous Golden Circle. First stop is Thingvellir National Park- the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930 AD and where the North American + Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Don't forget to stare into the gorgeously clear pools at the end of the park. They're amazing. Next, you're off to Geysir, where you'll see loads of geysirs and where we get our word English. Wander around the large site for a chance to watch Geysir spurt frequently, and grab lunch at the cafeteria inside. (It's decent food, promise!) From here, head on to Hestheimar Horse Farm for your first night in Iceland. Plan to get a sunset ride on their horses before dinner at the farm. They cook great food, and you'll never feel so homey. It's the perfect place to rest your jet-lagged body.

Recommended Hotel: Hestheimar Horse Farm (tiny cabins, horses, Free wifi, Endless homemade bread, and a great breakfast!) 


DAY TWO | THE SOUTH SHORE (SKOGAFOSS + GLACIER)

If you're going to head out to Iceland, you'll need to see some waterfalls. It's a mandatory stop, and Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss are two of my favorites. Both give you the chance to hike up and around to get some great views of the cascading falls. Afterwards, head to the Dryholaey peninsula for stunning views of the coast. (Not to miss!) After that, grab lunch at the little gas station in Vik and stop at the wool mill next door to pick up some souvenirs. When you've had your fill, head out to the amazing black sand beaches of Reynisdrangar, just outside of town. Famous for it's amazing colors, huge waves, basalt rock formations and huge lava formations in the surrounding water- it's not a stop to skip. You can also get some pictures in front of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, that famously erupted in 2010. They also have a small museum with a video that, if you have the time to spare, is nice to watch. 

Recommended hotel: Islandia Nupar Hotel (Restaurant on-site, free wifi, and a good spot for seeing the Northern Lights.)

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DAY THREE | THE SOUTH SHORE (SKAFTAFELL + JOKULSARLON)

Start out the day with a cruise around a Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon- full of icebergs that have broken off from the large glacier above. You'll take some of the most unreal photos of your life, and maybe even spot a seal or two swimming alongside you. (Boat rides should be booked in advance.) Afterwards, head to the gorgeous national park, Skaftafell, for an afternoon of hiking to some of the most photogenic spots in the country. Discover the hidden waterfall, Svartifoss, who's waters cascade down a backdrop of a black cliff.

Recommended hotel: Islandia Nupar Hotel (Restaurant on-site, free wifi, and a good spot for seeing the Northern Lights.)


 

DAY FOUR | REKYJAVIK 

After breakfast, make your way back to the capital city of Iceland, Reyjkavik. With two-thirds of the country living in this city, you'll notice that it's considerably more populated than all of the other places you have been. Drop off your goodies at the hotel, and head out for the day. Since the city isn't huge, you'll have plenty of time to see lots of the sites. If you're staying at Hotel Odinsve, you can start at the Hallgrimskirkja and work your way down the main street to the harbor. Check out my more extensive guide to Reykjavik for more ideas on how to spend your day. Have your hotel book you a table at Sjavargrilld ("Seafood Grill") for a special night to end your trip. It's so, so good. Fresh fish and amazingly cooked. It's a great date spot.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Odinsve (Located in Downtown Reykjavik near loads of good restaurants, free wifi, breakfast at the hotel or across the street at my favorite cafe- C is For Cookie.)


DAY FIVE | BLUE LAGOON + DEPARTURE

You can't come to Iceland and miss out on the famous Blue Lagoon. End your trip to Iceland with a relaxed morning, coffee and cake from C is For Cookie, and lounging in the healing waters of this geothermal wonder. It's amazingly. warm. Give yourself a couple of hours. (I'd max out at three, personally.) If you are up for a real treat, try to get a in-water relaxing massage. It won't have deep-tissue work, but it will be, without a doubt, one of the most relaxing things you've ever done. Booking in advance is mandatory. After that, you're only about 15 minutes from the airport. Take your car back, make sure you have all tax-free receipts over 5000ISK stamped by customs BEFORE going through security, and head on up to fly out. Safe travels!

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Looking for a itinerary for Iceland that is crafted just for you? I recommend working with Iceland Explore. They've done great things for us, and I have no doubt they'll get you set up with a dream vacation to Iceland, too! Also, I am happy to help with my (less-than-local, but still pretty good) knowledge. Contact lauren@aspiringkennedy.com for travel consult information.

 

Still want more? Tyler & I tried to make it easy on you but tagging all of our trip photos on Instagram with the same hashtag, #icelandknights. You'll find all our favorite sites geotagged there!

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy