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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Basics That Help Your Pack Lighter

Packing. It can be a four-letter word for some. What do you take? What do you leave at home? How big a suitcase do you need? While you want to be comfortable, unless you’re trekking around the Outback, you probably don’t want to be seen in zip-off pants and hiking boots. Dressing like a traveler will only put a big target on your back that screams “tourist”. It’s always nice not to be pegged as an easy mark the second you step off the plane. 


basic travel pieces

You can still be stylish while being relaxed. In fact, you can find things right in your closet to coordinate with other versatile items to pack in your carry-on. You can pack light and look great.


Bring your new favorite jeans


Look for denim with stretch that will be comfy to wear on the plane and walking around all day (and after you’ve eaten way too much five days in a row). This is not the time to skimp on a pair of jeans. Get a high-quality pair that will look amazing on you and last for a long time. James Jeans and Hudson make great stretch skinnies that hug your curves in the right way and pack easily without taking up as much room as your regular denim. You can wear them with anything and they can be dressed up with the right shoes and accessories. You’ll love them so much you’ll want to wear them all the time. And you will!


Basic black always works

Black pants are a fab travel staple. They don’t show dirt and you can find them in any fabric you like. Rayon is perfect, because it is lightweight and resists wrinkles. Linen is great option for tropical climates. You can even find your favorite khaki pants in black. These also can be dressed up or down, depending on what you wear with them. Pretty much everything matches a pair of black pants, which means you only need to bring one pair.


Blaze a trail

Sure, you could bring a fleece with you, but in some destinations the locals wouldn’t be caught dead in such a thing. Blazers work for jeans, trousers, skirts and dresses. You always look sharp and put-together when you throw a blazer on, even over a basic tank or t-shirt. Not only will you be trendy, but it also doubles as a jacket if it starts to get chilly.


Look to the trees

Everyone loves a t-shirt and they are always acceptable. Leave your cotton tees at home in favor of those made of bamboo or soy. They are softer, keep their shape, dry quickly and they don’t hold odor, so even when you don’t have time to do laundry, your clothes won’t smell like it.


It’s a classic

Just like you have your favorite LBD at home, you will want one on the road. Travel dresses come in all shapes and sizes and you’re going to want to find one you love, because it will go everywhere with you. While you may be tempted to pull a dress from your closet in this case, think about how wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking and breathable it will be. You can find a huge range of styles, prices and brands on sites like Backcountry.com and REI.com.


Layer it on

If you’re like me, a good number of pieces in your closet are cardigans and cover-ups of some kind. The ¾ sleeve cardi can be your best friend on travels. It guards against chills and can be thrown over t-shirts and tanks. Bring one or two in neutrals that will match the other items you’ve packed and you can make more outfits out of fewer pieces.


Step it up 

Walking shoes are a must when you travel, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear trainers that make you stand out like a sore thumb. There are more walking shoes out there than ever now and many probably come from some of your favorite brands. A nice pair of sandals or ballet flats can go with everything from shorts to dresses and won’t get you kicked out a fancy restaurant like a clunky pair of sneakers will. Plus, this way you don’t have to choose between fashion and function.

When you have a handful of versatile pieces in your carry-on, it doesn’t take too many others to complete your packing list. Coordinating items enables you to pack less and still maximize your outfit options. You’ll be stylish and, as long as you’re not walking around with your nose stuck in a guide book or map, no one will ever think you’re a tourist. When you get asked for directions by other visitors, you’ll know you’ve really blended in with the locals.

I have a great pair of Clarks sandals that I take everywhere. What's your go-to basic that you always pack?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Getting In On the Travel Sharing Trend

It's no secret that travel share is a booming industry. With less mainstream ways to travel on a budget, it's easier than ever to travel the world without going broke. I'm all for going independent when I can to save some bucks, especially if I have plenty of traveler reviews to back up the safety and legitimacy of it all. 

travel share for budget travel

Instead of staying in a hotel or eating at a traditional restaurant or going to the big box car rental places for some wheels, why not go local and more affordable?
 


Accommodations

I've been on the travel share bandwagon for a long time. While I love a hotel and still use them when needed, I love to feel more at home when I travel and enjoy having a kitchen and laundry at my disposal. If you do, too, try:
  • Airbnb - Indisputably the most well-known way to rent a vacation space. Choose from a room in a home to an entire apartment and everything in between. Get to meet locals where you can while making use of the spaces they aren't using. (Here's an account of one of my Airbnb experiences.)
  • Homeexchange - Want to really save some money? Swap your house with other travelers where you want to go. Take in their mail, feed their dogs and generally be them for the duration of your trip.
  • Homeaway - Like Airbnb, see a long list of spaces for rent, go through HomeAway, so you know your reservation is safe and secure.


Transportation

You may already be using Uber and Lyft to get around, but why stop there? If you want to drive on your own schedule, rent someone else's car while you're in town. See locals who can spare their wheels while you're visiting on these great sites:
  • Turo
  • GetAround
  • FlightCar
  • ZipCar - Unlike these others, these are shared cars in a city. Rent it by the hour. Pick it up and drop it off at a designated location.


Dining

I'm open to meeting new people and I love to eat. Now you can visit locals for homemade meals or meet someone for food at a restaurant. This is especially good for people who are traveling solo and don't like to eat alone and those that are really outgoing.


Other stuff

Sometimes you get to a place and realize you want something specific, like golf clubs or skis. Since bringing them with you can be crazy expensive, why not rent some from someone while you're in town? 
Travel sharing is perfect for those that want to help out individuals while also getting a hyperlocal experience.

What's your favorite travel share service?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Surviving Air Travel with Kids

Traveling with kids is not always easy or cheap, but you can make it a bit easier on yourself by planning ahead. No last-minute packing or planning, because it can definitely mean the difference between a great flight and a terrible one. I can help you save money and sanity on all your future family travels. Here are just a few ways to make the most of your trips and keep everyone as happy as possible.

flying with kids



Tell Them What to Expect 

Kids are super-adaptable, but it does help to explain things to them. Traveling is kinda weird when you think about it. You stand in line to go through security, where people judge you and look at all your stuff, then you wait to get herded into a big metal room, where you strap yourself in and the air pressure is all funky and makes your ears hurt on occasion. It's sort of like being in the car, but with 200 other people and you can't get out when you need to stretch your legs, but there's a bathroom. Crazy, right? Explain to your kids what they'll be expecting, and more than once. It's better for them to be excited that they're flying than for them to be freaked out and hate every second of your journey. Not only will you also hate it, so will everyone on the airplane.

Travel in the off-season or during winter break



If you have smaller children, you have the luxury of traveling all year long. With this in mind, avoid traveling in the summer. Summer is easily the busiest and most expensive time to plan a vacation. If a beach or other warm-weather location is your destination of choice, plan a trip in the spring. Springtime is always less crowded and one of the best times to find sales on both airfare and hotel rates. If your children are in school, wait until Christmas break to make your journey. If you fly on Christmas Day, you can get rock-bottom airfare, since most travelers want to be at their destination by that day and it’s one of the lightest travel days of the year.

Fly free

Children under the age of 2 fly for free if you aren't opposed to them sitting in your lap the whole flight. Probably not so doable on a trip across the Atlantic, but not too bad on a flight that's only a few hours long. Babies are easier to deal with this way and if they get cranky due to air pressure changes, feeding them does wonders, because they're constantly swallowing.


Stock up on snacks 

Kids always want to eat when it isn't snack time and can get super hangry if they don't get something in their tummy pretty fast. Vacation is no different than at home. Bring snacks on all your plane rides (and outings) to tide them over until it's time to actually sit down and have real food.

Pack games

I find that games are a fantastic way to pass time on the airplane, even for us big kids. Have smarty-pants toddlers or kids over 5? Try Fluxx card game. It’s the game of ever-changing rules that is fun for hours, even if games last just 10-30 minutes. You might also like Zigity. It’s a fantastic game from the makers of Cranium that asks players to spell, add, complete a picture and match objects. The cards are plastic coated, so they are pretty much child-proof. Spills and spit wipe right off!

Bring Your Tablet

Kids are super tech-savvy now. If yous are too, then make sure you load up your tablet with games, videos and books they'll love. A long flight can fly by when they have everything they need at their fingertips. Don't forget a back-up battery to keep it charged and headphones, because as happy as everyone will be that your kids are entertaining themselves, they'll be less happy if they have to hear Dora the Explorer at full blast, because that's how your little one likes to watch it.

Pack light


I know that with kids it’s hard to do this, but it’s not impossible. Each of your children can bring their own carry-on for the plane and help spread around the weight. Whether it’s a small rolling bag that can fit under the seat or a backpack they can wear, they can share the load. While their clothes can be fairly lightweight, everything they want to take from home may not be. Pack as much of their clothes as you can in your own carry-on (Spacebags or Pack-It cubes may help) and then have them carry any spillover and a few things from home in their own bag. This might be some small toys, a coloring book and some snacks. Anything that will make traveling less of a chore and keep the whining at bay. 


If there is more than one adult in your party, this may be done more easily, and you will have everything with you when you land, saving you checked baggage fees and time waiting for your bags on the carousel. Check out the Trunki ride-on carry-on from Melissa and Doug. It’s fun and functional, plus you can accessorize it, giving your kids another activity to do when waiting around and getting border and border. I want one for ME.  



Let them pack their own bag


When you go anywhere, you probably let your kid(s) pick a few things they can’t live without. As long as it can be reasonably packed and will make it through security, don’t worry if they want to bring 32 miniature cars or their favorite doll or even their pillow. If it makes them comfortable, it will help them be a better traveler. You could pack their clothing in your carry-on and have them bring their “busy-time” stuff in a backpack or teach them responsible travel and buy them their very own carry-on bag that they can use. They’ll feel like a grown-up when they pull their little wheelie case behind them through the airport and you’ll save on baggage fees. Plus, by having them carry their own belongings, they might learn to pack lighter.

video

Rent baby equipment at your destination


This doesn’t sound money-saving at all, but it can be. Dragging around a stroller and other cumbersome products can be hard, cost you checked baggage fees and may even damage your own items in the process. Sites like BabiesTravelLite have lists for worldwide locations that rent baby equipment from strollers to baby baths. These places often rent equipment for an entire week for less than you would pay to rent them for a day at amusement parks and other places. You can pick them up on your way to your hotel or vacation rental and then drop them off on your way to the airport. You don’t have to juggle extra things at the airport and you won’t have to worry about damage to any of your own gear.

Invest in a footrest


Skyrest makes the perfect footrest for children. Okay, it’s really a resting pillow for sleeping or reading, but for little legs that fall asleep from not being able to reach the floor, it makes the perfect airplane ottoman. Nobody likes being kicked in the back for a whole flight and when kids have tingly legs, they are going to flail about. These inflatable rests have removable covers, too, so you can remove it before the flight to keep it from getting dirty from the floor and feet.


Fly really early or really late


If your child is on a regular sleeping schedule, see if you can book a flight that will coincide with it and they may just conk out the entire flight. We used to fly the Red Eye often and sleep on the plane overnight and wake up in our destination. While these seem to be few and far between – or even non-existent – now, you can certainly try to find an available flight that is super early in the morning or even later in the evening. These flights are usually undesirable, which makes them cheaper than the same flight in the middle of the day.


Run it out


Some airports have playgrounds. If you're taking off from one or have a layover, then let make a beeline for the closest one (if you have time) and let the kids run and yell and get all their energy out. They'll be less antsy on your flight this way.
Just because you have children doesn't mean you can never vacation again or have to pack up the tent and go camping. Of course, I'm not opposed to camping. I did it all the time as a kid, but nothing beats a good old fashioned family vacation. One where you don't have to do all the work and take freezing showers for a week. Sure, traveling with more than two can be hard on your wallet, but you can save on things to make it more manageable.
What are your tips for traveling with kids?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Timeshares and Vacation Rentals Over Hotels

I'll be honest. I rarely stay in hotels. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've stayed in a hotel in the last ten years. I don't have anything against hotels. In fact, I enjoy them quite a bit. What I also enjoy is having a little more space, being able to make food if I don't want to leave for a meal, and I like feeling special. I also like saving money and staying somewhere unique. 

vacation rentals are better than hotels

People ask how we travel so much and, realistically, I don't think we travel any more than other people could, we just make the effort to actually do it. We don't have more money than they do, even if we don't have kids. My husband doesn't have more vacation time than they do. I'm lucky enough that I can take as much time as I want, because I only work part time outside of the house and they are very flexible with me. So, all in all, I think the only reason we are out so much is that we plan to use vacation time we have.


One of the ways we planned early to vacation more efficiently is to purchase a timeshare. Not one of those that you only get a week at a certain place, but one that uses points that we can spend on any destination they offer. Over the years, we've actually purchased a second timeshare that works much like the first and has locations in different destinations. One is better than the other and gives us access to all RCI rentals, but the other is available in places that we go often (namely, Vegas) and fits us well. 

Surprisingly, we don't always have a place to stay when we travel, and in those instances, we choose a vacation rental, generally, through Airbnb. I like the feeling of being at home on vacation. It's a bit more relaxing and lot less stressful. Here's why we choose a timeshare or vacation rental over a hotel:

More space

Tired of only having the bed and that one uncomfortable chair to sit on when you're in your room? Unless you're booking a studio, but even then, you have separate spaces in your room. Someone can get in the bedroom while someone else is sitting in the living area or at the dining table. 


I get stressed out when spending all day everyday with people, even if it's Eric, so having a space where I can go and be "alone" for a little bit is nice. You'll often find us back in our place doing our own thing. I'll be checking email and Eric will be watching TV or playing a game on his phone. That quiet time is really helpful. And if I need more space, most of our timeshare locations have a nice little lounge area where you can sit and read a book or watch sports. 


Make your own food

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm not one to get up early to go have breakfast. I'm happy getting up and eating a bagel while enjoying my coffee and setting up posts for social media. I also like to bring back leftovers. 


Our first stop once we get off the plane is the grocery store. We pick up breakfast foods and snacks, but sometimes we grab things for at least one dinner, that way we save money and I'm less grouchy in the morning. When we bring back leftovers, we can heat them up properly, or we can make a whole meal if we want...and we have. Most rentals and timeshares have all the things you need. I've even made breakfast smoothies with the blender. (One breakfast out costs at least $10. If you multiply that by 7 days and 2 people, that's $140. Why spend that when you can purchase a whole week's worth of breakfast food for around $40?)

Some places have grills as well, so you have even more options for making foods when you're away from home. We've shared a three-bedroom with friends and their kids and grilled some chicken breasts for dinner and made sides in the kitchen. We've seen other people take advantage of the BBQs, making steaks and ribs for their family.

Everything's included

Unlike hotels, you're paying for extras, even if you don't use them: laundry service, gym, spa, sauna and whatever else. When you stay in a rental or timeshare, all that is included. You don't have to pay more for more amenities. I've stayed in rentals that have doormen and parking facilities and I've stayed in timeshares that have ping pong tables, mini golf and shuffleboard. Use it or don't, but the option is there.

Laundry facilities

I pack light. You know that. I hate carrying extra stuff. This means I'm doing laundry. Hotels hardly ever have laundry facilities, because they want you to use their laundry service, which is crazy expensive. My timeshares either have laundry in-room or have a laundry room on-site (usually free). I plan to stay in early one day during the week to clean all my clothes. This is the time I grab a movie from the front desk or Redbox, make something cheap and fun for dinner (though we've just grabbed takeaway too) and just chill. It forces us to relax and slow down a little.

Clean up after yourself

One of the things I love most about rentals is actually the thing I  like most about hotels. I have to clean up after myself...or I don't have to. I don't have to put my big mess of stuff away each day before the maid comes to clean, because housekeeping only comes in when I leave (unless I'm there for over a week, then the timeshare sends someone to come make up the bed with new linens and change out our towels). 

I like being in charge of myself. I have everything I need to clean up, including a vacuum, so I don't have to worry about a stranger coming in and looking at my stuff. Yes, I'm aware that's weird. I also like the freedom to stay in without having to put out my Do Not Disturb sign. I can keep all my toiletries out, I can leave my dirty laundry in a corner (not that I would), and I don't have stay out between certain hours until my room is done.

Free parking

A lot more hotels are charging for parking now. If you're renting a car and also getting a vacation rental, you can choose ones that offer free parking. Most timeshares have parking facilities that are included, so you're actually saving $15+ per day.

These are just my top reasons to have a timeshare or use a vacation rental. There's plenty of other ones. With a timeshare, you can book way ahead of time of your trip, plus you've already paid for it, so you don't owe anything else. It means you feel the need to actually use it, because you're paying for it. With a vacation rental, you can book anytime, including last-minute. 

What are your pros for a vacation rental or for a hotel instead?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Eating Well At The Airport

It can be difficult to eat well or healthy when you travel, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. With some planning, you can totally do it. One of the hardest places to eat well is at the airport. There are tons of fast food restaurants, making it challenging to avoid eating a crappy hamburger and fries that cost three times as much as they do at home. You could pack your own snacks – which is not a terrible idea – but sometimes you just want to kick back and let someone else do the work for you.

eating healthy at the airport

Airports with the best foods

Boston Logan airport is where you go to find amazing fresh seafood. It's healthy and delicious and Legal Test Kitchen gives their own modern twist on all sorts of ocean dwellers, including crab & avocado salad, baked Boston scrod, and a tuna burger.

Chicago O'Hare mixes sandwiches with your favorite Mexican food that people clamor for at Tortas Frontera. Chef Rick Bayless has created "tortas" like garlic shrimp and the Chochinita Pibil with braised pork.

Denver International pulled in the city's famous restaurant Root Down to give flyers great farm-to-table meals as well. Look for delicious and healthy dishes like the baby beet salad, mushroom tart, and green chili and smoked lentil soup. That doesn't mean they only have vegetarian dishes, you can also indulge in steelhead trout, Korean short ribs, and lamb sliders.

Miami International has the taste of Cuba right in the terminal. Versailles is one of the most well-known Cuban restaurants and now you can eat there no matter where you are in the airport, as there are five Cafe Versailles locations throughout. Enjoy scrambled eggs & croquettes, plantain soup, and empanadas when you've got a hankering for a unique cuisine before you flight.

Minneapolis St. Paul International has a lovely and chic venue with a menu by Andrew Zimmern. You won't find the Minnibar menu packed with bizarre foods though. You order via iPad and can get your favorite classics with a twist, including a grilled cheese and a steak sandwich. Need a little fortification before your flight? Order the Bloody Mary that comes with a ton of additions that you may just want to claim you had a salad.

San Francisco International, unsurprisingly, has something for everyone, including vegetarians. The Plant Cafe is where to go for a healthy and flavorful meal on the go. In one place you can order an immune-boosting juice or smoothie, a colorful quinoa bowl and a mango lime chicken panini. 

What to look for

Just because a restaurant has salads doesn't mean it's uber healthy. In fact, many salads have more fat and calories than a burger. Don't use all the dressing and avoid things with anything fried. 

Look for veggies, even if you aren't a vegetarian or vegan. The extra vitamins will help your immune system deal with all the extra germs you're being exposed to on a travel day. 

Avoid as many fried foods as possible and instead opt for something like grilled chicken or seared fish. It won't weigh you down and make jet lag more probable on long flights. 

I love carbs, but eating too many when I'm traveling makes me tired and blah. It's the same as when I eat fried foods. I want to arrive at my destination feeling refreshed and ready to go. And if I get there at night time, I want to be able to sleep well. 

What to pack

I always pack snacks in my bag, whether I plan to eat it on the plane, at the airport or while I'm off sightseeing. Some of the best things to bring are fresh and protein-packed. 

  • Nuts are easy to eat and don't make a mess, plus you don't need that many to squash the hunger pangs. 
  • granola bars, which you can buy, but are better if you make them yourself. They are super easy to make and customize for your tastes. 
  • Whole or cut up fruits. Do you love apples? Cut them in slices then soak them in a bowl of cool water with a tablespoon of lemon juice for 15 minutes, then you can toss them in a baggie without worrying about them browning. 
  • Carrot sticks, broccoli and celery are all great travelers. If you have some room in your 3-1-1 bag, include a packet or peanut butter for dipping and extra energy.
  • Dark chocolate can give you a natural boost of energy, just don't stuff your whole bag with it, because a little goes a long way. 
Where do you like to eat at the airport or what snacks do you like to bring along when you travel?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Daily Goodie Box

Ever wish you could try new products out before you bought the full size box or case or however they come? There are tons of monthly boxes that cover things you love: books, makeup, fandom goodies and even jewelry. But what about food and health items? While you can request samples of some items on their websites, wouldn't it be fun if you just got a box full of samples that came right to your door? I mean, I have gotten shampoo and toothpaste trial sizes before, it has taken a long time to show up and it's just one thing.

free samples

Now, you know I use trial sizes to take with me on my trips, because I don't need a full-size lotion or foundation when I'm only going to be gone for a week. I'd love to also do this with food and other items. Daily Goodie Box is a free service that gathers awesome new products and puts them together to send out to consumers who want to try them out. Shipping is free. All that's asked of you is to review the items you've received in order to be eligible to receive more boxes in the future.


My Daily Goodie Box was packed full of cool stuff. Things I'd be excited to take with me on a trip and also use at home. 


There were a dozen items (average is 10) and i was super excited to try them out.

A few of the snacky things were perfect for my carry-on's front pocket, allowing me to have something to munch on while on the plane. 


You also know that I'm a "fan" of doing laundry on my trips in order to pack lighter and save money on baggage fees. My DGB came with the fantastic Nellie's laundry soap, which works in high efficiency machines, so it goes further. I like bringing my own detergent, so I save money. Having dry soap is easy to handle and doesn't mean I have to add something extra to my liquids bag. I also received a full-size stain stick. Now I can get that food stain out of my shirt and do it as naturally as possible. You can purchase Nellie's in tablets as well, so there's no measuring required. 
  

Do you like jerky and stuff like pepperoni sticks? I do! My box came with a beef and pork stick from Vermont Smoke & Cure. I immediately pulled it out and chowed down on it. So good! The next time I hit up Target, I found a bag of these sticks and snatched them up. They make great snacks for work, plus are full of protein with nothing gross added to it. They aren't cheap, but are affordable enough that I'm willing to grab a bag every now and then as a special treat.


It's been a while, but I once did a review of Dream Water on a trip, because my first day in a new place is always a challenge to get to sleep, no matter how exhausted I am. Dream Water gives you that extra push to fall asleep with all natural ingredients like melatonin. It's hard to travel with Dream Water, because it's a liquid, and buying it at the airport can be prohibitively expensive if you can even find it. Being able to purchase Dream Water in powder packs not only save money and space, but it's easier to bring more than one with you if you have trouble sleeping more than just the one night or there are several of you who need help falling asleep. 

Since you don't have anything to lose and only free products to gain, go sign up for Daily Goodie Box and wait for awesome stuff to show up at your door. Now, there's no guarantee that you'll get a box, because of limited quantities, but if you do, try your products as quickly as possible so you can give your feedback. This feedback is shared with the companies that are sharing their products with DGB (and you). Like me, you may find some new favorite things, for travel or otherwise. 

What's the best free trial product you've ever received?

Like what Daily Goodie Box is doing? Find them on their website and on social media:

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Daily Goodie Box for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

In just a few weeks, the world will be overcome with green. Green beer. Green shirts. Green beads. Green hats. And corned beef and cabbage. What? Don't ask me. I've never heard of anyone eating corned beef and cabbage outside of eating at an Irish restaurant or St. Patrick's Day. I'm not sure it's for me, but I made colcannon, which is basically mashed potatoes and cabbage, and I liked it, so maybe I should give it a try. Anyway, back to St. Patrick's Day - the celebration of St. Patrick driving the (non-existent) snakes out of Ireland, by drinking green beer until you can't see straight. Why? Because that's how Americans celebrate almost everything. 

st patrick's day around the world

While you can probably find that old Kiss Me I'm Irish shirt in your closet and hit up your local parade, a change of scenery may not be a bad thing. Maybe you're traveling over the holiday and are looking for something fun. Here are some of the best celebrations around the world:

photo credit

Bueno Aires, Argentina

Argentinians love to party and they have the 5th largest Irish population in the world, so not getting in on this celebratory time is simply crazy talk. The parade and a ton of activities, food stalls and more go one throughout the day. Because it's not an official holiday, it's celebrated on the Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day (this year the 18th), so you can actually celebrate twice if you want, or spend the actual day going to church and the traditional things one would do on Friday, which I'm sure many of the 500,000 Irish in Argentina take advantage of.

photo credit

Chicago, Illinois

The city is famous for turning their river green each year for St. Patrick's Day. Once the Chicago River has been colored, it's time for the festivities to start. The parade takes place on the Saturday nearest the 17th, but there is a second celebration that takes place in the city as well. The South Side Irish Parade takes place the day after the downtown parade, so you can make a weekend of it. There are also many Irish pubs around town to indulge in some beer, music and food.

photo credit

Dublin, Ireland

The ultimate place to get in on the festivities is where it all began. Well, not the parties. The holiday was quite religious and secular in Ireland until fairly recently. The first festival to be held in Ireland didn't occur until 1996 and it was only one day. Since then, it has grown into a week-long celebration of all things Irish that draws hundreds of thousand of visitors every year who come to party, join parades, watch concerts, witness fireworks, attend sporting events, take in theater performances and, of course, to drink beer.

photo credit

Montreal, Quebec

Who knew that there was a place in Canada that was like being in a little version of Ireland? Despite being in the heart of French Canada, you can find a selection of Irish pubs and a St. Patrick's Day parade that's like the US Postal Service. Whether snow, rain, sleet or hail, the parade must go on. It always takes place on a Sunday and is surrounded by an Irish Film Festival, charity ball, luncheon and more. 

photo credit

New York City

There's no surprise that a city built on immigrants has a large population of Irish and makes their celebrations its own. The city still has one of the largest concentrations of Irish in the world and their history can't be forgotten. New York's St. Patrick's Day parade lasts nearly 6 hours, and if you can't make it there, or hate crowds, you can watch it online. If nothing else, you won't be surrounded by a bunch of drunks, as alcohol is strictly prohibited. 

These are just a few of the places that throw a great bash. It's by no means a complete list, as you can also find wonderful celebrations in Boston, London, the West Indies, LA and possibly even your own city. You won't catch me at pub chugging a green beer, wearing shamrock sunglasses, but I might be quietly sipping a Guinness and watching a local parade on TV.

How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
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