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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Hedgren Asharum Waist Bag

As a recent email told me "Fanny packs are back and there's nothing you can do about it." The last time I sported a fanny pack for real was when I was 14. In the 25 years since, I've bought exactly one waist bag (fanny pack, bum bag) and that was for a Halloween costume. The waist bag trend has exploded again in a huge way and you can find them everywhere. Everyone's getting in on it, even high end European manufacturers like Hedgren.

Hedgren waist bag

Gone are the days that you can only get the same exact bag in cotton or leather. Fanny packs now come in a variety of colors, fabrics and styles. The Asharum Waist Bag from Hedgren's Inner City collection shows you that you can wear a quality fanny pack that looks great with whatever you wear and it won't make you stand out as a tourist on your travels (which you totally did back in the day). Old and young and every age in between are picking up a waist pack and making them look chic and popular. 

The Asharum Waist Bag has all the organization you need, so you aren't just rummaging around in a main compartment to find change or whatever else you're keeping in there. It's structured, too, giving it a nice silhouette against your body, instead of being a lumpy bag. 

You'll find three separate compartments inside, one of which is zippered, so you can keep those items from being shown to the world every time you open your bag. 

One side compartment has both card slots and an RFID zipper pocket. You can put your large smartphone here, as well as up to three credit cards. 

The zipper will fit your passport. I was able to put both of ours in it with no problem. This allows you to keep your information safe from digital thieves. The length of the bag is also perfect for keeping your boarding passes and other travel docs from getting all crumpled. The other compartment is plain and can be used for anything you need to carry with you. I put my large back-up battery and cords in it and there was still room leftover. In the middle zippered compartment, I kept my few cosmetics I take with me when I go anywhere.

The front of the bag has a smaller zipper slot, perfect for all the change you tend to collect as you travel. You could also use it for your transportation passes. Because it's on the front, it's fast to get in and out of. 

The side against your body has a larger zippered compartment, where you can keep dollar bills flat impossible for pickpockets to get at. It opens wide so you can see everything inside easily and takes up nearly the whole length of the bag.

The bag has a sturdy zip closure that is held down with this hardware, meaning you can close your bag with one hand with ease and your zipper end will never flop out of the bag, which I'm sure you've had happen with other bags you've owned. It's the worst, right? The Asharum also has a nice little cube detail that you can keep on or take off if you like. It gives the bag just a little bit more interest.

As you can see, even with all the stuff inside, the bag is still a manageable width. It does expand a bit to make it work for most of the things you'd like to carry around in it. The different sections are separate from each other, so it's not just one big bag with sections that can make the bag too wide and/or droopy when full. The sections are stitched together, so they retain their shape and don't allow the bag to accordion out so much that it is heavy and pulling down. 

You also have a heavy duty strap and buckle. The buckle was impossible for me to pull apart just by tugging hard on the two sides, so it's not going to just snap and fall off while you're walking around. It's also going to be hard for someone to snatch and drag off your body while you're wearing it. The strap is easy to adjust, too, so whatever size you are, you can make it comfortable for you.

I think this might change my mind about fanny packs, but if not, Hedgren has plenty of other great bags for me to try. I've got three more to bring you! Don't forget about the dad or grad on your list who might love this for their travels, or just to look cool around campus.

Other details
Where to buy them: On the Hedgren website or Amazon
How much is it? 49.00 (approx $65)
Colors they come in: black (shown) | dolphin blue | tango red
Additional specs: 5.91 x 1.57 x 10.24 inch, durable water repellent 100-200D twill nylon

Who's excited to see the waist bag return?

Loving Hedgren and want to see all their new products and see how to make them even more fashionable? Find them online: 

Disclosure: I was provided with the Asharum Waist Bag for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: The Better Umbrella from Cabeau

Okay, so by now you know I am not an umbrella carrier. I live in Portland where it rains quite a bit. I’m totally used to it. I either suffer or I wear my rain jacket. The last time I traveled with an umbrella was in 2005 when I went to Cancun. It was in the middle of hurricane season and we were lucky enough to visit in between a tropical storm and an actual hurricane (Hurricane Wilma). Rain pretty much follows us everywhere we go, but I always end up wishing I didn’t bring my umbrella, because it just gets in the way and is too cumbersome.

better umbrella

If you feel like this about an umbrella, and are also bitter that you have to either bring one per person or travel with a giant golf umbrella, then you will want to read on to learn more about the Better Umbrella by Cabeau.

Cabeau knows how annoying it is to travel with an umbrella that either doesn’t keep you dry, is too large or gets your arm wet when trying to share with a friend. These are all the reasons I quit taking them on my trips, but the Better Umbrella just might change all that, because its innovative design is not only awesome and useful, but it allows me to not have to wear an extra layer of clothing when I’m somewhere warm and rainy.

The Better Umbrella has an offset handle, so you don’t have stand to the side of the middle of it, so half of you is covered really well and the other half is only partially covered and probably getting a little wet. The other problem that the Better Umbrella solves is when you’re wearing a backpack that sticks out (because don’t they all?) and you’re trying to keep dry with an umbrella, but because you have to hold it in front of you, your backpack – and your legs and feet – is getting drenched, along with everything in it. Womp womp. Having to figure out how to dry all your stuff out when you get back to your room is not fun at all.

The offset handle means you can keep yourself and your belongings dry, you get more coverage where you need it, plus you can even see where you’re going! Novel, right? The worst is when you’re walking around with an umbrella, but you can only see the people’s feet in front of you. What all are you missing around you by not being able to look up – or even at eye level?

The handle is ergonomic and comfortable in your hand. It has a design that makes it impossible for it to slip from your grip while in use. It has a nice storage case and a loop that you can use to hang it and let it dry out when you’re back inside.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pics of me using this outside in the rain, because I was on my own, but it made walking around in the gross Portland weather a bit more enjoyable and kept all of me dry. Plus, I didn’t have to wear a coat, which was nice, because summer has finally made it here (on most days anyway) and I didn’t have to be hotter in order to not get soaked.

So, if you are an umbrella carrier, either at home or on trips, The Better Umbrella should be on your wish list. You’ll find out quickly that its name is appropriate and will make your rainy days that much better. It also makes a great gift for those that travel frequently or live in a rainy place like I do. Father’s Day is coming in a few weeks and graduation season is upon us. Get this for the gap year grad on your list.

Other details
Where to buy it: On the Cabeau website
How much is it? $29.99
Colors it comes in: black
Additional specs: Open: Diameter=39″/ Height=23″ /Weight=13 oz, Closed: Diameter=2.25″/Height=12″, Fabric=100% Polyester/ Handle=100% ABS Plastic / Frame=2% Steel, 21% Aluminum, 12% Fiber Glass, 8% Polyamide Plastic, 7% Polyresin 

Can you see The Better Umbrella making your trips more awesome?

If you love the innovation of Cabeau, check them out online:

Disclosure: I was provided with The Better Umbrella for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.                                                                                                                                      

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 3

My coffee tour continues this month. We've had some really nice days at the beginning of the month, making it nice coffee weather, because I could sit outside if I wanted, and walking to one shop from another is fun and not miserable. I love that sort of weather. Actual Spring weather where it's sunny and warm enough to not wear a coat, but not so warm that you're sweating from walking three blocks.

This month I found some winners that were based on Instagram, Swarm friend suggestions and good old fashioned map Googling. I was pretty lucky with my visits too. You'd think that'd be easy with a coffee loving city like Portland, but not every coffee shop is created equal, which I have found out fairly quickly with this blog series. Anyway, let's get to the brews:

Peaks Coffee PDX

It's amazing what sort of connections you can make on Instagram. I found Peaks by following other coffee shops in the city. It's pretty much brand new and took over a tiny space in SE. They sucked me in with their minimalist design and their delicious coffee pics, including their new Mt. Tabor, which I decided I needed to try when I went in.

There were a couple really nice days in Portland, so everyone was getting excited about iced coffee, but it was back to dreary when I visited, so I ordered the Mt. Tabor hot and then a Mt. Hood bagel sandwich. The Mt. Tabor is a latte made with fresh mint. The hot version isn't that minty, though my breath was extra fresh for an hour after. It also has the added challenge of having floating leaves in the cup, which would probably easier to drink if it were cold and you had a straw. It was good though. It had a pretty good flavor that wasn't too bitter or too sweet, but I'd probably try something else next time.

The sandwich was awesome though. The Mt. Hood is a sandwich with cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. I got salt and pepper on it and it was one of the most delicious bagels I've ever had and it would be on the top of my list if I returned.

Peaks is small and only has bar stools for seating, so you're not going to go there and work on your novel or chat with your friends for an hour. You're going to go, chat with the barista while they make your drink and then sip it while watching people walk along the street, or you take your drink with you and become one of those people. Their prices are pretty consistent with the other coffee places in town, with a latte costing $4.75 and a bagel sandwich just $4. I'd say less than $9 for breakfast is a pretty decent deal.

Deadstock Coffee

This tiny little coffee joint is like walking into a little bit of an old school hip hop video. They have sneakers and sports memorabilia and a fun piece of art that features a boom box. They have a few stools to sit at, but when I was there they were full, including someone doing homework on a laptop, so they obviously are pretty social in their small space. You won't find food here, or a menu, but they claim they'll make any coffee you want, or you can ask for their specials. They didn't have any when I visited, but I asked them to just make me something cold and the barista suggested the Zero Chill (also seconded and applauded by a customer, or possibly another worker on break). 

It is a cold brew coffee mixed with ice tea. Those are my two favorite things to drink! He was nice enough to pour it into an espresso cup first so I could taste it before I committed to a full size, but I was in. It only cost $4, which I thought was a decent deal, considering how good and refreshing it was. If homeless people bother you, maybe just park across the street in the paid lot instead of finding street parking. I'm used to it and no one bothered me, even after I took my drink to go and drank it on my way to my next coffee adventure.

Courier Coffee Roasters

This little European style cafe is in a fun shaped building that's also home to several other eateries, including Portland landmark Sizzle Pie. They don't really serve food here either, but they have places to sit and their coffees are affordable. I asked for their most popular drink and they told me it was probably their lattes and also that the espresso was "especially good" that day, so I ordered that and a canelé (what I'm told is a baked custard pastry). The two cost just $6 - $4 for my latte and $2 for my pastry. 

The coffee had a lovely rich flavor with a little bit of sweetness that eliminated the need for any sugar at all, plus it was pretty to look at! The pastry was amazing. I'd never had a canelé before and I look forward to having another one. It was crispy on the outside and like a super moist cake on the inside. I loved it. I'll definitely be back next time I'm downtown, and maybe I'll head around the corner to one of the three places to eat as well. I was very impressed, and I'd have to say this is in a much more approachable part of Portland, right across the street from the North Park Blocks and a few blocks from Downtown proper with a ton of food cart pods nearby.


This was another shop that was my second visit of the morning. If you didn't know where Heart was, you'd probably not even notice it. It blends in with the buildings on the block and their monochromatic color scheme. The sign is small, but once you get there, you wonder how you missed it.

I found the prices of this minimalist coffee place a bit high. The prices seemed a $1 more for coffees and $1.50+ more for pastries. I had already had one coffee when I visited, so I opted for a small Americano and a blackberry blueberry scone. With a dash of sugar, the coffee was perfect. They use a mix of beans to get a lovely bold roast that is very satisfying. My scone had a nice crisp on the outside and was fluffy on the inside with that burst of fresh fruit. The two cost me a total of $7.50 ($3.50 for an 8oz $4 for my scone). 

For the price, you get the added convenience of a Downtown location, but unless you're visiting on a weekday morning, you probably are going to end up paying for parking as well. Although, if you're already downtown, it's easy to walk to and close to the mall, Target, Powell's Books, and Pioneer Square. There is plenty of inside and outside seating and the space is airy and bright. It's a friendly place to pop into for a to-go cup or to sit and relax for a bit. Don't expect any substantial food though, as I think I picked the heaviest thing on offer.    

There you have it. Four coffee shops that you may not have heard of and may be interested in grabbing a cuppa on your next visit to Portland. 

What's your favorite coffee shop from home or your travels?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Pakems Packable Boots

I travel a lot in the fall, when it can be cooler than expected. I have often flown with boots, some better than others, but they tend to take up a ton of space in my carry-on. I could check a bag, but then there’s the worry that my bag won’t even make it to my destination, plus I don’t really want to drag a big bag around with me. My rule is: If I can’t pick it up, then it’s too heavy to come with me on vacation.

packable snow boot

Pakems has created a true packable boot that’ll take you from city sightseeing to winter fun. Maybe you plan to play in the snow, or you just need a good warm boot so your toes don’t freeze and fall off while you’re strolling the city. Pakems come in their own little duffle, so you don’t even have to pack them in your carry-on if you don’t want. You can throw the strap over your shoulder and wear them like a purse.

Pakems are fun to wear, are cozy in the cold weather, and the new style is waterproof, so you can even tromp around in the pouring rain without worrying about your feet getting all squishy and gross. As a Portlander, this is pretty important to me, as it rains a lot during the year, including all through the winter, so I need a good waterproof boot to deal with life here.

Pakems were designed as an alternative to snow boots, because you could easily take up most of a suitcase with just one pair. They aren’t very travel-friendly. Pakems do the same job as you favorite snow boot, but can roll up to a fraction of the size, so you still have room for all the sweaters, pants and thick socks you need to take with you. They have tension straps that allow you to make them tighter or looser and they have a special strap that lets you keep them squished down to packable size, so they fit in your bag (or their own bag) better. They can be as small as 2 inches tall! Crazy, right?

Not only are they packable, but they won’t weigh down your luggage either. They are super lightweight at just 15 ounces. That means you won’t hate your carry-on more than usual, because it won’t be any heavier than with your normal shoes. In fact, it might actually weigh less.

The inside of the boot is lined with faux fur, that feels a bit like fleece, so it keeps your foot nice and warm, even without your favorite socks. The top can be tightened, so you can keep water and snow out of your boot. I love that, because there’s nothing worse than having a great pair of boots that still allow your feet to get cold and wet, because the top doesn’t conform to your leg. Pakems lets you control your fit all over, making it perfect for your foot. This is awesome, because they work skiing and other activities, but then you can loosen them up for walking around the city. Un-cinch the top and roll the tops down to make a more casual statement.

These shoes are made for everyone, and if you want to go play out in the snow and leave your purse behind, or keep your pockets empty, they have a handy dandy zipper pocket on each boot that’s just the right size for your hotel key card, a credit card, ID and even some cash. This allows you to go out unencumbered and still have all the important stuff with you. Play out in the snow and then go directly to the ski lodge for cocktails to warm up. Also, because they zip, you can’t accidentally lose important things while you’re out having fun.

Pakems are comfortable to wear and come in a several different styles/colors. You can even buy short Pakems if you like a lower profile boot, because not everyone is the same. My boot looks great with jeans and I loved wearing them around town. I look forward to taking them on my next cold weather vacation, because they look fun and I can hide some emergency money in my boot in case of pickpockets.

Keep your kids busy by purchasing them the Bodie boot. They are black and white and come with markers, so they can design their own boots. This can give them something fun to do while waiting in line, sitting at the airport, or traveling on the plane. Awesome, right?

These make a great gift as well! Remember that Father’s Day and Graduation is happening pretty soon here.

Other details
Where to buy them: On the Pakems website
How much are they? $65 for the Cortana’s I’m wearing
Colors they come in: black/purple (shown) | pink camo | brickell
Additional specs: lightweight rip stop fabric & rubber soles for traction, each shoe has an anti-bullying message (“be kind”) inside.

Who else needs a great packable boot to travel with?

If you want a pair of Pakems and love to see their new innovative designs, check them out online:

Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of Pakems for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hitting the Beach On a Budget

Got aspirations to go to the beach this summer? Well, you’re likely not the only one, especially since the kids are out of school and the sun is out and that makes people flock to beaches near and far. The problem with heading to the beach during the warmest months is that it is often quite expensive and crazy crowded. Considering most people are just lying on the beach on their trip, it makes no sense to spend a ton of money that you don’t have to. So, here are some tips on how to spend less than expected.

beach vacation

It’s summer, which means you don’t need to take much with you. Getting everything in a carry-on will save you checked bag fees and also get you on your vacation as soon as possible after your plane lands. Keep your travel wardrobe to a minimum by taking one nice outfit and then several tops and bottoms that mix and match. This way, even if you took only 3 tops and 3 bottoms, they could make two week’s worth of different outfits. I then suggest taking two pair of shoes that will work with your outfits as well. Normally, I take a nice pair of sandals that can also work with dress clothes and a good pair of walking shoes. This way, you will be prepared for anything. Throw in a pair of flip flops (which I don’t count as shoes, since they take up almost no space) and you’re set for bumming around on the beach or at the pool.

Change Location

Trade in the ocean for a nice lakeside location. Not only will it be a fraction of the price of an oceanfront property (or even an ocean “view” one), but you can do almost the same things you can otherwise. You can lay out on the beach, make sandcastles, go snorkeling, fishing, swimming, jet skiing and almost everything else you can do at the beach by the ocean.

Book a Rental 

Look for an apartment/condo/house rental instead of a hotel. I keep saying this, but it really can save you a lot of money. Many times you can find something for $300-400 per week, when most hotels you find are going to be well over $75/night, and that’s only for two people. On top of the savings per night and per person, you’ll also be able to shop for your own food and make as many meals as you like. I tend to like to buy breakfast fixings, because I don’t usually like to go out for breakfast and I don’t like to rush in the morning. I can eat a bowl of cereal or a bagel while I’m getting ready for the day and I’ve saved at least $8/day just for me alone. A lot of restaurants charge more than that. Heck, you could easily spend that much at Starbucks for a muffin and a coffee. And if you come back in the middle of the day for a nap or to rest your feet, you can make yourself a sandwich for lunch, too!

Go on a cruise

There are tons of deals going on right now, which means you can hang by the pool on the ship and then check out different beaches when you reach port. You also have the option of trying cool cuisines, saving money on food and accommodations while at sea and having a lot of shopping and sightseeing options.

Go South

Head to South and Central America where even during the summer, rates for hotels are pretty affordable. Places like Ecuador and Belize have wonderful beaches and budget-friendly food and lodging. Stay at a more luxury resort for a fraction of the price, which will help you stay on track with your travel budget and also give you more for your money. The beaches are just as good, plus you get to brush up on your Spanish or Portuguese.

Become Unpopular

Head to less-popular locations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and other beachfront locations that have late summer travel deals. Many of these are located in the Southeast and in smaller towns, like Daytona Beach. While they may not seem very exciting at first, there are plenty of things to fill your spare time with, yummy fresh seafood and cool day trips as well. Fodor's has this great list of under-the-radar beach spots in the U.S.

So, if you’re hoping to work on your tan and enjoy some sand between your toes, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, your sunglasses and a bunch of sunscreen and start booking your flights, which will not be cheap this time of year. Where will you be headed this summer?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Cabeau's Midnight Magic Sleep Mask

Have you ever been woken up at the crack of dawn on vacation  or even at home – because the curtains or blinds don't shut all the way and then you end up with that one slice of sunlight across your face that blinds you the moment you crack open an eye. Yeah, That's happened to me more than once. It's hard to feel rested when you don't get enough uninterrupted sleep.

travel sleep mask
It's because of mornings like this that I've taken to traveling with a sleep mask. And then I was so happy with how well I slept, I had one for home, too. The only problem is finding a good one. Sure, you can get a generic sleep mask, but why not spend a little more and get a really good one that will last and will give you the best sleep. Cabeau's Midnight Magic can do just that. 

A lot of people hate to have something against their eyes and, that's the reason they hate most sleep masks. I don't mind it, but Cabeau has made their sleep mask with an eye well that allows you to blink without your lashes getting crushed. It's great for those that don't enjoy having anything against their eyes and doesn't ruin your REM sleep.

One of the problems I have with maskes is getting a good fit. The whole point is to block out the light, wherever you might be and this has a black-out adjustability. The nose bridge is moldable, so you can get just the right fit around your nose and cheeks, blocking out all the light and making your body think it's night time, even if it's not. So, you can get a good night's sleep, or a good day's sleep if you're on the plane. 

Also hard to find is a sleep mask that doesn't wear out from putting it on and taking it off many times. Most just have an elastic strap, that is either too tight or too loose. I've actually had to tie a knot in one before, but Midnight Magic has a Velcro strap, so you can fit it to make it comfortable for you. It's got a low profile, making it easy to sleep on your back, because it doesn't dig into the back of your head. 

You got the darkness and the fab fit, but what if you can't sleep if it's too loud? I've been on the plane with loud talkers and crying babies, but I've also been in a hotel with kids running up and down the hall and near round-the-clock construction. That's fun, right? Well, Cabeau doesn't want you to be in the dark and still not be able to sleep, so Midnight Magic has a this nifty little built-in pouch with ear plugs. They are memory foam, allowing them to conform to your ears and block out more noises than regular ear plugs. These are my favorites and even my husband can sleep soundly while wearing these, and he's a pretty light sleeper. And I love that you can't lose your ear plugs, because they always have a home!  

Midnight Magic has just the right coverage for me, with a wide, comfortable head strap. It also lets your face breathe, which can be a whole different problem. It's hard to sleep when your face is hot . With minimal points of contact, it helps to keep you as cool as possible, but also feels secure. I didn't wake up in the night with it on top of my head, so that's a win in my book. 

Considering how well I slept at home with my Midnight Magic mask, I'm really looking forward to traveling with it. It's soft and comfortable and perfectly adjustable to make it ideal for relaxation and sleep, whether you're in a nice hotel room, bunking on the couch or traveling on the train. You'll want one of these if sleep is even a little problem for you, or you just want to enhance your rest.

Other Specs
Where to buy: On Cabeau website or Amazon 
How much: $19.99
Colors: Black
More Details: 100% polyester, with an 80% EVA foam/20% brass wire nose bridge, elastic-free adjustable strap

Like what Cabeau is up to? Learn more by following them online: 

Disclosure: I was provided with the Midnight Magic Sleep Mask for the purposes of this review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

It's Farmers' Market Season!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are awesome, aren't they? I totally think so. I also think being able to get local produce is pretty awesome and there's no better place to get such things than at a farmers' market. We make a point to hit up markets wherever we are if we can. Sometimes, they are just cute little roadside markets that sell yummy things, but often there are many merchants gathered with their goodies in a formal market. 

Some are open everyday and some only sell on certain days. Our local farmers' market, which we are lucky to be very close to, is open only on Saturdays and then on Wednesday evenings during the summer. A lot of markets we've been to have limited days like this, but they are worth the effort if you can go to them.

Try new foods
I'm all for trying new foods. How else will you know if you like something? This is the next best thing to picking it yourself. It's super fresh and probably a better deal than getting it at the supermarket. Likely, it doesn't have pesticides on it either. Produce I buy at the farmers' market always tastes better than the same things I buy at the store, which is why I frequent ours two or more times a month. Local foods are a great way to learn about a place, too. Have you ever tried dragonfruit or fresh papaya? I have, in Hawaii!

Buy staples for meals
You're staying in a vacation rental, right? Of course you are, because you like having more room and saving money. Well, that means you have a kitchen and can make your own dishes. If it works out, head to the market near the beginning of your trip and then you have fresh veggies, spices and herbs to make dishes with. Woo! Not sure if you can make entire meals with what you find? You can, and soon I can show you as I'm currently working on a travel cookbook. It'll be full of recipes on things to make before your trip and while you're on it.

Pick up fixings for a picnic
Travel during warm weather deserves to be celebrated with a picnic! If you can't find bread, cheese and meats to make sandwiches with, I'd be really surprised. Grab a bunch of carrots or other favorite veggie to have on the side. Delicious! 

Find food products you can take/ship home
You know those fancy jams, pastas, dried fruits, candies and stuff people always bring home with them? You can do it, too. Sure, you can buy them in specialty shops, but at the markets they are normally all in one place and you can sample them to know what you actually like. If the items are liquidy, like jam or wine, put them in your bag and check it back home, unless it's cheaper to mail them back, then do that. It'll be like Christmas after you get home.

Food trucks
This might not be the norm, though I've seen food trucks and carts more often than not at outdoor markets. Ours has a few and also a coffee truck, which makes morning so much better when you're up early enough to find a parking space (people here really like the market) and aren't totally awake enough to drag around your heavy bag of freshness.

Meet with the locals
Engaging with the locals is a fantastic way to learn more about your destination. You can ask them questions about good places to eat (when you aren't making your own food) and cool places to visit. You may even make a new friend. If you're in a place that speaks a different language, this is a great way to practice, too.

Support the economy
Supporting the local economy is important. Even better than shopping small businesses is giving money directly to the growers and makers of things. You purposely chose your destination for a reason, so maybe spend more time going to local shops and restaurants than chains and you'll be doing your part as a good tourist.

Do you have a favorite farmers' market from your travels? Aside from home, I have loved Portobello Market as well as the small one we found in Orlando.
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