Pack light; Travel cute

Packing light is necessary when travelling, but so is comfort and style. You don’t want to be lugging around heavy suitcases on to trains and ferries, and you also want to be comfortable and look together.
The key is to pack a lot of versatile items that you can wear over and over! Here’s a guide that can help get you started:olivia leigh gaggi
1. Luggage. I used The North Face’s small base camp duffel, it’s great because it is a backpack that doubles as a duffel bag! I know I’ll use it when I’m not travelling, too.
2. Fedora hat.
3. A bright necklace.
4. Hippy shoes.  I know, I know… they’re kind of fugz but trust me you’ll learn to love ’em! You need comfy shoes that have a back strap, especially when you are walking around a lot.
5. Longchamp. Or another light weight easy-to-pack purse. The Longchamp is great because it’s waterproof and it folds up so it can fit in a small packing space when you’re not using it.
6. A sassy scarf. Perfect for sassy-ing up an outfit for night or just accessorizing during the day.
7. Comfy cotton dresses. Old Navy has some great inexpensive cotton dresses. They’re great for wearing during the day and being super comfortable.
8. Versatile shorts. J. Crew, Gap, Banana and Old Navy all have great shorts for traveling. They’re nice, tidy looking and look good with a lot of things. The last thing you’d want to wear are those tacky, little booty shorts in a foreign country. Actually, I hope they are the last thing you would want to wear ever, to be perfectly honest.
9. Basic tanks.
10. Button downs. 
11. Cotton skirt.
12. Colored blazer. They’re fun and can brighten up any outfit.
13. Wedges. Personally, I need a heel. I’m 4′ 11″ and wedges are perfect for giving me a bit of height and are easy to wear.
14. Cardigan. Cardigans are great when it’s just a little cool and you don’t want to wear the blazer. I don’t like to wear sweatshirts abroad because I think they make people stick out like soar thumbs as Americans.
15. Jeans. One or two pairs is enough to pack. You can wear them a couple days in a row and then switch them out.
16. Cross-body purse.
*Don’t forget a bathing suit and sunglasses too! And yes, all those things (and more) did fit into my base camp duffel =]

Friday’s focus and fairy tales

I’ve always loved fairy tales, ever since I was little. When I was three, I was a princess for Halloween and continued to wear the costume as much as I could possibly get away with after that. Now, I’m 22 and my favorite show at the moment is ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

What everyone loves about a good fairy tale, is that they give us hope. Hope that no matter how bad things may seem to be, they can get better. Hope is something everyone should have. Especially when times seem difficult in the world. There are natural disasters and crazy people on our news every day that makes it difficult to see all the good and possibilities in the world.

I do believe that there is more good in the world than bad.

This weekend don’t just try to be hopeful for yourself or the world, but be the hope for others. Talk to someone you don’t know very well, or at all. Everyone can use a friend and a simple smile at stranger could be the lift they need. Take time for others this weekend and help them see the hope in the world; Help them believe in fairy tales.

Love,
Liv

And I Did It All in Heels

In one month I traveled around Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Spain. I saw brand new places had some of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned more than I had ever anticipated on this trip.

Beautiful seasides, Greek temples, cathedrals, art and culture, pizza and cannollis, are all fantastic but the best experiences I had were thanks to the many people I met along the way. Whether it was someone in my hostel, a stranger attempting to help me when they didn’t speak any English, locals who invited me to sit with them at dinner when they saw me eating solo, or an entertaining tour guide. Above all what made my trip unique were the people I met in this past month. People from all over the globe that even if I never see them again I hope I never forget them and their stories.

Before I left my friends asked me if I was scared or nervous. At the time I was too busy finishing up college to let it register but I honestly thought it would hit me once I was on my own and I would be scared. Although I had my moments where I was scared (cough cough Palermo) for the most part I was so busy enjoying every ounce of my experience that I didn’t have time to worry. Like someone in my last hostel said, “just because you’re alone it doesn’t make you lonely.”

Split and Dubrovnik

Even before I knew how I was getting to Dubrovik, I knew I had to get there. Not just because it’s in “1000 Place to See Before You Die” but because I had already booked my flight from Dubrovnik to Madrid at least month or two prior.

It may not seem as though that it would be that difficult to get to since it’s literally next to Italy but you’d be surprised!

Easy Jet starts flying direct from Rome to Dubrovnik but not until July 1st. The only flights currently available had ridiculous connections and were really expensive.

After a lot of research, I figured out the best way to reach Croatia would be to take two trains from Florence to Ancona, take an overnight ferry to Split, and then a four hour bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik.

Phew! It took a good minute to get there but it was worth it!

Three days and nights of a peacock inhabited island, sea kayaking and going out and getting to know the locals a little bit and I found myself falling in love with this small city.

I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Riviera, the French Riviera and Sicily and the ocean and beaches I saw in Dubrovnik easily topped them all.

As of now, I’d officially rank them:

1. Dubrovnik
2. Taormina (Sicily)
3. Sorrento (Amalfi)
4. Cinque Terre (Italian Riviera)
5. Nice (French Riviera)

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Cliff jumping is supposed the be the thing to do in Dubrovnik. I didn’t do because I was travelling solo but it looked like so much fun!

Love,
Liv

Cinque Terre and Chianti

During my week in between part one and two of my trip I stayed in Florence with my family. Even though I’ve been to Florence a half-dozen times I still was able to have two fun and new experiences.



The first of my new experiences was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre literally means five lands. Five villages along the Italian Riviera all border one another and are connected by hiking trails, trains and ferry boats.

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A friend and I decided to do two hour long “intense” hike to the very last beach. We saw some of the best views of the coast and the towns and had a great workout.

Cinque Terre is known for their local white wine and their pesto so before we left we were sure to stop in at wine bar and have some wine and crostini with pesto.

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A couple days later, once Marisa and Scott arrived, the three of us with my mom went to Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting. In addition to plenty of wine, we each had a huge plate full of cheese, prosciutto, salami and other yummy things! So delish!

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Love,
Liv

Words I Liv By:

“Do one thing thing that scares you everyday.”

What I mean by this is that everybody should challenge themselves daily. If you push yourself do something that you’re afraid of (that you know isn’t ridiculously stupid or crazy) you will no longer be scared of that one thing. You will gain confidence in yourself and have a better grasp on who you are as an individual.

I don’t know when I started saying this or where I got it from or if I even made it up myself (it sounds kind of like a Nike ad I think), but since I was about 16 years old I have used this phrase to give myself courage to do things that I find intimidating. From wearing crazy outfits and dyeing my hair pink in high school, to public speaking and all the way to deciding to moving almost 700 miles from the beaches of Florida to the mountains of North Carolina (where I knew basically no one) to start college. This phrase or saying has helped give me the courage to make some of the major decisions  in my life so far.

Although I do not graduate until next May, the closer that that day comes (and the longer that I stay in Florida this summer) I have come to realize that soon I will have to make another big decision and many more to follow after that. I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do with my life and where I’m going to try to start that life. I’ll have to make this decision and commit to it, just like I did when I chose to attend Appalachian State University. Even though my first year at App was rough I was able to stick through it and ended up learning so much about myself and grew so much from those experiences into the young woman I now am.

The problem with this decision is this: what I want for myself and what my mother wants for me do not match up.  I know my mother wants what is best for me, wants me to succeed and wants me to be happy but I also know that my mother wants me to stay here close to her and stay in Florida. Even though I have expressed a million different times and in a million different ways that even though I love Florida (and perhaps one day I will end up here ) that this is not where I want/need to be to start the next chapter of my life.

My mother claims she is not trying to guilt trip me or manipulate me in any way but I can tell she is doing what she can to change my mind about Florida (which is interesting since she hates Florida and constantly reminds everyone that the only reason she stayed in Tampa was because her mother guilt tripped and bribed her into doing so). She attempts to change my mind by asking me about I feel about living/working in St. Pete (literally, 45 minutes away from Tampa).  Or since my parents are in the process of looking for a new house she talks about it having to be big enough for my sister and I to visit, for me to bring my future husband and also somewhere safe for her future grand kids to play at on weekends (I’m 21 and I do not have a serious boyfriend  at the moment and neither does my 25 year old sister).  And of course,  she never fails to remind me that she would not be happy if I moved too far away to somewhere like Chicago, New York or DC (where my sister happens to live.. make sense?) because she would miss me too much.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my mom so much. I am so grateful for her and everything she has done for me. We have a great relationship and I know I can count on her for anything and talk to her about almost anything but I feel trapped sometimes when I’m home.  I just know with every ounce in my body that if I decide to stay here after I graduate it will: 1) regret it for the rest of my life and  wonder what I would’ve become if I had attempted a life outside of my comfort zone and 2) Even if I stay here after I graduate with the intention of one day leaving I’ll end up getting wrapped up in a job or a relationship and wind up never leaving.

I love Florida. It’s where I was raised. It is comfortable and familiar but I want new and exciting. I believe that my life is in the beginning and moving back home will feel like it’s already halfway over. Yes, a new job in general will be new and exciting for a little while but it won’t be long until I’m bored of being in the same old, same old Florida.

So as much as it terrifies and scares me to start new in somewhere completely different and away from the family that I love and will miss it is something that has to be done.

I’ve done the beach and the small town so far… I’m thinking the city next. New York? Chicago? DC? London? I have dual-citizenship with Italy so anywhere in Europe is an option, although until I have get my Italian fluent I’ve only got my English speaking skills to guide me.

Love,
Liv