Best coffee shops: LA vs. NYC (slideshow)


My two favorite metropolitan places in America are Los Angeles and New York City. Aside from Seattle both of these cities are known for their unique and exceptional coffee shops and cafes scattered throughout different areas in each city respectively. Here’s a list of my favorite places to grab coffee when I’m with locals or showing out-of-town friends around. CLICK HERE FOR FULL SLIDESHOW

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Top 5 things to do in Budapest (Slideshow)


Budapest is one of my favorite cities in Europe. Not only is it naturally beautiful but it is architecturally beautiful and historically rich. Here’s a slideshow about my top 5 things to do in Budapest that incorporate all three aspects. After you watch the slide show  HERE’S and article with more fun facts about Budapest.  CLICK HERE FOR SLIDE SHOW

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When to book your flight


I’ve seen countless articles and blog posts about when to book your flight whether it’s international or domestic. It seems everyone believes there’s some complicated magical formula to get the cheapest flight but that’s untrue. There is no guaranteed way to get a cheap flight. I’ve seen people get cheap flights weeks before and months before. The trick is to follow a few simple rules and if you have enough time, to constantly check on a daily or weekly basis to monitor how the prices fluctuate.

1. Websites that search across several airlines are your best bet unless you’re a loyalty belongs to a certain airline flyer program. The site I have used time and time again is KAYAK. I have booked at least 50 flights through this site and even when I’ve compared it to other flight aggregates they always provide the cheapest prices. The best part about KAYAK is the feature that allows you set an email alert so when you’re flight is at your desired price they send you an instant alert straight to your email. A similar website is SKYSCANNER.

Once you figure out what website works for your flight needs utilize the following tips to determine what is most beneficial depending on your departure and destination cities (click on the photos for more information):





For some bonus information about booking airline tickets here’s an article from the Huffington Post.


Happy Travels!

Best Of Los Angeles PODCAST


I’ve traveled to 25 countries and probably a hundred or so cities throughout my 26 years of life. Although I love to get out of my comfort zone which is Los Angeles, where I reside, I don’t always have the time or money to leave. If you ask any well-traveled person what they do when they can’t get away for a real vacation they will tell you their favorite thing to do is to be a tourist in their own city or state. I’m a firm believer in exploring your own surroundings even if you think you’ve done a lot in your own city it’s amazing the things you can find when you ask around and pretend you’re a tourist. Even though I’ve lived in LA all my life my style, tastes and cultural perspectives are always changing and something that I may have found uninteresting before may seem interesting to me now. Here’s my Best of LA list with my favorite places to eat, drink and shop. Click here or watch the video below. Under the video are links to each place, just click on the name for more info!

Hi this is Nicole Hale, author of the travel blog and today I’m going to be talking about the Best of LA. As an LA native my opinions of the Best places to eat, drink, and shop
URTH CAFFE 451 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles: Another one of my favorite LA eats it Urth Caffe located in the arts district. This cute café is always busy but the line goes quickly and is well worth the wait. Usually my friends and I will head over to Urth on a Saturday afternoon, find an empty table and enjoy a farm fresh salad and a made to order Spanish latte- my go-to menu items. Urth is the epitome of the LA art scene here you’ll spot some of the fashionable hipsters that make LA such a trendy city.
MILK SHOP 7290 Beverly Blvd:If you’re looking for a delicious dessert to finish off your meal from Urth Caffe or if you just have a late night sweets craving then Milk Shop is thee place to go. Located on Beverly Blvd in the Fairfax district of LA, Milk offers a variety of desserts from classics like a chocolate sundae to shakes, malts and a twist on the nostalgic root beer float. Wide variety to satisfy your sweet tooth cool place to hang out or should I say pig out haha with your friends
Another reason why LA is such a fun place to live is the night life.
HEMINGWAYS LOUNGE 6356 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles: Bars in LA can all be very similar in terms of atmosphere and crowd and usually the lifespan of a good bar is short due TO the every changing nightlife scene. One bar that has lasted and offers a very unique vibe is Hemingway’s Lounge in the Hollywood area. As soon as you walk into the bar you’ll notice how dimly lit it is giving an intimate yet mysterious atmosphere. The walls are covered with books from floor to ceiling which gives Hemingway’s Lounge a bit of old world charm yet you don’t feel like you’re in just another LA bar. It’s the perfect place to listen to a variety of music and enjoy a cocktail or two with friends.
ACE HOTEL 929 South Broadway, Los Angeles: Just recently LA has jumped on the rooftop bar scene and even though it’s a fairly new concept to the younger crowd there are a few good rooftop bars, one of them being on top of the newly built ACE hotel located in downtown. I’ve been here at night AND during the day and both experiences were very different. I would recommend a day time visit on a sunny afternoon when the city skyline views are most visible otherwise all you’ll really see is the good ole LA smog. Since there’s numerous restaurants within walking distance of the ACE rooftop bar the evening is also a great time to go and enjoy a cocktail either pre or post dinner.

While Los angeles is known for some great restaurants and nightlife, it’s also known as a city that offers a wide variety in shopping. The Beverly center and the Santa Monica promenade are 2 of LA’s popular spots to shop but a lot of people, even LA natives are unaware of the great discount shopping this city has to offer.
SANTEE ALLEYS 210 East Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles: Unless you’ve explored the fashion district for work or you found out about it through word of mouth you would never know about the shopping area nicknames the ALLEYS and it’s one of LA’s best hidden gems. Especially for all my girls out there that love a good bargain. The best way to get there is off the 10 freeway and exit Los Angeles street then make your way to 9th street and Santee where you’ll see the entrance into the shops. The Alley is literally an alley way lined with tons of little clothing, shoes and accessories shops along with the odd store or two selling knock-off brand name purses. I often come shopping here when I’m in need of something specific for my wardrobe but don’t want to pay mall prices.
CITADEL 100 Citadel Drive, Commerce : Speaking of not wanting to pay mall prices….. another great hidden shopping gem of LA is the Citadel outlets located right off the 5 freeway in the Los angeles suburb known as Commerce. My mom used to bring my brother and I here to go back to school shopping and back then there was only about 30 or so stores. Since then They’ve really expanded and the citadel now have hundreds of stores all offering designer good at outlet prices. I do have to warn you it can get quite busy on the weekends but I guarantee you will not leave empty handed

So If you happen to be looking for me one weekend in LA I’m probably either eating, drinking or shopping. I hope I’ve sparked your interest to explore Los Angeles, or your own hometown for that matter. If you need more information about the places I mentioned in my best of LA podcast you can find all the details on my blog until next time

Travel without the planning- Top tour companies for all budgets


I remember my first time I wanted to travel Europe on my own, I had a list of places I wanted to go but I had no idea how to even begin planning my itinerary. After countless hours staring at a map, searching flights and trying to figure out the cheapest and quickest routes the excitement had been sucked out of me. Planning a multi-stop trip is exhausting and frustrating to say the least and although I had seriously thought about having a travel agent take over I soon realized that was way out of my budget. As I traveled throughout Europe that summer many people I met recommended tour companies specifically targeted for people like me; a solo traveler who wanted to meet new people and let someone else do all the planning. The next time I started planning a trip I immediately referred back to the tour companies and researched like crazy. Here’s 3 of the top tour companies for 18-35 year olds. All the trips offered by each company include accommodation, some meals and guided tours in the price. Sit back, relax and let someone else get gray hair planning your trip.




This is a great company for a traveler that doesn’t want to think at all when it comes to planning. All you have to do is figure out what continent you want to travel to and then choose from the multiple tours offered. What’s even better is they offer tours of all budgets and all types. You have the choice of location, departure, accommodation, price and style. Based off your choices the trips will be narrowed down to your preferences and you can compare multiple trips at time if you wish. Contiki has a good reputation and offers over 200 trips around the world.



Busabout is very similar to Contiki in that they offer multiple guided tours with set itineraries. They are different from Contiki in that in addition to set itinerary tours they also offer hop-on hop-off tours. As explained by a happy Busabout customer, “One of the best things about busabout is that you choose how long you want to spend in a certain place and what you want to see there. You choose whether to stay in the hostels busabout recommends or you can go off and find somewhere different.It’s totally flexible and easy to change your itinerary as its all online.”

The “make your own itinerary” option allows you to pick a route that may include anywhere from three to ten countries and then you decide how long you want to stay. When you’re ready for the next stop you reserve your seat on the bus through the easy to use website. This option allows the more spontaneous travelers to go wherever the wind takes them.



Topdeck is a more budget friendly company. It’s basically the same as Contiki offering tours off all types but most of the accommodation options are hostels, bungalows or camping instead of hotels. Topdeck also offers sailing options in Europe and Asia for those that would rather spend their time out at sea.


These three companies are the most popular and widely used. Based off my own experience I suggest looking at all companies regardless of your budget and see which tours give you the most for your money. Sometimes spending a little more may get you an extra few days or the chance to explore another country. Sometimes it’s worth it to choose a cheaper option if a route is more direct or if you don’t mind camping. Regardless, all companies offer exceptional tours and the perfect opportunity to make new friends.


Happy Travels!


Best festivals around the world


One of the many reasons people enjoy travelling is the excitement of being immersed in a new culture. Festivals are a great and quick (if you’re on a time limit) way to get the chance to experience a new country or city without having to stay for a long period of time or actually live there. I’ve gathered a list of some great festivals around the world, some I’ve been to and some are still waiting to be checked off my bucket-list. Click the pictures for more information about each festival

1. Mardi Gras, New Orleans USA- February



2. Oktoberfest Munich, Germany- September



3. San Fermin, Running of the Bulls Pamplona, Spain- July


I attended San Fermin in 2014. One of the best experiences of my life, no running with the bulls though I didn't want to give my parents heart attacks

I attended San Fermin in 2014. One of the best experiences of my life, no running with the bulls though I didn’t want to give my parents heart attacks

4. Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- February



5. Yi Peng festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand- November