CALIFORNIA 2018 // SAN DIEGO

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I had planned on writing something of decent length about our 4 day trip to San Diego, but after thinking long and hard about it, I decided to forego the effort. Now that we have a little one in our lives, time is really of the essence and I have to use my time wisely, if not more efficiently. I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up, this not writing thing. Probably for a few years. So I'll just let the photos do all the talking in the meantime. Don't worry, I'll still add the logistics and recommendations to all our travels!

This was actually our first out-of-town trip with our 3 month old infant. We got invited to a wedding in La Jolla and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out the waters with baby in tow. Due to several requests, I wrote about our 4 Day Infant Travel Experience here.

And of course, I would like to thank those who have sent recommendations my way. Especially from the locals! It's been over a decade since I've been in this wonderful city, so it's much appreciated that the Instaworld stepped up and delivered on what's hip and new these days. As that saying goes, "Ask and you shall receive!"

Special Thanks: Heather + Martin, Akula Kreative, Ashley Cho, Jacob Fu, Ahline, Rizmash.


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TIME: July 2015
TEMP: 75-85F
CITIES: San Diego, La Jolla, Coronado
DURATION: 4 Days
TRANSPORTATION: Rental Car
STAY: Residence Inn by Marriott

INSTA SPOTS in NORTHPARK: Holy Matcha, Communal Coffee, Pigment, San Diego Mural
INSTA SPOTS in LA JOLLA: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, Scripps Pier, La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Torrey Pines Gliderport, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Windandsea Beach
FOOD in LA JOLLA: Bobboi Gelato, Shorehouse Kitchen, El Pescador, The Cottage
FOOD in SAN DIEGO: Taco Stand, Kindred, Donna Jean
HAVE TIME? CHECK OUT CORONADO: Coronado Island, Hotel del Coronado
LOOKING FOR MORE INSTA PLACES TO CHECK OUT?: Old Town San Diego, Carlsbad Flower Field (Seasonal), Chicano Park, Potato Chip Rock, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Botanical Garden and Lily Pond in Balboa Park, Museum of Contemporary Art

FIRST TIME INFANT TRAVEL TIPS

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As first time parents and avid travelers, we've always wondered what it's like traveling with a 3 month old infant. Then the perfect mini vacay opportunity came our way in the form of a wedding invitation to San Diego. We couldn't resist saying "Heck YES!"

But wait - What to bring? What to expect? How to prepare?

These were the questions that I had asked fellow mamas in the Instaworld. Many thanks to these amazing mamas: Ahline, Emlyn, Yi Xuan, Carmelita, Janie, Elaine, Sandy, Jade, Meg, Jensine.

With these mamas' personal experiences, coupled with our own, our 4 day mini vacay to San Diego from Austin turned out better than expected! Traveling with an infant isn't all that bad. In fact, many have said that there's no better time to travel than RIGHT NOW! It's so much easier to carry an infant everywhere (Everyone says a walking baby is an added travel challenge, especially a 1 year old with a short attention span!), an infant tends to sleep more at this stage, plus, it's free to fly for kids under 2 years old. Sure, you won't be able to zip through things as fast and you'll be taking more breaks than ever before. But you'll find that it's a different, slower kind of enjoyment.

Here's how we did it!
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// WHAT TO PACK + BRING //
- 1 Medium-sized Luggage
- Packing Cubes
- Car Seat
- Car Seat Travel Bag
- Stroller (Optional: Carry-On friendly, Stroller Cover Bag)
- Pump (Mostly for Pumping and Dumping)
- 1 Baby Bottle
- Baby's Clothes in 1 Large Ziplock Bag
- Mama + Papa's Clothes / Basic Toiletries
- 2 Muslin Blankets
- Baby Changing Pad (Also stores 2 Diapers, Wipes and Extra Onesie)
- Baby Wipes
- 20-30 Diapers (Depends on how often you change infant per day)
- 1 or 2 Baby Covers (To avoid blow outs)
- Baby Wrap
- 2 Carry-Ons for HER (1 Small Backpack + 1 Large Shoulder Bag)
- 1 Carry-On for HIM (1 Backpack)
- A copy of Baby's Birth Certificate (A hard copy or a cellie photo)
- OPTIONAL: Laptop and DSLR (For V's work + My Travel Photography)

We are minimalist packers and only pack what we need. Mix 'N Match clothing and basic toiletries all went into the luggage, with extra room to spare for other baby things like diapers and wipes. This is our first time packing EVERYONE'S clothes in the same luggage and it totally made our life easier, as we also had to carry the Car Seat and Stroller AND Baby. Both the Car Seat Travel Bag and Stroller have shoulder straps to make carrying easy. I had 2 Carry-Ons: A backpack to carry my DSLR and Changing Pad, as well as a big purse for travel necessities (cellphone, wallet, chapstick, muslin blanket, baby socks). Vince's Microsoft Surface Book and Baby Pump went into his own backpack.

SIDE NOTE: We also brought along a baby bottle filled with milk for a "Just In Case" moment to the airport/airplane, but honestly, we could do without it. We didn't use it and ended up dumping it once the milk reached the 6-7 hour Room Temperature mark. Though we did fill the bottle with milk throughout the trip, for times when Vince took over feeding while I needed to nap in our hotel room.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Hold off on packing diapers and just buy them at final destination! Also, most major airlines don't check weight on Strollers or Car Seat Bags, so fill them up with other items to avoid a heavy luggage. Speaking of Car Seat Bags and Stroller Bags - some come with wheels for added convenience.
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// BEFORE AIRPORT //
Since our flight was at 8am, we had to get up extra early (~5am) to feed baby and beat morning traffic. I had the Baby Wrap tied over my comfortable travel clothes, ready to pop baby in and out at a moment's notice. Why the Baby Wrap? Out of all 4 Baby Carriers we had (Ergobaby Baby Wrap, Moby Ring Sling, Baby K'tan, Lillebaby Airflow Carrier), the Baby Wrap was the only one that me and Vince could both use. We both didn't like the Moby Ring Sling (I ultimately had to return it). The Baby K'tan only fits me as it is size specific (I got XS). And the Lillebaby Carrier is too bulky and inconvenient to store for travel. Once my friend came over to pick us up, all we had to do was load our bags in her car and strap in the Car Seat via seatbelt. Off to the Airport we go!

// AT AIRPORT //
We arrived at the airport with our Luggage, Car Seat, Stroller, My 2 Carry-Ons, Vince's Carry-On, AND Baby. We attached the Car Seat to the Stroller, plopped baby in it, and strolled over to the Southwest Check-In counter, where we checked in our luggage. We then headed over to Security with Car Seat, Stroller and Carry-Ons. TSA had me break down the Car Seat and Stroller combo for X-ray, so I had to take baby out and put baby in the Baby Wrap. While all our things slowly made their way down the X-ray conveyor belt, I had to go through the Metal Detector with baby and immediately had my hands swabbed for testing thereafter. TSA also took the bottle of milk and quickly tested it. And that was that. Easy Peasy.

We had about an hour til the flight, so we moseyed on over to the gate to wait. I went straight to breastfeeding. While I was feeding the baby, Vince wrapped up the Car Seat and Stroller in their respective travel bags. He then went to the gate counter to Gate Check the Car Seat. (You can also Gate Check the Stroller if your stroller is not Carry-On friendly.) When time came for Departure, we waited til Boarding Group A is all boarded before Family Boarding (That's us!) could get on. Before we actually entered the plane, we left our tagged Car Seat by the plane entrance. Gate Checking the Car Seat is recommended as the Car Seat will be handled with more care, therefore less likely to get damaged.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Skip strolling baby - just Baby Wear throughout Airport and Security to have free hands. (Though some places will have you take off Baby Wear before going through Metal Detector.) Speaking of Strollers / Car Seats, they can be checked in for free with all major airlines. (But beware! They aren't often handled with care. Gate Check-In is a better option to ensure no damages.) As far as breast milk goes, make sure to print out the TSA info. Most airports will test your milk, but you have the right to refuse that process, and instead, a full body pat down will be conducted.
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// ON AIRPLANE //
Once we chose our seats on the plane, we put the Stroller in the overhead bin and our Carry-Ons underneath the seats. Surprisingly (and thankfully!) our baby had no issues during Take Off or Landing! None! Wide awake, no crying, oblivious to the loud plane noises. Didn't even have to pop the boob to alleviate pressure. In fact, the baby wanted to play the entire 3 hour flight! There were a couple of instances where he got fussy and I had to breastfeed, but essentially, baby had no idea he was on a plane!

SIDE NOTE: Apparently, you can Baby Wear up until you sit down in the plane. I seatbelted myself, while happily Baby Wearing, minding my own business when the Flight Attendant came over to tell me that I had to put baby on my lap during Take Off.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Ask Flight Attendant if there's extra seating on plane for a Car Seat. (Most mothers I've asked have never used a Car Seat on the plane.) Have baby suck on boob/pacifier during ascent and/or descent to help alleviate ear pressure. Though it seems most babies just spend all their time sleeping on planes!

// GETTING AROUND TOWN //
The second we got off the plane, our Car Seat was conveniently waiting for us by the plane entrance. We proceeded to the gate area, unfolded the Stroller, quickly attached the Car Seat, plopped baby in and wheeled baby straight to our Rental Car. Hence the need for a Car Seat.

We opted to stay at Residence Inn by Marriott because we needed a fridge to keep the milk cold. (It was also one of the cheaper options close to the wedding venue.) The free continental breakfast and complimentary coffee added a nice touch to the stay!

In general, we often had slow starts in the morning, making sure that baby got fed decently before exploring around San Diego. Once on the road, it was pretty much a breeze getting from Point A to Point B. Most of the time we'd plopped baby in the Baby Wrap or simply just carried him while walking around. A few times we actually busted out the Stroller. Sometimes we took just the Car Seat (with sleeping baby in it) into a restaurant. If baby got hungry, I'd try to find a secluded place or simply head back to the car to breastfeed. But overall, our 3 month old infant spent most of the day napping, making it even easier to get around.

SIDE NOTE: We didn't know that we had to take a shuttle to the Car Rental area from the airport. On top of that, we didn't know that we couldn't just wheel baby right into the shuttle. The driver had us breakdown the Car Seat and Stroller combo, and thus, I had to Baby Wear. If we had known all that, I would have just Baby Wear the second I got off the plane.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: If you decide to not bring a Car Seat, most Car Rentals offer one. (Though bringing your own is the same cost as renting one. Bringing your own Car Seat also ensures that you don't have to count on Car Rental to have a nice one.) Some cities you don't need to rent a car if public transportation is easily accessible. If going by Taxi/Uber, most likely they are new enough to have locking seatbelts for Car Seat. Depending on country, some mothers just put baby in Baby Carrier for a quick cab ride. But please do research before opting to do this. Baby Wearing on public transportation seems to be the easiest and popular consensus. As far as sightseeing, it's easy as long as you know the baby's feeding schedule. Lastly, most hotels and Airbnbs offer a crib.

SARANGHAE 5 STEP ANTI AGING SKIN CARE ROUTINE REVIEW

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As a self-employed Travel Photographer, I've spent a good chunk of 2016 and 2017 traveling abroad. 6 months in Middle East / Eastern Europe, 5 months in Asia. The travel schedule was grueling, yet exhilarating, and I loved every second of it! But because of the on-the-go lifestyle, taking care of my skin took a backseat. My 36 year old self with combination skin started to feel the effects of travel fatigue and aging.

When I got back to The States, I needed a refreshing skin care routine that will bring life back to my skin. Fast. So that's where Saranghae entered the picture.

Upon initial research, everything about Saranghae looked promising and legit. I was actually really surprised at the amount of helpful information (not mindless fluff) on the Saranghae website. Always a bonus when a company is uber transparent about the process and ingredients that are implemented and used. Detail goes into literally everything! It's like skin care demystified! I've learned so much on how to take better care of myself!

On a side note, and something that just dawned on me ... throughout high school, a good friend of mine would periodically visit family in Korea and come back to The States with tons of beauty products for me to try. At the time I didn't know why Korean products were all the rage, but now I know: Natural ingredients are primarily used in Korean makeup. NATURAL IS GOLDEN and the key to the anti-aging regimen.

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Final verdict after 2 months of using the products:
On-the-fence now turn firm believer. My skin is soft and balanced. Because of the fresh face feeling, the only makeup I wear on a daily basis is lipstick and mattifying face moisturizer. And if I do decide to put on foundation, I have a great base to start off with! It might be too soon to notice if Saranghae wards off wrinkles, but so far, I'm liking the results!

My only complaint:
I wish there's a light-weight SPF face moisturizer!

Would I recommend?:
A resounding YES!

Learn more about Saranghae here!

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Below I reviewed each individual product in the 5 step skin care routine.

// NOURISHING + MOISTURIZING CLEANSER //
This is probably one of a handful of face cleansers that I've tried in my life that doesn't leave your skin dry! I use it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Thanks to the oil-based cleanser, I get that utterly clean feeling and much needed hydration at the same time.

// DEEP RADIANCE ESSENCE + SERUM //
Immediate improvement was seen with my skin and I believe it's all because of this nifty essence and serum concoction. It's full of nutrients and benefits that gets really deep into the skin. For years, I thought slathering cream after washing my face was enough. But now I know that all that is ineffective, because the cream doesn't penetrate the outer skin layer! Serum is needed to really get in there and get the job done before applying any cream!

// FIRM AND LIFT CELLULAR REGENERATION CREAM //
This cream is kinda heavy so I use it before I go to bed, right after I wash my face and apply the serum. The following morning, I awake to a noticeably plump and glowing complexion. Def a great way to start off the day!

// FOCUS RENEWAL EYE CREAM //
Here's another product that I'm a huge fan of! The skin around our eyes are incredibly sensitive, so it totally makes sense to have something that caters for it's needs. My eye bags aren't as prominent after continued use, making me look more awake than I really am!

// ELEMENTAL ESSENCE MASK //
Whoa, this mask packs some serious punch to the beauty routine! Use only as needed. And I only needed it once these past 2 months. But wow, I'm still reaping the benefits after using the mask a few days ago! My skin is super velvety and hydrated and glowy!

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To learn more about Saranghae, visit www.lovesaranghae.com.

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** This is a sponsored post by Saranghae. Though all thoughts and opinions are my own. **

MY TOP 5 EUROPE SPOTS (WEST TO SOUTH)


The most asked question I get every time I come back home from Europe:

"What's your favorite European destination?"

This is no easy question to answer! For someone who has traveled extensively to Europe for the past 20 years - there's never just one favorite! And of course, the list of favorites continually changes every time I go back. I have many, many more faves! But I've listed the best of the best below from the Western to Southern regions of Europe. For now.

Special thanks to Go Euro for making it uber easy to plan a Eurotrip these days! Finding the best route or the cheapest mode of transportation has never been easier. Or more straightforward. Def a lifesaver!

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MY TOP 5 EURO SPOTS - ITALY

1. VENICE, ITALY
I've been completely and whole-heartedly blown away by everything in Venice. This centuries old city, majestically perched on water in all it's pastel glory, is quite the visual wonderment. Utterly romantic and insanely Old World Renaissance idyllic at every turn, you really can't take a bad photo here. And all that charm exists on 118 small islands connected by 400 bridges. 400! No cars. Just water ... everywhere! Hard to believe people actually live here!



MY TOP 5 EURO SPOTS - FRANCE

2. MONT ST. MICHEL, FRANCE
This abbey island commune, surrounded by high tide waters and, in turn, curiously surrounded by exposed sand at low tide, is probably one of the more magical places I have ever seen in Europe. Til this day I'm still not even sure if it's real. And I've stayed there for 4 days! But I assure you that everyday I was there, I awoke giddy and eager to see this dreamy motif off the coast of Normandy.



MY TOP 5 EURO SPOTS - HOLLAND

3. KINDERDIJK, NETHERLANDS
An hour drive south of Amsterdam will find yourself in the countryside with the most picturesque clad of iconic windmills. All 19 of them. As far as the eye could see. It's a massive place to explore and one can easily spend an entire morning windmill hopping. It's zen, peaceful, and remote. Perfect place to find that inner balance with a furry four-legged friend.



MY TOP 5 EURO SPOTS - CROATIA

4. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
Don't get me wrong. I absolutely loved the photogenic waterfalls in Croatia! Some of the finest I've seen on my world travels. But there's something about touristy Old Town Dubrovnik that I find exotic. It's unlike any other European Old Town that I've been to. Pristine white marble streets, orange rooftops, Baroque facades. All surrounded by the stunning Adriatic Sea with amazing views inside, outside and above the city. Picturesque any way you look at it! I can see why 'Pearl of the Adriatic' is a deserving title for this gorgeous Balkan city!



MY TOP 5 EURO SPOTS - ITALY

5. CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
Colorful pastel buildings huddled together and artfully situated on rocky hillsides overlooking the Ligurian Sea. They definitely look exactly like they do in those postcards. Almost too pretty to be real. But it is very real. And there are five of these very real picturesque villages carved into the rugged landscape. Such a visual treat to hike to all five and take in the unique panoramic vista that town offers.



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** This is a sponsored post by Go Euro. **

COLLABORATION // EASTPAK x PAUL&JOE

COLLABORATION with EASTPAK + PAUL&JOE

Eastpak and French fashion powerhouse, PAUL & JOE, recently unveiled a collection of unique luggage designs that captures the carefree essence of travel.

This is where I come in.

My 2nd collaboration with Eastpak and it's by far my favorite one. This time around I get to combine my 2 passions in life: Travel and Photography. AND to make this an even more of a dream collab for this wanderluster, I've always been a fan of Eastpak! Since high school!

Check out Eastpak's Instagram and Facebook to see my travel story of The Philippines' Kayangan Lake in Palawan. As well as my product photos on the newly launched #EastpakxPaulandJoe luggage collection.

Rest of the awesome collection can be seen here: http://www.eastpak.com/eu-en/paulandjoe/

#collaboration #sponsored


-jin-

TRIPS TO ADD TO THE 2016 BUCKET LIST

Meant to post this awhile back. Seeing as we're only in the 8th month of 2016 - there's still time! You have 4 months to YOLO your heart out before the year ends! Better late than never, says every risk-taker and rule-breaker out there!
Refinery29 Travel IG Contest

So friends, I'm beyond honored to have 1 of the 5 winning virtual vacation images curated by Refinery29 and Tiny Atlas Quarterly. 2 major online publications! One for the forward female creative, the other for the travel adventurer.

If you need travel ideas for 2016, look no more. Check out this Refinery29 article of the chosen 5 must-see places to add to that ever growing bucket list of yours. You'll find my Wadi Rum image among that list, and honestly, it's a lifetime trip that will change you body and soul!
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The other cool thing from the win? An Instagram follower, inspired by my image, sketched me riding a camel! Lol. At least the high bun is on point with real-life me!

Keep on adventuring, fellow wanderlusters! Let me know where your heart takes you! Comment below or on my Travel Instagram!


-jin-

travel tips // vancouver recommendations.

traveling feet.

Heading to Vancouver in a week and who better to ask than a local who just so happens to be a fellow wanderluster + awesome photog friend? Wished I had met her 7 years ago when I first traveled to Vancouvertown. She would have made my stay quite a fun-filled one peppered with tons of laughing moments, I'm sure! Anywho, looks like we won't be crossing paths in her hometown anytime soon (Carli is traveling to one of my fave European cities, Prague, while we're in town. Lucky duck!) so I just have to settle for her written words of wisdom. And because I'm much too lazy to summarize her 'book', I hope she won't mind me posting the entire email here. Word for word. 'Cause ain't it nice to hear it straight from a local, anyways? Can't get any more authentic advice than that! Looking forward to the day we get to play in your ol' stomping grounds together in the near future, Carli woman! I may still need more convincing then that Vancouver is a cool town. =P

Oh, and one more thing, Carli! Let's get that much anticipated photowalk in gear! Somewhere, anywhere in this big, big world. Over a cup of coffee, lavender or not, yah? (That last one's for dissing my Lavender Latte hunting efforts, lol. But, whatevs, I still love ya!)

Anyways, here's a big ol' hearty 'Eh!' to get into the Canadian spirit. Bring on the moose, maple syrup + poutine! Eh! O Canada, O Canada! ... EH!

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Hey darlin'

A friend of mine called me very frantically yesterday with the exact same question. I've never heard of this medina cafe, but someone gave me a tin of horrible lavendar cookies a few months ago that left a very strong floral aftertaste for HOURS after eating one, so I'm not particularly into the whole lavendar in anything trend.

Alright - here are some of the things you NEEEED to eat in Van: Grounds for coffee cinnimon buns in Kitsilano (@Alma and Broadway), while you're on a sugar binge in Kits 49th Parallel Coffee (@W4th Ave and Yew) has awesome drinks and the best donuts I've ever had. Rootbeer float donut?

Apple maple bacon donut? oh yes. From there, you can just wander up and down W4th - lots of cute shops around there. Granville island is a lovely place for grazing on a little bit of everything.

MUST. EAT. SUSHI.

Having sushi twice a day, every day, is not a waste of time if you're in Vancouver. It's awesome, it's cheap and pretty much any sushi place in the city is good. Sure there are probably some upscale places that make it extra good, but I could never be bothered to pay more for it than the normal sushi places that are like every 3rd restaurant.

Korean is also super good. There's a few places at the west end of Robson street I normally rotate between. Now there's some lame rule against open flames at tables or something though, so everything's done on stupid table top hot plates instead of grilling.

Pho is good everywhere. My favorite is in Kits right near UBC. I don't know the name of the shop, but it's a hideous green with a neon sign that says "Thai Spicy Vietnamese Food" what the hell is that? I don't know, but their soup is wicked. It's just opposite the Safeway supermarket at the very end of W10th ave before it goes into the UBC campus.

Raw oysters in BC are fantastic. if you're into that sort of thing, find some in Van. yummmmmmm Fable on W4th is supposed to be brilliant. Serious culinary goodness, but their prices are really decent. I was supposed to go there last time I was in town, but we couldn't get in the day I wanted to go and then it just didn't work out after that :(

As far as non-food places... hmmm...

Sanley park is nice, Granville island's nice to wander a bit, Kitsilano has some nice shops and lots of coffee/people watching potential.

UBC campus is really pretty if the weather is good. Anywhere in town is really pretty when the weather is good, really.

SOOORRRY for being silent on the flickr! I'm here, I totally promise! I've just got nothing remotely interesting to post, and I've been trying to be a good little curator and actually make my monthly selection target for the first time in like... ever, probably. hmmmm I AM here though! I'm also on your blog, but I hate how wordpress makes me comment and it confuses me, so that's my excuse for just creeping on there without leaving any evidence. Sorry 'bout that.

ok, I just scrolled to the top of this short novel. This is getting silly... I should stop typing and go to bed. nighty night!

C

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besos ... jin.