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10 Things to Know before You Start to Plan Your Arizona + Utah Road Trip

10 Things to Know before You Start to Plan Your Arizona + Utah Road Trip | CosmosMariners.com

The countdown is on for our upcoming road trip to the Western U.S., and I am so busy putting the final details on our itinerary. The majority of our trip will take place in Arizona and Utah, which have so many incredible locations that it's been hard to narrow down exactly where we need to go!

 Our original plan had been to fly in and out of Denver, Colorado, and do a quick excursion into northern Utah as part of that loop. However, when we realized that we were leaving out so many incredible sights in the neighboring states, we had to rethink that plan. We expanded our original route into the multi-state road trip that we'll actually be taking.

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books | CosmosMariners.com

This post was sponsored by Blurb. I was provided a complimentary photo book of my choice and compensation in exchange for my honest review.

Fun fact: I was the yearbook nerd in middle school (my claim to fame was that I was the editor of my yearbook in both 8th grade and 12th grade). When you consider that I spent most of my lunches during my senior year pouring over layouts, it's no wonder that I still love travel photography and editing and creating photo books.

Yet, with all of the craziness of day-to-day life, those photos seem to stay backed up on my hard drive. My older child is going to be 4 in just a few short weeks, and I've only made photo books that cover up to her 2nd birthday. I'm 2 years behind at this point.

Simple Concept, Big Impact: Making Travel Easier with the Demi Hugger (+ Giveaway!)

Simple Concept, Big Impact: Making Travel Easier with the Demi Hugger (+ Giveaway!) | CosmosMariners.com

I think it should be a rule that, when you have kids, you grow at least one more arm for every kid you bring into the family.

Yes, you'd probably look ridiculous with those octopus-like appendages, but let's be honest: as a parent, you already have barf in your hair and a mysterious stain on your pants, you can't remember where you put your keys (again), and there's likely a small human clinging to some part of you. So, ridiculous basically becomes a relative term.

Until the human race figures out that whole additional arms thing, parents are left to struggle on their own terms, navigating small humans who love to pretend that they are hard of hearing. While I adore traveling with my little Cosmos Mariners, it can be stressful to juggle the holding of small hands, the pushing of suitcases, and the organizing of carry-ons.

9 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography Skills

9 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography Skills | CosmosMariners.com

I've always loved taking pictures and organizing them (I even went through a major scrapbooking phase in college), but it wasn't until I bought my first DSLR that I really caught the photography bug. Nowadays, I rarely buy souvenirs from the places that we visit since my photos make for a much better way to remember trips by.

If you're interested in travel photography, know that there's definitely a learning curve: you can't just snap away with your camera mindlessly and hope that you'll get an album full of stunning photos when you get home. Travel photography requires the right equipment, techniques, and skills. It might seem overwhelming to learn at first, but with some practice, you can have your photos looking as breathtaking as your subjects are in real life.

Our 2017 Travel Wishlist

Our 2017 Travel Wishlist | CosmosMariners.com

As the new year looms, I've started doing one of my favorite things: picking out where we might go in the coming 12 months. 

Since we traveled far less in 2016 than we did in 2015 (due to my 2nd pregnancy), I'm excited to have so many possibilities open to us. No more worrying about the Zika virus! No more wondering how I could travel without panicking about being so far from my doctor! No more waddling and being tired!

Smarter, Easier Family Travel: Why You Should Add the gb Pockit Stroller to Your Must-Pack List {A Review}

Smarter, Easier Family Travel: Why You Should Add the gb Pockit Stroller to Your Must-Pack List {A Review} | CosmosMariners.com


This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received the gb Pockit to facilitate my review.

By far, the most difficult part of traveling with a little one is the amount of stuff that we have to pack for her. While we've streamlined the process a bit over the last 2.5 years, I still find myself hauling around her travel cot, her toddler backpack and leash, our bulky stroller, and her beloved Frozen luggage.

10 Things You'll Think after Becoming a Travel Blogger

10 Things You'll Think after Becoming a Travel Blogger | CosmosMariners.com
Travel blogging means views like this while you're working!
{Cozumel, Mexico}
I've been blogging for over five years, and exclusively travel blogging for nearly two...and it has been one crazy, wonderful, magnificent experience.

Over the last 24 months, my relationship with my blog has gone from we're-just-aquaintances to my other child. I plan what I'm doing around my posts and what I need to do for it. And like, a small child that needs constant attention and nourishment, the blog has slowly grown and--dare I say?--started to thrive.


10 Things You'll Think after Becoming a Travel Blogger | CosmosMariners.com

Also, like a child, the blog has caused me many, many days of stress and sleepless nights as I try to fix technical problems that are way beyond my comprehension, juggle social media marketing with hanging out with my family, and the overwhelming feeling that I will never, ever, ever get everything done on this thing that needs to be done.

If you're thinking about starting a travel blog, here's what to expect. Be prepared: it's one heck of a ride!  If you're the happy current owner of a travel blog, these blog phases are probably the story of your life, too.

6 Smart Travel Items that Will Make Your Journeys Easier

6 Smart Travel Items that Will Make Your Journeys Easier | CosmosMariners.com

One of the thing I hear the most from readers about travel is how stressful the entire packing and preparation process is. Yet, with the amazing advancements in technology available, traveling has become easier and more fun than ever. 

From the perfect additions for our iPhones to protecting valuables, and from photography improvements to hammocks that cradle the body in the most comfortable of positions, check out these must-have travel items you need this year to make your journeys easier.

8 Things to Ask Yourself before Adding Sponsored Travel to Your Blog

8 Things to Ask Yourself before Adding Sponsored Travel to Your Blog | CosmosMariners.com

In the world of blogging, growing a brand can open up the doors to some amazing opportunities: from becoming a brand's ambassador to reviewing products, the possibilities for blog partnerships continue to grow as companies realize the immense power of the influence of bloggers.

As a travel blogger, adding sponsored travel to my site has been one of my biggest accomplishments--and challenges. Despite common preconceptions, sponsored travel isn't free travel (not by a long shot!). Sponsored travel requires many hours of preparation before those crucial travel days. If sponsored travel is approached with some thought and plenty of planning, these partnerships with convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), hotels, attractions, and travel brands can help you build your own blog.

Let's Go! Enter to win the $125 Delta Airfare Giveaway

Let's Go! Enter to win the $125 Delta Airfare Giveaway | CosmosMariners.com

New year, new travels!

I know I can't be the only one who starts to plan out trips for the rest of the year once January rolls around. Even if the trips are only beautiful wishes, I like to think about the possibilities for where the new year will take me, metaphorically and literally.

However, for one lucky reader, those 2016 plans won't just be wishes. I'm teaming up with some other fantastic bloggers to give away a $125 (USD) Delta Airfare gift card this month!

7 Ways Travel Allows Me to Be My Best Self


7 Ways Travel Allows Me to Be My Best Self | CosmosMariners.com

As far back as I can remember, traveling has been a major influence in my life. It wasn't until I was in college that I began to realize just how much a part of me traveling was, and I began to take steps to keep travel as a priority. That's not always easy when you're a broke college or grad school student, but I did manage to study abroad both in London for a summer and in the Bahamas as a part of a semester-long course (thanks to working 3 jobs).

The Ultimate Round-up of Travel Gift Guides

The Ultimate Round-up of Travel Gift Guides | CosmosMariners.com

Christmas is less than a month away. Let the panicking commence!

If you know someone who loves to travel, you've come to the right place. Here, you'll find all sorts of travel-related gift guides for every type of traveler: your luxury hotel lovin' sister, your budget backpacking second cousin, and your great-aunt who likes the idea of travel (but, in reality, only goes on the same exact cruise every year).

Basically, if you read this article and you still show up to your family or office party's holiday gathering, don't blame me. You've got more inspiration here than your pocketbook will allow!

So, no excuses. Play like a champion. And buy those travel gifts for your favorite globetrotter.

A New Tradition: 8 Reasons to Take a Family Holiday Instead of Exchanging Gifts


About this time each year, I start thinking about what I'm going to give my family for Christmas. Lists are made, budgets are created, and I spend hours scouring the internet for gift ideas.

More often than not, I'm usually panicking come December 20th since I either can't come up with a decent present or I've remembered even more people who need gifts.  On more than one occasion, I've thought, "I wish we could just forget the gifts and spend more time together!"

Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland
Best 28th birthday present ever!
In fact, my husband and I have nearly done away with gifts all together for our anniversary and birthdays, as we both love to give new travel opportunities or experiences to one another. For my 28th birthday, we went to Scotland. For our fifth anniversary, we went on a Caribbean cruise. And, for my birthday this year, I got season tickets to the Dock Street Theatre here in Charleston.

We'll probably continue to do gifts for the next year or so for my daughter, but I would love to make a tradition of giving a family holiday to her once she's older. Here's why:

1) It's unexpected. 

Giving gifts during the holiday season is what you do. I'm all for contributing to the office gift exchange or continuing to do the present thing with grandparents and cousins. At least within your insular family, you can go countercultural and give experiences instead of more stuff.

2) Your kids will never forget it. 
Traveling with my parents and sister was (and still is!) one of my favorite parts of childhood. My sister and I still sit around the table at my parents' house and laugh about stuff we saw and did on some of those trips.

I'm a huge proponent of family travel, as it gives you a chance to bond and step out of the ordinary. Plus, imagine your kids' eyes when they come down on Christmas morning to see their bags packed and a big sign that says, "We're going to (insert destination of your choice)!" Even as an adult, I would flip out about that!

3) Your kids already have enough toys. 

Between friends, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, I promise that your child will not feel neglected if you substitute a family holiday for 20 boxes of the hottest new toys. Chances are, those toys will all be broken and/or stuffed under the bed by February 1st anyway.

4) It will give you more time together. 

If you ask most parents what they want, you're likely to hear "more time with my kids." You can't exactly wrap up more time in shiny ribbon, but you can budget for a vacation--and the end result is the same. Unwind, leave the phones and tablets at home, and experience what you love about your family for a few days. It will be much better than hearing your kids argue about which toys are theirs.

5) It could be less expensive than giving gifts (depending on where you go). 

A family holiday doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg--unless you want it to. There's something out there for every family's budget from all-inclusive family friendly resorts to cabins in a nearby state park.

If you're used to splashing out on extravagant electronics and toys, your Christmas budget could easily be exchanged for a few days elsewhere.

If you're more budget minded during the holidays, you could plan a staycation in a local hotel and finally go see a few of those sites you've been meaning to visit with your family.

6) You don't have to clean up all of that wrapping paper.

Unwrapping presents is fun. Cleaning up all of the tape, wrapping paper, and boxing isn't.

7) Traveling is an incredible educational experience. 

A family holiday isn't just about enjoying one another's company. It's also about discovering new things about each other and the places around you. Going on a trip together changes the dynamics of your family, so your kids can see their family group in a new light. They might learn that Dad can hula with the best of them or that Mom can't get enough of the hotel's water park!

If you choose to go somewhere with museums or a historical focus, your kids can learn so much. I remember going to Paris the semester after I'd studied the French Revolution--seeing the Conciergerie after hearing about the Reign of Terror made what I'd learned real. Learning isn't just for school, and it's always better in the company of the people you love.

8) It puts the focus of the holiday on people instead of things. 

Joy. Love. New beginnings.

We hear those same themes over and over again throughout the holiday season. What better way to spend the holiday than focusing on the most important people in your life?
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If foregoing presents completely seems a too extreme for you, commit to a family holiday, but also include a small gift component, too. You can put a very limited budget on the gifts (say, $5 for each person) or you can tell everyone to get creative and only give handmade gifts. You'll retain the fun factor of gift giving while retaining the majority of your budget for your family holiday.

You could also start by doing smaller trips for birthdays and other special times for your family before changing your Christmas traditions. It might make for an easier tradition for kids who aren't too sure about the idea.

What's your favorite part of the holiday season? Would you consider swapping out gifts for a family vacation?
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Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com

When we originally started to plan our trip to Germany and Luxembourg, taking my daughter wasn’t a part of the plan. We had some distinctly non-toddler activities planned, including a trip to the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich, plus I was worried about how she’d deal with sightseeing and new places to sleep and irregular schedules. 

Then, a few things changed: we all decided we didn’t have time in our very packed schedule to go to the concentration camp, and Britton started talking about planes all of the time. One afternoon, I was talking with my mom and she asked (again) if Britton could go. 

Even though I’d been staunchly against her going up to this point, it was as if a lightbulb went off in my head at that moment. 

Why shouldn’t Britton go? What was the worst that could happen? 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Running around outside the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany
In a flight of fancy, I applied for and got Britton’s first passport, we purchased her plane ticket, and ordered a car seat for our rental vehicle. She was going to Germany with us, a trip that would require her to fly on five different planes, deal with a six-hour time difference, and spend 11 days sightseeing in 6 areas of Germany and Luxembourg. 

I was nervous about taking her once everything was in place, but I was excited to share this time with her. 

So, how did she do? 

For the most part, she was a champion traveler! If you’re thinking about traveling long distance with your toddler or preschooler, here’s what you need to know. 

Lay a groundwork before you leave. 

Even if your child has traveled on a plane or overseas before, it’s always a good idea to prepare them for what they’re about to go through each time. This was Britton’s first plane experience and her first time abroad, so we talked a lot about what she’d see and do on the airplane before we even stepped foot in the airport. 

I also made sure to show her pictures of the castles, the Alps, and Munich before we left, so she’d have something tangible to focus on. 

Be prepared to work on the plane

And by “work,” I mean get yourself in a frenzy as you try to keep a toddler quiet-ish and still-ish for the duration of the flight. Of all of the components of toddler travel, I found the plane rides the most stressful. The space each passenger is given is tiny and not truly suited for someone who’s main goal in life is to move as much as possible as often as possible. 

We walked up and down the aisles as much as possible. When we were confined to our seats during turbulence, Britton was allowed to watch some of her favorite movies, including "Frozen" and "Paddington Bear" (both of which were in the Delta Sky Kids movie lineup). 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Britton in the Charleston airport testing out her new Frozen headphones
A few other tips for the plane:
  • Order the kid's meal before you board. My kid is pretty adventurous when it comes to eating, but she still loves the kid standards (apple slices, bananas, chicken fingers, PB&J, etc). The kid's meals that she got had fresh fruit, a biscuit, cheese, ravioli, juice, and chocolate pudding. 
  • Bring noise-reducing headphones. Britton loves messing with knobs and buttons, and I didn't want to run the risk of her turning up the movie audio too much. We bought a pair of kids' Frozen headphones and didn't have to worry about her harming her hearing while watching movies. 
  • Pack some cheap toys. If you get a handful of small toys at the Dollar Store, your child can play with them without worrying about losing them. If one does get left behind or broken, it's no big deal. 



Consider doing self-guided or privately guide tours


Those little legs and little attention spans aren’t often made for a traditional 2+ hour walking tour. We ended up doing some self-guided tours of Munich, Luxembourg City, and Trier, which was fantastic, since we could stop and start as necessary. 

If you’re not as cheap as we are, you could consider hiring a private guide who would be willing to go at a slower pace. Many cities also have shorter tours specifically for kids, so look into booking one of those when traveling with little ones. 

Leave free time in your schedule. 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com

At several points in our trip, we’d head back to the hotel in late afternoon to rest, take baths, watch a movie, or play. Having some extra time at the end of the day allowed Britton to wind down and get used to her new schedule. We even had a playground at our hotel in Trier (Berghotel Kockelsberg), which delighted Britton. 

Bring a toddler backpack. 

First off, I know these look ridiculous. You look as if you’re walking your kid on a leash! If you can get over the weird factor, this can be a lifesaver when you’re traveling with little kids. Carrying a 30 pound kid can quickly wear anyone out!

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
My dad and my daughter in the Residenz in Munich
We’d brought a stroller, but, after a while, Britton would get tired of sitting. We’d put on the backpack and leash (or “lush,” as Britton called it), and she’d get to stretch her legs. It was particularly great when we were in museums (so we could keep her from touching everything in sight) or in crowds. 

The backpack also served another purpose: it carried a small case of wipes, a few pull-ups, and some snacks. I got to leave my heavy diaper bag back in Charleston, and Britton liked being in charge of her snack stash. 

(We had the Brica Safety Harness Backpack in green; it also comes in pink.)


Booking.com


Pack snacks. Lots of snacks.  

Even though you’ll get peanuts and pretzels and meals on the plane, your toddler will still want more. Having a box of cereal bars and some special treats saved me when my daughter started getting super grumpy on the plane. 

When we were on the road trip, those snacks (as well as the ones that we picked up at grocery stores along the way) were crucial to keeping Britton happy in between the stops. 

Know that that toddler jet lag is even worse than adult jet lag. 

When I get jet lag, I force myself to stay awake as long as possible in order to try and get into some sort of new routine. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, I force myself to lay there in bed and just relax. 

Toddlers have no concept of either of these coping mechanisms. When they’re tired, they want to sleep. When they’re ready to get up, they climb out of bed. 

Despite our best efforts to readjust Britton’s schedule, we still ended up having a very tired, very grumpy toddler on our hands the first day we were in Munich. The first three nights of our trip included a wonderful little break around 3 AM, where Britton decided that she needed a snack and playtime. Next to the plane rides, the readjustment period was the toughest part of traveling with a little one. 

Take a travel cot

When we were booking our rooms, we decided to get family rooms or apartments; these were cheaper, and I’d have more help watching Britton. However, even the family rooms only slept four adults, which meant we’d have to rent another room just for Britton. 

Since she’s so little and she can sleep just about anywhere, we decided to purchase a toddler travel cot (we used the Regalo My Cot Deluxe, which I can't say enough good things about). At only $27, this was an awesome investment, and she loved her special bed. Since it had such a small profile, we could put it next to my bed, so Britton felt safe and secure in an otherwise unfamiliar room.

I liked that it was soft and comfortable, it only weighed a few pounds, it collapsed easily, and it came with an attached pillow and sleeping bag. 

Work some teaching moments into your trip

At 2-4, your child isn’t going to remember everything about the trip—and that’s okay. This age is all about living in the moment and appreciating what’s directly in front of you.

However, this age group is amazing in that they are constantly soaking up what they’re seeing, hearing, and doing. Britton was in love with the castles that we visited, probably because they reminded her of Walt Disney World. Even after she realized that Mickey Mouse wasn’t popping out of the castle door, she still liked learning about King Ludwig (who lived at three of the castles we visited: Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, and Linderhof).

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Braving the rain and fog at Neuschwanstein Castle on one of Britton's favorite days of sightseeing
We found her a free pamphlet at Linderhof with his picture on it and told her a little bit about King Ludwig. By the time we’d visited all three places, she was able to tell us that King Ludwig lived in three castles. We heard, “I love King Ludwig!” more than once on the trip! 

She was also amazed at the Glockenspiel (which she still calls the “Clock-and-spell”), and tell us regularly that it goes “ding dong!” 

These types of experiences excited our toddler so much that, even three weeks after we’ve returned home, she asks to go back to Germany at least once a day!
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Have you traveled with young kids before? What’s your best tip?


Booking.com


This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
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14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com

Is anyone else stunned that it's already November? Once that calendar flips over after Halloween, I start to panic a little because the holiday season is upon me again. It's time for family get-togethers, office parties, and present exchanges, so you and I better start thinking about our gift lists. 

If you love to travel or if you're buying for someone who does, I've got you covered with these seriously fantastic gift ideas. And, if there's anything left over in your budget, you can always send one or two of them to me, too!

1) Travel Magazine Subscription

$5-$20 per year

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com

It's never too early to start thinking about your next trip! These gorgeous glossy mags will help your favorite traveler figure out his or her destinations for 2016: Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Afar.


2) Secret Travel Scarf

$20-$22

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com

One of these went with me on my trip to Luxembourg and Germany, and I cannot say enough good things about it! I loved being able to toss my passport and extra money into the small pocket: for the first time ever, I wasn't paranoid about being pickpocketed. The scarves come in all sorts of fabrics, so you could get one for tropical trips and another for cooler destinations. Read my review here.


3) Cute travel mugs

$9.99 and up

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
London Underground mug | Oh Darling mug: Etsy shop Exaltation | Multicolor world map mug: Etsy shop Doufaith

If I can't travel, the next best thing is thinking about travel. These adorable mugs will let you ponder your past and future trips over a cup of coffee or tea. Plus, this one changes colors based on the temperature of the liquid inside (tell me that's not cool!):
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
Think Geek Day and Night mug

4) iPhone DSLR lenses

$25-$200
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo of Techo lens via}
If your favorite travelers want better pictures but don't want to purchase a DSLR, these lens kits are the perfect gift (see one by iPro here, a less expensive option from Olloclip here, and an even cheaper option from Techo here). All of the lenses attach directly to the iPhone. Since they're so small, they'd take up little to no room when they're packed.

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via Etsy shop Kreations by Kiara}
This is the cutest little necklace that would complement any wardrobe. I don't know what I love more: the quote from Dr. Seuss or the tiny passport charm. 

6) Sseko sandals

$57
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}
I came across these earlier this year, and I am in love! As a minimalistic packer, I'm all for any product that can be used in multiple ways, and these sandals deliver. Pack a few colors of ribbon, practice your different tying techniques, and there's no need to put any other shoes in your case for that tropical vacation.

7) Luggage tags

$9.39-$25
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
Leather luggage tag: Etsy shop Exsect | Wood luggage tag: Etsy shop Mile Nine | Map luggage tag: Etsy shop Marmaline
You can't ever have too many luggage tags! Stick a few of these cuties into your nomad's stocking, and you'll have one happy traveler on your hands.

8) Subscription boxes

Price varies on type of box and number of months ordered; most boxes average $20/ month

A photo posted by Try The World (@trytheworld) on


Getting a present is fun, but getting a present in the mail for every month is even better. With a global-themed subscription box, you can keep the holiday spirit alive long after you put up the tinsel and lights.

Try the World and Grub Box sends you snacks, jams, crackers, and more to sample from different countries. If you've got a sweet tooth, try out BoCandy, where you'll get treats from all corners of the globe. Disney lovers might like the official Disney Park Pack.

9) Compass cufflinks

$22.72
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via Etsy shop SuedeSentiment}
My husband decided a few years back that he loves french cuff shirts, so I've been on the hunt for cool cufflinks ever since. I think he'd love these silver compass cufflinks--they make a statement without being too flashy. 

10) Scratch off map

$18.14
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

If there's one thing that any traveler loves, it's the ability to show off where they've been. This map would make for one cool conversation starter! Best of all, it's inexpensive, so you can get one for all of your travel buddies.

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}
Another great stocking stuffer, these stick-on nail designs will let your favorite traveler show off her wanderlust in style.

14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via Etsy shop JewelryFineandDandy}
I can't resist a good pair of studs these days (my toddler thinks it's hilarious to pull on my dangly earrings--ow!), and these earrings by Etsy shop JewelryFineandDandy would make an awesome gift to fellow travelers. Plus, these tiny compasses actually work! 

13) Global Monopoly games

$20+
14 Awesome Gifts for the Traveler in Your Life | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via Amazon.com}
Game night just went global with these fun takes on the classic board game. Bayern, Cambridge, Canada, Edinburgh, Las Vegas, the U.S. National Parks, and New York City have all gotten the Monopoly treatment. If one of your favorite locales isn't listed here, no worries! There are over 80 different Monopoly options, so you're sure to find something that your favorite traveler will love.


14) Mirrorless camera

$628
{photo via}
I know that this camera made the list last year, too, but I'm still in love with my Sony A6000 after all this time. After owning a DSLR and constantly complaining about the size and weight, this teeny camera is the best thing that ever happened to my travel photography. It takes great pictures, and I actually want to haul it around. Get this for that extra super special traveler in your life.

If you need even more gift ideas, see my travel-themed gift guide from 2014.

Which of these would you be excited to get or give? What travel-related gift would you add to the list?

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.
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15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com

Located near the Rocky Mountains, Denver, Colorado, is probably best known for its skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. While the gorgeous scenery is a major draw for visitors, the Mile High City also has some renowned museums and performing art centers that shouldn't be missed. 

While you're in Denver, make sure to plan some time away from the ski slopes and hiking trails, and expand your knowledge of Colorado arts and culture. 


15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via CherokeeRanch.org}
1. Cherokee Ranch and Castle
This protected wildlife sanctuary spans 3,400 acres and is established on two former homesteads. Stop by for a public tour on most Thursdays and Saturdays to explore Cherokee Castle and learn about how the foundation is protecting this incredible piece of land. 

2. Sie Film Center
Foreign and domestic, short films and full-length features: the Sie Film Center brings a little bit of everything to Denver. Showings are only $7 and there's free parking in the garage. Don't miss the center's film festival in November, where you can catch showings of over 250 films. 

3. Blake Street Vault
Now a restaurant and bar, the Blake Street Vault has an extensive history dating back to 1863: the property has served as a saloon, a liquor distribution center, cigar factory, machine shop, and a costume design shop. Take a private tour to see the secret basement vault and old tunnels, but beware: you might run into the resident ghost, Lydia!

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr user Daniel Jeffries | creative commons}
4. American Museum of Western Art
See the West through the eyes of artists over the last two centuries at this museum. The Anschutz Collection is housed in the beautiful Navarre Building, which dates to 1880. The Artful Insights program helps visitors learn more about a particular artist or movement: participating is a great way to deepen your art history knowledge quickly.

5. Denver Art Museum
One of the largest art collections in the Midwest, the Denver Art Museum offers collections in photography, pre-Colombian art, American Indian art, and more. From Claude Monet's Waterlilies to Winslow Homer's Two Figures by the Sea to Jim Green's Singing Sinks, there's enough here to capture your imagination for hours.

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr user Corey Thompson | creative commons}
6. Red Rocks Park and Ampitheatre
This open air venue has hosted performances for more than 100 years! Located 10 miles from Denver, Red Rocks is a beloved spot for musical performances, weddings, worship services, and races. Before visiting Denver, check the calendar to see what's on while you're visiting.

7. Black American West Museum
Learn how African Americans helped to define the West in the 1800s in this fascinating museum. It is housed in Dr. Justina Ford's home; Dr. Ford was Denver's only female doctor until the 1930s. Today, you can learn about her contributions, as well as those of the "Black Cowboys," teachers, miners, and soldiers. 

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr user Kirk Stevens | creative commons}
8. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Founded in 1996, this museum is the only one in Denver solely dedicated to showcasing contemporary artwork. Explore the 27,000 foot space and discover the artists who are revolutionizing the current art world. 

9. Aurora History Museum
Take a look into the history of Aurora (located about half an hour outside of Denver) and the state of Colorado in this ever-changing museum. See collections of housewares, clothing, photographic equipment, and more, most of which was donated by Aurora residents.

10. First Friday Art Walks
Start your weekend off with some culture! Explore each of Denver's seven art districts (Art District on Sante Fe, Golden Triangle Museum District, River North Art District, Tennyson Street Cultural District, Block 7 Arts, Navajo Street Arts District, and South Pearl Street) on a guided walk. You'll get to sample some great food and drinks, listen to live music, and meet the artists behind the works. 

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr user Andy Smith | creative commons}
11. Colorado Railroad Museum
Step inside the replica 1880s railroad station to learn about the past. You'll be able to see photographs from Colorado's past, explore a reconstructed telegraph office, and see miniatures of the state's rail history. The onsite roundhouse shows off the museum's collection of locomotives and the working turntable.

12. Cussler Museum
Author Clive Cussler has assembled a collection of over 100 vintage cars in this museum. Marvel over a 1929 Duesenberg, a 1931 Chrysler Imperial Limousine, and more. 

13. Adams Mystery Playhouse
Whodunit? You'll have the chance to find out every Friday and Saturday night at this fun dinner show. Located in a former mortuary, the playhouse has special holiday shows, as well as family-friendly events.

14. Colorado Music Festival
Each summer, this festival brings the best of classical music to the Mile High City. You'll find performances of both traditional classical music and interpretations of world music. 

15 Places to Find Arts + Culture in Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr user Ryan Spickard | creative commons}
15. Colorado Shakespeare Festival
The third largest Shakespeare Festival in the U.S., this festival is presented by the drama department at Colorado University. Five plays are chosen for each season (which runs from June to August) and are performed in a beautiful outdoor setting. 

After experiencing all of these museums, sites, and performances, you'll need a comfortable, quiet place to rest. There are Denver hotels for every taste and budget located near all of these sights. 

Have you visited Denver? What did you enjoy doing there?
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8 Must-Do Things to Do in Jamaica

8 Must-Do Things to Do in Jamaica | CosmosMariners.com

Sun, sand, and palm trees: beach holidays are one of my favorite ways to relax! When we decided to go on a cruise for our fifth anniversary, we wanted to go somewhere that had stunning natural surroundings. We ended up selecting a cruise through the Western Caribbean that stopped in Jamaica.