Alyssa J Freitas

January 24, 2017

Scenes of Winter 2016-2017

This week I'm taking a quick break from the California series, but don't worry because next week I'll be back with our complete itinerary and tips for planning your own big adventure! Today I'm sharing my Scenes of Winter 2016-2017 video with you and I am really pleased with how it turned out (plus, most of it includes my trip to California so this is not too much of a break from the series haha). I'm still trying to find the balance between filming and experiencing life because as much as I value having this record, more often than not I find myself deciding not to pull out my camera because I just want to enjoy what I am doing and who I am with.

You can check out my other videos of my sales competition, summer, and fall, as well as subscribe to my YouTube channel to be kept up to date!

Do you have any tips for balancing vlogging/compilation making and experiencing life in the moment? I'd really love to know how to do both well!


January 19, 2017

California Winter Packing List

Winter break in California sounds like it would be a warm, sunny paradise, right? Well, I suppose that depends on where exactly you're going to be in the large state of so much weather variety! This packing list is what I included in my recent trip to San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Big Sur (check out the first post in my California series about how to travel with friends without going crazy).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Heading to California in the winter? Find out exactly what should be on your packing list and in your suitcase
When packing there are two major considerations: weather and activities. I am not the type of person to pack for a trip too far in advance (probably because I don't want things packed away that I may decide to wear before the trip), but this also has the added benefit of allowing me to get the most recent weather information before heading out. When it comes to activities, that is mapped out way in advance so I already have an idea on that front.

For this particular trip during the second week of January the forecast called for highs in the mid-50s and our activities were a mix of exploring towns and cities, hiking, and horseback riding. We were gone for 5 nights and the goal was to travel with just a carry-on bag so we didn't have to deal with checking luggage.

In my suitcase for clothing I included:
  • A pair of jeans
  • Leggings
  • A black skirt
  • A rain coat
  • A sweatshirt
  • PJs
  • A lightweight scarf
  • Three teeshirts: white, gray, and white with navy striped sleeves
  • A blue button down
  • A white three-quarter length shirt
  • 1 bikini 
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • An extra bra
  • 8 pairs of socks, 1 pair of tights
  • 1 pair of sneakers
For personal items I brought:
  • Everyday makeup
  • Facewash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair brush, comb, and a few extra bobby pins and elastics  
On the plane I brought a book and journal, headphones, my phone charger, and some snacks. I carried a small leather backpack for all of the trip and traveled in jeans, leather boots, a striped navy blue and white boat shirt, a black jacket, and an orange heavier coat.

This packing list allowed me to have an outfit for each day with some room to mix and match with bottoms. I only ended up wearing one pair of jeans (although I was happy to have another pair in case I got them dirty because jeans were my go to this trip), I did not wear the skirt and tights, and I sadly did not get to use my bikini (I was holding out hope for a hot tub situation to arise haha). Looking back it would have been good to have a pair of rain boots because our hikes included a lot of muddy conditions. Ally (my lovely travel companion and best friend) said that she would have liked to have had a pair of gloves for when we were horseback riding because the air was a bit nippy that morning.

All in all, when going to this area of California in the winter it is very mild and your best bet is to dress in layers. Remember that less is more and don't underestimate the benefit of packing light with just a carry-on.

Do you have any tried and true methods for packing? Have you visited California in the winter?


January 17, 2017

How To Travel With Friends (Without Going Crazy)

Anddddddd I'm back! After a week in California I have made my way back to the chilly east coast (and I can honestly say I missed the cold). There is so much I can't wait to share with you about the trip and all of the fun we had, as well as some bumps in the road. As Ally is still working on the photos and I have to edit all of the video footage I shot, I thought it would be best to begin the trip planning/California series with tips on how to travel with friends.

To give you a bit of background, Ally and I met in 2013 when we were both living on the same freshmen floor at our college. We have been best friends since then and knew we wanted to go on a bigger adventure with each other senior year (we've already been pretty adventurous, see skydiving as exhibit A, but exploring the west coast was a new area we wanted to take on).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Traveling with friends is a joy...and a stress. Find out how to travel with friends, without going crazy
We flew into San Francisco and then traveled down scenic highway 1 (full itinerary to come soon). The biggest realization we had over the course of the trip is that I am a city girl and Ally is a wilderness girl. Honestly, this shouldn't have been that big of a surprise, but it did have an impact on how we navigated the trip and how we each wanted to spend our time. In one of the followup posts I am going to go into determining and planning for California depending on your preferences: nature v. culture. For now, I'm just going to address how to successfully travel with a friend.

01. Set expectations

This is a BIG ONE. When traveling with someone else it is imperative to be on the same page for the goals of your trip. Are you going for relaxation? Sightseeing? A combination? Will you be getting up early? Closely following an itinerary? Going out every night? Especially if you are traveling with a small group or one other person it is so important to have clear expectations because splitting up is generally not an option.

Have a series of conversations prior to your trip where you talk about what you would like to get out of your travels and see where you may have to make some adjustments. And even before deciding if you'd like to travel together it is good to do some trial runs. Try taking a day trip and seeing if at the end you are ready to part ways or if you would still like to spend time together.

02. Make strategic decisions

Like I referenced before, Ally and I have different travel preferences; she likes to explore nature and I love cultural experiences. This means that we have to make travel decisions for our destination and activities that incorporate these elements and give us both a little of what we want. Making your preferences known when in the planning stages and making decisions that align with what you both like will make it easier to have a mutually enjoyable trip.

03. Be flexible

When you travel things go wrong. Conflicts arise, plans fall through, the weather works against you. Being with someone who will help you solve problems and who is a partner is the best way to have successful travels. Even the best laid plans cannot always work out, so being prepared to adjust course and do it with a smile on your face will make it a positive experience not only for you, but for those you are with.

04. Speak up

This is something Ally and I realized later in our trip than we should have. When it seemed like Ally was having a lot of fun doing something and I was over it, I would just keep quiet. And when I made a suggestion and Ally thought it was the only thing I wanted to do, she wouldn't say anything. This meant that we ended up doing things that we both would have preferred not to or to stay on activities longer than necessary. The moral is that kindly expressing what you want to do (and being ok with an affirmative or negative response) is important. Agreeing at the start of your trip that it is all right to say no to one another, but that asking is necessary is the best way to avoid this problem.

05. Have fun

So obvious, I know, but remembering that you are with your friend and that you can have fun no matter what is going on is the absolute best way to travel. Whether you are on the California coast in the pouring rain and mudslides (don't worry, you'll hear more about that in another post), or you are in the coolest area of San Francisco in the most beautiful weather, you can have fun. Putting pressure on yourself and friends to have a "perfect" vacation is a mistake and will end up working against you. When things are tense, take a deep breath, smile at your friend, and have fun!

What tips do you have for traveling with others?


January 5, 2017

I'll Be Back...California Road Trip

Hey there lovely readers! I don't know if I've mentioned on the blog that this month my best friend Ally and I are going on a special trip...we're flying across the country to California and then road-tripping the coast! We knew that we wanted to take a trip over winter break our senior year (the last time in the foreseeable future that we'll both have an extended amount of time off) and decided that California would be the perfect place.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! I'm getting ready to embark on a weeklong trip to California. That means I won't be around the blog for a little bit, but here's what to expect when I return
More specifically, we are flying into San Francisco then traveling down Highway 1 to hit up Big Sur, Monterey, and Carmel by the Sea. The goal was to merge Ally's photographic interests (she's the absolute best with a camera, take a look!) with my desire to explore out a new city, so this is what we came up with.
As of now we've spent under $900 on our flight, a rental car, and 5 nights of hotels so I would say that our budget traveling is more than fair! Once we come back I'll do a series of posts about how to plan for a trip, recommendations for California along with our complete itinerary, tips for traveling with a friend, packing lists, and a recap of our experiences. I am so excited to share everything with you.

Since I will be traveling for the entirety of next week there won't be any blog posts coming up until January 17th. Make sure to follow along with my California adventures on Instagram in the meantime while you anxiously await my return ;)

See you in two weeks!!!!!!


January 3, 2017

Minimalism: A Documentary Review

For quite some time now I have been taken with the idea of minimalism and have made a study of the movement and virtues of this intentional way of life. From my one year shopping ban, to my numerous posts on how to take a minimalist approach in a variety of areas of life (technology, gift giving, personal care), it is clear that minimalism is a true way of life for me and is something I am always seeking to learn more about.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Is the new documentary out on Netflix from the Minimalists worth your time? Read this review to find out
Just as I find there are some misconceptions with the purpose and benefits of etiquette, I have realized that not everyone fully understands minimalism. The word may cause you to think of white walls and nearly empty spaces in a Scandinavian style. Perhaps you think of an ascetic who only allows the most basic necessities into his or her life. While minimalism can certainly be applied to these ideas, at its essence minimalism is a way to streamline and downsize to focus on the essential and make room for what adds true value to your life.

There are two gentlemen, Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus who call themselves "The Minimalists." After starting a blog, followed by books and a podcast, they have most recently released a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (on Netflix now!).

I was so disappointed when tickets to the screening in New York City were sold out, but it was still exciting to watch it on Netflix the day it was released. In fact, I woke up extra early that morning because I was so anxious to see it.

What I particularly enjoyed about the movie was the number of other people they had involved through interviews and profiles. Getting to learn more about the different ways that people embrace a minimalist lifestyle and what it means to them was fascinating and a great way to get ideas for my own life.

It was also interesting to heat the perspectives of people who have actually made a study of the consumeristic nature of America and our use of resources and space. Both my mother and I agree that one of the most powerful elements of the film was when a hear map was shown of an average house and you were able to see how much of the space is actually used on an average day. Living in an appropriate size space does not seem to be the goal anymore; rather, we look for the biggest space we can get without regard as to if we really need it.

While there were many things I enjoyed, I will say that it did get repetitive. Just like with many of the books I read I felt that the same ideas could be conveyed effectively in less time (or pages, when I'm reading haha). Also, scenes of black Friday shopping, while impactful, were certainly overused.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and reccommend it to anyone who has even the slightest interest in learning more about minimalism.

Have you watched the movie yet? What did you think?