[separate post coming on what I pack in my travel purse...]
We picked up our rental car at the airport (both times I went to Portland I got a rental car so I'm unsure of the experience taking public transportation). Generally, it was pretty easy for us to find parking in Portland and actually only paid for parking when we went Downtown. Other places had like 1-2 hour free parking or it was past the meter operations times so it was free.
Heart Coffee SW - Super cute and aesthetic, huge windows to bring in natural light, consistent coffee. They also had personal tables outside. Ideal place to spend some alone time or to do some light reading.
We walked about half a mile to a Blue Star to get some pre-breakfast donuts (very normal). One Blueberry Basil because it's a classic and we basic, and one Buttermilk Old Fashion because, old fashion donuts are the best. I don't mean to hype it up, but the Buttermilk Old Fashion is the best old fashion I've ever had.
Breakfast @ Maurice. I had no idea what to expect. We got their open faced sandwich (daily special) that included shrimp in a white sauce, greens, grapes, and roe. Even when I got the food I didn't know what to expect, but when I took a bite, I was thoroughly impressed and pleased with the taste of it. We didn't get a chance to try anything else but their desserts and pastries looked really good so I'd recommend trying that!
We walked around SW until it was time to check into our AirBnB in NE where we knocked out for a bit before we were so tired, not to mention that the weather was high-80s.
Once we freshened up we made our way to Stanich's where we had Nick's cheeseburger with grilled onions as our pre-dinner. I'd seen them featured as the #1 best burger Thrillist's quest for the best burger article. It took a while for us to get our food since multiple parties had sat down the same time we did and there was one server for the entire establishment. We finally got our food and it didn't look all that special, but it indeed was good. My friend described it as a lesser version of In-N-Out, which is quite agreeable.
On our way to dinner, we made a spontaneous pitstop at Hollywood Vintage. It ended up being such a cool place to explore- I'm so happy we found it even though I didn't buy anything. They have a room dedicated to sunglasses, and a huge space dedicated to costumes!
Dinner was at an up-and-coming, new and trendy, 'hot and new,' Korean fusion restaurant called Han Oak. It's the house of the chef, converted into an open-kitchen, open space restaurant where half of the seating is indoors and half outdoors. We had to make reservations a month before we got to Portland. The space was nicely done, considering it's also a house for a family of 4. We had their prix fixe Chef's dinner for $45 pp. A good amount of the dishes had a twist to its traditional counterpart, so it forced me to be open to new tastes.
We spent the evening at a super local music festival called PDX Pop Now. We got to see 3 bands throughout our event there. A very eclectic group of people, I will say. But I don't think we would've gotten a more authentic Portland experience have we not gone. The picture below was taken in some guy's van, which sounds very shady HAHA, but he's trying to upgrade his van to make it one of those event photobooths.
The night ended with a 30 minute line to Salt & Straw, naturally.
Brunch @ Helser's on Alberta. We got their Bacon & Cheese Hash + French Toast. I thought the hash was super on point and delicious. I was so full by the time I had my first bite of the French Toast but thought it was way too sweet for my liking anyways. I think it's so easy to get multiple dishes when in Portland because the food is generally cheaper than the Bay Area, but you forget how much darn food they give you. We probably had leftover at least half the time we ate out, and could never finish our leftovers.
Sunday service was spent at Bridgetown Church. It was such a great experience- the pastor and community all seem so solid and we were really blessed during our time there. Highly recommended!
The evening was spent on SE side. We put our names down for Pok Pok, and walked around the neighborhood for an hour. Had pre-dinner at OP Wurst. I could totally see myself going there often if I lived in PDX. Indoor and outdoor seating, sausage and beer, corn hole and a ping pong table. Looks like a potential Friday night spot for me. We finally got our table at Pok Pok and immediately ordered their famous wings + a papaya salad. Maybe I'm a wimp but I thought their papaya salad was so spicy (my friend begs to differ); but their wings were amazinggggg. Did not expect them to be so freaking good... Two thumbs up.
We picked up some coffee + a quick breakfast sandwich before making our drive to Multnomah Falls. We made a pitstop at Vista House and probably spent almost half an hour there, enjoying the view, taking photos, looking through the house, and restroom break (because Multnomah Falls usually have longer restroom lines). We got to Multnomah around 10:30am, and waited only a few minutes for parking. We went up to the bridge, and hiked a little more up. By the time we were walking back to the car, there were two cars fighting for our spot, and a never ending crazy long line of cars trying to get into this small parking lot... We were relieved to have gone early enough not to struggle. If you have a car, I highly recommend going to the Falls!
Once we got back to Downtown PDX, we put our names down for Tasty & Alder, which took about an hour. We spent that time exploring Powell's City of Books. It's a magical place filled with... well, books. I was personally disappointed by my meal at Tasty & Alder because the food was so salty and unfamiliar. Tasty Hangtown Fry was an open faced omelette, fried oysters, bacon lardons, cheddar, and a buttermilk biscuit. Just thinking about this dish gives me food coma. We also got potato bravas as an appetiser and that was pretty yummy.
As if that wasn't enough food, we got dessert at Waffle Window. We went home and I immediately took a nap. The evening was spent at the Rose Test Garden, which was obviously gorgeous. It was my second time there but still as stunning as the first.
We got pre-dinner at Anna Thai Basil food cart in downtown Portland. It was crazy cheap and I'm definitely going there again. Actual dinner was at Nudi Noodle, which was a mainly Thai restaurant with other Asian fusion influences. I got their kimchi udon which was pretty good! We picked up a bottle of beer each from a local craft beer store and called it a night.
Since this was both of our second times in Portland, I think both of us were a lot more lax and also wanted a taste of the local experience. There are still so so many places I didn't get to go that I have on my list for next time! I'm sharing MY PDX MAP in case anyone needs suggestions but I'd love to hear if anyone has been to places off this list so I can add more places.
Some flights may make you take a layover in another city before you get to your destination. Direct flights are probably ideal but I know they can also be more expensive. On the bright side, it can be nice to have a meal and stretch break in the middle of a long flight, and gives you an opportunity to explore the airport or city (if you have more time).
General rule of thumb: anything under 6 hours, you want to fly direct.
If you do have to take a layover, consider the transfer time. I say give yourself at least one hour of wait time in case your first flight is delayed, you need to get something figured out, you need to buy some water and food, etc. Things come up and because boarding happens generally thirty minutes prior to takeoff, better safe than sorry. I would actually go and say an hour and a half is good. I try to find layovers around 2 hours which gives me plenty of time to use the restroom, grab a quick bite, freshen up, walk around the airport, and find my transfer gate if it's at a different gate, which brings me to my next point.
If your layover is longer than 3.5 hours, consider going outside and exploring if the city centre isn't too far from the airport, especially if your luggage will meet you at the final destination! Do consider the time it'll take you to come back and get back in the security line though.
Depending on the flight, your transfer flight might be on the same plane and same gate, or different plane in a different gate. Be attentive to what your flight details read, and what your flight attendants say during landing. If it's a huge airport, it might even be in another terminal so always allow yourself extra time should things come up and you're not scrambling last minute to find your next flight.
If you can help it, avoid flights with more than 1 layover. You're going to be exhausted and that may cost you some of your trip. Remember: we want to maximise your time and enjoyment on your travels!
My piece of advice: DON'T DO IT.
Call me high maintenance, but I can't sleep comfortably at all on overnight layovers. It's cold, the chairs are stiff, you're constantly worried if someone might steal your stuff, some airports don't allow you to sleep so you have security waking you up every couple of hours, and people coming in and out of the gates. You barely get enough sleep by the time you need to line up for your flight and if you're anything like me, you end up grouchy and groggy, and you only see the negative in things until you recoup some of that sleep. It's just an overall highly undesired experience, which will likely affect your first day traveling.
If you have an overnight layover, this site will give you the 411 on WiFi, where you can sleep, and other good tips on specific airports..
If you MUST do an overnight layover, I really recommend reserving a room at a hotel with free shuttles that will take you to the hotel in case taxi service is out (if you arrive really late). At least you'll get some sleep in a private, semi-comfortable bed. If not, this page has good tips on sleeping at the airport overnight.
My logic: Most likely, the cost of a hotel will be around the much you'd be saving if you don't take the overnight layover, so just get tickets with a short transfer and be happy. (:
Let me say this: If you travel at least three times a year, and tend to be a sleeper on the plane, I'd recommend getting a travel neck pillow!
This is my review for the trtl pillow. Link below if you want to purchase!
why i love it...
NOT the best fit if you...
the bottom line
Overall, I'd recommend this pillow to anyone looking for a solid neck pillow, especially if they're looking for something compact. It's not the answer to all of your problems, but it's definitely a great starter pillow.
Be on the lookout for more reviews for more neck pillows + travel items!
What are the benefits?
where do i sign up?!
You can register here.
*Pro-tip If you're going to apply to TSA Pre-check, might as well apply to the Global Entry program(cut the international entry line), which also gives you pre-check as a benefit. It's $100 for 5 years vs. $84 for 5 years for Pre-check only.
Learn more about the Global Entry program here.
Whether you apply for TSA Pre-check or Global Entry, you'll need to go through the approval process, which includes a background check to be pre-approved, then setting up an appointment at one of the centres (usually an airport) and should be approved or denied on the spot. Once approved, you'll get your KTN (known traveler number) on the spot, and your identification card mailed in a few weeks.
Keep reading if you want it FOR FREE...
yup, i said free.
Some credit cards reimburse you the $100 application fee for Global Entry. Find the list of credit cards here. I personally have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and it's great).
Obviously I'm not saying open up a credit card just to get this, but if you're thinking of getting a card, or have one of those cards and haven't used this benefit yet, something to consider. I'd go through Nerdwallet, CreditCards.com, or thePointsGuy to learn more about different offerings.
i've been approved, now what?
Once you've been approved, make sure all of your airlines/agencies have your KTN on your profiles to have them automatically applied to future flights. For existing flights, you'll need to find a way to apply the numbers manually (either online or over the phone).
Your ticket should have a sign notifying you that you can go through the TSA pre-check line; otherwise, you can check on this website to see if that airlines at the airport will have a separate line: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/map . Quick note: TSA Pre-check is a US program so it's only available in the States.
Don't go to the airport thinking every airline will have this. I went to a local airport of mine later than usual thinking I still had plenty of time because of TSA pre. Turns out that the terminal for my airline did not have a line so I barely made it! Better safe than sorry- check the map before you leave.
Thanks to many friends who have gone before me and discovered great places and passed those suggestions onto me, here is my map of Seoul. I absolutely recommend you make a copy of the map so you can add what you need, delete what you don't want, etc. For example, probably good for you to pin your hotel or AirBnB. Another reason I tell people to make their own copy is so you can access it straight on your phone or tablet via Google Maps by going to the Settings icon --> Your places --> Maps, et viola!
PLEASE don't not live off of this map. There is crazy good food in Korea ALL around you.
Support mom&pop shops & small businesses!!
Some recommended musts in Korea:
Let's collaborate! I've enabled comments on this post so you can suggest more places people would like. (:
things to consider...
travel bucket list
Me being me, I organise everything. One of many lists includes all of the places I want to visit one day, and all the places I've been, timestamped. You don't need to be as OCD as me, but just like you have a life bucket list, or goals at work, I'd recommend you also keep a bucket list of places to explore to remind yourself what you have to look forward to.
Set a goal for yourself
Personally, my goal is:
Your travel goal can be as simple as 1 domestic trip a year, and 1 international every 5 years! No matter what the ratio may be, set it for yourself so you have something to work towards!
Not everyone has unlimited PTO! But you can still travel by thinking smart: Look through your work holidays (or academic calendars in you're still in school), and find holidays that may be good for you to leave town. They may be holidays you don't necessarily observe, or holidays that give you a longer weekends that save you days off.
[Fair warning: expect your destination to have more people than usual during peak seasons and big holidays... but that you're trade-off to make to conserve your PTO and go during busy times; or to use your PTO and travel to places with less people and less lines.]
If you're traveling for work, coordinate with your manager/HR to see if you can get your trip extended (you'll probably have to pay a bit out-of-pocket for your return flight, but at least you're getting a departure flight for FREE).
Be creative and make the most out of the limited days you may have to travel!