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A few weekends ago I visited Puerto Rico for the first time since 2007. On my first visit to the American territory, I was captivated with the culture—even if the trip was brief. During this trip, I had the time and opportunity to explore even more of Puerto Rican culture and I spent a lot of time just wandering.

Like any Caribbean island, the culture of Puerto Rico is rich. There’s a color and vibrancy not just in the place, but in the people. In the past few years, Puerto Rico has been hit with a number of different crises, but what I found on my weekend trip from NYC was an island full of life and energy. And plenty of rich, bold colors.

I’ve shared a few of my special Puerto Rico moments & highlights already on Instagram, but I want to provide you with a taste of the island—what it looks like today.

My visit to Puerto Rico was sponsored in part by the Coqui del Mar Guest House. Look out for a full review, story, and photos from the gay-owned guest house in upcoming posts.

Puerto Rico Photo Moments A glimpse of San Juan—what it looks like today

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Before I had my first facial, I honestly had no clue what to expect. I’ve seen facials listed on every spa men I’ve ever been to, and while I do care about my skincare regimen, I honestly never wanted to choose the facial when at the spa. What would they say about my skincare routine? Would it hurt? Would it even help?

Well, I let those worries and lack of information keep me from ever even trying a facial. That is until recently, when I was invited by Harrys to try their newest mens grooming product, a Detoxifying Face Mask. They partnered with Heyday Skincare—a surprisingly popular shop & spa with six locations across NYC and LA. 

Always curious, but also needlessly anxious—I simply just avoided facials. At home, I use a toner, moisturizer, the occasional face mask, and whatever free samples of skincare products I can find…but truthfully I never really know what I’m doing. Why doesn’t anyone ever teach us these kinds of life skills?!

Thankfully, as soon as I walked into the Heyday Noho location, my worries washed away. The thought of a fresh face and an hour of treatment was comforting. I was struck by how bright and open the small space was. A large banner outside made the shopfront recognizable from afar. And the front desk and waiting room wasn’t crowded.

The check-in process was easy—a handful of questions on an iPad about your current skincare routine and general health (nothing different than visiting any other spa for any other kind of treatment). After that, I was brought back to my treatment room. Semi-private with a curtain for a door, my esthetician offered a glass of water & a place to charge my phone.

Harrys Heyday Detoxifying Face Mask

I laid down on the treatment/massage bed, face up (obviously). Because I was there for a 50-minute facial, there was plenty of time to get to know one another. I asked my esthetician to explain what she was doing as she was doing it which was really helpful. Similarly, she asked more questions about my own skincare routines to get a better understanding of what I do regularly, and what I could improve.

Helpful!

Below: a mini-guide to getting a facial, including tips before and after to make the process as comfortable as possible for anyone looking to treat themselves to a first facial.

What Guys Need to Know Before Getting Their First Facial

In the past year, I’ve found myself increasingly obsessed with health and beauty. Maybe because it seems like the world is falling apart, and so self-care feels like a healthy way to stay sane and still enjoy life. Or maybe it’s because at the heart of NYC is a capitalistic obsession for wealth and beauty. Whichever. But I’m here for it!

Getting a facial is a simple and easy process. Here are some tips for before, during, and after the process!

  1. Don’t exfoliate for several days before your facial. It’s better to save it for the experts.
  2. Be open and honest with your esthetician on your skin goals. The more they know, the more advice they can give.
  3. You can get a facial as frequent as you like, but quarterly (with the change of season) is probably a safe bet. The weather affects your skin and should similarly affect your skincare routine.
  4. Extractions (where estheticians deep clean your pores and remove pimples) are painless, but you may still leave a bit red in the face.
  5. Follow a routine! After your facial, stick with a skincare regimen to maximize the benefits.

After my facial, I felt surprisingly pretty! Taking care of our bodies is important—and a lot of things we often overlook. But remember: our skin is our largest organ—and taking care of it doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. A few simple things each day, and the occasional splurge, and you can feel more confident and actually, physically healthier.

Get a FREE $10 for your first visit to Heyday salons by mentioning my name Adam Groffman / Travels of Adam

Note: my visit to Heyday Skincare was complimentary as part of a press preview.

The post Getting a Facial at the Heyday Skincare Spa – Tips for a First Timer appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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The Brooklyn Promenade has some of the best views of Manhattan

With over two million people living in the borough, Brooklyn is New York City’s most populated part of the city—but strangely, a lot of visitors and many Manhattanites don’t know much about it. Brooklyn’s big culture and attitude is reflected in its diversity of people, cuisine, and even languages. Many of the distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods are recognized as ethnic enclaves, hubs of a particular culture.

Brooklyn is easily accessible from Manhattan, most famously from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, though there are subways and other bridges connecting Brooklyn to the other NYC boroughs. Because of its unique location in close proximity to Manhattan, and its many distinct cultures, however, Brooklyn has blossomed as its own formidable destination. And the many cultural changes in the borough have given rise to more open and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ travelers.

THE WEEKEND GUIDE TO BROOKLYN Things to Do

Visiting Brooklyn is easy, and while some might be turned off from the borough’s history as a place for trouble, these days most of Brooklyn is accessible and great for tourism. From acclaimed cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park (designed by the same landscape architects who created Manhattan’s Central Park), plus new cultural highlights in the hipster scenes of North Brooklyn, Brooklyn is a gem. In the past year, the Brooklyn Museum has had a number of impressive exhibits including one on David Bowie, and currently one on Frida Kahlo.

Brooklyn Museum

In North Brooklyn, don’t miss the neighborhoods of Willamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. Home to many artists and musicians (and their subsequent studios and cheap-but-cool coffee shops), the area is great for urban exploration. The Bushwick Collective is responsible for much of the colorful street art you’ll find on a 4-block radius around the Jefferson stop on the L train.

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a great activity, and if you walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn, you can also explore the Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO area—great for finding pop-up art and thrift shops at the Brooklyn Flea Market.

Pizza at Sottocasa Where to Eat

As the hipster hub of NYC (and maybe the world), Brooklyn’s neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are especially popular for foodies. Open only in the summer, the Brooklyn Barge Bar serves cheap eats and cold drinks on a barge floating in the East River. And the nearby Manhattan Avenue is home to a number of great food spots of many different cuisines.

The cozy Mexican restaurant Calexico serves the classics (like fish tacos), but plenty of innovative and exciting dishes such as a crispy brussels sprouts with peanut-chile salsa. And don’t miss the Calexico happy hour for the best deals on their margaritas (including a delicious jalapeño one).

Calexico Restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

No trip to NYC is complete without some pizza. Grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg—plenty of celebrities order their pies here. Or for something a bit more contemporary, plan a night out at Roberta’s Pizzeria in Bushwick—a trendy pizzeria that also feels a lot like a dive bar, but serves one of Brooklyn’s best pizzas.

In Bushwick, don’t miss the budget-friendly Los Hermanos taqueria—a BYOB (bring your own beer) establishment that’s crowded all day and night. They make their tortillas on-site. For a little bit more romantic dining, the nearby Sea Wolf restaurant serves oysters and other seafood and usually has a DJ on weekends, making it an equally cool place to stop for a drink either before or after eating.

Gumbo Bros Restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn

In Downtown Brooklyn, you’ll find excellent Italian-style pizza at Sottocasa, great creole cuisine at The Gumbo Bros, Cuban food at Habana Outpost, and a huge variety of trendy options from craft pickles to Bahn-mi sandwiches and Berlin döner at the DeKalb Market Hall.

Macri Park – gay bar in Williamsburg Where to Drink and Party

While a lot of the NYC gay nightlife is over in Manhattan, Brooklyn still has a stronghold on the queer nightlife. Brooklyn’s most popular gay bar is Metropolitan—a dive bar with events all week long and drag shows just about every night (and a great happy hour special). Even when there isn’t a show on, you’re likely to bump into some of your favorite RuPaul queens while at Metro. Just down the street is the equally divey (and more affordable) Macri Park; people shuttle between the two depending upon the crowds at each.

Brooklyn Pride takes place each June along 5th Ave in Park Slope

Nearby, The Rosemont is a newer gay bar that rarely charges a cover fee and feels a lot more casual and comfortable than the scene-y Metro. There’s a spacious patio in the back and often drag shows and other events taking place on the tiny dance floor.

HARDER gay party (monthly) in Brooklyn

For clubs, Bushwick’s House of Yes is a perennial favorite. They host a monthly queer party called Bad Behavior, but all their parties are always a bit queer and always LGBTQ-welcoming. Expect costumes, glitter, and disco balls no matter when you visit. Same goes for the larger Elsewhere club a few blocks away.

Further out in Brooklyn, the new gay club 3 Dollar Bill hosts a variety of techno queer parties and occasional big-ticket events. The club space veers masculine but parties are welcoming and they have a strict no-phone policy while in the club, so it’s the type of place where you can easily make new friends.

Branded Saloon gay bar in Prospect Heights

In south Brooklyn, there’s a monthly queer dance party at Littlefield called Be Cute—a small indie club and event space that also hosts LGBTQ stand-up comedy nights. On the popular street 5th Ave in Park Slope, bars Excelsior and Ginger’s are popular LGBTQ clubs (Excelsior more for men and Ginger’s more for lesbians). Other bars in the area like Commonwealth and Branded Saloon regularly host queer events.

Inside my hotel suite at The Tillary Hotel Where to Stay

One of the first things I learned about Brooklyn when I first moved to the area (besides the fact that finding Brooklyn sublets can be tricky!), is that this borough is BIG. Each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe and culture, and getting from one end of the borough to another can often be challenging.

Part of that is because every subway route in the NYC MTA system goes to Manhattan except the G train. So if you’re in the south of Brooklyn looking to get up north, sometime the fastest way is to take a train across the river into Manhattan, change to another line, and head back across the river to north Brooklyn. It doesn’t make much sense and so that’s why so many in the borough end up using Uber and Lyft to get around. When you’re looking for a Brooklyn hotel, make sure to do some research and make sure you’re in the neighborhood you want to be nearest to.

The Tillary Hotel lobby

Convenience and location makes The Tillary Hotel (a World Pride partner hotel) a great option for a Brooklyn hotel. It’s located in Downtown Brooklyn, walking distance to some of the best touristic sights in the borough including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Promenade, and the lovely Fort Greene Park. Rooms are spacious and the lobby has an open public space with lots of board games (including an oversized Scrabble board).

Even if you’re not staying at The Tillary Hotel, their second floor bar boasts a large outdoor patio and strong cocktails. From The Tillary, you can easily reach the LGBTQ nightlife in both Park Slope (Excelsior, Ginger’s), the gay bars in Crown Heights & Bed-Stuy, and the bigger gay clubs in Williamsburg. From The Tillary, you’re only a 15-minute subway ride into Manhattan as well. Check The Tillary Hotel rates on Booking.com here.

For another option, the BKLYN House Hotel offers comfortable guest rooms in a sleek, modern setting. Amenities on-site are relatively basic, but it’s in a convenient location to some of Brooklyn’s best nightlife in the north including the coolest bars and restaurants in Bushwick. The hotel is connected to Manhattan along a direct train line. Check BKLYN House Hotel rates on Booking.com here.

Brooklyn Bridge • • •

Many visitors to NYC might miss out on Brooklyn entirely during a stay in NYC, but truthfully you could spend weeks in Brooklyn exploring the LGBTQ life here and never have to visit Manhattan! There’s that many cool and hip and queer things to do in Brooklyn, it’s what makes it New York City’s best gay borough.

The post LGBTQ Brooklyn – A Gay Guy’s Weekend Guide to Brooklyn appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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Everyone has an opinion on the gay apps. They’ve become so ubiquitous and ingrained in our popular culture, they’re impossible to resist. I remember the first time I downloaded Grindr—shortly after it was released. Once The New York Times writers discovered it, the app world seemed to explode with location-based dating apps.

Gay dating wasn’t easy for a long time. I was lucky enough to grow up & come out during the iPhone generation when thousands of new types of apps seemed to be released every day. And the gays were instrumental to that digital boom.

The gay apps have fundamentally changed dating—for E V E R Y O N E, the gays, the straights. It changed LGBTQ nightlife, how we make friends & meet others. Of course there are positives and negatives. AA lot has been said about how gayborhoods around the world have changes; the fact that gay bars and clubs are closing with more frequency because of the changing community. Is it the fault of dating apps and the fact most of us meet online—rather than in a gay club?

Certainly that’s had an effect on the LGBTQ community, but so many of these gay apps have also helped to open up the world at large. It’s hard to fault them entirely for the demise of our community spaces, because I do passionately believe social media has helped to connect us in more meaningful and powerful ways.

And just as its probably kept us at home more often, it’s also allowed us to travel more freely and openly.

Personally, I’ve found gay apps to be extremely useful in making new connections in otherwise challenging situations. I’ve grown up on social media and that’s probably affected how I see (and use) online dating. I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid to meet strangers from the internet—it’s thrilling, exciting, interesting, and even when it’s not: it’s a good story.

So, here’s my honest and complete review of all the gay apps I’ve used. In no particular order:

The Best (and Worst) Gay Apps
15 of the Most Popular Dating Apps

Grindr

The first of the gay apps, Grindr is rightfully at the top of every list. You can hate it as much as you want, but there’s no denying it was the original game changer. And even if it’s been slow to adapt to changes in the LGBTQ community, it’s still the most important of the apps.

Grindr boats millions of active users per month/week/day/minute. It’s the gay app I’ve used most reliably over the years; and the only one I ever paid a pro subscription for (but not anymore). Most of the other apps have launched better features faster, but it didn’t matter because every gay guy in the world has been on Grindr at least once.

How effective is it? In my personal experience, Grindr is the app I’ve used the most to meet people—and not just for sex! Because it’s so ubiquitous in the community, Grindr serves as a vital tool (and especially for travelers) for building connections. Despite all of its problems, it’s 10 out of 10 my favorite gay app.

Tinder

Tinder is cute. When it launched the swipe feature, they jumped up to the top of our dating lexicon pop culture. Swipe right; swipe left—it was fun & flirty. I only used Tinder most recently when I was single in NYC last summer and I found it…challenging.

It wasn’t hard to match with others on the dating app, but for some reason, almost all my connections flaked out. And many of them flaked before even a first message was exchanged. I managed a few dates in New York City through the app, some were nice enough and others were forgettable.

But truthfully: it just wasn’t the best for making connections. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of swiping to even get to the “let’s meet in person” phase, and then from that it’s still a stretch to form a real bond.

Scruff

It’s one of the largest gay dating apps and most gay guys seem to fall in either the Grindr or Scruff camps. Not a lot of guys use both. Scruff has also been at the forefront of a lot of the latest dating app features (and they were one of the earliest to incorporate useful LGBTQ travel features).

Because Scruff has a huge share of the gay app market, it’s one of the apps that makes it easier to meet people and make connections. Of all the dating apps besides Grindr, it has been the second most useful when looking for hookups or sex.

There’s a perception that Scruff is only for “scruffy” manly men—and while its social media & marketing definitely emphasizes that, I’ve found that a lot or the “gay tribes” are actually represented there.

Planet Romeo

The Planet Romeo app (also previously called Gay Romeo) is most popular in northern Europe, especially among German-speakers. It was *the* app to use in Berlin (and Germany) and therefore, I had a lot of chances to use it.

Unfortunately, the app feels slightly outdated and even though they’ve got a corresponding website which you can also use—that’s even more outdated and difficult to use! In a lot of Europe, the app can be useful for getting travel tips or arranging dates and/or meetups, but there are a lot of language barriers as well.

Honestly, it’s a local gay app I’d recommend using when you live (or travel) in its most popular regions. They do publish an annual list of LGBTQ-friendly places around the world each year because they do collect (and share) a lot of data, but that’s kind of the end of its usefulness.

Recon

One of the largest and most successful of the kink apps, truthfully, I found it confusing and difficult to use, so never actually managed to even finish completing a profile. Still, those that use it regularly, swear by it.

And with the Recon app regularly promoting parties and events around the world, they’ve only helped to cement their standing at the forefront of the kinky side to gay dating & hookups.

Hinge

I only recently tried out Hinge and actually kind of enjoyed it. Of the newer gay apps, it’s one of the ones that seems to be better at inciting conversations. There are conversation starters throughout and it just generally seems to be a more communicative community of users.

While I never managed to make a date through using the Hinge app, I did get a few Instagram followers! That’s a win for me.

OkCupid

I’ve used OkCupid off-and-on for nearly a decade. It was always one of my favorite dating apps because I just loved the interface and the fact it can be used on both a desktop and through the mobile app.

Their most distinguishing feature are all the questions & answers you can submit to compare yourself to potential matches. The % compatibility rating is a surprisingly useful indicator of how you might get along with a match. I probably rely on it too much, but I do love snooping on other people’s answers. Plus: answering the questions are fun.

As for an actual review of the OkCupid app, in the past year, I had less than a handful of dates through the app. I also found a lot of the gay men using OkCupid were more often looking for sex rather than relationships—which I found surprising since so much of the dating app’s interface is built around more meaningful conversation topics.

Hornet

This is one of the gay apps that’s been around for a while but seems stuck in a rut. I don’t think its gained much traction in the LGBTQ community outside of a few of its more popular regions in Asia and South America. Personally, I’ve never so much as managed to even have a conversation with another user on Hornet.

Chappy

The Chappy app seemed to pop up in the gay dating world quickly—with a lot of cool events in the UK and America. They seem to be well-funded and the gay app’s interface is actually pretty sleek. A few design features make it awkward to fill out a profile, but once you get the hang of it, it does actually work.

Chappy’s most distinguishing feature is the fact that you can set your profile to show whether you’re looking for more of a relationship, or more of a hookup—and you’ll see corresponding profiles to your current interest.

But while the app has a lot of contemporary features, I never managed to have more than the occasional brisk conversation with other users. And never snagged a date, either. Got a few compliments on my Instagram, but that’s all.

Atraf

Another one of the location-specific dating apps (and I’m sure there are many other for other regions of the world), Atraf is a local gay chat & dating app from Israel and while much of the app is in Hebrew, it’s also in English. The dating features of the app include the stereotypical grid of faces (or torsos), but you can also buy event and nightlife tickets through the app—so it’s incredibly useful for locals and tourists alike.

When I lived in Tel Aviv, the app was incredibly useful for connecting with locals because the other gay hookup apps really were dominated by tourists—and I was looking to meet locals. Plus: the Atraf community does a great job of curating Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ nightlife.

Surge

Similar to Tinder, Surge has a pretty straightforward interface, and despite a lot of initial buzz around their launch, I never really managed to get any traction using the app. It looked sleek and felt cool as well as inclusive, but nothing ever seemed to come from it.

Jackd

One of the gay dating apps that’s been on the app store for a while, but also never seemed to reach too far beyond its target regions. The app is more popular in Asia which makes it useful for travelers to the region, or locals living there—but the most I ever had on the app were short conversations, and nothing meaningful.

Raya

Billed as the dating app for “influencers,” Raya is an invite-only app and requires a monthly fee. I’ve read a lot about it, but unfortunately for most of the time I’ve been single, I’ve used Android phones so I’ve never used the app myself—just on my friends’ phones.

For review purposes, the Raya app works well enough, but its most interesting feature is its ability to connect you with interesting people. My friends have met and matched with a surprising variety of people—from the social media directors of *other* gay dating apps (the irony!) to international musicians and C-list celebrities.

Because the Raya app is tied to your Instagram, it can be a cool way to connect digitally—if you can snag that initial interest.

Twitter

Okay, you might wonder why Twitter is on a list of gay dating apps, but that’s just because you’re not in the know! Hashtag Gay Twitter (#GayTwitter) is a real and true community. It’s dominated by quick-witted, celebrity-obsessed, somewhat-obnoxious media gays who are all friends with one another in the real world, but the mix of verified & anon accounts, plus a whole gabble of stans, makes it a fun place to connect with others that share your interest.

Stories of #gaytwitter hookups and flirty, suggestive, or downright-NSFW photos (#gaytwitterafterdark) make up most of the scene, but I’ve had plenty of long-distance connections through the app and community.

Instagram

There’s an Instagram hashtag I like to search every now and then: #InstagramIsTheNewGrindr because (1), it’s funny, and (2) it’s actually kind of true. The image-obsessed app has taken over the image-obsessed gay community to a point that I feel is 100% toxic, but also: it just seems to be how the world works now.

Flirty DMs (and dick pics) show up regularly enough, and the thotty pics that Insta-celebrities post only incite an already flirtatious online community in the app. If you’re looking for a local date, there are plenty of stories of connections made through Instagram private messages.

So many of us already check out Instagram profiles from each of the other dating apps, so why wouldn’t we skip the middle man and just go straight to the source?

• • • The familiar Grindr grid

Dating has never been easy, and when many of these gay apps came into the picture, things certainly changed. In my experience, many of these dating apps have made it easier to connect with other people I may not normally been able to encounter—whether because of distance or our own comfort levels at interacting in person.

There are so many gay dating apps in the market today. And besides all the specific apps, there are websites and forums as well—ones used for connections with like-minded individuals, ones for sex workers, for sharing nudes, for purposeful dating, or any other manner of online connections

My list of dating apps above isn’t meant to be a complete collection of them all—just my personal reviews of the ones I’ve actually used or experienced in my own dating struggles as a gay man. And the funny thing? I’ve had plenty of connections through a lot of these gay apps, but my most meaningful relationships have all started offline. <insert shock & awe>

But hey: that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to connect online.

Have a suggestion for another gay dating app I should review? Leave a comment or slide into my Instagram DMs.

The post An Honest Review of Gay Dating Apps appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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My East Coast road trip started in Connecticut. The goal: get my aunt’s car all the way down to Fort Lauderdale so she’d have it for her winter home. With my flexible work schedule and passion for road trips, saying yes to the trip just came naturally.

I’ve done pieces of this road trip before, including driving through Florida a handful of times, as well as a handful of New England road trips. But the full trip I’d never done before. Google Maps made it seem pretty straightforward.

From my starting point to final destination, it was truthfully only going to take 22 hours or so of drive time. But I had the time and the passion, so my goal was to make this a true road trip.

There are so many cool destinations and things to see along the Eastern Seaboard, many of which I hadn’t been to before. Below, a few of the best places to stop along the East Coast on an I-95 road trip.

Best Places to Stop on an
I-95 East Coast Road Trip Philadelphia, PA

They call it the “City of Brotherly Love,” and as the birthplace for so much of American democracy, there’s little dispute of Philadelphia’s place in history. That’s what makes it such a perfect pitstop on a proper American road trip.

It’s relatively easy to see Philadelphia’s top tourist attractions in a few hours. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are across the street from one another, with the National Constitution Center and U.S. Mint also in walking distance. If you plan it right, it’s easy to hit up those main attractions in a few hours, grab a Philly cheesesteak to eat, and be on your way!

Top 5 Things to Do in Philadelphia on a road trip
  1. Visit the Liberty Bell and learn about freedoms around the world
  2. Learn American history at the Independence Hall museum
  3. Take a selfie at the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  4. Have a real Philly cheesesteak
  5. Refuel at Wawa (and enjoy cheap Tastykake treats & surprisingly great coffee)

Read more Philadelphia travel tips here.

Alexandria, VA

Part of the Washington, D.C. metro system, Alexandria is a taste of pure Americana. Its charming city center & main street have plenty of cute and quaint shopping and eating options. It’s also a great place for an overnight stay as the accommodation options are a little cheaper than staying directly in Washington, D.C., though it’s still accessible if you did want to do some sightseeing.

Top 5 Things to Do in Alexandria on a road trip
  1. Shop local small businesses in Alexandria’s Old Town (along King Street)
  2. Check out the local artists’ workshops at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
  3. Learn American history at Gadsby’s Tavern – where George Washington & the first five USA presidents spent time
  4. Stock up on fresh fruit & snacks at America’s oldest farmers market (every Saturday from 7am to noon)
  5. Stay at one of the hotels in Alexandria’s Old Town and take the D.C. metro into Washington, D.C. for a night out

Read more Alexandria travel tips here.

Richmond, VA

Just a further two hours south on I-95, Virginia’s capitol city Richmond is great for a quick city break. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses an impressive collection of classic and contemporary arts, while the Valentine and the Edgar Allen Poe offer unique historical exhibitions.

And thanks to a healthy population of young adults and college students, Richmond has a thriving foodie scene with plenty of craft breweries and cool hipster dining spots.

Top 5 Things to Do in Richmond on a road trip
  1. Visit the Valentine museum which documents, collects and preserves Richmond’s 400-year history
  2. Check out the latest art exhibitions at the prestigious Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  3. Take a selfie in front of the Virginia State Capitol—one of the oldest legislative bodies in America
  4. Explore the Arts District for trendy restaurants and quirky shops
  5. Don’t miss the street art, many part of the extensive Richmond Mural Project (especially in the Carytown neighborhood

Read more Richmond travel tips here.

Charleston, SC

Charleston is a bit further from I-95 so isn’t a typical stopping point on this well-traveled road trip route, but I’m a sucker for adventure and have been curious about South Carolina for a while, so was happy to go out of my way to visit. I think I was also swayed to visit because I watch Stephen Colbert a lot, and he’s always talking about it. I was curious.

About an hour off of I-95, Charleston is that charming kind of Southern town. Beautifully colored houses in classic colonial styles line every street—with blossoming flowers in the windowsills, friendly neighbors, and large porches & verandas. The main tourist attraction is the Fort Sumter National Monument which can be visited on a tour accessed by ferry.

Top 5 Things to Do in Charlestown on a road trip
  1. Grab a coffee and food, or shop, at one of the many places along King Street in Old Town Charlestown
  2. Shop local at the historic Charlestown City Market
  3. Get an Instagram pic in front of Rainbow Row
  4. Walk the Old Town and learn local history from the state historical markers
  5. Spend a few hours learning select history at Fort Sumter National Park

Read more Charleston travel tips here.

Savannah, GA

Just off I-95, Savannah is easily accessible from the highway. Home to one of the region’s largest art schools, the Savannah College of Art & Design, the city has a proclivity for creativity—not to mention its extensive history. The Historic District is home to southern Americana sights along cobblestoned & tree-lined streets.

The charming city offers a lot of history with its unique local architecture reminiscent of a “small town America” you’d see in the movies. It’s a quiet town, so don’t expect too much buzzing activity, but day or night the area in and around Forsyth Park is always bustling with the young and the old. The park also hosts a weekend flea market on Sundays.

Top 5 Things to Do in Savannah on a road trip
  1. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere & southern charm of the Savannah Historic District
  2. Take a stroll through Bonaventure Cemetery (also great for Intsagram)
  3. Visit the large & green Forsyth Park in the city center—a popular place for meetups and a sunset walk, most famous for its iconic fountain at the park’s center
  4. Explore the local contemporary art scene at the SCAD Museum of Art, part of the Savannah College of Art & Design
  5. Shop on Broughton Street for fashion & food

Read more Savannah travel tips here.

From Savannah, it’s a long few hours to Florida. And once in Florida, there are plenty of places to stop for a short visit. The I-95 runs several miles in-land from most of the beach cities, so the stretch of driving in Florida can be a bit boring. Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale make for good stopping points during a Florida road trip down I-95, but the Gulf Coast, Panhandle,  and central Florida (Orlando) are all decent destinations besides Miami and the Florida Keys at the tip.

• • •

Road trips are the kind of travel you’ll either love or hate. They’re often best with a group of friends or (sometimes) with family, but it’s also pretty manageable on your own. So long as you’ve got a budget and a passion for exploration, road trips are a lot of fun.

How much does an East Coast road trip cost? I managed the above road trip with stops in each of those cities and managed to keep my budget under $700 including hotels, gas, food, and activities. That was with plenty of fast food stops along the way, but hey—that’s part of the joy of an American road trip!

The post Traveling I-95 on a Road Trip from NYC to Miami appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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I sat there at my computer with about 18 different browser tabs open. JetBlue, American Airlines, Expedia, Google Travel, Skyscanner, my calendar, my Chase Rewards page, and the Weather Channel.

It was Sunday night and I needed a flight for Tuesday back to NYC. After a 4-day road trip and another week of driving around Florida, I was ready to get home. But how was I going to do it?

The weekend’s winter storm had already started to batter New England. I read about two different flights that skidded off runways and more delays and cancellations. The reckless government shutdown affecting TSA security lines. And all I wanted was to get home to my own bed and my regular working life.

But things weren’t looking good. Last-minute fares on JetBlue were over $800 for flights from Fort Lauderdale to NYC; the same on United and American. My AAdvantage miles (usually my savior in these last-minute bookings) were at a premium and there were no direct routes available.

So, finally, with a lot of trepidation, I found myself on the Spirit Airlines homepage. I’ve never flown the airline before and most of the news and reviews from friends I’ve read online have been pretty awful. I knew about the exorbitant extra costs added on and was expecting the worst.

After quickly putting in my search info, I finally found a flight for a reasonable price. With little other option, I clicked to buy.

• • •

During the checkout process, that’s when I discovered there’s a charge for carry-on luggage. Now, listen: I’ve flown my fair share of budget airlines. Frequently in Asia and almost exclusively in Europe. RyanAir and easyJet were my go-to airlines during my 7 years living in Europe. So much so, that I became a bit of an expert at budget airline travel.

But charging for a carry-on? I’d never seen that before. But I was stuck and needed the flight. So I added on the $35 charge and clicked buy. All total, I managed to get a last-minute ticket three days before flying for $220—not the best deal but not the worst. European budget airlines 100% provide better services and cheaper fares, but for domestic travel in the USA, it was a good deal.

Other than the annoying (and obnoxious) carry-on baggage charge, my flight on Spirit was uneventful and relatively calm. Truth-be-told, most airlines provide the same service though some tend to be more consumer-friendly than others. The service on Spirit seemed relatively non-confrontational or obtrusive.

• • •

Many European budget airlines fill their planes up with advertising, but that wasn’t the case on Spirit. Probably because the seats are so thin they can’t even fit any sort of hygienic headrest let alone a seat-back advertisement. Tray tables were tiny and in-flight entertainment was non-existent. There aren’t even power ports or USB charging ports, but seats weren’t uncomfortable.

Would I fly Spirit again? I guess so. When choosing how and where to fly, cost is almost always my deciding factor. Comfort only comes into play for flights four hours or longer. Anything less than that and I’ll survive with the basics. But I do think they need to add in charging ports. This is 2019 and power is practically our right.

 • • •

7 Things You Need to Know When Flying Spirit Airlines
  1. They’re going to have pretty cheap fares, but make sure to account for all the add-ons.
  2. Not every route is available every day, so you may have to be flexible with your travel dates.
  3. Carry-on luggage will cost you and it’s tough to travel with *only * a single personal item. Book it when you buy your ticket to avoid even more extra costs.
  4. Avoid checking a bag because check-in desks seem to always be crowded. You’re also more likely to have to measure your bag to make sure it fits their arbitrary size restrictions.
  5. Seats don’t come with USB power ports so make sure you pack a battery charger.
  6. Tray tables are tiny so don’t expect to get much work done.
  7. Planes are newer than most domestic US airlines so the seats and in-flight services are comfortable enough.

The post My first time flying Spirit Airlines appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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My third, or maybe fourth, day on the road and I finally reached the Florida border. Coming from Savannah, Georgia, I made my way down I-95 into Florida with little fanfare: my Google Maps app announcing “Welcome to Florida.” It was already dark, but I was relieved. The final stretch of my I-95 road trip from NYC to Miami (give or take a few hundred miles).

When I first announced I was going on this road trip—as a favor to my aunt who needed her car down south—just about everyone I knew warned me about Florida. “Florida is big,” they’d say. I know, that, of course, but I’d kind of forgotten. I’ve done one other Florida road rip about a decade ago. I drove from tip-to-tip, from Key West all the way up iI-95 and then across the panhandle en route to New Orleans and, eventually, Dallas.

I have a few distinct memories from that road trip—passing what seemed at the time, the Everglades, indistinct cities from the highway and a long (very long) dark road. Almost the entirety of our road trip back then felt like it was in Florida, and that’s what I was expecting this second time around.

And it kind of was.

After driving through Florida for D A Y S, here are my tips to enjoy your own Florida road trip. The things you need to know to make the most out of driving through America’s penis.

You’ll see a lot of palm trees in Florida FLORIDA ROAD TRIPS
All the things you need to know 1. Florida is fucking big.

Google tells us that Florida is 65,700+ square miles with 20 million people. And we already know that this state takes up a lot of space in our news—that Florida man is fucking everywhere

But here’s the thing: because Florida is a peninsula, and because (arguably) its best bits are at the very tip, it just takes F O R E V E R to get anywhere in the state.

Driving in Florida also seems to just take forever not just because of the distance required, but because of so so many reasons. Not all of them bad, because truthfully, who doesn’t love a leisurely trip on the open road?

An eerily quiet highway in Florida 2. Florida’s roads are boring

Having driven the vast majority of I-95 from New England to Florida, I can definitely say that I-95 is its most boring in Florida. Simply put, there are just fewer rest stops, gas stations, and other amenities along the major artery.

For some reason, after Savannah, there’s just not much along the highway. It’s a lot of trees and open spaces. That emptiness isn’t all bad, though. Of course, it means a bit less congestion, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean safer roads (see the next one).

Driving in Florida 3. Florida drivers are reckless

I hate to make generalizations but after nearly 96 hours on the road and crossing 11 states along the way, the highway felt least safe while in Florida. The roads were actually pretty great (there are major renovations being done along I-95 to be completed this year), but the drivers—they were awful.

I was cut off regularly during my most recent 10-hour drive through Florida; drivers would ride on my tail and cross across lanes to get ahead. It was frightening and uncomfortable and required some serious alertness

4. Florida roads are flat

And smooth! Most of I-95 was remarkably well-maintained and even with construction here and there, it was all clearly marked and felt safe and comfortable. The flat roads make it easy to move (sometimes too fast—watch out for the highway patrol!).

At a rest stop along i-95 in Florida 5. Rest stops are pretty decent

Along the interstate highways and the Florida turnpike, rest stops and travel centers were well-stocked and clean. For anyone traveling long distances, these are really useful and important, and Florida seems to maintain them pretty well. There were signs just about everywhere about nighttime security at every rest stop, for better or worse—a little bewildering how much of a point they made about it, but maybe that’s an issue.

6. The SunPass is really useful

The Florida Turnpike runs the length of the state and while your route is what’s going to play a role in whether you take it or not, it is a pretty useful throughway for much of the state. Getting a SunPass provides easy access to the Turnpike and it can be purchased at Florida welcome centers along the state’s borders.

The SunPass isn’t necessary for accessing the Turnpike as you can also get tickets and pay cash, but be warned that without the SunPass, some turnpike exits aren’t accessible. I’m not really sure why that’s the case, but I did spot at least one exit along the turnpike which was for SunPass users only.

7. There will be traffic

Oh my god will there be traffic. I don’t really understand why because it’s my understanding that most Floridians are pensioners, but rush hour exists in Florida and it is A N N O Y I N G. I know that’s probably universal, but the traffic around Fort Lauderdale and Miami was nerve-wracking. Luckily the weather’s good so sitting in the sun isn’t the worst thing.

On the road in Florida 8. Pack sunscreen

Which brings us to one of the most important travel tips for Florida: PACK SUNSCREEN! The sun is strong in Florida (duh—it’s the sunshine state!), but don’t forget to use it while driving, too! Your car windows won’t protect you enough and the sun will burn. Be prepared and keep a small sunscreen spray in your car if you’re traveling Florida frequently.

Also: make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water when on a Florida road trip. You never know how bad the traffic’s going to be, or how hot your car might get.

On the road! 9. You’ll need multiple pairs of sunglasses

Speaking of the sun, don’t forget your sunglasses! I don’t know about you, but I frequently lose my sunglasses so during my road trip, I kept an extra air in the glove box, plus one in my bag, and another that I wore. I somehow managed not to lose any of them during this trip, but driving without them would have been a nightmare.

10. Don’t miss the sights!

Florida is fucking big; we already talked about that. And as one of America’s most touristic destinations, there’s plenty to actually stop and see. I think?

Florida’s state parks are there to protect a lot of unique wildlife, and the big tourist cities like Orlando, Miami, and Key West all have some cool things to see. And of course there are the beaches! I stayed a night in Daytona where you can actually drive on the beach (for a fee) which is kind of fun if you’re into cars and don’t mind sand everywhere. (Trust me: a week in Florida and there will be sand everywhere; there’s nothing you can do about it.)

On the Florida beach (there are a lot of them) • • •

I rant about Florida quite a bit but I’ve been visiting the state regularly since I was a little kid. There’s always something new to see or experience, and even when there isn’t, the sun & sand more than make up for the annoying quirks of life in Florida. Now: if you need me, I’ll be at the beach.

The post How to do a Florida Road Trip – 10 Things You Need to Know appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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I don’t know about you, but money has been on my mind a lot recently. Probably because I’m anxiously awaiting several end-of-year payments from work I did last year, and also the fact that it’s the NEW YEAR and I’ve got to start planning for the future…I guess.

As a freelancer & business owner, I’m always a little anxious about my fluctuating income. And with the volatile market the past month, my future is increasingly…worrisome.

One of my top goals for 2019 is to save more money. Just feels like the responsible thing to do and with the past year I had, it seems totally possible. Years of living in Europe meant a lot of expendable income thanks to social safety nets, but in the USA, you’ve really got to protect yourself.

Here’s what I’m doing to save some cash for 2019…

10 Creative Ways to Save Money in 2019 1. Sell your used books & other little things

I keep a generally light home. I don’t own too much because, well, I travel a lot and I’ve moved around a lot. But after a while, you inevitably collect stuff. I’m no minimalist but I do like to keep things decluttered, so every now and then I make sure to sell off the things I no longer need.

Marie Kondo helps people tidy up their homes in a new 2019 Netflix show (which is spectacularly silly), but I don’t donate everything that I give away. My used books and other small things, little gadgets I’ve collected over the years, have some value for someone somewhere, so I simply sell it!

In the summer, I used the LetGo app pretty frequently to let loose some objects I didn’t need (and also used it to buy some stuff, too!). It’s location-based so you can find what’s available in your direct area – much easier than dealing with shipping or the complications of selling via eBay. The Facebook Marketplace is also a great place to buy used and sell what you don’t need.

The first step to saving money is always to start by decluttering. And to buy used!

Use the Acorns personal finance app to save money 2. Use Acorns to save money easy

I’ve written about the Acorns app before. It’s a really handy app (free for college students, or else $1/month) that makes it very easy to save money. There’s a “found money” feature which, when you click through the promotions, provides you with bonus cash for your purchases

Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Casper, and even Amazon offer cash back when you purchase through the Acorns app. I’ve already made over $20 in the past few months with nothing more than a click before buying! Acorns is especially useful for frequent travelers because there are so many travel and hotel brands that provide special offers through the app.

Sign up for Acorns with this link for a bonus $5 added to your account immediately!

Once you’ve made your bonus money through Acorns, it gets invested into a savings investment account—which you can set up according to your own personal finance goals. It’s a really simple interface and a good way for beginner investors to get started.

Track your expenses with easy-to-use budgeting apps as soon as you make a purchase 3. Track your budget

The number one thing every personal finance expert will suggest is the need to track your money. I’ve done this off and on over the years, and now that it’s the start of a new year, there’s no better time to get into the habit.

For the lazy among us, there are plenty of apps which make it easy to automatically track your expenses. My Bank of America checking account already provides me a breakdown at the end of the month categorizing my spending. But other apps like You Need A Budget connect to multiple bank accounts & credit cards to provide more detailed spending reports.

Once you know where you spend your money, you can better plan on how to save. You’ve just got to know what you already do so you can learn and adapt.

4. Get into stock-trading easily with Robinhood

The stock market has been going a little wild the past few weeks and investing in stocks isn’t necessarily for everyone. But it can be an important step in personal finance.

Sign up for Robinhood (always free) with this link for a bonus free stock from companies like Ford, Apple, or others!

Many millennials like myself have been skeptical of the stock market (thanks to the 2008/2009 recession), but at the same time, investing in the stock market can be a valuable way to make extra money. While trading accounts with Vanguard or Fidelity offer a number of long-term investment solutions, the Robinhood app is especially useful for beginner investors.

Robinhood allows investors to trade stocks with zero commission. For beginners, that kind of flexibility is tempting and makes it easy to get your feet wet in the complicated world of the stock market. The Robinhood app, though, doesn’t just allow you to trade stocks, they actively provide articles free within the app for those interested in learning more about how to save and invest.

Personal finance is a lifetime skill and Robinhood makes it easy to learn the ropes. And bonus! When you refer a friend through the app, you each get a free stock at random. I’ve received over 10 free stocks from recommending friends & family already! Try it free with this link.

5. Cut down on Amazon spending

Oh, Amazon. We’ve all become so dependent upon it for anything and everything—for better or worse. I’ve got an Amazon Prime account and I use it pretty regularly, but recently I’ve also made a habit of using Amazon sparingly.

There’s something about forcing yourself to physically walk to a store to buy something. It makes you stop and really think, “do I need this,” or even better, “do I need this right now?” Credit cards already allow us to spend money more easily, and Amazon with its one-click buying and same-day delivery have taken that tenfold.

Of course, there are some things that are just always going to be easier to buy on Amazon, but when you don’t have to, simply don’t!

Oh, and also—did you know many stores will match Amazon pricing if you just ask? Home Depot, Best Buy, Target and Walmart will all match Amazon’s prices in-store if you find it cheaper online.

Sometimes Instagram just makes you want to buy buy buy 6. Avoid Instagram

Listen, I’m no fan of Instagram. I’ve tried to be! But truthfully, the app just isn’t for me. But how does avoiding Instagram save you money?

I know Instagram is insanely popular, but it’s also become a spot for pure capitalism. That wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing, but the app has absolutely been infiltrated by endless advertisements. Those ads come through the clearly labeled frequent ads in your various Instagram feeds, but also in the photos from influencers big and small.

As such a highly visual app, it’s really just become a place to brag and show off our best selves—and that leads to a kind of toxicity which might inspire us to spend more money on lavish trips and products we don’t need—simply to show off a lifestyle. In moderation, Instagram is fine, but it you use it too much: it just makes you want to spend money in ways that are often beyond reason.

Pro tip: Within the Instagram app settings, you can set a pop-up notice for when you’ve been using the app a certain amount of minutes per day.

7. Collect air miles & points with a new credit card

There are lot of financial issues with American capitalism that make it hard to actually save money, but our credit card offers are the best in the world. Last month I finally signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, getting myself a bonus 50,000 travel reward points.

Navigating which credit card is right for you can be tricky. I spoke to friends and checked out the latest offers to see what was going to work best with my spending habits until I ultimately decided on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Nomadic Matt has a useful guide on all the credit cards with great travel offers for 2019 if that’s where you’re looking to save money, but many other credit card companies offer rewards for students, business spending, or other niche interests.

Save your coins! 8. Start a coin collection

Little things add up! I’ve always collected coins. When I was a kid, I had a large Coca-Cola-themed plastic bottle which I spent nearly a decade filling up with coins. I don’t remember exactly how much I ultimately had in there by the time I cashed it in, but I’m sure it paid for my freshmen year college textbooks.

It doesn’t exactly make sense to save coins for years, but those times you do spend with cash and get coins back, put them in a convenient place. And when you fill it up, take it to a Coinstar or your bank and deposit it.

Another way to think about this is the fact that by consciously using cash when buying things versus using credit, is the fact you’ve got that physicality to spending money; the same feeling as walking into a store as opposed to buying on Amazon.

For the more digitally-minded, get started with round-up investments through your checking accounts. Plenty of checking accounts (such as mine at Bank of America) offer the service where your purchases will be rounded to the nearest dollar and then that spare change will be added automatically to a savings account. Personally, I use the same service with my Acorns subscription since it goes into a higher-yield investment account.

Cooking can be fun and it can be done individually or with friends as a group activity. But it’ll always save you money! 9. Cook (and bake) more

Okay, I 100% understand the convenience of ordering takeout, but 9 times out of 10, if you just cook your own meals, you’re going to be saving money. Baking was recently declared to help with anxiety and stress, so why not also use the experience of cooking and baking for yourself to save some cash, too!

Anxiety Baking is The Hot New Trend - YouTube

10. Get a library card

One of the first things I did when I moved to Brooklyn was to sign up for a FREE library card. If you’re like me and enjoy cultural entertainment, libraries are the best way to consume. They’re free and provide access to millions of things. In New York City even, with a library card you get free access to over 30 museums (including special exhibits at cultural institutions like the Guggenheim).

Many library cards often also provide free access to stream movies through sites like Kanopy or the ability to download music, e-books, and other digital resources. Get a library card and you’ll instantly have a lifetime of entertainment at your fingertips—and all for free!

• • •

Here’s the thing about this money-saving list. I love spending money. I’m a firm believer in the idea to L I V E  Y O U R  L I F E and to enjoy it. I don’t enjoy being stingy with my cash which is why, really, I’m not. I still spend money on trips I probably shouldn’t; I still have a Netflix subscription (even if I’m using my sister’s account). I buy coffee multiple times a week at Starbucks or other coffee shops.

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to give up those things that bring you joy. Spend money how and where you want; just try to be smart about it.

The post 10 Creative Ways to Save Money in 2019 appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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‘Tis the season!

SPONSORED — Do you remember those days when the cards start arriving in the mailbox? Red, white, green, yellow envelopes. Long letters, printed photos, and short greetings. Reminders from relatives and friends you haven’t seen in years. The thrill of opening envelopes, skim-reading messages, and placing photos on the mantle.

Millennials are often blamed for the end of everything, but we’re also simultaneously responsible for bringing back a lot  of’90s nostalgia. And I’m here to say: let’s bring back Christmas cards!

One statistic I found online says that over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent each December in the USA alone. Other stats include the fact that people send on average 20 holiday cards during the season. Any anyone with a new family is guaranteed to send out more than a few photos to anyone and everyone. But personally I’ve noticed fewer cards in my mailbox.

Instead, a lot of us write social media round-ups at the end of the year: our Instagram top nine, a series of Facebook posts detailing our favorite movies from the past year, a list of goals, or a mass email with 5 awkward photo attachments. It’s easy, but kind of boring. An actual Christmas card is just so much more meaningful.

Because (1), I’m lazy/busy, and (2) I’m obsessed with postcards, I’m using the trusty MyPostcard app to send out my cards this year. It’s quick, easy, affordable, and I can do it from my bed.

7 Reasons You Should Still Send Christmas Cards It just means more

Sure, you can post that auto-generated Facebook video which shows you their pre-selected list of highlights from your timeline. And yeah, you can write an email and send it out, but that’s just like sending out a generic press release. An announcement not guaranteed to reach the people you actually care about. And when they receive it? They’ll know that actually mean something to you.

In this age of total digitalization, it’s easy to just feel like just a “Facebook friend.” Sending a Christmas card to someone, though, is a sign of honest interest in someone’s life—and sharing your own life. It takes more than a post to social media to create those kinds of meaningful connections.

Physical objects last longer

Yeah, yeah, yeah—sharing a status update is easy, but it’s also fleeting. Send a Christmas card to someone’s mailbox, though, and there’s no way they can avoid it!

A Christmas card is legally required to be put on display until the 26th at the very earliest, therefore a constant reminder of your connection/relationship/friendship with the receiver. That guarantees you at least a few weeks of everyday visibility in someone’s life—more than can be said of any social media algorithm.

The chance to brag

Here’s the open secret about Christmas cards. Yes, they’re meant to serve as a reminder to the receiver that they’re relatively important to your life. But honestly: Christmas cards are more about the sender than the receiver

It’s your chance to shine! To blatantly humble-brag, to share your amazing news from the year.

It’s actually really easy

Personally, I’ve avoided sending end-of-year updates the past several Decembers because (1), I’m lazy, and (2), I always thought it was time-consuming. Truthfully, sending Christmas cards doesn’t take too much effort and can be done in a single afternoon. And it’s especially easy using the MyPostcard app because it can all be done on the fly and then scheduled to send when you’re ready.

Better than an algorithmically created highlight reel

There’s no secret that I kind of love-hate social media, and I think a lot of us feel the same. Sure, social media provides the opportunity to get your message out further and reach more people, but it also means it’s less likely to reach those people that actually mean something to you. Hellllllooooo narcissism! Listen, it’s not awful (I guess), but this is that one time of year where you can actually reach out and share something meaningful with those that mean the most to you.

Every social media platform offers the chance to share your “best of the year” highlights—but that’s all created using their nefarious algorithms and engagement based largely on public activity. Personally, my Facebook Year in Review video from the year doesn’t show the things that really mattered to me this year. Same goes with my Instagram Top Nine, and yeah, even my Spotify Wrapped highlights isn’t really reflective of my true favorite memories and moments.

So much of our life is automated these days; we should take the time to honestly appraise our year and curate the best of it. And then share *that* because it just is going to mean so much more to ourselves and our loved ones. Write out a personal message reflective of your year and send a damn Christmas card.

The opportunity to say something important

Here’s something novel: use your end-of-year greeting cart to share something important, something meaningful. December is notoriously a lonely and dangerous month; share a message of love and hope and optimism with those that mean something to you. Everyone can use a bit of holiday cheer—and a semi-personal message in someone’s mailbox from a loved one can mean a lot.

There’s still time!

Plenty of people might argue that a card should be sent sooner rather than later, and while—yeah—that makes sense, it’s not an excuse to avoid the opportunity all-together. Christmas cards, holiday cards, and end-0f-year messages are perfectly valid at any point in December, and if you miss that deadline—a happy new year message is equally interesting. Plus, with the advent of plenty of ways to send cards online, it’s actually just really, really easy.

There’s no excuse! Give yourself an hour and send some cards this month. And if you need that extra bit of motivation, try my discount code TRAVELSOFADAM for the chance to send a free postcard with MyPostcard.

A quick and easy way to send Christmas cards with MyPostcard:
  1. Sign up free for MyPostcard online or download the app on iOS or the Play store
  2. Share your custom address book link with those you plan to send cards to (the private address book stays in your profile so you can re-send cards in the future)
  3. Choose from hundreds of Christmas card designs in the online shop or order a set of blank greeting cards
  4. Upload your photo(s) and create your card in the app (or website)
  5. Bulk send to your loved ones by using your address book or schedule to send at a later date

The post 7 reasons you should send Christmas cards this year appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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Eindhoven is a city that might not be on your list when you plan a trip through Europe, with most people visiting other cities in Holland such as Amsterdam, The Hague, or even Rotterdam. It’s the type of place with its hidden cafes and beautiful streets, with its chill and diverse atmosphere that makes Eindhoven a hotspot for creativity and innovation. And its artistic heritage and innovative spirit make it a friendly and open destination for all types of travelers.

Since my first visit to Eindhoven, I’ve fallen in love with this little European city. It’s cozy, convenient, easy to wander, and there are so many amazing design shops and cool cafés, affordable restaurants, and great art. I’ve been the past two years to Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week—an annual event when thousands of artists, designers, and creators flock to the city to discover the best of what’s new in the design world. It’s always a great event and a sign of the city’s commitment to creativity.

THE WEEKEND GUIDE TO EINDHOVEN Getting to Eindhoven

It’s only an hour+ train ride to Eindhoven from Amsterdam, with trains just about every 25 minutes all day, every day. With an all-day Holland train pass, you can get there and back (and stopover where ever you like) for under 40€—a great deal for high-speed train service. But Eindhoven is also well-connected around Europe with its airport servicing hundreds of other European cities with direct routes from budget airlines like RyanAir and easyJet.

Things to Do

At the heart of creative Eindhoven is the Strijp-S district: the former home of the electronic Philips factory. The former headquarters and warehouses have been transformed into residential units, with a local market, street art and surprising architecture (with plenty of street art murals and graffiti, too!).

The Strijp-S is one of Eindhoven’s most important cultural districts—easily reachable from the city center with a short bike ride, a 20-minute walk, or a 5-minute bus ride. The area transforms into a designer’s paradise each autumn during the annual Dutch Design Week—a celebration of international design and designers.

One of Eindhoven’s top cultural attractions is the Van Abbe museum. Open to all type of publics (even remotely with digital access online), the museum frequently hosts queer exhibitions and artworks that invite you to reflect about sexual freedom, diversity, and gender politics. When visiting, guests are invited to wear colorful kimonos and to smell paintings—a way to make the museum more interactive. The museum café is architecturally beautiful with huge windows decorated with colorful art.

In Eindhoven, it’s impossible to separate the creative and the innovative character of the city from its passion for design. One of the most interesting venues where this comes together is the Kazerne, a restaurant that changes its menu according to season and comprised not only of local makers and producers but a building that doubles as an art gallery with works by local artists. Kazerne is at the same time a lab, a gallery, and a fine dining restaurant.

For more design shopping, don’t miss the Piet Hein Eek showroom (and restaurant) just on the outskirts of the city center.

Where to Eat, Drink, and Party

Eindhoven’s city center is great for shopping, dining and wandering. You can sit in a café in one of the many plazas, but the Markt Eindhoven is frequently the best to visit, with young and sexy people drinking wine or beers and enjoying the sunny days at the restaurants and bars around the plaza. Pallaz is Eindhoven’s most popular gay hangout—good for dancing, drinking and chatting with the locals, but almost every café, restaurant and bar in Eindhoven is open to all types of people.

Eindhoven’s creative spirit shows through in every aspect in the city. Look out for the independent makers and craft breweries. The Stadsbrouwerij Eindhoven and Van Moll are great options for trying new craft beers and buying drinkable souvenirs for home. Don’t miss the Down Town Gourmet Market—a collection of food trucks serving everything from Tex-Mex to dumplings, as well as a few local craft beers in the outdoor bar. (There’s also indoor seating for colder nights.)

As a pretty young and hip city, you’ll find lots of late-night eateries, too. The city was even the first in the Netherlands to get a Taco Bell (don’t judge me), which opened in 2017. For more fine dining, however, the restaurant Usine offers a hip hangout with a great variety of food.

The bistro and bar Calypso, in the city center, is an affordable option during the day with great café options and light snacks—and in the evenings, it turns into a chill hangout with events, occasional live music, and a relaxed crowd.

Where to Stay

Steps from the Eindhoven central train station, the Student Hotel operates a multi-story hotel that dominates the skyline. While it offers long-term housing for students, the upper floors also operate as a hotel. A ground-floor lobby, bar, and restaurant serve as a fun and funky lounge with bright lockers and art books scattered amongst the design furniture. Rooms are comfortably sized and come with condoms available for free in the room. While the Student Hotel is great for young travelers, it offers a fun escape for a weekend adventure.

The Glow Hotel Eindhoven is a small boutique hotel property on the eastern edge of the city, walking distance to most of the main sights and even closer to the Kazerne restaurant and bar. Even though there is no restaurant on sight, the hotel offers breakfast in a nearby café each day and a lovely view over the city’s downtown skyline.

For a more luxury hotel experience, the new Hotel NH Collection offers an incredible property with panoramic views and well-designed rooms. In the city center, it’s convenient to reach most major attractions. Rooms are spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows. Corner rooms are especially nice with designer furniture, and up on the top floor is a restaurant and bar with 360-degree views.

• • •

For more about Eindhoven, checkout my other Eindhoven travel stories, or visit the city’s official tourism page.

The post A Gay Guy’s Weekend Guide to Eindhoven appeared first on Travels of Adam (Hipster Blog).

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