Eternal Expat - An Expat in Mexico City.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
Hi I'm Laura Bronner, AKA the Eternal Expat. In the last seven years I've lived in Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, England, and now - Mexico. I want to show you that a life of travel doesn't require a ton of money or all that much bravery. I've been doing it for all this time without either of them.
Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in Asia. It has amazing street food, great nightlife, big parks, tons of history, and seriously good shopping. This 3 day Bangkok itinerary should help you plan the perfect few days in the Thai capital.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Bangkok
There are so many fantastic hotels in Bangkok. The nice thing about the city is that you can enjoy a lovely hotel with all the high-end amenities without breaking the bank. Some of my favorite neighborhoods to visit and find hotels in Bangkok are Sukhumvit, Silom, and Siam. If you want to be around all the backpackers, head to Khao San Road.
If you only have a few days in Bangkok, you need to go to the Grand Palace and a few of the temples in the city. You can easily visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho in one day since they’re right next to each other. To enter the Grand Palace, you need to make sure you’re modestly covered. That goes for both men and women. They require that you wear full-length pants and that your shirt has sleeves. No tank tops allowed.
Wat Pho is where you’ll find the famous reclining Buddha. It is truly incredible how big it is. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the feet of the Buddha, which are made entirely of mother of pearl. Unfortunately, the feet were being restored during my trip to the city, so I didn’t get a chance to see them.
If you have time to see one more temple, grab a ferry across the river to Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn. There are stunning sculptures, and the view back over the city is pretty spectacular.
For an amazing market experience, skip the touristy floating markets and head to Chatuchak Market. It’s best on the weekends when locals come do their food shopping, but it’s just as exciting during the week. You’ll find absolutely everything at this market. The vendors have souvenir stalls with bracelets, t-shirts, and flip-flops. You can also buy homewares, kitchen utensils, plants, pottery, and all types of food. It’s definitely a must while you’re in Bangkok.
Eat All the Street Food
You can’t visit Bangkok and not indulge in some of the street food. It is some of the best and cheapest that I’ve had in the world. There are a few locations around the city where you’ll find street vendors congregating together. A wonderful spot is around Victory Monument. It’s a transportation hub with tons of buses arriving and departing to destinations around the city, so it can be pretty busy. But it’s also where you can get amazing Thai boat noodles.
Another spot to go for excellent street food is down Charoen Krung Road. It is literally lined with street food vendors and restaurants that spill out onto the sidewalk. You simply can’t go wrong with any of the busy spots here.
There’s so much to do and see in Bangkok. No matter how many days you spend in the city, it won’t feel like enough. It’s just a great excuse to come back again.
While I wouldn’t recommend trying to squeeze everything into only 2 days in Mexico City, I do think you can still get a little taste of the culture, history, and food of this fantastic place in just a few days.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
If you’re only going to be in Mexico City for two days, I highly recommend booking a hotel in the neighborhood where you’re going to spend the most time. If it’s your first time to the city, definitely book a hotel in the Historic Center (Centro Historico). That way you’ll be able to head straight out and explore all of the fascinating architecture and history and the best museums without having to get an Uber or waste time on the Metro.
My favorite boutique hotel in the Historic Center is Chaya B&B. It’s reasonably priced and right in the middle of all of the action. I’ve written a full review of Chaya B&B which you can read here:
It’s a popular spot, so you definitely have to book a few weeks, if not months, in advance. If that’s booked out check out larger chains like the Hilton on Reforma where you can often get a good deal on a room.
You can easily explore most of the city center in a day, but it’s definitely going to be a full day! I’m going to make the assumption that you’ve arrived late the night before or very early on day one so that you have a full day of exploring ahead of you.
If your hotel doesn’t offer breakfast, head to El Cardinal. It’s a little bit of a fancy spot, but it’s still very reasonably priced and they do an awesome breakfast. Start with a big bowl of their house-made hot chocolate and be sure to dip your sweet conche in it (it’s a little round bread roll).
Once you’re all fueled up, walk down the main pedestrian street, Madero, passing by plenty of tucked away churches and fashion shops until you get to the zocalo. The zocalo is the main square where you’ll find the cathedral and parliament building.
Head inside the cathedral first and have an explore of the different chapels. Notice how uneven the ground is thanks to all of the earthquakes the cathedral has endured over the last 400 years or so. Try to time it so that you’re leaving the cathedral right around the change of the hour. Every hour on the hour between 10 am and 5pm, you can take a tour for 20 pesos that brings you up to the roof of the cathedral. They ring the bells and you get an awesome view of the surrounding square.
Then head next door to Templo Mayor. This is a really well-preserved Aztec Temple with a museum that is really interesting. Most of the information is in Spanish, but you can get the gist of things and there are a lot of amazing artifacts that have been removed from the temple and are now stored inside the museum. Entry costs 70 pesos.
One last thing to do before lunch is to cross the street and enter into the National Palace. You’ll have to bring your passport for identification since it is the national parliament building, but only one person in the party should have to hand it over. You’ll get it back when you leave, don’t worry!
Inside the National Palace are the famous murals painted by Diego Rivera. Follow the crowds and head up the stairs to see these incredibly detailed paintings up close.
Ok – time for lunch. I highly recommend walking about 8 minutes to get to Cafe de Tacuba. Depending on what time you head there (lunch time in Mexico is actually around 2 or 3), there may be a line outside, but you won’t wait for long. It’s one of the oldest family-style restaurants in the city and their food is pretty awesome.
After lunch, take a walk towards Alameda Central – a nice park near the Zocalo. Here you’ll find my absolute favorite building in the city – the Palacio de Bellas Artes or the Palace of Fine Arts. It has a pretty grand exterior and a very art deco interior.
If you enjoy cultural dances, I highly recommend going inside and seeing if the Folkloric Ballet is on that evening. If it is, book yourself some tickets. You can get cheap seats for about 300 pesos per person.
You can also go inside the fine arts museum which is in the same building. It costs 70 pesos and there are different exhibits every few months.
For a great view around sunset, head up to the top of the Latino Americana Building. It’s horrifically ugly on the outside but offers the best view of the Valley of Mexico (where Mexico City is located). It costs 100 pesos to get to the top and you can go alllll the way up to the communications tower. There’s also a bar up there if you’d rather soak in the views with a beer in hand.
There are plenty of nice places to go for drinks around the Centro Historico. If you’re staying at Chaya B&B (even if you’re not this is a nice spot), head to the rooftop of the same building and enjoy craft beers or delicious cocktails with a view. Other nice rooftop bars in the neighborhood in include La Casa de Las Sirenas and Terraza Catedral. La Opera is also a nice one to check out.
For dinner, consider having a plate full of pastor tacos at El Huequito. It’s open until 10 p.m. and they have a really nice selection of different Mexican taco dishes. It’s also incredibly cheap. If you’re looking for somewhere more upscale, try Azul Historico or Limosneros.
Day 2 – Museums and Parks
If one of the reasons you want to come to Mexico City is to check out the history and museums, this is the Day 2 options for you. There’s a little cafe near the Palace of Fine Arts called Cafe de la Gran Ciudad that serves nice coffee and a few light baked goods that also offers a fantastic view to wake up to. If you need a bigger breakfast, head to Chiquitito Café, it’s near your first stop of the day.
The Museum of Anthropology is enormous. The first time I visited the museum, I spent four hours there. When I went back a second time with my parents we skipped around a little bit and still spent about two and a half hours wandering around all of the halls. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.
You’ll no doubt be starving when you leave, no matter how long you’ve been inside. I recommend heading into the main part of Chapultepec which is on Paseo de la Reforma near the huge BBVA building (look for the colorful staircases that you can see near the top of the building).
Here you’ll find tons of street stalls selling popcorn, cups of fruit (if you don’t specify, they will pour hot sauce on top), ice cream, and other little snacks. Have a nice snack that will see you through the next stop.
The Museum of History is inside Chapultepec Castle. It’s a little bit of a walk up the hill to get to the top, but it’s one of my favorite views in the entire city. The gardens around the castle are worth the trip alone, but the museum itself is pretty fascinating, too. Last I checked (February 2018), it cost 70 pesos to enter the museum and gardens. You could easily spend at least an hour here.
For lunch, you have a few options. If you want to stay in the park, I recommend walking to the sort of food court area in the park which is next to the lake. You’ll see tons of people with menus trying to entice you into their restaurant. Most places do the same stuff – soups, tacos, flautas, quesadillas, and soft drinks. This is a super cheap option.
If you’d rather go somewhere slightly healthier, I recommend either walking (about 15-20 minutes) or hopping in an Uber to El Pescadito in Condesa. It should only cost about 35 pesos to get an Uber there. El Pescadito is a fish taco restaurant.
The tacos are pretty big compared to the ones you get on the street. I usually eat two and am totally stuffed after. If you’re looking for recommendations, I suggest one marlin taco and one fish taco (or swap the fish taco for a camaron, or shrimp taco). Make sure to take advantage of the salad bar where you can pile your plate high with taco toppings. The beer is ice cold here, too.
Since you’re in Condesa now, I recommend taking a stroll around this gorgeous neighborhood. It’s one of the more upscale places and is popular among expats and locals. Head to Parque España to see the strange dog walkers who line up all of the dogs and teach them how to just chill. Parque Mexico is a nice place to sit down for a while and people watch.
If you’re still in Chapultepec, you can follow all of the different paths around the park to find little hidden gems like the peaceful Auditorio, where you can sit on one of the benches surrounded by bamboo and listen to the classical music playing over the small speakers. There’s a zoo inside the park which is totally free and even has pandas!
If you are staying for more than two days or you’re more interested in seeing other parts of the city, check out my other itineraries.
There are so many beaches in Mexico to love. Whether you want to lay on white-sand and look out at absurdly turquoise waters or you’re more interested in surfing big waves, there are so many options to choose from.
While I’ve been living in and traveling around Mexico for almost two years now, I still haven’t come close to seeing all of the best beaches in Mexico. It would take a lifetime to explore the country’s coastline (although, challenge accepted TBH). So I’ve reached out to some of my favorite Mexico expats and fellow travel bloggers who have had the chance to see even more beaches in Mexico than I have.
“Why is Puerto Peñasco my favorite beach town in Mexico you ask? First off, it is on the glorious Sea of Cortez, on the east side of the Gulf of California. Jacques Cousteau referred to the Sea of Cortez as the “world’s aquarium” because of the incredible diversity and quantity of wildlife. It is a scuba and snorkel lover’s paradise. The beach sand is soft and warm on your feet, and little tide pools filled with tiny shells and hermit crabs mark where high tide falls.
Secondly, it is fairly quiet for a beach town. Massive amounts of tourists that you encounter at popular Mexican hotspots do not typically make it down to Puerto Peñasco’s beaches. The malécon on the shoreline is filled with local restaurants and souvenir shops, not chain restaurant like Señor Frogs. Thus, there is a certain level of authenticity in this small fisherman village.
Puerto Peñasco also has the best food I have had at any beach town in Mexico. While some tourists to Mexico may expect menus filled with chips and salsa, tacos, and standard “Mexican” fare, Puerto Peñasco restaurants serve gourmet dishes. Delicious steaks, charcuterie, paellas, and delicious seafood ceviches pepper most menus. Fish is outstanding and of the freshest quality in this neck of the woods. On top of the incredible food, most restaurants serve filtered water with filtered ice cubes. Finally, most wine lists source the very best wine from nearby Valle de Guadelupe. These wines rival some of the best of Napa Valley.
While the rest of Sonora is a desert full of cactus and incredible rock formations, the gem of the state truly is the beach town of Puerto Peñasco.”
“While I complain about being too hot and finding sand in my clothes weeks after I’ve left, my favorite Mexican beach town is the first one I ever visited—Puerto Vallarta.
Situated on the west coast of the country, in the state of Jalisco (my former home and long-time love), Vallarta and its many, many beaches may not be blessed with the azure oceans and pristine white sands of the Caribbean coastline on the other side of Mexico, but they hold their own. Whether you’re into swimming, surfing, or just lounging about on the sand, there’s a beach for you along the Puerto Vallarta coast.
My personal favorite is Colomitos, not because I’ve spent much time there, but because when we crossed by on the way to Playa Las Animas, we got accosted by an enormous black dog that followed us the rest of the way. Funny now, but not at the time. Giant animals aside though, Colomitos is teeny weeny and picture-book perfect with possibly the clearest waters and sun-bleached sand of any beach in the area.
Puerto Vallarta is well worth a visit, especially when you know where to look for the coolest spots and, of course, the best beaches to visit.”
“Sisal is tiny and quiet and really only visited by locals. I happened to meet my best friend in Mexico there because we were both busy being pretty happy with ourselves for being the only foreigners on the beach…until we saw each other. So yeah, Sisal is special because it’s gorgeous and because it gave me a really special friend.
Sisal has next to nothing going on, which is what makes it so special in my opinion. There are a few small seafood restaurants, one or two tiny stalls selling touristy things made of shells and that’s it.
Once you get to Sisal, just drive until you see the sea. Park your car anywhere and head straight to the beach (or a restaurant). Enjoy walking on the tiny pier and then hire a palapa (thatched roof table and chairs), order some drinks, and go for a splash in the sea. We once saw hundreds of tiny fish jumping out of the water here. My son and I spent a good hour just mesmerized by them.
So, yeah, if you are looking to escape the tourists that so often crowd out beaches on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Sisal could well be a beach for you, just don’t tell everyone about it, please.”
Though not strictly a “beach town”, the lakeside town of Bacalar is easily one of the most beautiful places I visited during my trip around Mexico. Bacalar Lagoon is also known as The Lake of Seven Colours due to the clear waters which reveal vibrant shades of blue and green against the white sand and mud.
Aside from being a picturesque and tranquil “beach-style” destination, there are also lots of things to do in Bacalar, from watersports such as stand-up paddleboarding and diving in some of the clearest and largest cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula, to exploration of the town and the old fort – Fuerte de San Felipe, to swimming around the largest living organism on Earth – the Cocalitos, or “living rocks”.
The town itself has a very relaxed vibe. There are some great restaurants around the Zocalo, including vegan restaurant Mango y Chile, Italian fare at Pizzeria Bertilla and bar and restaurant La Playita, which is right on the lake and has an amazing view.
Bacalar is a little out of the way in the south of Quintana Roo, a few hours by bus from Tulum, not too far from the border to Belize. However, I highly recommend that you make time to visit the impressive Bacalar Lagoon, if only for a few days of chilling by the lake and swimming in the warm, clear waters.
The wide rustic beaches belonging to the charming town of Mazunte in the state of Oaxaca are hands down some of the best in Mexico. Despite being one of the country’s famed Pueblo Mágicos and boasting some seriously gorgeous sunsets along its golden shoreline, Mazunte is a small place with a laid-back vibe.
The main beach is called Mazunte Beach and is split in two by a craggy rock formation. One half is dotted with bars and restaurants serving great seafood tacos, the other half is quieter and where the small tour and fishing boats are stationed. Early morning sails will take you out onto the waves to see turtles and dolphins.
A short peninsula jutting out into the Pacific ocean called Punta Cometa is one of the best places to head for sunset, or if you fancy a bite to eat whilst watching the sun go down take a first-row seat at El Copal on secluded Mermejita beach. One word of caution, you can swim in some places in Mazunte but the waves are crazy strong so please be careful if taking a dip.
So what’s MY favorite beach in Mexico? Tulum. I’ve been once and I could have stayed forever. There’s just something about the beach, about the bicycles, and about the little one-street town that made me feel at home. I stayed in a little house in the town of Tulum and rode my bike to the beach every afternoon once the sun went down a little bit.
Tulum is easy and cheap to get to from Cancun airport. You can turn a trip here in to a luxury vacation by staying at one of the beachside resorts and dining at all of the fancy seaside restaurants or it can be super low budget, too. There are yoga studios, fresh juice vendors, amazing street tacos, and great little bars.
It’s also home to some of the most beautiful ruins in Mexico. The archeological site in Tulum sites right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It’s about as picturesque as it gets in my opinion. You can follow a few steps down to the ocean and swim in the sea with ancient Mayan ruins hovering over you.
Mexico City has SO much to see and do. If you browse through the Mexico City section of my blog you’ll find plenty of museums, restaurants, parks, and tacos.
As someone who lives here, I have the luxury of taking my time and exploring each neighborhood and historical sight slowly and as many times as I want. But if you’re coming to the city as a visitor and want to see as much as you, the best thing to do is to take a few Mexico City tours.
I think tours get a bad wrap because people feel like they don’t have enough freedom or because they don’t want to visit extra little places, but for me, these are all experiences I would never have had on my own and there’s a guide who can talk me through it all. I actually really like taking day tours so that I can learn more about the place I’m visiting and ask questions to someone who is usually from the city.
How to Choose the Right Tour Company in Mexico
I’ll let you in on a little secret about tours in Mexico, they’re usually all run by one main company. In Mexico City, you can book with different companies or with your hotel, but they’re all dealing with one central boss. I met him once. We drank tequila together. He was very nice.
Basically, what I’m saying is, it doesn’t really matter which company you choose. Sure if you go through one company for your entire trip, you’ll likely be able to request the same guide. I’ve booked tour with a few different companies in Mexico City and they all show up in rented white vans and all of the tour guides speak excellent English and have a great knowledge of the place they’re taking you.
For this post, I’ve listed two main companies, Viator and Get Your Guide. They are both international companies that do all of the research for you and find the best people to deal with so all you have to do is book the tour on their website and be ready when the van shows up at your hotel.
The Best Tours in Mexico City
Standing at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun
Teotihuacan Pyramids & Guadalupe Shrine
This is probably the most popular tour to do in Mexico City. While it’s not that hard to visit Teotihuacan on your own, it’s not exactly straightforward. You have to get yourself to the Northern Bus Terminal, then take the bus to the pyramids and walk to the entrance from the bus station. It’s much cheaper, but of course, you don’t get a guide.
I took a tour of Teotihuacan and I really enjoyed it. It packs a lot in and it’s definitely a long day, but I really enjoyed having a guide for this and thought that the shrine was really fascinating. I would never have gone to the shrine on my own. The day goes a little something like this:
Get picked up from your hotel around 8:30.
Pick up other passengers and finally hit the road around 9:30.
Stop at La Plaza de la Tres Culturas – an Aztec ruins site just on the outskirts of the city.
Stop at a silver shop to learn a little bit about Taxco silver. I also ate a tamale at this stop.
Drive to Teotihuacan and stop at a tequila shop. Sample tequila, pulque, and mezcal and learn about how each is made.
Go to the pyramids and listen to tour guide talk about the history for about 30 minutes.
Get an additional 45 minutes to an hour to explore the pyramids on your own.
Go for lunch at a nearby restaurant – this is usually included in the price.
Head back to the city and stop at the Basilica of Guadalupe. Learn about the history behind it and see the shrine.
Xochimilco is another spot that is really fun to visit, but could be somewhat difficult if you don’t have a good level of Spanish. If you want to visit Xochimilco on your own, I’ve written a complete guide on how to do that here:
If you would prefer to take a tour, I think this is a great option. They organize the boat for you and they make sure you get the full experience. Another nice thing about taking a tour to Xochimilco is that you can learn a lot more about the history of the canals and why they are so important to the culture of Mexico City.
The tour also includes a stop in my favorite Mexico City suburb – Coyoacan. Coyoacan is to the south of the city center and is easy enough to get to by Uber. You can read my guide to the neighborhood here:
Doing both of these places on your own is totally doable, but if you have a short amount of time and you want to see them both, taking a tour is a great option. The day usually goes a little something like this:
Get picked up from your hotel around 8:30/9am.
Go to the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Explore the colonial area in Coyoacan. You’ll likely have lunch around here.
Visit UNAM – the national university of Mexico.
Go to Xochimilco
There are a few different options with this tour. You can choose not to go to the Frida Kahlo museum. You can also choose to go to Xochimilco in the evening so you enjoy the canals at night. To be frank, the canals are awesome all day long and I think there’s no real need to go at night.
If you’ve been to Mexico City before and you’re looking for something totally different, I really recommend taking a tour of Taxco and Cuernavaca. Again, these two places could be done on your own, but you wouldn’t be able to see them both in one day unless you rented a car.
Taxco is the home of silver in Mexico. It’s a great place to pick up a souvenir, but I think it’s really interesting to be able to go to the places where they’re actually making the jewelry and learn about how people have been making these pieces for decades in the same way. The town of Taxco is quite nice with cobbled streets and a view over the surrounding Valley of Mexico.
Cuernavaca is known for its very old church and is another nice town to walk around. It’s also the capital of the neighboring state of Morelos. If you know anything about Spanish colonialism in Mexico, you may have heard the name Hernan Cortes. Well, this city was his home during the 16th century and no doubt your tour guide will have plenty of interesting stories to share about life in the city back then.
Standing outside the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City
Puebla and Cholula Day Tour
Puebla and Cholula are two of my absolute favorite places in the region (outside of Mexico City of course). Puebla has absolutely amazing food and Cholula is stunning. If you have extra time on your trip to Central Mexico, you could easily dedicate three or four days to these two places, but if you’re pressed for time, I HIGHLY recommend adding a day trip here to your itinerary.
It’s a long day and Puebla and Cholula are roughly two hours from the center of Mexico City, but once you get here you’ll be so glad you came. The tour starts at the Cholula Archeological site where you can walk through tunnels inside the pyramid. This pyramid is now covered over with earth and looks like nothing more than a big hill, but the tunnels prove that simply isn’t true.
The pyramid at Cholula is the widest pyramid in the world and is the third tallest in the world. It’s pretty impressive! Be sure to have a lookout for the two volcanoes – Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. Popocatepetl is the one that still releases smoke and is very much active.
The tour then takes you for lunch (which you can pay for separately or add to your tour price). After that, you’ll go into Puebla and check out the different architecture before finishing with a visit to a few different Talavera pottery shops. This beautiful blue painted pottery is from this part of the country and is really pretty. If you’re going to leave with a souvenir, I definitely recommend this (if you like pottery obviously).
I have been traveling and living abroad now for almost 10 years (CRAZY! Where the heck as that gone?!). In all that time I have traveled with the same brand of sandals and have loved them with all of my heart. In my opinion, the best sandals for travel are Rainbow flip-flops.
I’m not brand loyal with many things, but when it comes to sandals that can get wet, that can handle the heat, that can be jammed into a backpack and that still look pretty cute, Rainbow sandals win every single time. They’re easy to take on and off, they dry quickly, they have arch support, and they are crazy comfortable. I have legit climbed a rocky mountain in these flip flops and they withstood the test.
Why Rainbows are the Best Sandals for Travel
I bought my first pair of Rainbow sandals when I moved to New Zealand. I knew I’d be spending a lot of time by the beach, so I wanted to make sure I had sturdy sandals. They were the most I’ve ever spent on a pair of flip-flops – they’re over $50, so I was feeling pretty skeptical that I’d ever spend that much on a pair of flip flops again.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since then I’ve owned four pairs of Rainbow flip flops and have even gotten my boyfriend into them. He refuses to wear any other sandals and he’s a picky man!
You can walk in them for hours on end. They have arch support and are made of quality leather, so they don’t chafe, they give you support while you walk, and they don’t make your feet sweat in those crazy hot countries you’re traveling through.
You can easily take them on and off. This is key if you’re traveling in Asian countries where you’ll be taking your shoes off constantly. It’s also great for long bus rides when you want to slip your shoes off to get more comfortable.
They are really durable. Like I said, I’ve climbed mountains in these flip-flops. They grip your feet,
they grip the ground, they can be bashed around in your bag, they can get wet, and they still look great after all of it.
They’re small enough to lay flat in any bag. I have been able to fit them in the side pocket of my bag, at top of a packed suitcase, and even in my purse. They’re also super light, so you never have to worry about them causing your bag to be overweight.
Wearing my beloved Rainbows at Chichen Itza last year!
What Sort Of Travels are Rainbow Sandals Good For?
I have worn my Rainbows in New Zealand, Australia, around all of South East Asia, in Japan, in Korea, in Mexico, the United States, the UK, and in Costa Rica. I’m definitely going to take them on my beach holiday to Colombia in a few weeks and I’m totally packing them for jungle walks in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas.
The great thing about Rainbows is that they are leather. So you can wear them with your bathing suit cover-up and wear them on your beach holiday or you can smarten them up with a dress (or nice shorts and a t-shirt for the guys) and wear them around hot cities.
The only sort of traveling that you might want a different pair of sandals for is if you’re doing hiking where you’ll have to cross rivers and streams. I use my Rainbows anyway and just take them off and wade through the water, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you may want to buy a pair of Chaco sandals that you can wear even in deep water.
Wearing our Rainbows on a walk in Thailand!
How do Rainbow Flip Flops Fit – Women
The sizing chart on the Rainbow Sandals website is pretty accurate. I usually wear a size six in shoes and even though my feet are quite wide, the small is perfect. The sandals are definitely great if you have wide feet like me, but since they’re leather, they will mold to your feet well. It’s also worth noting that they will stretch a little bit over time.
How do Rainbow Flip Flops Fit – Men
The men’s sandals are similarly true to size. Luke wears a size 9.5 shoe and he wears the medium Rainbow sandals. He has quite narrow feet, so definitely wanted to stick to the smaller side of the spectrum, but if you are a 9.5 and have wide feet, you may find the large more comfortable (Luke actually used to get large, but they were just a little bit too long and wide one he wore them in).
Which Style of Rainbows are Best for Women?
There are a few different styles and colors available for Rainbows. I used to buy the thick-band Rainbows, but I switched over to the thin-band last year because I think they look slightly more feminine (especially because I have such wide feet). I always go for the sand color, but they also come in dark brown, blue, and black.
There is also a new style available with a braided strap. I can’t comment on how comfortable this is since I’ve never worn them. I would be wary of buying this style for long-term travel simply because I feel like it would irritate my feet if I was walking in them all day. They do look really cute though. See the braided style here.
Which Style of Rainbows are Best for Men?
There are basically two styles available for men’s flip-flops. You can have a normal arch support or a large arch support. There are a few colors available which Luke has grown to really like over the years – black, dark brown, sand, and a sort of grey-blue which is tough to find, but sometimes available on Amazon. See the grey-blue Rainbows here.
How Long Does a Pair of Rainbow Flip Flops Last?
It depends on how much you wear them, what sort of conditions you’re wearing them in, and what you consider to be the end of the road for a pair of sandals. I had my first pair for over two years when I decided they were just too dirty to keep wearing. They were still comfortable, they were still working perfectly, but I’d worn them SO much that their original sand color was now more like black.
My second pair lasted about the same amount of time. I wore that pair for a whole summer in Korea, then I wore them for six months as I traveled around South East Asia. I literally wore them every single day for those six months and by the end of my trip I retired that pair for the same reason (also they kind of smelled).
I would probably still have my third pair if I hadn’t lost them somewhere. I’m on my fourth pair which I got for Christmas in 2016. I wear them pretty regularly here in Mexico City, but not every day. I take them with me on all of my travels to warm places and I think they will likely last me until the end of the year at the rate I’m wearing them.
Luke is a little bit heavier footed and wears down the sole of the shoe when he wears them a lot. His usually last about a year and a half before he needs to re-invest in a pair that will offer him more heel support, but that’s only if he wears them every day.
There are three main budget airlines in Mexico. There are one or two that are worth your time and money and one that really isn’t (in my opinion). After living in Mexico City for almost two years and spending tons of time flying between different cities in the country, I’ve now flown on every one of the Mexico budget airlines several times – here’s what I think.
The Best Budget Airlines in Mexico
This is probably my least favorite Mexican airline. I’ve flown with them twice – once from Mexico City to Cancun and once Cancun to Mexico City. The plane itself is no different to other budget airlines in Mexico. It’s not very spacious, you don’t get any frills, and you even have to pay for your first bag.
There are a few things that make me skip over Viva Aerobus and pay slightly more for the other airlines. The customer service is pretty terrible. Their website is a pain in the butt to book through. You have to constantly un-tick every box when you book a ticket because you don’t want to accidentally pay for a seat for your dog. I also hate that it doesn’t include a bag when most of the competition always does.
Last but not least, if I’m flying to Cancun, I definitely won’t use Viva Aerobus because it’s in a totally different terminal to all of the other airlines and trying to connect in Cancun airport is a massive pain in the behind.
I like Interjet. I’ve flown with them twice now and had mostly good experiences. The positives about Interjet are that you can get one checked bag included in your flight even when you book the lowest price ticket. There are three levels of tickets – Light, Optima, and Priority.
With Light, you get a checked bag and one hand luggage. With Optima, you get two checked bags and you get to choose your seat when you book. With Priority, you get three checked bags (who needs this many bags?), you get to choose your seat, and you get priority check-in and boarding.
Interjet also has free snacks even on short flights. This is a big perk in my opinion. You get one free drink and a bag of chips to hold you over. I thought that was a nice touch.
The only qualm I have about Interjet is that they were late both times I flew with them. They were massively delayed when I was flying from Cancun to Mexico City and I had to sit in the airport for almost two hours extra. Another time I flew with them I was getting a connecting flight to the UK and the flight was so delayed I was worried I was going to miss my connection (it was fine in the end).
Volaris is my preferred budget airline in Mexico. If there is only a few dollars difference between Volaris and Interjet, I’ll probably pay it to fly Volaris. Everything about Volaris is convenient – their website makes booking really simple and there are no hidden fees or things added on that I didn’t know about. It’s worth mentioning that their website isn’t very mobile-phone friendly. When I’ve tried to search on my phone I usually get annoyed by things popping up and it’s slightly glitchy compared to using the site on a laptop.
The staff are really helpful and when you check-in at Mexico City airport, they have tons of electronic machines where you can really quickly check-in before very quickly dropping off your bag at the desk. It is the most efficient airline at the Mexico City airport, so if you are flying from the big city, I highly recommend doing so with Volaris (Interjet and Viva Aerobus are TOTAL NIGHTMARES at Mexico City airport).
Volaris recently came in with two different ticket prices which I think is great. You can have two cabin bags for a lower price (so no checked bags included). That ticket is called the “Clean Base Fare.” If you want a checked bag included, simply select the “Regular Ticket.” The price difference is usually very minimal, we’re talking a few dollars difference.
Splurging on AeroMexico – Is it Worth it?
I LOVE AeroMexico. It’s the national carrier of Mexico and is definitely NOT a budget airline in Mexico, but sometimes you can find a great deal that’s only a little bit more expensive than the budget airlines. When that happens I’m always tempted to fly with them, both internally and internationally.
I love AeroMexico because the staff are bilingual (which is almost never the case on budget airlines in Mexico). While my Spanish is improving a lot, my airplane Spanish isn’t so great. I also love it because the seats are way more comfortable, you almost always get a meal regardless of how long the flight is, check-in is quick in every airport I’ve been to when I’ve used them, and they have a great entertainment system.
It’s totally up to you and your budget, but for me, if there is only a small price difference between one of the Mexican budget airlines and AeroMexico, I’ll choose AeroMexico every time.
Last weekend I spent the night at Condesa Haus in Condesa and it was utter bliss. It was just the getaway I needed after a stressful week of work and moving house and it also happened to be my birthday weekend, so that made it even better.
Condesa Haus Location
Condesa Haus is on a quiet residential street in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. It’s definitely one of the best neighborhoods to base yourself if you want to enjoy great late night tacos, great bars, and some of the best upscale restaurants in the city.
It’s important to know the address because, like many boutique hotels in Mexico City, there’s no sign outside the hotel. It’s located at Cuernavaca 142.
Although the hotel is on a quiet street, you’re only a block away from the two main streets of Condesa, Michoacan and Tampaulipas. On those streets you’ll find so many great bars, cafes, restaurants, and bakeries. Then it’s about a five-minute walk to Parque Mexico which is a really beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon people watching (and dog watching).
You’re a super quick Uber ride away from the Centro Historico, Roma, or Polanco. If you like walking, it’s about 25 minutes away from Chapultepec. After I checked out of the hotel, I made the walk to Chapultepec and it was very easy.
If you want to take the metro around the city, Condesa Haus is closest to the Patriotismo metro station.
Checking In and Out of Condesa Haus
Checking in was very easy. When I got outside of Condesa Haus, I rang the bell and someone came to the door straight away. Since we had a booking, they took Luke and I straight to our room which was lovely and spacious. I signed some check-in paperwork, got the keys and was on my way.
There is someone at the desk from 8am until 11pm and check-in is from 1:30pm which I found to be really nice and early. Check out is at 11:30.
Checking out was even easier than checking in. We simply handed our keys to the person at the front desk and said goodbye. They kindly let us keep our bag there for a few hours while we enjoyed the sunshine around Condesa.
Our Room at Condesa Haus
There are so many fantastic rooms at Condesa Haus. After touring a few of the rooms, I settled on Suite 3 which is upstairs near the rooftop and had tons of wonderful natural light. This room goes for 2,300 pesos per night (about $120 USD).
A few of the things I really loved about this room were the huge bed (which was incredibly comfortable), the wonderful amount of natural light thanks to all the big windows, the stunning yellow armoire that I genuinely wanted to take home with me, the tiles in the bathroom, and the access to the rooftop.
The shower is always an important one for me and this one was amazing. It had an overhead rain-style shower with plenty of hot water and great water pressure. The towels were plush and it had all of the toiletries that we needed – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and bars of soap.
It was so lovely and quiet at night, which is difficult to find in a hotel in Mexico City. I slept soundly on the comfortable bed and it was big enough that Luke and I could both starfish without elbowing each other.
I was lucky enough to take a little tour of some of the other rooms in the hotel and they were all as fantastic as each other. All of the rooms are themed after either a place in Mexico or a time period in Mexico. There are nine rooms in total in the hotel – big enough to not feel like the only guest, but still small and intimate which I really love.
This stained glass window was 3D with angles to make it look like the rock was sticking out.
The bathroom in the Puebla room
One of the most memorable rooms for me was Puebla. It’s all about the bathroom in this room. When the house was remodeled and turned from a family home into a hotel, this was the home’s original bathroom. The tiles and stained glass window are truly spectacular.
Another room that I really loved was Porfirio. It’s been designed with the Revolutionary times in mind. I absolutely love the furniture in this room, including the centerpiece of the room, the clawfoot tub.
The clawfoot tub in the Porfirio room. I also really love the glass on the shower behind it.
Breakfast at Condesa Haus
Breakfast at Condesa Haus is served from 8am to 11am, which is literally fantastic. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than staying at a hotel where breakfast is included, but breakfast is only until 9am. The fact that breakfast is served until 11 and then check-out is at 11:30 is perfect.
When we sat down at the long table in the dining room, we were brought a big pitcher of coffee and told to enjoy the juice, fruit, and yogurt that was on the table. Then we chose a cooked option off of the menu which had plenty of choice, including a few Mexican classics.
The delicious tortillas at breakfast.
Luke and I both opted for the huevos a la Mexicana, which is simply scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and chili. They asked if we wanted tortillas or toast, and we both opted for the tortillas (I highly recommend it, they’re delicious).
I loved how much care was put into everything – our tortillas were warmed and brought out in a beautiful basket. We were also brought a homemade salsa to put on the eggs which was one of the best I’ve ever had to go with eggs. It was the perfect amount of food for breakfast (and this is coming from two big eaters).
The perfect breakfast.
Condesa Haus Staff
The Condesa Haus staff couldn’t have been more helpful. They were really pleasant, very helpful, and always available if we had a question. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Fernando and his love for Condesa Haus was contagious. He took Luke and me on a tour of the hotel and answered all of our questions about where I could buy myself one of those yellow armoires (La Lagunilla market).
He talked so passionately about retaining the character of the building all the way down to the floor tiles. I really enjoyed hearing about the history of the hotel from his perspective and simply sitting with him over coffee to talk about what an amazing city Mexico City is.
Overall Thoughts on Condesa Haus
This is truly a fantastic B&B in Mexico City. I have nothing negative to say about our time staying there. If you’re looking for a place where you can get a really great night’s sleep that’s near tons of great tacos, cool bars, and delicious restaurants, I highly recommend booking a stay at Condesa Haus. Be sure to spend some time chatting to Fernando about all the best spots to visit while you’re here and tell him I say hello.
Happy birthday to me! Today I turn 30 and while most people keep asking me if I feel or old if I’m freaked out about it, I’m actually pretty happy.
I’ve always loved birthdays. I find them really exciting whether they’re my own or someone else’s. You get to eat cake, blow out candles, eat your favorite dinner, and turn a year older. But it’s certainly made to be a big number and saying goodbye to my twenties means saying goodbye to one seriously kick-ass decade.
This is a photo from my first weekend living in New Zealand way back in 2010!
I visited Japan for the first time during my 20’s which has been a dream of mine since I was a kid!
Goodbye to a Fantastic Decade
It’s certainly the end of an era. My 20’s were great. I will always think of that decade as one of immense growth, most of it painful and uncomfortable. There were plenty of cringe-worthy moments (like getting conned out of $1,500 or almost dropping a trailer into someone else’s pool). There were plenty of times when I wanted to throw in the towel and just live a simpler, more settled life (like those cranky, hot, cramped days in northern Thailand or when I almost ran out of money in Sydney).
But it’s all been worth it. It’s all shaped me into the 30-year-old I am today.
During my twenties, I lived in six different countries that weren’t my own (Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, the UK, and Mexico) and I traveled to more than 20 others.
I studied three languages and somehow managed to make myself understood in all of them.
I went skydiving and hang-gliding. I learned how to scuba dive. I rode horses and camels and hung out with elephants. I’ve eaten some weird and wonderful things (fertilized duck eggs, I’m lookin’ at you).
I’ve slept on couches, in the backseat of a car, in the front seat of a car, on floors and tatami mats, in hammocks and some seriously plush beds.
I’ve worked as a city council member, a software marketer, a gardener, a cherry picker (definitely the worst on the list), a research assistant, a shop assistant, an English teacher, and for a good chunk of this decade, I didn’t work at all.
I have met perhaps hundreds of incredible people, all who taught me a little something that I’ll take with me into this next decade.
It’s almost surreal to try to put it all into perspective.
Traveling around Australia is still a massive highlight of my 20s.
I also learned how to ride a motorbike during the 20’s (and I had a lot of really great tans in my 20’s, too!)
I had a pretty great travel partner throughout this entire decade, too.
I moved to Mexico!
A Bucket List for My 30’s
Luke asked me recently if I think I could possibly top such an outrageous decade as the one just gone. Challenge accepted.
Being in my 30’s brings with it a little bit more financial freedom than I had in my twenties. I can do bigger trips, I can take more time away from my job without having to quit or try to find another while the money runs out.
I’m so excited by the prospect of another decade. A clean slate in which to create totally new adventures. Here are a few things that I have in mind for my 30’s.
1. Do my yoga teacher training (preferably in a fantastically beautifully location like Costa Rica, Tulum or Nicaragua).
2. Buy a camper van and do it up from scratch. Then take it around North America.
3. Take a foodie tour of Europe – I’m thinking France, Italy, Portugal, Spain.
4. Finally go to Eastern Europe.
5. Spend some time exploring Scandinavia.
6. Climb Kilimanjaro.
7. Take a cruise to Antarctica.
8. Walk at least part of the Camino de Santiago.
9. Go back to Asia and visit more of Japan, finally make it to China, and Singapore, too.
10. Move to another country (duh!), maybe two.
11. Get WAY better at Spanish.
12. Explore the western side of Canada
13. See the Northern Lights, preferably while in Scandinavia, but I’ll take Northern Scotland, too.
14. Do an epic, multi-day hike somewhere in the UK like Scotland or northern England (trans-Pennine?)
15. Take a canal boat around England.
These are just a few of the things I have in mind for the next 10 years or so. What else should I add to the list?
The first month of 2018 was a doozy! I didn’t get back to Mexico City until January 8th, then our internet didn’t work for a week. Then we got notice from our landlord that we’d have to move out of our apartment by the end of the month a week before the month ended.
The fact that I managed to get ANY work done this month is actually fascinating, nevermind that I still hit my targets for Copywriting and smashed my goals for blogging. It just goes to show a few really solid days of work and some serious time management is all you need as chaos reigns around you.
If you’ve been following along with my income reports for a while now, you’ll notice that this one is slightly different. One of my hopes for this year as my blogs and side businesses grow, is that these will continue to be a huge help to those of you that read them. I am going to be sharing A LOT more information in these income reports in the coming months with everything from income and expenses to how much I charge for different jobs and how much traffic my websites are getting. I also thought it might be interesting to some people to know how many hours I work throughout the month.
I just want to give you a full picture of how I’m making all of this work because I think there aren’t enough people talking about that in the travel writing and travel blogging sphere. I know that I’ve read that sort of information from other lifestyle, family, and finance bloggers, what they charge for their services doesn’t always work in the travel industry.
How I Worked Towards My 2018 Goals in January
Publish an eBook (preferably by the end of February). I have done a TON of work on this ebook this month and have realized how much more work I need to do in order to make it the best possible product that I can. I am SO excited about it and that makes working on it so easy.
Get to 50,000 page views (currently at roughly 25,000). I have worked really hard on creating SEO-focused content this month and building up my calendar for the next few months with tons of helpful posts that will rank well on Google (that way more people can find them!). Also this month I hit a HUGE milestone and hit over 35,000 pageviews! Woohoo!
Join better-paying ad companies. I am 300 unique views away from joining a better ad program. I’m hoping I can keep my numbers up this month so that I can join a different ad program.
Build my Youtube channel and begin earning $500+ This has hit a bit of a snag since this month YouTube have changed their rules a bit. In order to monetize your YouTube channel now, you need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and quite a few hours of watch time, so I feel sort of like I’m back to square one at the moment. I’m still going to create content when I have good ideas and when I think it will help people, but I’m not going to focus as much energy on this at the moment.
Increase affiliate income to regularly earn over $300 a month. I definitely worked towards that this month with a great post that is already doing well with my readers.
Increase freelance income and reduce copywriting work to a minimum (with the goal of eliminating it completely by the end of 2018). I didn’t do much to help this cause this month. I am still relying heavily on my copywriting work.
Begin regularly earning over $3,000 a month. I am working hard on most of the above so that I can make this a reality very soon.
How Many Hours I Worked in January
I think this is a helpful new addition to the income reports. I often get asked how many hours a week I work and to be honest, I could definitely be working more, but that’s not really my goal with all of this. Freelancing is a lifestyle choiec for me and I don’t want to be strapped to my laptop 24/7.
I didn’t work for the first week of January. The second week I worked roughly 12 hours the entire week simply writing blog posts and catching up with clients to see what work they wanted for the month. The third and fourth weeks of the month were pretty hectic and where I made most of my income. For those weeks I worked a solid 6 hours Monday to Thursday and about two hours on Friday. That’s about 26 hours a week. That left the rest of January from the 29th to the 31st. I worked an additional 6 hours on those three days.
That means, for January I worked about 50 hours in total. That doesn’t include the time I spent posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, throughout the week and filming my videos on the weekends. I am solely counting hours in front of the laptop.
Blog Traffic Report for January
I think giving you some information about how much traffic I’m receiving can help fellow bloggers to put into perspective how much I’m earning versus my traffic. While numbers aren’t everything, they do play a big role in earning money as a blogger.
January was my biggest month of traffic to-date. I am so pumped to have hit over 35,000 page views in January. I know from last year, that January is one of the highest traffic months of the year, so it likely won’t stay this high for ages, but it’s exactly the boost I needed to start the year off. Here is a screenshot of my Google Analytics for January.
Blog Posts in January (and Why I Wrote Them)
I thought I would start being more open about the thought that goes into every post I write. I think it’s something that often gets overlooked, but I’ve learned over the past few months that simply writing whatever comes into my head is not actually a great business model.
I usually consider a few things when I’m about to write a post or when I’m coming up with ideas for the coming weeks. The first thing I do is go to KeySearch to find out what the best keywords are for that idea. So for instance, if I want to write a packing list for winter in the UK, I’ll head to KeySearch and put in different combinations of titles or keywords for this post until I find one that I feel I can rank for on Google.
If I really want to write the post and it looks like it might not rank very well on Google, I go to Pinterest and I use the search bar there to see what the competition is for a post like that on Pinterest. If there aren’t many options for it, I’ll write the post and create 4-5 different pins for Pinterest with different keywords so that my new post is found easily on Pinterest rather than Google (always remember Pinterest is a SEARCH TOOL!).
The last thing I think about when writing a post is whether or not it is focusing on a specific product or tool where I can include an affiliate. One of my big goals for 2018 is to triple my affiliate income and in order to do that, I need to offer valuable reviews and references to good quality products and services that I have tested out myself.
I only worked for three weeks this month and still managed to earn well over my $2,000 monthly goals. While my goal is to obviously increase that number this year, it has now become my base income which I know is more than enough to not only survive on but also to save with while living in Mexico.
Freelance Writing: $500
YouTube: $20 (due to having less than 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will be shutting off my monetization in two weeks, but I’ll continue to work on growing this channel).
Blog Advertisements: $43.45
Affiliate Marketing: $171.80
Total Income for January 2018: $2,501.25
January 2018 Expenses
I didn’t make any new investments this month, but have a few ideas in mind for February, so hopefully I can share some new services and conferences with you in March.
ConvertKit: I have been using ConverKit now for about 5 months and I keep finding new reasons to love it. I have created several different automated sequences that are a lot more helpful to my readers and target specifically what they want. I have a Mexico City email list, a digital nomad email list, a list of people who want to receive my personal monthly newsletter, and a list of people who are interested in general travel tips and updates. This has massively increased my open-rate as reduced unsubscribers. It has also helped increase my affiliate income – much of which comes from my email list. Learn more about ConvertKit here.
Lessons Learned From January
This month has been utter chaos. It has helped me learn a lot about the way that I work. It made me realize that I can accomplish a hell of a lot if I set strict timetables for myself. I was actually more productive with less time this month and I need to carry that into the coming months as I begin to have more work on my plate.
Although I’ve been putting myself out there on the internet now for almost eight years, I still find it difficult to deal with negative comments. This month I learned that I don’t need that negativity in my life and I don’t owe anyone a response. Ever since starting my YouTube channel, I’ve had to seriously limit what I read and how often I check things.
The trouble is, some people ask genuine questions and I want to help them and answer their questions, but unfortunately, due to the sheer amount of trolls on YouTube, I’ve had to shut off notifications for all of my comments and stop reading them altogether. If you have left me a comment on YouTube, I apologize – please contact me on Instagram or via email and I would be happy to help.
I also started using Instagram stories a lot more. I’ve been using it as a way to connect with people and it has been really enjoyable. Sometimes I forget that it’s not all business all the time and that I should try to enjoy social media in the same way non-bloggers do. By looking at it as a way to connect with people, it has stopped feeling like a chore and has actually increased my followers and interaction immensely.
Tasks for February
Instead of referring to them as goals, I’m going to start focusing on accomplishing specific tasks by the end of each month. These tasks relate directly to the overall 2018 goals I’ve set for myself.
Create at least one affiliate-focused post
Publish at least one SEO-focused post per week.
Create automated emails for my digital nomad email list.
Finish the whole introduction section of my ebook as well as two chapters.
Pitch for at least one new freelance client.
I hope you guys found this enormous new income report to be helpful. Let me know if there is any other information that I can share that would make this even more helpful for you in the coming months. There’s no point in writing these things if you aren’t finding any value in them!
I recently bought the North Face Thermoball coat (and got one for Luke, too, so I’ll touch on how it is for men as well as women) and instantly fell in love with it. I’ve been looking for a great travel coat that will keep me warm in most destinations that doesn’t weigh a ton, doesn’t take up too much room, and still makes me feel cute and stylish. This is the holy grail.
The North Face Thermoball is a super lightweight insulated coat that keeps you warm during European winters (I tested it out myself!) and folds up into itself.
The Northface Thermoball Review: Why I Think This is the Best Coat for Travelers
Luke and I have been eye-balling roll-up coats for about two years now. When we lived in Korea, we both owned very heavy, very bulky wool coats. They were stylish and they kept us warm, but they were such a pain in the butt to travel with. You can’t just throw a knee-length wool coat into your backpack and expect to also have room for clothes and an extra pair of shoes.
The North Face Thermoball coat is essentially exactly the same for men as it is for women. You can get it with a hood or without. We both opted for the one without a hood because we love our wooly hats and would likely never use the hood. The coat is incredibly lightweight so even if you didn’t fold it up, you would be able to pack it into your carry-on luggage or backpack without adding any extra weight.
The best part is how easily it folds into its own pocket. One of the pockets has a two-way zipper, so you simply turn it inside out and start packing the coat into itself. After about a minute of shoving, you’ll be able to zip it up. When we flew from the UK to Mexico City this past January, we obviously needed the coats while we were transiting in the UK. Once we got on our flight to Mexico, I packed it into itself and used it as a pillow (I highly recommend this – dual usage and very comfortable!). I then popped it straight into my purse and then unfolded and hung it in my closet when I got home to Mexico City.
It packs into itself and is no bigger than my flip flops!
How Does The North Face Thermoball Fit for Women?
I absolutely love the women’s fit. I think the jacket runs a little bit big for women. I got myself an extra small. I usually wear small t-shirts, am only 5 feet tall, and usually wear a size 2 pants (a 6 in the UK), so this was the perfect fit for me. It hits me right at the middle of my butt, so it keeps me warm. I find the sleeves to be slightly too long, but again, I’m really short. It fits nicely through the body and gives me shape. There’s nothing worse than a coat that makes you look like a blob and this definitely does not do that. It’s got just enough room for me to fit a sweatshirt or thick wool sweater underneath it for added layers.
How Does The North Face Thermoball Fit for Men?
The North Face Thermoball for men is slightly more true to size in my opinion. Luke is a 34-36 chest and a 30 waist, so he also has an extra small. He’s also roughly 5′ 10″. I was able to try mine on when I was in the US for Thanksgiving, but Luke’s was a bit of a gamble because we couldn’t find one for him to try on here in Mexico City (we ordered them online for a Christmas present).
I made my dad try on the small since it looked a little bit big to me. My dad is roughly a 38 chest and about a 34 waist and I thought the small fit him well. He said he wanted more room to wear a sweater underneath and would have bought a medium. It depends on how you like it to fit.
Luke prefers his coat to be fitted, so the extra small was perfect. It fits him perfectly in the shoulders and is a good arm length for him, too. He can still fit a thick sweater or sweatshirt underneath as well without it being too snug.
How Warm Does The North Face Thermoball Keep You?
I wore this coat for a few days in the UK in January when it dropped to about 30 degrees at night and I was super toasty. I had a t-shirt and thin wool sweater on underneath, a hat, and gloves alongside the coat and I happily walked through icy Manchester without feeling cold (except for my nose). It even got a bit windy while we were outside and it completely blocked the wind as well.
I think these coats could easily keep you warm in any US or European winter. If you were going somewhere further north for a trip – like winter in northern Canada or trying to see the Northern Lights in Sweden or Norway, this coat alone might not cut it. However, for regular winter travels, I will definitely be using this coat.
The jacket certainly is not a replacement for a rain jacket. I have a waterproof jacket that I love (I have this Columbia one and it is awesome), but this will certainly keep you dry if it snows or is lightly drizzling. While I was wearing it in the UK, it rained a little bit and I stayed completely dry. According to The North Face website, the jacket has a durable water repellent coating on it that keeps water from soaking into the seams.
How Easily Does it Pack Away?
It truly is so easy and quick to pack the jacket into its own pocket. I absolutely love how small it packs into itself and how light the little bag is once it’s all stowed away. I am pretty clumsy and not a great packer, but even I can pack this puppy away in under a minute.
The only thing that isn’t great is that if you keep it packed into itself for a long time, the jacket gets really wrinkled. I don’t recommend storing the coat this way long term. Only keep it tucked in the pocket while you’re traveling. Once you’re home, unravel it and let it hang up like you would any other coat.