Go here: Camping on the Road to Hana and the cutest BNB in Maui

For two of our seven nights on Maui, we decided to stay in a camper van. I was skeptical at first but it ended up being my favorite part of the trip and I would definitely tell you to go for it if you’re looking for something slightly more “off the beaten path”. (If you know camping is totally not for you, then just skip this first paragraph and head down to the second one where I wrote about the bed and breakfast, it’s much more comfortable there ;)

maui travel guide

His name was Willie the van, I booked him on Airbnb and he came equipped with everything we could possibly need for camping; beach chairs, towels, stovetop, kitchen utensils, etc. It even had twinkle lights hanging inside, which I obviously loved. There was a comfortable platform queen bed in the back with storage underneath and battery operated fans above. We stayed at Camp Olowalu and Waiʻānapanapa State Park, both of which charge camping fees ($20-40), have security at night, and felt completely safe. Olowalu has hot showers and wifi, definitely more upscale, while Waiʻānapanapa was more of a rustic site with traditional camp style bathrooms. (important note, make sure to reserve and print your permit before leaving home for Waiʻānapanapa).

We chatted with some other campers during sunset on the beach and had a great time at both. It was so nice to be able to stay at Waiʻānapanapa after being on the road to Hana instead of driving back to town that night. We got to wake up and have the black sand beach all to ourselves, which was amazing since it’s a top tourist destination. Things to pack: an external battery charger and a cheap little headlamp for getting to the bathroom after the sun goes down. The van had flashlights and USB cigarette lighter chargers but these things just made life easier.

maui travel guide

After our two nights in Willie the van, we checked in to Moana Lani Bed and Breakfast. It was hands down the cutest Airbnb bed and breakfast we’ve ever stayed in. The owners Gwen and Christian felt like friends and they were full of great Maui tips. Our room was super comfy and cute, the lanai patio was perfect for an evening happy hour (with Christian’s delicious mai tais), Gwen’s breakfast was one of the best meals of the the trip, and they had all of the beach necessities ready to go for us every day- including bikes, which we used to bike around Lahaina and to the Feast at Lele.

I truly can’t recommend this place enough, we stayed two nights and my only regret is that we didn’t stay here longer. PS, you can use my link right here and get $40 off your first Airbnb booking. Maui is expensive so use that extra savings to treat yourself to some more shaved ice. ;)

maui travel guide
maui travel guide. black sand beach.
maui travel guide. snorkeling with turtles at black rock.

Our favorite stops on the road to Hana. (If you download the Gypsy Road to Hana app he will point most of these things out. 100% worth it.)

  • Ho'okipa Beach Park. The turtles hanging out on the beach is probably one of the coolest things we saw. From far away they look like huge rocks until then they start slowly moving towards the ocean. Get here early!

  • coconut candy from the little fruit stand at the Huelo Lookout. So delicious.

  • Rainbow Trees at the arboretum

  • Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears). Our friends highly recommended this stop and I’m glad we went, it was the perfect spot to take a cool swim and lay the rocks in the sun.

  • Honomanu Bay. We had this place completely to ourselves. If you have time to spend an afternoon here, it would be a great secluded beach to hang out at.

  • banana bread from Aunt Sandy’s. (if you decide to camp, get an extra loaf and a can of iced coffee at the gas station before you leave Paia to enjoy for your breakfast the next morning!)

  • Venus Pools. You have to walk through a grass field and climb over a little fence to get there but it’s the spot that made us feel like the long drive was totally worth it. It’s a pool surrounded by lava rocks that opens up to the ocean, has cliffs for jumping and clear water for snorkeling.

  • Hamoa Beach. So gorgeous. We were tired and didn’t swim or snorkel (but it looked like it would be great) instead we just sat in our beach chairs at the top of the hill, watched the surfers, and drank a cold Maui Brew. It was bliss.

Other highlights:

  • Snorkeling with turtles at Black Rock Beach. It gets crowded so try to get here early, but even if there are a lot of people already there it’s still worth it! We found 3 turtles playing and swam with them for awhile before anyone else came up and joined us. Park for free at Kahekili Beach Park and then walk the beach path all the way to Black Rock.

  • Hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail. The road along the northwest side of the island is no joke. It was way crazier than the Road to Hana so take the inland route if you’re squeamish, but if you can stomach it then it’s a beautiful drive. We didn’t get to the trail until noon so the clouds rolled in and we got stuck in a rain storm on our hike, so try to get here super early but if it rains on you just embrace it (and don’t bring anything with you that can’t get pretty wet).

  • Surfing at Thousand Peaks and Ka’anapali. Special shout out to Maui at Maui’s Beach House for being the nicest dude in the world, definitely check out his cute store if you’re in Lahaina. He has shaved ice and souvenirs as well as very reasonably priced surf gear.

  • It might seem silly to rave about a rental car, but our experience at Kihei Rent a Car was the smoothest we’ve ever had! They pick up/drop off from the airport, offer the cheapest prices, and were genuinely kind people.

Maui Van Camping and the Cutest Bed and Breakfast

Our favorite meals besides the breakfast at Moana BNB were Fish Market Maui tacos, Gazebo macadamia nut pancakes with fried rice (call to go and skip that crazy line), Ululani’s shaved ice of course, and Huli Huli roadside chicken from Maui Rotisserie.. just do it! (but don’t eat it on the beach because sand blowing into your to-go box is less than ideal)

Moldy Clothes and Falling Coconuts

I do a lot of research before trips (too much to be honest), so I felt pretty prepared when we decided to move to Costa Rica for 3 months. But I’m realizing that google can only get you so far in life.. It’s been a wild ride figuring out life outside of OKC, but we’ve gotten into a groove and we’re pretty comfortable here- as long as I don’t get bit by anything poisonous, I’m good!

costa rica

Things the internet can’t teach you about living in Costa Rica.

  • Everything molds, even if you thought it was completely dry when you put it away... it will mold eventually. Nothing a little cleaning can’t handle but but seriously, I pulled out my extra pair of glasses today and even those were a little fuzzy. *everything except for this backpack. I always carry my canvas one onto the plane when I fly but I really wanted to find one that would be practical for this trip, so I ordered it right before we left and it was the best purchase by far. The biggest pocket is a leakproof cooler so we use it all the time for beers and snacks to take hiking or to the beach.
  • We don’t have a doorbell or glass windows, just screens to keep the bugs out. So when someone comes over they just yell or whistle to get my attention. “Helloooo?” “Kels?”. It cracks me up every time.
  • Shaking the covers is part of our nightly routine. Gotta watch out for those poisonous scorpions. (So far we haven’t had anything besides a few giant ants in the sheets)
  • We have to sit on top of the dryer to get the best wifi connection. (Update: now it only works while we’re sitting on our bed or in a VERY particular spot in the middle of the pool, it’s always changing.) #firstworldproblems
  • The loud sound of coconuts falling and hitting the sand is as normal as hearing a dog bark, it happens all day. We’re used to it now but we still have to remember to *look up* when we’re walking to the beach.
  • I didn’t know Netflix has country restrictions, so when we got here we realized we were blocked from watching some of the normal shows we watched at home. But there are ways around it- VPN ftw! Gotta watch Frasier somehow.
  • Crabs and geckos get in the house all the time. At first I was freaked out but once I saw our favorite little kitchen gecko eat a mosquito, I realized that more geckos = less bugs.
  • We pretty much only wear our swimsuits because it’s hot and #whynot. But hard lesson learned: wear a shirt when you’re frying tacos. I have a battle wound on my stomach from oil popping me in the belly button. (PS this applies to you no matter where you live, I’ll admit I’m 28 and I should’ve known better.. lol)
  • My skin is always shiny. I laugh out loud to myself when I think about how I used to wear highlighter on my cheeks at home so that they would look “dewey”. No problem with that here since l’m naturally dewey 24/7. I’m probably going to wrinkle up like a prune when we go home because I’ve gotten so used to the moisture.
anywhere with you.
  • When people rake their leaves, they burn the leaf piles afterwards. It took me several weeks to get used to the smell of smoke at 3am without having a minor panic attack and jumping out of bed to make sure the house wasn’t on fire. You know when you forget to turn your straightener off, and you hope and pray you don’t smell smoke when you get home later? (no, just me?) Well that’s a similar feeling.
  • At home in Oklahoma, we have bird poop everywhere. Here, the iguanas are the ones doing the pooping, and let me tell you.. they can do some damage.
  • The howler monkeys go nuts when motorcycles drive by. That’s one of the sounds I’ll miss the most for sure. (I’ll miss the hideous macaw squawk too though)
  • We have to hardcore meal plan. It’s not like at home, where we’d plan on grilling chicken and then change our minds at the last minute and decide to  get $5 Little Caesar’s pizza instead. We have to buy meat at a store an hour away and the vegetable truck comes by twice a week. So if we don’t plan ahead then we’ll end up eating a packet of cheap ramen for dinner. (which we’ve done and actually, I’m into it. I never thought I’d eat it again after college but it satisfies my craving for Asian food while we’re here. And if you add in cilantro, green onions, sriracha, maybe an egg.. it’s pretty delicious ;)
  • Bonus: it’s every bit as awesome as I read it would be to be able to see birds and animals pretty much everywhere you turn. We’ve seen sloths and monkeys, whales and dolphins. Basically if you want to see wildlife, all you have to do is open your eyes.

How to get a House Sitting Gig

So we’ve officially been house sitting for a week.

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We’re living in a new country, learning new routines (more on that later), meeting new neighbors. There have been some interesting moments for sure, but all in all it has turned out to be better than I thought it could be. Life without AC has definitely been the biggest adjustment. All of the windows are screens so we have 3 fans pointed on us at night and an ocean breeze during the day, it’s pretty steamy at times but I think my body is getting used to it though.

The people here live a much slower paced life. There’s one dirt road in our town, two grocery stores, a small handful of restaurants. It’s the most simple, laid back community I’ve ever visited. Since it’s so remote and most people don’t have a car there is a fruit and veggie truck that comes by twice a week. He parks out front at 9am and honks his horn to let us know he’s there, then we go out and pick what we want and pay him at the back of the truck. It’s one of my favorite parts so far.

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Some people have been asking me how it works so I wanted to answer some questions about house sitting here.

Is it a paid house sitting job? No, most of the ones I’ve seen online are a free swap. You stay for free and they get a free house sitter, it’s a win win. Even though you’re not getting paid, the amount of money you’re saving on housing or hotels definitely makes up for itself.

How did you get it? I made a profile and applied with Trusted Housesitters. I think the key is to tailor all of your applications to the particular house sitting job you’re applying for- similar to any job application. Also make your profile look good, put some time into it and be quick to respond to new listings.

How many people apply? Ours had over 150 people contact the owner but he only interviewed a couple applicants. Like I said, tailoring your application will really help you stand out. If you just copy/paste the same line that says, “I love pets and I’d love to take care of your dog” and then you apply for a house sit that doesn’t have a dog, that shows you’re not really trying. 

Are you still working? Danny is working full time remotely and I’m still doing illustration and design. So hit me up if you have a custom project in mind ;)

What are your responsibilities? They’re all different, but at our place all we really have to do is be at the house overnight. We turn the porch lights on and off, take care of the chickens, sweep the pool sometimes. There is a house keeper and pool caretaker so it’s pretty well looked after, we’re just here for extra security.

But, why Costa Rica? And why 3 months? We had visited Costa Rica twice before and knew that we loved it, and it felt familiar. This house sit in particular was for three months but they all vary, some are just one or two weeks.

*extra application tip: you should set up a bookmark for specific cities that you’re interested in because it’s super important to apply quickly! The good ones will go fast.

You can browse for free without paying for a membership, but if you want to apply for gigs you’ll need to pay a yearly membership fee (which pays for itself once you land your first night at a free housesit). Sign up with my link to get 25% off member fees, and I’ll get a month for free :) 

Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to chat with you about it.

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Here’s to learning new things and experiencing a different culture, even just for a little while. xo.

3 months in Costa Rica

Hola from Costa Rica! Quick life update: This is our new home for the next 3 months! Keep reading for the long update ;)

At the beginning of 2018 I decided to stop making my plush taxidermy (traveling a lot for my husb’s work made it difficult), and I spent a few months in a weird limbo wondering WTH I was going to do with my business.

For a second, Danny and I thought we were going to open a small music venue with some friends in OKC. We hit it hard for about a month I was like ohh ok, I’ll be working at this place all the time now, this is my new life plan. 🎸🍻🎤🤘🏻We ended up running into too many roadblocks, but the planning process was super fun for me and I think we’d love to try again in the future.

In the meantime I started sketching, just for myself mostly. Sunny beach inspired art. Then I put myself out there and one thing lead to another and I got a few really fun opportunities that made me excited about my business again, and I felt like I knew what I was doing.

Fast forward a few months, and we were sitting on a plane on our way to Zancudo, Costa Rica to housesit for the next three months. It really happened so quickly, we decided on a whim to apply and then got accepted and were gone less than three weeks later. Every time we go on vacation we talk about how awesome it would be to move to the beach, but how sad we would be to leave our family and friends. So this is the best of both worlds! It’s long enough to give us a taste of Costa Rican life but short enough to not make us feel like we’re uprooting our entire life back home.

So far this whole process has been the most spontaneous, outrageous thing I’ve ever done. It probably doesn’t seem like a long time to most people because a lot of people study abroad or move out of state for a job. But I’m a pretty anxious person and I’ve never left home for more than two weeks (even though I love to travel, my traveling is mostly 5 nights or less).

Basically what I’m saying is, don’t bog yourself down thinking about your life plan for the next 5-10 years. Take it as it comes. Take chances. Do something that feels exciting and scary and hope for the best. If I was still busy sewing custom orders and feeling comfortable with my business, then I might never have gotten restless, never started dreaming about doing something a little different. Honestly I have no clue if this is going to end up being the best experience of my life or if I’m going to be crying in a month wanting to go home early and sleep in my own bed. But I’m hoping for the former.

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How to save over $400 on flights

If you have someone you frequently travel with and want to get half of all of your flights for free (I mean, who doesn't?), then this post is for you.

by kelsey davis design

I just spent way too much time booking our flights to Turks and Caicos, comparing cost breakdowns to see if it's a better value to book with cash or points. I wanted to share my findings with you here because A.) I'd love to save someone else the headache of figuring it out themselves and B.) somehow turning my 2 hours of research into a blog post makes me feel a little bit better about myself.

So, here's the breakdown of how we saved over $400 by booking with points and using our Southwest Companion Pass.

  • Every SW point = 1.5 cents.
  • One flight from OKC to Turks and Caicos costs 14,730 points, plus $103.41 in fees (intl airport fees are steep)
  • Converting points to dollars, it comes out to $411.44 for one roundtrip ticket, fees included.

If we booked using cash instead of points, the total cost would have been $457. So, we already saved $45.56 by using Southwest points instead of paying cash.

Now, in comes the beautiful Companion Pass, which lets your designated partner fly free with you on every trip for *at least an entire calendar year. With your pass, you only have to pay taxes and fees, which varies by country for international flights.

  • $103.41 = cost of reserving your companion's ticket (taxes and fees)
  • $514.85 = grand total for two roundtrip tickets from OKC to Turks & Caicos. (instead of $914, which would've been the cost of two full priced Southwest tickets.. pretty, pretty good!)
  • Plus - in case you're not familiar, you get two free checked bags apiece on every SW flight. Yep, even your companion. We usually carry on, but in those times when you need to bring a lot of sunscreen (Caribbean vacay, y'all) it's nice to check for free.

Now, I was curious about how much we were actually saving by booking specifically with Southwest (because that's how I get my kicks in life, lol) so I looked into how much it would cost for both of us to fly to T&C on a different airline.

The cheapest I could find was a combination of Delta and United, which costs $1,142 for two roundtrip tickets, plus $50 per checked bag (um, plus a 16 hr layover? bye). So, compared to the $514 we spent booking with Southwest, that's $627.15 in savings, not even counting baggage fees! And that makes me so dang happy. We just got our second Companion Pass, so we're going on 3 years of free flights and let me just tell you, it never gets old.

A few things I want to point out:

- These prices are reflective of flying to the Caribbean from the Midwest area. If you live in Florida your ticket will be chump change compared to these prices, on any airline I'm sure. I envy you.

- You do need to get two Southwest credit cards to get the Companion Pass. Although it might seem tricky to juggle multiple cards, we use ours as if they were debit cards. I get on and pay them off a few times per month so that we never have a balance and never pay interest, which is just a personal preference but something I wanted to note.

- The fees that you'll pay for your companion ticket on domestic flights are WAY cheaper. 

* The Companion Pass can last you more than a full year, depending on when you get it. See my post here for more details.

- This post isn't sponsored by Southwest, but it should be ;)

how to save money on flights

Go Here: Bright Bungalows in the New Orleans Bywater

We went to New Orleans last year for Easter and it ended up being an unexpectedly colorful trip. I didn’t know much about NOLA beforehand but I came away loving the laid back vibe and wanting to make a tradition of it and go back every Easter. The weather in April was amazing and there was enough going on with celebrations and parades to feel like we were getting a true NOLA experience without the crazy crowds of Mardi Gras.  We decided to stay in an Airbnb in Bywater (the green garden house below) and I'm so glad we chose that spot! It was just a short bike ride through the newly redone riverfront park to the French Quarter or any of the other NOLA sights, and couldn’t be any cuter with its bright bungalows and corner cafes. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quieter place to sleep but still stay close to the action.

Airbnb cutie in NOLA

We stayed in a private two story guest cottage with a balcony and free bikes -direct link here. It's safe, clean and comfortable (not to mention adorable), and it has a full kitchen with plenty of room to spread out and make yourself at home. If you've never used Airbnb before, its a great way to get a feel for the neighborhood instead of feeling like a total tourist, and you can use my invite for $40 off your first booking.

NOLA favorites. Cafe Du Monde
NOLA favorites.
NOLA favorites.
NOLA favorites.
NOLA favorites.

Top row is from Elizabeth's in the Bywater- really is a must for brunch. The praline candied bacon and bloody mary were amazing, and I loved my shrimp and grits too!

Bottom row images are from Frenchmen Art Market and I'd definitely recommend it for a nighttime activity. Frenchmen is such a fun area to explore by bike or foot, with tons of restaurants and local music, it's like a hip version of the French Quarter and it can easily keep you busy for hours.

NOLA favorites.

Some of our favorites and my first attempt at a travel video below:

  • The Joint BBQ
  • Elizabeth's (praline bacon)
  • Satsuma (pancakes!)
  • Pizza Delicious (white pie)
  • Magazine Street 
  • Frenchmen Street at nighttime/ Frenchmen Art Market
  • Take the 12th St streetcar and hop off explore the whole way
  • The Zoo has a fun NOLA swamp exhibit
  • The French Quarter, obviously! Catch a parade. Explore the shops. Admire the architecture. 
  • Killer Poboys in the French Quarter
  • Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee
  • Lafayette Cemetary
  • One night you have to Uber to the French Quarter and get a Hand Grenade. Or a Hurricane. Or both.. ;) 
  • Biking and taking the street car are the best ways to see it all

Shout out to all of the 12 year olds on youtube that make how to videos for us middle aged girls just trying to put together a little travel vlog. They make it seem so easy (but it's so not).

The Best Costa Rica Airbnb's (under $200!)

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is spend hours on the internet looking at vacation rentals. (no, for real. I think it's actually a hobby of mine at this point.) I spent so much time browsing that I had a legit Airbnb nightmare last night.. we got there and the bed was missing, the sink was full of dishes, the pool had no water in it.. just a straight up nightmare, y'all. (Ha! I only wish I was kidding.)

I know that for some of you, vacation planning and rental searching is your own personal version of hell. Amirite? Don't worry, I'll happily share the fruits of my labor with you.

Costa Rica is a dream. Wild jungle animals meet miles of beaches, cute little towns, active volcanoes, and friendly people. It's not the place to go for an all inclusive vacation- it's the place to go for an adventure.

I've rounded up some of my favorites that meet most, if not all, of the things on my list. (and they're all backed up by excellent reviews- which I feel is super important when it comes to renting a house in a foreign country)

Costa Rican Airbnb wish list: 

  • Private house with a view
  • Swimming pool
  • Kitchen or kitchenette
  • less than $200 a night
  • Danny wants wifi.. not at the top of my list but I'll admit it definitely makes life easier

Of note: these first 3 options don't have AC, but the reviews all say there is enough of a breeze that this isn't a problem at all. This was our experience as well when we stayed at Mango Valley (pictured at the bottom).

Costa Rica airbnb

As if staying in a freaking awesome treehouse wasn't amazing enough, "guests enjoy free 24 hour access to the 12 natural hot and cool springs pools of various temperatures and rainforest trails." And um, hi.. it's only $129 a night. 

Costa Rica airbnb

Private two bedroom villa with everything a family needs on vacation and a shared pool with 3 other villas. Walking distance to Samara beach. $148

Costa Rica airbnb

"Spectacular volcano and lake views from every room" and a spacious balcony. Sold. $118

So I definitely think a tad rustic is the way to go in Costa Rica, but I couldn't resist including a few beautiful modern houses as well. 

Costa Rica airbnb

 "Serenity Beach House". $209, gorgeous private pool, AC, full house includes 5 beds.

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Fairly new so not many reviews yet, but so far no one has anything negative to say about this fully equipped, amazing house with open air in the common areas, AC in the 2 bedrooms. $129 and in a gated community close to the beach. 

Costa Rica airbnb

This amazing pool with an absolutely killer view pretty much seals the deal for me. (Open air shower, AC, and modern furnishings aren't so bad either.) $247 -more than we would pay on our own BUT it sleeps 4 people comfortably with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, so split between two couples this house is a sweet deal.

Costa Rica airbnb

Infinity pool with an ocean view. AC and comfortable amenities as well as 2 bedrooms. $172

Honorable mention. Very simple cottages overlook the gorgeous Mango Valley, this place is an underrated gem. We stayed here one night because it's 25 minutes from SJO and we had an early flight the next morning- although I wouldn't recommend staying here for your entire trip, you can't beat this gorgeous little pool for $67 near the airport.

Also note: most of these places are near the Province of Guanacaste or Arenal volcano area but we stayed here two years ago in Dominical and absolutely loved it. The view is amazing and we saw a wild sloth chilling right outside our window. One of my favorite moments ever.

Now for the hard part. Will you stay somewhere with views of the valley or steps from the beach? Maybe a little of both? Life is full of tough decisions, isn't it ;) Hope I made it a little easier for you, though. Pura Vida.

Feel Good Friday

Things I'm loving right now.

WATCHING: You guys have to check out Little Big World on youtube (or Amazon Prime!). I stumbled on it today and it's amazing. Basically it's a series of time-lapses taken all over the world and edited with a tilt shift lens, which makes everything look miniature and adorable! Each episode is less than 3 minutes, so it's super fun and easy to watch.

PLANNING: Our trip to the Bahamas! We're staying on Long Island in March. If you have any tips for the Out Islands send them my way ;) If you're interested, you can follow along with my planning on my pinterest board.

LOVING: Design Love Fest's interior.

Design Love Fest

EATING: I got a juicer for Christmas so I've been doing a lot of experimenting. I like to keep track of the combinations I've used so I might post them here from time to time. Because I mean, those COLORS. So gorgeous right? Y'all have any fave juice recipes? 

carrot, ginger, apple, lemon. juice recipes.

WEARING: It's been unusually warm in OK for February. I've basically been living in a tank top with a light sweater and it's been bliss.

light sweater + tshirt+ tennis shoes

INSPIRING: I just stumbled on Charlotte Love's instagram and OMG it's fantastic.

Charlotte Love

WANTING: This burrito ring from bando.

Burrito ring from Bando

LISTENING TO: Feel good indie pop girl, Frankie Cosmos. We're taking a quick trip to Chicago to see her and Real Estate in May. SO PUMPED. Check her out here.

frankie cosmos