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)

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 not terrible but it’s pretty steamy at times. I think my body is getting used to it though. Haha.

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.

How did you get it? I just 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 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’ve 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 can set up alerts for specific areas that you’re interested in, so when a new listing becomes available you’ll receive an email. It’s important to apply quickly so if you’re serious you should definitely look into that. You can browse for free without paying for a membership, but if you want to sign up with my link you’ll get 20% off member fees (and I’ll get a month for free :) 

 

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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).

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