I love podcasts.
I listen to podcasts constantly – when I am cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, when I am out walking, when I am driving to pick up our grocery order, when I go to bed, when I am on airplanes and by swimming pools.
Over the past ten years, I have watched podcast favorites cease production (Yeah, It’s That Bad; Seen / Unseen) and new podcasts emerge to take the world by storm (Serial; Dirty John). I am constantly on the hunt for new podcasts, and always enjoy sharing my recommendations with others.
Here are some of my current top picks:
When the Currently Reading podcast made its debut a couple of years ago, I felt like I had truly found my reading people. I was missing Books on the Nightstand quite a bit, and hadn’t really found another reading podcast that really struck a chord with me (and boy, did I check out many).
This has become a favorite of mine for two main reasons:
1.) Hosts Meredith and Kaytee are great – they are warm, genuine, enthusiastic, and have awesome chemistry when chatting books together. It's an easy banter than makes for an easy listen.
2.) My book tastes align with theirs quite a bit, and if they recommend something and have strong opinions about it, I know to immediately add it to my reading list.
Each episode features a “bookish moment of the week”, a rundown of what each host is currently reading, a discussion topic, and a book each host wants to press into readers’ hands.
Where to Start? I recommend downloading any, since this is an easy podcast to duck in and out of.
I Hate it But I Love It
While this (primarly) movie-driven podcast isn’t new, it is new to me, and I have begun bingeing episodes at bedtime. There are FEW podcasts that make me laugh out loud (see also Yeah, It’s That Bad) but the incredible quick wit of hosts Kat Angus (editor for Buzzfeed) and Jocelyn Gedde (television writer and comedian) always make me smile, at the very least.
Each episode is a deep-dive into one film (a couple of television series have been covered as well) and the women break down their past experiences with the movie, their thoughts on the rewatch, if they would recommend checking it out, and a full recap of the plot (which is usually when I start cracking up.) You’re not going to see any Oscar-winning titles here…look for episodes covering the likes of Varisty Blues, Practical Magic, Scream, and The Net.
Where to Start? I recommend scanning the list and downloading the I Hate it But I Love It episodes that feature movies that you remember watching (and maybe liking).
True Crime Garage
Join Nic and The Captain from the garage in Columbus, Ohio, as they crack open a featured beer and embark on a thorough investigation and retelling of a true crime case, either solved and unsolved. Covering both famous and relatively unknown cases, the guys really do their research, presenting very in-depth coverage of the events, suspects, and timeline of the crimes. While some cases are presented in one to two episodes, some span four or more, really diving into the details. My hope with the popularity of true crime podcasts is that more people learn about unsolved cases, perhaps leading to their eventual solving. Nic and The Captain are generally good about warning about speaking of more gruesome details, so if you’re sensitive (like me) you can skip those episodes or segments.
Where to Start? If you’re looking for a particular case, there’s a good chance the guys have covered it, so just do a search on the True Crime Garage page. If you’re not sure where to begin, you might use this list as inspiration. Cases/episodes that have piqued my interest have been Brian Shaffer, Maura Murray, and Jennifer Kesse. I am always hopeful that the more ears hearing about unsolved cases, the more likely someone will remember something or have information helpful to law enforcement.
The Lazy Genius
Kendra Adachi reminds listeners (and readers) to be “smart about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t”, and her job as podcast host, author, and Instagram queen is to guide us to living better lives. She covers such a wide variety of topics, it is hard to imagine NOT finding something that resonates – from cleaning the bathroom, to planning a capsule wardrobe, to creating traditions, to reading by season, each episode provides a clear-cut plan of action for making one aspect of your life easier and better! Episode #150 “A Pep Talk for Being Stuck” made me tear-up while doing dishes, and these bite-sized episodes are perfect listens while prepping dinner or doing another task.
Where to Start? Since each episode has one designated topic, I recommend looking through the list of shows and seeing which ones suit your current needs.
Sorta Awesome makes me super happy. Meg, Rebekah, and Kelly know how to put a smile on my face discussing all of the awesomes of life. Each show kicks off with an “awesome of the week” and the hosts tell listeners about ANYTHING that brought them joy that week – this could be a beauty product, a YouTube channel, a type of planner, or a recipe website…literally, anything. From there, they discuss the week’s topic – this could be of the lighter variety such as personality types, interesting true crime cases, seasonal must-lists, television shows, or go-to recipes, or veer heavier by exploring themes such as developing social skills, navigating quarantine, or overcoming analysis paralysis. I always come away from each episode with good ideas and/or products to check out, so this podcast is always on my recommended list.
Where to Start: I especially love their seasonal episodes (including the holiday gift guide) so maybe check out Awesome Summer List 2020 (episode #247) for some ideas on how to make this summer awesome since it’s going to look different for many of us. (As of writing this, I haven’t listened to this episode yet!)
If you have a podcast you love, please share in the comments! Happy listening!
I am thrilled to start creating helpful and fun videos for your viewing pleasure!
The TravelbyStephanie YouTube channel will focus on both travel preparation and my adventures, with an emphasis of course of the vegan foods I eat on vacation.
The first series of videos are coming soon, and will feature our experiences sailing on the Disney Fantasy.
Breezy, lighthearted videos that showcase real life travel experiences from both an agent perspective and a mom perspective. Informative details about vegan food options on various sorts of vacations. A travel agent who takes her job seriously, but doesn't take herself too seriously.
My daughter selected the backpack she would like to take on vacation with us, and mama got to work packing it up for her...she won't see its contents until we are up in the air. I am not concerned about her first flying experience*, as she is a rather sedentary and relaxed sort of kid, but I do want to make it enjoyable and special.
Mom tip: The Dollar Tree is an amazing place to find great treats for the airplane, or vacation in general. With a bevvy of DIsney licensed products (yes, still at $1 each!) I was able to create a fun goody bag for the kiddo. Some of these items are going into her backpack, and others will be saved as surprises for once we are on the ship.
necessities in her backpack
2 pull-ups, wipes, Kleenex package
(new) Frozen water bottle from WalMart (98 cents) to add water after TSA
small packed breakfast (PB&J, fruit, cookies and we bought a Silk soy milk box near our gate)
new, fun goodies in her backpack
Fancy Nancy markers
small magnetic doodle board
Disney characters surprise packs (found CHEAP at PTA sale)
Fancy Nancy stickers
cheap finds for on-board fun
glow sticks and bracelets from Dollar Tree
Mickey Mouse bubble bath
mini sand toys for Castaway Cay
In a nutshell, very little cost can equal a whole lot of fun surprises. Go explore your local Dollar Tree and see what goodies you can find for your next Disney vacation.
*Update post-travel - the kid wanted off the plane in about an hour, but we managed to keep her (mostly) occupied for the duration of the flight.
I don't like to brag, but I have become a sort of well-oiled machine in advance of my travels with my husband. A list-making, organized, well-prepared traveler I am, but all of that is going out the window as we count down the days until our first family vacation.
I don't feel like travel agent, seasoned traveler, or champion packer. I just feel like an overwhelmed mom of a preschooler who is joining us on her first vacation. In one of my many (MANY) texts to a frequent-client-and-fellow-mom-turned-friend, I confessed that I don't even feel like I do this for a living. I was looking to her for advice. We had a good laugh over that, and I am hoping she still trusts me with her travel arrangements. (Kidding!)
I started packing about a month in advance (I normally pack about 2 days before travel), started shopping about three weeks in advance for small necessities, made about 15 lists, and then hounded my husband to just get done too (he normally is packing 8 hours before departure). I was a ball of stress, basically.
Part of this is because we booked our DIsney cruise about six weeks from departure, and it was a whirlwind from then on - between planning for and making Fish Extenders and FE gifts (that will be a whole 'nother post), buying new wardrobes for everyone in the house (next size up for the 3yo, clothing that isn't from my husband's high school days, and a few sizes down for this weightloss mama), procuring all of the little odds and ends needed for travel, and dealing with the multiple components of this vacation (transfers, airfare, baggage, the cruise, Port Adventures, our night post-cruise) it has been a real juggling act.
We are checking luggage (2 bags) for this vacation. We are normally carry-on travelers, even for 8 night vacations like this one. We pack lighter and do laundry on the ship halfway through, which is always our preference. BUT, checked bags cost less with our carrier than carry-on bags, and we need a whole section of a bag for nighttime Pull-Ups, so larger luggage it is. Even the needs of a little tiny 3yo take up real estate, and we're not even packing formal gear or costumes.
I have picked up some "vacation surprises" for our daughter. Dollar Tree trips have been in the rotation in the days leading up to departure, and I have found so many fun surprises for our daughter - between goodies for her airplane backpack and throughout the cruise, I was able to indulge on extra magical touches without spending much money. Some of my favorite finds? A magnetic drawing board, Fancy Nancy markers, a Doc McStuffins magic towel, Mickey Mouse bath-time color-changing tablets, glow bracelets, and Disney-themed workbooks.
An entire medicine cabinet is coming along. I normally pack an abundance of medicines and first aid items when we travel, but now with our daughter coming along, I need to make sure she also has anything she might need. This includes Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Zarbee's, and Dramamine. (She has never shown signs of motion sickness, but she has also never been on a ship, so I am being cautious here.)
We are staying one night in Orlando post-cruise. Yes, I love the idea of getting home and having both Saturday and Sunday to grocery shop, unpack, do laundry, and decompress; however, there are no flights that work for our family on this day. We need a late enough flight to allow us time to travel from Port Canaveral to Orlando International Airport (and allow plenty of time for security!), and nonstop flights are always our preference, especially from Florida. We searched for a hotel with an included airport shuttle to make this easier on our family.
I am trying to keep my expectations in check. My husband and I have anxiously awaited traveling with our daughter for the first time, and we have long desired to make travel an important part of our family...but we waited until she was 3.5 to start taking her along with us so she can really begin to enjoy our time away.
That being said, going into this I have some concerns about our 3yo - she tends to be on the quieter side and is sometimes cautious about joining in, she likes routine, she prefers organized activities to just running amok and making her own fun, we are facing an extremely long travel and embarkation day, and overall I just fear she will get overwhelmed. I plan on taking each day in stride, and will try to keep her meal times, rest time, and bedtime on a similar schedule to her regular day-to-day.
I will be writing a follow-up post to this detailing our experience traveling with our daughter for the first time.
Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for an honest review.
TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-On
Located in Puerto Morelos, about a twenty minute drive from the resorts in this area, sits a lovely haven in the jungle - Los Colibries Mayan Jungle Spa. Designed for the ultimate outdoor relaxation experience, owner Valerie offers several packages for guests to have their worries massaged and soaked away in a lovely natural environment.