What to Wear When Visiting the Great Barrier Reef

Here’s what I packed for 4 days/3 nights in Port Douglas, which is quite warm pretty much all year round:

3 bathing suits…our hotel had about FIVE ACRES of pool, so I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in a bikini. You can definitely get away with only packing one, though! The brands pictured are SeaFolly, Triangl, and Urban Outfitters.

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One cute, summery dress for dinners out…this dress is by Mumu.

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I only wore 3 of these shirts. I wore the black, striped one from Old Navy with a denim skirt for wandering around town. I wore the flowy, white one from Free People with denim shorts when we went on the scenic helicopter flight. I wore the white graphic tank from Urban Outfitters with my high-waisted SeaFolly shorts on our final day when we walked on the beach for one last time and flew back to Brisbane. Last but not least I wore the black, low back cover up dress from Roxy over my bathing suit when we went snorkeling on the GBR.

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Here are the bottoms mentioned above: from SeaFolly, Zara, and H&M. I could have gotten away with packing way less since they are all denim and look similar. But I wasn’t backpacking, so I didn’t have to worry about packing light 😉

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For shoes I had my leather Steve Madden sandals and black Reef flip flops, both of which go with basically anything. The Steve Madden ones made me feel a little more dressed up. I only wore my Birkenstocks once on the first day, so I definitely would have been fine not bringing them. We didn’t end up doing any long walks or hiking, so if you have something like that planned, bring better walking shoes. (I own two completely different pairs of Tevas that would have worked.)

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Don’t forget to accessorize and pack your favorite sunglasses, you’ll definitely need them! Another thing you can’t go without is sunscreen–and lot’s of it.

If you want to see what I got up to in Port Douglas, check out my vlog here!

To read our day-by-day itinerary click here.

You can see my review of the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas here if you’re trying to decide where to stay 😉

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Ollie O’Loughlin’s Guide to Airport Beers

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For this post I interviewed my hubby, who is Australian and therefore has traveled a hell of a lot more than I have. Over the years, he has basically perfected the art of drinking in airports around the world and considers himself “the man, the myth, the legend of airport beers”. I wanted to share this very important information on the blog and give some tips and insight to help you improve upon your own airport drinking skills.

Allison: Welcome to the Daydreamer Next Door–excited to have you here today! For starters, can you run us through a situation that comes to mind when you hear the words airport beers?

Ollie: When it comes to airport drinking there are several thousand stories I can tell and most of them would be some of the best stories I could ever tell, but lets keep it simple for now. There’s almost a beauty to it, and when I say beauty I don’t glorify alcohol abuse or drinking alone unless you’ve had a hard day at work and you’re sharing a glass of wine with your pet cat, but the sense of adventure could make a sober person want to have at least one beer before their trip into the unknown. So once you check your bags and you clear security and you’ve passed the bomb test which you’re holding your breathe you don’t get, even a sane man feels a little thirsty. You scour the airport like a rat looking for the next best piece of cheese, and then all of the sudden you find a bar where there’s a seat, television screen, and a bunch of people who look like they could offer good chat. You order your first beer–you’ve got your hometown favorite, take one of those. While your passport is on the bar the person next to you says, “where are you heading?” You reply with great excitement telling them your destination, and before you know it you’re in a great conversation, and that’s even before you leave. Fast forward… you’re cheers-ing and walking toward your gate. You have a few on the plane, and then you reach your dreaded lay over which no one wants to have. After about 8 hours of sleep, which on a plane feels like 1, you feel like a busted asshole. So the first thought that comes to mind is how can I cure the thirst that feels like an unfillable well? You walk the foreign terminal lands like Napoleon discovering the north pole. You finally deem a bar worthy of your 2 hour layover. You look at the draft beer, the taps behind the bartenders. Some of them you’ve seen, some of them you have not. You decide “what the hell,” and you dive into a beer you’ve never even heard the name of. One sip in, the bartender asks you if you like it? You reply yes with all the politeness your mother taught you from a young age. Your passport on the bar now carries a lot more weight than it did back home. Before you know it, you’re talking to several people from several different countries all because they can identity the Australian cross. There have been times I’ve had a full blown conversation with someone form a nation I do not even know of or the language they were speaking… but we bonded over one thing at the bar and that was a sure nod at the scoring of a soccer goal. This and a whole world of possibilities opens up when you participate in airport drinking. I can’t wait for my next airport beer!

Allison: What would you say are the top 3 benefits of airport beers?

Ollie: Meeting new friends, being more relaxed on a flight (flying is scary and very uncomfortable especially for a large man), and some of the airport bars I’ve been to are better than normal bars and usually do good food too.

Allison: How do you know what area to settle down in?

Ollie: Me personally I always look for a place with a lot of screens because there’s almost always sport on. And a place with a lot of taps because you know they have a variety of beers. I prefer a more open space versus a tiny bar. Being closer to your gate is also ideal–catching a tram 3 terminals away means more time between your last beer at the bar and the next beer on the flight.

Allison: With all this liquid, how do you time your last bathroom break?

Ollie: The best time is right after closing out your tab but before boarding. You know once you hop on a flight it’s about an hour or more until the seat belt sign turns off.

Allison: What’s the number one tip you can offer?

Ollie: Rule number one is never let anyone know how many beers you’ve had. You need to be let on the flight and also allowed more alcohol in the air.

Allison: Do you ever have cocktails or is it just beers?

Ollie: I personally only have beers purely because if you spend a couple grand on a plane ticket the extra $3 for a cocktail doesn’t seem worth it until you get to your destination.

Allison: What time is it acceptable to start drinking?

Ollie: As soon as the bar opens which is usually 6 am. It’s the one place in the world where it’s acceptable to drink beers at 6 am.

Allison: What are your favorite airport bars around the world?

Ollie: My top three are the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney, Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore, and Stone Brewery in San Diego. I really like Indianapolis Airport because they have a sick Lids store, it’s never busy, and the people are nice. Drinking Guinness in Dublin Airport was also fun while watching Air Lingus planes take off.

Allison: Thank you for joining us and walking us through how to make the most of an airport drinking session!
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Reflecting on Time With Jord Watches: My 1 Year Blogiversary

Quite often as I’m scrolling through the blogs I follow, I come across their anniversary posts. Reflections on the past year of their blogs-two, three, and even more years having passed since they first started. Then it dawned on me that I too have a blog and realized that it’s already turning a year old. So I’ve decided to join in on the tradition of posting a “blogiversary” post each year.

My blog all started a year ago when I decided I needed a creative outlet. I had recently moved to the west coast and started my big girl job in pharmacy, which is obviously highly scientific and structured. Then football season came around and I realized every Sunday for the NFL season (and even most Saturdays for college football) would have to be spent at home so Ollie could watch all the games. This gave me more free time and left me a little bored considering I don’t care to watch every single game if the Bears or Dolphins aren’t on. I spent more time reading, daydreaming about travel, and remembering the previous trips I’ve taken. I had an urge to write about it all, so I got on WordPress and started, without knowing how blogs work or what direction I was heading.

When I first considered writing a blogiversary post, I was hesitant. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much or anything worth writing about. Some blogs and instagrams have thousands upon thousands of followers by the time they turn one. That definitely wasn’t the case for me; however, as I thought about it more, I realized I had accomplished a lot and that this first year was worth documenting and remembering even just for my sake-which is why I started my blog, for me and only me. If people want to follow along then that’s just a very welcome bonus.

So here are some things I’m proud of and some journeys I’ve been on this year:

  • I’ve stayed with it and still feel inspired every day
  • I put a lot of thought into my vision and target audience to try and post more consistent content
  • I renamed my blog to “The Daydreamer Next Door”
  • I reached out to a graphic designer to collaborate on a logo in the future
  • I started an Instagram page specifically related to my blog and to highlight travel
  • I invested in a nice camera to post high quality photos
  • I started playing around with making videos of my travels using said camera
  • I started reaching out to tourism boards for potential collaborations-no bites yet but good practice!
  • I took a promotion at work so I now have weekends off and more vacation time (making things happen with 1 week paid vacation and working every 2nd weekend was very challenging)

Last but not least, I started collaborating with Jord Watches which has been so fun and wouldn’t have been possible without my blog and social platforms. I’m so excited to be able to offer my readers a chance to win $75 off a gorgeous women’s watch or men’s watch. The contest goes until September 25 and just by entering you are guaranteed a $20 off voucher (all vouchers must be used by 1/31/17). I choose to get Frankie which is made with natural zebra wood and has a navy face-the perfect shade for me considering I so often find myself on the beach chilling by the ocean. It’s a unique watch-simple and neutral all while making a statement with the large face and pop of blue. It’s also been a cool watch to take on my travels because it matches so much of my wardrobe and quickly makes me feel more put together and accessorized. Thank you Jord Watches for making me feel like a more fashionable adult and for helping me keep track of the time that passes by always too quickly. I can’t believe my blog is already a year old. Instead of receiving presents on its birthday, it’s offering them haha! Click the link below to enter my contest! Much love to those who read along. And hey it’s football season again which means more time to write 😉

https://www.woodwatches.com/g/thedaydreamernextdoor

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This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches, but my opinions will always be my own.

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Luxury Wood Watch

Feel Like You’re on Vacation with This Tropical Smoothie Recipe

I can’t afford to go to the Maldives right now let alone get time off work, so I’m being mentally transported there via this tropical smoothie bowl. It’s super easy to make and has been my go-to lunch lately, full of enough energy to get me through my busy day.

Start with frozen fruit, a banana, yogurt, almond milk, and almond butter:

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Slice up a banana

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A scoop or two of greek or low fat yogurt (you can pick any flavor but I use either honey, vanilla, or strawberry)

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Generous splash of almond milk to help everything blend

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Tablespoon of almond butter

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Blend together for about 1-2 minutes until smooth

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Pour into bowl and top with seed mix, granola, and honey. You can also use fresh slices of fruit if you have the time or have some available.

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I got the idea to add chia seeds after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, one of the best books I’ve read this year, which is essentially about a man’s quest to figure out why running always hurts him and leads to injury. He ends up in Mexico learning from a native tribe that have the ability to run 100s of miles a day on foot. It was such an interesting novel about the science of running with some evolutional theories thrown in. The tribe members drink a concoction that gives them tons of energy, and it turns out it’s made with chia. I highly recommend reading the book and also adding a seed blend to your smoothie for an extra burst of energy. The blend I use also has flax and sesame seeds which have their own health benefits.

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Enjoy the bowl while browsing travel inspiration online or while reading one of my favorite travel memoirs!

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Sunset Sips at Cordiano Winery

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Since moving to San Diego, wine tasting has quickly become one of my favorite ways to spend a day. It doesn’t get much better than picturesque views, good wine, and a gorgeous sunset. Thank you Cordiano Winery for offering all of the above and more!

Tasting price: 7 tastes for $12

Food: Brick-oven pizzas

When to go: Arrive at least 45 min-1 hour before sunset to guarantee a good table

Don’t forget: to walk around and explore the grounds 🙂

Website: http://www.cordianowinery.com

The Signature Lounge

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In my opinion, nothing goes better with a good drink than a good view. If you’re ever in Chicago (whether it’s your first time or 100th time visiting), The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building offers unparalleled views of this breathtaking city that you should definitely check out. Growing up close to Chicago, I have been to this city many times but had never experienced it like this before. If it is your first time in Chicago, I highly recommend seeing the city from above to really appreciate how amazing it is. The Signature Lounge is a cheap alternative to paying for the tourist trap attractions like 360 Chicago or The Ledge in Willis Tower. All you have to pay for is one drink (the beers start around $8), but you’ll most likely want to stay for more. If, like me, you’ve been to Chicago many times before, this view never gets old, and seeing it from The Signature Lounge made me feel like I was seeing it for the first time all over again (pure bliss). The drinks menu also features local craft beers which make you feel even more connected to the panoramic views in front of you. I couldn’t even tell you if I got tipsy off the alcohol or off the spectacular view, but I was feeling good! I can’t recommend this place enough. Insider tip for the ladies: the girl’s bathroom has possibly the best views in the house.