Category Archives: Travel

Our Rome to Amalfi Coast Itinerary + My Top Babymoon Tips

Read the details of our week-long trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast we took when I was 28 weeks pregnant, and my top babymoon tips for an active vacation!

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

My husband and I recently came back from an epic trip to Italy (Rome to Amafi Coast) for our babymoon, and it was so much fun and relaxing! We actually started planning this trip during my first trimester, which made me a bit nervous and excited at the same time, because I had no idea if my growing body will be able to keep up with all the walking or handle the hot Italy weather.

Thankfully, I’ve been quite active throughout my pregnancy so I had no trouble keeping up with my husband and doing all the touristy things. I seriously enjoyed every minute of it!

Prepare Before Leaving

  • Purchase a SIM card. I’m so glad we got SIM cards instead of paying international data fees through our cell service company. These are SO MUCH CHEAPER, and they allowed us to not get lost during our trip, research restaurants and sites, and more, since we had service everywhere we went. This 12 GB data card was plenty for our 10 day trip (and we had so much data to spare by the end), if you connect to wifi whenever it’s available. All you have to do is contact your phone company to make sure your phone is unlocked, and just switch out the SIM cards once you get to your destination.
  • Make sure to purchase plug adapters appropriate for where you are traveling to, and check that all your chargers, hair dryers, and whatever else you want to bring are compatible to the county’s voltage unless you have a converter. We bought this pack of adapters for super cheap!
  • Check airline fees for checked bags. Most of the time, you pay less if you purchase these ahead of time. It’s a small way to save money!
  • Pack healthy snacks for long flights. The meals they give out on the flights were horrible quality filled with sugar, so if you want to feel optimal during your travels, it’s a good idea to pack some healthier snacks to munch on.
  • Research transportations to and from each location. Do this research ahead of time to save time and headache once you are there. Being prepared with this made it so much easier to know what to expect every time we were hopping from one destination to another. Also, some train tickets are way cheaper if you purchase them ahead of time so it’s a small way to save money!
  • Plan any tours or excursions. We aren’t fans of group tours since we are picky about what we want to see and we like to see them at our own pace, but if that’s something that you are interested in, definitely plan them out before the trip. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to research the tours and their reviews without having to decide last minute. We did this for our food tours, and they were so worth it!

4 Days in Rome

What’s funny is I’ve been to Rome when I was in college, but I wasn’t a fan so I didn’t expect to like it much when I went back. I just remember it being super crowded, dirty, and not pretty. This time, however, I fell in love with the city: its beauty that I somehow missed before, the people, the FOOD, and everything. It’s crazy how you see places in a different light at different stages of your life!

Where we stayed

We did a bunch of research and asking around for what area to stay while we were there. We wanted somewhere convenient enough to be close to bars and restaurants and public transportation, but away from tourists. Many people recommended the area of Trastevere, so we ended up booking an Airbnb there.

Honestly, I LOVED this area. It was young, hip, GORGEOUS, with so many great places to eat. We got to our Airbnb around midnight the first night we got there and there were still restaurants open, which was amazing because we were still on LA time zone and it was lunch time for us.

There were also bus stops 5 minutes from our Airbnb that easily took us to all the major tourist sites. They say Trastevere is the greenest neighborhood of Italy because of all the urban greens and plants of the beautiful alleyways, and it really was!

What we saw

We did a lot of the typical tourist sightseeing like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. We also walked around a bit in Vatican City, but didn’t want to wait in the long line for the museum and the Sistine Chapel and I’ve done that in my previous trip so we opted out of it.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Colosseum

I honestly loved all the walking around in the alleyways and checking out the local shops and streets of Rome way more than seeing the sites. My husband, who loves history and architecture, will probably tell you that he liked seeing the sites more. Whatever you prefer, Rome is just a great place filled with so much beauty.

What we ate

Food was one of the BEST parts of Rome! My husband, who thought that he didn’t like Italian food, was floored by how delicious everything was. I honestly had no trouble eating gluten free because Italy has the highest rate of celiac disease so they are very accommodating for gluten intolerances. Somehow, their gluten free foods taste so much like the real, gluten version!

Also, because their ingredient quality is so high, I found that I was totally fine sneaking in gluten from time to time there. I usually have the worst stomachache with brain fog when I get exposed to it in the US, but I was able to tolerate it much better there.

Here are some of our top favorite spots:

Iari the Vino: The best gluten free pizza near the Colosseum! Plus, the outdoor seating area is in the cutest little alleyway.

Arancio d’Oro: This is a classic Italian place with awesome gluten free pasta. The service was great, and I loved that it was away from the busy touristy area. They also have gluten free pizza, but we didn’t get to try it out.

Mercato Di Campagna: If you have the chance to cook at your Airbnb while you are there, or if you just like farmers markets, I highly recommend this lively indoor market filled with local vendors. They have the freshest of every kind of produce, bread, fruits, meat, seafood, and even flowers, and it’s just so fun to walk around. They also sell prepared food there that we unfortunately didn’t take advantage of.

Tiramisu Roma Trastevere: For dessert fans who love tiramisu, this is your spot. They make each tiramisu in front of you, and in various flavors! I LOVED that they weren’t too rich or sweet, but still tasted amazing. My husband and I never get desserts and we don’t have a sweet tooth, but we ended up demolishing ours. I really loved the pistachio flavor!

Food Tour of Trastevere: My husband pushed us into doing this food tour and I’m so glad he did! It was one of the best ways to see the Trastevere area while tasting food from local spots that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. Everything tasted AMAZING, truly. We started out with a little wine tasting with charcuterie, enjoyed several pasta dishes, and ended with dessert. We even got a bit of food history lesson and learned a lot of about Roman food.

Pizza in Rome

Getting around

Rome is a relatively small city, so we had no trouble walking everywhere. However, by the third day, my pregnancy was catching up to me so we took the bus when we could (so cheap and easy), or we took the taxi.

Unlike the US, you can’t just hail cabs anywhere on the streets of Rome. You have to find cab stands (they came up when I searched on Google Maps!) where you’ll see cabs waiting in line to service the customers.

We also downloaded the app mytaxi, which is basically an Uber in Rome and you can input your credit card in the app for payment. Since many taxi drivers do not use this app, you can wait for a long time for one of them respond, but it worked for us when we felt stranded without a taxi stand near by.

Tips

  • Make sure to taste Italian coffee. They are ridiculously strong but so delicious. If you want a regular coffee that you can get in the states, say “Americano” because they’ll give you a shot of espresso if you say “coffee.”
  • Bring/buy water everywhere! The heat is no joke.
  • Don’t be fooled by ticket scalpers who are at every tourist location.
  • Remember to bring your sunscreen.
  • Comfortable shoes are a MUST.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Italian Coffee

Getting to Amalfi Coast from Rome

We stayed in Rome for 3 days and it was time to go to Amalfi coast (the part that I was REALLY excited about). To get to Amalfi coast, the easiest way is by train.

You’ll take a train from Roma Termini to Naples-Napoli Centrale through ItaliaRail (the tickets are cheaper if you buy them in advance). You can then take a local Circumvesuviana train from here and go all the way to Sorrento (one of the main cities of Amalfi Coast), but we decided to make a stop at Pompeii on the way to Amalfi Coast.

The transportation was really easy. There’s a short train to Pompeii, and then there’s another subway train from Pompeii to Sorrento.

3 Hours in Pompeii

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Pompeii

We only stayed in Pompeii for a few hours, but the ruins are quite amazing. It was unbearably hot when we were there and you have to walk a ton to get around the ruins, but we were able to see the major sites and take in a ton of amazing history.

There isn’t really much around Pompeii unless you are willing to walk to the main streets or take a cab. We were eager to get to Amalfi Coast so we took to train to Sorrento soon after we saw the ruins.

3 Days in Positano

My top favorite destination of our trip! To get to Positano, we took the Circumvesuviana train from Pompeii to Sorrento. From there, we took the local bus to central Positano.

I’ll be honest, the bus times were not reliable and I think we waited almost an hour for it, but it was SO worth it! The bus ride itself was so gorgeous since you drive up the mountain where you get to see the beautiful coastline. And once you finally get to Positano, every part of it is like a dream!: the vertical houses and buildings, the beach, and the colorful shops.

What we saw

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

Positano is a tiny coastal town, but it’s quite vertical with steep hills so be prepared to get some exercise walking around. If you love the beach, seafood, shopping, and breathtaking scenery, then this is the spot for you.

Since there are so many other beautiful coastal towns nearby, we thought about taking the bus to them, but we were pretty tired from Rome and really just wanted to lounge and relax. We only had 3 days here so we decided to stay put and just take in everything Positano.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Fornillo Beach
  • Spiaggia Grande: The main beach of Positano that you see in all the Instagram photos. It’s gorgeous and surrounded by vertical buildings and definitely picture worthy. It does get quite crowded though, but it didn’t bother me.
  • Fornillo: I actually liked this beach more than the main one. You have to walk about 15 minutes to get to it, but it’s less crowded, cheaper, but still gorgeous and clean. It’s surrounded by green mountains and so so peaceful.
  • Best sunset: I really wanted the beaches to have an amazing sunset, but the sun sets towards the mountain in Positano. If you want to experience the beautiful pink hazy look on all the buildings, you just have to climb up the steep road (there’s only one main road, Viale Pasitea). You’ll find that one side of the road always faces the water and you’ll be able to take in some breathtaking views as you go higher.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Sunset

What we ate

It’s all about seafood in Amalfi Coast, and they are GOOD. We had some of the best mussels, fish, shrimp, and more, and while the price was higher than in Rome, it was all worth it!

  • Valle dei Mulini: This place had a cute outdoor patio and was the first place we ate at. It’s also casual and less expensive than most restaurants in the area. I can’t speak much about the seafood here, but the steak??? It was perfection.
  • Restaurant L’Incanto: This is the beach club we hung out at to lay out in, right on the Sappagio Grande beach. Yes, it’s touristy, but mussels soup was fantastic. We got it as an appetizer and we ALMOST ordered another one after because it was so amazing and not fishy at all! The shrimp risotto was delicious as well.
  • Fratelli Grassi Positano: This is a beach club in Fornillo Beach. It’s small with a limited menu, but our Airbnb host recommended it to us for their caponata (toasted bread salad). It did not disappoint and the price was great too. This was one of the time I decided to eat gluten during the trip and it was totally worth it!
  • Il Grottino Azzurro: This is a small restaurant on top of Positano where locals go, and the seafood here was amazing. The walk to this restaurant is no joke and it’s an uphill climb for about 45 minutes, and we were both incredibly out of breath afterwards. I would recommend getting a taxi there. However, the food is fantastic and so is the service.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Mussels

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Caponata

Tips

  • Bring water shoes or water-friendly sandals. The beaches in Positano are covered with sharp dark rocks and pebbles, and it’s a bit painful to walk on barefoot. I had to wear my flip flops going into the water.
  • This is not a handicap-friendly town. The streets are bumpy, steep and narrow, so be prepared to get in some workouts getting around town, or hire a private car!
  • The beach club chair and umbrella rentals can be expensive, but I thought they were worth it because it was comfortable and relaxing. There are small sections on the beaches where it’s free, but it’s not as comfortable to lay on the bumpy rocks.
  • If you love colorful ceramics, make sure to pick up some handmade pieces from here because that’s what Positano is known for!
  • Enjoy some limoncello. They aren’t too sweet and they are so refreshing! The Amalfi Coast has some of the biggest lemons that aren’t too tart (perfect for limoncello), so that’s why limoncellos are so popular and delicious here.

2 Days in Capri

After 3 days in Positano, we headed to the beautiful island of Capri. It’s actually really easy to get to Capri from Positano. There’s a direct ferry ride to the island from Positano’s main port. However, there aren’t many ferries that go there each day, so make sure to check the schedule prior so you can be prepared to leave at the correct time.

Where we stayed

While we’ve never been to Capri, we decided to stay in the less touristy side of the island called Anacapri in the west and we LOVED it. It was quiet and filled with such cute restaurants and shops, and we had the most amazing views of the coast and the beaches being so high up in the mountain. Also, it’s really easy to get to from the port of Capri with a simple bus ride.

If you want the city and the busy downtown vibe, I would recommend the Capri side. The price is also higher there. But if you are more into relaxing and slowing down, Anacapri was perfect for that. However, the bus system is awesome and the island itself is pretty small, so you can get from one side to the other very easily through public transportation.

What we saw

Since we stayed in Anacapri and we were there only for 2 days, we mainly stayed in that area. If we stayed longer, we might have explored the east side of Capri more, but everything we saw was so beautiful so we didn’t feel like we missed out.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Punta Carena Lighthouse
  • Punta Carena Lighthouse: One of the biggest perks of staying in Anacapri was how close we were to the Punta Carena Lighthouse. It’s on the far end of Anacapri and easily accessible by the local bus. It’s the spot for the one of the most BEAUTIFUL sunsets on the island and there’s a path along the rocky coast that you can walk on that’s just just breathtaking. There’s also a very small beach area that you can lay out in, as well as a spot to grab drinks and food.
  • Marina Grande: To be honest, the beaches in Capri do not compare to the Positano beaches. They are tiny, insanely crowded, but pretty and very clean, nonetheless. We didn’t do much laying out in Capri for this reason, but it was nice to soak our feet in this cold and crystal clear water after walking around during the day.
  • Villa San Michele: This is a beautiful mansion built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor. While I have never heard of him, this villa faces the amazing views of Capri in the back, alongside beautiful Mediterranean gardens.

    You can explore the inside with an entry fee, but we decided to just walk around the villa. That was honestly enough for us because we got to see the beauty of it, but there’s a collection of Roman artifacts and interesting rooms to see inside. In addition, the walk to the villa is really fun because it’s a part of Anacapri with cute shops and restaurants that we didn’t know existed until we were there.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - View from Monte Solaro

What we ate

Since we weren’t in Capri for a long time, this will be a short list. A lot of the food here is seafood-focused, which we didn’t mind at all.

Aumm Aumm Ristorante Pizzeria: This is a casual spot in Anacapri, and we were blown away by the food. They have pizza and pasta, and are gluten-free friendly. I got the fish of the day, and my husband had the seafood pasta, and they were both fantastic and so well prepared. The back garden area is also really relaxing and cozy for dinnertime, and the price wasn’t as high as other restaurants in the area either!

La Taberna degli Amici: This is a restaurant/pub that’s actually right across the street from Aumm Aumm and we had a delicious lunch there. They had gluten free bread for me and they serve classic Italian food, as well as sandwiches and burgers. We both enjoyed our meals (a sandwich and a burger) and the service was exceptional. I also have heard that their pasta and appetizers are amazing as well, but we didn’t get to try them.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Capri food

The Rest of the Trip

From Capri, we took a high speed ferry to Naples, and from here, we flew to Greece for a short 3 day trip. Since we didn’t do much there that you can’t find in other popular guides and the trip itself was so short, I decided to not include it in this guide. Our favorite parts were all the things we did from Rome to Amalfi Coast anyway.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Short Stop in GREECE

If you want to check out my Instagram Stories for everything I captured during our trip, you can check out my highlights on here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My Top Babymoon Tips

Since I received so many messages and questions on Instagram about traveling while 7 months pregnant, I decided share my top babymoon tips of what worked for me during my trip. I actually thought I would have a harder time with all the walking, but it was totally fine and I enjoyed the trip so much!

  • Pack light! Unless you are going to a resort or a relaxing beach vacation, it’s important to pack just what you need for an active vacation. The European streets are mostly cobblestones, and Positano is made up of steep hills, so it was important to keep our luggage light, especially since my husband had to carry both of our loads most of the time. We actually packed both of our luggage into 1 big check-in bag so he could handle it better. Luckily, since it was a summer trip, we only really needed light, minimal clothing.
  • Check with your doctor and airlines. I probably should’ve have done this before we booked everything during the 1st trimester. Some women with high-risk pregnancies are warned not to travel at even 28 weeks. I was lucky that this didn’t happen for me, but I would check with your doctor to make sure you are good to travel. Also, every airline has different rules about when you need a doctor’s note so you can fly with them. Make sure to check this before your travel date, so you can have a doctor’s note on hand if necessary.
  • Pick and choose your activities. Don’t expect to be able to do everything. I honestly had all these hikes planned out for Amalfi Coast, but realized they wouldn’t be easy nor enjoyable being this far along. We also decided not to wait for hours to see the sites of Vatican City to conserve my energy. It’s important to listen to your body and have your partner understand your limits as well.
  • Home base for naps. While I was able to last 7-8 hours of walking in Rome each day, this was only possible because we went back to our Airbnb in the late afternoon to rest and nap before dinnertime. Make sure to have a home base where you can go back to to lounge around if you are too tired.
  • Sneakers and memory foam shoes. I think this applies whether you are pregnant or not, but comfortable shoes are crucial. If want something a bit more stylish than sneakers, these memory foam sandals were amazingly comfortable and I wore them everyday there through all the long walks. They are super cute too!
  • Backpacks. When you have pregnancy back pain and sore feet, the last thing you want to do it carry a bag on one shoulder. You’ll feel SO much better at the end of the day with a backpack, that’ll evenly distribute the weight of all the items you are carrying. I’ve had my Fjallraven Kanken backpack for a while now, and it’s my go-to for traveling because it so great with weight distribution and preventing back pain. For everyday touring during our trip, I also brought this smaller, cute backpack which worked really well and looked stylish too!
  • Compression socks and sweatpants for the plane. The flights were long for this trip (12-15 hours) and that was probably the most annoying part. To reduce swelling, make sure to wear compression socks (these worked well for me) and comfy sweatpants. I also booked an aisle seat because I seriously had to pee every hour, and I walked around the plane whenever I could to bring circulation into my legs.
  • Water. Hydration is so important normally, but even more so when you are pregnant! We always made sure we had water on us, and with the Italian summer heat, you’ll need a lot of it. All the more reason to have a backpack to keep your water in.
  • Enjoy wine. If you feel safe and comfortable, I highly recommend you fit in a glass of wine during your babymoon. It’s totally the norm to enjoy wine in Italy when you are pregnant, and I definitely took advantage of this on 2-3 occasions throughout our 10-day trip. I was asked at every restaurant if I wanted wine and I was clearly showing. If you feel okay and your doctor gives you the green light, you don’t want to miss out on the wine because it’s so delicious there!
  • Take photos. This one is an obvious one, but seriously, take all the photos! This is an amazing time of your life with your growing belly, and my husband took so many photos in all the pretty European settings. I can’t wait to show my kid one day all the places we’ve been together when she was inside me, and who knows if I’ll be pregnant again? I just know I’ll cherish these moments forever with my baby kicking constantly as we travel from one destination to another, and I want to be able to look back at them in the future.
First Day of 3rd Trimester - babymoon tips

If you have any additional questions about our trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast, or if you want to learn more about traveling when you are pregnant, leave me a comment below!

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Sayulita Travel Guide: Things to Do & Our Wedding Recap

If you ever wanted to visit Sayulita, read this Sayulita travel guide to find the best spots and things to do in this charming beachy fishing village. Our wedding recap is also included by popular request!

Sayulita Travel Guide

It’s been a year since my husband and I got married in the magical town of Sayulita in Mexico, and we went back again recently for our 1 year anniversary. When I posted photos on Instagram and shared our experience on Instagram Stories, I received several requests to do a travel guide.

Also, last year, some of you asked for a wedding recap which I never got around to, so I’m combining the two together in this post to share one of our favorite places on earth because it’s definitely a relatively unknown gem that I highly encourage you to visit.

Sayulita is a tiny fishing village about 45 minutes north of Puerta Vallarta with a population of 5,000 people. The town itself is so charming and colorful with murals, delicious restaurants, spas, yoga studios, and shops, all next to a beautiful beach that you can swim, surf, or go stand up paddle boarding in. Before I get to our wedding recap, let’s start with the Sayulita travel guide and all the things you can enjoy there.

Transportation

To get to Sayulita, you have to fly into the Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), then drive about 45 minutes north. There are buses that you can take from the airport which are super cheap, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a lot of luggage as they don’t have much storage space.  It’ll also take a lot longer 45 minutes because there are many stops.

You can also take taxis from the airport but I’ve heard that you’ll have to negotiate the charge with them or they’ll overcharge you. The best and the most convenient option is to book a car in advance. They are usually about $130 round trip and totally worth it. We book through Sayulita Suburban, and they’ll even stop at a supermarket on the way to Sayulita if you want to stock up on snacks and groceries for your trip.

I don’t recommend renting a car because the streets of Sayulita are narrow and aren’t easy to get around with a car. However, you can rent a golf cart once you are in town, which is actually a main mode of transportation in Sayulita. We’ve rented through golf carts through Sayulita Suburban as well.

Lodging

I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with most lodging choices in Sayulita. There are incredible Airbnbs and hotels that are not too expensive. You can get so much more bang for your buck there. Also, Sayulita is quite small so if you are used to a bit of walking, there are no bad areas to stay in. If you are a bit far out, then you can always rent a golf cart.

Last year, we used VRBO to book a 7 bedroom villa so all our family members could stay together during our wedding week. Our guests booked their own Airbnbs or hotels and I was told that their stays were all so nice without breaking the bank at all. Most of them had pools as well.

This year, we stayed at Hotel Oz Sayulita which was so comfortable and close to the town plaza. There was also a rooftop pool and bar that we fully took advantage.

Beaches

Sayulita Beach – This is the main beach of Sayulita and honestly, it’s not my favorite. It’s always super crowded and it’s just not the nicest beach in the area. It’s definitely convenient, because there are a lot of delicious restaurants along the beach that you can eat at.

Playa de los Muertos – This is actually my favorite beach, It’s only a 10 minute walk south from Sayulita Beach, but the water is much more calm and it’s less crowded. It’s also very beautiful with rock formations that you can climb on over bluest of the waters. It gets its name because it’s right next to a cemetery that you walk by to get to the beach. I highly recommend this beach over Sayulita Beach.

San Pancho Beach – San Pancho is a beach that’s north of Sayulita in a city called San Francisco. We rode a cab 10 minutes north for a day trip there and it cost us about $7 each way. The beach here is also gorgeous and not too crowded, and it’s in the cutest town with fun shops and restaurants. Just be mindful that the waves here are no joke. People do swim here but the water is not kid-friendly. I was able play in the waves for maybe 10 minutes and then I had to call it quits before opting to lay out in the sun instead.

Restaurants

One thing to say about Sayulita’s food is that all of it is seriously AMAZING. Every place we tried is super cheap, so tasty, and being that it’s a fishing village, you can never go wrong with the seafood here. Most of the food is gluten free-friendly and I didn’t have any trouble or issues with the food.

Also, since the town is so small, all of these restaurants are within walking distance.

Mary’s – A hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place with great tacos and a delicious brunch menu. You can’t miss the bright pink wall in the main street of Av. Revolución.

Burrito Revolution – Another delicious taco and burrito place with outdoor seating. They also have vegan options.

Don Pedros – If you want to splurge a bit (as in, spend the same amount as you would do in the US), Don Pedros is a delicious restaurant with a beach view. They catered our wedding and the food was exceptional. Make a reservation if you want to sit along the beach. This is also one of the only places that take credit cards.

Palmar Trapiche – The cutest beer garden outside of the main town area with delicious food as well. It’s an outdoor spot surrounded my palm trees and lights, and it’s so charming. They have various craft beers that my husband enjoyed.

La Rustica – A restaurant with pizza and Italian food with gorgeous decor. If you go during lunch or brunch, they also have the most delicious pork tacos. It is a bit more high end than most restaurants in the area, but they do take credit cards.

I’ve only listed a few of the memorable spots, but you really can’t go wrong with most of the restaurants in Sayulita. After we realized this, we stopped checking for reviews online and just picked places to go to by walking around and seeing if we liked the menu (so old school).

Shops

There are so many cute shops in Sayulita, focused on local handcrafted arts and gifts. They vary in price and quality, and it’s so much fun to walk around and visit these stores. These are some of my favorites:

Farmers Market/Mercado del Pueblo – If you have a chance to be in Sayulita on a Friday, don’t miss out on this farmers market. It’s on the small side but they have delicious fresh food, flowers, and artisan crafts.

Révolucion del Sueño – This place screams color with their beautiful jewelry, bags, blankets, and other gifts. I bought a bracelet and a colorful garland here that I love. It’s so cute and you might want to buy everything here.

Manyana – This is a small shop near the beach with mostly clothes and bags with minimalist designs. However, what really drew me in is their small collection of pottery. I bought a beautiful mug here, but was also tempted to try on their clothing as well.

Evoke the Spirit – This is a boho style gift shop with ceramic pottery, beautiful blankets, and jewelry finely curated by local artists. I just love the decor in here, and I wish I could take one of the craft workshops that they offer.

Galería la Hamaca – Featuring a huge collection of Mexican folk art, they have some gorgeous artwork, tapestry, pottery, and other home decor items. They have some of the most beautiful, intricate designs at a reasonable price.

Other Things to Do

Besides eating, shopping, and hanging out at the beach, you can go snorkeling, take surfing lessons (which is HUGE there), stand up paddle boarding, do yoga, get a massage on the beach, or even horseback riding.

Another activity we really enjoyed was going on a beautiful sunset cruise, in which we ended up doing fun water activities. You can read more about it under the “Sunset Cruise” section below, as I now shift gears and recap our wedding 1 year ago.

Our Sayulita Wedding 

First, to give you a little background… I was never someone who dreamt of her wedding. If it was up to me, I would have eloped and be done with it. I love to attend weddings as a guest, but I honestly dread the type of stress and attention that you get as a bride. So, as a compromise with my family, I decided to do a small destination wedding with 40 people max.

I honestly don’t remember how I came across Sayulita, a place I’ve never even heard of before. I think it was a friend who mentioned that it’s a beautiful town in Mexico near Puerto Vallarta, so I Googled it and fell in love with all the images and reviews I found. And literally based on that, we decided to get married in there. And no, we’ve never even visited before, and the first time we were there was for our wedding week. It might sound crazy, but everything about it just felt right so we just went for it.

One thing that’s great about having a destination wedding in a country like Mexico is that everything is much lower in cost than In the US so we were able to be way more flexible within our budget with what we wanted to do than if we had our wedding in the States.

We hired a wedding planner, Luz Ochoa, because I honestly wanted no part in the planning process. I had a specific vision in mind, which I relayed to her, and she was so amazing about picking out all the flowers and decor according to what I wanted and the end result was even better than I expected.

WELCOME DINNER

The day before our wedding, we held our welcome dinner with all the guests at a beach restaurant called La Terrazola. It was so cute and beautiful, because they set out tables on the beach alongside a bonfire and different games we requested like corn hole, bocce ball, and a giant Jenga set.

The food was delicious and the whole event took place over sunset, and we ended the night by lighting up sky lanterns that looked beautiful floating up over the beach sky lined with palm trees.

CEREMONY

I wanted a beach ceremony, because the beach is truly my happy place, and that’s exactly what we got. It was held a bit north of the main Sayulita Beach, where it’s much quieter and less crowded. I was barefoot and the blue of the ocean with the sand under my feet was so so perfect, and exactly what I had envisioned.

We had a little less than 30 people who came from all over the world and it was truly the most magical experience. Afterwards, we took photos on the beach with our family and just us 2, which turned out beautiful.

By the way, our wedding photographer was Christine Sargologos and she did an amazing job. I highly recommend her!

RECEPTION

The real party after the ceremony was at the villa that our immediate family members stayed at in Sayulita, which might be the nicest place I’ve ever stayed at in my life. We booked this 7 bedroom villa through VRBO, and while it was way up on the hills far away from the main town center, it had an incredible view, awesome pools, and an outdoor lawn area that was made for a reception. If you are ever in Sayulita with a big group, I highly recommend you try to stay there because everything about it was so beautiful. It was so perfect for to watching the sunset as well through the evening because it overlooked the entire Sayulita Beach.

We catered our food from Don Pedros which was so delicious and mostly gluten free, got a gluten free wedding cake, and after we danced the night away, we had churros and ice cream carts for late night snacks which were a huge hit. It was honestly so much fun to be surrounded by the closest people in my life and both of us had the time of our lives.

SUNSET CRUISE

The day after the wedding, everyone slept in and relaxed on the beach or the pool to recover. Then, for the evening, we organized a private sunset cruise with Ally Cat Sailing for all the guests. It was a fun and relaxing 3 hour cruise, and they provided transportation to and from the marina, snacks and alcoholic drinks on the cruise, and various water activities like diving, swimming, and stand up paddle boarding.

I highly recommend this cruise company. The staff members both on and off the boat were some of the friendliest people and one of the best customer service experience I’ve had in a long time. It was the perfect way to end our wedding celebration. 

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding for us. It was everything I wanted with my closest friends and family in a place that was so magical and beautiful. It’s so fun to relive these moments through these photos!

If you have any more questions this Sayulita travel guide and/or about having a wedding there, leave me a comment and I’ll answer them the best I can. I hope this post encourages you to plan your trip to Sayulita because it truly is so charming and happy, and it’s a place you’ll fall in love with as soon as you get there!

My AIP Road Trip with My Mom

AIP Road Trip

I recently went on a 2 week Pacific Coast Highway road trip with my mom from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the holidays. My mom has had rheumatoid arthritis for a few years now, which is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks your joints, and has yet to find relief from pain and discomfort. She still has a hard time walking at a normal pace and gets tired easily throughout the day.

It’s been frustrating and difficult trying to convince her to go on the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet for a while now, especially because she lives in South Korea, where almost all foods are heavily spiced and filled with nightshades and soy sauce. It was too daunting for her because she has a hard time cooking for herself with her aching joints, which I completely understand. So when she told me she’ll be visiting for the holidays for an indefinite period of time, I thought, “What a great chance to put her on the autoimmune protocol!” And it was!

So today, I want to share my experience of what worked, what didn’t, and how we were able to stick to the diet for 2 weeks during out AIP road trip. But first…

What is the Autoimmune Protocol?

Although I’m familiar with the Autoimmune Protocol as an NTP and what it’s about, it’s a whole different beast when you are attempting it yourself, especially while traveling, and it took a ton of preparation and education beforehand.

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a diet designed to heal the gut and reduce inflammation in the body for anyone dealing with an inflammatory disease. Especially for those who are suffering from an autoimmune disease, AIP can be quite helpful because it limits all foods that are known to cause allergies and inflammation like eggs, gluten, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, vegetable oils, alcohol, and nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and all types of peppers. Yes, it’s restrictive, but after some time of feeling better, you can start re-introducing some of the foods back in one at a time to see which foods you do not react to and which ones you do.

All autoimmune diseases begin in the gut. Once the digestion is compromised by poor diet, stress, genetics, and/or toxins, it can lead to leaky gut, which means that inappropriate food particles seep through your intestinal lining and into various tissues in the body. Eventually, the body cannot differentiate between its own tissues and foreign invaders, and starts attacking its own tissues. This can manifest in many different ways and this is how different types of autoimmune diseases form. My mom’s autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, is the type that attacks her joints.

By limiting the foods that inflame the gut, AIP can reduce the inflammation that affect the body as well. 70% of our immune system reside in the gut, so it’s extremely important to heal the gut first in order to heal the body. And that’s why the AIP diet works for so many people!

Preparing for the road trip

Like I mentioned above, it took me a few hours of studying and educating myself to get prepared for this trip. I had to start from scratch with how to cook in the kitchen, what spices to use (and not to use), and which new ingredients to purchase that were AIP-friendly. AIP blogs like The Paleo Mom, Phoenix Helix, The Curious Coconut, and Autoimmune Wellness were EXTREMELY helpful. I also bought 2 books: The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook and The Autoimmune Wellness Cookbook, and I can’t recommend them enough if you are starting your AIP journey. They had some amazing insights and recipes to start out with.

AIP Road Trip

Besides the knowledge piece, I did a ton of prep cooking before the beginning of the trip. I made Fig Energy Bites (above photo), AIP Mayonnaise, Bacon-Beef Liver Pâte, and Carrot Ginger Soup from The Autoimmune Wellness Cookbook, as well as bone broth, sauerkraut, and AIP breakfast pork sausage.

AIP Road Trip

I also bought tons of snacks for the road. The last thing I wanted was us getting hungry and having to stop at a random restaurant in the middle of nowhere, where we have to slip on the AIP diet because nothing on the menu is compliant. These snacks were lifesaver on the road and it was able to hold us up until we found a kitchen or a food allergy conscious restaurant.

Some of the snack items were:

Dining in

During the 2 weeks, it took us about a little over a week to get from SF to LA, with many stops along the way. We made sure to only stay at Airbnbs with a full kitchen, so we can really focus on quality home cooked meals. Like I mentioned, I used the cookbooks that I bought and AIP blogs for delicious recipe ideas and inspirations. However, I’m such a free spirit in the kitchen and don’t like to follow recipes exactly. So after trying out several recipes, I quickly got more comfortable with AIP cooking, and was able to produce my own recipes and ideas. You probably noticed that my past few recipes are AIP-friendly and that’s because I was able to be more creative once I became familiar with the Autoimmune Protocol!

AIP Road Trip

One of the most helpful tricks was batch cooking, especially when we wanted to spend more time exploring the area and the beautiful coasts and less time in the kitchen. By making multiple portions at once, we were able to enjoy the leftovers for 2-3 more meals which made sticking to the AIP diet much more manageable.

Dining out

When first going on the AIP diet, it’s really difficult to dine out because most restaurants use cracked black peppers, nightshade spices, and vegetable oils. I knew that eating at restaurants may be unavoidable at times while traveling, so I researched a lot to find places that were food allergy friendly, gluten free, and/or farm-to-table to make sure they used quality ingredients. Yelp was honestly our best friend and I used search terms like “organic,” “gluten free,” “nightshades,” “paleo,” and “food allergies” to find dining spots that would cater to my mom’s diet.

AIP Road Trip

AIP Road Trip

I was actually surprised about how accommodating these restaurants were and how they allowed us to change the dish completely to fit my mom’s diet. I even asked some places if they could cook her food in olive oil instead of vegetable oil and they were totally fine with it. I think the trick is to be super nice and friendly, and don’t be afraid to ask a bunch of questions.

It was surprising to find out that a lot of the servers knew what nightshade vegetables were! We ended up paying a bit more for her meals but I think it was totally worth it to stay on the safe side. We even brought our own dressing to the restaurants so she can enjoy burgers and salads without worrying about the inflammatory oils in the dressings they serve.

It was a bit more difficult when we decided to eat Korean food in LA, because all the sauces and side dishes were heavy on the soy sauce. However, we were able to get Korean BBQ with non-seasoned meats, and oxtail soups that we asked them to hold the black pepper for. It worked out really well and we were able to avoid non-AIP foods to the best of our abilities.

My mom’s progress

It’s actually a bit too early to tell if the diet has changed her flare ups. We’ve been on the road for 2 weeks with occasional dining out, so you can see why it’s difficult to be 100% compliant to the AIP diet. However, I do see that she has more energy throughout the day and she’s been talking about how much better she’s been sleeping. She’s also been eating a lot when this time last year, she didn’t have much of an appetite. This is a good thing because she lost so much weight in the last few years because of her illness and she has always been skinny. I think the diet definitely helped her feel better overall so I hope to update you later when there’s more progress.

The road trip is over but my mom is still staying with me for an indefinite period of time, so we are sticking to the AIP diet while she’s here. Expect to see more AIP recipes from me because that’s mostly what I’ve been cooking up recently!

AIP Road Trip

If you or anyone you know suffers from an autoimmune disease and you need help on how to get started, or if you have any questions about my experience with my mom, do not hesitate to contact me! I love sharing my stories with you all, especially if it can help you or your loved ones in your health journey. I look forward to updating you again soon so stay tuned!

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AIP Autoimmune Protocol Road Trip Travel