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Posted on October 25, 2017

A First-Timer’s Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter

Traveling

For the past 4 years, Universal Studios Orlando has hosted The Celebration of Harry Potter, a large three day fan event that takes place at the end of January. Fans and their supportive friends/family members enjoy the thrills of the Universal Parks (for my full write-up about the HP parks, click here) as well as host of additional magical delights.

The 2018 Celebration will be the third one for my family and me. I love being in a space that is overtaken by fans of the series that we adore. My partner and I have since gone to the parks outside of the Celebration weekend and, while I love it just as much, it misses that heightened sense of community and shared connection that permeates the event. (As an example of this, Alan Rickman, who played Professor Severus Snape in the Potter films, passed away shortly before the 2016 Celebration. Many of the fans attending the event gathered together on opening night to have a “wands up” moment to honor and celebrate his life.)

If you are thinking about or planning to attend the Celebration of Harry Potter for the first time, it’s always helpful to know what you are getting into! There are plenty of things to do, see, and enjoy.

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Posted on October 9, 2017

7 Must Haves for International Travel

Traveling

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.)

Prior to going on our major overseas trip this summer, I did a TON of research into the destinations we would be visiting, things to look out for regarding personal safety, and tips for what and how to pack for the trip. The way I thought about and planned for this trip was probably not unlike how some people plan their weddings. The information I gathered is beneficial to have for any trip — domestic or international — and definitely helped us feel more prepared. Now that the trip has come and gone, I’m certainly ready for the next one! (Setting my sights on Ireland and Scotland – 2019!)

Some of the items we purchased ended up staying in the suitcase and not being used whatsoever (under-the-shirt money belt, I’m looking at you) but some of them we used daily. Being as frugal as possible when planning for a trip is very important, but some splurges are worth it, especially if it helps keep your mind at ease. Read below for my favorite travel accessories. Read more..

Posted on September 25, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Orlando

Traveling

Any diehard fan of the Harry Potter series understands the painful/wistful feeling of being immersed in a world you know you can never actually enter into. Cue the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando! The two Potter-themed areas at Universal, Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley, are about as close as we can get to having the real thing. Since opening in 2010 and expanding to a second area in 2014, they have easily become Universal’s most popular attractions.

I first went to the Wizarding World with my mom in 2012 when Hogsmeade Village was the only Potter park. I vividly remember the sheer joy I felt when riding the Forbidden Journey ride inside Hogwarts, snapping as many pictures as I possibly could while walking around the castle. Smelling the sugary scents of Honeydukes, drinking Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, and picking out a wand at Ollivander’s (I bought Hermione’s) are some of my favorite memories of that trip. Since then, it’s happened to work out that I’ve gone back to the Wizarding World every year either with my mother or my partner and her daughter. It’s completely magical every single time. There is almost nothing within the parks that detracts from that feeling. Read more..

Posted on September 17, 2017

Post-Vacation Blues? Tips on Getting Back into the ‘Real World’

Traveling

Disclaimer: This is a completely first world problems sort of issue, but… I get it — it’s rough. You’ve just come back from a fantastic trip to another area of your state, your country, or another entirely new country and now… sadness. It hit me big time after coming back from Europe in July. It’s hard to return from our annual trips to the Wizarding World in January. Heck — it’s even a challenge sometimes to return from a road trip! Regardless of where you were, the excitement of visiting a new place, experiencing something you’ve longed to experience, or finally getting the chance to relax can mean that going back to the everyday hustle and bustle isn’t easy.

I’ll be the first to admit, I do give myself some time to wallow in that feeling. It’s there for a reason, after all, but I also know that I don’t want to live in that feeling forever! That’s not good for anyone. Here are my favorite tips and ideas for how to shake those post-vacay blues. Read more..

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