20 Travel Tips: Italy Edition

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was on the trip of a lifetime in Italy! Following the trip last year, I did a recap post featuring photos and brief overview so as not to bore you all with the details. HOWEVER, if you so wish to hear more about the trip, feel free to comment or email, and I will be happy to share! 

In honor of this anniversary, and to spark my own nostalgia, I decided to put together a list of helpful travel tips for first-time travelers to Europe. I’m absolutely by no means an expert on the topic, this is simply what I learned on my first trip abroad. Prior to my trip I did a TON of research on things to know before traveling abroad, so I highly recommend you do as well.

  • Europe is full of history and each city has so much to experience, so don’t stress if you can’t visit absolutely everything you want to see. This is something I had a hard time accepting during my time in Italy especially being the type-A, history nerd that I am. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax (and see the world obviously), but you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re constantly stressing over where you’re going to go next.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous tip, don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, especially meals. At the beginning of each day, Ry and I would pick out the main attractions we wanted to see, and wander around the areas. You never know what you’ll find by simply exploring! We found some of our favorite restaurants on the trip by doing this.
  • Be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding. Our primary means of travel from city to city was by train. The vast majority of the time, we bought our tickets at the station; I’d read a few articles prior that stated Tren Italia’s website isn’t always reliable so it’s best to purchase directly at the station.
  • Carry a small, cross-body purse and keep it in front of you — Pick-pocketing is huge in the cities and they know a tourist when they see one.
  • If you’re looking for a quick, early meal, think again! Dinner in Italy generally takes place after 7 pm and is more relaxed than meals in the US.
  • Many churches and other religious sites require ladies to have their legs and shoulders covered when you enter.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to drink for free at the various water fountains sprinkled throughout Rome.
  •  Walk as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Watch out for scams such as people putting jewelry on your wrist, helping take your luggage off the train, asking you to sign petitions, etc.
  • Drink the house wine — it’s often cheaper, but still delicious!
  • Learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent (the locals don’t expect you to), but pick up a few general phrases that will help you out along the way. I used the free Duolingo app before I went, and it helped immensely.
  • When in Rome, visit the Trevi Fountain later in the day or at night, it’ll be way less crowded.
  • Don’t eat near a major landmark — the closer you are, the higher the prices.
  • Cappuccinos are a morning only drink in Italy.
  • Instead of a gondola ride, opt to climb to the top of San Marco’s Campanile in Venice for some incredible views.
  • Casa di Giulietta is what Verona is most famous for, but did you know that they have an Arena similar to the Colosseum where concerts and plays still take place? We had an amazing lunch at a cafe near the Arena and it was a stellar experience.
  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. If you’re asthmatic (like myself) be sure to bring you’re inhaler – that’s 463 steps!
  • It is incredibly easy to get lost in Italy. Download a map (or carry a paper one) so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
  • The pizza, pasta, wine and gelato are most definitely as good as everyone says they are. Definitely go all in on the food when you’re there; you’ll walk it all off during your visit!
  • Italy is truly a magical place to visit. Make sure you aren’t spending too much time behind the phone/camera, and take it all in!

If you have any questions or need recommendations, leave a comment or feel free to email me! Where are you headed next?

-K

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Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

I’m finally back from my two month hiatus! Truth is, it was much-needed for me to take a step back and focus on my full-time job and my mental and physical health, which I will be addressing in an upcoming post. Today I am celebrating something near and dear to my heart: this blog!

5 years ago yesterday, I started on a journey to enhance my writing skills on an outlet that I never knew would become such a passion of mine.  From the very beginning, I knew that this isn’t something I wanted to do for money or likes, but I wanted to do it because it was something that I genuinely enjoyed, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I always thought, “if one person can read this, and take something away from it that makes them feel as though they’ve connected on some level with me, then I’m doing something right.” One of the beautiful things about blogging is that it’s a way of telling your story without any guidelines or having to stick to anyone else’s voice. The fact that I’ve always been able to be 100% authentic is what truly drives me to continue to blog.

TOP 5 LESSONS LEARNED IN 5 YEARS OF BLOGGING:

  1. There will be times when you need to take a step back from blogging, and that’s okay. Life can be really freaking hard sometimes and you owe it to yourself to keep your health in check. 
  2. Your writing, style and interests will evolve and change as you grow and learn. Let it happen.
  3. Quit comparing yourself to others; you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” to be a good blogger.
  4. Stay true to yourself — don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  5. People will be judgmental and have some not-so-nice things to say when you put yourself out there. Don’t let these people stop you from sharing your story and chasing your dreams.

BONUS LESSON

Always have kickass support system behind you. Unfortunately, your blog will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are always those family members and friends that will be there to support your every blog and Instagram post regardless of how avant garde it can be. Make sure you keep these people in your circle forever.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with me these last five years, and for the steadfast support. I have some of the best followers ever!

Cheers to many more years!

– K

Top 5 E-Newsletters to Kick-Start Your Morning

Top 5 E-Newsletters to Kick-Start Your Morning

Looking to stay more informed with what’s going on in the world? You’ve come to the right place! Beginning in high school, my teachers preached the importance of staying on top of current events. Throughout college, I went about my days with a lack of television which was my primary source for news growing up as I did not read the newspaper. I had several news apps on my phone and newspapers were always available on campus, but I never really took the time – or had the time – to read the articles.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I discovered the beauty of e-Newsletters. I could digest the top news stories from around the world in 5 minutes and under. They provided me enough information to develop my own opinion on world affairs, and hold an intelligent conversation. Thus began my love for these quick, information-packed news sources.

The Skimm //  Top world news stories, current events, and the latest products and reads curated by two former producers and delivered to your inbox every weekday with no bias, no jargon, and much needed humor. Join the Skimm Life here!

The Newsette // Delivered to the inbox of career-focused women every weekday, the newsletter covers several topics including current events, wellness, beauty, fashion, and more. Sign up for  The Newsette here!

New York Times: What We’re Reading // Delivered twice a week to your inbox with articles from around  selected by NY Times reporters and editors. Sign up for NY Times: What We’re Reading here.

Career Contessa // This career site was built exclusively for women seeking empowerment and looking to cultivate successful careers. Their newsletter includes free downloads, workplace adivce articles, job openings across the USA, and more. Subscribe here!

WhoWhatWear // Daily fashion news delivered straight to your inbox including trends, celebrity style, street wear, and more! Fellow fashionistas can sign up here.

What are some of your favorite e-Newsletters?

-K.

2018 Reading List

I have this problem — the first step is admitting that, right? It’s this thing where I continuously buy books even though I know there is no way I’ll get through them all in the span of a year, yet I continue to build my personal library. In all honesty, there are far worse addictions that I could have than buying books (I know, I know, this is just me justifying it to myself).

My love for books and reading began at a young age. I would “read” books to my  then-infant brother Owen as a toddler, and force my parents and grandparents to read to me since I couldn’t read myself. I still remember the very first book I learned to read in kindergarten about a firefighter and his Dalmatian — ironic now that I’m dating a firefighter, amiright?! I even have a list of places I want to visit just to see the resident library; the Biltmore Estate being one I checked off my list this past year (you can see this post here). Additionally, you can bet that I’m always carrying a book on me for when I have down time or during my lunch period at work.

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Thank God for boyfriends who take great candids! Shoutout to Ry for snapping this during one of our many Italian train rides.

This year, I’ve made it a priority to get through those books that I own that I have yet to touch THEN and only then will I allow myself to purchase more … Oh who am I kidding?!? We all know that I’ll be buying more as soon as I discover a new book I want to get my hands on! As you’ll see below, I have a huge soft spot for historical fiction (i.e. Outlander die-hard over here!), but I’m open to various genres. Here are the primary books I have on my list to read this year:

Outlander Series: On A Breath of Snow and Ashes // Diana Gabaldon

Outlander Series: An Echo in the Bone // Diana Gabaldon

The Room on Rue Amélie // Kristin Harmel

Love & Luck // Jenna Evans Welch

The Thousandth Floor // Katharine McGee

A Fine Imitation // Amber Brock

The Heiresses // Sara Shephard

Beautiful Ruins // Jess Walter

America’s First Daughter: A Novel // Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

What books are on your reading list this year?

-K.

New Year, New Goals // 2018

New Year, New Goals // 2018

Happy New Year!

Every year I share my goals for the year with my readers as a means of holding myself accountable (see last year’s goals here).  At least once a month, I take a look back at the post to remind myself of my priorities and altar my strategy to reach my goals, if need be.

As you continue reading, you might notice that a lot of the goals are the same as last year’s. Why, you ask? The answer is quite simple – last year I failed to hold myself accountable or give myself the ability to measure my goals. Reflection on the pure laziness I exhibited last year lit a fire in me to be so much better than I was last year. So, here are my measurable, attainable goals for 2018:

  1. Work towards my goal of being fluent in another language by utilizing Duolingo at least 3 times a week – I used this app before my trip to Italy and it helped immensely. This time around, I will be using it to freshen up on my French!
  2. Explore a new place once a month – either local or out of town
  3. Be mindful of what I’m putting into my body, and log it daily
  4. Go AT LEAST an hour without technology a day
  5. Continue my education either through grad school or online courses
  6. Workout at least 5 times a week – I just started the Body Love app by Anna Victoria and, surprisingly, I actually love it! I’ve mentioned before that I loathe working out, but this time around, I’m actually looking forward to my workout for the day which is a HUGE improvement. I will be giving updates throughout my new fitness journey on my social media channels which are linked in the sidebar if you do not follow me already!

What are your goals for 2018? If we have similar goals, what are you doing to reach them?

-K.

January Playlist

January Playlist

LOVE // Kendrick Lamar, Zacari

Finesse (Remix) // Bruno Mars, Cardi B

Filthy // Justin Timberlake

Feels Great // Cheat Codes, Fetty Wap, CVBZ

River // Eminem, Ed Sheeran

Let You Down // NF

God Save Our Young Blood // BØRNS, Lana Del Rey

Shoot Me Straight // Brothers Osborne

Never Be the Same // Camila Cabello

For You // Liam Payne, Rita Ora

Calling All PR Girls!!

PR Girl logo3-07.jpgHave you ever wanted an exclusive look into what goes on behind the scenes in the world of public relations?

WhatRUWearing and PR Couture partnered up to produce the reality web series PR Girl. The show follows Chicago-based entertainment publicist, social media expert, full-time graduate student and Lyme Disease advocate Alexandra Moresco as she balances grad school at DePaul University, planning her wedding and the first annual Chicago gala for a global organization, all while running her own PR firm.

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As many of my readers know, I studied communication and public relations in college, and am pursuing a career in the field of PR. Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with where I’m currently at and where I’m headed in my career.  Just when I was thinking about giving up on my dream of working in public relations, I received an email promoting the web series. Immediately I knew I HAD to watch it, and managed to binge it within the hour.

After watching part 1 of the series, I wanted to run out and tell my friends that are pursuing careers in PR about it! I found it very easy to relate to Alex as a young professional. She proves that no matter how young you are, you are capable of anything and everything you set your mind to as long as you’re willing to put in the work, and I think that is a great message. The show also gives the viewer an inside look into what really goes behind the glitz and glamour of PR.

Watching this show has inspired me to keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles I may face on my way to reaching my goals. That is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to ask Alex a few questions about her career in the below Q & A!

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Q & A with Alexandra Moresco

Kourtney: Why did you want to get into the PR profession?

Alexandra: Honestly – getting into the PR field was a mistake! I started out at DePaul University as an accounting major – if you know anything about accounting, there is no creativity in it! I wound up starting a blog to exercise my creative muscle and much to my shock people actually read it. I wound up learning how to make media kits, work with brands and grow a following which ultimately led me to developing PR skills! I changed my major to PR my Sophomore year of college and knew it was for me.

What do you find most challenging about your career?

PR in general can be a challenging field because the landscape is always changing- there is always a new social media network, media outlet or app to keep up with. You constantly have to be very in tune with the industry and what is trending.

What drives your success?

I have always been a little bit of a workaholic- I love working with clients I truly believe in, and every mention we get or deal we do feels like a major win. My clients become some of my best friends so I am always very passionate about seeing them succeed.

Right now, I am doing a lot of work fundraising and raising awareness for Global Lyme Alliance: a 501C3 nonprofit that is working to find accurate diagnostic testing and a cure for Lyme disease. 55% of testing for Lyme is inaccurate and there is no cure which I find totally unacceptable. I am personally battling Lyme right now so the thought of changing chronic illness for the next generation is what keeps me going.

What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

Personally, I stay in touch with others in different areas of the industry to see what is going on. I also read magazines like Entrepreneur and Fast Company to keep up to date with what is changing in tech to see where social media is headed.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of working in PR is the fact that I get to work on projects that I am incredibly passionate about all while exercising my creative muscle!

What is your best advice for aspiring PR professionals?

I have two chunks of advice for aspiring PR professionals. Growing up, my mom had a plaque in our kitchen that said “say little, do much.” That always reminded me not to just say I was going to do something, but to actually do it.

The second has to be: be a genuine, nice person. Most people can tell if you are being disingenuous and will stay away from you. Being nice to everyone you meet should just be common sense: after getting diagnosed with Lyme, it truly made me realize that everyone is going through some kind of personal battle. If you are a kind person, good things will come your way, personally and professionally!

Have you watched PR Girl, yet? Binge watch season 1 here, and let me know what you think!

-K.