Rush Creek Lodge is the first new resort in the Yosemite National Park’s area in 25 years. There are 143 rooms; including a mix of suites and hillside villas. Glamping enthusiasts from around the world will have plenty of accommodation choices that don’t involve sleeping on the ground.

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Situated on 20 acres, this resort is a destination within a destination. Some of the unique features include: main lobby, general store, separate lodge with game room and living room lounge type set up, a tavern and restaurant, hot tub and pool, event and meeting space, and various recreation activities for all ages.

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Location

I can confidently give this a 10/10 rating. This is the ideal home base, being situated just half a mile from the park’s entrance. Once you’re in the park, the most popular sites and hikes are within 30 minutes to two hours driving from the entrance – keep in mind the park is 761,000 acres, so there’s a lot of land to cover!

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Rooms

Clean rooms with contemporary decor. My favorite feature – the fire place!

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Balconies

Sunset view decks come with every room

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Activities

There are fun things to do for all ages; from a star gazing party, to nature crafts, to trivia night. Every day is full with different activities. The resort also offers different guided tours throughout the park (for a fee).

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S’mores please!

Who doesn’t love gooey marshmallows inbetween graham crackers and chocolate. With their outdoor firepit, there’s s’more making every night from 7-9pm.

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General store

A mix of local products for souvenirs and food for your time in the park

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Pool + hot tub

Love at first dive

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Dining

The dining options on site are a tavern and restaurant. The restaurant side can be a bit noisy and more family orientated. I preferred the tavern, which has a bar and a mix of picnic tables, tables and booths. The food was nothing to write home about, and found it was best to stick to basic items. When visiting in Mid-October of 2016, we were told a new chef had started, so fingers crossed the food improves in the future.

PRICE: Rooms starting at $200 – depending on the season

LOCATION: 34001 CA-120, Groveland, CA 95321

WEBSITE: http://www.rushcreeklodge.com

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First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren and I am the face behind LaurenJaclyn.com! I have always had a passion for all things beautiful, including fashion, beauty, and design. After graduating college and briefly pursuing event planning, I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of starting a fashion and lifestyle blog about everything from on-trend accessories to my favorite hairspray to fool-proof recipes. It has been so much fun and I hope some of you join me on my blogging journey.

I have had the privilege to travel quite a bit throughout my life, with a lot of my extended family scattered across the world in Italy and South Africa. Traveling abroad is such a blessing, but it can be stressful at the same time! For a fashion lover like myself, the stress always sets in when it’s time to pack, especially when it all has to fit in a carry-on bag. My shoe closet and beauty product collection can get a bit out of control, so I certainly can’t bring it all along when I travel.  Today, I am going to share some tips and tricks to make the most of your carry-on luggage, and make sure you’re looking fab while you travel the globe!

Multi-Purpose Pieces

This is essential when you’re trying to get the most out of your carry-on! Focus on packing things that you’re going to be able to wear a lot of different ways. The best way to do this is to bring great basics, such as a pair of skinny jeans, plain t-shirts, and tanks for layering. Doing this allows you to establish the base of a look without having to pack too many items. Pants or bottoms are another really great way to implement this technique because they’re really easy to wear multiple times between washes (let’s be honest – who washes their jeans with every wear anyways?) and they serve as a great starting point for an outfit. Next time you go on a trip, try to just pack one pair of jeans and see how many looks you can come up with! I recently did a series on my blog where I styled one jumpsuit in three totally different ways (here, here, and here) just by changing up the accessories. Revolving all of my looks around that one staple jumpsuit eliminated the need for a bunch of different pieces that I would have only been able to wear once.

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Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Accessories are the best way to spice up different looks without taking a ton of different pieces with you. They generally take up the least amount of space and can totally change up the overall look. Bringing things like scarves, beanies, and a variety of jewelry will barely add any weight to your luggage, but will add a ton of versatility to your travel wardrobe. Don’t forget about using hair and makeup as accessories, as well! This is one of my favorite ways to change the vibe of a look! A tousled ponytail as opposed to sleek straight hair look gives two totally different styles without you having to pack anything extra!

Wear the Bulky Items

I am the first one who likes to look chic at the airport – but sometimes you have to adjust the plans to make sure you’re able to fit everything you need in your bag. Packing a big bulky jacket in a carry-on is not always feasible, but if you’re going somewhere freezing, it’s necessary. To avoid taking up the entirety of your suitcase with one jacket, omit it from the luggage and simply wear it to the airport. I cannot tell you how many times I have been that girl at the Miami airport in a wool coat, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Another thing I usually always end up wearing while I travel is a hat. I do this for two reasons! First of all, I am obsessed with hats and wear them every chance I get. Second of all, hats can be extremely hard to pack because they take up a lot of room and can often get misshapen during your travels if you place them in your luggage.

Size Matters

Try to downsize anything you possibly can to save room. For example, I am a vitamin junkie and I like to make sure I stay regimented especially when I am on vacation to avoid getting sick. If I brought all of my vitamin bottles that I needed with me, it would take up the majority of my suitcase and add unnecessary weight that could be used for something more practical and stylish. To avoid this, I count out just the amount of vitamins I will need for the time I am gone (plus an extra day’s supply for unexpected emergencies) and put them in a Ziploc bag or travel pill box, like this oneto save space.

The same principle applies for your toiletries! Your toiletries are a necessity but they end up taking more space than you realize. We all know about travel size goodies they have at the grocery store (I mean, how cute are they?) but it’s always a bummer when they don’t have the specific brand you’re used to. As someone with unpredictable hair, I cannot just use any shampoo or conditioner and expect my hair to be manageable so to avoid bringing along my entire bottle, I buy travel size bottles, like theseand fill them up with whatever I want to bring along. This makes for a much smoother transition for my hair and a lighter carry-on for me – win, win!

What are your favorite packing tips for when you travel?

Be sure to check these items off your list before you board your plane abroad.

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1. Apply for your Passport
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2. Make a copy of your Passport and any other important documents.

3. Bring a folder: Store your important documents in here, this is also a handy way to collect any paper items memories you get along the way (tickets, postcards, etc.)

4. Ensure you don’t need a visa to get into the country your visiting. Getting stuck in the airport until your expedited visa comes in does not sound like an item on my bucket-list. Also, be aware if you have to pay a entrance/exit fee when visiting the country.

5. Check in with your doctor for any medications or shots you may need to ensure of your health when visiting a foreign country.

6. Fill any regular prescriptions.

7. Double check all of your carry on liquids and gels are under 3.4oz.

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(Gotoob – one of my favorite carry on items to condense shampoos, soaps and conditioners in) 

8. Call your credit + debit card company and let them know what countries you’ll be visiting.

9. Secure all credit + debit cards – surprisingly, a lot of places throughout the world don’t accept credit cards, so it’s always a good idea to have cash on you at all times. Make sure to have a minimum of 2 debit cards, from different banks, just in case on debit card gets lost or puts a hold on your account (this happens more times than you can imagine).

10. Make sure your credit + debit card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. If they do, look into getting a card that doesn’t.

11. Get the local currency (if you’re able) before you go, you can request it in advance from your bank.

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12. Bring about $100 worth of cash with you in US dollars.

13. Book your first few days (or weeks) of accommodation depending on length and spontaneity of your trip.

14. Make sure you know the address and exactly how to get to your accommodation from the city’s airport. To be safe, print out a Google Map of directions to show to your taxi/uber driver upon arrival. ESPECIALLY if you’re staying in a hostel, which are often on residential or not well known streets.

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15. Break in your shoes and make sure they’re comfortable and don’t give blisters.

16. If you are a student, or have your old student ID – BRING IT! There are student discounts at museums and sites all around the world. It can often make a dramatic difference in entry fees.

 

Check out So Flo by the way of a local. Spend a week or a year in the sunshine state exploring the best places!

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1. Play with a tiger cub at Zoological Wildlife Foundation

Take a walk on the wild side. Miami

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 2. Indulge in Sushiritos at Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen

Japanese fresh takes on sushi and other Japanese classics served in a laid-back and chill setting. Fort Lauderdale

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3. Spend the day at Perez Art Museum

Visit this four story contemporary art museum and see artists like Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain and Basquiat. Miami 

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4. Bayfront Park

Right next to Perez Art Museum. it overlooks Biscayne Bay with views of the water, bridge and downtown Miami. Outdoor concerts are held here as well, check out the schedule. Miami

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5. Eat South Florida’s best ice cream at Jaxson’s

This old fashioned parlor has been scooping out giant ice cream sundaes since 1956, and was recently featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Dania Beach

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6. Flagler Museum

The house that Flagler built – a man who made Florida what it is today by building a railroad throughout Florida in the late 1800s. Tour through his 55 room mansion, with an incredible backyard overlooking the intercostal. Palm Beach

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7. The Breakers

Down the street from Flagler Museum – look around this historic hotel which opened in 1896. At that time, rooms started at $4 a night, with food included (we can dream of that price now!) If you don’t want to spend $500 a night to stay there, stop by HMF and have some eclectic dishes and upscale cocktails in the lavish dining room and lounge. Palm Beach

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 8. Carb-load at The Salty Donut and Parlour Vegan Bakery

Can’t leave South Florida without these sweet treats.

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 The Salty Donut – Be sure to try their shot infused mini donuts. Miami

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The Parlour Vegan Bakery. Plantation

9. Airboat through the Everglades

Take a thrilling adventure through Everglades swamps and grasslands. Basically guaranteed to see alligators, turtles, snakes and other native Floridian animals in their natural habitat.

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10. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

This estate includes extensive Italian Renaissance gardens, native woodland landscape and a historic village outbuildings compound. Miami

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11. Peanut island

Off of Palm Beach, this island is 80 acres of tropical park with swimming areas and paved parkways. Only accessible by boat/kayak/paddle board. Bring some beers and beach chairs, and relax on the beach shores. Palm Beach

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 12. Sponsor a turtle at Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Loggerheard Marine Center focuses on threatened and endangered sea turtles through education and rescuing sea turtles. With the outside center, you can see the turtles that are being nurtured back to health before being released. When I went, I was lucky enough to see three day old hatchlings that hadn’t made it from their nest to the ocean. Juno Beach

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13. Ferry to Florida’s Dry Tortugas

7 islands + dive and snorkeling sites + 19th century Fort Jefferson. Key West

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14. Explore Miami’s art district in Wynwood

To the Wynwood to the walls.

Events: Art Basel is a collection of modern and contemporary art shows which takes place in December. Miami

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15. Bike down Hollywood boardwalk

Various types of bikes are available for rent along the boardwalk. When you want to take a break, grab a piña colada from Jimmy Buffet’s Bar. Hollywood

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16. Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Laudy’s beach hot spot.

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 17. Drop it like a squat at Barry’s Bootcamp

Contrary to popular belief, getting out of bed does not count as a sit-up. Group class set-up designed to give you the best cardio & strength training. Miami

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18. Lauderdale by-the-sea

A more chilled, locals beach spot. Fort Lauderdale

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19. Stroll down Lincoln Road

Although a bit touristy, this mile long, pedestrian-only promenade boasts of excellent shopping and dining. Miami Beach

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20. Morikami Japanese Gardens

Embody zen and Japanese gardens at this center for Japanese arts and culture. After taking in the bonsai and beautiful gardens, head to Cornell café, which has been featured on the Food Network.

Events: Hatsume Fair Festival in April and Lantern Festival in October. Delray Beach

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 21. Swim in crystal clear water in Bahia Honda State Park

Life’s a beach. Big Pine Key

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22. Climb up Key West’s first light house

Check out these killer views of Key West from the 360 degree view at the top. Key West

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23. Eat your way down Las Olas Boulevard

3 must try restaurants: Sweet Nectar, Taco Craft and Louie Bossi’s. Fort Lauderdale

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24. Sample a flight of local brews at Funky Buddha Brewery

A brewtiful way to end the day. Oakland Park

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24. Catch a movie in plush seats with bites & cocktails at iPic

No better way to enjoy a movie. Boca Raton

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25. Dine in opulence at the Versace House

Miami’s most photographed location, which was previously owned by Italian fashion impresario Gianni Versace – and was once listed for $125 million. Stay the night for $1000, or eat dinner inside at Gianni’s. Miami

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26. Find the best latte

No foam-o here.

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Switchbox Coffee. Oakland Park

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Brew Urban Cafe. Fort Lauderdale

27. Get your glam on at Academy of Glam

Get made up by celebrity make up artist Victoria Duke, and her glam squad. They offer makeovers, lessons and incredible beauty products. Davie

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28. Cleanse at Jugo Fresh

Miami-based fresh, organic and plain ol’ good cold-pressed juices, smoothies, food and treats. Sold in Whole Foods throughout South Florida, as well as their flagship store at Wynwood Walls.

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Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is probably one of the most expensive National Parks to visit.  Don’t let that stop you from fulfilling your bucket list item.

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Accommodation:

 There are many options depending on your preference of travel and comfort.  My husband and I love the outdoors, so we opted to camp in one of the beautiful camp grounds. We stayed at Two Jack Main Campground. There is also a Hostel option.  Of course the town Center of Banff has fine hotels to choose from, but remember, we are doing this on a budget. You are not there to sleep all day in a resort.  You are there to be with nature.

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(Two Jack Main Campground)

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(Whistler Campground, Jasper)

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(Part of the welcoming committee)

What to bring:

Park Canada offers equipped camping on certain campgrounds.  You can rent the rest of the items you need in town from a reputable outfitter. Between equipped camping sites and renting camping items, you don’t have to bring any gear at all. 

Food:

The town center was just 15 minutes from our campground, yet we felt worlds away.  There are dining options downtown if you must, or go to Safeway or Nester Market for groceries.  Don’t buy a lot, remember, it is bear and wolf country. The Banff Farmer’s Market is every Wednesday in Downtown Banff, get the bacon and elk sausage – it’s the best I’ve ever had!

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(Rise and shine it’s breakfast time!)

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(Banff Farmer’s Market)

Transportation:

Fly into Calgary International. Rent a small car. You don’t need an SUV. Stay in Calgary for the night. Visit Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and purchase Bear Spray and the Park Entrance fee.

What to buy in Calgary:

Find a store that sells everything.  Grab basic can goods and a cheap pillow you can leave behind after your trip.  Two key essentials are water and a lock for the bear box. Prices of food increases in Banff.  The drive from Calgary to Banff is about an hour and a half.

Park Fee: 

Decide the fee to fit your needs.  There is a day pass, and an annual Discovery pass. There is more information on Banff park fees and camping fees here. 

 Once you get to the campground:

Check in is at 2:00 p.m. You have plenty of time to explore and get the lay of the land before you go to your campground.  You must get up early everyday and get to your destination first thing in the morning.  Parking is a premium at Lake Louise and other hot spots. Arrive there around 8:00 a.m.  The GPS is probably better than other directional gear so you get satellite service.  Signage is well place and you cannot get lost.  There is one major highway.

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(Peyto Lake, a glacier fed lake in Banff)

thumbnail_img_0537(Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise)

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(Chocolate and coffee at Bear’s Den Smokehouse & Patio)

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Enjoy your adventure.  Here are some websites to get you started.  Don’t let the tour buses bother you.  It is a good option for tourist thats are not too mobile. 

Helpful Websites to get you started:

Banff National ParkEquipped CampingHostelHorse back trail ridesRock ClimbingCamping Gear Rental

-Written By Vi Phillips

Vi is an incredible photographer who is just as passionate about photography as she is about UCF Knights and staying in shape! She is selling her beautiful collection of Canada photos, and in the process of creating a website. Comment below for any questions or comments you have for Vi.