Tag Archives: music

My Top Ten Festival Tips from Lollapalooza 2014

27 Aug

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A few weeks ago I experienced my first big music festival, Lollapalooza. Being one of the biggest music events in the Mid-West, the festival features 3 days of concerts from both main stream and off-the-chart artists in Grant Park, Chicago. Below are my top ten festival tips I collected while attempting Lolla for the first time!


TIP #1:  It’s hot. Really think through your outfits and prepare to stay hydrated. Luckily there are free water filling stationsblog lola1 sponsored by CamelBak. A lot of festival goers had fancy little water backpacks with a spout over their shoulder (see photo on the right). I just packed an empty water bottle in my cross body bag to fill once I got there. Either way, make sure you are drinking water between all those beers! Light fabrics and comfy shoes are a must. At the end of the day nobody cares how cute your outfit is, just that you can last 10 hours of standing in it.

TIP #2: Create a plan of action. Print out the festival line-up and highlight where each artist is you want to see. The festival is about a mile long with 8 stages. You’ll want to arrive 45 min early to a concert if possible to get a decent spot within viewing distance of the stage. If artists are playing back to back, we skipped the last song or two to head to the next stage. It’s packed and takes longer than you might think.

TIP #3: Take the time to explore all the great things Lolla has to offer. They had everything from a Farmer’s Market, to a free artist-signing booth, to Beer and Wine Gardens for a chance to relax. We saw some great festival clothes lined up in tents, and made a point to enjoy a craft beer between shows where we played corn hole and got our hair braided by one of the sponsor tents. So fun!

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TIP #5: Bring a portable phone charger. If you are like me, you want to capture all those special festival moments as they are happening. This means a lot of camera phone, videos, Instagram, and texting. I brought a portable charger small enough to fit in my bag and recharge at lunch between concerts. Also a good thing to keep in mind if you meet some cool people and want to meet up later before your phone dies!

TIP #6: Be sure to check out some of the after parties. It just takes some research and a little bit more money for tickets to enjoy a great after show. It’s a chance to get a little more intimate with your favorite artists verses the huge festival shows. The sooner you research options the better, the shows all sell out pretty fast.

TIP #7: Be sure to try some of the great food that’s offered at Chow Town, a collection of tents in the middle of the festival. We had anything from authentic Chicago pizza to a delicious root beer float to quench our sweet tooth and thirst. Everything looked great and there are many different options ranging from American to Vegan dishes. Everything was pretty quick, especially with the “tap to pay” option with our wristbands.

TIP #8: People suck. You are going to be pushed, shoved, spilled on, yelled at, laughed at, and insulted. There wasn’t one concert where we weren’t cut in front of for a worse view of the performers. This takes a little time to get used to, but once you get over it you’ll enjoy yourself 10x more. It’s going to happen, so all you can do is go with the flow.

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TIP #9: Über was a lifesaver and a big promotion at Lollapalooza this year. We were hesitant at first to try the personal taxi service, but it turned out extremely well. Cabs never took longer than 15 minutes, and only once were we forced to wait that long. Getting to and from the festival was a breeze and the promo gave each of us one free ride. I urge people to take advantage of the app. I was pretty impressed by how well it worked with so many people in the park each night.

TIP #10: Don’t be afraid to let loose and truly enjoy the concerts. There were moments where I was the only one dancing around and jamming to my favorite song, and they were some of my best memories of the weekend! When you let yourself go and vibe the music with the thousands of people around you, it is truly a magical moment.

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The Smart Girls Guide to Las Vegas

26 Jun

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Some girlfriends and I decided to celebrate our recent graduation from Michigan State University with a weekend in the City of Sin. What better way to treat yourself for surviving four more years of education than at one of the World’s Top Party Cities?! We had the time of our lives and did it all on a college girl’s budget.  Here is a collection of tips and tricks I picked up throughout the duration of our vacation.

 THE ESSENTIALS


Our hotel and flight were booked a month in advance for 4 days and 3 nights. If you travel to Las Vegas during the off-season it saves you money, flying on weekdays saves you even MORE money. Try to avoid flying Spirit Airlines if you can, the baggage fees suck. You are better off flying Southwest for the best rates! We stayed in Excalibur, a hotel towards the end of the strip. The hotel had a 30% promo when we booked which was awesome. The location was conveniently close to the necessities, (food court, CVS, bus top, other popular hotels), without the price of the main hotels (Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars Palace) in the center of the strip.

SUGGESTION: Mandalay Bay was right next door and we had a blast both at their club LIGHT and most especially at their pool party DAYLIGHT BEACH CLUB. I recommend staying there to swerve the whole family scene goin’ on in Excalibur.

P1040145TIPS:

  • 3-4 days in Vegas is perfect, but any longer would be too much. You don’t get much sleep with all the late night activities!
  • Take the bus from the airport to your hotel on the strip. $2 one way vs $15 to take the shuttle.
  • Wear at LEAST spf 50. The last thing you want is to look fried on your first night out in the city.
  • Nasal spray is also a good idea, even if you don’t get bloody noses….it helps with breathing and staying comfortable.
  • Keep hydrated! We kept water in our purses while exploring and Gatorade in our hotel room for early mornings and late nights.
  • Be sure to tip everywhere you go (casinos, cabs, promoters, clubs). It’s highly expected in Vegas.

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BUDGETING


The city offers some seriously yummy dining options but at seriously expensive prices. We kept a designated snack table in our hotel room to cut down on costs. Each girl brought her own breakfast (granola bars) and little snacks to get them through the rest of the day (trail mix, crackers, jerky, etc). Try to stick to a cheap lunch and indulge in a nice dinner to stay on budget. We decided to splurge on one fancy dinner at Le Cirque in The Bellagio and my steak was worth every penny. I allowed myself about $100 per day ($300 total), but if you take my advice (see below), you’ll come home with $100 leftover like I did!

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SUGGESTION: The girls and I had a fabulous on-budget lunch, thanks to a tip from a local employee. Check out Serendipity 3 for the best $5 happy hour Sangria of your life and the cutest little dining experience. Located across the street from The Flamingo hotel and attached to Caesars Palace.

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TIPS:

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. You will save tons of money by finding promoters and packages online before your trip.
  • Sign up for multiple guest lists online. Try to have a few options for each day just in case you don’t end up liking a place.
  • It’s much more difficult to skip the line and get offered VIP/Bottle Service if you have boys in your group (sorry fellas).
  • Body guards may escort you to bottle service with random guys, which means free drinks served directly to you. That definitely does not mean you have to stay there. We usually enjoyed a few drinks, made small talk, then left… your girl does not pass up free, $100 bottles of champagne. Cheers!
  • My group was not big on gambling but we definitely made a point to try, it is Vegas after all! Stick to the quarter slots to save money. Notice I didn’t say penny slots (I know that’s what you were thinking). Bartenders don’t usually frequent those slots, which means less free drinks for you. Just pop in a few dollars, and …slowly….use up your bets. (Don’t forget to tip)!

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ENTERTAINMENT


Make a point to see at least one of the many fabulous shows that Las Vegas has to offer. One of the highlights of our weekend was seeing the all male Australian show, Thunder Down Under. We thought it was the perfect way to celebrate our 1 year anniversary from our study abroad in Australia last summer! Plus hot dudes….you can’t go wrong. The show was like experiencing the movie Magic Mike firsthand. It was perfect for a group of gals fresh out of college, we laughed the whole time! (Table #12 is gold, you’ll thank me later). I also suggest going to a pool party for some daytime fun, they are very big in Vegas and Daylight Beach Club was a riot!

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SUGGESTION: Hit the pool parties early in order to get a good spot by the pool that doesn’t cost $200+. Pack light so you’re not stuck having to take shifts watching each others stuff. Be aware some pool clubs will have you standing the whole time if it’s an overrated hotel.

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TIPS:

Vegas clubs are constantly changing popularity, music genres, DJ’s, and crowds. Here are my tips for the following clubs in 2014;

  • Tryst Nightclub at The Wynn: Hip Hop & R&B, great crowd, small dance floor, beautiful/classy decor. By far my favorite club of the whole weekend.
  • TAO Nightclub at The Venetian: Hip Hop & R&B with a bit of EDM, mixed crowd, big dance floor, awesome Asian inspired decor. My second favorite club of the weekend.
  • LIGHT Nightclub at Mandalay Bay: Top 40 & Heavy EDM, weird crowd, medium dance floor, amazing circus acts all night, very entertaining.
  • HAZE Nightclub at The Aria: Top 40 & EDM Mix, decent crowd, good size dance floor. My least favorite of the weekend.
  • All free drink tickets from your promoters (usually good before midnight) are for well drinks, so know what you want beforehand in order to get in and out of the overly crowded bars quicker.

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SIGHT-SEEING


Some of the best sight-seeing opportunities in Vegas lie in the various themed hotels and casinos on the strip. The best part being, it’s totally free! Do as many as you possibly can because they all have something special to offer. Be sure to cab into Old Vegas, Fremont Street as well, it has a cool outdoor/indoor atmosphere. Old Vegas offers a laser light show canopy above your head at night, free live concerts, some classic casinos like The Golden Nugget and newer ones like The D (Detroit pride baby)! There are even various characters ready to snap a photo for a small price (Chippendales, Vegas Showgirls, The Village Men, Naked Cowboy…you name it, they have it). It’s the only street in Vegas you’re allowed to carry your alcoholic beverage around outside too.

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SUGGESTION: A few of the casinos have free shows for their spectators. Check out Treasure Island for a pirate ship show, Circus-Circus for circus performers, The Mirage for the erupting Volcano, and the Forum Shops to watch The Fall of Atlantis. (We didn’t get to see any of these because we ran out of time, but I did the research and they are all major tourist attractions)!

TIPS:

  • I didn’t realize just how long The Strip was (about 4 miles) until I got there. Ye be warned.
  • Time management for your one day of sight-seeing is very important, get up earlier than you want in order to see more.
  • The Bellagio fountains are magical, so much better in person than any video you’ve seen or story you’ve heard.
  • Don’t be afraid to go into the designer stores, we crashed Tiffany’s like we owned the place…it’s just cool to stare at stuff you can’t ever imagine affording.
  • Zip-line down Fremont Street for about $30 (looked like a blast)!
  • Take a trip on the big Ferris Wheel during the day ($25) or at night ($35) for a spectacular view of the city.
  • Get camera happy, it’s worth it. We skipped our only 2 hours to sleep after the clubs before our 8AM plane back home just to snap photos of ourselves in front of the Vegas Sign…. WORTH IT. (PS don’t try to walk there, just cab and get it over with).

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FASHION


For every girl who texts you “what are you bringing to Vegas” here are your answers. Over packing is a burden, and for such a short weekend, the majority of you will probably carry-on your luggage. You want options but not too many options where you are holding up the crowd trying to decide what to wear. Plan your nighttime outfits to a T, shoes, jewelry and all. I tried to add a little bit of character to each of my outfits (pin-up look, leather look, etc). I feel more put together that way, as opposed to picking the shortest, tightest dress I could find….any girl can do that. Don’t be afraid to stand out, that’s what gets you noticed! As for daytime clothes, I brought two traveling outfits for the plane and one daytime sight-seeing outfit. I also brought 2 bikini’s as options for our hotel pool and pool party, as well as a white button down and floral cape as a cover-up to go with each. Don’t forget PJ’s!

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SUGGESTION: The lighter the fabric, the better. It is bloody hot in Nevada during the summer. Loose fitting, cotton, and comfy is a great mix when you are sweating your booty off walking 4 miles of the strip. Not only is thinner fabric lighter and easier to pack, it also allows you to fit more in your suitcase.

TIPS:

  • Comfy shoes are a must while sightseeing; I bring my Birkenstocks with me everywhere I go.
  • Remember your layers for the plane.
  • Sexy high heels are a must. SUCK iT UP, THiS iS VEGAS.
  • On that note…it’s okay to wear sandals to the club for one night….but one night only 😉
  • Don’t forget your cross-body bag so you are hands free to play. I wore brown for day and black for night.

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There you have it, a collection of my personal tips for the perfect girls getaway to Las Vegas. I hope this helps you in the planning process, saves you a bit of grief, and room for a bit more fun! Have anything to add? Feel free to comment in the box below.

 

Cheers,

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The Brunette Abroad: My Summer Playlist

14 Jul

The Brunette Abroad: My Summer Playlist

Much like you other 20 somethings, music plays a major part in my life. While I am working abroad in Australia, I am constantly walking or riding public transport. This means my iPhone and iPod are never too far away from me.

Here are the songs I just can’t get enough of this summer; laid back, funky, beach approved, and full of good Aussie vibes. I love how music can remind you of a special person or place, and I know once I am back home in the States these songs will forever remind me of my amazing trip abroad:

1. Get Lucky- Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

2. Ocean Avenue- Yellowcard

3. Lay Me Down- The Dirty Heads ft. Rome of Sublime

4. Rock Your Body- Justin Timberlake

5. Boys of Summer- The Ataris

6. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke

7. I Want You- Savage Garden

8. Smooth- Santana ft. Rob Thomas

9. We Can’t Stop- Miley Cyrus

10. Royals- Lorde

A little mix of everything, perfect for any mood.

 

Cheers,

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