Travel {Photography} Tips : Protecting Your Memories

Most of you are aware by now that the majority of the photos on these pages are by my husband Nick who has a wonderful eye for creating gorgeous images.  And in this monthly series, Nick is back guest posting today, offering photography tips and tricks he’s picked up over the years through our travels.  From some of his favorite lenses to travel with to how he gets the shots he does and so much more, welcome to the next installment of Travel (Photography) Tips!

I recently heard a story about a fellow traveler spending an awesome photo-filled week in South America. He got home with a bunch of great images, a week later they were gone forever. What had happened was his computer crashed, with his hard drive corrupt he had no way to recover his precious memories. This is a really tragic story and it hits really close to home for me. When I travel I spend quite a bit of time planning for photo locations before we leave, shooting during the trip, and finally keywording and importing the images onto my computer after the adventures are over. If I lost all of my images I would be devastated, all that time wasted and the photos gone. Even if you don’t spend as much time on your photos as I do, those lost images are lost memories.

In a hopeful attempt to prevent you from losing your precious memories I wanted to write a little bit about my strategy for keeping my images and other content backed up. I use a very well-known strategy called the 321 system.  How it works is this… Your data needs to be backed up in 3 places, 2 different types of media, and one 1 storage location offsite.

You want three different locations because if any location fails you have access to the other two.

My three locations are:

1. My main photo drive on my computer

2.  A secondary backup drive that is connected to my computer in my home

3. An online cloud storage service called BackBlaze

Shooting in Amsterdam.

The reason why you want two different types of media is because if one media type becomes obsolete you still have access to the data on the other kind of media. Do you remember zip disks?  I used to have a bunch of photos on zip disks, now I couldn’t tell you how to access those files because no one makes the readers anymore. There are a bunch of types of media available: CDs, DVDs, hard drives, USB drives, cloud storage and even some people still use old fashion tape storage. The two kinds of media I have chosen to use are local hard drives and cloud storage.

The last piece of the 321 system is offsite. This is designed to protect you from a local event. A local event like your home or office being burglarized or what if there was a fire and your house collapsed, destroying your computer and hard drives. It would not do you any good being backed up if your back was also lost, everything would be gone. 

If you have storage off site either in the cloud, at the bank in a lock box, even at your parents’ house, you’re protected from physical local data loss. One of the reasons I like using Cloud storage for my offsite backup is that it’s done automatically and without me having to work at it. I have a app installed on my computer that monitors all the work done and then uploads the changes automatically to a server in the Cloud. It does this for my photos, documents, music and other content. If you have a lot, it can take a while to get it all up in the Cloud, depending on your internet connection, but once you’re there, it’s great. There’s a number of different cloud storage providers available, I chose to use a service called Backblaze ($5 per month). I’ve heard great things about other providers like Carbonite and Crash Plan as well.

The point is to be backed up and ready for any situation that could compromise your memories and data. You don’t want to lose that photo from your honeymoon, the images of your child’s first steps, that awesome trip around the world. These are all memories that need to be protected. The digital world makes it really easy to create content but it also means it’s really easy to destroy it. I myself have lost numerous photos by accident, it’s too bad and that is why I try to be really careful about managing my data now. I hope that this article can help save at least one memory for someone and that would make all the difference.

Happy traveling and good luck behind the lens!

5 Totally Underrated Spots in Europe

Before we get into today’s post, just a little note to let all you lovely readers know that I made the switch from Blogger to WordPress this week, so if you notice any glitches or little formatting issues, please excuse them as I get to know WordPress and the new layout.  So thank you for your patience!  And now on to today’s post…

Europe is full of tourist spots, cities that everyone knows of and are the places that most people head to.  But the continent is also full of places that are still relatively unknown, or at least not bogged down by tourists like some of their counterparts.  There are lots of spots that are totally underrated in Europe but here are five of my favorites!

The Scottish city is one that often gets overlooked for busier and more well known London.  Edinburgh though is a gem not to be missed, from stone buildings that look straight out of Harry Potter to an old world feel that feels unique to Scotland, from the heavy Scottish accents to amazing countryside that surrounds the city.  The city is becoming more and more of a tourist destination but in the off season you can still wander the streets alongside the locals.

Perhaps because of its fraught history or because most tourists block to Dublin and the Irish countrysides of County Kerry, but Northern Ireland is still a relatively unknown spot for tourists.  Home of the Giant’s Causeway and the tiny town of Bushmills famous for its whiskey, Northern Ireland is gorgeous and quiet.  Rent a car and drive the countryside, through tiny towns and green fields full of sheep.  The North also boasts incredible cliffsides above the ocean and incredible food.


Often overlooked for its famous neighbor, Cannes, Nice in the South of France is still fairly quiet in the off seasons.  While the Summers stay busy with tourists, an escape here in the early Spring is the perfect time to wander the Riviera city without being overwhelmed.  The mixture of a laid back lifestyle and French food and culture makes Nice a fantastically underrated spot.


While Iceland is becoming more and more popular, there are still a ton of people who say, “why would I go to Iceland?”  An untouched world of beauty and superstitions, Iceland is one of those places that you’ll leave saying “why haven’t I been to Iceland sooner?”  


The Scandinavian city is often overlooked by tourists who tend to stick to mid to Southern Europe, Denmark’s capital is a great spot to experience Scandinavia and Northern Europe.  With a definite charm and super walkable streets, Copenhagen is a great escape from the typical European cities like London and Rome.

Travel Style : Northern Europe + Paris in October

Heading to Europe for a week to 10 days?  Want to be stylish and yet still pack on in carry on?  I’m here to help!  It’s totally possible to pack multiple different weather and location appropriate outfits for a Fall trip to Europe in only a carry on and here’s what to pack.

Fall in Europe can be unpredictable.  On our most recent trip through Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels and Paris, we encountered gorgeous blue skies, pouring rain and cold temperatures. But with these items below, you’ll be prepared for everything!

What to pack for 10 days in Europe in October (in a carry-on):
Outerwear (1) raincoat with a hood | (1) trench
Bottoms (1) pair of flare denim  |  (1) pair of black skinny denim  |  (1) pair of skinny dark denim
Tops (1) heavy/thick sweater  | (3) long sleeve t-shirts/light sweaters  | (1) long, thick sweater
Accessories (1) cross body purse  |  (5) scarves of different thicknesses | (1) pair leather gloves
Shoes (1) pair of low flat boots  | (1) pair of tall boots  |  (1) pair of Converse (or similar)

And here’s how I put together 7 different outfits with the above items for each day traveling through Europe.

The River Place {Portland} : A Hotel Review

Hotel Review Guide

A while back I was in contact with the local Kimpton contact for the Portland and Seattle hotels, when the idea of checking out some of the chains hotels in my hometown came up.  I jumped at the idea as I love Kimptons and their mixtures of a chain hotel with boutique style and layouts is quickly moving them up the ladder here in the US.  It ended up that the best option was the River Place hotel, a hotel that’s been in Portland for years but only recently converted to a Kimpton and updated in the process.  So we set a date and a few weeks ago, Nick and I got to check out this lovely hotel on the banks of the Willamette River in Portland.


The River Place – A Kimpton Hotel
Portland, Oregon, USA


Photo courtesy of Nick Nieto Photography
When we stayed: November 2014  |  Price Range: $250-$300/night  |  Website: River Place

What I Loved
Decor – The decor of this hotel is fantastic.  A rustic but chic NW vibe is present everywhere and the attention to detail is gorgeous.  I loved the neutral but hip color schemes and the different materials like leather and wood throughout.

Photo courtesy of Nick Nieto Photography

Location – For a quiet weekend in Portland, this is the hotel for you.  Located directly on the Willamette River and adjacent to the Riverfront Park, it’s the perfect spot for long walks along the water or taking a quick 10 minute walk into downtown.  It’s close to everything, yet far enough away from the crowds of the city center to have some peace and quiet.

Dog Friendly – One of my favorite things about the Kimpton hotel chain is that they are dog friendly. While I’ve never used this feature, as I don’t have a dog, I love seeing people and their dogs walking through the hotel.

Outlets – Perhaps one of our favorite things about our room were the amount of outlets.  They were literally everywhere, in the nightstands on either side of the bed, on the table in the living area, it was amazing.  That’s one thing that many hotels lack and we really appreciated that feature.

Kimpton loyalty program – We have been part of the Kimpton loyalty program for years now and it really is a great program to be a part of.  Among its many perks, it includes free wifi and $10 towards raiding the mini bar in your room, completely free of charge.

Photo courtesy of Nick Nieto Photography

What I Didn’t Love
Views – We were upgraded to a suite for our stay and while the room was gorgeous, I felt like if you were going to be paying the money for that size room, you would have wanted a better view of the river.  Our view looked out over the harbor and the I-5 bridge in the background, but for a great view of the river, we didn’t really have that.

Furniture layout – I loved the furniture in the room and as I mentioned before the decor and aesthetic is lovely, however there were a few layout issues I found strange.  One was the nightstands and lights next to the bed, which were very cool pieces, though they stuck out so far from the top of the bed that you literally had to push yourself down the bed before putting your feet down on the ground.  The other strange thing was that there was only 1 chair at the large round table in the living area.  We sat down to eat our wonderful welcome gift from the hotel of macarons and sparkling pear juice and realized that only one of us could sit there.  It would have been nice to have two chairs.

Notes to Keep in Mind
Rent a bike – The hotel has a few bikes that you can take out, totally complimentary.  It’s such a cool activity to do while in Portland and see the city like a local.  We rented 2 bikes Sunday morning before checking out and rode all down the riverfront, across the Steel Bridge and back again.  It was so fun exploring the city like a tourist!

Secure Parking – The hotel has secure parking available for $31 per night, so if you’re driving into the city, it’s easy and safe.

True Colours was welcomed to the River Place Hotel as a guest, though all opinions are my own for this review.  And a special thank you to the hotel for our complimentary upgrade upon arrival!

5 Times When It’s Worth the Extra Money

Travel is expensive, it really isn’t worth in saying it isn’t.  Even if you employ techniques to save money and even when you get deals, it’s still expensive.  And while I do my best to cut back where I can while traveling and use as many miles and points as I can, there are also time when it’s worth the extra money to splurge on your trip.  
It’s important to know though when it’s worth the extra money and when it’s not.  For Nick and I, we like to splurge in certain areas of our trips but over the years we’ve realized when we can handle cutting cost and when we really should spend a little extra.  Here are the areas I would suggest splurging on and when it’s really worth the extra money.
Plane trips over 10 hours.
The majority of the time, we’re just like everyone else and smashed into economy seats on airplanes with bad food, no leg room and the person next to us taking up half our seat.  Isn’t that always the case?!  However, there is a limit to what we’re willing to endure aboard an airplane.  When we’re traveling somewhere on a plane for over 10 hours, that’s sort of my limit.  Over 10 hours is worth upgrading, even if it’s just to Premium Economy which is becoming more and more affordable.  
A good night’s rest.
One thing I’m not willing to skimp on when we travel is a good hotel or apartment.  My sleep is really important to me and I’m always willing to pay more for good accommodation.  Especially towards the beginning of your trip and at the end when you’re tired from traveling or feeling ready to head home, it’s important to get good rest and spend the money on a decent place.
Train rides over 4 hours.
I love traveling by train and particularly in Europe, the trains are pretty good and comfortable for quick trips.  Though when you’re spending 4+ hours on a train, it’s often worth paying not much more for a first class ticket.  We did this on the 5 hour journey from Milan to Nice a couple years ago and got our own first class cabin.  It was by far worth it for not that much more money.
Special occasions.
I’m a big fan of celebrating special occasions and trips can be a great way to commemorate birthdays or anniversaries.  But don’t skimp on these trips, these trips are the ones that everyone will remember for years to come and it’s worth spending a little extra for a special memory.
Amazing Views.
My one major weakness when we travel are hotels that have amazing views.  There is something about waking up and opening up your windows to see Notre Dame across the street or panoramic views over Brussels or seeing your private infinity pool overflowing down the hill into Lake Pichola in Udaipur or watching a lightening storm behind the Taj Mahal from the privacy of your hotel room.  A fantastic view from a hotel room is always worth the extra money and will often make your whole trip.