Five International Travel Must-Have’s
 Good quality, lightweight luggage – I invested in some amazing luggage late last year and, although I love the way it looks and how it is organized on the inside, I can’t get past the fact that it weighs 9 lb. without anything in it! That just doesn’t work for an over-packer who is ‘moving’ abroad for a few months! I needed something lightweight, functional, organized AND affordable, so I decided to buy a few pieces by Samsonite. They have a long history of curating quality luggage pieces so, I couldn’t be more excited about this investment. I probably should have made it awhile ago! I also really like that each piece can be zipped into the others for easy storage. Whether you are a short or long term traveler, these are perks we can all enjoy! Aside from these bigger pieces, a durable tote is a must-have in terms of carry-on luggage.
 A solid water supply – Remember: when you’re on an airplane, you are breathing in recycled air and there is less oxygen within the cabin than your body is used to. You’re much more likely to get dehydrated when you travel, so you need to be conscious about keeping yourself hydrated! Be sure to either buy a large bottle of water before you fly or bring a water bottle to repeatedly fill up on your own. I try and drink a full bottle of water before I board then fill it up again to drink during my flight. I am gearing up for this adventure to London, so I just bought one of these S’well bottles to test out to cut down on cost over time.
 Something cozy & warm – Flight crews tend to keep planes on the colder side, especially when you’re traveling overnight or internationally. With that said, I like to wear either a sweatshirt, leggings, sneakers, or a warm wrap or scarf over my outfit to make sure I’m comfortable for the duration of the flight. For an international or redeye flight, I tend to wear what I’m okay with sleeping in so that I don’t have to take time to change. I did that one time and I found that using the restroom, changing, then washing your face and getting yourself ‘ready to sleep’ took way longer than it should. I also do that so that I have more room in my carry-on bag for other things. I particularly love these cashmere wraps. They’re great for the harsh winter temperatures, too!
SALE ALERT: My favorite leggings are currently on sale!
Here are some options that are ‘Alyson Haley approved’ for travel ensembles:
You can read more about my international travel tips and packing must-have’s in THIS post!
 Patience – If you’re traveling across the country or internationally, you’re in for a long trip and you don’t have to be Carmen San Diego to know that you can run into all sorts of disappointments and delays along the way. Be sure to pack a whole lot of patience and compassion, and try to see the glass half full, to get through those unexpected hiccups. It’ll help you have a great trip no matter what!
 Necessary documents and paperwork – It’s a given to bring your passport with you when traveling internationally, and your ID when you’re traveling domestically but I’m learning the importance of really doing your research before leaving the house. Obviously, I’m tackling a whole other beast by traveling with Fish over to the U.K. [which requires a lot of planning and preparation before the trip] and I realize not everyone is in a similar boat when they travel but, if you are traveling for a long period of time, this tip still applies to you! Be sure you look into whether or not you need to get shots prior to entering the country you’re traveling to or a visa in order to stay for a particular length of time. For me, I’ve printed out ALL of Fish’s paperwork, plus an extra copy of it all, directions to where I will pick him up at Heathrow, a list of my emergency contacts, a copy of my passport, my round-trip flight information, my flat address and landlord information, my driving service reservation and their telephone number in case I need it, etc. Thankfully, I don’t need a visa to live in the U.K. for three months but what if I did and I didn’t think to look into it? So, talk to other people who have traveled to where you’re going and do research online to prevent as many headaches and set-backs, as possible. Print out all necessary paperwork and keep it in an easily accessibly place [i.e. your carry on luggage] just in case you might need to reference it on your day of travel and / or day of arrival into the country.
Five Things You Should Snag From The #NSale
So, I realize that the #NSale has kind of lost its luster now that it’s been open for two weeks for a lot of you! But, if you’re still in the market for some good steals … I am seeing that this fleece pullover that I’m obsessed with has been restocked in a few colors & sizes, as well as my favorite pair of jeans! I’ve loved this leopard flap cross body bag from the beginning of the sale but was SURE it would sell out, so I decided to wait on it. It’s still available and so, so cute! It’ll be great with Fall outfits! These heels are a great deal and will be a great addition to any outfit with that purse, as well! I just saw that these faux leather leggings are a part of the sale, and I have a few friends that SWEAR by them every Fall & Winter season. They’re pretty pricey but, thanks to the sale, you can get them just over $50!
Five Exciting Things About Living In London
One of this weeks’ suggestions was sharing the five things about my London adventure that I’m really excited about! This will definitely be an easy list to make, and these are all reasons why I’m excited to share it all with you, as well!
 Being in an old, historically rich city – I grew up in a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida and while it was a great place to grow up, I have always loved visiting cities with LOTS of history, culture and things to do. I love getting to know new places and cities, so I am absolutely ecstatic over getting lost in the different neighborhoods, taking Fish on walks in Hyde Park, trying out lots of restaurants and bars, shopping on Oxford Street, taking myself on day dates to museums or monuments, etc. I think I’m especially excited to have this experience be in London because of my Mom’s deep love for European history, English literature, the British monarchy, etc. She took middle school kids on trips abroad to help bridge the gap between their textbook and the real thing. I know it was her dream to live abroad for awhile, immersed in the culture she knew ALL about from the biographies she read, documentaries she watched, and fictional story characters that she loved. It will certainly be a little bittersweet to not be able to share any of what I’m doing with her. I wish I had her suggestions to go off of but, thanks to Pinterest, I’ll be able to kind of get some good ideas… and I already do, so stay tuned for some fun Snapchat adventures and Instagram photos 😉
 Seasons – Being from Florida, this is something I’ve always wished I got to experience on a yearly basis. We only get to experience summer, and just wet cold weather in January & February. And, I’m not complaining. I love warm weather and palm trees and the beach … so, it’s not all bad, but I think there’s some truth to the saying: ‘you always want what you can’t have’! I’m excited to finally get what I’ve never been able to have! Ha! I’m very, very excited to see what the Fall in London, and throughout Europe, is like!
 Ben – Do I really need to explain this one? Hah, being that we’ve been doing the long distance thing throughout our entire relationship … I cannot WAIT to be in the same city as Ben and actually make plans regularly and do things that normal couples get to do on a daily basis [like, see each other, hah]. Ben is excited to take me to all of his favorite spots, introduce me to his family & friends, and actually just surprised me yesterday by telling me he’s going to meet me at the airport when I arrive to help me with all my bags and [meet] Fish! I’ll be sure to share it all on Snapchat! If you don’t know who Ben is … read more about him in THIS edition of the Friday Five.
 Easier to travel to so many of my bucket list travel destinations – I firmly believe that the more you travel, the more you want to! And, what’s so hard for us Americans is just getting over to where we want to go. Flights can be so expensive and, sometimes, it can take almost two days to get to your destination and readjusted to the time. Then, by that time, you only have a few days to see everything you want to see in these historically rich cities before you have to head back because we only have so much vacation time. It’s extremely unfair. I realize that, because my job is flexible, I’m able to travel a little more easily than most but, remember, I worked as a nurse for YEARS before I was in this position! So, believe me, I know the constraints you face working for a large company / hospital /etc. It used to take me a full year of no sick days to accrue two weeks worth of vacation. Then, I had to get that time off approved by my supervisor and it was based on all the other vacation requests. So … being that I’ve experienced that frustration before, I am excited that I’ll be able to hop over to different cities that living in America makes it hard to get to or cities that most people don’t get to venture over to because there’s not AS much to do or see – like Munich, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc. I have such a long list and have already planned a few trips that I can’t wait to share with you all!
 Fish being with me – While I love to travel, the hardest thing about being away is not coming home to Fish. I am with him for hours on end when I’m home, almost all day long, so when we’re not together … sounds cheesy … but it’s weird. He’s my best little friend and I’m so excited that he gets to be a part of this experience with me.
Five Fears About Living In London
On the contrary, there are some things about doing life in London that I’m a little nervous about! I think it’s natural when you’re going into something new and unknown to be nervous. None of these are going to ruin my time over there – just some thoughts on challenges that could come up along the way!
 Homesick – I’ll be honest: I’m independent … almost to a fault … but, London is VERY far away from home and everything and everyone that I’m used to. As I’ve already stated, I could not be more excited to experience the culture and all there is to see and do in the city but, at the end of the day, I’m an American and I’m used to being around ALL AMERICANS and ALL AMERICAN THINGS. I like to consider myself a very open and accepting individual who loves to meet new people from different backgrounds and family dynamics, see and experience new things and ways of life, but I’m not naive. I can imagine there will be things that I’ll begin to miss while I’m over there like my iced drip coffee that I get every morning, Chik-Fil-A, driving, American football on TV on Saturdays starting in a few short weeks, etc. So, I am a little nervous about those feelings creeping up on me from time to time, but I don’t anticipate they’ll spoil my time in London.
 Making friends – Over the years, I feel blessed to say that I’ve made some amazing friendships from my time here in Jacksonville. Some of my girlfriends are here, but most are spread out all over the country. With that said, and with my busy schedule, I have become more and more of a homebody as I’ve gotten older and I like it that way. As you know, I’ve been in Jacksonville for years so going out to the bars isn’t SUPER appealing to me. I think I am worried that I will get really comfortable working in London, being with Ben and then not challenge myself to go out, meet up with friends of friends that live in London, and just meet new people. I need to remember that my life shouldn’t revolve around Ben. He will be a huge part of my time there but I’ve never been one of those girls who revolves their whole lives around their boyfriend but I do enjoy staying home, so I think I could easily fall down that slippery slope. If you have any suggestions on making friends in new cities, let me know! Would love to hear it! 🙂
 Finding a ‘team’ in London – Here in Jacksonville, I have multiple team members. My assistant lives down there street from me. I have three photographer friends that I can call on for different projects and I know any of them would do an amazing job. I have a tailor who is exceptional, yet doesn’t charge an insane amount. I have a hair stylist that knows exactly what I need in terms of color and cut. I have finally found the best aesthetician in the area that won’t mess up my eyebrows. I know where I can get the prettiest flowers to keep around my home, where to take Fish if he gets into something, etc. So, I think the newness and uncertainty of where I can get my needs for my business and home life met is a little unnerving and something I’m not looking forward to. I’m having to remind myself that London is a huge city and I will probably be totally surprised and excited about the ‘team’ I find there. Plus, I feel extremely blessed that this is something I am able to experience so – I’ll get over this real quick, guys! Don’t worry! 😉
 Not enough time to do everything I want to do – Full transparency here: I get overwhelmed with my thoughts very easily. I’m a rapid thinker. I tend to have a lot of things in my mind that I want to accomplish for work and for experiences, that it’s hard for me to lasso them together to organize. I get scatterbrained. I freeze. Insert anxiety here. And, to be honest, when you move somewhere like London, you find so many places that capture your attention, that you’d like to see, things you want to do and experience while you’re there, cities you’d like to explore, etc. that it can be a little overwhelming when you also factor in work and a new budding relationship. I’m also a bit of an idealistic overachiever and it’s hard for me, sometimes, to set realistic expectations for myself and then I end up getting let down and beating myself up over what I didn’t do rather than being SUPER pumped about everything that I did do. Jesus and I are working on this 😉 But anyway, I know that’s a bit selfish to want to do everything I want to do … but hey, I’m just being honest. There’s nothing wrong with that. None of us are perfect.
 Not finding a work / life balance – Alright. We’re about to really get to know each other now. Since I started my blog, I’ve been single and I’ve been completely happy with that relationship status. Maybe that’s why I’ve become a bit selfish as I’ve mentioned above? I’m used to doing what I want to do, what I need to do, etc. and, because of that, I think I’m worried that I won’t be good at nurturing such a BIG thing as my relationship with Ben.
I picked a word on New Year’s Eve this year that I wanted to make sure I focused on in 2016. The word was NURTURE. Here’s where it stems from ….
Since its birth, I have nurtured the crap out of Sequins & Things. I lived and breathed it. There were aspects of my life that I put on the back burner because I preferred to put my energy into this, instead. I’ve always been so passionate about styling & curating content for you all but, when you work for yourself, in social media, especially if you love what you do, you find that it’s hard to ‘clock out’ of work mode. Last year, I probably posted five or six blog posts a week on top of two to four Instagram’s a day. You may not realize it, but that’s a lot of content that took a lot of time to create and share with you all! At the end of the year, I was proud of what I had created but I felt really conflicted. I realized that I don’t want my blog to be the only thing I’m successful at nurturing, the only thing I’m proud of at the end of the year, the only thing I spend my time focusing on, and the only thing I find value in. I wanted my choices this year to be different. I wanted to take days off. I wanted to take better care of myself when I’m tired. I wanted to nurture my friendships more. I wanted to say yes to other things outside of work. I wanted to allow myself to open up to someone I like. The list goes on and on!
So, choosing the word ‘nurture’ was my way of making sure I didn’t forget about the OTHER THINGS in my life worth nurturing. It was my way of reminding myself to choose differently. It was my way of reminding myself that balance is important, that family is important, that my boyfriend is important, that rest is important, that capturing everything on social media isn’t always necessary or important, etc. And, the great thing is, I definitely think I’ve embraced nurturing other things the way I’ve wanted to this year. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was the guilt I feel at times when I’ve made those different choices. While I do want all of those aspects of my life to be nurtured, I still have those high expectations that I had before in regard to the blog and Instagram. So, if I’m honest, I’m still working on resetting those professional goals and expectations.
When I think about what I want to be the best at, being a well-rounded individual is the first thing that comes to mind. And, if I really do want that … I’m not ALWAYS going to be able to give as much of myself to the blog, which is something I will probably wrestle with for a little while and need to work on. My hope, while I’m in London, is that I will be able to nurture a solid work / life balance. I want Ben to see how passionate I am about the work that I do and content I get to create, but I never want him to feel like I always choose nurturing that over nurturing us. I definitely think it’ll take some figuring out on both of our parts, as I’m sure it has taken other bloggers’ and signifiant others’ time to figure out, as well.
Five Guilty Pleasures of Mine
Alright, we need to lighten things up a bit! Let’s dedicate the last category in today’s post to something NON-LONDON related. Y’all requested something pretty interesting a few weeks ago and I’ve been so excited to share this one with you. Who doesn’t love to indulge in one of their guilty pleasures? Some people love bubble baths, others love sunset bike rides, but me … I have a few serious guilty pleasures that y’all have asked me to disclose. When it comes to food, I am a sucker for a bag of Ruffle’s original potato chips. Do NOT leave me unattended with a bag of those things … I will eat the whole thing in under an hour. So much sodium. So bad for you … I know. I am also a lover of musicals. Put on the Hairspray or Newsies soundtrack and I will turn it up SO.FAST. and sing every word. Did anyone else dream of marrying Cowboy [i.e. Christian Bale] when they were little, like me? Ha 😉 I also never got over my love for Hanson. Yep. You read that correctly. Actually, there music AFTER Mmmbop was better than their big album in what, 1997? I have NEVER seen them in concert but it would be A DREAM of mine to see them. They are so talented. Judge away. I care not. But, seriously, listen to like “A Song To Sing”, “Save Me”, or “Strong Enough To Break”.
A couple of my other guilty pleasures are eyeshadow palettes and any pair of distressed denim jeans! I just recently got a couple of small eyeshadow palettes [linked below] to bring with me to London because I cannot, seriously, bring all of the makeup that I own and am used to having at my disposal and I felt like these were a good way of bringing quite a few colors in a small package. I’m also bring my original NAKED palette and the new one I got by Anastasia Beverly Hills that I’m obsessed with. I’m going to break the rules and give you a sixth guilty pleasure and that’s white tops. It’s out of control how many I have hanging in my closet and most of them look alike.
What are your guilty pleasures!? I want to know!
Well, that wraps up this edition of the FridayFive! Sorry it was posted so late! This week has been a doozy! But, as always, thanks for stopping by! xo.
OH! TWO MORE THINGS!  Last Saturday, I ran a secret giveaway through my newsletter and gave away a $150 Nordstrom gift card for anyone who is signed up & opened the newsletter! The winner has been emailed already, but be sure to subscribe to S&T updates in the top right corner of the main page to be clued in to those secret giveaways. I’ll be doing them from time to time and you’ll be able to keep up with some exclusive content I’ll be sharing in the newsletter while I’m over in London! 🙂 And  Happy National Lipstick Day! I’ve been loving nudes this year, and I’ll be posting three of my recent faves on Instagram here shortly but wanted to post the names and links of them here, in case you needed it and couldn’t tell which is which:  ‘Adrienne’,  ‘Fairest Nude’, and  ‘Give In’
Okay, now I’m gonna let y’all go! Enjoy your weekend! xo.