Trouble in Paradise- Tips for Traveling to Greece Signup

Troubles in Paradise

Sep 02, 2021

Trip Blog

Traveling to GREECE? Wanna ONE DAY go to Greece?

Then this is a MUST READ, full of lots of information to help you have a wonderful time, AND start your vacation with the right mindset.

I originally wrote THIS POST on April 7th 2021… It explains a little about how and why we decided to vacation in Greece.

I had a little breakdown a few weeks ago.. 

We have all of our kids home with us for another 5 months, and then 2 will be gone, and off to college. And just like that, our family of 5 will shrink down to 3. (I’m gonna start crying again just typing this…) 

 We were planning on focusing on our backyard this year (landscaping, pool needs resurfacing, new patio/deck, etc.).. But when I realized with everyone’s hectic schedules and new changes were right around the corner, I thought: “What’s the MOST important thing to focus on this year, with such a big shift looming?” BUILDING MEMORIES WITH OUR GIRLS BEFORE THEY LEAVE.

So Eddie and I decided to put the backyard on hold, and focus on creating a few more life-long memories with our family before the girls leave the nest. SO, we booked an EPIC TRIP for the 5 of us to GREECE! 

Why Greece?

This has been a dream destination for us for a while! Eddie really wanted to go for his 40th birthday, which was in 2020 (so Covid), but truth be told, we weren’t really financially ready for Greece in 2019 to book a 2020 dream trip for the whole family, and our kids would kill us if WE took a trip like this without them, so it honestly worked out for the better. AND, we were able to take Nana, Eddie’s mom (Kathy) with us too!

Throwback: Instead of Greece in 2020, we settled for a DRIVE-THROUGH celebration at The Cake Mamas for Eddie’s 40th birthday!


Fast forward through 2020… I’ve shared many times that The Cake Mamas had an amazingly successful 2020, despite the pandemic. I’m also VERY AWARE that that wasn’t the case for most businesses. But I can say that I poured into my students and showed up for them every single day/week to make sure we shared best practices, brainstormed together, adapted quickly to survive and DIDN’T STAY STUCK! Well, I’m happy to report that we all thrived during the pandemic! 

I attribute 100% our success during the such a crazy time to these 3 things:

    1. FLEXIBILITY - Our ability to pivot quickly. If you know anything about me, you KNOW that it takes me like 2 seconds to process a setback, and then I forge ahead. I don’t dwell on circumstances I can’t control, I don’t complain about unfortunate/challenging situations and I don’t ever let myself play the victim. A global pandemic was not going to stop us from working through a challenging year. 
    2. A SOLID SUPPORT SYSTEM. My friends and family that came through to help when my employees weren’t able to/willing to. Without volunteers, friends and family offering to help take orders, serve customers AND bake, none of this would’ve been possible.
    3.  LOYAL CUSTOMERS. Our amazing and supportive customers. Without our fans, followers and community supporting us and pushing us to be better each week, we would’ve closed our doors and waited things out. But they pushed us to still show up! Especially during key holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduation season! They wanted some normalcy, so we rose to the occasion! (Y’all really came through to support us!) 

Anyway, after what felt like simultaneously the fastest AND LONGEST year of my life, I decided that I wanted to retire for good. We had several buyers in line to purchase The Cake Mamas pre-Covid in February/March, but come August/September, all of them were too scared to move forward, so I liquidated everything, and got to hold on to all my intellectual property: My recipes, my email list, my my audience, etc. I then announced that I was working on a COOKBOOK! Because of course I wanna share the recipes my team and I took 12 years to develop and perfect! But, the cookbook had to take a backseat for a few months.

 Back to our trip to Greece. 

After many friends/family members in 2020 had health issues, I realized, life is way too short. It’s meant to be lived, and shared and enjoyed, so we reached out to our friend Brianna Glen, who is an amazing TRAVEL EXPERT and asked her to help us book the trip we could finally afford! 

Brianna is the owner/founder of Milk + Honey Travel. (Fun fact, she’s also a mother, wife and former Olympian!) She and her team do EVERYTHING you don’t wanna do when it comes to travel: Research options for EVERYTHING (flights, hotels, activities, transportation and all the other logistics) so that all you have to do is pack, and show up at the airport! (We worked with Brianna in 2018 on a trip to Thailand! She not only booked EVERYTHING for us, but she also arranged to have a cake delivered to my hotel room, along with a singing staff on my 40th birthday, AND booked a spa day for me without my husband even knowing! She takes care of all the tiny little details you would for sure overlook on your own! The point is, I HIGHLY recommend booking with her! 

Episode #105 of The PUSH Podcast is all about TRAVEL with Brianna! You should definitely go listen to her take on the importance of travel, and what keeps people from traveling. Listen HERE.

Anyway, when it came to booking travel arrangements this time for Greece, Brianna let us know that although travel to Greece was now possible, it was still going to be a challenge due to Covid and all the restrictions. 

We needed to be fully vaccinated. 

We needed to do a Covid test 72 hours prior to departure. 

We needed to fill out tons of paperwork and travel with all documents.

Check, check, and check! We were willing! 

So, after months of planning (on Brianna’s end, not mine), August had finally arrived! 

First issue: The week before our departure, British Airways pushed our flight from a 4pm departure to a 10:55pm departure. Originally we were scheduled to arrive the following day in Greece at 4pm, (Yes, it takes around 14 hours to get there!) but we were now scheduled to arrive around midnight, which means we would’ve missed out on like half of a day in Greece. So, we opted to change our flights to depart from LAX at 8am, in order to arrive at a more reasonable time to enjoy the evening in Greece. 

This was good because we were originally flying from LAX to LONDON, and the Heathrow airport was known for causing travel issues, even for passengers just traveling through London on a layover. London was the only reason we had to take a Covid test, and we were stressing out about not receiving our results in time because they were delayed. Well, we got the results back, but wound up not even needing them because the earlier flight had us flying from LAX to JFK, and then to Athens. So since we were NOT flying into London anymore, we no longer needed Covid tests. (Waste of time, and money, but who cares as long as it all works out.)

Now normally, Brianna would book ALL OF OUR TRAVEL, including airfare, but this time around, we wanted to use our Amex points to book our own flights. (This wound up being a huge mistake!) For roundtrip airfare for 6 people, booked 3 months ahead of time, it cost around $7k. (*Remember this for later.) With our Amex points, it cost us less than $500!

 With our new flights now being earlier, we made arrangements for Olivia, my assistant, to pick us up from our house at 5am, in order to drop us off at the airport by 5:45/ 6am, which gave us 2+ hours to check in and catch our 8am flight. We got there around 5:30am.

The first leg of our trip was with American Airlines to JFK, then we would transfer to British Airways to go from JFK to Athens. As soon as we got dropped off, things started to go sideways.  

Our flight numbers weren’t coming up on the self check-in kiosk, so we were told to go to customer service. When we did, the woman working there INSISTED that all passengers fill out a Passenger Locator Form, PLF before we were allowed to even approach the customer service desk. Even though, we didn’t NEED the PLF (based on travel guidelines) because we were only flying to JFK, she insisted ALL PASSENGERS fill them out right then, so we stepped aside and filled out 6 forms, (which were super complicated by the way and require the address of where you’re going, an emergency contact, your passport, vaccination dates, etc.). This created a huge crowd of frustrated passengers, not just us. After nearly an hour, we finally made it up to the counter, only to be told that we were cutting it short with less than an hour to board, so obviously the stress of not making the flight started to creep in.

 After about 15 more minutes of going back and forth, checking forms, passports, vaccination records, etc., the woman at the counter told us we were NOT scheduled for that flight. (WTH???) She said there was no sense in rushing because we weren’t even supposed to be on that flight. (Again, WTH??? 6 of us are standing in the airport, with 6 extra large suitcases, excited to go on vacation, and WE HAVE NO FLIGHTS BOOKED?!) We were so confused and had no clue what was happening.. But she asked us to step aside and work it out with American Express because she said it wasn’t properly booked. 

Remember when I told you we booked our airfare through American Express? Well, apparently AMEX works as a travel agent with the airline companies and missed a final step in changing our flights from the 4pm flight to London (which was now scheduled for 10:55pm), to the 8am flight to JFK. But we weren’t on EITHER of those flights! Which meant AMEX had cancelled our 10:55pm flights to London, and now we also didn’t have flights booked at 8am to JFK. So basically, we had been up at 4am and on the road since 5am and had NO FLIGHT booked AT ALLl to go to Greece! Oh and our ride left over an hour ago, so now we were stranded at the LAX airport, stuck with 6 extra large suitcases that wouldn’t fit in even an Uber XL! But where would we go anyway?!...

 We stepped outside and immediately called AMEX. After about 45 minutes of waiting to get through to an American Express representative, my husband tried explaining how THEY had missed a step in booking, and now had our entire trip in jeopardy!  They said they had to call British Airways to see what was going on, then put us on hold periodically FOR ANOTHER 1.5 hours before finally getting a hold of anyone. In the meantime, it was now like 9am, we had been there since 5:45, and I was like “WE ARE getting on a plane SOMEHOW today!” So we called around, booked a local hotel room, had a shuttle come pick us up from the airport so that we could get in a local/nearby hotel room to sort things out.  

 Brianna immediately researched alternative flight options for us, but oh by the way, it’s now nearly 10am! By this time, we’ve taken a shuttle to a nearby hotel, paid/checked into a $200 hotel room, sat down at a restaurant, ordered and ate an entire breakfast… All the while, my husband was standing at the hotel entrance ON HOLD with AMEX the entire time! He had missed breakfast and everything else because the service inside the hotel wasn’t good and every time he tried to walk a few feet inside, the call was disconnected! So, again, we took a shuttle from the airport, spent $200 on a room, $100 for a terrible breakfast, it was AFTER 10AM, and now, still had NO FLIGHTS BOOKED to actually GO ON VACATION! And Eddie was still on hold.

So what would you do if this happened to you? Be pissed? Yell and scream at whoever will listen? Well, none of that would’ve been helpful, so this is what we did...

We did what we thought would be best: We BOOKED a whole new roundtrip flight to get to Greece and back, so we could actually go on vacation that day. Now, a new round trip ticket (booked on the same day) cost us an additional $11,000! We booked it in hopes that when we came back, American Express would refund us for our original airfare cost (which was $7,000). We also hoped that they would reimburse us for the hotel, AND take care of the difference in price of the airfare because it was 100% their fault. *That’s still an open case that’s up in the air at this point. (But we’re hoping they do the right thing, so fingers crossed!)

After we decided on the new plan, Brianna quickly found a flight for us! We would need to go to get back to LAX asap, because we needed to check in for a flight to AMSTERDAM that left within the next few hours! (Now, the covid tests we stressed about not getting in time would definitely not be necessary. Oh well, at least we knew we were safe to travel. But this is a lesson that EVERYTHING ALWAYS WORKS OUT.)

We loaded into another shuttle, carrying our 6 extra large suitcases and 6 carry-ons and hurried back to the airport to make it onto our flight on time! YAY! We made it! 

We didn’t have seats together, because we took whatever was available, and trust us, we were just HAPPY to be on a plane going on vacation, so we were totally fine with that! But a 10.5 hour flight next to strangers when you’re trying to sleep is not necessarily the funnest thing...

Well, we made it safely, thank God! Look how tired and crazy I look! 

Although we made it to Athens, it definitely wasn't’ smooth sailing from there! Brace yourself… It gets messy!

So messy in fact, that we recorded a 3-part podcast that came out on Tuesday, August 17th with all the details of each challenge we faced on our 10 day excursion! Instagram vs. Reality is a PERFECT title for our  GREECE GONE WRONG chronicles! (Parts 1-3) Click here to listen! 

From rental cars, to epipens and desert storms, all the crazy details are in those episodes!

In the meantime, here’s a list of some helpful tips that we learned the HARD WAY:

  1. Covid testing is tricky
    1. Factor in TIME CHANGES and do a little math. If the UK requires a test completed within 72 hours of travel, but it takes you 10.5 hours to get there, and 2 days to get the test results, you’ll have to get creative with your test time and do some math to keep it within the 72 hour window.
    2. There are 2 different types of COVID tests: PCR and ANTIGEN. PCR is what’s required by most airlines, but ANTIGEN tests are becoming more acceptable, *IF they’re a certain percentage, so be sure to check the requirements.
    3. Most airports offer on-site testing, but it’s gonna cost you.
    4. There are usually delays.. So don’t freak out if the results take longer than expected. Everyone’s trying to do the best they can, and NO ONE is deliberately trying to ruin your vacation. 
    5. If leaving the country, you’ll most likely need a negative Covid test to  return. There are several companies/clinics that will come directly to your hotel to test you. In fact, our nurse came and met us ON THE BEACH!
  2. There are tons of forms to fill out. 
    1. Personal Locator Form is one of them, but check with your airline for additional requirements and try to complete everything beforehand.
  3. Allow at least 3 hours for international travel. These are uncertain times, and things are changing by the minute, so don’t complain about it or be angry with the workers. They are adapting to new changes daily. (And dealing with angry, unruly passengers who usually fail to follow proper instructions.)
  4. You’ll most likely need to check in to your flight AT the airport. Online check in has not been happening lately because the airlines are requiring so many things to fly. Most require in person checkin in order to validate all the requirements were met. So don’t freak out if you can’t checkin from your app the night before.
  5. Always consider a backup plan. I call this fear-casting.  
    1. When I asked my neighbor to watch my house, I gave him keys, codes and everything he needed to check the house daily and thoroughly. I also told him that if a pipe busted, or the house caught on fire, to hire whoever he needed to get it fixed. Obviously he knew I would pay him back, but if I was all the way across the world, there would be absolutely NOTHING I could do if my house flooded or caught on fire. So plan/prepare for the worst, just in case. 
    2. Reserve funds are always recommended when traveling. If you listened to any of the podcasts, you’d know that we had to spend an extra $11,000 on same day airfare just to get out of the country! And another $400 Euros for an additional rental car. These charges suck, but you wanna be prepared for some unexpected expenses so that you don’t fall apart over a last minute decision.

6. Planes are usually cold, so bring your own pillow and blanket and dress comfortably. It’s better to take things off, than to be cold for 10.5 hours! 

7. If you’re traveling with someone who has dietary restrictions, try to work those details out with the airline ahead of time. My mother-in-law is a vegan. Luckily they had extra salads on the plane to offer her. 

8. When you arrive wherever you’re going, GET YOURSELF ADJUSTED TO THEIR TIME ZONE ASAP. When we arrived in Athens, it was around 4pm.. We stayed up, (no coffee), and went to bed when it was time to sleep for the night in Athens. Even if you don’t sleep on the plane, try to adjust upon arrival.

1. On the way back, do the math… I knew when we arrived back in LA, it would be night time.. If I slept for 14 hours on the plane ride home, I would NOT be able to sleep at night when I got home. So, I stayed up, (as delirious as I was), but slept a full 10 hours that night in my own bed, and it was amazing! 

2. Also, plan to take at least 3 days off to adjust and get your body re-acclimated to your returning time zone. We learned this the hard way: When we came back from Thailand a few years ago, we jumped right back into normal life, and ALL OF US GOT SUPER SICK! A few of us wound up in the hospital and it wound up taking us weeks to get back to normal, so trust me, take a few extra days off. 

9. Go to your regular bank at least 10 days prior to leaving for your trip and order money for a currency exchange. You’ll avoid any fees you might incur out of country. 

10. When traveling abroad, be open-minded to new customs: Taking your time to move slower and enjoy a meal, vs. how you normally do things is part of the experience. We’re used to a fast-paced LA life. Which often means eating on the go, or ordering everything all at once, AND asking for the check in the same swoop. It can be super disrespectful to NOT try to understand how things work wherever you’re visiting. Europeans take time for coffee. A meal is a 4 hour ordeal.. They looked at us like we were crazy for eating and paying in 1.5 hours. So learn the customs!

11. Ask lots of questions and make new friends! You’d be surprised how much great insight you’ll get from the locals! We couldn’t wait to visit Santorini, but it turns out, several local Greeks recommended way better islands with spectacular views and beaches! We made notes for future trips too!

12. Download Google Translator for sure! We had no idea how to get to the train station.. Everyone we asked for directions answered us in Greek (which was their language, duh!) Figure out the street signs, they were located on the buildings, not on corner street poles! LOL

13. PACK LIGHTER than you think you need to! Trust us, you’ll see tons of cool things you’ll want to buy, and then your suitcase will be full of unnecessary clothes you’ll wind up never wearing! So pack light and leave room for souvenirs and new clothing options while you’re there! 

I took a poll on my Instagram stories prior to leaving, but I definitely didn’t listen to any of the tips!🙈😆 

14. Stay away from CHEAP LUGGAGE! I went to Downtown LA to purchase 6 suitcases! Although it was super affordable, after the first flight, 2 of the 6 suitcases were broken!🙈 By the end of the trip all 6 of the 6 were destroyed! Luggage is an investment for sure… But if you plan on taking additional trips, definitely avoid the cheap stuff! #LessonLearned

Here are some recommendations for some GOOD pieces of luggage:


15. If you’re traveling with someone who has a food allergy like our daughter Jordan, who is allergic to NUTS & SEAFOOD, figure out how to say “I am allergic to NUTS & SEAFOOD” in their language! Then they’ll be able to help steer you away from things you can’t eat. (But always travel with Benadryl and a few Epipens! We definitely learned the hard way to stay away from maple syrup and ALL CHOCOLATE (which was really NUTELLA!) YES, Jordan had a major reaction to a “chocolate” croissant and we had to use the Epipen! (Thank God we didn’t wind up in an emergency room in another country!)

16. Call to DOUBLE CHECK all your travel… Ferries, flights, etc. When we called about our ferry, (to go from one island to the next), we discovered ALL THE FERRIES had been cancelled for the entire day! Imagine checking out of your hotel, taking a 30 minute cab ride all the way to an empty port?! CALL AHEAD, it happened to us!

17. Treat yourself when possible and upgrade to VIP. The ferry ride upgrade was an awesome surprise! And it probably cost like an extra $20 per passenger! Our girls felt so special, and the seats were WAAAYYYY more comfortable in VIP! (But hey, we’ve budget traveled MANY TIMES before, so if this is out of the question, just focus on getting there! LOL) 

18. Stock up on NON-DROWSY Dramamine! We had regular Dramamine, and it knocked everyone out for hours! Like SLOPPY-DRUNK-DROWSY! And then took hours to shake off, along with tons of espresso! So get NON-DROWSY!

19. Pay attention to the customs and how they do things there… The FERRY ride for us was so completely mesmerizing to watch! Everyone moved so quickly and efficiently! We could never pull that many stops off in California without killing people! They were loading and unloading passengers AND commercial vehicles/big rigs off at the same time! It was incredible, but you had to pay attention and MOVE YOUR ASS!  

HUNDREDS of passengers walked off the ferry, at the same time as the cars and big rigs! This is a shot after most passengers had already departed. Why? Because there was too much craziness going on with everyone walking down the ramps, carrying luggage and trying to leave in between the cars and trucks! 

20. When you rent a 6 passenger vehicle for 6 traveling passengers with luggage, ASK ABOUT THE CARGO SPACE! Turns out, we needed a 9 passenger van in order to accommodate 6 passengers AND 6 suitcases! Even though we rented a 6 passenger van, we had to take a separate taxi as well. And also rent an additional vehicle (on another island when no taxis were around), so plan ahead to save on last minute, unexpected expenses! 

Me, Nana and Jordan in the car ride during the ONE TIME we had a 9 passenger van. We still didn’t have much room with all the luggage, carry ons and the 6 of us!

21. Look into watersports ahead of time. Some places require bookings ahead of time. Side note: On Naxos, there were HUNDREDS of kitesurfers! It was incredible to watch! So naturally, the kids wanted to KITESURF. We promised we’d take them, but we had no idea you needed 10 hours of training BEFORE you could even get into the ocean with a board! You also need a special license to rent scooters, so know that not everything is designed to be a 30 minute tourist attraction.

22. Triple check your itinerary. Later in the trip, we got a call from Brianna saying that we MISSED our scheduled activity. A COOKING CLASS with one of the most amazing chefs on the island! Of course we still had to pay for it, because it was our fault. But there was no availability to reschedule because they were fully booked. Bummer. Especially because ALL of the food we ate in Greece was incredible! 

23. Get reservations from your concierge or someone who speaks the local language. We asked for restaurant recommendations and they were able to squeeze us in for reservations on more than one occasion because THEY CALLED for us, not us! Each suggestion was amazing!!!  

A few TOP restaurants we really enjoyed were: 

Nomad in Naxos, on Plaka beach, was incredible!

Definitely go check out my IG stories (click on my Naxos highlight reels) to see how beautiful the restaurant and food was. 

Forty One 41 in Santorini, on Agios Georgios beach was sooo good we ate there twice! Once for lunch, and the following night for dinner!

Seaside in Santorini was one of my favorites! Everything was delicious, the beach view was fantastic and the staff was incredible! 

One of the MOST INCREDIBLE VIEWS I’ve ever seen in my life was at a restaurant in Santorini called Mylos Bar Restaurant, in Thira. It overlooked the ENTIRE COAST and it felt like you were literally dining in the air!

This picture does it NO JUSTICE, but you can view more here:

24. PAYING YOUR TAB at any restaurant is interesting. Again, people in Greece want to take their time. Remember when I said their custom is to leisurely enjoy a meal?.. Well, they were surprised, and almost annoyed each time we asked for the check because it seemed like we were speeding through the experience. I’m not sure about you, but once we eat, have drinks and talk for like 2 hours max, I’m ready to go. But definitely be aware of the customers and respect their culture. 

25. Be prepared for the unexpected. I can not say this enough. We experienced two nights of POWER OUTAGES. Why? Well because there were rolling blackouts due to heat waves that were going on when we were there. Apparently, as our luck would have it, the week we were there, there was RECORD BREAKING HIGHS that hadn’t been seen in over 40 years! So when the power outages occurred (2 of the 3 nights we stayed in Naxos), we didn’t complain. Instead, we went out for dinner, and enjoyed the pool outside until the power came back on. 

26. Also be prepared for your itinerary to be altered. Our sunset boat cruise was cancelled the afternoon we were set to sail. Although we were super disappointed, (because THIS was the one experience EVERYONE kept raving about), we had a near death experience in Thailand a few years ago where they SHOULD HAVE cancelled our day trip cruise due to weather/winds, but they didn’t. That resulted in us almost losing our lives (in a Gilligan’s Island kinda way)! With that experience under our belt, we were THANKFUL that they cancelled due to the winds! LOL

27. When you can, take advice from the locals. When it was time for us to leave Naxos to head to Santorini, a few locals we met at the beach called Santorini “The DEATH STONE of Greece”. A man we met said it was beautiful, but WAY TOO HOT! “It’s literally A VOLCANO!” He said, “When people die, we jokingly say ‘He’s gone to Santorini!’ You should go to Crete, it’s much better.” Good to know. Thank you Sir. Oh, and Ionian Island was highly recommended too!

28. REMEMBER: Change is to be expected. Our day trip to Paros was also cancelled due to a Covid outbreak. Again, THANK YOU, on to the next. 

29. Upon arrival in Santorini, we realized our new Greek friend was right. It was even hotter on the “Death Stone”! And after looking for our names on the cards that were being held up by drivers receiving passengers at the ferry port, our driver was nowhere to be found. After about 10 mins he arrived late, with another rental van that would yet again, NOT fit all six of us and our luggage. We were SOAKING WET in sweat! And this is when my RASH started. HEAT RASH is a real thing, so bring BENADRYL!

30. Now, on the ports, there are taxis and transports to hotels and resorts. But once the boats leave, and all the passengers are on their way, there is no need for taxis or rental car companies to be open/present. EVERYTHING cleared out in like 15 mins! So now we have a rental car that we don’t fit in, and all the taxis are gone. If you arrive via ferry, have your transport taken care ahead of time.. There is literally NO TIME to shop around for options! 

31. Beware of Google Maps and Apple Maps being different and leading you astray. Using Google Maps, Eddie got lost, because the road to our villa was not a real road. But Apple Maps got me there NO PROBLEM! Good to double check both options if possible. There are lots of small, unpaved, dirt-roads that aren’t on some of the maps.

32. I DO NOT recommend staying in the HEART of Santorini, which is Oia, where you see all the beautiful pictures of the blue domed buildings. It’s congested, over-populated, busy at all hours of the day with tourists, and you will have NO PRIVACY because everything is literally built on top of each other! Although I wanted to be in the heart of it all, Brianna suggested we stay in Vlychada, at the Aegean Melody Suites. It was the BEST decision of the whole trip! Two jacuzzi’s, 2 stories, plus a rooftop patio.. It was incredible and I can’t recommend it enough! you can see how beautiful it is here : , and get an actual tour by going to my Instagram highlight reels. 

Eddie on our rooftop enjoying the view. 

My mother in law enjoyed breakfast on the roof! Who wouldn’t love this view every morning!?

The view from our property, downstairs on the first floor. 

By far, the BEST THING I booked for this trip was a professional photographer for a family photo shoot in Santorini! Best money spent. I was tired of being that annoying mom with my teenageers asking them to pose for pictures, so thankfully, George, our photographer got them to happily participate and follow instructions long enough to capture some AMAZING IMAGES for us! Following George’s commands, we were immediately crossing under restricted areas and standing on the ROOFS of buildings that could have had us fall to our death. But hey, we did what he told us to do, and the photos came out amazing!!!! 

The next day we went horseback riding. You’ll have to listen to the entire podcast, but we definitely had a little accident while driving to go horseback riding. Our car sucked. Had no power. Had an auto-restart, kept skidding into the rocks… Definitely worth the listen!  

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:

 Oh, and the 2 hour horseback riding tour turned into a 4-hour major TORNADO WINDSTORM in the middle of that Sahara Desert! Winds were crazy, sand and volcanic ash was blowing into our eyes.. But we had a blast! LOL

Word to the wise: You’ll need reservations for dinner everywhere! Be sure to work with someone who can make all that happen for you! 


Some final thoughts….

  1. Be sure to bring your own pillow and blanket when traveling on the plane. Bring a lighter change of clothes to change into if possible, when traveling to a sweltering HOT destination!
  2. You’ll need to plan for Covid testing in order to get back home. Again, be sure to look into all of this BEFORE traveling and booking everything! 
  3. Lastly, when we arrived back home to LAX, my oldest daughter Jasmyn’s luggage was nowhere to be found. Everyone else’s luggage managed to come down the conveyor belt, except hers (and about 15 others). The airlines somehow left it in Athens. But assured us they would have it delivered (free of charge) to our house the following day. They did, thank God! But don’t freak out if you get unlucky and your luggage gets misplaced. The airlines/airports are literally handling THOUSANDS of traveler’s bags… Seems highly probable that a few would be lost or wind up on the wrong flight, so be graceful and understanding in the event something happens to yours!


In closing...

We met the coolest people!

Remember when I said to MAKE NEW FRIENDS???... We met some amazing people we hope to keep in touch with! 

Lauren and Nick - A teacher and a civil engineer who were newlyweds, honeymooning in Santorini. We met them at Mylos Bar Restaurant.

Peter and Julie - a couple that climbed the Acropolis in Athens with us, that we later wound up running into again in Naxos! They came over to our cabana at the beach in Naxos, knew us all by first name, and spent some time with us! They were great! 

Leon and Sarah Henderson - Honeymooners, expecting their first child in a few months.

Nai-Ima and Joe and their 16 year old son Jaden - who live in Brooklyn. It was their 3rd time in Greece, so they gave us tons of recommendations and we plan on meeting up with them again in NY soon! 

Carlee and John -  who were brave enough to travel with their little 2-year old son Johnny. They were also expecting baby #2! 

This trip was NO DOUBT amazing! But it was full of unexpected twists and turns! 

The Highlight: The most AMAZING, breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. No matter where you went, the sites were unbelievable!

Even little coffee shops had the BEST VIEWS! Oftentimes, we stopped and bought something small, just to be able to take a picture there or enjoy their patio/view.

Breakfast spot with this amazing view!

The views...


We didn’t plan on shopping, (but it’s always a great idea to bring a list of people you need to buy souvenirs for). There were such cute shops, with super reasonable prices, that I wish I would’ve left HALF of my clothes at home and just bought all the cute stuff in Greece! So I guess that’s another lesson: We often go shopping, to GO ON VACATION.. New bathing suits, dresses, shoes, etc. It’s a dream of mine to hop on a flight with only my ESSENTIALS, and then just shop locally for all the things I’ll wear while there! And guess what!.. I would've saved so much money too, because again, we didn’t wear half of the stuff we packed! LOL 

Eddie shopped for BOOKS! We found some cute little bookstores in the different villages! 


  1. I wanted super comfy sandals that I wouldn’t be complaining about hurting my feet.. I shopped high and low, until I found these Crocs! I ordered them, and then returned everything else I purchased! I bought the black, tan and white Crocs Women's Tulum Sandals. But I only needed the tan ones! Get yours here! 
  2. Packing cubes: Although I ordered them AFTER we returned from our trip, I will for sure be using them for future travels!
  3. My oldest daughter got these pillow slippers and wore them everywhere! She said they were super comfortable and she loved them!
  4. A FANNY PACK! I love my little Lululemon fanny pack, but obvi any brand will work! You just don’t want to be fussing with a purse! Trust me: HANDSFREE is always the best option!
  5. Travel pillow and blanket! Here’s mine!


So, now it’s your turn!

Did you learn anything helpful? Do you have any questions?

Where have you traveled or made life-long memories with your loved ones? Doesn’t matter how far or near, budget-friendly or extravagant, I wanna hear about all the great spots! 

Let me know what your thoughts are! AND please share YOUR travel wins and nightmares with me below! What challenges have you faced while traveling? Lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc.? How did you react or overcome those challenges? 

Don’t have any? Well then let me know where you plan on traveling next, I’m always excited to watch other people on their vacations! (Am I alone? lol)

I can’t wait to hear from you friends! 

Xoxo, Janelle


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