Ellen looking over Dresden, Germany from the bell tower of Kreuzkirche Cathedral, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

My Pre-Travel Checklists

I started jotting down these checklists about a month ago, from my bedroom in Lancaster, PA… travel-sized toiletry containers and lightweight clothes strewn around the room, and vaccination appointments up & coming.  Typically, I send personalized pre-travel checklists to clients depending on their destination & travel style, and I have realized it could be helpful to both myself & other travelers to just make one all-encompassing list. Something to breeze through before any & all …

Ellen on Palm Beach of Aruba for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

Top 7 Things To Do in Aruba

Right off the coast of mainland South America you’ll find a string of southernmost Caribbean islands. They’re known as the “ABC Islands:” Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Although these vacation destinations are a stone’s throw from Venezuela, they are in fact part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the same goes for Sint Maarten). Each is its own country, but they do not have full autonomy on the global stage, which can be a bit confusing to understand. It makes …

The path to Mai Pokhari in eastern Nepal near Ilam for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

Food Poisoning, a Strike, & a Motorcycle Ride in Nepal

Ever since I had set foot off the airplane in Kathmandu, everyone had been warning me about the water. Don’t drink it, don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables washed with it, don’t even brush your teeth with it. This was vaguely stressful at first, but soon became second nature. By the time I got home four months later, it felt strange to brush my teeth from the faucet. First impressions of the Kathmandu Valley… and …

Ellen feeding flamingos at Flamingo Beach of Aruba's private island, Renaissance Island for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

Aruba’s Private Island: Flamingo Beach

Aruba has so much to offer — it stands apart from other Caribbean islands with its unique desert landscapes; all beaches are public & to be enjoyed by all people; and its Arikok National Park offers alluring coastal hikes. There are some moments from Aruba that stick in my mind like salty ocean air. The sun bleeding over the horizon during a Mount Hooiberg sunrise. Discovering starfish, sea urchins, & endless tropical fish while snorkeling …

Ponta da Piedade on the Algarve coast of Southern Portugal, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

4 Stunning Beaches in Southern Portugal

I arrived in Portugal with a lot of expectations… my mind ran wild with anticipation of sandstone coastal cliffs awaiting my encounter. The streets would be narrow and winding, with hills steeper than San Francisco. Restaurant tables spilling precariously into cobblestone streets, with port wine as cheap as water. I couldn’t stop scouring Instagram and Google Images with searches of the Algarve coast. One of countless stunning spots along Portugal’s stunning southern coast, known as …

Ellen posing and laughing at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

Why I’m Glad My Flight was Cancelled

The more I think about it, I really can’t overstate how lucky it was that my European flight was cancelled.  When You Find Out Your Flight is Cancelled My boyfriend and I had been on a month-long European exploration, and were set to return home from Portugal with a layover in Paris, before returning to New York. It felt bittersweet for such a grand adventure to come to an end… but then again I did need clean socks. I …

Kirkjufell Mountain in Iceland, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

8 Places in Iceland that are a Photographer’s Dream

I recently road-tripped around Iceland for about a week, and it was unlike anything else I’ve ever done. It’s hard to believe until you see it for yourself, but as you drive down the highway in Iceland, literally everywhere you look there is a new fascinating, breath-taking sight. Another mountain, a 100-ft waterfall, lava fields, moss-covered gorges. Nevermind the impossible-to-pronounce names or ever-present sulfur smell in geothermal areas… Iceland is 100% worth the visit. **It’s …

Hiking at the Matterhorn from Zermatt, Switzerland, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

The Swiss Alps: A Day at The Matterhorn

It began with a cloudy afternoon, months back, spent flipping through European vacation guide books in Barns & Noble… One particular photo caught our eye: the isolated, striking rocky pyramid rising through the sky that is The Matterhorn. Even just the name is enough to leave you intrigued. The Matterhorn is a classic peak — one perfectly shaped mountain sitting proudly among the Swiss Alps. It reaches 4,478 m (14,692 ft), and does not disappoint.  …

Hiking near Seneca Lake at Watkins Glen State Park, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom
United States

Top 4 Things To Do at the Finger Lakes

Oddly enough, the first time I heard of the Finger Lakes was in high school watching an SNL skit – The Lawrence Welk Show, starring Kristen Wiig (you can watch one of the skits here… random, I know). That video certainly didn’t teach me much about the lakes of upstate New York, and if it would have, I imagine it would have made me think it too strange a place to visit. Fast forward maybe 8 …

Me at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, for Ellen Blazer's travel blog To Travel and Bloom

Balancing Work & Play

I joined the corporate workforce full-time a year after college. I was working about 45 hours/week with an hour commute every day, as an environmental consultant. As I had neared the end of college and felt pressure set in to choose a livelihood, I had landed on environmental consulting as my dream job. So I was of course excited to finally get an offer letter! This 8-5 lifestyle was one I had seen all around …