Travel Log: Liverpool, UK


Continuing our travel posts! I can't believe it's already been two weeks since we came back. It  was so nice not cooking or cleaning or, well just dealing with all of life for a bit ;)

I've only been to Europe once before, and that was in college for an 11-day January term trip with a class to Greece. Jordan has never been to another continent before. We liked the idea of going to England because we knew it was going to be relatively familiar to us at least as far as the language and general customs. We were definitely going to spend a few days in London during the trip, but we also wanted to travel to a couple different places around England.

Liverpool was Jordan's must-go #1 destination because he's a big fan of their football (soccer) team, and we either wanted to try to see a game or do an Anfield Stadium tour. So Liverpool was the first location we officially booked (and it was honestly what finally sold Jordan on the idea of actually doing the trip!). We were in Liverpool for 2 days and 2 nights and stayed in this Air Bnb. (If you have never used Air BnB before, you can use my referral link and get $40 off your first trip. I've now used Air BnB six separate times and had great experiences for all!)

You may have heard of Liverpool because it's the home of The Beatles. There was a carpool karaoke with Paul McCartney where they drove around Liverpool! You can watch it on YouTube, and if you skip ahead to 15:42, they go into the pub where Jordan and I ate dinner our first night (Sunday).
We flew into London (Gatwick) Sunday morning and immediately took a train from the airport to the main London Victoria station. From there we both bought an Oyster card and took the underground to another train station, which took us to Liverpool Lime Street Station (roughly a 2-hour train ride; Liverpool is to the north west of London). I ended up sitting next to a guy who was from Liverpool and worked in administration at one of the universities. He was super nice and suggested a few places to eat and things to do.

We didn't end up doing anything Beatles related, although there are a ton of different tour buses and suggestions for Beatles things in all the Liverpool guide books we read. The train that was taking us to Liverpool was delayed an hour or so, but we finally got there around 3:30 in the afternoon. After dropping our backpacks off in our Air Bnb, we headed out for dinner (to the place pictured two pictures up). Then we wandered around for a little bit, but mostly we were super tired from our travels and ended up falling asleep while watching the first Harry Potter movie around 8:30, despite our best efforts to stay awake until a reasonable hour.

Monday was a full day in Liverpool. We took a 9:00am tour bus to Anfield Stadium for a 10:00 tour. They also a Liverpool football museum inside, so we went through that after the tour. Jordan time in the gift shop, and then we stayed and ate lunch at the stadium restaurant. Our tour guide was engaging and funny, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Neither of us have ever taken a stadium tour of any kind! It was cool to see the home and away locker rooms, the press room, and actually go down onto the field (though we couldn't step on the grass!). Jordan loved it so much and couldn't stop smiling the whole time. Definitely a highlight moment.

Our bus took us back to the Albert Docks, which is a main tourist area with a huge shopping mall and a few different museums (all free except the Beatles Museum because it's privately owned). 

One thing we (or, at least I) didn't know about Liverpool is how much history is there. Of course, anywhere in Europe has a ton of history compared to the US, but Liverpool specifically has an important history because it used to be a main trade and migration port in the 18th-20th centuries. It is closely tied to both the Titanic and Lusitania ships from the White Star Line, both of which tragically sank to a large loss of life. 

The Lusitania was traveling from New York to Liverpool. The Titanic registered Liverpool as its home port. A majority of the crew of both ships were from Liverpool, and Liverpool's Maritime Museum has a large exhibit about each disaster. It was really cool to see one (of only 2) salvaged propellers of the Lusitania. The other is, interestingly enough, in Dallas! I need to go see it some time I'm down there and then I'll have seen the only two in the world. Kind of neat! (There were four, but one is down with the ship and one was melted and reused.)

One thing we found interesting about the three towns we visited in England was that everything closed really early. By 4:30 or 5:00 coffee shops and museums and stores and even restaurants were shutting down for the day. We were like, do people here not go out in the evenings? We were literally in the Liverpool Museum until the very last second, and then we had some time to kill before it was time to find somewhere to eat dinner, so we wandered around the docks and the shopping area. It was starting to get a bit chilly outside but overall beautiful weather really the entire week and a half we were there.
Eventually we started walking back in the direction of our air bnb and figured we'd find a place to eat along the way. We ended up stopping at a pub and got a pizza and some drinks. We aren't big drinkers by any means, but Jordan enjoyed trying out a local beer, and I tried out a cider. A friend who recently went to England recommend ciders in a pub if I don't like beer (which I don't). 

Eating at pubs was probably one of our favorite things about England, and we tried to do it as often as we could find somewhere to go. They serve great food that is inexpensive, and it's a pretty chill atmosphere, which we enjoyed. It's so different than a restaurant in the States. At most of them you find your own table and then go up and order food and drinks at the bar. Someone brings your food out to you, but otherwise there is no actual wait service, so you don't leave a tip. No one comes to check on you during your meal except maybe to swing by quickly and ask, "You ok?" Depending on the pub, you also pay when you order, so when you're finished you can just leave. We absolutely loved it!
The next day was Tuesday! We got all packed up and headed to the train station for our next adventure in York. We were sad to leave Liverpool and could have spent another day or two there, but we were also excited to explore somewhere else.

I combined our Liverpool and York travel videos into one and embedded it below! Hope you enjoy! It's always fun to make these. I'll be back with pictures and stories from York later. It was definitely an amazing place to visit. If you can't see the video, you can also click here.

Any questions about Liverpool or about our trip so far?
Feel free to leave them in the comments! :)

Liverpool and York from Amanda Bumgarner on Vimeo.

Packing: 11 Days in a Backpack


I love it when someone goes on vacation and then comes back and blogs something like "Definitive How-To For [insert thing here]" as if they suddenly became an expert on this one aspect of travel or one specific location after doing it for the very first time.

So I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about packing light for carrying all your clothes and other stuff in a backpack for 11 days. Because I definitely could have packed even lighter! Also Jordan carried my toiletry bag in his backpack (and complained about it the entire week, but we won't talk about that). But I am super impressed with myself for how I packed and wanted to share in case anyone else feels inspired to take a rolling suitcase-less vacation ;) Below is everything I brought to England, including the clothes I wore during travel, all pictured above (and below)!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. I receive a few cents (literally, cents) when you click on a link, at no cost to you! Thanks for supporting my writing and my blog.

1. Outerwear
1 medium-weight Columbia jacket
1 lightly padded black full-zip vest from Old Navy
-1 cold-gear Nike half-zip hoodie

We went at a good time of year, meaning that it was in the 50s/60s mainly, with some parts of the day in the low 70s as the sun rose. We didn't need heavy coats, but I did take my Columbia jacket that I bought at the outlet mall near us a few years ago and layered long sleeves underneath.

2. Bottoms
-1 pair of regular blue jeans
-1 pair of black jeans
-1 pair of sweatpants for the airplane ride/sleeping in
-1 pair of comfy shorts for sleeping in

I didn't need anything else and used everything I brought! Perfect! I loved having one pair of blue jeans and one pair of black jeans so I could feel like I was switching up my look a bit. Plus the skinny black jeans felt more European to me ;)

3. Gallon Ziploc Bags
-1 for underwear/bras
-1 for socks

I squeezed the air out of each bag, and they were a compact way to keep things together. As the trip went on and things got dirty, I used one bag for dirty stuff and one bag for clean!

This was my birthday present to myself this year in preparation for our England trip. It's from LL Bean (love them!) has a hood that fully covers my face, lots of pockets, is fully waterproof, and (most importantly) folds up into itself. We didn't actually even take these out the entire time we were gone, which was crazy since I feel like England is known for being wet. But it was good to have them and nice they packed up so small.

5. Shoes
-2 pairs of walking shoes

I brought 2 pairs of walking shoes because I wanted to be able to switch out a pair every other day or so. A surprise favorite were these sneakers, which I brought more because they were cuter than my Brooks running shoes, but actually they help up so well and were super comfortable even after an entire day of walking! I have to give thanks to Rachel for first sharing about these on her blog. I could have gone the whole trip with just this pair, honestly.

-1 pair of Old Navy flip flops (I thought I might want these for walking around the hotel/air bnb at night. I ended up never taking these out of the backpack! But it was good to have them just in case.)

-1 pair of flats (*I didn't need these at all, but my thought was that maybe we would go somewhere nice and I wouldn't want to wear my grungy tennis shoes. I momentarily forgot we are neither fancy nor extravagant dinner people lol)

6. Extras
-1 flowery lightweight scarf
-1 medium-weight solid teal scarf
-1 headwrap (goes around your head like earmuffs)
-1 pair of lightweight gloves (didn't end up wearing at all)

I absolutely needed my scarves and am glad I brought them. I wanted two so I could mix it up with my outfit. Plus the weight of each was a bit different, so I could pick which I needed depending on the temperature outside.

7. Layering Tops
-1 brown sweater from J Crew* (side note: this came in my most recent Stitch Fix box. I requested something to wear on our Europe trip, and it was perfect. It looks like it's on sale right now too, sooooo... I might be buying one in another color.)
-1 green long-sleeved cardigan from Target
-1 purple half-button long-sleeved henley from Old Navy
-1 lightweight denim button-down

8. Sleeping Tops
-So actually, the very first thing pictured under #8 are my pink/orange sleeping shorts.
-1 longsleeved shirt (for sleeping)

-2 short-sleeved t-shirts (for sleeping) *really only needed 1 t-shirt

9. Comfy but Cute Tops
-2 tank tops (Do not even talk to me about any other tank tops. These are the best. Yes, they are maternity. I bought some when I was pregnant with R and have literally not bought any other layering tank since. I'm wearing one right now, in fact.)
-2 solid short-sleeved shirts (cuter than your average t-shirt but comfy for travel and layering!)

So that's it! Plus my toiletry bag, which was in Jordan's backpack as previously mentioned. 

Is anyone still with me? Is this the most boring blog post of all time? 
No, don't answer that.

But I have learned that you can pack light if you need, and in fact I could have packed lighter! It's all fun and games until you are literally carrying everything on your back ;)

What would you have packed differently than me?

Travel Log: Boston, Massachusetts


I am completely overwhelmed at the thought of recapping our trip because there's so much to say and so many photos, so I figure I should probably just dive on in. 

We officially booked this trip back in March, but we've been talking about a trip to Europe for 4 or 5 years, mostly as a "wouldn't that be fun" kind of thing. Then last year around Christmas, we were thinking about what we wanted to do in 2018, and we decided the timing was pretty good for a fall vacation based on the ages of the kids and a gap before we might try for Baby Bum #3 and just the fact that we should just finally go ahead and do it while we could!

I honestly felt self-conscious even talking about our trip to anyone for a few reasons, but one of them was because I've read enough comments on blog posts and articles about working motherhood to know that a lot of people think families with two working parents have a lot of money and choose to work so they can have extra funds for fancy things. Every time I mentioned we were going to Europe, I wanted to follow it with, we aren't swimming in money. this is very unusual for us. we have never done anything like this before. But people will think what they want, I suppose, so that's neither here nor there. We saved for this trip just like we save for any other trip, which I talked about at length in this blog post if you're interested!

We decided to borrow backpacks from friends of ours who have traveled to Europe a few times. Since we were going to be moving around to a few locations in England and getting on and off trains, we wanted to pack as light as we could and liked the idea of being able to carry our stuff rather than pull a suitcase around. It ended up being the absolute perfect decision, and I am so glad we did it! I am also super impressed with myself that I was able to pack for 11 days of travel in just one backpack that I carried!

Of the two of us, I'm the one who plans our trips, books our flights and places to stay, and researches things to do and places to eat. Of course, I talk to Jordan about it before I confirm payment, but in general I make all of those types of decisions (because he doesn't really care and I kind of do care haha!). After looking at flight prices along with times and dates that might work with our work schedules, I decided that it would be the cheapest to catch a flight out of the Dallas airport to somewhere on the East Coast and then take a direct flight to London. That's how we ended up with a mini "trip within a trip" by spending a day and half in Boston before we flew to the UK! We drove from OKC to Dallas with both the kids so that my parents could take us to the airport and start out the first half of the week with R and J.

I've been to Boston once before on a family vacation when I was a teenager, but Jordan hadn't been. And honestly, I only remember it vaguely. We got to Boston around 3:30 in the afternoon and ended up taking a water taxi across the bay (long story short, we were supposed to take a ferry but didn't). That was super neat! We ate seafood for dinner and walked a bit of the Freedom Trail before heading to our hotel.

The next morning we ate quiche at the cutest breakfast place and then walked all day following the Freedom Trail and saw pretty much all the sights! After we walked up 294 stairs at the Bunker Hill Monument (which is at the end of the Freedom Trail), we ate lunch at Little Italy (after getting hangry and getting into a minor argument), and then took a Lyft to the airport. It was such a fun mini trip to start off our week in England.

Water taxi! Not the cheapest option, but it was fun. And it was really only like $10 more than our Lyft we took the next day so not crazy expensive.
We had a minor panic in the morning involving our plane tickets. We weren't able to check in online, and there was a notice that our passports needed to be affirmed at least 3 days in advance and we hadn't done it yet. We freaked out and thought we weren't going to be able to fly, so we called the airline and talked to them directly. Everything was fine, but man we were panicking! New to international travel lol ;)
One of our favorite parts of the Freedom Trail was going on board the USS Constitution. I just think it's neat how many ropes and things go into making and running a ship. It was cool to go into the lower decks and see the cannons and bunks and crazy to think about people actually being out in the middle of the ocean in one of these.

Our flight was delayed an hour, and we ended up leaving Boston at 10:30 pm for an overnight flight to London (Gatwick), getting in at 9:30 the next morning! From there we traveled to Liverpool, York, Cambridge, and back to London, so I'll have separate posts for each of those places. I know travel recap posts aren't everyone's favorite, but it's good motivation for me to get some photos edited and memories down in writing before I make my official Shutterfly photo book ;)

Also, feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions or want to know about anything in particular!

Adventure to England


Hello! It's been a minute. I don't think I've ever taken this much time away from the blog since I started blogging in 2010. But this summer has been so busy for us, and then Jordan and I left the kids with their grandparents and took off on an adventure just the two of us! We just got back late Monday night. We spent a total of 11 days on vacation, 8 in England and then a few days on each end in Boston as a mini vacation within a vacation. It was absolutely the most amazing time!

Here's me in front of Buckingham Palace. The Queen is out of town for 10 weeks each summer, and you can buy tickets to tour inside, so that's what we did! You can't take any photos inside or even have your cell phone in your hand at all. We went through security and metal detectors and everything.

I am overwhelmed by how many photos and videos I took, and of course I am going to put together a vacation recap video. I also want to share a bit about why we decided to take this trip now and how we planned it in case anyone else is considering a trip to the UK. We loved it so much!

What I think I will do is split up my recap posts by location, since we traveled to a few different places. I'm excited to share some of our trip with you! And get some photos edited and memories down for my own sake. The vacation magic is already fading and real life is not quite as much fun as touring around Europe ;)