LDS Sister Missionary Tips: What to Wear

Hello future sister missionary!!
Before my mission, I stressed far too much about clothes/shoes/accessories etc!!! So I’ve written this to hopefully help save some other sisters a bit of trouble! I served in the France Lyon Mission, so these tips will be geared more towards Western European Missions :)

I’ve always wondered how Elders deal with wearing the same thing every day. Maybe that is why they are always so obsessed with their ties...anyway here’s some tips on how to avoid feeling like a cartoon character with a closet full of the same one outfit while still having a practical wardrobe.

Thrift Store:
The majority of my mission clothes came from thrift stores. Most of the clothing held up for my entire mission, but I had to replace some of it. Make sure you find quality stuff. All your clothes will get beat up, so it’s not necessary to buy everything new.

Stuff not from Downeast or missionary mall:
It’s great to match with the other 40 sister missionaries in your mission, but sometimes you might feel like a clone. It’s fun to have some cool, vintage-y items that only you own.  So go ahead and buy that fun skirt that no one else will have! You can find these items in thrift stores if you are good at looking. Or you can find them online on websites like Etsy! Here’s a link to my sisters’ Etsy shop for inspiration!

If you are stressing to find skirts that are long enough, go look on Asos!!! My first transfer of my mission, I was introduced to these wonderful skirts and dresses. So naturally for Christmas, my mom sent me a bag full of lovely, modest, comfy skirts and dresses from Asos!! True, a lot of missionaries have these skirts, but they go with anything—including that fun, vintage stuff that you find at thrift stores or online! Perfect for those I’m-just-gonna-put-on-the-first-thing-I-see days. 

Stay dry and warm
You see, when it’s raining and all the people go inside, missionaries stay outside.  You will spend a good part of the day outside, so don’t be cheap when it comes to rain and winter gear. Three essentials for me: Hunter Boots, Totes Umbrella and waterproof raincoat.

Totes, medium size. Don’t get a cheap umbrella. You’ll end up replacing it over and over.

My brother-in-law shared with me a great way to test if your raincoat is truly “missionary waterproof.” Stick the sleeve of the coat under a running faucet for 10 minutes. If the water seeps through, return it!!  If not, it is satisfactory! I thought it was a bit over-the-top, but I put my raincoat to the test. It kept me dry for all 18 months. I had a ¾ length, hooded, black raincoat from Urban Sierra Designs. I loved it!

Rain boots:
I had two pairs of Hunter boots on my mission. One was half-calf length that worked well with knee-length skirts and a pair of ankle boots for all skirt lengths.
Put some warm socks in these rain boots and they double as waterproof winter boots!! I’ll never buy winter boots again! These are pricey, but worth it!

Remember Umbrella + Raincoat + Rain boots = happy missionary!

Happy Feet
I know that everyone wants to look all cute and still be comfortable... Well its only sort of possible. Here’s my two cents on shoes.

1 nice pair of flats for Sundays and Conferences. Yes, just one. Let’s be honest, there are H&Ms and such, and if you are like me, you’ll want to buy things when you are there. Who goes to some place like France and doesn’t buy anything? Save some money and space in your suitcase to buy things when you get there.

2 pairs of comfortable shoes (you could get away with one). Yes, the ugly kind. There are various levels of ugly. You don’t have to go really, really ugly.  But you also don’t want to walk around all day in a little pair of flats. I loved my shoes from Earth Origins!

See ‘’stay dray and warm’’

I hope some of these tips were useful!! I hope you all have wonderful missions!! Don’t worry too much about the clothes and such! Bring what you think you should, and make due with it!! It’s kinda like how we show up to our missions and we hand over to the Lord all the knowledge, talents, experience, etc. that we have, and He makes it work. Actually He does miracles with the little that we give Him. So, if any of this has stressed you out, forget it and HAVE A GREAT MISSION!! 

Siesta Key Sand Sculpting

A few weeks ago we went to the Siesta Key Crystal Classic sand sculpting competition in Sarasota, Florida. It was amazing. The weather was amazing. The artists were amazing. And the water... was a little bit cold. The sculptors had four or five days to finish their masterpieces. I hope someday to be that dedicated to something... I can barely get a blog post written six months after it happens. This happened around a month ago so... I'd call that progress.

 This one was by far my favorite!

This was going to be my fun pregnancy announcement. But I decided getting pregnant just for a picture might be a little crazy. Maybe next year.

 Sandy Santa! Did I mention that I love winters in Florida?

Here is the winner. Not sure what the title was or what this is supposed to be, but looks like someone was in the doghouse? In case you were wondering: this is the perfect way to spend a November afternoon in Florida. I highly recommend it Utahns (and any other snowbirds out there).

Weekend at the Cosmopolitan #MyCosmoStyle

We love Vegas. Growing up it was almost a second home of ours. We also love planning hypothetical vacations. We've been to the Bahamas, Paris and Disneyland multiple times. (In our head's anyway.) So when we had the opportunity to be involved in the #MyCosmoStyle challenge, we knew our next dream vaca would be a stay at the glamorous Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. And just like that, we started planning. Luckily for us, the Cosmopolitan has something for everyone! We may be sisters, but we each have our own individual interests. Brandi is the foodie of the group. Kayla worships the sun and sand. And Brittany is our night-owl fashionista. Here is our sisterly spin on Cosmo fashion!

Weekend Brunch at Wicked Spoon

Weekend Brunch

Afternoon Swim at Boulevard Pool

Glam Swim

Beginner's Guide to Backpacking Europe

Mike started dental school this summer. That basically means that we will have little to no vacations for the next four years :( So as a farewell to care-free living, we decided to spend a month backpacking Europe before school started! This has always been a dream of mine, so I was super excited that we actually did it!!

 Here was our rough itinerary for anyone interested in planning a similar trip:

Switzerland - Zurich
Germany - Bavaria, Berlin
Czech Republic - Prague, Kutna Hora
France - Paris
Italy - Genoa, Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome
Mediterranean Cruise -  Pompeii, Sicily, Corsica, La Goulette, Monte Carlo, Toulon,
Spain - Barcelona
England - London, Brighton
Ireland - Dublin

My first piece of advice would be to #1 Plan as early and as much as possible! I know a lot of backpackers tell you not to plan too far ahead and be flexible. However, we found that being too flexible made us waste a lot of time and miss out on doing some of the things we would have loved to do. Especially if you are visiting super popular tourist destinations like Paris, London, Rome, etc. So, plan as much as you can, but be flexible with time/dates and understand that some things are just not going to work out. Our planning process began literally about a month before we left. We got a Eurail pass that was good for 15 consecutive days of unlimited travel within the countries covered on the pass (most of the countries in Europe). This worked great for us as we were moving locations every 2-3 days. We spent so much time on trains you wouldn't even believe it. But we really felt that we got our money's worth with this pass. Especially since we were planning so late in the game. One thing we wished we had done better was plan our train trips ahead of time. We spent literally 1.5 days in the Paris train station trying to get a train out of France with our train passes.

#2 Pack light. (Please ignore how ridiculously exhausted I look in this picture.) I think we actually did pretty well with packing. Looking back though, there are things I still would have left at home. We each packed around 22-24 pounds of stuff in our backpacks. After extensive Pinterest/Youtube/amazon research, we both bought the Osprey Farpoint 55 Backpack on Amazon. And we absolutely loved them! I bought the S/M and my husband got the M/L. They have a detachable daypack which was absolutely perfect for taking day trips when we left the rest of our stuff in the hotel/hostel. There are a million packing lists on various blogs/Pinterest, so I would recommend looking at those (especially for the specific countries you plan to visit). Basics: bring pieces that can be layered, are lightweight (obviously), and are easy to wash! No matter what time of year you're headed, you want a lightweight (and waterproof) jacket. I took my Helly Hansen one and it was perfect. Not too hot, but kept the rain at bay. Don't forget that Europe has some awesome shopping as well :) So either leave a little extra room or decide now which shirts/shoes/pants can be sacrificed when you find that amazing Parisian scarf for two Euro.

View from the Neuschwanstein castle. Definitely highly recommend!

 In case you didn't already know, this is the castle that Walt Disney used to base Sleeping Beauty's castle! So... I was basically in heaven.

Gorgeous sunset overlooking Prague. Guys, Prague is awesome. You should go. Wandering around the city was amazing!

That gorgeous sunset came with a price though.We literally climbed a million stairs. # 3 Be prepared to walk more than you have in your entire life. Mike and I were doing this whole thing on a budget, so we walked most places and took taxis only when it was our only option. Being the vain girl I am, I didn't pack shoes with super awesome support. I semi-regretted it. But if I were to do it again, I probably wouldn't change anything. I didn't want some nasty white tennis shoes in my romantic shots at the Eiffel tower and stuff. 

The "Bone Church" Kutna Hora (just outside of Prague). Super creepy, but pretty cool to see.

Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. We bought the three day Paris Museum Pass (not the Paris pass). We were pretty sure it was a good financial move. We think.

Fountains at Versaille. A definite must-do day trip from Paris! #4 do your history homework. There are tons of great audio guides and apps that are free for the sites you want to visit! We used Rick Steves' audio guide all over the place and loved it! We just plugged headphones into our phones and saved the 10 euro price tag for the museum's guide.

Burano, Venice. I was so happy I got to go here! Last time I went to Venice I wasn't able to check out this little island, so it was a must do for this trip! I'm no photographer, but it is pretty impossible to not get amazing pictures of this place!

# 5 Have your camera ready. By day three of our trip, we were exhausted. First thing to go out the door when we were tired? Taking pictures. We missed out on a lot of great photo ops because we were just too dang tired to stop and take a picture (and sometimes too tired to even get ready enough to be photographed...) Push through it people! You might only ever be here once!

#6 Learn how to sleep anywhere.  I absolutely love sleeping. Like way more than the normal human. Slowly drifting off to sleep in a quiet, dark room with comfy bed and a nice air conditioned breeze is one of my all time favorite things. Let me tell you that you can expect very little of that if you're doing a backpacking trip on a budget. Hostels, train stations, and buses do not exactly provide the ideal lodging for a weary traveler. It is so hard, but take the sleep when you can get it. You won't get enough and you will be tired. Push through it. For me, this will probably be my only chance to go on a trip like this, so I didn't want to waste any time sleeping in or being in a half-awake zombie state. (If you ask my husband, he might have a slightly different story concerning my sleep attitude on this trip, but I'm sticking with my version.) After this trip, I can sleep just about anywhere.

Classic tourist...

#7 Get off the beaten path. Talk to friends and family (or Pinterest) about the places you are going. This is the best way to find those awesome places that aren't on Trip Advisor! We told a few people we were going to Italy and they said that we NEEDED to check out Cinque Terre. We'd never heard of it. So I Pinterested it and immediately decided we were going. Totally would have missed out if we hadn't asked around!
 We did a night tour of the Colosseum. It was amazing.

#8 Know when to spend and when to save. 95% of the time on this trip, we adhered to the "save" mentality. However, every once in a while we splurged on things that we both really, really wanted to do. Ya know, those once-in-a-lifetime deals? Like seeing Les Miserables in London. That was a bucket list thing for me. So we bought same day (crazy expensive) tickets and absolutely loved it!

Brighton, England - fun daytrip from London!

#9 Have an Open Mind. Once you leave the USA, it is important to remember one thing: You are not in the USA. Seems pretty logical, but you'd be surprised. We saw some Americans doing and saying some pretty crazy things. Food, culture, transportation, language are all going to be vastly different than what you may be used to back at home. So learn to enjoy and embrace the differences while you're traveling! It will definitely help your trip go more smoothly. Example: I had little to no desire to go to Barcelona. I didn't know much about the culture or food and I don't have a huge appreciation for architecture... However, Mike had been looking forward to it the entire trip, so we had to go. Well, I ended up loving it. It is one of our favorite places that we went.

 #10 Backpacking is hard. So don't forget to take time for a little R&R :)

We had such an amazing trip! If you're considering doing one of these, but aren't sure if you want to take the plunge away from work/school/paychecks/etc. Just do it! You won't regret it.

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