If you’re traveling with kids, you already know what a saving grace a few apps can be. Movies, games, music, and plenty of battery life can keep kids of all ages happy until you arrive at your destination. However, vacation is about breaking away from the ordinary and exploring new things, which is hard to do when you’re glued to the same screen as the one you stare at for hours at home.
40% of Americans don’t use all of their paid time off in a year. Don’t be one of those people.
Travel - How to Experience a Destination Like a Local
July 13, 2017
Live in the area
→ Instead of a hotel room, book a short term rental in a house or apartment in your dream city. This will make you feel more at home, and will immerse you in the lifestyle of the locals.
Chat with the people around you
→ The most obvious and effective way to go about it. It could be daunting, but start with someone who works at a restaurant. Or maybe someone who runs a local shop, or art museum. Ask them about their experiences in the town, or simply ask what their favorite local restaurant is. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from breaking the ice with one person.
Don’t bring everything from home
→ Don’t go on vacation and never leave your house. Go shopping for clothing or food, and observe the different ways of life. Not bringing every single necessity from home forces you go get out of your comfort zone and learn more about the area in which you’re visiting.
Turn off Google Maps
→ If you want to learn and experience more, you’ve got to try something new. Take an afternoon and just go. Drive, walk, or hike somewhere without the use of any guide map. You never know what you’ll find!
Don’t think so much
→ Sure, logistics are essential for anything in life. But, when traveling, don’t be so hard on yourself. Go with the flow and let go of your “to-do” list for at least a day. You might find that you prefer living spontaneously rather than ticking items off a list.
Visit the visitor’s center or local nature park → The people who work at these locations are getting paid to help you find cool things to do in their city. If they only tell you the top tourist-traps, dig a little deeper. If that is their place of employment, they live in the area and will have an opinion on their favorite spots around the area. Also, these folks are probably pretty adventurous to work this job. It is more than likely that they’ll be able to recommend some great local spots.
Do a little research beforehand → Try to not get too consumed in this, because living in the moment is the best way to go. However, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to being informed about the place you’re traveling to. Use apps like Yelp, Twitter, or Facebook to look at reviews for locations.
“Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” - Ibn Battuta
5 Worst Travel Tips
August 16, 2017
People love to give advice when they hear you are traveling, especially if it's a place they've been. While much of it can be useful, there are some parts you should ignore. Some unforgettable memories come from trying new or different things. Remember, it's your experience so make sure it is tailored to you and not just things that have been told to do, or not to do. Here is the worst advice given to me.
- "Go for the cheapest place to stay" - Sure you will be saving money and enjoying the city in the same way, but you will dread going back to your sad excuse for a room. Now, some people really do stay out all day and just go to their accommodations to crash. But the truth is most of us need a little more from our accommodations. For me, it's work a little more money to stay at a place that is known for cleanliness, privacy, and good showers. on my list of priorities, a good shower is very important. Think about your priorities and the options here before just booking the cheapest place.
- "Schedule a full day plan" - For longer distance or once in a lifetime type trips, this is really tempting. You're probably only going to be there once right?! So, take in everything you can. However, completely planning out your travel days and attempting to stick to a time schedule will result in many problems , mostly unnecessary stress and anxiety. There will be some places that deserve more time than others. New places may also pop up on the radar as you go about the day and those can be hard to fit in when pressed for time. Getting a short list of things to do for a day is a good idea, but don't be afraid to wander around and discover something you might have missed in the guide books. Plus, there's really is nothing like giving yourself time to take in the feeling of a new place.
- "Don't meet people" - Meet other travelers. This is one of the most rewarding experiences of travel. Hearing a perspective of life from a different place than your home country opens your mind to new things. These people want someone to hang out with just as much as you do so don't be afraid to start a conversation with them. Be wary of meeting people in the city who are a bit overzealous to talk to you, they may be trying to sell you something or take advantage of you in some way. The biggest thing is using common sense when meeting people, if they rub you the wrong way at any time always have a plan to get out of that situation.
- "Be careful" - Now this is actually good advice, if you don't take it too far. Don't do anything to get arrested or killed, but live a little. Know the general safety of an area, trust your gut in unknown situations, and don't overindulge in things that impair your judgement. But adventure off the path now and then, find the cool places tourists rarely go. Part of traveling, is exploring. Have a good time and enjoy the time you have.
- "You have to do this..." - Do what you feel like doing. Read reviews and descriptions, if it doesn't sound interesting to you just don't do it. I made this mistake. People told me that I HAD to see the Vatican if I'm in Rome. Now, I know that many, many people enjoy visiting the Vatican and I understand its significance, but it was probably one of my least favorite places I visited. I had read some reviews saying it wasn't worth the time and money, and truthfully it didn't sound that interesting, but....everyone said if I'm in Rome I HAD to visit the Vatican, right?" Moral of the story, do what interests you. Don't waste time on things you "have to do" and do what you want to do.
6 Tips For Pulling Off A Last Minute Weekend Getaway
September 01, 2017
With the Labor Day weekend here, I suddenly realize I have no plans. None. Nada. Zip. Now this may sound terrible to most people with the travel bug, but for someone with 3 kids whose schedules are now starting to eclipse mine, it’s a bit of a relief.
Yet, I find my inner travel bug saying, “We need to do something. Let’s take a short trip!” And so, the madness of packing a family of 5, arranging care for 3 pets, and figuring exactly where we are going begins. If you’re contemplating pulling off a last-minute weekend getaway, here’s a few pointers to help keep you sane.
- Pet care. Sounds crazy, but if you have pets that need cared for, start there. Many shelters or caregivers fill quickly over weekends, especially if it’s a holiday weekend. Even if you rely on family, friends, or neighbors to help care for your loveable pooch, they may have plans too. Start this one early in case you need to move to Plan B, C, D, or E.
- Be flexible! Last minute bookings could be pricey or a screaming deal. If you let the natural course of things unfold and are open minded, you’ll be more likely to find the steals. One last thought here, don’t forget the tried and true staycation concepts. So many of us focus on traveling somewhere else, that we forget to “visit” where we are. Don’t discount the day trips and activities at your fingertips…which leads me to my next point.
- Closer is better. If you’re planning a 2-4-day trip, consider locations that you can get to in 4 hours or less. If you max out at 4 hours to and 4 hours from that is close to one whole day of your precious time in transit. Would you rather be in an airplane or van playing mediator between the kids or out experiencing something together?
- Pack light. No really. Try keeping it to a backpack sized load or less each. This means less time packing and unpacking and less time corralling clothes on the trip. This also means everyone, little ones included, can carry their own load as well, which is extremely helpful. If you have trouble with this, my trick is to pick one neutral color palette, usually tan, black, navy or gray. That tends to minimize the bulkiest items like shoes, jackets or sweaters, and pants.
- Get creative! Don’t forget there are so many options when it comes to travel and accommodations. You can travel by car, train, boat, RV, or bike, depending on your level of adventure. When it comes to places to stay there are cabins, hotels, vacation homes and condos, campgrounds, houseboats, and homes of your friends and family. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but you get the point. There are a lot of different options out there. In my opinion, a short block of time seems perfect for trying something new.
- Keep it simple. I personally am not a big planner. I like to let things unfold and allow time for discovery and relaxing. However, I know there are planners out there. So, here is what I mean by simple. Do what makes you comfortable, but don’t OVER due it. If you’re a planner, know your options, plan a couple of things if that makes you happy, but don’t pack the whole day full of activities to the point that you stress if things go awry. If you’re a non-planner like me, don’t just show up. Again, know some options, timing, and availability. Make sure you get out and appreciate what makes your destination a destination.
How to Get the Best Winter Travel Deals
December 27, 2017
How to Get the Best Winter Travel Deals
Traveling in the winter may not seem ideal, especially if cold weather and snow aren’t your strong suits. But there’s arguably no better time to travel, especially if you’re looking to save big on hotels and activities.
Knowing these top three money-saving tips will help you get the best winter travel deals:
Tip #1 – Travel to Popular Summer Destinations
Booming summer tourist destinations like Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas, and the Outer Banks are most expensive during peak season. Winter, however, usually means fewer tourists and rock-bottom prices. For example, you’ll likely be able to score an oceanfront hotel room in Myrtle Beach for well under $100 a night. There’s still plenty of things to see and do, despite the cooler temperatures, so visiting during the off-season should be a no-brainer.
Tip #2 – Watch for Bounce-Back Deals
Most folks use online booking websites, such as Travelocity or Expedia, to find the best deals on rental cars or hotels, but you can get even better deals to come to you. Visit a couple of these sites and act as though you’re going to proceed with your reservation. Opt-in to receive email offers from them, but stop short of booking your trip. After a few days, you’ll likely receive email offers from the site to encourage you to finish booking your trip. These offers are usually substantially lower than the original price quote, giving you more ways to save.
Tip #3 – Look for Holiday Deals on Activities
Restaurants and attractions are known for offering special holiday deals that are good long after the new year has come and gone. If you’ve already booked your winter trip, you may be able to scoop up some savings on things to do on your trip if you purchase them before the holidays.
For example, you might check restaurants near your hotel and see if they’re offering any holiday incentives on gift cards.
Sites like Groupon and Living Social offer deals throughout the year, but may extend additional savings on Black Friday or during the holiday season.
Find more great winter travel tips on our blog.