Travel, When in

5 Ways to Save On Your Next Trip

We are so ready to get back to travelling both domestically and internationally. There are so many places we have yet to explore but we’re waiting until it’s 100% safe to travel. In the meantime, we’ve been planning and budgeting for our next trip. The budgeting part can be the hardest as we want to save money but get the most from our experiences and “do it all” while we are away. I curated our top 5 tips on how to save money when planning your next trip. The tips will save you hundreds if not thousands on your next vacation so there will be less money stress and more fun and relaxation during your vacation.

  1. Use Airline Miles: We ALL have a bunch of airlines miles saved up since the pandemic started. Now is the time to cash in!! Review your miles and cash them in for seats, hotel stays, or rental cars. For example you could travel domestically or to the Caribbean for 10,000 miles or less. By doing this you will end up only paying for government mandated taxes and fees. NOTE: Watch out for blackout dates; typically certain holidays throughout the year.
  2. Book A Rental Condo: Instead of a hotel try out a rental condo which gives you more space and the ability to live like a local during your trip. Plus condos are more affordable than hotels especially if its a family vacation with lots of people. Plus, you’ll have your own kitchen so you’ll save money by eating at “home” and its a creates the opportunity to gather around the table with your family.
  3. Travel Off – Peak: Book your trip during non-holidays, i.e. the week before or after to save hundreds of dollars. Not only are these times cheaper, there will be less crowds or the dreaded “we over booked the flight, anyone want to volunteer their seat?” speech (we’ve all heard that before). Plus there will be smaller crowds and shorter lines at popular tourist destinations like museums, amusements parks, etc. Additional savings: tickets for popular tourist destinations will also be cheaper!
  4. Deals Guide the Way: If your on the hunt for a great deal, then let the deal send you to your next destination. Instead of trying to make your budget fit your destination, let a trip deal determine where you will go. There are great deals for the places least travelled so its a great opportunity to see something new and expand your experiences. But these deals come and go fast so set up email alerts so you’ll be ready to book ASAP. This strategy is perfect for saving on your next trip and many include airfare and lodging so its a win-win!
  5. Stick to Your Budget: The best way to save money is to stick to your budget. Research how much air travel, lodging and experiences will cost and stick to it! Its easy to get lost in new offers or 1 extra experience during your trip. But by paying for that extra luxury, you can easily eliminate your cost savings and possibly go over budget. Travel budgets are easy to create in excel or use any of the numerous templates online. Don’t forget to include expenses for food and souvenirs!

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6 Reasons To Keep A Travel Journal

As we look forward to some travel this year, why not start a travel journal? This is the perfect way to capture all your experiences not just through photographs but also on paper. Travel journals are the perfect companion for any traveller, small enough to fit in any carry-on and last a lifetime. Its the perfect conversation piece for friends and family. There are a bunch of reasons why you should carry a travel but here are just a few of my favorite reasons:

  1. Capture memories, trip details and emotions
  2. Self Awareness and personal development
  3. Pre-trip research, references and tips
  4. Trip Guide and experience log
  5. Important Info and Contacts
  6. A great souvenir

How To Start A Travel Journal

When you’re starting out, keep things simple. Personalize your journal and customize it to show who your are. Choose a layout that fits the flow of your travel experience with room to grow. Sections for tickets, travel schedules, sketches, people you met, best experiences, and summary pages are just a few of the options to put in your journal. Not an artist, no problem! Give travel stickers a try. There are plenty of Pinterest flatlays to give you some ideas. But don’t let it overwhelm you with its picture-perfect journals packed with wise quotes and beautiful sketches. Make your journal perfectly you!

Buy a simple journal that you won’t mind getting a little dirty from your travel adventures. A small A5 leather bound journal is a perfect addition to your suitcase. It’s better to have an imperfect journal that’s yours than none at all. Don’t forget to add a spot for a pen or pencil so your not searching for one while your having the best time of your life.

Keep it honest. Be truthful with yourself and don’t sugar-coat or aim for what you think a travel journal should be like. Let it be yours – and let it reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of your travels. A journal is a record of experiences – not a perfect narrative waiting to be published. But if you do get it published…..what a great story it will tell!! Safe travels!

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Travel, When in

Take A Spartan Holiday

We are always looking for ways to unwind from our busy daily lives….work, school, activities, etc but what about technology. In there era where technology rules everything…..shopping, bills, social media, texting a dual purpose vacation may be just what you need. A Spartan holiday allows you to take a vacation from our busy everyday lives AND technology. This type of vacation encourages a total disconnect from technology in order to allow you to truly enjoy your vacation; allowing you to get back to nature and best of all yourself. Shrimayee Thakur said it best:

“To celebrate a Spartan Holiday is to wring pleasure from the modest stuff…..To enliven a rainy day. To gain independence from the media narrative of the week….Honour the actual. Observe slowly. Engage the world like a traveller, canny but agape, whether five or fifty or 5,000 miles from home. That’s what you can expect here, an eyeful.”

Now, your probably wondering how you can travel without technology especially since we use our phones to take pictures and post to social media. Bring your phone but also bring a pen and paper or a travel journal. Draw what you see, write you feelings, thoughts and inspirations based on what you see and discover. Now is the perfect time to start a travel journal, there are lots of options to choose….from blank pages to lined to dot grid. A travel journal your personal narrative of your adventures and the life you have lived. And…it makes the perfect conversation piece with family and friends. Need more reasons on why you should have a travel journal and how to start one? Check out my post here about travel journals.

Another important factor of Spartan holidays is to stay in a micro hotel. Micro hotels offer tiny rooms that are much smaller than traditional hotels. Although they are small, the rooms maximize space! Equipped with full kitchens, outdoor patios with fire rings, and mezzanine bed lofts these rooms are perfectly nestled within forests, hilltops or mountain sides. Talk about fantastic views! Plus, you will have packed light. For Spartan holidays, you only need to take the essentials-clothing, food and travel journal. Less is more! Besides, you’ll be spending a lot of time in nature and not your hotel room.

So I encourage you to find time and a destination for a Spartan holiday. Take the time to get back to nature, unplug and re-center yourself. What before of self care than to pause and observe the world as traveller. What will you discover?

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Family, Travel, When in

How to Travel with Pets

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be visiting relatives that live near by. Your getting yourself organized and ready to go….you’ve made a list of road trip essentials (check out our list here) or your preparing to take a short flight. But what about your pets??? Pets need a vacation too and make great companions when your traveling. Whether your traveling by car, train or air, I’ve put together a travel guide to help navigate the “getting there” part of you trip with your pet in tow.

Before You Em-bark!

  1. Fit for Travel: Make sure your pet is fit for travel; your veterinarian can help with this! Talk to them about your destination and how your getting there so they can advise if your pet is ready.
  2. Pet Identification: Make sure your pet has an ID tag for their collar with a phone number where you can reached. Also, microchipping is another great option for identification.
  3. Travel Accessories: A pet crate or carrier is a must when traveling; make sure it is well ventilated and big enough for them to sit, turn around or lie down. Introduce your pet to a new carrier at home before your trip. You don’t want them freaking out when its time to leave.

Travelling By Car

  1. Buckle Up or Carrier: Pets should wear their seat belt – yes, pet seat belts do exist. If your not comfortable with that, put them in their carrier. Also, don’t let pets sit in your lap while driving. Major distraction!
  2. Paws In: Make sure you pet keeps their heads and paws inside a moving vehicle. You can crack a window for them to feel the breeze; just make sure they can’t get their full head out.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip and don’t feed them in the car. The last thing you want is a motion sick pet…..
  4. Pit Stops: Don’t forget to stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks and exercise (for both you!).

Travelling by Air

  1. In Cabin: Currently not allowed due to COVID-19 but if your pet is an emotional support animal they are allowed. Pets must be small and less than 20 lbs to accompany you in the cabin. NOTE: Check with your airline first!
  2. Arrive Early: Get to the airport early to allow you pet a little exercise before your flight.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip. Pets can be prone to air sickness so keep things on the light side.
  4. No Sedation: Don’t sedate your pet during air travel because sedation medication can increase heart rate and aggravate respiratory issues. Additionally, sedatives interfere with their balance and equilibrium!

Travelling by Train

  1. Small pets: Amtrak, the nations largest passenger train carrier, allows pets 20 lbs and under to travel by train on trips up to 7 hours. NOTE: Be sure to check their policies before you book your trip.
  2. Carry on Luggage: A pet in their carrier is counted as 1 carry-on luggage so pack wisely.
  3. Food & Drink: Bring collapsible food and drink bowls to feed your pet on the train. Remember, a light meal a couple of hours before your journey.
  4. Utilize Scheduled Stops: Take advantage of scheduled stop(s) by taking a brisk walk on the platform and a quick potty break. Your pet will thank you!

No matter how you travel, your pet can be a welcome companion on your journey. They enjoy getting out as much as you do and probably love all the sights, sounds and smells they encounter. Just be sure you have everything you need to make your trip successful and stress-free.

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Twin Lakes Park, Texas

Twin Lakes Park, Cedar Park, TX

Twin Lakes is a 50-acre tract of land that features hike and bike trails and beautiful native Texas flora and fauna. There is plenty of space to social distancing and the perfect outing for families who love to be out in nature. The park offers plenty of additional amenities such as pavilions, a swimming pool/water playscape, multi-purpose sports fields, an archery range, a beach/swimming area, and so much more! This is another great way to tour your own city; not sure how to do that? Check our my post here for some creative ideas to get you started.

On our trip, our kids loved stopping and reading all the nature facts and plant identification signs throughout the trail. They made sure they didn’t miss any so we ended up being at the park for longer than expected. The best part was seeing the GIANT red headed centipede crossing one of the trails to get to the creek on the other side. And of course my son started with his “Did you know…” facts for the rest of our trip and all the way home.

The Texas landscape was beautiful and you can’t beat that water fall! We saw so many natural creeks within the park and even a moss covered waterfall. Of course our kids said it reminded them of the smurfs…go figure! On our way out, we stopped by the lake and visited the ducks who were very friendly. I’m sure they were looking for food but alas, we didn’t have any. Mental note for next time. Also, don’t forget your camera as there are lots of photo opportunities within the park.

Surviving Chaos

In order to make the most of you time at the park and prevent kid meltdowns, I’ve provided some surviving chaos tips. Have fun exploring at the park!

  • Sunblock: Be sure to put on lots of sunblock to prevent sunburn. This is the first rule of thumb for any outdoor activity.
  • Early Morning: Best time to visit the park is early morning. It’s cooler, less crowded and your kids will have energy to burn. A fun filled morning at the park makes for a well rested and relaxed afternoon (I hope)
  • Backpack: This is the perfect place to keep water, first aid kits, sunblock, snacks, portable potty seat, etc. What ever creature comforts you need. Remember to keep it light weight since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and/or biking.
  • Snacks: Don’t forget the snacks! Apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, granola/protein bars, goldfish or whatever your kids like. You don’t want food meltdowns and HAN-gry kids in the middle of your hiking journey

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