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5 Things We Miss Most About Traveling

These days we are seeing less travel due to the pandemic. Many states still have lock down orders, re-opening has paused, and only essential business are allowed to continue daily operations. Suffice it the stay, it is not business as usual. Additionally, there is a currently a ban on travel to countries part of the European Union (EU) from the United States. Although, our family strongly believes in staying home staying health, it has definitely made us realize how much we miss travelling, especially internationally. Here are 5 things we miss most about travelling.

  1. The Food: There are so many different types of cuisine to discover in other countries. From the exotic delicacies in Singapore and Japan to good ‘ol fashion BBQ in Yerevan, there is nothing like discovering new foods. Food is an adventure and culture experience all scooped on a plate. At times, the food can be highly indulgent or completely unappealing, but each bite is totally worth it!
  2. The People: The ability to meet new people, learn about their history and experience their culture has always been fascinating to us. It will literally change your view of the world in an instant. Its the people you meet as much as the places you go that make each trip worthwhile. Through our travels, we have meet some truly inspiring people that we will never forget.
  3. Flexibility: No schedule, no work, no obligations-its a perfect travel experience. Whether traveling work or leisure, taking a bit of time to relax and enjoy your surroundings is priceless. It’s the amount of freedom and break from your daily routine when you travel can be the most enjoyable. Going with the flow can sometimes be the best travel “schedule”!
  4. New Adventures: Traveling gives you the opportunity to explore and experience new adventures. Take to the open road or follow the unbeaten path. We have had so many great adventures and discovered new things, concepts and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime. the thrill of exploring, a journey into unknown, a sense of adventure
  5. Personal Growth: Whether travelling alone or with friends, you experience a lot of personal growth. Whether its by becoming more patient as you navigate a foreign land or gain new perspectives about a people and it cultures, you’ll come back a changed person. You will be more confident in stepping out of your comfort zone and more courageous in your adventures. Give yourself some grace and embrace the new you that comes from travelling.

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3 Reasons You Should Rent A Boat

Lake Travis Austin, TX

Since we’ve been under quarantine for the last 3 months due to COVID-19 and the orders were finally lifted, we were ready to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. But we still had to follow social distancing rules while outside. So, we all put our heads together to find an activity that was fun, inexpensive and still allowed for social distancing. Renting a boat was the perfect activity! This was a new adventure for us but we were up to the challenge. We rented a pontoon boat, perfect for families, from Just for Fun Watercraft Rental for a half day. Once we received our driving course at the marina (yes, its literally is like driving a car) we were on our way to the open waters. If you love the outdoors and are looking for a great family vacation, boating is right up your alley. I’ve listed 3 reasons why boating is a great family and/or solo activity to do and some surviving chaos tips to help you navigate the waters.

  1. Social Distancing Safe: Whats between you, your boat and the lake……nothing! Absolutely nothing…..there is no one standing next to you and the closest boat or ski-do is zooming past you miles away. This meant it was just us, the boat and the water. We didn’t have to worry about maintaining 6 feet of social distance because we were totally isolated. Additionally, you can find your own private beach or alcove hang out spot for your family. There are tons of alcoves on Lake Travis to choose; you can spread out your blanket and toys and have a good time. Boating is another way of getting away without going too far.
  2. Advance Your Skills: So previously, I mentioned that driving a boat is like driving a car…..but that’s AFTER you figure it out! A boat is like a moving target! You are steering one way but the current of the lake wants to take you in a completely different direction. Nautical terminology is also something you’ll pick up quickly along with water safety rules. Also, you’re also trying to find your balance while driving which is no small feet! By the time you’ve learn how to drive, balance yourself using muscles you’ve never used before, kept the kids from going overheard due to a big wave and learned how to navigate a lake using Google Maps you’ll be exhausted…..but skilled! You’ll definitely come out of the trip with some MAD skills and an imaginary gold medal. Did I mention….that I parallel parked our boat? Yep, I did that. Score 1 for mom!!!
  3. Family Time: We had so much fun on our boat! But for me, the best thing was seeing the kids faces light up as we speed through the lake. Hearing their giggles and full laughter every time our captain (my husband) hit a big wave. Our son educating us on the geography, animals he saw and other nature facts was wonderful. His binoculars definitely got a work out! Watching grandma and the kids have their own concert and sing-a-long to the Trolls 2 soundtrack was quite entertaining. Seeing my husband steering our boat with an air of confidence like a true captain but look of nervousness on his face was priceless. This was by far one of our funnest activities we did as a family and we created a TON of memories.

Surviving Chaos

  • B.Y.O.F – Bring your own food: Pack some sandwiches, chips, fruit, juice and water and you’ll be all set. With your own meal you stop literally anywhere and have lunch. Plus you’ll save money as some of the restaurants can be expensive. And don’t forget the snacks, nothing worse than h-angry kids!!
  • Beach toys: Bring some beach toys or stop by your local dollar store for some inexpensive items. This will keep the kids entertained while on the beach our while on the boat while your traveling around the lake.
  • Sunscreen: I can’t stress how important to slather everyone down in sunscreen. When we started our boating trip it was cloudy but it quickly heated up once the sun came out. Please protect your skin during all your outdoor activities sunscreen and remember to re-apply.
  • Reserve Early: Beat the rush and reserve your boat early at the beginning of summer. Boat rental reservations start the first warm day here and companies get booked all the way to late summer. The best boat for families are pontoon boats which seat up to 16 people.

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International Travel Adapters

If your traveling internationally, you will definitely need a travel adapter. The plugs and voltage in the U.S. are not the same in every country so you’ll need a good power bank with multiple adapters in order to charge you electronics once you reach your destination. Here we have provided a guide on the common plugs, associated country of usage, and voltage for your future travels.

Common Plugs

Plugs, Electrical Info & Countries

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The Exotic Resort Zoo – Johnson City, Texas

If your looking for some family fun, something that is social distancing friendly and you happen to be in Texas, then check out the Exotic Resort Zoo! Located in Johnson City, Texas the Exotic Resort Zoo is the perfect getaway for the whole family. This is a full scale zoo with exotic animals and safari cabins available to rent. Before the pandemic, you could hop on any one of the numerous guided tours for a trip around the zoo. While on the tour, you can feed the animals and visit the petting zoo which is a ton of fun. Also, if you wanted to spend more time at the zoo, you can rent a cabin…..even during the pandemic! These cabins are a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country. Each cabin can sleep 4-8 people and features basic kitchen appliances to a full kitchen depending on the cabin of your choice. These cabins are perfect for couples or the whole family.

Currently, the zoo has switched to a drive-through safari which is perfect for social distancing. You get to experience the zoo right from the comfort your car and still get the chance to feed the animals! First up on our drive-through safari was the petting zoo full of goats, fallow and axis deer. Although we couldn’t go inside, we were able to toss some feed to the animals which the kids loved! Following the petting zoo, we encountered all types of deer. From Sika to Axis to Fallow they were all eager to get some food right out of your hand. These guys definitely weren’t shy and came right up to car…talk about up close and personal! And of course they were accompanied by their friends the antelope and sheep.

Up next we entered the camel pen which was crazy! When you see a camel from far away you don’t truly understand the magnitude of how big they are. But once they get to your car and stick their WHOLE head and neck its a whole new perspective. And whats a camel without an llama or 2. These animals have no fear and enjoy every minute of their visitors.

My favorite part of the safari were the Zebras. They were absolutely beautiful and stunning and we spent the most time their feeding them. You definitely have to be careful with these guys because they bite! Be sure to drop the food on the ground so you can keep all your fingers. On our way out, we visit the Ostrich pen and encounter some Buffalo. To be honest, the ostrich and emu look very mean to me or maybe just angry….. These creatures are gentle giants but are very aggressive when it comes to food. Be prepared to keep your hand sanitizer handy or at least a towel because the buffalo loves to lick the food from your hand. Their tongues are long and EXTRA slimy, it was definitely a gross out moment for the kids.

The Exotic Resort Zoo is a perfect getaway for the whole family, especially now during these unprecedented times. If you plan on making the trip, here are some surviving chaos tips to make the trip smooth, stress free and fun:

  • Buy Ahead: Purchase tickets and at least 2 bags of feed BEFORE the day of your visit online. If your going on a holiday, buy your tickets at least a week in advance. This place sells out quickly.
  • Snacks: Be sure to pack some snacks and water for the road trip! Nothing worse than cranky kids stuck in a car.
  • Restrooms: Due to social distancing, the restrooms at the zoo are closed. Be sure to stop at the nearest gas station, about 4 miles north of the zoo, for your families pit stop.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Be sure to bring plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes since you will be feeding the animals. Their tongues are slimy so you’ll want to have clean hands when your finished.

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How To Tour Your City

Now that people are starting to come out of their houses and stay at home orders are easing, this is a great opportunity to explore your hometown. Not everyone is comfortable traveling out of state now that we are in the COVID-19 era so why not support your local community and explore local shops and restaurants. This goes without saying but I’m going to mention it anyway….please remember your social distancing guidelines like wearing a face masks and staying six feet apart.

One of the best ways to tour your own city is to have friend show you all of their favorite spots. You’d be surprised at how many places you haven’t visited with your friend. Its also a great way to find out your friends favorite spots around time or places you never thought of visiting. Another great way to explore your city is via tour bus. There are lots of local companies that offer tours around your town and know the ins, out, and places unseen throughout the city. The best part, the tour guide will have LOTS of stories and history to share about each of the local sites.

Do adventures that are specific to your hometown, for example Austin is home to the largest bat colony in North America. Every year, we visit the Congress Avenue bridge during late fall to see the bats. Its an awesome experience and fun for the kids. You can check out some of our adventures in Austin here. Each city has it own adventures and experiences that make it famous and are worth being explored. While your out, don’t forget to eat local! There are so many local restaurants to try in your city that could definitely use our support during these unprecedented times. Local eateries offer one of a kind experiences with lots of history and stories to tell. What a great way to add to your experience.

These are just a few ideas on how to be a tourist in your own city. With all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we rarely stop to explore and experience what’s in our very own backyard. Who says traveling has to be done far from home?