My 8 Tips When Booking a Rental hOME

While there are still occasions where staying in a hotel when traveling makes more sense, booking a rental home is almost everyone’s go-to these days. You get so much more bang for your buck and it’s become very simple, safe, and affordable with its increasing popularity. Check out my 8 tips for booking a rental home-some of these may help you on your next vacation!

Tip #1: Read the fine print Seriously, though read that stuff! You never know if there’s something you’ll catch in there that you’re not okay with to book. Or, there could be some unusual rules/policies in there that you wouldn’t have thought of. It could be anything such as no smoking anywhere on the property, to no one allowed to stay in the home under 18, etc. I have seen it all!

Tip #2: Check out the hosts’ profile You can get a lot of information on the host here from anything to all of their listings they have on the site, all of their reviews, to how long they’ve been hosting, and so on. I recommend giving this a gander before booking with them just in case you catch something you’re not vibing with.

Tip #3: Scope out the neighborhood The host may not always provide the exact address until you book with them, or even until you’re trip gets closer. If not, you can message them requesting their neighborhood or area of town they live in. Once you have that, I highly recommend scoping out the neighborhood on Google and Google maps. Look at the crime rate, traffic, population, proximity, or whatever else would deter-or encourage-you with booking the listing.

Tip #4: Check off all your needs before your search You need a hair dryer in your temporary home? Check it on the amenities filter list. Need a parking space? Check that off too. I’d gather all the amenities and requests you have for the space you need, and then start your search. This will narrow your search and make shopping for a space quicker and easier. We used to not check of Wifi because in this day and age everyone has it, but we ran into one that didn’t once and our lesson was definitely learned to now check that amenity when searching!

Tip #5: Be mindful of the company you bring So you are staying with guests at the rental home, but it’s booked under your name. Be mindful of who you bring along with you because if anything goes awry with the space, it’s your name that will get a bad rep and review. Sometimes the host will leave a list of to-dos they require before checking out. Will these other folks help you get this done or will you have to do all the work for everyone that stayed there? Jut pennies for thought!

Tip #6: Follow all the rules The host will most definitely have some kind of rules and/or policies for you to follow while staying in their home. Be sure to abide by each and everyone of these as they will leave you a review based partially on this. You want a great record of reviews as the next house’s host will look at these when deciding to allow you to stay in their home or not.

Tip #7: Book on a Private Computer Be sure to book your stay on a private, trusted computer. If you need to book on a public one then make sure you log out! If not, any one can come in right behind you and book through you and you may not ever catch it until it’s too late! This happened to me once, but luckily I caught it on time! I still had the worst time proving that it wasn’t actually me who booked it and to get my refund from the company…yikes.

Tip #8: Read those Reviews I would start with the most recent reviews on a listing and go back a few months just to make sure no horrible ones are thrown in there anywhere. If you do see one bad one amongst high ratings, and you feel the review isn’t accurate, then proceed. Sometimes though, there is something to say about the one-off bad review so it wouldn’t hurt to check them out. If there are no reviews or big gaps between reviews, that’s a red flag and you should probably abort mission!

I hope these will help you when booking your next rental home! We have certainly learned a lot over the years traveling and staying in different rental homes all around the country and using multiple different sites. Good luck on your next search!

14 Books to Read Before Your Next Summer Vacation

Does anyone else besides me enjoy reading books based on their season setting? For instance, in the summer-or when summer’s approaching- I love to read about books set in the summer time. If you’re the same way, then this list will be right up your alley!

  1. Lightning Bug by Donald Harington: Set in the summer in an Ozark Arkansas town with all the heat and humidity one could ask for, this is a great read about small town folks and the history of one couple in particular.
  2. The Beach by Alex Garland: Oh man, this was one of the best books I’ve ever read. A man traveling finds a beautiful beach in Thailand, where he must incorporate himself into a community of people who have already secretly established themselves there.
  3. A Painted House by John Grisham: Another wonderful novel set in Arkansas about a family on a farm and all the events that go down over one summer.
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Set in Florida, this amazing novel follows a black woman in the 1930’s making her way in life. This is the best classic American novel I’ve ever read, hands down.
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Huck and Jim share wild adventures along the Mighty Miss’. That’s all I’m going to put here, because Mark Twain is amazing.
  6. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier: A man experiments with a drug that takes him back in time to a different place in Cornwall, England, while on vacation with his family.
  7. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin: Set in Mississippi, a man is accused of murder, and his old childhood friend is investigating the case.
  8. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley: A boy in Arkansas goes missing one summer while his family struggles in his absence to find him.
  9. Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche: Torre sets sail with new boyfriend Ivan, island hopping on the Pacific Ocean while simultaneously overcoming several of her fears.
  10. Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren: After a Las Vegas elopement, Mia follows her new husband to Paris to spend the summer there.
  11. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger: Three boys escape a hellish school and the trouble they got into there at the beginning of summer, following the Mississippi River down to St. Louis.
  12. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: A young girl grows up and alone on the coast of North Carolina, but without ever becoming part of society.
  13. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen: A teenaged girl spends the summer with her late mother’s family on a lake resort, and learns more about them and her mother’s past than she thought she would ever come to know.
  14. Beach Read by Emily Henry: Two authors who are lake house neighbors on Lake Michigan try writing in eachother’s very different writing styles for their next novels.

I promise these books will give you alllll the best summer vibes! ❤

12 Cons of Tent Camping

Nate and I are coming up on our 5th-and final-year in a row of tent camping. We’ve had some great times in the tent of ours and while there are definitely some advantages to using a tent when camping, we’re ready to retire the ole tent and upgrade to a pull behind camper later this year. If you’re struggling to decide what kind of campers you are, allow me to break down for you some cons to tent camping!

The Noise: Light sleeper? Then tent camping probably isn’t for you. In a tent, you’ll hear everything from twigs snapping, to fire cracking, to loud toddlers early in the morning. Sure, there are quiet time rules at every campground, but that doesn’t mean people abide by them.

Discomfort While Sleeping: I’ve tried everything including cots, sleeping bags, mattress pads, and extra blankets, but I still wake up with aching hips every single time we go camping while Nate always complains of an aching back. It definitely doesn’t provide a comfortable sleep.

Tent Sites are Limited: Most campgrounds have limited campsites, catering more to RV sites. Other campgrounds may offer tent sites, but primitive only-which blows.

Bad Weather: Run into some rain? Now you have to hole up in your tent to wait it out and pray to the camping gods that it doesn’t get flooded. Have fun with that.

That Clean Feeling: Even after your shower after a day of hiking in the woods, you have to return to the outdoors. In my experience it’s practically impossible to remain clean while tent camping because you’re outside the entire time, not to mention all the dirt and debris you track into your tent.

The Wildlife: Yeaaaa, you’re not exactly safe in a tent from bears and other wildlife. This thought runs across my mind every single time we go camping as I am terrified of bears! I’ve seen one too many horror films, I think.

Cleaning and Organizing: It can be difficult to keep your campsite clean and organized when tent camping. You don’t have access to a regular kitchen where you have a trashcan, drawers, and cabinets at the ready.

Dolling Up: Planning on a night out on the town during your trip? It’s pretty hard to doll yourself up in a tent. There’s the washrooms, but those are sometimes dirty and usually wet.

Pets: While it’s not impossible to tent camp with your pets, I wouldn’t recommend it. Cats can rip up the tent with their claws, and either escape or let mosquitos and rain in. Dogs would probably keep you up all night with all the sounds and scents happening just outside your campsite.

Preparing Meals: Cooking while camping is totally do-able, except that you have to get creative sometimes if you want something besides hot dogs cooked on a stick. You’re also definitely limited to what you can make over the fire.

Privacy: You have none. You’re out in the open with neighbors all around you. Sure, you can go into your tent to be out of sight, but you can still hear everyone, and they can still hear you.

Nighttime Temps: If it’s a hot, steamy night- or a chilly one, you’ll have more trouble sleeping. Try to go when the nighttime weather is just right, or you’ll have the worst time trying to falling asleep.

This post is not meant to dissuade you from camping or even at least trying tent camping out for yourself! These are my personal experiences, and most of these difficulties didn’t start showing themselves until several years of tent camping has passed. I still think tent camping can be right for some folks out there. Check out my other post What to Know Before Your First Camping Trip!

Seven Myths of Traveling

I’m sure we’ve all heard other people’s opinions on traveling, and why some simply don’t do it. I’m here to break down these common misconceptions about traveling and show that while there may be some truths to these ideas about traveling, they’re for the most part not true!

Myth Number 1: Traveling is Expensive I could go on and on about this topic, and I feel like this is the top reason why many people limit their traveling to once a year or less. So, yes, you do need to save some money for a trip. But, in today’s age, there are so many resources out there to save you money while traveling! From smartphone apps, to coupons, to cheap home rentals, this excuse just doesn’t hold up very much anymore. And, when traveling, stick to a budget like you would with anything else, try to only spend money on things you really want to experience-or can’t experience back home. Your wallet will thank you!

Myth Number 2: A Plane Ride is the Only Way to Travel Try not to limit yourselves to strictly traveling by plane. This is usually more expensive (ahem, number 1) and you miss out on getting to see a lot of awesome sights along the way if you were to say travel by car or train instead.

Myth Number 3: You Have No Time to Travel Another one that I hear people say often. We travel several times through out the year. Some trips are a week long, some are longer weekends, while others are shorter weekend getaways. The point is that, if the wanderlust is there, you will find a way to get away from your day to day duties and go traveling.

Myth Number 4: You Need an SUV to Have Room for Your Belongings This is so not the case. We travel in a Toyota Camry and it allows us to have plenty of space for all that we need. Mind you, there’s only two of us, but we are able to pack plenty of clothes, food, supplies, and all our camping gear. Be creative with the space you have with a sedan and you may surprise yourself.

Myth Number 5: You’ll be Forced to Dine Out Every Meal I’m with you-it’s so nice to have someone else cook your meals and take care of all the clean up so you can have a more relaxing trip. However, this will rack up your food bill for the trip, as well as add to the scale once you get back home. To avoid this, plan out at least a few meals for your trip, and go shopping for all that you’ll need before you leave. Sometimes it’s just as nice to have an intimate meal at your ‘home’ on vacay.

Myth Number 6: Traveling is Dangerous I’m not going to argue and say that this is false. Because, yup, accidents happen to some people while traveling. The best advice I can give you is to use common sense and to not read everything you hear in the news. We visited Detroit a couple years ago, and came back home unscathed. It’s best to use common sense and stick to activities you’re comfortable with while traveling to avoid danger.

Myth Number 7: Foreign Traveling Conquers All This is another myth that makes me wince. Especially if you’re an American-there’s SO much to explore in your own country! Don’t discount all the adventures you can have right outside your door.

I hope you’ll break free of these myths now and travel more. Don’t let what I listed above keep you from traveling as often as possible.

What to Know Before Your First Camping Trip: 20 Useful Tips

So you want to start going on camping trips, huh? You’re at the right place, my friend. My fiance and I happen to be expert campers. We’ve been going on camping trips since we started dating 4.5 years ago and we get better and better at it every year. There’s a lot we’ve learned along the way, and I’d love to share all the useful tips with you about what to expect, what to avoid, and how to be prepared for your first camping trip-whether it’s a weekend getaway or a longer trip you’re wanting to take. We do strictly tent camping for now so that’s what my advice will cater to primarily, but these are generally great pieces of advice for any kind of campers.

Tip #1: Don’t bother bringing firewood with you This is actually a rule at almost every campground out there. This is because by bringing in firewood from some other location, you may be bringing in invasive species to the woods you’re camping in. It’s a big no no. The good news is that most places will sell you a bundle of firewood for a few dollars.

Tip #2: Some campgrounds don’t allow fires If this seems weird and downright stupid to you, then you’re not alone. This isn’t too common of a rule, but I have come across some campgrounds that don’t allow this. I am assuming it is a safety precaution. My advice with this is to keep shopping for a different place, as this is the major way to cook and of course to enjoy the evenings, amiright?

Tip #3: You’re gonna want to reserve a site with water & electric When reserving a site, you’ll see some sites marked as ‘primitive’. This is essentially for backpackers and you won’t have access to a water pump nor will there be any electric outlets. While I can appreciate roughing it and being one with nature and all, being without these two luxuries will inhibit you from having a successful camping trip-trust me.

Tip #4: Make sure they offer showers You’ll also come along campgrounds that don’t have any showers for their guests. Again, you don’t want to be roughing it to this extreme. You’ll be miserable, stinky, and feel super gross if you skip showering your whole trip.

Tip #5: Wifi isn’t guaranteed and shouldn’t be a necessity If you find a campground that offers wi-fi, then awesome! However, this is rare, and I definitely wouldn’t search high and low for one that offers this. It simply isn’t something you need for camping. Take screenshots on your phone, or print things off for anything you may need for your trip ahead of time.

Tip #6: Make sure you can park on site Some places make you park in a lot and then walk to your campsite…along with ALL of your belongings. You do NOT want to have to haul the cooler, tent, canopy, chairs, etc. to your campsite.

Tip #7: Always keep the tent zipped closed Along with debris getting in your tent, little critters of all sorts will also find their way in your tent when you’re not looking. Keep that sucker closed up at absolutely all times, or else you could wake up covered in a million mosquito bites- or worse.

Tip #8: Be mindful of the weather Book your trip with the weather in mind. If it’s going to be very cold or very hot at night, you’re likely to not get a wink of sleep!

Tip #9: Always wear Bugspray Just because mosquitos aren’t buzzing around you doesn’t mean you won’t get bit-by something. You won’t be able to spot a tick dropping from a tree and making their way over to you. It’s a good habit to always have some spray on you.

Tip #10: Put away food securely This means food, food wrappers, and even food still in their packages. You can throw your trashbag in your car’s trunk at night or go ahead and take it to the campground’s dump. For all other items, you should put them away in your vehicle, or the metal boxes at the campgrounds. This is not only for pests such as raccoons and birds, but especially for wildcats and bears looking for a meal while you’re sleeping or away from your site for a while.

Tip #11: Private vs Public Campgrounds This can be argued for both sides which type of campground is better, but I personally think a public campground is overall the best option when camping. Public ones are state or nationally owned and private are all others- ‘Ashley & Nathan’s Campground’ for example. Private is usually nicer, cleaner, and more updated (although not always) but they also can come with more rules such as earlier quiet time. I would read through the rules to decide which is right for you.

Tip #12: Flush Toilets and Pit Toilets Most campgrounds have flush toilets or a combination of the two. Just beware when choosing your specific site if there’s restrooms close by which kind they are. I’d have to go pretty damn bad to use pit-I’m just sayin’.

Tip #13: Be cautious when picking up wood When picking up firewood (or anything on the ground), look around the pile and give the log you’re eying up a little nudge. There’s sometime spiders or even mice found in the piles or hanging out on the logs and they might bite you. I’ve encountered both spiders and mice but no bites, thankfully. If you want to be extra cautious, wear gloves when grabbing the wood.

Tip #14: You will need to bring all your toiletries: The campground will provide toilet paper, but likely nothing else. You should bring your own shampoo and conditioner, soap, facewash, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.

Tip #15: The more amenities included, the higher the price You’ll run into a resort style campgrounds with the privtae ones. They’ll offer anything from waterslides, to horshoes and other games. These are nice but makes for a pricier camping trip, so just keep that in mind.

Tip #16: Speed Limit The speed limit at camprgounds is very slow. They literally want you to creep through the property to get to your site. If you break their rules, they can kick you out.

Tip #17: Arrive before dark to set up Be conscientious of how long it takes to get to the camprgound for your first night. You don’t want to set everything up in the dark with nothing but a flashlight.

Tip #18: Set up the tent first Setting up your campsite can be overwhelming so what I’d suggest is setting up your tent first! This will allow you to set everything up that goes in the tent next, and will leave all other supplies (chairs, canopy, cookware) for last.

Tip #19: Shop for supplies before you leave Don’t put off a shoping trip for when you arrive. It’s much better to do all or the majority of your shopping for supplies and food before you leave in your own town. You know where to go, you know where everything is in the stores you usually go to. You’ll be at a disadvantage if you wait til you arrive at the location of your camping trip, plus it’s a time consuming activity when you should be relaxing or doing fun stuff!

Tip #20: 2 night minimum some campgrounds may require you to book at least 2 nights in a row on weekends or on or near a major holiday-just like hotels. If you’re only exploring one area for your trip, then it won’t be a problem. But if you’re like us who hop around on trips to different areas, this could cause an issue. Try to pick the area you want to do the most exploring for a weekend stay so you won’t have that problem.

A lot of these tips come down to really one thing, and that is: read the fine print! Be very conscientious of the rules as every single campground has got ’em- whether they’re public or privately owned. The idea of a camping trip is to travel without many luxuries but not to the point that you’re robbing yourself of basic human needs. Enjoy the outdoors but by all means be prepared to the max. Happy camping!

7 Tips for a Family Vacation

Thinking of embarking on a vacation with the whole fam soon? I think that’s a great idea! But I also think you should put some thought into some do’s and dont’s before you hit ‘book vacation’. A couple years ago, Nate and I went on a family vacation to Cape Cod and Niagara Falls with his parents and siblings and while we got to see some awesome stuff, there’s definitely some things we learned along the way. Here’s my suggestions below…

  1. Limit the Number of People: The word ‘family’ can be a broad term so let’s just stick to immediate family as far as who will be going on this trip with you. So that would be parents and siblings and their S/O’s. Any more than that would be mega stressful I can imagine. There were 7 of us on our family trip and that was plenty! The more people you have, the more people you have to consider and keep track of.
  2. To Fly or to Drive: Now that you’ve got your number of people decided on, how are you going to get there? We drove on ours and it took two days and two cars to get to our destination. Looking back, I would say it would be more expensive, but also more efficient to fly instead. This is because you have to stop so many times with that many people for breaks, as well as for gas with that many cars and hours on the road. It makes getting there even more of a lengthy drive. If your family is small-choose the car and hit the road. If it’s a big group-fly baby, fly.
  3. This is No Time for Spontaneity: Leave last minute decisions and activities at home, people. When you’re traveling with X amount of people, you’re going to want to plan out EVERYTHING and thus get all your tickets and seats purchased ahead of time.
  4. Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to tell the group if there’s something you want to see or do while on your trip. As long as you say so ahead of time (see Tip #3), then it should be fair game for anyone who wants to add in an activity. This is your vacation, too.
  5. Find Alone Time: If your family doesn’t go for that activity you want to do, then this would be a great opportunity to do something alone. You’ll get sick of each other if you spend every waking minute together. Spending at least a day or evening apart on a multi-day trip is no big deal and it will give you a breather from the group.
  6. You Don’t Have to Stay the Whole Time: Is this a week long trip as opposed to a long weekend getaway? If so, be part of the vacation for as long as you feel comfortable. Whether it be because you can’t get away from work, or you’re concerned with spending that much time together with everyone, I’m sure your family will understand if you can only stay for part of the time. I’ll bet they would rather you do that than not come at all, so don’t feel obligated to stay the whole week.
  7. Discuss Your Financial Contribution: This can be brought up when everyone is talking activities to do on the trip, but I would definitely ask what your expectations are so you can budget accordingly. Are you paying for one part of the whole trip, only your needs, or nothing at all? However y’all work it out, I would at least have some kind of idea of what you’ll be spending.

There you have it! Those are my best tips to offer you if you’re planning a family vacation. The most important thing to do of course is to have fun and make memories!

Relocating South: What to Know Before You Go

Do you currently live in a northern US state and looking to head south? Before you relocate, there are a few topics we need to discuss so that you’re fully prepared and happy with your decision of heading down to the dirty south. I live in the north now, but I lived in the south for 22 years of my life. Here’s my list of tips, advice, and what to think about:

Fashion is delayed Certain fashion and hairstyle trends for men and women may appear to be a bit delayed in the south. The look on a lot of people will seem so ‘last season’. I’m not sure why this is, and it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who lives in the south. By moving from a northern state, you may have the best style around! Speaking of fashion, people also tend to dress a little more modest and may gawk if you don’t. Individualism and expression with style is harder to find as well. People in the south are more comfortable blending in with their neighbor than standing out.

You’ll See Churches with Different Sects of Christianity Popular sects of Christianity in the south are Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal to name a few. It may be more difficult to find a church or religion that hold your beliefs here, as they differ from those of the north.

There are Dry Counties and Hours It’s very common for stores to stop selling booze by a certain hour of the day, not at all on Sunday, or even not at all in a particular county. They call them ‘dry counties’. If you’re one who enjoys a drink fairly often, I’d look up any possible dry counties in your state of interest.

All the Bugs! The summers here are much longer and therefore the bugs and insects hang around outside-or inside-for more months out of the year. Stock up on bug spray, and it would definitely behoove you to invest in a dehumidifier (thank me later). You’ll also see a lot of different species of bugs that are larger, and with wings!

Marrying Young It’s also common in the southern states to marry young-some people right out of high school even. The south gives a whole new meaning to ‘high school sweethearts’. It’s simply a way of life for some people there. I know several old classmates from high school who married the person they were dating at the time.

Long Summers As I mentioned earlier, a southern summer is long and hot. It starts getting warm here and there in March and you won’t see a chilly day until about November. In my personal opinion, it’s pretty rad that it starts warming up in March but honestly by October you’re ready for it to cool off and you still got about another month to go! Also, the summers aren’t quite as enjoyable as the temp can reach 100 degrees in July and August. Whew!

No A/C is in fact the end of the World Because the summers here are so hot, you’re gonna want to take central and car air conditioning quite seriously. It is possible to get a heat stroke and it sure makes it hard to sleep at night in the relentless heat. Most homes and cars will come equipped with this amenity, but be sure you don’t waste time getting it repaired if something breaks!

There’s a Lot of Strays People have pets here, sure but what isn’t as common is people spaying their animals, and they let them roam outside more often in an unfenced yard. That makes for a lot more stray cats and dogs than what you might see in other parts of the country. This always saddens me; I hate seeing all those babies without a home.

The Job Market This varies from state to state but there are a lot of industries hiring in the south. And a lot that aren’t. Trades and tech degrees and certificates seem to go a long way here, whereas 4 year arts degrees aren’t as thriving in the south. Word to the wise- whatever your educational background may be, scope out the job market in the areas you’re looking to move to before quitting the job you’re at now.

Everywhere you live comes with a list of pros and cons, and the south is no different. It definitely has its perks and I totally miss living in that area of the country at times. What gets me through is reading my list of books set in the southern US. I highly recommend reading these if you’re planning on moving to the south!

How to Feed your Wanderlust While Working a Full-Time Job

Sounds like a challenge, right? It can be. I am wanderlusting 24/7 while holding down a 40-hour a week job. I manage to travel multiple times a year. But how, you ask? How do I have time to fit it all in? Let me show you the way:

Strategy #1 Travel around a national holiday: Ok, so this is my best strategy and the one I most depend on to get all my vacations in each and every year. For our week-long vacations, we center them around a national holiday because we get one or two paid days off from work depending on which holiday you travel during. We are gone over Memorial Day week, Labor Day week, and Thanksgiving week. So, instead of asking off work for five days, we only need to request 3 or 4 days away. By doing this, we save several vacation days a year to put towards other trips!

Strategy #2 Negotiate more PTO at your job: Most corporations or large companies will give you any where from one to two weeks of PTO (paid time off) during your first year of working there, along with about 7 paid national holidays off in the U.S. That’s not much, I know. With my current employer, I receive 3 weeks and have from the get go. However, at my previous job, I was offered one measly week but that just wouldn’t do what with all my wanderlusting, y’all. So, I negotiated an extra week totaling two weeks instead, yaye! Negotiating vacation time when starting a new job is totally doable. I would explain to them that low PTO it is a deal breaker for you (put in nicer terms) and that traveling is something you deem highly important in your life. Hey, everyone’s got their hobbies, right? Yours just happens to be seeing the world and until teleportation is invented, traveling just takes time, simple as that. Up for a review at your job? This is another opportunity to ask for more vacation days. The worst they can say is no! But it’s worth a shot.

Strategy #3 Don’t just stick to one area during your whole vacation: You don’t really want to only hang out at the beach for a whole week, do you? Let’s get some bucket list destinations in! When I vacay, I try to hit up as many different attractions and activities as I can in one general area. I’ll stick to one spot for a day or two and then move on. Ok, so you’re not going to see everything that one spot has to offer, but what you gain is seeing multiple different cities, states, national parks, etc. in one whole trip by changing up the scenery! I’d recommend limiting the number of spots you want to get to as too many can be overkill and stressful but I would at least try to make it to a couple different destinations within a day’s drive from each other.

Strategy #4 Consider a weekend getaway: I love a good week-long trip so I can see all kinds of different places over one vacation. However, something can be said about a weekend getaway. Pick a place that’s about a half-day’s drive and leave on a Friday after work. This way you’ll get all of Saturday and most of Sunday to go exploring! By traveling this way you get to fit some traveling in without dropping a lot of cash and you won’t have to use any vacation days!

That’s it-that’s how I do it, folks! If you love traveling as much as I do, where there’s a will there’s a way so try these out this year to meet your traveling goals. Comment below how you manage to travel often while working full time!

6 Things to Know Before Visiting Miami

Miami is an awesome city to visit! But, there are things I wish I’d known before I went so I was better prepared and faced less frustrations on my trip! I’m hoping the followng six pieces of advice will help you:

  1. There are Beggers: I am not referring to homeless people here…instead I am talking about the restaurants. We noticed specifically in Miami Beach while walking up and down the streets restaurant employees would nearly be begging you to come into their restaurant for lunch or dinner. I thought this was strange as I’d never seen this anywhere else in the country before.
  2. A Trip to Miami Makes for a Pricey Vacation: This is an expensive city to visit! It’s so worth the cash you’ll be dropping here, but just letting you know so you can plan and budget accordingly.
  3. Forecasted rain=no rain: We visited Miami in October which is their ‘shoulder season’. Heavy rain is expected in Summer, while little rain is present in the Winter here. However, if you see on the forecast that it will rain every day on a Fall trip, don’t listen! It was supposed to rain our whole time here and we didn’t get one drop-at least not during the day while out and about.
  4. It’s HOT: Miami gets extremely warm-even at night! I don’t think this place ever cools off. You’ll be sweating in pants for sure so dress for hot weather!
  5. Street parking is a pain: We rented a car for our Miami trip and drove all over town to different sites. If you can find a free spot, it may take you a while to figure out how to actually pay for it! And you definitely want to pay, because you will totally get towed or ticketed. Several times we went to pay at a machine and it would be out of order and/or wouldn’t take card or cash. The best thing to do is park then pay through their app Park Mobile. It will prompt you for your zone number (listed on a sidewalk sign) and then you can enter in your card info to pay.
  6. Opt for a land animal: If you’re like me you’re thinking ‘Oh, great we’re in Miami so I’m going to stuff my face with all the seafood!’ Yeah, I don’t advise that. I tried a few fish plates at various restaurants thinking they’re going to be amazing because we’re right on the ocean and all and was disappointed every time. It wasn’t until I switched to beef and chicken plates until I truly had a delicious meal in Miami.

I wish for none of the above to deter you from your Miami excursion. It’s a wonderful place to visit! Check out my other posts on Miami to read more about this oceanside paradise: Where to Eat in Miami that Won’t Break the Bank and What to do in Miami.

9 Tips for Visiting Las Vegas

Have you ever been to Las Vegas?? If you haven’t, you must go because it’s incredible and an experience you won’t forget! We went for the first time a couple years ago for my golden birthday and our 2 year anniversary and had an amazing time. BUT, we learned so much of what not to do and what to prepare for when we go next time! Read below for my 10 tips to help you out on your visit to The Entertainment Capital of the World.

Tip #1 Say yes to being part of the show: We went to see Blue Man Group (eek!) and they put on such an incredible show! When we walked in to take our seats, we were asked by one the employees if we wanted to be part of the show, though we didn’t get much details beyond that. I was hesitant but Nate was all for it so we agreed. About 30 minutes in, they came and grabbed us where they put us way in the back, and gave us much better seats closer to the stage. We were pretending to be ‘late’ to the show so everyone could boo us but we got spotlighted and all these ridiculous alarms went off-it was really fun and I’m glad we got to be part of the experience!

Tip #2 Rent a car only to explore outside the city: If you plan on leaving the strip for a day or even two, then definitely arrange a rental car to head outta town. But, if you’re wanting to stay put right on the strip for the duration of your trip then Uber, Monorail, or walking is the way to go. The strip is very long and high traffic so you’ll be waiting at light after light forever to get to your destination.

Tip #3 Your excursion out of town will likely be packed with people: We went to Zion National Park for a day and it was so busy with people. Of course, all the national parks that are a day’s drive from Las Vegas are all the really popular ones whether you’re going to Arizona, California, or Utah to hit up a park. Just don’t be disappointed if your intention was to get away from the crowds in Vegas only to run into more large groups of people again.

Tip #4 Expect to shell out the big bucks: Las Vegas is so not a budget destination in the US. Expect to pay top dollar for all that you do. I’m not saying that all that you’ll see and do isn’t worth the money you’ll be spending, just don’t fret about the cash you’re dropping. It’s wise to cap your spending at some amount, of course, but I would say focus more on having a good time.

Tip #5 Huge Crowds: As I mentioned in #3 above, there are huge crowds all over the strip. We traveled here in October which is considered the shoulder season and STILL there were so many people everywhere you went. This didn’t bother us, but if you’re someone who simply can’t stand the crowds then I would say visit during a very slow month.

Tip #6 Bring cash with you: This is a good rule of thumb for traveling anywhere, but I specifically remember in Vegas always needing more cash than we had on hand at some places we went.

Tip #7 Wear comfortable shoes: I know literally everyone and your grandma will warn you of this before visiting Las Vegas, but wear comfortable shoes!! I mean it! And I don’t mean sandals, either. Bring some sort of tinnie shoe to wear for walking up and down the strip, or your feet will pay the price.

Tip #8 Don’t be coerced into paying a higher tip amount than your comfy with: Some of the employees who make their living off tips may try to persuade you into paying a higher gratuity amount than necessary. Don’t give in to them! Simply say no and walk away. It’ll put a bad taste in your mouth if you succumb, plus you’ll already be dropping a lot of dough on this vacation as it is. Stick to what you think is fair for a tip and leave it at that.

Tip #9 Try not to be offended by what you see on the strip: While visiting Las Vegas, you’ll see everything from little to no clothing donning some people, to homeless people going through withdrawals, and even shocking public performances, as well as advertisements for female company. Hey, it’s Vegas baby, so try not to let any of those things take away from enjoying yourself while you’re here.

I hope this list helps you when planning your trip to Las Vegas! We had such an incredible time here, we can’t wait to go again soon with all that we learned from our first visit.