Author Archives: 20traveler

Summer Travel on a Budget

Icon. Traveler luggage with hand drawn clothes and icons on

As of Wednesday, June 21st, it is officially summer! With summer comes no school, longer days, and more traveling. However, taking trips can be expensive. But, never fear, there are still ways to travel and enjoy the summer season without breaking the bank.

Start a Travel Fund: Start collecting your spare change or setting aside money for an upcoming trip. You can also create a savings account just for traveling. Little by little your money will add up, and before you know it, you’ll be in your dream vacation spot.

Go During the Middle of the Week: Did you know hotel rates and other travel expenses are lower during the middle of the week than the weekends? Try going on vacation during the week. You’ll end up saving more money and won’t have to deal with crowds at popular tourist attractions. Another way to save is to travel during the off-season. Research your destination and see when the crowds are the lowest. For some places, winter is the highest tourist time, while summer is the busiest for other destinations.

Visit Nearby Destinations: While staying in one place, explore the surrounding areas. For example, if you are staying in a major city, take the time to venture out to nearby tourist attractions. This will save you time and money without having to plan another trip.

Have a Staycation: There are probably places in your own hometown you have never explored! Take a day or two and get to know your city a little bit more. Visit the little, unknown places, historic sites, and more. You never know what history you’ll learn about your hometown. Also, read your newspaper and look online for free events and festivals to take part in.

Research Your Accommodations: Hotels aren’t the only place to stay while on vacation. Vacation rental websites, such as Airbnb.com and VRBO.com, are great places to search for cheaper accommodations in different cities. Plus, you’ll get to live like a local while exploring a new place. Another benefit is the possibility of having a kitchen, where you can make your meals and save on food. Be sure to read the rentals’ ratings and reviews before booking.

Take Advantage of Free Things: There is no shame in taking advantage of free entertainment, attractions, and transportation while on a trip. Sites like museums and parks can be free to visitors. Also, look into your location’s events, including concerts, art shows, and more to experience. Another way to save money is by using public transportation or, when possible, walking.

Fly Right: Prices for plane tickets vary throughout the time of the year and day of the week. It is recommended you purchase your tickets 50 to 100 days before your trip. Another way to save money is research prices through travel websites, such as Kayak, Expedia, and Airfarewatchdog.com. Try to plan your departures on a Thursday and returns on Monday to save more. When traveling abroad, fly to your destination during the off-season for cheaper airfares.

Use Travel Saving Websites and Apps: When it comes to any trip, the best thing you can do while planning is to research the best deals for accommodations, transportation, and more. An easy way to compare prices is by using travel saving websites and apps. In addition to the websites listed above, the Travel Channel recommends using jetsetter.combudgetplaces.com, and momondo.com.

Save Money on Food: You don’t have to eat out every meal while on vacation. When you first arrive, go to the grocery store and stock up on the essentials and items, such as sandwich supplies and easy to-go meals. This way you can pack your lunch, dinner, and snacks to take with you while site-seeing. Plan to splurge and eat out for maybe one or two good meals during your trip, and pack the rest.

Vacation expenses can quickly add up when you aren’t looking. However, there are still ways to save money and have the time of your life exploring a new place and making memories.

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Taking the Stress Out of Traveling with Kids

Traveling-With-Kids

It’s summer time! And with summertime come trips and family vacations. Spending long hours traveling in a car, on a plane, or another mode of transportation can be tiring on both parents and children. But, there are tricks to keeping kids engaged and not asking the typical, “Are we there yet?”

Keep the Activities Coming: Pack a travel bag full of games, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, and more to keep your kids occupied. If you are traveling for several hours, try handing out a new item once per hour. Take the travel bag a step further and create a small bag for each child. This bag can be a pencil pouch or something of a similar size and include items that are interesting to that child. Lastly, play family games along the way. Have printable road bingo or a road trip scavenger hunt. Another classic family game is the license plates game, where everyone competes to see how many different license plates they can find. When traveling by airplane, it can be hard to pack all of these items into your carry-on. Instead, try downloading kid-friendly apps with games and videos on your iPhone or iPad. This way, your children will stay engaged in an activity other than running up and down the aisles of the plane.

Pack a Snack Bag without Sweets: Kids will get hungry going from place to place. Be sure to have their favorite treats to ease their hunger and avoid the hangry mood (hungry plus angry). However, remember one thing: don’t include sweets. There is nothing worse than being in a public tourist attraction with a child having a sugar rush. Include in the bag savory treats like cheese cubes, pretzels, fruit, and veggies. Don’t forget water to drink!

Start a Travel Journal: Put an educational spin on your trip and have your kids start a travel journal. This travel journal can include drawings, lists, and stories about the interesting places you visit, food you eat, and the various activities you do. Also, collect postcards from the different places. With these postcards, you can either write a message on the back and mail them to yourself or include them in the journal. Another way to engage your kids in the travel journal is to give them a camera to take pictures. This child-friendly camera will allow kids to capture their favorite sites and what interests them. Types of cameras can include disposable or Polaroid.

Have a First-Aid Kit and a Clean-up Kit: When you are traveling with kids, anything can happen. Be prepared with a First-Aid kit and a clean-up kit for spills. In the First-Aid kit, include band aids, gauze pads, a digital thermometer, cold pack, sunscreen, bug spray, aloe vera, saline solution, antibacterial wipes, medicine, and anything else you would normally include. For the clean-up kit, put in antibacterial wipes, paper towels, small garbage bags, zip-lock bags, and extra clothing and diapers.

Plan Ahead: Plan your trip and make your reservations well in advance. Along with hotel and flight reservations, buy tickets for attractions ahead of time. In addition, plan out a schedule for your trip, including the various activities for each day. Check out the websites for the places you’ll visit, see the nearby restaurants, and other sites to help your trip go smoothly. However, one of the most important things to remember is to stay flexible! If you have one attraction planned for a day and end up doing something else, don’t worry! Don’t plan too much or too little. The ultimate goal of the trip is to have fun and make memories with your family. Also, have a plan of what you’re going to pack in regard to clothes for your kids. Have a to-do list and schedule of what needs to be done in the final days leading up to your trip.

Bring Your Child’s Must-need Items: Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket—anything they normally carry around and need to have at home. These items will help kids feel safe and comfortable while exploring new surroundings. Plus, it might help prevent some emotional break-downs.

Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful. However, use the tips above to ease that stress and create lasting family memories.

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Simply Carolina: My NC Bucket List

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I absolutely love my home state of North Carolina! From the mountains to the coast and everything in between, the Tarheel has something for everyone. This state is full of historic sites and attractions that are must-sees. Even though I have live here for my whole life, there are still many things I want to experience. Here is my NC bucket list.

  • Climb Old Baldy on Bald Head Island
  • Go to the ghost town of Portsmouth
  • Visit NC potters in Seagrove
  • Visit the Life and Science Museum in Durham
  • Climb Mount Mitchell
  • Visit the Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill, the oldest restaurant in NC.
  • Visit St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath, the oldest church in the state.
  • Go to a race at the Orange County Speedway
  • Run on an old Nascar track in Hillsborough
  • Do some shagging, shucking and jiving at the NC Oyster Festival
  • Raft the Nantahala
  • Climb the stairs to the top of the Corolla Lighthouse.
  • Take a dip in Lake Lure, the setting for that famous scene in Dirty Dancing.
  • Tour the USS North Carolina.
  • See the wild ponies at Shackleford Banks.
  • Slip down Sliding Rock.
  • Learn about sea turtle rescue at Topsail.
  • Visit the Carolina Raptor Center at Latta Plantation.
  • Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
  • Paddle board on the Intracoastal Waterway.
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A Quick Trip to Savannah, Georgia

savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Ah – Savannah, Georgia – one of my favorite Southern cities! There are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to the coastal, river city.  Here are the must-sees, must-eats, and tips.

  1. City Market in the Historic District
  2. Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
  3. Riverboat Cruise or Dolphin Magic Tour
  4. Samantha Claar Gullah Living
  5. Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

Restaurants to Try:

  1. Tubby’s Seafood River Street
  2. Belford’s of Savannah
  3. Sandfly BBQ
  4. Savannah Theatre
  5. The Olde Pink House

Tips to Use: 

  1. Looking for a boat or ferry tour? Contact Savannah Belles Ferry for great deals and information. They’re contact information is on: http://www.catchacat.org.
  2. Savannah’s peak seasons are spring and fall. Try going between November and the end of January during the low season.
  3. Look into the different festivals throughout the year that might interest you. The city is known for it’s St. Patrick’s Day fun. There is also the Savannah Music Festival and the Sidewalk Arts Festival.
  4. To save money on food, the Savannah Menu Card can be a huge help. These special deals range from free appetizer to discounts. For more information, visit: http://www.savannahmenu.com.
  5. You can also save on hotels, by visiting: http://www.stayinsavannah.com.
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Simply Carolina: Emerald Isle, NC

For today’s Simply Carolina, we are heading to the beach at Emerald Isle, NC! Here the top 5 can’t miss attractions in Emerald Isle.

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Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier

The Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier is a great place to take in the sites of the island. You might even catch a fish or two, while there!

Source: http://www.bogueinletpier.com/index.htm

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Flatwaters Paddling

Grab a paddle and hit the waters of Emerald Isle! You can also rents kayaks and canoes for everyone to enjoy.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/PaddlingNC

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Emerald Isle Adventures

Join Captain Roy Heverly for a day of fishing and fun! Boat rentals are also available.

Source: http://www.emeraldisleadventures.com/Home_Page.php

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Fort Macon

A personal favorite of mine! Fort Macon is located just 20 minutes from Emerald Isle. Once a Civil War fort, this historic site is now a favorite among visitors to the area.

Source: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/foma/main.php

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Emerald Forest Putt-Putt

What trip to the beach is complete without a round of putt-putt?

Source: http://www.emeraldislerealty.com/area-info/emerald-forest-putt-putt

Trust me, Emerald Isle is one of my favorite places to visit!

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Yonder…Southerners and Directions

Google Maps, Mapquest, GPS…these are all devices that give directions; however, in the South, there is one word to describe all types of directions…yonder.

“It’s over yonder.” We all know where yonder is. It’s past the church, around the corner at town square, and through the cotton field. Ok, ok, yonder is a different direction for everyone, but it helps a Southerner give directions to a distinct place.

No matter where your yonder is, all Southerners know one thing: yonder is anywhere below 39, 43…the Mason Dixon line.

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Simply Carolina: Charleston Shrimp and Grits 



Nothing is better than delicious food from the Low Country of South Carolina. One of my go-to meals while in Charleston is the classic shrimp and grits. Now, you can make them right in your own home! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 tsp salt + dash
  • 1 cup stone ground grits 
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Bring the water, milk, 1 cup butter and salt to a boil.  Add the grits and stir.  Cook over low heat 30 minutes, stirring often. Add the cheese and stir, cook an additional 10 minutes.  
  2. Meanwhile in a large saucepan, cook bacon until brown, remove and leave grease in pan.  Mix in shrimp and cook for 5 minutes.  
  3. Chop bacon and return to pan along with lemon juice, parsley, cayenne and garlic.  Cook 2-3 minutes. 
  4.  Spoon grits into bowl and top with shrimp mixture.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy! 

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Eating My Way Through Epcot

There is nothing better than traveling throughout the world in a day’s time…except eating your way through it. Here are my top five snacks from Epcot’s World Showcase. Yum!

Caramel S’mores from Karamell Kuche in the German Pavilion

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Funnel Cake with Ice Cream from the Funnel Cake Cart in the America Pavilion

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Gelato Cookie Sandwich in the Italy Pavilion

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Palmier from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion

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Berry Cream Puff from  Kringa Bakeri og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion

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Simply Carolina: My Favorite Things about NC

June 26

North Carolina-one of my favorite places in the world. Trust me, I could make you fall in love with all things about the Tarheel state and here’s why:

1. We have the best of both worlds-beautiful mountains and beaches.

2. UNC v. Duke basketball rivalry is a can’t miss.

3. The Wright Brothers and the gift of aviation.

4. We have all four seasons.

5. BBQ–need I say more?

6. There is a city for all types of people.

7. There are TONS of places to have fun for a day-trip, such as Carowinds, The Biltmore Estate, and the Outer Banks.

8. We all know the wonderful taste of Cheerwine.

9. North Carolina is known as “The Hollywood of the East Coast.”

10. You can’t beat the music and musicians from the state. James Taylor, Scotty McCreery, Ben Folds….(the list goes on and on 🙂 )

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Winter in Europe



“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” These song lyrics are never more true than when you are in Europe during the winter. While the temperatures are chilling and snow covers most of the ground, there is also no better time to travel to this continent. The scenery of the different countries is beautiful and you’ll leave with tears in your eyes, wanting to stay. Here are your top tips for planning your trip for winter in Europe.

Where to Go:

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hungary

When to Go: 

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

What to Pack:

  • Fleece Jacket
  • Insulated Coat
  • Warm Pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Wooly Socks
  • Winter Shoes
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