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Summer Travel Safety 101

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Exploring a new town, city, or country can be an exciting time. It can also be a time of unknown, wondering what could happen and whether your new location will be safe. However, there are several ways to ensure your travels are safe, while still having a memorable time.

Leave an itinerary and emergency contact: Before leaving for your trip, leave your itinerary and contact information with a trusted friend or family member. Your itinerary doesn’t have to be down to every detail, but give them the basics as to where you’ll be and when. Try to check in with them often, so that in case something does happen, they can contact authorities.

Choose your transportation wisely: Research transportation companies and their safety records before starting out, especially if you are traveling abroad. Avoid less-safe vehicles by making sure your mode of transport is in good condition and has working seat belts. According to the World Health Organization, the number one death for U.S. citizens abroad are motor vehicle crashes.

Secure your items and leave valuables at home: It is very important to secure your luggage, money, and other items when traveling. Keep your valuables, such as laptop, jewelry, and other expensive items at home to avoid them being stolen or lost. As for your luggage, always have locks on it. TSA-approved padlocks are great to prevent airport security from taking them off and having your things falling out after inspection. If you need to secure your bags, use a backpack and a bag mesh protector. Your bags will be in a wire mesh, where you can lock them inside. When you are in your room, use a travel door alarm on your luggage to make you aware of any suspicious activity or tampering when you are out sightseeing. Lastly, always remember to secure your money. Travel wallets that strap to parts of your body are dependable. Whenever I travel, I use a cross-body purse to carry my belongings. Other travel wallets can strap to your legs, waist, and shoulders. Also, let your bank and credit card companies know when you are traveling, especially overseas. Remember to not flash your money every time you pay for something. Also, be protective of your cell phones. It is common for thieves to grab cell phones out in public.

Stay alert: When you’re in a new city, stay alert to your surroundings. Your surroundings include the areas you are traveling to, buildings, and people around you. If someone is making you uncomfortable, walk away in either the direction you came from or a quicker way out. Head towards a safer, more touristy/populated area. If they follow, find the authorities. Try to blend in and not take on the typical tourist look. Don’t have a map sticking out of your bag or pocket, or a camera around your neck. These actions are a giveaway that you are unfamiliar with the area and a tourist. Instead, dress like the locals and be alert when using your camera, maps, etc. An important part of staying alert when traveling is always having an escape route. For your room, take note of the map on the back of your door and familiarize yourself with the emergency routes. Also, if you are venturing into unknown areas, be aware of the buildings and landmarks. If you feel unsafe, go into a café, shop, or restaurant, until you are more comfortable.

Be aware of your location’s safety: The State Department is a great resource to check whether or not there are travel alerts and warnings for your destination. In addition, you can find out what possible vaccinations you need and local laws. Be sure to check on the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Within this program, you can register your travel plans and if an emergency occurs, the State Department will be able to notify you.

Traveling to new places and touring unfamiliar sites is one of the best things a person can do. It’s a time to make new memories, fall in love with new places, and learn about other parts of the world. However, it is important to always be safe and alert when traveling. Using the tips above will help make sure your trip is stress-free and a memorable adventure.

 

 

 

Article published by The 20 Something Traveler in Forsyth Woman magazine, July 2017.

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A Look Inside America’s National Treasures

We all know them by name, the classic national treasures that reflect the history of America. But, do you know the history behind these famous landmarks and sites? From the Liberty Bell to Mount Rushmore, I’ll take a look inside some of the most popular national treasures in America.

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The Liberty Bell – Known for its iconic crack, the Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bell used to be referred to as the State House Bell, because its old location was the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell was created for the bell tower in 1751 by the Whitechapel Foundry in London. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Isaac Norris, headed up the bell’s creation. However, a new bell had to be made after the first bell from London cracked during the first ring test. Metalworkers John Pass and John Stow soon developed the bell in Philadelphia. The bell was rung to call lawmakers to their meetings and townspeople together for important news. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the Liberty Bell became a symbol of liberty.

When it comes to the Liberty Bell, there are two famous symbols located on it. First, the crack. There are different theories as to why the bell cracked, but many believe it occurred during the 1840s, after 90 years of use. However, the split you see in the bell today is actually a repair job. In 1846, Philadelphia decided to repair the crack in the bell for George Washington’s birthday. Metal workers used a technique called “stop drilling” to widen the crack to prevent further spreading and to restore the bell’s tone. Sadly, this repair led to another crack and the Liberty Bell has not been rung since.

The second symbol is the bell’s inscription—“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” This verse comes from Leviticus 25:10 and was chosen by Norris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges. The Liberty Bell’s message was also used by abolitionists to end slavery.

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The Statue of Liberty – “Lady Liberty,” one of the best-known landmarks of the New York skyline, was actually a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was dedicated as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy on October 28, 1886, and became a National Monument in 1924. The Statue of Liberty has a few key symbols associated with her, such as the torch, crown and face, the tablet and dates, and the chains. Lady Liberty’s torch was restored in 1986, and the original 1886 torch is located in an exhibit for all to see. The new torch is covered with 24k gold sheets. As for the crown and face, the iconic crown has seven rays, one for each of the seven continents, and her face is more than 8 feet tall. As for the monument’s tablet and dates, the 23-foot, seven-inch-long-tablet has the inscription “July IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776). Lastly, Lady Liberty’s broken chains represent the cessation of oppression and tyranny.

When visiting the Statue of Liberty, there are two ways to climb inside the monument. First, you can either walk/climb the 215 steps from the lobby to the top of the pedestal, or you can take the elevator. From my own experience, there is nothing better than the view of New York, Ellis Island, and the surrounding areas from the top of the pedestal. Another way is to visit the monument’s crown. Access to the crown is only available with advance tickets. Tickets are also needed for the pedestal.

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Mount Rushmore – Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln can be seen for miles throughout the Black Hills National Forest. These four presidential faces are visited by more than three million people annually in their home at Mount Rushmore. The mountain’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose these four presidents based on their important events and contributions to history. Borglum led over 400 workers in carving the monument, which they began in 1927 and completed in 1941. A total of 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed to create the heads. Borglum’s original plan was to show the presidents from the waist up. However, lack of funding stopped the carving after the faces were completed.

Today, Mount Rushmore is known as the “Shrine of Democracy.” On July 4, 1930, a dedication ceremony was held for the head of George Washington. The remaining three presidents each had their dedication ceremonies between 1936 and 1939. After Borglum’s death in 1941, his son took over the job and completed Mount Rushmore’s final details. It is known as a “Shrine of Democracy” because of Borglum’s intention for the monument was to promote the “continuance of the democratic-republican form of government throughout the world.”

The Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore are just a few of the many classic national treasures in America. The list of beautiful places can go on and on, and all are on my own personal list of places to visit.

 

 

Article published by The 20 Something Traveler in Forsyth Family Magazine, June 2017

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Summer Travel on a Budget

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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

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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

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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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