Visiting All 50 States

One of the many reasons I envy Europeans is because their countries are relatively close together which allows them to visit a whole other culture that is basically in their backyard.

The United States is so huge that seeing the whole thing is a big task, especially if you’re like me and you also want to see the whole entire world!! But I have made it a goal now to spend quality time in every one of the 50 states. We’ve begun chipping away at the East Coast with weekend trips, but I reallllly need to get out to the West Coast soon! Check out my progress which I will be updating every couple of months! How many states have you been to?

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

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The Nervous Traveler

I’m pretty much always convinced something is going to go wrong when I travel. I get to the airport early, print out all my receipts, and check my luggage about 50 times to make sure I have everything.

Yet, I always get nervous. Even though nothing has ever drastically gone wrong, I always think that it will all go downhill for me.

I think this mostly stems from how much money I put into travel with very little insurance. What if I miss my flight? That costs money. What if the Uber’s are upcharging when we need a ride? That costs money. What if I forget something really important? That costs money.

Like clockwork, every time I have a trip the hours leading up to it include a nervous stomach and a migraine. My only tips for someone traveling with a nervous travel is to constantly assure them.

My boyfriend and I travel together a lot and I do 90% of the planning, when he assures me nothing will go wrong I have a hard time believing him because I planned it so I know the possibilities. But that’s his job, I plan and he makes sure I don’t go nuts.

But in the end, the travel is always worth it.

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How I Afford Traveling

I put off writing this post because:

  1. I think every person who has traveled ever has written it
  2. My advice really isn’t that groundbreaking

But I’m going to tell you anyway. I probably go on a trip every two months, usually only two big/expensive trips a year and a bunch of little trips scattered in between. To many, it seems like I travel a lot. To me, it’s never enough. But I do get asked a lot how I afford to travel.

The kind of trips I take play a big part in affordability. We use Groupon to book our big and out of country trips. The hotel and flight are usually bundled with some other perk and the savings are amazing. We only do these trips once, maybe twice a year, and it’s always during winter. Last year we went to Iceland and this year we went to Portugal. If we do another big trip it will only be because I’m tagging along on one of my boyfriend’s work trips.

I don’t do a lot on the weekends that will cost me money. I know some people enjoy going to the bar with their friends on the weekends, but that’s not exactly my idea of a great time which is where I save money. Instead of dropping $50 on drinks every weekend, that money is saved and put into tiny weekend trips every month or every other month. Traveling is what I enjoy so I choose to stay in most times. The only fun activity I ever really splurge on are concert tickets.

I have a cash back card. I get 1% back on purchases and 1% back when I pay. I take the money I earn from that and use it as spending cash when I’m actually on my trip.

I have two savings accounts. I put money away every month. One savings account is for the future – for a new car, new home, in case of extreme emergencies. The other savings account is for trips, things I want to buy in the future, and extra cash for my checking account which I use to pay my rent, bills, etc.

How I can afford to travel isn’t all that glamorous. I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t have a fancy book of budgeting, I don’t have a top secret website that scores me the best deals. I prioritize what I want to spend money on in my life and then I plan to get the best price – but it works for me so maybe it will work for you too!

My Quick Trip To Orlando

I was lucky enough to ditch the winter weather and head to Orlando for 3 days – it was just the break I needed!

On day 1 we went to Universal solely because we wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Are tickets pricey? Yes. Was going to Hogwarts worth it? Yes.

Here’s a couple things you have to do if you go to Harry Potter world:

  1. Get a butter beer because they are sooo yummy!
  2. Splurge for an interactive wand. It was $55 but doing spells all day and having an awesome wand can’t be beat.
  3. Wait on line for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 3D ride – this ride was NO JOKE. It felt like a real rollercoaster!
  4. Get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. I highly recommend the lavender and earl grey flavor!

The next few days I spent poolside and just soaking up the sun at Westgate Lake Spa and Resort which was a really nice place.

I will recommend Dixie Dharma, a vegan restaurant, if you’re in the area! It was so yummy, it’s a bakery, restaurant, and shop and they had a lot of cool local prints, soaps, candles, etc. for sale.

Have you ever been to Orlando? Tell me your favorite part about your trip!

5 Don’ts For When You’re Traveling

1. Don’t forget a back up plan

Even trips where you’re winging it require some kind of plan. You never know when the bus you bought tickets for will get delayed and leave you with no ride to the airport (cough, cough, Greyhound).

2. Don’t overpack

Carry ons are really all you need. I usually bring a few pieces I can swap around and create new outfits out of.

3. Don’t forget the do not disturb sign

I don’t know about you guys, but the one thing I hate about hotels is always being intruded on – which is why I prefer airbnb’s. Someone is always knocking to clean or calling to ask something and I just want to be alone!

4. Don’t glue yourself to your phone

My favorite part about going out of the country is only having wifi when I’m chilling in the hotel. I don’t really preach putting your phone down often, but it’s nice when you’re on vacation to enjoy the moment and the people you’re with.

5. Don’t take pictures of everything

Yes, everything is amazing and DO take photos. I have a pretty bad memory so I can usually look back at one photo and get an amazing reminder of a whole day. But you don’t want to travel through a lens. There are plenty of things to do that aren’t instagram worthy or that you can just keep for yourself.

Let me know your tips below!

hc
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/grapefruitbrains/

My Trip To The Azores!

I’m back and ready to tell you about my trip to Terceira Island, which is part of the Azores. The Azores are a group of islands off of Portugal and belong to Portugal. I’m sure in Europe they are widely known, but most people from America that I’ve spoken to had never heard about the islands.

To be honest, we hadn’t either when we booked it! We book most of our big trips through Groupon and get great deals, this specific trip went through Groupon to Azores Getaways who helped us plan our transportation, tours, and basically helped us communicate with the hotel and such since we don’t speak Portuguese.

Mostly everyone on the island spoke English and it was extremely easy to get around. Everything was also veryyyy inexpensive. They pay in Euros and their main dishes include fish and beef. It’s an island so lots of fish and they also have a ton of cows. I got a tuna steak with potatoes and veggies for only $13. It was crazy good and crazy cheap.

Things we did:

  1. Bus tour around the island where we got to go to the best view points and explore the other city.
  2. Walking tour of the city we were staying in, Angra Do Heroismo.
  3. Tour of the volcanoes and walking through the lava tubes.
  4. Whale watching – we saw a lot of dolphins and a lot of sea sick people!

Places we ate:

  1. Most notably (and the most referred to us) – Beira Mar had the best seafood and we tried barnacles here!

My favorite parts:

  1. Terceira is green all year round due to the humidity!
  2. The cows are everywhere and soooo cute.
  3. The seafood couldn’t be beat.
  4. Our hotel, Terceira Mar, had an ocean view from every room.
  5. The buildings are so colorful, they’re all works of art.

The Azores are becoming a more and more popular tourist destination, a lot like Iceland. I suggest you try to go to one of the islands in the next few years while you can still enjoy the local flavor! 🙂

You can see some more photos on my Instagram. Have you ever been to any islands in the Azores?

Post Travel Blues

On the last day of my trip, there is always a little bit of excitement. I’m excited to sleep in my own bed again, have access to all of my things, see my friends and family. But as I sit in traffic on the last leg of the trip home, I overwhelmingly feel dread.

Traveling is such an amazing experience. To me, it is all about experiencing new cultures and places. To me, it’s about finding new places that I could potentially call home one day. Some trips leave me with less dread than others, some locations could just simply never be home. But the ones I get emotionally attached to are so hard to leave.

Because I’m leaving them to come home to a place I’m not exactly thrilled about. And I’m immediately thrown back into the real world of bills, work, and mediocrity. Traveling doesn’t always feel like a vacation where I can put my butt in the sand and not move for 5 days and come home feeling relaxed. But it is always a vacation from real life.

The post travel blues hit me hard for a couple of days, it’s like jet lag, and then eventually I adjust. Then I begin counting down the days until I can put that out of office up again and feel free for a while. That’s what paid time off is for, right?

hc
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barbourians/