My 4th of July Holiday Weekend in South Carolina

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One of the ways I like to travel is by taking advantage of a long weekend to go visit friends or family. By doing this, I don’t have to pay for lodging! Since the 4th of July is near my birthday, I decided to go up to see my parents in South Carolina.

There is also a discount airline that runs from Florida to North or South Carolina (depending which airport I chose to fly into) with great ticket prices and direct flights. The only real downside is that they don’t offer a huge selection in terms of dates or flight times, but it’s completely worth it. Check out Allegiant Air for more information.

I arrived in Greenville on Friday afternoon with a few hours to relax before people came over for the 4th. We enjoyed a great evening grilling, drinking and hanging out.

Morning view at my parents house

Morning view at my parents house

Saturday we got up (slightly hungover) and made our way to Hendersonville. It was very clear when we got there that we needed to eat! And it was a perfect opportunity to enjoy a pint over lunch at The Black Rose, one of our favorite pubs.

Refueled, we headed over to Mast General Store to do some shopping. See, for me living in Florida is great, but we never have a really good selection of cold weather gear and that makes traveling in cooler months much more difficult sometimes. I ended up hitting the jackpot and got some great pieces on sale! Ok, ok I’ll be honest, since it was near my birthday I got some great presents and I personally didn’t buy a thing. But everything WAS on sale! Thanks mom and dad!

I’m also always searching for the next greatest travel accessory or gadget and after the disappointing performance of my last travel purse, I really wanted to find a new one. Luck was on my side and I found a great one (I hope)!

Before leaving Hendersonville we had to make a pit stop at McFarlan bakery. They have the best treats and the line is always out the door, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

McFarlan Bakery

McFarlan Bakery

On Sunday we went to brunch before making our way up to The Highlands. This was my first time visiting the area, but I can’t wait to go back. We did some shopping and walked around enjoying the weather.

Old Edward's Inn The Highlands, NC

Old Edward’s Inn The Highlands, NC

The drive to and from The Highlands is really pretty, but make sure to bring water with you! Especially since I live below sea level in Florida, the altitude really got to me this time.

Our plan Sunday night was to get pizza at one of our favorite spots back in Hendersonville, but sadly they were closed, so instead we had a dinner at Mezzaluna in town. The restaurant was packed but we had amazing service and good food!

Sunflowers in Hendersonville

Sunflowers in Hendersonville

The rest of the evening was spent on the porch watching TV and relaxing. Overall it was a great trip with beautiful and cool weather, just what I needed.

Don’t worry, I’m already scheming my next quick trip destination!

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5 Reasons Research is Important When Planning a Trip

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Now that you’ve gone through the 5 Tips for Picking a Perfect Itinerary, here are 5 reasons research is important.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Research is the single most important tool you can arm yourself with when traveling.

Because research is such a vital part of travel, and people often forget its value, here are five quick and simple reasons why research is so important.

1. Culture. When you travel abroad it is extremely critical to learn about the culture where you will be staying. Take Italy for instance. Many of the churches require you to cover your shoulders to enter, even in the dead of summer when it’s sweltering outside, while other countries have laws about words you can and can’t say. Learning about the culture of your destination will help you immensely. And respecting the culture of other countries is an important aspect of helping to maintain the integrity of traveling and also to make sure you don’t put yourself in an unwelcome situation.

2. Itinerary Activities. After you’ve planned your itinerary, how do you figure out what to do when you get there? Research! If you don’t research your destination you won’t know if there are any local festivals, holiday celebrations or must see attractions. How sad would it be if you left Rome without seeing the Vatican? Or you missed the Mona Lisa in Paris? And if you don’t do a little bit of research you may not know that Oktoberfest actually starts in September.

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3. Immunizations. When traveling abroad there are many foreign things you can encounter. An easy way to make sure nothing compromises your adventure is by arming yourself with proper vaccines. Just go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out what exactly is needed or recommended before traveling. Some vaccines are not carried at your regular general practitioner, but it is generally pretty easy to find a travel doctor in your area and it is well worth the time and potential expense!

4 & 5. Language and Currency. Knowing simple things like what language is spoken, or what currency is used where you will be traveling is also important. Some currencies are closed, meaning you can’t get them until you are physically in the country, while other places may accept multiple currencies. It is also helpful to know what the primary language is in each of your destinations. And it doesn’t hurt to learn a couple of quick phrases in that language. People are always more willing to help you if they hear their native tongue. Bonjour, Ciao, Hola and Guten Tag can go a long way.

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There are many, many, many more reasons it is important to research where you will be traveling, but these are just a few quick and simple reasons why I am so passionate about research. Even if you take 10 minutes to do some last minute googling in the airport, knowledge is power!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks about how to plan your next adventure!

5 Tips for Picking a Perfect Itinerary

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So if you’re anything like me, you are constantly making lists of potential destinations to visit. But what do you do when it’s time to actually plan a trip? How do you narrow down your list of amazing possible destinations, and put them into a manageable itinerary? Here are five simple tips to help you start planning your next trip:

1. Figure out who will be traveling. Will you be solo, with friends or maybe family? Also, find out what the overall physical ability of the group is. Some destinations are great for a family, while others are better suited for a group of friends. And there are destinations that pose physical restrictions, such as a trip hiking in the mountains.

2. Length of time. Once you’ve figured out who is going on the adventure, it’s important to figure out how long the adventure will last. Though a lot of the time this is dictated by vacation days and overall budget.

3. Geography. Grab a map, grab a globe, or get online. A map is one of the most essential itinerary-planning tools! Once you have your map, take a couple of potential destinations and check out where they are in relation to each other. If four are in Eastern Europe, and one is in South America, think about splitting those destinations into two trips. And it is also important to realize that what may look like the best itinerary on a map, may not logistically work out. Sometimes there just aren’t easy, quick or cost effective ways to travel between two close destinations.

4. Time of year. This can affect a lot of the things listed within the first three tips. Depending on when you travel it might make a difference on who can join. This can also be a determining factor on the length of time you are able to be gone, or want to be gone. And it can definitely impact the geography of the trip. If you are trying to ski in Switzerland, it won’t work to go during the summer!

5. Research. Once you’ve narrowed your list down a little bit, do some research! Get some books, look online, and write down things that seem interesting or fun to do in each destination. This also helps if you want to go somewhere for a specific event, like Oktoberfest in Munich.

As you start planning, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect itinerary; perfect doesn’t exist when it comes to travel. No trip ever works out 100% how you planned it. There is also no right or wrong way to go about planning. And sometimes the best things happen by complete accident. For me at the end of the day, travel is more about the actual journey, than the physical destination.

Trip planning at it's finest!

Trip planning at it’s finest! From my 2012 trip!

What Am I Doing?

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After 7 years it’s finally happening. I’m starting a travel blog! Travel is my true passion and what I live for. If I’m not on a trip, I’m planning one. Ask any of my closest friends or family and they would agree; I’m addicted to travel. Collecting passport stamps for me, is like collecting sacred treasure.

Throughout my experiences I’ve learned a thing or two, and I thought it was time to share my knowledge with the rest of the world. You may ask yourself what makes me qualified or different than anyone else out there? The answer: nothing. Until you find something that I say or recommend beneficial, I’m just another blogger.

What is the purpose of all of this? My ultimate goal is to give young professionals the knowledge to travel. So many people in that age group think it’s unattainable, and that’s just not the case. With a little planning and ingenuity anything is possible. Stay tuned for all of my tips and tricks, and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

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