First off, I'm super irritated with my blog as I've tried writing this about 4 times now and something has gone wrong every dang time! So, this won't be my best blog ever as I'm just annoyed with typing the same words/combo at this point! Ha. So Jason and I just got back from our trip out east and I have some fun things to share with everyone. I have some unique ideas to write out in my next few blogs regarding crushed pennies, how-to guide on last minute hotels, how-to guide on buying books for college (random thought when I was on the road), and how to find hidden treasures when you're on vacation!
In the meantime, I just wanted to share a few details about our trip out to the east coast. First off, I FINISHED THE STATES!! Shamefully, I didn't fully comprehend this until I was home brainstorming around this blog... I tell you what guys... the older I get the more scattered brained I get. Forgetful. But that's why we keep track, right?! This puts Jason and my states we have actually been to TOGETHER down to F O U R - but really we have been to 2 of those 4 already, just didn't take pics there! Getting close on that front as well! Eek!
First and foremost, J upgraded our tickets out to Boston for F I R S T C L A S S. This was a first for me - I have never flown first class...ever! J, of course, has. Man, let me tell you. First class is a dreeeeeeammm. The flight attendants literally cater to you, the extra space is amazingggg, and the FOOD AND DRINKS. Whatever you want. I was hoping on the flight back we could upgrade again - HA! :D No such luck...bummer.
We rented a car in Boston where we traveled a total of 1,900 miles and visited ten states once all said and done. The route we took pretty much was a clockwise 'circle' starting in Boston.
Massachusetts -> Rhode Island -> Connecticut -> New Jersey -> Delaware -> Pennsylvania -> New York -> Vermont -> New Hampshire -> Maine
From Maine we went back down the coastal highway to Boston. My 'maine' (get what I did there?) goal was Maine and to get up to Acadia National Park - which we did! Some things/places we went to along the way: Hershey, PA; Independence Hall; Cooperstown; Camden, Maine; and, of course, Acadia National Park. We hit some other parks and forts along the way as well, which is something we always gravitate towards - may not be everyone else's cup of tea!
I don't really have much more details to add... I want to highlight some different destinations later on in some of my blog ideas! If you have questions or are headed out that way, let me know, I can share some ideas before my next blog! :)
* Haven't put Hawaii pic in yet! *
I've been getting a lot of questions lately when some of you see me out! So I thought I would throw a few of those questions - and some Facebook Q's - into a quick blog post!
Q: How many states do you have left (since Jason just wrapped his up)?
A: I have 6 states left: Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island. We plan on finishing some of these up this month, if not all.
Q: How many countries have you been to?
A: I have only been to 16 countries. Yes, only. There are 195! Get traveling.
Q: How many states to do you have left to visit together (complete our map)?
A: We have 13, but technically 9. Ohio (been to, just didn't take pic), Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina (been to, just didn't take pic), Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont (been to, just didn't take pic), New Hampshire (been to, didn't take pic), Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island.
Q: What are your plans after completing the states?
A: I haven't really set a 'goal', but I do have a bucket list of places I want to visit before I die. These include walking the Great Wall of China, staying in a bungalow in the Maldives, visiting Stonehenge, going to a pub in Ireland, seeing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, visiting Thailand, and seeing Easter Island. There are also many places in the states I still want to go to (Cali is HUGE, you can't just go to once! San Fran, San Diego, National Parks... I've never seen the Statue of Liberty, etc.)
Q: How do you afford to go on all these trips?
A: Great question! We, and by we I mean Jason, are really good at finding the deals. This does take work to find/navigate. It can be simply finding the cheap flight, finding the cheap time to go somewhere, or finding the credit card that has the best deal to maximize on! We also save throughout the year on various things that you may not think of. For example, our heat stays down in the winter (we have a very well-insulated house and don't see the need to adjust higher when you can throw on a sweatshirt or slippers) or keeping the air off and opening the windows, etc.
Q: How do I go about myself finding the 'deals'?
A: There's going to be several portions of this answer. (a) It takes work and different ways of researching. We usually don't have a set place in mind on where to go on vacation or visit to for a weekend. It typically just is that we stumbled on a deal. For example, our cruise last January (2016), we found flights round trip, per person to Miami for $130. (b) For other things, you just need to know when on and off season is. So for example, August is off season for the Carib. (Clearly with hurricanes going on down there...did I really have to say off season?). But, that being said, you can find cheaper flights and cheaper hotel room rates. This definitely went for hotel rates when we went to Alaska in January! (c) Utilize the internet to your advantage. Try flying into different cities and renting cars, keep just thinking outside the box! (d) I think one of the biggest things to stress is take advantage of what companies to put out there for you. Their memberships (AAdvantage, Orbitz Rewards, etc.) are, most of the time, worth signing up for - for free! (e) We also have great luck with credit cards. Now, I caution when bringing up credit cards. PAY YOUR BALANCE OFF EACH MONTH. Don't be stupid about it! But many, many cards have great sign-up bonuses and deals running each month. (I leave this to Jason, honestly - he always knows what's going on for each and which one to use at the grocery store, gas station, etc.)
Soooo...where to start? Depends where you want to go. I was dumb when we went to Punta Cana and didn't realize my credit card wasn't international so got charged fees for currency exchange - don't be like me. So if traveling internationally, I would say get a good travel credit card (and maximize your bonus). Do you just fly a lot? It may be worth being loyal to a specific company - or try to be at least. (Sometimes other flights simply are cheaper!) If booking ahead of time, capitalize on bundle packages (Orbitz flight + hotel + car). If winging it, use Priceline Express Deals (literally save a TON if you don't care where you stay, just a region).
Last but not least....the most popular question:
Q: When are you and Jason going to get engaged/married?
A: I really don't know and, no, I don't expect it on every trip we go on! Ha! We travel, it's what we do.
If you have any other questions - leave them on this post!
Hey y'all - 2 blogs in a week, what?!?
OK, so I have to brag a little bit here first off -- Jason bought me a new case for my tablet and it has a keyboard attached to it....BOMB y'all!!! This is my first time writing on it and it is sooooo much easier than using screen touch. I can't wait to *optimistically* be better at keeping up with my blogging. Talk about a way to brighten up my Monday! Link here. Also under my new section on my site "Favs". I've started linking a few other items there as well. Not getting paid for it, just genuinely some of my go-to items.
Now onto our latest trip -- the lovely island of Grand Cayman. As I stated in my last blog post, this trip was taken solely from the fact that we had a ton of points built up in Orbitz and I had a few vacation days I could spare. We pretty much were able to go wherever we wished for either a very low, low rate on hotel or for free! (Pretty sweet.) We looked at a bunch of places to go, but my mind kept coming back to Grand Cayman. Our cruise back in January of last year (2016) was not able to dock at Grand Cayman when we were there due to rough seas. Every time I look at cruises to head back down that way, they are identical to the one we already went on. Not that that is bad.... but I would rather go on a different cruise to various places - maximize our travels if you will! So my thoughts went to what if we just go there? J of course went along with the idea as we are two peas in a pod. In fact, he bought the flight for my birthday! :)
We planned a long weekend getaway. Did you know Grand Cayman is a really quick flight? Another reason why we decided to go there. We had a layover in Miami on the way down and Houston on the way back. Our flights were so easy and quick, I would highly recommend going down for a quick weekend getaway! We had a 7am flight out of O'Hare and I believe we were on the beach by 3pm. I could check for sure, but Jason has all the flight information as it was my birthday present and of course he isn't home right now.. I can check if you are really actually curious - just leave me a comment! So we left Thursday morning and came back Sunday evening. I believe we officially got home at 1:30 AM - pretty late flight we took and with 2 hours travel time back from Chicago..
The thing about this trip that ... amazed me (?) was the UV index down there. I'm not used to taking a vacation so late in the summer (August). The rays were insane and I legit got a tan within an hour. It was crazy! Besides some really nice rays - and waves - were the things that we got to do. It is hard to distinguish which was my absolute favorite. We went out to Stingray City and did a snorkel. We also did the USS Kittiwake - so awesome! Really though, my favorite thing is getting to share new experiences with J. It's so fun choosing where we are going and what we are going to do when we get there. Sometimes it gets to the point where we are competing to find thee best thing to do! Always exciting with him around. We enjoyed doing a bit of relaxing on this trip too. Beach time is best time.
An adventurous soul, a kind heart, and a sarcastic mouth. You never know which you will get.