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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Texas

Are you planning a trip to the Lone Star state? If so, you’ve made a good choice. Texas is one of the country’s most enigmatic destinations and has its own subculture. But there are a lot of things that people from outside the state don’t know about it. 

If you want to visit Texas, there are some things that you need to understand first. Check out the following: 

In Texas, People Don’t Measure Distances In Miles

Texas is a big place. In fact, you could fit most of western Europe into it; it’s so large. The locals, therefore, don’t like to deal in miles. There are too many syllables involves.

Dallas is over five-hundred-and-fifty miles from Houston - it just takes too long to say. It’s a “two-day trip” rolls much more easily off the tongue.

Don’t be surprised, therefore, if you hear people talking about journey distances in terms of time. It takes a couple of days to go from one end of the state to the other by road, and a whole morning to travel just about anywhere from anywhere. 

Burgers Are Popular, But Everyone Loves Steak More

Steak and Texas go hand in glove. The cattle-based food and the state are almost synonymous with each other. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Texas is home to some of the world’s most magnificent steak houses, something you can read more about at www.yoranchsteakhouse.com

In Texas, they like them big, fat and juicy, with plenty of delicious sides. Typical choices include lettuce hearts with ranch dressing, giant battered onion rings, chips, and, in upmarket locations, dauphinoise potatoes. Well done, medium-rare or blue: it’s all good in Texas. 

People In Texas Love Their Idioms

“It’s like putting lipstick on a pig” and “madder than a wet hen” are two of many expressions that you’re likely to encounter on your travels in Texas, according to leahtravels. Sure, they might sound old-fashioned when you hear them for the first time, but you soon get into the swing of it. After all, it’s that frontier attitude that makes Texas the place that it is today. 

Texas Is Half Mexican 

People think of the Lone Star state as being firmly within the cultural sphere of the United States, but it’s a surprisingly Mexican place. After all, Mexico is right on its doorstep. 

The state, therefore, is one of the best places in the Union to pick up Mexican food for breakfast. Here people love going to Mexican food outlets for their first meal of the day, stocking up on bean burritos whenever possible. 

When In Texas, Speak Like A Texan

The Texan accent is unique in the United States and one of the things that the state is quietly proud of. Locals tend to adopt a slow speech pattern and will often drop word endings when they're not essential for communication. Texans, for instance, are not particularly fond of the letter “g” at the end of their words, so you’d better start preparin’ now.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

How to Travel on a Budget for the Holidays

The holidays are stressful enough, so why add more to it with your holiday travel? By planning ahead, you can save money and frustration. You'll be happy to see your family and friends instead of resentful that you had to spend so much to get there that you can't take a real vacation later.

budget holiday travel tips

Fly Early

If you're worried about getting bumped, - and who doesn't? - choose a flight early in the day. The first flights out have much lower chance of being delayed, plus many people don't want to get up at the crack of dawn, or earlier, to go to the airport, making those flights a bit cheaper.

Travel On Less Desirable Days

Generally, booking your travel during the holiday season is not super affordable, but you can reduce the sting by flying the least busy days to get the best deals. When demand is low, so are fares. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be less expensive than other days, because the majority of travelers are doing so over the weekend. The airport is always packed on Thursdays and Fridays with people getting out of town and then on Sundays and Mondays coming back.

If your family does their celebration on Christmas Eve or not until Christmas afternoon, then traveling on Christmas may work perfectly for you. Everyone wants to be with their families then, so airfare can be super low. 

Book as Far in Advance as Possible

Under normal circumstances, the sweet spot for getting flight deals on domestic flights is between three and five weeks, but for the holidays, you'll want to book as soon as you find an airfare deal. The closer to the holiday you get, the more airfare will be. There are almost never any last-minute price drops for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's Eve.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you're doing it right, you've probably been racking up those airline miles every chance you get. You are, right? Well, now's the time to cash them in. Again, the earlier you can book, the greater chance of getting a rewards seat, plus you can save the majority of your travel budget for later to go somewhere (more) fun.

Bring Just a Carry-On

Many airlines, especially so-called budget airlines, have upped their baggage fees. Do you really want to pay an extra $40 or more to bring your luggage along? You're probably visiting your family, so they aren't going to be bothered if you want to use their washing machine.

Pack light by choosing a mix and match wardrobe, where all your bottoms match all your tops, and try to keep your shoes to two pair. In the winter, you can easily wear a pair of boots and some fun flats with just about everything. Roll your clothing to save space and combat wrinkles. Think of it as a giant puzzle, using all available space, and you’ll be surprised by how much you can fit inside a traditional roller bag.

Pack Small Gifts 

Packing light can be a challenge, but if you're also bringing gifts along, consider small ones that are easily packable, like gift cards or jewelry. If you can't be restricted by size, ship your gifts ahead, because you'll save money mailing over baggage fees and there's smaller chance of them getting lost.

If you choose to bring gifts with you in your carry-on, make sure they are unwrapped, as TSA needs to see what is inside your bag and will open any boxes that are closed if you are chosen for a random bag check. Purchase wrapping paper, bows or bags once you reach your destination, or slip the flat items in a pocket of your bag to eliminate wrinkles.

Drive Safely

If you’re lucky to be close enough to your destination to drive there, make sure to get a tune-up on your car before embarking on your trip. A car in tip top shape will get better gas mileage and is less likely to break down. Use Metromile and other apps to find affordable gas along the way, pack a paper map for emergencies and have a list of all important phone numbers and addresses just in case.

Pack snacks and plan stops along the way, because getting out of the car and stretching out makes the trip more fun and snacks keep you from getting cranky and stopping for fast food.

Your holiday travels don’t have to break your bank. With a bit of forethought and planning you can save wherever possible, so the Season of Giving doesn’t turn into the Season of Giving the Airlines All Your Money. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Surviving the Holidays with Family

The holidays are here and people will be taking to the skies and roads and spending way more time than they might like with their significant other and family. We travel as a couple and it's not always smooth sailing. The same goes for traveling with your family. Sometimes you get mad at each other. Sometimes you are crabby and snappy and sometimes things just don't go as planned. 

How can you be around each other 24/7 without wanting to murder each other on a one- or two-week vacation? It's not always easy, but with a little planning you can minimize ruffled feathers and maximize quality time on your trip.


My number one rule is to make sure you eat when you're hungry. If you don't and your partner is notorious for getting hangry (angry when hungry) as I am, then every day is going to end up with snappish or yelled "conversations". Find somewhere to eat when one of you is hungry or pack snacks in your bag for those times between meals or when you have to wait a little longer than you want to eat. I can't even tell you how many mean things pour out of my mouth when I get too hungry, and snacks will only last so long before a real meal is needed. Luckily, Eric knows it and will quickly steer me into a food place even if he's not hungry. Eating a balanced diet when you travel can help you feel better and less stressed as well.

Compromise your travel styles

No one is the same, which is good, because that would make the world a very boring place. Unfortunately, this probably means you and your spouse don't travel exactly the same. Understand your differences and understand what the other wants. Meet in the middle when things differ and you'll enjoy your trip a lot more if you're not butting heads at every turn. 

When we were in Scotland with family, we shared an Airbnb between five of us. Before I left, I knew I would be doing stuff for the blog and made a list of all the things I wanted to see, do, and eat. I shared that with everyone and they shared what they wanted to do and then we tried to mesh our schedules on things we all wanted to do and then we played it by ear on some stuff when we got there, because we also all were doing things with other family in town. It actually worked out well, as we spent time together and apart and didn't get on each others' nerves that way.

A lot of our down time looks like  this, or me on my computer and Eric doing something elsewhere.

Take some alone time

I understand that you are on vacation together. I do, but if you don't take some time to just go off and do your own thing, you will start to stress out and hate the other person's face before long. This doesn't mean that you have to spend a whole day all alone. Maybe go do a little shopping or even just make time to have your own space. We often have a vacation rental and will just go into different rooms for a while each day or he'll go swimming while I just lay on the couch and watch the news or a cartoon. Even 30 minutes of privacy can be helpful.

Do something you don't want to do

You aren't always going to want to do the same stuff. That's life. But this vacation is both of yours, so if you don't want to do all the same things, make a promise to do something the other wants and vice versa. You might find you have fun, but if nothing else, you'll know you made each other happy and that goes a long way, especially when you at least act like you are enjoying yourself. (If you don't, it really doesn't count as being nice.) Just remember, if your significant other refused to do the one thing you wanted to do most at your destination, you'd be pretty pissed, so keep that in mind when you're doing the thing they truly want to do.

The same goes for traveling with a group. I ask everyone what they want to do ad then we plan things together that everyone wants to do and then split up for other things, because not everyone wants to do everything and sometimes people just need to get away from each other.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is important, and when you don't get enough of it, it's like operating on only partial power. This is going to make you moody, crabby and probably mean. Make sure you get enough winks in, so you aren't close to snapping at any moment. It's better to miss out on something than to not enjoy doing it because you didn't sleep enough and hate everything.


If you don't talk to each other, then it's inevitable that something will cause an unnecessary fight between you. If you have questions about something or aren't sure how to get somewhere, communicate it. If you aren't having a good time, let them know. Maybe just voicing it will make things just a little bit better. Also, you can't fix something if you don't know there's a problem.

Guess who didn't get to eat here? LOL!

Be open to change

I can't even tell you how many times things didn't work out as planned on our trips. Nothing is going to go smoothly 100% of the time. Expect and accept things may change/go wrong/come up and be willing to adapt and roll with it. It'll all work out in the end.

If you can just learn to be a little flexible and selfless, then you can have much better vacations that are filled with fun and excitement instead of stress and crying. Not everyone is going to travel well together, and it can really test the limits of your relationship(s) sometimes. If you can get through a whole trip without tears or sniping, I consider that a success, but it almost never happens over the course of two weeks, I'll take the little victories.

What are your best travel tips for not stabbing your significant other or family member?
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