Let's Connect!


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Resolve to Travel More

The New Year is upon us and who doesn't want their 2019 to be awesome? I know I do. If you aren't already traveling the way you want, maybe you should resolve to travel more. Travel makes people happy, and being happy makes you healthier, so it just makes sense. You have all those vacation days. Try to use more of them this year. In fact, that can be your New Year's resolution.

So, how do you actually travel more? It's easier than you think. I'll give you some steps to ensure that you follow through. You just need to be dedicated to living a happier, healthier life where you go places.

Make a plan

White a list. Where do you want to go? Which seem reasonable? Anything nearby that you've already visited can be crossed off, unless you really want to go there again. Don't go just because you think it'll fit into your budget. Chances are, you can go further or for longer for the same money. Figure out your top three places and do a little research to see how much they will realistically cost. Maybe just take a week instead of two, or go on two one-week trips, instead of one long trip, because it gets you out more and gives you more to look forward to.

Start saving

Even budget travelers need to save. You may think it's too hard or you can't do it, but you can! 
  • Open a checking or savings account specifically for travel. Leave your debit card at home, so you can't spend these funds on a whim. 
  • Set up automatic deposits into this account with each paycheck, so you don't miss the money. They can be any amount. Even $50 will make a difference.
  • Stop doing things that make you unhappy or that you aren't using. Do you subscribe to multiple streaming services? Do you use them all? If not, unsubscribe from those you don't and put the money you save into your vacation fund. 
  • Use easy ways to save. there are tons of apps and extensions out there to help you save money, including Ebates, Swagbucks and Honey. These all are completely free and offer cash back and promo codes. I am also a fan of the app Qapital. It lets you set up rules for yourself and moves money from your bank account into a separate account to help you save for any goals. My favorite rule is the Round Up rule, where every purchase you make is then rounded up to the nearest $2 and that difference is moved to your Qapital account. You can easily move your money back to your bank or use the Qapital debit card to use those funds. 

Invest in yourself

While we're eliminating things that make us unhappy, let's talk about doing more that makes us happy. If you need to get out of the house more, try using Groupon and Living Social to save on your outings and dining. Get half-price manicures, go to escape rooms with friends, go have a lovely brunch, and then pocket that money you saved on it.

Look for ways to save

Set your realistic money goal for your vacation at what you would pay full price and then look for ways to bring that cost down. Sometimes you can save just by booking things online (like you can with Universal Studios' tickets), sometimes you can find coupons online, some cities offer passes that give you a decent discount off their most popular attractions. Check out CityPASS and Smart Destinations

You might look into traveling in the off season, because hotels and airfare can be reduced by half compared to the high season. Even shoulder season can save you money and can save you time, since you won't have to deal with long lines and crowds of tourists. 

Look at bundling your vacation. Many times purchasing a package that includes airfare and hotel together can offer you deep discounts, so it's like you're only paying for one.

Don't sabotage yourself

Stop saying "someday" or thinking you don't have time to plan a vacation or that you'll never save enough to go. You do and you can. You just need to make travel a priority in your life like you do other things you accomplish. My best friend has a family of 8 and they just went to Hong Kong and Thailand with everyone and were shocked at how little they spent, even though they had a driver and went to Hong Kong Disneyland. They'll be doing more than just driving to California in the coming years, because now they know they can. 

Resolve to travel more and travel better and be happier and do the things you keep putting off because you think it's too hard or will cost too much. Make a plan, stay on course, set a budget and do it!

What's on the top of your travel list?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The World's New Year's Plan

I've taken a little time off from blogging to celebrate the holiday and be with family, but that doesn't mean everyone doesn't have the next holiday and celebration time on the brain. I'm talking, of course, about New Year's Eve. Some people get really excited to ring in the new year in style. I, on the other hand, like to chill at home and go to bed the second the ball drops. I'm saving my vacation funds for my bigger trip of the year, and this year it needs to be as large as possible, as we will be going to Edinburgh and London.

What will you be doing for NYE? Are you traveling?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Jakarta On A Budget

Being able to travel the world is a privilege, but regardless of your budget, it’s something that you can do without spending too much. People daydream about beach holidays and ocean views and having time to visit the rainforests around the world, but there’s always one worry: cash. Travelling always seems so expensive, and when you factor in flights and accommodation and you visit more than one place, those dollar signs sure do rack up.

Man Standing Beside Black Motorcycle

The thing is, the world isn’t as expensive as you think it is, and moving from one place to the next isn’t the bankrolling wonder you imagine, either. There are plenty of countries in the world where you can find a bargain and one such place that you can travel without too much cash is Indonesia - more specifically, Jakarta.

Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands, and Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and it sits on the island of Java. It’s said to be one of the most populated islands in the world with over 10 million people. To give you an idea of how multicultural it is, it’s the Indonesian equivalent of the Big Apple, and websites like https://rumahdijual.com/ can give you an idea of the property market - just in case your vacation turns into a staycation! Travelling to this exotic archipelago may sound pricey, but it’s going to take a little shimmying here and there to get the budget trip that your bank account will thank you for. Here are some of the best tips that you need to see Jakarta on a budget.

Closeup Photo of Person's Foot Near Mountain

  • Booking a good few months in advance for travel, accommodation and activities is probably the best budgeting tip that you could get. Special offers with airlines, Airbnb rentals at a discount and as there are so many routes you can take, you can find a discount anywhere. Some people like to fly to Kuala Lumpur and then go onto Jakarta after that - either way you need to be kind to your wallet and spend more money on activities than on the actual travel.
  • The high seasons to travel are New Year and during the June-July school break. If you avoid these times, you can find that the tourist attractions will be far emptier than the high points. The wet season in October and March is the best time if you don’t mind a little rain!
  • Buying local is always going to be great for your budget. Jakarta is packed with budget market stalls for clothing and groceries, and even the souvenirs that you want to bring home with you. Opt for these over the expensive options and you can get goods that are locally made instead of the imported options.
  • Indonesia is made up of so many islands that you’re never going to be short of things to do, and in Jakarta, simply sitting with a cup of coffee at a cafe outdoors is enough to keep you entertained as you watch the local people go about their daily business. There are waterfalls, beaches, temples and galleries that can all be seen for low, low prices, too.
  • Where possible, don’t hop in a cab. The convenience of one is tempting, but the public transport is so reliable and can be kinder to your wallet instead of hiring one wherever you go. Cab fares will vary with the time of day whereas the public transportation largely stays the same.
  • You can haggle here! Vendors in foreign places will always try their luck with visitors, but you’ll get some respect for trying to barter. Always drive a hard bargain like over half off the price, and when they say no, increase your asking price enough for them to make a deal. Top tip: pretending to walk off to another vendor can get you what you want!
  • Make use of the free things to see. The beaches are especially amazing and you can buy local food for cheap. The street food is just to die for so you can fill up cheaply while you head to the sand to enjoy a day of relaxation. Don’t be afraid to hike and trek, either, as the walking tours can often be cheap enough to enjoy without spending all your cash - just ensure you have the right clothing.

Jakarta is a place you want to visit, and if you are going on a budget, plan this trip in advance so that you can hit all the right bargains and make the most of the place you could call home.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Where To Spend Your Long Weekend In North Carolina

If you want to see the best of a state, then a road trip might be the perfect way to get a snapshot of what it has to offer. If you don’t have much longer than a long weekend, it can be hard to see everything North Carolina has to offer, however. For that reason, we’re going to look at some of the must-see highlights you can’t miss.

Experience the nostalgia of Old Salem

Every state has its own history, but few present it quite as impressively as North Carolina does with the living museum of Old Salem. Unlike many of the manufactured “old towns” around the country, this is the real deal, with genuine preserved buildings, many of them converted into galleries where you can see a host of antiques. Authenticity is the name of the game, with many of the tradesmen employed at Old Salem using the traditional methods of creating souvenirs you simply won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Go wild in Duck

Despite the modest name, this underrated spot offers some of the finest natural beauty in the state, offering one of the most family-friendly beaches. It’s not the biggest of towns, with few accommodation options inside it, but you can easily find a hotel near Duck, North Carolina, that offers even more of the gorgeous coast to explore on your way there. With plenty of piers and walkways to explore an ever-shifting coast, as well as plenty of kayaking and canoeing fun, it’s a great way to feel closer to that good North Carolina nature.

Get romantic in Charlotte

One of the best places in the country for a Valentines getaway, Charlotte is just as good for couples who want to make a flying stop before exploring the rest of the state, as well. It’s a city full of rich and authentic culture, from scrumptious Cajun food restaurants to live jazz and blues joints, sometimes you can both in the same place. If you want a spot for a romantic dance, you can even bring your own favorite record with you to Petra’s Bar on the Bring Your Own Vinyl night.

Escape to the sea at Outer Banks

Duck is a perfect place to stop at the coast on your way through the state, though if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can continue your voyage out to the Outer Banks. This island chain offers tons of natural beauty to explore, but the adventurous amongst you will want to see the history of piracy, including some of the places that the famous Lord of the Pirates, Blackbeard himself, making the area his hideout during his most infamous period. From shipwrecks to piracy museums, it’s perfect for those fans of the scurvy sea-dogs.

With a rich history, gorgeous natural beauty, and a great romantic city getaway in the form of Charlottesville, there’s no doubt that North Carolina has something to offer just about every kind of traveler. You just need to be willing to look a little deeper and go a little further.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How to Avoid the Holiday Vacation Crud

With so many people traveling over the holidays, and it being mid-flu season, there are going to be a lot of germs flying around. Like, a lot more than usual. The holidays are already stressful. You don't want to add sickness into the mix, too. Make sure you aren't opening presents while hacking up a lung and holding a fist full of tissues. These tips can be used for every trip you go on, because vacation crud is a thing, and it sucks. 

There are some things you can do to avoid getting sick while traveling, so your trip isn't ruined. I've been sick on a lot of trips, but I've learned to plan ahead and also take a few extra things in my bag.

Antibacterial wipes and gel

Wipe down all the things you might touch on the plane, like the armrests and the tray table. The water on the plane all comes from the same reservoir, which may or may not contain bacteria, because they are super hard to clean, so when you use the restroom, instead of washing your hands in the tiny sink, bring your bottle of Purell with you instead to kill any germs you've picked up.

Avoid coffee, tea and water on the plane

Speaking of dirty water, avoid anything with water on the plane, unless you are handed a bottle of water that hasn't already been opened. When the flight attendants pour water into cups from a bottle, chances are it has been filled from the airplane water system. I buy a new bottle of water at the airport to bring onboard and then order a soft drink when the drink cart comes around. Also, if you like tomato juice, it tends to be the most hydrating and nutritious thing you can get, so that's also an option.

Pack Emergen-C, Vitamin C, or those chewable immune boosters

Start using these at least 3 days before travel, double up on the day of travel and keep using while on your trip. You want your immune system to be in the best shape it can be and extra vitamins never hurt anyone. I also like the Halls Defense lozenges, too. They give you a little extra boost, taste pretty good, and help if you end up having a sore throat anyway. I found that they helped me bounce back faster (with the addition of a mid-day nap) when I started to feel under the weather while in Hawaii.


Your body has to work twice as hard if you aren't treating it right. You need to stay hydrated, so even if you're using wine to deal with your crazy family, make sure you're also chugging water in between, so you don't get sick. You may also benefit from a travel-size humidifier like this one, which you may also be able to add a few drops of essential oil to for a little extra boost. 

Eat your vegetables

You need vitamins and nutrients. Those Vitamin C tablets aren't going to help with all the other things your body needs, so make sure you're also trying to eat well. Eat as many fruits and veggies as you can. I declare pumpkin pie counts, but try not to make it all sweets, because then you're not going to feel that great with all the extra sugar. 

Get enough sleep

Without enough sleep, your body tends to shut itself down...in the form of a cold. Nobody wants that. Skip a few late-night activities or head home early from that Christmas party. If anyone blames you, that's on them. You need to take care of yourself first. Alcohol, crappy party food and late nights are not going to do you any favors. At least opt for the baby carrots and some beauty sleep. You'll thank me. This is also why I like to stay in a hotel instead of with other people. It enables me to have my own space and be able to unwind properly. If you need a little extra help with catching your Zs, some great ideas are Melatonin, Dream Water and this fantastic pillow spray.

Don't forget about your allergy meds and other medication

I have the worst allergies and sometimes moving to a different environment makes them worse, sometimes better. I just remember that I need to keep up my steady stream of meds, whether I need them at the time or not, to be a person. And if you take regular medication, don't forget it at home. 

Here's to a happy and healthy holiday season and Christmas/New Year vacations! How do you keep yourself from getting sick on your travels?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and if you purchase through them (first of all, thank you, second of all, you're awesome) I will receive monetary compensation.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Oldest Restaurant in Philly

On our trip to Philadelphia, we planned several visits to specific restaurants. One of the places I wanted to eat at was Philly's oldest restaurant, City Tavern. Opened in 1773, it has been a tavern, a restaurant, a meeting house, a place to house prisoners of war, a Army headquarters and celebration venue. 

City Tavern Philadelphia

Now you can relive the Colonial times in an authentic tavern, with 3 floors, metal goblets, wait staff in period costume and traditional dishes. If you're looking about the city where everything is located, you can easily walk to City Tavern. You'll be welcomed warmly and be served huge portions. In fact, you may balk at the prices, but each dish can easily serve two people.  

We had a buy one get one free coupon that I picked up at the Visitor Center, so we saved over $20 on our meal. Dinner is at least $10 more per plate, so if you're trying to save money, opt for lunch.

This was our splurge meal. We also have breakfast before we left for the day, so that wasn't an extra cost factor. 

The bar area is also really beautiful and quaint, with top shelf alcohol and cozy, high-backed booths. It seems a bit like a home bar, but better. They even have a board with drinks on special for the day.

You start your meal off with a drink (they have iced tea and sodas available) and a bread plate. You get two different kinds of bread and Thomas Jefferson's favorite sweet potato biscuits, which were quite good and nutty. Definitely try those if you don't have a nut allergy. 

I was starving, so I also wanted an appetizer. I knew the mushroom toast was for me as soon as I saw it on the menu. If you love mushrooms, you have to try it. The mushrooms are sauteed, put on toast and covered in Bernaise sauce. Heaven! 

I chose the rabbit for my entree and it was enough to feed two or three people. It's basically a leg of braised rabbit and a ton of veggies put over a huge bed of egg noodles. It was delicious, but also way too much for one person to eat, so you'll be taking part of it home in a box. The table next to us also ordered this and the fried tofu (made to the specifications of a letter from Benjamin Franklin) and both said their food was fantastic. I didn't even know they had tofu then, but apparently it was such a hit that they kept this on the menu.

Eric, who really doesn't love pork, ordered the applewood-smoked pork chop. The meat took up half the (not small) plate and the other half was heaped with sauerkraut. He said both were great, but his was also too much to finish, especially since we wanted to save room for dessert. My title picture shows the large selection of desserts. Some are year-round options and some are seasonal.

Eric got all excited about Martha Washington's chocolate mousse cake, as it is made with the original recipe. I've had a lot of meh chocolate cakes in general, but this was light and fluffy and the perfect amount of chocolate and I would have eaten a whole second piece if it was on the table. I'm glad we didn't get tart that I originally wanted. I loved Martha Washington more in that moment.

The wait staff were all super friendly and I loved the outfits. This is exactly my kind of place, even though you have to go downstairs into a whole separate dining area to use the restroom and the stairs squeak a bit and make it sound like someone's walking behind you. That seems to be something you'd expect from a place this old though, so if that freaks you out and the restaurant isn't busy enough for other diners to be downstairs, ask a dining companion to come with you.

So, if you're in Philadelphia and want an excellent meal that's a bit of a splurge, this is the place to do it. Hit up the Visitor Center for a coupon (it's on a postcard for the restaurant) to get your free entree. Then you can save that money for one of their cookbooks or a souvenir to take home from Philly. 

Check them out online: website | Facebook | Twitter

Do you have a favorite historical restaurant from your hometown or your travels?

Disclaimer: I did not get paid to write this review or get a free meal (except through that coupon). I just genuinely enjoyed my experience there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

So Much Harry Potter Cosplay

Since July, we've done a bunch of fun Harry Potter-related stuff. We went to Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia to take part in their new, revamped and renamed HP festival, called Witches and Wizards Weekend. We also attended Wizard School at the Franklin Institute. This past week was my birthday, so I had an early Yule Ball for myself at home, in preparation for our Harry Potter Alliance chapter's Yule Ball, which was fantastic. 

I figured I'd share some of my photos of all the awesome Harry Potter cosplay and fun.

Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania
This was a (mostly) 2-day event. There was a nighttime pub crawl on Friday and then a full-day on Saturday with activities, shopping, food, and fun seeing all the cosplays. I saw this magical school hate and I had to have it for my witch outfits. Only $10. Of course, it only comes in the one size.

This lady wins all the awards for creativity...and that baby was adorable!

Quidditch represent!
Eric bought ALL the flair. For those wondering, the giant buttons say "Keep Calm and Carry a Wand" and "Make Magic, Not War"

Franklin Institute - Philadelphia
This was a 21+ event put on at a science center, so therewerea lot of really cool science-y magic things, and this lecture on Nicholas Flamel.

Ha! This actually led into a room with a train.
We made "magic" wands and then recreated these at home with our own materials.

Yule Ball birthday party
Everyone dressed up and we made wands and played games and chatted about Harry Potter. This was my very Ravenclaw look.

My friend Stephanie wins for most creative costume. She came as Christmas Dobby. 

HPA Yule Ball
So, I can't sew, but I still try (for some reason) and came up with this offset cloak for Eric to wear and show off his Hufflepuff-y-ness. It was good if you didn't look too hard at it, but it was a fun look.

I went with a more Ravenclaw look with a giant puffy tulle skirt that I sewed lights into. This is super easy to do and everyone thinks it looks professional and amazing. I got so many compliments on my "dress". 

I'll post more of our adventures of in Philadelphia soon, including more of the Franklin Institute, which I highly recommend for just a regular day of educational fun.

Have you done any fun costumed stuff lately?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Finding The Best Ways To See Australia

Traveling to Australia is a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, the size of the place makes it easy to find new things to do for each day of your stay. On the other, though, this same benefit can also make your life very hard while you’re away, taking a lot of time to move between each of the things you’d like to enjoy.

map of Australia
Image Credit
To make this whole process easier for you, this post will be taking you through some of the best ways to see this massive country, giving you the chance to take in as much as possible while on your adventure.

By Sky

While it isn’t the cheapest form of transport in the world, it would be wrong to talk about Australia without covering the opportunity you have to spend some time in a helicopter. With vast areas of land to cover, this sort of vehicle can be perfect for anyone who wants to see more of this place. Some trips will cover large distances, taking you from one place to another. If you want to do some pure sightseeing, though, you can also find examples which will only take you a short distance, but give you a lot of time in the air.

Taking A Tour

Of course, not everything can be appreciated from the sky, though, and there are loads of reasons to look towards the idea of a tour instead. Having someone with a lot of knowledge to guide you when you’re exploring a new country can be a great route to go down. Tours can be found just about anywhere in the world. You have options ranging from wildlife hikes to historical interest walks, and they all have their own joy to offer.

Borrowing A Vehicle

Being able to cover large distances without having to rely on public transport is something which a lot of people lack when they go on vacation. In a place like Australia, though, you need to be able to get from A to B, and this is best achieved with an hire car. You can find loads of companies offering these sorts of services around the web, with the examples you find when you get to your hotel often being some of the cheapest you’ll come across.

Move In Numbers

Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about how you move when you’re taking on something like travel. Being with a large group of people can make this whole process a lot easier. This enables you to take it in turns at the wheel, will make the whole effort cheaper, and will make it easier to deal with situations like finding yourselves lost. Of course, though, you may have to make compromises on what you see when taking this approach.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of seeing as much of Australia as possible. A lot of people work towards goals like this, only to struggle when it comes to making sure that they make the most of their break.

Earn Big Cash Back on your Christmas Shopping

As we quickly approach Christmas, Swagbucks knows you still have lots of shopping to do, and they're offering big cash back for shopping online at several of your favorite retailers right now! Just go to this page to see all of the deals available and get the jump on your holiday shopping. 

In order to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you're all set! Your cash back comes in the form of SB points, which you can redeem for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, or get PayPal cash!  

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before January 1st! This site's a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

Now you can buy more gifts, or save a bit more for your next trip. Both sound like great plans you me!
Pin It button on image hover