My wife and I are planning our next trip. I have been thinking lately about how much work it is Just to even start your trip planning, nonetheless actually plan What you are going to do when you get there. It really boils down to the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where & Why?). I took out How, because the 5 W's & the 1 H doesn't sound as cool. I may also talk about them out of order as well, but here has been my thought process for our upcoming trip to Boone/Blowing Rock.
Why?: This may be the most obvious question. To get away. We are going to try to get away at least once a quarter. If not for my job, then also because its healthy and can be a lot of fun!
Who?: Not sure if anyone read it, however I did a blog article a little while ago that was all about traveling with friends. So, we wanted to make it happen. So, for this next trip we have reached out to some friends and we think its going to work out.
Where?: Already did the beach thing this summer with a family trip to Carolina Beach. Btw, if you would like a list of recommendations for Carolina Beach, I can send pre-done recommendations to you for $25. So, living where we are living, quick trips are often decided between beach and mountains. So, Mountains it is! Now, I've heard great things about Tweetsie Railroad. So, we are looking at using VRBO to rent a cabin near both Blowing Rock and Boone.
When?: I quickly did some research and found out that the weekend of October 7th is the best weekend to go to the Boone/Blowing Rock area for the Fall colors. Then, reached out to our friends and they are free too!
What?: As in what are we going to do when we get there. Well, that's my next research project and it could benefit you too. You can have this trip's pre-done research to, after its done. Also, remember that I custom plan trips for anyone, if they are interested. All I ask is a meeting and the ability to give you a quote for my time.
A friend recently told me, “We are stressed out right now, we need to travel.” This got me thinking about how important traveling is to me, my family and the people that I love or even like :). I whole heartedly agreed with him and it sounds like he was able to encourage the rest of his family as well. So, good for him.
This got me to thinking… “Why do I (specifically) travel?” First of all, I’m fortunate that I can travel. But, if I had to some up why I enjoy it so much I would probably narrow it down to these Top 3 reasons: 1. That’s it typically relaxing. 2. That you are creating new Memories and 3. That it’s an amazing break in the routine. Now, this probably comes as no surprise to you-but, maybe I can give you more ammunition to use with the rest of your family or whomever you are traveling with?
Last weekend, my family and I went to a friend’s lake house. It was so Chill. It was awesome to have such few worries in the world for once. I’ve noticed that despite how the trip goes, I am definitely way less stressed after a trip/vacation then I normally am. Not that I am typically high-strung, but there is something about a vacation that relaxes me.
You may have noticed from my website that I love taking pictures. Sure, a lot of people do. True. Many of the best memories that I have growing up are from our vacations. I know that most of my favorite pictures are those taken from vacations. Plus, we still talk about the trips we’ve taken as a couple/family.
I am a variety person, so taking a trip is also a great break in the routine. To quote Office Space, “Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day.” I am always a little sad after a great trip, like the trip to the Lake House this past weekend, but I know that that means we are doing something right on our trips.
Hope that I can somehow help you with yours?
So, I’ve always thought that vacations are supposed to be with Family. That is until I recently took our beach trip to Carolina Beach with my in-laws. That trip is starting to change my mind, but in a good way. :)
Don’t get me wrong. I Love my family. I Love spending quality time with my family. I also think that Family-Only trips are important. Just like trips with just my Wife. That’s a lot of trips, if we can afford it.
However, recently I have seen the benefit in traveling with friends more and more. From what I can see, I think it comes down to about 3 reasons: that your kids could have a playdate with their kids, that you could possibly have a date night while they watch your kids and finally that when you are “stuck” at home you may not feel as stuck because you are spending that time with good friends.
Your kids have a playdate with another families kids. My 3 year-old daughter would be ecstatic if we took a trip with just 1 of her friends. Heck, my daughter wouldn’t even care if we took a trip with a couple of kids whom technically she’s not really friends with, but instead gets along with.
The chance that you can actually have some quality time with your partner away from where you are staying goes up exponentially. If you have good sleepers and can get them to bed at a reasonable hour and can trust the friends that you have brought along with you on this vacation. You Can Go On A Date Night! Now, I realize that there are a lot of “ands” there, but I feel like we have good sleepers, early sleepers and great friends for the first time in our life!
Finally, even if you and the other family that you are traveling with decide to take a date night. You will probably still have at least one night in which you are all hanging out together. Then, you have options, you can either hang out and talk (outside preferably), play games or watch a movie, etc… This could add to the variety of activities during the evenings that you spend together while on a trip.
Now, if traveling with another couple is not your thing. That’s cool. But, if anyone knows my wife and I, you will know that we like to be around people. It pumps us up. So, for us, traveling with friends may be an incredible option to consider. As long as you get along with them well and have tested this fact before traveling, hopefully each party will also be on their best behavior during the trip. :)
You may know this about me already or you may have noticed it either on my LinkedIn profile or read it in a previous blog, however I am also a part-time Stay At-Home Dad (SAHD). As a SAHD, I try to leave the house once per day/every day. Thanks to the Triangle Stay At-Home Dads, I attend Tuesday and Thursday playgroups regularly with other Dads and their children. Then, usually the other 2 days of the week I am running errands with the kids (chiropractor, grocery shopping, library, etc...).
That typically leaves me 1 day per week in which I explore. It probably wouldn't surprise you that I keep a list of my favorite places to take the kids and I try to make sure that I mix it up and take them somewhere randomly. Depending on my mood, the weather, where we've gone recently and where we'd like to go; we either head to a Park, a Playdate with another Dad, Lunch (typically at a new place that I'd like to try) or keep it at an Inside location (I try my hardest to get the kids outside).
My favorite Parks to take the kids too include parks that are close to where we live, of course, and parks that are too good to pass up. For a park to be worth my time it should be creative, unusual, safe and fun. Some of the best parks near where I live include: Kelly Road Park, Bond Park, Morrisville Community Park, Carpenter Park and Laurel Hills Park. A couple of recommended parks that aren't necessarily close to where I live, but are worth the trip are the RDU Observation Park and Pullen Park.
If its a rainy or snowy day and you still need to get out of the house, there are also a couple of places Inside that I would recommend. Some of my favorite Indoor locations to take the kids include: Monkey Joe's Bounce House, the Museum of Life and Science, the Museum of Natural Sciences, Marbles Kid's Museum, the Rainbow Room, Notasium and the RDU Observation Park/Tower has an inside location as well.
If you are considering stay home with your kids, it is a choice I would recommend. For me, starting a travel agency and getting out of the house (hopefully with another SAHD) are ways in which I have been able to prolong how long I have stayed home. It is something I would recommend and I hope that my suggestions help.
Anyone who knows me, knows how important music is to me. So, they wouldn't be too surprised to know that one of my first blog posts was about music. When I travel, I primarily like to listen to music. Depending on the circumstance, I will be listening to either the radio or my IPhone or Pandora or a Podcast.
I heard, on the radio, that 93% of Americans still listen to the radio. I like to listen to the radio as well, especially the morning shows. However, I don't like listening to commercials, so listening to the radio does have a shelf life depending on what is playing and how many commercials are on.
Usually if the radio isn't doing it for me, I will listen to my IPhone. I will either shuffle songs, do a quick playlist in my head of songs that I want to listen to or listen to a pre-done playlists. My playlists are my bread and butter. A few years ago, I consolidated my songs with my wife's songs and made standard playlists. These playlists include the following categories: BPM (Beats Per Minute), Chilling Mix, Dance Mix, Dinner Mix, Party Mix, Really Chill Mix, Relaxation Mix and Workout Mix. Most of the titles of these mixes and what they are used for make total sense. Besides the obvious mixes, BPM is a type of music that my wife likes, Chilling Mix is basically all of my favorite songs, Dinner Mix is a mix of relaxing music and new music that I have recently purchased and the difference between Really Chill Mix and Relaxation Mix is that basically the songs in the Relaxation Mix could put you to sleep!
For Pandora in the car, its all about the kids for me. I let them listen to a Pandora mix in the car a little less than 1/2 the time we are in the car and usually on the ride home. The Pandora mix is basically a mix of music from their favorite TV shows or movies or groups specifically for kids. This mix does get updated periodically, because Daddy can sometimes get tired of hearing from a specific channel, like Barney. :)
Lastly, if I am along in the car, I like to listen to Podcasts. My podcasts are always updating depending on my interested, but some of my Podcasts that have stayed around for awhile include: my church's podcast, travel agency job related podcasts, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know", "Pod Save America", "The Tim Ferriss Show", "TED Radio Hour" and "Freakonomics Radio".
Hopefully I have given you some ideas of something you could listen to while you are traveling? Please comment below with some of the things you listen to.
Well, it was a lot of work, but we did it. A successful beach trip with the In-Laws. It was relaxing (as much as it can be with 2 young girls), fun and the food/dessert was amazing almost everywhere we went.
We used VRBO https://www.vrbo.com/ to book the Awake and Ready Oceanfront Condo http://www.a1propertyman.com/property/awake-and-ready?PageDataID=96574. This condo, besides being on the 3rd floor, was perfect for our stay. It was a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo. So, our family could share a bath and my in-laws could share a bath.
I highly recommend the Fort Fisher Aquarium for a fun place to take the kids http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher. I even bought a purple stuffed animal sea turtle for my daughter.
We enjoyed everywhere we ate at. Michael's Seafood for lunch http://www.mikescfood.com/, the Deck House for dinner http://www.deckhousecasualdining.com/ and finally, our favorite, Jack Mackerel's for lunch http://www.jackmacksgrill.com on the way back home from the aquarium. Jack Mackerel's was recommend to us and boy, were they right. Their shrimp and grouper was so amazing that my wife wanted to go back their again for dinner the following night. I convinced her to try another restaurant instead, but can guarantee that we will make a return trip to Jack Mackerel's when we visit Carolina Beach again next summer.
Another awesome surprise was a bakery called Big Apple Bakery http://www.bigapplecafeandbakerync.com/. I initially went for just a buckeye, but I left after eating a cupcake, buying 6 buckeyes and some coffee. I could have bought much, much more. The best thing about this bakery is that they had no problem accommodating food allergies. Not only do they have gluten-free options, but they will also customize your order. My wife was able to get a custom order of macaroons. This is a picture of the cupcake I had to buy.
Of course, no beach trip is complete without ice cream and Squigley's is definitely worth a visit http://squigleysicecream.com/. Almost everyone in our family got "Squiggled." LOL! The gift gallery upstairs is also very cool. I easily bought $20 of items including 2 items for my office desk and something for both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law. We liked Squigley's so much we went as a couple and with kids.
I am so glad that I did all of the prep work for this trip that I did. It was well worth it.
So, you booked a beach trip with the in-laws. What were you thinking? Just kidding... kind of. :) Even if you enjoy spending time with your in-laws, preparing for a beach trip with kids is a lot of work. Lets say that at this point you have already booked the dates and the location and the lodging. There is still work to do. Its just a beach trip, you say... Well, if you want it to be worthwhile, you may want to plan. What are you planning on doing when you get there? What things might you want to buy before you arrive? If you aren't eating out for every meal then when are you grocery shopping/what are you going to eat? Finally, when are you packing and what time are you leaving? Even a simple trip to the beach without the proper planning can create conflict.
What are planning on doing when you get there? So, you have options in this category. You can plan it yourself. That's cool, you know I do that for a living right? If you would like, I can do the research for you. If you are interested, check out the "Custom Plan" section of my website.
Ok, enough self promotion. What might you need? Depends on how old you kids are and what they will be doing. We are going to Carolina Beach next week and have a 1 and 3 year old. Plus, we have 2 more adults (Grandma and Grandpa). Therefore, our small tent that we Had, just won't do anymore. I recommend: Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent Deluxe XL. After some research, I determined it was the best option for us. It can easily fit 2 adults and 2 kids. Make sure to practice opening it, preferably in a bonus room, when the kids are napping, before you try to figure out how to open it while you are at the beach.
Another product we figured might come in handy, since we are renting a beachfront house was a beach wagon cart. Now, this cart is practical and you can pack anything in it and also it is made specifically for the beach. Mac Sports Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding All Terrain Utility Beach Wagon Cart, Blue/White.
So, tomorrow is the last day that you have as a possible day in which you can grocery shop and you have no idea what to get? Well, you will need to make some type of a meal plan first and then you can go from there figuring out when you are planning on going to these amazing restaurants at your beach location. We decided on having 1 meal per day at the beach location. We are there for a total of 3 full days and so are planning on eating 2 meals out for dinner and 1 meal out for lunch. That means that we will need to plan to make at least 2 meals with 1 meal possibly being leftovers. Luckily our house that we are renting has a stove top and an oven. But, we still needed to figure out what we could easily make in that kitchen for 4 adults that could make leftovers. Then, we needed to shop for those items.
Packing, in itself, is a whole separate blog post. However, our beach trip is on this coming Monday and so we will need to pack before then, obviously. Though, that is just another thing to plan for. After all this work, it is starting to make more and more sense to me why people use travel agents for everything travel related. I wish I could help you figure out what you need to buy for your trip and what you should plan on eating as well, however I can help with where you are going, how you are getting there, where you are staying and what you are doing; if you are interested.
Well, we are going on a trip with the in-laws. Free babysitting, am I right? Wish us luck!
Please forgive me, as this is my first blog post... Ever. See, I never thought that I had anything important that I had to share. I would read other people's blog posts and think, "Wow, glad I read that," but never thought to have my own.
But, when I mentioned to a friend that I was going to start a Travel Agency, she told me that people do want to read what you know. I was hesitant at first, but have grown into the idea of sharing my thoughts on my website/blog. The more I think about blogging, the more I am getting excited about it.
I'm not just getting excited about blogging, I'm getting excited about creating a New Company! Every day I am learning so much about travel, about owning a small business and about finally having a project that I can do while I stay home that takes me away from the stress of staying at home with my kids.
I titled this blog post, "And... We're Off!,' because my family likes to "GO!," and that is exactly what my 3 year-old, Julia, says every time we back out of the garage. "We're Off!" works for this company, this website and the fact that I have become a Travel Agent. Anyone that knows my family, knows that having my 3 year-old say, "And... We're Off!," when we try to leave daily in the morning to go do... something, makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, my hope in creating this company is to learn about travel, specifically family travel. It is also to be able to continue to stay home with the girls. Finally, my hope is that I can help you on your trip. That your family will be ready to travel and everyone can say, "And... We're Off!," instead of "And... Problems!"