Why We Travel

I have read several posts about why to travel alone, or travel with a group, or travel with family. All of these make their own points to why they prefer each method of traveling, but don’t really drive the point home of why they are traveling in the first place. For starters, I am not going into this pretending to be a travel expert, or even claim that I have traveled more than 5% of the earth, because I haven’t (yet). What I am going to share are my reasons to travel with another person, and like the title says, why we travel.

I have never been a stranger to traveling, but until a year and a half ago I hadn’t been out of the country. To some people that is a huge deal because there are so many places outside of the US, and while I totally agree, there are plenty of things to do within the US as well. But since that is not the point of my post, I will start with why I prefer to travel with others.

Lately, I have had my travel experiences alone since it has been mostly business trips. Every time I snap a photo, enjoy a beautiful scene, or stop by a local coffee shop, I think how much I wish Dave, my mom, or my sister were with me. I wish they were able to soak up every bit of this new moment alongside me, instead of me telling them about it, or showing them the experience virtually. I spend most of my free time on this trips endlessly wandering (or trying to find a Target). Experiencing a new area is a lot of fun, I would just enjoy it more if I had someone with me.

Another bonus, there are several in my opinion- but I won’t share them all, to traveling with someone else is sharing the cost of things such as a hotel room, cab ride, meal, etc. This can go either way though. If you opt for public transportation, you will each need to pay the fare or pay extra for two beds, but I would rather spend the extra money on things like that and be able to try some of two meals at a new restaurant instead of one (I just really like food, okay?).

After deciding how you want to travel, you should think about the why you want to travel. Personally there are two main reasons I like to travel, the experiences in new places and leaning more about yourself. Each new place holds a new experience, whether it be something minimal, like seeing 60 deer in one small front yard (I am looking at you Marble Falls, Texas), or something enchanting like chatting with the locals at a cafe in France.

Every travel experience holds something new for me, and teaches me something about myself. Whether something calms me, stresses me, captivates me, or intrigues me, I am always feeling some sort of emotion while I travel. For example, I had no idea I would get so upset when the bike rental wouldn’t take my card, but I also didn’t know seeing the area of Mont Martre would bring tears to my eyes.

Up until I met Dave my mom was by far my favorite travel partner. We have been to California 3 times just the two of us, and those will remain some of my favorite vacations. We always have so much fun together, enjoying the beach one minute and then hiking the Hollywood hills the next (not really that close since the traffic is always terrible). Both of us are adventurous and get bored easily so we try and squeeze as much into a vacation as possible. We have our favorite spots and an endless list of new places we want to visit.

California will always be our dream destination when we are together. The reason for these trips is to remind ourselves how blessed we are to have each other. Whenever we have been arguing, or simply not seeing each other a lot we have planned a trip to California. It really brings us closer, and holds us off another few years until we can go again.

Then there are the reasons Dave and I like to travel together. We have a very long list of “Travel Wants”, like the ones I shared here and here, and we are always adding more. Our main goal at this point in our lives is to learn more about each other, and the best way to do this is to travel. We get to see each other in new situations, experience new things together, and learn about the world at the same time. That is the reason I travel.

Traveling is a huge eye opener and brings so many other experiences to light, and I only wish others could travel more often. There is nothing like being out of your comfort zone in a new area and needing to adapt to your surroundings, or driving through the mountains and watching the snow roll over the top. If you have ever thought about taking a trip somewhere, do it! If you have a vacation in mind, take it! And if you are one of those lucky travel bloggers that has been able to make a life out of it, enjoy it! Traveling is the best way to experience a life full of wonder.

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From Here To There {Chicago}

Over the summer I traveled to Chicago twice. While it isn’t one of my favorite cities, it offered up a nice variety of things to fill my time. What I loved most about this city is the beach area to the left of Navy Pier, I believe it is called North Beach. I took a nice walk around this part and it was so pretty! There were groups of people lounging on the beach, biking, playing volleyball and practicing cheerleading. There was also an area to play chess or checkers, I love when cities have an open of built in games for friends, or others enjoying their lunch.

The view flying into Midway is amazing, it was a nice welcome to the new (for me) city.

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The first hotel is stayed in was the Millennium Knickerbocker. There seems to be a lot of history from this hotel, and it had really nice rooms but on my last night someone was working in the utility closet right next to my room. This kept me up for half of the night, which annoyed me a bit since I had an early flight the next morning.  The best thing about the hotel was the bar though, the drinks were awesome and I love when there are nuts to snack on while chitchatting. I also really loved the vintage style elevator. I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

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After checking into my hotel, I walked 2 blocks away to rent a bike and explore a bit. I went towards Navy Pier, and then it started to pour down rain. I got pretty soaked but eventually found another bike station and ran into the pier building. This was a nice time to explore the shops inside and buy some souvenirs for my siblings.

Once the rain stopped I rented another bike and went around the water to get a few blocks from Millennium Park. It was tucked away in a really cool spot with a large garden, field and around the corner from structures that sprayed water for children to play in. I loved the atmosphere of this part of the city, it made it feel like you were in the suburbs.

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IMG_9099I decided to walk a little more before getting another bike and was in awe at the beautiful structures and buildings. I made my way to the Chicago River, past the Chicago theatre and then to Magnificent Mile. Maybe one day I will be around to see the river turned green for St. Patricks day, although it still looked pretty green. It was a really great first day exploring the city. I highly recommend getting a daily pass for a bike. Each time you rent one you have 30 minutes to dock it at another bike station. Within 24 hours I used 6 bikes and it only cost $7, so worth it and you get great exercise!

 

The next day we went to an amazing restaurant for dinner, I believe it has been on Man Vs. Foods but I can’t remember the name of the place. Such a bummer because I would love to eat there again. Notice everyone else in the photo taking a picture of their meal. After my huge dinner, I needed a walk around the beach. It was a great end to a conference week in Chicago.

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The next time I visited Chicago, I stayed in the Hyatt Regency. Let me tell you, it was a huge hotel! I also had a great view from my room. There was basically no reason to leave, except I wanted to go shopping, so I left for a little while. I had also never enjoyed deep dish pizza, so I did that for the first time. I loved it. I could only have 1 slice because it was so large, but so very worth the extra calories. There was also an underground mall area right next to the hotel with great restaurants.

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I will be back again in the spring, so I am open to suggestions about what I should do!

From Here to There {Jamaica pt. 2}

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I am excited to finally be sharing the rest of our trip to Jamaica! I can’t believe it was already 2 months ago. I miss that amazing water, awesome drinks and quality time with Dave like anything. At least I get to relive it all over again as I share our fun times with all of you!

Our third day was the first day with actual plans. We had so many options everyday for games, activities, drinks, meals, etc and we had to start planning some of them if we wanted to do everything we had in mind. We also had to keep in mind which things were happening on certain days to keep everything in check.

jam 2 jamWe made sure to start getting up kind of early so we could experience the most amount of time around the resort. It was really nice waking up early one morning and walking around everywhere with Dave. Their was a slight run in with the largest spiders I have ever seen, but I quickly ran away (with tears in my eyes) and tried to avoid them at. all. cost.

After our morning touring the resort, we spent some more time at our favorite place- the pool bar. After getting a few drinks we were off to Dunns River Falls. We had heard from everyone to make sure we made the trip to the falls, and while I am really happy we did it wasn’t the best or what I imagined, more on that in another post though. I recommend bringing some drinks onto the bus, it’s about a half-hour away and why wait that long for some more rum punch? In the end we did have a good time.

We made it back just in time for the Newlywed game at the pool bar, and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in the sun. We had reservations that night at Eight Rivers, which I highly recommend. If you are able to eat there more than once, do it! We started to order one of everything just to try it, and still ended up eating it all. After our great dinner we spent some more time walking around the resort, and realized the Buda pool was still open. Another perfect ending to an awesome day.

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We started the next day with Scuba Diving! So much fun! I have never been to water this beautiful, and the fish were all different colors. I really felt like I was transported to another world. I wish we would have went diving everyday, but afterwards we were exhausted. Which only meant laying down by the pool bar…are you seeing a trend here? After catching up on a little rest we were off to the catamaran trip!

This trip was the best thing we did the whole vacation! The waters were rough so we weren’t able to go swimming in a cove, but I didn’t care on bit. The rum punch was constantly flowing, the boat was rocking, and everyone was having a blast. I can’t even describe the color of the water out in this part of the ocean, it was like a royal, no teal, no more blue…like I said, I can’t even put it into words! We made some more friends on this trip, and I couldn’t have imagined the trip being any better. I also was called up on “stage” to learn all of the dances, I have no fear when it comes to dancing that is for sure.

That evening was the beach party, another really fun resort activity. There were tables, chairs, and twinkling lights put all over the beach and festive music was playing while everyone ate. The food was also spectacular! One of the resort staff we became good friends with told us to make sure I volunteered Dave when they asked for guys to take part in a game…so of course, I did.

We didn’t know it until he was on stage with 13 other guys that he was now a part of a dance competition! I was instantly nervous for him, Dave doesn’t mind dancing with me, but alone he isn’t the best (sorry, Dave! I hope you don’t read this). The winner was determined by the audience, so I was hopeful a few people would clap along with me. When it was his turn to rock out he blew me away! Barbie Girl was the song he had to move to and he did amazing! He pulled out all kinds of moves from Magic Mike to Dirty Dancing it was incredible. The crowd was digging it! He moved on the the final round, when I had to join him. Let me just say, they instantly handed us the grand prize 😉

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After such an eventful night we were prepared for another drink filled day the next morning and didn’t plan on doing too much, but that didn’t last long. A few of the people we met were going to another water fall and asked if we wanted to join. We were promised this would be what we were hoping to get from Dunn’s River, so we obliged. Blue Hole was the 2nd best thing we did the entire trip! We were able to freely climb the falls, swing on ropes, jump off cliffs and swim through waterfalls. It was completely perfect, and the best thing is it only cost $10 to do it! Soooo worth it!

Unfortunately this was our last day in paradise so we soaked in a few more hours around the resort and already started to miss our wonderful vacation. We had such a perfect time and I can’t wait to go back to Jamaica! We have a few more places to go in-between though!

Dave also made a great video to summarize our wonderful vacation! I’ll be posting more about the resort and things to do soon.

Wanderlust pt. 2

To go along with my top 7 places to visit outside of the United States from last week, I want to share my top 7 travel destinations from my bucket list within the United States. It’s pretty hard to pick only 7 because there are so many beautiful places within a 6ish hour plane ride. We are very lucky to be near so many airports, and I fully take advantage of that as often as I am able.

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Firebanks, Alaska- Can we all agree that the Northern Lights look amazing? I would love to experience first hand the beauty from under the stars and I have heard Firebanks is the #1 location for viewing. I would also like to visit other areas of Alaska and this would be a great reason to go.

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Charleston, South Carolina- This area of South Carolina looks incredibly charming. I love the older streets full of quaint shops, the nicer weather and the nautical feel of the restaurants. This would be the perfect getaway from Maryland for a weekend.

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Seattle, Washington- The culture, arts, and rainy days all seem to go together perfectly with a cup of coffee. I can also relate with the “12th man” that is the fan base for the Seahawks. I love how the fans really mean something to the players and the organization, as Ravens fan, I can relate 😉

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Portland, Oregon- The main reason for this one is the fashion style. I love the look of gals in vintage dresses and guys in skinny ties as their normal attire, and it looks like Portland has that going on. I have half planned a trip here many times and there are so many things to do outside, and then inside for the evening.

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Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida- If you want to escape to a national park about 60 miles from Key West, this is where you need to be. You are only able to arrive by boat, but once you get there prepare to experience magnificent blue waters, Fort Jefferson and coral reefs.

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Wine Country, California- This one speaks for itself I think. Out of the list this one is probably the most likely to happen within the next year. I would love to soak in the vineyards with good friends, great wine, and probably delicious cheese as well.

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Hawaii- I would be fine with just about any area of Hawaii. Every island has something nice to offer and I wouldn’t mind touring each of them for a few days. My number one reason for wanting to travel to Hawaii would be learning to surf, I know I could do it in other parts of the US but who wouldn’t want to learn in the beautiful waters on this coast.

 

Hopes & Plans {Wanderlust}

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First let me say I am loving the idea of a themed Hopes & Plans to talk about my Travel Bucket List! I have posted about this before, but it is always fun to talk about it again, and a few of my destinations have changed a bit. My list is endless, so I figured I would share my top 7 places outside of the US today, and then next week (since the Hopes & Plans link-up is becoming a monthly thing, I will share my top 7 within the US).

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Dublin, Ireland- I have some Irish heritage in my family, so that is one of the main reasons, but in general I would love to soak in all of the history in Ireland. I want to stroll through the castles, drink for a few hours in a pub, hear stories being told is adorable Irish accents, and see places I could only imagine in my dreams. Every photo of Ireland looks magical, and the movies portray it as a fairytale land. I would love to experience that first hand.

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Venice, Italy- Luckily, I will be spending 3 days in Venice next summer during my honeymoon, but until that day arrives it will continue to be on my bucket list. I can’t wait for the canals, romance, history, food, wine, and everything in between. I want to wander the streets until it’s dark and wish I could live in a place as beautiful as (anywhere) in Europe.

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Bali (Thank you, Eat, Pray, Love)- Have you watched Eat, Pray, Love? If not- I highly recommend it, if you have, I am almost 100% sure you want to go to Bali now too. has such a life changing experience while she is there. I want to learn about the culture, soak in the sun, and eat foods I would have never thought about trying. A room over the water would be an added bonus.

sydney

Sydney, Australia- Australia has been on my bucket list since I was 7 years old. Then the Real World went there and I just about died. The beaches, people, accents (can ya tell I have a thing for accents?), animals (minus the spiders-eeek!), food, etc all seem amazing. It is also pretty cool that the seasons are opposite ours, so for the first time ever I could have a pool party for my birthday.

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Iceland- A few of my friends have taken trips to Iceland and it looks amazing! It also helps that Kaelene from Unlocking KiKi shares so many wonderful stories from her expat life there. One day I will visit The Blue Lagoon, waterfalls, and explore Reykjavik.

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Tokyo, Japan- Tokyo is one of Dave’s top destinations and since talking to him about it, it has become one of mine as well. He wants to experience it for the cars, but I want to visit for the nonstop happenings. The photos make it seem like New York City to another level. I also wouldn’t mind having Japanese food everyday all day.

What is on your Travel bucket list?

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From Here To There {Amsterdam}

I admit, I really judged Amsterdam before taking a trip there myself, and I am very happy I decided to give it a chance. When Dave and I decided to visit my best friend and her husband in Paris last year, we knew we wanted to take a day trip or two. I planned on Germany, London, or South France or somewhere in-between, never did I ever plan to go to Amsterdam. I had such a bad image of this wonderful city, and I feel terrible about judging a city by it’s movie reputation of drugs and the Red Light District.

First, I will share my experience from driving from Paris to Amsterdam. It was such a beautiful scenic drive, and I didn’t even think twice about having to be in a very tiny car for 6 hours. We made an overnight stop on the way in Brussels, which is another beautiful, amazing, fun and historical city. When we were back on the road, I really enjoyed seeing all of the tiny farm houses, interesting architecture and even a KFC in the shape of a bucket of chicken. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get from one country to another, it was like driving into another state, except the GPS would flash the country flag wherever we were to get to another country line. As we drove into Amsterdam, I could’t wait to explore the city. Everything looked so beautiful, and the canals were breathtaking.

I was in awe as we walked around, I tried to soak it all in during our 30 hours in the city, but I’m not sure any amount of time would have been enough. There was a great family atmosphere during the day, and a fun and exciting nightlife. I wanted to do everything I could, but my main goal was to see the “I AMSTERDAM” letters, since they move I didn’t know if we would be able to find them, but we did as soon as we arrived. Check off of the Bucket List!

Something we decided to do spontaneously was take a canal ride. The canal throughout the city was amazing, it was actually quite magical. I can’t imagine getting places by boat all of the time, what a wonderful life. As we were walking down one of the main streets, I happened to ask how much a ride was 10 euros each..I am in! The four of us hopped in, got great seats next to the window and were able to enjoy the sunset via boat. I highly recommend taking a canal trip during the day, and in the evening.

My favorite part was the amount of motor vehicles, or lack of actually! Almost everyone had a bike, you would see them on the street, locked to the canal fence, in the bike parking garage..yes, you read that right a BIKE parking garage! It was a very cool experience, I would love to go back one day and rent a bike for several hours.

I will be going back to Amsterdam at some point, and really hope I am able to stay for a few days. Since it is impossible to put into words how amazing this city is, here are some pictures to help you day dream!

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From Here to There {Jamaica Mon!}

recap picIt has been two whole weeks since I was sitting on the beach with a coconut in my hand. We had such an amazing time, and I can’t wait to give you a day by day recap, tell you all about the reasons we picked all-inclusive, and explain why I think you should go to Jamaica! But, for now, I am going to start with some recapping. I am going to mostly let the pictures do the talking, so be prepared for sun, sand, and wishes of being on a beach as fall rolls in full speed ahead.

We kicked off our vacation with manis and pedis by the airport the night before we took flight. This vacation was with two of our best friends, and we figured why not start it off with a bang (we also had a bottle of champagne, and danced to Shake it Off)! IMG_0183.JPG

We woke up the next morning at 4 and couldn’t wait to get our butts on that plane! We had a 2 hour layover in Miami which called for some drinks and impatiently waiting to leave the states!

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We had packed tons of minis to start our hour and a half plane ride into Montego Bay Airport in the best way possible. We also supplied some of our neighbors with minis because we didn’t realize just how many we had. (excuse my dirty hair, I promised I washed it a few hours before, but something about planes is like boom…instantly dirty)IMG_0209.JPG

I may have started to feel crazy claustrophobic from sitting in the middle, or it may have been the alcohol, but we finally made it!

We stood in line for about an hour waiting to get through customs, if we make this trip again, I highly recommend  Club Mobay, you will skip right through this line and get right to your vacation.

Once we were through all of that we made it to the Couples section of the airport which supplied us with plenty of Red Stripe as we waited for our resort shuttle. We also met some locals and sand “Rude” with them. What a wonderful way to kick off our vacation!IMG_0217.JPG

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IMG_0218.JPGThen we were finally on the shuttle! We made two stops to get refills on our drinks and grab some meat pies (ummm delicious!). The ride was supposed to take over 2 hours, but we made it in an hour and a half because our driver was insane. We didn’t hate it!

In the shuttle van!

In the shuttle van!

Stopping for  rum punch and meat pies

Stopping for rum punch and meat pies

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RIP to my favorite Raybans 😦 they were stolen halfway into the trip

When we arrived at Couples Tower Isle we were in awe. The whole resort is beautiful and right away we were greeted with the nicest group of people! We checked in and headed to our rooms to start continue enjoying adult beverages with our best friends.first day 5

IMG_0224.JPGOur first stop was the pool bar, we knew this was the first thing we wanted to do and we ended up meeting another awesome couple, as well as the best bartender on the property! We wanted to make lots of friends, and lifelong Facebook friends during this trip, and we were off to a great start!

Pool bar!

Pool bar!

That evening was a beach side pool party, I wish I  had better pictures of this but just imagine tables and chairs surrounding a pool with live music and delicious food.

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Day two started with the beach! Since the pool bar didn’t open until 10am we figured we would go for a swim in the warmest water ever. The Caribbean is seriously so incredibly beautiful and I am already planning our next vacation to anywhere on the Caribbean. My grandmother said “Once that blue water is in your blood, you will always go back” and that is so true. The Atlantic Ocean just won’t cut it anymore.

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Maryland Pride!

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There were rafts on every chair throughout the resort, you were able to take these into the pool, ocean or lounge on them. There were also orange floats in the ocean that you could lounge on, another thing I wish we had in Ocean City!

We also had an amazing dinner that night, but pictures weren’t possible after all of the drinks that day 😉

I hope you enjoyed reading about our first two days! Be on the lookout for the 2nd recap with the rest of our adventures!Signature