#TravelDiaries – Vacation’s Hottest New Trend

About to go on an amazing vacation and want a unique way to document it? Why not try to craft a travel diary? It’s more than a scrapbook or an envelope to store your odds and ends. These fun books can be found both online and in bookstores. With a little imagination and a few pens and pencils, you’ll be able to make a keepsake of your vacation that will last for years to come.

Amazon- Amazon.com : travel diary

If you have no idea where to start to purchase your travel diary, start here. Let’s face it, what doesn’t Amazon sell? They have all kinds of books and journals from which to choose, including all kinds of leather journals with handmade paper. The sky is the limit when purchasing your travel journal, and there are no rules. Buy journals with or without pockets, lined paper or clean, the choice is yours. Don’t forget to buy colored pencils, gel pens, black pens, and anything else you might want to journal your travels. Alternately, these books can also be found in a brick-and-mortar bookstore such as Barnes & Noble.

Pinterest Ideas- 65 Best DIY Travel Journal ideas | travel journal, journal, travel book (pinterest.com)

You might not have the foggiest idea how to get started with your travel journal. Don’t worry, here are some ideas from Pinterest. Since there are no rules, you are free to make your journal your own, with a beach or a mountain flair, depending on your vacation. Colors, pictures, and varying layouts are what make a travel journal unique and interesting, and these are the things to keep in your mind while creating one. Perhaps you might even think of your own questions to jot down before you leave on vacation to answer once you get there. Make it a family affair and dedicate different pages to different family members. Once everyone is involved in memory-making, crafting your travel journal will become a part of the vacation fun.

Keepsakes- 25 Items & Ideas To Include In Your Travel Journal — Roam + Go Lightly (roamandgolightly.com)

What are some things you should keep from your vacation to include in your travel journal? Here are some ideas. Menus, transit tickets, pressed flowers, receipts, photos from an instant camera, plane tickets, stickers, napkins, and other items from your time away. Souvenirs and keepsakes from your vacation are some of the best ways to preserve memories of your vacation. Why not include a fun little story to go with each, what you might remember at that restaurant, what you were doing when you took that photo. This keeps your travel diary interesting and personal.

Travel Diaries App- Create your own travel diary online | Travel Diaries (traveldiariesapp.com)

Perhaps you don’t want to lug a book and a bunch of colored pens and pencils with you on vacation. You can log all your adventures in an online app called the Travel Diaries App. Choose your layout, your pictures, your text, your fonts, and away you go! The app itself is free and you’ll be able to share your digital travel diaries with friends and family. For anyone who might not be imaginatively or artistically inclined, this is your answer.

Whether tactile or digital, you’ll have a great time making a memento to enjoy long after the vacation is over.

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Book a Haven Hideaway on Your #SummerVacation

Everyone wants to stay cool on their summer vacation, and where do they go more often than not? The beach. Temperatures might be cooler near the water and the scenery second to none, but sometimes you just want to get away and not have to worry about crowds of people and non-existent parking. Let’s take a look at some other more out-of-the-way and intimate summer vacation ideas that doesn’t involve the headache of massive crowds, long wait times, and gouges to your wallet.

A Cabin in the Woods

Who wouldn’t want to stay tucked away in the woods, secluded from the city, away from all the hustle and bustle? The only thing to wake you is the lilting tune of birdsong, and the only thing to do is read a book, play a game, or do a puzzle. The only decision you’ll have to make is what’s for dinner. Sounds like heaven. 

Camping in the Mountains

You can find a deluxe campground just about anywhere, but some of the best are hidden gems that are off the beaten path. Nature hikes, babbling brooks, and pine trees galore are the theme of the day, and the only worry you’ll have is raccoons stealing your burger buns. Enjoy a roaring campfire, some good ol’ s’mores, and sing a few songs with the family. It’s good to unplug and reconnect with nature, and the cooler mountain air will bring some relief to those hot summer nights. 

Vacation Home by the Lake

There are so many rental home websites these days, take your pick and rent a home by the lake! So much more convenient than crowded and noisy hotels, renting a home brings relaxation and a slower pace to your vacation, as you can enjoy your morning coffee on the deck overlooking the water. Take a shower when you like, take a nap as well. Forget your responsibilities back home and enjoy yourself. Save money by making your own meals and rent a boat for a day on the lake. You’ll stay cool near the water, yet enjoy the quiet of a private home.

Splurge on the Penthouse or Suite

Perhaps nature isn’t your thing, yet you love the idea of getting away in the quiet. Take the plunge and book the penthouse or a luxury suite of a hotel. Not only will you enjoy all the perks of being in the city, you’ll also love all the opulence a suite or penthouse can afford. Take advantage of room service and never leave your deluxe hideaway. Spend all day in bed and wear nothing but bathrobes. Unwind with the view and take advantage of all a penthouse has to offer.

Whether in a tent or in the penthouse, in a cabin or a private home, we’re sure you can find just what you’re looking for to have the perfect haven hideaway for your summer vacation. Get away from the crowds and keep your vacation an intimate affair. You will not regret it.

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What to Do on Your #Staycation

Sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for a big family vacation. Sometimes we just need time to decompress at home. A staycation is a perfect alternative to the vacation away, and while you don’t need to leave your home, you also don’t need to leave adventure behind.

But what can you do on a staycation that favors the wallet yet promotes fun for the whole family? Thankfully, we have some great suggestions for you.

Go on a Hike

Finding a nature trail and going on a hike does not put a dent in the pocketbook and if you pack a lunch and go for the day, your whole family can have fun in the great outdoors. Even if you’re in the big city and don’t want to drive to the mountains, there are plenty of walking trails and parks to explore within the urban jungle. Take a picnic with you and explore the sights and sounds of nature around your city.

Play Board Games/Do Puzzles

Want to stay in but don’t want to watch TV for your entire staycation? Gather up the family and pull out the old board games and puzzles. All too often we don’t spend quality time with our kids anymore. Thankfully there are so many more boardgames available these days than Sorry!, Monopoly, and the Game of Life. Head on down to your local game store and see what they have on the shelves. Let the kids pick their favorites and make a weekend of it! The best memories of all are when all of us are together.

Stay a Night or Two in a Local Hotel

Sure, you haven’t left town, but getting a new perspective on your city might be just the thing to make you feel like you’re on a vacation in another place. Getting you out of your house for a couple of nights might be just the thing to clear your head and energize you. If you live in the suburbs, booking a room in the middle of downtown, or vice versa, will give you that feeling of excitement of being in a new place, yet not actually leaving the area at all. Check out local restaurants in close proximity to your hotel, check out the shops, and wander your city as if seeing it again with new eyes.

Backyard Camping 

As many avid staycationers know, backyard camping can be the perfect choice to leave it all behind yet not actually go anywhere at all. The beauty of it is that if you have a large backyard, just set up the tent and camp out right next to your house! Gone are the worries of where to go to the bathroom or how to brew the morning coffee, because you haven’t left your home at all! Get yourself out under the stars, eat a burger off the grill, buy a firepit and eat some s’mores. Your kids will have the time of their lives. Backyard camping is a very inexpensive, yet extremely fun way to maximize your staycation without having to go anywhere fantastic or expensive. 

Imagination is key when choosing activities for your next family staycation.

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How to Have the Perfect #RoadTrip

If you’re planning a road trip in the near future, it doesn’t matter if you’re driving cross-country or only for the day. In order to arrange the perfect road trip, you should be willing to plan, but also willing to be spontaneous, to prepare, but also to remain pleasantly unprepared. Here are some tips we’ve compiled for going on a road trip to remember. 

Pack a Lunch

Even if you plan out all the places you’ll eat along the way, it is a good idea to take some food should the unforeseen happen, such as a break down or a flat tire. Snacks, drinks, and an easy meal are a good idea. Bring items to make it a picnic, or plan to eat on the go, it doesn’t matter. But be prepared should you get a little peckish while on the go. 

Do Your Research

It’s better to plan your route rather than just get in the car and drive. Planning your road trip ensures you can plan for rest stops as well as scenic vistas you might miss just tootling around the countryside willy-nilly. If you want to have a stunning adventure, you’ll need to plan it out, at least a day in advance to know how far you’ll need to go before stopping for the night and also how much fuel you’ll need as well. Be smart – don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Make a plan.

Remember to Be Spontaneous

If, while you’re driving, a sign points to something amazing down a little dirt road, take the time to go explore. Little sidetracks are okay on your road trip, and in fact make it more full of adventure. Stop at the kitschy antique store, check out the dusty bookstore. These things are part of the fun and the charm of your time, just make sure they are the side dish and not the main course.

Take the Long Way Around

Whatever route is the most scenic and beautiful, take that route. Drive on the windy mountain road, the coastal road, the desert highway. Take the time to see parts of our country that not many people do. Enjoy all the sights, sounds, colors, and wildlife that might cross your path. Stop to watch the sunset and take the time to stargaze. Don’t be in a rush but take it all in and make the most of your memories.

Bring Something to Do 

Not every road trip is fantastic 100% of the time. Be sure to bring a book, make a music playlist, load some podcasts, listen to an audio book, buy some word finds, do crossword puzzles, watch some movies, or play fun road games with family. During the long stretch of highway between sights, you shouldn’t be bored at all.

Wherever your destination, sometimes the journey to get there can be more fun. Make the most of it by planning ahead to have the perfect road trip of a lifetime.

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#BeachDay Getaway – What to Bring on Your Day Trip

A day at the beach certainly sounds magical – until you get to the beach and realize you’ve forgotten something. Here is a convenient list of must-have items that is sure to make your next day trip to the beach a certain success.

Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and Hats, Oh My!

First and foremost, let’s not forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Even if your beach day is cool and overcast, you’ll still want to bring these items as harmful UV rays from the sun can penetrate even the thickest of clouds. You’ll get a sunburn regardless and you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t bring a hat.

Beach Towel or a Blanket

Whether or not you actually plan on getting into the water, you’ll want a beach towel or a blanket to lay out on the sand. This will give you not only a place to sit, but protection from the sand getting into everything you own, especially if you bring food.

Snacks and Lunch

Make your beach day all the more special by packing snacks and a lunch so you don’t have to leave when you get hungry! Watch out for those sea gulls, however, as they’ll likely try to steak your PB & J right out of your hand.

Water and Drinks

Be sure to bring water and drinks, as a day on the beach is a thirsty affair, and adults, kids, and dogs will need to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Books or a Small Radio

Everyone reads on the beach, so don’t forget your perfect summer book. Or if you prefer, bring your little radio or Bluetooth speaker and play your favorite tunes while laying out on your blanket. Just don’t have your music too loud to avoid disturbing other people who might want to read.

Collapsing Lawn Chairs

If you don’t want to sit on your beach towels, make sure you bring folding chairs. These are easy to carry as they collapse to go into a special pouch with a shoulder strap to make transporting them all the easier. These chairs are a must for older beachgoers or anyone who doesn’t want to get sand all over themselves. Many of these chairs have drink holders, and some even come with convenient side tables. Do not forget these at home!

Light Jackets & Swimsuits

Even if it’s the height of summer, sometimes a day at the beach can be a bit chilly. Make sure you bring some kind of warm covering if the wind kicks up. Are you planning on swimming? Then obviously you’ll need to bring your swimsuit as well!

Toys

Don’t forget sandcastles, wave-riding, and kite-flying! Kids of all ages love beach toys of all kinds, so be sure to bring buckets and shovels for that masterpiece castle the kids will build, boogie boards for your older teens, surfboards for the young adults, and grab yourself a kite from the local souvenir shop. But above all else, be sure to have a great time!

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#TravelTheWorld – Your Update about Europe Opening up to Americans

It’s been a long wait. When borders shut down over a year ago, no one thought they would be closed for this long. But the European Union has just announced a reversal of their ban on non-essential travel for American citizens. Here’s everything you need to know so you can travel the world once again.

Who Does This Apply To

We aren’t going completely back to normal. Leisure travel will not be opening up to all Americans. Instead, this will allow vaccinated Americans to come to Europe.

The 27 member states of the European Union only want people vaccinated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. Luckily for Americans, the three vaccines being used in the United States (Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson) have all been approved by the EMA.

What Will I Need to Do

Of course, your first step will be to make sure you are vaccinated. The good news is that in many places, vaccinations are now open for everyone above the age of 16. In states where the vaccinations have been moving along quickly, like New York, you no longer need an appointment, you can just walk in.

Note that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses three weeks apart, and you won’t be considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after your final dose. It’s unclear how this will all factor into European travel, but you’ll likely need to plan to get your first shot about five weeks before you plan to travel.

How you will provide proof of vaccination is still being decided. Discussions are ongoing in Brussels right now, but they’re hoping to come up with something practical and broadly readable so that people can use them to freely travel between countries (instead of needing essentially a separate vaccine visa for each destination).

When Does This Go Into Effect

Unfortunately, an exact date or timeline is still unclear. There are still kinks in the plan that need to be worked out, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said Americans will be able to come to the European Union over the summer.

Are There Any Exceptions

EU member countries that especially rely on tourism have been pushing for this for a while, and some, like Greece, may begin welcoming vaccinated Americans even earlier.

Individual states will also have the option to put stricter entry rules in place if they are struggling to control COVID-19.

How Should I Plan for This

First things first, you want to make sure you get your vaccination as soon as possible so that you will be fully vaccinated by the time the EU opens up.

Make sure to check your passport – since you probably haven’t used it in over a year, you’ll want to make sure it hasn’t expired. If you need to renew, that process generally takes about 6 weeks.

You should buy your flight as soon as possible to ensure a good deal. Luckily, many airlines still have their flexible COVID policies in place which allow you to change or cancel your flights without penalty.

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5 Top Books to Inspire You to Try #SoloTravel

Solo travel is something many people don’t dare attempt and those who do are often met with questions like, “Won’t you be lonely?”, “Who will you talk to?”, “How will you stay safe?”.

And yet, solo travel is one of the best ways to travel. You discover things about yourself, boost your confidence by navigating new experiences on your own, and meet people you’d never meet if you were with someone else! Solo travel also allows you to travel much more because you’re not waiting on other people to be ready to take a vacation – and you can do exactly what you want to do on your trip.

So, if you’re considering taking a solo trip – and you should – but need a little push, here are some books to help inspire you.

Vagabondess: A Guide to Solo Female Travel by Toby Israel

Women often face the most questions when they express interest in traveling solo due to safety concerns, or people stuck in subliminal patriarchal thinking that women should not be independent. Because of this, women sometimes have the most concerns about taking their first solo trip. This book is here to address those concerns and help women “face their fears, and live the adventure of their dreams.”

The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet

If you are ready to take a trip but need some help with the logistics, this is the book for you! Especially ideal for folks who are beginners to travel in general, this handbook guides you through selecting a destination, developing an itinerary, budgeting, finding deals on flights, and more. With its cute illustrations and beautiful photos, this one makes a particularly good coffee table book!

The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Leith Waugh

While it has a very similar title to the Lonely Planet book above, don’t mix them up, because it’s a very different kind of book! This handbook is more geared towards people who are seasoned at planning a trip but just haven’t embarked on one solo. The book is jam-packed with tips on how to have fun and stay safe on your own.

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

If you’d prefer a book that you can curl up and read rather than a guide, then you need to check out this memoir. Author Kristin Newman wasn’t ready to settle down and make babies like her friends, so instead, she spent a few weeks each year of her 20s and early 30s traveling the world. This laugh-out-loud book is filled with anecdotes about the places she’s seen and the people she’s met. It will have you ready to fall in love with the world just like she did.

How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker by Lauren Juliff

If you feel like you can’t travel the world solo because of anxiety, an eating disorder, or hitting rock-bottom in your career or relationships, Lauren Juliff is here to prove you wrong. She traveled the world while dealing with ALL of that, and while she went through many mishaps, her story is here to inspire you to take that trip no matter what you’re up against.

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Top Books to Help You Live a #NomadicLife

It seems like every day you hear about people quitting their 9 to 5 jobs, selling their house, and heading out on the road to live a nomadic life. And the popularization of remote work brought about by the pandemic has made this lifestyle easier than ever.

If you’re curious about the nomadic life or looking for advice about first steps to take, here are some great books to read to help you decide if this is the life for you and how to get started.

Vanlife Diaries: Finding Freedom on the Open Road

If you’re mainly in need of some inspiration, this is the book for you. You can think of this book as your van life Pinterest board in book format! It’s full of stunningly beautiful, high-quality photos of vans that are beautifully decorated and brilliantly set up for practical, everyday living as well as wanderlusty shots of the open road and scenery. This is a book that will make you want to restore your own van and then park it somewhere awesome so you can have a jaw-dropping view right outside your “bedroom” window.

A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Everything I Wish I Knew Before Full-Time RVing Across America

While the title is a bit of a mouthful, the contents of this book are gold. Author Alyssa Padgett wrote this handbook after three years of living in an RV full time and traveling around the United States with her husband. She covers all of the need-to-know facts about RV life such as what to do about your mail, scoring free campsites, getting great internet, useful apps, and costs associated with this lifestyle. This a great one to keep in your glove compartment!

RV Living for Senior Citizens

How many times have you said, “When I retire, I’m going to get an RV and travel all over the country”? If the answer is at least one, this book is for you. Similar to the previous one, it’s a handy guide for RV newbies, but it’s tailored to the over 60 crowd. You’ll learn key money-saving tips, what to do about healthcare, part-time job options for seniors on the road, and more!

The Great Outdoors: 120 Recipes for Adventure Cooking

Foodies rejoice! If you like to cook (and eat) it can be daunting to decide to give up a full kitchen. This cookbook is here to help with simple, delicious, and filling recipes you can make on the road, right out of a camper van. You’ll also get tips for cooking over an open fire and a list of what kind of cookware and tools to invest in.

Digital Nomads: In Search of Freedom, Community, and Meaningful Work in the New Economy

Maybe you’re confident about the living side of your new nomadic lifestyle: you have a plan to hotel hop or are already experienced at long stretches in camper vans. But you need a little help with the making-money side of the arrangement. If so, this book delves into the digital nomad movement, giving you a peek at what life for digital nomads really entails.

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Tips to Incorporate #NaturePhotography into your Travel Photos

If you love taking snapshots of the places you visit you know there are many ways to capture the spirit of a destination: streetscapes, portraits of average people, the typical food eaten, signage, and stunning landscapes.

But if nature photography isn’t already a part of your travel captures, it really should be. There is so much variation in flora and fauna around the world and photos of nature tell a unique story for each destination you visit. And you don’t need to be a naturalist to get the shot! Here are some tips to get started:

Focus on One Category

A cool and easy way to see the variability of nature one place offers is to pick one kind of thing – for example, wildflowers, seashells, leaves, or mushrooms – and take a picture of every one you see. Make sure to get close up to the object and focus on it, not the background. By doing this, you’ll be creating your very own field guide for the location you are in. These kinds of photos look great all together in a collage, on the same page in your photo memory book, or in an Instagram carousel post because it’s easy to spot all the differences between types and species.

Change Your Perspective

A lot of times, our travel photos end up having the same sort of perspective – an eye-level shot, typically of ourselves in front of a famous landmark. But nature is all around us, and taking a flat snapshot from our eye level doesn’t always do it justice. Instead, play around with your perspective. Take photos of trees from down low to show just how towering they are, play with getting down and seeing the world from the perspective of a child or even an ant, and get up close and personal to wildflowers, pretty stones, and insects.

Take Up Birdwatching

When it comes to animals, it isn’t always easy to spot the large mammals or reptiles an area might be known for. For example, you can’t guarantee that you’ll see a moose on your Alaskan cruise or a sloth in Costa Rica. But one kind of animal you see everywhere, sometimes without even realizing it, is birds. And there is a huge variance in the kinds of bird species you’ll see from one region to the next. While it helps to have binoculars and a strong zoom lens on your camera, you don’t need them. Birds that are commonplace in one region (and therefore easy to get a picture of) might be completely foreign to you. If you find yourself interested in learning to identify the different species you see, check out the Merlin Bird ID App for free identification on the go.

Visit a Botanical Garden

Just because you’re taking a city break doesn’t mean you have to forgo nature photography. Most major cities have a botanical garden that showcases local flora.  And because plants are typically labeled, it’s easy to caption your photos! Besides, they make for a lovely place to take a walk.

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Resorts near Major Airports for When the #Mountains Are Calling

The phrase “The mountains are calling and I must go” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Those of us with a streak of wanderlust feel a need to visit the mountains often but we don’t always have the time to research and plan a full trip.

So, if you’re looking for a no-sweat getaway to a beautiful mountain destination, you’re going to want to stay in a resort that has everything you need. Here are some of the best near major airports so you can fly in and get started on your vacation quickly.

C Lazy U Ranch

This all-inclusive dude ranch is a little over 2 hour’s drive from Denver International Airport and is a perfect destination for families. You’ll have your choice of staying in a room in the lodge or renting a multi-bedroom cabin. Everything is decorated in a rustic Western style and many of the rooms have stone fireplaces. You’ll enjoy all your meals curated by chefs in true “home on the range” style. Activities at the ranch include horseback riding, fly fishing, beehive tours, hatchet throwing, trap shooting, tennis, a spa, a pool & hot tub, and more!

Crystal Mountain Resort

The largest resort in Washington State is under 2 hours from Seattle-Tacoma Airport! Located right at the stunning Mt. Rainier, there are tons of mountain activities to do here. While the winter skiing season is winding down, but you can still get on the slopes during their bonus weekends through May 9th. Even when the snow disappears, this plenty to do here, including hiking, horseback riding, guided walks, and a scenic gondola ride up to Mt. Rainier. While Crystal Mountain itself does not have lodging, they have several nearby hotel and chalet partners. And during your stay around Crystal Mountain, dining options abound. A top pick (pun intended, it’s on the mountain) is Summit House -think cold craft beers and hearty fare with local flavors, like the Wild Salmon BLT.

Forrest Hills Resort

Just an hour and a half north of the Atlanta Airport, in the southern reaches of the Chattahoochee National Forest, you’ll find Forrest Hills Resort. This chic getaway is a popular location choice for both weddings and honeymoons, but also welcomes families. And whether you want to rent out a lodge for your whole extended family or get a private cabin with a hot tub, you’ll find a lovely place to stay here. The resort features an on-site restaurant, multiple dining rooms, packed picnic lunches, and Sunday brunch! There are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy, too. You can go on a horse ride through the forest or get pulled in a romantic horse-drawn carriage! If you’re visiting with a large group, you can schedule a chuck wagon ride out to fairy-tale River House for dinner al fresco. There are also massages, firepits, a pool and hot tub, volleyball courts, and nature trails!

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