Visiting Puerto Rico as a Vegetarian (or Vegan)

Puerto Rico is home to many great, original dishes, but for the vegetarian these dishes may not be so appealing. Puerto Rican food, referred to as “cocina criolla” by the locals, is generally meat. For example, some classics are Chicharron (fried pork skin), lechon asado (barbequed pig), and many different types of seafood (it is a Caribbean island after all!). However, for those of us who are plant lovers there are some great options to try.

So What Foods Should You Try On Your Visit To Puerto Rico?

1-Mofongo/Trifongo-

No trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without trying mofongo! Mofongo is made from fried plantains. The plantains have been deep fried and mixed with garlic. Mofongo is often stuffed (Mofongo relleno) and often with meat. However, there are different options that you can ask for. Several places had mofongo filled with mixed vegetables. Trifongo is another form of Mofongo that is made with either sweet yellow plantains, unripe green plantains, or cassava root.

Side note: When ordering mofongo be sure to check with the waiter to see how it is cooked. It will often times be cooked with pork or bacon, so be sure to make the waiter aware that you want a completely meat free version.

2-Tostones

Tostones are again green plantains. These plantains are cut into flat circles and then deep fried. The deep fried plantains are then sprinkled with salt and served like French fries and eaten with mayo ketchup, which is a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and other spices (this might not work for a completely vegan diet). Mayo ketchup is very popular in Puerto Rico.

3-Arroz con Habichuelas, Arroz con Gandules

Puerto Rican rice and beans is another popular dish. Rice and beans are often served as a stew with vegetables, potatoes, squash, and peppers. Again-this is commonly served with meat so be sure to make the waiter aware that you want a meat free version.

Arroz con Gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, is a national dish of Puerto Rico. It is white rice with pigeon peas, olives, capers, tomato sauce, seasoning, and often flavored with sofrito, a salsa type sauce.

4-Maduros

Maduros are another form of fried plantains. They are made from plantains that are more ripe, thus giving them a sweeter taste. They are often times served as a side dish or a dessert alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

5-Empanadillas/Pastelillos

Who doesn’t love a good treat? These turn overs are deep fried pastries that are often filled with meat, but there are options for fruit or vegetable stuffing.

6-Arroz Con Dulce

Arroz Con Dulce is a Puerto Rican rice pudding dessert. It is made up of coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

7-Fresh Fruit

Okay, so you have probably have fresh fruit before, but let’s face it-Puerto Rico is a tropical island, and thus it has an plenty of tropical fruit. Fruit stands can be easily found on the island and have so much to offer. Be sure to try some fresh avocados, coconuts, and pineapples. Don’t forget to enjoy a classic refreshing tropical drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) in a coconut or pineapple! You won’t regret it!

Tropical pineapple drink…with just a little bit of Rum.

While in Puerto Rico also be sure to try a frappe tropical. This drink is very similar to a smoothie and consists of blended fruit. You can find vendors in many popular areas selling them, and they are definitely worth a try!

8-Drinks:

Love the sign and tropical café feel-but for the vegetarians/vegans just overlook the pork and chicken kabobs!

Local Brews/Tropical Cocktails

Be sure to try some of Puerto Rico’s local wine and beers. Rum is the national drink and the options are endless. Try a Chichaito, which is a shot of anise liqueur mixed with white rum. Puerto Rico is also home to local beers-including Medalla and Magna.

If you are visiting Puerto Rico during the holidays be sure to try a Coquito (not a vegan option). It is a coconut drink similar to eggnog, but the egg part is replaced with coconut. It is composed of evaporated milk, cream of coconut, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, rum, and vanilla.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Coco Rico is Puerto Rico’s version of coca cola. It is a carbonated beverage similar to sprite, but with coconut flavoring.

Puerto Rico is also know for its homegrown coffee with many popular brands, including Yaucono, El Coqui, and Cafe Rico.

You can’t go wrong with a tropical drink with a pinch of Rum!

Where Can You Find Great Vegetarian/Vegan Puerto Rican Food?

Here are some restaurant recommendations in the San Juan area that offer vegetarian meals in Puerto Rico:

(Take note, however, that many of the above listed items can be found at almost any restaurant, you just have to order them custom)

Café Berlin

Located in Old San Juan, Café Berlin is a full-service restaurant offering international menu options with many vegetarian/vegan selections. Café Berlin offers meatless Mofongo, pasta options, a vegan burger, pizza, and vegan tacos. Prices generally range between $15-$35.

Location: 407 San Francisco St., Old San Juan, PR 00901

https://www.cafeberlinpr.com/

Cocobana Café

Located in San Juan, Cocobana Café is a casual, family friendly restaurant that offers many vegetarian friendly dishes. It offers dishes such as carrot loaf with rice and a beet burger.

Location: 2000 Calle Loiza, San Juan, PR 00911

Peace n’ Loaf

Peace n’ Loaf is located in San Juan and is well known for it’s vegetarian/vegan pizza and bread options.

Location: Avenida Americo Miranda #1402, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00921

Bori Vegan

Bori Vegan, located in San Juan, is a Puerto Rican restaurant offering many different vegetarian/vegan options, including burritos, tacos, soups, salads, quesadillas, and wraps.

Location: Calle Figueroa Villamil 610, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907

https://www.facebook.com/Boriveganpr/

Govinda’s Veggie Garden

Govinda’s Veggie Garden is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant offering Indian based dishes and soups/salads, sandwiches, wraps, fruit frappes, smoothies, and vegan cakes.

367 Cll Fernando Primero, San Juan, 00918, Puerto Rico

https://www.facebook.com/govindas.veggiegarden

If you are looking for more vegetarian/vegan friendly options in Puerto Rico (or anywhere else) visit happycow.net. There is also a mobile app available for download (it does cost $3.99 for download, but it is worth it!).

For some inspiration on more reasons to visit Puerto Rico click here.

Visiting Puerto Rico with your young ones? Here are Ten Family Friendly Attractions in Puerto Rico.

10 Christmas Destinations Around the Globe to Add to Your Bucket List

Are you looking for some inspiration for winter/Christmas travels? There are so many cheerful, festive destinations to visit this time of year. Take a look at these great destinations to add to your Christmas travel bucket list.

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

1-Amsterdam-Netherlands

Amsterdam is full of Christmas cheer with opportunities for all to enjoy the happiest time of year. Amsterdam comes to life with Christmas markets where Christmas treats, jewelry, and homemade crafts are sold. Be sure to try some Dutch Hapjes (snacks), such as olieballen and appelbeignets. Ice skating is another popular attraction and the ice rink at Museum Square becomes a popular place for both locals and tourists. Visitors can also participate in the Amsterdam Light Festival in December and January, which features different displays of artwork. Many churches also offer Christmas Services and Christmas caroling is a popular activity that visitors are welcomed into.

Photo by Immortal shots on Pexels.com

2-Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is a popular destination for the Christmas holiday. Enjoy ice skating at the Reykjavik Pond or Ingolfstrog Square. Enjoy a hike on a glacier. Take a riding tour on an Icelandic Horse and enjoy some winter views. Learn about Iceland’s thirteen Yule Lads. Spend an afternoon shopping at a Christmas market. Spend an evening relaxing in one of Iceland’s hot springs. And of course-don’t forget a trip to see the Northern Lights!

Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

3-New York City, USA

The city that never sleeps-and this is no different at Christmas time. NYC has lots of great Christmas activities to offer to get you in the Christmas Spirit. Visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Enjoy the Christmas Spectacular by the Radio City Rockettes. Visit Dyker Heights and take in the magnificent Christmas lights. Take part in the Christmas walking tour and take in some of the city’s most notable Christmas decorations. Visit the Bryant Park Winter Village for ice skating, shopping, and food. Go ice skating at Rockefellar Center or Central Park.

4-Paris, France

Visit the City of Lights when it has a little bit extra to offer. Spend time time exploring the city and viewing all the festive lights. Visit a Christmas market and pick up some unique Christmas gifts and of course some delicious snacks. Don’t forget to try some Vin Chaud-a French drink with red wine, sugar, orange, and spices. Ice skate below the Eiffel Tower at the Champs de Mars Christmas market. Visit a local church for a concert or step inside the Effiel Tower on Christmas eve for a concert. Pack up the family and spend the day celebrating Christmas with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris.

Photo by Boris Ulzibat on Pexels.com

5-Rome, Italy

Rome is another great Christmas destination. Visit a local church, enjoy a Christmas service, and spend some time enjoying their spectacular nativity scenes. View the Christmas trees in Saint Peter’s Square, Piazza Venzia, and the Colosseum. If you are in Rome on Christmas eve you can view the mass lead by the pope on big screens surrounding Saint Peter’s Basilica. Visit the Piazza Navona Christmas market, enjoy some shopping and snacks, take a ride on the merry-go-round, and visit with Father Christmas. Visit the permanent Nativity scene in Santa Maria Maggiore. Enjoy some chestnuts as you enjoy Christmas lights along Rome’s main streets. Enjoy some ice skating at Castel Sant’Angelo.

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

6-Edinburgh, Scotland

Christmas is Edinburgh is celebrated over a 6 week period from early November through December. The Princes Street Gardens turns into a large Christmas market offering crafts, clothing items, accessories, personalized gifts, snacks, etc. Enjoy one of the many food vendors and grab a glass of Glayva, a local whiskey. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden for some Christmas light displays. Grab some skates and enjoy an evening of ice skating. Grab an afternoon holiday tea at the Dome. Participate in a Christmas Charity event such as the Edinburgh Santa Run and Walk.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

7-Quebec City, Canada

Okay, so Christmas markets may be a little repetitive, but they are a major attraction is many countries for the holidays. While in Quebec City, visit the Grand Marche Christmas market for some shopping and treats. Take a stroll through some of the city’s most decorated locations, including Rue de Petit-Champlain an Place-Royale or Place D’Youville. Enjoy classic holiday songs and visit a local church. Visit Miracle for some drinks- a pop-up Christmas themed bar with plenty of holiday drink options and great snacks. Enjoy at evening of ice skating at Place D’Youville. Visit a life sized nativity and listen to some caroling at Notre-Dame de Quebec. If you are visiting in January spend a night in the iconic Ice Hotel.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

8-Copenhagen, Denmark

Go ice skating at Frederiksberg Runddel outside of Frederiksberg Garden. Enjoy a show with a visit to The Crazy Christmas Cabaret. Spend some time shopping at a Julemarked (Christmas market). Try a glass of Glogg-a traditional warm spice mulled wine. Take part in the Saint Lucia day canal parade as you cruise the canals in a kayak. Catch a live show of the Nutcracker. Visit the Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

9-Berlin, Germany

Berlin offers many great Christmas markets for shopping and food. Visit Christmas Garden Berlin, botanical gardens that are lit up with Christmas displays. Shop for chocolate in Berlin’s supermarkets when special Christmas assortments become available. Try some Glühwein, Berlin’s version of mulled wine. Take is some Christma slights at Unter den Linden.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Pexels.com

10-Prague, Czech Republic

Visit the Old Town Square Christmas market and climb the Old Town Tower for some great views. Try the famous dessert Trdelnik. Take in some great views of the city and Christmas lights along the Vltava River. Try some Svařák, Czech’s version of mulled wine.

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

This is not an all-inclusive list by any means. There are so many great Christmas destinations around the world. Take advantage of the extras each destination offers at Christmas time! I would love to hear from you-What are your favorite Christmas destinations?

30 Gift Ideas for the Traveler On Your List

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

For the Tech Savvy

1- The Skyroam Solis

            The Skyroam Solis is a mobile wi-fi hotspot that offers unlimited 4G LTE service in over 130 countries around the world. This will eliminate the need to worry about international roaming fees and SIMS cards. The Skyroam Solis can connect up to 5 devices at once. It also acts as a charger for your devices, an added plus! Note, however, that this device will not work in the air or out at sea, much like any device that runs on data. There are different options for purchasing wi-fi: A monthly unlimited pass is available for $99 or a daily pass is available at $9 a day.

Cost: $99.99

2-DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone

            If your traveler is a photographer, help them capture great memories and photos on their trip with the DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone. The drone can fly up to 4.3 miles and captures HD videos and captures photographs in 20MP Raw of jpeg. It is also light and can be folded to take up less space. (This device is a bit more on the pricey side).

Cost: $1379

 

3-GoPro Hero 8

            The GoPro Hero 8 is the latest in the GoPro series. The GoPro is a small, lightweight camera that captures stunning photographs and videos, allows for live streaming, digital lenses, stabilization, and special effects (such as time lapse, night lapse, and live burst). This camera is a must for any traveler/photographer.

Cost: $ 399.99

4- Amazon Kindle

            An Amazon Kindle will keep your traveler busy while on the road. They can download all their favorite books and have them on the go, reducing the cost of wi-fi charges and data use.

Cost: $89.99

5-Anker Power core Portable Charger 10,000

            A portable charger is a must have for any traveler. When on the go, battery life of commonly used devices (cell phones, cameras, tablets, etc.) is quickly drained. Now days a dead battery can be a major issue, especially if tickets, itineraries, and confirmations are stored on a portable device. Having a portable charger will keep the charge and prevent unnecessary stress. The Anker Power core portable charger 10,000 is small and efficient allowing for three recharges of a cell phone. It will keep your favorite travelers’ devices charged and ease the stress of travel.

Cost: $25.99

For Comfort

6-Athleta Travel Blanket

            This blanket can be folded and zipped up for optimal storage, but can also be unfolded into a full size blanket to keep you warm and comfortable on the go.

Cost: $64

7- Away Rolling luggage

            Reduce the burden of having to carry heavy luggage through the airport with a rolling luggage set. Costs will vary depending on the amount of suitcases, size, and type.

8- A neck pillow

            For the frequent traveler a neck pillow will provide extra comfort while on the road (or in the air). A neck pillow can make it easier to fall asleep when conditions aren’t the best, prevent a stiff neck, and promote comfort.

Here are some suggestions for great neck pillows:

Cabeau Travel Pillow

            Cost: $39.99

TRTL Travel Pillow

            Cost: $29.99

For kids check out the BCOZZY Kids Travel Pillow

            Cost: $24.97

For Safety

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

9-TSA Luggage Locks

            Help protect your traveler’s belongings with these great luggage locks. With a simple combination the security of their personal items while traveling will be increased. Give them one less thing to worry about!

Cost: $14.95   

10-Pacsafe Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

            This backpack works great for a day bag. It adds extra security for your personal items with locking zippers, eXomesh slashguard, and RFID safe blocking pockets. Eliminate the worry of having your items swiped from you on your next adventure!

Cost: $83.97

11-Lifestraw Filtered Water Bottle

            The Life straw filtered water bottle is a great item for anybody that travels internationally frequently. The water bottle optimizes the travelers’ safety by filtering out 99.9% of all waterborne parasites and bacteria. It will keep them hydrated and healthy!

Cost: $40

12- Secret Bra Wallet Travel Money Pouch

            The perfect gift for a female traveler, this wallet provides hidden storage for cash and cards. It also provides RFID protection.

Cost: $14.99

13- Anti-theft Purse

            Travelon’s anti-theft purse fits closely to the body, is slash proof, and has RFID protection. It will prevent quick thefts and someone grabbing your bag.

Cost: $38.97

For convenience

14- Packing cubes

            Packing cubes reduce the burden of packing, allow for better organization, and allow you to fit more into a smaller space. The cubes are generally light weight with options available for wrinkle free packing and waterproof packing.

Here are some suggestions:

Eagle Creek 3 Piece Cube Set (lightweight and water-resistant)

            Cost: $27.97

EZ packing Clear Packing Cubes

            Cost: $49.99

15- Travel Wallet

            A travel wallet with space for your traveler’s passport will provide extra protection to avoid damage to their passport. It will also provide an all in one wallet with room for cash and cards.

SimpacX Fabric Passport Holder

            Cost: $9.99

There are also many different options for personalized wallets, so you can find one that will really speak to your traveler’s personality.

16- An International Travel Adapter

            Arriving at your destination and not being able to keep your devices charged because of differences in outlet sizes can be frustrating. An international travel adaptor can prevent that frustration. The Bonazza International Travel Adaptor is compatible in over 150 countries and also has USB outlets, allowing for the charging of multiple devices at once.

Cost: $23.99

17- A portable luggage scale

            Help your traveler avoid extra baggage fees at the airport with this portable luggage scale. Before arriving to the airport they can check the weight of their luggage and ensure that they are under the weight limit.

Cost: $14.97

18- Ear plugs

            Ear plugs can reduce the many noises someone may experience while traveling, promoting sleep and relaxation. It will also allow them to concentrate only on what they are doing (reading, writing, etc.). These are a great gift for those who have a difficult time falling or staying asleep.

Cost: $13.38

For Children

Photo by Natasha Babenko on Pexels.com

19-Binoculars

            A fun gift that kids will love and that will allow them to have a better experience at their destination. Be sure to get binoculars that will actually work, not just a toy!

Cost: $26.99

20- Rolling Luggage

            Make the packing experience more exciting by purchasing a character themed luggage set. Get a set designed for children and they will love rolling the suitcase around the airport showcasing their favorite character!

21- An interactive Globe

            Help grow your child’s passion for travel through an interactive globe that will take them around the world. Get them excited for your next big adventure together through interactive games and visualizations of the destinations.

Cost: $49.99

22- A scratch off map

            Help your child keep track of your travels in a fun way! Kids will love scratching off each destination as you visit them!

Cost: $19.97

23- A Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera

            Young children will love taking pictures as they travel, and better yet will love watching the images print off instantly. Help them capture all the great memories along your trip!

Cost: $49.00

For the Solo  Female Traveler

24- Jewelry Travel Organizer

            This is the perfect gift to make packing jewelry easier and will allow the female traveler in your life to keep all her favorite jewelry neat and organized on her trip without tangles.

Cost: $25.99

25-Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask

            This sleep mask is a tad more expensive than the general sleep mask, but it provides extra comfort  and is more effective in blocking out light to allow you to get adequate rest.

Cost: $50.00

26-Vigilant Personal Alarm and Back-Up Whistle

            This whistle is small and can be attached to a keyring. It can help scare off potential thieves or aggressive animals.

Cost: $14.99

27- Travel Scarf with Hidden Zipper Pouch

            This scarf will provide some warmth, fashion, and an  extra place to carry your passport, cash, or cards.

Cost: $39.95

For the Reader

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

28- 1,000 Places to See Before You Die-A Traveler’s Life List

            Fuel the wanderlust of the traveler in your life with the great destinations in this book and have them planning their next adventure! Remember-travelers never stop daydreaming!

Cost: $12.38

29- Ten Years a Nomad

            Learn about one traveler’s ten years’ experience of life on the road. Read first hand travel stories and get tips for how to travel better.

Cost: $14.99

30-The Two Week Traveler

            Read the stories of a traveler who had only his annual vacation time to travel the world, but did not let this stop him! Read his stories of his travels to over 150 countries. The message is clear-Don’t Let Anything Stop You From Chasing Your Dream!

Cost: $10.86

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Family Friendly Attractions in Plymouth, Massachusetts

With Thanksgiving upon us, it seems that now is the perfect time to discuss Plymouth, Massachusetts. Plymouth is full of rich history relating to the development of the United States. It is also believed to be where the first Thanksgiving Feast was held in 1621. Plymouth has a lot to offer for the whole family, ranging from history enriched experiences to family fun and relaxation. If you are headed to Plymouth be sure to check out these great attractions:

By jjron – Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19571461

1. Visit Plymouth Rock

Okay, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the size of this rock. I just always imagined it being much larger than it actually was in person. Anyways, Plymouth Rock is said to be where the site of disembarkation of the Mayflower pilgrims in December of 1620. Today you can visit the site, which is now surrounded by a monument marking the spot. It tends to get a little crowded here, so going early in the morning or later in the evening may be a good idea.

Address: 79 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360

https://www.mass.gov/locations/pilgrim-memorial-state-park

2. Visit the Plimoth Plantation. The plantation is a living history museum. It is a replica of what the original colony may have looked like when the Pilgrims settled. The plantation is complete with a village, mill, animals, and reproduction of the Mayflower. The Pilmoth Plantation is also believed to be where one of the first Thanksgiving feasts was held in 1621. The Plantation is open from June to December. There are different ticket options, but basic tickets start at $30 for adults, $28 for seniors, and $18 for children 5-12 years.

Address: 137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA 02360

https://www.plimoth.org/

3-If you are a history person, stop in to the Pilgrim Hall Museum. The museum tells the story of the pilgrims voyage to America and is home to many pilgrim possessions. The museum also highlights the history of the Wampanoag People, the natives that inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the pilgrims. The museum is open year round with the exception of January and some holidays. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for children.

Address: 75 Court St, Plymouth, MA 02360

https://pilgrimhall.org/

4-Visit the Richard Sparrow House. The home is the oldest surviving home in Plymouth, MA. It was built in 1640 by Richard Sparrow, a pilgrim who arrived in Plymouth four years before. The home is now a museum that you can visit. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.  

Address: 42 Summer St, Plymouth, MA 02360

http://www.sparrowhouse.com/

5-Visit the National Monument to the Forefathers. The 81-foot-tall monument sits on Allerton St. in Plymouth. It was dedicated in 1889 in honor of the pilgrims who were responsible for the settling of Plymouth.  

Address: Allerton St, Plymouth, MA 02360

By T.S. Custadio aka ToddC4176 at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Kelly using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16091399

6-Escape from the history part of the destination and enjoy an afternoon wine/beer tasting. Visit the Plymouth Bay Winery and taste a variety of locally produced wines or visit the Mayflower Brewing Company for a variety of seasonal craft beers and tastings, and if you desire a tour of the brewery.

Plymouth Bay Winery: Rear Building, 114 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360

https://www.plymouthbaywinery.com/

Mayflower Brewing Company: 12 Resnik Rd # 3, Plymouth, MA 02360

7. Enjoy some time relaxing at a park. Plymouth is home to several parks. The Brewster Gardens are located in the center of Plymouth and provide a relaxing atmosphere to get away from the crowds. The Nelson Memorial park is another great option, with a splash pad and playground for the little ones to stretch their legs. Nelson Memorial Park is located along the sea front.

Addresses:

Brewster Gardens: 30 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360

Nelson Memorial Park: 235 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360

8-Take a trip with Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours. Captain John offers deep sea fishing tours in the Cape Cod bay or Stellwagen Bank. The crew is very knowledgeable about the fish in the area as well as best techniques for capturing them. Go on a tour with them and you will be sure to be successful! Captain John also offers four-hour long whale watching excursions.  Whale watch cruises are $55 for adults, $32 for children, and $45 for seniors. The Deep-Sea Fishing Tours vary in price depending on the length of the tour. Captain John also offers harbor cruises, sunset cruises, and private charters. Find more information at https://www.captjohn.com/.

Address: 10 Town Wharf Plymouth, MA 02360

9-Spend the day at the beach. Plymouth, MA is home to many beaches. Hit the sand and soak up the sun at Plymouth Beach, Ellisville Harbor State Park, or take the short trip to nearby Cape Cod and enjoy one of their many beaches.

10-Visit the A.D. Makepeace Company. Take the short drive from Plymouth and tour a cranberry bog, tour the facility, and learn how it is done. Stop by the Makepeace Farms for cranberry themed gifts food, snacks, and cookbooks. During harvest season you can harvest your own cranberries.

Address: 158 Tihonet Road, Wareham, MA 02571

http://admakepeace.com/

Side note: Plymouth, MA is a rather small destination. I would recommend pairing it up with a trip to nearby Cape Cod or Boston. Keep watching for travel guides on these great destinations.

10 Things to Do in Sleepy Hollow, NY

Sleepy Hollow, NY is the small, quaint town that was the inspiration for Washington Irving’s story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, released in 1820. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, for those of you who are not familiar with it (although I’m sure the number is very low), tells the story of Ichabod Crane and his attempts to win the heart of Katrina Van Tassel. Perhaps one of the most well-known characters in the story is the Headless Horseman who spends his days hunting for his head. I would recommend looking into the story or refreshing yourself before heading out to Sleepy Hollow. Anyways, now on to all this little village has to offer…

1-Visit the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the final resting place of Washington Irving and also home to the Headless Horseman Bridge replica. Other notable burials in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller. Tours are held in select months throughout the year. Before traveling to Sleepy Hollow visit their website at http://sleepyhollowcemetery.org/events/tours-and-events/ to see if any are offered during your travel dates. You can also tour the cemetery on your own between 8:30am and 4:30pm daily.

2-Visit the Old Dutch Church Burying Grounds

The Old Dutch Church and Burying Grounds are the ones famously featured in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. The Old Dutch Church is also one of the oldest churches in the state. In the month of October the church offers live readings/shows of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with tours of the church and burying grounds. Year-round you can walk the grounds of the church and burying grounds. It will feel like the pages of the story are coming to life!

3-Visit the Phillipsburg Manor

The Phillipsburg Manor is a 1750 English manor that once housed African slaves. The manor was once a milling an d trade complex. Today it is a living history museum and you can tour the grounds. Timed tours are offered daily at $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and young adults 18-25, and $6 for children 3-17. In October the manor transforms into a haunted house-Headless Horseman Hollow. Unfortunately when we visited this event was not going on., we missed it by a day!

4-Visit the site of the Headless Horseman Bridge

While the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is home to a replica of the Headless Horseman Bridge, it is not the original. The original bridge that was the inspiration for the story is no longer standing. A concrete bridge was constructed where the Headless Horseman Bridge previously sat in 1912. However, there is a sign marking it’s location. It is right outside the Old Dutch Burying Grounds. Simply take the less than a minute walk and you will come upon the sign that marks the spot.

5-Stop for a photo of the Headless Horseman Statue

Be careful with this stop as the statue is in the center of a busy highway. However, it is worth making the stop to see. It is only a couple minutes walk from the Old Dutch Burying Ground, so after visiting the site of the original Headless Horseman bridge, continue and you will shortly find the statue.

6-Visit the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse

The Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, built in 1883, sits inside Kingsland Point Park. The park itself is a nice place to visit and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with great views of the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge. The park has a small area of water access as well, but the sand is littered with debris. Park in the parking lots and take the short, five-minute walk over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is rather small, but it is still worth the trip. The path from the park leads right up to the bridge that you can cross and come right to the foot of the lighthouse.

Tours of the lighthouse are offered, but days and times vary depending on the time of year. Be sure to check ahead and see if the lighthouse will be open when you go (but I would still recommend stopping even if it will not be).

7-Visit Sunnyside

Sunnyside is the cottage-like home of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s” author Washington Irving. Timed tours are offered daily during the warmer months and, like many other locations in Sleepy Hollow, Sunnyside offers special Halloween themed events in the month of October.

8-Spend some time strolling and shopping along Main St. in nearby Tarrytown

Main St. in Tarrytown offers many local vendors and restaurants and gives you the small town feel. We did not have time to stop and eat while in Tarrytown, so I can not give recommendations there, but the food smelled delicious and the street was live with people coming and going from the restaurants despite the rain. Stop and pick up some hand made crafts in one of the many shops.

9-Visit the Tarrytown Music Hall

The Tarrytown Music Hall has a rich history and is now believed by many to be haunted. The Music Hall was built in 1885 and has served as an entertainment venue for some of the village’s most famous residents, including the Rockefellers, served as a venue for several national causes, served as a movie theater, and now as a performing arts center. The Music Hall is also believed to be haunted and ghost tours/paranormal investigations are offered on select days. Visit https://tarrytownmusichall.org/ for information on ghost tours and a list of currently scheduled shows.

10-Visit the Rockefeller State Park Preserve

The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is a 1,400 acre nature preserve that offers miles of hiking trails along with seasonal activities, such as bird watching, fishing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and horseback riding. It is a great escape for a relaxing, quiet afternoon and will bring you face to face with nature.

Sleepy Hollow has even more to offer during the fall months as the village gears up for Halloween. The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze takes place beginning at the end of September through the middle of November. The event features over 7,000 pumpkins that are hand-carved. Unfortunately the blaze was cancelled the night that we were in Sleepy Hollow due to heavy rains and flash flooding.

The fun does not stop there. Sleepy Hollow also offers special readings of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and tours of story related locations throughout the month of October. For more information on the special events of Sleepy Hollow visit https://hudsonvalley.org/article/top-10-halloween-attractions-in-sleepy-hollow-country/

Planning Your First International Trip

International travel can be very overwhelming, especially your first time. There are so many steps involved in the planning, from entry into the country, transportation, accommodations, and activities. It is easy to forget or overlook a step, but to minimize stress and last-minute hassles be sure to complete the following tasks with plenty of time.

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1- Determine your destination

Okay, this one is kind of obvious. You can’t travel if you don’t have a destination to travel to. This step certainly seems like it should be the easy part-but that is not always the case, especially if you have a bucket list that spans the length of the Great Wall of China. You can find tips for determining your next travel destination here

2- Determine how long you will travel/when you will travel

Once you have determined where you are going determine how long the trip will be. Is it a short 5 or 10 day trip or will you be staying for a month, six months, or longer?

You also need to determine when you will travel. Do some research and determine the best time of year to go to your chosen destination, keeping in mind special events and festivals that may be going on throughout the year.

3- Determine what type of trip you will be taking

Will be you traveling for a short duration of time or will it be an extended trip? Will it be a budget trip or luxurious trip? Will you be backpacking, camping, or staying in hotels? Pinpointing what type of trip you want to take will further direct you as to the next steps you need to take and prepare you for creating your trip budget.

4-Determine potential costs and start planning your budget

Now that you have determined the where, length, and what of the trip you can develop some sort of idea of the cost of the trip and begin to build your budget. Be sure to include air fares, ground transportation, international travel fees, accommodations, activities, food, tips, parking fees, and rental car fees. You will also want to be sure to set aside some money for emergencies, you never know what could happen.

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When you decide how much money you will need, you can then begin saving. Often times money seems to be an issue and can be a hinderance to you taking your dream vacation. However, there are simple, every day things that you can do to build up your trip funds. For example, cutting out frequent fast food stops will give you the extra money that may get you to your destination. For more ideas on how to save money for your upcoming trip click here.

5-Get your passport or check your expiration date

This step is essential (obviously) for any international trip. If you do not yet have your passport be sure to order in plenty of time before your departure date (at least 6 months) to ensure arrival on time. If you are already a passport holder be sure to check the expiration date and verify it is not within 6 months of your travel date. It is always better to give yourself more time than to be sorry later on! If need be make sure that you have renewed your passport.

6-Get Global Entry

Global Entry will expedite the process of getting into a foreign country and will allow you to skip the lines. It will save you lots of stress!

7-Check Visa requirements for your travel destination

Different countries have different visa requirements for visitors wishing to enter the country. Before traveling make sure that you are verifying what documents are needed to enter the country and ensure that you have what you need for every person in your travel party.

US citizens can check visa requirements at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html.

U.K. Citizens can check Visa requirements at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Canadian Citizens can check Visa requirements at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

Australian citizens can check visa requirements at https://dfat.gov.au/travel/visas/Pages/visas-for-australians-travelling-overseas.aspx

Whichever country you are from, be sure to check the visa requirements for your destination.

8- Check what immunizations are required/recommended for your destination  

Before you travel you will want to check and make sure that you have all required/recommended vaccinations for your destination. This information can be found here https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/

This will minimize potential illness and increase your family’s safety while traveling abroad. Be sure to receive any needed vaccinations at least a month prior to travel to ensure your body has had enough time to adjust.

9-Book your flight

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Once you have figured out where and when, have your budget planned out, and all your paperwork in order book your flight and set the wheels in motion! Do some research and look into different airline choices to find the best deal before booking.

10-Book your accommodations

Determine what kind of accommodations you are looking for and then do some research to find the perfect location for you. It may be right in the center of a city with easy access to your points of interest or it may be out in the country away from the crowds. Whatever the case may be for you, decide what it is and book your accommodations ahead of time. 

11-Plan your itinerary

Who else agrees this is the fun part? Determine what you want to do on your trip, what sights you want to see, what activities you want to do, and when you want to do them. I recommend planning out the must see attractions for you and then loosely filling in the things you would like to do/see but are not essential. Always leave space for relaxation and last minute itinerary changes.

12- Determine your mode of transportation

Determine how you will get around when you get to your destination. Will you drive? If so, make sure that you have checked the requirements for international driving for your destination. Will you take a bus? Get around on foot? Train? However you plan on doing it be sure to include the cost of your chosen form of transportation in your budget.

13-Get travel insurance

Getting travel insurance should be on your list. I will admit I often times will opt out of getting travel insurance, but when you are traveling internationally and have out a great deal of time and money into the trip travel insurance is something you are going to want! You never know what could happen and it is always better to be prepared.

14-Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans

I can’t tell you how many times my card has been flagged with fraud alerts while traveling. A simple phone call or visit to the bank to let them know you are traveling and when you will be traveling will prevent this from happening.

15-Make copies of all your travel documents

Travel documents are essential for any trip. They are something that you don’t want to lose and if you do you want to have a spare! Be sure that you have the originals and one or two copies of each.

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16-Check with your wireless provider regarding international travel.

Before leaving for your trip ensure that you have verified that your cell phone will work or that you have purchased an appropriate international plan/SIM card. Determine if your phone is unlocked so that you can get a SIM card at your destination (if your phone is locked and your cell phone provider does not exist in your destination country you will not be able to connect to an available service provider).

I would recommend telling your family/friends to contact you via email or social media messaging because as long as you have internet access you will be able to get in contact with them while abroad.

17-Familiarize yourself with the country’s culture

Different countries have different expectations about what is acceptable behavior. Familiarize yourself with how the locals define acceptable social behavior and any specific acts/gestures that may be deemed inappropriate for the country you are in. Dress is another important factor that you should take into consideration. Certain countries have stricter guidelines about what they find acceptable for dress. Familiarize yourself with this before you enter the country. Always be respectful of the culture you are entering into!

18-Learn basic language words/phrases

Before traveling to a country with a language that you do not speak take some time to learn at least some basic words/phrases. It will lessen the culture shock and will also likely gain you some respect from the locals. Learn the basic, every day phrases, such as hello, goodbye, thank you, bathroom, food, drink, numbers, medical needs, and allergies. If you are planning on driving in the country make sure you are familiar with the road signs and what they mean.

19-Register with your embassy

Registering with your embassy will provide extra security for you and will allow the government to easily contact you with safety alerts while you are traveling.

20-Enjoy the Trip!

All the hard work is done and all this planning should eliminate any travel hassles you may face. Enjoy the ride and enjoy your destination!

Tips for Determining Your Next Travel Destination

Don’t let uncertainty get in the way or a great experience!

Determining your next destination can be overwhelming, especially if your list is a mile long. The Earth is filled with beautiful, popular destinations and remote and underrated destinations. So how do you decide which place to go to next?

If you are an avid traveler, I’m sure that you have a bucket list. Start here. Look at the list of dream destinations that you have been eyeing forever. Determine what you want to do and what type of environment you want to visit. Then narrow down your list to a few select destinations that fit in with what you are looking for.

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When determining your next vacation, be sure to ask yourself some of the following questions:

-Do I want to travel nationally or internationally?

-Do I want to visit some place I have been before or someplace brand new?

-Do I want to travel to a popular destination or go off the beaten path?

-Do I want a relaxing vacation or one full of adventure?

-Will I be traveling alone, with a family, or adult friends?

-Will I wander on my own or have tours scheduled?

-What type of weather do I want (hot/cold, summer/winter)?

-Is it the best time of year to visit this destination?

-Are they any festivals going on that I want to visit?

-Do I have a big budget or do I need a destination that is budget friendly?

Once you have narrowed down your list of destinations, do your research. Research the destinations down to the bones. Find reviews and stories from people that have visited the destinations. Look at the budgeting. Look at how easy it would be for you to plan the trip and execute that plan (but do not exclude a destination simply because it requires a bit of extra planning). Determine if the destination will be appropriate for all members of your travel party.

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Tools for Finding Your Next Destination:

1- Social Media Platforms

If you are still unsure of a travel destination, look to social media for some travel inspiration! Pinterest, Instagram, twitter, and facebook are full of travel bloggers who love to share beautiful images of the destinations they have visited! Take a look, you might just find your next destination this way!

Pinterest and facebook are great options for both photo inspiration and travel tips. You can follow me on Pinterest here and facebook here to get inspiration from my travels and other travel bloggers.

Facebook is a great tool because there are many great travel support groups that you can join for travel inspiration. Check out these great travel groups/travel pages:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/scftravelcommunity/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TravelTheWorldWriteBlogs/ (designed for travel bloggers)

https://www.facebook.com/mustdotravels/

Instagram is a great tool for photo inspiration, there are many travel bloggers who share gorgeous photos of great destinations on a daily basis. Take a look, you may find something you like. You can follow me on Instagram here.

Twitter is a great option as well, again with photo inspiration and travel tips. You can follow my travels here and those of other travel bloggers. 

2-Buy travel books/magazines

Subscribe to a monthly travel magazine subscription or visit a local bookstore and pick up some travel inspiration books. The options are endless and this may help you narrow down our list of possible destinations.

3-Follow Travel Blogs

Travel blogs are a great tool for getting travel inspiration. Get real life stories from real people about their experiences with first hand information about the destination. Reading travel blogs regularly will give you plenty of ideas of destinations to visit.

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Finally, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your next travel destination:

1-Keep an open mind set

Don’t be afraid to consider destinations that you have not heard of before or that are not commonly talked about. Some of the best destinations (and cheapest) are off the beaten path. Never let a lack of popularity keep you away. Research the destination and see what it has to offer before taking it off your list.

2-Be creative.

Again, don’t limit yourself to popular destinations. Sometimes deciding what you want to do (e.g. scuba diving, hiking, sky diving, relaxing on a beach) before deciding on the destination helps. You can then research destinations that offer that and eliminate ones that don’t.

Research destinations that you have considered and then look at surrounding destinations. There may be just as beautiful destinations nearby that many people have not heard about. Get off the beaten path once in a while!

When planning a trip to a destination, especially one that is a little above your budget or difficult to plan, think outside the box. Maybe catching a flight to a nearby destination and then getting a bus/train to the destination will save you some money and make the trip doable.

3-Don’t dismiss your own backyard

Traveling across the country or foreign countries is wonderful, but don’t overlook your own backyard. In most cases, there are plenty of options within a short distance of you that will make a great weekend or extended weekend trip. Never underestimate the adventure that can be found right around you.

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4-Never regret your choice!

Never choose a destination because that is where everyone is going and where you feel you need to go. Choose a destination that is exciting and thrilling to you. Don’t chose a destination based on the fact that people around you are choosing those destinations as their family vacation. And never choose not to go to a destination because nobody else wants to go. Go solo! You will have a great experience and be able to have complete control over the trip. The only trip you will regret is the one that you didn’t take!

I would love to hear from you-What are your tips for choosing your next destination?

A Hike Up Overlook Mountain

A Hike Up Overlook Mountain-Catskills, NY

New York is full of stunning and enjoyable hikes. There are hikes for all skill levels and physical shape. Catskill, NY is full of great hikes and is still a popular vacation destination. Overlook Mountain, which elevates 3,140 feet above Woodstock, NY, is one that offers stunning views, but also has a little extra to offer.

On a crisp, fall morning we set out for our 4.6 mile round trip hike up Overlook Mountain. Overlook Mountain had an additional appeal for us as urban explorers. Just before the summit sits the Overlook Mountain House, or rather the remnants of what was once the Overlook Mountain House.

We ran into out first problem upon arrival. The parking for Overlook Mountain is limited and fills up very quickly in the morning. We set out early in the morning, arriving at approximately 9am. By this time the parking lot was already overflowing, but we were able to squeeze into a spot close to the road. WARNING: If you are going to hike Overlook Mountain take the no parking signs along the roads very seriously. The roads lining the entrance to Overlook Mountain are full of them and police do patrol the area quite frankly. If you are parked in a non-parking area you will receive a parking ticket and may be towed.

There is additional parking for Overlook Mountain about a half mile down on Macdaniel Road. This parking holds room for approximately 30 cars. There is a trail that connects this parking lot to the main trailhead. This parking option will add approximately another mile on to your hike round trip, but it is a relatively easy mile.

We set out on what we thought was going to be an easy flat hike. We soon realized that this was not going to be the case. The trail is the remnants of an old gravel road that was once used as a carriage road to bring guests to the Overlook Mountain House. The path, therefore, may be a little easier to navigate than a traditional hike through the woods. The thing that makes the Overlook Mountain trail a little more difficult is the fact that it is uphill nearly the entire distance. You do occasionally get a break with some level ground, but these are few and far between.

One thing to point out is there were plenty of large rocks along the trail, great places to sit and take a break. There is not too much to be said about the actual trail itself because, as I stated before, it is an old gravel road that is a relatively straight forward hike.

After about a mile and a half of hiking we saw the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House is the distance. This was very rewarding and quite honestly relieving. I was beginning to feel like we would never get there! You will first come upon a stair case leading to a stone circular piece that I assume was once a garden or fountain. Continue on past that and you will come to the main entrance of the hotel. All that remains is the outer concrete walls of the hotel, the interior had been destroyed in a series of fires. You can find more on the history of the Overlook Mountain House here.

After entering the main entrance, you will come upon a staircase going to nowhere (must have once led to the second floor) and a large fire place. There are a couple wall remnants of rooms that once stood within the glorious hotel. To the right of the entrance is a staircase that goes down to a lower level of the hotel. To the left there is another small room and an exit door. If you follow through that door you will come upon the remnants of the lodge. This lodge was once home of the owners of the hotel.

After spending some time exploring the ruins and taking a short break, begin the final ascent up the mountain. After a short hike you will come upon the signs that warn of rattlesnakes in the area. This is the beginning on the summit. Be very cautious at this point, paying attention to where you step. If you are cautious you should not have any problems, but the last thing you want is to step on a rattlesnake. On our visit we did not see any, but it was a chilly day. Many people have reported coming into contact with them.  

Continue on and you will come to a ranger station with a cabin. There is usually someone sitting at the ranger station providing you with encouragement and a little history of Overlook Mountain. They may also give you a couple safety tips. Take a look inside the cabin and check out some of the history of Overlook Mountain and the Overlook Mountain House. After this continue on to the summit and fire tower. Climb to the top of the fire tower and you will be provided with some stunning, 360-degree views of the Catskill Mountains. After climbing down grab a seat at one of the many picnic tables and enjoy some lunch (if you packed it) while relaxing. When ready, continue on behind the cabin on the short, rocky path. This will take you to the cliffs of Overlook Mountain, which provide some more great views of the mountains. After this, you have fully explored Overlook Mountain and may begin your descent.

After descending the mountain (or before) feel free to visit the Buddhist temple that sits directly across the street from the trailhead. We were unable to due to time constraints, but I know of many people that have and they state it is beautiful. It is commonly visited and there is a gift shop, so don’t feel out of place if you do decide to check it out.

Simple Trail Directions:

  1. Park at the trailhead or additional parking and head to the main trailhead.
  2. Sign in at the kiosk and begin hiking up the road. It is very visible and not easily missed.
  3. Continue walking up the road. After about 1.6 miles you will come upon the remnants of the Overlook Mountain House. Spend some time exploring the remains, but be very safety cautious. Hikers are permitted to enter the ruins, but be aware that you are entering at your own risk. (P.S. we did not see any obvious dangers while exploring them).
  4. After exploring the remnants of the Overlook Mountain House, continue on the path. You will come to a fork in the path with signs clearly directing you to the summit.
  5. Continue on and you will soon begin to see signs warning you of the rattlesnake habitat you are entering. Take note of this and be cautious. Watch your step. We did not see any rattlesnakes on our visit (it was a chilly day) but many people report seeing them. The last thing you want is to step on one.
  6. Continue walking around the curve and you will come upon a ranger station and some outhouses. There is usually someone at the rangers station providing information and a quick snack.
  7. Take some time walking through the cabin with information on the history of Overlook Mountain.
  8. After this head over to the fire tower. Climb to the top and you will be greeted by stunning 360 views of the Catskill Mountains. Near the fire tower are several picnic tables. If you brought lunch this is a great place to sit and enjoy it.
  9. After exploring the fire tower head back behind the cabin. There is a short, rocky path that leads down to the cliffs of Overlook Mountain. You again will be greeted with some beautiful views of the Catskill Mountains.
  10. After fully exploring the summit, fire tower, and cliffs begin your descent back down Overlook Mountain.

In its entirety the hike took approximately three hours, and we were going at a somewhat slower rate. We were traveling with a beginning hiker and had to make many stops.

Overlook Mountain is a family friendly hike, but I would not recommend taking young children who may have trouble making it up the steep path. Older children (at least 6 years), however, should have no problem if you go at their pace, and they will love exploring the ruins!

You can find more images of the Overlook Mountain House here.

How to Save Money for Traveling

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Have you ever wondered why some people are able to travel so frequently? Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could travel more, but I just can’t afford it?” You do not need to have an extravagant life style to be able to travel frequently. There are simple, every day things you can do to help you save up for that next big trip.

First, you will need a plan. Obviously, planning is a major factor in being successful in almost any area of life. Saving money for travel is no different. Determine what you want to do/where you want to visit, calculate the costs of the trip, set some goals (these should be attainable and specific-do not set a goal that is not feasible/attainable for you. This only sets you up for failure.), create a plan for reaching those goals, set the plan in motion, and then re-evaluate every once in a while to make sure the plan is working. This seems like a lot of work, but when you are descending into your destination it will be well worth it!

To develop your plan you will need to take inventory of all your monthly expenses right now. Create a spreadsheet that lists all your monthly expenses and sort them by needs and wants. Obviously there are some things that you are not going to be able to cut out, but start with the needs column.

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Here are ten examples of ways to cut out expenses:

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1-Stop going out to eat (or at least cut back significantly). If you are one of the people that is constantly going out to eat, then chances are you are spending a significant amount of money (most likely without even realizing it). Also, skip the morning coffee run. If you spend $2.50 a morning on coffee five days a week that adds up to approximately $50 a month, or $600 a year. That is a lot of money to add to your travel funds. Instead, make coffee at home before you leave for the day.

2-Cut down on your “want” monthly bills. If you are paying monthly for something that you don’t really need, maybe you can eliminate it or at least cut it back. For example, if you are paying a couple hundred dollars a month for your phone bill, maybe you can cut back (perhaps take out unlimited data) and your bill will be less. That extra money can go directly into your savings fund.

3-Quit a bad habit! If you are spending money on cigarettes or alcohol regularly, try to cut back. This may be more easily said than done, but it will save you a lot of money. If you pay $10 for a pack of cigarettes twice a week and are able to eliminate or even reduce to once a week, that will save you a significant amount of money over time. If you spend $20 a week, that adds up to $1,040 a year. Cut that in half and you will have $520 to put towards your travel funds. You will probably feel a little bit as well!

4-Cut down on your utility bills. Make a conscious effort to cut back on water, heating, and electricity bills. Make sure that you are turning the lights out when you leave the room, turn down heat a little bit and wear a sweater, spend less time in the shower (but don’t skimp on your hygiene!). Doing these simple things on a consistent basis can reduce your bills, giving you more money to put into your travel savings fund.

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5-Skip the gym! This does not mean cut out exercise, but skipping the gym (and thus the monthly membership fee) will give you a little extra money for your travel savings fund. There are always great alternatives for exercise, such as walking, hiking, or running outdoors. If you need to you can purchase weights from the store and have them at home (for a one-time price instead of a monthly cost).

6-If you find yourself with loose pocket change ($5 here, $10 there) put it into your savings fund. You will be amazed at how quickly it adds up.

7-Pick up some odd jobs. Is there something that you are good at that not many people can do well? Do you have a hobby (such as painting, photography, etc.)? Take advantage of it and make a little cash on the side that can be put directly into your travel savings fund.

8-Get a library card. Instead of purchasing every book that you read, get a library card and rent the books. If you are a big reader this will save you a lot of money in the long run.

9-Skip the spa. Cut back on the luxuries a little bit and put that money into savings. If you regularly go to the spa, cut back to every other. So if you go monthly, go every other month and put that money into savings.

10-Skip the casino. Now I don’t want to tell you to give up everything that you love. These are just some suggestions. If you spend a lot of money at the casino (and often don’t win), you could be losing a lot of money that could be going towards your travel savings fund.

Once you have determined your monthly expenses and what expenses are needs and wants you can then decide what you are going to cut out. Make a monthly savings plan and list out the expenses you will eliminate. Keep track of how much money you are saving-seeing the results will be a motivator to keep doing it!

And of course, when saving up for anything, you should be putting money away for that purpose. Create a dedicated travel savings fund, whether that be a bank account or an envelope you keep at your home, and regularly put money in there based on the plan you have come up with and what you are saving by reducing your monthly expenses!

Remember, these are just suggestions as to ways to cut down on your bills. If something is important to you, don’t cut it out. Find something else that may not be as important to you and cut that out. Or come up with something that was not mentioned. Only you know you and what will be feasible to cut out of your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you are doing something!

Another great option for making travel more feasible is to reduce the costs of your travel. Here are five tips for traveling on a budget.

1- Stay flexible and fly on the off days.

Before traveling, plan ahead and do your research. Look at different airlines on different days and at different times. Find the option that will work for you and will give you the lowest cost. Don’t be afraid to fly on the off days when prices will be lower.

2-Avoid the costly attractions.

Your destination will likely have some well-known attractions, but with these often times comes high prices. Skip the attractions and find something off the beaten path that you can do. You will get a better, more local experience at a lower price.

3- Stay with Friends/Family

If you have friends/family in the area, skip the hotel (and the costs!) and stay with them. It will give you a lot of extra money for other areas of the trip.

4- Walk

If it is feasible to do, save money on transportation and walk. This is where having accommodations close to the major attractions will come in handy. If you must have transportation, research and try to figure out how the locals get around and do that! A bike rental may be a great way to save money and get around.

5-Pack light and avoid baggage fees

Bring only what you will need with you and only what will be more costly to purchase when you arrive at your destination. The less you bring the less luggage you will need and the less baggage fees you will have to pay. If it is something that will be easily purchasable at your destination (such as shampoo/conditioner) hold off on packing it and purchase it when you arrive.

You can find a full list of 30 budget travel tips here.

And always remember, the only travel you will regret is the travel you did not do!

20 Family Friendly Attractions in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., the capitol of the United States, has lots to offer! The city is full of family friendly attractions at low or no cost. It is a great option for any family vacation. Here are 20 free or inexpensive things to do with the kids:

1. Visit the National Zoo

The National Zoo is a fail-safe attraction for children, plus it has free admission! You can’t go wrong here. Escape the city for a few hours and spend some time admiring the giant pandas, elephants, bobcats, bird species, tigers, and various other species.  The zoo is open daily 8am to 5pm with extended hours in the summer months. I would recommend visiting during the week if possible because the weekends tend to get very crowded.

2. Walk the Reflecting Pool

The Reflecting Pool sits between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The pool spans 2,028 long and 167 feet wide. The kids will love walking along the side of the pool and taking in the reflections of the famous memorials. There is no cost to visit the Reflecting Pool.

3. Visit the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum is located within the National Mall and offers various exhibits that the kids will be sure to love, including elephants, bones, butterflies, Egyptian history, and fossils. The museum also offers a discovery room for children with hands on exhibits. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.

4.  Visit the Washington Monument

Visit the well known towering Washington Monument and take a ride to the top. The family will love the stunning views of the city and it’s famous landmarks. You can get tickets online at www.recreation.gov months in advance for a $1 fee.

5.Visit Six Flags America.

What kid doesn’t love a theme park? And adults just as much! Take the 30-40 min. outside of the city to Six Flags America where the whole family can enjoy rides, games, food, and entertainment. It can be a nice escape from the city and is sure to be a blast!

6. Visit the National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum is another Smithsonian Museum located in the National Mall. It is open daily from 10am to 530pm and again admission is free. The museum includes various exhibits on air and space history with airplane/space ship replicas. Any space lover will love it!

7. Visit the United States Botanic Garden

The US Botanical Gardens is another great option for families. Spend some time wandering the grounds and allowing the young ones to stretch their legs. The gardens also offer a children’s garden that the young ones will love to explore. The gardens are open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.  

8. Visit the Beauvoir Outdoors Playground

If you are visiting on the weekend make a stop at the Beauvoir Outdoors Playground. It is an elementary school playground, but offers lots to keep the kids busy for hours. The playground is complete with rope climbs, tree houses, traditional playground equipment, and a zip line!

9. Take a Harbor tour.

If you are visiting during the warmer months jump aboard and spend a couple hours on the Potomac River taking in great views of the nation’s capitol. There are a number of tour companies offering scenic cruises throughout the day. It can be a great escape from the crowds.

10. Visit the Lincoln Memorial

Spend some time climbing the stairs to the monument and standing below the large statue of President Lincoln. You can also admire views of the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument from the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial.

11. Visit Rock Creek Nature Center

Visit the Rock Creek Nature Center and come face to face with various animal species, including snacks and turtles. You can also spend some time hiking or visiting the Discovery Room and Planetarium. The Rock Creek Park is open year long dawn to dusk, while the nature center is open Wednesday through Sunday 9am to 5pm and the Planetarium is open select days throughout the week. Be sure to check hours before your visit. Admission is free.

12. Stroll the National Mall and grab a bite to eat.

Spend some time walking the National Mall, taking in many of the famous Washington DC sites, relaxing in the yard, and grabbing a bite to eat or bring a picnic lunch! There is plenty of space for the kids to run.

13. Visit Nationals Park

Take your family out for a ball game while enjoying classic ball game foods. If your children are interested in sports this will be a great experience for them.

14. Visit the Wharf

The Wharf is an outdoor space near the waterfront that offers oversized board games, swings, fountains, and free events offered throughout the year.

15. Visit Ford’s Theater

Visit historic Ford’s Theater for a tour or catch a show that the family will enjoy. The theater is open for guided tours on select days and offers different plays, readings, etc. throughout the year.

16. Visit the White House

Take a stroll along the outside of the White House and see perhaps the most well known “house” in the country. If you plan ahead and request a tour (must be done 1 to 3 months in advance through a member of congress) you may be able to go inside and see where the president lives (may be better suited for older children).

17. Visit Madame Tussauds DC

Visit Washington DC’s wax museum located a short distance from the National Mall. View life size wax figures of many well known people, including presidents, first ladies, and astronauts. Admission to the museum is $26 at the door with online discounts. The museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with the exception of Sunday when it closes at 5pm.

18. Visit the Capitol Building

The Capitol Building is located at the eastern end of the national mall. It is open to visitors Monday through Saturday.  This attraction may be more suitable for older children.

19. Visit the National Postage Museum

The National Postage Museum is open daily and offers free admission. The museum is full of family friendly exhibits, including a stage coach, semi-truck, stamp making demonstration, package sorting, and meet Owney the Dog, the mascot of the Railway Post Office.

20. Visit the National Museum of American History.  

Like the National Museum of Natural History and Air and Space, the National Museum of American History is open daily and offers free admission. It offers various exhibits that the whole family can enjoy and offers a Wegmans Wonder Place and Spark Lab for children.