Travels with Carlie in 2017

img_7391Holy Hell 2016! You certainly gave everyone a run for their money. But you’ve been put to bed, like the bitch you are and now let’s look to 2017.

Growing up poor. Not such a novelty thing. Anyone who knows what it’s like to pay for groceries with food stamps- when they were still printed on paper-knows you don’t get grand vacations. I was raised in Sussex County in Delaware. (Shout out to the 302). No particular town, we bounced around a bit, another side effect of poverty and finding cheap rent. Due to this upbringing I didn’t get to travel or exposure to other places. This changed in 2010. I was in a new relationship with the man who would become my husband and I wanted to do something special for our upcoming anniversary. And then I had a lightbulb moment. You’re an adult with a big girl job. You can literally go anywhere-other than Cuba or North Korea. So I started to do some research on cruises, looked up what I needed to get a passport, and thus was the start of my love of travel.

Since 2010 I have traveled 4 continents, 16 countries, 17 states and countless cities.

A quick map of my travels


You can build your own here.

There is way too much gray on those maps in my opinion. One of the great struggles with loving to travel, besides budget, would have to be deciding where to go! I’ve been to so many marvelous places, I struggle with wanting to go back and also experiencing something new. 2017 will be about mixing the two. So here are my five travel picks for 2017! Hopefully there will be more, but these will definitely be the minimum!

  1. New Orleans- One of the perks of moving to the panhandle of Florida? We’re only a 3 hour drive from New Orleans, Louisiana. This is a destination I’ve had on my list for awhile and now it is conveniently within my reach! I’ve already scoured some things to do on trip advisor and also have a recommendation on an apartment to rent while we are there! We’ll be going in early March for anyone interested in joining! Itinerary will be forthcoming.fullsizeoutput_7df
  2. Overlanding The TransAmerican Trail: North Carolina to Arkansas- My husband has found a new love in overlanding. For those who aren’t familiar this is when you drive roads and trails, off the beaten path in a self sustainable vehicle. Prepare yourself to commune with nature, get a little dirty and get a little stuck. There’s a path that runs the width of North America and we’d like to tackle it. Unfortunately it takes multiple weeks to complete it, which we won’t be able to do all at once, so we will be doing it in portions. We set out with the intention of doing this in the next month or two, but then we were slapped in the face with the realization that while we live in a vacuum of decent and warm weather in Florida, the rest of the country experiences this thing called Winter. So it will have to wait until the Spring or Summer depending on the husband’s training schedule. I can’t wait to see parts of the US that can be challenging to reach and aren’t typically visited. 

    The husband standing proud on our first overlanding adventure at the Eglin AFB
  3. Camelback Mountain Resort and Waterpark- This will be our second time visiting this resort. It’s located in Tannersville, PA. We went last year and shared a suite with my brother and his family. This year we will be sharing two suites with my brother’s family and my sister’s family. I’m so excited! We’ll be partaking in snow tubing and the indoor waterpark for three lovely days with family I haven’t seen in many months. It’s a great time! mc-camelback-lodge-aquatopia-indoor-waterpark-0329-20150328
  4. Pensacola, Florida- Wait. This is where you live Carlie. It is! But I’m new, and there’s tons of stuff to do here and the surrounding areas that I can’t wait to geek out and get all touristy in my new home. I want to do to an ice hockey game, a baseball game when it’s in season, walk EVERY street downtown, I hear there’s a dinosaur park, a zoo, and of course ALL the restaurants. 
  5. Washington & Alaska- We will definitely be going to Washington state, specifically Seattle to visit my brother-in-law, and I’m desperately trying to make it a two-for-one and squeeze in Alaska too. I’m dying to do an Alaskan cruise, but I don’t know if the budget will be able to fit in all of these amazing destinations. Alas, Alaska you may have to be postponed to 2018, but I sincerely hope not. Maybe I’ll start a gofundme page 😉 Just kidding…. maybe…

    Stolen from the brother-in-law’s instagram. Hope he doesn’t mind. How awesome does this look though?!

So that is what I’m looking forward to in 2017. There may be a move to Texas also, but thanks to life in the Navy, we won’t know about that for a few more months.

What are your travel goals for 2017?

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Travels with Carlie in Latvia

Latvia. Ever heard of it? If you’re anything like me 7 years ago, then no you haven’t. Ignorant Americans. Well, Latvia is a European country located in the eastern part of the continent in between Lithuania and Estonia. To the right of it is Russia, and the Baltic Sea is to the left.fullsizeoutput_78d Bet you weren’t expecting a geography lesson today.

It just so happens that my husband was born in Latvia and lived there for most of his life before moving to the United States as a teenager. Of course he still has family living there, so I was super excited when we planned a trip to the mother country-and by we, I mean me. 

I’ve traveled quite a bit since 2010 when I got bit by the travel bug, and Latvia has been my favorite spot by far! We left December 26, 2015 and didn’t return until January 6, 2016. While there we spent a large chunk of time in Riga, Liepaja and took a road trip to see Jekabpils and multiple castles around the country. Here are my top five tips for traveling to Latvia, as I’m sure it is now on all of your lists:

  1. Airfare- I saved us a ton of money by flying out of JFK in New York City. We flew on the Russian airline Aeroflot. Our total flying time was about 10.5 hours with a quick layover in Moscow. Overall it was a good flight- even though the husband’s tv didn’t work so we shared mine to watch movies. flying-aeroflotAnyways, I saved us about $400 flying out of JFK vs. any other airport. JFK was about a 4 hour drive from our home in DE, but it was worth the extra savings in my book. So I’d recommend you do your research and consider widening your flexibility with nearby, and not so nearby airports. I use to search for flights, and cross reference with as well. 

    This is the face of someone super happy about saving $400.
  2. Weather- Is it cold in Latvia? It was balls freaking cold. For some reason, my dear husband suffered from amnesia when he was asked about how cold it was and insisted it wasn’t that bad. It was a cold, I don’t think I’ve experienced before. I might be exaggerating a bit, it wasn’t like arctic temps, but it was very cold- like -18ºC (I’m so European now). If you’re planning a trip in January, make sure you have the appropriate gear. I’m talking sweaters, two layers of pants, gloves – not the cute little Old Navy cotton knit gloves that will look so dear with your matching scarf because they have hearts or puppies on them, I’m talking the kind you’d wear for the Antarctica expedition you’re never going to take- wool scarf, hat-again, leave the hearts and puppies at home- THICK socks and winter boots. We each have a three in one coat from North Face that did the trick for both of us. Here is a link to the one I have. 

    He’s freezing. Don’t let the brave face fool you.
  3. Latvian, Russian, and English, oh my! -They have their own language, Latvian, in Latvia. There’s also a very large population of Russians who live in the country as well, so Russian is also a common language you’ll hear there. Buuuuuut, you don’t have to speak either of these languages to visit this beautiful country. English has been widely taught to younger generations as a second language, so you’d definitely be able to get by without being fluent in Latvian. I downloaded an app called Lingopal though and selected Latvian as my language as choice. It was 99¢ but has all sorts of helpful words and phrases. Here are some screenshots of what you can learn:

    Let’s take a closer look at the Insults-X-rated:fullsizeoutput_791Worth the 99¢ even if you don’t ever go to Latvia.

  4. Riga and Public transportation- Riga is the capital of Latvia and they have AMAZING public transportation. It’s affordable and easy to understand. I’ve been to NYC multiple times and I still can’t grasp how to read the subway. Riga’s bus, trolley bus, tram, and train system is so convenient and you can buy tickets online, from the driver, or from many kiosks and shops. You can find specific prices and times here and here. I recommend you do the e-ticket. It’s cheaper and it’s 2016- get with the times. 
  5. Castles- Have you ever been to a castle? They’re super gorgeous. You know what’s even more gorgeous? Castles covered in snow. And there are a bunch you can tour and visit in Latvia. We saw Bauskas Castle, Rundale Palace, Cesis Castle and Sigulda Castle. I highly recommend them all! 

    We were only able to see all of these magnificent beasts because we rented a car and road tripped our way around the country on a whim.

    Here is the route we took:screen-shot-2016-01-19-at-10-06-52-pmAnd here you can experience some of our Latvian overlanding:

Not all of the roads are paved, but we still made it through fine in this sweet little ride:fullsizeoutput_79d

And those are 5 tips for your next trip to Latvia! I’ll share more in future posts, I didn’t even begin to talk about the FOOD, but those are enough to get you started. In the meantime, enjoy these adorable photos of family and our other adventures on the trip.

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Where should we go next? Comment below with your recommendations!

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