Travel

Travel Addiction

My name is Carlie and I am a travel addict. 

It feels good to get that out.

This time last year I made a list of a few destinations I wanted to experience in 2017. You can read the original post here.

Let’s review what did and didn’t happen.

  1. New Orleans  – checknola-bound_new-orleans-in-24-hours
  2. Overlanding the TransAmerican Trail – didn’t happen =(
  3. Camelback Mountain Resort and Waterpark– checkCamelback Mountain Resort
  4. Pensacola, Florida – checktripadvisor-vs-local-top-5-things-to-do-in-pensacola-florida
  5. Washington – check; Alaska – didn’t happen =(IMG_0526

So these were what I planned to do for 2017. As you can see, most of my plans did happen! Some didn’t. But I was able to add some destinations that weren’t on my original list! Such as:

  1. Corpus Christi, TexasCorpus Christi feature image
  2. San Antonio, TexasSan Antonio Feature image
  3. OBX, North Carolina
  4. Road trip: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New HampshireNew England road trip
  5. Big Bend National Park-TexasOV7nQXjiQpKRO0NcNq+eSA

2017 was a great year of traveling for me. I experienced so much more than I thought I would and it inspired a few of my travel goals for 2018.

2018 goals

  • Visit 30 states before I turn 30 in NovemberF45A4A34-5770-4E22-9A31-15F8D2B0997D
    • I was able to check off 7 states I never visited before in 2017. I have now visited 23 states in the USA, so I hope to visit 7 more states to bring my total to 30 states before my birthday.
    • March 2018- Spring Break Road trip Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas
    • Moving We may be moving again this summer. Wherever we end up should give me the opportunity to add another state to my list. Will it be Mississippi? Will it be New Mexico? We shall see.
    • Nevada Long weekend in Vegas? I’m hoping I can make this happen.
    • New York: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Weekend Vermont– since I’ll be in the area
  • Learn Latvian in LatviaMy husband is from Latvia. He lived there until he was a teenager and Latvian is his first language. We’re approaching 8 years together and I’ve always said I wanted to learn the language. This is the year I make it happen!
    • The University of Latvia offers a free intensive language course over the summer. So I’m hoping to make the journey to Latvia to spend 3 weeks finally making strides towards learning the languange of his people!
  • Dirty Thirty Cruise
    • I didn’t get to take a cruise in 2017, which is one of my favorite ways to vacay. I’m due. And I’d love to relax in Mexico with a margarita for my thirtieth birthday.

Do you have travel goals for 2018?

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Travel

Pensacola, Florida- TripAdvisor vs. a Local’s Top 5 Things to Do

tripadvisor-vs-local-top-5-things-to-do-in-pensacola-floridaOne of the challenges of military life is being apart from family and many times you can go  many months and even years before being able to visit “home” or for family to come visit you. However, when the stars align just right, and you’re able to have family come to you, what better way to celebrate than getting to be a tourist in your new home of residence?

My brother-in-law came to visit us last week for a quick, but great trip! We were so excited to be able to show him around Pensacola and we were able to take advantage of a little road trip together to New Orleans, which has been on my bucket list for quite sometime. I’ll write all about New Orleans in another post, but for today I will go over our voyages around Pensacola.

The first time we visited Pensacola was in 2014 during a roadtrip we completed of the southeastern part of the US. We came back in November 2016 to house hunt, and moved in December 2016. In our travels and now residency, we’ve been able to experience a lot of what Pensacola has to offer, but there was still more for us to do that we hadn’t had the opportunity to take advantage of yet. So let’s take a gander at the Top 5 Things to Do in Pensacola according to TripAdvisor:

  1. National Naval Aviation Museum– The National Naval Aviation Museum is a free museum with free parking and free tours. Free Free Free! They also have an IMAX theater and simulation rides you can do for an additional purchase. It is the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world, and has over 150 aircraft representing the Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard. The museum is located on Naval Aviation Station Pensacola, but civilians and military are both welcome. I have been to the museum more times than I have fingers, but I still enjoy it every time. I can see why it is listed as the #1 top thing to do in Pensacola.  pensacola-nationa-naval-museum-tif
  2. Pensacola Naval Air Station– This includes the National Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Fort Barrancas, and Barrancas National Cemetery. Since TripAdvisor compiles it’s ‘Top’ list based off of comments and reviews of users, some reviewed all of these destinations under the NAS and some reviewed each place individually. I think it makes it a bit redundant, and not as comprehensive, but oh well. All of these things are located at Pensacola NAS and all worthy of your time, military or civilian.
  3. Blue Wahoos Ballpark– Number 3 on TripAdvisor is the Blue Wahoos Ballpark. This location is absolutely beautiful and is located on the Gulf of Mexico with a fantastic modern playground for children, and outdoor amphitheater. Since it is currently winter, there are no baseball games to catch, but if you would like to take a scenic walk/run around the ballpark, it is definitely a great place to do so. 461810650_1280x720
  4. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– The Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum is my favorite thing to do on base. It is not free to go inside, but well worth the small fee to be able to climb the 177 steps to the top and take in the view of NAS and also the Gulf of Mexico. The museum portion allows you to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the keepers who have maintained it for decades. There are even rumors that the lighthouse is haunted, and who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Also, behind the museum is a short path that leads you onto one of the many white sandy beaches in Pensacola. The sand is so fine it feels like you’re walking on sugar. pensacola-lighthouse_03
  5. Fort Barrancas– Fort Barrancas is a military fort located on NAS Pensacola. This is another free excursion that can be done. It’s such a beautiful and historical site and I highly recommend going down into the fort and through the underground tunnels. Such a cool experience! fort-barrancas-drawbridge-entrance

We did all of these things when we visited Pensacola the first time, now after living here for almost two months, I think I’ve found a couple other gems that I would recommend you do should you ever find yourself on the panhandle of Florida.

  1. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– As described above, the lighthouse is gorgeous, historical and quite the sight to see. Put this at the top of your list. And don’t forget to hit the beach behind the lighthouse, it’s like two birds with one stone! untitled-2798
  2. Pensacola Ice Flyers– I went to see my very first ice hockey game at Pensacola Bay Center. So So So much fun! The tickets are inexpensive, even the most expensive are only $29 and they offer a military discount. There is not a bad seat in the house and many of the home games have an open skate following the game. Definitely do this if they are playing while you’re in town. 15966288_10210209510026789_1555044419640420471_n
  3. Downtown Pensacola– Main Street and Palafox Street are where a majority of the restaurants, bars and boutiques are located in downtown Pensacola. Even if you just take the time to stroll up and down the streets, it is an easy way to spend a few hours. Also be sure to see how many of the pelicans you can find that are on display! fd7352d2_eee9_4384_b16f_fdfdcebd293e_ab3bf5bc-cb94-4d0f-a300-1166378a7f23
  4. Brothers BBQ– If you’re in the mood for delicious southern bbq, Brothers BBQ is a spot I highly recommend. Tuesdays and Wednesdays they even have an all you can eat special. Calories don’t count when you’re enjoying BBQ. img_7361
  5. Seville Quarter– For those adults out there looking for some adult activities, Seville Quarter has 9 bars in 7 buildings all conveniently located together in Downtown Pensacola. My favorite… well technically the only one I’ve been inside is the piano bar, the musicians were excellent and the ambiance and decor was terrific. 10/10 friends would recommend. Also Wednesday night is ladies night and drinks are cheap! img_7655

I’ve always thought no matter where you lived, people and places were all generally the same. But I was wrong, each place is so unique and will have different things to offer. I’ve really enjoyed our time in Pensacola so far and discovering all the quirks that make one a ‘local’. As we spend more time here, my top 5 may change, or perhaps we’ll get orders soon for a new location and I’ll have the opportunity to discover a whole new place. Do your worst United States Navy, I’m ready!

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Travel

Travels with Carlie-Planning a Road Trip

the-best-road-trip-guideIn 2015 I planned the most awesome road trip of the southeastern part of the United States. My husband was going to be submitting his application for Officer Candidate School soon, and we knew flight school is held in Florida, so I wanted to meander our way down there to scope out the area, and also take advantage of touring other parts of the U.S. along the way and back. Never having been on a road trip before I picked some popular and random cities in states along the way and did some research thanks to my ole pal google. To the seasoned roadtripper, they may be able to plan a road trip in a few days or hours, I don’t really know what would be customary; I however, spent a few weeks picking locations, planning our route, figuring out the budget, and trying to jam pack 12 states in 10 days of traveling. I definitely overplanned, had tons of fun (planning and doing), and learned so much for our next time road tripping. Here are some tips and how-to’s on how I did it (with my lessons learned built in):

  1. Destination Picks
    1. Since we would be starting from our home in Delaware and trekking our way down to Florida, I picked at least one stop in each state along the way for us to experience some sort of activity or adventure. I picked locations based off of what I knew was popular, some I already had my heart set on (Orlando) and some I did a little googling or trip advisor-ing to identify spots. Trip advisor-ing.. hmmm, pretty sure I just made that verb up. It’s pretty handy though. Just download the app, or go to the website: www.tripadvisor.com, plug in your destination, you can be as vague as a country, state or narrow it down to a city if you have one picked out. You can search for things to do, restaurants, accommodations, the works.screen696x696
  2. Navigation
    1. Planning your route can be a bit tricky. How far should we travel in a day? Which route should we take? There were some days we only had to drive 3-5 hours total and some days we drove 8-10 hours. The 10 hour drives were a bit much. So I’d recommend keeping it between 5-8 hours if you have a lot of distance to cover, but if you have the time and can fit in stops with cool things to do and see, plan to do so.its-the-journey-not-the-destination
    2. In my research some road tripping enthusiasts recommend bringing two GPS options on your trip. This is because not all GPS know the same routes. We had a TomTom GPS in addition to our phones, so we thought we had this covered. However, it had been a few years since we needed to use the TomTom, so we discovered the hard way that the charging cord was no longer functional. We discovered this because in the mountains of West Virginia, if your cell phone carrier is Verizon, you will get ZERO service. So cell phone GPSs weren’t an option and the TomTom wasn’t an option either. What did we do? We stopped at a library and begged them for a map of the area to get us along our route. In my mind map reading was this immensely difficult task that only navigators knew how to do; turns out, it isn’t that hard. But yes, I also advocate for double GPS options, just make sure they are both functional before hitting the road! In addition to having the GPS options I also printed map quest directions because it’s 2006 and that’s what we do here, K? It was a waste though, I don’t recommend doing it, and won’t be doing it again. It didn’t help us when the TomTom died, the TomTom had taken us a different route than mapquest and there is NO redirecting on paper mapquest. So I recommend two GPS options and a map. Maps are handy even if your GPS and cell phone doesn’t crap out like ours did because if you plan on following any scenic drives, it’s a challenge to get your GPS to follow that route. GPSes tend to take you the fastest or shortest distance, not the prettiest. So unless you want to have it direct you to a pinpoint of the scenic drive and then wing it to your stopping point, a map will be handy. Better to be over prepared.enhanced-buzz-26374-1389315775-18
  3. Busy Bees along the way
    1. Sightseeing, scenic drives, and quirky stops. There is so much the U.S. of A. has to offer and many of these treasures are a little hidden. So if you’re interested in seeing what there is along the way of your already pre-determined route check out www.roadtrippers.com and/or download their app. This nifty little do-dad will give you lots of info on places within a certain mile radius of your route so you can be sure not to miss all those giant rubber band balls, dinosaur parks, and dives your heart desires. There are even pre-planned trip guides you can peruse for free if you want to let someone do all the work for you! Work smarter, not harder my friends.roadtrippers-iphone-and-ipad-app
    2. Car games, audiobooks, and playlists. You spend a lot of time in the car when on a road trip, so be prepared with ways to help the time go by more pleasantly. You can find tons of car games like license plate bingo, yellow car, I spy, the list goes on and on. Here’s an infographic with some ideas:4d4da30d23a97abd1e64c5e962e8c4ffI also recommend creating a playlist on your phone, or making a cd of music you’d like to hear on your travels. Audiobooks are also a great way to pass the time and you can get them for free from the library if you’re looking for budget friendly options. Lastly, we killed time in the car by pulling up Netflix. Now before you start blasting me about it being dangerous, we didn’t watch movies or TV shows, we pulled up stand up comics so we could listen to a little bit of comedy on some of the long stretches of travel. Some favorites are Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan, and Aziz Ansari.
  4. Food- My favorite subject. Now to save money on our budget I made sure all of our hotels offered a complimentary hot breakfast to get our day started. This saved us from having to make an extra stop which is time, and it saved us money. The first couple days I was able to pack sandwiches to get us through for lunches. I couldn’t do this the whole trip because I didn’t want to keep having to refill our cooler with ice. So after the sandwiches ran out we either did lunch by stopping along the drive at fast food, or eating at an already pre-planned destination, or sometimes we were still full from breakfast and snacks which held us over until dinner. I think every day is different, so just do what works for you for lunch. Dinners were fairly similar, we’d either grab something along the drive at fast food, or eat at an already pre-planned destination. I found our pre-planned spots using Trip Advisor. Love Trip Advisor.4b7f0a7e2c802c82c23da5ac0116c87a
  5. Budget– When planning this trip I knew there were some more expensive items on the itinerary we would be doing. I had to spend the day at Universal Studios in Harry Potter World, which was going to be more pricey than kayaking in Charleston, SC or taking a hop on hop off bus in Savannah, GA. So there were some days that I budgeted more expensive excursions and balanced out with days of free adventures or fairly low cost. I also tried to find hotel accommodations for between $50-$90 bucks a night, making an exception for Nashville, TN because I knew I wanted to stay downtown to avoid driving around in city traffic. Again Roadtrippers and Trip Advisor are great tools to use to find things to do within your budget. But make sure you figure this all out so you can make adjustments to your plans ahead of time to avoid breaking the bank. This goes for excursions, restaurants, and gas stations. Many restaurants share their menus online or on trip advisor so you can see their prices prior to going. I also recommend the app gasbuddy to help you find gas stations near you with the lowest price. This will definitely help you save some bucks.fa584b9ee703e3ddc9dd0b43e954d2df

So there you have it. Five tips to help you plan your next road trip. But where did we go on our trip and what did we do? Allow me to show you:

the-best-southeast-usa-road-trip

Have you been to any of these destinations? What did you think?

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Travel

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

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-2-07-29-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-02-at-2-08-51-pm

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. 

    img_7237
    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…

    15272231_1536775133006444_4591783805877586074_o
    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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