Plans for the Upcoming Year

I am lucky enough to have a family that brings me on amazing trips almost every year and I cannot thank them enough for it. This year, the fam is venturing to Marco Island, Florida. I haven’t been to Florida since I went to Disney as a kid, so it’ll kind of be an entirely new experience for me. My parents have been thinking about moving down there after they retire so the trip is really half vacation/ half location hunting.

My mom is the planner of the group, so she rented a beautiful house along the canal to stay in for the week. It includes an enclosed pool, fishing access, and a bedroom for each of us. My family is funny when it comes to vacations because we all have different preferences. I am happy with going to the beach and relaxing for a week. My brother likes the country and open roads, so a road trip is his cup of tea. My dad can never stop moving, so any kind of place with a lot to do and see is perfect for him. My mom is the mediator, so she tries her hardest to make everyone happy. Last year we went to North Carolina (as previously mentioned) and that trip was more for my brother and dad. This year is more for me, because we’ll be by the beach and have a pool and will be able to hang out as a family.

This trip was planned awhile ago, but I just found out that I will probably be going on another one in the winter. My sister lives in California with her husband and she just broke the news that she is pregnant! I’ve never been to California and every time I asked to visit my dad said we will go when we have a reason to go. Well, a new nephew for me (and a grandson for him) is a perfect reason! So we will probably be going to visit sometime between September and December to see the new addition to the family. Sounds pretty awesome to me because not only do I get to travel more, I get to do it for an amazing reason. I can’t wait!!!!


Tips to Save Money Abroad

As a college student, I learned a few tips before and while going abroad in order to stay somewhat afloat in regards to my financial situation. Since I paid for the trip myself, I knew that I had to be very careful about what I spent money on. Here are a few things I learned throughout my experience

  1. Walk as much as you can! Transportation fees can really add up if that’s what you use to get around for the majority of the trip. If you go to a city or somewhere conducive to walking, be sure to pack comfortable shoes so you can use them to save money. Cabs, subways, trains, and buses may be convenient, but walking is healthier and useful.
  2. Budget your days! If you set aside a certain amount of money for each day, you will be less likely to spend too much on one specific day. One way to do this is take some cash out and only take that amount with you while you travel for the day. This will force you to not go over your limit each day.
  3. Stay at hotels with included free breakfast! It may seem like a small thing but three meals a day can really add up. By getting a complimentary breakfast, you will eliminate one full cost per day that you are there. That money can be used for something more useful, like touristy things or drinks.
  4. Take advantage of the free walking tours offered by hotels! It is the best way to see the sights of wherever you are by people who know what they are doing with no cost. Going on tours with a official tour group could cost a good amount of money and trying to walk around without help could be unsuccessful.

Kiawah Island

I wanted to back track a bit to talk about one of my most memorable vacations in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I went with my best friend and her family because her father, who is a carpenter, had a job down there.

Now, the place was unbelievably beautiful with amazing beaches, bike paths, cute shopping areas, and a lagoon with alligators in our backyard (we rented a house), but that is not why the vacation was so memorable. Get this. I saw two of my high school teachers there, together, on the brink of getting engaged.

Now lets remember that I haven’t been in high school for a few years so I haven’t seen these teachers in a while, but one of them, my all-time favorite teacher ever, was one part of this pair. And while I was in high school, these two teachers of mine were not together. Or maybe they were and they kept it a secret. But let me set the scene for you all.

It was our second day on the island and my friend and I decided to ride our bikes to the beach. It was a few minute ride with a gorgeous view. During our ride, we pass this couple and the guy was wearing a shirt from our high school. Weird, but it didn’t really register in our minds until the man said “Hey, how’s it going” as we passed. At that moment, it clicked. I screamed his name (not completely positive that it was him) and I had no idea who the woman was. It wasn’t until we turned around and met up with one another that I realized that it was in fact my favorite teacher with another one of my teachers. They were on vacation with his family so I figured they must have gotten pretty serious since I’ve left the school. The awkwardness was unbelievable. I can still feel it when I think about it now. We explained why we were there, acknowledged how weird this was, found our they were staying a few houses down from us (which is crazy because it is a big island!!) and when we couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore, we parted ways.

When my friend and I got to the beach, we could not stop talking about our strange encounter. We figured out that they must be pretty serious considering they were on vacation together and we decided we wanted another chance to make it up to them for being so weird. Luckily my friend’s family knew our one teacher because they met while we were in high school, so we invited the couple over for drinks. Yes, drinks. As in we were drinking with our high school teachers, which really just topped off the obscurity of the entire situation. But when they came, it felt casual once again. We were able to catch up and have great conversation which made my friend and I feel a lot better after our strange occurrence before. After that successful night, I don’t think we ran into them again which is probably a good thing because I’m fine with seeing them on bikes, but I don’t think I would have survived another encounter with my favorite teachers on the beach.

Moral of the story is that even if you travel far, the world is still a small place.

Day Trip Ideas

If you are unable to get away for an entire vacation, there are plenty of day trip ideas all around you. They don’t have to be fancy, expensive, or far, what matters is what you make of it. For example, a few ideas I’ve had (for those of you in the Jersey area) include going to NYC, the beach, an amusement park, a sports game, a concert, a museum, or even a zoo.

Like I mentioned in my last post, going to the city could be an amazing adventure. You don’t even have to have a plan when you venture to the city. Considering it is the “city that never sleeps,” there are always shops, restaurants, and activities open at all hours of the day. You are bound to find something to do. It is also super easy to get around because of the taxi, subway, train, and bus services.

Going on a day trip to the beach, amusement park, concert, etc. can also be an amazing time if you get a good group of friends to go and you all have a relaxing day of fun. There are so many places to choose from and you can easily find something driving distance. For instance, there are beaches up and down the Jersey Shore. There are places such as Six Flags, Hershey Park, and Dorney Park throughout NJ (just to name a few). You can find any sports game under the sun, depending on the time of year, and concert venues to go along with that. The possibilities are endless when it comes to day trips because people all have different interests and are bound to find something they enjoy.

Overall, do a little research and you will absolutely find something you are interested in. There are so many places around you that you may not even know existed. Don’t be afraid of going to a place you haven’t heard of. Sometimes those are the best places to venture to because they are diamonds in the ruff. Moral of the story, just go try it out!


Don’t Underestimate the Jersey Shore, Cont.

Another beach worth journeying to for a day trip? Point Pleasant.

If you’re looking for a family environment, this beach is the place for you. Some of my fondest memories include going on day trips with my family to Point Pleasant, even though I am pretty much the only one who enjoys going to the beach in general. My brother and dad would get settled in our spot and get comfortable but then would not be able to sit still for more than a half hour.

Point Pleasant is more than just a nice beach. It also has a boardwalk for people of all ages. The boardwalk is full of games, restaurants, and stores which allows for people to spend an entire day there and even want to stay longer. One of my favorite memories from Point Pleasant was going to the aquarium with my sisters from Monmouth. We spend a few hours listening to the workers and learning about the various animals and aquatic life. I remember loving the entire experience (except for the sharks) and wanting to stay even longer! We didn’t even go during the summer, which I think is telling because you could have a great time at a beach without even going on the beach itself.

Overall, I would consider Point Pleasant another “place to be.” It’s perfect for family days, but anyone can go for a good time. It’s one of the cleaner beaches and one of the more fun. There are so many activities to do and things to see that it can keep you busy all day. I highly recommend visiting the aquarium and then walking up and down the boardwalk to see for yourself all it has to offer. I promise you will not be disappointed as there is something for everyone. This place is perfect for a day trip, you will enjoy it thoroughly!

Don’t Underestimate the Jersey Shore

Pier Village. Doesn’t it just sound beautiful?

I discovered the beauty of this beach and boardwalk in Long Branch two years ago when I began to attend Monmouth University. It quickly became the place to be as my friends and I went there day and night to walk around and visit the shops and restaurants. Once I joined my sorority, I realized just how popular the Pier Village area really is. Playa Bowls quickly became a huge part of my life, as well as the Corner Cafe and Molly and Zoey. These small businesses make Pier Village what it is and they attract the college students who live around there to come and enjoy their products. It is almost as if us college kids feel like we discovered these places and therefore take a lot of pride in going.

The places in Pier Village are not the only things that make it what it is. The beach itself is amazing and it attracts a huge crowd during the summer months. The one annoying part about this area is the parking. It is near impossible to get a parking spot in Pier Village itself on a weekend during the prime months. The place is so crowded which is great for business but awful for the people who want to enjoy the beach but cannot because they can’t find a spot.

If you decide to go to Pier Village during the week, you will have a much easier time finding parking. That is the only time I will go nowadays because I learned my lesson the first time. Parking is one thing that the town of Long Branch needs to address in order to get more business, but other than that, the beach and area is so worth it. The beauty is amazing and you would never guess you were in the stereotypical Jersey Shore. Overall, I highly recommend going to this beach and discovering for yourself the high quality that it offers.