Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tips & Tricks {Hotel Rewards Programs}

You may read this and think,"Duh." But if you haven't already signed up for hotel rewards programs, do it today.

The offers available include having a full-night paid by points or having a night reduced by points with a much lower out-of-pocket rate. Sometimes there will not be a reduced rate offered, and the only way to get a discount is to pay for the night in full with points.

You do have to book through the hotel's website to use your points towards a night's stay.

Wondering which one to pick? You don't have to choose just one. 

I use Wyndham and Choice Hotels. Depending on where you plan to stay for the night, one chain may not have any hotels in a town and the other might. 

If you travel for work, you should get a rewards card for the hotel chain your company uses most often.

A friend of mine travels throughout the year for work. She has saved up her flight miles and hotel points to take a round-the-world trip each year for the past 8 years. Sometimes twice a year.

While that sounds exciting, I'm hoping to accumulate enough points for a discount on my family vacation.

On our most recent trip, I was able to get 3 nights at reduced cost due to points accumulated from previous stays. 

What are you waiting for? Start banking those points today!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hidden Gems {Carl Sandburg Home}

The Carl Sandburg Home, also known as Connemara, is located in Flat Rock, North Carolina. After parking in the small lot, visitors walk a short path to a peaceful lake. Another winding path up the hill leads to the house and grounds. I would rate the hike up to the house as mild to moderate. 
The lake is behind the white bridge
While we were there, we did not tour the house as I didn't think my boys would be interested. According to the National Park Service, "A fee is required to tour the house for those 16 years of age and older. This fee is $5.00 for adults age 16-61, and $3.00 for adults age 62 and older. Youth 15 years of age and younger are free. We can only accept cash and check for tour fees."

At one time Connemara was home to American poet, Carl Sandburg, and his wife. They ran a goat dairy which can still be seen on a tour of the grounds. 
Headed to see the goats

After a walk around the grounds near the house, we decided to hike to the top of Glassy Mountain. The hike from the barn to the top of the mountain is about 1.25 miles. I would rate this hike as moderate to mildly strenuous. Thankfully, there are a few benches along the way. 

My boys were so proud they reached the top. Unfortunately, it was a foggy day, so there was no view to enjoy.
 Rocky at the top

As you can see from the coats, it was cold when we visited in December. We enjoyed our time there despite the weather. I imgaine it is a beautiful place in the spring.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tips & Tricks {Efficient Packing}

Pinspiration strikes again!

For our trip in December, I needed to get a lot of clothes in a couple of suitcases. I followed my previous tip of packing different suitcases for different places, but I needed a better way to keep up with matching outfits. This time I decided to try rolling shirts and pants together for one neat bundle.

First, I folded the pants in half and laid them on the table. Then I folded the shirts in half and placed them on top of the pants.

Then start rolling the clothes. For our upcoming trip I added socks before starting the roll. I considered adding underwear, but my boys shower at night. Unrolling their clothes each night just to get out clean underwear would make more of a mess.

Last, add rolled clothes to the suitcase. I was able to put 2 rows of clothing, one row for each child. There was still plenty of room for my clothes on top.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hidden Gems {The Meadows Center Glass-Bottom Boat Tour}

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is located in San Marcos, Texas, as part of Texas State University.

I had never been on a glass-bottom boat tour and thought it would be something fun and different to share with my boys. It did not disappoint!

We visited the Meadows Center in December between Christmas and New Year's. Upon arrival, we purchased a parking ticket from a machine at the edge of the lot. The machine accepted credit cards which was good since I didn't have exact change.

We then purchased our tickets for the glass-bottom boat tour. I found a discount coupon online that was only good during the winter break. Check the Meadows Center website for any specials available.

Our tickets for the boat tour also gave us access to the displays at the center. The educational exhibits located on the first floor offer kids an opportunity to learn more about the springs and stay busy while they wait for their tour.

The day we visited, it was cold and windy...not exactly what I pictured for a glass-bottom boat tour. Thankfully, the glass-bottom viewing area was enclosed in the boat, so we stayed warm for the tour.

You could tell our tour guide enjoyed his job. He shared the history of the springs from the days of a swimming pig in a university-run amusement park to its current operation as an educational facility. He deftly maneuvered the boat so we could all get a good look at the small springs bubbling up from the ground. He showed us fish and turtles and signs of where the amusement park had been.

There is so much more we learned on the tour, but you should visit to hear it for yourself.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mostly Solo {Texas Trip}

Here's a map of our Texas trip.

We drove a lot the first day with stops in Rayne, Louisiana, the Texas welcome center, and somewhere south of Houston for gas before reaching our hotel for the night in Wharton, Texas.

In an effort to avoid the bad weather coming through, we took a scenic route to San Antonio to visit the missions all day before stopping in New Braunfels, where we stayed two nights. 

The next day we took a trip to Austin to see the state capitol and University of Texas campus. On the way back to New Braunfels, we took a glass-bottom boat tour in San Marcos.

The following day we set our sights on Houston with a stop at Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham along the way.

We stayed in a suburb north of Houston with a friend. It was nice to have a tour guide and extra set of hands during our time in Houston. After 5 nights in Spring, we returned home to the Mississippi Coast.

More details on our stops coming soon!

Monday, December 14, 2015

And the Winner Is...


After plotting potential routes in Texas and Florida, Texas came out on top. Plus I have a friend we can stay with for 4 nights in Houston, making Texas the best choice for this single mom on a tight budget.

So now we have to decide what sites to see and how many nights to stay in other towns.

Should we visit the missions of San Antonio? If we're that close to the state capitol, I believe a trip to Austin is in order. Maybe we should spend a day relaxing at the beach in Galveston.

Houston has lots of sites to see, but we don't have the time or money to see them all in one trip. What are the must-do sites here?

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Planning the Next Big Trip

The last couple of Decembers, we have made our way across stretches of the Southeastern U.S. in search of adventure.

Now it's time to start planning for this year's trip.

I've got it down to two options, but I'm torn about where to go. One would leave me flying completely solo with my boys on a route through Texas on the way to Carlsbad Caverns. The other would wrap us around most of Florida and include picking up a friend for our jaunt down to Key West.

If you had to pick between the two, which would you choose and why?