Looking Ahead Towards Travel In 2016

2016 Travel Plans

With 2015 gearing towards an end, I think back over the year and all of the places it has taken us. We’ve been blessed to have moved to our new home in a beautiful new city, live near exciting new cities to day trip to, taken a cruise for our birthday, along with seeing some other destinations.

If you didn’t know- I may be a bit of a planner.  Since I always have plans laid out for our future travels (believe me, I even have some trips planned for 2017 already! lol), I decided to write down some of the places 2016 will hold for us! Writing it down is the first step to achieving goals, right?!

January

Cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel  (first cruise for my son!)- both new destinations for us!

February

Savannah, GA

March


Orlando, FL weekend

We’re not planning to do the Disney thing, but we’re wanting to take my son to the Medieval Times dinner show!  Have you guys been to one of these?  I love them.  We used to go a lot when we lived in Vegas (called the Tournament of Kings…same idea).  I can’t wait to take my son to his first one and live it through his eyes!

Husband is also going to New York City for a few days later in the month, so I may have to go somewhere fun with J for a couple days!

April


Myrtle Beach, SC weekend

Friend’s wedding in North Carolina


May


I don’t know yet!


June


This is our road trip month!  We’ll be spending 2 weeks going to:

New York City
Boston, MA/ Salem, MA
Portland and Bar Harbor, ME
Montreal, Canada
Quebec City, Canada
Watkins Glen, NY
Rochester, NY (to visit family)
Niagara Falls, Canada

I know that’s a lot to fit in 2 weeks….we’ll see how it goes!


We also have family coming to visit us at home in Hilton Head at the end of this month.


July

*Probably taking a break this month after being gone so long last month.  We’ll use this time to save up for other trips!


August

short Cruise to the Bahamas for mine and my husband’s birthday

September

??


October

Asheville (Boone), NC to see the colors on the leaves change.  This area of the mountains is gorgeous around time of year and there are so many fun outdoor things to do here.



November


??


December

I’d love to take my son to Great Wolf Lodge near Charlotte, NC for a weekend while it’s all decorated for Christmas.  He’s never been and I think he’ll have a blast!  It’s also near where my husband’s family lives so we can stop and visit them as well!



I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise, but I just don’t see that happening this year as I don’t like to go away without my son during the school year.  That only leaves his summer school break for an Alaskan cruise, since weekends would be too short….and our summer is pretty booked in 2016.  So, add that to the list for 2017!  We’ll also be heading to Scotland in May of 2017 for my husband and I’s 10th wedding anniversary!!!

 Honestly, I’d also love to go to some areas of South America in that year too, but I don’t know where we can fit it in.  2015 has been our first year having to fit our travels around my son’s school breaks (he’s a big Kindergartner now!) and it’s taken some getting used to!  Before that, we didn’t really have to think and it was much easier to pack up and go.  So, we’ve focused on seeing areas closer to home and doing day trips and weekend trips with him.  

Anyways, I’m getting ahead of my self.  Back to 2016…That looks pretty good so far.  I’m sure we’ll have some impromptu trips in there that I don’t know about yet, but I like seeing everything laid out that way I can start planning!  If you’re wondering how we manage to travel every month, here’s a few of the things we do (or have done) to make it happen!

Do you have travel plans for next year?  I’d love to hear about where you’re going!  I’m always looking for new places to add to our list!!

8 Travel Quotes That Will Make You Want To Pack Your Bags And Go

As I sit here, dreaming about my next trip- in exactly 13 (!) days-, I’ve been looking through my saved travel quotes that always get me ready to jet off on our next adventure!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  Feel free to pin them to look back on later when you need inspiration to book that next trip!  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to just that!

Here are my top 8 travel quotes that make me want to pack up and seek new destinations now:

travel.:

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  This quote really speaks to me.  It’s exactly how I feel about life.  I very rarely put down roots and stay in one city (or house) for very long.

Where do you want to go?:

I have seriously been waiting to leave ever since I get somewhere.  Now, some may think that I can’t possibly enjoy a place if I am constantly thinking of leaving the moment I step foot there, but that’s not true.  I love to soak up each place I go and appreciate all of the aspects of it.  But my mind is constantly planning my next destination before I even step foot in a new one.

I'd rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.:

Yes!  I would so much rather spend my money on experiencing things and seeing new places rather than buying “stuff”.  I do not have the most expensive car or house or clothes- but I do get to travel fairly extensively. This is how we’ve made that happen.


#Inspiration #Truth:

This isn’t necessarily a travel quote, but to me it is.  I want to spend my life seeing new places and experiencing the world with my family.  It’s true.  Time will pass anyway.  Will we spend our weekends hanging out around home?  Going to parks, watching tv, and just chilling?  Sometimes.  But why not go to a park and relax and see a new city at the same time?  Life is going to happen either way.  Time will go by.  Make sure you spend yours the way you want!

I have an insane calling to travel quote about travel.:

Exactly.  See an above quote about constantly planning my next trip before I’ve even gone on this one.

Plan your escape! www.wegnerinc.com:

Dreaming is great.  I believe everyone should always have a dream.  But more importantly, we need to make these dreams a reality.  Calling it a dream makes it easy to just “dream” about.  But calling it a plan can make it actually happen!

"To travel is to live."  - Hans Christian Andersen:

Boom.  That’s it.  That’s all you need to know.

it is better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times:

Yes.  It’s nice to hear about other’s travel stories or read books about destinations.  But to go there and actually see it and experience it yourself?  There’s no comparison.

What are some of your favorite travel inspired quotes?   I’m always looking to add new ones to inspire me!

What To Do In Cozumel On A Cruise

                                                         

After Grand Cayman, the next stop on our upcoming cruise will be Cozumel, Mexico.  We’ll be here from 11am-8pm.  There are a lot of different choices for things to do here, so it shouldn’t be hard to find something to make everyone on your vacation happy!

I haven’t decided exactly what we’ll be doing here yet, but I know I plan to get some amazing food!  (UPDATE:  We’re back from our trip!  Read below for what we did end up doing!)

Chankanaab Park

Since we’ll have our son with us, we were thinking of going to  Chankanaab park.  It’s the top attraction in Cozumel and is open from 9am-5pm.  Inside the park, they have their own beach (don’t forget to bring sand toys!), an area where you can find great snorkeling and scuba diving.  The biggest attraction of this place is the animals (if you’re into that).  They give you the ability to swim with dolphins, sea lions, or manatees (!) for an additional fee.

They also have a sea lion show and crocodile exhibit.  This is seriously a place where you could spend all day. There is a beautiful lagoon, restaurant and bar with waiter service at the pool and beach. You can also get a locker to hold all of your beach equipment while you experience the rest of what the park has to offer.

Beyond that, they offer tequila tastings, archaeological replicas, and a historical walk.

 Entry without a swim with the animals is $22/adult and $14 for children 3-12.  If you purchase a swim with the dolphins ($100) or manatees ($53), your admission to the rest of the park is included. During the swim, you can feed the animals, get hugs and kisses, and just have fun playing in the water swimming with them. However, cameras are not allowed in the animal swims…and pictures are super expensive.  So be prepared for that.  I have heard of people successfully haggling on the price of those though.

*Prices accurate at the time of initial posting.  Check the website before you go for the most up to date pricing.

                         

                        

Paradise Beach

If you want to spend an inexpensive day at the beach, head on over to Paradise beach.  Entry is $3 and gives you access to their beach, chairs, pool, and restroom facilities.

The pool is huge and has a nice swim up bar.

Paradise beach also has these great big inflatable water toys in the ocean that cost $15 to use for the day.  There are slides, wall climbs, water trampolines- where if you jump from above, the person below goes flying off into the ocean which I’m sure older kids would find a lot of fun.

They also offer banana boat rides for $15.

For us, I think my son (he’ll be turning 6 at that time) would be too young for the inflatable toys, but the banana boat ride sounds fun!  The food here seems rather expensive, but the portions are very large and tasty.

                           







Playa Mia

Playa Mia is another fun beach day option which is what we are considering doing if we don’t go to Chankanaab.  (UPDATE: Playa Mia is where we ended up going, and it was the highlight of our trip!!!)  

This beach looks like a great choice for families with all ages.  They have a kiddie water park that has a pirate ship with water canons, small waterslides, colorful animal statues, and water spraying from the ground.  
Then in another area they have 2 long twisting waterslides, a huge pool, and an “oasis hydro massage tub” (After being here now, it’s worth mentioning that this massage tub, is not a “hot” tub.  The water is actually just as cold as the pool is.  Most people, including ourselves, had a bit of a shock when we went in! and pretty much went right back out, lol). 
What’s that?  You want more?  
How about a floating park, an underwater Mayan city, kayaks, water bikes, paddle boats, volleyball and soccer court, a playground…really I could go on, there’s more.  
This place has so many options of fun things to do, it sounds like an excellent way to spend the day. The more I’m writing about it, I think this is going to be the option we choose.  My son would have so much fun here.  And who am I kidding, my husband and I will too!  
You also of course have access to a beach, chairs, a buffet and a bar.  You could even pay more for snorkel gear, wave runners, parasailing, and massages if you need more adventure to fill your day.
Price starts at $30/adult and $24/child aged 4-11 and goes up from their depending if you want to include the price food, transportation, or the other adventure options.
* Prices accurate at the time of initial posting.  Always check the website for the most up to date information.

                                                       

** Some more notes since I’ve come back from here:

This place was a huge hit with my family.  My 6 year old son loved the water slides and kiddie water park.  Now, the “floating park” is an obstacle course in the ocean.  OMG ya’ll….it is so much fun….but also could be dangerous?  
They give you life jackets (or when no one is there to hand them out and you grab one yourself and hope you get the right size).  Sometimes the jackets would unbutton themselves either for being the wrong size or maybe used too much.  I would suggest bringing your own life jackets for the kids.  Amazon has some great ones that would be easy enough to bring along.    The course is out in the middle of the ocean and well….let’s just say there is nothing protecting you from, say…if a shark decided to swim near you there really isn’t much you can do about it.  
The course was actually quite difficult, but that made it so much fun.  Every one kept slipping and falling off into the water.   But as I say that, some little kids were zipping through that course!!  
My son was a little afraid to fall into the water, but then he saw mom and dad fall plenty of times so then he became okay with it.  We just pulled him back up—-or hopped in the water with him and pushed him back up–when he did fall.  I know this could sound dangerous–and perhaps it was–but everyone there had A LOT of fun…my 6 year old included.  We went out a second time if that tells you anything, so don’t let it scare you from trying it!**

I tried to zoom in so you could see the obstacle course
kiddie water park area
One of the pools.  You can see how close the ocean is.  Just a few steps away.
And, if your kids need a break from all the activity and chill out for a bit. we ended up bringing some fun activity books for my son.  That way he could take a break and rest for a bit and I didn’t have to chase him around!  It ended up being an easy thing to carry in our bag that we could use at the beach and pool too, so it worked out great.  These are some of the ones we brought with us for an idea:
Picture of Big Maze Book
Click here to take a peek!

Picture of Travel Pocket Puzzle Book
Click here to take a peek!

All-Inclusives


If you’re looking for a relaxing day at an all inclusive resort, you’ll find plenty of options.  
My favorite is to go to resortforaday.com .  We use this site for any cruise we take.  It lists the all inclusives by country and gives you all the info you need.  For Cozumel, we found information on The Melia, El Cozumelena, and El Cid which all include food and alcoholic drinks with your beach and pool time for a price of between $65 and $78 per adult.  (at the time of this writing)

                               Cozumel Resort for a Day

Nachi Cocum and Mr Sanchos are some other very popular All Inclusive beach clubs within the cruising population. 
 Nachi Cocum’s beach may not be great for kids though as  you can walk about 10 steps and then the water gets deep very quickly. 
 Mr Sanchos has an all inclusive side and a separate side for people who’d rather pay as they go for food and drinks.  
Nachi Cocum tends to be on the quieter, more peaceful side of things while Mr Sanchos is a bit livelier.  You can explore the links above if you’re interested in either of these two locations.

Food


After the parks close or you’ve had enough of the beach, you might want to head out and get some food!   We’ll probably go to a wonderful open air restaurant called Poncho’s Backyard.  It’s received rave reviews.  You can see their menu with prices here.  The food is supposed to be delicious with great service.  They also have free WiFi.  There are two locations in Cozumel.  This one here, is more casual,  while the other location specializes in fantastic fine dining Mexican cuisine.

                            

                            

Alternatively, further into town, there is another restaurant called Casa Denis. This place comes highly recommended by a few locals in Cozumel.  Right next to it, you can even find a free tequila tour!

                             

                             

For something a little fun and different, head on over to Salsa and Salsa’s .  This cool place came at the recommendation of one of our readers (Thanks Whitney!), where you can sign up for a cooking class and dance party! You will learn to make a few different kinds of salsas and two types of margaritas.  Then you will learn to dance the salsa!  This sounds like a ton of fun, and judging by the reviews, people always seem to have a good time.  For me, I’m glad the salsa-ing comes after the margaritas!  lol.

*Cruising out of Orlando?  Here’s some cheap things you can do in the area!*


*Interested in booking a cruise?  Find your perfect one on my travel booking site:

There are so many other exciting things to do in Cozumel, that I couldn’t include them all.  If you’ve been there, let me know!  I’d love to hear what you did and if you found any fun spots to check out!



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What To Do in Grand Cayman On A Cruise

      If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you probably know that it’s a fantastic way to travel and there are many positives to this type of vacation.  The only downfall that I can think of is the limited amount of time that you have to explore each destination. (Shameless plug:  If you’re interested in booking a cruise, check out my booking site Live Simple, Travel Well Vacations)

I always try to plan ahead to make sure we get to see the attractions that top our lists.  We’ll be heading to Grand Cayman and Cozumel on a Carnival cruise next month.  It’ll be my son’s first cruise, but my  mine and my husband’s third.  None of us have been to either place before, however seeing much of this destination is going to be tough. We will only be in port between 7am and 3pm!  That’s the shortest amount of time we’ve ever had in port.

Grand Cayman is a tender port, which means that the cruise ship will dock offshore and smaller boats will take you to the island.  This will cut into some of the time we have on land as well.

 The way I figure it, we will probably have about 6 hours to discover Grand Cayman, which to me, means that we’ll probably make it a beach day considering they have arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

7 Mile Beach

Grand Cayman is home to the 7 mile beach (even though it’s really only a little over 5 miles long). You can take a taxi there for $5/pp each way, or better yet, get a feel for the local culture and take the bus (which are really white vans).  It’s half the price ($2.50pp) and you’ll be able to mingle with the locals and get a feel for how life is there rather than taking the taxi.

image from tropixtraveler.com

UPDATE:  This is exactly what we ended up doing.  Taking the bus to 7 mile beach.  Only, don’t call it that to get a ride there.  As it is 7 (okay 5) miles long, each area of the beach has a different name.  The place we went to (called Public Beach- this is where you ask them to take you, not “7 mile beach”) wasn’t too crowded and it had bathroom/ changing facilities.  The waves were strong enough to throw us around right up against the beach area (which my son had a blast with, lol), but go in a little bit and it was fine.  I was surprised to find out that the sand itself, was a little rough and painful at times.  The beach is beautiful though.  We had a great day playing in the water and finding sea glass, shells, and other cool things!  Here are a few pics:

I love this picture I took through some bushes!

Look at that water!

I think we need this sign on all beaches 🙂
We found tons of sea glass!

The sand, like I said though, was kind of rough and painful at times.  It was also hard to walk in as I kept sinking in to the sand closer to the water, lol.  I wish I had brought some sort of water shoes like these.

                                                        

Something to remember for our next trip there, lol.

Turtle Farm 


The other option that I’m considering would be to go to their turtle farm.  Now, we have turtles roaming about where we live in SC, but this place looks pretty cool.  We would be able to do it in our time frame, it will hold my son’s attention, and it’s pretty unique.

The full grown turtles weigh up to 500lbs.  They have touch tanks and even wading pools where you can get in and get up close to the turtles.

They also have a 9 foot long crocodile named Smiley, that is fun to watch at feeding times.

You can also find an education center and a turtle hatchery. The turtle farm has released thousands of turtles back into the wild.  (Smiley the crocodile was found to be a hybrid species and therefore it was not ethical to release her back into the wild, so they chose to keep her safe at the turtle farm).

 If you get hungry there is a bar and grill area along with a gift shop as well.  You can get access to all this for $18 adults $9 children 2-12.

Or, you can also get the Adventure Pass which gives you all of the above, plus access to Breakers Lagoon which is the largest pool on the island.  It has two waterfalls and a huge twisting water slide.

 You can also find an underwater predator viewing area that houses sharks and other creatures of the deep.  There’s a turtle lagoon where you can get in and swim with the turtles, a blue hole nature trail, and Cayman Street where you can see all of the old Cayman architecture.  This is a great deal at $45/adult and $25/child.  If you order online, you also get 20% off.  (Prices correct at the time of initial writing.  Always check the website first for most up to date information)

Stingray City

Stingray City is another popular place with tourists.  Here, they have many large stingrays in about 3-4 feet of water that you can swim with, touch, even kiss them if you want!  Not really for me.  I’ve seen stingrays here on the beach where I live and I definitely don’t want to be that close to them…..especially huge ones like these.  All I can think about is that’s how the Crocodile Hunter passed away.  I think I’ll steer clear of this place….but don’t let my fears stop you!  So many people have said it’s the best thing they’ve done on an island and would do it again in a heartbeat.  So if you’re the type that lives on the edge, come swim and pet the sting rays!

Come back and tell me all about it and I’ll live vicariously through you while squirming over here in my seat, lol!

Fat Fish has a great jet ski tour that incorporates Stingray City and snorkeling.

Let’s see how big these are compared to a person, shall we?

photo from ebaumsworld.com

                             

Um, yup…..I’ll be hiding here, while you tell me all about it! lol.

Hell

Grand Cayman also has a place called Hell.  Honestly, it seems mostly like a tourist trap.  It’s essentially a place with a large group of limestone formations that seems to be what people may envision Hell to look like.  There isn’t much else there except for a gift shop.  Many tours do stop here and it might be worth a look if you were going to check out some other places on the tour as well, but from reading other reviews and doing some research, I wouldn’t really seek this place out.  However, they do have a post office there where you can send someone back home a postcard from “Hell”.  Now that might be fun to do, lol.

Grand Cayman is also  known for their rum cakes.  I keep hearing about these and will definitely make a stop to buy some before we get back on the ship!

Have you been to Grand Cayman?  Is there anything else that is great to check out while only there for a short period of time?  Does anyone know some great restaurants that are close to port?

Ever wonder what it’s like to take a Carnival cruise?  Check out our Carnival Sensation cruise review to the Bahamas or check out some fun things to do in Nassau!

Stitch Fix Review- December 2015

Stitch Fix Review- December 2015

I was so excited for my Stitch Fix this month. I asked my stylist to come up with an outfit that I can wear to church.  I pretty much live in jeans, but when I go to church I dress up a bit….which always tends to leave me in a panic every Sunday saying “but I have nothing to wear”!  You ladies know what I’m talking about.  It doesn’t matter how many clothes you have, you still have those occasions where you feel like you don’t have anything to wear.

Enter Stitch Fix.  I don’t have to go pawing through all the clothes at the mall, taking heaps of items to the dressing room that don’t work out, and try to decide what would look good on me….and being able to find it in the first place.  I love having someone that I can just ask “Hey, Kristy!  Can you send me some clothes that might work for church?  Thanks!”  And then voila, like magic- it’s sent to my doorstep… and was absolutely perfect!

And sometimes you learn that Stitch Fix knows you better than you know yourself. That was the theme of this box for me!

This is what came in my fix this month:

Le Lis Carmen Printed Aline Skirt $54
and
Mak Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button Up Cardigan $38







As soon as I pulled this skirt out of the box, I fell in love with it.  I liked the texture, the design, the colors, everything.  I was a little worried about the waistband.  It felt rough and I was hoping that it wouldn’t hurt or dig into me when it was on.  But when I pulled it on (no zippers or closures on this skirt), it was incredibly comfortable.  I didn’t notice the waistband at all.  I’m 5’5 and the skirt came a little above my knees.  I thought it was the perfect length and, paired with the cardigan like my stylist suggested, was a great choice for me to wear for church….and I did 3 days later!



I had also asked my stylist if she could send me waist length cardigans.  I have a ton of longer ones and had been wanting a few shorter ones.  This cardigan is perfect and just what I was looking for.  I probably wouldn’t have picked this color myself, but that’s the beauty of Stitch Fix.  You are able to try something new that you wouldn’t have normally chosen.  That’s why I signed up in the first place…I don’t know clothes.  I love having a stylist who has gotten to know me and what I like.  This cardigan goes with so many outfits and is the perfect staple piece.  It is thin, but living in Southern South Carolina and it still being in the 60s and 70s here, it’s perfect.

Brixon Ivy Tenly Dress $88




Kristy sent this dress saying that every woman needs a little black dress for the holidays.  And she’s right.  I love this dress.  I didn’t think I would like the “tattered” look of the sleeves, but my husband and I both ended up loving it.  And the dress fit me beautifully.  I love the exposed zipper, the detailing, and the way it fit.  It would be perfect to wear to my husband’s upcoming work Christmas party- but with the holidays, an upcoming vacation, and my son’s birthday in January, I was trying to narrow things down.  Plus, I had just bought a dress online that could work for the party…now here’s hoping that one fits me and I didn’t make a mistake returning this one!  Looking over these pictures I’m kind of regretting sending this one back!

Status: Returned




Daily Boutique Deals at Jane.com




Bay to Baubles Emerson Gemstone Necklace $38






When I first pulled this necklace out of the box, I initially thought that it was a lot larger than  I currently wear and I was unsure about the chain link….well, chain.  However, I’ve been seeing this style a lot and had been wanting to try one.  I honestly didn’t think I’d really like it, but my stylist suggested to wear it with the black dress she sent.  And what do you know?  It looked great together!  I would have kept it if I kept the dress, but we all know how that turned out so…

(Again, now looking at my pictures, I kind of really like it with the blazer and think maybe I should have tried a few more outfits with it before sending it back.  Another one I’m kind of regretting!)

Status: Returned




41Hawthorn Benson 3/4 Ruched Sleeve Blazer $78









I was sent this blazer last month and loved it, but the shoulders were too tight.  My stylist sent me this similar one and tried to go up a size in hopes to fix the shoulder problem.  This is a beautiful blazer.  It was about the same color as the last one, and had a fun striped lining (the last one had polka dots). It did fit much better in my shoulders.  But, it was a little big everywhere else.  This blazer is a nice thicker material, and the detailing of the ruched sleeves is great.

However, I didn’t like how it looked on me when it was buttoned and I was standing to the side.  It kind of flared out at my stomach and, well…who really needs that?

So since it was about the same color as the cardigan that I was sent, and the cardigan worked so nicely and ended up being less money, I kept that instead.

Status: Returned

Sign up for Stitch Fix if you want to see what your own personal stylist would choose for you!

Did you know they now have Stitch Fix Gift Cards?  Pick up a couple of these bad boys for your friends that you’ve been begging to try this service out for Christmas.  Then you can have the fun of opening your packages together!  You can email the gift cards, or Stitch Fix just got in these new beautiful gift cards to send in the mail.

Can’t get enough Stitch Fix?  Check out my previous boxes here!


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