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Travel

5 Things We Don’t Buy, So We Can Travel MORE

We’ve got Champagne travel dreams on a Miller Lite budget…anyone else?

As small business owners, for years now, we’ve been scheming and dreaming of how to travel on a budget…well, because budget is all we got.

But we are determined to not let our finances limit the amount we can adventure- and we want the same for you! Traveling on a budget IS possible, if you’re willing to make some sacrifices in other areas that aren’t as important to you.

Over the years we’ve definitely adopted some minimal living ways, so that we can spend our money on what really brings us LIFE. So here’s a few minimal living ideas for you- 5 things you might consider cutting out of your budget, so that you can travel MORE.

traveling on a budget

1. NEW CLOTHES ON THE REGULAR

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get that new pair of New Balance sneakers I’ve been eying. And although I do love clothes and definitely have an appreciation for timeless, quality fashion…I definitely don’t love those sneakers more than a really good, soul-filling adventure.

So buying brand new clothes, just out of want not need, on a monthly basis is just not something we’ve made room for in our budget. Now don’t get me wrong, we definitely buy clothes here and there as needed. But when we do, we definitely stick to places where we can get the most bang for our buck or with the less is more approach (buying one really high quality shirt instead of 4 I like that were a fourth of the price)

What about the kids though you ask? Our go-to is resale shops! If you haven’t utilized these more- it’s a MUST in minimal living 101. The incredible barley-worn steals you can find there for less than $5 is unreal. And let’s be honest the kids grow out of clothes so fast, it makes me feel a lot better than I didn’t spend $50 on that new dress they will only wear 5 months.

So yes, although those swipe-ups are reallllyyy tempting, I know if I want to actually have the money to take all those trips I am dreaming about, I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize!

minimal living

2. THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY/ELECTRONICS

To be honest, this one isn’t too hard for us. We’ve never been “gadget people”, so choosing to not buy the latest iPhone or snag that new Frame TV I’ve been eyeing for a while now isn’t incredibly painful.

We’ve had the same TV since we were gifted it for our wedding present over 10 years ago! It’s still working totally fine and we know all those technology upgrades just add up over time. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it right?!

If you do need to make a larger electronics purchase- our go-to’s are always, always FB Marketplace and Ebay. Why pay full price when you can get (sometimes even a brand new item) for 30% less or more. Every.dollar.counts. (at least in our world it does) and living minimally in this area really allows us to experience more, which is just the sweet nectar of life is it not?!

Traveling on a budget is absolutely possible- you’ve just got to put your money where your mouth is. Literally 🙂

traveling on a budget

3. EXTRA TOYS FOR THE KIDS

Nope, nope, nope….get it out of my house. Extra toys = extra clutter and more cleaning for Mom. We really do not purchase any additional toys, other than the very intentional gifts we choose for our girls on Christmas and their Birthdays. (and goodness knows the grandparents have this one covered for us and then some)

Less is so so much more.

We find in times that we are traveling and have only packed a small handful of toys, the kids always, always find a way to entertain themselves. And if anything it forces them to get more creative with the few toys they do have!

These are purchases we can easily forgo so that instead of that brand new Barbie dream house (and all the other endless list of toys they’d love), we can gift them a trip to a new National Park over their Fall Break or another epic month-long summer trip overseas.

When they are going off to college I am banking on them remembering that incredible beach town we stayed at on the Italian coast or that hike to the waterfall in the Smoky Mountains far more than a toy that probably will get donated in a years time anyway.

Investing in experience with our kids is our number one priority and we make sure our budget reflects that.

less is more

4. NEW CARS

I know we’ll have some mixed opinions here. But for us, because of our limited budget, we just don’t have room for regular adventures to new places AND hefty monthly car payments.

So our strategy has always been – buy older, solid cars and own them outright.

No we’re not getting the latest 2021 Toyota 4Runner (although that sounds fabulous)…but we are doing our research, and finding a reliable 2009 4Runner with some miles on that is still in great working condition so we can own it in full.

For us, minimal living is all about having only what we need, and getting rid of everything we don’t. So why not completely cut out those monthly car payments (if you’re able of course) so those funds can go directly to regular, life-giving trips as a family that really fill your cup for years to come. We will never ever let traveling on a budget, or lack there of, be our excuse not not traveling.

5. ALCOHOL WHILE OUT

Ok no one enjoys a margarita on the patio in peak early summer days more than me….but we try not to make buying drinks while out part of our regular routine. We all know how quickly that adds up and boom two Gin&Tonics later and you’ve doubled your dinner bill.

We do love eating out, visiting new restaurants, tryiiinnnggg to have a regular date night – so we have prioritized that in our budget. But we do feel like when not traveling alcohol is something we can easily (and far more economically) enjoy at home.

All the little sacrifices really do add up…traveling on a budget isn’t easy, but it’s always, always 100% worth it.

traveling on a budget

6. GIFTS FOR EACH OTHER

Alright, no no we’re not heartless spouses who hate each other. We just REALLY love traveling together. It is truly, truly our happiest place. We are our best selves when adventuring side by side…so we try to do so every chance time and budget allows.

And one way budget allows, is by not buying each other gifts for every single holiday (Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas…goodness it all adds up right?!).

Other than birthdays, we kind of have a standing rule that no gifts are expected. It totally takes the pressure off on both parities, and we both take so much more joy in knowing that money not spent is going towards our next getaway together.

Now 10 years and 2 (almost three!) kids later and living on a little more than a teacher’s salary we’ve been able to go just Luke and I to the California Coast, Vail, Napa, Santa Fe, Boston, New York, tons of local Texas weekends away and so many more – all because we prioritized EXPERIENCE together at the top of our budget.

I mean, there is NO greater gift in our books.

Living minimally in these ways allows us to traveling on a budget….but we’re TRAVELING! And you really can’t put a price on the value that adds to you and your kid’s lives!

Travel

Staying Adventurous // 5 Things to Start Right Now

That dang Corona Virus changed travel and adventuring as we know it for longer I think any of us EVER anticipated. The lack of traveling during covid was just downright miserable, amirite??

No sugar coating things here…it really sucked. Traveling during covid, or lack there of, was just down right depressing.

In the past few months there has been some light at the end of the tunnel on all of this, and we have been just brimming with excitement that there might be some more adventures on our horizon that feel semi-normal soon and VERY SOON.

Here’s just a few of the things in this last blur of a year that kept our adventuring spirits alive…maybe not well…but alive and giving us little bursts of life-giving gusts of air to keep us going through all this mess

1. THIS Airbnb Experience – Virtual Italian Cooking Experience

Holy wow this class was absolutely incredible and we can’t recommend it enough. What a BLAST!

If we can’t be IN Italy, this was truly the next best thing. Luca and Lorenzo were just the most quintessential Italian hosts. They walk you through making your own authentic Italian pasta, wine in hand of course, and give you just the smallest taste of Italy that I promise will leave you with a THRILL and true joy for the adventures to come.

Traveling during covid to Italy may be impossible…but being there virtually in this delightful experience is a really great substitute.

These guys are the real deal and for that price you literally can’t go wrong in this travel-crippling, COVID world.

2. PLANNING travel

Although the amount we adventured this past year dramatically decreased…that didn’t stop us from planning out some super fun trips for the future. We’ve got two fun trips on the books for this summer we’re really excited to share with you all.

We are headed out for another month long summer adventure (stay tuned for that location on our Instagram page HERE!) and we are literally counting down the dayyyysssss. It seems like maybe the lack of traveling during covid may be coming to an end and we.are.THRILLED.

(If you haven’t checked out how we not only make these month long trips happen but also bring in money WHILE we travel, check out our post HERE…it’s well worth a read)

3. This Series on Disney+

Ok, I know I know nothing on the screen is near the thrill of visiting the actual place…BUT I promise you this series is worth every minute of your time.

Especially episode 1…just trust me, after this 45 min mental getaway your travel glands will be salivating.

4. Trying ALL the new restaurants

I feel like this is a seriously downplayed way to find in adventure in your own city…anyone else?

Don’t get me wrong, we have our go-to restaurants that are a home away from home and that comfort when you need it. BUT there is totally something exciting that keeps that adventure spirit alive by simply trying a place to eat you’ve never been before.

It may be a total miss…or it could be your new favorite…that’s the fun of it! Challenge if you choose to accept it- try eating out for an entire month at only new restaurants in your city!

5. ROADTRIPS

We may not have been able to finally go on that epic family trip to Norway we’ve been dreaming about for years…BUT we made lemonade out of lemons and have become quite the road-trippers this past year. We’re serious adventure lovers over here, so we made traveling during covid anyway anyhow.

Travel was different, and will probably continue to be different for a while, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on adventuring! There are ways to travel and travel safely in this post-COVID world…and for us a huge part of that has been road-trips.

See The Ultimate List of Resources for Your Next Road Trip here!

We’ve got 2 big road trips happening this summer and we CAN’T WAIT.

Adventure might be a little, or a lot, different- BUT adventure is not dead. Every week, every month, we’re trying to make choices that help us live out our value that EXPERIENCES > THINGS…even in this crazy pandemic world!

Travel

Fall Foliage Getaways to Book Now

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Brilliant washes of copper, amber, orange, and scarlet can only mean one thing — Fall is here! While peak Fall foliage can range anywhere from late September to late October, it’s not too late to plan a last-minute autumnal getaway

….not to mention leaf-peeping is a great socially distanced activity to partake in.

Foliage spots are brimming across the country. From the valleys of California to coastal escapes in New England, fall foliage is one of the brilliant things to accompany colder weather. Take off on a road trip, book an off-the-grid Airbnb (get inspiration in our post here) or take advantage of cheap flight deals to cozy up and enjoy the fall weather.

Newport, Rhode Island

While Newport is one of the hottest summer destinations, explore this coastal town in the fall instead. Bask in the New England weather while enjoying the seaside Newport without the tourists. Is there anything better than chilly beach walks after summer ends? Embark on the winding drive of Ocean drive — it offers fantastic views of Fort Adams State Park and the Atlantic Ocean along with many points of interest. You won’t want to miss the Cliff Walk; this paved walkway along the edge of Newport passes sprawling famed mansions of Newport and offers views of Narragansett Bay and Jamestown Island. 

Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Three words — blue crab season. While this delicious season kicks off in April, it peaks in fall so October is the perfect time to visit. Crowds have thinned from summer fun, cooler weather will be easier to enjoy, and fall is when crabs are meatiest — and cheapest! Spend a morning enjoying foliage from the road while traveling some of Maryland’s best-kept secrets — their scenic byways. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway is named after the heroic leader so it combines unbeatable leaf-peeping with history. You’ll explore the secret network of trails, safe houses, and waterways used by enslaved people fleeing north.

Great Smoky Mountains

Another must-have to catch the leaves changing — The Great Smoky Mountains. Mid-October you’ll find the leaves boasting bright copper and crimson.  To take in the breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains by hiking trails, check out Clingman’s Dome, Baskins Creek Trail, or the Appalachia Trail from Newfound Gap. The crisp autumnal air will offer you perfect weather to accompany the stunning colors you’ll encounter. To see the vista from a different viewpoint, hop aboard the Nantahala Gorge Excursion. If you prefer to take in the fall colors with a scenic drive instead, enjoy the changing colors of leaves on the Cades Cove Loop Road, Newfound Gap Road, Cataloochee Valley, or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Photo by Ruvim Miksanskiy on Unsplash

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

While Jackson Hole is an outdoor-enthusiast area for the summer months, autumn holds even more promise for fall foliage getaways. Enjoy the local hiking, biking, fishing, and excursions with fewer crowds and more temperate weather. Embark on a national park adventure  (keep track of them on our new National Parks map!) both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are only a short drive away. To take in one of the most scenic views of the Grand Tetons, head to Oxbow Bend. Catch the best light as Mount Moran is reflected in the glass-like waters of Snake River. Hike, kayak, or just enjoy the spectacular fall colors near the river. Go early — and don’t forget your camera!

Telluride, Colorado

Most cities in Colorado act as a playground during winter months, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore during fall too. Instead of grabbing your ski shoes, grab a pair of hiking boots to explore. But the fastest way to enjoy everything Telluride has to offer in the fall? The gondola. To enjoy a scenic trip (with minimal effort) board one of their famed gondolas from Telluride to Mountain Village. It covers 8 miles in the San Juans. The best part? This excursion is completely free! Locals say get off at San Sophia Station to catch both stunning views of Mt. Wilson and the town of Telluride. Go around sunset and you may even catch an epic Alpenglow!

Door County, Wisconsin

The best leaf-peeping doesn’t just happen on the coasts! In fact, the midwest boasts some of the best fall foliage getaways. For a midwest getaway, head to Door County. Get peeks of picturesque New England as you drive down High 57 on the lakeside of the peninsula. The drive is chock full of lighthouses, white frame buildings, and of course bursts of scarlet, gold, and copper leaves from the canopy of trees. To enjoy the area’s oak, maple, and hardwood trees through October, take advantage of one of the colorful scenic drives. Head north on Highway 42 as part of the Door County Coastal Byway — the stretch between Northport and Sister Bay will offer some of the most spectacular views in Wisconsin before you cut inland to the famous Jens Jensen Winding Road. Not only is this road famously curvy, but it will also offer great photo opportunities! Make sure to add a pit stop at Seaquist Orchards Farm Market for apple cider doughnuts. This multi-generational family business is one of the most beloved in the county.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

For another midwest respite, head to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The state’s northernmost point offers vibrant gold and orange hues across the peak season in early October. The winding roads are surrounded by colorful tunnels of trees. For some of the state’s best views, go to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park along with nearly 100 waterfalls including the most polar Bond Falls. Or visit a historic ghost town surrounded by fall foliage for a beautiful yet interesting history lesson at Fayette Historic State Park. The short hike to the overlook will offer amazing views of Snailshell Harbor and the surrounding limestone bluffs.

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge provides a natural border between Washington and Oregon and is a stunning place to visit for any time of year, however, in the fall the firs, cottonwoods, maples, and Oregon ash trees all start to show off. They display their bold colors so that every drive, hike, or canoe trip is breathtaking. Enjoy hundreds of miles of trails, tons of waterfalls, or grab a kayak or canoe to explore the water. There is no better way to take in the blanketed paths of fallen leaves than one of Oregon or Washington’s famed hikes. A can’t miss trail of the area — Cape Horn Trail. Not only will you spend the six-mile loop trail surrounded by gorgeous foliage, but it also overlooks the Pioneer Point which offers sweeping views of the changing leaves.

Sonoma, California

For any wine-lovers, fall is an ideal time to visit the wine country. You can tour the vineyards and wineries while enjoying the red, orange, and yellow foliage. Take a ride on the open-air Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley to take in the foliage from the tracks. If you’re ready to take a break from the vino, the Bodega Head Trail offers an easy hike with beautiful ocean and bay views. Choose between the 3-mile option around the headlands or an even easier 1-mile path to and from the overlook. Both will reward you with sweeping views of Bodega Harbor, the Pacific Ocean, and the town itself. After you work up an appetite, treat yourself to a local seafood lunch after.

Hopefully, we’ve offered plenty of autumnal inspiration to set out on some fall foliage getaways!

So grab your road trip essentials, your travel journals, and set out to make so more memories in this crazy year.

Travel

The Best Remote AirBnbs for less than $200/night

While 2020 may not be filled with the international trips you had planned (we were devastated to cancel our trip to Norway…WHY of all the years Corona??) that doesn’t mean all travel has to stop. These remote Airbnbs will have your travel soul filled once again.

We’ve been embracing this summer and finding joy in the things we can still do — like a last-minute road trip to a National Park we’ve never been to (plan your own National Park trip HERE)!

A getaway off the grid will help eliminate any of these “new normal” anxieties of travel regulations, mask mandates, and business closures. For a socially distanced getaway, plan a road trip to one of these remote Airbnbs (and don’t forget your road trip essentials).

Whether you want a unique stay in a renovated train car or a treehouse or you’re just looking for a cozy cabin in the woods, here are a few remote Airbnbs we can’t wait to book ourselves — all for under $200 a night, STEALS!

An A-Frame in the Woods

AIRBNB

Where: Brook Park, Minnesota

$193/night

The restored A-frame of our dreams! This precious 1978 A-frame cabin named after “Little North” in Swedish is located on 5 acres of woods along Snake River in Minnesota. The owners have restored the cabin and use it as an extension to their vintage shop in Minneapolis. The rehabilitated space focuses on sustainability and aims to keep era-specific furniture and pieces in the space. This place is clearly special and incredibly well decorated, at the top of our best remote Airbnbs in the US for SURE.

Brand New Studio Earthship

Where: Taos, New Mexico

$125/night

If you’re ready for an out of this world adventure, behold the Studio Earthship. The owner built this house by hand and it’s eco-friendly — rainwater is caught and used to generate electricity while staying at a steady 72 degrees year-round. While the location is off the grid, you won’t be short with amenities; this house still features wifi, Netflix, TV, and a luxuriously deep tub to relax in.

Converted WWII Train Car with Patio

AIRBNB

Where: Maryville, Tennessee

$150/night

For any history buffs out there, book this converted train car dating back to World War Two. Platform1346 is a renovated troop train kitchen car that features wood flooring, modern furnishings, and an open layout. Relax under the stars with the outdoor fire pit, gazebo, and BBQ station. You’ll be greeted with one-of-a-kind details and exceptional hospitality — the hosts have worked to transform this train car, an airplane hangar, and an old camper trailer into unique Airbnb experiences.

Glass and Grain Bin Cottage

Where: Manhattan, Kansas

$167/night

It seems they can transform anything into an Airbnb these days and this grain bin cottage is no different. If you’re looking for a unique stay in the Flint Hills, this stay is perfect for you! Two grain bins were connected using glass walls so you can sit and be one with nature without going outside — it’s the perfect combination to be in the middle of a peaceful sanctuary. Enjoy sipping your morning coffee in the living room, looking out the glass windows, or head outside to enjoy the fire pit and grill.

Gashes Fluss Haus

AIRBNB

Asheville, North Carolina

$120/night

OK I think this might be my favorite remote Airbnb on the list…while this two-story cottage is over 100 years old, you would never guess it because of its rustic yet modern transformation. It features whitewashed stone walls, but still feels incredibly cozy because of its open wood-burning stove. Cuddle up on the love seat or massage tired feet with their polished river-rock shower floor. It provides a cottage feel with modern touches — perfect for a cozy getaway.

Modern Off-the-Grid Treehouse 

Where: Tiller, Oregon

$182/night

Warning: this stay is best for those that don’t have a fear of heights. This truly unique and private treehouse sits on 160 acres of land. So not only are you offered privacy sitting 40 feet in the air, Summit Prairie treehouse is also situated atop a 40-acre meadow surrounded by Umpqua National forest. This unique stay was modeled after Fire Lookout Towers built by the US Forest Service in the early 1900s. Old world inspiration enhanced with modern essentials — it features a full kitchen, running water, propane stove, heaters and lamps. Spend the day relaxing, lounging in hammocks down the hill, or soaking in the secluded wood-fired spring-fed hot tub.

The Majestic Mountain Retreat

AIRBNB

Prescott, Arizona

$150/night

A serene mountain retreat with decor and design worthy of a TV  show — this majestic retreat known as the Walker Getaway was featured on Cash Pad on CNBC and it shows! They made over this small cabin and now the thoughtful decor and details truly make this serene setting a place to enjoy. The house sits at 6,500 feet so you’re surrounded by beautiful vistas. Use the full kitchen or outdoor gas grill to cook and enjoy your meals at the alfresco dining area outside. This remote getaway just looks MAGICAL.

Charming Riverfront Cottage

Where: Brightwood, Oregon

$161/night

Enjoy the beauty of Sandy River just 100 feet from the back door of this charming cottage. Just seven miles from town but surrounded by scenic pine trees, this one-level cottage has plenty to do. Utilize the fire pit for smores, enjoy the wood-burning fireplace, or relax outside and listen to the sound of the river. With Mt. Hood just 24 miles away, there’s also plenty to explore when you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

Modern Vermont Cabin

AIRBNB

Where: Wardsboro, Vermont

$199/night

If you’re looking for a chic ski getaway, this Vermont cabin is within 20 minutes from Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain Resort. This cozy Adirondack style cabin is uniquely modern, with clean mid-century inspiration vastly different compared to surrounding cabins. Enjoy the outdoors to bike, hike, ski, or simply relax. Cuddle up with your favorite book in the living room next to the vintage fireplace for any cold-weather weekends. Of all the remote Airbnbs on the list, this one definitely looks the most cozy.

Modern Cabin Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Where: Big Island, Virginia

$159/night

Escape from the busyness of life with this tiny house. At just over 300 square feet, this cabin is the definition of tiny living but still offers enough space and plenty to do. The surprisingly spacious floor plan can accommodate 5 people with a loft bedroom and cathedral ceilings. It sits just minutes from Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, and countless hiking trails. Located on 2 and a half acres and right near a mountain stream, this space is great for any outdoor enthusiasts.

Where are you looking forward to exploring next? Hopefully, we’ve left you with plenty of inspiration for your next off the grid vacation.

Travel

The Ultimate List of Road Trip Resources

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Road Trips have made a comeback and we aren’t complaining. You want to hit the road and get that adventure started….butttttt what tools are there to make your adventure go from fun to EPIC?? We’ve got the ultimate list of road trip resources, look no further!

We just took a last-minute summer getaway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via road trip (100% inspired by this post HERE) and it was the BEST decision we made on this side of Corona.

So regardless if you want to spend a week in a luxury RV or want to hit the open road with no plans and a tent (does that sound SO thrilling to anyone else?!), there are a few essentials that will just make life on the road easier.

Of course, you should start by packing your car with the true essentials — driver’s license, registration, sunglasses, a killer playlist (a must), water, and of course snacks. But after that, there are apps and tools to keep ready in your car to maximize your road trip for ease and FUN!

Car Essentials

Smart Vehicle Health Monitor

Keep an eye on your engine health with this monitor and its real-time alerts. It uses predictive technology to identify any potential issues with your car. Just plug it into your car’s OBD port to ensure you have a safe and fun road trip.

2021 Road Atlas

I don’t know about you, but there’s no greater feeling than reading a map while traveling down an open road. While we all have the world at our fingertips thanks to smartphones, sometimes following along on a paper map just adds to your road trip journey. We love large scale version is easy to read and features every state’s map, 350 enlarged city insets, and National Park maps.

Inflatable Back Seat Gap

Sometimes you just need to pull over and call it a night — this inflatable back seat mattress helps you do just that. With an electric pump, within 2-3 minutes you can transform the backseat of your car into a flat comfortable surface to catch some z’s. The best road trip resources are the ones you didn’t really know you needed but are SO thankful you had.

Travel Journal

All the apps in the world can’t beat good old-fashioned memory keeping.

While you can pack this list full of practical items for road trips, there are some things necessary for travel memory keeping as well. Spend your days on the road capturing and writing down your favorite memories, itineraries, and keeping mementos beautifully.

Car Jump Starter and Battery Charger

Nothing is worse than an unexpected flat when you’re trying to get somewhere. Jumpstart your car up to 20 times with this dual jump starter and battery charger. Use the USB ports to plug in any phones or tablets for a quick charge.

Portable First Aid Kit

You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit. This compact portable version will have you covered for any minor incidents. It includes gauze, band-aids, Neosporin…anything you can think of, so you’ll be set for whatever mishap comes your way. 

Road Trip Resources and Tools

The Dyrt

It’s easy to see why this is the #1 rated app for camping- it’s a mobile-friendly tool that helps you craft the perfect adventure. It has the largest reviewed collection of campgrounds ranging from free campsites to RV resorts to National Parks. (See our ultimate National Park Resource HERE!)

And they make it even easier with a downloadable map feature to find campsites on the go if you’re driving through any places with spotty reception.

Allstays

Unless you’re road tripping with an RV or camper, you’re going to need to find places to rest along the way. Search by state and filter for what kind of camping location you prefer. In populous areas, people often leave helpful reviews and pictures so you know what to expect. So if you’re road-tripping on a tight budget, this is the app for you. (No one knows more about traveling on a budget than us! Read here all about what we don’t buy so we can travel more)

Outdoorsy

Are you ready to head out on the road trip of a lifetime, but you’re just missing the vehicle part? Outdoorsy is the tool for you. Just enter your dates, your location, and the site aggregates vans, campers, and RVs to rent. On the other hand, if you have a camper or RV just sitting around you can easily list it and make some money when you’re not using it.

Splitwise

Heading out on a road trip with a group of friends? Splitwise is an easy tool to keep track of a trip’s expenses and divvy budget between your friends. This definitely tops the road trip resources list. Simply add any accommodations, rentals, food, and any other spending into the app and it acts as a running tab to split things easily (SO helpful!) This is the number one thing I have downloaded for any type of adventure with a group of people so it doesn’t cause a headache at the end of the trip when everyone asks, “So what do I owe you?”.

Our Favorites

Gas Buddy

To easily seek out the cheapest gas prices along your route, download gas buddy for your next road trip. It allows you to save the maximum amount of money so you can continue on the easiest route and work within a budget. Just type in your starting point and destination and it will calculate the quickest route with all the money-saving stops throughout…I mean how cool is that! It includes a trip cost calculator, a directory of gas prices, and even an accurate estimate of gas budget for your current make and model.

Roadtrippers

Really the only app you need as far as mapping out your trip….because what’s a road trip without a detour and the fun stops?!

Roadtrippers helps you discover the most incredible people, places, and experiences worth a detour. It even has a feature that allows you to share and collaborate with friends. There is also live traffic updates and offline maps, which we found crazy helpful as we made our way into the Smoky Mountains.

To Pass the Time

Libby

Hands down our favorite road trip entertainment is audio books. Without fail, we are sucked into a new book and before we know it 5 hours have been ticked off that 15hour journey!

The Libby app is our favorite audiobook source because it’s free! Libby, by Overdrive, is run through the public libraries, so you can check out as many audio books as your heart desires without paying a dime. Just make sure to download them prior to hitting the road so if you don’t have a hotspot there will be zero interruptions.

Would you Rather (Family Style)

….a version you can play with the kids around. Would you Rather is one of our favorite go-to games whether with babes in tow or not. If you’re feeling low on the creativity, we love this app to jump start some fun questions to get some conversation started on the road.

Would you rather wear a snow suit in the desert or a bathing suit in Antartica? Would you rather lose your hands or your feet? So much fun and sure to bring the laughs and pass some time!

If you’ve got little ones in tow, stay tuned for our Road Trip Essentials with KIDS post coming soon!

Is there something you can’t live without when you’re heading out on a road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel

Our Current Bucket List

Currently dreaming (Corona dreaming albeit) of….

Whether you’ve been sucked into scrolling through travel accounts on Instagram or you can’t stop pinning destinations on Pinterest — we all can’t wait to start traveling again.

BUT until we can travel again normally (and safely!) we’ll be over here building our dream bucket list. From both local destinations to the far corners of the earth — here are some of the first places we can’t wait to visit. 

New Orleans

Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash

New Orleans is chock full of culture, food, nightlife, and history, so it makes perfect sense it has earned a spot on our bucket list. Whether you want to explore Bourbon street, take a cemetery tour, or enjoy live jazz with a drink in hand, New Orleans is a must-see city at least once in your lifetime. Make sure your trip is full of adventurous foods (gator po’boy anybody?) in addition to learning about the of French, Spanish, African, and American influences seen in every part of life here in this southern town. 

Redwoods National Park

While there are a lot of National Parks worthy of this list, lately we’ve been coveting the giant and lush trees of Redwoods National Park. Take to the trees to camp (or glamp) in style, spend your days hiking, or just enjoy driving through the scenery — with some of the tallest trees in the world, this trip is sure to put things in perspective.

Bonus: this National Park is almost completely open to visitors right now so you can cross this one off sooner rather than later- check out our full COVID-proof National Park list HERE.

Cannon Beach

Photo by Ryan Wilson on Unsplash

While you may associate Oregon with lush forests and hiking, it’s also home to stunning rocky coastal beaches which brings us to our next bucket-list destination — Cannon Beach. On your way, stop at Camp 18 — a logging camp turned restaurant to get a sense of Oregon’s logging history. Enjoy the bustling art scene with the dozen or so galleries in midtown Cannon Beach or head to the beach to take in the iconic Haystack Rock. 

Maine (in the Fall!)

Fall in New England is unlike any other. But the one place we can’t stop thinking about trekking to? Maine. Enjoy a fresh sea-to-table dinner, sightsee one of the many historic lighthouses, or just enjoy a day taking in nature in this beautiful state.  Whether you’re enjoying the chilly weather in a coastal town like Bar Harbor or you’re taking to the trails in Acadia National Park — Maine is one place we can’t wait to hit up.

The Great Lakes 

Not all beautiful bodies of water are situated on the coasts — in fact, for a getaway that feels further away than the Midwest head to check out of the many Great Lakes available on the US side. Lake Superior’s beautiful clear waters feature shipwrecks and opportunities to cliff dive, but has colder water year-round. If you want to enjoy water time and stunning sand dunes, head to Michigan and enjoy Lake Michigan instead. 

Cape Cod 

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

Cape Cod used to be a place for only those flush with cash, but it’s also a quintessential New England coastal experience for everyone else. Get your fair share of picturesque lighthouses and fresh from the ocean seafood alongside these coastal towns — many of which are architectural and culinary gems. Take in weathered shingles, clam chowder, and glorious sand dunes across Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard.

Cumberland Island, Georgia

A charming and majestic island we had never even heard of until recently, Cumberland Island will have you feeling like you’re far away from home. Grab a ferry from St. Marys and take advantage of this quiet and enchanting island that’s under protection by the National Park Service. Stay at the Greyfield Inn for an all-inclusive experience in a manner from the 1890s or enjoy nature by camping in one of the many campgrounds on the island. 

Japan (International Travel couldn’t come back any sooner!)

Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

Japan is a dream destination to start but combine it with the cherry blossom season? Now that’s bucket-list-worthy. While we may not be able to get to Japan anytime soon, experiencing the bustling cities, countryside, and culture of Japan is definitely on our must-see list. First up? Plenty of time spent in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hakone for stunning views of Mount Fuji. 

French Riviera 

While most people flock to the coastline of Italy, we’ve been dreaming more about the South of France for our next big adventure. From the sprawling lavender fields of Provence to the yacht-filled waters of Saint Tropez, there is plenty to see in the French Riviera. Take a bus, train, or rental car and explore some must-see stops along the coast — Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Provence, and although technically not part of France, the small country of Monaco.

Marrakech

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Dream-worthy markets of handmade goods, stunning courtyards with mosaic tiling, and some of the best food in the world — we must be talking about the one and only Marrakech. If you’ve ever wanted to shop endlessly in markets or take in the fantastic architecture, you may want to head to Marrakech. Start at Ben Youssef Madrasa, a preserved 14th-century former Islamic school that represents Moroccan design with its ornate tiles, wooden windows, and tranquil courtyard — not to mention the endless opportunities for the perfect Instagram shot. 

Croatia

Between idyllic beaches, picturesque national parks, delicious food, and plenty of history — Croatia has got it all. When I lived in northeastern Italy, we spent some time in Split and it was MAGIC.

It earned Travel + Leisure Choice Destination of the Year in 2016, continuing to gain popularity and it is easy to see why. Head to the Dalmatian Islands if you’re looking for a beach vacation, Plitvice National Park for all you adventure-seekers, or Dubrovnik for anybody looking to live out their best Game of Thrones life (most of the series was shot here)!

While some of these may get to be crossed out sooner than others, we can’t stop dreaming of when our next adventure will be and adding to our bucket list. What’s next on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel

How To Prep Your Home for Airbnb Guests

Making money while you travel — sounds like a dream come true right?

Annnddd if you haven’t checked out our How to Make Money While You Travel 101, it is definitely worth a read HERE.

With the rise of vacation rentals, there’s an easy way to utilize that empty house of yours and make money on your next trip. But turning your home into an Airbnb takes a lot more than adding a listing online with a few pictures. From basic amenities to how to store your valuables, here are a few key things to consider when preparing the home for Airbnb guests.

Make Sure It’s Safe

First things first — you want a safe experience for your guests. Critically examine your home with safety in mind. Are there exposed wires or loose steps?

When we were prepping our home for our first Airbnb guests during our month long stay in Italy (see how we did it all for 1k here!), there were definitely a handle of things we just lived with and didn’t think about, but knew needed to be fixed (i.e. that hole in the bathroom wall that we never fixed, or those pesky closet doors that posed a risk for little fingers)

Take stock of all the potential hazards and fix them before you begin advertising your home. Make sure there are working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Add a small first-aid kit somewhere in your home and of course, leave your phone number or email address for guests to reach you in case there are questions or problems.

Lock Away Your Valuables

The most important part of inviting guests into your home is safeguarding your personal items. There are two parts to this — the first is to screen potential guests. The second is to remove your valuables completely.

This includes jewelry, family photos, legal papers, fine china, firearms, and other items important to you. If you don’t want to remove them from your property completely, decide on accessible areas for your guests. You can keep basements, rooms, cupboards, and closets off-limits to keep as storage while you have guests. I know so many Airbnb’s we have visited have that one closet that is locked shut….that you wonder what might just be in there, but is effective nontheless.

We are pretty avid minimalist, so we really don’t have much to lock away when we have guests…and typically we are taking our camera and laptops with us. But we do keep a small lockbox, for other valuables we don’t want accessible to guests.

(Also just for your peace of mind- worst case scenario if something did happen, Airbnb’s Host Protection is BOMB.)

Keep It Simple

Minimalism is key here — guests don’t want to live among your belongings. We push our clothes to the back of the closet, remove our kids artwork on the fridge, put out personal tolietries in a basket under the sink…you get the picture.

Don’t feel like you need to completely strip you home to a stark hotel room, but definitely clear the clutter and remove those super personal, red flashing light “someone lives here!”, items.

Lock in a Competitive Price

Airbnb only acts as a way to make money while you travel if you actually book guests! Do research on comparable listings to get an idea of rates and lock in your competitive pricing. Update your calendar regularly and consider adding a discount for extended stays since it’s easier to manage fewer people coming and going.

We actually use the AirBnb smart pricing feature and it has worked great for us! It automatically adjusts the price based on the time of year, demand etc….we have never not had a booking for a time we opened up our calendar.

In addition to a comprehensive description, make sure your photographs are well-lit and plentiful. Consider hiring a professional photographer for this portion. We actually contacted our realtor and she had her photographer take our images for us for only $100! Well, worth the upfront cost given the thousands we’ve made off our empty house while traveling…it really does make a difference.

Don’t Forget the Amenities

Make sure there is a comfortable bed, good pillows, and high-quality sheets. It’s helpful to provide extra pillows and blankets. Make sure there are clean hand towels and bath towels.

Mu number one thought when we first considered listitng our house on Airbnb while we traveled was- “but they aren’t going to sleep in our sheets right??”

Have an extra sets of towels, bed linens, and pillow protectors for your guests aside from the one your family normally uses. You may also want to consider a separate mattress topper and pillows for an extra level of sanitation for your home. We stash our personal linens in closets while we are gone, and have our house keeper but them back on at the exit cleaning before we return!

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Leave Written Out Rules

Have written instructions on how to connect to the internet, how to use the TV, and operate other major appliances like the AC, heater, or security systems…as well as all those weird quirks about your house that only you know:)

Outline expectations for parking, trash removal, and checkout for guests. Make sure to state any house rules as well. For example:

  • Can your guests have parties?
  • Is smoking allowed? If yes, specify where.
  • May your guests play loud music after 10 pm?
  • If you allow pets, provide specific pet rules.
  • Do you have sensistive plumbing?

CLEAN!

We always schedule our house cleaner to come the morning the guests are checking in and the day they check out. AirBnb allows you to set a custom cleaning fee in your listing, so we opted to have that fee cover both the initial and final cleaning.

So we do all the straightening up, and then we leave the actual wiping down, vacuuming, mopping etc to the house keeper…we tried to do it all ourselves once, and trust us, THIS is the way to go. Makes leaving a breeze!

It’s always a bit of a mad dash to prep our house for guests, on top of all the work to get ready for a trip…but it is 100% worth it when we get that deposit in our account that essentially just paid for our trip! (Not the mention coming home to a sparkling clean house!)

Ultimately, to prepare your home for Airbnb guests means to prepare to become a great Airbnb host. This boils down to one factor — a great guest experience. There are so many great places to stay on Airbnb, so to set yourself apart, be friendly and responsive without being obtrusive. By improving the guest experience you’ll build relationships, get returning guests, and earn amazing reviews — in addition to earning that extra cash!

Get to more traveling now! Sign up to be a Airbnb host HERE!

Travel

National Parks to Visit Now — And What to Do There

For all the summer 2020 trips that never were…

While summer definitely won’t look normal this year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t adventures you can still embark on! One of the safest options for summer 2020 is heading to the great outdoors and experiencing a National Park.

We had a trip to Norway (our first time back to Europe since we did our epic 1 month in Italy for 1k – two kids in tow and all!) and the Redwoods that were both cancelled, so we have been desperately itching for just any change in scenery….anyone else?!

So we’ve outlined the best National Parks open this summer — and what to do once you get there. Scroll below and find your last minute, COVID-safe getaway below!

National Park Push Pin Map

ARIZONA

Grand Canyon National Park

The South Rim, Tuweep, Inner canyon trails and the North Rim are all open for day hiking. Beginning June 14, the park will initiate a phased reopening of Colorado River trips.

Don’t Miss:

The most popular entry to the park is Grand Canyon Village. It is home to Yavapai Point — one of the best places to view the canyon. The Rim Trail is one of the most comprehensive trails in the Grand Canyon and allows you to see the South Rim’s most popular viewpoints. It’s a fairly easy walking path that traces the canyon’s edge with viewpoints at Maricopa Point and Hopi Point.

ARKANSAS

Hot Springs National Park

Trails, roads, water fountains, and concession services operating in bathhouses and the Mountain Tower are open for limited services.

Don’t Miss:

Head out to Sunset Trail which leads to multiple impressive mountain overlooks. The 8.9 mile loop is doable for beginning or moderate hikers. Afterwards, relax in the longest operating bathhouse from 1912 along Bathhouse Row. Buckstaff Bath is equipped with steam cabinets, whirlpool tubs, Swedish mass therapists, and needle showers. 

CALIFORNIA

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

Roads, parking lots, developed and wild trails, restrooms, and picnic areas are all open for visitors but overnight campgrounds and lodging will remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

Of course you can’t miss The General Sherman Tree on your visit to Sequoia. The world’s largest tree stands at 275 feet and measures more than 36 feet in diameter at its base. Or head to the Giant Forest — a large sequoia grove that is home to more than 8,000 trees.

Joshua Tree National Park

Park entrances, parking lots, roads, trails, backcountry camping, family campsites, and some restroom facilities are open for visitors but the visitor center and group campsites remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

Head out on Arch Rock nature trail — a .5 mile trail that has a lot of large rock formations to climb on and a large natural arch.

COLORADO-

Rocky Mountain National Park

On June 4th, the park will implement a reservation system (get yours at www.recreation.gov). The reservations will go on sale on May 28th for reservations from June 4th to July 31st. The next release starts on July 1st for the month of August and the same system will continue for September and October. 

Don’t Miss:

On the popular 3.5 mile Emerald Lake hike, you’ll wind past Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Tyndall Creek with breathtaking views of the peaks before reaching Emerald Lake at 11,000 feet of elevation.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Reopened with access to the main park road, dunes parking area and dunefield, Medano Pass Primitive Road, Mosca Pass, Montville Nature, Sand Sheet Loop, Wellington Ditch, Dunes Overlook, Sand Ramp, Medano Lake, and Music Pass trails would reopen, along with all picnic areas at Mosca Creek, Sand Pit, and Castle Creek.

Don’t Miss:

To take in the dunes in a different way, try out sandboarding or sand sledding. You have to rent special boards off-site but it offers unique ways to explore the sand dunes.

Mesa Verde National Park

Open with access to the Mesa Top Loop Drive, Far View sites, Cliff Palace driving loop, park hiking trails, restrooms and the Chapin picnic area. The park’s concessions facilities opened, including Morefield Campground, Far View Lodge, Far View Terrace, and Spruce Tree Terrace.

Don’t Miss:

A trip to Mesa Verde National Park wouldn’t be complete without a tour of an Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling. Head out on a ranger-led tour to Balcony House, Cliff Palace, or Long House.

FLORIDA-

Everglades National Park

Open areas include Royal Palm, Research Road, Long Pine Key, West Lake, Guy Bradley Trail, and Coastal Prairie Trail, and Main Park Road. Guided tours resumed though on a reduced capacity basis. 

Don’t Miss:

Take the Road from Homestead to Flamingo — this 38 mile road will pass through all the natural habitats of Everglade National Park. Stop off and enjoy the hiking trails, boardwalks, and observation towers. At Anhinga Trail boardwalk you can watch wading birds and alligators up close.

MAINE-

Acadia National Park

Visitors will have access to the Park Loop Road and most associated restrooms. On June 5 the park will open its Carriage Roads to pedestrians.

Don’t Miss:

Explore the bike on the network of carriage roads — 45 mile of scenic and car-free cycling. There’s a mix of flat family-friendly loops to more challenging climbs and descents that provide a beautiful and unique look to the area.

MINNESOTA-

Voyageurs National Park 

On May 18 it reopened overnight tent camping and houseboat mooring sites and the rest of the park is open.

Don’t Miss:

Voyageurs National Park is northern nature at its finest. Rent a houseboat (they range from very basic to luxurious) and enjoy the 84,000 acres of water and 134,000 acres of boreal forest.

NEVADA-

Great Basin National Park

Entrance road to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, Scenic Drive, Baker Creek road and trailhead, Snake Creek road and trailhead, Strawberry Creek road and trailhead, are all open. Hiking trails at Great Basin are technically open, though many trails are still covered in deep snow at higher elevations.

Don’t Miss:

At the altitude of almost 7,000 feet, lies the Lehman caves. They consist of 1.5 miles of underground passages that were formed during the Ice Age made from pockets of limestone. Take a guided tour through the stalactites, flowstone, and delicate white crystals.

SOUTH DAKOTA-

Badlands National Park

Park roads, overlooks, campgrounds, and trails open but the visitor center and entrance stations are closed.

Don’t Miss:

To explore the Badlands by car, take off on the Badlands Loop Road. The 31-mile scenic road goes right through the middle of the park with plenty of viewpoints. If you want to add a hike to your trip, check out Notch Trail. The 1.5-mile path starts with a brief stroll through the canyon before it leads to a ladder up against a steep wall so it’s not for the faint of heart.

TENNESSEE-

Great Smoky National Park

Clingmans Dome Road is open. Access has returned to Cades Cove Loop Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Clingmans Dome Road, Deep Creek Road, Foothills Parkway, Gatlinburg Bypass, Greenbrier Road to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead, Lakeview Drive, Laurel Creek Road, Newfound Gap Road, Tom Branch Road, Tow String Road, and Wear Cove Road.

Don’t Miss:

Cades Cove is a fertile valley set amongst mountains that was home to the early Southern Appalachian settlers. You’ll see 18th and 19th century cabins, churches, and a working grist mill. This road circles the valley but you can also park and head off on a hike from here. Abrams Falls 5-mile round trip hike to a small but mighty waterfall.

UTAH-

Capitol Reef National Park 

Returned to full operations this week with most recreational opportunities available.

Don’t Miss:

Check out Sunset Point for dramatic views of Capitol Reef’s rock formations when the sun goes down. It’s a short .3 mile trail that leads right to the overlook from Sunset Point Trail.

Arches National Park

All park roads, trails, and restrooms open while campgrounds remain closed.

Don’t Miss:

To check out North America’s longest arch head to Landscape Arch. The 306 foot arch is at the end of an easy and flat 50-minute hike from Devils Garden trailhead making it accessible for the whole family.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The main park road and all viewpoints to Rainbow Point, restrooms at Sunset Point, Farview and Rainbow Points are open, and trails within the Bryce Amphitheater area.  The Mossy Cave area is open, though construction may close some areas temporarily.

Don’t Miss:

For a different perspective of Bryce Canyon, head to Inspiration Point which is home to three levels of viewpoints. Visitors can look towards Silent City with rows and rows of hoodoos. Inspiration Point is a great way to take in one of the greatest views of the United States and is accessible enough for even those with mobility issues.

Zion National Park

Zion Canyon has reopened though there would be no shuttles. The Angels Landing chain section is closed and The Kolob Canyons area of the park also remains closed.

Don’t Miss:

Zion National Park is one of those parks that offers stunning views just driving Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. For those looking for an adventure, take off on one of the best hikes in the park. Although the chain section of Angels Landing is closed, this 5-mile hike offers sweeping views of Zion Canyon.

VIRGINIA-

Shenandoah National Park

Reopened but only for day use. The entire Skyline Drive and all backcountry trails will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting June 30. However, the park lodges, visitor centers, picnic grounds, campgrounds, cabins, and historic structures will all remain closed for the time being. 

Don’t Miss:

To check out Shenandoah National Park by car, head to Skyline Drive. This 105-mile road runs the entire length of Shenandoah in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It offers scenic drives and plenty of overlooks to stop at.

WYOMING-

Grand Teton National Park

Reopened with access to primary roads, some public restrooms, day-use hiking, fishing, multi-use pathway system and several viewpoints. 

Don’t Miss:

Head to Jenny Lake during your time at Grand Teton. You can fish, swim, boat, or paddle around the waters or embark on a hike. There is a 7.5-mile hike around the trailhead or a shorter 1.5-mile hike to Hidden Falls.

Yellowstone National Park

All entrances are open. The entire Grand Loop Road is accessible besides the segment between Canyon and Tower which is under construction. Visitors can access most services and facilities. 

Don’t Miss:

A trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without visiting this ancient geyser. For the best viewing, head to Upper Geyser Basin in the early morning before the day’s visitors arrive. You’ll also want to check out Grand Prismatic Spring. To take in some of the attractions via car head to Scenic Loop Road. If you drive the lower loop you can take in Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Hopefully this gave you plenty of inspiration to book that last minute trip to a National Park!

Have options, WILL TRAVEL.

Travel

We Got Cash Refunds For All Our Flights…Here’s How

First of all, let’s just all agree this sucks.

Having to cancel summer trips, reschedule adventures we’ve been dreaming about for months, maybe years….it totally sucking the wind out of our travel-loving sails.

BUT praise the Lord, we were able to get full cash refunds for ALL our flights….so we’re sharing here how we made it happen.

One day we WILL get back to Europe…but until then
we can dream about magical day trips from Rome

The Coronavirus has disrupted many things this spring, turning the travel industry completely on its head. The pandemic caused a historic shutdown of air travel in mid-March which just still feels unreal.

While US carriers cut down their flight routes up to 90% (wow, just insane), travelers are having to deal with canceled and delayed flights with endless changing schedules.

Some are fighting for refunds saying they have only been offered vouchers and fight credit, others are still waiting on refunds promised weeks ago. From long wait times (I STILL haven’t gotten through with Delta) to glitchy websites, there are plenty of obstacles to tackle when it comes to getting your money back.

So how do you navigate managing getting your money back during these unprecedented times? We outline a few tips on how to get your refund back in your pockets — and what exactly you are entitled to. 

Wait Until the Last Minute

For any planners out there, it may seem counterintuitive to wait until the last minute to handle these changes but trust us here. It is one of the easiest things to try when it comes to getting your money back — don’t voluntarily cancel the flight on your own.

By waiting until the airline cancel themselves (our Norway flight wasn’t cancelled until 7 days prior to departure!), it requires them to give your money back instead of a travel voucher. Don’t make any changes or accept a travel voucher until the very LAST possible minute, because when you make a voluntary change, they have no obligation to refund you. I know all you Type-A’s are cringing, but this is definitely the way to go on this one.

You Are Entitled to a Refund 

Point blank — if your flight is canceled or significantly changed (with American they told me the flights had to be changed a total of 61+ minutes or more) you are legally entitled to a refund.

Under the rules of the Department of Transportation, if your flight is canceled (no matter the reason) you are entitled to a full refund back to your original payment website. The DOT released a reinforcement on this issue on April 3 that this policy still applies during the pandemic. The DOT’s enforcement says that passengers should receive their refund within 7 business days if paid via credit card or within 20 days for cash and check.

Airline policies will differ from what they consider a significant schedule change. American Airlines just changed that time refund from 61 minutes to 4 hours given the mass changes happening from the pandemic, but this only applies to new ticket purchases. Delta allows refunds for trips that have been delayed by over 90 minutes and United requires a change of at least six hours.

With one of our Norway flights, it got changed from a direct flight to two connecting flights….and that also qualified us for a full refund (still just completely torn up we weren’t escapading through Europe this summer…have you seen our epic one month trip to Italy, babes in tow and all??)

If all else fails… try again

If the first representative you talk to says no, hang and try again…I had to call Scandinavian Airlines upwards of 5 times to finally get our $1200 refund (incredibly annoying YES…worth every penny, YES). With all of these rules in limbo, you might luck out and get an agent that is willing to assist you this time. You can also ask to speak to supervisors who probably have more authority to make it happen.

If you are still fighting an airline for a refund on a canceled flight, visit the Department of Transportation’s website to directly file a claim with them.

In contrast, some airlines are automatically issuing travel voucher credits when a flight is cancelled. Normally I’d be on board, but with travel being such a big question mark right now (someday we WILL get back to Europe), I don’t know about you, but I want my money back. This is exactly what Spirit tried to pull on us for our NY flight this summer, but thankfully I called, I pushed, I filed a claim for a refund online, and eventually got our flight fully reimbursed (PTL!).

How We Spent 1 Month in Italy for 1K HERE!

Have you had luck with your airline refunds? Will you be taking advantage of flight deals and rebooking in hopes to travel again? If you are still dreaming of some sort of adventure for this summer, but not sure what it might look like…take a look at our post HERE!

Travel

My Travel Plans Were Cancelled…Now What?

YUCK right?? Let’s all have a moment of silence for all the adventures planned that never were this summer.

(We personally had to cancel an epic family trip planned for Norway this May…and honestly I just try not to think about it too much because it’s too heartbreaking)

Traveling for Americans will look vastly different this summer. While most people had to cancel their spring trips (take a look at how we got full cash refunds for each and every flight HERE), their summer vacations are still looming in uncertainty. Spring was spent with plenty of time inside doing puzzles, wearing sweatpants, and taking up plenty of new hobbies. So now that warm weather is rolling around, we are sitting here wondering how can we scratch that adventure itch…anyone else?!

While the U.S. Department of State is still advising Americans to avoid all international travel, domestic travel (more specifically outdoor oriented travel) seems to be the answer for travel for now…because we need something, right?!

So how will this summer look? We’re digging into positivity and rounded up a couple of ways to make the most out of this unexpected season — while still being safe!

Rise of the Road Trip

Road trips…surprise, surprise… predicting this summer will be heightened unlike anything before. People are opting for car travel over plane travel as a direct response to the pandemic (this is definitely what we are thinking!)

Experts are also seeing a rise of RV travel (anyone else have a never before urge to purchase a camper and get on the road?!)— they offer a sense of freedom and safety which is the perfect sentiment during these unprecedented times. Minimizing risk because you are confining your travel and lodging into the same self-contained environment, while still itching that travel bug is the name of the game.

This site seems to be the best resource for renting RV’s for those cross country adventures.

And for good measure, here are some suggestions from the CDC to ensure your travel is as safe as possible.

  1. Anticipate your needs before you go so you can minimize stops.
  2. Prepare food, water, and snacks for the road.
  3. Pack a sufficient amount of alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitizer.
  4. Bring disinfect and other cleaning supplies.

So why not take advantage of this situation to plan a summer road trip? While international travel may not resume for a while, we can still see across the United States and our own backyards. Take this as an opportunity to visit those close-to-you destinations that you may have ruled out before. Visit an old favorite in your home state or introduce your family to a trip you often went on as a kid.

Get Outdoors

We think travelers will also be leaning towards summer vacations that explore the great outdoors. Travelers will head outside to state and national parks because they feel the safest and will most likely be open to the public.

National Parks are expecting to experience the largest visitation growth periods in history (YES!) as everyone is clamoring to be outside again. With this new influx of visitors, the NPS will be implementing new safety measures. We planned a last minute getaway to the Smoky Mountain National Park because we were dessssppperraateee for a change of scenery – but check out our full list of National Parks open now and what to do once you get there HERE.

Return to full operations will continue to be phased and some services may be limited. If you choose to travel (or are lucky enough to live by) a national park, there are a few simple safety guidelines across the board to take into consideration when visiting.

  • Comply with state and local guidance, just because the park is open doesn’t mean you should go.
  • Continue to follow the social distancing rule of 6 feet.
  • During COVID-19, resources you may be used to might not be available so remember to always pack items like water, park maps, and food.
  • Avoid crowded areas — trails will have limitations making them more crowded than usual so avoid peak times and popular areas.
  • Don’t approach wildlife. While this is always the case, with much of the population indoors this spring, areas have seen an increase in wildlife activity.

AND If you can’t get to a national park soon, remember you can always visit virtually! SO cool!

Here is a list of National Parks that are partially open or have dates to reopen soon.

US National Parks That Are Open Now

  • Denali National Park, Alaska (backpacking areas open, but climbing season suspended)
  • Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (entrance/trail use by permit only)
  • Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (some areas open)
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona (day use only)
  • Joshua Tree National Park, California (roads and limited trails open)
  • Redwood National Park, California (day use only)
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado (day use only)
  • Biscayne National Park, Florida (trails, boat launches, and restrooms open)
  • Everglades National Park, Florida (day-use area and some beach campsites)
  • Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky (trail use only)
  • Great Basin National Park, Nevada (trails and visitor centers open)
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (day use only)
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio (trails open, clockwise travel only)
  • Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota (limited trail open)
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (day use only)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (limited trails open, day use only)
  • Zion National Park, Utah (day use only)
  • Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands (trails and beaches open)
  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (backcountry areas open)
  • Olympic National Park, Washington (day use only)
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (roads, hiking trails, and fishing areas)
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (south entrance, some roads, trails, and restrooms open)

National Parks Scheduled to Open

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (currently closed, reopening limited areas May 22-25)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (plans for reopening scheduled for May 27)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, Colorado (opening June 4)
  • Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (trails and backcountry camping opening May 19)
  • Arches National Park, Utah (opening May 29, backcountry access opening May 30)
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah (opening May 29)
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas (opening June 1)
  • Parks Canada National Parks (multiple parks opening June 1)
  • Canada National Parks Campgrounds (scheduled to open after June 21)
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (opening June 3)
  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan (opening after June 14)
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (mid-June)
  • Katmai National Park, Alaska (camping suspended until July 1)

State and local parks also offer hiking, biking, and camping in order to get outside. Public lands managed by the National Forest Service offer miles and miles of wide-open spaces to enjoy that will likely be less busy than national parks.

When not planning our last-minute National Park trip, we have been LIVING at our local nature preserve! It’s like a little mini-vacation, and bonus it’s only 15 minutes from our house.

Take advantage of local favorites to plan a weekend with all the outdoor activities that leave you feeling filled to the brim — a campfire, s’ mores, and a beautiful hike. Pack a picnic and take it to your local state park to enjoy.

Travel WILL happen this summer… though “normal” travel will not return for quite some time (queue all the crying emojis). While you may not be able to head off to your trip overseas (remember that one time we lived in Italy for a month??), it’s still possible to make the most of this summer.

After all, after months of quarantine, any trip will feel like a dream vacation.