exploring outside disney and discovering orlando

Explore Outside Disney and Discover Orlando

Most people who visit Orlando make a beeline for Walt Disney World. While it’s a great place to spend a vacation, it won’t give you much insight into the city of Orlando itself. You’ll find that spending some time outside the kingdom of Mickey ears and beloved cartoon characters can be just as magical. It may even offer you exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation.

Since there are lots of choices for great IHG hotels near downtown Orlando, finding accommodations throughout the city won’t be a hard task. What will be difficult is narrowing down exactly what to do in a city filled with sights, sounds, food, and excitement. Here are some suggestions to help you see the real Orlando outside of Disney World.

Experience the City

orlando florida parkImage via Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik

There is so much to do in Orlando with something for almost anyone. A ride on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye will give you incredible views of the city with a bird’s-eye view of beautiful landscapes and landmarks.

Since any visit to Florida introduces thoughts of alligators, it would only make sense to check out Gatorland. Not only will you get to see the creatures up close, but you can also ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line over the marshes and habitats where they live!

You may not head to the Magic Kingdom, but you can cap off your trip with the Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour. Here, you can surround yourself with sweet goodness as you learn about the process of making chocolate.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Orlando is home to many natural landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities. Even in the heart of the city, you’ll find beautiful sights like Lake Eola Park. It’s a beautiful place to take a walk, watch swans swim by, or jump on a paddleboat and have some fun. You may want to try to get there on a Sunday, when the Orlando Farmers Market sells local produce, baked goods, and artwork.

If you’re looking for something more private, you can head to Harry P. Leu Gardens. Here, you can spend time walking along the winding paths of the 50 acres of gardens surrounded by flowers and plants from around the world.

A trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without exploring the outdoors. If you want to get a good look at all the natural beauty of the area, a hot air balloon ride would definitely give you a unique outdoor experience.

Embrace the Food Culture

Orlando has been building its reputation as a culinary destination. With so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s easy to see why. One of the more memorable restaurants is the Red Mug Diner. Great for any meal and open 24 hours a day, this spot offers some tasty classic Southern comfort foods, like fried chicken and waffles, along with regular diner fare.

Food and art often have blurred lines, and dining at Café Tu Tu Tango offers the experience of both. You’ll find some delicious small plates to share as local artists paint and display their works while you dine.

Another restaurant that’s worth fitting into your schedule is Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. The Florida location is great for a late-night meal before you lose yourself in Orlando nightlife.

 

Planning a trip to Orlando allows you to explore a city full of wonderful attractions, natural beauty, and incredible food. You don’t need to venture to Walt Disney World to capture excitement and adventure, but you’ll probably want to book another trip to the city since you’ll find that one trip to Orlando only scratches the surface.

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Best Honeymoon Destinations in Australia to surf

Best Honeymoon Destinations for Surfers in Australia

By Marie Nieves

Planning a honeymoon can be stressful as it is, let alone when you’re looking for a place that’ll satisfy your thirst for adventure. So, what actually happens when two surf-lovers fall in love and get married? Well, they start planning a perfect honeymoon getaway in a place that might help them consolidate both their romantic and adventurous desires. Look no further from Australia, as this is the place where all your dreams come true. Being renowned as the destination with the most amazing natural splendour, romantic waterfront resorts and the best surf beaches in the world, Australia is the number one holiday retreat for anyone looking for an active honeymoon.

Where To Go For A Surf-Lover’s Honeymoon in Australia

So, without further ado, here are some of the best honeymoon destinations for surfers in Australia.

Alley to Noosa Main Beach AustraliaPhoto via Flickr by yarra64 

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Home to magnificent beach resorts and some of the best surf spots in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast makes for the perfect surfer’s getaway. One of the most common surfing locations is the Noosa Main Beach, where the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing is held. Other popular surfing locations include Mooloolaba, Dicky Beach and the Buddina Beach. The Sunshine Coast also has more national parks than any other region in Queensland, making it a true nature-infused vacation for anybody up for the task.

Byron Bay, New South Wales

The beachside town of Byron Bay is a popular tourist destination mostly because of its amazing scenery, impeccable wildlife and beautiful beaches. Tallow Beach is one of the most favourable surfing spots, while you surely won’t make a mistake by visiting Suffolk Park or Clarkes Beach. The ocean way leading to the Byron Bay lighthouse is a great setting for a midnight walk, but the Cape Byron Marine Park is the best way to experience the open ocean and the tidal waters of the Brunswick River and its tributaries.

Whitehaven Beach AustraliaImage via Flickr by Chilli Mimi

Whitsunday, North Queensland

A collection of continental islands off the central coast of Queensland is an appealing location to many couples looking to indulge in the breathtaking sights of the Great Barrier Reef, enjoy seaway and short walks on the Ngaro Sea Trail or simply lay back and relax on the white sands of the Whitehaven Beach. Airlie Beach is the best option not only for beach surfing, but for windsurfing, kiteboarding and sailing.

Margaret River, Western Australia

Margaret River is the name of a small town south of Perth, mostly known for its craft breweries, wineries and several hundred caves. The humid Mediterranean climate and a charming rural appeal, it makes for a popular couple’s destination. What’s interesting is that the west coast of this alluring little town is a renowned surfing location and has acquired worldwide fame for its surf breaks.

Granite Island AustraliaImage via Flickr by Jocey K

Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia

Located south of Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula has some amazing surfing spots, some of the most prominent ones being Waitpinga and Middleton. The peninsula is also known for its Fleurieu wine zone with beautiful vineyards, which is a great way to add a touch of Tuscany to your Australian honeymoon. There’s a variety of charming beachside cottages, secluded beaches and captivating restaurants that’ll definitely make your honeymoon something to remember.

Sydney, New South Wales

When talking about the best surfing destinations, local cuisine, mesmerizing beaches, romantic waterfront spa resorts and beautiful scenery, we shouldn’t fail to mention Sydney. One of the largest and definitely one of the most famous cities in Australia offers a wide array of activities, suitable for anyone’s taste, which is why this is one of the best places for planning an active honeymoon. Sydney is very well known for its rich cultural content, as well as entertainment with the Sydney Opera House, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as well as the Royal Botanical Garden being located here.

The North Shore and northern beaches of Sydney are especially appealing, but nothing more than the eastern suburbs where some of the most affluent resorts are found. Manly Beach is one of the most popular holiday destinations, but if you want something more secluded the Maroubra Beach in Randwick is the best pick for you. This suburb has an enchanting aesthetic appeal known for its rich history and fine, heritage buildings. Booking a Randwick boutique hotel is a great choice, as its charismatic surroundings makes a perfect setting for an active honeymoon, with a variety of surf beaches in close proximity.

 

Australia is, without a doubt, an undisputed champion when it comes to romantic holidays, permeated with lots of action and adventure. If you’re feeling adventurous and are looking for a heavenly destination that’ll satisfy all your needs, then you can rest assured, knowing that they’re all listed right here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mmary nieves profile picarie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels she likes to read poetry and prose and to surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest or HighStyLife where she is a regular author.


 

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planning a romantic vacation in london

Planning A Romantic Vacation In London

As a major holiday destination and a travel hub, London is the perfect place for a romantic vacation. With a variety of things to do and see, it’s a city that can speak to any couple looking to get away. Though just being with the one you love sounds romantic in itself, finding a way to make romance a reality can be a challenge as you plan a trip, especially when you travel someplace new. To get you on the right track, we’ve put together some tips to help you plan a romantic vacation in London.

Eliminate the Stress to Focus on Each Other

While you’ll find that public transportation in London is an excellent way to get around the city, you’ll also discover that with a city so large, it’s easy to get lost. This can lead to stress. If there’s one thing that can kill the mood of a vacation, it’s stress. To reduce this possibility, there are several ways to make sure you are able to navigate London easily.

First, you’ll need to make it to the city from the airport. By using GoEuro’s London Airport Infographic, you’ll be able to find the fastest and cheapest way to get from the airport to the city center. Once there, downloading apps such as City Mapper or Google Maps will help lead you through the city itself, from stop to stop. You can plot your destinations beforehand or use the apps as you go. With these in your travel arsenal, you’re likely to focus more on each other and where you’re going rather than thinking about how to get there.

Set the Mood With the Right Accommodations

After a day exploring the city with romance in mind, you’ll probably want to return to a hotel that helps enhance the mood. There are lots of romantic hotels in London, and where you choose to stay depends on what you’re looking for during your time together.

You can choose to stay at a quaint bed and breakfast, a luxury hotel that takes care of all your needs, or a short-term apartment rental that offers ultimate privacy. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure that at the end of the day, you return to someplace that’s the definition of romance for both of you.

Pair Off With London’s Top Attractions

london eyeImage via Flickr by pedrantos

Many of London’s top attractions offer a romantic experience. Try a turn on the London Eye at night as the city lights illuminate and create a stunning view. Take a stroll through Greenwich Park and gaze together over Central London and the Thames. Picnic on Hampstead Heath, an ancient park with some of the best views of the city. You can also spend some quality time together in Queen Mary’s Gardens in The Regent’s Park, where you’ll be surrounded by tens of thousands of fragrant roses.

Find Romance Away From the Crowds

The Ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East may not be unknown, but this isn’t one of the first places that comes to mind when visiting London. Hidden on a side street, it’s a parish church left in ruin after being bombed in the Blitzkrieg during World War II. With its overgrown vines and trees, the area is a romantic secret garden waiting for couples to stroll through, hand in hand, as they simply enjoy being with each other.

Step Back in Time With Romantic History

While many present-day attractions keep the romance flowing, London is also teeming with historical love stories and remnants of a romantic past. Stop at The Royal Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens to see an ornate monument constructed out of true love by Queen Victoria as she mourned her husband’s passing.

There’s also the Hampton Court Palace. Though the story ends in tragedy, the beginning of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s relationship was filled with sacrifices for love. You’ll find some of that at the gatehouse named Anne Boleyn’s Gate.

 

All it takes to have a romantic vacation in London is some prior planning and an eye for the romantic sights of the city. By keeping our tips and ideas in mind, you’re sure to enjoy a special vacation with the one you love in a city that offers romance around almost every corner.

 

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arlington adventure

Finding Adventure While Exploring Arlington, Texas

Arlington might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of visiting Texas, but with its growing popularity, it’s a city that you should know. However long of a visit you’re planning, there are fantastic IHG hotels near Six Flags Over Texas and other Arlington attractions, along with plenty to see and do.

You can explore Arlington through a large variety of experiences, but one of the most exciting ways to get to know the city is through a bit of adventure. If you’re looking for some fun in Arlington, Texas, here are some of the city’s most adventurous attractions.

Adrenaline Rush At Six Flags

six flags over texasImage via Flickr by Clintus McGintus

Arlington is home to both Six Flags Over Texas, the first of the Six Flags theme parks, and Six Flags Hurricane Park, one of a group of water parks. The rides and slides offer adrenaline and exhilaration, while the shows and restaurants boast plenty of entertainment. Combined, the parks have everything you’ll need for a thrilling time and some fun in the city.

Leisurely Day at River Legacy Park

When you visit River Legacy Park, you’ll find a quieter sort of adventure. Here, 1,300 acres of nature offer hiking and biking trails as well as green space for outdoor activities and picnics. It’s a favorite place for locals to enjoy the day, and it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area, whether you want to take it slow or increase your pace.

Urban Adventure With Segway Tours

When you visit Arlington, you’ll notice that it’s a rather large city with its fair share of natural landscapes and green space. One of the best ways to explore it is by signing up for some urban adventure like a Segway tour. You’ll find yourself gliding around to various attractions, seeing the city in a completely new way and at a faster pace.

Sports and Nature on Golf Courses

If there’s one thing that Arlington isn’t lacking, it’s golf courses. You’ll find gorgeous greens across Arlington, and these offer ample space for sports and leisure. With award-winning courses that combine the stunning nature with varying levels of golfing difficulty, you’re sure to find some adventure while you swing away.

Indoor Excitement With Ice Skating

When you visit the Parks Mall at Arlington you’ll find some fun waiting for you right inside. Ice at the Parks is an indoor ice skating rink and just one of the city’s great attractions. You can head over and have some fun before or after you shop or even join in on one of the many year-round events.

Whether you choose adrenaline-pumping excitement on a rollercoaster or some leisure time outdoors at River Legacy Park, Arlington has something for all adventure lovers. From indoors to outdoors, and from city streets to natural landscapes, there are tons of attractions to choose from in the city. All it takes is a bit of an adventurous spirit, and you’ll be sure to have some fun!

fuji x-a3 camera review

How To Capture More Than Images With The Fuji X-A3 Mirrorless Camera


Scroll down to the end of this post to enter the #Fuji4Families Giveaway For Your Chance To WIN A Fuji X-A3 Camera Kit!


We’ve travelled for several years now and are always documenting our experiences. Cameras have become the tools we use to capture moments and memories and photos are a portal to revisiting experiences and destinations explored. Because of our profession, our frequent travels and our love of photography, we are always carrying camera gear wherever we go but between the two of us, our arsenal of equipment has always had a void that needed filling.

So when we were given the chance to use and review the Fuji X-A3, we were incredibly surprised and excited to find it very nicely filled that gap.

fuji X-A3 review

What we especially like about the Fuji X-A3 is it is a compact, mirrorless camera that offers both automatic, point-and-shoot options for anyone as well as manual functions for those who are more knowledgeable or are looking to become more proficient with photography.

The camera has so many incredible features above and beyond the basics that we’d advise those who purchase the camera to make the effort to learn the features that are most relevant to them. It will bring a whole new level to your photography and will help with ease of use when you’re looking to capture those images in the moment.

Why We Love The Fuji X-A3

So what exactly does the X-A3 have that we were missing from our other gear? As a couple who travels together, carrying equipment for the both of us can get heavy and bulky so we’ve always tried to minimize what we bring. That’s left us with one DSLR for the photographer of the two of us and camera phones for the other. While camera phones will do the trick for quick captures and posts to social media, they really don’t have the versatility and professional features that our other camera does. With the Fuji X-A3, we’ve found an incredibly lightweight and compact camera with automatic functions for the lesser photographer of the two of us and the ability to improve on those skills while learning the manual functions available.

view in quebec city of chateau frontenac

The other missing piece that this camera fills is a huge one. For us, when we talk about travelling as a family, we generally are referring to the two of us as a unit and because of that, photos often become of the scenery or of one or the other, rather than the two of us together. We often miss opportunities to snap a photo of us together in amazing places because there is no one there to take the photo or the moment is lost when we do find someone. With the 180-degree tiltable LCD monitor, selfies are taken to the next level and we are able to take them, easily, wherever we are. We’re finally snapping photos of the two of us regularly and we love having quality photos of the two of us together.

Fuji X-A3 Review – Why We’ve Added It To Our Gear

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But there is so much more to the camera that makes it a happy addition for our travels and our everyday life in general and we think these are the same reasons it would make a great addition for anyone of any skill level. Here’s a look at the Fuji X-A3 and some of its many features.

Taking Selfies To A New Level

This is perhaps one of the most unique features we’ve seen and has allowed us to capture moments together more easily and frequently.

The LCD screen can be flipped and tilted 180-degrees so you can see the complete screen, and what you are capturing, when taking a selfie. This is a huge help and even inspired us to take a selfie-tour of Quebec City when we travelled there with the camera.

one modern couple selfie quebec city

The camera also has some functions that make it even easier to take amazing selfies. Choosing Portrait Enhancer on the dial, the camera will make adjustments to enhance skin tones automatically. You can also use the touchscreen to choose the level (levels 1-3) of enhancement to decide how much of an adjustment the camera should make.

Though the camera is designed to have a comfortable and good grip while taking selfies, if you’d prefer not to have to press the shutter button, you can change to a Self Timer function which allows you to choose when the photo is taken – when it detects a smile, when two people move close together in the frame, or when a group of a certain number of people move into the frame.

These features assist in creating selfies that look more like portraits and quality photos than haphazardly taken shots.

Incredible Macro Photos

We love getting different perspectives on what we see and that sometimes means getting up close to the object we are photographing.

Though using manual mode means more experience and knowledge, the Fuji X-A3 also offers an Auto Macro function that will automatically switch the camera to macro and focus quickly on the subject up to 7cm away!

sushi macro fuji x-a3

Because focus is usually slower when getting up close and taking macro shots, having faster autofocus, like this camera does, helps for those close-up shots and we definitely notice the difference when we’re working on our food photography!

Point-And-Shoot Flexibility

As we had mentioned, this is a compact point-and-shoot camera that is packed with possibilities. If you’re looking to keep the settings on auto, you’ll find you’ve got a range of options to help you take photos in a variety of settings and situations without having to learn the intricacies of aperture and shutter speeds (though you can apply these in any of the manual modes as well!)

icicles quebec city

By simply turning the dial, you can choose between several modes that will automatically adjust the camera settings and enable you to take the best photo for what you are trying to capture. For example, there is portrait mode that will automatically enhance faces, landscape mode that will help take scenic shots clearly, sport mode which will help you snap shots of moving objects and night mode for low light settings.

quebec city terrasse view

Not sure what you should be using or what you may be shooting? The Advanced SR Auto function on the dial means that the camera will make the decision for you. The camera will recognize the scene type and select the appropriate camera settings for you. This means it will switch between scenes as you frame each new photo.

The intelligent flash will also help provide the correct amount of flash for the setting and subject and, should you decide to up your game, there is the ability to attach an external flash if desired.

Easy Touchscreen Options

While you can use the touchscreen to adjust features and even turn on a touch shoot or touch zoom, our favourite use of this screen is the touch autofocus.

fuji x-a3 review touchscreen

We love being able to look at the image we are trying to capture and to choose where we want to focus. It allows us to manipulate the depth of the photo, capture parts of the scene we may want to highlight and ensure that the scene is focused as we want it to be.

Ease Of Use – Even On Manual

We both love photography and for us, learning the manual features and using them to the best of our ability is something we enjoy. For the part of our duo that is less camera-savvy when it comes to adjusting those features, the X-A3 has become the ultimate learning tool.

petit champlain quebec city

It is incredibly easy to use, even on manual as the dials to adjust aperture, shutter speed and the button to adjust ISO are easy to access and easy to remember. There are few actions required to move to manual modes and make those adjustments and it makes the process of capturing photos (and learning how) that much more seamless and enjoyable.

For the half that already knows what they are doing, it’s been a great experience to work with the additional features and advanced functions that the camera offers.

Numerous Advanced Functions

The advanced functions are fantastic. It’s where we go to play and grow our artistic side when it comes to photography. There are a bunch of advanced filters you can use to create some different and fantastic photos like soft focus which reduces definition in the photo and creates a soft look in the image.

advanced features fuji x-A3

Our favourite is the partial colour filter. You can choose between red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple and the camera will pick up only that colour chosen, leaving the rest of the photo black and white. It creates a stunning image and really makes some creative shots.

Other filters include miniature – which blurs the top and bottom of a photo,  toy camera – which adds vignette, or shaded borders, to the photo to make it look as though it was taken by a toy camera, and pop colour – which makes the image high in contrast and saturation.

Fantastic Image Quality

No matter what function you use, whether you add filters or whether you’ve decided to use it on manual or automatic, the camera does one essential thing: It creates high quality images. The photos are crisp and clear and take vibrant, detailed images.

ice hotel

 

When we first played back our images on the LCD screen, it wasn’t completely obvious how great the image quality was but once we got those photos on our computer, we were impressed with the quality of the photos the camera had taken.

The photos are fantastic without any editing and we’ve been able to post straight to social media without any adjustments at all!

Immediate Access With Wifi

When we say we have been able to post straight to social media, we mean pretty much right away. With WiFi capability, the photos can be transferred to your phone or tablet on the spot. You can also transfer photos straight to your PC!

Most of the time we’re on the go and want to post our photos as we take them. So, we just open the FUJIFILM Camera Remote app, connect the camera to WiFi and then select the photos we wanted to send to our phone. We even connect our phone to geotag our photos when we want to remember an exact location that a photo was taken.

FUJIFILM REMOTE APP

The great thing about the app and the WiFi capabilities is when you want to get some more creative photos. Since you can also use the app to control the camera itself, you can use the camera hands free while set up on a tripod and take some amazing nighttime shots (you don’t want a shaky hand), some timelapses (to stay still as well), some long-exposure images that really pop and standout, or from far away should you want to take photos of animals.

The other thing we found handy was that we are able to directly connect our camera to our Instax SP-2 Printer. Taking a selfie and want to send it to social? Not a problem. Want to also print it out to keep or give to someone? That’s not a problem either!

A Permanent Fixture With Our Photo Gear

All these features, and more, have made the Fuji X-A3 a permanent addition to our photo gear. We’re able to do so much with such a compact camera and that’s only with the kit lense! We can only imagine how much more we’ll be able to do once we add some more lenses for it.

fuji x-a3 camera review

Though we always prefer shooting with a viewfinder, and this one does not have one, it really is a versatile camera for all experience levels and has been an incredible asset for taking photos together.  With all it’s features, it’s important to take some time to figure it all out because the options are almost endless for enhancing the photos you want to take.

WIN A Fuji X-A3 Camera!

fuji x-a3 giveaway

Enter below for your chance to win a Fuji X-A3 Camera Kit. Giveaway ends February 15th!

Open to Canadian residents, excluding Quebec – please see Terms & Conditions for more details!

 

Come Talk #Fuji4Families For Another Chance To Win!

Fuji X-A3 Twitter Party

Don’t forget to RSVP for the Fuji4Families Twitter Party on February 8th!

Hosted by: @FujiGuys 
Co-Host: @SJConsulting_CA

Prizing: Total Prize Value of $2400!

Grand Prize: X-A3 Camera/kit (valued at $750 CAD)
2nd Prize –X-A10 camera/kit (valued at $600 CAD)
2 Prize Winners of –2 SP-2 printers + film (valued at $250 CAD each)
5 Prize Winners of – mini 8 instax cameras + film (valued at $110 CAD each)

See the Official Twitter Party Rules & Regulations for more info!


Disclosure: I am participating in the FujiFilm campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

5 Reasons to Travel As A Couple

5 Reasons Why You Should Travel As A Couple

There are so many reasons to travel as a couple and we keep finding new ones as we go. After spending pretty much 24/7 together for roughly two and a half years, most of it while travelling together, we’ve learned quite a bit about each other and about travel and relationships.

The major thing we’ve learned is that travel offers to couples a whole list of things that can’t be found elsewhere. It provides a variety of opportunities to learn about each other, grow, develop skills and make relationship decisions.

Travel doesn’t always have to be about the destination. Sure, you may have always wanted to go to a particular place, but even if one of you has no desire to see new places, travel itself can be an important tool for a relationship and worth it in the end.

We’ve Created A Video on “5 Things Travel Does For Couples”

Watch the video if you don’t feel like reading.

How Travel Helps Relationships

Though the list could be a lot longer, we’ve put together 5 major reasons to travel as a couple. These are things that travel does for couples and their relationship, that many other things can’t offer all at the same time.

travel as a couple in nevada

1. Creates Bonding Moments

Travelling as a couple offers opportunities to make so many memories together. These become bonding moments, not only as those memories are being created, but also as you look back on them and remember. Each time that memory arises, each time you retell the story, or each time something comes up to trigger that memory, you are both thrust back to that moment and that time together.

These experiences and memories are things that only the two of you share and that in itself makes it a bonding moment, time and time again as you reflect back on it.

Over the years, whether we’ve travelled or not, we’ve created memories that are shared just between the two of us. It’s during travel however, that we’ve found ourselves bonding the most. While travelling you’re together 24/7 for the most part, sharing every waking moment and every experience together. There’s boundless opportunities to make significant, humourous, interesting and, sometimes, private memories.

These are pieces of your relationship that come together to form a timeline of events and experiences that shape your relationship. They are pieces in time that no one else can understand.

For example, no one really understands our 150cc scooter ride from Chiang Mai to Pai, around 762 turns, up and down mountains with our backpacks on. The excitement, the adventure, the worry when the scooter just wouldn’t seem to make it up one particularly steep hill… all of it, every breathtaking landscape we saw, every stop we made where we communicated with locals in broken english and hand-gestures, is ours. Plain and simple. It was created by us, for us, and when we bring the story up, when we look at each other as we retell the experience, we know that there’s something intangible about that scooter ride that only we share.

lovelock in Germany

2. Teaches You About Each Other

When you are with someone 24/7, as you are while travelling, you become quite exposed. There’s really very little you can hide from the other person.

Think of all the moments, both private and public, you have in a day. Now think of having someone else beside you for virtually all of them. And if they aren’t beside you, they know where you are or what you’re doing. That’s what travel does with a couple – it exposes them to every aspect of the other person’s day and life and it has you learning fast about the nitty-gritty of the person you’re in a relationship with.

There will be a great many things you learn that will bring you closer and have you knowing the other person on a deeper level. There will also be a great many things you learn that you may not have thought you needed to know… especially around personal habits and bodily functions. But in the end, you’ll be learning about each other, and that’s an important thing. Travel is a just a tool to speed up that process and help you delve into every aspect of each other and the relationship.

There will also be things that you never would have thought of that may, or may not, cause some tension and require thought and conversation to work out together. Things about each other that may test the relationship.

We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time together and though we still manage to learn a few thing here and there, we’re pretty confident in our knowledge of each other. There’s really nothing we don’t know, don’t speak about or don’t share because when you’re on the road, you often don’t have a choice!

3. Teaches You Survival Skills

Learning so much about each other is also a part of surviving as a couple and travel helps you discover how best to do that.

Together, you’ll face the best and worst of times while you navigate new destinations and situations. How you work through the good times and the bad, is part of learning to survive as a couple. It’s not easy to spend 24/7 with someone, faced with the brutal honesties of who you and the other person are, thrown into different situations you both need to work through together but in doing so you’ll find how the two of you can best cope and manage.

You’ll discover whether you can live with what you’ve learned about each other and you’ll find out whether or not you can work together, and how you both do so best.

You’ll also discover whether the relationship is even something you want to survive, whether you even want to work together. This may be a hard pill to swallow but travel can thrust your relationship into the light and have you seeing exactly what it is and what you want… even if that may be no relationship at all.

relationships and travel

4. Strengthens Relationships Through Common Goals

Sharing common goals is one of the important hallmarks of a strong relationship. Having something you work towards together, and going through the steps to get there, is a powerful connecting force.

You’ll be motivating and supporting each other through the process, feeling good about achieving those goals and hitting milestones along the way, and finding a sense of purpose as individuals, and a partnership, that fosters happiness and a closeness with one another.

Travel, and all the steps while travelling, sets up common and mutual goals that you can work towards as a couple. There’s the planning and booking, the actually transit and travel and the execution of the plans that were made. It can sometimes take the both of you, working together, to accomplish the many parts of travel and in doing so, you’re brought closer together.

When unexpected situations arise, you’ll have to work together towards a common goal to sort through the problems or changes at hand.

As a whole, travel becomes a tool not only as a goal itself, but as a creator of smaller ones you can both work to achieve and strengthen the relationship as you do.

5. Develops Relationship Skills

As all of this suggests, relationships take work and developing relationship skills is an ongoing process. While travelling, you’re able to develop and improve on skills you can use in other situations as a couple and for life in general.

For instance, problem solving is a skill that is definitely honed as you travel. You’ll be able to see how you work together to deal with the unexpected and improve on how you do so. You’ll also see how to best work through problems that arise and solving them as you go. How do the two of you fare when the going gets tough? What are each of your strengths and weaknesses in those situations and how can you combine them in a way that works best at solving problems together?

Another major skill is compromise. What happens if you have differences in what you like or don’t like, where you want to go, what you want to do or how you want to do it? Being able to compromise in a relationship is huge and travel is a great way to practice and improve on that skill.

In large part, travel together is also about communication and that’s an important relationship skill that many people need to work on. Not only is it important to be able to express how you feel, it is also important to be able to receive that information from your partner and process it appropriately.

Sure, we get hangry and can find ourselves becoming short with each other, but we also know that, at the end of the day, we are able to explain ourselves effectively, tell each other whatever we need, and discuss any issues we have openly and with a positive reception.

Overall Importance Of Travel As A Couple

Obviously there’s a lot more to each of these points. Relationships take hard work. Travel is merely one way that a couple can grow together and because it is able to help in so many ways – by creating bonding moments, teaching you about each other, showing you survival skills, providing common goals and developing relationship skills – it is an invaluable tool to do so.

Whether you want to stay local or travel far, take a road trip or jump on a plane, simply getting away as a couple, facing the challenges and joys of travel together, will have you growing stronger together, learning more about each other than you thought possible and even making very real decisions on the future of your relationship.

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unique things to do in honolulu

Unique Things to Do in Honolulu You Won’t Want to Miss!

The capital of Hawaii is a mecca for tourists looking to enjoy sun, sand, and outdoor activities. Known for its famous coastal neighbourhood of Waikiki, Honolulu is a popular city on the island of Oahu, with a sprawling cityscape, great food, and stunning beaches. One key to enjoying the perfect blend of attractions and activities in Honolulu is finding the right accommodations. With so many hotels in Honolulu, you’ll want to pick one that gives you great access to the city but also allows opportunities to venture outside of the city.

After you’ve picked where to stay, it’s simply a matter of getting out and exploring. You may think you’re destined to visit Honolulu’s amazing attractions like Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, and Manoa Falls with hordes of other people, but a trip to the city gives you the chance to see and do so much. Here’s a list of five unique things to do in Honolulu if you truly want to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds.

Kukaoo Heiau Ruins: Exploring Ancient History

With its incredibly rich history, Hawaii is no stranger to ruins or artifacts. What makes the relatively unvisited Kukaoo (Kukui) Heiau ruins so unique is that they’re in the middle of an urban area and on the same property the historic Charles Montague Cooke Jr. House. You won’t find the ruins to be large or expansive, but they highlight the historical importance of Manoa Valley and the local people. The Manoa Heritage Center and the Kukaoo Heiau ruins make for a great stop to learn more about ancient life in Honolulu and see some pretty great views.

Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site: More Than Just Surfing

honolulu hawaiiImage via Flickr by katsuhiro7110

Though Hawaii is synonymous with surfing, you can also see a lot below the surface of the water that surrounds the islands. At the Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site, you’ll find a Vought F4 aircraft that sank after it experienced engine failure in 1948. The wreck itself is in perfect dive condition, due to the abundance of eel, octopus and puffer fish. Though the area around the wreckage is fairly flat and unencumbered, the site is for more advanced divers who can manage the currents. You’ll probably want to take some time practicing at other dive sites around the island first.

Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market: A Taste of the Island

Restaurants are always a gateway into local cuisine and culture, but you’ll miss a whole culinary world if you stick to the popular places to eat. The Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmers Market in Honolulu is a unique foodie destination with locally grown produce and flowers, along with meats and baked goods. It offers a taste of local life in Honolulu and a glimpse of the island’s cuisine.

San Souci Beach: Relaxation Away From the Crowds

Waikiki Beach is one of Honolulu’s most famous beaches, but it’s actually comprised of several sections that together create a long stretch of sand. You’re bound to find crowds in the more popular sections, but when you head to the eastern end, you’ll find a much quieter area. San Souci Beach is relatively peaceful and a good distance away from the tourist activity. The relatively calm waters allow for a variety of water sports and activities and make this the perfect spot to enjoy a unique beach experience in Honolulu.

Makiki Valley Loop Trail: Hiking With Scenic Views

There are many hiking trails around the city, but the Makiki Valley Loop Trail promises a unique experience, as it’s more popular among locals than it is with tourists. The loop itself is made up of three trails with varying levels of difficulty. The surrounding nature and views along the way will more than make up for the more tricky parts, though you’ll need solid hiking shoes, as the area is known to be wet more often than not.

 

Visiting Honolulu doesn’t have to mean that you’ll be stuck in the crowds. Whether your focus is on food, culture, nature, history, or a little of everything, you’ll find many things to do away from the top attractions and throngs of tourists. On land or in water, above or below the surface, all you need to find a different experience in Honolulu is to step outside your hotel room and have a sense of adventure!

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Wellness & Renewal Vacation Ideas For Nature Lovers

When you hear the words “wellness” and “renewal,” you might think of relaxing activities like hot tubbing and meditating, you might picture getting away from your usual environment or you might even imagine sweating out your stresses with extreme sports like mountain biking — it all depends on what’s missing from your regular routine.

As you’re planning your next getaway, don’t settle for the closest or the most convenient place to stay. Really consider what you need to do to refresh and rejuvenate.

If, upon reflection, you decide you’re the kind of person who wants beautiful scenery, fresh air, healthy activities, wildlife sightings or even just a little adventure in your vacation, this list is for you.

Ideas For A Wellness Vacation To Get Close To Nature

Relaxation Trips

Mandala Spa And Resort Villas, Boracay Philippines

Relaxing trip ideas are never a bad place to start. But don’t just think of where you could sit on your butt for a few days — you don’t have to travel to do that.

Instead, consider activities that actively encourage relaxation, internal healing, a Zen state of mind and a stronger connection with nature. For instance, resorts like the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, California offer a wide range of pro-renewal activities:

  • Spa treatments
  • Yoga classes
  • Nature hikes
  • Wine tasting
  • Beautiful natural scenery

Or, if you want to feed your creative side, you could always seek out a more artistic type of resort, such as the Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa, which not only allows you to paint, draw and photograph, but also encourages a strong connection with your natural surroundings.

Sweat-Inducing Trips

If your office job has you going stir-crazy, maybe your ideal vacation involves getting your heart rate up a little bit. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options.

Whether you choose to plan out your own activities or go through a fully accommodating resort, the U.S. has plenty of natural attractions for you to use as your playground. The Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, for instance, will jumpstart your active lifestyle with all kinds of options:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Rock climbing
  • Horseback riding
  • Golf

Or heck, if you truly want to go all-out on this next getaway, maybe it’s time to try something a little less mainstream. For instance, you could go on a local or international dance retreat — learn new steps, work up a sweat and have a lot of fun along the way.

Family-Friendly Trips

macrae hiking jiufen taiwanIf you want an activity level somewhere between yoga and mountain biking, maybe you and your loved ones should try a family-friendly retreat.

For instance, it may be worth your while to explore active, outdoor locations and stay at a resort with log cabins you can sleep in like the Hickory Hills Family Camping Resort. This resort, located in Bath, New York, offers activities that are both lively and fun for vacationers of all ages:

  • Laser tag and other sports
  • Playgrounds
  • Heated pools and ponds
  • Paths and hiking trails
  • A park for the dogs

As an added bonus at places like Hickory Hills, the adults can often sneak off and have their own romantic outing while the kids play at the dog park or sports center.

Wildlife Tours

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you may occasionally lose sight of your connection with nature. Visiting the zoo with your niece is one thing, but maybe this next getaway is the perfect time to really reconnect with your world and revel in nature’s beauty.

Depending on how far you’re willing to travel, you could see

  • Redwoods in California
  • Dolphins in Australia
  • Orangutans in Borneo
  • The Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania

And of course you could see so much more. The world has a lot to offer, whether you’re more interested in plants, natural phenomena like the Northern Lights or international wildlife. So, take the time to plan for whatever it is you want to experience most.

Water-Themed Trips

butterfly fish koh tao scuba diving

One of the great things about water activities is that they can be as soothing or as extreme as you want. If you just want to lounge by the beach or pool, have at it. It is a vacation after all. If you want to challenge your body and try out a new sport, why not sign up for something like windsurfing lessons or a paddleboard outing?

If you start Googling water-themed resorts, you’ll find a vast array of options. Here are just a few common treats offered at such locations:

  • Snorkeling and/or SCUBA diving
  • Swimming with aquatic wildlife
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Beach volleyball

Of course, there are many more activities offered at watery destinations, like surfing lessons at the SwellWomen Surf and Yoga Retreat in Hawaii and paddleboard yoga at the Hilton Head Health Retreat in South Carolina.

Whatever you do on your sunny trip, don’t forget to hydrate! Nothing complements that post-workout margarita better than a big old gallon of water.

Make Your Vacation Count

Taking a few days off of work is, in itself, a much-needed treat now and then. But don’t stop there. Take some time to decide what you really want to get out of your next vacation. You deserve more than a little break — you deserve to feel healthy, rejuvenated and connected with the natural world.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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eating your way through southern USA restaurants

How To Eat Your Way Through The South

By Taylor Schear of  SOFLOFOODFINDS

If you’re anything like me, then you revolve your trips around food! With so little time and so many great choices, there is so much pressure to choose the absolute best restaurant. Well, I have got you covered.

Best Restaurants In The South

Below you will find a list of the top restaurants throughout America’s southern states.

Miami, FloridaThe Salty Donut Miami FloridaThe Salty Donut

The Salty Donut is in the Wynwood area of Miami. Wynwood is known not only for the famous street art, but also the food. Salty Donut opened their permanent storefront this past month. Before this, they were primarily doing pop up locations on the weekend. But after great success the demand became so heavy that they established regular hours Tuesday-Sunday. This is for good reason; the donuts are fantastic. They carry the “usual suspects” along with some interesting combinations. My personal favorite is their apple cider bourbon spiked donut hole. What is even better, is the cold brew cider that pairs perfectly with the donuts!

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink miami floridaMichael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is one of the most buzz-worthy restaurants in Miami right now! It is centrally located in the Design District. The restaurants popularity is due to the amazing menu developed by head chef and owner, Michael Schwartz. The food is all based on seasonal fresh ingredients. Pictured above is the figs with burrata. It is very simple, but I think that is what makes it great. Every single ingredient is the star of the show without overpowering one another. Make sure to save room for dessert. All the pastries, ice cream, and chocolates are made fresh from scratch, in house every day.

Athens, GeorgiaLast Resort Grill Athens GeorgiaLast Resort Grill

Last Resort Grill serves contemporary Southwestern style food in a very modern environment. The restaurant started as a music club in the 60’s, but now serves as a great gathering to eat with the community. The restaurant believes in supporting local farmers and companies by primarily using ingredients sourced in Athens. The dish above is the Pilancillo & Black Pepper Crusted Hanger. It is a tender local sourced hanger steak served with salsa verde, chili parmesan dusted corn, and charred tomato butter potatoes.

Big City Bread

If you are looking for a more traditional southern meal, then Big City Bread is the place for you. All the food (including the breads and pastries) are made fresh every day. It is the perfect place to grab a scone and coffee during the morning rush or sit down and enjoy some grits on a Sunday morning. The chef and owner is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales and has worked at restaurants all through the South.

Nashville, TennesseeEdleys BBQ Nashville TennesseeEdley’s BBQ

Edley’s BBQ must be one of my top three favorite restaurants of all time. It is a very casual vibe; everyone orders at the counter and sits down at one of the wooden tables to wait for their food. Don’t let the adequate furnishings fool you! The food is so flavorful and packed with smokiness. Make sure to come hungry, the portions are huge. There are multiple locations throughout Nashville, so you are never too far from an Edley’s!

Biscuit Love

Biscuit Love has my love! Again, this is the type of restaurant where you walk up to order your food and then go sit down. They do this to prevent the wait for food from getting too long since it can get quite packed on the weekends! You can probably tell from the name that they are famous for their biscuits. The restaurant is new (opened in 2015), but originally started as a food truck. The owners are graduates from Johnson & Wales, but have always had a love for brunch. You can immediately tell this when you walk in the restaurant.

Sprinkles Cupcakes Nashville TennesseeSprinkles Cupcakes

So as many of you know, Sprinkles Cupcakes is a national chain. However, it was my first time trying it when I visited Nashville. The coolest part is that they have a cupcake ATM. Yes, you heard me right… A CUPCAKE ATM. In goes your money, out comes any cupcake your heart may desire. The cupcakes are delicious, but so are their cookies. My favorite was the traditional chocolate chip. It was soft with just the right amount of chocolate folded throughout.

 


Taylor Shear ProfileABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey guys… it’s Taylor Schear! Thanks for reading! I always love being able to share my passion for food and adventure with others! If you have enjoyed joining me on my food quest throughout the South, then make sure to continue to follow me! I am @soflofoodfinds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. For more food travel guides then check out soflofoodfinds.com!


 

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ways to make travel less stressful

Top 6 Tips for Stress-Free Travel

Summer may be nothing but a distant memory due to these long winter months, but that’s exactly why we should be looking to get away and travel. Some travel mishaps can be avoided, some you can even plan around, however some are simply just a part of traveling. That said, there are a few important things to keep in mind, before and during your travels, so you want to plan your trip thoroughly. Make sure you pick the right luggage, purchase your essentials, and read these six tips to help ensure a smooth vacation.

Ways To Make Your Vacation Stress-Freetips for stress free travelRoyalty Free Photo

Make Photocopies of Important Documents

What happens when you get to the airport of your destination and you can’t find your passport, you can’t get back home and you can’t go forward? If you have a photocopy of your passport, along with extra photos, officials are more than likely to let you travel; you may need to take a trip to your country’s embassy within the country you’re visiting but other than that you’ll be able to travel. This will save you stress, money, and a ruined trip.

Pre-Plan Your Outfits

Don’t be a last minute packer; make sure you pre-plan your outfits. Otherwise you may end up with mismatched outfits that look horrible in holiday photos! By pre planning, you not only ensure that you look good, but you can make sure that the night before a flight you can relax as you have either already packed or you will know what you need to pack!

What To Pack In Your Carry-On

There are a few very important items that you should always pack in your carry-on. Make sure you pack electronics, such as your phone, laptop and chargers, medications, a toothbrush and a pair of extra underwear. Now, even if your hold luggage gets lost, you’ll have all the essentials with you until the rest of your luggage arrives.

Bring Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are the perfect investment when trying to drown out the loud crying baby, or the snoring guy next to you. Especially when you’re in for the long haul, you want to make sure take you can relax and have a stress free flight. The price tags on these bad boys may be hefty, but trust me they’ll be worth it.

Talk to the Locals

When visiting a foreign country, it’s always a good idea to learn the lingo, even if it is just a small amount. You also want to talk to the locals if you can, ask them to point you in the direction of the best restaurants, sights, cafés and shops. The locals will know all the best places that you’ll never find in your sightseeing guide!

Take Lots of Photos

Photos make the best souvenirs, so make sure you take plenty so you can reminisce on the great time you had on your travels. However, don’t get too caught up in getting the perfect picture that you forget to admire the amazing scenery you’re visiting.

 

Hopefully with these tips your travels will go a lot smoother and you will have a stress free vacation!

 

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