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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!

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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.

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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 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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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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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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8 Clever Ways to Make Travel Memories Last Forever

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Many souvenirs start off as good ideas and end up collecting dust or being given away to someone who may appreciate them more. The point of a keepsake is for it to trigger wonderful memories of your travel adventures for years to come, and perhaps become something to pass down.

Unique Souvenir Ideas For Travel Memories

Make your travel memories last forever with these clever ways of collecting:

1 Collect Found Objects

unique souvenir ideas

Fill a time capsule, antique travel trunk or scrapbook with found objects you collect from every place you visit. The object doesn’t have to be a souvenir in the traditional sense or cost money. The most treasured objects have a mystery surrounding them and several stories to tell. The found objects could be small and random or have something in common, even though they originate from different places:

  • Pick up a stone from the ground from wherever you visit.
  • Collect a leaf or flower from an interesting plant that catches your eye.
  • Save bottle caps from local breweries in different cities, states and countries.
  • Bring home napkins with logos or copies of menus (with permission) from restaurants.
  • Collect quotes in a journal from random people you meet on the street.

When picking up found objects from nature, collect these in a sustainable way. Do not pick up feathers from birds of prey, which are also protected and an illegal action in many places. Don’t overharvest plants. Leave nature intact as you collect your memories.

2 Collect Stamps

Stamp collecting isn’t only a hobby to share with a grandparent, it also makes a wonderful international map and memento record of your wayfaring. Find interesting stamps in museums, philatelic libraries, and in regular postal offices and small shops that sell stamps. Imagine having a story to tell about purchasing the stamp for your collection and then artfully placing it in a keepsake notebook to pass down for generations!

Once retrieved, collectors would glue a stamp into an album, but now archival methods and tools have turned philately pursuits into an artform. Many beginning collectors focus on topicals (topics, such as horses or flowers) or forming a collection of stamps from the lands of their ancestors:

“A lot of travelers, especially stamp collectors, enhance their travel experience and travel memories by creating philatelic passports of their travels,” says John Apfelbaum, President & CEO of Apfelbaum, Inc.

“Using a small notebook, they purchase stamps at foreign post offices where they travel and ask the post office workers to cancel the stamps affixed in their little notebook. That way when they come home they have a memory of their trip along with an interesting local stamp and cancellation.”

3 Keep a Travel Journal

keeping a travel journal

There’s no way you could forget your latest trip, right? The mind works in amazing ways and memories have a way of blending together over the years. You will remember beautiful and strange details, while others will be foggy but still touching. Record those details now in a travel journal:

  • Write down the best moments.
  • Record snippets of overheard conversations.
  • Inscribe those found quotes from strangers.
  • Sketch those details.
  • Make a collage in the pages.

Your travel journal will need to be portable and doesn’t have to necessarily be in physical form. A journal you’re able to hold has a special quality that a digital one won’t, yet a travel blog is easy to take with you wherever you go as it doesn’t need to be packed and transported.

4 Make a Global Spice Rack

While on the road, collect the flavors of the world. What spice or spice mix is an area famous for? While in New Orleans, track down the best southeastern Creole flavor combination, for example.

Add each selection to your spice rack at home, or build a test tube spice rack that makes you feel like you’re cooking in a laboratory. Every time you make a dish, you’ll taste a travel memory.

5 Make Magnets from Travel Photos

SNS Instax SHARE SP-2

There are many ways to make travel photo magnets. You could use a service to produce them, such as Social Print Studio (uses your Instagram photos) or Fox Print. You can also instantly print out your photos with Fuji Instax SP-2 Printer and all you need to do is attach them to a magnet strip with a sticky surface. Turn any magnetic surface into a display board for your travel memorabilia magnets.

6 Build a Library of Area Authors

Build a global library of living authors from around the world. Attend book signings in the area you’re visiting, if any, and obtain a signed copy from the author. Peruse book shops and ask about local authors. Whether it’s science fiction, romance, poetry or a haunted destinations book, your library will be diverse and extra special when it reflects the places you have visited.

You will be able to say something personal about nearly every author, and if nothing else, talk about that time the bookstore owner of this quaint shop in Croatia pointed you toward the best wine you’ve ever tasted.

7 Make a Video

Think of it as a highlight reel of your favorite travel moments. Take a few minutes of video on your trip, and when you get home, condense your media files into a single video. Continue to add onto this video as you travel.

To ensure that it doesn’t get overwhelming, set a time limit for the footage you take and add on to your single video. You don’t have to download any complicated software to edit the video, if you don’t want, because Google Photos will edit for you.

8 Curate a Collection of Modern Art

The beauty of this idea is to target regional artist works from the area of your visit to collect. Ask a student artist sketching if he or she will make something quick for you for a generous tip or cup of coffee. Visit local galleries and support them by purchasing prints or original works.

Artists will often paint popular tourist spots but also create art around places that are personally special. Make your curated collection of art all the more unique by visiting the destinations that are depicted, whenever possible.

 

Make your memories transcend time with a little creativity. Focusing on collecting particular items or building upon how you display those souvenirs at home will ensure you don’t break your suitcase zipper by overstuffing with random knickknacks. When you collect, gather touchstones of experience, and the travel stories you share will be even more powerful.

 


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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Tips To Get Through Airport Security Quickly During The Holidays!

This Winter, Get Your Family Through Airport Security Quickly

Travelling with the family can be challenging, especially when you get to airport security. Following these tips from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will not only help bring the stress level down, but also get you through the checkpoint faster and easier.

Download CATSA’s App

CATSA mobile app

Go to CATSA’s website (catsa.gc.ca) and download their “Breeze through security” mobile app. In addition to wait times, you’ll find information on what you can and can’t bring through security and helpful tips about the screening process.

Remember The 100ml Rule

Put large containers of liquids, aerosols and gels in your checked baggage. Only amounts less than 100 ml, placed in a 1 L clear, re-sealable plastic bag, are permitted in your carry-on baggage. This includes beverages and non-solid food (e.g. yogurt, pudding and peanut butter). However, beverages and food for children under the age of two are exempt from these restrictions (e.g. breast milk, formula, juice and purees). Keep these items within reach as they need to be inspected separately.

Leave Gifts Unwrapped

How to take gifts through airport securityIf you’re bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped in case their contents may need to be inspected. Some airports have gift-wrapping services located past security during the holiday season.

How to Pack Your Electronics For Airport Security

Bringing your children’s electronic games is a good way to keep them busy at the airport. To save time leave small electronic devices like tablets, e-books, cameras and handheld video games in their cases or in your carry-on baggage for screening, then simply place the case or baggage in the bin. If you travel with large electronic items like laptops, DVD players, netbooks, notebooks or game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.) you need to remove them from your carry-on baggage and place them separately in a bin. Make sure there are no other items on top or underneath.

airport security tech gear pinwrapped gifts for airport security pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose Easy-to-Remove Outerwear

Make sure the little ones can easily remove winter jackets, boots and hats. These items must be placed in bins for screening.

Look For the Family/Special Needs Lane

If you need help at the checkpoint, look for the Family/Special Needs lane. It features screening equipment that can accommodate larger items, like car seats and strollers, and screening officers who offer additional assistance.

Have Your Boarding Passes Ready

Remember to have all family members’ boarding passes ready for inspection.

Looking For More Information?

If you have more questions about the screening process,  you can find answers online at catsa.gc.ca, on the go with CATSA’s mobile app or on social media via Twitter or Pinterest). You can also watch short info videos, like the one below, on CATSA’s YouTube channel. Bon voyage!

 

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Fuji Instax SP-2 & The Changing Meaning of Capturing Memories

We’ve both loved cameras and taking photos since we were young. Back then though, we took photos, had them developed and kept them because they meant something. They brought to life, in some tangible way, the memory of people, places and things we loved. We kept them and cherished them but they have become as much of a memory of the past as the images themselves.

Past Photos, Presently Forgotten

old black and white photos

The two of us have a different experience with photos and our families. On one side there is an overabundance of photo albums (seriously, it’s a bit ridiculous) and a desire to document, record and treasure the events and people in our lives. On the other there is a more moderate approach with important photos of loved ones decorating the walls and fewer albums at the ready. Both of us have found a strong link to our past through these photos and a disparate situation in the present when it comes to how we capture and preserve our memories and experiences.

Sure we’ve got a whole lot of photos… and we mean A LOT. We’ve got terabytes worth of photos stored actually. Digital storage – the photo albums of the modern world… except, it’s not really a photo album, is it?

We probably see a tiny fraction of these photos ever again and we’re almost desensitized to the feelings of nostalgia they create should we decide to flick through the endless quantities we’ve amassed.

And we know we’re not alone.

Log onto any social media platform, snoop through anyone’s phone or just ask how many people need to store their photos online with a third-party. Photos are plentiful in the digital universe.

All this accessible photography makes it seem as though the way we collect memories and photos today is emotionless and sterile and seemingly lacking a human component. We post on Instagram for likes, we share on Facebook with a simple ‘post and forget’ attitude. We experience the world behind a lens, behind a phone, behind a screen. Wherever you are in the world, whether at home or abroad, we often have experiences that are void of a true connection.

The goal is to snap a photo, but to what end?

Capturing More Than Pictures

Instax SP-2 Printing Time

That’s why when we heard about the Fuji Instax, and had the opportunity to try it out thanks to FujiFilm, we were absolutely ecstatic. After trying it out, and having a ton of fun while we did, we’re upset we didn’t get in on the action when Fuji released their first Instax printer.

Here, finally, is a way to preserve those memories and digital photos in a tangible and enjoyable way. A way to bring that enthusiasm and connection back to the moments in our lives we choose to document, capture and preserve. Here, is a way to bring back what a photo used to represent – a connection to the past, a cherishing of memories and a joy of all things photography.

We’ve already written our review of the Fuji Instax SP-2 Printer but what it comes down to for us is not just how easy the app is to use (and it’s pretty darn user friendly) or how quickly we can print a photo (10 seconds to be exact) but how the printer has given us back something we didn’t acknowledge we had lost – the ability to bring back meaning to the way we capture our memories and a way to keep them visible and tangible in our minds and hearts.

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.

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