Summer Destinations 

Lately, the two most common questions asked are (1) where are you going next and (2) how do you decide where you’re going to go. This blog will quickly cover both, and hopefully motivate you to think creatively to come up with a trip of your own. If you need help, I love what I do…in helping sharing my stories with you, but also help provide travel tip planning advice if you want to make a trip of your own. 

For me, this summer is filled with new places I’ve never been and bucket list items I’ve put off long enough. With the mid-west now covered in a weekend distance by car, from Michigan, I have had to plan ahead on trips and think out of the box on affordable ways to do it. That said upcoming trips are: Hawaii, Miami, Vegas (for the Backstreet Boys & a girls trip of course!), Mt. Rushmore (in an RV) and Charlotte (because it came up for the top 10 places to go per Trip Advisor, duh hehe). If you’re interested how they go, I will not only be posting the itineraries and sharing thoughts through this blog, but will be doing Instagram stories with you to share the experience (@JackieSCraig). 

Now, how do I decide on where to go? Easy, where I haven’t been before, and what I can make affordable on a weekend trip. Maintaining a full time job, while traveling wanderlust is a tough balancing act, I must say. Additionally, the further and further I get away from home, the more expensive it gets. Traveling on a budget further away involves: planning ahead, packing light and traveling in groups to split costs.

Objective: I challenge you to make a list of 10 places you want to go that you can drive within 6 hours to, whether you have been or not. Start opening your mind to the idea that you can make a trip for yourself, you deserve a trip. Fly free bird! 

Personal Favorite Summer Designations: Gatlinburg (TN), Cedar Pointe (OH), Niagara Falls (ON), Pittsburg/Gettysburg (PA), Chicago (IL), Orlando (FL) and Four Corners (AZ).

Vote in the comment section: Should I start making videos on each trip, and post on YouTube? In other words, would you follow?! Life decisions, friends! 

Quick Travel Tips!

The most common questions I get through my social media are related to helpful tips for booking, saving money and in packing. There would be too many things to put in a blog, and quite honestly would probably bore you. So, I have highlighted some things I think are most important, and you can e-mail me specific questions. If there are several similar questions, I will post a follow-up blog. Easy peasy! My e-mail Jackie14Craig@gmail.com.

Where to go? For me it’s places I’ve never been. If it’s just a short weekend trip I travel domestically, and to find places I would start by going to http://www.CityPass.com. This company, has done an excellent job in creating a travel itinerary that allows you entrance to many tourist spots in a one ticket price. If traveling internationally I check two places either Groupon’s travel packages (not that I book their deals, but generally when they are running deals there are more to be found for that idea) or Trip Advisors popular picks. 

Booking a Room? For me, I am a solo traveler, who wants to spend as little time as possible in the hotel room. For that reason I choose Air B&B. I select based on area where most tourist areas are, not only is this easy walking distance, but it makes it cheaper to use public transportation. Note: there are booking filters so you can rent the whole house, and know if you share a common bathroom, etc. If sharing a home isn’t your jam, then I check the following two sources (1) Groupon for hotel discounts in the area and (2) Trip Advisors hotel. Check hotel reviews from the last three months before booking a cheap hotel, sometimes you get what you pay for, but if you do your research you get more than what you pay for! P.S. Asking for a free breakfast ticket can go a long way.

Need a Car? Have a Costco membership? It provides more than grocery sales, they have Costco Travel, via website, where you can search for a car, choose the pickup/drop off area, you can book a car at one price and if the car price drops then you can cancel your original booking and then re-book, at no charge to change. Additionally, you don’t pay for your car until you arrive. If you’re staying in the city, most cities have a 7-day pass and have transportation busses to/from main city that often times is cheaper than renting a car. If renting a car.. the most clean, comfortable and affordable has been Enterprise. I recommend looking at Hotwire, but note that sometimes this site has hidden fees, so I always call to get the bottom line number. Also note: most credit cards have car insurance coverage for rentals, call in advance and use that card when booking. I’ve learned that this provides the same coverage the car companies try to sell you when you get your booked car. As a side note, I prefer Uber to Lyft. I like that I don’t have to feel obliged to tip, Lyft presses for tips.

What to do when you get there? For activities a good start is Trip Advisor, read the top 10 tourist favorites. For food, download YELP and search by price, then ratings. If you are trying to find “out of the box” activities and more outdoor activities I suggest pulling out the good old map and look for mountains and lakes and google those areas to find what national parks and paths surround those areas. 

You want an excursion? Sites like Viator are a gold mines. Not only do they look to cover all tours in the area, they also have the BEST customer service. Other favorites: Groupon, CityPass.com, Wow-air and Trip Advisor. As you become skilled using this apps you’ll discover which types of things you like to do and find other apps that suites your needs. If you are traveling places I’ve been I would love to help let you know what I’ve done. 

Here’s a solid start! If you are looking for more, feel free to e-mail me your questions, Jackie14Craig@gmail.com. I can also be found on Instagram and Twitter: @JackieSCraig 

Generation Internet

We live in a society where we are constantly changing our standards, changing our minds and upgrading. The only way we stop that is by pausing, taking a minute for ourselves, reflecting and living in the moment. Those who know me best know that I am a shy person. I tend to analyze my surroundings, hope that people initiate conversations and listen. (When I am comfortable it’s a whole different ballgame)
I have grown with the times….technology, that is. A lot of who it is I meet is off of initial conversations from the Internet. I used to feel foolish telling people that, but let’s be honest…we spend a lot of our times at work, with family, with friends and with our phone. So, it would only be natural that in the moments we are on our phones we spark new conversations as a way to meet new people. Well, that’s how I met both Marc (Moore) & Eric (Valdez), both of which me joined my co-worker Jamal and I on a trip to Missouri. Why Missouri? Closest state on a scratch off map (that I hadn’t gone to) with the LARGEST bookshelf in the world, and Southwest had a deal that would have been silly to refuse, $75/each way. What!

The introduction: There the three of us, Jamal, Eric and I sat on the airport bus to Enterprise with the bus driver who was nothing short of comedian. The woman was giving sass to the cross walk guards, and cracking jokes “oh no he didn’t” to any pedestrian that thought her moving bus was going to slow its roll to its destination. Last stop before the rent a car, and there came Marc, young, outgoing and just like his Instagram pics (this is when being honest about what you look likes help…because in person you don’t get the luxury of flying flowers and gray eyes as a filter, which I LOVE by the way). The rest was history– the movie that comes to mind is Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, friends for life. Except this trip was a lot of testosterone and me… A whole lotta opinions… For better or for worse, and I don’t see that changing (in case my future husband stumbles on this blog).

As you read in my previous blog (Maine) the not planning with strangers was not going to happen again. This trip, lesson learned. However, you can’t go on a trip and not learn more right?!
The most life changing experience on this trip was jumping off of my first waterfall… I thought jumping out of a plane was going to be difficult and it fooled me, but literally almost backed out of jumping out of a waterfall, and twice. (Take a peak at my IG: @JackieSCraig for a visual representation) Imagine for a minute walking toward the tip of edge of the waterfall…the pressure of the water at your feel strong enough to knock you over and down, pebbles and sharp rocks between your toes, the sound of the loud water to your left as you continue walking, heart pounding that your body aches and your mind telling you this is not a good idea. Literally, convinced myself to walk back toward the car a couple times, enough times where Eric had about enough grabbed my hand and we leaped in…I went straight mermaid plopping out of that water not knowing if I was alive, injured or neither. Longer story short, I was an idiot and did it again just to prove to myself I could do it solo– it’s the stubbornness in me. This experience was followed by a text to my mom who said, “YOU DID WHAT?!” I love how mothers think that texting in all caps after the fact will result in guilt, no I was proud!
Lessons of the trip:
Forewarn new trip goers who the driver will be, in advance. I am pretty sure Eric thought his life was going to end with my hand on the wheel, I mean I do fit the stereotypical bad driver….Asian and female. And I’ll add, there are 3 kinds of passengers (1) the one who wants to drive, or is driving, who wants control of the situation (2) the “I don’t care” and (3) Let’s go to the bathroom and stop every five minutes. Our car in Missouri consisted of the first two, but we made it… And alive (I have the Grinch grin).

When making a decision (like jumping off of the waterfall) ask yourself if you would look back a year from now and wish you would have… If the answer is yes, then do it. I asked myself that exact question when leaping in 50 feet, and the answer was I’d regret it within minutes.
Don’t trust Apple “Notes” with directions. I held down the address entered in “Notes” and it took us to the right address but wrong city, a 3 hour drive out and an hour from the actual place. I’d call this a fail with attitude.
Trust your intuitions and take risks in meeting people, you could miss out on meeting a great person because of fear. The world is not that bad place.
Itinerary:
Saturday (7/2) DTW-STL, Brunch @ The Rooster, Bonne Terre Mine Boat Tour (good for any weather condition), Grand Falls (good for jumping off of, just sayin’), Air B&B House with Carrie Cross, & Mosaic (melting pot of all out-of-state clobbers)

Sunday (7/3) Breakfast @ The Mixing Bowl, The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee (if not a coffee person, it’s okay it smells great!), The Workhouse (abandoned castle/prison), BBQ @ Arthur Bryant’s (food comes out high school cafeteria style, if that’s your thing), Kansas City Library (Largest Bookshelf in the world & the orgin of the Missouri idea), Nelson-Atkin’s Museum of Art (artwork is not a jungle gym, FYI), Go Ape jungle obstacle course, Glenn’s Cafe (GREAT oysters), a missed-typed address lead us to an hour north of our St. Louis destination, BED.
Monday (7/4) Breakfast @ Crepe Caperae, Bushe Beer Tour, Gateway Arch (both outside & inside (you get to the top taking an incubator to what is assumed to be the method to MARS– now that’s cool)