Simply Carolina: The Hidden Gems of South Carolina

Travel the road less traveled, go off the beaten path…we all know the quotes that tell us to travel away from the busy places. You know what? Those quotes are true. Sometimes the best travel and memories are made within the “hidden gems.” As I spend a chilly, rainy day in North Carolina, I’m reminiscing about traveling to the unknown places in South Carolina.

Walahalla – A mountain city, full of history.

 

Chattooga River – Hiking, whitewater rafting, and waterfalls? What more could you want?

 

Abingdon Manor in Latta – A bed and breakfast inn, complete with a Greek Revival Style.

 

Cooper’s Country Store in Salters – Shop for smoked hams, shotguns, and everything in between before hitting the road again.

 

Bluffton – This little city is home to charm, cafes, and cute shops.

xoxo,

Megan

Taking the Stress out of Traveling with Kids

Traveling-With-Kids

 

 

It’s summer time! And with summertime come trips and family vacations. Spending long hours traveling in a car, on a plane, or another mode of transportation can be tiring on both parents and children. But, there are tricks to keeping kids engaged and not asking the typical, “Are we there yet?”

Keep the Activities Coming: Pack a travel bag full of games, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, and more to keep your kids occupied. If you are traveling for several hours, try handing out a new item once per hour. Take the travel bag a step further and create a small bag for each child. This bag can be a pencil pouch or something of a similar size and include items that are interesting to that child. Lastly, play family games along the way. Have printable road bingo or a road trip scavenger hunt. Another classic family game is the license plates game, where everyone competes to see how many different license plates they can find. When traveling by airplane, it can be hard to pack all of these items into your carry-on. Instead, try downloading kid-friendly apps with games and videos on your iPhone or iPad. This way, your children will stay engaged in an activity other than running up and down the aisles of the plane.

Pack a Snack Bag without Sweets: Kids will get hungry going from place to place. Be sure to have their favorite treats to ease their hunger and avoid the hangry mood (hungry plus angry). However, remember one thing: don’t include sweets. There is nothing worse than being in a public tourist attraction with a child having a sugar rush. Include in the bag savory treats like cheese cubes, pretzels, fruit, and veggies. Don’t forget water to drink!

Start a Travel Journal: Put an educational spin on your trip and have your kids start a travel journal. This travel journal can include drawings, lists, and stories about the interesting places you visit, food you eat, and the various activities you do. Also, collect postcards from the different places. With these postcards, you can either write a message on the back and mail them to yourself or include them in the journal. Another way to engage your kids in the travel journal is to give them a camera to take pictures. This child-friendly camera will allow kids to capture their favorite sites and what interests them. Types of cameras can include disposable or Polaroid.

Have a First-Aid Kit and a Clean-up Kit: When you are traveling with kids, anything can happen. Be prepared with a First-Aid kit and a clean-up kit for spills. In the First-Aid kit, include band aids, gauze pads, a digital thermometer, cold pack, sunscreen, bug spray, aloe vera, saline solution, antibacterial wipes, medicine, and anything else you would normally include. For the clean-up kit, put in antibacterial wipes, paper towels, small garbage bags, zip-lock bags, and extra clothing and diapers.

Plan Ahead: Plan your trip and make your reservations well in advance. Along with hotel and flight reservations, buy tickets for attractions ahead of time. In addition, plan out a schedule for your trip, including the various activities for each day. Check out the websites for the places you’ll visit, see the nearby restaurants, and other sites to help your trip go smoothly. However, one of the most important things to remember is to stay flexible! If you have one attraction planned for a day and end up doing something else, don’t worry! Don’t plan too much or too little. The ultimate goal of the trip is to have fun and make memories with your family. Also, have a plan of what you’re going to pack in regard to clothes for your kids. Have a to-do list and schedule of what needs to be done in the final days leading up to your trip.

Bring Your Child’s Must-need Items: Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket—anything they normally carry around and need to have at home. These items will help kids feel safe and comfortable while exploring new surroundings. Plus, it might help prevent some emotional break-downs.

Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful. However, use the tips above to ease that stress and create lasting family memories.

xoxo,

Megan

 

Simply Carolina: My NC Bucket List

Image result for north carolina attractions

I absolutely love my home state of North Carolina! From the mountains to the coast and everything in between, the Tarheel has something for everyone. This state is full of historic sites and attractions that are must-sees. Even though I have live here for my whole life, there are still many things I want to experience. Here is my NC bucket list.

  • Climb Old Baldy on Bald Head Island
  • Go to the ghost town of Portsmouth
  • Visit NC potters in Seagrove
  • Visit the Life and Science Museum in Durham
  • Climb Mount Mitchell
  • Visit the Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill, the oldest restaurant in NC.
  • Visit St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath, the oldest church in the state.
  • Go to a race at the Orange County Speedway
  • Run on an old Nascar track in Hillsborough
  • Do some shagging, shucking and jiving at the NC Oyster Festival
  • Raft the Nantahala
  • Climb the stairs to the top of the Corolla Lighthouse.
  • Take a dip in Lake Lure, the setting for that famous scene in Dirty Dancing.
  • Tour the USS North Carolina.
  • See the wild ponies at Shackleford Banks.
  • Slip down Sliding Rock.
  • Learn about sea turtle rescue at Topsail.
  • Visit the Carolina Raptor Center at Latta Plantation.
  • Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
  • Paddle board on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Xoxo,

Megan

 

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To Inspire and Motivate – Samantha Brown

 

Image result for samantha brown

“Authentic travel is never in the must sees, always in the mundane.”  -Samantha Brown

To travel- it’s a verb with a heavy definition. What exactly does it mean “to travel?” Well, it means something different to everyone, so here is my definition.

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. For each episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I would love to have it.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I have a passion for traveling and was inspired by Brown to see the world.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!

xoxo,

Megan

From the Mountains to the Coast of NC

  
My love for North Carolina goes deep. We have the mountains on the West and the coast on the East, with abundance in between. What more could anyone want? Nicknamed the Tar Heel State, NC’s history dates back to the original 13 colonies. It became a state in November 1789 and today, 227 years later, North Carolina is still thriving and has something for everyone.

The Mountains

NC is surrounded by numerous mountains, including the Appalachian and Smokey Mountain ranges. This area can be divided up into three different parts: the Foothills, the High Country, and the Smokey Mountains and Cherokee. Within the Foothills, the city of Asheville is a favorite among many. Visitors can tour the famous Biltmore House and Estates. End the day in the city’s lively downtown with eclectic food and shopping. Looking at the Foothills, other hot spots travelers love are the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest.

The High Country includes the towns Boone and Blowing Rock. Go back in time to the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad or take a walk on the mile high bridge at Grandfather Mountain. During the winter, Beech and Appalachian Mountains are popular among skiers and fans of winter sports.

As for the Smokey Mountains, Cherokee Indians often referred to them as “the land of the blue mist.” Some areas of interest here are the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Bryson City.

The Piedmont

Heading inward, the next part of the state is the Piedmont region, home to Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, and the Triangle.

Located near the border between North and South Carolina, Charlotte lives up to its advertising motto “Charlotte’s Got A Lot.” Visitors can enjoy the thrill rides at the theme park, Carowinds , discover news things at The Discovery Place, or fill their need for speed at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Charlotte Motor Speedway. In addition, Concord Mills and the American Girl store are ideal places to shop in the city.

Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point create the Piedmont Triad. Animal lovers will dig the Greensboro Science Center and the North Carolina Zoo in nearby Asheboro. In Winston-Salem, see where the Moravian town of Salem started by touring Old Salem, the historical replica of the town. The neighboring city of High Point is known as the furniture capital of the world, full of shops and museums. While there, be sure to take a picture with the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers. Not too far away from the area is the Yadkin Valley, where many wineries are located.

The Triangle consists of our state’s capital Raleigh, as well as, the main cities of Durham and Cary. Visitors can explore Raleigh’s Museum of Art and Museum of History, while sports fan can catch a game of the Carolina Hurricanes or the Durham Bulls in their stadiums.

The Coast

Over 300 miles of beaches, tons of lighthouses, and a chance to see wild horses on the beach make up the perfect place to relax on the coast. In addition, history lovers can visit Revolutionary and Civil War sites. Two favorite spots for travelers: the Outer Banks and Wilmington.

The Outer Banks and Currituck offer new adventures. See where the Wright brothers first took flight and learn about their journey at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse, finding the wild horses in Corolla, or catching a show at the Lost Colony outdoor theater in Manteo are foolproof ways to spend the day.

Lastly, Wilmington, nicknamed Hollywood East, attracts people near and far. Fans can tour various filming locations of movies and TV shows, including Iron Man 3 and One Tree Hill. Aside from the film scene, Wilmington’s Historic District shouldn’t be missed, along with the NC Aquarium and Fort Fisher. A unique experience for all ages is stepping aboard the USS North Carolina Battleship, where you learn about the battleship’s history and more.

Whether you are new to the area or lived here your whole life, the Tar Heel state offers plenty of adventures, fun times, and great memories.

xoxo,

Megan

Article first published in Forsyth Family magazine: http://www.forsythfamilymagazine.com/from-the-mountains-to-the-coast-a-look-at-north-carolinas-favorite-spots/

Traveling on a Budget

I recently wrote this article for Forsyth Woman, a local magazine in Winston-Salem. And, trust me, you’ll want to continue reading if you love traveling. After all, going a trip doesn’t have to break your bank. 

Use these tips to help you take an adventure, go on vacation, or make this summer the time of your life.

xoxo,

Megan

———

Traveling on a Budget 

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, many people get an itch for travel. But, did you know summer is one of the most expensive times to take a trip? When it comes to taking a vacation, there is a price, with the hotel fees, flight tickets, and expenses that seem to pop up. No matter what your budget is, there are ways to go on a new adventure and make memories.

  • Before spending any money on anything trip related, it’s a good idea to research and shop around for the best prices. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Trivago help compare prices for flights and hotels.
  • Booking flights can get confusing and expensive. However, here’s an insider’s tip: book flights on Tuesdays and if possible, near 3 pm. Flights will be the cheapest at the time.
  • Avoid traveling during the holidays and summer. Disney World is a magical vacation but isn’t so magical when there are sky high prices and crowds during Christmas or summer. Take a trip during the fall or a three day weekend. Better yet, go during the week. Prices are usually lower Monday through Friday. Another plus is less crowds at the hotels and attractions.
  • Discounts are available for students, military members, and senior citizens when traveling. If you aren’t in any of those groups, research discounts on the Internet, using keywords “promo,” “coupon,” or “voucher code.”
  • Another way to cut back on costs is to travel with friends. Make it a couples’ get away or a girls’ weekend.
  • Before you go, plan out the main events for each day. Decide when you are going to a certain attraction or visiting a certain area of the city so you can go ahead and purchase tickets in advance if needed.
  • Speaking of purchasing tickets in advance, always do it. Prices are lower for hotels, tourist attractions, and shows if bought ahead of your visit. For example, the Biltmore House in Asheville offers a special, lower price, if you buy tickets ten days in advance.
  • Prioritize your spending. Think about what you want to spend your money on the most and where you will splurge. Maybe use pictures as souvenirs, instead of buying things.
  • Food is another place where money can either be saved or splurged. When booking a hotel, make sure they have a free complimentary breakfast. Then, have something small for lunch or pack snacks to carry with you throughout the day. Make dinner a fanfare event by picking somewhere nice and indulging in a great meal.
  • If you are interested in an attraction or museum, research to see if they have a free admissions day(s) or if admission is lower on certain days.
  • Use public transportation. Public parking can be a pain, especially with meter and parking deck fees. Save yourself the hassle and tour the city by using buses, trains, or by walking.
  • Hotels are always more expensive in bigger, tourist cities. Try to stay outside of the area, where costs are lower. For example, if you are visiting New York City, don’t stay in the city. Look for hotels in New Jersey or surrounding locations. This also gives you a chance to travel and explore places besides the main attraction.
  • It is important to be smart with your money while traveling. To avoid losing your credit cards or overspending, carry only cash so you’ll always know exactly how much you have to spend. Be sure to separate your cash between wallets, purses, and bags to prevent losing all of it if something is stolen.
  • There is nothing wrong with having a stay-cation in your own city. Be a tourist for a day and explore new places, nearby towns, and places you didn’t even know existed right in your backyard.
  • Lastly, start a travel fund with your spare change. The change will add up and can be put towards a fun trip away from home.

Article posted on: http://www.forsythwoman.com/traveling-on-a-budget/

Throwback Thursday

Happy throwback Thursday! I’m throwing it back to one of my previous posts, “When Goodbyes are Hard to Do.”

——

“I’m not scared of hello. I’m scared of goodbye.” -Anonymous

Saying goodbye scares the daylights out of me. I’m not fond of change. So when a person goes out of my life for a time being and I don’t know when or if I will see them again, I’m frightened.

There have been enough goodbyes during my lifetime; goodbyes from either moving, graduating school, or just life. Yes, saying goodbye is a part of life, but does it really have to be?

For me, the most suspenseful moments in life are the ones when you just said “goodbye” to someone and walk away. A thousand thoughts race through my head. “Will I see them again?” “Talk to them?” “Cross their path again?”

My advice-if you care about someone, make time for them. Hopefully, they will make time for you. Some goodbyes don’t have to be permanent ones.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I Travel 

  “To travel is to see the world and make beautiful memories.”

To travel- it’s a verb with a heavy definition. What exactly does it mean “to travel?” Well, it means something different to everyone, so here is my definition.

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. For each episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I would love to have it.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I have a passion for traveling.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!
xoxo,

Megan