Category: vacations

Your Camping List: 7 Things You’d Better Not Forget!

camping listCamping is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors, but not if you get all the way there and realize you forgot vital supplies!

Whether you’ve been camping for years or are planning your first trip, it’s always helpful to have a comprehensive checklist of everything you’ll need.

Make sure you’re covered each and every time with this go-to camping list!

7 Must-Haves For Your Camping List

Getting away from the hustle and bustle for a camping trip can be so relaxing. The downside? You can’t just run to the corner store to pick up supplies!

Always be prepared with these 7 things to never forget!

1. Shelter, Of Course!

Whether you’re a bare minimum camper or would rather “glamp,” everyone needs some form of shelter.

Don’t forget a tent to protect you from the elements, insects, and other critters. You’ll need all the supplies to build the tent, such as stakes, a mallet or something similar, and a waterproof ground tarp (or two).

If you’re a consistent camper, think about investing in an awesome custom teardrop trailer. These bad boys can keep you organized, sheltered, and safe on your camping trips for years to come.

The coolest part? Some models feature a tent mounted to the roof of the trailer!

2. Sleeping Bag

You’ll quickly decide you hate camping if you fail to stay warm at night. Check out this great infographic if you’re camping somewhere especially chilly!

Make sure to bring a sleeping bag and any other slumber accessories you might want, such as a pillow or sleeping pad.

3. Food & Water

Bring plenty of nutritious food and water to sustain yourself during the trip. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies if you plan to cook!

Top tip: bring an ice chest to keep your food cold and locked up. Freeze water bottles instead of bringing ice so that you can have extra H2O on hand!

4. Flashlight or Lantern

One of the best parts of camping is getting to see the stars without the obstruction of city lights.

You’ll definitely want a flashlight or lantern on your camping list for nighttime reading, trips to the bathroom (or lack thereof), and emergencies.

Don’t forget backup batteries!

5. First Aid Kit

Safety first! In the case of bug bites, splinters, scrapes, or just a headache, you’ll want a first aid kit on hand.

This is especially important if you’re camping with kids.

6. Personal Hygiene Supplies

It’s up to you how “natural” you want to smell during your camping trip, but you should probably bring the basics no matter what.

This includes toilet paper, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, and sanitary wipes.

7. Sunscreen

Don’t let a bad sunburn ruin your trip.

Keep your skin protected with SPF especially when you’re spending a lot of time outdoors!

That’s It!

You’ll probably want to bring more than just these 7 things, but remembering to pack these essentials will make your camping trip a lot more enjoyable.

Leave a reply with your camping list must-haves!

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5 Tips for Booking a Trip to Rome on a Budget

dreamstime s 89889321One of the best ways to make memories with your family is through travel. However,  it can be very expensive if you don’t plan right.

Italy is an ideal place for family travel: great weather,  history, and pizza!

It is possible to take a trip to Rome on a budget. Here are 5 tips which will help you enjoy this amazing city without breaking the bank.

1. Shop around for airfare

There are many ways to find deals for international travel to Rome.

Obviously, you should explore using your travel points if you belong to a frequent flyer program.

Many airlines fly to Rome, so do some comparison shopping.

You might find deals on some low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Easy Jet.

You can also fly into neighboring cities like Milan, and take a train to Rome.

2. Stay in the suburbs

Hotels in the center of Rome can be very expensive, especially if you are traveling with kids and need more than one room.

AirBnB and other home sharing apps have changed the way families can travel. Consider renting an apartment or small house on the outskirts of the city.

You can easily take public transportation to see the sights. You will also have a kitchen, giving you the option of preparing your own meals and avoiding the high prices at restaurants.

3. Plan meals carefully

If you are taking a trip to Rome on a budget, you need to consider the high costs of eating out.

Italian food is some of the best in the world,  but it can cost a lot for a family to go to restaurants in cities like Rome.

If you are renting a house or apartment,  take a trip to the local grocery store and pick up provisions. It will give you and your children a chance to sample the local bread, produce and pasta.

Shopping locally and cooking fresh food during your trip to Rome on a budget will give your family an authentic Italian experience.

If you choose local street food like pizza (delicious!) while you are out and about, you might be able to splurge once on dinner at a real Italian trattoria during your visit.

4. Use public transportation-  or walk

Many of Rome’s biggest attractions are accessible by foot.

Make sure everyone in your party has comfortable shoes and a good map.

You can plan out efficient walking tours to give you a glimpse of some of Europe’s most iconic sights: the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican.

The Metro is Rome’s subway system, and it offers a convenient, cheaper way to get around than taxis.

5. Look for deals on tours

Part of planning a trip to Rome on a budget includes knowing when you want to spend a little money in order to get the best experience possible.

Sometimes it’s worth it to purchase a guided tour of major attractions. Prebooking an excursion like the Colosseum Area Floor tour ensures that you and your kids will learn everything you can about this historic locale.

Search for deals online before you go so you can maximize your savings.

Arrivederci!

With some forethought and planning, a family trip to Rome on a budget can be a joyous experience.

Do your research for deals before you go for both travel, accommodation, and attractions,  and you and your family will be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime without too much damage to your pocketbook.

How To Find The Best Travel Deals At The Last Minute

best travel dealsAre your days packed with responsibility? Do you feel like you can never get everything done that needs to be done?

Are you dying to get away for a holiday but stressed because you don’t have the finances to swing it?

Ditch the stress and buck up. Because here’s the good news.

Traveling at the last minute can save you big money.

When we say last-minute travel, we’re generally talking about travel that takes place within 14 days of the time of booking. Not so much running to the ticket counter five minutes before a flight and demanding a ticket.

And last minute travel isn’t just about saving on airfare. Deals can be found on hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages.

Here’s how it works.

1. Grasp the meaning of “short notice”

If your life is crazy busy and you know you’ve only got two weeks to get ready to go, pack a bag ahead of time.

Get a travel bag stocked with a few changes of clothes, a couple of non-perishable snacks, some things to entertain you. Then just before it’s time to go, toss in the toiletries, medications or anything else you might need.

2. Know what you’re getting into

Or more accurately, know that you won’t know what you’re getting into.

With travel on short notice, there’s a certain amount of expecting the unexpected. In other words, be open to what comes along.

Keep in mind that you may not get to go exactly where you wanted to go or stay just in the place you had in mind when you’re traveling on short notice. The more specific the travel deal you’re looking for, the harder it will be to find.

If the whole point is to just get away, then be ready to accept that the four nights in Cancun you were envisioning might end up being five days in a neighboring bed and breakfast. Or a treehouse hotel in Bali.

You might be surprised to find that the unplanned vacation allows you to really relax, enjoy and unwind. No plans, no responsibilities. A true get-away from the stress of your busy life.

3. Build a community of special agents

Travel agents, that is.

The cheapest last-minute travel is going to be with a package tour. That’s mostly because when a cancellation occurs, travel agents are scrambling to fill an empty slot so they don’t have to foot the bill.

If you can, visit a few local agents and give them a heads up on what you want. They’ll be your eyes and ears in the travel community and can help you find those special deals.

It’s a win-win for all involved.

For example, if an agent hears of cancelled holiday deals for sale and you are able to join a group tour to Jamaica on short notice, the money you save will easily allow you to pay the agent’s fee.

4. With airfare, do the detective work

Of course, we’ve all heard that the closer to the time of booking, the more expensive airfare is going to be. This is true. To some extent.

Check Twitter because several airlines post last-minute deals to their accounts.

And sometimes tour operators will sell last-minute deals on charter flights. And typically these flights are heading to sunny locales.

One warning on those bargain charter flights though. The $89 ticket price doesn’t include taxes. And those taxes can be hundreds of dollars. So just be sure you know the details.

Even with the taxes though, you can still score a great deal.

5. Take a mid-week getaway. At an off-time.

When people talk about getting away, they’re often looking for weekend travel. So booking a ticket for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday can save you a lot of money. Possibly hundred of dollars per ticket.

Beyond the mid-week factor, there’s the off-time factor too. If you don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn or prefer sleeping in your bed rather than on the plane, think about how many others feel the same.

So consider booking a flight at 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday or at 5:20 a.m. on a Thursday. You’ll get significant savings.

Plus, if you can manage a whole week, there’s something nice about spending an entire weekend on your vacation without it having to be a time to travel to and from your destinations.

6. Be smart about so-called hotel deals.

There are plenty of apps offering secret hotel deals.

You simply type in the locale you want, your preferred hotel star rating, and the desired price range. The app will find you a deal. BUT, you have to wait until the transaction is complete to see where you’ll be staying.

It’s done this way so that hotels can give customers a great deal while quietly moving unbooked rooms. As long as you don’t care which hotel it is, you’re good to go.

One thing to remember though is that you’re unable to avoid certain hotels such as those listed on The Bedbug Registry, so be savvy.

7. Use your credit rewards or miles.

If you still can’t find a flight you can afford, don’t despair. You could consider redeeming credit card rewards or airline miles to cushion the expense a bit.

But does the value of your rewards make it worth your while? Maybe. Maybe not.

Then again, does it matter?

If you’re really wanting to get away and you know you need it for your sanity, then it may not really matter whether it’s worth your while financially. After all, can you really put a price on mental stability?

By doing some footwork, poking around a little and getting friendly with travel agents, we’re hoping you won’t even need to consider using those rewards. Then you can save them for that bigger trip you’re planning in the future.

Whatever the case, there are always ways to get deals on last-minute travel so you can take that well-deserved getaway.

If you have any tips you’d like to share for last-minute travel deals, please feel free to share!

Skydeck Chicago Review: Make Memories to Cherish!

skydeck-review2

I received complimentary passes and a tour of the Skydeck Chicago review for this post. All opinions and thoughts are honest and 100% all my own.

I am not afraid of heights, but the Willis Tower can seem a bit intimidating at 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall! Mr. Randal Stancik was extremely gracious and gave us an informative tour of the Willis Tower, and of course the 103rd floor where the Skydeck is located! We also watched a short movie plus it offered lots of great facts about Chicago and the Skydeck.

skydeck-review4As you can see in the picture the Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. As you walk around you can read lots of fun facts about the building.

skydeck-review7This is where the fun really starts at the 103rd floor!

The elevator trip is also fun as it took us less than 3 minutes to reach the 103rd floor. As you are riding, you get to see comparisons such as you are now higher than the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramid, and more! It Is Only 2,232 Steps To Get To The Top Of SkyDeck! I prefer to take the elevator but it would make a fantastic cardio workout.

skydeck-review5The ledge is constructed of three layers of half-inch thick glass laminated and tempered for durability. This ledge is not going anywhere.

skydeck-review6Check out these fabulous views! WOW!

It is just breathtaking and something you really have to experience! I can’t wait to go back again and this time with my family.  As you can see the Ledge offers spectacular views spanning up to four states that you will never forget.

skydeck-review1Our soveniur picture we took with me and my blogging buddies at the Skydeck Ledge. This is a memory I will never forget.

skydeck-chicagoThe Skydeck Chicago is open 365 days a year so make sure if you are in Chicago to stop by and experience the Ledge for yourself!

Missouri Has a Trip for Everyone!

This post brought to you by Missouri Division of Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

Missouri is called the “Show Me State” for a reason, as there is so much to do in each region of the state. From the Mississippi River with St. Louis to the western side and everything in between from hiking trails, caves, water, Route 66, and so much more! I never realized how much there was to do in Missouri. It is such a beautiful state with lots of great historical sites to all the natural settings to explore. Of course Branson with the popular shopping and musical shows.

I always wanted to travel to Missouri and ride in a steamboat on the Mississippi River as I live in South Louisiana where the Mississippi River ends. I always thought it would be fun to be further up the river and of course visit where Mark Twin lived. I would take my family as this is a great way to teach my son more about our wonderful country and explore it together as a family.

Our trip would begin in Hannibal, MO. Our first destination would be to visit the site of Mark Twain. I would spend a full day visiting the attraction and explore the cave.

Then our next day would be filled with the Tom Sawyer fun park for my son the rest of the day.

Our third day would be to explore the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Musuem and then take a lunch cruise on the steamboat to see the Mississippi River. That evening we could hit the ice cream parlor after we did some shopping at the antique stores and end with a nice supper at Lula Belle’s Restaurant.

Our last day would be spent driving down the state to get more of the Missouri feel and stop in at some local shops and diners along the way home. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my vacation than by sightseeing and also just driving and enjoying the view and meeting locals. I am a small town girl, and I really enjoy the quaintness of small towns and it’s more leisurely for me.


What would you do in Missouri? Are you looking for adventure on land or water? Maybe you want both. Are you a city person and want the night life of Kansas City or St. Louis. You can take in a baseball game as well. Are perhaps you want to do more shopping and take in a show at Bransen or visit the natural beauty of the Ozarks? Missouri has lots to offer and a different trip for everyone. Make sure to visit them and like VisitMO on Facebook and also to follow VisitMO on Twitter so you won’t miss any of the fun!

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