October Blogging Challenge · Uncategorized

October Blogging Challenge:Our Current Playlist -Day 14

Music is an important part of both of our lives. We are known to fly to cities just to see a concert. We are lucky that we live within driving distance to Nashville, TN. Our playlists are always eclectic, but favor pop and current country. 

 Out favorites at the moment: 

1. Taylor Swift-what can we say? We’ve seen her 3 times in concert and absolutely think she’s a genius songwriter. 

2. Ed Sheeren-We’ve seen him twice live and he’s just adorable. “x” is one of our favorite cd’s ever. 

3. Kelly Clarkson-Top 5 singers we’ve seen live with a heart of gold. Her covers are innovative and mostly better than the original artist versions. The girl can sing anything! Her smashup of “That I Would Be Good/Use Somebody” is a favorite. 

4. Vance Joy-I didn’t know much about him until he opened for Taylor this summer, but he blew me away. I quickly bought every song from “Dream Your Life Away”. 

5. Paul McDonald & Nikki Reed-“The Best Part” and “I’m Not Falling”. Totally blew me away. Don’t know if those two will continue to collaborate, but they should.

6. Matchbox Twenty-Well, we are early days Matchbox fans and a hard core Rob Thomas fan, but we are partial to their early stuff. Nothing better than “Hang, 3 am, Black & White People, Real World”

7. Bleachers “Strange Desire”-Probably read about this in an album of the year review list because it hasn’t been in the radio,  but definitely a favorite at the moment.  

8. Keith Urban -Probably seen him 3 or 4 times and he gives one of the best concerts out there. He’s got a song for any mood. 

9. Jewel “Picking up the Pieces”, is a new favorite. Collabs with Dolly and Rodney Crowell make it even better. Still love “Spirit”, but glad she released new music that showcases her songwriting and vocal talent. 

10. James Bay-“Chaos and the Calm”A coworker introduced us to him earlier this year, but we love him. Favorites are “Hold Back the River, Let it Go, Move Together”

Throw in a little Eminem on the more frustrating days and that is an average day of listening at the office. 

October Blogging Challenge · Uncategorized · Work/Life

October Blogging Challenge-7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned This Year-Day 7

This is an ironic day for this topic. I’ve gotten the news my organization will not support me to go to Grad school even when people with lesser qualifications were selected in the past. I am disappointed, but know if I really want to achieve something, it is possible if I work hard enough. So, here are the other lessons I’ve learned in the past year. 

1. Life is unpredictable-A really good friend’s cancer diagnosis took a turn for the worse earlier this year.  We went to see her for what was supposed to be a goodbye trip. Seven months later, she’s still fighting and living her life. 

2. Life is What You Make of It-Life is a series of choices you make and your reaction to them. When you learn this, your perspective changes. I can choose to stay stagnant or I can choose to keep evolving and growing. It’s my choice. 

3. Working Overtime is Rarely Worth It-You rarely get out of what you put into things after hours. I worked 36 hrs of overtime the last 2 weeks and I feel every hour of it. I’m still tired and stressed. 

4. Blogging is Hard Work -I’ve had a great time and learned a great deal the last 8 months, but it’s felt like a second job at times. It’s tough to work all day and stay motivated to write well enough to keep reader’s attention. 

5. Travel is Therapy & Education-I have never been to therapy even when I probably should have gone, but travel has been a great substitute. It’s served to calm me, clear my head, and led me to discover new things about myself. It is the best investment I’ve made. 

6. Kindness Matters -You never know what someone has been/is going through. You do not have to agree or even like someone to be kind. 

7. When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them!! -I’ve experienced this lesson over and over again in this life. People rarely change and it’s pointless waiting around for them to. 

October Blogging Challenge · travel · Trip Planning · Uncategorized

October Blogging Challenge-Travel Pet Peeves-Day 6

 When it comes to traveling, my goal is to relax and enjoy my time. There are a few things that tend to hamper my experience. These are some pet peeves I often encounter while traveling: 

1. Airlines overselling seats-it’s too often I show up to listen to attendants all but beg passengers to take a voucher so the plane will not be oversold & can take off on time. Get a grip. This is a terrible way to treat customers and should be banned. 

2. Overselling Rental Cars-Recently, it seems that it’s becoming a more common practice to oversell car rentals. I’ve shown up, waited in exceedingly long lines and told along with others that our reserved car type is not available and won’t be for an exceedingly long timeframe. Unacceptable.

3. Last minute gate changes-trains or planes. Nothing like reaching your destination on time to learn that you are now in the wrong area. 

4. Baggage fees-I despise these increasing size of carryon luggage try to cram in the overhead bins and the tug of war over overhead storage room that it has created. 

5.  Tourist vs. Traveler’s argument-trust me, it does not matter. One is not better than the other. As long as the individual enjoys their travel experience, that is all that matters. 

6. The inevitable questions: Are you twins? How old are you? Do you have the same birthday?” If I had a penny for the number of times these questions have been asked together, I’d be a millionaire multi times over. Doesn’t matter where we go, we get the same questions.
What are some of your travel pet peeves? 

Blog Name · Uncategorized

October Blogging Challenge-Behind the Name-Day 4

We chose the name “TrippinTwins”  because it popped in my head instantly and it fit our situation perfectly. After we moved back to our hometown, after living in Northern Virginia, we could afford to travel again.  We took a few trips together and with others and found that we enjoyed our trips most when it was just the two of us. Some of our friends mentioned that we should start a blog. After some thought, we decided to give it a try.

The name is fairly self explanatory. Trippin in this case is a play on “Trip” and Twins because we are twins.  We both have full time jobs and do not have endless amounts of time to travel, so we take shorter trips.  We work together now, but in different areas, which makes it easy to coordinate our time off.

Finding the perfect travel partner can be difficult. We have learned that just because you love someone or just because you are great friends, does not automatically mean they will be the best travel partner. We still travel with other people and sometimes solo. We find that we are great travel partners because we have similar interests and travel styles, which makes trips generally fairly easy and a lot of fun. We are not completely settled and know that a lot could changed down the road. For now, we are choosing to live in the moment and enjoy our experiences as they come.

Do you have a fun story about your blog name to share?

Alabama · Beach Towns · Canoeing · Gulf Shores · Kayaking · Orange Beach · Sailing · Tours · travel · Trip Ideas

 TrippinTwins: Visiting the beaches we always go back to, Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

There is not a better place to heal the soul and rejuvenate than a trip to your favorite beach. Nor is any visit the same, for the ocean is always changing.  For those reasons, it is why we keep returning to the Alabama Gulf Coast year after year. We have been going since we were children; it’s the beach we grew up on. It is still the perfect location for a getaway with incredible beaches, plethora of restaurant and entertainment options.

Two of the most popular beach cities that make up the Alabama Gulf Coast are Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We have visited both cities multiple times, but have stayed in Orange Beach the last few trips. Orange Beach is a few miles down the road from Gulf Shores. There are slight difference in the towns, but both offer fantastic restaurants, entertainment choices, and a variety of lodging and shopping options. Tips to plan your visit are below.

What Airport Can I Fly Into?

There are two airports that are fairly close to both locations: Mobile Regional Airport, 65 miles to Gulf Shores or Pensacola International Airport, 30 miles to Orange Beach, AL.  It is helpful to have a car for the duration of your trip, but there is shuttle and taxi from both airports to the area.  Unfortunately, Uber is not available in the area currently.  If you are staying in Orange Beach and do not have a car or are partying hard and need a ride, check out $4 Island Shuttle.  They offer airport pickup at both airports and operate as a flat fee taxi service in Orange Beach, AL.

Where Should I Stay?

There are lots of options for accommodations in both cities.  The options include a mix of camping facilities, beach houses, high rise condos and hotels.  There are many camping options, ranging from primitive to luxury campgrounds to the cabins and cottages that are available in the Gulf State Park.  One of the best places to search for and make campground reservations is on www.gulfshores.com.  The camp grounds fill up fast during Holiday weekends or festivals, so be sure to make reservations in advance.  There are three great ways to search for beach houses and condos that are used for vacation rentals: Airbnb, VRBO and local real estate agents pages.  We have had the most successes using VRBO, but we recommend all of them to get the best deal.

When to Go:

It is a great place to visit during any part of the year.  The Gulf Coast offers great beach weather from April to October.  Hurricane season starts 1 June through the fall. They are not a common occurrence, but be sure to check the weather report before heading down.  In addition, consider vacation insurance if it is offered when you make your reservation.  There are many festivals held in and around the region during the year.  Two of the most popular festivals held in the area are The Hangout Music Festival and Shrimp Fest  The Hangout Music Festival is held in May and Shrimp Fest is held in October.

What is the Beach Like?

The sand is soft, white and powdery. It’s comfortable to walk on and perfect for kids to play on and build sand castles. The water is generally warm. We often remark that it feels like bath water. The waves vary from hardly existent to moderately rough. It can be crowded on major holidays, Spring Break for area schools and two weeks before area schools return. Otherwise, the beach is moderately crowded and it’s possible to beach areas with no other visitors.

Where to Eat:
When we go to the beach, we only eat out for dinner as a general rule.  We go to the grocery store when we get to town and buy breakfast and lunch food for the duration of our stay.  This saves money, and allows more beach time.  Some of our favorite restaurants  include Cosmo’s, Wolf Bay Lodge, Cafe Grazie, Louisiana Lagniappe, Cotton’s, Caymen Grill, Tacky Jacks, Doc’s Seafood. There are endless options though and locals give the best advice!

The best sauteed crab claws around are at Cafe Grazie in Orange Beach, AL.
Most restaurants offer outside seating in the area. If it’s located on the water, you’ll have an even better view!

Bored of the Beach?

Not sure anyone could get bored of the beach, but if you’re had enough of the water or looking for something to do after dinner, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.  The Hangout  in Gulf Shores is a popular place to hang out because it often has live music and is appropriate for the entire family.  There are also putt- putt courses, a water park, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, a movie theater and shopping areas with a plethora of choices. If you are looking for a tour, there are dolphin cruises, kayaking excursions, parasailing, zip-lining, helicopter rides and sailing trips. There are shops that will rent you watersport vehicles (kayaks, waverunmers, boats).  There is something for everyone and they would love to have you visit.

Erica loving our “private” sunset cruise with Captain Ryan in Orange Beach, AL.
Tara chilling out on the Intercoastal Waterway figuring how much further she has to paddle!
Tara chilling out on the Inter-coastal Waterway figuring how much further she has to paddle!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-014We are excited about receiving the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award from Jessica Lipowski!  Jessica is from Michigan, but now calls Amsterdam home.  She is the permanent host of two twitter chats: #TRLT and #CultureTrav and guest hosts on several others too.  Twitter chats are a great way to meet other people interested in travel from all over the world and #TRLT and #CultreTrav are two of our favorites.  In addition, Jessica is in the process of writing her first non-fiction novel.  The book will focus on the lives of 78 expat entrepreneurs from 47 different countries that own 54 restaurants in Amsterdam.  For more info about  #TRLT and #CultureTrav, her blog or upcoming book,  check out Jessica Lipowski or find her on Twitter @JLipowski

The Rules
You must answer 10 questions assigned by the person who has given you the award and you must then give the award to 10 other bloggers with 10 of your own questions. Below are the questions Jessica asked us:

1. What do you love most about traveling?

We both work full time, so we love using our vacation time and weekends to get out and explore the world around us.  Traveling is a break from the cube life, a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air.  It is also when we feel most alive.
2. What is the earliest memory you have of traveling? How old were you, where did you go and with whom?

The first trip we remember taking was to Cincinnati, OH, our mother’s hometown.  Our mother took us there when we were 6 years old to visit our relatives, go to the zoo and ride amusement park rides at King’s Island.

Erica and I riding a camel at the Cincinnati Zoo when we were 6. Erica’s in the front.
3. Do you have a song you always listen to before setting out on the road? If so, what is the song and why is it special?

We usually listen to whatever happens to be on our iPod, but have no particular travel songs.  It’s always a mixture of country and pop  with some rap thrown in for good measure!
4. What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten? Where did you try it? Would you eat it again?

We are not adventurous eaters, but we have eaten alligator several times.  All times in New Orleans and only when we had a  New Orleans Hurricane around!

Oh no, I got too close! (Tara)

An alligator coming for a visit!
5. When you are traveling, what do you miss most from home?

We miss several creature comforts, but we miss our mom the most!  She is always game for road trips, but does not like to fly.

Our mom goofing off in a hat store in Memphis, TN!
6. Tell us about a unique souvenir you brought home. What makes it so special?

Tara:  I brought home the fist beer stein I drank out of at the first Oktoberfest in Munich I attended. At the time, it seemed like something everyone was doing.  However, when I went in subsequent years, I noticed it got a lot harder. It is classified as stealing and security has cracked down on it a lot more.  Therefore, I suggest buying a new beer stein before leaving the tent if you really want one for a souvenir.

Erica: The earrings I bought in Dublin, Ireland at the Christmas Markets last November.  I love earrings and I usually buy a pair from every place I go, but there were so many good artists at the markets that I had a hard time deciding which pair I liked most and ended up buying five pairs!
7. Tell us about a food you discovered abroad. Have you tried to make it back at home? Please feel free to share the recipe, if you feel so inclined.

We’ve tried to make Vanillekipferl cookies several times, but have never been able to get it exactly right.  They’re originally from Austria, but are popular in Germany as well.  They are mostly associated as holiday cookies, so if you visit Austria or Germany during the winter look out for them.  There are a lot of recipe’s on the internet, but here is one of them:

Vanille Kipfer recipe
8. Share one of your favorite travel quotes and why it resonates with you?

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts” – Mark Twain

We grew up in a mostly homogeneous environment.  When we got the chance to take a trip to Greece and Turkey for a school trip in high school, we knew we had to take the chance and go.  It was through that trip that we realized just how educational and eye-opening travel could be.  Traveling to diverse places makes one aware that the culture they grew up in is only one of a myriad of cultures that exist in the world.

This was taken in Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate park. Erica’s on the right and Tara’s on the left.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

Tara:  I would like to go back to Lindau, Germany.  It’s an island city that is on Lake Constance and boarders both Switzerland and Austria.  The beaches are great in the summer, there are lots of historical things to see, the food is great and it is a convenient place for day trips.

Erica: I would go to Alaska because it is a place I’ve always wanted to go.  I would really like to visit Denali National Park and Preserve, see the amazing wildlife there, a few glaciers and the Northern Lights.
10. What is the next trip you have planned?

We are going to Orange Beach, AL over the Labor Day weekend to spend some time relaxing and doing fun water adventures. We are true to our zodiac sign as Scorpios, we love the water.  In our opinion, the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama are one of the best kept secrets outside of the southern U.S. The sand is soft and compact and the water is usually clear year round.  There is also a good variety of restaurants, which we require because Erica does not eat seafood!

Our Nominees

Ariam Alulu of Ariam_Alula (Arium blogs about Eriteans in diaspora, autism and her travels.  Keep an eye out for new blog posts when she soon moves overseas).

Lindsay Davies of LindzMD (Lindsay starting blogging this year and has lots of travel experience.  Check out her blog for some travel adventure inspiration).

Rachel A Davis of Vagabondbaker (Rachel and her husband travel in a camper truck!  Check out her blog for lots of great blog posts about their travels and recipes).

Richa Gupta of thebluedawn (Richa concentrates her blogging on independent and sustainable travel in India.  If you’re interested in visiting India, she’s the one to ask).

Stephanie Langlet of Haidaloup (Stephanie blogs about Chhattisgarh, India and France.  Check out her blog for lots of good stories and tips).

Ashlee Litfin of asheemayy (Ashlee and her husband (Nick) blog about their native Australia and Cultural, Natural and World Heritage sites. Check out their blog for some great pictures, vlogs and storeis).

Taylor Mondello of taylormondello (Taylor has been blogging for the last few years and is leaving for a RTW in a few months, so watch for her upcoming blog posts).

Janet Newenham of janetnewham (Janet is from Ireland and is among the top Irish bloggers.  Her goal is to visit 50 countries before she turns 30!  Check out her blog for some great posts and pictures).

Chelsea & Kinsey Osborne of TravelinChicks (This sister duo are accomplished travel bloggers who have visited 42 countries and show no signs of slowing down.  Check out their website for lots of good travel info, videos and blogs all about the places they have traveled).

Lissy Salt at lissysalt  (This English blogger has been to 29 different countries and hopes to move to Vancouver, Canada.  Check out her blog for some fun travel stories).


1. Why did you decide to start blogging and when did you start?

2. How many languages can you speak and which ones? Name one language that you cannot speak, but wish you could.

3. What is one of your favorite pictures you took while traveling?  Please post with a description!

4. Are you a coffee or tea person?  What is your favorite shop and city to get your favorite cup from?

5.What is one of your favorite song lyrics and why does it resonate with you?

6. What are your ultimate travel goals?

7. Where is your hometown?  If we visited, what should we be sure not to miss seeing?

8. What is your favorite trip you have taken over the last 12 months?  What makes it so?

9. Who is your favorite book and author?

10.What is one of your favorite blogs you have written and why?  Feel free to provide the link so we can all read it,

Aquariums · Chicago · Museums · Tours · Trip Ideas

TrippinTwins Chicago Trip Details

From the moment we arrived to the moment we left on a plane back home, Chicago was a ‘homerun”.  Chicago is a quintessential American city that has options to satisfy even the most discerning person.  It has professional sports teams, a skyline that rivals New York, high end shopping, world class restaurants, top tier colleges and numerous festivals throughout the year. Chicago is also a beautiful place-with an amazing lakefront and numerous parks. Check out how we spent our first time in the city and some that we hope you will find useful.


The Shedd Aquarium (Museum Island)

The aquarium is one of the most visited aquariums in the world, so it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance to avoid standing in long lines. Our agenda was not finalized when we went to visit the aquarium, so we stood in line for an hour before then deciding to buy the CityPASS. Not again!  This aquarium can easily keep one entertained for 3-6 hours, depending on how many activities you decide to do. Current exhibits include: Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, Abbott Oceanarium, Polar Play Zone, Waters of the World and Wild Reef. Currently, there is a temporary special Amphibian Exhibit as well.  In addition, there are  4D movie experience’s, a stingray touch and a dolphin show available for additional costs.

2. Adler Planetarium (Museum Island)

After spending time at the aquarium we went to athe Adler Planetarium.  Our admission was free with the CityPass and we got the benefits of the Anytime All-Access Pass.  This meant we got access to all exhibits, the Atwood Sphere and shows.  We only had 2 1/2 hours to spend at the Planetarium before meeting up with a friend, but we were able to see the SkyWatch Live show and look at a few exhibits we were interested in seeing.  For a list of all the and shows available, please visit the website.

3. Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Jackson Park)

We went to visit this museum after brunch on a Sunday andt this place was packed.  They have separate lines for people buying tickets and for the CityPass card holders.  Be prepared to stand in line for at least 15 minutes, even with a CityPass because everyone has to pick their shows.  With a CityPass, one show and the regular exhibits are included.  Everything else, costs extra.  We only did what was available with the CityPass and spent over 5 hours in the museum.  The museum is 3 levels and

We had a great time of all three and would highly recommend them for both adults and children. Our recommendation is to research the museum free days/free passes/discount days, or to buy the CityPASS if planning  to visit multiple attractions.


1. Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) River Cruise

This 90 minute cruise was narrated by a very knowledgeable volunteer for the CAF.  There is plenty of seating below and above deck.  If it is a nice day, this is a great way to experience a river cruise while learning about Chicago’s changing relationship with the Chicago River and the architecture along the river front.  With the continuing growth, the guide has a lot of information to provide, so there is very little time for questions/discussion. It is helpful to have a cursory knowledge of Chicago’s most famous architects to keep up with the discussion. It was easy to get up and move around the boat to take pictures.  It is appropriate for anyone of any age or physical ability, although most little kids will not be entertained by the information.

2. Wrigley Field Tour

We are avid Braves fans, but we grew up watching the Cubs. We knew the teams would be playing each other, but were disappointed to find out the games would be in Atlanta while we were in Chicago.  We decided to take a tour of the famed park. We bought group tour tickets for $25/person through the Cubs MLB Website .

This experience was a definite trip highlight and would recommend this to any baseball/park fan. It is a walking tour with steps, so it is helpful to be in moderate physical condition. There were accommodations made for people with strollers/wheelchairs, although some areas are not wheelchair accessible.

Neighborhoods Explored

Whicker Park/Bucktown

This is one of Chicago’s hippest and creative neighborhoods. Due to our schedule, we only had a few hours to explore the area. We had dinner/drinks at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria. This place is busy and very loud, but the service/pizza and beer selection was excellent.

When we finished dinner, we decided to do some exploring. Geek Bar caught our attention since our friend, Jennifer, that came along is into the Comic Con scene and was interested in checking this place out It’s a gaming restaurant that encourages dress up. I did not take pics because I did not want to intrude on the customers.

After dinner, we went to check out Myopic Books, which houses Chicago’s oldest and largest used book collection.

When finished browsing there, we needed a caffeine fix and went to find Warmhole Coffee. It is an 80’s themed coffee house that serves Halfwit roasted coffee drinks and offers various food menu items. Seating is available both inside and on the front sidewalk. The service was friendly and the drinks were delicious.

Magnificent Mile

This is where upscale shopping and magnificent architecture combine with Michelin Star restaurants and upscale hotels to make up Chicago’s most well known area of Chicago. This is also a popular area for tourists to roam streets and sit in green space across form Hershey and Godiva.

We were looking at options for viewing Chicago’s skyline at the highest vantage point and settled on brunch at the Signature Room. It $45 for all you can eat hot entrees/cold bar/desert bar and the server was great and very patient with questions/picture requests. It was a great experience and an easy way to get that 94/95th floor view without having to wait in line or pay $40 fast pass fee.


This is a quaint neighborhood just outside Chicago filled with independent stores and restaurants. We strolled up and down N. Clark Street, the “Main S.” of this town. We made ourow  way to the Brown Elephant, which we saw a number of people entering. It is a non profit resale shops that benefits the Howard Brown Health Center. They have a wide selection of clothing, books, furniture, ace cessories and are known to have 50% furniture sales.

On the day we visited, it was a really hot day, so we decided to trade our normal coffee break with an ice cream break. We saw a sign  advertising root beer floats that looked absolutely scrumptious at George’s Ice Cream and Sweets. It was the perfect choice. We had plans for the evening, so we walked back to Berwyn Station to take the train back to our hotel. This is a neighborhood I could have spent all day in.


Wrigleyville is very much linked with baseball and bars.  The neighborhood is filled with Cubs themed restaurants and merchandise stores.  The neighborhoods in the area are upscale, residential streets lined with brownstones and shade trees. The proximity of the houses to the park allow many homeowners to enjoy views of the game from their rooftops, some even installing seating on their roofs. We walked around there the area a while after finishing the Wrigleyfield Tour, went to a few merchandise stores and had lunch at Uncommon Ground.

Where We Stayed:

Soldier Field

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is a perfect choice if you are attending an event at Soldier Field. It is a 15 minute easy walk to the field. There is a CTA bus line outside the hotel and trains are within a few blocks. Taxis were always available with about a $15 charge to downtown and $12-$15 to Museum Island. The hotel rooms were spacious and the coffee bar/cafe was excellent.

River North

The Godfrey Hotel. A nicely appointed boutique hotel with a short walk to Loyola University and the Magnificent Mile shopping area. The rooms were big and had double vanities. The hotel had a restaurant, which we did not try. There were several coffee shops/restaurants within a short walk and the CTA train lines were half mile walks.


Traveling Partners

What happens when you’ve found your next destination, but are not feeling up to traveling alone?  How do you decide who to invite?  Have you ever been on a trip with someone that seemed like would be the perfect person, but wish you had left them at home?  If you’re planning to travel with a friend/friends, here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way:

1.  Pick a travel partner based on the type of trip.  Your best friend might be the perfect person to attend an out of state concert with, but might not be the person to take on a international trip.  Throw in a foreign language and different customs, some people cannot handle it!

2.  All parties need to agree to the itinerary, so do not let your friend be an inactive participant.  If all parties are on the same page, once you get on the plane/train or car, your trip will be a lot less complicated.

3. Be upfront about things you are willing and are unwilling to do.  If you are afraid of heights and will never go zip lining in a forest, share that information when the trip is being planned.

4.  If money is an issue, make sure all parties are aware of the budget.

5:  If your friend has never stayed in a hostel, make them understand what hostels are and how they differ from hotels.  This is especially true if someone is from the US, where hostels are not as popular as they are in other countries.

6. Compromise, compromise, compromise!  If you do not know how to compromise, travel alone because it’s better for everyone!

7.  Be flexible.  If your friend gets mad and leaves you alone when traveling overseas, it can turn into the best trip instead of the worst!  Traveling alone is sometimes the best thing that can happen.

Do you have any lessons learned from traveling with friends?  If so, please share!

Day Trips · Trip Ideas

Day Trippin’: W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library

W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library

Are you interested in the history of Blues music?  If so, add this museum to your bucket list!  Are you a fan of old log cabins? If so, add this museum to your bucket list!  Do you live near Florence, AL?  If so, go soon!  The museum is open year round from Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM-4 PM and there is only a  $2 admission fee.

Handy. W.C. Handy, was born in the log cabin that currently houses his museum and library. He was born a musical genius in 1873 and had an illustrious musical career as  he was known as the “Father of the Blues”. The log cabin was built by his grandfather, William Wise Handy, who was an African Methodist Episcopal minster after emancipation.  It was important to W.C. Handy that the cabin remain in Florence and be turned into a museum after his death. Later, the cabin was moved from its original location to the current location after the original location was thought to be developed.

WC Handy Museum


The first room contains  family photographs, awards he received, a few of his famous musical instruments such as a piano and letters he received from heads of state and other notable people on display.

Memphis Blues score is displayed on the right side. It was the first ballad W.C. Handy wrote and what some credit with being the first blues ballad in history.


The second room contains the Deagan Organ that belonged to Mr. Handy.  It is unique because this is one of only three originals still known to exist today. Everyone is our group was encouraged to play the organ to get an idea how it sounded when played live. P1070287


After touring the museum and library, we toured the two room original cabin.  The cabin consists of a dining room and a bedroom. The tour guide told our group that most of the items in the rooms were donated, not original to the family.  However, all the items on display are items that fit the time period.

P1070302 P1070294


Looking for something to do at the end of July?  More specifically, interested in going to a music festival in July?  If so, you’re in luck because the W.C. Handy Blues Festival is held annually in Florence, AL in July.  This year it will be held July 17-25.  Here’s the link to the W.C. Handy Festival: http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org/festival.htm.

Chattanooga · Craft Beer Festival · Trip Ideas

Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival

For Mother’s Day weekend, we decided to attend the 3rd Annual Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival hosted by Terminal Brewing Company.  It was held on 9 May, 2015 at the First Tennessee Pavilion from 12:00 PM-5:00 PM and was a 21 and over event.    There were food trucks available to buy food and a band playing country music.  The temps were in the high 80’s, so the pavilion was an ideal location for the event because it is covered and has fans.  The general admission tickets were $50 which entitled attendees to a beer tasting glass, beer to taste and water.   We decided to buy VIP tickets that entitled us to access to seating, snacks and inside bathrooms.  The total price for 3 VIP tickets was $259.17 or $86.39pp.  This option is ideal for visitors who prefer not to bring their own seating because the VIP section provided a few table and chair sets and a leather couch seating area.  In addition, there was beer available for tasting along with various snack options.  Among the snack options provided were chicken tacos, salads, shrimp, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, hummus and chips and cookies.

Mom with her Black Abbey dark beer!
Mom with her Black Abbey dark beer!

There were about 50 breweries represented at the festival.  Sam Adams and Sweetwater were the two most well known breweries in attendance. The majority of the breweries at the festival were from TN.  Other states represented were AL, NC and MI.   Most stands had representatives from their company to talk to the customers, but a few had volunteers filling in. I have to give a shout out to The Black Abbey Brewing Company located in Nashville, TN.  My mom informed their representative that she only liked dark beer and was disappointed they only had light beers available to sample since their name had Black in it.  The guy ended up giving her his secret stash of dark beer!   We ended the day by having dinner at Terminal Brewing Company.  It was crowded, but totally worth the 40 minute wait.  The beer and food were excellent!  If you are visiting Chattanooga, this place is a must.  They take pride on the quality of their hops and food.  I ordered a hamburger, not expecting much, and came away thinking it was the best hamburger I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Have you ever been to Terminal Brewing Company?  What is your favorite beer fest you have attended?