1. Our passion is international events politics and religion. Growing up in the south, we were raised not to talk much about these subjects. Now, with the right group of people, these are subjects we can debate for hours.
2. When we have a bad day, I run to the closest place that offers good cheese fries. It’s a coping mechanism from my college days. Tara likes to go have a cold German Hefeweizen. Hey, they are both cheaper than a shopping spree.
3. We both struggle constantly with our career choice. We like the challenge of the work itself, but can’t stand the political nature/arbitrariness of the decisions that are made on a constant basis.
4. We do not mind revisiting some places over and over again. Our goal isn’t to see the world, but to have as many experiences as possible in the places we enjoy.
5. I will search far and wide in each city usually to buy handcrafted earrings. I probably have 150 pairs of earrings now. Tara does not have any particular thing she buys on trips.
6. Our favorite food anywhere is Mexican. The best we’ve had so far is in Los Angeles, Chicago and our hometown.
7. We both were born with an eye defect, which is a fairly common birth defect in premie’s. We had eye surgery when we were 3. We still have bad eyesight, which seems to bewilder people. While I wear glasses everyday, Tara usually wears contacts.
8. Looking younger than we are has as many disadvantages as advantages. We fight to be taken seriously in the workplace and get carded everywhere, which is just annoying.
9. We have only had 2 main hairdressers throughout our life. Even going away to college and moving to VA didn’t change that. We’ve been going to our current one consistently since we were in 9th grade.
10. We are both Big city and small town people. We can be comfortable in any city of any size. We both debate between staying where we are and moving on to a bigger city. Still up for debate.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
Orange Beach, Alabama is one of our favorite vacation destinations in the United States. We have been going there since we could walk to enjoy the white sanded beaches. Tourism has increased over the years, attracting people all over the Southeastern US while maintaining the city’s small town vibe. If you prefer your vacation include some adventure, there is a plethora of options. Water adventures available include deep sea fishing, hang-gliding, sailing and kayaking. We usually spend most of our days at the beach, relaxing. This time we added some activities to the mix and signed up for kayaking and sailing adventures. These are a few snapshots of our favorite things we captured from out trip last week.
One of our favorite seafood restaurants in the area. We have been loyal customers since the first time we went to its former location as kids.
Our favorite sunset pic of the trip, taken outside of Wolf Bay Lodge
Outside Tacky Jacks “Happy Harbour”
View of ocean from condo balcony in the early morning
First time kayaking -Intercoastal Water Way and Bay (Tara is pictured)
Fun in the sun and water (Erica pictured)
One of the best things we did this trip: sunset sail! (Tara pictured)
We always enjoy checking out newly discovered breweries/distilleries Recently, we were told about a successful family distillery that offers free tours and tastings close by. When we found out that their original location was located in a former school-house at base of the Cumberland Mountain Range, we knew we had to go. Recently,our hometown decided to turn a former school campus into a beer campus called Campus No. 805, which left more than a few people curious as how that was going to work out. So, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to actually see how this successful Prichard’s Distillery used their space.
Where is Prichard’s Distillery located?
Prichard’s Distillery has two locations: the original distillery is located in Kelso, TN and the newest one near Nashville, TN. The location near Nashville, TN (Barbara Mandrell’s former estate) is a bigger facility that includes both a restaurant and Inn. Ideally, one could make a weekend trip out of visiting both locations. Since we were interested to see the distillery in the old school-house and had limited time, we decided to tour the distillery in Kelso, TN that operates out of a red brick school that was built in 1939 and closed in 1979.
What makes the Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, TN unique?
Even though the building has been re-purposed as a distillery, it still feels very much like a school. Former classrooms now serve as welcoming, bottling, and tasting areas. A former office serves as the purchasing/check out room. Basketball hoops still hang in the former gym that now serve as the shipping and receiving area. In this decidedly non-corporate place, it manages quite well to come together to be the quaint small batch craft distillery it is.
What happens when you arrive?
When you first walk into the entryway, it feels like arriving at someone’s home. This is refreshing because it has a such an un-corporate feel to it and you feel like special guests. We just walked in and found our way to the office to inquire what the process was to take a tour. We were told the next tour would start within the next 20 minutes and to make ourselves comfortable in the welcome area. This gave us a few minutes to walk around, take some pictures and look at the products on display. Our favorite part of this room was how their entire alcohol product line was proudly displayed, on a former teacher’s desk in the front and center of the room. After a few minutes other people started to arrive followed by our guide. Our guide introduced himself and then put on a video for us to watch that described the history of the distillery. After the video was over, the tour started.
What do I see on the tour?
The tour lasted about 30 minutes, which was perfect for this size of a distillery. Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to answer any question anyone threw at him. The tour was a basic overview of the business that covered every step in the process-from making the batches of product, storage and shipping. We started with the shipping and receiving center in the old gymnasium. Everyone was fascinated by the basketball hoops that are still hanging. Next, we followed our guide outside to view the holding barrels then to the old maintenance building to see where the bronze stills are located that do the heart of the distilling work. We were then led back inside to the bottling room and finished in the tasting room, which were both old classrooms. We learned the key factor that distinguishes Prichard’s rum from Caribbean rum, Prichard’s uses table quality molasses to make rum instead of the black strap molasses that is often used for Caribbean rum. Our guide also explained how being a small batch craft distillery lends well to experimentation and allows them to keep experimenting with flavors.
The opportunity to check out the building and the free tour and tastings made it a great day trip. One cool thing we learned during the tasting is that their most popular product, the Sweet Lucy liqueur (70 proof), is so popular a portion of every sale is donated to the non-profit A Soldier’s Child. We were told by an acquaintance to make the trip just to try and buy their key lime rum, but at the end of the tasting, we left with a mix of several different kinds of rum, whiskey and liqueurs. This distillery is about 15 miles from Jack Daniels Distillery, so make this stop a priority on your next trip to Lynchburg, TN.
We 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
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.
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!
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.
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:
“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.
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!
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,
When you read that over 40% of Americans do not take their allotted vacation days, does it shock you? Does it lead you to think about how the corporate culture in your current job/last job might contribute to this phenomenon? We decided to take a look at how this statistic fits in with our careers by looking at practices we have observed and experienced.
We work for the same company, literally 2 rows from each other. This means that our experience is similar because we follow the same corporate policies. The differences lie in the different management styles of our bosses.
In our office, 6 weeks of annual leave can be saved. This has positive and negative consequences. Typically, the people that earn the most amount of leave have been in the company/position for many years and are often in Senior analyst/leadership positions. Many of these people are also self created workaholics. They typically work long hours, earn credit for the additional time worked, and only take the time off that is over the 6 weeks that can be saved. If they happen to be driven by the need for control, many will work even when they are on leave.
Now not all people are obviously workaholics. Others, are planners. They take only the leave earned beyond the six weeks to ensure they are never without any. They realize leave is limited and feel that saving it is the best way to plan for a future event.
The less Senior workers typically earn less leave and have less leave to take. This is the category we fit into. Many take as little as possible so they can build a reserve balance. The caveat to this is that they are the ones often left in the office while the Senior ones are out and they generally have less available time to take leave.
Then, there is the management and corporate culture factor. It’s the nature of many corporate cultures to drill into their employees psyche that “everyone is replaceable”. While that does have some truth to it and may lessen the blow of losing any one person, it often has other ramifications. It leads to thoughts of “It’s easier to go to work than take leave” and “there is never a good time to take leave”.
One of our bosses makes comments about how he has to live through our stories and comments that we are never there because “we are too busy traveling”. His career is the most important part of his life and likes others to have the same goals he has. The other one encourages employees to take vacations and is more than happy to fit in work around family life.
We both grew up taking vacations and realized when we started working full time and had a “real, grown up” job that taking time off and traveling would remain a priority in our life. Taking time off to us 95% of the time equates to taking a trip. These trips are not always to somewhere new. There is comfort in returning to somewhere you love and are familiar with. The important thing is to get out of your hometown and spend some time with different people and experience another place.
With the positive experiences travel has brought us, we know that the U.S. has got to do a better job encouraging work/life balance. It is our opinion that corporate culture as a whole must shift to more companies allowing telework on a routine basis and openly speak about the health risks associated with not taking time off. Most people like to work and make a positive contribution to their workplace & maintain cordial relationships with their coworkers, but companies have to do more to foster this.
What is your experience with working and vacation time? Does your company have policies that encourage the use of peace and work life balance?