Thursday, May 30, 2013

Most Crowded Airports in the US

The airport can (and usually is) the worst part of traveling. You have to deal with crowds of people and long lines that at sometimes seem to stand still. When I travel I get into what I call "airport mode" and I walk about 10x faster than usual and I am on high alert! I start taking all my stuff of to go through security as soon as I get in line (an I wish others would do the same). 

Here are the top ten most crowded airports in the US (most are airline hubs)

1 - Hartsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport
2 - Charlotte Douglas International Airport
3 - Los Angeles International Airport - Had a layover here when flying to Hawaii, thought taking the tram was going to be a problem but it wasn't. We made our flight with time to spare!
4 - Chicago O'Hare International Airport
5 - Seattle - Tacoma International Airport
6 - McCarran International Airport - I have never had a problem here, employees are trained for large crowds
7 - Denver International Airport
8 - San Francisco International Airport
9 - Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
10 - Newark Liberty International Airport - Again, this airport's employees are trained for crowds

Have you ever had to change planes at any of these airports? Have a story about it? Share!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Under Bite: The Tail of Two Bulldogs

How was everybody's Memorial Day weekend? Mine was pretty good, my in-laws came into town so we hung out and grilled and fried food (not weight watchers friendly I might add). We also closed on our house! So now we are officially renters (for the next 40 days). Anyway...on to the subject of my post, my babies :)

As Coco gets older she is letting us photograph her more (since she is able to sit still). Lola is off all her meds from coming down with pneumonia but about a week after that she had a horrible allergic reaction to something and we had to take her in to get a benadryl  shot :( my poor sweet thing. She is all better now!

{No room for Mom and Dad on the couch!}

{Her tongue is too big for her mouth!}

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer Savings and Staycations

Vacations and traveling can always be costly and not everyone has the money to do something grand…or you might not have the time. With school almost out and summer vacation approaching here are a few ways you can have fun while you stay in your own home.

Be a backyard explorer.  No matter where you live there is a state or national park within a day's drive. Explore your own state or the state next door. Try finding a local blog that lists the free or cheap things to do. Here is one for Houston, Houston on the Cheap.

Time it right. If you need to stay in a hotel nights are usually cheaper during the middle of the week when they have less people visiting. If you can't go during the week then maybe a fun camping trip is in order at one the many state and national parks!

Arrive armed with deals. No matter where we go I always search for a coupon book before we leave. When we went to Key West I was able to find some awesome coupons for restaurants and activities. When printing out coupons for restaurants I was print two, you never know how good a place might be and you may just want to go back!

Keep meals cheap and cheerful. When you have a family sitting down for a meal can be expensive (especially if you have growing boys!). Keeping a cooler in your car with drinks and stacks bought at grocery store can save you from the mark-ups gas stations charge. When booking a hotel, stay at one that offers a free breakfast (and take an extra yogurt or two for the road), and plan to picnic at least once a day. And when you do treat yourselves to a restaurant, do it at lunch time when menus are less expensive (and you may have leftovers for dinner).

To see the full list and article, click here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Affordable US Getaways

Traveling with kids can be hard sometimes most of the time. I remember when I was younger having to sit next to my younger brother in the 3-4 hour car ride to the beach was just the worse! Some of these trips would have made an awesome road trip with friends! So, if you're in driving distance of some of these US cites you're bound to have a good time! Or maybe some of these might be some staycations for you. I have been to 4 out of 10 of these…maybe because 3 of them are in my home state of Texas!

No. 1 Kansas City, MO 

Average hotel summer rate is $137. You'll have free admission to three of Kansas City’s main art museums, as well as the Hallmark Visitors Center and the Boulevard Brewing Company. And don’t forget to try some of that famous KC BBQ!

No. 2 Nashville, TN 

As a lifelong fan of country music I have always wanted to go to Nashville but have yet to make it there. Seems like there is so much to do and see. This would have made an awesome road trip in college!

No. 3 San Antonio, TX 

I was born and raised right outside of San Antonio and I do agree that there is plenty to do and see here. You can check out some suggestions I made in a post about Staycations. San Antonio has two theme parks (Sea World & Six Flags and Schlitterbahn is about 45 mins north in New Braunfels) and great zoo! You can also get a history lesson at the Alamo!

No. 4 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. 

I have visited this are twice during the summers and it doesn’t get much better! The Land of 1,000 lakes should keep you occupied if you love water sports! Although I haven’t been here for a vacation or to site see I still had a great time.

No. 5 Memphis, TN

I'm not really sure why Memphis made this list since Forbes has it listed as one of 2013's most dangerous cites….let's not go here.

No. 6 Salt Lake City, UT

I bet Salt Lake is wonderful during the summer. I would love to go and get some hiking in if I ever make it out of the airport. While during a layover here is when I was introduced to this wonderful breakfast concoction probably about 10-13 years ago. Toasted bagel, melted cheese, and ham….yum! But only for special occasions :)

No. 7 Houston, TX

What can I say about my current city…well honestly not much and I don’t see why it's on this list. I don’t really think there is a whole lot to here. Since it is such a big city we do get some good concerts and there is always a play or two running at the Hobby Center. We have our professional sports if that’s your thing (but it's not mine) and I guess we're close to a beach (but not a pretty one). There is NASA for all you space fans out there. And its effing HOT!!! Not just temperature wise but also because of the humidity. If you do want to visit Houston come during the winter.

No. 8 Savannah, GA

I have always wanted to go here…I feel like Savannah is the quintessential southern town!

No. 9 Austin, TX

If you're in Austin you're ready to have a good time. The city is youthful thanks to the University of Texas and all off the live music. Don’t forget to hike some of the hills and take a dip in Barton Springs.

No. 10 Providence, R.I.

I have never been to Providence but I can imagine that its wonderful during the summers!

Have you been to any of these cities?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

World's Strangest Beaches

1 - Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
When we visited Hawaii we went to 2 black sand beaches and we thought that the beach at Pololu Valley Lookout was a better beach with much finer sand. It was a bit of a hike to get to versus Punaluu Beach which you can just park and walk right to the beach. But as you can see in the picture below the sand is coarse. 
{Punaluu Beach, Hawaii 2011}
{Pololu Beach, Hawaii 2011}

2 - Boulders Beach, Simon's Town, South Africa
3 - Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
4 - Maho Beach, St. Maarten
5 - Gulpiyuri Beach, Llanes, Spain
6 - Zlatni Rat, Brac, Croatia
7 - Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California - Better see it before everyone picks up all the glass!
8 - Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii
Unfortunately when we went to Hawaii we were not able to visit this beach, but its on our list when we got back!
9 - Genipabu, Natal, Brazil
10 - Red Sand Beaches of Prince Edward Island, Canada
11 - Bowling Ball Beach, Point Arena, California
12 - Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
13 - Anjuna Beach (Cow Beach), Goa, India

Find the article and see pictures here

Have you ever been to any of these beaches? 

Friday, May 17, 2013


This month's pinspiration idea was all about making the home we were selling look inviting and green! I saw this cute little DIY on planting your own lemon seeds into a coffee cup and having a cute little desk plant (I was going to place ours in the kitchen). When I found this originally on Pinterest it didn't have any instructions on what to do so I was stuck to interpreting the pictures. After planting my little seeds I found the instructions and they went something like this:

1 - Take the seeds out of the lemon and let them sit over night in water (the overnight is the part I missed)
2 - Then plant your seeds in the dirt you put in your bowl or mug
3 -Add some decorative rocks if you like
4 - Watch your seeds grow (mine have not gotten as big as they show…as you can see)

Now, the growing part took longer than I anticipated so I wasn't able to have them on display for our home showings but over time they have grown and look pretty cute!

Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cheap Places to Retire Abroad

I found this article written by Michael Foster and wanted to share. You can find the original article here. In it he talks about some awesome alternatives to retirement, where you're biggest expense is probably getting there. 

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thanks to its weather and low cost of living, Thailand has been on retirees' radars for years, and Chiang Mai is cheap, even by Thai standards.

"For under $2,000, I live like a king," says Barry, a Canadian who relocated to Chiang Mai in early 2009. Since then, he has rented a 1,200-square-foot condo for a little more than $400 per month. Groceries are no big concern, usually running him about $50 per month. Restaurants cost about twice that at $100 per month -- and he goes out to eat almost every day.

Barry says that Chiang Mai has just about everything he needs. "There are Western-style restaurants, entertainment venues and social events," he says. The city has several modern hospitals. "I had an emergency spinal fusion two years ago at a cost of 280,000 baht (about $9,300 at the time). In Canada, medical coverage is free, but the waiting time is long. Here, the service is almost instantaneous and very professional."

More routine medical issues are so inexpensive, Barry says, that he doesn't need insurance to cover them. "Going to a dentist for a checkup and cleaning is 500 baht," or about $17.

2. Guam

Guam is an often-overlooked alternative for American retirees, despite its many benefits. Because it's a U.S. territory, English is spoken everywhere on the island, and its currency is the U.S. dollar. And, at least on the surface, much of the country's culture and politics will seem familiar to many Americans.

Situated 3,700 miles southwest of Honolulu, Guam is a lower-cost alternative to Hawaii while sharing the same climate. One-bedroom apartments in Guam can rent for as low as $400 per month, with luxury units facing the sea costing $1,000 per month. American citizens can buy property on the island; three-bedroom houses often sell for less than $200,000.

Since the territory is a small, remote island, most items have to be imported, which means groceries can be more expensive than on the U.S. mainland. Meats, most vegetables and some dairy products can cost twice as much. Restaurants, however, are usually comparable in cost to their American counterparts.

Besides enjoying the weather, retirees in Guam can use both American and Guam-based insurers -- including Medicare -- to cover their health care costs. All major medical services are available at Guam Memorial Hospital, which is certified and accredited by several federal agencies in the U.S.

3. Valencia, Spain

The subprime mortgage crisis caused property values to plummet everywhere, including Spain, making the Mediterranean nation suddenly affordable for a number of retirees. The euro crisis notwithstanding, the southeastern coastal city of Valencia offers hundreds of villas, apartments and houses for less than $200,000. New one-bedroom apartments in the city sell for less than 50,000 euros ($65,575). For those who do not want to invest in real estate, rentals are cheap and plentiful. A two-bedroom apartment in the center of Valencia rents for 600 euros per month ($780).

Groceries sold in traditional open-air markets cost the same or less than supermarket prices back in the States, while low property taxes keep the cost of living low for expats in Spain. The country offers free public health coverage, and additional health insurance rarely exceeds $300 per month. Prescription medicines are almost always a fraction of what they would be in America.

Valencia is a great option for retirees who want to spend their golden years traveling. Its airport offers direct flights to France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Morocco and Norway. Round-trip flights to the rest of Europe often cost less than 150 euros ($195).

4. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Although Buenos Aires is pricier than most parts of South America, it is still a bargain compared to most American cities. A one-bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood can be rented for less than $400 per month or bought for less than $70,000. Internet, cable and electricity combined rarely costs more than $100 per month. The city's comprehensive subway system and buses make transportation cheap. One ride on the subway costs 2.50 Argentine pesos (about 50 cents).

Health care in Argentina is a bargain, thanks to the country's public health care system and surplus of doctors. The quality and affordability of Argentina's medical services has led to a booming medical tourism industry. In 2011, more than 100,000 visitors came to Argentina to receive medical care, according to Argentina's National Institute of Tourism Promotion.

For most expats, the costliest part of Buenos Aires is dining in the city's European-style cafes, restaurants and night spots. While movies are relatively cheap in Argentina (a ticket costs less than $8 in most places), dinner out at a restaurant usually costs between $25 and $45. An espresso will cost around $2.50 and can be found in any of the city's thousands of small open-air cafes.

5. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan is about 75 miles away from Guatemala City and is surrounded by volcanoes and villages where Mayan traditions still thrive. The area has perennial spring-like temperatures ranging from the 60s to 80s Fahrenheit. Several waterfront houses are available for rent on the lake; a three-bedroom house costs around $300 per month to rent.

Other expenses remain extremely low in this retiree-friendly part of Guatemala. "Restaurants cost about $10 per dinner and $3 (to) $4 for breakfast," says Andy Lee Graham, founder of The cheapest foods are also the healthiest; fresh fruits and vegetables cost about a third less in local markets than they do in the U.S.

For those who require assisted living, a full-time personal nurse can be hired for $15 to $20 per day, says Graham. "A maid is about $4 (to) $10 per day."

Graham recommends using taxis or tuk-tuks in Guatemala, which he notes are very cheap. Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled motorized versions of rickshaws. "Tuk-tuks will go between cities for about $3 (to) $5 per city. Inside metropolitan areas, they cost 75 cents for one trip." He warns that, "Driving a car is dangerous, but taxis are safe."

Andy estimates that retirees need $1,000 per month to live near Lake Atitlan.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Free Things on Flights

Sorry for not posting as much lately, we are pretty busy over here moving and packing on the weekends. I've even cancelled my gym membership because as soon as we get up my husband is ready to pack and load the truck up!

I found this article written on free stuff that you get on your flights (if you ask) so I thought I would share. Here is the list

1 - Sanitizing Wipes: I never thought to ask for these but it makes total sense! I will definitely be asking for some on my next flight (and probably bring some of my own!)

2 - The Whole Can: Some flights I've been on automatically give you the whole while others don't. Some times I think they are just being generous and other times when I ask for like the cranberry/apple juice they give me the whole can because nobody else wants that. But go ahead, ask for the whole can if you want it!

3 - Wing Pens for Kids: I remember getting these when I was a kid and I LOVED them! I also remember being able to go into the cockpit and talk to the pilots (see number 10)

4 - Basic Medicine and Bandages: I can see this on the bandages but the medicine I'm not sure. I once had to beg the flight attendant on my flight from Frankfurt to Houston for some sort of cold medicine and she finally said, "Okay, but you found it on the floor" wink, wink.

5 - Water Bottle Refills: Since you cant bring much of any liquid past TSA and everyone is all about the environment these days they will be more than happy to fill your bottle with some water...but do you want airplane water? I would rather have the bottled water and nothing from the airplane tap...gross!

6 - Short-Term Babysitting: I guess flight attendants are required to watch young ones while a single traveling parent gets up to use the lavatory or stretch their legs...good to know!

7 - Helping Find a Doctor: Flight attendants are going to be able to help you find a doctor the fastest in case of an emergency. I was on a flight where they made a call for a doctor. We were about an hour and a half in and then had to turn around for a medical emergency and then sat on the tarmac for another hour because of the heavy landing (landing with a full tank of gas) and then finally on our way. Landed in Newark, NJ 14 hours least I with friends!

8 - Seconds:Want more snacks? Just ask! On longer flights they might not have an extra meal but they may have an extra dinner roll or something. But these days they are charging you for everything.

9 - Help Switching Seats: They can assist you in this but in the end you're only going to be able to move if that person that is sitting in the seat you want is willing to move.

10 - Cockpit Tours: Even though it might seem like they don't do this anymore pilots are still willing to let kids get a view of the cockpit!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Most Cliche Tourist Photos

I found this list posted on facebook today and wanted to share. I am guilty of doing many of these (some are when I was little). And to be honest, I would still do some of these if I ever make it there.

1 - Pinching the Statue of Liberty
2 - Being the Statue of Liberty - I'm sure I did this when I was there and like 13 years old...and thinking it was cool
3 - Pushing the leaning Tower of Pisa

4 - Crossing Abbey Road

5 - Posing with a Royal Guard

6 - Meditating at the Taj Mahal
7 - Miniaturizing shots in Salar de Uyuni
8 - Holding the Eiffel Tower
9 - Posing as Christ the Redeemer
10 - Touching the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza
11 - Squishing the Washington Monument
12 - Star-walking on Hollywood Boulevard
13 - Drinking from a Parisian Fountain
14 - Feeding pigeons in St. Mark's Square
15 - Covered in Dead Sea mud
16 - Taking a call in a London phone booth

17 - Riding the San Francisco trolley - Been there and done that but dont have the picture
18 - Kissing the Sphinx's butt
19 - Tango dancers in La Boca, Buenos Aries
20 - And you cant forget the obligatory "jumping picture" - I think these are the stupidest pictures EVER!!

Have you ever done any of these poses?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Travel RoundUp

I hope everyone's May is going well and the crazy cold front that blew in MORE snow for some hasn't ruined any summer plans. It got into the mid 40's here in Houston, TX which is SUPER uncommon since we're usually in the 90's by now!

1 - Check out the new WOW factors that will be on board the new Quantum class of ships for Royal Caribbean!

2 - We have all seen the news and the struggles Carnival Cruise Line is having with their ships lately. Well they have decided to invest $300 million in to ship improvements! Here's hoping there are no more stranded ships!

I am just glad this didn't happen on my Carnival Cruise back in 2008!

{My trip in Mexico via Carnival Cruise, 2008}

3 - Imagine this, you on a flight headed for you tropical dream vacation in Bali…and then your pilot misses the runway and you're now in the plane that’s in the ocean! See more pictures here!

4 - Plan on going to Emirate any time soon? Well don’t bring your bikini, you'll get fined!

5 - Been to Vegas in the past year? Well if you took a taxi you have been duped! Turns out taxi drivers have been taking the long way round to get more money.

I often wondered about this, I mean tourists relying on taxi drivers are so vulnerable. When I was in Munich we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel and it cost up 65€. When our tour guide asked us how we got to the hotel and we told him he said oh no, you were charged WAY too much! But what could we have done? I don’t speak German so I couldn't have told him which way to go…oh well

And when we were in Vegas last year our cab driver actually got in an accident! He just pulled right out into traffic! It was kind of crazy but no one was hurt and we just walked out of the cab and hopped into another!

7 - Check out this cool long lost city beneath the sea in Egypt.  Heracleion was believed to be long gone or a possible myth but it looks like someone may have found it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Extreme Travelers: The Kellogg Family

Happy May everybody! This year is flying by!

I think most people day dream about just quitting their jobs and day to day life and pack up and take an adventure. Some people do this during their retirement, buy an RV and head out for the great unknown. Well the Kellogg family thought, why wait? Let's start this adventure now! So Dan, Susie, their 12 kids (oldest 19 to youngest 7 months) and 2 dogs sold their house and started their carefree life RV-ing around North America. 

Dan and Susie home school their kids and they are lucky enough to be able to work remotely from laptops (Dan is software engineer). After school is done the kids are free to have all the adventures they want - swim in the ocean or lake, hike some trails or just mess around the camp site. You can read all about the Kelloggs and their adventures on any of the links provided below.

{Blog}             {Facebook}                 {Twitter}          {YouTube}

If you could do something like what they have done would you? If so where would you go first?

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