Travel Tips for Planning an Affordable Weekend Trip

I love taking trips with B to new places we’ve never been! We always try to get a couple trips in throughout the year, some bigger and grander than the ones, and some are just longer weekends away that are more affordable and sprinkled into the mix. If you’re a working couple like B and I, not only are we juggling busy family/friend commitments and house project bucket lists, but have this thing called PTO that makes traveling as much as we want too somewhat limited… especially when you throw other life items into that PTO mix. So I’ve got a few travel trips to not only help plan out more trips, but also how to save some pennies while still exploring and eating your way through new places.
TravelTips(5)Ok! Here is how to plan an affordable and fun weekend getaway!

1. Scheduling A “Long” Weekend. We always like to try and plan trips around holiday weekends, that we already get a day off from work for, or a timeframe when we’re already going to be taking some PTO off.  For me, I like to take my birthday off, and the next day (because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and why not) — so I already had two days that budded up to a weekend! Leaving on a late night flight, on a Thursday night can also help eliminate the need of taking multiple days, giving you a full three day weekend!  If you’re looking to take advantage of those summer long weekends (Memorial Day, Labor Day or 4th of July) — you’ll want to plan a bit more in advance to avoid higher fees or not being able to secure a place to stay!

2. Picking Your Destination – Part 1. If you have a destination in mind, then head down to tip #2. If you’re not quite sure on how to figure out where to go, there are a few ways! First determine how you want to get there, flying or driving?

    • Driving: Then if you’re driving determine what your maximum drive time will be. From there, I’m pretty old school and will pop over to Google Maps and do some ‘Destination’ plugging into of some near-ish cities or destinations that sound adventurous. Last March we headed to Chicago because it was a cool 6-hour drive and within our time limit, plus we’d never been there together – and previously we drove to Washington D.C. for a surprise trip that B planned for our anniversary.
    • Flying: Since we are planning for a longer weekend (3-4 days) we went to our local airports website and searched their nonstop flight destinations.  Our airport flies to a lot of Florida destinations, and a few in between so I started my search there — now head to Part 2. Looking for early flight times and ensuring you’re on the nonstop are also clutch to making sure you’re getting the most time and bang for buck!

TravelTips(1)3. Picking Your Destination – Part 2. Affordable is the next piece of the puzzle, we wanted to keep our long weekend trip under $1,000 and even more so if possible ($500 – $600 was our sweet spot).  So I popped onto Expedia and did a combo Flight and Hotel search for a few destinations based on the nonstop flights from our airport. We checked Miami, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, and even Charleston but they were just a tad pricey for what we wanted, and where we would want to stay in those spots.  Then I pivoted to a few East Coast cities: New York City and Philly. Since we’ve been to NYC before, we passed — and Philly was hitting our sweet spot, and the Expedia search helped me narrowed down the airlines and accommodations.

Pro-tip: When you have your accommodations and airline determined, check the native websites for those vs. booking directly through Expedia — you just might find it cheaper directly through the airline and hotel (we did!)

4. Finding Your Accommodations.  In Chicago we opted for a smaller boutique hotel, because we were able to find it more affordable than mainstream hotels (it was also in the perfect location).  Again, I looked for smaller, boutiquey spots and found Sonder — they lease out rooms in buildings in the area, all with a fun style and unique name. It’s also close to the airport, so that will make it easy to grab an Uber to and from!

    • When you’re considering where to stay, again I like to pull up a map and look at key landmarks/destinations that we want to visit and look for some that are generally walkable!
    • Reading reviews is also a great way to gain insight into smaller boutiques or spots that aren’t as mainstream like a Hyatt or Marriott.

Pro-tip: If you can pick a spot that friends or family live to save on accommodations, do it!  Even asking where family or friends might have a house or time share can be another affordable way to cover the cost of your stay!

TravelTips(2)5. Figuring Out Where to Eat. This is going to sound SOOO millennial, but it’s how I’ve found some great gems on all of our trips: Instagram. I start following traveling accounts for our destination and find all the foodie accounts to start creeping and finding all of the spots.  From donuts, to bakeries, brunches and the best dining spots — you can literally find it all and then pop over to their websites to make reservations or see full menu offerings.

I also like to find places to eat by browsing through OpenTable — this makes it easy to book a reservation for the night your looking for, and there are often user generated and restaurant provided photos, ratings and reviews and easy to flip through menus for all their offerings. Another great way is asking for recommendations from friends or family if you know they’ve been!

Pro-tip: Make a Reservation! If you can, make reservations to ensure you’re getting into the hottest spots, when you want to eat, especially in bigger cities like Chicago, Washington D.C. and NYC the lay of the land is through reservations.
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6. Planning Activities. Heading to a cities travelers bureau via social media or online is another great resource to find key locations to visit or a little less mainstream spots.  Strategically planning activities around your hotel or farther away on certain days can help you optimize your travel days. Also purchasing any tickets ahead of time to visit popular landmarks is crucial, especially if you want to check those off on the early visit times!

Planning and taking that weekend getaway, and checking off more cities on your bucket list doesn’t have to eat up all your PTO or drain you bank account! We will be heading to Philly next month and I’ll be sure to share in my recaps a round up of our travel expenses along with all our yummy eats and traveled spots. Have questions? Leave a comment, below!

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Weekend Recap – Break from Reality

I’ve been a bit stressed out lately, and but came up pretty suddenly this past week. As we were driving away from the city late Friday night, I could start to feel some relief. But it wasn’t until about midway through Saturday when I could feel my tense body finally start to relax and the neck pain that had been lingering for the last 2-days was finally gone – that’s when I realized, I really needed this weekend away from reality with my little family.
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Initially the weekend was supposed to be a girls trip with an afternoon at the spa, but some things came up so B was stuck with me heading to one of our favorite spots, the cabin.  The cabin is literally in the middle of no where, there is no wifi, although there is TV, but it’s largely you, nature and just a break from the real world.  Even on weekends when you’re home with no plans, you always find something to do – clean the house, laundry, yard work – or you think you should be doing something besides nothing.  But that’s not how it is at the cabin, sleeping in is ok, watching Shark Tank marathons and day drinking is also totally acceptable.
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We also ventured to our favorite spot near the cabin, Southern Tier Brewery Co. – and yes they had our favorite seasonal beverages on tap, Pumking and Warlock.  The weather was perfect and we even brought Moz along this time! Usually we leave her behind at the cabin, but after a walk around the property at the cabin, she had plenty of exercise and just hung with us at the brewery.  We also grabbed some yummy eats at STBC – our go-to the pretzels and then split the BLT this time, which was so good! They never disappoint from a brews, food or atmosphere perspective. It was the perfect breakup in the day.
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The leisurely mornings might be my favorite – taking Moz out around the property for her morning routine, and then drinking coffee before B whips up a tasty breakfast is always so relaxing because we’re never usually in any rush for anything. And by the time breakfast is done and cleaned up, it’s about time to take Moz for a longer walk so she can take in all the fresh smells of nature, chase chipmunks and watch frogs jump into the pound.  Friday night after we got there a huge storm rolled in and we fell asleep to the rain pounding on the roof of the cabin, it was so relaxing and so perfect.
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As we were driving back to reality, I was reflective on the fact that we all need to take a little extra time for ourselves, an intentional break from the day to day, from the stresses of the work week and everything else. It was also a good reminder of making the most out of changed plans and still taking time away. Even if it’s a simple getaway for a night or two, it’s refreshing for the soul and it helps us stay sane.

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Travel: #EmnBtoCbus

We snuck away this weekend to visit some friends in their new city: Columbus, Ohio.  Although it was a quick 24-hour trip for us, we seemed to squeeze in some pretty major places for tasty eats and drinks in addition to being able to catch up with our long lost friends!

We kicked off our festivities with a trip to North Market, which is an indoor market that is open 7-days a week with a variety of food vendors, shops and delicious smells.  Whether your shopping for lunch, grabbing meat for a dinner or fresh produce for an upcoming meal.  We were able to try a decent amount of the vendors like Brezel, Destination Donuts, Firdous Express and Hot Chicken Takeover, everything was delicious.  Oh and did I mention, you could walk around sipping the drink of your choice?  I opted for prosseco, yum!
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From North Market, we ventured to Wolf Ridge Brewing – this space is impressive with an intimate dining space, event room and then a back tap room giving you that local brewpub feel.  We hung out in the taproom, ordered a few tasting flights and discussed the many flavors of the beers.  With a pit stop back to the house to check on Moz, we headed out for a late dinner reservation at Service Bar. From the moment we walked in, the front doors are jaw dropping, I was in awe of the decor and atmosphere.  With gold tables, black leather booths, gold modern chandeliers and a 1920’s art decor wooden backdrop as the bar, this place was a mix of old world and modern.  Their menu’s also accommodated for vegetarians, gluten free and everyone else, the choices were a plenty and it couldn’t seem like you could pick wrong.

For Sunday #brunch we headed to Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen, again we were challenged with having to choose one item on the menu, so we started with the Brunch Ballz and then decided on the Hoofy Breakfast, which was a plate full of delicious carbs, gravy, eggs and bacon. I had to throw the towel in and get a doggy bag, although, almost everywhere we ate we ended up having leftovers!

We had a great trip visiting our friends, catching up and eating delicious things – we are already looking forward to heading back to visit them for another weekend, as it seems like there are plenty of more cool spots to checkout!

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Weekend Recap – Fall Faves

Guys! It’s November! And we kicked off the start of wedding month soaking in all of our fall favorite things and got away for a nice little overnight getaway.   We headed east to our perfect spot when we just want to get away, and it just so happens to be close to our second favorite spot – Souther Tier Brewery.

We were able to leisurely wake up and enjoy the morning at home before hitting the road and grabbing a Starbucks including Moz’s pupachino! She now knows when we’re in the drive thru or spots our Starbucks cups and thinks they’re all for her, #spoiled.  Once we arrived at the cabin, we got settled in before heading to our spot for a few beers and an afternoon snack.
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We’ve been lucky enough to make this a little tradition the last few years, with Southern Tier Brewery being a must-stop, so we were so happy we were able to squeeze it in this year! We were really hoping their Christmas Ale (2XMAS) would be on tap, but it wasn’t just yet! So we settled for our other STBC favorites, B with his IPA and myself with the Porter. Yum!  The sun was shining and it was a nice afternoon for us to chat the day away and discuss our upcoming exciting events – it was good to get out of town.

When we got back to the cabin, we took Moz for a walk around the property and up to the nearby farm so she could bark at the horses and pigs – we even snagged some quintessential fall photos with the perfect foliage around us.  The drives were breathtaking with the beautiful orange, yellow and red leaves bordering the roads.  It was a perfect little getaway!

Weekend Getaway Must-Have’s

Planning any fall getaways?  October always seems to fly by, but one of our favorite to-do’s is getting out of town for a quick weekend trip, being in the middle of nowhere, no wi-fi, no traffic, no house work, just hanging out and escaping the world.  As much as I love a weekend away with B, it’s even more fun when you can plan it with some friends or family.  Here are a few must-have’s for your upcoming weekend away.

  1. Games:  This is a way to laugh, have some friendly competition and get away from the TV!  Having some good group games like Cranium, Wavelength, Cards Against Humanity or even just a deck of cards will kick your nights off right.
  2. Drinks:  Have a variety of alcoholic beverages, but if you can find a fun recipe that is season specific or a new recipe to try! Split the ingredients with your friends and join together in trying something new.
  3. Music: Whether an inpromptu Basketstreet Boys dance party breaks out or just some background music is needed during games and drinks be sure to bring some portable blue tooth speakers and have some tunes ready to go!
  4. Food: Be sure to have a variety of snacks to enjoy during games and drinks; you can’t go wrong with cheese, crackers, grapes and don’t forget some chocolate to snack on! For dinners and breakfasts, keep it easy, eggs, bagels, oven pizza’s or something you can throw on the grill. After all your away so enjoy the down time.
  5. Local Spot: If you go to the same weekend getaway spot, and you haven’t found your go-to local spot yet, get on it!  Whether it’s a place for breakfast, an ice cream spot, an antique store, or a local brewery (we opt for the local brewery part whenever possible).  It can be your spot away from all your normal local home spots.

What’re you favorite things to do or have on a weekend getaway? 

Cheers to the weekend!


 

Travel: Denver Recap – Part 1

This past week, B and I traveled out west to Denver, Colorado!  It was our first time out there (well being anywhere besides passing through DEN) so we were really excited to go explore a new place and get out of town for a long weekend. We were able to explore and see a lot of Denver, at least I think for the short time we were there, but still felt like there was so much more we could’ve experienced and saw.  Since we did cover off on a lot, a recap on the important stuff… food and beer.

Historians Ale House – Broadway St.We visited Historians our first night in Denver, and met up with my cousins there – otherwise would have never found this spot.  They had a rooftop patio that we were able to enjoy, it was a beautiful night.  We snacked on chips, salsa and queso – the waiter said the queso was to die for.  And then since it was dollar taco night, decided to have a mixing of fish, beef and chicken tacos! They were almost bite size, so it was good that we all ordered a bunch. It was a fun spot, and great atmosphere but definitely in line for a bar atmosphere and menu offering. FullSizeRender (4)

The French Press – Lakewood, COAlthough we were only able to have breakfast here once, this small little cafe across from our hotel was the perfect spot for breakfast, a great cup of coffee and a fun homey atmosphere.  There were so many good sounding items on the menu that it was hard to choose.  We had high hopes and intentions on returning the next day for a different menu item, but unfortunately had poor planning and time management to enjoy it again!  They also had lunch and happy hour specials for people to take advantage of beyond the morning breakfast offerings. For our breakfast; I opted for the French toast, which came with eggs and bacon and I added some fresh strawberries on top, it was served with graham cracker syrup, yum!  B went with “Sterling’s Sweet Biscuits” – toasted chipotle butter biscuits, topped with chorizo gravy, cheese and eggs with a side of potatoes. YUM!! FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (3)IMG_4125IMG_4128

Bruz Brewery – DenverWe visited the recently opened (we were there for their grand opening), Bruz Brewery since it’s close to my aunt and uncles place. Rested in a new development this spot is prime real estate for this up and coming area. Not to mention; dog friendly both inside and out!  They had about 12-beers on tap. Since we only visited for a quick drink I went for the Summerfield Saison and B had the Dawg Daze IPA. I can’t wait to see how that brewery grows and expands, especially in their spot. The best part about visiting Bruz is that we were able to do so with my aunt and uncle and two cousins, while trying out a new spot (that we would’ve never known about).  IMG_4143IMG_4144

Tivoli Brewing Co. – Downtown DenverWe were introduced to Tivoli Brewing Co., for the welcome reception Friday night before the wedding (the reason we traveled to Denver).  We were welcomed by a lavish spread of beers and bite-size treats; everything was to die for. Our spread included the; High Five Chicken Potstickers, Parmobello Mushrooms, What the Buck Bavarian Pretzels, Sweet Hot Brussel Love, and mini 2 Pigs in a Sleeping Bag. Seriously everything was SO good, we were snacking and sipping all night. The beer selection was impressive (and overwhelming – at least to me!), I stuck to their Tivoli Helles, it was a golden hued lager. Their atmosphere was fun and underground-esq.  They also had amazing city views from their large outdoor patio space – also a prime spot for baseball fireworks viewing.  IMG_4154IMG_4157IMG_4159DSCN2520We enjoyed Tivoli so much (and it was super close to the hotel everyone else was staying at) that we killed some time for a light lunch pre-wedding on Saturday and enjoyed some more beers. I opted for something new and tried the Seasoned Skirt Steak and Chargrilled Chicken Vindaloo tacos – they were both topped with gucamole, fresh cilantro, red onion and queso fresco.  B went ahead and ordered the fullsize; 2 Pigs in a Sleeping Bag and a side of fries. IMG_4238IMG_4236

We would’ve ate more and explored a few other spots if we’d had more time between wedding festivities and trying to be tourists and see some sights. But we had a good mix and spreading of foods.  Next time we’re in Denver we will definitely spend more time downtown on “brewery row” – at least that is what I am calling it, a few people had described it as such and sounded like a must!

Any favorites spots or recommendations for our next trip out to DEN?

Weekend Recap – Family Wedding

This past weekend was full of family as we celebrated my cousin Tim’s wedding to his long time girlfriend, Morgan! So here is a quick recap of the weekends events.

Friday, we both took a half day in hopes that we could head out mid-afternoon and get down to Columbus early evening… but I had a little too much on my to-do list before that happened. Running around making stops, getting an oil change in, and then forgetting about our call with a wedding planner that I was expecting to have while we were already in the car, pushed back our leave time by about 2-hours, oops! We dropped Moz over to our neighbors, and then finally hit the road and got into Columbus a little after 7pm.

Dinner reservations were at 8:30pm, whenever my family has a weekend of any sort together (especially weddings) it is ALWAYS jammed packed with family dinners, activities, workouts, you name it. So we headed to Bravo! Cucina Italian – my first time there, andddd I know it’s a chain, but I wasn’t impressed at all. Service was slow and the food wasn’t that great. Which only led me to snack on Doritos later in the evening. *smiles* After dinner was over, some people went to the casino and others headed back to the hotel.  We stopped and grabbed some adult beverages to hang out at the hotel with my parents, Nate and Kiera.

Saturday morning we slept in until 9:30!! We haven’t slept in, in so long, it was so amazing! We got up and headed to Starbucks and then came back to workout and hang with the family. The hotel had a basketball court so everyone was hanging out between there and the pool while I sweated through a 45-minute boot camp workout, luckily my cousin Niki joined halfway through! From there we headed to lunch at First Watch, yum! (Avocado toast for days, please and thanks.) By the time we got back after lunch it wasn’t long before we had to start getting ready for the wedding.

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The ceremony; was so nice and the vows were beyond sweet. Tim and Morgan have been together for nearly 11-years, not to mention living long distance, so this has been a long time coming. My cousin Tim is a bit more reserved than the rest of us, so it was so awesome seeing him pull out his handmade scroll with his vows and reading them with so much love and truth in what he was saying.  After they said their vows, and kissed the rest of the night was about celebrating!

The reception was at La Scala Restaurant, which had a back room for the reception area and was the perfect size to accommodate everyone. The staff was great catering to everyone and we had our own private bar in the back which worked out perfectly too! Although it took some tweaking for the mixed drinks, since I’d like to say my family is a bunch of alcohol snobs, it would’ve been easier if we could just get behind the bar, ha! The dinner was served family style, which I really liked. It was a mix of lasagna, two types of chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes, with salad and bread as the starter. Yum!

Once the dancing finally started, the rest of the night was toast (unless a country song came on, then the dance floor was nearly cleared out, yet the DJ still insisted on playing his set-list).  Everyone tore up the dance floor and definitely got a second workout in. I think B danced the most out of all the weddings we’ve been too together, it was so much fun! Of course, there were a few breaks for shots – although we had to order them in the main restaurant, so it was funny to see the bartender mix up 25-lemon drops and a rowdy crowd come into the main area demanding shots.

It was a great time,  and family drama was at a fair minimum, minus a few situations which I am currently ignoring for the time being. *smiles* You could tell how happy Tim and Morgan were and how excited they were for their big day and commitment to each other. They’re truly just a sweet couple. It’s always a great party when we are welcoming another person into our family, needless to say everyone was hurting the next day.

We had a family brunch Sunday morning so everyone could see each other one last time before we all went our separate ways, a family tradition for wedding weekends. B and I were back home by 12:30 and got our little pune baby back (Moz). She was exhausted from her weekend with her friend Maybel! We were exhausted too, so it was a lazy afternoon.

Cheers to another beautiful wedding and fun weekend!

Weekend Recap – Girls Trip!

This past weekend was so fun and gorgeous! We finally had some beautiful sunny weather with cloudless skies.

It was super fun, because Katie and I met up for a girls day/night yesterday. We met at the cabin, which is just about half way for us – so it was a nice quick trip.  With her wedding being a month away, we’ve been trying to plan some extra girl time, and finally got it in the books!

One of the goals of our meet up was to get some of her her wedding DIY’s complete for her centerpieces so we worked on that in between candid girl talk and day drinking. It was also the perfect excuse to wear tights, a loose tee and veg out taste testing different martini’s with wine in between!

I can’t remember the last time Katie and I had that much one on one time AND a sleep over.  It was so much fun – the only thing I messed up on was forgetting my wireless speakers, so we lacked some major dance sessions and jamming to 50 cent.   We are definitely going to try and make these more of a point, or at least invite the guys next time, it’s the perfect, peaceful getaway especially for some much needed girl time. IMG_1500We wrapped up the weekend pretty early on Sunday, but it was nice getting back home and enjoying the rest of the sunshine! I’m looking forward to this upcoming week and some gorgeous weather.

3-Saturday’s

This past weekend B and I went crazy and took Thursday and Friday off to enjoy a long weekend, as I am sure I’ve mentioned before our weekend getaways have been the extent of any vacation we’ve had this year.  So it was amazing waking up Thursday morning and not having to go into work and to realize it was the start of 3-consecutive Saturday’s!! I even did a happy dance when I got out of bed!

Thursday morning was perfect. We just relaxed, caught-up on laundry, blogging and even a few work emails.  We have been hooked on American Horror Story, so we binge watched a few episodes too.  Then we packed up and headed to the cabin in the woods… we were there by 3! Our main goal was to visit Southern Tier Brewery (again), made famous by Pumking (the reason we went). Ohh it’s so delicious especially when you can enjoy it straight from the draft where it was created.  B and I enjoyed some Pumking and a few other tastings along with their yummy pretzel sticks and loaded chips.

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We even got to say good-bye to Maya, my aunt’s black lab who passed away suddenly last month, they left her remains at the cabin and the pond where she loved to play, her happy place.  It was nice to have a moment with her.

The next day we headed another 2-hours east to my parents for the rest of our long weekend.  Birthday celebrations and even a wedding were thrown into the mix!  It was a nice somewhat relaxing and low-key weekend. We got back early-ish on Sunday and enjoyed some company with B’s brother and also hosted our neighbors for some pizza and beer and chats!  It was a nice long, much needed break!

How did you relax this weekend?