Best Webcams to Help the Travel Blues

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What are travel blues? When I get back from a trip and know it will be awhile until my next one I get sad and antsy until I get to start planning the next adventure. One thing that helps my travel blues are webcams. On good webcams for a moment I can feel like I am in another country having another adventure. Here are a couple of my favorite webcams:

1. Kruger National Park – This webcam is in the famous South African wildlife park, Kruger National Park. It’s a thrill to check and see if you can spot any elephants, zebras, or other fun safari animals.

2. Jokulsarlon – No that’s not a typo. This is a beautiful glacier lagoon. The mountains behind it are stunning and the giant pieces of ice make the scene even more beautiful.

3. Santorini – This destination is known for it’s sunsets and vast views. That’s why watching this webcam can be a dream.

4. Princeville, Hawaii – Tropical dreaming? Then this webcam is for you. Look at the lush mountains of Kauai as the surf rolls in at this stunning beach.

5. Budapest – This cam sits over the water looking at the city. If you hit the time right you will get a gorgeous sunset over the buildings.

Do you have a favorite webcam? Share them with me!

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Why You Should Road Trip Iceland

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Iceland is still one of my favorite destinations I’ve ever traveled to. The crisp air, amazing landscapes, and kind people really make this a great vacation spot. Iceland is becoming more and more of a popular destination and with that is coming new travel deals to Iceland that encompass a few days in Reykjavik with a few day trips from there. I must advise you DO NOT DO THIS. Reykjavik and the surrounding area is great but it is only a small snippet of the amazingness Iceland has to offer. Here are my top reasons why you should road trip Iceland:

  1. Go at your own pace – When you rent a car and do a road trip you can pull off where you want, stay longer at places you love, leave earlier at places you don’t. You don’t have to follow a schedule and you can do exactly what you want to do. We quickly learned the word “foss” in Icelandic meant waterfall so when we passed a sign that said “Urridafoss” we knew it was some sort of waterfall and pulled over. We were so happy we did to.
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  2. Small to no crowds – When you have a rental car you don’t need to go on tours. You can do them yourselves! We had a blast stopping at gorgeous waterfalls and hot springs and being the only people there. It made the scenery even more perfect.
  3. See amazing landscapes – If you go to Iceland and stay in Reykjavik you will no doubt see some beautiful scenery but you will miss a lot too. When we started our drive we would stop and take a picture of each beautiful waterfall we came by, but by the 100th one we knew we couldn’t continue stopping. The amount of gorgeous waterfalls and mountains are unreal.
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  4. Get to know the people and culture – Because every night we were staying somwhere knew we really got to experience different types of Icelandic living. We stayed one night on a ranch, another night at a log cabin, and more. We got to talk with the owners who were from all different walks of life and got to eat traditional meals.
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  5. You can’t get lost – The awesome thing about road-tripping around Iceland is there is one major road, highway 1. It would be really hard to get lost. This road runs the whole way around Iceland and makes navigating a breeze.

Why I Love Travel

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It’s  hard to put into words the feeling I get when I step out of a plane into a completely new place. The adventure of travel is something I love with all my heart. I get such a rush from seeing somewhere new.  I am able to stop, close my eyes, take in a deep breath and relax to the sounds of my new surroundings. I get pure joy in seeing a well known monument for the first time with my own eyes. I love waking up in my hotel and looking out the window to a new scene. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes after months of organizing, researching, and planning out trips. I love seeing other cultures and how different people live. I adore the adventure of tasting new foods. I love travel whether it is to somewhere across the world or a few hours drive. I love travel.

Top 5 Places to Swim in Aruba

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One of my most favorite things to do is swim in cool places. There’s nothing like a good swim! Aruba of course is an excellent place to cool off in the water, with it’s excellent beaches and unique swimming holes. Here are my top five places to swim in Aruba:

  1. Natural Pool – There’s no way you will plan a trip to Aruba without hearing about Natural Pool. It is a great sanctuary of water amongst high and dangerous waves. A rock formation guards this spot to make it an excellent place to swim around. There are even fish that have made there way in to the pool so make sure to bring your snorkel gear. You can’t reach this place in a normal car. I would highly suggesting renting an ATV from Justin’s. They are the only company on the island that lets you get to Natural Pool without going on a tour. When we arrived on our ATV the big groups were just leaving so we had the place to ourselves. Make sure to climb the rocks and find the mini pool just above the natural pool.

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  1. Boca Catalina Beach – We found this to be the beach to go to if you want to see an abundance of star fish, fish in general, and sea-turtles. If you get there early and swim straight out you should definitely find a couple turtles grazing in the sea-grass. If you swim to the right you will find an excellent snorkeling spot we dubbed “fish city” because it had so many, you guessed it, fish. There were several umbrellas at this location and it’s located right off the road making it an easy find.

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  1. Boca Mahos Pools – If you visit the old gold mine ruins make sure to bring your swimsuit. While the water on this side of the island is too rough to swim there is a spot you can get in to. If you are at the ruins look to the SE along the water and you will see two ladder prongs sticking up over a ledge. Take that ladder down and you will find a pool of water protected by big rocks. This water is crystal clear and runs under a cave. It’s best if you have some water shoes because when climbing down to it there can be some sharp rocks so be careful.

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  1. Mangel Halto – This beach is very unique to the others on the island. Mangroves grow all around giving a lot of shade. There are also plenty of umbrellas here. This beach had excellent snorkeling and where we found the most parrot fish. The currants can be strong here so take note of that before hopping in.

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  1. Palm Beach – Palm beach is the perfect spot to watch the sunset as you wade in the water. The water is bright blue and the sand soft and white. There’s even a dock out aways in the water that’s fun to climb up on and jump off. This beach is among the high rise hotels but is still definitely worth the visit.image5

Visiting Aruba

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Mondays are the bad but Mondays after vacation are even worse. All I want right now is the sun and some sand but I’m stuck here in my office. Ok, enough of the sob story I want to tell you about Aruba! When deciding on which Caribbean Island to choose next we landed on Aruba since we loved Curacao so much and they are neighbors. We were not disappointing. Aruba has amazingly warm water, great snorkeling, and so much more.

We chose to stay at Costa Esmeralda Village in Noord. It turned out to be the perfect home-base. It was new, clean, and very reasonably priced. We split the two bed/two bath apartment with another couple and came in under $100 a night.

While Aruba does have some high rise hotels you could still get away from the hustle and bustle and find beaches where there were only a few families.

The food in Aruba was unsurprisingly expensive but there were so many options to choose from you could find reasonable meals. We especially loved the Dutch Pancake houses which usually only ran us about $12 a meal. Plus our apartment had a kitchen so we could easily make meals there and save a few bucks.

We attended the Bon Bini festival that is held every Tuesday night and had mixed reviews. Overall I’m glad we went but I can’t lie, I was a little bored during some of it. The reason it is still worth it to go is you get to learn a lot about Aruba’s culture and history. They even teach you some of the language so for the rest of our vacation I was able to say thank you, hello, good morning, etc. in Papiamento to the locals.

One of my favorite activities in Aruba was our ATV day. We rented ATV’s for a day from Justin’s Car & ATV Rental. We thought we had seen most the island, but we were way wrong. On the ATV’s we completely circled the island and went places you can’t get to by car. We were able to visit the beautiful Natural Pool and explore some ancient caves.

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A huge highlight to the trip was the diving. Ryan FINALLY got his diver’s license and so we got to go together for the first time in Aruba. We went with Happy Diver’s and glad we did. They were professional, got us to the dive spots before anyone else, and included everything in the price(even photos!). We got to dive along the Arashi reef and see tons of sea turtles and sting rays but the best part was diving to see the Antilles ship that was sunk over 70 years ago.

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The snorkeling in Aruba was great. It took us awhile to figure out which beaches were best and where to go on those beaches but once we did it was great. I will do a more detailed post later on the beaches on Aruba.

Overall it was a great trip. I would definitely recommend Aruba. I wish I was still there sitting on the beach after a long snorkel drinking a pina colada.

 

Hotel vs. Airbnb

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Shared economy is all the rage lately. With companies like Uber, Airbnb, VRBO, Lyft, Homeaway and so much more the travel industry is really changing. Today I want to share the major differences between using Airbnb(or similar entities) vs. staying at a hotel.

  1. Cultural Immersion – If you are someone who wants to blend in to the destination you are traveling to Airbnb is for you. Most likely you will have a kitchen and will need to go to the local grocery store and stop by the local coffee shop. You really live like a local when staying at an Airbnb. If you are a traveler who is more in need of a front desk person to assist you and answer your questions you may want to go with a hotel.
  2. Flexibility – This can be a case by case basis but for the most part hotels are more flexible. Most hotels have a 24/7 front desk where you can check in any time and get help at any time. When renting from Airbnb, while there are exceptions, you will have to arrange how to get in to your rented home and often times you are at the mercy of your host.
  3. Amenities – If you are looking for an onsite bar, room-service, concierge, continental breakfast, and more a hotel is probably the choice for you. If you are looking for a specific amount of rooms or must have a private hot tub Airbnb might be the way to go. Also, take note that Airbnb does not generally have cleaning services.
  4. Price – While both hotels and Airbnb heavily depend on location and amenities there are some differences. Airbnb will most likely save you money in the food department if you are willing to cook. Most Airbnbs have a kitchen allowing you to make some of your own meals. You do however need to be careful when browsing for a place to stay. Most of the shared homes website show one price and after you click to reserve they add on cleaning fees, taxes, and misc. fees. While hotels do this sometimes as well I’ve found the home shares to be much bigger differences.

Vietnam

It has taken me forever but I have finally put together a video of my trip to Vietnam. I absolutely loved Vietnam from the people to the scenery and especially the food!

 

 

Any Aruba Advice?

11666178_10155685765350447_8623056202698739467_nWe are headed to Aruba in 17 days and I cannot wait. With my home-base being in the Seattle area March is always the hardest month. It’s the last month of the cold and rainy season but it just seems to drag on. I need a little sun and warmth in my life and I think Aruba will do just the trick.

We chose Aruba because we had gone to Curacao last year and were amazed by the clearest blue water we have ever seen. We’ve been itching to go back to this part of the Caribbean ever since. We have booked an apartment to share with two friends who are coming with us and we rented a car for the week.

I’m looking for any must dos/eats from people who have visited Aruba. So please tell me, what should we make sure not to miss?

Eating in Kauai

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Over the holidays I took a trip to Kauai. It was gorgeous, warm, and sunny. One major varying aspect was the food. It seemed every restaurant we went to was either really bad or really good. If you’re headed to Kauai any time soon here is my advice on food.

If you are renting a place with a kitchen make sure to hit up Costco for your groceries. They have some great deals compared to many other stores in the area. Another tip for Costco is their snack bar. Food in Kauai is expensive so paying $2.00 for a slice of pizza and a drink is an amazing deal!

Make sure to “check-in” on yelp.com at any restaurants you eat at. We found at least 5 different coupons and deals if you did this.

For breakfast we often stopped at Safeway and went to their deli counter where they made breakfast sandwiches for only $2.50.

Here were our favorite restaurants on the island:

Street Burger – This was such a welcomed meal after a few days of no luck. They have great burgers(and veggie burgers) with fresh ingredients. They even made their ketchup in house! After a long day of swimming and playing in the sun this was a welcomed treat.

Kauai Beer Company – It’s not just about the beer here. Kauai Beer Company has a decently sized menu for a “beer place”. Their food was really great and the service even better.

Duke’s– Duke’s is definitely a staple in Kauai. It has very mixed reviews but we really enjoyed the experience. The service was top notch and we both really loved the salad bar. Not only the good food and service but it has a fun atmosphere with views of the beach. This is a great last night in paradise meal.

Hula Girl – Perfect place to grab breakfast. Hula girl makes delicious stuffed croissants. I recommend asking her to heat it up for you making them extra tasty.

Did you eat at a restaurant in Kauai that you loved? Please share!