What I Would Have Changed About Our Trip To Canada.

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Last year we kicked off 2020 with a trip to Canada. It was my gift to Cody because I thought an experience would be better than material items for him. (Or for anyone !) Don’t let this post fool you. We had a blast. This was our first time seeing real snow and it was magical. It was also the first trip that I had ever planned alone, so we ran into a few extra bumps in the road that we normally wouldn’t run into.

Everyone has something they would change on every trip, but I have a few things that I would change on this trip that would have completed it and actually made it perfect.

My biggest regret would be that I didn’t rent a car. When booking the trip, I was nervous about renting a car because I didn’t think Cody and I would be able to drive safely in the snow. Since we didn’t rent a car, we ran into a few problems and spent more money than we really needed to. First, we spent nearly $200 on our cab ride from the air port to our condo. (just the ride there not back and no stops and that isn’t our total for the week.) We also paid for multiple other cab rides to bus stops because our condo was not near any of the bus stops. Luckily the bus stops were free, but we did have to base our entire schedule on the bus route. If we ran late or slept in one morning, our day wasn’t starting until 2 or 3 and we also had to leave Banff earlier than we would have liked sometimes because of the bus. (If the last bus left without us, we had no way back to the condo.) Overall, it was extremely inconvenient and I am sure that we would have saved time and money if we had just rented our own vehicle.

Another major thing that I would have changed about this trip is the amount of time that I spent saving and planning for this trip. It was more of a spur of the moment idea to get Cody a trip for Christmas. I came up with it right around Thanksgiving with a little under 1 month to save before I bought the plane tickets and just 3 weeks to save after…. and I was determined to pay for it myself …. with my barista pay check. Needless to say, this trip was a budget centered trip. I got us good plane tickets (because I will never ride on a crappy plane again.) and I got us a good Airbnb, but if I had saved a little longer, I would have been able to afford a condo or Airbnb closer to Banff … or a bus stop and maybe a few more excursions or date nights.

This was also a problem that effected our food and activities. Because we had a set amount of money to spend on this trip, we had to plan only 3 meals that we could eat out and we had to cook or eat left overs the other nights. We also obviously missed out of some fun opportunities and activities because we had to budget so much. 

Poutine. One of the amazing Canadian dishes we got to try.

So, money is a must for a trip like this. Go ahead and price the things you are wanting to do so that you know what you need to save to have the experience you are dreaming of.

I also would have changed the time of year we went there. (Just by a few weeks) We loved the snow, but it just so happens that the specific week we booked our trip was the coldest week in Alberta that year. The temperature when we arrived (I am not even lying) was -29 degrees Fahrenheit. Locals told us that we were crazy and assured us that it normally does not get that cold there. We still had fun, but you can bet I was bundled it at least 4 layers at all times. Because the weather was so cold, the condo hot tub couldn’t even remain open. (this was the whole reason I had booked this specific place.) This issue also caused us to have a delayed (almost canceled) flight.

Two days before our departure, we got an email saying that our flight had potential to be canceled and we would be updated. We panicked slightly, but tried not to let it ruin our trip. Our flight didn’t end up getting canceled, but it was delayed to a point that we nearly missed our connecting flight and would have had to spend the night in the Chicago airport. (You better just suck it up and get the flight insurance so you don’t have to worry like we did.)

Finally, I would have better planned for the unknown. We had a few financial hiccups that we were not expecting on this trip. (luckily our family and friends had our backs) Just make sure you have extra money set aside that you are not planning to spend on the trip that way if something crazy happens… because you really never know… you will be 1000% prepared and it won’t even faze your trip. 

I am sure there are more mistakes that I made that would have made our trip easier if I had just changed one little thing. That’s not the point, though. You learn as you go. We still made so many fun memories, met some good people, and now we can say we have been to Canada. Life is what you make it… and I am just here to let you learn from my mistakes. Go adventure. Go explore. Visit a new place. Have fun. Focus on the good things and where you are, not what you didn’t do or what you could have done. Life is way too short to make it into a pity party! 

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Check out my blog post with ALL of the details from our trip to Canada as well as other similar posts like this one!

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Top 5 Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

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Gatlinburg is a great destination for people that love city life and the outdoors. It’s the perfect spot for group trips because there is a little something for everyone. You can go on a walk and see mountain views and then drive for 20 minutes and take a tour of the city. In today’s post I’ll be summing up some of my favorite things to do in the Gatlinburg area.

1. Ripley’s Mirror Maze

There are two and one is way better than the other, so make sure you go to the right one. The one we like so much is inside of a candy shop. If you purchase tickets, you can go back as many times as you want that day. This is the perfect thing for families, but it can also be great for just adults… and let me tell you how. There are 3D glasses that you can buy for $3 extra that will distort the room. It is the main thing that brings this attraction from something for kids to something an adult will love. If you drink, go drop in on a few of the moonshine tastings around town and then go take another visit to the mirror maze with your glasses on…. good luck getting out!

2. Rowdy Bear Ridge Lazer Gun Coaster

Rowdy Bear Ridge is actually a whole adventure park, but it looked closed when we went… not sure it it was because of COVID or other reasons. I found the lazer gun coaster on Groupon originally, both my husband and his friend love lazer tag, and the tickets were under $20 (even without groupon)… so we went for it. When we got there we found out that the ticket price includes 2 rides on the coaster.

On the coaster, you sit beside someone you know and each of you get a gun. There are targets below the coaster that you have to shoot. Each color is worth a different amount of points, but if you max out the points on your gun, you get a free ride on the rowdy bear alpine coaster.

This is a great family activity because it can include and entertain all ages. It can also call for some friendly competition between family members. (If you are into that)

3. Sugarland Distillary

I will stand by my opinion that Sugarland is better than Ole Smokey. The atmosphere is amazing. The people just seem like they love their jobs and they are so helpful and friendly. If you stop at Sugarland you HAVE to do the moonshine tasting. You will pay $5, but it comes with a coupon for $5 off of your next purchase. (& you can combine them and collect them for a few days which is helpful if you go multiple times or want to split a jar with a friend or 2.) With the tasting you get to try 12 different flavors and a bonus cocktail made from 2 of the flavors you are tasting. Every day the flavors are rotated and changed, but I haven’t tried very many flavors that I didn’t like. (Hazelnut and apple pie are the best along with all of the sippin’ creams)

4. Ripley’s Aquarium

This is by far the best aquarium I have ever been to. There are so many different sections to see. There is a play area if you have young kids (it’s about halfway through so you can stop if you have so they don’t get tired of just walking around) . They also have a glass bottom boat tour over the shark aquarium. My favorite part was the Ripley memorial section. There is a short movie about his life and a room full of Ripley fun facts and things that he discovered from all over the world. This place is great for families or adults. All ages can have fun here.

5. Rowdy Bear Alpine Coaster

We have gone on a few alpine coasters when visiting Gatlinburg, but this one really stood out. You can pay extra to get the lazer tag feature and play lazer tag while riding the coaster. When you get on the ride there are Christmas lights everywhere, which gives the best experience on a night ride. (These may only be here because I went in December) Overall the riding experience was great. They also had different deals to get multiple rides on the coaster.

Gatlinburg is one of our favorite places and every time we go, we find more things to do. If you are planning a trip to this area any time soon, I hope these things helped you find great ways to spend your time.

5 Easy and Popular Party Foods

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I know I have been talking a lot about food lately, but it IS the holidays and good food is everywhere ! I just can’t help myself. I won’t be sharing any recipes today but I will be sharing some easy, fun foods that I love enjoying at any holiday party! I always have great ideas for parties and party foods, but when it comes down to it, I just procrastinate a little too long. These are some party foods that I can always turn to if I am running behind and looking for a treat that will be loved.

1.Pepper Jelly Dip.

My first pick is so easy, yet so good. Pepper Jelly Dip is perfect for when you are throwing together a quick party or forgot to make a dish for tonight’s Christmas party. All you need is a block of cream cheese, a jar of pepper jelly, and some crackers to dip in it. Go ahead and bring a serving knife or butter knife because cheap plastic knives and a cracker won’t cut through the cream cheese easily.

2. Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Need I say more? So easy & you can find the recipe online for cooking instructions. These take a little more time to prepare, but they don’t require a lot of ingredients and they are a crowd favorite at every party we serve them at. You just need bacon, a pack of smokey sausages, brown sugar, and tooth picks.

3. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Cody’s mom always makes these around the holidays. They are great if you have a sweet tooth . I have made them for teachers as Christmas gifts and we have served them at parties. You just use chocolate chip cookie dough and a peanut butter cup and place them in a mini muffin pan & POOF!! You have a perfect sweet treat for any holiday event.

4. Deviled Eggs

Okay, so these are kind of hit or miss but my family and I love them. They are a staple at any family gathering. Once the eggs are boiled and peeled, the prepping process is so easy. They are a great finger food to have at any party.

5. Cake Balls

Homemade cakeballs are always a hit. Never fails. You almost can’t mess this one up. They have to be baked and frozen, but they are so simple. The hardest part is the chocolate coating, but even if they look bad they are still usually a hit because they taste so good.

I hope some of these holiday food ideas save you at this year’s holiday parties. We love these items at almost every party and they are usually the things that people gather around and clear out before the party ends. If something caught your eye and you do want me to make a recipe post, leave a comment. Happy holidays !

10 Best Camping/ Outdoor Products

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Camping and traveling are a big part of our lives. Having the right gear can ensure that you enjoy your time…wherever you may be. Today’s post is about our top 10 recommended camping products/gear.

1.Ozark Trails 6 Person Tent

This tent has been a life saver. Before getting this tent, we had a pop-up tent that we absolutely loved…until we didn’t. It always had a problem with the zipper and then it finally gave out in November 2019. The zipper broke and we were caught in a tropical storm. When we got this Ozark Trails tent, we were so over-the-moon happy with it and still are. We can fully stand up in it, it has LED lights inside of it that are battery powered. It is also a pop-up tent, so it is super easy to set up and take down. We have not had a problem with it yet.

2. 2-Person Sleeping Bag

This is really good for couples and has been a life saver for us. We bought it for our 1st camping trip after we were married. It keeps us warm because it holds in body heat and it isn’t much bulkier than a normal sleeping bag. So, you don’t have to waste space with 2 sleeping bags or worry about forgetting one of them. For extremely cold weather, put a blanket inside the sleeping bag and cover your head. It will keep you so warm and toasty.

3. Mess Kit

This is a life saver for any camper! These pots are small, but they can get the job done! Before we got a camp stove, we used to use these on grills and fire pits that were provided at the camp site. We have cooked so many things from pancakes to spagetti. It is a must have if you plan on a longer trip and you aren’t going to be eating hotdogs and marshmallows everyday.

4. Ozark Trails Camp Stove

This has been the ultimate life saver when camping. No more scrambling food over a fire. No! This stove is fueled by the mini propane tanks and it is so easy to use. It cools down in under 30 minutes. You do have to use something to help start the flame. The best thing to use is an electric lighter. The wind won’t stop the flame from blowing out because there is no flame, there is a safety button on the lighter, and it stays charged for such a long time. Thanks to this stove, we have gone from cooking mediocre foods to cooking normal foods that we would cook at home. For example: on our most recent camping trip we had a spagetti dinner with a side of cooked down green beans.

5. Igloo BMX Cooler

This ice chest works so well. We bought it for our most recent trip because we were going to be gone for 3 weeks. We needed something large enough to hold all of our groceries (milk, cheese, meat, etc.), but we also wanted to make sure we weren’t going to be buying ice to refill it everyday. It kept ice for days. We filled it up and 3 days later the ice hadn’t event melted. It also has a drain on it so you can easily empty the water from the melted ice. This cooler was $100 and so worth it. Would buy it again and again if we had to.

6. Ozark Trails Cooler Bag

This cooler bag is one of our favorites for camping, beaching, or just plain traveling. It is small and light weight. It doesn’t hold water for too long. (1-2 days depending on how much stuff you keep in there. More stuff = less ice) When we camp, we use the big ice chest to keep our groceries and drinks and we use the small ice bag to carry what we need into the tent. It is so light weight and doesn’t take up a ton of room. Perfect for a night in a tent or even a picnic.

7. Puppy Water Bottle

I am not going to lie. We just bought this for our most recent trip, but it was a game changer! We got it so we could easily give Zoey water when hiking, but found out that it was also good for our long car rides. All you do is fill the bottom section with water. When your pup wants something to drink, just flip the safety switch and push the button to fill the bowl. So stinking easy and you can carry it anywhere!

8. Tent Kit

We found this tent kit for cheap on Amazon. It has all the little tools we need to help us in rocky areas. It comes with extra tent stakes, a mallet to drive them into the ground, a tool to pull them out of the ground, and a little broom to sweep up any dirt that you may track in. It is easily something we could do without, but we wouldn’t want to because it makes camping life so much easier.

9. Ozark Trails Fanny Pack

I begged Cody for this fanny pack for our anniversary. It is big enough that it can carry our lunches, phones, and Zoey’s water bottle inside. It also has 2 pouches for water bottles on the outside and it feels alot better than carrying a backpack during a hike. It puts no pressure on your back and you can easily grab whatever you need in the moment because it’s right in front of you.

10. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a must when camping. You never know when you are going to burn yourself, trip, cut yourself, etc. There are so many ways to hurt yourself outdoors. Having a first aid kit is just a little extra assurance that you won’t get any kind of infection.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found some of these products useful. I linked all of the products below. Let me know if you tried a product and what your thoughts were. Have a great week!

Here are the links to the products:

. 6-Person Tent

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqarecxj87

. Sleeping Bag

(This isn’t the exact one we have, but it’s similar and has good reviews.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbg9cxj87

.Mess Kit

( These aren’t the exact ones we own either, but they are good price, with good reviews, and one kit even has a few extra pieces you may need.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbstcxj87

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbnucxj87

.Camp Stove

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqccqcxj87

.Igloo Ice Chest

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ehgijecxj87

.Cooler Bag

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqcmhcxj87

.Puppy Water Bottle

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ef4swicxj87

.Tent Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb73cxj87

.Fanny Pack

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ea9ecicxj87

.First Aid Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb6acxj87

A Week in Puerto Vallarta

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I really wanted to share more travel stories lately. So, today I am going to be sharing our honeymoon destination. I’ll be going over what we did , where we ate, and how we afforded it.

We knew that we wanted to go to Mexico for our honeymoon. We just had to choose between Puerto Vallarta and Tulum. Honestly either option was golden. We ended up choosing Puerto Vallarta because we wanted to visit Playa del Amor. It had been on our bucketlist for years and this was our chance to make that a reality. Sadly, it was not open when we went. We were twenty and this was our first real trip that we booked ourselves. We should’ve looked into it. So, Playa del Amor is still on our bucketlist, but I promise to share when we actually make it.

Playa Del Amor (not my photo)

We did get to go on three excursions. Our hotel had a deal for buy two get one free. We had so many to choose from, but we chose to go on a day trip on a private island, a dinner show on a private island, and go zip lining. All of our packages were through vallarta adventures.

The day trip on the private island was a blast. We took a boat ride to the island where we were greeted with breakfast tacos. They had an itinerary of different things going on through the day. We did a mezcal tasting, went snorkeling, and after lunch, we hung out in our own little spot on the beach. It was perfect for a romantic honeymoon experience.

Next, we visited the same island for a dinner show. We got a dinner buffet on the beach and a tribal show after dinner. I had never seen anything like it, so it was so fun! This is a really cool experience for families or couples .

Our zip line experience was unlike any other zip line I have ever been on. It was such a fun time. They joked with us the whole time and took so many photos of us. It wasn’t just zip lining either. We scaled a tree, bungee jumped, zip lined on our stomachs (superman style), and went down a water slide. Whether you are traveling in a group, as a family, or on a romantic trip, this experience is a blast!

The rest of our trip was really chill. We just took the time to relax after months of wedding planning and actually feel like adults on a vacation without our parents. (LOL) We stayed in a marriot hotel that Cody ended up finding on Groupon for a great price. This hotel was more of a resort and had so many things to do. (Which is why most of our chill days were spent here) The day we arrived, we went to the spa to get a massage. It was a full blow spa too. There were packages you could buy, hot tubs, saunas, and tranquil music playing. After our massage, they gave us a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. (Talk about knowing the way to my heart!) We spent another chill day at the pool where we were served sushi by a chef in the pool and got to watch a scuba class take place. Our last chill day, we walked around the market and gift shops.

Most of our meals were eaten at the hotel. There were a number of restaurants to eat at and room service. But on occasion, we would go out on the town away from all the tourist places and checkout the local restaurants. There were two restaurants that we ate at and both were amazing. Our favorite of the two was Pipi’s. They made guacamole fresh at the table and one day they even had a mariachi band come play for us. The food was amazing.(This was where Cody determined that he actually liked mexican food) The other restaurant that we ate at was Casa Tradicional Cocina Mexicana. This restaurant was a little more touristy than Pipi’s, but the food was just as good. The service at both restaurant’s was remarkable. I highly recommend that if you take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, step outside of the resort and tourist driven parts of the city and come visit one of these restaurants. You will not be disappointed.

Getting guacamole at Pipi’s

So we did a few things to pay for this trip. Obviously alot of the money came from our wedding day, so we didn’t have to budget too much. We also were still learning how to travel on a budget, so when we came home times were really tough… like ramen noodles for a month tough. We did, however, find ways to cut corners when we could. Like I said, Cody found our hotel/resort on groupon. He also used one of the cheaper airlines (Southwest). Normally we would not use Southwest because we don’t like how they do their seating, but if you are only looking at prices, they have some pretty great ones. The only other thing that we really did to save money was use coupons. The woman at the help desk helped us out with this. She gave us a coupon for Pipi’s and gave us the package deal for our excursions.

This was by far one of my favorite places that I have visited. Maybe it was because it was my honeymoon or maybe it was just that good. One thing is for sure, I cannot wait to visit again… I’m thinking five year anniversary? (LOL) Anyways, thanks for reading along and, once travel is back on the board, I hope you feel inspired to visit this beautiful destination that holds such a special place in my heart!