The first time I ever went on a trip by myself was for work. I had to go to Michigan for 3 days and at first I thought, “I’m not sure if I’ll like this.” Oh how wrong I was! Once I got on the plane and checked into my hotel, I realized that this is awesome! I can go and do whatever I want. I don’t have to be afraid someone won’t want to eat at the same places, or spend time doing the same activities as me. Even though it was just a short work trip, it sparked an idea in my head….what if I did this more often?
In 2012, I decided to take my first week long solo trip. I went to England for the Royal Wedding (that’s a whole other post for another time I think) and I didn’t have any idea how much fun it would be. Were there times I wanted to have a buddy to talk to…sure. Did I think “oh this would be fun if someone was with me at dinner?”…sometimes. In reality the independence that solo travel can bring was a life skill I didn’t know I already possessed and made me more aware of the culture around me.
I had some life changing conversations with myself on that trip. Some “let’s take a look at what I want and who I am” moments, that helped me as I was about to enter my 30s. And for this introvert, who loves independence, traveling solo has proven to be just what I need when I’m feeling stressed out, or that life has become too crazy.
But I understand that traveling on your own can be cause for concern. How safe is it? Will I get bored? What if I really need to talk to someone? Here are some tips that have proved helpful to me.
- Do your research! -I can’t say this enough. Its how I start every trip I go on. Where do I want to go? How safe is it to travel alone to that country? Do I want to stay in the US? Once you have made those solid decisions you can move on to the next tip…
- Itinerary, Itinerary!– Have a plan for how you want to spend your time. Research restaurants, attractions, and any special seasonal events that maybe happening while you are in town. Once you have a good itinerary for what you will be doing every day, send it to someone like a family member so that they know what you are planning to do during your trip. Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be detailed down to the minute. I do a simple breakdown of Morning/Afternoon/Evening with no time stamps just a general outline of how I want to spend my days. This way people back home can keep track and someone knows where you will be.
- Budget– while it may seem cheaper to split a room with someone, you can actually find some great Airbnbs or hotels that have a much cheaper rate for single occupants. You also can go smaller on a few meals and just eat one big meal during the day. I would have some fruit and a breakfast bar for breakfast, a take away sandwich for dinner and keep my large meal to lunch so you don’t have to feel like you have to go out somewhere expensive for every meal (and if you want to have ice cream for dinner no one is around to judge you).
- Dining alone does not make you lame– why is it that we can’t eat out at a restaurant alone without feeling like people are staring at you and thinking, “Look at that poor, sad girl” Guess what? NOBODY CARES!! If you really don’t want to go out to a restaurant for dinner and be seated next to a couple who are too busy putting there tongues down each other’s throats then any actual piece of food. Make lunch your big meal for the day. And if you want to enjoy conversation with a local the bar is always a good place to sit. You may even get some great suggestions on other places to check out from the bartender.
- Always be aware!– Check your surroundings. Be aware of who is walking beside you. Check to see if your belongings are secure on the regular. Don’t tell people where you are staying or that you are traveling alone. Some of these would be considered regular street smarts, and aren’t said to make you afraid. It’s just a general awareness that you want to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If those internal warning bells are going off, than listen to them. You aren’t letting anyone down or ruining your day if you decide to change course and do something that makes you feel safe.
These are just a few things that have helped make trips I have gone on fun and stress free. Have you ever traveled somewhere alone? Where did you go and would you do it again?
Last October, I had the chance to take a solo trip to Savannah, GA. Living in North Carolina there are so many great weekend trips you can take, drive east and you can get to a beach in no time, drive west and you are in the mountains. Also, it was really time for another solo road trip (one of my favorite things to do!) October was a perfect time to explore Savannah, not to hot that you start sweating the minute you walk outside, but not too cold that you need to leave the hotel with a bunch of layers on.
I stayed at the AMAZING Brice Hotel, this Kimpton owned hotel only opened a few years ago, and was perfect. The decor had all been updated, the staff was fantastic, and it is in a perfect location. Also the best beds I think I have ever slept in…like seriously I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud.
I drove down on a Saturday morning and after checking into the hotel, walked around the historic district for most of the day. As per usual, when I am planning trips it is all about where I’m going to eat and where the best shopping is, so here is a top ten list of my favorite stops for the day.
- The Coffee Fox– For the caffeine addict, the first question is where is the best coffee? And how quickly can I get there? Conveniently located on Broughton Street in Historic Savannah, this quirky little coffee spot was the perfect way to start out my morning.
- Savannah’s Historic District has some great shopping, specifically Broughton Street. You can find anything from your name brands like Urban Outfitters, Gap, and J. Crew, to sweet locally owned Boutiques like The Savannah Bee Company, Prospector and Co. and Chocolat.
- The Paris Market and Brocante has to be one of the best places to find some really cool treasures. This Market and Cafe has some great selections of housewares, jewelry, candles, gifts, antiques, and you can get some pretty great macaroons while you are wandering around the store, always a win!!
- For brunch I stopped at The Collins Quarter. What else says brunch like Eggs Benedict and Mimosas? The food and staff were amazing, and it was a great way to rest my feet and get recharged for the rest of the day.
- While checking out all the beautiful town squares that Savannah is famous for, you may stumble upon E. Shaver Booksellers. . This cute small bookshop has a wonderful selection of local authors and artists (as well as some really sweet cats that like to lounge around the store). I bought a great antique map of Savannah to add to my collection and some really sweet poetry books.
- Shop SCAD has a wonderful collection of art, jewelry and gifts made by the students of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and if you have a chance to head over to the SCAD Museum of Art, its worth the trip for sure!
- The Squares of Savannah, there are 21 in totally and they are all named after or in honor of a person or historical event. Its one of the many unique things that makes Savannah what it is. If you walk along Bull street you can pass by several of them on your way to Forsyth Park. The squares coupled with all the spanish moss and large trees make Savannah seem like a place full of stories and magic. Also I was there over Halloween weekend which just seemed right, you know?
- After freshening up at the hotel, I enjoyed dinner at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar located in the Brice hotel. This italian restaurant was superb and the Pan Toasted Gnocch was so good!
- After dinner I headed over to the Trustees’ Theater for the final night of the Savannah Film Festival. Each year the Savannah College of Art and Design hosts a week long film festival. I was able to score at ticket to the final night of the festival, and a screening of the new Hank Williams biopic, I Saw The Light (it was great btw).
- After the movie, I headed next door for a little late night ice cream treat at Leopold’s. The line was out the door (which is always a good sign), and the ice cream cone was the perfect end to my night.
I fell in LOVE with Savannah on this little mini vacation and on a side note if you’ve never taken a solo trip before, WHY NOT? There are so many benefits, even if its just a little weekend getaway. I think its time I write some solo travel tips soon, yes?
I know, I know…its been a while! How have you been friends?
I realized last year during my travels that I needed to really start the blog back up, not so much for the chance to gain readers or be some famous travel blogger. More so because I had a really fun year of travel adventures that I’m afraid I will forget if I don’t write them all down. And I love the opportunity to share with people the little places I found and maybe give them some inspiration for their next travel adventure.
2014 and 2015 saw trips to London, Paris, LA, New York (three times), Savannah, Richmond and Boston (twice). I’ll be recapping those trips this week and then let’s start exploring some new places and ideas in the weeks to come. Ok? Ok!
So, let’s get back to it. Its nice to talk to you all again.
Wow…never really intended to take this long of a break from the blog. This summer has been so busy and now its almost September. How did that happen?
So for today, I wanted to give a little travel book update. I recently visited my best friends in Richmond and while out shopping discovered some new fun travel books. So thought I would update the list (the previous post can be found here).
1. I Never Knew That About London (Or England or Ireland or New York)
By Christopher Winn
2. Travel Listography: Exploring The World In Lists
By Lisa Nola
3. City Walks: London
By Christina Henry de Tessan
4. Cool New York
And Finally, picked up this adorable Travel Journal by Rifle Paper Co. I am so excited to go on my next trip so I can break it in.
When you are planning a trip, do you use any travel books? What are your favorites?
The title of this post sounds like one of those prints you see in the cheap beach stores that sell t-shirts with dolphins and airbrushing or the painted decorative old boards displayed in Beach Condos that were decorated in the 1980’s. But I really couldn’t think of a better description for what happened last week when I was in Fenwick.
Basically my week looked like this- wake up, eat, lay on the beach, read, eat, come back to the cottage, read more, eat more, bike ride, eat again, play cards, read, sleep…repeat. I lived in swimsuits and comfy pants all week and never wore a stitch of makeup or did my hair. It was glorious, until I had to come home and realized I can’t fit into any of my clothes cause of all the food I ate.
Side note #1: New favorite Fenwick food stop- Grab and Go Taco… I went there 3 times if that tells you anything.
Side Note #2: I completed 9 of the 11 books I brought so I’d say that was a successful trip.
But here are some snapshots from the week taken on my good old iPhone that is on its last life. (sorry the quality isn’t the best)
If I am going to lay on the beach for 7 days, I have to have some good books. My family always laughs at me for bringing so many for just a week and for that fact that I tend to speed read, but I just can’t help. Anyway, I think this year maybe the best year yet. Here is the list of my vacation reads.
1. As I Lay Dying– William Faulkner
2. The Bell Jar– Sylvia Plath
3. The American Heiress– Daisy Goodwin
4. Still: Notes On A Mid-Faith Crisis– Lauren F. Winner
5. The Perfume Collector– Kathleen Tessaro
6. The Summer We Read Gatsby– Danielle Ganek
7. Bono: In Conversation With Michka Assayas -Michka Assayas
8. Before I Go To Sleep– S. J. Watson
9. Life After Life– Kate Atkinson
10. Someday, Someday, Maybe– Lauren Graham
11. Grace: A Memoir– Grace Coddington
What are your best beach books?
When I go home, I normally am craving my mother’s classic summer recipes…fried squash, blueberry pie, chicken and dumplings, soft shell crabs…you know the usual. My Mom Mom (what us Delawarians call our grandmother) used to make these crab melts for lunch sometimes with crab meat on an English muffin toasted with cheese…its was so good. Oh, and Strawberry pie…she made the best strawberry pie. But I also start craving my favorite food stops the minute I hit the beach.
Here are the go to places that are always on the list.
Local Fenwick Stops…
Ocean Side Sub Shop– Best Italian Sub hands down…so so deliciously good. Its normally the first place I eat at when I am in Fenwick.
Harpoon Hannah’s– Really great high end Seafood restaurant. Fabulous coconut muffins they give you before you get your meal. Turns more into a really loud bar and club late into the evenings.
Catch 54– Beautifully minimalistic Fish house right on the bay side. Great for a romantic meal out.
Fenwick Crabhouse– can never go wrong with a really good all you can eat crab feast. It s a necessity on the Eastern Shore.
Nantucket’s– On the higher end of the seafood restaurants but so worth it.
Fisher’s Popcorn – Carmel corn that is still a little warm and gooey. Its the most glorious. They also ship all over the US and are carried in select retail stores on the east coast.
Warren’s Station– My one and only summer as a waitress was at this family owned establishment. ( I was a horrible waitress) But the food is definitely not horrible. Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You can even go up to the carry out window and get a really good crab cake sandwich to take back out on the beach.
Candy Kitchen– A quintessential beach favorite, with locations in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Get any kind of candy, fudge, or salt water taffy you can think of, and if that isn’t sweet enough top it off with some delicious ice cream. It’s a real hit with the kids.
Just a town over…
Nick’s Original House of Ribs– At certain points of the evening, when the breeze hits it just right you can smell the ribs being cooked, and I swear its one of the most amazing smells in the world especially when mixed with the salty ocean air…its perfection. Oh, and the ribs taste pretty good too.
Thrasher’s French Fries– If you head farther into Ocean City, MD you can head to the inlet and the first stop should be Thrasher’s. your next stop after that? The Alaska Stand, but we will get to that in a minute. French fries, doused with vinegar and old bay. Or just plain on their own with Ketchup. Either way this place is an institution and the best!
Alaska Stand– After you have gotten the fries, go a little farther down the boardwalk for a really good cheeseburger. You can’t get much more american than that!
Grotto Pizza– Best pizza ever! With locations all over the Eastern Shore. Its something about their sauce and the crust…oh my word. You can even take home a frozen pizza to cook later. So so good you guys.
Fractured Prune– This little donut chain has been featured on Food Network and the Today Show. Choose from a large list of specialty donuts or you can even make up your own creation if you want to. But be prepared to pay in cash, they don’t except credit cards.
Just be prepared for your waistline to expand if you hit any of these places, us Delaware folk don’t really believe in the whole diet thing!
I’m about to let you all in on a secret place, that is my favorite on the east coast. I am a little hesitant to share this destination with you as I am a little afraid that all 15 of my followers will descend upon it, and it will lose some of its small town magic and charm, but I am willing to risk it.
This week we are going to Delaware…yes you read that right, DELAWARE. Specifically the small, quaint beach town of Fenwick Island. Its where my family grew up. My grandparents owned a hotel there for many years, my mom grew up here, and I have spent pretty much every summer of my life soaking up the rays and ocean air on its sandy shores. It wasn’t until after moving to Charlotte, that I realized how much I missed this place and every summer our family rents a friend’s beach house and we enjoy a week (sometimes three) of just peaceful beach relaxation.
So I hope you enjoy hearing about a place that is very close to my heart. Let’s dive in…
There are a few small hotels in Fenwick…or if you want to stay in a really nice hotel you can cross the state line into Ocean City, MD but that would be a mistake for several reasons. Unless you are a college frat boy or sorority girl and don’t mind over crowded bars and restaurants with drunk tourists…than go for it. If you are going to stay in Fenwick renting a house is the way to go. Even better if you can gather some of your friends to go in with you.
Here are four places that would be fun to hang out in for a week…
So have you ever been to my beloved homeland? Would love to hear your experiences!
I take great pride in being a native of the Mid Atlantic, and one reason is seafood. Its glorious and fresh and just screams summer to me. And in D.C. its one of the things you need to eat while you are there. Specifically Crab Cakes or just straight up Maryland Chesapeake Blue Crabs. But D.C. has a lot more to offer than just Seafood so let’s get to it…
Cafe St. Ex