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Edge of The Sand

in My Travels, Travel

A Year In Review: My 2016 Highlights

For most of us, today is an opportunity to leave old habits and memories in the past.  Most of us are also making new plans and resolutions for the future.  But first, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my 2016 highlights.

Ringing in 2016 in Capetown, South Africa

Last year, my sister along with about 16 other friends decided to go on an epic trip to Capetown, South Africa to ring in the new year.  We went on a safari, ate lots of great food, visited several vineyards, and paid a visit to Table Mountain!  Capetown (and the surrounding area) is BEAUTIFUL, and I will definitely make it a point to go back.

Martinique

I’d been wanting to go to Martinique since forever!  It seemed like such a colorful and interesting place, and of course a beautiful landscape.  Unfortunately, flights from the east coast to Martinique were SUPER expensive, and lack of American tourism meant that accommodations were scarce and expensive.

But, with new flight service with Norwegian airlines starting last year, and the new popularity of Airbnb, I was finally able to get over there and I was not disappointed (check out my recap of the trip)!  All the food was delicious, and the beaches were gorgeous and unspoiled.  I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked, so I will definitely be returning.

I Got Married!

My husband and I decided to get married last year, exactly one year from the day we met (he’s a romantic like that).  We initially got married in a VERY informal and small ceremony (me, my husband, and my friends who married us) in my kitchen, and had an actual ceremony later in the summer.  Obviously this is my #1 highlight of the year, but I wanted to go in chronological order for the sake of this post.  Forgive me lol.

Saint Maarten

For my birthday, my husband and I decided to go to Saint Maarten to celebrate.  I found a nice studio apartment within walking distance of Orient Bay beach.  It was just a really relaxing time, with beautiful beach views and awesome weather every day.

Our Honeymoon in Cancun

For our honeymoon, my husband and I spent 10 days in Cancun.  We stayed an an awesome all-inclusive resort, called Secrets The Vine.  The resort itself was enough to make the vacation awesome, but we also went on a tour to see Tulum and Xel-Ha, as well as other adventures we chose to do on our own.  It was an awesome trip!

My Friend’s Birthday Cruise

One of my closest friends hit her 30th birthday this year, and to celebrate, several friends and family members all joined her on a cruise to Nassau, Bahamas.  Unfortunately we only had a day to spend on the island, but it was great catching up with her and our other mutual friends that I had not seen in a while!

What about you?  Any experiences or achievements in 2016 that you are especially proud of or excited about!  What are your travel goals for 2017?  Post it in the comments!

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Traveling Alone: Tips For Solo Travel

Solo travel, while gaining popularity, is still a mode of travel that a lot of people are not comfortable with.  Most people worry about feeling lonely or unsafe.  But those who do it regularly know that traveling alone can be the ultimate experience to be able to enjoy a new (or repeat) destination without dealing with the tastes, schedules or budget of other people.  You get to indulge as much or as little as you’d like.  And your mistakes are all your own; you don’t have to worry about disappointing your travel companion if one of your ideas does not go as planned.  With that said, there are some things that solo travelers should keep in mind before and during their trip.

Let Someone Know Where You’re Going

My husband after a solo trek to the top of Mt. Fuji

I know it can be super exciting to just pick up and go, but its always a good idea to let at least one person know where you’re going and how to contact you before you leave.  This should be someone you speak to regularly, and would notice right away if they haven’t heard from you since you were supposed to be back home.  If you purchased travel insurance, make sure you forward this person a copy of your policy, and send them your travel itinerary if one is available.

Make Friends With A Local

There are tons of websites out there with lists of must-dos, but you’ll almost always get the most authentic experience when you’re actually hanging out with a person that lives in the area.  This is where your gut instincts will come in.  I’m not suggesting you go out an announce that you’re looking for new friends.  In fact, I recommend that you keep the fact that you’re traveling alone to yourself until you meet someone that doesn’t set off your spidey sense, and who you actually think you’d enjoy hanging with.

I’ve made friends that are still my friends to this day, just by being open to meeting new people.  Sit at the bar when you go out to eat, instead of getting a table for one.  You’re much more likely to be approached by other people who may be alone at the bar, or even the bartender and service staff.  Hotel and restaurant staff are often the most friendly and resourceful people you’ll meet.  If you go on any excursions, use this shared adventure as an opportunity to spark conversation with others.  You never know where it’ll go!

Leave Breadcrumbs

If and when you do decide to hang out with someone new, let someone know where you’re going and who you’re going with.  Take a selfie with your new friend and send it to someone at home.  Mention to the front desk staff at your hotel that you’re going out for drinks with a new friend.  And always carry some form of identification on you, even if its just your drivers license.

Try Avoiding Single Supplements

One downside to traveling solo is that many hotels, cruises and tour operators will charge you extra to make up for the fact that they are not profiting off an extra person in the room with you.  One way around this is by booking with a tour operator that caters to single travelers and will match you with a roommate, such as G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. By matching you with a roommate, they maximize their own profit off each room and save you the single supplement. The catch is, of course, that you’ll have to share a room with a stranger.

I also recommend staying in an Airbnb, which for the most part will just charge you per room, instead of per person.  Others have recommended staying in a hostel.  I’ve heard it is a great option, but it is not something I’ve actually done myself, so I won’t push that too hard.

Do any of you like to travel alone?  Where are some of your favorite destinations to go on a solo trip?  Post it in the comments!

Related Posts:

Here’s Why You Should Consider Solo Travel

5 Reasons You Should Purchase Travel Insurance

5 Things You Should Know When Using Airbnb

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Honeymoonin’ (pt 2): Highlights From Cancun

For our Honeymoon,  my husband and I spent 10 days in Cancun.  We loved every minute of it!  Obviously, the best part of the honeymoon was the hotel we stayed at, Secrets The Vine.  It was a luxury adults-only all inclusive resort, so our stay was all about indulgence.  You can read all about our experience at the hotel in my last post:  Honeymoonin’: Our Stay at Secrets The Vine Cancun.  I totally expected to spend most of the vacation laying on the beach eating all the food, but my husband made sure to arrange plenty of exciting activities for us.  Here are some of the highlights!

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Cruisin’: Prepping for your Carnival Cruise

Cruises are a fun and convenient way to book a quick getaway or group trip.  There are tons of options, from a long luxury cruise, to a cheap weekend getaway.  Food is generally included, and there are tons of options for entertainment, so there will never be a dull moment!  I’m gearing up to go on a Carnival Cruise to celebrate my friend’s birthday soon, and the process for booking and boarding a cruise is a lot different from booking a flight and hotel; here are a few things to keep in mind when booking your cruise.

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in Travel, Travel Hacks, Traveling on a Budget

5 Things You Should Know When Using Airbnb

I love Airbnb.  It has something for everyone’s travel style and budget.  You can book a luxury villa for a group of friends, a studio apartment for you and your significant other, or a room in someone’s house.  You’re essentially renting from another person instead of a business or hotel chain, so there are a lot of other factors you have to consider that may keep people who are on the fence from taking the plunge.  Airbnb has policies in place to protect both hosts and guests, but here are a few things you may not know that can make your search (and your stay) a little easier.

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No Passport Required: 5 Beach Destinations That Don’t Require A Passport

There’s nothing like getting away to a tropical beach destination.  I know I can never get enough to waking up to warm sun, white sandy beaches and clear water.  Unfortunately, most of these places require a passport, which can be a bummer if you or someone in your group doesn’t have one or has let theirs expire.  But don’t fret!  Here are 5 beautiful beach destinations that you can visit that don’t require a passport.

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It’s Not So Bad! | How To Prepare For a Flight on Spirit Airlines

I know, I know.  Spirit airlines has THE worst reputation of any airline I can think of.  There are plenty of HILARIOUS reviews online, like this one and this one.  But when I found myself needing to fly down to Dallas for a weekend wedding, I could not bring myself to pass up the $116 round trip fare on Spirit, when the other more reputable airlines were charging $250+.   Here’s what I’m doing to try to navigate all the foolishness that comes with booking a flight on Spirit Airlines.

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DIY Wedding: How We Got Married For Less Than $3000

So, you just got engaged.  Congratulations!  Now you’re faced with planning the wedding of your dreams.  Couples are spending more on weddings than ever before, with the average wedding costing $31,213 in 2015.  It can be easy to get caught up in all the wedding hype during this exciting time, and stress yourself out with all the options and costs associated with your day.  But wedding planning does not have to involve paying an arm and a leg for a fancy wedding and reception (unless you want it to)!  If you do a DIY Wedding, you can still have a beautiful day without a ton of stress and expenses.

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