International Safety

With graduation and summer quickly approaching here in the U.S., people are dreaming about trading those long hours at the office or all of the late night studying sessions in for their next summer getaway. For some, this may mean a short trip to the beach. For others, they are packing their bags and writing their itineraries for an international adventure.

Traveling internationally with your best friends is an incredible experience to get excited about, but it’s also something to take very seriously. In the months before your departure you may hear your parents nag you about being safe. You can roll your eyes and ignore them all you want, but their concerns definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. We’ve all seen the movies or read the news stories about a spring breaker or college graduate that decides to take a trip internationally and never returns home because they’ve vanished with no trace.

While this is not an everyday occurrence and plenty of people travel abroad with no problems, these horrific stories DO happen. Nobody is invincible and when you start believing you are, this is where things can go wrong.

If you’re traveling abroad or thinking about it, here are our suggestions for staying safe:

First, research the country you plan on visiting. By visiting the Travel.State.Gov. website, you can click on your destination and it will tell you the exact conditions abroad that may affect your safety and security. They will give you important information such as crime rates, security, health and medical considerations, and where you can find your embassy if needed. This site will let you know the level of risk foreign travelers are taking by visiting.

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This next suggestion is important, but is surprisingly ignored: NEVER ever give out personal information like where you’re staying or where your itinerary is taking you (have you seen Taken???). One of the best parts about international travel is the people you’ll meet, but no matter how trustworthy your new friend may seem, the most untrustworthy people know exactly what to say and do to gain your trust. It’s a huge red flag if you’ve met someone who keeps asking where you’re staying or specific dates and times. We’ve had people ask us details about where we’re staying or where we’re going next and Taylor will smoothly lie and we’ll move on to another topic. Let’s be real, there’s absolutely no reason for someone we’ve just met to know where we’re staying.

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If you’re traveling alone, make sure someone from home knows your exact itinerary. Plans change, so keep them updated about where you’ve been and where you’re going. You don’t need to tell them your every move, but just check in every once in a while.

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There’s something exciting about traveling to a new place and making friends from all over the globe. If you do decide to meet up with other travelers or local people, make sure you meet in a populated area and avoid traveling alone at night. Don’t arrange to meet at a hotel (see point above) or in a private location.

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Depending where you’re traveling to, you will probably stand out as a tourist or foreigner. In some countries, tourists are welcomed and treated like royalty because their economy relies on the tourist income. On the other hand, there’s places where it’s best to lay low and draw the least amount of attention to yourself possible. Leave the flashy expensive jewelry and clothing at home. You’ll notice in most of our pictures abroad that we wear very neutral and basic pieces. Not only does this make it easier to pack, but it keeps us from obnoxiously standing out. If you stand out as a tourist, you can draw negative attention to yourself. This leads us to our next point.

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When traveling to a country that requires a passport or visa, it’s important to carry these documents with you.We like to make photo copies of our documents to carry with us and leave with family members for emergencies. In some countries you are expected to carry your real documents around with you for questioning. For example, when in China, we were expected to have our documents on us at all times incase we were stopped by any government official for questioning.

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When carrying your important documents and other personal items, don’t stick these in your pockets or in open bags and purses. Pitpocketers will try to take whatever they can. If you are carrying a bag, keep it in front and close to your body and never leave your belongings unattended. Notice the backpack on the back of the man in the picture below: With so many zippers to access the inside, it’s easy for someone in a crowded environment to take something. With Taylor’s bag in front of him, nobody will try and take anything. These pitpocketers are trained and do this for a living (especially in high tourist areas) so don’t let your ego convince you that you’ll “feel it” if someone tries to take something.

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When traveling internationally, chances are you’ll need to use a different currency. For your safety, never flash your money around and it is best to keep it separated. Whether you get money from an ATM or Transfer center, collect your money, put it away, and count it later. Personally, we prefer to use a credit card (with no fees or exchange rates) because it’s quick and we don’t have to worry about carrying cash around. It’s best to keep your cash and cards separated so if one does fall into the wrong hands, you’ll always have the other.

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Please ignore that I’m blatantly doing what I suggest you not to do. LOL

Chances are you wont have a car when you’re traveling abroad. Yes, you can rent a car, but most people take public transportation. If you are taking a taxi, don’t get into a car that’s unmarked or looks suspicious. If your ride comes to get you and something seems “off,” kindly decline and wait for another. Just because the car stopped for you, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to take it.

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Don’t pet stray animals. No matter how cute and fluffy they may be. For example, dogs in America are pets, but in some foreign countries they are wild and don’t know how to interact with people.

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Although these safety tips are highly suggested when traveling internationally, it all comes down to common sense. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Use your best judgement and enjoy the experience!

Thank’s for reading and stay safe!! 🙂

 

 

Post Race

When we were finished with the race and eating lunch on Saturday, we all headed back to take a nap. We had left the condo that morning at 6:15am in order to cross the bridge before they closed it down at 7. Needless to say, we were exhausted.

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After spending several hours being lazy, Taylor had to work the Charleston Stingrays ice hockey game. Since Taylor was working, I sat with two friends and we had a great time catching up, watching the fights, and even made a brief appearance on the jumbo-tron!

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Terrible quality, but if you look close enough in the background you’ll see me taking a picture 🙂

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After the game was over, we ate leftover pasta from Friday night and headed into downtown Charleston. We wanted to walk around, enjoy some drinks, and eat some cake!

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We ended the night at Kaminsky’s for dessert! We selected the Cookies and Creme cake to split.

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Of course it was delicious and made up for all that walking we did earlier.

Cooper River Bridge Run

Back in January, Taylor and I decided that we wanted to participate in the 39th annual Cooper River Bridge Run with his family. The course is a 10K (6.2 miles) that goes over the Ravenel Bridge and through downtown Charleston.  Bi-Lo and Boeing were the two largest sponsors of the event.

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The night before the race we did what every racer does and loaded up with carbs! We chose to eat at an Italian restaurant called Mondos, which is on James Island. Taylor’s family has been visiting Folly Beach for years and never heard of it until recently. The place has been around since 1998 and has become so popular that  you absolutely need a reservation in order to eat.

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We started off with some appetizers and complimentary bread. The bread was so fresh and some of the best we’ve ever been served.

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Since we each ordered something different for our meals, we were able to pass around our dishes and taste everything! We all really enjoyed our dinner and had plenty of leftovers to take home with us.

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If you’re planning on visiting the restaurant, they are only open for dinner Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. They serve lunch along with dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The next day was race day! When we registered for the race we had high hopes of running, but January came… then February was here and gone…and then March flew by…needless to say we didn’t train and ended up walking!

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The weather was calling for non-stop rain during the day, and while it was raining when we woke up it miraculously disappeared when everything began!

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We had a ton of fun enjoying the views and walking together.

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This is not an easy course, but it’s definitely a fun one! If you’re looking for something flat, this would not be for you.

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Over 35,000 people completed this race, which is insane! It’s an event that people travel to from all over the world to complete every year. We can’t wait to do it again, but maybe we’ll actually train this time and run it! 🙂

 

Getting Outside

Spring has officially arrived here in South Carolina and we’ve been taking full advantage of it! On Saturday, we decided to get outside for some exercise and go for a hike. We chose a trail in North Carolina that we stumbled upon one day over a year ago. When we came the first time, we somehow ended up on the wrong path and were lost. This time, we were determined to stay on track!

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The trail was relatively flat the whole way, but we had to cross several streams.

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We thought these rocks behind us looked like the little trolls from the Disney movie, frozen. 🙂

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Crossing some of these streams without getting wet was actually harder than it looks. For some of them, we really had to work together, which made it even more fun. It took us around 1.5 hours to complete, so we celebrated with some pizza!

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Bridal at Biltmore

If you’re ever been in North Carolina, you’ll find that one of the largest attractions is the Biltmore House. Completed in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, the house contains 250 rooms which includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. There’s also an immaculate garden, shops, food, winery, hotel, and fun outdoor activities.

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The house took 6 years to complete and was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Several years later, when the depression hit, it was hard for the family to maintain the massive house and the surrounding grounds. In order to increase tourism, they opened the house to the public. This was a brilliant idea because now, it is a must-see for anyone traveling to the area!

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As the seasons change, there is always something new going on at the house. During the summertime you’ll find live music and a blooming garden. During the winter you’ll find Christmas trees and lights sparkling in and out of the house. Over the past year, we’ve used our annual passes to go at least once a season.

We’ve been in the house several times to see the different displays, but since it’s so large, we’ve really only seen like 50% of it. Crazy! We’ve also roamed around the gardens, but again, it’s so massive that we’ve only seen a sliver. We love coming when the weather is warmer because there’s so much to do! We can ride bikes, see the house & gardens, eat dinner, get coffee & ice cream, or just relax and walk the grounds.

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Currently, the Biltmore house is showcasing wedding gowns from film. Sponsored by Belk, these dresses and attire from major motion pictures span centuries of design.

“More than 40 award-winning costumes from 19 classic films will be displayed throughout the grand rooms of Biltmore House. Costumes illustrate changing styles in wedding fashions from the 1700s through the 1940s and the exquisite attention to detail that Cosprop Ltd., London, brings to its film costume projects. Accenting the costume displays will be elaborate floral arrangements complementing each film’s era, created by Biltmore’s Floral design team.”

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We (and by we, we mean Ashley) were slightly disappointed that this was not real cake. Still gorgeous nonetheless.

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When we came during Christmas, they were showcasing their Christmas trees, but we were not aloud to take any pictures. We were very surprised they actually let us take as many pictures as we wanted of the bridal collection. Unfortunately, the way they had the displays set up made it very difficult to take clear pictures with their lighting. It really takes away from the details of everything. I’m sure if you’re a professional photographer you could make it work, but we are no professionals, so bare with us. Ha! 🙂

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Each dress came with a plaque that listed the film from which it was from, who wore it, and from which era.

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During the colder months they don’t open the balcony, but it was really nice on this particular day. The view is always incredible. Now that spring and summer are around the corner, everything will turn green and it will be even better!

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As a book worm, Ashley’s favorite room in the house is the library.

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It was amazing to see how all the dresses evolved throughout time. It’s also crazy to think about how different they all were compared to your modern day bridal gown. If you love film and bridal dresses, then we recommend stopping by! The showcase will remain until July. IMG_4495.JPG

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We arrived at the house around 11am and were surprised at how many people were inside the house. When we called to make reservations, they told us there was no need and we were able to walk right in. For being a Friday afternoon, we didn’t think it would be busy. When we came out, the line to get in was super long! You can see in these pictures just how far back it goes. Thank goodness we came when we did!

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The outside venue is Taylor’s favorite part of the house!

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If you follow this path, it will take you to the gardens. Here’s some pictures from the Garden last summer…

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Thank’s for reading! 🙂

Airport Attire

With Spring Break right around the corner, you may find yourself making lists and packing your suitcases! Before you start trying to shove everything in, don’t forget to consider what you’ll be wearing on your day of travel.

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There’s no “right” way to dress for a flight because everyone’s circumstances are different. Whether your flight is 2 hours or 15, it’s all about what makes you comfortable. Here are some things to keep in mind when dressing for your day of travel.

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It’s better to pick your complete outfit out while you are packing your bags and lay it aside, especially if your flight leaves early in the morning. Make sure you lay out everything from tops to socks and shoes! This will save you a ton of time and keep you from digging to the bottom of your bag searching for something. Don’t forget about packing for your return flight too!

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Before you set your outfit aside, check the weather! For example, if you’re living in Miami and flying to Michigan during the month of March, the weather is going to be very different. Don’t show up to the airport in shorts and a t-shirt. Make sure you are dressed for whatever weather mother nature throws at you when you step off the plane. In situations like this, it’s all about wearing layers.

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When picking your outfit, remember that you will need to walk through airport security. Most airports will ask you to remove your shoes, so make sure you can easily slip them on and off while moving through line. If you don’t want to walk across the concrete floor in your bare feet, wear socks (matching and hole-less). Also keep in mind that you will have to take off all belts, jackets, and jewelry. If you don’t have to wear these items skip it, because it will make the process for you and those around you a lot smoother.

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Keep your seating arrangements in mind. If you’re flying first class or business, your seat will be a little comfier and wider. Whereas, if you’re sitting in economy your seat will be more stiff and narrow (depending on the airline and destination of course). We’ve been on airlines that are so cheap you literally have to crawl to your seat because they’re so crunched together. Maybe reconsider wearing your fluffy parka if you’ll be sitting in the middle of two other people.

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When flying internationally, think about the time differences. If you’re flight is scheduled to fly through the night, wear something you’d be comfortable falling asleep in. First class offers you a mini “bed” that will be a lot comfier and easier to sleep on. If you’re sitting in economy, you will have to sleep in your upright chair, so keep that in mind. Taylor and I usually wear sweatpants, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt when we know we’ll be flying through the night. I also never forget my fuzzy socks for extra coziness!

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Also, consider the time you’ll arrive and what time you can check into your hotel. If your flight arrives at 11am and you can’t check in until 3, you’ll need an outfit that is suitable for the plane AND exploring for a few hours (see point #2). Some hotels let you drop your luggage off at the hotel before your room is ready and may have a bathroom for you to quickly change. However, you’ll need to double check on this before you arrive.

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Last but not least, prepare for the worst. You never know when bad weather will strike and cause your flight to get delayed or even cancelled. If you’re flying from New York in the middle of January and they’re calling for a massive snow storm, you may want to consider wearing something you’d be comfortable sitting around in for several hours…just in case!

These are just a few things to consider when picking your airport attire. Everyone’s circumstances are unique and different, so you can take this post and customize it to your own needs! Thank’s for reading!