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Julie - "Girl on the Move"

What To Do in Solvang: 24-Hour Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Southern California can be overwhelming because there are endless options. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of Southern California I’d recommend hitting the pause button and venturing out to Solvang. You’ll be able to experience Danish culture and because everything is centralized in downtown Solvang you won’t need to use your car once you arrive. Here’s a look at what to do in Solvang when you visit to fully experience the Danish culture offered.

Little Mermaid Statue

The Little Mermaid Statue is located at the corner of Mission Drive & Alisal Road. The statue is a ½ bronze replica of the one that has been a fixture in Copenhagen Harbor since 1913. The Solvang version of the statue is the only one the heirs of sculptor Edvard Eriksen, who created the original, have authorized.

If you’re planning a trip to Southern California I recommend spending 24 hours in Solvang CA. Here’s your guide for what to do in Solvang!

Elverhøj Museum

You’ll only need to walk a couple blocks off the main downtown area of Solvang to experience the Elverhøj Museum. Their mission is to “ collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts.” The staff and volunteers do an outstanding job of accomplishing their mission! The Elverhøj Museum is located in the former residence of one of Solvang’s most artistic families so you feel as though you are walking through a home from the past. When I visited I was fortunate enough to not only observe a lace bobbin demonstration, but give it a try myself!

If you’re planning a trip to Southern California I recommend spending 24 hours in Solvang CA. Here’s your guide for what to do in Solvang!

The Book Loft with Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Be prepared to extend your trip beyond 24 hours with the next stop! It is quite easy to get lost browsing in The Book Loft. But trust me, it’s worth the stop! Downstairs in The Book Loft you’re able to browse and purchase new books. Then you can venture upstairs to browse their used book selection. And then you can take a walk around the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Known as the, “Father of the Fairytale,” Andersen is a Danish author known for classics such as The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen (better known today as Disney’s Frozen), The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Pastries and Windmills

Within a five block radius there are four large wooden windmills and five authentic Danish bakeries! So lace up your walking shoes and head out to explore and enjoy a pastry or two along the way.

If you’re planning a trip to Southern California I recommend spending 24 hours in Solvang CA. Here’s your guide for what to do in Solvang!

Old Mission Santa Ines

Established as the 19th of 21 missions along the El Camino Real, Old Mission Santa Ines offers stunning panoramic views. The mission is not a part of the Danish culture, but it is a part of California’s history and so well worth a visit.

Bonus Tip

If you have a little bit of extra time on your trip, make a quick stop at Ostrichland USA. Located just five minutes out of town, the ostriches are a unique stop. You can feed the ostriches and there are fresh ostrich eggs available all year-round!

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Road Trip Guide: Los Angeles to Las Vegas

Most Southern Californians, and visitors to the Golden State, think of the drive to Las Vegas as a boring trip through the desert. But, did you know there are actually a lot of things to do between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? If you’re planning a road trip from LA to Vegas, then this is your ultimate guide of what to see and do along the way!

How Far is Vegas from LA?

The drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is just under 300 miles and without traffic is a 4-hour drive. But since this is Southern California, unless you’re leaving at 10p, you’ll most likely hit traffic along the way! This guide has some great stops to help you break up the drive or to help you make the journey your trip.

California Citrus State Historic Park

The California Citrus State Historic Park is an open-air museum that is part of the California state park system. A stop at the visitor center will provide the background of how the citrus industry played a role in the history and development of California. It is a smaller museum so you don’t need to budget a significant amount of time for this stop. As an added bonus, a stop at the citrus groves won’t break the bank since you only have to pay parking…and that’s only $5! I highly recommend timing your stop to join one of the scheduled tours because otherwise you’ll just be wandering through the citrus groves. Just don’t pick any oranges…it’s an expensive fine!!

Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe

Step back in time with a visit to Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe where they’ve been serving hungry Route-66 travelers since 1947. Reasonable prices and delicious meals make this is a must-stop. But it’s not open all day so plan on having breakfast or lunch when you visit and be sure to take a pic of the Route-66 sign!

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch

Quite possibly the only way to describe Bottle Tree Ranch is a forest of bottle trees between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. You can see the bottle trees from the road 24-hours a day, but it is open to explore from sunrise to sunset. The bottle trees are such a unique and beautiful form of art that it is well worth a stop…and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to chat with Elmer!

If you're planning a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas use this road trip guide to plan what to see and do from LA to Vegas.

Calico Ghost Town

Admittedly, Calico Ghost Town is quite touristy, but it’s a fun step back in time on your way from LA to Vegas. There are a couple of great lookout spots for scenic views of the desert, you can pan for gold, tour a mine, take a train ride and wander through an old western town.

If you're planning a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas use this road trip guide to plan what to see and do from LA to Vegas.

EddieWorld

Stop for gas and you’ll walk away with all different kinds of snacks and candy! You won’t be able to miss EddieWorld because it is marked by a giant ice cream sundae. Once inside you’ll fully understand the expression, “like a kid in a candy store.” EddieWorld has row after row of every type of kind you can imagine!

Zzyzx Road

A quick picture with this road sign is sure to help you win any game of the Road Trip Alphabet Game! And quick confession…I still don’t know how to pronounce this road!

World’s Tallest Thermometer

Coming in at 134 feet tall, this thermometer marks the 134° F record temperatures in nearby Death Valley. When I was little this was just a really tall thermometer…now there is a little gift shop/info center accompanying the thermometer so you’ll want to pop in and learn a bit more about the thermometer. Fun Fact: The thermometer weighs 76,812 pounds!

If you're planning a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas use this road trip guide to plan what to see and do from LA to Vegas.

Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains could also be referred to as Seven Neon Rock Piles. My first time visiting was right after this art exhibit opened and there were practically no other people around. Now you’re likely to encounter a decent number of people which can make it harder to capture the perfect photo for Instagram, but it’s still a fun stop. The contrast of these seven, giant, neon rock piles in the middle of the desert is a sight to behold.

Next time you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, enjoy one or more of these stops along the way!

If you're planning a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas use this road trip guide to plan what to see and do from LA to Vegas.
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Literary Adventures: Phoenix Books

One of the things I love most about reading is getting lost in the story and being transported into the setting of the book. So anytime I find a bookstore where I can get lost in the books, I am one happy girl. Phoenix Books likely won’t be winning any “Most Instagrammable Bookstore” awards anytime soon, but this is a San Luis Obispo gem!

Phoenix Books is an independent, used bookstore located in downtown historic San Luis Obispo. When you visit, be prepared to sift through a lot of books. Like literally piles and piles of books! Every shelf is packed from top to bottom and then there are stacks of additional books throughout the store…including all the way up the staircase.

A trip to San Luis Obispo, California should include a stop at Phoenix Books where you can explore shelf after shelf of used books.

Planning Your Trip

A few things I learned on my trip to Phoenix Books to help you plan your trip…

•The store is located at 990 Monterey St, in downtown historic San Luis Obispo, and so parking can be tricky. Rather than look around for a parking spot I found it helpful to use one of the nearby public parking structures. I thought the parking structures were reasonably priced at $1-2 for 2 hours.

•Don’t go into the store with your heart set on finding a particular book! This is a used bookstore, so they won’t have every book you want on hand. When you visit, go into the store prepared to spend time getting lost in the rows of books and you will walk away with a treasure.

•Be sure to stop by the loft upstairs to find stacks and stacks of history books. I also thought it was a fun birds-eye vantage point of the rest of the store.

•Budget more time in your schedule than a quick pop-in to the store! Remember, there are LOTS of books to peruse so you want to leave enough time to truly browse the store

p.s. check out my favorite books from 2018 and see more of my travel and book pics on Instagram!

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Affordable Travel: What I’ve Learned

What is the secret to affordable travel?

This is probably one of the top three questions readers send me, along with…how do you eat cupcakes and not weigh 300 pounds? and I’m visiting (fill in the name of the city), what should I do?  So I thought it was time to put all my thoughts together and share my tips and secrets to affordable travel.

I’ve divided the tips into two groups…(1) increasing the amount of money you have to travel; (2) decreasing the amount of money you spend when you travel. This is what has worked for me…even during seasons of my life where I was living paycheck to paycheck. Some of these tips won’t work for you, and that’s okay! Choose what will work for YOU. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments below, and if you use any of these tips, I’d love to hear your travel story! And feel free to let me know if you have any other questions you want me to answer!!

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the link.

Affordable Travel: More Money = More Travel

Save, Save, Save

I set aside money each month in my budget (and just like Dave Ramsey says, I name every dollar!) for travel. Different seasons have meant I was able to save different amounts of money each month, but I always make saving a priority in my budget. Saving money each month allows me to break up the cost of a trip over several months. It has also allowed me to take bigger trips, as I save up over a longer period of time.

Hustle

The reality is that most people probably can’t change the amount of money in their take home pay each month so they are a bit limited in setting monthly savings goals. And that is where this next tip comes in for affordable travel. I hustle to increase my monthly income. And let me tell y’all, I hustle big because I don’t want money to be what stops me from traveling! Here’s a look at some of things I am currently doing, or have done, to increase my monthly income…

•Proctor SAT/ACT tests – It’s easy to give up a Saturday morning to proctor a test when you think about the time you’ll be able to spend taking a trip with the money!

•Babysitting – I have babysat more hours than I can even count in my lifetime! I started at 12 and used that babysitting money for a trip to the East Coast in 8th grade. I babysat all through high school for a three-week trip to Spain. And I have babysat as an adult for extra money.

Thirty-One Gifts – I have spent nearly 10 years as a consultant for Thirty-One selling travel bags, accessories, and other great home products. For me, it has been a great way to earn some extra money while using a product I truly love.

Hosting on Airbnb – Opening my home to other travelers looking for affordable travel has provided me with money to do traveling of my own. If you’re thinking about becoming a host, here are my thoughts on being the best host possible.

•Blogging – This blog is also a source of income and if you’re willing to invest time into a blog (lots of time!) it could also be a good way to make some extra money.

Rewards Points

I carefully choose my credit cards and checking/savings accounts and typically only use cards/accounts that offer me points or cash back. I then turn these points into cash for my travels.

***Note: If you feel like credit cards cause you to overspend and go over your budget, then this is not a good strategy for you! This works for me because in over 15 years of having credit cards I’ve never paid a late fee and I have paid my credit card balance in full every single month. So I’m actually coming out ahead by using the points. But the points aren’t worth it if you’re spending money you don’t have just to earn points!

Holiday Wish List

I often ask for money and things I need for travel for Christmas and birthdays since I don’t need a lot of physical things. This is a great way to add to your travel budget!

Make Difficult Choices

Travel is really important to me. So I’m willing to skip the line at Starbucks and wait for the movie to come out on Redbox to save money. I regularly look through my budget line by line and decide if each item is something I really need or if I could instead put some of that money towards travel.  For me, experiencing a new city is more important than a new outfit, so I’m willing to have a relatively small clothes budget in favor of a much larger travel budget.

I've found the secret to affordable travel is to save more money before I travel and to cut costs while I travel and now I'm sharing what I've learned!

Affordable Travel: Cut Spending = More Travel

Shoulder Season

Flexible travel dates? Travel during shoulder season (the time right before and after high tourist season at a particular destination)  to save money on your trip. This year I’m heading to Europe and I’m leaving at the end of May…before summer tourist season really begins. And this helped me save a lot of money on my plane ticket! If you have your heart set on a particular destination see if you can go just before, or after, it gets busy.

Follow the Deals

Sometimes this tip is really hard for me follow, but I have found I can travel more if I don’t have my heart set on particular places. If the goal is just to travel then I watch for deals and when I see a good one I snatch it up and make that my next trip! I use both Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club, and I have Google Flight alerts set so I can be on the lookout for great flight deals. When I see a great deal I make that my next destination instead of spending whatever it takes to get to a particular place.

Homesharing

One great way to head out on affordable travel is to skip the hotels and book on a homesharing site like Airbnb. If you decide to book an Airbnb be sure to read these tips on how to be a great guest! A site like Airbnb allows you to save on your nightly rate compared to a hotel. You can also save on food by eating some meals in your home rental instead of eating out every meal.

Free Attractions

For almost any destination you can head to Pinterest and type in “Free things to do in (your destination)” and you’ll find some great suggestions! From free walking tours (like these walking tours in Paris)  to free museum days to free local attractions, you’ll find a surprising number of things to do for free. And when you can explore for free, that translates to affordable travel.

Savings Sites

Check out sites like LivingSocial and Groupon for deals in your destination city. One benefit of these sites is that you’ll save money. Additionally, you’ll probably find a few things to do that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Make Difficult Choices

It’s as important to make difficult choices while on your trip as it is while saving for your trip. Personally, I limit alcohol when I travel because it’s just not a cost I want to incur while I travel. I’d rather extend my trip by a day or two then drink while I’m there. I’ll also look for lunch deals at restaurants I really want to try and then just have a light dinner. When I travel I set a daily budget and then decide what’s most important for me each day.

Loyalty

For me, I have had the best experience being a loyal customer. For example, choosing one airline allows me to earn more free miles.

Hit the Ground

Save on transportation by walking around your destination or taking public transportation. Not only is walking a great way to explore a new city, but it’s cheaper than a taxi! Another way to hit the ground is to skip air travel and road trip for your next trip. A road trip is often less about the destination and more about the journey. So this is a great way to travel for less money!

If you have any other affordable travel tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments below! If you use any of these tips, I’d love to hear your travel story! And again, feel free to let me know if you have any other questions you want me to answer!!

p.s. You might be interested in my Top Ten Reasons to Try Airbnb and My 2019 Travel Plans

p.p.s. Also check out How I Afford to Travel Frequently and How to Find Cheap Flights

I've found the secret to affordable travel is to save more money before I travel and to cut costs while I travel and now I'm sharing what I've learned!
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My 2019 Travel Plans

It’s difficult to believe we’re already halfway through January! It feels like we were just opening the Christmas presents and it’s already time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day. Before we get too far into the year I wanted to take a minute to share my 2019 travel plans. There are two main reasons for sharing these plans…

  1. I hope one (or more) of these trips inspires your travel in 2019!
  2. I need your tips! If you’ve been to any of these places or have read great blog posts about these places, please drop links and tips into the comments below! A lot of these trips are new locations so I need your advice!

And now a look at my 2019 travel plans…

January

Central California – Route 1

I’m taking a trip to finish up my tour of the 21 California Missions. I’ve been to 17 of the 21 and I’m excited to visit the final four. All four are located in Central California on Route 1 – Pacific Coast Highway – so it will definitely be a scenic trip!

February

San Diego, California

I’ll be heading to San Diego for a work conference and decided to add on a day or two for some sightseeing. The weather in San Diego during the winter is absolute perfection and although I’ve been there before, there is a lot I still haven’t seen!

March

Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

I always try to sneak in one or two sightseeing activities while I’m in Haiti, but the main purpose of my trip is to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews! Because seriously, who can resist this face?!?

It's time to start making your 2019 travel plans! Here's a look at what I have planned this year to help inspire your 2019 travels.

May-July

Europe

Here’s where the crazy travel begins! I’ve spent three weeks in Spain, but this is my first time in Europe beyond that. And I believe you should go big or go home, so I’m heading to England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland. If you have any thoughts on where to say, what to see, or what to eat, I’ll take them all!

July

North Dakota & Montana

Once this trip is complete I’ll have been to ALL 50 states!! I have been waiting for this trip for a couple of years now since I crossed off states 45-48. But the time has come to visit these last two states!

July – December

I’m not sure yet! I have a list of trips I’d like to take in 2019 but planning the trips already on my calendar has kept me so busy I haven’t had a chance to make travel plans for the second half of the year. Do you have any suggestions? If you do, please leave them below so I can start planning more adventures!

What about you? Where are you going in 2019? I’d love to hear all about your 2019 travel plans in the comments below.

P.S. If you’d like to know more about my Haiti travel you can check out More Than An Earthquake and Cupcakes in Haiti.

Ile à Rats, Haiti
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Cupcake Adventures: Cupcakes in Haiti

One thing you should know about me is I love cupcakes. Anytime my 4th graders need to create a team name, it is some variation of the Traveling Blue Cupcakes. Sometimes the cupcakes are blue, sometimes they’re dancing, but these kids know that if it’s traveling + blue + involves cupcakes, then I’m in! Often when I travel, one of the first things I research is cupcake shops. Consequently, I’ve been to more than 100 cupcake shops. And now I’ve had my first experience with cupcakes in Haiti!

On our way home from a day trip to Satama Hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cap-Haïtien, Haiti has a cupcake shop. I couldn’t resist checking out a new cupcake shop, so we made a quick stop! It was quite a treat to check out the cupcakes from Goût Sucré Pâtisserie. Decorated in pinks and purples, the store was quite adorable! You also just had a feeling when you walked in that it was going to live up to its name, Goût Sucré, meaning sweet taste.

The Cupcake Trifecta

The variety is not the same as is typically available at many cupcake shops in the United States, but they are not able to source as many ingredients in Haiti, so it is understandable. The cupcakes are reasonably priced and in terms of the cupcake trifecta:

•Cake to Frosting Ratio – Knocks it out of the park!

•Cake – A basic American grocery store vanilla cupcake.

•Frosting – The frosting had a different texture than expected. However, I’m not sure if that is exclusive to this shop or if this type of frosting is simply more typical in Haiti.

Finding the Cupcakes in Haiti

If you’ve spent much time in Cap – O’Kap to the locals, Cap Haitien most formally – you know that the Boulevard is the place to be.  With the exception of Denny’s (not the tired American chain but possibly the best BBQ chicken you’ll find in Haiti), if you’re looking for a restaurant you’re going to find it on the Boulevard.  The Boulevard du Cap-Haitien is the uncharacteristically wide stretch of road lining the coast which Google Maps will tell you is Mardi Gras Reef, but don’t get excited because you won’t want to touch this beach with a 10 foot pole.  Drive northwest over the small mountain to some lovely beaches, and come back to the Boulevard for some food.  From the Auberge du Picolet, where my sister and  brother-in-law had their wedding reception, to Barik the cowboy bar.  Yes, I’m serious.  There’s something for everyone in Cap.

While this cupcake doesn’t make my list of Top 10 Favorite Cupcakes, the custom creations look great and it’s great for Haiti to be opening new and different businesses like this.  So, if you’re looking for cupcakes in Haiti, or simply want to support local businesses,  I’d recommend a visit!

Other posts you might like:

Haiti: More Than an Earthquake

Cupcake Crawl: Orange County

Cap-Haïtien is a port city on the north coast of Haiti in the Caribbean. Look no further than Goût Sucré Pâtisserie for cupcakes in Haiti.
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