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Taking Amazing Trips

Dad was always a pilot. He actually spent 27 years in the military, ergo giving me a special respect for the Armed Forces and a strange but natural patriotism long before the Gulf War and Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American.” Upon retiring, Dad found employment among the civilians of the world doing something he was skilled in and loved: flying [for an airline].

Of course, the news of this immediately excited me. I was already an avid traveler because of the whole military-brat lifestyle and I couldn’t wait to begin enjoying the perks of Dad flying for a commercial airline. Free tickets! Free buddy-passes! Now, I realize that not everyone has access to free travel. But let me assure you that I began my trip-taking adventures in college, and who in the world has extra money in college?! Following are some useful tips for an amazing trip to anywhere, whether it be a two-hour drive or a two-hour plane ride away.

[ENLIST A FRIEND]

Enlist a friend to come with you. Amanda has been my partner in crime from the beginning. She is adventurous, like me. We both like to sightsee, meet new people and pretend we know how to speak the language. We try to plan trips at least a month or two in advance so as to prepare and ensure for congruent schedules.

You do not want to take just any friend. The important thing to remember here is that you want to bring someone who is like you in some ways. Traveling with just anyone could ruin your time or their’s. If you are adventurous, take someone who likes to try new things. If you enjoy clubs, take someone who loves to dance. You like to sight-see? Are you a tourist? Bring someone with similar interests who will not be embarrassed that you used two roles of film on your first day.

[SAVE]

As you will probably read about in the future, Amanda and I ran into many-a-trip where we ran out of money at the last minute. Our trip to New York found us walking seven miles (in heels mind you) back to our hotel because the subway for which we had passes was closed down for a police investigation and neither one of us had any money for a cab. Believe me, the blisters were not worth it! Planning a trip at least a month in advance can give you enough time to save at least $300-500 to spend on a trip that will last two to four days. If that sounds like too much money, try planning the trip two or three months in advance. Putting only $25-50 away a week for two months brings in $200-400.

[RESEARCH]

Prior to our trip to Puerto Rico, I spent a few hours on research. We were to arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico on a Thursday morning and leave on a Sunday evening. I knew that we had exactly three days to sightsee and would need to pinpoint the places most important to us so that we wouldn’t get to Puerto Rico and not know what to do with ourselves or get into an argument about where we were going. Since I love the ocean and had tried surfing one time while in California, I wanted to go to Rincon on the west end of the island. The reason? In Rincon was a popular surfing spot called Tres Palmas, and I was destined to surf there! I made sure that I knew the basic direction we needed to go in, that we were able to rent surfboards, and that we could rent a car while in Puerto Rico in order to drive there. Amanda desperately wanted to tour Old San Juan, a historical area of the city we were staying in. I also researched a rainforest in Puerto Rico and purchased a scheduled tour there. Through our determination (and my Spanglish-thanks, Florida State!) we were able to keep ourselves very busy and very happy. Spend some time talking to people around you that have visited the area you are going to. Ask for their suggestions on cool places to visit and good eats. Get on the Internet and go to Google; you can search for just about anyone and anything on this website. Make sure that you have some sort of plan for where you are going and keep in mind that you may not know anyone there, so you are on your own.

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Lastly, make sure to enjoy yourself and take plenty of pictures. You may feel silly at first documenting anything and everything you lay your eyes on, but in the end, you will have a story to tell and pictures to go with it!

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