5 Best Things to Do in Aruba

What to Pack, See, Do in Aruba

When traveling to the One Happy Island there are a few things you need to know.

  1. On your Departing Flight you will want to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours early. You will go through local AND U.S. customs in Aruba before boarding your flight home.
  2. While Aruba is very developed and you can use your credit/debit card in lots of places, dealing in cash is quicker and much more convenient. Yes, they take U.S dollars.
  3. Aruba is actually one of the safest Caribbean islands in more than one way. It is rated as a Level 1 on the Travel Advisory. This just means to use normal precautions while traveling. Also, it is located south of the hurricane belt which means, no hurricanes! Well, very rarely anyways. The last one was a Level 2 in 2007 that caused minor damage.

Just like every travel destination, there are several MUST DO experiences in Aruba! We have set out to give you a guide to help you plan your own trip to the Happy Island!

5 Things You MUST See and Do in Aruba

1. Hit Up the Beaches!

              The beaches in Aruba are bar none better than any beach we have ever been to. In our last post we talked a little about Eagle Beach and Baby Beach, but we really wanted to make a special note that you should definitely carve out time during your stay to lie on any beach and soak in the sun.

  We recommend Eagle Beach for soft sifted sand and beautifully clear water. Some days, the waves were pretty exciting. There were only very strong swimmers out at these times when the waves began to pick up. This is the beach where our room was located. If it hadn’t been for our exploring minds, we could have easily lounged on this beach the entire week not seeking for anything else. It has everything a perfect beach day could offer. While the beach is hot, of course, Aruba’s wind makes being outside all day very comfortable.

  Baby Beach, located on the southern end of the island in San Nicolas, AKA Chocolate City, is a beautiful lagoon for shallow snorkeling and easy swimming.This is a perfect place for children, hence the name Baby Beach. Big Mama Grill is located on the end where you can purchase food or rent chairs and snorkel equipment. We decided to simply lay out towels under a mangrove of trees and spend most of our time in the water. There is a spot farther out away from the lagoon that has a warning sign for strong swimmers only. Of course, Hilary had to check it out with her snorkel gear. There were tons of tropical fish so close she could reach out and touch them.

2. Take an ATV Tour Through the Desert

               We booked an ATV tour with KiniKini Tours that allowed us to see several signature spots in Aruba. We loaded up on the ATV’s, which you can ride single rider or double, and we recommend that you ride single. We started riding through the town on paved roads admiring the homes and everyday life. However, once you get into the desert, the ride is rough and dusty. This only added to the thrill for us, but with two riders it can become uncomfortable after a while. You will also want a bandana or a cloth face shield of some sort to keep the dust out of all your lovely orifices. We purchased ours for 15 bucks a piece! Save yourself some money and bring one from home! Also, make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.

 On our tour we got to visit a Catholic chapel on the hill still in use, an old Gold Mill ruin, a natural land bridge, and a natural pool! All of the spots were interesting and beautiful in their own way. Unexpectedly, the views between the rides were just as pleasing. To the right, desert landscape full of cacti. To the left, cliffs with waves crashing. It was simply stunning. The highlight of the tour was absolutely the Natural Pool. After walking down what seemed like 300 steps, you come to a clearing. Just behind slippery rocks that you have to climb over and slide yourself into the pool. The current was strong here, as well. The pool is surrounded by huge bouldering rocks that are blocking huge crashing waves. This was worth the work to get here.

 We decide to swim over to the very distant edge to get an Insta worthy pic. About that time, the biggest wave of the day crashes over the rocks and onto our heads submerging us underwater. Off we go! The current takes us on a wild ride, when the second biggest wave of the day hits us. It certainly gave us quite the thrill and certainly no Instagram worthy picture for us. Back up the 300 steps we go!

3. Tour Oranjestad

Oranjestad is this lovely island’s capital city, and it is where you will fly in and out of Aruba. We spent one morning walking around the city. We found it to be unique because of the mix of cultures which include the indigenous people of the island, Spanish, Africans, and Dutch, just to name a few. The architecture is all different, as well, with touches of Dutch flavor since they are a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There are tons of places to stop and eat. We saw food trucks, restaurants on the water,  and elegant fine dining. We could do an entire post about food. As a matter of fact, we will. Also, a variety of shopping is everywhere. We stopped at the local markets and browsed the high end retailers. Our favorite store: the local grocery store.

Transportation to explore consist of rental cars, cabs, and the trolley. We decided to walk, but the trolley would have been a nice option. It is free, after all, and begins at the cruise ship terminal at 10:00 AM. It runs downtown, and the doubledecker offers great views.

4. Explore Chocolate City

 As we have mentioned above, San Nicolas is on the southeastern portion of the island. The locals of the city have nicknamed it Chocolate City because they are proud of who they are and where they come from, and rightfully so. This city will fill your artistic and eclectic soul with culture and appreciation of the roots in Aruba. This is where our friend, Jermaine, is from. Had it not been for him, we would have had no idea what San Nicolas is all about. With that said, if you visit here, we ask to please be respectful and courteous as this is not a very touristy location. This is where people live and celebrate their everyday life. It’s a colorful, vibrant place with restaurants and art galleries to wander into.

Strolling around downtown, the first thing that stood out to us were the murals. OH MY GOODNESS, THE MURALS! The buildings are covered with the most beautiful realistic paintings. They are all spray painted by the locals. Truly, jaw dropping skills here.

We can’t forget to mention San Nicolas is also home to one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world! This takes place around the time of Ash Wednesday usually in February or March. But, if you can’t make it at that time, they also have festivals every Thursday night in the months June through December. This consist of everything from food to crafts to performers to just plain culture.

We would like to state, we headed home before dark, ‘nuff said. That was just our judgement call.

5. Nightlife

After spending the day on the beach, or exploring nature, or wandering through an artsy city you might want to get cleaned up and go out on the town. We try to try out the night life everywhere we go, like we have mentioned before, we have exploring minds and just had to find out what was out there! There is a section called the High Rise area. There are restaurants, places to hang out, and laid back bars located here. We began walking the J.E. Irausquin Boulevard in Palm Beach where we found this lovely food boutique named, Picnic. This place was gorgeous. We quickly became friends with the bartenders there. They were so friendly and answered any questions we had about their life in Aruba and then some. After some time there, we were ready for some dancing. Our new friends sent us over to Gusto Night Club Aruba.

We passed a lot of interesting places you could dip into if you wanted, but our dancing shoes were on. We pushed forward to Gusto’s. This was our place. They had an inside bar with air conditioning that played Caribbean Dance music mixed with American rap. The room opened to the front area that was covered but felt like you were more outside. We danced, we laughed, we experienced.

Aruba was a place of fun and friends for us two cousins. It hit all of our travel senses: relaxation, adventure, culture, art, excitement, and food. Stay tuned for our next post: The Tastes of Aruba!

One Happy Island

Some would say that the happiest place in the world would be Walt Disney World, but Aruba may argue it’s actually their 69 square mile island! Known as “One Happy Island”, the desert like landscape makes for a great playground! We were granted the opportunity to travel with some friends on this trip. We have traveled just us two, with all of our immediate family, and now we are extending our traveling posse to some friends. The more the merrier! Come one, Come all, to the Hilary and Rachel travelling extravaganza! A condo with Hilary and Rachel and Caitlyn and Matthew and Shelby and Zach is bound to look like a circus moved to town.

We want to start this post by saying that no matter where you are in the world, surrounding yourself with good people is the key. We had a blast spending a week with these folks. Some old friends met some new friends, and we all enjoyed spending our days and nights on the island together. While we think everyone should travel by themselves on occasion, getting to share the experiences and creating memories together builds a lifetime bond! Obviously, traveling with a larger group makes things like going potty or getting all showered up for dinner a little more tricky (que Mr. RUN MC here), but it was nothing a little poo pourri and paper rock scissors couldn’t handle.

We started the week on the Happy Island by checking out the condo! We were perfectly located on the edge of Eagle Beach. Check out our view from the image above. We were proudly told by locals, Eagle Beach just so happens to be ranked in the top 3 best beaches in the world! RIGHTFULLY SO!  The beach was sifted soft sand. Where the waves washed and crashed, the sand felt almost like memory foam as your feet sank into the wet sand. Then, once you submerge yourself into the blue water, it’s almost like a looking glass. Standing in chest deep water you could easily count all ten toes! Pristinely clear, it allowed for an easy going mind knowing that you could visualize the sea monsters if they decided to swim anywhere close by. However, the whole week we never saw any underwater animals here on Eagle Beach. It made floating and frailing and swimming very relaxing!

We also made our way to a local beach on the other side of the island called Baby Beach. Baby beach has all the snorkeling! The water is much calmer here, and the fruity colored fish love all the corals and reefs! The beach has beautiful mangroves that provide the perfect shade. You can also rent tents, chairs, and snorkeling gear during the day. It is about a forty dollar taxi ride from where we were on the opposite side of the island in Oranjestad, but lucky for us we got to make more than one trip there because we were graced with the presence of a friend from home who had all the connections. Our friend Jermaine, whom we have hung out with a ton in the states, actually grew up in Aruba. He took the time to fly on down, visit with his family, and made it his mission to ensure we got the insight to all Aruba had to offer! We really appreciated his expertise and hospitality! Because of him, we got to try some local fruit, we ate at two local restaurants that are not easily found on the web, we learned about what it meant to be above the bridge and below the bridge, how the oil refinery was bombed in WWII, what it was like going to school there, their healthcare system, and SO MUCH MORE! It was nice to hear how Aruba takes care of their people, providing healthcare and education to their citizens was impressive to the healthcare professional and the educator!

This trip was unique in many ways to us. The most notable difference being that we traveled with friends instead of family this time around. The world of Rachel’s friends got to collide with the world of Hilary’s friends when we all went out together one night. The night began as a sophisticated and classy night…keep reading to find out if it ended the same way!

We began our night with a wonderfully magical dinner on the beach at sunset! Located just down from Eagle beach was Passions. An elegant beach side restaurant serving 5 star meals. Matthew, Caitlyn, and ourselves splurged here for dinner because who doesn’t love dinner with such a wonderful view? We all shared a bottle of wine, inappropriately loud laughs and comments, a few slow dances, a succulent meal, and of course dessert with a huge sparkler! You should know we made it through this dinner relatively unscathed. With only a few side glances, we managed to all act like adults…for the most part! We started a myriad of picture taking on the beach. We were the first to get out there to capture the beauty of the sunset and our friendships here! It was not long before the rest of the Passions going folks were taking their glamour shots, as well! What can we way? We were trendsetters that night. After our meal and photo shoot, we headed out for the night!

Matthew, and Caitlyn, and now Jermaine all loaded up with the Carryon Cousins for a night out on the town! We had ventured off to an area just north of where we were staying in the “Low Rise” area. This section was full of smaller condos and bungalow type villas where people rented. The area we traveled to was called the “High Rise” . This is where the larger and some of the all inclusive hotels and condos were located. There were several streets here lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Our lovely Matthew was the life of the party this night! We found this adorable food boutique called “Picnic” located in the turn of the street. With pretty lights, and a perfectly boutique color scheme we stopped in for their $5 Cocktail Happy Hour!

It was a smaller venue, and we all filled the place up! Not only did we take most of the seats at the bar, but we filled the place with our laughs and our outrageous personalities! The bartenders there shared with us some local history, some tips and tricks, and our bloodstreams with all the happy hour deals! As the night drifted on, we found our way to another place where the vibes where bumping with bass and a little bump and grind!!! The bar GUSTO hadn’t known what had hit them…and neither did Matthew 😉 The bar was recommended to us by the bartenders at picnic. We told them we had on our dancing shoes (JK, all the girls had on high heels! What were we thinking?) They happily obliged us with this recommendation, and they did not disappoint! We spent our time and money here for sure! We danced the night away, but we knew when Matthew was trying to dance in the streets, our night was coming to an end! Rachel’s shoes had made their way off, Hilary had mysteriously lost a toenail, Caitlyn held it together, and together they held Matthew out the window on the ride home. All the while, Jermaine had ensured all of our well beings……Tuesday night in Aruba had treated us well!

Our friend from Picnic who gave us lots of good places to visit. Pro tip: Listen! Never stop listening to the locals. You can always learn so much from them.

This night was one of our favorites on the island, not because of the drinks or the dancing, but because there were five of us, out in another country spending time together and having a ball! We all come from entirely different walks of life. None of us where in the same career paths, none of us live in the same city back home, yet none of our differences mattered that night. At the beginning of this trip a few of us had only met once or twice, some of us had never met at all, and some of us have known each other our whole lives. It was so unique to get to meet and greet with new and old friends. Seeing how we all meshed and vibed was going to be an adventure in itself, and it was an adventure all its own! I think everyone was cautious the first couple of days, learning everyone’s habits and what not, but by the end of the trip we felt like a small little family. Like we had spent a summer with them pretending to be on The Real World or The Jersey Shore! We are so thankful to our friends for making this trip so special to us! They were perfect roomies because everyone was not afraid to venture out and do their own thing! We all went on different excursions and we all did one together, as well! We ate and cooked and cleaned all at different times throughout the week. We didn’t feel like we had to be hip to hip throughout the entire week. We felt we found the perfect balance between being together and being independent enough not to drive each other batty by the end of the trip!

It was the perfect harmony, or maybe it was just the air in Aruba that made us all happy! It was hard to be angry with the crystal clear water and the larger than life ocean breeze that kept you cool being so close to the sun. As Hilary said “It is AMAZING how hot it is here!” We all learned this one way or the other. Whether at the beginning of the week or at the end everyone of us wound up a little toasted and roasted at some point throughout the trip, but Cailtyn was the lifesaver who bought the burn aid and aloe! We would like to add that one of Aruba’s exports is aloe! There is a big difference in their sun AND their aloe vera! The burn aid and lotion combo they sold locally really made a big difference! We 10 out of 10 recommend you get some while you’re there! Or you can even order you some now at this link, here!

Despite our burns, we really did enjoy our time exploring the whole island. We even enjoyed just walking downtown! Looking in all the shops, and stores, seeing what all they offered at the local grocery store was a lot of fun. We want everyone to experience the love of travel that we do! We want you to enjoy reading about our adventures and helping create your own! This trip we are going to throw something new at ya! We are going to make a travel guide! What to pack, what to see, what to do, and where to eat! We are going to give you all those tips and tricks FO’ FREE! So, if you are interested in Aruba, you will definitely want to stay tuned! We will want all the feedback, so please leave your love, questions, and comments for us here or on our instagram!!

Suck It Up

This weeks blog post is brought to you by two tired cousins! This is our honesty post. Our ugly post. Our reality check post.

The luster from our Jamaica trip has officially worn away. With last week’s blog post it really hits home that our trip is over. All good things must come to an end right? Speaking of things coming to an end, Hilary learned just last week that it is “much easier to break up with a new boyfriend if he lives in another country!” 😉

When travels are over there seems to be a lull in all the fun and excitement. And that is OKAY! However, we are coming to you from a very transparent point of view…. We are hella tired. We are tired because we WORK ALL THE DAMN TIME in order to make our finances work for our next adventure! It may seem very lavish that we are traveling several times throughout the year to exotic destinations, but we promise it does not come without a price.

Admittedly though, if we can do it so can you! Hilary works over 180 hours bi-weekly! Rachel is a teacher AND a waitress. There are days where Hilary works from 7 in the morning well on over into the morning hours. The same goes for Rachel, from the time the school bell rings until well after the dinner bell she is working non stop. We do this because we want – NEED – to travel. At the end of the day if it is important to you, you will make a way, if it’s not important to you, then you will make an excuse.

We’ve found this notion doesn’t just apply to traveling. It also applies to saving money, or losing weight, or dating someone. If you want to, you will. End of discussion.

If you want to lose weight, you will work out.

If you want to save money, you won’t buy the new dress.

If they want to talk to you, they will.

All of the statements… all of the truths. Traveling has helped us develop our philosophies in all areas of our lives.

This idea that “You will do what is important to you” is what keeps us both running on fumes a lot of the time. After working a long four hour case with no bathroom break or so much as a drink of water, Hilary knows that it is just a few short weeks until she can bask in the Aruban sunshine.

When Rachel has answered the same question for the 34th time that day, she knows that her toes will soon be in the desert sand of the tiny island. We use traveling as our motivation. As our inspiration. As our fuel to push forward into life.

Here is one thing we know about life so far. Life sucks. Work sucks. Bills suck. Getting called in at 2:00 a.m. and finding out it is your shift that has to close down the restaurant REALLY FREAKING SUCKS. Laundry sucks. Taking out the trash sucks. Having cracked heels sucks. Having a wild chin hair sucks. Getting your tag renewed sucks. There are lots of things in our life that SUCKS! We bear them, we endure them, we mundanely walk to the end of the road and throw the trash into the can. All because laying on the beach does not suck.

Feeling the sun tingle on your skin doesn’t suck. Waking up whenever you want on vacation with no alarm clock doesn’t suck. Feeling your taste buds wonder around the new food in your mouth doesn’t suck. Fitting into last year’s bathing suit doesn’t suck. Seeing the sunset behind the palm trees doesn’t suck. Making new friends doesn’t suck. Falling asleep in a hammock doesn’t suck.(Speaking of which, if you are looking for a nice new hammock you can get yourself one here by using our link!) Laughing with your best friend at 2:00 a.m. doesn’t suck, and knowing you will always have someone to help pick you up when you are down….doesn’t suck.

You can’t have one suck without the other, okay…..  We embrace the sucky parts in our life. In a sense we enjoying the sucky parts (like working) because we understand that the equation to happiness is more traveling. So the more we work, the more we can travel. The more sucky parts = the more not sucky parts!  We aren’t in Jamaica right now floating down the river on an intertube. We are at work saving lives and teaching humans on little sleep, and you know what… it is hard and a little bit sucky. However, the healthy patient and the bright student make it a little more bearable. We are both lucky enough to have jobs that make a difference in people’s lives. We are lifechangers, and that doesn’t suck. Also… it pays… WILL WORK FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES!!!!!!!!

We are working for financial freedom and also to find ourselves in this big vast world. We are testing our limits and plowing through boundaries we always thought we would have. We surprise ourselves every day with what we accomplish. But we warn you… it is not pretty.

There are tears because when we are tired we are both overly emotional, and frustration from constantly feeling worn out between our trips, and delirious laughing because we often wonder why we are even doing this to ourselves. Yet, we know deep down that it will all be worth it. The sunsets, the sunrises, the feel of the new air, the taste of the food… It will all be worth it. Getting to share all these moments with all of you makes it worth it. Getting to experience all of the new things life has to offer us is challenging, but so very rewarding!

One Love

For those of you who have been following our journey through Jamaica know that we have conquered Dunn’s River Falls, tubing down White River, kayaking the Caribbean, a long day of shopping, the infamous Luminous Lagoon, and we have not had one mother daughter dispute yet! And, for those of you just joining us, you should know it has been a crazy ride in just 5 short days!

We made it to our vacation bliss which is where our new place and our new environment has begun to feel like home. However, the end of our time here in Jamaica was quickly approaching! We could feel the air getting a little thicker as we knew we only had about 48 more hours to soak in all the Jamaican culture had to offer. It was the next 48 hours that would really change us.

If any of you know us personally, you already know neither of us has ever met a stranger. Whether it be in the bathroom at a pub or the gas station down the street Rachel and Hilary have both been blessed with the gift of gab. This wonderful quality came in handy early on in the trip. We had the opportunity to meet two locals who were possibly the most genuine human beings we have ever met on the face of this whole globe. It was Monday when these two hit it off with us! We enjoyed chatting with them both throughout the entire week. They are the ones who mentioned we try the local Pork Pit, and they gave us some insider tips on the local way of life. After building a rapport with them they gave us an amazing opportunity later in the week!

We set it all up for Thursday night. Now before you go all crazy on us, and preach to us about safety and traveling abroad we will preface the rest of this story with this statement “We are very competent, safe, aware, and responsible. We are also calculated risk takers and fear missing out on glorious moments.”

Now, where were we? Oh yes…Thursday morning we spent the day resting from our Luminous Lagoon tour, and then prepared for all the fun that was in store for us that night with our new local friends! We had on our cutest dresses and most comfy sandals because that night we were going out into the city like the locals! Although, we must admit to you all, it was VERY obvious we were not locals at all.

Our new friends met us at a local bar, that was conveniently located just behind the police station. 🙂 It was a quiet little tiki hut filled with people who seemed to have just gotten off work and where enjoying a cold one to unwind. There were tv’s showing the local track and field competitions. The high schools were all competing for the titles! It was just like a sports bar here in the U.S. in the way that the old men were laughing and enjoying themselves. The bartender was pouring and serving up all the food and drinks. And the ladies were soaking in the views as the sun was setting on Montego Bay.

It was noted that the lovely bartender served us our drinks with the lids still sealed and allowed us to pour our own drinks. (We told you we are responsible!) We spent some time here chatting about the sports on tv and how this little venue was used for weddings and events… and it was not long after the sun went down that our friends wanted to show us “the newest spot in town”.

Hilary and Rachel gave each other knowing looks and we headed off to a very magical place atop the whole world it seemed! After about a ten minute car ride on the “high road” which is what the locals call the road that leads to the top of the mountain that overlooks Montego Bay. It wasn’t long until we arrived at a very upscale restaurant and bar!

It was here and now we realized our new friends definitely had friends in high places! We were greeted by the owner upon arrival, and then given a tour of the entire place! We were personally all escorted to the FOURTH Floor! This floor just so happened to be the rooftop where you could look out and see the lights shining on the bay like a thousand little lighthouse beacons!

Leaning over the railing with the salty night air on our face, we both pretended we were Rose from the Titanic because that is what everyone should do in a moment that magical. We also unapologetically admit we have no pictures for you guys. It was a time when cameras couldn’t even capture the scenery. It was a time when the clock stood still. When the world stopped spinning. It was a moment when we felt like we were truly living.

A new country, with new food, new drinks (green apple vodka and white cranberry juice is a great Jamaican twist on the classic vodka cran by the way), and now we had new friends. Our friends gave us memories we will have for our lifetime and probably many more lifetimes as we will always tell of this moment when talking of our time in Jamaica. We couldn’t thank them enough for showing us their part of the world. They showed us hospitality, generosity, and what it is like to connect with people who are completely different from ourselves, but also in so many ways….no different at all.

Our night was coming to a close as we safely and soundly were returned back to our resort. We would get to say goodbye  again to our new friends before leaving on saturday, but we knew then that it might very well be the last time we would truly get to enjoy their company. It was a wonderfully sad goodnight.

The last day at our resort was Friday. We awoke with plans to do nothing but bask in the sunshine! That is exactly what we did. All four of us, even the sunburn prone Susie, laid in the sun soaking it all in for the remainder of the time we had. We had a late lunch and we proceeded to capture some styled photos of us all together. We wanted to have these captured moments to always look back on.

Hilary had set us all up perfectly in the “golden hours” of sunlight, which is just about an hour before the sun goes down. We had our silly moments, our serious moments, our moments of thankfulness, and awe, and most importantly our moments of love.

Also, so everyone is not just taking selfies and everyone can be included in the pictures, there are a couple of professional photographers on sight who will give you a photoshoot in just a moment’s notice. We had them take a few shots as well. The pictures could be purchased in the lobby. So after our glamour shots we went to have dinner one last time together in Jamaica.

Our Mommas were the “Supermodels”

After reminiscing on the wonderful moments our trip had provided us over dinner, we went off to the lobby to see how our professional shots had turned out. Rachel isn’t one for pictures that much, and decided to opt for the views of the ocean while she put full trust in Hilary to choose the perfect pictures.

While walking away from the busy lobby, Rachel headed to her favorite sitting spot. Which was unusually crowded this time of night… There were only a few seats left. She noticed an older gentleman dressed to the 9’s sitting over by himself a bit. She decided he was a safe bet, and kindly asked if he minded her joining him.

….. This was the beginning of one of our most favorite two hours of our lives.

It wasn’t too much longer before Hilary had joined them. Assuring Rachel the pictures turned out perfectly and introduced herself to our new friend.The conversation with this new man began quickly and flowed effortlessly. Our new friend was Aubrey, which just so happened to be the name of our Paw Paw (southern word for Grandfather). We felt as if that might have been a little bit of a coincidence since they both ran moonshine back in the day! Our new friend Aubrey informed us that he was soon to be 99 years old in just a few short days. It wasn’t long before we were starry eyed listening to his life stories. And believe us, he had many!

Aubrey was born into family where one side was dirt poor, and the other side was very rich. He told us neither side of his family was interested in him and at the age of nine he was living with his aunt and grandmother working as a slave in Jamaica. He told us how he soon took to the shores and landed in Florida as a young teenage boy. He began working in the kitchen of a restaurant for a Jewish man. He said the money wasn’t coming in fast enough for him so he started running moonshine on a bicycle at night. Although, he told us he wasn’t quite aware what he was actually doing until the moonshine gig got him arrested and deported back to Jamaica.

At the young age of 19 he headed back to North America, but this time…to Canada. From Canada he found himself a job that allowed him to travel all over the world. He landed in London, and decided to call it home. In London, he met his wife. He pulled out his wallet to reveal a lock of her silver hair, and a picture that revealed the fairest, most beautiful lady. The picture was them on their wedding day. He told us “We fought like hell to get married”. Aubrey, a dark Jamaican man, and his wife Gale, a fair skinned blonde, were not exactly a typical match back in the early 40’s in London. It was after he met his “brainy” wife, as he described her, that he began to go to night school. With her help, he went to night school for ten years to become an expert in the steel industry. He showed us his ring on his hand that he received after graduating. It sparkled with a red ruby on the top. He told us the five keys to his life that made him successful.

  1. Money
  2. A good woman
  3. Scotch
  4. A good cigar
  5. A good dog

We were in awe of the life this man had made for himself, and as he would take long draws from his cigar, we would hang on his every word like the smoke hung in the air. A man born into slavery, retired a millionaire. As he continued to talk his voice gave way a bit as he began to tell us why he was not sitting with his wife that night.

Their whole lives together they loved to travel. After he had made himself a successful man, they spent their times traveling to different countries all over the world. His favorite country was Ireland with the hills and the castles. His wife’s favorite…. Jamaica. They would visit the resort we just so happened to stay at every year. He told us every year around the turn of spring they would come to the resort and have a private dinner on the beach. They always had a bottle of champagne and she would always say “woohoo” every time she heard the bottle pop. It was her favorite drink. He told us that while she never smoked a day in her life, she would always sit right beside him, in the chair Hilary was sitting in, teasing him about how the last bit of the cigar made him stink, but she never left his side.

It was with a smile and a crackled voice that he began to tell us how the doctors informed him two years ago that his wife was very ill. The doctors told him that he was not to carry her on any more travels. She suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was around her birthday that Aubrey began to ask Gale what she would like to have to celebrate her next year of life…. To which she replied…. Jamaica. He informed her again of the doctors orders, again to which she replied…. Jamaica.

Against the doctors orders they hopped a plane to Jamaica. As tears begin to well in our eyes, he told us of the last time they spent together in Montego Bay. They were on the beach at their private dinner when the server brought their usual bottle of  champagne…

“I knew my wife was no longer with me when the bottle popped and she just looked off into the distance without so much as a single woohoo.”

It was two weeks later upon their return home that Gale passed away. It was year later, he was at their same spot, smoking his usual cigar, sharing his life with us. Telling us all about what “One Love” really meant.

Tears were streaming from our eyes, and his, as we all basked in the heartache that love often brings. His cigar was almost gone by now as the hours had past. We knew it was getting late , and we had early morning flights to catch the next day. Our time in Jamaica had come to a bittersweet end. We stood up to say our goodbyes and began to walk to our room.

Shortly realizing we needed a picture to document a moment that forever changed us, we swiftly turned back to take our picture. It was then that  we realized we were not the only captive audience. Everyone around the sitting area had stayed to listen to Aubrey share his story with us. The bystanders and listeners where so quick to help us capture our moment in time. After our pictures, our hugs goodbye, and our tears wiped away… Aubrey said “Goodnight, I will see you both next year!”

Despite having an amazing time doing all the “tourist attractions” we know that the reason we travel is because of all our new friends. The people we meet along the way help to take our cultural blinders off a little at a time. They reveal to us worlds of new stories, and heartbreaks, and new ways of life. Our new friends in Jamaica revealed to us our One Love. Our One Love is traveling. It brings us all the other things we enjoy in our life. We enjoy nature, and food, and culture, and people. Our One Love of traveling brings us all the love we will ever need.

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life -and travel- leaves marks on you.

No Wet, No Fun

The Carry On Cousins go INTERNATIONAL! Just when we thought the world was not ready for us… the world quickly showed us we were not ready for it! This was a life changing experience for us in so many ways. We learned so much in just a short week. We learned about another culture, different food, different landscape, different people, and even about ourselves. As we embarked on this journey through Jamaica we were thinking about you guys, our readers, and how we could capture our beautiful moments in order to allow you to see what you could expect if you ever visited there.

So, we are prefacing our next few post with this statement: Our writing and pictures will never even almost live up to what we experienced. We will not be able to deliver to you the taste, the sounds, the sights, or the emotions we experienced. We ask you to read our post with one purpose, and that purpose is to help you book your next trip. It does not have to be to Jamaica, but you have to travel. You have to go and experience something new in your life.

Now, let us begin with the fact that an international flight is an experience all of its own. TSA can be scary, but we promise if our Momma’s can do it, you can too! 🙂 Hilary and Becky flew to Jamaica and got the party started on Saturday. Rachel and Susie followed closely behind arriving on Sunday. Our meeting in the lobby looked as if we had not seen each other in years. When it had only been the weekend before that we were sitting on the front porch laughing that the next time we saw each other would be in another country. Needless to say, it was the longest week of our lives!

After everyone was accounted for in Jamaica, we got a slow relaxing start. We got situated in our rooms and then quickly made sure we got our money’s worth from the all inclusive package! However, we must admit, day one we were not in the best head space. It is almost shameful to admit that we were in a new country on a trip we had been looking so forward to, yet we were still feeling a bit down and out. Honestly, there were Itty bitty bikinis and abs walking around everywhere it seemed, and by the end of the night we found ourselves throwing a pity party on the beach by ourselves. The beach was empty and we were just sitting there talking over our own insecurities. We were talking about fears and how our life may not turn out the way we thought it would. We think it is important to note that while in the pictures we are all smiles, there were definitely tears on this trip. We want you all to know that we often experience this on night one of our travels. It is almost like we experience a little bit of culture shock in a way. This is the residual effect of pushing oneself out of the comfort zone. It was not that we were sad and depressed but rather, a little uncomfortable in our new place. However, whether it is tears or the ocean, the salt water is the key to healing.

And with that notion, we did some self validation and began to say how thankful we were to have this opportunity. We began to talk about how we were going to try and make this the best trip EVER and….. just about that time, there was a loud POP of a champagne bottle behind us in the distance. This beautiful couple was having a private catered dinner behind us. We two single ladies rolled our eyes so far back into our heads and just laughed until we cried. The irony of the situation was undeniable. Our life is a comedy movie and yall are just getting to watch it unfold! We decided to let the couple have their privacy and headed to our room for the night.

We felt better the next morning by visiting the place where all the drinks (coke, sprite, and water, of course) were served all day free of charge! It got our spirits lifted and our inhibitions lowered! We had not been together for more than twenty four hours before we already needed a nap to calm us down from all those Cokes and Sprites we drank! The guys behind the counter really know how to work those fountain drinks, let us tell you!

It was on day two that we booked all of our excursions and the good times of exploring and learning really began to roll now that our “spirits” were taken care of! We spent the rest of the day sleeping and soaking in the sun.

Tuesday morning came early with an all day excursion! We were off to hike the infamous Dunns River Falls, spend some time on a private beach with food and drinks for lunch, then tubing down the White River. You can check out more details on booking your own tour here.

Keep in mind, cruise ships dock on Wednesdays causing a rush of crowds.

We hopped on a 25 passenger bus with our driver, Randy, and our tour guide, Yanice. They provided safe travels and stories and tales of the country and the excursions we would be doing that day. They gave us interesting facts and information about local way of life, food, and government there on the island. For example Ochos Rios stands for eight rivers. The river we floated down there is called White River because of all the limestone rocks. When the water washes over the limestone the water turns a milky white! Limestone is also a big export for Jamaica, as well! We played a little Jamaican trivia long our ride to Ochos Rios, and admittedly, Rachel loved every minute of it! (And yes, of course, Rachel knew the answers to every question, just like the studious teacher she is.) Randy and Yanice made our ride very enjoyable with their charismatic and warm nature. We do want to inform you that when you book these tours you will be making a few stops at other hotels to pick up passengers along the way. So, understand that while it may only take thirty minutes to drive straight to your destination, your ride may be a little (or a lot) longer depending on where your hotel is located and how many people will be traveling on the bus with you. However, with the “more the merrier” attitude you will enjoy getting to converse with the passengers and the guides, as well.

When we arrived to Dunns River Falls, we were not exactly sure what was in store for us. We had seen pictures and watched videos but nothing quite prepared us for the journey ahead! We were under the impression we’d be hiking more alongside the falls, but no. You go right up the middle of a 950 foot tiered aqua blue waterfall! This was a beautiful and challenging experience! There were kids and grannies alike attempting to climb up the wet rocks and flowing water but we warn… this is not for the faint of heart or for the weak ankles! Speaking of ankles, your footwear is very important. Online and at the Dunn’s River Falls they will recommend water shoes, however, we saw many people losing their footwear because of the rushing water. We both had on waterproof sandals that had straps we could tighten to our comfort. The ability to tighten our shoes made us feel as if our footing was more secure and we didn’t lose our footing or our shoes like some of the other hikers. Rachel had on Teva’s and Hilary had on Chacos.

Now our mommas set this one out, and let’s be honest, we were all glad they did! We had an amazing time, however, you hike the falls with a group of twenty or so while holding hands to work your way up the falls. Since you have to hold hands to help push and pull the group along the rocks, it is advised to get between some folks of the same ability as you or else you’ll find yourself feeling more like Stretch Armstrong!

After the exhilarating hike, we traveled a short ways to the private beach. Here we splurged for an upgrade, and it was well worth it! We had long layout chairs on the beach instead of the regular chairs like the others. We also had unlimited drinks and much more succulent food! We had an appetizer, a festival ( a corn fritter like roll that is AMAZING), a main course that consisted of jerk chicken AND lobster tail. We were also treated to a little strawberry puff dessert. There was a small place to purchase Jamaican goodies, as well. However, we knew we would be going on a shopping tour the next day, so we opted to save our money here. The beach was very scenic and had great photo ops!

After filling up on the food and drinks, we headed to another gift shop for a prompt tasting of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Here we got to see all the school kids walking home from  their day at school. Since Jamaica was a British colony until 1962, the schools adopted some of their traditions. For example, they are required to wear uniforms, and it was quite a site to see all the youngins!

We then headed to the river for tubing! It was absolutely so much fun just rolling on the river! Our water guide was very energetic and personable! It was adrenaline filled on the little rapids with lots of laughs and absolutely relaxing at the same time! Even though this was considered a “touristy” activity, there were locals swimming in the river that interacted with us and made us feel like we belonged. We floated about two miles down the river before taking a boat pulled raft out into the ocean where the sun was setting. Our bus was waiting on us on the beach.

By the time we arrived back to our resort we were definitely in need of some R&R! We had a morning shopping tour the next day. We had dinner at the buffet at our resort and turned in for the night.

It was only three days into our trip and we had all experienced once in a lifetime thrills! We learned so much about the country! Randy and Yanice made us feel as if we had become a local by the end of the day by teaching us a little Patwah (the Jamaican dialect) and sayings like “Ya Mon”. We found out that in Jamaica there is no such thing as a problem but only “situations”. We decided to adopt that notion for the rest of our lives! Everyone has situations in life that that are hard. We think of them as problems that cannot be overcome, but the truth is that when you really pick them apart they are just situations that have solutions and answers. When we saw how far we would have to climb up the falls, we thought we had a problem! While scanning the waterfalls for quick and easy exits, we pushed through, and standing at the top looking down at the lush greenery and falling water we knew that we had just accomplished a great feat! It was a rewarding day filled with lots of water which means a whole lot of fun because in Jamaica they say, “No wet, no fun!”

We still have four more days to conquer in Jamaica, so stay tuned! We are only getting started! Next week’s post you will get to see what shopping in Jamaica is like! Also, we will show you all what it’s like on the inside of a local Jerk restaurant!

Keeping It In The Family

Let’s catch you all up to date: we have been on a hiking adventure with our dads, New Orleans with our mommas, and now this weekend we spent it with our siblings! We are keeping it in the family! Our family is our biggest supporters and we love having them along on our adventures. They have raised us, shaped us, provided for us, and gave us just enough dysfunction to make us funny.

To start the weekend off Riley, Rachel’s sister, hitched a ride with Rachel to Hilary’s house! This is where the weekend began. We had big plans of a night out on the town which very quickly turned into a girls night in! Riley was full steam ahead seeing it was her Spring Break week from college, but we working girls were running on fumes at this point. So after some much needed catching up we found ourselves nestled quietly in the comfort of Hilary’s king sized bed! The three girls love their sleep!

The next morning Riley was off to bigger and better things since she had to return to school, but we couldn’t leave Heath, Hilary’s brother, out of the sibling weekend. We packed up our things and headed to Hartselle, Alabama. We had a big day of hiking ahead of us.

Hilary had planned a day and night tour of the Dismals Canyons in Franklin County, Alabama. We stopped first to pick up the sibling cargo. Heath and his wife Jessie were going to spend the day with us and they so kindly let us stay the night with them! We began our day of hiking by eating lunch. Everyone knows you need to be all fueled up for your adventures. Also, we like to eat and don’t need an excuse to find good food! Heath and Jessie suggested we go to Cardinal’s! It is a cute retro styled drive in with the best burgers in town! We all ordered and then shared all of our food… family style of course! There were chicken fingers and burgers and onion rings and milkshakes galore. After a little bit of gluttony we headed on our way to the canyons.

We arrived around 3:30 pm and committed to the day time self guided tour. Hilary had called the week before and reserved our spot for the night time tour. The combo day/night tour is $18. A special note: the day time tour can be purchased on site the day of your hike, however; the night time tours book up quick! We will tell you why shortly!

The day time hike was amazing. Moss covered boulders made for a breathtaking site! It was almost as if there was a little leprechaun waiting to jump out from behind the little rainbow. Also, rest assured there was no pot of gold at the end because we looked long and hard!

There were so many waterfalls and trickling springs and run offs everywhere! It was cool down underneath all of them. We shimmied and crawled around on them like kids on a playground. There was fun little bridges to cross and stepping stones that tested our balance… and our bravery.

Also, you should know Hilary is not afraid to jump on the swinging bridge while you’re trying to cross it!

We spent almost three hours exploring the canyons before we decided to hike back out for a break before the night tour. We ate dinner there at the Dismals Canyon lodge and spent the better part of an hour just hanging out and taking in the views.

Now it was time for the night tour! The night tour is special here because it gives you the opportunity to see a tiny little creature that are only native to this one spot in THE ENTIRE WORLD! There are similar species located in New Zealand and Australia but you will only get your chance to see these GLOW WORMS right here in North Alabama! Known as Dismalites, these tiny little fly larva are famous because they have a very unique feature. THEY GLOW IN THE DARK! This is why you will have to book the night tour in advance!

You will need to pack a flashlight along for this hike in the dark! Once you enter the cave the tour guide will teach you how to train your eyes to adjust to the dark and then you’ll begin to see the cave walls light up! It was fun to get to experience something so rare and located right in our very own backyard. Check out the website http://www.dismalscanyon.com for more information, and note the best times of the year to visit is May/June and September/ October.

We had a great time catching up with our siblings this weekend, but the weekend went by so fast! Typically we would be saying that with a frown, but not this week!

The countdown is on to JAMAICA!!!!! This week is what we call “Hell Week”. It will be spent packing, list making, reservation booking, and WAITING! The week before a big trip is always a little bit stressful. We want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible and that we have everything we need! Becky and Hilary will be flying out of Nashville on Saturday, and Rachel and Susie will be catching up with them on Sunday when they leave from Atlanta.

We cannot wait to have our toes in the sand! But with the countdown approaching, here is our to do list!

1.Pack the carry ons

2. Book transportation from the airport to the condo

3. Secure the passports and all travel information

4. Inform the bank and credit cards of out of the country travel

5. Set up international calling – NO ROAMING CHARGES

6. Don’t lose our minds  

No For Sure… It Was Memphis

We know last week ended with a cliffhanger, and you have patiently waited to know what happened in Memphis for the second half of our trip! We appreciate your nail-biting and slightly psychotic rocking on the edge of your seat!

To bring us all up to speed, it had been an amazing fun-filled day of museums, barbeque, celebrity spotting, and sightseeing. We attempted the walking bridge, but couldn’t take the 33 degree weather any longer. Rachel, being the planner she is, knew that after waking up early and having a full day, a nap would be needed. So, onto the Airbnb we go for some much needed R&R before we hit up Memphis nightlife. We had just taken the ramp onto Interstate 55 toward Coldwater, Mississippi, and had calculated that we had about three hours to nap, get glammed up, and head back into town. Then all of a sudden… like a blur in the window… Hilary spotted what Rachel already knew was there. Hilary gasped…. Hilary pointed…. Rachel knew….

Two short exits down, Rachel was getting off the interstate about six miles before their intended exit of Clearwater.

We HAD to turn around.

We could NOT just drive past it and NOT stop.

It was our duty as traveling women.

Ten short minutes later we arrived…. At the TANGER OUTLETS!

Located right off of Interstate 55 in Southaven, Mississippi you can find the shopping mecca that will provide you with all of your shopping desires! The full list of stores can be found here if you’re planning your trip soon!

We know life is all about choices and on this day we chose shopping over sleep like any woman would do. We had fun trying on all the clothes and giving each other nods of approval and stank faces of disapproval for the hour we had dedicated to getting some zzz’s.

With an arm full of shopping bags, Hilary met Rachel in the car (Rachel tapped out about twenty minutes before Hilary) and THEN we headed on to the Airbnb.

Upon arriving at the picturesque Wynnewood Cottage, we were met promptly by our amazing host! Aaron made sure our arrival was smooth and accommodating. He had given us the code to enter AND generously ushered us into our home for the night. The cottage was decorated to feel like a southern traditional home with all the comforts and amenities! Hilary and Aaron shared tales of antiques and decor while Rachel marveled over the swing in the front yard!

Once we were settled in, Aaron was on his way. Admittedly, we would have been happy if he had stayed around and hung out with us longer! Preface: the bed slept like a cloud!!!

If you would like up to $55 dollars off your first stay with AirBnb you can use this link! We recommend AirBnb to most anyone wanting to travel comfortably and keep a tight budget.

We stood there with our carry on luggage unfolded and outfits laid out, staring at each other, knowing we so desperately wanted to go to sleep, and let us just say how important self awareness is as a traveler. We knew in the pits of our bellies that if we so much as closed our eyes while in a horizontal manner, we would not get back up.

Off to the shower Hilary went because she takes longer to get ready (self awareness). After Rachel showered the hair and makeup marathon commenced! We had these really cute outfits for the night out, but both of us opted for something a little more casual. You know it’s not a girls trip if you don’t change outfits at least three times in one day.

We settled in on final touches for the comfy outfits, adorned in our sneakers and sweaters, and pointed the car toward the Historic Beale Street. Now, this is an important note for all you Memphis goers, parking is pretty readily available anywhere. However, you do need to prepare to dish out a couple of dollars every time you relocate your car. Altogether for the weekend we spent about $40 dollars on parking. This is one small downside to not staying in town and calling an UBER. We figured the budget for parking or calling an UBER would be about as wide as it is long.

Upon turning onto Beale Street, there is no mistaking where the party is! The neon lights work as a beacon calling in the good times! We knew we wanted to hit up the famous B.B. King’s Blues Club. It is conveniently located on the corner next to a parking garage. Instant and easy decisions were made there.

Walking into the place we knew it would be great because there was a line. That’s how you know where the good stuff is! We waited behind the velvet rope to pay our $7 cover and made our way to the bar. The first round was down, and the early night band was exiting off the stage. Hilary made the best decision when she went and got us a table on the second story! We were perfectly overlooking a little balcony down onto the stage.

To be as crowded as it was, the service was super speedy. Apparently, they’d done this before. We decided to split the entree and dessert as we weren’t exactly starving (noted: a rare occasion). Let us just tell you though, the Chicken Fried Chicken is a double whammy of redundant goodness!! The sides perfectly paired. I mean who doesn’t love some mac and cheese?! The roasted vegetables cleanse the palate and made way for the White Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with ice cream!!! (Sorry, we devoured it before the thought of a picture ever occured. Live in the moment right?)

Over dinner, we chatted with an adorable couple from Wisconsin who was on their way to New Orleans for her birthday! Sharing our funny accents over conversation was nice, and it’s a part of traveling that we love so much! Meeting new people make life just a little bit better!

We had just taken our last bite and paid the waiter when the house band fired up! When we say we RAN down the stairs we are not exaggerating. Like shamelessly “should have worn a different bra kinda ran down the stairs”.The rhythmic blues filled the air with a sweet southern voice laying perfectly atop some of the best music we have EVER heard. Let us just say the B.B. King All-star Band can have our $7 cover charge any day of the week and then some!!!  

Never batting an eye at the fuddy duds in their seats, we made a beeline out onto the dance floor. We understand this isn’t shocking to any of you who know us. Our strong advice: DANCE! You will find that mob behavior is real. It is never longer than a verse of the song before others will use you as an inspiring excuse to get up and dance, too! We spent the next couple of hours there soaking in the atmosphere and dancing our hearts out with the mob that so quickly followed in our two steps.

After a while of two-stepping to the beat, we both decided to get out of there and see what the rest of what Beale had to offer. There was a dueling piano bar just down the way, and since it had started to drizzle we quickly stepped inside. As we stepped over the threshold, a beautiful melody rang out across the piano keys.

Hilary stopped dead in her tracks. The singer let it ring out “ Blame it all on my roots…”

She turned around to death stare at Rachel who finished with “I SHOWED UP IN BOOTS!”

Needless to say, we didn’t stay there long. Country music just isn’t Hilary’s thing. We stayed just long enough to pee and let Hilary ask the security guard where the next best place was to finish out the night!

We found ourselves in a white girl dancing club, showed ‘em how it’s done there, but was quickly ready to call it a night. The “no nap” had caught up to us. We left and as we were walking by B.B. Kings, we could still hear the band firing it up.

We didn’t ask each other. We didn’t even look in each others direction. We just waltzed right back in there. We flashed our stamped hands at the security guards and hopped the velvet rope like we were “regulars”. Again, there wasn’t a soul to be found on the dance floor, and just like the time before, we walked right past the fuddy duds and onto the stage where Hilary and the lead singer shared eyes and matching dance moves until the wee hours of the morning!

We safely made it back to our home for the night, ecstatic with our new adventures. Ecstatic that our “Best Idea Ever” was really feeling like we thought it would. As we tossed our carry-ons onto the floor and our bodies onto the bed, we knew we right where we wanted to be.

The next morning, we traveled to the Blue Plate Cafe located downtown on S Court Street, and ate until we were MISERABLE! Miserable, let us tell ya! All the pancakes and french toast and eggs and sausage and honey biscuits that two people’s hearts and stomach could devour right there in downtown Memphis! Some sins scare us, but gluttony ain’t one of them.

We wobbled our way back to the car and pointed it toward home. Walking in Memphis was a song Hilary was tired of Rachel singing, but it was the best weekend trip we could have done to kick off this blog!

Maybe It Was Memphis

This is the first trip that we took just for the purpose of helping you, our loyal readers, to become travelers as well. With that, this post presented itself as a real challenge to us. We decided that Memphis was the place to visit because it was a new city for both of us. It was also doable in a weekend’s time, and better yet, we spent LESS than $200 for the whole entire trip! We are gonna show you how you can do it, too!  

Memphis was new territory for both of us. Unsure of what to expect, we set out to find as much information we could in just a few days time. We asked around to our friends, family, and coworkers for advice on what to do while we were there. We are going to be explicitly honest with y’all. We were given crime rate statistics, warnings, and advice on how unsafe the city could be. We don’t want to be the type of people who judge a book by its cover, but this did persuade us to book a quiet airbnb about thirty minutes outside of the city to ensure that our sleeping quarters would be safe for the night. (The airbnb went above and beyond our expectations. More on the details of the cottage later) However, despite all of the the information paraded around us about being safe, we never once felt like we ever in harm’s way.

The night before we discussed our plans and concerns. In order to cool both of our anxieties about the city we laughingly joked… you have never seen a big ol’ gal who has gone missing, much less two of them. So, we reminded ourselves to put on our big girl panties and go live our big girl life. We made smart decisions by never separating from each other, watching our drinks when we were on Beale Street, and staying in the well lit areas of the street and parking garages.

We started our trip early on Saturday morning around 6:30, and was out the door around 7:30. It would have been sooner, but first…. Lemme get an egg sammich. Hilary is an egg sammich making machine!!! This is just one way we saved ourselves $6-$8 on eating breakfast on the go. We had our carry-ons loaded down in the car along with a small little cooler bag with drinks and snacks. Again, cutting down cost on gas station snacks and fast food is a great way to save money on weekend trips. The money adds up quick resulting in a savings of around fifty bucks or more by the end of the weekend.

We had about a three and a half hour drive between where we are in North Alabama and Memphis. We were headed straight into the city to explore before heading to our Airbnb. Our check in was not until 3:00 that afternoon. Also, if you are headed from North Alabama to Memphis, the directions are really easy. Go to Decatur, turn right, and keep going until you see the Old Muddy Water Mississippi RIVER! We felt as if we became delirious because we stayed on the same road for so F$@%^#$^ long!

After lots of music, laughs, discussions, phone calls to jealous friends and family, and all the packed snacks we arrived at our first stop: The Lorraine Motel and The National Civil Rights Museum. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Located at 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103. It was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Tickets where only $16 and gave us access to two buildings. Honestly, it probably deserves its own post because it is so much more than a museum.

It is an experience that every American should partake in. WARNING: We UGLY cried more than once. If you do one thing in Memphis, DO THIS.  We had arrived at the museum around 11:00. We finished everything the Museum had to offer around 12:45. We allotted ourselves two hours here and it was perfect. If you had a larger group or smaller children we would recommend a little bit longer. Also, by the time we were leaving the crowd had grown significantly.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved a way as a martyr for the Civil Rights movement here in America. To even begin to write about him in this post is quite the honor, and a great task.

We had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, Tennessee just before MLK’s birthday. What we saw here while we were on our little weekend trip was life changing. We don’t mean it was interesting, or inspiring, or great, but in so many ways it absolutely changed our lives, our mindset, and our beliefs.

We want to note that before we continue to write about our experience and thoughts here, we want you all to know that we understand there is still unjust and unfair treatment in the world today. Right in our very own cities and towns, we see things that are unfair. People mistreating other people due to their race, sex, or beliefs. In the true spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we want to approach this topic with love, empathy, and respect for everyone.

The quick planning of the trip lead us to the National Civil Rights Museum for many reasons. The Civil Rights movement is associated with the 60’s but we feel like the movement has continued on into a part of our generation, as well. In our society today, we still see police brutality and unjust treatment of people of a different race or ethnicity.

When we arrived to the museum we were excited with anticipation of getting to get out and stretch our legs after being in the car for over three hours.  We knew the museum would be great because of the reviews we had scanned over on the way there. However, neither of us had an inkling of what we would experience on the other side of those doors.

The time is always right to do what it is right. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Upon walking into the exhibit, we both felt a swarm of shame, embarrassment, and even guilt. The first exhibit we encountered was the depiction of the “Middle Passage”. The slave trade was where it all began. To know that human beings had to endure such cruelty and filth was unimaginable. To read about it in school or to even study it in college, as Rachel did, it still was not as real as seeing it before in your own eyes.

We made our way throughout the rest of the museum almost in silence while reading and watching different clips and seeing the harsh reality that was our nation’s history. The stories of lynchings, bombings, protest and murders left us without words and in moments, without breath. There were replicas of the busses, of the sit ins, and of the peaceful protest. All bringing and pulling tears to the surface of our eyes. It was toward the end that there was a short documentary playing on a loop that pulled the tears past the surface and streaming down our faces.

The documentary told of the famous Mountain Top Speech.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the speech to the congregation at the Mason Temple in Memphis. The night of April 3rd, MLK did not believe there would be many people to turn out for the rally due to the weather; however, he was mistaken. After receiving a phone call that the house was packed, he went to deliver a speech he had not written.

Unbeknownst to the world, this would be his last speech. Yet, if you listen to him speak, he may have known this would be the last time he would ever speak to the public again. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed just a day later around 6 pm on April 4th.

In his speech, he is quoted saying how he wished that he could live a long and prosperous life, but if he didn’t get to he was at peace with it all. He quoted death more in this speech than any other he had delivered. It was if he knew his own fate was quickly approaching.

After watching the documentary and sitting in utter silence with tears streaming down our face, the reality of his fate was lying just on the other side of the door we had entered. We got to see the hotel room, just as it was the day MLK was assassinated; the blankets on the bed lie unmade, the ashtray still filled with crushed cigarettes, the newspaper lying on the table. Looking out the window where a wreath marked the spot that he became a martyr.

The impact of his death was felt far and wide. The stress of the incident even caused the owner of the Lorraine Motel, Loree Bailey, to lapse into a coma. She died five days later.

As we looked out across the street at where James Earl Ray shot and killed MLK, it was weary and sorrowful. An experience we will never forget. It felt like just standing in the walkways we could hear MLK calling us into action. Calling us to speak out, and give a damn about the injustice that so many people still face today. We are not sure that we can stand up and cause a movement as large as he did, but we know without a shadow of a doubt we can make a difference, even if it is just by being nice and showing love to everyone we meet.  

Located just across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum was Central BBQ. Important Note: There was a line here… out the door kinda line. Long lines typically mean good food. We both were not feeling too hungry after what we had just witnessed at the museum. Jointly, we decided to cross off a few more things before shooting for a late lunch. We were hoping the pig lovers would have eaten and gotten out our way way by two or three o’clock. Hilary and I are a lot of things, but patient isn’t really one of them. This is one way we are very much alike.

We traveled just about two miles down the road to Sun Studios. You can find the studio nestled on 706 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103.

It is rumored by Marc Cohn  that you can see the ghost of Elvis somewhere on this road. Rachel was so excited to get there, and was looking at all the scenery that she blew a red light (Sorry Mom and Dad that I left out this detail when we talked later). Thankfully no one was harmed in the making of this road trip or blog. The Sun Studio has FREE PARKING located at the back of the building. We didn’t know until after we parked two blocks away. However, it was free street parking, so we are not complaining about anything but walking in the cold.

The Sun Studio is the recording studio famous for hosting people like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and many more. The tickets were only $14 dollars a piece for a tour that was set to start in just 15 minutes. We opted out of the tour and just explored the lounge, snapped some pics, and fingered through all the merch they had for sale before moving on. We recommend this spot 10/10 stars for instagrammable pics!

Less than a mile down the road is the Peabody Hotel, located on 149 Union Ave. Here we paid $8 for parking just a block from the famous hotel. There were several options to eat down the little side street, from Subway to a fancy Italian Steakhouse, and even a Mexican restaurant. The Hotel was so elegant and would be a wonderful place to sit for a bit if you needed some time to fill. There was ample spots for people….  And DUCK… watching. The hotel is notorious for the famous duckies. At 11 am in the morning, they are ushered down the red carpet to the fountain where you can view them all day until later than night. It gets really crowded when they are ushered on the red carpet, so we opted to view them a little later in the day to avoid the large crowd. If you got some kiddos with you, this might be something you’d want to do. However, heed the warning and get there early for a good spot!

After the duck viewing, THE TIME HAD COME… WE. WERE. HUNGRY! So, we took the two mile drive back to the Central BBQ joint…or as Hilary called it, “The Big Beautiful Blue Building” The alliteration almost brought a proud tear to Rachel’s English teacher’s heart.

Here, Rachel had the rib plate. When in Memphis right? The meal cost $19.93, which is a fair price for good ribs, also the year Rachel was born. A coincidence? We think not. Rachel ordered them half dry rub, and half wet. We sampled both sides and as the amateur food critics we are, we deemed the wet side as the best side (In Rachel and Hilary’s best “Remember the Titans” voice, “WET SIDE!!!…… STRONNNG SIDE!!!!) Hilary had the pulled pork sammich with some bomb baked beans! Afterwards, she ordered the meat and cheese appetizer to go. It was a great to snack on in the evening.

Also, speaking of food critics, guess who popped into Central while we were eating there???? Joe and Kendall from Bachelor in Paradise!!!!! Rachel was caught off guard by Hilary’s jaw dropped expression, and pretended she knew who they were. Hilary watches every episode of the Bachelor, the Bachelorette, and every other spinoff. To say she had a small meltdown was an understatement.

After eating all the bbq, all the sides, and drinking all the soda, we were feeling a little guilty about our gluttony. We made our way to the Mississippi River Walking Bridge.

It was a good idea in theory. A terrible idea in implementation. It was freezing balls cold outside, but we wanted to give you, the reader, the real experience. It was so cold that we were hurting. We were going to rent and ride bicycles across the bridge, but the snazzy phone app was complicated. It hurt too much to have our hands out of our pockets, BUT, being the badasses  that we are, we still had to walk on it just to prove we did it. We made it, maybe… and that is a hard maybe. A tenth of a mile onto the bridge we snapped a couple of “for proof” pics and walked a brisk and winey walk back to the car. Unless you’re looking for an actual workout, save yourself the walk and just drive over the damn bridge. Nothing to see here, folks; keep moving!

The walking bridge extravaganza pushed us to our breaking point for the morning and we were ready to scadoodle on to our airbnb for a scheduled nap. Around 4:00, we put our gps on the airbnb address and pointed our car in that direction. We could not wait to get in a solid nap before going out to experiencing more of Memphis’s nightlife later.

I mean, honestly, even after two blog post, do you think driving to our airbnb and taking a nap is what happend? Make your predictions of what happens next in our comments section! Then stay tuned for next week’s post on how you can finish out the Memphis trip in under $200!

Compatible Carry-Ons

“First things first [y’all] the realest!” – Iggy Azalae.

We set a goal for 100 views on our blog in a week! Y’all managed to give us that in just two hours of our website going live! We want to say thank you so much!

Now, onto what this blog is about! A wise woman once told us “If you think you love someone, carry them on vacation with you!” It is so easy to think you would get along with someone for extended amounts of time if you see them on a regular basis. However, this just is not the case. By the end of the week, you are ready to ship your bestie, boyfriend, coworker, or whoever you brought with you back to where the hell they came from. It is so important to find someone you are compatible with! This does not mean someone who is just like you. Compatibility means despite your differences you still get along and work well under stressful situations together. Traveling is so fun and often times very relaxing, but it can be hectic at times when flights get delayed or the hotel room will not be ready for another three hours. One thing that is great about us is that we are VERY different and also VERY compatible. We are the CRAZY to the other one’s SANE! We have found that we are complementary in all kinds of situations. We often joke that we have the best of both worlds. Rachel a brunette. Hilary a blonde. Rachel an old soul. Hilary a free spirit. The list goes on and on.

Now being the “Carry On Cousins” that we are, we wanted to give you a little insight as to how we are SO different. When it comes to traveling there are only two things you need to make your trip happen: a carry-on, of course, and MUSIC! Whether you are traveling by bus, plane, train, or car, music is the key to those long stretches of time between you and your destination.

The packing strategies we use differ entirely! Hilary is a fly by the seat of her yoga pants kind of girl. She firmly believes in the idea that plans are meant to be broken. Approaching the night before a travel day, you can find her elbow deep in the closet pulling from her extensive collection of girly blouses, colorful camis, and extensive array of flirty dresses. She shamelessly throws options in that are bold and stylish. She ain’t scared to mix patterns or textures. She is a last minute packer who can stay calm while the clock ticks away. Rachel, on the other hand, is always on the go with her carry on packed and loaded in the car ready when the horn sounds. She lives her life as an organized mess. You may not can find her favorite sneakers but she knows without looking one of them is under her passenger seat and the other is at the bottom of her carry on. Her time spent as a girl scout has taught her to always be prepared. When the time comes to pack she was ready to leave ten minutes ago. Not to mention, she is shaking and trembling scared to death she is going to be late while Hilary is casually looking for her `purse` chapstick.

So without further adieu, here are the top five things we MUST have in our carry on for a successful trip!  

5 things Hilary Has to Have in Her Carry On

  1. Travel Size (we like to call it “baby”) Vaseline – I have to have this with me because I need to keep my feet baby soft with absolutely NO blisters. Honestly, I get sore bruised heels from being on my feet all day at my job. Healthcare ain’t for the faint of heart… or feet.
  2. Chapstick(s) at least two – Moisturization is KEY!
  3. Tweezers – The closer you get to thirty the fewer candles you are blowing and the more chin hairs you are plucking! Protip: pluck in the sunlight for optimal plucking pleasure.
  4. Headphones – I ALWAYS have to have my music playing. I love setting up a playlist for travel days. DJ HILLY in the house!  
  5. Yoga Pants – The most versatile clothing item ever! You can dress them down with a sports bra or dress them up with a blazer.

5 Things Rachel Has to Have in Her Carry On

  1. Snacks – Snacks are life. IDK why this ain’t on Hilary’s list
  2. Something to read – I am tired of reading about the new airline credit card pamphlet tucked in the back of the airplane seats… When I get bored, the world is in imminent danger so I need some form of entertainment with me.  
  3. Tide2Go Pen – Snacks can get messy… Also, see post “Best Idea Ever” I might fall down in the mud.
  4. Bluetooth Speaker – While Hilary has her headphones for the plane, once we get in the room we need some jams to pump our tires up while getting ready for the night out on the town! This is where my UE Roll comes in handy!
  5. Scrunchy- My hair is everywhere! (My favorite are the Dewedit Scrunchies which you can get here )

Now as previously mentioned, music is so important when you travel. It is the soundtrack to your life. You want to have the best background music at all times. Admittedly, this is probably where we disagree the most. Hilary has the best eclectic taste. She is almost always the DJ on the road trips with a playlist for every occasion. Rachel, on the other hand, often just clicks on the radio and lets the station control what is going to be played. Which means if she turns on the radio in Alabama, it is going to be country music. Hilary HATES country music. (Besides like 90’s country, which we can all agree is a genre all its own)

SO…. We have completed a list of songs for you all that we both love, and songs that we hate.

Songs we both like

Hilary’s songs that she loves, but that Rachel hates

Rachel’s Songs that she loves, but that Hilary hates

Finding your compatible traveling partner is so important. Honestly, it does not matter where you go, it is who you are with that makes the trip a memory that lasts a lifetime. There are weekends that we have spent lying around on the couch not doing a single thing but breathing, and it was the best rejuvenating weekend ever. We both encourage you to find your person and make the most out of your everyday lives. Life is about experiences, adventures, and most of all memories. Around these parts, we like to say “Make memories, not plans”. Don’t sit around waiting for life to come to you, go chase after all the things that make you happy!

The Best Idea Ever

Today we set off in our backyard… well not really. We travelled just a ways up the road to Desoto State Park located atop Lookout Mountain. The past week had freezing temperatures of 18 degrees! However, today, the second of February, it was a whopping 65 degrees in north Alabama. With cabin fever settling in just a day before, we both needed the vitamin D brought by the big ball of fire in the sky. We headed to the dusty trail. Just kidding.There were parts that were soaking wet (Rachel will have more details on that in the video we post).

The trail started at a pretty steep decline of dry brown leaves and quickly became a scenery of lush green as we neared the falls. The water that begins in Desoto State Park leads its way into Little River Canyon. There are so many little trickles of waterfalls both big and small. As we treaded down the small narrow paths we spent time catching up on the week past. Hilary was just back from a work trip to San Diego, and Rachel had spent the first part of the week enjoying time off because of the snow days! The previous weekend we had spent together in Nashville, Tennessee! There were lots of reminiscing about our wild night on Broadway and tales of new experiences in San Diego.

After a short walk across an adorable little bridge, we came to an overlook. Now, something you should know about us is that we both love to live our lives on the edge, so this is exactly what we did. We climbed onto the overhang to let our legs drift in the air over a fifty foot drop! We were sure to keep our booties firmly planted so we couldn’t fall off. Shout out to our mommas for what they gave us! They would not be happy with our ideas to hang our legs off the cliff, but they do love how our relationship has grown so much over the past couple of years. Also, pro tip: always bring snacks! We were feeling earthy, so we shared gummy worms. It just felt right.

At this point we were only about halfway to our destination. We packed up all of our snacks like good hikers do, and saddled up for the rest of the hike. We followed the trail that lead to some marshy like conditions. It would not be until we returned on our way back that Rachel would find herself on a slippery slope. When we finally took the last hop onto the smooth rocks, the rushing water from the falls were revealed. The sun was shining brightly without a cloud in sight, an extreme contrast to just 48 hours ago. We slipped off our shoes like the little Indian girls we are. Feeling the earth below our feet helped center our minds and our bodies. We spent the next hour laying on the rocks, snapping gorgeous pictures of the scenery, and enjoying the serenity of the water rushing along the river bed.

The sun was drawing closer to the tree lines and unfortunately the temperature was dropping. We packed up once again and began on our hike back to our car. Rachel, the calculated confident thing she is, decided to comment on how well she was avoiding the marshy and wet parts of the trail. Shortly after, Karma felt it was necessary to bring her back to the reality in the worse way. One wet rock and down she went.  Hilary, the sarcastic empathetic thing she is, laughed and tried to ask if Rachel needed a hand. We had to take a moment to document about how wet Rachel’s momma given booty was after the fall. The wet shorts and shirt did NOT stop us from stopping by the local ice cream shop on our way home, though. We highly recommend that if you ever find yourself close to Desoto State Park you stop in and see Mildred, the sweetest woman you will ever know, at the Parkway Ice Cream Shop!

As we were sitting outside at the picnic table, lapping up our ice cream cones (Rachel had classic chocolate and Hilary made the solid choice of cookies-n-cream) we began talking about all of our fun times and sparked together this great idea: A BLOG! It is a running joke that Hilary does not have the best memory, and Rachel’s brainspace can only hold so much. We needed a place to store our adventures, so here we are!. This blog will act as our memory! Providing us with flashbacks to our favorite moments in our life. While we do love to travel, we want to encompass all of our favorite parts of our life as well.

We are not alike in many ways. We bring to the table different perspectives, different clothing styles, different talents, and many different preferences across the board. We believe that is what makes us so unique. We are so different, but we get along and work so well together in all kinds of situations… and we do mean ALL KINDS. Our ability to do so comes from our fundamental similarities. For example, we both are either flaming hot or ice cold. We are passionate about the matter with all of our being or express no interest at all. We give ourselves to our hobbies, relationships, and goals 100%, This allows us to chase after our adventures wholeheartedly. So watch out world, we have our carry on packed and we are ready to see the world through all new lenses!