You’ve booked flights on Expedia. You’ve relied on Tripadvisor. As you look ahead to what fun and excitement you can cook up this year, take some some tips from my toolbox.
Just have time for a daytrip or short
weekend? Check out www.skiway.net. Go
“on an astonishing journey into the past, where historic figures appear on
stage…you question them... the audiences are always a part of the show...and
the shows are FREE!” at Greenville’s Chautauqua. Kick up your heels
’s “Square and Round Dancers’ Fun
in the Sun”. At “iMagine Upstate
Festival” in Myrtle Beach
six stages “include a maker-space, robotics battle, live science demonstration, drone flight experience and an augmented reality experience.” At Greenville ’s Pecan Festival
you can “Run Like a Nut”. There’s ice skating in town squares, steeplechases in
championship rodeos in Blythewood and festivals and runs galore. All at our doorstep. Camden
Photos from a gigantic twig sculpture,
the world’s biggest cherry pie, a ten-acre whirligig farm, a house-size chest
of drawers and other oddities fill our family albums. Find these crazy pit stops on one of my
favorite websites: www.roadsideamerica.com.
It will remind you that the journey is the
destination. Coral Castle
Eschew the chain hotel for a more authentic experience. www.vrbo.com has been a great resource for us. On a girl’s trip to Chicago we stayed in a huge loft with a gourmet kitchen. In Amsterdam, friends joined us in a two bedroom apartment overlooking a canal. The friendly owners in Puerto Rico recommended restaurants near their lovely pied-á-terre. Often the cost is less than multiple hotel rooms if you’re with a group or if you’re staying a week or more. With Charleston being such a popular destination, it would be easy to take part in house swapping. Check out www.lovehomeswap.com and consider trading for a 3-bedroom apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower or penthouse on the sea in Tuscany. Annie and her family had a “fantastic experience” trading their Sullivan’s Island house for a rural farm in Tuscany. “He even let us drink his wine and olive oil” as they toured the countryside from Pisa to Cinque Terre. Here’s a website I’ll be exploring this year: www.glampinghub.com. It offers unique properties worldwide including barns, treehouses, caves and cabins ranging from rustic to luxurious. How does a vineyard yurt in Barcelona sound? It’s only $88 per night. Or a treehouse near Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. You can even stay for free if you’re willing to couch surf which involves staying with locals in their homes (or hosting travelers in yours) Sign up at www.couchsurfing.com, a network of 10 million interesting locals in over 230 countries.
www.vayable.com locals in cities
around the world share authentic experiences with travelers. A photography walking tour in
Paris, a food crawl in Rome,
a tour of for those considering
retirement there are all examples on their extensive website. On www.eatwith.com and www.travelingspoon.com vetted chefs host
small pop-up dinners in their homes. While
in Cuenca, Ecuador Bali, Meryl and her family spent 3 hours in
a family compound preparing multiple dishes from scratch with their Indonesian
hosts, using only ingredients grown nearby.
“We shredded coconut with a little bark grater while two little ladies
cooked over a fire all night. We ground
spices into pastes for the sauces.” It
was one of their most memorable experiences, especially the delicious corn
For active vacations, check out bicycling trips at www.backroads.com, or horseback riding at www.hiddentrails.com. The independent travel sites www.bootsnall.com or www.gonomad.com and www.travelsignposts.com have extensive compilations of first-hand experiences that stray from the beaten path.
Armchair travelling, I love it. I can spend hours reading reviews and imagining trips. If you’re like me and enjoy the planning almost as much as the going, these resources will launch you on your next adventure.