Speaking of our kids dreaming big, Joshua moved to Thailand in October of 2021. He enrolled himself in language school and started learning how to roast coffee. If you know Joshua, you would not be surprised to learn that he is quite good at roasting. Jeremy and I went and visited him in October 2022 and we were amazed at how well he could speak Thai and at the feedback we got on his roasting skills and his ability to carry himself in a foreign land. The latter isn’t too surprising considering this 3rd culture kid grew up in South Africa. Here are some photos from our time with him.
Let’s be real. Traveling costs money, sometimes a lot of money. I think a lot of people are confused at how we are able to travel so much. I’ve gotten creative over the years and discovered that it’s possible to go to exotic, fun places on a small budget. I utilize these tips every time including mine and Emma Grace’s excursion to Greece last Summer. We spent 10 days in Greece, seeing 3 of the islands, and only spent $2500 for food, accommodation, flights, excursions, and shopping for 2 people!
- Prioritize what’s important to you. Is it accommodation? Experiences? Food? This will help you focus on where you want to spend your money. Ours is always experiences and food!
- Plan ahead and book early. Flights and accommodation can fill up, especially in peak travel seasons. Booking early can ensure you get the most discounted prices.
- Search for coupon codes before booking. I always do a quick Google search for a coupon code before I hit book. An extra 10% here and there can add up.
- Join air mile programs. This is how I booked our air travel to Greece, by saving up air miles. Just look for how long miles last. For example…Delta’s miles never expire. American Airlines miles last a year and a half past the most recent activity date.
- If you’re responsible with credit cards, use them to pay for your daily expenses. I say this with caution, as this may not be the best fit for everyone. Know yourself and what you can handle. We utilize 2 different kinds of credit cards…one where we get cash back and one where we get air miles. We pay them off every month, so I feel it’s like we’re getting free travel and free money!
- If you’re traveling internationally, definitely use a no international fees credit card. You will get the best exchange rate with a card vs. cash. Just do your research and use one that doesn’t charge international fees!
- Research restaurants before you travel. I like to do this because, 1. It gives me an idea of price, 2. I don’t have to waste time while I’m on my trip trying to find places to eat, and 3. I can get an idea of whether it’s good or not before spending my money there. On our Greece trip, we did one nice restaurant on each island. The rest of the time we pretty much ate gyros!
- Look up per diem rates to help you budget for your trip. Per diem rates can be super helpful to give you an idea of what you might expect to spend, especially if you’re traveling overseas.
In addition to these tips, I utilize programs like Swagbucks where you can get points and cash them in for PayPal cash. You can also get cash back through Swagbucks for shopping at certain retailers (including travel booking sites). When I do this and pay with my credit cards, it’s like a double bonus!
Here’s to your next adventure!
After a very crazy ferry experience, we arrived into Heraklion, Crete about 2-3 hours later than planned. Our Airbnb hosts let us know that our place was within walking distance to the port, so that was the plan…to walk, with our luggage, to our apartment. If you can imagine a hot afternoon at the Santorini port filled with delays and little amounts of food, followed by a chaotic ferry ride, then navigating a new city in the dark with our luggage…well, moods were not happy. We made it to the apartment and then went and found a gyro shop and called it a night.
The next day was filled with exploring the square and shopping. EG discovered her favorite shop (which we ended up visiting several times while we were there). After an afternoon rest, we went to Peskesi. In each place we went, I tried to book us a nice dinner at least once. Ya’ll. There’s a reason this restaurant is rated 4.8 stars out of over 8000 reviews on Google. The atmosphere was so beautiful and the food was literally amazing. With a farm to table concept, they prepare local Cretan foods with such quality and taste. Gosh is was amazing, and we loved it.
Day 2 was beach day. I knew we couldn’t come all the way to Greece and not have a beach day, because these waters are so clear. We rode the bus to Agia Pelagia Beach and wasted the day lounging under the umbrellas and relaxing to the sound of waves. It was heavenly. We didn’t stay too long, because we had EG’s 18 year old photo shoot planned and a visit to Ligo Krasi Ligo Thalassa for dinner where we had quite the cultural experience eating fish that was caught that morning and trying ouzo (to which EG gagged). Luckily, the loukoumades (Greek donuts) helped to cleanse the palate.
We decided to spend our last full day with more shopping and trying out one final restaurant that was on our list. Heraklion’s streets and old vibe are beautiful, so we really enjoyed just walking the streets and seeing what was around the corner. After an array of shared appetizers at Plani (followed by some more complimentary ouzo), we strolled to the port for one last glimpse of the waters at sunset. It was a bittersweet moment as my heart sank a little bit knowing that our time was about to come to an end but also so very thankful for an amazing 10 days with my daughter!
I highly recommend taking your kids on milestone trips! You definitely won’t regret it!
Our next stop on our Greece adventure was Santorini. We spent 3 nights there which seemed like the perfect amount of time. It’s a small island! Since our flight left Athens super early, we landed early enough in the morning for a full day of fun. We took the bus from the airport to Thira (or Fira). The bus was super easy…just walk outside and there they are (they do only accept cash so be prepared for that).
Since we couldn’t check into our Airbnb yet, we walked to Kaffeine for a coffee and pastry. This proved to be a good find, because we ended up going there every morning! The kind lady working there introduced us to bougatsa. So good!
We stayed in a fantastic Airbnb. The night before we left for Santorini, I got a message from our Airbnb host that we weren’t going to be able to stay in the place we booked. The previous guests got COVID and the hospital was full, so they couldn’t leave. She graciously found us another place to stay…a brand new place owned by her friend that wasn’t listed yet. It was beautiful and so nice. We definitely scored!
Santorini is unlike any place I’ve ever been. The views of the caldera and the blue waters of the Aegean Sea are spectacular. Truly. We tried to soak in every minute of it. We did a lot of shopping, roaming in and out of the cave-like maze of shops. We also tried to eat our way through this island! Here are the restaurants we visited and loved…
Stolen Fruit ~ Their acai bowls were amazing.
Yogi ~ Amazing gyros.
Lucky’s Souvlaki’s ~ As the name implies, you’re lucky when one of their souvlakis passing through your lips.
Lotza (located in Oia) ~ The view was amazing as was the food. We had the fava starter and mousaka and pastitsio as mains. SO good!
Our other activities included an island day cruise with Santorini View. They pick you up from where you’re staying and take you the port. This 5 hour excursion was a beautiful way to see the island. And the lunch was fantastic. I found the service to be exceptional and would definitely recommend some kind of island cruise if you’re in Santorini.
We also took a bus to Oia one day. There’s a lot of things to love about this iconic town where everyone goes to get their sunset photos. (We tried that, but the crowds were insane.) The views are beautiful (as they are from all the caldera towns), and you can actually walk down to Amoudi Bay. We started walking down, but there’s a lot of stairs, and they’re steep, and it was really hot, so we didn’t go all the way down. If you want to see a glimpse of what it’s like, watch Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. And yes, there are donkeys walking up and down it! I loved visiting Oia but would definitely choose to stay in Thira again should I ever go back to Santorini.
After a very fun 3 days, our next stop was Crete. To incorporate all modes of travel, I decided to take a ferry on Seajets to Greece’s largest island. We took the bus down to the port. They only post the bus times the day before so you just have to walk to the bus station and find the handwritten note with travel times. Very efficient. I don’t know about all Greek ports, but the Santorini port is CRAZY. It’s utter chaos. Don’t spend more time there than you have to. It’s hot. There’s not much to do, and there’s not many covered areas. Our ferry was late which I guess is also pretty typical. When it came, they yelled something out, everyone got up and started walking toward the ferry. I assumed we were in the right crowd. We were toward the back of the line and once we were in the cargo area where the cars pull in, the gates closed. No one had checked our ticket, so I was really hoping we were bound for the right place. Luckily we were. Whew!
Last July, Emma Grace and I made the epic trip to Greece to celebrate her upcoming 18th birthday. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed in deciding where to go in Greece, because there’s so many islands. The only for sure was that we were flying into Athens before jaunting off to our island destination. We landed very early in the morning and left very early in the morning 48 hours later. I’m sure we missed a lot in Athens, but from my perspective, we got to see and do plenty!
I booked us a room at the Titania hotel (booking.com had a terrific price). It was honestly the perfect spot for exploring. Nestled in the heart of Athens, the rooms were simple, but it was an easy walk to everywhere we wanted to go. We took advantage of the free breakfast every morning and also dined one evening at the Olive Garden (not to be confused with the US chain restaurant) on the hotel rooftop. With the Acropolis in the distance, it was unforgettable.
Since we only had 48 hours to explore Athens, I tried to plan well beforehand. My philosophy is always to make a packed full schedule. If we decide it’s too much, then we can always leave something out. I chose to buy a ruins combo ticket through Get Your Guide so we could just pop in and see as many ruins as we wanted. After a few hours sleep and a good breakfast, we set out on day one. Here was our itinerary…
Athens Day 1
Changing of the guards at the government building
Temple of Zeus
Monastiraki Market (highly recommend!)
Falafel at Falafellas
Followed by gelato (can’t remember the name but it was close to Falafellas)
And then it was time to go to the hotel and sleep!
Athens Day 2
Areopagus Hill (otherwise known as Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul preached)
Dinner at Olive Garden
Athens proved to be such a fun and unforgettable experience. I’m so glad we chose to spend a full day there. Even though neither one of us are history buffs, we really enjoyed seeing the ruins and exploring the city. It was hot so if you go in the summer, be prepared!
We walked a lot, but for our hotel pickup and return, we used Welcome Pickups. I highly recommend them! Our driver was super helpful and even gave us tips on what to do in Athens. He also took us back to the airport. Also, tips to the drivers are not common which was nice to know beforehand.
After a city of ruins, we were ready to check out the islands!