Nowadays, it seems like just about everybody is a blogger or “influencer.” Especially in the travel space, there are a LOT of people out there on the internet giving recommendations and tips about where to travel and what to do once you get there.
So I thought it might be helpful to tell you a bit about what kind of blogger I am and how I like to travel. Everybody has a different style and interests and if you’re looking for recommendations you definitely want to take them from somebody that matches yours.
My Logistics & Situation
First things first, running this blog is my full time job. It’s not a hobby or a side gig. So I definitely travel more than your average person. I don’t have to worry about getting time off from my job for a trip, but I do have to justify my travel budget with my income. To this point (January 2022), I fund all of my own travel. I don’t go on free trips (I’ve done one-to Molokai) and brands aren’t paying me to come. This could change in the future but for now it’s the way I’ve chosen to structure my business. Being self funded allows me to go where I want when I want and give you my 100% honest thoughts about it.
While this is my full time job, I do not travel full time. I’m not a digital nomad on the road 365 days a year. I have a “normal life” when I’m not traveling. Family, house, dog, car, regular coffee shop, tennis schedule ; )
I don’t love long trips and being away from home for 4-5 nights is my sweet spot. Of course, depending on how far I’m going some trips need to be longer, but I also like quicker 1-2 night trips closer to home too.
My home base is Tulsa, OK and if you’re from any mid-sized city in the south or midwest I’m sure you can sympathize with living somewhere with a lack of direct flights. I’m always jealous of people who can hop on a direct flight with a major airline and be at their final destination in a couple of hours.
But also living in the middle of the country, I’m a bit desensitized to road trips. They just don’t seem like that big of a deal. If a place is less than a 10 hour drive and I’d need to rent a car when I get there anyways, I’m probably driving. I realize if you’re on one of the coasts that a 10 hour drive probably takes you through 5 major cities and seems a bit extreme, but if you live “in the middle” you get it.
When I do fly (still a lot), 99% of the time it’s with Southwest. And my preferred hotel chain is Marriott.
My Travel Style
My travel style is what those in the travel blogging industry define as “short term comfort travel.” You’re not going to find me on a three month backpacking trip through…anywhere really.
The longest I’ve ever been on a single trip has been two weeks, and it always feels like a long time. I like my home and my people and my routines.
I’m also VERY accommodation focused and really value a comfortable place to stay. While I love luxury, I’m not a trust fund baby and haven’t quite hit the level of only staying at the world’s ritziest hotels…yet ; ) I try to do luxury on a budget. I stay flexible with my dates and often plan where I’m going to go when I can find a less expensive pocket of days at a place that I really want to stay.
I definitely like saving money where I can, and if it’s a road trip or I’m just in a place to go go go for a few days, I’m pretty happy at a Courtyard Marriott. But overall getting the hotel right is usually the biggest part of the trip for me.
I will also choose to stay at a hotel or resort over a vacation rental/Airbnb every time. I find zero value in being able to cook or do laundry on vacation, I don’t love what they’ve done to local housing markets in big cities (or places like Hawaii) and I usually find that to get a nice one they end up costing about the same as a hotel.
Not saying that they don’t work super well for other people, but just letting you know that I’m pretty hotel oriented when I travel. There are a couple of places I go where I do use them (mostly 30a in Florida) and will tell you that I only use Vrbo and never Airbnb (have had terrible experiences with their customer service/corporate management).
I love good food, but wouldn’t consider myself a “foodie.” I’ll always scout out some good places to eat, and I probably value ambience as much as the food itself. I’m not opposed to spending $$$ on a good restaurant, but I’m just as happy with a burger somewhere. I also am in no way considered a healthy eater. My favorite food groups are pizza, pasta, burgers, and bbq and I have a serious sweet tooth. So you’re not going to get many gluten free, vegan, paleo, etc. tips from me. Sorry!
How I Decide Where to Go
Like most people who love to travel, I have a list of places I want to go that’s pretty much endless.
I love traveling all over the world, but since travel has gotten more complicated over the last few years, I’ve started staying closer to home. There’s so much to see and do just in the US that I’ve been making more of an effort to explore closer to home.
There are definitely places that are high on my travel list that I’ll go to even if it’s not super convenient to get there from where I live. But for the most part, I’ve started picking destinations based on:
- Places that are within 500 miles of home (so I can drive)
- Places that are an easy flight on Southwest
- Places that have a Marriott Bonvoy property I really want to stay at (usually a boutique hotel)
A few weeks ago, I actually got out a map of the US, put a point where home is (for me, it’s Tulsa, OK) and used a string to draw a circle in a 500 mile radius. Everything inside that circle is roughly a 10 hour or less drive (on a good interstate). It’s pretty eye opening to see all of the places that I could easily go. There are a lot of places that I would’ve thought were much farther than a 9-10 hour drive that made it inside the circle. I would highly recommend you doing the same with your hometown. It’ll give you a LOT of new travel ideas.
Things I Like to Do When Traveling
So when I’m deciding where to go or planning out an itinerary in a new place, some things that attract me are:
Boutique hotels: I usually look to see if Marriott has anything under their Autograph Collection, Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, or Design Hotels brands but I LOVE a good design oriented or historic boutique hotel.
Beaches & warm weather: I love the mountains, I love the desert, I love the city, but I probably love the beach best! And I try to avoid cold weather if it’s the last thing I do.
Historical spots & museums: I’m more into history museums than science museums unless it’s something really special.
National Parks (and National Historic Landmarks): I’m a National Parks junkie (although I’ve been to entirely too few of them) and LOVE National Historic Landmarks. I will go way out of my way to add another stamp to my National Parks Passport. The most obscure one I’ve been to so far is the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri.
Bookstores, local shops, and antique/vintage stores: I can get lost in a good bookstore, and I collect different Jane Austen editions as travel souvenirs.
Good drives: I’ll be honest…I’ll never pick a hike when a good scenic drive is an option.
Art, architecture, and design: Besides art museums, I really love seeing the architecture a place is known for and I’ve always loved art deco since my hometown has a huge collection of art deco buildings.
Local food (and a good dinner with a view): I am not one of these travel bloggers that eats at 12 different places every day and describes elaborate flavor profiles. Actually, I don’t even know what a flavor profile is. But I like good food. And my definition of “good” generally trends towards comfort food. And while I’m not super fancy, I always love a dinner spot with a good view.