Hello, Internet friends from all over the world! How’s 2019 going for you so far?
For us, it felt like January was about a year long and then February and March zipped by. That seems to happen anytime whenever we travel a lot – by the time we get home, months have evaporated, the new posts and videos have piled up and we are filling in the dry erase board with a whole new calendar of content to create.
It’s been a relatively quiet couple of months for us as we’ve put the pieces in place for the rest of 2019. Of course it hasn’t been quiet for us behind the scenes – we’ve been making deals and signing contracts and strategizing so that we could reach our goals for this year. And now the real madness begins! Right now, Rae is on a plane to the Middle East, I’m in the car with Rick on the way home from a relaxing family weekend in the North Georgia mountains. Sheba, as usual, is living her best life and sleeping cozily on my lap.
We are sprinting into Q2, so let’s get started on this latest edition of Reflections from the Road, shall we?
THE JET SISTERS | ORLANDO
We filmed another episode of The Jet Sisters! This time, Rae’s adopted hometown of Orlando took center stage. If you haven’t seen us screaming around Lake Tohopekaliga on an airboat or just about losing our lunch on the StarFlyer, take a peek. We’re really proud of where the show is going and the feedback we’ve been getting so far. So much more to come!
- Catch The Jet Sisters Orlando episode
- My favorite, the bloopers!
- Read all about our 48 hours in Orlando itinerary
NEW YORK TIMES, BABY
In January, I braved the cold and spent a week in NYC to attend IMM and to speak on a panel at the New York Times Travel Show. I’m really loving the speaker life (I know – WHO AM I?!) and my fellow panelists nailed it and made the whole thing so easy.
It was such a fun throwback for me to be in the city again, because I stayed in my old apartment in Hell’s Kitchen and ran into so many PR friends from my agency days. And yeah, karaoke until 5 a.m. happened. It was a treat!
STUDENT LOAN STATUS: PAID IN FULL
Almost 15 years since graduation, I just paid off my student loan last week! Is this what finishing a marathon feels like? I had merit-based scholarships to cover 75% of my tuition, so I used the majority of my loan for books, dorm, my sorority (which provided housing and food for three years of school) and my study abroad program in Paris. Sure, I could’ve paid it off in a lump sum ages ago, but I wanted to have this experience of chipping away to the very end. It feels so deliciously GOOD.
Not only did my parents not pay to get me into college, they didn’t even foot the whole bill! And you know what’s awesome about that? It didn’t hurt me one bit and as a matter of fact, I think it made me grateful and tenacious. I wouldn’t trade this feeling of working hard for something I wanted for anything in the world. I earned my degree and paid for my life experiences and it makes me feel like a badass. I’m not sure there’s better life prep than starting from scratch with no connections and working your way up.
Someone on Twitter asked me if it was worth it… and for me, yes, absolutely. Because of my family’s financial situation, I chose to study at a state school and I borrowed a reasonable amount based on my major and earning potential. I was not about to take out $200,000 loans for a degree that nets minimum wage, you know what I mean? If I had it to do again, I’d probably do it the same way.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON, WHERE’S YOUR FAMILY FROM?
Hot on the heels of our second viewing of Hamilton, Rae and I made our way to his hometown, Charlestown, Nevis, for a week of exploring. If you’re on the hunt for a beautiful, friendly and laidback Caribbean island to visit in 2019, Nevis should definitely be in your consideration set! Check out our first post, a guide to Nevis, here. More to come focusing on our boy A. Ham’s Nevisian roots.
MOM’S 60th BIRTHDAY
Our Mom turned 60 over the weekend and given all that woman has put up with over the years (a death-defying son, world-traveling daughters, floods and fires and everything in between), she needed a memorable adventure – not just a birthday dinner. We snuck away to a cabin in Ellijay, Georgia, for some rummy, stick-on mustaches, hot-tubbing and a visit to the Bigfoot Museum.
First of all, do you believe in Bigfoot? I need to know. And second, what were we thinking just going for a weekend?! It was too much fun and we started planning a return visit almost as soon as we arrived.
Check out the Ellijay Airbnb we stayed in. Highly recommended!
Top Adventures in the past 90 Days
- Romantic Weekend in The Cotswolds
- Everything You Need to Know about Visiting Bonaire
- Winter in Paris: A Style Guide
- Wizarding World of Harry Potter Insider Tips and Tricks from Two Slytherin Sisters
- Ultimate Guide to Long Island, Bahamas | Drone Video
- Nevis Video: A Forgotten Spot in the Caribbean
I had a big doctor appointment in January that left me in tears. I was really hoping for some thoughtful insight and instead it was just another doctor blowing me off. He told me to go to pain management and get injections, even though I have no diagnosis. He said, ‘Well, if you don’t believe me, go get a second opinion.” And then he wrote all over my referral paperwork that there’s nothing wrong.
If you ever wonder why there’s an opioid crisis, I could point to the dozen doctors Rick and I have had over the past few years who’d rather write a prescription than figure out what’s causing the issue. I’ve been too upset to go back to any other doctors since that January appointment, though my to-do list (and symptoms) keeps telling me to follow up. They always say you have to advocate for your own health, and that’s what I’ve been doing for years now. It’s so disheartening when it feels like no one is listening. I’m going to move the chains forward in Q2 – I don’t have much choice! But it really has been a struggle and while we’ve ruled a lot out based on all the tests from the past year, there’s still more questions than answers.
Thank you all so much for checking in on me these past few months. Not knowing anything is awful, but having support makes it bearable.
TAX CODE BLUES
I would be remiss if I didn’t complain, even briefly, each year about the bane of my Q1 existence – TAXES. Especially this year, when we now have a rental property to add to the mix. Good thing I spent my entire high school career learning about mitochondria and long division instead of the freaking tax code.
Did you catch my post last week about influencer marketing? It’s a little ranty, but it’s the tip of the iceberg on what we professional content creators face when it comes to working with brand and destinations. I have worked with so many amazing publicists, I almost feel guilty writing it, but you know what? They know where I’m coming from because they have to work with the garbage influencers and journalists who are just here for free fruit baskets and room nights without providing value. It’s like Tinder out here y’all, trying to find the diamonds in the rough on both sides of the equation. I have so much more content coming out about this so if this kind of inside baseball revs your engine, you’re in for a treat in 2019.
Without spilling too many personal details, Rick and I opened our home to someone in trouble and after six months, we were left really questioning if we need to reign in our big hearts and be tougher on people. I know that’s the whole point of helping. You do it and you don’t expect anything in return. (Except maybe rent, or not breaking our stuff, or lying, or stealing, or whatever.) Everyone told us to throw him out months ago, but we kept giving him chance after chance to grow up, make good choices and get on his feet. Ultimately it did not work out for any of us. We’re so disappointed, you know? It hurts worse when you really go out on a limb for someone and they just don’t care, but as we learned in our foster care class, some people respond to kindness and others take advantage of that until you break. We just have to work on figuring out how that works long before we get hosed.
Needless to say, we turned our rental into an Airbnb about a year earlier than planned. That is going great, so there’s a silver lining.
GOD WILL PROVIDE
Pretty sure I say this in every RftR post! But this time is a bit different. Between the aforementioned drama and the money lost there, the thousands of dollars in medical bills steadily rolling in and the slower winter months where marketers are still allocating budgets but not really paying for anything, it’s been the worst quarter on paper I’ve had since I started this whole self-employed endeavor. Fortunately, we’re heading into the busy season with project after project booked over the next few months. Still, we’ve been hustling behind the scenes and living on prayer, savings and fumes. God continues to provide and bless us as he always does, and we continue to give generously no matter what the number in our bank account says.
Recent Posts & Videos
- The OG Travel Blogger Series. We launched the series in January and you guys are loving it! So far, we’ve interviewed Gary Arndt, Dalene Heck and Matt Kepnes – OGs you absolutely have to meet if you haven’t yet. We’ve got 9 more interviews in the works, so keep an eye out for this monthly peek behind the scenes with my peers.
- How do you deal with stress?
- VIDEO: Stuff My Sister Always Says
- VIDEO: FAQ with The Jet Sisters
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
BLOGGER BOOTCAMP IN AUGUST
We’ve announced dates for Blogger Bootcamp and early bird registration is open to the public! From August 16-18, 2019, we’re hosting a retreat at the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort. This experience is for anyone who wants to learn about how to be successful in the blogging/influencer world from an expert who’s been making it happen since 2006! (It’s me, in case that wasn’t clear!)
By the end of the workshop, you’ll have the tools to turn this memorable travel experience into a compelling portfolio you can use to pitch future partnerships. You can read all the details about the hands-on, super interactive weekend here. The rooms alone are worth $650, so even if you didn’t attend a single workshop or eat one tasty meal, you’d be getting more than your money’s worth for a weekend at a stunning hotel. The early bird rate is only available through May 15, so hop to it!
If you can’t make it to Jekyll Island, I have started offering one-on-one coaching sessions!
I’M KEYNOTING AT WITS
If you’re signed up for updates, you already know the big news: I’m a keynote speaker at this year’s Women in Travel Summit (WITS) in Portland, Maine. WITS is an event for 500 women travel influencers, creators and brands. Its goal is to provide women travelers with the tools, connections and resources they need to become better travel bloggers and entrepreneurs while growing its global sisterhood of dedicated women who travel. Could this be more perfect?!
There are still a few tickets left here, and you can book a one-on-one mentoring session with me if you like. Please send us all your suggestions for things to do, see and eat in Portland. Think we should film an episode of The Jet Sisters while we’re there?
JORDAN WITH CLUB ADVENTURES
As I proofread this paragraph, Rae landed in Jordan for a campaign with Hecktic Media and Club Adventures! The depths of my jealousy are immeasurable as I went in 2012 and love, love, loved it. The food, the people, the Roman ruins, PETRA, for goodness sake. I can’t wait to see it from her perspective. She’s taking over all the @AngieAway accounts so this is a great week to tune in.
THE JET SISTERS
We are so excited to be filming (at least) two episodes of The Jet Sisters in the next 90 days! We’ll be sharing more about the destinations very soon so keep an eye out.
THE FLORIDA KEYS
We’re doing a ton of family travel in Q2, with our annual Ginnie Springs trip first followed by an adventurous week in the Florida Keys. That’s going to be an epic one to watch with Mom and Dad both agreeing to go parasailing. You won’t want to miss that.
In the next 90 days, Rae and I will be all over the map, visiting Jordan, attending a bestie wedding in Dallas, family vacays in Ginnie Springs and the Florida Keys, WITS in Maine and big projects in Virginia and New York. We’re thinking about heading to TravelCon in Boston to hang with all our blogging friends but then again, it might be a good week to catch up on sleep and snuggle with Sheba!
It’s been a slow couple of months, at least as far as paid campaigns go, but we have so many projects in the works, I’m actually a little nervous we’ll have more work than time to do it. Not a bad problem to have though! We are still doing our very best to post new content on the blog and a new video on YouTube every Tuesday. We’ve been hitting most of our goals even in the midst of many travels and travails. All in all, 2019 has been a real challenge so far and we’re ready to hit our stride in Q2. Glad you’re here with us!