Monday, April 28, 2014

Travels During {January - April}

These past few months we've been spending a lot of quality time in Dallas. We made a goal this year to slow things down a little and I would say we've succeeded! It's been nice to catch up with friends, chores, sleep, etc. Here are a few highlights:

Trying new restaurants

Spending Time with the Pup

Jason's old car was totaled....

But we got a new one!

Spending time with friends

We have still been taking a few short weekend trips to see family and friends in the past few months. Since these are all places we've been many times before, I thought I'd just combine them all together here in one post.

In February, I flew up to my hometown of St. Louis to visit my grandpa and other family that lives there. It was his 91st birthday, so I got to help celebrate.

Since my parents live in Houston, we made a trip down there to catch up with them and celebrate Jason's birthday in March. 

My dad's Chicken and Waffle Mac and Cheese. YUMO!

In March, we went down to College Station to see Jason's family. Jason played golf, we caught up with some friends at The Backyard, and most importantly, we got to celebrate my mom-in-law's birthday at one of our favorite restaurants there - Madden's! 

Sunday morning we had time for a run at an off leash trail with Indy-bear at Lick Creek Park before we had to head back to Dallas.

One of my best friends just had a precious little baby girl, so I've been up to Oklahoma City twice this year for both the baby shower (January) and then again to meet little Cora (April). It was great to see them both - hopefully I can make it up there again this summer!

I was also hoping to make it to Albuquerque this past weekend to see my grandpa, but flights just didn't work out. Things like that are definitely the downside to non-rev traveling. I'm hoping to get out there to see him over the summer though!

My next trip will be a work trip to Tampa, FL for a work conference next week. I've never been, so recommendations are welcomed!

As a side note, the blog has reached 15,000 views! Thanks to everyone that is following along with our journey. This blog started as a place for Jason and I to document our travels, but turned into a really great way to keep family and friends up-to-date on our lives.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Realities of Stand-By Travel

Flying standby. 

Most people think of it in regards to missing a flight or trying to jump on an earlier one. We think of it as obsessively tracking flight loads, never EVER checking a bag, staring at the customer service agent until they (hopefully) call your names, being the last to board the plane, frantically booking hotel/car when you get on the plane...well, you get the point. It's now our normal.

Standby is easy when there is no place you have to be - it's actually quite liberating. "Oh hey, we're not busy this weekend, want to go to Seattle?" "Oh, the weather looks bad in Seattle? Let's go to Key West instead!" We get that not many people can do that. 

On the other hand, if you DO have to be somewhere, it can be a nightmare. Any one thing can set off a chain reaction that results in you missing your flight. Bad weather here? Bad weather where the flight came from? Business travelers get to the airport early and want to catch your flight instead? Crew needs to get to their home base? Any of these things can really mess you up. Making plans with other people is virtually impossible.

People see the fun of it all - and it is. It's awesome. But there is the other side as well. We've had to adopt the attitude that everything will work out - but it usually does! 
Overall, its luck, planning and dealing with a little stress that allow us to travel like we do. 

At the end of the day though, traveling for free is amazing. We've had the opportunity to see places it would have taken us so many years to see. Jason will be with Southwest for a long time and we are definitely cherishing each new memory we can make during this time.

Now, for the numbers.

Traveling on Southwest is 100% free domestically. When we fly internationally on Southwest, we do have to pay departure taxes like everyone else. For example, those taxes from Mexico City were about $90 for both of us RT.

International on other airlines is a little different and is based on deals that Southwest has with those airlines. It's also based on mileage. Just to give you an idea, for the two of us, we typically pay around $500 RT for Europe and Asia and even less to Central America and the Caribbean. 

So, moral of this story? Get a job at an airline. Then become our travel buddies!

*All the above pictures are from our stand-by travels to SE Asia last year - our most stressful and AWESOME trip to date.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Take Me Back: Rome, Italy

My absolute favorite memory of college was the 6 weeks I spent abroad in Italy. As I've mentioned, our home base was near Florence. We took many side trips though and this one was a group trip down to the most iconic of all Italian cities - Rome! Rome is huge and there is SO much to see, but here were some of the highlights.

Roman Forum: Of course you have to see the center of it all! This was the heart of ancient Rome. From the Colosseum to the Via Sacra, this area is steeped in history.


 The Pantheon

The Wedding Cake!

Bernini is EVERYWHERE from the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, to Vatican City, to my favorite place in all of Rome - The Borghese Gallery & Gardens. We got tickets to this sold out museum the day of...for free! Thanks Rick Steves :) There are 3 of Bernini's most famous sculptures here and they are honestly breathtaking. No pictures allowed, but trust me!

Trevi Fountain: Throw in a coin to ensure your return to Rome!

Spanish Steps: a perfect place to eat some gelato and people watch.


Ponte/Castel Sant'Angelo: Not only can you buy fake purses to your heart's content, but you can also knock this item off your Angels & Demons checklist!


But getting lost is always the best way to explore!

 Chin chin Roma! ! I loved the Eternal City and am dying to show Jason. Hopefully I'll be back soon rather than later.