Monthly Archives: February 2015

cruise vacation travel

Cruise: Best vacation for your travel budget?

Growing up, my family vacations consisted of piling into our vehicle and hitting the road to go visit family or friends. We never really traveled to exotic locations or went on exciting vacations. I’d have to say that this type of “vacation” is what a good 75% of Americans think of when they think of taking a vacation. They try to save money, by driving somewhere, staying with friends or family and keeping things simple at a mediocre hotel. Many of us think a cruise is something exotic and spectacular (if you’ve never been on a cruise before and don’t live near a major cruise center) which makes it seem out of reach as a typical vacation option for many of us. This is only a perspective coming from a Georgia boy with family scattered all across the southeast and northeast.

I was fortunate enough to take a job working for one of the major cruise lines for over 5 years, luckily I was able to work shoreside. Based on my experiences I wanted to share why cruising can really be one of the best vacation options for your family if done right.  Here are some reasons why cruising is pretty awesome these days!

There is something for everyone: Whether you are going with your 8 and 16 year old and just so happen to be dragging grannie and gramps along for the fun, there will be something for all of them to enjoy. The best part is you can choose to do the activities with them or on your own. Cruises these days make sure that they have activities catered to different age brackets and they generally keep each age bracket with 5 years of each other. Meaning that they know exactly who they are offering the activity to. For example, the teen/kids programs offer video game parties targeting certain ages and at the other end of the spectrum, certain cruise lines offer formal dancing partners for the elderly to enjoy. Off the ship is similar in the excursion choices. Cruise lines actually hand pick the excisions that are offered through the cruise line to ensure they match with the crowds on the ships.

cruise ship caribbean

Cost: Sometimes when people who have never cruised before compare it to the cost of a typical run of the mill low cost hotel stay, it might seem on the high end, but there is a reason it usually costs more than a typical hotel stay… its about 80-90% all-inclusive. I use that range because most everything is free on most major cruise lines (food, shows, activities, and some beverages). The part that is not included is the beverages. So if you add up what you’d typically spend for food on vacation, which is usually going out to eat for every meal plus snacks, you usually end up spending more than on a cruise! Keep an eye on how much you spend for drinks on a ship and you’ll be alright! Stay tuned for part 2: How to cruise like a pro for some cruising tips!

Location: Almost 100% cruises are going to go to somewhere pretty special! Let’s face it, they want to take you somewhere you’ll never forget! This is an added bonus because memories can last a lifetime! The world is too small not to explore as much as you can. A vacation is meant to be a chance for you to escape from the every day life that we lead. Sometimes a trip to visit family and friends just doesn’t cut it. You need a breathtaking view to make your jaw drop! Most cruise lines even have their own private island where you can find solitude and explore your own stretch of white sane beach between your toes!

Don’t get me wrong though there are some places that you need to just set down an anchor and stay for a few days in a beach side villa, but if you are looking for a great alternative to a run of the mill road trip, drive a little further and find a cruise port!

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for part 2: How to cruise like a pro!

A view of the pacific ocean coastline from the shores of Maui, Hawaii on the Road to Hana

Travel Tips: Maui, Hawaii

Maui can be best described as Heaven on Earth. In very few places can you find yourself constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery on all sides with mountains and volcanoes on one side and the turquoise waters of the pacific on the other.  It really does have something for everyone, whether you’re looking to chill out at a hotel and never leave or you want the full Maui experience with adventure around every turn!

Since we know most of our readers are going to probably enjoy the latter, some of these tips will gear towards an exciting trip to Maui! This is based on our experience when we visited Maui for the first time.

Pre-Planning: Some of the most expensive times to go will be around the summer but also during some of the winter months as this is whale watching season. To save some money we went in May. Even though we were after the recommended Whale Watching time, we were able to spot a few breaching whales right from the shore. The savings will not only be on the flight costs but lodging as well.

Based on the cost of some of the hotels and accommodations we grabbed a 2/2 house in an upscale neighborhood 1/2 a mile from an amazing beach. This made for a phenomenal view out the back deck while the front of the house looked up into the mountains on the West side of the Island. All we did was search VRBO.com. We were about a 5 minute drive from Lahaina. This is where a lot of touristy shops and restaurants are located along Front Street. Staying in this house gave us a full kitchen, washer and dryer, some ocean toys, and saved us almost half of what we would have spent at a hotel! Plus we were able to park our rental Jeep right at the front door. Oh yeah the yard was scattered with fruit trees ripe for the picking!

The blue ocean waters and sand beach and off shore reef with mountains in the background from Maui, Hawaii

For transportation, do your research. We used Maui Discount Jeep Rental. A quick note on why you should choose a jeep. It is the best way to get around and SEE Maui. There is so much scenery not just in front of you but above you and all around. Plus the term for highway in Maui doesn’t always mean it’s a two lane road or even paved at all! So the jeep is a perfect choice! Going with a company like this allows you to get the lowest price on a rental and you work with reputable rental car companies like Enterprise and others.

If you are looking to explore Maui on your own. You MUST buy this book: Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. This is the 6th edition of this book as the writers are always making changes. They aren’t just people who visit and report back. They actually live there and make real world suggestions and advice on places to eat, visit, and things to do! The maps really can help sometimes especially if cell phone service drops off! Once you’ve read this book you’ll have a better idea of the things you want to do.

The visit: Once you land get ready to have some fun! The numerous hiking trails scattered throughout the island allowed us to escape the flat lands of Florida and walk amongst the clouds! Don’t be afraid to stop off at a road side beach! They can be the most relaxing and uncrowded! Plus they can hold treasures of their own. This is where we spotted the rare Hawaiian Monk Seal (keep in mind they come to shore to sleep for extended periods of time so DO NOT Disrupt them).

Try to have a plan of activities by the second day so you are able to squeeze everything in. Here are some of the top activities we enjoyed!:

Ride with some real Hawaiian Cowboys at the Mendes Ranch! These guys were great and found horses for every level rider and gave an exhilarating tour to say the least! We got to see hidden waterfalls, amazing views, and cliff side ocean views!

Get dirty in side by side ATV’s at Kahoma Ranch! We mean diiiirty! One of our outfits still has the red volcanic dirt stained into it! This is a blast though! Start off lowland on bumpy dirt trails and head up lond with a stop to have one of the best pineapples you’ve ever eaten fresh out of the ground! Then you’re off to get muddy in the wet trails of the high elevation!

ATV riding through the mountains of Maui with the pacific ocean in the background.

Explore amazing hidden waterfalls on the road to Hana! Use the book to guide you during your drive to hike off the road up rocky river beds and find yourself in secluded waterfalls! Once at the end of the road you can drive back or rent a cabin at Wai‘anapanapa State Park. Here not only can you grab a basic bungalow but you’ll find fresh water caves to dive into and get some cool history of the Island! As well as the famous black sand beach!

These are obviously not the only things to do on Maui, but just some of the exciting adventures you can enjoy! Try your hand at surfing, snorkel off of Molikini, hike the waihee ridge, kite surf off the north shore, and don’t forget to explore the island! Keep an eye our on the north west side of the island for a little food stand selling baked goods on a sharp corner on the road, its supposedly got the best banana bread on Earth!

snorkel molikini off of maui, hawaii

Even if you don’t have a trip planned yet pick up the book to start preparing! Let us know if you have any additional tips on visiting Maui in the comments below!

 

Third World Squat benefits

The term third world squat has become a layman’s term for a certain resting position so we apologize if anyone takes offense to it, but it is the best way to describe this movement (the alternate term for this is called a full squat).  For most people who don’t live in a third world country we have the luxury of fancy chairs and most of us even spend the majority of our days working in these comfy chairs. However, over time this has hindered our ability to be fully functional and flexible. This is partially the cause of so many people squatting with bad form and ultimately injuring themselves.  To counter act this, the third world squat seems to do a great job at stretching out all the muscles and tendons that we need to do a better squat and have more flexibility.

third world squat

Most people would use this to benefit in the gym, however it can be used to increase flexibility and range of motion as people get older. The benefits from doing Third World Squats can help with hamstrings, hip flexors, ankles, lower back and more. Here are some more details on how:

Ankles-The ankles can lose mobility over all the years of not using them and can hurt your squat performance and over all agility. People who have DorsiFlexion/Calf Tightness when squatting may find help in doing this. Tip: Once in the third world squat position lean to the left and right to increase the stretch to the Soleus Muscle.

Hips-Stabilizing your hips is also crucial when squatting and this will help. You will need to increase your hip muscles to hold this position along the way. Tip: Hold on to a table at first if your hip muscles aren’t strong enough and work your way to just having your arms in front of you.

Hip flexors/Spinal Erectors-The hip flexors will be engaged to ensure that you get the appropriate pelvic rotation necessary. Your Spinal erectors also will gain strength during this to keep your back straight. Tip: Use your elbows to push your knees out to keep them from caving in and keeping everything open.

As you’ll see most people cannot just drop down and stay in this position for very long, but the key is to work your way up to sitting comfortably in this position for about 10 minutes or longer. Try to start small but just getting in this position when bending down to pick up something. It will feel weird at first and you’ll probably get some weird looks, but over time it will get easier and easier. You’ll really like the differences you’ll feel when you begin to squat with weight and you find it more natural. This will only help you to increase the amount of weight you squat as well!

We hope you are able to incorporate the Third World Squat into your daily life and get to enjoy the benefits from it! Don’t let your age determine how old you feel, let your body! Leave a comment if you’ve ever tried the Third World Squat.