Earlier this year I was featured on Dates In the States, an American-based travel blog. They interview various different bloggers to share their travel stories so I was really excited when they approached me. It was a pleasure to work with Crystal and Shane and I love their work, so I thought I would return the favour and interview them back.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your blog and how it all got started.
My name is Crystal and I am the writer and creator of Dates in the States. Shane, my boyfriend, is the brains and helps me come up with the content and ideas. Without him, Dates in the States wouldn't be where it is now! We've recently grown our social media exponentially, created an online course, and a Patreon Membership for our followers.
Our blog, Dates in the States began shortly after our 5-week road trip touring the United States. We've both developed a love of travel and our relationship has grown because of it. We've always been taking road trips and going out on fun dates together. We wanted to record those travels of ours with this blog and tell the world about them.
2. A lot of people want to travel but can't afford it. How do you make it work?
In all honesty, we both have day jobs. Unfortunately, our blog doesn't pay our bills! With each paycheck we set aside a certain percentage to go into our "Travel Fund". Within a few months, we have enough to travel comfortably. Although, we can't splurge!
From our blog, we receive complimentary travels and experiences from Hotels, Events, and Restaurants. They provide us a free stay, free attendance, or a free meal and in return we provide them blog posts, photos, videos, and so much more. Our online course, "Email Your Way to Free Travel" explains how we sometimes get complimentary travel and services like these from businesses. It's a great interactive course that will take you through each step from start to finish. To learn more, please visit: https://dates-in-the-states.teachable.com/
We also watch very closely for deals online. We signed up for Next Vacay (https://nextvacay.com/), a service that sends you emails daily for cheap flights. This has been a great help when planning getaways! When traveling in cities, we use the BestParking app(https://www.bestparking.com/), which saves a boat load on parking. Parking can be very expensive especially in cities like Chicago and Nashville and a lot of people don't think about that when planning their budget.
I've always been very budget oriented, and creating a budget that you can stick to when traveling is very important. Plan out how much you can afford for a hotel, a flight/gas, how much you can spend on food, and don't buy a lot of souvenirs. We also love finding free things to do in every place we travel to. This involves a lot of research beforehand. Usually the free things are the most fun things! Did you know, many cities have "free" walking tours? The only cost to these are the tips – you decide how much to pay the tour guide.
Those are just a few ideas that we love sharing about different ways to afford travel. Not only do we teach a lot in our online course, but on our Patreon (www.patreon.com/datesinthestates), we share our budget outline, discount codes, and we even giveaway Groupons for hotels and restaurants!
3. You've been a lot of places, but do you have an absolute favourite?
This is a tough question! We have so many places that we've loved and want to visit over and over again. My top choice is New Orleans. I've been there twice and it has become my favorite city in the United States. There are so many things to do, to see, and to learn. We love the French and Spanish culture and the Voodoo history.
We also love Zion National Park. This was one of our stops on our 5-week road trip across the U.S. It was my second time visiting Zion, but Shane's 1st. The views were breathtaking and we were disappointed we didn't get to hike all the trails we wanted to. This was due to a major hailstorm that happened on our way to the Narrows. We had to take cover under a cliff overhang! It was so crazy. Ever since then, he's been begging to go back and see the rest of it.
4. Is there a location at the top of your travel bucket list? Where is it, and when do you plan to go?
We both have such a long list of the places we want to travel to. At the moment we hope to visit Colorado within the next year. We have a goal of visiting all the National Parks and Colorado is home to three of them that I have yet to visit. Another place is Japan, but that might be a few years from now due to finances.
5. A lot of people are leery to travel to the United States right now. You're in a good position to show people otherwise. What would you say to people who aren't sure about travelling to the United States?
No matter where you travel to, there always seems to be some sort of misconception that people have in their minds. Some countries can get a bad rap, but that shouldn't stop anyone from visiting all the breathtaking and natural beauty that each country, like the United States has to offer in one way or another. That is what our blog is all about - to showcase the beauty of the United States and things to do in our country either solo or with a loved one.
6. Share a quick picture of your last big trip and tell us a bit about it.
We recently traveled to Florida to visit my parents who have a vacation home in Cape Coral. I've always done this trip just about every other year, but this was only my third time taking Shane. This time, we flew into Orlando and met up with my parents where we spent three days in Disney World. We enjoyed Epcot's Food & Wine Festival for 2 of those days and then spent time at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
After spending three days in Disney, we drove 3 hours South West to Cape Coral to stay at my parent's house for the rest of the week. They have a house right on the canal and it's just so peaceful to lounge by the pool all day, enjoy the sunsets, and catch glimpses of manatee's and dolphins in the canal.
7. Where is the best place to travel this autumn?
Well, since we just got back from Florida, we must say Disney World! September is one of the best months to go and visit Disney World because many people are back in school and not too many families are taking vacations at this time of year. So, the lines for all the rides were so short we were able to enjoy rides that we hadn't had the opportunity to ride in years because they are so popular and the lines were always horrendous. Also, you can enjoy Disney's Not So Scary Halloween decorations and celebrations.
Another place we would recommend is Letchworth State Park in our home state, New York. Some people call it the "Grand Canyon of the East" and is one of the most scenic areas in the eastern United States. Fall is a beautiful time of year with all the stunning fall colors that New York has to offer.
8. Where do you plan to go next?
We've been talking a lot about traveling to Colorado. It's a state that we've never actually been to. We always seem to be finding ourselves driving around it, never actually through it! We'd love to see Colorado Springs and hike the Garden of the Gods and soak in a natural hot spring. We also have a goal of visiting all the National Parks, and Colorado is home to three of those that we need to mark off our list (Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison).
9. There are a lot of social medias out there, but what is the best place to find you?
We are on all social media platforms and they are updated regularly, but here are a few of our most popular platforms:
10. I love what you're doing and I'm excited to learn more about the United States. How can I support you?
Thank you. We actually receive our greatest support from our Patrons on www.patreon.com/datesinthestates. Patreon is an online membership that offers our followers a chance to receive rewards and amazing content not found on our blog. Meanwhile, it helps us to continue our travels and provide free content. All support is accepted and appreciated in any form. Even just by you visiting our website or following us on social media means a lot to us!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.
Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!
Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.
Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!
1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.
Those who attended my Chernobyl lecture at the Queen City Collective earlier in May would have heard me singing praises about HBO's new miniseries Chernobyl, and for good reason. HBO did a fantastic job on the miniseries by immersing the audience into mid-1980s Soviet Ukraine and by peeling back the layers of the disaster.
With that said, there were some liberties HBO took while making the show. As somebody who spent two days in the Exclusion Zone in 2016, I know a thing or two about how the events unfolded, and a few parts of the miniseries weren't accurate.
Chernobyl began by tackling a nearly impossible task. The miniseries had to break down one of the largest cover-ups in human history. They had to show the devastation of the world's deadliest nuclear disaster and also highlight the many countless heroes who stepped up to make a difference. It's natural to expect HBO to simplify this – and they only had five episodes to do it. I don't blame them for some of these mistakes, but I felt they should be pointed out.