Monday, March 13, 2017

Swan Lake/Iris Gardens

If you're ever in Sumter South Carolina, you should make it a point to stop by this lovely garden park and lake. Home to several different species of swans, and other water fowl, Swan Lake offers beautiful blooms, flowering shrubs, flowering trees and at the right time of year gorgeous irises.

Swan Lake Iris Gardens Sumter South Carolina

Many swans make Swan Lake their home.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Getting Out and Exploring South Carolina

South Carolina has a ton of hidden gems, that are free or inexpensive to go explore. My hubby Donald and I plan on locating them all and sharing our reviews and experiences with you all. Before start sharing all the great places to visit in South Carolina, we have to cover some basics for the novice travelers out there. This If you're itching for something new, something different and something inexpensive, doing a Google search in your area is helpful. However, just planning a simple trip, never ends up being very simple, unless you make a concerted effort to do so. This takes some practice. Especially if you're not used to going anywhere.  So you start off by doing a Google search. There are things to remember and have on your check list:

1. What is the distance and travel time. This seems like its not that important, but if you have a limited time frame, knowing things like travel time, shortest routes, etc. it can help you plan your trip and enjoy more of it. You don't want long travel hours eating into your free time. Better to be prepared ahead of time. I like to go to MapQuest and get an idea and a short route suggestion if time is limited.

2. Hotels. Hotels all have different rates and you can shop online for different ones and see what you can expect ahead of time. I'd suggest joining Ebates  where you can get amazing cash back deals on every hotel booking, online purchases and more. If you want to save as much money as possible, this is the route to go. Shop online for hotels and be sure to read the reviews which I will also be supplying on this blog as well. To save even more money, look for hotels that offer free breakfast, and do not charge a cancellation fee if your plans change. We all know life happens and that means cancellations and rescheduling.

3. Pack light, but pack smart. If you're truly not used to going on short trips, long trips or any trips one thing to be mindful of is it is a drag to over pack. Hotels and motels generally today come with coffee makers and microwaves, and many have refrigerators or mini fridges, hair dryers, ironing boards and irons in each room.
Bring a few microwaveable snacks that way you can snack in the evening time after you've had long day of fun. Microwaveable popcorn takes up little space and is so good when you're watching HBO movies in the evening.
Do not over pack. It has been my experience in the past that when one brings too much, one leaves something behind in the room. You know you'll only realize it after you're home.
Some hotels will mail you your left behind things, provided housekeeping finds it, or admits to finding it, and no doubt you'll pay to have it shipped back to you.
The right clothing. Clothes that are light, do not wrinkle, and are comfortable will always be your best bet. Jackets and coats you can leave in the trunk of your car and will take up less space in your hotel room. For weekend romps, plan on bringing one dressy but easy travelling outfit for dining in. A pair of comfy shoes, and a pair of casual shoes will get you by for hiking and restaurant dining. Don't bring hair dryers, shampoo, conditioner or soap.   Do bring toothbrush, mouthwash, curling iron-if you need it, shavers, shaving cream and deodorant.  For your vehicle, bottled water, a blanket, and a first aid kit can be a God send. Your car breaking down, or accidents often happen while travelling and whether you need them or someone else on the road needs them you'll be glad they are there. Some travelers include flashlights, battery chargers and snacks. All are good ideas depending on where you're going and how long you'll be.

4. Laptops and cell phones. If you're older and travelling a laptop is usually easier to use in your hotel room than trying to figure out all the apps and doodads on your smart phone. It's a little bit of a pain, but a laptop can help you find restaurants, locate more places to visit, and keep you in touch with your friends and family. Just a suggestion.

5. Bring change or small bills. Hotels and parks all have snack machines and soda machines. In addition many may have admission fees. Again, if you can buy tickets online I urge you to join and purchase through Ebates.com. It's great to get some of your money back.

6. Don't forget your medications! This can ruin a trip fast, so be sure to take those with you and keep them where you can get to them in a hurry.  If you're older and hiking be sure to read about the hiking trails to be sure you can handle them. Most parks say on their websites how long each trail is and whether it's an easy walk or a difficult one. Know what you can handle and what you can not handle. Check with your dr. if you have any doubts before you leave. It can' literally save you money, time and your life.

7. Make sure your family and/or friends know where you'll be going, the phone number and address of where you'll be staying, and--the route you're taking-email them your mapquest print out and when to expect you back. If something should happen to you, it is helpful to family and police etc if they know the intended route you take as this gives them a reference on where to look for you.  Email your itinerary to them and make sure you have all their names and numbers on hand when you go. If you don't have them stored in your cell phone, do so before leaving.

8. Hikers should know how to read and carry a compass with them at all times and a map of any trails they are going to go on.

This list could get really long, but as time goes by I may add to it as I see necessary. This is just to give you an idea of what you may want to consider doing. Whether its a day trip, a weekend trip or extended stay..some of these tips are just good to know. Happy travelling!