Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Want To Be Swimming Right Now...

How cold is it where you are right now?
Currently, it is 42 in my neck of the woods and each time I look outside the lack of color simply depresses me.  
I am not a winter girl.......AT ALL!!!!

Each winter I day dream of living somewhere tropical that does not experience such cold temperatures and drab colors.

You know places like Hawaii, the Maldives, Australia, Ecuador, Indonesia.....
(A girl can dream right????)

So this morning I find myself imagining I am relaxing in a swimming pool under the bluest skies with a perfect breeze whispering through my hair.......ahhhhhhh....

Here are the places I rather be right now.

A pool within a pool and a private beach beside it right on the Indian Ocean.  
Yes please!

The One&Only Reethi Rah motto is:
"Supreme and private luxury amid nature's tropical magic, One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives resort is a jewel among a string of coral atolls, lagoons, and white sands. The experience is privacy, warmth and moments of magic – a promise of utter contentment fulfilled."

Main Pool
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This boutique hotel is perched perfectly above the Aegean Sea with one the best views of the famous Caldera.  I am 1/4 Greek and if I ever get a chance to visit this little slice of Heaven my life will be complete!  
The Greeks just do everything good!

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This lodge was rated by Trip Advisor at #14 for best swimming pool in the world.
Check out the very LARGE video to view the whole lodge!

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Don't we already know that anything in Bali is going to be spectacular????  
Here at Hanging Garden every room comes with your own private infinity pool over looking their pristine rainforest.  

The five star boutique hotel was designed to be completely at one with nature and consist of 38 private suites and villas for ultimate privacy.  And not only will you be immersed in a jungle but also gardens of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, jack-fruit, coconut and lemongrass all of which are incorporated into the onsite restaurant. If you are into whole foods it doesn't get much fresher than this.

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So while I sit here infant of my propane heater I will continue to daydream of the warm sunshine on my face as I float along with the wind....

I hope wherever you are is warm and if not you are at least snug in your home enjoying your own daydreams!

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United Military Travel

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Drones Are The Shiznit...

Inspiration finds me everyday.
Whether it is an inspiration to travel, a new DIY project, to love more or to rearrange my living room (again). 
Inspiration is everywhere. 

This past weekend my hubby was checking out OBX Surf Info and came across this video by Stu Gibson.  It is a collection of all his 2014 flights via a drone and the result is pure heart wrenching wanderlust all wrapped up into a 3 minute 39 second video.

To familiarize yourself with Stu he is a photographer from Tasmania who focuses primarily on surfing and underwater photography.

Credit: Stu Gibson

Credit: Stu Gibson
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Inspiration is here...

I like to fly from stugibson on Vimeo.

If I had the set of cajones Stu has I would make this my life.  Traveling the world to photograph the surfing industry above and below water. This video contains footage from Tasmania, Indonesia, and Fiji - all of which are places that make my heart leap just at the mention of them.  I certainly have more than enough capability to use a drone standing from the beach but to photograph in the water.....well that makes me down right nervous.  

Are you curious about these drones??

Here is the skinny.....

Drones are available to everyone no matter what your profession is.  All you have to have is around $500 for a Phantom 1 drone plus own a GoPro and you are set. 

"A compact and highly integrated design means that it is easier for you to pack it into your backpack. The streamlined design brilliantly reflects the aesthetics of its industrial design and the fantastic visual effects allows you to become the focus of the crowd. Moreover, you can mount a GoPro or other light and handy cameras on your Phantom to shoot some footage from the air which will bring you a brand new travel experience."

Basically, you can put it in your backpack on your next vacation!

See, you don't have to be in the Military to use cool tools!
Here is what a GoPro spokes person has to say about drones:

“Nearly every day here at GoPro, we’re privy to new and really amazing perspectives that our customers are capturing with the help of our cameras and drones. Whether it’s at Pipe or in Nepal, we’re constantly seeing these amazing new angles,” added Pynn. “In the past year, we’ve seen more and more people getting into it and I think you can credit a lot of that Phantom 1 drone. It’s stable, affordable, and the GPS really makes it easier for your everyday consumer to get into it.”

But before you get all excited about the possibility of making some cash off your future epic videos and photos understand this.  
The federal government, more specifically the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has quickly made it illegal to sell photos or videos captured by drones.  
Honestly, I can see why.  Not all folks out there would want a drone for surf or travel videography but rather more scandalous reasons. I can imagine secret activities being recorded unknowingly then sold to black market people. 
 So the FAA is probably doing us a favor!

I want one just for recreational use (completely legal) - I think my son would just love it and it could turn your regular old family videos into epic memories.
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When United Military Travel books your next vacation make sure you bring your drone along to create sick a** memories!!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Gift Of The World

Well, my little monkey man received his passport and now the world is his playground.

It is funny after I tore the package open in anticipation I just stood there with it in my hands and stared at it.
All feelings of claustrophobia left me and this little book sent empowering chills down my spine.

For all the other mammas out there you know how you can begin to feel stuck and demobilized just by spending day after day in the house and devoting all your time to your little one.

His passport is far more than just a little book in my hands....
it is freedom.
Freedom for us to go and come as we please as a family.
It is a means to share with Noah the beauty of the world one country at a time.  The ability to come and go as we please.  
A textbook.

I cannot wait until it gets its first stamps because that means our world adventures have begun.  

Many people out there do not believe that it is important to travel with children at a young age.  
"They will not remember anything so why waste your money."  
"It is just too hard to travel with an infant."
"The world is not a safe place for children."

When me and my sister were younger our parents took us all around the United States and while I do not remember the exact vacations the photographs tell all.
The photos taken share with me my childhood and enable me to know this I did even though I cannot remember.
What I am trying to say is: I remember because there is physical proof and the photographs are as good as real memories.
I believe that my worldly views starting developing as soon as my parents paved the way.  
My favorite quote about children traveling comes from Amy Foster, the director of Consumer Insights for Disney Destinations, "You might only have 18 summers with your children, make memories now!"

Well said Amy, well said.
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As for it being hard to travel with infants - well life is as hard as your make it.  
(that is all I am saying about that)

He is ready!
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The world is an extremely dangerous place.
Yes it is and when abroad extra precautions need to be taken to ensure the safety of your family.  
I am not going to keep Noah wrapped in this little safe house for his entire life and deprived him from knowing the world and the life it gives because I am scarred of what could happen.  
That would be selfish.
I want him to spread his wings!

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Does your child have a passport?

How early do you think is appropriate to take long, far away vacations?

I personally would love to know your thoughts and also any tips you have on traveling with wee ones.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Happy Australia Day Mates!!!

Australia Day is the official national day of Australia that marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales and raising of the flag of Great Britain by Governor Arthur Phillip.  

It is the equivalent to July 4th in America.

I would like to extended a very happy Australia Day to all my aussie friends and I hope that you have an amazing day!

Just like the 4th of July Australia Day involves barbecuing, beaches, drinking, celebrating etc. Today is not to be taken lightly and is celebrated to the fullest by all Australians around the globe.  

I was in Seattle, Washington for the 2009 Australia Day staying at Hostel Seattle.  Among the few Americans guests there were Sweds and Australians and let me tell you that it does not matter what nationality you are on January 26 because if you are around an Australian you become one for the day too!
Celebration and debauchery are just what the doctor order on that day and we had a blast!  My friend Aaron wore a skin tight Australian flag jump suit and cape the entire day.
Simply epic.
That is why the National Australia Day Council, the National Museum of Australia and Twitter Australia have teamed up to showcase to the world the way Australians celebrate this wonderful day through a live digital exhibition.  
It is called Australia Day Your Way.

If you would like to participate simply post your celebrating photos to twitter using #AustraliaDay.
All the tweets will go into a live digital feed for the rest of the planet to see.
It is a fantastic way for other nationalities and other aussie's to see how the great day is celebrated.  

Follow the celebrations here.

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No matter where you are in the world if you want to celebrate the great continent of Australia the best way to do it is simple:
With a massive amount of Australian flags!

Wear them.
Display them.
Cook with them.
Bring them to the beach.
Dress your car with them.

 After you get your flags you need to share your love of country with others by hosting a barbecue.
To properly celebrate you need to be with others and what better way then by cooking!

Corn hole to Americans is like cricket to Australians.  
So make sure you have a game of cricket set up for the barbecue or at the beach!

Speaking of beaches many of them have organized celebrations planned so check out your nearest beach for activities!

This is Bondi Beach two years ago - if you are looking for a more low key escape plan on heading to less popular beaches.  

If I were there today my plans would have taken me to the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where me and my family could spend our days in Noosa National Park.

And no matter where you are there is one thing you HAVE to eat today.  
And that is meat pie.

This iconic little pie is so incredibly Australian that it would be a travesty to not eat at least one!
It would be like not barbecuing on July 4th.

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No matter where you are in Australia you can find out what is happening all over the country by staying tuned to
They have the celebrations broken down into regions so just click and learn!

Friday, January 23, 2015

How To Handle Child Street Beggars

More than likely if you have traveled outside of the United States to a third world country you have encountered child street beggars who are clingy, loud and desperate.
How did you handle it?
You probably did what any humane person would do and gave them money.  
It is the normal way to react when a dirty, skinny, child under the age of eight who is carrying a newborn approaches you and asks for change.  
(average age of street beggars is five years old)
What is change to us when we have hundreds of bills in our luggage......its just change right?

Whether you just exited the airport, are sitting in traffic, walking down the beach, or shopping in open air markets chances are you have have witnessed the heart break of children that should be in school, or at home with their parents...basically anywhere but begging on the streets.

All children are born innocent and they do not ask to be here so it is the parent's job to protect the innocence and provide a safe refuge for the child to flourish.
Well, that is what is supposed to happen.

My question to you is this:
Why are the children begging on the streets?  Who sent them out there?  Where do you think they take the money?

Up until today I never thought twice about giving money to children beggars but when I found out that majority of the children are orphans and are being controlled by evil adults that changes everything. 
Begging children have it down pat, they have perfected the sweet, needy smile and have harnessed the persistence of a lion.
 I never, ever thought it was because they were forced to.

Children who work the streets are vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse all while being exploited to beg or work the streets by adults who are rotten, lazy pieces of shit.

Even if it is just their parents who send them out on the streets still shame on them!  Again, those children did not ask to be here and by taking away their right to a good life it makes the parents scums of the Earth.

Think about how many kids get abducted, drugged, assaulted, robbed or murdered when they are forced to wander the big city streets alone.  
Our intentions may be good because when we see that sweet smiling face it makes us want to just hug them so naturally we give them what they want.  But that just perpetuates the problem by keeping them on the streets and making them vulnerable.  

Have you ever seen a mother or child with a sleeping newborn or infant?
Guess what, that child has more than likely been drugged to keep it from crying.  

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Here are ways to handle the situations

1.  Understand that you cannot save these children in a day.  These children are on the streets because of dark, evil forces and it takes time to save just one child.

2.  If you heart breaks into pieces at the thought of their sweet faces join an organization in the country you are visiting by volunteering or sending goods for children who are in school and orphanages.  

3.  If you anticipate being exposed to child beggars and have to do something bring a stamp and ink pad.  Stamp their hand with something that will make them smile.  Something that they will treasure but cannot be taken away from them.  Something they cannot be hurt for.

4. Give out toothbrushes and toothpaste.

5.  Ignore them.
I know it is hard to just ignore these children because God knows they are persistent but it really is the best thing to do. 
You think you are helping them but all it shows them is that they can live this way.  

6.  Engage them in conversation either in English or their language.  Talk to them like they were a regular child.  Ask them their name, how old they are, what their favorite color is etc.  
Take time to show interest in them and that is worth more than your fifty cents.

7.  Know any magic tricks?  Entertain them while you wait for a cab.  

8.  Research child hostels and community centers that are advocates for these child beggars before you go.  If you are willing to take the time and risk you can help these children get help.

9.  Ask them if they have a home.  
Ask them if they would like help.  
Ask them if they are hungry.
Ask them if they would like to go to a safe community center.

10.  You cannot force a child to get help.  Taking them without their consent is abduction.  Just because you are doing the right thing it is still kidnapping.

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My last encounter with begging children was in Nicaragua.  Waiting at the airport children basically snatch your luggage from you to take to your taxi - that method is basically forcing you to give them money because they did a service for you.
Two of the most common ways kids beg is by trying to sell you gum or flowers.  
Oh, I have bought plenty of flowers.  They are pretty and I do not want the child to think I do not appreciate his talent.
In my mind I am showing him that he can be whatever he wants to be in life because he is talented.

Oh it gets better.
When we finally arrived at our beach resort and found our favorite spot on the beach to watch the sunset each day a little boy would come to us.  He was simply engage us with conversation, show interest in whatever we had with us and then ask us for chocolate and Coca-Colas.
We undoubtably walked back to the resort, put a few snickers and sodas on our tab and gave it to the young boy.  We watched him take a couple bites and sips then take it to his brother and share.

Yes, we were enabling and creating worse dental hygiene problems but for those brief moments we were able to give those children something special.

I am not completely against giving to begging children abroad but I would strongly advise not to give to the city beggars.  Chances are they are involved in a dark business by force and whatever you give them goes to a perfectly capable adult.  

But if you come across a family and see them enjoying what you can provide them - go ahead.

Also, my husband on our honeymoon became friends with one of the local workers at our hotel and began fishing with him every day.  So whenever he caught a fish he would give it to him and also at the end of our trip Josh gave him a fishing pole.
It helps provide for his family.

This is the family I helped by providing clothes and food:

Use your own judgment and follow your instincts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TAP -Travelers Against Plastics

Recently I have been becoming more and more aware of my family's plastic consumption and what we can do to change our dependability to create a more sustainable lifestyle.  
Plastics pollution is the number one detriment to Earth and yet consumers continue to buy and support plastic manufactured items even though it has health effects on us too.

Why do we turn a blind eye for simple convenience? 

"Disposable plastics are the greatest source of plastic pollution.  Plastic bags, straws, bottles, utensils, lids, cups and so many others offer a small convenience but remain forever.  REFUSE disposable plastics! Follow the "4 Rs" of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

Because reducing our dependability on plastics is extremely hard and takes effort.  The general population would also be healthy if it was as easy as eating Big Macs all day.

Please forgive me if this offends you (it is my view only not United Military Travel) but the general population is lazy.  A bunch of lazy, mass buying consumers who do not care about what they do to their bodies and much less their carbon footprint.  The general population doesn't give a rat's a** about the soil they walk on, where their money goes, or their legacy. 
The general population only cares about convenience and shopping at the largest brand stores like Wal-Mart and McDonalds who continually lack any sort of effort to become environmental sustainability.  
If you buy from these places and others like it you are enabler. 

I apologize for my was rude. 

Back to the purpose of this post.
TAP - Travelers Against Plastics

Being a traveler you automatically belong to this group of like minded people and no matter what you will always belong. 
 This group of people is HUGE! 
Huge enough that if we all come together as one unit, like TAP, we could educate others by our own examples on why we should all REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE plastics!

Bottled water is just glorified tap water so really what is the point of buying water that is free to you.  When you travel carry along a reusable ALUMINUM bottle and treat your own water.

Many countries that we visit do not have a recycling program that comes and picks up their trash and whisks it away to be disposed of.  What they do have are companies that continually bring in plastic goods knowing that there is no way to recycle it.

For example: La Chureca, Nicaragua
Photo Credit: Expert Vagabond

La Chureca is a spanish slang word meaning city dump and it is the largest garbage dump in all of Central America and located just outside the capital city of Managua.  It covers a whopping 4 square miles and has earned the nickname the "City of Trash" because people actually live in the dump.
The locals are called Churequeros because their homes are made of trash, they rummage through trash for food (everyday), they sell trash, they inhale fumes from trash and make a living off the trash. 

You may be asking yourself what is done with the trash once it reaches La Chureca, well it is burned.
Burned trash emits toxic fumes and gases hence the reason America enforces burning laws.
No such things exist in Nicaragua.

Here is where it gets even more sad.  There is elementary school located inside the dump so all day these kids inhale the toxic fumes, eat the garbage to sustain themselves and after going to school day after day after day they graduate only to begin working at the dump.

Now it is not hard to distinguish the plastic from the rest.  

And here are my photos from Nicaragua in a location along the coast....

Need I say more????
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I feel I must include a plastic bag rant so here I go...

Do you know why plastic bags are so bad in comparison to other plastics you put into your recycling bin?
No worries, I will tell you!

[• Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. Consider China, a country of 1.3 billion, which consumes 3 billion plastic bags daily, according to China Trade News.
• About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute.
• A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
• More than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were discarded in 2008.
• Only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled (BBC).
• The U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use plastic bags. This costs retailers about $4 billion a year.
• Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts (2008)
• Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.
• Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.]
Credit: Reuseit

After contacting my local recycling company I learned that they will not recycle plastic bags that I put in the bin.  Why?  Because their sorting machines are built to sort through hard objects like glass and plastic and the bags jam their machines.  I imagine that all the bags they get each week just end up in the land fill and going into our oceans which ultimately turn up in our food.

So what to do with them?
Two solutions:
1. Return them back to the store where they recycle them.
2. Quit using them and purchase a few reusable bags.
(this only works if you are proactive and not lazy about it)

And even better - when you travel carry the reusable bags with you and use at the local markets etc.  They can serve as luggage options and help the local environment!

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Basically I would love, love, love it if all travelers could make an effort to reduce their footprint when traveling.  
That doesn't necessarily mean staying in the expensive green lodges but just simply refusing to buy bottled water, use your own bag and utensils.  
Follow the same beliefs abroad that you hold close to you at home.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Favorite Drive

Do you have just one route you drive that always makes you happy?  
Do you have a destination where the "getting there" part is just as good as being there?
What makes you happy?  

No traffic?
Windows down?
The perfect playlist?
Nature spottings?
A long overdue convo with a friend?
Escaping the city?

Mine is always the road into the Outer Banks.  
I was there this past weekend because my sis and her hubby had to work the OBX Wedding Expo both Sat and Sun.   So I came down and took care of two five months old and a 4 1/2 year old plus my Dad (yes he requires care too..heehee).  At least we were in Nags Head staying at the Landings at Sugar Creek Condos as they had sound and ocean views (two of my favorite things in the entire world).

Anyways, back to my favorite drive!

Why is this drive my favorite?  
Simple: it is and surrounded by astounding natural settings.  
I love, love, love getting out on a two lane that is nestled in between fields, bodies of water or forests.  This drive gives you all of those!
There are two ways I typically enter the Outer Banks: 
From the North or South
Honestly the south entrance is a bit better for nature but both ways always provide me with some sort of viewing.

This past weekend I came down from Virginia and I do not consider this route pretty until I exit Virginia :) 
Basically once the Currituck County line is crossed is when I become happy.  

Honestly, it is the little things that make me happy.  Like when a Great Blue Heron flies across the road or when a Red Tail Hawk shows himself to me as he hunts for food or when Snowy Egrets fish in the flooded ditches on the side of the road.  

I am a nature nerd.

Then after driving through what seems to be one of the longest counties to get through you reach the Wright Memorial Bridge. made it!

 What lies on the other side is a slice of Heaven,  making yet another reason why this drive is my favorite.
Who wouldn't enjoy the ride to Heaven?????

Welcome to the beach....

Up until recently we lived in Corolla, which is north of these southern beaches.  
I will never forget the smell of home when we rolled our windows down, the way the fresh air poured into our car bringing all the life back to us.  The way we both got excited and all the tiredness from the drive disappeared when we turned onto 12 North.  Those are memories that are engraved in me forever and I treasure them with all my heart.  

If you have never driven Route 12 (north or south) you are missing out.  The road to Corolla (given there is no traffic) is peaceful and serene.  

Then heading through Kitty Hawk all the way to Hatteras is just something every person needs to experience.  
The beach road showcases some of the original homes of the Outer Banks and as you drive right beside the Atlantic Ocean you begin to slip off your shoes, let down your hair and finally breath like you haven't breathed in a long time.

12 South into Hatteras is.......
I don't even know how to put it into words.

Life changing

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Let me take a break for a minute - this post started off with just entering the Outer Banks as my favorite drive.
But it has evolved into all of the Outer Banks being my favorite.
I could drive around the Outer Banks all day everyday because it is beautiful.  Every once of it is gorgeous and makes my soul happy.

Simply put the string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina are my favorite drive.

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Maybe it is because I have specific memories of each drive. 
I always loved getting up with Josh before dawn for a surf trip to Hatteras.  We would pick up all his boys and reach the Bonner Bridge for sunrise.  Since it was so early we could stop when we reached the top to enjoy the sunrise and watch all the birds make their way out to sea for the day.  

And being on 12 South in the wee hours really reminds you that you are just a visitor on Earth, that we should consider this life a privilege and treat Mother Earth with the upmost respect.

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No matter what your favorite drive is hold it close to you.  I hold all the roads in the Outer Banks incredibly close to my heart and I am never going to let go.  

One day the same roads will be Noah's favorite too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Southern Hotels That Will Blow You Away

As a North Carolina girl (eastern NC that is) I am partial to the south and yes I really do think it is the best our country has to offer.
While I do love the west coast I will always, always choose the south.

If you are not a southern yourself you may be asking yourself "what is the charm that everyone talks about and why the heck would I want to try grits?"  Well, not only do you need to try grits but you need to indulge in sweet tea and try some collard greens too.  It will change your life.  

Southern charm is simple:

yes all of this is true - it is the basis of all southerns.

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So if you are one of those people who believes that everything in the south is in the boondocks and everyone owns a rebel flag you should come down and check things out for yourself.  When you do decide to visit our beautiful southern states you will find that we offer more than just one-hole outhouse accommodations and will be pleasantly surprised to find world class accommodations with southern charm.

Well bless your heart ya'll I am just going to have to prove your wrong right now!

Try these on for size...

 This old Coca-Cola bottling plant is now a modern southern retreat in the heart of Savannah doused in vintage and modern flair.  The Brice is described as a place where "classic meets cutting edge." 
 Everyone knows that bow-ties are southern staple and that is why all the male staff members wear paired with sear sucker suites.  How darlin!!!
If you are foodie you will just die for their restaurant...
They serve old world Italian cuisine using all local ingredients.   

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If you an intimate beach retreat is what you are looking for this is the spot.  All Carolina beaches are exquisite and when you stay at a gem like this your soul will be replenished and all your worries will drift away in the ocean breeze.  This 10-room property is located in the Sunset Cay Marina where you will find plenty of options to get out on the water.  
Each floor's bedrooms were carefully designed to reflect the laid-back atmosphere of the area.  Like repurposing old sail boat wood for headboards and using nautical colors and patterns throughout.  And to boot each room has a fireplace for chilly nights.  
Sounds like nautical Heaven to me!

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If you love B&Bs and the beach look no further!  The Sleeping Duck is nestled perfectly on the Currituck Sound in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  You basically only vacation in the Outer Banks if you are looking for surf, sand, sun and seafood and this quaint location has it all.  
The town of Duck offers you ample dining options, water sports, sunsets that are out of this world, spas, beach and nature trails. And if you feel like leaving the small town you can head north to Corolla where the wild mustard ponies live or head south to Kitty Hawk, Nags Head or even Hatteras Island. 
No matter what you decide to do if you call The Sleeping Duck home base your vacation will be full of perfection!

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These three places are just examples of what the south is like.  Each one of the southern states is littered with quaint and exquisite hotels  and B&Bs that would love to show you the ways of the south.

Once you contact United Military Travel to book your trip you will be one step closer to that ice cold glass of sweet tea!!!