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Surprise your sweetheart: hot spots for Valentine’s Day in Georgia
We all know planning the perfect Valentine’s Day date night can be a struggle—it’s a never-ending cycle of pondering where to eat, what to do, or where to stay. Still deciding on if you want to enjoy a romantic night in the city or partake in a luxurious weekend getaway? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite restaurants, activities, and destinations right here in Georgia that are terrific for Valentine’s Day.
Nestled along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Canoe offers a rustic yet elegant atmosphere that is guaranteed to delight your senses. This fine-dining culinary gem offers award-winning cuisine from their Roasted Berkshire pork chop and Southern-style collards to their wood-grilled New York strip—all are sure to gratify your palate. Town & Country Magazine calls this unique setting the “most romantic restaurant in Atlanta.”
The Sun Dial
Situated at the top of the Westin in Downtown Atlanta, The Sun Dial, a rotating restaurant and Atlanta icon, offers sweeping views of the city lights below. Enjoy a prix-fixe, four-course dinner from their special Valentine’s Day menu created by award-winning chefs. Be sure to make reservations beforehand because this is a popular Valentine’s Day spot.
10 Degrees South
Located in Buckhead, 10 Degrees South is the country’s first South African restaurant. The eatery is deeply inspired by family tradition, and the cuisine is crafted by founder Justin Anthony’s parents, who coincidentally are the restaurant’s executive chefs. Their Valentine’s Day menu features dishes such as filet “Au Poivre,” a filet mignon topped with a Madagascan peppercorn sauce, and chicken curry made with traditional South African spices. The bungalow-inspired atmosphere and delectable fare make this culinary experience rated as one of the top 16 restaurants in Buckhead by Trip Savvy.
La Tavola, located at the heart of Virginia-Highland, offers genuine Italian cuisine from Executive Chef Jonathan Beatty. With the cozy, romantic ambiance and hearty dishes, you can’t go wrong with this trattoria for Valentine’s Day. Their menu offers a variety of traditional dishes, from tagliolini to zuppa di pesce, to desserts like chocolate pistachio torte—there’s something for everyone at this hot Italian spot.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Get swept through 80 years of romance at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this Valentine’s Day for “Valentines in the Garden: Decades of Love.” Enjoy small bites from some of Atlanta’s most renowned chefs, live music, and more. From the 50s to the 80s, each decade is represented in different sections of the garden, with music and décor constituting accordingly. Dress for the decade of your choice and celebrate the night away!
For those seeking something unconventional, head over to Oakland Cemetery for “Love Stories of Oakland: Valentine’s Day.” Venture through more than 20 stops in this historic Victorian cemetery as your guide recalls the love stories of Atlantans in the years gone by, as well as hidden symbols of love throughout the hallowed grounds. If you’re looking to escape the traditional route this year, Oakland Cemetery is the way to go.
Towering over Centennial Park, the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel offers boundless views of downtown while relaxing in climate-controlled gondolas. Take in the vast sights with your sweetheart at this Atlanta staple. If you want to upgrade your experience, try the VIP gondola—it boasts Ferrari-style seats, a glass floor, and a longer ride time.
Flower Arrangement Workshop
Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon of embracing your crafty side at Flower Bar’s Valentine’s Day arrangement workshop. Bring your honey, and learn the ins and outs of making your own flower arrangement in this 90-minute class. Once your masterpiece is finished, bring it home with you, and display it proudly for all to see! Even better—all materials are provided, so no scrambling around at the last minute to find what you need.
Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Located in Braselton, the newly-renovated Chateau Elan is the ideal extravagant weekend getaway. Indulge in a four-course meal, enjoy a relaxing couple’s day at the spa, or partake in a round of golf—there’s something for everyone here. This picturesque resort offers sweeping views of the North Georgia foothills, and its romantic, Southern charm offers an intimate weekend for you to escape bustling city life.
Nestled on historic grounds in Adairsville, Barnsley Resort is essential for those wanting luxury while experiencing all that North Georgia has to offer. Enjoy a guided horseback ride through the grounds of the resort, ride a UTV in the Appalachian foothills, or learn the art of fly fishing at one of the several ponds on the resort grounds. Rejuvenate at the redesigned upscale spa and experience ultimate tranquility. Stay at the Inn or an Estate Cottage. Whatever you do, Barnsley Resort is sure to provide a weekend of relaxation and resurgence.
Callaway Resort & Gardens
Callaway Resort & Gardens, in Pine Mountain, is an oasis that is calling your name. Whether you stay in the Lodge and Spa with views of Robin Lake, The Cottages, or The Villas with a secluded setting, you’ll be enchanted by the beauty this resort has to offer. They’re all about nature and offer numerous immersion activities that put you right in the heart of it all, like BirdFest, which occurs Valentine’s Day weekend. It features bird walks, nature-based workshops, live bird shows, and more. Callaway is also home to the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, one of North America’s largest butterfly conservatories. These beautiful, delicate creatures fly freely among the variety of tropical plants that are housed in the glass-closed environment. If you and your significant other are nature fanatics, this is a destination that is to die for.
Lake Rabun Hotel
The Historic Lake Rabun Hotel, a charming boutique hotel operating since 1922, is the quintessential getaway for those who want to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains and all it encapsulates. Each room exudes rustic charm and offers the perfect amount of privacy. The hotel also operates an award-winning farm to table restaurant surrounded by pines, oaks, and hemlocks. There are plenty of parks, rivers, and waterfalls located nearby, and if you’re tuckered out from outdoor activities, the Lake Rabun Hotel offers a luxurious spa. You can also shop at the various locally-owned stores in nearby Clayton, Dillard, and Lakemont Art Village. The Lake Rabun Hotel has everything you need.
Whether you’re looking for a thrilling date night in the city or an idyllic weekend escape, these will certainly make for a Valentine’s Day you’ll always remember in the years to come.
A force of good: Q&A with Dansby Swanson
Born in Kennesaw, Georgia, Dansby Swanson is one of the few MLB players who get to play for their hometown team. Some might say that the talented shortstop is living the dream, but making that dream a reality took a lot of hard work and determination. Dansby was initially drafted by Arizona, selected first overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, but was traded to Atlanta later that year. It was destiny, and Dansby is making the most of his opportunities, on and off the field. Learn more about our local superstar below.
What’s your favorite thing about playing baseball?
I’ve been really involved in sports ever since I was a little kid, especially baseball and basketball. I’d honestly say I loved basketball more. It’s just how I operate. When I need peace of mind, I use basketball to find it. But I’ve also always loved baseball and what it teaches. Not everyone gets the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of what we do in the game. I just think it’s fascinating.
How old were you when you first began playing, and when did you fall in love with the game?
I started playing baseball as a kid, though I didn’t really focus on it until I got to college—that’s when it clicked. I started to get better and better and better. I’d always been undersized, and as I began to develop as a player, my confidence started going through the roof, and I knew that was what I was called to do. So that’s what shifted everything—I always put my head down and worked. It’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to keep that mindset going forward.
Who has influenced you most in your career?
I’d say my dad is the one person I’ve always leaned on, who’s taught me everything that I know. Between him and my college coach, Coach Corbin, and my high school baseball coach, James Beaver, those are my biggest influences.
What lessons have you learned on and off the field that you would like to share with others?
Nothing replaces hard work. People want to find the easier ways to do things, but that never works. You’ve always got to work at your craft. You’ve always got to dedicate time. Also, being blessed with a good family, people who push you and help you grow, that’s support you need during times that are harder. The uncomfortable moments are when you’re going to grow the most. Being able to rely on the people around me during those moments helped me develop both as a player and as a person.
What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta?
Whenever we get time off, I’m a big fan of downtime. I like to relax, hang around with good people, with my dog and my best friends. When I’m off, I also spend a good amount of time in Nashville with my friends. We do a lot of training, and we work a lot, which is really rewarding and valuable. Also, I just love being at home. I’ve never been the kind of person who goes out a lot—I enjoy my downtime. Whether with my girlfriend or my friends, as long as they’re good people and they make me better, I love just being around them, watching football on Sunday and just enjoying the relaxing aspects of life. Most professional athletes don’t get much downtime, as we’re always pulled in a bunch of different directions, so when I have time off, I just like to relax for
the most part.
I also love doing stuff around the community. I like to shine my light on the important people around me, whether it’s people I know or people in the community who deserve a spotlight or some help. That’s part of why I started All Things Loyal.
Other than Atlanta, what’s your favorite city?
Nashville, without a doubt. That’s where I went to school and it’s my home away from home. It’s a good way to get out of Atlanta and all the stuff that goes on around Atlanta for me during the year. Being in Nashville gives me a vacation without having to go on vacation, and I can
focus on my training.
How do you reward yourself after a big win?
I don’t. Winning is what I’ve always expected. Whenever we win, that’s our job. There’s nothing to celebrate other than trying to be better the next day.
Your girlfriend, Mallory Pugh, is also a professional athlete. Who is more competitive, you or Mallory?
I would say we’re pretty equal. We compete in almost everything we do, and it’s fun. We’re competitive people, and we like the same sorts of things. My family is competitive, as is hers, and we just have a great time. The one thing she can beat me in is long distance running and everything related to soccer. Otherwise, I totally win…when we first started dating, she thought she could beat me in ping pong, and that went south really quick! Though, there’s this card game she’s really good at and she beat me a couple of times…I guess we’re both super competitive.
If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I have no idea. It’s not like I’ve never thought about anything else outside of baseball, but I’m just so wrapped up in it. It’s what I love, and I don’t settle for anything less than that. Ever since I was about five, I wanted to play major league baseball.
Tell us about your organization, All Things Loyal. What’s it all about, and what motivated you to start it?
I wanted to create the same sense of loyalty and love for the city that shaped me into who I am. I thought it was a good opportunity to highlight all these different aspects of Atlanta that are specific to Atlanta, and it’s great to showcase that pride. We’re from the South, and we’re big on being humble and putting our heads down, but I wanted to say it’s okay to be proud of where we come from and continue developing a strong community together.
I thought t-shirts with unique designs were the best way to highlight Atlanta and the things that helped shape me. I thought it would help show people who I really am. I felt at times that people didn’t know who I really was, what I valued, what’s close and dear to my heart. There were places I wanted to be able to give back to the community, but in a unique way where I was able to share with people who I really am and what I value.
It’s been really meaningful to highlight places like The Varsity. My grandfather and I would go to The Varsity a lot and spend time there together. Music has always been really important to me, too, and while people assume I must be a Southern kid who just loves country music, that really couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve listened to rap music since I was about eight—that’s why we featured Outkast in our first design. They were my intro to Atlanta as a city. Now, growing up, it’s so cool seeing how important they were to the community and to the city, kind of putting America on notice that Atlanta was a place to be. “Elevators” is an Outkast song that I’ve always loved.
One of the other aspects we want to highlight is the personality of the city. Striving to get better, the importance of being a good person, teaching kids that the coolest thing you can do is to be kind and loving to other people, and to build community through doing and saying the right things.
I’m a big believer in helping kids and the next generation. People weren’t always blessed with the same guidance and love I was given through my family. So, being able to do that for others is important—we have to break the cycle. For example, going to Green Acres Elementary with Georgia’s Own, seeing the kids and talking to them, even doing something small like bringing them pizza, I hope they were happy and it made their day brighter, and that it’s something they can take forward.
Just for fun—what’s something many people might not know about you?
I have a lot of shoes. I’m a big Jordan person—I probably have over 70 pairs. I have a closet set up around my shoes—my clothes just fit in where they can. In the off-season, I probably cook dinner five out of seven nights, as I enjoy trying to make different things while still eating healthy. There’s some peace of mind with that. Another weird thing along that line, people are shocked that I don’t have someone who comes and cleans my house. I do all of that, and I really enjoy it. It’s a peaceful thing to see a task and accomplish it.
The sounds of Atlanta
Atlanta has quickly become the hub for all things entertainment. From music festivals like One Music Fest to movies and TV shows from the newly erected Tyler Perry Studios, the reach of Georgia-centric entertainment is felt not only stateside, but around the world. This especially rings true when it comes to music. Not only is Atlanta home to some of the best and brightest musical talent, but it also opens its arms to equally bright and shining talent from other cities across the map. Let’s take a look at who’s big and who’s ne[x]t in music.
- “Ric Flair Drip” w/ Offset and Metro Boomin–334 million views
- “Bank Account”–285 million views
- “No Heart” w/ Metro Boomin–221 million views
One of the biggest names in rap music today, 21 Savage—born Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph in London, England—has called Georgia his home since the tender age of 7, though his maturing process in DeKalb County was any and everything but. Fast forward and 21 Savage has made a name for himself in multiple avenues. He’s used his past experiences to pen gripping tales, which have catapulted his music to the heights of success: his debut album Issa Album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, and his sophomore effort I Am > I Was earned the coveted No. 1 spot.
In addition, 21 Savage leveraged the success of his first hit single from Issa Album, entitled “Bank Account,” and launched his Bank Account Campaign. The Bank Account Campaign provides resources to teach financial literacy to students across the country. The influential artist has been quoted by Billboard.com, saying that he “…knew almost nothing about bank accounts” while growing up. He followed up with, “As I have gotten smarter about financial management, I realize how empowering it is to control your money rather than be controlled by it,” and, “I want to help kids with a background similar to mine get smart about their money.”
- “Flossin”–2 million views
- “Gucci Pajamas” ft. Chance the Rapper and Charlie Wilson–1.3 million views
- “Scammin”–529,000 views
When Akeem Hayes landed on the music scene in December of 2017 under the stage name Guapdad 4000 with his introductory mixtape, Scamboy Color, some people, including myself, thought, “Who?!” But the talented young artist from Oakland, CA was not only able to stand out thanks to his unique name—he also managed to turn the casual listener into a fan with his equally unique and authentic sound.
With a penchant for designer labels (just look at his current album Dior Deposits with titles “Gucci Pajamas” and “Prada Process”), the rapper and sometimes crooner has the talent and charm to marry throwback R&B with present-day hip-hop. His new single “Gucci Pajamas” features both soul singer Charlie Wilson (“There Goes My Baby,” “Charlie, Last Name Wilson”) and everyone’s hip-hop favorite: Chance the Rapper (“Cocoa Butter Kisses,” “No Problems”). When asked on Revolt.tv to comment on his sound, Guapdad 4000 said, “I’m a bit more eclectic. My music ranges from however melodic I want it to be. The good thing about my sound is that I’m constant.”
On the horizon…
That Girl Lay Lay
- “Mama”–16 million views
- “Supersize XL”–14 million views
- “Go Lay Lay Go”–6.1 million views
After getting her start by rapping age-appropriate freestyles like her viral hit “Taste,” 12-year-old Alaya High, aka That Girl Lay Lay, has impressed most by becoming the little girl from Houston with the BIG—some might even say “Texas-sized”—YouTube numbers. That Girl Lay Lay is the youngest female rapper ever signed to a major label, and when asked about her freestyling capabilities during her television debut on Ellen, she responded, “I’m still practicing, getting better at it. You just do what you do…”
Getting Healthy & Joining a Gym on a Budget
It’s that special time of year where everyone resolves to do achieve a goal or to try something new. For many people, they vow that, beginning with the new year, they will become healthier than ever before. Many people decide join a gym or a fitness class, while others commit to eating more greens. But how do you go about actually achieving these goals – especially if you are on a tight budget? We have some ideas on ways to make your resolutions come true.
Do your research
It’s okay to admit that you probably spend a lot of time on social media. We understand. And we think you should put it to work for you! Ask your friends about their favorite way to get healthy, and look up reviews of some of your local gyms or health centers.
Start with small goals
You may have big plans for the year, but you’re actually more likely to be successful at getting healthier if you set smaller goals to help you get to your big goal. If you want your veggies to cover half your plate, try adding them to your dinner twice a week, and then four times a week, and work up from there. Starting too big too soon will just lead to frustration.
Joining a gym can be pricey, but there is good news – you don’t have to join a gym to exercise. Try going for a walk around your neighborhood, or swimming at a local pool, or biking through a park. If it’s raining outside, look up some videos on yoga or dance routines. Invite a friend to join you so you’ll enjoy your exercise more and keep each other accountable in the process.
Know your options
If using a gym seems like a better fit for you, great! Many gyms will allow you to pay per class instead of purchasing a monthly membership, or will give you a free trial period to make sure the facility is a good fit for you. Taking advantage of these options will be easier on your wallet and allow you to experience a range of classes and equipment at the gym.
Make a plan
A popular phrase you may hear is “failure to plan is a plan to fail.” It may be a cliché, but it’s also true. Decide not only what your goals are, but how you will accomplish them. Write it down in a journal, email it to yourself, or text it to a friend who can help you stay accountable. Or maybe do all three if you’re really forgetful.
Grocery shop online
Several grocery stores chains have started offering an online grocery shopping experience, where you select what you want from the store’s website, arrive at the store at a designated time, and relax while a store employee loads the groceries into your car. This is not only a great way to keep an eye on your budget, but it also saves you from impulse-buying the discounted candy in the seasonal aisle on a whim.
Open that Pinterest app
Again, it’s pretty likely that you have a Pinterest account set up already. And if you don’t, we highly recommend it. Why? Because Pinterest is home to dozens of new recipes that can be tailored to both your budget and your health goals. Search for your favorite recipes and enjoy the dozens of results that come pouring in.
Substitute healthy choices
Have you ever tried spaghetti with veggie noodles? Do you think a turkey burger could be delicious (provided you have enough cheese, of course)? Look for ways you can swap out the less healthier parts of your menu with some lighter, better substitutes. Zoodles might not be your favorite thing, but you won’t know until you try! This is another instance where asking your friends for their favorite healthy meals could be very helpful.
Tell the world
Okay, you don’t have to tell the whole world about your fitness goals. But you should consider telling a friend or a group of people about what you hope to accomplish with your help. They will become a great resource for you to rely on when that birthday cake at the office is just too tempting. And they will be the ones to celebrate with you when you reach your final goal!
Ask an expert
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of a health overhaul for your life, we get it. Consider reaching out to your primary care provider and asking him or her what they would recommend to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. They will be able to provide you with expert advice, and since you probably haven’t gone in for a yearly physical in at least three years, this is a great chance to make sure you don’t have any underlying health concerns that will affect your fitness goals.
Getting healthy won’t happen overnight. But if you start with some small steps, like these, you can start your journey to a healthy year.
Making waves in watercross: Q&A with McClairin Garmon and Valentina Lezcano
In a sport dominated by males, McClairin Garmon (age 14) and Valentina Lezcano (age 23) are making waves when it comes to claiming the checkered flag in the adrenaline-driven, male-dominated sport of watercross. Watercross is similar to motocross, yet unlike motocross where riders race motor bikes on traditional tracks, watercross riders race personal watercrafts (PWCs or jet skis) and compete on unpredictable liquid tracks, including lakes, rivers, and oceans. These PWCs are capable of speeds of over 85 mph, require highly skilled driving techniques, along with unwavering nerves of steel.
Just off the Pro Watercross National Championship on Lake Charles in Louisiana, Garmon and Lezcano slowed down just long enough to share their thoughts on the sport, girl power, and what it takes to win on and off the water.
McClairin Garmon | Age 14 | Gainesville, GA
How long have you been racing and what piqued your interest in watercross?
I have grown up on Lake Sidney Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia and have been riding jet skis most of my life. When I was much younger, I was somewhat afraid of the water, but at some point, decided to dive headfirst into that fear, and now I crave being on the water as much as possible. In fact, when I’m not on a jet ski and weather permits, you can find me surfing behind a boat or wakeboarding.
I became interested in watercross after attending a Pro Watercross event as a spectator. It was such a well-put-together event, exciting to watch, and the people were very friendly. After that, I became a huge fan of Pro Watercross, the riders, and the sport itself.
What have you enjoyed most about the Pro Watercross National Tour?
This one is easy. Pro Watercross is truly a community of some amazing people who share the same passion. I’m fairly new to the sport and have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I have received from other riders. Everyone pulls for one another in Pro Watercross and talks others up to potential sponsors, and even though we like to say, “When the band pops, the friendship stops,” the reality is we celebrate one another’s victories and are there for support when things don’t go well. As an example, we lost one of the sport’s finest very suddenly last year: Shaun Compton. In response, Pro Watercross held the Shaun Compton Memorial Race in Orange, Texas in August of this year to raise funds to support Mr. Compton’s family. I feel like we are all a family, and I’m very grateful to be a part of it.
Who are your role models in the sport?
This is another easy one for me. Valentina Lezcano is one of the top female riders out there. She is beautiful, funny, and fearless, but what I appreciate most about her is that she is a role model for other girls. From the beginning, she has encouraged me and cheered me on, and she even had a “girl power” jacket made for me. I aspire to be more like her, and I hope to continue to improve and ultimately return all the favors she has shown me by encouraging girls starting out in watercross. I would also say that early on Brian O’Rourke, who rides with Team Faith, provided me with invaluable technical advice, and riders Kenny Compton and Hailey Compton of Texas have become some of my best friends and make these races twice the fun.
How do you balance being on the Pro Watercross National Tour with school and other responsibilities?
I don’t always have perfect balance. I have missed a race or two because of school since my grades are really important to me. Otherwise, I have been fortunate that my school, Lakeview Academy, gives me enough flexibility to run the vast majority of the tour. There are sacrifices that we all have to make to do the things we are passionate about. For example, I want to try out for my school’s play but will miss critical practices because I will be participating in the World Championship in Naples, Florida. I’ve already learned that I can’t do it all, so I have to prioritize and get good advice from others.
What are the best and most difficult parts of being part of the Pro Watercross Tour?
The best part is the people who put on and participate in the tour and the opportunity to ride and improve and overcome challenges. The tour also takes place at some of the most beautiful lakes, rivers, and oceans in the country. The most difficult part is that I didn’t get to see my local friends much this summer and also, after racing in Louisiana and then Texas back to back, I’m a little beaten up; I started my first day of high school with massive bandages on my hands to cover blisters—not exactly a fashion statement.
What’s next for you?
I will be at the Pro Watercross World Championship in Naples, Florida, in late October. Other than that, I plan to practice a lot, tune my ski up, and keep improving.
Valentina Lezcano | Age 23 | Miami, FL
How long have you been racing, and how did you first become interested in the sport?
I’ve been racing for about two years now; I would have started earlier but school came first! I just graduated as a paramedic about a year ago, which has opened time up for me to travel the world and race almost every weekend. I became interested probably before I could even spell jet ski. My parents put me on my first jet ski when I was about five years old, and I haven’t been able to get off of one since!
What’s been your greatest challenge as a young female in the sport?
My greatest challenge as a young female has been trying to prove to everyone that this sport isn’t just for men. I love racing amongst male riders because it’s a dose of motivation to push harder every lap—especially when you’re in the lead and the boys are chasing you!
What are you most proud of in your career as one of the top female watercross racers?
I’d have to say my proudest moment was being invited to race in South Korea with Jettribe Racing this past year! It was my first time racing in a Pro Runabout Open class against some of the best riders in Korea, China, and Russia. I finished in the top five out of 11 riders, and it was pretty cool to be on the podium, especially when I was the only female racer in the entire competition!
What advice would you give to others when it comes to pursuing his or her passion?
Life is too short. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, the moment is now!
What do you love most about racing?
Most people will say they love winning, but for me I love making new friends who become race family! McClairin, for example, is someone who has impacted me so much. Her father came up to me during a race telling me that his daughter is my biggest fan and she was dying to meet me. Little did I know that once we became friends, the roles would reverse. Now I’m her biggest fan, and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my friend. In only one year, McClairin has become such an inspiring and amazing racer, and I cannot wait to see what else she will bring to the racing world!
What’s next for you?
Next race is next weekend! Haha, just kidding! What’s next for me is waiting to get hired as a firefighter/paramedic. But in the meantime, I’ll be giving my parents a hand working at their jet ski business, Miami Jetski Shop, and traveling the world to get as much racing as I can get under my belt!
Heading home for the holidays: travel tips to to make the season brighter
For many, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, well, they’d rather fast-forward to 2020. Whether you’re thinking about the holidays with anxiety or anticipation, we have some tips that can, hopefully, make your holiday season a little happier.
If you’re packing for an extended stay, a little planning now can keep you from hauling a mountain of luggage through the middle of a crowded airport. Instead of folding your clothes, roll them up. Also, stuff your socks inside your shoes. You’ll be surprised how much more you can fit inside your suitcase just by taking these two steps. If you’re carrying a backpack, place the heavier items lower in the pack for better balance and less strain on your back. Most important, before packing anything, make sure you’re really going to need it. Overpacking is the most common mistake. Plus, the airlines will hit you with a fee or make you repack your bag if it’s over a set weight limit.
Don’t break the bank
If you’re a college student or young professional, your budget may already be tight. The closer you get to the holidays, the higher airfares climb. Before you assume the amount you see on the airline’s website is final, explore some of the online search engines that are designed specifically to find lower fares. Some airlines even offer student discounts. Another idea is to bring your own snacks and an empty water bottle to the airport. The cost of food and drinks at airports is crazy expensive because they know they have a captive audience. Although traveling by train or bus will take longer, they can be much more affordable. Both Amtrak and Greyhound offer student discounts. Think of it this way: a leisurely train or bus ride may be just what you need to get in the holiday spirit.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be all napping and eating. If avoiding the holiday bulge is important to you, use part of your downtime to get some exercise. Ask a family member or old friend to take a walk with you—this a great way to burn calories and catch up with what’s been going on in your lives. You’ll both have more energy and won’t feel quite as guilty about enjoying a glass of eggnog or a delicious slice of pecan pie. After all, that’s part of the holiday experience—enjoy it! Also, we know that the holidays can be stressful at times. Just 20 minutes a day of physical activity can bring those stress levels down, which is good for your physical and mental health. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, three or four half-hour sessions per week can lessen stress significantly.
What if you can’t get away for the holidays? Despite these helpful tips for holiday travels, we realize that it’s just not realistic for some people. But don’t fret—we have a few suggestions for you as well.
Host a “Friendsmas” party
You’d be surprised how many college students will be spending the holidays around campus. Why not get together and celebrate? You can even enjoy many of the same traditional holiday activities together, such as cooking meals and exchanging gifts. Look at it as an opportunity to begin your own holiday traditions. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to get closer to your friends or even make some new ones. And, if you start missing your family members, technology has made it easy to connect via video chat (Skype, FaceTime, etc.).
Nothing will take your mind off of being away from home during the holidays like a nice paycheck. Many employers are in desperate need of seasonal, part-time help. You’ll earn money, make new friends, and possibly gain valuable experience, depending on what career path you’ve chosen. And when everyone comes back from the holiday break complaining about how broke they are, you can smile and enjoy your stack of cash.
So whether you’re heading home or staying put, we hope these tips will help you enjoy the season. Happy Holidays from your friends at Georgia’s Own Credit Union!