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How to Give Your Old Travel Cameras New Life: A Review of KEH.com

How to Give Your Old Cameras New Life: A Review of KEH.com | CosmosMariners.com

This post is sponsored by KEH.com. As always, all opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links; if you choose to purchase through one of the links below, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

I’m one of those people who is obsessed with taking pictures when I’m traveling (and when I’m home and at family gatherings and…well, you get the idea). For me, photos of my adventures in London or that boat ride we took in the Bahamas are the perfect souvenir.

It should come as no surprise that I’m a little picky with the camera that I use when traveling. I was always a point and shoot kid until one of my friends in college bought a Nikon D80, and I discovered what possibilities awaited me with a higher end camera.

When Traveling Is Unpredictable (and What You Can Do about It)

When Traveling Is Unpredictable (and What You Can Do about It) | CosmosMariners.com


This post is sponsored by Generali Global Assistance. All opinions are my own.

Vacation is supposed to be the time when we recharge our batteries. It's an escape from the regular ins and outs of life: the bills, the commute, the school run. It's a chance to explore the world around us and experience life in one of the many beautiful places around the globe. Traveling is fun. 

Until it's not. 

No one wants something to disrupt their carefully planned and budgeted trips, but sometimes things happen. 

I've been traveling since I was a little kid, and the majority of our trips have been wonderful. They've gone exactly as planned, and generally exceeded expectations. But there have been a few that have gone south for a variety of reasons, all of which were completely unpredictable.

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books | CosmosMariners.com

This post was sponsored by Blurb. I was provided a complimentary photo book of my choice and compensation in exchange for my honest review.

Fun fact: I was the yearbook nerd in middle school (my claim to fame was that I was the editor of my yearbook in both 8th grade and 12th grade). When you consider that I spent most of my lunches during my senior year pouring over layouts, it's no wonder that I still love travel photography and editing and creating photo books.

Yet, with all of the craziness of day-to-day life, those photos seem to stay backed up on my hard drive. My older child is going to be 4 in just a few short weeks, and I've only made photo books that cover up to her 2nd birthday. I'm 2 years behind at this point.

8 Historic Houses to Add to Your Italy Itinerary

8 Historic Houses to Add to Your Italy Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

Although I love learning about history while traveling, not all history-themed attractions are created equal. If you find museums are impersonal or overwhelming, consider visiting a historical home or two on your next visit. Not only are they more personal since you get to learn about the people who lived there, but they also give you a much more approachable way to learn about history since you can see (and sometimes touch) the things that made up life decades or centuries ago.

FlightHub’s Top Reasons why Montreal is Magical

FlightHub’s Top Reasons why Montreal is Magical | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr | creative commons}
Today, I'm handing the blog over to the editors at FlightHub for their take on Montreal, Canada. Located in the providence of Quebec, Montreal is Canada's second largest city and is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. With its unique mixture of French and English cultures, its stunning natural surroundings, and its thriving cultural scene, there's something for everyone in this beautiful place.

12 Cultural Activities to Do in the Algarve, Portugal

12 Cultural Activities to Do in Algarve, Portugal | CosmosMariners.com

Since the Algarve is Portugal's most visited summer vacation spot, you expect to find gorgeous water, sandy beaches, and plenty of warm weather. The Algarve has all of these in spades, but this region of Portugal (which draws its name from the Arabic word for "west") has plenty more to offer visitors when they tire of the sun, sands, and crowds.

For those who love to add adventure into their travels to history buffs, here's what you should do in the Algarve, Portugal (in no particular order):

Celebrating Island-style: Festivals of the Bahamas

Celebrating Island-style: Festivals of the Bahamas | CosmosMariners.com


Year-round sunshine, crystal clear waters, and hundreds of white sand beaches: welcome to the Bahamas! This island chain is only a short plane ride from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but the tropical scenery makes it feel like a world away.

While most people head to the island chain for relaxation (and rightly so!), there's another reason why you should check your calendar before you make your vacation plans here: the festivals of the Bahamas. 

7 Ways Travel Allows Me to Be My Best Self


7 Ways Travel Allows Me to Be My Best Self | CosmosMariners.com

As far back as I can remember, traveling has been a major influence in my life. It wasn't until I was in college that I began to realize just how much a part of me traveling was, and I began to take steps to keep travel as a priority. That's not always easy when you're a broke college or grad school student, but I did manage to study abroad both in London for a summer and in the Bahamas as a part of a semester-long course (thanks to working 3 jobs).

Kicking off the Holiday Season with College Football + New Shoes



Kicking off the Holiday Season with College Football + New Shoes | CosmosMariners.com

Although I love traveling (which is no big surprise since I run a travel blog), I also adore my home state of South Carolina.

For many others, the holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving and then leads into Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's.

As a proud South Carolinian, I know that the holiday season really starts when the weather gets chillier and the words "college football playoffs" are beginning to be bandied about. This past weekend, my husband and I headed back up to our alma mater, Clemson University, to see a football game and get into that holiday mood right before Thanksgiving.

When Motion Sickness Hits on Vacation

When Motion Sickness Hits on Vacation | CosmosMariners.com

It's one of the worst possible situations. You've planned, you've gotten excited, you've embarked on your vacation, and you get sick.

No one wants to sit inside a hotel room feeling awful while the rest of your friends or family enjoys the adventure that you're all on. Whether your motion sickness started because of plane turbulence, a bumpy bus ride, too many roller coaster rides, or rough seas on a cruise, the experience can leave you weak, nauseous, and exhausted.

I know all too well the drain that motion sickness can take on a vacation. When my parents took my sister and I on our first cruise several years back, I had a wonderful time--for the first day or so. Then, we got into rougher seas (courtesy of a hurricane that was blasting through the Bahamas at the time), and I got to experience sea sickness for the first time in all of its awful glory.

Since I'd always been able to handle just about anything thanks to what my parents call my steel stomach--crazy roller coasters, long car rides, the bumpiest of plane rides--they weren't sure why I was so sick. My mom and dad first assumed I'd gotten food poisoning (thanks to my shellfish allergy), but, unlike my shellfish reactions, this sickness didn't get better in 12-14 hours.

After two days of being completely limp and horribly nauseous, my parents made the decision to take me off the boat for our scheduled shore excursion in Cozumel, Mexico. Ever the history buff, I'd been so excited about visiting the Mayan ruins in Tulum, but the reality left me sitting with my dad on a stone wall while I morosely watched an iguana scurry up part of the ruins and tried not to hurl.

We finally realized that what was causing me to feel so bad was sea sickness when I began to feel better on shore, but immediately got worse again when we returned to the boat.

I can say, without a doubt, that sea sickness ruined an incredible experience for me. From that moment onward, I made sure not to let something avoidable like motion sickness interfere with the fun on my vacations!

When Motion Sickness Hits on Vacation | CosmosMariners.com
When Landon and I headed off on our Western Caribbean cruise a few weeks ago, you'd better believe that I had some Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals in my bag. No way, no how was I going to miss a moment of the fun that we had lined up!

More than fifteen years after I first visited Cozumel, Mexico, I returned--and this time, I was trying to puke into my dad's hat.

When Motion Sickness Hits on Vacation | CosmosMariners.com


I've tried many anti-sea-sickness products on the cruises I've taken, and most of them leave me passed out in the stateroom while everyone else heads up to the pool for some fun in the sun. I didn't go on the cruise to sleep while my family leaves me!

The Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals, which I took as soon as we got onto the boat, kept me from missing a moment of the pool parties, dancing, dining, and shore excursions. I liked that it had a clinically-proven dosage of ginger to settle my stomach, but the dosage is gentle enough that I could use it throughout the cruise.

I might not be able to stop getting the flu, pneumonia, or a cold while on vacation, but you'd better believe that I'm going to do everything in my power to keep sea sickness at bay!

Are you one of the 50% of the population that gets sea sickness or motion sickness? What have you had to miss because of motion sickness? Have you ever been sick on vacation?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Packing More Travel into Your Summer

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, it's official:

Summer's here! And those summer travels are ready to begin.

For as long as I can remember, those hot days have been my favorite part of the year, filled with long, lazy days at the beach, surfing lessons (before my husband broke the fins on my surfboard), swimming at the pool, and family gatherings (usually with lots of watermelon and strawberries).

But my favorite part of my favorite time of year has to be the summer traveling. When we were small, my parents would pile my sister and I into our car (which varied from a 1989 Oldsmobile to a 1994 Volvo as we got older) and head out on the open road. Some years, we'd end up in Walt Disney World, while other years took us to Canada, Mexico, or any of the states along the eastern seaboard!

Now that I'm older and have a kid of my own, I'm still carrying on the tradition of family trips: we've got some fun jaunts planned to Edisto Island, South Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida; and Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Between those trips, we'll be doing everything we can to pack even more fun and travel into our summer months. Here's how:

Make a summer bucket list. If it's written down, you're more likely to accomplish it. So, have a big gathering with the kids, your spouse, your friends--whoever you'll be with during the summer--and see what you'd like to accomplish. Ice cream all around if you manage everything on the list by August 1!

Use your long weekends wisely. Make use of those extra days you get off of work on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, and take a road trip. You could also take a longer trip each of those weeks, but only have to take four days off from work. Make the system work to your advantage!

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
St. Simons Island lighthouse, Georgia
Utilize the free stuff. With warmer temperatures comes the ability to use those water-based activities. For the most part, going to the beach, lake, or pool costs little to nothing, which makes them all attractive options even for the traveling family on a budget.

Summer's also a great time to visit a few county, state, or national parks. They're packed with activities for the whole family, and the entrance fees are very reasonable.

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Check out the deals. Even though summer is the high season for travel, you can still find great ways to save money through travel rewards programs and attractions. Some theme parks run specials on ticket packages or hotel rooms to make the most of those fleeting summer vacation days. Don't assume that you won't find a great price on travel just because it's peak season.

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida
Combine family visits with sightseeing. Summer's a great time to catch up with family, and many people are driving or flying to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and children. Make use of that time away from home by exploring your destination: when you're at Grandma and Grandpa's in Tampa, go see the Dali Museum or Fort De Soto. While you're out in California seeing your siblings, make a detour at the Hearst Mansion or have an impromptu road trip up U.S. 1. See what's nearby and make a family outing of it!

As you go on your merry way around your city, state, or the globe, consider joining the Discover It Miles program, so you can make even more out of your travels. There aren't any annual fees, your miles never expire, and you can redeem any amount of miles for cash. Plus, the program was named the highest in customer satisfaction in 2014. Sweet!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

What are your summer travel plans? Do you have a miles program to help you make the most out of your travels?

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica | CosmosMariners.com

My bucket list keeps growing. It seems like the more I read about other people's travels, the more that I realize how much MORE I have to see and do. Planet Earth, why did you have to be so awesome?!

One thing that's stayed at the top of my bucket list for a while now has been a trip to Antarctica. While I haven't realized my dream (yet!!), here are the five reasons why I'm looking forward to a trip way down south at some point in my life:

5. A visit to Antarctica is not your typical vacation. Because of the temperatures, ice floes, and often volatile water conditions, you can't just rent your own skiff and head down to the South Pole. Visiting requires planning and careful packing--but the wildlife and the views make it completely worth it.

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica | CosmosMariners.com
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4. You can see icebergs up close and personal. I know that ice can be dangerous (has anyone ever heard of the Titanic?), but it's also an incredibly powerful element that can manipulate mountains. I hail from Charleston, South Carolina, a place that gets about 0.23 inches of snow a year (levels that can still incite major panic into this flip flop wearing, beach loving city of mine). I have never seen ice or snow in a major way, so experiencing the climate and scenery of Antarctica would be something completely out of the ordinary for me.

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica | CosmosMariners.com
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3. You can explore some of the old research stations. History and ruins can always get my attention, so you'd better believe that I'd been in line to check out the museum at the old British base on Goudier Island. Here, visitors can see how life at a research base in the 1950s would have been. Plus, as an added bonus, there's a post office here where you can send out postcards. I know I'd love to get some mail from Antarctica!

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica | CosmosMariners.com
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2. There's an incredible amount of wildlife. From leopard seals and killer whales to Adelie and Gentoo penguins, you'll get to see animals that are otherwise only found in zoos or wildlife parks. Seeing a penguin in its natural habitat would be an experience that I would remember for the rest of my life.

5 Reasons to Visit Antarctica | CosmosMariners.com
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1. It's the last untouched place on earth. Other than a handful of researchers, no one lives in Antarctica. So, when you visit, it's just you, the animals, and nature for thousands of miles. About how many other places on this planet can you say the same?

Are you ready to bundle up and go? The best way to make your Antarctica dreams come true is by going on a cruise: companies like Hurtigruten offer some really amazing experiences at the bottom of the world.

Is Antarctica on your bucket list? What would you like to see or do in a South Pole trip? If you're one of the lucky people who's already made this journey, tell me all about it!

This was a collaborative post with Hurtigruten. All opinions are my own.

6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Tunisia

There's something about the cooler weather that makes me want to venture off to somewhere exotic. Maybe I'm missing summer (and all of the warmth that comes with it) or maybe it's because I'd rather do anything that think about all of that holiday shopping that I still have to do. 

Whatever the reason, I've been dreaming of places like Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia--you get the picture. While Egypt and Morocco are pretty well known, I haven't known too many people who've actually been to Tunisia (other than my uncle, but he's very well-traveled!). Though I haven't been, here are six reasons why I want to visit (and why you should, too!):

1) It's got a Mediterranean-like climate. 
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With summer highs in the high 80s and low 90s (or around 32 Celcius), and winter temperatures in the 60s (or high teens Celcius), it's mild enough to sightsee year round without worrying about heat stroke or packing an overcoat. 

2) There's history everywhere.
El-Jem Coliseum
{via}
In Hammamet, you can walk in the footsteps of Hannibal, the Phoenicians, and the Romans. Visit the Antonine Roman Baths backdropped by the Mediterranean, the Roman ampitheatre, the sacrificial site of Tophet, and the Bardo Museum (which boasts the world's largest collection of ancient Roman mosaics). 

3) Beautiful beaches are the norm. 
Sousse Beach
{via}

Tunisia is known for its gorgeous view along its coast; the country borders the Mediterranean and is warm enough to swim nearly year-round. From the cliffside beaches in the north to the desert-backed beaches of the south, the crystal clear water will entice swimmers and scuba divers of all ages. 

4) Tunisia is a globally-inspired country.
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With influences from the Spanish (who once held many of the coastal cities in the 1500s), the French (who ruled the country from the late 1800s to the mid-1950s), and the Middle East (with whom Tunisia has identified in recent years after it sought its own independence), you're as likely to find a croque monsieur on the menu as you are couscous.

5) It's less known than Egypt or Morocco.
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If you're an "off-the-beaten-path" kind of traveler, Tunisia still has plenty of hidden spots to discover. Since the tourist trade has flourished only since the country's Arab Spring, it's been a kind of secret destination for those in the know. There's enough infrastructure within the country to support safe touring while still allowing Tunisia to keep its exotic, mysterious flavor. 

6) It's small enough to tour around via car.
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Though it packs a punch culturally and historically, Tunisia has less land mass than the United Kingdom. You won't have to pick one spot to stay for your entire holiday; since it's compact, you can use one area as a base and visit multiple places each day. Visit Sousse, a UNESCO World Heritage site, one day, head out to Djerba for some sun the next day, and then visit the souk in Tunis to round out your trip. 

So you want to head off to Tunisia because my argumentative skills have won you over? Check out the packages offered by a travel agencies like First Choice; during your holiday to Tunisia, you can decide if you want to relax pool-side, enjoy the on-site evening entertainment, explore a local market, catch a Zulu cultural show, or take a historical tour of Hammamet.

Have you ever been to Tunisia? Is this country on your travel bucket list? 

While this post was sponsored by First Choice, all opinions and views are my own. 


Another Great Cosmos Mariners Sponsor!

5 Great Reasons to Send Your Child to Summer Camp

summer camp

Growing up, I loved summer camp. I wasn't one of those kids who was worried about leaving home--I missed my parents, sure, but I had bigger things to focus on like what I was going to make in arts and crafts or if anyone was going to dance with me at the parties. (Priorities, people!)

All-White Master Bathroom Renovation: The Plans


Our bathroom really shouldn't be called a master bathroom. Seriously. It just doesn't deserve the name. 

For starters, it's tiny--5' x 8'. There are no windows. The poorly laid tile has disintegrating grout (thanks, previous owners). You can't get out of the shower if someone else is at the sink. It's hard to access half of the storage under the countertop since the cabinet doors hit the side of the toilet. 

In short, it's anything but masterful.

A Billion Entrepreneurs: a Movie, a Movement, a Call to Action


Lemonade stands.

Etsy stores.

Facebook.

What do all of these things have in common?

They're all entrepreneurial ventures.