My Journey To Mount Rushmore

My Journey To Mount Rushmore

Most of my recent travels have been to smaller, lesser known destinations like Greenville, South Carolina, and a random, rural town in southern Illinois. As much as I enjoyed experiencing those places, I was beyond excited when my Godmother invited me to come along on a trip to Mount Rushmore.

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A Weekend In Greenville, SC

Just a five and a half hour drive from Nashville, Greenville is the perfect choice for a couple and their dog to spend a quick weekend. I hadn’t been to South Carolina yet, so it allowed me to check a state off my list for my 50 States By 25 goal, and it’s close enough that we were able to drive up on a Friday night, see the city, and head home on Sunday afternoon.

We stayed at an Airbnb that’s just ten minutes from downtown Greenville but still secluded and private enough for our tastes. The rental home is a nice family’s guest house. Their dog, chickens, and goats are friendly, and they even left us some farm fresh eggs! I definitely recommend this Airbnb for couples (and their pets).

The Lazy Goat

We didn’t get into Greenville until about 7:30 PM, so we met our Airbnb hosts, got ourselves settled in, and ordered takeout from “The Lazy Goat,” a restaurant downtown. The Lazy Goat is one restaurant I do not recommend for a great dinner, but would suggest for a fun night out with drinks and appetizers. The food was good, but overpriced and served in very small portions. The menu is incredibly unique. We enjoyed our steaks and flowerless chocolate cake, but it didn’t feel like a full meal; more like a cocktail hour.

Cedar Falls Park

The next morning we put a harness on Gaia, our Beagle-Corgi-German Shepherd (or something like that) mix, and drove 30 minutes south to Cedar Falls Park. Planning a trip with a dog who has separation anxiety and cannot be left to her own devices in a hotel room can be tricky, but we successfully spent our entire Saturday outdoors with her.

When we pulled up to the park, I was concerned and disappointed – we saw a family having a BBQ at the small picnic area, and we saw small children climbing around the playground, but we didn’t see what Trip Advisor had promised me. When we got out of the car, the only walking trail we saw was a quarter mile-long sidewalk loop. Slightly disgruntled, we started walking Gaia around that path until we came upon what I was really expecting – a trail map.

There really is more than meets the eye at Cedar Falls Park, and once we found our way onto the actual hiking trail, we were more than satisfied. The terrain is not difficult, but not boring. For the most part, it was quiet and not busy, which we liked. We saw families walking with their kids, people walking their dogs, and a runner or two. The park really works for everybody. You walk along a river and through the woods, and it’s beautiful. The trails are short, but it’s all we needed to see a South Carolina nature trail.

City Scape Winery

After completing a loop on the trail, we headed over to City Scape Winery for our 1 PM Girl Scout Cookie Pairing reservation. I 100% recommend stopping in at City Scape. I don’t always enjoy the wine at small vineyards in smaller cities, and but we actually left with a half case. I strongly recommend the Pineapple Riesling and the Barrel Aged Malbec (paired with Thin Mints).

The winery itself was small and charming. Based on their website and social media, I was expecting a slightly bigger place. Instead, we drove through rural South Carolina to pull up to a house converted into a wine tasting room. We had our tasting outside with our dog sitting next to us. There were goats not too far from where we sat, and halfway through our tasting, we were introduced to the City Scape Winery family’s pig.

City Scape is very clearly a family business, and the family obviously cares about what they do. I’m a big fan of wine tastings and vineyards, and City Scape may be my favorite.

Falls Park on the Reedy

To finish out our one-day-in-Greenville adventure with our dog, we headed downtown. We paid $10 for parking (which is amazing when we usually pay $30 in Nashville) and walked a few blocks to Falls Park On The Reedy, which I LOVED. It’s a small park attached to the bustling downtown area. It runs along the river and there are several shops along the path, but it’s a green park nonetheless. It made for a great stroll with our pup. From there, we headed towards…

Grill Marks

Grill Marks prides themselves on having the “best burger in town,” but we mostly went because they have outdoor seating and we read online that they would give our dog a water bowl and a bone. It was all true.

They gave us a bowl of water for the pup (no charge) and we paid a few dollars for her to chew on some bone marrow while we ate. The burgers were pretty good, but if that’s as a good as the burgers get in Greenville, I’d be sad to live there. We’re spoiled with amazing burgers in Nashville. Regardless of the burger quality, the milkshakes at Grill Marks are something else. They tower above the glass they’re served in and create a sloppy mess no matter how careful you are. If nothing else, stop by Grill Marks for a milkshake and a great bone for your dog.

Mast General Store/Downtown

By the time we finished our meal, the sun was already setting and we were at the tail end of a long day. We decided to spend the rest of our time wandering around the streets of downtown Greenville, which turned out to be a pleasant experience. I’ve lived in Nashville for just over four years and I can hardly stand to get myself downtown anymore because you can’t walk ten feet without a drunk person falling into you. Greenville had a decent crowd (likely because of the taco festival that was in town) but it wasn’t insane. There were a few bars that definitely had some excitement, but nothing we couldn’t walk through peacefully.

We wandered into Mast General Store mainly because they allow dogs, and we were quite pleased with what we found. Not only is the store adorable, but their stock is fun and unique as well. The front half of the store has a wide range of clothing items, from crazy marked down jackets and winter gear (which we took advantage of) to local college and City of Greenville t-shirts and sweatshirts. When you walk towards the back of the store, you’ll find an old-fashioned candy shop. We were still sugared-up from our milkshakes, so we pulled ourselves away from that section.

After we checked out, the manager asked if she could give our pup a treat (to which we said, “absolutely”). She even asked if she was trained. When we said yes, she asked her to sit before giving her a treat, which I greatly appreciated. I love smart dog people.

My Greenville Opinion

Overall, I loved Greenville. I’ve had a lot of weekend road trip adventures near Nashville, and Greenville was one of my favorites. However, disclaimer: It’s not really a tourist town. I liked that, because it allowed me to truly see the culture of a small city in South Carolina, but if you’re planning a vacation that’s longer than a weekend, you may want to consider a larger city like Charleston…or Nashville, TN!

Would I go back? Sure! If I was truly out of ideas for ways to spend a weekend, I would love to go back and try a different park, a different winery, and maybe stop in a museum or two. However, there’s a lot more of this country that I’m planning to see.

Car Travel With Pets

Car Travel With Pets

Are you driving home for the holidays? Boarding and pet-sitting services can be expensive for you and stressful for your pet. It may be easier than you think to bring your four-legged friends with you this year!

I will be traveling over 900 miles from Nashville to New York for Christmas, and my concerns about taking both my cat and my dog with me have been almost eliminated thanks to some of these great products! These are my car travel product recommendations for you and your furry friends.

Cat Carrier

Pet Fit For Life, Amazon, $44.95 with free shipping

Even though your kitty will likely sleep through most of your car ride anyway, I wanted to give mine some extra room. Plus, this carrier will double as his home at my parent’s house. This carrier could fit multiple cats in it if you needed it to. More importantly, it comes with a litter box! It’s a small litter box, but it’s all you need so your kitty can relieve himself in the car. It also comes with a portable food dish and a cat toy.

Portable Pet Bowls

IDEGG Silicon Portable Pet Bowl, Amazon, $5.99 – $14.99 (various sizes)

While there are plenty of options out there for portable pet dishes, I chose this one because Amazon serves as a great one-stop-shop for all my pet travel needs, plus I like that this one has size variations. For me, the set of four works purrfectly, because it comes with two cat-sized bowls and two dog-sized bowls!

Travel-Sized Carpet Cleaner

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser, Amazon, $69.99

If you’re worried about your dog or cat marking his territory at grandma’s house, this portable carpet cleaner is the perfect solution for you! While $70 may seem pricey, remember that this works great for your own home as well. Instead of buying a $300 or more carpet cleaner, just buy a travel-sized one. It’s great for cleaning up small pet stains. Plus, it’s cordless, which makes all of our lives easier. For about $10 more, you can buy it with a carpet cleaning solution, and for $114, you can bundle it with a pet hair remover.

Dog Seatbelt

Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness, Amazon, $11.99 – $13.99 (size varies)

Your dog shouldn’t be roaming around in your car any more than you should. However, if you drive a smaller car like I do, your dog’s crate probably won’t fit in your backseat. One solution is to put this harness on your dog. You just have to buckle the leash part of it in as if you’re buckling in a seat belt, then your dog won’t fly forward if you come to a short stop!

Car Seat Protectors

With Side Flaps – CoCo Vision Dog Seat Cover, Amazon, $29.99

With Seat Belts – Bonve Pet Dog Seat Cover, Amazon, $23.99

These car seat protectors are multi-purpose and can make or break your road trip. They will protect your car seats from dog hair, scratches, and accidents, they’ll help keep your dog restrained to the back seats, and they’ll provide extra comfort for your pup to lay on! I recommended two because one comes with slide flaps to prevent your pup from scratching at your car doors, and the other comes with two dog seat belts, which will save you some money! Choose wisely.

Other Options

If you have other suggestions or recommendations for easing your pet travel process, leave your thoughts in the comments below! I’m always looking for more ways to keep my four-legged children safe and comfortable so I can take them with me on trips!


*P.S., 50StatesBy25 is an affiliate partner of Amazon, which means if you purchase pet travel items through my provided links, I’ll be able to afford my next trip, and you’ll get more awesome vacation advice!*

Going Home.

Sometimes traveling means going back home. Sometimes it means re-grounding yourself and remembering where it all started.

I moved from my home of Long Island, NY, three years ago and I set my official goal to visit all 50 states before I turn 25 a little less than a year ago. Living in Nashville, TN has opened me up to a whole new lifestyle and a whole new way of traveling. Living in New York was all about flying to California and Florida and the occasional road trip to New Haven or Boston. Living in Nashville means that Memphis, Knoxville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Louisville, Asheville, Birmingham, Cincinnati…all these cities are a less than a five hour drive from my apartment. I’ve been able to completely redefine road trips, day trips, and weekend trips.

I reached a point a few months ago where going “home” to NY seemed like a waste of a good opportunity to visit a new place instead, but I’ve realized something: I don’t need to rush.

The whole reason I set this “by 25” goal is because I know that visiting all 50 states will only get harder as I get older and more established in one place. At 20 years old, I don’t have a full time job, I’m still in school for another semester, and I can take off almost whenever I want. That’s going to change very soon. But if it takes a little longer for me to reach all 50 and I have some really good trips “home,” that’ll be okay.

No matter how much I move and travel, Long Island will always hold my roots, my family, and my start. My love for travel came from family vacations that started from when I was a newborn. All those vacations were road trips leaving from my house on Long Island or flights leaving from LaGuardia airport.

Here, on Long Island, is where I spent hours looking for Disney discounts, put together individual packing lists for everyone going on the trip (I was a weird kid), and put together scrapbooks and collages at the end of it all.

Here, on Long Island, is where I learned to love leaving but love coming home just as much.

Taking Every Chance

When I moved from New York to Tennessee for college, my parents and I thought that I would be home once a semester, tops. In my first semester, I went home three times.

I enjoyed all those trips home, but now I wonder, how else could I have spent that time?

I would go home and lie in bed for four days straight while my parents were at work and my brother was at school. I could have been traveling.

I know that regret does nothing but set us back, so I try not to dwell on missed experiences. Instead, I focus on my plans for the future and how I’m going to possibly meet my goals.

This spring break, instead of going home for a week or lying on a beach for a week straight, I’m taking an ultimate southern road trip with a few of my very best friends!

We’re planning to leave from our home in Nashville and hitting Memphis, TN, Jackson, MS, Baton Rouge, LA, New Orleans, LA, Gulf Shores, AL, and Atlanta, GA.

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We’ll be exploring all the zoos, aquariums, museums, parks, and coffee shops we can find and eating all the Louisiana food we can afford. We’ll spend a day at the beach in Alabama because hey, it’s spring break.

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When we finally circle back to Nashville, we’ll be both exhausted and refreshed, ready to finish out the semester strong. Hopefully.


I will also have stepped foot in FOUR more states! That’s right, FOUR new states in one road trip. I <3 travel.

So please please please send me your notes if you’ve been to any of the places we’re going to because I need to know what we absolutely need to do in the short time we’ll be in each city.

You are all wonderful.




Packing a Small Car

I’ve done enough moving and road trips in my Honda Accord enough times to call myself an expert in the art of packing small cars (and leaving enough room so you can see out of the back windshield).

It really is like a game of Tetris and I have to thank my parents and friends for playing with me.

Here are some tricks that I wish I had known sooner:

  1. Stuff smaller shoes like flats into bigger shoes like boots. You can also stuff boots and shoes with things like scarves, socks, hats, etc.
  2. SPACE SAVER BAGS – don’t overfill them because it will end up defeating the purpose,  but they will be life savers if you use them right.
  3. If it all possible, don’t use suitcases. They’re bulky and take up space that could be used for something else. If you have to, ROLL, DON’T FOLD!
  4. If you have the ability to take out your back seats and leave them behind, do that. If not, leave them UPRIGHT so they create a sort of shelf for any boxes/stackable items. They also serve as a general sight line for your back windshield view.
  5. Stuff any pillows/blankets/extra clothing in the spaces between the doors and back seats. Use plastic bags to protect them. This is also a good space for books.
  6. Don’t overlook the seat back pockets for books, movies, socks, anything else you can squeeze in there.
  7. Things usually kept in your trunk (first aid kits, ice scrapers, jumper cables, etc.) can be moved to the floor of the front seat so that the trunk can be left for bigger things to lie down.
  8.  If your glove box and other closed compartments aren’t already full, fill them. It’s easy to forget those spots exist.
  9. Find things to clip important documents to the sun visors. It’s one less thing to shove into the glove box.
  10. This might be an obvious one, but pack all the big things first. You never know what little crevices your bigger items will create. Then you can fill them in with all your little knick-knacks.


Most important tip: Nothing you’re trying to bring with you is worth sacrificing the safety that comes with being able to see out of the back window.

Safe travels, friends.

Packing For a Cruise

Cruises are probably the most difficult trips to pack for. In most cases, you have to fly to the port that you are leaving from, so you have to pack lightly to get all your stuff on the plane. Plus, your state room on the ship is probably going to be the size of your bathroom at home.

Putting size to the side, you have to bring formal wear on a cruise. Well, maybe you don’t HAVE to, per say, but you do if you want to dine in the formal dining room on certain nights – especially if you choose a seven day cruise or longer.

Then, whether you’re taking a December cruise to Alaska or a July cruise to Bermuda, you’ll want to bring enough bathing suits for every day on the ship (hot tubs are usually a thing).

The same goes for the amount of outfits you bring. You’re not going to have a chance to do laundry.

Given all of this, here is the list I use for a seven day warm weather cruise. Note that this is based on my experiences with several Royal Caribbean cruises and one Disney cruise. Feel free to download it (link below) and adjust it accordingly.

If you’re looking for something new to bring, consider this awesome t-shirt.

Packing for a 7-Day Cruise

Category Item #
Clothing Casual Top 7
Clothing Casual Bottom 7
Clothing Exercise Gear 2 to 3
Clothing Semi-Formal 2
Clothing Formal 2
Clothing PJs No more than 7
Clothing Underwear 10 to 12
Clothing Bathing Suit 3 to 5
Clothing “Cover Up” 1
Shoes Casual 2
Shoes Semi-Formal 1
Shoes Formal 1
Shoes Flip-Flops 1
Shoes Sneakers 1
Accessories Makeup As little as possible
Accessories Jewlery As little as possible
Accessories Hair As little as possible
Accessories Shower Only what you wouldn’t find in a hotel
Accessories Purse 1 Small – you won’t need to carry much
Accessories Sunglasses You can buy sunscreen on the ship
Other Leisure Books 2
Other Laptop Unnecessary unless you will use it w/o wifi
Other Headphones 1
Other Money Remember that purchases made on the ship will go straight to your account (no cash or card accepted)
Other iPod if your music isn’t on your phone
Other Camera/GoPro Unless your phone is your camera
Other Texting App if you don’t have an iphone and don’t have wifi

Things to absolutely not bring:

  1. Towels – unnecessary and space consuming. Trust me, they have plenty (even for when you leave the ship and go to the beach).
  2. The obvious – anything dangerous or flammable. You will walk through a metal detector every time you enter or leave the ship.
  3. Anything valuable – when you board the ship, you hand over your luggage and it is delivered to your door. Unless you overly trust the other guests, I wouldn’t recommend, say, leaving your diamond earrings in an outside pocket.
  4. Food – there is absolutely no reason to bring any food with you. Obviously, if you have any medication or supplements that you need with you, add those to your list. The ship will meet any dietary need you may possibly have. Their food supply is incredible.
  5. Your Hawaiian shirt – Just kidding. Kind of. This is the one time where it might be acceptable.


As always, contact me if you have any questions by visiting the “About” page!