Versatile Blogger Award

I want to thank Simply Save for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, be sure to do so if you are looking for some great money-saving tips!

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Avoid Shopping While Hungry

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Grocery store visits while you’re hungry can lead to extra money and extra calories! According to a study earlier this year, scientists actually experimentally validated the idea that we purchase higher-calorie foods when we haven’t eaten for a bit (summarized here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/06/us-shop-hungry-idUSBRE9450TF20130506). You are also more likely to make impulse purchases since you are looking for something to quickly fill your belly. The impulse purchases may also mean additional money that you didn’t plan on spending; it is estimated that we spend an extra 15-17% on our grocery bills when we shop while hungry.

If you are heading to the grocery store, try to eat a small, but filling, snack before you head out! You can also try chewing on gum to control feelings of hunger.

(image from shespeaks.com)

27 Surreal Places to Visit Before You Die

If you haven’t already seen this post circulating around the internet, check it out! I have been fortunate enough to see #13 and #14, though I’d love to see all of them. Have you been to any of the places mentioned? Any places that you’d add to the list?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/surreal-places-to-visit-before-you-die

Bucket List Item Completed: Visit the Everglades

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After living in Miami for about two months now, I was finally able to take an airboat ride in the Everglades National Park with a few friends. The tour was with Gator Park and included a 30-minute Everglades airboat tour, short wildlife show, and the opportunity to take your photo with a juvenile alligator (mouth taped shut, of course). The tour was about $18 if you purchased the ticket ahead of time online and $22 at the door. While the tour was shorter than I expected, we had a great time cruising through in search of gators! A must-do activity if you ever find yourself in southern Florida!

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Vacation Spotlight: Dominican Republic

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Once again, I am behind on my posts. I am going to attempt to remedy that soon — I promise! I am still adjusting to my new location, career, and lifestyle. I have been enjoying every minute of it and have been taking advantage of the travel perks. I recently went to the Dominican Republic for a few days off (including my birthday!).

A friend had once recommended a place called “27 Charcos,” or 27 waterfalls, to me, so I did my research and decided to try it out. My airline flies into several airports in the DR, so I found that the better flight for me and my friend was into Santiago, about an hour from Puerto Plata, where our hotel was located. The flight from Miami wasn’t so bad, and we rented a car from Dollar online, but when we arrived, there was no representative there, so we ended up using another company. Word of advice: do not rent from Dollar if you find yourself in Santiago! There were several complaints from locals about them. We used Europcar. Another tip: be sure to have $10 in cash per person when traveling to the DR as there is an entrance fee into the country. There is an ATM right outside of the airport if you find yourself stuck though!

After getting on the road kind of late, we made our way to our place in Puerto Plata, an all-inclusive called Be Live Grand Marien. I had a nice discount and the place was beautiful. It is on the beach and includes several pools and restaurants.

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When traveling in Puerto Plata, or the DR in general, I noticed that they do not advertise their tourist spots very well. We had a hard time trying to find things to do, even though there were plenty. Having a car to explore definitely helped. We spent the first day on the beach and then drove east toward Navarrete. We found (again very poorly-advertised) a small ecological park along our way and decided to stop. They offered nature/cave tours for about $20 a person. I would highly recommend it! The tour guides were wonderful and the caves were astonishing. We even got to swim in one of them.

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We relaxed a bit for the rest of the day and then headed for the waterfalls on the following day. Along our way, we stopped by a historic site along the Malecon (road along the beach). A quick stop, but it had some nice views.

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We had a hard time finding the best route to the waterfalls and had to stop to ask for directions several times. Even though they are advertised as “27 Charcos,” the entrance sign reads “Rio de Damajagua.” The cost is surprisingly cheap. There is an option to do 7, 12, or 27 waterfalls. We had planned to do all 27, but it wasn’t the best time of the year to do all of them since there was not enough water, so we decided on the 12. The cost was around 350 DR pesos per person for 12 waterfalls, or about $8. I’m still shocked at how affordable the tour was. It took around 2 hours with a guide and photographer. Do NOT miss this if you find yourself in that area! The experience was much different than I imagined. It is not simply a tour to look at waterfalls, but rather is interactive and allows you to jump, slide, and swim through small waterfalls. I would bring a waterproof camera or something like a Go Pro if you have one. You are not allowed (well not advised) to take any items with you during the tour because you will be completed immersed in water for a good portion of the trip. If you do not have a waterproof camera, or you are like me and do not trust the disposable ones, they sell a video/photo combo for around $40. I decided to go ahead and purchase that.

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Videos:

Watefall Sliding at 27 Charcos

Cliff Jumping at 27 Charcos

On our last day, we drove back to Santiago and explored there a bit. This was a not a very exciting place for tourists, but it was neat to drive around and see the city.

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There are not many hotels within the city, but we were able to find one for about $25 for the night, just to crash before our flight the next morning.

Though it was a quick trip, we were able to include a lot during our time there!