Ok listen people, this is the final installment of my travel series BUT please believe its not the end of my travel stories got it!?N-T-Ways, we all know Valentine's Day is this weekend which means there will be long lines at restaurants all over, roses and chocolates will be bought and the night will go down as just another Valentine's Day added to the books. Ummm...no. Just no. You deserve better than that and so does your lady!
Look, I know its probably safe to say that last minute plane tickets (you should have booked sooner using these tips) to some exotic vacay are pretty much out of the question but the weekend isn't a lost yet.
We like to travel when budget allows but sometimes locally is all we'll get for the time being. So when the budget ain't quite right or you're playing last minute Joe, Austin has much to offer to make for a helluva weekend.
From the stay away from home, your ride in style and even where to go and hang out, I've got you covered. You simply need to get on the good foot it and book it! Got!?
Ground transpo is usually the least of my worries. Depending on where you go, you might have more options available than just renting a car such as the subway, bus or even walking. But in case you don’t, I got you boo.
Turo - Its basically the Air BnB of cars. You’re renting a vehicle from someone like you would rent a place or room from Air BnB. You can search either on your computer or an app on your phone. They have a rating system just like Air BnB and even similar fee structures. One major difference is the option to select insurance or decline just as you would with a rental car agency. Simply create an account (they are a bit thorough so be prepared) and then you’re on your way.
We’ve only used them once so far and it was for our trip to Denver last month. While we could have chosen pretty much any car (they have serious options) we kept it simple and economical and rented a 2014 Honda Accord from a member of the Air Force (God Bless the Troops!!), David. David even had bottled waters waiting for us and included a guide book he personally put together of sites, foods and activities to see while there. You won’t get that with Hotwire!! The price for roughly 4 days (friday even to monday afternoon) was about 123 total which averaged about 30 bucks a day. The price wasn’t too shabby and included taxes and fees. We used our own insurance just as we would have with a regular rental although you do have the option to purchase some through the app as well. Compare that to renting a car from discount sites such as hotwire where you have no choice in the selection of your car and instead hope and pray its something decent.
What I like most about Turo is that you have the opportunity to drive a luxury car if you desire for less than 80 bucks a day on the low end from what I’ve seen. You can’t even rent a Nissan Altima for that price through Hertz! The most recent going rate was $119.26 per day. The Mercedes and Cadillacs were starting at $159 and only went up from there. So yeah, you can easily leave your minivan life behind and ride in style even if only for a few days.
Hotels are cool and all but I like space, privacy and the ability to be in the thick of it all if I want. For less than most hotels stays I can usually get that and more. Our go to, always is Air BnB.
Air BnB has been our go to for our homes away from home for the last 3-4 years. Outside of work, I believe we have stayed in a hotel once maybe twice during that time. We’ve used them solo (me on my me,myself and I weekend) trips as well as with friends and of course together. The hubs is actually doing it again solo when he heads to the Dad 2.0 conference in February. His stay for 3 nights is cheaper than the discounted rate of $199 for one night at the hotel where the conference is being held. Granted its for a room but still. You can’t beat the price, especially if you’re going to spend more time away from your place than not.
To book is easy. You can use the app or online. You can search parameters similar to those of a hotel but you can either search by room or by the whole place. We’ve actually done the room once. While on a quick overnight trip to search for a home in Austin we rented a room in the home of a single guy. I’ll admit, it was definitely different but we had no qualms about it. The space was neat. He was nice. Win. Win.
But on our most recent trip when visiting Denver, CO the hubs found a one bedroom fully finished basement rental in a home in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. Just in case we weren’t sure, one our Uber drivers confirmed it once we told him where we were staying. It was modern with new fixtures, stainless steel appliances including a refrigerator and oven (no stove but there was a hot plate) with cooking and bakeware included, a large shower (praise baby jesus!), a huge sectional with a matching flat screen. They even had free weights and an elliptical. I mean come on. Are you going to find that in a hotel!? It also had a private gated entrance as well with a small patio. Even the book selection was on point.
This place had it all. Well almost. It didn’t have an iron. And we looked in every available space. How do you not include an iron!? What? People don’t iron clothes anymore!? But besides that it was by far the best place we’ve stayed to date for less than $300 bucks for those nearly 4 days. It was well worth the price. We could have spent that on a room for the same amount and not had nowhere near the same amenities or location.
So whether you’re traveling on a budget or just simply want to feel like less of a tourist and more like a local give these apps a try. How about this weekend in the lovely city of Austin? I’ve even outlined some of my favorite places and spaces so no excuses. Have a good time with your love. Make new memories. Hell even make some babies. We’re grown around these parts!
Austin, TX - Nature Lover + Casual Living
This is where we currently reside and its been pretty good to us so far. As most people know it is home to some of the largest musical festivals including SXSW and ACL. But its also home to some of the best hiking trails I’ve explored.
Bull Creek - If you’re feeling adventurous, grab your partner by the hand and head to Bull’s Creek off of Capital of Texas Hwy or 360 (its the same thing). The hubs and I and the little person have spent many weekends here traversing the terrain. So its a fairly easy trail even for beginners. While it the riverbed may be dry due to the current weather conditions, it still makes for a good place to be at one with nature and your love to chat about next moves, goals or whatever floats your boat.
360 Bridge - If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head down to the 360 bridge and climb one of the hills to a ledge that overlooks the bridge and the city below. I about died walking across the narrowest part of the pathway to get there. Its doable and my son has done it but just don’t look down, mkay? Jesus be an extra foot of dirt!
Let’s just say our entire family loves food! While we don’t live to eat, we do enjoy a good hot plate.
Ramen Tatsuya - My son can rattle off a list of restaurants on any given day but his go to is Ramen Tatsuya. While I’ve mentioned this before, I have no choice but to mention it again. Its just that good. They’re dine in only but so worth the wait. My fave is the tskumen (dipping ramen) with and extra soft boiled egg and an order of sweet and sour yodas (brussell sprouts). But really anything you order will be satisfying to your belly.
Pinthouse Pizza - By far one of the best pizza places I’ve tasted since moving here. The atmosphere is easy with community style dining. They are part brewery part pizza joint and the Greenbelt (my fave pizza) is sure to impress with a hand tossed crust, the right amount of cheese and fresh veggies and seasonings. Look it up and go eat why don’t ya!
Ok so we still haven’t really found a great breakfast spot so you’re on your own there but we’ve definitely stumbled upon a few good coffeehouses.
Cherrywood Coffeehouse - Stumbled upon this while taking a mental health day from a previous job as a personal trainer. I needed plenty of those then and could certainly use a few now but for different reasons. Anywho, their Greek “taco” plate with a hot chai tea made for a very pleasant and filling lunch. The indoor and outdoor seating offers something for everyone.
Benu - The college crowd is probably more familiar with this place because of its hours (24 to be exact) but it also makes for a great late night conversation. The hubs and I stopped by during a night of shenanigans to celebrate his birthday 2 years ago. Our late night chat fest preceded a 3 am swim at my then local healthclub because hey that’s what you do when you’re kid free right?!
Atown - for most things handmade from baby and adult clothing, greeting cards, jewelry and even coasters engraved with common misunderstood song lyrics.
Uptown Cheapskate - think Buffalo Exchange and your favorite vintage store in one. I found this blouse that is reminiscient of the seventies and paired it with Gap Khakis. Old meets new.
Uncommon Objects - ok so this place is kind of playground of things from yesteryear. You can find cameras, pipes, children’s toys and furniture among other things. But by far one of the creepiest are the pics from people’s LIVES. Like honey you remember when we spent the summer down at the beach and here are the pictures to prove it type pics! Just go and see what I’m talking about.
Coldtowne Theater - the hubs and I each have planned a date night here because well, it’s pretty entertaining. It’s improv at its finest. On one visit, there were four stories intertwined all improvised of course and the cast of characters pulled it off well. Now let me forewarn you, the theater itself is small. Like maybe your living and dining rooms combined small. But that’s the beauty of it. If feels like you’re watching a show with a group of friends. Plus for about $5 to $8 a person, that just makes it even better.
The Spiderhouse - The Spiderhouse is interesting. Its a bar, restaurant, old school video haven with a theater/club in the back or around the side, however you want to look at it. We haven’t really tried any of the food there except the food truck in the back but that’s not really why we go anyway. The drinks are good and the live entertainment is the draw. We once popped in for their open mic night. Let me tell you, there was some talent in that room that night. Art definitely comes in all forms and the spoken word was front and center.
Man look, traveling around can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. For us, we like to move around as much as possible, even if we don't go very far. There is still much fun to be had, even in your own backyard. You just have to be willing to look for it.