23 and blessed; Birthday fun and how to vacation on the low!

I remember starting this blog just a little more than a year ago. I started writing before my 22nd birthday. I felt so close to God and yearned to share all that He revealed to me about His glory

A specific memory flashes through my mind as I look back on the previous season in my life. As I sat on the floor at my parents house in the days leading up to my 22nd birthday. I cried out to God for assurance that this 'christian' thing would get better and that it wouldn't always feel so weary. He responded with Haggai 2:9 The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."

A full year later, I stand as testimony that God is truly faithful, that he does exceedingly above and beyond all He promises to do. My 23rd birthday was by far one of the best that I can remember. I didn't do anything exceptional, but I felt so loved and appreciated and cherished by those around me. That was really all I could have asked for.

God was in the details through and through. I mentioned that I wanted an ihome, flippantly in conversation with God, I received that unexpectedly. I was supposed to get a pedicure, and never did--someone else blessed me with that. I wanted to vacation and take pictures and eat great food (silly, I know!) But I did that too.
It literally seemed like on March 13th 2016, God opened heaven and rained blessings all day. I sat in the car with my two dear friends and just cried because my heart was so full and I loved them so much...and God is so faithful, the only emotion I could really profess was joy accompanied with tears.

I don't have it all together, but I'm excited to see the glory of God this upcoming year and I know He will only continue to exceed my expectations.
Since I have so many vacation pictures, I'll cycle through them and explain how to get a cost effective vacation and relax on a budget!

This year, one of my goals has been to travel (in and out of the country). I've been pretty successful thus far, and wanted to continue the crescendo with a trip to celebrate my birthday.
I presented the idea to two of my good friends and they were down!

One of the best ways to save money on a trip is to plan with friends!
I decided that I wanted to drive wherever we went because:
  1.  It's cheaper and gas is less than $2.00
  2. The drive can always serve as a bonding experience.

I currently live in Orlando, so I looked at cities that were close by for possible vacation spots.
The best trips (in my humble opinion) usually involve exploring new territory and seeing new sights. I believed that people think that in order to vacation you need to go across the state or country. Not the case! Sometimes the closest cities have the most to offer especially on a tight budget (i.e college students).

I settled on Melbourne Fl, because it was about an hour away and Cocoa beach was only 30 minutes from Melbourne.

Lodging, besides transportation is usually the most expensive part of any trip. After reading Heather Lindsey's blog on cost effective traveling (check it out Heatherllindsey.com) I chose to book my lodging with Airbnb.com.
  • Airbnb is a website where you can book people's homes, apartments, condos or private room's for a cheaper rate than what a hotel would typically cost.
  • If you use the link in this blog, you receive a $20 travel voucher applicable towards your next booking) Check it out!

I ended up booking a one bedroom apartment unit for 3 days, 2 nights for $169(after my $20 discount). The owner confirmed all the details of our stay with me via text and email before our arrival. The key was left the key in a keybox (so we never saw him.) The apartment was super simple, but lovely and very clean. We had free internet, he provided towels and toiletries bedding etc. The neighborhood was great as well.
You can see some of the apartment behind us. This is Kesi, Gabby and I before dinner at Otjundu's

The itinerary is always the most overlooked part of any vacation. I'll admit I'm not the world's expert on planning nor organization. BUT I knew how I wanted to spend my time in Melbourne/cocoa. A fun vacation starts with a goal. Yes you're on vacation to relax, but you don't have to spend money to sleep all day in another bed. I knew I wanted the vacation to consist of eating great food and exploring the city/beach so I focused on those two things when deciding what to do with the short short weekend.

I started off by researching all the local eateries in Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. Yelp.com is great for this, the reviews can actually be very helpful.

Friday consisted of: Getting dressed for dinner and eating at Otjundu's in Melbourne.
The restaurant featured South African cuisine and German food. I got lamb, my friends ordered steak and fried pork respectively. All of our bills were under $25.00 including drinks. We sat outside and they have a beautiful garden area.

Rack of lamb, yum!

We also explored downtown historic Melbourne. Sometimes walking around is fun--we didn't go into any of the establishments, but did catch the tail end of a saint Patrick's day parade.
Watching the Parade!

We also went to Melbourne beach that night and took loads of pictures. It was such a fun experience.
Melbourne beach at night, being silly with Kesi

On the way to the beach!

Saturday: Saturday was beach day. First we had breakfast at a local dinner. I always recommend dinner food because it's usually delicious and moderately priced. I chose Barrier Jack's (researched it on yelp.com) We all spent less than $12.00 and got an assortment of eggs, grits, meat.

The beach was the best part, we spent the day at cocoa beach and relaxed it was just calming. The weather was great too: not too hot and not too cold.

That night, we freshened up and had my official birthday dinner at Gregory's seafood, Steak and Pasta on Cocoa Beach.
The food was fantastic and worth every penny. I got a porter house steak and my tastebuds melted. My friends got the Shrimp Alfredo pasta; that was amazing too.

We rang in my birthday talking and reminiscing on how good God is, and of course dancing :).

Sunday: This was the day we had to check out of our Airbnb apartment, the checkout process was super simple as well. We gathered all of our things and left the key in the keybox where we found it before leaving.

We had breakfast at a restaurant located on Satelite beach. It's called Sun on the beach. It wasn't necessarily my favorite place to eat, but the location was beautiful.

All and all I would say this vacation personally cost me around $300 dollars for the 3 days and 2 nights. That amount includes the full price of lodging. My friends spent less, around $70. If everything was split three ways (and if I didn't spend excessively because it was my birthday weekend) I would say the trip would have probably been around $100 a person.

Moral of the story:  If you want to see the country or even the world, don't let money be a constraint! There's so much to do and see especially in your single season/youth. Don't wait until you feel like it's too late. Get out now! And don't forget to document your experience with lots of pictures, it may seem tedious then, but you'll have vivid images of your memories for years to come.

All my love,