Why Two Friends Decided to Start a Travel Company-SimplyAwesomeTrips.com

First off- Happy Spring everybody! Not that this winter has been anything winter- like (at least for us in the South) but I still love the dogwoods blooming and the first days of T- shirts and sundresses. It also seems happily coincidental that this is the time of year it worked out for Amy and I to begin our website. Since this is our first blog post ever, I feel like it is a good time to explain a little bit about what we are about.

We know how daunting it is to get a trip together from scratch. To read all the guidebooks for ideas and then check all the hotel and apartment reviews on tripadvisor and booking sites. Not to mention the extra level of planning it takes when traveling with children. Some of my favorite travel stories from my teens and my twenties have come from ditching the plan and seeing what happens. Scrap Madrid and head to Ibiza instead, you say? Sure thing! Whoohoo! That kind of fly by the seat of your pants was fun at the time but it’s  is a little less practical now, mostly because pint- sized passengers need to be fed regularly and they are not good at couchsurfing.

I still like to be flexible (an essential life skill that traveling has taught me), but now the flexibility comes from realizing you don’t have to cram it all in. If we don’t make it to the museum but hey, we really explored Central Park, then that’s a good day. I make detailed plans not because I always think we are going to do everything on the list but more because I like to I know ahead of time what my options are. I like to know much walking is involved between two places, or if I can skip something today because it will still be open tomorrow. My motto is kind of Boy Scout mixed with Zen - Be prepared but go with the flow.                                                                                                                                                                  After years of using each other’s travel itineraries, it seemed like an obvious progression when Amy suggested that we should see if other people, outside of our friends and family, might also be interested. We were biking around Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at the time, which is a perfect example of the type of trip idea we could suggest. It is not exactly a secret that the Cades Cove loop road is closed to cars on some mornings, but if you were not from the area or you read the National Park website closely, you might not know about it. It is an absolutely beautiful trip and very doable with kids (with some modifications). It is one of those things we love to do and and think people would want to know about. I guess we'll find out.

What makes us different from the many, many, many, many (did I say many?) other travel guides out there? Since we are generally traveling with children, most of our itineraries are made with that in mind. We have tried to include options that will appeal to everybody though, and we have done some of these trips with adults only. Bike rides and hikes were just a bit longer, as were happy hours.

I have never liked guidebooks that simply give me a list of things to see on Day 1. It just leaves me with tons of questions, such as, how long am I probably going to spend on that walk or at that science museum? Am I planning on a 5 mile trek here or are these places relatively close together? Can I take a backpack with water bottles and fruit snacks into that museum? And most importantly, is there a playground anywhere around in case someone is over the tourist sights? (That last one is not aimed solely at kids, I know a few adults who can throw epic temper tantrums too and could use a good swingset and some alone time). We like to give these logistical details because it’s what we always want to know and sometimes a little extra info can save big aggravations. We also think maps are key and have devoted a great deal of time to ours. Just walking around until you stumble across the entrance to that park is a lot less fun when you are with a whiny, thirsty, hungry, tired, over- stimulated, hot, cold, bored, jet- lagged, or [so many other options here] child.

Because we could never find a guidebook that included all things we wanted to know, for years, Amy and I have been informally making our own books for our friends and family. (I still remember the guy at Office Depot’s face when I printed and binded a 20 page Copenhagen guide I made when he realized I had done it just for fun). We decided to start making them formally for others on that fateful bike ride. Our trips tend to include a little culture, good food and drink (without being terribly expensive), and a lot of outdoors. Our guides are comprehensive enough to be standalone but can also be just a great source of ideas if you are like us and use multiple sources from which to plan your trip. Our goal is to help simplify your planning by telling you what has worked for us as detailed as we can.

We have tried to give you our best recommendations in all of our itineraries but it’s just that, our opinion. We also do our best to check all the information at least once a year. If you find something great that you think we should include, please let us know. Or if you find something incorrect, heaven forbid, please let us know that too. We love hearing from people and sharing ideas. After all, that is how all this started!

We wish you clear skies, on-time planes, and happy campers!

Amy and Amanda