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Indoor Skydiving at iFly: A Tinggly Gift Review

indoor skydiving

One of the things we love about travel is the opportunity to take part in a variety of different and exciting experiences around the world. We’d been lacking in this department while home waiting for our next adventure to begin. Often finding ourselves uninspired by our too-familiar surroundings and itching for more excitement. So when Tinggly, a UK based company we adore, increased their experiences list to Texas we were thrilled. The best part? The particular activity we chose can be done in a multitude of different locations throughout the US, Canada, the UK and Asia. ifly Indoor Skydiving gives you the thrill of free-falling, without the fear and risks involved with jumping out of a plane.

Remind me, what exactly is Tinggly again?

So just a quick recap of what Tinggly is in case you’re not familiar with them: if you’ve ever had a difficult time coming up with a unique gift for a friend, family or significant other, Tinggly has provided a unique platform specifically for this scenario. Essentially you purchase what they call an “experience” – which costs a flat rate of $119 – and the gift receiver can choose from hundreds of various unique activities all around the world.

We love this idea because you don’t have to know exactly what the gift receiver enjoys to be able to give them an amazing experience! They can choose something that fits their style (scuba diving in Spain, walking with lions in Zimbabwe, cooking lessons in Mexico just to name a few) and you’ll become their new favorite person.

Tinggly’s experiences span over 80 countries, and with that range comes a multitude of various activities. Each experience is bound to provide a new and lasting memory, which is why we’re so proud and excited to be Tinggly ambassadors! 

The Purchasing Process

When you (or the gift receiver) finally find the experience you’d like to partake in (which can be difficult, since they’re all so incredible) you simply click the “Buy A Gift” button, pay via any major credit card, and the Tinggly Gift Box or Voucher – your choice – will be shipped for free. 

An email will be sent to you with the details of your order, and voilá! If you chose the voucher, it is emailed and can be printted out, and if you chose the gift box it is shipped to you for free. The gift is available for up to two years, which gives ample time for planning your Aqua Safari in Bora Bora.

Our Experience

Okay on to the exciting part!

This was our first Tinggly experience, and we chose to do indoor skydiving at iFly in Austin, because who doesn’t want to experience FLYING? 

We’ve driven past iFly numerous times since it opened a few years ago, and have always been curious about what it would be like. We booked the experience for two, and excitedly prepared for our flight. 

We walked inside the tall building, and were immediately greeted by a couple of friendly people behind the desk. We immediately wondered how often they get to float around in the wind tunnel and re-evaluated our life choices. We got all checked in, signed a waiver, and were given wristbands. We each opted for an additional $10 purchase that would allow us to “fly high” into the wind tunnel with our instructors. Obviously, we were giddy with anticipation. 

We walked up the stairs and immediately caught sight of the large glass wind tunnel. A man was floating with his instructor in what looked like one of those magic tricks where the magician removes the table from underneath his model assistant. A line of other flyers were sitting on a bench, patiently awaiting their turn, and their friends and family sat outside the tunnel watching. We were ushered into a side room with about twelve other people where our training would commence, and our friendly instructor, Ben, walked us through the procedures. After a short video, he had each of us lay on a special table to show us the proper form. It was kind of awkward and gave us a sort of beached whale feeling, ha!

After our brief training, we were given super attractive flight suites, ear plugs, eye protection and helmets. There were lockers available to put personal items in, and because jewelry or other loose items aren’t allowed in the chamber for safety reasons, we all grabbed a locker and set a quick combination. The group ahead of us finished up their flights, and we were led into the glass enclosure to sit on the bench. Shelly and I were at the back of the line, and one by one we watched people suddenly start floating as they entered the chamber. It was odd because you couldn’t see or hear the air, and from the outside it looked almost peaceful, but upon entering it was like suddenly sticking your head out of the window of a car traveling along the interstate. 

Shelly’s turn came and she handled it like a pro. The instructor uses handles situated on the back of the flight suit to guide you around the chamber. Each flight lasts 60 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a long enough time, but consider that with a normal skydive, where the free fall portion typically lasts about 45 seconds. Shelly’s turn ended and I stood up for my own. 

I trust fall-ed my way in, the instructor grabbed my handles and all of a sudden I was floating. Not gracefully by any means, but floating. I couldn’t hear anything with the wind rushing upwards into my face, but the instructor gave hand signals (which we learned the meanings to during training) to tell me whether I needed to hold my chin up, straighten my legs, pop up, pop down, etc. Any slight movement meant a sudden drop or rise, and soon I learned how to bank and maneuver just a tad. My turn ended and I glided (not so) delicately to the open doorway. 

What a rush! The second flight around, those who had purchased the $10 add on (which everybody had) we were flown with the instructor to the top of the chamber three times. It was about thirty feet high, but not one bit scary. The control that the instructor had was impressive, and he went through our line efficiently. 

After we were all finished, the instructor went in by himself to show off a bit. He went to the top of the chamber, then did a free fall to the bottom before catching himself at the last second. He rocketed to the top and then glided down in a spiral. We all stared in awe, as if watching a circus animal perform tricks.

After all the fun, we removed our gear, fixed our hair (mostly Shelly) and returned the flight suit to the desk. Included in our package was two free video clips which were filmed during our flight, and we opted to purchase two more additional photos. They have a few touch screen systems set up for you to easily view your photos and videos before making the decision to purchase. The files we bought were emailed to us about an hour later to download!

Check out the two videos we got along with our package. Please forgive the horribly cheesy music… 

Final Thoughts

We had a great time with this experience, and hopefully it’s something we can do again in the future! The instructor was extremely friendly and professional, the building is clean and modern, and the whole process was very smooth. The only downside with iFly is that everything costs something. It’s slightly expensive, and we ended up paying an additional $27 in flight time and photos. When you compare that to the cost of a real skydive though, you can’t beat it. 

We could definitely imagine gifting people Tinggly experiences and then later hearing them recount crazy stories of Northern Lights sightseeing in Iceland or extreme white water rafting in Indonesia. What an amazing memory to give to someone you care about. Very easy, very unique, and very memorable. 

We were fortunate to receive this gift for free from Tinggly, and so the real question is… would we buy this? And the answer is, yes. We had a great time, and so without a doubt we would have purchased it! It made for a great story to tell to family and friends. Normally when I tell people about it, I get a variation of the response, “aw, I’ve always wanted to do that!” It would also make a fun and unique date night, or even a family activity since kids are allowed. 

Have you ever skydived, either indoor or outdoor? What do you think about gifting a Tinggly experience? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

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Cheers, 

Jimmie & Shelly

*While this experience was graciously provided by Tinggly, all thoughts and opinions are our own, as always!

What I Learned About Life After Quitting My Job to Travel the World

Jimmie and I quit our jobs in June of 2014 gearing up for an amazing adventure around the world. We sold our cars, stored our things, and said our goodbyes to family and friends. We spent 7 months traveling around North America and Europe, with the last 3 months spent living in Prague. It was a whirlwind trip full of excitement, emotional highs and lows, adventure, and constant learning. In December, though, we decided to head home for several reasons:

  • I learned that while I love traveling I don’t necessarily like the nomadic version of it. I tried to just relax and enjoy the ride, but in the back of my head (and often times annoyingly out loud to Jimmie) I was constantly stressed about where we would go next, how we would get there, where we’d stay, how we’d afford it, how would we make money, etc. I was terrified that I actually didn’t like traveling as much as I thought I did. Thankfully, I realized that I just needed a home base and some security to be able to fully enjoy travel. Spending 3 months living in a foreign country? No problem. Setting out for an extended nomadic trip with no set plans and no place to call “home”? Lord help me. Also, I HATE backpacks. I know that goes against every travel bloggers mission statement, but they are just not me.
  • We learned about the world of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) during our time in Prague, and in October we decided to get our TEFL certificate and send our fingerprints off to the FBI** to prepare for future job opportunities. We learned that South Korea’s main hiring season is in February so we decided to go home to see our families before heading out for a year of teaching.

**If you’re living outside the US and need to send your fingerprints to the FBI – I hope it’s easier for you than it was for us in Prague. We couldn’t find anywhere (including the US Embassy) that would take our fingerprints and essentially had to buy an ink pad, a jar of ink, and print off the fingerprint form from a Czech printing shop (an experience in itself) and hope for the best.

I was constantly stressed about where we would go next

So with everything we’d learned from our past 7 months of traveling, and the intention to teach English in South Korea in February, we headed home.

Isn’t it funny how we constantly try to plan out our lives even though things rarely work out as we plan?

Needless to say, it’s June and we aren’t in South Korea. Our fingerprints WERE approved (somehow), but the process took nearly 4 MONTHS and by the time our background check was cleared we had missed the major hiring deadline in Korea. Our recruiter assured as that while more rare, there were possibilities for jobs in the off season and she would submit us to anything she saw that fit our requirements. We were a bit picky in that we wanted more than a studio apartment to live in, and to be at a school with other foreign teachers. We had several interviews which didn’t end up working out due to various reasons such as timing, they didn’t like us, we didn’t like them, or they only offered a tiny apartment where Jimmie and I would eventually want to strangle each other. I was also struggling with where I would house my four-legged best friend, Dakota, for the year. Either way, it was looking like we would be home for much longer than we anticipated.

When reality set in, I was having a tough time being “stuck” at home. I’d just spent the past 7 months experiencing new cultures, new ways of life, and new environments. Yet here I was, back home, living in the town I went to high school in. I was disappointed that our plans didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. We didn’t have cars to easily get around, and public transportation is a joke in Texas. Jimmie and I were living 200 miles apart in two different cities. I didn’t enjoy living off my parents. I had a bad attitude and didn’t want to be seen as a failure.

Finally, after throwing myself this long-winded pity party, I realized I was doing it all wrong. Something just clicked.

I had an opportunity. I was home with my family, with more time on my hands than I wished for, and a computer that gave me access to an entire world of prospect. Over the next few months I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, get my act together and buckle down on things I could make a conscious effort to change.

These are what I focused on:

Health & Fitness

In February I decided I needed to do something about all the food I had indulged on during our travels that was stubbornly sticking around. I began with a 30 day yoga challenge (Yoga With Adriene – she is amazing and based out of our favorite Texas town) and eventually stumbled across a fitness program on Instagram called the Bikini Body Guide by gorgeous Aussie Kayla Itsines. The results from some of these girls were unreal. Essentially it’s a 12-week circuit training program and I decided to take a chance. That turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life and flipped my entire lifestyle upside down. In April, however I realized that working out wasn’t enough and I had to take control of my eating habits as well. I’d already limited my alcohol intake, but chocolate and Chick Fil A are far harder things to give up in my opinion.

I’ll be dedicating a whole post to Kayla Itsines and the BBG program in the near future but for a glimpse of my results and how it’s affected me, follow my fitness account on instagram: @travelingbbg

Work and Education

While we at first had our sights set on teaching English in order to continue traveling, it isn’t something we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Our goals are to eventually find something we are passionate about that will allow us to work and travel from anywhere in the world. This is OUR key to happiness, and yes it may sound a tad unrealistic, especially to us Americans who grew up believing 9-5 was the only way to make an honest living. But what’s life without taking a few risks? We don’t like being tied down to one city. We have this wanderlust running through our veins that we can’t ignore. Yes I was stressed out being a nomad, but I will forever want to travel and explore – just in a different way. So we used this extended period of down-time to figure out what exactly we could do that would allow us to live out our dream life. We began reading Tim Ferris’ “The Four Hour Workweek” (HIGHLY recommended), learning new skills (skillshare.com), and researched different digital nomad fields. Jimmie grew fond of photography, and I decided graphic design would be a fun and challenging trade to learn. We’re still in the process of figuring it out and are constantly learning new tips and advice for freelancing but I think we’re on to something.

I also began a partnership with the beauties behind The Bucketlist Bombshells and am currently taking their 6 week long Work+Travel course. Exciting things to come and I can’t wait to share my review with you all!!

(*Update – thanks to this course I finally began my own business focusing on web design and digital marketing! If you’re in need of either of those things, I’d love for you to visit me over at Dakota & Co.)

Faith

Jimmie and I weren’t sure if we should mention our Christian faith on this blog, but this isn’t just your ordinary travel website. Occasionally it’s a place for inspiration, both travel and personal, and we want to be open and honest with all of our readers. I was struggling with my faith while traveling. I prayed, yes but otherwise that was about it. I didn’t trust God to lead me, I didn’t give my worries and frustrations over to Him. I thanked Him for the good things, and became angry when things didn’t go my way. I foolishly thought I could fix everything myself. When I returned home, I was ecstatic to get back to my church, Ecclesia, in Houston. I’ve never fit in with a church or related to how the Pastor spoke more than I do at Ecclesia. I didn’t grow up in Sunday school, and I admittedly don’t know many of the foundational stories of the bible. Pastor Chris preaches in a way that makes everything so easy for me to understand. On days I couldn’t make it to church, I would listen to the podcasts and consistently feel inspired and loved. While moving things out of my old roommates house, I stumbled across a small book titled “Jesus Calling”. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a daily devotional with inspirational memos rooted from the bible along with bible verses that support that day’s message. It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of how I should live each day and to just relax and trust in our loving God. I learned to thank Him for both good and bad things, to give my problems to Him as I knew he would fix them eventually, and to trust that I am where exactly I am supposed to be at each moment in time. I immediately felt at ease.

Family

I love my family. Did I want to spend 7+ months living back at home with them like a teenager? Not so much, and I can assure you my parents were equally as thrilled. It was a tough transition at first – I was used to my freedom and they theirs. I didn’t have a car and my mom graciously allowed me to borrow hers when it was available, but scheduling made that difficult sometimes. I brought my dog home to their house where he chased their cat every chance he could get. It took time, patience and love to finally just accept I was back home and learn to cherish that time with my mom and step-dad. I can’t speak for them, but I’m glad now the way things have worked out. I’ll look back with fond memories of playing darts, getting ice cream with the convertible top down, finally training my dog to ignore the cat, daily walks with my mom, watching wheel of fortune, and making and enjoying dinner together each night.

It also turned out that I was home for a tragic family event that I can’t imagine having been gone for. My grandfather on my Dad’s side of the family suddenly passed away one evening in late February. It was a shock to all of us, as he was in relatively good health with no major issues that we should have kept an eye on. I flew up to Buffalo where that side of my family lives and spent the week with my New York relatives. As hard as it was to experience that, I can’t even imagine how upset I would have been if I hadn’t been able to fly home to say a proper goodbye.

So even though Jimmie and I aren’t traveling at the moment, I needed this time back home. I needed to lay this foundation in so many different aspects of my life. I needed to learn to live and enjoy each moment instead of constantly worrying about the future. I needed time to explore different career paths until I landed on something that would allow me to continue traveling. I needed this time to grow my relationships with God, family and friends.

I didn’t want to be home this long, and honestly am constantly itching to go somewhere with more excitement but I’m learning to ENJOY my time here. I’ve finally realized that I need to live in the present and let God take care of the rest. Regardless of your beliefs, I challenge you to accept where you are at this exact moment in your life.

Ask yourself what you can do today that your future self will thank you for.

Whether that be changing your eating habits, mending a broken relationship, or simply waking up 30 minutes earlier than normal. Small positive changes, and constant self-awareness and improvement can have a tremendous impact. And as for our next move? Well, we’re thinking of heading to Mexico or Central America, bringing my adventure dog along, and building up the courage to navigate the freelance life. Will that work out? Hard to say…but we won’t know until we try.

Has traveling had a major impact on your life? Has NOT traveling affected you? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,

Shelly & Jimmie

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The Best Brunch Spots in Miami Beach

Miami Beach, Florida is a city that is only nineteen square miles, with restaurants and hotels packed tightly against the warm blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It has been a hotspot in the culinary world for decades, so it’s not too hard to imagine that they would have fantastic brunches. With international flavors inspiring every kitchen in the area, you’re able to find a brunch to please any palate.

The Setai Restaurant

The Setai Restaurant is the featured upscale eatery located within the luxurious Setai Hotel. World-famous Executive Chef Mathias Gervais serves up a brunch inspired by the traditional qualities of Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, southern France and Provence. Enjoy authentic Italian pastas, fresh seafood, succulent lamb and Indian curries. The Setai is located just a block away from South Beach in a neighborhood full of shopping, popular cultural events and exciting nightlife. Included in the $85 price tag is complimentary Champagne, Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and even live jazz music!          

Tongue & Cheek

Tongue & Cheek embodies a sophisticated and whimsical restaurant. It has a very relaxed atmosphere where good food is the prime objective and modern décor with a classic essence resides. No doubt these are the reasons they were featured on Bravo TV’s culinary showBest New Restaurant. Some of the more unique and popular offerings of the menu are the fried chicken and cheddar waffles, the lemon ricotta pancakes with lemon curd, or the Key West pink shrimp n’ grits with pickled peppers. Tongue & Cheek is located right off Highway A1A near Ocean Drive, famous for its Art Deco hotels and Versace Mansion. Bottomless Bloody Mary’s, Bellinis and Mimosas are yours for only an additional $25.

Yardbird Southern Kitchen and Bar

If you’re in the mood for good ole southern comfort food, Yardbird should be at the top of your list. This gourmet modern restaurant is located just a half block away from bustling Lincoln Road and would be a great place to hit before a day of shopping or lounging at the beach. One of the newer additions to this touristy area, Yardbird has received high praise for its fried chicken, in-house infused bourbons and impeccable customer service. You won’t have to pick between a sweet or savory brunch as this place has it all. Try the Chicken N’ Watermelon’ Waffles for an adventurous twist on a southern classic. It is highly recommended that you make a reservation, as Yardbird tends to fill up quickly on the weekends (aka brunch time!)

The Local House

The Local House is a modern, airy restaurant located on Ocean Drive with indoor and outdoor seating available. With four unique egg’s benedict options, and several other classic American brunch offerings this place is an easy winner. Whether you’re on vacation, or just enjoying a relaxing afternoon, The Local House invites you to imbibe with one of their signature sunrise cocktails. Mimosas, Bellinis, and Bloody Mary’s among others are available to quench your thirst. If alcohol isn’t your thing, coffee and assorted teas are also offered at The Local House.  Expect to pay between $10-16 for your main dish, and $4-12 per drink.

What’s your favorite brunch food? Have you been to any of these spots on Miami Beach? Let us know in the comments below!

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Cheers, 

Jimmie & Shelly

Best Places to Stay in Boston

Boston is one of America’s oldest cities and is teeming with charm and history. The city’s gorgeous old world architecture is bound to capture your attention from the start. You’ll find the locals display an enormous amount of pride for their city and it’s hard not to fall in love with Boston’s spirit.

Being one of the more expensive places to visit in the U.S, expect to pay quite a bit even for “budget” hotels here! Because there is such a wide range of accommodation possibilities, we broke it down into four categories. 

We’ve joined the Liebster club!

We’ve Been Liebstered!

We were recently nominated for the very prestigious Liebster Award by our friend Annemarie over at Travel On The Brain! While we weren’t exactly sure what a Liebster Award was at the time (for some reason it kind of made us think we’d been bamboozled, like on the show Friends), we did a few quick Google searches and discovered that it’s for the best travel blog of all time. Just kidding… it’s used to help people discover up-and-coming or new travel blogs! We are thrilled and honored that Annemarie would think to nominate us. We love this awesome blogging community and are so excited knowing that other bloggers enjoy our content 🙂

12 Places To Eat & Drink In Prague

We recently spent 3 months living in Prague, which gave us a great opportunity to experience different restaurants all around the city. Some of these places are traditional Czech while some of them are definitely not.  We loved trying the various cuisines available throughout this lively city! 

Even though we’ve got dollar signs next to each one to let you know how expensive they are, it’s still all relative to Czech currency. Just about any place you go to will still be cheaper than a half-decent restaurant in the States!

Top 10 Things To Do In Prague

top10praguefeaturedimage

We recently spent three months living and working in Prague, Czech Republic. It has so much history contained within its buildings… from its beginnings over 1,100 years ago to the violence in Europe during the 20th century. It was fortunate during the World Wars to avoid a lot of the destruction seen by most of the other cities, and because of that many of the city’s great historical structures are still intact.

10 Tips For A 2 Week Trip Across Italy

cinqueterre

I recently spent a couple of weeks in Italy and wanted to share with you a few helpful tips about packing, where to stay and getting around the country. Hopefully these suggestions help you when planning your Italian adventure!

1. Do NOT bring a giant suitcase to lug up and down stairs, through cobblestone streets, and try and fail to find places for it to fit on trains. Bring a backpack and a carry on if you absolutely need the extra space.