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Adventures in the Outer Banks – Flexible Travel Planning with Expedia

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Expedia. As always all opinions are my own.

Outer Banks North Carolina USA hero

Mr. Misadventures and I both have nomadic blood or like my favorite Halloween costume growing up, gypsy genes. We are both army brats who grew up moving often and living in different parts of our own country and the world. We both choose careers at global companies with lots of international travel and we both love to travel in our free time. Heck, the 14 years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area before I started dating Mr. Misadventures I lived in 11 different places! My grandmother used to say she wrote my address in pencil because she knew I wouldn’t be in any one place long.

As a couple, Mr. Misadventures and I have lived in the Bay Area and France, spent 18 months on the road in an RV exploring the United States, 6 months living in the RV in Portland while thinking about settling down in the Pacific Northwest, 2 years in Phoenix settling back into a non-RV life, and then we picked up and moved to the Raleigh-Durham region this February. We wanted a taste of the East Coast and to be closer to our beloved France.

But then the Queen reared her ugly head. [Reference here.] The world changed. Life changed. And travel stopped.

It was 97 days before we left our house to go to the grocery store for the first time. And 130 days (4 months = 10 days) before we left our home to get a break. We were going absolutely stir crazy and decided that after the 4th of July weekend we were going to take a day trip to the mountains, just to get some fresh air. We did that 2 weekends in a row and decided given the circumstances, it was exactly what we needed.

Then the sea called.

Atlantic Ocean Outer Banks North Carolina USA

It’s amazing how much this reminds me of Sainte Anne La Palud in Brittany France!

Except for the 2 years in Phoenix and a portion of our RV trip, Mr. Misadventures and I have always lived near a body of water, mostly the Pacific ocean and we really missed it. One of the bonuses of moving to North Carolina was the proximity to the seaside, so we decided we would take our first mid-pandemic overnight trip to the Outer Banks. The timing of my collaboration with Expedia could not have been more perfect, it was the catalyst I needed to do some traveling on my terms with the flexibility I needed to feel safe. I really felt that Expedia was the best place to plan, book, and manage, or in my case, control, our trip with an Expedia itinerary.

When I began looking for accommodations in the Outer Banks, I was completely unaware that you can rent stand-alone private homes and condos on the platform. That was our first choice as we felt we could have some level of control of the cleanliness and isolate easier, however even in a pandemic this portion of North Carolina’s coastline is popular. So our next plan of attack was to find a newer hotel that had windows or sliding glass doors so that we could leave them open and not use the ventilation system.

We chose several Expedia hotels and began reviewing the photo galleries and the cleaning and safety practices that Expedia has added so you can quickly see what policies a hotel has in place to keep visitors safe. Ultimately we went with the Hampton Inn & Suites in Corolla because it is newer and had a sliding glass door opening onto the sea.

Hampton Inn and Suites Outer Banks Corolla

We felt comfortable making the reservation as we could use the Expedia app’s “free cancellation” or “Reserve now, pay later” filters to easily find and book flexible accommodations that suited us in these unprecedented times. If you don’t feel comfortable booking something because you want to see the property first to ensure you feel comfortable staying there, then take advantage of booking last-minute deals using the Expedia app. And if you do rent a private home or condo you can message the owner right from the Expedia app to ask about cleaning policies or make special arrangements.

So how was our trip?

In a word, good. North Carolina has a mandatory mask-in-public rule, and I am hypersensitive to social distancing, but for our first overnight trip out I think we got the respite we needed while still remaining safe.

Andi at the Hampton Inn and Suites

The hotel was clean and people were following safety policies. And while I would have loved to indulge in a famous Duck donut, the more reasonable person inside of me went for the low carb banana, dark chocolate, and walnut muffin baked by the hubby along with a coffee from the breakfast bar which we indulged in at the outdoor tables between the beach and pool. I had not been to the Outer Banks since the summer of 1984 when my family rented a house in Kitty Hawk, but what I remembered most was the direct access to the beach. So I was so pleasantly surprised to just walk out the back door of the hotel, and up and down a set of stairs, and voilà, there it was! There was even a lifeguard on duty which is awesome for families.

We headed out for the day exploring the Corolla area which included the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. And while the actual lighthouse is closed for climbing to the top, we still enjoyed visiting.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA

We will be back to climb those stairs to the top for the view!

Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA Currituck Beach Lighthouse Outer Banks North Carolina USA

We also checked out the beach. We stopped into the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge (we will return here in the fall to photograph birds) and then looked for wild horses on Corolla and Carova beaches.

Our trip had dual purposes. We wanted, needed, to get out of our house and we reveled in the 5-hour drive to the Outer Banks, but we also used it to do reconnaissance because we would like to spend a week here in October so we wanted to scope out the best (and least crowded spots). We were grateful for the opportunity to do it in collaboration with Expedia, which gave us the ability (and you can have it too!) by providing a platform and app that has last-minute deals and one-stop vacation planning.

On our way out we stopped at the Wright Brothers National Memorial so that Mr. Misadventures could see what all the fuss is about. North Carolina license plates have “First in Flight” with a picture of the Wright brothers plane so I wanted him to have the connection.

Wright Brothers National Memorial Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina USA

Then we had our first sampling of North Carolina barbeque (or ‘cue as they call it around here) when we stopped at Currituck BBQ Company. It is easy for us to eat low carb at a place like this (unless you splurge for the banana pudding which you know I did since I had been so good about not eating a Duck Donut – this time…).

Currituck BBQ Company

As we headed home bellies full, we began thinking about what our next trip could look like, and indeed, the spark of travel is alive and well in the Misadventure family!

Tips for traveling during the Age of the Queen

  • Look for hotels that allow you to do same-day cancellations.
  • If you are uncomfortable booking a hotel without seeing it, book last-minute deals using the Expedia app
  • I brought my own cleaning wipes to clean the hotel room (you can also do this with a rental car) to my standards 
  • Because we were driving in, we brought our own pillows
  • Bring a roll of paper towels, that way if you get takeout for your meals you will have ample cleaning materials
  • Bars aren’t particularly safe at the moment, and in North Carolina, they are still closed, so consider bringing your own libations, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset from our hotel terrace with a bottle of wine we brought with us.
  • Bring some of your own food. If you don’t feel comfortable with restaurants you can still enjoy your time (and even save money). We brought breakfast and lunch and then took out dinner. We also brought our own water. When I start getting more comfortable with restaurants first on my list will be seafood. And I will be using my friend Mikkel’s guide to the best seafood restaurants in Outer Banks, she has done all the research for me and I can’t wait to start checking items off her list!
  • If you are driving, check out the available rest stops along the way. If you drink a lot as I do, you will need to stop and you will want to make sure you feel safe. The North Carolina rest stops that I have used have all been super clean with mostly contactless facilities, but I the last 2.5 hours of our drive home there were only small gas stations so I..um…”held it,” you can’t always do that with kids, so plan accordingly.
  • Face mask (of course!), hand sanitizer, and wash your hands!

How about you? Have you planned any trips lately? Are you staying local or road-tripping? Do share!

This is a sponsored collaboration with Expedia. As always all opinions are my own.

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