We’ve been back in Canada for a full week now, and the weekend finally gave me the time to complete my wrap up post from our trip to Beaufort County, South Carolina. We’ve tried our best to settle back into the cool spring temperatures in Ottawa, but are now preparing for a potential snow/ice storm on Sunday that will undoubtedly remind us how lucky we were to spend a week in the sunshine down south. The crew enjoyed the trip so much that we are already scheming our next vacation together somewhere hot in 2019. Although we loved our road trip adventure to SC, the general consensus is that we should fly somewhere next year to find locales with warm temperatures beyond the 17 hour drive radius. Less driving = more time on the beach!
Overall we had excellent weather during our stay in SC, with temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to 24 degrees celsius. This meant that most days were slightly above the historic average of 21 degrees celsius for this time of year, and I for one was pleasantly surprised by the endless sunshine and warmth we experienced! During one windy day the mercury dipped to 16 degrees celsius, but we still managed to enjoy the day with a visit to the pristine beaches at Huntington Beach State Park. The park is also home to salt marshes, a saltwater lagoon, thick lowcounty forests, nature trails and an historic lighthouse built in 1873. The lighthouse is the only historic lighthouse open to the public in South Carolina, and we all paid the $2 entry fee to climb 167 steps to the top. The trek may have reconfirmed some of our fears’ of height, but it was worth it for the incredible views of the coast. The day was sunny and clear and we were able to spot Edisto Island in the distance. The park was only a 10 minute drive from our Airbnb rental, and we wished we’d visited earlier in the day so that we had more time to take it all in. The beaches were very quiet at this time of year, but I imagine that they really fill up in the summer months. We would highly recommend a visit to Huntington Beach State Park if you are ever in this area!
We stopped for dinner at a small restaurant tucked beside a creek on our way home from the state park. Johnson Creek Tavern specializes in southern comfort foods, and this pleased the seafood lovers in our gang. This was not a vegetarian friendly restaurant though – sorry Garrett! – as even the green beans had bacon in them. The service was also a wee bit lacking; we are a big group who loves to share food and this led to countless mistakes when it came to splitting the bills. That being said, we had some of our favourite meals of the trip here, including softshell crabs, steamed mussels, seafood pasta and lobster shepherd’s pie! Can you tell that we have a few East Coasters in our group?
One of the most frequent questions I fielded this week from friends, colleagues and family had to be “were there any issues travelling with such a big group?” Time and time again, I assured inquirers that there were no issues planning, travelling or coordinating with this crew. This is likely a testament to how caring, accommodating, and fun they all are! The size of the house also afforded us the opportunity to make each of our vacations what we wanted it to be. Some folks curled up in the porches or living room nooks to voraciously read books by themselves, while others located the best wifi connection at the kitchen table and coded during their downtime. Others posted up by the pool for most of the day, while a few hunted for seashells, went for a run or soaked up rays on the beach. Through all of these activities, there were a couple themes that I think contributed to the success of the trip:
Those who know me know that I love to plan – and sometimes this doesn’t lend itself well to flexibility. Leading up to the trip many of us researched local sights, activities and nearby day trips, filling a spreadsheet with excursion ideas to fill our days. We didn’t book anything though, opting to “just go with the flow” and see how we felt when we woke up each day. This lack of planning actually allowed for maximum agility, and each person got to see how they felt and decide what they wanted to do that day. It turned out that many of us were feeling the same way – we didn’t feel inclined to go on long day trips or excursions, and were content to lounge by the pool, catch up on our sleep, or immerse ourselves in a good book or coding project. I’m not sure I anticipated how much the gang needed to relax and veg out. Although we didn’t take a day trip to historic Charleston or rent kayaks to adventure the rivers nearby, we listened to each other and left the daily schedule flexible. This led to maximum relaxation at the beach house all week long!
We have travelled as a group before for ski trips to Tremblant, but we’ve never travelled this far or been together this long before. The beach home was impeccable, with a fully equipped kitchen and multiple entertaining spaces, and I’ll admit that upon arrival at the home I felt a little stressed. Group travel experiences in my early 20s had me stressing about the state of the house and how to keep it clean. But these worries were immediately put to rest, as there were so many helping hands for each and every task during the week. This trip reminded me how thoughtful, tidy and incredibly respectful our crew is, and how lucky I am to get to travel with such a wonderful group of people. Every member of the gang contributed something each day – errands like food prep, cooking, tidying and post-meal clean-up were always completed quickly and efficiently, without anyone ever having to ask for help. The tasks seemed to be rotated without discussion as well, so those who were cooking were then able to relax for the next meal and could tackle clean-up instead. Nine sets of helping hands meant everything came together quickly, and we were able to enjoy our meals and relaxation times to the fullest because of this.
When travelling with a group, shared costs can quickly add up. There were road trip expenses such as gas, bridge fares, and mileage on the vehicles, accommodation costs for our 1-night stopovers, as well as food and drink costs for dining in and out. We decided at the start of the trip that we would use an app called Splitwise to track our expenses throughout the trip. Everyone agreed to pitch in in some way, meaning purchases were distributed across everyone’s credit cards so the trip was not financially burdensome on any one person. We created a group in Splitwise, and everyone tracked their purchases and who was involved. For example, when one member bought a grocery run, it was split in the app between all 9 group members. Gas for one vehicle was split between 3 folks in the car at the time the cost was incurred. The app also allowed us to give comments or feedback on expenses, so when I forgot to convert the cost of the state park entry fee to Canadian dollars, Simon kindly reminded me that I did not charge enough. Splitting costs using Splitwise allowed us to equally and transparently account for shared expenses during the trip, and this really helped alleviate stress during and after our trip.
The last trend I noticed during the week was that no one was afraid to take time for themselves. Although we love spending time with each other, everyone felt free to take some personal time, and this allowed us create our own ideal vacation. When travelling with a big group it can be tempting to do “group activities” all the time, but the size of the beach house and variety of spaces enabled us to have space and time to ourselves too. Whether it was tucking ourselves away to voraciously read a new book, getting up early to do yoga and workouts by the pool, going for long walks through the lowcounty forests, holing up at the kitchen table for a strong wifi connection, or playing card games late into the night, we managed to find our own happy places and activities.
I hope that I can speak for the group in saying that it was a successful and incredibly memorable week in South Carolina! We can’t wait to begin planning our next “Frostbite Prevention” trip somewhere south. We are now officially taking recommendations for where to go next… 😉
Thanks for following along on our travels!
Liz, Antoine & the Crew