TRAVEL // Highlands, NC - Toyota Camry: There for Life
Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (“Toyota”) provided me with compensation and use of a Camry for a short period of time. The opinions I have shared about this vehicle are my own.
It’s Summer. If you’re like me, you have big hopes and dreams every year for having the best summer ever. Hopes and dreams of traveling and making memories with our families, sure...but what about the stress that comes with traveling?! Forget about it. There shall be NO SUCH THING!! Right?! Wishful thinking…
But on top of these unattainable goals we give ourselves, we scroll our feeds and often see people we may or may not know on lavish family vacations, seemingly having the time of their lives.
Between my husband's schedule and mine, it’s rare that any day is the same and it’s so easy for us to feel disconnected. Lately, we’ve really been feeling like we needed to getaway, unplug, and reset as a family. So this year, Wes and I decided we would throw all of those ridiculous expectations out the window. Instead of spending 4x our budget on a family trip that would most likely be stressful, we decided to scale back and keep it simple.
We packed only the essentials and headed to Highlands, NC for a 3 day weekend. Highlands is a charming mountain town that is only two hours away from Atlanta! We found an Airbnb rental house on the river and it was breathtaking.
Instead of taking our big SUV, we “sized down” and drove a 2019 Toyota Camry, thanks to our Local Toyota Dealers. It had a moonroof, which Emaline and I were equally excited about. I was a little skeptical at first... not sure how we would fit everything in the car, but we did it, and we did it comfortably! Also, this car has Toyota’s Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system which was incredible. I had never driven a car that had this feature! It would sense if a car was in front of us and automatically slow down the speed of the car when cruising.
TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SIMPLE FAMILY GETAWAY
1-PACK LIGHT. Use packing cubes to pack outfits for the kids. Put everything in there-socks, undies, the entire outfit. This makes it so easy to grab a “look” and if your child is old enough, they can dress themselves which they think is super fun! Only pack what you need. Count your days and outfits and pack exactly for that. Bring easy food and snacks. Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to cook big meals.
2-TAKE IT ALL IN. Every time we were driving and we saw something beautiful, we would stop and take it in. The drive from Atlanta to Highlands was gorgeous. And if your kid has an unfortunate diaper situation in the car, strip them down and don’t let it ruin the view. Speaking from experience here, ha!
3-UNPLUG. Put the phone down, but don’t forget to capture memories. This is something I struggle with sometimes because I absolutely love looking back at pictures and videos of my kids and special times with friends and family. What I normally do is use my phone as strictly a camera, and don’t check email, social media, or texts. Sometimes, I even delete the apps that connect me to the internet world because it can be so hard to turn everything off.
4-TURN THE MUSIC UP. When’s the last time you jammed in the car since having kids?! Sure, the actual music choice may be a little different now... but this is one of our favorite things to do. Wes is really good at singing Frozen now. Ha! And when the children are napping or content... take that opportunity to listen to your favorite music together. Wes and I really connect with music and jamming in the car with him is one of my favorite things to do.
5-EXPLORE. Go into town and see what it’s all about. We went to downtown Highlands and walked around a lot. It is such a cute little town with tons of restaurants and shops. On day 1, we stopped into The Pizza Place of Highlands and it was SO GOOD and so affordable! Afterward, we got ice cream. On day 2, we got the best coffee from Mountain Fresh and walked around the town!
6-HAVE A PICNIC. We grabbed some yummy prepared foods and treats from Mountain Fresh! We took our picnic lunch to a waterfall (Dry Falls) we found. It was so fun and different! Such a cool experience.
7-DRIVE AROUND. You never know what you’re going to stumble upon... like this Carnival we found close by!
8-LIVE IT UP. Find the joy in all of the moments. I know it’s hard to do with kids sometimes. Traveling is stressful with them in tow. But at least they’re having a tantrum in a beautiful mountain valley instead of in your messy house, right?! ;)
See a highlight reel of our trip here:
All in all, we highly recommend visiting Highlands, NC if you want a quick trip away. There are so many things to do and it really didn’t take much planning. Everything is pretty close by and easy to get to. You can opt to stay in the downtown area which is within walking distance to all of the shops, or you can rent a charming house that is only about 10 minutes away from town. Both are great options! As far as the Toyota Camry goes, I was seriously so impressed. I didn’t want to give it back to the dealership. We had plenty of room and we both loved the way it drives.
Thank you Southeast Toyota for sponsoring this trip. We kept it simple AND had the time of our lives. Mission accomplished. See more on Instagram!
Photography & Videography by Naomi Hopkins.