Treppin’ through the Bayou | Traveling for School and Work in Texas and Louisiana

Treppin’ through the Bayou
by Kelli Ellis

Out of the top 10 Most Memorable days in your child’s life, going to college is in the top 3, at least according to my 18 year old High School Senior. First day of Kindergarten, first puppy, and first plane ride all making the list, as well. In the spirit of her family and upbringing, our daughter has wings on her feet.  Traveling to Australia every year twice a year since infancy, she developed a love for global exploration. Like diehard treppers, we packed our bags and grabbed our laptops to begin our tour of colleges, like rockstars, 1.5 days in each city and move on….

Inevitably, I get us to the airport 1.5 hours early. After the check in and security process – we have time on our hands.  This is always a great time to recharge your electronics.  Take a look around and you’ll find most modern airports have charging stations. You never know how long you’ll be sitting on a delayed plane, experience rerouted flights or find yourself in an airport that’s not Trep Friendly…so charge up when you can!

TCU Campus

TCU Campus

A few gossip magazines, water and raw almonds we are on our way to the greatest state in the Union – Texas – Just ask anyone there! With tailwinds strong at our backs, we arrive an hour ahead of time.  Because we make all our bookings ahead of time, our rental car is waiting and we’re are on the road in no time. To keep the stress low and the adventure high, I also email myself directions to each location and label them accordingly. Save time and money, opting out of a rental car GPS and use your smart phone to the fullest. Don’t forget the car charger for your phones and pads!

Tuned into the local country music station put us in the perfect mood, as we found our hotel. There’s something to be said for tried and true hotel chains that maybe cookie-cutter replicas of each other but I LOVE the familiarity no matter where I go, I know exactly what I am going to get – down to the paint color on the walls! Opt for the business friendly hotels that provide free wifi, dining options with outlets everywhere. Add a gym and Starbucks and I’m happy! (Thank you Courtyard by Marriott)

YEEHAW! A tour of TCU and two nights in Fort Worth, my daughter is reminding me that purple used to be her favorite color, as she slips on her cowboy boots…My gut tells me we’ll all be wearing purple!

Our next destination will not be ignored so we jet off to the airport bound for Baton Rouge early the next morning. (Trick for going east on your trips: Be sure to wake up extra early, then after your flight and time change you will be much closer to adjusting to the change. Avoid caffeine late in the day and add a glass of wine – Voila!) LSU, also a purple painted school and town, is Louisiana’s pride and joy. When spoken of by the

Oak Valley Plantation

Oak Valley Plantation

locals, you’d think they were remembering and old, dear relative.  Surrounded by beautiful trees, homes, and water, LSU is a gem.  After a drive around town, my daughters face told me all I needed to know. Her heart was in Ft. Worth and so was mine.  Since we had prepaid for a tank of gas, it was time to explore! TIP: Most car rental companies will offer you the opportunity to prpay for gas at a much lower price than if you returned the car empty.) So we planned lunch at the famed Oak Valley Plantation, about 45 miles from Baton Rouge. A must-see if you have a day in Louisiana. Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi, it’s a stunning sight rich with history. Still producing “white gold”, sugar, it’s a functioning

Working and studying along a river in Ft. Worth, TX

Working and studying along a river in Ft. Worth, TX

plantation and known haunted grounds. With New Orleans only another 45 minutes away, we headed to the French Quarter for a traditional Creole snack on Bourbon Street. Packed streets and party-goer’s everywhere, we walked the winding streets of history and beauty that is the French Quarter, New Orleans. With an early plane ride home in the am, we left “NOLA” towards the North. I like to take note of the drive and highways when it’s bright and sunny out. Are there lights on the highways? How are the roads marked? How easy is it to navigate the on and off ramps? Each state has it’s own quirky way of getting you around town and it’s valuable to take note.  As expected, we drove home in the rain on an unlit highway with no exits for 10+ miles. If I hadn’t taken notice of the odd road systems, it would have been very unnerving as we drove over low and long, long bridges over the swamplands.  The closest I wanted to an alligator were the “bites” I had earlier on the balcony of The Embers Restaurant, St. Peter and Bourbon.

Next morning, we gathered ourselves and flew home. A whirlwind, exciting trip for us both. Bittersweet for me, as my daughter departs for college and yet, so excited for her and her bright future! Next stop, the TCU spirit store to get my purple and white gear and my “TCU Mom” car sticker….wonder if they have laptop covers?!

Final TravelTrep Notes:
Keep chargers in your carry-on luggage so you can quickly boost your bars no matter where you are – airport, restaurant or car

Pre-plan all the things you can control – hotel, rental cars, directions.

If you like to feel-at-home in a new environment, find a favorite Business hotel chain and stick to it – you can count on free wifi, and electronic friendly vinettes.

Pre-pay for gas at the low rates offered by the rental companies.

Take note of road signage, each state has their own colors, alerts, and laws.

Work/Play percentage:
Kelli  60% work, 40% play
Sophia 5% work, 95% play

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