The Best Lessons Have Been My Mistakes

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Ireland, italy, love, mexico, musings, outdoors, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

I have been traveling internationally for 8 1/2 years. Mostly by myself. Always on a budget. And with a few struggles along the way. Some have been all my fault. Others I can blame on fellow travelers. All of them are important.

Here are 10 of the best/worst lessons to learn on the road.

  1. Carry a phone-
    A part of me hates this but it has saved my butt more times than I can count. For instance, when you forget to learn out to read bus schedules, you can call a cab.

2. Buy good maps

    I don’t know how many tines having a bad or outdated or confusing map has messed up a day, turned me around, or got me lost. So, investing in a good map is an important way to preemptively save the day.
  • 3. self care!
    • I have become sick 2 out of 3 extended trips. If I had used more hand sanitizer, brought some vitamins, and got more sleep, I would have had an easier time with everything.

    4. Pack Light/Buy light

    • I have always made this mistake on longer trips. I pack too much, and immediately regret it. The other side is buying too much. When my aunt went with me to Europe in 2015 she bought so many souvenirs that we had to mail two large boxes home AND a suitcase. Because of the weight and international shipping fees, she spent almost $800 to mail home about $3,000 worth of merchandise. The moral of the story is that it’s better to buy the few things you REALLY want, leave room in your suitcase to bring it home, and consider purchasing some items when you get home. Pro tip- many companies get GREAT shipping discounts if you buy say $100 of merchandise.
  • 5. Eat Well
    • Don’t eat expensive, eat well. Eat your veggies like mamma told you. Don’t drink too much. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and enjoy delicacies in moderation.

    6. Say no

    • Say no to people that annoy you. Say no to drunk guys in bars. Say no to pushy “tour guides”. Say no to flirtatious Italians. Say no when it seems wrong, sketchy, scary, or if your gut tells you so.

    7. Ask Questions

    • So many mistakes and mishaps could have been prevented for myself and others if I had asked more questions, asked for directions, asked for a better map or bus schedule. See 1 and 2.

    8. Bring a Towel

    • It sounds silly, but if you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide (or seen the movie) you know towels are helpful. Truth is having a good towel on the road is also helpful.

    9. Bring a Sweater

    • Weather conditions can change in most places without warning. The times I have needed a sweater I have been so grateful to have one. When I have forgot one, boy did chattering teeth regret it.

    10. Make sure you are physically ready

    • Travel can be thoroughly miserable if you are not in shape. Being tired from long walks, or just carrying luggage can make the trip a miserable time. See 4 for extra help!

    What have you learned on the road?

    Advertisements

    I’m Your Fall “Basic Witch”

    colorado, Colorado Events, love, musings, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    No shame in being Basic you all! I love the little things that come with fall.

    Seriously, why do we mock the things that make the world a happier place? In a sea of crappy news and unsettling politics I am damn well delving into a sea of things I love, when I can.

    That means enjoying some pumpkin pie spice flavored coffee and fuzzy pajamas. I will take my Girl Scout troop to a corn maze and I will go buy some pumpkins and carve them into some awesome designs. I will wear my black boots with skinny jeans and cute socks and all my scarves. Because these are things that make me smile. These are things that make my little life joy.

    So this season I encourage you all to just love the things that bring you joy. If you love leaves, go roll in some. If you love pumpkin patches, frolic in one. Because, who cares? The reality is that your joy and helping small community farmers will bring happiness to someone else.

    image-947

    One of the reasons that I love this stuff so much is because I grew up in the mountains where fall was such a short amount of time we barely enjoyed it before it was all gone. At 9,500 feet above sea level, the leaves change in September and by October 10th they are gone. There are no pumpkin patches or corn mazes because nothing grows that high. And the journey to such a thing was at least two hours away, a trip my parents could not afford.

    14492594_10154213465894177_5921278938190350399_n

    Yet, with all of these restrictions my mom made the most amazing treats in the fall and winter. Caramels and leaf cookies with brown sugar. Pumpkin pies you wanted to sink into and die because they were so divine. Roasts and potatoes and carrots that were perfectly savory and bone warming after cold days feeding horses and cows. There was always sweet and spicy hot chocolate and apple cider. All of it brings me a smile just thinking about it now.

    So while I dreamed of haunted carriage rides, I had the divine sweets to make up for it. So to honor the fun, and my earliest memories of golden aspens, I delve into the joys of autumn with a happy heart and a love of all things.

    I hope you do too.

    What are your favorite seasons? What do you love to do?

    Throw Back Thursday – Childhood Travel Lessons

    colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, new mexico, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United States, wyoming

    Many people gain a love of travel as children. Sometimes they’re crammed into the beck of a family station wagon, or a small camper, traversing open highways to neighboring states and countries. Others fly away to an annual beach escape, all-inclusive, beach, and drinks.

    My family did things differently. As a product of low-income we did things a little less luxuriously. We crammed into a Dodge Neon, five of us. We slept in rustic cabins on our ranch or in canvas tents at a re-enactment. On occasion a worse than Motel 6 room was in the cards. This meant a shower and how to cram three kids in a twin or double bed, absolutely luxury was a queen. We ate at cheap diners and cheese and crackers as we rolled along plains lands.

    We went through Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota to icons like Devil’s Tower, Jewel Cave, Helena, and De Smet. We saw where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and a Palace made of Corn. And we have many pictures at Mount Rushmore in different outfits, an awkward ages, with relatives that have passed or friends that have moved on.

    Reenactment with my cousin Nathan, aunt Mary and baby sibling McClellan.

    These journeys taught me how important a hot plate and hot water can be. That boiled eggs are always a good snack. That learning to read in the car without motion sickness is vital to surviving 1,000 miles with two younger sisters. That you can survive 30 playthroughs of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. That dogs can wedge themselves anywhere if given enough time. And most importantly, short legs make for an easier car ride.

    All in all these things taught me to be better at travel in the big wide world. Hot plates turned into hostel kitchens. Small cars meant I can live through a long plane ride. Crappy hotel means I can survive…. crappy hotels and most hostels. I know the importance of hitting grocery stores to cut food costs. I know that picking light makes everything easier. I know that audio and physical books are life savers for endless journeys that have no service, wi-if, or charger.

    The frugality of my parents has meant I knew how to save and travel at 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 27. It means I know how to pinch pennies and look for deals, to read and study and to plan my journey, to know the importance of flexibility and patience.

    My cousin Nathan and I at the family ranch in Wyoming.

    While I didn’t see much of the world until an adult, I know these lessons will carry me well into my old age.

    Happy Travels!

    Overcrowded and Overanxious

    colorado, Colorado Events, musings, outdoors, Photography, Travel

    Colorado is having a good time, as far as numbers and statistics go. We have one of the best economies in the nation with low unemployment and booming industries. Like Marijuana, technology, and the subject of this post….tourism.

    Fern Lake Trail RMNP

    adventure of the week, colorado, outdoors, Travel, United States

    I have been trying to enjoy as much of Rocky Mountain National Park this year as possible. I went to visit twice in July hiking the Cub Lake Loop and last week I did the Fern Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    The trail is home to a fantastic variety of river views, wildlife, and some stunning falls. The end of the trail ends at one of the best lakes in the National Park! The area also has the benefit of minimal people if you start early and maybe on a rainy day. This should also improve as the summer months wind down.

    Check out some of my shots from the day:

    IMG_4804

    Fern Lake Trail Falls

    IMG_4822.JPG

    IMG_6996

    Make sure with any of the longer trails in RMNP that you wear good hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and use the bathroom (or latrine) when you have a chance. Also, bring a phone or some other emergency device, tell people where you are going, and bring matches just in case. Most of all, be safe.

    FernLakeTrail

    Dam the Heat, Paddle the Reservoir

    adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Travel, United States

    Colorado has had a hot summer, along with much of the United States. With the heat comes the discomfort of not having great air conditioning at our apartment and many other homes in the area.

    When the days hit the 90s and up to 100, many of us take to the mountains, or the Poudre river and finally, our Horsetooth Reservoir. “Horsetooth” (as the locals call the area) was established in 1949 and was created to stabilize the water system of the region. Since then it has been a great recreational area for locals and visitors.

    This summer a friend of mine encouraged me to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding at the reservoir as a way to have fun and try a new skill. I found a new sport that has proved to be a great way to cool down and have fun.

    I took my stepdaughter on my first times out, and the second time for a chance to really experiment with a SUP (Stand up paddle board). I found my spills into the water a hilarious and amusing way to cool off. Paddling meant a great workout and just enjoyable to take in the scenery and other paddlers. Our favorite is seeing those with dogs on their boards who are having the time of their lives.

    If you want to check out paddle boarding on Horsetooth Reservoir the best area is on the North Shore (Satanka Cove). This area has less people in motorized water crafts (I’ve only ever seen jet skis).

    There are two companies that operate rentals on the shore, and both charge approximately $20/hour. They have life jackets included in the rental price, and two smaller people can comfortably fit on a board. It’s a great experiment in balance and fun. If you want to try something more intense yoga classes are held regularly.

    Comedy Overlook Rentals

    What’s SUP

    For weekends you can sometimes hold a rental to ensure you get your board.

    Parking and access to the reservoir is $7 for the day per vehicle. 

    Most importantly, have fun and Happy Travels!….

    SUP.jpg

    Adventure of the Week – Cub Lake Loop

    colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Travel

    Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my all time favorite things to do in Colorado. A particular favorite place is the hike to Cub Lake.

    This month, I decided to challenge myself and do the entire 7-mile loop up to Cub Lake and back down the mountain by the Arkansas River, known as the “Pools”. It was a beautiful journey through the edge of Moraine Park, up a mountain side and down an exciting cliff face.

    I got to use a GoPro for the first time to document the trip. I am not sure I am ready to invest in my own device but it has been fun experimenting. See my 3 hour journey condensed into 9 minutes below.