A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

Advertisements

Winter Fun – Colorado Style

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, Environment, family, food, outdoors, Scotland, Travel

Colorado is shockingly mild in the winter months. Sure we have days or weeks of bitter cold or 6 feet of snow every year or two, but for the most of the winter, it’s not bad. This means that we get spoiled with having great days to play outside in the winter. While we can’t do all of the fun that summer usually brings, we have the option to play in the snow without being totally frozen. Of course, this can mean some innovation.

Between Dog Sledding and Ice Castles in late January we visited a family friend’s property. This Scottish-born gentleman has a nice spot of land outside of Breckenridge in a town that barely exists on the map (if a few houses along a dirt road count as a town…they do in Colorado anyway).

The landscape of the property hearkens to the dramatic hillscapes of Northern Scotland and while I talked with the owner and his lovely wife I learned that they chose the spot for that very reason. In fact, the snowy blanket that covered the hills was almost identical to that of what I saw in the area surrounding Glencoe four years ago.

Add to the landscape a homemade bar inside of a shed, as anyScottish transplant would have, and a fire pit, some beers, and a fewsnowmobiles and we had a winter party.

Only around 9,000 feet above sea level the weather was manageable, but chilly with a high humidity. Thus, a fire was built, via gasoline and broken pallets. We made beer slushies with the snow, and sippedcool ciders. The snowmobiles were taken into the hills and onto a small frozenlake, that perched delicately on the edge of the property. Avoiding unsettlingthe ice fishers we ran snowmobile circles on one part of the lake, draggingpeople behind on skis, snowboards, sleds, and a precarious pink flamingo tube meant for a more casual swimming pool life.

While the snowmobiling was fun, as any action sport is, thebest part was meeting new people and talking over a drink. It was great to talkwith friends new and old about their memories and new stories. My husband’sfamily is always full of laughter and love and a good tale or joke. While theydon’t always agree on politics and lifestyles, they always agree to love eachother and have a good time, which is something anyone can get behind.  

Sláinte!

Another Year Older

musings

Oh hey, today is my birthday. Officially, based on the Gregorian calendar I have taken 28 trips around the sun on a little blue planet known as earth.

You would think with all my travel writing I would think more about this feat. Yet, like most humanoids I’m often distracted by TV and new X-files merch.

So today, let’s reflect on some of the awe of our existence. We humanoids inhabit a spectacular planet full of wonders and beauty. A planet that took billions of years of perfect settings to create and sustain life as we know it. And me, right now, I have enjoyed 28 journeys around a major source of our life, the sun.

It’s humbling just to think of the scale of this little globe in comparison to our solar system, let alone our universe. The conclusion: we’re fucking tiny. TINY.

As a kid it hit home the most while I would stand out in the woods at my childhood home. Rural as it was I could see the stars for what felt like forever. While holding a flashlight to feed animals or walk about I would hold up the flashlight and see that it just went on and on, no end. Of course there was an end because of light strength and atmosphere and science. BUT holding the flashlight felt infinite and I felt humbled and small. A grain of sand in the endlessly huge ocean.

So, as I reflect on the general insignificance of my personal existence, I encourage myself and others to think about what does matter in the world. It matters that we are kind and loving to each other. It matters that all people have basic needs met. It matters that we don’t destroy this planet so that future beings have a life of dignity. It matters that we are informed and educated so that we make positive decisions in the world. It matters that we treat all people with respect, no matter their station. It matters that we raise aware and giving children. It matters that we strive toward equality and equity. These things matter along with many others.

On my birthday I ask that we reflect. Reflect on making life better for others. Reflect on being more patient. Reflect on the bountiful things we have versus others and how to tighten that gap. Reflect on supporting those that advocate for all rights. Reflect on what you can do, no matter how small, to help others.

Even a grain is sand matters, and many grains make the beach and the floor and provide shelter and growth for infinite other beings.

Happy Travels!

Ice Ice Baby – Dillon Ice Castle

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, History, outdoors, Photography, Travel

The city of Dillon, Colorado along with a handful of other cities around North America have welcomed the magic and whimsy of #IceCastles the last few years. The company creates elegant magic with their ice castles creating spires, spikes, fountains, slides, and other intriguing icy creations.

With our Dog Sledding trip in late January, it felt naturalto add on an adventure to an ice kingdom! We decided to visit the whimsy atnight where thousands of lights brighten the structure creating a surreallandscape.

1896 Leadville Ice Castle

The castle, much to my surprise, was less of a “brick andmortar” structure of castles in the past, such as the one that used to take up residence in 1896 in Leadville,Colorado.

Yet, through better methods, less work intensive, and moderntechnology the creators of Ice Castles has built a masterpiece of art that resemblesnature versus the palaces of old England. The Dillon castle is made of layersand layers of ice crystals that droop elegantly together to make a spindledfortress. Reminding the viewer of candle wax, the castle is almost haunting inits design, as if some fantasy’s Ice Queen had designed the elements.

Almost gothic, but celebrating natural artistry, the castlesoffer a glimpse into something otherworldly and full of inspiration. Elementsthroughout offer play in the form of slides and selfie spots.  While other details inspire wonder in roomswith fountains and thousands of icicles. Regardless of what you want from thetrip, bundle up, and enjoy yourself!

Travel Gear on a Budget

europe, France, italy, Travel, United Kingdom

Many people say that a good suitcase can change your life. This is undoubtably true. The appendix to that statement is that it doesn’t have to break the bank.

As someone that yearns to be in the road I travel several times a year and spend many weekend away. I need a suitcase that can hold up to planes, trains, and automobiles.

My main suitcases were a gift for graduating from my undergraduate degree. It’s a classic set from Samsonite, and it serves me well. This set details for around $200, but the quality makes it worth every penny.

I have gone through a lot of suitcases over the years. Sometimes bought, sometimes borrowed. Many times they come home from a month abroad with broken sides and ruined wheels. Yet with my adventures with my Samsonites I have found it still comes home as sturdy as when I left. It’s soft sided so I worry less on the smacks of careless baggage handlers and every scuff doesn’t show. It’s one of the best gifts I have ever received!

Yet for small trips I always go for my thrift store found leather duffel which is the perfect size and looks refined compared to most duffels. While it’s not high end, it’s effective and it looks nice for business or professional settings.

Nest in my list are leather bags bought on trips or collected over the years. All of them cost $130 or less and they have all been lifesavers. My laptop bag was an Italian market find that I bargained from $250 to $130 for, and I plan on it lasting me another 30 years. My purses are blends from The Sam, Italian Leather finds and clearance section bargains. All have over the shoulder straps and look nice for many settings. The best part is everything fits in them with room for a book and/or my DSLR. This makes them perfect for a plane or train… or automobile (ok I’ll stop).

For footwear, more times than not I pick my Toms or something equivalent. They’re lightweight and easy to wear for many an occasion. If it’s summer/tropical I throw in the Birkenstock’s or Chacos. If I have a dressy event I bring one pair of heels that match everything (always go black). I love blending lightweight with practical to reduce luggage but also look smart.

Men have it easy with the clothing game, but women need not kill themselves with unrealistic outfits. I always suggest making sure everything matches everything else in your suitcase. Pack less than you originally wanted to, and bring more underwear than you think you’ll need. When buying new items look for cloth that doesn’t wrinkle, and things that fold up small. Layers will be your best friend.

Most importantly, leave room in your budget to pick up stuff along the way that you see as practical for you. This will most likely be a neck pillow or blanket, that can then make the rounds for the next 20 trips!

Happy Travels!

Marie Kondo Your Life

family, food, musings

I struggle with trying to tow the line of writing and sharing, and putting away the laptop to enjoy my life. I think we all do.

I work 40+ hours a week at a desk job. Then I try to commit 5-10 hours a week to my blog. Add housework at 5 hours, errands and groceries at 5 hours, Girl Scouts at another 5, and friends and family and ….. I hit 90 hours pretty quickly. And I like 9 hours of sleep a night. And time to just watch tv and scroll through Facebook.

Oh and let us not forget that I need to workout. That I need to feed my body and soul. Basically things start to slide when I have more obligations.

The things that slide are my personal things, my blog, my workouts, my reading a book. So this website doesn’t get stories shared. My legs don’t get moved.

It’s a frustrating dance.

Oh but the worst culprit is when I go out to get blog content. when I go out to meet with people and friends and to have fun. Then my blog time is fun time that the blog doesn’t get done for a while.

So this is a plea and a statement that I’m spinning my wheels in chaos and that this year I am making a deeper commitment to myself.

I’m committing to my goals and my blog and the gym and to not doing anything when I damn well please.

I’m committing to pumping the brakes to watch Deadpool with my husband and to go to bed at 7 when I want to.

You should too.

Because when you don’t live an actual life. When you are so tied to and tired from commitments you can’t breath. You can’t share an honest or reflective piece. You can’t thrive.

Think of the Marie Kondo trend of getting rid of stuff and apply it to living. Decide what is fulfilling, choose what enhances your joy. Clean houses are great, less stuff is great, but loving your family and your existence is so much better. The truth is that simplifying and organizing needs to stretch beyond your closet and into your life.

Have your kids select only one or two extracurricular activities. No one needs five. Pick one book club and enjoy it. Choose days every week to see friends. Assign jobs to your kids and partner. Don’t try to be Superman/woman/Martha Stewart, because you can’t.

You Can’t. And it’s not fair to think you have to be.

Here’s the truth, the world won’t end if you don’t have a clean house. The world won’t end if your kid isn’t doing something every minute. The world won’t end if your husband has to wash his own socks. And it won’t end if you take an hour each day to do what you want in life. Or don’t, just watch a stupid sitcom. Just live.

Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.

Wish Me Luck!

musings, Travel

Working in the travel industry I have access to a variety of travel education and travel opportunities that the general public doesn’t have. This means I can help others create a lasting and meaningful vacation by putting my knowledge to work.

Today I entered a short video on why I should go with the Australia Tourism Board’s to be the Australia Specialist Ambassador in March and show others the magic of Australia!

The idea is to show others that I can take everyone along to show them the magic of the largest continent. And that there is Nothing Like Australia!

Wish me luck!

365 NEW

musings, Travel

The new year is almost upon us, which is so hard to believe. 2018 has been a crazy year. One part too long and stressful and another part wizzing by in an instant.

2018 meant:

  • a promotion in my job.
  • A train journey in the United States. Increased blogging and hits.
  • My husband changing jobs.
  • Meeting financial goals.
  • Hiking more.
  • Staying at the stunning Brown Palace.
  • Planning trips for the next few years.
  • Learning new strengths…. and weaknesses
  • Meeting workout goals.
  • And countless other moments I can’t recall.

2019 goals are:

  • Continued workout success
  • More self care
  • Hip surgeries (I’ll explain in another post)
  • Hiking more
  • Saving more
  • Job promotions and raises
  • Job FAM trips
  • Better health

I know other things will come down the tracks, but I live to think of each new year as 365 new chances. 365 new opportunities for adventure, growth and joy. 365 NEW…. whatever you want.

So as we face the new year, what do you want to have done? What are your 365 NEW?

Happy Travels!

Make Sure You’ve Got the Docs

adventure of the week, Allergen-free eating on the road, Caribbean, colorado, Colorado Events, europe, Florida, France, Iowa, Ireland, italy, mexico, Nebraska, new mexico, Scotland, Travel, United Kingdom, United States, wyoming

So many times I hear this classic “I didn’t know I needed a Visa”.

Here is the truth, you ALWAYS need a Visa.

“What?” You ask. Because in London they stamped your book and you were free to go as a US citizen. This is totally true, but that stamp, at customs and border, was your visa. No pre-registration and paperwork needed. Just the stamp.

Here is the thing though, sometimes the stamp doesn’t happen. And a big reason is that your passport may not have at least 6 months left on it for you to enter a specific country. Or more depending on where you are headed. In fact, many airlines won’t even let you board the plane if your passport is low on time. Meaning that week in Paris may be thrown away if you’re not prepared. This happens a lot.

Now for countries where you need advance permission, it’s vital to learn who needs what and what is needed. Meaning: countries like China may take longer and need you to buy plane tickets before you travel. Vietnam only takes a few days to process. Some countries only need a form when you land and a $50 fee. Just make sure you find out and find out at least a month or more in advance so you have time to plan.

Where do you find these details? Embassy websites and through the US state department’s website on travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages.html

Don’t forget to also check warnings on places you are traveling to. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/

Even consider registering with the state department in case you go missing. https://step.state.gov/step/

Other needs? Check with a travel agent or specialist that can at least point you in the right direction. Read a travel guide on your preferred country and ask around to others that have been to such locations.

Most of all, plan ahead, and have fun!

Happy Travels!

Trust Those That Love You

family, musings

My title is self-explanatory. Trust. Those that love you, they love you for a reason.

Their love has power. Truth.

Love has power.

Because when someone says you are such a good…. writer, artist, singer…. phlebotomist…. you probably are. In essence they are seeing the magic you have in you, the talent and the work to make something happen. They see it. They are telling you that you should see it too.

This isn’t to say that just because you do one thing right and receive praise that you can’t keep trying. It’s to say, someone sees where this can take you, keep going.

The thing is that far too much of my life has been spent doubting what people tell me. How people encourage me. My insecurities meant that I always felt like a fraud or that others must have been just trying to be nice. I believed this so deeply, especially in college, I figured my good grades weren’t earned and my bad grades were so much more honest. Yet some light deep in me knew that hell yes I did deserve a good grade. Hell yes I did the best I could. So I’ve taken this light and I’ve let it shine, brighter and more fully year after year.

Sometimes I know that I could have, should have, would have done better. But I also know that the not so good stuff helps to eventually create the good. My failures move me into better. My mistakes shine light on the dust in the corners.

My team of friends and family… they help me get to the next stage. They see my potential. They’ll hold my hand while I get there. And I see theirs.

So, dear reader, trust what people praise you for. Trust in their love and support. Trust that they know a thing or two. And listen when they give advise. Life is hard enough, why choose to think everyone hates you or is lying to you?

These people that love you, they share their adoration because they see what you have to offer the world. They support you because you have something to offer. So believe them. Is it such a bad thing to have cheerleaders?

Besides, even if they lie a little, just to keep your feelings safe, maybe just maybe that little lie can light a fire to greatness. Maybe have of success is just believing and trying and trying again?

Just some thoughts…..