First Step Toward the Next Adventure

As my waiting time for New Zealand was winding down, I decided to do something crazy and have my first adventure right here at home in the U.S. in preparation for the big adventure.

I decided to dye my hair pastel purple and pink.

Now, this was a huge deal for me. I’d never even dyed my hair in my life until I was about 21 years old. I mean, granted I totally went for it when I finally did dye my hair and went from my natural brunette to an all over Barbie doll blonde. But still, this purple was going to be a huge adventure in itself. 

 ..but I love it! It’s so bright and fairy-like and perfect for the month I’ll be gone.

There we go, first New Zealand adventure done!

It’s Almost New Zealand Time!

Six months ago I downloaded the app, “Countdown,” and set my countdown for the day I leave for New Zealand to be reunited with my other half. Back then it was almost 200 days until the countdown ended but now here we are, mere days until I take off and I can’t believe it’s finally time!

I’ve been planning this trip since the day I returned home from Paris. It’s taken me half a year, three jobs at once, no social life and some sleepless nights but now that it’s time to go I know that it was all worth it. I’ve worked my booty off so much to be able to save up for this trip and it’ll be so fulfilling to finally step off that plane in Auckland and into the arms of my best friend.  

 Now that it’s finally time, I feel like it’s okay for me to talk about how I got here. Once I decided on New Zealand, I started saving immediately. I figured up my budget – for my flight, for all things in New Zealand and for my bills while I’m gone – and knew that I wouldn’t accept anything less and would somehow make it work so that in six months, I’d have this much saved up for when I left. I got three jobs (most days I worked all three in a day) and saved every penny I made.

I made myself a DIY adventure jar that I put all of my loose change in (it actually worked – I’ve saved up almost $200 through that adventure jar alone) and started hanging out with friends mainly just at home in my apartment. It was certainly a tough last six months. Every time anyone would ask me to go out for the night, my response would always be, “Sorry, I don’t have monies.. Wanna come hang out at my place?” It got old pretty quickly but I didn’t mind, I knew what I was working toward. 

 Now look! I made everything I needed for my budget and I’ve saved up $500 more than the goal I set for myself. I am certainly well off on everything we have planned to do in NZ – AND for all of my bills back here in the U.S. Yeah, I saved up enough for a month long trip to New Zealand in six months – in addition to paying all of my living expenses on time that I already have while living on my own. YOU COULD SAY I’M A LITTLE PROUD OF THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT.

It was tough.. And I’m exhausted after everything.. But I did it.

Travel is everything to me so once I set my mind to something and decide on a new place to go – I make it happen. No questions asked. If you work hard for what you love, you can make it happen, too.

NEW ZEALAND HERE I COME!

How to Beat That Jet Lag Once and For All

Everyone knows that jet lag can be such a bummer. It can start your trip off on the wrong foot and impact it entirely. I know firsthand what it’s like to get off that plane and just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for days.

When I first arrived in Paris to start my au pair adventure, I was exhausted. Those ten hours of flying had caught up to me immediately and I stepped off the plane feeling disgusting and in dire need of a nap.
Little did I know that there are some tips and tricks to defeat that sluggishness that causes all of us to want to scream & pass out.

For instance, instead of letting me sleep and catch up on rest, my French family immediately took me home and gave me a tour of their flat, took me to my own apartment to fully unpack & then shower to get cleaned up before we went out to a late lunch together. They kept me going the whole day after I arrived until the evening so that I could get on a regular sleep schedule again. That’s one of the biggest no no’s of jet lag – to try to immediately sleep it off. Sleep will just make everything worse. I made the mistake of letting my best friend sleep all she wanted when she came to visit me for Christmas abroad. She’d end up sleeping until 3pm every day and going to bed early. Sleep is never the answer! We learned that the hard way.

Aside from how I coped with my jet lag my first day in Paris, there are many other tips and tricks to defeat that seemingly inevitable stream of crankiness from flights and this article from The Huffington Post helped me immensely in preparation for my upcoming NZ trip! I learned so much through what The Huff Post had to say on the subject and now I’m getting even more excited for this loooooong flight!

Click here to learn some new ways to battle jet lag!

What to do When a Stranger Asks You to Bike Throughout Europe with Him

What would you do if a random stranger emailed you saying he’d just read a travel article you wrote for the paper and then told you he wanted to invite you on a 1,000 mile European bike ride and wanted to know if you’d like to get coffee in a couple days to discuss (Phewwww, loooong run on sentence!)?

Well, lemme tell ya what I did – because yes, this happened to me two weeks ago.

I went out for the coffee.

Yeah, the intrigue of such a different possible adventure was so exciting to me that I didn’t hesitate in accepting. In a world so afraid to live, I make sure not to miss out on life.

That being said, it’s not like I didn’t consider the consequences if this had gone poorly and didn’t make sure this was a real man reaching out to me – I did my homework. I’m always safe in my adventurous decisions.

So let’s get on to the story.. A few months back I wrote an article for the local paper about my time abroad as a nanny. This man found it online while visiting my town and apparently became intrigued with the way I choose to live my life. He asked me out to coffee and told me about these bike rides he does every other year and sent me links to his previous excursions that I could look into. I researched and decided it was a real opportunity, so I took it.

When meeting for coffee, this man bought me a latte and we sat down to chat about adventures. He told me how he’s been doing this for over 15 years and how he thinks it’d be right up my alley. He organizes these trips for people to just join him on – he gets nothing out of it other than the company of others for a month while biking throughout parts of Europe.

I’m not sure if this is something that I’ll for sure do but it’s definitely something I’m considering. And the only reason I’m able to consider it right now is because I said yes and took a chance.

So, there you have it.. I miiiiight have found yet another adventure that just so happened to fall in my lap. A perfect opportunity that I might have missed out on if I had been afraid to say yes. In life you have to take chances, put yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to live a vibrant and colorful life. You might look back to regret it if you are.

I’m Back! Just in Time for some New Zealand Updates!

Well, hey there adventurers! I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to post but I’m finally back with many updates for all of you!

First off, it’s almost New Zealand time! I absolutely cannot wait for the adventures lying in wait for me. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be climbing the mountains of Mordor, bungee jumping in Queenstown and whale watching on the ocean – just to name a few things. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough struggle getting ready for this trip to the other side of the world immediately following my move back to the States from Paris but soon these past five months will have been more than worth it.

Now, let me delve into why I’ve been gone for so long. In order to provide myself the funds for this trip, I’ve taken on three (3!!) jobs that I work pretty much every day. I save every penny I make and this past weekend was the first time I’d gone out since moving back and that was only because it was a friend’s birthday. Needless to say, right now I have no social life. But honestly, that’s okay with me because it’s truly hard work getting to travel the way I do so often and right now my whole life centers on exploration.

When I signed a one year lease back here at home, I knew I’d be saving for this huge trip and then another in another six months. I work hard to travel as much and for as long as I do and I love it but I also want to utilize this passion as a career and am currently looking into writing for a travel magazine or blog or such, which is also taking up my time right now.

Basically what I’m saying is that my life has been one heck of a roller coaster ride of work and stress for the past five months and now that it’s almost New Zealand time (finally!), I’m bursting with excitement and anticipation! And this morning I finally had a moment to go out and break in my beautiful new North Face  hiking boots on the trails and I was so insanely happy out in the beautiful snow and nature, surrounded by the chirping of birds and crunch of ice beneath my feet. So naturally, I decided to take a minute to talk with all of you on how things have been going lately. 

 So there you have it – I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long but working three jobs while planning a massive trip is killer – BUT SO WORTH IT.

Next Adventure – To the Adventure Capital of the World

Alright, I think it’s time I addressed my next big trip and gave you guys some details..

Drum roll, please!

My next trip will be.. A month long backpacking trip throughout New Zealand! Words cannot describe the excitement I have for this trip!

How did NZ become my next grand adventure? Easy, my best friend from my time in Paris is from there so that means that not only am I going on one of the grandest adventures of my life but I’m also being reunited with my other half! So, when I say words can’t describe my excitement, I truly mean it.

Not only am I ecstatic at the thought of tackling her with hugs but I’m also ecstatic at all the things we already have planned for our time together; whale watching, bungee jumping, many, many hikes, camping, mountain climbing, Hobitton (!!), thermal springs, the list goes on and on.

New Zealand is known as the adventure capital of the world and I’m so ready for all of the adrenaline junkie shenanigans I’m going to get us into. After a full year in my beautiful city of Paris, I’m thrilled at the thought of this next trip being an outdoorsy one.

And I’m not going to lie, knowing that I’ll get to explore the land of The Lord of the Rings makes me want to cry with happiness. I’ll be like a hobbit exploring the boundaries of Middle Earth.. Looking at you Bilbo and Frodo! Those mountains.. The Shire.. All of it is too much for my eager mind to handle right now!

There you have it, my next grand adventure! And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my trip preparations (reading The Hobbit)!

Back Stateside (For Now)

I’M HOME!

After one year, eight countries and 22 cities, I’m back in America!

It was one crazy ride of a year and I enjoyed every second. So much travel, so many foreigners, so much food. And now I’m back.

After wheeling my oversized monster suitcases through Dublin and the airport and then an exhausting and cramped seven hour plane ride, I’m now sitting in the Chicago airport awaiting my next flight to get me all the way home. Honestly, I can barely keep my eyes open to type this so I’ll keep it short. 

 First thing I did was eat Mexican. Of course. Now I’m sitting typing this. So basically all I’ve done since being back in America is eat Mexican.. Typical. 

 
So yeah, I’m home. Mexican. Sleepy..

Dublin: A Last Stop On a Road of Yearlong Adventures

What does a broke American girl with 24 hours in Dublin do? Drink Guinness. Lots and lots of Guinness. 

 I’m on my last stop of adventures here in Dublin before returning to the US after being gone a year and only had 24 hours here in this beer-drowned city.

To get here was quite a struggle. First, I had to figure out how to get my two 50 lbs (each) suitcases around with me along with a similarly heavy carry-on and large purse. Yes, I traveled from Wales to Dublin with four massive bags all by myself. And I didn’t even cry once! So, that’s cool. But anyway, in order to even get to Dublin I hitched a ride, took a train, rode a ferry and then caught a cab to my hostel. Yes, that’s four different means of transportation with four very large bags that weigh more than I do collectively. Again, I reiterate – I DID NOT CRY ONCE. It was easy once I put all my weight into picking up one case and stacking it on top of the other so that I could wheel them together (my 2nd suitcase is actually a duffle and doesn’t have wheels) – and by easy I mean immensely challenging. I wheeled my two massive cases along together while toting my carry-on strapped across my front and my big purse across my back.. I’m telling you guys, I was a comic relief of travel to anyone who saw me.

But all of this is okay because I got to take a ferry from Wales to Ireland! It was so cool! I love the water and honestly could have sat there at the big windows staring off into the horizon daydreaming about the world for a full day. But I didn’t have a full day on the ferry – nope, I had a full day in Dublin! Literally just one full day. Actually, not even that because I arrived in the afternoon and am heading to the airport this morning.. So, technically more like 20 hours I guess but that’s okay! I made the most of it! While on the ferry, I met a fellow blonde American girl who I instantly connected with. She’s traveling with her dad and wanted some time away from him so we hung out on the ferry and exchanged info so that we could meet up together again later in the day. 

  

Minion voice: “He he, barf bags.”

 
Once finally arriving at my hostel – bags amassed in front of me towering above me – I checked in and left to get some grub. I wandered around the town center for a bit as I always do and then happened into a pub that my cabby had told me he likes and is pretty chill.

I walk in.

I cross the bar.

I look to a table to sit down.

I hear a man call out for me.

I turn and there’s a middle aged man sitting at the bar with an arm stretched out to shake my hand and he’s asking me where I’m from and what I’m doing there. Like seriously guy, I haven’t even looked at the entire pub yet and you’re already bugging me. But turns out he wasn’t really that annoying and he and his buddies were actually pretty cool.

They find out I’m from the US and traveling alone (shh, don’t tell my Mom that I told them that) and they are shocked. They can’t understand that an adventurous and independent woman wants to travel alone and experience the world. But that’s okay – a lot of people don’t understand it and I’ve grown used to it. The guys end up buying me a Guinness and we chat while I scarf down yummy fish and chips all afternoon. What started out as an encounter with an annoying dude in a pub, turned out to be quite the perfect Irish experience with beer and fish and chips. 

 Later my fellow blonde American friend, Robin, and I went out on the town together to Temple Bar. We ate, we drank, we were merry. It was so cool to just walk around and see the nightlife of Dublin. Cobblestones and neon lights take precedent at Temple Bar and there’s really nothing like it. We had ourselves a grand ole’ time. 

   
The only thing I’m bummed about is the fact that I wasn’t able to go to the Guinness factory. I arrived too late yesterday to make it in time and then have to head to the airport too early this morning to go today. But I know I’ll be back one day so it’s not the end of the world..

And now today, after countless adventures and memories over the past year, I’m leaving Europe and returning home.

Liverpool & Chester: A Day of Chasing Down The Beatles & Resting at Central Perk

“You say you want a revolutiooooon..”

I’m still in awe at what I did today.. Spending time walking down Mathew Street – Beatles capital of the world! I went into the iconic Cavern Club and listened to some live music, bought a Beatles’ hits record from the 60s and had the time of my life.

I seriously could live in Liverpool, it was gorgeous. The waterfront was spectacular and I mean, come on.. Who doesn’t want to spend their afternoon listening to Beatles’ hits while walking through town? 

    
    
 I love Liverpool.

Then, I headed to Chester – a city of Roman ruins, which also happens to have a Central Perk replica from Friends. The ruins were gorgeous and enchanting but not surprisingly, I spent almost the entirety of my time in Chester at Central Perk. Seriously this place was amazing. Massive mugs, endless Friends episodes, plush furniture, signature character drinks (I had the Joey Java Jolt) and even a signed Friends script from ’96. I had the best time wasting my night there like the gang did in the show. 

   
   
I really just had a magnificent day today.

Happy happy.