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.

Wilbur Chocolate Co., A Last East Coast Adventure (For Now)

Well, my PA trip has come to an end, sadly. As I sit here in the Cincinnati airport I thought I’d tell all of you of the wondrous factory that is Wilbur chocolates. 

  
Yes, Pennsylvania is obviously known for Hershey’s chocolates, everyone knows that. But have you heard of the lesser known and – dare I say – BETTER tasting chocolates that can be found in Lititz, PA? Mandy took me to the factory/museum today and it was super tiny, but so. dang. delicious. They offer free samples of their “buds,” in both milk and dark chocolates and they were so creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I swear if there had been a chocolate fountain, I’d have swam in it – no hesitation. 
 The factory/museum was made up of only about three rooms but it was definitely enough to transform me into a lifetime fan of Wilbur.

The first room was the gift shop, full of all the chocolate your little mind could ever imagine. 

 The second room was an extension of that but with a closed off area featuring chocolate molds and chocolate sculptures – including a full carousel THAT IS MADE ENTIRELY OF RICE CRISPIES AND CHOCOLATE.

 The third room is where they make the chocolate and again, though small, it looked so fun. Maybe I’ll become a chocolatier next.. Who knows. 

 So there you have it, my last stop on the East Coast before flying back home to the Midwest. I’d say it was a pretty good stop indeed.

On Orange, the Chillest Cafe Experience in Lancaster

Anyone who knows me knows I love food. It’s almost all I ever think about.

What’re we going to eat for lunch?

What time is breakfast?

Can we do brunch too?

I know we just ate but when is dinner?

I’m like a hobbit.. “But what about second breakfast?”

And Orange Street in Lancaster, PA just so happens to house the cutest and yummiest little cafe around. If you happen to be in the area, On Orange is a must. 

 It was small and crowded when Mandy and I walked in but fret not! There’s a basement with wooden booths topped with paisley pillows all around. We waltzed down the stairs and found a cozy little booth in the corner by the fireplace and took a seat.

Immediately I saw the chilaquilies, a Mexican dish of tortilla chips soaked in a spicy chorizo sausage soup, topped with feta, avocado and eggs. I was hesitant, but decided it sounded weirded enough for me and oh my goodness! It was so delicious.. Like I’m sitting here writing this and wanting more. I think I’ve just found my new favorite breakfast go to. And maybe lunch go to. And probably even dinner go to. 

   
Even the service was wonderful and it completely topped off the experience. Our server, Alan, a bearded man-bunned dude covered in plaid was so kind and gave me that little push I needed to venture towards the chilaquilies. Oh, dude’s got dance moves too.. He kept dancing out of the kitchen and making us laugh. He was great and definitely left us with a smile.

If I haven’t convinced you yet of this place’s awesomeness, then I have one last treat to throw at you – literally. The checks come with a cookie on the plate. Free dessert! 

 So, there you have it.. I’ve found you all the perfect cafe experience within Lancaster. Now, go try it out for yourself!

A “Sunny” Day in Philadelphia; Hunting Down Mac & Sweet Dee

Today I decided I’m going to build a treehouse and live in the Pennsylvania forests.

The girls and I spent the day in Philly and the drive was stunning. “I mean, trees!? Everywhere trees!?” (Always Sunny reference, you’re welcome). This place is everything you’d imagine the East Coast in autumn to be. And I know that I keep rambling about East Coast autumn but THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S GORGEOUS. I mean, there are leaves floating across the highway from the treetops and it’s like I’m in a fantasy and I can’t handle it. 

 So yeah, treehouse life.

We did so many things today but our first stop in the city was at the Eastern State Penitentiary, famous as being the world’s first true penitentiary. The entire prison was laid out isolation-style, with inmates being unable to communicate and talk with each other during their sentences. It was incredibly rundown, having been abandoned in 1971. We saw Al Capone’s cell, walked the ruins and took pictures with the gargoyles guarding the gate. Definitely a highlight of my PA time. 

    
   
  
We also saw the Rocky statue. 

 
We walked down what is apparently the oldest street in America, Elfreth’s Alley. It was everything you’d expect to see in 1702, the year it was opened.

   
We also ate at the famous Geno’s Steaks, supposedly the best cheesesteaks in South Philly. It was the first Philly cheesesteak of my life and it was so delicious.. However, I haven’t eaten something so saturated in grease and fat in such a long time.. I could only eat half before having to throw in the towel.

But anyway.. The most important part of a trip to Philly..

These past few days I’ve been repeatedly tweeting at Mac and Dee from It’s Always Sunny and their restaurant they own together with an old friend on Market Street in Philly telling them I’m going to stalk them (as you all already know). All week I’ve been fantasizing over #thegangmeetsMegan and how they’d love me so much they’d ask me to join the show and my life would be forever changed..

So..

Did I meet Mac and Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny?

Well..

No.

Such a devastating realization that they wouldn’t be at Mac’s Tavern today. I felt like a kid whose lollipop had just been ripped out of its hands. But did it stop me from taking full advantage of the experience? Of course not. I ordered “Mac’s chili,” complete with guacamole and talked up the waiter about what they’re like in real life. He told me they drink just as much in real life as in the show and it’s everything I thought they’d be. Though they didn’t show up to make all my dreams come true, I still loved it. 

    
  

And then I spent the rest of our time in Philly searching out different spots from the show’s credits and places they talk about.

I saw the Christmas light boathouses. 

 I climbed Lemon Hill, the place “where all the cool kids used to go.” 

   
I hung out in Fairmount Park and did not witness any crackheads. 

 I viewed the Schuylkill River, otherwise known as “the depository for all of the unsolved crimes and murders in Philadelphia.” 

   
I went down to the Wawa to “pick [Frank] up a hoagie.” 

 
And I had such a Sunny day in Philadelphia.

York, Lancaster & Gettysburg; Pennsylvania Autumn is Magnificent

Three days into Pennsylvania and I might not ever leave.

Philly, York, Lancaster & Gettysburg are the amazing places I’ve visited thus far and I have to say that Gettysburg took my breath away. The girls and I took the auto tour and drove through everything and it was just mesmerizing. Gettysburg in autumn is stunning and add to it the history of what occurred in that very spot, it’s quieting.

The color of the trees, the stillness of the fields, everything. I loved Gettysburg.

We also ate at markets, explored so many downtown shops and walked to our heart’s content these past two days.

If you’ve never visited this part of the U.S., please indulge in these photos. 

    
    
   

   

Newspaper Features & Adventure Preludes

As of tomorrow I’ll be spending *almost* a week in Pennsylvania traveling with some best friends and will therefore be posting a ton, obviously.. That is of course unless I’m arrested for stalking the Always Sunny cast..

But before all of that happens, I think it’s fitting to post a link to an article I wrote for my city newspaper on my time abroad in Paris that was just published today. Funny how timing sometimes works out perfectly, huh?

Anyway, the piece is a reflection on my feelings toward my time away, how travel changed me and all that gushy nonsense I feel for adventure.. Hope you enjoy!

Friends to Last a Lifetime

Okay, so I have kind of a gushy post for everyone right now.. I’ve said before how I have the workd’s best friends ever and that will never change. Last year, my best girlfriends sent me a care package in Paris from the States to cure my homesickness and tell me how much they missed and loved me. It was absolutely wonderful and uplifting and I couldn’t believe they did something like that for little ole’ me. They’re truly the best.

And now anyone who knows me, knows that I love my birthday. Like love love love it. I typically tend to celebrate my birthday for at least half of October with my various groups of loved ones in my life.. Yes, I’m that girl. It’s not like I shove it in people’s faces, I just love my birthday and love spending it with the people I care about. And this year was wonderful hanging out with my family all weekend – especially with being away from them for it last year while in Paris.

So, remember how I said I have the best of friends? Well, they’re from all around the world and my best friends from Paris just sent me birthday presents from abroad!

   

Seriously, I love these girls so much.. I’m so shocked that they thought to do something like this for me and I couldn’t be happier that God blessed my life with such beautiful souls.

When I say I have the world’s best friends, I truly mean it. 

   

Is it Truly Always Sunny in Philadelphia?; A Highly Anticipated Trip to the East Coast

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about my next grand adventure in New Zealand and how excited I am to be abroad again.. However, between now and then I’ll be taking a couple of smaller trips within the U.S. that I’m also excited about. Aaaaand as of yesterday I am officially booked for some time in Philadelphia with two of my very best friends! 

 They moved to the East Coast and so far away from me and our other friends recently so I’m so happy to be able to visit them for the first time and see what their lives are like away from everyone. We’re planning everything we want to do and to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if I just never came back and decided to stay on the coast with them.. Things here at home are great but I’m getting restless again.

Anyway, something else I’m excited for with this trip is the fact that we’ll be spending some time in Philadelphia. Anyone who knows me knows that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is just about my favorite show of all time.. I can quote every episode beginning to end, have seen every season so many times I can’t even count and constantly talk about it in public. Seriously, this show. Actually, I’m watching it right now as I write this post. But back to the point! I obviously want to hunt down Paddy’s in South Philly and spend an entire day there with my five narcissistic friends but alas, Paddy’s isn’t in Philly and actually doesn’t exist at all (obviously, but when I’m invested in a show as much as this, it’s real and totally exists in my mind in real life). BUT! I did find out that Mac and Dee (who are actually married in real life) are owners of a restaurant called “Mac’s Tavern” in the city and you bet your booty that I’ll be going there to stalk them like Charlie stalks the Waitress. I’ve been dying to visit Philly for a while now (thanks to the show) in the hopes that everyone in Philadelphia is truly a jerkoff like in the show.. Am I a little too invested in this fake reality (another Sunny reference in case you didn’t catch it)? Nah, I think I’m good. 

 I’m spending my whole first day in Philly by myself while Caitie and Mandy work, so literally all day I’ll be on the lookout for Charlie eating a milk steak, Dee telling horrible jokes, Frank eating sausage out of his shirt pocket, Mac filming “Project Badass,” and Dennis pulling the D.E.N.N.I.S System on some poor girl.

I really need to get back to the point though.. I get to see Caitie and Mandy again! It was with these two that I started traveling in college. I’d always wanted to travel, obviously, but never realized how easy it is until I met them. My first trip alone was with them to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day in the city. Throughout college we went to so many different places throughout the U.S., it’s crazy. We always went somewhere crazy for NYE; NYC, Chicago and Vegas.. We had great weekends away and it was with them that I realized how accessible travel truly can be. 

    
   
Us three work so well together. We’re all so spur of the moment spontaneous and have the same idea of fun and exploration that when we get together no one else can have as much fun as us. It’s to them that I can attribute my attitude toward the ease of travel that I have today. I miss these two more than they’ll ever know and I just can’t wait for some time away with them. 

   
Side note: If you happen to hear a story about a woman arrested in Philly for stalking shenanigans or “a b&e (yet another Sunny reference),” fret not.. It was probably just me trying to become a part of the gang.