Over the years of writing this blog, I’ve come up with a pretty solid routine for writing and documenting my travels. After some trial and error, I’ve found what works best and what I can leave behind. I’ve found my favorite travel writing tools that I can easily throw into my bag and go. It’s really been made into a science to be the most productive and still be able to enjoy the trip I’m on without getting bogged down trying to record it. Through many adventures, here is what has worked best for me:
Notebooks & Pencils: I prefer to write everything longhand first. For some reason, I feel like this is the best way to go through and write down my adventuresof the day, journal-style, without self-editing too much while I go. I’ve gone through quite a few notebooks over the years, and I have to say, there is no better feeling than completely filling up a notebook with my travel stories. Also, I’m a pencil-over-pens girl, always. I just like them.
Camera: I use a combination of my iPhone camera and a D3300 Nikon DSLR camera. If we’re going out for the night, I prefer to leave my big ol’ camera at the hotel so I’m not lugging it around; I’ll just rely on my phone camera for the evening. I like to bring my camera with us for all of the daytime adventures to get the best quality photos. After the photos are taken, I edit them using BeFunky.com, which is a free service, because I can’t bring myself to pay for Lightroom quite yet. I know, I know, eventually I’ll break down and get it.
iPhone Notes: I utilize my iPhone notes to keep a running list of all the stores, restaurants, bars and attractions we visit, as well as what we ordered there or other first impressions. I find this is the easiest and most efficient way to keep track of things, and I’ll go back to these notes when I journal at the end of the day.
Lonely Planet & Online Travel Resources: Of course before I go anywhere, I do some pretty extensive research and make a list of everything I want to see and do. This research helps us streamline our choices when we’re on a trip and ensures that we get to try out everything we want to while we’re there. I make note of operation hours, best times to visit and admission charges to stay on top of things.
Laptop: I used to own a clunky old Dell laptop that I purchased right out of college. I’d never bring this heavy thing anywhere because it only worked when it was plugged in and it was too much to carry. Recently, I upgraded to a Lenovo Yoga, which is very light and thin, and I can’t wait to bring it with on our longer trips to write, research and post from the road.
What are your go-to travel writing tools? What’s your prefered method of documenting your travels?
2016, oh what a year. It had some ups and a lot of downs. That being said, there were a few really great moments that mostly made up for the bad. This year was full of a lot of new destinations and some golden oldies; I got to go on an amazing solo trip and joined my family for a wonderful week in Tennessee. Though so many great things happened, there were a few bouts of hardship that cast an unfortunate shadow. I guess the best we can do is focus on the good things and try to learn something from the bad things.
Part of what made this year so frustrating is that I’ve been with a lot of anxiety in regards to my career, and what I want to do with my life. Real original, I know. This situation has perhaps caused me to overextend my travel plans beyond my budget to get away from the stress, which means my 2017 travel plans will be on a tighter budget. BUT! The good… let’s talk about that.
It was a slow month for travel. I enjoyed a marvelous spa day with one of my favorites at the Mario Tricoci Spa in Chicago and joined my parents for a candlelit hike in Wisconsin.
Another slow travel month due to cancelled plans. I got to interview one of my best friends about her time travelling with a brilliant Chicago band through the American South. And, I started planning my big solo trip to Europe.
April was full of Midwest exploring. First, we went on a fun day trip to Lake Geneva, WI, then we enjoyed an amazing weekend in Grand Rapids, MI. I loved Grand Rapids so much that we are planning another trip there in the Spring.
Despite having no travel plans this month for myself, I did feature some fantastic blogs about Jordan, written by the beautiful and Talented Gracie Barrie. And I, personally, wrote some posts about hotel upgrades, bookstores, and travel lessons I learned from my mom in honor of Mother’s Day.
June was all about Tennessee. Mike and I went with my family to Chattanoogaand then to Gatlinburg, TN to visit our Tennessee family and to enjoy the Smoky Mountains. It was a wonderful, restorative trip and I hope we make a habit of these family vacations.
We kept tradition alive and went on our annual trip to the cabin in Wisconsin for the 4th, which I celebrated with a photo blog. I also wrote about finding unique souvenirs, hiking in the Smoky Mountains, and exploring your own city.
August was all about the Great Outdoors. We hiked in Matthiessen State Park and then camped nearby in Utica, IL. I also crossed an item off of my goal list for the year after going on a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan in Chicago.
September & October & November:
Each of these months were dominated by blogs of all my adventures in both Icelandand Copenhagen. This trip was a huge part of my travel plans for the year and I’m so happy with how it all turned out. We also had a nice weekend at the end of September in Milwaukeeto see one of Mike’s favorite bands: Thrice.
The highlight of last month, besides the holidays with family of course, was being invited to enjoy Galenafor their Luminaria Festival and enjoying a wonderful stay at The Lamberson Guest House there. We had such a relaxing weekend there, which was very much needed.
That does it. Good, Bad, Ugly, it was an interesting year to say the least. Here’s to hoping 2017 brings grand adventures and good vibes all around.
I absolutely love writing this blog. It’s a passion project that I devote a lot of my time to. That being said, it can sometimes be a source of frustration. I work full time at a hotel, so when I am not at my job that pays the bills, I’m usually home working on rebeccawanderlusting.com. This results in a lot of late nights and weekends staring at my computer and scribbling notes in one of my thousands of notebooks (am I the only one who hoards notebooks like they’re an endangered item?). I don’t mind working hard in my free time, because I’m hoping that someday this blog will be my only job. But for now, I’m constantly striving to find a balance between my work work and my creative work. This is especially prevalent this week, as I’ve had to come to work while my some-what broken website waits for me at home. As I am approaching the year anniversary of my blog being a serious project, keeping a balance is more important than ever. So, without further ado, here are my best tips for balancing your passion projects with your full-time job:
Compartmentalize: Don’t let your job stress seep into your blog time and vice-versa. I won’t lie, there have been a few times when I’ve done something blog related at work, but it’s always rushed and never productive. It might seem like a good idea. but the quality of your creative work will be better when you’re not rushing to hide it any time your boss walks by. Keep each thing separate and be present in whichever job you’re at.
Keep Notebooks at Your Desk: Not to do full on projects in, but to jot ideas in. If inspiration strikes while you’re at work, make a note so you can come back to it later. Whether it’s a blog idea, to-do list, or photo shoot inspiration, write it down so you don’t forget. I have one notebook that travels with me to and from work that is solely for ideas and things. This keeps everything in one place and makes it easy to return to your good ideas.
Create a Creative Schedule: Make your life a little easier and create a schedule or editorial calendar to keep yourself on track. In fact, take it one step further and work AHEAD. This way you aren’t rushing last minute to finish a project or publish a post. That can be pretty stressful, and you wouldn’t want that stress to bleed into your full-time job and affect that too.
Stick to Your To-Dos: I have such a bad habit of making my to-do list a mile long. This makes it very hard to stay on task, as I’m always stressing about the next thing I have to do. What I’m now learning to do is to keep my to-do list short and sweet, prioritizing things that absolutely need to get done first. Make your tasks realistic and attainable, your future self will thank you.
Have Semi-Working Lunches: Carve out five or ten minutes of your lunch time to check your emails and update your social media accounts if you need to. Don’t use up your whole lunch, but do enough to satiate your need to work on your creative projects. I have thirty minutes for lunch, so I tend to check emails and Instagram in the last ten minutes, after I’ve finished eating.
So far, there have been tearful nights when I just want to give up and go to bed, stressful days where both jobs seem like too much, and creative lulls. BUT, I wouldn’t trade this in for a million boring, relaxing, work-less nights. I love being able to write this blog and I bet you love working on your creative projects too. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here in the first place, now would we?
How do you balance your full-time jobs and your creative projects? What do you find works the best?
I don’t always travel by myself, but when I do, I revel in the untainted freedom of it. There is a certain beauty to exploring a new city on your own. It’s not that I don’t love travelling with my friends or with my boyfriend, but there is a special place in my heart for travelling alone. One could argue that seeing a new destination is best when you have someone to share it with, but I feel like sometimes I appreciate it more when I discover new places on my own. It’s so gratifying to successfully navigate an unfamiliar destination without relying on anyone but yourself. I’ve done it well and I’ve done it not so successfully, but there is no doubt that I will keep travelling solo as long as it’s an option. Below are my favorite perks of solo travel:
Being in Control of Your Own Schedule: Your time is 100% your own and you can fill it with whatever you want. There is no need to compromise what you want to accomplish because it’s your trip. If you want to lay on the beach all day and read trashy romance novels, you can do that. If you want to eat at the same restaurant for breakfast lunch and dinner, you can do that too. Your trip, your decisions, whatever makes you happy is what you can and should do.
Meeting Amazing People: It’s always easier to meet new people when you’re by yourself than with a group; maybe because you seem more approachable or maybe because you’re more open to your surroundings when you are alone. Whenever I travel alone, I meet the kindest people who are always ready and willing to help with directions, give restaurant suggestions or chat for a while about the city we’re in, or anything at all.
Never Being Bored: I think my biggest pet peeve about telling people I’ll be travelling alone is when they ask, “Won’t you be bored? What are you even going to do there?” The answer to this annoying question: I’m going to discover a place that is completely new to me, I’m going to try exciting new foods, I’m going to get a feel for the culture and the people. I will be so busy enjoying these new experiences that I won’t even think about boredom. How could anyone be bored on vacation, alone or otherwise?
Gaining Confidence: When I took a solo road trip to Asheville, NC, I was testing a lot of personal limits. I’m not a super comfortable driver, but I made it there without incident AND once there, I drove up and down mountains. MOUNTAINS. This was a very large step outside my comfort zone, however it is kind of necessary to force yourself out of your comfort zone when you travel alone. There won’t be anyone else there to do the uncomfortable things for you. You have to count on yourself for the whole trip, but then again, that’s how you find out what you’re made of.
Never Waiting Around: How many times have you tried to plan a trip, but couldn’t find anyone with the time or funds to go with you? If you travel alone, you only have your own schedule and budgeting to worry about. This makes choosing when and where you’re going a whole lot simpler. There’s also the plus of not having to compromise where you want to go with your would have been travel companions.
Learning a thing or two: Travelling alone is a wonderfully eye opening experience. You’ll learn to be comfortable on your own, and that’s a solid life skill. You will also learn how to consistently budget, the value of a back-up plan, how many pairs of shoes is too many pairs to pack, and, not to mention, how amazingly helpful Google Maps is. If nothing else, you will come back with the knowledge that this is something you can do. You can travel alone, enjoy a new place and enjoy yourself in the process.
Travelling solo is really an amazing and invaluable experience that everyone should try, more than once if possible. Yes, it may change you, but only in the best of ways.
Sometimes, no matter how meticulously you plan, travel plans fall through. Maybe something unavoidable came up, forcing you to cancel, maybe you’ve found that you’re in a little over your head financially and need to dial it back, or maybe you just lost interest in that particular destination. Whatever the case may be, it’s okay to change plans. It happens. Heck, it’s happened twice to me in the past month. I’ve rearranged travel plans to better fit my budget, and I’ve done the opposite and splurged on a trip I will need to save up some more money for. They actually go hand in hand, really.
Back in December, Mike gave me a trip to Toronto for my birthday. Over the past three months, this thoughtful gift turned into a little bit of stress for both of us. First it was because we had to keep changing the date due to work conflicts (my fault), then we couldn’t decide whether we should drive or fly there; these little things kept nagging at us. Plus it was starting to get more and more pricey. It just wasn’t coming together. It felt like a sign that this trip just wasn’t meant to be, so we cancelled it. We still wanted to have a long weekend though, because we both had already taken the days off of work. We needed somewhere closer, cheaper, and with enough points of interest to keep us busy, but not enough to overwhelm our short time there. Enter: Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of Founder’s Brewery, Frederick Meijer Gardens, good food and antique stores galore! You might think, “that is the most random place for a romantic weekend getaway,” but it fit the bill perfectly for us. And to be honest, I’m actually a little more excited with this change because it came together so seamlessly. The fact that it will be a cheaper long weekend is a big plus for me due to my second change of travel plans this month. I’ve scrapped a budget friendly trip for the fall to splurge on a eurotrip to Iceland and Copenhagen (more on that later).
So the moral of this story is, someday, a trip that maybe you had been looking forward to will fall through, but that does not mean an equally great if not better situation might come up. The great thing about travel is anywhere you go is bound to have at least one great attraction, restaurant, book store, or whatever interests you. Every destination has it’s merits.
Has this ever happened to you? How did you overcome cancelling your plans?
My very good friend, Adrienne, is a true creative, a great writer and a music enthusiast. She is the author and creator of the music blog, Nosferatune, which is chock-full of original and inspiring content. Recently, she joined the band Marrow on tour through the American South, mixing her loves of music and travel. I was lucky enough to be able to get the inside scoop on her experiences on the road.
This great adventure all started with another adventure in our home city of Chicago, where Adrienne performed in a burlesque variety show, The Fly Honey Show. A band called Homme was also performing in the show.
RebeccaWanderlusting (RW): How did you come by Homme in the first place?
Adrienne Thomas (AT): “I met them in underwear, singing on stage at the Fly Honey show. I talked with them briefly back stage, I really loved their song, and they were obviously well connected with the creators of the Fly Honey show. I heard about a show of theirs at the Hideout (we all went) and wrote a little piece on it and took some photos. After that I didn’t seem them until I emailed Sima to see if she wanted to wanted to make something in New Orleans. And then this all happened.”
Adrienne and her boyfriend, John, had been planning a trip to New Orleans, where, coincidentally, the band Marrow was playing a show. Let me explain the degrees of separation here: Sima and Macie make up the band Homme, Sima also performs solo and was the opening act for the band Marrow, which Macie is a member of. Adrienne did a photo shoot with Homme in New Orleans and went to the Marrow show there as well. Afterwards, they invited her to join them on tour. They had wanted her to join the tour the next day, but, because there were still three days left in her New Orleans trip, there was a decision to be made.
RW: Initially, was there any hesitation to say yes, let’s go?
AT: “Before I realized that I could actually tell them when I can, I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh am I going to leave John early, do I have to make this decision?’ I thought about it, and thought no, they want me, so I’m going to tell them when I can, and if that works out for them, cool. So that was a little bit of a challenge, organizing that, and finding out where I would meet them in the country, but it worked out! That was probably the only thing, I didn’t want to end my vacation early but I also know that this was a super great opportunity, so I might have, if they said it’s this or nothing. I think it was definitely a lesson in understanding the value of my work, instead of thinking ‘Oh, I really want to go on tour with these people, I’m going to bend over backwards to make it happen and get payed by them’ instead of that, I had to flip it around and be like ‘Adrienne you’re really talented and you have a lot of work under your belt and you should be able to set the grounds for this’. It took me a day to realize that I didn’t need to be at the whim of them, they could be at the whim of me a little.”
With that, a plan was set in motion to meet them in Nashville and join them for the rest of the tour. Adrienne and John finished their New Orleans trip and drove up to Tennessee, taking a day to themselves in Memphis before heading to Nashville. The tour moved from Nashville to Jackson, MS to Houston, Austin, and Dallas, then Wichita, Kansas City and Columbus, MO, before ending in Champaign/Urbana.
RW: How long did you spend in each location and where did you sleep?
AT:“The longest was two days, we spent two days in Austin and Wichita. The shortest was, one time we just stopped for the show, we spent 6 hours at the venue and then continued driving. Most nights we spent one night. We drove all day, got to the venue, did sound check, walked around the city, did the show, went to someone’s house to sleep, woke up and left. We didn’t stay at any hotels, it was all through connections. They arranged it every night staying with someone that someone knew that opened their house for us. Therefore, we met a lot of really nice people.”
One moment of the trip stuck out as memorable to Adrienne, it occurred at one of the many homes that they were welcomed into. This particular home was in Wichita, KS, and they had driven most of the night to get there. They slept most of the day, and awoke for dinner with the family. One room of the house was musically inclined, containing a piano and an organ. Adrienne describes one of her favorite nights of the trip like this: “Macie started playing piano, she’s the best at piano, she’s fantastic, and Liam came in and started playing the organ that was in there, Dorian came in and started playing the guitar and then Sima came in and started singing with Macie. And they all broke out into a David Bowie medley. It was the most special experience. When you think about music… most musicians know how to jam together, they can pick up on what someone is playing and add in their own. That’s just one of the coolest things about music that people can just come together in a second and create a song, a full song, and all add their own aspect to it. They’re not afraid musically, when they sing with each other or when they improvise, they’re not wondering if they sound good. They’re all confident in their sound, which is what made that moment so cool.”
RW: Which venue was your favorite?
AT: “Dallas was really cool because it was so warm out and all of the bars were open, and the music was so loud and it went down all the streets. I went for a walk four blocks away and I could hear them warming up. What a great natural marketing, talk about music leading you to where you want to be. That ended up being a really great show. Dallas was a lot of people that didn’t know them who became fans of them at the end of the show. People were dancing. For a tour that was relatively small scale, as in they didn’t have many fans come out, they mostly got new fans, that was the most rewarding to watch people have a good time and get into it.”
This tied into why she enjoyed the tour as a whole: “It wasn’t an all-star tour, they didn’t have a lot of people coming out, but there was still purpose to the tour. They were gathering a crowd and proving that they could tour together. And my role, as documenting the process, was to help them improve their image as a touring, successful band so they could get better booking agents, better management. That was cool, to learn why they wanted me to document a tour that wasn’t super popular. If I can have that direct of an effect on band’s being well known and respected, then that makes me feel really good.”
RW: What did your job on tour entail?
AT: “There were basically four parts that I filmed for every show. 1. Time lapse videos of load-in and set-up, 2. Film our walk around the city, because there was always a gap between the sound check and the performance, a couple hours. I would film us walking whether we went to get barbeque or ice cream, so I filmed them and we tried to make some fun situations, visually. One time we went past a car dealership with an old school Chevy in it, so they stopped and played house in this car for a minute, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to shoot. 3. Filming during the shows, I wouldn’t film every song, but I would film and make sure I would get enough footage to have a good recap of the show, get enough footage of each person. 4. I would film and record people’s reactions. After the show, I would ask people what they thought and for that I had a tiny task hand recorder. I didn’t have a whole mic set-up, so I tried to get enough audio clips of people saying “Marrow was awesome! This was great!” That definitely got easier as we went along. In the beginning, I didn’t really know what to capture and towards the end, I knew what kind of footage I needed so I didn’t have to film all the time, I wouldn’t film the same thing over and over and over again.”
RW: What were the challenging parts of the tour?
AT: “There’s awkwardness to sift through before I find that comfort zone. That was the same with the tour because I really wanted it to be comfortable for everyone, and I didn’t want to be that person ruining all their moments. They were having a good time, I didn’t want to bombard them with a camera in their face and make them feel like they couldn’t be comfortable. But at the same time, I had to do that enough. I had to not be afraid to do that, and that was a really big challenge. Because I also really wanted them to like me, I really wanted us to be friends. We were travelling together for nine days, so tackling all of those things. 1. I’m afraid to bother them, 2. I’m not getting enough footage, so those two alone kind of clashed. It’s kind of hard to enter a situation like that where everyone is friends and family. They’re all related and all went to high school together so they all know each other very well and have worked on various projects together. So that was intimidating, they were in their element together.”
RW: Do you feel like that situation changed by the end of the trip?
AT: “Yes. I’m definitely more comfortable now around them, and I feel like if I entered that situation with them again, or with another group, now I know what I have to do professionally. I don’t have to get that confused with what I want personally. I’m not going to be afraid to shove a camera in their face. Once I started to get more comfortable in that role, they started being more comfortable around me too. There was a significant warming up that happened about halfway through. It wasn’t the warmest situation, part of that might have been in my head but I’m sure they were like, “who is this girl?” Sima, the tour manager, brought me on, she was leading the whole shebang of filming. But it was really cool to experience the warming up process on their end and on my end because it made the filming better too. My footage got better as the tour went on.”
This tour wasn’t the first time Adrienne mixed music and travel. In fact, music is what most often influences her to travel: “The past two trips that I’ve gone on, I’ve tied music into both of them. In Asheville I recorded an Asheville artist, in New Orleans I recorded Homme. It’s been really cool to make sure that everywhere I travel, I make something, record something. Make it be not just a for-fun vacation. I do have a dream to go to South America and record the music that I find there. I guess to some degree, I kind of just decided that I want to do it in America first, just to make sure that I could do it, and that’s kind of what these travels have been, to make sure that I’m comfortable recording.” When asked what comes first, the music or the destination, she said, “Probably the trip gets planned, because there’s music everywhere. It’s worked out surprisingly easy so far.”
RW: Where is your favorite place you’ve travelled to thus far?
AT: “Amsterdam. Amsterdam taught me that I can move somewhere, conquer a city, as in feel comfortable living there, and learn a whole new genre of music. Amsterdam taught me techno, house, and electronic music that I had no idea about before I moved there. That was really awesome. That kind of faded since I moved away from Amsterdam, but that was a really beautiful example of immersing yourself in a city and having music be a huge part of that. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with Amsterdam, aside from its blissful everything. Biking, freedoms, beauty, bricks, old, old everything… It’s really humbling to be in an old place to realize how new you are as a person.”
Currently, Adrienne works at Revolution Brewery in Logan Square, while still working with musicians, writing and working on her website. When asked if Nosferatune is something she’d like to pursue full time, she said, “Yes. I work at a bar that financially and motivationally supports everything that I do. Every month that I work there is another month that I am working my way up this chain and starting to get paid more for certain things and getting more experience. The fact that I have a job that financially supports my growth as an artist or as a writer or as anything I try to be is a blessing. You can’t just make money right off the bat with this job, you have to learn. I don’t have a business thought process. I’m okay with not having it, I’m going about this in my own way.”
The struggle of knowing when to take a creative passion the next step into a full time career is something we have in common. On this topic, Adrienne has some sage advice: “As soon as I can make honestly, 60-70% of what I’m making right now in freelance work, that’s when I’ll know that it’s ok to jump off and make a little less money for a bit, but let that drive you. If you have a paddle slapping your ass, you’re going to move faster, you’re going to work harder and you’re going to pursue more. It’s definitely a hard call. I think you shouldn’t necessarily look at what other people do in order to decide when you’re ready. You have to really be in touch with what you need and what you’re ready for.”
So what’s next for Adrienne and Nosferatune?
“Video, a video portal that consistently has new videos on it, small or large. New design, something that highlights immediate music sharing, immediate and consistent media sharing versus extended blog posts. I want to make it more like a taste-maker site, than a blogging site. I think less writing, that’s been the problem, because I take a while to write and I think the consistency of my posts is slow. Instead of a feature piece on something, I’d like to have a design or a platform that supports quick sharing so that people can go there and know that they can find a lot of new music at once versus sifting through two new blog posts from the last three weeks. I have the whole design of exactly what I want it to look like and all the functionality tagged in there.”
Personally, I’m just really excited to see what she does and where she goes next! To stay updated on Adrienne’s latest projects, check out her website.
And click here to listen to Homme or Marrow, their music is worth checking out!
By this time tomorrow, I will be stepping off the plane in beautiful Washington, D.C.! I am so excited for this trip I can barely contain myself. The only downfall is that the weather will be only slightly warmer than it is here in Chicago. But! There is a silver lining: packing will be a cinch since it’s all the same clothes that have been in rotation all winter. I will admit that I bought a couple of key items for this trip, but who doesn’t like a new outfit for an upcoming vacation?? I have a tendency to over-pack, and then forget key items. Like the time I forgot a hair brush when I went to Asheville, and instead of buying one like a normal person, I just used my fingers and put my hair up every day. Anyways, this time around I’m trying to be very organized and sticking to the basics. So, without further ado, below is my complete packing list for my four day trip to D.C.:
Toothbrush + tiny toothpaste
Ponds Make-Up Remover Wipes
Shampoo + Conditioner*
*Normally, this wouldn’t be on the list, but since I’ll be staying at a hostel one night, I’d rather be prepared than not.
Clinique Even Better Foundation
Clean Dual Rollerball Perfume
Bare Minerals Blush and Brush
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer
Elf Black Eyeliner
Bliss Eyeshadow Palette
Elizabeth Arden Mascara
NYX, Clinique and Revlon Chubby Sticks Lipstick
(1) Pair of Tights
(6) Pairs of Socks
(2) Long Sleeves
(1) Tank Top
(1) Set of Pajamas
Scarf, Gloves + Hat
Flip Flops (for the shared hostel showers and the hotel pool!)
Black Ankle Boots
In My Tote (Madewell Leather Zip Transport Bag):
Pencils and Sharpener
Book (The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman)
Purse (wallet, lipstick, keys and iPhone)
*Apparently, my Illinois Driver’s License is no longer valid as identification to get on the plane, but passports always work!
I think that should do it! See you tomorrow, D.C.!
What are your packing must-haves? What’s the best packing method?
We made it; it’s almost a new year, full of new opportunities and adventures! This year was pretty amazing in terms of travel! I am by no means a nomad by trade, however, as a part-time traveler, I’m proud of the trips I was able to take in 2015. There were ups and downs, and lessons to be learned, but I’m very happy with the year I had and am excited for next year as well. Here are some of the highlights from 2015:
February: I was lucky enough to be able to take my first trip to China early on in the year. I spent two wonderful weeks exploring Shanghaiand cross-training at the Peninsula Hotel there. Shanghai was full of new experiences and foods, and I loved every minute of it. Being able to celebrate Chinese New Year in China is an experience I won’t soon forget.
April: My second big trip of the year was my third visit to New York City. Every time I’m able to go to New York it gets better and better. I’m so happy to have been able to visit Coney Island, walk along the boardwalk and go on the historic Cyclone roller coaster. Seeing The Phantom of the Opera was the cherry on top of an amazing trip.
July: July holds a very special place in my heart because it was the month that I took my very first solo road trip to Asheville, North Carolina. This was an especially big accomplishment for me considering I am not a very comfortable driver. There were so many things to do, and everyone was so kind and willing to give directions or recommendations. I loved hiking in Chimney Rock, sampling the brews from the local breweries, and the independence of it all.
August: August was a big Chicago month – Mike and I had an amazing time at Lollapaloozaat the beginning of the month and then enjoyed a staycation at The Freehand Chicago. Lollapalooza was my first ever music festival and I’m happy to say it’s inspired me to want to go to many more. The Freehand provided a very unique hostel experience and the restaurants there are to die for. Both experiences were so fun and showed us a new side of our home city.
October: We followed the Foo Fighters south on a little road trip to Memphis, Tennessee. We had our ups (Sun Studios and Stax Museum, lots of great barbecue, and live music everywhere) and downs (a perpetually deserted downtown and drunkenly falling off a karaoke stage) with this trip, but ultimately we had a wonderful time in Blues City.
December: This month brought us to San Francisco, California to celebrate my 26th birthday. The city was beautiful and the nature surrounding it even more so. We walked for miles, hiked up mountains, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and ate some amazing food.
So, what’s next?
As I said before, I work full-time and travel whenever I can, as much as possible. It actually works pretty well for me. Because I work in the hospitality industry, the first quarter of the year is always the best time for some vacation time. So right now I have loooong weekends in both January and February that I don’t have any solid plans for, but I do have some ideas. We’ll see what happens (suggestions always welcome!) I have a trip to Toronto, ON set for the beginning of April and a pre-planned but not booked road trip to Gatlinburg, TN sometime in Spring. Due to a work related situation, I’ll be pretty limited on trips in the summertime, so I imagine there will be a lot of weekenders and day trips during that time. I’ve got my eye on New Buffalo, Michigan, the New Glarus brewery in Wisconsin, Galena, IL and perhaps a weekend trip to Milwaukee, WI. The fact that I can’t plan anything big for some months actually has a silver lining though, because I am planning a BIG adventure for September. I am in the very beginning stages of planning, so I’m not quite ready to hash out the details. It’ll be good though, I promise. In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on the adventures as they come!
In closing, I want to leave you with some words of wisdom from Mr. George Bailey. Every year during the holidays, I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my family. While the whole film is quotable and emotional and all around, well, wonderful, one particular exchange stuck with me this year:
GB (played by the very handsome Jimmy Stewart, don’t judge): “There she blows! You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?”
George’s Uncle Billy: “Uh huh, breakfast is served, lunch is served, dinner….”
GB: “No, no, no, no. Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”
Now, in some ways I am inclined to agree with both of these gentleman, but I think George Bailey really has a point here. What’s better than the sound of opportunity and adventures to be had? Isn’t that why we’re all here? Is there a more exciting sound than the sound of exploration and travelling to new lands far from home? I don’t think so. ON that note, here’s wishing everyone an exciting and exploratory 2016 filled with new adventures and bold decisions!
My name is Rebecca, and I am travel enthusiast working my way through the hospitality industry. Seeing people from all walks of life strut through my hotel lobby with weary, travel worn smiles has re-sparked a deep lust for adventure in me. I’ve always loved to travel, but envy is a mighty kick in the ass to get you moving towards the things you want. My infatuation with travel started at a very young age. The first trip I can remember taking was a family road trip to South Carolina to visit my Grandpa. The trip comes back to me in bits and flashes and always in that orangey glow of an old photograph. Throughout my childhood my parents schlepped my sister and I across the country on family vacations each summer. From National Parks to Hawaiian Beaches and much more, they nurtured my love for travel into the monster it currently is. Now I fund my own adventures whenever I can take them, which is about three times a year. I wanted to start to record my travels more, so here we go.