Monthly Archives: June 2013

Buffalicious.

Buffs are awesome. I’m just gonna put that out there.

They’re literally so useful and they’ve saved my sanity more times than I can count. While in Belize, I stayed in rooms that had thatch roofs. Now, I had heard that there MIGHT be thatch spiders and thatch cockroaches but we probably wouldn’t see any. Wrong.

Every night, I felt like I had to sleep with one eye open because I would stare above me in horror at the palm sized spiders weaving in and out between the cracks in the thatch. The cockroaches would scurry on the wood beams and disappear into the black darkness above me. It was terrifying.

That’s where my buff would come in. I would sleep with it covering my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, everything. I didn’t want any creepy crawlies thinking any of my orifices were a good place to take a rest. No thanks.

I actually own two different buffs. One is from the TV show Survivor that my parents got me when I was about 11 and I had never really had any uses for it until I started traveling. My other one I recently purchased because it’s a little more appropriate and plain-looking. You can get it here. It’s a green pattern but both are exactly the same size, same material, same thickness.

Since I’m leaving in three weeks, I’ve started making packing lists in my head and buffs are definitely at the top of them.

My Study Abroad Adventures

I’m a college student. I love to travel. So naturally, I took advantage of the study abroad programs offered at my college. There’s about 9 to choose from, ranging from places like Costa Rica to Ireland. Every trip has a course tied to it that you take while in country. I’ve been on two and will be going on my third in three weeks time.

The first study abroad trip I went on was to Derry, Ireland. I left in early May of 2012 and spent 15 days in country for the class. I then stayed a week and a half later traveling on my own and then my mom met me for a trip to London and Paris. mommaparis

Let me say this; I LOVED my study abroad experience. Granted, every college is different and every trip within that college is different but I have yet to experience or even hear of a trip that wasn’t amazing.

Ireland was fantastic, a place I’ve always wanted to visit and the group that ended up going was 14 girls. Nuts. We all had serious apprehension before leaving but it was actually one of the better experiences of my life. We grew to be very close, albeit a few cat fights, and actually still keep in very close contact to this day. Two of the girls I went to Ireland with are now some of my best “traveling buddies”.

The way in which the trip was set up was easy to understand. We stayed at a local bed and breakfast, went to class three times a week for four hours a day and then had the rest of our nights free. We had planned “excursions” to places like Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, Belfast and the Titanic Museum, and only one guided tour of the city (thank goodness). 401711_10151133175688135_246478389_n

What was awesome about this planned trips was that we were still able to see things as tourists even though we were there for school. It also allowed gave us more of Ireland for our money.

Speaking of money; in total I spent $2300 for 15 days in Ireland. This included airfare, the program fee, food and souvenirs. The program fee included hotel, entrance fees, the cost of the class and transportation. Not too shabby.

I mean, I’ve never claimed to be a “thrifty traveler” but I like to save money where I can. Yes, I could have traveled throughout Ireland on my own for cheaper but I was gaining credits while abroad. I think that’s awesome.

Ireland was awe-inspiring. The history was rich and the people seemed to have this unabashed pride for their country. The greenness of it all is almost overwhelming and there are times where you’re silent, for there are no words to accurately describe the beauty of this country.

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My next adventure was to Belize. Belize kind of fell in my lap.
Two weeks before I left for Ireland, one of my professors told me about a scholarship they were giving away to go study abroad in Belize. I figured why not and filled out an application. As luck would have it, I won. All expenses paid (minus airfare) to Belize. SWEET.

So, a month and a half after I got back from Ireland, I began the paperwork for Belize and left two weeks later.

Belize was a complete 180 from Ireland. I frequently get asked about which trip I liked better and there is literally no way to compare the two.

caracolllBelize was a different world. Humid and jungle and animals and no air conditioning and true adventure. It was perfect. We arrived in Belize City and ran at about 100 mph for the next 15 days.

We saw Guatemala, we saw Mayan ruins of all kinds, we stayed in local villages, we went spelunking in an ancient Mayan Offering cave, we jumped from cliffs and rode waterfalls.

The class for this trip was Tropical Ecology and instead of sitting in a classroom for a few hours a day we would go into the jungle and learn from locals how different plants interacted with the environment, their medicinal uses, their spiritual properties. All of it. So if you’re a hands on learner, look for a trip like this.bz

I can honestly say, wholeheartedly, these trips changed my life. They opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that the world offers us that we’re sometimes too afraid to take advantage of. We’re in this world that most people know very little about and studying abroad gave me a chance to completely shift my world view. If you’re thinking about going, do it.

I will forever be grateful I went and I will always value the memories that I have from my time studying abroad.

My New Job And New Dream Destination

Say hello to Stephanee, the Travel Representative/Marketing Director.

Fitting, right? 🙂

I very recently started at a travel agency that focuses primarily on international flights and I absolutely love it. Not only is it my perfect environment (I talk about travel all day, very day) but its an environment that encourages travel. A lot of agencies, unfortunately, are tied to their desk and only get to live vicariously through their clients.

As I’ve gotten to know the company more and as I’m working everyday, I’m starting to dream of new places that I want to go to. I get requests from people looking to go anywhere from Tehran, Iran to Bali, Indonesia. It’s thrilling and always keeps you on your toes but it mostly makes me want to go with them. Norway Fjords Waterfall

The new destination that’s on my mind is definitely the Norway Fjords. I’ve been seeing pictures and it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s rocks forcing their way out of the sea and standing proud in all of their glory. There’s waterfalls that fall heavily into the surrounding sea and trees clinging to the edge as though they’re deciding on whether to jump.

I’m hooked.

But, if you’re looking for a place to go and want a good deal, call me!

 

Creating The Perfect Playlist For Your Trip

I like to think of myself as knowledgeable when it comes to different genres of music and truth be told, I’m an absolute music junkie but sometimes when I’m getting ready for a trip and I’m loading my iPod up, I have no idea what to put on there. Country? Too twangy. Rap? Too much. Classical? Too soft.

What I’ve realized is that your playlist almost decides what kind of trip you’re about to embark on and that it can make the getaway that much better if done properly.

Like when I went to Ireland, I had an iPod Shuffleand loaded it up with Of Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons, classic Irish music and some lighter country. It was perfect. Those long drives through the rolling green hills was almost like a movie with the music behind it. Looking back on that trip, I was very contemplative, very in the now, very centered. I recommend “Love, Love, Love” by Of Monsters and Men as well as their song “Lakehouse”. The Civil Wars have a creepy, hauntingly beautiful sound that adds so much character to the sights you’ll visit.

On the same token, while in Belize I took a lot of newer alternative-y, pop-y, rock. Think Imagine Dragons, Kate Herzig, and the like. I also took a lot of beach music with songs from Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney’s later stuff such as “Pirate Flag”. The trip had more of a laid back feel but also felt more upbeat thinking back.

Getting ready for my trip in less than a month I’m racking my brain and scouring Pandora to find some new and interesting songs that really catch my attention. Right now I’m attracted to the Imagine Dragons radio as well as Radical Face radio. The song that’s currently on repeat is Gustavo Santaolalla’s “Motorcycle Diaries”.

I think the playlist is a crucial item in your packing list and I’m always open for ideas on new songs as well as new adventures.

How I Spent $60 For Five Days In Costa Rica

The more that I travel, the more I notice how expensive it can be if you aren’t careful. Fees here, taxes there and that chocolate bar at the airport that was just calling your name. But a quick glance at Groupon and LivingSocial showed me a whole new side to budget travel.

In January, I was perusing Groupon when I noticed the “Getaways” tab. I figured I’d check it out just to see what it was and I was shocked at how steep the discounts were! Trips to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, England, for less than half of the retail price.

Everyone has their little tricks to save big but I kind of stumbled onto this opportunity. I told my friends about a 2 room deal for 4 nights, 5 days in Costa Rica that was being offered for $320 and jumped on the chance. 6 of us ended up going and splitting 2 rooms so we each only paid $60 including taxes.

When I looked at normal prices for our hotel, it was being advertised at $165/night. So, we saved $340. Crazy!

View From Back Porch

I had honestly expected a complete dump of a hotel but was pleasantly surprised at the stunning hotel that we stayed in. Living Social in particular has a personal agent that travels to all of their listed hotels offered (wish I had that guy’s job!) before advertising their deals.

Now I’m checking every week for new deals, I’m hooked.