Category Archives: How I Travel

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.

What To Pack: Belize Edition

As my trip to Belize draws closer and closer (31 days!) I begin mentally packing. I do this with all of my trips, I begin a month out, mapping and planning what I could ever possibly need and start shopping for random items.

Since I went last year and the itinerary is almost the same,  I have a general idea of what I should be packing.

We’ll land in Belize City and head straight to Orange Walk to see the Lamanai ruins of the north. I’ve never been there so I’m excited to see what it entails. From the pictures I’ve mercilessly googled it looks beautiful.

From Orange Walk we will meander to San Ignacio and stay there for 6 nights. I really love the area of San Ignacio and can’t wait to go back. The time I spent here last year was life changing for me. I stayed with a local family and got slapped in the face with reality of how a majority of our earth makes it day by day and how little they need to be so incredibly happy. I’m envious and I’m striving everyday to be more like them. The “things” in life that we seem to need are so unnecessary.

From San Ignacio we will trek to Hopkins, a small beach community that was closed to tourists until just recently due to the malaria threat (No worries, it’s been decades since their last outbreak). The laid back atmosphere draws me in and the Garifuna people are eclectic and eccentric, just how I like it. 🙂

From Hopkins, our final stop will be Caye Caulker, a small island next to San Pedro.

The Cayes in Belize all have different personalities. San Pedro is the main island and can sometimes be over run by tourists, Ambergris Caye is beautiful but the hotels can be very pricey, leading to a more affluent clientel. Caye Caulker is home to students and budget travelers, just my cup of tea.

Caye Caulker is less than a mile long island lined with small shops and restaurants that give you a glimpse of it’s diverse population and history. The bars are a-plenty and all have a daily happy hour that runs from 4-7pm. I stayed at Tropical Paradise which is on the south end of the island; the rooms are just enough but be sure to ask for air conditioning.

With all that being said, the packing list will need to fit a smaller luggage (I’ll have to carry it from place to place to place) and a carry-on bag. I’m notorious for bringing a backpack as my carry on, it’s versatile and so useful once in country.

My backpack is a California Pak which was around $40. I love it because it’s super useful and there are a TON of pockets.

backpack

My luggage is a standard Samsonite. I like it because it’s literally the perfect size. I’ve taken it with me when I’ve been gone for a month and I’ve taken it with me when I’ve been gone for a short 5 days. Get it here.
samsonite-luggage

My carry-on will include;

  • GoPro HERO3: Black Edition
    with skeleton and waterproof casing
  • My Mac (to upload videos)
  • Money Belt
  • Wallet with Belizian Dollars and USD (both are accepted)
  • Passport with additional copy in seperate pocket
  • Phone (for use as an alarm clock) with charger
  • 1 book (for the couple hours of down time we’ll have)
  • Journal with pen and pencil (the humidity causes the pen to malfunction sometimes)
  • Debit Card
  • Sunglasses, Air Pressure Reducing Earplugs
  • 1 Extra Pair of Clothes
  • Swimsuit

In my checked luggage I will have;

  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 6 tank tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (for night hikes)
  • Buff (So no bugs get in your orifices while sleeping…)
  • 1 sundress
  • 2 hats
  • 12 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks and 6 sports bras
  • Extra Swimsuit (or 2)
  • SUNSCREEN (SPF 45 or above)
  • Ben’s Bug Wipes
  • Hiking Boots, Sneakers, Flip Flops, Water shoes
  • Headlamp, Snorkel Gear, Flashlight
  • Shampoo/Conditioner, Quick-drying Towel, Toiletries
  • Snacks
  • Ziploc Bags (all sizes)

Here is a video of how it all comes together!

Ear Pain on Long Flights? Me too.

I’ve always had terrible ear problems; I’ve had tubes in my ears, too many ear infections to count and I blew my eardrum on a transcontinental flight last summer (no bueno). Needless to say, as much as I truly love flying, I hate my ears on flights.

On my most recent trip to Costa Rica, I was wasting time in the airport and saw a small package that offered relief for built up pressure on long plane rides. I figured I would give it a try and boy howdy am I glad I did.

You put them in your ears 10 minutes before take off and take them out once you’ve reached altitude then you put them back in on the descent and take them out as soon as you land.

I can safely say I had no pain the entire flight. Not only that, but they are noise cancelling so the crying baby two rows behind you who is feeling your pain (literally) is nothing but a soft whisper. Fabulous.

I use Conair EarPlanes and love them.

HIGHLY recommended.

The Truth Or Untruth About Traveling Alone As A Female

Everyone has their own opinion about female solo travelers. The label isn’t necessary, they shouldn’t travel by themselves at all, they play it too safe, they’re awe-inspiring.

Regardless of personal opinions, I want to talk about a conversation I had with my younger sister and mom. We watched an amazingly well done video by a man and his friend who traveled throughout Central and South America in a Jeep. No hotels, limited food and water, they just went.

As we’re watching the video my sister just says, “I wish we could do that as women.” It struck me. Because for all intensive purposes, we could if we wanted to but on the other hand, there’s something daunting and frightening and too risky about it all.

The idea of getting into a car and just driving sounds appealing to me but once you start to really think about the logistics of it all, it becomes hazy. What happens if the car breaks down? I don’t know how to do any sort of car repair. What happens if I’m in the middle of nowhere and can’t find my way back? And the always asked, What if I get kidnapped or stolen or sold into white slavery?

They’re pretty presumptuous questions to ask but do they have a point?

Do women have a bigger target as travelers or are we just putting that on ourselves? Are we allowing ourselves to be encapsulated by this label?

I don’t know the answer, I’m just intrigued by the whole idea of it all. The only way to end this is by saying, if you feel you’re ready for whatever it is you’re preparing for, then you’re ready.