Tag Archives: comfort zone

Off the tourist path

31 Jan

Check out this podcast interview I just did on Thelma & Louise. I talk about the book and how to travel cheaply. I talk about Cambodia and Taiwan and how I recommend getting off the beaten path to find some hidden gems. It’s short. You can listen to it while going on a walk or doing the dishes.

Thelma & Louise help you connect with travel buddies and plan your perfect trip. I also talk about those things in my book. Here’s an excerpt from Women with Wanderlust, now shipping direct to your Kindle!

Staying with locals in unfamiliar places

What’s a good way to save money on vacation and really immerse yourself as a local? Don’t stay in a hotel in the tourist areas. I know we’ve talked about a lot of options including Airbnb, VRBO, B&B’s, WWOOF, hostels or Couchsurfing. If you want to live like a local, then stay like one. I know it may seem scary to stay in someone else’s space or to stay with someone you don’t know but it can also be an incredible experience. Maybe you’ll cook together or they’ll show you around town. To me it’s worth the risk to save some money and have a richer experience. I love living like a local. I love experiencing the city from my host’s vantage point. You get to see beyond the things in the guidebooks.

Buy the book if you like what you just read…or share it with a friend that you think could use it.

LeaveATrail

Women with Wanderlust

24 Jan

Proven travel strategies for less than the price of a green smoothie.

What’s that all about?! Well I just launched my travel book! All my travel knowledge wrapped up in a nice little book.

I’ve always been a little bit different especially in my travel strategies as you know from reading my blog. While some spend their hard earned money on lattes I’m always saving for my next adventure. With travel hacking I’ve traveled cheaply which has enabled me to go further than I ever dreamed. I would never have been able to take that dream safari last January without my insatiable will and thousands of miles. Over time I’ve honed my travel strategy to rack up the points and maximize my award bookings to travel to more places faster.

Travel makes us better and smarter, it shouldn’t just be the rich that get to do it. Everyone should be able to travel and live the life of their dreams. One of the last things my mother said to me before she passed, was “go, live your dreams, don’t wait.” The future is impossible to predict so it’s important to not wait to fulfill your dreams and goals. If travel is your dream, then figure out how to do it sooner rather than later!

If you haven’t learned everything you need to know about how to travel more or travel outside the U.S. I’d love for you to buy my book and leave me a review on Amazon. Reviews are the best gift you can give me…especially in the first few days after the launch.

If you pre-order now you also get my “20 Tips to Better Photos” guide. Woohoo! Just contact me with your receipt.

Share this with anyone you know that wants to travel more and doesn’t know where to start. I want to start a movement of more #roamingwomen

If not now

As always, you can follow my adventures on Instagram and Twitter @rouxroamer

Read more stories or see photography at rouxroamer.com

The world doesn’t have enough I love you’s

25 Aug

Have you ever wondered what fills you up? Lights you up? What replenishes your cup? Well, I was challenged by Jonathan Fields of the Good Life Project to do just that and I thought I’d share some of it with you in case it helps.

The challenge is to fill each of these buckets: community, vitality and contribution. They just so happen to be three of my core values. Community and vitality are also two of my core desired feelings (from the Desire Map). How do I feel these feelings or do things that fill up these buckets? I wrote a list. If I am ever at a loss I can do something small on this list or something a bit bigger.

  1. Write a list of your closest friends, near and far. When you feel sad or lonely, write to one of them. Pick out a piece of paper or card and write something nice. Then pop it in the mail with a good old fashioned stamp. You’ll feel good and they’ll feel better having received it.
  2. Pick up the phone and call a friend. So often we think we should text, email or instant message them. This isn’t connection. It’s a farce. Social media can fool you about what’s going on in a person’s life because it’s filtered through them and through the channel itself (ever heard of Facebook algorithms…don’t get me started). By picking up the phone you can hear the tone in their voice. You can ask questions and you can listen to the answers. You can laugh or cry together. You can’t do that online. It’s not the same.
  3. Hug someone. They say that hugging someone for 20 seconds is really good for you emotionally and physically. Don’t believe me, here’s some proof.
  4. Tell someone you love them. Bonus points if you can also tell them one reason why you love them. Extra bonus if it’s in person.
  5. Write love notes to yourself or positive affirmations and stick it somewhere that you’ll see it on a daily basis. If you don’t like writing it yourself they sell cards or calendars that you can flip though or look at when you need to feel more awesome. Here’s one I like: The Present Moment: 365 Daily Affirmations
  6. Do something with a friend. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something with someone. You’ll feel better if you listen to them, hug them or even tell them you love them while you are hanging out. There shouldn’t be any more of this stingy “I love you” business. If you love having someone in your life tell them you love them (in the platonic, I’m already married but you are an awesome friend sort of way).
  7. Get out of your head. Meditate and/or listen to some emotional balancing systems. It totally helps to clear out the clutter and try to have some quiet for a few moments every day. I know I feel like a better person when I do this.
  8. Do morning pages. If you have never heard of this check out The Artist’s Way. It teaches you about morning pages. They are pretty much a brain dump that you do every morning. It does help to make you more creative. So can reading The War of Art. Fight the resistance! Create more! Or as another friend of mine says: Make. Make. Make.
  9. Exercise. So often when I’m busy this is the first item that gets cut but it’s so beneficial for my mind and body. To me running is a form of meditation. When I don’t get my exercise in I can be more crabby. I don’t have all those happy brain chemicals that I need.
  10. Get out into nature. Nature helps you feel more grounded. I know that when I’m cranky, if I just go on a hike or go to a park I feel better. I feel more at one with the world. It’s not all woo-woo and it’s different than running though the city as I often do. Being in nature just works. I’m sure there’s a study on it too! I just didn’t look because I know it works for me. Try it.
  11. Treat yourself as a friend. This is a big struggle for me. I give the best advice to friends but am so hard on myself. Gosh darn it, I should be my own best friend. I should be treated that way. So instead of being hard on yourself, ask what you would tell a friend.
  12. Ask yourself what do you need in this very moment. Listen to the response. Your heart should help you answer. There’s some techniques to help you with this if it’s hard for you to hear the answers.
  13. Keep it simple. Sometimes all you have to do is do something simple for someone like pick up something they dropped, hold the door, tell someone thank you, smile, look someone in the eye when they are talking to you, listen when someone talks to you.
  14. Go on a date with yourself. What do you like to do? Go by yourself and enjoy the time alone.
  15. Join a community if you haven’t found one already. I’m a part of the WDS group and they are always ones to fill my bucket.
  16. Play. What is something that you enjoy that you don’t do enough? Or perhaps you can think of those things you used to do as a kid that lit you up. Chances are you’ll probably still enjoy those things today.
  17. Ask someone how you can help them. Just offer, even if they say no, they’ll appreciate it.
  18. Give a compliment. It doesn’t matter who you give it to, a perfect stranger or a friend. Giving compliments can change someone’s outlook on life. Believe me. I wrote blog post on it.
  19. Do something you’ve never done before. Be a kid again. I know I said this already, but it needs repeating (maybe just for me, but maybe for you too).
  20. Travel. Whenever I travel that fills my bucket for a long time. I’m over flowing. I do so many of the above things when I travel, especially when I head out of the country.

 

I think my favorite item on the list (besides travel of course!) is to write a hand written letter to someone that means something to me and tell them something nice. I’m working on doing that at least 20 times before Camp GLP. But first I endeavored to make the cards. I wanted to be more personal. I think this might be a bit of procrastination. But I know it means something when you give something of yourself. Giving your gifts to the world is the best thing you can do. Just remember that you don’t have to be perfect with your gifts. It’s your imperfections that make you, you.

You are not alone, we are all in this together.

YouAreNotAlone-01

I sell prints if you want one. I can change the colors too!

P.S. You’re wonderful. Thanks for reading. You’d be wonderful even if you didn’t read this but you’re here so I thought I’d tell you how much I appreciate you.

 

Three scary things about travel

16 Jun

Here are three things that may scare you about traveling

Hint: they aren’t that bad…

Driving overseas

I’m not sure why so many people seem so shocked when I tell them I have rented and driven a car in Europe and the UAE, heck, even Vegas. I just want to set the record straight that it’s pretty easy. For Europe I just had to get an international drivers permit, which was essentially paying AAA to check out my license and give me a small piece of paper to carry with me. It expired a year or so later.

Driving in these other places is actually better than driving at home, in my opinion. I am not a fan of the slow driving, hesitant, gawking driving that most people do in the states. It drives me crazy to know that we are backed up on the freeway because people are staring at a wreck that is not on our side of the freeway. It’s dangerous and you may cause a wreck because of seeing a wreck. It happens all the time.

In other countries the fast lane is truly the fast lane. If you are in it you had better be going fast, or passing someone. I found it liberating to drive 200 km on the autobahn. I also loved weaving in and out of traffic in the UAE. I guess I’m pretty good at offensive driving. Don’t be scared, just do it. Don’t hesitate, that just gets you into trouble.

CarSheep

 

You wouldn’t get this view just driving the highways…take some back roads.

Staying with locals

What’s a good way to save money on vacation and really immerse yourself as a local? Don’t stay in a hotel in the tourist areas. Look at all your options including AirBnB, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), B&B’s, hostels or CouchSurfing. If you want to live like a local, then stay like one. I know it may seem scary to stay in someone else’s space or to stay with someone you don’t know but it can also be an incredible experience. Maybe you’ll cook together or they’ll show you around town. To me it’s worth the risk to save some money and have a better experience. I love living like the locals. I love experiencing the city in their eyes.

I’ve only ever had one bad experience when CouchSurfing and it wasn’t because I was scared of the host. The host was amazing! He showed us around the city for two days. It was the conditions of his house that made us uncomfortable. I’m a clean person and I like my accommodations to be that as well. This time the place was really a mess, especially the bathroom. I think with a few quick questions maybe you can find out more about their living conditions before you go. Or have a back up plan. That’s the safest way to travel anyway.

 

Theft

I know this one is a scary one for a lot of people but if you live in fear than you never truly live. Well, that’s my philosophy anyway. I usually do the things that scare me because they scare me.

There are things that you can do to prevent theft in other countries like carrying an RFID cut proof bag and dressing like a local. You just want to blend in and not scream ‘I’m a tourist’. Just watch you back and stay out of bad neighborhoods. To me that’s the same advice that you should live by at home. Just do the same thing when you are abroad. Also check out my packing list, it has some good recommendations for safety like the bag I love and copies of all your important documents.

Stay safe and travel often!

Bags

Read more myths about travel.

 

An African path less traveled, through Lesotho

31 Mar

When I think of Africa I think big, really big. It’s a huge continent with so much to see and so much diversity. What’s a good way to see a lot of things? A road trip! So many people would say this is crazy, but I usually do the crazy things that my friends don’t do. That’s just who I am, always have been.

After safari in Kenya and a few days in Zanzibar we flew into Johannesburg for the last leg of the trip. We rented a car and drove down to Cape Town on the Garden Route. But before getting to the Garden Route we detoured to Lesotho, one of two landlocked countries in South Africa. Oh man, was that a great detour. Lesotho is so pretty and not touristy. It’s even hard to find a place to stay outside of a B&B or as they call them, guest houses. The villages are quaint with thatched roofs and nice people. The scenery is incredible with it’s mountains and fields of grass. The city names may be hard to pronounce and the roads curvy but it’s worth the detour. No Visa required, just go!

Road Trip Scenery

A word of caution about the border crossing. We had a bit of trouble because our friend traveling with us had a pretty full passport and the pages that were empty were in the middle. Apparently, not every border believes in stamping all over the place. Lesotho would rather have it orderly and all the blank pages in the back. Or at least this was his excuse for at first rejecting my friends passport. We were able to get a second opinion and he let us in. Whew! Crisis averted and back on track for our detour.

When we arrived at our, out of the way B&B, the view was great as it was perched on the side of a mountain. And it was perfect timing for one of the most incredible sunsets. It was stunning orange on one side with a pink glow the other direction. 360 degrees of stunning, if you ask me. Plus, shortly after sunset there was a lightning storm. I’ve never had the chance to photograph lightning, so I gave it a try. I was able to capture a couple strikes, but it was certainly a challenge. One that I’ll gladly take on again given the chance. So rewarding to do something you’ve never done before even if you weren’t perfect at it. The journey is the fun part.

The food at our B&B was a home cooked vegetarian meal. A bit overpriced but delicious. I would highly recommend knowing the cost of the food before saying yes to a meal at a B&B. But we were famished and tired from the drive. We were ready to settle in for the night with a full tummy.

On the way through South Africa and Lesotho the scenery reminded me of so many places I’ve been including Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Kansas. Wherever you go, you’re never far from home, it becomes a part of you.

After staying the night in Lesotho we drove down to Port Elizabeth to check out the beach and begin the true Garden Route. The drive was long to get there and not the best food* on the road but we made it in time to see the sun setting…again. Found some great comfort food and a comfortable bed to sleep in. The next morning we checked out the beach, had another wonderful meal, coffee with a smiley face on it and made our way along the green, mountainous garden route, partly skimming the sea.

*Like the states, a lot of the food you see on the side of the road or at gas stations is “fast food” or Denny’s style. Not my choice, being the Oregonian that I am I’m used to farm fresh produce that caters to my select-etarian tendencies.

Want to see more of my photos on a daily basis, check out my Instagram feed.

Next on the blog: Garden Route adventures, Cape Town and my travel mishaps.

How to find good travel companions

15 Mar

Do you want to travel but you don’t want to do it by yourself? Or perhaps your spouse doesn’t have the time off and you do? There are so many ways to find good travel buddies. I’ve tried several things that have worked.

How did I get a four continent friend?! I just asked. Sometimes that’s all you have to do. Ask.

It all began…

Years ago, I was single and wanting to travel more. I didn’t really want to do it all alone and some of my friends just didn’t have that much vacation outside of family time. I had just met someone on a volunteer board. I heard she liked to travel so one day I asked her, “Would you want to do a trip together?” Then we started talking more and more. Soon we had planned our first adventure: a european road trip! After that, we toured a few SE Asian countries during two different trips and most recently we met up for a safari in Africa.

Friends on safari

Meet travel buddies while traveling

Not only have I had some amazing trips with friends and family but I’ve also met some really cool people while traveling. Wandering the streets of Gothenburg I was a bit lonely so I went in to the tourist office and overheard another woman asking about the same places I was looking to visit. So, I asked her if she wanted to roam around together. In the Philippines, on a trip with my husband we met two awesome sisters. Traveled to another city, had some great food and shared a hike.

Make new new friends from your home town

Recently in Africa, I met up with an acquaintance from home. I overheard her saying she was going to be in Cape Town the same time I was there and so I thought, I must meet up with her and get to know her. I mean, she does have good tastes in travel destinations, right? Well, we did meet up, on the top of Table Mountain (of all the awesome places!) and we are quickly getting to know one another. We have so much in common, it was meant to be!

Life on the Edge

 

Also, just because you don’t live in the same town doesn’t mean you can’t travel together. You just meet up at your destination. I’ve done this a few times. Works great!

Travel websites

There are also websites out there where you can find travel companions or people to stay with (Couchsurfing for example). You never know who your next travel buddy will be…just get out there and look. Ask around. Make new friends.

I love travel and I love meeting others who share my same passion. By reading this, I’m guessing that’s you too.

If you have any fun stories of meeting new friends on the road, feel free to comment. I love telling travel stories to anyone that will listen, but I also love to hear them as well.

Happy travels, my friends!

New adventures in new shoes

15 Jan

I was supposed to go to Africa in August but the stars didn’t align and I had to put my trip on hold. Emotionally, this was hard to do. I hadn’t been anywhere new in over a year. Financially, it’s free to park your plane ticket for a few months if you used miles to purchase the ticket.

Fast forward. It’s now time to go! 

What am I bringing on my trip, to this new land? A continent I have never stepped foot on? New shoes, of course. They’re lighter and way brighter but My Ahnu’s are the best travel shoes I’ve ever owned. It’s sad to see them go, but new adventures await…

New Merrell shoes

New Merrell shoes

Well traveled Ahnu's

Well traveled Ahnu’s

What else is in my backpack for the trip?

  • Four different plug adapters (South Africa uses one that’s different than anywhere else it seems)
  • One back up battery charger for all electronics
  • One tripod, two memory cards, two lenses and one DSLR
  • Linen pants, light tops
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Snacks! I never leave home without a snack or two in my bag.

Want to follow along on my photo safari? Check out my Instagram feed or follow me on Twitter for 140 character snippets of adventure.

I’ll also post here, once I’m back and had time to write up all the fun I’ve had. Stay tuned for more on Africa! …A bucket list item I can now cross off my list.