Tag Archives: planning a trip

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.

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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

Roaming the wild west

27 Oct

I was able to spend a week mostly disconnected from my computer seeing some of the natural beauty that this great country has to offer. I often forget how much is naturally occurring in the world, especially in the United States. It’s no wonder that people want to visit.

My husband and I went to Yellowstone for the very first time. We saw waterfalls and wildlife. We walked and drive around to many of the awesome sights. There are a few that we missed so it’s a good thing that we bought the year pass so we can go back and also to get to more National Parks.

Bison

We also visited the Grand Tetons and drove through all of Wyoming. We didn’t see a moose but we did see a grizzly bear. That was incredibly cool, yet scary. We were within the “not safe” range, yet we still weren’t really close enough to get a good photo. BUT we did live to tell about seeing a grizzly bear. I consider that a big win for our wild west adventure.

It was also my first time in South Dakota, seeing Badlands, the first National Monument Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore, of course! We briefly drove into North Dakota on our way into Montana. It was a real western adventure. I felt like I was on an American safari. The real wild west with bison, bears, longhorn sheep, coyotes and wolves. Natural beauty like this is so refreshing for the mind, body and spirit.

In Montana we stayed at this AMAZING place, The Resort at Paws Up. There was 37,000 acres of land to roam. If that’s not your scene, maybe you like sitting by the campfire making s’mores or having dinner made to order right in from of you by a wonderful chef. Then there’s the butler on stand by for anything you may need or want. You stay in a luxury tent that has all the amenities of a 5-star hotel but you walk out your door to breathtaking nature…what’s not to love!

Paws Up Riverview

The Wonder of Wallowa

16 Aug

Another Oregon wonder…

I recently went to a place in Oregon that I have never been to, the Wallowa Mountains. Woohoo! I can’t believe how many places I am still discovering after all these years of living in Oregon. I travel all the time but there are some places I have been to way more than others, including places in my own backyard. I’d say I have to get out more, but I know that I do that already. Sheesh! There is just so much to see and do in this world and we have so little time to do it.

Get out there!…after you read this of course.

My trip to the Wallowas consisted of three friends driving 6 hours to NE Oregon. We set up camp in the middle of the night as mice were scurrying through the grass and the roar of the river drowning out most other sounds. It was a cold night but we managed to get through it by throwing on some extra layers.

We woke up bright and early to tear down our camp and make our way to the hiking trail. We were hiking the Hurricane Creek Trail. Turns out that river that sounded so fierce the night before was not as big as we expected, it’s a “creek”. It’s so loud because the rocks in the river are granite. The combination of granite rocks and rushing water are a force to be reckoned with. The water doesn’t even move that fast for the noise that the river makes. It’s quite meditative.

We hiked about 8 miles total. We found a nice lunch spot that also worked as our turn around spot.

This trail and these mountains. What a sight!

ElaineHurricaneRidge-9332

From there we headed over to Wallowa Lake to set up camp for the next two nights. This campground is big and quite busy. Not the quiet secluded campsite that we had the night before. There was not any privacy in these sites but that’s ok because we weren’t there for the campsite. We were there for the scenery.

The next morning we hiked a total of 12 miles (6 in and 6 out) into this beautiful, serene lake surrounded by big, majestic mountains and trees. Aneroid Lake is a tarn. A tarn is a lake that is formed where a glacier used to be. (I know because I looked it up, maybe you’ve just learned something new as well.) The water…well just take a look at this: AneroidClearWater

I think I sat and looked at this lake for an hour. I snapped several photos and ate my lunch. I felt so spoiled with the view. But, I didn’t want to keep it all to myself so I’m sharing it with all of you. It was also nice to share it with two other awesome friends.

If you decide to do this hike, don’t stop at the first lake you see. That is not THE lake you want. Obviously. You can see the differences. The above lake is well worth the extra trek. I think you’ll agree.

FalseAneroidLake

The town of Joseph, which is closest to this beautiful mountainous paradise, is pretty cute too. It’s small but has tons of charm. Stop in and check out the galleries and get some world famous chocolate at Arrowhead. You won’t regret it.

Don’t miss Oregon’s other wonders. They are all pretty special.

7 wonders of Oregon

19 Jul

My home state has to be one of the best, if not THE best! We have 7 wonders…and then some!

I was just on a 1,000 mile road trip with a new friend to a new place. We went down to the Alvord Desert in southwestern Oregon. It was incredible, but not on the official Travel Oregon roster for the 7 wonders. But, really you can’t put all of Oregon on the list.

You can read all about the drive and experience on the Alvord Desert and see pictures in my last post.

Oregon’s desert hot springs

After watching the sun rise above the desert we went to relax in the Alvord Hot Springs. There’s a small $5 fee to go in but the views are great. You are sitting in this hot pool overlooking the desert on one side and looking up at Steens Mountain on the other. This is also a place you can camp if you don’t want to rough it without a toilet or fire pit. They also offer a private access road to the desert from the camp and a day use area for hiking.

When we were done soaking up the beauty and warm water we drove around the mountains and up to the top. It’s a rough gravel road but we made it to enjoy the view of the desert from 9,733 feet (the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet, that’s why it’s called high desert).

Alvord from Steens

 

Steens Mountain to Painted Hills

From the mountain we headed North to see the Painted Hills. My friend had never been there and we knew that if we timed it right we could make it by sunset. If we camped near by we could also do sunrise. Two of my favorite times of day. The world is so quiet and the light is just right for photos. Everything glows and looks so beautiful. when taking photos during mid day everything can get so washed out with the harsh light or provides weird shadows, especially on people.

We lucked out when we arrived before sunset to see the moon rising above the gorgeous Painted Hills. No camera tricks here, these hills actually look like this. The light changes slightly, but they are always amazing.

Painted Hills at Sunset

 

Painted Hills to Smith Rock

A short distance from the Painted Hills and pretty much on the drive home, is Smith Rock. Another of Oregon’s official wonders. It’s a great place for camping and hiking but we didn’t get to do either as we were pretty much exhausted from driving and playing for two days in the desert. We were ready get home and shower.

Smith Rock Sisters

 

Mt Hood

On the way home from Smith Rock you get awesome views of Hood and after a short drive (and/or hike) you can have even better views. I just wish it weren’t so warm this year. The snow melt is way ahead of schedule. The plus side is that wildflower season was happening when I was up there. (Photo taken from the PCT trail — a short hike from Timberline Lodge)

Wild Hood

 

Columbia River Gorge

Another of Oregon’s wonders that didn’t make our road trip this time but I go up there quite a lot is the Columbia River Gorge. It’s cool on warm summer days and stays green year round. I love all the shades of green that you can see in the gorge. The waterfalls aren’t half bad either.

Latourelle Falls

 

Oregon Coast

The place where I’ve spent many years of my life, the Oregon Coast. We don’t call it a beach or beaches because it’s not really warm enough year round to hang out and get in the water but it’s still pretty special. It has some of the most picturesque places with all the rocks and trees. The wildflowers are nice too, when you can catch them.

Beach textures

 

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is another FANTASTIC wonder that you must see. The blue color of the lake is unreal. This place really is our #1 wonder! Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

Picture 070

The last official wonder is one that I have never been to but I hope to go soon. I’ll let you know about it when I get there but in case you want to go before me it’s in NE Oregon, the Wallowa’s.

UPDATE: I went to the Wallowas and it’s incredible!

If you like what you see, I sell prints of my photos. I have thousands (some on Flickr, some on my business website)!  You can also follow my daily adventures on Instagram. I post tons of photos from around the world. I’m also pretty active on Twitter.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and sharing my home state’s beauty.

Cheers!

 

Exploring Oregon’s high desert

7 Jul

Last year, I didn’t travel internationally at all. This year I went to Africa. When I’m not traveling internationally I am trying to see more of the United States and my home state of Oregon. There is so much to see and do in Oregon that my wanderlust is often quenched just by driving an hour or two.

Recently, I went to the desert. Yes, it’s not all trees and rain in Oregon. In fact more than half of the state is pretty dry and desert like. But there is actually a desert depending on your technical definition. This was a recent discovery of mine. Once I found out about the Oregon desert, I obsessed about going. I had to find a time in my schedule to go and I preferred to go soon. I found someone that wanted to go with me and we began planning the trip. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well, as life sometimes does. A few days before the trip my friend was canceling due to a family emergency. So I put a last minute call out to a new friend of mine. She is visiting from Australia and loves photography. You know what? She said yes! The next day we set off on our 7.5 hour road trip.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before: if you want something to happen you just have to ask or as Nike would say, Just Do It. Get outside your comfort zone and go for it.

On the road

We didn’t stop much for pictures until we were almost close to our destination. We just couldn’t help it with these colors and the open road. I love contrasting colors of nature and playing with perspective.

High Desert Road

Then, we came around a bend to this sight (below). We just had to stop for another photo of the storm that we were driving into. I thought, hey, what the heck, my car needs a bath. But first, a photo!

On The Road with Zoe

We drove slowly through the rain storm. We couldn’t even see the road, much less the desert we were looking for. Once the clouds parted my car looked like it went through a car wash, so that was a plus. A few more miles and we were close to our destination, yet we couldn’t figure out how to get on the desert. With some help from our new friend Rose, we found the way.

It’s really super cool to drive out on completely flat land in the middle of nowhere. It was even better to see the remains of the storm pass around the other side of the desert, somehow, leaving it as dry and cracked as ever.

Desert Rainbows

I did feel a bit guilty as my car did leave a small “footprint”. I try so hard to be a good steward to the environment and not leave any marks. However, the desert is about 6 miles wide and 11 miles long so I wasn’t going to walk the whole thing. I really wanted to explore and knew that driving on it was allowed. I thought about running the whole thing but in 100 degree heat I didn’t think that was too advisable without a lot of water.

There is a tiny lake that is left on the desert from winter. You shouldn’t drive too close to it or your car will likely get stuck in the mud. You can see in the photo where the wet desert meets the dry desert. To me, it’s a nice yin and yang.

Desert Yin Yang

This was one of the most phenomenal sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was everywhere. All around. Literally something to look at 360 degrees. I did’t know where to look and when. It was absolute perfection.

Where do you camp in the desert?

Anywhere you want, so why not the middle? That was my choice. If this was my once in a lifetime chance to camp in the middle of a playa I was going to take it and you know what, it was totally worth it. The silence is so silent. The only time I’ve ever been in such a silent place was skydiving, the moment after you open the shoot and before you get close to the ground. You could hear a pin drop from a mile away. In the desert that pin was a mosquito. You could hear them flying at you like no place I’ve ever been to. I felt like I had super hearing.

Long Sunrise Shadows

The light in the morning is absolutely incredible as well. The desert literally glows, sunrise was pretty spectacular.

Some recommendations I have if you decide to visit a desert like this one.

Rent a car. My car hit a lot of bumps on the roads and it got extremely dirty. I don’t just mean the outside either. My car was filled with dust inside out. I’m not even sure how to get the dirt out of all the crevices and upholstery. I tried for two hours and there’s still dust. Sigh…

If you plan for night photography, like we did, you should pick a night that’s not close to a full moon. Oops! Oh well. You can’t have everything you want all at once. It was perfect enough as it was. Plus, that meant we actually got some sleep. The only thing to wake you, was the flapping of your tent when the wind picks up. Otherwise, utter peace and quiet. It was absolute bliss.

Next stop hot springs! Then a few of Oregon’s other wonders. Stay tuned for more on the blog…

In the mean time follow my daily adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

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.