Tag Archives: Vacation

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

Tokyo temples, treats and trains

27 Dec

The third and final country on our recent trip…Japan

I finally made it to Japan! This place has been on my bucket list for awhile. Although the item that is on my bucket list has not been crossed off. I’d love to make it here for the cherry blossom festival. Seeing all those pink trees raining pink petals would be a dream come true. But for now, I saw the misty temples near Tokyo and ate many great treats.

This time around we only had three days in Japan. It’s a good think they have some speedy trains. The first thing on our list was to see our friends. Next, we were told we had to see the scramble and Harajuku Street in Tokyo. We knew we had to eat some sushi, ramen and pocky. All those treats that Japan is known for, and some we just found out about like rice waffles and Kippy’s coconut ice cream.

We stumbled upon the cutest place to get sushi in Tokyo. It was small and non-smoking. They guys were making the sushi right in front of us and there was only about 20 people that could fit in the restaurant at one time. It was fantastic! I only wish I could give you directions to get back here. I just know it’s on one of the streets headed away from the scramble.

Sushi Line

We also got to see some really cool temples in the mist and rain. It was a very peaceful experience. We even got to ride in the infamous streetcar on the Enoshima railway line. We wandered the cute streets in Kamakura and Enoshima. It was so much fun with our friends. I’m so happy we made this part of our trip.

Buddha and Umbrellas

Some words of caution when visiting Japan.

Bring cash to exchange or cards with chips in them. Most places don’t accept cards but when they do, you need a chip in it. This included the ATM machines and the airport. Cash is almost a must if you want to leave the airport. Trains, cabs and buses want you to pay cash.

You aren’t allowed to smoke outside so most places allow smoking inside including restaurants. If you’re lucky you can find some places that are non-smoking.

Taiwan, Asia’s best kept secret

13 Dec

I think Taiwan should be on your bucket list and here’s why:

Hualien Coast

Is that not enough reason to go? I mean, seriously, is this Taiwan’s best kept secret? I had no idea it looked like this. No one ever told me. It’s not one of those popular destinations that people talk about having fantastic turquoise water. Anyone I’ve shown the picture to hasn’t responded like they knew that it existed in Taiwan either. Crazy! I spent a week in Taiwan and all of it was fantastic, not just this one view.

We spent a few days in Tainan City at an apartment. We wandered the streets, ate some delicious food and drank a lot of bubble tea. We tried to find the night markets and were successful on one attempt. There were tons of temples to see and check out. I discovered an amazing coffee shop to work at, Donutes, just up the street from where we were staying. It’s open 24 hours, they have great coffee, amazing cakes and good wifi. What a treat!

After a few days in Tainan City we decided we wanted to explore more of the island and get back to some nature. Once I found some information on the Taroko Gorge I was intent on checking out the east side. I love nature, hiking and visiting waterfalls. We booked a train to Hualien.

Once we were in Hualien we rented a scooter and high tailed it to the gorge. We spent a few hours driving up to the top and checking out all the viewpoints. We hiked a bit and took a ton of photos. The clouds were amazing as they wrapped around the mountains. Like Oregon, we also found a ton of waterfalls coming down the mountains. The clouds were getting lower and darker and it looked like we could get some rain. We started on our way back home. We didn’t make it very far before the downpour started. We were drenched and we had miles to go. It finally let up and we started drying out. However that didn’t last long before another downpour started that was worse than the first. I now understand why it’s so green on that side of the island.

We stayed the night at this amazing hostel. One of the nicest I have ever stayed in. I’d highly recommend Wow Hostel. They aren’t just in Hualien either.

Wow Hostel

Before we headed out of the area we drove the scooter up the coast and that is when we saw the cliffs with the amazing blue water. It was a wonderful drive and there was only sunshine on our backs.

From Hualien we rode the train up to Taipei and stayed one night in the amazing Éclat Hotel (pictured below, center). We were right on the train and bus lines but we were close enough to walk to the night market, Taipei 101 Tower and Elephant park. We stumbled on a photography course in the exact location that we wanted to take photos. It was a our lucky night to learn some new tips and tricks for night photography! We also found an awesome speakeasy tucked behind a wall in a coffee shop. The manager was even from Portland, OR. Talk about a taste of home with those amazing cocktails.

We really enjoyed our time in Taipei. We also enjoyed taking the high speed rail back to Kaohsiung City. I wish we had high speed rail in the U.S..

If I had more time in the Taipei area I would have loved to get to the Yangmingshan National Park. I would have also loved to travel East and see the sunrise on the coast near the Gold Museum. There’s also some more waterfalls to explore.

TaipeiTowerPanoSM

Bush to Beach Australia

29 Nov

I’ve been a bit silent on this blog lately. I’ve been traveling a lot this fall but now it’s time to get back to writing.

Here’s from my most recent adventures…From Portland to Melbourne

Beach to Bush…

I had prepared myself for the long flight to Australia by going to South Africa earlier in the year. Nothing can be longer than that 19 hour flight I took from Johannesburg to DC.

Australia has been on my list of places to go for awhile but even more so in the last few years since I’ve had two close friends that have been living there. We have been in a mastermind group for close to three years talking almost weekly the entire time. It’s been fabulous. They came to visit me, it was my turn to repay the visit and check out their neck of the woods. Plus, I had some new friends to visit as well!

Melbourne is a city that is a lot like Portland. It has a big food and arts scene. It has a lot of funky shops, cafe’s and bars. The weather is totally unpredictable especially in the spring and fall. You never know what it’s going to be like day to day much less hour by hour. We really enjoyed our time in the city wandering the alleys and visiting our friends but it was also nice to get out and see some nature while we were there.

12 apostles

We spent one day driving out to the coast and taking some fun photos along the way. We also took a long loop drive out on the Great Ocean Road and into the Grampians. I grew up on the water so this was definitely my cup of tea. I love getting out into nature and exploring the beauty that this world has to offer.

Grampians View

We saw a few koalas along the way hanging in the trees. We even saw some that were awake and moving around a bit. We saw a few echidna’s, an emu and a lot of different kinds of birds. We saw a ton of wallabies and kangaroos hopping along in the more wooded areas. We even camped in a field where they would come to graze, box and play. It was so amazing to watch these creatures move about. To Australian’s it’s like see deer in the states. They are commonplace in the wild and kind of a nuisance on the roads. Like deer, they are known to leap out in front of traffic. Lucky for me I didn’t encounter any poisonous snakes or spiders. I heard this is the other problem in Australia, too many things that can kill you.

Kangaroos at Play

It was hard to leave the field of Kangaroos and emu’s but all good things must come to an end. We had a train to catch to Sydney. But first to see our awesome friends again. Old and new friends came together in a great farewell dinner. What a nice send off we had at the train station. It was sad that we only saw them for a brief time but it was good to see them at all.

In Sydney we enjoyed wandering through all the parks and gardens. We wandered the waterfront and the free art museums. We also enjoyed a ride on one of the ferry’s to Manly. I have a ton of pictures from the opera house. I sure love architecture, especially when it’s also a work of art.

If you go to Australia I’d recommend you:

  • See the bush
  • Visit one or several beaches
  • Eat a lot of fish and chips
  • Try the parma and the meat pies
  • Enjoy the free museums

I wish I could have seen more things in Australia but someday we may make it back. I know New Zealand is high on my list so maybe another stop or three in Australia will be on the list as well. Who know’s what’s next?!

But first…let’s talk about our other stops on this month long adventure. Next up: Taiwan, then Japan.

Opera House Reflections

Opera House reflections on the Grand Hyatt where we stayed with points. Two free nights because of travel hacking!

Psst…if you like my photography, I have a shop at www.rouxroamer.com where I sell framed photos, prints and much more!

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

East Coast Adventures

24 Oct

East Coast Road Trip

I had the chance to go to a few new fun cities on the East Coast this summer. I visited New York outside the hustle and bustle of the city. The country out there is quite beautiful. There are so many trees. And then there was the fun part.

I visited Asheville, North Carolina which is a lot like Portland, Oregon. It has a really big food scene and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. They like to do things a little bit different like this shipping container restaurant (pictured below). I love the emphasis on being unique and trying new things. It’s the difference that helps you stand out from the crowd and attract your audience.

Smoky Park in Asheville

I also went to Charlottesville, Virginia. That is such a cool old town. I loved seeing all the old architecture and learning the history. It was also fun to go to the houses of the past presidents in the surrounding area. It’s like walking back in time to another era that I have only read about in books. I can’t believe I’ve never been here but then again it’s a big world out there. So much to see and do!

Charlottesville

Get out there and get inspired.

More blog fun at RouxRoamer.com and @rouxroamer on social media. Cheers!