5 Travel Apps You Need On Your Phone

With having a smartphone, traveling can be made so much easier. We no longer have to carry 30 different maps, and rely solely on books to get information about locations we are visiting. I use travel apps on my smartphone nearly every day, especially now that I am in a foreign country. Below I’ve added the (free) travel apps that have helped me out the most.

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FlixBus- I use this app mostly in Europe, but now Flixbus is also (somewhat) newly available in the United States which makes it perfect for so many travelers. FlixBus is a company that has helped make traveling so much more affordable by offering low price bus tickets to the most popular of destinations. Seriously…I’ve gotten tickets for as low as $13.99 to visit a different country. FlixBus has a website, but I find the app so necessary because you can see real time updates of where your bus is, the next time it’s stopping, access to your e-tickets, and lastly the ability to refund/rebook any of your trips!

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Momondo- If you’ve read any of my blog posts like, How I Travel On a Budget then you know I RAVE about this website. Momondo is a program you can use to find the best possible flights for your next destination. Thankfully, they also have an app! I find this so important to have on your phone because you can book your next ticket no matter where you are. My favorite feature of this app is that you can set up flight alerts for certain dates and locations. This is great because it means you never have to miss that “so cheap it’s hard to believe” flight again just because you weren’t checking your email back-to-back.

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GoEuro- This is only applicable for those in or traveling to Europe, but I know this is a common destination so I had to mention it! GoEuro is an app that will allow you to search the place you are going to and will tell you the best prices for flights, buses, and trains for the date you are going to. It also allows you to book either directly in the app, or will do a quick transition over to the site you need to book on.

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Google Maps- This app has saved me more times than I can count. Why do I love this app so much? Because it lets you download OFFLINE maps. This means that when you are in the middle of nowhere, or if you are exploring a different country and don’t have internet access, you can still view the map! All you have to do is pre-download the map for the area you are going to be in when you have wifi and you’re set! This is also a great app because it will allow you to see attractions, restaurants, and cafes that are closest to you.

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The Outbound- This app is so much fun! This app allows people from all over the world to share their adventures. This is a great way to find local adventures, and share yours as well. Basically you log in to the app, and then you can type in your location or what you are looking for whether it be hiking, swimming, climbing, and so many more activities. Most of the guides will give you full details about how to find the spot, and also tell you about local regulations.

 

Why to Start Embracing Being Unapologetic

For the longest time, my life centered so much around others. I was constantly thinking  things like “was it stupid to say that,” “do they think I’m weird,” “what if I say this and they don’t like me?” Even though I felt independent, I was living a life based off of what other people expected and wanted from me. To be real, I just wasn’t being 100% me. My anxiety and depression played a HUGE role in this, although looking back I didn’t even realize at the time that that’s not how most people were living. Then, after moving to Chicago + getting out of a long-term relationship I suddenly had this urge to re-brand myself. You see, the town I grew up in was for lack of better words…garbage. It’s one of those small towns where everyone is into everyone’s business and everyone has an opinion of what other people are doing. The brutal honesty is just that people are so bored with their own lives and the fact that there’s nothing to do, that they worry about other peoples.

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So when I got into my first couple of months in Chicago, I sat myself down and honestly told myself over and over that I was a bad bitch and that I was unstoppable. I’m serious people, if you keep telling yourself positive affirmations will really make you believe them. So eventually, I had built up a ton of confidence which is something I never had before but also didn’t realize I was missing. Suddenly, I was a force of nature. I started talking all the time in class, I started telling people no more often, and I started to see my goals so much more clearly and what I needed to do to attain them. MANIFEST YOUR GOALS GIRL INVEST IN YOURSELF.

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A lot, of the time I see that women are the people that have the biggest issue with allowing themselves to be unapologetic. As women, we are taught to make ourselves smaller and fit into the parts of society that women are “supposed” to fit in. We are supposed to carry ourselves with poise. We are supposed to be dainty, and kind. Gentle and sweet and mannerly and all things nice. When we detest those things, we are seen as three things: inappropriate, slutty, or manly. Welllll, I say SCREW THAT. In my little journey toward confidence and unapologetic-ness I found that the best way to live, is to live in a way where you are the least concerned with what other people think. So if I want to not wear a bra, I’m going to not wear a bra. If I want to say “fuck this bullshit” in my blog post, I’m going to say it. If I want to get political, I’m going to get political because that’s just what I care about. Once you start living a life where you are 100% doing it for you and no one else, you will find you are living a much happier life.

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Hiking Guide: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Over the weekend, I ventured out of Budapest and into Croatia for another weekend getaway. Plitvice Lakes has been on my list since forever, and you’ll understand why soon! To get there, we opted to rent a car because we wanted to be able to work on our own time and not have to worry about missing anything. There are other options though such as a FlixBus, which I am a HUGE lover of! The Plitvice Lakes is truly an unreal sight, with 16 lakes that cascade into beautiful waterfalls separated by travertine dams and green moss.

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We started at entrance 1, we decided on this entrance honestly because it was the closest one to our hostel. Entrance 1 starts at the lower lakes, while entrance 2 starts at the upper lakes. All the trails loop together with buses and ferries so you can really start at either one. The park costs $1 USD an hour for parkings and then $5 to enter if you are a student (this also varies by season so be sure to check the updated prices before you go.) Another great tip is to get there early. We got there at 8:40 which is only about an hour after the park opened and there were already a fair amount of people. It only gets more busy throughout the day so be sure to get a head start so you can beat the crowds! As soon as you walk in the park, you can get a nice little overlook of some of the waterfalls that are on the lower lakes. As you descend downward through some switchbacks, you’ll start to notice really how blue the water is. Soon, you’ll get to the first floating walkway which in my opinion was the coolest thing in the park next to the waterfalls.

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We took a right at the first fork, so we could get a quick glimpse of the large waterfall called Veliki Slap, this thing is seriously massive reaching a height of 78 meters (255 feet.) After that we turned around and headed back up to the fork where the trails started. We opted to do Trail A first, so that we could see all of the sights of the lower lakes. Walking through here is magical, many people compare the park to Eden because of its natural beauty. The lakes are full of vegetation and wildlife, you can see everything from draping green moss, to fish, and lots of ducks! You’ll get really up close & personal with some of the waterfalls so be sure to really take it all in! Trail A is 5.2 KM (3.2 miles) and can take about 2-3 hours depending on your pace and how much you stop. This trail will lead you through all the waterfalls and then end by taking you through a cave. You will climb some stairs to get back to the top.

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After we finished trail A, we really wanted to experience the upper lakes as well so we decided on Trail H which is around 8.9 KM (5.5 miles,) and takes roughly about 4-6 hours (it took us exactly 4.5 hours.) To get to trail H you need to follow the signs from the top of the cave and catch the bus at the rangers station, there are some maps scattered throughout the park but I think it’s best to just download their online map or buy one inside the park. From the bus, follow the signs for trail H. This path is really mostly along the lakes, so you don’t need to worry about being exhausted from elevation or anything because it really is a relatively easy hike. This hike was beyond beautiful, not that I didn’t enjoy the lower lakes but the upper lakes are really just unreal. You see so many waterfalls, and the water color is so crazy you feel like you’d have to be in Thailand or something to see waterfalls that are so blue and so tropical looking. After you finish the hike it will basically lead you to a place where you can jump on a ferry and catch the boat back to Entrance A. Make sure you get on the one that is on the left and headed toward P3!

DSC_03443 As far as gear goes, you’ll be just fine in regular running shoes as the trails are extremely maintained and you really aren’t doing anything strenuous. A couple things to remember though: always bring enough water for you and whoever you are hiking with, this hike is also really long so consider packing in your own lunch and snacks as the places inside the park can be a bit over priced, and lastly DO NOT SWIM IN THE LAKES. I cannot stress this enough!! There is absolute zero swimming allowed in any part of the Plitvice Lakes. This disturbs the natural eco-system and especially the bacteria that makes the water so beautiful. All buses and boats are free, however you can only take the one from entrance 2 to entrance 1 ONE time. For you fashion people, I linked my outfit here and here. Happy hiking, always be sure to pack out what you bring in to keep our planet clean!

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5 Ways You Can Actually Save and Make Money

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I try to travel as often as I can, but I’m also a full time student so I don’t really have the skills or the time to have a like real life “career,” that will give me a salary to easily support all my travel ventures. That being said, I often have to get creative with how I save and make money if I want to keep up with the lifestyle I’ve been living. There are honestly so many small things you can do in your every day life to make money, especially if you are living in a more urban setting.

Stop spending all your money on food 

I get it, I’m a foodie. I’m always thinking about my next meal and how soon I’ll get to eat it. The thing is though, going out to eat is EXPENSIVE. Even if you try to justify it by saying “well it’s usually only just $5-$6,” if you are doing that every single day you are basically spending more than $35 a week on food that’s probably not even that high in quality. If you multiply that by four, it ends up being $140 which is basically over half a plane ticket. I know for me especially, it can be really challenging to not go out to eat. I live in a dorm and my kitchen is limited. However, I still find ways to make it work! For example, you can get a package of pasta and 2 or 3 different sauces for around $7-$8. That can literally last you so long, and it also will save you so much time when you are getting your meals together if you go ahead and make the noodles in advance so all you have to do is add sauce. Another really inexpensive meal to have is sandwiches, they are literally so good and have so much variety. I get that it can be annoying to eat the same stuff all the time, but honestly the reward is much higher than the sacrifice especially when you are saving money so you can do what you want to do

Utilize money making apps

This one is best for people in urban area (sorry rural people) but this is a great way to make money! So you have a couple of great options for things you can do, and all of them allow you to work 100% on your own time. Let’s dive in!

  • WAG- Dog walking app, and super easy to get approved for! Basically you send in your availability, and once you are approved they will start sending you walks to do in your area. You 100% have the ability to turn these down and you won’t be penalized
  • ThredUp- This is perfect for those of you who don’t live in a big city. Thread up is basically a consignment app that will send you a bag with a prepaid shipping label (no cost to you) and then you fill the bag with your gently used clothes and send it in. They will look through your clothes and either recycle the ones they don’t want or they will send them back to you at your request. This isn’t the best app if you need money on the spot because it does take a bit to get money since you have to wait for your clothes to sell
  • Postmates- The app we know and love, but you can also be a delivery driver for them as well. This is a great way to get some extra cash, and like WAG it allows you to work 100% on your own time and decline jobs that you find to be too far or just aren’t interested in
  • Field Agent- I love this app! This is a great way to make money by doing what you are already doing every day. You earn money from this app by completing tasks such as going to Walgreens and taking a picture of a product and verifying it’s price. You can make around $3-$16 per task
  • ShopKick- Another great app that is also perfect for people in not as urban places, and like field agent you get paid to do everything you are already doing. The way it works is you get “kicks” for literally walking into stores, scanning items, and taking pictures of your purchases. This app works in places like Best Buy, Target, Ulta, Walmart, and so many more

Give up a couple of those weekends out 

This is especially a must for those 20-something age readers. People my age constantly ask me “how do you travel so much?” “how do you have money to do all of this?” but they are also almost always the people who I see going out to parties or the bars every Friday and Saturday night. It’s the little purchases like the $2 shots or the $3 beer that really add up and end up doing the most damage to your bank account. I know that FOMO is so real, but you know what’ also real? Being broke and not being able to do anything

Sell your old electronics and textbooks

You know that old iphone that’s been in your drawer for the past 4 years…well it’s time to send that baby off for some cash. Websites like Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon will allow you to sell your old electronics and make some really good money depending on the condition of the items and how old they are. Companies like Gazelle will also buy your phone off of you, since there is a huge market for refurbishing phones. BookScouter, Decluttr, and TextbookRush are also all great websites that will buy your old textbooks from you

Lead walking tours on Viator

This last one is really only for my city people out there, but if you are a people person and know your city really well this is the perfect job for you. You can start out by just doing free tours, and at the end if the tour was good naturally people are going to tip you. As you build a reputation you’ll be able to start asking for money for the tours, it’s also a great way to network and meet new people

Thanks for joining in for this quick little read, if you all have any suggestions or ideas about how to make/save money drop them in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out my post on how I travel on a budget, linked here

 

Weekend Guide to Prague

Weekend Guide To Prague

For my first weekend trip in Europe, I thought there would be no better place to visit than Prague. It’s beautiful, close to Hungary (where I am studying abroad), and extremely affordable. The Czech people have done an outstanding job of preserving the buildings as well as their culture which is what I really loved the most. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and also has the largest castle in all of Europe. My friends and I arrived in Prague via FlixBus on Thursday night, and then took an uber to our hostel. Below I’ll be talking about where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.

Where to stay

For our trip, we wanted to get the full experience of traveling Europe as a student so we stayed in a hostel. After doing plenty of research we decided on Hostel Santini,  and we absolutely loved it. The hostel was in the perfect spot, located in the Mala Strana district of Prague. It was a 7 minute walk to the castle, 10 minute walk to the Charles Bridge, and was centered perfectly around many of the popular cathedrals, statues, as well as amazing restaurants. Each dorm had it’s own bathroom en-suite and was cleaned twice a day, which was a god sent. They also offered a small breakfast every morning, as well as the most informational travel advice you could ask for. We made so many friends here and truly enjoyed the environment!

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5 minute walk from our hostel

Where to eat

Being that Prague is one of the most popular spots for tourists, we knew that going to the square to eat would only mean that we would be paying ridiculously inflated prices which means we wouldn’t be taking advantage of the fact that Prague is INSANELY inexpensive. For most of our meals we wondered past the main tourist spots, and really just stopped in wherever looked good. Here were a few of my favorites.

Baterka $- This place was tucked away on a street in the Jewish Quarter, and when we walked in we only saw Czech people which was immediately a good sign for us. One of the coolest things about this place was that they brewed their own beer. Now, this is no surprise for Prague as a lot of places do this, but this was my first time ever going to  restaurant that did that so I found it quite interesting. I stopped in this place for a quick snack with my friend before we continued on our day, so we decided to go with classics and get the house beer, fresh bread, and potato soup. The potato soup was honestly perfect, and so filling even with two people sharing it. It wasn’t creamy, but it also wasn’t very broth-y which I loved. There were potatoes, carrots, onions, cheese, and the soup itself was extremely savory.

U Parlemntu $- This place was a little closer to the square, however the prices did not reflect that at all. This compact bar is extremely lively and known for its music and energetic setting. You’ll find people from everywhere making new friends, or coming with old ones to enjoy a beer and take in the atmosphere. For an appetizer I have to recommend the garlic toast with Czech blue cheese, the cheese in Europe is so much better first of all and 2nd this cheese was the perfect balance of salty and tart which is essential for a good blue cheese. For the main entree I ordered the Chicken Schnitzel and was over the top impressed with it despite the fact that it is such a simple meal. The sauce they provided to spread over the chicken was made from sweet cherry tomatoes, and the chicken itself had been fried to a perfect crisp.

Kamparium $- This place was somewhat close to the cultural center and my friend and I just happened to stumble upon it while walking through the streets. The set up was really fun to me, as it was underground so you had to actually walk down steps to get into the building. Again, we were going for a light fare here so we stuck to some classic Czech appetizers and desserts. We really enjoyed the potato pancakes for our appetizer as the filling was infused with the most savory spices that literally made your mouth water. For dessert, we decided to try the fruit dumplings. The name is pretty self explanatory but I really had no idea what to expect, but I am SO happy we ordered it because it was insanely good. It’s basically the shape of any dumpling but it was stuffed with a fruit filling and then drizzled over top of the dumplings was this sweet, gravy-textured sauce.

Prague Farmer’s Market $- I suppose this falls under the category of both things to do and things to eat but I’ll just stick it here. Every Saturday, Prague hosts a farmer’s market along the river and local vendors come in and serve all types of food. There’s everything from cheese burgers, to Czech pastries, to canned vegetables, fresh cheese, and homemade krauts. All of the food is so tempting, and honestly all of the food is so good. We tried a bit of everything, but my favorite thing would’ve had to be the traditional Czech pastries just because of how sweet and fresh they were. Another plus is that this is a place where you can get so much food while spending very little money, which is always a plus. The address for the market is as follows, Náplavka Rašínova nábřeží, Praha 2, 120 00 Praha 2, Czechia.

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Traditional Czech pastry

What to Do 

Prague has an endless amount of opportunity of things to see and do. You could spend a whole day walking without doing any of the tourist sites and still be so amazed by the architecture and history that Prague has. We did a pretty jam-packed weekend because we had so much we wanted to do. For the most part, we stuck to what was free because we are broke students obviously. A couple of my favorite things throughout the trip would have to have been,

Prague Castle- Although most of the things you have to do here cost money, you can still wander the castle grounds and take in some of the amazing views of Prague from the castle. When we went, we came early in the morning just after sunrise so we could still catch some of that morning light and also to enjoy the stillness of the morning before the flood of tourists came through.

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view from the castle

John Lennon Wall– Even if you were a hippie like Lennon, the John Lennon wall is something you definitely don’t want to miss especially if you enjoy street art. The wall is extremely close to the St. Charles bridge, in the Mala Strana district of Prague. It is free to view, and there’s also usually someone singing old Beatles songs for you to sing along to as you admire the art. When you finish up there you can also take a look (or stop for a bite) at the John Lennon restaurant which is themed with Beatles songs like Yellow Submarine, Hey Jude, and Imagine.

Dancing House- A major tourist attraction in Prague, which is free to view and almost free to go up in. The only rule of the Dancing House is that if you go up to the roof you must order a drink or something. You can easily cheat the system though and order a water, as that still counts as a drink. It’s quite relaxing to sit atop the building and look at the river and the castle in the far distance. Plus for you people watchers, it’s quite enjoyable to get a cocktail and watch the paddle boarders try to go down the river without falling off.

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Dancing House

Jewish Quarter- So dark fact, but during WW2 it is rumored that Hitler was planning on retiring to Prague. Because of that most of the Jewish Quarter of Prague remained intact during the war because after the war he had plans to turn it into a “museum of extinct people.” Pretty messed up, but it means that the intricate synagogues of Prague got to remain as they were. For $11 USD, you can get access to 4 synagogues as well as the cemetery which is an amazing deal in my opinion. The synagogues were all beautiful in their own ways but my personal favorite was the Spanish Synagogue. I loved the attention to detail, as well as all the gold, red, and orange hues within the building.

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Spanish Synagogue

All in all, Prague is a wonderful city with so much to offer besides just tourist sights if you are willing to look for them. Just by wandering the streets we stumbled on two different festivals and found the farmer’s market which was easily one of our favorite parts. Especially if you are in Europe already, Prague is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway that isn’t going to break your wallet. Happy travels!

 

Hike to Sedona’s 7 Sacred Pools

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Sedona is by far one of my favorite places in Arizona. There’s beautiful red and white rock, an adorable town, and plenty of activities ranging from off-roading, to hiking, to swimming. If you are in Sedona and looking for a family friendly hike, or just a short hike that offers some great views I can’t recommend the hike to 7 Sacred Pools more! The “pools” you will see at the end of the hike were naturally formed, and have served as a survival essential for wildlife in the area, which I think is pretty cool. To get to this spot you need to park at the Soldier’s Pass trail head right off Soldier Pass road. From there walk along the soldier pass trail.

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This trail is mostly exposed to the open sun, so especially if you are hiking during the day be sure you bring enough water for yourself, and plenty of sunscreen because neither are offered on the trail. There’s lots of beautiful desert flora and fauna on this trail so keep an eye out on the ground of some of the beautiful cacti and wildflowers. You won’t gain much elevation but what I loved was how you were literally going from a neighborhood to what feels like a place where there’s not people for miles…in minutes. The space really transforms around you and makes you feel really small really fast. On your hike you also get the chance to see Devil’s Kitchen, a sink hole that has been forming for centuries. This is a nice place to sit and enjoy the view of the red rock and pine dotted forests. neweditstyle2.jpg

As you make your way along the trail pay special attention to the rock formations, I think this is a perfect intro hike to Sedona because it gives you such an awesome taste of what the rest of the place is going to be like. You get a chance to see the deep tree filled canyon, but you also get a hint of that orange/red/and white rock that makes Sedona so famous.

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You’ll know when you’ve made it to the pools because you will somewhat stumble upon them. The pools can be viewed from above on the trail or if you want to explore down below them I would say most able-bodied people could climb down and back up the rocks without much of a problem. The whole trail is 1.7 miles, but should only take you about an hour or so to do the whole thing. Although this trail is really easy, make sure you are following the trail signs or any maps you have because it’s easy to get on a different trail and end up in the wrong spot. As always, leave no trace and enjoy yourself!

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Take a Stroll Through Bryce Canyon’s Wall Street

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Sandwiched away between Dixie National Forest and Grand Staircase-Escalante NM lies Bryce Canyon National Park. Let me just start by saying that there is absolutely nothing I could compare this place to because it is so unique. The park is famous for its ‘hoodoos’ which are the rock spirals within the park. What made me fall in love with this place though, was the colors. The rocks boasts an almost perfect gradient of orange to white rock, and to make it even more surreal there is an even more perfect contrast of green pine trees dotted along the canyon.

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When choosing a hike, I knew I wanted something that would give me both views from the rim but also would allow me to see the hoodoos up close and personal. After doing some research, my friend and I decided we would do Wall Street and Queen’s Garden which is a 3.3 mile loop. We started at sunrise point and walked toward to sunset point (to the right) to find the entrance to the Wall Street trail.

From there we descended down the trail, and into another world. As you make your way down the switchbacks, the hoodoos start to tower over you. It almost feels like you are on Mars or something because of the red glow between the canyon walls. The walk down is steep at some points, however it is not hard to keep your balance because the trail is so well maintained.

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Once you make it through Wall Street, keep following the loop that leads you to Queen’s Garden Trail. You will see many rock formations in Bryce, but these are one of the parks most well loved. The Queen’s Garden Trail is named after Queen Victoria, as at the end of the trail there is a rock that has a formation just like the Queen. It’s ironic because Native Americans believed that the hoodoos were actually people that had been trapped and frozen inside by an evil coyote god. As you go on you will go through this mini slot canyon, this was my favorite part of the hike because I loved how the rock somewhat closed in on you. For claustrophobic people reading this, don’t worry  this part only takes about a minute.

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The hike will take you through many different elevation levels, so you can get  different views of the park. Make sure to have proper footwear because the switchbacks can be really challenging at points. Along the way you will find places to rest, and this also is a great opportunity to enjoy the quietness and energy of the park.

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You don’t need expensive gear, regular hiking boots or tennis shoes will do just fine. Make sure you have a backpack and  in your backpack you have plenty of water, some quick snacks, and sunscreen! Some of my favorite trail snacks are WOLO Wander Bars, dark chocolate almonds, and fruit. Just make sure you are bringing things that can provide you with the energy you need! As you reach the end of your hike the incline gets steeper and steeper but the scenery is unreal! Just imagine a white and orange sanded desert.

Lastly be sure to stop for a look in the many arches you will find a long the way. They really made me feel like I was walking through some sort of magical storybook. This place has a lot to offer, we enjoyed pizza at the local pizza spot in the park. There are little shops and the people you find along the trail are quite friendly.

 

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The National Parks Service does a tremendous job of maintaining this place so that people can enjoy it. Do your part and be sure to stay on the trails, be respectful of the space you are in and the spaces of others, really just LEAVE NO TRACE. We want people to be able to enjoy these places for years to come, we need to make sure we are doing our part to make that possible.

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Your Ultimate Guide To Riviera Nayarit, Mexico: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do

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This past week, I traded my hometown Kentucky scenery and headed south of the border for some fun in Mexico. I flew using American Airlines miles, however since it is low season plane tickets are about $240-$280 depending on when you buy them. My family and I flew out of Evansville and into Puerto Vallarta since that is the closest major airport. From there we took a cab to the small town of Bucerias, which should cost you around 350 pesos. Bucerias is a small beach village, that comes to life in December-April. However if you visit in July like me, you will find it to be the quietest and most quaint little place.

Where to Stay

For our stay we chose to reside in a condo which you can find on VRBO, called Punta Arena. This place way nothing shy of amazing. All condos have a 40 foot deck overlooking the ocean, and the kitchen comes fully equip with anything you could possibly need. They also include internet, a water jug and filter (don’t drink from the faucet), television, glass showers, beach towels, and ours even had Netflix already set up on the TV. Plus the infinity pool and workout room on the first floor were nothing shy of amazing. The condo itself is situated in the middle of everything, which we loved. One step out of the condo and you have hundreds of locally owned restaurants, cafes, and a convenience store. There’s also street vendors lined up all over the street selling any souvenir you could want from handmade items to a poncho with your favorite sports team. Take a left outside of the condo and you’ll find yourself within minutes walking distance from the city center. The village of Bucerias is also perfectly situated between Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta, making it easy to do day trips to either of these places.

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Where to Eat

I cannot even BEGIN to tell you all how amazing the food was. If you know me, you know I love food and this place was foodie heaven! This doesn’t just include good Mexican food either, as there was almost nothing you couldn’t find here. Below I’ve listed the places I loved the most and what to order. Everything here is significantly less if you are converting from USD to Pesos, so the price signs are in relation to pesos not USD.

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Breakfast

  • Riviera Cafe $- This tiny little cafe was located just across the street from the condo. It’s an open door restaurant allowing you to people watch no matter where you are seated. I ordered the omelet with green onion, cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I also tried the London Blue, which is Mexico’s spin on a London Fog and it was wonderful.
  • Paninos $- This place was by far one of my favorites. Paninos is a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and fresh pastries and bread. There is a location close to the condo and another in Sayulita (a town I will later talk about.) Everything here is delicious, no seriously everything. For a heavier meal, the salmon eggs benedict is to die for. If you are looking for something a bit lighter, their breakfast bagel sandwiches are also wonderful and come with fruit and potatoes. The waiters and waitresses are all beyond welcoming and will help accommodate to you in any way. They also gave us so many tips on the best ways to travel around and what to do in different places. Not to mention, if you want the best cappuccino in the world you should definitely go here.
  • Cafe De Bucerias $-  This is a local cafe run by a family that also runs a couple hotels in the area. The small corner cafe which also serves pastries is the perfect place to find a classic Mexican breakfast. My two favorite things there were the Chilaquiles Naturales and the healthy bowl which was greek yogurt with seasonal fruit, granola, and chia seeds. They also have an amazing iced chai tea latte and for dessert the banana cake is to die for.

Lunch

  • La Rustica $$-  Found in Sayulita, this pizza place was more than worth mentioning. Wood fires, and made with fresh ingredients this place is the perfect spot to grab a bite after exploring Sayulita for the day. For drinks, I got their house made bloody mary and it was one of the best I’ve had in a while. For food, I highly recommend the calamari and the La Margarita and the El Italiano which has prosciutto, arugula, basil, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.
  • Karen’s $$- Just a few blocks from the condo is Karen’s, a beachfront restaurant connected to a cute little hotel. Here you can find interesting cocktails like cucumber and Chile margaritas, or my favorite which is their house made sangria. For the food, I highly recommend the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and enchiladas and coconut shrimp for the entrees.
  • Wakika $- Located in Sayulita, this isn’t exactly a food place but it’s worth mentioning. This little shop serves up some of the best ice cream I’ve had. I really enjoyed the berries and cream, but if you aren’t an ice cream person they also have popsicles and slushies.

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Dinner

  • Chin Gon $- Didn’t think it was possible to find Thai food south of the border? Think again. Located also a few blocks from the condo, this place is locally owned by the most lovely and hospitable couple. All ingredients are prepared fresh and cooked to order. We really enjoyed the yellow shrimp curry, fresh green iced tea with hibiscus.
  • Saundra’s $$- This place is as colorful as the food on the menu. Complete with art, handmade pottery, and a beautiful garden this place is nothing short of unique. Think Greek food meets Mexican. We enjoyed the Mediterranean chicken and roasted vegetables with hummus, but the fish tacos with homemade sauce was by far our favorite. The owner Saundra is very passionate about her work and ensures your happiness with each bite.
  • Mezzogiorno $$$- This place is the most pricey, but trust me it is worth it. The servers here are extremely knowledgeable about the menu, plus the restaurant is perfectly situated on the oceanfront. They have a stellar wine list, and the food is some of the best Italian I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend the bruschetta to start and for the main meal the fettuccine Alfredo and ravioli are delightful.
  • Street vendors $- Don’t be scared of the literally open kitchen, this food is some of the most authentic Mexican food you can find, they seriously make it all in front of you. We chose the ones in the city center and were so pleased we came back almost every single night.

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What to Do

We chose to stay in Bucerias because it’s right in the middle of everything. About 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, and 20 from Punta Mita. We packed a lot into one week but these were our favorites.

  • Los Colomitos and Horse Beach-  Los Colomitos, known as Mexico’s most tiny beach is only accessible by foot or boat. Just tell your taxi driver to take you to the water taxi’s in southern Puerto Vallarta and they will know where to go. We didn’t take a water taxi because we wanted to snorkel as well, but there are literally tons of people who will take you on their boat down where the water taxis are. If you rent a private boat like us, be prepared to spend around $250 USD for 3-4 hours plus snorkeling. We chose not to get out at Colomitos because it was very crowded, but it is still very beautiful to look at. Horse Beach however was our favorite because of how quiet and empty it was. The waters are aqua blue and it has a nice little beach bar as well to grab a quick bite or drink.
  • Day-Trip to Sayulita- Located about 25-30 minutes from Bucerias is the lovely fishing and surfing town of Sayulita. From Bucerias you can either take a bus, taxi, or uber however it is very inexpensive to take a bus, which is what we did. There is tons of things to do in Sayulita, but my favorite was the hippie market. Running 7 days a week, this market has everything from crystals to handmade falsas to knitted toys and leather shoes. All prices are negotiable here, so bargain with the people a bit before you decide a price. The town is easily walkable so down worry about having a car. Grab an ice cream cone, throw on your swimsuit, and take a stroll down the streets to admire the street art along the building walls.
  • The Marieta Islands- If you’ve ever heard of “hidden beach” this is exactly where to find it. These uninhabited islands are a wildlife refuge, protected by Mexico. This place is boasting with wildlife. You can swim, snorkel, bird watch, or explore the many sea caves. These islands are only accessible by special tour, as it is protected lands. You will get on a boat at Punta Mita and from there it is about 20 minutes to the island. If you snorkel, you can expect to see whales (depending on the season,) tropical fish, coral reefs, crabs, starfish, and if you are lucky sea turtles. We chose to not do the hidden beach as it’s very expensive and you can only stay for around 20 minutes.

Your Complete Guide to 5th Water Hot Springs

Reasons tohike on yourbirthday.pngThis place is undoubtedly one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to. I remember finding it from fellow hikers and falling in love with the beautiful photos that almost seemed too good to be real. So, I planned a trip to Provo and decided I had to see this beautiful natural wonder for myself.

This is located in Uintas National Forest right outside of Provo, Utah. The forest is insane, overflowing with green trees and purple toned snow cap mountains. There’s about 1000 waterfalls within the forest, and so many other hikes that lead you to incredible elevation gains. I arrived into the forest late into the night and parked right at the trailhead, as I knew I wanted to get there before anyone else. There were a few other cars in the parking lot, but all seemed empty, backpackers off deep into the wilderness I suppose. That night my boyfriend and I slept under the stars in his 4-runner which we had now turned into our car, kitchen, and bedroom. The forest was quiet and calming and the only sound besides our breathing was a soft wind rustling the trees.

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We got up around 6:30 to eat and get ready for the hike. It’s 5 miles total, so not terrible but definitely something you want to prepare for. The hike in was absolutely beautiful, you walk alongside the creek while behind you are stunning mountain views. The only faces we saw were hikers coming out of the forest, but beside that it was complete solitude. You know when you are reaching the hot springs because of the smell. A thick smell of sulfur filled our noses as we made our way up the trail, but we didn’t mind that only meant we were getting closer. The water starts to change as well from the typical green/brown creek color to powdery blues.

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As we climbed over the final hill I knew we had made it. Powder blue and green hot spring pools lay in front of us, and not a single person in them. Beautiful. The hot springs are *technically* clothing optional, so in the mornings it’s not uncommon to find some aspiring nudists out for a skinny dip. The ones at the bottom are about the temperature of the perfect hot bath, I’d say around 98 degrees give or take. As you keep going up toward the waterfall they gradually get hotter and hotter.DSC_0519.jpg

Once you get to the waterfall you can actually climb up and under it, which I thought was pretty neat. In addition to that it’s a pretty easy climb to the top of the waterfall and from there you have a beautiful view of all the forestry and hot springs.

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To be honest I was a bit hesitant to share this post. I usually don’t share locations out of fear that they will soon be ruined by over-trafficking of these beautiful lands. When we got here there were only a few pieces of trash, which made me happy to see that people had left places either the same or better than they found them. Remember to keep these places wild, clean up after yourself, and leave the place better than you found it so we can continue to enjoy these spaces. Happy hiking!

How to Pack With a Backpacker’s Ticket

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“Backpacker’s tickets” have honestly saved my life. If you don’t already know, they are the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to airline tickets. Yes, you will load the plane last. Yes, you will probably be in the middle. And finally, yes you will not have access to overhead bins. When I first read this while booking a ticket for my first solo trip my over-packing mind thought “how will I bring every thing I need without at least a carry on?” But after extensively going through each item I thought I needed, I found ways to minimize my packing list but still bring my must-have’s.

One of the most important things in this journey is making sure that your one personal item is a spacious backpack. Now, I’m not talking packed to the ceiling type deal but you can pack your typical day hiking bag to the brim and it will still fit under your seat. Some of my favorite backpacks are High Sierra, and Teton. They are usually light weight, have a water bladder, and built to last. You don’t have to drop tons of money to get a nice bag though. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ebay, and even Facebook market place usually have some great deals on usually very expensive backpacks.

Next is learning how to pack in a more *minimalist* manner. I know at the time it really feels like you do need all 5 sandals, 12 sundresses, 8 bikinis, and 7 pairs of leggings but I promise you will survive (beautifully.) You can still have all of your essentials, while still managing to get away with not paying the ridiculous fee’s to check a bag. Sort out all the items you want to take, immediately get rid of any of those items you are packing in case you “might need them.” 90% of the time those items sit in the bottom of my bag and never get worn, so why even pack them.

From there, try to bring pieces that you can wear multiple times, and know what you can sacrifice. So maybe instead of bringing three pairs of black hiking leggings, just bring one. Or bring a skirt that you can wear with multiple tops, things like that! This saves you a lot of room if you can get multiple outfits out of one piece. Lastly, with shoes make sure you are wearing your bulkiest shoes (ex; hiking boots) on the plane so you can save room in your bag. My personal rule for shoes is to bring 1 pair for comfort and 1 or 2 pairs for fashion.

If you are a blogger like myself, most of us are also packing a camera and a laptop for editing. These things can take up HUGE amounts of space. Try to narrow down what kind of shots you are going to take, and from there decide what lenses you need. I try to bring just one if I’m only bringing my backpack because as I said, lenses can get pretty bulky. Lastly, REMEMBER WHAT YOU CAN BUY. Travel size items are sold nearly every where, why take up space bringing your own travel size items when you could purchase the same ones there?

 

Thanks so much for reading everyone if you want to check out how I travel on a budget, click here!