Monday, September 26, 2016

Life Lately


Since I’ve started writing again I wanted to talk about what I’ve been up to this past year while I took a hiatus from the blog. To be honest, not much has changed. I still work at the same company and still spend most of my time with my dog.  I’m like the 24-year-old version of Bethenny Frankel – failed relationships and all.

PSA: I’ve been binge watching all the Housewives episodes from Atlanta to New York so I will be dropping references to the shows every now and then

But this past year hasn’t been completely uneventful. My brother got engaged to an amazing girl, I’ve travelled more this year than ever before and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in my job – I even won the “Unsung Hero” award at my company back in April.

So while I took this past year to focus on growing my career, I’ve also tried to enjoy more out of life. I saw Beyoncé (queen!), Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding in concert and laughed to tears at Amy Schumer’s comedy tour and Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper’s benefit show.

Back in January, I was finally able to check something off my bucket list - riding a hot air balloon! 
Earlier this year I read Shonda Rhimes book, "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person”. Along with getting all the feels when she talked about Christina Yang’s character, one of the biggest takeaways was that you can’t have it all. Now I’m sure there’s someone who's going to disagree with me but I can relate to Shonda’s belief that if you're focusing your efforts on a certain aspect of your life, such as your career, then the time you spend on this takes away from another thing you could be doing.

It was refreshing to hear someone verbalize what I was feeling at the time. I was, and still am, disappointed with myself for not keeping up with the blog. But I also understand that because I chose to make other things in my life a priority I had to sacrifice something. Now, because I’m blogging again does that mean something else in my life isn’t going to have as much attention? Probably. But that’s okay because I’m in place where I feel like I’m willing to put in the work for this blog, that I love, deserves.

My goal for Musings of a Wanderer has always been to inspire others to live life to the fullest. That’s still true - rather I blog for six months or six years. Either way, I’m going to enjoy the ride and hope you’ll’ join me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Travel On A Budget


One of the most common questions I get is, “how are you able to travel so much?” So for today's post I wanted to share some insider secrets. Let’s be real – I wouldn’t label myself as someone who has a ton of money and I get around 12 days off a year (plus holidays). I'm pretty much your average 20-something-year-old. I like to think I just travel smart. This year alone I’ve been to, or have planned, the following trips:


Sedona, Arizona
Dominican Republic
Washington DC
Bahamas
Costa Rica
Maine
New York
Des Moines, Iowa
Washington DC (again!)
Spain (Christmas, 2016)

**Not going to lie – I had to look through my Instagram to remember everywhere I’ve been**

Even looking at this list, I’m pretty impressed with myself - that’s a lot of places! So I wanted to share a few of my tricks on how I’m able to plan more than 10 trips in one year.


Greece! 
Work Perks

One of the many things I love about my job is that I am offered opportunities to travel. Not only does our company have a yearly cruise to the Bahamas but I’m also able to travel for my clients.

If you’re looking for a new job, one of the first questions I would ask is if the company has any allowances for travel. I went to New York this year to help promote Fujifilm’s grand opening in the Flatiron district and then I was able to Go Blog Social in Iowa for work as well. Don’t be afraid to tell your supervisor you’re interested in any opportunities for travel – you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Insider Tip: Take some initiative and find a professional conference that you want to go to that you can tie back to your job. Ask your boss if the company will sponsor you to go and then you can come back and teach a session of everything you learned with your peers!


Basically where I spent my entire Dominican Republic trip.

Airbnb

There’s no reason why you need to stay in an expensive resort when you travel. I’m a huge fan of Airbnb. Not only do they offer really unique places to stay, but also a lot of hotels actually list their availabilities on the site. My hotel for Costa Rica was listed on Airbnb and I only paid about $45 a night. Split with my roommate that’s a little over $20 a person!

I’m still finalizing the details of my Spain trip for Christmas but I already know I’ll be booking my stay with Airbnb. It’s a great way to save some money and still have awesome accommodations.

Insider Tip: Book your trips around a holiday weekend so you use less PTO days. I always print my company’s holiday schedule during the beginning of the year and then plan my trips around it.


Sedona, AZ with my Daddy!
Credit Card Points

I have about two credit cards at any given time – it’s great for building credit and many have benefits for travel. I was approved for the Chase Sapphire card earlier this year when they were running a promotion that if you spent $4,000 within the first 3 months you would get 50,000 bonus points. Well, that covered most of my flight to Spain. I also had points left over from my American Express Delta card so my $400 flight to Vegas was completely free!

Insider Tip: Make sure you’re applying for these cards when they have a promotion going on for extra points. I highly recommend following The Points Guy – he’s a great resource for which cards to get.


This was the view from my Airbnb hotel in Costa Rica!
When in Doubt, Book It!

To some, traveling seems like a lot of planning and work. Well, it doesn’t have to be! Start small. I recommend just booking the flight and then a few weeks later look into the accommodations and things to do. There’s no reason you need to stress yourself out all in a one day trying to book everything. Sometimes the best trips are the one’s that have little planning.

Insider Tip: It helps to have a ride-or-die friend when it comes to traveling. I’m lucky enough to have a roommate that when I ask her about booking a trip she impulsively says yes and then 5 minutes later it’s booked. So my challenge to you is to find the Christina to your Meredith. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What To Pack When Visiting a National Park


While I’ve always been pretty open about my abandonment issues with working out, one thing that I truly enjoy that can be a great source of exercise is visiting national parks. I would much rather get my exercise among the mountains than in a gym where half the machines look like torture devices (technically they are, based on who you’re asking). And if that doesn’t convince you, all pictures in this post are from a national park.

I’ve been to Zion National Park, Shenandoah, Acadia and more. When I first starting going to national parks I almost always forgot to pack something. So if you’re the type of person that enjoys packing lists then your girl has you covered. Feel free to even pin this for later so when you do find the time, you’ll be all set. 


CamelBak

This may seem obvious to some people but when I went to Zion a few weeks ago I completely forgot to pack a CamelBack, let alone a regular backpack. Pretty much everyone will have one  - it’s great for carrying all your stuff, leaving you hands-free to get some great shots. Don't forget to have the bladder for your water and there should be multiple refill stations throughout the park.

Camera

No matter what national park you visit, chances are there will be opportunities for some killer photos. Double check the hike your about to go on to see if you’re comfortable bringing your camera. I wouldn’t recommend bringing your $400 DSLR on a hike through the river (again, learn from my mistakes friends!). Go Pros are also a great product to bring if you’re looking for some video content.


Snacks

When you’re in a national park there’s not a lot of places to grab a snack on a 10-mile hike. It’s great to be able to stop for a second, get a drink of water and eat a banana when you feel like you’re on the verge of passing out. Happened to me more than a few times. So don’t forget to pack some munchies. Think foraging like food – nuts, bananas, protein bars, grass, etc.


The Extras

Visiting a national park typically means you’ll be there for most of the day. So don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat. It’s easy to forget when you’re hiking all day that you’re also exposing yourself to the sun. Lastly, while chances are you won't have to use a first aid kit, as the saying goes, “it's better to be safe than sorry”. National parks are more treacherous than your everyday workout spots so it never hurts to be prepared. 

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