“You’re so lucky”

I’ve been able to be a lot more open about my around the globe trip lately. I love telling people that I’m travelling the globe as it still kind of shocks me. I had always wanted to travel but I hadn’t ever created a plan to actually do it. Until now.

When I tell people about my trip, a very common reaction is – “Oh my gosh, you are so lucky! I wish I could do that. Someday I’ll travel.”

What is it that makes me “lucky”? I am aware that I have advantages that not everyone has. I don’t have kids, I am able to live with my parents rent-free, I have a job and a steady paycheck. All of these things I am extremely grateful for.

But even if you have to pay rent/have a dog/have red hair, you can travel too. I was lucky that I was able to cut my expenses so drastically to save a lot of money in a very short period of time. But there is nothing “lucky” about the way I did that. I cancelled my cell phone plan, I lived with my parents (and you know that isn’t easy), I rarely eat out, I don’t go out to bars or clubs, I don’t take weekend trips, I hardly ever buy books or clothes or expensive makeup. I consider myself a minimalist, which saves me a ton of money. But there is nothing that I did that you can’t do.

If you really want to go to Paris – create a savings account for it, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. If you want to do an around the world trip – create a savings account, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. There is nothing required to go on a trip other than dedication to your savings and a bit of planning.

Let me know in the comments where you would like to go!

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How to Create an Itinerary

People ask me all the time what travel agents/sites/companies I use. I don’t use any! I create my itinerary all by myself, which works best for me because (1) I’m kind of a control freak and (2) I get to research each place myself and decide what I would like to see and what I would rather skip. For example, I’m a vegan, so I’m not about to go on the meat and cheese tour in Paris. But I am very much looking forward to visiting a lot of parks and gardens. By planning your own itinerary, you get to decide what is most important to you – and this is the best way to ensure that you won’t be going on any tours or adventures that you aren’t super excited about.

I plan my itinerary in steps.

Step 1: go to Google Maps. Print out a map of the area that you are going. I am going to Western Europe, so I printed the following map.

Map

Step 2: Pick your destinations. I circled the cities that I would like to spend time in. A very useful tip: do not ever double back. This will waste time that you could spend enjoying a new town. Also, know that you will not be able to see everything in one trip. I would love to go to Ireland some day, I would love to go to Greece and Croatia (and I will!), but I will not be going to any of those places this time around. I also would like to spend an extended amount of time in Spain and Italy, but I will not be doing that this time around. I try to make the best with the time that I have, and make sure that I have time to really enjoy each place I go. I consider this trip an introduction to Europe for me, as it is my first time visiting there.

Step 3: Research each place you are going. I scoured TripAdvisor and Google to find the most recommended places to go in each city that I circled. I also make sure to leave room for unexpected trips. I am planning to befriend locals, as they always know the best places to go, and that is one of the most efficient ways to learn about the culture of the place you are visiting.

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Step 4: Using a word program, I create a list of the cities that I am going to (in order), with a list of things I would like to do in each city. I decide how long I will be in each city by the length of the list of things to do. I am very aware that my itinerary will most likely NOT go according to plan, and that is fine with me, but I do know that I would like some specific things to go according to plan. For example, I want to spend Christmas in Paris. I want to spend New Years in Barcelona. I am willing to move around other destinations if I need to to make sure this happens. Being flexible while travelling is super important.

That pretty much sums up how I create my itinerary. I make sure to create lists of things that I know I would like to see, but a lot of this trip I plan on spending making new friends, learning new languages, trying new foods, and forfeiting parts of my itinerary. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

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I’m going to Denmark!

I bought a ticket to Copenhagen on Tuesday. I put in my two weeks notice at work immediately afterward (seriously, within the hour) and now I’m frantically making an itinerary for a two and a half month trip to Europe. I started getting the feeling like I needed to go. I felt like waiting until February (my original start date for my round the world trip) was just creating this feeling of comfort. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like I was just not taking the whole thing seriously and I needed a kick in the butt. So I bought a ticket to Copenhagen.

This could be the scariest and most insane thing I’ve ever done; not only do I have two weeks to prepare, but I’ll be missing the holidays with my family and it is freezing in Europe during the winter! Even though it will be sad to be away from my family on Christmas, I feel like I’m doing what is right for me. Wish me luck 🙂

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I thought it would be great to show you a little of my hometown area of Northern California before I leave here to travel the world! I will be doing hometown series with little snippets of each area around me in the next few months.

This past weekend I spent some time in Napa Valley with some girlfriends. We slept in late, got ready, and met at 11am for a quick drive over the hill to Napa.

Our first stop was the beautiful Chateau Montelena. We parked next to the grape vines and headed up through a pebbled pathway to the ivy-covered castle. Chateau Montelena

After an estate flight including a buttery Chardonnay, a jammy Zinfandel, and two wonderful Estate Cabernet Sauvignons, we headed outside to take some pictures of the stunning castle. While we were trying to capture the entire castle in our tiny iPhone cameras, a nice young man in a hat came by and asked if we would like to stomp some grapes. Would we! So, of course we jumped in the barrel and started stomping and jumping away.

grape stomping

After about fifteen minutes of stomping and jumping, we realized we were going to be late for our next appointment! We rinsed our feet off and scrambled to the next winery, Tamber Bey, which was conveniently just down the road. Tamber Bey had the most amazing, delicious wines. I just about died over their insanely buttery Chardonnay. I love a good old world style Chardonnay, with rich buttery and/or oaky notes. The rest of the flight included an amazing Pinot Noir, a couple blends, and an out-of-this-world Cabernet Sauvignon. They even offered a cookie pairing with the wines. Mind. Blown. I would definitely recommend this winery to anyone coming to Napa Valley. It is appointment-only, so you get a designated host, and lots of special attention. They even have horses on the property!  tasting at Tamber Bey

After our amazing time at Tamber Bey, we stopped at the market in Calistoga for a little late lunch/snacks. I bought a loaf of sourdough bread, and a coconut water. Not the healthiest lunch, but I can never pass up a good sourdough. After the market, we made our way to our next appointment at Rombauer. Rombauer is known for their oaky Chardonnays, which I was very excited to try.  FullSizeRender

The tasting room was packed with guests, so we took our tastes outside to admire the view. The Chardonnay was wonderful. We also tried a couple of Cabernet’s here, and a Zinfandel. The reds were very ripe, a little more on the sweeter side. After our tasting, we wandered the grounds. They have a stunning garden path which leads to a mysterious door…

 Rombauer Door

For our last stop, we decided to go for something a little different – bubbles! We stopped by Mumm Napa. Our host was fantastic and very informative, and gave us lots of different wines to taste. Luckily, we each have a little different taste. I prefer the dryer wines, where as my friends preferred the semi-sweet and rose wines. More dry for me! I was obsessed with the DVX and DVX expressions wines. As it turns out, they were also the most expensive bottles we tasted. Leave it to me to favor the pricier wines!

Mumm Flight

After Mumm, we took the Silverado Trail back home to Sonoma County. We ate dried mangoes and danced the whole way home to One Direction and songs from our youth. It was a great day, definitely one for the books!

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How to Eat Well While Travelling

Confession time: I am overly obsessed with being healthy. Not to the point where it’s a problem, but to the point where I refuse to put nasty chemical laden crap in my body. So how can one stay healthy on the road? Here are my best tips to keeping your body and health on point while travelling:

1. Do your research. If at all possible, do some research before you head out the door. I’m vegan, so I use apps such as Happy Cow or even just google searches for vegan or vegetarian restaurants in the area I’m staying. This is so helpful! Many countries are already mostly vegetarian or are very vegetarian friendly (Thailand was super veggie friendly).

2. Learn key words. While I was travelling in Thailand, I met a few vegans who had learned the Thai word meaning vegan. They taught it to me, and it was so helpful. I ended up finding quite a few very good vegetarian and vegan restaurants and frequented those during my stay.

3. Go for the vegetable based dishes. You can’t go wrong with fresh spring rolls or a nice hummus plate. Yummmmms. Even meat serving restaurants should have something that can be healthified.

4. Or the starches. I could write another entire blog post about this. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. I feel so amazing after eating a big meal of rice and veggies. The best thing about this lifestyle is the energy that I get from it, but the convenience is a very close second.

5. Ask around. Ask locals or your host where they recommend to get healthy food. They always know the best places!

6. Don’t underestimate the grocery stores or markets. I love getting food from fruit markets or grocery stores and hoarding it in my room like I’m preparing for the apocalypse. There is nothing wrong with stocking up on the good stuff!

Did I forget anything? Leave your tips and tricks for eating healthy while travelling in the comments below!

xo

Amanda

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