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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Why I’m Travelling The World Alone

A lot of my family and friends are surprised that I am travelling the world alone. They call me brave and say they would never be able to do that. Think I’m crazy? Read on to see why I actually prefer to travel the world alone.

1. You can do whatever you want to do. I am meeting up with my family at a few different parts of my trip, which means that I will have to do things that they want to do, maybe things that I am not super interested in. But compromise is part of travelling with another person. But you won’t be compromising when travelling alone! I will be doing what I want, whenever I want, however I want. I can stay where I want. I can go on the tours I want (and skip the ones I don’t). The hardest part of travelling with another person for me is forking over money to do things that I don’t have that much interest in. This is by far the number one reason I love to travel alone.

2. Personal growth… and all that stuff. Travelling alone to Thailand actually gave me so much more confidence in myself. I had some scary experiences, but I came out of it completely unharmed and a stronger person. Scary experience 1 = missing my flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This was my last flight of the three flight series to my destination, so I know it could have been much worse. After I learned that I missed my flight (I somehow got the time mixed up), I had a mini breakdown in the Bangkok airport and then figured out what to do by asking a person who works there. I was sent up to the little office of the airway that I was flying on, got a free cup of coffee, and got put on the next flight for $30 USD. Not exactly my favorite way to spend money, but I was so relieved. They then sent me to a free WiFi room with little treats and more coffee. I’m a sucker for coffee. It actually worked out quite well as I got to spend a few hours relaxing in the WiFi room and grab some food before my flight.

Scary experience 2 involved getting lost. Alone, after dark, with no cell service. Luckily I know that Thailand is a very safe place to travel, so I wasn’t as scared as I was annoyed. I was meant to meet a friend for a lady boy cabaret show and dinner. I missed both of these and ended up eating at some random restaurant, alone. I connected to WiFi at the restaurant and got back to my guesthouse by way of the main roads. Tip for Thailand – never try to get somewhere by going down the little roads. They are evil.

3. It’s cheaper. Guess what? Ever been on couchsurfing.com? You probably have heard of it considering I talk about it in nearly every post. Well, couchsurfing is primarily for solo travelers. If you are travelling as a couple, you will need to stay in a hostel or maybe try WWOOFing. Couchsurfing, however, is most likely the best thing known to mankind, as you literally stay in someone’s house, make a friend, and get a tour guide… for free. It sounds like a win-win-win situation to me, but most places only take one person at a time.

4. Meet new people. Travelling alone is a fantastic way to meet new people, as you are much more approachable when you’re alone. I’ve met some amazing people who were travelling through my hometown alone. I’ve actually made friendships with people who have come back here to see me. Make sure to get contact information! I made a friend in Portland staying at an Airbnb, missed out on getting contact info, and now I really wish I had.

Anything I missed? Let me know your tips and/or fears of travelling alone in the comments!

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