Why I’m Leaving the U.S. Early

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 ūüôā

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Hometown Series: Napa Valley

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

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

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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How To Plan an Around the World Trip

How To Plan an Around the World Trip

Planning an around the world trip sounds slightly… intimidating. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, especially if you are on a budget. You know it will be so worth it though – so here are¬†my best tips for planning my around the world trip on a budget.

1. Pick your “must see” countries. My very very top countries to visit include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Indonesia, and Australia. I am trying to do this trip using the smallest possible amount of money though, so instead of buying a plane ticket from Greece to India, I am considering either land travel or skipping India. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Choose the most inexpensive forms of travel for a trip on a budget. Land travel is so much less expensive than flying in a plane. Choose land travel whenever possible to save the most money. To get from Costa Rica to Ecuador, I will be taking either a bus or train. Because there are some pretty awesome countries in between there, and I have time, I’ll most likely be spending a couple of weeks in Columbia before heading to Ecuador. I consider these little stopovers “bonus countries.” Plus, land travel can help you learn the country so much faster, and it’s a great way to meet locals.

3. Mix up expensive and inexpensive countries. Pay attention to conversion rates and plan accordingly. For example, let’s compare two of the places I am going – Costa Rica and Europe. The conversion rate between the US and Costa Rica is excellent – my dollar is much stronger in Costa Rica. It doesn’t work out quite so well in Europe though. To balance this out, I will be either couch surfing or WWOOFing in Europe, but staying in higher end places in Costa Rica. My mom and both sisters are meeting me in Costa Rica, so we are renting the coolest house in the world to stay at while they are there. This could turn out to be the most expensive accommodation that I pay for my entire trip, but to me it is well worth it, as we would not be able to afford a house like this in Europe (without spending an arm and a leg), and I will be staying with my family – it would be worth it to pay extra for privacy.

Back yard w/pool & BBQ Island

4. Plan the trip according to plane ticket prices. I originally wanted to go from Peru to Australia. But when I looked up pricing, I realized it’s about half the price to fly from Peru to Madrid than Peru to Sydney. This means that I am going from Peru to Madrid instead of to Sydney right away. Being flexible can save you tons of money when planning a trip. I’ll now be spending time in Australia toward the end of my trip, instead of the beginning.

5. Speaking of plane tickets, has anyone heard of the around the world ticket? There are some massive pros (and cons) to this ticket. The best part of this ticket is that you can plan it all out and not stress about plane tickets any more. I love knowing that things are finished and taken care of. You can change the dates with this lil gem also, so if you decide that you’d like to stay in Croatia for a bit longer, you can! It can also save you some money depending on your circumstance. However, you must use this ticket within one year, and you have to start and finish in the same place. I will not be purchasing this ticket, because I will be travelling for more than a year. If you decide not to use this ticket, check out my post on travel hacking for how to save major moolah on plane flights.

6. Plan time to plan your trip. I spend anywhere from 5-10 hours a week thinking about where I want to go, checking flights, checking couchsurfing.com, and dreaming. I have a very vague itinerary of things I want to see, but I am planning on buying a plane ticket and going exploring. Depending on your type of travel, you may want to spend more or less time on this portion.

What do you think of my tips? Have any of your own? Please let me know in the comments!

xo

Amanda

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