Roadtripping around the South Island of New Zealand with Mad Campers NZ

Meandering down windy roads with each turn giving us a glimpse of staggering peaks and breathtaking fjords was a routine that was easy to get used to as Caroline and I spent a week roadtripping around New Zealand in a Mad Campers NZ van.

One of the first things I learned upon arrival in New Zealand is how quickly the weather can change. While it’s a good idea to have some hikes in mind, it’s important to realize that sticking to a firm schedule likely won’t work out. We had a list of ideas and adjusted our schedule day-by-day based on the weather. Our Mad Campers NZ van gave us the flexibility to keep our plans loose and take full advantage of the good weather when it came. No pre-booked hotels, nothing holding us to a certain place at a certain time – we drove the van around and slept wherever it ended up being convenient. New Zealand is full of “holiday parks” where you can sleep in your van, so van life is quite easy.

Hike Outside of Queenstown

Our first overnight hike (which I promised not to disclose the location of) was a few hours outside of Queenstown. Five hours of slogging through mud and climbing over fallen trees led us to a peaceful river where we set up camp. The next morning we hiked up the river to the glacier for some absolutely stunning views. The hike ended up taking much longer than we anticipated and we didn’t get out until around 10pm. We were SO excited to be back at the van. We immediately cooked ourselves a nice dinner, drove to the nearest holiday park with availability, set up our bed in the van, and went to sleep. It was cold outside, but the van was nice and warm. My tired and sore body really appreciated the padding of the bed.

A Couple of Days of Relaxation

After our first hike, the weather turned bad and it rained for two days straight. We took advantage of the downtime to catch up on work, edit photos, and let our bodies recharge. Sometimes we ate at cafes and sometimes we cooked in the van. And let me tell you, sleeping in a van is soooo much nicer than sleeping in a tent when it’s raining!

Mitre Peak

When the weather got nice again, we drove down to Milford Sound. After taking a few photos at the sound, we got on a Milford Helicopters flight to the foothill of Mitre Peak. We camped there that night and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. We hiked the rest of the morning and got picked up that afternoon. Mitre Peak is a beautiful mountain that rises directly out of the ocean. It is peaceful and not heavily trafficked, so you’re likely to have the mountain all to yourself. Be careful if you hike – it’s easy to get lost near the bottom and it’s very exposed.

Gertrude Saddle

Gertrude Saddle has gotten extremely popular in the last few years – and for good reason. It’s a fun hike with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The hike is about 8.6 miles out and back and took me 5.5 hours with an overnight backpack and sprained ankle. The beginning of the hike is through some trees, but the remainder follows a river/river bed until a short scramble and then a boulder field before reaching the saddle. The trail is fairly well marked, though I did get briefly lost coming out of the trees on the way back. I’d recommend downloading the AllTrails map just in case. The beginning of the hike is basically walking over loose rocks, so if you have a bad ankle like I do, be careful! The scramble section has cables, so it’s fairly easy even if you aren’t comfortable on rocks. The boulder field is well marked with cairns and markers and if you follow them, it’s not bad. While Gertrude Saddle is very safe on a dry day, people have died when the weather has been bad. Numerous signs along the trail warn hikers of the danger. Do not attempt Gertrude if it has been raining! We were the only campers the night we stayed at Gertrude Saddle. It was peaceful, but very windy and cold! Be prepared if you plan to camp.

Why I Loved Traveling in the Mad Campers NZ Van

Our van was the perfect little home for our weeklong road trip. It was a great combination of convenience and comfort. We had the flexibility to travel as we pleased, but always had a comfortable warm bed, a mini kitchen, running water, and even a bathroom. I wouldn’t travel around New Zealand any other way!

The Perfect Five Day Cuba Itinerary

I know from experience that planning a Cuba trip can be intimidating. If you want to travel to Cuba but haven’t done much research yet, check out a few general tips here. Figuring out the travel logistics can be complicated and confusing, and itinerary planning isn’t much easier. There is not much information out there on Cuba. Websites are sparse or nonexistent. Figuring out just how to get from point A to point B isn’t easy. After A LOT of research, Britton and I went to Cuba and had an incredible time during our five day trip. From a show in Havana to waterfalls near Trinidad, we got a great taste of what Cuba has to offer. Here is our itinerary:

Day One: Arrive in Havana and stay the night.

Day Two: After breakfast in Havana, drive 2.5 hours to the beaches of the Bay of Pigs. Go scuba diving with a local dive company. There is beautiful shore diving and you’ll get a chance to see deep blue water and a vibrant reef. If you have your own mask, I highly recommend bringing it, as most of the dive shops have worn out gear and the masks are scratched and not easy to see out of. Stay the night in Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos is relatively small, and food options are limited.

Day Three: Drive one hour to El Nicho waterfalls. Spend a few hours hiking and swimming around this lush, tropical paradise. There are several spots where you can take photos and go swimming, and I recommend taking your time and visiting all of them. Try to get to El Nicho early, as it is a popular tourist spot that gets very crowded by mid morning.DSC09543 After El Nicho, drive one hour to Trinidad and stay the night. Trinidad is my favorite city in Cuba! The colonial old town and cobblestone streets have a historic charm and I could have easily spent hours aimlessly wandering around. For dinner in Trinidad, go to Cafe Bistro Madeley. It is hands-down the best food we had in Cuba. The chef told us that he developed his menu by asking guests what they would like to eat and working with the limited ingredients available in Cuba to come up with something similar. The food options are diverse and creative, which is hard to come by in Cuba. Better yet, there are labeled vegan options!img_1649-1

Day Four: Drive back to Havana. Have a late lunch at El Cafe – an open-air cafe in Old Havana with healthy food and vegan options. In the evening, go to a show at Buena Vista Social Club. Buy your tickets as soon as you get back to Havana, as shows often sell out. Buena Vista Social Club is a world-famous ensemble of Cuban musicians established in 1996 to revive the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba. The show is excellent; the food, not the other hand, is subpar. But the exceptionally talented performances will make you quickly forget how terrible your dinner was.

Day Five: Start the day driving around in a 1950s convertible in the morning, before it gets too hot.

Spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering around Havana before you fly out.

How to Get to the Wave in Arizona

After receiving a handful of Instagram messages asking how to get to the Wave, I decided to it would be helpful to write a blog post on it. Going to the Wave requires a permit from the Arizona BLM.  There are 20 persons allowed to visit the Wave per day. There are three ways to get a permit:

  1. Apply for the lottery online four months in advance. 10 permits are available through the online lottery.  The online lottery is the least risky way to try to get a permit for the Wave.  The lottery is done on a monthly basis and is open four months before your desired trip month.  For example, right now (October), the lottery is open for February permits.  The lottery has been open all  month and will close at the end of the month.  Then the lottery will happen and permits will be issued.  You can only submit one application per month and the lottery fee is $5 USD.  It is non-refundable; you don’t get it back if you lose the lottery.  You can select up to three date choices.  Use the this link and the following path to apply for the lottery: Coyote Buttes Permits – Apply for a Coyote Buttes Hiking Permit – Apply for Lottery Here
  2. Check for cancellations. Your chances aren’t good with this option, but on the rare occasion there are cancellations or open dates, you can check the Coyote Buttes North calendar four months in advance.  I’ve never seen a cancelled permit available online, but it’s worth checking.  Check hereCoyote Buttes Permits – Apply for a Coyote Buttes Hiking Permit – Check Calendar
  3. Apply in person the day before your desired trip date.  10 permits are available in person the day before your desired trip.  To apply for a walk-in permit, go to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah (745 E. Highway 89 in Kanab Utah across from Walkers gas station and Wendy’s restaurant) from 8:30-9 a.m. Mountain Standard Time -Utah- (9am Daylight Savings Time in summer) to submit your application.

Read more about how to get permits at the BLM website here.

Tips for Traveling as a Vegan

As a vegan who travels often, I have found myself seated with a plate of food I can’t eat more often than I would like. Attempting to communicate dietary restrictions when abroad can be frustrating and at times ineffective. Here are a few pieces of advice based on what has worked for me:

  • Learn the word for “vegan” in the local language.
  • Also learn the words “no,” meat,” dairy,” and “eggs”. Some people won’t understand what vegan means, even in their local language, so knowing how to explain it can be very helpful.
  • www.happycow.net is a great resource and will allow you to find vegan, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly restaurants in many places around the world.
  • Googling can also be helpful.
  • Chain restaurants can be nice. I’d much rather eat local, but if I have a choice between Starbucks and who-knows-what from a local restaurant, I’ll take the Starbucks, where I know what is vegan.
  • Stick to meals that are difficult to hide potentially problematic ingredients in – for example, while rice won’t contain any animal byproducts, bread and noodles can have eggs, dairy, problematic flour, etc.
  • Bring bars just in case. Pro Bars and Clif Bars are my favorite.
  • Don’t forget to special order your airplane meals! Make sure you do this in advance, as airlines often won’t bring vegan meals on a flight unless one has been ordered.
  • If you’re going on a guided trip, communicate with your guide in advance. Explain exactly what you can and cannot eat.

10 Photos that Prove Glacier National Park Should Be at the Top of Your Bucketlist

People often ask me where my favorite place to travel is. I can’t answer that question – there are just too many beautiful places I’ve been! Another question  I am frequently asked is what my favorite national park is.  Now that I have an answer for…in the US at least.  Glacier National Park has teal blue lakes, hiking trails for every ability level, plenty of mountains to climb or ski, and beautiful wildlife.  Below are 10 photos that prove that you should put Glacier at the top of your bucketlist (if you haven’t already):

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Touring the Great American Southwest from the Inn at Entrada

I received a complimentary stay from The Inn at Entrada and complimentary tour from ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours in exchange for writing a review.

We spent six nights in southern Utah and I still feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface on seeing this beautiful area, but here is what we did:

 

ATV Tour with ATV &a Jeep Adventure Tours

We started our trip riding ATVs around the desert. The views were gorgeous and our guide was knowledgeable. It was a great introduction to the area.



Zion

Most people think of Zion when Southern Utah comes up – and for good reason. Zion is one of the most beautiful national parks I’ve been to. It’s filled with red rocks, crazy drop offs, and beautiful water. The downside to Zion is that everyone knows how great it is, so it can get really busy. To avoid the crowds, we got permits for a technical canyon. Talk about an amazing adventure! It was a tough 15 miles filled with rappels, downclimbs, and sliding into pools. If you have the technical skills, getting permits for a canyon is a great way to avoid the crowds at Zion. We didn’t see another group all day!

The Wave

The Wave is probably one of the most insta-famous and iconic locations in the world, and we were lucky enough to be one of the 20 people to score a permit one day! For those of you wondering, there are two ways to get a permit for the Wave. The first is to apply online at the BLM website four months in advance. https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-passes/lotteries-and-permit-systems/arizona/coyote-buttes. The second is to show up to the BLM visitor center in Kanab and enter the drawing for a next-day permit. Either way, your chances of getting a permit are very slim. There are about 2,000 applicants a day for 20 permits. If you do happen to be lucky enough, it’s a fairly easy hike – about 3 miles each way, however the trail is not well marked. Please be careful and study a map beforehand. And don’t forget to bring enough water!



The Inn at Entranada

Last but certainly not least, our beautiful accommodation. We stayed in a casita at the Inn at Entranada in St. George. I cannot recommend this place enough! It’s conveniently located about an hour from Zion and right next to Snow Canyon State Park. The Inn in stunning. The staff are friendly. Every last detail is looked after meticulously. The property blends right in with its surroundings, and you enjoy nature even when you’re inside. If you’re ever in St. George, you know where to stay!

coloRADo

As you probably know, I have done my fair share of traveling.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see many places.  And Colorado is on the short list of places I want to live.  In fact, I think I’ll be moving there in the not-so-distant future.  Anyway, here are a few of my favorite places in my favorite state:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


Boulder


Garden of the Gods


Mountains


Rocky Mountain National Park


Who wants to move to Colorado now?!

Life Lessons from Traveling Alone for 6 Weeks

Six weeks ago, I boarded a plane to Iceland without a return ticket.  The preceding year had been a difficult one in terms of career-related stress.  It was my last year of law school.  I took 19 credits my last semester, the maximum allowed by the American Bar Association.  I also worked full time at a large law firm.  It was the first time my law school had allowed this.  Previously, full time students (12 or more credits) were not permitted to work more than 20 hours a week.  I often worked more than 40.  On top of that, I was studying for the Virginia Bar Exam.  During this whole time, I was not as financially comfortable as I was accustomed to being.  Prior to attending law school, I had a career as a consultant.  I had to sacrifice my salary for a much lower paycheck…and the same mortgage, car payment and other bills.  So what did I do?  Rather than adjust my lifestyle, I chose to work more.  I turned to Instagram advertising and beer/liquor promotions.  Which brought even more stress.  I’m good at suppressing stress and just pushing through it, so I don’t think I even realized how stressed I was at the time.  However, in hindsight, it had been affecting my health, my relationships, my work ethic, and my personality.  I just wasn’t myself.

And so I left on this adventure.  I wasn’t sure exactly what the next weeks would bring, how long I would be gone, or what I would do.  I had been so consumed with working and studying that I neglected to do any real planning.  I did had plans to meet up with friends in various places.  Well, things never go as planned, now do they?  I spent five days in Iceland with my friend, but ended up spending the remainder of my trip alone.


Despite this change in the only plans I had made, I ended up having the best six weeks of my entire life.  I’ve never learned so much about myself and the world we live in, reached such a high level of self-awareness, or felt so genuinely happy.  I could try to explain the experiences I had and the things I felt, by my writing could never do them justice.  No words could adequately describe the feeling of despair I felt as I was lost in Norwegian fjords in the middle of the night, followed by a great appreciation for the beauty of nature when I unexpectedly saw the northern lights as I was searching for my way, and finally a feeling of satisfaction and confidence after I spent all night hiking in the dark and finally found my way back to the parking lot.  Or the feeling of awe I felt as I wandered through the tundra in Greenland with no real destination and no other humans in sight.  Or the connection I had with Greenlandic sled dogs as I pet and played with them for hours every day (warning – these dogs can be vicious, and I wouldn’t recommend running up and petting them).  I can’t explain what happened.  I can’t adequately describe my experiences.  But maybe I can describe how I changed.

Accepting Things for What they Are, How They Are

I used to get really bothered when things weren’t the way I wanted them to be.  I’ve never been one to give up easily, and I took that to an extreme.  I would obsess over everything that wasn’t perfect or the way I wanted it to be.  I would expend endless amounts of energy trying to fix things.  At a certain point over the last six weeks, I stopped caring as much as I did before…in a good way.  I can accept things for what they are now.  Several things that had been really bothering me before I left are no longer the issues they were before.  I am either content or only slightly annoyed with them now.  I no longer obsessively try to fix them.  I’m so much happier like this.

Knowing Which Relationships Matter

I am so much more comfortable with who is in  my life now – and who is not.  I’ve realized that I now have some of the most genuine, good-hearted friends I could ask for.  I know that I have people who care about me and would be there no matter what.  I appreciate these people more than I did before.  Before I left, there were people I missed because they are no longer in my life.  Now, I see why they are gone, and I know it is for the best.  A couple of them have contacted me while I was away.  The interest I previously would have had in reconnected with them is gone now.  I had an ex reach out in the last week of my trip and say he wanted to see me and see how things went.  Before I left, I would have absolutely agreed to this.  Now, I know that he is nothing that I want.  I’ve realized that his interests in designer clothes and eating at the most expensive restaurants just don’t mesh with my far more laid back lifestyle.  He cares way too much about what other people think, and these days, I want nothing to do with that.

Understanding Myself

Spending so much time alone has led to a much deeper relationship with myself.  When there’s no one else around, you get to know yourself in a way you didn’t before.  You are your only company and while your good qualities shine, your flaws come out and stare you in the face like never before.  I felt this particularly in Greenland, where I had limited access to wifi, and therefore limited communication with my friends and family.  I was my only company, and this made it pretty difficult to ignore my flaws.  But self-awareness leads to self-improvement and this alone time has helped make me a better person.

Knowing What I Want

Part of getting to know myself better has been learning what I really want.  Sure, we all know generally what we want in life, but I now know what matters the most and what my priorities are.  I’ve thought about my career.  Although it is stressful at times, I love what I do and I need the mental challenge in my life.  However, I also love the mountains and being outdoors.  Although it is the idea location for my career, I’m not sure how much longer I can be in DC.  Life is all about balance, and I’m working on finding the balance between a satisfying career and being where I want to be.  I know what goals I have for myself.  I want a successful legal career.  I also want to climb mountains and travel the world.  I’m not sure how well the two fit together, but I’m going to do my best.

Finding Happiness

I think I’ve always been a relatively happy person.  I have a great life, and I certainly recognize that.  However, before I left, stress was consuming me.  I wasn’t relaxed enough to enjoy the great life I had.  All of that changed.  With every hike, my stress faded.  I saw new places, met new people, and learned more about the world.  I developed a new mindset and appreciation for life and the beauty of the world.  I feel extremely grateful for the amazing life I live and I’ve never been so happy.

I spent a lot of times on trains my last few days, slowly making my way back home.  I did a lot of reflecting on my time away.  I found myself smiling at the memories I made.  I found myself crying tears of sadness that this amazing adventure is over.  But I also found myself crying tears of joy that I’ve been so fortunate to experience life so well.

Six weeks may not seem like a long time, but everything feels different.  I left with a clear head, better relationship with myself, and greater awareness.  Most importantly, I discovered a deeper sense of true happiness.

A Relaxingly Active Week at Moa Alm Mountain Retreat in Austria

Balance.  When I think back on the week I spent at Moa Alm, balance is the first thing that comes to mind.  If you’re looking for a vacation with balance – in every sense of the word – Moa Alm Mountain Retreat in Austria is the place to go!  I just spent a week at Moa Alm and I left feeling balanced, relaxed, and rejuvinated.

Moa Alm has different themed weeks, so what you get depends on the week that you choose.  The general concept is the same for every week, but certain weeks cater to different types of travelers and focus on different activities.  For example, there are family weeks, adult weeks, and mountaineering weeks.  I went on an adult week.

First, let me do my best to describe the concept at Moa Alm – a relaxingly active retreat.  “Relaxingly active” may seem a bit paradoxical, but let me tell you that the combination of yoga, hiking, free time, and planned activities is just that.  Every morning starts with yoga and breakfast.  There is usually one planned activity, like a hike, for the day.  You are free to participate in as many or as few of the planned activities as you want.  Dinner is served every evening.  While you will have your own room and plenty of alone time, there is also a social aspect to the retreat.  Activities are done as a group and meals are eaten together.



The Balance between Relaxation and Activity

Moa Alm accurately describes itself as “relaxingly active”.  I could not agree more with this term.  Every day starts with yoga taught by Barbara.  Barbara is an excellent teacher and does a great job of catering the practice to the ability of her students.  I had an ankle injury, and she made sure to give me different poses to try whenever a posture bothered my ankle.  We also went on a hike every day.  The hikes varied in duration and intensity, based on weather and what we felt like doing.  Afternoons and early evenings were generally left open, and we were free to sit on the property and enjoy the scenery, read, hike on our own, go downtown, or anything else we pleased.  While there were plenty of activities to keep us busy, there was also sufficient downtime to relax.

The Balance between Alone Time and Group Time

I came to Moa Alm alone.  I wanted to spend some time alone to recharge, but I didn’t want to be completely isolated.  Moa Alm offered the perfect balance between alone time and socializing with the staff and other guests.  I spent several hours every day alone.  I went on several hikes by myself and had the time I needed to recharge.  However, I also spent time with the other guests and the staff, so I didn’t feel lonely and isolated.  We all ate meals together and hiked together.  We talked about our jobs, travels, and life experiences.  Everyone was extremely friendly and had interesting life stories to share.  We all had a lot in common and got along really well.  I exchanged contact information with and keep in touch with some of the people I met at Moa Alm!

The Balance between Guiding and Letting Us Go on Our Own

While I find overly-guided tours to be too much, I don’t like to be completely alone to figure out my plans.  Moa Alm offered group activities, which we were free to participate in or not.  Additionally, the staff were happy to help us plan things on our own.  Hikes were generally planned at dinner the night before with the managers Hubert and Barbara.  It wasn’t overly standardized and planned.  We could all say what we were looking for (like challening, flat, waterfalls, etc.), and Hubert and Barbara chose hikes that met our requests.  They shared interesting information about the animal and plant life as we hiked.  I had been traveling and hiking before I arrived at Moa Alm and I desperately needed a pedicure.  I told Barbara, and she helped pick a spa and made an appointment for me.  I also wanted to summit a mountain in the Alps.  I had no idea which mountain, so I told Barbara and Hubert I was looking for something not too technical that I could do in a day.  They gave me several suggestions, and I picked the mountain that sounded the most appealing.  They then gave me a map, went over my route options, warned me about the weather, and told me everything I needed to know.  I hiked on my own, but was well prepared with minimal to no effort doing any independent research thanks to Barbara and Hubert.

The Balance between Healthy and Indulgent Food

The cooks are amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  First, let me go off on a little tangent about how well they accommodated my diet.  I am a strict vegan.  I was so busy before I arrived at Moa Alm that I forgot to tell anyone of my dietary restrictions until about an hour before the first dinner.  And I still ended up with a delicious, three course vegan meal.  Wow – talk about being accommodating!

The ingredients used at Moa Alm are as natural, local, and organic as possible.  But there are desserts too!  Like cake.  A lot of cake.  I loved knowing that I was eating high-quality food but it was also nice to indulge a little and eat some cake – it is a vacation, after all!

People Who Really Care


Undoubtedly my favorite thing about Moa Alm is how passionate the staff are.  It really does make all the difference.  Everyone at Moa Alm cares about the retreat and all of the guests.  They love what they are doing and it shows.  They are more than willing to go above and beyond to make sure guests have a good time.  They all have interesting backgrounds and life experiences and are easy to relate to.  Even though I went to Moa Alm alone, by the end of the week, I felt like I was with a group of friends 🙂

I Can’t Wait to Go Back!

I had such a good time at Moa Alm.  It is by far the best retreat I have ever been on.  I can’t wait to go back…and I definitely will!  I’m thinking that next time I may try a mountaineering week.  If you’re looking for a relaxingly active week in the mountains, go to Moa Alm.  You won’t regret it!

20 Trips to Take in Your 20s

  1. Hike the Inka Trail: It’s more of a workout than you’d expect, but wow.  The views are stunning, the history is amazing…it’s the most rewarding hike I’ve ever been on.Inka trail.jpg
  2. Adventure through Alaska: Climb a glacier, explore an ice cave, go on a few hikes.  Alaska is wild and beautiful…not to be missed.Alaska
  3. Marvel at Igauzu Falls: I’ve been to many waterfalls around the world (Niagara, Victoria), but none of them compare to Iguazu.  Surprisingly, it’s not very touristy and still feels extremely authentic.  The towns near the falls are very backpackerish and laid back.  And you can spend hours upon hours walking around the falls – every view is different. 
  4. Go on a safari in Africa: Self-explanatory.  Search for the Big Five – lion, elephant, water buffalo, leopard, and rhino (but please don’t kill them!)Afria
  5. Party at Yacht Week Croatia: Disclaimer – I’m not much of (read: not at all) a partier, but Yacht Week Croatia is SO. MUCH. FUN.  Everyone is fun and down to earth.  It’s a great way to meet friends from around the world.  Added benefit – it’s not all partying, and Croatia is gorgeous. Also, cliff jumping is a great hangover cure.Croatia
  6. Take a roadtrip through the Southwestern U.S.: Go see the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce Canyon, Zion, if you’re lucky enough to get a permit – the Wave.  It’s amazing how many beautiful and diverse places there are in this area.Grand Canyon
  7. Find your inner peace in Nepal: Go on a trek, do some yoga, there’s something spiritual about Nepal and you can feel it even in the bustling city of Kathmandu.Nepal
  8. Take a trip back in time in the Middle East: The Middle East has history like nowhere else.  And people are more friendly than American news would have you think.  Oh, and go sandboarding!UAE
  9. Take a roadtrip up Highway 1: U.S. roadtrips really are something else.  And California is simply gorgeous.  The towns and cities along Highway 1 are laid-back, beachy, and everything you would expect of California.California
  10. See…everything in Brazil: From the party see in Rio to the stunning lagoons at Lencois Maranhenses, Brazil truly offers a little bit of everything. 
  11. Explore Turkey: Spend some time in Istanbul – it’s one of my favorite cities.  Then check out Pamukkale and Cappadocia.  Don’t forget to take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia!TUrkey
  12. Take a roadtrip around Ireland: Drive the Ring of Kerry.  Go to Northern Ireland to see the beautiful volcanic formations at Giant’s Causeway.  See the Cliffs of Mohr.  Irish people are so friendly!  And if you happen to be in Macroom, check out my dad’s cousin Con’s shop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKLHqREAFR8 He is one of the sweetest and most knowledgeable people I know!  He’s sure to tell you a good story or…ten.  Haha.Ireland
  13. Check out the Virgin Islands: From the tranquility of St. John to the hustle-and-bustle of St. Thomas to the the baths at Virgin Gorda…the Virgin Islands are diverse and it’s easy to get from one to the other.VIrgin Islands.jpg
  14. Go to Yellowstone: See Old Faithful erupt.  Swim in the Boiling River.  Check out the Grand Prismatic Spring.  Watch wolves run down the hills.  America’s first national park is not to be missed. Bonus: Grand Teton is close by, and well worth the visit.  
  15. Scuba dive the Blue Hole in Belize: It’s a deep dive (130 feet), and you’ll likely feel a little out of it, but wow it is gorgeous!  Make sure your underwater camera is made for the depth though.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  The other dive sites close by are equally amazing.  I’ve never been around so many sharks while scuba diving.Blue Hole.jpg
  16. Hike in Vermont and New Hampshire: New England is a special place and the hiking is outstanding.  If you’re a skiier or snowboarder, check out this area in the winter.New Hampshire.jpg
  17. See more green than you’d ever imagine in Hawaii: Hawaii is lush, to say the least.  Go on a few ridge hikes, relax on the beach, drive the Road to Hana in Maui, cage dive with sharks – or swim with sea turtles if that’s more your style, surf…Hawaii is a wonderful place.  Hawaii
  18. Walk around Amsterdam: Go look at the IAmsterdam sign.  Walk around the red light district at night.  Check out the house Helen Keller hid in.  I’m not a city person, but I LOVE Amsterdam.Amsterdam.jpg
  19. Explore Switzerland: Go hang gliding in Interlaken.  See some small towns.  Switzerland is stunning and those Swiss Alps can’t be missed.Switzerland
  20. Hike Gros Piton in St. Lucia: St. Lucia is one of the more pristine islands I’ve been to.  It has a reputation of being romantic, but I went alone and had the time of my life.  I met two incredibly sweet girls hiking Gros Piton, went ocean kayaking with locals, saw a black sand beach, and ate amazing food.St. Lucia.jpg