Category Archives: Bella Features

Virginia Made

Meet Lora Cartrett of Tater Tot Trends

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

Tribe. Sisterhood. Movement. All things that today’s woman longs for and needs as she battles the day to day of balancing family, career, life, and self. Lora Cartrett, the founder of Tater Tots Trends, is no different. They are words that she never expected to use to describe the business. Yet, it has become everything the 35-year-old founder wanted her Concord, VA based trendy jewelry line to represent. 

Tater Tots Trends began as a creative outlet for Lora as she transitioned from working outside of the home as the director of a daycare to a stay at home mom. As her children were so young, she naturally began making a variety of unique and fun baby items. The brightlycolored and whimsical bows, headbands and bowties quickly took off. Between pop up shops in her mom’s home, craft markets and selling on social media, Lora found herself busier than she ever imagined. Then life threw more than a few major curve balls and Tater Tots Trends took a backseat to personal and family well-being. 

There is nothing quite like going through a storm that gives a whole new perspective on life. Lora’s journey took her down a path of insecurity, hopelessness, postpartum depression, devastation, and loss. In her survival, she discovered a new self-awareness that needed to be reflected in the business. As Tater Tots Trends began its return, the name remained the same, but the vibe was different. Jewelry was the focus and women were the priority. This revitalization was for Lora and every other woman who longed to feel accepted and beautiful wherever they are in the journey. 

Visiting Tater Tots’ social media pages, one can’t help but notice the diversity of women (and their daughters) posting daily photos wearing TTT. Women are complimenting, supporting and cheering each other on. They are proudly shouting that even though they may not be feeling their best or having the best day, one pair of earrings can evoke the TTT motto, Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful. It is a safe space to post filter free and feel a certain celebrity status throughout the day as likes and comments promote the “You go girl!” feeling. It is then that you realize, this is not just about accessories. 

“Tater Tots Trends is a movement. It has evolved into so much more than ladies’ jewelry. It has moved into a tribe full of women who empower and inspire one another!” 

Even as she sits on the first day of a beach vacation, Lora assures her customers turned sisters, that the TTT team will take good care of them in her absence. Her two daughters and son (whose nickname inspired the business name), plus her husband Joe (deemed her fourth child) will always take priority. The journey continues and storms may still arise but with a supportive family and thousands of “sisters” by her side, Lora is at peace in her newfound purpose. 

FindTaterTotTrends: 

www.tatertotstrends.store

Instagram: @tatertottrends 

Facebook: /tatertottrends 

BELLA MAGAZINE DEAL!

Use code BELLA for a FREE pair of earrings with purchase during August.

 

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer. Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com 

Take Me to Piccadilly

meet magnolia 

Written by Cassandra Kuhn 

In 2009, magnolia found its roots at a little booth in Black Dog Salvage. Starting just as a small-scale home décor and furnishings company, owners Jessica Durham and Lori Noonkester envisioned a broader future for magnolia and opened their first storefront in Abingdon, Virginia. Soon after the store saw increasing popularity, its Roanoke location opened at The Forum Shopping Center in 2013 to serve more customers and provide a unique alternative to interior furnishings and designs to the valley. 

In October of 2017, magnolia moved to Piccadilly Square and obtained a location that offered a larger space to open a Visual Comfort lighting gallery, a hidden treasure found in only two other stores in the state of Virginia. Jessica and Lori wanted to capture the essence of the fresh approach, as seen in larger interior furnishing markets, with their welcoming atmosphere and poised design. 

Each furniture piece found in magnolia is hand-picked from markets and vendors in the United States to ensure the most up and coming styles are provided to customers, something that is rare to find in stores. They also have a more personal approach, allowing customers to order an item that is not in-store. 

magnolia has a variety of bedding including from Peacock Alley, Pine Cone Hill, Pom Pom at Home, and John Robshaw. Since moving to their new location, a bedding display has been added to feature the brands that they want to showcase. 

Among the array of items found in the store, they provide custom upholstery from their hundreds of fabrics and finishes to choose from. To go along with the furniture, magnolia has a wide variety of rugs that can be custom sized and a selection of some vintage finds, as well as home hardware including drawer pulls and door knobs. 

magnolia is also proud to offer local authentic art pieces from Sandy Lear, Carson Price, Maria Driscoll, Cameron Richter, and Donna Tuten. Keep an eye out for magnolias various art shows throughout the year featuring works from local artists and talents found in the community! 

In addition to home décor, they also have a selection of handbags, candles, jewelry, and stationery to go with your newly decorated home. There is something for everyone at magnolia and no detail is too small, so stop by and see what you can find or follow @magnolia_

Young Female Writers Club

Better on Paper: An Introverted Teen Writer 

Written by K.L. Kranes

Hannah stands in the middle of the hall and pulls out a notebook, fumbling for a pen. She can’t wait. She has to write it down now. 

Pressing the notebook against the wall, she begins to write. The idea flows out as her hand scribbles fast across the paper. When she’s done, her shoulders relax.  She stuffs the notebook back in her bag and sets off to class.

At 16-years-old, Hannah Mullen of Mechanicsville, Virginia often feels this grip of an idea and the compulsive need to get it out on paper. On paper she can be herself. On paper is where she feels safe.

“I definitely use writing to work through my emotions,” she explains. “I use my notebooks for everything. I have a reading log in the front. I doodle. I write. It’s usually just whenever and wherever I get inspiration.”

Although Hannah is a writer, she doesn’t necessarily want to make an impression. She would probably rather tiptoe through life making no noticeable divots in the fabric of the world, at least not until she first gave each step a great deal of thought. But, whether she wanted to or not, Hannah made an impression on the Hanover Writers Club. Even three years after she stopped attending meetings, they still remember her, the 12-year-old girl working on her first novel. 

When I ask Hannah why she decided to write and publish a novel, she replies, “I just woke up one day and decided this is what I wanted to do.” 

Two years after starting the novel, at age 13, Hannah self-published Experimentals on Amazon. She didn’t think anyone would read it. But attention and accolades do not seem to matter much to Hannah. 

In fact, it becomes clear early in our interview that Hannah doesn’t like to talk about herself or tout her accomplishments. I get the sense she would rather have her nose in a book than be on the phone with me. Regardless, she is gracious and witty, even if a bit reticent. 

“I’ve always loved books,” she says. At the beginning of our interview, Hannah answers my questions with these types of brief answers. 

I quickly realize, Hannah, like many writers, is introverted. I ask her, “You don’t trust easily do you?” She answers, “No.”

I feel an instant kinship with Hannah as I too have introverted tendencies. By the end of the interview, I think I have won her trust, but I’m not certain. 

Once Hannah gets more comfortable with me, her personality begins to shine through. Although I can’t see her expressions, I imagine she is not quick with a smile, but when she gives one, it is meaningful.

“Sometimes I will go a whole day without saying a word,” Hannah tells me. “People expect me to talk. I don’t mind presentations or anything of the sort but socially I’m a wreck. People think just because I don’t talk to them it means I don’t like them.”

Writing helps Hannah cope with the social pressures of being an introvert in an extroverted world. When she writes, Hannah can carefully craft her words in a way that eludes her when speaking. 

“I can erase my writing and I cannot erase what I said. Sometimes I don’t think before I speak, but writing forces me to think,” she says.

Although introverted, Hannah doesn’t spend her days hiding in her room. She has starred in theater productions since she was 8-years-old and takes part in her high school theater program. It isn’t the spotlight that unnerves Hannah, it is not being prepared for it. 

“In my head, things aren’t really thought out. It’s big word vomit,” she says. “I like acting because I don’t have to think about what I say.”

Hannah’s thoughtful mind translates to a thoughtful person. Once Hannah opens up during our interview, it becomes clear she has a big heart. 

“I’ve always been drawn to helping people,” she says. 

In fact, although Hannah finds writing therapeutic, she doesn’t want to be a writer as her profession. It is partially practical. She knows the obstacles and difficulties writers face. Hannah is content writing for herself and pouring her emotions into her notebooks or her poetry blog, https://angsty-teen-poetry.tumblr.com. 

Hannah is more interested in helping people than gathering followers on Snapchat or Instagram. She donates her time at a nearby hospital, assisting with discharges and stocking the pharmacy, while dreaming of one day becoming a pediatrician. Her voice thrums with excitement when she talks about being accepted into a program called SODA (Student Organization for Developing Attitudes), which helps teach 4th graders how to deal with peer pressure. 

Speaking with Hannah reminds me that writing is not just about getting published or how many people follow your blog. Writing is a deeply personal experience. Hannah doesn’t want to just be known as a girl who wrote and published a book before she was even in high school. She would rather be known for her thoughtfulness and how she helped people. She may feel better on paper, but I think we would all feel better if we viewed the world a bit more like Hannah.

Save Smarter – Financial Fitness for Youth

6 Tips to Guide Children through a Healthy Relationship with Money

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

With school out for the summer, the kids are likely hanging around the house more than usual. Your little audience is watching and probably soaking in more than you realize—which includes how you manage finances. Healthy financial habits begin at a young age, so what better time to teach responsible spending and saving than during a break from the daily grind of school? Here are a few ways to help your kids get started on the path to financial success.

Set an example.  Parents who make poor financial decisions like impulse purchases, excessive credit card use, or have arguments about finances only confuse children about how to make smart money choices. Make a point to practice what you preach by not only explaining positive financial habits but demonstrating them as well.

Begin early.  Once children start saying, “I want,” it’s a good time to teach savings habits. While they won’t understand compound interest or annual percentage yield, you can explain how we sometimes have to wait for the things we want. Delayed gratification is an important lesson to learn.

Give commissions, not allowances.  There is nothing wrong with giving your child money each week, but it should be earned. Have them perform chores like mowing the lawn, taking out trash, or doing dishes. This will teach them the value of work and prepare them for adulthood, and starting a job outside of the home.

Make it visual.  For younger children, give them transparent jars to keep their money in so they can see their progress. For older children, it’s wise to open a savings account with a local credit union. Online banking can help them easily monitor their progress.

Set savings goals.  It’s much easier to put away money when you know what you’re saving for. If your child wants a game or pair of shoes, show them how much it costs and how long it will take before they can buy the item. You can also show them ways to reach their goal faster by earning more money through additional effort. 

Explain responsible credit card use. As a teenager, getting your first credit card can be very exciting. Make sure your child knows how to use the credit card wisely and warn them that they should only make purchases if they can afford to pay off the balance each month. It’s also important to explain what credit is and how it affects their future—from buying a car to getting their first mortgage.

Financial responsibility begins at a young age. Use these tips to help teach your child healthy money habits that will set the foundation for success now and continue well into the future.

Flavors of Summer

Our new favorite local, handcrafted hot sauce!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Ryan and Chrissi Scherer, the husband and wife team behind Zen Pepper Company, are making waves in the local agricultural community. Born in Texas, Ryan has always loved hot foods. He began growing and experimenting with different hot peppers in his early 20s. Through this experimentation, he was able to discern how their flavors came to life once blended with other ingredients. In 2010, he began small-scale farming Virginia Tech’s sustainability center in Catawba, researching forms of organic crop management and environmentally-friendly irrigation methods. 

“Virginia Tech owns the Catawba Sustainability Center,” Chrissi explains. “They have great land that they lease to people trying to start small agricultural businesses. The center receives grants for sustainable types of tools, equipment, and practices they are able to implement. Ryan took a course that the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension offered a few years back called, ‘Growers Academy.’ [The course] was geared towards farmers who wanted to step into developing a small business. We both have been growing and gardening for a long time, and that was his first step in beefing it up a little.”

Zen Pepper Company’s hot sauces first appeared at the farmers’ market at the end of 2016. There, Chrissi and Ryan met new friends through the Local Environmental Agricultural Program (LEAP). This connection, in addition to the popularity of their products, encouraged them to continue creating and sharing their sauces.

As their popularity has increased, so has their knowledge and implementation of sustainable practices. All of their hot sauces are created in a commercial kitchen, and they consider the impact on the environment with every step in their development. Pepper seeds germinate in soil blocks that they keep in their home. The couple avoids using high energy grow lights, and puts their lights on timers so they can cut down on energy usage during the growing process. They also implemented drip irrigation practices, which reduces the amount of water they use.

“The sustainability center is a fantastic resource, because they supply the means for us to be able to do that,” Chrissi says.

2018 promises to be a big year for Zen Pepper Company. They are discussing expanding their presence at the downtown Roanoke Co-Op, and plan on attending a couple of festivals this year (TBA). Their business has taken off, and their most popular sauce, Ginger Habanero, is flying off of the shelves. Last year, they grew about four hundred pepper plants during the growing season. This year, they have expanded to about two thousand, and are encouraged by how receptive Roanoke has been of their products.

For more information on Zen Pepper Company including where to find them and the flavors they offer, visit www.zenhotsauce.com. Find them on Facebook at Zen Pepper Co.

Get Wild at FloydFest!

Follow us up the mountain for fun, music, and an experience you will never forget!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

It’s no secret, we believe FloydFest is one of the most magical places on earth. The 2018 “Wild” theme encourages visitors to be part of the magic and enjoy the beauty of the mountains around them. This year, FloydFest has new features to keep things fresh for returning festival-goers, in addition to the amenities we all know and love!

Entertainment will be divided among eight stages for FloydFest 18. Dreaming Creek Main Stage, the signature stage located in the main field, remains a familiar landmark. Additionally, Hill Holler Stage, the Ferrum College Workshop Porch, the Red Rooster Village Cafe, Children’s Universe, VIP Pub Stage, and Pink Floyd Beer & Wine Garden will return. The “Throwdown Tent” is a new addition this year, and will feature yoga every morning, hands-on demonstrations and workshops each day, and live performances in the afternoon and evening.

And speaking of performances—naturally, I am including a shameless plug for some of the amazing female-fronted bands throughout the festival! On Thursday at 3:30pm, check out the country and rock singer Nikki Lane on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage. Her third album was released in 2017, and her new music has been compared to Lana Del Ray, Jenny Lewis, Neil Young, and Tom Petty. Later in the evening, don’t miss Lindsay Lou. This trio will have you dancing by the Hill Holler Stage at 6:45pm on Thursday night! Their sound has been described as a mix of Americana, groove, roots, soul, and bluegrass.

On Friday, Lindsay Lou will play once more on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage at 3:30pm. Then, take a walk to the Ferrum College Workshop Porch to relax to the sounds of the Mama Said String Band at 5:30pm. This five-piece string band will prime you for an evening of dancing and celebration! The Broadcast, a soulful blues, roots, and rock band formed in New York City and developed in North Carolina, takes the Pink Floyd Garden Stage on Saturday at 12:45am. Finish out the evening with the “explosive vocals” of lead singer Caitlin Krisko. Fans of high energy performances by 1970s classic rock bands will love this set.

Saturday, head over to the Dreaming Creek Main Stage for smoky vocals of Nicki Bluhm at 3:30pm. Nicki is a singer, songwriter, and performer. She released her first album in 2008, and has toured throughout North America through the release of her subsequent albums, appearing at festivals like Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Newport Folk, and Telluride Bluegrass. Next, VIP ticket holders will have the opportunity to catch the sounds of Morgan Wade & the Stepbrothers at 4:45pm on the VIP Stage. Morgan Wade is famous in Southwest Virginia for her country, folk, and high-energy Americana sound. Together, the band delivers “an intersection of rock, country, and folk that reflects the beauty, anger, hunger, and hope of coming of age in modern Appalachia.”

ZZ Ward will deliver an unforgettable performance on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage at 8pm on Saturday. Her second full-length album was released in 2017, and has been described as “equally evocative of blues grit and hip-hop bounce.” Ward has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Conan, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, and more. She’s toured with Eric Clapton, and performed at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Made in America. Enjoy her set, and stick around for Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit at 10:30pm and the “Buffalo Mountain Jam” at midnight.

There really is no shortage of excellent bands at this festival. Fan favorites, Leftover Salmon and Keller Williams, will return for multiple performances. Government Mule will take the Dreaming Creek Main Stage at 10:30pm on Thursday. On Friday, Foster the People will play on the same stage at 11pm. You’ll want to stay through Sunday, as Old Crow Medicine Show will play at 6pm on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage as well. In fact, music and celebration will continue until 1am on Monday morning. 

If music isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures awaiting FloydFest guests. Last year, we enjoyed an “On the Water” adventure that included a catered lunch and three hours on the water. A 45-minute shuttle ride (either via school bus or 15 passenger van) will take you to the Little River for this canoe/kayak/tubing trip. Book your adventure for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday. Make sure to bring your sunscreen and waterproof your phone or camera! You’ll want photos from this excursion!

FloydFest will also host the “Merry Moonstompers’ Famous Belcher Mountain Beatdown” on Saturday at 9:30am. This guided mountain bike tour depends the Blue Ridge and finishes with miles of handbill single track trail! This is not recommended for beginner mountain bikers, but there are miles of beginner-friendly trails in I.C. Dehart Park to explore at your leisure. Bring your own bicycle and helmet. 

Both the “On the Water” adventure and the “Merry Moonstompers’ Famous Belcher Mountain Beatdown” have small additional fees and require registration. Check out the FloydFest website, or register at the FloydFest Outdoor Experience Tent onsite (if space is still available). 

Runners will also love the Back Country Ski & Sport 5k Trail Running Race! Registration is free, and the race begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Top runners in several categories will receive prizes. The race will take runners through parts of the festival sites and continue with two laps on the Moonstomper Trail. 

There are also hiking and disc golf opportunities for whose who are interested. Visit the FloydFest Outdoor Experience Tent for hours and rules regarding usage. 

Ultimately, you will get the most out of FloydFest by staying all five days. Trust us, you will not be bored. On-site food trucks, craft beer, and wine are available for those who are interested. Between sets, relax in your hammock beneath the shade of the trees by your tent. 

And, if tent camping isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There are additional options for your overnight stay including Solid Ground Shelters for Glampers, Dancing Dave’s Festival Camping, The Show Sherpas, and Ferrum College Lodge & Learn. Regardless of where you sleep, every FloydFest is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will have you wishing it would never end!

For more information on the festival, and to purchase tickets, visit www.floydfest.com. We can’t wait to see you there! 

Young Female Writers Club: Yasmeen Jaaber

Leading with the Written Word

Written by K.L. Kranes

The iconic Whitney Houston once sang of how children are the future and we should let them lead the way. Recent events have turned those lyrics into truth. Our children have stepped onto the world stage as the real leaders in the movement for equality and justice. Some speak out on television, such as the Parkland students. Others use a different medium, the written word. 

One such writer is 15-year-old Yasmeen Jaaber of Chesterfield, Virginia, who infuses her poems and stories with deeply personal experiences and ideas in the hopes of spreading a message of tolerance and love. It is the kind of leadership only our children seem to be able to achieve—honest, open and fearless.

Yasmeen started writing at a young age. In elementary school, she would come home every day and write stories on her sister’s computer. She’d always loved to read, but hated to finish a book. Writing gave her the power to continue stories as long as she wanted.    

At first, Yasmeen wrote what she called “silly stuff,” just for herself. As she grew older and entered her teen years, she started to view the world differently. “More issues became more prevalent to me,” Yasmeen explains. She suddenly found herself writing about her fears and hopes for America. 

As a Muslim-American and a black woman, Yasmeen feels it is important to talk about the issues facing minorities. “I need to use my voice as an artist to talk about something that really matters,” she says.

Talking to Yasmeen is like talking to a ray of sunshine. Her voice rings with positivity as she tells the story of how she made a video as a young girl in which she told her future self she would have a book published by the 9th grade. “My old-self was telling me what I could do,” Yasmeen says. This time-bending pep-talk exemplifies Yasmeen’s fearless, can-do attitude. 

Her younger self was also right. Yasmeen could do it. She recently published her first book, a picture book, through the Richmond Writer’s Workshop called Flea-Man. The book is about how a boy’s love of a superhero teaches him to learn to be himself. It can be purchased via the Richmond Writer’s Group website (http://www.richmondyoungwriters.com/picture-book-project/).

Although Yasmeen reveled in seeing her name on a book for the first time, it was one little boy’s response to her work that truly impacted her. “When I handed it to the little boy, he looked so excited and he ran upstairs to get his dad to read it to him,” Yasmeen explains. “That experience was really profound for me because it was the first time actually seeing the kids I was impacting with my story.”

Although Yasmeen oozes positivity, it does not always come naturally. “I often struggle with keeping a consistently positive attitude because it can be very exhausting.” It is not surprising. Prejudice has followed Yasmeen throughout her short life. “In school I’ve had many, many ignorant things said about my hijab,” Yasmeen explains. 

Like many minorities, Yasmeen feels as if she lives in a state of constant worry. The kind that makes her look over her shoulder or fear walking to the bus stop alone at night. “If I wasn’t Muslim or black or a woman, there’d be a lot of things I wouldn’t know. Being who I am, I’ve experienced things that have taught me lessons about being a minority in America.” 

Yasmeen channels these experiences into her writing, tackling topics many might view as controversial, such as homophobia and racism. Recently, she wrote a poem about burning the Confederate flag. It helped her sort through her emotions about the symbol, which she notes gives her shivers whenever she sees it. “When I finished it [the poem], it was more lyrical than I imagined,” Yasmeen says. “There was something so calming about it even though it was a crazy thing to write about.”

Yasmeen recognizes the importance of her role as a writer and how it can help change the world. “A lot of people just don’t know. If you grow up in a world where nobody tells you anything you’ll keep going as if what you’re doing is fine.” According to Yasmeen, writers have the power to open minds and change the world by sharing their perspectives in an intimate way, which is something Yasmeen does not shy away from doing. Yasmeen’s poems and stories tend to be intensely personal. 

One of the pieces Yasmeen is most proud of is a poem inspired by the recent #MeToo movement. In it, she writes a letter to the person who sexually assaulted her. “I felt the momentum from the #MeToo movement and I was so angry I had to get it out some way,” Yasmeen says. “I wrote the poem for myself, but I’m still insanely proud of myself for acknowledging it in such a detailed manner, and not breaking down. It’s really hard to talk about it, but writing about it is like going back in time.”

This type of raw strength to face personal injustice, prejudice and fear permeate everything Yasmeen writes. She is the type of fearless young woman needed not only in literature but in the world. She challenges the status quo, tries to help educate through her work and shares her own experiences to help open minds. Young women like Yasmeen Jaaber are our future and we will be lucky if they lead the way.

K.L. Kranes is a blogger and author of young adult novels. Her debut novel, The Travelers, was published in 2016 by Saguaro Books, LLC. See more from K.L. at www.klkranes.com/blog.

Single Girl Travel

A few tips for exploring the world around you this summer

Traveling alone can be a little intimidating. However, with a little planning and some research, it is possible to plan a solo trip that you will never forget. Keep the following tips in mind as you plan your next adventure, and check out www.lovelybella.com for more tips throughout the summer!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

 

Plan, then train.  Know approximately how far you will be walking. Work your way up to walking the distance you’ll need to walk to enjoy the places you want to see. Start small, and remember to stay active every day. If you work through the discomfort in your muscles now, your body will thank you later. 

Be frugal.  Traveling solo does not have to be expensive. For example, at the time this article was written, you could ride a Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) bus from Roanoke to Miami (one way) for $107 on June 1. The trip includes one hour (approx.) stops in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Savannah, and Orlando. The trip will take around 26.5 hours total. An Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) trip, with the same destination, was $157 for one reserved coach seat and takes approximately 32 hours with a three-hour transfer in Washington, D.C.

Want to travel outside of the United States? The trip may be more expensive, but you can still save money if you do it right. Great Value Vacations (www.greatvaluevacations.com) is a fantastic place to find and plan the trip of your dreams. At the time this article was written, you could purchase a six-night trip for one person to explore Ireland’s Wonderful West: Adare Villa for $916. This includes airfare, airport taxes, accommodations, full-size car rental, and tours.

Stay safe, but not afraid.   We are surrounded by reports of violence on television and social media. All of these stories can keep us from living our best lives and experiencing all that the world has to offer, but they don’t have to have such a powerful influence. The important thing to remember is to BE ALERT. Know your surroundings from the moment you step off a plane. Resist the urge to wear headphones or be distracted by your phone. (Really, you shouldn’t be scrolling through your newsfeed on vacation anyway). Being alert does not mean being fearful. In the same way that you would look both ways before crossing a street, be aware of the people around you. Learn how to avoid danger (and how to respond if it can’t be avoided) in Fearless by local author, Logan Doughty. 

Travel light.  Believe it or not, you can fit a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and basic necessities for one person into a standard backpack. This is great for road trips with friends or a small group, and it is even better if you are traveling by plane! As soon as you arrive, you simply throw your backpack over your shoulders and exit. There is no hassle in waiting for your luggage or digging through everyone’s belongings to find your suitcase. You are ready to begin your adventure from the moment you arrive. For more information on packing like a minimalist, visit www.theminimalists.com. To see minimalist travel in practice, check out www.thetravellinglight.com.