Tag Archives: travel

The Magic of Getting Lost

As a senior in college, I find the question “what are your plans for after graduation?” completely agonizing. Although a little hectic with senior seminar, work, trying to decode my math homework, and trying to make it to the gym at least once this week, my day is going along just fine. Then, someone dares to ask about what I plan to do with my life after college. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know exactly what you want to do. If you’re like me, and most other college students, you have absolutely no idea.

So, naturally, I email my advisor immediately to make an appointment on how my life is going nowhere because I can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. As usual, he calms me down and tells me that I’m exactly where I need to be and that it’s completely natural for a college student to have absolutely no idea where they want to take their diploma. As he always says, “Look at me, I came in as a music major and now I’m an English Professor.” However, this time I came to my advisor’s office for my monthly freak out, he had something else to give me; The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman.

As someone who is very organized, a master of To Do Lists, and needs to have a plan for almost everything in her life, this book was perfect for me. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost is a coming-of-age memoir about the amazing journey Friedman embarks on when she, a college grad, surprises herself and everyone around her by purchasing a ticket to Ireland. Never having been to Ireland, the good girl who had always done what she was supposed to now finds herself in a strange new country, making friends with a free-spirited Australian who loves nothing more than a good adventure. While abroad, Rachel travels from Ireland, to Australia, and to South America where she discovers her love for travel; all the while finding her true self.

Not only was this book warmhearted, hilarious, and honest, but it offered an amazing insight into what it’s like to travel abroad. This book is a fantastic read and highly recommended for anyone who feels like taking a trip and getting lost for a little bit. Even though my advisor had assured me many times before that it’s perfectly fine to be a little lost right now, I never truly accepted that until I read Rachel Friedman’s memoir. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost taught me that it’s okay to be unsure of yourself sometimes. It’s okay to be lost. Rachel shows us that in momentarily escaping some of life’s hardest decisions and living for the moment, getting lost allows us to find ourselves.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

 

What We’re Reading

Upon reading Kim Dinan’s first book, The Yellow Envelope, even the most apprehensive among us may start to see that if you believe in the ability of the Earth to take care of you, it will.
After Dinan moved to Portland with nothing but her husband, two dogs, and a few boxes, her generous new boss offered the luxury of her home (and tours of the city!) to the couple. Jump a few years into the future and Dinan had her own home, a different job, and a seemingly perfect life; but she knew that she was missing out on the life she wanted. After talking her husband into selling everything and planning to travel until whenever they decided when, her former boss (now friend) gifted the couple $1,000 in a yellow envelope to help others throughout their travels. They only had a few rules with the money. Don’t overthink it, document it (or not) so that they might be able to see it in the future, and decide the amounts to give away based on how they were inspired.
Throughout their travels in South America, India, Nepal, and Peru, Dinan realized that every time something on her trip didn’t go the way they planned, a native aided them. She was most surprised by the generosity that was shown in India. Between losing a cell phone and traveling in an old rickshaw that was prone to breaking down every time she drove it, someone was willing to reach out without expecting compensation in return.
She speaks openly about how their travels challenged the relationship between her and her husband. The strain of being constantly together in an unfamiliar environment after being in such a stable routine for years put constant tension into everything they did. The distances traveled, the strenuous hiking, and the ever-changing landscape took them as far apart as they could be, changed the outlook they both had on the relationship, but ultimately brought them back closer than ever.
The purpose of the yellow envelope was to make a difference in the world, no matter how slight. It also changed Dinan’s perspective on life completely. Not only did she gain more confidence and happiness through gifting small donations to many people during her travels, but the reality of traveling to Third World places brought her to appreciate the smallest things handed to her. She loved harder and more often. She came out of the three years of touring the world a completely different person.
While not many believe in the reality of dropping everything and traveling for extended periods of time, Dinan’s newly identified lessons can be incorporated into believing in the humanity of the world. It does still exist, and we should not be so scared that we miss the opportunity to experience it. Visit Dinan’s blog, www.so-many-places.com, to learn more about her travels and where to preorder The Yellow Envelope, which will be available for purchase on April 4.

Written by Zoe Pierson

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Bella’s Floyd Yoga Jam Adventure

We spent the majority of our Labor Day weekend at Floyd Yoga Jam. In the mornings, a calm fog settled over the mountain as we awoke to the sound of a flute playing in the distance. Slowly, we made our way out of our tents, in search of coffee and the perfect spot to spread out our yoga mats.

FullSizeRender-2A sign on the trail reminded us to “believe in magic.” But, what is magic exactly? In a world where all that stands between you and what you want is a search bar on a tiny screen, it is hard to remember what we identified as magical in younger, simpler times. We were, of course, torn from those tiny screens as we made the trek up the mountain. One by one, our phones began to read, “No Signal.” Our attention turned to the surroundings, the people, and then almost remarkably inward.

Somewhere between our Thursday night arrival and our departure late Sunday, we felt the release of tension in our backs, our shoulders, and our spirits. As beginners, we worried that we would not be welcomed with open arms by those more experienced with yoga its various forms. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The instructors and fellow Jam attendees not only welcomed us, they inspired us to keep learning once our time on the mountain was over.

IMG_8675We can’t wait to go back to Yoga Jam next year! In the meantime, we’ve checked out videos and books from the library and scheduled classes to keep learning. What was once intimidating is now a deeply intriguing subject that we can’t wait to explore further. Thank you to everyone at Floyd Yoga Jam who made these beginners feel at home!

Gift Idea for Coffee Lovers

Tis the season to consume.

Especially coffee. As the weather gets colder, it is easy to pop into a coffee shop more than once a day to treat yourself and get that extra caffeine boost.

Don’t worry, we have no intention of telling you to cut back on your coffee. What we are concerned about, however, is the amount of coffee cups that are being sent to the landfill.

You’ve already heard the environmental reasons why you should recycle or use reusable cups instead of the disposable kind. What you might not know is that most coffee shops actually offer a discount to customers who bring their own cups. This is true for larger chains and local coffee shops alike. A few cents off each cup of coffee adds up, and you are also doing your part to keep our world a little cleaner.

20oz-tumblers Healthy Human makes it easy to do your part, save a little money, and look stylish while you do it. Their line of stainless steel stein bottles, tumblers, pints, and growlers are perfect for all of your camping and daily needs. They also sell travel pet bowls that can be layered and clipped together for all of your pets on the go needs.

61y06gTSsFL._SL1000_Visit www.healthyhumanlife.com to view their complete line of products for your entire family. These make excellent holiday gifts, and you can get 10% off of your purchase by using the code bellam10 from now until 12/31/2015.

 

Product Spotlight: Little Passports

Help your little explorer learn fun facts about the United States and other countries with Little Passports’ Explorer Kits for Kids!

Choose from Early Explorers (for ages 3-5), World Edition (ages 6-10), and USA Edition kits (ages 7-12). The first month you will receive an introductory kit complete with everything your child needs to get started with the program (based on which one you choose). For the USA introductory kit, customers will receive a USA Field Guide, Scratch Book, a wall-sized USA map, a welcome letter, and a disposable camera.

Subsequent kits in the USA Edition include information about the two states featured each month. Enjoy a 32-page activity journal, stickers and postcards, pop-out models, and access to more information and activities online.

You can win The Discovery kit AND one State Adventure kit from the USA Edition on our Facebook page!

 

 

A Guide to Last Minute Traveling

UnknownIf you’re anything like us, you probably like to begin planning for trips and vacations at least a few weeks ahead of time. But sometimes things pop up and you need to make travel arrangements quickly and cheaply. There is no need to panic if you are unable to peruse your favorite travel sites for the best deal. Your smart phone has the potential to help you plan your entire trip in less than fifteen minutes. There are many different travel apps that you can download to make things easier. Here are a couple of our favorite free ones:

mzl.xbhlyiabHotel Tonight: Finding a hotel last minute can be a hassle. You know what you want, and the price you need, but eliminating those that are completely booked can make this task seem impossible. Fortunately, Hotel Tonight helps you find a hotel where you want at a price that works. You can book for up to one week ahead and reserve your room for one week at the most—giving you a little extra time to look for additional options if you will be staying in one location for a while. The app tells you when there are only a few rooms left at a hotel, and won’t show you any that have no vacancies. They also have a nice little classification system. Hotels are ranked as “crash pads, basic, solid, charming, hip, luxe, or high rollers.”

6284824fa2dc70a3c213aa175a4ae0c6Couchsurfing: If you’re a more laid back and adventurous person you might want to try the Couchsurfing app. On Couchsurfing, you can look for people who have opened up their homes to travelers or you can open up your own couch for visitors. Couchsurfing is free; it is about meeting people and exploring the world, not making money. So it’s great if you need to travel but are strapped for cash!

There are many more travel apps out there. The best way to find one to fit your needs is to experiment with a few of them. You may also want to try Travelzoo, LMT Deals, and Tripit. Some of them can help you secure airfare, transportation, AND accommodations. Others have fun day planning and excursion features.

Unexpected detours or obstacles can make traveling a hassle, even if you are an excellent planner. So relax, pull out your smart phone, and let these apps take care of everything for you!

Written by Krista Knauer

Weekend Getaway in Lewisburg

In our June issue, we mention Lewisburg, West Virginia as a great weekend getaway for couples or families. A two hour drive from Roanoke, it has so much to offer including a rich history of which too many are unaware. The Greenbrier Historical Society’s Home and Garden Tour on Saturday, June 13 is the perfect opportunity to explore the city and learn about the earliest recorded history of the Greenbrier Valley.

One of Greenbrier Valley’s early treasure houses is situated on a bluff above the Greenbrier River near the Greenbrier River Trail. Built in 1796 of stone, this venerable structure served as the home of Benjamin Grigsby, the second pastor of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg. The site was beautifully located on a bluff overlooking the Greenbrier River. Reverend Grigsby left his ministry at Old Stone in 1801 for a new call in Norfolk and his property passed through many hands before becoming the home of the Totten Family in 1902.

More recently, it was thoughtfully restored by Richard and Judy Lewis as a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Later, the panoramic views and proximity to Camp Allegheny attracted Dr. and Mrs. David Hunt to purchase the property and make it their own.

The home features gracious living room and dining rooms with fireplaces and an entry hall with murals depicting local history painted by Judy Lewis. The superlative kitchen is state of the art seamlessly blended into the fabric of the early structure. Outdoor spaces are appealingly integrated into the terrain.

An example of the “noggin” used between the logs of the oldest house in Lewisburg owned by Glen and Carol Jewell.
An example of the “noggin” used between the logs of the oldest house in Lewisburg owned by Glen and Carol Jewell.

“Comfortable, convenient, and colorful” is how Glen and Carol Jewell describe their house built by Jesse B. Bowlin in 1784 on “Hardscrabble Hill”. It is the oldest surviving house in Lewisburg. It certainly lives up to those descriptors now that the Jewells have nearly completed their renovation.

Just imagine seeing exposed logs that were put in place before the United States was born; a fireplace surround from 1750; a dining room ceiling that has never been painted; and whitewash or bright colonial colors throughout. The modern kitchen has cleverly hidden conveniences and room for a gourmet cook.

Many of the special touches were created by Mr. Jewel whose skill as a wood worker is apparent in the furniture he has made as well as his ability to add modern conveniences while making them look like they belong.

Mrs. Jewell’s love of fine fabric is apparent in the upholstery materials and window treatments. She had one room painted to showcase a set of crewel bed hangings which will soon be installed.

For more information on the tour, please call the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304-645-3398. Tickets, available at the North House Museum and the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, are $50 for the gala on Friday evening, $30 for the Homes tour on Saturday, and $10 for the church tour and concert on Sunday afternoon. A combination ticket can be purchased for $80. The lunch at the church is a separately ticketed event and tickets are available for $10. Both the gala and church lunch tickets must be purchased in advance and by Monday, June 8Saturday Home Tour tickets and Sunday Church Tour and Concert tickets may be purchased at the door.

Be sure to pick up a copy of our June Travel issue for more great weekend trip ideas to consider this summer!