I Just Want to Travel

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I love to travel. There’s just something so amazing about exploring a new place, culture, way of life, that really makes me feel alive. I love wandering around new cities and getting lost. I love listening to people speak different languages and wondering what they are saying.

Every year my vacation days refresh and I begin to plan all of the things I want to do and see. My work is pretty good about vacation time but it never seems to be enough for me. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore!

Brett also loves to travel so we talk constantly about the next places on our bucketlist. In 2020 we really want to visit Amsterdam and Prague but I’d love to sneak in a few days in London. We didn’t plan a big trip in 2019 because we traveled to Florida, Arizona, Oregon, and Florida again. I think we will visit Massachusetts or New Hampshire in the fall though!

Travel is something that is always on my heart and mind. I visited Europe for the first time in 2011 and became addicted to exploring new places. There are so many places that I haven’t been and I’m looking forward to visiting all of them!

Do you love to travel?

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Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

 

 

Oregon Trip Part One: Smith Rock and Painted Hills

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Earlier this year I got the most exciting WhatsApp message from my friend Anna Sophie! For those of you who have read my study abroad adventures you would recognize Anna Sophie from London.We met during our study abroad semester at Regent’s University. Anna Sophie is from Germany while I am from Michigan so we haven’t seen each other since 2015.

Anna Sophie’s message said that her and her boyfriend, Jona, were going to be spending three weeks in the USA roadtripping! Brett and I have flight benefits so right away I messaged back saying that we would love to meet them somewhere. We settled on meeting them in Bend, Oregon and then traveling with them to Portland, Oregon in June!

The months flew by and when June rolled around I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be reunited with my best friend! Brett and I flew into Bend on Sunday afternoon and expected to meet Anna Sophie and Jona on Monday morning. She called me while Brett and I were at Target to say that they decided to come to Bend that night instead! We were reunited at our Airbnb and started our wonderful new journey together.

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Brett went to Bend last year for a guy’s trip so I kind of knew what to expect. On Monday morning we headed to Smith Rock for a day hike. It was HOT and I was unprepared for just how hard the hike would be. I didn’t expect to be climbing straight up a giant rock when I’m as out of shape as I am. However, we still had a great time together and it was absolutely beautiful!

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I did not make it all the way up Smith Rock that day. In fact, I slipped and fell near the top and ended up scrapping my leg up pretty badly. It’s 2 months later now and my leg still looks pretty gross. Brett and I decided to wait for Anna Sophie and Jona and they made their way up to the top. I was disappointed in myself but sometimes I have to cut myself a little slack. I’m always happy to get out and do things instead of living in fear of another migraine attack.

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After our trek, we headed to Coldstone for some ice cream! Ice cream is my love language. After Coldstone we headed back to the Airbnb and got ready for dinner. Brett and I decided that it would be fun to introduce our German friends to hibachi. We went to a hibachi restaurant in Bend and they ended up loving it! After dinner we went back to the Airbnb, cuddled with our host’s dogs (including a super cute dachshund named Ruby), and played games. One of my favorite memories of Anna Sophie and our trip to visit her family in Germany was playing games together.

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The next day we headed out to the Painted Hills. Brett drove and I navigated but when we got out towards the Painted Hills we lost service. We may have gotten a little lost while we were driving but that was part of the adventure!

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The Painted Hills are amazing! I didn’t really know what to expect other than the google images that I looked up before going. We did a few of the hikes which were nowhere near as exhausting as Smith Rock from the day before.

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After our hike, we headed back into Bend for dinner. We stopped at this place called On Tap that has a outdoor bar and food trucks. We all got food from different trucks and ate by the bar. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better! We tried to teach Anna Sophie cornhole after dinner per Michigan tradition.

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Of course, our night was not complete without ice cream! We went to Bonta Gelato for some delicious dessert! You know a place is good when there’s a line out the door and Bonta did not disappoint.

Brett went to see his friend who lives in Bend after dropping us off at the Airbnb. Anna Sophie and I sat and chatted for the next couple of hours just getting caught up on life. We also had to pack to head to Portland the next morning.

I really enjoyed our time in Bend even though it was super short! We loved our Airbnb, the great food, and just spending quality time with friends who we don’t get to see often enough.

Study abroad was one of the best adventures of my life and I was so sad when it was over. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my friends again and I that was devastating. We’ve all kept in touch over the years but that’s not the same as seeing each other in person. Seeing Anna Sophie again was like being reunited with a piece of my heart. She understands me in a way that a lot of my other friends don’t. Even though we are from different countries and were raised differently she still feels like the friend I’ve always needed and wanted.

Part two of our trip will be posted soon!

Have you ever been to Bend? Do you enjoy hiking?

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USA Travel Bucketlist

USA Travel Bucketlist

I love to travel to Europe but never really take the time to travel around the United States. There are so many places to see in my own country but Europe is so exciting that I always choose to save our big trips for somewhere in Europe instead.

Today I’m sharing my United States Travel Bucketlist in hopes that it will inspire me to plan some trips within my own great country.

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Maine
  3. Boston, MA
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Hawaii
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Alaska
  9. Charleston, SC
  10. New York City
  11. Colorado
  12. Texas
  13. Salem, MA
  14. New Hampshire
  15. All of the National Parks

What’s on your bucketlist?

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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Our Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

Brett and I went on a bucketlist trip to Rome in October. I had been dreaming of this trip since I first saw the Lizzie McGuire Movie and it felt like a dream to be able to go with my husband. We started off our trip in Paris which you can read about here. I love visiting Europe because everywhere you go you are surrounded by so much history.

Since we ended up spending a day in Paris our time in Rome was shortened. I had read a ton of travel blogs and books before our trip so I knew that three days in Rome to do touristy things should be plenty.

Rome Travel Guide, 3 days in Rome

We ended up buying the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Pass which allowed us into the tourist places for free. We were also able to take a hop on hop off bus around the city as many times as we want. Rome has a great transportation system but we preferred to take the bus because we could sit on the top deck and see many of the sites from there.

Three Days in Rome

On our first full day we picked up our OMNIA Pass and hopped on the bus. We took one full lap around the city to see everything. I think the whole loop took about an hour which we didn’t mind because we were so jet lagged.

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We eventually got off the bus near the Pantheon and had gelato at a cute cafe that we had found while on the bus. We then walked to the Pantheon which was pretty packed. The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple that was built in 113-125 AD. It is known for the huge pillars that stand out front and the dome in the center. It is one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites. Brett and I walked around inside the Pantheon for a while just looking at everything.

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One thing to watch for when you are visiting Rome is the pickpockets. They are all over the place and like to try to engage you in conversation or will throw you an item like a bracelet and try to get you to pay for it. I knew that pickpockets would be bad in Rome so I invested in this bag from Amazon that if RFID blocking and has little clasps on all the zippers that make it harder to break into. The crowded streets around the Pantheon were packed with pickpockets.

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After the Pantheon we walked to Trevi Fountain which was PACKED! I would recommend trying to visit either early in the morning or later at night if you are hoping to get a good picture. We decided we would just come back later to get close to the fountain.

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We were pretty exhausted by this point and I was pretty sure I was catching a cold so we headed back to a restaurant near our hotel for pizza. We went to the same restaurant the night before and Brett had a 5 course Italian meal including tripe. He was so full!

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The next morning we got up bright and early and walked to the Colosseum. Our OMNIA Passes covered our entry but we did pay extra to have a guided tour. One of the best things about the OMNIA Pass was that we were able to skip the line and enter right away. The line that day wrapped around the Colosseum and the wait was already up to four hours by the time we arrived!

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Our tour guide was great! We had headphones so that we could hear what he was saying while we walked around. I don’t think it would have been as great if we wouldn’t have had the guide. After our guided tour was done we had the option to keep walking around and exploring. A tour for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was leaving in about 30 minutes so we decided to hang around for a bit and then join that group.

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ended up being my favorite places we went in Rome. Every tour of the Colosseum also comes with a pass to go to the Roman Forum but apparently very few people actually go. I have no idea why because it’s full of history and breathtaking views of the Colosseum and ancient Rome.

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The Roman Forum is basically the center of ancient Rome where you can see the ruins of government buildings, temples, houses, and tombs. You can go down on the streets where Romans used to walk and can kind of picture how life in ancient Rome was. I can vividly remember talking about the Roman Forum in a college history class so it was amazing to see it in real life!

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This was my favorite day in Rome even thought I was super sick by this point. I really just wanted to crawl into bed but being in Rome was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I tried to forget about my sickness and keep plugging. After our visit at the Roman Forum we had amazing pasta for a late lunch and then walked back to our hotel for a pre-dinner nap. We ended up having dinner at a cute pizza place near our hotel.

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The next day Brett told me to go back to sleep after breakfast because I really wasn’t feeling well. I slept in until noon and then we headed out for a busy day! We first went back to Trevi Fountain and made our way to the front. I had dreamed of visiting Rome for so long and standing by the fountain’s edge made it finally feel real.

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We then made our way to the Spanish Steps but it was so busy that we weren’t able to walk up them. We probably could have but I didn’t feel like fighting the crowd. They were really beautiful though!

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The most exciting part of our day was the after hours Vatican tour that we had booked through our OMNIA Pass. We took the Metro to the Vatican but ended up getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk really far to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. We were so grateful to have the OMNIA Pass by this point because we were able to skip the crazy long line and head right into the Basilica.

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St. Peter’s was breathtaking the say the least. Brett and I love to visit places of worship on our trips but this one takes the cake! I would 110% recommend booking a tour so you don’t have to wait in the hours long lines to get in. We walked around for a couple of hours and emerged ourselves in the history and elaborate artwork.

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We had an after hours tour of the Vatican Museum booked for 7 pm so we ate dinner near the square. I was so excited to go to the Museum that I barely paid attention to my pasta and gelato. We met our tour group near St. Peter’s and all walked our to the Museum together.

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Touring the Vatican Museum at night was so peaceful. There were many other tour groups there but no one had to wait in line and it was very relaxed. We signed up for this tour when we picked up our OMNIA Pass on day one.

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I still can’t believe that I saw the Sistine Chapel in person. It doesn’t even feel real! You are not allowed to take pictures but I can still picture the room in my head. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be!

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The rest of the Museum was full of amazing works of art. My favorite was this hallway of old maps. Each room that we walked through had high ceilings with detailed paintings and tons of gold.

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We went back to our hotel that night and packed for our trip home in the next morning. I couldn’t believe that our time in Rome was coming to an end!

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Our trip back to Michigan didn’t go exactly as planned. Brett works for an airline so we fly for basically free but are never guaranteed a flight. We spent most of the day trying to get on an airplane with no luck. Eventually we found a flight to Boston and ended up running through the airport and boarding just in time! It was truly a miracle. However, once we got to Boston to spend the night we realized that Red Sox game was that night and hotels were crazy expensive. It was fine though and we ended up flying back to Michigan the next morning.

This trip to Paris and Rome was such a crazy adventure. When Brett and I got married he put in his vows that we would have a lifetime of adventures together and he was right. I can’t imagine going through life without him by my side. I can’t wait to tell our kids about this trip one day!

Have you ever been to Rome? What’s the #1 destination on your travel bucketlist?

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