R: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (May 2014)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day R, I went with this awesome shot of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. I think it's been one of my favorite cities to explore there. I loved climbing up on the wall that surrounds the city to get a better view of it.

Other places I considered for this post: ???

Onward –

52. Do you prefer solo travel or with someone else?

I've never done solo travel, but I think I would always prefer to travel with someone else. Yes, I can definitely see how there would be benefits to solo travel – being forced to think on your feet, potentially trying to work out how to ask for something in a language you aren't familiar with, being able to explore whatever you want whenever you want to, having the opportunity to eat exactly what you want for dinner…

BUT.

There is an absolute beauty in traveling with other people. I'm not just talking about opening a bottle of wine for a picnic with friends while watching the sunset in Italy.


No. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the struggle you face in the planning of travel and in the execution of said travel. It's like Ryan Gosling, as Sebastian, explained in the movie La La Land: "It's conflict and it's compromise. It's new every time. It's brand new {...}. Very, very exciting!"

I love that traveling with people gives me new perspectives and challenges my way of thinking; it puts me in uncomfortable situations and forces me to deal with it.

Of course, it gets more complicated and confusing (and exciting!) when you attempt to travel with people who have a different cultural background than yourself.

In the end, I think what you learn and gain from the experience is absolutely beautiful. You have a deeper connection with the people you've traveled with, which, depending on your attitude toward the whole event, is either a good or bad thing. (Hopefully good!)

So, yeah. Groups are where I am at. Or even just trying to compromise with my husband.

Anyone have a preference for solo travel that they want to explain to me?

53. Is there anything you always do before you leave home?

Clean.

I try to make sure there are no dishes in the dishwasher, no lingering clothing that needs to be washed, no sheets and towels are left dirty, that the floor is vacuumed and mopped, that we are leaving the bathroom looking pristine, and that the trash emptied. (No one wants to come back to bugs!)

I know this sounds weird, but I am always afraid I will die while traveling and I don't want family and friends coming into my home thinking "Dang! She was messy!" 😂

54. Do you think you will stay friends with the people you've met while traveling?

Most of them, no. It's really sad because there are a lot of great people out in the world! I would love to stay in touch!

Anyone I've met while traveling that I previously knew through online connections, sure. I mean by meeting haven't we given the relationship more depth? There is knowing someone through their words alone and then knowing someone through their actions. If you've experienced both, I feel like you have the opportunity to really get to know a person on a truly deep level.

Again though, it all comes down to both parties involved, though. If, for example, I want to continue to develop my relationship with someone but that other person doesn't? It doesn't matter what I want. Both people have to want it.

So, yeah. If you can maintain friendships with people you've met while traveling, I think you totally should! It's a great way to develop character and learn more about the world. But if you can't, don't sweat it.

Have you ever experienced travel with another party? Family, friends…? Did you find beauty in compromise? Or were you ready for a break from them before your trip had even begun?! 😳


See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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Q: Québec City, Canada

Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral: Québec City, Canada (December 2016)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day Q, I decided to go with this shot of a stained glass window in Québec. I was trying to only post images I hadn't shared on my blog before … or images that I had shared before but that I was able to re-edit and make look better. I tend to focus most of my post images on location shots – like an exterior shot. I'm very particular about which interior shots I share, because there is only so much room for it on a blog post! And you all only have so much interest in seeing them. 

Other places I considered for this post: I can't think of any other Q places I've been to!

On to today's questions –

49. What's the worst piece of travel advice you have ever received?

Every time we ask for advice about when we should arrive at the airport, it's usually wrong. 

We once were told we could arrive at CDG one hour before departure and be fine. While we wouldn't typically follow that advice, we also had limited time for returning a rental car in "as good of condition or better" than we rented it in. So, we pushed our limits. BIG mistake. HUGE. Don't do that.😛

When we were visiting Sharm-El-Sheikh, we noticed the airport was tiny, so we asked hotel staff how early they thought we should arrive at the airport for our domestic flight to Cairo. They told us an hour. Once again, I got distracted – this time shooting the beauty of Sharm! We departed for the airport approximately an hour before we needed to board our plane. Then we saw the line. 😳 Trying not to freak, we jumped into line. We stood there for nearly 30 minutes with the line not moving. Then, we heard someone shouting "Anyone going to Cairo?" We rushed to the front of the line "Yes! Yes!" They asked for our tickets (the only flight tickets for our entire trip that we had been given in advance), which we temporarily struggled to find (another minor freak out) and then began going through security. Much to our surprise, we actually made it onto our flight to Cairo checked bags and all with only 30 minutes actually spent in the airport and a lot of time spent freaking out in line.

So, while we've generally gotten in trouble for listening to people regarding airport time tables, there was one time when we were wrong and the people we listened to were right. As it turns out, in Lana'i City, the airport opens as a specific time and not a minute before. Even if your goal is to arrive two hours before your domestic flight back to the mainland, you will not be able to get through security until the airport opens. And with two terminals, they don't let you go through security, even when the airport is open, until only about 30 minutes before your flight takes off. In this case, the cab driver we talked to was correct in saying we would be fine only allowing an hour at the airport. I guess it all depends on the city you are visiting, the time of year, and your comfort levels.

50. How much stuff have you lost while traveling?

I lost some of my favorite hair clips while traveling. That was a little devastating because I had had them since high school. I'm not really good at keeping track of my things, though, so it was inevitable that it would happen someday.

I've also lost (or left behind) $100 headphones, cell phone chargers, camera battery chargers, camera batteries, etc… When I unplug my phone from being charged or take a necklace off my neck, I have to put it in my luggage right away or it runs the risk of being left behind.

When you are packing it's a good idea to only bring things you are comfortable losing. And always double check your hotel room to see if you left anything behind! Check under the bed, in drawers, etc… In fact, ideally, just don't use the drawers. You are more likely to see any items you are leaving behind if they are out on surface areas rather than put away.

51. Which religious or spiritual site you've visited has been your favorite?

Justin and I went to the Mustafa Mosque in Sharm-El-Sheikh right after we visited The Heavenly Cathedral. While I do love seeing the insides of beautiful churches, I think my favorite spiritual site view was seeing this mosque as the sun was going down. We weren't actually allowed to enter because they were doing their five o'clock prayer but was nice seeing the gorgeous sunset, hearing the beautiful call to prayer, and taking in the architecture that made up the building. It was an experience unto itself.

Have you ever received really bad advice that you followed? What happened?



See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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P: Paris, France

Passage du Grand Cerf: Paris, France (May 2014)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day P, I went with this shot of a passage in Paris, France. I don't even remember exploring it, but I have this image… 😳 Maybe one day I'll go back and purposefully explore all of the many passageways of Paris.

Other places I considered for this post: Pensacola (FL), Prague (Czech Republic), Pearl Harbor (O'ahu, Hawai'i), Panama City Beach (FL), Potsdam (Germany), Porto Venere (Italy), Pacifica (CA)

Onward –

46. What songs are on your travel playlist?

Usually, when I'm listening to music, I'm listening to Pandora, so I don't really do "playlists".

Obviously, Pandora doesn't really work overseas unless you have a wifi hot spot. In those cases, I tend to drag along the iPod my husband got me when we were in college. I'm not sure when I last put music on the iPod. In the time since I have lost all of my mp3s (dead hard drive), so I can't really change out the music I have on there unless I buy all of my music again. (Or upload all of the CDs I have. – Anyone remember CDs?)

If we are on a road trip in the states, I throw some headphones on while my husband listens to podcasts. I will listen to almost anything and what I choose depends entirely on my mood. Recently, I've been listening to lots of 90s pop, but I will also listen to alternative rock, classic rock, oldies, jazz, soft rock, soundtracks, etc, etc… Rap is the only thing I really can't deal with.

47. What's the most reliable source of travel advice?

I usually start all travel planning with The Points Guy. Then, I move on to Visit A City and see what they recommend. Time-dependent, I love to get books from the bookstore to peruse (DK Eyewitness tend to be my favorite), chat on Twitter during travel chats, and research the heck out of Google. If I know someone who has been there before, I will definitely be in contact with them. On my last trip to LA (April 2017), on the way to the airport, I was still researching! Our Uber driver had lived in LA for a number of years, so as she was driving, my husband and I would ask her questions about what we should see/do/eat, and I was furiously typing notes out on my phone as quickly as I could knowing that with our itinerary we probably wouldn't get to follow any of her suggestions but maybe with a little luck we could squeeze one or two in?

48. How did your relatives feel about your last trip?

Our last trip was a three-day weekend to Miami, Florida. We didn't hear too much from them nor did we ask.

The trip before that, when we went to Egypt, France, and Germany, we got an ear full. We were leaving on Christmas Day which is always a bit of a controversy. ("You don't want to spend Christmas Day with us?!") Then the travel to Egypt was also pretty controversial. Our family was really worried that we wouldn't make it back alive.

So, while our parents were excited about our first trip to Europe, they have since begun questioning our choices. I guess this is one more stressful topic that bloggers don't talk about – how traveling affects the way your family sees you.

To that I say: you do you. You only have one life and if your family doesn't approve of your choices, then so be it. If their approval is important, listen. If it's not, if what you want to do is the better choice for you, do that instead.

I am grateful to have friends that live all over the world. I am grateful to have been invited to weddings in so many different places. The least I can do is be there for my friends. I live near my family; they can see me whenever they want. Who knows how many more times I will be able to see my friends before it becomes too hard?

Have you ever done something your family has disapproved of because it wasn't the right choice for you? Tell me about some of your favorite tunes; I'd love to listen to find something new to listen to!


See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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O: O'ahu, HI

O'ahu, Hawai'i (February 2017)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day O, I decided to edit an image from Hawai'i, because I'm trying to cover as many different places from all over the world as possible in this A-Z challenge. Plus, O'ahu is absolutely gorgeous.

Other places I considered for this post: Orange Beach (AL)

On to today's questions –

43. What is the most beautiful beach you have ever set foot on?

I may be a little partial but I very much enjoyed my last evening in Hawai'i at Banzai Pipeline/Ehukai Beach Park. The waves were so huge, much bigger than any I had ever seen on the east coast! The area is known as a popular place for surfers, especially during the winter, which was when we were there. We watched the sunset and simply relaxed after a week of going, going, going. Rain was rolling in, so it wasn't the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen, but I think I needed the downtime which was part of the appeal of the beach. I'm sure there may be more beautiful beaches in Hawai'i, but, like I said, I will always have a special place in my heart for this one. ❤️

A beautiful beach I haven't actually set foot on and probably never will is the beach where McWay Falls is in the Big Sur area of California. I have heard that if you try to adventure over to the beach, you can get a hefty fine and possible jail time! From up high though, the beach is absolutely gorgeous and a potential dream come true.

44. What has been your favorite museum?

I am in love with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City! The first time I went I got to see Rain Room a piece by Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass. We didn't actually get to walk through, but we did get to walk by it as other people walked through the rain room. In fact, while we were there we saw a proposal which was absolutely lovely and super romantic!

Other artists we saw at the Museum of Modern Art included: Claes Oldenburg (guy that did the oversized food), Ansel Adams (black and white shots of national parks), Vincent Van Gogh (Starry Night, The Scream), Claude Monet (Water Lillies), Jackson Pollack (known for his expressionist art), and Andy Warhol (Cambell's soup cans).

Needless to say, I am enamored with modern art, so I was in heaven exploring the MoMA.

45. When you are at your destination, do you prefer to walk, take public transportation, or private transportation?

It highly depends on the destination. Usually, in cities (like NYC, San Francisco, Paris), I prefer walking. I feel like, only through walking, can you see different parts of the city that you might otherwise miss using any other type of transportation.

However, if the place I'm going to is really far away or if I'm on a time limit, that's when my preference for public or private transit heightens. I do not like to take stressful, fast walks through the city; that frustrates me. Also, if I have luggage, I'd rather just get to my destination than have to carry it long distances.

If you had the choice, what would be your preference: a beach or a museum? Are you a fan of the great outdoors? Or are you more of a city person? I'd love to hear in the comments below!


See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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N: New York City, NY

Top of the Rock Observation Deck: NYC, NY (August 2015)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day N, I opted for a view of New York City. Makes sense, right? It was an overcast day, the day we went to the Top of the Rock, but the view was fantastic anyway.

Other places I considered for this post: Napa (CA), Naples (Italy and FL), Nashville (TN), New Orleans (LA)

On to today's questions –

40. What's been your weirdest moment while traveling?

At a German wedding, everyone was like "Do you want to borrow some hose?" 😳

Why would I want to borrow someone else's undergarment? 😳Ew.

But I guess hose is a thing in Germany. Too bad I hate it. But I guess that taught me to always wear hose to German weddings. Or a long dress. 

41. Books + traveling?

2016 was my year of reading.

First, I read Anthony Doerr's All the Light You Cannot See. So we made plans with friends to go visit northern France. (That's where much of the book takes place.)

Justin and I also had plans to go to NYC that year, so I bought the kindle edition of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It was slow-going at first, but then it seemed like a completely appropriate read. The book starts off in NYC, which is where I was when I started reading it. Then, the book moves over to Europe as the main character searches for something from his past.

Both of these books were truly amazing and definitely inspired and improved my travel that year.

I definitely think books should influence travel and be enjoyed while traveling. Just do yourself a favor and get the Kindle edition; nobody needs the extra weight.

42. What has surprised you the most about traveling?

How kind and generous people are.

There was a guy in Egypt that made a joke in Arabic as the lens cap for my camera fell off the Cairo Tower. He was trying to make me feel better. :)

When Justin and I were traveling from Stuttgart to Paris, Justin mistook one of the stops as ours. Our luggage was heavy, so it was a big deal for me to get it off the train. Then, he realized it wasn't our stop right as the train doors were about to close. An Italian, who also misunderstood which stop we were at, saw me struggling and, at the last minute, grabbed the suitcase just as the door was closing. He complained "Das ist schwer!" as he sat it down. (That is difficult/heavy.) We thanked him profusely. :)

And then the Airbnb and VRBO hosts have been tremendously kind to us. Some offering us food/drink in their home with others providing us tips and giving us an itinerary.

While I may not have stayed in touch with too many of these travel friends, it's definitely been nice to see how the American perception of other cultures isn't always on target.

So I think that's what my biggest travel take away has been: try not to judge a book by it's cover. Try not to judge a person unless you've spent time getting to know them. Try to assume the best in people. Most people are kind.

Have you ever run into an unexpectedly kind stranger while out and about? Have you ever read any books that had you wanting to visit the places the author was talking about?


See other posts in this year's A-Z.



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M: Miami, FL

Wynwood Walls: Miami, FL (July 2017)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day M, I went with this fun shot of 3 women standing in front of a mural of 3 women at Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida. If you've never been there, it's a fun place to see and take pictures. Who knows? You might get lucky like I did!

Other places I considered for this post: Myrtle Beach (SC), Montréal (Canada), Mau'i (HI), Monterey (CA), Moloka'i (HI), Marseilles (France)

On to the questions –

37. What was your most embarrassing travel moment?

Going to the bathroom at the same time as a guy in Europe. Specifically, got water in my jacket sleeve and made a shocked noise thinking no one else was in the bathroom with me. 😂

Oops.

Guy friend says "what's wrong?" peeking out at me over the stall.

*palm face*

Embarrassing moments are a way of life ESPECIALLY when you are traveling and unfamiliar with the customs of a country. Try not to take yourself too seriously. We are all learning. ❤️

38. What was the most challenging thing you've done with regards to travel?

Probably just my first trip abroad and all that went into it. I booked the flight wrong because I had never booked a flight before! We were going to a wedding, so I practiced my language skills daily. But there was so much else going on at home: our landlord sold our property and we needed to buy a new vehicle too. We needed to get passports and do interviews for the GOES trusted traveler program. Then there was the actual planning that needed to happen. It was overwhelming and stressful.

Booking a flight from Cairo to Sharm-El-Sheikh and back was also really difficult. It felt like I needed insider knowledge. But I didn't cry over that… Throw my computer, maybe. 😉

Learning a new language when you are shy is incredibly frustrating and tear-inducing. I have to push myself to just keep trying. Giving up is not an option. 🙂

Every trip is different. Sometimes everything will go perfectly, and sometimes nothing will. You just have to be willing to go along for the ride.

39. Which place that you've traveled to has had the best weather?

I'm a little partial to any weather that stays between 60º and 80ºF. Hawai'i was pretty great in that regard. An open-air airport all year 'round? WIN! Sharm-El-Sheikh was on the verge of being hot but also pretty comfortable considering. France in the summer is warm but not terrible.

Rather than continuing on about the good weather, here are a few places with miserable weather:

• Orlando, all year. The humidity is miserable.
• Miami, FL can also be pretty bad (though April has some pretty temperate weather between 70º and 80º.)
• NYC in the winter is COLD … unless it's not. (I've experienced both.)
• Blizzards in Québec Canada are miserable. You can barely walk. But they are beautiful to look at when inside with a warm drink. 🙂

What are your thoughts with regards to weather? Would you ever travel somewhere knowing it could potentially be unbearably hot or cold? 

What is the biggest challenge you've faced when dealing with other cultures?


See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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L: Los Angeles, CA

cute couple at OUE Skyspace in Los Angeles, CA at sunset
OUE Skyspace: LA, CA (April 2018)

Focusing has been difficult the past few months, so I'm taking an alternative approach to A-Z this year: looking back at past travel, editing or re-editing images from travels before, and responding to travel-related questions. Hope you are able to join me on this journey to my past!

For Day L, I have this awesome image of the sunset from OUE Skyspace. There was a couple that got engaged the night Justin and I were there and I managed to get them in my shot. (It was an accident, but I loved it! How cute are they?!)

Other places I considered for this post: Lāna‘i (HI), Laguna Beach (CA)

Today's questions …

34. What home comfort do you miss the most when you are traveling?

My pillow and blanket! Specifically on trips where I fly.

If it's a road trip, I miss a lot less. Maybe just my bed as a whole? Especially if the hotel bed is uncomfortable. And my laptop! I DO NOT take my laptop when I travel. I never have time to do anything on it anyway, so why take it?

35. How many foreign words have you learned so far?

Not many. I think I could get by in Germany okay. Not great by any means. The German I know is extremely basic.

But! I've got even fewer words in French and Spanish. Commercials and memes in the US help with the Spanish. I can definitely order in French; I usually rely on my husband when we are looking at a Spanish menu. He's really good with food and knows what is what. I'm getting better, but I'm still learning.

As for Arabic? I know one word. Guess that's better than nothing?

I am familiar with zero other languages. I think I learned some for my trip to Czech Republic, but I completely lost everything the minute we left.

36. What has surprised you the most about yourself while traveling?

There is so much about the world that I don't know! Specifically with regards to different cultures.

While I think it's normal to not understand the world at large if you have never traveled, it's crazy for me to look back at old emails and see where miscommunication occurred because my life experience was not a match for the person I was talking to.

An example? In Germany, you bring cake on your birthday. In the US, other people surprise you with cake.

That seems simple enough, but you can see how it could easily lead to a misunderstanding.

And cultural differences don't stop there. I probably could write a post about all of the differences and still not cover even half of them.

The point? I've learned I need to be open, flexible, and understanding when speaking to people from other countries. If we don't see eye-to-eye at first, it might be miscommunication.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, don't give up too quickly; there may be something there that you aren't seeing. ❤️



Travel has also taught me that anything I can imagine is possible. Money obviously helps. Generally, just the idea that you don't have to be limited by what you think is possible. Don't let fear stop you from doing the things you want to do. And … where there is a will, there is a way. If your heart is in it, there is very little you can't accomplish.

How are your foreign language skills? Would you be comfortable going to a country not knowing the language?


See other posts in this year's A-Z.

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