The $$$$ of travel is a question I get more often than not. And of course, everyone who asks that questions knows the answer: it varies.
But yet, it’s still asked, and that’s okay. I get it. How does a 24 year old travel the world?
Whether taking a short weekend trip to Northern Michigan or a trip across the United States, there are a few things I’ve learned about making life on the road easier, more enjoyable, and more convenient (especially when working on the go).
Desperate times call for desperate measures. No matter how much you’d like to pretend everything on the road will go according to plan, it won’t. And instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a last-minute hotel when that time comes, you can either pitch a tent or sleep in your car. Instead of getting frustrated, take it as an opportunity to sleep under the stars along a beach on Lake Michigan.
Especially as a writer and photographer, XFINITY WiFi Hotspots are heaven sent. Meeting deadlines and staying connected on the road is a tough job. Libraries are fine, but they aren’t always easily accessible and every time I use one I feel the need to change my passwords to all my accounts because of lack of security on public networks. XFINITY Hotspots are free to XFINITY Mobile customers or Internet customers with speeds of 25mbps or higher (if you aren’t a customer you can buy usage passes). It’s also secure and has millions of locations (literally, millions) all over the United States.
Now please picture me frantically yelling in gibberish at my computer on a bench in downtown Holland after my site crashed. Thankfully with technology like this I was able to access my information and get it back up and running in ten minutes. My breathing slowed and I was able to speak English again thirty seconds later. Win.
Sometimes the best places come with the lowest expectations.
Five years ago if you asked me to choose between a trip to California or a trip to Idaho I would have chosen California. Hands down.
I mean do we ever really hear about Idaho? What does it even look like there? Isn’t that where French Fries are born?
When I first ventured into Idaho I’ll admit it was for the sole reason to tick the state off my list. However, from the first night I spent in the state during Van Life on a cold February week, I could tell it was about to surpass my expectations.
In fact, Josh and I loved Boise so much we immediately considered applying for some jobs in the area. The downtown was by far the cleanest American city I’ve ever been in, the people were almost too nice, and the cost of living was incredibly affordable (which is the complete opposite of most of California, FYI). Beyond Boise is an entire state filled with peaks to climb, rivers to raft, and hot springs to soak in.
The vast, wild, and untouched landscapes of the United States draw millions of adventurers to head out on a road trip every year. From the Rocky Mountains of the west, rugged coasts of Maine, and bayous of Louisiana, there is frankly too much to see in America, and not nearly enough time.
So when planning a road trip in the United States—whether for two weeks or two years—there are a few important things you need to know.
Most places you see in famous posts are major tourist attractions. If you want to experience a breathtaking place (like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Golden Gate Bridge) with the best chance of solidarity, you’ll want to be there at sunrise. By midday, the magic of some of the nations most beautiful spots are dimmed by thousands of visitors cramming to get a glimpse on a narrow viewing platform.
I get it, when your alarm goes off at 5:00am your first instinct is to punch your phone and then yourself for wondering why you thought getting up at the buttcrack of dawn was a good plan. But trust me, there are many times I chose extra sleep over the sunrise, and each time I was disappointed by giving up a chance to see something spectacular in solitude.
From hiking on the ledge of thousand foot cliffs, slippery granite slopes, and white deserts, here are seven of the most insane and scenic hikes in the United States.
The first major hike I completed. It was hell; I’m not going to lie. Picture nineteen-year-old Shalee and her dad attempting a sixteen-mile mountainous hike when the most elevation gain experience prior to this was a 500ft sand dune climb. #RIPus
I think we were the last ones down from the trail at dusk, I slept with my face down at the pizza place we went for dinner, and I couldn’t walk for three days. But we made it and it remains one of my favorite hikes. However, I would like to return and see if I could chop my previous time in half.
The Half Dome trail is 8.6 miles one-way and gains 4800ft in elevation. In order to hike past the sub-dome a permit is required (yes, a ranger is there to check) and anyone who is caught attempting the summit without a permit gets a hefty thousand dollar fine. The last 400ft of the trail is a near-vertical cable climb. The hike is known as one of the most deadly in the United States because of this section.
Even with permits in place, the trail remains one of the most popular within Yosemite National Park. If you fail to get a permit, don’t worry, there are hundreds of equally amazing and less crowded hikes around the valley and within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Scandinavia might have words like menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene, and the winters might be brutal, but if you’re looking for awe-inspiring landscapes, friendly people, and saunas with beer, it’s a region not to be missed.
Consisting of Finland (which I did not visit), Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, the Scandinavian region is famous for a few things:
The prices may scare some off, especially budget travelers. Going into it I had no idea how hard it was going to be to stick to our $40/day budget. But, I think it’s important (remind me when I say this again in the future) to avoid traveling somewhere just because it’s known to be pricey. We still came out under budget and it became one of favorite places.
So let’s talk about why you should also visit:
It’s officially been a year since I declined a full-time job after graduation to embark on a life-altering adventure. I could write a book (actually, I am writing a book…eek!) about everything that has happened in the last year alone.
From the Cies Islands off the coast of Spain to stranded at border crossings between Greece & Bulgaria, to the beaches of Italy and the mountains of Utah, I have experienced some incredible highs, and of course some incredible lows. There were tears, and laughs, and bruises, and swear words, but there isn’t a single moment I would trade. I wish I could’ve brought you all along on the adventure, but I hope you felt like you were there with me along the way.
Below is a series of black and white photographs from my journey in chronological order. 25 countries, 20 states, and one giant adventure.
When we think of Europe we often think of the quaint coffee shops of Paris, pubs of Dublin, and gelato of Italy. Don’t get me wrong, Italy’s gelato=one of my closest moments to reaching the clouds of heaven, but it’s nothing I’d consider a “secret” of Europe.
Although I love France, Spain, and Switzerland, I wouldn’t say they are my favorite European countries. Instead, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, and Bulgaria are closer to the top. Countries I had little-to-no opinion of before I left the states.
Poland was a country I knew of, but knew not much about. It all started on an overnight train ride from Prague, Czech Republic to Oświęcim, Poland. The night before we’d stayed up until sunrise and therefore hoped this train ride would be empty and easy. Wrong. Let’s just say a six person cubby which included two backpackers (us) and a homeless person didn’t smell the best and we each managed an hour or two of sleep.
Other than a rough start upon arrival, Poland proved to be one of the cleanest, most affordable, and completely wonderful places we visited along the trip.