Hi! I’m Jen! I’ve been traveling my whole life – mostly off and on. I’ve never lived anywhere but the US, and I’ve always had either full-time school or a full-time job (or both!). I have to fit in my travel whenever and wherever I can.
My parents took us on vacation every year when we were young. My dad specifically purchased a time-share week when they got married so that it would force him to take a week off from work. Since most of the destinations were in the US, and we didn’t really have money to spare for plane tickets for a family of four, we did a lot of driving around the country. He was also big on detours and side trips – that’s how we managed to make it through the 48 continental states by the time I got to college.
I remember buzzing with excitement the night before we were to leave for vacation – I could barely sleep! And I knew, the next morning, when my mom woke us up before dawn and carried us out to the car, we were in for an adventure. Even now, I equate the early pre-dawn hours with the unknown and the desire to explore the world.
And I got really good at travelling in moving vehicles. My dad didn’t want to deal with traffic, and didn’t want to waste any more precious daylight (read: sightseeing time) than necessary, so we spent many nights driving on the interstate, between one destination and the next. I got really good at sleeping in the car! And my mom taught me how to pack for a long journey – a mini cooler with some pre-chopped fruits and veggies; a few juice boxes and water bottles; some nuts or cheese or cookies; little sandwiches and lots of napkins.
Now that I’ve graduated college, gotten married, and moved to a new state (twice!), I take those same philosophies and apply them to my own travels.
- Travel cheap, but not stingy. Be creative with ways to save money on transportation, lodging, or food, and you’ll be able to travel more frequently than if you splurge on all travels. But be sure to spend the money where it is worth it (the cheapest motel might have bed bugs, the least costly tour might be a scam).
- Harness the night. While sightseeing between towns can be beautiful, it also can be pretty boring. I’ll take overnight flights, drives, or trains as often as possible to free up the daytime for better sightseeing. I can sleep on the plane pretty well, so why not take a redeye so I arrive at my destination first thing in the morning?
- Take detours. The tourist ‘traps’ are popular destinations for a reason – beautiful art, architecture, or scenery. But there are plenty of small towns and nearby destinations that can be as exciting as the touristy areas, and give you a better taste of the local flavor.
- Be prepared. My dad, brother, and I were all scouts. We learned that sufficient planning can get rid of 95% of the headaches you run into in a trip. Poor planning can cause problems to multiply. Have a little snack with you so you don’t need to pay the sky-high tourist rates when you get hungry, or have both a GPS and a map in case you get lost.
- Go with your gut. There are a few times in my life someone had an uneasy feeling and we decided to go with the gut. After a midnight bathroom break in Yellowstone almost turned into a ‘get chased by a bear’ break, I’ve learned to always go with my gut. If an area of town feels sketchy and makes you uneasy, get the heck out of there!
I’ve started to blog so I can keep track of my travels. I constantly have the urge to travel and see new places – I just want to wander the world. But I have a life to live here with my husband – and a job to go to every day – so I will wander, one day. In the meantime I just day dream and plan and reminisce!