Category Archives: guest blog

From Margo…

November 4, 2011

Another great travel spot from Margo (catch her first post here)…


I often find myself forgetting we have many fantastic places in our own backyard I have yet to discover. I have been itching for a European vacation and would love to jet-set off to one of the many foreign countries on my ever-growing list. But once I graduated from college, like many others, I quickly realized summer vacations and two week winter holidays no longer existed and my vacation time consisted of three-day weekends whenever I could spare a day from work. Because of this, I have started making an additional list of places I would love to visit within our borders and think I would be content for a while with any of these options.

Source (clockwise from top left): Niebrugge Images, KCG Photo, East Coast Adventures, Grand Canyon National Park

From Lea…

November 2, 2011

Another superb round-up from Lea. Check her first post here in case you missed it.



Traveler Must Haves: For the Adventurer
Hi again! I hope at this point E Braun has had some awesome adventures and is ready to come home. I just really want to hear all about her globe trotting! So, on that note, one of my favorite things while abroad were quick weekend adventures. A couple hours on a train and you’re someplace entirely new. Since it’s only a weekend, you have exactly 48 hours to see all that your destination has to offer. For those of you with an adventurous side, here’s what you’ll need.

1. Get yourself a great camera. Seriously, if you are going to make one big purchase before a once in a lifetime trip, it has to be the thing that is going to capture the wonderful memories you are about to make. While you’re at it, pick up a Gorilla Tripod…they are the best!

2. Now, hear me out. Peanut butter is hard to come by in Europe, and if you’re like me this is a problem. I was craving it so much while abroad my adorable grandmother stole about 15 mini packs from a Perkins and sent them to me in a care package….half of which were smashed by the time I got them, but good effort! Solution: Pack a few Clif Bars before you leave the states. You’ll avoid the possible squish dilema I had, satisfy your peanut butter craving and can make a quick meal out of it while you’re on the go.

3. Rain gear. Well if Europe is your destination, this needs no further explanation.

4. Bring a good day pack. A pack like this is something I really wish I had. It has enough room to store a few days worth of clean clothes, a camera and any other essentials you need for a weekend.

5. Last but certainly not least, a journal. Next to a camera this, in my opinion, is one of the essientials to traveling. Sure a camera will capture what a place looks like, but your journal will remind you of how you felt when you were there, what the people were like, and all the other details that might otherwise be forgotten. Write as much as possible. My journal from Rome is one of my favorite things I brought home from my 4 months abroad.

Well folks, it’s been a pleasure. Hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve contributed as much as I enjoyed writing it. So for now, Ciao!

Source: images linked above, layout by Lea

From Angela…

October 31, 2011

Angela is my other half (notice how both my other halves are red heads, such a coincidence). We’ve known each other since the days of diapers and we’ll be friends until we are old and gray. When I catch up with family they always know to ask ‘How’s Angela doing?’ and growing up you would often hear ‘Is Angela staying over this weekend?’ in our house. We’re a package deal most of the time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


To begin, I should say I am not an extensive traveler. Growing up, traveling in my family meant piling all eight of us into a van and driving to see the Grandparents in Cleveland, Ohio. But my lack of actual travel hasn’t deterred me from fantasizing.

While many people look abroad to find new travel experiences, lately I have been a bit more focused on domestic travel. I don’t know if it is the fact that I have an income now or the realization that I am getting older and I should have some memorable experiences, but travel research has started to take up much of my time.

I live in Chicago and can get a bit overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle; the small town charm in a city is what my heart is truly after. On the top of my domestic travel list is Nashville, Tennessee. I like country music and fried food, so to me it sounds like heaven. Not to mention, I have a few friends living there which makes travel significantly more affordable.

Since I am a bit of a fair-weather country fan, (my love for country music only blooms when the weather is warm) I’m hoping to realize this dream sometime next summer when I can truly appreciate all that this city has to offer.

Source: Jason Atkinson Photo

From Margo…

October 28, 2011

Margo is quite the little world traveler. I’ve always admired her family vacations and the places she holds close to her heart. I am lucky to have her as a friend, especially considering we have the random roommate assignment software at Iowa State University to thank for our relationship. Margo was the first person I met at college and despite our various moves throughout the US and time spent apart she has grown to be one of my dearest friends.


My family has made an annual trek to the wine country for the past few years, all of which I have been unable to attend. That being said, I am extremely excited about my first trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley this fall. There is sure to be delicious wine and food, beautiful scenery and great fall colors. With the vast wine knowledge I am sure to gain at the wine tastings, the trick will be to retain it all!

Source: Mutineer

From Cassie…

October 26, 2011

Cassie and I met when we were five years old when we were randomly assigned as piano lesson partners. Through the grueling classes, recitals and practicing (much more on her end than mine, she was WAY better than me) we formed a friendship that will last a lifetime. I’m so lucky to have her as a friend even if she can outplay me on the ivories any day.


“In Paris, the past is always with you; you look at it, walk over it, sit on it. I’ve always been a bit of an old-fashioned girl. I feel good in old places.” – Lunch in Paris

Old things have always struck a chord with me. I would much rather watch an old film curled up on the couch than hit up a movie theater to see the latest thing getting blown up. My views on love and relationships are also traditional and would make any feminist drop dead at its mention; staying at home cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry with three kids on my arm is a life for me. And over the years, my fashionable necklaces and earrings and have been replaced with strings and studs of pearls.

So it was no wonder when I entered high school that I would choose an old love language to study: French–oh la la! Throughout my years of studies, I would snap pictures of anything I saw that looked like it would belong in Paris, though I’d never been. I found myself quickly whipping out my phone to take various shots of different designs of the Eiffel Tower. I was obsessed with Paris pictures and paraphernalia until the city actually became real to me.

Exactly a year ago to date, my French-loving heart boarded a flight to European soil. As our cab neared Paris jurisdiction, I knew I never wanted to leave. Not because it was a dream come true (though it was) and not because its sights were magical (though they were)—it was because it was old.

As I took a seat in a classic French cafe and ate my crispy Croquet-Monseiur, I noticed something. Parisians walked slower. They talked slower. They took forty-five minutes to finish a meal. Then they stayed an extra hour after that meal. And in between that time (other than smoke a few), they did nothing. I felt like I was transported back in time where there were no iPods and Pads and there was all the time in the world to get from one place to another. And they actually used that time.

America is faster. We have drive-thrus. We sit and talk over one another in large groups. We take too many pictures instead of enjoy the moment that’s in front of us. We rush from point A to point B and in our hurry we pick up a speeding ticket—and wouldn’t you know—we arrived at our destination early after all. I decided that neither lifestyle was better than the other. All I knew was that it was a change I hadn’t yet experienced–and I liked it.

New skyscrapers turned into age-old buildings and cathedrals made out of ancient stone. Buildings that took a year to assemble were substituted with historical sights like L’Arc de Triomphe and La Notre Dame. I found Jardin du Luxembourg surrounded by a palace, while Millennium Park was amidst noisy city streets. Old bookstores that have been passed down from generations tell stories that you wouldn’t even be able to find in a novel at Barnes and Noble. Massive, outdoor malls stood small next to the built-in-1616 Champs-Elysees. The vintage stores that I saw in America quickly turned current when I stepped into a true vintage shop in Paris.

Though I had never been there before, walking around the Paris streets and seeing these sights made me feel not only at home, but humbled. The history is so rich and powerful that I immediately felt smaller than everything. Paris is humbling not because of its size or expensive taste, but because people have the everyday opportunity to look at, walk, and sit on its history. Paris’ past is so embedded into the city that it is impossible to separate the two. A walk around Paris gets you modest—a walk around New York gets you sore feet.

Which is why, when I stood teary-eyed and awe-struck in front of my long-awaited Eiffel Tower, the last thing I thought to do was snap a picture.

From Lea…

October 24, 2011

Lea and I met in the Iowa State Graphic Design program way back when we were sophomores in college. When we both signed up to study abroad in Rome we knew we had to be roommates. We quickly became even more than roommates though when, due to some less than stellar sleeping accommodations, we became bed-mates. That’s right, Miss Lea and I cozied up in a full size bed for four months straight. It was not normal by any means but we did come home with some great stories!


Traveler Must Haves: For the Fashionista

Hi all! I’m so excited to be blogging for Elissa while she’s tromping around Europe! Elissa and I were roommates while we studied abroad in Rome in 2008. We had a blast! Lots of adventures and plenty of funny run-ins with the locals. If I could do it all over again there are a few things I would have brought that I would have got a lot of use out of. Of course these are the “dream” items, and probably not in the budget of any 21 year old broke college senior…but a girl can dream, right?

1. An anytime trench-coat. Good for rain, good for cold, and oh so stylish!

2. A good pair of sunglasses. Of course, I had a pair when I was traveling, but I didn’t have these.

3. A good pair of boots is a must! Rain or shine, they’re good for any outfit in fall/winter weather.

4. An over the shoulder carry all. I was surprised the amount of stuff I seemed to always need with me..passport, wallet, camera etc.

5. A cozy, go with everything scarf! Sure, scarfs are everywhere in Europe. They make great gifts for friends, and at a few Euros a piece they are awfully tempting little purchases for yourself. But, arrive with one you already love and you’ll save your pennies for something else spectacular…like maybe those boots we were talking about earlier.

    Source: Items linked above, layout by Lea

    From Michelle…

    October 21, 2011

    Anyone who spends an hour or two in conversation with me will more than likely hear about one of my best friends, Michelle. Even just searching through this blog her names comes up quite often! We’ve been friends since the awkward age of 13 and have gotten ourselves in more shenanigans than I care to mention. And as fate would have it, we found out not too long ago that our Grandmothers sailed from Prague (where I’m heading now!) to America together, so I believe we’re destined to be friends forever.


    It’s Michelle here! I’m filling in today for the little globe trotter, Elissa! Aren’t you jealous of her European adventure? Although I’ve never traveled across the Atlantic, I have taken a trip south of the equator to good ‘ol Peru! Have you been? The land is gorgeous and I have never met such kind people that were so understanding of my broken Spanish. My Spanish phonetics teacher once told me I had a ‘very American accent.’ This girl was born and raised in the U.S. so I wonder why? Anyways, I thought I would give you some travel tips and stories in case you ever wander down south.

    1. Take a camera with lots of extra memory cards. I took tons (I’m talking over 1,000) of pictures in my travels there. Most of the Peruvians loved having their picture taken and a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

    2. Don’t wear shorts through the jungle. Exhibit A: my bit up legs. It was hot and I had no desire to wear my dirty jeans through the swamps, so I chose running shorts. Poor idea. On another note, get yourself some anti-malaria medicine if you’re going to a high-risk area.

    3. Try the (cooked) food! Their signature dish is guinea pig and I did give it a try! It tasted like chicken. Did you know Peru has purple potatoes? Bright purple! Don’t drink the water, for the sake of diarrhea! I know from experience…

    4. Get yourself a good pair of shoes. I was constantly exploring, weaving in and out of towns, up and down mountains and my feet thanked my Keens.

    5. Meet the locals. They are the most welcoming people ever. I even got war paint put on my face from a flower. Everything got a little lost in translation and that bright orange paint stayed on my face for quite a few days after.

    That’s all folks! I hope Elissa comes back with stories to share to all of us and maybe even a souvenir for me…(cough, cough, I LIKE SCARFS).

    Source: Michelle’s own photos

    From Kelly…

    October 20, 2011

    If I had to choose a travel companion my friend Kelly would be at the top of my list. She’s spontaneous, energetic, has some fabulously curly hair (which is irrelevant in this context but fun nonetheless) and always keeps me grounded. She’s been fortunate to travel in the last couple years to Honduras, Kenya and Amsterdam, just to name a few, and always comes home with great stories. She’s definitely got me thinking about taking a more relaxed and easy-going approach to this trip. It truly is the best way to see a city.


    Traveling, for me, is all about cultural experiences – art, beauty, history, tradition. However, I’ve learned that there’s a time for purchasing $60 museum tour tickets in advance and a time for getting thrifty and living in the moment. Be it on the streets of Amsterdam or off the coast of Roatan or in a Lion King-esque valley of Kenya, the culture of a particular place is screaming out all around you. You see it in a street performer. You hear it through the banjo of a local band. It’s in the food and the interactions you have with other people. Next trip, I’ll opt to take a long walk over waiting in a long line.

    Source: Kelly’s photos from her own travels

    Gone Camping

    July 1, 2011

    The day has arrived! I’m hitting the road in a few hours for a Fourth of July camping extravaganza. My partner in crime for the weekend, Michelle, has taken over writing the blog today while I pack up some last minute things. She put together an awesome list of ten things you didn’t know about camping. I’m not sure if these are making me more or less excited for the days ahead… Either way I’m sure I’ll survive and return on Monday with a delayed weekend wrap up and some good stories. Now onto Michelle!

    Hey Bloggers! Liss graciously asked me to guest blog for her today. I’m not famous nor do I have a blog, but I do love camping! I decided to give all of you 10 camping tips/facts in case any of you are exploring the great outdoors this weekend!

    1. If you are camping in bear country, be sure to cook at least 300 feet downwind of your sleeping area. Baking soda will rid your clothes and hands of cooking odors.
    2. Instead of packing a bulk pillow, use a large ziplock bag, filled with air.
    3. Waterproof matches by dipping them in nail polish
    4. A skunk’s smell can be detected by a human a mile away—stinky stinky!
    5. Keep batteries in a prescription bottle for a watertight seal.
    6. To keep mosquitoes away rub the inside of an orange peel on your face, arms and legs
    7. An empty plastic soda bottle, cut off to a convenient height, will work as a camp bowl. You may want to sand paper the edges so you don’t get cut.
    8. Bugs hate fire, so keep a lively one burning especially at your camp during waking evening hours but also in the daytime if bugs are bad.
    9. Position your tent with the entrance away from the wind. You will be warmer in cold weather. You also want to be aware of where your fire will be so that the tent is not full of smoke when you are ready to go to bed.
    10. Last but not least- RELAX, HAVE FUN, and BRING SOME VINO!!

    Have a Happy Fourth, everyone!

    Source: TKoW, Moth Design, vineet kaur, Pinterest