27 Aug Don’t be afraid to get lost, because you definitely will

[caption id="attachment_2190" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Photo by Carly Peil[/caption] I remember my jaw hitting the floor when I first laid eyes on the biking utopia that is Amsterdam. I blinked hard, knowing I had to be seeing things. I shook my head in true cartoon disbelief fashion and continued to stare, mouth agape, at such a wonder. Mind you, I arrived in Amsterdam around 6am and was entirely amazed by the handfuls of people cycling the bike lanes speeding to work or home or school--I had no idea what I was in for come mid afternoon the next day. I've always loved biking. Growing up in a rural area of Michigan I understood biking as riding around the country block no handed in the middle of the road at sunset, no cars in sight. You can imagine how I felt arriving in one of the most bike friendly cities in the world: Amsterdam. Fun fact: there are approximately 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam and nearly 63% of Amsterdammers use their bikes on a daily basis! Wow. Once, while on a walking tour in Amsterdam, my tour guide e told me that there are some 7,000 bikes fished from the canals each year, too! Double wow. Fear not, because you don't have to be a native Amsterdammer to experience this magnificent biking city for yourself. There are over 35 bike rental companies in Amsterdam-- so for a relatively inexpensive price, you can feel like a local for a few...

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12 Aug An Ode to Chacos

[caption id="attachment_2198" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Ah, Chacos. Although it is quite a feat (hah, get it?!) learning how to adjust the straps, once they're on you are golden.[/caption] If you are traveling in the near future, here is a lifesaving (more like foot saving) tip: do yourself a favor and invest in some Chacos. To express my love for the most comfortable, durable hiking / all adventure shoe, I wrote this little ode: Chacos, oh Chacos, the most comfortable of all To be worn in the spring, the summer or fall You can hike, you can bike, you can climb the rock wall Chacos, oh Chacos, the most comfortable of all You’re pricey, you are, but now I don’t mind After feeling your straps hug my feet—oh so kind Your designs they are solid, spotted or lined You’re pricey you are, but now I don’t mind We’ve been a few places, I’m sure there’ll be more Wherever we go, it isn’t a bore With you on my feet, walking is not a chore We’ve been a few places, I’m sure there’ll be more Oh Chacos, just listen, you’re special to me Each corner of the world I’m sure we will see From hiking to climbing to drinking some tea Chacos, just listen, you’re special to me Okay, but really. If you are looking for the most durable, comfortable, great sandal for travel—Chacos are for you. With Vibram rubber soles and the ingenius Chacos Z strap, your feet will be happy happy happy for your entire trip!...

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03 Aug Catch Her If You Can

[caption id="attachment_2201" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Do you choose to face the world?[/caption]  "I choose to face the world" is the motto of this confident, adventurous, inspiring young traveler, Kim Charters. Hailing from Bay City, Michigan, this 19 year old is taking on the world one country at a time--and usually by herself! Her most recent trip abroad included Norway, Germany and beyond. From sleeping on strangers' couches (don't worry, it's safe, you'll here more about it later!), to hiking 10 hours through Norwegian snow with a man and a dog she had just met the day before, to drinking countless liters of German beer and stomping on tables until she couldn't anymore in one of her favorite cities--Kim is a phenomenal, confident example of how to get the most out of your adventures! I've known Kim for a handful of years and she didn't mind answering a few questions for me. So, here is a piece of Kim's story, from her most recent adventures abroad. It is my hope that people like Kim can inspire other young travelers to JUST GO. So, tell me all you can about couch surfing! I am so interested in how it works, how safe you felt, what your hosts were like, what you did, etc. I want to let people know that it’s not unsafe or crazy or any of those other negative things that people assume. "Couchsurfing? Do you mean life-changing experience? So, you start off by going to couchsurfing.com, make...

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23 Jul “Be Where Your Feet Are”

  [gallery ids="2214,2215,2216,2217,2218,2219,2220,2222,2223,2224,2225,2226"] The saying that started it all, for me. If you follow me on Instagram (@chucklesponcho), you may have noticed that in many of my photos the prominent subject is my feet. I take a lot of “from where I stand” style photos. Although I am chastised and teased by a few people for it (“are you taking a picture of your feet again…?”), here’s why I do it: A month or so before my Fall 2014 study abroad semester, I stumbled across the saying “be where your feet are” on Instagram. It intrigued me immediately—the simplicity and ease of saying it and knowing it held so much more than the literal meaning. I latched on to it, to say the least—and it stayed with me. As I prepared for my trip—a big step for me, having not been out of the country or done anything like this before—I held on to my little nugget of encouragement. When I found myself worried about my trip or money or being homesick or the plane ride or any other details, I said to myself : “Hey, you’re not even there yet! Worrying will do you no good. Be where your feet are—here! Enjoy the people and moments around you because things will be very different soon.” I found myself repeating “be where your feet are” over and over almost as a little mantra of encouragement for myself. I said it as I packed, on...

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14 Jul Safe, not sorry—Top 5 Travel Safety Tips

[caption id="attachment_2232" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Safety when traveling is important! Always be aware of your surroundings.[/caption] Safety when traveling should be of utmost importance to all travelers—especially those of you who may be embarking on your first trip or study abroad in the near future. These basic safety tips will help ensure that you have the best time possible while traveling: Know your stuff—read up on where you’ll be traveling to. It is wise to familiarize yourself with the better and not so great areas of town, customs, festivals, food facts, and more. This way, you are less likely to catch yourself in a cultural “oops”—an embarrassment and sometimes big trouble. Write it down—arm yourself with a journal or notebook specifically for writing down addresses of where you’ll be staying, phone numbers, emails, restaurants, etc. It is important to physically write these things somewhere instead of just storing them in a phone or tablet—although having this information in two places is never a bad idea, either. Be aware of your surroundings—my high school health teacher always used to bark this at us during our self defense unit freshman year…and while I found it annoying and unnecessary then, it is so important! Always, always, always be aware of your surroundings. Often times, your intuition is a great sense of danger. This is key in keeping yourself safe on traffic jammed streets, in airports or train stations, and especially when traveling alone. Even if you’re trying to...

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07 Jul Falling in Love with The Fear

[caption id="attachment_2242" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Get out there; conquer your fears; step out of that comfort zone![/caption] As exhilarating as traveling is, even well experienced travelers know that it can be frightening sometimes. Yes, you may know where you are going and you may have everything planned out down to the last detail—yet there is still so much unknown, even if you have traveled to your destination before. What to pack, am I forgetting something, how much money do I need, will I have travel difficulties, will something bad happen—there could be a lot to worry about if you choose to. If you’ll be gone for a while there is always the question and worry about relationships and friendships falling through or missing your family or feeling homesick—the list may go on and on, again, if you let it. When you get on that plane, so many feelings will most likely be rumbling in your brain and heart. Excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety, ahhhhh! Here is my biggest piece of advice regarding those feelings: FEEL them. Let them be and let them happen and be in that moment. Those moments are growing moments—when you know you are scared and you know you feel a little worried, but you feel it and grow and BE in that moment. Instead of pushing those “negative” feelings aside, indulge in them—they are happening for a reason. You may even find that you fall in love with that fear; you...

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