Great Sand Dunes National Park

One of the most unique places in Colorado is the Great Sand Dunes. It is surprising to see this desert looking part of Colorado when you are used to the snow capped mountains. The Great Sand Dunes National Park has sand surfing, hiking, river swimming, and more! Here are 5 tips I have learned from my traveling:

1. DO NOT GO ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND! It is the busiest day of the year (yes this is the day I went) and there are a lot of crowds. I waited in a line of cars for over an hour just to enter the park. I also would recommend going earlier in the day so you have more time on the dunes and to avoid unnecessary crowds.

2. It is about $20 to enter the park with one car. If you are going to be seeing a lot of National Parks while in Colorado I would recommend getting a pass so you can save money.

3. If you are going April – early June I would recommend wearing sandals and taking them off to hike the dunes. I loved sinking my toes into the sand and not worrying about sand in my shoes. If you are going late June – September I would recommend wearing closed toed shoes because the sand becomes very hot and will burn your feet.

4. Wear airy pants and/or shirt. When the wind picks up it pushes the sand against your skin and it stings quit a bit. I’d also recommend wearing sunglasses to block the sand from getting in your eyes. I forgot my sunglasses and had a lot of discomfort with my contacts in.

5. Push yourself to the top! The dunes can be discouraging with how massive they are and the difficulty you feel hiking in sand, but don’t give up. Reaching the top gives you amazing views of the mountains and the surrounding area. Go slow, drink water, and you will make it!

If you love the dunes and want to experience it even more you can camp here as well. I have not yet done it but it’s on my list of adventures for next summer!

Visit Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand is by far one of my favorite places in the world. It is known as the adventure capital of the world and has endless opportunities for all sorts of travelers. Here is how to make the most out of your stay in this beautiful destination.

Where to go: Queenstown, New Zealand

How to get there: If coming from a Australia I’d recommend flying directly to Queenstown. If coming from anywhere further I’d recommend flying to Auckland first because it will be much cheaper and most flights have a layover in Auckland anyways. Once you arrive in Queenstown it is just a short drive to downtown from the airport. You can Uber or rent a car, we rented a car. Having a car is convenient and lets you do more exploring for cheaper but driving in New Zealand is probably much different than what you’re used to so be aware of that.

What to see: I stayed in two places while here but I would recommend just staying at this place. If you want a cheaper option there are also a bunch of hostels you can choose from which is where I would’ve stayed if I was traveling alone. Queenstown has so many unique restaurants to choose from but my favorite one was Bespoke Kitchen. There are also a ton of vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well which I LOVED. I will post soon about all of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants we found in New Zealand!

One of the most famous places to eat is Fergburger. We went to the park one night and everywhere we looked we saw people holding a Fergburger in their hand!

If you are an adventure seeker I would recommend doing the canyoning tour through Canyoning Queenstown and/or bungee jumping. The canyoning was incredible. You got to repel down the sides of the canyon, zipline, fall down waterfalls, and swim through refreshing, clean water. The guides were great and knew what they were doing. Bungee jumping is a very scary experience and if you are not a intense thrill seeker I would not recommend participating. It seemed very safe though and my sister had an amazing time!

On the weekends there is a market by the lake that has a ton of incredible art, jewelry, and food you can buy. I’d also recommend going out on the floating bar boat where you can purchase a drink and look out into the lake with the mountains as your backdrop.

While in Queenstown you need to go to Milford Sound. It is a couple hours away but it is worth it! You either can drive there if you rent a car or take a tour for the day. It is magnificent and some even say it is the 8th wonder of the world!

Queenstown is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world that I have been to…you can’t miss it!

Road Trip New Zealand

There are many different routes you can take to explore New Zealand’s wonders and so it is pretty hard to go wrong with which one you pick. The country is beautiful no matter where you drive and has endless adventures around every corner. After extensive research, help from my dad, and personally driving the route myself I believe I have found the way to go….follow me!

For starters, I would recommend renting a car so you can see as much as possible and not be limited on where you go. This route will start in Nelson and end up in Queenstown. You will need to drive a lot but don’t worry, driving through New Zealand is incredible and one of my favorite parts of the trip. I would recommend at least 7 nights for this road trip…definitely more if you can!

Stop 1: Fly into Nelson, New Zealand and pick up your rental car. Drive to Abel Tasman National Park and spend a day or two here. I recommend staying at this hotel .

Stop 2: Drive from Abel Tasman National Park to Punakaiki, New Zealand. I recommend staying at this hotel. It is right on the beach and has the mountains behind you. Here you will find the pancake rocks which are quite extraordinary. It is a very small town so possibly bring some food to make dinner at your place or go to one of the few restaurants they have. I would stay here no more than one night.

Stop 3: Get up early and drive to Arthur’s Pass which is slightly more inland and spend the day here exploring and hiking. When you have hiked all you can for the day jump back in the car and drive to Hokitika to spend the night. I recommend staying this hotel.

Stop 4: Drive to Franz Joseph Glacier and spend the morning exploring. After you have experienced this incredible Glacier grab some snacks, jump back into the car, and drive to Twizel and stay here which is a town outside Mount Cook National Park. This drive will be around 5 hours but I promise you, driving through New Zealand is an amazing experience in itself.

Stop 5: Drive to Mount Cook from your hotel and go on a hike. This was one of my favorite days because of how incredible the hike was. I recommend this hike. In mid afternoon drive to Lake Wanaka for a quick pit stop, possibly dinner, and then continue driving until you reach Queenstown.

Stop 6: Stay in Queenstown for at least 2-3 days. I recommend staying at this hotel . Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and truly had endless opportunities for activities and excursions. It also is one of the most quaint, beautiful, and unique cities I have been of my favorites!

I will be posting soon about all I recommend to do in and around Queenstown!

A Cold Day in Denver, CO

The temperatures in Denver, CO are usually splendid. It occasionally gets in the low 20s and we have our fair share of snow storms, but the sun always comes out the next day to remind us why Colorado has some of the best weather. However, once or twice a year the temp drops to negative degrees and Coloradoans don’t exactly know what to do with themselves. Here are 5 activities you can do on a cold day in Denver, CO:

1. Go to Boulder, CO which is about a 30 minute drive from downtown. Checkout Boulder University, do some shopping, and have a delicious lunch at one of the local cafes. If you want to get out in nature go to Boulder Mountain Park, even when its cloudy and cold out it’s still beautiful and mystical underneath the tall trees.

2. Spend the afternoon at Upstairs Circus in LoDo. Here you will find super cool crafts and art projects that you can make in a lively atmosphere. They have drinks and popcorn as well to warm you up.

3. Hangout at Union Station for an hour or so. Order a hot drink, bring some cards, and people watch as you sit in a beautiful building in the heart of the city. Union Station also has my favorite restaurant, Snooze which I highly recommend if you want a tasty breakfast. Be prepared for a long line though on the weekends because of how popular it is!

4. Go to 16th Street Mall and do some shopping! It is an outside mall so be prepared for that but all the stores are very close to each other so still doable on a cold day.

5. Checkout the Milk Market on the Dairy Block. Here you will find tons of great food and drinks. It gets very lively at night and sometimes local artists play their music! Stop into Blanchard Family Wines after to try a wine flight from their many, many selections.

We love the sun in Colorado but a little cold air never should stop us from enjoying the day in this wonderful state!

Adventure in Grand Lake, CO

Grand Lake is a perfect place to get away for the weekend in Colorado. You will find skiing nearby at Winter Park, snow shoeing, beautiful hikes, cross country skiing, a historic downtown, ice fishing, and of course snowmobiling!

Stay at this Airbnb! It had a simple complimentary breakfast, has a view of the mountains, and was only $50 a night! The sister of the man who owns this Airbnb has a restaurant downstairs and for guests you get happy hour all day long! This includes discounts on drink and half off all appetizers! We got some beer and yummy snacks while we played cards downstairs to get out of the cold for a little bit.

During the day there are many exciting adventures you can choose from. I recommend driving on Trail Ridge Road towards Rocky Mountain National park for some epic scenery and great hikes. This road is closed in the winter once you drive a few miles in, but you can go decently far before you make it to this point.

Wake up early and go see the sun rise over Grand lake, with the glistening snow peaked mountains behind the frozen water it makes for a beautiful start to your day.

If you want to go snowmobiling I would recommend trying to rent one before 8 am because they will most likely give you a discount. We looked at a couple places and most prices were around $120 for a single and $150 for a double. There are tons of trails so if you are interested, Grand Lake is the place to go.

Overall, there wasn’t fantastic food choices in Grand Lake but we came for the views not the eats! I do recommend going to Sagebrush BBQ and Grill because they usually have live music on the weekends, it was so much fun!

Grand Lake is a quiet, beautiful escape for a winter weekend in Colorado. I am excited to go back in the summer!

A day in Seattle

Start your morning off by grabbing a Starbucks coffee and taking a $4 Uber to Kerry Park. Enjoy an outstanding view of the skyline, Elliot Bay, and possibly mountains depending if the sun is peeking through the Seattle clouds.

Next, take a walk through the bustling streets and alleys of Pikes Place Market. There is so much to see here! You will find fresh seafood, souvenirs, tasty lunch spots, and crafts made from local artists. Grab lunch at Pikes Place Chowder, which has award winning food including “the best clam chowder in the world”! We got both the clam chowder and a lobster sandwich. There is usually a line, so be prepared for that, but trust me it is worth the wait! Walk through Post Alley and checkout the famous gum wall…blow a bubble and add to it if you want!

If you’re interested go to the Space Needle, either just go check it out from below or go all the way to the top for around $30 (cheaper to buy a ticket online than in person). There are also many museums you can checkout, I would recommend the Museum of Pop Culture.

In the afternoon, head over to the water for some great views and tasty beer. Old Stove Brewery and Seattle Beer Company both have great atmospheres and beer, I love getting a flight so I can try a few different kinds!

As the sun begins to set over Elliott Bay watch a beautiful sunset over the water. Either walk along the piers or go on a ferris wheel ride near Pier 57.

After the sun sets go to ZigZag Restaurant for a trendy dinner. It is a dimly-lit cocktail bar with a cool soundtrack and awesome decor. They have delicious appetizers, dinner, and dessert.

As the evening is coming to a close head over to Bathtub Gin & Co. which is a hidden gem in a back alley with big wooden doors. You might need to wait in line for this speakeasy-type bar but again, it’s worth it! Here you will find cozy booths, unique cocktails, and the best bartender in Seattle! Our drinks were $10 but were strong and really carefully made.

Enjoy your time in this seaside city, it’s one of a kind!

5 Winter Hikes You Must Go on Near Denver

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1. St. Marys Glacier. It is a little over an hour drive from downtown Denver and it is beautiful. St. Marys Glacier is a shorter hike up averaging about 1.5 miles depending how far you go. It has a frozen lake surrounded by the mountains. You can go with snow snoes and venture further up the mountain or you can wear winter boots and just go to the lake. I would wear very warm clothing because it can be extremely windy by the lake and gets very cold. I reccomend stopping at Idaho springs on your way back and eating at Beau Jo’s to get the pizza with honey! It is SO good!

GOlden hike
2. Mount Galbraith. Golden is a great place to go in the foothills of the mountains. With it only being about a 20 minute drive from downtown Denver it’s a great place to go just for an afternoon. Mount Galbraith has great hiking in the winter because it doesn’t get too icy. Golden is a really cute town to shop and eat at as well!

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3. Alderfer/Three Sisters Park. This is a 45 minute drive from downtown Denver and usually has no snow. It is a great place to walk your dog or go for a run as well. It is a very easy hike up but one you’re at the top you have a great view. I love the huge boulders at the top because you can sit and embrace the incredible views comfortably.

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4. Matthews/Winters Park. It is 20 minutes to get here from downtown Denver. This park is not in the mountains but you can get some decent views when you make it to the top. I would recommend this hike for runners and bikers as well because of the fairly flat paths. Where the sun doesn’t hit there are some ice spots so be careful.

5. Garden of the Gods. It takes about an hour to get here from downtown Denver driving south towards Colorado Springs. I would say that Garden of the Gods isn’t necessarily a hike but more of a walk through a paved path. It is beautiful though to see all of the huge rock formations and climb up into them. There is really no snow or ice here normally and actually reminds me more of a hike in Arizona because of the red colors of the dirt and rocks.

Don’t let the cold weather and snow scare you away from hiking in the winter. I have been hiking every weekend since I have moved to Colorado and every one is incredible!

10 Ways to Save Money Backpacking Europe:

1. You really don’t need an international phone plan. In Europe almost every place you go will have WiFi and with iMessage and FaceTime you’ll have no problem connecting back to home. One worry we had was maps because we were doing a lot of walking and needed directions. We found though that even when not on WiFi your google maps should still pick up where you are so you can use it to get around.

2. Flix bus saved our wallets! If you want rides from country to country for under $20 it’s the way to go. If you can book in advance, be very organized, and be okay with long rides…I highly recommend!

3. If traveling with someone else, share meals! My boyfriend and I shared almost every meal for 2 months 😯 It sounds crazy but honestly think about how much food you waste when you get that huge pizza all for yourself. Get some bread for an appetizer, and share a plate of pasta! A beer will help you fill up as well! 😉

4. Walk walk walk! We did not take one taxi or Uber ever. Walking everywhere gives you a chance to explore and save quite a few Euros. When you can’t walk take the metro or a local bus system.

5. Bring a reusable water bottle. Most all restaurants will charge you for water. It might not seem like a lot but it adds up!

6. Get a travel credit card. The fees that you spend on transactions and taking money out of the atm really add up! If you have decent credit, Bank of America has a great Travel Rewards credit card you can swipe your way through Europe with and earn points for your next trip.

7. Book accommodation and transportation in advance. I know going with the flow is exciting but I have checked prices through my travels and they always go up as the date nears. Booking ahead keeps your trip costs lower and also takes away some stress while you’re there.

8. Be careful with tours. There are so many exciting tours and excursions to choose from while traveling but they are so pricey! I’d say do some research before and pick one that you really really want to do. Also make sure there isn’t a free way to see it, a lot of times you can still go without the “tour part of it.” Ask around for tips!

9. Accommodation. Hostels are usually very cheap and a great way to travel around the world. We’ve found though that when traveling with a partner air bnb is usually a better deal! We found many air bnbs in the city and split between two people were the same price as the hostels. Again, planning your travels prior to departure gives you the freedom to compare prices and find what’s best for you.

10. Make a mental decision to try your very best to be smart with your money while you travel. Also decide that you are going to enjoy yourself! Money is important and without enough of it your adventures would be limited, but don’t let money ruin a glass of wine you enjoy, a tour through an old cathedral, or a scoop of some yummy gelato. It’s all about having a good balance!

Where to go, How to get there, & What to see in Paris, France

Stop 13: Paris, France

Where to go

Paris, France

How to get there

We took an 11 hour bus ride overnight from Montpellier. This saved us a lot of money because of how cheap the bus ride was plus saving a night of accommodation by sleeping on the bus. I will admit that the bus stopped every couple hours for a break so we didn’t get the best sleep, but if you’re on a budget this was a great form of transportation.

Getting around Paris: Like always, we walked almost everywhere. Sometimes are walks were 2 hours long but we saw so much of the city this way that it was totally worth it. There were a few times at night and to the airport that we took the metro which was easy to navigate and around $2 each for one ride.

What to see

I highly recommend this Airbnb. It was VERY small but it was also really well made and organized. A small couch pulled out to a really comfortable bed. There was a little table with foldable chairs you could pull out to eat on, and the kitchen had everything you needed. It is located in between the red light district and Montmartre. The two men that own it are also very helpful and super nice, I truly fell in love with this tiny home in Paris!

Montmartre was one of my favorite parts of the city. I recommend watching the sunset on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur and then going out to eat at one of the cute French restaurants nearby. Some of them even have French guitarists playing inside!

My number 1 recommendation is to go to the Eiffel Tower at night to watch the sunset. Obviously bring some cheese, bread, and wine. When the lights come on as the sun sets at 8pm you’ll feel the true magic of Paris.

Go to the Lourve!!! It was absolutely incredible. We stayed for a little over 4 hours and barely scratched the surface…did you know it would take 100 days straight to see everything there if you spent just 30 seconds on each piece?! Budget tip: if in college bring your student ID and you’ll get a discount!

Le Marais is a really cool district to wander through. It is just north of Notre-Dame and the Seine. There are lots of restaurants and shops to choose from. As you make your way towards the river there also is my favorite restaurant, Le Paradis. I usually don’t give my recommendation on what to order because we all like different food, but the avocado wrap is SO good we went back twice so I could get it. They also have happy hour at 4:30 if you’re interested in drinks!

When we first arrived in Paris we saw so many people walking around with baguettes in their arms. This may sound like a cliche, but let me tell you, the baguettes in Paris are to die for! We would get at least one a day and eat the entire thing plain, doesn’t even need any butter or jam. Purely delicious.

Paris is the last stop on our life adventure and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. As I am sitting here, looking at the Eiffel Tower, writing this post, wine in hand, I look back on all of our destinations and realize how they all have changed me. The world is a beautiful place, it has so many opportunities, and it also makes me appreciate where I come from and my home. This definitely won’t be my last time traveling and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure!

I hope you can use my information on this website to go on an adventure of your own. I am always available to help you on your journey so always feel free to reach out. Happy traveling!

Where to go, How to get there, & What to see in Montpellier, France

Stop 11: Montpellier, France

Where to go

Montpellier, France

How to get there

Through eurolines we booked a bus from Girona, Spain for about $20. You also could take a high speed train to save on time, depending on where you’re coming from.

Getting around Montpellier: we mostly walked like we do in most cities. There also is the tram that runs through the city that is very reasonably priced.

What to see

We stayed at this Airbnb which (like usual) was amazing! Within 5 minutes walking you could reach the main square, the tram, famous shopping street, great night life, and more! It also had a great kitchen with all the supplies you need. There was a pull out couch for a bed but for the price we didn’t mind at all.

Spend a day shopping and walking up and down Rue De La Loge. There are high end stores you have heard of but also many stores that were unique.

Have dinner in one of the many bustling side streets or squares that Montpellier offers. There is some of the best food I’ve ever had!

Travel tip: not many people speak English here and almost none of the menus are in English. Adam and I found this frightening at first but we decided to just start asking for the most popular dish and we never were disappointed, I recommend trying it!

Montpellier is known for having mostly college kids so you will have no shortage of night life! 💃🏻

Take an afternoon and go see the main historical monuments. Place de la Comedie, Porte Du Peyrou, & the Montpellier Cathedral were some of my favorites!

If you’re here for more than a day I recommend going to Saint Guilhem Le Desert. The most affordable way to get there from downtown Montpellier is to take the tram to Mosson and then bus 308. Only about an 80 minute trip in total. The beautiful village is over 1,200 years old and only about 250 people live there, most of whom are artists.

I’ve found that a lot of the public parks in Europe have free ping pong tables, including Montpellier. I recommend bringing these Champion Sports Anywhere Table Tennis: Ping Pong Paddles, Balls, and Portable Net & Post Set To Go if you like playing, great way to spend some time in a city park!

I will admit, Montpellier was not a place I researched much or was not a number 1 place I wanted to visit. It was more of a place I was going between Spain and Paris, but I loved it! There were far less tourists than other destinations I’ve been and it was a beautiful, vintage city.