Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

This is my personal blog and a space that I try to make sense of my wandering life. Depending on the day it could be a helpful resource for the country I'm in, or a self-help guide. We'll just have to see ;)

How to pack for __ months (a long time)

A lot of people have asked me, incredulously, “How are you supposed to pack for a whole year?!

I’ve passed the same question along to friends who have more experience…and I’ve often wondered the same. During my “research” (read: chats over beer, sushi and/or some form of chocolate) I discovered one critical factor in determining what and how to pack.
My peace corps friends, for example, lived in the same place and knew they would always have a “home” for their belongings. Their packing was a lot different than friends who had taken urban jobs, and theirs was extremely different than friends who planned on a year or more of wandering.
So, while the wanderers passionately encouraged me to take off with little more than a backpack and the clothes on my back, I knew that wasn’t practical for my situation. I was going to have a room, a house, and needed to be ready for just about any climate and social situation. I would be backpacking, but I was also working in an office. I would be at the beach, but nights on base were said to get to the low 50’s. A backpack wasn’t going to cut it.
Now that I’m here, I realize that there probably was a happy medium. Instead, I maxed out at 2 checked bags, a backpack as my carry on and a large sling purse as my personal item. The wanderers would have been ashamed.
So, while I may have over packed, I remembered a few of my go-to travel tricks. Packing light is difficult sometimes, but packing smart is always possible with a little planning. Here are some of my tips (I’d love to know any you have to continue the list!)
Roll and layer
When I can’t get around packing bulky items like towels (As much as I love the quick dry ones, I can’t live with them for a year. Sometimes you just need a big, fluffy piece of cotton) I lay them across the bottom of my suitcase like a liner. They are the only exception – everything else, even down to the tiniest travel undies gets tightly rolled and layered. I lay the heavy stuff first, the jeans and jackets, then use the smaller stuff to fill the cracks. If you’ve never “rolled” before, you’ll be a convert.
Stuff your shoes 
All those little things are great for filling up the spaces in between, but don’t forget the spaces hidden inside things like boots and tennis shoes. Remember, anywhere air can go, you want your underthings to be too. If the idea of putting things inside smelly hiking boots gets to you, simply put them in a grocery bag before stuffing.

Wrap, then wrap again.
Countless travelers have begun their vacations by opening a lotion/shampoo/sunscreen soaked suitcase. Don’t be one of them. Put plastic wrap over the bottle opening, screw on the top THEN wrap in a plastic grocery bag. That’s two layers of protection and at least if the first one fails, all you have is a soaked grocery bag….not a soaked bag.

The little things.
You know that weird section of miniature toiletries in WalMart? Well, this is when you use them. Make sure they’re refillable and you’ll be weekend-trip ready. Tip: Use the labels from the full size bottles on the small containers.
Bring some (not all) hi-tec stuff
If there is one thing I’ve learned about travel clothes and gear, it’s that all those cool fabrics and shirts made for every possible activity aren’t necessary. Some of my favorite things, despite piles of woolrich, goretex, and wicking fabrics have been – and continue to be – simple fleece pullovers, well-worn tees, and yoga pants. However, a few “techie” things have made it to my list of must haves no matter the trip. Here are a few of them:
– Down/synthetic vest. If I’m packing for the freezing cold, most likely I have a lot of stuff like this already….but the vest can easily be stuffed in a backpack pocket and added for an extra layer of warmth….that doesn’t restrict arm movement in a jacket. If I’m going to be in the jungle, with hot days and cooler nights…this helps when the temperature dips, without having to throw on a big jacket. Quality counts here….really good down is crazy lightweight and gets super warm.
– Rain jacket. I know a lot of people who go ultra-light here and just get the shell…but I prefer one with a liner. My reasoning is simply that I hate the weird damp plastic-to skin feeling. If you can handle it you’ll save on some weight, but no matter what you get – get a good one. They’re expensive abroad, and a ripped rain jacket is, well…no longer a rain jacket.
– Hiking pants. I used to think the only technical pants you could get were huge, parachute whooshy pants (yes, that is a technical term), but then I discovered brands like Colombia making women’s pants that actually fit. While I still wouldn’t wine and dine in them, it beats walking up a mountain in jeans. I layer them with leggings for the cold, and know that even if I get caught in a downpour they’ll be dry in minutes.
Water bottle. I’m a recent convert on this one. I’ll admit, I’ve never made space for a container of any sort, much less a water bottle when I could easily down a bottle of juice and reuse that bottle. But when I discovered Hydro Flask, everything changed. This thing kept ice solid overnight and my coffee piping hot after hours of running around. Plus, it doesn’t sweat and is BPA free. Cool colors help too.
Knife or Multi-tool. Even though the craziest thing I do with my knife is make guacamole on the beach, it’s always good to be prepared. It’s nice to have tools on hand and a lot of them have handy things like mini scissors, screwdrivers and more.

Quick-dry towels. Preferably one in every size. I made the rookie mistake in one early trip, when I was trying to go “ultra light” and just brought a small one. The absorbency wasn’t the problem, but trying to cover myself in the busy hostel bathroom was. Plus, the big ones make awesome yoga mat toppers or impromptu beach towels for laying out. Shop around, I’ve found I like different brands for different things. And make sure to label yours – they seem to get “lost” in hostels where people discover their crazy absorbent super powers.

Headlamp. Don’t forget batteries. This one’s simple….no hands required = more productivity. Just be careful about talking to people and accidentally blinding them when you turn around. They’re also handy as night lights. Wrap one around a milk jug filled with water for some cool ambient lighting or hang it from the top of your tent for late bathroom breaks. 
Flip flops. Easy to pack, waterproof and disposable when necessary. Just don’t walk in them for long distances, or you’ll end up wearing Dr. Scholls earlier than necessary. I bring them for sketchy showers and impromptu beach visits.
Zip-lock bags. The low-tech waterproofing. Light, easy, and you can make guacamole in them by squishing avocado with lemon juice and some salt an pepper inside of one. Just cut the tip off and you can squeeze the guac out onto your chosen vessel (I prefer crusty bread).
Pieces of home. Whatever does it for you – pictures are always good. Buy some adhesive putty if you’ll be in one place for a while to hang them up. A friend told me to bring small candles that smell like holidays. I thought she was crazy until I opened my pumpkin spice candle my first day in the jungle. Some things don’t make sense until you can’t get them somewhere else.
This is a look of relief. 50 lbs on the dot.

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2013 by in Travel Tips & Recipees.
Being a travel agent isn't only about visiting incredible hotels..theres a LOT of pressure we put on ourselves to make sure your vacation is a great value/memorable/customized....we invest ourselves into other people's lives, wants, dreams....we help honeymooners start off their lives as a happy couple, help check off bucket-list and lifelong dreams, and help families take a much needed break from the rush of the school-sports-homework routine.....all while working long or strange hours to make it happen. So....when it comes time to play at luxury beach clubs or dine on 5-star cuisine, you'd better believe we take advantage of it. ✌And we can't wait to make this part of our reality yours, even of just for a few days 🐡🌺🌴🍍🌅
"If you haven't felt like quitting, your dreams aren't big enough." . . I'm an impatient person - it takes a lot for me to slow down and understand that life is about the journey (especially when I can see and feel the dreams on the horizon). I listened to a podcast the other day with a great message; we can dream big, but we need to dedicate ourselves to the small tasks that will get us there. This mural reminded me of that - the small steps can be exhausting, frustrating....but with vision you are forced to understand that each piece - no matyer how menail or small it may feel - is necessary in creating the masterpiece. . . These days I'm focusing my energy on trusting the process, and hanging onto the vision.....and reminding myself that every day has the power to be a step forward, in the right direction. ♥♥♥
I'm obsessed with hotsprings. It's how I met my husband (after a whitewater kayaking incedent) and its been one of our traditions ever since. 💓 This weekend I got to visit some of the countries most iconic hotsprings hotels and they didn't disappoint. Here's a peek at one that Pablo and I have already added to our must-visit list: . . These are just a few of the hotsprings at @thespringscostarica in the Arenal region of Costa Rica. The water is heated by the volcano itself and is full of minerals that make for the most relaxing soak ever. My favorite part of these specific waters? They can be combined with any of the following activites in the same location for a full-day experience: - horseback riding - river tubing - kayaking - wildlife refuge - nature hikes - rock climbing wall . . (Which would you do on your perfect vacation? I'll post my perfect combo in the comments below! 🌺🐎🍃)
I discovered and fell in love with this quote and wanted to share it with you, in case you're reading it for the first time too 😙 . . . "Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth." - Rumi . . . .
One of the best parts of "living in Paradise"?...Getting to share it with family ♥ I'm going through wedding pictures and stumbled across this shot from our sunset horseback ride near Santa Teresa. As crazy as it was planning a wedding and a family vacation directly afterwards, it's the moments like this that made it all worth it. Now, less than 4 months's my JOB to ensure families come home with memories like this one. Not a bad gig if I say so myself 🌅
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When life gives you too many beautiful photo opps....make an image slider 🤓 . Pics taken on one of our recent roadtrips. La Paz waterfall is still one of my favorite falls in the country and you don't even have to get out of your car to see it! (Though I recommend that you do). This area is full of strawberry farms so our favorite way of playing tourist is to grab a box from a roadside vendor, snack on the ride down the mountain, stop for photo opps, then throw a few berries to the local -incredibly adorable - pizotes 🤗 (scroll to the end to see their close up!)
At about 7 inches long, this little guy was just a speck of brilliant color in the greens and browns that surrounded him. One of the best parts of exploring national parks is that "scary" animals like this eyelash viper aren't just tolerated, but are celebrated. People kill snakes out of fear, but even venemous ones like this are no threat if we just let them be. I'm extra thankful for Pablo's steady hands and this close up (taken with his phone!). Toucans and monkeys are great, but these vipers are some of my favorite animals to see in the wild. If you look closely you can even see the "eyelashes" this species are famous for 😍
Well, its official. Our year of living and working at @finca_bellavista has come to an end, and for all the lessons learned and incredible experiences had, we couldn't be more excited for our new chapter. We're already seriously missing the staff, volunteers, and pristine wilderness that surrounded us....we even miss our little hut by the river. But life needs to be shaken up sometimes and we're thriving in this time of change. As of this week I'm so excited to say that I've taken a job with a travel company I've followed and admired for years. I'll be planning custom itineraries to some of the best hotels in Costa Rica, and be showing visitors my version of Costa Rica....with all the hidden gems along the way 💓🌿💓 I haven't figured out yet if I'll start a separate IG account for it, but I'm so excited to show off the properties, tours, and experiences that make travelling here so special. In the meantime, if you know anyone wanting a once in a lifetime trip to the land of pura know where to find me 😊 But first, a quote that has been speaking to me this week: . . . "We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.” ― C. JoyBell C.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and attention.”💕 ~ Buddha . On an especially hectic Valentine’s Day, I want to remind everyone that it’s not all about roses and dinners or sappy love movies. Sometimes, it’s not even about our partners. It’s about a deeper love that sets the foundation for all other relationships to flow out of it. Self love, self respect, and living your life in a way that simultaneously sets boundaries and breaks them.... that’s what it’s all about. It’s finding the balance in serving others and serving yourself, in seeking happiness not through someone else but alongside them. It’s about figuring out this miracle called life one day at a time, ending the day with gratitude and holding the people dear to you close. ✨ Happy Valentine’s Day y’all.... I love you and am grateful for your presence in my life🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Rum-chata for the win 🙌🏻 Miss Ashley Layne and Aaron (@thetroxella) mixed up this magic: homemade horchata on the rocks with a splash of Flor De Caña Nicaraguan rum. I’ll be calling it “Christmas in the Jungle” but you can just call it “delicious.” 😜
It’s been one month and three days since this day and I can’t quite put into words how crazy life has felt since then. Our wedding was the perfect combo of hilarious day-of drama (I might have forgotten Pablo’s ring and only realized it as we were saying vows 😂) and fairy-tale moments (like seeing the perfect altar that Pablo built and the amazing decorations that friends, family and staff put together). I wish we could do it 1000x more, and soak in the simplicity that was the main attraction : good food, beautiful views, good people, and the amazing presence of Mother Nature. There’s so much to say but all I can muster is this: we can’t wait to see what’s next 👊🏻. Here’s to a bright 2018, to living life on our terms, and to growing even more as people, partners, and friends. 💕💕💕
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” - W.B. Yeats 🍍 I’ve walked by our little pineapple patch so many times I can’t count during this past year, but yesterday I discovered that baby pineapples (like the one pictured) bloom with the most beautiful purple flowers. Pineapples can take up to 2 years to produce their fruit and only produce 3 times in their lives, every time getting smaller (but sweeter!). Such an incredible, delicious plant from the tropics 🙌🏻
In yoga, tree pose is used to promote balance - in the feet, hips, pelvis....and also in emotions . . 22 days until our wedding, until our families meet for the first time, and until our little family of two becomes official. We decided on an outdoor ceremony becasue that's where we feel connected; it's where we met, where we feel most spiritual, and where we find inspiration. Whether it's helping run a treehouse community, traveling through the Andes with everything we own on our backs, or opening up our own eco-business somewhere in the Americas.....nature is our constant. She's what binds us, and I'm thrilled that I will get to commit my life to someone while enveloped in her sunshine, with the sound of her waves, the smell of her breeze, and the feeling of her beneath our feet. Here's to taking a break from the stress of wedding planning, and focusing on what really matters....✨love✨
Life tip: marry a man who knows how to use a machete 👌🏻 . . Also...we had an earthquake last night but besides the swinging lamps and fruit baskets, no damage and everyone is safe and sound in “paradise” 🙏🏻
5+ years of traveling and exploring Latin America and finally happened. Thanks to an incredibly well-timed Facebook post, and a group of people doing amazing conservation work, Pablo and I had the opportunity to help release not just 1, but 50, baby Olive Ridley sea turtles into the ocean. It’s hard to describe what it’s like: watching them struggle through the sand... get stuck...become exhausted...then move forward again despite what (to them) are mountains and tidal waves... then just as the sun soaked us with the deep gold of sunset, the tide swept them away one by one. Their tiny bodies came to life when they touched water for the first time - it’s such a moment of instinct and pure drive and every single one paddled as hard as possible to avoid being swept backwards.... Not a bad metaphor for life, huh? Anyways... I’ll be posting a blog about the babies soon. In the meantime, we’re sending all of our love and good vibes to these little ones.... we’re hoping that most of them made it through the night and they’ll be on their way to even deeper waters today 💙
My entire life I've connected with the quote that "the mountains are calling and I must go" but I'm happy to say I've found a happy place on lower ground as well 🙏🏻 Jungle + Beach + Pipa = perfection 💕🐚🌴 ......I'm curious! Where's your "happy place?"......
Back to these beautiful Costa Rican sunsets 🙏🏻 After a whirlwind visit to see friends and family in Kentucky, I couldn't help but notice how our lives are syncing with the season: the pumpkins and leaf piles reminded me how autumn feels - the rapid changes, the little moments and flavors that everyone goes crazy for (pumpkin everything!) and the last burst of energy and color before the cool calm of winter washes over. We're in the heart of wedding planning, gearing up for high season at the hotel and facing a completely uncertain future in the way of visas, travel plans, etc... Here's to savoring this season of our lives instead of worrying or stressing about the ones to come 🙏🏻
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