travelling

How to Plan For a Big Adventure

Today’s post about planning your next adventure was written by Kate Stull of Popforms. Her article is packed full of great advice that I am finding so helpful as I start to plan my next big trip.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Every summer, I travel to France with my boyfriend’s family – and every summer, without fail, the weeks leading up to the trip are complete chaos. Luckily, when I use that time to set goals and make practical plans to improve my trip, those chaotic early weeks usually result in a more fun, more adventurous, and more relaxing vacation.

The better you plan, the more prepared you’ll be, and the fewer decisions you’ll have to make in the moment, when you’re supposed to be having fun! In the last few years I have collected a few key tips that help me make the most of my time leading up to a trip, and of course, during the trip itself.

Today I want to share my four favourite tips for taking care of the boring stuff early, so that you can have a more fulfilling and amazing vacation.

Start early and make lists

I start making lists weeks before any big trip I have coming up, so that I have plenty of time to remember things that are so easy to forget until the last minute, like cell phone chargers and prescriptions.

Find a journal or notebook, and start recording your ideas as you think of them. Even if it feels silly to write down “pack toothbrush” (how could you forget your toothbrush, right?), it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your good ideas as you have them.

The more notes you take on simple stuff, the more notes you’ll start to have on bigger things too. Think about it: if you’re writing down “pack toothbrush”, you’ll be much more likely to make notes on when you’ll need to do things like renew your passport or buy train tickets. Revisiting your notes often will make it so much easier to remember the important things that will help your trip run more smoothly.

Think about money (more than you think you need to)

You’ve probably already budgeted for things like plane tickets for your big trip, but have you thought about what you’ll eat while you’re traveling? Or where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what costs are associated with the place you’re staying? I almost always end up spending more on travel than I expect to, simply because it’s easy to forget many of the small costs of living that can add up quickly when you’re without your usual home base.

For example, if you’re staying with family on your trip, you can probably expect your accommodation to be free – minus the cost of cooking a nice dinner, perhaps. But if you’re staying in a hotel not only do you have to budget for that, you’ll also need to feed yourself three times a day. Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend on food each day. Can you go to restaurants and coffee shops, or should you be buying baguettes and preparing little snacks to carry in your bag as you sightsee? If you’re camping, you may think you won’t be spending much, but there are still costs to consider. Do you need firewood? Bottled water? Are there nightly camping fees?

In your planning notes, try to write down every single thing you think you’ll need to spend money on during your trip. Record it all, down to a $2 subway fare. The more you think about this stuff in advance, the less you’ll be making decisions on the fly, and the less you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by expenses.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Plan out your work and fun time

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere, you’ll probably be able to keep working even during your travels. And while it is awesome to get paid while you’re exploring a brand new place, it’s also too easy to get completely sucked into the work mindset and not live your adventure to the fullest.

In the weeks before your trip, think about what you’ll need to get done for work while you’re gone, if anything. What needs to be finished? What has a deadline? What is flexible? What are your manager’s and peers’ expectations of what you’ll accomplish while you’re gone? And if there are things you’ll need to do while you’re away, when will you get your work done?

Don’t assume you’ll just figure it out on a day-by-day basis. That makes it incredibly hard to make spontaneous choices while you’re traveling. It’s better to plan that Monday and Tuesday will be work days holed up in your hotel room, while Wednesday through Friday will be reserved for travel. Alternatively, you could try devoting your mornings to work and your afternoons to exploration.

When you make a choice in advance about how you’ll spend your time, your trip will be far less stressful. You’ll be able to communicate to your team about what they should expect from you, so you won’t get any surprise urgent emails right before you head out for a day trip. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy free time completely, knowing that your work is taken care of.

You don’t want to feel guilty for having fun when you think you should be working, or spend all your time working and wishing you were having more fun. You want to be present, whatever you are doing.

How to Plan for A Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Set an intention and write it down

Too often in my life, I have found myself going on trips both big and small just because someone else invited me. I never gave much thought to why I wanted to go somewhere, and as a result, I often found myself wasting time doing nothing, or just sitting around in cafés to fill the time between scheduled activities.

Travel is an incredible opportunity, and the more you know why you want to be somewhere, the more you will get out of your time away.

Now, this doesn’t mean writing down a long to-do list of sights you must see or things you must get done. Instead, think about how you want to feel. What do you want to be able to say you did when you get home? What one theme or word would represent a successful trip for you?

Whether you’re going to Hawaii for a week or living abroad for months, this really works – just scale it to the size of your trip. Try to think of a theme or an intention, and record it. That way, it’s cemented in your mind and you’ll be able to stay present and aware during your travels. If your goal is to relax and connect, write that down. Revisit your notes often, and make it a point to do things that are in line with your intentions.

Do the boring stuff early, so that you can have fun later.

Travel is supposed to be fun, but it can quickly become stressful if you’re making decisions about things like money, schedules, and work in the heat of the moment. By planning your trip and being practical in advance, you can ensure that all the right choices have already been made and that you’ll feel free to soak up the amazing experience of being in a new place.

And that’s what it’s all about.

What do you do to plan for an upcoming adventure? What’s your favourite way to stay organized while making plans?

Kate Stull is a blogger and the co-founder of Popforms, a company building tools to help technical leaders be more amazing at their jobs. She also just launched a Kickstarter for The Spark Notebook: a notebook that combines the function of a big life-planner into a beautifully designed, simple notebook. Whether you’re planning how to get work done abroad, or you’re just looking for a beautiful space to plot your next trip, The Spark Notebook is a perfect place for your big ideas. Check it out here! 

Q&A: How to Blog While Backpacking

How To Blog While Backpacking

How easy has it been for you to blog so far [while you’ve been travelling], especially with just an iPad Mini? If you don’t mind me asking, which app are you using to help you blog?      -Jan

I got this question in a comment and answered it already, but I thought it was definitely worth expanding on in a full post.

While I was away on my trip, I used blogging as a way to keep my family and friends back home updated with what I was up to. Since I wasn’t sending out lengthy emails and was constantly on the move, blogging felt like an efficient way to keep everyone in the loop. Also, since I’ve been writing about my life online for almost ten years (before this blog I was on WordPress, and before that Livejournal, ha!) it feels more unnatural not to blog at this point. Whenever I go too long without using words and photos to express myself, I start to feel lost and out-of-sorts. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:

Choose a way of documenting your trip that works for you.

How To Blog While BackpackingBlogging on the road can be kind of challenging at times. Since I’ve been blogging for so long, I know how to fix typos from my phone, and how to easily edit the back-end html of my posts if something doesn’t look right. I’ve had lots of practice with typing out blog posts and hitting publish, so in general it doesn’t take me very long to write new content. But if it’s brand new for you as you start your trip, you might get frustrated along the way and give up if it starts to suck up too much of your time. After all, you’re on a trip to experience brand new parts of the world, not to sit around in internet cafes hitting your head against the proverbial wall because your latest post just went up in a puff of smoke.

But I think documenting is so important! Preserving memories is such a great way to process and appreciate them, and of course to have them for later. So that’s why I would definitely recommend looking at different types of documentation if blogging isn’t your thing. In the past, I’ve kept a scrapbook on trips, similar to Austin Kleon’s tour notebook. When a friend of mine went on an exchange to France, she wrote weekly emails to her family and friends that were full of anecdotes and photos. A lot of people I met on my travels were keeping a photo blog on Tumblr, and others are just consistent about uploading photos to Facebook or Instagram with detailed captions. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a method you’re comfortable with that’s easy for you to keep updated, and remember to:

Keep it simple!

When I was blogging on my trip, the whole process consisted of uploading photos to my Flickr account, pulling them into a blog post, and adding a few paragraphs worth of memories and favourite places I’d visited. I didn’t include any links, I rarely wrote captions for the photos, and sometimes I wrote very little. But the pictures spoke for themselves and I was happy to just get everything written down and shared with my loved ones back home. Almost one year later almost 100% of the names of all the restaurants and areas I loved in each city have disappeared entirely from my mind, but I would have been devastated to lose them forever. My sister spent this past semester gallivating around Europe and she was able to visit several of my favourite places because I got them written down in this simple form.

It reminds me a lot of one of my favourite sentiments: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” meaning done is better than perfect.

Pick good tools.

How To Blog While Backpacking

For the record, blogging from my iPad mini was totally fine. Definitely at times I missed having a full keyboard and some other features I like to use on my computer, but since I kept my posts so simple it wasn’t usually a problem. I realize that an iPad isn’t a traditional thing to bring backpacking and that it’s definitely a specialty item. Mine was a graduation gift from my father and I wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my own otherwise. But regardless of what technology (if any) you bring, you can still blog.

If you’re using a tablet, I would recommend buying an SD card reader for your device. This lets you totally sidestep the need to put photos from your camera onto a computer and saves you a ton of time. My card reader sometimes had a few issues but most of the time got the job done and couldn’t have been simpler to use. I have this iPad-specific one, but I’m sure there are similar products for other tablets.

I absolutely adore the Blogsy app. This one is specific for iPad, but I have also had great experiences with the WordPress app which is available on many different platforms for both phones and tablets. My favourite feature of Blogsy is that you can pull in photos from other social media platforms like Flickr and Instagram. Since I don’t have a mouse for my tablet, this drag-and-drop feature made my life a lot easier.

Before I received my iPad as a gift, I was planning to blog using only my phone and computers at hostels or internet cafes. If you choose this option, just make sure you bring a USB stick to keep your photos on and either a USB SD card reader to attach to the computer or your camera’s USB cord in order to upload your photos. I think this is definitely a good option as long as you test your tools before you leave and remember to keep it simple!

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I hope that helps! I absolutely love reading and looking at accounts of people’s travels, and I always say the more blogs the better. Memory keeping can be so valuable, so long as it doesn’t interfere too much with making the memories themselves.

If you have any more questions on this or any other topic, let me know in the comments or by email: stephanie @ lifeinlimbo.org. And if you have had success blogging while travelling, I’d love to hear your method! Add your thoughts to the conversation in the comments below.

Inspiration | May 16

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This article listing 33 Amazingly Useful Websites kind of blew my mind. Some I knew about, some don’t seem that helpful for me, but some are just awesome.

Some very sage, practical advice for writers. I immediately sent this article to two of the writers I know because it seemed like a must-read.

We all always want to make big drastic changes, but most of the time what we really need are small, baby changes, one thing at a time. An excellent reminder.

Laura told me I was “winning” at this list, which is a huge compliment but I don’t think totally accurate. It’s good advice though, full of things that I think all us 20-somethings should strive towards. I’m definitely trying!

Tips on getting rich quick. It’s not what you think (it’s better).

Such a good, much-needed perspective on not shopping while travelling: “In general, shopping takes us into a mindset of “lack”. We go into a mode of “needing” something, of fear that we’re missing out on something. We can spend an entire day in changerooms and High Streets that could be anywhere, frantically on a mission.” I’ve fallen victim to this kind of mindset while travelling before, and I’ll be sure to keep it in mind next time I’m on a trip.

I listened to another old but excellent episode of the TED Radio Hour this week about millennials and how they (we) might be the next greatest generation. It talked about doing good, meaningful work and making your own jobs.

I liked reading about what mothers want to teach their kids. It seems like stuff we should all keep in mind: get enough sleep, treat ourselves with kindness, be grateful, talk about hard things.

This A-Z of Dance was super cool and well done.

Joy the Baker talked about her new cookbook this week! She inspires me big time, all the time. That title! That cake!

Some things I want to make + eat: best vegan nachos | strawberry rhubarb crisp bars | coconut date shakes.

Two Instagram accounts I loved this week: @cahmun (absolutely gorgeous food photos) and @8ruecaffarelli (a perfect-looking pastel life).

Some oldies-but-goodies: zucchini fritters for what ails ya, a few books for summer.

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This weekend I’m doing some beach yoga and going to my first Korean baseball game, which should be a ton of fun! You can see photos from my adventures by following me on Instagram @lifeinlimboblog. Have an amazing weekend, everyone!

My Review of the LL Bean Quickload Travel Pack for Her Packing List

HPL2As I’ve written before, I absolutely love my backpack. It’s comfortable and sturdy, it folds open like a suitcase, the straps stow away, and it’s carry-on sized. I did a lot of research before buying the bag I was going to use while backpacking through Europe (you can see the funny/crazy/thorough spreadsheet I made here) and this is the bag that came out on top. It’s now been to almost 10 countries with me and has been a great little travel companion!

Last week I wrote a more in-depth review of my bag over at Her Packing List, so if you’re interested in more details you can check it out here! If you’re interested in buying the LL Bean Quickload Travel pack, you can find it here.

HPL3It’s one of my 24 before 24 goals to write articles for 7 websites besides my own. This is the first, and I’m proud of it.

Also, I should mention: I’m not associated with LL Bean in any way (I wish!), and this is not a sponsored post. I just love this bag and want to share the information with the world.

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