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For the Love of Travel Series- Sarah from Life in a State of Wanderlust (Guest Post)

This week's post comes from Sarah, a fellow American expat who currently resides in Tillburg (in the Southern part of the Netherlands, for those of you who aren't familiar).She is originally from Virginia (Southern Girls Unite!) I've had so much fun learning about Sarah's adventures and it looks like soon she will be moving closer to my neck of the woods! You can learn more about Sarah at Life in a State of Wanderlust

Let's do this thing!

Tell us a little about you.
 
Let’s see. I’m 23 years old, and I have always loved to travel. So far, I have lived in three countries and visited 20 others. My bucket list is a mile long, and I’m constantly adding to it. I was born and raised in the United States, but I spent the past year in London completing my Master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Politics Science (LSE). Currently, I am residing with my boyfriend in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Living in Europe provides far more opportunities for international travel than in the States, so I am trying to take
advantage of every chance I get to see as much as I can while I am here!
 
Windmills do exist!
The cliché is true- windmills are everywhere in the Netherlands
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I spent my whole life in Virginia before I moved abroad for graduate school. Virginia was an amazing place to grow up. In only two hours by car from where I lived, you could be hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, swimming at Virginia Beach, or enjoying a city-break in Washington, D.C. There’s really something for everyone.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
This is a difficult question! There are so many amazing places around the world. I think my favorite destination so far would have to be Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik’s nickname is the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” and if there is any city that deserves its nickname, it is Dubrovnik. There are gorgeous beaches, winding alleyways to explore, and breathtaking cliff side cafes where you can dive right into the sea—if you dare! The old town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, yet there is so much more to the area than meets the eye. Dubrovnik was nearly
destroyed during the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s, yet it has been painstakingly rebuilt over the years. You can still see evidence of the war if you look closely at the famous red roof tiles, because the ones that were replaced after being bombed out are slightly different colors than the original tiles.
 
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
My least favorite destinations are those where the only “cultural experiences” include laying on the beach during the day and partying every night, only to repeat the process for a week straight without ever leaving the resort. That is pretty much my travel nightmare. I travel because I love history, culture, and seeing the way different people live around the world. If I wanted to party into oblivion, I might just as well do it at home.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
In 2011, my dad took me and my brother to Tanzania for two weeks. We spent half of the trip wilderness hiking and camping in the African bush, an experience that was unlike anything I had ever done before. The trip was more than just a typical safari-vacation for us, though, because Tanzania was also the place that my dad grew up. His parents were missionaries in Arusha, and he lived there from when he was a baby until he returned to the U.S. at age 17. This was his first trip back to Tanzania in twenty years, and the first time my brother and I got to finally see the places we had been hearing about in stories our entire lives. The trip brought both tears and laughter, but having that shared experience definitely brought us closer together.
 
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
 
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
 
Close encounters of the elephant kind
Close encounters of the elephant kind

 

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
I have traveled so much in the past two years that I pretty much have packing down to a science. I generally try to travel with only a carry-on, mostly because I am cheap and hate paying baggage fees. The possibility of forgetting things used to worry me, but I’ve since realized that stressing over something like a toothbrush is not worth it. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world; I promise you will be able to buy a new toothbrush when you get there.
That being said, I always take my camera (of course), a good book, and a pair of earplugs. Nothing can ruin a trip like a symphony of snores coming from your seat mates on a 14 hour overnight bus ride in Morocco.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
I have been living in the Netherlands for months now, but my Dutch boyfriend has still never been to the United States, so I would love to take him on a classic American road trip to show him my home turf. On the other side of the globe, my best friend is currently teaching at an international school in Brunei (on the island of Borneo). If I had the opportunity to go somewhere a little more exotic, visiting her would definitely be first on my list!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I love planning trips! Researching and learning about my next destination is one of my favorite things to do. I’m one of those people who brings along a stack of information with me whenever I go somewhere. I still love to do spontaneous things once I get there, but the planning is part of the fun of travel for me. It increases my anticipation and excitement for the place I’m going to be. It is always a good idea to at least learn a few words in the language of the place you will be, and not just assume that English will be spoken everywhere.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I believe it is important to pick your travel companions wisely, no matter where you are going. I grew up taking road trips with my family, which I think is a great way to develop a love of travel. Now I generally travel with my close friends. I have found that small groups are always better to travel with than large groups. Large groups (even if you are all friends) mean too many opinions. Everyone is forced to compromise on what they want to do, and in the end no one is satisfied.
 
I am definitely not a tour group kind of person. I know some people greatly enjoy tours, but I do my best to stay away from them. Tour groups hardly ever allow you to do something on a whim—the kind of random adventures that make travel exciting. I don’t want to spend ninety percent of my vacation on a bus with people from my own country. That defeats the point of travel for me.
 
Thanks so much Sarah! I enjoyed reading about all your adventures, and I am totally with you on the tours thing. I hope you guys are loving this series as much as I am! If you want to be involved, and I so hope that you do, drop me a line at gapeachabroad@gmail.com.
 
Check out these other gorgeous pictures!
 
Middle East
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
 
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
 
Europe
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
 
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
 
Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night
 
At the top of Untersberg Mountain near Salzburg, Austria
 
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
 
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For the Love of Travel Series- Christy from Living in the Promise (Guest Post)

*This week, we are going to try things a little differently, mainly because Loek takes issue with my use of orange font! So, the questions will be in bold. Let me know which one you like better. 

Today's post comes to you from someone who is more like a sister to me than a friend. Christy and I grew up across the street and one house down from each other. Along with our friend Hayley, who was four houses down from me, we were inseparable from the time we were eleven until eighteen. Then we grew up and moved away, went to college, started families, etc. But, whenever we get together it is like no time has passed at all. 

Christy just recently got her Master's in Counseling in Student Services in Higher Ed, she lives in Statesboro, Ga with her husband Scott. You can follow her at Living in the Promise. Let's start this shall we?

Where are you at this moment?

My husband and I live in Statesboro, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes West of Savannah. If you aren’t familiar with the state, we’re in the SE of the United States, and my city is in the SE of Georgia. We are very close to South Carolina and just a few short hours away from Florida. We recently bought a house, so I’ll probably be here for the next 5 years at least!
 
Where did you grow up?
 
Snellville, GA, which is close to Atlanta, that state’s capitol.
 
Do you have to travel for your job?
 
Very little. Sometimes I have to travel to other cities for conferences or other events, but it’s usually just to Savannah or occasionally Jacksonville, Florida.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
My favorite place I’ve ever visited would probably have to be London. I studied abroad and spent 6 weeks there in the Summer of 2007. It’s definitely the farthest I’ve ever traveled and for the longest amount of time. Part of what I loved about it was simply the independence of doing something so outside of my normal routine and having the guts to do it without any family or close friends by my side. Fortunately, I made close friends while I was there (one of them is actually my sister-in-law now because after coming back to the States, I met her brother and we fell in love.) But what I loved about London itself was the way that everyone walked around and used public transportation to get places, the history, the beautiful landmarks, the pubs, the plays, and the accents!!
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I guess my least favorite place that I’ve visited would have to be Nassau in the Bahamas. I’ve been twice. The first time I just visited the city itself. I’m not a big market shopper, so I wasn’t impressed with the straw market that everyone raves about, and I felt very uncomfortable with all the people trying to talk me into buying things. We went to Senor Frogs for lunch and it felt like a Spring Break party which is not really my scene. And I didn’t feel particularly safe walking around the city. The second time I visited, I went to Atlantis which was BEAUTIFUL! But I realize that’s just for tourists and isn’t a good depiction of what the city is really like.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
This is a hard one!! It would probably have to be during my honeymoon in Aruba. Everything was beautiful and fun and exciting, but I think my favorite thing was planning all the activities with my husband and realizing that I would be spending the rest of my life making plans with him and I couldn’t be happier about it!
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
It depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a week or less, I usually try to pack at least one outfit per day, and maybe a couple extra ones for just lounging around or fancy ones for going out. I hardly ever go through all of them, but I’m terrible about packing things “just in case!” If it’s a longer trip, like my trip to London, I try to pack enough basic pieces like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, etc…things that can be mixed and matched, and just plan to do laundry. I always pack way more underwear than I’ll ever need! For other, non-clothing items, I always make a list just to make sure I don’t forget anything. I always pack a camera, sunscreen, aloe (I burn easily!), and at least one book.
 
 
 
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
My husband and I are thinking about our anniversary trip (May 30th is the big day…it’ll be 4 years!). We may go on another cruise (it’ll be our third one) or we may just do something low-key like getting a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia or Tennessee. We’ve also talked about doing a long weekend in Charleston or something. Honestly it’s going to depend on our tax refund and how much vacation time I can get at work!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
We usually do one big vacation a year for our anniversary, and then maybe a couple weekend trips throughout the year. And we usually do a week at a beach house with my hubby’s family during the summer. When it comes to our anniversary, we first consider money. We usually spend most or all of our tax refund on that trip. So, we wait until we file taxes to see what we’re working with. Then we try to plan accordingly. After we have a destination in mind, we research all the attractions and make lists of things we want to do. We are definitely planners! When we took a trip to Disney World for our 2-year anniversary we had custom maps ordered from Disney that were specially marked with all the attractions we wanted to visit while we were there.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
I’m happy with trips small or big. I just love getting away for a while and spending quality time with my hubby. I think my dream right now would be to go back to London and take him with me. It was such a special time in my life and I have such wonderful memories from there. I just want to share those with him in some way. There are SO many places I’ve never been and would love to visit, but I don’t have one particular place I want to see more than others. I’m open to almost anything as long as the company is good! (Or to visit one of your besties who lives across the Atlantic?)
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I like city trips, like London. But I often feel like beach vacations can be the most relaxing and affordable. Sometimes we are working with a small budget and we just want something where we can be together and relax and forget about work or school or whatever else life has been throwing at us lately. Beaches often fit the bill better than anything else. And it’s much easier to control how much you spend at the beach. I don’t mind flying, but we don’t often go on vacations that require it. Plus I find that car trips can be a fun way to kick off a vacation. I love singing in the car or just having time to talk.
 
 
Thanks so much Christy! If you have any questions or comments leave them below! We love comments! Let me know how you feel about the new layout! Don't forget if you want to participate in this series, send an email to gapeachabroad.com
 
England
 
London Eye
 
London Big Ben
 
Stonehenge
 
Savannah
 
Savannah Forsyth Park
 
Savannah
 
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba Sunset
 
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