Category Archives: travel tips

The 3 Most Interesting Walks In Europe Any Hiker Should Complete


Walking is a meditative activity. It’s where the best thinking is done and can connect you to your physical body as well as your deepest reflective thoughts. Walking through a beautiful environment only serves this relationship. Walking is great exercise and will keep you younger, healthier and trim for longer and longer.

But walking around your neighborhood isn’t always the most interesting experience imaginable. Sometimes you need to get somewhere new and challenge your perceptions. Sometimes this might even mean traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to seeing what other continents have to offer.

Some of the most beautiful walks in the world are situated in Europe. With the deep historical and religious cultures situated there, there is an amazing amount of detail in the scenery to keep you fascinated for some time. You may even be able to walk historical routes taken by early religious pilgrims. What could be more exciting than that?

If you’re intended to travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the upcoming legislation that will require non-visa required visitors to an EU country to make an application online. Learn more at the ETIAS website: The legislation isn’t likely to take effect until 2020, but it’s worth researching into now.

Without further ado, here are the best European walks you can take today:

Spain – Camino De Santiago

A deeply spiritual journey, the Camino is a walk popularized by pilgrims of the past who traveled to the apostle St James in the Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is situated in the north of Spain. Part of the trek also goes through France, so it’s a great opportunity to visit two destinations for the price of one and see the differences between the culture.

Germany – Westweg Trail

This is just part of the greater walking trail in Europe named E1, and is largely contained of the black forest in south German, and connects the towns of Basel and Pforzheim. It’s an ambitious trail, totaling at a distance of around 180 miles. It will take a large and ambitious investment to walk it, but it’s likely to be life changing for those who do.

You might be thinking that the distance would be difficult for luggage considerations, but there are services there that will take care of this for you, leaving you time to explore the trail unweighted and unburdened.

Scotland – West Highland Way

Linking the towns of Fort William and Milngavie, the West Highland trail is the most well-known and traveling hiking path in the UK. It will take roughly a week to ten days to complete, and will give you a varied and inclusive Scottish experience. While there you should make the most of the Scottish experience, visit local pubs and eat Scottish delicacies. There’s no better way to get a taste of Scotland than hiking this route.

Three walks, three vastly different cultures, and geographical locations. Keeping these varied locales as a priority will grant you vastly different walking experiences, in different climates and time investment requirements. Be sure you pack the essentials and you’re more than likely to experience a life-changing journey.

Old Town Bandon


Location: Bandon, Oregon, right by the sea

Length: Several blocks and piers


Foot Traffic

Last weekend I took a solo road trip. Bandon was my first stop along the Southern Oregon Coast. Because I had several other stops to make throughout the afternoon, I couldn’t stay long, but was able to walk a few blocks. Lots of other people were enjoying the sunny, yet slightly windy Saturday. I visited a few stores, my favorite being Cranberry Sweets. This shop is filled with so many unique samples, and I definitely wasn’t the only person enjoying pb&j popcorn and cheddar cheese fudge. Lots of others were on the pier to look at the scenery. Even kids were out there, utilizing complementary life jacket rentals for their safety near the water.


Foot Feelings

During high school, I spent my summers working at Lake Bradley Christian Camp in Bandon. Besides volunteering there for one day during college break, I haven’t been back. Although was only able to drive by the front entrance of the retreat center, walking through Old Town Bandon was a walk down memory lane for me. Since this was just the start to one of the most enjoyable weekend getaways I’ve ever had, new memories were formed as well. I hope your visit to Bandon will form warm memories as well.



-Bring a jacket to protect yourself from the wind!

-Although you may have difficulty parking right in front of a particular store or restaurant, there are plenty of places for your car within Old Town, both on the sides of streets and in a parking lot.

-Be polite with your free sampling at Cranberry Sweets… it can be easy to go crazy.

-If you can manage to visit on a fog-free day, you can view a lighthouse and other great sites.

-Enjoy the sculptures near the water. I think they’re new since I don’t remember them when I lived there. (Well, fairly new; I was last there in 2009!)

Britt Trails


Location: Jacksonville, Oregon


Distance: We walked the Ziglar trail and part of the Gold Gulch trail, which was about a mile and a half. One trail loop is four miles long, so choose your own adventure!


Foot Traffic

I went early this morning while doing childcare in hopes of tiring him out. (It didn’t work until very late in the afternoon, when I didn’t want him to take a nap of course!) He asked me if anyone else was on the trail, to which I replied. “I don’t think so. There weren’t many cars and I don’t think many people walk at 8:30 on a Friday morning.” I was quickly proven wrong as we were greeted by runners, hikers, and even dogs throughout our entire walk.


Foot Feelings

I enjoy Jacksonville as a whole. You’ve read about some of my adventures there, such as my Chinese New Year experiences. But I have yet to conquer the entire network of trails that lie just behind the renowned Britt Gardens. Since six-year-olds tire fairly quickly when you don’t have enough snacks to bribe them to go further, I didn’t accomplish this today, either. I have a feeling that you will hear more about the specific trails that are part of the Britt Woods as I make return trips until all of them have been trod by my own two feet!


Foot Notes

-At most of the trail entrances, there is an informational board featuring flowers and plants you might see along the way. This is a good time of year to try to find some of them.

-For optimal parking, go to the city parking lot next to the library. You only have to cross the street to get to the Britt Gardens and the trail heads. Most trail heads also have small dirt parking lots as well.

-Make sure to bring water. We found several drinking fountains, but none of them were working. (Hopefully they just forgot to turn them on after the winter!)

-Bring two quarters so that you can get a trail map or an interpretive trail brochure.


The Ultimate Canadian Adventure Checklist

Lots of people visit Canada every single year. It’s one of the best countries on earth for those who like to have an adventure. The vast open and untouched landscapes are stunning and unlike anything else on the planet. You’ll found snowy mountainous regions and lots of prairies and plains. There is something for everyone, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience. However, it’s possible to get things wrong, and so I wanted to offer a helping hand. One this page, you will find a checklist you need to use to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important. If you take the advice from this page, nothing should ruin your trip.




Make sure all travel documents are in order


When traveling to Canada, ensure you have the correct travel documents. It says at that lots of people make mistakes. Firstly, you need to search Google to discover if you need a Visa. That will depend on the country from which you plan to travel. Getting a Visa for Canada is easy, and so you just need to apply online. However, lots of people don’t realize they need that document. That causes trouble when they land, and the government won’t let them enter the country. So, sort it out in advance! Also, make sure you check your passport. It needs to be valid for at least another six months from the date you fly.


Ensure you pack a range of different clothing


As I mentioned a moment ago, the climate in Canada can alter drastically depending on your location. For that reason, you’ll want to pack lots of different clothing. Take waterproofs in case you decide to check out Niagara Falls. You’ll also need thick coats if you want to spend time in the Rocky Mountains. Of course, there are plenty of areas of the country that get a lot of sunshine during the summer. So, you might also pack some shorts and t-shirts. Just make sure you have clothing for every eventuality, and you’ll be okay.


Create a plan before you leave home


Canada is so vast that it’s impossible to see everything in a single trip. For that reason, it makes sense to create a list of the most popular sights. That way, you can plan a route and make all the arrangements in advance. Failure to do that could mean you struggle to find ways of seeing your favorite locations. In most instances, the best course of action involves hiring a car for the duration of your stay. Experts at say that’s essential. There are lots of companies that offer that service, and you can contact them online. With a bit of luck, they would have the vehicle waiting at the airport for you when you land.


Whenever you decide to visit Canada, I hope you have a fantastic time. I went there a few years ago, and I can’t wait to return. If you need some tips about the best cities, Calgary in Alberta is beautiful. It’s also only a couple of hours drive away from the Rockies. So, there’s plenty of beautiful sights to keep your eyes busy.

First Friday Art Walk


Location: Ashland, Oregon… only available on the first Friday of the month!


Length: Galleries are available all around Ashland. However, most are located close to each other on the main street of downtown, which is what I chose to stick to.


Foot Traffic

I doubled up on walks last Friday. After dropping off the kid I explored Hawthorne Park with, I headed south to Ashland. Although I started this stroll solo, I soon found myself among a sea of humanity. Many other participants had come from all over the place to explore the unique art of Ashland. Although some of the art was from faraway artists, many galleries allowed several artists to come stand next to their work and answer questions. Musicians lined the streets and occasionally inside galleries to provide a variety of eclectic music. It was a fun mix of people.


Foot Feelings

Downtown Ashland bustles with art galleries and restaurants. When I arrived around 5:30, I figured I’d browse a few of the galleries, then choose a restaurant to dine at before exploring more art. After a few galleries, I realized that restaurants would be unnecessary tonight! Most of the galleries served cheese, fruit, chocolate, cookies, or other snacks, as well as beverages (both wine and kid-friendly).

Despite living close to Ashland for the majority of my life, I’ve only been to the First Friday Art Walk one other time. During my freshman year of college, my humanities teacher made it a requirement that we all attend one night. I’ve wanted to go back since, but either forget or get too busy by the time the first Friday of the month rolls around. I’m glad I made it a priority for April!


Foot Notes

-Ashland hosts an art walk the first Friday of every month from 5-8pm. Each month is a little different in which galleries are open and what art is displayed (and what refreshments are served!), so your experience is guaranteed to be unique!

-Can’t make it to the art walk? Ashland still has lots of public art displayed 24/7, and numerous galleries that are open every day.

-You can enjoy other shops and services between galleries. Maybe even enjoy performing arts in the form of a Shakespeare play (I at least went to the gift shop). I also took a quick walk at dusk through Lithia Park, since that’s where I parked my car.

-I realized that my favorite type of art is functional art. While there is value to a piece that only serves the purpose of decorating a wall, I would rather have art that can tell time, help me in the kitchen, or serve as furniture. Last week I discovered a piece of art that I’ve found extremely functional, and I got it before I even went to Ashland! Strawesome is an artistic company that makes decorative glass straws. I got one that I’ve used just to dress up my drinking glass, as well as protect my teeth. (Acid and sugar in beverages can cause tooth decay. Because I often drink ACV water, using this straw is promoting my holistic health while also promoting my enamel health!) Because Strawesome straws are reusable and not made of plastic, they help the environment’s health, too! An especially great idea since Earth Day is coming up. Carry one of these awesome straws around as you sip and stroll through eccentric Ashland’s art galleries, and you’re sure to get some compliments!


Strawesome provided me with a glass straw so that I could review it. No other compensation was made. Thanks!

Hawthorne Park


Location: Downtown Medford, Oregon

Distance: The 20-acre park has a walking path around the perimeter. You can do the math if you’re motivated.


Foot Traffic

Hawthorne Park seems to always have people there, especially on weekends and sunny days. I stopped by on Sunday for a picnic, bit ended up going elsewhere because the park was overpopulated. Because today was Friday and windy, there were fewer people. It was still a mixed hat though, from the kids and moms on the playground to the homeless hippies who happily accepted some of the cookies my six-year-old walking buddy and I were noshing along the way.


Foot Feelings

The urban oasis known as Hawthorne Park has been around for a long time. In college I would sometimes seek refuge there after class. But in the past couple of years, Hawthorne Park has undergone a major renovation. Basically the only things that have stayed the same are the name and land. We started and ended our walk at the playground. It’s the best of both worlds: half of it has the latest fun equipment, and the other half is a nature-inspires play area. We walked past a few different sports courts, fenced-in dog parks, and a skate area. Part of the path goes under the I-5, which is also shared with the Bear Creek bike path. That trail runs through five different cities, definitely a feat I should write about if I ever accomplish the whole path. I also love the murals painted on the underpass.


Trail Tips

-There are two parking lots at either end of the park. The one closest to downtown has a time limit on weekdays, but the one next to the playground (on Hawthorne Road) is free to park for as long as you want.

-Go in the daylight. While I’ve never encountered an issue, downtown can get sketchy after dark. I think the park is officially closed at sunset, anyway.

-The Pear Blossom Festival happens once a year in April. (In this case, it’s tomorrow.) That will probably be the only time parking will be an issuehere, since most other nearby parking lots are closed off for the run and parade. My secret is to park across the street in the expansive movie theater parking lot.


Upper Table Rock


Location: Just outside Central Point of Southern Oregon.


Distance: 1.25 miles up, and 1.25 miles down. I only walked around a portion of the perimeter once I got to the top, but I could have easily walked for miles at the 2091-foot elevation.


Foot Traffic

Because the unique wildflowers that just started blooming, and because it is Oregon’s last Friday of spring break, Upper Table Rock was bustling with visitors today. While the parking lot usually isn’t completely filled up like it was today, this, along with neighboring Lower Table Rock, is one of the most popular hiking spots in Southern Oregon.

IMG_20170331_133145While I passed a few people on the strenuous hike up, most people liked to linger on the flat top. I decided to walk along the ledge until I came to a few trees. I pulled my hammock out of my Lewis N Clark convertipack and set it up between two branches of an octopus madrone. Although there was solid ground on either side, behind the tree was a cliff! The dropoff provided a beautiful view. Using my two-person hammock by myself allowed me some relaxation and solitude. Yet I could still hear the conversations of those who passed by. Every group, family, and couple commented on my hammock! If I decided to pop my head, they would compliment my creativity in making Table Rock an even better experience. One person even asked if she could take a picture.


Foot Feelings

While the highlight of this walk was actually the part where I was relaxing instead of walking, the best item I brought up there wasn’t the hammock, but rather the bag I carried it in.


I got the Lewis N Clark anti-theft convertipack specifically for travel and walks, but since I got it a week ago, I have used it every day for every occasion. It replaced my purse, and now I feel more secure with security features like RFID blocking card holders. It matches both work and casual outfits. I took it to the movies. I took it to the gym, and was surprised to find this little bag could hold not only my purse essentials and luxuries, but also my water bottle and a change of workout clothes. I was even more surprised at what it held today… the entire hammock plus my packed lunch! All I needed to carry by hand was a water bottle. The tear-resistant straps can alter to me a cross-body or over-the-shoulder handbag, but my favorite variation is wearing it as a backpack.


The views of the Rogue Valley atop the Table Rocks are absolutely enchanting. It’s worth the steep trail to get there.


Trail Tips

-Table Rock is enjoyed by thousands year-round, but the most popular time is wildflower season from March to May. I try to avoid it during rain since the trail becomes thick with mud. The lack of shade in summer can cause sunburn and heat-related issues as well.

-Because this is a natural area, no water spigots are available, and the only toilet is at the parking lot. Plan accordingly.

-Realize you could fall 800 feet of you’re careless, but enjoy creeping close to the edge.

-Lots of children hike here. But because it can be a long and strenuous journey,  I’d only recommend bringing the whole family if you regularly hike… unless you’re willing to carry them most of the way!

Lewis N Clark provided the anti-theft convertipack for me to review and give my honest opinion. No other compensation was made- I even had to pay for my own gas to get out to Upper Table Rock!

-Lewis N Clark also provided a packing tube and hanging toiletry kit for me to use in my travels. Although they didn’t come into play today, stay tuned because they will be featured soon!



7 Ways to Stop Bed Bugs

When I was sixteen years old, bed bugs weren’t the common travel fear that they are today. In fact, I considered them as mythical as unicorns and leprechauns, nothing more than a placeholder in the rhyme “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”.

bed-46208_640But I did let the bed bugs bite. My bed in Peru appeared to be bug-free. Then my friend and her roommates asked me to spend the night in their room. I woke up that morning with hundreds of marks all over my legs. (The bugs left my friend alone- not fair!) The weeks that followed included itching, scratching, bleeding, and dozens of people concerned that the scabs on my legs meant that I contracted some sort of infection.

I returned to that same Peruvian hotel two years later and managed to remain bed bug-free. In fact, in all the cities and all the countries I’ve visited, I only have that one bed bug story to tell. Here’s my advice for preventing- and dealing with- bed bugs.


  1. Know that bed bugs aren’t classist. I’ve heard a few stories from people getting bed bugs at hostels. But I’ve heard more from people who stayed in nice hotels. My friends who told me stories purposely avoided cheap motels because they were concerned about the cleanliness. In reality, I’ve heard more of a response from the hostel industry regarding cleanliness standards to avoid infestations. The price tag on your room is no indication of likelihood for bed bugs, but there are a few other factors to look at before booking.
  2. Don’t BYOB (bring your own bedding). At first this seems counterintuitive. Providing your own bedding means you’re sure the linens are clean, right? True, but you don’t know how clean the bedding was with the person who slept on that bed before you, or the person before that, or the person before that. When I’m looking at hostels or AirBnBs, I eliminate any that allow me to bring my own bedding, no matter how nice the rest of the lodging may seem. Accommodations that enforce a “no outside bedding” rule have taken great strides in reducing bed bugs. I think it’s worth it to support these lodging options. Even if I’m staying at someone’s home, I only bring my own blankets if they ask me to. The only place I bring my own bedding is camping cabins. These backwoods locations often don’t have adequate laundry facilities to provide linen service, but I do make sure that their mattresses have a bug-resistant cover. And just for a peace of mind, hostels and other accommodations have to adhere to their location’s government requirements of cleaning between guests, so you can expect clean sheets.
  3. Keep luggage away from furniture. Why do so many people set their suitcase on their hotel bed? Metal furniture can still harbor bed bugs, but it’s not as likely as mattresses, couches, or other surfaces with lots of hiding places, so set your luggage there to prevent tiny hitchhikers. Also make sure to keep your luggage away from anyone else’s luggage. If a hostel offers personal storage lockers, that’s usually a good way to avoid cross-contamination.
  4. Do an inspection. There are a few techniques to scan a room for bed bugs. It’s not foolproof, but if you find anything suspicious when you first enter a room, you can leave immediately and save tons of trouble. First, lift the sheets off the corner of the bed and inspect the mattress for any small dots (which could be feces, blood, or bug carcasses). While you’re at the bed, tear the comforter off and toss it in a corner. Those are hardly ever washed and have no business being on the same surface where you’ll sleep. If the bed has a box spring, move the mattress slightly so you can inspect one corner of the box spring for the same signs you were looking for on the mattress. Next, grab a flashlight and turn out all the room lights. Shine your flashlight in power outlets, furniture screws, and other small, dark openings. You’re looking for any movement inside these.
  5. Notify the accommodation staff of any concerns. A good hospitality business should be more concerned about bed bugs than you are. If you find any sign indicating bed bugs, notify staff so they can change your room (to another building if necessary) and thoroughly clean your former one. If you get bitten overnight, you may be entitled to some sort of compensation.
  6. Be wary of bed bugs outside of your room. Looking back to my bed bug experience, I feel bad for doing some activities after I was bitten. (Back then, I didn’t realize how easily they could spread.) The furniture I sat on, the bus I rode, the wool stores I shopped at, and the airplane I flew home on all unknowingly increased their risk of bed bugs with my presence. Because I haven’t heard of industries outside of lodging hospitality doing anything to prevent bed bugs, I try to be extra careful. Now, on days that I fly, I always wear long pants. I also wrap my hair in a scarf if I’m going to sleep on a plane or bus. There may not be much that I can do in these situations, but a barrier of fabric can sometimes deter bedbugs. I also carry all my own luggage so that it stays separate from other traveler’s bags.
  7. Keep your travel gear outside your home. Whether I was gone for one night or one year, my suitcase stays on the porch for my first night back home. If you think you caught bed bugs, take off the clothes you’re wearing before you even step inside. (But don’t scare the neighbors; strip in your garage or backyard.) The next day, everything that can be washed goes straight to the washing machine. Everything else gets wiped down and inspected before being stored. Getting bed bugs while traveling is bad enough; you don’t want to invite them into your home!

I teamed up with Travel Fashion Girl to provide a packing list of things to take with you to help avoid bed bugs. Check it out here!


Wimer Covered Bridge

Location: Wimer, Oregon (Can’t find it on a map? It’s a small unincorporated community 8 miles north of Rogue River in Southern Oregon, off the I-5.)

Length:  85 feet. Virtually everyone can do this!


Foot Traffic

I was surprised at how many people were milling around the Wimer Covered Bridge. They all seemed to be locals though, more interested in congregating at the nearby market than looking at this bridge they see every day. Several people drove through the Covered Bridge while I was taking pictures, but as it is part of a normal road, it just might have been on their way home from work.

The child in the backseat of my car fell asleep during our calming country rise there and refused to wake up, so I had to say within a line of sight from my car. We also took this little adventure just to kill an hour, so we wouldn’t have had time to walk nearby paths even if he was awake. But there were plenty of nature stops on our way there and back that sure looked interesting!


Foot Feelings

The Wimer Covered Bridge isn’t the actual Wimer Covered Bridge. While it may look like an old fashioned structure, it’s actually less than a decade old! This bridge is a stronger replica of the one that collapsed in 2003. That one had been around since the early 1900s.

While it’s no longer on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wimer Covered Bridge is interesting in the fact that the community felt the need to rebuild. It’s also pretty exhilarating to cross. Traffic  comes from both directions, yet the bridge is only wide enough for one car!


Travel Tips

-This is really just a side stop for people traveling the I-5 area of Southern Oregon. To fill the rest of the day, check out things to do in Grants Pass, Rogue River, Gold Hill, or Medford.

-There are three other covered bridges in Jackson County . I’ve been to McKee and Antelope Creek. I guess that means I only have one left to go!


Gold Beach Treasure Hunt

Location: Gold Beach, Oregon is on the Southern Oregon Pacific Coastline.

Length: We did four miles on our recent trip. You can make it however long or short you’d like.


Foot Traffic

Gold Beach sponsors a treasure hunt from February thru April, a time that isn’t very well known to head to the beach. So most of the other people you’ll see are probably also there to find the coveted glass floats, but there are still fewer people overall than you’d find on a summer vacation day.

I participated in the Gold Beach Treasure Hunt for glass floats last year for the first time. I took a friend with me. This year, she and I continued the tradition, and we brought another friend along for her first time.


Foot Feelings

I have to start out by saying I was disappointed in not finding a glass float on this trip. Both my friend and I each managed to get one last year, and we passed by plenty of others in order to honor the “one float per person per month” rule. We searched even harder this year, yet not one of us found a float. We didn’t come across anyone who found a float, either.

At the same time, this only makes me more motivated to make a second trip back to Gold Beach soon. If I don’t find a float a second time, I may then get frustrated, but part of this activity is remembering that the joy is in the journey. We didn’t find what we came for, but we found so much more. We reunited as friends after a long time of not seeing each other, and we had adventures along the coast.

We did decide to walk back to the car by going through the downtown street instead of going down the beach again, which allowed us to participate in one of the shop’s tourist activities. But wherever you are glass floats, we’re coming for you!

img_20170221_122919Trail Tips

-Stop at the Visitor Center before you start looking. They’ll let you know where to look, which includes looking in the grass instead of the sand.

-I’ve forgotten this the past two trips, but I want to be intentional in the future: bring a bag that you can put trash in! I’d especially like to see an incentive from the Visitor Center that if you don’t find a float, they’ll still give you one if you pick up a grocery sack’s worth of trash. Hopefully they or other beaches will consider something like this in the future.

-Play by the rules. I think one of the reasons none of us could find a treasure was due to foul play by visitors before us.

-The treasure hunt is on every day in February, March, and April each year. Of course, you can always walk this beach any day of the year.

-Be prepared to get a little wet. There are some streams on the beach that don’t have an easy way to cross.

-Check out my more successful treasure hunt last year!