Even if you're NOT in college: 10 Reasons to Consider Couchsurfing this Summer

One of the folks over at Best Online Colleges dropped me a note to tell me about their recent post: 10 Reasons to Consider Couchsurfing this Summer. I'm a member of CouchSurfing - albeit a noob with much to brave and learn - and am always keen to learn more about this service.

It's a quality list with a nice introduction to key considerations any potential surfer could use. If you've been considering CouchSurfing, you might want to check it out. Admittedly their use, in #6, of the phrase "most desirable cities" made me pause a bit, since to me "largest" and "most populated" and "most popular with tourists" isn't, to me, necessarily the same thing as "most desirable," I still think it's a useful list. Maybe you'll find it so, too.

Nature vs nurture & the laid-back traveler; meeting my parents one more time in WV

Packing the lightest back of my entire travel history, I called my mom to find out if she has a hair dryer in her own. "No. But I have a curling iron!" I am my mother's daughter, and answers just like that regularly come from my own lips. So I mostly cut her some slack and grabbed one of my own. Then she said, "It sounds like you're about to leave. You might beat us there!"

I beg your pardon?! It was a couple of hours ago that she called to say that they were leaving Greenville (SC) to make the drive to West Virginia, where I'm meeting my parents. The tasks I've accomplished since that call astound even me, so I figured they'd beat me by miles. Alas, my folks have stopped in Asheville to enjoy a late, leisurely lunch and enjoy this beautiful day.

And so it is when Watsons take a road trip. Which is why instead of

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Between posts on the would-be travel blog; find your Wayfarin' Vagabond!

You can't post an announcement about wanderlust and just disappear from the blog. It's bad form. The people who show up and read it will think you're off having adventures. And they'd be half right. I'm having adventures right here in town. Work adventures, that is.

After getting all geared up to go on a little southern jaunt, I got sick, which led to getting behind on some projects, and I've been here ever since. I missed my California friends during their Atlanta stay,

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And just like that, the wanderlust came back!

The thing about having nomadic wiring is that you can only ignore the urge to go away for so long. Even if your destination isn't all sexy and fancy like Cabo, being "somewhere else" after a while - anywhere else but here, even when "here" is perfectly lovely and exceedingly agreeable in every way - will start to feel imperative. Because it's here, see. And nomads? We sometimes just need to be there. It's that simple!

You can get cozy for a while. You can find a groove and keep a schedule and even enjoy a rhythm that feels a little "normal" for a while. You might even convince yourself maybe you are like your more typical friends, for a while. And then? At the slightest mention of a plan that might unfold somewhere else... well, just be alert. Things start to change in the brain.

It is my firm belief that you're better off if you pay attention to these travel urges and ignore the inner voice that whispers "You should wait and make a bigger, better plan for later." Maybe not. Maybe you should just turn this urge into a plan and go have a blast in SC and GA and AL. Because as of right now, that's where I'm pretty sure I'm going. Because one of the great things about being somewhere else is that it's very often not at all about the destination, but the people who will be in those destinations. And interesting people are everywhere. Even in deep south states with little towns nobody else ever heard of.

This little spark of a plan started while

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The Fearful Traveler - Guest Post

This guest post was written by professional writer, Dena Harris, who also travels. Or traveler who also writes. Both are true.

Author Dena Harris in front of a pyramid in EgyptI am not a good traveler. Not even close.

Let’s start with luggage. Chronic overpacker doesn’t begin to cover it. Ever see the movie Titanic with the huge trunks tied up with rope being hauled up the gangplanks? My luggage and I would fit right in. I make no distinction in packing for a weekend trip or 14-day cruise. Who knows when a ballgown or mosquito netting may come in handy? "Be prepared," that’s my motto.

I’m fascinated by travel advice such as taking limited clothing and finding a laundry mat halfway through a trip in which to do a quick load. Do people actually do this? Because let me tell you, Princess is not doing laundry while on vacation. She is also not going to buy travel underwear that can be washed in a hotel sink and hung out to dry on a shower curtain rod overnight. Vacation is a time to escape reality. Having my husband walk into the bathroom and see the wicking granny-panties I wore all day air-drying is keeping it a little too real. And me walking into the bathroom and seeing his

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What about the Wayfarin' Vagabond in 2011? Two Parts

Hello there and Happy 2011! How have your travels, travel plans, travel fantasies been going lately?

Around here, the only travel on the calendar was a recent 200 mile drive to visit my folks' and another 200 mile drive back here the next day. It was lovely, the tunes were awesome, and I amused myself on the road mightily. But big travel? Well, that's taking shape. But mostly in my mind and journal right now.

Part I

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When a nomad settles in for a nice stretch of "normal" home life

One night a few weeks ago I was watching a movie with my roommates. Every time I call them that, I get a little twinge of something in my belly related to "That sounds so long-term. So indefinite." That very topic made its way into the conversation. I think we were discussing the intermittent idea of selling the house they own to live somewhere slightly less expansive. It's a pretty big house. Which of course would very likely reduce my sizeable spread down here in the basement apartment that is my current, cozy home. Probably not gonna' happen, but let's don't rule it out.

I don't even remember what

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My new Omni-Heat® Heat Elite™ Jacket from Columbia: Part 1

Screen Capture from Columbia's Omni-Heat® lineIt's 17° in Greensboro this morning. So when I leave here later today for a meeting, I'll be wearing my new Omni-Heat® Heat Elite™ jacket. In fact, today is the perfect time to tell you about this awesome gift that Columbia sent to me.

First, the back story for complete transparency. On Nov. 8, someone from the Columbia Marketing Team searched "going camping" through the Google blog directory, and found this site. That wasn't long after I'd been writing about my big idea to go camping alone. (Those familiar with this blog will also recall that I had already realized I wasn't yet ready for a solo camping trip.) Still, Columbia found these posts and learned that

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On relationship to stuff - after the latest visit to my storage unit

Looks like it’s time  to unload more stuff...Yesterday during a rare 34 minutes of free time on my way somewhere else, I decided to go by my storage unit instead of arriving early to my main destination. The last two times there, I'd unsuccessfully searched for some missing cold-weather shoes. This currently-limited shoe selection has had me close to just purchasing more on several recent occasions. And I do not need more shoes; I need to find the ones I own.

That's the thing about keeping the bulk of your possessions in storage as you flit from place to place - the longer you do it, the less organized your possessions can become. No matter how efficiently you label your boxes.

Since I put my things into storage and "freed up my life" to come and go as I please, I've steadily given away things I increasingly realized I didn't need. And each time I let another box of clothes go, or a chair, or box of unused fabric, I've felt better and better. But these feelings of comfort also mask the realization that I have to do more. Each time I go to switch out clothing for the changing seasons or drop off something I only need on occasion, I realize that we've moved well past the time when having these things kept safely for me was really necessary. The more time that passes and I live the way I do, the more I know that most of the things I store need to go.

I found my shoes yesterday. In fact, I found

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The Pessemiers Paint Italy

My friend emailed me this note: "If you haven't signed up for the "quirky" woman blog you must not miss this one.  What a dream these people are living!!  Oh, to be young again, or have a 'do over' !"

The "quirky woman" of whose blog she speaks is this artist named Laurie Fox Pessemier who, with Blair Pessemier, left Seattle in '93 for Paris. Their website, www.paintfox.com, features both their art, and these Suck You Right In blog posts. The ones I've read thus-far have sucked me in, at any rate.

Like the one from Tuesday,

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Let the Smithsonian help with your Travel Life List

Have you ever made a list of places you wanted to go sometime in your life? I think it's possible we all have such a list, even if we've never written it. Maybe you'd like to see the amazing art exhibited in the Louvre or climb Machu Picchu. Perhaps, instead, you'll just be satisfied if you see the Grand Canyon.

If you're like me, all three of these are on your master list - that Life List I first wrote about back here and

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Budget Travel's Call for unique travel tips!

Over at Budget Travel's blog, "This Just In," they've put out a call for unique travel tips. To get the conversation started and help readers know the kinds of tips they're looking for, they offered a list of great past suggestions. Among them, I thought these were useful:

  1. Pack a Ziploc bag for any and all purposes.
  2. Bring a nightlight so you don’t stub your toe in dark, unfamiliar hotel rooms.
  3. Pack old clothes so you can throw them away on vacation and fill the newly empty space in your suitcase with souvenirs. 

Except I would suggest not throwing the clothes away but, instead, finding a (nearly always accessible) second-hand store or donation box and passing the unused items on to someone else. Or, at very least, perhaps you can find a nice person to help. Like my Seattle friend who was

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Baring it all in an LA Korean spa

"You remind me of a childhood friend. So much. She still lives in Belgium. When you go there one day, you should meet her." Regine Verougstraete, now living in Los Angeles, was my back seat buddy as the four of us drove to the Korean spa where we would spend the afternoon.

The anticipation was exciting and excruciating. Exciting because, having grown up in the southeast part of the US, I'd never been in a Korean spa before. Excruciating because it's common practice to take off your clothes when you enter these places. I was spending the afternoon with my new friends, 3 gorgeous women who have enjoyed this and other such spas many times before. I, on the other hand, generally make it a practice not to remove my clothes on a Sunday afternoon with any of my girlfriends - old or new.

It's not that I'm a prude. Far from it. Actually, I rather love the sensation of nudity. It's just this whole "body image" issue. I could write pages. I won't. Let's just say my habit of keeping my clothes on in a room filled with people I don't

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The Happy Thanksgiving Post

The greatest pleasure from this year's Thanksgiving - and there were many - was being the one to turn my nephew on to the enormous pleasure that is mooshing room-temperature butter through one's fingers into a bowl. Where we then mixed the ingredients for my "Bigmama's" dressing. And although he never knew her, he has now been exposed to the exact techniques she taught me. Bigmama would have been proud - I don't think anyone else ever enjoyed it more than this guy did today.

A whole park just for sunsets; a beauty-kissed evening in Seattle

photo taken from inside a car, the backs of other cars in front of us, and the sunset in front of us allLess than a week remained before I would leave Seattle and return to the east coast. My friend and I were still enjoying our full day that included the tour of my first chocolate factory. We discussed tomorrow's drive to Vancouver. Driving into the falling evening, then suddenly, as we turned a corner, we caught sight of the sky.

And then? My friend started driving with the intensity of some madwomen, though I knew she had a purpose and I should trust her. I'd enjoyed a similar drive with her husband behind the wheel 4 and a half years earlier. "We might just make it to Sunset Hill if traffic lets us."

Photo of the sunset taken from Sunset Hill Park in Seattle, WAAnd then I remembered why there is a whole park in Seattle meant to allow visitors to watch these gorgeous sunsets.

Photo of the sunset taken from Sunset Hill Park in Seattle, WAWe made it before the color fell away behind those mountains. And I enjoyed a rare and silent glimpse of one of the more majestic scenes gifted to us. Sunsets aren't rare, of course. It's these kinds of pauses that can be rare. The appreciation of such wonderous beauty in the midst of our bustling schedules.

Photo of the sunset taken from Sunset Hill Park in Seattle, WAOthers had come, too. A man and his young son. A pair of lovers, cuddled into each other, away from the chilly night air. Another photographer standing on a bench, using her Truly Impressive Equipment. And everyone was a bit more silent than usual. We stood in awe, all together, our silence stilling the night air as the color faded and the breeze blew the water below.

Why don't I rush to gaze quietly upon more sunsets?

Photo of a sign telling about Sunset Hill Park, Seattle, WA

Write about your travels; win a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia!

The declaration: WIN a 10-day cultural tour for two of Vietnam and Cambodia with Buffalo Tours! grabbed my attention immediately. But not for the reasons you might think. I won't submit a travel story to this contest, this year. I haven't yet done the kind of travel that would capture the judges' attention. But do you know how many good writers are in my circle of influence? And do you know how many of these writers also love travel? Turns out more than you might think. I can think of about 10 friends right now, for whom this contest was created.

Wanderlust and Lipstick where I learned about the contest, is
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When you (accidentally) break your successful NaBloPoMo streak...?

It's one thing to consider a goal you've been working toward, and decide, "Nah. I'm not doing that anymore." Making a conscious decision has power. Sometimes that power is flawed and skewed, sure! At least this writer is capable of justifying just about anything you put in front of her. But still, it's got to do with owning your decisions and living with your choices. All that.

But failing at something because you forgot? C'mon now! Not cool.

That's what I woke up to, this morning. The discovery that all that fun and play I indulged in last night? I forgot to sneak away and write the blog post I was formulating in my head throughout the day. Just plain forgot. (Which, to those who don't know why that matters, is because I have been writing a blog post every day this month, as a participant in NaBloPoMo. That's all. Nothing earth-shattering. Only; sigh...)

So today I'm faced with not only the realization that not only did I blog consistently for 19 sequential days and then miss a day by accident, but a smattering of resulting questions, too:

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What is your definition of Adventure?

The guy on the television had the look of someone who had seen a lot more of the world than I had... and was going to see much more than most of us can even imagine, too. I can't even remember now what scenery was behind him. A craggy rock or sharp mountain ledge or waterfall, perhaps. What distracted me so much that I forgot to embed his physical surroundings in my memory? It was what he said. And even after all that, I'll still have to paraphrase:

Adventure is doing something no one else has done before.

Come again? You're telling me that if

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