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Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Life on Standby

 

I am one of those extremely fortunate people who have friends that work in the aviation industry, and in their graciousness they have chosen to bestow their flight benefits upon me. With these benefits I get to fly standby, which means if there is an open seat on a flight I get to hop on that flight for extremely cheap, or even free. Sounds pretty amazing right? It is, but like with all things in life, not all is glitz and glam; there are ups and there are downs. As I was waiting at yet another airport, it occurred to me that there are some lessons I have learned flying standby that can be applied to life in general.

Here are a few things I have learned flying standby:

  • Sometimes you are lucky enough to experience life has a baller. Enjoy.every.second. Yeah, that first class ticket to Paris that cost me $300 instead of $9000 was amazing. I sipped champagne, used real cutlery and was so bewitched with my seat that turned into a bed that I didn’t sleep a wink over the Atlantic. One flight had me rethinking my entire life, and by the end of the flight I was ready to marry an old millionaire and carry a tiny dog around in my designer bag. Just kidding; kind of. Sometimes in life, you get lucky and it is easy to ruin the moment by thinking “geez, I wish I could travel like this ALL the time”- well, you can’t, so enjoy it for what it is and don’t let preoccupation with the future ruin the here and the now.
  • To have the humility and patience to deal with life when you are not treated like a VIP baller. Because you are not a paying passenger there are certain airline employees that can feel like they can improve their day by treating you like crap. Be humble. Is it worth fighting the gate agent when she is condescending and downright rude? Nah. You have no idea what people have to go through in their day. Most of the time rudeness has nothing to do with you. If we passed along graciousness and a smile who knows the chain reaction it would have.
  • You are not always going to get a seat. This applies to flights, and musical chairs. What it teaches us is that we do not always get what we want, when we want it. This is a lesson the universe has let me learn repeatedly. Instead of sitting down in the middle of the moving walkway at the Denver airport and kicking your feet in a tantrum, just breathe. You’ll make it (somewhere) eventually, which leads me too….
  • Be flexible. Everyone has plans, for their day, for their life. We hold onto our plans and our schedules with a death grip, any deviation is a cause for panic. If every plan you’ve ever made has come to fruition, we need to talk. I am jealous over here, I mean even Martha Stewart didn’t see jail coming. Flying stand by has really taught me to be flexible. One time I had an epic girls trip planned to Buenos Aires. We had researched, we had visas, we had been practicing our Spanish (by practicing I mean I could order wine in Spanish). We made it to Houston, and long story short, the flights became booked at the very last minute and there was no way we were going to make it. It was 11pm, we were exhausted, stranded, and definitely not making it to Argentina anytime soon. I looked up at the flight status board and turned to my friend and said, “Hey, how do the flights to Belize look?” As it was, no one was flying to Belize that weekend, and by 6am the next morning we all were on a flight to Belize. Was it Argentina? No. I didn’t drink wonderful wine from Mendoza, but I was able to swim with sharks on the second largest barrier reef in the world, and my Spanish? Well, I had “Uno mas cervas por favor” down. You just never know when planning for something the universe is really preparing you for something even better.
  • The view from above. When slogging through life’s crap, I have to tell myself that my perspective in that moment may not be the entire picture. I was recently taking off from the airport in my hometown, and as we started climbing in altitude we flew over a lake that I spent many summers at. In that lake, there is a rock formation that you can swim to. The rock was a popular destination to cliff dive from or hike around and find secluded tanning place. Often times the rock seemed to be a much further swim than it looked from the shore. Halfway through the swim you could get tired and cold, and making it to that rock seemed to be so much of an effort. Sometimes in the moment, it seemed hopeless – what was it worth to make it to that stupid rock anyway? Well as I flew over the lake, I realized not only how small the distance from the shore to the rock was, but how small the entire lake was. It is all about your perspective, and time usually changes our perspective. Do not get bogged down by weariness in the moment. And that rock? Yeah, some of the best memories I have of those endless teenage summers are of are swimming to that rock and finding a hidden place and tanning topless with my girlfriends- giggling in the scandal of it all. I’ll never forget that.

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#amazingvacationideas #exoticplaces #inspirational #peace Travel Advice Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Top Ten Things to See in New Zealand

I’ve just spent the last four months in New Zealand, and boy what a country! From the very top of North Island down to Milford Sound, I was able to see some sights that completely redefined “breathtaking” for me. I’ve had to use the thesaurus to find some other words besides “beautiful” and “stunning.” Unfortunately the English language is not quite sufficient to really describe New Zealand. New Zealand must be felt and experienced because any description will fall short.

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I’d like to share with you my NZed top ten. In no particular order, these are ten sights that you should see if you are visiting New Zealand.

 

  1. Milford Sound and Fiordland

 

#milfordsound #newzealand

I just should just post pictures and leave it at that. Milford Sound is considered the unofficial 8th wonder of the world, and it is justly merited. Located within Fiordland National Park in New Zealand’s South Island, Milford is three hours away from Queenstown and an hour and half from Lake Te Anau. It is the only Fiord within New Zealand that is accessible by road. Do not let that fool you though, getting to Milford is quite the trek. There is remote and then there is New Zealand remote. Hundreds of kilometers of road go by without gas station or house to be found.

#milfordsound #newzealand #topthingstoseeinnewzealand

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The trek is well worth it; your reward will be some of the most pristine landscapes you’ve ever seen. Waterfalls glide down the mountains like gossamer ropes. Penguins, dolphins, whales, seals and a variety of rare birds make the Sound their home. I chose to do the sunrise kayak tour and as I was kayaking dolphins appeared and swam around me. In the quiet mist of Milford Sound, for a brief period I experienced nirvana; absolute unity with the divinity of nature. The feeling over peace and awe completely filled me. Milford Sound’s dark waters welcomed me with a gentle embrace.

#milfordsound #kayaking #newzealand

Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth, with the waterfalls reaching sometimes thousands of meters in length. There isn’t anything in Milford but the sound and one café at the iSite center. The next available accommodations are located North by Lake Te Anau. If you are brave, camp at the many campsites between Milford and Lake Te Anau. Bring your sand fly spray though as the sandflies are truly vicious. They will ferociously devour any exposed skin.

  1. Queenstown

#queenstown #newzeland #topthingstoseeinnewzealand

The best village in all of New Zealand hands down. I loved everything about Queenstown. Nestled in the mountains and sitting on Lake Wakatipu it is postcard perfect. Queenstown is the adrenaline hub of New Zealand, with bungee jumping and any other sport hyphenated with “extreme” offered in Queenstown. If you are not an adrenaline junkie then you can amuse yourself by visiting the many great restaurants, bars, and shopping. Just make sure you make the drive in the day time, the landscape leading into Queenstown is extraordinary.

  1. Lake Tekapo

#laketekapo #newzealand #topthingstoseeinnewzealand

The drive between Christchurch and Queenstown is long, more than six hours. If you are making the drive then you have much to look forward to in Lake Tekapo. One of the most astoundingly beautiful lakes I have ever seen. If you are lucky and it is a clear day you will be able to see some of New Zealand’s tallest mountains in the background. The waters change color depending on the time of day; regardless of the color of blue you’ll be mesmerized. Do not forget to breath when you round the corner on State Highway 8 and first glimpse Lake Tekapo. Campsites are available if you want to stay a little longer.

#laketekapo #newzealand

#laketekapo #newzealand

  1. Wellington

Portland, Oregon meets New Zealand. There are more bars and restaurants per capita in Wellington than anywhere in the world. After all your experience with nature and you want to get back to some civilization, do not miss Wellington.  Wellington is located on at the bottom of the North Island and is surrounded by a lovely harbor close next to the Marlborough Sounds.  Do not miss the Wellington Botanical Gardens and Te Papa Museum of New Zealand (one of the top 50 museums in the world), both which have free admission.

 

  1. Abel Tasman

Oh Abel! You are my one regret! I only visited Abel Tasman for a day. I kayaked, hiked, took some pictures and left. I wish I would have allotted at least two or three days to Abel Tasman. It is such a gorgeous National Park and there are so many things to do there. From hiking, swimming, kayaking, camping, fishing, pretty much any outdoor activity can be had at Abel Tasman and it is gorgeous. Mild(er) climate compared to some of the other National Parks within South Island.

 

  1. Kaikoura
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The Mountains surrounding around Kaikoura

If Switzerland had a beach it would be Kaikoura.  Kaikoura is a picturesque coastal town located on the Eastern Shore of the South Island two hours south of Blenheim and an hour and half North of Christchurch. Due to the Hikurangi Trench trench off the coast, Kaikoura is known for its permeant whale population. Get in touch with your inner explorer and take a whale watching tour. If you are lucky enough you may see dolphins, seals, and a variety of whales from killer whales, Sperm Whales and Blue Whales.

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  1. Cape Reinga

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Cape Reinga is the uttermost point of New Zealand’s North Island. Something about standing on the very edge of the cape that makes you feel as if you are at the very edge of the world itself. In local Maori legend it is a place where souls go after death. Even without the knowledge that lost souls use this place as their departure point, Cape Reinga is haunting. Perhaps it is the spiritual significance or the stunning outline of the jagged coast, but my spine tingled as I hiked around the cape.

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  1. Marlborough
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Yealand’s Oceanfront Vineyard

Wine, ocean views. Need I say more? Marlborough is the wine region of New Zealand and produces some of the countries best Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Gris. The vineyards dotting the landscapes are incredible and well worth a drive around. The local winemakers are extremely friendly, knowledgable and love to show off their New Zealand wine so make sure you have enough time for a chat when you make your itinerary around Marlborough.

  1. Arthur’s Pass

Nestled in the Southern Alps, Arthur’s Pass links the South Island’s East and West Coasts. Riddled with hiking trails for every level of expertise the landscape is diverse. From beautiful forests, waterfalls, and alpine plans the landscape is diverse and a total pleasure to spend a day or evens hiking the trails.  Keep your opens up for the cheeky Kea’s that roam the National Park, they are extremely friendly but also very mischievous.

  1. Fox Glacier

#foxglacier #newzealand

 

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One of the coolest things I have ever done is taken a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier, strapped on some crampons and hiked on NZ’s second largest glacier, Fox Glacier. Measuring over 8 miles in length, it is one of the few glaciers in the world that end in dense rainforest. I loved the juxtaposition of the freezing and moving ice and the lush and green rain forrest.  The glaciers are extremely dynamic and the landscapes change every day, which makes the photography opportunities unforgettable. What you capture today, will be gone tomorrow.   Located on the South Island’s West Coast, Fox Glacier  is a place of wild and frozen beauty that is not to be missed.

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This is just my top ten list, New Zealand cannot be encapsulated into one basic list nor can it be easily described by words. New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful place; visiting changed my life. I visited to have adventure, and I found a place to be amazed, a place to connect with raw beauty and a place to find peace. There are many beautiful places to travel to in our glorious world, but do not forget about this little island down under…you will not regret visiting this paradise.

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