Journal

Travel Announcement: Southern USA Roadtrip

I like to keep you guys updated with my travel plans as much as possible. I usually post about places weeks or months after I’ve visited, so it’s not often that you’re getting real-time stories here on the blog. Social media is the best way to see where I am at any given time.

I’ve been back in the good ole’ USA for almost 3 months now. I left New Zealand on January 23rd, and I’ve sort of been hiding out at home in St. Louis ever since. Why? Well, I’ll get to that story when it has a conclusion.

I’m really excited to finally get back on the road, though. I absolutely love road trips, and there’s no better place to roadtrip than the U.S. It’s my favorite way to travel in general, and definitely my favorite way to see the United States.

Starting this weekend (April 22) I’m going on a roadtrip around part of the Southern USA. While I’d love to do a full-on Southern tour, I’m trying to keep it pretty short. I’m spending a week (+ a few days) on the road, most of it with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a year and a half!

The very loose itinerary is taking me through Kentucky, Tennessee, and little bits of North Carolina and Georgia. I wish I could see a little more, but this is a good start. I’ll be going to Knoxville, Asheville, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’ll also be hitting up a few other areas focused on the great outdoors in Northern Georgia, and then rounding back up to Chattanooga and Nashville before heading back to St. Louis.

I really wanted to take this route because most of my road trips and adventures around the U.S. have taken me out west. I haven’t seen much of the eastern part of the country at all, even though it’s much closer to my hometown than any part of the western U.S.


There are a few reasons that I’m telling you this:

1.) As I said above, I like to keep you up-to-date with my travels, even if you won’t see blog posts from this trip right away.

2.) I won’t be posting at all on the blog during my road trip. I would rather spend my time enjoying the trip and have some down time.

3.) I will be posting plenty on social media, so follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to follow along on my road trip.

4.) I would love any recommendations you guys have for the places listed above, especially Nashville since I’m ending my trip there, and may stay for a few days.

5.) Last but not least, I have a favor to ask you guys. I created a quick survey about email newsletters from bloggers, and I would love it if you could answer some questions for me. I’ve been wanting to start a newsletter of some sort for a long time, but I can’t quite decide how I want to use this platform. Hopefully your answers will tell me what it is you guys want when you subscribe to a blogger via email.

Please take the survey here. It won’t take more than a few minutes & it is anonymous.

I can’t wait to head out on this road trip and share it with you guys on social media. I like to post daily travel journals on Tumblr, as well as lots of photos on Instagram and updates on Twitter.

I will be creating plenty of blog posts from this trip, but those won’t be published until after I return.

Thank you for following along and for taking my email newsletter survey.

See you guys on the road!

Stories

The Tsunami Warning

“Courtney! Courtney, wake up! We have to go!”

I woke up to insistent knocking on my cabin door. I thought I was dreaming, but as my eyes slowly opened, I realized this was real. I looked around the dark box that I called home with blurry vision.

“Courtney, hello!” My friend’s French accent rang through from outside.

I felt as if I had only just fallen asleep, but I looked at my phone and saw that it was after 2 am. I heard my friend knocking at the cabin next door, yelling for them to wake up too. My natural assumption was that she was totally wasted.

I got out of bed just as she came back knocking.

“Courtney! We have to go right now!”

I opened my door, still only half-conscious. “What’s going on?” I asked, slightly annoyed.

“Read this,” she said, showing me a tweet on her tablet. “There’s a tsunami warning. We have to go now.”

It took me a minute to understand what she was saying. The couple next door walked out of their cabin as I looked at the tweet in question.

“There was an earthquake,” she continued. “In Kaikoura. Now there’s a tsunami warning here. We are supposed to evacuate.” Only then did I notice the sirens going off in the distance.

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Guides

A Quick Guide to Downtown Las Vegas

On my budget trip to Las Vegas last year, I decided to (mostly) stay away from the strip. Instead of spending time in the chaotic center of Vegas, I stayed in Downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Vegas will change the way you see the city. While there’s still a lot of focus on nightlife, entertainment, and partying, it’s not quite as wild as it is on the strip. You’ll find a lot of local businesses and cool little places to hang out. There’s also a lot of art and creative energy going on downtown.

This quick guide to Downtown Las Vegas will show you some of my favorite places. It’s a simple itinerary for a day spent downtown. I recommend staying downtown on your trip to Vegas, but you can also just hop on the bus from the strip to try out some of this stuff.

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Featured Posts Travel Inspiration

My U.S. National Parks Bucket List: Top 10 Parks I Want to Visit

The Top 10 National Parks I Want to Visit

I’m doing something a little bit different today. I usually only post about places I’ve been, but this is going to be a post about places I want to go. More specifically, a list of the U.S. National Parks I most want to visit.

Eventually, I’d love to visit all 59 of the official national parks in the U.S., but there are a few that are calling to me more strongly than the others. I’m lucky enough to have visited a handful in the past, and I’m already planning to visit some more this year. However, the ones on this list will take a little bit more planning on my part.

As of this writing, my absolute favorite national park is Grand Teton National Park. It has a strong hold on my heart for many reasons—something I may write about in the future. Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are probably the most famous national parks I’ve been to, and they are both pretty spectacular. I’ve been to parks out in the desert, and lots of parks up in the mountains.

Of all the beautiful and interesting U.S. national parks out there, these are the top ten parks I most want to visit.

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Accomodation Featured Posts

Oamaru Backpackers // Oamaru, New Zealand

This home-turned-upscale backpackers is a budget-friendly hostel in Oamaru, New Zealand

The little seaside town of Oamaru, New Zealand isn’t on the main traveler trail. A lot of people would never think to stop here, but those who do are probably here to see the Victorian architecture or the penguins.

Whatever your reason for visiting Oamaru, you’re going to need a place to stay. If you’re a budget traveler like I am, your first instinct will be to search for hostels. There are a few options in Oamaru, but I personally was not impressed with most of them.

I did, however, really love Oamaru Backpackers. It is better described as a flashpackers, rather than a typical hostel. I only stayed here one night, but I was very happy with my experience.

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Activities Featured Posts

New Zealand by Train: Taking the Scenic Train from Auckland to Wellington

The best way to see New Zealand is by train! Take the Northern Explorer from Auckland to Wellington

There are many ways to get around New Zealand: by car, by bus, by plane, by ferry—even by bike or by foot! But if you want the best views of this mountainous country, the best option is to travel New Zealand by train.

From the moment I arrived in the country, I knew I wanted to travel New Zealand by train. I’ve had a fascination with train travel for a while, but before New Zealand, I had never actually done it. I made my away around the North Island by bus, but once I hit the South Island, I was determined to start riding the rails. However, I ran into a few road blocks at first.

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