Category Archives: Pre-Trip Blogging

Embracing Minimalism

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Like many people, I’ve spent the majority of my life collecting things. While this process was never intentional, the more time passed, the more “stuff” I accumulated. Clothing, candles, purses, lotions, makeup…you name it, I’ve got it.  

Recently, I experienced what it was to live without 90% percent of my possessions.  After living in Tennessee for the past three years, my time in the southern state came to a close. I packed up the majority of my possessions and sent them on to be stored in Ohio, where I’m originally from. I intended to follow behind just a few days after, but ended up extending my stay for two weeks. (Granted, I have spent more than two weeks living out of a bag before, but sleeping in my nearly empty bedroom felt different.) My extra time in Tennessee was spent crashing on my roommate’s air mattress near Chattanooga and couch surfing in Nashville. Although I probably only wear half of my wardrobe as it is – another reason to sell/donate clothing! – it was rather foreign to have only the random items that had been left behind. My drawers full of beauty supplies (okay, ladies, do we really need six bottles of lotion?) were in a different state and I got a chance to see how little I need. 

The best part of this experience was that I genuinely thrived! Sure, some strategic planning to keep things like my vibrams would’ve been helpful, but overall, I was just fine. I got back to Ohio a couple days ago and was greeted with boxes of stuff. I was shocked at how unappealing it all was to me. While I once looked at my full closet with a sense of pride, I now stare at it and mentally calculate the next item I can get rid of. I’ve had multiple friends who have managed to cut down on their possessions so much that they’ve been able to fit everything they own in the backs of their cars. Lately, this lifestyle seems so much more appealing to me. 

The problem with living a lifestyle geared toward materialism is that it will never be enough. There will always be a new version of your smart phone, the perfect addition to your closet, a nicer car, or diamonds that somehow seem shinier than the ones you already own. That said, I have no problem with investing in quality purchases. It makes far more sense to me to spend a bit more money on something that will hold up, opposed to having to continually re-invest in cheaply made items. However, there is a big difference between “living for the next purchase” and allowing said purchases to enhance the quality of your life. I think the real contrast is in the non-attachment to possessions. If you live your life in pursuit of possessions, you will feel a sense of loss when they are gone. Instead, I encourage you to appreciate how “things” can enhance your life, but be so grounded internally that losing them would not truly impact you.  

Find your serenity outside of possessions, people! Whether it’s through meditation, being in nature, quality interactions with other humans, or any other sort of practice. The best time to let go and start being present is Now.   

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Best Travel Clothing for Women

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As a woman, I feel like most of us are in constant search for the ideal travel clothing. After seeing Travel Fashion Girl’s glowing review on a pair of Anatomie’s travel pants, I knew I needed to try them out. I had a specific image in my mind of the perfect travel pants (lightweight, neutral color, quick dry, good fit, etc.) and they fit the bill. After exploring the Anatomie Wear website, I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about their line before!

Recently, Anatomie Wear hooked me up with a complimentary pair of Skyler Skinny pants and the Tatiana Travel Tank. I could hardly wait to try them out! I wore the tank top on a night out with the girls and, despite their diverse tastes in clothing, they all approved.The pants are advertised as quick drying and lightweight, but I underestimated the extent to which this was true. Over this past weekend, it was continually raining in Tennessee and I had the task of moving 90% of my possessions out of my house. While clear skies would’ve made the move easier, I got to see how the pants held up both in the rain and while loading boxes. Not only were they comfortable enough to lounge around the house in, I barely noticed the rain and they dried so quickly I didn’t even need to change pants after coming inside. 

These two items passed the test with flying colors and I am so excited to take them on my journeys abroad! Undoubtedly, these are going to become staples in my closet and I look forward to trying out more clothing from Anatomie Wear

– To shop, click here!  – 

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Tatiana Travel Tank Breakdown

This fashionable top wears great and can be matched with nearly any sort of bottom – it will definitely be coming with me on future adventures! 

Key Aspects: fashionable, multi-use, doesn’t wrinkle 

 Fabric 

  • Very soft 
  • Not see-through 
  • Doesn’t wrinkle 
  • Lightweight 

Style  

  • Mesh portion adds detail and makes it more fashionable than a typical black tank 
  • Flattering Shape 
  • Looks great under a blazer/jacket 
  • Can easily be dressed up or down 

Color

  • Neutral colors (black, navy, white) 

Other Perks

  • Modest enough to not draw unwanted attention 
  • Comfortable 
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Tatiana Travel Tank

 

Skyler Skinny Pants Breakdown 

This extremely versatile pair of travel pants has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe and is now a go-to for long flights, train rides, and car rides!  

Key Aspects: versatile, lightweight, quick-dry, tailored-look

Fabric 

  • Extremely lightweight (nylon-lycra micro fiber fabric) 
  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy 
  • Form fitting 
  • Quick-drying 
  • Thin fabric (it’s thick enough to wear sans underwear, but I don’t recommend wearing brightly colored/pattered underwear) 

 Style 

  • Well tailored (my ideal pair of travel pants should look like they were made for me and these are exactly what I’d envisioned) 
  • Detailed pockets and snaps add zest
  • High waisted (this is awesome if you don’t want to give the whole world a free show when bending over or sitting, but there are low-rise options available) 
  • Extremely versatile – while they look quite casual, it’s not hard to dress ‘em up with a pair of heels and a fancier shirt 
  • Neutral colors options (black, grey, navy) 

Other Perks 

  • While the fabric is thin and form fitting, it’s very forgiving! 
  • Pant legs look great folded up to create the cropped pant look 
  • Easily works with flats, boots, or heals 
  • Leg length is not exorbitantly long (I’m 5’4, but I was not gifted with long stems and finding pants that I don’t need to have tailored is rare for me)  
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Skyler Skinny Travel Pants

 – Finding properly fitting clothing online can be tough, but Anatomie

has an online guide to fit and style! Just click here. – 

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Help other women find the best travel clothes out there – please share! 

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The Game Changer for My Travel!

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Hello, wonderful people!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had some very exciting news…

I’ve recently been introduced to an awesome travel company. It’s been saving me a boatload of money on my travels around the U.S. and will be a great asset to me while I am abroad.

I’ll be sharing more about it soon! In the mean time, if you would like more information, shoot me an email at theadventurousandrea@gmail.com and I will get back to you shortly!

Namaste,

Andrea

Transformational 2012

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For me, the year of 2012 was one of monumental changes…

Shortly before ringing in the new year of twenty-twelve, I spent a weekend with someone who was quickly progressing in the realm of self-development. Little did I know that our time together would begin an inner process – one that would eventually alter how I saw reality. In a matter of days, he helped me recognize how out of touch I really was with the Now. He introduced me to the work of Eckhart Tolle – if you don’t know him, I heartily recommend looking him up – and sparked my interest in really delving into the process of self-discovery. Although the time we spent together was comparatively short, his impact was lasting.

The months following were filled with transformational self-exploration. Formerly strongly tied to the future, it was not easy for me to begin rooting myself in the Present. Although I still struggle with letting myself succumb to worry, months of practice have helped me stay more consistently grounded. It was during this time that I reconnected with an old acquaintance. We had met a few times in years past, but had never really gotten to know each other. Through social media, I realized that years passing had lead to us having similar interests! Although we barely knew each other, I invited her to travel from Ohio to my home in Tennessee. Though she didn’t have enough money to get here, fate was in our favor. Things were in alignment and the financial means presented themselves to her. It was at this time that I got to know one of the beautiful, soulful, kind, genuine people I have ever met. She helped me become even more in touch with my inner light and the beauty of life.

On a mid-summer’s day, I was speaking with a close friend about my plans for graduate school. I was frustrated, because I was unsure if my chosen path was really “right.” Despite this, I had been emailing back and forth with various programs, studying copious amounts for the GRE, and trying to make a decision that would dictate the next four years of my life. It was then that she asked me what would happen if I invested this time and money into a program, only to graduate and realize it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. For the first time in my academic career, I considered altering my plan. Previously, I had not really considered any other option beside continuing my education. Being a psychology major doesn’t really lend to many post-grad opportunities. After this conversation, I realized I didn’t need to be tied to this specific path. Previously, I had found validation through my academic standing. My self-exploration lead me to realize that nothing I will ever achieve academically, monetarily, or relationally will ever determine my intrinsic value. With that, I decided to use my youth to its fullest extent and postpone graduate school to travel Europe!

The past year has been a highly transitional time. I strengthened old relationships and made new ones. I shifted my focal point to the Now and started to make constant, conscious effort to stay positive. I realized fully that Present moment is all we really have and we need to take full advantage of it. I became introduced to people that have such a wealth of knowledge to share (you’ll do yourself a big favor to check out Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks, Katie Freiling, Kyle Cease, and Mike Dooley). It’s not always easy to internalize, but I now know that my value and worth is not contingent upon anything I can ever achieve. I am so excited to see what 2013 holds and I plan to live it – and every year after I am blessed with – to its fullest extent! I wish all of you the very best!

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 Stay positive, be Present, and set your intentions!

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Highlights of 2012

– Decided to move to Europe

– Went skydiving

– Participated in a yoga flashmob

– Grew my own (little) garden

– Fully recognized the power of synchronicity

– Went bridge swinging

– Saw my baby sister graduate high school

– Went to a couple music festivals

– Attended my first APA conference

– Flew to Ohio for less than 24 hours to be a wedding date

– Realized my value isn’t contingent upon my actions

– Maintained a vegan diet for seven months

– Became introduced to raw foodism

– Saw my grandparents celebrate 50 years of marriage

– Watched Back to the Future with friends, on the side of an abandoned building, laying on a gravel parking lot

– Sporadically attended the World Yo-Yo Championship

– Did barrel rolls in a plane

– Made my first YouTube video

– Finally visited Disney World

– Adopted a kitten and named him Ug

– Went off-roading

– Started a blog

– Started living in the Present and not for the future

 – Randomly moved into a house and realized it was perfect!

– Got a cabin in the mountains with friends and made a ton of guacamole!

– Went on a girls’ road trip to Chicago

My dear friend/housemate and I playing in the leaves!

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

My wise grandfather and baby sister

My wise grandfather and baby sister

Megan Amigo and me watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Megan Amigo and me belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Yoga Flashmob

Yoga Flashmob

Girls' trip to Chicago

Girls’ trip to Chicago

Floating in bliss

Floating in bliss

First time at Disney World!

First time at Disney World!

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

My best friend since pre-school

My best friend since pre-school

First pair of climbing shoes!

First pair of climbing shoes!

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Joyous children like this are why look forward to being an au pair

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Kissing Princess, the camel!

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Eating way too much ice cream!

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Amazing people in Orlando, FL!

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Enjoying an outdoor concert in TN

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Exploring nature with Megan Amigo

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I got to see my baby sister graduate high school!

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“We just jumped out of a plane!”

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My delectable, organic tomatoes!

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Emma Parker’s “Yellow Chair Project” for charity

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One of my delicious vegan creations – Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

First time bouldering!

First time bouldering!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Casual train yoga!

Casual train yoga!

APA Conference 2012

APA Conference 2012

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!
I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!

Soaking up some vitamin D

Soaking up some vitamin D

Loved the looks on my family member’s faces when they realized I’d driven seven hours to surprise them!

Imitating the statues

Imitating the statues

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Got to love football matches!

Got to love football matches!

Little kitten, Ug.

Little kitten, Ug.

Nothing can compare to nature.

Nothing can compare to nature.We're a silly family!

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes...

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes…

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Steps to Become an Au Pair in Europe!

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1. Explore websites
-www.greataupair.com
-www.aupair.com
-www.aupair-world.net

2. Determine personal stipulations
– What country/countries do you want to work in?
– What length of time do you want to be in Europe?
– Do you want to live in a city or the country?
– Is it important for you to have the weekends available?
– Are you willing to work weekends?
– Do you want to live-in or live-out?
– What is the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept per month?
– Are you willing to do (light) housework?
– How many hours are you willing to work per week?
– Will you work with single parents?

3. Make detailed online profiles
– Many pictures
– General letter to potential host families
– What sets you apart from other au pairs
– Ideal weekly schedule
– Ideal pay rate
– Other relevant qualifications

4. Reach out
– Mark profiles as “interests” or “favorites”
– Send families messages expressing your interest
– Create a blanket message to send out and cater it to each family

5. Skype with serious interests
– Discuss expectations
– Express concerns
– Clear up any confusion
– Meet the children
– Get a virtual tour of the home (specially, your bedroom)
– Figure out about the surroundings of the family’s home
– Decide on a length of stay

6. Finalize
-After deciding which family you will be an au pair for, confirm that plans are in order
– Research visa options (if necessary, visit a consulate)

10 Reasons Why Becoming an Au-Pair is Exactly Like Online Dating

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  1. Obviously, to get the best results, you need to actually make an online profile.
  2. Said profile contains descriptions, photos, and general qualifications, all meant to portray yourself as the ideal candidate. If you’re lacking detail in one of these facets, you become substantially less appealing and the same goes for the other party. You stare at your profile, trying imagine how viewers of it will perceive you. You also start wondering if you’ll ever find an ideal match.
  3. There’s an intricate balance between being fully authentic and showcasing your finer attributes (Obviously, you don’t want to mention that you can belch loudly, before you’ve even met them…). This all is occurring within both parties. Sometimes, you’re left wondering about the validity of certain profiles (e.g. “Is this host family really able to pay me €500 per week?” or “Can this au pair actually fluently speak/read nine languages, including ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics?”).
  4. You spend hours sifting through hundreds of profiles, marking “interests” or “favorites” along the way. These people get notified and there’s a moment of elation whenever they send back that they’re also interested in you. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel a bit of rejection, whenever you get a notification that the party you were very interested does not reciprocate.
  5. If both parties are interested, one reaches out to the other and a message chain is started. Likes, dislikes, mutual interests, and what each party is looking for in the other are discussed.
  6. After realizing that the other party is everything you dreamed of, the excitement sets in. You find yourself talking about them to friends, many of whom will think it’s odd, seeing as you’ve yet to meet them. You have pictures of them on your cell phone. You have your friends sit with you and pour over their online profile. Overall, you’re just so thrilled that you found your ultimate match online, that you’re willing to tell anyone and everyone who will listen.
  7. There may a time when you haven’t heard from them in a week or so. You get very worried. You wonder if you’ve done something wrong and look back through old messages to see if you missed anything. The same people who you gushed about them to now get to hear how concerned you are. You realize you may have to accept that they’re not really “the one” and move on. Right when you’ve been about to give up, you get a message from them apologizing for the delay and explaining what had happened. You’re so relieved!
  8. Around this time is when you think it’s serious enough to tell your parents. You’re excited and nervous about what the future may hold. You gush about how great they are to your parents and show them an exorbitant amount of pictures.
  9. After much online communication, you decide upon a time to meet.
  10. Finally, you’ve realized they’re the one for you and decide to move in.
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    This is the face you make when you finally find your host family!

Vlog: Travel Update

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Hi, lovelies! A lot of people have been inquiring as to my current game plan for Europe. Here’s a quick update on my plans!

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  • During late July and early August a few girlfriends and I are trying to arrange it so we can travel around together! The biggest hinderance is finances! Any tips on ways to make/save money on the road? We’ll be using http://www.helpx.net, http://www.couchsurfing.com, and staying in hostels to travel as cheaply as possible. 
  • At the end of August, I will move to Lausanne, Switzerland to be an au pair for a spectacular Spanish family! This is a great opportunity, because I adore Switzerland and would love to brush up on my Spanish. Although I will be doing some traveling on the weekends, I will be saving a lot of the money I make to put it toward further travels. Additionally, I’ll have to be putting a portion of it toward student loans.
  • The last week of November will mark the end of my Swiss living. That means I have December to travel around and hang out with friends…
  • If you are around wherever I am, I’d love to meet up! There’s a small possibility that my parents will try and come over and visit during this time. That would be great, seeing as I have no idea if I’ll be spending Christmas alone in a hostel (I doubt that would happen, though, as I have a knack for randomly meeting new friends!)…
  • In January, I will move to Torino, Italy to become an au pair for another beautiful family. I am thrilled!  I will stay here for a least six months.
  • After Italy, I will hopefully return to Switzerland for another three months.
  • Then…who knows!

Don’t think, Just Jump!

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“I bet you wouldn’t…” Some of my experiences that could be deemed risky stem from that single line. Does cliff jumping into freezing, winter water sound appealing? Definitely not (unless you’re the RawBrahs). But someone insinuated that I wouldn’t be brave enough to do it.  In that instance, the appeal became centered on the accomplishment and not the activity. There are other experiences, though, that I am solely intrinsically motivated to engage in. One of my favorites, up to this point, was the exhilarating activity of bridge swinging. Of course, I’d heard of bridge jumping, but I tended to keep my jumps off of natural surfaces. The practice of bridge swinging was quite foreign to me and when a friend mentioned it, I became very intrigued.

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My bridge swinging experience began at an undisclosed location (potentially outside of the US).  The two men calmly directed our little foursome, while the other girl and I giggled nervously as we followed along. She skittishly remarked that this was the type of thing she would do in her early twenties. I laughed in Imageunderstanding, but didn’t agree with her, as I couldn’t really identify.  When we reached the base of the bridge, the guys began to plan out our ascent. I concentrated on controlling my breathing, to quell my nerves. Inwardly, I contrasted my current feelings to the ones I’d experienced before skydiving. When skydiving, my fellow jumper (who I had coerced into going) was incredibly nervous. I was able to stifle my own nerves, in order to calm him. But in that moment under the bridge, I had no distractions. Instead of allowing myself to become agitated by my nervousness, I appreciated the full spectrum of emotions and bodily arousal that I was experiencing. I took in to account my quickened heart rate, sweaty palms, racing mind. I recognized how beautiful it was that I could feel so alive. I genuinely appreciated how easy it was to be fully Present in that moment.

After a few minutes of set up, it was time to begin the daunting, eighty foot climb up the unprotected ladder. Midway up, I quietly laughed aloud when I realized that I had probably never climbed a ladder more carefully in my life.

As I intentionally set my hands and feet on each bar, my memory was jogged. I was taken back to being five years old and climbing onto the roof with my father. Under his instruction, I remember my climbing being just as deliberate and slow. My mother despised me climbing onto that roof, but in my young mind, the thrill was second only to scaling the tree in our yard. With the chilly wind ruffling my hair and my fingers tightly grasping the rungs, I made my careful ascent and eventually stepped onto the platform.

Walking along the catwalk of the bridge was slightly unnerving, depending on where I let my focal point settle. If I looked through the holes, to the ground below, it was almost as if I was walking on air! I tried to focus on walking and not letting my mind ruminate on the knowledge that, within just a few minutes, I would be plummeting toward the dark waters below.  The bridge blocked the noisy wind, giving us a relief from the cold and allowing for easy communication.

Since the guys were handling all of the setup, we females did our best to make small talk. It was obvious, though, that we  weren’t fully engaged in the conversation.

I knew that I was going to jump first. When my friend suggested bridge swinging, he also strongly recommended that I was the first to go. He maintained that I’d be far better off not having seen someone jump before me. Without giving myself a chance to say no,I agreed and set my intention.

Image Before I knew it, the safety knots were all tied, my harness was on, and it was time for me to climb over the railing. I made a futile attempt to yank my harness even tighter and swung one leg over the bar. I stood there on my perch, which was only big enough for one foot to stand on. Reticent to let go, my white-knuckled hands clutched the railing. I knew that it was time to jump, but for a moment, I was paralyzed. My heart was pounding, my natural instincts kicked in, and the last thing I wanted to do was hurl myself into the darkness below. After what seemed like eternity, I managed to push past my instinctual need for self-preservation and stepped off the tiny platform. For just a moment, before the rope caught, there was nothing holding me. I was completely a victim of gravity, hurtling toward the dark waters. I felt weightless and free. Just like the free fall while skydiving, the moment seemed to be simultaneously infinite and instantaneous. When the rope finally caught, it gently pulled me to into an arc. Finally, I could breath…and scream! My scream was more a cry of abandon and quickly turned into gleeful laughter. I swung back and forth many more times,thoroughly enjoying the feel of brisk wind rushing around me. Once I abandoned my initial fears and let go, the experience was immensely pleasurable.

Of course, I couldn’t end this post without connecting my experience to life in general. People, don’t be afraid to jump! Take that risk. The universe will send you to you what you need the most, so don’t ignore it. Take advantage of the moments that take your breath away.

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Stay positive. Be Present. Set your intentions.

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