We had SO much fun taking a mini trip to Hawaii this January. It was super spontaneous (we booked it two weeks before) and was a trip to rest and spend time together just as a family.
But it honestly was one of our most favorite places we've EVER been. We're already talking about when we can go back. And if you know me, you know I am a heat and humidity girl through and through. So I was in HEAVEN.
If you’re here for my FREE Oahu Hawaii Guide, click here.
Flying with Amelia was pretty good on the way there. She is getting to the active stage, so lots of toys and snacks helped!
When we landed, we immediately picked up our Turo rental jeep. We love Turo, because it's basically Airbnb for cars and the owners generally just meet you right outside the terminal and hand you the keys. We cruised into Honolulu and then right up over to the north side of the island, where we stayed on the North Shore.
We stayed in a little studio apartment RIGHT on the ocean. It was so dreamy, full of windows all around and a big bed with a romantic white canopy. And the bathroom and shampoos and conditioner were AMAZING. Obv, that ranks very high on my list. (To find the Airbnb we used, check out my Hawaii Travel Guide here)
I immediately went down to the beach, because I have been itching to swim so bad! It was a little windy that day, but my goodness the beach was beautiful.
The next day, we decided to wander around the town of Haleiwa and get acai bowls. It was a little rainy...island life....we are very familiar with this kind of weather. So un-discouraged, we grabbed our suits and drove around the island, looking for a place where the clouds parted. We finally found it on this dreamy beach with lagoon water.
We enjoyed a WHOLE lot more acai bowls, smoothie bowls, and fruit. I am pretty sure my tastebuds are burned off from all the pineapple I ate, but hey, it was worth it.
One of our most FAVORITE stops was at Ka'ena Point, where we hiked around for a bit. It had the most EPIC views, some pretty legit mud that swallowed up my tennies, and a cameo from some the sets on the show Lost. It was a fairly easy hike with Amelia, but if it has rained, bring waterproof shoes!
After the North Shore, we headed over to the other side of the island to stay in Kaneohe. We love getting to see a variance of places, so we always stay in as many spots as we can! We stayed in this adorable little resort with views of the bay area and yummy breakfast in the morning.
Highlights of this area were the cool botanical gardens, hiking around where Jurassic Park was filmed, and attending church on Sunday and meeting some instagram followers!
In the middle part of our trip, we were so blessed to have our friend Lindsey Roman let us stay with her. She is THE COOLEST. Her house was so rad and we posed for a mentorship session she was doing while there. (Check out a couple of her amazing photos below and go follow her!)
And we ended the trip in Waikiki. Of course! We had to try it out in all its tourist glory.
We did a lot of fun stuff here....visited the most amazing donut shop, tried to hike a waterfall, and went to Diamond Head. (More details in my travel guide)
It was crazy and busy and a fun way to end the last day and night. Watching the sun go down with a hundred thousand people felt very community oriented (and also very weird). lol.
I would go back in A HEARTBEAT. But I'd love to visit Kauai too. How about you? Do you have any suggestions on where in Hawaii we should visit next?
Now it's your turn....
Our time in Hawaii was ALL it's cracked up to be. If you want to do a similar trip and would like all the deets (where we stayed, our driving route, the coffee shops/restaurants/hiking spots we loved), you can grab my FREE Hawaii Travel Guide here.
Happy traveling, friend!
Today, I am talking about our recent international trip.....where we decided to take out 6 month old on a 12 hour plane ride, 5 hour train ride, and halfway across the world. Are we crazy? A little. ;)
This was a trip of a LIFETIME and I wanted to do it right, but also be budget friendly. We were traveling with 9 other family members and so it needed to cost effective for all of us.
With good planning and a budget, you can stroll the romantic streets along with us! At the end of this blog, there's a link to my itinerary. It's only $14.99 for my 42 page travel guide. And it will basically take care of all the details for you!
So let's go on an adventure.....
We flew in October, which was honestly the PERFECT temperature. It was breezy and warm.
Doing a 12 hour flight with 9 people wasn't easy, but we were all SO excited for what was to come. We landed in Rome in the morning and immediately headed to our train. We grabbed some croissants (the first of WAY too many) and coffees, and hopped on.
What ensued was the MOST romantic train ride ever. Picture riding through Rome, seeing glimpses of ruins through the sun soaked buildings, and then observing everyday life, children walking to school on cobblestones, laundry hanging out on ivy-wrung balconies.
It was a long train ride, so the morning sun turned to afternoon light, highlighting sun-dappled tuscan buildings and fields of wheat, vineyards and mountains. We napped and took photos and laughed at how surreal it was. I'm pretty sure it gave the Hogwarts Express a run for it's money.
When we finally arrived in Venice, it was evening. We came out of the train station on the grand canal, and were greeted by the sound of water and boats and fairy lights from twinkling bridges and buildings. We walked to our Airbnb over a glass bridge and then hopped on a vaporetto (a water taxi). Seeing Venice by night was magical and I felt like Angelina Jole in 'the Tourist,' albeit, a little greasier and gross from the plane. Eek!
We finally arrived at our stop and had to walk under stone tunnels to get to our Airbnbs courtyard. I vaguely remember one of my siblings saying "is this for real?" and "this feels like we went back in time and are in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie."
Our Airbnb's beds greeted us, but not before we enjoyed the ancient building, built in the 500s. Like whatttt?? It was perfectly outfitted with cute little bedrooms and a vintage kitchen. (See the exact Airbnb in my travel guide!)
The next few days were a blur of activity. The Airbnb I chose was close to everything, St. Marks Square, the vaporatto stop, etc. So we walked everywhere. I carried Amelia, but my stroller did fine too. We visited the square, we ate gelato, we took a thousand photos, we rode on boats, we visited the islands. Venice is definitely more touristy, but it is just so darn unique that you can't miss out on it.
I loved Burano, because it was so colorful and vibrant. We'd eat lunch in, and then every night, we'd find a new restaurant to visit. Check out my travel guide for the restaurants we loved!
Before you know it, it was time to leave the City of Water and head to Florence. We stopped at a bakery on the way out and enjoyed the narrow streets and the friendliness of the people one last time.
Then, we jumped on our train. And Florence did not disappoint! It is the perfectly sized city, bustling with real life and history around every corner.
Once we got off our train, we walked to our Airbnb about a half a mile away. It was in the historic centre, which means half of our bags broke from carrying them over cobblestones. Whoops! It was worth it.
Our Airbnb was HUGE and perfectly located for our family. It was a Florentine palace built in the early twentieth century. It had a long hallway with grand beds in each room and beautiful balconies. (see us smooching on one below ;)
Everyday we walked to the duomo, or the Ponte Vecchio, or the little coffee shop lined streets. It never got old. I loved the very real feeling of Florence and how much we had to do.....there was something for everyone. (Food, history, culture!). We even took a Hop on Hop Off tour at the end and though it seems touristy, it was actually a blast to spend the last rainy day learning more about the city. (and gave my baby carrying hips a break).
To see links to our Florentine palace Airbnb and my FAVORITE coffee shop of all time, see my travel guide here.
I had been to Italy before and I knew that this time, I needed some time in the country. I LOVE cities, but there is something about a few days spent in nature that refreshes me. Italy has such a connection to the earth and I didn't want to miss experiencing that.
So on our last morning in Florence, we walked to a Hertz and picked up our car that we rented. Driving in Italy seemed really nerve wracking, but it ended up being WAY easier than we thought.
We zoomed right out of Florence with no problems and started making our way to the inland area of Perugia. Situated in hills and vineyards, we arrived at our Bed and Breakfast at sunset, and I was in heaven. This was my FAVORITE stop.
Our Bed and Breakfast was made up of little tuscan-style villas amidst olive gardens and vineyards. There was one main house and lots of little ones sprinkled over the hill. Ours was under a big oak tree and situated right by the beautiful pool. (also, it had an AMAZING bathroom and shower. Which was a big plus for me. haha)
Each morning, we enjoyed walking up the hill to eat breakfast. Eggs and bacon and croissants on croissants. We'd sit outside with Amelia and talk to people who came to visit from all over the world. One day, we explored the whole property and went to a nearby nature reserve where we found an abandoned farmhouse. Another day, we drove down the hill to visit the lake. And the last day, we visited a vineyard and winery....and learned how to make wine!
If I were to go anywhere again, this was it! Ryan and I had so many relaxing talks about our future on the balcony, overlooking the sun setting on the hills and and chirping birds. It was literally HEAVEN.
But alas, time had come to a close in our quiet, reflective time in the country. It was time to head back to the hustle of a city. And what city to end your trip than in ROME! Full of life and excitement.
We arrived at our inner-city Airbnb after a long day. There was no place to park in the city, so we dropped our rental car off outside and taxi-ed in.
Our Airbnb was 4 bedrooms....which was unheard of in downtown Rome. It was a mile or less to the Colosseum, Piazza Novena, the Pantheon and EVERYTHING we wanted to see. And it was so easy to run back to the apartment for a nap or for a quick lunch.
Rome was all the hustle and bustle. The day we arrived, we freshened up and quickly walked over to the Colosseum for a tour. (See my travel guide for links!). And the days to come, we all split up and saw different sites. From wandering the suburb of Trastivere, to eating outside the Pantheon, to making a wish with Amelia in the Trevi Fountain....it was dreamy on dreamy. Mostly my Lizzie McGuire what-dreams-are-made of kind of dreams. ;)
We spent a couple full days here and it was the perfect city to end our trip. The last night, we ate out under the stars and the ruins...and it felt magical and ancient, all at once.
Now it's your turn....
Our time in Italy was SO perfect. And I LOVED planning it. If you want to do a similar trip, but maybe don't love planning, check out my Sun-Soaked Italy: Travel Guide below. It is only $14.99 for 42 pages detailing EVERYTHING we did. I take care of all the details for ya! <3
Happy traveling, friend!
I'm here with another podcast episode.....finally!
We took a month off to get us through the summer and some of the speaking engagements we had, and now we're back on track with a FRESH new name. So since most of our podcast is focused on family, we renamed it to Antos in Love. This was our wedding hashtag, and so we thought it'd be fun to refurbish it. Our podcasts will feature Ryan a whole lot more, our family, and our travels as we raise Amelia.
For this episode, I loved chatting with my brother Dillon. He is 22 and a man of many talents. He currently lives in a 400sf apartment in downtown San Francisco, and is freelancer in videography, photography, & audio engineering. He is a nomadic minimilist who's traveled extensively, loves meeting new people, and has a knack for the art of conversation. He's had some crazy experiences (one may or may not have been working for the government. ;)
Take a listen to hear us chat about being afraid and taking risks anyway, why being a good conversationalist is so important to loving people, and some inspiration from his travels! This episode was recorded a little wonky, so forgive some of the sound issues. We're hoping your ears have lots and lots of grace. ;) <3
Follow Dillon at www.instagram.com/dillonwehde
No, but honestly, Amelia was so awesome. We were so excited to take her on our 2 week speaking tour of California. At 2.5 months old, she earned her first wings, taught us a lot, and honestly was such a good traveler. We loved getting the opportunity to travel and fly with a baby. The world is so new and precious when you watch your baby experience it for the first time. :)
Check out our podcast below to hear some of our stories from the trip and our best tips for traveling with a babe. Or read on if you're more of a reader. ;)
1. Pack light
We tried to fit everything we needed in one checked bag and a carry one. Somehow, we did it! (and if you travel a lot, you know this is hard!) :)
Our packing list for Amelia looked like this:
5 onesies (variation of long sleeve/short sleeve)
A couple pants
1 pair of bloomers
1 nursing wrap doubling as a blanket
*I wish we brought a pillow to lay her on for plane rides, but I stole my mom's ;)
Babies are resilient and don't need much other then love and cuddles. We just re-washed her clothes wherever we went and made do. It was SO nice not having so much stuff!
2. Have margin
Let's be honest, it WILL be different traveling with a baby. So plan ahead that things will take longer and give yourself margin. There is NOTHING worse then running around frantically, worried you'll be late to your flight, heavy bags in tow, with a screaming baby. Get places early, leave early, and know that you have to account for feedings, poop explosions, and extra cuddles.
For instance, we had to nurse Amelia quite a lot when we drove into Yosemite because of the elevation change and ears popping. This meant we had to pull over to nurse often. We could have been frustrated because it was taking twice as long, but we chose to leave early so we could enjoy the scenery and not feel rushed.
3. Check your car seat/stroller
This was a LIFESAVER for us. Some facts about bringing a car seat and stroller that I didn't know:
- It's free to gate check both and doesn't count against your luggage count.
- Airport staff are usually SUPER helpful if they see you with a baby and stroller.
- With a small babe, you can usually board the plane earlier to get situated.
- You don't have to bring that strange clicky-booster seat type thing that your car seat clicks into at home. I was freaking out about that, but realized you can JUST bring the car seat and seatbelt it into any car.
- They have AWESOME little stroller and car seat covers at Walmart & Target for gate checking. This ensures it doesn't get gross or banged up. Check them out here.
- If you can't travel with a swing (which is most of us), the car seat was an awesome alternative to lay her in when we were out and about, hanging in the living room, or outside. She could watch us all and I could manually rock it to put her to sleep. More work, yes. But great alternative to not have to bring a 10lb swing.
- Getting a resiliant stroller was AWESOME because we took it all through out Yosemite and Marin Headlands. Helped give our backs a break!
Renting a car seat is always an option, but they can be around $10 a day, which would have been considerably more expensive. We loved having our's to provide her a consistent safe place that smelled like home and helped her sleep!
4. Flying tips
- Babies can be lap infants until 2 years old. We did not add Amelia to our reservation mistakenly and many of the airport staff told us we should have (we didn't see a spot for it). They let us through, but make sure to do this upfront! It doesn't cost you, but ensures they know you have an infant.
- For domestic flights (at least for us), you don't need proof of identity for baby. We brought her birth certificate just in case, but we were never asked for it. For our international flight in the fall, she did need a passport.
- As mentioned above, mommas with small babes can often board sooner. Ask the desk when you go to gate check your stroller and car seat
- If you're traveling with your babe as a lap infant, bring a pillow for the flight. Not having one was hard, but then we borrowed my mom's and she could lay right across Ryan and my laps comfortably. This was so much easier!
- Nurse during take off and landing to help soothe and create natural ear popping
- Babies love bright colors (especially red) so Auntie Cassidy watched the Lion King with her and she loved it. :)
5. Have an extra outfit and diaper on you at all times
This is in case of big poop explosions! Amelia happened to have one when we landed in L.A. It was a DOOZY! Poop smeared all up Ryan's arms and hands. We had to sit in the plane with said poop all over us as people got off. It was actually pretty funny. The bathrooms were all full in our terminal, so we ended up changing her on our hard top suitcase. We had diapers, but I realized that the extra outfit I packed was newborn size and she didn't fit into it anymore. So we had to wrap her in our nursing wrap/blanket and bring her to the airbnb as a little nakey babe. Oh well! Lesson learned. ;)
6. Travel with friends + family
We had most of our family with us and they made it SO much easier. When she had that poop explosion, they helped grab diapers and wipes. When we had to run to the store, they watched her for us. Extra hands that love your babe are so reassuring and helpful for your peace of mind. So, if you're making your baby's first big trip, we definitely recommend going with some people that love you and your baby! (and people don't mind screaming every now and then. ;)
7. Be chill
A couple rules for traveling with a baby that you have to live by.
- Things aren’t the end of the world. A poop explosion won't kill you or her. Find ways to laugh about it.
- Don't care what people think. Babies cry and most people have had one before. Apologize and be polite when needed, and then just let your kiddo do their thing. Don't be embarrassed. Most of the time, other people have been where you've been and feel for you!
- Babies are resilient. They've been surviving for thousands of years in so many different environments. This doesn't mean be stupid, but don't be fearful of everything. Yes, bad stuff happens, but bad stuff happens at home too. And A LOT more good happens. For me, I'd rather be out traveling with my baby and living life, then worrying at home that something will happen. As long as you're paying attention to their well being, feeding, changing, and helping them sleep (and giving them lots of affection), they are generally A okay!!
Happy Traveling, friends!
Now that the first trimester is over, I wanted to blog an update to remember all of the
wonderful & weird things that happened during these last few months.
This is my first pregnancy and reaching the second trimester is such a gift. Not only
because I'm hoping the morning sickness will fade, but the pregnancy risk is much
lower and something I won't need to continually fear. Praising God for the protection and continual prayers.
But the last couple months have been exciting ones!
On a hot day in August of 2005, I met Ryan Antos. We were friends at first
and then some years later, he told me he liked me. We were 14 years old, little and awkward, but even in those years, we knew we loved each other so. It's been almost 10 years since the day when we confessed our affection to each other. As a teenager, I was terrified of the day we would separate. I was a realistic kid and I knew it had to come....young love never lasts. And so everyday I would write in my journal that if God could give me anything, I would ask for him.
At 19 years old, Ryan asked me to marry him and my faithful prayers, scribbled in a
worn journal came true.
We've been married over 4 years, and it has been everything I could have dreamed.
We've walked through hard things like everyone, sure. But I have been loved enough to
last me a lifetime and I have loved enough for a lifetime, and to know we still have a
lifetime yet to love one another brings me so much joy.
In June, we had started to talk about kids,
but weren't sure if we were ready yet. We
were both really enjoying our careers and
adventures. We traveled so much and I had
this weird, irrational fear that once a kid
came, all of it was over. So we decided that maybe we would wait another year.
At the end of June, God woke me up in the
middle of night and told me that I needed to start praying for my future baby and for
the faith to not believe my irrational fears.
I don't often have midnight God experiences
(though I wish I did!), so this was pretty
So I committed that every morning, I would take a good chunk of prayer time and pray
for our one day child and that God would prepare my heart and my faith for that time. I knew there'd be fear, but I prayed an end to the fear that kept stopping me from even
considering becoming pregnant. I was praying all of this with 2018 in mind of course, so we weren't taking any big risks and it was all purely for the future. ;)
Fast forward 3 weeks....
On a Tuesday night in July....on the way to a photoshoot, I stopped at home because I felt sick. I had a weird thought that I should take a pregnancy test....fully knowing there was no possible way to be pregnant.
But lo and behold.
I didn't really believe it when I saw it. I thought I had taken it wrong. I kind of just
pretended it hadn't happened because I was alone and freaking out, I told my dog,
filmed a quick video just in case it was true, and went on my way.
When Ryan came home later, I dropped the news, he was so shocked and overjoyed, and then we went to Target, where I took a bunch more tests. All positive. It felt a little
surreal. I didn't know how to respond and was just kind of in shock. Especially because only Ryan and I knew what I was praying for. (and of course, I've always prayed for our future kiddos, but this was a much more specific type of prayer that I was coincidentally beginning to pray WHILE I was pregnant). God is cool and weird sometimes.
Check out our pregnancy announcement video here.
I wish I can say the fear went away after
that, but the fear carried on for about 3
weeks. I stuck with my faith prayers and
worked through it. I blogged about some of my specific fears and how I conquered
them over at this blog post.
And I know you never stop being fearful,
but I believe in big faith and targeting
specific fears that cause anxiety, so that's
what I did.
This is something I learned after dealing with trauma and I've taught myself (with some help from good friends) how to heal (continually and in every new season) from the
kind of fear that crosses into unnatural anxiety. It isn't easy, but it's possible.
My fear eased up and faith and confidence started to kick in as we moved forward. Our month was a little crazy after that. 6 days after finding out, I hopped on a plane to host a 500 person event with Trades of Hope and my team. I had many speaking roles and
hosting duties, and it was a little overwhelming with my new-found pregnancy and the onslaught of morning sickness. But all of our Compassionate Entrepreneurs were SO
sweet to me and made it the BEST experience.
A couple months later, we were hit with Hurricane Irma and our entire town shut down for a week. Everyone was hunkering down, boarding up windows, and buying enough junk food to last them to the end of the world. It was a little crazy, but we got through
it and were not negatively impacted other then some flooding on our street. Our poor
town is still recovering though!
Around this time, I began to start to feel super comfortable being pregnant and was
starting to really understand my body and it's needs.
I found that, at least for me:
- I had morning sickness and the throw ups every morning, but it was not as bad as I thought it'd be. Honestly, you get used to everything. As long as I didn't let it interrupt my day and get me down, I could deal with it fine. (TMI: Also, drinking a TON of water as soon as I got up helped me throw up clean and easy without vomiting important calories. I just replaced the water later).
- Swallowing and digesting harsher food was a lot harder, so I need to drink water with every meal or I'd get indigestion. (Something I never had before). I wasn't exhausted or overly emotional like many said I'd be. Honestly, other then feeling a little bloated and having morning sickness, I felt pretty much like Chelsie. And I liked that. So far, so good! Not trying to diminish anyone else's experiences, but I like to share the good just in case it encourages someone too.
- Gaining weight is a lot harder then everyone told me it'd be, just because of my body type. So I have to intentionally go out of the way to eat more foods. I just
really like my fruit, guys!
- Exercising helped being sick, but lifting weights made me dizzy so walking helped a TON.
- Getting good books to research pregnancy INSTEAD of googling (and seeing all those terrifying, fear mongering things) was SUPER helpful in managing fear.
So maybe those will help you! Or maybe they'll just be for me to look back on and
Right at the end of the first trimester and the tailend of Hurricane Irma, we hopped on a plane to Washington D.C. I'm helping homeschool my brother this semester (#homeschoolkidsunite) and we planned a fun trip to help him learn some history. (Plus, it was nice escaping to some AC as we were out of power for a good part of the week).
So Ryan and I had fun galavanting around D.C., visiting our friend Elisabeth, seeing the historical sites, and visiting Mount Vernon. It was here that I was certain I saw my belly bump for the first time. I'm kind of lanky, so it's hard for others to see, but there is
definitely a little something going on.
Apparently, I'm now 15 weeks this week, instead of the 14 I thought. We went in for our 2nd appointment and heard the baby's heartbeat again and scheduled our appointment for finding out the gender, which is exciting!
Anyway, that's kind of a recap for you and somewhat for me. I want to remember all of my experiences and I love blogging, so I figured I'd let you in on some of the updates as well.
For the next few months, we have lots of exciting things planned including a trip to the mountains to see the leaves, a birthday/costume party, a gender reveal party, and a
Harry Potter marathon.
And of course, we are still adamantly praying in big faith for our baby and all that
he/she will be one day.
Until the next update. Thanks for reading, sweet friend!
P.S. The formatting is wonky in this blog post. I spent forevs trying to fix it and finally
gave up, but so sorry if it was weird to read because of it. <3
It’s our second anniversary and so much has happened this year. We moved into a camper and started a road trip of the country. Here’s a few pieces of our year we wanted to share with you via video. :)
Being in one place for such a short amount of time is interesting. You feel detached from your surroundings. Out of place. Never really sure. And you start to notice things.
I was always fascinated by the book about the time traveler's wife. And as we travel on this long road trip, staying in towns for a day or two and then leaving, I identify with her husband. You are always out of place. Everywhere we go, I will never get to know the people there as I wish I could. At every store we visit in every city, I wonder....will I ever meet these people again? Maybe in 20 years, our lives will cross paths and we'll have never known about that time we spoke in the grocery store. So many stories I will miss and that makes me sad.
I wonder while at the park in San Francisco, sitting and eating lunch with Ryan, do the guys playing basketball know that we don't belong here? That in 24 hours, I'll be gone from here, whisked away to another town, our lives never intersecting with their own, never making an impact on one another.
Another thing about traveling so often - you begin to read people better. You begin to see what the check out guy says over and over at thousands of different coffee shops. You begin to see pain flash in people's eyes when you may have never noticed it before. You begin to watch emotions better, because you need connection and emotion in a life of constant detachment.
And you begin to love people more. How could you not? Always watching them. You see them visit their parks, shop with their babies in their neighborhood markets, smoke behind the building with their friends, see them eat breakfast at cafes on Saturday mornings just like I used to do all the way in Florida. You begin to wish you could hear the stories of all people. You begin to feel things for people you saw on the street or at the gas station or at the Starbucks. You want to know them. You want them to know you. There are thousands of them and you see their pain and laughter and joy and you watch them go on first dates in coffee shops, you watch them pump your gas from the window in Oregon, you watch them sit alone in a Panera and gaze out the window in sadness, you watch them walk down the street with lovers, frustratingly pick up their crying children on the sidewalk, you've seen glimpses of them tearing up at a John Green book on the train. And you love them.
Traveling so much can make you feel detached, yes. But it can allow you moments where you see the tapestry of life, drawn into full scale. Where you are afforded quiet moments into thousands of people's lives. Moments where you forget about yourself and see each person as they wish to be seen. And how could you not love them? Their pain and sadness and anger and heartbreak and joy. Oh, their joy. They are like you, everywhere, wanting to be loved and walking through anger and growth and laughing at funny movies and drinking too much coffee and having awkward moments and happy moments and struggling with life and hoping, always hoping.
I'm not creepy, I don't think. I'm not trying to be. But I watch people, because after tens of thousands of miles, mountains look the same. But people, crafted uniquely and perfectly and flawed and beautiful. They fill me with such joy and I hope that when I go home, I never forget them. Every single one of them. Even the ones I never spoke to. They deserve to be remembered. And in my small, silly little love for them, I am overwhelmed by the love of another who sees us the way we've always wished to be seen, thousands of us, one of us. Even all of us at once in our patterns and even one of us alone in our sorrow. We are different and we are the same and I love you and thank you, whoever you are, for allowing me to glimpse your beauty and pain and quiet moments and fullness of life.
I have had a lot of people ask me "how do you afford to travel so much?" And it's normal that the first thought that pops into someone's mind when they see photos of airplanes and mountains and far off lands is "money." That's what you needed to travel once - so much money. But from my personal experience, I know that this is changing. We live in a day and age where money does not have to be associated with travel, where freedom does not need to be associated with 'rich.'
This misconception of money=freedom=travel stunts so many young people from experiencing the freedom they desire to have. I truly believe that when young people say "I want to make millions" they don't really mean that......they really just mean that they want to have the freedom that millionaires have. And I believe each person can have a taste of that through traveling.
At only the age of 22, I've had the honor to travel the world and the country - making an income that would hardly be considered wealthy and still making it work. And if you would like to do something similar, before you do anything else, you must:
Determine what your values are.
To travel often as teenagers and now twenty somethings, Ryan and I have made choices that lead to the things we love. We don’t spend our money on things we feel don’t get us toward our permanent goal - which we have made travel.
Now, if you truly value other things or even if certain circumstances (bills, school, job) do not allow you to travel, or you are just not in the season of travel due to life, children, etc....there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But we have decided that, as young adults, traveling is a huge value for us. We feel closer to our faith, to each other, and to others when we travel.
So I skip out on things like cable, I shop at goodwill, we drove a beat up old car (darn those brakes), and I choose not to drive my car very often to save gas, I could have afforded a much bigger apartment and yet I choose to live in a smaller apartment. These are things that I am willing to compromise on in order to allow my larger goal to be travel and experiences. Put your money only where your values are.
Here are some simple steps on how to put this in action:
1. Find out what places that you can go to that work around your schedule with job/school/commitments.
Let's face it. Not all of us get to have a job that allows 3 months of backpacking in Europe. I get that. But there are a whole lot of places all around you that you could go on the weekend - hiking, backpacking, tenting, coffee shop exploring. Find some cheap places to stay and make an adventure weekend out of it. A cabin in North Carolina. A kayak trip down the Florida coast. Hiking and tenting in Georgia. A cute little B&B in the town over.
Or, if you want a longer trip.... take a hard look at your calendar and find the two weeks you have off at spring break or the week you could take off from work during the summer. Then, determine where you want to go and start the financial planning process way in advance.
2. Don't let commitments become your excuse for not traveling.
There's always time available for short getaways and for seeing something new within driving distance. You don't always need the big trips to find adventure. Be an adventurer in the little things - like weekend trips and nearby locations.
But either way, if your heart values traveling, near or far, don't let anyone (not even yourself) talk you out of it. There will always be something more important and more responsible to do.
3. Find the things that you can cut out of your life that are less valuable than travel.
Going to Starbucks everyday is not my dream. Really. It isn't. Sorry Starbucks. I love coffee, but I would much rather live out the dream of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, exploring Galilee, and learning how to make wine in the country of Italy.
So I take steps to cut out what I did not really want. Coffee more than once a week is cut out. I don't go to see movies in the theatre....I waited until they were on netflix or DVD. Chipotle runs are less important.
Ways to save:
Some simple figures
Our apartment was $300 less a month than the average apartment in our city. That's $3600 a year. You’ve got a pretty good chunk of money there you can use for an international trip…and we used that to go to Spain.
Cable is about $100 a month. That is $1200 for a year. That's another really great chunk of money that you could use for an in-country trip…and we used ours to go toward our Washington trip and hiking in the North Cascades.
Let’s use your phone bill as another example. You can get unlimited talk and text on a cheap phone for $25 a month, while many are spending $60-$80 on their phone with data (and the iphone cost too, of course). Ryan chooses to have a cheap phone and we use my phone for data, so he saves about $600 a year on that…..which can be used for various weekend trips, camping trips, and other fun experiences.
There are so many other awesome ways to save money….but you have to understand where your priorities are. What personally makes your life full? You can't have everything so you must pick a couple things you value or your money will be spread thin between too many things.
4. Spend time searching for the cheapest options.
Research: Let's say you decide where you want to go, you start cutting out things to save for the trip, but now you actually have to start buying the plane ticket and booking the hotel.....things get a lot tougher! The problem is that most people just accept that they have to pay a lot of money to go anywhere and they over pay on things...making it truly impossible to ever go anywhere. Most times, spending a few hours doing research (google, baby!) can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. I have found that tour companies and booking through fancy websites can often pack on the dollars, so research your own trip and do the planning yourself. It may be more work at the beginning, but it's always fun in the end.
You don't have to stay in a $200 hotel in each place. Be creative. When my husband and I travel, we rent vacation homes by owners and try to keep it under $70 night. The result = a whole house that feels luxurious and authentic compared to a hotel room at a portion of the cost. Airbnb is our favorite website for finding affordable home (sometimes even yurts, treehouses, campers, and caves!) that are unique and fun! Other times when we want to go even cheaper, we stay with friends....and sometimes we just rough it and sleep in our car.
Determine your values...again: When you begin to travel you should also determine what your main value is. You can't do everything - so what would make your trip the most full? For me, I love exploring coffee shops and going hiking in the outdoors. You may want a really great spa experience or time on the beach. Maybe you just want to experience the local food and feast the days away. Whatever it is, pick what will make your trip the most full for you and don't spend money on too many other things.
5. Find creative ways to travel
There are so many ways to travel that don't always involve the normal methods. I once traveled out of the country with a tour company after I had won a video contest talking about why I loved to travel. Ha! Don't be afraid to apply to things like this. Submit videos. Get creative. Network with others who like to travel. Teach english in another country. Volunteer with an organization you believe in. Film a travel documentary and fund it using kickstarter or gofundme. Start a business that involves travel. There are so many unique things you can do....don't limit yourself by only thinking in the traditional mindset.
6. Understand that travel teaches you things that nothing else can.
It's easy to think, 'I'll travel when I'm older,' but traveling truly taught me some of the most important lessons of my life. Though I got so much from my college education, nothing could have educated me more than sitting down to a sabbath dinner in the heart of a Jerusalem with newfound friends, hiking through old war bunkers on the border of Syria, learning how to make wine in the vineyards of Tuscany, listening to our Spanish neighbors sing and pray as we fell asleep on the rooftop overlooking the Alhambra, watching the sunset over Morocco, riding in a tap tap in Haiti, holding the hands of a child in an orphanage, laughing with new friends in Israel.
Perspective is everything. And everyone has a different viewpoint and a unique story. Travel allows you to glimpse into another's life for just a moment and see their heart as if it was your own. And when you do this, you learn how to love them. You see them and you love them for their similarities and their differences and you grow more than you ever thought you could.
We are just about two weeks into our crazy adventure on the road and it has certainly been an interesting few weeks. Thank you to all of those that have been praying for us, thinking of us, and following our posts online. It means so much! Just to recap each of you a bit..... here are some of the highlights we've gotten to experience already!
- We drove all the way through Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. So beautiful to watch so much nature through my
- We visited about 5 coffee shops in a few days time in Nashville - all in pursuit of internet and the best coffee. My vote?
Crema and Thistle Stop Cafe. I am now a little crazy from all the caffeine. :)
- We spoke to about 60 different people about Trades of Hope and how passionate we are about it!
- We visited some our artisans over at Thistle Farms (such a cool experience!)
- We saw snow!! (and almost froze with our Florida blood ;)
- We spent 6 days without a toilet and tried (very humorously) to try and fix it ourselves. Not a pretty experience.
- We figured out how fun (and tough) it can be to be in a new place every few days.
The trip, for me especially, was an exciting new challenge. I firmly believe that unless you are doing something that terrifies you, you aren't growing. This is pretty much the mantra of our trip. Meeting new people almost every day and speaking publicly (my worst fear) is something that can be so scary for my self-proclaimed introvertness. (I'm now just saying that I fall under both categories. lol). The last couple of years, I have found that I'm not the best at being a balanced individual and I am the greatest at being an obsessed workaholic. They were also full of a lot of confusion about what to do next with my life. I was 22 years old and I already had an amazing job (that I will never give up, for sure!), a cool apartment, and so much control of what I thought I knew. And I felt like I had no room to grow. It began to be stifling. It began to feel monotonous. In the face of the darkness of this world, my heart was struggling with trusting Jesus and understanding his goodness and love for me.
This road trip is exactly what I've needed. It's what Jesus has had planned for me since the very beginning. A job that has allowed me to travel and meet new people is the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for. More time with Ryan. And a requirement that I must stop being a control freak. I cannot control how fast we drive (a whopping 55 mph in a big fifth wheel), so I can't really control when I'm late to things, and I can't control when our bathroom decides to break, or if its 20 degrees out and if my cell service isn't there and my internet doesn't work. So much not-controlling for this girl.....and this not-controlling is helping me become the person I have always hoped to be. In this period of no control, I am finding a quietness. A deep joy that I thought I might have lost. An ability to live in the moment, which was so hard for me before. As I live in the moment, I find the believe in the goodness of God creeping back into my heart. As I live in this moment, I see people for the beautiful beings they are. I care deeper. I love deeper. I empathize better. I love Jesus more. I understand grace fully. I see the sweetness of the world clearer.
It's still hard and it will continue to be. Wherever you go, there you are and no matter how big of a roadtrip you go on, your unhealthy habits still remain unless you take the hard steps to end them. I am working through this. I am identifying where I need to let rest permeate. It is tough. We are in the growing pains period. But my heart is settling, and I am hoping by the end of this amazing Trades of Hope Tour that I am so blessed to be on, that I will have understood better how wide, and deep, and long, and high the love of Jesus is for me in a way that shakes me and quiets my heart and makes me trust and laugh more and understand this whole heartbreaking and beautiful world a little better. Pray that with me?
Here are some photos so far. I hope you enjoy journeying this trip with us. I feel your love and cannot thank you enough for being a part of my life.
Chelsie here. As some of you may know, Ryan and I will be traveling the US in a fifth wheel from February 2015-September 2015. We will be speaking for Trades of Hope and photographing along the way. As exciting as it will be, finding a new home (never mind a mobile home) was a daunting task. I especially was looking for something that had lots of sunny colors and that fit our style. This was way too hard to find and so.... we had to create it! The last few months we have been hammering and drilling and cutting and sewing and painting and wallpapering, all to create our dream home within a fifth wheel that was in our budget. We picked a used fifth wheel that was budget friendly (under $15,000) and our total renovations/decor rang up under $2500. (The paint and floor came out to be much cheaper, so replacing those in a fifth wheel is budget friendly. Decor is where some of the added expense can come in). Remember that this is our permanent home now and we moved out of our apartment totally, so we made sure we put some extra love into making this home our own.
Check out our before & after photos below, along with some fun detail shots below!
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3