Couple

The perfect wedding registry for the traveling couple!

Editors Note: The following is a guest interview. For more information about writing a guest post for Heathers Harmony Download Writing a Guest Post

The Perfect Wedding Registry for the Traveling Couple

I have a very dear friend who is getting married today, on leap day, how awesome is that?

We were college roommates many moons ago and I am thrilled to see her so happy. Unfortunately they live in another state so I can’t share their day with them, so I thought sharing it here on Heathers Harmony was as good as I could do for now until they move back to Utah soon.

Ashlee has asked me for a few tips about planning their honeymoon backpacking through Europe and she mentioned a website they were using that is basically a wedding registry for items on your honeymoon, like eurail passes, eiffel tower tickets and a pizza dinner in Italy. I hadn’t heard of anything like this and thought it was a brilliant idea to share with you!

I asked Ashlee and her now husband, Caleb to talk about planning their honeymoon and answer a few questions about their travels.

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From the beginning of our engagement we agreed that the majority of our wedding budget should go towards an awesome Honeymoon versus a huge wedding reception. Caleb and I have been on many trips together, and since a Honeymoon should be the mother-load of all trips, we knew we had to do it right. So about a year ago I started looking into places like India, Bali, Thailand and Hawaii. Comparing prices and adventure options felt overwhelming, and I started to think that another trip to Disneyworld was going to be the final decision. Then, one day I was faithfully reading my latest issue of “Martha Stewart Wedding” magazine, when the clouds parted and my mind was blown by the latest wedding trend: honeymoon gift registries. This BRILLIANT revelation was perfect for couples like Caleb and I, who already have the traditional registry gift items, but would still like to give their guests a chance to participate in their special day. On thehoneymoon.com you can create a registry tailored to the specific countries and activities you would like to enjoy on your trip. After booking our flights and Eurail passes, all we had to do was finalize where we wanted to go and what we would like to see. It was very easy to manage and spread the word to our friends and family. It’s exciting to have the chance to take a trip like this with your sweetheart, but A LOT of planning is needed! Plane tickets, inter-country travel, lodging, travel documents, packing lists and countless itinerary options can easily snowball into a mess. I was rescued by a handful of lifesaving websites: hostelworld.com, skyscanner.com and eurail.com. All of these were very user-friendly and full of useful travel tidbits and great deals. Many high-fives and shady handshakes to the brains behind these websites that helped make our dream vacation a reality! Once we had everything planned and booked, it was time to get excited about everything that was waiting out there for us to see!

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Below are some questions we answered about our upcoming adventure across the pond.

Which country are you most excited to see?

Caleb: Italy- I feel more drawn to the people, food, and culture because they personify what I enjoy most in life.

Ashlee: Ireland- the Irish seem to me to be the “Southerners” of Europe; very friendly and hospitable and they have the best accents! I also have ancestors from Ireland.

What 3 landmarks are you most excited about?

Caleb: Old Trafford (Manchester United’s stadium), Colosseum and anything else in Italy.

Ashlee: The Eiffel Tower, Sistine Chapel and the Grand Canal in Venice

What type of transportation are you most excited about?

Caleb: The trains, I’ve never been on a train before.

Ashlee: Either the ferry we are taking to Ireland or riding on a gondola! That has been a life-long dream of mine!

What is (your soon to be spouses) best quality for traveling?

Caleb: She is very oriented and organized

Ashlee: He is very good at going with the flow and calming me down if things don’t go as planned.

What 3 things will you definitely not forget to pack?

Caleb: My passport, toothbrush and my iPhone.

Ashlee: I’ll be sure to bring my camera, chapstick and sunglasses.

What food are you most excited to try?

Caleb: REAL, authentic Italian food.

Ashlee: Any sort of street food, or yummy French breads

What is one souvenir you would like to bring home?

Caleb: Manchester United jersey

Ashlee: Hard Rock Cafe shirts or little wooden boxes from the places we visit.

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Ashlee is one of my favorite girls ever, she has an unfailing sense of humor, never ending generosity and a contagious positive energy. I wish them both endless happiness and hope their wedding day is nothing short of perfect and blissful!

I can’t decide if I should get them plane tickets, dinner on the eiffel tower or tickets to tour the Manchester  United Stadium??

Congratulations you two!

A Realization that Changed my Entire Perspective

Selling my condo isn’t just a personal loss, it’s a community gain. The traveling community.

I needed to let go of my condo and a rooted life only to turn around and embrace the vast amount of relationships, opportunities and experiences that come with the traveling life & the community I will be gaining.

It’s a leap of faith that they will embrace me in return. I hope they like me, similar to being the new kid in school, I hope there is a place for me.

How quickly life can change.

I decided to stay in Utah until July so I could go on our family vacation to Breckinridge, Colorado and days after it was cancelled I received The Art of Travel Blogging newsletter and learned about the Travel Blogger Exchange, TBEX 12 in June taking place in Keystone, Colorado.

The doubts return. Should I go? Is there a place for me? Can I call myself a travel blogger yet?

I want to see where this blog can take me.

I want to meet people who are dedicated and passionate about the same things I am.

I want to be a travel blogger.

So, I am going.

My condo was a large source of my identity and now being a travel blogger will evolve my sense of identity. And that my friends, is exactly as it should be!

If you haven't yet checked out my blog posts on the Art of Travel Blog you can read them here. 5 Lessons from my first 6 months of Travel Blogging and 5 Tips from my first 6 months of Travel Blogging.

What was it like for you to close one chapter and start anew? How did you overcome your doubts?

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Thoughts on Becoming a Permanent Traveler

In 2008 I knew that I loved to travel and knew it was a hobby I wanted to pursue. It was then that the seed of my dream to be a dedicated traveler was planted, I knew so little of the lessons life would teach me during my preparations.

For as long as I can remember there have been three major steps/signs of my expat life:

1)      Graduating from college- I returned to school full time, while working full time and now all I have left is completing my thesis which is nearly halfway done and I’m really hoping to have it done by the end of March.

2)      Selling my Condo- In the beginning, my dream was to sell my condo for a profit and use the money to travel and/or pay my school loans with. I’ve lived there for 6 years and during that time the market crashed and at this point I’m just grateful to being selling it at all. After being on the market for a year, I JUST signed the papers and should officially be a non-homeowner tomorrow.

3)      Be unemployed- I’ve been expecting to be laid off for a long time now (long story, but it’s a good thing) If I stay until they lay me off I will get great benefits that could benefit my travel plans although at this point we still have no idea when that could happen. So it may be the case that I stay and save money or end up quitting, although if there is anything I am expecting its that what is meant to happen will happen and life has a way of working itself out.

As I mentioned, one of these three has officially happened. I’ve sold my condo and it should all be official tomorrow. Thrilling, right?

UPDATE: All of these 3 things have sincehappened. My last day of employment is June 1, 2012 and I have a one way ticket to Europe on July 15th!

Of course it’s a good thing, however in this post I am going to focus more on the reflection this event has created in my life and a realization I hadn’t yet come across.

Reflections on a personal level

My condo has been my greatest source of security and “home” for the past 6 years. It’s bittersweet to be ending such a happy and influential chapter of my life. I think of who I was when I bought this condo in 2006 and quite honestly I don’t recognize her.

I had NO IDEA that life had some serious lessons in store for me which would eventually lead me to rediscover and reinvent myself.

I couldn’t be happier with who I am today, in my most desperate of moments I wish I could have whispered in my ear and tell myself how much goodness can come from the most negative of situations. But alas, that lesson has been learned and I embrace turmoil and uncertainty with open arms and know there is something better waiting at the other end of the experience.

Just as I do now, letting go of one part of my life only to embrace another.

How quickly life can changeI’ve been preparing to move out of my condo for a year now, slowly getting rid of possessions, personas and an old lifestyle.

The process has been very slow which in several ways has been beneficial to my letting go and also to prepare for a new lifestyle.

However, in a matter of 5 days I went from waiting for an answer, getting final approval, moving out, signing papers and tonight will be my first time sleeping in my new home. Which is a large room in a very dear friend’s house until I’m ready to make the jump to being a permanent traveler. I cannot imagine a better place for me to transition from one life to another and I will be forever grateful to Traci for opening her home to me.

A sense of loss?

I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations and good cheer responses to the news but there is a part of me that wanted to be sad, in a way, there is a part of me that dies with the selling of my condo and it wanted sympathy and condolences.

I hadn’t expected to feel that way and was surprised at the feelings of loss when I got the final approval. I decided to spend a night at my condo being sad and letting the grief soak through my soul. Then I went into production mode, planning, packing and preparing to move, I thought the sadness had passed, until it hit me like a train.

My family & I had just carried my belongings outside and as I headed back inside to grab more, I walked up to my front door and saw my apartment empty for the first time since I’d moved in. Before I knew it my breath caught in my chest and there were tears streaming down my cheeks. This was it. The point of no return. I quickly let out as many tears as I could before my family walked in on my break down, grabbed the last of my things and headed out the door to unload them into my new home.

A sense of support & security

I have an amazing support system here, my family & friends are so generous and thoughtful. With such little notice to move out they were quick to come to my aid, my parents drove 5 hours in one day just to help me move and I couldn’t (literally) have done it without them, my step brother let me use his trailer and was kind enough to let us use his muscles for heavy lifting. I also want to thank my brother Robby & friend Dani for helping me take a few trips prior to the big move, it made the process must faster!

As I was driving the possessions that made the transition from one chapter of my life to another.

I was shocked at the doubt that flooded my mind. What if I can’t pull this off? What if I’m doing all this for nothing? What if I fail? What if I’m not good at travel writing and blogging? What if the traveling community doesn’t like me?

Where was all this sadness & doubt coming from? It was coming from a sense of loss, but how was I losing anything when I am gaining momentum in pursuing my greatest dream to date?

And then it hit me.

Visiting Four Corners Monument

What else to do at Four Corners other than lay down and take a picture?

The Four Corners Monument is pretty much in the middle of no where, which makes it perfect if you’re already on the road and ready for a break and a fun novelty stop. However, going to Four Corners has been on my bucket list for years and as the time approaches for me to leave the US and travel the world I realized I needed to start knocking out all these little nearby things I’ve wanted to see and do. In a matter of 2 1/2 days I think my friends and I spend a good 12-15 hours in the car, and the monument itself might seem a little anti-climactic.

Take a less conventional photo, where others may not take the time to stop.

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I decided to take advantage of every photo op I could get my friends to agree to and in retrospect I am really glad I did, I appreciate my friends being so willing and easy going. This was my first “trip” after starting this blog and knowing that I wanted to share it here made it a lot easier to spot fun pictures.

I know everyone goes to take the typical ‘look I’m in four places at once photo’ and honestly without explaining or already knowing what Four Corners is, some people might not know why we are laying on the ground looking so pleased with ourselves. So I figured we should take one in front of the welcome sign that clearly states where we are.

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Eat the local food, since the monument is actually located in Navajo nation so naturally there is yummy fry bread and Navajo tacos that we just couldn’t resist… it’s the culture right?

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Nate was really excited about his Navajo Taco and it was seriously delicious! I highly recommend taking a sit down to enjoy the delicious local foods! When I was in college I had a roommate who came from Native American heritage and she used to make us fry bread all the time. Which they also make at four corners and comes with some dessert toppings for those with a sweet tooth.

Navajo Taco

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We were there on a pretty slow day so not all of the little shops selling jewelry, trinkets, arrows and other memorabilia were open but there were a few and I even found hand carved Christmas ornaments. I had secretly hoped they would have some but didn’t want to get my hopes up and wouldn’t you know it they were unique and absolutely gorgeous!

The lady who hand carves these ornaments, pottery and other hand made items also has a pottery website here named, Yabeny Pottery. She was very kind and helpful!

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I’m so happy with my ornament, its handmade, made from local product, sold by the artist independently, states where & when I was there and even has her company name.

Everything I love in the treasures I’ll have forever!

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Have you ever been to four corners? What was your favorite part?

saturday snapshot: Adding adventure to road trips that can easily be over looked!

Other than just visiting the four states at the monument I thought it would be fun to take a photo with each state sign. Once again, the self timer on my camera was extremely useful and we got lots of fun and silly shots!

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 Above: myself, Brittany, Emily and Nate

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I think this was all of our first time in New Mexico and this sign is actually right at the entrance to the Four Corners Monument.

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This photo below might be my very favorite one of them all! I had the self timer set to take 7 consecutive photos and that way we were guaranteed at least one good photo and here I was caught completely in mid-air. AWESOME!

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You would think we have some really great tunes in the backgroud that we are dancing and getting inspiration from, but no, we're dance to our own beat :)

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Between all the border crossings we could never find an Arizona state sign. Either our eyesight failed us or Arizona failed us but either way that wasn't going to stop us. We stopped on teh Utah-Arizona border and made our very own sign! Clever, no?

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I was hesitant to ask my friends if they were willing to make all the stops, but they were all for it and it ended up being pretty fun and a good break to get out of the car and we got pretty creative with it. I would highly recommend it for any road trip!