What do you need from your travel housing?

Housing is something I have covered before at length, but today we’ll be looking at things a little bit differently. In the past, I’ve been looking at the hotels, hostels, apartments, ect. as a place where you move in and out – sometimes a home-away-from-home but most of the time a place to store your bags until you move to your next destination.

What I’m looking for in terms of my next adventures is a little difference and this is why I want to talk about looking at your priorities to figure out what you should consider and balance (budget verses utilities) to find your best fit.

So my next adventure: My week and a half honeymoon here in sunny Los Angeles.

In terms of housing, we are jumping around a little like I had talked about before, however, we are also looking to find a place (for a little while) to call home. We have our first night together in a local hotel before running down to The Majestic Garden Hotel (we’ve talked about this in the past) to spend some fun times at Disneyland! After a few days at this, we want the last week of our time together to be easy.

We decided that a big part of making that happen is having as many amenities as we can manage without breaking the bank –  enter AirBnB!

I have talked about my past experiences here as well as hostels so I can’t explain enough how important it is to look at pictures but also read everything, including as many reviews as you can stomach! Remember to read these with a grain of salt – some people are less seasoned travelers or pickier than you may be which will make for worse reviews than you may end up feeling they deserve. Another great clue is looking at how the owners respond to the reviews they get – are they aggressive? are they apologetic? do they try to fix what happened? These all dictate what you can expect during your time here.

When you move past the fine print and the reviews, it’s deciding what you need and what you don’t. For me, at least in most of my travels, having a washer and dryer is nice but not necessary, WiFi is a must, parking can be here or there; you get the picture.

Now, I would love much homier details. I’m not looking to be out all the time so things like washer and driers, privacy, not having to worry about parking, stores at walking distances, and cozy enough to just hang out and be with my husband. Again, this is my honeymoon – every vacation is different so knowing what you need and the requirements of the people you are with matter before delving in!

I love AirBnB because it is more than just a place to book a place to stay; there are suggestions for things to go see or experience, from local lookouts, to cooking classes, to hikes. This is really user generated so don’t forget to review these experiences as well as where you stay!

What is the best part of this whole finding a place to stay experience for me? Ryan has done it all! Gotta love distributing tasks and teamwork.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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What do you need from your travel housing?

2018: looking ahead and looking back.

While Ryan snagged the first week of the year – and thank goodness because last week was a little crazy – I figure that looking back and then ahead as we start out the new year isn’t a bad way to start.

First off, looking back:

Well, last year was a whirlwind of crazy. I am sure it is pretty clear that Ryan was a big part of my year, including most of my travels. I got to travel to Kansas for the first time, run around LA with new experiences in old, familiar places, camping trips and road trips and all kinds of shenanigans. It is seriously crazy how much life can change in less than 12 months, isn’t it.

Now looking forward:

I get married in 3 months which means a lot more trip planning and some local travel running around with friends and then my husband until i send him back on his plane home to Germany. If I am very, very lucky, I may snag a trip out there but it looks more like more small trips until a year from April – when we’ll be flying out to North Carolina for another wedding.

Still, I have decided for 2018 that  – while managing my budget to not completely destroy my possible travels later! – I will be pushing myself. I will see more and do more and I will be telling you all about it.

Until then,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

2018: looking ahead and looking back.

Germany’s Christmas Markets

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German Christmas Market. December, 2017.

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen! We are still in the 12 days of Christmas, right? so not to late for all of this! Also I am extremely excited to announce another guest blogger – whose work I will probably have a lot of fun commentating – My Fiance, Ryan, who I have been discussing a whole lot lately…. which he now is very aware of as I just gave him access to this site….. Yep. Hi, babe!

Anyway, he’ll be going into more details on his life and I hope you guys enjoy and get to hear from him a bit more – partners are fun!

As the aforementioned fiancé living abroad in Germany, I am finally joining Taylor here on Leave-on-the-Wind as a guest blogger. Seeing as I will be spending 3 years as a Soldier in a foreign country, I figured it would be fun to support my fiancé’s blog with some OCONUS (Outside Contiguous United States) views. I get to experience Germany and Europe as a whole for the first time; while I have lived in a couple states and deployed twice to the Middle East, I haven’t spent much time in foreign countries that are not war zones.

I arrived in Germany a little over a month ago, disappointed to have missed Oktoberfest (The real one since we did manage the LA equivalent!), but excited for the next big holiday group event: The Christmas Markets.

Most major cities in Germany have their own Christmas Markets as well as some of the smaller towns but they are proportionally smaller versions. My first taste of the markets was in my local town of Ansbach, where a small market took place in a walking shopping district.

My friends told me it was a tragedy to attend any Christmas Market and not have some festive glühwein, a traditional Christmas beverage most commonly made from a boiled red wine mixed with various spices. I gladly purchased a glass, which instantly started warming me up on that windy, cold day that I have come to recognize as the common daily weather.

It’s taste was compelling, to say the least.

I have never fancied wines much – always feeling forced to enjoy them when offered a glass – but something about the glühwein really resonated with me. Whether that was because of the added spices, or the warmth it provided, I cannot say, but I know I went back for quite a few more cups of it.

Throughout this drinking process, I also discovered an interesting sales mechanism that seemed particular to the markets. Every glühwein seller will charge extra for the mug they provide the drink in, but if you later return the mug, you receive a deposit back or you may forego the deposit and keep the glass. Naturally I kept my first one as a souvenir of my first market. (Check out the pictures below!)

We wandered the market, making small purchases and enjoying the time with friends, as I practiced my meager German. I had come to think of this small, lightly crowded market with just a couple dozen stalls as being the standard of a Christmas Market.

Boy, was I wrong.

The next weekend, I had the opportunity to travel about an hour away to Nuremburg with a coworker, her husband, and their 9-year-old son.

Making our way into the market, I was floored by how many people I was seeing already – this market must be huge: it was. It had hundreds of stalls and thousands of people were milling around.

Most of the time, the market was a crushing crowd, as people pushed left and right to get through – certainly not for those who don’t do well in crowds, but if you can brave the ruckus, you are rewarded with stalls selling all kinds of goods; from handmade candles, to Christmas ornaments, to pastries, pretzels, and sweets. The smells of all the foods cooking was overwhelming, and I wanted a little bit of everything. I stand by my decision to start of with a pretzel and a glühwein and slowly try random pastries and other foods picked at random.

As we walked, we started in on a maze of stalls that seemed organized to lead you in a line from stall to stall as if in a brightly colored labyrinth. My group lost me more than once as I would get distracted by a beautiful bauble, a delicious smelling bag of tea, or the plethora of hanging Christmas tree ornaments. Finding them again, we would start back down the path again, seemingly wanting to buy everything they had to sell. (I talked about this way back when I was living in London; pace yourself and set a budget!)

In the end, not counting food and drinks consumed as we roamed, I managed to buy two ornaments for me and Taylor, a big bag of caramel apple black tea (which smells as sweet as its namesake), and a bag of fruit flavored sweets for my friend’s son. After hours of walking around, we spent some time listening to the band that was on a little stage in front of what looked to be a cathedral, and then called it a night.

Honestly, this introduction to a little bit of German culture and a wonderful evening out was just what I needed to help integrate me better into the place I plan to live, and I was glad to have the chance at some (very poor) German interactions as I butchered their otherwise beautiful language.

Thank God for Google Translate.

I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did and, again, welcome, Ry (as both a reader and writer)! So until next time around,

This is Ryan, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Germany’s Christmas Markets

Surprise!

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A Stop in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. 1 July 2017.

Things are going to be getting pretty interesting here on Leave on the Wind, because while I may be talking some planning over on the other blog, my life is going to involve thinking about and planning a few other people’s travel rather than my own. Why?

Well, I am getting married.

…. in about 3 months; less than 100 days in fact.

… and the groom currently lives in Germany.

… and the best man and maid of honor both live in different parts of North Carolina.

…. and they all have different schedules and needs for getting out here.

In other words, while I am excited to be getting married and everything else that is to come, I also have a whole lot of stuff I will be working to stay on top of.

Luckily, we are keeping things small and cheap so those three are really the only people who have to travel. But then there are the local (almost staycation-like) factors that include road-tripping to get registered as a military spouse, getting a hotel or an apartment for the 15 days Ry will be here, and the time we want to stay down near Disneyland.

So yea, it’s going to be a hectic few months and then some European/German trips where I can’t wait to explore and show my (soon-to-be) husband the parts of the world he hasn’t had the opportunities to explore.

All this and so much more to come, but until then:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Surprise!

The Majestic Garden Hotel.

Last week, I talked about my big trip to Disneyland with Ryan – our crazy, nerdy adventure and I didn’t even remember to mention our adventure in pin trading (another big part of our adventure that slowed our pace through the park even more).

But instead of going on more and more about Disneyland, which I could because I truly enjoy it so much, I will be looking and talking more about the amazing experience we had at the hotel shaped like a castle a street or two down from the park: The Majestic Garden Hotel.

First and foremost, this is not an official Disneyland Park Hotel – staying here may bring you closer to the park so you can get in earlier or sleep in depending on your preferences, however, it doesn’t give you perks like early entry to the parks (called the Extra Magic Hour which changes by day from one park to the other) and the ability to send bought items back to the hotels so you don’t have to carry them away and don’t have to turn around and scavenge for your prizes at the end, busy shopping part of your day. While there are other perks (like access to the pools at any of the resorts), there aren’t any kind of deals on tickets or the merchandise at either park.

When weighing these perks against astronomical prices I have found at these resorts, I have been pretty permanently turned off of them. I remember walking through the Grand California when I was younger to meet mom who was rooming there for a business conference and the entire place smelled amazing – this is a smell that finds me every single time I walk by the hotel. I haven’t been inside since but that is how strong a response this place leaves with me.

Again, despite all of this, I can’t even explain how much I love The Majestic Garden Hotel.

The hotel is absolutely amazing in terms of all the things it offers, it’s tiny fairy tale details, the price, the access to the parks, it’s views and (at least for us) it’s discounts. Unfortunately, I had a phone debacle after our trip so the majority of our hotel pictures are gone as well – meaning one more reason to come back and recreate some garden photos! – but I will still talk about everything else.

Basically, you are staying in a castle with fairy tales woven throughout it – there are different parts of a tale about a princess and a castle covering the walls and floors as you wander through the hotel – so seriously, feel free to wander. This is the story of Princess Corinne who you can meet or write to during your stay here. This is a lot of fun for little ones who love princesses!

There are pools and gardens and the hotel restaurant is amazing – I am a picky breakfast eater but their buffet was amazing and so was the grilled cheese and tomato soup we had for lunch (they even gave us the kids grilled cheese price alongside the soup). We didn’t spend a ton of time here, however, I was so taken aback by all of these amazing features.

Before you look at the room here, you should check out all of the deals that they cycle through throughout the year. We used the Military discount that got us a double queen room for $90 a night, plus free parking (usually $16 a day), and free transport to and from the park with some of the nicest shuttle drivers I have ever met!

Again, we were here as a couple, but there were many families who were having a blast as well. I am very hopeful that I will be returning here soon enough, but until then, do some research and chase your own magic adventures!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Majestic Garden Hotel.

Travel Confessions of an LA Girl

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Driving Los Angeles. Los  Angeles, California. 2016.

In case I haven’t made it obvious before, I am a Los Angeles native. While I am a valley girl, I have always lived a quick drive from the city and some of my favorite spots are such because of the cityscape I get to see from them. I love walking through downtown whether searching for murals to take pictures of; checking out architecture; exploring the markets, parks and museums; going to Marches; or visiting the fabric districts for the best deals – there is so much to see and do in the city that makes living near it amazing.

However, despite my 26 years living near cities – LA, San Francisco, and London – and a solid 10 years as a fully licenced driver, I absolutely hate driving in the city.

Give me crazy freeway Los Angeles drivers, flying at speeds that scare folks from the central, fly-over states; The lines of motorcyclists who weave in and out of traffic; the never-ending construction zones that make the freeways expand and contract at dizzying intervals – I will take it all over driving into the city on surface streets.

I will gladly be chauffeured into the city by family or friends for group things or I will take the metro, but driving in the city drives me absolutely bonkers! I had to do this for my senior thesis in high school. Part of the paper required going down to the LA Public Library after school and meeting with your teacher so they can talk to you about the topic as well as give you suggestions on how to find sources as well as how to use resources like libraries.

I loved the library – I hated driving there. I had a terrible GPS that kept crashing or loosing signal between the buildings and when I tried redirecting myself, I ended up going up a one-way street in the wrong direction! While It was fine and I had plenty of time and space to turn it around, as a seventeen year old, it left an impression and even thinking about driving in LA makes me cringe.

So if you are traveling into a big city – especially Los Angeles (I find San Francisco so much easier to navigate!) – I will always recommend considering all your transportation options before automatically going for a rental. I love driving in LA but we have a very specific driving rhythm which feels like mayhem if you are not used to it – in fact, if you mess up the rhythm, often times, you will be making the roads less safe than the normal ‘crazy’ LA-based driver.

But it is true: I love my city, but if there is a choice of driving into the city myself or staying in the valley – purely for my driving sanity – I will usually opt for the latter.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Travel Confessions of an LA Girl

Travel Dating: Embrace Every Moment.

The weird thing about dating for me has been the fact that the majority of the time I have been able to spend with my boyfriend has been while traveling and one-fifth of that time was in a car.

For some, traveling with a significant other can break a relationship – it can quickly point all your partners flaws or quirks that tick you off as well as highlight all the ways your personalities don’t fit. On the other hand, traveling together can strengthen your relationship as you have to figure out how to work together to overcome all those obstacles that traveling can put in your way.

For me, as a traveler, I don’t mind playing it by ears up to a point – let’s be honest I plan what I can with a little room to switch up activities where need be – but Ryan had little bits planned and everything else was played completely by ear, seizing every opportunity.

As I have outlined before now in my other posts about Kansas, we made everything into a date or into a game and embraced every activity we could come up with, even if it meant that we didn’t do all the traditional travel things I normally would.

Whether you are trying to embrace every moment – like me! – because you are trying to get all the time with your significant other that you can, or if you are trying to get everything out of a vacation that happens to be with your significant other, keeping communication with them and balancing what you want to do is key.

This gets crazier for me because I am aware that this is is going to be my life for the next three years when Ryan is living in Germany and any trip out here or there is going to involve a mix of traveling and dating – so yes, this is a motto I will be absolutely living by.

Therefore, to end this post: if you have any advice on how to make this work and keep embracing every moment, feel free to sound off below!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Travel Dating: Embrace Every Moment.