• 5 Not Unique But Delicious Costa Rican Snacks

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Costa Rican cuisine is very similar to other Spanish counterparts such as Cuban and Colombian. However, just like each country in the world has their own personal spin on life, this also holds true for the food!

    Yes, you may have experienced these delightful bites in another country, but no trip to Costa Rica is complete unless you check these off your food bucket list.

    1. Imperial Beer

    I am not much of beer drinking, however, Imperial Beer is where it was at for me. I loved drinking like a local and it really just hit the spot on humid days by the beach.

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    2. Tropical Fruits

    Islands and places near the equator are famous for their fresh fruits and Costa Rica was no exception. From their blood oranges to star fruit, everything tasted so flavorful that it was great! But the standout fruit snack was their pineapple. Better than Hawaii or the Philippines, Costa Rica is where I have had THE BEST pinapples of my life. It’s also their main food export, so I’m sure that means something. Don’t believe me? Go there and try it or come at me bruh! ;P

    3. Casado

    A casado is a fairly all encompasing meal in Costa Rica. It has rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla, and an optional entrée that may include chicken, beef, pork, fish and so on and so forth. Get the picture? It’s their go to meal that you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. You can usually find these at small food outlets called sodas for a super cheap price, sometimes as low as $5 for a huge plate of food.

    Typical bistec casado

    Typical bistec casado

    4. Gallo Pinto

    Gallo pinto somewhat ties in to the casado except this is just a focus on rice and beans. I normally had more of this in the morning for breakfast versus the afternoon. If you aren’t down to eat a whole casado, sometimes just a portion of gallo pinto is all you need to get the tico (locals) experience.

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    5. Plantains

    Last but ABSOLUTELY NOT least are plantains. They serve plantains with literally every meal. Breakfast.. lunch…dinner. Everything comes with plantains. You are meant to eat them as part of the main meal, however, I like to save the sweet flavor as dessert. Long story short, I ate them all the time, they were always delicious and I was part plantain by the time I left Costa Rica.

    TELL ME! Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite food item or snack?

  • Things To Know When Visiting Costa Rica

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.


    It rains and it’s humid. Like REALLY humid.

    I know Costa Rica rains.. hence their rainforests. I did not know that it rained so much too the point where I don’t remember being completely dry. My hair… my skin… my clothes.. EVERYTHING was moist the whole week I was there. I’ve been in humidity, but sometimes I forget how sticky it can be. My recommendation is DO NOT where form fitting shorts, because you WILL have a terrible time trying to put them back on once the humidity has kicked in.

    They take USD

    No need to change your USD currency if you will be visitng popular tourist destinations. $1 was equal to $500 Colones when I was there. Fairly straight forward to buy items, your change will just come back to you in Colones. I personally still enjoy changing my currency. I like to think it makes me look more local.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    It’s not as cheap as you think it would be

    Speaking of money… be warned.. Costa Rica is not a budget traveker’s paradise. Sure you can buy a meal for about $5 – $8 bucks at a local Soda (small hole in the wall spot). The downside to Sodas is that they are not commonly located in the capital. In the capital, where I stayed, the prices were equivaletn to the United States. Sometimes I would catch a break and buy street empanadas or meat on a stick for a low cost, but that was only sometimes. The hotels, transportation and tours were all still relatively pricey. Not a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

    The Capital (San Jose) is pretty centrally located. Centrally FAR.

    I wish I had time to bum around on a small beach town, but alas, I only had 1 week. Instead of being isolated on a beautiful beach, I opted to see as much of the country as I possibly could in a short amount of time. I chose to stay in San Jose which was centrally located to the sites I wanted to see. Now, if you want to follow in my foot steps, I must warn you that just because it was central, doesn’t mean it was close to anything. San Jose was roughly 2 hours away from anything of natural beauty. It’s a sweet location for some people, but I know all that travel time is not ideal for all. I personally enjoyed it.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    Bring Bug Spray and Sunblock

    I don’t get bug bites and sun burns are a foreign concept to me… but my best friend was with me and ended up with about 25 bug bites and some gorgeous looking sun burns. In fairness, I used sunblock too. But not because I burn, but because I don’t want cancer.

    You need to like animals

    Costa Rica is full of wild animals who have integrated their natural habitat to that of their surroundings. For the most part, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. As a matter of fact, the locals don’t like you bothering them, so don’t. But if you’re calm and steady, you can see some real gems! You have more luck seeing animals when near the rainforest versus the city. For example, I saw the most animals when I was hiking through Manuel Antonio, their National Park and also Pacuare River when I was river rafting. Some animals I saw are pictured below! (But I definitely saw more than what is pictured.)

    It's a sloth in a tree!

    It’s a sloth in a tree!


    A deer! A female! Ray... a drop of golden sun...

    A deer! A female! Ray… a drop of golden sun…


    It's Marcel from Friends!

    It’s Marcel from Friends!

    Pura Vida

    Last but not least, be ready to learn the Pura Vida lifestyle! Pura Vida is a saying meaning Pure Life, but it really means anything positive. It means, have a nice day, thank you, you’re amazing, enjoy your stay, have a great life, best wishes, cheers, you’re a rock star… you get the deal? The Costa Rican people are happy and kind and you’ll have the best experience possible if you let their lifestyle find a place in your heart too.

    PURA VIDA!

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio

  • Best 9 Instagram Photos of 2015

    Best 9 Instagram Photos of 2015

    Best 9 Instagram Photos of 2015

    Why Best 9 you may ask? Because 9 photos can fit easily into a perfect grid that I can share on… you guessed it… INSTAGRAM! Thereandbackwithsnacks is the account and 2015 has been it’s year! I broke my goal of having at least 1,000 followers and I hope it only continues to grow! Instagram has such a huge impact on my life . It has pushed me to look more “Instagram ready” when I travel and has made me more creative in the photos I take! Also, I love #hashtags and adding locations so my Instamap can grow! So without further ado. Let’s count down my Best 9 Instagram Photos of 2015 (decided by photos with most likes & comments) and see where they were in the world.. Lastly, remember.. if you don’t already follow me, do so! Leave your Instagram account in the comments below and I’ll be sure to follow you on your travels as well.

    9. Forrest Gump Sign – U.S 163, Mexican Hat, UT

    Forrest Gump Sign - U.S 163, Mexican Hat, UT

    Forrest Gump Sign – U.S 163, Mexican Hat, UT

    It was such an adventure driving through Monument Valley to The Forrest Gump Sign from Las Vegas! My friend and I almost gave up but when we pulled to the side of the road.. THERE IT WAS! Proof that you should never give up on your travel adventures. The American Southwest is so beautiful, if you ever want to feel like you’re in a Western, drive through Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and South Utah!

    8. Great Basin National Park – Baker, NV

    Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV

    Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV

    This photo looks a tad silly, but what made it fun was that it was hailing in JUNE! Great Basin is in Northern Nevada and the climate is vastly different from Southern Nevada aka Las Vegas. The state is so large I’ve lived here for almost 15 years and have yet to see and experience it all! Great Basin is also home to kick ass caves that you can only find in certain places of the world, Lehman Caves!!!

    7. Palace of Fine Arts – San Francisco, CA

    Palace of Fine Arts - San Francisco, CA

    Palace of Fine Arts – San Francisco, CA

    I love San Francisco. The city is alive with variety. If someone didn’t know better this looks like it could be somewhere in Europe. Alas, it’s just an hour plane ride away from me, but I love it none the less! No matter how many times I visit the Bay Area, I never run out of things to do! It’s because I have become a Toucal.

    6. Millennium Park – Chicago, IL

    Millennium Park - Chicago, IL

    Millennium Park – Chicago, IL

    Can you feel my joy from this photo? I hope so, since that is what Chicago brings me. Skipping through the park drenched wet in the rain is what traveling there and back is all about! Also, the fall colors don’t hurt the photo seeing as the trees seem more photogenic than I do!

    5. Maverick Airport – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

    Maverick Airport - Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

    Maverick Airport – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

    This photo is special to me because this experience was a byproduct of my amazing job in Las Vegas. I love the Grand Canyon and that happy face you see will never fade no matter how many times I drive or fly to it! There are some rad photos that can be taken when you take a helicopter over the canyon as well. Talk about Canyon Dreaming!

    4. Mosaic Stairs – San Francisco, CA

    Mosaic Stairs - San Francisco, CA

    Mosaic Stairs – San Francisco, CA

    This was the first photo I had to break over 200 likes and you can see why. COLORS. COLORS. COLORS. These stairs are practically screaming “Isntagram me!!!” I love the beauty in this urban shot. Don’t you?

    3. Above Nevada – Boulder City, NV

    Above Nevada - Boulder City, NV

    Above Nevada – Boulder City, NV

    Now, if you know anything about my life, this was not done this year.. even though it was instagramed in 2015. However, I’m keeping it in the running because seeing it on this page is giving me HUGE motivation to jump out of another plane. Maybe a 2016 goal?

    2. The Bean – Chicago, IL

    The Bean - Chicago, IL

    The Bean – Chicago, IL

    Oh The Bean… So kitchy and touristy but I love it! It almost always has tons of people so be sure to go really early to avoid the crowds you see in this photo. I love it even more since it was a Free acitivty in Chicago! Have you read my post about Free Chicago? Check it out to see all the free things you can go.

    1. Sky Deck – Chicago, IL

    Sky Deck - Chicago, IL

    Sky Deck – Chicago, IL

    It doesn’t shock me that this was the most popular post. This is hands down one of the coolest things I did in 2015. Getting High in Chicago has been an absolute highlight, as evidence of all the love these photos have received.

    Obviously, these photos were all in the continental USA and that’s fine. The United States has much to offer in the “AWESOME” category. However, I think 2016 will be the year to go international. What do you think? Where are some really instagramable countries I ned to visit? Leave it in the comments below.

  • 10 Things Only Travel Can Give You This Christmas

    Many people buy their Christmas gifts from Amazon or their local retailer, but this year I’ve realized the best gifts come from travel. Actually, there are some things ONLY travel can give you this Christmas. The gifts are not only one of a kind but truly beautiful to behold. The list can go on forever, but let’s focus on 10 of the,.

    10. Sense of Wonder

    Every time I visit some place new, I don’t just check an item off my bucket list, it means I have room to add even more. The world never ceases to amaze me. Traveling shows you just how little you actually know and how much more there is to learn. Travel ensures you never become an expert in anything.

    LOGO

    9. Problem Solving Skills

    No trip goes completely as planned. Things happen, or things don’t happen. Either way, YOU NEED TO FIGURE IT OUT. You have no choice and in a way, that’s the best part. You are forced to learn and those problem solving skills are totally transferable in the rest of your life.

    8. Tolerance & Understanding

    When you travel, you are exposed to many new people, places and the cultures that go with it. Usually, no place is like home and it gives you a peak in to the rest of the world.. The more you travel the more open minded you become. When you are out in the world you are usually the outsider in a new place hoping the locals will tolerate and understand you, and the role reversal is something that stays with you when you return home.

    7. Stronger Sense of Self

    You need to know who you are when you are with people who know nothing about you. They can’t tell you who you are, it is up to you to decide who that person is. Traveling has made me personally so much stronger in spirit and mind. It’s also given me so much confidence because I know I can trust myself and I can do anything I put my mind to without the help of the crutches of my daily life and resources.

    Getting ready for the Canyon Dream Tour!

    Getting ready for the Canyon Dream Tour!

    6. Stronger Bonds With Friends

    As I just mentioned, traveling strengthens the relationship you have with yourself, but it also solidifies those with you y=travel companions. I think  my best friends are those I travel with. Those are the people who you know will stick with you through thick or thin, when plans don’t go your way. Travel gives you shared memories that will never go away.

    5. A Break From Routine

    Routine can get dull… fast. Travel is not routine. Even if you feel like you travel often and “do the same things in different places” my response to that is, do you really though? The answer is no. A break from routine can be such a breath of fresh air that can give life to your real life.

    Street BBQ

    4. Bragging Rights

    Let’s be real for a moment. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE loves to tell people the cool places they’ve been, the sweet things they have done and how badass their life is. Trust me. I mean EVERYONE. You know what that is called? Bragging rights. You know what travel gives you in spades? Bragging rights. Paris? Yeah I’ve been there. The Grand Canyon? Like five times! London? I lived there. Beaches in the Philippines? Of course, I winter there. …. See what I mean? Pretty cool right?

    3. Appreciation of Daily Necessities

    If you ever explore outside of the USA (since that is where I live) you will realize how good you have it here. (In fairness, it’s pretty good in Europe too) but I mean to Southeast Asia… or South America… many of these places don’t have the luxuries that I have at home. Running water, a great bathroom, air conditioning or a heater. Things I took for granted once upon a time, I no longer do. You can often find me in the shower saying “Man, I love running hot water.”

    2. Finding Happiness at Home

    Seeing the world is amazing, but so is coming home. Every time I leave Las Vegas and find my way back, I think I love home a little more. I love it because it does not trap me. Travel has made me realize that although there is only one place on my address, I can be a citizen of the world. However, just like the saying goes, if you love something, set it free, If it comes back it is mean to be. Well I keep finding myself back in Las Vegas and travel has made me OK with calling it home.

    Home Sweet Home

    Home Sweet Home

    1. Inner Peace

    Everything listed above, all combined gives me the greatest gift of all… inner peace. I am so happy and thankful for everything I am able to do and see in the world and experience at home. Travel has given me a chance to slowly ensure I don’t live with regrets and honestly, what is better than that?

     

    Meditating on a Philippine Beach

    Meditating on a Philippine Beach

    Go forth! Travel and receives the best gifts that it has to offer you!

  • Free Chicago

    Chicago Theater

    Chicago Theater

    At face value I thought Chicago would be an expensive city. I figured with fancy sounding names like “The Magnificent Mile”, “John Hancock Building”, “Chicago Art Institute” and “Buckingham Fountain”. But as it turns out, not only is it a city you can be cost effective in, you can also do some pretty rad things for FREE. That is right FREE CHICAGO. What are these fantastically frugal activities? Where should I even begin?

    Chicago Cultural Center
    Chicago Cultural Center

    Chicago Cultural Center

    The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building that opened in 1897. It’s not just gorgeous on the outside, but the inside staircase and stained glass dome are the true gem to behold. It’s a great starting off point during your first visit to Chicago.

    Chicago Cultural Center dome

    Chicago Cultural Center dome

    Navy Pier
    View of Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

    View of Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

    Chicago is right next to Lake Michigan which makes it a prime location for beach side fun, like piers. Chicago’s Navy Pier is an excellent choice if you want to get near the water without actually having to touch it. Navy Pier was built in 1916 and is also a prime location to view the Chicago skyline.

    Lincoln Park Zoo

    Lincoln Park Zoo is located north of the main downtown Chicago area, but worth the quick cab ride if you’re done exploring the city and need a bit of a break. The zoo is relatively mellow compared to some place like the San Diego Zoo and you really can’t beat free admission to see some animals.

    Millennium Park
    View of Chicago from Millennium Park

    View of Chicago from Millennium Park

    Now, Millennium Park is actually a park within Grant Park. It’s well kept and beautiful. It is centrally located and just an overall great place to relax for an afternoon. There is a playground for children as well as adults that includes a rock wall and an area to rollerskate. There are also works of art scattered throughout the area. The most notable of these art project to be The Bean or as it is properly know as, Cloud Gate.

    Cloud Gate
    Cloud Gate .. Aka The Bean

    Cloud Gate .. Aka The Bean

    Oh Cloud Gate. This is new iconic Chicago. Everyone knows the giant silver bean. It’s really interesting up close and personal. The sky’s reflection distorted by it’s bean shape. Cloud Gate is also insanely popular. It is almost impossible to take a photo alone with The Bean. You can go there in the evening and there are people.. early in the morning… there are people. Good luck trying to be alone!! Unless of course you’re me and insanely luck out that all the tourists ran away as soon as it started raining and it was the perfect moment to be alone. And for the record, it is even more gorgeous when no one else is around.

    Just the two of us at Cloud Gate

    Just the two of us at Cloud Gate

    Photo Ops

    Chicago Tree Colors

    This is a little all encompasing, but photo opportunities around the city are free. You can snag some killer shots of the buildings, both new architecture and old. You can capture images of the river, lake and bright colored trees from many places in Chicago as well. Just make sure you stop by the Chicago Theater, because let’s face it. Your trip won’t be complete unless you won’t!

  • Stay Awake On A Road Trip

    RoadtripLiving in the United States means that many amazing destinations are within driving distance. For me, the downside is that I have a difficult time staying awake on lengthy drives. I am actually notorious for doing so. Recently though, the road trip to Colorado and the Four Corners became a possibility and I needed to stay awake for an 8 hour drive… each way. So… the sleeping beauty that I can be needed a plan to stay awake the whole time. Most of it was trial and error but below is a formula of what I realized works best for me.

    Sleep

    Roadtrip SleepIt seems like common sense to get sleep before a road trip… but I figured I should add it to the list since I have been in a situation where I got NO SLEEP and completely hated life the whole time. So… get some sleep. Take a nap. Make sure you get sustainable shut eye. If you need to pull over and sleep…. do so!

    Food

    Roadtrip FoodSnacks! Tons and tons of snacks. It not only keeps you fed but it entertains you. It forces you to multitask and stay more engaged while driving. For me personally, I discovered that hot cheetos are magic. They are crunchy and spicy. It’s hard to fall asleep if your mouth is on fire!

    Caffeine

    Roadtrip CaffeineI love coffee. I love caffeine. I tend to go crazy overboard when driving. I like to start with a coffee before I leave or as soon as I start driving and I tend to pick up an energy drink or two for every 3 hours. It seems excessive, but as I said, I fall asleep.

    Music

    Roadtrip MusicWhatever you are listening to needs to be entertaining. Happy music makes for a happy driver. I spend plenty of time creating a playlist but if I’m feeling lazy, Disney movie music is a solid go to. I also occasionally enjoy listening to stand up comedy and audio books.

    Timing

    Roadtrip TimingAs they say, timing is everything. That goes for long distance driving. I find that for myself, leaving mid morning and driving into the mid afternoon OR leaving mid afternoon into early evening works best for me. There is definitely more traffic but those are the hours of the day when I am most alert.

    Friends

    Roadtrip FriendsHave a good friend with you! All the above does not compare to having a buddy with you while you drive. They are entertaining and keep you alert. It’s also a great time to bond and reconnect with them. Just make sure that the friend you choose isn’t a sleepy human. 😉

    Roadtrip SafeI’m excited I have finally come up with a list for myself that actually works and I hope someone out there finds this interesting and helpful! Now I can’t wait until my next road trip. The possibilities are limitless now that I can keep my eyes open for hours on end. Where is your favorite road trip worthy destination? What is the longest you have driven?

  • 11 Ways Travel Changes You

    Travel Meme12

    I’m sure you have heard it all before, “Travel changes you”. But guess what… IT DOES.

    I know you have heard and have seen many posts about how travel changes you and you know what? Here’s another! You’re already here, so just deal with it ok? Thanks! Also, this post is serving as another fun outlet for me to post hilarious internet memes that give me a good chuckle. So here, I present to you, my 11 ways that travel changes you.

    Cool

    You know you that when you talk to someone who has been there and done that, you can’t help but think they are the coolest thing since air conditioning. That person can be you! Traveling the world changes you into a super cool and ultra interesting person. In another word, it makes you fabulous. There is something fascinating about an individual who travels. Where did I get this scarf? London. Where did I learn to cook this dessert? Philippines. Where did I get you that gift? Mexico… face it. It just sounds amaze.
    Travel Meme

    Happiness

    Travel changes you into a happier person. There are very few times outside of traveling when I am as happy as when I am indeed traveling. Traveling is exciting, it’s new and different. It adds nothing but joy and HAPPINESS to your life. It’s a gift that keeps on giving because even after you are safely at home, you can reflect on your memories and look at your pictures and guess what? It will make you happy. Also, from a personal perspective, even planning for travel makes me happy. 🙂Travel Meme2

    Street Smarts

    Travel may not change you into a well known economic analyst or the leading expert on the search for Atlantis (we’re looking for that right?) But it can give you real life lessons and change you into a street smart individual. Or in another way, it gives you functional intelligence. You learn how to properly socialize in unknown situations where you may not want to ruffle feathers. It teaches you how to exchange currencies and what the going rate is so you don’t get ripped off. Travel changes you into embracing learning a new language so you can get by without getting lost on their public transportation system and it teaches you to become aware of your surroundings.  It teaches you how to mentally deal with handling the unknown. All of these street smarts may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how few people have it and how those who travel seem to have more of it.

    Travel Meme3

    Strong

    Traveling into the unknown, or just venturing outside of your comfort zone takes a certain amount of bravery and makes you a stronger person in the long run. Not all travel will go smoothly and it will test you when it all goes to hell. The end result being a stronger and more resilient you. Like the cliches on the internet say, you don’t know how strong you are until you have to be… and when you are hundreds of miles away from home with only yourself to rely on… you become very strong, very fast.

    Travel Meme4

    Confidence

    Given the first few things I listed such as: cool, happy, street smart and strong… how could that not lead to you being more confident? The trials and joys of travel help you learn to hold your head up high. You have seen the world and made it back A-OK. You can handle whatever life hands you next and do it with a smile! Besides, you also now have that cool travel swagger to help you too.

    Travel Meme5

    Independence

    If you are at me like all… you love your friends and people in general. When possible, I enjoy doing activities with my loved ones. However, life will happen and you won’t be able to pack everyone into your carry on and take them with you on your adventures. Also, on the flip side, sometimes people may not want to go with you. Don’t let any of that stop you! Travel is enough a reason to become independent and do whatever you want! It also shows how much you can do when alone. It’s liberating.

    Travel Meme6

    Become Present

    Travel will change you to truly appreciate the moment. The beauty of travel is that it is not your day to day home. It means you never know when you will get to be in that exact moment experiencing those exact same feelings again. Embrace it. A good travel day, or bad, live in it and learn from it. Being present is a great skill to master and the more you do it while traveling, the more you will do it in your daily life and I believe, the more you will truly value everything your life has to offer!

    Travel Meme7

    Grateful

    I appreciate every time I travel. No matter how often or what destination, I am so grateful to be able to do what I do. The more you let life WOW you, the more grateful for it you become. Also, when you are away from your daily comforts of home, you also learn to become grateful for what you have in daily life. And lastly, if given the opportunity to travel to a country not as wealthy as yours and when you see what the norm life is and how hard their struggle is, you learn to be so over the moon grateful to the circumstances at home. We all really have so much.

    Travel Meme8

    Likeable

    Likeable is different from being cool. Likeable is the sum of everything listed above. Travel will change you to become more open minded and tolerant of different cultures and people which in the long run will make you a likeable human being. This not only helps your personal life, but your professional life since many employers also like well traveled individuals.

    Travel Meme11

    Fall in Love

    This doesn’t mean you will fall in love with a tall, dark stranger in Paris… although that is definitely a possibility. I mean you fall in love, period. You fall in love with places, foods, moments and most importantly life.

    Travel Meme10

    Purpose

    Lastly, but definitely not least important is that travel changes you and gives you purpose. As stated above, travel changes you to fall in love which leads to you having a more defined purpose. Each purpose is of course different from everyone, but I assure you that travel will help you find it. For me, travel inspired my purpose for a travel blog, a purpose to learn everything about the world that I can and to give back to those less fortunate. My purpose changes a little bit here and there with every new experience I have, but I still find it amazing that I can even say I have one. Travel has made me less lost and that’s a change I welcome.

    Travel Meme9

     

  • 7 National Parks

    National ParksI love hiking and visiting National Parks. There are 59 National Parks in the United States. There are more National Parks than actual states in the country. Each one has something special to offer and the more parks you see, the better off you are for it. I have visited only visited 6! 🙁 That list includes Death Valley National Park in California, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park which extends throughout Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.The limited list is not enough. Below are 7 National Parks that are high on my Bucket List. Check them out!

    Yosemite, California
    Photo credit to Yosemite Park

    Photo credit to Yosemite Park

    The park contains North America’s highest waterfall (Yosemite Falls) and Ralph Waldo Emerson dubbed their mountains as“unmatched on the globe.” Need I say more?

    Bloggers who have been:

    The Indie Traveler – 5 Tips to Avoid Being Driven Mad by Crowds

    Denali, Alaska
    Photo credit to Skolai Images

    Photo credit to Skolai Images

    My boyfriend is hooked on the idea in living in Alaska. The National Park seems like a good idea to visit before we pack our bags. Only one, 92 mile road gains you access to Denali. Supposedly, this is the park if you want to experience WILDlife. Also, if I time it just right, you can see the Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis.

    Bloggers who have been:

    Kooky Travel – Photo Diary Denali National Park

    Olympic, Washington
    Photo Credit to Polyploid

    Photo Credit to Polyploid

    So named because it looked like the Gods could live there. The park has three distinct ecosystems. We have the coast, mountains and rainforest. It legitimately looks like something out of a Fairy tale or Tolkein novel.

    Bloggers who have been:

    Stick’s Blog – 7 Days & 6 Nights in the Olympic National Park

    Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennessee
    Photo credit to My Smokies

    Photo credit to My Smokies

    This is the most visited National Park in the United States. I think a song sums up why… “O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties..” It has purple mountains… just like in the song America the Beautiful. I don’t need any more of a reason.

    Bloggers who have been:

    Roads Less Traveled 

    Dry Tortugas, Florida
    Photo credit to Basic Planet

    Photo credit to Basic Planet

    The seven Dry Tortugas islands are the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The surrounding coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs. There are also legends of sunken treasures from shipwrecks! It’s a park where I can live out my Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

    Bloggers who have been:

    Jaspa’s Journal – Dry Tortugas National Park

    Glacier, Montana
    Photo credit to David J West

    Photo credit to David J West

    For starters, their official symbol of the park is a Mountain Goat. ADORABLE. Second, if current environmental trends continue, some scientists predict that by 2030 Glacier National Park will NOT have any more glaciers!! Must see it before then.

    Bloggers who have been:

    Travel Savvy Mom – Visiting Glacier National Park with Kids

    Hawaii Volcanoes, Hawaii 
    Photo credit to Wooden Camp

    Photo credit to Wooden Camp

    One of the world’s most active volcanic spots that’s comprised of two active volcanoes. You can walk near lava and literally watch land be created before your eyes!

    Bloggers who have been:

    Stuff It… Go Travelling – Discover Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    🙂 Wherever the road may lead you, remember to not only take plenty of pictures but stay safe! The best way to connect with nature on your National Park adventures is to know what you are getting yourself into. Read the Flora and Fauna Hiking Guide for useful tips about the general region you will be in. I find this guide useful any time I’m hiking in an unfamiliar area. You will thank me in the long run, I promise!

    Each park is so diverse I can’t wait to see and hike them all! Which ones have you been to? Which ones will you go to next? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thereandbackwithsnacks. Also, vote on where I should go next below 🙂 

    Which National Park should I visit next?

     
    pollcode.com free polls

  • 20 Spanish Phrases When Traveling

    Spanish Speaking FlagsSadly, I do not speak another language fluently. However, I am great at memorizing key phrases. My time in Europe taught me that having a few phrases memorized will go a long way when traveling in a foreign land. My focus lately has been on Spanish since I have plans on going to Mexico in the near future! Of course, Spanish is not only found in Mexico. You can use it all over the world in places like Spain, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. That was just to name a few.

    Foreign Language meme

    So, let us get straight to the point. The 20 Phrases I believe will help you out in any Spanish speaking country are:

    1. Hola , hablas Inglés ? / Hello, do you speak English?

    This is my #1 favorite foreign phrase, because you can literally just keep asking this question until someone says yes.

    2. Mi nombre es ______ / My name is ______

    Introducing yourself is just polite and you will find that many people will ask simple questions and it’s nice to be able to answer them.

    3. Soy de _____ / I am from _______

    Let’s be honest. Your accent or lack of Spanish accent will give away that you are not a local. Let them know where you are from!

    4. Encantada de conocerte. / Nice to meet you.

    End your conversations in a friendly way. Don’t forget to smile 🙂

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    5. Hablo muy poco español / I speak very little Spanish

    It’s ok to let someone know that you don’t speak the language fluently. They will understand and hopefully be sympathetic towards your current language struggle.

    6. Habla despacio , por favor. / Speak slowly, please.

    This is a favorite of mine. Even if you understand the language, it can be difficult if someone is talking very fast. If asked in a friendly way, people are more than willing to cooperate with this simple request.

    7. No entiendo. / I do not understand.

    When all else fails, you may have to tell someone you just don’t get it. Ideally, they will be able to communicate their message in another for you, or, you both just move on with you lives to something else.

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    8. ¿Dónde está el baño? / Where is the bathroom?

    Classic. You will need to know this, and when you need to know this, you will want to know how to say it. Just knowing how to say “Where is…” is useful all on it’s own, but the bathroom is crucial.

    9. ¿Me Puedes decir dónde está el ______? / Can you show me where ______ is?

    I like the specifics of this question (versus a simple “where is…”) because it allows you to point to a map versus just hearing the answer out loud, which can be difficult if you don’t understand too much Spanish.

    10. Quiero comida , quiero un restaurante. / I want food, I want a restaurant.

    Because who doesn’t go on vacation to eat?!

    11. Quiero una bebida. Quiero agua / café / té / cerveza. / I want a drink. I want water/coffee/tea/beer.

    And who doesn’t want to drink? You will probably need a wide assortment of these beverages when on a trip. Feel free to also learn “uno mas” which means, “one more” just in case you are REALLY thirsty. 🙂

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    12. El cheque por favor. / The check, please.

    Don’t forget to pay for your meals.

    13. ¿Cuánto cuesta esto ? ¿Cuál es el costo? / How much is this? What is the cost?

    Asking the price is useful for many portions of a vacation. You can use it while dining, shopping, or evening transportation.

    14. Quiero eso . Quiero esto. / I want that. I want this.

    Another useful phrase that can be used to point to items on a menu or in a store.

    15. ¿Dónde se encuentra el taxi / tren / autobús? / Where is the taxi/train/bus?

    In case your destination is a little too far to walk.

    16. Para / Stop

    I use this when asking taxis to stop in certain in locations as needed, in case something catches my attention.

    17. Necesito ayuda. / I need help.

    When all else fails, ask for help! Try not to look too panic stricken when doing so.

    Forein language meme2

    18. Estoy Perdida / I am lost.

    You can string this together with “I need help” to clarify what you need help with. (I usually get lost, so this was a MUST for me.)

    19. Lo siento , perdón / I’m sorry, excuse me.

    It’s important to be polite wherever you go. It’s amazing how much more receptive a local can be when you are kind and polite.

    20. Adiós , gracias! / Goodbye, thank you!

    It’s been a great trip, but I am going home. Adiós!

    Foreign language meme4

    Of course these aren’t necessarily the ONLY words you will need to know in Spanish, but it’s a start. If time permits, I encourage everyone to become familiar with as many words and phrases as possible. I also suggest travelers take time to listen to podcasts or Youtube videos showcasing learning other languages. Having it play in the background helps more than you probably realize. I also enjoy watching my favorite Disney movies that I know line by line in Spanish. Hope this was helpful to everyone and wish me luck in Mexico!

  • 11 Ways to Better Enjoy an International Trip

    1. Research your country of destination.

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    This is clearly a very broad statement but it’s the truth. Before embarking on an international adventure (or ANY trip) you need to do basic research on the country you plan to visit. There will always be a ton of information; there will never be enough time to research, so start as early as possible. Even if you haven’t booked or finalized any travel details. Besides, it will give you a chance to come up with a game plan and to get so incredibly hyped for your trip!

    2. Get a passport.

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    To even be able to leave the country you will need one of these. You might even need a visa, depending on your country of origin and your country of destination. Processing a passport can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks so don’t procrastinate on this! Also, if you have a passport, make sure it doesn’t expire before you take off! And more importantly, you know where it is. Nothing would suck more than the blind panic of trying to find your passport, only to realize it’s lost or expired.

    3. Find out the time difference and be prepared for jetlag.

    Meme2

    Jetlag can take away valuable time from your precious vacation. No one wants to waste their time sleeping during the wrong hours of the day. Being a little tired during travel is inevitable, but you can try to get a leg up. I try to get myself prepped a few days ahead by researching the new time zone I will be in and trying to slowly adjust my schedule. I also utilize my plane ride the best I can by trying to figure out when I should sleep. Also, get a travel pillow for better sleep.

    4. Prepare your money.

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    Research the currency exchange. More often than not, when traveling to a different country, there will be a drastic change in the value of your money. It’s important to find out far in advance what the exchange rate is so you can budget accordingly. Be sure to also try and research the average cost of some of your travel expenses in the country of destination. Even more importantly, call your bank and let them know you are travelling outside of the country. This way they won’t freeze your funds when you need it most.

    5. Learn the language.

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    What is the local language? Do you know it? Do you need to know it? Some countries also speak English (Like Canada, The United Kingdom and even the Philippines!) while many do not. If the prominent language is something you are not familiar with, better brush up before you get there. Try to be familiar with a few catch phrases. My favorites to learn before visiting any country are “Hello”, “Thank you” “Do you speak English?” 🙂 Bring a guide book and translator just in case!

    6. Check the weather.

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    Not everywhere in the world is going through the same seasons at the same time, so check the weather and pack appropriately. Definitely check more than one city too! If you are traveling all over a particular country, then check the weather in all of those cities.

    7. Do you need any immunizations?

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    You don’t want to get sick on vacation. It’s a waste of time and is the worst way to experience a city. Ask your doctor what you need and be sure to get it done a few weeks in advance. In general, just try to stay super healthy before your trip. Flying while sick is terrible and vacationing while sick is even worse. Stock up on those immunizations and vitamin C.

    8. Bring an adaptor for your electronics.

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    Let’s face it. We are addicted to our electronics. To help us not feel so archaic, be sure to pack an adaptor and bring extra batteries if needed. Heaven forbid you miss the chance for the perfect selfie or you can’t curl your hair.

    9. Become familiar with local customs and dress styles.

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    This may be my inner fashionista talking, but it matters what you wear. You don’t want to offend anyone or necessarily stick out like a sore tourist thumb. If you pack correctly, it will also help you avoid awkward moments and spending unnecessary money on having to buy clothing on the fly.

    10. Have a communication plan for your friends and family at home.

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    Know how you plan to get a hold of your family just in case of an emergency.Traveling to a foreign country can be dangerous. Anything could happen at home or abroad. It’s important that people know where you will be and how to get in contact with you. Maybe get a calling card before you go if you don’t plan on bringing a cell phone. Or, if you have one, download apps like viber or what’s up so you can contact people at home via wifi. If nothing else, share your travel itinerary and flight information so people at home know when and where to expect you to be.

    11. Be observant and create memories!

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    Be aware of your surroundings. This won’t only help you to stay safe, but it will help you to embrace and remember every aspect of the country that you are visiting. The time there is fleeting, so be sure to enjoy it to its fullest.