live free.

Celebrate your freedom by using your passport this year

America.

Land of the free, home of the brave.

I don’t think I need to explain to anybody reading this post about what freedom means to Americans, frankly it's difficult to talk about without cutting deep, but I hope to raise awareness about one freedom in particular that should be celebrated more often.

No, I’m not a gun lobbyist and no I don’t have a political agenda here, I'm talking about your passport. And since research suggests that only 35% of Americans over 18 currently have a valid passport, that means the vast majority of citizens DON'T have one! If you haven’t been sold yet on just how valuable this little blue book is please allow me the pleasure of breaking this down for you. An American passport is the 4th strongest passport in the world behind only Germany, Sweden, and a three-way tie between Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the UK. We are allowed to travel freely to 174 out of the 218 countries of the world, 160 of which can be visited without a visa. If life was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this would be your golden ticket! OK maybe now is not the best time in your life for a vacation, but seriously you can go anywhere you want, whenever you want, and all you need to do is buy a plane ticket. That may not seem like a revelation to you but it is a luxury that many people around the world wish they had. Which reminds me of a man we met outside of a restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.

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How my husband convinced me to travel the world

By the title of this article, you’d think I had no interest in traveling the world prior to my husband “talking me into it.” Actually, it was something I’ve always dreamed of doing but just didn’t seem realistic. We had just gotten back from our honeymoon, a once-in-a-lifetime-trip to South Africa, and were settling back into “real life” after a month away from our jobs. At the time, we both had stable careers which provided great income, we had a house, two dogs, and the life that most girls dreamed of. And although my husband’s “big idea” was fun to talk about, to be honest it scared the shit out of me. How could we leave all this behind and throw away what we’ve worked so hard for? How would I explain this to my family?

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five reasons why you should use a private tour guide.

Five reasons why you should use a private tour guide

I’ll be the first to admit, we used to be the type of people that “didn’t need” a tour guide.

We believed this to be a waste of money and preferred to move at our own pace without being stuck to a third wheel for several hours. This all changed when we met Eduardo in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Eduardo is a local guide who had been providing volcano and jungle tours in the area for more then twenty years. He just so happened to be setting-up shop in front of a restaurant that we had chosen for the evening and he had such a friendly and warm demeanor that it was impossible not to engage him in conversation on the way out. After a twenty-minute conversation, and some negotiating back and fourth, we had agreed on a six-hour tour the following morning. The plan was to meet at 7:00 AM for coffee; we would be driving in our rental car and he would direct us where to go. The itinerary was to hike the Arenal volcano in the morning, visit the hanging bridges park, take a dip in the natural hot river, and then finish the day with a typical lunch at his favorite local spot. We saw more and learned more about the area in that one day than we would have in a week on our own, and all for under $100. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Here’s our top 5 reasons on why you should choose a tour guide on your next jungle adventure.

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Powering down

Last night we had our first meet n’ greet with the rainy season here in Costa Rica.

 

Last time we visited we were in the midst of rainy season but we barely saw a few raindrops.  Let’s just say we thought our monkey-friends were tap dancing on our roof trying to bring down Casa de Stan!

We lost our power for three, twenty-minute spurts, just long enough to spoil our refrigerated goods.  Long enough to cut off the cool breeze we had going on.  Long enough to make us start profusely sweating through our clothes.  That was just an experience well, we needed to experience.  What we didn’t want to experience was not being prepared for the total darkness, hello we live in the rainforest!

Scattering to find a candle to light (without a scent of course, since they attract mosquitos!) was like a game of Marco Polo.  Even though we were both working on our computers, watching Netflix and cooking food, we didn’t let the lack of electricity get to us.  There was nothing we could do about it anyway so why freak out over nothing.

We did have our first #reallycostarica moment but hey, we laughed it off and filed under #nothingwecandoaboutit.

We spent the blackout talking. We spent it laughing about the bugs that could be crawling on us.  We spent it doing things we wouldn’t normally be doing at night.

What did we learn from this experience?  When life hands you obstacles that you can’t control, take that time to laugh it off and reflect on the good.  Oh, and to keep candles on deck at all times.

 

 

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The reality of couple traveling

Many of us have done it.  Gone on a trip with someone you are head-over-heels in lust with and POW, like someone kicked you in the back of the neck with a spiked shoe, the trip turned your too-good-to-be-true partnership into a wash.  Why?

Traveling is indeed a stressful situation.  Putting yourself and your vulnerability out there with someone who is doing the same makes it double hard.  Emotions run rapid and your inner Ursula makes an appearance when you least expect it.  There ya have it folks, a nightmare waiting to happen.

But, let me tell you that there are some incredible relationship-building and memories that come along with traveling with your partner, not to mention many other ways to make your relationships stronger.  We’ve gone through all of the ups and downs and these are a few awesome realities we came across!

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Bye Bye 9-5

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Some of us absolutely love our jobs.  We wake up, grab a cup of joe and excitedly head into work.  I was one of those people.  Once I finished the grueling years of higher education, I found myself changing jobs from the financial world in to the world of teaching English. I loved working.  I love my students and their eagerness to learn the language.  I loved their stories, accents, and culture they brought into the classroom.  I also loved my 8-3 teaching hours.

But some people don’t feel that same excitement heading to work every day.  My husband.  He didn’t hate his job; it would just take more daily self-awareness to find things that he could get excited about – he was great at his job, well-respected by his peers, yet he still had to peel himself out of bed in the morning for his 65+ hours of work a week (and 10+ hours answering calls and emails.)  In a nutshell, my new husband was stressed all the time and had close-to-no real time of his own.  He felt owned by his job.

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