New Beginnings in a Wanderlust Nation

Hello loves! Thank you so much for all the love and support you’ve given Taylor’s Titillating Travels over the years. It’s been amazing and I’ve loved sharing all my stories with you. I will still be bringing you fun little stories, but I’m broadening my horizons. Soon we will launch Wanderlust Nation, a new website-based travel blog with more videos and varying media. I enjoy sharing my personal stories, but I really want to bring the focus on to inspiring others to travel in new ways. I am very sad to let go of my slightly suggestive title, but I think Wanderlust Nation is going to capture a whole new realm of traveling. It’s going to be slow going at first, but I hope you all hang in there! I’ll leave you with a little something I wrote. For me it’s hopeful, it’s saying goodbye to one chapter and opening another.

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These Days

I keep a suitcase packed by the bed
Ready to go at a moment’s notice, passport in hand
I’m nearing thirty and I’m still a teenage runaway
But I guess they just call it leaving these days

Most days the real world stagnates around me
And I escape to far off lands
Just a little movement to keep myself from atrophy
But I guess they just call it surviving these days

You tell me jetlag is a myth
But how do you know if you never leave the zone?
You stay tethered to the still life you’ve created
But I guess they call it stability these days

I’ve missed a funeral, weddings, and a birth
I miss the late nights at The Pub, paying for our youth
Those moments that remind us of what we all have in store for us
But I guess that’s what they call reality these days

I keep my family and friends close to my heart
Yet I keep stepping out, always leaving them behind
In hopes of forgetting the one thing I’m missing
But I guess that’s what they call loneliness these days

The rhythm in my soul keeps beating
A drumming pulling me on at an invisible pace
Away from the known into the expanse of the lives I haven’t lived
But I guess that’s what they call wanderlust these days

So I’ll see you when my feet hit the ground
And be gone before you can remember my face
Leave you with the memories of girl once etched in your mind
But I guess they just call me a gypsy these days

I just want you to remember my name

 

xoxo Taylor

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Why We Worship Musicians

NOTE: This post doesn’t really have much to do with travel except they were thoughts I had while traveling with the Salty Dog Cruise. Also, musicians travel a lot. I just needed to get some ideas down.

Wikimedia/ Tomascastelazo

Wikimedia/ Tomascastelazo

Not so long ago I had an active blog on the alternative music scene. I was fortunate enough to meet quite a few musicians and artists along the way, some were fantastic people and others left a bit to be desired. At every concert and show I saw people throwing themselves at these artists that they didn’t even know and it got me wondering, why do we obsess over and adore them? They’re people just like us with good and bad personalities and habits. So what is the quality that draws us in? It certainly isn’t just charisma or fame. What sparks us initially to want to be in their presence, beyond their ability to write catchy lyrics and play their instruments well?

I believe we hold musicians in esteem for the same reason we hold generals, revolutionaries, and leaders in esteem, because they have courage. They take the negative feelings we’re all too shy, ashamed, inhibited, to admit we have as well as the positive feelings and translate then into something we can intertwine ourselves in. They provide a voice and a space where for just a few hours we can really say what we’re feeling, even if they aren’t our own words. They make all our trials, tribulations, and successes sound romantic and even cinematic. They put a sound to our lives and provide the outlet for the emotions society tells us not to share. They are the ones who are courageous enough to every day wear their hearts on their sleeves for a group of strangers. Through musical osmosis we take courage from them, courage to cry out when our emotions get the better of us, courage to stand up for what we believe in, courage to tell the world we aren’t happy with what’s going on and we want it changed, courage to remind us that we aren’t alone in how we feel, courage to dance for joy even if we aren’t very good at dancing.

So to all the musicians out there I say, thank you. Thank you for pouring your heart out to the world. We are listening and every time you hear someone singing back your lyrics please know that that’s us telling you you’re not alone. Thank you for having the courage to do what you do, to work on being a better musician, work on songs to share with us. Thank you for having the courage to follow your dreams because you do more than give us hope that we can do the same. Thank you for the trials and tribulations you’ve gone through, the countless hours spent touring, the sleepless nights, the times you were broke and hungry bringing us music. Thank you for those moments you helped is to truly be ourselves. Thank you for making a soundtrack for our souls.

 

Travel and Study Abroad: The New Degree

The college degree is the new high school diploma and yet, more and more of the youth population find themselves unemployed, savagely under employed, or not working in their field of pursuit. “The research of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/45-of-students-dont-learn_n_810224.html). So why are we still wasting our time? Mid level companies and service industries are willing to hire these educated youths because they know we’re disciplined, “educated,” and assume we’re competent. We’re drowning in debt looking for any work to pay off our student loans while continuing to live at home, living on a dream of a better life and one day affording our own space without roommates.

Ireland

Some friends and I were discussing the merits of reviving an apprenticeship system, but it got me thinking: what about a new system of education based on travel and study abroad programs? Europeans seem to have some sense of this, why not us? When I was young I spent a large amount of time traveling during the school year and learned so much more being exposed to new cultures and gaining real world experience balancing life in the air and schoolwork than I did when I was just in classes. So why couldn’t that work with higher education? It’s no mystery that the world we live in is becoming more and more globalized and interconnected. An education based on travel alone could be fantastically beneficial to many fields, though, admittedly, not all. Imagine if everything you were learning in classes was actually right in front of you. You learn basic mathematics from calculating your budget and costs of travel and exchange rates, or, if you’re ambitious, look into the economics of the country you’re staying in. You would gain understanding and exposure to various cultures and new insights to ways of doing things to work within different economic/ social/ political frameworks. Your history classes would be visiting museums and actual real-life historical sites. Your Greek life could actually be life in Greece. Your two-year language requirements would be in a foreign country learning by immersion, learning vocabulary you might actually use because when am I ever going to tell someone “the cat is under the table?” Obviously, this model is best suited to the liberal arts, but it can be expanded upon by insisting on more real-life, practical learning in all fields. Take half of the amount of student debt that is accrued in a regular undergraduate degree program, halve that, and think of how long and wonderfully one could live in another country and the exponential amount of real world experience gained from it compared to sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of other people listening to some jaded professor (or, more likely TA) drone on. Many college graduates are entering the world with knowledge and information and no idea how to apply it, but if their education was within the scope of that real world they would be much better equipped on how to apply it in numerous real world, global situations and might be better suited for working in higher level occupations.

I am a realist, but sometimes I just want to be an idealist and believe that we can make the world a better place through travel.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

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Just a reminder:

The roads are waiting to rise to meet you. The sun is circling your head, waiting to light your way. The mountains tower as a beacon for you. The rivers are rushing towards you like a long lost friend. The sea is churning with anticipations and the ground shoots up a riot of flora and fauna like confetti in celebration of your arrival.

The Truth of Becoming a Travel Writer

So, you’ve got the talent for writing, you’ve got the love of travel and adventure, but that’s not the most important element of travel writing. It has to be more than just a passion. It has to be a way of life you can live with or one you simply can’t live without.

When looking to get into travel writing you have to ask yourself, as I did with just about every profession I’ve ever considered (acting, flight attendant, teacher in the Alaskan bush), what are you willing to sacrifice? If you’re just starting out and don’t have a super high paying job with massive amounts of free time or work you can take on the road, then you’re probably going to be living on a shoe-string budget. There are bills to pay and equipment you’ll need before you even leave town. Once you’re in your destination you might be staying in hostels, which means giving up personal space, living out of a suitcase (that you can’t allow to explode all over the room), and trading in your comfy bed at home for the bits of cardboard that pass in most hostels for a bed. But you’re not just giving up the freedoms of having a place of your own. You’re exchanging your every day relationships with your friends for part-time friendships. Most travel writers tend to be gregarious people who make friends easily, so it’s not that hard to find someone to grab a drink with, but these are not people who know you inside and out and sometimes you’ll get somewhere in the middle of winter with hardly any other people in the same lodgings as you. Can you handle getting dinner or drinks alone? Odds are that you’ll be spending a large amount of time by yourself. So it’s important to know who you are and know your own mind.

Speaking of relationships, for some people the hardest adjustment deals with romantic relationships. If you’re lucky enough to have someone at home who doesn’t mind you being away all the time then you’re in great shape, but often times the men or women you meet might not take a relationship with you seriously if they know you’re not going to be around to cultivate it. Even if you find someone who is willing to do these things, there is an immense amount of work that goes into maintaining that relationship compounded on top of the work it takes to maintain a presence in the media world while traveling. Are you prepared to put forth that effort into a long distance relationship while working towards your goals?

Despite the aforementioned lack of outward glamour when you’re beginning, or for any writer who isn’t employed by a luxury travel magazine, you are trading all of those things for mountains towering overhead, awe-inspiring landscapes, beachside rides on horseback, city lights glittering in the night, new friends from every walk of life, evenings with a drink in hand listening to live music, afternoons in street side cafes, whirlwind romances, and endless adventure.

What it really boils down to:
“Would you be willing to trade all of this, from this day to that, for once chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they may never take our freedoooooom!” Wait a minute… that’s from Braveheart, but the point is the same. To rephrase, would you be willing to trade every bit of a normal life for the chance to tell the world how you lived free?

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North Connemara: Ireland’s Wild, Wild West

If you enjoy the great outdoors and adventure, North Connemara is a place you really need to go. Accessible through Galway on the West coast of Ireland, North Connemara is covered in sweeping hills, a fjord, various waterways, and bogs. The weather in this area, at least in the winter, can be a bit unpredictable. While you can have quite a lot of fun there in the winter, be prepared for snow, freezing rain, sleet, fog, gale force winds, and sunshine all in the span of an hour. They tell me the weather in summertime is a bit better.

What to do:

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Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is basically the Pacific Coast Highway of Ireland. It winds its way from Donegal in the north, down the west coast to Cork in the south. It’s goes through a wide variety of terrain in various cities and towns, besides just Connemara. Best for families and roadtrippers. It’s a good way to get a well-rounded view of Ireland. Just remember that they drive on the left side of the road.

WikiCommons/ Sarah Gallagher

WikiCommons/ Sarah Gallagher

Hike

There are so many places to hike and hillwalk all throughout the region ranging from very easy walks up hills (duh) and across boglands to more advanced ascents like the Twelve Bens, Mweelrea. A few good easy trails include Connemara Loop, Diamond Hill, Famine Trail, Cleggan Seaside, and Omey Walk.

WikiCommons/ Olaf K

WikiCommons/ Olaf K

Horseback Riding

This area is known for its hardy Connemara pony, believed to have descended from Viking horse breeds (VIKINGS), which, unlike the Vikings, have a “mannerly” disposition, makng them perfect for long rides in the Connemara terrain. For horse riding lovers this is the place to be. You will have a great horse, good for all experience levels, and the sights are unparalleled. If you happen to be the sporting type, Dartfield Equestrian Centre in Loughrea also offers an afternoon of fox hunting where you can pretend you’re an old-timey lord of the land while chasing after your hounds.

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Killary Sheep Farm

I’ve written about this place a few times before and I’m going to keep writing about it until I see that you all have been here. Book in advance on your own or take the Connemara tour with Irish Day Tours (November through March) and check out an awesome sheep dog demonstration and learn about turf cutting. If you’re feeling really brave try your hand at it. It’s not as easy as it looks.

WikiCommons/ Irish Defense Forces

WikiCommons/ Irish Defense Forces

Killary Adventure Center

For those adventurous spirits who like a little more structure you can stay at Killary Adventure Center and have a few days of planned outdoor activities with transport and everything included. They range from docile hill walking, zip lines, and kayaking to rock climbing Connemara crags and wake boarding. There really is something for everyone.

640px-Dumhach_Beach_Drow69

WikiCommons/ Drow69

Take the Ferry to Inishbofin

There are plenty of tours that will take you to the picturesque Aran Islands, but if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, try getting a ferry from Cleggan to Inishbofin instead. There you can see the sites on foot, horseback, or bike. Visit a spa for some marine themed relaxation or be adventurous and go diving in clear waters.

photo Old Monastery Hostel

photo Old Monastery Hostel

Where to Stay:

The obvious place to base yourself is Clifden or even a little farther in Galway, but I am telling you to ignore the obvious and go low-key and stay in Leenane or Letterfrack. Leenane has a lot of places to stay with easy access to the fjord, but they are only open during the high season. Letterfrack, however, is located between Clifden and Leenane and is a good midway point to everything. I would recommend staying at either the Letterfrack Lodge, which has both regular, private rooms and dorm style rooms and free breakfast, or the Old Monastery Hostel. Stephen over at the Old Monastery has made one of most adorable and interesting hostels I’ve seen. It feels like you’re walking in to a collection of open bohemian art studios. The style is bright, eclectic, and reflects small marks made by previous visitors. The common room, with its peat fire, will make you feel like sitting down to create some beautiful art work of your own. The hostel boasts a morning breakfast with fresh, homemade breads for its guests.