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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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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13 Places to Go in 2015

Cruising with Rock Stars in the Bahamas

FloggingMollyOne of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly, is taking to the seas with various punk bands (including Gogol Bordello who has the best live performance EVER) for a three day, pirate-themed St. Patrick’s Day cruise extravaganza. On the Salty Dog Cruise you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the artists and are treated to special performances and DJ sets. I don’t even know what a punk DJ set would be like, but I really want to find out.

Thailand

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Photo by William Cho

I was supposed to go to Thailand a few months back with friends, but unrest and protests broke out and I thought the better of it. In hindsight I wish I had gone. Thailand boasts amazing night bazaars, glittering beaches, astounding islands, and vast palaces. It’s also on The Blonde Abroad’s list of safest places for solo female travel.

New England in Autumn

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I live in the desert. Leaves don’t really change colors here and I never get to wear scarves. I just want to see some leaves and wear a scarf. For everyone else who actually has a change of seasons, you can take a drive up the scenic Mohawk Trail, one of the countries first official scenic drives, or engage in some outdoor activities like canoeing.

Connemara

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Inagh Valley

While staying in Dublin I took a tour over to Connemara and it was love at first sight. I don’t know if it’s because it reminds me of Seward, where I once lived (sort of), or if it’s just some sort of ancient magic, but there’s a sense of home there and interconnectedness to the land. Connemara, especially in the spring/summer months, offers a myriad of activities including, kayaking, hiking and cycling, and horseback riding. You can also take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, the ultimate road trip through the West side of Ireland.

Horseback Riding in Scotland

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I’ve always wanted to see a country on horseback and I can’t think of a better place to do this than the Scottish Highlands. Highlands Unbridled offers an Outlander ride for all my fellow lovers of the novels and most companies offer a stop at the Glenlivet distillery for lunch and tastings.

Running of the Bulls, San Fermin, Spain

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wikimedia commons/ Mortorell

Just a few weeks ago I was having lunch with my family in Chicago and my cousin looks at me and says, “Taylor, you can run, right?”
“Yes… why?” I warily replied.
“You want to do the running of the bulls?”
And that’s exactly how I was recruited into doing the Running of the Bulls in San Fermin, Spain. We threw La Tomatina in Valencia for good measure because great family vacations are running from angry beasts and large-scale food fights.

Chile

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Lago Chungara (Wikimedia Commons/David Guallini)

I’m currently watching the Dakar rally race and felt rather inspired to pick one of the countries through which this race goes. With 8,000 km of trails, I’m sure you can find plenty of hiking or cycling to occupy your time. Chile also has mummies, the famous Easter Island, skiing, a ton of National Reserves, and volcanoes. Chile really has it all, especially for you outdoorsmen.

Ur and Nineveh, Iraq

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Adad Gate at Nineveh (Fredrarch/ WikiCommons)

While in college I had to do a massive project that focused on the archaeological sites at Ur and Nineveh. Ever since then I have been dying to go and trek the cities I know so well on paper, cities that played an integral role in the urbanization of the rest of the world. More than that, I want to see these fascinating sites before they are destroyed (ISIS recently issued a threat to destroy the walls of Nineveh).

The Stampede Trail and Magic Bus in Alaska

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Like every good adventurer I am a fan of Into the Wild. It’s a bit macabre to visit the site in which this young man perished so needlessly, but I suppose if you’re going to be hiking the Stampede Trail anyway, you should probably get this one in soon or wait for the river to freeze again so you don’t get stuck on the other side of the river like Christopher McCandless. If you don’t care about the trail then go visit the replica made for the movie in Healy.

Any City Hosting an F1 race

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photo by Studebaker Hawk Photography (my dad!)

I love Formula 1 and all the cities on the list are dream spots. From Monaco to Sochi, to Budapest and Catalunya, and my favorite U.S. city, Austin. If travel were free (and I didn’t have a day job) I would be at every race.

See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Wikimedia Commons/ McKay Savage

Reykjavik isn’t just fun to say, it’s a fun place to be! Not only can you go searching for the Game of Thrones filming locations (oh goodness, now you all know how nerdy I am), but there are dozens of outdoor adventure tours on horseback, ATV and pretty much anything that moves. Let’s not forget all the Viking sites to visit.

Up Helly Aa in Scotland

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WikimediaCommons/ Mike Pennington

In a nutshell, Up Helly Aa is a festival where a bunch of Scots dress up in Viking costume (obviously I have a thing for Vikings), carry torches through the town, and light a galley on fire. This is followed by parties that last until morning during which the Jarl, who is head of the celebration, makes a stop at every one. I want to go this year since I will be so close, but I read that the parties are private so I will need a friend in Shetland first.

Oktoberfest in Munich

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photo by Andreas Steinhoff

I have been trying to make it to Oktoberfest for quite a while, but I always forget that it’s not actually in October. Who wants to go?

5 Reasons to Travel Solo

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To many, the idea of traveling alone might be a scary, panic inducing thought, but it shouldn’t be. There are many benefits to traveling solo.

1. Hindsight is Always 20/20
Sometimes you just need to get away from whatever may be troubling or stressing you and sometimes you don’t even know there’s something wrong until you’ve removed yourself from your own cloud. Whatever it may be there’s no better cure than to forget your troubles for a while and, when you’re ready, take a minute to think on life and what changes need to be made. When you return you’ll be relaxed and clear-headed in your course of direction.

2. The Clock Ticks Only for You
Don’t want to visit that thousandth church while touring Italy? Want to spend three days laying on the beach reading? You can. You don’t have to compromise with anyone but yourself. Everything you want to do and see are open to you at your own pace.

3. Freedom of Thought
My favorite part of traveling alone is that I have time to think whatever I want without the intrusions of society telling me their opinions. You can think and believe whatever you want to. You can convince yourself wholeheartedly that unicorns exist if you so choose. Allow your mind to wander along with your feet and create some new convictions.

4. Go Incognito
Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Here’s your chance to be that person. No one knows you where you’re going so why not be that ethereal, nomadic hippy or a secretive, sunglasses-toting Hollywood star? You may just discover something about yourself.

5. Character Building
Traveling solo forces you to be more responsible, aware of your surroundings, and manage your time, skills that are probably useful in your normal life.

A Traveler’s Dream Christmas List

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat thanks to gluehwein and cookies! While Christmas is really the time for family and being of good cheer, let’s be honest, you’re probably going to buy presents for someone (and going to totally double up for those with birthdays nearby, right? RIGHT?). So I’ve compiled a list of great gifts for the traveler in your family or circle of friends.

The Fashionable Traveler

Travel Scarf

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Not only is this scarf adorable and will keep a traveler warm in cold locations (like a plane), but it also has a secret pocket to hide your passport in! No one will think to rob a scarf.

Map Shoes

Map Shoes

The lady wearing these Jeffery Campbells can clunk around with a map on her feet. If she gets lost all she has to do is look down. Ok, maybe not, but at least she’ll look cute while lost.

Jewelry

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Most ladies like jewelry so why not get her some jewelry related to her favorite pastime? (Adventure AwaitsAdventure is Calling)

The Savvy Boozehound

Let’s be honest, drinking in many countries and large cities is expensive. So, here’s a few gifts for the party traveler amongst you.

Flask

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There are a myriad of fun flasks out there, but few that incorporate travel. If you’re drinking from a flask people are probably going to assume you’re an American, so proudly confirm their suspicions with this.

Collapsible Wine Bottle

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Have you ever been moseying about the beautiful countryside, and thought, This would be a beautiful place for a picnic with some wine and cheese. If only I had a collapsible wine bottle so I didn’t have to lug all that glass around. Just me? Either way, this is a great alternative way to transport wine/liquor. Never miss out on that wine infused picnic again!

The Photographer/ Travel Blogger/ Videographer etc.

Carrying around a a heavy camera bag gets really tiresome and identifies you as a tourist almost as quickly as wearing that camera around your neck and sporting a Hawaiian shirt. For the budding and pro camera jockey look no further than these:

Camera Backpack

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This will keep your precious traveler from getting a hunchback and keep their equipment dry. And look! There’s a place for your tripod and tablet too!

Camera Purse

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Because some of us just want to look cute and fashionable while shooting photos.

The Fitness Enthusiast

Ear Buds and Armband

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Running in a new city is a great way to see the sights and stay in shape, but wires flap around annoyingly. End the wire flapping! I like this one by FreePeople, but I’m sure there are plenty, less expensive and equally cute ones.

The Wanderlusters

Bag Tag

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It has a J. R. R. Tolkien quote. Need I say more?

Convertible Clothing

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Encircle runs a bit pricey, but this cardi will take your travel lady from drab to fab, from cold plane to fun and games. It also is great from those who like to travel light but still look cute.

 

So there you have it. What are some travel items you’re lusting after this holiday season? Share in the comments below!

That Time I Woke Up in the Italian Alps

As any airline employee who has spent a large amount of time traveling standby knows, it can sometimes be very difficult to get to/from a destination. Sometimes you get bumped off a flight and have to take the next one. However, on rare occasions, you end up getting stuck for days, even weeks on end, traversing to wherever you can, no matter how far out of the way it may be, just to get home. Such is the story of the time I woke up in the Italian Alps.

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One particular day my brother and I were traveling to Rome to attend a ceremony held at St. Peter’s Basilica in honor of our parent’s 40th wedding anniversary (My parents are kind of awesome). All the signs that this was not going to be an easy trip were there, but we put on our best faces and busted out our problem solving skills and after considering a million options (like going to Venice and having an adventure taking a train down to Rome) we finally forced the universe to send us to Rome a day late. We couldn’t have been happier just to be heading to Rome. The whole trip was lovely (well, other than having my bank account drained by some a-hole in Vegas, my uncle getting robbed by kids, and a super douchey taxi driver), but really… it was wonderful. Getting home was another story.

IMG_8302 Remember that adventure I said my brother and I were going to have (the Venice to Rome train ride)? Well, we sure got it, just not at all how we expected. The day we were supposed to leave was a super lucky day (or so we thought). We made it on the plane and had a two-seat row to ourselves. We were feeling like rock stars. Then, after a four hour mechanical delay (in which the crew worked remarkably to get it fixed), the pilot got on the PA and informed us we were cancelled. We weren’t feeling so rockstar-ish anymore. So we took our unfortunate circumstance and went to the hotel to sleep it off and enjoy one more day with our extended family still at the hotel. Back to the airport and disaster struck! Another cancelled flight and every single flight out of Rome to anywhere was overbooked well into the following week. Rome was declared a dead zone for us.

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Somewhere in the course of trying to escape a proverbially burning Rome we found my cousin (promptly lost her to some Italian waiters), made friends with another FA and her daughter, and a gate agent. Together we were a force to be reckoned with, holding all the tools and creativity to get us out of there we pieced off my cousin to Amsterdam, and the gate agent to Alitalia. Then there were 4 and we were a solid team of herded cats. Honestly, it felt like we all had super powers, each working tirelessly to piece together a solution. After engaging our super powers, racking up a giant phone bill, connecting to gypsy internet, much fighting and negotiating with the less than pleasant Romans (worse than what your friend told you about the Parisians) and many hours later myself, my bro, and our two new friends were jumping on train bound for Munich in a situation that quickly felt like family.  NOTE: For the ease of the rest of this story and to protect their identities I will call them Sorella, the Italian word for sister, and Mama Bear, because she was our fearless leader who has actually fought a bear in her house once (you think I am making this up, I’m glad I’m not). Completely exhausted in every way we all fell asleep in our sleeper cabin, happy in a strange way just to be moving towards some sort of exit.

_MG_8502edit Waking the next morning was so surreal and unbelievable. Raising the window shades we could see that we had actually woken up in the heavenly Italian Alps (not France like we had somewhat expected… it’s happened to me before). Never in a million years would we have thought that we would be waking up in a train sleeper cabin with two people who, just a few hours ago, were complete strangers and staring out at the most magnificent mountain landscape we had ever seen. All I could think was, how the hell did I get here with these people!? I don’t know why I was so amused, that happens to me a lot, actually.

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We had become so close in our trial and sleep that we decided I would, of course, be in Sorella’s wedding and have Christmas dinner with Mama Bear’s family. However, we didn’t know that we were going to be having all of these events in Italy. We had to change trains in this German-Italian mountain town on the border called Bolzano. It was the most beautiful winter story-book town I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating breakfast in (maybe even better than Chateau-deoux, Switzerland). Can you guess what made it even better? CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS! They make EVERYTHING awesome. They even had a chocolate Krampus, the demon to whom Santa feeds bad children. There was also a phantom sausage, potatato, and onion smell wafting from some shop we couldn’t find, just taunting our hungry bellies. Should I return I will find this sausage-potato-onion phantom and devour it!

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Piling into our new Deutch Bahn cabin we made a new Italian friend who also doubled as a European who actually lives in Europe for Sorella to marry so we can have the aforementioned wedding in Bolzano. The scenery the entire way (including the attractive Italian) was spectacular. We passed through Austria and the German countryside with gliding ease and lithe conversation. The whole train ride was probably the smoothest part of our entire journey.

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Our arrival in Munich brought on a whole other slew of troubles, which we simply quelled with beer. I mean, what the hell else are we going to do? We finally arrived at our hotel only to find our reservation had been incorrectly booked and would now cost twice what we expected (Remember how my credit card got ransacked? Yeah, no money on my end except the few Euros I still had). Thankfully the beautiful receptionists took pity on us and allowed us to stay at our usual rate. So, we celebrated with much beer and a warm, meaty meal at the Hofbrau Haus, followed by more beer and local friends at Schneider Weiss. Let me tell you, beer solves all your problems… almost.

IMG_4430 The final adventure was to get home and I had to separate earlier than expected from my group of weary travelers and navigate the trains alone. I left them perfect instructions for getting to the airport, but did I also save those instructions for myself? No. That is a preposterous idea! I have navigated the DB before and I can do it again! Or, I can just show up at the train station, ticketless, and hop on the train marked Flughafen and pray to God that no one realizes that I bought the wrong train ticket.

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In the end, we all made it to the airport, caught our flights, and landed safely in our respective homes. It was a strange and wonderful journey. I would like to offer a special thank you to my family and all the wonderful people I met along the way.

Our Family Crest