Tales of a Subaru

It is with a heavy heart I write this. On July 4, 2020, I drove my 2012 Subaru Forester for the last time. I know it’s just a car, but as I was cleaning out my personal belongings and sat in the driver’s seat for the last time, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my best friend. So, in memory of my faithful companion, I wanted to reminisce about all the good times we’ve had over the last 8 years.

After graduating college, I couldn’t wait to buy a new car – something with all-wheel-drive, so I no longer had to put chains on or worry about how I was going to make it up the hill by my house after a snowstorm. I did my online research and decided to test drive the Subaru Forester. It was pretty much love at first sight. The price was right, so I bought the car brand new. She had the AWD to handle the snow and enough room to load up my friends and gear for whatever adventure we were headed to next – and that’s exactly what she did for the next 8 years.

The beginning was a little rough. In the first month, a rock cracked my windshield, and in the first 3 months, I was rear-ended on the freeway (only minor damage). After that, it was smooth sailing. A few minor scratches here and there, another cracked windshield, front axels replaced, but other than that she held her own. I did always have to add oil to the car, but that is a known Subaru thing.

While the Subaru had seatbelts for five, it wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable ride for five adults. Yet for some reason, there were always six of us who needed a ride. So, someone would have to crawl in the back. Some of my favorite stories are when we were driving to a Tough Mudder at Northstar and we went through the Ag Check station at the California/Nevada state line. We threw a blanket over the person in the back, and I felt like I was smuggling in an illegal immigrant. Or the time we went hot springing in Mammoth. While we had taken multiple cars to Mammoth we wanted to carpool to the Hot Spring, so everyone piled into the Subaru. To get to the hot springs you have to go a little bit off-road. I did not inch my way down the road, and I could see the person in the back fly up as I went over a bump. They had the biggest smile on their face as did all of us.

The longest road trip I took with my car was from Reno -> Kennewick, Washington. The biggest city we saw that entire drive was Reno. I had my good friend Wilma with me and on the way up we broke up the drive into two days and spend the night at a campground near Pendleton, OR.

My friends and I had permits to hike Half Dome, and my boyfriend had a court date the following day for not wearing a life jacket on a paddleboard. Because of this, we had to take three cars so my boyfriend could take my car back a day early and drive from Yosemite to Yerington, Nevada to appear in court. The funny thing about that trip was all three cars were Subarus. We said we were basically a living Subaru ad. Oh, in case you were wondering, my boyfriend won his court case for not having a life jacket on a paddleboard.

Many times, has my car made the drive to Pyramid Lake for our annual Slip N Slide camping trip. Through the sand, down some washed out roads often with a keg, BBQ and all my camping gear in the back. She almost got stuck once. I think it took a few back and forth rocks, but then we gunned it and out of the sand she went. One trip the wind was so ferocious it broke my tent and almost blew my paddleboard into the lake; the next year we decided to sleep in the Subaru.

Then there’s the snow. She was a dream in the snow. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable driving that car through some of the worst snow storms. I’ll never forget the first time I approached Cal Trans in my Subaru on a snowy day and they just waved me through. I was so excited and might have started laughing, “Ha Ha!” to the poor souls on the side of the road that were having to chain up. Countless times we’d load the skis up top, load the car with people and head to the resort for an epic powder day. This last winter I was driving back to Reno after Thanksgiving when I hit a major unexpected snowstorm. It was slow going along Hwy 20 to I-80, but she did great. Subarus are known for their fantastic handling in the snow, and I can attest to this. But once I hit I-80 traffic was stopped. Turns out they had closed the road due to multiple spin-outs. I spent the next 6 hours bonding with my car stopped on the freeway. I called friends and family, watched some movies, ate a leftover Thanksgiving meal and had just made myself a nice little bed in the back seat to sleep when traffic started up again.

Listening to music was our other favorite pastime. I started with a small USB with all my music on it and eventually upgraded to an iPhone and Spotify. Over the years I had the stereo upgraded and the speakers. So not only were we cruising in style, but we had bumping tunes to go with it.

Besides getting me to and from work every day, the little Subie and I went on numerous ski trips, trips to Lake Tahoe, trips to see family in California, desert adventures, camping trips, hikes, tailgating at Nevada Football games, you name it. Just scrolling through the photos on my phone I can see pictures of smiling faces or gorgeous vistas and my Subaru got me there in probably 80% of them because the other 20% were fly destinations. She was always there for me no matter what kind of adventure I had planned, and it was always a good time. The Subie also sat in my parent’s driveway for a few months while I was in New Zealand patiently waiting for me to get back, and then again when I went to Europe. When I first bought the car, the salesman said he calls the Subaru Forester a Billie Goat because it’s tough and can pretty much handle anything – he was right.

In the end, yes, a car is just a car. She got me from point A to point B, and the fond memories I have were created because of the people. But it was still the first new car I ever purchased on my own, and it was a great car. I know I will have just as much fun and amazing memories in whatever my next vehicle of choice is – but I will never forget my first Subaru.

Thank you if you read the whole thing, and if you’re in the market for a new car I can’t recommend the Subaru Forester enough. Yeah, it’s not going to be to the fastest car up the mountain, but otherwise, it was everything I could have wanted out of a car and more.

In Loving Memory of Billie Goat, the Subaru Forester – May 28, 2012 – July 4, 2020

Bleisure Trip: Nashville

Nashville aka Music City. We all know it. Home of Country Music and Honky Tonk, so I was super excited when I found out the Hotel Data Conference hosted by STR is held every summer in Nashville. Nashville is now one of the most popular destinations for bachelorette parties. Trust me you will see them everywhere wearing their matching outfits and dancing on one of the party trucks that drive around the city blasting music. But outside of bachelorette parties, Nashville is becoming increasingly party for business trips, conferences and large events. While at the Hotel Data Conference, they shared the number of new hotels being built in Nashville. Basically, no matter what direction you stay you look you will see some sort of construction and it was primarily hotels. Rumor has it Nashville isn’t building all of these hotel rooms for the bachelorette parties, but that they might be making a bid on the Superbowl. Anyway, enough of my boring hotel stats. Let’s get to the good stuff.

So, we all know when at a conference the time you have away from the conference is limited, that is partially the reason why I chose to extend my stay through the weekend, so I could see more of Nashville, but I didn’t manage some exploring mid-week. In this blog I will cover the basics – where to stay, where to eat and what to do. Plus, some tips and tricks I picked up on while there. Ready y’all?!

Where to Stay

The moment you arrive in Nashville you’ll see that the city is under some serious construction, and most of that construction is hotels. I stayed at the brand new JW Marriott. If you don’t mind the hefty price tag then this hotel is the place to be. The rooms are massive, very modern yet classic. The bathroom is large, well-lit and the robe is a nice added touch. This was my first time using my phone as a hotel key, and it’s pretty game-changing. My phone case has a magnet in it, so I’m always having to keep my hotel keys far away from my phone, but with the latest technology, my phone is my hotel key. The restaurant/bar on the top floor is a must. I went up for Happy Hour where the drinks were around $8 instead of their normal $12+, but really you’re paying for the view. As one of the tallest buildings in Nashville, you get a pretty expansive view of the area. Which means you can really see how much construction is going on in the area.

I did extend my stay through the weekend, but my personal wallet didn’t want to foot the bill and continuing staying at the JW Marriott, so I packed my bags and moved away from Broadway and onto Music Row into a cute lil Airbnb. The place was perfect for me. I had a bed, a bath, a tiny kitchen and a huge epic patio. It wasn’t really near by any food places, but Nashville is full of scooters (more on that later) and Rideshare drivers are a plenty. I was within walking distance of Vanderbilt University, and liked the feeling of living like the locals do.

Nashville Rooftop Bar

Where to Eat

You’re in Nashville – this is important. Lucky for me, the conference I was at had provided all attendees with a one sheet that listed all their favorite places to eat, drink and be merry. So between that and Yelp, I don’t think I had a single bad meal in Nashville.

Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken is a Nashville staple. There is the original Hattie B’s, but it was a little far away for what I was up to, so I decided to check out Music City Chicken Company just off Broadway. It was delish! And yes, it was hot.

Hot Chicken

Rolf and Daughters

I had read a lot about Germantown before making the trip to Nashville. It was a cool, hip place with great food and a way to escape Broadway. While my journey there is a story on its own, it lead me to Rolf’s Daughters where again, the food was delicious. It is a tapas style restaurant and my bill at the end of the night was about double what I spent on Hot Chicken, but it was totally worth it. I’m still dreaming of the creamed corn pasta.

Milk & Honey

The Gulch is another trendy part of town in Nashville. Lots of cute instagramable shops and murals. I was meeting a group here and showed up early to get breakfast at Milk and Honey. This place is popular. Since I was on my own, I was able to snag a bar seat without waiting. The food was dang good too, so I can see why it’s popular. If you’re coming here with a group (like a bachelorette party – I saw a ton of those at breakfast) then you might have to wait for a bit.

Milk and Honey


On the one sheet the conference folks had given me, they listed Bakersfield as some of the best tacos in the city. As a fan of tacos, I decided to check it out. Yes, this place has some pretty good tacos and quite a variety too. Coming from the West Coast I’m always surprised (but thrilled) when I’m able to find good tacos away from home.

What to Do

Gosh, there is a lot to do in Nashville. I didn’t make it to the Grand Ole’ Oprey, or Andrew Jackson’s Estate, or the Jack Daniels Distillery. Instead, I attended Music on the Green, went to a preseason Titans game, and went on a couple of self guided mural tours as well as just walking around exploring the city. Saturday was my only true free day to explore, so I packed in what I could (the pros and cons of a bleisure trip).

Music on the Green was fantastic. It’s a free weekly event that takes place every THURSDAY evening in Nashville. I happened to be there opening night and the opener was Gary Davis Jr. They don’t call this place the Music City for nothin’.

As I was making my way to Germantown via scooter (not recommened), I passed by their AAA baseball stadium. I thought it would be fun to catch a game and they were playing on Saturday. But so were the Titans. I made the executive decision to attend my first NFL game (even if it was pre-season). Nashville also has a local hockey team, and I definitely recommend checking out a local sporting event while in town.

I also participated in an Airbnb experience. It was a photo based Gulch tour. The guide/photographer Abbey was great. She took us to some fun spots in the Gulch, gave us a brief history, some tips for the area, and we got some fun photos out of it. The tour is called Photo Walk Gulch on Airbnb and Instagram.

Mural in Nashville

If you like live music you can’t go wrong in Nashville. Everywhere you go there is music playing. It’s pretty crazy on Broadway because you’ll have these giant 4 story bars and there will be a different band on each level. Also, this place is crawling with bachelorette parties. They like to rent the party buses and drive around the city playing their music, dancing and just having a good time.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Nashville. It was a fun place for a solo female traveler on a bleisure trip, but I would definitely like to go with a friend or two next time around.

Until next time….



5 Tips for Night in the Country

The tagline – Pure Country. Pure Farmland. Pure Nevada. So, what is Night in the Country? It’s a 3-day country music festival that takes place in the tiny desert farming town Yerington, Nevada.  If you like country music, camping with your besties, and making new friends over a cold one and a game of corn hole, then Night in the Country is the festival for you. Last year was my first year. I convinced my Mom and Dad to join me, and I met up with some friends who are seasoned pros and we had a rockin’ good time. Luckily, my friend gave me some good pointers before heading out there, so I’m here to pass on the favor. Here are 5 tips perfect for the newbie heading out to Night in the Country (NITC).  

Prepare for Sun  

All the shade is Bring Your Own. That Nevada sun can be brutal, so make sure you bring enough water and shade to help keep you cool during those long days. You will see trailers running their generators to pump the A.C. or people hanging out in those above ground pools to cool off. And not only is the desert hot, but it’s dusty. Not quite as bad as Burning Man though since this festival takes place on a hay field. But you will still want closed-toe, sturdy shoes to protect your feet from any sharp hay and to help keep them clean. Boots and shorts are the popular outfit choice out there. And since you’ll be spending all day out in the sun playing games and getting rid of that hangover, you’ll want to bring plenty of sunscreen.  

The good thing about the Nevada desert is the temperature does cool down at night. I’d recommend bringing a light jacket. Last year it poured rain Thursday and Friday and morning which made for a cool Friday night.  

Party All Night 

Night in the Country is a party. People are there to have a good time and listen to good music. They are loud, things can get a little rowdy, but it’s all a good time. So just embrace the madness and have a little fun. If you do want to be away from the party-goers, there are Quiet Zone campsites you can book, but I wouldn’t expect complete silence out there. The hardcore campers will be playing their music till 4 a.m along with the Full Moon Saloon. So, I recommend some earplugs and a couple of drinks to put you right to bed.  

Clear Bags Only  

NITC takes places on the fairgrounds in Yerington, NV. In 2019, General Admission was updated, and the whole outdoor area is now grass. I’m not sure what it looked like before, but after talking to some friends that had been there in the past, they all said it was a huge upgrade. The venue is set up like an outdoor arena. VIP passes get you closer to the stage, but they have huge screens if you want to see the performers up close. The acoustics were great, and really, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. You can bring chairs or blankets to sit on in the grass, or there is a gravel area off the side which is for sitting. But you can just stand, walk around and dance during the show too. Similar to all shows now, the only bags allowed inside are clear. Also, if you want to purchase drinks inside you must have already purchased drink tokens. It’s supposed to make the line move faster.  

Don’t Forget Your Boots 

If you are wondering what to wear to Night in the Country, I recommend checking out their Instagram. During the day, you can find most people in swimsuits and beach-like attire hanging out in large blow-up pools to escape the heat. For the show, the girls put on their cutest daisy dukes or dress. As for the guys, well you’re looking at fitting jeans or shorts – it’s hot. But the number one thing you can’t forget are your boots. First, it’s dirty in the camping area, so the boots help keep your feet clean, and the camping area is a cut-down hay field, so the boots help from any sharp hay pieces going through your shoes. Do like farmers do and don’t forget your boots.  

Remember to Have Fun  

This tip is a given. Night in the Country is a lot of fun. It’s a great place to meet new people and the best part is you already know you have a few things in common. It’s a great place to step outside your comfort zone and let loose a little. So, kick back and enjoy the music.  

Have you been to Night in the Country before? If so, leave me a comment with your best tip for the first-timers! See you in July 2020!  

Until next time… 



Pyramid Lake

Located about 45 minutes northeast of Reno is Pyramid Lake. This lake is on tribal land and it the terminus point of the Truckee River which starts in Lake Tahoe. The drive out there is desolate and barren, that is until you reach the top of a hill and get a catch of the turquoise lake – she really is a desert oasis. Whether you are a Northern Nevada local, or visiting the area, if times allows, make the trip out to Pyramid Lake. And I’ve created this guide for you so you know what to expect and tips to ensure you have the greatest time.

Don’t Forget Your Permit

Like I said, Pyramid Lake is on tribal land, and they have instituted a permit system. Not only do you need a permit for day use or to camp, but you would need separate permits if you want to launch a watercraft, fireworks or fish. Also, a regular state fishing license is not required at Pyramid, just the permit. Fireworks are usually purchased in nearby Nixon around. The 4th of July, but you will see people launching them all summer. The easiest place to acquire a permit is online, but you can also pick one up at the Visitor Center in Sutcliffe or at Crosby’s Lodge.

Home the Lahontan Trout

In the summer time Pyramid is known for boating, camping, your usual summer shenanigans. The rest of the time the lake is known for its world class fishing. Stop by Crosby’s Lodge and see pictures of the trophies people have pulled out of the lake. I also recommend stopping by the Reno Fly Shop. Talk to an expert and get tips on bait, and they might even recommend a few beaches to you. Speaking of beaches.

Where to Go

Visitors are only allowed on the west side of the lake, and check this lake out on a map because it is gigantic. They do have some designated beaches with pavement for cars and trailers, but the beauty of Pyramid is the ability to pick a dirt road and choose your own beach. Besides the pavement areas there are no designated campsites. While 4-wheel drive isn’t required, it is recommended. If you stay up top or on the hard packed dirt road, you’ll be okay. It’s when you want to bring your car right on the beach that it starts to get a little soft. Interesting fact – AAA cannot come out to the reservation. So if you get stuck you’ll have to call the tribal tow service.

The Natural Elements

Pyramid Lake is in the middle of the desert. There is no sugarcoating that. And the services are extremely limited. If you’re lucky, you’ll pick a beach that has a porta-potty. So prepare yourself for hash elements. Bring lots of shade to protect yourself from the sun, and bring heavy duty stakes for the ferocious winds. I have been going out the Pyramid for almost 10 years now, and we always experience some kind of wind. It usually takes place around sunset, but this last year the mornings were windy and the afternoons calm. The desert is also known for unexpected rain storms. If you are in a trailer or coming out for the day you won’t have a problem, but my friends and I go out there in tents, and we have to prepare for everything. The wind can be destructive. Also, if you don’t have a trailer, prepare yourself in case you have to go to the bathroom. You might have picked a location that doesn’t have a porta-potty, so you and your group of friends can designate a couple of bushes away from camp. There are no water services, so make sure you bring enough water, food and supply for the time you’ll be there.

Have Fun

This is the most important. Yes, the desert can be a little harsh sometimes, but that’s part of the adventure. Enjoy the lake, enjoy the warm sunshine and enjoy being with friends and family. My friends and I started a tradition of going out to Pyramid every July, and it’s been going on for about nine years now. It started with maybe a group of 8. We brought a keg, but forgot the tub to keep it on ice and had to dig a hole, lay tarp and put the ice on the tarp, then bury the keg. We also forgot a shade tent and had to string a tarp between two cars. We were 21. And now nine years later we’ve had as many as 25 people join us and have constructed a water slide the last 6 or so years (and that has seen significant improvement over the years too). It’s just been a lot of fun hanging out in the desert with your friends. Just check out my video and see for youself! 

Have you been out to Pyramid Lake before? What was your experience like? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…



About Me – Part II

Hi there! So, I thought it was time to fill you in about my blog and what you can expect from me going forward. Don’t worry, you will still be able to find great content related to adventure and travel. Besides skiing, climbing Half Dome and riding motorcycles around Thailand, I work full-time at the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and am currently pursuing my MBA at the University of Nevada, Reno. For those who aren’t familiar with Convention and Visitor Authorities, I promote overnight visitation to Washoe County. This includes Reno, Sparks and a portion of North Lake Tahoe. I love what I do. I fell in love with the area 9 years ago when I moved here, and it brings me joy to tell people how awesome the destination is and why they should come for a visit!

I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Marketing from the University of Nevada, Reno back in 2011. To be frank, the University is why I am here. I had such a great experience as an undergrad and met most of the friends I am still very close with today. So, when I decided I wanted to go back to school to pursue a Master’s it was a no brainer that I would choose Nevada. The MBA program is a commitment, and it does take up quite a bit of my free time, but I’m almost halfway done, and the education has been exceptional. One of my classes last semester was all about Personal Branding, and this is where the blog comes into play.

Adventures and Life with Keelie was originally created back in 2013. You can see the first blog I shared was about a car I rented while in Costa Rica (that thing was a beast). After a couple of posts, it sat stagnant for years until I decided to leave my job in finance and travel the world. Then I started blogging again, mostly to keep my family informed of my adventures, but it became a fun way to keep a record of my travel. After I returned from my time abroad, I continued to blog periodically, but this time I had the reader in mind. What about my adventures would they find particularly interesting? I went back to work full-time again, and the blog was put on the back burner. That is until I signed up for my Personal Branding class. It had been a goal of mine to revamp my blog and get it going again, and that is exactly what happened last January. The trade-off? I wasn’t able to go on as many adventures. Luckily, I had a bank of travels to pull from. So, for about 6 months I blogged multiple times a week, and you can probably tell the class ended because so did the blogs.

Now, there is no way I can blog to the extent I have been for the last 6 months. I still work full time, and I’m getting ready to start my new set of classes at the end of the month. However, I don’t want to abandon my blog like I’ve done in the past. You guys deserve better than that. I’ve decided to set a goal to blog a minimum one time a month. This should leave room for work, school, my health and wellness, and any adventures I have planned in the future. So, you can continue to expect new and exciting content from me, just less frequently. That being said, you can find me on social for all up to date content. Instagram is probably your best bet, but Twitter and YouTube are also valid.

Now for the fun part. It’s been a fun and exciting summer, and it’s not quite over yet. Keep an eye out for some all-you-need-to-know guides on camping out in the Nevada desert and another about my upcoming blesiure trip to Nashville! Stay tuned!

Until next time…



San Francisco Pride – The Exhibitor’s Guide

This is a tale of a wild, colorful and exhausting weekend told from the perspective of an exhibitor at San Francisco Pride (that’s me!). While my experience as an exhibitor was a little bit different from the regular Pride-Goer (mostly because I was contained to my booth for most of the event), I can still offer insightful tips and interesting stories that anyone looking to attend this event will find helpful. I really wish I had more photos to share with you, but I was busy working. (Wink Wink). So, let’s get started.

The Night Before

We arrived in San Francisco the evening before Pride. My car was loaded to the max full of swag and various items needed for the booth. The drive from Reno was pretty smooth until we hit the Bay Bridge – then it was bumper to bumper traffic until we reached our hotel. We were staying at the Hotel Zepplin. It was located near Union Square and about a mile from the Civic Center. We knew traffic and parking in San Francisco would be horrendous, so we picked a hotel nearish to the event. This hotel also had some self-serve parking nearby. $35/night or with no in and out privileges. San Francisco is not cheap. While the area around our hotel was decent, the area between our hotel and the Civic Center is called the Tenderloin. It’s got a bad rap, and in my opinion, it’s valid. I know every city has its own problem with homeless and vagrants, but San Francisco is known as the Poop Capital of the US for a reason.

Day One

The event registration packet says you can bring your car to your booth between 6-9am. All vehicles must vacate the premise by 9am. We decided in to invest in a nice little haul wagon and hand cart, load up our stuff and walk to the event. This way we could “sleep in” and take our time in the morning. The haul wagon worked better than I expected. You can use it for events, beach days, sports gear you name. I got mine from Costco. We were loaded up, dressed in our locally designed Pride Shirts and ready for a day of fun. Our first 25-minute walk was a doosey. We walked through the heart of the Tenderloin, and it was an eye-opening experience. It was a pretty gruesome scene to describe, but imagine people sleeping on the sidewalk in their own filth. Also, we witnessed a man creating chaos on the street and a police officer had to use his baton. Some guys started to heckle us as we crossed the street and even pointed a squirt gun at us saying he was harmless. It was uncomfortable. Luckily, once we made it into the event all was good.

The event was scheduled to start at noon on Saturday. We arrived at our booth around 10 and had a strong of people lined up by 10 am. We even had some people come by before we were fully set up. I want to keep this blog about the event, so I won’t go into too much booth detail. However, there are a lot of them. Everyone, Equality California, Red Bull, Smirnoff, there were loads of sponsors and exhibitors everywhere. You’ll need an empty backpack if you plan to go around to each both collecting free swag.

It’s basically a day of partying. Eat, drink and be merry. While the event closes at 6 pm, the party doesn’t stop there. Everyone then heads to the Castro for a long night of more eating, drinking and dancing. I never made it to Castro District because I was too tired from working, but I watched the news and saw people twerking on cars. Everyone looked like they were having a good time.

Day Two

We decided to head down a little earlier on Sunday. The rumor was Sunday was even crazier than Saturday because it was Parade Day. Yes, there are more people on Sunday, but they are all at the parade which starts at 10 am and ended around 5 pm. We had learned some tricks from Day One that we implemented on Day Two.

Tip #1

Bring Your Own Toilet Paper. There are porta-potties at the event, and they ran out of T.P. halfway through day 1 and they weren’t restocked on Day Two. Bringing our own toilet paper was a live saver.

Tip #2

Bring Your Own Hand Sanitizer. Like the T.P. running out on day 1, so did the water at the handwashing station. We brought our own wipes and Everyone supplied free hand sanitizer.

Tip #3

Be prepared for long lines. And I mean long lines. Breaks were far and few for us because the booth was always packed and the lines were always long. Like, be prepared to wait an hour for your food and another ½ hour for your beer. Lucky for me there was no line for wine, and the Kind booth hooked it up with protein bars to hold me over till dinner.

Tip #4

Be open. This is Pride after all. We saw over 20 fully naked people, interesting costumes – basically, a lot of people fully expressing themselves which is awesome and kind of the purpose of this event.

Tip #5

Have fun. This is the most important one, and the end of the day you want to make sure you’re having a great time which is almost guaranteed at Pride.

Have you been to San Francisco Pride before? What tips do you have? Share them in the comments below!

Until next time….



How to Pack for 8-weeks in a Carry-On

I love to pack light. I save money on airlines fees, I don’t have to worry about losing any checked luggage, and its less stuff to haul around during my travels. Whatever your reasoning is for packing light, I’m here to offer you words of wisdom and guidance for your next trip!

The List

I spent quite some time creating my packing list for New Zealand. I did a lot of research and even did a couple of test packs, so I knew I had everything I would want during my extended travels. One thing I always kept in mind is that if I forgot something or needed more of something New Zealand has stores, so I can buy whatever I need. It’s likely wherever you are planning to go also has stores. The only items I ended up buying was an extra long sleeve shirt (which I have since added to my list) and additional toiletry items – sunscreen, face wash etc. The list now serves as my guide and I adjust it depending on the destination and the activities I will be doing. The list usually has enough clothes for one week and then I do laundry. Ready for the list? Click here to download and start packing.


You will be able to do laundry. Whether you are staying at a house that has a washer and dryer or visit a laundry mat, you will be able to wash your clothes. That being said, you will laundry detergent (something that can also be found in the country you are visiting), and some sort of laundry bag. My particular suitcase comes with a laundry bag, but I also like to pack a packable duffel pack that can double as a laundry bag. But in reality, a trash bag with work. You just want something to transport your dirty and then clean clothes that isn’t your suitcase. When I was in New Zealand you could always tell it was laundry day for me because usually the last clean item I had was the dress I packed.

Laundry Day!

Mix and Match Your Clothes

Don’t bring a shirt that will only go with one pair of pants. Or shoes that only serve one purpose. Multi-purpose is your friend when packing light. Bring a variety of colors that will mix and match well. Since most of my wardrobe is black, that’s kind of easy for me. Solid colors also work well. I brought shorts that I could hike in, but could also pass for city wear, or a night on the town. If you look at my photos, you’ll notice I am wearing a combination of the same 5 or 6 items the whole time. After returning back to the States, I didn’t wear any of those clothes for at least a month. Some of the items I brought with me didn’t make it home. It was time for us to part ways, and it made room in my bag for souvenirs. Check out my blog about my favorite travel items.


This is huge. Even though it might be cold enough for your big coat, you don’t really have room for it. And if you are visiting a place like New Zealand during the Spring/Summertime, you will go through about 4 different climates. Based off all the items I brought, I could layer it up pretty good if I got really cold. I had a tank top, wool long sleeve, fleece sweater, my Athleta jacket, and my Columbia raincoat that was excellent in the wind. I never once had to fully layer up. Same with the pants. The hiking pants I brought were pretty good in the cold and wind, but if it was really cold, I could layer them with some yoga pants. Layering is key.


I’m fully aware that in a carry-on all liquids have to be under 3 oz. My sunscreen in exactly 3 oz, and as I mentioned earlier, I tend to purchase facewash and sometimes shampoo in whatever country I’m in. It helps you feel more like a local. I also just bring the basics as you’ll see in my packing list.

Some Final Tips

I do believe the packing cubes help you save room because you can stuff them, and then make them fit in a tight spot. Plus, they keep your bag organized and neat. I also stuff my sunscreen and undergarments in my shoes. Although I bring 4 pairs of shoes, I only pack one large pair. I wear my hiking boots on the place to save room and would either wear my boots or trainers on travel days to save room. The Toms and sandals don’t take up any room. Same with my jeans. I usually wore them on travel days to save room. Lastly, don’t bring huge glasses or sunglasses cases. They now make softshell cases or stuff your glasses in a sock. It will help you save room versus the large hard case.

What tips do you have for packing light? Share them in the comments below!

Until next time…



Live Aqua Resort – Cancun, Mexico

If you are looking for a relaxing getaway with beautiful scenery and great weather Cancun is the perfect spot. It’s an easy flight from the United States. Even with a layover, I arrived at the resort with time to hang by the pool for a couple of hours before dinner.

Live Aqua Resort

This was my first time at an all-inclusive and Live Aqua Resort did not disappoint. The rooms were large and elegantly designed, but my favorite part was the view. Every time I walked into the room the curtains would open and I would be greeted with the stunning view of the resort pools and the beach.

The resort has three pools including an infinity pool and a swim-up bar. There is a bar on the beach, and the barstools are swings. It was definitely an experience being able to go up to the bar and order whatever I want. I don’t usually go on lounging vacations, but I have to admit, it was nice.

As a lover of Mexican food, I was a little disappointed that the resort didn’t have a Mexican restaurant, but they did serve tacos by the pool during lunch. They have Asian, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine available for dinner. The portions are a little smaller than what is served in America, so don’t be afraid to order all three courses. Breakfast is a buffet and they serve everything. They even have a smoothie bar.

The resort also offers a lot of activities. They have morning yoga, beach volleyball, cornhole, cooking classes, live music and karaoke. You just have to ask the concierge for a list of the weekly activities. Then there is the tour desk where you can book your excursions while in Cancun. We choose to spend a day at Xavage – the brand new adventure park, and also booked a tour to Chichen Itza – the ruins of the ancient Mayan city.

Xavage and Chichen Itza

Xavage is an adventure park. They have 4 “main” attractions that you can only complete once, and then some smaller ones you can ride as many times as you’d like. We only had time for the 4 big ones and one round on monkey. The “main” attractions are a jet boat ride, an off-road rock crawling course (you’re the driver), river rafting, and zip lining. Monkey is a rope course. It offers 4 levels, and the highest level is reserved for professional climbers. The easiest level takes about 45 mins to complete, and the hardest can take up to three hours. It is definitely an adrenaline pumping activity.

Lunch is included in your ticket. I suggest bringing sturdy shoes you can walk in but don’t mind if they get wet. Same with your clothes. You can wear a bathing suit or comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting wet. Life jackets are provided at the water rides, and you are given a helmet at check-in. Lunch is a buffet. Since the park is “wild” they also have “wild” food. They have alligator, boar, ostrich and rabbit for you to try and a collection of less exotic foods.

Most people have heard of Chichen Itza – some sites even consider it one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza is located in Yucatan State which is about 2.5 hours away from Cancun. It’s a 12-hour tour, and a lot of it is spent on the bus, but they try to give you an all-encompassing tour of a different part of Mexico in a short time. You make 4 stops. The first stop is at a Mayan Village where you have lunch. There is a little shop, a tequila tasting and you meet with a Mayan Shaman. You can also purchase your own Mayan Calendar if you wish.

The second stop is Chichen Itza. To help tourists pronounce it, they call it Chicken Pizza. The ruin site is extremely hot, so bring lots of water, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. You spend about 2 hours at the site and will walk around a lot. The grounds were quite a bit larger than I originally thought. There are a lot of tents set up along the side with little knick-knacks to buy. The guide will walk you around the ruins and give you some history for about 45 mins, and then you can explore on your own. The third stop is a Cenote – basically an open cave with water in it. This particular Cenote is 150 ft deep. In that part of the country, the Cenotes are Mexico’s water source. After a long day in the sun, the water is very refreshing. The 4th and final stop is a small colonial town. This stop is about 20 minutes long – basically enough time to walk around the plaza and grab a snack from a vendor. It was a long and exhausting day, but I enjoyed seeing a different side of Mexico outside our resort.

All in all, the trip was fantastic. I like the idea of 5 days at the resort (keep in mind two of those are travel days). I’m sure Live Aqua won’t be my last all-inclusive. I would do 5 days again, but I would only do one excursion. I think 3 lazy days is perfect and refreshing for someone like me who is always on the go. Have you ever been to an all-inclusive? What do you think of them? What about Cancun? Do you have a favorite resort or excursion there? Leave me a comment below because I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…



8 Must-Do Things in London

There are probably hundreds of things to do in London. So I’m going to start with 8 of my favorites. Here are 8 things you must check out and experience while in London.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is a must for anyone visiting London. Indulge in your favorite treats like scones, small sandwiches and macarons while sipping on your favorite tea of choice. Visit the Ritz in London for a luxury afternoon experience or at Number 16 for a picture-perfect afternoon in a lush outdoor garden. No matter the time of day or your location of choice you can’t go wrong with afternoon tea in London.

Harry Potter Studios

Maybe you’ve read my blog on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and know what a huge Potter fan I am, but even so-so fans can appreciate Harry Potter Studios in London. See props from the movies, the Hogwarts model that was used to film the outside shots, costumes, Doby’s face – you name it. This place is wicked cool. The studio is located 20 miles outside of the London city-center and you can either take the train or hire the Harry Potter Studios bus. Plan ahead because tickets do sell out.

Big Ben and Parliament

This is London. All the photos you see, every time London is in a movie you see Big Ben. I’m just thankful that Big Ben and the English Parliament survived WWII. That is one thing I like about London is the contrast between new and old, and what was built before and after the war. I remember the first time I looked up at Big Ben I swore I saw Peter Pan and Wendy flying around the clock’s face. You’ll have to visit this site twice because day and night both offer unique views.

Tower of London

I love how old this place in. The oldest building – the White Tower – was build in the 1000s. Most people visit the Tower of London to see the crown jewels, but the history is fascinating. We all know about the infamous torture chamber, but that wasn’t the only place where people died. I’m convinced this place is haunted, and they should host a night tour. I thought of a movie when some thieves break in after hours to steal the Crown Jewels, but then have to deal with the ghosts and tortured souls of the tower. But definitely check it out, well worth the entry fee.

Buckingham Palace

Who doesn’t want to see where the royals live? While there might not be any royals there when you visit because they have multiple places, it’s still a cool thought. Try to make a guard laugh, and enjoy a walk around the grounds. The gardens nearby are beautiful, and Buckingham Palace is located near Hyde Park which is a great place to spend an afternoon walking around.

Jack the Ripper Tour

You might say I have a thing for scary things. I like adventure, and scary stories tend to get my adrenaline running, so I guess you can say they are a type of adventure. East London in the 1800s was not a nice place. It where the poor lived and where most of the crime happened. It isn’t necessarily a nice place today, but still worth checking out. Plus, for my Harry Potter fans, you’ll recognize a lot of East London from Diagon Alley. The tour guide will take you to different places when victims of Jack the Ripper were found and then show you photos, so you can see what that area looked like 130 years ago. I’m waiting for this tour to partner with augmented reality, that is going to be insane.

Ride the Underground

It’s a right of passage to ride “The Tube” in London. If you’ve never been on a subway system before, the London underground might seem a little daunting, but it definitely is a convenient and quick way to get around the city. The city bus is definitely cheaper, but everyone has to ride The Tube at least once. Pick up your Oyster card right away – it will be good for the underground and the city bus. The underground charges you based on how far you travel and what zones you travel through, so check the price sheet when loading your card, and don’t forget to “Mind the Gap.”

See a Play

Head to the West End and see a show. London has a similar selection of Broadway shows as New York City – The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton. But the longest-running show belongs to the Mousetrap. It’s been going for 59 years. I saw The Lion King. London definitely fulfilled a lot of childhood dreams between Peter Pan and Big Ben, Harry Potter and seeing the Lion King in action. If you’re not sure which play to see I recommend the Lion King, though I do want to see the Cursed Child (duh), and School of Rock (another childhood favorite movie). The West End is near Covent Garden which is a touristy area full of shops, restaurants and pubs good to visit before or after your play.

There is so much to see and do in London. I didn’t even get into the museums, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kings Cross or Abbey Way. Really you have to pick your favorites and then plan for a return trip. Have you been to London? Leave me a comment below and tell me your favorite must-do in London.

Until next time…



4 Tips For Balancing Life and Adventure

So you love adventure, but you also love your job, family, house and pets. You want to bike that new trail this weekend, but the lawn really needs to be mowed. Or you want to join your girlfriends in New York, but you’re on a tight work deadline. Life is all about balance. So how do you balance life and responsibility when you’re craving adventure? Keep reading for some great tips.

Life Itself is an Adventure

You don’t have to fly halfway across the world, or even leave your state to have an adventure. Sometimes the best adventures happen in your own back yard. I’ve shared blogs on signing up for a fun run in your hometown, or if you’re lucky enough to live in Reno, there is plenty to do from hikes to events to satisfy your adventurous spirit. Grab your family and your pets and explore a new part of town, or eat at that restaurant that will allow dogs on the patio. Life itself is a wild and fun adventure, so enjoy it.

It’s Okay to Stay Home

We are human, and we need rest. So what if you walk into work on Monday morning and don’t have a crazy Instagram story to share. You are still allowed to love adventure and travel if you spend a weekend in your garden, or sitting on the couch binging Netflix. A full work week can be exhausting. Combine that with back to back travels and a quiet weekend at home sounds amazing – at least that’s how I feel. Plus, I probably need to give my house a good clean and give my cats some extra love.

Plan Ahead

If you are busy like me, then planning ahead is going to be your friend. I put everything in my calendar – even when I want to start thinking about planning for another trip. Planning ahead will help you save time and money because you will be fully prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Plus, you’ve probably had some time to research what you want to see or do on your trip, so you can get the most of it. I know how precious time is.

Make the Most of the Opportunities Given to You

A great example of this is a bleisure trip. If you are able to extend your stay over the weekend that’s great. You’re basically killing two birds with one stone. But if not – take an evening to go out and explore. Family reunions are a great opportunity. If everyone is coming to you, this is your chance to show your family your favorite spots around town, or if you traveled out of town even better. I’m sure there is a family member who loves adventure (almost) as much as you.

The most important tip though is to not get so caught up in the adventure itself and just remember to have fun. Life is too short to worry about the trips you couldn’t go on or the fact that you have to do yard work one weekend instead of going skiing. If you plan ahead, you’ll have plenty of adventures and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Do you have any great tips about balancing life and adventure? Please share them with me in the comments below. 

Until next time…