Travel and Curls

Copenhagen’s Cycling Culture

By February 21, 2017 Cities, Destinations

It’s fascinating to watch this city work. People in Denmark are incredibly fit ya’ll! No joke, I thought I walked fast… nope, serve me up some humble pie because people in their 80’s are walking past me on the street. Ask my friends or family, most would tell you they’d prefer if I slow down, but this wasn’t the case here.

By walking the city, I enjoyed watching the locals in their day-to-day routines. In the morning on the way to work, there are six rows of bikes lined up in the bike lane at stoplights. Parents bike their kids around (like 5-6 year olds), and two of them at the same time! The bike in the rain, the ice, the snow… and of course nice weather! Lines and lines of bikes are parked in front of buildings, apartment complexes, and large lots near the metro stations.

It’s a way of life here in Copenhagen and more power to these folks. While cycling is just a part of Danish everyday life, it was something that caught my eye right from the start. Next time I visit, I plan to partake in their way of life and rent a bike!

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Success… I’m officially in Europe! 

By February 10, 2017 Cities, Destinations

In short, I landed in Copenhagen Thursday afternoon… After multiple flights and about 31 hours of traveling, I made it!

While I sleep off some jet lag, I’ll let the pictures do the talking! Here are some highlights from my first day in the city, enjoy 🙂

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What’s in my backpack? My European packing list

By February 6, 2017 Travel Plans, Travel Resources, Travel Tips

T minus 2 days…it’s time to get serious about packing!

I love the idea of living out of a backpack or suitcase for months on end. There’s something liberating for me about simplifying and having to leave “stuff” behind. I’ll admit, it’s a little daunting trying to pack for 4+ months, but I look at it as a challenge to fit everything I’ll need on my back.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought twice (or three times) about stuffing my blender in my pack….I’m a morning smoothie addict but leaving that at home will pipe down that protein shake fanatic in me as well 🙂

So what am I bringing? Every article of clothing needs to be able to mix and match so a lot neutral colors and multi-purpose items. Here are my basics in the clothing department:
 Packing List:

1 swim suit
4 pairs socks (2 tall + 2 short) – These Smartwool socks are my favorite. They keep my feet dry while I am traveling
3 pairs of shoes (1 pair boots, 1 pair casual shoes, 1 pair athletic shoes) I bought black running shoes but if I am gone for 4 months, there’s no way I am working out in Converse. These will come in handy when I am working outside too! Give it up for Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3 in black. I’ll have to fill you in on my shoe quest at a later date…
5-6 pair Travel underwear – the ExOfficio brand is amazing, they dry super quick and it’s antimicrobial treatment reduces odor. Some people go with just 3 pairs…but they didn’t take up much space to add a couple pair. They come in bikini cuts and hipster cuts as well.
2 bras + 1 sports bra
1 hooded rain jacket – Classy trench coats never go out of style, here’s another that’s a little dressier. A waterproof coat is key in the spring all over Europe. I bought an unlined jacket so I can layer up
1 insulated, easy compressible jacket – This nano jacket is water repellant and doesn’t contain real down so it stays warm even when it gets wet, ideal for cooler, light rain days. I’m a huge fan of Patagonia since they stand behind their products for it’s lifetime.
1 base layer (when I am working outside)
2 (long or 3/4 sleeve) shirts
1 light sweater
2 v-neck t-shirts
2 tank tops or camisoles
1 casual dress
1 Chrysalis Cardi by Encircled (this is multiway clothing that can be worn 8 different ways!) or 1 cardigan or another dress
1 pair leggings
2 pair skinny jeans (1 black + 1 blue jeans)
1 pair water resistant pants (for working outdoors in gardens etc) I love these from Prana and they come in tall inseams and short inseams (These fit me perfectly)
1 pair athletic shorts (I love Brooks Chaser Shorts in 3″ or the medium length 5″ version)
1 knit beanie or winter hat (I love these from C.C. – talk about variety and great fit)
1 Infinity scarf with a pocket (a hidden pouch for little items. Lots of different prints here and here)
1 pair gloves – Keeping my hands warm
1 pair sunglasses – Love my big sunglasses

I may have gone a little overboard on the layers for colder weather…but I really don’t like to be cold (c’mon peeps from the South, you know what I’m talking about)!

Now for the accessories, travel gear, electronics and toiletries… here’s an overview:
Passport, ID’s, Visas and Credit cards – Keep a copy of these on hand and saved online in case these important docs get lost or stolen
RFID Travel Neck Wallet – I opted out of carrying a purse after hearing too many pickpocketing stories. This wallet can be worn around my neck and prevents people from scanning your important info, hands-free + safety measures = piece of mind
Prescriptions – Make sure you have your doctor’s Rx with you and in the original bottle. Some countries may ask for this documentation based on what kind of drug it is. Check for bans on certain pills and drugs for each country.
Stomach Aids – You never know what kind of ethnic food or street fare that might disagree with you
Vitamin C and other supplements – Some people may prefer Emergen-C. It’s easier to have something on hand in case pharmacies are sold out or when you feel something icky creeping up.
Travel Sink Detergent – Ideal for quick washes in a hotel or hostel sink when you are running low on socks, underwear etc.
Tide Spot Remover Pen – This will come in handy with limited amounts of clothes
Travel Alarm Clock – This is a back-up to my smart phone…lots of times and deadlines when it comes to flights, buses and work assignments.
Eagle Creek Specter Travel Packing Cubes – These are SO helpful! Instead of throwing things in my
Eagle Creek Specter Travel Packing Shoe Sacks – No need to get the rest of your clothes and things dirty from the bottom of your shoes!
Toilet Paper and/or small Pack Of Tissues – Back-up…you can never be too prepared
Sleep Eye Mask and Earbuds – to drown out plane noise or chatter in a hotel or hostel and light when you’re upside down with jet lag – Sleep is key to staying healthy while traveling
Little gifts for my hosts – I’m bringing magnets from Montana to share a piece of home with the families and people I’m staying with
Travel Plug Adapter – I bought one that would work in the EU, UK and other countries as well
Headphones or earbuds – perfect for my books on tape or when I am jamming out to my favorite playlists
Quick- Dry Travel Towel – perfect when you are stuck
Lightweight, Compact Travel Umbrella – for this crazy rainy springs that Europe is known for!
Phone and/or Computer Charger(s) – Yep, staying connected 🙂
Set Your Own Combination Padlock – As much as I’d love to trust people, I’d rather lock up my stuff and have piece of mind
Silicone Travel Bottles for Liquids – I’d love to carry 4 months of shampoos and toiletries with me, but that’s a lot of weight and wasted space. I’m taking what I need for a couples weeks then can buy as I stay at certain locations longer
Collapsible Water Bottle – Staying hydrated is so important, but water bottles can be bulky…storage problem solved!
Journal or notebook – I’ve made a personal goal to write down something every day, even if it’s just a couple words
Make-up (I am bringing the minimum but that’d be up to you)
Hair products (shampoo, conditioner and hair gel to tame my crazy curls)
Toiletries: Lotion, bodywash, razor, deodorant, toothbrush and tooth paste, etc.
Wet Wipes – you never know when you will run into a stick situation!
Travel Size Hand Sanitizer – Better to be safe than sorry, and I’m trying to avoid getting sick
Small Lint Roller – I’m wearing a lot of dark colors, and my pants always attract stuff – this will keep me looking spiffy ha!
First Aid Kit Items – a few BandAids, Neosporin, Aspirin etc for the accidents that might come my way
 Feminine Products – ‘Nough said…
Tennis Ball: OK, this isn’t a necessity but I love The Stick Massager and Foam Rollers to help work out knots in my muscles and goodness knows, traveling makes me a little achy!

Whew, ok…I guess I better get to it! 🙂

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Planning and not planning?

By January 31, 2017 Travel Plans, Travel Tips

I am planner. I like to be prepared in any given situation and I thrive on routine.

Hmmm…Earth to Nora – aren’t you headed to a foreign place in late winter and you don’t know what to expect when you get there? Yup. Totally. On purpose, I haven’t scheduled every second of my trip –  I am fighting the perfectionist side of me that wants to know everything I am going to see, how I am going to get there, what I am going to eat, where to find my hotel, how things are going to smell, what the weather is going to be like on any given day. Ok that’s a bit overboard, but I like details.

Hello insecurities meet spontaneity…I’m aiming to LET THAT SH*T GO. If I overthink it, I get bit anxious, so instead I have outlined my trip with tooooons of wiggle room but to know enough where I feel safe and trust my decisions and excited for the unknown at the same time. It’s all about the balance.

As of right now, I know the following for my trip:
1. Flight from Great Falls, MT to Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Location and duration of my three volunteer opportunities through HelpX in Spain, UK and France
3. My accommodation is booked for the three days spent in Copenhagen
4. Flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia from Copenhagen
5. Tentative accommodation (several options) for Croatia
6. Tentative travel options to get from Croatia to my first HelpX volunteering site in Spain

Yep, that’s it. I’m going with the following motto for now, wish me luck! 🙂

I’ve been working on packing…now that requires some thinking ahead…more on that soon!

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Volunteer abroad AND travel…Yep, it’s a thing!

By January 30, 2017 Travel Plans, Travel Resources, Travel Tips

I’m on a budget...it’s a common theme and isn’t specific to age.  You might be thinking you want to travel, but your first thought is “yeah, but I don’t have tons of money.” Congrats, I am in the same boat!

Yes, there are common travel expenses (flights, spending money, transportation etc) but do you want to see the world (or the other side of the country you live in) and spend more than just a week or so? HelpExchange, Workwaway or WWOOFing might be a great option! If your kind of traveling is cushy, really relaxed and being catered to (and there’s nothing wrong with that AT ALL), volunteering probably won’t be your gig. If you are looking to experience a different culture, way of life, living with a family or working with people around the world, then you have options!

It’s not a program where you pay a set fee and travel plans are coordinated for you. This is like shopping for an adventure or online dating for your volunteer opportunity…the fit has to be right for both the host and you as the helper. Still intrigued? In their words, HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpacker hostels and even boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4-5 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts.

Since I opted for the HelpExchange route, I’m speaking from my own experience and I’m not familiar with the ins-and-outs of Workaway or WWOOFing but I know they are very similar. I’d encourage you to check out each of the websites to see which would be the best fit for you!

I opted to be a Premier member so I could have more options in deciding which exchange opportunities would be the best fit and let the hosts know I was serious about volunteering, and it only costs 20 euros for a 2 year membership! For more information on a free member vs premier, check out this HelpX page. If you are curious what a search looks like, here’s an example of a few search host listings in Europe. The above screenshot is how you can search by country plus added filters like catogory, country name etc. Pretty freakin’ awesome!

Once you find a host listing that appeals to you, shoot them an email and explain how you’d be a good fit. Some places book up quickly while others post last-minute openings, so take a look around…it’s never too late to start planning your next trip 🙂

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My travel itinerary – Europe, here I come!

By January 26, 2017 Destinations, Travel Plans

I can’t believe in TWO weeks from today I’ll be on a plane zooming across the pond! Eeeee, I can barely sleep I am so excited!

So…where exactly am I going? And what the heck am I going to be doing? While there’s always the possibility that my plans may change, here’s the tentative rundown in short:

First up: Denmark

I’ll be shaking off some jet lag and exploring Copenhagen for a few days. Can’t wait to see the “cycling culture” in action and check out “the capital of the happiest country on Earth”. Whoa, there’s an expectation!

Bonus: I’ll be flying out of Copenhagen as well in June so I get to experience both winter and early summer seasons.

Next Stop: Croatia

I have a week to explore Croatia. I’ve heard nothing but incredible things about this country…I fly into Dubrovnik and can meander up the coast if I feel so inclined. No set plans yet, just going to see where the days take me…

Spontaneity is the idea!

Quick Stop: Belgium

I have pleasure of stopping through Brussels for a day or so! While I could be returning again in June en route back to Copenhagen, after playing the game of “what is the cheapest way to get from point A to point B”, Brussels took the cake. I’ll be soaking up the sites, local eats and maybe get my hands on some authentic Belgian chocolate. I know, a little cliche but no apologies here.

 

Work Exchange #1: Spain

I’ll be staying and helping at a little guesthouse tucked in the mountains in Quentar, Spain, roughly 20 minutes outside of Granada. I’m fortunate enough to be invited for three weeks from end of February to mid-March! I’ll work about 4 hours a day  (reception, gardening and/or cleaning duties) 5 days a week with 2 days off to explore. I’ll be sharing a room with one or two gals, so fun!

 

Work Exchange #2: England

Along with sight-seeing and possibly visiting a family friend’s farm, I am staying with a family of 5 and diving into their everyday way of life. In exchange for full room and board, I can’t wait to meet Chloe and family and help out around the house for a month. Along with watching three kiddos (8, 6 & 4), I’ll be working in their poly tunnel and garden and soaking up the day-to-day life in the English countryside, about 2 hours southwest of London!

 

Work Exchange #3: France

Loire Valley, a châteaux and French cooking lessons…I did say French cooking lessons, didn’t I? As a total foodie, I’m thrilled to spend time helping in the kitchen and cleaning rooms at this bed and breakfast. For the month of May, I’ll be working 6 days a week, mid-morning and again in the evenings with 1 day off in exchange for room and board!

 

My last week in Europe is still up in the air…wherever the wind…or bus or plane takes me, only time will tell! 🙂

You may be asking… a work exchange, what’s that all about? Stay tuned for more details on how I discovered a different way to travel, save a bit of money AND get immersed in a different culture!

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Welcome to Travel and Curls!

By January 18, 2017 About, Destinations, Travel Plans

Hi, you found me! First off, thanks for stopping by my little travel blog. Here you’ll find a bunch of personal experiences (from crazy fun to eek), lots of photos, my insight as a solo female traveler, resources and tips and everything else travel-related!

My adventure begins February 8, 2017…there’s more to come!In the meantime if you want to learn more about me, head on over to my About page for a few more dirty details 🙂

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