What snowboarding has taught me

photo-1418662589339-364ad47f98a2I have been snowboarding since I was around eight years old. I learned at a little resort named Boreal, located in the north-western side of the Tahoe basin. I participated in one of the kids classes there and was instantly hooked. The act of flying down that mountain on this little composite board made me feel like I  was floating..that is until I fell…which I did a lot. Even though learning how to snowboard was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done, I am glad that I stuck with it.

Growing up, snowboarding was a great outlet for my friends and I. We would look forward to the weekends after big snowstorms so we could spend some time on the slopes. Snowboarding with my friends not only supplied me with a fun outdoor activity, but it also showed me the importance of peer criticism and motivation. We were always pushing each other to push our skills to the limit, which both caused us to get better, and get injured. I have carried this lesson with me through my professional and academic career. knowing how to motivate is a crucial skill for team projects, leadership, and even self improvement, such as working out at the gym with friends.

I as i mentioned in one of my previous blogs, learning how to snowboard is a great way to learn about self discipline. Sticking with any new activity that requires skill is difficult, and snowboarding is no exception. Through all the painful wrists and sore knees is an important lesson in perseverance. I’d like to think that the sticking with snowboarding has helped me form a mindset that where I fundamentally need to prove to myself that I am capable of completing new challenging tasks. That in and of itself is worth the cost of a few snowboarding lessons as a kid.

Finally, snowboarding teaches us new and exciting things about nature and people. It gives us an outlet for exploring the elements of winter and gives us a break from technology. The culture and people of the ski and snowboard industry are friendly, passionate, and always willing to share knowledge and stories with beginners. So if you are on the deciding edge of learning yourself or putting your kids in a program, do it! The life skills gained from this simple recreational activity are worth the frustrating weekends and guaranteed soreness.

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Weekend Getaway: Quick Summary of Lake Tahoe

Emerald_BayIt’s been awhile since I have posted one of my “weekend getaway” adventures. With winter coming to a close and summer on the horizon, I felt like it was the perfect time to list some activities to do around my backyard, Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas can provide the ultimate getaway for the outdoor enthusiast with plenty of camping, backpacking, and water sports available. It can also cater to the more homey individuals with fine dining, ample shopping, and live entertainment. As far as resorts go, north shore has a Hyatt Regency and south shore boasts a plethora of arrangements ranging from the Hard Rock Hotel to the Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Where to Stay

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Sunnyside Cafe is often busy on nice days. credit: tahoeactivities.com

When planning a trip to Tahoe for the weekend it’s important to think about what kind of experience you want. If you have a trailer or plan on tent camping, I would recommend William Kent campground in the north-western side of the lake, or Fallen Leaf campground at the south end of the lake. William Kent will put you across the street from delicious breakfast at Sunnyside Cafe, and keep you relatively close to Squaw Valley. Fallen Leaf is closer to the more populated and lively south lake, as well as a few other prime destinations such as Fallen Leaf lake and Emerald Bay.

What to do

The obvious thing to do while in Tahoe is to relax and take in the beauty from one of the many beaches along the lake. Some popular areas include Sand Harbor, Zephyr Cove, and Kings Beach. Lake Tahoe is also a world renown paddle boarding destination, so I highly recommend renting some during your visit.

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crystal clear water attracts tons of kayaks and paddle boards. credit: standuppaddletahoe.com

If shopping is your thing, then south lake is the place to be.  Heavenly has a great atmosphere and some nice dining options. Other places to shop and visit are the villages at Squaw and Northstar.

Live entertainment is predominately at south lake with shows happening most commonly at the Mont Blue Resort. There are however a few outliers around the lake such as the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival which takes place at Sand Harbor. If you are up for a small drive, more nightlife and entertainment can be found down the mountain in Reno.

And finally, go hiking! Tahoe has some of the best hiking in the world and it’s free! No matter what part of the lake you are on I guarantee there are plenty of trail heads within close proximity. Go explore!

Have any other ideas for Tahoe-bound travelers? Comment below!

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Stress: The Universal Enemy

reducing-stress-2We have all dealt with stress in our lives, plain and simple. Stress is difficult to conquer and more difficult to navigate around. unfortunatley, I have been a slave to stress lately with my MBA classes in fullswing, projects piling up at work, and side projects requiring my attention. If we can’t completely avoid stress in our lives, it’s important to learn how to tame it. Traveling has supplied me with a multitude of stressful experiences. When I look back on these experiences, its easy to see how I have become better at managing stress because of them. So lets look at a few of the ways travel may help you with stressful situations

  • Airport Navigation

You don’t need to spend much time in an airport before you realize how stressful it is. The hustle and bustle of people traveling for business and the seemingly infinite distance between you and your gate can create quite a hectic atmosphere. The main reason airports are so stressful is because of deadlines. Everybody has a deadline (flight departure) that they need to meet or else their already stressful adventure becomes even more complex. Learning how to manage flight times in an airport can help you manage time in general and help you conquer any deadlines you may face in your every day job.

  • Budgets

When you travel to other countries, you run the risk of having a currency exchange that isn’t in your favor. When this happens, it is important to learn how to budget so that your don’t go broke on your third day of vacation. I personally believe that anytime you have to budget, it’s a good learning experience for the future. When you can accurately manage your money, you may spend less time stressed about paying bills and rent on time and are happier overall.

  • Itineraries 

Like I have mentioned before, planning out a trip so that you see all there is to offer can take quite a bit of forethought. I have learned that planning out itineraries on large trips has helped me prioritize projects at work, and greatly helped me plan weekend getaways. When you are forced to plan ahead in any scenario, you take away the stressful on-the-spot questions that often cause unneeded stress.

Have any other ways travel helps deal with stress? Comment below!

-Cheers

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How to Choose a Destination Abroad

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Sometimes the hardest part about traveling is deciding where to go. With 196 countries and hundreds of thousands of cities to choose from, where do you even start? For some people, traveling is a such a common occurrence that choosing where to go right now isn’t a big deal because realistically they will probably get there sometime in the near future. This is every travelers dream, but unfortunately very rarely a reality. For the common working class, extravagant vacations abroad are few and far between, therefore the destination must be perfect.

  1. Decide what type of culture you want.

This is a common mistake that most people make when traveling. The idea of backpacking through the valleys of China might sound like fun, but when the culture shock sets in, it can make a vacation stressful and frustrating. If you want a more Americanized trip with the amenities we are custom to, Europe is a great place to go. There is still plenty of new culture to experience and the ability to shop and have nice restaurants is always a plus. If you want the culture experience of driving down a dirt road in a 60 year old bus while sitting next to an old lady and her pet chicken, then maybe some places in South America or East Asia are right for you. The hidden gems are the places you can experience both in close proximity, such as Santiago, Chile, and the surrounding area.

  1. Choose your preferred recreation.

Once you have decided on the culture you want to experience,   it’s time to choose the activities you want. If you want an Americanized culture with the city feel, maybe you will choose a location like London. If you primarily want to be outside exploring, then a country like New Zealand might be right up your alley. Knowing what you activities you enjoy in your everyday life and planning new locations around those will make your trips infinitely better.

  1. Time it right

I know it’s hard to imagine, but some people actually like visiting places in the winter. Unfortunately, these people are rare. Most of us like to travel when the weather is optimal. This is why timing a vacation is such an important part of planning. Going in the middle of summer to Maui might seem like the best time as far as weather is concerned, but it will also be when Maui is packed to the gills with tourists. Keep your eyes peeled for prime weeks where the weather is good and the tourism is at a low.

Have any other tips on choosing a travel destination? Comment below!

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Souvenirs and Beer

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For most people, traveling somewhere new is an exciting and important part of their lives. It is an experience that when looked back upon, brings up happy memories. Souvenirs are tokens of remembrance that have the ability to trigger memories that people want to reminisce about. Their tangible nature helps the owner remember happy moments of their lives. For as long as traveling has been around, the demand for souvenirs has been present. Hundreds of years ago, people would buy items from far away cities and bring them back to their families for keepsakes. Fast forward to 2016, and the average family or couple will spend a couple hundred dollars on souvenirs per trip. Because of this, souvenirs sales have become one of the largest revenue gaining markets in the travel industry.

As a kid, I used to love souvenirs. I would get key chains, knives, model ships, or whatever else caught my eye. Looking back, I’m sure my parent’s wallet surely didn’t appreciate the souvenirs, but they gave me a tangible item that reminded me of our trips. Because I enjoyed these so much, my girlfriend and I decided that we should have our own type of souvenirs. We wanted Items that wouldn’t cause a lot of clutter but can still be displayed for nostalgia purposes throughout the house.

That is where the beer comes in! Since we are both big beer aficionados, we decided that when we visit a new city or country, we will try and find a local brewery in the area. I believe that every brewery is a new adventure, and you never know what you’re going to taste or whom you’re going to meet. Once we are done tasting the local beer, we buy a tin sign with the name of the brewery or one of their beers. Currently we have nine in our kitchen, and they serve as both souvenirs and decorations. Every sign has a story and whenever we look at one, we remember the good times that came with it.

And of course, beer might not be your thing. Maybe you will find a different type of activity that you can do across multiple cities and countries. Whatever it is, finding an activity like brewery tasting can be a fun addition to any trip, and help you gain a better understanding of the city. If you can take home a souvenir from your activity, even better. So get out there and go have a beer!

Have any cool activities you like to do in each city? I’d love to hear about them so comment below!

 

Weekend Escapes: Camping

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For most of the working class, it can be hard to find time to truly escape. And by escape, I don’t mean sitting down and browsing Facebook for a few minutes; I’m talking about getting away from work, people, responsibilities, the whole nine yards. Luckily for us, there is a little thing called camping.

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No campsite is complete without hammocks

I am lucky enough to live near the greater Lake Tahoe region, meaning that I rarely have to drive more than an hour in any direction for great camping. This last weekend I met some friends up at Frenchman’s lake, located about an hour north of Reno. After a stressful week of work deadlines, business meetings, and class, it was the perfect opportunity to unwind and mentally refuel myself for this week. The campsite was filled with good food, good games, and good company; the perfect equation for a kickback and chill type of evening.

I have been camping my entire life both with a tent and with a trailer. Because of that, I’ve only ever thought of camping as a relaxing event. A few people that I have talked to have mentioned that camping for them can sometimes be more stressful than fun. They don’t exactly know what to bring, how to store their food, or are nervous that their gear won’t hold up like they expect it to. Most of the time people like this tend to over pack, meaning that their minds are trying to remember way to many things while loading stuff into the car or setting up camp. The human mind is not very good at remembering more than 7 things at one time, so it is important that you make the process of packing as streamlined as possible.

My first bit of advice is to not worry about all the little things. What I mean by this is that as long as you have some food, a sleeping bag, and a tent, then you can probably survive. Don’t worry about grabbing every little game or nick knack from your house. In reality, you only need three or four games, a book, and maybe a few recreational items like a hiking pack or fishing gear. My second bit of advice (and one of my favorites) is to have a camping box in the garage ready to go. In this box you can store your tent, sleeping bags, cooking items, etc, so when it is time to hit the road, you can just throw the box in car knowing that all your stuff is already in there. Now if you are trailer camping, this is even easier as you can store all of these items in the trailer during the summer months.

Camping is one of my all-time favorite ways to relax. If you have never gone and are feeling overworked, I beg you to find the nearest campground and head out there for a weekend. The act of having your brain focus on nothing but beer, food, and fishing, can truly help your emotional and mental well being.

Have any tips for making camping less stressful? comment below! I do not have kids so if you have any advice on camping with children, I’d love to hear it, Cheers!

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A Snapshot of Maui Pt. 2

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My last blog detailed the first three days of my girlfriend and I’s graduation trip to Maui. If you have not read part one, check it out here. The first three days were amazing, relaxing, and adventures, so lets see what the next few days had in store!

After sleeping off our Luau from the night before, we decided to start day four with some paddle boarding at one of my favorite locations on the island, Kapalua Bay. This was the first time paddle boarding for both us, and within ten minutes we were paddling around like we had been doing it for years! Ok maybe we weren’t that good but it was fun nonetheless. Once we had spent an hour paddling around the bay, we left for lunch and thought about where we wanted to go next,

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Refreshing beer at Maui Brewing.

If you had just spent hours paddle boarding in the warm Maui sun, what is the one thing you would want? Beer, you want beer. After a quick lunch, we made our way up to the Maui Brewing Company. It was at this beautiful moment that I discovered the magical beverage known as Coconut Porter. Maui Brewing Co. has over 26 brews on tap at this location, most of which were quite delicious. If you are a fan of beer, this tasting room is a must do. Later that evening we went to one of Maui’s premier nightlife events called Warren and Annabelles. This is a dinner, comedy, and magic show all in one, and is by far one of our favorite things we did. Tickets are a bit pricey at $100 per person, but it is worth every penny. I even got to put a man in a straight jacket! Sadly he escaped 30 seconds later..

The next day we headed back to Kapalua bay for some scuba diving. We had just been scuba certified the year before, and this was our first time going out on our own without an instructor or dive master. It was also our first time scuba diving in water that was over 45°F, making it much more enjoyable. The folks over at Maui Dive Shop were very helpful and made the process of renting our gear quick and easy. We never made it over to scuba paradise of Molokai, but it is on our list for next time!

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Enjoying Twin Falls

The one event that we opted out for was the road to Hana. This is supposedly one of the most beautiful roads in the world, but takes an entire day to complete. Instead, we decided to drive to the top of Haleakala Crater (the main volcano on the island) and spend the day around that area. We drove to the very first waterfall on the road to Hana, Twin Falls, which required a slight hike to get to. Although not as large and mesmerizing as some of the other waterfalls on the island, Twin Falls, satisfied our island waterfall itch and provided a nice rainforest filled hike.

The last day there was spend relaxing on the beach and snorkeling. Maui is a beautiful island with tons to offer, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for a week long tropical getaway. Just remember that it is Hawai’i, and can be quite congested with tourists.

Have any stories about Maui or the other islands? Comment below!

 

A Snapshot of Maui Pt. 1

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I have been mentioning my past trip to Maui a lot lately, so I decided it was about time I write about it! When people hear the word “Maui” their brains automatically begin thinking of mai tai’s, crystal clear water, and island waterfalls. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my girlfriend and I took a vacation there last summer to celebrate graduating college (thanks mom and dad!). So once the excitement of graduation wound down, we grabbed our scuba gear, packed our swimsuits, and took off to Hawai’i!

 

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The view from our patio.

The first thing we did when we landed was head to our condo. Luckily we have some family friends who were kind enough to let us reserve their beachfront ‘home away from home’ for the week we were there. Our patio door looked right out to a small private beach on the southwestern side of the island, perfect for viewing sunsets. We knew there were a few major activities we wanted to do while we were there so we spaced out those events and left the time in-between open to random adventures. By doing this, we created a stress-free trip that felt relaxed and easy going, yet structured.

Our first full day started off with some snorkeling at the popular Honolua bay. Unfortunately due to the weather, the snorkeling was mediocre at best. If you ever make it to Honolua, make sure you go on a clear, sunny day! We then spent the rest of the day traversing the west Maui loop, stopping only to buy some banana bread from the locals. We ended the day with some delicious cheeseburgers and margaritas on Front Street.

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A cloudy day at Honolua bay still attracts quite a few divers.

On day three, we woke up and felt like going on a hike. We researched a few locations that were on our side of the island and decided on the Lahaina Pali Trail. This local favorite, was about two miles round trip and provided us with spectacular views of the western side Maui and the smaller island of Molokai. If you ever find yourself thinking about doing this hike, keep in mind that there is virtually no shade, so get at it early! Our day three ended with a delicious ‘Drums of the Pacific Luau’ that left us both entertained and full.

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Reached the top of the Lahaina Pali Trail!

Have any stories of Hawai’i? comment below! And stay tuned for part 2!

 

The Culture of Food

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Have you ever heard of someone going on a vacation and losing weight? Yea me neither. That is because vacation is a time to sit back, relax, and eat enough food to make us question our morals. Food, good or bad, is a huge part of traveling because it is often the easiest and most convenient way to ‘experience’ an area. Some people will even plan entire trips around certain cities or countries solely because of the renowned cuisine in that area. Why is that?

As humans, we need a few basic commodities to survive; food being one of them. When visiting somewhere new, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to eat at some point in your trip. If you are staying somewhere without a kitchen then the only option is to go out to eat. Cities and tourist heavy areas realized this and made it a point to create restaurant environments that mirror the culture and feel of their geographical location. The United States is a great place to witness this; from Boston clam ‘chowda’ to Texas BBQ, each major location of the country has established a foodie culture that defines the area. Fast-forward 10 or 50 years and it’s easy to see how the regional specific food industry became so large.

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Chicken heats are a common treat in Brazil

Personally, I believe food is an important part of traveling no matter where you go. Many countries, such as Japan, were shaped by the food that was readily available for them to eat. In Japan’s case, the fishing industry became one
of the foundations for the culture that we experience if we were to travel there today. While traveling in Italy, I found that a few of our meals took hours to finish. This was because in the Italian culture, eating is a time for family interaction and communication. Cultural experiences like this can only be shared through the power of food.

Experiencing new food while traveling also opens our minds and taste buds to exciting new flavors that we might not have tried otherwise. I sometimes find myself going out of my way to find these new flavors in restaurants and grocery stores in my hometown. Adding other cultures foods to our diet can help stir creativity while cooking and keep us somewhat in touch with another culture.

Have any great experiences with food in another culture? Have a favorite type of cultural dish? Comment below or send me a tweet!

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Spontaneous or Planned Travel?

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For as long as traveling has been alive, people have been arguing whether it’s better to travel spontaneously or with a preplanned agenda. There are studies, forum arguments, and magazine articles all attempting to prove the benefits of each style of travel and why they are better, but what should we believe?

This is not so much a question I know, as it is a question I am currently trying to figure out. In the past, I have planned out the main places I would like to visit, and then planned out the rest of my days around those locations. I have always felt like this helped me gain the most out of a trip because I was able to visit all the “must see” places in a certain area. My trip to Brazil was the first time where I truly experienced a lack of itinerary. I was able to do what I wanted, and I didn’t try and stress myself out by trying to squeeze in every tourist attraction in the area. What I found out is that by doing this, I was able to better experience the local culture in a more relaxed and fulfilling manner.

So you might be asking yourself, “If you enjoyed spontaneous travel in Brazil so much, why don’t you do it everywhere you go?” The answer is time restraints. For most people, the average vacation ranges between one to three weeks, sometimes making it difficult to leisurely experience everything a new country or location has to offer. In these scenarios, where time is limited, I believe it’s important to list the general path and fill in the gaps as you go.

For example, when my girlfriend and I were in Hawaii last summer, we planned out a few of the beaches and locations that we wanted to see, but that was all. We left the time in-between relatively open so we could meander and explore. Now we could have tried to see every tourist attraction on the island if we wanted to, but by doing so we probably would have created a rushed and stressful environment.

So in recap, don’t feel obligated to see every “must see” tourist attraction in the area. Most of the time they are crowded and slightly disappointing. Try your hardest to choose a few places you want to see and be spontaneous in-between. To answer the question, “should I be spontaneous or planned out?” I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

Have any advice on spontaneous travel? Comment below!

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