Tag Archives: travel

My Top Ten Festival Tips from Lollapalooza 2014

27 Aug

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A few weeks ago I experienced my first big music festival, Lollapalooza. Being one of the biggest music events in the Mid-West, the festival features 3 days of concerts from both main stream and off-the-chart artists in Grant Park, Chicago. Below are my top ten festival tips I collected while attempting Lolla for the first time!


TIP #1:  It’s hot. Really think through your outfits and prepare to stay hydrated. Luckily there are free water filling stationsblog lola1 sponsored by CamelBak. A lot of festival goers had fancy little water backpacks with a spout over their shoulder (see photo on the right). I just packed an empty water bottle in my cross body bag to fill once I got there. Either way, make sure you are drinking water between all those beers! Light fabrics and comfy shoes are a must. At the end of the day nobody cares how cute your outfit is, just that you can last 10 hours of standing in it.

TIP #2: Create a plan of action. Print out the festival line-up and highlight where each artist is you want to see. The festival is about a mile long with 8 stages. You’ll want to arrive 45 min early to a concert if possible to get a decent spot within viewing distance of the stage. If artists are playing back to back, we skipped the last song or two to head to the next stage. It’s packed and takes longer than you might think.

TIP #3: Take the time to explore all the great things Lolla has to offer. They had everything from a Farmer’s Market, to a free artist-signing booth, to Beer and Wine Gardens for a chance to relax. We saw some great festival clothes lined up in tents, and made a point to enjoy a craft beer between shows where we played corn hole and got our hair braided by one of the sponsor tents. So fun!

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TIP #5: Bring a portable phone charger. If you are like me, you want to capture all those special festival moments as they are happening. This means a lot of camera phone, videos, Instagram, and texting. I brought a portable charger small enough to fit in my bag and recharge at lunch between concerts. Also a good thing to keep in mind if you meet some cool people and want to meet up later before your phone dies!

TIP #6: Be sure to check out some of the after parties. It just takes some research and a little bit more money for tickets to enjoy a great after show. It’s a chance to get a little more intimate with your favorite artists verses the huge festival shows. The sooner you research options the better, the shows all sell out pretty fast.

TIP #7: Be sure to try some of the great food that’s offered at Chow Town, a collection of tents in the middle of the festival. We had anything from authentic Chicago pizza to a delicious root beer float to quench our sweet tooth and thirst. Everything looked great and there are many different options ranging from American to Vegan dishes. Everything was pretty quick, especially with the “tap to pay” option with our wristbands.

TIP #8: People suck. You are going to be pushed, shoved, spilled on, yelled at, laughed at, and insulted. There wasn’t one concert where we weren’t cut in front of for a worse view of the performers. This takes a little time to get used to, but once you get over it you’ll enjoy yourself 10x more. It’s going to happen, so all you can do is go with the flow.

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TIP #9: Über was a lifesaver and a big promotion at Lollapalooza this year. We were hesitant at first to try the personal taxi service, but it turned out extremely well. Cabs never took longer than 15 minutes, and only once were we forced to wait that long. Getting to and from the festival was a breeze and the promo gave each of us one free ride. I urge people to take advantage of the app. I was pretty impressed by how well it worked with so many people in the park each night.

TIP #10: Don’t be afraid to let loose and truly enjoy the concerts. There were moments where I was the only one dancing around and jamming to my favorite song, and they were some of my best memories of the weekend! When you let yourself go and vibe the music with the thousands of people around you, it is truly a magical moment.

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The Brunette Abroad: Hangin’ Loose in Hawaii

13 Mar

Aloha Readers!

Now that my last college spring break is over, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my final experience abroad last summer. On our flight back from Australia, we decided to take a seven day pit stop in Hawaii. My mind is especially wandering to the beautiful white sand beaches while I am stuck in the stormy, snowy weather of the Midwest.

Our extensive amount of luggage was a comical sight to see. After 3 months living out of a suitcase in Australia, we were forced to lug all of this crap to our hostel. The cab driver was not very happy with us.

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We stayed in a hostel in Honolulu, Hawaii right off the coast of Waikiki Beach. Our group of five girls stayed in a room with various visitors from Norway, China, Germany and of course, the US. The second we got settled into our rooms, we headed right to the beach to catch up on our tans. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

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Afterwards we came inside from a long day of relaxation to major sun burns… YIKES. Let me just add we wore SPF 30 and still woke up the next day fried to a crisp.

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Our second day started out with a heavy dose of SPF 90 along with cotton t-shirts in order to hike Diamond Head National Park. Old volcano’s and ancient WWII bunkers kept us preoccupied until we reached the top. We caught a breathtaking sight of Honolulu making the sweltering hike 100% worth it..

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as well as goofing off with some other great sights along the way…

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Our next big adventure consisted of a night out with our hostel roommates, who happened to be from California. We decided to pub crawl 5 different bars downtown and it was a total blast! We spent the night meeting a ton of new friends from all over the world and dancing the night away. I am happy to call those roomies my friends still to this day! 🙂

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The next day was followed with a very special visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Site. My friend Cortney and I woke up early in order to pay our respects to all of the brave soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedom during WWII almost 72 years ago. I have to admit I cried like a baby after taking the charter out to the USS Arizona Memorial placed above one of the sunken battleships. The whole experience was mind-blowing and something I will never forget. It served as a great reminder of how proud I am to be American…

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To conclude our incredible stopover on the island of Oahu, we decided to attend a traditional Luau at Germiane’s. The crew got all dressed up for a night of hawaiian food and entertainment. Each of us was adorned with a beautiful shell lei upon our arrival and handed our drink tickets for the night. We enjoyed an extensive buffet of all you can eat Hawaiian foods including roast pig, pineapple, pu pu, coconut cake and much more. Once we settled back to our seats after piling on our plates with heaps of authentic foods, we watched a show full of impressive polynesian dancing. Each dance was from a different Pacific Island including Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa. We witnessed everything from traditional hula and fire dancing to combat dances with sticks. It was one of the coolest performances I have ever seen!

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The Hawaiian Islands are exactly what the media cracks them up to be. I’ve never seen a more naturally stunning environment like the beaches of Oahu. Most of the locals were friendly and absolutely glow with the passion they contain for their homeland. I would recommend visiting Hawaii to each and everyone of my friends, as it’s so full of beauty, serenity, excitement and relaxation.

This post concludes the last of my study abroad installment to my blog. Be sure to check out the rest of my posts featuring my experiences interning in Australia and feel free to post any comments/questions if you are curious about traveling abroad!

Mahalo,

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The Brunette Abroad: My Road Trip Through New Zealand

24 Nov

It has been three months since my amazing adventure abroad, and even to this day it feels like yesterday. As I am sitting on my cozy couch with my roommate in our college house, my heart yearns for the beautiful sights and experiences I had just last season. Although it feels like a dream, I cling onto these memories in hopes of returning one day. Until then, I write down everything I can think of from each of my mini adventures. Tonight I am excited to share my trip through the North Island of New Zealand with you.

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My friend and I decided to rent a car and make our way through as much as the island as we could, all in 3 days! We started by flying into Auckland, where we were greeted by a gorgeous display of the Maori indigenous culture. We checked into a hostel and prepared for our weekend journey.

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At 8 A.M. we were ready to pick up our rental and take to the road from the big city of Auckland to the remote area of Matamata (a.k.a Hobbiton).Thanks to my friends swift adaption of driving on the left side of the road (yikes!) and a straight hour of Mumford and Sons, we arrived to the original movie sight of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a little over an hour. Both being fans of the movie series, we set out on a tour of the site. We learned fun facts about the movies, and got to walk the same paths as Gandalf the Grey and our favorite ring bearer, Frodo! Afterwards we relaxed with an original brew of our choice (created for the cast by Peter Jackson himself) within the Green Dragon Tavern, an exact replica of the one in the movie!

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After that we set off to the city of Tauranga. Sitting right off the coast of The Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is home the massive, extinct volcano of Mauao, (Mount Maunganui). This city was where my boss at my internship with Pretty Girl Fashion Group grew up, so I found it very cool I got to visit on my way down the north island. My friend and I stopped in time to hike to the top of the volcano for a quick workout and sight seeing. It was an awesome experience!

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The next day when we were driving to our next destination, Rotorua, we noticed a “rotten egg” smell in the air. Apparently the whole city reeks of it because of all the volcanic activity in the area. Once we got to driving, it was normal to see hot smoke rising from the ground in random places. This meant we were close to our next destination, the Wai-o-tapu Geothermal Wonderland. The park is New Zealand’s most colorful and diverse geothermal attraction revolved around the areas volcanic activity. We walked through naturally colored hot-and-cold pools, the world famous Champagne Pool, the amazing Lady Knox Geyser and the massive craters that are the hallmark of the Rotorua region’s volcanic heritage. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

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Afterwards, we jumped in the car to head to the North Island’s biggest lake, Lake Taupo. After a quick lunch of PB&J by the water, we headed around the lake towards the mountains of Tongariro National Park, which made for a breathtaking view. The scenery throughout all of our car rides were lovely, but this one is one I will never forget. Not long after, we arrived at the base of Tongariro Crossing and Mt. Ruapehu (a.k.a Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings).

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We decided to hike to the closest attraction (2 hours), which proved to be quite a task! We didn’t have much hiking gear, and my nikes could only take me so far past rivers, snow, and massive mounds of rock. We made due long enough to reach a stunning waterfall where we took pictures and enjoyed the sights. Tongariro is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I recommend it to anyone if you are in New Zealand. This by far was one of the highlights of my entire summer. The mountain sights were absolutely incredible!

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After a long day of hiking, we drove to our closest hostel in sight of the mountains and prepared for our next adventure. The next day we drove our longest distance to reach the Waitomo caves, where we ventured to The Black Water Rafting Co. We experienced the adventure of a lifetime touring the glowworms in the famous Ruakuri Cave. We were guided by two experienced rafters as we took to the pitch black waters with our rafts. We floated in darkness with nothing but the tiny specs of light above us to guide our way to the end of the cave. It was scary and beautiful all at the same time. A very cool experience to add to the list!

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Finally, we headed back to Auckland for one last night to explore the big city before we flew back to Australia. I headed to the Sky Tower, the highest point of the city, for a cocktail and relaxing sight-seeing opportunity. I got to see the city all lit up at 1,076′ above the ground. The sky scrapers looked like shining beacons against the water. Such a great way to end a fabulous weekend adventure.

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If I ever get a chance to go back, I would do the South Island next! I loved the mountains and the South is known for its incredible, mountainous sights. (Look it up, seriously….stunning). New Zealand is one of the only countries where you can surf and snowboard in one day, so that would be another goal of mine as well.

I am so thankful for the chance to see such an amazing country. It was hands down one of the most exhilarating moments of my summer. A thanks goes out to my parents for helping me afford this trip (it was towards the end of my summer and bank account), Michigan State University for such an incredible study/intern abroad program (number one in the USA), and The Education Abroad Network for hooking us up with the coolest tour guide and arrangements while I was in Australia.

Cheers,

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The Brunette Abroad: Crazy in Cairns, Australia!

27 Sep

After getting home a little over a month ago, I took a break to spend time with my family and friends, and get settled back into college at MSU. Now that I am back in the good ole’ US of A, I am thrilled to share the rest of my amazing summer with you guys!

This post is about my trip to Cairns, Australia. Cairns is considered the tropical region of Australia which is located near one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World, The Great Barrier Reef! After a good month of the cold and rain in Sydney, it’s safe to say we were ready for a mini vacation away from our internships to enjoy the 80 degree weather and amazing sights Cairns has to offer.

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We took off around 6 AM Friday to arrive in Cairns that afternoon. After arriving at easily one of the most fun hostels I have ever been to, Gilligans, we started to explore the area a bit. Cairns doesn’t actually have a functional beach because of all the swamp that surrounds it, so the city created a big “water hole” in the center to serve it’s residents and visitors. We made sure to check out the famous steel fish sculptures and pools the first day!

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That night us 4 girls went on a big pub crawl. We attended about 4 different bars surrounding the area, including SugarHut, PJ’s, Wool Shed, and Gilligans. There were easily over 100 people and we met amazing new friends, and had a blast dancing the night away. To my dismay, I did not sleep much that night and we had The Great Barrier Reef planned for early the next morning (yikes).

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Saturday morning on the reef was an experience to say in the least. I ended up a bit sea sick on the way out. Word of advice: ALWAYS take your ginger tablets! We had a day full of snorkeling, lunch on the boat, and great company. Unfortunately, my attempt to learn to dive 10 minutes beforehand didn’t go so well, but I still got a great view of 2 beautiful angelfish that swam right up to me in the middle of my unsuccessful dive training. After that I told myself one day I will go back and do it right. That means a full weekends worth of dive training, and then dive in the Great Barrier Reef more prepared.

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Sunday proved to be one of the best days of my entire summer. My good friend Cortney and I took a full day trip exploring the rainforests of Cairns. We got to experience some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen! We got to slide down a natural water slide in the middle of the forest, check out the world’s biggest fig tree, swim in the famous Millaa Millaa Falls (Herbal Essences Commercial ring any bells?), scout for platapi, swim in natural water holes, and relax in one of the Australia’s biggest crater lakes. My words can’t do this experience justice: so here are some pictures to give you a better idea of the beauty that is Australia…

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One heck of a weekend right? I was pretty upset to say goodbye to all the fun we had, but no where near as upset as when I found out I missed my flight back to Sydney!!! Cortney and I were stuck in the Cairns airport for 6 HOURS until we could catch another flight out, and boy was that a costly mistake! Lesson here kids: always be prepared, and check your itinerary regardless if you are “positive you leave at 12pm when the flight was really 10am”.

For more info on my experiences abroad in Australia, check out my posts for The Education Abroad Network!

Cheers,

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The Brunette Abroad: My Summer Playlist

14 Jul

The Brunette Abroad: My Summer Playlist

Much like you other 20 somethings, music plays a major part in my life. While I am working abroad in Australia, I am constantly walking or riding public transport. This means my iPhone and iPod are never too far away from me.

Here are the songs I just can’t get enough of this summer; laid back, funky, beach approved, and full of good Aussie vibes. I love how music can remind you of a special person or place, and I know once I am back home in the States these songs will forever remind me of my amazing trip abroad:

1. Get Lucky- Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

2. Ocean Avenue- Yellowcard

3. Lay Me Down- The Dirty Heads ft. Rome of Sublime

4. Rock Your Body- Justin Timberlake

5. Boys of Summer- The Ataris

6. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke

7. I Want You- Savage Garden

8. Smooth- Santana ft. Rob Thomas

9. We Can’t Stop- Miley Cyrus

10. Royals- Lorde

A little mix of everything, perfect for any mood.

 

Cheers,

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The Brunette Abroad: Inspiration Nation

4 Jul

The Brunette Abroad: Inspiration Nation

Nothing scared me more than living abroad on my own for 3 months on the other side the world. Now that I am here, I can’t imagine my life without this experience.

A whole new part of living has been revealed to me, and I can’t get enough!

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