There can be many, varied roadblocks when you start to think about yourself and traveling in the same context. Some walls are put up by others. Some you’ve put up yourself without realizing it. At the end of the day you find yourself at home thinking,
“I know I want to travel. But what do I do with that?”
I found my way through studying abroad. On the way to class there was a lonely table out on the lawn proclaiming just that, I took a brochure and was hooked. An escape from where I was seemed to be what I needed, so I left for a year. The study abroad office was my second home for awhile to get it set up and guide me through the at times complicated process.
Sometimes all you need is something to jump start your engines. A bit of incentive, or that teensy bit of information that magically unlocks a door you didn’t know was closed. I have created this post to be just that. Your all-inclusive, semi-exhaustive, uniquely-imperfect list of Inspiration. Located in one easy to find station. You may even think of it as an –
I literally just came up with that while typing it and can’t be any more pleased with myself. See how easy life can be with just a little inspiration? So go down the list, enjoy the ride, and find your Spur Trail!
Regional – Minnesota & The Midwest (1 – 10)
Be Inspired (27-50)
Frugality/Money & Stuff (51-60)
Purely Entertainment (61-73)
Regional – Minnesota & The Midwest
- Minnesota State Parks – Every state has them and they are a great, local way to get out of town. There’s more going on than you’d realize, seasonal classes, group hikes, photography competitions, you just have to dig a bit. I learned how to tap maple trees, make syrup and stinging nettle tea. Here are ours from Minnesota.
- County Fairs – Many if not all states have them. For many summers after high school I lived at them. And no, sadly, I was never a carny. Though I’m game to try it sometime. It’s a little taste of your state’s rural history in a fun format. Check out this list for the Summer of 2018 to see when to go. Then at the end of it all, it is cap-stoned by the nation’s largest state fair.
- Thru Hiking – The world is full of great thru-hiking trails. Turns out, Minnesota has one as well! I haven’t completed it yet, but 2018 looks to be the year. To start finding out what it’s all about check out my first story about it.
- Cycling – I want to be into labels, but I have a hard time labeling myself. I’ve done some decent cycling in my day but I wouldn’t call myself a cyclist. This bike ‘race’ in Iowa seems like a great way to give myself some street cred. It’s called Ragbrai and since I’ve started hearing people in California ask me if I knew about it, it’s gotta be big.
- Love Letters – are the stuff of legend. Minnesota is a state steeped in legend and this amazing Love Letter by Two Wandering Soles is a great way to sum up our great state. Grab a pop and come see some of it.
- Extreme Sport – This one is only in Minnesota! Just kidding, it might not be, but the idea of Snowkiting is new to me and apparently it’s available in my home state. I’m going to claim it for now until proven otherwise. Other unique things that happen on our ice is the semiannual Ice Shanty project and yearly Urban Cross Country Ski Festival or this insane bet-you-never-heard-of-this competition, Crashed Ice by Red Bull. I might have to stay in MN next winter.
- Cycling – Investing in a garage for your bicycles is the way of the future. I have now ridden an e-bike and feel the need, but knowing these Wisconsin destinations are available make me also want to own a fat tire bike. Anyone want to establish a seasonal bike-swap with me?
- City – I know it’s hard guys. It’s hard to be convinced to visit the Midwest when there are places like the Grand Canyon or New York City or a beaches in Miami. Why just tonight I met a guy who came to the US and road tripped for six months…but never made it through Minnesota. But look, I’ve found places worth visiting! I’ve been to five of these great cities and actually concur that you should check them out. Do it, come on just do it.
- Friends – The Midwest and Minnesota especially (biased I know) is full of some of the coolest people on the planet. Much of the information I’ve included in this list comes from those I look up to, but have never met. It’s good to take a look back at where you’ve come from and who’s pushed you to become what you are. My good friend Autumn (and yes I do send her more pictures in the fall than any other season) is a force of nature and love and making merry with all. I don’t know how she keeps everything together as she’s a photographer, mother of two, wife of one, actor, model, event host and public speaker who blogs as well. She’s always aware of her surroundings and when traveling finds the unique finds that tie us all together and I think you should learn to look for love in every place.
- Road Trip – Winter and South Dakota never sounded like a winning combination. Until just now. I’m seriously rethinking my current plan of escaping the Midwest every winter. Here’s a little guide for a few things to see when the temps drop.
- Utah – The United States is filled with an amazing system of National Parks that are all worth visiting. I haven’t decided yet if I want to try and visit them all, largely because I think I’m going to keep going back to this one. When I drove into Capitol Reef National Park for the first time, my jaw actually dropped. I shouldn’t even be telling you about it, I just want to educate you but not actually have you go there. Haha, it was the location of my first solo back country hike/camp and I look forward to going back and exploring it even more deeply.
- National Parks – That being said, you should really know about all of the National Parks. Start here and find one (or fifty) that look interesting and check them out!
- Hiking – One way to add depth to your travels is to extend it and do something most people will tell you you’re crazy to attempt. Challenge the status quo! These trails have gotten more popular as of late due to increased attention from best seller’s and big movies, but the trails are still epic. I’m starting small on Minnesota trails to see if I can handle some of these big boys. Wow that sounds really suggestive, I’m just talking about hiking. 2,650 miles of walking on the Pacific Crest Trail or 2,185 miles on the Appalachian Trail. The trails are sometimes rerouted and the mileage can change so don’t quote the numbers. Just go hike.
- Cycling – After a trans-formative, New Years Eve baptism in 2015; I started taking my bucket list into my own hands. One of those items came in the form of a long distance bike ride, I chose from Vancouver to Tijuana. I’m still working on writing up the details of that journey, but here you can read about how it all got started.
- Tourism – Everyone thinks home is boring, but the grass is always greener somewhere else. Turns out every state is awesome and here’s how they’re promoting themselves with a list of every state’s Tourism Boards.
- India – Yes, go to Goa! Best thing I ever did in India was rent a moped and rave at an all night beach party with new friends I made along the way.
- Lebanon – The way I travel, I am often visiting someone. In Lebanon that has been the case, and there can be a definite difference in visiting somewhere with an insider vs on your own. Here’s a list I’m going to look at next time I’m visiting Lebanon.
- Nepal – I agree with these guys, you should go to Kathmandu. In addition to these places you should go, try our style of getting chased out of a ‘strip-club’ and not realizing how hot the spicy version of food is.
- England – Isn’t England an island already? And you’re telling me there’s more islands to see? Yes please count me in and all of the things!
- Road Trip – I’ve been down the California coast but seen little of anything inland. I love me a good road trip, and this one looks like a winner. California Through My Lens seems to have the inside scoop on everything California.
- Trekking – Hiking the Annapurna circuit was one of the physically hardest things I’ve ever done, and sadly I had to sell my cameras to afford that trip. Lacking pictures and experience of other hikes in the country, look into these great treks in Nepal.
- Cats – I have a cat project in the works. I grew up with cats. I’m allergic to cats. We host a cat video film festival every year in Minneapolis. Here’s an island full of them.
- Festivals – Add an extra level of adventure by traveling during big events. Carnival, though I didn’t attend, prevented me from participating in Paris’s Fashion Week when my guide and ‘in’ to the events just decided to stay in Venice.
- Norway – Your first stamp in your passport. Mine was Norway and it will always be special to me. Then I saw this dog-sledding post by Nerd Nomads, and I softly muttered, “F*#$&” under my breath to myself. I want to do this, go here, take these photos, be this person. When I am, I will update this. Also Morten Hilmer is the wildlife photographer I want to be (of many) and he took these wildlife shots in Norway as well. Sticking with the Norway theme, this is my friend I’ve known for a million years but only actually met once. Kjersti takes everyday life photos of Oslo and around, and makes books. Her and I are going to make it big one day.
- Bangkok – Just one example of traveling but taking the spur trail off of the regular path. Would you ever think to seek these hidden gems out on your own? Thank goodness for Just One Way Ticket doing the leg work for us.
- Photography – It may be last year’s list of most photogenic cities, but it’s a classic list of places that maybe you haven’t thought of. The images certainly make me want to have a go at it.
- Challenge – This book changed the way I think about things. As in the things you own and how they can dictate your life. It’s worth a shot, take the 100 Thing Challenge if you dare!
- Unique – Many traditional cultures in the world have assimilated and changed drastically in recent history. One group of tribal people that have managed to hold on to their traditions are the Maasai in Tanzania and Kenya. One approach for them to continue their way of life is by inviting travelers to actually stay with them and witness their day to day lives. Look into visiting them when you’re in East Africa.
- Trending – I’ve been hooked on the idea of a tiny house but just haven’t made the commitment yet. Tons of people have though and if you’re thinking about, make sure to plan ahead a little bit. Some places are making it hard to build.
- Solo Female – Everyone can travel, that is the word I preach. Except solo babies, I don’t recommend that. However, I often run into friends and strangers who say things like, “I’d love to do what you do, but I’m a girl.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concern for safety and desire to have a good experience. So insert here The Blonde Abroad & Nomadic Matt, who have done the work and can teach you that not only is it safe, but you can have the time of your life as well. See you out there!
- Jeep – Why not see the country and meet the love of your life by living out of a Jeep? I’ve been inspired by Jake as he does just that, I think you’ll get caught up in the vlog just as I have. If you don’t want to do it but want to continue watching him drive around, support him on his Patreon site.
- Just Start – You have to start somewhere. If you haven’t gleaned any inspiration thus far, perhaps you have to turn deeper into your own desires. Check out Bucket List Journey’s ‘How-To’ on ways to create a list from your own dreams to get you on the trail.
- Understanding – We all just want to be understood. Not everyone can make sense of why a person would want to roam about the earth, somewhat blindly picking directions and wandering. It’s not necessarily a thing that any of us truly understand, but Journey Era puts it into some nice words on his pages.
- Family – Cumbersome, possibly. Impossible? Not true. Often times you’ll hear, “Oh we have kids so we can’t travel.” Well somebody’s doing it and what better way to prepare your little ones to be citizens of the world than to expose them to the rest of it? There’s a wealth of information on the subject and here’s one place to start getting out with the fam.
- Family Safari – Piggybacking on the last one, why not take your family on a safari? Trust me, it’s much nicer to see animals in the wild than at a zoo, and it’s a great learning experience.
- List – This is an epic list and it’s making me want to make one myself. Up until now I’ve taken travel as it comes but this is a great way to be a little forward thinking and really work towards what you actually want. I’m definitely stealing some ideas here, thanks Divergent Travelers.
- Cruise – Later on I’m going to do some interviews and get some feedback on what it’s like to live and work on a cruise ship. I’ve always wanted to work on one but never travel on one…until I heard about Uncruise. Look them up and set sail! I don’t think their boats have sails but all the same, sailing is sailing and I digress.
- Gin School – Did you know you can make it yourself? My world just turned upside down, thanks Retire Early And Travel.
- Museums – Adventure doesn’t always have to be far away. Here’s an idea for checking out museums in a way that you can have new adventures in the same place without going super far.
- Companion Pass – If this story doesn’t convince you to try and get companion passes for flight benefits, nothing will.
- Travel Hacking – I’m a newb so I turn to these guys to help set me on the path for expert travel hacking skills. Sadly, they’re lacking in bow hunting skills.
- Photography – When I look at popular Instagram feeds I always wonder, “Are these people ALWAYS traveling with their own personal photographer?” Now I can honestly tell you that, it’s about to get real. But first, let me take a selfie.
- Journal – You don’t have to be a photographer or even make an image to remember your times traveling. Balance it with spending time writing down your memories. Let Wanderlust give you a tip on how to do it.
- Van Life – I was content living out of my Mazda 3. Until these guys made me want to get a van.
- Instagram – If you’re going to be in any of these cities, you should swing by a good trivia night. I say this because they’re the most Instagrammed cities and I desperately want that to be a trivia question. Let me know if they ever ask it ok?
- Hiking – Sometimes the best way to get off the beaten path is to make your own path like this couple did. Just remember to bring a compass.
- Long Term – How do you go from weekend warrior’ing to living off the land and calling Earth your home? Indie Traveller has the answer.
- Photography – If there is one place on the interwebs that is chock full (I’ve always hated that expression and that’s why I use it, to help myself heal) of inspiring photographs, it’s gotta be 500px. If you haven’t already, spend every waking moment taking it all in.
- Moonshot – Moonshots are to Chris what Spur Trails are to me. Regardless of the terminology, take heed and treat yourself to new paths. Would it be too meta to take moonshine along?
- TV – This program on Netflix called, “Tales By Light” was the sole reason I went to Africa this year. Ok there were a couple reasons but it definitely put me over the edge on deciding to go. I think I even saw a vehicle on safari in Kenya that may have contained the show’s hosts from Season 2. So my driver says.
Frugality/Money & Stuff
- Flights – This Minnesota-based company got me a ticket from Chicago to Iceland and Norway…for only $380. Pay for premium, if you only book one flight a year then the savings speak for themselves. Thrifty traveler for the win.
- Iceland – Most expensive country in the world? No problem. Take this advice and you can have a killer time in a photographer’s paradise of a location.
- Antarctica – Sometimes the cheapest way to travel somewhere is to get a job there. Check these lists of employment opportunities and find yourself working at the bottom of the world. If you don’t want to work so hard and just see cool stuff, then there’s always the option for a cruise.
- Study Abroad – Sometimes you have to get creative with travel. Take out a loan, pick a country and some classes you don’t mind failing and try studying abroad. It’s the best money you never had but spent anyways.
- Save – One approach to travel is not just to seek out the frugal opportunities abroad, but simply to save up enough to do the things you’d like. Here’s some tips on how to squirrel away some savings.
- Volunteering – When you travel you can have a great experience and also positively impact the places you’re going. It’s a win-win for everyone, and here’s one great place to start.
- Teach – English is the language to know if you want to try teaching a language abroad. Many countries are looking for them and word around the water coolers is that it can be a pretty sweet gig. Take a look at this list and see if it’s for you.
- Blog – There are those out there that make a livable income from crafting stories of travel and sharing them with the world. After twelve years of collecting stories I want to share some of them and do just that. Here’s to one such blog that inspires me to work just a little bit harder.
- Accommodation – Early flight or just trying to beat the security lines and save some cash on a stupidly short hotel night, try sleeping in the airport.
- Family – Hotels might not be the best option when you’re traveling as a family. The more the merrier and why not make it even more so with a holiday rental.
- Podcasts – You’ll never be able to get enough, but the ones from Outside Magazine inspire me on the regular.
- Magazine – Additionally, the only magazine I’ve willingly subscribed to in the last five years has also been from Outside Magazine. Oftentimes they have lots of sweet gear and trips that are way out of my budget, but the knowledge gleaned and images within are enough to keep me coming back year after year.
- Cooking – When traveling it’s nice to make things for people, like food. Here’s one that’s more fun to look at than actually make.
- Food – When you travel abroad you’re often looking for local food. I wonder sometimes, do people come to the US for food?
- Comedy – This is the life I’m choosing, and in the world of internet trolls I guess we can all expect to see them from time to time. While I’d never advocate for sending me hate mail…this is a great way to deal with it.
- Toilets – Even the most mundane things are wildly exciting when you are traveling.
- Books – I used to read like a fiend. While traveling it’s also one of the most pleasureable things you can do, though I haven’t read a book in far too long. I’ve only read four of these, and that’s sad. One I think should be on there is Jack Kerouac, “On The Road”. The rest I’m sure are brilliant and I’m going to work on checking them off.
- Tacos – If this is true, then I’m all in. I was blown away by the ONE place I went to in Tijuana, and they told me it got better the deeper in you go. Next stop, Mexico City.
- Americans – Funny the things people traveling to the US notice that the locals don’t even notice they’re doing.
- Film – No joke, I’ve watched many a film…but only 10 on this list. I wish movie rental places were still a thing.
- Autopilot – Technology like this will change the way we travel.
- Games – One pro tip is to always bring a deck of cards with you, or some other way of killing time on long train rides or late hostel nights. Here’s some great game ideas.
- Music – Music is key to great travel. I’m often reminded of the rental car I shared with a German girl that I met at the rental office. We had one cd and we listened to it for a week over and over in that car. It was hilarious and amazing and just talking about it makes me want to go back to Tasmania. Here’s a place to start for a travel playlist.
- Credit Cards – Play the credit card game. I just got my flight from Chicago to Dar es Salaam, to Beirut and back to Chicago for free. Legit.
- SIM Cards – Stay connected, buy local SIM cards. I’ve purchased them in England and had it work through Scotland, Norway and Germany. I’ve picked them up in Tanzania, Iceland, and Lebanon as well. In the olden days before smartphones I did it in Nepal, New Zealand, and India. Highly recommended and this guy says the same.
- Hammock – If you’ve never done it, it’s best to look into how to camp with a hammock.
- Camping – Only thing better than camping is camping for free.
- Couchsurfing – I’m still up in the air about this. It was amazing for me ’06-’11, but in recent years it’s changed. Empty profiles, people charging, unresponsive hosts…I don’t know what happened. But I just stayed with someone in Nairobi and she saved me by finding me a malaria test and meds, so the community is not dead yet. Also you will not get murdered by strangers.
- AirBNB – I like this site as well. Some would prefer it over free options like Couchsurfing but if you think about it…it’s the same thing. Living with strangers only paying to do so. Though as I’ve gotten older I gravitate to this and I’m ok with it. Travel is about experiencing all of it right?
- Warm Showers – Way less weird than it sounds, it’s the Couchsurfing specifically for cyclists. In the last couple years I’ve found this community to be vibrant and amazing and I want to buy a house somewhere popular specifically to host riders myself.
- Survival – In the wild you need skills. At The Art of Manliness you can find such skills, including how to suture a wound.
- Road Trip – The best way to road trip is to live on the road. You’re going to want a good vehicle.
- Hiking – There are groups around the world that hike on the regular and you can join them whenever you want. Check this hiking community to see if there’s something happening near you.
- Community – There are always people looking to put together groups and do things together. Sometimes I split long drives with others from Craigslist Rideshare and I’ve done some wonderful hiking with people on Meetup groups.
- SCAMS – Balls and cups. That’s all I am going to say about this one. Guy is lucky I didn’t push him off the bridge…
- Insurance – You get older, you get wiser. No longer do I think travel insurance is a bad idea.
- Hotels – I stayed at a hotel in Berlin for New Years once and loved it. If you love hotels also, check out this little resource’ola.
- Guides – There are so many good guides here I don’t know where to start.
- Codes – This one is kind of just for fun, it’s codes to all the different airlines. For those times you just had a hankering to know.
- Gear – I LOVE GEAR. That’s half the reason I do anything in life is to get whatever gear comes along with it. Especially backpacks, after reading this I’m thinking of switching models, as I already own a couple Osprey packs.
- Bloggers – You could spend a week checking out all the information these guys have. I believe they are mostly centered around miles and points, when you find that week’s worth of free time why don’t you kick it going through these faces.
- Life Skills – Lots of traveling affordably involves things like credit cards and understanding your credit score is just a good thing to know in general.
- Umbrella – The last time I used an umbrella traveling, it didn’t rain. The time before that, it blew itself inside out and I threw it away. What do you think? Love traveling with umbrellas? Or just get a rainproof jacket?
- Presents – If you can’t travel right now, support someone who is. Here’s a great list of travel centric gifts for your best friends.
- Language – I’ve never used this advice myself as I just rush from country to country and try to pick up whatever of the language I can. However, I could see actually learning one as being a game changer. Maybe 2018 is the year.
- Maps – Maps are friggin’ awesome and on my last roadtrip it took me from Minneapolis to Sacramento before I could find a place that could sell me a decent atlas. Check these out before you go anywhere.
- Clothes – Traveling and working? Some things to keep in mind when deciding what clothes to wear.
- Language – If you’re not sure what languages to learn, here’s a brief overview on what is used and in what countries.
- Goals – This is the list I will hope to be on by the end of this year realistically; even sooner if you ask me when I’m daydreaming. You gotta have dreams.