And autumn grows, autumn in everything.

Here in South Carolina, in the middle of November, it’s finally starting to feel like fall. The leaves have turned rich, warm hues and begun to cover the ground. The sun sets earlier, staining the sky with oranges and pinks, and darkness sets in deeper and longer. The air is getting cold, and after a particularly miserable summer of intense heat and humidity, this change is more than welcome.

Fall has always been a time of reflection to me. The abrupt and obvious transience of nature seems to reflect something in myself. Or, something in life itself. Joe Wheeler once said, “there is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” Maybe it’s because it reminds us to do the same; shed whatever parts of ourselves may have died between equinoxes, and get ready to be born again.

Here are some photos of fall in Clemson, South Carolina. tumblr_nf5i67cnuI1qcdn3uo3_1280tumblr_nf5i67cnuI1qcdn3uo1_1280 tumblr_nf5i67cnuI1qcdn3uo4_1280tumblr_nf5i67cnuI1qcdn3uo2_1280tumblr_nf5i67cnuI1qcdn3uo5_1280

Wandering Washington

 The Pacific Northwest is my favorite part of the country. Just flying into Seattle-Tacoma airport reminded me why.

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I went to Washington State to visit my best friend, Lindsay. Lindsay and I met in first grade, and over the years she’s come to feel more like a sister than a friend. She moved across the country two years ago to go to college, and I only see her every several months. After taking the bus from SeaTac to Bellingham, I saw her waiting at the bus stop, got off with a big, stupid smile on my face, and ran to hug her. On the walk to her house, it was warm in the best way (not like sticky Carolina heat) and it felt like no time had passed at all.

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After getting settled, we headed to Lindsay’s favorite place, Larrabee State Park. We flew up long, winding roads with Lindsay’s boyfriend, Nick, driving and Lindsay’s roommate, her boyfriend and I squished in the back seat. We laid our heads back over the top of the head rests so all we could see were the tops of the trees and sky. Once we got there, we walked down a trail and over some rocks to get to the edge of the water, the Bay of Bellingham. It’s beautiful, clean, and wild. It was warm and the sky was clear.

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Lindsay being hella casualimage

A couple of days later, Nick, Lindsay, and I cross the border into Canada to visit Vancouver. My friend Kate from Ireland, who I met in Biarritz back in 2011, was there working for the summer and it’s a pretty short drive. Or rather, it should be a short drive. We didn’t bring a gps… go figure. But! We got there eventually. We went downtown and it was a great time. The next morning we headed back to Bellingham with massive hangovers and a couple belongings lost in battle. The only pictures I have seem to be fitting for the shit show that was our trip:

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Love Kate! Such a sweet, fun girl.
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Next stop on the Bellingham tour was a state park called Whatcom Falls. Again, it felt wild and unadulterated and gorgeous in the same way that so much of the Pacific Northwest does.

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My trip ended with my summer not far behind it. I couldn’t have asked a better way to end a great season of travel than with my favorite person in my favorite place. And now it’s back to just daydreaming of far away places for me.

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A Perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon

It was a sunny, 70 degree day in the middle of May on my perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. Well, almost perfect – the thought of it being my last day in the city occasionally crept in and made me feel nostalgic for every passing second. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Portland.

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My day began at 10 am with cups of English breakfast tea and brunch at the Veritable Quandry. I had the blackened catfish with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and ate every single bite in minutes flat. The meal was well worth the slightly heavy price tag on it. The VQ is known for their signature bloody mary with beet infused vodka. It is a perfect morning pick-me-up and complement to brunch.

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After brunch, I strolled along the Tom C. McCall waterfront park, right on the Willamette river, toward the famous Portland Saturday Market. The vast market is filled with local artisan vendors, delicious smelling food carts, and street performers.

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When I was done wandering through every corner of the market, I headed to the Portland Art Museum, the 7th oldest museum in the United States. The expansive gallery showcases art from ancient times to modern day, from Asia to the Northwest U.S. Their impressive contemporary and modern art collection is what I spent most of my time exploring.

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After I’d had my fill of art, I decided to visit Washington Park. The park holds two gardens: Rose and Japanese. The roses had yet to bloom, but the Japanese Garden was spectacular. It is considered to be the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.

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By this point, it was 6 pm and I was more than ready for dinner. I had heard good things about the restaurant The Observatory and made my way to the Montavilla neighborhood to try it out. Dinner started off with the unbelievably delicious cheese platter, which comes with a variety of cheeses, bread, roasted garlic, house cured bacon, fresh fruit, and red wine caramel. For my entree, I chose the grilled salmon with sundried tomato pesto. I was also able to try the cioppino with clams, mussels, oysters, and halibut, and it was fantastic. This restaurant is casual but cool, with a tattooed staff and chic interior design, and serves truly exceptional food.

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I’d say I had a perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. This city quickly became my favorite one in the states, and I know I will be spending many more Saturdays here in the future.

Have you ever had a perfect Saturday in Portland? What are you’re favorite things to do in the city? Leave a comment and let me know!

Shaky Knees and Walking Boots

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This past weekend was the second annual Shaky Knees Music Festival in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. And it was fucking awesome.

I went with my cousin, CiCi, who lives about an hour north of Atlanta. I also factured my ankle the week before, so my orthopedic walking boot was my hot 2k14 festival season fashion trend.

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Me and CiCi on day 1

Day 1:
The National headlined day 1 and were really good! It was a surprisingly high energy show from the long-time band and their 40-something front man. Still, my Day 1 highlight was definitely FOALS. They came on at 6 o’clock, just as it began to pour down rain. They sounded absolutely amazing and their set was so much fun. CiCi had never heard the band before and they were still one of her favorite acts from the whole festival. That should tell you something about just how awesome they were! We also saw American Aquarium, Sleeper Agent, The Whigs, Man Man, The Dropkick Murphys, Band of Skulls, Cage The Elephant (SO GOOD), and Spoon.

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FOALS

Day 2:
Modest Mouse (one of my favorite bands in the world – I even have a tattoo of a title to one of their songs) headlined day 2.  Seeing them live felt so surreal; the crowd was insane, and they were every bit as good as I imagined them to be (and that is completely incredible). I’m going to remember that show for a long, long time. We also saw Gregory Alan Isakov (he and his accompanying band were great – gave me chills!), Toyko Police Club, Dawes, Lord Huron, Conor Oberst, Portugal. The Man, and The Replacements. Oh, and shout out to King Of Pops: I will dream about their Arnold Palmer popsicle for the rest of my days.

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Modest Mouse

Day 3:
We finally got a break from the rain, but the sun was relentless. Here in the south, it feels like we’ve skipped right over spring. It was HOT. To properly finish off Shaky Knees 2014, I came equipped with mini liquor bottles tucked inside my boot to get through security. I broke them out during Iron & Wine, who were good but I was disappointed with the sound (the bass was WAY too loud and vocals/guitar/banjo too quiet), and had a strong buzz going by the time the sun started to set and it was time for the band I was most excited for to play: Local Natives. They. Were. Awesome. Like, so, so good. This band is so talented and makes consistently great music AND they  killed it live. I’ve thought that Local Natives is one of the best bands out there today for a while, and their performance cemented that opinion into my mind. Also on day 3 we saw Deer Tick, Jason Isbell, Trampled By Turtles, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (LOVED), Mason Jennings, Blitzen Trapper, and ended with The Alabama Shakes.

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The weekend was full of good vibes and great music at Shaky Knees. I liked every single band I saw perform, and loved several. It was such an awesome experience and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Leave a comment letting me know what you thought of Shaky Knees if you were there, or whatever you want!

10 Simple Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Let’s face it: traveling on a budget is hard. All of the everyday expenses can and will add up really quickly. Below is a list of a few simple tips to stretch your budget so you can spend more time focusing on what really matters: all of the experiences from your travels!

1. Be Wary of ATMs

Most ATMs in foreign countries charge anywhere from $2-$5 and your home bank typically charges you between 1%-3% of the amount of your total transaction. Let’s say, for example, you withdraw $60 from an ATM. Your bank charges a 2% transaction fee and there is a $3 ATM charge. You would in total be charged $75. Now let’s say you were to take out $20 three separate times over the period of a day, equaling $60. This would end up costing you $87. It is smarter to take out all of the cash that you need for the day (or however much you feel comfortable with) at one time to avoid racking up fees. Keep in mind those numbers aren’t including a foreign exchange rate, which can end up costing you even more. A good way to avoid these fees all together is asking your bank whether they have any partner banks set up where you will be traveling. Remember – always inform your bank before you travel to foreign countries to avoid setting up red flags which can lead to having your account frozen.

2. Take Free Walking Tours

Most popular tourist destinations offer free walking tours. With walking tours, you get to see all of the can’t-miss sites as well as back roads, and hidden gems. They are generally hosted by locals with a genuine love for their city. You get an authentic taste of your destination as well as lots of interesting historical information and fun facts. Afterwards, you are welcome to tip whatever you feel is appropriate for the quality of the tour.

3. Travel by Train

When traveling between countries or large areas, trains are your best friend. They’re a lot cheaper than air travel and a preferred method of many seasoned travelers. Train travel is also rewarding in that you are able to see landscapes, country sides, and villages that you would have otherwise skipped right over. You can score train deals by getting an InterRail pass.

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[View from train window; somewhere in eastern Europe]

4. Avoid Taxis

As you probably know, taxis can be crazy expensive and many a driver has been known to boost that meter up whenever possible. Avoid taxis by knowing bus schedules and routes and picking a hotel or hostel in a good location for walking. If you absolutely must take a taxi, share with someone else (only if you feel comfortable, of course) and split the fare. Uber and Lyft are also a great options if available to the city or country you’re in.

5. Haggle with Street Vendors

Some of the best souvenirs come from street vendors and a great perk to this is that you can haggle on the price. It’s easy to do – let the vendor know that you are interested but can’t pay the asking price. The vendor wants to make the sell and they will most likely bring the price down if they can. My personal favorite souvenirs are the city maps I’ve collected country by country. A great way to score some memorabilia on your trip for free.

6. Look into Travel Cards

Many tourist destinations offer travel card packages. These cards can offer discounts on transportation and free or reduced entrance into many of the city’s largest tourist attractions. A simple Google search can help you find out whether the city you plan to visit has one of these packages available.

7. Stay at Hostels

Despite what the horror movie might lead you to believe, most hostels are clean, safe, budget friendly, and will have a super friendly, helpful and multilingual staff. Most come with safes to lock up your valuables and many offer private rooms for couples or those who just don’t want to share a room. Hostels are also a great place to meet fellow travelers and are especially recommended if you’re traveling solo. Hostelworld.com is a great resource to find and book the perfect hostel for you!

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[Central Backpack King Hostel in Budapest, Hungary]

8. Be Cautious of Phone Charges

Phone charges can really add up quickly. You can incur hundreds of dollars in charges if you’re not careful. One option is to set up an international plan with your cell phone provider before you leave. For example, AT&T offers the “World Traveler Plan” where you get a set amount of texts and data and calls cost a few cents per minute. However, if you plan to stay in a country for a long period of time, it’s usually cheaper to get a prepaid phone (you can find them for less than $20) and a re-loadable calling card.

9. Check Out Local Grocery Stores

While it’s great to experience another culture’s cuisine, eating every meal at a restaurant is a sure-fire way to blow your budget. Buying a baguette and some cheese to eat for lunch instead of going out will end up saving you loads, and grocery stores can serve as a cultural experience as well!

10. Steer Clear of Tourist Traps

A good rule of thumb is that the more touristy a place is the more expensive it will be, and also the less authentic. Restaurants and bars tend to be the biggest culprits. A good way to avoid this is to ask the hostel or hotel staff or to look up reviews. Also, avoid places in major tourist hot-spots and with menus in a million different languages.

Traveling on a budget can be difficult, but it is possible. Keeping these tips in mind can help to make it a little easier.  Happy budget friendly travels and feel free to leave your best money saving travel trips in a comment below!