The Maine Thing: My 22nd State

Guys — I finally went to Maine!

So, I know destination weddings elicit a groan from some guests, but for this travel-and-champagne-addict, it’s a swoon-worthy combination. So when my friend high school friend Liz announced the location for her very own destination wedding, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. It’s a goal of mine to visit all fifty states someday, and with less than half ticked off the list, I do try — and frequently fail — to squeeze in at least one new one per year. Maine has topped the list for years! Turned out that for the summer of 2017, I would finally get there — my twenty-second United State of America.

Maine Road Trip

Maine Road Trip

The wedding was located in Harpswell, Maine, and I originally planned to build a full one or even two week trip around it. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I ended up with just four days — but I was determined to make the most of them. And that involved using as many Maine themed puns as humanely possible.

With my mom as my wedding plus one and travel buddy, I hopped a flight from Philly to Boston, she swooped up with the car from Martha’s Vineyard, and together we headed north.

Maine Road Trip

Maine Road Trip

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

Our first stop, after a short swoop through an art gallery in Wells, was Kennebunkport. This little coastal town is famous for being the vacation destination of the Bush family, and as Martha’s Vineyard residents, we do love our destinations steeped in presidential lore. Unabashedly preppy Kennebunkport is a quintessential East Coast destination I just couldn’t miss.

We kicked off our rainy visit with lunch at the fantastic local favorite Federal Jack’s, overlooking the cloudy harbor. It was incredibly scenic even covered in a coat of gray — I can’t even imagine how quaint it would be on a bright sunny day.

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

After lunch, I was tempted by a tasting at Maine Mead, which is based in Portland but recently opened their Kennebunkport tasting room. It was a nice mid-day pick-me-up, and I ended up buying a bottle of the Lavender Lemonade and the Habanero Lime.

Maine Mead Works Kennebunkport

Maine Mead Works Kennebunkport

Maine Mead Works Kennebunkport

Before heading out of town, we did one lap of the charming town center shops. I treated myself to a pair of Sperry’s tennis shoes and a slice of fudge, classic New England purchases.

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

Kennebunkport Travel Blog

Eventually, we said a reluctant goodbye to Kennebunkport and made our way up to South Freeport to check into our highly anticipated Airbnb. I admit that when I started researching this trip, one of the things that prevented me from extending it was the cost of Maine’s accommodation in the summer.

Prices were shockingly steep, even for fairly nondescript motels in the rural area around the wedding venue. I suppose with a very limited warm weather window, hoteliers have no choice but to make hay while the sun shines — literally. Airbnb to the rescue!

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

For cheaper than even the wedding rate at the local Best Western, we scored this adorable renovated barn on the property of the sweetest local couple. The wife is a clothing designer who imports fabrics from Bali, and the husband teaches Tai Chi lessons in the barn when they don’t have guests. He left us little treats like fresh strawberries and local chocolates every day, and was incredibly helpful in doling out recommendations for the area.

New to the magic of Airbnb? Use my link for $40 off your first booking!

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

South Freeport Maine Airbnb

That night, we hopped back in the car to head to Frontier Café in Brunswick. We were pretty tired from a long day behind the wheel and considered sticking closer to home, but as soon as we arrived at Frontier we knew the twenty minute drive had been well worth it.

This gallery, theater and restaurant was the kind of place I like to think I’d be a regular if I were a Brunswick resident — organic, locally sourced healthy meals, screenings of documentaries and indie films, and shows by local artists. Plus, killer sunset views — and the waitress genuinely thanked me when I asked for no straw in my water (a kindred single-use plastic loather!) It might have been one of my favorite meals in Maine, and there was a lot of competition.

Frontier Restaurant, Brunswick, Maine

Frontier Restaurant, Brunswick, Maine

Frontier Restaurant, Brunswick, Maine

Freeport Maine Travel Blog

The next morning, we woke up bright and early to walk the four minutes from our Airbnb to the Harraseeket Harbor. While the rest of the day would be taken up by bridesmaid duty in Portland, it was nice to kick things off with another peek at charming, small town coastal Maine. The harbor was deserted but for a few fishermen in the early morning hours, though my mom told me when she returned later for lunch the line for lobster was wrapped around the building.

Harraseeket Lobster, South Freeport, Maine

Freeport Maine Travel Blog

This two day wedding extravaganza was special enough to warrant a post of it’s own — so stay tuned for that. For now, we’ll fast forward to our fourth and final day in Maine, which arrived all too quickly.

We were sad to say goodbye to our adorable Airbnb — but I was pretty thrilled to be rocking day-after wedding braid.

Maine Travel Blog

Maine Travel Blog

We’d decided to spend the day in Portland but made a quick detour when we saw a sign for DeLorme mapping, home of Eartha. Eartha is the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe, conveniently located right on our path of travel in Yarmouth, Maine. What travel blogger could possibly pass by without stopping?!

Unfortunately it was a Sunday and so the building was closed — but we managed to admire it just fine from the outside.

Giant Map in Freeport Maine

Next stop, brunch at Hot Suppa. Portland, Maine, much like its West Coast namesake, is known for it’s insanely high quality restaurant scene. We were so hungry we inhaled our beautiful entrees — including a pulled pork breakfast burrito with local peaches, and a fried chicken and biscuit sandwich — before I had the chance to snap a photo.

Bad blogger, but great burrito. So far, Portland was really living up to its reputation, and I can’t recommend Hot Suppa more highly if you’re in the area.

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Next, we drove down to the harbor area to stroll around, do a bit of gift shopping, and get a feel for Maine’s largest city. Portland was nothing like I expected Maine to be — Kennebunkport was more the vision I had in my head for the Pine Tree State (which also, in my opinion, could work on its official state nickname.)

But while Portland was more modern than I expected, even after our short trip I agreed with Lonely Planet assessment of it as “one of the hippest, most vibrant small cities in America.”

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Leaving Portland proper, we headed out on a mission to tick off two final Maine must-dos off our bucket list: blueberry ice cream and lighthouses. While there had been plenty of ice cream opportunities in Kennebunkport, our first two days were pretty chilly — this was really our first beautiful sunny day of exploration.

First up, Bug Light. Bug Light Park was just moments outside Central Portland and offered gorgeous views of the city’s skyline. With kites blowing in the breeze, residents relaxing on quilts and lawn chairs and sailboats dancing in the harbor, it would be hard to paint a more idyllic scene. A World War II Memorial in one corner was a touching tribute.

Portland Maine Travel Blog

Portland Maine Lighthouse

Portland Maine Lighthouse

Next up, Portland Head Lighthouse in Fort Williams Park. Be careful if you’re headed here — though it’s alleged to be the most photographed spot in Maine and shouldn’t be too tricky to find, we almost got tricked by a Google Map error that marked it at a different location in Cape Elizabeth.

Thankfully, we followed our instincts and found the iconic lighthouse, which was every bit as impressive as its reputation promised.

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

And then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, we were on our way back to the New Hampshire border, starting our four-state crawl back to New York.

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Our time in Maine really was fleeting, though we managed to at least glance at several of Southern Maine’s most enticing destinations — charming Kennebunkport, quirky Portland, rustic Harpswell, sweet South Freeport, and crunchy Brunswick. While the major destinations of the North were calling to me — Acadia National Park, I’m dying to camp in you! — I’m quite certain this won’t be my last jaunt to Maine.

Stay tuned for my dispatches from bridesmaid duty in Harpswell!

Philadelphia, The City of Sisterly Love

Philadelphia’s nickname might be The City of Brotherly Love, but since my little sister relocated there for a new job on the Governor of Pennsylvania’s reelection campaign, it’s been known to be as the City of Sisterly Love to me. And this year, after celebrating the Fourth of July with my family in Martha’s Vineyard, I […]

Move to The Bleat! Goat Yoga in Martha’s Vineyard

One of my favorite things about being the in the US for the summer is getting to try out crazy fitness trends. Aqua cycling in a pool? I’m in! Zumba with drumsticks? Sign me up. Hot yoga to hip hop? Literally obsessed (All three of those are real classes in my regular rotation when I can find ’em!)

So imagine my excitement when I read that goat yoga, the latest asana style to sweep the nation, had arrived in Martha’s Vineyard.

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Ian was my bemused partner for this adventure, and as we drove the windy roads up-island on this particularly rainy morning, I hoped the weather wouldn’t divert our goat-date. I was relieved when we arrived to find that the class was being held in a covered farm structure, rain or shine.

As we settled onto our mats, we met our instructor Josey Kirkland, a goat owner and enthusiast, an environmental educator at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary and a yoga teacher for seven years. I was pretty pumped to be practicing outside with our without furry sidekicks, something I’ve come to love on my international travels but rarely find within the US. Josey agrees, teaching both at Native Earth Farm, where we were settling into our sun salutations, and also standard vinyasa classes at Long Point Beach.

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

We attended the first ever edition of Goat Yoga MV, which meant there was a little learning curve for everyone — but mostly for the five baby pygmy goats that attended, most of whom were away for their mothers for the first time. Josey assured us this was a totally natural process, though I admit that the first ten minutes of the class were fairly stressful as the goats darted around looking tense and bleating their little hearts out.

Soon, though, everyone got into the groove. The class was a gentle vinyasa style, perfect for beginners, of which there were many in our session. Familiar asanas were punctuated with the occasional goat nibbling on a big toe, or jumping up on someone’s back or chest for a balancing practice of their own.

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

The goats were a little less interactive than the ones I’d seen in online videos and articles, but I chalked that up to them just needing to warm up to us — most of the goat interaction took place in the final fifteen or so minutes of class. But once they did they were the cutest cuddliest little yogis I’ve ever seen!

I loved that throughout the practice, Josey explained to us why she felt such a connection to goat yoga. The healing power of spending time with animal is no secret, and domestic pets and farm animals alike are often used for therapy — they’re credited with lowering blood pressure, releasing endorphins, and even extending life expectancies. Goat yoga isn’t just a cute Instagram fad (though it’s definitely that too), it’s a way for people to move their bodies, fill their hearts, and remember to smile and be playful throughout their day.

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

After class, there were plenty of time for goat selfies. We had such a good time in this class I wanted to come back the next week, but it was already sold out! Classes are filling up across the country — some studios have waiting lists over one thousand people long — so if you have the chance, don’t hesitate! At $25, it’s about comparable with other yoga classes on Martha’s Vineyard.

Next up: Check out my post on where to practice on Martha’s Vineyard!

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Major fad? Yes. Totally and completely amazing? Double yes!

I get that this is a thing that’s kind of easy to throw shade at, but I had the best time trying out goat yoga. I loved that our instructor highlighted why this is more than just a trend — there’s a restorative power to being around animals, to moving your body, and to being outside. Goat yoga combines all three!

Plus? I got to be on the cover of the MV Times, and that meant my mom had something to put on her refrigerator. So really a win-win for everyone.

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

What’s the craziest fitness class you’ve ever taken?

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Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

Goat Yoga in Martha's Vineyard

#WeArePADIWomen: Interviewing Allison Vitsky Sallmon

Today I’m super excited to announce a new series called #WeArePADIWomen, a collection of stories and secrets from some of the most inspiring women in the scuba diving industry. If you followed Women’s Dive Day coverage in July, you know that there are plenty!

I’m kicking off this series with the wise words of a woman I’ve been lucky enough to share a dive boat with once before, Allison Vitsky Sallmon. Allison is not only a talented professional underwater photographer and PADI Rescue Diver but also a breast cancer survivor who founded Dive Into The Pink, a nonprofit that mobilizes the dive community to raise money for breast cancer research and patient support.

Private Diving Charter San DiegoAllison and I and some of our fave dive buddies!

As a Florida native and resident of Southern California, Allison has always been near the ocean. After twenty years of diving, Allison picked up a camera in 2006 and within a year had purchased a dSLR and started a second career diving and shooting alongside her husband, fellow underwater photographer Andy Sallmon. Today, Allison has a wide portfolio of unique perspectives from around the world. I look at a lot of dive photography and much of it runs together. Allison’s work, I can spot before I see the watermark!

Allison and Andy took me out for a day of diving in San Diego a few summers ago, and I was truly touched by their words of encouragement to an amateur photography enthusiast like myself, their enthusiasm for sharing their knowledge of the industry, and their patience for watching me flail around like a manatee in a 7mm wetsuit for the first time.

Now, over to Allison. Thanks for joining me for this celebration of women underwater!

When did you start diving and what was your motivation for doing so? What eventually inspired you to first pick up a camera?

OK, first of all, you didn’t flail like a manatee. That’s just nonsense. You looked fabulous above and underwater, and the sea lion pups loved you! (Second of all, I dived for 15 years before the camera came into things – I wish I’d started earlier!)

I got my first certification in 1992 in Gainesville, Florida. Diving wasn’t even on my radar. My mom actually gave me the class as a gift – she was planning a family trip to Cozumel, and she wanted a dive buddy. By the time we went to Cozumel six months later, I had done over 100 dives and was signed up for my cave course.

For the camera, at first, I just had a little point and shoot, a cast-off from an ex (if he hadn’t given it to me, I don’t know that I’d ever have started shooting). I was living in Boston at the time, so my first dives with a camera were in cold, green water. I didn’t know what I was doing with it, and that was a tough place to learn. But we took a trip to the Solomon Isands that year, and there were two amazing photographers on the boat. They inspired me, and by the end of that trip, it was all over. I was doomed to sacrifice my time, income, and sanity at the altar of underwater photography.

I am ashamed to say that I don’t log my open circuit dives, but I know I’ve done more than 2500-3000. I do log my closed circuit dives – the last time I looked, I had about 200 hours. I’d like to get more time on closed circuit, but it isn’t practical for every dive I do, so it’s incremental.

#WearePADIwomen

Oh man, I regret not logging my dives more religiously too! How did diving go from a hobby to a career for you?

Well, in fairness, I have a day job as a scientist that has nothing to do with diving. It’s been helpful because it ensures that I’m financially independent and can pick and choose the work I do in the dive industry, giving me the luxury to accept only those projects about which I’m passionate.

It’s been gradual – I’ve always enjoyed writing (my undergraduate degree was in communications), and that enthusiasm and a solid work ethic helped me get into editorial work and develop a reputation (hopefully a good one!). As for Dive into the Pink, it was a bit of an accident. I thought I’d run a single charter to raise some money, and it snowballed from there once we saw how enthusiastic people were about it.

Have you faced any obstacles in your diving or photography career? How did you overcome them? What was your greatest challenge getting started in this industry?

The biggest obstacle for me is TIME! Juggling my day job, editorial work, Dive into the Pink, and regular (weekly or more) local California sanity dives with a marriage (even to a pro shooter in the dive industry) and home can be tricky. It’s a delicate balance, and I’ll admit, I have a tendency to take on too much. I am trying to get better about spacing things out in a way that allow for down time. Sadly, the last few transpacific trips I’ve taken, I’ve been almost as excited about the flight as the diving because of the opportunity for uninterrupted sleep.

I feel you — I always look forward to my long flights as a time to rest! What do you feel are the most important challenges and opportunities facing women in diving?

There are very few challenges for women now, I think — they exist, but they are really the exception more than the rule. We are our own worst enemies; in my opinion, women have a tendency to be hard on themselves in a way men aren’t. We judge ourselves (and compare ourselves with others) to an extreme on everything – intelligence, success, appearance… I think this is true of women in all fields, and it’s a shame. We need to support and encourage each other, even when it isn’t easy or comfortable to do, because nine times out of ten, the person you’re encouraging isn’t being so kind to themselves.

Certainly, individual women have always been recognized for their impact on diving, ocean conservancy, scientific research, and media, but I think there’s more awareness of women’s impact than ever before – I think the opportunities that are currently available have perhaps always been there, but there’s increased visibility, in other words.

There are so many aspiring underwater photographers out there! What should shutterbugs hoping to follow in your professional footsteps have on his or her resume?

Hard, hard work is more important than any resume – exceed deadlines, don’t make excuses, and turn in great stuff. There is too much competition to approach this any other way. Constantly look to grow and improve — ask for criticism and learn from the advice you get.

Also, have a realistic attitude. The number of photography jobs is finite and the money isn’t exactly amazing or consistent. The vast majority of people who do this juggle shooting with a day job – some in the dive industry (sales representatives, for example) and some, like me, in completely unrelated fields.

Perhaps most importantly, be judicious about giving away work in exchange for personal “exposure.” Your gear, travel, and time is worth a lot, and there should always be some give and take involved when you’re providing images to a commercial business. If you ask for nothing in exchange for your work, it sends a powerful message that you think your work is worth nothing.

PADI Women Interview

PADI Women Interview

I know you too started out with a point and shoot camera. Do you have any tips for divers just looking to improve their underwater photography skills, especially those that might feel their equipment is lacking?

Well, you’ve heard about the number one peeve of photographers, right? You have a beautiful photo displayed somewhere, and some buffoon walks up to you and says, “Wow, you must have a nice camera!” In other words, amazing images come from the shooter, not the equipment. Sure, you can be limited by your equipment, but you should be able to squeeze a hell of a lot out of it before that happens.

First, take a class from a pro who has a documented success record – publications, for instance – and preferably a private class where you’ll spend time in the classroom AND water. Then, take what you’ve learned and practice, practice, practice. If you aren’t in the position to travel constantly (and the vast majority of us aren’t), find the best option for diving near your home, and go for it. Nothing beats time in the water for improving your skills.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

As a photographer, I recently had a photo displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as part of the Windland Smith Rice photography competition. Of all the times I’ve been lucky enough to place in a competition, this win and exhibit was very meaningful because I visited that museum a lot as a little girl and marveled up at the blue whale suspended from the ceiling!

It’s not as showy, but I’m as or maybe more proud of what we’re accomplishing with Dive into the Pink. Watching people respond to the idea of diving for a cause with joy and gratitude has been rewarding in a way I never could have imagined.

What’s been your most special dive?

My most memorable in-water experience took place near home a few years ago. We were offshore, free diving near kelp paddies to photograph the life beneath them, and a blue whale surfaced and descended right in front of me. For a moment, I was eye to eye with the largest animal ever to live on the earth. And it was AMAZING!

#WearePADIwomen

Is there a piece of dive gear or accessory you can’t live without?

My drysuit. I have a backup for when my primary’s in the shop. With all the California diving we do (and given my wussiness), this is one thing I can’t do without. (I hate to insert branding here. But I have DUIs, and I love DUI! No brand I’ve tried fits a woman’s body better.)

I know we share the belief that divers are some of the greatest ambassadors of our oceans! What are some small ways those reading today can make a difference, divers or not?

Two things I try to be religious about are avoiding single-use plastic items and keeping consumption of fish (especially non-sustainable fish) to a bare minimum. These are easy things we can all do to make a difference.

I so admire the work you’ve done with Dive Into The Pink. As a cancer survivor, how did diving or the ocean bring you peace during a difficult time in your life?

When I went through my treatment, I was living in Boston, and it was wintertime. I hadn’t gotten my drysuit certification yet, so local diving wasn’t a terribly appealing option. I had some issues with my white blood cell counts getting very low, so although I felt fine and was able to work during most of the process, I avoided remote travel. What I did do was pore over dive magazines, admire images (and begin to notice who had taken my favorites), and dream about the places I’d go when I was finished.

I’ll never say that I was lucky to have faced cancer, but certainly, it has enabled me to view my life from a different perspective and with a little more of a “what the hell, let’s try (insert harebrained scheme)” attitude.

#WearePADIwomen

What advice do you have for new divers, or those who might be nervous to get started?

Give it a try before you get scared off! I loved my pool sessions, but I was freakin’ terrified before I descended for my first checkout dive. I was practically in tears, and I came very close to getting out of the water and going home. But once my head was under the surface, it was all over for me.

There are lots of technical diving images in the media, and there’s tons of hype about intense diving/training or gear, but this sport is very personal. Diving is what you make it, and it is perfectly acceptable not to pursue extremes in diving. Make sure you are comfortable and enjoying yourself, make sure that your skills are solid, and then have fun. Be true to yourself, and don’t succumb to pressure.

Do you have any words of inspiration for women in particular seeking a career in this industry?

The same words I’d give anyone – woman or man – in any field. A solid work ethic is critical. The dive industry looks like a big vacation from the outside, but I have never come across a group of people who are more dedicated or who work harder. Get the training and skills you need, be authentic, be honest and modest about your accomplishments, and keep at it. Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” This applies triply to those hoping to make a name for themselves in diving. Exaggeration and ego will only take most people so far before others see through it.

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been everywhere but I’m sure that’s not true! What’s that big dive or trip that’s still at the top of your bucket list?

Ha! I don’t remotely feel as if I’ve been everywhere! I still haven’t been to the Galapagos, and that’s obviously on the list. I haven’t been diving in any polar areas, clearly on the list. Never dived the Azores, South America, the South Island of New Zealand, the south or west coast of Australia, British Columbia, Alaska, Washington state, North Carolina…. You know, I have a very long list, and it gets longer every year — and it doesn’t include the hundreds of places I’d like to return to!

What are you working on now? Where will your next adventure take you?

Fall/early winter is our key time to work on local stock images and stories, and our weekends are booked solid with South and Central California diving until the end of the year. We are fortunate enough to have some remote assignment trips for for 2018, but I’ve always found that it’s better not to speak about those trips in detail beforehand – it jinxes conditions!

For Dive into the Pink, we have a Pink (great white) Shark trip to Guadalupe in August, and we’ll hold several California-based Pink Charters and our annual online auction (including amazing trips, gear from companies like Scubapro, Fourth Element, DUI/OMS, and Shearwater, as well as beautiful apparel and jewelry) in October. After that, who knows? But it will definitely involve being in the water 🙂

PADI Women Interview

PADI Women Interview

This post is brought to you by PADI as part of the PADI AmbassaDiver initiative. Read my latest ramblings on the PADI blog!

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Years ago, I watched the documentary Taking My Parents to Burning Man, and I thought, um… hell no. Burning Man is a lot of things, but an experience I wanted to share with my mom or my dad was not one of them.

However, years later, things changed — sort of. My friend Kristin was visiting me in my hometown of Albany, New York, and she really hit it off, as I expected she would, with both my mom and her fiancé Miller. Kristin is a Central Tennessee native and had hosted me for my first Bonnaroo, which music maven Miller had been green with envy over. Kristin and my mom bonded over the fact that they both married former housepainters who now love renovating their old houses, and Miller jokingly offered to help paint Kristin and her husband’s place if they’d host him for Bonnaroo someday.

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Except, it wasn’t really a joke. Kristin loved the idea, and we all vowed to reunite at Bonnaroo 2017. When friends raised their eyebrows at the idea that I was heading to a festival with parents in tow, I realized that it was a fairly unusual arrangement. But I wasn’t nervous in the slightest — after all, Kristin’s whole family attends most years!

As the sun set on the final night of the festival, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with how it all turned out. Intrigued by the idea of doing the same? Read on for ideas on how to make it the best experience possible!

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

1. Stay Offsite

Unless you all grew up camping, or your parents are super hardcore, you might wish to ease into your family festival-ing by staying offsite for the first one. We were lucky — we had the world’s greatest hosts in Kristin and Scott, who live nearby in said beautiful old Victorian they’re currently renovating.

But otherwise, we would have definitely opted for a hotel or an Airbnb (get $40 off your first stay using my coupon code) over camping. Normally you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming to stay offsite for a festival — but in this case, creature comforts are well worth it to set skeptical or skittish first time festival goers at ease.

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

2. Bring Buddies

In our particular case, this was kind of a given — Miller was really the driving force behind wanting to go to Bonnaroo for my mom, and we were the guests of one of my best blogging buddies, so we really had a built in group. And it was perfect!

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Having a group meant that we were free to break off into various combinations throughout the weekend — at times I went off with my mom and Miller, other moments they were off on an adventure and I was hanging with Kristin or another friend, and other sets still I was on my own and they were hanging with the rest of our crew! Being in a group meant that everyone had plenty of breathing room, and we all got to do what we wanted to do with minimal compromising.

If you love the idea of taking one of your parents to a festival but are worried it might be too much pressure one-on-one, put a group together. Whether it’s one of your best friends and a parent of theirs that you know yours would click with (my college best friend and I infamously set our moms up on a friend date, and now they adore each other!) or a group of family friends that you know your mom or dad would love to rock out with all weekend, festivals are truly a more-the-merrier kind of situation, especially in this case.

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

3. Plan a Few Other Adventures

Typically, when I’m at a festival, I’m totally immersed and don’t come up for air until it’s time for the decompression party. I knew that would be a little intense for my mom, and so I was thrilled when we paused for a morning to go for a walk in a nearby state park.

Don’t be afraid to take a little time out of your busy set schedule to do something you think your mom or dad might love in the area. Yes, stopping to do an architecture tour of Palm Springs when you’re itching to get to the festival grounds might be a bit of a compromise — but come on, how cool is that your dad wanted to go to Coachella?

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

Manchester Tennessee

4. Indulge Accordingly

Again, back to the compromise. Frankly, Bonnaroo has been on the tamer scale of my festival experiences overall — even for my first ‘Roo, I was staying offsite and I was super into the health and fitness aspects of the festival, and I had an absolute blast even while practicing some serious moderation.

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

But regardless, even if my first Bonnaroo had been a wild explosion of hedonism and bad decisions, I would have put a lid on it when showing my mama and her man around. Yes, of course, we had a few drinks — our hosts keep the world’s best stocked home bar, after all — but I kept the all night benders and doing shots off the bar for another trip, thank you very much. It’s not that my mom doesn’t know I party — the cat is very much out of that bag — or that she doesn’t like to have a good time herself. It’s just that there’s a time and a place for everything and it’s more fun to stay more or less on the same level.

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

5. Make a Plan — And Stick To It

Frankly, this is good advice for any festival. That said, if your friends don’t show up at the pre-planned meeting time for Tomorrowland, you’re likely to shrug your shoulders and go off and have a good time. If you don’t show when you’re supposed to meet your mom, you’re so getting grounded! 

Okay just kidding — I’m assuming you’re past that point — but chances are she won’t take it as lightly as some of your friends might. And again, I’m guessing that in this scenario, you’re the festival savvy one, and your ma is probably just getting used to the idea. In Bonnaroo’s case, cell phones rarely work well on The Farm. Be a good festival guide and meet up at the Food Truck Oasis when you say you’re going to.

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

6. Think It Through First

Really evaluate if your parent is going to be down for this adventure. At Bonnaroo and Burning Man, there’s a lot of nudity (top half only for the former, full monty for the latter). At Tomorrowland and Electric Daisy Carnival, there’s probably going to be a lot of drugs (and, uh, electronic dance music, which some might find even more offensive). At Coachella or Lollapalooza, you’re likely to battle crazy crowds (and not, believe it or not, of other parent child combos).

But that’s not to put you off — most festivals I’ve been to have been more multi-generational and welcoming-to-all than I ever would have imagined, and you might find yourself surprised at how easy-going and open-minded the people that made you can really be. A lot of my friends commented that they could never go to a festival with their mom or dad even though they loved the idea; I think in a lot of cases they might be selling their parents short. If going to festivals has brought you joy and happiness, it might do the same for them too! And how cool would it be to share that?

If you’re unfamiliar with a festival and wondering how dad-friendly it might be, check if they have family camping or resources geared towards guests with young children — that should be a pretty good indicator of how welcoming an environment you can expect.

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

2017 Bonnaroo In Review

From dancing in the silent disco to riding the ferris wheel to singing along on the mainstage to watching the worlds of my family and friends collide, Bonnaroo with my mom and soon-to-be stepdad was an experience I’ll never forget.

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Here’s to the next family adventure!

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Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

Bringing My Mom to Bonnaroo

I received a media pass to attend Bonnaroo. All other expenses were my own. All non-selfie shots that I’m in are likely courtesy of the talented Camels and Chocolate!

‘Roo Take Two! A Bonnaroo 2017 Festival Recap

I think we’re all pretty clear at this point on the fact that I’m obsessed with festivals. So it should come as no surprise that when my girl Kristin invited me back to Tennessee for my second Bonnaroo, I said yes in a bass beat. Much of the experience was the same: we stayed at Kristin’s […]

Planning a Trip with the Pinterest of Iceland: A Review of Travelade

This post was brought to you by Travelade.

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“Hey friends! Heading to Helsinki and can’t wait to hear your tips on where to eat, stay and play…”

How often do you see posts like this on your Facebook feed? Maybe my friends are particularly travel-obsessed, but I see them all the time. In fact, I post them pretty dang often myself!

Or, as a blogger, I belong to several blogging groups, where, if it’s within the rules, I often post queries like, “Who’s been to Brunei? Please post links to your blog posts below!” That’s actually a great system for getting straight to the blog posts I might struggle to pick out of Google search results, but it’s not really a solution available to the general public – and I’m sure there are plenty of bloggers who aren’t replying to my queries.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Enter Travelade

Travelade was designed to curate the web’s best content on the magical island nation of Iceland – and, eventually, beyond.

In addition to blog posts and articles by top travel publications and prolific bloggers, Travelade publishes Travelade Originals, penned by their staff of travel-loving locals. (Are you a blogger who’s been to Iceland? You can submit your own articles for possible inclusion – mine are in there too!) There are also reviews of tours offered by high-quality, pre-screened operators, which you can purchase directly through the site. The team behind Travelade has worked at Linkedin and several other startups and tech ventures, making them well versed in the social media world.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Reminiscent of Pinterest, Travelade allows you to search for topics based on a series of flavor filters such as “Hidden Gems,” “Extreme Adventures,” “Foodies,” “Urban Explorers,” and my personal favorite “You Can’t Make This Up.”

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Those categories will then be broken down into even more specific sub-groups, if you really want to dig deep into a particular topic, like camping in the Budget Friendly flavor. You save your favorite stories to Your WanderList, where you can reference them at a glance on the road.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

The Best of Iceland

As my long-time readers know, I fell in love with Iceland on a seven day 2012 trip. Iceland was the darling of the travel world even back then, and so one might assume I’d exhausted my own attention span for Iceland-related content. Yet I lost myself in the addictive articles Travelade kept recommending! Here a few of my favorites that had me itching to book a return trip:

• 6 Destinations in Iceland Where You Can Guarantee a Great Instagram Shot: A cheat sheet of the most photogenic spots in a country where you can’t seem to point a camera in the wrong direction? Yes please!

• The Best 5k Running Routes in Downtown Reykjavik: I’m always trying to fit in some fitness when I travel, so I loved this guide to Reykjavik’s most scenic running routes. Too cold to be outside? Another Travelade Original tackled the country’s best gyms.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

• Surf Guide: Iceland: Am I willing to brave the cold waters? No. Am I fascinated by those who do? Yes. I would love to chat up an Icelandic surfer on my next trip!

• Inside The Volcano: One of the top tours that’s on my list for a return trip to Iceland

• Tourist Trap or Must-See? Debating Iceland’s Blue Lagoon: I loved hearing both sides of an experience that I definitely filed under “must see.”

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

• Iceland Airwaves Survival Guide: Iceland + a festival? No surprise, it’s on my list.

• Icelandic Movies to Watch During Your Trip: As a certified cine-phile, I love watching local films while on the road!

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Your Trip

Heading to Iceland? Clearly, I can’t recommend Travelade highly enough to discover personalized recommendations of original and curated content. I only wish it was available for more destinations (am I the only one who finds Google to be a terrible tool for finding great blog content?)

And I might just be in luck – Travelade does plan to expand around the world, eventually.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Seeing how popular of a destination Iceland has become, I have had my hesitating moments of wondering if I ever will go back. That’s a pretty wild thought considering I’ve always ranked Iceland as one of my top five favorite countries in the world! Our family vacation there was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

And my time on Travelade opened my eyes to the fact that there are still a million hidden gems in that tiny country that are waiting to be discovered! I hope I don’t have to wait till long until I get to search for a few of them, again.

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Iceland Travel Planning Travelade Review

Have you been to Iceland? Are you planning a trip there? What resources did you use to plan?

This post was brought to you by Travelade. As usual, I maintain full editorial control and as always all thoughts, opinions, and walks down memory lane are my own.