Your Small, Rural Hometown: A Travel Guide

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Thought Catalog

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Upon Arrival

  • Get picked up at the airport in the nearest big city. Spend the entire ride back to your hometown listening to your parents explaining how the new Walmart is ruining everything. (To show you’re listening, periodically pepper in useful phrases like, “Big box stores are the worst” and “It’s a tough landscape for local businesses”).
  • Survey refrigerator, freezer, and pantry as soon as you get to your parents’ house. It’s important to get your bearings and determine how much things have changed in your absence.
  • Drop your suitcase off in your childhood bedroom, which still has the wallpaper you chose when you were 6 and the Daniel Radcliffe poster you chose when you were 15 (or, if you were born in the 80s, sub Daniel Radcliffe out for Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell).
  • Frantically text any friends who are also visiting or never…

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10 Rules For Startup Bloggers

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Thought Catalog

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If you’re like me, then you have a blog that you absolutely adore. For now it’s a hobby, but secretly, you hope it catches. You hope billions of people take your words as scripture, and you hope to leave a legacy in this cluttered cyberspace.

When I started my blog, Black Millennial Musings, I knew it would be successful. I felt that I finally got it right. And so far, so good. After only two months, I’ve reached 11,000 page views from 7,000 people. My WordPress followers are nearing 600, and I’m beginning partnerships with start-up media houses.

But the minor successes I’ve seen have less to do with prowess, and more to do with failure. I launched a blog in 2012, and though it had a modest following, it didn’t connect. It was sloppy and poorly executed. I deleted it after a year.

I published on other outlets…

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Never Let Numbers Define Who You Are

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Thought Catalog

You are more than numbers formed using calculations and logic. You are not just some tiny dot on a graph or a conclusion to be drawn. You are heartfelt laughter during a Friday night out with your best friends. You are the tears streaming down your face, emotionally stripped and raw from a breakup; and just as equally the tears of joy when you are overwhelmed by the presence of God on a Sunday morning.

You are more than the number flashing across the scale or the inch where the measuring tape meets when pulled snugly around your waist. You are your favorite pair of jeans that hug you in all of the right places and an old, worn-in t-shirt that is softer than the finest cashmere.

You are more than the countless number of magazines and advertisements screaming that you’re not good enough just the way that you are…

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The 30 Most Practical Things I’ve Learned From Traveling Around The World

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Thought Catalog

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1. Before you leave the country, call your bank to tell them the dates you will be traveling, and the countries you will be traveling to, including layovers. That way your card isn’t immediately canceled once you try to withdraw money or buy a muffin in the Dubai airport.

2. Take out plenty of cash once you get where you’re going. Stash it all over you. In your daypack. In your wallet. In a hiking boot. In a hat. Make sure you don’t misplace it, but this way you will always have cash in case something is stolen or lost.

3. Don’t share cab rides with strangers from airports. We’ve all seen Taken.

4. When you first book your trip, book a hostel in the city you’re flying into for the first two nights. This will give you time to get your bearings, to read over your guidebook…

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The Issue of the “Female Traveler”

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This is the Beginning

Everyone, I have a confession to make:

I am a woman, and I am a traveler. (There’s a lot more to me than these two things, but let’s just start here for now.)

Given those two pieces of information, you could begin to make any number of assumptions about me and my lifestyle. Some of them might be correct, and some might be miles off target. The most painfully obvious assumption of all is that I am a Female Traveler. It almost seems too silly even to mention. Of course I’m a Female Traveler. This is the category that all feminine backpackers, road-trippers, and vagabonders find themselves lumped into. There are endless guide books, nonfiction essay collections, memoirs and novels dedicated to and starring women who travel, either in groups or on their own. Within the Travel section of a bookstore, you’ll find a nice little niche devoted to Female…

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Ice Caves- A Polar Vortex Road Trip

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Shalee Wanders.

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While a majority of people in the northern United States are hunkered down in their cozy homes to escape the chilling winter, I decided to take a different approach. With over 90% of the Great Lakes frozen and the tales of awesome ice caves it was time to take advantage of the negative degree weather and show people that just because it is bitterly cold doesn’t mean you have to lay around and wait for spring. Who knows, at this rate it may never come.

The next thing you know, Kayla and I are shoving snowboards, snow pants, cameras and even bathing suits into the back of my car. We had no plans, but being the middle of winter in the dead north we knew we could easily find cheap places to sleep. We knew the ice caves were a must, but other than that it was fair game for…

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The vitals for happy travels…

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1. My pillow. The best $10 Ikea investment I have ever made.  Its a little piece of home that makes sleeping that much easier.

2. My trusty “well used” iPod.  This bad boy has been through breakups, baths (yes, its fallen in a few times), moving, college and work.  Its 4 years old, connects automatically to wifi in Vancouver International, Toronto Pearson, Chicago’s O’Hare and Edmonton International and has the oddest combination of opera, country, rock&roll, hip hop, blues and indie music that most people have no idea what’s going on after 10 minutes of listening.

3. Some good reads!  I find it impossible to just sit on the plane and listen to the mash ups I have accumulated on my iPod.  Something to read is definitely necessary.  The latest trip included “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout and “A Train in Winter” by Caroline Moorehead.  Both truly…

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