Share on Pinterest

I'd been to Seattle three times before. The first time, in 2009, I did everything my guidebook told me to do there. The second, in 2011, I explored for a few hours between a train from Vancouver and a flight back to Chicago. And the third time, in 2013, I spent a few days after a trip to Hawaii. I went back to Seattle, for five nights, for the fourth time, a couple of weeks ago. I had friends I could stay with and just needed to get away for a few. Part of me always feels like I should travel...

A few weeks ago, I had a day. A day where I was both upset over something and excited about something and my emotions were all over the place. And all I kept thinking, all that day, was, "I need change." "I need to make my world what I want it to be." "I need to reclaim my life." So, that day, I signed up for guitar lessons and bought a Groupon for salsa lessons and looked up tattoo artists and booked a flight. Because, sometimes, I go overboard. But anyways. I booked a flight to Austin that day because it's been on my list...

I had but one goal for my four-night vacation in Austin, Texas: eat everything. Austin's food scene excited me. The city is probably best known for tacos and Tex-Mex and barbecue. And who wouldn't be excited for tacos and Tex-Mex and barbecue? But it goes beyond that. There are food trucks on seemingly every corner, in every empty lot, attached to every bar. And those food trucks specialize in every cuisine and fare imaginable. Indian food. Eggrolls. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Peruvian creole. And there are just as many brick and mortars, from tiny whole-in-the-walls to fancy cocktail joints. And...

I spent Fourth of July weekend in New York. Obviously. It was my eighth visit since my first time in 1999 and my seventh Fourth of July spent in the city since 2007. Whew. I was there, mainly, for the annual hot dog eating contest but, with an extended weekend, I also got a little chance to wander the city. I suppose the more times I end up in New York the less time I spend in Manhattan and the less time I feel the need to do actual things there. This time, I hung out in Park Slope with Amber, who...

  The observation walk at Shawnee National Forest's Garden of the Gods is a quarter mile loop. I knew that because I'd Googled it that morning and thought, "oh, that's nothing." That's less than what I'd walk to get groceries. That's probably less than I'd walk around a Super Target. Before I'd left on my Great River Road road trip my friend Heather told me about Shawnee and said I had to go to Garden of the Gods. "Go to Garden of the Gods," she texted me daily. "You have to go to Garden of the Gods." And so, I added it...

I didn't sell my car before I left to travel the world. I kept it in my mom's garage with strict orders to run it every once in a while and to have my sister drive it whenever she came by. Of course, when I came home, 15 months later, it was completely dead. I suppose I could have sold it before I left, but my original plan involved coming home after nine months to road trip around the US. That was before I fell in love with Asia and stayed months longer than planned....

Two green and white signs at the fork in the road pointed in two directions: straight and left. Both were marked "Illinois Great River Road." I pressed my foot against the brake, slowing the car to a 15-mile-per-hour crawl and tried to determine which arrow to follow. I was driving the Great River Road and had no paper map of Illinois, I had neglected to pull up the route on my iPhone, and I had no written direction. I didn't think ahead. Typical me. As I approached the crossroad, two cars waited impatiently to turn left behind me so I...

On July 4, 2007, at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs to Takeru Kobayashi's 63. It was a historic feat: no one had ever out-eaten 6-time champion Kobayashi in hot dogs and some speculated that no one ever would. That day, Joey Chestnut did the impossible. He out-ate the man who couldn't be out-eaten. He brought the victory back to America. I watched this all go down that morning on the TV set in my parents' living room, wishing I was there, in person, to witness that historic event. Most people may think of fireworks...

It was in bar in Sevilla, Spain, many years ago now, when a fellow backpacker asked me what I liked most about traveling. I paused for a moment before saying, "When you're home and wake up the first thing you think is, 'what do I have to do today?' But when traveling you think, 'what do I want to do today?'" I've been home "for good" from traveling for over 8 months now and my life has become a list of have tos. I have to clean before guests come over. I have to do dishes before the entire place starts...