How to Find Free Camping in California

Kelsey in front of an orange tent camping near Mono Lake in Mammoth, California in the Eastern Sierras camping for free in California
[Our campsite near Mono Lake – you can even see the lake through the trees!]
It’s boutta be the summer of (free!) camping in California! I honestly love camping and always have, even when I was in high school and my preferred habitat was the mall. I’d still be more than happy to bust out a tent (or just sleep under the stars like I used to do on the balcony at my dad’s house) and I’m not one to be bothered by bugs or a little dirt. (Like when I shocked everyone I knew and joined the conservation corps – not showering for a week quickly became the norm).

However, we only went camping a handful of times when I was younger. So, when I graduated college I decided it was time to make all my camping dreams come true. That said, campsites can expensive AF, especially here in the US, and I was coincidentally broke AF. I needed to find a solution.

And then I stumbled upon BLM land. More about that below. First, some story time! If you hate stories feel free to skip to the “Why I Love Free Camping” section.

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A Beautiful Fjord Tour from Bergen: Review of Rødne Fjord Cruise

Pretty white house in nature surrounded by mountains and fog on the fjord cruise in Bergen, Norway
[IDK how the heck this is real but it is in Norway]
So, this fjord tour from Bergen was like…Over a year ago?? But I had to post it now simply for the fact that it ended up being one of my highlights from 2019 and probably one of my favorite experiences in my entire life. Yes. It is THAT good.

And to be honest I just wanted an excuse to look through my photos and reminisce again, LOL so here we are.

And no, this post is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form – I just genuinely loved this Bergen fjord cruise that much. Visiting the Norwegian fjords was a huge bucket list item of mine, and I’m happy to say it somehow exceeded my embarrassingly high expectations. I do admit that while Bergen was cool, it wasn’t my FAVORITE place ever (although I did LOVE the hills and easy access to nature), BUT it was home to my favorite activity ever and that is the fjord cruise.

Norwegian Flag Waving on the Rødne Fjord Cruise Tour Boat with mountains in the background
[Norway you da bomb]
I was super on the fence about going (like would it really be worth the $$$??) but, as mentioned previously, it was AWESOME and I want to help/convince other people also on the fence because trust me, you won’t. REGRET. IT.

Here’s all you need to know about your first Norwegian fjord cruise and why I loved this fjord tour so much and would 38578348349% go on another one.

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A Week in the Life of a Digital Nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria

A week in the life of digital nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria, including cost of living.
[The view of the woods from the gondola up to the slopes]
Wondering what life is like for digital nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria? Or what the cost of living is like? What is there to do? What exactly is Bulgaria like??? If you have these questions, well, I’ve got answers!

I spent 3 months at Coworking Bansko, from December to March. I really loved spending the colder months in a real “winter” destination (it is a ski resort, after all!), although it was an unseasonably warm year. In my head, snow would fall continuously as I looked out my balcony window. Inside, I would be cuddled up with a chunky knit blanket and a cup of tea while fairy lights twinkled and a fire roared in the fireplace.

House in the woods in Bansko, Bulgaria
[Saw this house on our hike to the monastery in Bansko]
But as you can imagine, that was not the case. My winter wonderland fantasy was unfortunately trumped (pun intended?) by unseasonably warm weather. Think temperatures in the 40’s F (like 4-8 C, finally starting to understand Celsius after being in Europe for over a year LOL) and sunny (an abomination) most of the time. Nor did my apartment have a fireplace.

Ah well, I still really enjoyed my time in Bansko! So much that I’m already planning to head back, possibly as early as summer!

I thought it might be fun to show what an average week might look like. And since Bansko is a little bit more affordable than other destinations in Western Europe, I decided to track my spending, too (I should probably be doing this anyway…).

To be honest, I probably I could have saved more but I was too busy having lots of fun with new friends…Ooops. But gotta live, ya know?

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One Day in Melnik, Bulgaria

One day itinerary for Melnik, Bulgaria including wine, the Rozhen Monastery, Melnik Pyramids, and the best view of the town!
[Want to see this view? Read on!]
I’m mainly writing this post out of my own frustration. It was SO HARD to find much information on what to do in Melnik, Bulgaria! Maybe because it’s also the smallest town in Bulgaria?

Melnik is a really cute little town located in southern Bulgaria. Known for its wine, Melnik is a fantastic stop for any lover of fermented grapes. We also saw so many signs for different flavors of wine – I really wanted to try them all, but we were driving, so I had to make do with just the raspberry…

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13 Things to do in Bansko, Bulgaria in Winter (That Aren’t Snow Sports)

13 things to do in Bansko, Bulgaria in winter that aren't snow sports!I don’t really ski. Or snowboard. I did when I was a kid, and remember it being kinda fun. But even then I never remember loving it so much that I was willing to make 3.5+ hours long trek each way with my dad from Fremont to Lake Tahoe. That’s what ya gotta do if you wanna find snow in California, anyway.

And staying in Tahoe is expensive so we often did day trips, which meant super early mornings and a looooot of time in the car.

Then we had to rent everything, and wait in line at the chair lift (and don’t try and tell me that getting on and off is not the most nerve racking thing ever), and because we didn’t go often there was always a learning curve during which I’d fall a lot and stare down a giant hill and wonder how EXACTLY I was supposed to get down that thing in one piece on 2 toothpicks of plastic strapped to my wobbly feet.

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My 9 Favorite European Destinations of 2019 (& To Consider for 2020)

My favorite destinations of 2019 and some places to travel in 2020.

I traveled quite a bit in 2019 – I quit my job to become a digital nomad right at the beginning of the year, and thus was able to see a lot more than I did in 2018. Hence why I don’t really have a “favorite destinations of 2018” because I didn’t travel nearly as much!

If you’re curious about 2017, though, I gotchu – here’s a list of my favorite destinations from 2017.

And so, here are my favorite destinations from 2019 and ones you might want to think about for 2020!

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How to Spend One Day in Hamburg

How to spend one day in Hamburg, Germany, including Miniatur Wunderland, St. Michael's Church, the Elbphilharmonie, and Christmas Markets!

Have you ended up with one day in Hamburg and just aren’t sure what to do???

Well, let me do the hard work and plan the best day for you! You can just relax, follow this list, and see exactly what Hamburg has to offer. (Which is a lot!)

I’ve spent a total of 4.5 months in Hamburg so far (1.5 in the spring and 3 in the fall) so I’ve gotten around to exploring the city quite a bit. And, I had some help – I made friends with some locals and expats who showed me some insider spots, as well!

Here’s how I’d recommend spending one day in Hamburg:

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Apple Picking is More Fun in Germany (My Experience in Altes Land)

Altes Land (meaning "Old Land") near Hamburg, Germany is a great place to go apple picking during the fall season!
[Always reaching because being short is hard LOL]
I’m a sucker for autumn and obsessed with all the basic fall activities so of course I HAD to go apple picking this year! I went last year, too, and it’s something I want to try and do every year because it just starts off the fall season in the best, most basic fall way.

But, you ask, aren’t you in Germany? Do they even have apple trees there? Isn’t it just beer and bread that grow on trees, harvested just in time for Oktoberfest?

The storefront of Jan Hinrich Feindt, a shop that sells fruit, vegetable, and regional products in Altesland, Germany
[We stumbled upon Jan Hinrich Feindt, a store that sells fruit, vegetables, and specialty regional products, and it has the cutest storefront imaginable]
Guess what – they do indeed have apple trees, an entire region of them, called Altes Land (which means “Old Land/Country.”) And it was only about an hour away from Hamburg, where I’m currently based – SCORE!

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How to Spend One Day on the Island of Sylt, Germany

How to spend one day on the island of Sylt in Germany - things to do, how to get there, and what to see!

Sylt is a place I would’ve NEVER heard about had it not been for my German friend. Sylt is known as the place that wealthy people vacation, but our peasant selves just did a day trip from Hamburg. It was def a mission as it was about 3 hours each way by train! But I have to say, it was definitely worth it.

Thatched roof and brick house on the island of Sylt, Germany
[An example of one of the super cute houses on Sylt] 
It was such a pretty place! We brought our own bikes on the train, but you can totally rent bikes there, too (which I would highly recommend since the bike paths are wonderful, and what’s better than biking by the sea?)

On the west side of Sylt, you can take advantage of the more rugged North Sea and do activities like surfing and kitesurfing. On the east side, you can enjoy calmer waves in the Wadden Sea. There are also plenty of beaches for dogs if you’ve got a pup along with you. And in the summer, since it’s so far north, it never gets completely dark at night!

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