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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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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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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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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The BEST Eastern Sierras Road Trip Itinerary

Temple Crag and Second Lake in Big Pine in the Eastern Sierras Near Mammoth in California
[Second Lake on the Big Pine Lakes Trail]
Oh, so I hear you’re going to the Eastern Sierras?

Well, I guarantee that you’re about to have. An. Epic. Time. The Eastern Sierras are one of the most underrated parts of California, in my opinion!

This guide goes from north, beginning in Bodie, to south, ending in Big Pine. However, you can also go the opposite way of course! You can probably do this in 2 days, although if you include the hike in Big Pine you’ll want to tack on an extra one. I guarantee you’ll want to stay longer, though – I’ve been to the Mammoth area three times and there’s still so much left to explore!

Also know that the Eastern Sierras can get a LOT of snow, so be sure to check road conditions before you go if it’s late fall, winter, or spring. You may need to carry or use snow chains, or not even be able to go at all.

I’d highly recommend early fall as the best time to go. Less people, the Aspens are changing colors, and it’s (hopefully) still warm enough to go for a dip in one of the many lakes!

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The Truth Behind the Photos #1

The Truth Behind the Photos
[The Northern Lights were not at all what I had expected – read on for the truth behind my experience]
I thought it would be super fun to pick some pretty/epic looking (or just lame but maybe I have good stories ok??) travel photos and tell you the honest truth behind what was actually happening behind the scenes.

Because we all know that with Instagram and all those other social media platforms that are full of lies, it can be kinda disheartening sometimes.

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Should You Bike the 17-Mile Drive or Stay Home?

The Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California - Should You Bike the 17-Mile Drive?
[The Lone Cypress Tree, which suspiciously doesn’t look THAT lonely with another tree right next to it]
COVID-19 Update: The 17-Mile Drive is CLOSED July 3-5, except to residents or people with confirmed hotel, spa, restaurant, or golf reservations. Beaches, beach parking, and turnouts in the Del Monte Forest are CLOSED to everyone. The 17-Mile Drive will reopen on July 6.

The 17-Mile Drive is located in the very pretty (and very expensive) area of California called Pebble Beach. It stretches between the towns of Pacific Grove and Carmel, and is close to the larger town of Monterey. And, of course, has lots of beautiful coastal views!

Most people drive it (hence the name “17-Mile Drive), but what is it like to bike? Here’s what you need to know about biking the 17-Mile Drive!

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