8 Things I’d Go Back and Tell Myself as a New Auxiliar de Conversación

I don’t know how it happened, but, somehow, four years have passed since I embarked on my two years of teaching English in Spain as an auxiliar de conversación. Though not every moment was perfect, they were genuinely the two most wonderful years of my life, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel at least a twinge of nostalgia for that chapter. If I could jump in a time traveling DeLorean and leave 2011 Kirstie a letter, here are eight things I’d tell myself about teaching in Spain.

On my last day as an auxiliar de conversación

With my third graders on my last day as an auxiliar de conversación

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10 Disneyland Tips to Make Your Visit the Happiest on Earth

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, as I just returned from a trip home to California – more on that later! So while I’m getting caught up, today I feature a guest post from Tim Aoki, one of my very best friends from college whom I met on the first day of freshman year when he lived down the hall. I am an absolute Disneyland fanatic and former Annual Passholder (before I moved infinity and beyond miles away), but Tim puts my Disneyland appreciation to shame by visiting on a weekly basis. If there’s anyone who knows the ins and outs of the park, it’s him.

Disneyland Sleeping Beauty castle

The magic of Disneyland

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but it’s also the busiest place on earth, depending on when you go. Being an experienced Annual Passholder, I’ve accumulated a number of tips and tricks that will greatly enhance your experience at the park. These tips will hopefully help you get the most out of your time spent in Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom! Continue reading  

The Allure of Aragón: Zaragoza & Huesca

Studying a map of Spain in eighth grade, my first year of Spanish class, I became determined to one day travel to Aragón, not because I knew anything about its history or sights, but merely because, as an uncultured thirteen year old, I found myself giggling at the name’s similarity to a Lord of the Rings character… which is also why I added Bilbao, Spain to the bucket list, I must say.

Basilica del Pilar, Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain

Zaragoza, Aragón. Props to my 13-year-old self for good taste.

During my three years in Spain, I managed to visit sixteen of Spain’s seventeen comunidades autónomas, similar to states. (Oh, Murcia, you elusive thing, you!) With a four day weekend in my last months there, I crossed off numbers fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen on a weekend trip north to the place of my geeky thirteen-year-old travel fantasies, as well as beyond to Navarra and La Rioja. Continue reading  

A Tribute to My All-Time Favorite Unassuming Vacation Spot: Parker, Arizona

I’ve been to some truly exotic locations across six continents, fallen in love with cities thousands of miles from home, and found myself fascinated by foreign cultures few get to experience first-hand. But, at the end of the day, if you were to ask me which travel destination has meant the most to me over the years, I’d have to tell you that it’s a lackluster town of 3000 people a mere four-hour drive from home.

Colorado River Sunset, Parker, Arizona

But with some truly spectacular sunsets, like this one from our trip there in 2012.

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11 Gift Ideas for the Traveler on the Go

What do you give to someone who’s always on the go? A nomad who minimizes their belongings so he or she can take off whenever they want? A few months ago, I shared a collection of some of my favorite travel gifts from around the web, but for those who are always on the road, away from their home base, here are a few more of my favorite gift ideas.

Celebrating my 21st birthday in Mallorca. This view was gift enough for me, but for those who can't hop on over to the Mediterranean for their birthdays...

Celebrating my 21st birthday in Mallorca. This view was gift enough for me, but for those who can’t hop on over to the Mediterranean for their birthdays…

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What Makes You Feel at Home Abroad? 8 More Travelers Answer

What makes you feel at home when you’re overseas? Many of us are thrilled to visit new places that are as different from home as we can find, but “There’s no place like home” has become a familiar phrase for a reason. Even the most enthusiastic travelers, those most eager to explore new cultures, look for bits of comfort overseas, so I asked travelers and expats all over the world this question. Check out the answers from my first post, and here’s what eight others had to say.

Feeling at home in Sevilla with a visit from my sister

Feeling at home in Sevilla with a visit from my sister

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A Sydney Staycation at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour

Finish a day of work, head straight to the airport, and board a €20 flight to spend the weekend in a foreign country. Insanely enough, that became standard fare for me while I was living in Spain, with all of Europe just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Now that I live in Sydney, where a flight anywhere will easily set me back hundreds of dollars, it’s been quite an adjustment. Luckily, I live in a city that has no shortage of things to do and see, so, these days, my best vacations are often staycations.

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia

A bit of rest and relaxation after playing tourist in my own city

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The Ultimate Sydney Day Out

It’s crazy to think that, as of September, I’ll have lived in Sydney for two years. But for as much as I’ve seen of this Australian city, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do here, so this weekend called for some exploring with a little help from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour.

Parsley Bay, Vaucluse, Sydney

Parsley Bay, the first stop of the day

Eager to discover a new side of Sydney, I jumped onto PARKROYAL Darling Harbour’s nifty Ultimate Sydney Day Out planner. Take a quick personality quiz, answering questions like “What’s your style of drinking den?”, and the tool puts together a personalized guide for what to see, eat, drink, and do during a day in Sydney. Armed with my results, I set off to see more of the city I currently call home. First stop: Parsley Bay. Continue reading