Sibling Travel: Asking for Disaster?

You blamed each other for breaking that piece of China your parents loved. You ratted each other out for getting home past dark after playing capture the flag. It’s almost as if your job is simply to annoy each other at any moment you can. So, traveling with your sibling seems like an awful idea, right? Picture the plane ride where you can’t get away from them or, in my case, a multi-month road trip where it’s just the two of you and the road. Endlessly badgering one another can’t be fun. But, here’s why traveling with your sibling is one of the best decisions you’ll make:

IMG_0959

Niceties (and boundaries) are Out the Window

You can let yourself smell as nasty as you want. That week-without-a-shower outdoorsy stank means nothing to them. They’re family—your sibling is stuck with you. Also, those farts and burps you hold in? Let them be free! As Shrek once said “better out than in.” Your sibling won’t think any less of you than they already do if you let your body make its natural gasses. They’ve seen you at your worst prior to this trip, trust me.

IMG_1002

You Do What You Want

You feel no shame in making them stop on the side of the road to snag a picture of a random Paul Bunyan statue or telling them you absolutely have to pee at the next rest stop. There’s also this no-shame policy that you can eat whatever you want without being ridiculed because you know they’re grabbing that double burger and French fries right alongside you.

IMG_1001

It’s OK Not to Talk

You’ve spent years living with your sibling. You know when it’s time to shut up and let them have their space. It’s this unspoken understanding and, let’s be honest, nearly ESP. That uncomfortable feeling that you have to consistently entertain your friend or travel companion is simply nonexistent on this trip. Your sibling is still there and will love you even at the end of a day’s long silence.

IMG_0997

Family Bonding

This is a person you know will never leave your life. This is not a friend that you can lose contact with or a significant other you can break up with. The pictures and memories will be fond and never tainted with a bad breakup or a falling out. And, hey, at family gatherings you can band together to tell your story instead of feeling left out of the spotlight or being afraid of stealing the limelight for too long.

unnamed

 

You might get people shocked that you can stand your sibling for an extended period, but you’ll be incredibly happy to have shared a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your family member. Pictures will commemorate your trip, and there’s no doubt you’ll have grown closer. Take a chance and steal your sibling for an adventure of a lifetime.

 

The Everything-Went-Wrong Trip

We’ve all had those days that go to hell, and you’re sitting on your couch mulling in your own mistakes. This trip was that, but for five days straight in the Georgia wilderness. Two friends and I embarked on the Georgia Loop for our spring break trip. We had the maps, the trail explanations, and our hearty gear (hefty bear canisters included). I was just getting back into backpacking after years not on the trail, and this was the first trip I’d go on without the guiding hand of my dad (also the self-proclaimed Pack Mule). My friends were using this trip as an introduction to backpacking, so we were all decently naïve about certain aspects. But after the picture at the trail head, we were all smiles, not having any idea of what was ahead of us.

2015-03-20 15.06.18

Georgia Loop Background

The trail begins at Woody Gap, a section of the Appalachian Trail, then moves onto the Duncan Ridge Trail, the Benton MacKaye Trail, and back to the Appalachian Trail. It’s around 55 miles in total and listed as “strenuous.” Being in decent shape at the start, I can still say that I was huffing and puffing, especially on the Duncan Ridge section. The Outcasts Hike Again said “The Georgia Loop Trail is the “toughest” trail in Georgia…it is also called the “toughest” trail this side of the Mississippi.” So, we were clearly in for a challenge.

2015-03-20 14.35.14

Where am I?

All things were going well, until we hit a stream near dinner time. This is where mistake number one happened. To the left, there was a clearly defined path that seemed the obvious choice, but what we should have done was whip out the map and compass to justify our decision. We brazenly trudged forward until we noticed we were no longer passing the markers we had read about. If we turned around, there would be (embarrassed to say) hiking to our campsite in the dark. Down the path in front of us a bit, there was a road. We made our decision and plopped ourselves down on the road with our thumbs sticking in the air.

Lucky for us, a nice couple day hiking in the area took pity on us and threw our overpacked bags into the bed of their truck. They were surprised that we were making our way on the tough trail, and the man driving gave us his card to call in case we ran into another snaffoo. For all the scary stories my mom had told me in hopes I’d stay away from hitchhiking, this was the nicest interaction I could have had.

That night, we set up our tent too close to the trail. My friends were exhausted and done with the day which meant the steep uphill trek in front of us was not about to happen before bedtime. We nearly had room to sit between us and the trail. We were basically spooning the trail, and I don’t think it appreciated the unwarranted cuddles. It was a terrible choice, and we hoped to wake up before sunrise to make sure we spent as little time there as possible. We ate our Ramen as fast as we could and passed out.

2015-03-17 15.03.21

 

Faints and Fire

The morning was breathtaking because of the gorgeous scenery, but also the intense ascents and descents. We took on a military-like determination and focused on each step. I no longer heard the crunch of feet behind myself. It was just me and the wilderness, and everything fell into the background; it was like one of those movie moments where everything is muted except the actor’s breathing and the intricacies of their face. But then I realized I wasn’t in a movie—there were supposed to be breathing and crunching behind me. I looked behind myself to find one of my friends passed out in the middle of the trail.

We ran toward her and started taking her vitals, giving her water, and handing her trail mix to scarf down (luckily she regained consciousness very quickly). As we tried to hitch a ride from the nearby road, a group of firemen pulled up and gave us weird looks. They seemed to unsure whether they should approach, but they eventually did. They more intensely checked out our friend’s health before explaining that we had to get out of this section of the forest immediately. The area was about to have a prescribed burn. So, I guess it was lucky she passed out and we ran into them or else we would have been chased out by flames.

Take two of hitchhiking, we got in the car and the man immediately broke the ice with stories of shrooms and “real-life” accounts of Sasquatch. The man was a gentle soul, though, and seemed to help out a lot of hikers in the area. He dropped us off at an easy entrance to the Benton MacKaye trail where we soon set up camp.

2015-03-17 08.36.35

Why Everything Wrong Still Makes a Great Trip

Even though we shirked our duties as compass lovers, hitched a ride twice, and chose inopportune tent locations, there was an accomplishment at the end of the trip. We made it past those bad decisions and unfortunate situations. I was hesitant to write about this trip because I didn’t want everyone to find out that I was a complete mess (but also didn’t want to let my parents know about my hitchhiking escapades). But, moral of the story: LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, PLEASE.

The trip was still amazing, fun, and well worth it. I’ve had quite a few more backpacking trips between then and now, and I’ve upped my skill set. Up next is a multi-month road trip to the U.S. National Parks and a March 2018 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. You have to learn at some point, and overcoming bumps in the road is key to building the confidence to let you do more rad trips in the future.

2015-03-15 09.38.59

 

 

5 Reasons Why Cold Vacations are the Best

 

I’m a little biased. Ever since we were 3, my brother and I have been skiing. Every spring break was spent out West with our family on the slopes. I’ve loved my travels to warmer places but, they simply can’t match the cooler experiences. Here’s why you should scrap the swimwear and don the down for your next vacation:

  • You Get Creative

You can’t just lounge at a pool all day with the newest romance novel. Unless you want to do nothing all day, you’re going to brave the cold and figure out some awesome activities to do. You can go skiing, snowshoeing or ice climbing. If you’re in Alaska, you can watch the dog sleds make their way to the Iditarod finish line. Also, you can’t forget the beautiful views of the aurora borealis. You won’t get that in Florida.

 

  • It’s Prettier

Did you ever wake up to a snow day as a kid? You look outside and the world is still and calm. The snow sparkles, untouched by any footprints or sled marks. Imagine having those feelings throughout an entire vacation. It is a more serene beauty that tropical climates can’t compete with.

BB6D22C1-7AB3-4B91-9478-E99DB266B0AC

 

  • It’s Quieter

Tourists tend to flock to the heat. People want to leave the dull monotony of their hometowns and explore exotic and colorful locations. It’s wild, warm, and welcoming. Lucky for you, cold weather lovers, wherever you go will most likely be less populated—you can gaze at the scenery without interruption. It’s a solitude (whether you’re with friends or not) that can be rejuvenating.

 

  • You’re Not Sweating Your Face Off

You know that feeling of the back-sweat drip, don’t lie. It hits the top of your shorts and can drip further in the slowest most uncomfortable way. Yeah, you could throw on your swimsuit and hop into the ocean, but then you have the whole sunscreen-on-top-of-sand issue which is a vicious rinse and repeat scenario. It’s just a slippery slope. In a cold weather place, the only sun you’ll get will be a google tan (hello skiers and snowboarders) and you probably won’t have the sweat issue (outdoor gear tends to be great about pit zips).

1012596_10203732166566766_2194797670391670786_n

(beautiful and fun, but a hot mess of sunscreen and sweat)

  • You Have a Unique Story

Everyone and their grandparents head to the beach for vacation. Half the population seems to have “winter homes” in the south. Heading to a colder place, you’ll meet cool people, have great experiences, and take amazing pictures.