Welcome back to another round of Three Things I’m Loving Lately! I hope that those of you in the United States were able to enjoy a nice holiday weekend and a short work week.
We had a wedding last weekend (in which M was a groomsman) and then I had a quick turnaround to start a work contract in Austin, Texas, yesterday, so we’ve been on the go! It’s my first time in Austin, a city I’ve been looking forward to visiting thanks to its great reputation for music, food, and culture. While I probably won’t have much time to explore on this trip, I’m excited to return in two weeks for TravelCon, my first travel blogging conference. I’m really looking forward to meeting other bloggers, checking out the city, and, above all, learning a ton about how to improve Full Life, Full Passport and make it better for you! Stay tuned for more, and let me know if you have any feedback I can use to better serve you in the meantime.
To close out the week, here’s what I’ve been loving lately:
This article from the incomparable National Geographic combines two of my favorite parts of travel: great hikes and getting off the beaten path. It also touches on a subject I’ve frequently covered here on Full Life, Full Passport: overtourism and the impact of increasing numbers of visitors on popular destinations.
In this quick read, NatGeo lists four under-the-radar hikes that deliver on scenery and experience while keeping you away from the crowds. Picture yourself wandering through medieval Greek villages as you visit mountaintop monasteries, or traversing a stunning coastal hike in northern Spain that rivals the famous Camino de Santiago without having to share the trail with the masses. Sounds like heaven to me!
Each of the suggested hikes is accompanied by a link to a tourism outfit that will help you accomplish them, but you could undoubtedly find a way to trek all or part of each on your own. Either way, I love having some options in my back pocket that will allow me to experience scenery and culture while finding some peace away from the crowds!
2.) TSA PreCheck
With all the flying I’ve been doing lately for work, I am consistently grateful that I took the plunge and got approved for TSA PreCheck. That clearance, which came along with my acceptance into the Global Entry program, has dramatically simplified and expedited my frequent trips to the airport. Each time I buzz through a tiny security line without the inconvenience of shedding my shoes or removing my laptop from my bag, I can’t help but think to myself, “Still worth every penny!”
For those of you who are unaware, TSA PreCheck allows pre-approved passengers to expedite their security screening process when arriving for a flight. You are checked through a separate (and often dramatically shorter) line, where you can keep your shoes on and your liquids and electronics packed before moving through a metal detector. The whole process usually takes less than ten minutes and is much less of a hassle.
As I mentioned, I received my TSA PreCheck approval along with my confirmation for Global Entry, which similarly hastens the re-entry process when returning to the United States. On M’s and my recent trip to Europe, our entire customs experience lasted less than five minutes. Again, worth every penny!
Having PreCheck removes any worry about the variability of security line length and also means that I can leave home at least a half hour later. Since I’m usually on early morning flights for my work contracts, those extra minutes of sleep have been much appreciated!
For more details about both programs, my experience with them, and the application process I went through, check out my article on de-stressing your airport experience.
3.) The wisdom and generosity of mom-friends
In case you missed it, M and I are expecting a tiny new traveler to arrive this December. As you can imagine, that news has been accompanied by a flurry of excitement, joy, gratitude, introspection, prayer, planning, research, solicited and unsolicited advice and opinions, and doctor visits and as we prepare for this wonderful and unparalleled change in our lives.
While I think we’ve kept pretty level heads through these past few months, I’ll admit that there have been times that all of the unknowns and to-do’s have become overwhelming for me. The most recent example came on Labor Day, when we swung by Buy Buy Baby (isn’t that just the most obnoxious name for a store? Ugh.) to check out cribs, car seats, and strollers in the hope of completing our registry. There, faced with scores of options in the massive stroller and car seat section, I felt my heart beginning to race. Everything was exactly the same and yet so very different, and I felt paralyzed to make a decision due to the sheer volume of choices butting up against my complete lack of experience to know what I actually would need or want.
We had to take a break for lunch. Lunch (and heading to Target instead) fixes everything.
It’s in times like these that I’m not only grateful for M’s calm, confident, and strategic nature, but also the help and empathy of people who have been through all of this before. A lot of our friends are already well into the child-rearing experience, and so many have been so generous with their time, belongings, and expertise. I especially appreciate the ladies who have gifted us their own maternity clothes and secondhand baby supplies, answered our questions on different products, validated my feelings, encouraged me, and shared wholeheartedly in our joy and excitement. It’s been such an honor to join this club of strong, intelligent, compassionate women, and I can only hope that I will be as gracious to new mom friends who come after me.
On that note, it’s back to (other) work for me! Have a great weekend, y’all (when in Texas!), and I’ll see you next week!
What have you been loving lately?
What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path destination?
Who in your life has been a source of encouragement recently?
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