The 1,000 Likes Giveaway!

I recently reached a very exciting milestone…

The idea for Around the World in Katy Days came to me after we returned from our Icelandic honeymoon. Many of our friends saw photos of our adventures and were inspired to visit Iceland. I started writing blog posts about our itinerary, trip budget, and favorite activities so I could link my friends to those instead of reiterating the same thing to different people through a series of texts and messages. When I started my blog, I never expected many people other than my friends would read it. But 18 months later I am astounded by the response this website and page have received!

And because I am so excited about it, I’m having an AMAZING 1,000 likes giveaway to celebrate! The winner will receive a gorgeous painted globe from one of my favorite Etsy sellers, Blush Design Company.

I love Blush Design Company because they’re a company with a purpose. Cassie and PJ, the faces behind Blush, are passionate about serving couples who crave adventure and live big lives together. They share their journey with others and hope to inspire others to follow their dreams. They are also passionate supporters of The Sparrow Fund, an organization that supports families through the process of international and domestic adoption, and even donate a portion of their proceeds to this amazing nonprofit.

[And if y’all don’t already know, I love when people find and support their causes with their unique, personal gifts. LOVE. IT.]

A big, Texas-sized thank you to everyone who enjoys following my journeys around the world! Y’all are amazing, beautiful, wonderful people and I wish you could all win!

To enter in this giveaway, complete the tasks in the Rafflecopter form below to earn entries. The giveaway will end at midnight CST on December 15th, 2017. A winner will be randomly selected and notified on December 16th, 2017. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be randomly chosen.

Best of luck to you all!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Part-time Traveler & Full-Time Adventurer: A Perspective

I love traveling, but I also love my career. I have a husband and the sweetest pup in the world. We own our home. And I’m happy with the life I’ve built. There are some people who can live free, and travel for months or years on end. We see their stories documented online all the time. But where are the stories and perspectives of the female travelers who have full-time jobs, families, and roots in one place?

I grew up in Germany, so my family traveled frequently. My parents took advantage of every weekend as a reason to explore. I got a taste of wanderlust at a very young age, and my location in central Europe gave me every opportunity to explore new cities, countries, and cultures.

Nowadays, I’m rooted in Houston, Texas. My husband and I are pretty limited on travel time because we only get the standard 10 days of vacation time per year [for now]. Since traveling is our favorite hobby, we make a conscious choice to prioritize it. But I fully believe even though I’m only a part-time traveler, I’m always adventuring. I’m always on the lookout for mini-adventures and fun events in my own city. Although Houston isn’t the most exciting and beautiful place to live, I have to make the most out of my time here. So if there’s a cool festival or a little island of culture I can venture to within my own city (check out my visit to the local Hindu temple), you bet it’s on my list. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing, and I refuse to give in to the notion that by choosing a career and roots my life is therefore “boring.”

Today I’d like to share the stories of a few fellow adventuresses and hear their perspective on the non-nomadic lifestyle, as well as how they find the time and money to support their travel hobbies. Continue reading

Know Before You Go: Big Bend

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Big Bend is one the largest national parks in the United States. At over 800,000 acres, it’s roughly the size of Rhode Island! It’s also one of the least visited national parks, averaging only 300,000 visitors per year. By comparison, Great Smoky Mountains National Park averages 11 million visitors per year, and the Grand Canyon has 5.9 million. The area has many unique activities and sights to experience, but planning for a trip there can be a little complicated due to a lack of information online (which stems from it being one of the least visited parks). So to help y’all out with any trip planning you may be doing, here are 26 things to know before you go: Big Bend edition. Continue reading

Know Before You Go: Border Crossing in Big Bend

Border crossing in Big Bend is definitely one of the most unique experiences you can have in a US National Park. But there are a few things you should know before you go:

1. Bring your passport.

Many people don’t know that the opportunity to do a border crossing in Big Bend exists, so they don’t bring their passport along with them during their trip. Make sure to pack yours if you’re interested in visiting.

2. The port of entry is only open Wednesday through Sunday from 9am to 6pm, but during the winter this may change to 8am to 5pm.

It’s advisable to arrive back to the port at least 30 minutes before closing time. If you don’t make it back before closing time, you will have to wait until the next open day to return. So watch the clock closely if you’re venturing to Boquillas in the afternoon!

3. You can use your American dollars in Boquillas, so don’t bother exchanging any money.

There’s nowhere for you to exchange money in the port of entry (possibly not even in the park), so don’t worry about it. In fact, the locals actually prefer payment in USD.

4. It costs $5/person to take the “ferry” across the river border.

The ferry is actually just a rowboat, and it takes about three minutes to cross the river.

5. After that, you can either walk or ride a truck, horse, or donkey one mile into the town.

Walking is free. Horses run $8/person, donkeys and trucks are $5/person (all round trip).

6. A local guide will accompany you into town and stay close by until you return to the border crossing.

Ours spoke wonderful English and was very kind. We ended up giving him a tip before our departure, which he greatly appreciated.

7. There are a few restaurants, which all offer delicious food, making this a great lunch destination.

We ate at Jose Falcon’s and had some of the best enchiladas ever! We scarfed them down with some Mexican cokes, which was a welcome change from the camp food we had been eating all week.

8. The locals will display handicrafts and souvenirs which are available for purchase.

When you spend money, you’re helping the local citizens. So go ahead and have a beer or two, and buy a cute little wire sculpture of a roadrunner.

9. Be aware of prohibited items.

You can’t bring back rocks, minerals, fossils, anything with animal bones or parts, unfinished wood products, raw meat, fruit or vegetables, bottles of alcohol, or tobacco. They will brief you on this at the port of entry before you depart for Mexico.

10. And make sure that when you purchase Mexican souvenirs, you purchase them on the Mexican side of the border.

Apparently, some vendors set up shop on the US side, and this is a customs issue. We didn’t see this happen, but we heard enough about it that it’s definitely worth mentioning.

11. If you have more time to spend in Boquillas, you can do horse trips to the canyons, hot springs, and mountains.

Most tourists only venture into the town (like we did), but these are also options.

12. When you return, you scan your passport and will be connected to the US immigration office in El Paso via a kiosk in the port of entry.

They’ll ask you the standard questions: What was the purpose of your border crossing in Big Bend? What are you bringing back? Then you’re done!

13. You will not get a passport stamp.

Sad face. For you stamp collectors out there, you won’t get proof of your visit to Mexico, you’ll only get the memories!

Safe travels and happy wanderlusting, friends!

13 Ways to be a Responsible Traveler

I know traveling isn’t the most eco-friendly hobby. Air travel has actually been called the biggest carbon sin of all. I try my hardest to live an eco-conscious lifestyle and am working towards the very ambitious goal of going zero waste, and it’s really hard (if not impossible) to fit this passion of mine into both of those categories. Despite this challenge, how can we still be good environmental stewards? How can you make the effort to go above and beyond to be a responsible traveler? Here are some ways (both big and small) we can travel responsibly and live this love for the land even when adventuring. Continue reading