If you’re a Washington State hiker, you’re sure to have heard of the beautiful (and daunting) Enchantments. The thru hike itself ranges somewhere between 18 – 24 miles and over 4,500 ft. in elevation gain, although can be even longer/higher if you lose the trail or choose to explore off the path. The Enchantments are more commonly known for backpackers — there’s a lottery-style permit system every year that generally rewards less than 10% of entrants to camp out overnight along the trail. I’ve entered the lottery for 4 years now without winning, so this year I decided to take on the Enchantments as a thru hike, and I want to share my experience for those of you hoping to do the same!
Patagonia was at the top of my bucket list for 5 years before I finally thought — what’s stopping me? I’ve been lucky enough to save up for a big trip a year, so why haven’t I chosen to go to the one place I tell everyone I’m dying to go? So I booked it. The trip was 9 days in total including a layover in Mexico City, 2 days in Santiago, 2 days in Puerto Natales, and a 5 day backpacking trek through Torres Del Paine’s W trail.
As you saw, I just posted my 10-week European itinerary that I did post-graduation last year. Somewhere along the way, my friend Emma got the big idea to spend a week in Iceland (a week that perfectly aligned with the beginning of my trip). Thus, our Iceland road trip was born. Now Iceland is an Instagrammable dreamland, and very trendy (and cheap) to travel to right now. With Iceland Air’s #MyStopover promotion (basically a free layover in Iceland on flights to Europe), we were able to score a super cheap one-way ticket to London, with a week in Iceland.
Our trip was far from perfect, but I’ve adapted it to be what would’ve been my “ideal” itinerary to share with you here around the entire Ring Road. For incredible waterfalls, breathtaking landscapes, and a land that literally knocks the wind out of you (with wind), read on…
It’s almost time– I leave for Europe tomorrow so I only have one last prep-based blog to share: the non-clothing backpacking essentials. My last couple blogs went over the tools I used to plan the trip, and the clothes that I’m planning on bringing for my 10-week trip in a carry-on backpack…now I’m going to talk about all the odds and ends that I’ve found essential when staying in a hostel or long-term travel. A lot of these things aren’t what you’d normally pack for vacation and tend to be forgotten, so take note backpackers!
While I am a serial under-packer and my family is notorious for two-week travels across the globe with one carry-on per person, I’ve never done a real backpacking trip. My challenge: 10 weeks, 16 countries, 2 seasons, and one 55L backpack. Now it sounded doable at first, until I realized packing for Iceland in March is very different from Greece in May. After packing and unpacking multiple times (and cutting a few beloved favorites) I have come to one very packed 55L backpack, and all of essentials for the next ten weeks.
T-minus seven weeks until I’m graduated and thrown into the world of adulthood. Seven weeks until I’m financially independent, living on my own, and can no longer use the word “student” as an excuse for things. Like most other angsty millennials, I’m going to embark on a grad trip to celebrate the success of completing my university education (blah, blah, blah).
Now this trip is going to be nothing less than a chaotic three months of traveling Europe (and a brief stint in Northern Africa) with a combination of my friends that I met studying abroad in Australia. Three months sounds like a long time, but don’t worry, the practical side in me ensured that I would have a job lined up when I returned, even if that meant two quarters of absolute hell in order to graduate early to make that happen. Impulsive, but logical (story of my life).
Planning three months of travel is not easy, especially when those plans consist of 16 different countries, and a combination of traveling solo to traveling with 6 friends, and absolutely every combination in between (including a detour with the parents). I’m talking messy combinations of plane tickets, hostel reservations, airbnbs, train passes, rental cars, and every other word that triggers those who hate to travel. Luckily, in the last few months of “planning”, I’ve identified several tools to make the whole thing go down easier…
If I had to name one week of my life as the most exciting (also most dirty and tiring), it would be my “spring break” trip in Australia. We had a week off of school at the University of Sydney, and we were sure as hell going to make the most of it. Our plan? Fly all the way up the Eastern coast to Cairns–famous for the Great Barrier Reef–and make our way back down to Sydney (if this is your only time in Australia, I’d recommend continuing the trip to Melbourne).