Growing up in South Florida, I spent a great deal of time at either a beach or a pool and was completely content to do just that. However, now that I’m an adult, I have become interested in exploring the local community when I travel, including when I’m back in South Florida for a holiday.
This past Christmas, Andrew and I spent a full week in South Florida with my family. Prior to our visit, I researched a list of fun things to do both with my family and for just Andrew and I. We chose to rent a car for this trip – which I would highly recommend – and had a great time exploring several new things and visiting some of my childhood favorites as well. This list is no where near exhaustive but includes six fun things to do when in South Florida.
Australia is on fire. 19 of the country’s 22 million people live along the Eastern Coast of Australia.
In 2015, I sold the majority of my possessions, packed a carry-on bag, and moved to Australia to start a new life adventure. It was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. While living in Australia, I traveled to each of its seven states, from the coastal cliffs in Sydney, to the red dirt and clear skies of the Outback, and even down to the small heart-shaped island of Tasmania, loving every minute of it. Australia is a beautiful country filled with incredibly unique and curious wildlife, stunning rainforests and coral reefs, and people who truly know how to live life. I cannot say enough great things about Australia and it is forever on my heart.
Because of this, the images and stories I’m reading about the fires burning across Australia are gut-wrenching. If you do not know much about what is happening, please read this article to begin to gain an understanding. These fires are fueled by the current summer heat and recent years of incredible drought. They are worse than the fires that tore across California in 2018 and span a far greater distance than the 2019 Amazon fires with no end in sight. Some say the worst is yet to come.
Australians are losing their homes, with fires beginning to threaten the larger cities, ash has reached as far as New Zealand, tourists and locals are having to be rescued by navy ships, and the wildlife population is dying at an alarming rate. Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital has treated over 90,000 animals so far. The country is equipped for fires but not like this. Volunteer firefighters are desperately working to save communities and animals from the inferno. The situation is dire and greater help is needed.
So, what can we do about it? I urge you to help raise awareness at a minimum by sharing this story — and dozens of others — all across the internet. More eyeballs = more help. Additionally, a number of organizations and volunteer services are aiding in the firefighting and recovery efforts for affected communities. You can find a ton of handy links and information below. Please consider donating to support these funds.
- Australia’s Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs for the affected communities
- The NSW Rural Fire Service has a donation page to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales
- The Country Fire Authority is the state of Victoria’s rural firefighting service and you can donate directly here.
- The Country Fire Service in South Australia also takes direct donations.
- To help support firefighters in the state of Queensland, you can donate to the Rural Fire Brigades Association via their webpage.
- The Salvation Army has a disaster appeal donations page set up to deliver support to local communities affected by the blazes.
- The Community Enterprise Foundation, a collaboration between the Salvation Army and Bendigo Bank, have a similar disaster appeal to direct money to communities in need.
- Foodbank is taking donations to help people in need during the crisis. You can donate at its website to the Victorian relief effort, which helps get relief for communities cut off from power and food.
- Givit is a not-for-profit organization that cares for those in need by letting you donate goods it then passes on. It accepts items or money at its donation page.
- The RSPCA bushfire appeal is used to protect the pets, livestock and wildlife affected by bushfires, helping evacuate animals from disaster zones. Items like livestock pellets and possum boxes are also incredibly handy.
- The St Vincent de Paul society is helping people on the ground in rebuilding, providing food and clothing and emotional support. It has a donation page here.
- The World Wildlife Fund accepts donations to help support conservation activities, particularly related to koalas. Money can help provide emergency care during bushfires.
- The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has already raised in excess of $2 million to help search for and protect the koalas in the region. You can donate at its GoFundMe page.
- Another GoFundMe page has been set up as a relief fund for First Nations communities to offer “culturally sensitive, specific direct support to some of those communities with critical costs to cover expenses.”
- Wires is an Australia wildlife rescue organization with a myriad ways to help Australia’s native fauna. Donations can be made through its website.
- Actor and comedian Celeste Barber is running a fundraiser for the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades donations fund. You can donate on the fundraiser’s Facebook page.
- A useful resource if you want to buy products from rural communities is Australia’s Buy From The Bush. It highlights creators and artists from regional Australia you can buy from as they face drought and now bushfire.
- Sign a Change.org petition calling on the NSW Government to provide adequate respiratory equipment to firefighters to protect against harmful smoke.
- GamerAid is an Australian esports and gaming community initiative which has established a GoFundMe page to donate to fire services across the country. It’s also teamed up with content creation team Misfits on a merch drive with profits directed to the relief efforts.
- The No Sign of Rain print, by renowned Australian artist BossLogic, can be bought from the online store with 100% of proceeds going to the Red Cross.
- The Carlton Draft, a clothing store, has teamed up with former Australian Rules Football player Daniel Gorringe to raise funds via GoFundMe on behalf of the Red Cross. 100% of their profits (until Jan 7) will go toward relief funds.
- Run your online searches through Ecosia, which uses profits to plant trees where they’re needed most. Trees help reduce the carbon dioxide load. It can be added to Chrome.
Pray for Australia.
As I divulged the details about my recent adventure with family and friends, a question I often received was, “How did you decide on Vancouver?” The first half of my answer is frequently the same for any new travel destination: good food and a beautiful destination. The second half of my answer was less common: I found a flight for $275 USD roundtrip. Yep! You can rarely find return flights between neighboring states for that price let alone across the country. With only one brief layover in Calgary, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. I shared my findings with a friend and we were booked! Next up, get to know a little more about Vancouver.
It happened seemingly overnight. ABC’s television drama, “Nashville”, premiered in 2012 to 8.93 million viewers followed shortly thereafter by a New York Times piece crowning Nashville as the new “it” city. Fast forward to 2019 and the city continues its rapid growth, averaging 90 people moving to Nashville a day. This record-setting population boom has brought its share of successes and challenges. For one, Nashville has an endless array of top chef worthy restaurants with new spots opening each week. But then some of the downsides include a downtown that caters to tourists and an infrastructure struggling to hold the increased volume of traffic.
However, regardless of the challenges we locals might experience, Nashville is an exciting city to visit with lots of great dining options, fun drinking spots, and plenty to see and do. Planning a trip to Nashville? Read on to see my recommendations for truly experiencing the real Nashville, the city that exists beyond the neon lights and honky tonks of Broadway.
The hats. The dresses. The horses. The roses. This what comes to mind when you think of the Kentucky Derby. But how do you prepare for actually attending the Derby? How do you know what to wear, bring, or expect? Step One – ask a veteran! This year I had the privilege of attending the 145th Kentucky Derby and, while I won’t proclaim expert status, I learned a lot in my first year’s attendance and am happy to share a few tips for first-timers.
Within the last five years, tourism in Portugal has absolutely exploded. The country is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, investing its new tourism dollars back into the infrastructure, renovating and restoring the architecture that has long been ignored. Portugal is full of European charm and a growing food scene and, all the while, is still affordable to visit. Often when travelers talk of Portugal, they immediately focus on Lisbon, but there’s another city that’s equally worth your time.
Port wine tasting at Porto Cruz in Gaia (with views of Porto behind me)
I don’t typically like shirts with phrases on them. Is there ever a shirt that really represents who you are regardless of the setting? Perhaps I’m thinking about it too much but I often find the sayings pressed across a shirt to be unnecessary, rude, or dumb. Therefore, what I’m about to share is a departure from my norm.
I recently purchased a t-shirt that reads, “Travel Eat Repeat”, from a website that publishes videos about tasting delicious eats around the world. Considering the fact that eating is one of my main pleasures and purposes for travel, this shirt made sense to me; I purchased it. I mostly wear it to bed but I own it nevertheless. I share this anecdote because it is the topic of conversation for this post – traveling, eating (& drinking) and repeating through Portugal.