A Trip of Solo Travel

If you have been reading our blogs you might know that we are heading to London this summer. We will be participating in the Global Business Program for a week long intensive where we get to explore international businesses, be immersed in a new culture, and of course partake in local cuisine. London in and of itself will not be a first but a solo international flight and exploring overseas will be. To “save” a bit of money I decided to take an earlier flight to London. Save is in quotes because what I am saving on a plane ticket I will be utilizing to fund my stay and adventures before class starts.

I am so stoked about it though. Always having wanted to do some solo traveling I have never created the opportunity before now. Luckily, my job at the University of Nevada has allowed me the freedom to take the time off for this adventure. When thinking about my upcoming trip I cannot wait to roam the streets in a new country going wherever my feet lead me. I belatedly decided to look at a Warner Bros. Studio – Harry Potter Tour but they are all booked up for when I am going to be there and I am bummed about it, BUMMED! ::cry emoji::

It has been about 5 years since the last time I was in London, the trip was only a couple days and it all went by so fast I hardly remember all that I did. My guess is once I am back and surrounded by the city much will come back as far as orienting myself. I often get asked when I travel “aren’t you scared” and honestly I am not. I am always excited to go somewhere new and explore.

To me the world is not as scary a place as most people who ask me that question and the media make it out to be. Most of the tragedies people are worried about happen here at home too but I go out by myself all the time here. I refuse to allow these ‘what if’ scenarios to keep me from going out and exploring the world. There is something to be said for attempting some research ahead of time to know what you are getting yourself into and being informed and by doing so I would hope that would empower others to take that leap and experience unknown places first hand.

Also, having lived alone in a big city where I knew no one and had never visited before living there; I feel pretty confident about being able to get lost and found in this semi-new place or any place really. The thing is it’s a new place on the other side of an ocean, but I am not in a country where I don’t speak the language so that is a huge plus as far as subsiding any potential fears. If I didn’t speak the language I do think that might change things a bit but by doing research ahead of time I would not be too worried then either and neither should you. Be vigilant but don’t be scared. Embrace the adventure. Don’t let others’ fears or your own hold you back. Everything you have ever done was once something brand new; everywhere you have ever been was once a place you had never been before. 

When traveling I don’t think you should hold yourself back from going by waiting on others to be ready whether it be friends, searching & waiting for that special someone, family, or whomever. If you can make the time and come up with the money don’t wait. Go now! We all start somewhere and only get where we want to go by taking steps to get there. The only one stopping you is you.

It won’t be a super long trip alone because Richard will be meeting me so we can head out to Stonehenge but this solo experience will check off this bucket list item and who knows what this experience will bring! I have yet to decide exactly what I am going to be up to prior to Stonehenge so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Where would you like to go? What is holding you back? Let’s help each other travel the world! Til next time Pengminions!

Journey to Virginia City

Living in Reno there are many interesting places to visit within a small radius. My favorite is probably Virginia City. Of course, Lake Tahoe is iconic and everyone must check it out but anytime we have family or friends visit us we always make a point to venture off in the opposite direction. We head to the old mining town of Virginia City.

Virginia City has a lot to offer for such a small town. Its old buildings are such a treat for the eyes to behold. Not only do the sights of the old building take you back but with the wooden sidewalks underfoot you become immersed in the old world. There are many unique shops throughout the main street of town. My favorite is a hatmaker, that creates custom hats in creative ways.

During the warmer months there are many events that take place that draw in a crowd each time. This weekend they are hosting an annual off road motorcycle race that brings in about 1,000 riders in an extremely competitive event. In September we attended our first International Camel and Ostrich race. I have never had so much goofy fun baking in the hot desert sun than while watching this event take place.

The views are breathtaking as well! There is something for everyone between what I mentioned above and the museums and tours offered as well.
If you get the chance I highly recommend this swell lil old town for a day or weekend trip. Everyone we take has had a blast. What are some of your favorite places to visit around where you are from? Do you have any hidden gems we should know about if we end up in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!

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Don’t Go Home to Visit Friends & Family, Meet Them Somewhere!

by Richard Furleigh

Going home to visit is a wonderful thing, getting to reconnect face to face with family and friends is a special time to say the least. The only real downside with this is you’re going back to a place that typically is unchanged and unless there is just some wonderfully amazing thing that you have to have in your life, there isn’t much more other than visiting those people that makes it worthwhile.

Instead why not have a destination visit home?

One of the ideas Kristen and I have been kicking around for a little bit is getting together with my parents (who still live in Texas) and rather than going to go visit them, having all of us meet up somewhere new! This idea struck us as we were talking one night and Kristen was lamenting the thought of going back to visit. “It’s not that I don’t want to see your folks, but your hometown is so lame.” In fairness, she is 100% correct on that one. “Why don’t we just go somewhere else and we can all meet up and hang out there?” And thus a grand idea was born.

Rather than have one set of people go to the other, have everyone meet up at a destination outside of their homes! Travel isn’t super cheap, so this lets us kill two birds with one stone in the sense of traveling to a place we want to visit, and getting to spend time with the people we love. On top of that, getting to experience new and exciting things with them will make the trip that much more memorable! I could go back to La Porte, or we have fun in Hawaii and talk about our lives there. Call me crazy but one sounds a lot more fun than the other.

Of course you want to take the time to get input from as many parties as possible before deciding where exactly you want to go. For example we have decided to go on an Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2018 with my family. Both my Mom and sister were excited about the possibility of seeing whales, Kristen gets to check another state off her list, my Dad loves boats and wants to visit Alaska really bad, and I’m looking forward to the off boat excursions that we can do in the wild north. So there is something for everyone to be excited about.

Are there any friend or family visits coming up for you? Try to change it into a group vacation instead! Rally the troops and find a place everyone can find something fun to do. It promises to be a much different time than a typical visit back to the homestead. Until next time Pengminions!

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The Furleighs in San Francisco

When work inadvertently schedules you three days off in a row what do you do? Pack up the car, get a pet sitter, and take a quick trip of course! Following up on some of our travels I present to you our time in San Francisco.

Day one was venturing to the infamous Alcatraz Island. The island itself was surprisingly beautiful if you took away the giant steel and concrete looming over you. Getting inside to see the prison however was intimidating and even a little inspiring. If you’ve never visited it isn’t until once you’re inside that the true magnitude of the whole place hits you. It’s almost unsettling to think of the history such a facility has, and surprising some of the tales of reform that came from inside. One of the more dramatic stories from Alcatraz has nothing to do with it’s time as a prison, but after it was abandoned. First nation peoples took up residence for a period from November 1969 to June 1971 declaring the island belonging to all native people. We left the island and proceeded to walk, everywhere, for the rest of the day. Coit tower, Chinatown, and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

Walking through Chinatown was almost surreal, hearing almost no English being spoken around us and seeing almost all signs written in another language was a very different experience. While there we stopped by Boba Guys, which without a doubt had the best boba tea Kristen or I have ever had. We wrapped up at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, which is simply spectacular. The entire space made me want to perform a Shakespeare production right then and there. By the time we were done however I was tapped out, and we had to take a Lyft back to our car since I felt like I was about to get some massive blisters otherwise.

Day two started out with us at nearby Muir Woods national Monument, one of the last places on Earth with naturally growing redwood trees. The colloquial use of “walking among sleeping giants” was exceptionally apt here with trunks the size of cars that would then shoot into the sky making you hurt yourself in an attempt to actually see the tops. The adventurous penguins we are we ventured off onto one of the side paths to get away from the crowds and get into the woods a little more. It was well worth it as the beauty of the area revealed itself more and more in the quiet. Once we left there we hung out a little in San Francisco before heading to The Exploratorium and met up with one of Kristen’s friends from back in Victoria, Sarah.

I had never heard of The Exploratorium until we researched places to see in San Francisco, but I am so glad we were able to get there since it’s pretty much a giant science/art/physics/natural world playground for adults. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We parted ways with Sarah and headed off to meet another friend who lived in the area. We met with Sydney after she got done with her rehearsal for her show she was working on. The local bar we met at had a great vibe to it and had a stellar home made sour mix, which led to a phenomenal amaretto sour for Kristen. Our evening ended at a karaoke bar that was hosted by a karaoke DJ who also happened to play the harmonica, sing all the background vocals, and play the saxophone.

On our last day we finally got San Francisco’s famous crummy weather which was a bummer, but we came prepared! So we tossed on our rain gear and got out to Golden Gate Park for some exploring. We meandered about for a bit before going into the Japanese Tea Garden for some afternoon refreshments. The site was beautifully kept; flowers, koi ponds, manicured trees, and more awaited us as we walked the paths. After enjoying a pot of tea we headed across the street to the Botanical Gardens which had me entertained and Kristen mesmerized. The scale of the plants that thrived in such conditions was quite astonishing, and venturing to other parts of the world’s flora in such a small space was fantastic. We wrapped up our time in the bay by meeting up with Kristen’s mother and another friend, Dylan, for dinner and a stroll along the Ghirardelli Square toward the piers. After buying two pounds of sourdough from Boudin’s (all for me!) we said our goodbyes and it was back to Reno.

All in all our first extended trip to San Francisco was exceptionally amazing, full of adventures, and made even more enjoyable by our friends we met while there (thanks guys and gals!). Do you have any trips coming up shortly? Any places you think we should check out the next time we get down to the bay area? Let us know down below!

Until next time Pengminions!

 

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Why You Should Include Travel in Your Education

Richard and I are stoked for this summer! We have plans to travel with the Global Business Program (GBP) again this summer but to London this time.
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We had so much fun in New York we just had to do another one. I am sure you have gathered by now our love to travel so why not take advantage of another course that will count toward our MBA and visit another country together (or two this time). We were sold during our MBA program orientation and have a goal of attending at least one every year that we are in the program.

I will be honest, it definitely isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to getting out and traveling the world but it allows us to double dip some of our time which is important to us so that we graduate on schedule. We also get to network in a completely different way than traditional schooling. Not to mention the classroom dynamic is a completely unique experience with the GBP than sitting in a classroom lecture. We are able to glean lessons via experience and conversation as opposed to reading a textbook, hearing a lecture, and potentially having some peer discussion. The discussion and immersion aspect I find to be more engaging because the setting is different. Ideas seem to flow freer because the “classroom” is more relaxed. The size of the class also helps in this regard.

I do understand that not all travel programs are like this. Some are hosted at a University where you do have a traditional classroom for learning but often these classrooms are filled with students from all over the world. This provides a far more diverse atmosphere than at most home Universities, so the perspectives you receive from your peers has the potential to be more varied.  Sometimes their perspectives will be surprisingly similar to your own; both scenarios will give you a broader and deeper appreciation of others.

The most spectacular thing to remember is you aren’t in class 24/7 whether in the GBP or otherwise and off school times you get to explore a whole other world! When in New York we had seen one of those fancy food videos floating around Facebook and made our way down to Black Tap for this glorious shake!
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If you are in school or know someone who is I highly encourage you to find/encourage them to find a program that works with their degree and get to traveling! The world opens up to you when you open up to it. Do you have any plans or experiences traveling in school? Leave us a comment we would love to hear about your experience! Til next time Pengminions!

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Urban Exploring: Beauty in the Decay

by Richard Furleigh

Beauty can be found anywhere if you’re willing to look. For Kristen and I, beauty and fascination has been found in a couple of our more wild adventures: urban exploring. For the uninitiated, urban exploring (also urbex) is venturing inside of and exploring abandoned buildings and places. The goal is not destruction or modification, but simply to venture around see what has happened since people ceased their regular habitation. They also make for some hauntingly gorgeous places for photography.  

Our first adventure started during our undergrad when I decided to take Kristen to New Orleans, and it had nothing to do with Bourbon St. I kept our true reason under wraps until we arrived, and surprised her by parking nearby and walking her toward the former Six Flags Jazzland. The theme park had been closed since August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck and the combination of desolation, graffiti, and decay were more than enough to keep us occupied most of the afternoon.

As we showed pictures from this outing to our family, my sister’s then boyfriend now husband found his creativity bubbling away. As a gift to us he offered to photograph our engagement pictures: in the abandoned Falstaff brewery on Galveston Island. Abandoned in 1981 the brewery occupies a huge plot of land on the island and goes up about 6 stories as well for it’s main offices. The graffiti here was spectacularly done in some places and Andrew’s eye for photography helped us get some amazing pictures that day.


Check out the full shoot by clicking here!

The Furleighs do caution you if you decide to explore on your own: urban exploring is generally considered trespassing, and any abandoned facility may be less than completely safe structurally. So please be careful. That being said, there are plenty of websites out there that can help you find places nearby and this can be a unique and inspiring way to explore your city.

Have you been able to find something inspiring in an unusual place? Are there any off the path places you’ve been to or explored? Let us know down below! Until next time Pengminions!

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Doing things Different Inspired by Grit

In our MBA class we just finished reading a book called GRIT by Angela Duckworth. When thinking about grit it really struck me that it is in many ways doing things differently. Not allowing your set backs to define your future and that you can persevere over your situation. Where many would give up you don’t; that difference has a huge impact. I’d like to share with you a few quips from my life’s story where I believe I persevered and hopefully inspire you in the process.

Growing up my family was pretty poor and my parents weren’t good with money. When I was young I remember going to the grocery store and my mom only being able to purchase food that was on the WIC list. One of the cool things about it though is I never remember her placing any shame around it. It was just a fact. We didn’t stay on them forever; but they were a necessity for a young family with 5 kids in order to work themselves to a place where they no longer needed them. It was accepted that it was where they were but not where they had to stay: a tool not a crutch.
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I had another big lesson in high school when I learned that the government can take money from your bank account if you owe them. I decided that would never be (my parent’s account was where my working money had been kept.)

This happening canceled the senior trip I had planed on taking and had been saving for and though it hurt I decide not to allow that to crush me for long. It galvanized me to never make their same mistakes. I also resolved that just because this trip didn’t work out didn’t mean I would never travel.

My parents didn’t include me in the conversations about what had happened until they absolutely had to because they couldn’t come up with the money in time for me not to notice. I then decided that honesty will always be my policy. The truth can hurt but being lied to hurts worse. Those involved should always have a say.

After all this, when turning 18, I took charge and the first thing I did when I woke up that day was get the couple hundred dollars I had saved and opened my own bank account so I got to decide what happened to my money.
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Going to college was ingrained in me from very early on, but my parent’s didn’t have the means to financially support me to go there so I had to find a way to make it work. So, I worked, went to community college, attend rehearsals, made time for friends, and eventually made my way to University. Not going wasn’t an option. Although it was slow, (I didn’t always take a full course load) and was without a doubt nontraditional, I finally finished 6 years later.

During my senior year of college I decide that the study abroad program was something I couldn’t miss out on. I didn’t let my small bank account, lack of a job because of the demands of the thearte, or the failure of my last senior trip dictate the pursuit of this one. I recruited friends, found support in my home town, and put together a plate sale to help fund the trip. And I went!

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Without these happenings I would have missed out on a lot of learning:

If you allow them, harsh lessons can lead you to develop further and  hopefully inspire you to think of things different to accomplish your goals. In many ways I changed my narrative and so can you. Share with us some of your stories of perseverance or what is going on in your life and what you plan to start doing differently! Til next time Pengminions!

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Travel: Making it Happen

Travel: Making it Happen
~ Kristen Furleigh

Travel can almost always seem to be an ever elusive endeavor. Often it feels like it is never the “right” time; is there a “right” time? I came across this quote recently,

“There’s never a convenient time to travel in your life. When you’re young you have the time and the energy to travel, but not the means. When you’re middle-aged you have the energy and means to travel, but not the time. And when you’re old you have the time and means to travel, but not the energy.”

It was posted by a lovely RV travel couple Heath & Alyssa and they were unsure as am I as to where it originates but it really resonated with me. This has often been my rationale for why I make travel a priority now and hope to continue well into the future so our adventures span a life time.

Without the means at a young age; doing things differently than many of my peers has set me apart and given me opportunities that I otherwise would not have. Everyone has to get creative in their own way to make things happen and I would like to share with you some of the things we have done to secure our many travels.

First, we are frugal and mindful of almost every penny. One of the biggest ways we save money is by taking our time choosing our rental “home.” It takes time to search for the best deals and we are willing to give up some luxuries when choosing where to live but the savings of a couple hundred dollars a month make it worth it. In Chicago, right after college graduation, we rented a small studio apartment for $550; all utilities included and it met our needs of a place to put our things and our heads down at night. When we first moved to Reno our search was daunting but with time and perseverance we found an amazing apartment, almost 1200 sq ft with w/d included, for $615 which was a steal. We have also stayed with family during some of our transition periods that has helped us out a ton! It is not the most glamorous to move back home but it can be one of the smartest decisions you could make for your future.

Picking a place to live can be stressful but I encourage you to take your time and wade through the ads, expensive, and flashy places and I am confident you too will find a diamond in the rough. The key is to start searching early and often.

Another way we have been able to save money is by how we buy our groceries. We get made fun of ALOT by family for our 25lb of rice. It is definitely absurd yet the cost savings keep us laughing too. We buy our chicken exclusively when it is on sale and stock up. When it is half off is our favorite!  We often keep it basic without depriving ourselves too much. Most of our fruits and veggie purchases are done when it is on sale. We have a running tab in our head and sometimes in a shared Keep document on what they cost normally and compare sales each week or two depending on when we go shopping.

Going out to eat is a very rare occasion because we have found out that we can cook a fancy, restaurant-quality meal for a fraction of the cost + its a fun date night! It takes practice to put down that item that sounds good in the moment or not to stop in at the drive-thru on your way home. You can build in rewards along the way as you reach goals or are really price conscious all month. Make it small but worthwhile so you feel accomplished without undoing all of your hard work.

These are just a couple of the biggest ways that we are able to save money regularly. This got me thinking about all the other ways we have been thrifty over the years and while traveling so a follow up blog is to come! What are some things you think you could change to start saving more towards your endeavors? Leave us a comment and let us know of any you plan to start or you do so that we can cheat off you! Til next time Pengminions!

 

 

I’m in a Travel State of Mind

– Richard Furleigh

If you read any blogs on even a semi regular basis you will have come across the “Travel is important!” “Get out and go see the world!” or the classic “Broaden your horizons!” All of which sound great but from my travel experiences in this country and abroad, miss a critical point. Unless you open yourself up to those new experience, than you will get little to nothing out of it other than a couple pictures you’ll later post to Facebook.

Many people point to college as one of the biggest times in your life when you will be exposed to new ideas, and there’s a good reason for that. Get students together from not only all over your state but from the rest of the country and plunk them down beside one another and watch the magic. Now multiply that and that can be what travel is, if you’re open to it. It is absolutely imperative, and I cannot stress this enough, to begin any trip with a fresh set of eyes; the further your travels the more crucial this becomes. See the world through a child like state of wonder and interest, ask why things happened the way they do, get to know the thoughts locals have behind their beliefs religious and political, get to know their customs in a way that lets you appreciate them that much more, and then share yours with them too!

 

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Kristen performing a poi dance led by the Maori (New Zealand first nation peoples)

 

When Kristen and I went on our honeymoon to New Zealand we stayed almost exclusively in hostels not only for the cost savings and the free instant coffee, but for the shared experiences with other people. Two nights in particular stick out in my head when it comes to good conversation: one in Wellington at The Dwellington (which I loved more for the pun name) and Invercargill at a hostel I can’t find with Google anymore (hope you guys are still open!). The reason these two stick out as places we stayed during our trip is because of the conversations we had with other travelers who were staying there. At The Dwellington I had about a two hour conversation with a one guy and one woman from England, a woman from Canada, and a native New Zealander about the life of being recently graduated from college (or as they call it, university), focusing on what it takes finding a job, what other support structure they have for young adults, taxes once you get a job, healthcare while employed and while not, and so much more.

In Invercargill we sat with a couple from Israel, a butcher from France, and another woman from somewhere in South America. As the wood burning stove burnt down, was restocked, and burnt down again we joked and talked about everything from life, to what it was like living and working in our respective countries. It was amazing to get to talk about military service in Israel, working as a butcher for fine French restaurants, to life in the southern hemisphere in a harsh political climate. One amazing note about the Invercargill night as well: Kristen and I were the only two native English speakers there yet we communicated, sometimes very brokenly, in English and gestures the whole night, and it was that much more amazing for it.

These moments were enriching in ways that would never have happened had I not approached them with the mindset of curiosity, intrigue, and open mindedness about the greater world around me. There are so many things to be learned from people other than ourselves, and the further away from your state of normality you can get the more interesting information and people you will find.

If you’re heading out on a trip any time soon, try going off the beaten path, go sit at a bar and strike up a conversation with strangers, and try to explore what their life is like.

Any major trips you have coming up? Let us know about it in the comments down below, and if you want any advice on awesome places in New Zealand we’ll be more than happy to share! Until next time Pengminions! 

 

From Fear to Empowerment

From Fear to Empowerment
~Kristen Furleigh

Often when I talk to others about some of our life experiences I get a “Wow, I could never do that” or an “I wish I could travel but (insert: I’m too scared, don’t have the money, ect)” and “How do you do that?” but I don’t usually see my life as anything particularly unique. I truly believe that if you want to do something there are many more ways to make it happen then we allow ourselves to realize. It is so much easier to see the reasons why we can’t than to look for the opportunities for how we can.

When it comes to other people’s reactions to my/our life and how “they could never” I always respond with “yes, YOU can!” I believe wholeheartedly that anyone can do anything that Richard and I do and more. It is all a matter of allowing yourself to say YES to trying and NO to fear. I do understand that some of this idea is from a place of privilege but most people have more means than they will give themselves credit for. It is often less about means and more about giving yourself permission and accepting the sacrifices that come with making the decision to go for it.

If you re-frame it; you are making a sacrifice either way. For example, when you choose not to travel you are sacrificing the experiences you could have had. When you choose to travel it is a sacrifice; whatever it is that you sacrifice will be different based upon your circumstances. You have to ask yourself which one is more important to you. You must also be honest with yourself because it is easy to come up with a valid yet facetious excuse. Like, “I have to eat.” Well, of course, you have to eat but can you be making better choices with what you purchase to eat that would allow you to travel? There are so many ways we can talk ourselves out of pursuing the things we want. It is without a doubt easier but is the easiest road fulfilling? I would argue, no.

Coming back to fear; fear should be the least of our concerns. We all have fears but we cannot let them stop us from reaching for possibilities. In almost every situation that has been scary, once I have done said scary thing, I always end up feeling better having done it. On the other side of the fear is a much better place to be and it has allowed me to do more things that I fear because I have the experience of having done the frightening and come out feeling a stronger, more capable person. I am by no means fearless I just know that I will be OK and will grow from the experience. It is an amazingly empowering feeling. This is something that I have to remind myself of often to keep pushing myself forward. It also takes practice. It doesn’t just happen; we have to continue doing differently in order to make these life changes.

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Above the clouds on top of Mt. Doom aka Mount Ngauruhoe on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a 19.4 km hike not including this detour

What are some things you have always dreamed of doing but have held yourself back from pursuing? Let’s chat. All it takes is a plan and commitment and you are on your way to realizing your dreams! What are some things you want to hear about from us? We can have a conversation in the comments or feel free to message us. Til next time Pengminions!

 

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