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TOP TEN!

The top ten necessities when traveling as a couple.

Traveling as a couple

The top ten necessities when traveling as a couple:

I am a nurse and my husband is a Physical Therapist. We got married last October, and decided to try out this travel health professional thing before we had a house and too many possessions. We did have a wedding shower, but were privileged to find a place to store our stuff while we live like gypsies.Travel-8

We set off in a Toyota Camry and could ONLY pack the essentials. Tony and I are committed to a few things that include staying healthy, sticking to a budget and saving, enjoying every location to the fullest, and experiencing new things.

 

Through the travels and temporary homes, I have compiled a list of the top ten things we have considered necessities while travelling as a couple, while still trying to stay committed to what is important to us. Some items on the list are tangible, some are not. These have helped make travelling healthier, more fun, and much easier. I’m sure this list is also useful if you are travelling alone! What are some of your necessities??

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In no particular order:

  1. Groupon app!

Tony and I have decided to live by a pretty strict budget, BUT we are also committed to taking in the culture and activities in each place we are in. I cannot tell you how many times we have payed half price on date night because of groupon! Stand up Paddle boards for $3/hr. Dinner half price. And It’s so simple, groupon uses your current location to find any deals in the area. If you haven’t used groupon, download the app now and try something out!

 

  1. Crockpot

This was the only cook-wear I was able to pack. I knew I wanted something and this was what I chose. Twelve hour shifts are a lot easier when you don’t have to make dinner when you get home. And crockpots make eating healthy so much easier.

 

  1. Tupperware

This was something we debated on our first rotation. We did not pull out the Tupperware until we had been unpacked for over a month, but I am SO GLAD WE DID. Portions are so important. And life is so much easier when I can reach into the fridge and grab a pre-made meal. And packing lunches? A breeze when everything is measured and ready to go. The only way to do that is to have adequate containers to divide up food.

  1. Clothing rack

This one was Tony’s idea. He took a shower rack and placed it across the back seat and we hang all of our clothes that require hanging on it while we travel. Packing up all those button-down shirts and dresses? Done in about 5 minutes. Furthermore, a dresser is a luxury when renting a home, and we usually have one small one or none. Therefore, most of our clothes are hung. So unpacking is done just as fast as packing!

  1. A fun calendar

This might not be a necessity to many, but for me it is. I can’t bring decorations when we are living out of a car, but I do like to have SOMETHING fun to hang on the wall of an empty rental. This kills two birds with one stone. We are able to write out our schedules and plan out the fun things we are going to do in the three months we are in a location. It’s light-weight, easy to pack, pretty to hang on the wall, and gives me something to look forward to every time I look at it.

 

  1. Spices

Obviously, we cannot travel with a lot of food. The last week of a travel assignment we get very creative with meals because we don’t want to eat out every meal, and we don’t want to buy new groceries that have to get thrown out. However, you don’t want to have to buy new spices at every location. We get our few staple spices (salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne) at Sam’s club, and store them in a plastic container. This helps with dedication to healthy living and saves some of the cost of having to buy all new groceries at every location.

 

  1. Shakes

Shakes have been important for a few reasons, specifically getting all the nutrition we need for the day while being on the road between assignments, at the airport, or at the beginning or end of a contract when our food supply is extremely limited. We could go out to eat for every meal, or eat at the cafeteria at work, but that is both expensive and ultimately unhealthy even if you are eating “healthy options”. The shakes we use have over 30 servings of fruits and vegetables in one shake AND they are all organic. There usually isn’t a whole foods at the rest stop, so this is perfect. While a shake can’t be a meal replacement for every meal, it is definitely a help.

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  1. An overnight bag

Between contracts, it is common to have to live out of a hotel or a friends house for a few nights. One thing I DO NOT want to do is lug our big suitcases in and out of hotels for one night. I have loved having an overnight/small duffel bag to use between contracts or on short weekend getaways.

 

  1. A side-hustle

Tony and I both have side hustles we can work on when we days off. When you do travel nursing/PT and you are alone, it is easy to plan things to do on your days off. But when you are travelling with someone, you don’t always want to do those fun things alone, I prefer to wait until we both have a day off. Because of that I would spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs or watching Netflix. I am personally not good at twiddling my thumbs and neither is Tony, so we try to use our days off to network our side businesses. This is great for personal development and creates extra income we can use for exploring!

 

  1. A hobby

On our last assignment it was hiking, on this assignment it is Crossfit. I love that we are not only making sure we have a hobby in every location, but we are trying something new! I would not have hiked mountains in Michigan, and I can’t tell you it is something I will make a lifestyle out of, but I love all the places we have seen, and I loved every hike we went on. There is so much we would not have seen or experienced if we chose to stay in our comfort zone.

 

So those are our ten! What about you? What are some things you consider necessities while travelling? And where are all the travelling couples? What makes travelling more enjoyable to you?

 

Kingman, AZ. Our first week.

Kingman, AZ

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As many of you know, Tony and my plan was to go to Oregon for our second rotation. Unfortunately our recruiters were unable to find us jobs together in Oregon, but they were able to find us a job together in Kingman, AZ.fake excitement

When I first heard we were going to Kingman AZ here were just a few thoughts that went through my head:

  1. Its going to be absolutely sweltering.
  2. The town is going to be tiny, I actually pictured one road with our apartment complex on one side and the hospital on the other side.
  3. There will be literally nothing to do and they probably won’t even have a Starbucks.

I was trying to keep a positive attitude, but I really had no idea what to expect. I figured, no matter what, it would be some type of adventure like the last 8 months have been. We began our 3 hour drive to Kingman, and as soon as we were out of the city, there was nothing but brown for miles, and for a while I couldn’t even pick up a radio station. I really wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

Fast forward to our arrival. I was shocked at how big the town actually was. The best way I can describe it in comparison to what I know in Michigan is a big up-north type town. It is small, and everything we plan to do is within three miles of each other. But they have everything you need. More about all that later.

Our goal for the first day was to find somewhere to live. When we arrived every apartment was either completely full, or required a full year lease. We drove around to multiple apartment complexes and came to a dead end at every one. Over the next few days we found a few houses for lease, some furnished, some not. If you remember, Tony and I came to Arizona with everything we owned in a Toyota Camry. In other words, we have nothing.

When we finally found something we thought would work, we were ready to sign the papers and move in, and the tenant completely stopped responding. We waited and waited and finally realized we would be spending another night in a hotel. Thankfully we had met a wonderful couple in our search that had a few rental properties still available. We called them up and they invited us over to their house to discuss some possibilities.

They lived just outside of the city, and it was while visiting them that I realized how beautiful Kingman was. We got to their house just as the sun was setting and from their house you could see the lights from the city and the sun setting behind it. The view was absolutely beautiful.

They were the nicest people, and they worked things out so we were able to move into our newest living space the next day. The house is small and cute and perfect.

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During our quest to find a home, Tony and I were able to explore the town a little. The closest gym we normally go to is almost an hour away, so we decided to join a crossfit gym to try something new!

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They have a yoga studio, a starbucks, and our hospital and house are less than two miles from each other. Directly behind our house is the fairgrounds, which I hear has different activities, rodeos being one of them :). There is a little downtown with a few restaurants and shops that we got to explore a few nights ago. And on Sunday we were able to visit a local church.

The town is very cute and has everything we need. And the people are extremely friendly. I think this is going to be a great rotation. Traveling has shown me that EVERY town has its own personality. Its so fun to discover what that personality is and enjoy all of its quirks.

Memorial Day in AZ

 

 

It has been a minute since I blogged, but I wanted to take some time to show some pictures of our latest adventure, tubing down salt river!

I have tubed before, and every experience is different, but never through the mountains.

Talk about beautiful. Once again, pictures never do God’s creation justice.

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We started the day lathering on the sunscreen, and all walked away from there, four hours later, burnt to a crisp. Thankfully we had a great time and it was all worth it.

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There were relaxing times where we laid back and took in all the sites.

 

There were fun times when we were bombarded with water guns, beach balls, and marshmallows (apparently marshmallow wars are a thing on salt river?)

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And there were surprising and breathtaking times when a wild horse crossed the river as we passed.

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But all the times were great times spent with friends and family. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Camelback Mountain

We celebrate our 6 month anniversary by exerting all our energy climbing rocks. How about you?

It’s been a minute since my last blog because…IVE BEEN WORKING! For those of you who don’t know, some paperwork was delayed when we first moved to Arizona, so my start date was pushed back 2 weeks. I started working two weeks ago and LOVE my job. The people are friendly, the job is slow paced, which is a nice change, and I look forward to going in every day that I work.

Last Saturday Tony and I went on another hike. This time we tried Camelback Mountain. We heard this was a must do hike while we were in the area.

Here are some other things we heard about the hike:

  1. It is straight up. I heard on more than one occasion that we would truly be climbing a mountain. SOUNDS EXCITING TO ME!
  2. There is a bee problem. I googled this fact and found out that someone fell to their death a while back because of swarms of bees chasing him.
  3. Hikers are rescued daily by helicopter because of not being able to finish the hike for a number of reasons (fractured ankle, heat exhaustion, or not enough water just to name a few)
  4. It’s a beautiful view at the top.

We decided to only listen to the last fact, grabbed two cliff bars, two bottles of water, and headed out for the day to celebrate our 6 month anniversary!

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When we arrived we chose to do the Cholla trail, which is described as “longer but not as steep”. We started up some “steps” which seemed like they were made out of the side of the mountain. Tony commented, “I wonder if this is what its like the whole way, this isn’t too bad!” Then we heard the first sound of a helicopter. Uh-oh, looks like they were going on their first rescue of the day.

We kept climbing and ended up walking a little ways on a path with some beautiful views and a straight drop off the side. After a little walking we came to an overlook where you could stop and take some pictures. To be honest, I thought this was either the top, or pretty close to it, when Tony said, “We have gone .18 miles, 1.2 miles left.”

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Alrighty then. Lets do this.

About ½ of the way to the top one of us exclaimed, “You know we don’t have to go ALL the way to the top.” While the other one of us said, “No way! What are we going to say? That we hiked half of camel back?!”

So we continued. More than once we saw individuals that had decided they had gone far enough and were going to wait right there until the rest of their group came back down.

We saw a few bachelorette parties that made it about half way and decided that was enough fun for them, and they would be turning around now.

About ¾ of the way to the top we realized it would be a straight up climb from that point on. We were definitely climbing up rocks, with no more paths in sight. Many times we wondered if we were still technically on the path, but thankfully there were LOTS of people hiking with us, so we figured if we were off the path, so were about 50 other people.

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The hardest part of the hike, in my opinion, was hearing everyone coming DOWN saying, “its harder coming down than going up”.

Oh boy.

BUT, after persevering, we made it to the top! In one piece, alive.

These hikes recently have made me so unbelievably grateful for a body that has the ability to withstand things like this, so that I can see views and enjoy these experiences in person. I think of people without legs, or someone crippled at a young age that could never experience the joy and thrill of climbing a mountain; and when you’re sweaty, hot, hungry, thirsty, dirty, and exhausted, it really forces you to be grateful for all that you have, even if it was just the two legs you were born with.

We took some fun pictures, ate our cliff bars, finished off a bottle of water, sat for a while at the edge of the mountain, and headed back down the mountain.

Contrary to what we heard the whole way up, the hike down was NOT harder than the way up. It could have been partly because we made some friends on the way down, which made the time pass a lot faster.

We met one girl who made fun of herself. Apparently she and her friend headed up the mountain in black leggings and their Starbucks, and only one of them brought a water bottle. She said “I must have looked like an idiot starting up this mountain, I looked about as basic as it gets”. It was nice to know there were people even less prepared for this hike than us.

The lesson from this hike: We will not be hiking again without purchasing a camelback.

Hike #1 is in the books!

Five lessons from our first hike

Tony and I were sitting around talking about our goals as we traveled and decided to start working on our list right away!

So many times we have ideas of what we want to do, but we sit around and wait for them to happen rather than taking the appropriate steps to make them happen.

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We knew we wanted to hike, so with advice from some AZ natives, and a quick internet search, we set out for Payson.

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The night we got in we had some FABULOUS pizza at a little family-owned Italian restaurant and asked people we met throughout the night where the best spots to hike were.

We woke up the next morning and headed out for Water Wheel. I have to admit this was one of my first real hiking experiences. Although we have had these plans to travel and adventure and hike and discover, I learned that I am pretty terrified of the natural elements of the earth.

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I was continuously afraid that the waterfall was going to wash me away, or I was going to trip on a rock and fall to my death (the hike really wasn’t that scary, I’m just slightly dramatic).

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Thanks to my wonderful husband, I not only survived, but had an amazing time. The hike was the perfect level of difficulty. We did have to climb up some rocks and wade through the water to make it to the top. But the entire journey was a blast, and the views all along the way were beautiful. Tony was crazy enough to jump into one of the ice cold pools of water. I tried to take away some things as we hiked:

 

Five things I learned on my first hike.

  1. If you want to get to the top, you’re going to have to get your feet wet.

**note to self, invest in some good hiking sandals. Wet tennis shoes get uncomfortable.

  1. You can hike with ANY kind of dog.

I kid you not, we saw everything from Chihuahua’s (more than one) to hound dogs, Australian shepherds to yorkis, and every other mutt in between.

  1. If you keep looking down, at least take rest breaks to enjoy the scenery.

I wanted to mention to look at your surroundings while you’re hiking to take in all the beauty, but as I was hiking, I realized this was not possible for me. If I looked up, I would trip and fall. So instead we made sure we stopped often to take in all the views.

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  1. Find and purchase a small first aid kit.

This will be stored away on our next hike. I am confident it will come in handy in the future.

  1. Make friends!

Everyone that was on the trail was out there for different reasons. There were so many people with their kids, which I found fascinating. It took them a while to get to the top but they all made it together! There were older couples that had probably been hiking longer than I have been alive. I loved to see their love for nature and the outdoors still evident. There were people hiking alone, people hiking with friends, and even a family putting up a barbed wire fence because hikers were constantly on their land. They were actually a really nice family, and it was fun to connect with so many different people on so many different journeys.

The path isn’t always clear or easy, but if you’ve got a great partner, then you will find your way to the beautiful waterfall.

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Arizona. Destination reached!

Arizona!

We have arrived! Not only that, but we have been here for almost a week. This week has been all about going with the flow. We knew we would not be working the first week we arrived, and that was SUCH a blessing because our jobs required so much busy work and paperwork filled out before we could start, and all that took a lot longer than we anticipated.

We came down with one vehicle, relying on faith that we would figure it out when we got here. When we arrived, we decided that even though it would be over an hour of driving one way-Tony would drop me off at work in the morning before he went to work and pick me up on his way home. A day later, the Lord provided us with arrangements for a second vehicle.

Some things have worked out exactly how we had planned, and other things haven’t, but ultimately everything has worked out perfectly. When I was starting to get a little anxious about things looking different than we had ultimately planned, Tony said, “We’re vagabonds babe!”, and I was reminded that this was EXACTLY what we had signed up for and I could not be happier with the adventure and bumps along the way.

One fun quirk about the city we are living in, people drive their golf carts everywhere! It’s like an official mode of transportation!

We woke up one day with no official plans, and we said, “Sooooo is this what it feels like to be retired?” Not too bad .

Tony is taking a class this weekend, so that means that I get to explore Pheonix! The first thing I always do is visit a local coffee shop. Of course that is where I am as I write this entry. I find this coffee shop HILARIOUS. It is called “Cabin Coffee Café” and it is decorated like a log cabin. I expected to go to a coffee shop in Arizona, sit outside on the patio, and enjoy the 85 degree weather in the sunshine. Instead I happened to choose a coffee shop that is trying to reproduce the cold weather.

IMG_1486Michigan wants warm weather and sunshine and apparently Arizona wants a log cabin and snow? I find it humorous. The coffee and food is still fabulous.

Go west young man! (…and woman)

 

Wow!

Crossing over from Nebraska into Colorado and it was like a complete terrain change! I was looking out my window after just crossing into Colorado and I felt like I could see for miles.

We crossed into Colorado and had to stop at a rest stop, and I’m so happy we had to at that moment, because it happened to be the welcome center into Colorado. This was not the rest stop I am used to in Michigan.

There were Pony express monuments, historical landmarks, RV parks, tons of reading material on the state, and free coffee (among lots of other cool things)!

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Being the good tourists we are, Tony and I took a picture in front of the welcome to Colorado sign!

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Driving through Colorado was humorous because you see miles and miles of brown, with gas stations and RV parks plopped down wherever the builder felt it was necessary. We would drive for miles without seeing anything, and then we would pull off the exit and there was a gas station. I love seeing how every state has its own uniqueness.

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I’m convinced the state colors of New Mexico are peach and light blue.

And Arizona has more horse trailers than cars.

When we were in Colorado I realized that whole altitude change is a real thing. I went for a run and never caught my breath. The Old Men Running Club (OMRC) is definitely continuing to outrun the YMRC by a long shot.

Throughout this traveling, and our stays with friends and family, I continue to think about the love and kindness everyone continues to give. Tony and I are driving across the US and we have NOTHING to give in return to the unbelievable hospitality we continue to receive. I feel like this is a tiny picture of the love Christ shows to us when we have nothing to give in return.

Thanks guys. Our travels are so much more enjoyable because of you.

We are officially in Arizona and I look forward to writing again in a few days!