23 going on 24: another spectacular year

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Ever since I became a One Tree Hill addict when I was 14 (yes, I was that kind of a girl in high school) and first heard Jimmy Eat World play their song 23 , I’ve been obsessed with being 23. I always expected it to be the most spectacular year of my life, a year when incredible things would happen. And on the eve of my 24th birthday I’m sitting here thinking – it actually was. Wonderful. Filled with surprises. Amazing. Unexpected. Hectic. My own kind of spectacular.

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Thursday Tips: 6 Favorite Hostels

I absolutely love staying at hostels, but finding the right one can be quite a hassle. How do you know which ones will be über nice and which ones will have ants crawling into bed with you? I usually rely on Hostelworld’s elaborate feedback and ratings system to distinguish the good hostels from the bad, noisy ones, but unfortunately that strategy has failed me more than once. So to save you the hassle, here are the 6 best/most fun/coolest hostels I’ve ever stayed at.

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Universal travel truths and valuable lessons

A gorgeous view over Sydney, August 2013

A gorgeous view over Sydney, August 2013

It is a truth universally known that traveling is a life-changing, soul-enriching, heart-warming experience. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not all rainbows and candy canes. Yes, you will meet inspiring people, see mind-blowing sunsets, and experience unforgettable moments on magical beaches. However, there will also be moments of loneliness and adversity. Moments when the only thing you seem capable of is booking the first flight home and lie in your own bed for 17 years. Here are a few things I’ve learned the hard way that may help you through your hardships.

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Scenic flight over Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef

During our trip from Cairns back down to Sydney, we spent a few nights in Airlie Beach. Airlie Beach is a typical cute lil’ Australian town with lots of bars, surf shops, and fish & chips restaurants, but ultimately it is the main gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.

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The Whitsunday Islands is a cluster of small islands, most of which are uninhabited, right off the coast of Queensland. It’s a popular destination for those who have a few millions to spare for a private yacht, or for tourists like me, who have learned that the best way to enjoy the Whitsunday Islands is from up in the air.

As soon as we arrived at Airlie Beach, I immediately decided that I wanted to do a scenic flight over the Whitsunday Islands and, a bit further away, the Great Barrier Reef. At this point, I had already experienced one of nature’s seven wonders up close and personal on 2 snorkelling trips, but it was time to marvel at Australia’s prettiest natural feat from the air. So we went to a nearby tourism office and booked ourselves a scenic flight.

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Wish list: GoPro Hero3

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I’ve always been a sucker for documenting my travels. I’m that shutterbug who returns from a three-week trip with 4000+ pictures and takes aaaages to edit them. In 2010, I bought my first DLSR camera and since then my lens collection has grown considerably. But now I’ve got my eyes set on a new gadget to add to my collection: GoPro Hero3. Because no matter how much I adore photography, nothing gets my nostalgia going like a good ol’ travel diary video.

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Extreme Hoarders: Souvenir Edition

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These are Tom Haverford’s (Parks & Recreation) wise words. Hi, my name is Yasmine and I hoard memorabilia like there’s no tomorrow. I’m no hoarder in the Leslie Knope sense of the word, but throughout my years of traveling I have collected my fair share of plane tickets, maps, postcards, and entry tickets to a wide variety of parks and landmarks. However, when it comes to souvenirs, I’m not one to buy a T-shirt, two keychains, five pairs of socks, and 30 postcards in every place I visit. I’d rather come back from a trip with 2 or 3 souvenirs that actually mean something to me. Here’s my 5 favorite souvenirs that I have brought back from all over the world.

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