Holiday Gifts You Get Versus What You Wish You’d Get

Holiday Gifts You Get Versus What You Wish You'd Get

The holidays come with lots of perks: time off, mom cooking for you like you’re 10 again, no guilt for sugar consumption (save that for January!). But, on the other hand, we also end up getting tons of stuff we don’t really need. Watches, shoes, the entire DVD box set of Game of Thrones (omg, yes!) can be great, but wouldn’t it be nice if Santa could wrap up your life purpose and leave it for you under the tree? While it’s nice to get presents and all, the gifts that are the most special are often quite simple. So read on, and adjust your “wish list” accordingly.


What you get:


1. Holiday-themed items (snow globes, candy canes, ornaments)

Usually given to you by your grandma who collects antique gnomes or your 2nd cousin’s wife who mispronounces your name but too much time has passed to correct her. The intention behind this offering is considerate. Grandma truly believes everyone aspires to populate their house with Thomas Kinkade collectibles and at least your distant relatives remembered you exist. The problem is these gifts are literally only useful for 24 hours a year. At least you can enjoy one more peppermint flavored thing before it’s taken away till next Christmas.


2. The ‘you mentioned you liked it once and now you get it for every holiday’ gift

Once, in a fleeting moment of conversation, you mentioned you kind of like elephants. Cue your aunt buying you a elephant stuffed animal for your birthday. Next year, it was elephant slippers, followed by an elephant necklace, which crescendoed into a hand-stitched elephant pillow from Etsy. Your friends noticed that you had a lot of elephant stuff and all began buying you elephant presents. Whew, that snowballed quickly! Your room now resembles a corner of a zoo gift shop, and you are officially an “elephant person.” Forever.


3. A star

Yes, the universe is amazing. Pitch black as if to playfully mock our complete and utter bafflement of it, it’s an enigma that eludes even the most crazy-haired of scientists. But its objects—borne from millions of years of elements fortuitously colliding together—CANNOT BE BOUGHT BY HUMANS. That mortals who spend a millisecond on a tiny planet can point to a celestial body and scream “MINE!” illustrates just how assholishly self-centered humans can be. That’s like saying “I own the Grand Canyon and wanna rename it ‘Bentley.’” Sorry, you don’t have that kind of jurisdiction over the shared COSMOS.


4. As-seen-on-TV products

Let’s not pretend you haven’t been lured by the succubus-like powers of an infomercial. It’s not your fault. They schedule them at humans’ most vulnerable hours, when we’re either intoxicated to the point of putting ice cream on mac ‘n cheese, or we’re sleepless and can’t find anything else to watch other than Russian news. But it’s one thing to order a hair-bun-creating device under the logic-weakening effects of 2:47 a.m., and another to consciously offer it to another person. These gifts are uselessly frivolous—unless we’re talking about a Snuggie. Which is man’s greatest feat of human ingenuity (sorry Wright brothers).


5. Bad advice

They didn’t even bother to re-gift a sweater that’s clearly not your size. Instead, they went the “sit-down-and-have-a-serious-discussion-about-your-life-fueled-by-alcoholic-eggnog” route. Your aunt can’t seem to get the hint, and keeps telling you to follow in your cousin’s footsteps, since “he makes such good money!” as a doctor. Meanwhile, you’re deathly afraid of needles, and have no intention of entering the medical field. Your family and friends have the best intentions, but sometimes their wishes for your future don’t align with your personal goals. Hang in there.


What you want:


A really cool experience that could change your life

Having more crap often just makes us feel weighted down—and can hold us in circumstances we aren’t happy with. Rather than material goods, we could really use experiences, which have the ability to enrich our lives. A backpacking trip through Europe. A road trip around the United States. A hiking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. Experiences like these wake us up, and help us realize that life is full of potential. We’re not saying you should expect a plane ticket to Europe from your parents…but a backpack to use on your adventures would be an awesome start.

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Gifts For People Who Like Going Places

Gifts For People Who Like Going Places

It’s the holidays, which means you’re aimlessly roaming the mall for presents, dodging shoppers who would fist-fight you, and ultimately just buying H&M clothes for yourself because, hey, gift-giving is hard and you needed a new sweater! We get it and we’ve been there. But before you hand out gift cards that scream “I ignored your personality and spent 2 seconds thinking about this,” take a look at our gift guide. It’s for anyone with a sense of adventure, so whether you’ve got a friend’s list full of backpackers or you’re coming up with your own wish list (so your well-meaning parents don’t give you clothes you’ll never wear), we’ve got you covered.



Clothing and Accessories


1. Vintage compass necklace, $26.99

Your heart will always point you in the right direction—especially if you’ve got a literal compass draped over it. We’re big fans of vintage navigational paraphernalia (we’ll never part with the 1985 RV we used on our first road trip, no matter how much it smells like a musty pirate). So when this antique brass compass necklace pinged our radar, we had to have it. Coated in a worn-and-lived-in-looking patina, it even features a map image of your city of choice. Take that, Google maps.


2. Stance Socks, $10-20

Remember packing to go somewhere as a kid, and your mom would make a big, theatrical production out of how many socks you were bringing? “Pack extra socks!” she would squawk from 3 rooms away, in a half-cautionary, half “listen to me, I housed you in my uterus” tone. Well, mom was right. Forget packing that 4th pair of shoes in case you happen to go an underground steampunk dance club. Instead, toss in these, which come in every color and pattern imaginable.


3. A scarf that’s actually a purse from Sholdit, $49

If you’re like me, your purse is a black hole of infinite chaos. It carries your wallet, sure, but it’s also a storage unit for movie stubs from 2 years ago, 4-year-old eyeliners, business cards of people you have no intention of calling, and 7 pens (only 2 of which work). This scarf that doubles as a purse is the solution, storing only essential items discreetly so you’re free to walk around without the equivalent of a bowling ball on your shoulder.



Getting Around

4. Cocktail Kit for Flying, $24

Like a Saturday Night Live skit come to life, this in-flight artisinal cocktail kit brings hipster fussiness to a level not even Portlandia could have envisioned, and it’s awesome/ridiculous. Included is all the ingredients needed to make a drink that would cost $17 at an LA bar, including aromatic bitters, a spoon/muddler, cane sugar, a linen coaster, recipe card, and carry-on tin. One sip and you’ll swear you’re in a speakeasy—until you’re jabbed by your armrest-stealing seatmate.


5. Crumpled City Maps, $15

The funny thing about most travel maps is that they lack all the traits that make something portable. Fragile and unwieldy, unless you’re keeping it a bulletproof binder as you walk, it will disintegrate into a million pieces by the time day one of your trip is over. Enter: Crumpled City Maps. These waterproof, tear-proof maps are meant to be scrunched in balls, jammed in pockets, dropped in rain, and generally abused as you go about navigating streets and eating all the things.


6. Hammock made of parachute nylon from Grand Trunk, $65

Made from the tough-as-nails nylon that parachuters count on to, you know, not plummet to their death, this hammock is probably the sturdiest way to be suspended in the air and rocked like a baby. I actually own one and after using it on camping trips, I have seriously contemplated chucking the bed in my apartment and erecting this in its place. Set it up anywhere and bask in swaying that brings you back to the womb.



On-The-Go Gadgets

7. Beer compressed into packets from Pat’s BackCountry Beverages, $39-50

No campfire is complete without beer. But if you’re venturing further into nature than cars will allow, you’d probably rather make room in your backpack for warm clothes than beverages that make you feel funny. Luckily, Pat’s BackCountry Beverages eliminates the need to choose. Leave beer cans at home and just tow the magical carbonator bottle. When you’re ready to party, add the activation packet, shake, and voila! A nice cold brew in the middle of no where.


8. Scrubba portable wash bag, $55

If you’re a seasoned traveler, you know to avoid overpacking because you’re not Beyonce and you don’t have someone whose sole job is to haul your luggage all over the London subway. The catch of packing light? Trying not to lift your arms when you’re wearing the same shirt for a 3rd time. That’s where Scrubba comes in. Throw dirty clothes in the bag, add water and soap, and rub the bag for 30 seconds. Hang-dry garments and spare noses from here to Timbuktu.


9. Bespoke’s 7-in-1 pry bar, wire stripper, bottle opener, three screwdrivers, and key chain (that you take can on a plane!), $7

This all-in-one-tool can do so many tasks, it’s basically a personal assistant (who can’t manage your emails…or dry cleaning…but still). With 7 functions, you’ll turn into MacGyver, doing everything from tying knots to fighting off bears. Ok, it’s not expressly made for bear-intimidating, but it’ll make people think you’re capable of it when you whip it out. Plus, it’s from a company based in Portland, so you know it’s hip.



Adventure-Logging & Decor

10. Scratch map to hang in your house and account for where you’ve traveled, $31.95

You’ve posted a map of your travels to your wall–your Facebook wall, that is. But when you’re done making your friends jealous of your Italy trip (you’re so #blessed!), how about adorning your real walls? This stately map looks like it belongs in a library that smells of leather-bound books and rich mahogany–but even if you’re sporting an Ikea table and your mom’s old couch, it’ll class a place up. Once you’ve visited a spot, just scratch off the foil and mark your territory.


11. Vintage city and world map wallcoverings by SwagPaper, $36 & up

Love the idea of travel but can’t manage to skip your daily Starbucks enough times to get the cash for a ticket? Just buy one of these chic, old-world-looking maps and pretend you’re in the coolest coffee shop in Paris. With historical maps that span a variety of locales, you can turn your room into a Restoration Hardware showroom—without having to sell organs on the blackmarket to pay for it.


12. Instagram book, $17.99 & up

Once you get back from your trip, you’ll want to #humblebrag about your adventures for the rest of eternity. One of the best ways to showcase your travels is with an Artifact Uprising coffee table book full of photos. Hey, even the lamest of destinations look epic with a filter, right? And now you’ll have a high quality print of that selfie that you took in front of the Eiffel Tower (that’s mostly just a really good picture of your face).


13. Travel journal, $10

My mom always tells me to write in my journal when I’m traveling (so when I’m senile I can remember the good ole days)! But alas, it’s one thing to PLAN on writing, and another thing to actually do so. Assuming you tend to write one entry and then don’t touch the journal for 5 years, maybe you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan if your journal looks totally awesome, like this one, hand-stamped with a one-of-a-kind image.

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11 Life Lessons You Won’t Learn in the Classroom

Life LessonsGraphing equations. The molecular structure of sugar. The war of 1812. These are all things you (hopefully) learned about in school. We are told that school prepares you for life, and there are a lot of things that you do learn in school that you eventually use in the real world, like math. Please learn math. One day your phone is going to die/be left on your bedside table at home (even though you told yourself to remember it, grr!), and you’re going to have to calculate something simple in front of fellow humans without the help of a servant-like app. Just do it.


All that said, no amount of book reporting, field-tripping, and science-fairing can prepare you for life after school. Despite billions of people having lived life for thousands of years, it’s impossible to distill the entirety of human experience into 12 years of schooling. There are about eleventy billion things about life that you won’t learn in class. Out of those eleventy billion things, here are 11 of them to get you started.


  1. Common courtesy: When someone holds the door open for you, SAY THANK YOU. Don’t get hung up on gender roles or stubborn issues about not wanting to be helped. The other person doesn’t know that. They’re trying to be nice even though their day has likely been crammed with moments of wanting to move to an island, so just be appreciative. Really, your parents should’ve taught you this, but it seems like we as a people are failing at this, so someone has to say it. If everyone did this, the collective happiness of the world would increase and we wouldn’t even need puppies to make us feel better.


  1. Negotiation: Just about anything can be negotiated for price, perks, and freebies. Don’t like the price of that chair? Offer a lower price. Paying too much for cable? Ask them to throw in DVR service for free. Places that have actual salespeople (car dealerships, furniture stores, electronics stores, service providers) are most ripe for negotiating price. Remember, the place that is selling you things negotiated the price themselves from wherever they bought it from. The worst someone can say is “no.” Be careful, though. You could bargain your way to a cheaper crispy chicken sandwich at the drive-thru, but it’s probably not worth the ire of everyone waiting behind you. With great power comes great responsibility.


  1. Holding babies: One day you may be called upon to hold your friend’s baby/nephew/niece/son/daughter. Some people react more calmly to a jar of spiders being tossed at them than a baby being handed to them. It’s a good skill to learn, so as to not totally freak out the parents. Or you could just never hold a baby.


  1. How to eat food: According to every other video on the Internet, you’ve been peeling/eating/cooking every food the wrong way all of your life and your mother is very disappointed in you.


  1. Singing “Happy Birthday” in tune: Not even Susan Boyle can do this. That’s why you only ever see people singing this song as a group–in the hopes that the cacophony of noises somehow morph into some semblance of a pleasant sound.


  1. Mailing packages: One time in my early 20s I successfully sold something on eBay. I proceeded to mail the actual box of the thing I sold without first putting it in a shipping box. The guy at the UPS store didn’t think to tell me I needed to first put my box in a shipping box. I stuck the shipping label on it, shipped it off, and it promptly was stolen or lost en route. That was the first and last time I ever sold something on eBay.


  1. Using your turn signal: Ever since schools started cutting drivers ed programs, lack of turn signal use has nearly become an epidemic. Humans have not yet developed the ability to telepathically read the part of the brain that performs lane changes and left-hand turns across four lanes of traffic. So until we’ve all evolved into Professor Xavier from X-Men, just use the damn blinker.


  1. Line jumping: Just pick a line and stay in it. Don’t keep line jumping. It’s not worth it.


  1. Getting fees waived: The fees. THE FEES. Service fees, transfer fees, setup fees, installation fees, fees for no damn reason. If you are ever encountered with some kind of B.S. fee, ask for it to be waived. Just ask. As much as companies would hate to not have that money, they need your continued patronage and positive Yelp reviews even more. Sometimes they’ll just waive it. Asking never hurts. I learned this one from my wife. She always asks, and a lot of the time, they do it. Score for the little people!


  1. Splitting the check with more than two people: The bringing of the check at a restaurant is the equivalent of the record needle scratch at a party – the fun just stops. Who ordered what? Do you base the tip pre-tax or post-tax? How much do we leave for the tip? What IS a tip, really? You learned division in school, but when the bill comes, it’s as if you never passed 1st grade math.


  1. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks: School is where you could most use this advice, yet it’s never really taught, and so much needless anxieties and angst could’ve been avoided. People can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, but in the end, you are living you are your life, not them–so do what you believe is right for your life.** Toss out those angsty t-shirts and moody eyeliner. Hot Topic might go out of business, but hey, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs/Linkin Park CDs.


** Exception – your parents. You should listen to them because they love you and care about you and have lots of good life lessons to bestow. They are also probably still paying your cellphone bill. Data plans don’t grow on trees!


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You probably shouldn’t put this on hold.

The Mountains Are Calling

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21 Things You’re Actually Thankful For This Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is all about reflecting on our fortunes and humbly expressing gratitude in a way that Kanye West has yet to master. Right now, you might be thinking that posting a pic of your fabulous tropical vacay with the accompanying hashtag “#blessed” qualifies as showing gratefulness, but you know what? We can do better as a society—and we can do it with a mouthful of mashed potatoes! So this Thanksgiving, let’s put down our phones (except to take meticulously composed pictures of our food like a Bon Appetit shoot). Time to celebrate the following things that make us happy:


  1. Sweatpants. This item of clothing is normally reserved for nights on the couch (or going to the grocery store…or bank…or let’s be honest, everywhere that’s not work). But nobody wants to wear skinny jeans on a day that involves over-eating like you’re trying to make wrestling weight. Enter sweatpants: the perfect post-meal wear, with no awkward unbuttoning of pants in front of 3rd cousins twice-removed.

  2. ALL DAY PUPPY CAMS. Good luck being productive with growing animals learning to open their eyes and be fuzzy:

  3. The Internet. We might not agree on religion, politics, or whether Taylor Swift produces noises that are tolerable. But we can all agree that the Internet is a gift. Can you imagine having a question and NOT being able to have it immediately answered by Wikipedia/xRockPrincessx on Yahoo answers?

  4. Be thankful for the concept of giving “thanks,” because if there were no “thanks,” Thanksgiving would just be “giving,” and that would be Christmas.

  5. The rare occasion when you take a selfie with friends and no one demands to have it retaken due to closed eyes/blur/“omg I look sooo fat!”

  6. Mason jars. Because they make every beverage seem 100% more hip.

  7. Instagram. If you make a beautiful meal and don’t instagram it before consumption… did it even exist at all?

  8. Sweater weather. These woven bundles of warmth are the best because they give the wearer a sense of timeless classiness–when in reality, you just wanted to be comfy and wear a blanket in the form of a shirt.

  9. When plans get cancelled that you were contemplating flaking on and now YOU’RE the one that comes out smelling like roses (AND you get to watch the Chopped marathon you wanted to watch).

  10. When you serendipitously wake up right mere seconds before your alarm clock goes off. Maybe there’s no tooth fairy, but there’s definitely a benevolent sleep fairy that occasionally decides to take pity on you.

  11. Leftovers. Yay, you get to skip grocery shopping for the week! Get ready to feel like you’ve entered a fissure of time and space where Thanksgiving NEVER ENDS and everything faintly smells of stuffing.

  12. Putting on a jacket you haven’t worn in a while, only to find CASH MONAAAY in the pocket.

  13. Killing three birds with one stone, aka eating Turducken.

  14. Netflix. The best surrogate BFF ever, who never mocks you for watching Gilmore Girls for an entire weekend straight. You’re never alone when you have seven seasons of Rory charmingly coming to terms with adulthood to keep you company.

  15. The “like” button on Facebook. Because we all need personal affirmation from the Internet.

  16. Pie. If you’re not thankful for pie… you need to arrange a doctor visit to check your heart and soul. Now is the time to ignore your gluten-free resolution. You can try that in the new year.

  17. Student ID discounts. After you chow down on your Thanksgiving feast, there’s still time to catch a movie! Let’s be honest here… just because you graduated in 2009 doesn’t mean you don’t still use your student ID to get 10% off at the local movie theater. You’re a student of life, after all. And hey, you can pass as a grad student well into your 40s.

  18. Emojis, for when you “just can’t.” If a picture’s worth 1000 words, the sassy dancing lady emoji is worth 10,000.

  19. Mirrors – because unlike people, they are not afraid to tell you that your fly is down.

  20. Doing a perfect parallel park job on your first try. This is something that should go on a resume, really.

  21. Power naps, aka second sleep. Let the tryptophan wash over you. Your belly is full, your family appeased, and the annual Thanksgiving James Bond marathon lulls you to slumber. You are now complete–and dare we say it, thankful.

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5 Thanksgiving Encounters That’ll Make You Wish You Had Gone to Hawaii Instead

Thanksgiving EncountersLong ago—when tights were vital undergarments and weren’t just worn as pants—Thanksgiving’s purpose was to celebrate the harvest. These days, it exists so you can eat the same quantity as a bear, fight with your grown-ass siblings over the TV remote, and dodge your aunt who always asks about your romantic life. Times have changed. That’s not to say that the meaning of the holiday has eroded just because we gather around a football game and liquid cheese dip instead of a hand-woven cornucopia. It’s just that the festivities have turned into a sort of marathon of physical and emotional trials that are equal parts fun and totally awkward. Luckily, whether you’re looking forward to this year’s gathering, or you secretly hope you’ll be detained by airport security for all 4 days because of the slightly sharp pencil in your bag, you’re not alone. Millions will be eating their feelings in an effort to survive, so let’s go over the obstacles we’re about to face and prepare ourselves:


1.       Being home in your old bedroom and being reminded that you once loved N’Sync enough to buy a human-sized cut-out of Joey Fatone


Yes, Joey. In your naïve, experience-lacking adolescent mind, you didn’t even have the foresight to recognize that *Justin* was the one with enduring star quality. (To your credit though, his hair almost exactly resembled a loofah, so how were you to know?). Your room is a museum exhibit of your poor teenage taste, but you’re happy your parents didn’t turn it into a home gym. On the other hand, you now how have to sleep in a 4-walled manifestation of Tiger Beat magazine and acknowledge that you bear significant responsibility for Hot Topic’s success as a company. Bright side? Those studded bracelets and black nail polish will definitely come in handy for future Halloween costumes.


2.       Family members telling mortifying stories about your childhood to your significant other (99.9% of which involve bodily functions)


Dealing with the procession of whacky family members at Thanksgiving is a lot like slogging through the levels of a video game—and if you think your crazy uncle Larry’s annual conspiracy rant about the government is the boss level, you’re probably wrong. Family members are biologically calibrated to make you feel shame in front of potential mates—which seems counterproductive to the perpetuation of the human race, but hey, even science gets it wrong sometimes. With one measly gesture, a relative can make you feel more embarrassment than if you had just come to dinner naked. Even worse, their stories are often corroborated with visual documentation because they are some of the last living souls on Earth who still own a VHS player and satin-covered photo albums. Can a relationship recover after your significant other has just seen a video of your 3-year-old self getting a diaper change at Disney World? It’ll take time, but yes.


3.       Observing your parents create a feast from scratch and being reminded of the fact that you burnt a microwave meal the other day


There is a discrepancy between the education your parents received and the one you received–and the gap has nothing to do with constitutional amendment knowledge and everything to do with the fact that you can’t cook a damn thing for yourself. Chances are, if it’s not microwavable or laden with enough preservatives to last 99 years on a shelf, you aren’t eating it. Your parents, on the other hand, seem to be able whip up a 5-course meal that would make King Henry VIII so impressed, he’d gift them with a golden harp…or fertile cow..or whatever people in the 15th century offered as a gesture of praise. Not to mention, your parents can expertly pair a tablecloth with a centerpiece like some sort of Martha Stewart-programmed hospitality android. Did your school offer a course in this, but you just happened to have mono that semester? Was it federal law that everyone born before 1970 had to learn how to cook meatloaf or risk being branded a communist? Whatever. You’ve got seven Taco Bells in a 5-mile radius and if you really want to cook something, you’ll YouTube how to do it. Suck it, home-ec!

4.       Running into old high school classmates and pretending you still have something in common with them


You’re tasked with going to the store to get eggs. A simple mission, there and back, no distractions, except for maybe the tabloids in the check-out line. “I hope Jennifer Aniston really is happy these days,” you think to yourself with carefree abandon as you eye the chocolate bars. It’s a routine errand—until you hear the high-pitched squeals of what can only be a distressed hamster and turn around to find former student body president Jenni Newmeyer behind you, pretending to be SOOO excited to see you. You were never friends in high school–in fact, she once told you she loved your Von Dutch trucker hat (the 2000s were a confusing time), only to mock you behind your back. You are now have two choices: fight or flight. Either you calmly confront the frenemy with a quick “so good to see you!” or you pull the old “I have an incredibly important incoming phone call that blinds me to the physical objects directly in front of me” and bail. Either way, you can rest easy knowing the only contact you’ll have with this person in the future is eye-rolling her Instagram posts.

5.       Being stuck at the kids’ table as analogy for where you’re at in life


What does it take to earn a coveted seat at the grown-ups’ table? Why, at age 27, are you still being seated with the age bracket of individuals who put rocks in their noses and can’t put on their own pants? Is it because you can’t be trusted with the nice china (or the wine)? Probably not. It’s more likely that the older folks just wanted free childcare for the littlest ones. Regardless, when you’re grouped with the children, it’s easy to think of your assigned dining location as a dig at your maturity level. Never fear—just because you can’t for the life of you understand the stock market doesn’t mean you’ve failed at being an adult. Here’s the (mature) solution to this predicament: hoard the stuffing at your table and make your youngin’ dining companions do your dirty work (clearing off the table, getting you more bread rolls, etc). Take it in stride, because soon, you’ll be stuck with the adults, hearing them spill secrets about their hippie days on a nudist commune–and that is a LOT of responsibility to bear.

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The Top 5 Spots To Go Stargazing In The U.S.

Places To StargazeIf the last time you glanced up at the night sky, you were met by the glow of billboard ads for insurance, it’s time to get away and re-commune with nature! Stargazing is a quintessential road trip activity, and it’s a great reminder that our mortal troubles are pretty petty in the context of the infinite universe. What can we say…there’s something about being out of cell service range that prompts you to stop worrying about what your crush’s Facebook post means and really see the gift of life. Over the years, we’ve combed the country looking for stargazing spots. Check out a few of our favorites:


  1. The middle of South Dakota! We know. Most of us probably couldn’t pinpoint this overlooked state on a map if our life depended on it–but that’s the point. A well-kept secret filled with wide open stretches of road, South Dakota is mostly devoid of those distractions and city lights that taint a night sky. We stopped in SD on a recent road trip for a bit of LED light magic. Let’s just say you don’t need Calvin Harris and hundreds of people to start your own rave.


  1. Mendocino county, specifically at Anthony Peak. The sunset is hours long, and you can see the shadow of the mountain all the way to the horizon. Stars with flashlight-like powers make the sky bright enough to see even on a moonless night, so you’ll get a lit-up tableau no matter the conditions. When you emerge from slumber in the morning, climb the lookout tower and take in the tree-lined hinterland that’ll make you feel like you’re walking around the Sound of Music.


  1. There are several National Parks that offer amazing views of the stars. While each of them has its charms and quirks, we personally recommend Bryce Canyon, The Grand Tetons, Death Valley, and Yosemite. Here’s a photo of the night sky in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Bryce Canyon

  1. With its tan-colored adobes that appear to be molded from the endless sand that lies beneath, Taos, New Mexico is like stepping back to another time and place. The completely preserved town is fiercely devoted to its Southwest roots and has managed to fend off the soul-killing encroachment of urban sprawl, so you won’t find unsightly strip malls creeping in on these unspoiled lands. Park somewhere–anywhere really– and get 360 degree views of pink rock monoliths layered with the passage of time. When the sun goes down, nothing will interrupt your view.


  2. Last but not least: Mount Wilson. Drive only 45 minutes up a mountain road from Los Angeles to where all the cell towers are perched peacefully above the bustling chaos. There are stars, sure, but you’ll also find the incredible, massive sprawl of LA all lit up at night.

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Roadie Blog: Updates from the Road

Hello World!


This is Roadie Jenny (or J-Dog as my fellow Roadies call me). I’ll be keeping you in the loop from the road for the 2014 Roadie Fall Tour! We’re ecstatic to embark on this journey and can’t wait to bring you along with us. But first…


let us take a selfie!

Roadie Blog 1


Monday night we head out (not too far from home) to sunny San Diego, CA. We were instructed by a friend to try a life-changing breakfast place in SD called Snooze, so we wake up so early and find the restaurant isn’t open yet! (But that’s ok because Rick isn’t even awake yet.)

Roadie Blog 2


We finally get in and it is definitely worth the wait and sacrifice of sleep. (Tip: Try the pancake flight – YUM.)

Roadie Blog 3

Roadie Blog 04


We are lucky enough to have an event in the new SD Public Library and it is stunning! The futuristic architecture and contemporary interior make the event that much more exciting.

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Thursday night, we head up to Santa Clarita, CA. The past roadies mentioned that Walmart would become our new best friend for parking an RV, so we do just that. Matt, Rick, and I wake up early and transform the parking lot into our own personal gym with a morning run, yoga, and shower party. We are officially “Walmart people.”

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Bowman High greets us with the warmest of welcomes – we couldn’t ask for a better audience and support from the RTN Outreach Team (Aaron, Loureen, and Kristen). Thank you, all!

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Before continuing on the road, we feel it’s a priority to add to the bobble head crew. Let’s all welcome the cutest one of all (unbiased, of course): Baby Chewbacca!

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We finally make it to San Francisco, CA (Rick’s home) and we’re spoiled with his hospitality and the awesome weather. Gorgeous, eh?

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Lucky for us, it’s the weekend of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, so what better way to celebrate the weekend than with some live music!?

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Since this is Rick’s hood, we get to see him in his element coaching the kids’ hockey team.

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Here’s our outro selfie as we go to our first solo event.

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‘Til next time…J-Dog out.


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Buckets: Campus Events, Roadtrips, Travel

Season 11 Featured Musicians

Roadtrip Nation Season 11 Featured Musicians




Considering there’s a song by The Clox in almost every episode this season, we believe our affection for the band is apparent. They’re a group of guys from Kazakhstan who came to Brooklyn in hopes of getting the word out about their particular brand of alternative rock. Check out the music video for “Jules Verne” below! If you’ve been following our series, you’ve heard snippets of this track in episodes five, six and seven. We just can’t get enough.




To hear about bassist Igor Reznik’s road to becoming a musician, check out his Share Your Road Profile!




Son of Dov’s (or Dennis King’s) folksy, soft-spoken-yet-triumphant songs were a big hit around the Roadtrip offices. King works as a special education teacher alongside writing, recording and performing his music. His latest EP was released in August 2014 and is available here via Noisetrade. “King of the World” was one of the songs we featured this season, and you can see it performed live and acoustic below.




Check out his Share Your Road profile!




Singer-songwriter Jesse Terry’s music also makes an appearance in the series. We like Jesse a lot for his emphasis on intimacy in songwriting, and his ability to find strength in vulnerability. He’s the sort of guy we see being honest with himself and pursuing his dream, which is what our show is all about. Here’s a video of him performing his song “Grace on a Train,” which is featured on the current season of Roadtrip Nation.




Check out Jesse’s Share Your Road profile here!



Don’t let the pluralized name fool you! Paper Arrows is the stage name of Joe Goodkin, a lone-wolf kind of musician. That’s not to say that Joe hasn’t had his share of influencers and helping hands. He’s surrounded himself with plenty of other talented musicians, but these tracks are his and now they’re ours. If you’re keen on folksy love songs with vocabularies larger than “Hey!” and “Ho!,” then don’t miss out on Paper Arrows. Episode 2 features moments of the song “What Changed?,” and you can watch the full, official music video for it below! If you keep an ear out, the same song will show up a few times later in the series, too.




Make sure to read how Joe got to where he is today by checking out his Share Your Road profile.



Vince Maccarone is a composer and musician who can do just about anything. When we first heard his music, we were so impressed by how well he can assimilate different musical styles and make them work to his ends that we snatched up two of his songs,“Syncofunk” and “Save My Soul” for episodes 4 and 5 of Season 11. Vince loves a good fusion and he’s influenced by a jumble of genres, but his heart belongs primarily to world music. Hear him explain why and perform with his band, Los Variants, below.




Make sure to read Vince’s Share Your Road profile to hear his journey!

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Meet the Roadies!

Meet the Roadies

Hooray for fall! We love this season… Pumpkin Spice lattes are back AND it’s time for our Fall Tour! We’re sending our student reps (or as we like to call them, “Roadies”) on a high school tour that will spread the Roadtrip Nation message to students far and wide. The Roadies will be conducting events and talking to students to get them excited about their futures and the opportunities that await after graduation.


Before the Roadies head out, we thought we’d introduce them to you. So, without further ado, meet the 2014 Fall Tour Roadies!



Matt, 23


Fave road trip snack: Jerky

What excites you most about this road trip? Seeing different parts of America.

What place are you most excited to visit? Georgia, because I haven’t been there yet.

Favorite song to blast on repeat on the road: “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend.

Any hidden talents? Parallel parking a 38-foot RV!

Boom! Genie, three wishes, what would you wish for?

1) Courtside Lakers tickets for life.

2) A new pair of socks every day of my life.

3) Finally, I would wish to be an amazing chef.



Griselda, 26


Fave road trip snack: Clif bars (chocolate chip)

What excites you most about this road trip? Our random stops.

What place are you most excited to visit?  The South

Favorite song to blast on repeat on the road: Anything by Pitbull

Boom! Genie, three wishes, what would you wish for?

1) To meet a Kennedy–any!!

2) Own an apt in the Upper West Side of NYC.

3) Have Banda el Recodo play my sister’s wedding!

You’ve just been teleported to a deserted island. What do you miss most about civilization? Bathtubs! This trip will prepare me for that!



Jenny, 27

Roadie Jenny

Fave road trip snack:  red licorice (specifically Red Vines)

What excites you most about this road trip? The endless possibilities of new adventures!

What place are you most excited to visit? Louisiana or Texas because I want to try armadillo meat (I saw it on “Bizarre Foods”).

Favorite song to blast on repeat on the road: Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”

Boom! Genie, three wishes, what would you wish for?

1) My own private jet to travel anywhere in the world.

2) A visit to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

3) To own an island (like Johnny Depp and Richard Branson!)

You’ve just been teleported to a deserted island. What do you miss most about civilization? Hot showers.



Rick, 32

Rick, Roadie

Fave snack: almond butter and apples

What excites you most about this road trip? Meeting students from all over country

Favorite song to blast on repeat on the road: Anything by Earth, Wind, and Fire

Any hidden talents? I’m great at eating burritos.

Boom! Genie, three wishes, what would you wish for?

1) A long trip with my family.

2) For the ability to toboggan down the side of the Luxor in Las Vegas.

3) To know another language.

You’ve just been teleported to a deserted island. What do you miss most about civilization? My mom.



Be sure to follow the team’s adventures on Instagram @roadtripnation!


Roadtrip Nation's Fall Tour Roadies!

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Buckets: Uncategorized
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