How Travel Can Help Set the Course for the Rest of Your Life

The transition period between college life and adult life can be a confusing one.  A common feeling is that after graduation, one should be ready to take on the world, settle into adulthood, lock down a job, house, family and live happily ever after.  Or perhaps take a few months to travel and explore the globe before accepting a job that will launch into a career, then buy a house, build a family, and live happily ever after.

We are here to encourage the latter. And to do so with intention.  You may have read our ABOUT page and learned the foundation of this company is based on the idea that (1) travel changes people for the better (2) it’s great to experience with other people and (3) it unlocks potential you may not have otherwise known.

For most, the opportunity to have a few months – or even one month – to do as you please is very rare after the education chapter has closed. Instead of jumping into something you will be doing for the next 30-40 years, why not hold off a month or two and embark on a journey of self-discovery?

To ensure you receive the most out of your travels, be sure to include a few key components (all of which are included in each State of Unity experience!).

  1. Spend time connecting with locals. Dive into a new culture, learn with is important to them, their religious beliefs, family structure, daily life, etc.  Do all you can to understand and appreciate an alternative life outlook than how you were raised.
  2. Volunteer. Find at least one organization that could use a helping hand, hopefully one that speaks to your heart and mission.  If you don’t know what that is, try several things.  More often than not, one will develop into a fire of passion and a mission for life.
  3. Appreciate the History. To understand another culture, one must understand that cultures past; the journey it traveled, what makes the current trends last.  An excellent example is Cambodia.  This is a country whose history must be understood in order to understand current state and appreciate the kindness in its people. 
  4. Get Active. Bike Tours, hiking, walking, running, are all great ways to soak in the surroundings.  More of the senses are involved, and you’ll find yourself appreciating the architecture, wildlife, even perhaps pausing along the way for anything that catches the eye. 
  5. Eat Local! Learn what some of the favorite local dishes are and be sure to try at a few local, non-touristy spots.  Perhaps even take a cooking class if they offer local cuisine.

The goal of all of this is to help you reach outside what is already known, let go of expectations, and simply live and experience life. It is through this freedom that passions often grow.


5 Tips for an Unforgettable Trip

Committing to travel takes time, money, resources, and can often be stressful.  It’s a break from the normal routine with the expectation of new experiences, scenery, and places that make all the planning efforts worthwhile. It often doesn’t take much to create memories worth savoring, and these 5 tips will help even the most dynamic traveler have an enriching experience wherever the destination.

  1. Talk to the locals. Ask the hotel staff, barista, or friendly face at the restaurant what their favorite place to go is.  Whether it be a restaurant, park, hiking trail, most likely it won’t be something you’ll find in any travel blog.  This allows you to truly tap into local culture.  Most people are excited about where they live, happy to share all the wonderful things it has to offer.
  2. Hit the streets.  Walk, bike, scooter, run the neighborhood, beach, or district.  This has always been a favorite after arriving in a new place.  Not only is it a great way to see the area, it helps establish a sense of direction and whereabouts. Naturally, if in a place where safety may be of concern, be sure you’re not heading into a bad area.  Talk to registration or concierge to ensure this isn’t the case. 
  3. Ebb & Flow. Such as one cannot control the waves, travel can be the same.  Making plans and arrangements is often necessary and helps you make the most of your time.  It is important to remember time doesn’t hold the same level of importance across cultures.  For example, in the United States, if dinner is ‘soon’ that means one can expect to eat within the hour.  In other parts of the world, ‘soon’ could mean up to 5 hours.  Try to let go of the addition to time and instead enjoy the moments as they come.
  4. Be flexible. Similar to Ebb & Flow, but slightly different.  Once in a new place, you’ll likely come across a few things you weren’t aware of prior to arrival.  If you have a jam-packed schedule, there won’t be any time to try new opportunities.  However, if some gaps are left in days, you can enjoy leisure activities, spurt-of-the-moment excursions, and more.
  5. Get outside the comfort zone. During our interview with Ryan Curtright, he spoke of the passing of time and living the day-to-day life, when years pass by with no real markings.  We tend to keep years marked by gaps in the normal routine, such as trips taken or monumental changes.  Why? These moments mark a moment when we shifted and/or changed.  Traveling allows you to do this many times over.  When adrenaline gets involved and you try something new, it is sure to define you, whether small and known only to you, or transformational and visible to all.  Either way, don’t miss out on renewed excitement for life.

Tips for Safe Travel from a Travel Expert

Experienced traveler or first time on a plane, these rules remain the same.  Always be aware of your surroundings and how you appear.  While some places are coined safer than others, these practices should be applied regardless of where you are.  Nothing kills a good trip faster than a stolen bag or passport.

  1. Always lock your belongings.  Never trust anyone to be responsible for your stuff except you.  There are plenty of stories from travelers being told luggage is fine to leave while going on multiday excursions, returning to no bags, no answers and no solutions.  If staying in a hostel, take advantage of lockers and bring your own lock. Check out our packing list for more tips.
  2. Never keep all your cash/cards/IDs in the same place.  Try to only take what you need for each day with you, and, if in a high-risk area, perhaps even keep it hidden on your body, with a small amount in a more obvious place.  Keep extra cash and any identification you won’t need that day locked up. 
  3. Know your closest exit.  Always be aware of the best way out of a building or where you’re staying.  You just never know.
  4. Be aware of helpful/interested/distracting people.  There are more than enough scam, robbery, and kidnapping stories to go around that we won’t bother getting into more detail here. Just keep your guard up.
  5. Use the cloud.  Upload photos, location, etc. every chance you’re able, on the crazy chance your phone/laptop/etc. somehow disappears.  On this same note, share your location with a few trusted people.
  6. Move like a local.  Blend in as much as you can in areas that aren’t resort-like, tourist hotspots.  And even then, it doesn’t hurt.  Don’t be that guy or girl standing on a street corner looking at your phone trying to figure out which direction to go.  Step inside or lean off somewhere to look more natural.  Try to not stare at your phone/directions as you walk and be aware of your surroundings.  If things start to feel different or you feel the neighborhood shift, trust your gut.
  7. Bring a first aid kit.  Anything is possible.  Blisters, splinters, sunburn, who knows!  And, who knows what will be available where you’re headed or how far you’ll have to travel to get it. You can order a simple full kit from pretty much anywhere, and then add whatever is missing.
  8. Be food-conscious.  Meats left in the sun, unwashed vegetables, ice cubes and water.  Something as simple as brushing your teeth from faucet water could derail your plans for the next 24+ hours. Be aware of where you’re going and how it differs from where you’re from.  Food illness is never fun, and even less so when not in the comfort of your own home.
  9. If you’re going to party, do it smart.  Don’t accept drinks from strangers, drugs are never a good idea, and stay sober enough to be aware of your surroundings and in control of your actions.  We shouldn’t have to go into more detail here.  Be smart, stay in control.
  10. Leave valuables at home.  Flashy jewelry, designer bags, even some wedding bands are better left home than tempting a would-be thief.  If you must bring, or your destination is pretty safe, remain cautious and aware.
  11. Make copies of necessary documents.  Old-school printouts of reservations, contacts, manifests, and IDs come in handy often.  Again, on the unfortunate chance of a lost or stolen phone, these will be your lifeline.
  12. Research before you go.  Educate yourself on local customs, travel tips, crime rates, scams, exchange rates, average cost of meals, taxis, etc, and general geography. This will help reduce the chance of being caught off-guard with having to pay for something with no idea what the cost should be.

The more aware and prepared you are upon arrival, the more confident you’ll feel, allowing you to enjoy each moment of the journey. 

We love feedback – let us know what you think of our list, if it helped you, or anything you would add.  Safe & happy trails! Now pick the experience that’s right for you!


No Reservations

*My 1st Solo Trip Abroad*

As an event manager in Florida, the Christmas season was not one of celebration but what I liked to call “No Sleep Season” based on the simple fact that we were so busy and so stressed we did not sleep from November through April.  This year, I managed to have a tiny open pocket around Christmas, so booked a flight to Belize (thank you reward points!).  The selection was based on flight duration, cost, and proximity to beaches.

Allow me to preface this by saying I do not recommend traveling like I did – with zero plans, no reservations, and no one knowing my whereabouts.  Admittingly, this lack of planning is part of what makes the memory so fun, but I don’t recommend it.  Well then, let’s start at the beginning.

Typical of myself, it was a quick decision that took all of 15 minutes.  Maybe 30.  Most people stress-shop for shoes, I buy plane tickets.

Between work and the little sleep I was able to enjoy, trip planning was not top of my to-do list.  Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Belize with not so much as the first hotel night booked.  Much of this was due to being busy, but if I’m being honest, it was also due to my fear to pull the trigger.  This was my first solo trip abroad, the options were overwhelming, and I had no idea how long or where to stay. 

The little research I did do informed of a few things:

  • Get out of the city and to the islands as fast as possible (for safety)
  • The cab rate from the airport to the ferry
  • A lovely yoga retreat right on the beach, within my budget

My seatmate was a middle-aged man, tightly clasping a 4-inch thick stack of manila folders.  We chatted a bit; apparently the file cabinet on his lap was the itinerary for his family.  Every year they take a trip over the holidays.  He carried their master plan.  He then asked who I was traveling with (no one), and where I was going (not sure), and surely I must know where I’m staying (actually no, no reservations…do you have any suggestions?).  Mr. Spreadsheet’s eyes grew wide, he turned straight ahead, and didn’t say another word the rest of the flight. I still laugh about the mini heart attack I likely gave him.

Over the next five days, I snorkeled with stingrays and sharks, hiked ancient Myan ruins, rode co-pilot on a tiny plane that landed in a cow field, made new friends and never dined alone.  When traveling solo, you find yourself making conversation everywhere with everyone.  Because there isn’t a security blanket of familiar faces, you naturally meet more people.  There wasn’t a single moment I recall feeling lonely.

The entire experience was empowering, fun, and unforgettable.  I made friends with a group of American travelers who had a flight around the same time as me.  We pitched in for a car together, hung out at the airport, and stayed in touch. A year or so later, met in Iceland for an RV road trip of a lifetime; something that surely wouldn’t have happened if I were traveling with companions.

When going completely solo you’re forced to decide what you want, where you want to go, and what you want to do.  It’s a journey of self-discovery, where the only one deciding what you want is…YOU!

If the idea of a solo trip terrifies you, but you really want to give it a shot, start out with a small group trip!  It removes the stress of planning while leaving all the fun elements of meeting new people, trying new things, and visiting new places (like Belize, perhaps?!).  You will be free to be 100% authentically you.  We can’t wait to see who that is and have a feeling you can’t either.

Author: Cara Irene


The Glorified State of Busy

On a recent flight to Costa Rica, I read an article interviewing a well-known entrepreneur.  The opening paragraph presented the case for appreciating how busy she is, touching on all the tasks to complete, meetings to shuffle and general bustle of the day.  If you were to read behind the lines, it may sound something like “if you aren’t busy, you aren’t successful” or “a successful life is a busy life.”

The more time I spend traveling, especially outside the US, the more I disconnect from the American obsession of ‘busy.’  Not long ago, I prided myself on 70+ hour work weeks, board meetings, volunteer commitments, networking events, early morning sweat sessions and no free time for the next 17 days. 

Fortunately, I’ve found a place to exist where busy no longer equates happy. 

I can’t place exactly when the transition occurred, but I can place when I noticed the change.

After a 6-day hike up Kilimanjaro, I migrated to the soft sand beaches of Zanzibar.  Having the crystal-clear water to look forward to is half of what kept me going to summit.  That and the mantra “pole, pole” – slowly, slowly.  On the descent, I reflected of how five days of slowly placing one foot in front of the other eventually lead me to the peak of the highest mountain in Africa.  The task itself was massive and overwhelming, but when I focused on one step at a time, it was done in only a few days.

I’m the type of person who freezes at large goals and projects.  It’s difficult for me to start on ‘big picture’ tasks, often feeling overwhelmed with the length of time and tasks needed to get the job done.  However, looking back on the past six days, knowing the only thing that got me there was each small step I took, I felt encouraged.  If, each day, I can accomplish even one small task, eventually I will end up exactly where I need to be.

A few days later, I was enjoying the sunset on Paje Beach, Zanzibar. I walked past a family sitting around a fire, the waves gently rolling in front of them.  A local chef was preparing to grill fresh seafood, likely some sort of package deal booked through their hotel.  As I continue to walk, I overhear the mother asking the chef “at what time is dinner?” 

An audible pause as he likely smiled, understanding her not understanding there is no need for time.

I smiled too. It was then I realized I am no longer this woman.  Instead, I am the one who enjoys the moment.  When the meal is served, I will enjoy that too.  But until then, I am at peace, not questioning the flow of time, but simply flowing with it.

Author: Cara Irene


Do You Travel or Do You Vacation?

Immersing into different cultures is right up there with summit sunrises on reasons I travel. In complete honesty, and hopefully no offense, I struggle understanding the appeal of resorts.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs a relaxing holiday every now and then.  And trust me, any day on the beach or poolside is a good day in my book.  What I dislike about the resort vacation is the mass tourism.  Miles of luxury hotels and condos, with all-inclusive packages, tour offerings, and a private beach and pool.  It frustrated me that of all the people visiting these places, close to none probably step outside of the tourist area and really immerse into the cultural and geography.  “What’s the point of spending all the time and money to get to another country if you never truly immerse in the culture?” I ask.

“It’s important to remember, some people are travelers, and some are vacationers.”

Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation on how to travel better.  Not only for ourselves, but others.  How to be aware of the environmental impact, eat and buy local, etc.  But also, what ‘traveling better’ means.

Travelers, by our definition, immerse completely into their surroundings. Street food, excursions they learned of from another traveler or elsewhere, making friends with locals…they dive all in.  Typically, this includes a mindset to take in as much as possible, never staying in one place too long.  The goal is to see and experience as much as possible.

Vacationers, on the other hand, are on a mission to unplug from the hustle and bustle, relax, and appreciate quality time.  They may embark on a few excursions, spending the majority of their time at the resort enjoying everything it has to offer.

While each provides a different experience, both create an influx of job opportunities in tourism.  An accredited tour booked by a resort puts currency in locals’ hand just the same as buying a snack from a street vendor.  Not to mention the hundreds if not thousands of job opportunities at the resorts.

Thus, after no debate, we agreed Travelers and Vacationers each hold great opportunity to improve lives of others. First, by putting money into the local economy.  Second, both have an incredible opportunity to be vocal on the importance of tourism and environmental impact.  Choices like staying at properties who adhere to environmental guidelines, using a refillable water bottle, and eating local all hold the key to a sustainable future.

So, whether you identify as a Traveler or Vacationer, do what makes you happy, buy local, and keep consumption of resources at a minimum.  This will help ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the same places in the same way.

I left our conversation with a renewed appreciation for all types of travel.  Each vibe speaks to a different tribe.  Yet at all boils down to the same goal – a break from the norm, a new experience, and enriched life.  Such is a State of Unity.

Author: Cara Irene


Best Travel Apps of 2021

Make you trip even easier by downloading these apps before you go.  From packing lists to moped and scooter rentals, this list has something for every stump in the road.  Many are our personal favorites; we’re excited to give them a shoutout and hope you’ll grow to love them too!

Rome2Rio. Founded in 2011 by two backpackers frustrated with the complex and time-consuming research required to travel abroad, Rome2Riio is like Google Maps for travel junkies.  Enter any address, landmark, or city and the app instantly displays all possible travel and booking options, along with length of time, mode of travel, and cost.  In Europe, Canada, and the US, Omio is their sister platform.

WhatsApp.  This is becoming the platform most global and travel businesses use.  It works off wifi, which eliminates the need for a SIM card and cell service.  It’s owned by Facebook, and offers pretty much all the same features; text, phone calls, video chats, user locations, send photos, documents, and other content.

Strava. The #1 app for runners and cyclers.  This distance tracking app has a social networking component and the ability to share your live accurate location, an excellent safety feature when traveling.  It keeps record of where you’ve been and your routes, which can be fun to look back on and also share recommendations.

SayHi. There are about 7,000 different languages in the world, and we are thankful to be alive when all we need is a smartphone to communicate across them.  SayHi has 90 languages and dialects to select from.  Record your voice, adjust the speed, select man or woman voice, and translate to language you need to communicate in.  You can also type in words if voice/sound isn’t ideal. 

Lime. Through the equitable distribution of shared scooters, bikes, and transit vehicles, Lime aims to reduce dependence on cars.  E-mopeds, scooters, and bike stations can be found by using the app.  Lime can be found in over 100 cities internationally (mostly US & Europe), and in the cities where Lime doesn’t exist, there is likely a similar app to help get you from A to B.

Packpoint.  This handy app organizes what you need based on trip length, weather, and planned activities.  It then builds your packing list accordingly and even gives your list its own website. Share the url with your travel buddies to keep everyone in the know.  You can also check out our *packing list link* to get started!

All Trails.  The beauty of nature doesn’t have to be hard to find.  The goal of All Trails is to build the largest collection of hand-curated trail guides, making it simple to explore with confidence.  With over 100,000 trails and 20 million users, they’re well on their way.  Filter by hiking, running, bike, difficulty level, kid/dog friendly, etc. Read reviews and pictures to ensure you select the perfect trail for your needs.

Sources:,, ecoasia, Town & Country “the best travel apps you need on your phone before a trip” Hannah Seligson. 10.21.2019., “The best translation apps 2021” Muhammad Zeshan Sarwar. 12.17.2020.


Packing Guide

What Should I pack?!

If you’ve never traveled internationally, or even if you have, the packing process can be overwhelming. What if you forget something and the product isn’t sold where you’re going?  Will there be a Walgreen’s or CVS or pharmacy?   And the clothing; how can you possibly plan for 10 days in advance in an unfamiliar climate?!

Breathe. Relax.  We have you covered.

Follow our guide to help make the most of your luggage space, ensure you don’t miss any essentials, and remove the stress of over or under packing.


  1. Passport.  Pull it out right away and make it the first thing in your pile to ensure it’s not forgotten.  Check the expiration date, and mark your calendar about 6 months prior to it’s expiration to ensure you’re covered.   If you need a passport, start the process as soon as you can.  It typically doesn’t take as long as they estimate, but it’s not a thing to gamble with. If you’re within 1-2 months of travel, we recommend paying to expedite.  The few dollars to guarantee on time delivery is well worth the stress relief, not to mention the cost of a lost trip if it doesn’t arrive in time.
  2. Cash.  This is a huge one.  Majority of places don’t accept credit cards, and ATMs aren’t readily available.  One recent trip, I did a fairly good job of budgeting, yet ran out of cash on my last day.  This also happened to be the only day it rained, and the closest ATM was about a 2 mile walk, one way. To save yourself from this, be mindful of any additional expenses, food budget, shopping, etc. along with the exchange rate.  Personally, I feel it’s better to have a little extra than come up short.  A few dollars or coins in a different currency is a fun souvenir.
  3. Debit Card. Given the story shared above, this bullet point should be a no brainer.
  4. “Hidden” Wallet. Where you keep your cash, cards, passport, and anything else along those lines.   Lots of great options to keep this under clothing layers. Or, if that doesn’t suit your style, be sure to pick something that can’t easily be grabbed or dug into like a fanny pack worn in front or a crossbody bag with a zipper closure.  Backpacks are not recommended for daily use, and when you do use them, try to not use outside pockets for storage.  It’s easy to get comfortable and trusting, only to find your phone missing after a short train ride.
  5. Reusable Water Bottle. One like LifeStraw that filters the water is even better.
  6. Toiletries. Sunscreen, shower essentials (lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sanitizer, etc). Tweezer, nail clippers come in handy if small, but not necessary. Travel tissues/wipes are also a must.
  7. Camera. GoPro. Camera on your phone.  Any or all will do the trick. We recommend backing up to a cloud every night…just in case.
  8. Journal.  During the trip, you’ll find yourself thinking “I’ll never forget this!”  Truth moment – you will.  Try your very best to journal every evening or while enjoying morning coffee.  This is also a great way to pass time while traveling between destinations.  No matter when you do it, we promise this is time well spent. After the journey is over, combine the photos and journal in a photo book.  As the years and travels pass, you’ll find yourself with a wonderful collection of memories.  We can’t imagine a better coffee table book!
  9. Sunglasses, kept safe in a hard case.
  10. Comfy walking shoes. Regardless of warm or cold climate, this is a must.  We usually take an old pair of tennis shoes because they often get so dusty and gross by the end of the trip that we don’t want to stick them back in our luggage.  I’ve left tennis shoes everywhere from Japan to Zanzibar
  11. Versatile sandals. Unless traveling somewhere cold, sandals that are nice enough to be worn to dinner or nicer occasions, and also comfortable enough to walk in are a must.  You’ll likely find yourself walking more than you would at home, and for many days in a row, so comfy shoes and sandals keep this an enjoyable experience instead of a painful one.  If headed to a cold climate, consider packing fluffy slippers instead.
  12. Layers.  Whether it be a swimsuit and jacket, jeans or sweatshirts, fleece, down, and waterproof shell, be sure to pack plenty of layers to accommodate the variety of weather you may experience.


  1. Clothing to match culture.  Again, we’ll send you a more specific list after you book your trip, but it’s important to keep in mind cultural differences and norms, especially for females.  As global travel becomes more frequent, not to mention access to social media, cultural differences in dress attire have become more accepted.  However, we still recommend being aware and respectful of the differences.  Not only does this remove uninvited attention and stares, but it shows respect for the culture you are visiting.
  2. Pajamas.
  3. Reading material.  Digital is best, downloaded for when there’s no wifi.  This goes for music as well.
  4. Headphones/earbuds.
  5. Sleeping mask. Great for plane rides, train rides, and a room brighter than desired.
  6. “Fake” Wallet. When traveling to areas of high theft, this is a genius idea. Keep your real stash somewhere safe on you, and keep a fake wallet where it makes sense (in your fanny pack, pants pocket, etc.).  On the extremely unfortunate chance someone asks for your wallet, you give them this one, which has maybe a few dollars and old ID card, enough to make them believe it’s real and you’re safe to walk away with the important stuff still intact.

Naturally, these are only our recommendations and is not an exhaustive or definitive list.  What you want to pack will vary with each person, destination, climate, and trip type.  This is merely our guide based off experience, in hopes to save you some headache and stress in your travels.  Be safe, be outgoing, live!


When is Small Group Travel the right fit?

Why consider small group travel?  How do you know if group travel is the right fit for you?  And if it is, how do you know which travel agency to use?  Do you make your decision from reviews by strangers whom you have no idea what their likes and dislikes are and if they are similar to you?  The following guide is designed to help you make an educated decision based on your specific goals, needs, and interests.  While we hope the end result will have you booking our next adventure, it may not be the right fit at this time.  And that’s fine!  We also assist with private bookings, should that be the direction needed.  But here, we focus on the small group travel category.

  1. There are places you want to go (Iceland, anyone?!), but don’t have anyone to go with and don’t want to go alone. 

This is probably the most common reason people end up here.  Whether it’s financial, PTO, family or other commitments, there are lots of things that keep people tied to the daily grind.  Group travel is an excellent solution here because it allows you to keep living your life unrestricted.  More than likely, everyone you will meet during the tour will have similar interests as you, or they wouldn’t have ended up there.  

  1. Planning a vacation abroad is overwhelming!  How do you even begin?!

Foreign currencies, unknown languages, and unfamiliar places are just some of the things you must juggle when planning.  Not to mention the limitless amount of information, reviews, tour guides and excursions.  Selecting the right one could make or break a day or an experience, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  When using a tour company, you can rest assured they have built personal relationships with the locals and have run the same routes time and time over.  They will be using guides who speak your language and want to make sure your experience is just as good, if not better, than those prior to ensure they continue to get a paycheck.

  1. My life is in a rut, I need to shake it up, try something new, branch out of my routine!

If this is you, you are definitely in the right place!  Can you think of a better way to get your mind, body, and existence into a new flow state?  You will spend your time surrounded by new people, places, foods, and experiences.  It’s practically guaranteed you’ll return with a new spark for life, new interests. And appreciation for your experience.

  1. I’ve always wanted to try a mission trip, but, if I’m being honest, I’ve never felt called to any specific place or area.

Speaking from personal experience, if this is you, please, please sign up today!  Entering into a travel experience with an open heart, allowing God to take you where you belong, will alter the rest of your life in the most amazing way.  Check out our about page to learn more.  

  1. I’m too busy to plan everything on my own.  I just want to show up, have a good time, and relax!

Our small group trips are perfect for those who want someone else to handle the details.  We cover everything from day one to end, even sharing suggested things to do during free time.  Instead of booking a flight on your own and just winging it, why not book with us knowing you won’t miss out on any of the ‘must sees’ and not have to figure anything out once you arrive?