Brea's Travel Mantra: Making Memories, Not Excuses - A Lifelong Journey of Exploration
Brea
Brea's Travel Mantra: Making Memories, Not Excuses - A Lifelong Journey Of Exploration
18th Jul | 7 min read

Table of Contents

    Passionate about exploring new places, Brea lived in Europe for most of her 20s, where she also developed her photography skills and learned many valuable travel tips for lesser-known destinations. She has been exploring her own backyard since returning to Alaska in 2017.

    Brea doesn't think waiting until retirement is a good idea when it comes to travel. She aims to help people turn their dreams of traveling to a destination on their bucket list into reality.


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    What Sparked My Interest In Traveling

    Ever since I was young, I’ve always loved travel and being outside. And growing up in Alaska helped shape my love for both. My parents made it a priority to travel ‘Outside’ (what Alaskans refer to when leaving the state) at least once a year. We traveled all over the Western US, visited Hawaii, and made trips to Mexico.

    In college, I decided to pursue international business with the hopes of landing a career abroad. I also studied abroad in Italy. And later, as luck would have it, my husband’s work brought us overseas for six years. I’ve been very fortunate to fulfill many of my travel dreams.

    Duration Of My Trips

    I break down my travels into two categories; before and after children. Traveling with young kids is completely different than traveling as a couple. Currently, we do a lot of shorter trips around Alaska. Luckily we live in a beautiful state that’s a bucket list place for most people, so there’s always something to do.

    While the kids are young, my husband and I trade off on trips while one of us stays back with the kids. We travel with the kids quite a bit, but it’s nice to have some kid-free time too.

    How Do I Decide On My Next Destination

    Flight prices usually determine where I’m going next. I typically price-check a few destinations using Google Flights before settling on the final destination. I’ll also check prices on accommodations before booking my flight. I also consider the cost once we land too. We reserve a healthy budget for travel, but we try to stretch our dollar as much as possible when we can.

    My favorite part of trips is planning our day-to-day activities, tours, and schedule. With the kids, we keep things pretty flexible. But when it’s just us I like to squeeze at least one activity in a day (food tour, excursion, hike, sightseeing, etc.).

    Malta

    Countries We Have Visited & Some Amazing Experiences To Share

    So far, I’ve been to 20 countries. While that pales in comparison to many other travel bloggers, I really enjoy diving into a country I love. 

    For example, when we lived in Stuttgart, Germany, we were only a few hour's drive to France and Italy. I love those countries so we would visit each multiple times a year. Sometimes we went to the same locations but explored different areas (i.e. different towns on Lake Garda and Lake Como).

    I have had so many amazing adventures on our travels. Iceland was one of my favorite countries simply because we were able to do so many adventurous things, like horseback riding Icelandic horses, warming up in the hot springs, and exploring the famous black sand beach.

    Favorite Memories Of Meeting New People

    I have so many stories, I could write a book! There are so many random, hilarious, and sometimes frustrating encounters that occur when you travel. Meeting and interacting with people on my travels is one of my favorite things to do. 

    On one trip, we were riding in our friend's Shelby Cobra through the Swiss Alps. American muscle cars are not normal to see in Europe, so we got a lot of attention everywhere we went.

    To get from Italy to Germany, you can either drive through Austria or Switzerland. We decided to drive through the Spluga Pass, which, at nearly 7,000 feet, is one of the highest paved roads in the Alps. It’s full of hair-pinned turns, often so windy that only one car can fit around each turn. It’s not for the faint of heart.

    One of the reasons we chose this route is that I accidentally left my passport at our friend's house in Germany. Many of the border crossings are not manned or they don’t check your passport, so we thought we’d avoid any trouble by using this route.

    Glacier Heli Tour

    Well, when we made our descent into Switzerland from Italy, there were two police cars up ahead. They flagged our car to pull over, and my stomach was in knots. I was sure our day was going to end with me in jail.

    Once they walked up I explained that I didn’t have my passport but did have a picture of it on my phone (at least I had enough sense to do that!).  Luckily, they didn’t seem to care. They were more interested in my friend's car than whether we had passports. They talked to our friend for about ten minutes while he showed them the Shelby.

    What Inspired Me To Start Blogging

    I am one of those ‘old’ travel bloggers. I started blogging back in 2011 when affiliate marketing and influencing didn’t exist. Instagram was new and at the time was only used to post personal photos. There wasn’t monetization, and it was really used as more of a photo diary.

    I initially started Traveling Igloo because I couldn’t find any helpful information on living in Germany. I wanted to create something to help other people who were moving to Germany or simply planning a visit. 

    In my first few years of blogging, I treated it like a travel diary. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to take it seriously and really learn this whole blogging business.

    Today I write a mix of destination guides, travel itineraries, packing lists, travel tips, and more. I focus on Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe - my areas of expertise. I only write from personal experience and work hard to help people make their travel dreams a reality.

    How Do I Juggle My Family, Work, & Travel

    Currently, my main job is caring for our two kids (a baby and a 6-year-old). The only way I can get work done is to take advantage of naptime (like right now) or in the evenings once the baby is asleep.

    As for travel, my husband and I decided, we would take turns traveling while the other stays back with the kids. We still plan to do a family trip when the Alaskan winter gets too dark and cold, but otherwise, we are limiting big trips with the kids until they’re older.

    Malta

    Safety Measures I Take While Traveling

    To be honest, I don’t take any extra safety measures when traveling. I am aware there’s petty theft so I do have a camera backpack with a false back. I also try to stay aware of my surroundings, but otherwise, I don’t worry about it.  

    With all the trips I’ve taken, I’ve never been robbed or in a situation where I was worried about my safety. If we are traveling somewhere off the grid in Alaska, we will let our family know where we’re going. For some trips, like snowmobiling at Denali State Park, we bring a GPS with tracking.

    Travel Apps & Websites I Use 

    For apps and sites, I love Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) and Google Flights when searching for deals on flights. I have apps for my main airlines to track points and miles as well. Otherwise, I keep things pretty simple, using Google Drive to keep track of my travels.

    GAFFL is such an exciting way to connect travelers. With GAFFL, you can travel solo while also meeting up with people on your own time. I love that I can book a cheap flight by myself (sorry kids!) and meet up with someone once I’m there.

    One Of My Exciting Travel Memories 

    One of my favorite memories was paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland. It was a bucket list item that I was so happy to check off my list. I don’t love heights, so for me, it was exciting to push myself out of my comfort zone.

    Interlaken and Lucerne, Switzerland Summer

    My Advice For Travel Enthusiasts

    The best thing you can do is maximize your vacation time and holidays. Take a holiday weekend and make it a 4-day weekend so you can take a quick trip. Prioritize places you want to travel to and make it happen. I know it’s simple, but creating a bucket list of places to refer back to can be really helpful so you can make your dream travels happen.

    We also set aside funds for travel each month, so when we do want to book a trip we have the money in the account and ready to go.

    Things We Wish We Would Have Known When We First Started

    It’s easy to let the media or one bad situation in the news scare you away from traveling. The truth is, you’re just as safe traveling as you are in your day-to-day life (if not safer). So the main lesson I’ve learned is to not let fear stop you from traveling and seeing the world.

    Cork County Ireland

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