Shaky Knees Music Festival 2019: Festival Lookbook, Beauty, Photos, Drinks & More

Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel

It’s official, my musical festival cherry has been popped. For years I’ve lived vicariously as friends have gone to music festivals all over the country, with Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella being the most popular. I’ve been to so many concerts but never a festival. I’ve thought about it over and over but something always stopped me. Either I didn’t know the bands, didn’t have other people to go with or didn’t have the money. But after being invited to Shaky Knees Music Festival, I finally decided it was the right time and the right festival for me.

Shaky Knees is an annual three-day festival held in Central Park in Atlanta. It features over 60 bands that range from world-renowned to up and coming artists. It’s the perfect festival for those who are interested in rock, punk, or alternative bands. It’s not the kind of festival where you hear the loudest and dirtiest rap and hip hop music. You won’t find Cardi B singing about her designer bag and bloody shoes at Shaky Knees.

The 2019 Shaky Knees Lineup included Beck, Tame Impala, Cage the Elephant, Incubus, Tears for Fears, Gary Clark Jr., Interpol, Tash Sultana, Maggie Rogers, Group Love, and many more. Make sure to stay until the very end to hear who’s performances stood out and made my top 5 list!

With it being my very first music festival, I wanted it to be right. I wanted to have fun with it, because we all know that festivals are now about SO much more than just the music. It’s about fashion, beauty, the experience, and the pictures! In this post, you’ll be able to find my outfit details for each day, get my favorite (somewhat healthy) festival drink recipe, learn how I created my glowy, photo-ready makeup, and more! This was Shaky Knees 2019!

Festival Lookbook

So we all know that music festivals have become more fashion shows than anything else. Ever since Instagram has allowed people to document their outfits and good times at festivals, what you wear to the festival is an even bigger deal than who you see there. I wanted to put together a little lookbook for my three Shaky Knees outfits to give you some inspiration and ideas for your next festival. I also included where I got each item and links if you want to recreate it yourself.

Outfit 1

My first look I wanted to do something cute, comfy, and colorful to start off the weekend. I decided to go with a flowy, off the shoulder rainbow top with white biker shorts and a few accessories. The nice thing about Shaky Knees is that it’s not one of those festivals where people go over the top with their outfits. So something cute and summery is perfect.

Flowy off the shoulder top and white biker shorts with lace from both from Forever 21. The black fringe bag is from Amazon, as well as the face star stickers. My bright, beaded necklace I bought on a trip to Savanna from a local artist. The turquoise sun pendant was a gift from my grandma. And lastly, the beaded bracelets are from a little shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg called Gopali Imports where the owner travels to Nepal to buy all of his jewelry and clothes.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Bracelets from Gopali Imports.

Outfit 2

My second look I decided to do something bolder – I wanted an all white and black look. I wanted to be comfy, but I always wanted the look to be more dramatic.

I decided to make this outfit pop by wearing a black and white tie dye crop top from Gray Space in St. Petersburg, yoga pants with a super cute slit down the side of the leg from Forever 21, and very chunky jewelry. My wrap-around sun bracelet, earrings, and silver bib necklace are all from Etsy. All of the rings I wore I collected from different cities I’ve been to, rock shops in Florida, and from gifts from family. I then added a bunch of black temporary tattoos I bought from Amazon. I decided that I wanted to go with all black tattoos because they stand out to me more than the shiny flash tattoos that have become super popular. It makes a statement and not every single person is using them.

The temporary tattoos were the BIG hit throughout the weekend. Everywhere I went people gave me compliments on them and asked if they were real. I had a bunch of people tell me that I should get real tattoos that looked just like them. I also loved how they popped in all the photos that I took throughout the festival. AND they were great quality! I was expecting temporary tattoos to wear off right away but surprisingly they were SUPER strong. Next time I’ll be prepared and have some exfoliating gloves with me and rubbing alcohol when I want to remove the tattoos. Parts of the tattoos stayed on for days after the festival, so you can bet that they’re going to hold up through sunscreen and sweat at your next festival.

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Outfit 3

My third and final outfit for Shaky Knees was very laid back and summery. I wanted to wear something a little bit more exciting and interesting, but by the end of a festival weekend in the hot Atlanta sun with next to NO sleep, I was wanting to keep the last outfit pretty simple and comfortable. So I apologized to my VERY large suitcase filled with accessories and about a dozen tops I brought along to Atlanta and put together this outfit instead.

I wore my white shorts from American Eagle, a bright red, twisted crop top from Fashion Nova, and a tropical button-up crop top from Ash Couture in St. Petersburg. I wore a mixture of the same jewelry I had worn with other outfits and to finish off the look, and my trusted Converse (which still need a very good, deep clean after that weekend).

If you’d like the re-create the look yourself, check out these links:

Boho Festival Beauty

If you want to be music-festival ready, you obviously don’t want to neglect your skin and makeup!

Throughout my weekend at the Shaky Knees Music Festival I knew I was going to be taking a lot of pictures. There would be tons of Instagram stories and posts to come! In getting ready for the festival I wanted my skin to look bright, healthy and glowing AND I wanted my makeup to stand out and look pretty in photos without caking my face. I was never into that overly made up and contoured look that you see all over YouTube. Here’s how I got glowing skin and put together my makeup if you’d like to try it yourself!

Skincare

I started off each day using my Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, which is Mad Hippie’s most popular product. The serum leaves your skin with that beautiful glow that we all want but is so freaking hard to obtain! To make sure my skin looked bright and refreshed that weekend, I even used the Vitamin C serum at night too. It gives you that glow while evening out skin texture and treating dark spots. I finished both my nighttime and daytime routine with my other Mad Hippie products as usual. If you want my full Mad Hippie product review and routine, you can find it in my blog post, “Mad Hippie Skincare Product Review + Instagram Giveaway.

Right after applying my serum and moisturizer in the mornings, I then applied a little bit of my favorite Facial SPF by Mad Hippie. This sunscreen is a natural 30+ SPF with zinc oxide. I absolutely love this sunscreen because it’s the only facial sunscreen I’ve ever used that completely protects me from sunburn. Which is saying a lot because I burn like you can’t even imagine. My skin is either snow white or beet red, thanks to my Irish blood – so when I put my stamp of approval on a sunscreen, I mean business. The other reason why I love this sunscreen (way more than it’s normal for a person to love a sunscreen), is because it doesn’t clog my pores! This SPF was the first thing to get packed before I left for Shaky Knees.

Makeup

For Shaky Knees and our countless pictures, I wanted my skin to look beautiful and healthy, BUT I also wanted to make a bit of statement.

In planning my makeup look for the weekend, I ended up finding a makeup company called Glossier that I’ve really fallen in love with. The products are designed to enhance natural beauty without making you look like a completely different person. It’s meant for those of us who want to look good, without having to do buy products that are meant to create that thick, caked on the makeup look you’d see on beauty YouTubers. However, these products also offered the ability to build them up and make a statement if you wanted to.

The products I used to make this look include:

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in G12. This shade is perfect if you have super light skin like me with pink undertones. It’s not a foundation that gives you great coverage, but it brightens up your skin and makes it glow. Even my boyfriend noticed how bright my skin looked after I used this foundation (and we all know that boys don’t notice much). After putting the foundation on, I followed it up with my Bare Minerals Powder Foundation that I normally use for better coverage. It didn’t cover up the glow from Glossier, it just corrected any dark spots, blemishes, and imperfections that were still there after applying the Skin Tint.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam. This is the most perfect blush I’ve found to date. It’s very hard to impress me when it comes to makeup and skincare, but these first two products are fantastic. Cloud Paint in Beam created the perfect, natural, rosy flush to my cheeks. It looked so beautiful AND because it’s a liquid blush it looks natural. Plus, all you need is a tiny dot because the product is highly pigmented. If there’s one product I will keep returning to it’s this brand and it’s 100% this blush. I’ve been using it every single day since the festival.

Glossier Generation G in Zip. This is how I got that lovely pink flush on my lips throughout the weekend. Glossier Generation G lipstick is meant to go on light at first but then build with each swipe. I put three layers on to make my lips stand out and look beautiful in photos.

Glossier Haloscope in Moonstone. The Haloscope is the most subtle highlighter I’ve ever come across. It’s perfect if you’re like me and you love glowing beautiful skin but you don’t want your makeup to be too obvious. I love glowing skin but I don’t want my highlighter to be the first thing people see – I prefer to be a little bit more subtle than that. This highlighter gave me a beautiful glow with very minimal product or effort. This is another product that I’ve been using daily since the festival. All I have to do is swipe it on the tips of my fingers and dab it on my cheekbones to add some shine and a soft glow in the morning.

Glossier Lidstar in Cub. I’m a HUGE fan of pink and rose gold eyeshadows. I love how feminine rose gold is and how the pink compliments my skin tone. I chose to use the Lidstar product for Shaky Knees over my regular eyeshadow because I loved how much the color popped for photos. When you’re going to be spending an entire weekend taking photos with friends, you don’t want to go for the same makeup routine you do every day. This product has a beautiful shimmer to it and is super quick and easy to apply with your finger tips.

Brows: For my eyebrows, I filled them in as I normally do with my Anastasia DipBrow Pomade in Taupe. I then follow my brow makeup up with Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Gel in Deep Brown which keeps my eyebrows in place and in the right direction so they don’t end up sticking out and looking all crazy. But this time instead of using my go-to Maybelline product I used my new Boy Brow from Glossier in the color Brown. It adds a little bit more color just like the Maybelline does and keeps your brow hairs in place.

Lashes: I got my eyelash extensions done right before Shaky Knees by a business in downtown St. Pete called “Lash Addict.” This set is the natural set in a classic shape. These lashes are created to make your eyes pop in photos while still looking more natural. I’m so glad I got them done before the festival because it saved me from having my mascara melt and smudge away in the hot Atlanta sun or have to keep checking for mascara flakes!

Nails: My nails I got done at my go-to place in St. Pete called “LeAnn’s Nails.” For events or shoots when I’m going to be taking a lot of photos I always love wearing white nail polish because of how simple and beautiful it is, but it still pops in all the photos. But because I was in the festival spirit, I decided to go for a metallic, gel nail polish that was white, but flashed little rainbows in the sun. I’m not sure what exact color it is because it didn’t come in a bottle, but if you ask your nail tech for their gel colors, they will most likely have some of those metallic options. I absolutely LOVED this color for the festival and have debating getting it again since I got back. The color is gorgeous and compliments every outfit.

My Shaky Knees Cocktails AKA Chambucha

So now that you’re looking all glowing and beautiful, lets get to the really fun stuff – the drinks. Wanna let loose and have a good time … but you know, get your daily dose of probiotics? 😂 Matt and I used to go to a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in St. Augustine called Sarbez that sold buy-one-get-one free “Chambucha” – kombucha mixed with Champagne. For Shaky Knees, we decided to recreate them ourselves. We bought a bunch of bottles of champagne and my absolute FAVORITE Kombucha by KeVita.

All we did was mix them half and half – and voila! That’s how you get healthy and have a good time right there. Try it! (If you’re over 21.. Ugh don’t you hate it how we live in a world where we have to give disclaimers like that so we don’t get sued?)

Just to make the festival experience even more exciting, we decided to buy a little party favor most known as a “Chambong” – it’s a bong for champagne. Or what the makers of our champagne bongs call the “rapid champagne consumption device.” We also got this idea from some of the bars in St. Augustine and St. Petersburg that keep these champagne bongs around for bachelorette parties.

We bought some plastic versions online so we wouldn’t be upset if they got damaged in our suitcase, and surprisingly they were super easy to use. I was expecting a big mess and for the champagne to spill out the bottom of the flute, but it doesn’t! Matt and I started out our weekend with a “rapid” champagne toast! If you’re ever going to a festival with a group of people or having a party, you can find them on Amazon here, and I guarantee they’ll be a big hit. Plus people LOVE taking pictures and videos of them.

But remember: Drink Water. This festival was pretty tame and I didn’t see much drama or anyone’s partying getting out of hand, BUT I did see a girl who passed out because of heat exhaustion. Too much alcohol, plus the sun, dancing, heat, and not enough water is a recipe for disaster. I’m all about relaxing and having a good time on vacation, but remember to take care of yourself. Before we would leave the AirBnb for the festival each day, I actually would take several WATER bongs out of the champagne flutes. Am I weird? Maybe. But I think it was really smart. I made it a point to drink water before the heat, the sun, and the drinks got to me.

Instant Photos

Aside from sunscreen and water, the next most important thing that I had to bring with me to Shaky Knees was my FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera! Of course, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with my FujiFilm camera. As much as I love how easy and convenient it’s become to take photos on our phone and share them instantly, there’s something that’s so special about taking a picture and having a hard copy. It’s a souvenir that you can actually take home with you and hang up to remember the fun you had. Matt and I got our FujiFilm right when we started dating and since then we’ve created a photo wall from all the instant photos of our travels, favorite memories, and our friends.

I also love my FujiFilm because I love the lighting and the effects of the photos. We’re so used to seeing beautiful, photoshopped and filtered photos, that it’s nice to have some photos that have some character and imperfections. Here are some of my favorite instant photos from the weekend.

If you’d like to get your own, there’s tons of FujiFilm cameras on Amazon here!

My Top Five Artists

Of course, I couldn’t talk about my time at the festival without talking about the music. I didn’t know many bands going into it, but after walking around and hearing dozens of bands perform, I not only discovered bands for the first time, but also found some new favorites. Here are my top five favorite artists and bands from Shaky Knees 2019!

Out of the musicians that I saw, Tash Sultana’s looping was the BEST part of the entire festival. I’m a sucker for looping artists who can play a dozen different instruments and make up an entire song from nothing but their own two hands without a band to back them up. Every time I hear a looping artist I completely forget the world around me and lose all sense of time. There’s nothing more interesting to me than watching someone create an entire song on stage without any help. I would rather watch one looping artist than an entire band!

Out of all the bands I watched, Cage the Elephant was by far the best. I’ve never seen a performance that was so strange and so over the top. Leader singer Matt Shultz was impossible to pull your eyes off of. The only way I could think to describe his dancing was creepy. It was filled with dance moods that reminded you of a contortionist with strange faces that gave me flashbacks to watching American Horror Story. I LOVED it. Cage the Elephant got moved up from 9 pm to 8:30 because it was supposed to start raining, and RAIN it did. Even though Matt and I were completely soaked standing in the middle of a crowd outside, we didn’t want to move. The performance was so fascinating we didn’t mind the cold, the crowds, or the rain. Seeing Cage the Elephant and Tash Sultana alone were worth the tickets.

My other favorite bands included Electric Guest, Bad Books, and Grouplove. Electric Guest is an L.A. based indie pop and indie rock group whose music performance was so much fun to watch. It was a performance that just made me happy to just there. Have you ever watched a band and noticed how much fun they were having that you just couldn’t help but smile and feel good to be surrounded by their presence? That’s what it was like watching Electric Guest. The dance moves from lead singer, Asa Taccone, with his bright orange jumpsuit and quirky dancing was by far my favorite part of watching them perform.

My next favorite band that would also fall into the indie rock genre was Bad Books. Their music stood out to me right away and was something that I could see myself putting on in the car when I feel like relaxing and daydreaming or as some background music while having some drinks with friends. It was my kind of feel good and unwinding music. The best songs of theirs in my opinion was “Baby Shoes” and “Forest Whitaker.”

Last, the fifth performance that stood out in my mind and became one of the most memorable from the weekend was Grouplove. Grouplove is an alternative rock band also based out of L.A. who I will never forget solely because of their giant Grouplove blow up banner above the stage that was shaped like the inside of someone’s mouth. Each one of the letters was painted over a blow-up tooth that was attached to gums. Gross. Sorry I didn’t get a picture to go with that image I put in your head! The music was slightly too “emo” for me (remember when emo was a thing?) but the performance is what pulled me in the most. The most memorable song and most popular of theirs is “Tongue Tied,” which was a throwback to high school for sure.

The Shaky Knees Experience

If you’re considering going to a music festival and you haven’t been to one before, Shaky Knees is probably a good place to start. It was busy and crowded, but it was set up perfectly for as many people as there were. There were multiple restroom stations, drink stations next to each one of the concerts that sold beer and mixed drinks, and it was very easy to navigate. I’m glad I started out going to this festival instead of one that’s in the middle of nowhere. Not only was it pretty clean but the people at this festival were also very laid back – no CRAZY partiers. Most music festivals bring out the most bizarre sides of people, but at Shaky Knees, it was pretty tame.

The festival was mostly filled with people relaxing, drinking…and smoking weed. At first, I was very taken aback seeing hundreds of people walking around Central Park smoking openly, but I later learned through one of our Uber drivers that it’s now legal to smoke outside in Atlanta. Apparently, there used to be thousands of people sitting in jail sells having their lives ruined from the possession of marijuana that the government decided it was ridiculous to be spending so much time and energy arresting people for weed. So if you’re into a festival that’s pretty laid back where you can smoke, but isn’t filled with people experimenting with drugs, this is probably the festival for you.

Side note: I feel like I should probably mention here that I don’t smoke, just in case anyone thinks I might be trying to push a stoner agenda here, lol. I just support other people who choose to and think it’s refreshing that we’re making a step in the right direction toward decriminalizing marijuana.

I really hope that you guys liked this post about Shaky Knees from my outfits, to makeup, to drinks, photos, and more. I really enjoyed the environment at the festival AND the music. I loved getting ready for the day, taking instant photos together, hearing indie brands that were brand new to me, and relaxing in the sun.

Before you go…

If you do end up going to a festival this year I will say, remember that it’s not JUST about the makeup and clothes. Because of the festival and dressing up culture, influencers, the pressure for women to look perfect, and our obsession with social media, it can be so easy to get lost in the outfits and “content” and forgetting to relax and enjoy the festival. I met someone at Grassroots in St. Pete right before I left for Shaky Knees and told him that I was excited about the festival but worried that I would be so wrapped up in taking photos for my blog and posting online that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it or I would annoy people. He gave me some really good advice which was to take 15 minutes each day to work on all of my content with attention and focus, so I get it done and out of the way, and then for the rest of my time put the phone down and just relax and enjoy the moment. I thought that was really wonderful advice. Instead of trying to have a good time while creating content at the same time, I would work on my photos or notes for a little bit in the morning and then for the rest of the day I was off my phone. We spend SO much time on our phones now. Don’t waste what should be your fun and relaxing festival weekend staring at your screen and getting “Lost Online.”

Thanks for coming to Lost Online! Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+” and enter your email where it says “follow blog via email” to have all future blog posts sent right to you!

As always, let me know what you thought of this blog post in the comments! Have you been to a music festival before? Which one? What were your thoughts on the festival? Do you have any festivals coming up? Did this post inspire any makeup or outfit ideas for your next festival?

Main Photo by Taylor Varvil @taylorvarvil.

Why The Grand Tour Is So Important

Travel
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This past summer, I took a trip that I’ve been dreaming about since I could remember. I had just graduated and didn’t have any solid plan yet. I didn’t know what my next step in life would be, but I knew that this was the perfect time to take a break and travel before I would be thrown into adulthood. Being an adult could wait, but fulfilling a lifelong dream and my #1 bucket list item could not.

My dream was to drop everything, pack my bags, and travel through Europe. I wanted to see those beautiful landmarks that I’d only ever seen in photos. I wanted to make lifelong friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I wanted to eat and drink all of the delicious foods from other parts of the world that I can’t go buy at my local grocery store. But most importantly, I wanted to discover things that I never knew and expand my mind beyond my own country.

I had been out of the country a handful of times before, but I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to be away longer and tour with a group of people I had never met. Traveling was just as important as pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I actually wanted to be a little bit uncomfortable the whole time I was away. I believe with all certainty that stepping out of my own little world and what feels safe and familiar is the best way to grow. The truth is that great things don’t come out of our comfort zones. They come when we do something that is a little bit risky and a little bit scary, but completely worth it.

This past June, right after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I went on a month long trip abroad that I booked through EF Ultimate Break. This trip was going to be a tour of all of the major cities in Europe. It started in Rome, Italy and ended in Barcelona, Spain. 8 counties, 11 cities, and over 30 complete strangers traveling together.

Day two of the tour, I was standing right next to the Roman Colosseum listening to the best tour guide I’d ever had. (Side Note: If this woman would have taught my AP European History class back in high school, I’m sure I would have done a lot better.) Every bit of this tour was fascinating, but the part that caught my attention the most was when she started telling us about an old tradition known as “The Grand Tour.” There I was standing right next to the Colosseum and hearing about the concept of The Grand Tour for the first time. I had no idea that there was a name for it, or that this trip was so popular throughout history. All I knew was that I had to take this trip before I “kicked the bucket.”

What is The Grand Tour?

The Grand Tour, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the concept, is a cultural tour that used to be taken by young, upper-class men at the end of their education. At the time, it was viewed as a right of passage. Women and lower-class people could also have taken this tour if they found a generous sponsor, but it was not very common. This tour would loop throughout Europe and could last anywhere from a few months to even years. It was believed that by traveling and being exposed to different languages, cultures, music, and artwork that these men would return cultured, sophisticated, and well-rounded. And they didn’t just walk around museums and admire other cultures. There was a lot of studying done too. Throughout this tour, the men would study languages, art, and politics with the help of their teachers and guides (and also chaperones) known as a “cicerone.” Sometimes they would also bring family, teachers, or friends along for the tour.

On top of an already exciting trip, these young men would have an unlimited supply of money seeing as they came from Europe’s richest families. They would return home with crates full of books, fine clothes, artwork, sculptures, scientific instruments, and other artifacts. Could you imagine traveling Europe for 3 years with an unlimited supply of money as a right of passage? That’s the dream!

Not surprisingly, this trip involved a lot of shopping, mischief, and overall shenanigans. Drinking, sex, and gambling were also strong themes during this journey. They did not spend all of their time studying! It was a very interesting tradition indeed. A time meant for young people to learn, explore the world, and make mistakes. How lovely.

This tradition mostly happened in the 17th and 18th century, but actually stopped once traveling became easier and more affordable to us peasants. What a shame!

Years and years later, The Grand Tour tradition has died off. But I wish so badly that the concept would come back. I’ve found many different tour companies online offering affordable trips throughout Europe that are meant be act as The Grand Tour, just like the one that I had been one. It’s marketed as a way for young people to celebrate being done with their education, have a wonderful experience traveling the world, and expand their minds further before settling down into a profession. And that’s exactly what I did, but unfortunately, it’s nothing like it used to be. It was a rather short trip compared to what used to be taken, and there were no chaperons that traveled along with me to teach me different languages, or to teach me about art and culture. Maybe that should change.

Why is The Grand Tour so important?

I think the world could benefit so greatly if young people were encouraged to travel by their parents and teachers. Encouraging young people to visit different cultures to actually study them and giving the freedom to roam and to meet people everywhere could lead to world peace and acceptance. Especially if this tour didn’t just visit Europe, but other continents and countries too. Traveling is what makes people realize how small their own reality is. It opens them up to new people, new possibilities, and new ways of life beyond what they’re familiar with at home. It reminds people that they’re actually not the center of the universe!

It’s a shame that this concept of The Grand Tour ended the moment it became accessible to women and lower-classes because everyone could benefit from an experience like this. I encourage anyone who wants to travel do it! It’s the best investment you will ever make. And I encourage parents and teachers to inspire young people to take time off and travel, for a few months or even a few years. College students spend up to $100,000 on their education now (at least that’s what mine costed). But why don’t we encourage young minds to put that money elsewhere and invest it in the greatest classroom of all?… the world. There’s so much more we can learn by hopping on a plane and going across the world then we will ever learn from a textbook, four walls, and a professor one year away from retirement who clearly does not want to be there. Am I right or am I right?

Lastly, I want to leave you with this.. One of my favorite quotes by Anthony Bourdain that perfectly embodies my feelings towards travel and it’s importance…

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

-Anthony Bourdain

What are your thoughts on the concept of The Grand Tour? Do you think it’s important for young scholars to take an extended tour abroad? Have you gone on a trip like this or encouraged someone else to? Comment below!

A Lesson in Pura Vida

Travel

This past spring break, I went to the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Costa Rica was the place that I dreamed about for years. There would be nights I would lay awake thinking about how incredible it would be to see La Fortuna, to hike a volcano, and to see monkeys jumping from the trees. I imagined every moment of this trip and thought about how badly I wanted to be there. Then, by the generosity of Matt’s parents, he and I were finally able to take that dream trip.

He talked about how incredible it would be surf the waves of Costa Rica, and I talked incessantly about all the animals, hanging bridges, and waterfalls we would see. When the day finally came, we went there in search of adventure, delicious cocktails, beaches, and sunshine. And trust me, we got all of that. But what I wasn’t expecting from this vacation, was that I would leave having learned a very valuable lesson.

What I saw on this trip (aside from all the exotic wildlife and landscapes) was the poverty. Please excuse my previous ignorance, but what slipped my mind through all my fantasies of this trip and the preparation for travel, was that Costa Rica is still a third world country. A quick Google search will show you that the poverty level in Costa Rica is at a record high. Over 21% of its citizens are living in poverty – that’s over one million people. And 10-12% live in extreme poverty, meaning they have a severe lack of food, clean drinking water, education, health care, and shelter. In some areas of Costa Rica, the poverty levels are as high as 30%! But what is even more shocking, is that even though the poverty rate is this high, the country actually has the lowest poverty rate in all of Central America. 10-12% of the population living in extreme poverty is low?

I noticed the poverty while driving through Costa Rica from city to city. I was able to see with my own eyes just how little the Ticos had. The poverty is noticeable just by looking at the houses that were broken down shacks, no larger than my bedroom. Going from a gated community in suburbia to seeing homes that looked uninhabitable makes one pretty self-reflective. It was the definition of culture shock. But even though I could see what little all of the locals had, I never met complete strangers that were so wonderful to be around, so pleasant, and so polite.

You may have heard of the phrase “Pura Vida” before which means “simple life” or “pure life.” It actually came to the country of Costa Rica from a Mexican movie, ¡Pura Vida!, in the 1950s. The Costa Ricans liked this phrase that symbolized eternal optimism, and it stuck. Now it’s a phrase that’s spoken in every town and in every household across the country. If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, then you know that the words Pura Vida ring through every street, store, home, cafe, and restaurant. I’ve heard the phrase many times before, and I knew what it meant, but I never personally met anyone who embodied it.  But it Costa Rica, every person I came across greeted me with a warm smile, asked how I was, seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me, and always said goodbye with a heartfelt “Pura Vida.”

Pure Vida is not just some popular saying, in Costa Rica, it’s a way of life. It’s the idea that life is wonderful and we should be happy just to be alive. The idea that you could live in a tiny little hole in the wall but be perfectly content with the smallest pleasures in life. Small pleasures like laughing with a friend, spending the day on the beach, being around family, or sharing a drink with someone. It’s the idea that happiness comes from within, not with earthly goods and services.

I’m sharing this today because it’s a phrase that’s worth incorporating more in our one culture. In America, at least in the areas where I have lived, there’s a completely opposite mindset. Americans tend to view happiness as an end goal, as something that needs to be achieved through hard work, promotions, lots of money, and luxury. And although we conceptually understand that “happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life,” we act very differently. Most people, myself included, try to find happiness outside of ourselves. People tend to think that happiness can be achieved if we only went and bought that handbag, had more social media followers, had a nicer house, had a more expensive car, bought Starbucks every day, had the latest iPhone, an Apple watch… you get the idea.

And I think that this could be why there are so many self-help books and blogs floating around today. People go on this life-long search for happiness, only to realize that it’s not achievable by money and possessions or popularity, so they go looking for advice. Did you know that Costa Rica is was named one of the happiest countries in the world? And I doubt many of them have picked up a self-help book.

That being said, what do we do about this? How do we embrace Pura Vida into our lives?

Step One: Go to Costa Rica (not really, but just humor me for a second)

I had always understood what Pura Vida meant, but I can honestly say that I didn’t quite grasp the meaning until I traveled to Costa Rica and saw it for myself. I didn’t really get it until I saw the homes that people lived in… the same people that drove us around, took us on adventures through the rainforest and brought us coconuts on the beach. That’s eye-opening.

I believe with my whole heart that it’s lessons like this that make traveling so important. It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in our own little world – staying in the same town, reading the same news sources, shopping at the same stores, going to work every day, and getting caught up in our little projects like redecorating or baking gluten-free cookies… It’s easy to forget what’s going on in the world outside of yourself. That there are people who live with far less than many of us do, but live with such happiness and gratitude.

Of course, not everyone could afford to travel at the drop of the hat. The idea is to not get so caught up in what’s directly in front of you. Read different news sources, listen to new podcasts, watch documentaries, reach books, and get an idea of what’s happening in the world so you will be more grateful for all of the blessings that you have instead of being caught up in work, daily dramas, and social media.

Step Two: Simplify your life in a way that makes sense for you.

I see thousands of bloggers that preach about simplifying and becoming a minimalist. But let’s be realistic, not everyone is going to read a blog post and decide to sell all their possessions and move into a tiny house. That doesn’t work for everyone. In order to simply, you don’t have to do anything crazy. You can start by decluttering the house, turning off all the notifications on your phone, or taking a personal day. It could even mean learning saying “no” to people or getting rid of toxic friendships. Whatever works for you personally to turn off the “noise” of everyday life and ground yourself. When I started to simplify it meant spending less time consumed by my technology and more time spent pursuing my hobbies and passions.

There is both physical clutter that we keep in our lives that take up space and drain us, and then there is the mental clutter. I don’t need to tell you that the mental clutter is much more exhausting. It’s incredible all of the bullsh*t that consumes our time. Emails, text messages, notifications, meetings, lunch dates, errands, cleaning, etc. I didn’t see any of the Costa Ricans getting anxious about their email inbox while I was there! So find a way to simplify so there’s more time for joy, passion, love and happiness, and less time spent on the meaningless tasks that fill up the day.

Step Three: Find ways to add gratitude into your life

There are hundreds of researchers now that have proven in their studies that people who express gratitude daily are happier people, have a greater sense of life satisfaction, are physically healthier, and have better relationships. If you really want to read the science go for it, but I think those researchers may have been wasting their time. Anyone that embodies the “Pura Vida” mentality knows that already.

I know that for at least us Americans it can be very hard to start thinking every day about the things we’re grateful for it. Simply because it’s difficult to change our mindsets from all of the things we have to do throughout the day and reflect on what we’re happy about. Many won’t do it because it doesn’t feel productive. But if you regularly think about the things you are grateful for, or regularly talk about them or write about them, it becomes a habit. This habit will ultimately lead to a happier life. One way that I focus on gratitude, is every night before bed I write in detail about something I’m grateful for that day. It’s usually about a paragraph long, and it only takes five minutes. By ending the day focusing on something that makes me feel really happy and grateful, it reminds me how lucky I am all the time. It brings my attention to the more meaningful relationships and experiences in my life instead of on the mundane. That pure life mentality doesn’t come naturally to me, so writing is how I began to introduce it into my life.

Step Four: Fill your time doing what makes you feel great

This may seem like a simple or cliche piece of advice to adopting a more grateful mindset and embracing Pura Vida, but hear me out. Most people that I know settle in dozens of little moments throughout the day for things that are good enough, rather than what makes them feel energized and alive. Most people I know are so focused on how “busy” they are that they forget about how they’re feeling. They might put up a piece of artwork because it was inexpensive at Marshalls, go to a job they hate so they can pay the bills, read a book that they have to finish just because they started it, or listen to a radio station just because it’s on.

Millions of people live their daily lives like this. Then what happens is at the end of the week or at the end of they feel exhausted and unhappy. This causes them to go out and drink all night, online shop all day, sleep for twelve hours, binge-watch Netflix, eat a whole can of Pringles, etc. This I think is the real difference between my culture, and theirs. Our mentality is different which then causes people to search for happiness in outside objects and entertainment.

There are a million ways to change this, but it’s about what works for you. Instead of searching out comfort in food, work, shopping, Netflix, etc. find happiness in the people in your life and whatever genuinely makes you feel good. When I decided to make this change, I surrounded myself with things that made me feel happy was to call good friends on the phone, spending my free time working on hobbies, picking out music that made me feel inspired, exercising and eating better, listening to motivational speeches, and more. I do anything and everything that now adds real happiness, comfort, and gratitude. Don’t just settle for what’s good enough, go out of your way to surround yourself with the activities and people that make you feel wonderful.

Have you ever been to Costa Rica and come back with the same lesson, or did you have a different experience? What do you do to adopt the Pura Vida mentality in your life? How did you simplifying your life? And do you have any gratitude ritual of your own that helped? Let me know in the comments!

I Pretended to be a Travel YouTuber for a Week… Here’s What I Learned

Travel

What comes to your mind when you think of a travel photographer or a travel videographer?

If you’re anything like me, then you have visions of nothing but ultimate luxury, beauty, adventure, and fame. And it seems effortless! Easy stuff right? All you have to do is travel the world and take photos for a living! But this past spring break I decided to do a little experiment. It decided to spend my spring break shooting a Go Pro travel video while in Costa Rica. And I learned what life is really like for someone who creates travel videos for a living… and let me tell you it’s far from easy. This is what I learned while shooting a travel video that you’re favorite YouTubers won’t tell you:

1. You have to have a plan

If you think you could just shoot a travel video on the spur of the moment without a plan… you’re so wrong. In order to create a video that will get people interested, you have to have a beginning and an end. You need to seem like you have a story to tell. Before my trip, I have to plan the entire introduction and ending to make sure that when I got back my footage made sense. The planning process also involved getting the rights to a song and deciding on a theme and style that I wanted to shoot so I could take my videos accordingly.

2. You always have to keep the shot in mind while on vacation

When everyone else is sipping Pina Coladas, you’re thinking: “How do I capture this moment? Should I move more to get a different background? There are people in the way, I should wait for them to move. Maybe I should face the camera this way instead? Is it in focus? Is the lighting too harsh?” You get the idea.

3. You’re constantly thinking about your camera

When you’re trying to shoot a travel video, your camera is absolutely everything and it starts to make you a little paranoid. When you’re not actually shooting something, your mind continually thinks: Will someone steal my camera? Is there something on the lens? Is there enough storage? Is there enough battery? Should I have brought another sim card?” It adds anxiety to what should be a super relaxing week spent in a tropical paradise.

4. You constantly have to keep the audience in mind

While pretending to be a travel videographer I learned that if you’re someone who makes a living traveling the world and creating content, it means making content all the time. And it can’t be half-hearted either. It means creating interesting, engaging content on all social media platforms. It sounds easy because we use social media all the time right? But it involves thinking of blog ideas and taking notes, shooting videos, making interactive stories in the moment, tweeting about your adventures, and posting on Facebook or Instagram. Doing all of this all day long is surprisingly exhausting.

5. It can be scary!

If you want to shoot a video that people will actually want to see you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to zip line, get close to wild animals, skydive, jump into freezing cold springs, and do all of the things that you’re scared to do, but will keep people coming back to view your content. This past trip I was so determined to get a shot of me petting the cow, but the cow ended up being super aggressive and almost knocking me to my feet into barbed wire, as he proceeded to rip the fence out of the ground.

6. You have to have a lot of patience

It takes a long time to get that perfect shot for a video, so you sometimes have to take it a few times just to be safe. Another thing that I learned, was that people act very different on camera. We tend to act awkward and stiff as soon as we know we’re being recorded. Which means that if you’re shooting a video you have to redo it over and over again to get someone to loosen up, relax, and act normal. And let’s not forget all the other hundreds of tourists that keep getting in the way of your shot… there’s nothing that will test your patience more…

7. You have to edit everything and it takes a looong time

Although editing can be fun once you get in the hang of it, coming back from vacation with 32 GB of video footage and having to edit everything is super intimidating. Organizing the timeline of the video, putting it together, and getting the video to match the beat of the music takes a lot longer than I was anticipating. If you’re a student with four part-time jobs like me, it could take months to get through editing.

8. You’re not really on vacation, you’re working

It’s your job to bring the audience along on the trip and keep them entrained. You can’t drop the ball and spend the day enjoying your vacation in private. There were many moments when I didn’t want to have to film or make a story, but that’s a travel videographers job. They have to get that footage even if they don’t feel like it.

9. Without Wifi, you’re screwed!

When you’re traveling to certain areas of the world, Wifi can be hard to come by. Even businesses that advertise that they have Wifi might not have working Wifi. It’s hard to keep in touch with your audience if you’re not able to share those moments with them throughout the day.

10. Everyone gets annoyed with you

When you’re trying to shoot a Youtube video, take Instagram stories, and take a perfect picture of you, basically everyone gets annoyed by you. You have to hold everyone up and reshoot something over and over until you get it right. Nobody likes that person who spends so much time on their phone on vacation!

What I’ve learned from this experience now that I spent a week pretending to be a travel videographer is that I have so much more respect for travel photographers and videographers now. It’s not as easy as it looks to travel the world and create perfect content all the time. It can be surprisingly exhausting. There’s a lot of little things you have to think about in order to create a video, and it takes a long time!

SO, with all that being said, would I ever consider being a travel videographer for a living? Maybe. Being a travel photographer and videographer for a week was surprising stressful, but I don’t think there is a single job in the world that is stress-free. If I was going to be a little stressed out, I guess I’d rather be a little stressed while I have a cocktail in my hand while I’m sitting at the base of a volcano rather than in an office! Personally, I think I’d be more of the traveling blogging type rather than a videographer.

What do you think? Have you ever shot a travel GoPro video or Youtube video before? Would you consider creating videos for a living? Or would you rather do blogging instead?

Photo by Matt Rutski @mrutski17.