Enjoy the Outdoors All Year Round With Lauren Gay (And Safety Tips For Solo Travelers) – Episode 125
Are you looking to get outdoors and explore nature, but don’t know where to start or who to go with? If so, you aren’t alone. Adventure travel can be intimidating, but outdoors travel blogger and podcaster Lauren Gay is here to help. In this podcast episode, learn how to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year, camping tips, and how to rediscover the beauty of the United States.
Lauren Gay believes adventure is a lifestyle, which just so happens to be the name of her travel podcast, “Adventure is a Lifestyle.” Lauren Gay is a travel blogger and podcaster empowering Black women through travel and outdoor recreation. Based in Tampa, Florida, Lauren is a longtime advocate for racial diversity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and adventure travel. She is passionate about inspiring Black women to step out of their comfort zones and use nature as healing and therapy. As a single mom, while she didn’t always have the means to venture far, she always managed to create memories and adventures with her son.
In this episode, we talk about how to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year, how to be more outdoorsy, and how outdoorsy can look different than what we think or see in most travel campaigns. After listening to this episode, I know you’ll search for “outdoor activities near me this weekend.”
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In this episode with Lauren Gay, learn:
- [4:37] What are the best outdoor activities throughout the year
- Ways to spend more time outdoors
- [17:06] Safety tips for solo travelers
- [21:04] Planning and managing expectations for group trips
- [26:03] What is glamping?
Danielle Desir Corbett: If you are hoping to live more of an adventurous life, you're going to love this episode. Lauren Gay believes adventure is a lifestyle which just so happens to be the name of her hit travel podcast. Follow adventure is a lifestyle wherever you listen to podcast and please let Lauren know Danielle from the thought card sent you. Lauren Gay is a travel blogger and podcaster empowering Black women through travel and outdoor recreation. Follow Lauren on instagram at outdoorsy Diva. Based in Tampa, Florida, Lauren is a longtime advocate for racial diversity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and adventure travel. She is passionate about inspiring Black women to step out of their comfort zones and use nature as healing and therapy. As a single mom, while she didn't always have the means to venture far, she always managed to create memories and adventure with her son. In this episode, we talk about how to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year and how outdoorsy can look different than what we think or see in most travel campaigns. And I'm throwing a little shade over here. But seriously, on a serious note, though, adventure doesn't have to be rugged, it doesn't have to involve scaling Mount Everest, skiing, or deep sea diving with sharks, the great outdoors can be welcoming to all. Stick around until the end of the episode because we also chat about how the pandemic has given us this chance to rediscover the beauty of the United States and also the difference between camping lamping and champing. Lauren Gay is also one of the founding members of Black Travel Alliance, an organization on a mission to support Black content creators and increase their representation in the travel industry. If you want to learn more, go back and listen to episode 61 to learn about the challenges Black travel creators face and how BTA is promoting diversity in travel marketing. Today's podcast partner is Get Outdoors 101, a self paced course by Olivia Christine designed to help you learn how to plan outdoor trips with confidence so you can have memorable experiences unplug and destress. Now, you might not know this, but I've never been camping before and 2023 is my year to venture out and go camping for the first time, like overnight and do overnight hikes. There's just so much to see, and I feel like if I felt more comfortable with camping and some of these more adventurous outdoor activities, I feel like I would be able to see more and do more. And also, now that I have baby Kay, it would just be great to introduce him to all these things that I didn't necessarily have growing up. So I'm planning my first camping trip this year, which I will definitely be sharing on the podcast. I was, like, really nervous but still curious and felt like I really needed some guidance in this department. So Get Outdoors 101 has been really helpful. Through this course, I'm learning how to find accessible adventures hiking and camping safety tips and really getting clear on the planning process so that we can actually go this year. Not talking about going, but actually go. So, yeah, big things are happening and Get Outdoors 101 is helping me to get there. You can access the course at thoughtcard comOutdoors 101 that's Thoughtcard comOutdoors 101. Or simply just visit the link in the show notes and you can be able to check out that course. Welcome to the Thought Cards, a podcast about travel and money where planning, saving, and creativity leads to affording travel, building wealth, and paying off debt. We are the financially savvy travelers.
Lauren Gay 00:04:37
I will not even discuss camping before September. Like, don't talk to me about doing no and even my heights and everything. Like, I'm up early, I'm up with the sun, I'm done before noon because it's just too hot down here. But fall is perfect for, like, hiking, getting out to these state parks and these national parks. Your leads are going to be changing for you lucky ducks that live with the true fall. I have to drive a few hours north to get some fall foliage, but it's the perfect time for that. If you live anywhere where you can drive to like an apple orchard to do apple picking, it's the time for that. The pumpkin patches are out. The corn mazes are springing up. All those are outdoor activities. People kind of tend to box in what outdoorsy looks like, and I don't subscribe to that. It's outside, it's outdoorsy. It's still a form of nature. It's just a different way to take it in. So it's a great time to do those kinds of things. It's a great time to try camping or glimpsing because it's not too hot. Like you don't have to contend with the same kind of bugs and mosquitoes. Things are getting more dormant. So, yeah, fall is where it's at. Like, get out there and see some stuff. While it's nice and cool, you have this good weather and the fall foliage is amazing.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:06:01
I live in Connecticut, so it's like I cannot wait for the bursting colors. The road trips are going to be very popular for the fall. So how about spring? No, before springs. Winter. So how about winter? What are your recommendations for winter?
Lauren Gay 00:06:17
So for winter, me living in Florida, so I'm biased because I don't really have a winter, not a true winter. I'm fortunate in that I can pretty much do everything in the winter. Right? But you can still hike in the winter. You just have to have on your base layer, be prepared for it. And the best part is to see a waterfall frozen. That's a beautiful thing. I think the winter is absolutely gorgeous. So you can still get outside and do some winter hikes if you brave enough to ski or to snowboard. Try it. Try it for the first time, hit the bunny slope. If it's something you haven't done before, but why not go ahead and give that a try for the winter? I met Nyla from color outside. She's out in Utah. She hit me the snowshoeing. So now that's on my bucket list because I haven't done it. But she was like, yeah, just walking around in the snow and your snowshoe is amazing. So it made me want to try it. And then like Brown Girl Outdoor World, they do ice fishing. So if you're way up north and you get those frozen lakes, see if you can find an outfit that will take you ice fishing for the first time.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:07:30
I love that. I want to circle back to the outdoor layers. Do you have any recommendations for what we should be wearing if we do want to go hiking or if we do want to spend some time outdoors in the winter?
Lauren Gay 00:07:41
Yeah, in the winter, that base layer is going to be super duper important. So if you look up thermal layers or things like that, which if you live up north, you probably already have that stuff. But for people especially like me, who we don't need that stuff, I have to really stress that and send them links. This is what you need. It says like, it is a thermal base layer. You want it to be dry, wicking, so that it's not going to keep that moisture. It's going to pull that moisture away from your body so that you don't get sick. That's really the most important part is layers. So you layer up. I have an all weather jacket. It's really not that thick, but it does what it's supposed to do, especially when there's wind. You cover your head. You want to have good wool socks. That's really important to keep your feet nice and dry. Same with your shoes. You want to have boots that are going to keep your feet dry and have grip. If you're an up north person, you probably already have that stuff. If you're a down south girl, down south guy like me, you're going to have to order those things. More than likely you won't find them in stock in your store. Even our outdoor stores, like, carry only a little bit of that stuff within the actual physical store. But those are the most important things, is that base layer, good wool socks, something to cover your head, and then you want to dress in layers because believe it or not, you'll still sweat and get hot, especially if you're being active while you're out there. A lot of the ladies on the trip were like, coming out of those big bubble jackets. I'm like, I told you all you all didn't need all of that.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:09:16
That is hilarious. That sounds like something like I would do. I'd be like, oh my gosh, I'm so hot now.
Lauren Gay 00:09:21
One of them, she was so cute. She looked like a little abominable snowman. But yeah, she was out of that big coat well into maybe like an hour into the hike. She's like, I'm hot. Yeah, we told you. You and me, all that.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:09:35
That is fantastic. Fantastic. All right, so we're moving on to springtime. So after winter, what are the things that we can plan for spring?
Lauren Gay 00:09:45
Spring is my favorite. That's because you still have the cooler temperatures, but you can also start to get into those water activities. I'm a water baby. That's my happy place. That's my reset. So the waterfalls when you get to spring are usually magnificent because you're going to have all that melted snow is starting to come down and run off into those rivers and those lakes and tributaries that feed the rivers and the waterfalls. So spring is magnificent for that. I love flowers, so I love the color and everything. Where you have the meadows, this is when you can do the lavender fields and the tulip fields and all that kind of stuff is starting to boom. In the spring, if you suffer from allergies like me, just take your allergy, fill your nasal spray with you because that's what I have to do because the spring is not kind to me in that regard, but I do it anyway because I want to see it. You'll also start to get the sunflowers towards the end of spring before that cusp of summer. So you'll have those sunflower fields are going to start to pop up. So spring is amazing for that. That's a great time to try, like kayaking or stand up paddleboarding. It's a great time to do tubing, rafting on the rivers in different places and that's like whatever region of the country you're in. All of those activities exist. Even down in the south. We have tubing in Florida. You can do tubing in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee. So don't fade just because you're not where there's mountains. You can't do rafting because there's rafting in Tennessee, in Kentucky and northern Georgia. So all those things are accessible to you. So spring is the perfect time to try some of those, the reawakening, the awakening.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:11:34
So I do love spring. I think fall is my favorite. I'm also a virgo, so I'm born in the fall, but spring is like a close second for me, so I definitely love spring. So last but not least, summer. What are your recommendations for summer?
Lauren Gay 00:11:49
So summer is going to be that's definitely the time to do all the water stuff. Like do the water stuff, hit the beaches, hit the springs, hit the rivers. All those kinds of things are great in the summer. I personally don't hike as much in the summer just because it's so hot, but it is a good time to go see places that you normally really wouldn't. If you don't like the cold, then you need to plant some stuff up north, do some north road trips where it's going to be milder. They're not going to have a crazy, brutal summer. It'll probably be more palpable to you during that time of year. Like, if you don't like the heat, this is not the time you want to do that's. The donut trip. That's something you want to do in the fall when it's a little cooler. But in the summer is a great time for places like Colorado, for Northern California, or even, like, Ohio. People sleep on Ohio. Ohio has islands in the Great Lakes, and they are amazing. They have, like, crystal caves on them. They have glacier grooves and dinosaur fossils that you can explore. They have wineries in their islands. You can catch a ferry in Ohio, but you can only do that stuff in the summer. Like, for late spring into the summer is the only time it's open. So you want to hit those places where they may not be as accessible or as fun when it's not warm because they get so much snow and things like that. So summer is where it's at for the water.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:13:26
Well, I mean, this is just, for me, inspiring because I'm like listening to all the activities and thinking about, like, gosh, I didn't do anything this summer. I didn't do enough, and summer is almost done. So this is truly inspiring. And I think this also makes me realize, I think for me, as a traveler, I'm always looking externally, like, abroad. I'm always like, let me go abroad and see.
Lauren Gay 00:13:51
Go to Italy, go to Greece, go.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:13:53
To fill in the blank there. But what are your thoughts on exploring the US.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:13:58
How has the US.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:14:00
Impacted your travels? Are you excited about seeing the US and even your home state of Florida? Right now I'm in Connecticut, so you're.
Lauren Gay 00:14:06
Home state of Florida. Are you excited about traveling in the US. I am. I think that's a lot of us right where that's our first notion is we want to go because I love international travel. Love it. Absolutely love it. But we didn't really have much choice. But I think what's different for me is because I was I'm a single mom. You know, my son's 20 now, so I'm a new empty nester, which is why I'm totally bummed that Kovac took away all my international travels this year.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:14:34
This was my year.
Lauren Gay 00:14:34
Like, I was getting it in. I had Japan and Banff National Park in Italy, and I was going to get to Africa for New Year's Eve. Like, I had big international plans this year, and I had to cancel them. So I think it wasn't as much of a shock for me because I knew how beautiful our country is because I am huge on domestic travel, too, and that was just because it was more affordable and accessible with my son. So I think it's great to see people finally realize, oh, I can see things right here in my own backyard. Our national park system is amazing. It is beautiful. It's a travesty not to see a place like Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, the Smoky Mountains before you die. Honestly, they are beautiful, magnificent places that should be seen and appreciated. Even Florida, like our springs here. I'm telling you, these pictures, when you see them, like, people, when I post them on Instagram, they're like, Where are you? You look like you're in the tropic. No, I'm in the middle of Florida in a forest. But this is what this water looks like. So I love seeing people kind of rediscover or discover for the first time the beauty we have. A lot of people don't even know we have waterfalls. Aside from your Niagara parts, like I just named. Of course people know Yellowstone, they know the smoking, they know Niagara. Right. But they don't realize literally, look up a state, there's waterfalls in it. Even Alabama has waterfalls. Georgia has waterfalls. Tennessee, I just learned about an 18 waterfall loop in Pennsylvania, and now I'm, like, dying to get to this fall. I'm trying to figure that out because I'm like, I got to see this. So people, I think, are just realizing how beautiful our country really is and take advantage of it, and specifically more black people, which I love to see us discovering these things that we didn't necessarily grow up doing, but now we're, like, getting into it, and we're seeing that, okay, this is the thing. And no, maybe I can't go to Dubai this year, or Egypt, but there are some really cool places I can go, and you can still get these.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:17:06
Grandworthy pictures and grandworthy experiences as well. So yes, that is incredible. So I'm sure that the listeners here today are thinking, how about if I don't have anyone to go with me on the next adventure tonight, plan. Do you have any advice or tips for those who are going to be exploring solo or those who are thinking about that?
Lauren Gay 00:17:32
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I do a lot of my stuff solo, especially now that my son is a college kid. Now I do a lot of things by myself, so that's okay. It's actually a good time to get to know you. You're actually a lot braver than you think you are. It's really not that scary. Like, you plan and you mitigate your risk, right? So, simple things, making sure somebody knows where you are. You share your itinerary with people. I have, like, a Google Drive with my important information and those dedicated people my mom and my two besties have access to. So they always can get to it. They always know where I am. Seems like a day hike. If you're just doing a day hike, you still want to let somebody know where you're going, how long you think you're going to be gone. Just basic safety stuff. Be prepared, have a way to protect yourself, whether that's a pocket knife, a taser maze, firearm, whatever your jam, just know the law where you are and be within the bounds of the law, but protect yourself. Don't be a sitting duck, but don't go into expecting the worst. Like, expect the best. Think, what is the best thing that could happen to me? And then that's what it's going to be. So if you're traveling solo, you just have to do a bit more planning. I think you just have to do a little bit more to make sure you've mitigated what those risks could be is what I told people for solo travel, too, you don't want to look like a tourist, so you just look like you know what you're doing. Don't pull over somewhere. Go somewhere where you can sit down and look at your map and be at peace. If it's at a rest area or a gas station, don't stand outside your car with your map of looking like you're lost. Make smart decisions. If you engage with strangers, that's fine. But you don't let people know you're by yourself. Make people think you're expecting someone's. Expecting me, I'm going to meet so and so because they may see you in your car by yourself, but don't let them think that nobody knows about you or cares about you or where you're going. So you just take basic safety precautions. But you can do it. It's worth it. Because the worst thing would be to miss an experience, because you are waiting on other people. You're waiting on another time. And if we've learned nothing else in this time period is that time does not wait for anyone. You don't know what could happen, what could change. We could end up in another shutdown. You could not be here. So don't let not having people to go with you be the deterrent. And then there are so many groups now that put on activity. So if you're not comfortable yet being by yourself, find a group. Find a group activity that's doing these kinds of things because they're everywhere. Facebook Meetup is a great place to find groups doing these kinds of activities if that's what you want to do. So that's okay too. Find a group. But I promise when you go and start small, don't feel like you got to do this whole epic thing. Just do one little thing, one little activity for the day. But when you start sharing it and you're telling people and they see your pictures, trust me, at least one friend is going to be like, I want to go. Why are you telling me you were going? I want to go. That's all it takes sometimes is for people to see you doing it, because that's how I got started. Honestly, it was me doing my thing and other people saying, well, I didn't know we had that. Where is that exactly?
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:21:04
And I think now you'll be surprised by how many people are on board to do more local travel because they realize, like, wow, like, you mentioned, things are so uncertain, you don't know tomorrow what's going to happen. So seizing opportunities to have a good time, go on adventure, hey, I'm all for it. So I love that. Now, on the opposite spectrum, I know that you also have planned group outings. So for someone who has a group, do you have any recommendations or tips for how do you navigate, like all these personalities and all these travel preferences to do a successful group outing where everyone is happy at the end of.
Lauren Gay 00:21:44
The day, I'm still learning. So I have a local group, right, that I've had for some years, and we have been doing some local activities. That's a lot easier, I think, to navigate just because it's local, it's really set. Like, this is what we're doing. We're going tubing or we're going kayaking. They know what they're getting into and it's just for a portion of the day, right? So I think that's pretty easy to navigate. But a group trip. So the February trip was actually the launch. That was the first group trip and then cold, it happened. But the biggest thing is managing expectations, I think just being very transparent and upfront about what to expect. So, like, for the hike, I made it very clear, like, I'm not trying to kill you. This is the length of the height. You can do it. You need to start practicing now. If you never go for walks, maybe try to do a mile a day start to build up your stamina and get up to 2 miles. We're going to do a height. We can take breaks. It's okay, it's not going to be hard. So you just want to set people's expectations, reassure them, be very detailed about your itinerary and your plan so that they are very clear about what's expected. You want to make sure that you, as the group leader, have mitigated whatever risk there could be that you thought about. Of course, now post COVID, I was on the Adventure Travel Trade Association summit on yesterday, and so that was a huge topic because now all the language in your documentation for your release forms now has to be changed and updated. So you want to make sure you have somebody, your lawyer, whoever, look at those things for you to make sure that you're covered and that your attendees are covered and that everything is understood just on what your policy is. If your policy is no refund, then there's no refunds. But you just want to make sure it's clear. If you have the flexibility to do that, then you just want to make sure you thought through what that looks like. Because right before, nobody ever planned for a global pandemic. Well, now you got to plan for a global pandemic and aliens and fire, tornadoes and whatever other crazy news we've seen, right? You got a plan for any and everything that could happen. So you just have to be a little more diligent from a legal aspect about making sure you're covered and then communicating what that looks like and having backup plans. Like, super important to have backup plans and contingency plans for people. And then as far as just the navigating the personalities, I think it's good if you have a group forum ahead of time. So, like, the trips that I do that are the local stuff, it's a Facebook group, so they interact and you see those personalities, whereas the other trip, none of them had ever two of them knew each other. The rest of them were all new people. And so we were just very fortunate that it was a group that clicked. Because it was my beta Trip, I wanted it small, but I was fortunate. And we didn't have any of that, but I think it would have been managed. Okay. I think it's just you have an itinerary how things are fun, but you also allow people to have freedom to kind of do whatever they need to do. Some people need alone time to reset. So you don't like micromanage people down to the second of their time. Give people time to have that time to themselves, and that might be all they need to keep them from having an attitude. And don't let people get angry either. Make sure people know when they'll be able to eat and have snacks for people. Even on my day trips, you know, we tell people, hey, bring you some snacks so nobody's hangry.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:25:40
These are awesome, awesome, awesome tips and things to consider from an expert. So I absolutely love it. Lauren, I know that you are a fan of glamping more than camping, so can you walk us through the difference between camping and glamping and why you prefer glamping?
Lauren Gay 00:26:03
Absolutely. So for those that are not familiar, glamping is glamorous camping. And my name is self evident into why I prefer glamping. That's that diva side. This is when that diva part comes out. So, to me, the major difference between glamping and camping, so they're both in nature, right? They're both allow you to be within some kind of nature setting. But glamping, you have a structure. Like, it's not just a pop up tint. You have a structure of some kind. You have a real floor, even if it's carpeted with a rug or if it's wooden floor, but you have a floor. The biggest thing is electricity, whether it is through a generator or whatever they have to do. I don't care if there's no electricity, it is not glamping. Do not call it glamping. It may be softer camping, but it's not glamping like glamping. For me, you have electricity. You may not have running water, but you do have electricity. But a lot of the places I stayed at, we're glamping did have running water as well. And then a bed ain't no sleeping bag. If you're glamping, you're in a bed. It can be an air mattress, but it's a bed. A real comfy plush bed with linens and pillows and throws on it. Like, that is glamping. The ultimate glamping is going to have lanterns and fairy lights and decor, and it's going to have that feel. You're going to have some touch of luck. Like, I glanced at this ranch in Utah and they had fur electric blankets for when it got cold at night. I was like, yes. That's what I'm talking about. I had a fire ballet. I didn't even have to light my own fire pit so they would come around and light your fire for you every night. And it came with the s'mores kit. So I had a bathroom. So it was a luxury, like, safari style tent. And I had a bathroom in my tent with a tub and a shower like, that for real uber luxury glamping. But glamping can be like the safari tent that you see. It could be a yurt. And a lot of state parks actually have yurts. I know up your way there's quite a few places of yurt. Yurts are actually pretty cool. They may not be as fancy, but they will have the basic elements. So the main thing, you're not out in the elements, you're not going to feel like you're outside. You're not going to feel like a little raccoon is scratching at your tent. Like, you all feel a little more safe. And even if you do kind of self glamping, right, and you're in an RV or like a pop up camper or something like that, you can still make it glamping. Like, instead of using just that plain Hershey's chocolate for your s'mores, use a good Diva, use a Reese's, use something Snazzy. They have flavored marshmallows, make hot chocolate and bring you some bailies or something to put in it. Like, just elements to make it nice and have creature comfort. Like, that's glamping.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:29:13
To me, that sounds like something I would be on board. I've been looking at Airbnb and I.
Lauren Gay 00:29:19
Did see the yards. I'm like, what's this? Scroll past?
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:29:22
So now I'm going to actually take.
Lauren Gay 00:29:23
Some time if you're looking. So Airbnb is going to have lamping spots. But also, like, Glamping Hub is huge for finding cool lamping places. Also, Glamping.com has cool glamping places look up unique accommodations because it might not necessarily stay glamping, but like, we stayed in these really cool converted containers, like the shipping containers, but they converted them into, like, little cabins in Texas, in Hill Country. But it was glamping because of the way they're set up. And you had like, this little community of all these different shipping containers, fire pits and all that kind of stuff. So glamping can have a little unique take on it. Even like banning Meal is a treehouse resort in Georgia. Like, you had to walk on the suspension bridge, get to your tree house. I'm in a two storey. Treehouse with a hot tub. Like, you can glamp as fancy as you want to get. They have it. And then as basic as you want to get, they have those two glamping, hub and Glamping.com, also the dirt. All of those are pretty good resources if you're looking for glamping style accommodations. But also don't sleep on your state parks. Go to your state park website and look and see what kind of camping and cabin accommodations they have. Because they might have cabins and they might have yurt. And like, Georgia has tons of yurts. And I stayed in one is on a peninsula, like an island out on a lake. Each yurt had its own little area. It came with a kayak. It came with all these amenities that was really cool. And then you have there is another park called Unicorn and called, like, a squirrel house. It's kind of like a treehouse. It's up in the forest, but it's like a cabin. So look at your state park websites and just see what they offer, because you might be surprised what you find.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:31:27
And this is an excellent conversation because like I said before, I saw yours today, and I just like, I don't.
Lauren Gay 00:31:33
Know what that is.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:31:35
But now the sky is the limit for the opportunities.
Lauren Gay 00:31:39
I like to say a yurt is like a tent in a cabin, had a baby. And so they're from the Mongolian yurt that you'll see if you see like, from Nepal and Mongolia, from that Eastern Asian area. Historically, they had those they look like a tent, but it's triangle at the top. That's the traditional yurt. And then, of course, we have modernized it to have them here. But they're a really cool I think you should do it.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:32:09
Lauren Gay 00:32:11
Convince me. There are some really nice ones out there. That when we say that I had a skylight at the top, which was cool, you could see the night sky at night. And I had a sink and running water and bed and furniture and other stuff. Like, it was pretty neat. So that's a neat way to just see nature, because you'll really be in nature versus traveling to nature. It's something to be said about waking up and walking out of your door and you don't hear anything but like, literally birds and bees and insects in that cool morning air. Like, this is a different feeling than when you drive to a park versus can you stay there?
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:32:53
Excellent. Yeah, that's inspiring. And listen, I got vacation days, so I'm excited. I am so excited. And this also reminds me of this term. I'm not sure if you know about this, Lauren, but it's called Champing. So in the UK, you can actually stay at a very old church. So there's camping, there's Glamping and there's Champion. So Champing and I discovered this years ago when I was visiting the UK and actually tried to stay in one, and it was an old stone church, ancient church with a little cemetery in the side of it. And the person I was traveling with was so freaked out that they said no. So I almost had my opportunity to do something like super cool. But yes, if you go to Camping UK, I believe that's the website. And guess what guys, I'll have all the links for you guys in the show notes. So all the links Lauren mentioned but also the Champion. It's champion co UK. You'll be able to check that out and see if you want to go explore and sleep at a church.
Lauren Gay 00:34:06
You have just added something else to my bucket list because no, I did not know about Champing. I probably will be freaked out but I will do it anyway. Like that's the difference. People think I don't get, I do all the time but I still do it anyway. I just make it happen. So Champion is added to my list. I tried to stay in a lighthouse in the Azores and I just didn't have enough time. But I still want to do that. I want to stay in a lighthouse. I want to stay in a windmill too.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:34:37
That's incredible. Now talking about like your travel wish list, do you have a document or someplace that you're keeping track of all the things that you see that you want to do or do you just kind of remember what you want to do and you kind of go after it?
Lauren Gay 00:34:51
You know what kind of so I have two bucket list. I'm a Christmas nurse. Christmas is my favorite holiday. So actually I have a whole blog post about my Christmas bucket list of Christmas experiences around the world that I want to have and I keep it up to date. I check them off as I get them done right. But the rest of the things I really want to try there in Pinterest. I love pinterest. I'm a huge Pinterest component as a means of getting traffic to my site actually. But I plan my trip. That is where my trips are burst. They are birthed in Pinterest on a secret board. And I just started finding stuff and I'm looking at stuff and I'm pinning it. Now that we have the collections and instagram, that's probably my third list. So I have a list of like must do that I add things to for that but even that eventually they end up in Pinterest so that I can really plan it out logistically and figure out, okay, how can I make this happen? But yeah, I have quite an extensive list. At the top of that list is doing the Christmas market and staying in those. Igloos over there in Finland.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:36:03
Amazing. And to be honest, I use Pinterest to claim my travels as well.
Lauren Gay 00:36:10
That is a pro tip.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:36:11
Pinterest is a visual search engine so you can type in things to do in excellent destination and you will find inspiration, and it's visual, so you could always remember what exactly that was. So that is amazing, Lauren. You chopped so many incredible gems. So inspiring, especially during this time. I know it looks all bleak and we're like, what's going on? But you were such a joy and just a bright light. So I'm super excited to have you here on the podcast today.
Lauren Gay 00:36:44
Thank you so much for having me, Danielle. Danielle has been instrumental in helping me to grow as a podcaster. So really happy and honored to be here today. Thank you, Lauren.
Danielle Desir Corbett 00:36:56
I'll see you guys in the next episode of the Thought Card Podcast. Bye.
Today’s podcast partner is Get Outdoors 101, a self-paced course by Olivia Christine designed to help you learn how to plan outdoor trips confidently so you can have memorable experiences, unplug and de-stress.
I’m planning my first camping trip this year, and I had no idea what I was doing or where to start. I was nervous but curious and felt like I was missing out.
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Get Outdoors: How To Enjoy the Outdoors
Adventure doesn’t have to be rugged. It doesn’t have to involve scaling Mount Everest, skiing, or deep-sea diving with sharks. The great outdoors can be welcoming to all.
Looking for how to get outdoors more? Lauren breaks down her favorite outdoor activities per season, including winter nature activities and outdoor summer activities.
Outdoor Experiences in Fall
Lauren Gay: “Fall is perfect for hiking and visiting state and national parks. If you live anywhere where you can drive to an apple orchard and go apple picking, it’s time for that. The pumpkin patches are out, and the corn mazes are springing up.”
Lauren reminds us that if it’s outside, it’s outdoorsy and still a form of nature, just a different way to take it in.
She also suggests camping and glamping since the temperatures are cooler. In the Fall, there are fewer bugs and mosquitoes.
The Fall foliage, especially in New England, is amazing!
Outdoor Experiences in Winter
Winter is full of great outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing and ice fishing. Remember, you can still hike in the winter, and the best part is seeing frozen waterfalls.
Lauren Gay: “In the winter, that base layer is going to be super duper important. You want to have good wool socks, something to cover your head, and then you want to dress in layers. That’s really the most important part, layers. Winter is absolutely gorgeous, and you can still get outside and do winter hikes. If you are brave enough, consider skiing or snowboarding.”
Read Next: Winter Destinations For Black Solo Travelers
What to wear in winter?
Lauren Gay: “In the winter, that base layer is going to be super duper important. You want to have good wool socks, something to cover your head, and then you want to dress in layers.”
Start with a thermal base layer. You want it to be dry wicking, so it pulls moisture away from your body, so you don’t get sick. Believe it or not, you’ll still sweat and get hot, especially if you’re being active. Dressing in layers means you can take things off when appropriate.
Wear an all-weather jacket, especially to protect yourself against the wind. Cover your head and wear wool socks that will keep your feet nice and dry. Same with your shoes. You want to have boots that are going to keep your feet dry and have grip.
Experience outdoors in Spring
Spring is the perfect time for water activities.
With all that melted snow running off into the rivers, lakes, and tributaries, waterfalls in the Spring are magnificent.
Consider visiting lavender fields, tulip fields, and even sunflower fields toward the end of Spring.
Spring is also a great time to try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, tubing, and river rafting, no matter the region of the country you’re in.
Lauren says, “All these activities exist, even in the south. We have tubing in Florida, and you can do tubing in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. There’s rafting in Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Georgia.
Experience Outdoors in Summer
Hit the beaches, hit the springs, and the rivers. Water activities and water sports are great in the summer.
Summer is a good time to see places you normally wouldn’t. Some places are only accessible from late Spring into Summer, so you want to visit those places while they are open.
Lauren says summer is a great time to visit Colorado, Northern California, or even Ohio. Did you know that Ohio has islands in the Great Lakes that feature crystal caves, glacier grooves, wineries, and dinosaur fossils you can explore.
Advice For Adventuring Solo
Lauren reminds us that adventuring solo is a good time to get to know yourself and you are braver than you think. Start small, and do one activity for the day. Adventuring doesn’t have to be an epic multi-day saga.
As you plan for solo outdoor activities, mitigate risk. Make sure someone knows where you are. Share your itinerary, even if it’s a day hike.
Have a way to protect yourself, whether a pocket knife, a taser, a maze, or a firearm. Just know the law where you are and stay within the bounds of the law.
Make smart decisions. If you engage with strangers, that’s fine. But don’t let people know you’re by yourself. Make people think you’re expecting someone.
Lastly, find a group if you’re still deciding whether to go solo. Facebook groups and Meetup are great places to start.
“Think, what is the best thing that could happen to me? And then that’s what it’s going to be. Take basic safety precautions. You can do it. It’s worth it. Because the worst thing would be to miss an experience, because you are waiting on other people. If we’ve learned nothing else in this time period is that time does not wait for anyone. You don’t know what could happen, what could change. We could end up in another shutdown. You could not be here. So don’t let not having people to go with you be the deterrent.” – Lauren Gay
Listen to this podcast episode on Spotify.
Memorable Quotes From Lauren Gay
- “Our national park system is amazing. It is beautiful. It’s a travesty not to see a place like Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, or the Smoky Mountains before you die.”
- “Don’t let not having people to go with you be the deterrent.”
- “People are just realizing how beautiful our country really is and taking advantage of it, specifically more Black people, which I love to see us discovering these things that we didn’t necessarily grow up doing.”
- “Glamping is glamorous camping. And my name is self-evident into why I prefer glamping.”
Listen to this podcast episode on YouTube.
Connect With Lauren Gay:
Lauren Gay, a.k.a. “Outdoorsy Diva” is a single mom and empty nester who encourages Black women to build the confidence to explore and enjoy outdoors.
Lauren Gay is also one of the founding members of Black Travel Alliance, an organization on a mission to support Black content creators and increase their representation in the travel industry. Want to learn more? Listen to Episode 61 to learn about the challenges Black travel creators face and how Black Travel Alliance promotes diversity in travel marketing.
Other Travel Episodes You’ll Love
- Planning Your First Solo Backpacking Trip With Gemma Thompson – Episode 90
- How To Define Your Travel Style – Episode 102
What are your favorite outdoor leisure activities?
Danielle Desir Corbett paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries, including her favorites, Iceland, China, and Bermuda. Go here to learn Danielle’s incredible story, from struggling financially and in debt to finding creative ways to earn more and live on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast, where Danielle shares how you can creatively travel more and build wealth regardless of your current financial situation. Reach out to Danielle by contacting: thethoughtcard (at) gmail (dot) com.
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