Kathleen Rellihan reaches the summit of Kilimanjaro, moments before sunrise, with a full moon lighting the way. (Credit: Kathleen Rellihan)
The months leading up to my Mount Kilimanjaro climb were filled mostly with making countless trips to REI to stock up on gear and promising others that even their grandma could do it. Yes, before I had even stepped foot onto Africa’s tallest peak, I already was reassuring friends and family, “No, no … anyone can do it. It’s not Everest. There are 80-year-olds who climb it all the time.”
While it’s true that you don’t need to be an Ironman to climb Kilimanjaro, it was obvious that I wasn’t so much reassuring my friends, my family and the guy fitting my hiking boots that I was fully capable of trekking to an altitude of 19,341 feet — I was trying to mask my own doubts. Sure, I had read every Kilimanjaro packing list that I could find and scoured reviews on the best moisture-wicking, wind-resistant, fleece-lined, solar-paneled, this-definitely-will-help-you-not-die gear out there. But in terms of any mental or emotional preparations, the only thought I could allow to enter my mind was: “Just make it to the top. Even if someone has to drag you.”
Hello, spring! After a long, dark and cold winter, we couldn’t be more ready for the weather to warm up and the days to get a little longer. Need more reasons to head outside? Nature is blooming, music festivals are heating up and the summer crowds are still at bay.
So quit hibernating and savor spring outdoors with our to-do list:
Courtesy of WHOA Travel
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we’re highlighting fearless female travelers around the globe who are celebrating the transforming power of travel and what women can accomplish together.
From climbing (and dancing) to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with women from around the globe to featuring the leading ladies in travel at the Women’s Travel Fest to supporting local women finding work in India, here are the ways women are closing the gender gap and encouraging sustainable travel, ultimately opening the world for other women all over the world.
Courtesy of WHOA Travel
High-Altitude Dance Party on Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Whoa, these women don’t just talk about moving mountains — they climb them together! WHOA Travel (Women High on Adventure) is leading its second annual Mount Kilimanjaro International Women’s Day climb. About 30 women from 10 different countries, including the US, Sweden, Estonia and Kenya, will summit the roof of Africa together at sunrise on March 8. WHOA founders Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton met while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro together in 2013. Knowing firsthand that no one climbs the mountain alone, the travel-loving duo believe in the power of showing the world what women can accomplish together. They also believe there’s always time for a little dancing and keep morale up on the 7-day trek with high-altitude dance parties.
So you don’t have a valentine this year … whomp, whomp. Don’t spend the weekend gorging on chocolate hearts and swiping right on a certain dating app. Instead, consider exploring your options in a different city this year. The best city for finding love, according to a new Zillow survey? Washington, DC. The survey used 4 main metrics: percentage of population that’s single, percentage of population that’s new to the city and single (hello, fresh options), date spots, and disposable income to pay for said date spots. The Washington Post does pose the obvious question: Could Washington be the best city for love because it’s the most loveless city? Hmm, let’s stay hopeful!
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Happy Birthday to the King of Reggae — Bob Marley! The legendary singer-songwriter was born on Feb. 6, 1945, and this year he would have celebrated his 70th birthday. “In this bright future you can’t forget your past…” nor such a legendary musician’s past either. So what better way to celebrate the Reggae star than with a visit to his colorful country of Jamaica, mon! Bob Marley fans from across the world make the pilgrimage to the beautiful island nation to see where the music legend lived and where his iconic sound took root.
La Mer Restaurant, Honolulu, Hawaii (Photo Courtesy of OpenTable)
Hey, lovebirds, don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away, and if you haven’t made your plans yet, you better get cracking! Need ideas? OpenTable just released its list of 2015’s Most Romantic Restaurants in America.
Whether you want to woo your S.O. over swoon-worthy seafood or hope to rekindle a relationship with a fireside meal, these restaurants are sure to stir up a little romance. This year’s list of winning restaurants with decadent dishes and come-hither ambiences spans more than 31 states and the nation’s capital and is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews.
It must be the dreamy ocean views, because California boasts the most romantic restaurants, followed by New York, Texas and Virginia. And the cuisine that, for the past 6 years, has been the favorite for flirting over? Fondue.
Courtesy of New York Times Travel Show
Before New York City got slammed with the wintry wrath of Juno, it hosted the travel world over the weekend for the annual New York Times Travel Show at the Jacob K. Javits Center. If you needed any inspiration to plan your next trip, this was the place to be, with over 500 exhibitors representing more than 100 countries.
The travel show kicked off Friday with a trade day for travel professionals and media. Doors opened to consumers Saturday and Sunday for 2 days of trip giveaways, travel seminars, cultural performances, book signings by celebrated travel writers, and global bites at the Taste of the World culinary pavilion.
Emily Riddell/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images
“Travel more.” It’s one resolution that tops our list every year. We think it has more lasting impact on our quality of life than going gluten-free or cleaning out our closet — and we imagine it’ll give us much better stories, too.
Here are 7 more resolutions to make the most out of your travels in 2015.
Live like the locals.
Take advantage of the growing trend of travel companies offering opportunities to connect to local tastemakers such as chefs, musicians and artists. Not only will you dig deeper into the culture and learn where the tourist-free bars are, but you might even bring home a new recipe or piece of art that’s attached to a great story. And with sites such as OneFineStay.com, you can even stay in locals’ homes when they’re out of town and live out your fantasy of being a New Yorker in a historical brownstone or a Londoner in a posh pied-a-terre.
Connect with limits.
If completely unplugging on vacation seems like an impossible feat, you’re not alone. As more technology is developed to make traveling easier, including keyless hotel rooms and smartwatches that let you book travel, it becomes harder to see the advantages of disconnecting on a trip. We find it more realistic to give ourselves limits, such as checking email only at a certain time of the day and not inundating our followers with humblebrag Instagram photos of every stunning sunset we encounter. Savor the fleeting moments of travel, revel in the experience, and keep your smartphone tucked in your bag instead of in your hand.
Whether or not you know all the lyrics to Let It Go (you listen to the song only because of your kids … right) or it’s always been on your bucket list to sleep in an igloo, fans of the film phenomenon Frozen and winter-loving travelers alike are embracing arctic temperatures for an unforgettable night in their very own ice palace. From ice hotels in Norway to thermal glass igloos in Finland, Booking.com shared with us the most spectacular Frozen-inspired hotels around the world.
Channel your inner ice queen or mountain man, bundle up in some faux fur, and belt it out … “Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway!”
Courtesy of Hotel de Glace
WHOA Travel founders Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton on Mount Kilimanjaro. All photos courtesy of WHOA
No one climbs Mount Kilimanjaro alone, and no one knows that better than the founders of WHOA Travel. Women High on Adventure creators Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton are travel-loving friends who met while climbing Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, in February 2013. Tackling one of the world’s toughest summits together was so life-altering, they knew they wanted to share the experience with others. So upon returning to New York, they quit their jobs and started an adventure travel company with a mission to motivate women to step out of their comfort zones … and onto the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
In the spirit of empowering women, WHOA Travel led a group of 28 women from 9 countries to the roof of Africa on International Women’s Day earlier this year. Not only did all 28 women make it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but they even danced their way to the summit. Led by the mountain’s first local female guide, the group raised more than $10,000 to support women’s educational programs in Kenya and Tanzania. Now, Allison and Danielle are gearing up to lead another group of women to the summit on International Women’s Day in 2015.
We caught up with daring adventuresses between climbing mountains to find out what other WHOA-inspiring trips they’re leading, how their high-altitude dance-party tradition began, and the surprising item they never head back to Mount Kilimanjaro without (hint: it’s not a power bar).