About

Hi, I’m Kaitlan and I’m the author of what I would refer to as the “attainable travel, active exploration, connection-making, and hopefully educational” content you’ll find on From Cities To Trails. I’m happy to see you here.

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Finally seeing the Matterhorn in August 2019

Yes, in a way this is another travel blog, but I’d like to think that what you’ll find here is content on travel and exploration that facilitates a deeper understanding of, and connection with, a place and its culture. Travel for me is as much about connecting with people, understanding the history and culture, and appreciating the natural beauty as it is about checking a destination off a bucket list. Lists are great (New Zealand still sits high on mine) and it’s satisfying to visit a place that you’ve envisioned in your head and worked hard to get to, but what I strive to do is encourage people to extend beyond their bucket lists and comfort zones. I think it’s important to have some background on a place before visiting, and when I get there I like exploring off the beaten track and pushing myself to take risks that challenge my perception of what I’m capable of or think I know.

Speaking of background, I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but am currently residing in Brussels, Belgium, ever so slowly picking up a little bit of French and Dutch while consuming plenty of Belgian chocolate. This blog – originally The Brussels Blog – started as a side project for keeping family and friends updated on our (my husband and I) life while living and working abroad. This endeavor has evolved into a full-time passion for writing and sharing informative content on my experiences getting to know a new country and adventures in other destinations near and far.

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Mussels and frites at Resto National

My love of travel didn’t start in Belgium though. There were more than a few road trips across the US undertaken by my family and then a semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain while studying Accounting and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Living with a lovely host family and immersing myself in the local culture instilled in me an appreciation for living outside my comfort zone while getting to know new cultures.

I should also mention that being active is another important aspect of my life and one of my favorite ways to see a new place is in my running shoes on a morning jog. Other outdoor activities that I favor include hiking, biking, and swimming, on their own or together (triathlon participant since 2007). Being outside fuels my creativity and inspires me.

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The best way to capture a run – with a (low) jump

This leads me to what is, in my opinion, another important facet of travel – discovery. For me, discovery can mean a visit to a different café, exploring a new author or genre of book that challenges the way you see things, or extending a conversation with someone you haven’t conversed with previously. That’s why you’ll also find me writing about what I learn about my own neighborhood – the people I’ve met, the places I’ve walked, and exploring new running, biking, and blading routes.

Here’s a fun fact for you – if you’re familiar with Business Chemistry assessment, I’m an integrator (green), which means that I really struggle to answer the question of what my favorite place is that I have visited. I don’t have a solid response to that, but what I can share are the places I’ve visited that have taught me some important lessons:

  • Milwaukee, WI: Take pride in where you come from and if people have never heard of it, tell them about the cheese curds and brutal winters.
  • Sevilla, Spain: Sometimes you just have to go all in when it comes to getting outside your comfort zone. Moving in with a family you’ve never met before for four months (hello Mateos!) and only speaking Spanish in their home is one way to do that.
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: Appreciate the people who help you make it to your destination.
  • Iguazu Falls, Brazil: Take the plunge… fully clothed… into a pool… on New Year’s Eve… even though you don’t exactly understand that tradition.
  • Brussels, Belgium: Risk taking can be rewarding.
  • Marrakech, Morocco: Connecting with locals can significantly enhance your experience and bestow you with perspective.
  • Egypt: Standing in front of the remnants of one of the earliest civilizations on Earth is mind-blowing, but a willingness to set aside your expectations and attempt to understand, rather than dismiss, cultural differences will allow for an even more fulfilling experience.
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An unforgettable experience in Egypt

If you’ve made it this far, then I’ll leave you with a high-level summary of what you can expect to find on From Cities To Trails. Since the blog make-over and my delving into full-time writing, you’ll find:

  1. Concise “What to Know & What to See” posts with informative content that can help you prepare for and enjoy a visit to a city, neighborhood, park, etc.
  2. Longer “Recap” posts which, while very detailed, are filled with personal anecdotes and usually plenty of self-deprecating humor (see some of my earliest entries when we moved to Brussels).
  3. Enlightening “Get to Know a Local” posts where I share insights direct from someone who knows a place best.

Enjoy!