According to U.S. News, a record-breaking 112 million Americans are expected to travel for the Holidays. If you are like me, Christmas means piling presents, a suitcase, and maybe some local drafts in the car and hitting the road to head back to wherever family is.
It also means trying to figure out how to squeeze a workout in between the family functions and the consumption of one or two or ten of Aunt Jenny’s cookies.
If I am driving to whatever family/friends I am visiting and I know they don’t have any home gym options, nothing beats a portable, door frame pull-up bar. So if you have access to that, great! If not, no worries there are other ways to get strong without it. I love to get a good workout in before the holiday family mayhem starts, so if you are like me, take a look some of these workout options!
Workout #1: requires pull-up bar
I like doing what is known as a superset. You pair two exercises together, do them immediately after each other and then rest for a period after you have done both exercises. The workout below has three supersets of exercises and a bonus round.
Additionally, before getting into it any physical activity, I always to a 5 minute dynamic warmup of some sort. (jumping jacks, high knees, shoulder swings, etc. After that, you are good to get into the workout. See circuit below.
Explanations and Modifications
If you can’t quite do a pull-up/chin up (which is totally fine, you will get there!), I used to modify by either putting a foot on the back of a chair or tying resistance bands to the pull-up bar and put one or more feet in the band.
If normal pull-ups are too easy, you can always go the extra mile by bringing weights, a weight pin, a carrabiner and your climbing harness with you (I managed to squeeze in some very hungover weighted pull-ups when I was a music festival this past May. My friends on the trip were amazed at the motivation.)
Side plank can be done either on your hand or on you elbow–whatever works for you!
Yes. a Burpee pull-up is actually jumping up, doing a pull-up, coming back down, jumping your feet back into a plank, doing a push-up and jumping back up to the pull-up bar. If it sounds awful it’s because it is. Here’s a video of it
Workout #2: No equipment
Part 1: Upper body (follow the fitness blender video)
Part 2: Legs (mini leg blasters)
If you want to hit the legs as well, do some mini leg blasters. I still hold fast to my love of leg blasters as a useful way to spend 15 minutes and DESTROY YOUR LEGS without any equipment. (Especially if you are interested in ways to train for skiing.)
Try to do 10 mini leg blasters (see the circuit below) with 30 seconds of rest in-between. Credit to backcountry.com for their article on this leg workout that always has me ready to go for ski season!
So there you have it. Two workouts requiring minimal or no equipment that can help you break a sweat and feel like you’re still contributing to your overall fitness, even if you aren’t at home training on your usual wall.
In January of 2018 I found an attractively inexpensive flight: roundtrip to the island of Mallorca, Spain for $450. Without much thought, much of a plan, or anyone to go with, I booked a flight.
Ten months later I found myself waking up to the cuck-a-doodle doo of a rooster in a Mallorcan hostel. Accompanied by a familiar tour guide, some strangers, and an old friend from Ohio–I was off to my first day of deep water soloing.
What is deep water soloing?
For those unfamiliar with this genre of climbing, it is ropeless route climbing above water. Water deep enough, that is, that you are in no danger of striking the ocean floor when you eventually fall off the wall. Routes are like those you find at your typical outdoor sport crag, without bolts. The routes range in height from 30 feet (10 meters) to as high as you’d ever want to consider, really.
The Value of a Guide Service
If you’ve ever been anywhere new, the propensity to waste time getting lost, pick a restaurant that sucks, or be generally confused about how to prioritze your time can be pretty high.
Google all you want, it helps to have a savvy guide point your trip in the right direction.
That’s why, when I take international climbing trips I go with Rockbusters. Rockbusters ia a tour group headed by human guidebook, Jan Novotny. The first trip I took with them was in June 2017 to Rodellar, Spain. The climbing, the guiding, and the trip were all excellent.
Rockbusters makes planning an international trip easy. You show up to the airport with minimal gear, they pick you up, show you around, and offers some pretty stellar coaching in the process. Jan and his team have certainly earned my status as a repeat customer.
Accommodations & Food
I am accustomed to primitive camping when going on climbing trips, so I was pleasantly surprised. There were three bunk beds piled into one room Myself and the four other women on the trip fit very nicely into the room. These were simple, no-fuss accommodations where you could pay little money and rest your head after a long day of climbing. The pool was pretty nice too, although usually I was too tired and soggy to go for a dip after climbing.
Since it was the off-season for tourists in Mallorca the camp site dining area was completely empty. The ten or so of us in our tour group had free reign to enjoy this perk. One of the trip guides, Erin, owns a restaurant in DC called Mola where she cooks Spanish inspired foods. She has somehow found a way to spend a lot of her time in Europe with Rockbusters cooking delicious (and exceptionally nutritious meals) with a couple of camp stoves and some big pans.
I asked her if she had a bunch of written recipes that she used for her camp cooking. She politely responded “No, I usually just think of it and cook it as I go. I come up with new things to make all the time, otherwise I would get bored. I don’t like to repeat things too often.”
Needless to say, the food was exceptional every night and there was always plenty of wine to go around.
I had trouble sleeping every night and not because of the accommodations. I mainly enjoyed my fellow trip mates so much that I didn’t want to go to bed. When I finally did try to hit the hay, I was genuinely so excited to climb the next day that I stayed awake thinking about it.
Every morning in Mallorca felt like Christmas.
The good news is that most of the hikes into Mallorca are absolutely stunning. At least the ones that I did. Most of them are also on the beach. Even better–some of these beaches have bars.
The Daily Grind
I had never deep water soloed before and leading up to the trip I was pretty nervous that I was going to be so scared to do it that I would hardly get any climbing done.
Fortunately, I did get some climbing done–a LOT actually. Jan is an awesome coach and his high standards and hilariously excessive scrutiny are pretty effective for me. Jan is an exceptional climber and has coached me to achieve some of my best ascents. My first 11a and my first 11d, both of which occurred on separate travels to Spain.
Here’s a little run-down of how we spent each day.
We spend our time beautiful and low consequence crag to “get our feet wet”. Followed by dinner, beer and sleeping.
My and a fellow trip buddy (and fellow engineer!) found a project for the short trip–Hercules 11b. We worked it until sunset and kept getting bucked off the crux.
We took a break from DWS on day 3 to do some sport climbing. It was extremely hot. I love ropes, but wow, I could have used a little more shade and water that day–not exactly ideal conditions for pulling on vertical crimps. Still had a great time and got on some fun stuff!
Porto Colom Lighthouse.
Returned to Cala Barques and bagged the send on Hercules (11b). I laid at the top of the cliff and cried after I topped out. Sending a project as the sun sets in Mallorca was a moving experience.
Everyone split up on the last day to do what they really wanted. Some people were psyched on doing more sport climbing and the rest were on for more deep water solo. I was in the latter half of the group and I am very happy I chose how I did. Somehow, on my 6th day on, I sent my first 11d in three short tries. The route is not ridiculously long, but the moves were big and tough. Here’s some pictures of it.
Jan’s Rockbusters trips always attract really awesome people, and this trip was no exception. The gang I went with was supportive, fun, diverse in age and background and truly a remarkable group of people to go cragging with for the week. Everyone came from different backgrounds, careers, and locations. We were all different ages and from different places, but we got along famously. I don’t think that happens very often, so I definitely cherish that.
I think climbing with new people is really important. Sometimes you put yourself in a sortof mental hierarchy in your usual climbing gang and I think this can be oddly limiting. It was liberating to climb with people that had no expectations of me at all. It allowed me to throw off my usual hang-ups, and just go climbing. The unwavering support and stoke from everyone was palpable–I think that’s what made this such a successful trip.
Effective climbing trip lifestyle strategy: Be the last one on the wall, the last one at the bar. I heeded this advice from Jan and I think it was crucial. No one likes being hungover climbing overhangs.
The motivation to not fall when deep water soloing is more than the fear and failure. The motivation to keep your shoes dry and to not have to pull yourself up a godawful rope swing is almost equally powerful as the aforementioned.
Deep water soloing is horrifying and beautiful all at the same time. It makes you fight all your instincts and sending makes you feel like a superhero.
Photography credit goes out to Adam Pernikar (follow him @pernikphoto). He was our professional trip photographer for the week and boy did he do a great job. He literally sacrificed his skin to make sure we left Spain with some rad photos (he was very sunburnt after hanging out on this line all day in Porto Colom). Jan also did a great job taking photos throughout the week. Even though he sometimes got distracted started taking pictures of sexy tourist ladies.
In any case–having people around with awesome cameras taking pictures of you while you climb is a pretty cool perk and I’m super grateful to Jan and Adam for the photos they took.
Going in for round two
Needless to say it was an incredible experience. I’m psyched about my tics on this trip but boy am I motivated to go back for more.
It was also kindof a bummer to not have my main man on the trip, so he will be aventuring with me when we head back again next fall.
There’s a few routes I want to take down and these gorgeous cliffs are more than enough to keep me inspired through training this season.
We all do it. We take a look at our favorite pro-climber’s social media and think “Well gee, if only someone was paying me to travel to some far and distant land to climb at an incredible exotic crag. I could never afford to do that.” The problem is that this really isn’t true.
That attitude sucks. You can totally travel where you want to and it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think it might. Sure, you may need to save some money, and have a trick or two up your sleeve, but I think we can all agree that strategically saving some money to go on an amazing trip to Spain is a worthwhile thing to do.
Here is how I did a trip to Mallorca for a week and saved money where I could. Truthfully I could have been even more of a dirtbag and made this trip even more frugally, but I like to ball out, even when I’m on a budget. Either way, I had the trip of a lifetime and didn’t spend a down payment on a car to do so. Read on to see how I did it.
Getting Cheap Flights
Flights are obviously a big one when it comes to keeping costs
I use a service called Scott’s Cheap Flights to get deals on flights. My flight to Mallorca was a whopping $450 round trip out of Baltimore with baggage included.*
*Yes, I know that these kind of deals may seem related to the fact that the East Coast is a little closer to Spain than California, but there are still deals to be had from all over. See below. Booking far in advance definitely helps as well.
Here is an example email from Scott’s, showing you that flight deals to Mallorca (PMI) definitely crop up every now and again.
If you want to sign up-it’s a $40/year subscription. My boyfriend and I split the subscription. Buy one flight and you more than make up the subscription cost.
Round Trip Flight Cost with 1 checked bag: $450
Travel to the Airport and Parking
I will spare you the boring details. Because of a friend with a lot of points at The Parking Spot, I only ended up having to pay $18 to park for the week. It would have been $88 without the certificate. Hopefully you can just take an Uber or have a friend drive you to the airport to avoid any of this nonsense.
Gas Round trip to the airport (1 tank): $30 Parking: $18
Airport Transit and
Accommodations, Guiding, and Transit in Mallorca
When I travel internationally for climbing trips I always go
with a guided service. Not only is this beneficial from a climbing standpoint,
it is extremely cost-effective.
Airport food is expensive, and it sucks. I had two big meals during my entire travel (mostly when I was sitting around airports when I flew out on Friday). Mainly, I subsisted off of the in-flight meals.
Total food in transit: $63.79
Once I got to Mallorca, our group was taken to a grocery
store to buy food for breakfast, lunch and crag snacks. I spent a pretty
nominal amount on groceries.
Total groceries for the week: $66.39
For dinner we were fortunate to have pro chef Erin Lingle cooking for us and making sure we had plenty of wine and desert too. The cost was 15 Euros per night. I had six delicious and nutritious meals cooked by her. Also, the benefit of not having to cook after a long day at the crag was pretty incredible.
Total cost for 6 dinners cooked by Erin: $112
The last night we went out on the town. So we only really dined out for one night and it was really good. I definitely think Erin was a better chef than the food we at on the town, however.
Dinner and some wine on the town: $45.55
Breakfast the morning of departure: $10
Beers and Cocktails for the week: $30
Total Food and Booze:
Swimsuits and Chalk
I was mortified at the thought of climbing in a bikini—just seemed like a bad idea. So I bought a couple of pairs of swim shorts from Athleta on sale. Very glad I did.
Total for bathing suits $44.99
I didn’t buy liquid chalk, but I should have. Since this is practically a necessity, so let’s add this as an invetible deep water solo expense too. Friction Labs Liquid Chalk
Total for liquid chalk $19.
So how much did this grand adventure come out to be in full?
GRAND TOTAL $1491.72
So yeah, it is no small chunk of change, but I know a lot of people spend about $1000 just flying to Europe. Not bad what it is all said and done.
Here are some more thoughts and tips to frugalize your adventures in the Mediterranean.
Avoid Currency Exchange Fees & International Charge Fees
Before you go international, I would highly recommend two
Make sure you have a credit card with no international fees. I would recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Annual fee is only $95, it has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus (AKA nearly enough points for a free round trip flight to Europe), and it has a ton of other sweet perks! This is a great card for travel–even if you’re only going on one awesome trip to Mallorca. I use this card regularly myself, if you want to apply use my affililiate link below (in full transparency, yes, I will get points if you use my link. But the card is perfect for this trip and I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t a smart move). As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions about the CSP at email@example.com.
I made the mistake of thinking we were camping so I brought a sleeping pad/sleeping bag, etc. Long story short I didn’t need any of that so I could have saved myself the trouble of checking a bag. So when you pack, pack light and you can avoid baggage fees too! My Gregory day pack holds an insane amount of stuff, so get yourself a nice back pack if you don’t have one already.
Buying airport food definitely sucks. I could have saved a lot of money if I had brought my own food to eat.
Travel rewards are also an awesome way to get free flights, etc. I won’t get into the weeds of travel rewards in this article here, but If you are interested in learning the ways of leveraging credit card signup bonuses to get free flights, I would highly recommend it. See below for a few resources that will give you a good start.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here’s 10 pictures that sum up what a blast I had this weekend on my first trip to Rumney, NH.
1. The “V8 boulder” that I was introduced to in the kitchen of our Air Bnb. Note the tic showing the starting crimp. I hadn’t met most of the people I was staying with, so this was a great and hilarious introduction to the gang.
2. Me belaying Mike on our warmup route in The Meadows. Felt great to be clipping bolts again.
3. My friend Cat and I having a blast taking in the views. (PS she just finished hiking the AT–check out her blog at seebagsgo.com)
4. Me having a very fun time flashing Waimea, 5.10d. Also, peep the guy a couple of routes over working his project–14c! He was so excited when he sent it! I was bummed I didn’t get to see it happen.
5. Views from the top of Waimea.
6. Getting Mike to take a nice picture can be very challenging.
7. Case in point.
8. Me putting in my first burn on my new project, Orangahang, 5.12a. This route is so fun and I’m ridiculously psyched about it.
9. Watching another climber send Predator, 5.13b. After he sent it, he unclipped the chains and took a MASSIVE victory whip. The whole crag was stoked.
10. The gang participating in some advanced stick clipping while we supported Scott (bottom of the pyramid) in his pursuit of Charlie Don’t Surf, 5.13b.
It was a stellar trip with incredible weather and I am beyond stoked to have made it up there this weekend.
If you don’t know what The Gunks are, they are a group of Mountains situated in upstate New York in near the quaint and kitschy town of New Paltz.
The area is haven for hikers, trail runners, bikers, climbers, and vacationers alike. Behind the well-maintained trails and lovely resort facade; however, lies a gnarly climbing area. It is an area where 5.5 will make you pee your pants and only the trad-daddiest of crushers are putting their pieces in a 5.9.
To my chagrin as a spoiled ex-Red River Gorge sport climber, there are no bolts anywhere. However, what the Gunks lacks in bolts, it makes up for in trad routes. According to my friend who has been climbing there for 6 years the Gunks has “more than you could hope to climb in a lifetime if you went every weekend until you died”.
On my trip, we kept it casual. Due to a lack of both trad experience and gear, we did an early morning sampling of the boulders on Undercliff Road. It was exceptionally good fun and I am very grateful to our new friend from our local gym for coming up on short notice, lending us pads, and serving as an excellent tour guide.
“So what you do is walk down Undercliff Road and boulder your way back.” Our buddy explained as we walked down the well-maintained path. Undercliff Road is long. The boulders and routes are on one side and an immaculate view of the valley is on your right. We couldn’t see it for most of the morning, but the fog was really cool!
We started out on box car boulder, doing some warm up routes–VO through V1. Our friend also explained that the grades were stiff. Take your gym grade and add three. I don’t boulder outside much, but this sounded about right. Going into this trip to the Gunks, I expected this ferocious gap between indoor and outdoor grades. I had made sure when I left my apartment that morning to leave my ego at home. It was much more fun that way.
After Box Car, we made our way down to Andrew’s boulder. I worked on it a bit. It’s classic V4, where, if you’re tall enough, you do this crazy move where you drop your heel hook to a toe hook so you can get the last couple of inches out of your legs to reach the next hold. It was ridiculous. I’m too short to get to do that move, but I am pretty psyched to keep working on it. Apparently you can keep climbing in the Gunks until December if you’re lucky. You might see me there.
A few mini-projects later, we made it to our final route. (See some fun mini-proj pictures below– I actually remembered to take pictures of these).
We then made it to the final route of the day, back at the beginning of Undercliff Road. It’s called the Lorax.
“It used to be fun, until they cut the trees down! It makes the whole route at least one grade easier.” Our friend reminisced about the days that there were two trees in front of the problem, making it exciting and absurd to negotiate. “It didn’t count if you touched the tree. If you even looked at the tree funny, you didn’t sent it.”
He also added “I prefer to climb without the crowds, so I like to get here around 6 or 7 a.m. By the time I’m done, everyone else is showing up.” Which was true. By the time we were ready to leave, the rectangle-backed afternoon boulderers were coming in droves. It was time to go.
We walked off of Undercliff Road sun-soaked, smelly, and happily exhausted. Mike and I smashed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before hitting the road. In two hours we were back at home, napping.
I’m a pretty lackluster boulderer and I don’t know anything about trad climbing, but I do know that I am very, very excited to get to know my new home crag–and maybe expand my horizons while I’m at it.