Years ago (two, in fact) I wrote to you about a little thing called Bloghouse. Still some of you think it’s like a reality TV show for bloggers — which, while not entirely untrue, is not its purpose.

What is Bloghouse then? It’s an offline gathering of bloggers new and old that somehow transforms a group of strangers into blogging gurus and new best friends. (Not exaggerating.)

I had no idea what I was getting into when I applied (let alone showed up) for the workshop in Chicago. But since then I’ve often looked back fondly on those four days, and I’ve been able to see all the little ways it changed my life personally and professionally.

So when the opportunity arose to go back to Bloghouse, I didn’t hesitate. Sure, from the outside things were a bit different this time around: it was to be held in Philadelphia (not Chicago,) in a hotel (not a house,) and I was to return not as a student…but as a teacher.

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I’m coming up on two years of working remotely in San Francisco. And while, yes, some of this time was spent frolicking to other countries or on my couch at home, many, many hours have been spent in search of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.

As a freelancer, I like a healthy balance between being in my own world and being surrounded by others. Routine is both my best friend and my worst enemy — I find it encourages productivity but stifles creativity. When I’m short on inspiration, sometimes it’s as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood (I love you, SF) followed by a couple of hours in a coffee shop with good vibes. I find that even changing up my seating in a familiar place can help me see things in a new light.

Finding a public space to work in offers the best of both worlds. And because there’s nothing like caffeine to fuel both productivity and creativity, for me, I find myself in the city’s best coffee shops more often than not.

When I’m on deadline, I have to prioritize the Internet connection and minimize distractions. When I’m out more to journal or generate ideas, I choose coffee quality above all else. Most days you can find me at my neighborhood go-tos, which offer a bit of both.

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In a world of Instagram, traveling, and travel blogging, it seems we’re taking more pictures than ever before.

Yet I chuckle when someone sees me shooting while traveling or finds me online and asks me, “Are you a professional photographer?”

Some days I want to stretch the truth and say yes, because I have made money from my photos before. Does that a professional make? Not in my eyes.

So I spill: “Actually, most of the time I shoot in auto.” I then get one of two looks: the “wow-that’s-amazing, your photos still look good” or the “silly little travel blogger, you’re not doing it right.”

The truth is, most of my photos do turn out decently well in auto mode. For me the tradeoff has always been time, since I’m not yet comfortable shooting in manual on the fly. When I’m traveling (or just living,) I try to balance the time I’m behind a lens with the time I’m enjoying the moment with my own two eyes. Taking the time to adjust otherwise seemed like an awful lot of effort with minimal payoff, seeing as I’m already decently happy with my photos.

Enter Patrick Kelley.

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Heading to Kauai soon? Here are all the places I wish I had known about before I went.

I’ve written a fair amount of itineraries for this site, mostly because it’s the travel information both you as readers and I myself need help with most often. I have personally spent hundreds of hours researching destinations, and even more time benefitting from the planning of others and my own experience.  And as much as I love writing personal pieces or thoughtful narratives, I find quality itinerary and genuine recommendations surprisingly difficult to find — online or otherwise.

I also want to continue to demonstrate how much can be seen, even at a reasonable pace — for the part-time travelers who feel limited by a few weeks of vacation time. I hope to show that it’s as simple as aligning your priorities, doing the research (which I hope I am contributing to,) booking the ticket, and going.

The good news is Kauai is a fantastic place for the part-time traveler who only has a week of time.

When I sat down to share my tips from my recent time in Kauai, however, I found dividing the island into regions and subcategories to be more effective for explanation.  I’ll share those along with a brief breakdown of what to plan for each day in a week.

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A good friend of my father’s grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. That fact, combined with the random weeklong October break from school, meant that I was fortunate enough to spend weeks of my childhood every year in what is still one of my favorite places in the world.

As time went on and the family vacations slowly ceased, I took a break from visiting Hawaii. Eager to see the world and experience growth from unfamiliar cultures and bits of life lived outside of my comfort zone, I stopped wanting to go.

Eventually, and especially since moving to San Francisco, I began to hear a small whisper intuitively calling me back to Hawaii. I had yet to visit one major island, and as my interest in hiking and spending time in raw nature had grown since childhood…I knew it was finally time to get to Kauai.

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