Month: March 2012

Photo of the day: Hedonisia,Hawaii

Taken in the crater on the eco-sustainable hostel I’m volunteering at (more details to come):

Notes on abandoning fear and letting go

I have been traveling full-time since January 23rd, which puts me a little over 2 months on the road. I’ve had almost ALL amazing experiences. Rarely there is a day where I wish I back in my old life, working the same old job that held little value for me. It’s safe to say that I’m utterly addicted to the lifestyle.

People have begun to ask me, with much curiosity, peppered with a bit of jealousy, “How do you do it?” Well, here’s a very honest run-down. I hope you’re listening, all you would-be Round The World Travelers. Here are some values and courses of action to consider:

1. FEAR: This is the biggest one, in my mind at least. Fear is the force that holds us back the most from accomplishing what our hearts truly desire. Fear will cripple you with feelings of “What if?” Fear doesn’t encourage, it thwarts, steals, belittles, beguiles.  Instead of having a self-defeating attitude, develop a positive, proactive mindset. Do you do what you want everyday? Really what you want? Do you WANT to commute to your office job, work the 9-5 plus overtime for the man, appease your boss? Imagine a world where you’re utterly free of that. Is that enticing to you? Are you afraid to leave behind the comfort of your “old life?” It’s very probable.

Fear will get you lost

2. COMFORT: It’s comfortable to live a life in the status quo, a life that follows the traditional trajectory. Graduate, find a job, maintain a relationship, possibly get married, have children. That’s a “comfortable” life path that people tend to follow. Why? Because we’re told to? For the most part, yes. For some people that works, and there is nothing wrong with that. But what about the people that hate their jobs? Feel unfulfilled? Dream of choking their bosses, airheaded co-workers, skipping off into the sunset for adventure? Stop holding yourself back. If you are UNCOMFORTABLE  in your current situation, resolve to find comfort in the unfamiliar. More often than not, novelty is the cure to a boring existence. Imagine leaving behind the “comforts of home,” the ones that are boring you to death. Sit an contemplate what would make you happy and pursue it.

An imagined happy place

3. RESEARCH: Get addicted to doing research, even if it’s a complete “Lottery Scenario.” Where would I be right now if I won the lottery? Picture yourself on an unspoiled stretch of beach somewhere? Living in a lean-two in the Philippines? Riding the metro in Paris? Where is your “Happy Place?” Start researching what it’s really like to GO there. How much would it cost? Where would I stay if  I could? Sometimes just a bit of poking around will be enough to fuel your dreams into action.

4. PRIORITY: You might be asking yourself how on Earth am I going to be able to travel when I have my rent to pay for, a car to care for, my Starbucks addiction to feed? Truthfully, it IS too expensive to travel around the world when you’re trying to maintain your same lifestyle back home. Sorry to tell you, but if you want those life enriching experiences of the road, you NEED to get rid of the pricier elements of your “old life.” Not saying that you have to ditch all of your Earthly possessions, but you’ll certainly have to prioritize what you’ll need to succeed.

For instance:

I moved out of my apartment in Philadelphia, saving me $400/month on rent, plus an extra $100/mo. on bills. I left my car in the care of my friend, so that I might avoid the awful gas prices ($4.65/gal? No thanks!). That’s nearly $600/mo. saved, halfway to a plane ticket to Thailand for one month without those expenses.

You might be asking yourself, but I can’t live without my IKEA couch and my loft apartment! Then you’re certainly reading the wrong article.

Goodbye humble abode, hello open road

5. ACTION: In a phrase: Take the leap. This has a lot more to do with letting go of FEAR, but also takes a combination of bravery and literally putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re a procrastinator, this will be difficult for you. Putting things off is not the traveler’s style. We’re the get up and go type. Don’t dream a better life for tomorrow: live it today.

Photo Essay: One day in Portland

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Photo of the Day: The Quickening

Sydney Botanic Gardens

This shot was just featured as Photo of the Day on WhyGo Travel. Check it out here: http://photos.whygo.com/2012/03/royal-botanic-gardens-sydney-australia.html

When the streets come alive

It’s a good sign when you end up having a Sunday afternoon that involves a leisurely stroll, a small nap under a tree, a slight breeze and a nearby street performer to coax you into ultimate relaxation mode.

Enjoy this video I captured of Charlie Cox, a long-time street performer at Hancock Park in Los Angeles near the Natural History Museum and The La Brea Tar Pits. If you’re lucky enough to catch him, make sure to ask him about his time performing, his days in the service and be sure to exchange kind words with him.

When missing your flight has its perks

Stupidly, I missed my flight to Portland this morning. I scolded myself for a few hours before giving up and heading back to the apartment in Chicago. Instead of staying mad at myself for the rest of the day, I decided to seize it! What better to cure a flight-missing than a nice Sunday Brunch in Chicago?

I’m staying in Logan Square in Chicago’s north side. I’m only about 15 minutes from the Blue Line (that will quickly take me to O’Hare International for whenever I get the urge to jump on a plane). After punishing myself by lugging my huge 65 litre backpack and laptop back 2 miles to the apartment, some cheering up was in order.

This is what my ideal Sunday brunch looks like:

Carne asada y carnitas tacos, platanos y cebollitas - YUM!

Hey, maybe I should miss my flight to Portland more often. In any case, I was a little bummed out about not going anywhere today as I planned. But it turns out, I DID go somewhere- To Mexico! (Or so the sign at El Cid said):

South of the border

Yes, missing my flight this morning did suck. But it did give me a day to explore a new favorite restaurant, have a delicious brunch with my friend, and appreciate home for one more day.

Photo by author

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If you want to visit El Cid (and you should!) it’s located at 2645 N. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Sit outside, you won’t regret it!

PDX: Show me what you got

I’ve been waiting to visit Portland for a number of years now and I can finally say, without further ado, that tomorrow is the day my dreams come true! SO awesome!

I will be Couchsurfing for about 4 days and in that time hope to discover at least a hair of what this city’s about. Maybe I’ll fall in love with it. I’m pretty sure I will.

Totally ready to tame this beast:

Public transit. Always. Courtesy TriMet

I definitely want to check out all of the hype around the different food trucks. I’ve been working in the restaurant biz for years,and Portland’s food trucks are all I hear about. Portland this, food truck that. Alright, I get it! I’m going to witness it first hand.

Next is the Voodoo Donut Shop, a place that the Food Network and Travel Channel has made me salivate over for years. As the saying goes, The Magic IS in the Hole!

I’m also going to be in microbrewed beer heaven. I thought I found that in Philadelphia, but, alas, Portland is where it’s at. I can’t wait to down some unique brews!

Fancy donuts, awesome street food and microbrews everywhere? Portland, I might just love you. 

Photo of the day: Hoarding of Boarding Passes

All of my boarding passes- accumulated from January-March 2012

Since January 23rd to March 9th, I took off and landed 11times on 8 different trips.

It’s official: 2012 is my RTW trip year

After much internal debating (Mainly of where to go, not whether or not I was going to go), I’ve officially embarked on my Round the World (RTW) trip.

I’ve read Bootsnall’s articles about  RTW trips, have followed many travel bloggers RTW trips and never thought this was possible for someone like me. I watched television and my heart ached at the thought of Paris and Amsterdam. I knew one day I’d eat Pho on the streets of Thailand and see a howler monkey in the rainforests of Costa Rica. But I never thought my RTW trip would happen so…haphhazzardly.

After I decided to live deliberately, challenging the status quo and going against the grain, I quit my waitressing job and my life in Philadelphia. I was living close to my sister and my friend had just moved to Philly so that we could live together. I felt a bit guilty dropping my life so suddenly, but one day, as it tends to happen, it hit me:  I have savings. I have an insatiable wanderlust. I. have. to. go. NOW!

I started innocently enough in Australia. Big deal, right? It rocked my world. I’m a changed person. I came home craving and wanting more experiences. I stayed a month and enjoyed myself so much, I’ve made the solid decision to stay on the road until my 26th birthday in September.

This picture alone was worth the trip to Oz

I thought I’d come home and work after Australia. But the more I tried to think about what job I would do, I would draw a blank. Go back to school? I wondered, maybe try to get an office job?, hell, maybe I’ll even waitress again. Somehow these all placed second to my desires and the perfect storm of opportunities bestowed upon me.

So after 2 blissful weeks in California, another 4 in Australia and a week of soul-searching in Chicago, I’ve officially decided to keep traveling until I run out and steam. I’m embarking on phase two of my journey this Sunday with some United States destinations I’ve always wanted to see. I fly into Portland to couchsurf, possibly visiting Austin, Texas, flying in Los Angeles at the end of the month to visit a friend, then taking a flight to Hawaii (big island) where I hope to spend the month. After Hawaii, I head to Costa Rica to Helpx on an organic farm (or resort, whichever will take me) and try to spend a month in Latin America (Possible destinations: Peru, Ecuador, Belize, Honduras) to improve my Spanish.

Current mission: find a more beautiful sunset. Wivenhoe Dam, Australia

From Latin America, I’ll fly to Japan, hit up S.E. Asia for a month and finish with a tour through Europe via Eurorail Pass.

Phew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. My newly acquired passport will need more pages sooner than I thought!

How can I possibly have that many savings? you may wonder. Good question. I don’t. I’m going to be couchsurfing, working in exchange for room and board, sleeping in tents in volunteer situations, staying in budget hostels, you name it. Wherever I lay my hat will be home. I could literally die from excitement. Where will I end up? Who will I meet? It’s almost too good to think about.

I hope you all will join me on my adventures by following along. I surprised even myself with this decision, but I just can’t bear to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I sincerely hope you, like me, hold on for the ride. It’s gonna be sweet. 

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This post, and this entire trip and my changed lifestyle, is inspired by all of you readers, all of the people I practically stalk for inspiration and information on Twitter, Matador Network for changing my life by watching one video about the Cook Islands, BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Manifesto, Couchsurfing, Helpx, my free-spirited friends, my ever-supportive family, hippie love and that wild, wacky & wonderful wanderlust.