I’ve been traveling full-time for almost eight months.
I’m humbled by all the experiences I’ve had. This has been the best year of my life in so many ways. My mind’s been opened to the big wild world, and it’s love, my friends.
Couchsurfing around the world, camping on remote beaches and calling wherever I lay my hat my home has been the name of the game this year. But the time has come for me to go out and get me one of those J-O-Bs!
I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively this year, taking time off from the grind to really concentrate on the next chapter of my life. As I went, I was able to scope out different living situations so that at the end of my year I could pick somewhere to live and settle in for a while.
From Philly, to Chicago, out west to L.A., San Francisco, Northern California, out to Australia and back, Portland and then Hawaii, I’ve seen a lot of places I’d love to call home for a while for a variety of reasons.
But nothing was as special as Hawaii.
Like a good love, the islands swept me off my feet. I came and could hardly bare the thought of leaving right away to continue on my round-the-world trip. Coming here for a 2 week trip turned into a four-month travel-venture that leaves me wanting more.
After living in the rainforest for four months on east side of Big Island in Hawaii, I’m ready for an upgrade of awesomeness. My next chapter has me going back to the mainland to sell off some final things I left behind this year and transplant myself in Maui. The scene is burgeoning, the food is good and the jobs a lot more plentiful than Big Island.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to the islands. In fact, I just arrived. I’m stoked to see where my future lies here. I’ll continue to travel as much as possible.
I’m definitely not ready to hang up the old hat. Not yet. There’s just too much good world to take in. But for now, I’m going to stay on island time.
I”m not shy about giving out details about my personal budget, because, believe it or not, just like you, I had to work for my money. I still work for money and I will continue to work for money.
So many people have it wrong. It’s not all about the money. Admittedly, I drained my bank account in order to finance my traveling lifestyle. Sure, I’ve created many a marvelous memory by not working and spending money, but that’s not the only cost to consider when choosing a traveling lifestyle. The other costs include:
1. Physical- This year alone, I’ve done so much flying that I’m exhausted. I’m truly suffering from burn out. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t enjoy flying off to new places, emerging from the plane bright eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure, but it leaves your body physically exhausted. Jet lag is a serious concern. When I left Australia earlier this year, ready to engage in a 4 flight, 23 hour fly-a-thon back to the U.S., I left on Wednesday morning, February 29th, leap year, traveled for 24 hours straight and landed in L.A. Wednesday morning, February 29th. Believe me when I say it took WEEKS for my body to adjust to THAT time travel!
My good friend the flight attendant is constantly on the go as well. One time I asked her what day it really is for her because of all of her traveling and time zone differences. She opted for “no comment,” saying that trying to figure that out would drive her insane. It would drive anyone insane!
The road burns your body out. Toting a 50 pound backpack after a shitty night’s sleep in a hostel isn’t for the faint of heart. Trying to sleep when others are partying is even worse. I combat this by trying to maintain a relatively normal sleep schedule (by normal I mean at LEAST seven hours/24 hour period), eating healthy and maintaining a healthy attitude.
2. Emotional- I’ve gotten good, I mean REALLY good at saying goodbye. That doesn’t mean I like to say goodbye, but I have to force myself in order to move on. Luckily it’s not goodbye, just see you later. Part of my goals when traveling the world have been to create contacts all over the world. As I start on that goal, I often grow close to and have to say goodbye to many people that I love. I love their generosity, their kind hearts, their laugh and their unique life perspectives.
I also have to deal with feelings of homesickness. Like every traveler on the road, the pangs of homesickness haunt you when you least expect it. You miss birthdays, graduation parties, engagement schindigs, holidays, you name it: any occasion where the family gets together to make mirth and merriment, it seems you’re sleeping in a tent 3,000 miles away. These are the sacrifices we make.
3. Mental- It’s no secret travel changes you. I’m dealing with this right now. I’m trying to hash out how my life goal’s have changed, how everything I’ve been spoon-fed growing up doesn’t exactly jive with my old interests, nowthat I’ve seen how other people live successful, happy lives alternate to the “American Dream.” I am dealing with how these differences are changing me as a person, how to reconnect with others who still might subscribe to my “old way” (not wrong, by any means, just confusing and different), and trying to explain my “gypsy” lifestyle to my parents. It’s an on-going struggle. I have to be an ambassador for my life’s decisions. If I won’t stand up for me, who will?
As a good friend told me, luckily you don’t have to figure it all out today, or tomorrow. The questions I’ve been asking myself are some huge, philosophical, transcendental questions about life, questions people don’t often ask themselves until their midlife crises. Thinking and obsessing over my observations and how they will manifest themselves in my future is unhealthy mentally. I am prepared to think of life as a mysterious journey, and although I can’t possibly perceive my future right now, I think that through travel, my future will be a brighter place. Growing pains.
I will leave you with an Anthony Bourdain quote, one that describes how I’m feeling in this moment. Just because you can’t strike gold every daywhile blazing the trail:
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
— Anthony Bourdain
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.
After much internal debating (Mainly of where to go, not whether or not I was going to go), I’ve officially embarked on myRound 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.
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.
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.
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 onTwitter, 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.
I left my heart in California. It delivers every time. The day before I left Los Angeles to head north toward San Francisco, my friend Marjie and I spent the day discovering Long Beach, specifically the area of Seal Beach.
The photos are so nice, I’ll let them do most of the story-telling:
It took us exactly 2 buses and 3 metro lines to get to Seal Beach from Downtown Hollywood, our total travel time being 2 hours. You might like to take a car instead if possible. We also got lost right outside of Compton when we transferred trains too early, heading to an imposter Long Beach stop.
Finally we made it to Downtown Seal Beach, a cute, hippie-like beach town.
We walked for a bit, encountered some cute little shops, gardens and restaurants, mostly just happy to be off the damn bus!
Hungry, we walked around looking for cheap and affordable Mexican food. Not that that’s hard to find in California. *Sigh* First, though, we found this hippie-lovin’ tree. *Another sigh*
Lunch was at Taco Surf where the incredible happy hour special (2-6 p.m.!) was $1 tacos and $2 drafts of Pacifico and Dos xx. Lunch for the two of us (fish tacos, carnitas, a few beers) was only $11! Can’t beat that!
After filling our stomachs and getting a nice little buzz, we walked toward the sea. It was a chilly day, but that didn’t stop us. We also anticipated seeing seals, but no luck.
Instead of seals, we did notice some crustaceans and starfish underneath the pier.
Clearly too cold to swim, but still a wonderful and scenic day. Next time, though, we drive.
It’s no secret I’m back in Los Angeles, planning my next big adventure. What better way to recover from jet-lag thatn visiting an LA wonder, the La Brea Tar Pits at Hancock Park? After all, it is a National Natural Landmark.
I had this vision in my head that we’d be sinking in like quicksand, fighting for our lives against the relentless gooey stuff, but nothing of the sort happened. The area has been fenced off to keep animals and humans from falling in and getting killed. Damn, no risk of death? Still a fantastic way to spend a day.
Right next to the George C. Page Museum (which studies and displays animals that have died at the pit), the La Brea Tar Pits are comprised of of crude oil that seeps up from the 6th Street Fault from the Salt Lake Oil Field. The oil reaches the surface, bubbling and eventually becoming asphalt, sometimes trapping animals. Observe the trapped Woollymammoth.
Notice the asphalt forming at the top. The smell almost transports you to sitting in traffic while a highway is being paved.
Apparently the asphalt works to preserve animals fossils quite nicely. If you take a walk around and observe the different pits, you’ll notice only Pit 91 is still open for live fossil escavations. Talk about a killer Sunday.
I’ve been to L.A. once, very briefly to score a Hollywood T-Shirt for my friend’s suvenir on the way to LAX airport. It was hot, congested, those two things together rarely a good thing. I didn’t have a favorable first impression of the city of Angels.
I’m loving California life. The more I explore this place, the more awesome it becomes.
1. People are really…nice: You thought I was going to say weird, didn’t you? Nah, everybody’s weird. But these weird people are nice. They’re the kind of people that will blindly let you cut across 6 lanes of traffic because you’re about to miss your exit. Note to self: Never mistake stupidity for nice. Just kidding, just kidding. Everyone I’ve met has been hospitable, kind, fun, adventurous, liberal, artistic and passionate. Maybe I instantly fell into the right circle because I’m here visiting a friend, but even grocery store workers, the cashier at the local trattoria and even Santa Monica’s “Downtown Ambassador” (who tried to bust my friends and I street performing an impromtu version of Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’ with a ukelee) are the downright most open and friendly people. I guess I haven’t had the ill fortune of hanging around “Hollywood celebrity types” yet.
2. I could die for the scenery: Don’t let anyone fool you, the hollywood “hills” are pretty ginormous mountains! Treacherous ones. Ones that kick ass to hike. I’ve hiked through Runyon Canyon, practically passed out from heat and exhaustion, but kept going for the views alone. The views of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, The Pacific, everything right there is like a smorgeousboard of gluttony, excess and access, grime and glitter. Venice Beach and Santa Monica beaches are incredible, but nothing beat the shores of Malibu. At Leo Carrillo State Beach just north of Malibu on US 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Walking on the stony rocks and exploring the cavernous enclaves during low tide was damn near a religious experience.
3. Fit for foodies: I’m a sucker for cheap, great Mexican food. Luckily I’ve come to the land of the taqueria, where the diablo beckons me daily with the promise of tomatillo and cilantro salsa to slather on my torta. Pho is available 24/7. I’ve died and went to Thai food heaven. A local blog, Backyard Bite, examines all the neighborhood gems in L.A. just waiting to be discovered. So get out there and start looking!
4. Places like the Museum of Death exist: Where else could you score a sweet afternoon like this? They didn’t allow any pictures inside, but rest assured the $15 entry fee was worth every minute walking through “Executioner’s Row” and “Suicide Hallway.”
5. Entertainment is still alive and well: People here still go to the theater. Stand-up comedians and musicians roll through town on the regular. The radio stations out here rock and there is just so many things to do here.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on more specific locations in Los Angeles I visited as well as my trip up north to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district and the Sonoma County Redwoods.