A Letter to a Solo Traveler

Dear Solo Traveler,

Life? It can and should be messy. Nothing about it should go “your way” or “according to plan”- or at least never how you originally planned it. And traveling? Well that shit should just amplify everything.

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Not everyone understands your vision. Or if you’re me, no one does. Unless they’re living it, but even then, everyone’s autobiography is being written a little differently. So if you want something, if you have a dream about the kind of life you want to reminisce on someday, then do everything it takes to achieve that life. You will get yelled at. You will be told that you’re crazy, or “lost”, or need to “live in the real world”. But this is the real world. Perhaps even more so than the one that your critic is living in. Others can’t see what you’re seeing. Don’t get angry with others who don’t understand. 

If you’ve been left to fend for yourself by those whose dreams you’ve supported in the past, anger isn’t the answer here either. They, too, are misunderstanding your vision- your vision of who you are. They are taking you for granted, when you are so clearly not one to disregard. They will understand when they see the levels you rose to when they had their back turned, and in the blink of an eye, you learned how to shine. Let that speak for itself, but don’t seek their validation. Do not look for revenge. Stay kind.

That’s the other thing: stay kind, my love. I always say this, but its moments like these, when you’ve been discouraged by the very people you most needed to encourage you, that become an opportunity to prove it. Prove to yourself that even in the face of adversity, you rise above. You lift yourself up. You show love, compassion. You are kind.

You are tired, but you are not exhausted. This is an uphill battle, but you are a warrior.

Keep going.

Stay kind x

My 30 Day Social Media Detox

New Year means new beginnings, and another year of resolutions that (if you’re anything like me), you will mostly forget for the year and complete them as a happy accident (I’m looking at you 2018 resolutions).

This year, I did many of my standard resolutions like how many countries I want to see, the language course I want to complete (and have been saying I’d complete for 5 years),  SKYDIVING (another one I’ve been saying I’d complete forever), and overall just being happy and learning to be more accepting of myself, my circumstances, and anything that comes my way.

But here’s where I decided to switch it up: I decided that in addition to a resolution, I wanted to challenge myself in this new year. I’m sure I’m not the only human being that has woken up on New Year’s day cringing over the snapchat/insta story of you screaming the lyrics to Piano Man on a stage at a pub. No? Just me?  In any case, this caused me to begin to reflect on how much I use social media.

Given that I am trying to be more mindful this year as well, I asked myself why it is that this was such a large part of my day. My routine was wake up, check the likes on my last post, check who viewed my story, watch other people’s stories. Public Transport? Oh well, time to scroll through twitter. Sight seeing? Have to snapchat that. Feeling awkward? Let’s see who else got engaged over the holidays on Facebook.

I came to the conclusion that what I’m trying to do through my social media usage is involuntarily compare myself to others, and then consistently post and check who saw it for validation. When you’re that brutally honest with yourself, you know it’s time for a change. What better time to do that than the first month of 2019, while I’m living and exploring a beautiful city that deserves my full attention.

I’ve highlighted a few key moments for you guys below of how this experience felt for me.

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Day 1: The morning was great considering I felt like I had so much time in the morning to get shit done now that I wasn’t spending an hour on my phone. I used that time to actually put on some make-up (I KNOW. SHOCK HORROR.), and was immediately hit with the reality that I couldn’t snapchat my make-up guru sister for her approval. Here we go.

Day 2:  I was hit with the urge to check who had replied to my story announcing my disappearance from all forms of social media. (VALIDATION HOW ARE YOU!) Thank goodness I FaceTimed my sister so she could talk me down from it.

Day 3: Realized that I need to promote my blog somehow. Shout out if you got here through the ever so loyal Sasha, or Katie, or anyone else who helped me out during my detox!

Day 8: Y’all, I think this was rockbottom. I was in desperate need of a rant. Everyone has heard me talk about the struggles of time differences, but the larger struggle here was the person I wanted to rant about lives right next door to me. All I wanted was to hop on social media and tweet about it, or put it on my finsta. Instead, I resorted to faking a phone call on the street and just talking as if my good friend was actually on the line. I KNOW. I’M LOSING IT. 

Day 13: Met a cute boy. He asked to add me on Snapchat. I didn’t want to sound too complicated right from the get go, so I told him I don’t really use it. Then he asked for my FaceBook or Instagram. Cover blown. Had to explain the whole situation. He labelled me as a “New Year’s Resolution Hippy”. We’re doing great.

Day 20: Had the world’s most perfect day exploring the city, and- HERE COMES THE SHOCKER- I had no desire to put it on any social media! Not once! My phone even died and I whipped out my book and read at a cafe with no care in the world. This could be a turning point.

Day 22: My sister’s birthday. It was so so so hard not to hop on and make a quick birthday post, but for now, a well written text, a phone call, and a Venmo will have to suffice.

Day 30: Y’ALL MY FREAKING PHONE KICKED THE BUCKET OUT OF NOWHERE. DOES THIS MEAN I’M NOT MEANT TO GO BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA??

Overall, I think this experiment taught me so much about myself. I would compare it to teaching a baby how to self-soothe (yes. I did just compare myself to an infant.). I would also say that an incredible thing to come from this was how much more I was able to connect with my loved ones. It was so wonderful to have to FaceTime, or text, or catch up in person to know what’s going on. Our conversations were filled with stories that were new to all of us, because we couldn’t say we had seen it on social media.

At the same time, I don’t think that social media has to be the devil. I realized that I also use social media as an outlet and a way for me to voice my accomplishments, frustrations, successes, and failures. Sometimes, when you live a life like mine with lots of alone time, it’s nice to be able to voice everything you’re feeling in hopes that literally anyone might listen. Just as long as you don’t place value on whether or not someone does.

Did I miss it as much as I thought I would? Not really. Am I happy to be back? Well, I’m neutral. I definitely think my usage will be cut drastically, but I don’t think I’m ready to go offline for good.

The lesson: You are more thank your likes and DM’s, and the only person you have to prove that to is yourself.

Stay kind x

 

 

Top 15 Craziest Shit I’ve Done While Traveling

It’s time to get REALLLLL. (I’m sorry, Mom.)

The second you jet off to go live a life abroad, everyone thinks you’re living a boujee, glamorous, insta-worthy life of no struggle and all adventure. And I’ll be honest- I sure make it seem that way on my social media. Since the beginning of my adventures, I’ve had so many people reach out to me asking me how I do it because they want to pursue this life themselves. I started thinking about it and just thought it would be completely unfair of me to not be real with them and warn them exactly what they’re signing up for.

Before you read this list, let me warn you: this is not “cute” crazy. Like, this isn’t “oh my gosh I went skydiving in New Zealand with a complete stranger strapped to me” crazy. This is messy, reallllll, crazy shit that I have done to either keep traveling, survive while traveling, or just because traveling got the best of me. Okay great, let’s go!

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  1. Just embraced the fact that I have had TWO airplanes fall out of the sky because I traveled on the sketchiest airlines just because they were the cheapest. Y’all. I’m not kidding. This wasn’t a bit of turbulence. This was my ass waking up from a deep(ish) sleep, to it not being on the seat anymore and me seeing the numbers on the “altitude” part of the screen in front of me just dropping. Is my life really worth saving money by purchasing an $89 flight? Yeah, probs.
  2. Went the Eastern route instead of the Western route while flying to Australia from New York. Yeah, a 16 hour flight, 2 hour layover in China, and right back on to a 10 hour flight. But again, saving that cash monaaaay honaaay.
  3. Survived on a diet of oatmeal, chocolate, and $5 wine for 5 weeks. I literally spent every cent I had on the visa, the internship program, and my last minute flights (thank you British Consulate of New York), so London was a toughie but we did THAT.
  4. Considered taking an airbnb that was literally tents in someone’s shed. I wish I was kidding. Thank GOD I had a loyal ass friend who forbid me from doing it, but those airbnb prices for Hogmanay in Scotland were that scary.
  5. Speaking of Scotland, brought my own bagels, peanut butter, and jelly to eat for every meal. Made a few exceptions because I definitely wanted to try a boozy milkshake and some haggis, but again. She. Did. THAT.
  6. Took a job as a door-to-door salesperson selling solar panels. What’s good Australia? Plus side: found out I’m good with sales and made good money. Also got all my steps in (and then some) for a while. Down side: v-dangerous and ended up dealing with the police because of it. Let’s not do that again.
  7. Ate Oreos for breakfast every day for a week. Honestly, this one wasn’t even that bad. And I was in Bali so who can really even complain.
  8. Walked 1.5 hours in the heat because I didn’t have cell service to call a ride. Bali did me dirty here. The only way to get around really is by GoJek which is an app on your phone that has drivers pick you up on their scooter (think uber but for scooters instead of cars) (not sponsored. I wish). I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere, and no idea how to get home, other than knowing it was a 30 minute SCOOTER ride there. Luckily, I made it on to the main road JUST before dark and got some cell service to call a ride. Which leads me to…
  9. Accepted a ride from a complete stranger with three other people on a scooter. This guy seriously had a whole ass family on there. But desperate times…
  10. Bought shots for group of strangers I had just met, and then had to survive on $0.65 for two weeks. Okay, but doesn’t everyone do this at some point?
  11. Asked boys on tinder to listen to my work presentation so I could practice it. When you travel solo and time differences are not in your favor, you’ve got to use your resources.
  12. Speaking of boys, went on a first-date binge for 2 weeks so that I could at least have one free meal a day. Not terribly proud of this one, but hey, I’m being honest.
  13. Lived out of the storage room at the cafe I work at. This was as I was low key moving out of the house I was in without anyone noticing because I hadn’t told them yet, and when my hostel was available. Shoutout to my boss for being the MVP.
  14. Went grocery shopping at ALDI for a week’s worth of groceries with 2 euro. AND SUCCEEDED. I’m putting this one on my CV as a special skill.
  15.  I continue to travel. I had a moment today where I realized how damn proud I am of all that I’ve done, how much I’ve hustled and struggled and all I’ve given up to keep going, and yet succeeded in chasing my dreams, and just how determined I am to not give up. Don’t get me wrong- there have been several crossroads where I had to decide if it was too much or if I should keep going. And this is the craziest of them all because no matter how hard it gets, I refuse to quit.

So yeah, this life is definitely amazing, inspirational, incredible, shake your heart, soul, and core fantastic. I have gained so much and have had so many wins on this journey. But its definitely not for the weak of heart. At the end of the day, just like everything in life, it all comes down to how much do you want it, and how willing are you to prove it?

Stay kind x

Eat, Pray….. Love?

DISCLAIMER: I’d like to mention that these are all my own thoughts based on my experiences and what I’ve made of my situation, and I am simply trying to express those thoughts. In no way do I intend to sway anyone or discredit anyone else’s experiences. LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE BB.

“No, mom. I am going on this trip for me, for my own personal growth. I am going to be an independent person. I don’t care if they have an accent. I’m not looking for a relationship while I’m abroad.” FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS.

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Every time I jet off, I set out with the mind set of preparing for so much growth and introspection, and basically some Eat, Pray, Love shit with a lot more of the eating and praying, and not caring for the love nonsense.

What I quickly came to learn, however, is that when you forgo just having the occasional holiday and exchange it for moving country to country, your personal growth journey becomes less selfish and more about making connections with as many human beings on this planet as you can; or at least mine did. This desire to connect is what brought me to my job, brought me many rich conversations, and brought me to my truth. It just gets tricky when a connection turns out to be much deeper than you originally intended.

I think travel has changed the way I think about love. It’s taught me that just because something is temporary, it doesn’t make it any less meaningful. Its never pointless to at least try something, because I think its better to live with an “I tried” instead of a “what if…”. I used to think that every romantic relationship I had should be aimed at the long term, but I’ve found that whether that love is scattered over years, or compacted into a few months, its just as impactful. If anything, you learn to cherish every moment because you just never know how long you have, and thats something to take into every relationship, not just abroad.

The perspective I have taken on can be summed up like this: I never lose sight that these adventures are for my own journey to self discovery. I put myself in these situations to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. But I also believe that people always come into your life at specific times for specific reasons, and there is no reason why you should turn your back on that, no matter what circumstances are against you. The universe is presenting you with an opportunity, and if you are committed to this journey, it is your job to explore what that meaningful connection might bring. Yes, this journey is my own, and maybe I can only ever see this person for one date because I’ll be leaving shortly, but they might be here to contribute a piece to this very complicated puzzle.

At the end of the day, I think if you choose to live this life, you should never overthink any decision you make because it just ruins the experience of enjoying something wonderful. Embrace that “I tried” mentality. And above all else, remember: don’t love to receive love. Love because you have enough love to give. 

Stay Kind x