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

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

My Guide for Moving to Dublin

IMG_4667LADIES AND GENTS, WE MADE IT.

I was waiting to write this post until I had officially settled in and got my footing in the area. Mainly, I wanted to at least have a place to live  before I wrote this, and I am happy to report that I do!!

So here you have it! These are my tips and tricks to moving to Dublin and surviving at least two weeks because that’s all I’ve done so far.

 

 

Get yourself a visa

If you’re from the U.S. like myself, you’ll need a visa to live and work in Ireland. Personally, I am on a Working Holiday Authorisation. This is the visa I’ve been using everywhere I decide to live.

If you are between the ages of 18-30 and are a student or are within 12 months of receiving your degree, you can qualify for this visa. A WHA will allow you to live in Ireland for 12 months while working to support your travels.  Not a bad deal, right?

Ireland is a bit old school, so the process to obtain this visa can be a bit of a hassle. There are two stages for the application, all of which must be filled out in pen and paper and cannot be done online (Yeah… try getting used to that after coming off of being approved for an Australian working holiday in 15 minutes online.)

The first stage will require a filled out application form available on the Consulate’s website, proof of being enrolled in a university or proof of having graduated within the past 12 months (you need original documents such as original transcripts or your degree), a copy of your passport, proof of supporting funds (about 4000 euro I believe), 2 passport sized photos, a copy of your CV, and a processing fee of about $350 depending on where your Consulate is located.

Once you have shipped off all your documents in a neat little package to your designated consulate, you should receive an email in a few weeks time saying if you’ve been approved. Mine took about 3 weeks, but the website says up to 8 weeks so always leave room for delays.

If you’ve been approved, you’re ready to send off Stage 2. This is when you’ll send in your arrival and departure tickets (it doesn’t have to be to go back home- and considering you can’t book flights that far in advance, I wouldn’t. Personally, I bought a nice holiday to London in August as proof of my leaving.), proof of health insurance that covers you for your duration in Ireland, and your physical passport. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sending everything as far in advance as possible. Your girl received her passport the day before she flew out and I am truly just trying to save you a heart attack. 

Once you’ve done all of that, the Consulate will mail back your passport to you and your WHA! Congrats, you’re ready to go!

Sort out your accommodation before you arrive. 

Some of you may or may not know that Dublin is in the middle of a housing crisis, meaning its wildly difficult to find somewhere to live. But don’t you fret, I’ve got you covered!

Having already moved to a different country in the past, I had a better idea of timelines for finding a place to live in a city where housing is impossible. I gave myself two weeks of non-stop searching. This means that house-hunting has to become your full-time job, which also means you shouldn’t expect to work in this time (that’s why we save!). Book yourself an airbnb close to where you’ll be searching for apartments, or a hostel. I actually recommend the latter- I did it in Australia and met my absolute best friend who later became my roommate that way! I did an airbnb in Dublin and although it was much more comfortable, I did feel a bit isolated and like I would have had an easier time making friends at a hostel.

Once you’ve chosen where you’ll stay for the first two weeks, wait until you arrive (trust me, do not try and lock in an apartment without seeing it first) and begin the hunt. I used rent.ie and daft.ie. To be completely honest, if you’re doing this solo, I highly suggest looking into shared houses/rooms. It will be much more affordable and much easier to find somewhere to stay. Plus, you’re bound to start making friends. If that’s not your cup of tea but you’re on a budget, I would also recommend looking into different cities such as Cork for more affordable pricing. Unfortunately, the farther away you are from Dublin, the easier it will be to find an affordable place to live.

The reason I say his becomes a full-time job is because the only way you’ll be able to get a leg up from the thousands of other people trying to find housing is if you are available when they are not, a.k.a. when they’re at work. If someone emails you for a viewing, you’ll have a much easier time accommodating to their schedule if yours is completely free.

My biggest tip is this: do not settle. If something doesn’t feel right, or if you don’t like the location/people/room, don’t jump into it because you think its the only thing you can get! Just say “thank you very much, I have a few more places to look at but I’ll get back to you as soon as I have made a decision”. Many people will try to rush you by saying other people are looking at it, but that doesn’t matter. What is for you will not pass you. Go with your gut. After all, you’re trying to find a home very far away from yours, so make sure it feels like one.

Start attempting to book a GNIB appointment either before or as soon as you land. 

Man oh man. This was a TOUGHY. Within 90 days of your entry to Ireland, you must register with the Guarda in your area, or you will be asked to leave the country. They will emphasize this at the airport when you go through customs. And if you’re like me and haven’t even begun trying to book an appointment, get ready for the death glare that the immigration officer will give you.

As I mentioned before, Ireland is old school. You can book your GNIB appointment online, but you will have to attend in person. Here’s where it gets tricky: the Guarda in Dublin is always booked up 3 months in advance. Meaning if you are in the situation I was in, the chances of you being able to get an appointment before your 90 days are up rely on the possibility of someone cancelling their appointment and you being on the website refreshing the page (again) the MILLISECOND that they do before it gets snatched up by a fellow procrastinator.

This sounds like a lost cause, right? Well lucky for us, even though the GNIB office is stuck in the dark ages, we have technology on our side. If you google “Google Chrome GNIB extension” you will come across your new best friend. You can thank me later.

Using that extension, I was able to book an appointment in 5 days. I mentioned this at a job interview and jaws literally hit the floor.

When you arrive for your appointment, you must present your passport, WHA,  and $300 EUR. Gotta love those fees.

Make sure you buy a leap card and an Irish SIM on your first day.

There is not a single thing you can do without these (especially if you’re staying outside the city). The Leap card allows you to access all forms of transportation. Now, you can get around by taxi or pay for the bus in cash, but this will be so much more convenient as it also allows you to access the DART (train system), and the trams within the city. It’s the Irish equivalent to a MetroCard, Oyster Card, Myki, Opal, etc. You can find these at any SPAR or anywhere that has a Leap sign in front of it.

As for an Irish SIM, feel free to shop around with deals. The more popular ones would be Vodafone or 3, but I went ahead with Tesco Mobile and was very happy with my deal. A pay as you go plan would be my recommendation.

Find a job.

This is something else that you will come to find is a full-time situation. My best friend for my first few weeks was indeed.com.

This can be very tough so some tips I have for you would be first and foremost to have an Irish friend look over your CV. Every country’s employers vary on what format they prefer. You may find that your CV might need to be revamped before sending it out. I would also look at cover letter templates for your country, as these can vary as well.

If you’ve uprooted your life and moved to a different country with no job prospects previously in place, then you already should have prepared yourself to do literally anything that is available. This could mean waitressing, being a barista, administrative assistant, working at a call-centre, etc. Take whatever you can get, because at the end of the day its just meant to be funding what you’re really here for: travel.

Obtain a PPS number.

A PPS number is the one thing that stands between you and 40% of your check going to taxes, so ideally you would want to get this before you start getting paid. Here’s the catch: you can only register to get a PPS appointment once you are able to present evidence of a job offer and proof of address.

My advice is as soon as you’ve been hired, ask your employer for an official job offer letter and try to book an appointment straight away. If possible, also try and delay your start date by a few weeks to give yourself some time. That is, unless you don’t mind losing out on nearly half your check.

Open a bank account.

You cannot open a bank account without presenting your passport and proof of address. This means you won’t be able to open an account until you have found a place to live. If your bills are in your landlord’s name,  then you can present your PPS number, or if your employer has an account with that bank, then they can write a letter on your behalf (see bank for more details on this).

The most popular banks in Dublin would be either AIB or Bank of Ireland. I couldn’t see much difference between the two, however I read about some people having issues with Bank of Ireland so I went for AIB.

HAVE FUN!

You did it! You are officially settled into your Working Holiday. But remember: it’s a working HOLIDAY. This means make sure you set some time aside to explore this beautiful country as well as its neighboring countries (especially considering how affordable it is to do so!).

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To get to know the city better and also make a few friends along the way, I would recommend being a complete tourist in those first few weeks before you begin working. Do a few free walking tours, visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells, visit the Kilmainham Goal museum, walk along Grafton Street and around Temple Bar, visit the Guinness and Jameson factories, maybe even splurge on a tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher! Do all of the “cringy” tourist things and get your selfies. You are here on holiday, after all.

I hope this helped you guys! As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all. I’m so excited to continue sharing my experience with you all as the year goes on.

Happy Holidays & Safe Travels!

Stay kind x

Things I Learned While Hiring my Replacement

Recently I was asked what it is that I look for in a boss. Well, I look for someone who respects their employees, acknowledges their passion for what they do, and values their knowledge of their role within a company. My current employer is all of these things and so much more, and so when she asked me if I wanted to participate in interviewing candidates to fill my position once I left, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ve been speaking to a few of my friends who are currently on the job hunt, and many have become so discouraged as they face one rejection after another. Believe me I’ve been there, sending out CV after CV wondering if my degree even means anything. But this was the first time I’ve been on the other side of the interviewing table, and there were a few things that stood out to me that I wanted to highlight.

Everyone is really freaking impressive.

I shit you not. If you’ve been selected to go on to the interviewing stage, pat yourself on the back. The people I interviewed were beyond talented and very qualified for the job, to the point where I was questioning my own qualifications to even be interviewing them. During the screening process, this made it even harder to where we legitimately had to ask almost all of them back for a second interview. As you can tell, I’m really bad at screening.

Interview questions MAKE or BREAK YOU.

As I mentioned before, everyone is so dang impressive. So as an interviewer for a position, you have to find a way to narrow the candidates down. Considering everyone’s answers to my screening questions were so fantastic, I had to make it tougher on the second round. The second I turned up the heat, I knew candidates who had gone through interviews before and handled my questions with ease, and others who were a little more out of practice.

One thing to keep in mind: given that I am so passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, I read up on unconscious bias during interviews before interviewing these candidates and found out that if a hiring professional feels a sense of familiarity with the candidate (ex. similar interests to the person hiring, or someone they know), then they will automatically have an unconscious bias and may ask questions that they forget to ask other candidates, which doesn’t give candidates a fair playing field because someone else might have shined in that particular response if they had received that question. So next time you face a rejection, know that it might not have even been something you said, but maybe something you didn’t get the chance to say.

Don’t be afraid to admit you’re flawed.

Don’t know something about the job? Admit it. Don’t understand a certain term that was used in a question? Ask about it. Unaware of how you’d handle a certain obstacle presented in a situational question? Just say so! You do not currently hold this position. Therefore, there are certain things that you will not intuitively know how to handle just yet. That’s okay! Its not about how quick you are to make something up on the fly. Its about your willingness to learn from you superior or your predecessor, and how ready you are to ask for help when you need it.

One of my questions asked candidates to tell me about a time they were faced with one of their unconscious biases and what they learned from it. I prefaced this with saying that the question was not aimed to have a racially fueled response, but it was okay if that was how they chose to answer it. Some examples I gave them were “Maybe you were walking down the street one night and crossed because you saw a man walking your way; or maybe you were on a plane and felt your ride might be smoother or more turbulent because you realized a woman was the head pilot.”

Many candidates impressed me with their responses, but one candidate truly stood out to me. She insisted she had never had an unconscious bias. This surprised me because she was very knowledgeable about Diversity and Inclusion, , but this answer did not reflect that knowledge. I asked her to reflect a little longer (because it is only human nature to have unconscious biases. Its inevitable). She continued to insist that she did not have any and we moved on.

The reason this was not the ideal answer is because I wanted to find someone who knew they were flawed, able to recognize where it was that they fell short, and find out whether or not they were able to learn something from the experience. Someone who is knowledgeable about themselves in this way and is knowledgable about Diversity and Inclusion is not someone who never has any biases towards any group. Its someone who is able to recognize those biases, catch themselves when they are acting on them, and is willing to relearn what is so deeply ingrained in them to where is has become unconscious.

“You can teach skills, but you can’t teach someone to be a culture fit.”- The Best Boss Ever. 

This is something that my employer put into my head on multiple occasions, and I think its the best thing she has ever taught me.

When I first got my current job, I had known Melbourne a grand total of one week. And now, I was being asked to show people from different countries around this city and answer all of their questions about it. Needless to say, I spent that first week with my phone charged at 100% so that I can google any question that came flying my way. (February arrivals, you hold a special place in my heart for dealing with me and loving me anyways.) In addition to that, my degree was not in this field, I knew what it entailed only on a very superficial level, and I just had really big dreams and high hopes. I was hired.

At the end of the day, I go into every interview being true to myself. Like I mentioned in my last post, if you want to work somewhere where you are paid to be yourself, you have to just be yourself. Its hard! I know! Because that means if you are rejected, its not just your resume they’re dissing anymore. But know that if this job follows your truth, people will want to hire you because you are the job. For me, I need to work somewhere where I walk in and its not just an office, its home; and my family is waiting for me in there.

Hiring is not easy.

Not just for the person being interviewed, but for the interviewer as well. For me, it was like finding another mom to hand my children off to so that I can have peace of mind that they’ll be okay. Ask your mom how she’d feel about that. Yeah, not easy.

Everyone is so incredible, and can bring so much to any office. The question at the end of the day is what can the office bring to you. In order for there to be a successful placement, the person being hired needs to feel six months down the road that they are getting just as much out of this job as they are putting into it, and sometimes more. So maybe your last rejection wasn’t even about your answers, or your qualifications. Maybe you wouldn’t have gotten as much out of the position as you were able to put into it.

At the end of two weeks, we found my perfect replacement, and somehow my relationship with my boss grew even stronger through it. I was able to see how much she really valued everything I gave to the company over the past 6 months, and how much she cared for me not just as an employee, but as a member of the family. I would highly encourage any higher-up to allow their employee to get a say in their replacement if you want to show them how much they are valued.

I’ll save my goodbyes for next week, but for now I’ll just say this: Pip, thank you so much for taking a chance on a girl with big eyes and bigger dreams. I will never be able to put into words all you have done for me, taught me, and given me. You truly are superwoman, sunshine, and above all else, my mentor and role model. I hope I can be for someone else half the person you are for our entire team. Keep being the strong, empowered, inspiring boss lady you are. 

Good luck to my TIG Aus Fam, and your new, wonderful Experience Coordinator. Continue to change lives the way you did mine and so many others. And remember, its not goodbye, its see you later.

Stay kind x