Long Time, No Talk.

I should utilize this blog more. Writing about whatever is going on in my life can be super therapeutic… which is actually what I feel like I need a lot of these days.

Tonight is a particularly sad night for me. As I write this, I am actually meant to be on a plane to Mexico to backpack down Latin America. It was planned out and I was so excited for it… more excited than I’ve ever been for anything in my life. I actually wanted to announce this back in April, but I was going through a lot and it wasn’t the right time.

As you might figure, I am not on a plane right now, rather at my desk at home. About six weeks ago, I came back from LA… around that time, my mom had to go to a heart doctor to check things out. What she found out was not good news. As it turns out her heartbeat is so irregular she actually needs a pacemaker. Normally, it wouldn’t be that big a deal, but the heart doctor is refusing to give her one. I felt guilty planning to be gone so long, not knowing if she would be around that long, so I talked to American Airlines and they are letting me use the balance of the unused ticket toward a future purchase of another ticket so that’s pretty cool of them.

I do feel like I will probably regret not going, but there will be other opportunities. I feel like being here is more important, knowing my family needs me right now.

I have decided to make something of this summer, though, to feel somewhat productive. I’ve just applied for my driver’s licence, taken the knowledge test, and passed. This summer will be spent learning how to drive! My goal is to have my licence by the end of October, and hopefully have my own car by the beginning of the new year. I am wanting to buy myself a used Prius, which would be awesome for potential road trips!

Let Go And Fly

I spent the last 3 weeks in LA and during the last week, I did something I always wanted to do but never thought I’d be brave enough to do. I got my first tattoo. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, every time I went to LA, I would say to the friend I was with, “I am going to get a tattoo! I am not leaving without one.” But every time I would chicken out. This time, I was inspired and I decided to actually commit to it. I am glad I didn’t go through with any of the last ideas I’ve had, because I’m sure I would have regretted it. This time, the timing just felt right and it is so full of meaning at this point in my life, it’s a constant reminder and I know I will never regret it.

629
It’s a paper airplane that writes out “Let go.” The paper airplane obviously represents exploration, launching myself into a new adventure and a new beginning. In Japanese pop culture, they tend to represent freedom, whimsical ideas and youth. I planned to leave the ‘let go’ off, but I changed my mind at the last minute and kept it, and I am glad I did. Looking at the tattoo, it’s like the icing on the cake, it completes the picture. It adds all the more meaning. Right now, I am dealing with a lot of things, ultimately just caring too much and letting things hold me back. I need to let go in order to let myself be happy. In life, there will be things that hurt you. People you love will hurt you, even if it’s not what they intended. There will come a time in which you have to decide to keep holding on, or let go. Chances are, you will have to let go before you can move on and start the next chapter of the journey. It will hurt like hell, but it will be worth it.

The Itch

I was recently asked by a friend why I wanted to travel so much. She didn’t mean it in a descending way, like a hint that I should be home all the time, she was honestly curious as to why I’m choosing the lifestyle I’m choosing. What was the one thing that made me need this life. Honestly, I think it’s in my blood. It’s an itch that’s been there ever since I was little and never really went away, even though most of my life, and even now, I’ve faced a lot of discouragement.

602

I know a huge part of it is the will to do good. I know I won’t be able to save Africa or whatever… I don’t want to save the world, but I do want to change people’s lives for the better. My belief is that no one has the ability to change the world, but everyone has the ability to change the world of one person. All it takes is a little kindness, a single gesture. But why stop at one person? What good is having the ability if you’re not going to at least try and helping all the people you can. Be the change you wish to see in the world, then change the world… one person at a time.

Then, there’s also the will to educate people who don’t travel. Specifically the people who tend to live their whole lives in one country because they’re too scared of the outside world. Living your life in one city is like never leaving your bedroom. Leaving your city but never your country is like never leaving your house. So many people live their lives in fear of what could go wrong, they lose sight of all the good things that could potentially happen. I want to open up people’s minds to help them accept the good, which is a large part of my current project.

603

And then there’s the fact that I could be anybody I want to be when I’m traveling. I can literally reinvent myself to be the me I want to be. This is actually something I first truly realized when I was in Vancouver this last winter. When I’m at home, I am confined by people who know me, or people who THINK they know me and what I’m about. If I try to reinvent myself when I’m at home, which is kind of something I’m doing anyways, I get a lot of people not accepting the new version of me. When I’m traveling, I don’t have those confinements. The people I meet on the streets, or on the bus, or in the restaurant… they don’t know me or my experiences. It’s like I’m a blank canvas and I can make whatever I want out of myself. No, that is not to say I make myself sound better than what I really am, rather that I feel I can truly be myself,and that is probably one of the most empowering feelings.

The Postcards Project

I am super excited to announce a project I’ve been working on since last December! The Postcards Project is a nonprofit, the vision behind it is to bring awareness to everything positive in the world. I want people to tell small stories that make a huge impact on the way people see different parts of the world.

Of course, it’s a big project and I can’t do it without all of you. I want everyone to send me postcards, either from a place you’ve been or somewhere you live(d) with a note on the back sharing something positive about that place or the culture. I will pick out different postcards every day to post on social media and on a blog, separate from D:E. I want this to become a movement, something that opens people’s eyes and helps them realize the world isn’t such a scary place after all.

With that said, I actually do need a little bit of money to launch this project. I’ve created a GoFundMe to raise enough money to hopefully get it off the ground. Anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated.

Defying The Status Quo

I want to take a moment to talk about goals. Specifically personal goals I have for D:E and where I want it to go, in the long run. It’s actually based on a lot of stuff I’m going through lately, but also on little consistencies I’ve been noticing with Americans in general.

I come from a hometown where going against the status quo is highly discouraged. People who don’t realize that the American dream is a lie that’s been fed to us since birth. The majority of people in that city never even leave that city except to go on a short vacation every once in awhile, and it’s almost never to another country because they’re honestly too scared. With the media the way it is in America, why wouldn’t they be? Our news focuses on the bad, never highlights the good.

I have a vision in mind for what I want this to become, and I am starting to look at it from a business standpoint. I want to teach people that the world isn’t such a scary place. I want people who are discouraged from seeing the world to know that it’s okay out in the real world and no place is as dangerous as they say it is. I am a firm believer that in order to understand what’s going on in the world, you must first see the world. Not through pictures, and certainly not through Fox news… but firsthand. Firsthand experience is really the only way to learn anything, the world is no exception.

Times are changing like the tides and too many people are living in the past. I can’t pinpoint when America became so close minded to the rest of the world, if it’s fear of 9/11 2.0 or what… but it really has to change. It’s a big task… definitely one I can’t take on alone, but I am committed to making people see other cultures and all the possibilities the world has to offer. I am tired of seeing all the negativity and people telling me to not go places because “it’s too dangerous” or “I’ll get robbed or killed.” People here get all their information from whatever the media says, and that’s simply not the reality.

I also want to educate people that travel is NOT exclusively for the rich. Yes, people with a lot of money have an easier time with it, but there are SO MANY resources out there that make it more than possible to travel on the cheap. If you’re open minded and you look, the opportunities are there.

And more than that, I want to inspire other people from disadvantaged backgrounds to live their fullest life. Whether they feel held back by their family or where they live… you don’t have to go through life just existing. You deserve to live the life you want and be happy, whether it be through traveling or some other method. To be able to really live and have your dreams within reach, it’s the most empowering feeling in the world. I want everyone to be able to have that sense of empowerment.

It might not be easy, but it will so be worth it.

Women In Travel Summit & Wanderful Part I: A Community You Can Count On.

As you know, travel is something I have had my heart set on for a while. The world is something I’ve been curious about ever since I was a little girl. Of course, most people in my family see travel as something exclusively for the rich, so I was never encouraged and often pulled away from going down that path.

This last year, all of that changed. I’ve met people who showed me that my dreams are possible, who have success doing it themselves. I discovered a number of people making a living and thought, “Hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?” And then I learned about this conference… I spent this weekend in Irvine for the Women In Travel Summit, a weekend-long conference put on by Wanderful.

Wanderful is a community of thousands of women all over the globe who all have one thing in common. They really, really love to travel. I have met so many successful women over this weekend… some are experienced, others are much like me and really just beginning. Some are solo travelers, others travel with their families. A lot of foodie travelers, then the ones who were nomadic and travel just for the sake of travel. Some travel for pleasure while others make a living with it. No two people were exactly the same, but we all had this one thing in common. A curiosity that drives us, a desire to see the good and share our stories. I really got a sense of community by being around these people, and it made me all the more excited to get out and meet even more people in the travel industry, or just people who really love to travel.

The time I spent connecting with all these women this weekend left me feeling a sense of empowerment. Like I now have the resources I need to succeed, and a number of new friends who can help me succeed. I also left feeling inspired. Inspired to travel, to write, to connect with even more people and do things I never dreamt I’d have the courage to do.

Stay tuned for my next post that will cover the specific sessions I attended and what I got out of them!

One Year!

It’s been almost a year since I first created this blog. One year this month since it first really came to my attention that hey, maybe traveling isn’t just for the rich. Hell, maybe you don’t even need that much money to have that lifestyle and still live reasonably well and be comfortable. It’s been a long year with ups and downs, and a lot of changes of plans. Enough to drive my family and friends a little bit crazy, within reason.

At the beginning of the year, I was a student. I had a plan to stay in school for two years and save up as much as I could and start traveling directly after. At the time, I was on the last semester of academic probation and had to pass with a 2.0 in order to continue, but I wasn’t quite able to make the grades I needed. I did well, just not well enough. Admittedly, it took me a while to get over that, but I’m okay with it now. School isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely not for me… I struggle with it so much and it’s always been something that stressed me out to no end, so not having to deal with being in school might as well be a good thing.

Near the end of last year, I got the bad news that I had to leave the one place in my hometown that sort of felt like home to me, and this broke me down on several levels. I didn’t really know what to do, so I ended up booking a ticket to Canada. I moved back in with my mom when I came back from that mini adventure and been looking for my next adventure basically since the moment I get home and hooked my laptop up.

Originally, my plans for this year included moving to Australia for a year on the working holiday visa. However, my time in Canada changed that… I have a little bit of time before I turn 30, so it’s not really something I need to do this year. Instead, I want to take some time to travel on my own, not really having to worry about finding paid work or money. I want to really experience long term, slow travel through several different countries before having to stay put for a full year. Maybe I will still make it to Australia this year, who really knows? If I do, it won’t be until much later than originally planned. Maybe they’ll have their spider problem taken care of by then! Either way, if I don’t make it there in 2016, it’s definitely on my list for 2017.

One year later, plans are actually starting to come together. My goals are actually becoming something I can put into words, which is actually something that helps me a lot. I always knew where I wanted this to go, but before it was always fairly relative. In the last couple months or so, these ideas and goals have become much more definitive. I know what I want, but I have to admit I am not 100% sure how to get there.

Next week, I am actually attending WITS 2016 (Women In Travel Summit) in Irvine, CA. This is a weekend long conference for women who are in the travel industry or who are hoping to break into the industry (ME!), or just really love traveling (ALSO ME!!!). During that weekend, I hope to meet other people can sort of help me get to where I want to be. I have so many questions, and maybe someone can offer me just the right piece of advice. (Also to note, I will be covering this event here, so keep an eye out for that!)

And of course, this is only the beginning! I can’t wait for the adventures that follow. I would like to take a moment to thank my family, while they haven’t been 100% behind my crazy ideas from the start, they haven’t went so far to try and hold me back as of yet. Considering how sheltered I was growing up, being able to break free from that is more important to me than they know. Also my small handful of friends who have continually inspired me and always have my back no matter how crazy I get. Of course, more experienced travel bloggers, most notably Kristen Sarah of Hopscotch The Globe, Aly from Psycho Traveller, Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt and Breezy Baldwin from World Travlr… and many others. And lastly, I’d like to thank the readers, whether you’re new or you’ve been here since day one. I really feel like you’ve become my friends and I can’t wait to let you in on what’s to come.

Here’s to many more years and a lot more growth!

The Concept Of Money

Money is an interesting thing. It’s this thing the government produces, and the public trades for goods or services. It’s a small thing that often runs our lives. You often hear people say they can’t do this or can’t go there because they’re low on money. There’s never enough. In my family, we see money as a mildly important factor when it comes to living your life and paying the bills. In the recent years, I’ve been practicing minimalism and trying to do away with what I don’t need. I actually feel like I’ve become a hippie without the pot or vegetarian diet. As I think of the minimalist lifestyle I want to adopt, I find myself thinking about money. Is it necessarily the necessity everyone figures it is?

As mentioned before, money is something we exchange for goods or services. These days, it’s dollars and cents. Paper and coins. That hasn’t always been the case though. As far back as 9000 BC, cattle and their manure were considered to be very valuable and fines were paid in oxen and sheep. Around 4-3000 BC, people started using metals, particularly gold and silver. It wasn’t until 700-500 BC that people started using coins as money, and paper money didn’t come along until around the 13th century. Obviously this is a practice that has a history  nearly as long as humans have been around, but how necessary is it really?

I have a theory. If all the money in the world disappeared at this moment, but all the resources remained intact, we would still be able to produce the same amount of things as before. As long as the physical resources were there, we could easily satisfy any human need and fulfill any human desire. This is something I want to test sometime in the next year, to prove the point of how unnecessary money truly is.

How do I plan on going about this? Bartering is a one way. To me, time is money. I am clearly not the only one who thinks like that, as there are many resources such as Workaway and HelpX that allow you to find volunteer opportunities on the road in exchange for a place to sleep and sometimes food to eat. In a lot of places, small restaurants will give travelers food in exchange for a few hours of helping wash dishes or cleaning tables.

What about getting from Point A to Point B? Hitchhiking. In today’s “trust no one” society, it doesn’t surprise me that so many people fear it. Statistically speaking, it’s about as safe as riding on a plane. Everyone warns me against it, but those people who warn me against it are people who don’t have any experience traveling the way I intend to. On the other hand, I have also talked to many people who do travel in that way who swear by hitchhiking as a means to get around. People who have much more experience than the people who warn me against it. Yes, it’s a risk, but so is walking out to check the mail. It’s really a matter of common sense and trusting your instinct. You don’t have to get into a car that stops for you if you don’t feel safe getting into it. You never know who you’ll meet if you open yourself up to the possibility.

In today’s society, money controls us and we depend on it way too much. People put too much value on money and not enough on time. Personally, I feel if I had no money at all but the freedom to travel the world and experience new things on a constant basis, I would feel like the richest person alive.

Vancouver Part III: Budget

A few people recently emailed me to ask about the budget I had for my trip to Vancouver, so I thought why not lay it all down in a blog post?

My original budget was about $500, but I ended up going a little over due to underestimating how much I’d need… ended up being about $650. Still not bad for a week in Canada, I think. As expected, the airfare was the biggest chunk at about $260. If I would have chosen another time of year to go, I could have potentially spent about $100 less… but since it was the holiday season, that was the bargain at the time.

Pre Trip Costs

Airfare – $260

Travel Insurance – $89

Trip Costs

Accommodation – $150

Food $80

Entertainment – $40

Transportation – $40

 

Total – $659

*All amounts are in USD.

The trip itself, not including the pre-trip costs, came to only about $310, divided into 8 days is about $38.75/day. For as truly expensive as Canada is, that is truly amazing.

 

Also to note, there are some expenses that I had to cover before the trip that I didn’t list here. About $160 for my passport and $100 for my travel backpack and daypack, but I didn’t include those as I feel most travelers would already have access to those and while they were intended for my trip in Canada, I knew they’d get use after the trip was over.

It’s Never To Late… Until It Is.

550

I am a firm believer that it’s never too late. Especially for simpler things like changing your career or learning a new skill or doing anything that will improve your life in some way. Of course, it is a very limited life and no one knows how much time they have left.

That being said, for a lot of the bigger things like traveling the world or moving to another country and living as an expat are definitely things that should be done while you’re young and healthy and able-bodied. It’s better to live the big experiences when you’re young and free, rather than be 80 years old and not able to do any of the things you once wanted to do, looking back on all the things you never got around to doing because you thought you had time.

The most dangerous thing someone can do in life is think they have time to do the big things. That’s only an excuse to put it all off. The only way you’re gonna get around to doing these things is to just do them. You wanna backpack through a handful of other countries with practically no money just to prove you can? Book that one way ticket and just go. Never make excuses for why you can’t, otherwise you never will. I know a lot of people who want to do big things in life, but they end up stuck in a cycle of waiting for just the right time… and it’s kind of frustrating. The time will never be right.

 

So, instead of asking yourself if it’s too late… stop looking for excuses. Make the career change. Take the piano lesson. Learn the language you’ve been wanting to learn. Book the flight and just go. Do it while you’re young and more importantly, here. There’s nothing to lost and so much to gain. Live freely, without compromise and without regrets. Don’t be one of those people who just exist. Go through life with passion and purpose.