Must Read Travel Articles

I LOVE to travel. More than anything in the world, in fact I LIVE for travel. No, seriously, its a pretty generic story.

I  fell in love when I was young. Lost myself in the relationship. Found myself utterly miserable with no known purpose for living.

Thus a dream was born. Through months (and years) of personal reflection, self discovery and heart wrenching decisions I completely rebuilt and redesigned my life.

Since 2008 everything in my life has been geared to one goal, travel. I knew I needed to finish my college degree 1) so I could be happy with myself and 2) so I would have something other than passion to help facilitate and fund my dreams. So I finished my degree, sold my condo, awaited my job lay off and bought a one way ticket.

When I started this dream I didn’t know a single person who had done this, I had no basis to believe it could even be done other than knowing this was my only known passion and dream; without it I wasn’t sure how I could continue to build a happy or successful life (in my own terms). The further I get into the travel writing industry it turns out there are hundreds of thousands of others who have found a way to make similar dreams come true, an encouraging discovery!

If they can do it, so can I. This also led to the realization that my dream isn’t all that unique and neither is my perspective of how to facilitate a life built around travel. Every now and again I stumble upon articles written by those who have gone before me. I find myself agreeing through the entire article and wishing 1) that everyone would read it and 2) that I had written it first.

Rather than compete with already eloquent and experienced writers I have compiled a list of my must reads:

How you CAN travel anywhere you want and why you probably NEVER will: Nomadic Matt

The Reality of Being a Professional Travel Blogger: Adventurous Kate

Five Things I wish I Knew About Travel When I Way Young and Stupid: LandLopers

6 Ways I Prepared to Move Overseas

It’s almost been 8 years since I left the United States for the first time when I moved to Russia volunteering as an English teacher for 6 months. It seemed only fitting that my flight to South Korea where I will teach (and get paid) has a layover in Moscow, the first foreign city I fell in love with.

I spent the flight behind a young family with a screaming baby and an energetic child who found reclining seats to be the greatest invention since stickers. Needless to say I will have a headache, bruised knees and smell like the tomato juice I spilled on myself when she decided to randomly check if the seat recliner was still working. Eye rolls and venting aside it’s a small price to pay for a child’s wondrous experience traveling the world and I would gladly endure a short flight for them again.

Back to Moscow.

I was excited to have a solid 5 hours here even if it is just in the airport. I love that I can (somewhat) communicate in the first foreign language I learned pretended to learn even after so much time has passed. So what am I doing with my precious 5 hours? I am sitting in an “Irish Pub” drinking Russian beer (for the first time ever since I didn’t drink a lick of booze when I was here at the ripe age of 18) after waking up this morning in Germany, boarding a plane for Beijing with a final destination of South Korea… how’s that for a multicultural travel day!?

29 hours of traveling leaves a girl with a lot of time to think and reflect on life and I’ve just got to say that I CAN NOT for the life of me sort out how I feel! One minute I could scream from excitement about living the life I’ve been dreaming about for years and the next I am drowning in curiosity about what life in Korea will be like, flip a coin and I am near in tears missing my family and wishing I could be on a flight home to spend just a day with them but before you can blink I am chuckling at how giddy I am to be exactly where I am. Bipolar disorder anyone?

6 Ways I Prepared to Move Overseas

The sooner you can accept the reality that you can never really be prepared the better off you’ll be.

The rest of my tips are really just what (I think) I’ve stacked in my favor this time versus my first wide-eyed naïve move abroad.

1)      I stopped buying things I knew wouldn’t be coming with me as soon as I knew I wanted to leave

2)      I moved from my comfy 2 bedroom condo into a bedroom at my friend’s house the weekend my place sold taking away the familiarity that I once thought was so important.

3)      I spent three months backpacking through Europe moving from city to city every few days. Nothing will make you crave any form of stability after you’ve been traveling solo for that long whether it’s in a country you can speak the language or not. I can hardly wait to have a place of my own somewhere I can stay for longer than a week.

4)      I have now traveled to 21 countries, quite a long way from the 1 (United States) I’d been to the first time. I have a better understanding of the world, myself and what to expect than I did before. BUT don’t make the mistake of thinking that will decrease the chaos and sheer hilarity at all since I have never been to an Asian country before, oh honey do I have a lot to learn!

5)      Traveling isn’t enough though, I have a very limited experience of living abroad all of which will help me adjust to living abroad again but this time I will be living alone which I intend to use to my advantage.

6)      I was worried to live alone where loneliness and depression are sure to find me but I’ve already looked up language classes in my city, made friends with nearby expats and if all else fails I will be living by the ocean which is sure to boost my spirits!

What to do with 3 Months in Europe

My first piece of advice is not to blink! The moment you do.. POOF it’s over and you’re loading back onto a plane to take you far away. I left for my European adventure on July 15th and 99 days later I am boarding a plane for South Korea where I will spend the next year teaching English.

I had grand ideas of how much I was going to write and imagined that I could stay current on my blog during my travels (I’m such a foolish girl!) and unless you are very new to the journey then you know that I have in fact not been up to date. Between the laughter and late night rounds between new friends I slowly got further and further behind, I think that is how I knew I was doing something right! Before I leave one grand adventure for another entirely different adventure I will recap where the hell I have been these past 3 months.

My three month route backpacking through Europe by train

For stories about any of the specific destinations below just click on the photo, and be sure to check back often as I continue to dig through the mountains of photos and try to recall all my crazy adventures!

 

This page will be updated as I get further into writing about my 3 months backpacking through Europe, in the mean time if you have any questions about how to plan for your own trip to Europe please don’t hesitate to contact me

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Perspective after a Month Abroad and the Many More to Come

It has been 31 days since I hugged my family and friends goodbye before walking confidently onto a plane that would take me far away from the only life I have known.

My Family

I will admit from a place in my heart filled with humility that this has been without a doubt far more challenging than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Yet every so often when the winds rustle in the trees or the sun shines at just the perfect angle casting a shadow of beauty that for a moment my worries settle in silence and the world lies still filling me with peace and contentment.

Island Korcula off the Croatian Coast

For years I had been telling people my plans after college graduation were to “sell everything I own and travel the world” but until that distant dream started to become a reality I realized those were just empty words. That is until decisions had to be made, where would I go, how would I make money, when would I sell my home and which belongings did I want to keep, give away and take with me.

I was overtaken by excitement and urgency but so much of the time leading up to my flight on July 15th demanded my patience; it was a constant battle between preparing for the future and teaching myself to be present in each moment before my departure. I was as ready and prepared as I could have ever been and yet somehow I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

 

I anticipated getting homesick, knowing that wonder and amazement would be around every turn, a fountain of tears waiting to surprise me at any given moment and an emotional rollercoaster ready to take me on wild twists, turns, ups and downs. This adventure hasn’t let me down. What a multifaceted and broad spectrum of events this month it has held! There will never be a way to completely express how this past month has influenced me, hell, most of the experiences and lessons won’t present themselves for years to come!

 

I’ve traveled in 7 different countries by planes, trains, buses, ferries, cars, bikes trams and a lot of metros. I’ve laughed so hard I cried, I cried so hard I laughed, read 4 books that have been on my list for years, met dozens of new lifelong friends, received over 67 mosquito bites, ate horse, cow tongue, drank homemade liquor in Croatia and had a shot of Unicum from a recipe over 300 years old, snorkeled between the continental plates that separate America and Eurasia and spent more time trying to enjoy life rather than live life.

Elliot, Jess, me, Euan and Perry

So hang on folks cause you haven’t seen anything yet!

Enjoy the reflection of my life after arriving in Iceland

If Death is Inevitable then why isn’t Living?

It is just as common as the birth of a child and as inevitable as the sun’s rising each morning.

It is never easy to talk about death, but why?

As I wandered into the city of Hamburg, Germany alone this afternoon I was overcome by fear.

Fear that I would get lost; fear that I couldn’t talk to someone if I needed help, fear of being alone.

It was a graceful start, I found my way to the underground, I recognized the stop for Hamburg’s central train station and managed to track down the travel office so I could buy a ticket. While standing in line I imagined how I would express the anxiety I was experiencing, the humbling strangeness of my foreign surroundings.

I have considered myself an avid traveler for the past 6 years and while I was nervous before I left it was a naïve understanding of what it would be like to travel alone in a foreign country. I’ve forgotten how unnerving it is to be surrounded by people & still feel so far away from them because they are going about their everyday business all the while translating the chaos around them… I however, stand in total confusion wondering if I look as awkward as I feel.

I thought of how I could possibly portray that kind of out of body experience while portraying the jumbled array of emotions.

That is until I arrived back home & quickly learned about a late night shooting in Aurora, Colorado. I was born in Aurora, I have friends who are my family that live there & it serves as a reminder of how fragile life is.As I scrolled through my friends facebook statuses and news articles announcing the tragedy of 12 deaths and several injuries I am quickly reminded of a different kind of fear.

Fear of not living.

Fear of dying with regrets.

Fear of living with regrets.

I am reminded of an article written here by a fellow travel blogger a few weeks ago that touched me.

Each story is different but the moral is the same. LIVE.

Simply to live.

Enjoy the reflection of my life after arriving in Iceland

I feel today it is far more important for me to remind you of how freeing & content it is to live without fear of dying. To know if your life ended tomorrow that you would be happy with how you spent your time on earth.

The long list of excuses keeping you from your dreams will never end, sometimes I don’t think I have done my readers a service by encouraging travel, understating the journey it took for me to sell my belongings, move away from home and travel the world.

Even though I am living my dream, currently I am writing to you from a flat (apartment) in Germany and tomorrow I will be boarding a train to another city in another country there is still sacrifice. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss familiar surroundings but I don’t miss wondering what it would be like if I didn’t go at all.

It isn’t easy. The sacrifice, risk and unnerving experiences that led to living my dreams aren’t always pretty and they are seldom simple or effortless.

BUT the dedication is.

If you commit to living the life of your dreams you can live without fear of regret.

I am no expert. Hell! I’m less than a week into my life of traveling the world and I’ve already cried, my heart aches for my friends & family but so far it is still worth it.

Years ago my life was dark and miserable, I could have never imagined the confidence I have now, the life I am living now wasn’t in my faintest imagination. Even still, here I am.

I would encourage you to look at the life you are living. If you were suddenly taken away from this life only to remain as an observer, would you be content with how you lived?

If there is doubt in your mind, question yourself. Search for the unhappiness lurking in your soul and bring it into the light. Continue to ask what you truly desire in this life, then find out how to get it.

Where there is a will…. There is a way.

 

Find  out what you want and find a way to get it.

 

No excuses.