Who is Rikka?
Hi there. I am a born and raised New Yorker. I traveled around the world solo nonstop in 2014 and 2015 after graduating with too many degrees and not enough world-trekking under my belt. Currently, I travel domestically around the USA and internationally about once a year.
For most of my life I was told travel is for rich people. I was told I would need to start my career immediately after graduate school. And if I ever had enough money to travel, I should only expect to do so on holidays or when given enough vacation time.
Resisting these (predominantly American) social norms, I taught myself how to "travel hack" to help cover the cost of flights, find low-cost accommodation, and minimize what I would need to carry around the world for an extended period of time.
In less than 2 years (and on a meager graduate student budget), I earned nearly half a million frequent flier miles with minimal effort and no extra spending. This was more than enough to fund slow travel over 15 months across the world.
I saved up some extra money by working additional hours as I completed my graduate degree in social psychology. Then I booked my first one-way ticket from New York to Iceland.
Readers can learn about the places I visited and the new places I visit through the stories I tell on the blog. The blog continues to be updated as travel remains a major part of my life-long values.
I left USA soil motivated by a favorite quote of mine by Frank Zappa: "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
I interpret this quote to mean that opening ourselves up to alternate ways of thinking and doing will help us evolve into better individuals and societies.
Travel is defined by constant change. It's the perfect platform upon which to take me outside the norms invoked by my surroundings and by my own habits and behaviors. It's a way for me to personally reconnect with the world, its people, and myself.
Why this blog?
Whether traveling or settling, I align myself around 3 core values:
Supporting and Empowering People to Achieve their Goals and Dreams
Achieving Equality and Social Justice for All People
Applying Web Technology, Education, and Story-Telling to Inspire Social Change and Personal Progress
I follow these 3 core values on this blog by sharing my personal travel experiences, tips and hacks to make travel financially and logistically possible, cultural similarities and differences I stumble upon, and instances of social (in)justice across the world.
I share what I learn to influence others to break out of their own routines and open up to new ways of thinking and doing, even if it’s not normative. Better yet, especially if it's not normative!
I focus on understanding other cultures through the local people, their foods, and their social issues while staying open to alternative perspectives and activities. Through my approach to travel and how I reflect on it in my writing, I demonstrate the following specific personal and social values:
remaining open-minded and understanding toward diverse ways of life (Related Post: Cockfighting in Bali)
having appreciation and empathy for the individual experiences of others (Related Post: Hitch-hiking with Maori Locals in New Zealand)
remaining in touch with one's own happiness and the happiness of others (Related Post: Revelations in Australia)
challenging one's personal assumptions and limitations with the goal of a better self and a better world (Related Post: Motorbiking in Thailand)
I've been fortunate enough to contribute to and participate in an incredibly generous and inspiring travel blogging community through this blog and through guest posts on:
Ask me to write a guest post or article for your blog!
[Note: I do not accept guests posts on my blog at this time.]
What is the norm?
The norm includes your personal norms such as your behaviors, attitudes, perspectives, and way of life including everything from the food you eat to the political positions you always defend.
It's also the social norms existing in your surroundings.
These are the aspects of the culture into which you were born and with which you grew up. Social norms are the values, expectations, and assumptions created and/or sustained by your government, by your family, by your religious group, by your relationship partner(s), by your friends, by your foes, by your co-workers, by your doctors, and, as a result, by you, either purposely or without even realizing it.
Whether you agree with the social norms around you or have rebelled against them all your life, they are a part of the way you think, behave, and exist.
What is deviating?
Deviating, by definition, means literally or figuratively going in a new direction away from an established or previously set standard or course. The norm is that previously set standard or course.
Hence, deviating the norm is all about doing something new, something alternative, some variant on what you would typically have done in an otherwise different time or place. Or it could be a path different from what others from your lived cultural surroundings might expect you to follow.
I believe in the power of change to help us, as humans, to progress as individuals and as socially interconnected beings. Travel allows me the opportunity to put my personal and social behaviors and perspectives into perspective.
It's also possible to deviate when not traveling. Deviating is about a constant act of opening yourself up to alternate paths in life. Therefore, you are deviating as long as growth and change are mindfully and authentically being worked toward. If you can do that in any capacity, whether through travel, a career, a relationship, a single act of kindness, then DO IT.
Find out what your present deviation will be and go for it.