I have been reflecting a lot on my "settled" life lately. Next Monday marks one full year that I have been back in the United States and exactly 6 months at my full-time job living in a new location.
There was a time last year when I was decidedly happy with my constant "deviation" as a traveler. Since returning to the States, I have found similar happiness in a full-time job, my own place to live, and the acquiring of "things" again. In short, my life no longer fits in my backpack and it's starting to resemble much of what I originally deviated from when I hopped on a plane to Iceland in 2014.
So, am I still "deviating the norm?" Or have I fallen back in line with the sheep? Have I sold my soul for conformity and given up on the nomadic lifestyle? I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. And I found my answer buried in an interview I did over a year ago with Israeli magazine, Masa Acher.
Once I landed back in New York, I did like all New Yorkers do: I hit the ground running. I began flitting around the city, catching up with old friends, and eating my favorite American foods. Then I shot upstate to spend time with my family and reacquaint myself with American consumer culture.
In this post, I'll give you a fast-paced run-through of my arrival back in New York. But then I'll slow it down a bit, as it wasn't until I was tucked away in upstate New York that the full impact of my travels settled in.
Inevitably, I returned with knowledge of languages, cultures, people, and foods that have all become a part of my every day thoughts. Most importantly, I have returned with the challenge of integrating lessons from my travels with my lifestyle back home. During my travels, I learned how to resist planning ahead and allow my innermost wants to guide me. Now it's time to apply these same lessons to the chapter ahead.
Hi everyone! I've been itching to update the design of the blog for a while now. I finally got around to giving it a fresh makeover this week. Maybe you've already noticed it! I got rid of the old home page in favor of a welcome page and a page outlining my journey. There's also an about section, a contact form, and a photo gallery on the site now.
You'll see the blog is still there in its usual form. The travel hacking page is also still there and the itinerary page is, too, but it's now incorporated into the story of my journey. Take a look around when you have a few minutes. And if you feel like it, let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you!
Wow. 2015 was a year full of incredible travel experiences. I gazed upon some of the most stunning natural scenery in locations well off the beaten path, connected with humanity in dozens of unexpected ways, and was pushed far beyond my comfort zone both voluntarily and involuntarily. It's going to be quite difficult to look back and try to narrow things down to the top moments!
I've decided to limit myself to describing 15 for 2015. I will highlight 15 travel experiences from 11 months of travel in this post. If you recall my New Years post last year, I wrote about my 10 favorite travel moments. I had only been traveling for less than 4 months and keeping my list of favorite experiences down to 10 was a struggle! So this is going to be tough. But I'm up to the challenge. Read on for my top 15 awesome travel experiences from 2015.
It's Christmas! And I'm in New York! I'm home spending the holidays with my family in upstate New York. I thought I'd share a few of our family traditions in addition to my own tradition of seeing the holiday sights around The City.
In between upstate shenanigans, I was in New York City a couple of times over the last few weeks. I got to check out Rockefeller Center, view the decorated Macy's windows, and watch people fall on their faces ice skating in Bryant Park (my favorite!). But now I'm home, baking up a cookie storm with Mom and preparing for our family tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve.
For a whole year I kept up with posting personal updates on my long-term travel experience at the start of every month. These anticipated check-in posts held me accountable to sharing my most personal thoughts as I embarked on my first continuous travel adventure around the world.
I’m glad I did these check-ins for my "year of deviation." But now that I’m in the 13th month of my travels, it’s time for a new focus. As part of my new monthly updates I will be reviewing a different travel hack of my choice—or yours!
Fakaalofa lahi atu! This means “hello” in Niuean! As I write this, I am celebrating 1 year of travel from Niue Island in the South Pacific. The last time my feet touched US soil was September 1st 2014. What a crazy thought. I am so happy I have taken a whole year to travel around the world. Long-term travel is something I’ve always wanted to do and an experience I think everyone should have.
As usual, I will list what I did this last month. Additionally, I will mix things up by listing my favorite moments from this past year. Then I’ll talk a little bit about my biggest deviation of all—the location from which I am celebrating my 1-year anniversary of deviating the norm!
I spent the last month in Australia and now I’m in New Zealand again. Say what?! That’s right. I had a great time in Australia. I did a ton of adventuring, visited friends, and saw so much wildlife and marine life. I can’t wait to share it all through many posts in the coming months.
Ultimately, my Aussie adventure was destined to be a jam-packed one, but a short one. I set out with an agenda: deviate to illuminate. As intended, some revelations helped me realize the most important things to me so I could return to New Zealand to pursue them.
That’s right, for the 10 month anniversary of my travels around the world, today marks the first day I will set foot in Australia. I am writing this post in advance of my landing and have scheduled it to appear while I am probably still in-flight over the Tasman Sea!
But this post is less about Australia, and much more about my final days in New Zealand. After over 7 months there, I still have several stories to share. This story is about leaving and why it was so difficult to go.
I have been traveling for as long as it takes to carry a baby to term. Which begs the question—have I birthed any major plans for future travel destinations?
The answer is yes. But I am not quite ready to reveal them. All I will say is there are plans in the mix. In the meantime, I am trying to remind myself to stay in the moment and fully appreciate everything I have come to learn and love about New Zealand after over half a year here.
Two-thirds of a year have already passed since I began traveling around the world. I have been volunteering in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand for over a month now and it’s been awesome! It’s a much different pace than my first 3 months here in which I drove and camped all over the country.
Volunteering has allowed me the opportunity to really connect with the local community, learn about the people’s social concerns, and adapt to the general way of life here. I am enjoying giving back to the local community for a while before I decide to venture off again.
Sometimes, deviating the norm can be a bit disorienting. When you’re trying to travel authentically, allowing yourself to be internally driven to seek alternative, lesser beaten paths, there are no footprints in which to follow. There’s no itinerary, no tour guide, no rules about how you should travel, where you should go next, or when it’s time to move on. It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s open to possibility. And sometimes it’s confusing—because you’re confused.
Last time I checked in, I talked about how I was applying for jobs here in New Zealand. I’ve continued doing this with little success over the last month. So I had to take a step back and evaluate why I was applying to jobs in the first place. Was it for the money? The experience? The excuse to settle down for a while? After discussing with a friend back home, I have reconnected with my authentic travel flow by deciding to do something I’m very excited about: live in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand and work as a volunteer for a while. It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s open to possibility.
I can hardly believe it—I have been traveling now for half a year! I left on September 1st for Iceland for 10 days, continued on through Germany for 6 weeks, Thailand for 1 month, and I’ve been traveling around New Zealand now for over 3 months. Over the last month, I’ve had the chance to travel with two people whom I met during my travels: Carolina from Northern Sweden whom I met in Iceland and Jonathan from Napier, New Zealand whom I met through Samart in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Traveling separately with both of them, I’ve had all kinds of new experiences and seen some awesome sights in New Zealand’s South Island and North Island. Currently, I am with Jonathan traveling Northland. There’s hardly any cell phone service let alone Wi-Fi up here which explains the tardiness of this post! But I’m really looking forward to sharing all of my adventures with you in detail over the coming weeks since I'll be slowing down a bit in my travels. I plan to start living and working here in New Zealand! A different kind of travel but all a part of deviating!
Five months into my travels and I am on road trip #5 in New Zealand! I road tripped the North Island three times, did some house-sitting in Wellington over the holidays, and then traveled to the south island for a second house-sit. I planned road trip #4 with a German woman around the northern part of the south island. Now I am heading further south, road-tripping with Carolina who I met 5 months ago in Iceland! I’ve mainly been camping as a means to experience the countryside first-hand and save money on accommodation.
After traveling here for over 2 months, I can honestly say I never imagined so much beautiful and diverse landscape in such a condensed space. New Zealand truly has it all: rolling green pastures, monumental glaciers, native tropical forests, pristine sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, snow-covered mountains, active volcanoes, hot springs and pools—the list could go on and on. This is what I came here for. It’s a hiker’s, camper’s, roadtripper’s dream come true. Good thing I’m all three!
It’s four months and a new year already! For this check-in, I’m going to do something a little special—a re-cap of my top 10 favorite moments from my 4 months of deviation.
This was actually really difficult to put together. There were so many awesome experiences from which to choose! But I think I narrowed it down to my liking. To make it feel right, though, I had to list some honorable mentions at the end!
Hello from New Zealand! I am now over 3 months into my year of deviation. I’m a little late with this post because I was on a 2-day overnight hike up a mountain in New Zealand. I know I keep saying it in these updates, but traveling for this long has a funny way of feeling like time flies by and slows down all at once. It’s gone so fast and yet feels like a year has already passed! Countless times I have lost track of the day of the week or date in the month. Just a few days ago, I wrote my next post about my remaining experiences on Ko Toa in Thailand. I woke up the next day and realized, “Whoa, tomorrow is already December 1! Time for an update!” And so I wrote that, too. But then it took 3 days to be around WiFi to post—hence the tardiness.
Is it one month since I last checked in already? Two months ago, I left American soil to travel around the world for a year. And two nights ago, I pulled out my SILK sleeping bag to use at a hostel in Bangkok and was reminded of the first week of my trip—the last time I had used it regularly. At the beginning of September, I spent 6 days traveling Iceland’s Ring Road staying in hostels with a French Canadian and a Swede. The SILK sleeping bag has become a sort of symbol of the first week of my travels around Iceland.
Since then, I have spent 6 weeks traveling all over Germany. I mostly stayed in the lap of luxury—with family and friends who had plenty of linens (and so much generosity!) to spare. Then, after a near-empty, but long flight on Thai Airways from Munich to Bangkok, I treated myself to a nice hotel for two nights. Even for my first week in Thailand living in a bungalow on Ko Tao, I found I didn’t need my sleeping bag—it was too hot for it! I only needed to pull it out again at the hostel in Bangkok. Being brought back full circle to my memories of Iceland seemed proper at 2 months into my journey.
Whew! What a month!
Today marks one month since I left the United States to embark on my year of traveling the world. I made it to Iceland for a whirlwind journey around the whole country and then flew to Germany 10 days later where I am located at present. Suddenly, time has seemed to go by incredibly fast. In the same breath, I look back astonished at how much I have done in what is actually a very short time.
Here are just some of the things I have already written about doing.