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 Exploring Windhoek and Partying With Queer Namibians

Exploring Windhoek and Partying With Queer Namibians

Who knew Namibia had a queer scene? When I planned my trip to Namibia, I never expected to meet Namibian queer folk—and party with them! But that's exactly what happened through my couchsurf host in Windhoek, Namibia's capital city.

I stayed with Naville, a friend of a friend in the couchsurf community, while in Windhoek. Naville lives close to the city center. So it was super easy to access and explore shops, restaurants, sights, and bars from his place!

In this post, I share everything I squeezed into 1 full day and night in Windhoek. This included ethically shopping African souvenirs from local tribes and learning about local LGBT rights over ciders at a bar.

Despite limited time, I ended up making some great memories and even greater friends!Who knew Namibia had a queer scene? When I planned my trip to Namibia, I never expected to meet Namibian queer folk—and party with them! But that's exactly what happened through my couchsurf host in Windhoek, Namibia's capital city.

I stayed with Naville, a friend of a friend in the couchsurf community, while in Windhoek. Naville lives close to the city center. So it was super easy to access and explore shops, restaurants, sights, and bars from his place!

In this post, I share everything I squeezed into 1 full day and night in Windhoek. This included ethically shopping African souvenirs from local tribes and learning about local LGBT rights over ciders at a bar.

Despite limited time, I ended up making some great memories and even greater friends!

Sesriem Canyon and 5 Namib Desert Highlights

Sesriem Canyon and 5 Namib Desert Highlights

When I travel, I am often pulled to a destination by one feature and then, once I'm there, I fall in love with so much more.

By lunchtime, I had seen what I came to the Namib Desert to see: the Sossusvlei region. So what was there left to see? I quickly learned that the Namib desert has much more to offer than Sossusvlei. I spent my final 24 hours in the Namib desert viewing fantastic scenery and incredible wildlife.

In the morning, I climbed Dune 45 and photographed the sun-scorched trees of Deadvlei. Now, I would scale the walls of a deep canyon. I would spot Namibia's national animal and observe a family of baboons. And I would end my visit to the Namib desert by admiring its shifting colors at sunrise and sunset.

Photographing Namibia's Deadvlei As A Solo Traveler

Photographing Namibia's Deadvlei As A Solo Traveler

Deadvlei (dead marsh or valley) is one of the most famously photographed places in Namibia.

It has sun-scorched camel thorn trees sprouting across a bleached-white clay pan surrounded by looming orange sand dunes. These natural tree sculptures are estimated to be 900 years old! And they were a large part of my motivation to visit Namibia.

In this post, I share with you my tips and struggles through photos and brief commentary. Most bloggers and instagrammers will post only the best photos of Deadvlei. But I share the good, the bad, and the real bad.

Holding nothing back; this is the realness. This is Deadvlei in all its beauty through traditional and creative angles as well as awful selfies and terrible captures.

In the end, Deadvlei is beautiful no matter how you take its picture.

Climbing Dune 45 At Sunrise In The Namib Desert

Climbing Dune 45 At Sunrise In The Namib Desert

I've seen some of the best sunrises around the world and climbed sand dunes, as well. But never have I experienced sunrise views like I did from the top of Dune 45 in the Namib Desert.

Dune 45 is located on the way to the Sossusvlei salt and clay pans in Namib-Naukluft National Park. Deadvlei is another famous highlight of this park that brings in hordes of tourists year round. But views from Dune 45 of the expansive, billowing sand of the Namib desert holds its own—especially at sunrise.

Before I could climb up Dune 45, I had to gain access to the park via the gateway town of Sesriem. In this post, I share my experience getting through Sesriem's gates, climbing Dune 45, and checking out other highlights of this breathtaking natural landscape.

I'm in Namibia! A Photographic Sneak Peak

I'm in Namibia! A Photographic Sneak Peak

For the first time in over 2 years, I am overseas traveling a new continent—Africa! Specifically, I am traveling the lovely little country of Namibia (not to be confused with Nambia, Trump's incorrect pronunciation of it).

Namibia has stunning natural landscapes and the wildlife sightings happen left and right without even trying! I fly to South Africa next to see the "Big 5" on safari, but I've already felt incredibly fulfilled by all the wildlife and nature I have seen.

My first stop in Namibia was the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Then I camped in the Sossusvlei region which has the tallest sand dunes in the world and a really unique place to take photographs of 700 year old sun-scorched trees. It's been an amazing trip already and I'm only 1 week into it! Here's a sneak photographic peak at Namibia...

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

In August this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Montreal for 2 nights. It was going to be a short stay, but I wanted to make the most of it.

I was traveling with my new partner, Ang. She was presenting at a conference, and I joined for some fun! I have been to Canada before—to Toronto and Bromont. But Montreal is a city I have been wanting to visit since I took French in high school. So this trip was 15+ years in the making! It also marked the first time I had been out of the USA since my round-the-world trip!

Summers in Montreal are full of art, music, and outdoor fun. I experienced everything I describe in this post over 2 days. But you can easily see and do it all in 24 hours.

International Travel as an American Under Trump vs Obama

International Travel as an American Under Trump vs Obama

I find myself thinking about what it will be like traveling internationally during the next 4 years under the Trump administration.

Our elected leaders matter when we travel.

The influence of the American government on the rest of the world's view of America and its citizens was omnipresent during my international travels while Obama was president just as it was when I traveled abroad during the Bush administration. These international travel experiences inevitably inform my outlook on the future. And they inform my steadfast position to keep traveling and spreading the values that I feel best represent me and my country.

Planning Long-Term Travel For Job Re-Entry Afterward

Planning Long-Term Travel For Job Re-Entry Afterward

I have an update: I started a new job this week—yay! And there's even more to celebrate: This week marks 6 months that I have been back in the United States! In all of my blogging and reading other people’s travel blogs, I rarely hear people write about the adaptation back into the job market after an extended period of travel. So I've decided to write about it in this post.

I will in no way sugar coat this: Job hunting post-travel is not easy. To give yourself the best possible chance of returning to a job, I will share in this post the tricks I used before, during, and after nearly 2 years of travel without official employment. These tricks include thinking carefully about your reasons for traveling, staying connected to your contacts along the way, and having a "product" to show for your absence.

7 Tips for SIM Card Use Abroad (How to Avoid Roaming Charges)

7 Tips for SIM Card Use Abroad (How to Avoid Roaming Charges)

The best way to avoid roaming charges and other heightened fees for talk, text, and data overseas is to use a local SIM card at your destination. SIM cards give you access to a local phone number and the plans are usually pretty cheap, e.g. $10-$30 for 30 days.

Many people opt to use Wi-Fi while they are abroad. This is certainly an option to consider—especially if you're only going to be at your destination for a few days. But even for those few days, you may want to consider a local SIM card for some of the benefits it offers.

I used local SIM cards in most of the countries to which I traveled during my 15 month trip around the world. Along the way, I learned a lot about when it is and is not a good idea to get one and what to do to make life easier when setting up and using a SIM card abroad.

Big update! I'm heading home, but not without a few stops

Big update! I'm heading home, but not without a few stops

I know I said I was going to stop doing these. But this update seemed too important not to share! Yes, surprise! I am heading back to New York! We all knew this day had to come sometime considering this is a year(ish) of deviation tour. Well, it's about time, as it's been over 14 months since I left New York.

Three days ago, I departed from Auckland, New Zealand and began a series of flights taking me to Bali, Indonesia. Today marks my first full day in Bali! Wooo! I've had Bali in my sights since before I left NY last September. Jono and I even considered it for our destination together until we decided on Niue. I am now traveling solo again and loving it! But it's also good to be following a path that will ultimately lead me home.

Arriving to Niue: First impressions of “the rock”

Arriving to Niue: First impressions of “the rock”

I was expecting Niue to be a small country. But there was no way I could have anticipated just how small and remote it is. Jono, my Kiwi partner, and I traveled from New Zealand to “the rock” of Polynesia at the end of August.

Upon our arrival, we realized the entire country is the equivalent of a rural village dropped onto an island in the middle of the ocean. With its approximately 1200 human dwellers (and possibly twice as many chickens), we felt like we were getting a true getaway from the fast pace of life. You’ll understand why if you ever have the chance to go, or you can just keep reading.

Craters of the Moon and Huka Falls near Taupo, New Zealand

Craters of the Moon and Huka Falls near Taupo, New Zealand

While traveling the North Island, I kept passing through Taupo instead of actually spending any time there. One time I finally did stop. Jono and I were on our way back from a weekend trip near Hamilton. Huka Falls and the “Craters of the Moon” had been on my mind since I passed through Taupo on several occasions prior.

Stopping to visit both was definitely worth it. The bubbling Earth of the geothermal field and the gushing power of the falls were awesome to behold. The best part? Laughing at the expense of frightened tourists riding in speedboats down the river!

The talking toilet and visiting New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula

The talking toilet and visiting New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula

Tall peaks and steep valleys covered in native plants and trees with huge rocky outcrops sticking up out of forested mounds stretched from either side of the winding highway 25. I could see the Bay of Plenty on the Pacific Ocean running along the horizon ahead. We had made it from the West Coast Taranaki region to the Coromandel Peninsula. Famous for its beaches and ecotourism, the Coromandel is a popular vacation spot for kiwi locals and foreign tourists.

Today, we had driven all day to make it to Hot Water Beach where visitors dig holes in the sand which fill with thermal water from hot springs underneath. Tomorrow we would find an overnight hike to do in the steep inland tropical forest. With nowhere to camp for free on the Coromandel itself, we ended up pitching tents just south of the Coromandel on district land with one of the most unique and hilarious public toilets I’ve ever encountered.

The Battle of Poo Hill and showering in a New Zealand library

The Battle of Poo Hill and showering in a New Zealand library

Harald the German and I were all set for our road trip across the North Island. We had 15 days before I needed to be in Auckland. We kicked off the journey around the Lower and Upper Hutt areas of Wellington staying at a few campsites. taking a few short hikes, then heading to the east coast.

Not long after our departure from the city, we glimpsed green pastures calling to be rolled down, winding mountain side roads frighteningly steep, and deep river valleys cutting through the hills. Everywhere we turned there was something beautiful to see. In just the first few days of our journey, we saw tons of gorgeous scenery, resisted rolling down a very poo-y hillside, and then found a new way to deviate the norm: showering at a library.

Getting to Wellington, New Zealand, and then trying to get out

Getting to Wellington, New Zealand, and then trying to get out

At long last, I was at customs about to leave Bangkok headed for New Zealand. I was in a strange place in my head, sad to leave Thailand behind after only one month there, but excited to be headed to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.

My arrival to New Zealand happened to coincide with the premiere of the final Hobbit film. I chose Wellington as my destination city because it had been home to the film’s studio and workshop as well as the previous two film premieres. But just a few weeks before my scheduled flight, I learned the final premiere would be held in London instead. At first I was disappointed, but then I remembered why I had planned to visit New Zealand in the first place: to see the gorgeous countryside. So my plan was to get out of the city as soon as possible. Easier said than done.

Fourth month check-in: Top 10 favorite travel moments

Fourth month check-in: Top 10 favorite travel moments


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!

Yi Peng and Loy Krathong: The lantern and float festivals in Chiang Mai

Yi Peng and Loy Krathong: The lantern and float festivals in Chiang Mai

“I can’t believe I almost missed this,” I said aloud to my new friends as we walked down the sidewalk toward the Ping River. Above us, thousands of golden, twinkling lanterns were floating up and taking to the winds across the night sky, morphing and expanding along the thermals like a galaxy of stars. Just a few days earlier, I had made the decision to skip out on what would have been a much-too-short motorbike trip around the Mae Hong Son loop.

Instead, I met a Thai local named Samart who graciously hosted me for the week. I had the awesome opportunity to meet many of his friends, employees, and volunteers—a mixture of Thai locals and other travelers—who work with him at his bungalows outside Chiang Mai. Several of them had come into the city just for the Yi Peng and Loy Krathong festivals.

Baking an X-Mas Pavlova at a house-sit in New Zealand

Baking an X-Mas Pavlova at a house-sit in New Zealand

I’ve been writing a lot about Thailand in their sequence of events over the last few weeks, but it’s time to mix things up! Since this blog is all about deviating the norm, I thought I’d deviate my blogging norm for a moment to wish everyone a Merry X-Mas!

I am writing from a house-sit in New Zealand. A lovely family is away for the holidays and they are allowing me the opportunity to take care of their adorable dog and relax in their home for the week.

Solo travel for the win: Bailing on plans and talking to a monk

Solo travel for the win: Bailing on plans and talking to a monk

During these last 3+ months of travel, I have found the solo travel lifestyle to be a perfect way to deviate freely and openly. Without surprise, I have spent very little time traveling alone. Even traveling between locations, like my overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I have rarely been by myself or kept to myself. I meet couples, other solo travelers, old friends from back home, and locals. I strike up conversations, exchange contact info, and sometimes I even temporarily combine travel plans. But not being tied down to people in a permanent way has led me down alternative paths to other exciting adventures.

In this post I am going to highlight one of the best parts about solo travel through a moment when I was in Thailand and my plans with another traveler went awry. Why would being a solo traveler be a good thing in this case? Read on to find out.

Overcoming my motorbiking fear to visit the temple on Doi Suthep mountain

Overcoming my motorbiking fear to visit the temple on Doi Suthep mountain

I was going to call this post “Monks and Motorbikes” but then I realized you would all picture monks riding motorbikes around and that would have been completely inaccurate. My in-depth post about my interactions with monks will have to come later. Instead, this post is about the day I got over my fear of riding a motorbike which included a ride up to a Buddhist temple near Chiang Mai.

West of Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Just before the Doi Suthep mountain summit (1676m) is the temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep—a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site. Other travelers staying at the Julie Guesthouse suggested going there as a fun day trip. They mentioned songthaews and buses as the means to get up there. “Or you could just rent a motorbike,” said one traveler.