Happy New Year!
This year was amazing for travel—I fulfilled childhood dreams and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. It was a wonderful year for travel opportunities all around!
2018 was also a year that presented some challenges for me personally.
This blog is often a place for deep, personal reflection. I do it in most of my blog posts, but also intentionally through random life updates. I did this on a monthly basis during my extended trip 4 years ago (4 years ago, whaaat?!). Now, I only post updates about once a year around the new year. I love making the celebration of the new year into a time to look back and look ahead in a more intentional way. It's good for the heart, mind, and soul!
For this post, I look back on my travels this year, including my top 5 favorite travel experiences! I also share my reflections on life and personal growth behind all the travels. I do this mostly for me. But I know readers also appreciate the honesty and clarity about what's going on with me!
So here we go! This was 2018.
I've decided to write a quick little update for you because my blogging schedule is about to change.
From now on, I am going to be writing 2 posts per month, instead of 4 (or more). I'll be posting on an every-other-week schedule. Call it a New Years resolution to my body...
The is an unedited interview I did in 2015 with Ronny from Israeli magazine, Masa Acher (meaning, "A Different Journey").
I have a confession: I accidentally broke into the Audubon Zoo while visiting New Orleans.
Well, perhaps breaking in is an exaggeration. I wandered in through the exit without realizing I was bypassing the admission fee.
Sometimes people make honest mistakes in their life. Sometimes they take advantage of loopholes. My situation fell somewhere in between. And I'll tell you why I felt guilty about it. No, I did not feel guilty that I didn't pay. I felt guilty because I had an epiphany: The caged animals in that zoo are a mirror image of the human race.
Allow me to explain.
Following from Part 1, this part of the guide to deciding where to travel goes a bit deeper. Actually, it turns the conversation from the outer, external components to your decision and focuses your attention inward.
This post is more specifically for the worriers. The people who have a bit of fear about travel will benefit from this post whether they are worried about getting lost in an unfamiliar place or about not enjoying themselves as much as they thought they would.
This is your guide to the personal considerations when deciding on your travel destination(s).
One of the hardest parts of travel is deciding where to go in the first place. When the world is so enormous and the destinations so numerous, it feels like we'll never see it all. In truth, we most likely won't see it all. So we are left with picking and choosing what we can manage in one lifetime.
If you're like me, you like to be as informed as possible when making any decision. So for the thinkers, the planners, the people who used to be indecisive but now they are not so sure, this post is for you. This is your guide to the practical considerations for making the most informed decision possible about choosing your travel destination(s).
Last week, I posted a throwback to my time in Iceland. This time, I'm giving you another throwback but to last year when I was living in New Zealand. Reminiscent of all of the waterfalls I saw in Iceland, this post is about a waterfall I visited in Hawke's Bay. Hawke's Bay is on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. There's tons to do there, including several easy hikes that make for great day trips.
When Spring had finally sprung in the Southern hemisphere, Jono and I immediately took to the outdoors to cure our cabin fever. After a hike to Cape Kidnappers, we planned another jaunt to the famous Shine Falls. The walk to Shine Falls goes through the Boundary Stream Reserve. It has some impressive views through farmland and native bush (forest) with plenty of birds to hear and observe along the way. The waterfall is deep in the reserve and its stunning—the perfect example of typical New Zealand beauty!
There is nothing quite like having photos to remind you of the good times from your travel adventures. But you know what's even better? Having video of it.
I was not exactly religious about taking video of my experiences in the beginning of my 15-month journey in 2014 to 2015. I was barely familiar with my new camera during my first stop in Iceland. I also did not really have any ideas in mind about how I should film or what I should film. What resulted was a random selection of moments—what I think perfectly summarize my time in Iceland.
In this post, I share the raw, uncut footage from these moments. You'll see the Blair Witch-style in which I film and you'll get an idea of the carefree mindset I was in. The following are a sequence of videos from the start to the end of my 9 days in Iceland. It includes my starts and stops and the times I let the film roll when I suddenly felt the urge to capture the moment. It's random. It's fluid. And I think I naturally ended up capturing some of the best moments from my time in Iceland.
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.
Fremont, California's popular hike to Mission Peak boasts gorgeous views over Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The mostly exposed trail rises steadily through cattle farms before reaching the summit. There, a summit pole doubles as an art piece and artifact emphasizing environmental and social awareness.
I had never hiked to Mission Peak before, but my best friend has made it her yearly ritual ever since she moved to the area from New York. This time, we would hike to Mission Peak together. With me at the close of my travels and her at 6-months pregnant—we were both celebrating milestones in our lives and preparing for the next chapter to come.
On my last full day in Bali, I hopped on the back of a motorbike with a local who showed me the highlights of the lower Karangasem Regency. My tour guide was Han, a local who offered to take me around the region. His tour turned out to be the perfect wrap up to my time in Bali.
There really is no experience like the one you can get from a local showing you around. I got a personalized tour of the region with opportunities to learn about Indonesian culture and take in some of the sights on my own terms. Han ended up driving me to 5 separate locations, including a traditional Bali village, two water palaces, a chocolate and soap factory, and a chilled-out, sandy beach. Below, I describe my experiences visiting each of these places, but the real story to share is how wonderfully well-rounded Han had made this tour.
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!
Deviating the norm is all about remaining true to your authentic self. This means constantly looking within to identify which path or direction you'd like to take on your journey. Solo travel is the best kind of travel for becoming an expert at tuning into your own needs and desires. When you allow those innermost needs and wants to lead you, you evade the guidance of some prescribed norm or the expectations of others.
As a solo traveler, I feel out a new place by looking within and deciding on my own time when it's right to move on to a new destination. I quickly felt out of place when I arrived in Ubud. I wasn't connecting to it in the way I had thought I would—and that's okay! Not every place we go will be a good fit. I came to appreciate many aspects of Ubud during my stay. However, there were two prominent features that were missing for me: a body of water and mountains. I realized these features are truly the bread and butter to my happiness as a solo traveler. Now was the time to embrace it.
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.
For my first 4 days in Bali, Indonesia, I traveled to the Nusas ("Islands") to the south east for a bit of adventure and respite. Bali is often associated with young backpackers who travel there to party hard and work on their tans. This may be true of areas like Kuta beach on the mainland, but on the Nusas the atmosphere is much less crowded and much more relaxed.
While staying on Nusa Lembongan, I had the opportunity to explore the entire island and cycle over to the smaller, even more remote Nusa Ceningan. Both of these tiny islands offered beauty, adventure, culture, and a place to put up your feet. Here are 9 things to do and see if you go!
I’ve visited many cities during my travels, falling in love over and over again with each. Cities like Reykjavik, Berlin, Chiang Mai, Wellington, and Melbourne all captured my heart in different ways. But I did not fall in love with any of these cities like I fell in love with Singapore.
The Singapore Government poured $35 million into one area of the city—Marina Bay. Money well spent, as the product is a masterpiece of architectural wonders, floral landscaping, and waterfront beautification. I could not stop snapping photos during my few hours spent between flights here. Marina Bay easily left me in awe with the city as a whole. Now I know I must go back—especially to see it at night and to stay at its mesmerizing, world class hotel.
Singapore is a city state and Southeast Asian island country next to Malaysia. And it’s small. At only 278 square miles (719 sq km), Singapore is an easy city to see during a long layover between flights. I flew into Singapore Changi airport at about 6AM from Auckland, New Zealand. My next flight was not until 9PM. This was more than enough time to see a bit of Singapore city.
The only problem was I had not done any research before my arrival! Was there public transportation? Could I leave my baggage at the airport? Where in the city should I go first? Find out how I got around and where I ended up in the first part of this post!
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.
On a remote island like Niue, getting to know the locals is as easy as stepping outside your guesthouse door. A cultural exchange with a local was bound to happen—we just had no idea when or how. We met the Tongia family from nearby Tonga on our 3rd day in Niue. Palemia, a shuttle driver for Matavai resort, gave us a ride home from dinner.
He then offered Jono a chance at free diving with a local spear-fisherman. As a thanks, we offered to help him and his wife, Louna, with their farm work. We ended up planting potatoes through the middle of the night and enjoying other wonderful cultural exchanges with this delightful little Tongan family who live and work in Niue.
Never heard of Niue (pronounced “new-ay”)? I hadn’t heard of this island country either until about 2 months ago when I booked my trip there. Niue is a tiny little island in the South Pacific—and it’s so special you’re going to be longing to go by the end of this post.
People don’t come to Niue for its beaches and resorts—there’s only one sandy beach and one resort there! Instead, the few visitors to the “Rock of Polynesia” fly there for its exceptional diving and snorkeling, its unbelievable geography and coastal views, and its vibrant culture and friendly people. These and many other unique characteristics have easily made Niue my favorite travel destination yet! I wish I had known to put it on my bucket list sooner.