A couple of weeks ago I was having a Twitter conversation with a personal friend about travel when she caught me off-guard: she thought I was still traveling full-time and writing freelance to fund my travels. While that was the case not so long ago, I have been working full-time again for longer than I’d like to acknowledge and doing freelance to pull in some extra cash on the side. Despite the fact that I work at a pretty demanding company and work roughly 45 hours a week, I still manage to squeeze in a ton of travel.
In fact, this year alone I’ve been to Florida twice, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and India. (Oh, and I moved to a totally new state–Georgia!) And I have plans for Vermont and the Bahamas coming up later this year, along with a few other trips in the works. It’s not impossible to maintain a full-time job and to still squeeze in a lot of travel–some of that international!
Probably my biggest regret in past travels was never giving myself some time to relax. Nobody really tells you how exhausting long-term and fast travel can be–you think you can keep going on this adrenaline rush, and maybe you can for a little while, but then you just sort of bottom out. And it’s miserable.
With several months of full-time travel, where I hopped between cities and countries every five or so days, I found myself getting burnt out quickly. And what that boiled down to for me was falling into little mini-depressions. I was so tired and so jaded that there were days when I truly did not even want to get out of bed. Here I was on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, exhausted and bemoaning my enviable lot in life. Knowing that only made it worse–that I was sad and tired but that many people would have killed to have been doing what I was doing and to have been where I was.
Given that I’m going to be working full-time again, I’m unsure how much time I’m going to spend outside of the US this year, but I’ve already requested three weeks off for two different trips that are in the works, so there’s potential!
Here are some places that are on my wish list this year. Hopefully I’ll get to check off at least a few of these!
Packing is typically people’s least favorite part of travel. Traveling for several months straight and unpacking and repacking my bag every few days has given me some insight on things that can make not only packing, but traveling a bit easier. Here are my top travel essentials! What do you not leave home without?
TSA Cable Lock: This is one of the best and cheapest investments you can possibly make. I purchased two: one for my big luggage and one for my daypack. The locks made me feel secure while in transit (on the plane, bus, train, etc.) and while staying in hotels and hostels. In places that didn’t have safes, I would either put everything in my bag and lock the bag itself or I’d throw my stuff in a locker and use one of the locks for that. I found the cable lock to be the best, as the ones with the stiff metal enclosure are difficult to fit through some zippers and some lockers.
When I was growing up, I had a wicked imagination. It ran wild with all sorts of ideas and stories, so it’s only fitting that I had and still have a deep and profound love for the written word and for well-crafted and well-written books.
In the past few years, I’ve read some incredible books. Ones that have not only inspired in me a love of the world, but also a love for the characters, and a deep desire to have just that: love. Love, in this context, doesn’t necessarily mean in a romantic way or even for another person, but just in general. A love of language, of culture, of countries, of people. So, because I’ve gotten great joy and felt deep connections to these books, I wanted to share them with you. Here are some books to inspire travel (and love) in your lives as well.
ISO 400; 18mm; f/3.5; 30 seconds
Seeing the Northern Lights was one of my all-time favorite experiences. It was one of those things I’d dreamed about for years and after watching them for a bit, I wanted some photos to remember the experience.
Photographing the Northern Lights isn’t difficult, but it takes the right equipment, the right weather, the right settings, and a bit of trial and error.
There are all kind of gadgets out there to make travel easier–some are completely worthless while others are almost essential, especially for longer-term trips. There are five things that I refuse to leave home without if I am traveling for more than a long weekend (or a beach-only vacation). Everything I travel with is relatively compact and lightweight as that’s imperative for me when packing. Additionally, I throw all of this stuff in my carry-on so that I always have it at arm’s length. So, what are my five essential electronic gadgets for travel?
I’m not the world’s foremost expert on solo female travel, but I have traveled around (at least) ten countries alone so I have a bit of insight on the subject. There are people on both sides of the fence regarding solo female travel–some are strongly for it and some are strongly against it. I fall on the side that stands strongly for it. While I don’t like always traveling alone, I think there’s something really special about going it solo–relying on yourself for every decision, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, etc. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and the world while traveling solo.
Before my very first solo trip, I was so nervous that my teeth were chattering and I swore my heart my burst. Things were a bit crazy, but I fell into a routine that was comfortable for me. Then, years later, when I decided to travel alone for an extended period of time, I was dreaming up every imaginable horrible thing that could possibly happen to me. I decided that the best way to go about it was to ease myself into the long-term solo travel by starting with an “easy” country. So, with that, here are my top solo female travel destinations.
For as long as I can remember, photography has been a part of my life. Before the age of digital cameras, I routinely carried a film camera with me everywhere I went–snapping photos of everything I could. I can’t even imagine the amount of money my parents spent on developing my endless photos of cats, friends giving each other bunny ears, and flowers in my mom’s garden.
When I was in high school, I got my first digital camera–a 1.3 MP camera that cost probably around $400 and took 4-AA batteries. It’s hard to believe that now, in a world where 15+ MP cameras cost $100 and take just one single rechargeable battery. In college, I shunned digital and went back to my roots: film. I was also knee-deep in photography classes and spending hours upon hours in the dark room, listening to either the Mars Volta or the Beatles depending upon my level of creativity, loading each negative into the enlarger, hopefully creating the image I wanted, and waiting anxiously as I watched it develop before my eyes, each bath revealing a bit more.
Around this time last year, I shared with you what I thought were the 10 Best iPhone Travel Apps. I still think all of those iPhone apps are amazing, but as technology advances and new apps appear every single day, other apps pop up on my radar and so I felt it was time to make an additional list of travel apps I’m using right now. After several months of solid travel, I can honestly say that using these (and the previous apps I highlighted) make life on the road so much easier.. and who doesn’t like to catch a break every now and again?