As the holidays wrap up, so will my time at Lush in Brisbane. My sixth Christmas slinging bath bombs gifted me amazing friends and a wild appreciation for Australian pay rates. I’m sad to go but have to move on to New Zealand. While Becky and I are taking a big road trip in the Ilanamobile, I’ll be working about 10 hours a week for my copywriting job (I was doing about 5 while I was working at Lush.) The 10 hours of work will go toward day to day expenses (although I have a majority of them saved up from Lush,) and American taxes.
Backpacking doesn’t follow the timeline or the rules of everyday life. You often have to condense all a country has to offer into a month or a week. Days of the week don’t mean a damn thing. A free towel or breakfast makes or breaks your accommodation decisions. This adventure can change your life, but you’ll have to adjust the way you live it for a few months as you travel.
I am heading on a road trip around New Zealand next month (read more about it here), so I’ll need a few extra items in my backpack. Luckily, Christmas is coming, and my parents have been asking me what I would like, so I figured I would turn it into a blog post!
I had never been so happy to put away dishes. My remains of my breakfast waited patiently to be washed down the drain as I emptied the dishwasher. I thought about the last time I had touched a dishwasher. Two weeks ago, I was praying that I wasn’t going to open the door to a squat toilet. Now I had a bathtub.
My itinerary for the day included opening an Australian bank account, getting an ice cream sandwich, and wandering around the Gallery of Modern Art. If the itinerary was pushed back or completely washed away by the rain outside, I wasn’t going to get upset. The train would be running tomorrow, and banks, museums, and bars would be open for the next five weeks. Plus, I hadn’t had a job yet; the longer I stayed in the dining room listening to King Krule and drinking coffee, the less money I would be spending. I wanted to knit, but Baymax was sleeping on my yarn – I knew if I was sleeping, I wouldn’t want to be disturbed over a (potential) scarf. I hadn’t been up for more than a few hours, but I was ready for a nap too.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.
Hey friends! If you have ever talked to me one-on-one about places I’ve been, you know I love giving travel advice. Why else would I have a travel blog, right? Once I find a cute coffee shop or great live music venue, I want to share it with everyone. (If anyone needs me to plan their trip to Austin, Texas, I will make sure you are well fed and your ears are filled with great music.)
Wondering what to pack for Southeast Asia? Look no further. Yogis, techies, and backpackers, welcome!
Southeast Asia is a foodie’s paradise, but I have to admit, I was a little nervous to start eating street food, or any type of food, as a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for close to four years now, and love my meat-free lifestyle. I have to admit that when I meet other vegetarians, or hear that a friend has cut meat out of their life, I do a little happy dance!
Vegetarian travelers, never fear. I have had no problems sticking to meat-free meals while in Southeast Asia. I’m happy to say that Kuala Lumpur (where I will be staying for the next few weeks) has been the easiest place to eat vegetarian in Southeast Asia. Why? I have the help of a fantastic app called KindMeal.
Let’s make a budget! Sexy! Exciting! Totally going to go as planned!
Budgeting isn’t fun, but it’s essential for beat, broke backpackers like me. Hindsight is 20/20 and about $20 more than I thought I was going to have to pay to visit Angkor Wat. I loved Siem Reap, Cambodians are super sweet, but there were a couple hidden expenses that I would like to share with anyone making a budget. So let’s begin!
I’ve got an exciting update: Andrew and I have planned our route! We’re doing a circle for about 5 1/2 weeks, hitting Bangkok, Koh Phagnan, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh, Dalat, Chiang Mai, and Pai. Phew!
Having this part of the planning completed has revealed the reality of other parts of the trip for me. Namely, oh my god I have to go fly to Australia and get a job and not run out of money but maybe stay in Southeast Asia for a bit first and get a job I need to get a job it has been 2 weeks since my last full-time job oh my god.
In the past few months, while being jostled around by family reunions and summer vacations, I’ve been greedily collecting ideas, plans, maps, and dreams. Rather than a fire burning or a star bursting, I’ve been feeling like a box inside of me was shrinking, and I was stuffing more into it:
things I wanted to discuss in a coffee shop
projects I wanted to start now
phrases and ramblings and pictures.
These ideas, not being unleashed, were beginning to feel stale.
I’ve learned the only solution this is to stuff a bag full of clothes and notebooks, and head to somewhere fresh.
I spent a blink of an eye in New Orleans. I was able to wander through the cemeteries and fall in love (again) with a city that demands your attention to experience both an otherworldly presence and very real history. From the moment I walked into the Museum District, the soft pain and spooky intrigue of New Orleans that I had fell in love with while reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles last summer jumped in front of me like one of the many blaring saxophone solos I jumped for on Frenchman Street.
The words in Chronicles that defined New Orleans for me faded away and I replaced them with discussions, stories, and permanent words scribbled into a notebook over a French market crepe or quiet moment at Greenwood cemetery.
(Backpacking stories, hostel whisperings, local and tourist recommendations alike.)
These stories are not familiar, and the words become rearranged in every city you visit.
Hostel residents tend to tell the same story, but with a new twist every time. Where-you-headed-next and where-have-you-beens were exchanged, and as usual, I felt the simultaneous groan and a smile that comes from adding a new destination to my mental bucket list (this time, Costa Rica won out as the top dream.)
Quick run-ins and small chats brought your world in close with a tight squeeze and shrunk your story to a quick flip of a few pages.
The bartender at the shack whose name you hear whispered through the grapevine will tell you your future, finally humoring you until you’ve exhausted the thoughts that have been tumbling in your head about where to move and the pain you’ve felt looking at the artists giving it a go in the corners of galleries around the city.
The tarot reader in Jackson Square will tell you what she sees in your face and what you’re aching for in your bones. You’re hit with a smack in the face once you pop out of the bubble of introversion to discuss her cards, realizing your future is yours to write anyway, you don’t even remember her name.
. . .
I write these words as I sit on a Megabus seat bumping through Texas. I’m reflecting on my trip, my gratitude, and I feel my energy being restored. Anyone who asks me if I’m an introvert while in a crowd of people will see the bashful answer on my face before I say, “Oh yeah.” I have to be alone to fill up. I opted out of my reserved seat on the Megabus today (a loss of a whole $1) to find a spot where I wouldn’t be surrounded by people. As I flew through the jobs on my to-do list (giving me the illusion I was flying through Louisiana,) I felt restored back to full.
My assignments for the day are done. My time in New Orleans has drawn to a gentle close, like finishing a good book with a long exhale, putting it back on your bookshelf with great care and knowing that in the future, you’ll revisit it once more with fresh eyes and a great yearning for a different interpretation of the story. It’s time to head back to “real life” now, with a clear mind and a refreshed determination to finally build my “what’s next.”