Travel Does Not Cure Anxiety.

travel anxiety

Backpacking is booking a flight to Bali on a whim, dreaming of The Yoga Barn and walking through the Monkey Forest. Everyone at the yoga retreat in Cambodia encouraged a trip to Bali. Your mom wants you to go. You haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love, but you know a thing about heartbreak and could use a chat with a monk and a juice cleanse. Your Instagram following could use a boost and what’s $3 a night for accommodation? Sigh. Shrug. Pleasant ‘mmm.’

Backpacking is uncontrollable sobbing in your hostel dorm, sending a flurry of contradictory messages to people who are on the other side of the world, who are ready to go to bed or go out for the night. Something, which you’ve been sure was ‘hormones’ the past two days, has a grip on each of your lungs and each of your eyes, relentless. You’re out of balance and out of control and wondering at what point you’re going to have to accept your personal definition of “failure” and book the flight back home.

Backpacking is both of these events happening at the same time.

Continue reading “Travel Does Not Cure Anxiety.”

This Isn’t Just a Story.

“I got into this business because I love stories. They comfort us, they inspire us, they create a context for how we experience the world, but also you have to be careful because if you spend a lot of time with stories, you start to believe that life is just stories. And it’s not. Life is life. And that’s so … sad … because there’s so little time … and what are we doing with it?”

Princess Carolyn opens the Season 4 finale of Bojack Horseman with these questions. If you wait too long to hit the pause button, you’re quickly ushered away from the drama by the ridiculousness of the adult cartoon, which features a wild amount of animal puns and some of the most devastating plot lines I’ve watched on television. I’ve already talked my coworkers’ ears off about the pure genius of this television show, so I’ll spare you.

Continue reading “This Isn’t Just a Story.”

The Best and Worst Things About Living in a Hostel, As Told By RuPaul’s Drag Race GIFs

This post is for a bit of a niche audience, eh?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been living and Workaway-ing in a hostel in Kuala Lumpur. Hostel life is definitely a unique experience, whether you’re working for accommodation or just staying for a few nights. Every hostel is different, and every night is different depending on the people that are staying for the night, but in general, you’ll find great things (and not so great things) at every hostel. To make things fun, I added GIFs from Drag Race. No reason. I just miss watching Drag Race every week.

All images are via RuPaul’s Drag Race, in case you were not aware. Just feel like I had to say it.

Continue reading “The Best and Worst Things About Living in a Hostel, As Told By RuPaul’s Drag Race GIFs”

Chiang Rai, The White Temple, and Navigating Southeast Asia as an Embarrassed American

Chiang Rai, The White Temple, And Navigating Southeast Asia as an Embarrassed American

Hey everyone! Megan here. My laptop is up and running, so I’ve been working on some posts for you all!

This post, however, is going to be a bit different. My original plan was to write posts about backpacker destinations in Southeast Asia based on the order in which I visited them. This post is more important. This post is long. This post gets into American politics. This post makes me anxious. It addresses tragedy and war and embarrassment. Just a warning. Here we go.

Continue reading “Chiang Rai, The White Temple, and Navigating Southeast Asia as an Embarrassed American”

Just a Shout Out to All My Friends Who Sell Cool Stuff

Getting down to the wire! Soon you’ll be bombarded with gorgeous photos of Thailand, Cambodia, and Australia.

But for this post, I’m gonna switch the spotlight over to some amazing people in my life who are making some cool stuff. Y’all, it’s so important to support your friends who are making some cool stuff. Coming from someone who briefly had an Etsy shop, the support of friends and friends-of-friends is more touching and beautiful than I can accurately describe. This support creates a connection and a validation that is hard to find as a small business owner or artist, especially when we are constantly being bombarded with products and brands and ads and algorithms fueled by corporations who have more money, reach, and resources than small business owners have when they start out.

Continue reading “Just a Shout Out to All My Friends Who Sell Cool Stuff”

I’m Leaving My Relationship To Travel, Which Oddly Made Our Relationship Even Better

An ex-boyfriend told me once that I shouldn’t see psychics because they communicated with the devil. I try and go to a psychic every year.

This year, I decided there was no better place to have my palms and tarot cards read than in New Orleans. I had been having pretty terrible luck with relationships, and just needed someone to point me in the right direction when it came to many areas of my life. The woman in Jackson Square flipped over a King of Swords, raised her eyebrow, and told me that in a few days I would meet an intellectually driven man who would have a big influence on the next year of my life. She neglected to tell me that I would meet him on Tinder.

Continue reading “I’m Leaving My Relationship To Travel, Which Oddly Made Our Relationship Even Better”

Turning Fear Into Gratitude

It would be too simple to say that I’m scared of the dark, but let’s go for it.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve spent hours in bed awake at night, fearing that someone would break into my home while my eyes were still open. This fear has followed me into many spaces, including my apartment when I’m home alone and my childhood home that had multiple stories. I know these fears are not irrational – they feel quite silly to admit – but my fear has started to get in the way of how I want to live my life. (I make eight hours of sleep a priority, and I can’t achieve that when I’m tossing and turning, worrying about how much I’ll be worrying when I’m camping or sleeping in strange hostel beds in stranger countries.)

On one of my more recent adventures, fear latched onto my heart, brain, and body, while I was camping in Mississippi. Just picture this. You’ve set up camp around 10 P.M. without seeing a soul as you drive into the campsite. There’s a lit bathroom across the path, and an RV displaying hanging lights in the distance, but the rest of your vision is unpopulated. There’s no cell phone service, either. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say that I had shaking fears for hours of getting murdered.

Again, I know that my fears, to a point, are rational. I don’t assume that my fears are unique or speak to anxiety that particularly needs attention. As I picture my death and obituary, or picture being face-to-face with someone who wants to break into my home and cause me harm, I constantly tell myself that I’m thinking irrationally. I don’t do anything irrational due to my fears. (I’ve dragged my boyfriend to sleep in his car, rather than a tent, only once.) I’m writing about fear because I think it presents an interesting opportunity to have gratitude.

I really should be grateful for my health, the sunrise, and all that I have been given, every single day, without a reminder. We all should…but that’s not always how we see things. Gratitude can be tricky: it usually takes a misfortune for anyone to pay attention to the positive things we’ve been given. Often, we are grateful only after we’ve compared our lives or situations to others…something that is otherwise an ineffective and dangerous thing to do.

While I work on taming these fears to the point where I’m only momentarily scared of an axe murderer in an otherwise peaceful and beautiful campsite, I’ve added a new mantra when I get especially nervous or afraid.

“Tomorrow’s sunrise will be so beautiful.” 

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I thought of this mantra once afternoon when I had quite the headache after trying a headstand and could not stop thinking about internal bleeding in my brain (bear with me here.) I can’t use a mantra that will outright tell my brain that my fears are wrong; it’s not going to be effective. So I’ve decided to slide in a positive message between every few thoughts. This message is not only positive, but it travels into the next day. The mantra sets me up for a morning of gratitude. Gratitude, as I’ve learned recently, is an absolutely refreshing way to start off the day.

I woke up in Mississippi to a sunrise over a lake near our campsite that was new to us in the daylight. My sun salutations were charged with gratitude. Rather than rolling my eyes at worrying over absolutely nothing, I was able to start my morning off on a positive, humble, thankful note.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working on taming my fears. After all, my future plans involve traveling across the world alone (again) and eventually making a bus or a campervan my home. So let’s figure this out together. What are your mantras when you’re scared? How do you handle anxiety in the dark? Let me know in the comments!!

Thank you for reading. Namaste!

Beat, Broke, Backpacking is nominated for Versatile Blogger Award!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award! Even with new projects, jobs, and training, I want to shake the dust off of BBB and arrive in Southeast Asia prepared to share my journey. Beat, Broke, Backpacking started as a way to document an open-ended backpacking trip, and I hope to keep leaving the pages in my planner blank to experience whatever life throws at me. Anyway…

Who Nominated Me?

I would love to thank Dot from DOT On Her Way for the nomination. I feel like I’m still figuring out the whole blog world, and it seems like Dot’s got…just about everything figured out. From hanging wallpaper to traveling through Iceland, DOT On Her Way will answer all of your questions for traveling and living the good life.

7 Random Facts about me

As acceptance of this nomination by Dot, here are 7 random facts about me:

  1. I’ve worked for Lush Cosmetics off and on for about four years and in two different stores!
  2. The best hostel I’ve ever stayed in was Grateful Dead themed. Shout out to the Mamas and Papas hostel!
  3. In my junior year of high school, I sang at Carnegie Hall on Easter Sunday.
  4. I sleep in a sleeping bag every night because I think it’s more comfy (and I’m too lazy to buy a real comforter.)
  5. My full-time job includes writing for criminal defense lawyers, real estate agents, and relationship therapists!
  6. Cancer, Moon in Leo, Cancer Ascending.
  7. I just started yoga teacher training in January, but I’ve known I wanted to be a yoga teacher since I “taught” a class to two friends while we were staying at a hotel in Poland!

Versatile Blogger Award Rules

  • Publicly thank the person who nominated you, linking to their blog so everyone else can see how great they are.
  • Pay it forward and select nominees you think are deserving this award. Some of the criteria’s to get the nomination are:
    • the quality of the writing
    • the uniqueness of the subjects covered
    • the quality of the photographs
  • Tell all of these people 7 random things about yourself, and ask your nominees to do the same.

My Nominations

Congratulations to all my nominees. Please read the Versatile Blogger Award Rules above to accept your nomination. Wishing you all the best to my fellow bloggers and let’s keep encouraging each other.

  1. Kayla Blogs – I can barely keep my bed made for five minutes, so I envy Kayla’s ability to organize in the midst of working and going to college. Kayla Blogs is your best resources for planner reviews, book recommendations, or how to travel and stay on top of a busy life.
  2. How Are Ju – America truly looks beautiful through Ju’s lens. Her landscape photos, from Grand Teton National Park to Riverside Drive in Austin, are simply stunning.
  3. Dreamista – Anna knows how to travel in style! She’s the brains and beauty behind Dreamista, a travel, fashion, and lifestyle blog that has you covered no matter where you want to go.
  4. Green Travel Guru – If you’re inspired by these eco warriors, you can grab green products right off of their site! Gijs and Annabeth are committed to keeping their travels green and sustainable, no matter where they go!
  5. Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok – Keeping this one in my back pocket for July! Nancy Chandler is an American artist with a knack for illustrating the beauty in Southeast Asia’s most exciting cities.

Detached and Attached Again: How Traveling Questioned My Connections

“How long are you staying?”

I find myself becoming attached to Austin. Places and events, usually. I feel an overwhelming sense of dread when it comes to leaving this city but I’m also plagued with stomachaches, ravenous desires to backpack and move again. I couldn’t think of pursuing yoga teacher training in another city, for example, and I can barely handle missing class on Wednesday nights. I’ve got a favorite drink at a favorite bar. SXSW, I can’t leave Austin before another SXSW. But every day I look in the mirror and tell myself I can’t stay here for much longer. I fantasize over plane tickets. I shy away from year-long leases.

I traced the roots of my tug-of-war on a Saturday night, around midnight. I’m exhausted by the idea of developing deep personal connections, but the lack of these friendships or relationships just fuel the fire that only a plane ticket can put out.

I constantly feel alone, and I blame it on staying in one place. I rely on and long for the romance of single-serving friends, you know, the ones The Narrator mentions in Fight Club before meeting Tyler Durden? The Polish women at Open’er who cackled with me and my friend over Italian men and flip cup. An Australian in a Madrid hostel who told me about a great website for finding hostel jobs. The girls in my hostel room from Brighton who met up with me at a bar after a Tinder date. I couldn’t tell you any of their names, and they don’t remember mine. Attached and detached, without the obligations or expectations of meeting again.

I harshly and unapologetically place these expectations on myself and others when I’m stuck in one place. As a result, I have always felt permanently detached. In every group of friends I’ve ever had I’ve felt like a visitor, an outsider that was accepted, but didn’t belong. The weight of this old pain is just starting to suppress my breathing again. Rejected invitations, for whatever reason, send me into a tailspin. Sharing personal stories in a group closes my throat up. Single-serving friends…they let me enjoy my time. I breathe easier. I’m free to love and share positive energy, without the grasp of any social anxiety.

Admitting this feels unfair. This isn’t a post pointing the blame on a city or the souls of Austin that have welcomed me with open arms and every opportunity in the book. I place more blame, and do so with nothing but love, on moving from place to place. Especially now, maintaining relationships in one place has been overwhelming because I’ve given and received so much energy with other parts of the world.

Traveling doesn’t detach you from a single place just to spite you; there’s only so much of your heart to spare. For every whisper of loneliness I feel in the quiet moments around my house, I feel a longing to where another part of my heart is resting. I created Horcruxes while backpacking.

My heart is broken, but beating and shining, hiding, in different corners of the world. I just know there are stories waiting to be written, between two mysterious, beautiful buildings in Barcelona. Shreds of my heart and a stomachache waiting to happen lay quivering at a bus stop in Edinburgh. I picture my fingerprints on a metal balcony, overlooking Warsaw.  Exasperated energy still lingers in Copenhagen, where I discovered I was just living one big dream. Even the places I’ve never seen – I know there are people to love and things to learn and stories to be exchanged. Where will I leave a piece of me next?

When I think I lack connection in a single city, I remember that in fact, we’re all connected to each other, everywhere, infinitely. This lets me sink in comfortably to my armchair, but at the same time fires me up to fall in love with the next city and the next soul. I’m torn, to sum it up in two words. I have no immediate solution. So I find rest in the words of my good friend, Jack: “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”