The Boring Side of Backpacking: Killing Time, Being Productive, and Relaxing for a Second

The day after I left my hostel job, I used some points on a hotel and absolutely crashed. I had plans to go to a Firefly Park with friends, but I was overwhelmed and retreated. The moment my head hit the (four!) pillows (luxury!), I realized that I was completely, utterly exhausted. I could barely move. I didn’t leave the building for the next 24 hours…I extended my stay another night because I needed to get my energy back and make a game plan. My flight to Australia wasn’t until the 12th of October…and it was the 23rd of September. I had originally booked a trip to Bali, but fears of Mt. Agung’s possible eruption kept me in Malaysia. (The alert level for the airport was one step away from completely shutting down, and I had a cat to sit. Honestly, if I didn’t have obligations in Australia, I might have risked getting stuck in the world of the Yoga Barn.) I had a very limited budget, a weak source of freelancing income, over two weeks before my flight to Australia, and no plan…so I had to kill some time.

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A Southern Bohemian Barn Wedding in South Carolina!

Phew! The craziest 12 weeks of 2017 (granted, the only 12 weeks of 2017) are behind me, and a few weeks of working, relaxing, and exploring Austin are ahead. The calm before the storm, if you will. (fingers crossed that Andrew and I don’t encounter any storms when we are in Asia. I jinxed it, didn’t I?) The craziness has ended after a big roadtrip to Charleston, South Carolina, for a southern bohemian barn wedding!

When Devon, my friend from high school, asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, it was over the phone, and I thought I had misheard (still said, “yes,” obviously,) because we hadn’t been in touch for a while. Devon holds a very special place in my heart as a friend that I’ve known since I was 10. We don’t talk much (blame can be placed equally on both of us) but I was so relieved and ecstatic to arrive in Charleston and run into the same old Dev. Just, you know, with a diploma, a full-time job, a (now) husband, baby, and dog named Ernie. She’s the type of friend that you agree to drive 1,200 miles to even if you’re not exactly sure what they asked you to do for their wedding. (The bridesmaid thing was eventually cleared up and I emoted a second round of squeals of excitement.)

So my boyfriend and I packed up my yoga mat, some road trip snacks, and more Lush products than I will ever plan on bringing backpacking. (I decided to do my own hair.) A road trip sounded mighty fine to me after staying in the same city for three months straight.

First things first: No one will be able to top this wedding. 

If you’ve been on Pinterest, imagine a more beautiful wedding than you’ve ever pinned. I write with Stefon’s voice in my head: “this wedding had everything.” Chalkboards. Flowers in mason jars. String lights everywhere. A photobooth with a Polaroid camera. They had an old-fashioned car that we took photos with. Beers in wheelbarrows. Meat that had been smoked for 14 hours. (I didn’t partake, but my mouth did water.)

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Pictures by fellow bridesmaid Caitlin LeMoine!

 

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Photo by Caitlin LeMoine.

God, I still can’t get over how picture-perfect this wedding was. It was in a barn next to a marsh that held an alligator (and six-eight babies, allegedly) but no babies or dogs were eaten on the big day.

(I’m writing this soon after the wedding, so the photographer’s pictures are not up yet. I’ll update this post later when they’re ready! There’s a very cute one where Devon and I recreate a picture from our junior prom, so get ready.)

What I’ve always loved about Devon is that while she is extremely smart, professional, and has her head on her shoulders, she still dances to the beat of her own drum (or strings of her own cello, which she played in high school.) I must admit, I worried that I wouldn’t know a wedding tradition that would be followed during the rehearsal dinner/ceremony, or that not doing my hair would leave me underdressed. Devon hasn’t changed, because to hell with (some) tradition.

I’ll leave it at this. Seeing a friend that I grew up with walk her own damn self down the aisle, in her grandmother’s wedding dress, wearing a flower crown in her hair was one of the most empowering and fantastic sights I’ve ever witnessed.

The ceremony was beautiful. The vows were beautiful. The bride and groom were bursting with love.

The mac n’ cheese was dope. The band was insane. The dancing was almost too much to handle.

This wedding was certainly one to beat, with a perfect mix of tradition, elegance, and downright fun. I would drive from Austin to Charleston and back again in a heartbeat for a few more Yuenglings and a swig of bourbon from one of the groomsmen.

I’ll cheers to that. Also, can we talk about this bridesmaid outfit? I’ve already decided that the skirt is coming with me when I go backpacking.

Speaking of the drive…

I drove for over 40 hours with my boyfriend and still think he’s pretty darn cute!

When I found out I was going to be a bridesmaid, I jokingly told my mom I had six months to find a +1 that would drive me to South Carolina. When you ask, you shall receive, I guess. I wouldn’t have agreed to date someone who didn’t like road trips, sleeping in cars, and stopping for the night or two in a tent, but I luckily in December I started dating the most patient, ~chill,~ fun guy in this part of Texas. Jeremy and I left Austin on a Tuesday night to check in at an AirBNB on a Thursday morning. We left Charleston on a Sunday morning and got home Monday night. We each camped for one night each way, first in South Carolina, and then in Mississippi.

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Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina

The road trip consisted of lots of Radiolab podcasts, discussions about politics, stargazing, and eventually, leftover mac n’ cheese in take-home containers. On the way home, I randomly suggested stopping in Dallas for tacos before the last leg of the trip, and without any thought, Jeremy agreed. I don’t have much experience in relationships (despite, having been in, erm, some, I would like to think I have absolutely no experience in relationships) but I know that someone who doesn’t mind sitting with you in a coffee shop for a few hours while you send in some work (I have the pleasure of working remotely) or driving a bit out of the way to get tacos is a catch.

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Of course, I’m going to add a picture of the tacos. Fried Paneer and Nashville Hot Tofu from Velvet Taco in Dallas. 10/10, worth every minute of trying to navigate the highways in Dallas.

I don’t know why I attempted to joke that the road trip would be in anyway a test of our relationship, because it was a great experience, there and back. (Ok, I got mad when he turned a little bit and sent the dirt of our succulents flying throughout the passenger seat, but we survived, didn’t we?)

It’s nice to reminisce. I promise. 

This post is getting to be way longer than I expected, even though it can’t fully encompass the fun I had during the road trip. I’ll leave you with this.

I may just have a bad memory, but I tend to block out my high school years. I feel like a completely different person sang at Carnegie Hall, drove a Subaru Outback, or played the oboe. I talk to my friends from high school occasionally, if not rarely. I feel detached, as I often allow myself to be. Revisiting such a close friendship was not only fun and silly, but reminded me of how lucky I am to have gone to the high school I went to, with the upbringing I had. I was given amazing opportunities by growing up in Doylestown. I left happy memories, and beautiful people, back in the town where I grew up. My friendship with Devon is one of many that shaped me to be who I am. I can only begin to acknowledge the privilege I hold from going to a fantastic school and being surrounded by wonderful people at an early age.

Don’t be afraid to find the people you’ve lost touch with; you may be surprised to find that despite the years and milestones that have come between your friendships, you can pick right back up.

I have more posts coming up, including my first online yoga flow! I thank you for reading, and hope to see you here in the future! Namaste.

 

 

 

January 15, 2017.

I apologize if this post reads as frantic or a bit rushed.

I’ve been pressuring myself to share the moment I’m living in with you; there’s no Beat Broke Backpacking without my loved ones, faraway friends, and anyone who stumbles upon this blog for whatever reason. The past few weeks I’ve been challenged to think about why I want to go further with this project. What are my intentions? What am I willing to compromise? Can I sum my mission for Beat Broke Backpacking up in a sentence? How has that changed?

(More on that below.)

I have also felt pressured to share because each moment disappears so quickly. Since the New Year, I’ve hit so many turning points that I need something for nausea.

I’m writing this from yoga teacher training (we’re on lunch break.) I could go on and on in additional posts about my love for yoga (and I will, and I have) but I’ll have to focus.

You know that beautiful feeling when you realize you’re actually taking the action you’ve been dreaming up for months, years, etc.? That was present in every moment and every pose during my first flow of my first class. Since I’ve moved to Austin I’ve been saving for this training by working two jobs (one was always full-time.) In hindsight, I could have flipped my thinking into appreciating every moment heading to and from work as taking action toward my daydreams, but hindsight’s 20/20. Every moment from now until July I’ll be taking action toward the big plan (or lack thereof) my thoughts have drummed up since I got back from backpacking in September 2015.

My best friend and I purchased plane tickets to Bangkok that leave on July 5. His ticket is roundtrip and mine is one-way. After six weeks backpacking around Southeast Asia, he’s going back to work. The pages in my planner are left blank.

I would still be doing teacher training if I planned on putting a down payment on a house in Austin and staying here for my foreseeable future. But I’ve known for a while that this training is going to take me across continents. Yoga is everywhere, and it serves as the one form of universal expression I am comfortable using to connect with and show my love for everyone I meet.

I don’t want to have set plans for after Andrew leaves Asia; maybe I’ll hit up all of the places I will hear about in hostels, maybe I’ll stay in Bangkok, maybe that’s when I’ll head to Australia.

I am almost finished applying for my working holiday visa…where I hear they have quite a decent market for yoga.

Up until now this post is anti-climactic; I’m going to Asia aaaaaand…then what?

That’s why I’m going to revisit this blog. I won’t be posting every week again at first…I’m still working 55 hours a week on top of teacher training. But I want to make myself vulnerable and share my plans for BBB. I write full-time. I would like to use BBB as a project and experiment with making it a full-time job, while still keeping the integrity of what I want to share and promote. I want to explore making a career out of writing, out of traveling, out of being a travel writer. The moment I first picked up travel guides I knew it was possible to pursue my passions and make it a living. So I’m going to give it a try.

Buying my plane ticket to Asia was not as scary as writing this post because in July, it’s pretty set in stone that I’ll be on that plane. (Andrew and I even got seats next to each other after a hot mess of trying to book through different sites.) Trying to manifest my vision for this blog is terrifying because there is so much gray area. What will I consider “successful?” Can a blog that I completely control even “fail?” I know what the end result should look like, but I don’t even know how to begin.

The road ahead is foggy. I’ve been told to expect a lot of rain in July in Southeast Asia. But I’ve made a promise to myself since the beginning of teacher training that I would appreciate each moment and my effort to run (work, stand, fold, plank, downward dog, whatever) toward this new adventure.

So I move forward.

Finding Balance in the Windy City

Revisiting Chicago has always been something on my travel to-do list and luckily, I have an excuse to go whenever I want. My lovely sister lives in Lincoln Park, and she was moving into a new apartment when I went to visit.

Best sister ever, right? I flew over 1,000 miles to help her move.

I was able to get back into the travel groove with an old vice: art museum hopping. And guys, Chicago did not disappoint. I managed to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art the day before “Surrealism: The Conjured Life” ended its run. (If you’ve heard me talk about my trip to Figueres, you’ll know I’d go to any lengths to immerse myself in some good Surrealism.) My sister led me through the Art Institute of Chicago, which may have bumped a museum in my Top 5 out of its place. Hearing how much my father and grandmother enjoyed this museum when they visited was also super sweet.

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I also took a trip around Lincoln Park and played around with my travel camera! This is my favorite shot from the week.

Chicago was also a test of sorts. Since I can write for my job anywhere (with Wi-Fi), I wanted to see how I could manage working and traveling. I also tried to squeeze in as many yoga classes as I could, and shows, visiting friends who happened to be in Chicago, touristy food spots, buying stuff for my sister’s apartment…

Picking my “real life” up and moving it to a chilly, windy city was a little jolting. I was trying to live the working life while playing tourist and also big sister. At times, I couldn’t find the right balance and felt like I was letting myself or my sister down.

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Sneaking into DePaul’s library to finish assignments and grab Wi-Fi was actually quite lovely….

Shit really hit the fan when I went to a yoga class that I did not vibe with, at all. It wasn’t a bad class by any means; there were different poses and sequences that I really enjoyed! But here I was again, caught finding the perfect balance of separate lovely and stressful experiences. I felt wobbly. Not a good feeling when you know you’ve got to head into tree pose.

To ride out the tipping scales, I found myself going back to a little nugget of yoga knowledge that I’ve heard in various ways the past couple weeks: accept the pose. Whether you’re in a passive child’s pose or an excruciating chair, you’ve got to accept it. You’re here. I found myself using, “This is where I am” as a mantra in yoga, and throughout my day. In a bagel shop, on the train observing Chicago’s beautiful buildings, or enjoying some quality time with my sister, “This is where I am.”

It makes stressful moments bearable and sweet moments even more enjoyable.

Chicago was a learning experience and a great trip; I became more confident in my ability to balance work, travel, and life simultaneously. For now I’m back in Austin, but stay tuned for where I find myself next…

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Bonus Picture: I spent two days working at this coffee shop called the Bourgeois Pig and gushed with a barista over Father John Misty because what else are you going to do at a place called Bourgeois Pig?

“What are your plans for after graduation?”

That’s a great question, professors/parents/relatives at Christmas/concerned friends/bosses.

As of right now, I have 15 weeks until my graduation from Temple University, one class left to complete a degree in Strategic Communications, a few personal statements desperate for a review, and a one-way plane ticket from Newark to London that leaves on June 22.

I have a Couchsurfing account and a WWOOF subscription. I have three open tabs on Chrome titled, “The Best Camping Accessory….”, “Syllabus Spanish 1001”, and “Eurail Pass”. I don’t have a lot of savings (currently), I don’t have much of a plan, and I don’t have any experience living or traveling in Europe.

I have to remind myself as I step out into what is apparently only called the “real” world post-diploma, that this “real” life isn’t measured by your “haves”.

Instead.

I enjoy storytelling, reading, writing; I enjoy hiking, meeting new people, helping people, coffee, vegetables, and getting my hands dirty working outside. I enjoy writing a blog. As of right now, these are my plans for after graduation.

A roundabout way of saying I don’t have employment in the near future.

Follow this blog to follow my journey figuring out how to grab a backpack and a notebook to make the most of Europe. Tips, comments, messages are appreciated!