Since September 2015, without a foreseeable end in sight, I have been living out of suitcase. There isn’t a lot of rational behind where I go and when; I also haven’t figured out my preferred method of travel and planning. This life–in so many ways–is a beautiful, messy process.
up next: morocco: august 2018
peru: march-may 2018
Peru was an exciting trip because my friend met me in Lima to be my travel companion for three weeks. We stayed in Barranco, an amazing art neighborhood of Lima. We swam with sea wolves, went on walking tours, made new friends and enjoyed all the coffee shops we found.
From Lima we flew to Cusco with the sole intention of hiking the Inca Trail. We did it. I’m not saying it was pretty, but we did it. We also explored the Sacred Valley, and when my creative friend left Peru, I stayed in Cusco a week more to observe Santa Semana with the Andean people.
From Cusco I booked Peru Hop back to Lima, scheduling week-long stops at each city we passed through. In Puno I frequented the Central Market and spent the weekend on Lake Titicaca. In Arequipa, I spent a full day at the Santa Catalina Monastery and went on a three day hike through Colca Canyon.
Next I went to Nazca and met a culture that predated the Incas by 1500 years (and got into a single-engine plane to see the Nazca lines!). Afterwards, I went to Haucachina to hang out at the oasis and do some dune-buggy rides. Later in Paracus, I explored the national park there: a desert that falls off into the ocean!
- 16 foods and drinks to try while in Peru
- 8 best things to do in Lima
- 18 things that’ll make you a local-tourist in the Sacred Valley
- Everything I know about going to Machu Picchu
- My trek journal from the Inca Trail
- How I explored Peru and saw more than just Lima and Cusco
hop around usa, part 2: january-february 2018
After spending New Years in Chicago and visiting my high school bestie in New Hampshire, I made for the Big Apple to continue my obsession with Broadway. I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Anastasia.” From there I went back to Washington, D.C. for a few weeks to visits some favorites.
Then it was time for New Orleans! The reason for my trip was my Chicago friend’s 30th birthday and, of course, Mardi Gras. But I enjoyed roaming the city, exploring its history, unrelated to the party.
After New Orleans, I visited family in Arkansas and then friends in Oakland. One of the lesser-celebrated perks of working remotely is the freedom to visit the people you love for extended periods of time.
Here are my posts about the places I visited:
- 16 things I love to do in Chicago
- Favorites from “America After the Fall” exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute
- My 14 recommendations for New York City
australia: june-august 2017
My first stop in Australia is Sydney. I ended up spending a lot of time in Sydney, figuring out the odd-work schedule and making amazing new friends. I hike the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park, and ate incredible Asian foods.
Via a rental relocation, I drove the 12 hours north along the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane in a 12-passenger van. I stopped by Hunter Valley, Newcastle, a zoo with koala bears and kangaroos, Coff’s Harbour, The Big Banana Park and Byron Bay. Brisbane itself was an unexpected gem that I really enjoyed!
One of my bucket list items for Australia was the Great Barrier Reef, so I landed in Cairns with my Chicago friends… and then got stuck there. I found some opportunities for free scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and was determined to see sharks! I volunteered on a live abroad on a dive boat for 5 days.
From Cairns I flew to Adelaide to visit the Australian friends I met at Foz du Igaucu in January, 2016. They were wonderful hosts and showed me all around their beautiful home, including the Adelaide Hills and a few South Australian wineries.
I rented a car in Adelaide and drove south to Port Fairy and then east via the Great Ocean Road up to Melbourne. My last two weeks in Australia were spent in the cool, foodie, fun city of Melbs. I circled the beautiful La Trobe Reading Room to work and write, and I made dozens of amazing friends.
Here are my posts about Australia:
- 9 things I did to beat jet lag in Sydney, Australia
- 15 travel suggestions for Sydney, Australia
- 9 travel suggestions for the Blue Mountains
- Never alone in the Blue Mountains
- My 4-day road trip from Sydney to Brisbane
- Travel tips for the Great Barrier Reef
- Who’s afraid of the Great Barrier Reef?
- Quick travel list for Adelaide, Australia
- Feeling at home in Adelaide
- My 5-day road trip along the Great Ocean Road
- 13 reasons to travel to Melbourne
colombia: march-may 2017
Despite the fear Colombia inspired in my friends and family, I chose to spend my spring-months in Medellin because of the digital nomad community I found there. Between the international pocket and the fantastic cafes with amazing coffee and strong wifi, I considered myself spoiled. The landscape of Colombia is gorgeous and something that cannot be hidden behind the height of a metropolitan city. I visited coffee farms, chocolate farms, made new friends, and simply enjoyed the Colombian approach to life. And I attempted to continue my Spanish lessons, but struggled and my frustration handicapped me even farther.
I spent two weeks on the Colombian coast. The whole purpose in going to Cartagena was to get my PADI Open Water certification for scuba diving. The city was quaint, and I loved it despite it’s expensive, tourism driven way of being.
Santa Marta was a bit of a spoil for me. I took a bus 3 hours northeast so I could veg by the beach, but I quickly discovered that Santa Marta is a place every adventurer should go! I sadly didn’t give myself enough time there for the hiking and rainforest and The Lost City… but I did get more scuba diving in!
Here are my posts about Colombia:
- 15 suggestions when traveling in Medellin, Colombia
- 11 suggestions for Cartagena, Colombia
- Plan your trip to Santa Marta better than I did
- The power and peace of Colombia’ landscape
- Viva, Colombia: fear and living in Medellin
- The Art of Healing in Medellin
cuba + mexico: february-march 2017
So I met this amazing guy in my Greek Studies on Site class who I met up with in London. There I learned that he was studying in Havana, Cuba during his spring semester of school… and I didn’t need more reason than that to get a People to People visa and go to Havana myself! I shamelessly used my friend as an excuse to go to Cuba and as my Spanish-speaking tour guide.
Next I landed in Merida, Mexico for the embarrassing reason that it was cheap, and I didn’t want to go home. Merida ended up being a fantastic place to land for awhile. I loved the weather and the people. I went on several tours to Mayan ruins, and even got to Chichen Itza for the Spring Equinox!
Here are my posts about Cuba and Mexico:
- I traveled to Havana, Cuba and so can you
- Lines in Havana: final thoughts about Cuba illustrated in the airport
- 12 things I’m glad I did while in the Yucatan
ireland, iceland + the united kingdom: october-december 2016
Oh, I went to Ireland and I can’t wait to go back. I stayed near Temple Bar and crossed the Half-Penny Bridge everyday. I went to the Cliffs of Moher, kissed the Blarney Stone, and ventured to Northerm Ireland to see the Carrack-a-Reid rope bridge, the Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway. Every time I hear Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl,” I just want to transport back to Ireland and drink a Guinness.
In Edinburgh, I discovered the best hostel! Besides venturing to the highlands and sailing Loch Ness, I didn’t do much of note in Edinburgh aside from enjoying the cafes, walking about the old city and drinking plenty of peaty scotch.
From Scotland, I traveled to Iceland! For one of my best friend’s 30th birthday, eight of us met in Reykjavik and traveled around the cold island. A snow storm stopped us from getting to Akureyri, but we enjoyed the trip otherwise. Three of us snorkeled the Silfra Fissure–the divide between the North American and the European plates–warmed ourselves in the Blue Lagoon, saw the Northern Lights, road tripped to Vik, walked on black beaches and climbed a glacier.
At this point, I was missing Thanksgiving at home. But I was able to meet my cousin—who is also traveling—and one of her friends for a Frenchgiving in Paris. I may have eaten and drank too much causing me to pass out on a stranger’s couch. But what’s Thanksgiving without a bit of embarrassment?
I took a bus (through the Eurotunnel) to London and stayed in a hostel near the Westminster Bridge. Aside from a weekend in Liverpool, I spent all my time in London. I went to a service at Westminster Abbey and heard the boys choir; went on a bunch of Strawberry tours including one for Harry Potter, one for street art in Shoreditch and one focused on Jack the Ripper. The whole purpose of my being in London during this time started in Munich, October 2016 when I bought myself tickets to see “Harry Potter and the Curse Child!” My cousin rejoined me and took the second ticket that I purchased.
Here are my posts about the United Kingdom:
greece: june-august 2016
There is a bucket list somewhere in existence that I made when I was in middle school. One of the items on that list was: study literature in Greek. How I found Greek Studies on Site is a mystery in retrospect, but I found it and I went to Greece. The course started in the middle of July, so I gave myself a month to explore Greece on my own before I needed to show up for class.
I spent my first few days in Greece in Athens, working and organizing my next leg of the trip. With a tour group, I went to Delphi and to see the Meteora Monasteries. From there, I took a bus to Kefalonia because I really wanted to spend my Fourth of July weekend on a beach, and I wanted to see the Melissani Cave near Sami. I also went on a day trip to Homer’s Ithaka (and I can’t believe this is my life!). I saw Asos, spent a few nights at Agia Effimia and enjoyed Fiskardo. Via a simple ferry from Fiskardo, I landed at Lefkada island and spent a few more days relaxing and beaching
Then it was back to Athens for my Greek literature class! We read and discussed ancient literature about “Love” and spent the mornings touring around Athens. On the weekends, we took off to Sounio, the island of Aegina, and a temple for Diana.
That Chicago friend that keep stalking me around the world (jk) met me in Athens and we island hopped! The first stop was Santorini for some seafood, good wine, sunsets and those blue-capped white buildings. Next was Naxos, a splendid surprise. I got attacked by a seas urchin, but otherwise the little island with its castle and Apollo gate was almost magical. Finally (and my favorite) was Mykonsos. We stayed in Little Venice and had the best time. Of course, the “best time” included a lot of dancing, champagne, beaches and Molly passing out in her bathing suit.
After the fast pace of traveling with my friend through the Cyclades, I was craving some down time, and Nafplio was where I landed. Between the little cafes, the Venetian influence and the clear water, I was happy as a clam and really didn’t want to leave.
As of writing, I don’t have any posts about Greece to share.
hop around usa (with a weekend in the bahamas): february-may 2016
I wish I could say that I’ve improved my travel-planning since Winter 2016, but I really haven’t. I got home in February and spent a few weeks mourning my lack of plans, afraid I’d sink into the comfort of home and hesitant to invest any money in extravagant flights (I hadn’t figured out how to travel-budget at that point, thankfully this was been improved since then). So, I opted for an American trip.
I’d never “done” NYC on my own, so I was excited about spending the time on my own to explore and do all the touristy things. I saw Fiddler on a Roof at the Broadway Theatre and Les Misérables at the Imperial Theatre, went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, to museums and to the top of the Empire State building. I stays in my first ever hostel! It was off Lexington and 34th street. I moved to Brooklyn, specifically Williamsburg, right of the M line! I explored Brooklyn, walked across bridges and found great cafes.
From New York, I took an Amtrak to Philadelphia, which was lovely. I stayed in a hostel at Market and 2nd street, so I was walking distance to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Christ’s Church, etc. Got really good at the hostel stay here—bought groceries when I arrived and limited the amount of food I ate out. I went to the Sixth Sense church (St. Augustine) for Easter and then to the Magic Garden off South Street where I met the artist’s son. I would return to Philadelphia few weeks later to stay in West Philadelphia with a friend of my ex-boyfriend (but I’m keeping her for myself) and she shows me the local side of the city.
By bus—I’m getting more adventurous and economical, you see—I went to D.C. specifically to see the Cheery Blossoms blooms around the monuments. They were gorgeous! I spent the rest of my time exploring the different neighborhoods of D.C. and visiting with my eldest cousin, her fiancé. I managed to meet up with a friend of a friend (now a good friend) for some tourist walk-abouts and drinks. And I explored Georgetown, Alexandria, Virginia and Arlington Cemetery; on an impulse, my cousins and I visited the Pentagon’s September 11 Memorial, which I’m so glad I got to experience. In DC, I stayed in THE BEST HOSTEL in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Even though it’s a hostel, it was a better experience than I’ve had at most hotels. Honestly.
Via Amtrak, I journeyed to Niagara, NY. Despite everyone telling me to stay on the Canada side, I decided to stay on the in a hostel on the USA side. Not the worst decision, but I wish I would have listened and stayed on the Canada side. In the end, the decision probably saved me money, but w/e. Travel suggestion: Even if you decide to stay on the USA side (as an American), still bring your passport. The views and the tourist attractions on the Canada side are worth seeing.
From Niagara is was back to New York in order to catch a flight down to the Bahamas. Even though I was just in the city for a flight, I had a full day and I used it: mani-pedi in NoHo, Housing Works Bookstore Café (because I really can’t pass a good bookstore without going in) and then to The Crucible at the Walter Kerr Theatre. One night I spent in a hostel at 54th and 7th, the next I spent at Newark airport to save money and to be not stressed about my 5:30am boarding.
One of my best friends won an all-expenses paid, two-night stay at Lucayan Beach Resort in Freeport. She asked me. I said yes. The weekend was set up to be a win—beach bumming, free drinks and food, an excuse to buy a new bathing suit and time to catch up. An added bonus was the $500 flight voucher I got from American for skipping my scheduled flight to Freeport in order to fly to Miami and catch the flight my friend already had booked; it was seriously a win-win.
The last leg of what I now realize was a pretty impressive “hop around” was spent in Boston, and this trip to Boston was divided into three parts. Part one, staying with that friend of a friend in her Harvard dorm room. She was in the first year of her MBA. I enjoyed the academic area, explored Back Bay and even attended one of her strategy lectures as a guest. Part two was the weekend with my Chicago friend at her parent’s apartment in North End. We celebrated America (because someone we knew was soon moving to Europe) and birthdays (because another friend was having one) with drinks, food and Sam Adams brewery tour. Part three was on my own in Chinatown at a hostel. I walked the Freedom Trail one morning before work and saw the Mapparium the next.
Here are my posts about this “hop around:”
brazil for news years 2016
The same Chicago friend who met me for Oktoberfest wasn’t done with international parties: we planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro on Copacabana beach. We stayed at an AirBNB in the Copacabana neighborhood that was equidistance from Copacabana beach and Ipanema beach. We watched sunsets and one sunrise, took a lot of beach days, travel-hacked Cristo Redentor and Escadaria Selarón and went on one, pretty terrible bar crawl. BUT we did attempt to samba, so there is that.
Our next stop after Rio was Foz Do Iguaçu; it was 100% my friend’s idea and ended up being the highlight of my Brazil trip. We stayed at Belmond Hotel das Cataratas where we ate and drank like honeymooners, enjoyed sunsets over the Iguazu Falls and met our favorite Australians. We went to Argentina for the day to walk around its extensive World Heritage Park where 80% of the waterfalls are.
My friend went back to Chicago, and I went to the island of Florianopolis just because the flight was cheap and I had read about the place on Travel + Leisure; a pretty great choice. I stayed in an AirBNB of a husband and wife whose son is in the U.S. military and whose Arkansas-born daughter-in-law was in Florianopolis during her husband’s deployment. The place was on the bay side of the island, and I should have stayed on the ocean side. I’d spend most of my days on the ocean side, watching surfers, sand-boarding, being lazy at Praia Da Joaquina and Praia Mole, and exploring the Lagoa area.
The big idea going to Sao Paulo was to explore the coffee culture, but the lack of beaches and my second week on my own gave me another bought of light displacement. I threw myself into work, and revolved my day around eating and coffee shops. Not a bad life, really. My AirBNB was in the Itaim Bibi area, which I really enjoyed. I did a lot of free walking tours—one to Vila Madelana’s graffiti culture which kick-started my love for street art.
Before leaving Brazil, I wanted more beach time. I returned to Rio for my flight, giving myself a few extra days. This time, my AirBNB was in Barra da Tijuca, which is close to the Olympic village of the (then) upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics. This was the first area I braved the Brazilian public transit (what was I afraid of?!) Unrelated, I had my phone stolen when I was back at Copacabana to do last minute gift shopping for my family. I lost some great pictures of this day of beach hoping in Rio, including a great sunset over Ipanema beach. I also should have stayed in Brazil another week for Carnival. Oh well. My last day in Brazil was spent with my hostess at the beach near her apartment. It was by far the best beach day I had, even with no phone/camera to record it.
Here are my posts about Brazil:
- I’m glad I did these 13 things in Rio de Janeiro
- 6 things to love about Sao Paulo
- 13 questions about the Iguazu Falls
- Tributes for 2016 and the Goddess of the Sea
two firsts in the usa: december 2015
While in Germany, I struggled with mild depression and homesickness (and a lot of anxiety about quitting my life, leaving my friends and basically changing everything for no apparent reason). So, I soothed myself by planning activities when I returned to the states: Christmas time in New York, where I dragged my unassuming mother to Hamilton at the Richard Roger Theatre and to Las Vegas for the weekend with an online travel group I’d become active in: Girls Who Travel. The group is now Girls Love Travel (and since some girls like to stick to the stereotype of drama, and I was kicked out of the group).
Here are my posts about New York City:
- My 14 recommendations for New York City
- Live from New York: New Years Eve reflections on 2016
- it is new york
- “Brooklyn” and the Solo Journey
germany: september-november 2015
Germany was the first stop in my life as a digital nomad. I chose Munich for two reasons:
- Oktoberfest and
- I had visited Munich in the previous 6 months and felt navigating the area.
In Munich stayed at an AirBNB in Implerstasse with an amazing hostess with whom I became very good friends. I went on tours, wandered around museums, took a day trip to Geingen to visit the Steiff factory and to Salzburg, Austria. A Chicago friend visited me early during my stay and we went dirndl shopping and spent two days at Oktoberfest. The following weekend, my high school bestie visited me. We celebrated her birthday, did a lot of shopping, and took a tour of the nearby mountains and castles.
On the trip to the castles with my high school bestie, we stopped by Oberammergau. Something about the place struck me, a feeling I have come very familiar with since then and can name: Fernweh. It’s what the Germans call an ache for distance places. So I spent 3 quiet weeks in a small bed in breakfast in Oberammergau, hiking up nearby mountains really feeling the ache and homesickness of my new lifestyle.
As of writing, I don’t have any posts about Germany. Munich or Oktoberfest to share.