The Inner Journey

The Inner Journey

We are all travelers in this journey called life.

Sometimes your journey consists of lying in a hammock enjoying the calm lapse of waves in the Caribbean. Other times you’re bustling through a populated city, taking in the excitement of new sites and smells in New York. And then, there are times when you’re simply in transit. You’re sitting on a long, winding train, looking out the window, reflecting on your journey. Memories of where you’ve been and who you’ve met dance around in your mind, nearly coming to life on the distant landscapes outside of the window. Your memories mix together with your expectations of the next adventure.

As you get lost in this inner dialogue on your transition from one place to the next, suddenly the ticket validator greets you, and just like that, you’re brought back to the present.

Looking around, you begin to notice the vibrant colors in the train. Wow! Life is happening, and you are here, really here. For the first time in your life, you are sitting on a train without distraction of the zooming landscapes on both sides of you. You focus on the immediacy of where you are. You hand the tired-looking woman your crumpled ticket. She straightens it out with a half smile. As you look at her, you realize her eyes are full and dark, a deep ocean of gray and blue. She hands you back the ticket with a simple “Grazie”. You smile, taking in the silent connection that comes with exchanging a moment with a stranger.

Even if you’d rather busy yourself with planning the next destination, you decide to settle into the uneasiness of the swaying train ride. You sit back and listen to the sights, sounds, smells…the nowness of the perfectly ordinary, but somehow extraordinary present moment.

Just as you start to nod away into a dream about another faraway place, DING. It’s your stop, and you scurry off the train without a moment’s notice.


Thanks for reading! Your support is appreciated. To read more articles like this, head over to the MUSINGS category of my site. 

I’m Awesome. (And You Are, Too!)

I’m Awesome. (And You Are, Too!)

Hi beautiful friends!

This massive self-discovery travel adventure started when I first arrived on the magical island of Ibiza three years ago. It was my first time living and working abroad, my first time integrating into a new culture and way of life, and my first time really discovering and learning about myself.

I left the island nearly nine months ago to travel the world. Since then, I’ve visited friends and family in different continents, backpacked through South America, lived for a while in the Italian Dolomites, and now I’m spending a week right where I started this whole journey…Ibiza.

This past weekend, it just so happens that I ended up visiting the same apartment I lived in the first year I arrived on the island. There I was, standing on the balcony right outside of my old room. This brought back a lot of memories…a colorful spectrum of both good and bad. I contemplated how much I’ve grown and all the experiences that led me up to this point. It was surreal to be there again after such a long time.

When you’re on the path of self-discovery and improvement, it’s easy to keep moving forward, continuously striving to be the best version of yourself. So often we forget to gift ourselves with a moment of reflection, appreciation, and even awe at how much we’ve accomplished. When you take the time to look back, you’ll see a winding path, full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and you can appreciate just how far you’ve come.

If I would’ve told my younger self that by the time I’m 24 years old, I’ll have walked the Camino de Santiago alone, volunteered at a Buddhist retreat center, hiked through the Andes in Peru, and solo backpacked through many countries in Europe, I would have been in total awe. When I reflect on it now, I’m still amazed!

So, my friends, I invite you to take some time to reflect on your achievements and be amazed at how far you’ve come and how awesome you are as well! Journal about it, comment below, or just take a moment of quiet reflection.


Did you find this article helpful? Share it on Facebook! And while you’re there, request to join the exclusive Facebook group I created called Travel Lovers Community where you can share your experiences and post questions about your upcoming trips. 

 

Monthly Recap: ‘Tis the Season in San Francisco!

Monthly Recap: ‘Tis the Season in San Francisco!

 

Wait…December is already over?? This can’t be real life. It seems like I was just writing the monthly recap for November and now it’s already January! Life comes at ya fast.

When we left off, I told you I’d been backpacking through South America. November was fast paced and full of travel. By the beginning of December, we finally made it to Cusco, the capital of the ancient Incan empire. You can’t visit Cusco without making a trip to the undeniably beautiful and epic Machu Picchu. It was stunning!

After a full week in Cusco including our 2-day trip to Machu Picchu, we took a quick 1-hour flight (as opposed to an 18-hour bus ride through the mountains) to Lima.

At this point, it was our last week in South America, and my boyfriend and I chose to stay at a lovely B&B called Casa Nuestra. It was absolutely perfect. Sometimes you have to #TreatYourself! I highly recommend this place if you’re ever in Lima.

We stayed in the artistic, bohemian neighborhood called Barranco where we spent a week of bliss…admiring the street art, trying out trendy Peruvian restaurants, and watching sunsets fade into the endless ocean horizon.

Alas, the time came when I had to say goodbye to South America. My lover and I went separate ways…he to Italy and I to the United States.

One red-eye flight later and I traded Spanish for Southern twangs. I was officially in Texas. I spent a week in Fort Worth visiting my best friend in the world. We rarely get to see each other because of our busy schedules, so it was a fantastic week!

I decided that after such a long time of not being back in the states, Texas was the perfect point of re-entry. It is essentially the most American of all the states. Lots of extremely friendly people who smile and open doors for you, sinfully good food in outrageous portions, and enough restaurants and shopping areas to keep you occupied for months. God Bless.

Next thing I know, I’m boarding another plane. This time it’s to San Francisco. For the first time in two years, I had the chance to spend Christmas with my family. A true Christmas miracle! I hope you, my friend, have had happy holidays as well, however and wherever you chose to celebrate.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The highlight of December is split between so many different moments that it’s hard to name just one. Instead, I’ll choose a few words to describe how the “highs” of the month felt:

Aligned
Happy
Present
Cared for
Laughter
Vibrant
Heartfelt

 

Which words would you use to describe the highlights of your December? How can we use those words to shape this upcoming month?

CHALLENGES

 

The most obvious challenge for me this month is diving back into a long distance relationship after more than four months of togetherness with my lover. When you spend that much time with someone, it feels natural to share your thoughts, feelings, and ideas with him, so it’s hard to be apart after all of those life-changing experiences together! But it’s okay, life goes on. We will reunite sometime soon 🙂

Thankfully I haven’t had too much reverse culture shock this time around, but it’s often a challenge when coming home after traveling long term.

INSIGHTS

 

Traveling the world is incredible, yet one thing that has been undeniably better than all the traveling is quality time with the people I love. My family, friends, and significant other. I don’t always have much time to spend with the people who mean the most to me, so when I do get to spend time with them, I’m reminded of how important this is. Relationships are what build us!

COMING UP

 

Next up, I’m flying to the Yucatan Peninsula TOMORROW, January 2nd. I’ll spend about ten days doing a meditation retreat in a pueblo near Valladolid and then a few days in the small beachside town of Tulum.

After Mexico, I’m going to…CUBA!!! I’m beyond excited to visit this fascinating island. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now, so I’m very much looking forward to it. If you’ve ever been and have recommendations, let me know!

 


 

Well, that’s the recap for December! How was your month? What were the highlights and challenges? What insights did December bring? Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out anytime. 

Crossing the Peruvian Border…A Change in Perspective

Crossing the Peruvian Border…A Change in Perspective

 

We were only two hours into the bus ride from southern Ecuador across the Peruvian border and I’d already nearly lost my mind. We had six or seven hours to go, and the overnight bus was anything but comfortable.

Grumpy old men were yelling at the driver about who knows what. The guy next to me was in a heated conversation about politics with the guy two rows back. Neglected babies crying at piercing octaves.

Turn after turn along dark mountainous roads, the combination of terror and motion sickness left me feeling even more anxious. As if things couldn’t get worse, the silent farter was slowly suffocating everyone in the bus.

I put on my headphones, turned the volume up, and moved back the window curtains to observe what was going on out there.

Midnight blue skies gave way to the golden warm glow of streetlamps. The full moon hung low beneath over the jagged silhouettes of mountains in the distance. A thousand stars dotted the sky.

And just like that…a change in perspective. I sat in silent awe and appreciation of the pure, great bliss of this moment in time and of the world passing by me through the view of a bus window.


 

The Unspoken Rules of Staying in a Hostel

The Unspoken Rules of Staying in a Hostel

Staying in a hostel is by far the most popular choice of accommodation for backpackers. Not only is it usually the cheapest option, but you can also meet fellow travelers to explore the city with. The pros of staying in a hostel mostly outweigh the cons. However, it would be helpful for everyone to follow a basic list of unspoken rules that come with staying in a hostel. Most of these rules seem more than obvious to me, especially when one applies common sense and thoughtfulness. Alas, there always seems to be at least one person who seems to have never gotten the memo. During my stay at Home Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal, I asked my roommates their opinion on this topic, and so without further ado, here are the unspoken rules of staying in a hostel:

 

1. Don’t turn on the lights before 8 a.m.

Who in their right mind would come home at 3 a.m. and turn the lights on when he or she is sharing a room with five other people? Someone who ain’t got no home training, that’s who. Don’t be that person. Just use your common sense (or the flashlight on your phone).

 

2. If you have to check out early in the morning, pack the night before.

Sub-rule: If you have to leave at an ungodly hour for an early flight, it would be extra thoughtful if you informed your roommates ahead of time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing someone fumble around, packing his bags at 5 a.m. Things get out of control when the unprepared traveler starts with opening plastic bags. If you forgot to pack the night before, do us all a favor and take your bag outside of the room to pack up. 

 

3. Don’t have sex in the room. Just don’t.

Jesus Christ. Should I even have to mention this one? You’d be surprised at how many cringe-worthy situations unfold when you combine strangers, alcohol, and slumber parties (aka 8-person bedroom). You can always book an all female or all male dorm if you’re uncomfortable with this aspect of staying in a mixed dorm. But first and foremost, remember, you’re in a dorm…don’t do it!!

 

4. Understand that there will be cultural differences

The reason we travel is to see different cultures and ways of life. By doing so, we begin to open our own minds and start to understand that there isn’t just one “normal” or “right” way of doing things. This is a beautiful thing! It can, though, be challenging to live in a small dorm room with multiple people from multiple walks of life. Sometimes people will do things that seem strange or just straight up offensive. One time, I stayed in a six bedroom mixed dorm, meaning mixed with males and females. We were getting ready for bed when one girl from Norway casually stripped down naked and got into her bed. Meanwhile, my modest Mississippi self was in total shock, yet this helped me realize that nudity was only a big deal to me because of my cultural upbringing. (AKA Southern American) But who says one way is right? You will come across many instances that will open your mind to different ways of doing things, and that, my friends, is a great thing. 

 


 

Do you have any rules to add to the list? What have you learned from staying in a hostel during your travels? Let us know by commenting below or writing to me on Facebook! Hasta pronto, amigos. 

A Year of Travel

A Year of Travel

If you could live the life of your dreams, what would it be like? For me, it would look like a blur of ever-changing landscapes through windows of buses, planes, and trains. It would smell like freshly baked pastries in a foreign country. It would sound like laughter and a mix of languages in passing conversations. It would feel like freedom, like I’m living in a way that inspires me and makes me excited to be alive. This is what I’m hoping for this upcoming year.

Today I’m writing to you from yet another airport, awaiting a short flight to Andalucía from the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. Next to me is a 55 Liter backpack containing everything I will need for the next year of my life. This is the start of an exciting journey backpacking around the world.

Over the next 9-12 months, I will be traversing through Europe, South America, and Asia. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, all of which I want to share with you. So, best friends, much like a late night trip to Walmart in Mississippi, it won’t always be pretty but there will surely be stories to tell. Ready to take on the world with me? Vamos!