3-Month Backpacking Trip: What’s in my bag?

Welcome back, my travel enthusiast fellows!

Packing for a backpacking trip overseas can be a gruesome task. In my experience, my biggest problem has always been over-packing. I remember, because when I studied abroad in Singapore, I brought two large suitcases full of things with me. I didn’t use most of them. When I decided to travel in Japan, I had to lug around my two giant suitcases, which became a huge pain.

Nowadays, over-packing would be detrimental in the long run as I carry all my possessions on my back. Over time, I’ve cut down the stuff I take from 2 luggages to 1 backpacking bag and 1 day bag. Like so: IMG_0454Without further ado….

What’s in my bag?

Previously in my post on Ways to Budget Travel, I’ve mentioned my love for my Osprey 48 liter bag + waterproof cover. Here, I just want to emphasize how important proper gear is to traveling.

I specifically chose this size because it easily fits into all airline carry on cabins. Especially with budget flights, I can just pack it up and just bring it in as a carry on without having to pay for a luggage. The state-of-the-art suspension system made all my material possessions in my bag feel weightless, and is a lot easier on my back.

Best price of $130 at Amazon!

I am a minimalist in the things I pack when traveling. I also like to under pack to buy some clothes in the country I’m traveling as souvenir. 😉 Because I carry everything in my bags, I like to keep all my clothes and accessories as lightweight as possible.

  • 1x stuff sack
  • 5x shirts (3 tank tops for comfort/going out, 2 formal)
  • 1x water resistant jacket
  • 1x stuffable dawn jacket (I highly recommend getting these for ultra lightweight and warmth)
  • 2x pants (1 comfort, 1 going out) 
  • 3x shorts
  • 3x dresses
  • 4x socks (sporty and comfortable)
  • 1x scarf/shawl
  • Underwear (lots)
  • 1x shoes
  • 1x flip flops
  • Waterproof bag set (for water activities)
  • Safety pins/needle and thread
  • Multi-tool knife
  • Duct tape
  • Ropes
  • Headlamp
  • Ao dai – since I’m planning on celebrating Vietnamese New Year, Tet, in Vietnam, I’m bringing my custom made ao dai. I don’t typically bring this on my trips! Here’s a picture for reference!

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First Aid Kit – whatever brand or name you use, here is the gist of medications you want to take with you.

  • Anti-diarrhea
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Band-aid
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Allergy
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Pain reliever
  • Anti-mosquito/anti-itch cream (tropical countries)

Paperwork – I like to keep all of my paperwork in zip lock bag to protect them from water damage

  • Printout/screenshots of plane tickets 
  • Passport book/card (+2 photocopies to bring on day/night trips)
  • Vaccination records (depending on country)
  • Visas (Vietnam, for example)
  • Copy of TEFL certificate (If I plan to teach while abroad)

Travel cards

  • Capital One Quicksilver – 1.5% cashback on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, no annual fees
  • Charles Schwab – no ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees worldwide. With this card, you can withdraw from anywhere at any ATM!

Day Bag

ADDITIONAL GEAR: IF YOU PLAN ON HARDCORE BACKPACKING + CAMPING

  • Camping tent and poles (poles can go on side straps, tent can go on bottom straps); I loved our Marmot tent because of lightweight and the air flow system. We had taken it on our trip to the freezing top of a volcano and survived thanks to it. The high price is worth the durability. 
Best Price at Amazon for $189.90

Final thoughts

Whether you’re traveling short term or long term, I hope that my list has helped you. Thanks so much for reading! I’d also like to know what you have in your bag. Let me know in comments below- Cheers!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Pensacola vs Destin, FL: A Rogue Guide and Comparison

My parents are workaholics. They are constantly busy and doing something, remodeling our business, upgrading our house, working, etc. When I over dramatize our family situation, I tend to say that they neglect us kids. Our last full family vacation was over 3 years ago, when we took a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. For those who don’t know, Myrtle Beach is an okay beach that everyone in my area likes to go to because it’s the best we have around my small town. Isn’t that what life kind of is though?

As I mentioned in my latest reflection, this year, I had my way in planning a trip to Pensacola and Destin, FL! I’m beyond psyched because I loooove trip planning. The prospect of being away from the stress at home, seeing someplace new (a white-sand, clear-water beach on the Gulf of Mexico no less), and staying at a hotel or condo (we get really excited when we get to sleep somewhere new) was overwhelming. Even if it was a 7 hour drive, it was worth it to spend some relaxing time with the family.

Now, also keep in mind that planning at family trip is very different from a solo backpacker trip. My usual travel style in my other post isn’t applied to these vacation as my family’s tolerance for discomfort and inconvenience is very low.

Trip Highlights

The Beach: What Everybody Comes For

The two most popular Pensacola beaches are: the Casino Beach and the Quietwater Beach. Both beaches are full of tourists (like us) in the water. Beach umbrellas costs $40 to use until 6pm. Being adventurous that we are, as soon as we took a break from swimming, we explored the island strip. One end of the island is the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which charges a small $6 entry fee for a day. The other end of the island is littered with large hotels and bountiful amounts of condos. About 10 minutes in driving on eastwards of the island, we start to see pull-offs where people park for beach access. Yes! We finally found the empty beaches where we could have it (almost) to ourselves! There were never more than 10 people in our sight!

 

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Our beach access in Destin was a short 10 minute walk from the condo. There was enough distance between us and our neighbor swimmers that we had plenty of room to swim. In the afternoon, it gets pretty crowded, but not nearly as much as Pensacola’s 2 main beaches. The fish were smaller and more sparse than Pensacola. The waves were bigger than Pensacola’s, perfect for body surfing.

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Result: Admittedly, the water condition depends on the day that you’re going. Both beaches are beautiful and full of sea life. If I had to choose, I would go with Pensacola beaches. The sea life is plentiful, pretty water, nice private beaches. However, I want to strongly reiterate that Destin waves were excellent for body surfing!

Things to Do Around Here???

To get to the beaches in Pensacola, we have to cross two bridges. The first bridge gives us access to a part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, which we didn’t get a chance to visit because we were more interested in seeing the Pensacola beaches. This strip does have plenty of great restaurant options to try! At the end of the second beach is the entrance to Pensacola. Each car pays a small toll of $1 to enter Pensacola. Things to do in Pensacola are sparse, it has a lot of interesting restaurants, but for the real things to do, we would have to go to the mainland.

From the north, there are two ways to enter Destin, one with about a $10 toll and another is free. We entered through the $10 toll road, and left through the free route. Both took the same time, so it was annoying that we didn’t plan our route well enough to avoid tolls. Luckily, there are much more things to do in Destin. So many shopping malls, restaurants, and also a very nice boardwalk!

Result: With way more things to do and an option for no toll entrance, Destin wins this round!

Our Lodging: Hotel vs. Condo

We traveled to Pensacola right after Independence Day and on a weekend. The rooms were expensive at $99-$120/night. We stayed at an Econolodge, with was the cheapest option nearby with free breakfast available. It took about 25 minutes to drive to beach, which isn’t bad. Again, we haven’t taken a vacation in years, so anything is better than nothing. 😉

We rented our first condo ever in Destin! We booked it through VRBO, which turned out to be cheaper than most of the hotel options available! It came up to $500 for our short 3 day stay for six of us. It was quite expensive (for me), but I would say it was entirely worth it for the 10-minute walk to the beach. We had washer/dryer, kitchen, a full bathroom, and TVs. It was a wonderful experience and would not trade it for anything. My mom was so happy about the kitchen that she gets to cook in for all of us.

Result: Since we did not have a constant variable here, I will just say that if you have a chance to book a condo- do it!!! The amenities are worth it!

Overall

Thanks for reading my little blurb! I hope you enjoyed it and hope that I have somewhat helped your vacation out, too. I value every trip I take with my family, as we don’t spend all that much time together. I loved seeing my brother and sisters freak out at the beach. Any amount of time and money at this paradise would be worth it. If I had to choose, Destin would be my choice for us. With condo options, we had all the amenities we needed.

 

The Most Unforgettable Adventures!

Welcome back, fellow travel enthusiasts!

This week, I’d like to share some of my best adventures while traveling! I have always considered myself lucky and forever thankful that I have had so many opportunities to see someplace new.

When people ask me where I get all the money to travel… well, I don’t. I really don’t have much money. In my post on how I travel cheaply, I talked more about ways I save.

Still, I have never regretted a single dollar spent on traveling. Here are some priceless memories I’ve had from my adventures.

Studying Abroad in Singapore

I know this may seem cheesy and a cliché, but studying abroad in Singapore was one of my favorite adventures.

It was where I lived overseas for the first time. I was scared, homesick, and constantly active with all the planned school activities. I made some very close friends there, where I bonded with other international students.

We shared our immersive cultural experience and struggles at the university. We explored fun night adventures, and always looked out for each other. If you get an opportunity to study abroad, I would 5000% recommend it!

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Best of all, in the convenient location of my university, I was able to take trips around Southeast Asia during school breaks. While I was in Singapore, I had the opportunity to visit Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia! Afterwards, I took the opportunity to backpack around Southeast Asia. I guess you could say that Singapore had started my travel bug.

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Full Moon Party in Thailand

Have you ever been to the Full Moon Party in Thailand?

We’ve all heard of it. Every month, tens of thousands of people flock to Koh Phangan to celebrate the full moon party. I have always loved dancing, and that night, I truly danced the night away. I danced the entire coastline and back. People standing in each other’s space, filling up the beach, sharing food and drinks.

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It’s a night for a spontaneity and fun.

National Parks in the USA

I always feel ashamed when people ask me whether I’ve been here or there in the United States. I have neglected traveling my own country until most recently, my boyfriend and I took a trip around the United States. We had a National Parks pass and had visited every single National Park on our way in the US. I’ve never realized how beautiful our country was! Here are some of my favorite hike photos.

Working for Stay While Abroad

Have you ever worked while abroad? We primarily use HelpX. But there are other great resources for work! In our work, we exchange work for our stay. While in Mexico, we lived in cabins by the sea and received guests coming in via cruise ships every week! We met other work for stay travelers as well as partied with locals. Unforgettable memories indeed!

Wandering Around New York City

I’m sure I’ve worn you guys with my endless stories of New York, but it is honestly one of my best adventures yet. We had just returned from our backpacking trip in Central America and decided to move to NYC. In New York, I had my first corporate job on Wall Street, I found my first apartment, paid my first utility bills. I had to figure out how to adult very, very quickly because it is a very expensive city to mess up in. 

I have very fond memories of figure out how to use the subway, walking and biking around the city, going to job interviews, eating cheap food, seeing Broadway shows, and many, many more.

Korea has my Seoul

Second only to NYC, Seoul has the coolest energy I’ve ever felt. The culture is so authentic and unique. The people so colorful, bright, and happy. Everyone is dressed super cute. And street food! Tons of loooovely street foods!! 

The country was beautiful, the food exotic, and energy out of this world. I want to revisit sooo bad.

You might also like some of my other adventure posts:


Thanks for visiting my little corner of the blogging world! What are your favorite adventures?

As I’ve shared in my latest reflection, I have started my journey with my 2nd remote job. The past weeks, I have been training and getting in the groove of work, so I haven’t adventured (or write) as much, but I really appreciate all the support from my lovely travel blogging friends and readers!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Gross/Disgusting Travel Stories

Welcome back, my fellow travel enthusiasts!


This week, I’d like to share some of the grossest and most disgusting things that has happened to me while traveling. (I apologize in advance if I grossed you out with this post)

This one’s a difficult one to write, because it takes a lot to gross me out. I’m a very laid-back traveler, could eat from a (clean) floor and sleep in a hole if I needed to.

So what in my travels has given me the irks?

My first thoughts came back to the time I had almost died on my motorbike. I thought of the image of how my wounds had infected, pussed, healed, infected- and repeat- for about a week because of my constant activity. Then I thought of how I had witnessed a ping pong show in Thailand, in a “when in Bangkok” night out with my friends. Which after a lot of contemplation, I decided that I did not want to write about because it did not contribute informatively or positively to my blog.

Generally, the easiest way to gross people out is through dirtiness, unfortunate gory events, and food.

Finally, I decided with my specialty. Food.

You see, Southeast Asians are very creative when it comes to food. As a food enthusiast, let me introduce you to some of the grosses foods I’ve encountered while living in Southeast Asia.

I should give a full disclosure that I am vegetarian, and have been vegetarian all my life! I have been exposed to these foods through culture, friends, family, and travel. Take my input with a grain of salt.

Number 1: Balut (Fermented Embryo)

Hailing from the country I was born in, Philippines. Balut, hột vịt lộn, fertilized duck embryo is EGGxactly as it sounds, HA!

You may have heard of this one, or may have even encountered and tried it! Fertilized egg, boiled, and served is one of the most famous strange delicacies in the Philippines and Vietnam.

You can even hear and feel the crunch and slither of the baby duck in your mouth. Ooh!

Image result for balutAs you can see from the photo, there is plenty of juice in the egg to have a sip of it to get the full experience. This gem is typically enjoyed with beer. Check out an this guy eating his first balut with locals’ guidance!

Number 2: Tarantula

Tarantula is a famous street delicacy in Cambodia (and I’ve also seen these on Thailand’s streets). They’re usually deep fried, but I’ve also seen them eaten alive before! Spiders were eaten dating back to the Khmer Rouge days, where food were in short supply. Image result for fried tarantulaOften times, you can still their little tarantula hairs sticking out! I’ve never eaten these (being vegetarian), but they have been described by my friends as “tasting like chicken.”

Number 3: Deep fried insects & grub

One step up (or down?) from tarantulas are all the other critters. Scorpions, crickets, cockroaches, larvae, you name it. I saw hundreds of these vendors on the streets of Bangkok. Often times, with signs saying “pay to take picture.”

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Number 4: Libido boosting foods

  • Snake Wine
    • It turns out that using snakes as medicine can help clear a lot of illnesses. In the case of snake wine, snakes are stuffed and fermented in rice wine until its poison seeps throughout the jar.
    • Sounds cruel right? Well, fun fact: in 2013, a snake that has been fermented for 3 months jumped out and bit a woman who had wanted to take a swig of the medicinal wine.
    • In all seriousness, stuffing/drowning snakes in a jar is inhumane and illegal- one of the few souvenirs to avoid while on vacation.

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  • Penises and testicles of deer, snake, bull are believed to provide plenty of energy. There are restaurants upon restaurants dedicated to this wonder of a treatment. Gross. Image result for penis restaurant

Number 4: Grass juice

  • I first encountered grass juice in Thailand, where everybody was drinking it like it was the elixir of life.
  • Only upon research did I find out that there were health benefits to drinking wheat grass.

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You may have heard of the telltale infamous/famous Durian.

Personally, I love durian. It’s one of those foods that you just have to get accustomed to! But it’s smell is possibly one of the most pungent in this entire world. It is also very suitable as a weapon (average cause of fatality per year: 1). If you get your hands on it, do try!

Did you try any of these foods? Would you?

I’ve always loved watching Bizzare Foods. These foods makes a great story and challenge. Very mind opening to know there are those who eat like that across the world. It’s not to say that other countries don’t have any crazy cuisines, but Southeast Asia certainly trumps it for me.


That’s all folks!! What did you think? What are some gross travel stories you have?

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

 

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

Summer Reflections!!!

Hi everyone!!! ~~~

I’d like to thank all my readers and travel blogging companions for all the wonderful interactions through the summer. This community has been so helpful in shaping my goals, interests, and writing. I’m incredibly happy to have kick-started my blogging project over the year, and writing has been a constant source of stress relief and support.

I like to write reflections from time to time to remind myself what goals I have and where I’m at in my life. During these time in my moods, I tend to get existential, and rant about all the things I could do better. Let’s see then, shall we?

Some mini-milestones I’ve passed this summer!

Took a family vacation (We haven’t had one in years! Post to come…) to Florida, gulf side. Wow, are the beaches there beautiful.

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Started my 2nd remote job. My office is set up right in my bedroom. I was so surprised when I received my equipment set: laptop, backdrop, camera, etc. I am so thrilled to be part of this work-from-home team. Honestly, before I got my 1st remote job as an English instructor, I never knew these things existed.

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Saw Queen in New York! Who knew that I would get to be in the same breathing space as the rocking legends? Adam Lambert was fantastic. They threw a spectacular show unlike any other concert. I was up and dancing pretty much the whole way. While we’re there, we also saw some awesome shows: Regina Spektor, Dear Evan Hansen, Great Comet, Waitress

 

Went on a 3-day timeshare vacation. We’ve all heard of the horror stories and how people get stuck in these presentation for 4+ hours! We got out more than alive, loved it, and will be coming back. Aaaaand, we didn’t buy any timeshares. 😉

Hope you enjoyed my shiny new adventures! Don’t forget to let me know what you think.



Fun travels aside, these few months, I’ve been struggling with some thoughts and issues that I’d like to share. Maybe I’ll have some input from all of you.

I’ve pondering whether or not I could be doing more, career-wise. Should I give in to one of those boring 9-5 office jobs, but pays more and is more professional?

Doing something to make a difference should be today’s form of currency.

Graduate school? I’ve been constantly asked whether or not I want to go. It’s not that I don’t want to go, but the risk of spending $100K on getting a piece of paper when I could be learning from all these available online resources doesn’t make sense to me. I was fortunate enough to graduate college without debt, and I love that. I’m able to use all my hard-earned money for things I love to do. But then, there’s always that pressure from people to get an advanced degree. What’s the right answer?

I could improve….

I’m so sorry, everyone! I’ve been so off my game with keeping up with blog posts. Honestly, doing a weekly post is harder to keep up with than I could ever imagine. I admire my fellow blog challenge friends who schedule their posts. To make up for it, I’ll share this picture

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Another thing I need to keep in mind: languages and learning! I’m constantly trying to remind myself to practice my Spanish and Chinese, the languages I learned in high school and college. There are so many free online resources, yet I’m so lazy and complacent, that I’ve been slowly forgetting all these awesome lessons.

Also, music! I keep forgetting in my moments of most stress, I could be learning some new tunes on my uke, guitar, keyboards.


What are some of your goals and reflections the last few months? Cheers!

My Five Favorite Travel Blogs- Travel Blogging Challenge- Week 8

Welcome back, travel enthusiasts! 

This week’s challenge highlights some bloggers you might not know who may have some awesome tips for traveling.

First of all, I want to highlight my fellow blogging mates: Julie, Vicky, Aly, Emily, and Ben (see their links on the bottom of this post). They have been amazing, unique, and especially timely with their challenge prompts. I’m ashamed to say that they are waaaayyyy better than me in keeping up with their blogs. They have awesome travel stories to tell, and I always enjoy reading their blogs. Please check them out!! IMAG5939-EFFECTS

I enjoy reading a lot of budget, authentic, solo, female, unique/strange traveling writing. There are so many different writers. So many different writing styles.. a different… texture. So much to learn. The more I read, the more I learn and apply different techniques on my blog. The more I write, the better I get at writing. I’m going to list a few of my favorite traveling blogs for you all to peruse. 😉

  • Two Brown Feet – This couple is currently residing in South Korea (one of my favorite countries), with tons of useful tips of the country. They write humorous anecdotes of their misadventures with meaningful lessons learned. Excellent blog to relax and read. Awesome photos too!
  • Drew Binsky – I want to be more like Drew! His blog is well organized, has a clear mission of helping other travelers like him. His posts are very informative, with no filter. When I read his blog, I just continue clicking links and keep reading. He doesn’t hold anything back, which is awesome!
  • This is Youth – Daniel’s “About” page says it all. He seems like a very laid-back, chill guy. Traveler, blogger, reader/reviewer, and enjoys hiking. He has numerous useful tips and stories.
  • Halfhazard Wanderer – Not your typical travel blogger as she writes other stuff too, but her blog is definitely worth checking out as it’s very kawaii (cute!) and thought provoking. She has several travel posts and aspirations to travel and write – with plans to go on a Canadian trip really soon (have fun!).
  • Bespoke Traveler – Possibly one of my favorite bloggers. Bespoke Traveler writes their travel stories in an immersive narration, making me feel as if I’m right there, traveling in the moment. Blah, please check them out!!! <3

One of my biggest goals in this post is to connect my readers and each travel bloggers to one another, if you haven’t met each other yet. I’m super excited to finally come up with a list. I would love to connect with each and every one of you to do a blog exchange post. 😉

Do you know any amazing bloggers? Pleeaaaase share!!


Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Travel Blogging Challenge- Week 7 (Inspiration for Traveling)

There are three types of people: those who travel, those who want to travel, and those who don’t, can’t, and never will.

At 23, I’m not quite a kid and not old. People around me are getting jobs, making families, buying houses, etc. I often think to myself… what have I done with my life? What brings me satisfaction?

I would like to share my philosophy and story on why I started traveling and what nudges me to keep doing so.

Life’s too short. Optimistically, I estimate I will live another 80 years (haha, bear with me). That’s not a lot of time. My family always tells me that that’s a weird outlook on life. I grew up in a small, majority-whites town where people go to retire. People are born, raised, and live their lives there. Unfortunately, a static life not a life for me. I left. Moved to Asia, traveled the United States, backpacked Central America, moved to New York. I feel that being stationary wastes what little time I have left, which leads me to my next point.

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I want to see and  do something new everyday. Like many other parents of travelers, my parents want a stable, happy, safe life. They were 110% against my traveling. They were refugees from Vietnam, fleeing the country from oppression and seeking a better place. I understand that they would want me to go to school, get a stable job, and live my life happily. I am forever thankful for what they’ve done and proud of how far they’ve come since leaving Vietnam. I can’t say how much I respect them for their decisions. If I had lived in my small town forever, I would know nothing. There’s a million and infinity things I don’t know out there, and I want to change that.  

Beneficial to my mind and body. Travel relieves my stress. It tells me my troubles aren’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. It shows me different sides to myself that I never knew, food that I never thought I’d like, people I’d meet, ordeals I’d surpass. I pushed my body to do crazy, amazing things while traveling more than I ever did while I was at home. It’s amazing.

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What am I saving money for? Nobody knows when they’re going to lose it all. When I lost phone and wallet on a rickety bus in Guatemala, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I realized that no matter how much I save, it would still be for naught if life takes it away in a whirl of wind. I save more money, pay more bills, save more, spend more, pay more bills. The cycle is never-ending! In my life, the only thing I’ve been happy to give my money for is to travel. I never regret spending anything on a trip out of town. Now, I save my money for travel and cultural foods around the world. 😉

If I don’t do it now, I might never do it! Goals change all the time. Today, I might love traveling, tomorrow, I might not. I might lose motivation, get lazy, change directions unexpectedly, die, etc. A few years ago, my bucket list had included going to the Amazon Forest. Today, I want to go on a cruise. I changed, because I don’t want to risk getting eaten by a giant snake, a fear I didn’t have a few years back. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just a small missed opportunity. I just hope what I replace it with is a bigger jump for great adventures.

Share my travels. I’ve always loved traveling, even if alone. When I met my boyfriend, I experienced what it felt like to travel together. My horizons expanded. When I see/eat/go/read something great, I want to share it with my loved ones, and traveling is on the top of my things to share. It’s amazing to come home after a travel and cook the crazy dishes from around the world for my family to experience. I want so much to take my siblings to New York and show them how big the world can be.

My list of inspirations are endless. But that’s all for today, what are your inspirations in life and travel??? 

Hope to connect with you soon! Peace!

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Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Travel Blogging Challenge – Week  6 (Unusual Travel Activities/Photos)

Welcome back to Travel Blogging Challenge Week 6!

So many unusual travel photos and stories, where do I start?

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to share some random pictures that I couldn’t put in any of my other posts!

When people ask me what I like to do, I would be at a lost to explain. I like to do a variety of things, especially while traveling. It’s hard because each country has it’s own personality. The activities I like to do vary from place to place. I guess that’s why I like to blog to show the different aspects that I enjoy out of my travels. I hope you enjoy it!

Number 1: Born in a refugee camp and raised in a foreign country all my life, I was not able to explore my mother land until I was 21. For the first time, I celebrated Vietnamese New Year, Tet, in the traditional dress, ao dai, and holding my red packet (of money) li xi.

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Number 2: One of my proudest travel accomplishment is the time I hiked up a 13,000 ft volcano in Guatemala, and seeing it erupt, feeling  the rumble, and being able watch the lava flow through the night.

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Beautiful views above the clouds with Acatenango

Number 3: Have you ever seen giant robots fighting as you have dinner? Only Japan would have it. Check out the time I ate at Robot Restaurant in Japan!

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Number 4: Here is me, chilling with Buddy the Bison at Yellowstone National Park.

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Number 5: Had to take this photo with these gorgeous lady-boys in Thailand! Would you have guessed that they’re men? You go, girls!

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Number 7: Scuba diving was definitely one of the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Considering it was a sketchy establishment in a developing country, and with 5 minutes of training. Much crazier than that is trying not to freak out with a giant whale shark floating just 6 feet from me. After getting a hang of not drowning, I was amazed with the coral reef below as well as the whale sharks swimming in the background!

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What are your unusual experiences? Any on your wish list?


Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

Who else is doing the challenge?

 

 

Travel Blogging Challenge – Week 5 (Top Three Cultural Foods) The Time I Ate Too Much

Food, food, food, food, food! Is what most people hear when they travel with me. In all of my travels, food plays a crucial role to my enjoyment.

As a vegetarian since birth, I’m always wary of eating out at restaurants. Luckily, I am blessed with a wonderful mother, who is the best chef in the world. However, when I hit the road, I am always excited to try other cultural foods!

As you can imagine, being a vegetarian abroad can be quite complicated. Some countries think fish and chicken are not meat, therefore, it is okay for it to be in a vegetarian meal. I have to learn some key phrases with every foreign country I visit, to convey the entirety of my vegetarian-ess. With every mistake I make, I learn a lot to have a better experience the next time.

Because of my continuously adventurous vegetarian taste buds, I have gotten to try amazing vegetarian dishes from around the world. Here are top three favorite countries’ dishes, in collage form.

  1. Korea for its crazy food inventions. I am in love with korean-style ramen. I love their desserts, bibimbap (rice and vegetable mixture with excellent presentation and sauce), and japchae (clear noodles). Ever heard of cold noodles in ice? Not my cup of noodles, but I tried it anyway! Thanks Korea. 🙂
  2. Nicaragua – Choosing a country from the many favorite foods I had in Central America was quite difficult. I chose Nicaragua purely because I had an amazing street food experience there. Shave ice desserts called granizado were all over the streets. Central American foods sometimes overlapped each other, so I was happy to find some of my favorite foods in neighboring countries. Some of my favorites are elotes (corn), traditional rice and beans con queso (with cheese) dishes, platanos (plantains), and pan (bread).
  3. Thailand – How do you beat $1 phad thai? Love the diversity of street foods in Bangkok. Also a great place for noodles and spicy food, which is right down my alley.

Note: I left out some of my favorite foods (because I think I am biased towards them). For your interest, I will list them below:

Vietnamese foods. Being Vietnamese by blood, I’m always partial to my native country’s cuisines. I am immensely proud of the variety of Vietnamese foods. It’s colorful, tasty, and full of culture.

Japanese foods. As one of the most amazing cultures out there, they have so many creative dishes. 🙂 Home to sushi, green tea Kit Kat, soba noodles, and tempura, it’s possibly some of my favorite foods. Unfortunately, most their foods are not vegetarian friendly.

 

Filipino foods. Raised in the Philippines, I came to love eating mangoes, bananacues (caramelized, roasted plantains), and various different vegetarian snack options.2174887938_28dc5b40d0_z

Thanks for reading!! What are your favorite foods???


Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

Who else is doing the challenge?

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

 

Travel Blogging Challenge – Week  4 (Travel Misadventures) The Time I Almost Died on a Motorbike

Getting into a motor accident in Asia is no joke. I’ve heard so many horror stories of the ugly traffic, terrible drivers, no road etiquette, no care for street signs. Countless of accidents result in deaths. If the local government happens to be corrupt, the guilty party can even get away unscathed.

This week’s travel blogging theme is travel misadventures.  I want to write this post to tell my story, in hopes of showing future travelers ways to avoid the same misfortune.

I was traveling through Thailand during my trip around Southeast Asia when I decided to take a trip from Chiang Mai to Pai (about 6 hours drive) by motorbike. The way up the mountain was curvy and narrow. As I was going up the blind curve, a car sped down the mountain in the middle of the road. Seeing that it was on my lane, I swerved out of its way.

The sequence of events that followed felt like a dream.

With not enough time or room to move out of the car’s way, I fell hard. My bike scraping all the way to the other side, closing the cliff side. The car that caused my fall stopped.. then kept driving on. Several cars passed by, and kept driving.

I saw everything happen in slow motion. I didn’t quite register what happened. I started to panic. I was too surprised to cry. I just started to scream, “Help!” Even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted help for. A guy with a truck stopped and asked if I needed help. With several people’s help, I was able to be carried to a local hospital on a back of a truck.

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Today, looking back, this event had affect my life in several ways. Several thoughts come to mind as my motorbike spiraled out of control, and I rolled several feet, scarring my knees and hand for life.

Death. Is traveling the world worth dying for? Flashes of regret as I hit the ground. I think of my family. I think of my partner. How if I had died that moment, that some things are still left undone. Picking my life back up, I remind myself everyday that I have to live it to the fullest!

Scars. I typically never regret any adventures I take. With this one, I have two giant scars on my knees to remind me of that moment. I have learned a lot of things, and experienced a lot of things. I have become smarter from it. And hopefully, so will have you.

Determined to not let my accident destroy my trip. I continued to hike, bike, climb, swim. Which had caused it to infect for a week, but no regrets!

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That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. You don’t need to be a world traveler to join. I encourage everyone to write and share your cool experiences, near and far! You can check out the entire challenge in the original post here! Please also visit JulieVikkilawman, and Kailin as they will be with me in this blogging journey!

Travel Blogging Challenge – Week 3 (Funny Travel Story) Pandas!

How do I beat the story where I almost fell off a coconut tree? Or the time I saw a buffalo trip three feet in front of me?

I guess I will have to tell you the panda story.

Panda?

How often in my life do I get to see a panda? Only once. And it was awesome. 

I was studying abroad in Singapore for a semester. There, I met my awesome Irish friend Doireann. Among so many other awesome and unique things, she is a zoologist. The first one I’ve ever met in my life. We quickly became good friends and even traveled, motorbiked, and scuba-dived together!

One of my top places to visit was the Singapore Zoo, which features  a 26-hectare wildlife park. Who better to go with than a to-be zoologist? We planned a date, and made it happen. We also had a few other friends joining our little group.

Anyway, she had a long-term obsession with pandas. Dozens of things she owns have panda-related themes to them. She has interned and worked with baby pandas (cubs?), actually getting to hold and cuddle with them, which is awesome!

After about 2 hours of walking though the zoo, we finally reached the exhibit that Doireann was waiting for: the pandas.

Unfortunately…

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They really don’t do much…

We watched and waited.

For over two hours…

I mean, they’re pretty cool. Black and white, you know? But how long can it possibly lay there?

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A long time apparently.

After watching it for so long, we decided to walk around past the panda exhibit. When we came back, the panda had sat up into a furball!

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And then something truly amazing happened!

Are you ready for this?

 

Whoaaaa! I was so impressed. After hours of watching the panda do nothing, in just a few minutes, it sat up, and stood up. For food! Nom nom nom. Like Po in Kung Fu Panda, haha!

Just when I thought we have seen it all….

It started scaling the tree! Watching the magnificent 200+ pound fluff ball body climb up the tree was so amazing, yet hilarious. Lazy panda turns productive and athletic for food. Such is the life.

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What an epic end of a day at the zoo. This panda deserves a trophy! I doubt most visitors at the zoo were able to see this miracle. Maybe it reveals itself to those with patience?


That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. You don’t need to be a world traveler to join. I encourage everyone to write and share your cool experiences, near and far! You can check out the entire challenge in the original post here! Please also visit Julie, Vikkilawman, and Kailin as they will be with me in this blogging journey!

Backpacker Life

Whoa! This week’s photo challenge is Transient, which is right up my (and any other travel bloggers’) alley! Here are some of my favorite snapshots throughout my backpacking trip in various countries around the world.

Are you a travel enthusiast too? I’ve recently launched a Travel Blogging Challenge, that anyone can join! It’s a great opportunity for me to consolidate my travel photos and showcase your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more!

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New York City, the center of transience!
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Hiking up and down Grand Canyon in a day!
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Strolling through the ancient ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
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Hostel living
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Siem Riem, Cambodia
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So true, thanks Beatles!
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Colonial town, Antigua

Thanks for visiting! Cheers!! <3

Photo Challenge: Transient

Travel Blogging Challenge – Week 2 (Little Known Travel Tips)

Over the years, I’ve learned so many things from trial and error. I’ve slept on the border, I’ve fallen from a motorbike, I’ve almost drowned while scuba diving, I’ve lost some of my most prized possessions, I’ve almost fallen from a coconut tree, and many more which I can tell you about in Travel Challenge Week 4 (Misadventures). This week, I want to tell you what mistakes I’ve seen people make (including myself).


Little Known Travel Tips, by order of importance

For an authentic experience, skip the tourist destinations, do what the locals do. … I know right? Easier said than done. But from my experience, touristy landmarks are always crowded, commercialized, and expensive. They are almost always full of street sellers, all up in your face.

On the other hand, I’ve done some really cool things and met awesome locals through Couchsurfing, an excellent resource for meeting locals and have a free place to stay. Talking to other travelers also help in my decision for the next destination! Here are some awesome experiences I’ve had, off the beaten track.

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Semana Santa (Easter) floral carpet on the streets

To get the most authentic things to do, I turn on my creep mode, and start watching the locals. I steer clear of tourists, and follow the locals to the best spots in town. For example…

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Found this wonderful indoor market while wandering around the village.

Food is a big part of my travels. I always seek local foods while walking about. Here are some platos tipicos from Couchsurf hosts and local markets! Delicious~~ <3

Don’t plan everything. I know it’s really hard to do when you only have a week of vacation. I’ve met people who visit New York City with their every hour scheduled out. It becomes more of a chore than a vacation. You’ll start stressing out when things don’t work out as planned… and altogether unpleasant.

I like to put in an extra free day or week so that I can just wander around serendipitously. My partner and I always travel slower than we planned out. When we moved to New York, we had only intended to stay for 3 months. We ended up staying for almost a year!

Don’t be too stingy. I am so guilty of this. Spending, especially in a foreign country where the money value is lower than the United States, can be tricky sometimes. I have once slept in a tent outside someone’s house (with permission) in the rain instead of paying $15 to get a motel room. Yeah, I know. It’s crazy that I didn’t do it. But $15 was considered a lot of money in Honduras!! Another time, I rode on a rickety bus for $1 instead of paying $20 for a shared private van. There, I got my brand new cellphone stolen.

Phew! So be it whether I missed out on experience or end up losing things, I have made it a goal to learn when to spend and when to save. Being too thrifty can hurt.

It’s okay to travel alone. I’ve felt the most freedom and met some of the coolest people while traveling solo. I loved it because I was free to do anything I wanted. I traveled on my own on some days, but more than often, I met dozens of people at random hostels and traveled together.  Spontaneity is 80% of the fun. After I met my partner, I experienced the joy of sharing my experiences with a significant other. I appreciate and love both travel styles. Don’t be the one who is scared of traveling alone!

Working while traveling is a wonderful substitution for a 9-5 job. In today’s digital age, people can now work with flexibility. I teach English as a Second Language, earning $22+ an hour. Learn more about my post on it here!

Invest a little bit in the right gear. For a year, I lived out of my backpack. That means a few things. All the clothes I wear needs to be hand picked carefully. I’ll admit, most my clothes are cheap, mostly from thrift stores. However, I want to stress the importance of travel gear.

Because I carry so much stuff on my back, I decided to buy a backpack with a suspension system. This was my best decision ever. I chose a 40L bag to easily fit the bag as a carry on on a plane. It fit everything, including my tent, tent poles, and clothes. On my back, with straps on correctly, I hardly felt any weight!

Check out prices on Amazon!

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Hiked 13,000 feet up a volcano with my awesome backpack!

I would say my backpack was the most expensive thing I owned. I would also invest in down feather jackets for its warmth and light weight, a lightweight backpacker tent, and an ultra light inflatable sleeping pad. Clothes were cheap where we traveled, and I knew I would be shopping, so I didn’t bring that many. My shoes were just from Walmart. So take my advice with a grain of salt. 😉

Immerse in the travels, get off your phone. When I lost my phone (pick-pocketed in Guatemala), I thought my world had ended. Then I began to realize how much my phone had controlled me. I began to see independently, outside of my selfies. The freedom was eye-opening. I suggest everyone try it. Instagram can wait!


That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. You don’t need to be a world traveler to join. I encourage everyone to write and share your cool experiences, near and far! You can check out the entire challenge in the original post here! Please also visit Julie and Vikkilawman as they will be with me in this blogging journey!

 

Travel Blogging Challenge- Week 1 (Favorite Travel Photo and Intro)

I’m so excited to start off my 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge (you don’t have to be a world traveler to join this challenge)! This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. I encourage everyone to join and share your cool experiences, near and far! You can check out the entire challenge in the original post here! Please also visit Julie and Vikkilawman as they will be with me in this blogging journey!


Week 1: Your favorite travel photo of you and intro

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Yellowstone National Park

This is a photo of Buddy the Bison as he was about to walk across the bridge (about 3 feet from me) like a boss. This moment was phenomenal for me, because I had a fear that he was going to attack us (you never know, those horns are menacing). He ended up just walking right onto the bridge! It was the coolest thing in the world. Then, as all three of his hooves were on the bridge, he slipped! The poor thing! I was in between laughing and feeling sorry for him. It was so bizzare because the bison looked super cool and composed, with big, all-knowing wisdom eyes, I never expected that to happen. It took him about 30 seconds to regain composure and then crossed to the other side. We hung out with him for another hour, then moved on to view the geysers.


Intro

I’m one of those people people who never really knows what their doing. In life, I let my heart and impulses guide me, and trust that my wandering will lead me to happiness. One thing I never regret, is traveling.

I started my first trip by myself to Europe when I graduated high school, visiting my uncle in Norway. I’ve dreamt of traveling the world ever since.

Travel motto: Don’t count the countries that you’ve been to, but rather the experiences you’ve had in that country. 

Speaking of travel experiences, I was lucky enough to study abroad in Singapore, trek through jungles, climb volcanoes, explore colonial towns, climb a coconut tree, go back in time in a Medieval Festival, danced though the night at a full moon party, had dinner at a Robot Restaurant, motorbiked through Thailand, watch Broadway shows in NYC, and more! I’m so excited to share these stories with you.

I searched for remote work and now teach ESL online for $21+/hour. To save money, meet locals, and stay with them for free, I couchsurfed through 5+ countries.

When I graduated college, I met my partner, whom I now travel with. I’m so happy to be able to share all these beautiful moments with him. We’re both vegetarians, so you can imagine the struggle.

I think that’s it about me for now. I hope you find my posts interesting enough to follow my journey. Thanks for reading!! Welcome to my blog, and until next time! <3

 


Know any travel bloggers? Tag them here and join me!!! Let me know when you’re in, so that I can read your responses!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

 

21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge

Travel Heals the Mind and Body

Fulfilling one of my first goals of this month, I have created my very own weekly blogging challenge. This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. You don’t have to be a world traveler to join this challenge, I encourage everyone to join and share your cool experiences, near and far!

I’ve been on the road since I was born, but in a different sense. My parents were refugees and frequently move from place to place. Growing up, I want to take every opportunity to see the world, instead of sitting at a desk.  This challenge explores all my tips and tricks as well as things I’ve learned.

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

This post is meant to be fun and explores a wide range of your history and story-telling. Of course, I don’t plan to follow it to exactly every week. I’m so happy to have my blogging friends, as they made my journey through my first few months of blogging very fun and fulfilling!


Please also visit these amazing folks as they will be joining me on this blogging journey!

Know any travel bloggers? Tag them here and join me!!! Let me know when you’re in, so that I can read your responses!


Watch Broadway Shows for Less than $40 in New York City

What are my plans tonight? Oh, nothing, just going to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

What are my plans tonight? Oh, nothing, just going to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.


… Sorry, everyone. I’m really not that stuck up, I promise. I assume this is why a lot of people hate Broadway, thinking it’s where rich people go to lavishly spend all their money away. Well, I’m not rich. Not even close.

Of all things I could be doing, I never thought I would become an avid Broadway-goer. I have always loved musicals like Grease, Phantom of the Opera,Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, all Disney movies, and most recently, La La Land, but I have never been much of a theater-goer. But really, if the system allows me to see world class Broadway shows for cheap, I can’t say no… Part of me doesn’t want to write about this as it only increases competition, but I feel like it would also ignite bad karma.

We’ve all heard of Broadway before on TV shows, movies, media, etc. Broadway is a famous street that runs down New York City, known for its theatrical performances. It is one of the top tourist attractions of all time. The Broadway theater district runs from around the 42nd to the 57th street, where the famous Times Square draws millions of visitors from all over the world every day.

While Broadway shows typically range around $100-$500, we buy them at $20-$40 per ticket.

  • In the past five months, we have gone to over fifteen Broadway show tickets consisting of several Tony Award-winning & nominee musicals and other fantastic plays and off-broadway productions:
    • Hamilton ($200- face value)
    • Dear Evan Hansen ($200- face value)
    • Lion King ($30)
    • The Book of Mormon ($50)
    • Phantom of the Opera ($28)
    • Chicago ($37)
    • Kinky Boots ($42)
    • Cats ($40)
    • Sunset Boulevard ($55)
    • School of Rock ($37)
    • Miss Saigon ($39)
    • Present Laughter ($42)
    • Aladdin ($30)
    • Six Degrees of Separation ($32)
    • Avenue Q
    • In Transit
    • Arthur Miller’s The Price
    • And counting…

We did it, you can do it too.


Scoring these cheap tickets takes strategy, patience, research, and here is the secret (by order of preference):

Digital Lottery

Enter daily on each Broadway show’s site for a chance to win tickets.

  • This method is the holy grail of winning lottery tickets.  Most Broadway shows offer the option on their home page to sign up for digital lottery. We use Broadway for Broke People for the list of all the shows, their sites, lottery time, show location, and cost. The site doesn’t have everything and some information may be delayed, but is the source of a majority of our lottery wins. Since we live in New York, there is literally nothing to lose. Our best times of winning are week nights and matinee shows.

General Rush/Student Rush Only/Last Minute Purchases

Come to the box office when they open (generally around 10AM), and buy their first 30 tickets at rush prices (usually around $30-$40).

  • With popular shows, people will line up 1-2 hours earlier than box office open time. With not-so-popular shows, they may still have rush tickets available throughout the day. Personally, I’m not an early riser and usually not motivated enough to come to the box office at their opening time, but I have walked up to the box office an hour before showtime to ask for general rush tickets before. We purchased awesome seats to Miss Saigon using this method.
  • Student Rush Tickets, as the name suggests, are rush tickets only available to students. I keep my student card in my backpack at all times in case I ever feel like doing it.
  • Last minute purchases are super badass. You stroll up to the window at the very last minute and tell them that you’re only willing to pay for the show at their rush prices (even if their rush tickets are all out). The representative at the window will try to sell you the ticket at face value price, but you will stand strong. If the curtains open in the next minute, sure enough, they would rather sell you the seat for $30 than leave it empty. We bought our awesome Chicago tickets with this method.

In Person Lottery

  • This was the lottery system before digital lotteries took over. There is a 30 minute window, 2 hours before showtime, where you can put in your name to enter for a chance to win cheap tickets. These tickets are a little bit cheaper than digital lottery and requires you to be present at the time of drawing (exactly 2 hours before showtime). Wicked does daily in person lotteries, to which hundreds of people enter in. We haven’t won one yet, but hopefully, will sometime soon. 😉
    • [UPDATE!] I wrote this post earlier today, and we won lottery tickets to Wicked! The experience of entering lottery in person is so exhilarating- a feeling not so evident in winning/losing digital lotteries. I anticipated the winning so much, I felt that I was on top of the world! I was the 2nd person chosen for the winners. We paid $30/ticket in cash and went with it. It was a fabulous show, and well worth the money.

Standing Room Only (SRO)

Exactly as it sounds, you will be standing for the entire show. I’m not much of a stander, so I wouldn’t ever do this. The only one we have tried to do this one for is the famous Hamilton (which can cost over $1000 for a good seat). We came really close to getting the tickets, but not good enough.

Today Tix phone app

Awonderful resource for buying cheap tickets as well. Their prices are only a smidge more expensive than lottery tickets, and guarantees you a seat immediately. Today Tix also offers lottery chances exclusive to their app.

  • Because Today Tix already gives you seat sections to choose from, the cheapest areas are usually rear mezzanine (alll the way back), I think that lottery and rush tickets gives you a better seating option.
  • You also have an option to sign up to popular digital lotteries on there, with and increased chance of winning if you share on your social media sites!

Cancellation Line 

Finally, we’ve done a total of two cancellation line tickets, for Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen- valued at $400 to $1000 per ticket. These shows are typically booked out for months in advance.

  • By sitting in line until the show starts, you get a chance of buying the ticket at face value (cheaper than they could be, but not that cheap). 
  • CONS: This is my least favorite method of securing tickets, because there is no security. You might be sitting 7+ hours for nothing. I’ve met people who have waited 12+ hours in the day to see it.
  • PROS: If you only have one day to see the show and can dedicate an entire day to see it, then go for it. These are amazing shows and completely worth seeing. 

General advice that will help you score tickets:

  • Enter for digital tickets every day. Rain or shine. I can’t stress this point enough. You can’t win if you don’t play!
  • We visit Broadway for Broke People religiously for an easy access to the list of all the shows that have digital lotteries, the cost, the location, and where they will be.
  • Keep weather in mind. The more miserable it is, the better your chances are to get tickets.
  • We’ve bought last minute cancellation tickets through Craigslist before. It’s super sketchy with all the cheap tickets going around, but if they’re offering to meet you at the theater and wait for you to go in, it’s probably legit

That’s all folks, thanks for reading!! Best of luck in your Broadway adventures (and please, please let me know if my post ever helped you)!!! 

Guest Post: Explore your city – Get lost in London

Happy Friday, everyone! This week’s guest blogger is Josy from A Walk and A Lark. Her blog talks about all the beautiful walks she takes with her husband in the UK, Japan, Canada, and more! I’m a very inspired by the photos she takes while walking. We decided to do a blog exchange on walking in our respective cities (her in London and me in New York). See my post on Walking Around New York City on her blog site and join us in taking exploration walks!


Do you like to explore your own city? Or do you ever just get a little lost to try and wander around a new area? Or, even if you have lived in the same place for a while, have you thought of planning walks close to home so you can properly explore?

I love walking and exploring around London. Winta and I thought it would be cool to share three of my favorite places to walk. I haven’t given an exact routes for any of these as I honestly think the most fun way to explore is just to walk and even get a little lost. I’ve done variations of these walks so many times – so these photos are from all different seasons.

Hampstead Heath
Since I moved to North London I spend more time wandering around the Heath than anywhere! There are so many different parts of the Heath to explore. I’ve written about the gorgeous pergola and hill gardens previously. I love this Western half of the park (close to Golders Hill park and the Heath Extension.) The woods in this area are simply lovely, and normally quite quiet. It is hard to imagine you are so close to central London!

We live close(ish) to the South Eastern corner of the park, so sometimes we start there and head past the bathing ponds towards Kenwood House. You can pop inside the house to see some amazing artworks, or wander around the grounds by the lake and past the bluebells. If you go around to the North Eastern corner of the park there are amazing views down to central London as well as a quiet path along the edge of the park.

The most popular area is the parliament hill viewpoint. I have never been up there when there is not some kind of crowd! Occasionally my husband and I wake up early and take a detour to the Heath on the way to work. Even at 7am on a weekday they’ll be a few people (and doggos) admiring the view!

Regents Canal
Regents canal has a 14 km path alongside the canal that meanders across London from Paddington, through Camden and Hackney ending in Limehouse where it meets the Thames. It actually goes on even further West past Paddington, but most walkers seem to stop before that!! You really don’t need a map for this walk (just follow the canal!) but if you’d like to see the routes, you can find them here.

I like the area near Paddington, in the area called Little Venice, where you can see all the beautifully painted house boats. Then the section that runs around Regents park where you can see incredibly opulent houses with gardens backing onto the canal. The walk goes right past London zoos bird houses so you might see some cool birds as you wander past.

The section near Camden is incredibly busy at the weekend. But you can stop off for some yummy food in Camden market! Then as you head East (you have to take a minor detour away from the canal between Kings Cross and Angel.) Then the secenry becomes gradually grittier as you get further into East London. The graffiti increases, but most of it is beautiful! It is like a mini art tour of London! If you don’t want to walk to Limehouse, you can turn off towards the Olymic park and finish your walk over in Startford if you fancy shopping. I’ve tried all the options and they are all fun in their own way.

I don’t think you can find any other London walk that shows so much of the city’s diversity. You’ll walk through green areas, incredibly posh areas as well as some more arty hipster areas.

Regents canal panda

The Thames Path
This is probably the most famous of the three walks. I always recommend visitors to London to take a stroll along the Thames, but it’s great for locals as well. The Thames path is actually an amazing route covering 128km along the Thames. You can see the whole plan for the walks here. But as you are just following the river, you don’t need to plan it – just walk!

My husband and I have explored south past Greenwich to the Thames barrier (which is a gorgeous quiet walk.) We’ve also wandered West near Syon Park and Kew Gardens. However the most obvious part to explore is Central London. We used to start near Tower Bridge or London bridge, and then walk along the South Bank past the Globe and the Tate all the way to Westminster and Big Ben. This is a perfect sightseeing tour of London. If you like the sun, walk on the South side of the river. If you prefer to escape crowds, walk on the North side. Or keep swapping by crossing some of the beautiful bridges along the walk.

Tips for getting lost:
Download city mapper to your phone. Then wherever you end up at the end of your walk, you’ll be able to make it home!!

Lastly if you prefer a more structured walk, check out the amaaazing Capital Ring walk that loops the whole way around London. These routes always start and finish near public transport. And they go through parks and woodland, along canals, and through pretty residential areas.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out Josy’s blog at A Walk and A Lark <3