Hometown: Temecula, California
Quote: “Just because something is scary, doesn’t mean it isn’t doable. You are stronger than you think..”
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
As an avid travel blog reader, I had stumbled upon Vagabonding. What a great find! It wasn’t so hard to find, however, since it is such an important resource to the travel community. I find it helpful to gain inspiration as well as stay current in travel topics.
How long were you on the road?
I don’t technically consider myself off the road just yet. I currently have lived in France for about a year and 9 months and travel every chance I get—sometimes 2 or 3 times a month.
Where all did you go?
Italy, Spain, France, England, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Thailand
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
I work for a French destination management company as a Project Manager
Did you work or volunteer on the road?
I have just maintained my current job at the French company
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
This is tough. I can find beauty and amazing memories in each location. I guess I have to go with my most recent destination,Thailand, specifically the North. Visiting Southeast Asia was so different than anything I have ever done. Of course, each country I visit unlike the other; but up until my trip to Thailand I had only visited Western cultures. Thailand was raw and real. The North is not as built up as other parts as Thailand but even in the most touristy parts you can still see the everyday life of Thai people. There isn’t really a façade and I loved that. Plus, there is incredible food and kind people!
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
My least favorite and most challenging are 2 different places. My least favorite definitely has to be Bilbao, Spain. But I think it is because I visited when all the locals were on holiday. It was honestly a ghost town. One of my favorite parts of travelling is experiencing the culture and talking with the locals. This was impossible in Bilbao because no one was there!
My most challenging place is Paris. There is nothing easy about trying to live and work in this city. Even going to the post office can be a challenge! I love it here but it is definitely not easy living
Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true? Did you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated?
Because I have traveled a lot, I don’t really have many pre-trip jitters. I am used to the uncertainties and unfortunate events that may happen when in a new place. They don’t worry me so much anymore—I just go into solving problem mode. I was a bit scared when going to Southeast Asia as far as getting vaccinations and such but it turned out to be a lot less scary place than I had imagined!
Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
TOMS and my backpack with a rain cover are wonderful. For colder destinations, under armor is light weight and keeps you warm. Money belts or passport holders are not worth it. Oh and a pack of tissues always come in useful.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
I probably could go on forever on this one. Once you break out of your comfort zone, you learn the most. Vagabonding is constantly making you adapt and experience new things. By having to undergo these changes, you learn something about yourself and the others around you. Viewpoints are broadened and understanding is deepened. You learn so much not only about the world but also about yourself. You get to experience new cultures, foods, languages… Everyday is different and you do your utmost to take everything out of each day rather than getting in a slump.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Life is constantly moving and so are the people in it. It is hard being away from my family. Now, I am at the age that my friends are getting married or having babies and I can’t be around for those moments. Sometimes it is hard to justify the sacrifice of missing important moments in the lives of your loved ones. Also, if I do ever decide to go back, I know if will be difficult. I have changed so much and so has my life. It will be a challenge to re-assimilate.
What lessons did you learn on the road?
Life is unpredictable and you need to be flexible. There is no point to stress over things you cannot control. If you try hard enough for something and be persistent, you can get it. Don’t let obstacles change your goals. Find a way around them and keep trying—one day you will reach what you want. No matter where you go you will find similarities in people but their differences are even more beautiful. Enjoy every second of your life the way it is now because it could change at any moment. Don’t let the bad things bog you down; learn from them and move on. There is always something you can learn from the people you meet—let them teach you. Just because something is scary, doesn’t mean it isn’t doable. You are stronger than you think.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
At first, it was sort of temporary. I was only supposed to move here a year and now I can’t break away from this life. I thought of it as a year of fun and adventures. Now I realize that there are hardships and negatives to any lifestyle you chose. It isn’t all ups, there are downs you go through as well. However, there the idea of it all being worth it has never changed.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
You are stronger than you think. Everything will work out. The obstacles and challenges in your way will only make it more worth it in the end.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
Just do it. I can’t tell you how many people tell me “how lucky” I am or that they wish they could do this. There is nothing different between you and me. I was scared, unsure, not rolling in cash, and had other commitments. But I did it and you can too. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Create your own ‘luck.’ Plus, it isn’t as scary as you think. Life will work out if you let it.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
I am actually thinking of spending several months in Southeast Asia starting this December or January. My recent trip was too short and opened my eyes to a whole new area I need to explore. Although I get to travel a lot, I want to have a extended backpacking trip and explore somewhere for more than a 2 week holiday.
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