Day 14 – What did you learn from traveling abroad?
Day 13 – A favorite travel quote
I feel that on Mr. Twain’s birthday, it is only appropriate to share his quote today. That being said, the guy had some great thoughts. I’d recommend googling Mark Twain quotes if you have a free five minutes.
Anyway, he’s got it especially right with this one. People usually do not regret risks taken. If you’ve got an opportunity to take part in an event, go somewhere or experience something - do it. And I mean this in all aspects of life.
So, go out there. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Day 12 – Someone who influenced you to travel abroad
Growing up, people always told me “You’re going places, kid.” It was not until recently that I discovered that their words of motivation and self-assurance would end true quite literally.
Without going into much detail or becoming too personal, this one is a difficult one. The first person that comes to my mind when asked who influenced my desire to travel abroad is not somebody I care for much at all. Technically she is not the one who influenced my love for experiencing new places, but she is the one who got me out of my comfort zone and onto the track for adventure. I used to be so shy and hating going on family trips because I was afraid to miss out on what was happening that weekend with my friends. I still get that pang of emotion when I’m gone for a few months and I see photos posted of the activities back on the homefront, but it does not hold me back anymore.
I was fortunate in high school to have my parents support my desire to go on three trips abroad. Ranging from 12 days to 29, those EF Tours packages really got me started. For those who know about the infamous orange and blue backpacks, I can understand what you may be thinking. And you tour snobs, shush! Traveling on a tour with a group (of my best friends, I might add) was the best introduction to traveling that I could have asked for.
So what influenced me to travel abroad? My maturing brain. Some girl who I thought was crazy cool for a short period of time. My parents and grandparent’s gracious gifts of cash. Now it’s mostly my fear of being stuck.
Day 11 - Did you have any milestones or “firsts” while traveling or living abroad?
One of the whole reasons why I love traveling is because every day brings new “firsts.” The original first occured when I was sixteen and took my premier steps on foreign land. In Helsinki.
From what I understand, most people’s first time out of their homeland occurs on a family trip or to see some relatives. Usually Americans go to Mexico or Canada for their initial foreign experience. Not me.
I went to Finland. It was actually a two-week trip to Scandinavia, but Helsinki was the first stop. I fell in love before I got off the plane. So many different languages, sights and people that were all new to me. I never wanted to go back to the mundane life stationed in one place.
Day 10 - Essential things to pack on every trip
I feel like I’ve gone over packing plans before, but I suppose it is something that you have to do again and again. The most important things for me to remember are photography related: camera, extra batteries, lenses and so on. Additionally, extra underwear is very important, even though I always end up having way more than I need.
I’m also a huge fan of travel-size products. By this, I mean I go to Target before every big trip and raid the travel section, ultimately spending fifty bucks on things that I will lose before the trip is over.
But more than anything, you gotta remember to pack a good attitude.
Of course, fancy luggage tags are important too.
Day 09 – A song you like from another country/language
So I’ve struggled with this one. I love music and I like to sing. This doesn’t mean I’m good, because I’m not. I’m tone deaf and I’m awful at remembering words. I am even worse at speaking other languages. Seriously, ask my Spanish and Italian teachers - you could see the pain in their eyes when I spoke.
The point is, I like music I can sing along to. This is exponentially more difficult when the tunes are in a foreign tongue. So instead, I’m going to share my favorite music-related travel experience.
In the summer of 2006, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” was the shit. It hit big in Europe earlier in the year and had just made it to America to become a top summer hit. I loved that song and it was catchy. So when I packed up my stuff and went on a group trip to Spain for a few weeks and forgot to put that song on my ipod, I was devastated. All those hours on the plane that could have been spent practicing my memorization of the lyrics were such a waste.
So our time in Spain was grand, despite the lack of Mr. Barkley’s hit. BUT THEN, we took a day trip to southern France. We just hung out for a few hours and checked out the beach, but it was at that beach in France that I heard it. Crazy was blaring out of a car’s speakers while driving by the beach. And it was that minute that I remember best about that time in France. That, and the berets of course.
Day 08 – A favorite food from another country/culture
So if any of you were to have a nice, little chat with anyone who knew me well in the first 20 years of my life, you would find out one thing. Actually, I’m sure you’d find out a lot of scary things, so I’m not going to put you in contact with any of them. The point here is that I am a proud member of PEA.
Picky Eaters Anonymous.
Now technically I should be a former member, as I have overcome my ways and seen the light due to a number of helpful souls. To give you an idea of the foods I have only recently began eating, here’s a list:
- Salad dressing
- Anything spicy
- Black beans
- So many other things that would probably make your heart hurt to read
Basically, the only things I used to eat back in the were hot dogs, pasta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken and salad sans dressing.
Thank the gods I changed! Still, I do hold my right to dislike certain foods. I despite pickles and mayo. Mustard doesn’t really excite me. And any meat on the bone annoys me (except for ribs - nom!).
The point here is that with my strength in overcoming my limited palate, I have discovered an entire realm of delicious foods and travel has certainly expanded my appetite and encouraged me to try native dishes. Thailand was one of the first places that I was really willing to try some new eats. Suddenly, my world (and stomach) was filled with curries, coconut soups and stir-fry noodles!
This is why Pad Thai (and Pad See-Ew) have a special place in my heart. The photo above is of my favorite chef of all time! As most travelers know, some of the best food you can get in a foreign country doesn’t come on a plate. It isn’t made in a kitchen. It comes off of a cart and you eat it with plastic utensils (if any!). This girl could whip up a mean Pad Thai that was as big as my head and only a dollar or so. You gotta love Khao San Road.
Editor’s Note: Choosing a favorite food from another country was rough. So many delectable treats all over the world! Runner ups are awarded to Israel’s shawarmas and falafels.
Now I’m curious. (And hungry.) What’s your favorite foreign dish?
Day 07 – Besides people, what do you miss from home
I don’t get homesick. That was my mentality up until my last trip. Sure, I missed my bed, my constant influx of clean laundry and free dinners on the table. But it really wasn’t home that I missed. I only missed the comfort of being in one place for a period of time.
That being said, this last trip (we’re just going to combine the three months of traveling into one nice, long stint) I felt it. Homesickness. It was a very uneasy feeling of new emotions that I hadn’t experienced before. I missed all the old things. My friends. My family. My bed. My clean laundry sitting neatly on my bed. But this time, I missed new things. I missed the warm summer nights. The American slang. I missed stationary living. And my neighborhood bars. And Mexican food. Especially Mexican food. [Sidenote: Australians have no idea what black beans are. C’mon, back me up here - is this not a travesty?]
So yeah, I guess I get homesick.
Day 06 - What does “home” mean to you?
I wrote this a couple of years ago while living in Los Angeles and I think that it sums up my opinion:
Fresno, California. My home away from home. Since it is technically my hometown, can I still use that idiom to describe it? I found out today that Fresno is among the thirty most populous cities in America, which means that it isn’t the small cow town that it’s cracked up to be. Bummer, I was really banking on people thinking I came from Manure City so they would take pity on me and invite me to their cooler-city-homelands for holidays now that my family is all jumbled up. The thing about Fresno that makes me most happy: trashy obese people at Black Friday shopping sprees that make me feel like a better person.
So clearly Fresno isn’t my favorite place in the world. That being said, the more I travel to faraway places and consider moving to locations around the globe so different from where I grew up, the more I appreciate my hodunk home for its positive qualities. My all-time favorite Fresno-related memory are the warm summer nights. Nothing beats that feeling of walking out of the Edwards Cinema in River Park at one in the morning into the fresh valley air. Movie theaters are always freezing, which is not a temperature that Fresnans are accustomed to. So that rush of 80° heat hits you, it feels like a godsend.
Recently, I’ve been coming to terms with the reality that I will probably not be living in America for much longer. I just can’t see myself ever settling down here. Now before anybody gets on my case for hating on the Land of the Free, this is not because of any negative feelings that I have toward my native country. There’s a huge world out there and I want to see everything in it. I want to live abroad and get the most out of the different places on the planet in more ways than you can on vacation. I’ll always be American, but I am just choosing to show my pride from abroad. I may have new homes, but I’ll always be a Fresno girl.
Day 05 – What do you bring with you when you travel?
My nerves go crazy and my brain gets frazzled before any big trip. This is mainly because I tend to get easily distracted and, as a result of this, can sometimes forget what I’m doing or need to get done. Needless to say, packing can be difficult. I try to make a list of everything that I need to remember, but it usually ends up looking more like a scribbled mess of incoherent thoughts than an organizational tool.
Necessities always include: passport, extra underwear and my camera. I’ve gone through a number of point-and-shoots over the years (disposable cameras may have been a smarter idea during college), but my newest DSLR is sure to last me a long, long while. That puppy gets its own carrying case and stays beneath my feet on the plane, despite the “Excuse me, ma’am, all carry-ons must be stored above in the overhead compartment” requests. Besides my passport, my camera is the one thing that I would quite possibly die without during my travels.
Day 02 – Where you’d like to travel next
The real question here is: Where wouldn’t I want to go? The answer would probably be Disneyland. I am the furthest from a Disney person (those living in/near Los Angeles know the type), and I can honestly say that it is so far from “The Happiest Place on Earth” to me. But, once again, I’m getting off topic.
For the first time in a while, I have no future trips planned. Sure, I’ll be seeing Rob again in Australia very soon and I hope to be teaching in Thailand or Indonesia within the next six months (Mom - if you’re reading this, I really hope to get out of here by the end of January, I promise!), but none of those are new locations for me.
My bank account will not allow me to travel anywhere unfamiliar before those more important trips on the horizon, but if money and time were no object then I would love to visit South America. It’s the second to last continent I have yet to explore (obviously Antarctica will not be on the to-do list for a while longer), and a seemingly amazing place. Specifically, I would love to go to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Something about that region has always intrigued me and I’ve heard you need to be on a waiting list for potentially years to even visit the islands. I’m not positive on this one and I don’t feel like doing research at the moment, but who doesn’t like a little red tape? The fact that it may be a bit restricted makes it sound even cooler! I actually sat near a man on my most recent flight who was reading a Lonely Planet for Ecuador and I was so tempted to ask him about it. Now I’m regretting my decision to let him be, but I thought it better at the time since I’ve been told that sometimes my uninvited socializing can be overbearing. Oh well. You snooze, you lose.
Day 01 – Favorite place(s) you’ve been to
Well they just get you from the beginning with this, eh? God, I said “eh.” Why!? While in Australia, I was actually confused for a Canadian more than once - which is quite ironic considering I’ve never even stepped foot in our northern neighbor, but I digress. My favorite place that I’ve been to is the entire world! I am aware that this a cop-out, however, for me to select just one or two countries that I love more than the others would just be too difficult.
I love traveling because it takes me to new and different places - not the same places time after time. Before returning to locations that I have already explored, I would much rather wander into a foreign land (except to visit people, of course). There’s something to say about the familiarity of a place and comfort of knowing where you’re going, but it really doesn’t take me that long to get to such a level.
So my favorite place in the world? It really depends on for what. Thailand has delicious foods. Indonesia has such vibrant colors. Israel has a proud and vivid culture. Jordan has the most hospitable people. Mexico has so many beautiful beaches. Australia has an unending list of things to do. Everywhere that I have ever traveled to has something that sets it apart from others. Similar to with people (who I absolutely value more if they have an opinion, whether I agree with it or not), all that countries need for me to be happy is its own nationality. I want the raw culture, the native people and usually the local dishes. (I
am used to be a very picky eater.)
The point is that I’ve loved so much about all the places that I’ve visited and it is far too difficult to favor one over the rest. So as the above image says, “I’ve have left my heart in so many places.” A little bit of me belongs to every country I’ve seen and vice versa.
And on that note, you must check out the Etsy shop of Poppy & Pinecone by clicking the image. Besides an adorable name, she’s got some unbelievably cute prints to order. I love them all and the watercolor map of the world is my computer desktop at the moment! Gotta love it when the artistic people combine maps with design.