Destination highlights from 2015

Tomorrow we head for Myanmar- a place we’ve both really wanted to go for a long time. And I just know it will be really unique. But many of our other destinations this year have been quite unique too.

Again…it pains me that I won’t be able to cram this post full of photos, (because I dropped my hard drive.) *deep breath* </exhale>.

But I’ll just have to turn the descriptive, writing magic up a few notches and try to paint these pictures for you.

Here are some of my favorite destinations from 2015.

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1 Photo from every country I’ve been to…

Guys. I broke the external hard drive that stores our photos.

Not to sound over dramatic or anything, but that is the nomad’s equivalent of a house fire.  Ok, ok, that’s probably over dramatic, but seriously. I don’t buy souvenirs. I take photos. I don’t keep journals. I take photos.

If past me was wise and backed up my photos on my back-up hard drive in Ohio in the Spring, then that means I’ve lost 9 months of travel photos and design work. (If past me wasn’t so wise or if my back-up hard drive ran out of space…than I’ve lost 4 years of travel photos…  I can’t remember which is the case, and I’ll find out when I’m in Ohio next.)

I’m not going to make this a rant about how sad I am or how frustrated, (and please keep the “you should’ve backed up your hard drive on the cloud” comments to a minimum.) In this post, I am going to do a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time (and should’ve done earlier). To make myself feel better.

One photo from every country (or more accurately, from every “place”) I’ve visited. Scrounged from the various places they’ve scurried off to on the internet or on other harddrives or old emails. I think there are 4 or 5 countries I won’t be able to supply photos for, but let’s see if I can cover most of them…

Because it was my dream to have one photo from every country I’d seen printed into a book one day, and I want to show myself that it’s still possible.

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An open letter to creeps

Male or female, sometimes we travelers encounter creeps. People who wear their impulses on their sleeves so to speak, and do so in exchange for respectfulness.

While I’ve been very fortunate in my travels, maintaining an almost empty list of “creeps met while traveling”, it sucks when it happens. Any kind of creep and any kind of creepy deeds. I’m being vague on purpose because I want to eradicate the notion that a person who has been disrespected needs to quantify to what degree, in order to validate the way they feel. If someone was a creep to you, it sucks and it’s not your fault, and you’re allowed to feel whatever you feel about it. So I don’t want to be specific.

But I will say this…

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15 things I notice being back in the US after 158 days away

While Drew and I are nomadic, we often include some US travel into our nomadic lifestyle- enough so that we don’t necessarily feel like expats. But this past “jaunt” kept us off US shores from mid-May when we joined my sister for her adoption in Ukraine all the way until this past week. 158 days across 15 countries and 3 different continents.

US-> Ukraine-> Latvia-> Estonia-> Finland-> Croatia-> Montenegro-> Bosnia & Herzagovina-> Slovenia-> Hungary-> Serbia-> Bulgaria-> Turkey-> Egypt-> South Africa-> Namibia-> US

After all of that, returning to the US is actually just as exciting as traveling. It’s long been hailed as one of the perks of traveling- the wonder of return. So rather than pontificating on the reverse culture shock, (or rather reverse culture wonder), I’d like to highlight 10 things that hit me when I return after a long time away.

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The tool no one knows about, but everyone should bookmark

I’m going to do some generalizing and simplifying here, and say that Drew and I represent two different kinds of travel hackers. On the one hand, Drew represents the kind of travel-hacker who has a lot of the functional information memorized. If someone asks the mileage price from A to B with XYZ miles, there’s a good chance he’ll know something like that off the top of his head.

I, on the other hand, represent a different kind of travel-hacker. Less “pro”. I have a familiarity with all kinds of the miles and points details, but almost none of the specific numbers are memorized. Just the other night I was trying to help my sister decide which cards she would need to get for a roundtrip to Asia. And I couldn’t remember any exact mileage prices- only ball-parks.

I imagine that this community has plenty of people just like Drew- people who have a lot of things memorized because they use that information nearly every day.

But it’s also full of people like me. People who know a lot of the generals, but still need to look things up.

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Jamaica crab legs

Why I’m ok with living in a resort, but not so much vacationing in one

We have been in Egypt for a few weeks now and I honestly still don’t feel like I can accurately say what Egypt is like. This is entirely due to the fact that this first chunk of our visit was designed to get lots of work done while living out of cheap Hilton resorts. Drew’s been calling it his “exile”.  Which…I find a little humorous…since we’re in Egypt. Biblical humor.

Has it been a success in that regard?  Mostly, yes. Despite rather slow internet, it’s been nice to have lots of long stays so we don’t have to toss hours of time to the across-town-transit-gods.

The only affordable food is room service, so we don’t waste time hunting cheap food spots. We’re in the middle of nowhere so there are very few recreational temptations as far as local city sites and the like. So, ya. For getting work done, it’s great.

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8 things we still haven’t figured out about nomadic life

Today, I thought of 7 things we still haven’t figured out about nomadic life, despite three-ish years under our belts. We may not have to worry about a dog who won’t stop digging up the yard or a driveway that’s impossibly icy in the winter, or any of the headaches ordinary people learn to live with. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own unique list of pain-in-the-butt realities. Every lifestyle’s got one.  Here’s ours.

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When it’s time to cancel a card…what are your options?

Ok. So you got a card because of the alluring sign up bonus and now that the annual fee is rolling around, you’re weighing the options as to whether or not the card is worth keeping. What should you do? What should you consider?

Well, here are some things to think about as you decide:

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Why I hate renting cars abroad

As Drew mentioned in his recap of our July Expenses, we rented a car yet again, even though we always swear we hate it.

And even though I wouldn’t necessarily say I regret renting the car, I am going to stand by my statement that I hate renting cars.

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Zenmanship: Covetous minimalism

“Zenmanship” is my zen penmanship.  

I am going to occasionally add to a collection I’m calling “Zenmanship” where I will experiment with writing about the angles of this lifestyle that interest me more than miles & points.  Minimalism, mindfulness, the human experience, etc.

For other Zenmanship articles, follow this link

We just got to Budapest a day or so ago and I spent a shameful lot of my time people-watching with the sole purpose of comparing their haircuts to mine. See, I just got a haircut in Ukraine and I don’t love it. And everyone is just so darn trendy in bigger cities that I find myself treating these cities like a giant Pinterest board full of styles that I want for myself.

But even in the smaller cities throughout Bosnia and Croatia I found myself getting distracted by people’s backpacks. The other week Drew and I went to a thrift store (we do all of our shopping very intentionally at thrift stores) and got a little backpack that we can use to take our computer gear into a coffee shop for a day of work if we want. It was the perfect little backpack but the straps are so thin that by the third day of hauling around heavy computers they started to tear. So now the backpack we bought for computer transport can only be used for grocery transport. Thus, I found myself backpack-watching.

The thing I hate to admit but the thing that is true unfortunately often, is that I am a bit of a covetous minimalist. I really really don’t like that about myself.

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