Tag Archives: travel

Here’s A Major Workout For You

So with another birthday looming and the start of the summer around the corner, I have painfully tried my best to up my workouts. This last year of traveling has been amazing for me mentally, but its been a little detrimental for my waistline. One of the hard parts of extended travel is keeping up with a daily workout regimen, but this guy seems to have gotten a handle on the situation. You may have already seen his video since it went viral (its currently competing with Nike, but we always root for the underdogs) but Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness spent 18 months traveling all over the world and ::gasp:: EXERCISING. While I was sipping cappuccinos in Italy and eating far too much soba in Japan, Steve was doing jumping jacks in China and push ups in New Zealand. Hey, it sure beats the gym. Way to make me feel guilty, Steve, but your video is still pretty rad.

Check out Steve’s Nerd Fitness website here.

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Japandemonium: Take II

Hello from Japan! In case you didn’t know, Dream-Ality Travels is thrilled to be working with JNTO and JTA for the next two weeks as we explore Japan and do what we can to help rebuild the country’s tourism.  I first came to Japan last October and had such an amazing time – I am so excited to be back, to check out a few new cities and this time not be so clueless! I’ll be traveling up and down Japan and if things work out possibly going North to Sendai or Aomori. The itinerary isn’t quite set yet, but thanks to the beauty of the JR Railpass I have the luxury of deciding where to go last minute.

I have no idea how I managed to get up at 7am this morning. I think it was that pre-international adrenaline rush I get. Or maybe dread for the impending 14 hr flight. Whatever it was, once the plane took off I was quickly fast asleep. I was worried about being stuck in a center seat for one of the longest flights out there, but I flashed a few smiles and thanks to the amazing people at ANA I was moved up to a window seat in the exit row right before I boarded. Thanks, guys! It pays to ask nicely and perhaps look a little helpless. I felt giddy as I kicked my legs up in the air and didn’t have to bother anyone with moving when I needed to get up. I was quite possibly the happiest person in all of coach on that flight.

So here I am at the Khaosan Tokyo Kibuki, a sweet hostel that my sister recommended. The heated toilet seat in my room was a fantastic welcome back as well. I’m happy to be back in a social hostel setting, but tonight I must admit that I’m keeping my head down until I get a full night’s sleep and feel more like myself. I did take a fantastic stroll around the Asakusa area though which was surprisingly very peaceful for a Friday night. The above photo is of the Sensoji temple lit up. I’m looking forward to heading down south to Osaka tomorrow to meet up with Neetha! And on Sunday we are volunteering to help out with the typhoon recovery aid in Wakayama – cannot wait to share my experience with that.

Random tidbit: Because of my flight time and the direction I was heading, the entirety of my 14 hour flight over here was sunny. So weird.

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The Soapbox Chronicles: One’s A Party – Reasons Why You Should Travel Solo

Happy Valentine’s Day! Oh wait, are you one of the many people who don’t have a Valentine this year? Is this day, in fact, an annoying reminder of your single status? Well, don’t fret! There are many times when being single actually trumps being in a relationship, and traveling is definitely in the top 5 here. Some people are still wary of traveling solo, but if you ask me there are definitely pros to embracing your singledom (or just ditching the friends or main squeeze) and venturing out on your own. So next time you are throwing a pity party about how you wish you had someone to go away with, put down the glass of wine and start planning your next adventurous solo getaway. Here are some reasons why sometimes one’s a party and two’s a crowd:

1)     Freedom to choose your destination (and to change your mind)

Before I backpacked through Europe, I made a rough outline of the cities I wanted to visit and about how many days I would stay in each place. However, once I hit Prague, I realized that I wanted to change gears by skipping Budapest and exploring Kraków instead. If I was traveling with someone else, they might not have wanted to leave the confines of our Eurail pass or take the 10 hour train into Poland, and then I never would have seen Kraków, the Jewel of the Nation, or been silenced in awe by overwhelming Auschwitz.

Traveling solo also gives you the flexibility to plan your days how you want them. When I was recently in Paris I was so happy to skip the crowded tourist lines and instead enjoyed relaxing at the Luxembourg Gardens or having a lazy day with a baguette on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. I slept in when I wanted, and other days I got up at the crack of dawn to catch an early train. Not having to worry about what someone else’s ideal itinerary is makes the journey a lot less stressful.

 2)     Being forced outside of your comfort zone

The number of times I had to eat at a restaurant by myself when backpacking in a month is probably more than the number of times I’ve eaten alone over a span of years here in the city. And I’m not talking about hiding behind a book or magazine either. Sitting at a café with coffee or a glass of wine became one of my favorite parts of the day when traveling, and I soon grew to love the time I had to myself to sit outside and people watch. Sometimes this even led to interesting conversations with people around me who I probably would have ignored had I been eating with a friend. Eating solo is obviously just a small way to be pushed outside your comfort zone, but when traveling alone you often find yourself in situations where you need to be a little fearless and striking up conversations with people is just one part of it. Which leads me into my next reason…

 3)     Meeting awesome people!

I can’t tell you the number of amazing conversations I had with people I had just met, and how easy it was to meet people when I was traveling on my own. I remember first arriving into Madrid, Friday morning at 7am. I was exhausted, looked pretty scary, and was in desperate need of a shower. The hostel I had just arrived at was serving breakfast so I went over and grabbed some cereal and snagged a corner table. Within a few minutes, I was chatting with a kid from London, and that night I ended up going out with him and several other hostelmates around Madrid. If I can meet people in zombie-mode (note: I am NOT a morning person), then I think it’s safe to say that you can too.

It’s natural that most people are nervous of traveling alone – one of my biggest worries about traveling by myself is not having someone there in case something goes wrong. I’ve mentioned this before on here but I think it’s worth repeating: when I was traveling I was so impressed at how people in the hostel all watched out for each other. I think in our daily lives we get so wrapped up in our own circle of friends that we often overlook the kindness and friendliness of random strangers. It was so interesting to see how people that are from all different corners of the world can really come together so effortlessly when we are outside of our normal lives. They do say strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

Hostelmates out in Barcelona. Justin (to my right) and I hung out more in San Sebastian, and Şenay (left) and I had a fun day out in Amsterdam a week later.

4)     Self-reflection

I just wrote about this in more depth in my latest post, but I think self-reflection is one of the most impacting parts of the solo traveling experience. And it really encompasses all of the above things I mentioned.  I didn’t anticipate how much I would learn about myself by putting myself in unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable, situations each day. It wasn’t always easy, and I had a few days where I did feel really lonely (especially in romantic Paris, ::shakes fist::) but in the end I was grateful to be able to have had this journey on my own.

If you have never done a solo journey, I highly encourage you to put it on your to-do list. It doesn’t even have to be a long-term trip either, you would probably feel rejuvenated just by taking a long weekend away somewhere closeby or a week off during Spring Break to volunteer abroad. And no, this isn’t something that is only for college kids or for those who are taking a gap year after graduating (why should they have all the fun?) so don’t limit yourself because you fear you are too old to be backpacking on your own. Enjoy, and make sure to tell me about your experiences!

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The Soapbox Chronicles: Self-Reflection & Rediscovery Through Travel

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

– Albert Einstein

This week was the birthday of one of my closest friends. She, like many of my friends, is unhappy at her job. However, she’s having a difficult time grasping the work and as a result its really affected her self confidence and professional capabilities. The above quote reminded me of her.

I remember going to a few happy hours with coworkers while at my last job. The conversation eventually turned to real estate (I worked with a bunch of brokers) and I always felt tongue tied or that I didn’t have enough to offer. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do my job well – I was there for several years and felt that I was pretty darn good at what I did if I do say so myself – I just wasn’t able to be engaged by the topic. I remember feeling that I must just really suck at networking.

Fast forward to 6 months later where my life has become a little different. I left that job and spent a few months traveling, having the time of my life, and doing some major self-reflection. During those few months I also started engaging in the travel community through my blog and in other ways, and I realized that I wanted to pursue travel as more than just a hobby. When I returned to New York I wanted to hit the ground running and look for new opportunities in the industry. I connected to a few travel related events in the city, and I soon found myself wrapped up in long, fascinating conversations with people I had just met. The problem wasn’t that I was bad at networking or talking with people, but that I just hadn’t found an area where I could really shine.

I’m still learning a lot about the travel industry, but what’s important is that I found something that truly sparks my interest and where I can connect with others in a way that doesn’t seem, well, like so much work! The truth is that if I hadn’t taken a chance to step outside my comfort zone and explore other sides of myself while traveling, I may never have figured that out. And if you are in a job that doesn’t suit you then chances are you may have some doubts about your potential as well. If that’s the case, then I hope you’re not afraid to step off the beaten path and search for what’s right for you, or to take a career break, explore some other options and get your hands a little dirty. Hey, an around the world trip is just one way to find some inspiration – I can personally attest to that.

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Meet, Plan, Go!

You know you’re back in New York when you get off a redeye and find yourself going non-stop until midnight. Oh NYC, this is why we are made for each other.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about returning back to New York after all this time. Sure, it was only a few months, but those days were packed with such amazing and intense moments that I walked away from the experience with so many new ideas and insights about other cultures and even myself. Not working full-time during this period has really opened up my mind – I have embraced a whole new creative side of myself that I never saw when I was alone in my cubicle for hours on end each week. Walking into my studio was also rather odd; after living out of a backpack or suitcase, it took me a moment to accept that I’m back in a place where I can actually unpack and settle in. Who would have thought that being back in a completely comfortable environment again would feel so uncomfortable?

Well, part of the reason I love New York so much (reason #138!) is because of the vibrancy and diversity of its residents. A few days ago I stumbled upon an event at The Crooked Knife over by Union Square put on by Meet, Plan, Go. Meet, Plan, Go is a company that is excited about long term travel, and encourages everyone to take a career break and see the world. They provide information and resources to help you if you are considering taking a year off from your job to travel, and also host events so you can get plugged into a community of people who have traveled extensively or want to. When I saw that they were having a happy hour event the evening I was back into town, I knew I had to go. And I was impressed to see a decent turn out with quite a variety of people. Over the course of the five hours (yes, FIVE hours) that I was there, I met some very inspiring fellow travelers who were about to set off on their 1+ year travel adventures, along with one girl that had just come back from a year of working at odd jobs all over the world in return for accommodations. I also was more than happy to give out tips to people that were in the midst of planning their trips, including talking about the JET program and other teaching English opportunities in Asia, the best beach spots in India, and how to find a reliable person to sublet your pad to for a worry-free trip. It was a fantastic way to transition back into New York and cope with my reverse culture shock, and also great inspiration for my next big getaway. I was speaking with the one of the founders of the company, and one thing that truly resonated with me was how MPG wants more Americans to embrace travel career breaks as part of enhancing your career instead of seeing it as a scary or negative move. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Why is it that in other countries taking a “gap year” is acceptable (and often times the norm), but in the States it is met with so much hesitation? I hope that more people are able to step out of their comfort zone and see how impacting an experience like this can be for themselves, both personally and professionally. It’s surprising what you can gain when you give it all up for a little while.

Meet, Plan, Go flyer

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A friend of mine shared the above Gizmodo video with me and it is simply inspiring. Kien Lam created a time lapse video of his year backpacking all around the world.

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January 2, 2012 · 8:31 pm

Decide to Go

“All you’ve got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!”

Across Asia on the Cheap, the first Lonely Planet travel guide written by founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler back in 1973.

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December 21, 2011 · 4:45 am

Crazy, Cool, or Just Plain Creepy?

KLM Airlines is using social media to let you choose who you sit next to on their flights. So, is this a push for business networking, or a way to have that great “I just met the love of my life on a flight” fairy tale ending? Not sure what I think about this, especially because 95% of the time I fly I just want to crawl up against the window and catch up on sleep that I missed out on while traveling. Wake me up only for meals or a Pixar movie, please. Then again, if it could keep the screaming babies away…

 

PS – Is it just me, or does the newscaster eerily resemble Shia LaBeouf?

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San Francisco

After an emotional and exhausting week, I headed to San Francisco to relax with some close friends from college. Shirin lives downtown, just up the street from Union Square. If you have ever been to SF, you know that I’m not lying when I say Up – her studio was atop one of the many steep streets that gives San Fran its character. Good on the thighs, at least.

San Francisco is very much a laid-back, mini New York. It has so much packed into such a small space, but with much less foot traffic than you would find in the Big Apple. We were surprised to find that we had the streets to ourselves on Sunday when we took a stroll through the town. On Friday night we went bar hopping on Polk Street, a great place if you are looking for a mix of bars and lounges. I recommend The Bigfoot Lodge if you are looking for a low-key, unpretentious vibe with a good crowd. We ended the night chatting it up with some other SF folk on the street, I do love the friendliness of Californians. Another great part of San Fran that we checked out was the Ferry Building which is at the bottom of Market Street. The Ferry Building has a fantastic marketplace with many delicious gourmet food and craft stores. You can also get a great view of the Bay Bridge from outside, and check out a cool art installation and ice skating rink across the street. Must do!

It was a laid-back weekend for me since I hadn’t had a chance to relax after coming back from India, but you can find lots more to do if you are visiting SF for the first time. I love California, and I can guarantee that you won’t regret stopping by here.

 

Bay Bridge, San Francisco

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Around the World


 

 

Map view of the 30+ cities I visited during my trip, starting in New York and ending in California.

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December 8, 2011 · 6:12 pm