Tag Archives: travel

Things to Bring on a Trip Around the World – Pack light. Be happy.

Three days before my trip, I panicked—I hadn’t packed a single thing. I had procrastinated, hoping my backpack would magically pack itself. What do you bring on a long trip across multiple continents and climates? After much thought and research, I narrowed my belongings down to a select few. It was a painful process. I worried I would forget something, until I came to the realization that if I forgot anything, I could pick it up along the way. Whew! That mindset made packing easier. For instance, today I needed fingernail clippers. I forgot to pack fingernail clippers. (Long nails drive me nuts.) I found a pair at a pharmacy in Reykjavik, and I bought them. The most important thing is to pack light. Nothing is worse than carrying around a 200 lb. backpack.

The Backpack

The vessel to store all the goods. It’s important to make sure this bag is comfortable. I went to REI to try some on and decided on the Boreas Lost Coast Backpack. The designer in me wanted a backpack that was both comfortable AND looked cool. This particular bag won Editor’s Choice in 2012 by Backpacker Magazine. I discovered Boreas through my friend, Bri Scarff, who designed their website. The fine folks at Boreas gave me a special coupon to save $10 off any purchase of 2 items or more. Just use “KEEGJONES” during checkout.

I super-glued this California patch on my bag as a reminder of where to head home after traveling.


There is no need to bring the entire closet. I hand-picked a few of my favorite clothes that I already own. It’s unnecessary to buy a bunch of new, fancy travel clothes. Most hostels have a washer or sink to do laundry. As an anonymous traveler, I’m the only one who knows if I’ve worn the same shirt 3 days in a row. Who cares?! It’s my dirty little wearable secret.

2 t-shirts

3 button up shirts

1 tie (sometimes it’s business time)

1 pair of long underwear

1 sweater

1 pair of sweatpants

1 pair of Levi’s

1 pair of REI waterproof pants

1 pair of shorts

1 pair of flip flops (to wear in the hostel bathroom and on the beach)

Patagonia Down Sweater  — This looks like a light jacket, but is extremely warm. It’s also designed to fold into a nice tiny cube by stuffing the jacket into the front pocket.

Patagonia Rain Jacket — This jacket also folds into itself.

5 pairs of underwear

5 pairs of socks — SmartWool socks are your friend. They are comfortable and don’t become stinky like cotton.

Clark’s Desert Boots  — I love these. I picked up a new pair before I left, because I wore a hole through the sole of my previous pair. (I wore them every day for a year and a half.)

Pack clothes by rolling (instead of folding, this keeps them less wrinkly), and stuffing them into a compression sack to conserve space. Watch this YouTube video to see how to pack like a pro.


Most of the things below are completely unnecessary. But for someone who has an unhealthy obsession with technology, I had to bring them.

13″ MacBook Air  — By far the best computer I’ve ever owned. It’s super light and perfect for 90% of the tasks I need it for – including design and photo editing.

iPhone 5  — I discontinued my cell phone service while traveling. International data is expensive. So instead, I’ve been using my iPhone like an iPod Touch — bouncing from Wi-Fi hotspot to hotspot. After 3 weeks without cell service, I’ve realized how many times I impulsively check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Email. It’s freeing to have this distraction unavailable. Attention is a scarce resource and it’s a shame to mindlessly waste it on impulsive tendencies. Technology is amazing, and the benefits far outweigh the cons, but I’m practicing living in the moment instead of through my phone.

Canon 5D Mark II — Along with two lenses, the 50mm f/1.4 and 24mm f/1.4, inside a Crumpler camera bag.

Amazon Kindle — The battery lasts forever, holds hundreds of books, and only weighs 8oz.


USA Passport — This could be important.

Lock — To secure the backpack in a locker.

Belkin Power Strip — with travel adapter plugs.

Ear Plugs — To block out the guy snoring in the hostel.


Moleskine Journal

REI Travel Sack  — I ended up returning this sleeping bag. Most hostels have linens available, and this took up unnecessary space. Instead, I got a sleeping bag liner, which is essentially a sheet sewn together like a sleeping bag. I’ll use this in a worse-case scenario if the linens the hostel provide are bad.

Day Backpack

Fork Spoon — A man has to eat.

Map of Iceland  — My friend Jessica Zollman gave me the map she used during her trip to Iceland. It has hand-drawn annotations of cool things to do and see. Thanks Jessica!


Getting stuff stolen would be a bummer. I bought travel insurance through World Nomads. It protects against stolen or lost baggage and also emergency medical evacuation. I picked this company, because it’s recommended by Lonely Planet and claims can be made online.

It’s amazing how few things a person needs to survive. Life is simple, yet easy to complicate. Pack light, be happy.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.—Mark Twain

Written by

Designer. World traveler. Previously at Facebook and Gowalla. Tweets as @keeg.

Updated May 23, 2013


For The (Jet Bound) Digital Nomads

A few tips for the heavy traveller.

In the past seven years I’ve accumulated 425,990 miles over the course of 141 trips that lasted 1,688 days through 62 cities and 9 countries. By no means this is breaking any records, there are plenty of people that out-travel me in a New York minute, this is a quick collection of wisdom I’ve picked up through the miles and days.

  1. Purchase your ticket 24 hours in advance on your return
    You think it costs more if you book last minute than if you did in advance, right? If you fly as much as I do, it pays in the long run to have the flexibility and most importantly, full refunds on your flights if you miss them. I’d trade that for the $75 service charge and difference in flight fare any day. Plus, you never know what dots need connecting and how much time it takes to connect them. Flexibility and adaptibilty are your friends plus, flying by the bottom of your pants if fun from time to time.
  2. Life Savers: Apps and That
    Having an arsenal of information at your fingertips is crucial. This is the list of applications and services that have helped me countless times with the greatest of ease. My favorite is FlightBoard :)
    TripItFlightBoardKayakHotel TonightAirbnb
    HopStopHipmunk ▲ And every airline app you fly with, cause you never know.
  3. Horse blinders
    Ever keep your headphones in purposely to avoid having to deal with those chatty passengers that sit beside you? Finally found a solution, horse blinders over the eyes. Everyone leaves you alone. My flights are heavenly and usually asleep before take-off. A drop of Neroli or whatever essential oil that gets you to relax is a nice touch.
  4. Power packs
    Mophie. These guys have saved me for the one time many times. The Mophie brick can charge four phones and you get lots of new friends in the process. #nuffsaid
  5. The Internets
    Always Stay Connected is the new Always Be Closing. In the digital space, you can conduct business any where and any time. Gogo Inflight is a killer too. It’s easy to stay connected when you’re lost in clouds.
  6. Go nuts
    Best snack food to roll with hands down. Grab your nuts and go fly the friendly skies, you’ll thank me for it, and so will your body. Lots of stress going on during a travel day and going nuts will give you the fuel you need.
  7. Packing right isn’t always light
    Learn to pack. This is the key to travel and having an interchangeable wardrobe to sit on a beach or boardroom. There are videos on YouTube that showcase packing skills. The amount of gear that you can fit into a suitcase in under 50lbs is astonishing. I’ll have to take pictures.
  8. Membership does have it’s priveleges
    Lounges. Splurge and become a member. Can’t tell you how nice it is to be pampered before or during your travel experience. It becomes a second home. I internet heavily in these lounges when there are long layovers.
  9. Ask questions
    You’ll be surprised. Asked once if I could fly the plane as a joke, ended up flying a plane. Just ask for things, the worse that they can say is no. Worse things have happened. Ask what the rules are on things so you get it right from the horse’s mouth. See what you can get away with ;) It’s amazing what happens when you just ask the questions.
  10. Rental Cars
    Every city other than New York, rent a car. Used to bounce between rental companies based on price. Now I’m loyal to one company. Having a car lends itself to be flexible and adaptable. Cannot tell you how many times where someone needed a ride to an airport or what have you and now you can simplify their day with a chariot awaiting. Which ties in the next point…
  11. Help others
    Short people have a hell of a time putting their carry on luggage in the overhead compartments, be a good person and offer assistance. Do one thing to make someone’s life around you that much easier especially when they’re travelling. There is no telling the impact of that small gesture after you depart the plane. It could have triggered a snowball effect of good deeds. You’ll never know till you try.

Those are the pearls. You’ll find your own that suit your own needs.

Travel safe and travel well.

Written by

Recovering Narcissist. Maker of Smiles =) Habitual Line-Stepper | Made in Canada. Doesn’t tweet on Fridays ♥ @iamkhayyam


On Whether Or Not You can Actually, “Have it All”

Photos By Kirsten Alana

Photos By Kirsten Alana

I went through a fairly difficult divorce, at an age which hindsight has taught me was probably too young to be married in the first place, and I realized that my own desire to have what I thought society had labeled as “all,” was largely responsible for the mess I found myself in.

I’d gotten married to a person I didn’t fully love because he seemed like the kind of person I could rely on and I guess I believed that such reliance would surely lead to all the essentials of a happy marriage, happy wife, happy life. I became a wedding photographer because I thought that my lifelong love of photography would translate into a dream job; great income, flexibility, creative freedom, free cake on the weekends. I was living in a several-story house on a quiet street, in a quaint town with the keys to my own shiny Volkswagen. I had the metaphorical “white picket fence.” And almost every day I drove home from some appointment, event or errand, I would fantasize about driving off the bridge I had to cross, hoping that I might succeed in finding a way out of the dead end I found myself in. A place that made me feel like I was drowning rather than enjoying the spoils of marriage,career and suburban perfection. I eventually saw the frailty in thinking behind every decision I had made. I married someone I didn’t love because I didn’t want to be alone. I became a wedding photographer mostly for the money. And while I enjoy decorating, I hated the clutter that comes with having a house ten times larger than one needs, it fills with things that gather dust.

one of my happy couples

When my marriage imploded and I was suddenly left with no one to directly answer to in my daily choices, I resolved to pursue the dream I had always treasured but had let one person after another talk me out of because of its unconventional nature. That of being, a travel photographer. This of course would lead to visiting every country in the world, having love affairs on every continent, seeing my photographs in the pages of magazines, i.e. fame, fortune, many passports and much to brag about.

I traded one version of “all” for another that I thought was far more genuine to the person I really am, all while still being wholly unwilling to admit (or not even yet aware) that I was pursuing the wrong goal from the start.

I was certainly under an illusion that becoming a travel photographer wouldn’t be too difficult. I let a few early successes blind me.

It was my own fault that the deeper down the path of a freelance lifestyle I got, the less set up I was to ultimately achieve all my goals. I began riding smaller waves of success, acclaim, social media “stardom” and positive feedback all while moving farther and farther away from the kind of success that would provide independence and the ability to provide for my own material needs. When someone said I was great at something, I rested on those laurels. When someone asked nicely if I could provide a service for them, I didn’t bother to ask for compensation, I took their thankfulness and social promotion as payment.


I was told with increasing frequency that I had a “dream job,” even while I was nomadic, living out of a suitcase and drifting from assignment to assignment because I couldn’t afford a home based on my income (or lack thereof). I had achieved most of the outward appearances of success. Mainly, fame or notoriety on a level just large enough to drown out the realities of my day-to-day for anyone who didn’t look too closely or who failed to read my personal Facebook status updates. I was seeing places some people never lay eyes on no matter how long they live. Wasn’t that, just in itself, “having it all?”

Then, I turned 32 years old, alone, on a beach in Western Australia so far from my closest friends and family that I was, actually, on the opposite side of the globe.

Just like I had during my divorce, I asked myself what would make me happy? I realized that the definition of happiness for me did not only contain the word travel. It didn’t mean always being so far from friends and family. It didn’t involve empty love affairs with men who had no real interest in me, aside from the sex they might have with me. It did not include being nomadic and it was not defined by a job or the number of followers I had on twitter.

Even though I didn’t want to be nomadic, I also didn’t want the rambling, dust-gathering home I had once been a co-owner of.

Even though I wanted more than just sex, I wasn’t sure I needed marriage. I also knew I would rather be alone, but near good friends, than in a relationship just to avoid being single.

Even though I loved traveling, I didn’t need to have a life where the number of countries I have visited is five times larger than the amount of languages I can speak and the plot is lost because accumulating new experiences is rated higher than really digging in to the culture of another place entirely different from my home.

Yet again, life (or fate? God? destiny?) intervened and a problem necessitated that I journey to New York City instead of continuing on to my next assignment in Europe, following my trip to Australia.

It was there, during the week following Valentine’s Day, while getting to know my now-boyfriend, that I finally began to see the lesson that had been staring me in the face for all the years I had been traveling as a nomad trying to be a travel photographer and eventually, also, a writer…

My definition of happiness had always been based on outward, societal vignettes where success was determined by my status as single or married, employed or unemployed, rich or poor. Even while “pursuing my dreams” I hadn’t stopped to ask whether I was actually enjoying the life I was building. I was merely stumbling forward toward the picture I had painted and instead of allowing for edits, I had lost sight of the intricate beauty that comes in the day to day of creating something.

I thought it was all, or nothing.

Now I don’t have the dream job I once wanted but I have some work that is very meaningful which makes me happy. I have the kind of mature love that doesn’t expect perfection and the kind of lover who is a partner, not a one night stand or an obligation. I don’t have the stirling health I’d like because I once took good health for granted while I wandered, but I do have the chance now to stabilize things. I don’t have an income that would fit the average definition of success but I have learned to live with less and I appreciate everything I do have. I also know that if I want more, there are things I can do in order to have more. No laurels can replace hard, honest work.

Finding My Joy in Indonesia (photo by Ravindra Boelle)

So, is there such a thing as having it all? No. Well, yes. I think you can have it all if you really want to, just not all at the same time. I think every dream worth having is worth pursuing but the expectation that reality will be as glossy as our dreams, or the dreams society tells us to work toward, supplants the truth that life can appear shiny while still leading to misery — if our hearts and minds are focused only on what it looks like to everyone else; instead of how much joy we actually grasp in each breath, moment, truth, opportunity and person that fills our day-to-day.

Further Reading

The noise of stuff

 — How clutter affects you and what you can do about it.

You Can’t Have It All, but You Can Have Cake

 — MY favorite thing is a bakery, and my favorite thing about where I live is how many bakeries are a dog’s walk away. Dogs aren’t allowed i…

The Problem With Trying To Be Wonder Woman

 — Women still think they’re supposed to have it all, and these insane expectations are dragging them down, according to Debora Spar, author…

Written by

Travel photographer, writer, former nomad. Assorted other things on occasion which are outlined at www.kirstenalana.com

Published September 13, 2013


5 Odd Lessons Learned From Long-Term Travel

97 days. 24 cities. 7 countries. Here’s what I learned.


97 days. 24 cities. 7 countries.

Words can’t explain how amazing this trip was. The perspective an experience like this gives you is truly priceless.

I learned a lot. I learned about human beings. I learned about myself. And I learned that most of what I’ve been taught was wrong.

I learned more in three months traveling the world than I did in four years of college…wait I mean five (I went to a party school).

Living, traveling, and working in different parts of the world was something I’d been dreaming of doing since I was 16 years old—and I finally did it.

During my adolescent years, my rebellious, non-conformist ideas of what life should actually be started brewing.

I struggled a lot with trying to balance what society wanted for me, and what I truly wanted for myself. I think we all do in some way.

So I started trying to do both. It didn’t work very well.

I was working at jobs most people would do pretty much anything for. I had a “legit” job at 3M coming right out of college. Living in Manhattan, company car, expense account—the works.

And eventually got recruited to work at Google.

But, deep down there was a little fire smoldering. For many years I watched others with envy living the life I dreamt of, running right past me and splashing kerosene on my little fire.

When I finally did make the leap, I thought long and hard about what my founding principles for “Why I Left Google” would be.

I decided I would make my work feel like play, and my play feel like work.

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.”

James Michener

So you might be wondering…is it possible? To travel and work (productively) at the same time?

It’s more than possible, friendo.

I even took it to the extreme and scheduled a product launch in the middle of my travels throughout Southeast Asia.

I learned how to stay sane (which doesn’t mean I didn’t go slightly insane) during one of the most important phases of my business.

I believe it’s safe throughout these travels I packed my bags and hit the road at least 30 times.

I’d like to share some odd and somewhat surprising lessons that I hope serve useful for you.

My attempt is to make these lessons somewhat general. So no matter what stage you’re at in your life, business, or career, it will give you some tangible takeaways you can apply today.

Lesson 1: Your perspective is wrong

It’s a tough one to swallow.

Practically everything you have invested yourself into emotionally in your life is based on one single standard and one perspective. The one with which you were raised and taught being the ‘right’ way to see the world.

And this, unfortunately, is wrong.

We all live in bubbles. We judge others based on this perspective. We even judge our own lives based on this. Ever heard of the phrase “first world problems”?

Well, that’s just the first step. So what if you acknowledge your bubble. What are you going to do about it?

In my opinion, your perspective could be sabotaging your life. I know that’s a bit hyperbolic, but think about how grateful you could be if you had the right perspective.

There’s only one cure—travel.

Far too often we’re stuck in the details of what we’re doing. This may cause you to feel alienated and just constantly suffer through the minutiae of your day.

No one wants to live in the fog. No one wants to feel like a chicken with its head cut off.

Traveling taught me that what I valued as the most important aspects of my life, my business, and even the small tasks of my day, were actually not that important.

Listen—just to be clear—I’m not saying this because I did a bunch of drugs and had some spiritual awakening all of a sudden.

And I didn’t go on this trip to “find myself”.

Seeing the way others live their lives, on a day-to-day basis, can dramatically change your perspective.

If you can learn to see things from a more ‘macro’ level you may find that you’ve actually been focusing on all the wrong areas.

If you find yourself stressed or stuck in the details, take a break and think bigger.

Stop and ask yourself:

“What’s my outcome?”

Ask yourself that question daily. It will always guide you in the right direction.

Lesson 2: No one will care that you’re not around

Seriously. But don’t freak out. I don’t mean your family and best friends. They care. You’re nice.

What I mean is: your colleagues, co-workers, business partners, employees, etc.

It’s simply not as important as you might think it is to be there physically in person.

Isn’t it funny that that’s one of the things people stress about the most when deciding if they can and should go on a trip?

Trust me—people will get used to it and many won’t even know you’re gone, especially if they don’t normally see you in person (and if you don’t tell them).

You can actually use this to your advantage. Be free!

The hard part is adjusting to a schedule that works for you, your travels, and/or your business.

Personally, being in Southeast Asia and needing to speak with people almost daily in the Pacific and/or Eastern time zones was sometimes difficult, yes.

But, definitely manageable. And so worth it.

Lesson 3: You’re spending way too much time

You don’t need nearly as much time as you think to work.

If you give yourself 40 hours a week, you’ll use it.

If you give yourself 60 hours a week, you’ll find a way to use it.

If you give yourself 25 hours a week, you’ll find a way to use it well and for only the most important tasks.

“But, Arman…I have so much to do and there’s never enough time in the day!”

I know, I know.

See, I found that less time was actually a good thing.

As the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) says, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So in this case only 20% of our time spent working will create 80% of our results.

I made sure to keep in mind I would only have 3-4 hours each day to get things done.

I even emailed my personal hero and friend Chris Guillebeau, world traveler and best-selling author, and asked:

“Do you have any tips on how to balance working while traveling?”

Here’s what he said:

“Well, I perhaps work from everywhere. I think an important thing is dividing the time a bit. When I’m in a new place, I do want to appreciate it, but I also want to keep working on my stuff since that’s what sustains everything. In a typical situation, I’ll do things like work in the morning and then go off exploring in the afternoon — or vice versa, it doesn’t really matter as long as you are able to make time.”

After reading his response I realized how much I was stressing about something that was not yet even a problem.

So, basically, just make time. There’s no secret formula. Just do what works best for you.

Once you decrease your available work time in front of the computer, you’ll get really good at finishing the ‘musts’ and stop wasting time on Instagram.

Lesson 4: Everyone is fighting their own battle

People are generally good.

Learn to respect other human beings and acknowledge the individual battle they are waging.

If you show a little genuine interest in others, you will be blown away by their intelligence and experience.

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll learn something enlightening, or at least develop your perspective a bit.

How about my friend Mr. Why Not from my guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia?

Mr. Why Not was a child during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime and mass genocide in Cambodia.

His entire family was killed and only himself and one brother survived. He was raised in a village and eventually came back to the city as he got older to make a living for himself. First, as a tuk tuk (taxi) driver.

He then began working at a guesthouse led by an Australian lady, who became his mentor and friend. Eventually, he started running the place.

Throughout all his life whenever he has been faced with an opportunity to do something new, or someone asks him whether they should do something, he always has the same response:

Why not?” Well, the name stuck.

Mr. Why Not is a real person. He lost his family. He’s a good person. And he taught me a lot.

I haven’t been to every country in the world like my hero Chris, but I’m pretty sure he would agree with me on this thought:

People are generally the same everywhere. We go through the same struggles, the same worries and fears, and we’re each waging our own individual battles.

There are more good people than bad in the world. And deep down, everyone just wants to be happy and successful.

What this means is that we need to acknowledge people on a human level way more often.

We need to “appeal to the nobler motives” as Dale Carnegie said.

Many times, when we’re so busy battling through life to reach our next destination, we don’t take a moment to stop and realize these ‘people’ we’re dealing with are on the way to theirs too.

This small change in my perspective and outlook has helped me forge closer relationships with people I work and interact with daily.

When people can see and feel that you are genuinely acknowledging them, they will acknowledge you back.

Lesson 5: The best way to keep in touch

There’s Skype. There’s texting. There’s your phone. And there’s at least another 100 apps and methods to stay connected with people.

These days, the options are practically unlimited.

But far and away email is still the best way to keep in touch.

It blows them all away.

Personally, I rocked my 97 days away and was able to pull off the product launch successfully. I attribute this mainly to my ability to handle email and communication so well.

And no, I’m not promoting my product. I’m not even going to link to it here.

I’m simply making a point that you need to make email management and email writing skills a priority in your life.

I watched so many people drop the ball while I was traveling. It was sad.

And they’re the ones at home with super-speed wi-fi connections working 8+ hours a day.

Over and over again, through the years I’ve learned that communication is the #1 skill you can have.

Don’t undervalue this.

P.S. The question at the beginning…is it possible to work and travel?

If you’ve ever, ever thought about attempting a similar type of adventure—just go.

Don’t even think twice about it. GO.

Stop asking people for advice on where to go, how to do it, what to pack, etc.

It all works itself out, I promise.

Every single little village, city, and country in the world is amazing for its own reasons. Just let go and allow yourself to have a real adventure.

Everything you need and/or are worried about is waiting for you at your destination. Don’t worry, they have Q-Tips in Nepal. Well, generic ones, probably.

I ended up visiting Bali, Myanmar (Burma), and Singapore all last minute simply because I was open to it. You never know where your adventures will take you…

P.P.S. Please, please: be nice to tourists. I for one will always treat visitors with respect and make sure they absolutely love my country.

I cannot explain how important that is for our world image and how people feel about a place during their visit.

To the adventures of life,

Arman Assadi

Written by

Founder and Chief Solopreneur at WhyILeftGoogle.com, soccer player, coffee lover, and obsessive world traveler. @armanassadi


Travel while you’re young

This is the time for small paychecks and big memories. This is the time for travel. We are about as attached to one location as we are to our favorite Chinese take-out place. We know what we like about it, and we take comfort in the familiarity, but that’s about it.
Jessy Tapper

Last June, Jeff Goins wrote an essay for Converge Magazine titled, “Why you should travel young.”

Spoiler alert: Jeff is a staunch supporter of travel.

Although the message is not new, I found myself nodding in fast agreement as I reached the heart of his writing:

While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Appalachian trail. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.
Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day.
While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

I’ve had these moments and I’ve felt these emotions.

The Khmer Rouge killing fields?

Two years ago I stood there in silence, unable to talk to two of my closest friends. I stood in sadness, moved by the terrible crimes and atrocities that occurred on the ground in front of me.

I stood frozen, thinking of the men and women and children and the pain they suffered. I thought of my Grandfather and his family—my family—and all they suffered through during World War Two—fighting and struggling and persevering to survive persecution of their own.

I stood in disbelief, selfishly considering the site’s affect on me. I was painfully aware of just how ignorant my world view was. I realized that growing up just north of Chicago I was never taught about the crimes that were committed here or in many other areas of the world.

Through that naivety I became aware of just how large the world can be.

I was a witness to how much there is to see, experience, and learn.

And I promised myself that I would continue to value travel and exploration.

One lifetime is not enough to experience all cultures. But travel, especially while young, is an essential step to becoming more aware of other cultures and people (it’s also an opportunity to see the beauty of the world around us.)

I’ve heard countless excuses as to why people do not or cannot travel.

Many of my young friends believe that it’s too expensive. Others argue that they can always travel later in life. Some suggest that it hinders career advancement.

Let’s immediately take the expense question out of the equation.

I have a good friend who traveled the world-–from hikes out in the western United States to South American trips to an adventure on the Siberian rail-–on a grad school budget. I have friends who have financed travel while traveling (they worked remotely or found local jobs.)

I’ve crossed the Vietnamese/Laotian border by van, driving over a road that was literally being built as we traveled.

Did it feel cheap? Yes. Was it scary? A bit. Could I have paid for it with the proceeds of a lemonade stand? Definitely.

Simply put: Finances are rarely a prohibiting factor to travel.

To the second point, that many people put off travel because “they will get to it later.” The Jeff Goins’ piece provides a fantastic answer.

In summary: it’s far more likely that someone will travel first and then come back to achieve great things (secure a graduate degree, fantastic job, start a new career, etc.) rather than the reverse.

It’s now or never to make travel a part of your life. You say you’ll get to it later, but if it’s not important now–-when you’re young and limited in your responsibilities–-when will it be?

Finally, people believe that any travel will limit career advancement.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have worked in two fairly corporate cultures to start my career. Both organizations stressed the importance of international experience. You need to have experiences in foreign culture in order to advance at these successful, global companies.

International exposure makes you valuable. It will fast track you within your own company or give you the opportunity to pivot into a new position (often with greater responsibilities.)

A final point about excuses…

I have heard these excuses used for more than long trips and opportunities to live abroad.

I have many friends that hesitate to take a week or long weekend off of work. Believe me, short trips won’t hurt your career or wallet for every reason listed above and many more.

Take that quick trip to another country when the fare drops. Jump at the opportunity to travel to a new city domestically or to an old location to catch up with a friend.

Travel is an experience, it knows no limits of time or geography.

As the world becomes increasingly connected your excuses become increasingly futile.

There is more value to be gained by embracing travel opportunities than avoiding them. An understanding of the world—of other cultures, people, ideas, and beliefs—has never been more important. Exploration—developing empathy and the ability to learn from and deal with the unknown—has never been more important.

Find the balance of travel that’s right for you. Take every opportunity to make that travel an important value in your life.

Move abroad. Spend 12 weeks backpacking. Travel for a month straight. Take a road-trip. Plan a weekend getaway.

Go explore the neighborhoods around your city, travel to states that border your own, or take a trek to an exotic location halfway around the world.

Do it while you’re young; set a precedent.

Small paychecks and big memories…right, Jessy?

Further Reading

Everyone Says I Must Be Running Away

 — My dad likes to ask what I’m running away from with my travels.

Stop Rushing and Look Out the Damn Window

 — Don’t be afraid to take time out in your twenties

Written by

VC at @lightbank; experimenting at @thelunchread; former BCG-er. I enjoy travel, movie trailers, big ideas, + University of Michigan sports. Twitter: @al0nd0n.


Two Questions You Should Stop Asking Women

and people, in general.



I don’t hate many things. I rarely get annoyed. But I’ll be damned if one more person asks me one of the following two questions.


How are you still single?




How are you broke?


Let’s review.


How are you still single?


I feel fine about my relationship status. I’m almost ambivalent. I mean, I’m not excited that I’m single. I’m really not. I want to get married & have kids and puppies running around the house. But I’m not in a constant state of worry or concern about it. Most of the time.


Some days, I love single life. Independence. The freedom to make my schedule without having to consider anyone else. Other days, I kind of want to poke my eye out when I see your engagement & wedding photos on Facebook.


When I go watch the sunset, by myself, & see couples on blankets gazing at the ocean and being all lovey, I’ll be honest… sometimes I think it’s cute. Occasionally I want to cry. Most of the time, it’s whatever. When I go home for the holidays, alone, again… as usual… yes, I do think it would be nice to have someone to share it with. Mainly so my family will stop telling me that I’m “going to be single forever” if I don’t stop being so picky & that my nephew needs cousins.


I understand that most often, you are asking me in that sort of “you’re so awesome, how are you still single?” way. But it’s gut wrenching on occasion. The answer is this: If I knew how I was single, I probably wouldn’t be. So maybe, please, just stop bringing it up. I’m fully aware of my current relationship status without you asking me how it is that way. Moving on.


Cabo Silleiro
Cabo Silleiro (Photo credit: FreeCat)


How are you broke?


How am I broke? This one makes me cringe but I imagine I’m not the only person in her late 20s that has had to turn a few things down because I couldn’t afford to take that last minute trip to Cabo (or, shit, rent a paddleboard for an hour).


I really don’t think you understand that when you say to someone “how are you broke?” you sound like a jaggoff (yinzer).


I rarely tell people I’m broke. Because I’m not. I have change laying around in my car, my desk, my sock drawer, & about 15 other random places.


We are so wealthy in America that most of us don’t even know where all of our money is. Truth.


So ‘broke’ is certainly an exaggeration. But occasionally, paycheck to paycheck is reality for a few weeks or months. And if I let those little words slip… please… dear God… don’t degrade me by asking me HOW. I’ve been working my tail off since I was 16 years old. I can assure you it’s not because I’m coasting. It may, however, mean one of the following:


  • I don’t want to spend ‘x’ amount of money on ‘y’. I also don’t want to explain my reason. It’s easier just to tell you I’m broke.
  • I’m currently investing in myself. Personal development seminars & courses. Books. That sort of thing. I understand that to many people, this sounds bizarre, so when we are out with friends & it’s loud & you’re drinking, the last thing I want to do is explain to you why I think this is important.
  • A lot of shit happened this year. Car stuff. Medical stuff. Stuff that was unplanned. Not sure about you, but my “shit happens” fund isn’t for spending on vacations. That fund is still being replenished from the Vegas trip we took in 2007.

    Cabo Home
    Cabo Home (Photo credit: FreeCat)
  • I voluntarily took a paycut in 2013. I quit a well-paying second income because I wasn’t passionate about it to pursue a passion that paid me 12 grand less this year. I’m happier, regardless, even if I am more broke.


I realize I tell you I’m working pretty often. Most of this is researching, learning, growing, & otherwise hustling so that one day, I’ll never have to turn you down. Because I promise I really do want to go to Cabo with you on a random weekend, just because.


And when we do, I won’t be broke.


I may or may not be single.


Read more – > https://medium.com/p/3065ac0be547




Staying Put Away From Home

As many travel to their families for Thanksgiving, Rosie J. Spinks tells what it’s like when travelling becomes a kind of home.

A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain t...
A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain taken by A. F. Bradley in New York, 1907. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/publications/siycfall_05.pdf http://www.twainquotes.com/Bradley/bradley.html See also other photographs of Mark Twain by A. F. Bradley taken in March 1907 in New York on Mark Twain Project Online. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Mark Twain once wrote that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” That may be true, but it’s usually fatal to a few other things too: boredom, ambivalence, and routine.


You’d be hard pressed to find a short-term visitor to Paris who remembers more clearly the dog shit ubiquitous on the city’s sidewalks than the beautiful architecture that towers above her. Or a vacationer in Bali who said the the slow Internet connection impinged on his enjoyment of the stunning azure water. As Twain hinted, travel extends our horizons while simultaneously removing us from many of life’s banal realities, thereby creating altered—some might even say better—versions of ourselves.


read more -> https://medium.com/the-magazine/abd7954b7993