Your team is down by one run. It’s the bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Tensions are high. Standing at home plate, you tap the bat a couple times on the white plastic. Sweat drips down your nose. You look the pitcher in the eye, waiting for the ball to release.
You see the ball- you freeze. Hopefully, it’s out of the strike zone-
“Steeee-rike One!” The Umpire calls, his voice echoing beneath the helmet and across the field.
It’s ok. You adjust your hands, lining your knuckles up. Your feet shift. The catcher tosses the ball, throwing it above your head. You prepare for the next pitch. You watch the ball come toward you, and swing, hearing a loud crack. The ball floats high up into the air behind you, landing in the bleachers.
“Foul Ball!” The Umpire grabs an extra baseball from his uniform, and tosses it to the pitcher.
That’s when you recognize- the ball seems to be dropping all at once. You have to choices: you can decide that hitting this next pitch will be impossible or you can try anyway. You think about it. You’re nervous. The team is depending on you. This is the first game of play-offs. What if you miss? What if your team is relegated to a short and unsavory season? It will be all your fault.
Decision time. The ball leaves the Pitcher’s hand. Time feels as if it is going by in slow motion. You know you can hit the next ball; you know the timing has to be just right. The tension inside your chest builds, and you take a deep breath.
You’re so busy thinking about how the last strikes happened, the pitch whizzes past you-
Your team loses.
Frustrated, you stomp back to the dug out and line up to congratulate the opposing team.
But, you never swung. The potential to fail proved more debilitating than the potential to succeed: in fact, the racing thoughts distracted you from seeing the ball race toward home plate.
And so, let’s rewind, and replay that scenario a little differently.
“Foul Ball!” The Umpire grabs an extra baseball from his uniform, and tosses it to the pitcher.
You don’t understand- the ball seems to be dropping all at once. Curveballs seem so impossible to hit! Now, you have two choices: you can decide that hitting this next pitch will be impossible or you can try anyway. You’re nervous. The team is depending on you. This is the first game of play-offs. What if you miss? What if your team is relegated to a short and unsavory season? Then you remember:
You’ve hit this ball thousands of times before. If you just make contact, this curveball will turn into a home run. You straighten your stance.
The ball leaves the Pitcher’s hand. You take a confident swing.
You hear a loud CRACK.
And the bat in out of your hands, you are racing toward first base, the field around you in a constant blur, your cleats pounding the sand, you overrun first base.
What happens next doesn’t matter. You are no longer at home plate. You are running.
But you leave the game proud. Whether the team wins or loses, you know that swinging in spite of the tension, anxiety and fear lead you to a better outcome.
And, like baseball, life throws curveballs at you. Your choices will not effect the speed, position, or velocity of the ball. The only part of the game you have control over in any given moment is the reaction you have to the pitch. And, your powerful, perfectly-honed swing.
Planning can seem like the most exhausting and daunting part of going on a trip. Many of the people I chat with don’t even know where to start! Below, are five questions to answer when wanderlust strikes!
Question 1: Why am I doing this?
Before purchasing your tickets, you need to know why you are going. Is it a vacation? Do you need a break? Are you trying to learn more about other cultures? Is it a time for reflection, or partying? Once you know why you want to travel, you can then move onto question two.
Question 2: How much time do I want to spend on my adventure?
Spending a week in a resort is very different from spending two months backpacking. If you have a week of travel time, it may be better to book a cruise, or use groupon to find a great deal within the dates you want to travel.
Question 3: How much money do I want to spend?*
$1000.00 will get you a lot in a week, and, if you want, you can stretch $1000.00 over a month while backpacking. Either way, your budget is going to effect what you do. The sooner you know what you want to do, the more you can plan.
Question 4: What do I need?
Before you go, think about your non-negotiables. Do you need your own space? Then spring on a hotel, or use points from a Barclaycard or scavenge groupon to find some great deals on places to stay. Do you need to have your day planned out? Go on tour with a group, so everything is pre-planned for you.
Question 5: What do I want?
After you’ve made a list of non-negotiables, write out all of the items you want. For me, when I plan, I want to stay in hostels with free breakfast. Is this a need? No, absolutely not! When you have a list of your wants and needs, you will be able to return to it while you are planning the trip.
After you’ve determined the answers to these questions, you can begin to research places, tours, and trips that fit within your purpose, budget and needs. Now, you have a framework to begin planning the logistics of your trip.
When I talk about traveling the first phrase uttered in response is often, “sounds expensive. How do you afford that!?” I just got my one-way ticket to Denpasar (aka Bali) for a measly $5.60. Sound to good to be true?
It’s not. Anyone can find these flights and book them for a cheap and thrilling vacation.
Which, is why I’m about to lay out the process I use to find the cheapest most inexpensive flight tickets around the world. The first summer I traveled, I visited over 14 countries in the course of two months for under $5000 dollars in Europe. This time, I have more time to visit, and a more flexible schedule.
I use Google Flights.
Google flights is an incredible way to find cheap tickets. It is easy to play around with the dates, and you can look at the differences in price from time to time. Additionally, google automatically recommends cheaper fairs within three days. If the trip dates are flexible you can compare the costs of flights on different days by clicking on the one-way feature and then looking at the Calendar option, which shows a bar graph of prices, listed by date.
Additionally, you can click the explore button on the map, and then see which locations and cities are cheapest to fly in and out of. This enables you to see which destinations are within your price range. If you can have flexible dates, this is the bargain hunter’s dream!
In addition to google flights, I use an app called Skyscanner. This app is popular in Europe, and was actually recommended to me by a friend in Scotland. Between Skyscanner and google flights, I am normally able to find the cheapest tickets.
I have in my possession three separate credit cards that rack up frequent flier miles. I have used these card for the past three years to pay off bills that I need to pay off anyway: such as my car payment, student loans, and my cell phone bill.
I applied to each of these while the company was offering a special. One card I have is the Delta Skymiles Card- when I got this card, there was an offer to earn 50000 miles for spending $3000 in the first three months. I live in Massachusetts- my bills alone exceed that amount! Right now, if you apply, and are approved, you can earn 60000 miles simply by using the card to pay your bills. How far will these miles bring you?
My one-way ticket to Denpasar was 45000 miles and $5.60. Out of pocket, the cheapest ticket I could find was $470.00. That’s money I can now use to travel and see the world!
I also have a Barclaycard and an American Airlines card. The key is to use them on your monthly expenses and pay off the balance in full at the end of the month. This way, you will build credit, and you will earn the miles necessary to travel as frugally as possible.
This post is a great guide, showing how to use all the different types of credit cards to earn free miles.
The money I spent on bills and rent paid for the trip to Bali. I would have spent the money anyway, and now, I am able to reap the benefits of the Frequent Flier Cards. Additionally, my credit score has improved, overall, because I have been paying off the balance at the end of each month.
And, if I can do it, so can you. 🙂 ❤
Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to partake in a Uniquely Boston Event- The Scooper Bowl, and recall how lucky I am to live in a city like Boston.
The Scooper Bowl is a unique fundraiser put on by The Jimmie Fund. There is live music, tons of people, and best of all: all you can eat ice cream! Anyone who wants to attend can pay $15.00 in exchange for two hours of all you can eat ice cream from several different brands. Every booth serves about four flavors, and there’s even a booth that sells frozen yogurt.
This year was it’s 35th year and it’s held in front of the Boston City Hall. The fifteen dollar ticket at the door is definitely worth it!
From there, it’s an easy walk to Boston Harbor at sunset. Walking around the harbor is absolutely free, and definitely worth a trip.
I remember the first time I went to Europe. I had planned it extensively. One of the luxuries I had was complete and total freedom. Essentially, this meant I googled cheap flights. London was originally a three night stopover on the way to Sweden. I was with my great friend Amelia, and when we arrived, we were exhausted from the shenanigans in Germany the night before.
Unfortunately, I could not sleep. While my friend rested, I ventured down into the hostel’s Pub. London Backpackers Hostel is one of those fabulous hostels that has a restaurant and pub located in the hostel, and connected to the street. The food is standard pub food, but after a 3 am red eye flight and less than three hours of sleep, the sausage and eggs tasted as though they arrived straight from heaven. As I sat down to eat breakfast, I heard some travelers talking at the next table. Being the extrovert that I am, I went over and introduced myself.
Within minutes, I found myself invited to go on a tour of London, brought to me by genuine Englishmen. How on Earth could I have said No!?
We left promptly. As I walked outside, I couldn’t help but think of all the works of literature conceived on the narrow, winding streets where I was walking. Our first stop was at Burough Market– which is very close to the London Backpackers’ Hostel.
It was incredible! There were cheeses from Switzerland, Meats organically cultivated, Vegetables fresh from the garden, and sandwiches galore. The best part for this weary traveler? The free samples. Nearly every vendor offered some free item to try. It was as if I had been given a second breakfast: sorely needed after the time spent on the plane!
From there we passed the original Globe Theater, where Shakespeare’s plays were performed. Eventually, we walked to the business district, and eventually made it to Trafalgar Square. However, by the time we arrived it was pouring rain! Never, ever forget your umbrella and jacket in London.
Nature is beautiful. It’s wonderful. Nothing beats being up in the mountains with no cell phone access. Life is just completely different when technology is unavailable, and, it is a great kind of different!
But, the real test is getting back to Providence (and/or Boston) without a GPS. It’s strange for us Millenials, no? I mean, I can only speak for myself, but I have lived in Boston for almost a year now, and I (still) use my GPS. When we began our eight-hour trip back, we somehow managed to get out of The Forks, ME without one, and enjoy the beautiful view.
Portland, ME just happened to be our halfway stop. Portland is renown for it’s fantastic breweries. We were lucky enough to find a brewery opened at 11am, which is precisely when we arrived there. Foulmouthed Brewery served some delicious ales, and I had a lovely drink called Save The Bees, which tasted light, delicious and was served with a flower. I also got to indulge in Vietnamese Carrot Soup, which was exactly what I needed midway through our trip.
In addition to rafting, I also got to enjoy the accommodation included in the price for the rafting. I already discussed the concept of a cabin-tent; it truly was wonderful! It felt exactly like adult summer camp, which was exactly what I wanted for this trip. Additionally, there were other available campsites where adventurers could pitch their own tent.
The overall ambience of this campground felt great. Every dish
I was served was delectable. I ordered salmon after the rafting trip, which was grilled to perfection. My friends enjoyed chicken teriyaki. After enjoying the meal, we could enjoy a dip in the hot tub, which was perfect after a long chilly day of rafting.
Staff at Northern Outdoors organized a fabulous corn hole tournament, in which most guests participated. The super-positive attitudes of the staff trickled into conversations with the many guests there. I really enjoyed the bar, restaurant, hot tub, and pool that not all campsites offer. I would highly recommend staying here, and would definitely check it out again!
Over the weekend I had an incredible opportunity to try White Water Rafting for the first time. I went with a group of teachers from the South Coast of Massachusetts and we went with a company called the Northern Outdoors. The total cost for the trip was $170.00 per person, but I got to say, it was worth it! The cost included a two-night stay in a Cabin-tent, which is a pre-made tent with four cots on the inside of it. It genuinely feels like adult summer camp. These structures feel spacious, and allowed my friends and I to enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of setting up a tent, which was great, since we arrived Friday night at about 11pm.
Our day began at 745, where we met our small group of 12 rafters at the Lodge. We were provided with two rafting guides- Ryan and Ashley. Both of them were super informative and upbeat. The $170.00 also included all of the gear we needed- neoprene suits, life jackets, and paddles. Ryan gave us a quick run through of what we could expect once we arrived on the water. At this point we also specified what we wanted for lunch, which was included in the total price- a choice between salmon, chicken, steak or veggie burger.
After the quick explanation of what to expect, we stripped down to our swimsuits and squeezed our way into the neoprene suits. It was a cold day, so we also had neoprene jackets. I gotta say, we all looked a little like the Incredibles with our Neoprene wetsuits!
After getting dressed, and going through the different actions, we hopped on a bus, and got off at the top of the Kennebec River. As a first timer, I got a little nervous when I learned that these were class 3 rapids. As I had learned this weekend, commercial rafting can only happen on classes 1-5; 6 is to dangerous. I could feel my heart beat a little faster as I hopped into the inflatable yellow raft.
“All right!” Ryan said to our crew, “The first task is to paddle across the river!”
As we paddled across, I looked over and could see the little curls of water up ahead. As a group, we needed to paddle in unison to control the raft. As I looked to the mouth of the river, I felt excited. We paddled toward the swiftly moving water. The current took our raft down river rapidly, and then-
“This one’s called the Big Mama!” Ryan called out.
The first wave crashed over the raft. Brisk water poured over our faces. In the moment, we all continued to paddle in unison, enjoying the current. Wave after wave tossed our raft up and down, creating an excited and gregarious vibe on our raft.
Each feature of the river had a unique and distinctive name, and between the rapids, we (the rafters) became savvy to the river’s tricks. Our guide helpfully pointed out Eddies, discussed the currents and informed us about upcoming rapids.
“Imagine being a logger and seeing the river drop off up ahead…. that’s what we will be seeing next. Magic Falls.”
Indeed, the river did appear to drop down. Our raft followed the current, and we paddled in unison to see the best parts of the rapids. After Magic Falls, we had an opportunity to swim in class 2 rapids. It was about 60 degrees out.
I knew I had to try this. I sat on the edge of the yellow raft with two of my closest friends- Steph and Jess. We slid into the freezing river and started swimming upstream. The water splashed over my face, enveloping my body, and entering every available crevice of the wetsuit. Once I got to the rapids I flipped over so that my nose and toes faced the sky. Waves crashed over my face, the current wildly bringing me downstream. I could see Jess and Steph close by. I closed my eyes and felt the current take me downstream.
Our yellow raft was up ahead, and our rafting members hoisted each of us back into the raft. Our wetsuits worked fantastically. We were chilly, but not nearly as cold as we would have been without our gear, and our bodies dried quickly. We reached an island where we stopped for gorp, and took a quick break. The other boat’s guide, Ashley, shared her tea with a fellow rafter who was shivering.
From there we continued down the rapids, enjoying every piece of nature around the Kennebec River. The scenery was gorgeous, and we saw a handful of waterfalls, even getting to experience sitting in one of them (pictures to follow!)
Overall, the experience was fantastic. The trip was incredible, relaxing, and exciting. The guides created a warm and friendly vibe throughout the trip, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try white-water rafting. We got back around 2pm, and were able to view a slideshow of our adventure and purchase the pictures while enjoying an absolutely delectable lunch.
Not only was this exciting, but being in the raft with no electronics or distractions provides everyone aboard with a genuine opportunity to reflect and connect: and, this is probably the most valuable part of the entire trip.
When I look at all the options out there, I am shocked at how easy it is to travel for free.
Workaway claims to be a site that sets potential travelers up with hosts to exchange services for twenty-five hours a week for room and board. The difference between this and WWOOFing appears to be that any skill is useful. Rather than limiting type of work to farming, potential travelers can choose to work in hospitality, child care, or even sailing.
Additionally, each host posts a detailed blurb about what they want and what they need. Upon exploring the site, I found that most hosts are looking for someone to work about 25 hours a week. I forked over the $29.00 yearly fee out of curiosity.
I’m really excited to explore the options out there!
On March 14 of this year, I turned 27.
27. I officially can not pretend I am in my early twenties anymore. I am an adult. For the past two years, I have been working around the clock, dreaming impossible dreams of traveling the world by myself.
The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know. When I first began this blog, I had no idea about writing or marketing. I still have no idea. But, here’s my new goal. This twenty-seventh year, I want to write at least two meaningful blog posts to this site a week. Unfortunately, I haven’t updated it on the several adventures I had between twenty-five and now: so, some of these will be reflective of adventures past.
For as long as I can remember, I wandered curiously about the lives of other people. It seems to me that everyone lives in their own fish tank. Think about the fish you see at a pet store. There are other tanks everywhere, but the fish are limited to the one tank they inhabit. We, the people at the pet store, know there are thousands of other fish tanks, and thousands of other fish. We know that the saltwater tank even has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Statue, and that the freshwater tank has a pirate ship. But, the fish only know one tank in which they swim idly. The goldfish have no idea that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exist. In fact, they have no idea that the ocean exists. Or that fish outside of their tank exist- because they are trapped in that one tank, and haven’t had access to the thousands of other fish tanks, ponds, or oceans.
Life is like that. We live and breathe and eat and sleep in a fish tank. Our cultural norms, and values are determined by the people and statutes around us. As a person, I have so much to learn from other people and cultures. I know that no matter how much I read, there will always be more to discover. I have now worked in the American system for almost a decade, and I know there has to be other ways to live.
I want to get out of the American Fish Tank. Hence, the Gap Year. Twenty-seven may be late, but it’s better late than never.