Travel Makes NYC Feel Like Land

I have a list of blog topics that I jot down when ideas strike me but I don’t have time to write an entire OMG post. When I go through this list weeks or months later, a funny thing happens. Old ideas don’t always make sense to me anymore. I forget where my head was at when I made the note. I literally have hundreds of these random topic notes. For example, I have one item labeled “a small concession in your 30s.” I assume this was to be the title of a post, and it’s maybe sorta catchy now, but for the life of me I’m not sure exactly what I was conceding at the time. I have some ideas now of what this could have been, but none of them necessarily sound familiar. There has not been an “ah ha!” moment. 

One of my topic notes is “Travel Makes NYC feel like land.” When I saw it again after what must have been at least a month, I thought I must have meant “travel makes NYC feel like home”..or even, “traveling for work makes NYC feel like home.” Because I feel like I usually enjoy traveling for fun, and less so for work. But even with pleasure travel, I always end up taking myself with me, so if I had any worries before traveling, being away doesn’t necessarily solve them. Being away makes me aware of other things, which in turn does help a lot, but it’s different…if that makes any sense.

But maybe travel does make NYC feel like land. NYC is my place- I was born and raised here. I know the crazies on the subway well. I know the familiar must-do sensation of pushing gently but hardily to get into a crowded train car. I know what it feels like to know my stop has arisen on the subway, even when I’m asleep. I know the feeling of walking along Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, even in winter, and feeling the warm comfort of staring at $4,000 dresses through crystal glass. I have funny memories of trying to sell rocks in Central Park as a kid and dreamy memories of listening to concerts on the park’s grass while wondering about life. 

I guess sometimes I feel adrift when I travel away from my place, and NYC really does feel like land. My familiarity with New York in addition to getting to be here for awhile helps me feel centered lately. Especially after I’d been traveling for months straight without more than 4 day breaks and suddenly am able stay home for awhile- at least 3 weeks at a time. It takes awhile to clear out the imbalance from all the travel or to even realize it’s there. But I think waking up in my own bed day after day has helped me feel centered when I hadn’t completely recognized that I was off-centered. Having a similar schedule that I can control is similarly appealing. Seeing friends and family when I want to instead of being physically separated from them is very nice. 

I never would have realized that NYC felt like land if I hadn’t traveled away from it so much. I might have been one of the many people who gets tired of the big, bustling city and takes it for granted…its easy to be that way. I get that way with other things and have to manually bring myself back to appreciation. But I was adrift in the open sea and then I finally was able to get back to my land, New York, and grab ahold for a second and say yessssssss… thank you beautiful city!!!! And New York feels like a refuge.

What can I give you guys from this experience? I don’t know- I’m still figuring out the lesson. I’m resting and enjoying for now. Perhaps that there’s a centering you can only find if you go elsewhere and finally return. That’s when you really appreciate your way back to where you began.  

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You Don’t Have to Go Far to Go Far

Going to Japan last year was one of the best trips of my life. I wrote about Japan a bunch in the posts Must Do’s for a Two Week Japan Trip as well as Working Easy In Your Thirties and  You Can Actually Do That Crazy Thing In Your Thirties. This year everyone asked me where I was going to go next – like I don’t travel enough for work… but they meant travel for fun. I’d love to go on another insane (good insane) major international trip like Japan, but this year I’ve decided to stay in my home city. This is mainly because I travel so much for work and I feel like I need a thorough spring and summer in New york this year. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have some of the same sensational experiences I had in Japan.

I went to Japan solo, and that was part of the magic of the trip- I really got to spend time with myself and explore all the places I wanted to see. Walking for 12 hours a day? I have no problem with that- but other people might. Skipping lunch and eating a beautiful, fancy vegan dinner every night? That wouldn’t fly for everyone but that’s how I scheduled almost every day of my Japan trip. Meeting cool strangers at Airbnbs in Tokyo and Kyoto? I excitedly researched each place I stayed at and ended up loving all of my hosts.

So when I booked work in Boston this week, I decided to make the work trip more fun by applying a bit of my Japan attitude to a city I’m extremely familiar with. I’d never been to Japan before my last trip but I’ve been to Boston countless times. So I decided to go somewhere in Boston that I’d never been before- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s the site of the most famous art heist in the world.

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The Gardner museum is also a simply gorgeous museum. I had no idea how incredible it was until I saw it for myself.

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Wondering the halls of the museum solo, I felt the same wonderment and solitude that I felt in Japan. I remembered the Edo Museum I’d gone to in Tokyo, as well as multiple temples in Kyoto and Koyasan I’d been inside that filled me with reverence and awe. I came into Boston extra early the day before work in order to have this time to myself and it was time well spent.

And both nights I was in Boston I took myself out to luxurious vegan meals (extra opulent for me because I really only eat dinner out alone on special occasions – like when I’m traveling for fun. Neither of the meals were very expensive- they were at traditional Indian and modern Chinese food restaurants- but to me they were indulgent and lovely. I could have been traveling solo in an unexplored asian country and I might have had similar moments of solitary contemplation.

I also stayed at a fantastic Boston Airbnb with a wonderful Ukranian host who had spent the last 8 months in India, living in an ashram and teaching autistic children yoga. She practiced hour-plus-long meditations, and told me incredible stories about her last 10 day vows of silence, the guru (teacher) she had in India, and various meditation retreats she’d been to and wanted to go to. She taught me some breath work she learned in India that helped with her meditations, and shared her vegan yogurt with me (she’s a vegetarian as well). I really feel like I met a kindred!

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The gorgeous cat, Lunca, at my Boston Airbnb

So although I’m obviously a big fan of travel, I don’t think it’s necessary to go very far to experience the intoxicating high of traveling. You don’t have to spend much money or even leave your neighborhood to travel away from your normal routine. If you can’t travel right now, try something new you haven’t tried before instead. Take yourself to a new place for dinner or explore a different area. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to before. Investigate a new museum and see how you feel when you’re alone with just your thoughts and your spirit.

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Lessons From a Fever in Your Thirties

I was traveling for work for the last 25 days, and for most of that time I was well- physically at least. Mentally, I was exhausted at times, from both the amount of travel and the sheer magnitude of people and bustle and noise constantly surrounding me at most shows.

But the mental and the physical are intertwined, and during the last week of my travel, I developed a fever while working in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s funny how illnesses sometimes sneak up on you, and my weakening muscles deceived me into thinking that I had always felt so unsteady. I tried to furtively stretch while still on the work floor, but every tendon in my body ached, and it felt more agonizing by the minute to simply stand up, never mind give infinite presentations and answer the slew of questions coming at me. Plus, my stomach was wrestling with my mind as well- telling me it was utterly starving one minute and then agonizingly full the next- right after I’d eaten only 3 bites of something.

My coworkers said I had The Cleve- a mythological disease known to strike first-timers to the Cleveland area we were in: the airport area of despair. You see, almost everyone who’d worked this particular show fell deathly ill at some point at least one of the years they’d worked it. Why? Who knows. The lighting is yellow and dim- sort of despairing. The convention center used to be a military facility, if that adds anything. I googled whether there was something up with the water supply in the area but my search returned nothing. No offense to any of you who may be from/live in Cleveland. The downtown area seemed awesome, but alas we weren’t ever near there.

Somehow I made it to the end of the work day that day, and with the help of lots of zinc and rest that night was able to make it back to work the next day (sick days are unheard of in my field during a show). Even though my muscles ached less and my stomach was slowly starting to unclench, I ended up taking it extra easy on myself for the remainder of the show…and even into this week. I probably should always be taking care of myself so thoroughly, if not more so.

This week -and last- I put myself to bed earlier and sleep in when I can. I eat and chew extra slowly in case my stomach turns on me. I lie in bed and bask in the sheer bliss of a few moments of extra meditation. Sometimes I’m not even meditating- just staring at the ceiling, feeling smooth sheets underneath me. I drink less- well, I drank less last week anyway. We had a Cleveland bowling onesie costume party one night, and somehow I got through that without touching a sip of alcohol. I allowed myself to go very slow as I packed for the next trip. I ran outside extra carefully this week. I spent a few lovely  moments staring out of the airplane window or watching a movie as opposed to trying to accomplish tasks. I let myself breathe. I give myself room.

And as I do, I feel healthier, but I also feel more loved. I’m taking care of myself as if I love myself and as if I’m treasured. And as I do that, all of those things are true to me.

But you don’t need to be sick to treat yourself with love.

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Unpacking After a Trip In Your Thirties

I just red eyed home after a thirty day work stint in New Orleans, LA, and San Francisco. I feel like the great warm state of California and the incredible city of New Orleans should have left me feeling refreshed but instead I feel in need of a break. A home break, not a travel break.

When I get back to New York after a work trip, I always feel excited and relieved. But I feel especially excited and relieved during the holidays, in December, when my little studio apartment feels like a box of love and light.

This morning, my body kind of ached to stay in my apartment and do nothing. The want was strong for money to just flow to me so I don’t need to travel for it anymore. My unpacked suitcase looked so neat in the corner of my home- I usually unpack right away, but this time I left my bag and slept.

I lit a candle tonight as I unpacked. I removed my items slowly and mechanically from their balled up state. I moved slowly through the evening, my body heavy. I wasted a lot of time attempting to bake a lone sweet potato that didn’t cook through. So I made a mess of things attempting to mash it. This sums up my time in my little bachelorette apartment. The remains of my laundry stayed on the floor as I shoveled sweet potato in my mouth and rushed out the door to see a play.

The evening is cold and bright. Holiday lights sparkle on balconies. My winter boots and puffy jacket are wrinkled from summer storage but they’re so warm and feel so good. I wonder where I put my winter hats.

There’s a lot to do and I need a break. There’s a lot of work ahead. Some good work. And a lot of people ahead. All good. A lot of holidays ahead. And I feel relieved. I feel overwhelmed. I feel dazzled. I feel distinctly New York.

And I have unpacked. I am home. This is what melancholy is to me. And I’m filled with surrender. Im filled with joy.

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The Happy And Maybe Sad of Independence

Happy Indepence Day to all Americans reading this! And I hope everyone else reading still enjoyed a nice summer Monday today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Independence lately- what it means and what to do with it. As I get older, and more summers go by, the realization of how independence works gets clearer. As kids, we had to live in a certain place, and eat certain things, and be around certain people. We had to do our homework and study very particular things and choose from a specific assortment of extracurricular activities. Now, in our thirties, we are truly not held back by anything. Our liberation is a strange realization to process at first because we tell ourselves that we have only a few choices when in fact we have many, many more.

Summer is the time I really think about my choices and options because I have more time to process. My job is less structured in the summer and I don’t travel for work again until fall. I could spend my summer solely watching tv, or spend it working on a new project. I could travel in the summer, or spend my time staycationing in NYC. I can say ‘I’m bored’ and do nothing at home or I can learn to sing again from YouTube videos, or sit and paint. There are so many options.

But these are only the simple options. I can also question why I live in New York (I can live anywhere in the country as my work is all travel based). I can also question my job itself- I can choose to apply for other jobs. I can go into a completely different line of work. I can dye my hair purple. I can get a dog. I can get on a plane to India. I can party all night. I can eat Cheetos day and night. I can never exercise again. I can exercise all day long. Some options seem insane, but they’re still options nonetheless.

There are just so many options- and it’s great but it can also be scary. Sometimes when there’s lots of open time ahead, I get scared because I want to use the time well. This fear can lead to sadness- I’ve felt bad in the past when there’s empty time, because time leads to options and options lead to dealing with choices. And it can be scary to realize how much independence I actually have.

However, when the reins are grabbed, and I seize the wonderful power of independence and options, there’s nothing more incredible. When I can enjoy my time, own my choices, and make my days truly mine, my joy is unmatchable. All the ‘busyness’ that’s used as a coverup for being afraid of facing ownership of my life can’t match independence.

So enjoy the summer and any time off. Allow yourself to own your time and don’t hide behind ‘being so busy’ with bs time- stealing tasks. Don’t just sit around being bored. If you have time to relax, own the relaxation. Make your own choices and bask in the joy of them. Celebrate! You are independent!

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How to Travel Into the Unknown World In Your Thirties

I’m writing this from Tokyo. It’s officially 2:30 am here.

I say “officially” because I just came in on a flight (two flights) from New York, and in my mind it’s 1:30 pm, so things are a little messed up right now. I was able to sleep on the flight for 8 hours (amazingly), but I can probably still sleep again now, even though my body thinks it’s the afternoon. I’m pretty adaptable like that.

So I’ll keep this brief.

This trip is something I’ve been planning for a few months now, and I kind of can’t believe I’m here. Literally, my mind doesn’t feel like my body is here. It’s a flaw that I have that when good things happen to me, I sometimes can’t accept them. I’m working on that. Also, technology is so advanced now that I can connect to anyone through my computer in milliseconds and not be so far away. Well, I am far away, but it doesn’t FEEL like it. Of course, there’s that whole language barrier thing, but I didn’t have to deal with it much at the airport today- I’ll encounter that way more tomorrow when I journey outside into the unknown in daylight- so it doesn’t yet feel like language is an issue. The flight to Tokyo from Chicago was 13 hours, so I know I’m not in Kansas anymore, but sleeping through most of the trip made Tokyo feel like a hop, skip and jump away.

I spent the past few months kind of unsure about getting here. I’ve never been to Asia, and I haven’t gone on a big international trip for more than 6 years. And I certainly haven’t gone on a solo international trip before. It’s funny, the whole point of this trip was to go to this completely foreign country all alone and explore with no plan, and be free. But then, a bit before I left, I began to feel anxious about going alone and having no particular plan. I mean, I know where I’m staying and have a trip outline, and I’m meeting some people here and there, but I haven’t filled my days full of manic activity- I just kind of want to be solo in a foreign world.

However, even though I fly more than 50 times a year and I still felt mildly anxious leading up to this particular trip- so I know travel fear can happen to anyone. I think this kind of fear stems from fear of the unknown. I like feeling prepared, and my plan to let go of things and remain less planned out caused me anxiety. Worries popped up in my head about about not bringing the right items and forgetting something Very Important and not knowing the language and missing some Very Important Sightseeing Places. I worried about feeling judged for not seeing things that were Absolute Must Sees.

But you know what? None of that matters. I’m here. I made it. I took a 13 hour flight, plus a 2 hour one plus a layover. And no one who matters is judging me…except for myself- the harshest judge of all, of course. And all that ever mattered to me was to stay open and loving and in flow. I just wanted to let go and let life come in. So I’m damn well going to do that as best I can. And of course I’ll probably feel afraid again, and things might be weird and foreign sometimes. But I have to remember that it’s not about the plans or the places. It’s not about the Perfect Itinerary or the Perfect Day. It’s not about the Must Sees or Must Dos. It’s about being in this very different place at this very particular point in my life right this second. It’s about breathing the foreign Tokyo air into my lungs and seeing how it feels. It’s about going. It’s about staying. It’s about the new. It’s about this moment.

So don’t be afraid to travel. Don’t be afraid at all.  You may feel fear but it’s okay. Go anyway. Grab the moment. And let go of everything else.

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I have no idea what this subway sign means. But I like it.

Why Global Entry Will Rock Your Traveling World in Your Thirties

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: If you fly a good amount (more than 4 or 5 times a year) and don’t yet have Global Entry, apply right now!! It’s amazing, and will save you so much time and hassle at the airport. I promise you will love it.

I use my Global Entry everywhere I go, including domestic locations! It’s not just for global travel- having Global Entry INCLUDES having TSA Precheck!

Once again, because this is a major selling point for everyone, including myself- Global Entry INCLUDES TSA Precheck!!! This inclusion is a wonderful feature. TSA Precheck is $85 for 5 years, and Global Entry is $100 for 5 years. Here’s why Global Entry is a WAY better option than TSA precheck:

For $15 more TOTAL over the span of 5 years, with Global Entry you:

  • Will be able to go through the very fast and easy precheck line at security NINETY FIVE PERCENT of the time, versus sixty to seventy five percent of the time if you only have TSA Precheck.
  • Breeze through customs at almost any international airport on a special super short Global Entry line versus waiting forever in the customs line with TSA Precheck (because you don’t get any international perks with Precheck).
  • Get a government issued Global Entry ID card with your photo that you can use as your ID anywhere, especially at the airport. (It’s always nice to have an extra piece of government issued photo ID, plus, in my opinion, they treat you better at the airport when they see you have that special VIP card.)

When you have Global Entry and you go through the TSA precheck line, you:

  • Breeze through a faster security line and get to your gate faster!
  • Avoid those stupid millimeter wave machines where you have to put your arms up!(We don’t know what that radiation really does and I like avoiding it).
  • Leave your shoes on!
  • Leave your liquids in your bag!
  • Leave your computer in your bag!
  • Go without those silly plastic bins that are always missing! (at most airports)

Here’s how to apply for Global Entry. It’s very easy.

I swear I don’t work for them and am getting no ad money out of this. I wish. I just love my Global Entry so much.

Also, here’s another blogpost I wrote last year about Global Entry, in case you want more info: Why You Should Get Global Entry In Your Thirties.

Enjoy traveling like the rockstar that you are! And have fun!

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Line next to me in Vancouver airport without Global Entry

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My line in Vancouver airport. No one ahead of me and I waited only one minute 🙂

How Do You Deduct Tips You Pay In Cash While Traveling (To the Bellboy, Cab Driver, Housekeeping, etc) on your Taxes?

I’m currently working in Detroit and just was thinking about when I’d have some time to change a twenty for a bunch of ones when a friend of mine posted on Facebook asking about how, for her taxes, she can deduct cash tips she paid out while traveling.

I realized that I didn’t exactly know the answer to this except that my usual way of deducting the tips I pay out to people in cash is mild guesswork. I know that when I travel for work I almost always tip housekeeping about $2-$3 a day. I rarely use a bellboy to bring my suitcases anywhere, but maybe would use one approximately 4 times a year in order to help me carry something or other up, and tip $2-$3 each time. I’d tip a shuttle driver about $3 about 8 or 9 times a year. Etc, etc.

Make sure you deduct your cash tips to hotel or transportation staff anytime you travel for work. The tips are actual valid deductions. If you’re self-employed, these are no-brainer bona fide travel expenses. But even if you’re not self-employed, if you end up traveling for work, the tips you pay in cash while traveling can absolutely be deducted if you’re itemizing deductions.

The deduction would be under ‘business travel expenses’ and the way you would note them in your records would be to write the tip amount on some form of receipt related to the trip in question. So, for example, if you tipped housekeeping and the bellman during a business trip to Detroit, you would get the hotel receipt (even if it was $0.00 because your company paid for the hotel) and write the cash amount paid on the sheet of paper. Then you would keep that for your records.

This may seem like nickel and dimeing, but these deductions are valid and can really add up, so you might as well take them if you travel a lot for work and are itemizing your expenses.

In our thirties, we should try our darndest to get better at doing our taxes the best we can, so we can keep the most money. We might as well- why lose the money you’ve worked so hard to earn?

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View from my hotel in Detroit. I’m here for 16 days, and a lot of tipping happens in all that time.

 

Are You Still A Good Friend In Your Thirties?

I just got back from visiting Jane in LA and it was fantastic. I’d been working in LA for two weeks, so I took the opportunity to extend my stay for 7 days at Jane’s apartment in Santa Monica. It was the best decision I could’ve made.

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Jane and I managed to spend 7 days with almost every hour together, and we still felt like we could’ve easily used more time. We went to all kinds of delicious restaurants, from brunch cafes to vegetarian taco places to incredible italian (we’re ridiculously happy foodies), while also managing to find a mac and cheese festival (9 different mac and cheeses in 2 hours), and quite a few great drink deals and happy hours.

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We also managed to both get quite a bit of work done together- between writing and blogging and marketing and other job-related things. We also got in quite a few physical activities such as biking for quite a few hours and running and walking all over the place. We met up with friends and coworkers and I even got to go to her weekly writers workshop.

In short, it was a successful trip. However, one of the things we talked about and have had quite a few serious discussions about in the past is maintaining our friendship even when we’re in relationships.

We’ve both found that it can be easier to maintain friendships when single. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with acquaintances who fall off the face of the earth when they find a significant other.

I know it has happened to me in the past, especially in my early 20s, where I expected all my friends to understand that I didn’t have as much time to spend hanging out with them. Some of my friends then drifted away- probably angry at me for being so stupidly unaware that I was pushing them away. Luckily, I realized what I’d done and now heavily prioritize spending time with my friends and family.

I feel terrible even thinking about those days, but I think you have to go through the relationship/friendship vortex to understand. At first, when you’re in a relationship, it can just seem like you don’t have nearly as much time to hang out with your friends. However, if you let that feeling lead you, and you stop appreciating and tending to your awesome friendships, you’ll pay a heavy price.

You don’t want your significant other to be your only friend. Even if you’re married, I think it’s a very bad idea to only hang out with your significant other, or only give minor thought to your friends. Worst case scenario, you break up or get divorced, and then you realize your good friends are gone because you’ve been pushing them away for years.

Jane and I always promise each other that we’ll tend to our friendship no matter what, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been friends for so long. During this trip we made a point to talk once again about prioritizing our friendship whether or not we’re in relationships. It’s actually a manual thing- you need to put friends right up there with career and relationships, especially during the busy, hectic years of your thirties. Good friends are strengthening and amazing- never take them for granted.

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How to See A City In Your Thirties

How to See A City In Your Thirties

One of my favorite ways to see a city on foot is to take what I’ve lovingly coined a “run-walk.”

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I’m a fan of running, and it’s nice to see new places and things in a city while also getting exercise. However, a lot of times when I’m just running, I don’t stop and really appreciate the scenery, nor do I take my touristy photos on the way. But when I’m solely walking, I don’t usually get as far, nor do I get the extra exercise I can get while on a run.

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I used to have a travel blog called You Somewhere Else where I wrote about travel tips as well as run walks and other fun and possibly useful travel habits. I’d photo blogged about my Seattle run walk before, and now I’ll share my Downtown LA one.

What’s great about a run walk is when something interesting comes up, you can stop running, and simply walk and take photos.

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Run-walks are usually longer than your run, but way shorter than a walk, because you can cover more ground faster. You can also run right past the boring spots.  You’re allowed to stop whenever you want and take as much time as you like.

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You can take pictures of bizarre things that strike you.

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Or scary things that make you want to go the other way.

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Or funny things.

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Things that kind of remind you of home.image.jpeg

Things that seem to come out of nowhere.

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Touristy things that are still cool to you.

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Things that are happy but sad at the same time.

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And beautiful things you may never have noticed.

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No matter what you choose to photograph and explore, I highly suggest run-walks in new cities, at least one time. They’re a laid back yet energized way to open your eyes to new sites. Enjoy the journey!

 

The Joyful Paradox of Saving and Spending In Your Thirties

Today, I was at the airport, sitting next to a woman who was having an extremely loud phone conversation. She had a strong Irish accent and was discussing hotels with her friend/relative on the other end of the line.

“But is it a 4 and a half star?” she exclaimed,  “I don’t want to be in another one of those low category hotels like before.” Her companion apparently told her something disagreeable…not about stars, but about price. “It’s $1500 now? Last time it was $1000. It’s going up!”

It’s possible that this woman was referencing a total cost of stay for a weeklong trip. Who knows? But in my head I thought she was referencing a daily rate.

And hotels really can run into the thousands for daily rates! They can actually get much pricier, especially when suites are involved! Those kinds of crazy high hotel prices don’t even require that great a stretch of the imagination! A friend of mine works at a hotel and she’s seen rooms multiple times that price.

How dare hotels charge those kinds of wild rates? That’s easy- because people will pay them.

Cost is relative. The woman on the phone at the airport seemed okay paying $1000 as long as the hotel was 4.5 stars or higher. Since the hotel had gone up to $1500, the woman was put off, but she didn’t seem totally averse to the new exorbitant price..because she cared more about the quality of the hotel than about the price.

And so it is with saving and spending…and a lot of life. Pick your battles.

There’s a great quote from the CEO and founder of the amazing home website, Apartment Therapy, Maxwell Ryan: ‘Save more than you spend in a way that keeps you happy and comfortable. You can be comfortable or uncomfortable on any level.’

Yesssss!! Even if you made 500K a year and furnished your Park Avenue mansion with the finest handmade furniture imported direct from Italy, you can easily find a way to want more and more… and still be uncomfortable. And if you made 30K a year and live with 4 roommates in a house in the far out suburbs with no car, you can still find ways to be extremely comfortable (well, you can try your darndest). The key to spending/saving comfort takes both knowing yourself and carefully planning.

As you go through life, you become more familiar with your wants and needs. What’s important enough to you that you’ll budget more money to get it? What can you forsake in order to save? Can you live without staying in a 4.5 star hotel? Are you more into spending most of your budget on dinners with friends? Do you want to shop only organic? Is living in the most popular, convenient (and expensive) neighborhood important to you? Do you value fancy cars? Once again- pick your battles. And sometimes it helps to throw money at problems you’d rather not deal with…

In planning your budget, and saving money, it really helps to know the difference between what you care about, and what you only think you care about. In this way, you won’t be a miserable wreck while saving. Don’t deny yourself your absolute very favorite things! Just find the things you can live without and go without them for awhile as you save. You can do it!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in  Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It's called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It’s called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

Portrait of a Thirty Something: Amy Adams

Our next Portrait of a 30-something is my friend and former roommate, Amy Adams. Amy is a world traveler as well as a travel blogger. She recently got back from an epic trip around the world where she went to Israel, New Zealand, Hawaii, Oslo, Turkey, Barcelona, and Athens all in the span of two months. She did it all for less than $4500 for TWO MONTHS away in over 7 countries including flights, lodging, food, and any tourist activities and souvenirs, so she’s a great person to talk to about going on an amazing trip without breaking the bank. Amy writes about her world trip and all of her travels on her blog, This Borderless World.

Amy formerly worked as a concierge in a hotel. She was also a flight attendant. She’s had travel in her blood for quite a long time. But this summer, Amy has been the queen of staycations. She’s walked almost every New York bridge from the Queensboro to the Brooklyn to the George Washington this summer, and she’s also constantly inspiring me by going out and exploring a new area of the city, or a new museum, or even a new cemetery! She just never stops!

Read more below about a 30-something who proves that life never has to be boring and that there’s always more to explore!

Name/Age/Location: Amy Adams/31/Queens,NY

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What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far? 

When I was 19, I came to the US with no plan, minimal possessions, very little money and the most excited, motivated, positive and enthusiastic attitude imaginable! The possibilities were endless and I was tremendously excited about being in the country of my dreams.
In hindsight, I love that free spirited, fearless, independent girl who did what she wanted, listened to her own inner voice and was never discouraged. After almost ten years of living in the comfort and security that a traditional life offers,  I’m doing a complete 360 and wanting to revert back to that solo traveling, wanderlusting free thinker! I like her better than the make-up wearing, brand name clad, conventional girl I became. My 30’s reiterated in the clearest way possible that life is fleeting… so live your truest life. I’ve wholly embraced this new (or rather old) concept and I’m very excited about where this takes me.

What do you NOT miss about your 20s? 

My 20’s were exhilarating and thinking back on it now is exhausting but worth it! Circumstances lead me as far north as Vermont, and then to the Deep South for a few years. Then I lived up and down the eastern seaboard until finally landing in my dream city! I wish I had arrived sooner but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world!

Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s? 

I’ve never had a nuanced existence- people either loved me or hated me. For the longest time I tried to reach this middle ground… which can only be described as “normal.” But I realized very quickly that I don’t do normal. Thinking about getting insurance or wondering when I should do my laundry or feeling the need to rush home and watch tv (instead of experiencing life) makes me sad. I was a risk taker in my 20’s and I miss that fearless, rebellious, and independent spirit! Everyone keeps saying you need a plan and you need a goal but I’m opting to live in the moment! No goals, no plans, no expectations, no limitations!

Any surprises about what your 30s are like? 

My 30’s have been incredibly edifying. I’ve been waiting for a while now to get excited about wanting adult things like a home, family, car, and a two week vacation. But I’ve come to realize that is not the life I want or the one I was meant to live. I’m one year in and I’m more optimistic and invigorated than I’ve been in years. I’m embracing my identity as a nomad. I feel younger, more energetic, humbler and psyched for a future unknown!

What do you find most challenging about this decade? 

At first I abhorred social media and believed it eliminated the possibility of establishing any type of relationship organically. Now I’ve come to realize it’s in fact enhanced the chances of meeting more people and making meaningful connections. It’s all a matter of perspective. Social media can be used for good or evil… which is empowering.

What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now! 

Living in the moment- every moment! And never ever letting other people’s ideas of a proper and perfect life affect my idea of my perfect existence. I also know there are like minded folks out there with similar unconventional attitudes and I’m excited to meet them!

What would you like to hear more about regarding the thirties? What articles would you like to read? 
I’d love to read about unique 30-something year olds who follow their own paths no matter what. I want to see people who listen to their hearts and drown out all the naysayers! I’m especially interested in those who “didn’t succeed” (according to societal standards) but are still on their own true path! I regard the persevering types as the most successful, interesting and inspiring. The most influential people on this planet died poor without a ton of support. They really are the wealthiest of all for they’ve truly taken ownership of their lives. That type of wealth can never be squandered!
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How to Save Stupid Crazy Money on Travel in Your Thirties..or.. Oh the Places You’ll Go..While Barely Traveling!

I love travel, but I love New York more. If I had to pick whether to travel and never return to New York, or whether to stay in New York and never travel again…I must admit, I’ve just stumped myself with that one…

Anyway…I’m lucky and grateful that I never have to decide between those two options. And I’m also lucky that I get to travel all the time for work, but during the summer, the work travel slows almost to nothing. And it’s during this time that I travel the most of all! But I don’t have to go anywhere! And I don’t have to spend any money.

I will explain.

I used to have a travel blog where I’d talk about traveling all the time. Ironically, I didn’t actually ever travel for pleasure during this time – only for work- because pleasure trips cost too much money for me. Since I’m still paying off my student loan– which I’m gonna kill dammit…soon..I save a lot of money by not taking vacations.But I found a kind of travel that costs me almost no money, is just as pleasurable as pleasure trips, and never takes up a lot of time. I go on staycations! I travel completely within New York, and see lots of exciting places..even ones I’ve somehow managed to miss during my 30 years living here!

My friend Amy does this best. She’s an expert staycationer who both staycations and travels the globe. No matter whether she’s exploring Greenpoint, Brooklyn, or wandering around Tokyo, she always goes alone. It’s pretty amazing and inspiring. She always finds great places to see and new experiences to have.

Amy recently walked the the George Washington  Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge in one day!

Amy recently walked the the George Washington Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge in one day!

So here’s how to save stupid crazy money on travel in your thirties and go on summer staycations instead:

1. Look for free or cheap summer things to do in your hometown

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I happened upon yoga in Bryant Park one day..I’d forgotten that it was a summer thing in New York. Pretty neat.

2. Find somewhere you’ve never gone in your city or hometown and go there.

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My friend Zach and I recently went to Governor’s Island- a little island off the coast of Manhattan- home to a bunch of museums, and gorgeous views and great picnicking areas. It cost me a grand total of $2.00 for the ferry.

3. Go to an area in your hometown/city you’ve been to but find a street or ave you’ve never seen before.

Saw fireworks on the boardwalks of Long Island City, Queens. Somehow I'd never been there before.

Saw fireworks on the boardwalks of Long Island City, Queens. Somehow I’d never been there before.

4. Go somewhere you’ve already been, but never appreciated as a vacation spot..and call it your vacation day!

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I love Fire Island beaches- and with 32 miles of beaches, there’s always more to explore.

5. Go somewhere in your hometown/city that just opened!

I went to the new Whitney museum off the Highline recently ..it's brand new!

I went to the new Whitney museum off the Highline recently ..it’s brand new!

6. Go to a place you’ve been to before but pretend you’re in Europe. Or Canada. Or America if you live in Europe or Canada. You know what I mean.

Ferry off the coast of downtown Toronto

Ferry off the coast of downtown Manhattan.

Ferry off the coast of downtown Manhattan.

7. Go nowhere, stay at home, and say you’re on vacation. Turn off your phone. Disconnect wifi. Call it ‘mental spa week.’

Ahhh, I’m starting to feel better already just thinking about mental spa week.

Doesn’t a summer staycation sound good? Give it a try! It’ll seem even better after you take a look at your bank account and still have all of your hard earned money left 😉

Why You Should Get Global Entry In Your Thirties

I was always that weirdo who opted out of the airport scanner machines. I never liked them, and I knew that the jury was out on their safety and health risks (even though TSA always claimed they were safe).

If you opt out of the scanner machines, you’ll be subjected to a patdown. I never minded much (free massage!), except that waiting for a patdown always takes awhile, and you’re subjected to gawking stares from fellow passengers who think you’ve been pulled aside because you’re a terrorist.

It was actually a TSA agent patting me down a few years ago who recommended getting Global Entry. I’m amazed that I didn’t really know much about the program even though I fly over 2 or 3 dozen times a year for work.

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If you travel at all outside the country, and hopefully in your thirties you’re doing a bit more of that, I highly recommend Global Entry.

You’ve probably heard of TSA Pre-check– this allows you to bypass the sometimes crazy lines and go straight through security in your own line.

Global Entry is basically TSA Pre-Check PLUS. You get all the benefits of Pre-Check, PLUS you’re able to bypass Customs when you return from most travel abroad…plus other awesome benefits. You get:

-To bypass the long security line at most airports!

-To leave your shoes on when you go through security (soo nice!)

– To never have to go through the airport scanner (known as a millimeter wave device). You always get to simply go through the metal detector as long as the PreCheck line is open.

-You don’t have to take your laptop out of your bag

-You don’t have to take off your light jacket

-You get more respect when you travel (when gate agents or security agents see my Global Entry card, things always seem to go extra smoothly.

– With Global Entry, your chances of getting PreCheck on your boarding pass are way higher than when you just havePreCheck. I get PreCheck on my boarding pass almost 100% of the time, but a lot of my friends who just have PreCheck (vs Global Entry) get it on their boarding pass around 60%-75% of the time.

It’s easy to apply for Global Entry- just follow the directions here. It’s $100 for 5 years, so only $20 a year- very affordable and super worth it!

TSA Precheck is $85 for 5 years, but you get none of the international and extra benefits that Global Entry gets you. So pay the 15 extra dollars and get Global Entry. It’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself regarding travel.

You Kinda Just Had To Be There. (or- The Bats Fly At Sundown)

I used to have a boyfriend who didn’t understand travel. He had no idea why I liked traveling so much or why I felt the need to personally go and see so many different places.

“You can see them online,” he said, (he was a major techie), “you can see photos and videos and you can read about any place you want on the internet with some googling. There are so many travel blogs and there’s Wikipedia. Why do you need to go there?”

It always made me sad that some people (especially ones close to me) don’t understand how the internet can’t capture the feeling of a place. Photos and video and even the most beautiful words aren’t the same as actually being somewhere.

In my thirties I travel more than ever. I travel for work most of the time, but I’d love to travel more for pleasure (Soon! Right now, I usually stay put in New York when I’m off from work..this is because of financial reasons mainly (darn you, student loan!)), but soon I shall whip out my international bucket list once again.

I advise everyone to travel because it exposes you to all types of details and feelings you may miss where you are. Changing your location can really change your mindset- and your preconceived notions of the way other places (and other people) are.

This weekend I’ve been working in Austin, Texas. I went here once before with Jane, just for fun. We had the best time, and discovered that Austin was nothing like our preconceived ideas of Texas…even though we’d never been to Texas before. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the whole place reminds me more of the hipsterville that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn than the cowboytown that I thought Texas would be.

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

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Yum!

Jane and I Yelping the best Mexican food in Austin...all cheesy goodness!

We Yelped all the best Mexican food in Austin…lots of cheesy goodness!

This time Austin brought a completely different feeling…though also very good. Firstly, I’m here with different people (my coworkers) and at a completely different time in my life. Austin feels almost like a totally different place – even though it’s still as fun as I remember.

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Something I missed last time in Austin with Jane was the fact that there’s a bridge downtown where 1.5 million bats live. They stay under the bridge until sundown when they all fly out to feed.

My coworkers and I were told we needed to see these bats fly out from underneath the bridge, so we arrived at 8pm and waited together. It was pretty exciting. We expected to see this sight:

Photo we saw online.

Photo of what the internet told us we would see.

But instead we saw this:

Nice view. But no bats.

Nice view. But no bats.

And then this:

It got dark. We could kind of see some bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

Darkness. The bats were late. Then we could kind of see lots of bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

But we had a good time anyway because we got to hang out together in Austin and watch for bats. And we did eventually see bats. And heard bats. Even though it was different than we thought it would be.

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And I can’t imagine getting the all the feelings I get from Austin just from googling it online. Because I felt this:

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And those pictures and my description can’t capture it.

Austin is weird. And young. And hipster. And Southern. And party. And foodie. And wild. And sunset. And morning. And healthy. And unhealthy. And night time. And yoga. And whisky. And bikes. And dancing. And all. And none.

It will be different for you.

You just have to go there.

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Elvis? Is that you?

Elvis? Is that you? Are you in Austin?

The trash cans are solar powered? For reals?

The trash cans are solar powered here? For real?

Ladybird Lake

Ladybird Lake- I had no idea there was a running trail here.

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Wait, what’s this natural pool?

Wait, they made a pool out of LadyBird lake!

They made a pool out of LadyBird lake! Awesome!

You never know what you'll find once you're here

And who knows what you’ll find once you’re here…

Expert Travel Lessons Learned The Hard Way

In a recent post I wrote, Are You More Confident Now That You’re Older?, I touched on how a lot of times confidence comes from being okay with failing and getting rejected again and again.
Now that I’m 30, I’ve already accumulated piles and piles of messy, crazy mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned the hard way.

Before this blog, I used to have a travel blog called YouSomewhereElse (hence my wordpress handle LauraSomewhereElse). I don’t consider myself the absolute best expert on travel, per se, but I do travel more than 2/3 of the year for work, so I consider myself at least somewhat of an expert. And when you travel as much as I do, you rack up a whole lot of experience under your belt. Some of it is good, and some of it…not so much.

Right now I’m in the middle of a 5 city trip without hitting home between cities. I’m in city 4 out of 5. I’ve probably only spent about 10 days total at home in New York since the beginning of January. I’ve been traveling like this- at an ever increasing rate- for over 8 years, and have been on the road so much that I should be great at it, right? Well, sometimes even if you’re “great” at something, it just means that you do it so much that you’re bound to do a bunch of things wrong at least some of the time.

Just to prove that being a confident expert takes lots of failure, and to encourage you to not be afraid of the really bad experiences, here are just a few of the many mistakes I’ve made on the path to becoming a travel expert..

  1. I’ve gone to the wrong airport..twice. One time I completely missed the flight and they wouldn’t rebook it. I lost $550 buying a new last minute flight, and another $100 taking a cab from one airport to the other..only to miss that flight anyway.
  2. I’ve booked a flight on the right day,..but in the wrong month..and the $400 flight cost was non-refundable.
    3. I bought a cheap suitcase and had the entire handle come off on a hill in the middle of England.
    4. I bought a different cheap suitcase and had the handle come off in the middle of a staircase in Washington DC.
    5. I’ve exploded a bottle a seltzer all over my laptop and BROKE THE KEYS FOREVER in the middle of Philadelphia a month ago.
    6. I’ve been stuck in Charlotte airport for 3 days when the airport closed because of bad weather…and I had to sleep on a cardboard box because I was on the phone when they gave out cots.
    7. I’ve booked numerous bus tickets that ended up being at the wrong time..and they were nonrefundable.
    8. I let my phone fall off my lap while sleeping on a plane and it was stolen while I slept.
    9. I opened the back of a car where my suitcase was stored, only to find my suitcase gone! I thought it had been stolen and completely panicked, only to later realize that I was in the wrong car.
    10. I’ve accidentally tried to bring my permanent plastic Contigo water bottles filled with water through security…and have had them confiscated at least half a dozen times because I was in too much of a hurry to go back and dump them.

11. I recently dropped all my suitcases off at the wrong hotel. This was two days ago.

12. Today I went running in Fort Lauderdale, got completely lost, and had my phone’s GPS stop working on me. I had to continuously ask construction workers and random passerby directions for an extra half hour until my phone suddenly started working again. If it hadn’t finally worked, who knows when I would’ve made it back home.

So don’t worry about going out and failing. Failure probably means that you’re just putting yourself out there more…or at least I’d like to think so. Go ahead and make tons of crazy mistakes..and you’ll perhaps become a confident expert along the way 🙂

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