What if I told you that you can travel without ever leaving your neighborhood?
Traveling is a big part of my life. Obviously. I spend hours each week blogging, researching and Tweeting about it. But the reality of the situation is that not everyone can just throw some stuff in a bag and hop on a plane, which is something I’ve been very fortunate to have done on multiple occasions. Right now, however, I’m in a bit of a hiatus for travel, or at least long trips, because I’m paying back the student loan gods and getting settled after a year of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
But back to you. I know there are a lot of you who love travel, but may not be able to right now, so I thought I would share some of my tips for curing (at least temporarily) the travel blues. Ready? Okay, here we go:
You know, those tiny little scraps of paper that you pray will go where they’re supposed to because, let’s face it, there’s no return address. Yep, those. I love postcards and I probably always will. When I was a kid I used to had a penpal, and that’s probably where my love for snail mail originates from, but I think I also just like being able to talk to people without talking to them (if I’m honest) #introvert.
The best part of sending/receiving postcards is that you don’t have travel somewhere in order to send them. No joke! Try out a website like Postcrossing to send and receive postcards from people all over the world. How does this work?
1. You go to Postcrossing and sign up.
2. They send you the addresses of a few people to test your commitment.
3. Once those people receive your postcards (which you’ve written a little code from the website, on) you start getting postcards and so forth and so on.
One time I got a postcard from Germany that led me to making a new friend in the U.S. and it was awesome. You never know what you’re gonna get!
I know, I know, now I sound like
5th grade. But it’s TRUE! Reading is an amazing way to experience other cultures and places without ever having to leave your house (literally, just order them on Amazon – you don’t have to ever leave…except maybe health reasons).The best part of books (other than that they’re relatively cheap) is that they can actually inspire you to travel to other places, and make your trips more fun.
Right now I’m reading the Outlander series, and I’m seriously considering going to Scotland just so that I can visit all of the places. It makes you appreciate a place so much more when you’re able to associate happy reading memories with the real life places.
Have a Penpal
One of the best ways to get to know people who are different than yourself is to do just that…get to know people who are different from you. I’ve had a penpal for most of my childhood and again for the past year. She lives in Liverpool, England and due to the crazy of each letter taking 1-2 weeks to get from point A to point B, we don’t talk too often, but it’s the most exciting thing in the world to get a letter in the mail from England once a month!
If you’re still a little skeptical that pen pals are for kids, take a peek at the website that I used to get mine: Letter Writer’s Alliance. They’re dedicated to making sure snail mail stays in business, and it’s a pretty awesome community. Not only can you get matched with another member (lifetime membership is $5) but you can also check out their awesome letter writing merch (not required to write, just awesome) as well as local meet-ups and other events.
Social Media Groups
You know what they say: the people you surround yourself with influence your behavior. The best part of social media is that you can choose who you’re around and gain inspiration that way! Obviously, Twitter is my biggest inspiration with all +5,000 of my travel buds, but I also love Facebook groups, as well. Instagram is (obv) a really good source as well, but I’ve never really been in to Instagram, so that’s not as much my scene. Try looking at these Facebook Groups (or even join a couple!) for travel inspiration galore.
Travelettes : Launched in 2009, Travelettes is an online magazine/ travelblog/ network for and from girls who love to travel.
Nomadness Travel Tribe: The Nomad•ness Travel Tribe, created by Evita Robinson, stemming from her travel series Nomad•ness TV, is an online social community of travelers and expats all around the world. In the Tribe, they come together to share stories, advice, dos and don’ts, in an interpersonal setting. The majority of our members are bridged by an urban background.
Irish Central: IrishCentral is America’s number one news website for Irish news with over 3.5 million readers a month. (Also one of my favorite newsletters to get!)
Mama Loves Paris: Brilliant ideas, inspiration, fun and fab photography for families living or loving Paris life.
Jetting Around: Jetting Around by Pola Henderson is a blog dedicated to cities and their culture. In addition to writing, Pola hosts a weekly city travel discussion on Twitter called #JAchat (Fridays, 1pm ET) and international networking events for travelers, JA Café: Travel Talk Over Coffee.
Travel Noire: Travel Noire is a digital publishing platform that creates tools and resources for the unconventional traveler.
The Exploress: Inspire | Share | Educate | Together we are a global community of young, creative and adventurous women who share a burning desire to travel.
Wow, what a crazy summer it’s been! For the first summer in a while, I’ve been out traveling around, having so many adventures, that I’ve had no time to write/sit here and get my thoughts out. This upcoming week is the last week I’ll be working at the Summer day-camp I’ve been working for, though, so things should start being a little less crazy. In addition, cool and crisp fall days are almost here and I CANNOT wait. Not only is fall the host of my birthday, and every good holiday (with the exception of New Years Eve), it’s my very favorite for reading and writing and enjoying life the way that it’s supposed to be…under four wool blankets and with a hot cup of tea.
That being said, I should probably start posting about what I’ve been up to this summer, huh? I definitely have been traveling, but I’ve had no time to put pen to paper…or, I guess, fingers to keyboard. I’m excited to bring you guys in on all the fun, though! First off, waaaaaay back in July we got the amazing opportunity to celebrate one of the favorite parts of my family (where we, no doubt, get our strong headedness and our tempers) by going to the Scottish Highland Games. I was so thankful for the info that the event was happening up in Skagit Valley, so a huge ‘thank you’ to my Outlander Fanatics of Washington Facebook group. Yes, you read that right. Have I mentioned how much I love the show Outlander? If you haven’t seen it, yet, you better get on that.
The event as a whole is one of my favorite things I’ve done all year. And the best part is that it’s supposed to be one of the smaller Highland Games in Washington, so next year we’ve agreed to go to the one in Enumclaw, so we can see the whole sha-bang. Eventually, I’m hoping to go to an actual one in Scotland, but baby steps, right? Anyway, we spent the day lounging in the sun, watching men throw trees, and Border Collies herd sheep. All the while being lulled by the sounds of the bagpipe competition being held in the far side of the field. Sounds like heaven, right? It was. I can’t decide what my favorite part was, yet. The food was amazing, the dancing was fun and (of course!) the athletic events were insane. Men competing in kilts. It’s just all types of perfect.
Here are my favorite pics from the day!
If you’ve talked to me lately I’ve probably told you about my latest obsession, the STARZ TV series, and best selling book, “Outlander”. Set in the Scottish highlands, it would have probably been my favorite by default, since Scotland (and Ireland) are my favorite places on earth (excluding Seattle, of course). But there was something more than kilt wearing men, to die for accents and highland music that reached out to me when I was watching, and later reading, this story. I think, in a way, I identify with feisty, hot headed and strong willed main character, Claire.
In case you haven’t heard yet: Outlander is the tale of an English woman (Claire) who is thrown back in time, from her own slightly post WWII era, and finds herself in 18th century Scotland. Complete with a handsome (GINGER) stranger, political unrest and a stubborn independent female lead, my attention was grabbed the instant I turned this show on. Have I ever mentioned how there’s a shameful lack of redheads in France?
Anyway, back to Claire: Here she is, a strong minded “in control” woman, and suddenly she’s thrown out of her comfort zone, out of her “normal” and into a setting that is extremely uncomfortable (although I don’t feel TOO bad for her having to look at Sam Heughan in every scene). Her surroundings are different, the culture is different and even the language is different (the Scots speak Gaelic about half of the time – Claire doesn’t).
In a lot of ways, this is one of the best ways I have to describe my life right now. If you want to know what it feels like, watch the show (you won’t regret it). But all in all it’s pretty difficult to describe life, because life is presently pretty difficult.
Being thrown into a family that’s not your own is awkward, but it’s not the hardest part of being an au pair in a different country. There are language barriers, there are cultural barriers, there are driving barriers (learning to drive stick shift – pray for me.) and there’s a kind of surreal isolation that is constantly threatening to pull you under, if you let it.
Much like being a nanny, taking care of a family with children means that you primarily spend time with those children. In my case, with kids who don’t speak any English, it’s more difficult to make connections, and since the parents only speak broken English I can go days without having an English conversation. It’s kind of cool, but it’s also kind of sad.
Who would have thought the thing I’d miss the most would be my native tongue?
The good news is, I’m starting to make a couple of friends, and as time goes by I’ll make more, I’m sure. I’m starting to take French lessons with some other au pairs in the next couple of weeks, and I’m excited to be able to hang out with more people my age. It’s also nice to be able to speak English with them without multiple charade-esc interpretations.
I’m also finding ways to be creative about my new foreign surroundings. Like cooking and exploring the different French food markets. I’ve also learned that Ebay and Etsy are my best friends, since there are no stores to shop at in this town that sell a lot of things that I thought to be “standard” before moving here.
There are just a lot of things that I took for granted and assumed would be in France that just are not. Or are here, but are in a completely different contexts or priced for the rich and famous. I tried to buy some basic white thread for my sewing machine, yesterday. 7 euro. AKA $9 for a spool of thread. Insanity. It’s actually cheaper for me to order my supplies from the UK and have them mailed here!
But, that’s part of the exchange, and I do absolutely love seeing all of the old architecture and historical places. Something I love about living in Europe is that every building, every street and every place has a story. Not that places in the US don’t, but here there are great battles and tales of kings and queens that are connected with places I get to walk. It’s kind of surreal.
Tomorrow I’m going to spend the weekend in Orleans, which is a larger city near me. I went there last weekend and it was such a beautiful city that I decided I HAD to go back! I ‘m going to be Couchsurfing, and I could not be more excited for my first Couchsurfing adventure in France.
I think it will be good for me to have some time to be alone with my art supplies, also. The worst problem about being an artist is that, in order to create, you have to isolate yourself (mentally or physically) from your surrounding environment. But that’s how beautiful things are made, so often and I’m excited to be able to free my creativity this weekend.