Resources I have used to travel on a budget (or get paid!)

There are countless ways to travel: luxury vacations, backpacking, or somewhere in between. I’ve done most of them, but as I am a writer, I am typically on a pretty tight budget. After being asked time and time again how I am able to afford travel, I have compiled a list below of different opportunities to look into once travel is safe once again! The key thing to remember is that everyone has a different comfort zone, and different priorities to make sure they are safe while traveling. This is only my approach to planning a trip.

Lets start by talking about budgeting; for me, the largest expenses are typically: the airline ticket, eating/ activities out, and an emergency fund. Accommodations honestly usually falls pretty low on my priority list for a couple reasons, one of them is because of the opportunities to find free or very cheap housing. Also, I am not too picky about my living situation- so if you know you wouldn’t want to stay in co-ed dorms or on a stranger’s couch, it’s a good idea to factor a few extra dollars into your accommodation budget. Finding your comfort zone while traveling is key to being prepared and content on a trip abroad.

Leisure Travel Ideas:

https://www.hostelworld.com/

One summer I took a trip with my then boyfriend to Thailand. Because accommodations in this country are so cheap, we decided to book air bnb’s and hotels to “treat ourselves”. Halfway through the trip we ditched the bookings (still paying) and checked ourselves into the best rated hostels in the city. We so because we wanted to meet new people, and learn more about the hot spots and fun activities available in the city. Hostels are built for budget travel. They offer the cheapest deals, group discounts and a fun environment to truly get to know a city. And we did not regret it for a moment. We still had privacy and time to ourselves, but at night I felt safer exploring the city in a big group where my new friends always kept an eye out for my safety, we ended up finding out the most ethical way to meet elephants, and we had a fun activity to join nightly. I have probably stayed in over 100 hostels around the world at this point and I cannot speak higher or have a bigger recommendation for first time, solo, or even couples traveling together. I understand hostels have a bad reputation, but as long as you are being hyper aware (which you should be anyways) and trusting your gut instincts, I have never felt safer than in a hostel. There are always other travels around who get it, and form a sense of community that allows you to really get to know a city.

As far as choosing a hostel, read the comments. Although the pictures may seem beautiful, what really tells the story of the atmosphere is what other backpackers have reported. If a place is filthy and you’re paranoid about cleanliness, or if a place does not party and you went to a new place to have some fun, these details will be expressed through the comment section more than anything.

In Ragland New Zealand, an eco lodging hostel. Our rooms were cozy, old and refurbished train caboose

https://www.couchsurfing.com/

I have only truly couch surfed once, but it was a kind and and sweet experience and I will definitely be using this again. The basics: it is almost like a community of really down to earth travelers, or ex travelers who are willing to open their homes to fellow travelers. You will create a profile with information about why you’re traveling, what you will be doing and your living style. Those hosting will do the same, but add what they can offer. This resource is not for the nervous or unsure backpackers. This option is best for experienced travelers, those who know how to keep themselves safe. You also need to be really open minded but also hyper vigilant in your search. I always tend to look for females or families with an extra bed room, also the one time I did used couchsurfers, I had a companion. The host ended up a being beyond generous single mom whose son had just moved out and she had the space. It was an incredibly lucky find! My other piece of advice is to plan ahead if you are going this route. People can be slow at responding or only available for certain times so it’s best to set this up before you. leave vs. while you are on the road. I also always like to cook dinner or leave a gift for my hosts to sow gratitude (even if you are not using this app, couch surfing in general works best when you can offer something in return).

Work resources

There are honestly so many ways to work abroad, so I am limiting this list to ways I have tried and have worked for me in the past.

https://www.workaway.info/

So I’ve used workaway a few times and it is really my go-to. When I was in Israel, I found a placement 24 hours before I was homeless. If you are young and like being social, working in a hostel is the perfect way to visit a city. You don’t need a work visa because they typically pay in food and accommodations. In my experience there are other travelers working there to meet and learn from as well as staff and guests. Plus, for the one I worked in Israel, my job was to lead bar crawls most of the time. We got days off to explore the country, and the best part was I could stay for free in partnering hostels anywhere. The only requirement is being over 18 and knowing english. Overall this is my highest recommendation if you are social and enjoy working with others. If you are more of a introvert but a hard worker, I would try WWOOFing (details below).

Workaway can be literally anything. You could be catering to childcare, or working at a cafe etc. Some hosts even offer payment (look for the money sign on their listing).

https://wwoofinternational.org/

WWOOFing is similar to Workaway in that one is trading their labor for a place to stay and food, but this organization focuses strictly on farming. Any kind of farming including; animals, wine or vegan farms can put their farm on wwooffing and there may be a few families looking for child care or language exchange as well as farm work. This option is not for one who hs never donne physical labor or who likes to go out and explore the city. WWOOFing is typically a lot of work, but also a lot of positive payback. Forming a relationship with the land you are visiting and the ecology is a graceful and unique way to travel. Also, these posting are typically long term, really giving you an opportunity to connect with the family and the area you are living.

When choosing a WWOOFing location, my advice will vary person to person. For me, I always looked for a location that has my own space, other volunteers, and a way to get to town (some will offer a car, or note there is a bus stop nearby). When I interview with the host, I make sure to ask a lot of questions so I can understand their expectations before I step foot onto their land.

WWOOFing may seem like a tricky option, but when you find the right fit it is a beautiful way to contribute to the community you are visiting as well as a budget friendly option to live and explore a place you may have not found yourself otherwise.

Photos from an organic farm inn New Zealand I worked for a few weeks in 2015

https://www.hostelworld.com/

I know I talked all about this above, but something I have done in the past is looked up the hostels in an area I want to visit, and then called to see if they have any openings for work. A lot changes in hostels, as everyone is traveling in and out and most jobs are temporary, so often hostels could use the extra hands. Offer a few hours of work a day for a room/ bunk.

https://www.coolworks.com/find-a-job

CoolWorks is a resource for those open to a seasonal job. This is mostly United States based, and you can find some neat opportunities here. However, these are long term options (typically 3 months or more) but the work is normally located in a community based setting, meaning you will meet others in your job and will probably be offered employee housing. This is one of my favorite sites to check out when I’m bored in class and need inspiration for a run-away day dream. This winter I am working at a ski school I found on cool works and I am living on site for cheap as well. This is different from WorkAway because these organizations are bigger and normally offer seasonal work for a lot of workers ever year, whereas WorkAway is a smaller scale and more temporary, individual positions.

Lastly: How to join a cult

Am I kidding? Yes. Have I accidentally done this? Also yes. But, that is a story for another time. Until then, happy travels (or day dreams)

And then, I was confronted with my worst fear before breakfast.

“Female solo traveler” has been a buzz phrase in the travel community for a few years. Being a female solo anything is challenging enough in our patriarchal run world, but to travel through it alone can be daunting and intimidating. As women, the threat of violence is ever looming, no matter where you go. Thus, to be putting oneself in new territory, without cell service and with only the vaguest sense of direction seems absolutely mad to many people. And it is. To be a woman in the field of traveling presents new dangers and requires hyper vigilance at all times.

But listen, I have been traveling on my own since I was 16. And I have learned many tricks and rituals to keep myself and others safe, but I truly have been so fortunate to not have gotten into anything too seriously traumatic (although I have many close calls). The reality of being a female solo traveler dawns upon me in routinely, small, everyday things. For instance, the other day it was maggots that reminded me how utterly helpless I can be. If given the choice between being left in a new city, chased by Ann army of strangers, and a trash can filled to the brim with maggots, I will happily take the first.

My roommate and I had planned a day of exploring and working intermittently. She usually picks a few beaches she wants to see that day and I grab a book, my journal and join along for the ride. As we were walking out the door she stood in front of me in rock paper scissor position to decide which one of us had to take out the trash bin. I suggested a coin toss instead, and regretted it immediately after losing. Confidently, I approached the bin to take outside. I opened the top and almost walked inside and booked a plane ticket home. The bin was absolutely covered, I mean covered, in squirming, yellow maggots.

It was totally our fault. We hadn’t taken the bin out for a few days because it wasn’t full and where we’ve lived you don’t waste bags by taking half full trash cans out. But, we didn’t realize the humidity and heat here, combined with rotting fruit peels, could turn so disastrous. And for the first time in my traveling life, I wished I could call my dad to come save me. Perhaps this instinct comes from an on going family joke me dad likes to say. “I’m good for opening jars and killing bugs,” is his favorite way to get out of playing board games with my sister and I. But in this moment, I needed him more desperately than I’ve ever relied on another human in my life.

I know this sounds dramatic; I fully acknowledge how pathetic this incapability seems. And it was pathetic, I was utterly paralyzed. My brilliant solution was to trow the bin away. I couldn’t see another option. I was going to spend my last couple bucks on avoiding this chore, which honestly seemed like a good deal to me considering I would have sacrificed a limb to avoid handling a bin filled with maggots so all the money to my name felt really reasonable. My dramatic response comes from my only real phobia – parasites. I don’t want to talk about it too much because that’s how intense this fear is, but any crawling, parasitic bug can go eat dirt because I simply refuse to share earth with them; I simply will not acknowledge they exist in order to protect myself. My friends know that I will happily challenge any intimidating figure to a scowl off and I will lead packs of women proudly into battle. Unless we happen to be battling maggots.

My roommate and I stood in the street with napkins, laughing so hard we were crying at how ridiculous our predicament. We had no idea our next move. So when people like Louisa showed up right as we decided to burn the bin and leave the country, I have to appreciate whatever great things I did in my past life to deserve her heroism. Louisa takes care of some of the houses in the area and was coming by to check that we were alive. My roommate was hesitant to accept the help, whereas I was already promising her my first born as she got out of the car to take care of us. She was the most fearless woman I have ever seen, I mean she looked almost graceful and powerful totally unbothered by my worst nightmare. She cleaned our bin as I sent my hysterical roommate to clean and shower and calm herself down a bit.

While Louisa was finishing up, I asked her if she fears anything. (In my head she was from the same island as Wonder Woman and completely inhumane.) But, I guess frogs and lizards are her kryptonite. Which made me laugh because I have a strange affection toward amphibians. It’s so fascinating where are fear comes from. I’m sure it’s partly inherited and partly cultural.

I don’t have an awe inspiring moral to this story but it did make me realize how strong of a community women are globally. In moments I look around for a man to help me, which is not often, there seems to always be a badass woman already stepping up to the plate. I don’t underestimate the female community, but when I do (confronted by a trash bin of maggots) I am happily proven wrong by a mother, by our matriarch.

My sweet roommate said something I’d like to share about her experience as a “female solo traveler”. She said, “I have been a woman all my life, I am still a woman while traveling so I take this wherever I go. I take those fears with me and perhaps there are a few extra, but my experiences being a woman in this way are the same.” You are a woman no matter where you go. So go wherever you are called, and be a great woman there.

Image taken once we left our villa later that day and began exploring. Polaroid 600

How can you be sad in paradise?

Before I dive into this piece, I want to start by acknowledging the immense privilege that comes with traveling anywhere. There are many people more eloquent on this subject than I am, but I just want to take a step back from my own struggles and woes to truly embrace the gratitude and unwavering appreciation for every opportunity to leave my hometown I have been given. It is an immensely big thing to have the time and resources to do what I do, and I never want it to go unnoticed or unacknowledged in anyway. Traveling, although often luxurious and expensive, can also be hard, both mentally and physically, and my intention with this thought piece is simply to create honest spaces to share challenges and real, raw and unedited moments that happen on the road. Thus, I think in order to stay genuine to my writing and to myself, I want to balance my appreciate with also allowing space to be critical and intentional with the resources I have been given and have discovered on the way.

During this wild pandemic, I lost a job and was forced to go on unemployment. As my lease was ending, my roommate and I struggled to decide what I should do next, as it seems things change so quickly and sharply during this time, it is hard to be quite certain about any decision. We had no where to live, no jobs and no plans. We both graduated in December, and post graduation is hard to navigate during normal circumstances, so it felt this liminal space was heightened by the current state of events in our country. Our unemployment was running out and we needed to make a decision. This is around the time my roommate suggested making use of her family’s villa in the Caribbean. Her parents are sailors and invested in this small property recently. As no one was staying there, we wouldn’t need to pay rent and could go there to have some time to figure out our next move. I had been struggling to write and make process on my novel for a few months, blocked from not being able to travel and feeling in-genuine to the story, I saw an opportunity to be I a creative space and I took it. We did our research of what it would take to come here and after multiple Covid tests, endless preparation and being careful not to corrupt our chances of getting out, we flew to Antigua, a small island near Barbuda. Upon arrival we showed our Covid results, had our temperatures checked and began settling into our new villa.

And after only a few days, my mental health took a decline. I found it harder and harder to get out of bed and became more and more anxious. I struggled eating and I didn’t leave the villa multiple days in a row. This conjured up intense feelings of guilt, I spiralled between thoughts of “someone else should be here appreciating this space,” and “you wanted this for so long, why can’t you just be happy?” Which, led me to remember other times when I traveled and was hit with depressive episodes. When I studied in Athens there were many times I disassociated in bed for hours, and times my anxiety crippled me to a hotel room while others explored. In Israel I slept for days in a row because my mind was exhausted and missed chances to see new parts of the city. And there too, I had these guilty and shameful thoughts.

However, this time a perspective changed for me. Instead of allowing those thoughts and dark feelings to fester, I was patient with myself. I was gentle and eased myself to accomplish simple tasks. I allowed myself days to wallow and time to be alone. Most importantly, I reminded myself that mental illness does not make me faulty or unworthy, and that I cannot outrun my serotonin deficiency. And, this is the messy side to traveling I want people to see. I still struggle with being human, regardless of where I am or what I am doing. Being in a new country is not a cure for mental illness, but wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? And even though I am existing in this greatly privileged moment, even though I am only 22 in Antigua once, does not invalidate my needs and my health. It also doesn’t invalidate the incredible things I have seen and done. Whilst being here I’ve scuba dived with sea turtles and boated, jet skied and tasted new foods. I have still accomplished lots of writing and I’ve met new people. I am still traveling when I am experiencing dark and sullen thoughts, and I am still growing from them. I guess what I am trying to express is how imperfect and temperamental humanity can be, and as a good friend recently told me, “you bring yourself wherever you go”. It is okay to not be okay, even in paradise.

Escaping 2020 for a moment

I recently moved in with two close girl friends of mine. I originally planned to move to Chicago in the summer, but after facing a breakup and the whole global pandemic situation, I figured I would rather spend my summer soaking up all of Colorado possible. So, last second I changed my plans and signed a shirt term lease for the summer. Living with your girl friends is enchanting; we easily and gracefully settled into a very lovely routine of dancing and drinking wine and romanticizing our own lives. It’s refreshing and beautiful to settle into an environment of love right now, as our world burns we hug one another. It’s simply sweet.

When I finally made the choice to come back I was welcomed with not only open arms, but an open calendar of potential weekends. The great thing about living in Colorado is that the campgrounds are open at the moment. Of course social distancing is strictly enforced, but camping is not prohibited. My roommates and I groggily packed our car up one weekend in early May and took a girls trip to the mountains. We drove for a few hours, randomly picking a direction and played our music too loudly as limbs draped into one another.

Growing up, my mother really enforced the idea that girl friends, that women supporting other women, was the key to happiness. She told me to be nice to every single woman, to open my arms to my fellow females because she told me; “it would fill you up like nothing else”. And although I’ve adamantly stood by this in my life, I think this weekend was a moment it really sunk in for me.

No one will love you like your girl friends, that is just the truth. As we drove into the mountains, sharing secrets and giggling, my inner child sang. I felt loved and cherished and heard, but also I felt giddy and content, knowing that if anything happened, I was surrounded by those whose would do anything for me. I’ve never felt that with any love interest, mentor or peer. However, I have felt protected by so many good women, including those I do not know, these friendships have made failing a bit sweeter- to do it in the arms of feminine energy is divine. And this kind of therapy was needed in the moment of face masks, uncertainty corruption and fear.

My moment of euphoria (my ‘filled up’ moment) took place as I did not sleep in our tent, at 10,000 ft, next to a lake, in the middle of spring. I did not sleep because it was so cold my lips turned blue and my fingers were numb. The wind shook the tent the entire night and my head ached from the freezing air and the rocks jamming into my body. However, I felt safer and happier than I have ever with a mans arms around me, or in a luxurious hotel. I just was okay, even if I cannot articulate it well. Perhaps it was a combination of the music and the comfort of being outside. But, I am a firm believer that taking your shoes off is medicinal and the Mamma Mia soundtrack was produced by goddesses to teach wild souls to let go, and so I healed a bit in my cold frigid, safe space.

We found a warmer camping spot the next day, hiked miles and miles and learned about ourselves and one another in the same clothes and messy hair as the days before. The trip was really lovely, I am always enchanted by the trees and biology of new places and this trip satiated my need for a lot of things; for healing and escaping and running. 2020 has been a rough one, guys. Not being able to escape and travel to an exotic place to live for a bit has made me feel anxious and claustrophobic. So, even if we literally just packed up our home to make one elsewhere, my urge to flee the country and change my name settled for a bit. I learned that sometimes running into the arms of giggling and humbling women is sometimes enough of an escape for right now; that vegetarian hot dogs made by my best friend while I napped, are an absolute delicacy and that my name is just fine, for now. We all need different things, but this trip was serendipitous and fufilling. And it cost less than $50.

Roxanne

The air conditioning in the van was broken (this was not mentioned as a precursor to our emailed agreement with our host) and thus the back “room” would drown us in stuffy air. In a desperate attempt to escape the seemingly inevitable suffocation we had pushed the side doors open and abandoned most of our clothing, sprawled across the floor in one another’s boxers or a sheet thrown across to maintain some “dignity” we had long misplaced. A lucky few laid across the broken mattress of our oversized, “vintage” van, Roxanne and the others piled on the floor. It was too late but without any phones to illuminate the time, the construct was ignored. The moon was bright enough to guide us to the side of the road and onto a beach path to park for the night. Other vans and cars lined the right side where our side door allowed a view of the ocean, if I moved the broken curtains from the left window I could make out mountain scapes outlined barely by a single street lamp. I could hear cheers and drums coming from the beach bonfires, but content with the company of one another we drank cheap red wine from the bottle Brita had stolen hours earlier. W played games that begged secrets from one another’s lips and giggled the drowsiness of the evening pleaded rest and the Hawaiian breeze tried to cool us down. 

Most of our nights followed these patterns. Sometimes a friend would play African rap, rowdy and unfitting, from expensive foreign speakers and we would slow dance in the road to uncomfortable club beats, the headlights of our vehicle made makeshift spot lights. Once we agreed to surrender to the night, we parked in places where our neighbors were also chasing magic. Occasionally they would hoot or honk in encouragement. the five of us must have looked like witches or gypsies to those passing by.

I’d always fall asleep first, exhausted by adrenaline spikes. I would also wake up first, right when the sun would begin to bake us inside our metal home and the crumb and litter covered floor couldn’t cradle me back to sleep. I’d crawl from our cave, lured by freshair; barefoot and sweating I’d climb to the top of the van and sit for a few hours before my vagabond crew would wake and read about anthropology or philosophy or write indecipherable poetry. I remember my feet constantly calloused and the lack of food showed in the way my clothes hung off my body more than they should or my skirt needed to be tied in a particular way to stay on my flesh. We lived on a farm on the Big Island, worked long hours and slept in dingy, collapsing cabanas when we weren’t living inside of Roxanne and the exhaustion and deprivation showed. When I got anxious to start exploring I would play “Roxanne” by The Who and my grumpy travelers would wake up slowly. 

I don’t typically like the ocean when I am too close to taste her salty kisses but the top of the van provided sanctuary. I would wave at the colorful cars and people that passed and honked or smiled, becoming a beacon of the freedom they, too, chased. 

Sometimes we’d park in lonely places where lights couldn’t reach us and sleep until late afternoon desperately trying to convince ourselves the rest was enough. After a few days the exhaustion became more evident through the way we spoke to each other. Impatience and frustration wove itself into our tones as we navigated through stretches of Oahu. Brita’s fear of driving became exasperating; the rotation between drivers shorter and the simple decision took time and too much effort. The money and resources that allowed me to take the trip wasn’t as stable as I had hoped and I was often hungry. Opportunities were skipped because the lack of money I was not expecting and I could sense the others fair frustration in this. Jamal and Willow’s boundaries of discomfort made bickering more affluent. I didn’t understand how the freedom we created became so encasing or how the utopia we seeked was more complex than anticipated. 

One day Brita and I chased a waterfall she had heard about from some boy. Some nights she’d sneak out of the van to meet new people and sneak into the car way too late, crawling into my arms for warmth. We found a vague map and after dropping Jamal and Willow off to shop on over crowded streets, we figured we’d find peace and rejuvenation in the wilderness. I drove and we talked about important nothings heading in the direction of our destination. She naviaged for me. Until she didn’t. Brita tended to get flustered often and the pressure of finding a destination filled her with anxiety. Suddenly we made wrong turns every few miles and we were burning through gas quickly and efficiently. Hours went by and we had yet to even begin to understand where we were. We stopped and asked directions a few times, but received vague and uninterpretable motions east and then west. Maybe a grunt or a nod without context. Hopelessly lost, Brita cried and I yelled and we’d take turns doing each. A police car turned sirens on behind us at one point. Being only 20 at the time (the legal age to drive a rental car is 25) I panicked and the overwhelming reality of the situation had me completely frozen in my seat. The cop then got out of the car, and passed us nonchalantly going to speak to the rowdy men in front of us. We never found our waterfall. After imagining my imminent arrest, I turned around eventually and we made our way back to Waikiki for Willow and Jamal to console our anxiety. 

One night we traveled to the North Coast of Oahu, only a small beach town and a reputation for the world’s best food stands awaited. Gas station poké was my exclusive food group, so the activities were limited. There we discovered  a resort, Turtle Bay, enclosed by large fences probably put there to keep people like us out. Willow had left after a few days, the filth and instability scared her away and Jamal Brita and I were hungry and exhausted, consumed by the lack of that seemed to be our only consistency. I made an irrational decision to take a chance and turned into the grounds filled with the privileged and the tourists. Luckily enough a van showed his badge and the gate opened and before my co pilot could protest, I stayed close enough behind to sneak into the gates of utopia. As frequent hitch hikers on the Big Island, our main home, we were not unfamiliar to begging. 

We parked and sent our sneaky representative in first. Brita came back quickly to report the elegance and wealth of the establishment. As well as the lack of security. I had packed a single dress for the van trip and threw it on, a costume to blend in. The three of us sauntered to the front desk as if we had just visited out private yacht, our false superiority hanging off us like perfume, and asked for towels. I remember hardly holding back giggles, the alcohol I had sipped charming me into almost handing in my stolen identity. The woman smiled politely. I think Jamal fit the part well, handed us our towels and we made it to the door to the pool, Brita’s nails digging sharpley into my hand to control my fits of laughter. 

An hour before we had been badly arguing. I was frustrated and anxious as we chose where would spend the night but for some reason that melted away for a bit. We lay in the hot tub for hours until it rained us inside and we sat at the bar unbothered and ordered drinks we flirted into existence. We showered in the locker rooms, washing away thick layers of stains and chlorine. That night we pulled the van away from our heaven and followed our usual nightly routine, completely refreshed we skipped the fighting and slept soundly. Nothing was solved, we were not fixed but we were momentarily satisfied.

This night constitutes as the greatest night of the time I spent in Hawaii. Before this trip, if I ever sat in resorts I would be discontent with the atmosphere, the ease was too simple for my adventurous cravings. By spending 10 days in a van,  I finally found my comfort zone; the niche I thought I would never discover. For years I chased opportunities to push myself to new extents, tried to find the end of my patience with travel. But for the first time, I struggled to feel safe on the road. I didn’t know I could ever lose my desire to travel in a spontaneous and unstable style. Before this trip I had tried everything; integrated into new places and each space nicely. In my van was the first time I found true discomfort. I couldn’t romanticize the trip and this time I don’t think I need to. I want the raw struggle, the hunger and the sadness to be real in these months because it was what I felt, even in paradise. But through the dichotomy of these experiences I learned the vitality of balance, a valuable lesson found roaming the islands. The people we met in the resorts would gush once they heard what we were doing, told us we were really living and “how badly they wished they could join us,” and we sat smiling to ourselves, knowing we would literally sacrifice limbs in exchange for a hotel room for the night. The trick of travelling is being honest with what goals you are accomplishing, and this moment established my pride in this adaptability I’ve grown to value.

Three Little Birds

This year, I had the absolute luck and pleasure of finding the small town of Raglan, New Zealand. The quirky surf town is located on the North Island, and is a highlight and motivation for my past and future travels. The small town is filled with culture, history, waterfalls and forests. The views are worth any plane time alone, the music is indescribable and best of all is the welcoming vibe I try to recreate in myself. I didn’t wear shoes for the full week there and by the end I was waving to all my new friends just walking up and down the streets. I connected with every shop owner and pedestrian and met characters any writer can turn into a full blown protagonist.

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I spent most of my time traveling in a van around NZ

However, Tony, the owner of my favorite store, has been on my mind everyday since my return. At the edge of the stores I skated, then danced and stumbled into his welcoming wood patterned store to be greeted by his toothless smile and quick handshake. The store, Three Little Birds, emanated it’s magic properties. It was small, roughly the size of a simple bedroom and it was absolutely filled with gems. Literally. Artists from all over New Zealand sold their jewelry in Tony’s store and it was properly cluttered with stunningly eccentric pieces that just so happened to match your outfit today. I fell in love with Tony’s unconditional love for his costumers and his artwork. I fell in love with the store itself and in particular a green crystal displayed in the corner of the store. Tony explained to me that unfortunately it was not for sale. It was from a woman he had loved and lost and wanted to keep it’s beautiful energy around. I understood, of course, but my fascination with the green necklace has stuck with me. I purchased many things from that store, all from the same artist as the necklace that caught my attention. I bought a necklace for my sister and my mother. I wore them both for the rest of my travels, channeling all my energy to them. I held and rubbed the crystals in the hardest moments I experience abroad and in my happiest discoveries. And, Tony promised me that the green jewel I so desired and visited everyday, would be mine once his journey with it was over. I trust this is true, I trust Raglan and Tony. At the end of my visit Tony and I left with tears and swapped a few possessions (kinda like otters with pebbles I find myself doing this often on the road).  This story is not only one of leaving a piece of myself in Raglan, or in Three Little Birds. It also began my curiosity with crystals and the powers they may or may not possess.

 

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Preface

I wish I could scream it loud enough for every soul to hear me. The famous quote “not all who wander are lost,” is a poem written by J. R. R. Tolkien in the famous Lord of the Ring books. This quote has been tattooed, scribbled, gratified and spoken but no one seems to hear it because I have been asked too many times “what are you running from,” or “what are you trying to find?” These questions refer loosely to my addiction to travel. To barefoot, messy, no sleep, train station, Jack Kerouac style adventures. But, I am not running from anything. And, I kindly request this questioned to be rephrased (although you’ll get a similar answer). “What are you running to,” would be a much easier question to ask. Because instead of me responding in a defensive “nothing,” you will see my eyes glow with the mystery of a new response; “I’m not sure.” (But I can’t wait to find out)

So, the point I would like to make with this post, and I guess this blog in general is; I’m not lost, or confused. I am not misguided and my life isn’t any more of an “Eat, Pray, Love” roadmap to discovery as an average teenager. As a matter of fact, I have felt a lot more lost wandering aimlessly through the hallways of my high school than I ever have felt wandering through foreign deserts and endless forests.