Diligence is the mother of good luck!

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I made my trip pretty well known through pictures and lots of status updates but some people who I don’t keep in contact with regularly had lots of questions for me and I thought I would use this post to answer some of those questions! People wanted to know how I could manage such a long trip, how I could afford it, how did I do the trip alone, wasn’t I scared, how could I live out of a backpack, how did I get around without knowing the language and so forth!

I just want to say that backpacking is not for everyone. Traveling is not a vacation, a lot of the time it’s hard work. Unless you have a mini money tree growing in your backyard, or have a paying job while you travel it’s pretty hard to do any kind of long trip luxuriously! So money is probably the biggest issue. Backpacking is the cheapest option for traveling around when you’re on a budget. Sleeping with 8 strangers in a room, busses, the possibility of catching bed bugs, not having toilet paper, hand washing your underwear and walking around in dirty clothes, shitting your pants….that’s all a very real part of backpacking! It’s not very glamorous but it will teach you things you didn’t know about yourself and it will make you realize how little you actually need in life! As hard as my trips were sometimes, I wouldn’t change them for the world!

Another issue is time! We are not as fortunate as many other countries who get 6-8 weeks vacation time! Most of us get 2 weeks, 4 if we’re lucky!! This makes it really hard to do anything other then a vacation! Now I love a vacation as much as the next girl but this post isn’t about a vacation…it’s about traveling for longer periods of time and seeing multiple countries or possibly living in a different country.

I don’t have all the answers I can just give you my experiences, but I will say that if I can do this trip…anyone can do it!
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So as far as money what did I do? Well I had a decent paying job as a nanny and I could potentially saved a lot of money. However, I still had an apartment, furniture, a car, insurance payments, and a busy social life that included lots of bar hopping and Billyburg restaurants with the occasional bottle service here and there and a long distance boyfriend who I traveled to see!

So the apartment kind of took care of itself when I got kicked out after a pretty epic End of the World party in December! (Remember that impeding apocalypse? Yea I threw a party, it was Mexican themed as it was the Mayans who predicted our demise) a little too much tequila, sexual escapades in the bathroom and about 50 people in my studio apartment later,my landlord told me I’m a hooligan and gave me the boot!

So before I go on with the other part…I have to say what happened with my job! The family I was working for told me the little boy I was taking care of would be going to school full time as of September so this apartment thing caused me to have an epiphany! I could either look for another apartment or I could move back with my folks, save all my money and follow my dream to travel the world!

I didn’t want to leave my job as I was with the lil man 3 years! But this was kind of naturally coming to an end so it all turned out perfect! And then near the beginning of my trip the family relocated to LA so we all knew we made the right decision! (It was beyond hard to leave him though) but that took care of the time factor, meaning if you want to travel a long time but don’t have vacation and can’t leave for a long hiatus you will probably have to quit your job!

So I moved back with my parents, put my furniture in storage at a friends garage and started selling off all my valuables! Including 5 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes which made me a little sad as they were gorgeous, but I look like a man walking in heels and at this point, traveling was more important, plus these bad boys went for about $400 a pop on ebay!!

Now moving back with your parents might not be an option for you, and that’s ok…maybe it’ll take you longer to save or maybe you can get roommates or just a room but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

So long blog post short, I saved about $12,000. Let me tell you what saving money means! It means no more fancy dinners, no more bottle service, no more dirty martinis, it means happy hours under $5, no more movies or road trips on the weekends, and sadly no shopping except for travel gear! But it’s a good way to prepare yourself for the lack of luxuries you will experience while traveling!!! And there is a silver lining as I live in one of the most awesome cities ever which has lots to see and do for free! You can use this time to detox, exercise (I did neither of these) spend time with family (while you’re free loading off that good home cookin’ of course) and do some good old fashion lounging on a park bench catching up on some lonely planet books about the countries you’re going to visit and maybe brush up on your Spanish or whatever language they speak in the place you wanna go! ( it’s what I should have been doing, having traveled this is what I suggest you do!)
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Also, you can volunteer in hostels which will give you extra time in a place and free accommodation!! And you get to meet lots of great people and get to really know a place…all you have to do is email a couple hostels and see of they’re looking for a volunteer, most are volunteer run!!

So apartment, check
Furniture and valuables, check
Car and insurance, I still needed this for work so planned on selling when I left
Boyfriend, well here’s what happened with that!

So I told my boyfriend that I’m leaving to backpack through South America, but I should tell you all that I was already unhappy with the long distance part of our relationship and all I could think about was traveling so I broke up with him! In all honesty I wanted to kiss foreign boys and be wild and free! I’m not saying you have to break up with your significant other to peruse your dreams of travel! I have met lots of people who have supportive partners back home and travel because it’s what they want to do, and they do what they want to do and it’s a choice people make! Mine was A: not supportive and B: I wasn’t in to him anymore.

Boyfriend, check.

How could I travel alone along a dangerous continent you ask now?

Well first of all South America is not as bad as they tell you! Yes I know people who have had their stuff stolen, been held up at gun, knife point…but I also know people who that has happened to in Brooklyn! This is what I told my parents when they were freaking out: “mom, dad I could get hit by a truck walkin out my front door, or one of those gang banger wannabes could stick me when I’m going to visit my homie in the projects cuz he needs to full fill some kind of initiation”. Shit happens everywhere and you’re always taking risks in life and seeing the world is definitely worth it!
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Second of all I was never alone!! Unless I wanted to be! That’s the beauty of staying in hostels, everyone is there alone for the most part and we all end up in the same lonely boat! Unless you’re a grumpy hermit or a major creep like the weird Russian guy that was staying in my hostel (who walked in the room with his shirt open, not saying a word to anyone and just creepily standing next to people all up in their personal space and when he did speak, only spoke of hiring prostitutes), you should be fine 🙂 Backpackers always want a pal to do an excursion with or go eat/drink with! And it’s also nice to be alone sometimes, just you and your thoughts on a night bus through the Andes! So don’t be afraid of being alone! Embrace it as a chance to get to know yourself better and make heaps of new friends 🙂
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Living out of a backpack isn’t so bad either! You don’t have to worry about what you’re gonna wear since you only have about 5 options anyway!! It’s totally acceptable to go dancing in yoga pants and flip flops like I have been known to do and your hair can be going for that beachy messy look!

Now the language, well pointing works, and you’ll pick it up in no time since at least in South America barely anyone speaks any English! Consider it the best language immersion you’ll ever get!

Before, during and after my trip, a lot of people said I was lucky, I’m not lucky, lucky would have been getting a large sum inheritance from my great aunt…I simply had a dream an worked toward it! So if your dream is to travel, be like Nike and just do it 😉

Sharn had her own experience when it came to making her trip happen and she’ll add her bit to the blog as well, so be on the look out!!

-Joey

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Southern Hospitality

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So let me give you guys a little back story. My friend Sharnie and I met in Colombia. We were working in a hostel together on the coast in Santa Marta. Sharnie is from Australia I’m originally from Poland but have been in Brooklyn long enough to have a proper NY accent! But as exciting as that is, for most people Sharnie is way more exotic sounding and therefore everyone thinks she’s the interesting one. She’s definitely the smart one, but I’m funnier and that’s why I’m writing this post and not Sharnie 🙂
(She will enlighten you with her intellectualism on a regular basis too, she might even be funny once in a while 😉

Sharnie and I decided to leave the hostel we were working in to travel trough the coast together for a bit and randomly found jobs in Medellin and I ended up staying there for a little over a month working as the coolest bartender you ever did see and Sharnie decided she wanted to go to the states and visit family! We made a plan to meet in Florida when I was done in Medellin and rent a car and drive to NY.

Now this blog is not about South America. Maybe one day we will tell you our crazy stories…but for now we have interesting experiences here in America that need telling! South America ain’t got nothing on the South!

Now you should all know that we are doing this road trip on a $150 (each) budget! Basically we can only afford petrol and tiny bits of cheap food. It goes a little something like the song Chicago by Sufjan Stevens..
“I drove to New York
In a van with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I was in love with the place”

So we originally planned on sleeping in parking lots and in fact when we arrived in Savannah we found the perfect parking lot down by River St. to sleep in where the cops wouldn’t bother us till 8am! Wanna know the best part?? It was right across the street from a row of bars! Eeeeppp we slapped on some bronzer and mascara, put on Heavenly lotion by Victoria’s Secret since we hadn’t showered and it was no secret we smelled haha! And we hit the row! Now mind you it was a Tuesday night and it had rained earlier so the bars were about as exciting as watching paint dry! But there was one bar hosting comedy night which had more then 1 person inside (there were 10!!!! ) so we went in! Plus they had $2 PBR’s and us broke bitches could afford to get drunk here and maybe if we laughed at the unfunny jokes we could score some beers and plus I told Sharn to work her boobs which, believe me, work wonders! So low and behold one of the guys was actually funny and if you know me, or ever heard me laugh, you know I snort repulsively! So this guy at the bar, who I thought was cute (I later realized this was solely due to the lighting and my small level of intoxication) started making fun of my snort and somehow was intrigued to come up and strike a conversation with me! He starts telling me he works for the tourist board and that we should take his free walking tour and that the hot army guys are currently on vacation and at a bar up the street! “Say what?!” We chugged our beer and were outta there faster then the guy could say “hey what’s your number” but then I forgot what his directions were so we stood outside furiously googling bars in Savannah and then this guy, let’s call him Buddy, comes outside! Sharn opens her big exotic sounding mouth and now we’re standing there listening to this guy tell us every country he’s been to instead of chasing hot men with Southern accents! What is it with people wanting to talk about every single place they’ve been too anyways? But then it’s as if the Gods smiled on us…Buddy asked if we’re couch surfing and well…we tried that at 7pm and got no response from the couchsurfing world haha, maybe we were just a tid bit last minute with our requests! So we tell him no we’re sleeping in the car and he’s like “I have a couch” “I was a couch surfing ambassador in…blah blah blah” yea who cares! Sharn and I look at each other and silently think in unison that this guy is weird but we need a shower so we were like “hell yea!!!”

Long blog post short, after Buddy tells us that he was mugged in the alley way next door, and that he was in the army and that he he dabbles in 31 different instruments and that he owns a company, or two or 50 and that his uncle works for the government and that his cousins brother in law is a movie star we go to this blues club and he gets us free beer! SCORE! Then tells us he has not thrown date rape drugs in to our drinks! Weird strike number 1 haha.

Then Sharn attracts another stand up guy..ahem.. with a letterman jacket who is clearly having jock withdrawal from high school and hates America! This guy comes with a sidekick with dreads who plays in a rock band and dresses like those guys who carry coffins during a funeral, or maybe like a jazz player I don’t know, I can’t think of a good analogy! Anyways they’re both full on to Sharnie while I’m appreciating the blues band and hoping the drink Buddy is trying to get me to sip is not full of Rohypnol.
A couple songs in Mr. dreadlocks asks Sharn to dance..clearly she hates me and insists that I’m a better dancer! So I’m forced to dance with this man who makes rapey eye contact with me the entire time and creepily strokes my nose and chin as if I’m his cat! Weird strike #2!!

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At this point Buddy is upset that he’s not getting any play and asks that we all go back since he’s tired! Of course not before whispering in my ear wether I do drugs. No, Buddy, I’m sorry I don’t do drugs! Sharn, my delicate little flower, asks this man wether or not he’s going to murder us in our sleep! Well hell! if he wasn’t going to, he will probably want to now haha!

So we get to his beautiful but unkept house in what’s supposedly a ghetto. Here is a picture so you know what I mean 🙂

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Tell me that’s not a cabinet a serial killer would have in his house?!!

Holy cannoli it’s literally the most disgusting house I have ever seen! I’m scared to sit on the couch for fear of catching fleas or bed bugs, or maybe bed bugs who have fleas! There’s holes in the couch and the entire house smells like a dead person who has come to life and then has been murdered again! I sit uncomfortably and Buddy tells me I can relax and lay down….no muther efferr I am not laying down!! He then let’s out what we think is a rat, it turns out to be a really cute, really smelly, chihuahua named Peso! He says Peso smells cause chihuahuas have bad breath but I think it’s cuz that poor dog has not seen soap and water his entire life! I’m gagging just thinking about how he licked my hand and because no matter what situation we are in, Sharn and I always feel bad hurting peoples feelings so I had to pretend it was cute haha!

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So then Buddy throws out Weird strike #3 and mentions that we are welcome to sleep with him in his king sized bed “I have a king sized bed and you can always come and sleep with me” …oh um thank you????

At this point poor Sharn looks like she might cry cuz she’s convinced he’s going to murder and/or rape us in our sleep! He puts on the movie Blow and we’re both wishing we were couch surfing in Johnny Depp’s apartment and not this guy who thinks khakis and flip flops go well together! Sigh! He brings us some blankets that smell like a skunk and a badger have had an orgy on it after they’ve fore played in a garbage container!!! Buddy spreads out creepily close next to us and we watch the movie..well half the movie as at this point it’s 3 am and we’re beat and he doesn’t seem to get the yawning hints so Sharn finally lays down and he gets up and after announcing one more time that his bed is available he goes off to sleep!

I brushed my teeth and grabbed the towel which actually looked like It had been washed and laid down head to head with Sharn, covering myself with the towel and praying I don’t catch a disease on this couch! We stayed up whispering about how weird this guy is and wether or not we would die and if we should just escape through the yard then and there and wether our phones were safe on the chargers! With that thought I grabbed my purse and wrapped it around my arm and we both grabbed our phones off the chargers and stuffed them under our pillows! Sharn was mentally exhausted from the stress and knocked out and I have to admit even though I was pretty confident that we were fine I had some deep down scary thoughts that made me compulsively knock on wood. But I couldn’t tell Sharn that and so when she fell asleep I furiously googled this guy and checked his couch surfing account as he did say he had one. He actually had some good reviews and then I realized that this guy was probably just weird and socially awkward but harmless and at the end of the day was a really thoughtful host and I felt really bad that I sneakily told the cops who were having a pit stop outside of the gas station where Buddy was buying beer to write down his license plate in case two touristy white girls go missing in Savannah! And he bought us chocolate while buying beer and here I was having little faith in humanity!

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So I counted our lucky stars because we didn’t have to sleep in the car and even though the bed smelled, we had a bed, and I said a lil prayer for Buddy because he meant well and securely fell asleep! In the morning we got the frakkk out of there faster then a scalded dog!

PS this is where we are writing this post from! A friend of mine just lives in a mansion in North Carolina NBD!

-Joey and Sharn

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