Archives for category: Travel

Dear sweet little Montlouis-sur-Loire,

For the past two months you gave me a taste of what small town French life is like in the amateur DSLR wielding photographer’s dreamland of the Loire valley.

So much that was new to me: huge swaths of caravans of the Roma that Prez Sarkozy hadn’t yet kicked out of France, the fact that everybody knows all of the classic French chansons and will sway back a forth singing them with even the slightest prompt, the strange looks I would get when I mentioned I liked yoga, and a rather twisted conception of diet food to help you maintain your figure (yes, I know that there are overcooked vegetables under all that cream and cheese, and that super chocolatey cereal says “Fitness” on the box, still doesn’t mean it’s good for the “regime”).

It is just a little too quiet.  That’s the main reason why I need to leave.  It was a good thing at first. Just settling in and not having too much being thrown at me while trying to navigate the language and a new country. But, it is time to move on to something bigger and crazier.

Tomorrow: Paris

(Though I will miss my little baby boo)

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Why we travel

Wanting to be away from overcast Vancouver skies and wander in the sunshine… after watching this.

I watched Paris, Je T’aime last night.  It’s comprised of 18 short films by different directors, released in 2006. Amazing.  I sort of want to hug the world after a film like this, but mostly it just makes me want to jump on a plane RIGHT NOW.

To reading blogs.  Probably the main reason why I decided to hop over to wordpress and start blabbing on.  I have a very long list of bookmarked blogs, plus a number of blogs not on that list that I visit on a regular basis.  To be honest, I could spend the whole day reading some of the most amazing stories and tips and ideas out there.

It really started when I tried to get my financial life in order last fall.  Shortly after graduating from university, I realized that I was working a lot (I had a full-time and a time job at the time) and rarely had anything to show for all of my hours at the end of the month. I had no idea how to put together a budget, or if it would even be useful for me. My central reason for wanting to get on track was so that I could save up to travel and pursue my interests.  I felt like I was on a treadmill, working to pay my bills and treat myself every now and then (or perhaps a little more often than that), but never actually getting anywhere.

So, I started researching money tips and frugality (my parents would laugh at the thought of me being frugal) and sites like the Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly and Zen Habits among many others, gave me the basic tools to getting everything on track, starting with finding a track.  I started noting my spending, put together a basic budget, and read a few recommended personal finance books. I was able to save up a few thousand dollars in a few months, and promptly went on a trip to Africa and to Coachella. Now, traveling and spending a chunk of your savings right off the bat probably looks foolish, but it was definitely worth it. More importantly, I now knew that I had the ability to save and go on an amazing trip without going into debt.  Since I’ve been back, I’ve ditched the part-time job, and continued to save on a less intense level in order to spend most of 2010 and 2011 abroad.

Starting from personal finance blogs, I now see how incredibly huge the blogosphere is.  For any interest or passion, there is someone writing about it, posting inspiringly creative photos and/or building a community for world domination.  I think the main part of my attraction is the personal level from which so many great bloggers write from.  You truly get to know other people, how they got through something, how they made changes in their lives or, in the case of blogs like dooce, how to find humor in everyday life (featuring lots of poop talk and pictures of babies) and in difficult situations.  I think that it’s also easier for me to connect with what bloggers are saying rather than magazine writers.  I love me my glossy magazines, but the stories are somehow different because they so often come someone who’s been there, rather than just researched it.  I can read anyone’s ideas and opinions that I come across and find interesting, rather than it being filtered by some editor or publisher.  And, I don’t have to pay to read blogs.

In short, thank you to all of bloggers who write ridiculously amazing posts and take home 10x the income I do. You’ve been an inspiring force of change in this young life.

 

I’ve been looking at some discussions and blogs by twenty-somethings and so many are about dealing with the quarter life crisis. And holy shit, is it depressing. By no means do I have it all figured out, and I think it’s great that so many people put their fears and thoughts out there and connect with each other.

There are people blogging about how they called off an engagement, moved, used the wedding money to go traveling and changed their whole focus in life.  There are others who are super concerned with the economic crisis and are at a loss at what to do when they need to pay back huge student loans, yet are having major trouble finding jobs. Money is a huge thing, as is expectations of what life would be like after graduation. Man, can I relate.

Money is pretty important, and having a huge debt is obviously a big burden. However, I believe that education is an investment, even if your degree doesn’t lead you to a specific career path.  Developing a plan to tackle student debt is crucial and there are tons of resources to do just that.  Suze Orman’s book “The Money Book for the Young, Broke and Fabulous” is a fantastic guide that makes tackling debt and building some savings not so scary.

Of course, there are so many amazing personal finance blogs with varying amounts of focus on savings, frugality, investing and paying down debt.

An amazing source of info on building a career for Gen Y is Penelope Trunk’s blog. It has great networking advice, resume tips and of course there’s Brazen Careerist, a social networking and career management tool for Gen Y. I’m not signed up with Brazen Careerist, but the idea is definitely interesting.

Right after I graduated last May, I did have a huge freak out.  All that came out of my mouth was ramblings about travel, and building a career, and what my life plan should be and how in the world I would ever accomplish anything that I wanted when I’m not making that much money and I don’t have the experience and blah blah blah.  Now that I’ve chilled the eff out (and sufficiently annoyed all those around me), I’ve come to a place where I’m excited about not knowing, and have formulated a million variations of my “5-year plan.” I feel really blessed that I have so many options and opportunities in front of me, even when the choices get really overwhelming. There are so many ways I could contribute to the world, and no one is saying that I need to choose ONE path and stick to it for the rest of my life.

I am continually inspired by reading blogs written by people who choose to do it their way, not according to some master plan or the expectations of those around them.  Who says you must do your traveling in your early twenties and before you start your career? Why not do it the other way around – build your career, then take some time off and travel around the world? Maybe use working abroad opportunities to build your resume and skill set?  It’s all very scary, but I think that too many of us compare ourselves to others while trying to hold true to our own goals and interests.  We get all jumbled up and start to lose touch with what we actually want to do.  I hope to actually get in touch with what I want to do.

world make me sickSince I graduated in May 2008, I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about what I want to do over the next couple of years.

What I definitely don’t want are: babies, marriage, a house.  Not that I think it’s wrong for someone in their early twenties to seek and want those things, but I can’t even buy art for my apartment because I wonder what I’m going to do with it if I jet off sometime in the near future and if I’ll even still like it when I get back.

Central things I want within the next couple of years are: travel, build a career, build my savings/investments, live in another city, learn another language.  

These things aren’t mutually exclusive, but I am struggling to find balance.  For example, travel costs money, and I want to invest money.  Travel also means time away from work, which may affect career building. These things I want require time and or money. First, I have little money saved. Second, I am impatient.  I have complicated the issue by reading books and blogs which seem to cater either to my ambitions of career building and financial security, or my attraction to the adventurous qualities of meeting new people, having new experiences and wandering all over the globe. I keep flipping back and forth between what I should be focussing on.

The other night I was trying to formulate some sort of flexible 5 year plans. I know life doesn’t follow any kind of real plan if you seize opportunities as they come, but it really helped to get some of the jumble in my brain out there.  Even then, I feel as if I can’t fit what I want to in 5 years and that I’ve wasted a chunk of my early twenties doing nothing. 

I look to my friends to see how they are balancing their lives, but I find that they fall on either side of the line I’m trying to balance.  A couple of friends are traveling and partying, while my other friends are content with a month or two abroad (or less) and are focussing on grad school, careers, and buying a house.  Maybe I only have a glimpse of what is actually going on, but these seem to be the major points of the conversations I have about this type of stuff.

Hopefully I’ll start to figure it out soonish.