Posts tagged Travel

Feeding Fernweh: My Travel Plans for 2016

The new year is here, and with it comes the call of new adventure and time to reveal my travel plans for 2016. Fernweh, that farsickness, my longing for faraway places — tugs so strong on my spirit. The end of 2015 it was so strong it was painful. 2015 was more of a transformational year, but 2016 is looking to be a transient and nomadic one packed full of new destinations. It’s time to listen to my heart again.

2015: A Transformational Year

Silhouette at Sunset on stacked Rock Cairns Beach Beach Great Ocean Road Australia Sunset

At the end of 2015 I was struggling with some past emotions ignited by the holiday season and by spending it alone here in Melbourne. During that time, I had intense waves of up and down emotions and moods that showed me I have a few more things still bothering me about my past to conquer. I hadn’t spent a holiday alone since I began traveling, and paired with my disdain for waiting tables and the desire to quit now and hit the road — it all came to a peak on New Years day. I felt lonely. I felt frustrated. I felt stuck. Then I took a good hard look to examine what was really bothering me.

Travel doesn’t heal, that was one of the most important lessons life on the road taught me, but it is the perfect vehicle for facing personal issues. And at the end of 2015 I faced another issue that I didn’t even know was haunting me — I disliked Christmas and New Years because of bad memories about my past.

That hasn’t allowed me to ever be a part of other family moments or traditions or to make my own. I was harboring this malice without even knowing, until it made November and December miserable for me. Then, I realized and acknowledged the issue. I’ve now been able to move on from this, and I believe holidays abroad now won’t be so grueling for me.

My Least Traveled Year

I pride myself as a slow traveler, but I traveled less in 2015 than I have since I began traveling in 2011. I kicked off the New Year in Port Au Prince with friends after exploring southern Haiti for 10 days on one of the best adventures I’ve ever been on. I loved seeing the fireworks over Port Au Prince on their independence day, sipping soup joumou, and getting this blog ready for launch.

Spring brought the twisted metal Rickshaw Run.

After ditching my restaurant job, I vowed not to go back to waiting tables and make 2015 the year where I focus on freelance writing and graphic design. I spent that first few months working on contract in DC for a media company and saving money. March arrived, and after months of preparation and raising money for the charity race, I was off to India to kick off the Rickshaw Run with my travel buddy Derek (The HoliDAZE).

Rickshaw Run April 2015 Wheelie India

Oh, how plans can fly out the window.

To say India broke me is putting it lightly. There are a lot of aspects about India I like, but there are also an overwhelming amount of reasons why it is the most mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting place I’ve ever traveled to. India is intense in all aspects, and exploring it after surviving 2,500km driving across in a rickshaw isn’t recommended. The Rickshaw Run is one of the craziest adventures I’ve ever had, in a good ways and bad ways, but after the stress a sever health issue experienced during it, I wasn’t in a good state.

Derek and I parted ways after the race when his visa ran up, and we planned to meet up in Nepal after I explored Darjeeling for a week. Then, the Nepal earthquake struck, and it changed everything. We were going to hunker down and edit the Rickshaw Run videos in Nepal for a couple of weeks, then head to do the ‘Stan Seven together. He was trapped in Nepal and I couldn’t get into the country. That’s when I decided on Australia, and a couple of weeks later was approved for my visa. And here, in Melbourne, I’ve been for the past 7 months.


Ups and downs are bound to happen on the road. Hell, I still get scared before every trip, and I ain’t afraid to admit it! There’s always excitement and an anxiety. I’m still fresh into the world of travel and learning lessons and making mistakes. My first trip and the fallout after showed me that I had to deal with my personal issues before going abroad again. My second stint, I was all over the map in Southeast Asia and Europe cementing the fact that travel is really what I want in my life. This time around, I’ve realized what I want my travels to be about and what I want them to be for.

Pinnacles Grampians Hiker on Rock in Victoria Australia

While traveling, I still struggle with bouts of depression like I experienced recently in Melbourne over the holidays, or battling worries of my budget and how to make long term travel a reality. But I’ve now reached a point where I acknowledge these feelings and address them, as opposed to surprising them like I used to. So, even though I haven’t made leaps and bounds toward making a career from travel writing, I have made tremendous progress in understanding myself and making it a habit to focus on living positive.

Now I feel more focused than ever on travel and travel blogging, and given the upcoming adventures in 2016, I know I’ll have so many awesome experiences to share.

Speaking of…

2016 Travel Plans

2016 is here and I’m itching to hit the road so much so that the pull to travel is almost painful! Melbourne has been a great city to live in, but my vagabond heart needs to explore. Sure, there’s tons to see in Australia and before I leave I at least need to explore some of the main spots, but “Western” cities and countries don’t create the kind of connection I feel in more exotic or ancient places.

Lately I’ve managed to get out of Melbourne and into the wild doing small road trips along the Great Ocean Road or camping and hiking for a weekend in the Grampians Nations Park. That’s when I’m in my element and feel happiest. So, even though cities like Sydney are a must before I go, I’m interested in Australia’s more natural side.

Here are some of the spots I have in mind to see before I go. As always with me, plans change like the wind, so I’m considering even renting a van or taking the train across. Until it happens, these are all tentative.

_0002_East-Coast(A photo of Tasmania from

– Tasmania

– Uluru and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory 

– Perth and the West Coast

– Sydney

– Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef

– Blue Mountains in New South Whales  

UPDATE // Why I Left Australia Early and I’m Not Going Back

April: Myanmar //

Sunrise monks on Ubein Bridge MyanmarIn April, I’ll get getting a dose of exotic when I travel to Myanmar for the second time with Jean of Traveling Honeybird blog. The trip came about randomly when I noticed Jean’s post on Facebook asking if anyone would want to tag along with her Myanmar adventure. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has inly recently opened it’s borders to tourism and is a destination that is still very culturally intact and not impacted by tourism takeover.

When I first visited Myanmar in 2013, it was just across the border to orphanages set up as schools to take in children from the previously war-torn nation. It was a depressing sight as I was tasked with photographing conditions for fundraising more orphanages and schools and saw the worst of the worst. Much of it was in the border towns along the Myanmar/Thailand border where many of the families have been taken advantage of that were seeking safety. Given that the country is still struggling with a violent and corrupt past, there are parts of the country that one simply cannot travel to, but my desire this time is to get to know the cultural and experience Myanmar through locals in interactions.

Plans are up in the air for what to do while there, but the country seems ripe for exploring by train and maybe motorbike, while Jean has also mentioned some multi-day treks which I’m always up for. Myanmar still doesn’t have much of an infrastructure, lacking ATM’s and banks in most places, so it’ll be an experience in all it’s own.

Also, after seeing Anthony Bourdain (my travel hero) explore Myanmar, I knew I had to as well.

UPDATE // Untainted Myanmar in Photos

May: Croatia

Croatia. What can I say? Besides the fact that I’ve wanted to go here for years. Before I even owned a passport, a friend who had traveled through told me I should go there and work at a hostel. I didn’t even have a concept of hostels at that point, let alone travel, but after seeing photos it stuck with me.

Now, that opportunity has finally come. I’ll be heading to Croatia at the end of May to embark on one of the most unique and excited travel experiences my life: learning to sail while on the Mediterranean. 

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A sailing company called MedSailors contacted me one day out of the blue and asked if I would like to be one of their VIB sailors (Very Important Blogger) and I nearly leapt from my chair and danced about. Okay, I did leap from the chair and dance. They run sailing trips from more laid-back journeys, to the Discovery Option geared toward seeing and experiencing more. I had the choice to do Greece, Croatia, and Turkey, and though it was a hard choice, I knew I wanted to have this experience in Croatia most.



May 28th I’ll be taking off on a sailboat with MedSailors from Split, Croatia to live on the boat and learn to sail for 7 days, while visiting small Croatian towns and islands along the Mediterranean and seeing the ancient landscapes, experiencing the vibrant culture, and enjoying the nightlife. The route bounces from small islands down the coast and back up to Split, where I’ll be taking a transport provided by MedSailors to head down to Dubrovnik after. You know what that means — Game of Thrones fantasy fulfilled. Plus, the walled city has always been a top place I’ve wanted to visit.


After my sailing trip and exploring Dubrovnik, plans are in the air depending on a few factors. But one thing I know for sure is that I’ll want to see most of the country before I leave. See below for update.

JUNE/JULY: Work in Croatia //


Big news announced that change the rest of my travel plans for the summer months in Europe. I’ve received one of the biggest opportunities of my life and I’ve been chosen to be one of the summer photographers for MedSailors for two months from the end of May and through July. I’ll spend the summer living aboard a sailboat taking photos of people enjoying the same tour I’ll be taking part in mentioned above.

UPDATE // How Travel Blogging Just Landed Me A Dream Job

JUNE August: Eastern Europe //

EasternEuropeMapGiven I’ll already be in Eastern Europe, my doorway to exploring the rest with be Croatia, and after I’ll begin my journey through the rest. In 2014, I explored a bit of it with brief trips to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna, but I’m hungry to see more. I don’t have a planned route at all, or even an idea about how I’ll get around, but I’m sure I’ll figure that all out when I’m there. I’m thinking buses and trains, though I’ve heard that can be a bit pricey.

One thing I’m interested in is hitchhiking as much as I can through parts of Eastern Europe.

A reader of the blog told me all about his adventures hitchhiking all the way through Eastern Europe back to London and the incredible experiences he had, so I’m game to try. Also, being a lover of anything involving castles and ancient history, places like Turkey and Romania are screaming at me to visit.

If you have any ideas or experiences traveling Eastern Europe, please do give a shout!

JULY: Mongol Rally //

Adventures in 2015 were kicked off by the Rickshaw Run in April, and as you all saw, it was an insane road trip. Even with it being an exhilarating and unique way of experiencing a country and raise money for a good cause, it left me with health issues and travel fatigue.

So why would I consider doing something similar again, except this time it would take 2 months and we’d be traveling from London to China through the most grueling terrain on the planet? Because obviously I have an addiction to doing things that may kill me. In reality, it’s just the craziest thing I can imagine doing and I love road trips, but one through all of Europe and Mongolia to the border of Russia would be the ultimate undertaking. I want to do these things while I’m young(ish) and reckless.

The Mongol Rally would again be done with Derek of The HoliDAZE like last year, but we are only just now talking about it. Time is ticking on entering and fundraising, so we have to decide soon if it’ll be this year or next. For now, this travel plan is a maybe.

UPDATE // Due to the overlap of my job in Croatia with MedSailors, the Mongol Rally is postponed until 2017.

AUGUST: Burning Man //


This is another big maybe, but Burning Man is one thing I’ve wanted to partake in for years now. I know plenty of friends and travel bloggers who have done it as well and all they say is that it’s life changing. Tens of thousands of people in the middle of the desert creating a free and artistic community, and enjoying music festivals and more. This depends really on whether or not I do the Mongol Rally, so if that doesn’t happen, Burning Man is a sure thing.

Fall 2016: Unknown //

For someone who doesn’t plan much at all, these are the most travel plans I’ve ever had lined up, and even these aren’t set in stone. So after things unfold and I see where the first half of this year takes me, I” have a better idea of where I’ll be going this fall. Will I visit the US and explore a bit more given fall is my favorite season to explore the States? Will I take off to Central or South America finally? Who knows, it’s all dependent upon my budget and my encounters along the way, because I could meet some awesome people who give me new inspiration for where I should go next!


>> Where will 2016 be taking you?

Last Week Travel: News, Best Articles, Life in Melbourne, and More — November 22nd-28th

Hello Lost Ones and welcome to your weekly digest of travel related news, my picks travel blog articles you must read, my favorite Instagram photos, and other travel related goodies!

Each Monday I will (attempt) to send this travel related digital newspaper out, and I will also share an editor’s note about my own life abroad and what I am currently up to. As always, I encourage you to share your views — but with news articles and current world events please keep it respectful. Also, have you come across a favorite Instagrammer or blog article last week you love? Share it in the comments below!

<< Jump to a selection or scroll down >>
Editor’s Note Travel News Best Articles Favorite Instagrams Awesome Videos

<< Lost Boy’s Note >>

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat a difference a week can make, and a change of attitude. In last week’s update I shared some things that had been bothering me lately, as well as some struggles I’ve been having. Most of it was a pity party about being abroad and alone on my birthday, but much of that was my own fault. Since I’ve been treating Melbourne more like my hometown, I’ve been focused on working and saving and not making time to enjoy and explore. Melbourne is one helluva city, and 5 months into my working holiday here in Australia and I’ve barely done anything “fun”. I’ve done some fun things or had a couple of big nights out while staying at the hostel, but I mainly focused on job hunting. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I actually left the city limits for the first time and took the train just outside of Melbourne to do small treks in the Dandenong National Park.

Besides that — nada.

Though I haven’t gone out often to bars or clubs or made a dedicated group of friends, I have wandered most of Melbourne city which can count as exploring a bit. There is probably not an alley left that I haven’t wandered down, and I am constantly on the hunt for Melbourne’s unique graffiti and street art. So, in that sense, I have done a lot of exploring in the immediate vicinity, and since I haven’t been on a ticking clock like someone on a brief stay, I’ll excuse myself for not doing the awesome bits that most do when they visit like the Great Ocean Road. Though I hope to hit that soon. Very soon.

Even with last week’s lows in mood, this week has been better. I’ve gotten over the mental slumps, and I’ve been getting back into the gym as well. One thing that tends to haunt me when traveling is hay fever, and it’s been a constant battle with Mother Nature’s wicked perfume all spring long. That is another reason i haven’t explored much — most of the spring so far I’ve spent sneezing and sniffling and sleeping off the attacks. It isn’t too fun exploring when you can’t see where you’re going or having to blow your nose every two minutes is it? The hay fever attacks have subsided the past couple of weeks though, and besides a bout of flu this week that I’ve kicked already, I’m feeling pretty great. Now time to focus on keeping healthy mentally and physically and maybe start those Road Warrior articles about staying healthy while traveling that I’ve been wanting to.

<< Travel News >>

NOTE: I do not like to talk about politics, so we won’t get into that crap. There may be articles below that express a certain viewpoint, but for the most part, majority of the articles I share below are of general travel news or world news.

Airline attempts to solve airport confusion with robots

Australia Hopes to replace oil companies in the Great Barrier Reef with Tourism

These People are building a medieval castle in France — The real way


Airbus publishes patent for detachable airplane cabin – innovative or silly?

Bill Gates and Tech Companies Launch World Clean Energy Initiative

Italy’s Renzi Vows to Fight Terrorism Threat The Best Way — With Culture


<< Best Articles >>

I love to read adventures of other travel bloggers, and I am constantly flipping through stories daily. Here are the best I can across this week!

The HoliDAZE: 50 Colorful Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair

Flora the Explorer: What Does Travel Mean to You?

Land Lopers: In Photos – A Few More Reasons to be Thankful

<< Favorite Instagrams >>

My favorite app on my iPhone by far is Instagram, and I share photos from my adventures daily — but I also scour it for other awesome Instagramers around the globe to feed my wanderlust, get ideas on places to go, and simply gawk at the beauty of the world. Here are some favorites from this week. Have an Instagram? Come follow me and say hi! Want to get featured? Tag your travel photos with #TheLostLife and join the tribe of Lost Ones!


A photo posted by Anna (@dreamexplorelive) on




A photo posted by Chris Jones (@christannachy) on



A photo posted by Nolan K. (@nolank808) on


<< Awesome Videos >>

What’s better than gawking at jaw-dropping photos? Watching adventures unfold right before your eyes in video. I love making travel videos and creating visual stories from my travels, but I also love discovering amazing video bloggers and following their trips. Here are some of my recent favorite travel videos.

Trekking From Xela to Lake Atitlan

Kazakhstan: 36 Hours in Astana

The Gambia Tabaski, Festival of Sacrifice

4 Years of Travel Supercut

Have any travel news that caught your attention? Or an article or photo you read? Share below!

Are Hostels Safe? And Should New Travelers Stay in Hostels?

Hostel_Part_III_2011_CustomBD_001When you first start to travel, so many fears can pop into your head from getting robbed to missing flights to running out of money. And thanks to Hollywood horror films, hostels have been added to a list of things encouraged to fear, and for some, evoke images of kidnapping and torture.

In general, most news you see on TV around the world is bad news, and most western governments use scare tactics to keep people at home. The world is a dangerous place. That’s a silly generalization, and after hitting my 4 year travel anniversary it’s one that’s become even more laughable. But what of hostels? Those sketchy and dank places run by Slovakian mobsters? Sometimes I have conversations with friends or co-workers when I return to the United States and the topic comes up with a statement like “hostels aren’t safe, I don’t know how you do it” or “people get killed or robbed in hostels“.

I chuckle at them and shake my head.

Whatever you want to call them, hostels or guesthouses go hand in hand as a part of the travel experience for me over the past four years. They are the meeting place for new best friends. They are starting places for exciting and unexpected adventures. They can be a place where solo travelers find another solo traveler to connect with and sometimes canoodle with (take that however you want). They smell a little funky. They are places to perfect the art of cheap pasta recipes. And you will miss out on a huge part of the travel experience if you never stay in a hostel.

The debate will forever rage on whether or not to stay in hostels if you don’t have to which depends on what type of traveler and what tastes you have. But to argue if they are safe or not I will share the tale of my first time in a hostel to make my point.

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All month I am revisiting many of my travel firsts from my first trip abroad to New Zealand. For my first experience of a hostel everything began quite normal, but just like something out of a movie — shit got weird. So this is one story had to be told again.

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Photo By: Matthew Coleman

It seemed like a normal day in Auckland. I went on a birthday binge drink the night before with a new friend. Jaegermeister breath in the morning. Hangover. Rushed downstairs 5 minutes before checkout to book another night. But when I returned my room, I discovered a naked body in my bed. Lifeless.

What do you do when you find a mysterious body in your bed?

At the time I didn’t know if the person was lifeless or not. But the body wasn’t moving and didn’t seem to be breathing from what I could see. In some instances, one might panic thinking it’s a dead body. In others, one might also fist pump in silence thinking they got lucky or high five themselves. I knew for a fact that I didn’t get lucky the night before and come home with a girl

I knew for a fact that I didn’t get lucky the night before and had come home with a girl. My “it’s my birthday” line that worked so well in Vegas for smooches, failed that night on the ladies of Auckland. And the second reason was the bare ass staring back at me belonged to a dude.

I wasn’t that drunk.

Sure, one of the thoughts that raced through my head among hundreds of others was wondering if the person was dead, but I’m not a hobbyist of recreating Hollywood horror movies, and I can’t imagine someone being able to drag a body into the hostel room unnoticed.

I was simply confused.

Planking was a big fad around that time, yet I don’t think naked planking had caught on in 2011. Maybe it was a prank?

Then the other hostel mates saw the body. 

Slowly bunk bed by bunk bed began to squeak with the other backpackers coming to life. As some stretched out and rubbed their eyes or announced their own hangover with a moan, they began to notice the situation in my bed.

I was standing in the doorway with the definition of befuddled on my face. There was a naked body  slumped in my bed, half twisted and half hanging off the edge. One Irishman looked back and forth from my bed to me about 10 times before whispering, “Woot da heel is dat?

The only reply I gave at first was an extended “uuuuuuhhhhhhh…

As the rest of the room came to life and sat up to gawk, I looked around at them and whispered the only thing I could, “What the fuck is going on?

The Irishman replied the only way I’d expect, “Oim nawt drunk enoof for dis shite in da mornin“.

I wasn’t either.

Where did the body come from?

As I stood there, I tried to trace back over the whole morning to figure it out and hundreds of scenarios popped in and out of my head within seconds.

Flashback sequence commence…

That morning when I woke up to the scream of my alarm and saw it was just 5 minute before I had to check out. I know for a fact I rolled around in a Jaegermeister induced agony at first. After finding the energy to get out of bed, I discovered my half-full water bottle near the edge of the bed. Elixir of life.

And nobody else in my bed. I rolled off the bed still wearing the outfit from the night before and waddled out of the room, squinting through one eye as I made my way downstairs. The front desk was swarming with last-minute check outs, so I shuffled outside and into the searing sunlight. The hangover was too intense to do anything that day let alone think, so I listened to my belly instead and bought the last shriveled up meat-pies in the 7-11 nearby.

I rolled off the bed still wearing the outfit from the night before and waddled out of the room, squinting through one eye as I made my way downstairs. The front desk was swarming with last-minute check outs, so I shuffled outside and into the searing sunlight. The hangover was too intense to do anything that day let alone think, so I listened to my belly instead and bought the last shriveled up meat-pies in the 7-11 nearby.

When I returned to the hostel, the front desk commented on my glorious appearance with a “looks like you had an epic night mate” as they booked me for another night. Before going back to my room, I slumped down on the bottom step, lacking the energy to focus on juggling meat pies and water bottles while climbing stairs.

With the pies destroyed, I trudged upstairs and entered my room. No naked body in the bed. It was already 10am and I didn’t want to waste the day so I grabbed my toothbrush and went into the bathroom. Nothing out of the ordinary except that I found the remnants of meat pie in my beard. Yum.

Then I returned to the room.

And BAM. Naked ninja in my bed.

Cut to the Irishman waking and we’re back to “What the fuck is going on?

Either way, I knew through my brief flashback sequence that there was no way this naked-planking-ninja-dead-body was there minutes before.

That was the only time I put my Lonely Planet guide to use.

It was time to investigate. And when I say investigate, I mean use my Lonely Planet Guide Book for the first and only time ever during my trip in New Zealand. The guidebook was the closest thing to grab so I used that to poke his leg. No response. The butt cheeks stared back unmoving.

The rest of the room watched in silence (though there was a bit of giggling from one girl) as I walked around to the side of the bed and reached out to prod the dude in the shoulder. No response. I looked back at the rest of the room and held up my hands not knowing what to do. The Irishman nodded his head forward, and I took that as the sign to wallop the guy upside the head. If he was dead it wouldn’t matter, right?

So I walloped him in the back of the head. 

Lonely Planet proved useful and the moment I walloped him, he sprung upright. How he sprung upright from he twisted position he was in still baffles me (naked ninja skills I guess) but the sudden life of him scared the hell out of all of us. IT’S ALIVE!

I think I even yelled “Oh shit!

There wasn’t much life to the guy. As he sat on my bed, his eyes twirled around in his skull. Then he flopped back down.

Hey dude” I said, and proceeded to nudge him again with the guide-book. This time he did one of those moves where he tried to blindly swat me away. My hangover took hold, and now that I knew this naked dude was alive, I was furious he was in my bed. I hit him in the back of the head again, and again he popped upright. Eyes still twirling, but this time he mumbled something I couldn’t understand.

At that moment he came back to life.

Half-life at least. His eyes stopped twirling and he looked down at himself, realizing he was naked. He looked around the room but straight through all of us as though we didn’t exist.

You need to get the hell out of my bed man” I said, beginning to grit my teeth.

Instead of just wandering out naked after deflowering my clean-ish hostel bed, he reached down and began to grab my clothes from my backpack.

Great, now he was trying to steal my clothes!

He had two of my shirts and a pair of my pants and I yanked them from his hands. He still didn’t seem to realize anybody else was there, but he wrapped the blanket around himself and stood up.

Yes, take the blanket because I was going to burn it anyway” I called out, and he waddled out of the room and into the hall. Everyone in the room began to laugh, and even though I was pissed off, I could help myself either. By the time I poked my head into the hall to see if he was sleeping in it, he was gone like some naked phantom.

And that was the last I saw of him. But not the last I heard of him.

Later in the day word had spread of the naked guy in the bed, and while making some instant noodles and instant coffee in the kitchen, one of the backpackers in another room gave us his origin story.

He literally pissed off everyone in his room.

The “bloke” as they called him couldn’t hold his liquor or drugs apparently. The night before he had gone out by himself and re-appeared around 7am. At one point, close to when I was downstairs booking another night, he woke up everyone when one roommate caught him standing in the center of the room peeing all over everyone’s luggage. They did what anyone sensible would do in that situation and physically tossed him outside and locked the door.

When we compared stories, we figured out that somehow when I went to use the bathroom after booking another night, he managed to wander into the room and flop onto my bed before the door closed.

Looking back on it, it was a hilarious situation. For someone already battling hundreds of emotions as a first time traveler, I created tons of bad scenarios in my head that were usually based off of horror films. And that will make any experience seem dangerous. Go camping? Killed. Eastern Europe? Killed. Unless Liam Neeson can save me with his certain set of skills. Relaxing by a lake? Killed. Own a cat and bury it when it dies? Killed by zombie cats. Go to sleep at night and dream? Killed. Tomatoes? Killer tomatoes, you’re dead. Clowns? Killer alien clowns. Get the point? Well, I believe that last one. I hate clowns!

Get the point? Well, I believe that last one. I hate clowns!

Well, I believe that last one. I hate clowns!

Don’t let fear of the unknown or TV/movies delegate where you can travel to and not. Even when I traveled to Haiti, most warned me that I’d be killed or kidnapped because they saw it on TV and the news. Haiti is my favorite country to travel to.

Hostels can be weird, but they’ve never felt dangerous.

It’s true that my first ever hostel experience involved finding a lifeless body in my bed only for it to come back to life and waddle off. Freaking weird huh? Since then, I’ve heard stories of times when people have had drunk or drugged up idiots do things similar to that. I’ve experienced a fight in my hostel in Thailand that threatened to spiral out of control. I’ve also heard of stories where people have had their things stolen as well, but usually that’s because they decided not to take proper precautions.

Almost 99% of hostel stories I hear though are funny like my first experience, or about best friends being made.

Are hostels safe? After 4 years of travel and hundreds of hostels that I’ve stayed in, I can tell you that hostels aren’t dangerous or secret cults that will kidnap you or anything close to that.

My hostel experiences, though peppered with some weird shit like this one, has been pretty great. I’ve met friends that I’ve traveled with afterward and still keep in touch with. I’ve met hostel staff that I’m friends with to this date. I’ve even worked in a hostel, and it turned out to be a great way to save on budget. But I’ve never felt one was dangerous.

I’ve been to hostels that are incredibly dirty. I’ve been to some that outdo hotels in style. I’ve stayed at one run by an obsessive Christian who made us watch movies about Jesus. I’ve stayed at others that are run as a circus where you can learn to fire dance and juggle and tight-rope walk. Even some hold an incredibly high standard for eco-sustainability and environmental consciousness that outmatch most companies around the world. You can have a great experience or a horrible experience in some, but that is the same for most travel experiences.

You have to be responsible about staying in hostels.

Even though I’ve befriended plenty of people in hostels, there are always bad apples that you meet abroad. I’m not trying to tell you to distrust anyone, but to be blunt I’m telling you don’t be stupid. Most of it is common sense people.

  • Don’t leave your passports and electronics out in the open.
  • Don’t come home so wasted you don’t know where you are.
  • Always lock up any valuables in the lockers most hostels have.
  • If there is no locker, take a day-pack of your valuables with you.
  • Going out? Ask the front desk to hold it for you.
  • Read reviews about hostels before you go to make sure they are clean, in a good area, that they have locks on doors and lockers for your stuff, and that the staff isn’t sketchy.

Overall, don’t be scared to stay in a hostel. They are pretty fun places made for budget backpackers to meet and make friends. And who knows, maybe you’ll have a funny story to tell like the case of the naked planker.

SIDE NOTE: When I originally told this story on my old blog, the hostel that this happened at thought it was so funny that they sent me on a tour around New Zealand to write for them. Bless that naked ninja.

What was your first experience in a hostel like? Have a funny hostel story as well?

Last Week in Travel November 15th-21st: News, Best Articles, and More.

Hello Lost Ones and welcome to your weekly digest of travel related news, my picks travel blog articles you must read, my favorite Instagram photos, and other travel related goodies!

Each Monday I will (attempt) to send this travel related digital newspaper out, and I will also share an editor’s note about my own life abroad and what I am currently up to. As always, I encourage you to share your views — but with news articles and current world events please keep it respectful. Also, have you come across a favorite Instagrammer or blog article last week you love? Share it in the comments below!

<< Jump to a selection or scroll down >>
Editor’s Note Travel News Best Articles Favorite Instagrams Awesome Videos

<< Lost Boy’s Note >>

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ast week was a tough one for me emotionally and mentally for many reasons. It was my 28th birthday, and typically birthdays are a joyous occasion, but I was overall a grump. And not just a grump, my emotions swung from confusion, to depression, to anger as well. It has become a tradition for me over the past few years to use my birthday as a date of transformation and transition, and 3 out of the 4 years since I left the United States in 2011 (besides the one where I ended up in jail) I’ve arrived in a foreign country. And maybe like that bad one mentioned above that I’d like to wipe out, the reason I was so miserable was because I wasn’t en-route somewhere. Instead, I was here in Melbourne and I had to work that day. I fueled the anger inside me all day that I was at a restaurant instead of traveling, but I think the worst part was knowing that even if I wasn’t waiting tables on my birthday, I’d be celebrating alone anyway.

Yes, I had a pity party. But it’s my own fault really.

I came to Australia to replenish my dusty and empty wallet so I could go on another big trip. India and the Rickshaw Run had turned out to be more costly than expected, paired with the fact that I didn’t receive the whole deposit back for our pristine returned ricky, I needed some income fast. While traveling India, I received sign after sign that Melbourne should be the place I settle for a bit because it was “the coolest city to live in“. That statement is true in many aspects, but since then I’ve treated Melbourne only as my place of work, it has nearly become Washington DC for me. You see, the only time I go back to Washington DC is to work and save up fast, and I’m miserable there otherwise. I can’t stand living there besides my friends and family saving my sanity of course. Then I get to, after the 6-9 months of waiting tables, go away for a year. This year before leaving for India, I vowed to escape that mindless grind and finally turn my passion into my career — to give up waiting tables for good.

Yet, here I was on my birthday waiting tables.

Yes, Melbourne is in another country and technically I am traveling. And there is a ton I love about the city from the quirky café to hidden alleyway bars to overall beauty of it. But I’ve been treating Melbourne like DC, and focusing solely on working and saving. Thus is why I haven’t really made an effort to branch out and make new friends, or explore more. Though I did go out for a few drinks on my birthday with a friend I met in Thailand, I still felt down. It’s important for me to save up for a new big adventure, but it’s also important to enjoy my time here as well. So I’m going to try and make a point of that. To get out and explore when I have time off. To not let frustration overpower my happiness. To not think I have to make this ticking clock income happen because what I’ve come to know is that I’ve always been able to make an adventure out of any amount of money. 

I haven’t been focusing on my health the past month or two either. After I arrived in Melbourne, I spent 2 months recovering from health issues after India and was on a roll with recovery, with eating healthy, and with fitness. Then I flipped my bike and crushed my hand. I haven’t been to the gym since, and it was as if that was reason to throw all of the other things out the window. Without me being active daily and eating healthy, my energy was falling. All of that affects my mood and emotions negatively, and paired with the feelings I’ve been having lately was not a good mix. So this week I started back at the gym and focusing on waking early to work out and write. And my mood has definitely approved. As much as it might seem like a hassle or something of “normal life” routine, fitness and health is really important while traveling. 

What about savings for travel?

After all of that talk about work affecting my mood in a negative way, I hadn’t even been putting a ton of money away either. But this month I changed my spending habits, and for November I already put away $2,000. And to top that off since I’ve been writing on the blog again, attention has been growing around it enough for me to have some recent partnerships come through and paid writing as well!

Overall, I have to remember that money is a tool for travel and not to consume myself with worrying over it. If I work but stay happy, the universe will bring forth opportunities and soon enough I’ll be back on the road.

<< Travel News >>

It sucks that your birth date will now be remembered for the Paris attack” a friend said to me on my birthday.

This week, the world was rocked by news of terrorist attacks in Paris as well as the almost ignored attacks in Beirut. Combined, these attacks killed hundreds and left hundreds more severely injured. In the wake of it all, I saw posts showing mixed emotions of fear and hatred, of sadness and confusion, and of unity and strength. For one who doesn’t watch the news often, I couldn’t help see every TV or newspaper telling of the tragedy. Facebook profiles popped up with French colors and Instagram flooded with Eiffel Tower photos. On one hand it was a show of unity in a moment of tragedy, but on the other it showed how Beirut bombings were much ignored and many of the other tragedies around the world go ignored. It was great to see people showing their support, but also was a view into how much of the Western world overlooks things until it hits home. All the while, places in the world, including many governors in US states, want to close borders to those in need.

NOTE: I am not a fear monger nor do I enjoy politics, so I won’t get into that on the blog. But here are some articles that stuck out this week on the topic and recent events and other lighter topics as well. By no means will I ever say that you should fear traveling, because seeing other cultures is what breaks down these barriers of humankind.

George R.R. Martin gives a perfect reason to let Syrians in

Why You Should Stop Calling the Terrorists a State

Southwest Kicks Arabic Passengers off for Racist Passenger


Wow Air Brings back it’s Popular $99 Flights to Iceland

Quantas to Fly non-stop from NYC to Australia

Google Maps is now fully accessible offline


<< Best Articles >>

I love to read other travel bloggers adventures, and I am constantly flipping through stories daily. Here are the best I can across this week!

Be My Travel Muse: 30 Amazing Photos from 3 Years of Travel

A Dangerous Business: Importance of Doing What You’re Good At

That Backpacker: Meteora, More Than Just Monasteries!

Brendan’s Adventures: Tips for taking portraits with Examples from Cuba

Anglo-Italian: 13 Fantastic Vegan Restaurants in Berlin, Germany

:The Planet D: 22 Photos that will make you want to visit Nova Scotia

<< Favorite Instagrams >>

My favorite app on my iPhone by far is Instagram, and I share photos from my adventures daily — but I also scour it for other awesome Instagramers around the globe to feed my wanderlust, get ideas on places to go, and simply gawk at the beauty of the world. Here are some favorites from this week. Have an Instagram? Come follow me and say hi! Want to get featured? Tag your travel photos with #TheLostLife and join the tribe of Lost Ones!

A photo posted by Rob Duncan (@robbieduncan) on





A photo posted by Kaley (@helloimkaley) on



A photo posted by Sonja Erin (@migratingmiss) on


<< Awesome Videos >>

An Irishman in Vegas

Trekking From Xela to Lake Atitlan

Kazakhstan: 36 Hours in Astana

The Gambia Tabaski, Festival of Sacrifice

4 Years of Travel Supercut

Have any travel news that caught your attention? Or an article or photo you read? Share below!

Battling Hundreds of Emotions When You First Start Traveling

Excitement. Fear. Elation. Anxiety. Euphoria. Hesitation. There are many words that can be used to describe the millions of emotions one experiences when traveling abroad for the first time, and when I first stepped foot into New Zealand — my first country ever, I experienced all of these and more.

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I’ve already stated that stepping onto my Air New Zealand plane and flying to the other side of the world was the scariest moment of my life (not because of the Richard Simmons intro they have), but stepping off the plane onto foreign soil for the first time was a whole different bag of emotions. Even though it has now been 4 years since that day, and I’ve flown well over 50 times and traveled to 18 different countries, I still remember that moment vividly.

It sticks with you, the feelings when you first embark on this great adventure not knowing what will follow, or what you will do, or what the country and the trip will be like. There are those of you that have been traveling since you were that crying baby on the plane, and surely there are some people out there that can’t recall the time a country stole your passport’s virginity, but for me everything about life was in a little town with a little town mentality that never thought much about the outside world.

I gave no real thought to the rest of the world. I cut grass on weekends. I worked in a job I hated. I drank more than 3 people should nightly. I obsessed over fleeting hobbies that usually involved get-rich-quick schemes. I dwelled over the small issues, I tried to date everyone I could and then got over them within days, I loved to talk shit about other people and lived in a constant state of anger.

It wasn’t until I started reading travel blogs and flipping through inspirational quote pictures on Tumblr for hours a day that I began to believe there was a much bigger world out there. Ignorance made me think that other countries were only seen in movies and on TV, something of fantasy. Those people, like me, forever stayed in their country and in their home city. Until the passport came. It still seemed like a fantasy — the ability to go to another country, but it was fast becoming reality. A mysterious reality.


Beads of sweat crawled down my forehead as I crossed the gangway and into Auckland Airport from the intense nervousness that had made me gnaw off my fingernails, and probably because I was wearing a winter hat and it was summer in New Zealand. Summer! It was November and I had just left the nipply weather of Los Angeles and it was as if I landed in some mythical land where everything was opposite. It kinda’ was. However silly it is to read that one of my first emotions when I entered New Zealand the surprise that it was summer and not winter, I was then a person that thought getting a passport involved some impossible feat. Until I got one of course and realized it just involved a short trip to the post office. I laugh at things like this now, but it felt as if the plane ride was more like traveling to another planet and it blew me away that 12 hours could make the seasons flip.


As I crossed the gangway and saw the words Kia Ora! upon entering the customs area glass labyrinth, I was filled with a rush of happiness. My stomach was tight and trembled, and I was trying to hold back from giggling. My skin tingles with a thousand needles and with this electricity coursing through my veins I couldn’t help but smile gigantically. I’m sure people hated me and were pushing to get by me as I stood in the way fumbling with my Lonely Planet guidebook, passport, and phone to try to take a photo. But dammit, I was going to take a photo of this sign and maybe everything else along the way. Right up until a security guard approached me and said, “Please keep moving and no photos in the customs area.

I got a photo anyway. And managed to drop my iPhone and shatter the glass. Thanks security guard!


Making my way through the glass labyrinth and into the customs area, I had no clue what to expect. I had never gone through a customs before, but all I saw was the lot of us being herded into queues and fear knotted up into my throat. What did I think? That we were being queued up for slaughter or something? Either way, I found it suddenly hard to swallow and my hands were shaking. It was probably because I had made the mistake of watching that Kiwi show Border Patrol on YouTube before flying to New Zealand about the customs police catching smugglers. At the time I found it hilariously silly, but now I felt as though they would stop me for some reason and I’d end up in jail. Of course I wasn’t smuggling anything at all, but the fear was there.

Do I smile or not smile? What do I say? Do I make eye contact or avoid it. Did I mess up my declaration form? Should I say “Kia Ora” or “Hello“? Does my breath smell? And then I was before the customs guard. I looked down to make sure my feet were in the right place and the blonde female guard with a stern face called me forward.

Passport?!” She called out half annoyed, and I fumbled to give it to her.

Hi how are you?” I blurted out louder than I should have.

Fine.” she said with a courteous smirk as she flipped through my pages.

It’s my first time doing this” I said, and realized as my cheeks flushed how embarrassing of a statement that was, but it cracked her stone facade and she laughed softly.

I can see that” she said, and then stamped me in. “Welcome to New Zealand Mr. Brown” she said with a smile, and handed me back my passport.

With my passport virginity taken by New Zealand and the blonde officer, I strode with awkward confidence through the gate.


I was past the gate and into New Zealand, but my confident stride stopped there. Where do I go now? There were signs pointing to go right and so I followed, but there were more queues and this time I had to choose. I ended up in the customs declaration line simply because I didn’t want to somehow get in trouble for leaving and accidentally not declaring anything. Then I realized I hadn’t even gone to get my backpack from the baggage carousel yet!

Either me turning around fast and walking away or blurting out “Oh fuck” must have caught the attention of the customs agents. I went to my baggage claim area and found my bag already on the ground, wrapped in plastic. That was strange. I didn’t before loading it on and I started to freak out a bit like it meant I was caught for something. As I tore away the plastic, two border patrol agents stepped over. “Need help with anything?” one asked.

Uh, I just don’t know where to go after this” I said, secretly looking for TV show cameras nearby.

Can I see your passport please?” the other asked, and my stomach dropped. I was in trouble for something.

Do you have anything to declare in your bag” the one who wasn’t looking at the passport asked.

Uh, maybe my goldfish?” I said

Goldfish?!” he retorted, “You got live goldfish onto the plane?!

No officer, no, these crackers” I said, and pulled them out.

They both laughed. And I chuckled nervously. “First time eh?” the one with the passport stated as he saw my lonely New Zealand stamp there.

Yes, first time outside the United States.

Just head to declaration and show your goldfish” A guard said with a smirk, and handed back my passport. My first time was fast becoming a joke, but I was just happy to move on.

Declarations did take away my beloved Goldfish crackers.


New Zealand was almost there. I conquered my fears and traveled abroad. I made it (awkwardly) through customs and had my passport stamped. All I had to do was leave the airport. And I hesitated. I hadn’t booked any hotels or hostels. I didn’t know anyone at all. I was afraid to speak to a stranger and ask for directions. All of these “what if” scenarios flooded my brain and made me hesitate. It was as if I thought some sort of ferocious beasts lay in wait for me ahead. I couldn’t connect to wifi so I couldn’t just use my phone to make decisions for me on what to do and where to go. And then I met Scott. He saw me standing there, frozen, when he approached.

Hey man” he said with a California cool. I was hesitant to respond to him as well. Was he some slick scam artist? Did he want to rob me? But he seemed like a nice person, and though it was hard to drop my guard I did.

You’re from America too aren’t ya?

“Yeah, DC area but I just got in from LA.” I said.

Me too, we must have been on the same plane.” he replied. “Where are you staying?

I have no clue at all” I said. And it was true. I may have stood there all day, but instead, he forced me from my hesitation and my comfort zone and we left the airport to both find some accommodation.

I felt the weight of fear and hesitation and confusion drift away.


Once I left the airport, I suddenly became curious about everything. It was a rush of excitement and eagerness to just wander and explore and find out more. Just to walk for hours and take everything in. New Zealand, especially Auckland, is a very easy city to have as your first because everyone speaks English and most things are familiar. But everything was still different in a sense. Scott fed that curiosity as well. He was someone who I wanted to be like. I didn’t want to be him, but he had an air of weightlessness about him when it came to talking to strangers and doing something without worrying too much and I wanted to be like that. Though I still had my worries in the back of my head, I was curious about things for once. Curious enough to take a chance even if the outcome could be bad.

That is what travel is and has become for me since; a curiosity, knowing that a decision could turn out bad, but it could also be the best decision ever. The only way to find out is to give into your curiosity and do it. If not, you’ll never know, and not knowing and not taking a chance is the worst thing you can do in life. Desiring to find out about cultures and people and curious enough to talk to strangers and make new friends.

In Retrospect

Since that original trip, every new flight and new country bring a floods of emotions. Not like that first time though. These days, I pass through airports and land in another country and wonder “I’m already here?” because most of that has become automatic for me. I still get immensely excited in airports watching people coming and going and knowing I am too, but the procedural part of it is now automatic. But that first time flying to a foreign country at the age of 23 and only knowing a world that existed in a few states I had traveled to in the United States brought hundreds of emotions at once. Some of them made me second guess my decision, but most of them were overpowering in a positive way. Many of those emotions told me that because I was feeling these emotions, it meant that what I was doing was worth it. There wasn’t a numbness in my heart anymore, it was thudding rapidly with happiness and curiosity.

For those of you that haven’t been traveling and have always dreamed of hopping on a plane and seeing the world — there are plenty of emotions that will try to stop you from doing this. I felt these fears and anxieties and hesitations before my trip to New Zealand, and even afterward. Much of life for many of us, especially if you grew up in the United States, exists only there. And people in your life and societal norms will say that it’s crazy to quit your job and sell your things and pursue a passionate endeavor.

From 4 years traveling around the world since that first fateful day, I tell you to listen not to outside influences, but listen to your heart. There are many countries around the world that the people can’t travel or chase their dreams. Countries where people dream the same dreams as you, but it isn’t fear that holds them back from leaving, it’s poverty or inability to get visas or political instabilities or war.

It is our responsibility as a human beings with the ability and freedom to travel to face our fears. To get over comfort zones of not having secure jobs and not having a big screen TV or not having our Starbucks. To travel to feed our curiosities, which will be the best education you ever have just by gobbling up all observations and experience that come from travel. To travel for people who won’t ever have the chance to, and when you meet those people, to connect with them and share your culture. To share a smile and a meal. To share emotions. Because though you may have these emotions flood you when you begin traveling, in your travels you will see that this is what connects every human being on the planet. We all feel the same emotions and desire the same basic things in life.

It’s perfectly normal to experience all of these emotions when you first start traveling.

In the battle of hundreds of emotions when you first start traveling, once you conquer the conflicting ones and continue this amazing journey, you will then discover nothing divides the human race as a whole except the fear of the unknown — and it is the one thing that was holding you back from surpassing your boundaries as well. You will be a piece in the puzzle connecting the world by surpassing boundaries, on a map or of the mind.

What were some emotions you experienced when you first started traveling?

In Jacmel Haiti Abandoned Coffee Factories Become Vibrant Art Galleries

In Jacmel Haiti, we ventured down a shaded side street and into an avenue of crumbling factories that seemed all abandoned. But behind those rusted red doors was something of a secret discovery.

Haiti always has something surprising to show.

Part of the surprise is that Haiti hasn’t been a destination on the top of most lists to travel to, so much of what’s to see and experience is unknown. But I’ve already gone through the reasons why you shouldn’t judge Haiti by its media coverage and why it is one of my favorite places to visit. Besides just those surprises of the unknown, when I visit Haiti I always feel like I’m having some profound experience — more so than I feel in other places.

It isn’t the monuments of history like Rome, where I lived out a childhood dream exploring the Colosseum. It isn’t moments like bungy jumping for the first time and the feeling of death and life gripping you within seconds of each other. As always with Haiti, it’s something more engrossing, more powerful, and more raw. It’s the feeling of the air around every experience there. In every interaction. In every step and touch and taste and smell and smile. It’s old and fragile yet ready to burst at the seams with life. There’s just some things that hold it back, and a part of that is that the world and people look at Haiti like a crumbling ruin that should just be passed by without a glance.

As I’ve come to experience from both of my trips to Haiti, one in 2012 and the last in 2015, is that no matter how it looks to the naked eye, Haiti always holds surprises within. And with that said, it was no different when we came upon an avenue of apparently abandoned buildings. As we wandered the side streets of Jacmel Haiti, we found a small gallery hidden behind a half-opened red iron door of a cracked building.

Inside, we met Prince, the owner of the gallery who we had the pleasure to learn from about the history of those very buildings. And he gave us a private tour of the abandoned factories connected, ones that held the past of a prosperous Haiti frozen in time behind locked doors. Inside those crumbling shells told the story of Jacmel, a booming port city in the early 1900’s — and those buildings were coffee factories processing coffee brought in from the hillsides.

It wasn’t just another abandoned place, because I do my fair share of urban exploring. The whole time walking through those halls and hearing the history gripped me, and nearly stole my breath. I could feel the “once upon a time” of it all. But more importantly, it was what beautiful things were happening behind these crumbling facades that was the surprise. Instead of passing it by without a glance, we chose to peak in and discover what was really beneath the surface. Now it’d your turn to.

Come check out the video that I’ve put together about this experience, and share your thoughts after!

Old iron doors this heavy duty were a sign of a prosperous business.


Century old coffee machinery still intact.


Near the coffee machinery, Voodoo drawings on the wall. Our guide said some people sneak in to have ceremonies here.


I could feel this profound “once upon a time” sense here, almost as if I could see the machinery running and the business bustling.



An old well that is said to be cursed by bad Voodoo spirits, or so I was told.



Old desks with paperwork and transaction receipts still cluttering the surface.



An old bottle of rum, nearly 100 years old, stands defiantly dusty against time. On the label it noted all of the health benefits of rum. Ain’t that something?
Automobile lubrication charts that were used as mock instructions on up keeping the coffee machinery.
Century old ledgers and receipts, handwritten, noting sales of tens of thousands of Haitian dollars worth of coffee lay scattered on the ground.
“These were once all coffee factories” our guide said as he took me to the rooftop.


“It wasn’t the earthquake” he told us in his harsh cigarette voice, “it was just forgotten.”
The intricacies of the arches and doors show just how wealthy this factory once was.
Across from the crumbling factory, he had more to show us. More of the abandoned factories that weren’t just “forgotten”.
An art gallery and studio was created from the ruins of one factory to make an inspirational space for young artists.



Some artists favor traditional art, others modern. Much on display was also different mediums used to depict Voodoo culture and history.
Political art, amongst the rest, was prominent here with the young artists using their skills as their voice.
A young Haitian artist paints a traditional piece with other students, depicting history of Haiti using different symbols.



Again Haiti left me in wonder. For it is only here that I feel I see such an inspirational rise from ruin to create beauty from decay.”

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