Travel Blog Articles

The First Bite of Winter Depression Blues

What is this feeling I get in winter, and why am I feeling it? Some call it the winter blues – this seasonal depression that descends upon everyone when the cold grips us by the neck to steal our warmth and make our bones ache.

I don’t think that’s quite it.

At least for myself.

I know that it’s not just winter that brings me down… I have a feeling that it has to do with where I am right now. I don’t get these winter blues everywhere. Just when I’m home. Or in Washington D.C. which was once-upon-a-time home. I know now it can no longer be called home.

  • A photo close-up of frozen pine tree branches. Photo taken with Canon Rebel 650D T4i, edited in Lightroom using VSCO Film Pack 06.
  • Photo holding a frozen pine cone on a cold winter day with fingerless gloves.

It snowed for the first time this season recently, blanketing every visible surface in white. I stared out the window as it floated to the ground, watching my breathe cling to the window, and then disappear, as if winter outside tried to steal it from me. This was the first time I had been close to snow in over 2 years and it was beautiful. So pure. So fresh. So new. And so finite. There is no doubt that winter in the essence of the season can be something to admire. Even to love. You begin to appreciate warmth. You grasp a hot drink or another person as if you won’t survive without it. Relaxation and coziness become a priority. You shiver and dream of spring as if it’ll never come.

There’s also the never-ending longing for something that I feel here. On cold and lonely days when you don’t have someone to help warm up the doldrums of winter or enough of something in your life to brighten your day in that monochrome world — that longing feels like I’m gripping ice until it burns.

It hurts. It’s a nostalgic cold, one that no matter what I seem to, can’t be thawed. A numbness. A void. I stare out the window at the captivating cycle of change and life and death before my eyes wanting to feel something. Aching to feeling something. Trying to trick myself into it. But I feel nothing. It’s as if I stare out the window trapping myself in this place and I want to leave, yet at the same time I keep myself locked in because I don’t have enough in me to leave. I’m lonely yet I don’t want to see anyone.

I look outward and my reflection stares back at my inward. I’ve been here before, eyes locked at my reflection and wondering what’s wrong. I wait for it to tell me, but I never get an answer. Why am I so cold? Why can’t I feel warmth right now? My whole being from bones to soul aches.

Before my recent return to the US, I was optimistic about opportunities in my homeland. I hadn’t truly experienced winter in years and looked forward to it. When I was in Scotland just months ago, I remember seeing snow on the peaks of Glen Nevis and wished I could touch it. And even seeing it now, I want to be outside in it and feel the bite as it melts on my skin. Yet, at the same time, I can’t gather the energy to.

In my mind, my return would provide me the much needed rest physically and mentally after 2 years of travel. A span of time filled with, to be honest, absolutely cray adventures, but not much time for productivity. Here, I’d have a space to set my belongings down and not have to move every couple of days. Being productive and creative would be top priority.

Instead, each day I stare outward and inward into the void and do nothing. Just stare. Trapped. Not in the house, not in a physical space, but trapped by the nostalgia this place brings. Trapped in the depression I thought I destroyed. Except, we can never destroy it, can we?

Good ole’ Jack can sum it up perfect sometimes. The longing for the road. It calls to me, and as much as I’d like to trick myself into thinking I can slow down for a while, there’s something inside of my that laughs at the thought. Something restless.

On this first snow, I did leave the house eventually. Not far, just into the backyard of my friends house where I’m crashing. I had to touch it. I had to feel it. Everything in sight was ice-covered and frozen in time. Still and quiet and empty. The only noise was a slight breeze that whistled faintly through the crooked branches clawing at the sky. I stood for a while, listening to the wasteland and knew just how much it mimicked my own feelings. I was frozen in place waiting to thaw. I bent over and picked up a pine cone that pricked me. I laughed to myself. It felt good to feel something.

It’s strange how a chaotic pile of rotting, frozen, and splintered wood can relate to you. Some days here I’m devoid of emotion, and other days I can’t pick through the random heap of them all thrown together. For someone who never tries to live too far ahead of himself and the in the moment, I can’t help look into the future longing for the feeling of happiness that I have when I’m on the move. To escape the fragments of nostalgia that linger here, winter or not.

I have yet to visit my parents graves, and I didn’t before my last trip either. Am I still afraid of that reality? Closer to detached. I’ve come to terms with their deaths but I didn’t expect to feel this way again when I returned. I know what my old “home” does to me. When I’m here, I feel stuck and stagnant. I can’t seem to gather my thoughts. I sit around and stare into nothingness. I swipe through dating sites just for the distraction but no real yearning for connection. I watch television without even watching. I think about drinking more than I ever do when I travel.

Was I lying to myself to think that I could come back and slow down? Was telling myself and others that I could supplement it with exploring the USA?

I don’t think so. But I know now that home is not, and will never be this place again. The only warmth and light I feel now when I’m in Maryland is when I’m with my friends and family. Spending the holidays with them has been one of the only times in the past month that I felt. And felt happy. It’s my crutch here. They have been keeping me up emotionally since arrival in November. But it’s not a constant. Home is somewhere outside of this place that I can’t help but feel trapped in. For now, home will live in them and when I see them.

Sometimes I can feel the warmth here and see the lighter side of things. It’s fleeting, like a snowflake landing on my open palm that disappears in moments. I’m in a job I really like. I’m happy to see people I haven’t seen in years. Not so bad huh? It’s not the situation that does this to me. and most of the day I don’t know why I’m up or down. It’s torturous. And difficult to hide most days. But I do, I hide the blue.

Somewhere out there I can call a place home even for a little while and feel just as alive as I do when traveling. For now, I stare out the window beyond this nostalgic prison. Beyond the depression that takes hold of me here.

I’m still waiting for the thaw.

My Favorite Travel Blogs

It’s been assembled! If you are looking for inspiration to start traveling the world, what better way than to see how others did it! This page is a gathering of the most enthralling, informative, eye-catching, hilarious, and inspiring travel blogs the world has ever known. Or at least they are my favorites. These individuals have fought through the gauntlet to chase their dreams of travel with such badassitude that it’ll make you want to kick yourself in the ass for not traveling sooner.

*List updated February, 2019 — Ongoing changes will come to this list.*

Have a travel blog or have a favorite one you read? Make sure to comment below and share!

FAVORITES 

A DANGEROUS BUSINESS
A small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a “normal” life of job, friends and family with an unquenchable lust for travel. Met Amanda at TBEX in Toronto and again for a beer in Thailand. Her articles make travel seem even more magical.

AUSSIE ON THE ROAD
Chris and his magnificent ginger beard are drinking, romancing, and teaching their way around the world trying to have a life less ordinary. I haven’t had the pleasure to meet this red-bearded fellow yet, but his articles are funny and inspirational.

BE MY TRAVEL MUSE
Kristin is a former investment banker who sold everything and bid the life she knew goodbye in favor of adventuring around the world! It was awesome to finally meet Kristen in Chiang Mai for a big Chang beer after fighting an insane rain storm.

CANDICE DOES THE WORLD
Candice Walsh is a Professional Experience Collector and full-time inventor of new job titles that don’t make much sense. After reading her blog forever, a group of us met to take on Canada on a crazy road trip from her hometown in Newfoundland. [icon type=”suitcase”][/column]

GETTING STAMPED
Hannah & Adam  an American couple who decided the normal life was just too normal. They packed into a backpack to travel the globe. We all have hung out on multiple occasions in TBEX and Thailand and doing battle together during Songkran in Thailand!

LAND LOPERS
Matt is a typical Gen-X professional who has a passion for all things travel and his site brings a unique perspective. He’s an intelligent writer whom I’ve met at TBEX and had the pleasure of slamming beers back with.

LEAH TRAVELS
With a severe case of wanderlust, Leah lives by the motto, “Life’s too short to live with a someday mentality.” She’s a southern gal with a killer smile and a fun luxury blog. I ran into her finally at TBEX and all I can say is she’s awesome.

NOMADIC SAMUEL
Look for the man with the red hair and a camera in hand. A travel blogger and YouTuber who has been globe-trotting for almost a decade. I have yet to meet him, but his photos are phenomenal and he is always creating new travel videos.

KEEP CALM AND TRAVEL
Clelia is a feisty Italian blogger and traveler with a big focus on Sardinia. She wants to show you that no matter what your age is, or your budget, or your status — you can travel and live your life on your own terms.[/column]

STOP HAVING A BORING LIFE
An account of his life after he liquidated everything to travel the world indefinitely and find a new home in his favorite places on earth. Rob is a cool cat who I was able to run into while attending TBEX, and is always posting great travel content. [icon type=”smile-o”][/column]

THAT BACKPACKER
Audrey is the girl who wants more stamps on her passport. She’s slowly but surely working her way around the world, usually in search of markets, street food, jungles and beaches. Her articles are in depth and extensive, and photos are great![/column]

THE HOLIDAZE
A hopeless travel addict and permanent nomad, Derek quit his IT job to travel the world way back in March of 2009. Derek is an awesome guy and great blogger who I have traveled with in the past, and completed the Rickshaw Run April 2015!

WILD JUNKET
Nellie is a professional travel writer and editor with an eye for adventure and a love for the unknown. Her travel blog has a focus on adventure travel, created to inspire others to get off the conventional trail and seek out extraordinary experiences.

ANGLO ITALIAN FOLLOW US
Dale and Franca are an Angloitalian couple who’ve travelled the world since 2012. Follow them as they travel the world and share everything we experience and learn about slow & budget travel along the way, with a huge focus on vegan travel and housesitting.

REGULAR READS

Lola’s Travels — Hoping to push her exploration to new limits and go places she hasn’t been before. All with a feather boa!

Mallory On Travel — Modern day adventurist and ex-adrenalin junkie. Now getting kicks from culture and cocktails.

Mellyboo Project — Melissa is a Canadian gal with a mission to live on her own terms and exploring every last inch of the world.

Never-Ending Footsteps — Lauren is a twenty-something girl who is travelling around the world forever using Never Ending Footsteps to write about how not to travel.

Nomadic American — Heather, a twenty-something Marylander, is traveling her way around China while teaching English.

Off the Path Travel Story — Alex is a traveler who believes in the value of going off the path while contributing to local economies & engaging in responsible tourism.

Pack Your Passport — Beverly has been living, working, and traveling round the world since 2010! Showing you how to, just don’t forget to pack your passport!

Reclaiming My Future — Toni is learning how to change her life & become happy through travel. In taking her journey, she hopes to inspire you to take yours.

Rexy Adventures — Rexy tells you his Edventures on his travels round the world and backpacking in Britain.

Spark Punk — Zak’s first foray into human flight was at age of six. He fell like a rock, but his head remained in the clouds. He’s been brainstorming since.

Tribologist — Jim has lived in South Korea for 2 year, and traveled extensively throughout the world, providing you tips so you can too!

Wanderista — Ex-beauty/fashion editor who left her job and life in New York to travel the world: 11 months, 20 countries, zero regrets. So far.

Where in the World is Nina — Nina Ragusa is a girl from Florida who always knew she wanted to see the world growing up. Now, she lives the epitome of a nomadic expat lifestyle, having visited 35+ countries.

Yomadic — After flipping a coin for a corporate lifestyle or life of travel, Nate is using every cent to travel the planet in it’s entirety, giving you the raw experience.

YTravel Blog — Caz, Craig, and family are all about helping YOU to get inspired and get informed to go travel, and travel more often.[/column]

Psst!

Still need a nudge (or shove) in the right direction on how to start traveling? Make sure to check out my guide to 5 Simple Steps to Become a World Traveler.

What are some of your favorite travel blogs? Have a blog, share below and let’s swap!

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market: Sights, Sounds, and Smells.

Everything sizzles and pops around you. Steam floats into the night sky like aromatic clouds carrying scrumptious smells of marvelous treats like various meats, or grilled vegetables, or spicy soups — all to the song from a lute; cracked leather-like fingers pluck the instrument, that long necked worn cherry-colored lute called the sueng, releasing a melody of ting-tang-tong-tang-ting to add sweet soundtracks amongst the chitter-chatter of the throngs.

Here and there and everywhere  is food porn galore. From spicy papaya salad to buttered garlic bread, pork balls and chicken balls (not testes) to kababs with zesty yogurt — everything your tantalized taste buds can salivate over.

Needle and thread dive in and out of colorful fabrics with a delicate urgency under soft yellow light as young and old create intricate gifts before your eyes. Maybe you’re looking for a poncho, or a scarf, or a hat — whatever it may be, it can be found as far as the eye can see.

This is the Sunday walking street market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Once you enter Ratchadamnoen Road; near Thapae Gate cutting through the center of Old Town, you are lost in the ebb and flow of the Thai and tourist slow moving river. And there is almost no turning back — though you probably won’t want to anyway.

Do what I call the Chiang Mai Market Shuffle: right foot slides forward two inches, left foot slides forward two inches, rock your body one way to glance at trinkets, rock the other way to fiend over drool-worthy food, and repeat. It’s packed in the market so you’ll have to do a little shuffle.

The Chiang Mai night market is a place bursting with people, but this river of buying and selling is a treasure trove of Thai and exotic street food and hand-made arts and crafts.  Much of it that is rarely found cheaper or of better quality than here. There is a reason why even Thai people fight the current of bodies to shop here.

Photo of crowds in the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market in Thailand.

chiang-mai-sunday-night-walking-street-crowd

musician-in-chiang-mai-walking-street

eggs-in-chiang-mai-sunday-walking-street

woman-cooking-in-chiang-mai-sunday-night-walking-street

lady-making-pork-balls-chiang-mai-sunday-walking-street

thai-woman-cooking-pork-balls

Eggs-vegetables-chiang-mai-walking-street

souvenirs-in-chiang-mai-walking-street

making-papaya-salad-chiang-mai-night-market

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Thai curry Chiang Mai Night Market

Police officer playing guitar Chiang Mai Night Market

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The Chiang Mai Sunday night walking street is definitely a busy place, but one of my favorite things in the city to do each weekend.

HOW TO GET THERE

The Sunday night walking street market is located directly across the from the Thapae gate on the eastern side of Chiang Mai, the entry into the old town. The stands begin to pop up in late afternoon and around dusk, and begins to get overly packed around 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

WHAT TO BRING

Make sure to come on an empty stomach and with smaller bills — many of the vendors cannot break 500 baht and 1000 baht notes. You will also be walking for quite a bit so wear comfortable shoes. Since the market is teeming with people, bring a back that has secure zippers and straps so you can keep your belongings safe.

WHERE TO STAY

Since the walking street market is in the heart of old town, most of the available hostels in hotels are close by and within walking distance. During peak season, Chiang Mai accommodation can fill up fast so make sure to book your hotel or hostel a few days in advance.

Have you ever been to the Chiang Mai Night Market? 

 

Nightcrawler: Finding Melbourne’s Best Street Art After Dark

Melbourne, a city famous for its street art and graffiti scene, is a fascinating and bustling city by day dripping with fresh coats of spray paint. But I deciding to get a different perspective altogether by exploring Melbourne street art by night. The city seemed to transform when the sun set, in a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde way. In no means bad, but personalities, artworks, people, and senses are all amplified in the neon lights of alleyways. It was as if the street art itself came to life after the city fell asleep.

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