Holiday gift giving is never easy. Of course it's the thought that counts, but you also don't want your gift to be a flop. Wouldn't you rather have your gift stand out and inspire the one receiving the gift?
If you're looking for holiday gift ideas for the traveler in your life and want to give something a little more meaningful? Or you might want to even treat yourself. Don't you deserve it?
Here are Travel With Meaning's top six holiday gift ideas. "In no particular order."
1. Kind Traveler - The fist ever socially conscious give + get hotel booking platform.
Here's why we love Kind Traveler as a holiday gift. You want to go away over the holidays or even give a getaway as a gift with nothing booked as of yet. You'll jump online to any travel site to book a few days in Mexico , Costa Rica, New York or Hawaii, all seem like great choices to us. If you book with Kind Traveler you can choose those destinations plus fifteen other locations. The best part is exclusive hotel offers are unlocked with a $10 nightly donation to a local charity that positively impacts the neighborhood you are traveling to, or to a favorite charity on the platform. Giving back and traveling is win=win for the holidays. Click here to learn more.
2. Lokal Travel - Curated local guided experiences.
Lokal travel offers unique experiences in over eighteen countries with local guides. Learn about culture, cooking, nature and sustainability from guides who have spent their lives living off the land. The team at Lokal has put together The Ultimate Sustainable Travel Sale for the holidays. There are great experiences and travel adventures being offered at 50% off. Click here to learn more.
3. d.light - Solar Lanterns
If you saw the video I posted from our Remarkable Experience in Joshua Tree you'll remember these awesome d.light solar lanterns as they illuminated our campsite. As for a holiday gift idea I am a BIG fan of this product for two reason: 1) It's a solid gift for the outdoor enthuisit in your life 2) With all of the terrible nature disasters we've witness this year having solar lanterns for your family safety is not a bad idea. These lanterns are truly awesome! Click here to learn more.
- Full transparency d.light sponsored our Joshua Tree experience and gifted us the lights. Us our code to get a discount on Amazon code JGALFZ7Q
4. Nomadlik - Get Outside and Explore
The outdoor subscription box that gets you excited to get outside! Each month you or the lucky gift recepiant will get a new box with speciality curated unique adventure gear items. Nomadlik provides gear, tools, fuel, knowledge and inspiration to get you in nature! Perfect gift that creates outdoor excitement every time a box arrives! Click here to learn more.
5. Travel With Meaning - personalized luggage tag - just launched
Beincrusoe.world/shopg part of the Travel With Meaning community is being part of a like-minded group of conscious travelers present to the magic of the adventure. Your personalized engraved luggage tag is a good reminder to smile and enjoy the journey. The luggage tag helps when identifying your bag at the airport, which is always welcomed to ease the experience. Click here to learn more.
6. Crusoe World - Passport Wallet
The one thing every traveler needs? A passport. Have no fear, Crusoe World has created a gorgeous pocket size stylish passport wallet to inspire any journey. Click here to learn more.
I hope these gift ideas were helpful and no matter what you get or give this holiday season may it be filled with love.
See you on the open road,
I was taking Selfies way before there was a name for it. When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s disposable cameras were cool, or at least I thought they were. Every Bar Mitzvah or wedding I attended had disposable cameras for guests to use. I would go around to all the tables and take pictures of myself.
My friend’s mom called to say that they developed the pictures from her kid’s Bar Mitzvah and there were a quite a few pictures of Mikey’s face. (Everyone called me Mikey.) There probably were between twenty to fifty pictures of me developed. I think my mom thought it was funny the first time.
By the third or fourth time a friend’s mom called, I was told to knock it off. So, for my Bar Mitzvah I got my own camera. I casually carried on my hobby of taking pictures of myself with nowhere to display them. I would get my travel pictures developed, and the majority of the images were of my face. Of course, now everyone is taking a “Selfie.”
Side note: Waiting to get pictures to be developed from a trip was such a curious process of wondering how they would turn out. Guess we don’t need to worry about that anymore. #nostalgic
The first official time I can remember traveling and rebuffing anyone offering to take a picture of me, was my first trip to Europe, right after high school in 1994. I would turn the camera around a take a shot of myself. Here are a few Selfies from that trip; in France with the Notre Dame Cathedral behind me in Paris, in Italy overlooking a street in Florence and in a club in London.
That first trip to Europe changed my life. I was excited to travel, do more and see the world. A few years after my first trip overseas I went back to London to study for a semester and traveled extensively. This is where I let my selfies run wild. I took hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of myself all over Europe and Egypt. When I returned home from that epic travel adventure, I once again developed all my pictures, it was 1997 and there was still nowhere to upload the images.
I didn't think much about the pictures or Selfies and went off to finish my junior and senior year at a new college, in a new city (Emerson College, Boston, MA). Traveling played a pivotal role in deciding to transfer colleges and move to a new city. I felt alive and inspired. I wanted to keep having new adventures.
When I returned home from college, I found something hanging on wall in my room. My mom, who has always been my biggest "Selfie" fan made this incredible collage shrine of some of my pictures taken while studying and traveling abroad.
Mom included "Selfie" pictures of us when she came to visit me in London and we went to Scotland for a weekend. Side note: I almost crashed into a Scottish police car learning how to drive stick shift. Mom didn't let me drive after that and I still don’t drive stick shift. That story for another day.
Check out how awesome this "Selfie" collage is! The collage has "Selfies" with my buddies Gabe and Brian, as well as two very nice random people I met along the way, one from Austria the other from Germany. Oh, make sure you look at the detail around the edges, Mom used other images from my travels as the border. She killed it!
Even when I got in trouble for taking pictures of myself at Bar Mitzvahs my mom would secretly tell me how much she loved my "Selfie" pictures. To this day, if I'm with my mom and we see someone taking a "Selfie" she looks at me and states, "YOU invented that."
I looked online to see who got credit for coining the term "Selfie." That honor was given to Nathan Hope. In 2002 he used the word “Selfie” for the first time in a publication or electronic medium.
"Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a Selfie. (1)
A drunk Aussie gets the credit for inventing the “Seflie” for posting a picture of his busted lip ? That's hilarious! The word “Selfie” was officially entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. (2)
So maybe the dictionary doesn't recognize me as the inventor of the word "Selfie" or even as the one who coined the term "Seflie", but my mom thinks I did. Which is way cooler and meaningful than any dictionary entry.
Besides, I do think we have an argument for being the first mother and son "Selfie" collage posted on a wall.
See you on the open road.
By Michael Schibel, Founder of Travel With Meaning
You can find Wi-Fi almost anywhere in the world. I met a man while traveling who had never seen, sent or received an email, lucky him.
I’ve personally found service in off-the-beaten-track restaurants, coffee shops, and random taverns in third world countries. Sure, it's trendy these days to unplug from Wi-Fi, but let’s face it, that’s because so many of us are constantly online and addicted. It’s rare to find anyone in a first-world country who has a job, earns a living that has never seen, sent or received an email. Then, I found him, Dingo Dave.
In 2010, I visited Fraser Island off Australia’s Eastern Queensland Coast. Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island 120km (75 miles), a stunning, magical environment. A wondrous place to take in the serenity of nature, go for long walks, and unplug. There was no Wi-Fi on Fraser Island.
As part of my excursion I signed up for a two-day guided tour to have the full experience and knowledge of the island. This is where I met our tour guide who called himself, Dingo Dave. Dave was a true rugged Aussie bushman in his mid-to-late forties. He had a kooky personality and genuine smile. Dave was a vast treasure of knowledge of the island. Sure, he could have made up some of the details he was sharing, but he was so convincing it was hard not to believe him! In between his island knowledge, funny stories, and crazy off-roading skills, he also shared a few made-up raps. It was clear he loved what he did for a living. His passion for the environment and enthusiasm to encourage people to slow down, look around and appreciate the lessons we can learn from nature was better than any National Geographic program I had ever seen. He wanted us all to be present to the magic and beauty that was in front of us.
Dave is hands down one of the most memorable people I have ever met on my travels. Dave was also an email virgin. He told me he had never seen, sent or received an email in his life. I was floored by this revelation! I wanted to be that person to introduce Dave to the world of email. I also saw it as a monumental opportunity to bring Dave into the 21st century.
As I dove deeper into his background he shared with me that he had been a tour guide on Fraser Island for over twenty years. On our tour, we stopped for lunch at a local resort where Dave and I found one of the only working computers on the island. It was an older computer with a dial up modem, but I was able pull up my email and show Dave my inbox.
The anticipation and excitement on Dave’s face as the email uploaded was hilarious. He did seem a little uncertain about the entire thing, but played along in the typical Dingo Dave fashion. This was uncharted waters for him and something I will probably never experience again. When my emails finally started rolling in he seemed overwhelmed and amused by it all. He was cracking jokes and playing off the entire experience.
Though in some odd way, I thought I was doing Dave a huge service by introducing him to the connected world through email. In my mind, I wanted Dave to embrace what I was gifting him. I really thought I was doing him a favor to help expand his online presence and elevate his business.
I wanted Dave to be excited to start using email and social media as a way to stay connected with former guests. I told him with minimal online interaction he could share his tours and stories with people all over the world. I even gave him some basic tips as I had done with many clients in the past. I was use to clients eating up any social advice I could offer to help grow their business and elevate online reach. Dave listened to what I shared, but did not seem one way or another to have interest to implement any my suggestions.
The truth is, looking back at this experience it was Dave’s way of life I wish I had embraced more. He didn’t have to unplug since he never plugged in. He never had to go through his inbox or have a care what was being said on Facebook. Things a lot of us wish we could turn off and life could be simpler. Dave was extremely happy giving tours on Fraser Island, sharing stories of his home and meeting people from all over the world. Sounds like a life some of us would LOVE to have today.
Not sure what happened to Dingo Dave after I left Fraser Island as I never got his email. I wonder if he ever decided to tap in to the internet, get an iPhone or even use social media. Does he send emoji’s to friends? Is he addicted to social media now like the most of us? Or did he laugh off the experience of seeing my email inbox and has never gone back online again. I doubt he still doesn’t have email, but maybe. Part of me hopes he never did.
Meeting someone today who has never seen, sent or received an email is as crazy as saying you’ve seen Big Foot or even a Unicorn…I found a unicorn that day on Fraser Island.
- Click here to see the video of Dave seeing email for the first time
A funny thing happened to me as I was finishing this blog. I was looking to find a way to be able to show what my takeaway was from Dave. How did this man’s happiness and contentment of not being so depended on email/social relate to all of us. Then something happened to me. My iphone died on a Friday afternoon. It literally just turned off and was frozen. I tried everything from resetting the phone to call Applecare, who’s system was down and was unable to support with my phone issue. I was able to get an appointment at the Apple store, but not until late in the afternoon the following day. Now having my phone die and not being able to get it work for a full twenty-four hours normally would have driven me crazy. I would have been annoyed, frustrated and pissed off. I wasn’t. I just rolled with it. Instead of getting up first thing Saturday and waiting outside the apple store to be seen, which I have done in the past, I took my dog for a long walk and then went to yoga before heading to the Apple store to deal with my phone.
It didn’t hit me until I was looking over this story while waiting at the Apple store how at ease and good I felt for the past twenty-four hours without my phone. I didn’t miss any important calls, texts or social media updates that would change the course of my life forever. Everything was ok.
Technology is a wonderful gift that allows us to connect with people all over the world, but it also creates a false sense of dependency on what we deem important.
I learned from my forced digital detox it’s necessary to unplug at least once a week. We may want to all embrace ways to separate from our phones for a few hours a week. Perhaps consider putting your phone in the other room when you sleep on the weekends or not checking social media an hour before bed.
I’m working on releasing the need to check social repeatedly and limit the time I spend not being present of what is in front of me. Being present to the awesomeness of the day and your surroundings is how Dingo Dave lived his life. I really want to email Dave and say thank you.
This is a #TravelWithMeaning tale from our friend Tiny Warrior Travels.
As an 18 year old girl I decided on a whim to go explore Venezuela for a summer. Why Venezuela out of all places? Well in my adventurous 18 year old brain it made total sense; I knew nothing about the country, no one that was from there or who had even been there for that matter and my spanish vocabulary was limited to a grand total of 3 words (gracias, por favor, cerveza). Within two weeks my bag was packed and I was off on my big adventure, which in hindsight, I didn’t really prepare for. My preparation consisted of purchasing a plane ticket, arranging a host family stay, signing up for 3 weeks of spanish lessons and picking up a lonely planet guide book.
I took off from Montreal at around 6pm with the first layover being 6 hours in Toronto. It was then that I decided it was a good time to start doing some research on the mysterious land of jaguars, boa constrictors, Hugo Chavez and arepas. As I began reading my previously virgin lonely planet I quickly realized that Puerto La Cruz, the town in which I had arranged for my host family stay was quite a ways away from Caracas, the capital and where my plane was dropping me off. Although slightly alarmed I remained calm. I figured I would just take a taxi from the aiport to the bus stop where I could hop on a 5 hour bus to get there. I was getting into Caracas early the next morning and would have plenty of time to figure it out. Simple enough right?! WRONG!
As I continued with my reading I learned that Caracas was one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America and I was naively surprised to learn that the taxi drivers could pose some of the greatest threats to a foreigner (especially for those who had limited knowledge of the Espanol). This is when thoughts like “what the fuck were you thinking Ammy”, “you should have listened to your mom”, “I’m sure I’m going to get robbed, stabbed/shot, and tossed in ditch” and “My poor parents will be devastated when they find out what happened to me” started going through my head. I headed for the payphones to call my best friend and told her everything I had just discovered. I ended the conversation with DO NOT TELL MY MOTHER as she aggressively tried to dissuade me from going on the trip.
Anyway as I hung up the phone, I noticed a man struggling to make a call. Naturally I offered him my phone card and a helping hand. As luck would have it, the man was Venezuelan and on my flight. Despite his very limited English and my extremely poor Spanish we somehow made arrangements to meet once we had collected our bags in Caracas. I was 75% sure he promised to help me find a safe cab that would take me to the correct bus stop 30 kilometers into town. I spent the rest of the layover, the next flight to trinidad, the layover in there and the following flight to caracas familiarizing myself as much as possible with the country in which I was sure to meet a certain death!
As promised my new friend, lets call him “Jesus” as his name escapes me now and he was really my savior, was waiting for me with his wife at the airport exit. I asked them to hold on a moment so I can exchange some dollars for Bolivares because naturally I did not think to do so before leaving Canada. Upon my return “Jesus” informed me that he and his wife would gladly drive me to the bus stop! HOLY SHIT universe! Thank you!
The ride into the chaos that is Caracas was surreal. It was unlike anywhere I had ever seen before. Don’t get me wrong I was already a seasoned traveller at this point but my travels were limited to more “developed” parts of the world. During the drive what struck me the most where the hundreds of slums or barrios that speckled the cities surrounding mountains. I mean sure I knew that I was in a developing nation but people actually live in those dingy, tiny, flimsy structures and call it home. HOW!? Where am I?!
After about a 45 minutes we reached the bus stop. I was reluctant to get out if the safety of Jesus’s car. I hugged both of them so hard and thanked them for being so kind. Once inside the bus stop my lack of Spanish proved to be a real obstacle. Doing something as simple as buying a bus ticket was a huge challenge. Finally after some back and forth I had a ticket in hand. It read Puerto La Cruz 2:45pm. It was 11am and I had some time to kill. Although I was famished,I did not dare leave the “safety” of the bus stop for fear of getting lost, robbed and killed...ok I’m exaggerating a little maybe!
I sat directly in front of the supposed departure point and waited patiently as I people watched. 2 O’clock rolled around not much was happening. 2:15 nothing. 2:30 still no sign of movement. I started to panic. Maybe I’m not in the right place? They are going to leave with out me? I’m going to be stuck at the bus stop overnight! FUCK! I went up to the ticket counter and pointed to the time on my ticket. They said something to me in Spanish or gibbersish I’m not sure. So there we were going back and forth for a good 5 minutes. I could feel myself get increasingly frustrated/mad/defeated. I felt the moisture start to build up around my eyes. Suddenly, just as I was about to give up all hope a man, a doctor I soon found out, showed up in perfect English said: “It looks like you need some help”. Praise the lord Jesus Christ! After a moment of explaining my situation and him speaking with the gibberish speakers he explained to me that due to a heavy rainfall the previous day, the route my bus was suppose to take was shut down. He then explained that the new route will take 10 hours instead of 5 and that the bus only leaves at 5:45pm. I was to tired to fight anything and quickly surrender to the reality of the situation.
He then asked me if I needed anything else. As if I had instantly reverted back to being a chils I simply responded “I’M HUNGRY”. He assured me that Venezuela did indeed have food and good food for that matter. He proceeded to get my bag checked so I didn’t have to drag it around and off we were in search of a decent meal. At the restaurant the doctor translated the menu and placed my order. He then informed me that he had to run and catch his bus. I gave him a big squeeze and thanked him for saving my life.
With a full belly and little buzz on, see my limited vocabulary did come in handy, I returned to the bus stop feeling ready for anything. Upon my return I caught glimpse of someone that was just as out of place as I was with his blond hair, freckles and backpack. James informed me he was headed to and he said Puerto La Cruz as well to meet up with his lady friend who had just finished up a spanish course. I was so happy to have found a travel buddy. I mentioned that we should split a cab when we arrived to town. He agreed and he opened up his passport to get the address of where his girlfriend was staying. This was when things got weird! As he opened his passport I noticed we had the same birthday and the address he was headed to was MY host family’s house! I was going to take his girlfriend’s spot at the house.
The next few hours were spent doing what most do when they encounter one another on the road and which is heart to heart conversation minus the bullshit!
Finally it was time to board the bus. It is worth mentioning here that it was hot and humid in Caracas and I was dress accordingly. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that the buses in Venezuela are literally just as cold as a sunny Canadian winter day. The next 10 hours consisted of me drifting into sleep only to be woken up from the subarctic conditions onboard. I may or may not have cried...Finally At 3:30 am we reached our destination and were only a cab ride away from a warm bed and sweet sweet sleep. YES! NO! There were no taxi’s at the bus stop at that hour. We watched as everyone else who arrived with us got scooped up by loved ones. We were left on the sidelines like children that no one wanted. Once everyone was gone there was a single man remaining in front of a beat-up car and a deep abyss in place of a back left taillight. This senor claimed to be a taxi driver. James quickly informed me that there was no way he was getting in his car and just as quickly I shot back that he had no choice and we were going. At this point the only thing I was concerned about was SLEEP. After a momentary disagreement we were on our way. Senor pulled out a floodlight from his car and shone them on the street signs as we navigated the dark and deserted streets. After what seemed like an eternity we pulled up to a little green house.
Theresa and her husband came outside to greet us. I am positive that the hug I gave them conveyed all the ups and downs I had experienced over the previous 30+ hours
I was in dreamland within minutes. Upon awaking the reality of where I was and the obstacles that I had overcome and those that are yet to come set in. A sense of fear, excitement and empowerment took over and I felt ready to take on the day and make the unknown know!
I love being in the Ocean; surfing, swimming and recharging from the salt water. So naturally finding a job that paid me to be in the ocean and surf all day would be a dream job. I am confident I will not be joining the WSL pro surfing tour anytime soon, the next best option was getting hired by one of the leading innovative Virtual Reality companies Specular Theory. The team at Specular brought me on board to run the point and project manage their VR surf project.
The idea for the campaign was to capture different surf styles (longboard, tandem, shredder, female surfer) from iconic spots in Southern California. I was out in the water almost every day using the specially developed 360 camera gear. I connected with local surfers in Malibu and Venice to get the different style of surfers for the project.
This was an absolute awesome gig! We were getting some great footage in Malibu that was insane to watch through VR goggles, but we still needed that home run footage. I had read an article about Taylor Steele working on a VR barrel project with some pro's in Tahiti. I told Specular CEO Morris May we needed a barrel shot for this project. He agreed and we were on it!
Just after sunrise we connected with the rest of our team just down the beach from Pascules. I went over the gear and remote functions with our surfer. The waves were 8-10+ with solid barrels. I jumped on the back of one jet ski with our surfer and driver on the other ski. This was something I always wanted to do....it was AWESOME!!
We had never had the gear in this heavy of surf and took extra measures to secure everything. After every wave I'd check in with the other ski and surfer to make sure the gear was all intact.
This was a great way to push myself in new areas. I knew I could figure out what needed to get done. I will say that fixing the gear on the side of the road in Mexico was a huge personal tech repair moment for me. Big pat on the back to me. : )
Over the two days of surfing and shooting in Mexico we got unreal 360 barrel footage. Unfortunately, the only way to really have the full experience is with VR headset. However, check out this link to some of the behind the scenes footage from the campaign with sick inside the barrel action shots. VR Surf Footage
My surfing definitely improved over the month and a half on this project. Though my only surf regret was I didn't pull off getting barreled in Mexico. I never got the hang of the step off and got pounded a few times. Morris on the other hand nailed his second wave with a perfect barrel that ended up closing on him breaking the board he was ridding, which happened to be the brand new board of our guide. Morris of course felt bad about the broken board and paid for the damage. He was totally ok from the wipe out and had a rad surf story to tell from this project.
Thanks Specular for having me on this project and paying me to surf! I have to say a huge THANK YOU all of the surfers who paddled out with me and tried the camera gear. I got to surf with great surfers and meet incredible people. Grateful for the support!
Over beers the last night in Mexico Morris told me I killed it for them on the project. I not only pulled off a huge tech victory for myself, but we got AMAZING footage and my boss was happy. WINNING!
The 360 VR surf segment I produced with Specular Theory ended up Winning Best Live Action Sport Experience at CES 2016 VR Fest...now that's double WINNING!!!
On to the next adventure!
The Grand Canyon has always been on my bucket list and neither my fiance (Nicole) or I had ever been. We headed to Arizona for my nephews high school graduation and decided to make it a Travel With Meaning adventure to the Grand Canyon….oh, we took our adorable and hilarious dog Barbara along. Enjoy our adventure!
What's on your bucket list? It's a common question people ask as they begin to look at their lives and want to make sure they can feel that they've accomplished something by checking it off their list. What's on your travel bucket however, isn't so much about going somewhere to cross it off a list, it's more about the experience and adventure.
One of my favorite questions to ask is where in the world would you want to go? I've heard people say they wanted to: dive in the Great Barrier Reef, run with the bulls, climb to the Mount Everest base camp, walk the Great Wall of China or at least part of it, sail down the Nile, visit the top of the Eiffel Tower, ski the Swiss Alps.
There's a fantastic article in Fast Company by Jay Cassano that scientifically supports why a bucket list should be about experiences and not just things. Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University says " Our experinces are bigger part of ourselves than our material goods." He also adds "You can even think part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain seperate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." Wonder what experience is on his bucket list?
As for myself, I want to trek the Great Inca Trail in Peru and visit Machu Picchu, followed by a week in the jungle with a shaman and just to round it off a few days surfing Chicama, one of the longest waves in the world. All and all an epic adventure to Peru is in the making very soon!
So if the travel bucket list is all about doing, then get busy living!
Please share your travel adventures with us by using #Travelwithmeanjng
If you have a travel blog you would like us to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org
See you on the open road!
I’d been working as a talent manager for just over four years and as a talent agent for a few years prior. I was driven and focused on helping build my clients’ careers to elevate them professionally and all of us financially. I had gone through a divorce three years earlier, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I hadn’t taken great care of myself. I was frustrated, out of shape and trying to find happiness in helping others gain success. Loosing two of my more promising clients in consecutive months, who also happened to be close friends, was the breaking point for me. After a good cry I did the only thing I could think of to regain my identity: I sold the majority of my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to Australia.
Landing in Melbourne I was thrilled. I did it! After my jet lag wore off I was left with now what. I wandered around the streets for a few days just enjoying not having a plan, schedule or knowing anyone. Not having a plan and schedule was somewhat challenging for me. This is where I had the opportunity to step into my own journey. I launched a website called My Grateful Journey, prior to leaving on my trip, as a way to let friends and family follow my journey through my blogs and vlogs.
The first two weeks in Melbourne were more difficult than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast exploring the city and even hired a car with a new friend to road trip up the coast to see the Twelve Apostles. My new friend was British so I assumed she would drive. Unfortunately, she did not have a license so I jumped at the chance to learn how to drive on the other side. The road trip getaway was great for me to get outside of the city and start to see some of the country. Where to next?
I had a blank canvas in front of me and could go in any direction. I knew I wanted to end up on the east coast somewhere enjoying the beaches and taking in New Years in Sydney. My plan was to maximize sites like Couch surfing as much as possible to save money and meet people. I had three potential directions to head from Melbourne, but had no luck finding any Couch surfers to take me in. It’s like getting a job when you’ve never had one before. I needed a reference so people knew I was an ok person to have stay over. I went to a few Couch surfing meet up events in Melbourne and in no time had new CS friends vouching for me. I was able to line up several spots over the next several weeks down the east coast, but was still looking for somewhere to go from Melbourne. I met an awesome Spanish girl at my hostel in Melbourne who told me she was flying to Darwin the next day to stay with a couch surfer. She invited me to join. I was off to Darwin in the Northern Territory and My Grateful Journey was on to the next chapter.
While I was in Melbourne I wandered into a spiritual bookshop. I’m not sure if it was really a spiritual shop, but from what I remembered I came away with something beyond magical. The shop owner was very sweet as I talked her ear off about not knowing my next move on my journey. She blindly reached into the bookshelf and pulled out a book saying, “You Should Read This.” The book was called “The Magician’s Way” and was written by a man named William Whitecloud. The book had an impact on me mainly because one of the promising clients I parted with was a magician. It seemed to hit very close to home at a time in my life when I was looking for any sign.
The book turned out to be an early guide and friend on my travels. This transformational journey of one man learning how to use seven secrets of magic to better his life resonated with me and gave me comfort for the first few months. I ended up getting to meet William Whitecloud when I was in Byron Bay. He introduced me to wonderful people in Australia who took great care of me. As there are no random occurrences in life, William and I are still close. He and his family moved to Santa Monica and I see him regularly.
Back to the adventure; after spending close to three weeks in Cairns I got certified as a scuba diver in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef , and partied every day I wasn’t diving. I was also trying to figure out where to go next. I knew I needed to figure out my transportation issue. I didn’t want to have to always take the bus, find a ride share or hitch hike, which I did more than ever in my life.
I flew from Cairns at the top of the east coast to Brisbane. I had been invited to stay with a couple originally from Chicago by a cousin of mine. Kathy and Jim became my Australian parents and took amazing care of me. After filling up on home cooked meals and great conversations I was ready to move on.
I had looked into buying a car to travel down the East Coast, but didn’t think that would be my best financial option. I called several car rental places that all wanted between sixty-five and eighty-five dollars a day for a car. This was doable, but I wanted to find a better financial option in order to save more cash for my travels. I started reaching out to different car rental companies and talking to their marketing directors on the phone. I offered to do blogs and vlogs on my experience traveling down the east coast if they gave me a better rate on a rental. I was able to secure a station wagon plus camping gear for ten dollars a day for thirty days. I was super excited to start the next chapter of my adventure. Here’s the first video I shot.
When I look back at the pivotal moment of my travels, it was the day I got the wagon and rolled out of Brisbane. The month I spent traveling down the east coast in my station wagon was one of the best experiences of my life. That car became a much-needed vehicle to re-energize me on my travels. The wagon became a safe space for me, an open ticket to go anywhere and a way to meet people. The car gave me confidence.
Even though I had camping gear that I did use, I slept in the car a half dozen times. There’s something very liberating about sleeping in your car next to the beach in a foreign country. I did six short blogs/vlogs for the car company over the course of my trip and one final compilation video of the month. This video always makes me smile and makes me think of this awesome chapter on my journey.
After my month traveling down the coast I got to Sydney. As I mentioned earlier, William Whitecloud introduced me to great people, and one of them happened to live in the North Beaches outside Sydney. She let me couch surf with her for a few days. Not having the car was a great adjustment. As luck would have it, a friend from the States introduced me to someone who lives in Bondi Beach and needed someone to watch their apartment and dog for two weeks over Christmas. Score! I now had a killer apartment four blocks from the beach in Bondi. I was so stoked! Living at the apartment for two weeks made me feel settled. The car was a great escape and security blanket, but the apartment allowed me to feel normal and not so much of a nomad. I went to the local grocery store, corner coffee shop and even got to go on a few dates. This was much different from hostel life. The two weeks went fast, and before I headed up the coast to have a few more adventures before starting the next chapter in New Zealand, I got to enjoy the New Years fireworks in Sydney harbor with friends. The fireworks show was incredible and something everyone should have a chance to witness.
My last Australian adventure turned out to be one of the best. I headed out for a three-day trip with The Adventure Crew from Brisbane, or at least that’s what I called them. This was a group of great guys I met when I passed through town the first time: good hearts and a huge appetite for adventure. The goal was to kayak to the top of Bribie Island and walk the thirty kilometers (eighteen miles) to the town at the bottom of the island and get a ride back. We planned to take limited food and fish for meals. I probably should have bought more groceries and assumed we would be ok. In early 2011 Brisbane and Queensland were hit with some of the worst rains and flooding they had seen in years. We started our trip in a lull between storms. The lull quickly faded as the storms pounded down for days. Our three-day trip was cut short after a day and a half. We ended up walking the entire thirty kilometers in the short amount of time. By the time we got to the pub at the end of the Island we were so excited to grab food and a beer. I learned a lot from the Adventure Crew during our My last Australian adventure turned out to be one of the best. I headed out for a three-day trip with The Adventure Crew from Brisbane, or at least that’s what I called them. This was a group of great guys I met when I passed through town the first time: good hearts and a huge appetite for adventure. The goal was to kayak to the top of Bribie Island and walk the thirty kilometers (eighteen miles) to the town at the bottom of the island and get a ride back. We planned to take limited food and fish for meals. I probably should have bought more groceries and assumed we would be ok. In early 2011 Brisbane and Queensland were hit with some of the worst rains and flooding they had seen in years. We started our trip in a lull between storms. The lull quickly faded as the storms pounded down for days. Our three-day trip was cut short after a day and a half. We ended up walking the entire thirty kilometers in the short amount of time. By the time we got to the pub at the end of the Island we were so excited to grab food and a beer. I learned a lot from the Adventure Crew during our time together. At this point the car rental company, who gave me the wagon for my east coast adventure, loved the video I made. They gave me the money back I had spent on the car and wanted me to do more for them. I made a video for an online series with the Adventure Crew called Adventures With Auto Barn.
When I landed in New Zealand I knew I only had a month to explore. I had to have a flight out of the country before arriving. I decided to plan my trip efficiently and not worry about transportation while I was in New Zealand. I purchased a ticket on a Stray Tour Bus, a hop on-hop off bus that allowed you to stay somewhere as long as you wanted and then get back on the bus. It was what I needed.
The bus was packed, which was a good and bad thing at first. Since I had done much more solo traveling in Australia, I immediately hated the bus and wanted to be alone. Once I got over that feeling and started meeting people, I LOVED being on the Stray bus. The only way to really describe New Zealand is to say AMAZING! It’s one of the most gorgeous places I have ever visited. I was constantly blown away with its beauty and the incredible hospitality of the locals. New Zealand is also home of bungee jumping and any other type of extreme sport you can think of. I had to try a few things to push my adrenaline.
One of the best things that came from my time in New Zealand and my time with Stray was I that met Neil Geddes the GM of Stray at the time. When I say I met him, I really called the Stray HQ and asked for him. When I got him I told him that I stared at a TV on his bus for four hours that day with nothing on it and he was missing a huge opportunity with his customers. He said I don’t know who you are, but I like what you’re saying. Then he asked if I wanted to go to Asia (Thailand and Laos) and ride his new Stray Asia bus and give him some feedback. How could I turn this down! What I did not know at the time was Neil invented the hop on-hop off bus tour concept. We’re still friendly today and have collaborated on a few projects together.
After leaving New Zealand I headed to Bali with a quick stop off in Adelaide, Australia. Bali was my first taste of really being in a foreign country during my travels. At least people in Australia and New Zealand spoke English. The moment you arrive in Bali the energy is electric. One of the reasons I went to Bali, besides to enjoy the amazing beauty and magic of the island, is that my mom’s cousin Sheila lives in Ubud. I even talked my mom into coming to Bali for two weeks to visit Sheila and see me, of course. Not only was I now in a lush magical paradise staying at an incredible house (for free), but my mom, who I hadn’t seen in almost five months, was coming to join part of the adventure. This was so exciting!
I get my sense of adventure and spontaneity from my mom. She has always said when it comes to traveling she is packed and always ready to go in a minute. It was so special to share two weeks with her in Bali. I will admit I was very sad when she left.
As I had been accustom to life on the road, its is always changing, and spending energy on my situation only kept me from embracing my next big adventure. I wiped my tears away and spent a week on the Gili Islands diving, surfing and loving life. Gili’s were paradise and so different from main land Bali. Gili T
After Bali it was off to Thailand to find the best Pad–Thai, which was amazing everywhere! I spent the first week in the south near Phuket where I was going to be doing a live aboard dive trip for a week. I was so pumped and was dreaming of seeing whale sharks, which had been spotted in the area the day before we departed. Unfortunately, the weather turned really bad the night we headed out to sea. Our boat made two attempts to leave the harbor, but the captain turned back both times, as he did not feel it was safe. This was a huge bummer, but I was also grateful our captain had the sense to realize this was not a good move. The storms were terrible and expected to last for over a week. Helicopters from nearby islands were evacuating people. My original plan was to spend the first three weeks in the south of Thailand enjoying islands I’d heard so much about.
I remember sitting in my hotel room deciding where to go next to get out of the rain. I was either going to fly to the north to Chiang Mai or Cambodia and go north from there. Looking over my options I started to laugh. This was the choice I had to make today! I felt very lucky and grateful….and then I bought a plane ticket to Chaing Mai.
Over the course of my travels I was very lucky not have any serious injuries. I did crash two scooters and get really sick once or twice, but no broken bones, stiches or permanent scars. I did however slip off the side of a cliff in northern Thailand and severely sprain my angle. I’ll spare you the picture, but my ankle blew up like a big black and blue balloon minutes after my fall. This also happened two days before Songkran, which made running through the streets of Chaing Mai a little challenging. The ankle injury didn't stop my travels, but slowed me down a bit at times. I decided this was the perfect time to take Neil up on his offer to travel with Stray Asia. I jumped on the bus in Northern Thailand and traveled with Stray to the southern Laos border into Cambodia. Traveling with Stray in Asia really made it easy and enjoyable. I didn't have to worry about what time my bus would arrive or what the street sign said to make sure I was in the right place. I hopped off the bus several times in little towns to stay a few extra days and explore. Before departing on my travels, Laos was not even a place I had given much thought. After about a month of traveling the entire country, I couldn’t have imagined my trip without this adventure. At the end of my Stray Asia trip I made a short video that Neil loved. They ran it on their website and in all the travel shops in Asia and New Zealand. My Laos adventure.
Camdodia was a place I never dreamed of visiting and where I wish I had more time. I spent a few days in San Reap before going to the capital, Phom Penh. There I connected with a friend from LA who had been living in Asia /Cambodia for several years working as a cameraman. It was great to hang with a friend from home and get the
local treatment rolling around on the back of his scooter. I was having a blast in Cambodia and hated to think about leaving. Should I have stayed longer? I was running out of time before my flight to Amsterdam at the end of May. I planned to go to the Netherlands to visit a friend I met while in New Zealand and travel in Europe for a month. I had a plane ticket back to LA at the end of June. People have asked me why I returned when I did and I would tell them that my dad asked me to come home for a family event, which is true, but I also think I was ready. The month I spent in Europe (Netherlands, Italy, Belgium) was awesome, but I was starting to run a little low on money and my ankle was killing me. It was time to go home.
I put together a short video of my travels that was a finalist in a travel film festival last year. I still have thirty hours of footage from my travels that hasn't been edited. When the time is right I will put together something with the over sixty people I interviewed and other amazing experiences I had. Until then enjoy this version of My Grateful Journey
I often think of a little hut where I stayed in northern Thailand. There was a great hammock on the porch, private bathroom and shower, big bed and wifi for only five dollars a day. I don’t think about that place as somewhere to escape to, but instead of how lucky and grateful I am that my journey took me to so many incredible places. I
uprooted my life, sold almost everything I had and bought a one way ticket with no expectations, but a wide open heart for adventure. My Grateful Journey theme has transformed me into the person I am today; connector, digital innovator, open road seeker. I don’t think most people will embark on a trip the way I did, but if I could encourage one person to take a chance to leap, the net will appear. The more you travel, the more you learn, the richer you become.
New Years: The day we get to look back at the year that past and plan for the one to come. We can create a fresh start for the New Year and do our best to stay on that path until we find ourselves back at the New Year looking for resolutions & intentions ahead. New Year celebrations always seem to have an extra hype on them.
I can remember as a little kid asking a baby sitter to wake me up to watch the ball in Times Square drop. My Bar Mitzvah party was on New Year’s Eve and will go down as one of the best parties ever with my family. My millennium New Year’s Eve was spent working at an upscale supper club and will always be one of my more epic nights that lasted a few days into the New Year.
I've had some mellow New Year’s Eves and crazy ones as well. Two of the most impactful New Years celebrations I've had in past four years was watching fireworks over the Harbor Bridge in Sydney. Something about being in this iconic spot to bring in New Years before the rest of the world with incredible fireworks that everyone should experience.
The second is something I hope no one ever experinces. I was driving a truck back to my friends house in New Zealand around two thirty in the morning on the first. My friend had a house that was very remote and down at the end of a long narrow dirt driveway. I was two hundred feet from the house when the truck slide off the road, I got thrown in the air from the driver side (which is the other side from American vehicles). It all happened so fast. The truck was wedged between two trees with another tree holding the truck from falling down a step thirty foot drop to a creek. Part of the dirt driveway had washed away from the large amount of rain for the past week. It was dark when I was driving back and didn't see the washed out road. I was so shaken up and in shock. It wasn't until I walked back the next morning to figure out my plan of action I realized how lucky and grateful I was to be alive. The third tree holding the truck from rolling down the hill saved my life. With help from neighbors we were able to get the truck out and with minor damage.
I'll be bringing in 2015 in Baja this year just like I have the past two years with friends; surfing, dancing, drinking, eating good food, laughing and smiling. Sunset surf sessions with all your friends in Mexico is the perfect way to end and start the year.
With a clean slate on the year ahead, I'm committed to making this be my best year yet for creating what's truly possibly.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year! Onward!