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.