I’m so pleased that on my six month blog-iversary (The Detour Effect was launched in July of 2018), Thousand Mile Boots saw fit to nominate my archive of haphazard travel exploits for the 2019 Liebster Award!
This is special to me for a number of reasons, and the timing couldn’t be more encouraging. Firstly, I have a lot of admiration for Andy at Thousand Mile Boots. I love to hike and camp, but I’m still new at longer treks and rely on other bloggers for tips and tricks when I’m unsure of myself. When I first moved out to California, I read up on her suggestions of cool campsites that don’t require a reservation and was #blessed to find her tips on hiking in hot desert landscapes.
I’m especially inspired that she had the determination and grit to go from backpacking newb to veteran. When I began the transition of trying to turn my internal predisposition to wanting a “free” life into some form of reality, my number one obstacle was the trepidatious voice in my own head saying it’s no fun to not be good at something immediately, that you have to completely master something before it’s ok to show it, and your heart, to other people.
But Andy let herself be a beginner, saw learning as part of the fun, and turned that motivation into a tool to become a badass at something that didn’t come inherently natural to her. This is the kind of vibe I’ve been trying to adopt since I departed on the path less traveled, and is spurring me on to the challenges I have up my sleeve for 2019.
Secondly, this six month mark is coincidentally symbolic. Not only is the blog half a year old, but it’s January, the start of a new year in which I’m charging headfirst into the slow travel lifestyle I’ve been trying to create for myself since I left New York in 2016. I spent that first year hitchhiking around and working seasonal jobs and housing exchanges, but I had no idea what I was doing and a particularly stubborn desire not to plan anything for the first time in my life. I didn’t care where it took me as long as I was having new experiences. So obviously, by the end of the year, I was completely out of money and energy. I needed a reset. I went back to a regular job, wondering if being a weekend warrior could be a good balance between workaholic and hobo. It wasn’t, because my life again showed little reverence to the philosophies that pushed me off the corporate ledge in the first place. Two months ago I quit my music job with the intention of working only travel and tourism-related jobs moving forward, no going back. Positions where I can still work hard and take pride in my contributions, but in settings that allow me to see as much natural beauty and do as much hiking as possible, and introduce me to interesting people and concepts from all over the world. The difference this time is I have a plan. There will be unexpected detours as always, but amidst organized chaos. Until all the paperwork is completed I don’t want to jinx anything, but soon I’ll be posting about an exciting opportunity for the spring and summer seasons, plus plans for moving abroad in the fall, if all goes well (fingers crossed and visas prayed for 🙏).
While contemplating my next steps the last couple months I’ve wondered how blogging fits into all this. Do readers only want perfection and itemized lists? Is there room for sloppy learn-as-you-go moments and detours that derail a clean A-to-B route? The nomination from Thousand Mile Boots is validation to keep sharing my stories, even though I don’t have it all figured out. Thanks Andy, I’m in great company with your other nominees, and congrats on your nomination too!
Rules When Accepting A Nomination:
Thank the person who nominated you and help people find them with a link.
Display the award on your blog (you can choose from various graphics here).
Answer the questions asked by the person who nominated you.
Nominate 2 - 6 blogs that you feel would enjoy blogging about the award (*Note - I was nominated before the new rules for 2019 were published; I nominated more than 6 per the rules I had at the time).
Create 5 new interesting questions for your nominees to answer (*Note - the prior rules given to me asked for 11 questions. My nominees need only create 5 of their own, even though I created 11 myself).
List the rules in your post.
Inform the blogs you chose that you’ve nominated them for the Liebster award and provide them a link to your post so they have all the information.
Submit your post HERE to be judged.
What Is The Liebster Award?
The cool thing about the Liebster Award is that it’s given out by bloggers to other bloggers. This nomination feels like a hearty ‘sup nod from the blogging community that says, “I see you, fam. Keep doing you”. It’s a great way to bring visibility to young blogs and spread the love.
When I first started blogging I thought it was weird to “break the fourth wall” by talking about blogging itself; I just want to talk about traveling. But the more unique blogs I found, and the more opportunities I had to communicate and trade ideas with incredible bloggers, the more jazzed I became about seeing the world. I thought I would get hung up on the minutiae, but the community is so full of advice and support that instead I’ve been able to see the big picture of leading a travel lifestyle more clearly, and achieve more than I could alone. The Liebster Award is one example of that support, and I’m excited to pass it on!
🏆 My Nominees
I’ve Been Following:
I love following Clazz! She’s a Scot from the remote island of Orkney who decided to see the world, and has since been everywhere and done what seems like literally everything. I feel a kinship with her story because small town Texas often felt like a remote island, and we’ve settled on similar travel styles that have allowed us to break out: working odd jobs, living in hostels, backpacking, taking alternative modes of transportation, you name it. Anything besides being a digital nomad (which sounds like it would kind of suck, right?). Considering her home country, this year I’m sure I’ll be hitting her blog up for advice time and again, and I know she won’t lead me astray because it looks like we already share some favorite places.
Christin has lived in tons of countries and on a cruise ship, which I think is the coolest job ever - especially considering the places mentioned in her post “What Norway Shore Excursions To Book And Not To Book”. Can you imagine casually visiting one of these places every day before going to work? She’s got it figured out, and she’s helping her readers figure it out too. In addition to stunning destination guides, she posts tips for traveling on a budget, packing light, and narrowing your must-see list to the best of the best if you prefer to slow travel and spend a little more time in each place (like me). I would definitely swap lives with Christin, but with resources like this I don’t think I need to.
I found Kristen’s instagram while I was living in Los Angeles working full time and trying to be a weekend warrior, which she has MASTERED. I wish I found it earlier for some solidarity. She’s out there adventuring tirelessly in the deserts, forests, and badlands of the American West while the rest of us are sleeping. Funnily enough I never even knew about the Ice Castles in Dillon, CO, just an hour from where my family lives, until she posted about going there while she was also in town over Christmas (do we live the same life?), so I copycatted and went the next week (I promise I’m not stalking you! Why are we always in the same states?). Awesome hiking and camping recommendations on this blog, and I echo her sentiment that “it’s amazing where you can go in a day. You just have to decide to go.”
Chelsea has achieved my dream - she officially moved abroad to London last year from the US! I love drooling over her idyllic Instagram photos, but mainly I’m excited to have a good “how to be an expat” resource. It’s one of my goals for 2019, and I know I’m going to need all the help I can get. How do I handle the bank account and phone carrier stuff? What color is the money? I don’t know what’s going on. Chelsea does, thankfully. Although I can’t even look at some of these posts because of the aggressive FOMO symptoms I experience. She drove from London to Edinburgh. She has a DOG.
Melanie is a Colorado-based blogger who often posts insights about camping and international travel, but I especially love following for the local highlights because I take Colorado for granted when I’m there to visit family. It’s the only place in the world where I somehow let excuses stop me from exploring - “We’re so far up in the mountains, it’s such a hassle to get anywhere from here!” “What if there’s too much ice on the road?” …..or “I want to play with the dogs” etc etc. But there’s a reason everyone is moving to this state, and The Young Narrative reminds me that there’s a hike for every season and SO much to do around every corner, even if it’s a #microadventure in the nearest town. No excuses.
I’ve Just Discovered:
Tony has been traveling the world doing all kinds of interesting jobs (training dogs, herding reindeer, archaeology, teaching English) for years now, which you can read about here, but beginning this month (Jan 2019) he’s embarking on a mission - to do meaningful volunteer work in every country on the planet! I’m so intrigued to follow his new blog and find out where this journey will take him. I’ve used Workaway and WWOOF before and think volunteering is probably the most thorough and rewarding way to understand other cultures - you get to learn from and work side-by-side with the people who make that place what it is, and are often spending all your time in the environments that influence their daily life. This is a huge goal that he estimates will take 20 years of his life to complete, but it will impact so many others - you’ll be supporting more than just Tony when contributing to his patreon.
Lee-Anne has been circling the globe since 2011 but has just begun to detail her travels in the blogosphere; that’s at least 8 years of wisdom and hundreds of photos to look forward to! Her “Diary of a Newbie Travel Blogger” is so on-point, and she’s already covered some of my bucket list destinations (I want to go to Lindisfarne!). I’m looking forward to following her accounts for inspiration this year.
Bryan has traveled all over the UK, but I’m most fascinated by his tales of hiking in Scotland! My plans for this year aim to take me there long-term, and one of the top reasons I’ve got my heart set on it is so I can experience the glorious scenery of the Munros, the lochs, and the West Highland Way. He’s already helped me start to understand what I’m getting into (I haven’t begun any research about weather conditions or terrain yet), and I have a feeling his blog is going to become a major resource for me in the next year.
Meg started her blog around the same time I did, but she’s already achieved so much - that destination list is insane! In addition to unique city guides, she also posts important takes on social justice. Her awareness in terms of political and humanitarian concerns in the places she travels to is something I aspire to emulate more often; sometimes I can’t even keep up with what’s happening in the US.
Megan leads an adventurous life. Her disclaimer is she’s not a professional explorer or mountaineer, but that makes her experiences all the more incredible - she’s a cycler, a hiker, a skier, and a trekker - and she does it in all seasons in countries like Peru and Cambodia (this article about preparing for winter hiking was particularly helpful to me; in cold weather I risk paranoia-based overpacking). On top of that she teaches languages (sign me up) and learns a few herself. She also knows it all comes with challenges, which makes me feel better that someone so capable shares some of the same struggles that I do. I hope that means I’ll be able to follow in her footsteps and take on some real wilderness trekking!
YES! My main goal in the blogosphere is to find people who are doing badass things and challenging themselves, and Dineo Zonke Maduna fits the bill (and does it with style - look at this picture. Look at it). Her professional resume sounds like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure (she has three different university qualifications), but she recently decided to leave South Africa for the long-term travel life and add more destinations to her already extensive travelogue. My favorite thing she’s done so far is get her scuba diving license in Honduras, which is giving me ideas….
Questions from Thousand Mile Boots to The Detour Effect:
What country have you not visited yet that you’re dying to travel to?
Slovenia! A handful of travel bloggers and podcasters I follow have listed it as their top favorite place they’ve visited. It sounds majestic, with more hikes, caves, mountains, and architecture to explore than you’d think would be concentrated in such a small country, and apparently it’s not too overrun with tourism.
There’s tons of amazing foods around the world, which is your favorite?
No matter how far or wide I travel it will probably always be Mexican food. You can take the girl out of Texas…
What do you do to stay healthy while traveling?
Hiking and scenic walks/jogs. Hydrating all day long; I carry around a thermos. Sometimes I travel with lightweight exercise equipment like resistance bands. I’ve gotten into the habit of buying my own foods from grocery stores when possible so I can keep better track of macros, but I’m not always strict about it - eating out from time to time is part of the experience. In high altitude or when I’m just feeling particularly run-down, I take electrolyte tablets or energy chews. I like Hammer and Honey Stinger.
Is there anything you miss about home when you’re away?
I started living on my own when I was 16 (dual-credit college program for high schoolers) so I haven’t had a concept of home that’s tied to one place in a long time. I get homesick for people sometimes; I miss my friends in NYC, LA, Boston, and TX, and my family’s dogs.
What was one thing you were scared to do but did anyways?
Leaving the music industry, skydiving, hitchhiking for the first time, camping alone for the first time, getting my concealed carry, my first tattoo; I’ve done a lot of things that scared me at first.
What is your #1 travel tip that you’d want to share with the world?
Whatever you think is holding you back can be overcome (or worked around) if you’re determined and willing to sacrifice. The key word is that you “think” it’s holding you back; change your thinking.
If you couldn’t travel anymore, what other job/career would you choose?
Something that helps other people travel, like working in a visa immigration office or giving local tours. What I learned at hostels is that you don’t always have to travel, sometimes the world can come to you.
What language do you find most beautiful?
What mode of transportation would you rather travel by?
Hitchhiking or hiking, if there’s no time constraint. I love train travel too. Road trips with my truck never disappoint me either because I can stay on my own schedule.
More and more people are traveling, nowadays. Do you think that’s good or bad? Why?
Both. It’s good because it means more of us have the opportunity to experience other perspectives, and I do believe travel makes us more understanding and mindful people. Of course overtourism is a real problem in the age of globalization, as landmarks and natural environments around the world are exposed to more degradation and local economies can become unbalanced if travelers aren’t opting to spend their money at businesses run by native residents. I’m hopeful about this problem because I’ve recently seen the conversation taking place quite often; it seems that our generation of travelers has an awareness about their impact.
Questions from The Detour Effect to my nominees:
What’s a travel tip you’ve heard other people give that you don’t really agree with?
What’s the best fictional mode of transportation?
You’re being picked up by a driver while hitchhiking - finally. You’ve been waiting forever and don’t want to pass up a ride. You get to the door and see that it’s a celebrity, and they say they’ll take you the entire way, which means you’ll be stuck in the car with them for hours. What’s the best possible scenario for who that celebrity could be, and who would be the worst?
What’s your advice for Stoop Kid, who’s afraid to leave his stoop?
Would you rather get your pilot’s license, or learn to sail?
Do you have any travel- or hiking-related goals that are not destination-based? What’s on your list of things you’d like to do, besides seeing new places?
If given the opportunity would you want to be an expat for the rest of your life? Or would you want to return to your home country eventually?
What would you do if confronted by Bigfoot while camping alone in the woods?
Why did you start your blog when you did, as opposed to sooner/later?
If you could travel back in time to any event or place in history, where would you go and what would you want to see?
What’s an odd job or work exchange that you’ve always thought would be fun to try, that maybe most people rarely think about?
Thanks to all my fellow travel bloggers, and travelers in general, who have interacted with and supported me this year! I never expect anyone to understand or care what I’m doing, but it turns out it adds immeasurable value when they do. I love being energized by your stories and bravery and can’t wait to see what you accomplish in 2019. Go get ‘em!