How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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Working On A Cruise Ship

I somehow managed to get myself a job working at a Cruise Ship. This post is an inside look on what it's really like to live and work below deck. You never know... You might be enticed to work for one too, and travel the whole world like me! Read on to find out more...

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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My Ayahuasca Experience

Ayahuasca, is by far, the most INTENSE thing I have ever experienced in my life. I died and was reborn. It is both horrific and beautiful at the same time... I can't explain it in a few words. You HAVE to read my story to believe... I promise it will be worth your while...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hawaiian Volcanoes And Coastlines

One of the great things about working on my cruise ship is that even if I am frequently unable to get off the ship as often as I would like, there are certain things I could still consider a "Hawaiian Experience" without having to step foot outside the vessel.

Well - 2 things in particular.

1. The Currently Erupting Kilauea Volcano in the Big Island

I believe the term they used to describe the activity was -  "gurgling lava"... which is a pretty cool visual of what is currently going on over there!

So - this active volcano, Kilauea, has been literally ON FIRE for the past couple months. Our ship docks at the Big Island on the Hilo side on Tuesdays, then over to the Kona side on Wednesdays. On Tuesday evenings as we make the sail from Hilo to Kona, we swing by the area where the Volcano is. See image below...

As we get closer to this hot mess, the ship turns out all our external lights to give us a better visual of the volcano.

One Tuesday night, I made the effort to stay up until 9:45pm (I know... wild, right?) to see this visual spectacle. I was told that the best view of it is from the bow of the ship (read: the area of the ship where Rose and Jack did the "I'm the King of the World" bit), and so I sashayed my way all the way forward and braced myself.

This photo was taken by Carley, our photo manager... and she used her telescope-like lens to be able to capture these images. My phone, unfortunately does not have the shooting power to match these. I honestly didn't even bring my phone. I went up there purely for the experience.

This photo was taken by another one of our photographers, Sierra Schmidt :)

OK - seeing the erupting volcano from the ship was pretty cool. Yeah, it's an experience for the books, not many of us can say we've approached an erupting volcano from the ocean in a powerful vessel... But that evening, what made an impression on me wasn't the volcano - but the stars.

There was hardly any light pollution because the ships lights were out, and so I basically saw a night scattered with a billion stars, as close as I thought I could ever get to them.

It was beautiful...

I'm not gonna lie... I had an infinite moment... Maybe shed a tear or two.

I wish I had a photo to share... But it basically looked like this:

2. The View of the Na Pali Coastline

On Friday afternoons at 5:30pm, as our ship returns to Honolulu from the island of Kauai, we swing by an area where we could get a full view of the Na Pali Coastline. 

The Na Pali Coast is a 15 mile stretch of rugged coastline, most of which is inaccessible due to the cliffs that drop straight down to the ocean... The best way to view it is - you guessed it! From my ship! Yeah, you can hike parts of it... But you won't be able to get spectacular photos like these... which I actually took from my phone!

Isn't it beauuuutiful?

Jurassic Park and World and Pirates of the Caribbean used this beauty in some of their scenes... Oooh and King Kong, too...
It may just look like a random landscape, but it's really *really* beautiful. You only get this view from a ship, and we are really lucky to be experiencing this every Friday!

It was a still day. Hardly any wind.
I look like I've been photoshopped

So that's 2 purely Hawaiian things we get to experience on our ship without having to get off at all! Works out great for Lazy Luna's like me :) 

Whale season is coming up soon. Whale watching from the ship doesn't sound too bad either...

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Skydiving in Kauai

This is basically a #BucketList post, wherein I share one of the items that I have ticked off of my own list.

Sky Diving is on 90% of the world's population's Bucket List. Not everyone gets to tick it off, though. I'm very glad I did.

Fair Warning: Some photos may be disturbing. Sky diving, which makes you travel a million or so miles an hour, make your skin floppy and flabby, mostly on the face, and they make for very RAW and RIVETING photos.


My ship goes to the island of Kauai every Thursday and Friday. They call this the Honeymoon Island... Others say it's the Adventure Island.

Well, I call it, Grocery Day! Because we've got Kmart and Walmart shuttles waiting for us outside our ship, that run every 15 to 20 minutes! Yippee!

Anyway... Michelle (my boss) and I, booked ourselves to go skydiving at Sky Dive Kauai to celebrate our birthdays. My birthday was in March, hers was in May, we figured that was as good a time as any to do a joint birthday celebration jump! It doesn't make sense, but hey... We went out there and did something!


You seriously do. When you get there, you have to sign a waiver that literally says - "You could be killed"... AND sign a statement that says, "I am voluntarily choosing to risk my life."

Here is proof.

But... We all die in the end, anyway. And I figured... if I died jumping out of a plane, *flying*, like I've always dreamed of doing since I was a child, it wouldn't be too bad.

And so we got ourselves strapped and ready to go!


This was our plane.

It looked like it was severely injured and bandaged.

Not really sure how I felt upon laying my eyes on that.

Luckily, the instructors were kidding... And directed us to an equally small - but better looking plane.

This one looked healthier.

So basically, all four of us (Michelle and both our instructors) were going to squeeze into that little thing --- WHICH DID NOT HAVE A DOOR, I'd like to add... and the pilot was gonna take us up, give us a little areal view of Kauai, and then just dump us out! Simple!


There were no chairs, so we were all just seated nice and snug on the floor.

Michelle was having a blast and was looking very cozy with her man.

While I... Was not.

I was already screaming, and we hadn't even took off yet.

We went up and the pilot sort of took his time hovering around Kauai to give us a really nice view of the island from above. It's really pretty... But to be honest, I was NOT digging the whole foreplay thing.

I did mention that the plane did not have a door, right? So I was growing anxious of what was about to come, and delaying the inevitable was killing me. I was getting more and more nervous, I could NOT enjoy the view, no matter how gorgeous the day was... I kept thinking about the jump, and having to jump out, and the possibility of plummeting down to my inevitable death.

Deep breaths.

"Can we just jump??" I yelled to my instructor.

"Whaaat?" he yelled back.

"Let's just GO! Let's get it over with!" I screamed.

He laughed, and said, "OK! Almost there!"

The pilot took us above the clouds, and got ready, as WE got ready.

I volunteered early on to jump first. Not because of bravery... but because I knew I was going to get even MORE anxious or nervous if I were to witness Michelle jump out of the plane first, and then wait for her to get to a certain height before I could jump out.

No way. I'd rather get it over with first. I don't do very well with anticipation, and I am not a very patient woman.


We started to position ourselves by the (nonexistent) door.

You will notice that I am leaning my head up against my instructor's shoulder.

No - I wasn't trying to be cute.

I could NOT look Down

NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME. I couldn't look down. If I could have jumped out lying face up like a pancake, I would have. I am not afraid of heights but it's the ANTICIPATION. I was VERY nervous, and if I looked down, I would have had thoughts of backing out - and it was out of the question. So I just kept my head up, and let my instructor count off!

As soon as he said, "READY??"
I started screaming...

3...(Aaah) 2... (AAAAAH) 



Jumping off the plane!

And we were falling.


So - one of the fears that I had about sky diving (apart from the possibility of my own demise) is the feeling that you get in your navel... You know what I'm talking about? The involuntary jolt that you feel when you fall very quickly... You feel it on those vertical drop rides in carnivals... or when there is bad turbulence on the plane...

I hate that.

It's one of the most icky feelings in the world and it makes me want to either throw up or poop. But I was prepared for it because I figured it was part of the whole experience...

Or so I thought.

I am very happy to announce that you, in fact, do NOT get that gross navel jolt feeling. Not at all.

On the 15 seconds or so of free fall - all you feel is....


Flying in Kauai!

Floppy Skin Euporia.

It is, what I imagine, SUPERMAN feels when he flies. Pure and utter bliss.
I was still screaming - but not out of fear anymore... It was exhilaration and joy. 

So, you know that scene in Superman... when he takes Lois Lane up to fly with him for the first time, and the song, "Can You Read My Mind" plays? Well.... THIS.

I mean, you only free fall for about 10 - 15 seconds (possibly even less)... but those moments are what you remember, because it's what renders the most intense feelings of happiness.

It is fleeting... but totally, TOTALLY worth it. 


Before I knew it - he pulled the parachute, and BEUFFFFF!
It was like we were suspended in time and space, and we lost gravity. 

I felt weightless for about half a minute, my senses still confounded from the free fall... 
And then it was just - nice.

Really quiet and peaceful.


I think I started screaming again after a minute, just because my emotions were so high...

But it was great to be just floating up there...

My instructor let me drive for a minute to let me feel what it's like to take control of the chute... It was great - but it takes a little getting used to.

We were up there for a while, just enjoying the nice wind and the view, goofing around with the GoPro...
Skydiving Parachute Goofing Off

And then we made our descent.

My instructor and I had a PERFECT landing, planting all four feet firmly on the ground... That is, before my knees buckled from the relief of BEING ALIVE!!!!

You will literally scream - "I'm Alive! I'm Alive" after going through all that. 

Honestly, the wave of relief that swept over me made me realize that I really DID think that there was a huge possibility of me dying! 


I had a little pensive moment... To think about life and all that...


And then I got over it, and posed in front of my parachute.

Michelle and I ran in for a big hug when we were both on the ground, congratulating each other for not dying!

It was AH-MAY-ZING!!! And honestly - I cannot wait to do it again!

The worst part is letting go --- as it always is, in life.

Really - it's the jump. Or the idea of jumping out of the plane.

Once you get over that little hurdle - everything is illuminated... Everything that you experience from then on is just beauty... and madness... and euphoria... and love.

There is no pain. Only fun. I promise!

One final selfie with my instructor, and back to the ship we went.

It was a great day. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Favorite Travel Experiences

Let me preface this by clarifying something: These are my favorite experiences while I was doing my round the world backpacking trip --- NOT necessarily my favorite places in the world.

An experience could be just that - an occurrence... or a moment... and could have nothing to do with the place I'm in. 

Well... could... not that it didn't.

It was hard to choose because I really had some of the best times of my life while I was doing this round the world backpacking trip, and there were so many moments worth mentioning. I wanted to put more, but I consolidated it to about 10. It's still a lot - but all worth it, I promise.

If you've been reading this blog from the beginning - get ready to be nostalgic. If you've just stumbled across this blog - then get ready to have your mind blown. :)

Here it is...

10 of my Favorite Travel Experiences (in no particular order)

*Click on the titles to read the full stories behind these moments

1. George's Heroic Rescue - Rio, Brazil

On my last post about my worst travel experiences, I talked about how my friend, George, who was still practically a stranger back then, saved me from what would have been a horrific Couchsurfing Experience. To recap: after finding myself in a very compromising position with my Couchsurfing host - George swept me off my feet and offered his home to me, a stranger, with no questions asked... which basically restored my faith in humanity. His kindness kept me going, realizing that there is still genuine goodness in this world. He is why I love traveling to begin with! Meeting people like him!

2. The Japanese Tea Ceremony - Tokyo, Japan

How many of us could say they've been dressed up in an authentic Kimono and served authentic green tea by actual Japanese tea masters in Japan? I had such a fun time feeling like Mulan while I was being dressed, and I was so impressed by how delicate and graceful the whole ceremony was. 

Please bring honor to us... Please bring honor to us...

The Japanese Tea Ceremony, I felt, was an exact representation of Japan: Traditional, simple, beautiful. I was so sad to get out of that Kimono, but will always be grateful for the time I spent wearing it, drinking this wonderful tea.

3. The Wall At Gubbio - Perugia, Italy

While I was volunteering at a small, posh, bed and breakfast in Umbertide, I had made a special friendship with 2 of my fellow volunteers - Eduardo and Riccardo. On one beautiful, sunny day, our hosts gave us their car for the day to explore and enjoy our time off. We ventured out into a small walled city, Gubbio, and just hung out and spent the entire day there. We stopped walking for a bit to take a break, and we sat - literally on the wall of Gubbio, overlooking  the beautiful country, and basking in the sun.

The three of us spoke about how similar our stories were... quitting our jobs to explore the world and explore ourselves... Trying to find our bliss. Eventually all our hearty chatter turned into transcended silence, as Riccardo played an Italian classical song, aptly called, "The Journey" on his phone.

Three strangers - turned good friends - on an old historic wall overlooking a field in the blazing sun- right smack in the middle of nowhere, Italy - enjoying life and each other's company. It was then that I realized how content I was with who I am, and with where I was at that point in my life. I was just there, completely present, and insanely happy. It was - the very definition, of feeling infinite.

Eduardo, Eartha, Riccardo = Love

To this day - I think about that wall and remember... that that feeling is what everyone should be able to experience, at least once in their lives. And I will forever be grateful that I did.

(*Editor's Note: My article - "Finding My Bliss In Italy" is still one of my favorite blog posts. It's not as popular as the others, but it's one of the ones where the words truly flowed from my heart)

4. The North Island Road Trip - North Island, New Zealand

At the first leg of my trip, going around New Zealand was the first time I was actually completely alone.  I had rented a car to drive a completely foreign land, all by myself, on a right hand drive car (read: completely opposite of what I'm used to). This experience was special because this is when I truly felt like I was out of my comfort zone. I was scared, yes... But I think this was also when I found real courage.
I drove through a high and dark mountain during a hail storm in a tiny car, literally thinking - "I could die here, right now..." but being okay with it, because I was just ape-shit happy I was out in the world, doing what I really wanted to do... Instead of being stuck in a cubicle. And I was in New Freaking Zealand... I just had laser eye surgery a couple months prior, and my eyesight was just beginning to heal. I remember thinking that everything started to look like it was in high definition, which even heightened my experience further. The country is just so devastatingly beautiful, I was constantly out of breath, even if my jaw was on the floor from awe the whole time.

YES. This is a photo I took after the freaking Hail Storm! I know, right?

I was so in tune with the Universe, I kept feeling like I just knew I was on the right path. It was amazing... and I can't wait to go back to explore the South Island the second time around.

5. Impromptu Snowboarding in Sierra Nevada - Granada, Spain

I was in Granada and I had no idea there was even snow! When I found out that Sierra Nevada was basically not even an hour away from the hostel I was staying - I was determined to snowboard up there, no matter what!

And so at dinner in the common area of the hostel - I announced to anyone who would listen that I was going Snowboarding in Sierra Nevada the next day, and asked if anyone was interested in going with me. One of the girls who just arrived said - "I'd go! I just don't know how..."
"Well..." I said, happily... "I happen to be a very good trainer! Buy me a drink and we're even?"
"Done deal," she said! And off we went!I love it when things like these work out... It was almost too easy :)

It was so beautiful up in the mountains, she turned out to be such a great student, super fast learner, and after about an hour of training in the Bunny Slope - she was up there with me doing Black Diamond runs! Ah-may-zing!

This was a completely unplanned event, we had a wonderful time, came back to the hostel exhausted but soooo satisfied.

I love this experience because it was totally unexpected, unplanned, but completely worked out - like they always do in the end. It was nice to have a little break from the whole backpacking trail and venture out into the snowy mountains just to have fun.

6. The Scottish Highlands Bus Tour - Scotland

I've always said that Scotland is my favorite country in the world. After this tour - I basically sealed that statement forever, locked it down, and threw away the key. I am obsessed with this country! The MacBackpackers Bus Tour we had was made epic by our tour guide, Graeme... A kilt-wearing true blue Scot, whose heritage runs deep in his veins. He had stories and fables and legends for days... His passion flowed through his words - made me want to pledge my allegiance to Scotland and take a knee!

Castles and Mountains and Glens and Faeries and Rivers and more Castles. It was like a fairy tale come to life - with amazing tour mates to boot!
I love Scotland forever!

7. Ayahuasca - Cusco, Peru

Of course, Ayahuasca. My mind-altering hallucinogenic encounter with Pacha Mama. I went to Cusco to take a 3 day Ayahuasca retreat to go through this intense experience, in the hopes of achieving clarity... To know what to do with my life as my round the world journey was coming to a close.

Because of this, I've known what it's like to die and be reborn. I've been put in touch with the universe and my own divinity, and everything... EVERYTHING became clear after ingesting this drug or medicine or brew. It changed me completely... And once you've gone down this path of enlightenment - there's no going back.

It was because of Ayahuasca that I decided to take a leap of faith yet again, and move to Brazil. Apparently, it was something I knew I wanted all along - I just couldn't see it because of my fears. This is probably one of the most monumental and noteworthy things I've ever done - not just on this trip but in my entire life.

8. Volunteering in Huaycan - Lima, Peru

What really led me to Peru was the opportunity to volunteer at the organization called The Light And Leadership Initiative. As a volunteer, I taught English as an after school program to these underprivileged kids in the poorest section of Lima. I lived in a volunteer house with 11 others, the fiercest, most kind-hearted people I've met, right in the middle of the little Huaycan community.

It was just so rewarding, being allowed to be a part of this organization that helps out this much... And I was so excited to be able to contribute my skills and talent, to benefit these beautiful and sweetest children who were just so eager to learn. I fell in love with these kids, the organization, and the simple lives we all led back in Huaycan. Even if I was only there for a short while, the experience was so special, that Peru will always hold a soft spot in my heart. What an amazing organization - and how lucky am I to have been a part of it...

9. On Calling Brazil Home - Sao Paulo, Brazil

When I moved to Sao Paulo after my Ayahuasca "visions" told me to go back to Brazil, I didn't know what to expect. I was broke, running on credit, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. But the stars aligned right from the first day I got there. I was surrounded by good people, I found an apartment after 8 days, got hired by 3 different companies as a "Freelance" English teacher (read; Under the table), and acquired 4 private students. I knew I was there for a reason...

It wasn't without its struggles though... I had to learn a little Portuguese to get me by because people hardly spoke English. It was a little expensive over there that I was living from paycheck to paycheck. But what the hell... I was living in Brazil and I lived like a local! Ate their food (more like devoured), used their public transportation, tried to dance the samba, pretended I was interested in football, and towards the end - got mistaken for a local Brazilian! I've made it!

It was great to experience life in Sao Paulo. I felt like I truly blended in, was so blessed to be constantly surrounded by such bright lights - amazing people, literally friends that I will have for life, and I will always think of Brazil as one of my homes...

Surviving in Brazil was something I consider to be one of my greatest achievements. I had nothing when I got there... I completely relied on blind faith and pure determination that I was going to do my best to make it work - and it did. I worked my butt off, but also felt like something cosmic was helping make doors open for me. I was being guided (as I often felt like I was during this adventure) by an invisible force... And as incredibly cheesy as this may sound -- I really think that it was the force of love that made things so great for me. The Universe knew that I summoned all my courage to be there because I was following my heart.

It was in Brazil that I realized that what my friend, Maui, told me was true: I really DO bloom where I am planted. If I made it there, I can make it anywhere. :)

10. The Shanti House - Borzonasca, Italy

My short stint of volunteering at the Shanti House completely shaped my Italian experience. We had Italian guests (who are more friends than guests, really), Italian owners, an authentic Italian cook (with a moustache and a permanent cigar on his mouth), way up in the mountains in the small little village of Borzonasca, away from civilization. Seeerrriously... can't it get any more Italian than that!?

It was my first volunteer experience via Help Exchange - and is probably the best, too. So many things happened at the Shanti House, from discovering my inner Italian, to being featured in a documentary, to having a little Italian romance, to being a part of this huge Italian family (who, to this day, still asks me to go back there).

When I think of Italy, I think of the Shanti, and our many nights filled with food, wine, cheese, great music, friendship, passion and love.

Italy is not Rome or Venice or Florence. 
Italy is a very small little commune in the northwestern part of the country, in the province of Genoa, up in the region of Liguria. Where the earth is lush and the wind is fresh... The heart of Italy is in the Shanti... and my heart will always be with them.


That's 10! It has been such an awesome journey... And it's exciting to think that there's so much more to look forward to. 

I really wanted to add a lot more to this list... But I guess that's the beauty of keeping this website running... You can always just poke around my blog archive and see for yourself.... Then you can let me know which stories you liked best. :)

I realized I've frequently been looking back on the stuff that I've done in the past... My glory days, so to speak... I think maybe it's time to start talking more about the things I have been up to as of late...

Until next week :)