My Biggest Fear: Bested, but not Conquered

travel, Las VegasZip-lining and sky-diving? Check. A strange addiction to catapulting to more than 1,000 feet on the Stratosphere’s Big Shot here in Las Vegas? Love it. Landing alone in China, Turkey, Malaysia and who knows where else, moving to a barrio in Costa Rica, solo cross-country road trips: Fun hobbies all of them, ways to unwind!

Even though my extreme dislike of horror films makes me think of myself as a scaredy cat, I get called a thrill-seeker all the time.

But I have one serious, debilitating fear. And I’m about two hours away from addressing it in the above photo, where I’m enjoying the calm before the storm with an old friend from NYC.

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Jesus Year (Turning 33)

One of my favorite aspects of being so active in this crazy online travel world is meeting people like me — and especially connecting with people who are living parallel lives. First, there was Abbey Hesser, of A Chick with Baggage, who not just shared my name as she gallivanted through her travels, but had been living in my exact building in Santa Monica, California as she planned her long-term travel. Yes, we’d been living mere feet from each other while fantasizing about setting out, planning our trips, throwing caution to the wind — and then met on-line months afterward.

My most recent connection has been with Jenny Sundel, of Jesus Year Project (SHOWN LEFT). I talk often of leaving a job and then living as an expat for a year in Costa Rica. Jenny left her job a year later — and went off to Paris to live as an expat for a year. But there’s more: She’s the very person who took the job I left behind! When she asked me to write a guest post on what I learned while living as an expat at the age of 33, my “Jesus Year,” of course I said yes!

Please check it out!

33 Jesus Year Revelations

Meet, Plan, Go — How long-term travel got me my career back

When my friends at Briefcase to Backpack asked me to write up my story about how taking a career break revved up my enthusiasm for my work in journalism, I jumped at the opportunity. I consider any small thing I can do to encourage others to take a step back and experience some time “off” an absolute honor. What I didn’t expect were all the kind words I got in response — the online travel community is a supportive bunch. My “IRL” friends often marvel about how close I am with my online travel friends, but projects like this one illustrate why.

On that note, the stars of Briefcase to Backpack are bringing their popular Meet, Plan, Go event to Las Vegas — and 16 other cities — on October 18th. Here in Sin City, the long-term travel pep rally will be hosted by my dear friend, JoAnna Haughn, of Kaleidoscopic Wandering and WhyGoVegas, and she’s asked me take part. I’m thrilled! She’s already thrown herself into planning, and I’m so excited about all of the ideas I’ve heard so far. I’ve promised to ignore my fear of public speaking and sit on a panel. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, here’s the story I wrote on my life coming full circle thanks to a much-needed 21 months of travel and expat living. Enjoy!

A Life-changing Year Ends Full Circle

Why journalism snobs should love amateur blogs

amateur blogsWhen I was first introduced to the online travel community more than a year ago, I was confused as to why everyone expected me to start an amateur blog . Who would read it besides my mom? What would I write about? And WHAT was the purpose?

I’d been working in magazines since college, so writing just for kicks, for my new friends who I’d never met across the world, seemed a bit ridiculous. And self-published, free eBooks? Give me a break. It’s not that I looked down on all of it… I just didn’t get it. I was in a period of my life, after losing my job, where I wanted to slow down – not add extra projects that appeared to take a lot of time for little or no monetary profit. And so I stayed far away.

Twelve months later, I have changed my mind. In fact, not only do I think the amateur blogging universe is extremely important to the future of professional writing, but I also think that even journalism snobs should have a lot more respect for it. Here’s why.

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Life after long-term travel: adjusting back

Unpacking all of my belongings after more than a year away was a strange rite of passage, and one that was much more emotional than I thought it was going to be. I lived out of two suitcases during my time away in Costa Rica, most of it in a little house the size of a car. I learned to live with only the basics. But when I moved back to Las Vegas, a storage unit’s worth of belongings came with me. Alone, I watched the movers fill my new house with boxes, each a mystery that had been untouched for 13 months. I had no idea what I was in for.

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Proud to be the anti-Eat, Pray, Love girl

Borneo

When I first ran away to Central America, my friends pushed me to start a blog called “Eat, Pray, Abby.” Thank goodness I didn’t listen! While legions of female fans of the best-selling phenomenon are, as we speak, traipsing the globe trying to be the next Elizabeth Gilbert, I was most certainly not one of them. And my story illustrates what came to be my favorite aspect of travel and career breaks.

No, I did not find my one true love while on the road. Instead? I ended up right back at the office. Forget romance, I fell back in love with my career. I’ve suffered much “what kind of ‘live free’ example are you?” ribbing, and I laugh about landing back behind the desk.

Yes, in the end, I became the anti-Eat, Pray, Love traveler. The point?

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