Author: Gretchen

What to pack for backpacking around the world

You’ve mapped out your dream destinations and started researching what to do when you arrive. Now, what do you pack?

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Photo credit: Fabian Von Holzen

How to stay fit and healthy while you travel the world

After four months of backpacking around Europe and Southeast Asia, the truth was staring at me in the mirror. The lean, toned body I had loved back in California, where I cycled between surfing, yoga, climbing and at-home kettle bell workouts and ate a mostly-paleo diet was long gone. Were those dimples on my thighs? Yikes. Thanks to a budget backpacker diet that consisted mostly of rice, noodles and fried street food, I had lost muscle and gained flab. With California’s kale salads, green juices and Whole Foods a far off dream, I knew I had to find a travel lifestyle that was both healthy and sustainable. After all, when you’re on a long term backpacking trip around the world, indulging like you’re on a short-term vacation isn’t doing your body any favors. Over the next few months, I tested out different strategies with the goal of feeling great while traveling. The changes weren’t instant, but I gradually found myself feeling stronger, leaner and more energized. The following eight ideas are my tried-and-true methods for staying fit …

Why I decided to keep traveling

‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.’ -Rumi

When I arrived in Bali in early January 2017, I planned to spend five weeks exploring the island of the gods. Little did I know, but my experiences in Bali would change the course of the next year of my life, inspiring a last-minute decision to cancel my return ticket back to California.

That time I ate rat, or 2 weeks of motorbikes, mountains and mayhem in Vietnam

When my best friend showed up in Vietnam, I knew it was going to be a wild ride. We had fourteen days to cover the country from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and an ambitious itinerary of city-hopping, mountain climbing and cultural exploration planned.

Possibly to make up for a childhood of picky eating, Ian is now a total foodie and couldn’t wait to try the insects and blood soup Vietnam is famous for, while I, on the other hand, had no intention of eating anything more adventurous than pate in a banh mi sandwich. Unfortunately, my worst fears were realized when…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

8 important lessons I learned from traveling the world

As I contemplate the last four months of world travel, I realize I’ve learned a lot from the experience of backpacking across Europe and Southeast Asia. I’ve discovered places that eclipsed my wildest imaginings, explored modern cities and ancient ruins, watched sunrises and sunsets with newfound friends, climbed literal and figurative mountains and stripped away layers to reveal a stronger, smarter and braver version of myself.

I know I’ll want to remember a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, so here’s eight of the important ones…

Too broke to travel? 7 travel hacks to get you there sooner

At least once a week, somebody tells me “I wish I could travel too, but I don’t have the money.” Well, guess what?  It’s a lie. Stop telling yourself this convenient story and get out there and start exploring the world. As I write this, I’m cozied up at a hip cafe in Canggu, Bali eating divine vegan food. I drove here on a motorbike I got for free, five minutes from the surf/yoga camp I’m staying at (also for free). This afternoon, I’ll drop in at a discounted yoga class before meeting friends for sunset at the beach. All together, my awesome day will cost less than $15…and it could even be free, if I chose to take advantage of the restaurant back at the camp (but I have a weakness for trendy eateries, which Canggu is overflowing with). So, without further ado, here are seven resources to help you stretch even a small amount of cash into months or even years abroad: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFing) Browse hundreds of listings from organic farms …

Pinch me, I’m dreaming…twelve days exploring magical Myanmar

As 2016 came to an end, I hopped from Vietnam to Myanmar (formerly Burma) to explore this incredible country where ancient tradition is just beginning to meet the modern world. Due to an ongoing civil war, much of the country is still off-limits to foreigners, but a bourgeoning tourism industry and recent democratic elections indicate things are changing rapidly. With cheerful shouts of “Min-ga-la-ba!” (hello) echoing down every street, the friendly and optimistic Burmese people are the true gem of this beautiful country, which sits between Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh. Myanmar is a diverse place. The country is home to more than 100 ethnic groups, although almost 98 percent of the population identifies as Buddhist. Indeed, there are nearly 500,000 buddhist monks in Myanmar. Whether you are shopping in a bustling market or visiting a temple, the sight of the monks’ saffron robes is a common one. Here’s a few of my favorite photographs (and memories) from the twelve days I spent in beautiful Myanamar. I expected that watching the sunrise over the thousands of ancient …

Ancient temples, island escapes and mountaintop monasteries: 7 days in Greece

One of the biggest challenges I had while planning my trip to Europe was how to spend seven days in Greece. The ferry connections were bewildering, and since I was visiting in the off-season (November), it was even harder to determine whether certain ferries were running.

This itinerary offers a little bit of everything –the history and awe-inspiring sights of Athens, the scenery and hiking of incredible Meteora, plus the must-see island of Santorini.

Why travel solo? 10 reasons to take on the world by yourself

I’ll admit it —when I first decided I was going to travel alone through Europe and Southeast Asia, I was terrified. The thought of spending four months by myself, traveling through foreign countries surrounded by a bunch of strangers who didn’t speak the same language sounded…scary. Friends and family telling me how dangerous the world was didn’t help much —according to popular opinion, if I wasn’t killed in a terrorist attack or raped in a dark alley, I would be lucky to arrive back in San Francisco as a travel-hardened survivor of sexual harassment, rampant pickpockets and mosquito-born illness.