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Life lately & upcoming travels: January 2016 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

What a month it’s been! I wrapped up my time in New York City and flew to Colombia, my first new country of 2016. I was traveling with someone for the first couple of weeks, which means I traveled a lot faster than I would’ve had I been by myself, but it also meant going on some adventures that wouldn’t have been half as much fun had I been on my own.

January 2016 Colombia and New York City
From New York (with spring blossoms in January!) to the sweltering heat of Colombia

What I’ve been up to

I started the New Year with a relaxing day in Brooklyn, cuddling with my (temporary) cats and generally taking things slow before my departure. I was cat sitting for a friend of mine who happens to have one of the most gorgeous apartments I’ve come across in New York, complete with a giant kitchen where I tried my hands on all kinds of recipes and enjoyed my daily baking and cooking sessions.

I finally made some time to relax, which I’d been wanting to do for months! Movie nights, long sessions in the bathtub with my Kindle, long runs in the park while listening to my favorite podcasts. I was lucky with the weather – while I was still in New York, it was still warm enough to run outside without freezing to death, and more importantly: warm enough to cycle! If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I love cycling and I was happily reunited with my bike last month.New York January 2016And then it was time to leave for Colombia. As usual, I started travel planning at the eleventh hour, running last minute errands the day before I left, ordered stuff on Amazon on 2-day delivery, hoping it would arrive in time (and picking it up from the post office literally 5 minutes before they closed), and not knowing where I’d rest my head upon arriving in Cartagena until a few short days before leaving the U.S. Some things never change 🙂

My travels through Colombia started in the north, in Cartagena to be precise. Cartagena is one of Colombia’s most popular (read: touristy) cities, and it’s popular for a reason – It has a well preserved and beautifully restored historic center, surrounded by thick, centuries-old stone walls that used to protect the city. I couldn’t have picked a better place to start my Colombia explorations in than this Spanish colonial city that sits right on the Caribbean Sea. I spent hours walking the narrow streets, marveling at the wooden balconies, usually overflowing with bougainvillea, and colorful houses. In fact, I am writing this from Cartagena, even though I was supposed to leave already (twice!), but I kept extending my stay. cartagenaFrom Cartagena, we set off on a whirlwind tour of the coast, stopping in Tayrona National Park, the beach paradise of Palomino, and a detour into the mountains before circling back to Cartagena with a visit to nearby Playa Blanca and the famed Totumo mud volcano.

While this might all sound fabulous, let me tell you that this month didn’t go by without any hiccups – you can read them below in ‘What went wrong’… but let’s start with the January highlights!Colombia January 2016

Highlights

River tubing in Palomino, Colombia I don’t know how I’ve spent 35 years on this planet without ever going tubing! But somehow I just never came across it, even in all those years of travel (except for Belize, where we had to skip it due to heavy rains and Laos, where we passed on visiting the back then notorious party town of Vang Vieng). Anyway – trying it for the first time in Colombia was perfect. We slowly floated down a river that comes down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains,  surrounded by lush green jungles on all sides, and finally empties into the Caribbean Sea. Extra bonus: doing it in the late afternoon when the light was warm and soft. The only sounds we heard were the sounds of the jungle. Heavenly!palomino tubingTraveling with my favorite travel buddy As I mentioned above, I had a travel buddy for my first two weeks in Colombia, and it was such a fun trip! Yes, I might not have gotten as much work done as I wanted and traveled faster than I’m comfortable with, but I had such a great time and I think it made it easier to ease into South America again. This was our fourth trip together and we’re already planning our next getaway – can’t wait!

Being a housewife in New York I had such a good time in New York before I left – even though the last few days were freezing (19F/-12C) and I realized I hadn’t been in weather that cold since my visit to Chicago for Christmas in 2007! I was definitely ready for sun and beach fun by the time my departure date rolled around, but I loved having a temporary home with an amazing kitchen. Knowing that I wouldn’t have the chance to bake, cook or have people over for a while now, I made the most of it, and tried my hand at all sorts of recipes I’ve been pinning onto my Pinterest recipes board. I also made sure to eat all the foods I knew I’d miss in South America, like a decent Thai meal, veggie sushi, a bagel, New York pizza and Mexican breakfast. Guys, you have no idea how ready I am to have my own kitchen again and go from full-time nomad to part-time traveler!

cooking in nyc
Still can’t believe that this egg-in-a-biscuit turned out great on my first try making it.

Winning a Margarita Maker You might remember that I won two round-trip tickets on Singapore Airlines (NYC to Singapore) in November, and my winning streak doesn’t seem to stop. At the beginning of the month I received an email that I’d won a Margaritavilla Margarita Maker, worth $300! I am usually not a Tequila drinker but it looks like I should give margaritas another chance?!

Receiving a package from my sister
This was definitely a highlight of the month – I received a package from Germany, and I got it the day before I left for Colombia. Talk about good timing! It was supposed to arrive in time for Christmas, but my chocolate Santa still tasted amazing mid-January, and I was so touched that my sister had sent me a few little gifts for Christmas.

Lowlights

Self-imposed stress
I am not sure why I always do that to myself… I had weeks, if not MONTHS in New York to plan my South America trip, and yet I ended up procrastinating until the very last minute, not even picking up a guidebook until about a week before my trip to look up where I wanted to go. Once I held said guidebook in my hands, I decided spontaneously to do a 5-day jungle trek while here, and found myself scrambling to get everything I needed for this trek – most of which arrived in a package from Amazon which I picked up from the post office minutes before they closed on the night prior to my departure, as I’ve already mentioned.

Colombia vacation
Luckily all this helped me de-stress quickly!

Reading horror stories about Colombia the day before my departure Let me tell you: it’s not the greatest idea to read an article titled Solo Female Going To Colombia? Just don’t. while you’re in the middle of packing your bags for COLOMBIA. This, along with another scary story by a female solo traveler who’d recently visited Colombia, totally freaked me out and I left for Colombia slightly scared – not a great mindset to start a trip with! Luckily I had company for the first couple of weeks, which calmed me down quite a bit.

Forgetting to pack important things I don’t know how I forgot to pack some essentials like my Swiss army knife (necessary to cut fresh fruit), Ziploc bags (for all kinds of things), but more importantly my underwater camera and my second external hard drive!!

Not winning the lottery With my recent lucky streak when it comes to winning things, of course I had to buy a ticket for the $900 million Powerball lottery (and then again for the $1.2 billion). Needless to say I didn’t win.

marilyn and dani
This girl helped me getting over not winning the Powerball.

What went wrong

A bungalow break-in in Palomino My first day in Palomino was off to a great start: I’d worked until late into the night the evening before so that I could take time off and enjoy the beach. And that’s what we did… a lovely morning spent walking the beach and playing in the waves, and we were ready for some river tubing in the afternoon. We dropped by our beach bungalow to drop off some stuff and I froze when I unlocked the door and saw that all our bags had been emptied and the entirety of our belongings was strewn across the floor.

Every little bag we had with us had been opened, and my heart dropped when I remembered that I had left our laptops, passports, credit cards and a lot of cash in my backpack. As my eyes fell on my backpack, I saw that it was still locked! They hadn’t opened the main compartment which I had locked with a padlock. We assume that they were interrupted because they seemed to have left in a rush, and they also didn’t find some cash in one of the cosmetics bags they were searching through. How lucky were we?! While this was definitely a scary moment (and could’ve ended my entire trip right there and then!), I don’t put Colombia down for it – something like this happens everywhere in the world.

beautiful colombia
Celebrating the good side of Colombia

Food poisoning It all started so well: with the best meal we’ve had in Colombia so far. Both dishes we ordered, plus the coconut lemonade, were divine. I even proclaimed ‘I’m going back here for lunch every day now!’ when we left, and my friend was mad that I hadn’t brought her to ‘La Mulata’ earlier, which is a popular and highly-ranked Caribbean restaurant in Cartagena. However, four hours later, I started to vomit like crazy, had stomach cramps, diarrhea, the whole nine yards. I was bed ridden for 24 hours and it took me another two days to get back to normal. The last time I had food poisoning that bad was in 2011!

coconut lemonade cartagena
I’m pretty sure that this is what caused the food poisoning, because we both got it, and that’s the only thing we shared

Not being allowed to board my flight because I didn’t have proof of onward travel Well this seems to be an ongoing theme in my life – not being allowed to board a flight, see last March and last May. When I was checking my bag at JFK I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to board the plane since I didn’t have a return ticket or proof of onward travel. Obviously my own fault, I should’ve learned by now to at least look up if a country requires a return ticket before entering it on a one-way ticket. Again, stress that I didn’t need when I frantically tried to book a refundable ticket while discussing with the airline staff at the check-in counter. Luckily, the booking went through in time and I was handed a boarding pass.

Clipboard
Almost would’ve had to stay here! Not that I would’ve been too upset 😉

Losing stuff I don’t know how I could have possibly lost two of my most important items within two weeks of being on the road: my Canon charger (I left it plugged in a socket at the cabana after the break-in, with an expensive Canon battery in it. Luckily I have two spare batteries.) and my Kindle charger (also left plugged in somewhere). I also lost my favorite tank top (not my fault, the laundry lady lost it), and I’m sure there are some other things that I can’t remember now.

Challenges

Getting back into a travel work balance Having spent 10 weeks in a productive routine in New York before leaving for Colombia, I really struggled to get back into a work-and-travel state of mind. Plus: I just don’t seem to be lucky when it comes to finding accommodation with decent wifi. 4 out of 5 times the wi-fi is mediocre at best, and often doesn’t reach my room. Several of the hotels I stayed at closed their common areas at 8pm, which is when I usually start getting a few hours of work in! In the past couple of days, I’ve found myself walking around town in search of a ‘coffice’ two days in a row this week – one day, I went to five different places! The first one had wifi but no AC (not even a fan, and it’s 91F right now), the second one had wi-fi but no sockets, the third place was completely full, the fourth had AC but no wi-fi, and the fifth one was finally decent, except for the terrible music they were playing. I am tired of it.. I just want to start my work day without wasting time and energy finding an office.

And then there’s the temptation to ‘play’ all day instead of working when you travel with someone, and I am easily convinced to go out exploring instead of staring at my screen, yes, I admit it. I’ve gotten better at finding a balance, but it’s taken me a while to get back into working & traveling.

colombia january 2016 pics
Colombia might give me a headache with the lack of speedy wi-fi, but it does have its perks..

What’s next for me

I’ve got an exciting month ahead of me! I’ll finally leave Cartagena tomorrow, after extending my stay twice, and head back to Santa Marta, from where I’ll set off on the 5-day jungle trek to the Lost City, which is an archaeological site of an ancient city in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, making it 650 years older than Machu Picchu! I’m stoked for my first multi-day trek in a while.

After that, I’ll fly to Bogota to meet up with my friend Rease, and from there I’m not sure yet, but I’ll just go with the flow… Who knows where I’ll be writing my next update from. colombiaP.S. You can follow my travels in real time on Snapchat (user ID mariposa2711), see my travel updates on Facebook and daily photos of my trip on Instagram.

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The evolution of a nomad

The Evolution Of A Nomad 1

It’s been almost a year since I looked back on five years of full-time travel, and I thought it was time for an update on how my nomadic life has evolved in the past twelve months.

It’s been now over 2,000 days since I switched my London apartment for a life on the road, and quite frankly, I’m tired of being on the road constantly. Over 2,000 days of vagabonding – that’s even longer than I had an apartment in London, or anywhere else I’d lived before. When I started traveling in 2010, I thought it would be a one-year trip around the world. I even had a new employment contract ready for me to sign, and a job waiting for me upon return.. which I obviously never started. In the beginning, I thought I could travel forever, never getting tired of exploring new places, meeting new people, trying new foods. I had an insane amount of energy, my body fueled by new experiences and my mind stimulated by the ever changing scenery around me.

pacaya hike
Volcano hike after a full work day? Sure!

I had so much energy to work while traveling back then – just recently when I was researching for my current (and third) South America trip, I came across an old blog post written by my friend Erin of Never Ending Voyage, written shortly after meeting us, in which she says: ‘We were impressed with the Globetrotter Girls‘ work ethic when we met up with them last week in Panama. They get up early and work before a day of travel or sightseeing, then work late in the evening too.’ I wish this desirable work ethic would have lasted forever, but of course the longer you are on the move constantly, the more tiring it gets, and I have yet to meet another long-term traveler who doesn’t bitch about travel burn out at some point. And running a business out of your suitcase instead of an office isn’t easy. It isn’t impossible, but it comes with challenges that most business owners don’t have to face.

koh tao office
Offices like this one are rare, trust me

When I think of all the times that I found myself touring the coffee shops of a town in order to find a decent wi-fi connection.. A waste of my time and my energy, and I often get frustrated before even battling the painfully slow internet connection. Or all those times when I tried to send off an article that was due – or even worse: large files with high-res images – and failed, or tried to call someone on Skype on a sketchy connection. No one is going to show any sympathy for you when you try to blame it on the mediocre wi-fi in Nicaragua. It is hard to maintain a business when you’re traveling, but grow it? Let’s just say it takes a lot of discipline, and when you’re your own boss, it takes a lot of willpower to stick to deadlines and work routines. But still, for a few years, traveling the world was all I wanted to do, and I was willing to put up with the hassles. Traveling is addictive – the more places you visit, the more places you add to your travel wish list. Soon, places that you never imagined you’d see in your life, aren’t out of reach anymore. 

dani in malaysia
My first trip to South East Asia, 2011. I was beyond excited!

As the years went by, I became somewhat jaded though – travel couldn’t really excite me anymore, unless it was a place that was completely different from anything I knew, such as the Atacama Desert or Cambodia. I started to spend longer periods of time in the places I visited – a couple of months on a beach in Mexico, a couple of months in Santiago de Chile, a couple of months in New York.

I needed these breaks to recharge my batteries, to get itchy feet again. As might be expected, if you visit new places all the time, it turns into a routine rather than an adventure, and I started to miss the excitement about exploring a new place And sometimes, all I wanted to do was curl up on a sofa and do nothing for a few weeks, not deal with travel planning (which takes up so much time when you travel all the time), just relax.

chill time in new york
Couch time with my Kindle… don’t get enough of that! (And yes, that’s a bird on my head. Don’t ask.)

I’ve also missed having a steady circle of friends instead of the alternating nomadic friends or travelers who you hang out with on the road, parting ways after a few days or weeks together. I missed regular catch-ups with good friends, people who’ve known me longer than for a few short days.   manhattan from top of the rockCome to New York!’ was all I needed to hear to book a flight back to NYC in October when I was supposed to travel to Nepal. I listened to my heart – I just couldn’t get excited about my trip to Asia and the 3-week Annapurna Circuit, even though it is a trek that is definitely on my bucket list. But I was still tired from a six-week trip around Europe and knew I wouldn’t fully enjoy it. And I am so glad that I didn’t stubbornly stuck to my original plan, but followed my heart.

dani and lola
Home is where my bicycle is! I got my first bike in many years in NYC.

One of the reasons why I chose to return to New York was because it is the place where most of my friends are now that I’ve lost touch with most of my friends back in London after all these years. I was craving to spend Christmas and my birthday with people I loved instead of trekking in the Himalayas. It felt amazing to have a routine again, weekly drinks, dinner and movie dates, and last but not least a workout routine, because I’ve noticed that I start to feel unbalanced and moody pretty quickly if I don’t have a regular workout (in my case: running) routine, which is hard to maintain while traveling, especially in hot and humid places like South East Asia.  dani hidingBut it’s not only a solid workout routine that I’ve been missing – what I’m craving even more is having my own kitchen again. Sure, I’m fine living on fruits and nuts on a weeklong road trip, but never being fully in control of my diet stopped being fun after a while. Even when I rent an apartment, they are usually never stocked as well as a real, lived-in apartment – which is why I love housesitting so much.

birthday love
Home is where you don’t get one, but two cakes for your birthday!

Cooking and baking are two things I enjoy tremendously, and I cook and bake up a storm every time I have a well-equipped kitchen at my disposal. I throw dinner parties, try out new recipes, and bake just for the fun of gifting people cookies. But it’s not only about how much I enjoy it – I am also very picky with what I eat, and traveling as a vegetarian can be difficult. Last year in the Philippines, I lost nearly ten pounds simply because I couldn’t find anything but fruits on some days. If you want to eat healthy while traveling, that’s an even harder thing to accomplish, because most local specialties you want to try are not necessarily healthy.

avocado toast
Homemade and so good!

In Argentina, the only vegetarian option would often just be cheese pizza or cheese empanadas, and the salads there were some of the worst I’ve had anywhere in the world – try to eat healthy while traveling through Patagonia for two months. This might sound pathetic but right now, I really miss my daily green smoothies.

homemade food
I miss my blender and I miss trying out new recipes.. My next blog will be a food blog, that’s for sure.

I haven’t even talked about relationships yet, but naturally it is not easy to keep a romance going when you’re out gallivanting the globe for months at a time instead of showing that special someone that you care about them. In an ideal world you’d find someone who is also location independent and can pack up whenever they feel like it, but let’s be honest: most people have a traditional 9-to-5 job or are tied down by other things. Not a single person I’ve met last year (who wasn’t nomadic already) was in the position to simply pack up and go as they please, the way I can.

dani in thailand 2015
Winter Escape 2015: South East Asia

I had already felt tired and burned out going into 2015, and I knew that I needed to slow down. Did I succeed in slowing down in the past twelve months? If I’m honest, I would say only to some extent. While I succeeded in finding a base, my travel itineraries in between longer stints were still much too ambitious and tiring – like September, when I didn’t have a single day to myself all month, or February and April, when I spent too much time traveling instead of planning in a balanced work / travel schedule. In periods like those I wished I had a home to go back to just sit still for a while, but instead I kept going, because there was no place to go home to.

iceland dani photographingThere were several times in 2015 when I thought about giving up – when I nearly lost a freelance client because I didn’t have wi-fi on an island in the Philippines resulting in me missing a deadline, when I wasn’t allowed to board my flight (on two different occasions!), when my bank account began to dwindle away and my savings were eaten up by unforeseen expenses, or when I felt completely burned out after traveling too fast, taking on too many assignments at the same time.dani boracay sunsetThe past year has already seen a shift from long-term stints in one region to shorter trips and having a base in between. Three months in Asia were my longest trip in 2015, followed by three months in the U.S., during which I was trying to recover from island hopping around South East Asia. For the first time in years, I planned several shorter trips, like a week-long road trip through Iceland, or a week in Italy, instead of committing to a month or longer in one place, like I used to do. dani sabino canyon hikeI knew that I was ready to put down roots again when I had gotten so comfortable in my routine in New York, and having my own kitchen again (plus every kind of food that I could possibly want) that I started to dread my departure to South America – even the cold weather didn’t bother me, and I usually despise winter. But I’m not going to lie – arriving in Cartagena’s scorching heat was something I didn’t mind at all after getting pretty chilly on my runs in the park in New York in the weeks leading up to my departure. My ideal situation would be to still escape the winters, but have a base for the rest of the year.

dani in bahia concha
Winter Escape 2016: South America

I love traveling and I will always be a traveler (when I still lived in London I was able to travel somewhere every other month, thanks to a generous number of vacation days and public holidays), but the past year has been pretty rough, to be honest.

beach sunset otres beach
Rough life.. I know 😉 I am well aware that my complaints are completely arbitrary, comparing my life with the lives of my friends and family

Most people dream of leaving their jobs behind to travel the world, which is something I can’t recommend highly enough. But traveling the world forever with a constantly changing social circle, barely any belongings, and no place to call home? It might be for some, but it isn’t something I want to do forever. Now that I am back in South America, I sometimes look at the travelers I meet here and find myself envying them, thinking how nice it must be to just travel – without worrying about making money, just enjoying a year off. I think I might still do that at some point – save enough money to travel for a year, living off my savings.dani chiang mai 2015

Don’t get me wrong – I still love what I do, and I am grateful every single day for living this life, getting paid to write, seeing places that most people will never be able to visit. But there are drawbacks and nuisances, hurdles to overcome (things like taxes, health insurance and a mailing address, to name just a few things that give me headaches regularly) that aren’t fun in the long run. And my trusted backpack, which has been serving me well for six years, deserves a break, don’t you think?

dani brooklyn bridge park
I travel the world and the seven seas Everybody’s looking for something… …But I found a place to call home, finally.
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20 Favorite Travel Moments Of 2015

20 favorite travel moments

As this year is drawing to a close, I have been looking back at the past twelve months, the countries and cities I visited, the new friends I’ve made, the hurdles I had to overcome, the food I ate, the memories I made. Here’s a quick summary my travels in 2015:

  • 15 countries
  • 30 major cities
  • 70 different beds
  • 32 flights
  • 16 ferry rides

elepant nature park thailand daniAlmost all the ferry rides (with the exception of the overnight ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and back) and most of my flights were taken during my stint in South East Asia earlier this year – traveling in the Philippines, an island nation, upped this number quite a bit, and bouncing around some of Thailand’s beautiful islands also contributed to that number. In addition to boats and planes, I traveled in cars, buses, trains, jeepneys (the main shared transportation in the Philippines), tricycles, tuktuks, pickup trucks, on the back of a motorbike, in minivans, long-tail boats and Filipino fishing boats. Trying to remember all these places is not easy, and trying to pick only 20 favorites is even harder. I gave it a try though and am sharing my 20 most memorable travel moments of 2015 with you today:

20 Returning to California

I started my summer visit to the U.S. with a few days in L.A. and Santa Monica – my first visit to L.A. since 2010! I stayed in Santa Monica to be right by the beach and it was the best decision I could’ve made – it was worth it for these sunsets alone. Other highlights of the trip: the street art in West Hollywood, the Grammy Museum, cruising along the Pacific.santa monica sunset pier

19 Temple hopping in Chiang Mai

I spent nearly two months in Thailand this spring and it remains one of my favorite countries. The Buddhist temples, the food (!), the elephants, the night markets, the rice fields in the north, and the beaches in the south.. There’s so much to see in Thailand! I know I’ll be back many more times. chiang mai wat with buddha

18 A black sand beach littered with massive, blue chunks of ice

This was hands down one of the most remarkable moments of this year’s travels. It was my first trip to Iceland and seeing these icebergs, some floating in the ice cold Arctic water, some washed ashore, was a highlight of our road trip around the country. The icebergs are all pieces that have broken off of the nearby Jökulsarlon glacier, by the way.jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beach iceland

17 Visiting Hong Kong

I booked a flight to Hong Kong on a whim and I didn’t have many expectations. The more surprised I was when I fell in love with the city! I couldn’t get enough of Hong Kong and returned a few months later for another visit. The vibrant neighborhoods, the chaos in the markets, the mouthwatering food smells everywhere and the amazing eateries quickly turned Hong Kong into one of my all-time favorite destinations. Curious to see how Hong Kong surprised me? Read 12 Things That Surprised Me About Hong Kong.hong kong view from the peak5

16 The deserted beaches of Siquijor

I didn’t have this tiny island in the Philippines on my original itinerary, but my friend Carla recommended it to me in Manila and so I included it in my island hopping tour, trusting her advice. The minute I walked off the ferry pier and laid eyes on the turquoise waters I knew that the detour was going to be worth it. Siquijor was one of my favorite places in the Philippines! Read more about my time in Siquijor here: Searching for magic in mystical Siquijor.philippines siquijor

15 Rediscovering my love for London

It had been years since I spent time in the city I called home for three years until I left to travel the world in 2010. This year I finally spent some quality time in London, revisiting and introducing my friend Shannon to some of my favorite places around the city. London’s changed quite a bit over the past five years, but what hasn’t changed is how much I love the city.london

14 Hiking through hundreds of thousands giant Saguaro cacti

I’ve talked about my love for Southern Arizona so many times already, but it’s the one place that I keep going back to – I am planning my fifth trip to Tucson for next year, and I can’t wait to get back to the Sonoran Desert. This year, I was lucky enough to show a first-time visitor around Southern Arizona, giving me an excuse to revisit all the great National Parks and hiking trails, and explore some that I hadn’t been to before. tucson 2015

13 Spending part of the summer in Germany

It had been a while since my last summer in Germany and this year I arrived just in time for a heatwave. Which meant pool parties with my nephew and going to the lake with my nieces! And lots of al fresco dining in sidewalk cafes everywhere I went, like my hometown of Erfurt which is pictured here. Getting to spend quality time with my family whenever I want is one of the best things about being location independent.erfurt germany

12 Cycling along dusty dirt roads in Cambodia

My rental bike was rickety, rusty and old, it was unbelievably hot and humid, but I had one of the best days of the entire year that day. First of all, I love Cambodia and while my return this year was not planned at all, I ended up not wanting to leave… Second, that day on the bike, cycling through rice fields and small villages, passing families on motorbikes and school girls on bicycles, was such a great way to absorb Cambodian country life and I was blown away by how friendly and welcoming everyone is, waving at me excitedly as they were passing me, yelling Hello from across the street, or just giving me a big smile. Not only one of my favorite countries I visited this year, but in all of my travels!cambodia

11 A beach vacation in Koh Tao

When I returned to Thailand this year I wanted to make sure to not only revisit old favorites but to explore places I hadn’t been to before. The tiny island of Koh Tao in the Gulf Of Thailand was one of them. It was the perfect beach vacation. I had the right person with me to make it truly special and we enjoyed long beach sessions, a daily sunset watching ritual, we cruised all over the island in an ATV, ate delicious food, took a snorkeling trip, watched the fire dancers on the beach at night. I will be back for sure.
koh tao thailand

10 Exploring the Lombardy region in northern Italy

It was my first visit to Italy (one of my all time favorite countries in the world!) in four years, and this time around I explored Lombardy, a region I hadn’t paid much attention to on earlier trips to Italy (with the exception of a short trip to Milan). I loved the places I visited – Bergamo, Lake Garda and Brescia (pictured) and all the delicious food I stuffed my face with! Want to see more pictures of Lombardy? Check out: Why You Need To Visit Lombardy, In 20 Photos.brescia italy

09 Watching the sunset over the Bosporus in Istanbul

My time in Istanbul was short, but sweet. I hadn’t been there in years, even though I love the city, and in previous visits had never made it to the Asian side. This year, I got to know Kadikoy (on the Asian side), eat so much yummy Turkish food (and baklava of course!) and saw some spots off the beaten tourist path, all thanks to KatrinkaAbroad. My short visit was a good reminder that I should revisit places that I love more often, and a longer stint in Istanbul would be amazing.
istanbul sunset birds

08 Stopping in Amsterdam on my way to London

Amsterdam was a spontaneous addition to my European train trip in September, and I’m so glad that I decided to stop there for a quick visit (hadn’t been there since 2000!) I was blessed with gorgeous late summer weather, strolled along the canals for hours without a plan or a map, discovered corners of the city I’d never seen before and took a gazillion photos. Definitely one of Europe’s most picturesque cities.amsterdam canal

07 My fall foliage road trip to the Catskills

We didn’t have much of a plan, the only thing we had on our agenda was to see the beautiful fall colors and to leave the city for a few days. We went on hikes, explored little towns in the Hudson Valley, took scenic byways through colorful forests showing off their bright yellow, orange and red leaves, we played in the leaves and loved every minute of it. You can see more fall colors here: Colorful New York – A fall foliage road trip.
dani in leaves ny

06 A whirlwind trip to Tel Aviv

My rather spontaneous trip to Tel Aviv in October feels almost like a dream now, it came and went so fast! It was my second trip to Tel Aviv and everything was just right: great company, so much good food, a wild night out, beach time, awesome street art in the Florentine neighborhood where I stayed, oh and there was that film crew that followed us around most of the time – you can see more of my trip to Tel Aviv here: bit.ly/TLV-69 or read how I fell in love with the city when I first visited Israel in 2014: My short love affair with Tel Aviv.tel aviv jaffa view

05 Finding paradise in Thailand

I got really frustrated when I was looking for the picture perfect secluded beach in the Andaman Sea but everywhere we went was touristy or built up with hotels. That was until we stumbled upon Koh Poda, a tiny island off the coast of Ao Nang near Krabi. While there were quite a few tourists near the boat docking area, we just needed to walk down the beach a few hundred meters to find ourselves completely alone on a pristine beach with crystal clear water. It was heavenly – a true tropical paradise! You can marvel at more Koh Poda photos here: Please don’t go to.. Koh Poda.thailand koh poda

04 All the little moments that made my love for Berlin grow even more…

I ended up visiting Berlin five times this year and I think I could come up with 20 favorite travel moments in Berlin alone! There were too many great moments to list them all here but memorable were all the meet ups with other travelers, showing several friends around the city (I have to thank Nicky for the photo below!), the Festival Of Lights, the amazing Lebanese food on Sonnenallee, Mauerpark karaoke on a hot and sunny Sunday in August, lazy afternoons in beer gardens, Tempelhof airfield sunsets, a bar crawl and a street art your. Love this city so much! berlin wall dani

03 Chasing waterfalls in Iceland

It was a head-on-head between Iceland and another country (#02 on this list!) for the title of ‘best new destination I visited in 2015’. I think it’s a tie, to be honest, because Iceland was spectacular! Road tripping around Iceland’s ring road with Rease was a highlight of 2015. I don’t know how many times each day we pulled over on the side of the road to photograph yet another stunning waterfall, geysers or lava fields, and the scenery was different every day. One day we drove though a barren landscape that felt like the moon, the next day we drove along beautiful fjords, or glaciers galore! Such a diverse country, considering his small it is. Iceland is magical and if you go, I highly recommend road tripping around country. iceland skogafoss waterfall

02 Visiting the picture perfect White Beach in Boracay

Boracay is probably the most popular island in the Philippines, and it’s popular for a reason: the fabulous White Beach, which stretches for miles. It was not just the beach that made my time in Boracay perfect – it was also the people I met there, the wild nights out, the breathtaking sunsets, the vacation feeling that I hadn’t felt in so long. I felt so stressed and burned out when I arrived on the island, but I left Boracay feeling relaxed and with a smile on my face. You can read more about my time in Boracay here: Debauchery in paradise – Letting loose in Boracay.boracay white beach

01 Every single moment spent in New York City!

You didn’t think I wouldn’t include New York City in my list of favorite travel moments, did you? 😉 This was the second year in a row that I spent the most time of the year in NYC, and of course there’s a reason why I keep coming back to the Big Apple. There’s just no other city in the world that feels so vibrant and diverse, that allows me to travel to another country with just a short subway ride (not literally, of course), that has thousands (literally!) of food places for me to work my way through, that is so rich in culture and has more things to do than I could ever get around to doing – which is important for someone like me who can’t sit still. After living in eight different neighborhoods all over the city, I feel more at home here now than ever before. And after years of feeling unsettled, it feels good to have a place again that feels like home. I hope I’ll be able to continue to spend time here, making it a base in between trips, like my upcoming trip to South America! My 2016 travels are starting with the #1 destination on my travel wish list for next year!brooklyn bridge at night 2015

 Amazing travels – amazing year?

A quick word on the side of 2015 that isn’t shown here: everything that went wrong! I chose to share my favorite travel moments, but believe me, this year wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I experienced some setbacks, I was completely overwhelmed with my workload at times, I was on the verge of a burnout in the summer, and I also experienced some difficulties on the road – like not being allowed to board a flight TWICE, almost running out of money at some point, and my personal life (read: love life) hasn’t always been easy either. I just thought I should mention this because even though I’m living my dream of a life of travel it doesn’t mean that my life is perfect.

Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks so much for being part of my journey! happy new year

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My 2016 Travel Wishlist

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As the year is drawing to a close, and I am look back at my travels over the past twelve months, it is time to make travel plans for 2016! A good friend of mine and I were supposed to travel together this year, but our plans fell through as my travel plans, as so often, changed. When we were talking about possible plans to travel together next year, she asked me ‘What are your Top Five destinations now?’ and it got my thinking: which places are high on my travel wishlist? And to which of those will I travel next year? I’d love to hear what you think of my wishlist, and which places you think I should definitely visit next year – please share your thoughts in the comments below – and also the places that are high on your travel wishlist.dani cameraSo without further ado – my travel wishlist for 2016:

1 Colombia

I’m starting with this one, because that’s where I’ll be starting my travels next month, but I don’t think you know how long I’ve been wanting to visit Colombia. It was one of the places I was most excited about to get to when I started traveling in 2010, making my way down from the US through Mexico to Central America. When I arrived in Panama, I could almost see Colombia on the other side of the Darien Gap, but I never managed to get there, as even back then, an unexpected change in plans and a summer in Europe ended my trip through Latin America – at least temporarily. But when I finally set foot on the South American continent, I started in the south, and the furthest north I made it was Peru. So I am ecstatic to finally get there – with a delay of only five years 😉 I can’t wait to explore the Caribbean coast of Colombia, about which I’ve heard great things, the beautiful cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings in Cartagena, and hopefully hike the 5-day trek to the Ciudad Perdida, the forgotten ancient city in the jungle.

2 Vietnam

I can’t believe that I spent nearly 10 months in South East Asia and never made it to Vietnam. This is something that has to be rectified asap – not only to fill the gap in my travel map, but also because I have heard nothing but good things about the country, which is why I want to finally travel around Vietnam. I am obsessed with Vietnamese food, which is another reason why I’m dying to get to Vietnam, but in addition to the delicious food, I can’t wait to see the breathtaking limestone cliffs in Halong Bay in the north, the white sand dunes in Mui Ne in the south, and everything in between. The country is filled with bustling markets, a coastline of over 2,000 miles lined with beaches, excellent trekking in the mountains of Sapa in the northwest, and I have no doubt that I’ll fall hard for Vietnam when I finally get there. Vietnam

3 South Africa

I have to be honest here – South Africa was never really on my radar – until a lot of travel bloggers whose blogs I read started to go to South Africa, posting gorgeous photos of the Garden Route that follows the southeastern coast of the country. Many of my friends who have been to South Africa mention Cape Town as one of their absolute favorite cities in the world, and of course I’d love to go on a wildlife safari in the massive Kruger National Park.

4 Morocco

Staying on the African continent, Morocco is a country I’ve been wanting to visit ever since watching the indie movie Hideous Kinky with Kate Winslet nearly 20 years ago, in which she travels around Morocco with her two young daughters. Taking the train to Marrakesh, sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert, road tripping through the spectacular Atlas Mountains, and taking in fifty shades of blue in the city of Chefchaouen (take a look for yourself in this beautiful CNN photo essay). If I can make this finally happen in 2016, it would be one of my longest travel dreams come true!

In Morocco - Amazing Erg Chebbi5 The Baltics

Another spot in the world that appeared on my radar thanks to fellow travel bloggers and travelers who I follow on Instagram. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia look wonderful in photos, and all three capitals, seem like picture perfect with medieval town centers, historic buildings and cobble stone streets. Plus, these three countries are still very cheap to travel in, so I should take advantage of that and visit them while they’re still not on the main tourist trail in Europe.

6 Northern India

When I visited India in 2012, I never made it further north than Goa, which is a shame, since most of India’s most striking provinces and attractions are north of Goa’s pristine beaches. High on my list of places to see: the desert of Rajasthan, the Golden City of Jaisalmer, the Ghats of Varanasi, the tea country around Darjeeling, and the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Then there’s the Golden City of Jaipur, and the Taj Mahal of course – the list of places I want to see in India is so long that I could spend the better part of the year there and still not see it all! dani with indian family in hampi

7 Nepal

I was seriously bummed out when I had to cancel my trip to Nepal last month – trekking three weeks through the Himalayas along the stunningly beautiful Annapurna Circuit (check out some pictures in this Washington Post article) was something I’d been looking forward to ever since my five-day trek through Peru’s Andes Mountains in early 2014. If I can make it to Nepal next year, that would definitely be a highlight of my 2016 travels.

8 Myanmar

Another country that has been on my travel wish list for a long time – and I had actually planned to visit Myanmar this year but then decided to go to the Philippines instead (a decision I do NOT regret at all!). The golden Shwedagon Paya stupa in Yangon, the ancient city of Bagan, Inle Lake, the colorful markets – I hope that I will finally make it to Myanmar next year. Myanmar: Bagan

9 Cuba

In 2010, I almost went to Cuba, but traveling with my girlfriend at the time who was hesitant about entering the country (we would have gone from Cancun, Mexico) because she was not allowed to travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen, made us eventually decide against hopping over to Cuba, which is why I still haven’t made it there. I think Cuba is likely to happen next year, and I can’t wait to step back in time in Havana, explore the charming colonial town of Trinidad and enjoy some of the island’s Caribbean beaches

10 Mongolia

I don’t think there’s any other country as fascinating as Mongolia with its nomadic culture and families still living in yurts, its rugged wilderness with vast steppes and imposing mountain peaks, and big open skies. It’s not necessarily solo female traveler friendly, but luckily it’s high on my friend’s travel wish list too, and it would be an unforgettable travel experience for sure. Sunset at Tolbo Nuur, Mongolia

Now it’s your turn – which countries are on your travel wishlist for 2016?

Photo credit: All images used under Flickr’s Creative Commons license. Vietnam by M M; Morocco by Patrick Wuske; Myanmar by Patrik M Loeff; Mongolia by Andrew Kudrin
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Life Lately And Upcoming Travels: November 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me.

Where I’ve been

I started the month in Germany, where I hugged my family goodbye and hopped on a plane to New York. The rest of the month was spent between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and a few days upstate – first for my fall foliage road trip and then again for Thanksgiving.New York November 2015

What I’ve been up to

Returning to New York truly felt like coming home – and as I was typing these words I thought to myself ‘Haven’t I said that before?’, and a quick glance through my June round-up revealed that I had indeed said that before – when I came back to New York in June. So, it seems like I’ve finally found a place that I can call home.. well, it is definitely the place I feel the most at home, and know better than any other place in the world. You have no idea how good it feels to finally have a place to (sort of) come home to, after so many years on the road. One reason why I came here was because I wanted to spend my birthday with people I loved, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I’ve made to cancel my Nepal trip (for now!) – I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now. new york fun novemberOf course I couldn’t sit still this month – and the glorious weather, a for New York untypically warm November, helped greatly in getting me away from my desk. I explored a few places I hadn’t been to yet, like the gorgeous Coney Island Creek Beach, went to the Museum Of Feelings, saw The Book Of Mormon on Broadway, saw an awesome hip hop concert (more on that below), ate sooooo well (lots of cake! Including home-made cake… I was baking up a storm in Germany and it seems like I can’t stop.. Next up are Christmas cookies!), went to see some new street art in Harlem and spent time in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Williamsburg. I finally visited the Whitney Museum, which I’d never gotten around to during the summer, I spent a lot of time in Central Park photographing the fall colors, and I loved that thanks to the lack of rain I was able to go running nearly every day. And then there was the amazing fall foliage road trip, of course, but more on that below.
November 2015 New York City

Highlights

Fall foliage road trip

I had planned this Upstate New York fall getaway for weeks, and I was blessed with beautiful weather during my road trip to the Catskills. I am officially in love with autumn! My road trip couldn’t have gone better – I hiked up to the top of a mountain, I walked across the Hudson River, hiked to a waterfall, had fabulous food, saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and took hundreds of photos of the colorful fall leaves. Fall Foliage Road TripWinning plane tickets to Singapore

Shortly after arriving in New York, I attended a Travel Massive, which is a meet-up where travel addicts and travel industry get together to mingle and connect with like-minded people (they’re held in several cities around the world- check out here if your city has one and if so, sign up for it.. It’s free!), usually sponsored by a travel company. And this is how I ended up with two return tickets from New York to Singapore on Singapore Airlines – the sponsor of the NYC Travel Massive in November, who gave away this amazing price. It was an early birthday present for sure.

Seeing the northern lights again

On my flight to New York, the pilot made an announcement mid-flight: ‘If you’re sitting on the right side of the plane, look outside. We are having excellent visibility and can see the northern lights.‘ I was lucky here too, having a window seat on the right side of the plane, and marveled at the dancing green lights outside in the night sky. After seeing them from the ground in Iceland in September, this was my second time seeing them, and I can’t describe how special it feels to watch this phenomenon.

Awesome housesits

I am typing this in my 38th floor luxurious apartment overlooking Midtown Manhattan, where I am bird sitting (this is a first!) until I move to Brooklyn, where I scored another housesit following this one. Both housesits came through TrustedHousesitters – while I’m always bitching about the pricey membership of that website, it surely does pay off, though. (If you’re interested in housesitting in New York, I am sharing some tips in this article: Adventures in Housesitting in New York City, and you’ll get 20% off a TrustedHousesitters membership if you sign up through my referral link here).

Housesitting perks New York City
Spot the bird! 🙂

I also had to turn down THREE amazing housesits over the Holidays here in New York because I’d already committed to a housesit for a former client. If you want a housesit in NYC over Christmas and New Years, let me know 😉

My first American Thanksgiving

I’ve spent so much time in the U.S. over the past few years, but somehow I never happened to be around for Thanksgiving.. Until now! I was lucky enough to be invited for a traditional family Thanksgiving, including a giant turkey, and while this picky vegetarian couldn’t join the turkey eating fun, I actually got my own ice cream cake turkey in honor of my birthday – absolutely amazing! (And I knew that I was in the right place when my friend leaned over and whispered in my ear: ‘You know this day is all about feeling.. Incredibly stuffed.. Right?’. A Holiday dedicated to eating my face off?! I’m in!)

My birthday

I’m not much of a birthday person (the first time I got an actual birthday cake was last year!) but this year I celebrated all week long, it seemed. I started my birthday week with an awesome hip hop show in a tiny club in New York (Angel Haze, for those who are interested.. She’s amazing!), followed by seeing The Book Of Mormon on Broadway. I’d tried the ticket lottery two times and third time’s a charm was definitely true here when I won two VIP box tickets. If you’re not familiar with the Broadway ticket lottery: several shows hold a ticket lottery every day during which you can win tickets to the show for a fraction of the normal prize. (Here is a list of plays and the times of each of their lotteries). I paid $32 for a VIP box ticket that normally goes for $189!! This is even better than the TKTS discount tickets booths in Times Square but of course you’re not guaranteed to win if you decide to try the lottery. I also treated myself to a visit to the Museum Of Feelings, taking half a day off work on a sunny day, and it was such a good reminder of how much I love the flexibility my lifestyle gives me. Yes, I might have worked all day on my birthday on a big project I needed to finish, but I was able to take half a day off when I thought it was too nice out to waste the afternoon in front of my laptop.birthday

Lowlights

Breaking down with the car on a highway

I broke down with the car on the highway … in Germany On my last day in Germany, I was going from Berlin to Leipzig to see my brother and my nieces, and the car broke down on the highway. If you know German autobahns, you know how fast cars are going there, which means I was terrified waiting for time tow truck on the side of the road while cars and lorries were whizzing by me at over 100 miles per hour. It didn’t help that my cell phone was running out of battery in that very moment… to make a long story short: I was towed eventually, and luckily I wasn’t alone in the car while waiting in the dark to be ‘rescued’. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor nuisance, however, and once I got to New York, things went extremely well – I can’t believe there wasn’t a single incident since I got to the States.

What’s new with Globetrottergirls

Even though I had such a fun-filled month, I also worked my b*tt off. I’ve still got a ton of content from my latest trips to share with you, and I’ve got to see a first preview of the video footage shot in Tel Aviv last month (I don’t hate myself on camera!). I also wrote several travel guides and am happy to stay put for a while to be able to edit video footage, and to sift through the thousands of photos I’ve taken this year that I still want to share them with you.New York November

What’s next for me

I have another month in New York before I get ready for my departure to warmer regions, and I am planning to fully indulge in holiday cheesiness. Ice skating, marveling at the Christmas window displays in 5th Avenue, checking out the Christmas markets, making Christmas cookies, cooking a big Christmas dinner, and ringing in the New Year with friends. I don’t know what it is about New York but this seems to be the only place where I don’t ever itch to travel somewhere else. This might change as soon as temperatures drop to uncomfortably chilly levels, so we’ll see how I feel a month from now about leaving New York.new york autumn 2015

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Life Lately And Upcoming Travels: October 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me.

This month was a rather slow month of travel – a much needed break after hitting five countries in September – but coming to think about it I still managed to visit five cities in October (Tel Aviv in Israel and Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and Erfurt in Germany).October 2015 travels germany israel

What I’ve been up to

I started the month in Munich where I went to Oktoberfest, then I returned to Tel Aviv this month for some fun in the sun, spent a few days in Berlin to visit friends and go to the Festival Of Lights, and the rest of the month was spent with my family.   For the most part, I spent October in Germany, visiting family and friends, planning my next travels and reflecting on the past few months, and catching up on work. If you read my last Life Lately post, you might remember that I had to make a decision if I should go ahead with my longstanding plans of traveling to Nepal or not. Well let me tell you that I’m writing this NOT in Kathmandu, where I was supposed to touch down on 28 October. When the 28th rolled around, I was more than relieved that I didn’t go – with my current travel fatigue, I’m just not ready for another big trip yet. I made the right decision. But more on that later. October 2015 travels

Highlights of the month

Returning to Tel Aviv
My return to Israel was a spontaneous addition to my fall travel plans, a trip during which I was supposed to find out if it’s possible to visit Tel Aviv on a small budget and still have fun. I left Berlin in 13C rainy fall weather and got off the plane at sunny 27C – which felt glorious. Beach time, bar hopping, a street art tour and lots of good food made this trip a highlight of the month, plus I was there with two awesome fellow bloggers – Adam and Eve. (I just realized how funny this sounds. Adam & Eve!)

I immediately wanted to extend my stay but I had an important appointment in Berlin the next week – I really hope that a month in Tel Aviv is going to happen some time in the near future!Tel Aviv 2015Festival Of Lights in Berlin  

The Festival Of Lights had been on my travel wish list for a while and I was happy when my plans for a Berlin visit aligned with the festival this year. The Festival itself, during which light and video installations are projected onto Berlin’s major landmarks and historic buildings, was absolutely incredible, but I also had a fantastic time in Berlin again, eating my way through new restaurants, go bar hopping and craft brew sipping, meeting up with old and new friends, and simply enjoy a few crisp fall days in Berlin. Festival of lights berlin

Quality time with my sister

My sister is probably the most important person in my life and not a day goes by without us messaging each other. We often only get to talk via lengthy voice mails, which is why I cherished every second of quality sister time I had with her this month, our shared cooking and baking sessions, dinners and brunches, gossip time and laughs. Nobody knows me the way she knows me, and after moving around for such a long time with frequently changing travel buddies, it felt good to be able to just be standing still and be with someone who truly knows me. And because I knew that I wouldn’t be seeing my sister, brother, nephew and nieces for a very long time, I made sure to spend a good amount of time with everyone. I love being an auntie and adore these three little munchkins so much – and my siblings took full advantage of this, which means I babysat a lot this month. Oh and from the photos below you might be able to tell that I am obsessed crazy in love with my sister’s dog.Family Fun

What went well

 Work routine & work out routine  

I finally got to catch up on work – something that definitely suffered during my hectic travels in September. So this was my main priority this month, but I still got plenty more to do. I also got back into a regular workout routine which was fantastic (except for that run in the snow… yes, SNOW!) October workouts

My first on-camera project

I also completed my first on-camera project this month – my trip to Israel was filmed to make a short promo video about budget travel to Tel Aviv. While I didn’t think twice and immediately jumped at the chance when I was tapped for the project, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how comfortable I’d be in front of a camera. But sometimes you gotta push yourself to leave your comfort zone, right? And it turned out that I had a blast with the film crew following us around and wasn’t camera shy.

Carry-on travel – this time it went well!

Speaking of my trip to Israel – after vowing only last month not to travel with carry-on only ever again, I ended up traveling to Israel with carry-on! This time it was easy though because I went for just a few days and I packed only light summer clothes. I knew it would save me tons of time at the airport (more on that below in ‘what went wrong’).

A shiny new visa in my passport

And last but not least – and this was the most emotional moment of the month – I was finally able to fit in an in-person appointment at the American Embassy in Berlin, where I had applied for a visa that allows me to spend more time in the States than the regular 90-day tourist visa. Not only did I never seem to have enough time to leave my passport at the Embassy in between trips since I got to Europe, but I also didn’t know if I would qualify for it, which put quite a bit of stress on me. But after a tearful goodbye to New York this summer, when I was absolutely not ready to leave, I knew I had to finally apply for it. And it was approved!october 2015 update

What went wrong

Airport security annoyances  

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Thanks for putting my stuff back where you took it from!!

Oh Israel. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport is known for its extreme security measures, and travelers are advised to arrive 3 – 4 hours prior to their flight departures. I wanted to be safe and decided to head to the airport 3 hours before my flight, even though I had only brought a small carry-on duffel bag. And was I glad I did – I ended up having to go through a lengthy inspection (having every single nook and cranny in my bag searched, including my undies, feminine products and electronics), was left waiting and had to endure an additional questioning – that’s all I’m gonna say about it but you can read more about Ben Gurion’s questionable procedures, humiliations and aggressive questioning in this article: Stern security at Ben-Gurion Airport questioned.

Packing hassle

After a number of shorter trips with a small duffel bag rather than my giant backpack over the past few months I was faced with packing my big ‘pack again this month – and for the first time ever, I had to fit in clothes for all four seasons. I was completely stressed out by this challenge, and ended up not fitting everything, but let’s see how far I get with the stuff I managed to pack. I am definitely getting tired of living out of a backpack and being limited to two pairs of jeans and one jacket.

What’s new with Globetrottergirls.com

While I have a giant to-do-list and a number of projects that I’ve been contemplating for over a year (!!) now, I can barely keep up with my day-to-day business duties – I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before. Looking back at the year so far, I noticed that I had a great year of travel, but business-wise, I’m not where I want to be and where I could be. And that’s why I decided to sit still and catch up on work for a couple of months instead of keep going. I canceled my trip to Nepal – a week of rafting followed by hiking the Annapurna Circuit for three weeks would have been amazing, no doubt, but I have too many outstanding client commitments to be able to fully enjoy a trip like this (mostly offline). And let’s not forget that I still have a gazillion travel stories sitting in my drafts that I have yet to share with you, videos that need to be edited, and lots of other business-related stuff I need to deal with.

digital nomad office
There’s gonna be a lot of this in November…

What’s next for me

Once I made the decision to take a little travel break it was time to decide where I wanted to do that. There was only one place in the world I wanted to be – New York City. So I am now en route to my favorite city in the world and I’m excited for my first holiday season in NYC – complete with ice skating in Bryant Park, working my way through this list of cozy bars with fireplaces, see a Broadway show and do all the other indoor things that I keep putting off during the summer months when it’s too nice out to spend time inside. So while I’m listening to my heart right now, I also know that even with lots of awesome stuff going on in New York all year round, it’ll get too cold for me at some point, and I’ll be heading to the beach – to Colombia’s fine Caribbean beaches, to be precise. Yes, after a 2-year hiatus I am ready to return to South America!

But back to the immediate future – to be honest, I won’t be sitting still right away when I get to the States, but I’ll be fulfilling a travel dream that I didn’t get to realize last fall: a getaway to a cabin upstate, to take in the fall foliage before the leaves are gone for this year, and I am looking at a weekend getaway in late November as a treat for my birthday.fall in New York

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Life lately and upcoming travels: September 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, what’s new with Globetrottergirls.com and what’s next for me.

What I’ve been up to

What a busy month! I would almost say that this was the busiest travel month of the year so far, but then I remembered my how I started the year by visiting five countries in January, island hopping around the Philippines in February, bouncing around Thailand in March to show someone special around the country, and a lot of traveling in April, including stressing out over my visa, and never finding time to properly relax over the summer… no wonder that I am exhausted. Which is why I am not sure if I should go ahead with my upcoming travel plans, but more on that later.

Back to what I’ve been up to in September. You might remember that I was about to set off on a month-long Euro trip when I wrote my last update in Berlin. Since then, I’ve been to Amsterdam, London, Iceland, London again, Germany, Italy and now on my way from Venice to Oktoberfest in Munich. I left Berlin in 86F (30C) heat, sweat was dripping off me, and I should’ve cherished that moment much more than I did because now I know that this was the hottest I’d be for a while. Arriving in London at a chilly 54F (13C) was already a shock to my system and I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive Iceland.September TravelsLuckily Iceland, just a short 2.5 hour plane ride from London, wasn’t really any colder than London (shocking!). I road tripped around the country for a week with my friend Rease, which turned out to be the highlight of the month – see more on that below. After I dropped the car off at the airport again, I flew back to London where I had another busy day catching up with old friends and a business meeting before heading back to Germany for my sister’s 30th birthday. I spent a couple of days baking and cooking for her big birthday bash and before I had any time to recover I was already on a train again – this time to Italy.

The 3am wake-up call for my long train ride to Milan was well worth it, because the train journey across Switzerland was one of the most scenic ones I’ve ever taken. Using Milan as a base, I explored the Lombardy region for a week with some fellow bloggers as part of the Blogville campaign, which aims to promote this underrated region of northern Italy. Knowing that I was just a two-hour train ride from Venice, without a doubt one of the prettiest cities in the world, I couldn’t resist spending a couple of nights there before heading to Munich for Oktoberfest.September Travels1

Highlights of the month

Road tripping around Iceland
Iceland was magical – definitely one of my favorite trips this year! It was a rather spontaneous decision to join Rease when she asked me – I looked up airfare and when I saw that a flight from London to Reykjavik was only 60, I didn’t think twice. I’ve seen so many beautiful images of Iceland pop up on other travel blogs over the past few years that this little island in the Atlantic Ocean worked its way higher and higher on my travel wish list – yes, I still read travel blogs for inspiration and have added quite a few destinations to my wish list because of blog posts… like Boracay, South Africa (yet to happen!), or Myanmar. We drove the Ring Road around the entire country, stopping along the way for geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers and glacier lagoons, black sand beaches, scenic views AND the northern lights! In short: it was glorious! I am currently in the process of sorting through my 1,500+ photos and video footage to show you my Iceland highlights.. hopefully next week. Until then, check out my Iceland Photo Album on Facebook to which I am still adding new photos regularly.IcelandTraveling by train I’ve always loved train travel and have been riding trains frequently since my grandma took me on them when I was a little child (he was a train driver his entire life and loved being on trains) and especially in Europe, trains are amazing. Efficient, super fast, reliable and most of all: sooo comfortable. I used an Interrail Global Pass which allowed me to travel in 28 countries for 30 days – I wish I would have time to travel to all of them, basically spending an entire month on trains. That’s how much I love train travel! Maybe next year?Interrail Trip

Returning to Amsterdam
I added a day in Amsterdam to my itinerary on a whim, since it was on the way from Berlin to London anyway and I haven’t been there in years. When I still lived in Europe, I would hop on flights or trains for weekend getaways in Amsterdam, Paris, Edinburgh, Barcelona or Prague all the time, but since I haven’t been spending a lot of time in Europe in recent years, I felt like I should take advantage of my rail pass and re-visit this scenic city. And I am glad I did because my day spent strolling along the canals and rediscovering Amsterdam ended up being a highlight of this month’s travels.AmsterdamSpending time in London When I moved to London for the first time in 2005, I fell in love with the city immediately and knew I wanted to live there. A year later, I moved to England for university and after finishing my degree in May 2007, I moved back to London right away. I loved my time there, even though the grayness and the lack of proper summers wore me down a bit in the end, but I would have never thought that leaving in 2010 to go travel the world would mean I wouldn’t be spending any time in London for nearly five years! Other than a short layover last November I somehow never made it back, and this was the first longer visit in nearly 5.5 years.

This time around, I spent a week in London catching up with my friend Shannon and showing her some of my favorite spots around town, and after being terribly cold for the first five days, just when I thought that this was a good reminder of what living in England was like and vouching not to move back to London, the sun came out and we had a beautiful late summer weekend which we spent between Camden and Notting Hill. Then of course I wanted to move right back there – and it still is a viable option, just not now. I loved seeing how the city has changed since I left; I felt like in the short time I spent there I didn’t even scratch the surface!London

Returning to Venice
Another successful return! How could I not mention Venice as a highlight? I was excited to return after many many years and to see that the city is just as breathtaking as I remembered it! I also wasn’t sure if I would fall for its magic again after having traveled to so many place all over the world since I was there last – I know that I’ve become somewhat jaded and hard to impress but Venice was able to enchant me. And that’s even despite the fact that I had to battle tourist crowds, but I found that once you moved away from the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco you could still find plenty of streets, canals and piazzas that were completely deserted.Venice collage

What went well

I had a few hiccups this month, but other than that I would say everything went well. And I am happy that after a year filled with visa hassle, missed flights and an emotional turmoil I am starting to get my groove back. There were quite a few things that could have gone wrong this month – like needing to replace my laptop (see below), but I was lucky. I drove accident-free in Iceland, I had pleasant experiences on all of my train rides (except for one majorly delayed train in Germany), I didn’t lose any valuables when I was pick-pocketed in Milan (see below) and I didn’t have a single travel experience that I didn’t enjoy… wait, there was one rainy day in Bergamo, Italy… but do I really want to complain about that? 😉

southern iceland dani car
Driving 2,000 kilometers around Iceland on narrow, winding mountain roads, sometimes unpaved? Check.

As for last month’s goal to get more sleep in September, I am happy to report that I indeed managed to get more sleep this month, didn’t have a single 2-hour sleep night and averaged 6 to 7 hours (still not enough). I am still dreaming about a 10-hour sleep night, followed by a lay-in during which I binge watch Narcos. I am hopeful that this day will come.

What went wrong

It seems like there were quite a few things that went wrong but I’d like to say that in the grand scheme of things, they were all minor annoyances.

I almost killed my laptop
I was taking notes on our day in Iceland when somehow I managed to knock over my water bottle and it spilled all over my laptop. My trusted Acer laptop shut down immediately and when the black screen stared back at me I thought that was it. I did react fast though, cleaned off the water and put the laptop upside down and open on the hot radiator in our room to dry it off – and miraculously, it turned back on a couple of hours later, a bit confused still, but then it worked just fine! I was lucky, once again!

hot tub fun with rease
Having a beer in our boat-shaped hot tub seemed the only reasonable thing to do while I was waiting for my laptop to dry off.

Traveling with carry-on only Ah, me and carry-on only.. Two things that don’t go well together. I know several nomads who travel indefinitely with only carry-on luggage, and while I admire them, I know that I’ll never be able to do what they do (and quite frankly: I don’t know how they do it!). I just like having options and not just a few outfits – this is my life after all, not just a short trip – and not being limited by 100ml rules, with my contact lens solution for example, of which a small bottle barely lasts a week. I knew I would be traveling for 3.5 weeks in between seeing my friend in Berlin last month and going back to Germany for my sister’s birthday this month, and tried to travel with carry-on only for that short time – but even for 3.5 weeks I felt extremely restricted, and when I flew out of London Gatwick I had to get rid of half of my liquids (body spray, toothpaste, mascara, hand sanitizer, and a few other things) because I was only allowed one Ziploc bag for all my liquids, even though I had specifically bought small bottles only, but they filled up two see-through bags instead of one which is apparently not acceptable for London Gatwick’s airport security. (On my flight back from Reykjavik I didn’t even need to separate my liquids from the rest of the stuff, so wth?!). This whole experience was not pleasant at all, and even though it was nice to travel light for once and not with my giant backpack I won’t do the carry-on only thing again anytime soon.

carry on vs backpack
My carry-on duffel bag vs. the giant backpack (plus carry-on!) I usually carry

I was pick-pocketed At least that’s what I think happened when I came home from our last dinner in Milan and realized I didn’t have my wallet anymore. Luckily I’ve separated my credit cards from my cash ever since I started traveling full-time, and while it was annoying to lose the 50 Euros I had just taken out of the ATM, it could have been a lot worse.

Lack of an exercise routine
I didn’t get to go running enough and I ate too much pizza in Italy – poor me, I know 😉 But like I’ve said in previous round-ups, whenever my running routine gets messed up I can feel how I get cranky after a few days. I didn’t go running once in Iceland (which might have been because I didn’t pack my long-sleeved running shirt and I am a wuss when it comes to running in the cold), and for all the pizza and pasta I devoured in Italy, I didn’t run nowhere near enough to compensate the extra calories. That said though, after a pretty painful fall (I was down on all four and ended up with this long-lasting bruise), it was probably not the worst thing for my knee to get some rest. My goal for next month is to get back into my daily running routine and lose the (estimated) five pounds I gained in Italy and from all the birthday cake I ate in September.

Italian food
And this was just ONE meal. I had about three of those every day in Italy!

Failing at photographing the Northern Lights This one still pains me, and I could kick myself for messing this one up. I was so excited when, on our nightly northern lights watch, I finally spotted them dancing in the sky just outside of our guesthouse on day 4 of the road trip, woke up Rease and told her to get dressed and ran outside to the car to grab my tripod, which I had brought for only one reason: to photograph the northern lights. While I was trying to set it up as fast as possible, the part that connects the tripod with the camera broke, which meant I had carried that thing around for weeks for nothing. No photos of the northern lights. I tried to see the upside of it: Instead of watching them through my lens I got to enjoy them in their full glory, without getting frustrated about camera settings (I suck at night photography.)

What’s new with Globetrottergirls

First of all, I had a pretty good month money-wise, and a few interesting business opportunities came my way. I don’t know what will come out of them, but expect an update on that in my next monthly round-up. And you’ll read more about one of them in ‘Upcoming Travels’ below.

If you have been following me for a while you already know that I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that is involved in running the website and all the admin stuff that keeps me from creating content. I’ve tried to come up with a better system to organize everything and to make it easier to outsource some tasks and hope that there’ll be some changes soon, allowing me to focus on content creation more again; and to grow the site. I haven’t promoted Globetrottergirls in any way in months, I’d love to publish an updated version of Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, and so much more – but as a solo-preneur, I just lack the time to fit in everything I want – unless I stop traveling, but wait, ain’t I running a travel blog? Speaking of stop traveling:

Upcoming travels

I’d love to announce a break after this exhausting month but instead I am happy to announce that I will be returning to Tel Aviv next week! But first: Oktoberfest! Right now I am on the way to Munich, and I am excited that worked out to visit the beer festival for the second year in a row. While my visit to Oktoberfest had been in my calendar for a while, the Tel Aviv trip only evolved in the past couple of weeks and while it wasn’t what I had planned for October (the plan was to rent an apartment in Istanbul to catch up on work), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to the city I fell so hard for a year ago. I’ve been wanting to return ever since, almost fit in a city break in August but then let go off the idea because I had too many other things going on, and would still like to ideally spend a month or longer there, but visiting for a special project with someone I’ve been wanting to go on a trip for a while now promised to be too much fun to say no to.

dani oktoberfest
I am concerned my dirndl from last year won’t fit anymore after all the pasta and pizza I consumed this month!

I will barely have any time to pack for sunny Tel Aviv after Oktoberfest, but I haven’t committed to anything for the rest of the month and am just now finding the time to think about it. Maybe I can stay in Tel Aviv for a while? Maybe visit a friend in Spain? Still go to Istanbul, for a shorter time? It all depends on if I’ll follow through with my plan to travel to Nepal. This trip had been pretty much set in stone since the early summer, when I found a travel buddy to hike the 3-week Annapurna Circuit through the Himalayas with. However, with my giant work backlog and general exhaustion I am not sure if it’s the best idea to set off on a strenuous 3-week trek and am weighing up alternative options.

tel aviv clouds israel
See you soon, Tel Aviv!

So for now, I only know that I’ll be on my way to Israel next week – who knows where my next update will come from. It could be Kathmandu, or it could be.. anywhere, really 😉

Has anyone been to Nepal? Will my laptop survive the altitude and will I survive a 3-week mountain trek? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Life lately and upcoming travels: August 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, what’s new with Globetrottergirls.com and what’s next for me. This month I am also sharing a giveaway for a weekend in Paris for two – scroll down to the end for the giveaway!
August 2015 Brighton and Berlin

Where I’ve been

I started August in Brighton, England, and ended the month in Berlin, and the weeks in between were spent visiting family and friends all over Germany. The place I spent most of my time in this month? Berlin! And those days in Berlin were a great reminder that the summer in Berlin is almost as epic as the summer in New York.. Almost. But seriously, how lucky am I to get to spend time in my favorite cities in the world and have the best summer weather in both (and I will get to spend time in my third favorite city in the world this week – although I am pretty sure that it won’t involve perfect summer weather… more on my upcoming travels below.)?! My excellent time in Berlin let me almost forget how heartbroken I was when I left New York four weeks ago.Berlin

What I’ve been up to

I tried to relax and recharge my batteries this month, I really tried. But I also realized that spending time with my family means I barely get anything done because my nieces and nephew are all over me. Throw in a wedding for good measure, play tour guide for two good friends in Berlin, plus many catch-up sessions with friends I hadn’t seen in ages and there went my highly anticipated month of relaxation. Oh and let’s not forget about the grandiose Brighton Pride festival at the beginning of the month which took me a while to recover from. Exhaustion part 2, is what would best describe these past few weeks.brighton prideI wrote  about what I’ve been up to in detail in my Polaroid Of The Week posts and feel like I would repeat myself if I listed all the fun things between Brighton and Berlin here again, so if you want to ‘get exhausted from just reading what I did’ (this is what somebody actually said to me this month), you can read all about it here:

Brighton 2015

What went well

I guess everything went according to plan this month, and between attending Brighton Pride, re-uniting with good friends in Berlin and getting to spend time with my loved ones I’d have a hard time picking a favorite moment. Most importantly I didn’t fail as the official wedding photographer for one of my oldest friends – the main reason for my visit to Germany this month. I also managed to finalize my exciting travel plans for next month, which is going to be a busy month – more on that under ‘What’s next for me’.Wedding photography

What went wrong

 Time management or: how to manage to sleep more than five hours per night. Considering that I already didn’t get a lot of sleep in July, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am constantly tired and exhausted. My main goal for September is to get back on a regular sleeping schedule. Also, I feel like my time management skills are terrible. Or maybe I am super inefficient because of the lack of sleep? Anyway, I need to be more efficient. On the upside: I got my inbox back under control, am almost done working through my backlog of emails, and the whining about my work (over)load in last month’s round-up led to a number of very promising inquiries about my assistant position. I should have mentioned it much earlier on here! But that’s one of my problems: refusing to ask for help unless it’s absolutely inevitable.August 2015 pics

What’s new with Globetrottergirls.com

I’ve re-joined Snapchat recently and have been happily snapping away over the last few weeks. If you don’t know what Snapchat is – you can basically follow people and watch the stories they share on the platform in form of short 10 second videos and pictures. If you’d like to get the full gist of Snapchat, I recommend Buzzfeed’s useful Adult’s guide to Snapchat. As for my personal Snapchat – you can see what my day-to-day travel life is actually like and I tend to be a bit less serious on there than I am in writing. If you want to add me: mariposa2711 is my username and please feel free to snap me and tell me who you are 🙂

Snapchat August 2015
Some of my August snaps

I will definitely share all my upcoming European travel adventures on Snapchat in real time – let’s talk about them in more detail:

What’s next for me

I thought August would be my rest month before a busy month of travel. Yeah, right. But plans are made, flights are booked, there’s no way out. I’ll be traveling all over in September: all over Europe, to be precise. Except for a trip to Iceland which I am ridiculously excited about (I’ll be taking this self-driving tour of the island), I will be traveling exclusively by train. I’ve got the Global Interrail Pass, a train pass that allows me to ride the rails in 30 European countries – so far in my itinerary: Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, England (London calling!) and I’ll be finishing the month at Oktoberfest in Munich.

This will be my sixth time at Oktoberfest, and I am beyond excited that I was able to plan my travels around it again. And since I’ve got some Oktoberfest experience under my belt, I feel confident enough to call myself an expert on all things Oktoberfest, and so I was happy to contribute some insider tips for visiting Oktoberfest to Wimdu’s ‘Expert Tips for Oktoberfest 2015‘. If you’re planning to head to the world’s largest beer festival this year, make sure to check it out, and if you are planning to visit Munich for Oktoberfest in the future, bookmark it for later.

I am not quite sure how many more places I can fit into my month but on my wishlist are the Czech Republic (a return to Prague is long overdue), Switzerland (apparently the most scenic train rides in Europe) and France.. because: A few days in Paris are always a good idea! Which brings me to:

paris giveaway

Win a trip to Paris!

This giveaway matches the theme of my upcoming Euro trip: Leisurejobs.com is currently giving away a weekend trip to Paris! Not only does the lucky winner get a weekend trip to Paris including flights and hotel for two, but also a Michelin star meal! A great competition for anyone who loves Paris and good food – and if you haven’t been to Paris yet, even better! I don’t think there couldn’t be a better introduction to the city than a fancy Michelin star meal and staying in a posh Parisian hotel! You can enter the competition here – I have already entered it, of course! 🙂

If you could visit one place in Europe, which one would it be? Feel free to share your European dream destination in the comments below!

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Life lately and upcoming travels: July 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, what’s new with Globetrottergirls.com and what’s next for me.

Where I’ve been

With the exception of a short trip to New Jersey, I spent all month in New York City. But standing still in the city that never sleeps is never like ‘standing still’ – I didn’t even have time to turn on my TV once this month to catch up on the TV shows I wanted to watch or to even start the books I’ve been dying to read. As usual, I’ve taken on too much and I am feeling the effects of too many 4-hour nights.July 2015 New York Dani 

What went well

Let’s start with the good stuff: what went well this month? And there were many things that went exceptionally well!  

New friendships While I was a bit lazy on the meeting new people front last month, I finally got my mojo back and turned from a bit of a hermit back into the social butterfly I usually am. I met some great new people, wished I had more time to nurse and maintain these new friendships, but my visa is running out and the fun is over. I would even have had a housesit right after my current cat sit. There is nothing I can do about visa regulations, however.

Having a visitor in town
Usually people just pass through or spend a couple of nights in New York – but it is rare that somebody specifically comes to see me. This was different in July when I had a special visitor for eight days, something I hinted already on in my last round-up. My friend Anna, who I met trough her aunt Shannon in Chiang Mai in late 2011 and then traveled to Cambodia with in the spring of 2012, came for a week of New York funsies. Anna who was 11 when I first met her and was now 14, had turned into one of the smartest, funniest and maturest teenagers I’ve ever met and I had a blast hanging out with her for a week, showing her some of my favorite NYC spots, taking her to the beach, to Coney Island, to Central Park and even to a pre-screening of Ant Man hosted by Paul Rudd, Ant Man himself, which turned out to be a movie I enjoyed far more than I thought I would. We hung out with some of my friends, had lots of good food, and several make-over sessions. I was a bit worried about the responsibility I’d taken on – making sure I’d get the kid back to Florida in one piece – but I was complimented on my ‘parenting skills’ several times throughout the week by friends who saw me interact with Anna – a huge relief for me, and I am happy to report that we made it through the week incident free.July 2015 Anna and DaniBeing recognized by a follower I still feel funny about the word ‘fan’, but I was recognized by one of my followers in a lesbian bar this month, which was nice. We hung out several times after this initial random meeting (hi S! 🙂 ) and once again I am super grateful about the people that have come into my life through this site. I also got several really nice and touching emails from readers this month – plus an awesome housesitting offer which I think I’ll accept! – which I am a bit behind on answering but just know that I’ll get there and that I appreciate your emails.

Surviving two months of cycling all over New York! I made it through two months of cycling in New York City nearly without any incidents, but on my very last day with Lola Warrior Princess I ended up running over a pedestrian (I swear it was her fault, she just stepped into the bike lane without looking) but we both made it out with minor injuries only. Even though I consider myself an experienced cyclist, biking around New York – particularly Manhattan – is still pretty scary and I’ve read about some horrific accidents, some of them very close to places I was staying at. That’s why I am ecstatic that I made it (almost) accident-free through two months of heavy cycling, often logging over 20k a day because I was cycling back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn so much.

July 2015 Lola and Dani
Lola and I

 What went wrong

Work(over)load Like I said above – if you are looking for a place to sit still for a while, New York is not the right place. And I am too much of a FOMO person to stay at home when I know my friends are out doing something fun. Especially because here I always feel like I’m on borrowed time. I’ll be leaving soon. I have to fit it ALL in. Which inevitably leads to me getting burned out. I try to do too much, I am overwhelmed with work, I am trying to stick to my workout routine, so what comes short is usually sleep and at some point I just crash from exhaustion.

cronut dani new york
I was surprised with a cronut this month (the best cronut of my life!)… so I guess I am in no position to complain about anything, really.

Plus, my workload has become too much to handle on my own over the past few months. I have been looking for an assistant for a while now to hand over some things I can outsource, but other than one interview with a promising candidate back in January my search hasn’t led anywhere. So instead of reducing my workload this year like I had planned to, I kept taking on more work, and while I am thrilled about the progress I’ve made growing the business, it also brought with it an increased workload which left me feeling overwhelmed at all times. My email inbox, which I haven’t properly dealt with for about two months now, keeps growing into this insatiable monster that is gonna swallow me one day (that what it seems like, at least). I get more emails from people who want something from me than I can possibly answer – and with that I don’t mean reader emails and questions which I’m always happy to answer but emails by companies who want me to promote their products, PR companies who invite me on press trips, advertisers who are looking for a potential partnership, and all sorts of other requests and offers which range from interesting to plain weird. And that’s only one tiny aspect of this business which I run by myself that involves researching and writing stories, proof-reading and editing articles, editing and selecting photos, engage with my audience, negotiate with sponsors and business partners, deal with technical issues, figure out technical stuff that I don’t know anything about (I am not well versed when it comes to IT & computer stuff, to be honest, which makes self-publishing on a self-hosted website pretty difficult at times), be all over social media, admin stuff, making sure all invoices get paid, and making sure I pay all the bills on time.

And speaking of hosting – my hosting company has been up my ass all month threatening to take the site offline and cutting it off several times, with me trying to figure out how I can make them happy again and prevent getting shut down. All of these things combined can get a bit too much sometimes, wearing me down and make me think maybe it’s time for something new? I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish sometimes I could take the weekends off like normal people, not work on holidays or have 9 to 5 working hours instead of falling asleep with my laptop on my lap, like I do most nights. And let’s not forget that I’ve been doing this for more than five years at this point – longer than I’ve held any other position.But then I love blogging too much to just throw in the towel; the flexibility it gives me and of course the location independence that comes with it are rare and despite all the issues I face I enjoy what I do – all aspects of it. So instead of shutting down Globetrottergirls, I will instead attempt to finally slow down and get better at time management.

manhattan bridge never settle graffiti new york
Stumbled upon this street art… Never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never settle… A sign?

You may have noticed that as a result of this little July meltdown I didn’t publish a whole lot of new content this past month, and I’m already feeling re-energized after allowing myself to take it slow for a while instead of publishing halfheartedly written, mediocre content.

Leaving New York heartbroken I touched on this briefly in this week’s Polaroid: I am so not ready to leave New York. I feel like I’m missing out on all the summer fun that makes the warm hot months of the year so amazing here, and August was my favorite month here last year. And like I said above – I also think that if I had more time here, I wouldn’t feel like I need to rush around like crazy all the time, trying to fit it all in. Having spent one month out of my 90 day visa in Arizona and California, I was only able to spend two months in New York this year and that’s just not enough. The more time I spend here, the more it feels like home, and it simply sucks to get kicked out the place that feels home the most to me, especially at a time when I don’t want anything but to slow down and stay put for a while, and the people that mean the most to me happen to be based in NYC, too. I’m working on being able to stay longer in New York next year – stay tuned for news on that – but I don’t even know when I’ll return, and that just plain sucks right now.July 2015 New York cityLosing my phone Spoiler alert: I got it back! I offhandedly placed my iPhone on top of a stranger’s car while I was doing a photo shoot with a friend in Brooklyn, forgot that I put it there and we moved on to the next location, where I realized I didn’t have my phone. Luckily we were just around the corner from the parked car, but when we ran back there, we saw the car driving off. We ran after it assuming the phone would fall, but didn’t find it in the street. My friend started calling it, and it rang and rang, but no answer. I put my phone in the ‘Lost Phone’ mode, showing my friend’s phone number on the home screen, and just waited. Half an hour later, she got a phone call from a woman who said she found my phone on top of her car – after driving for nearly 10 miles around Brooklyn! I am still amazed that the phone didn’t fall off the car during the entire ride, and was so relieved that she was an honest finder and returned the phone to me (I hadn’t backed up in a while and would have lost quite a few notes and photos…). How lucky am I?!

A difficult housesit Let’s just say that not every housesit is easy, and some pets are more challenging than others. July 2015 New York City Summer

What’s next for me

As I am typing this, I’m on my to the UK! It’s been way too long since I spent some time here in the summer, and I will be spending the weekend in Brighton for Pride, which I will attend as part of the #mustlovefestivals campaign which aims to promote festivals all over Europe. I’ve been to Brighton Pride before – but that was nearly a decade ago, long before Globetrottergirls. I can’t wait to return this year equipped with my camera and notebook and to share this giant Pride party with all of you! You can follow along this weekend live via social media!

july 2015 new york
Thanks for another amazing summer, New York!

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Life lately and upcoming travels: June 2015 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, what’s new with Globetrottergirls.com and what’s next for me.

Where I’ve been

With regards to actual travel, June was the slowest month since last August. Unless you count me going back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn as travel; but I didn’t leave the city once this month, let alone the state (except for the thirty minutes I spent hanging out with a bunch of deer in New Jersey). That doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything, however – as usual, I feel like I need to slow down, because I’ve been doing too much. But as you’ll see below in ‘What’s next’, there won’t be much time for a break in July.new york sunset

What I’ve been up to

The minute I got on the subway after touching down at JFK, I felt like I was finally home. I picked up right where I left off when I said goodbye to New York last November, and I realized this month that this city truly feels more like home to me than any other city in the world right now.

That said, the month has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster and I am not sure how much of it I am ready to share with you (yet?), so I’ll leave it at that… for now.

When I wasn’t getting wrapped up in a sentimental turmoil, I was busy running around New York in my usual manner: checking out new coffee shops and revisiting old favorites, continuing the hunt for the best pizza in New York, catching up with old friends and making new ones, getting back into a regular workout routine, seeing art, going to the movies, stuffing myself with all the delicious food New York has to offer, watching outdoor movies and concerts, picnicking in the park, finding new street art, hanging out on the High Line, watching the sunset over the river, doing all the things I love about New York in the summer. And then there was Pride this past weekend of course, a celebration much bigger than anyone had foreseen thanks to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality last Friday.New York City Summer 2015

What went well: June highlights

Daybreaker – a morning rave
I didn’t even know that this was a thing until I found myself dancing at 7 in the morning on a random Wednesday in the Highline Ballroom, but apparently Daybreaker tickets are the hottest tickets in town right now. The movement started last year, and instead of a morning workout, people start their day with a dance party. Energized from the DJ tunes everyone heads straight to the office afterwards – what an amazing concept! I left the party thinking that I’d love to begin every day with a dance party from now on.

So much good food!
When I heard that a pizza speakeasy had opened up in New York AND the reviews were good, I knew I had to eat there. My hunt for the best New York pizza had been disappointing so far this year, and I was happy when my strike of bad luck finally ended at SRO. A speakeasy in its true sense, hidden behind a Spanish tapas bar, you have to knock on the door and know the password to be let in. The pizza was everything I was hoping for, and I have to keep myself from going back there all the time now (it’s kind of pricey). I also went to the celebrity chef Marc Samuelsson owned Red Rooster in Harlem this month for a fancy lunch, where I had the best Mac’n’cheese of my life. These two were standout meals, and together with all the other good food in New York I feel like I’m in a culinary paradise. I will put together a post with all my favorite new food finds and other cool spots – New York City recommendations seem to be very popular which is why I published part II of my favorite off-the-beaten-path things to check out in New York.

new york blue lane coffee breakfast
Not sure when Aussie breakfast became so popular in New York, but I’m not gonna complain!

Meeting Lola
When I met Lola earlier this month, it was love at first sight! I picked up my bike (her full name is Lola Warrior Princess) shortly after arriving in New York and we’ve been inseparable ever since. She is a beauty, and I wish I had a photo of us together to share with you, but we haven’t had a family photo shoot yet, so this has to wait until next month. But seriously, after relying on the citibike bike sharing system last year I promised myself I’d get my own bike this year and it has been glorious – who wants to sweat in the subway at this time of year anyway? 😉

Getting back into a running routine
Getting finally back into a running routine felt so good! I ran a couple of times in Arizona, I ran in Hong Kong and a few times in Bangkok, but most if my island hopping winter escape was spent without running – the humidity and heat defeated me. I missed it, I felt unbalanced, and I’m happy to be back in a place with running routes galore.New York Running RoutesFinancial stability
Including this here is just to show that this is not the norm, and I am usually struggling to make ends meet. It is rare that I have a month where I don’t have to worry about how much money I’ll have in the bank at the end of the month, because I never know how much I make. The past few months have been relatively stable though, and trust me, that is a true relief after several months of worrisome little income.

brooklyn bushwick lifes a beach
Well… Sometimes.

What went wrong

The near- credit card disaster and the debit card disaster
I did something really idiotic this month: I washed my running pants before taking out my credit card and monthly subway pass. I was horrified when I realized what had happened and thought for sure my credit card wouldn’t work anymore – and I was already down to one card (see below). Miraculously however, both credit and metro card are still working!

This had me thinking though that with the near-death experience on the highway and the not-being-allowed-on-the-plane incident in May, I completely forgot to mention a major travel mishap last month: my debit card was cloned in LA! I called my bank as soon as I caught a transaction on my account that I was sure I hadn’t made, and the bank canceled the card right away (they were also very good about refunding me the money I lost). This meant, however, that I would be left with only one card until the bank would send the replacement card, which I still have not received.

New York City 2015
What a beautiful disaster-free month in New York looks like

I have been thinking long and hard if this near-mishap was really the only thing that went (almost!) wrong in the past four weeks, but I guess the mishaps of the previous month raised my stress levels enough for a while.

What’s next for me

Tomorrow I am moving in with Gomez, who I fell head over heels in love with when I met him for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I will be looking after him, an adorable Wheaten Terrier, while his parents are traveling, and this is going to be the first time that I have a whole house to myself in New York, rather than ‘only’ an apartment. I am not sure what I am going to do with all the space there, but I am sure Gomez and I will come up with something.

Plus, I am going to have a very special visitor in New York next month, and I am beyond excited to spend time in New York with her. This means lots of sightseeing, beach trips, maybe even a trip up to the Hamptons, urban exploration, and all the things that make New York fun. You’ll hear all about it next month. I also have to be vague with my upcoming travel plans, I’m afraid, since I am still sorting out the details, but I’ll be flying to the UK at the end of next month when my US visa is running out (how do 90 days always go by so fast?) where I will pick up a 2-month Eurail pass which will let me travel by train in 28 countries! As I said, I haven’t figured out all the details yet but expect more on my upcoming train trip in my next update which should come to you from London.New York Summer 2015

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