Shower? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

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The struggle is real, and so is that smell. But, it’s nothing a couple of scented baby wipes can’t fix cover mask camouflage.

That smell? You probably know it; the guy on the bus, the girl on the train – possibly you. It’s a special bouquet of funk. A mix of traveler sweat (from hiking, trekking, long unair-conditioned bus rides in Morocco), coupled with clothes that aren’t quite clean, but “clean” enough, and let’s not forget pure adventure. It’s a small badge of honor for the backpacker; worn in place of deodorant.

When backpacking, there are many reasons showering can seem a distant dream, including but not limited to: camping, lack of hot water, sheer laziness, the desire for adventure above all else, but  the most common reason, wishful thinking – thinking you could shower later, but later is a day or more away.

I can recall some very distinky distinct examples where I may have gone a considerable amount of days without showering, i.e, Wadi Rum desert for 2 days or when I was sick from food poisoning and couldn’t be bothered; however, I want to #TBT to that time in Australia.

One crazy French girl (you know who you are – Asmae) and I decided to road trip up Australia’s east coast during winter, which took us seven weeks. Both of our budgets were on the skimpy side, so, we decided free camping  and Couchsurfing would technically be the most “cost effective and experience enhancing” options – which they were.

Heading north, in the midst of our trip with the weather getting warmer, we began to camp regularly for convenience (and I must say we got pretty good at it). Sadly, free camps rarely offer showers, let alone hot water. Needless to say, rub-a-dub time was often deferred. We made plans to find a Couchsurfing host, as well as, tried to will the Universe to send us a free camp with hot water, but neither came to fruition. Still, we stayed positive and pledged that “tomorrow” would be the day *cue Rosie the Riveter arm* – wishful thinking. Tomorrow came on the 7th day.

Yes, I admit it, I did’t shower for a week!

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Day 6 – God please help me accept the underwear that I cannot change.

It is the longest I have ever gone without a shower, though, as a kid, I can recall being told to bathe by the parental units, however, not being one to miss out on the fun, I simply splashed myself with some water and changed clothes – who knows how many times I did that in a week, but I digress. In any case, I have no shame.

Also, in our defense, within that week, we swam in fresh water lakes, utilized numerous baby wipes, deodorant, and most importantly, took solace in the knowledge that you can’t really smell your own odor (thank you olfactory adaptation).

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Letting the cool blue waters wash it all away

Traveling is always a great adventure and not showering was an adventure all in itself. Never knowing when the next shower was coming or if my lady parts could sustain, it was like gambling. With great risk comes great rewards and that shower with the ever flowing hot water,  felt like hitting the jackpot!

I have showered in a bathroom with heated floors and I have showered out of a bucket – I even once had a lovely village woman boil water on the fire to mix with the cold tap water – but, one very important thing I have learned in my 17 months of traveling around the world is that showering is a luxury (so is washing your clothes, but that’s another blog post). A luxury that not everyone gets to indulge in. So, the next time you step into your shower, be grateful for the luxurious hot water cascading down to your feet, and do a warm water fast splash for your friendly neighborhood backpacker.

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#backpackerlife

A note to my fellow backpackers and budget travelers: Keep the faith. If you can’t find a hot shower, remember, there are gyms, public pools, baby wipes, and if your badge of honor is very strong, there may be a stranger out there waiting to offer you a place to wash your bum. Good luck!

 

I Got My Hair Did

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Ask my friends, we’re all attention whores for those 4 words “I LOVE YOUR HAIR”!

I got my hair did! It was so necessary. I’m a curly girl to the death and I love rocking my natural, I mean the compliments alone are enough to keep me “Fro”-zen, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be while traveling, so Box Braids it is.

Before I began my travels, I read countless blogs about traveling with natural hair. The unfortunate part about those articles is, none of those Natural Nikki’s were on “Round the World” trips. When traveling, the main problem is the size/weight of the bottles. I would have to check my bag often and I’m not paying 25 extra, to check a bag, just for some hair products…$25 is a nice meal (or five $5 crappy ones), a night in a hostel, 2 new shirts (I’m getting sick of my old ones), an excursion, and so many more appealing options. Acquisition of products becomes another issue. I would have to have the products shipped from the US because, there are not enough black people in Europe to warrant distribution of certain, kinky hair products.

Product is just the first hurdle, time is the second. Hydrating, detangling, and actually doing my tresses. Natural curls, just doesn’t come natural for this 4b girl 😩 . Every few days, I wake up in a new city, and I don’t have time to “do” my hair. I need to explore! My days are filled with adventures and my nights with socializing amongst food and wine, really any booze, wine just sounds sophisticated and my hair is the last thing I care to think about.

So! Getting my hair did was the obvious choice. By the way, I did go one month trying to rock my natural, but I was running out of shampoo and conditioner.

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My hair was so dry

It wasn’t an easy feat finding someone. There are Africans all over Europe, but they become quite sparse the further east you go. Thank god for Facebook and fashion trends. Box braids are the hottest trend in Europe right now. I’m not certain of who the Kim K of Europe is, but she has all of the melanin deficient ladies rocking the box. So, it wasn’t too difficult, but it wasn’t easy either, and let’s just say…I had to fix it, but it’s done. When I wake up in the morning, I shower, makeup and go. I feel such relief and I still get many compliments! By the time I need my hair did again, I will be in China! The hair comes from there, so someone should know how to do it, right?!

If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments area. I will take all of the help I can get.

Poops! My bad!

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Have you been wondering “Where the hell is Tori?! I want my stories!”

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I’ve been on the toilet!

I was hit with this phenomenon known as “Traveler’s Tummy”.  What a delicately sweet term for such a debilitating, excruciating, truly disgusting complication. There were cramps, air stuck all up in my intestines, and a seemingly endless supply of poo, like a faucet. TMI? It was TMP (did you figure that out. Ha!).

The day after arriving in Madrid, the symptoms began. After spending what seemed like days in the WC (that’s the restroom for you Americans), I made a bee line for the Pharmacia. Unfortunately, since I didn’t know the words “gas and diarrhea” in Spanish, I had to type them into my Microsoft translator app. I had no words, I simply held up my phone for the pharmacist to read. She let out a little “eek” and gave me an endearing face full of pity. So sweet (and not professional at all)!

I walked back to my hostel with medicine in hand. For a little relief, I tried “breaking wind” as I walked, however, The Gays were everywhere, as Madrid was hosting World Pride. That little detail is just to set the scene because I still tried to get it out. Ha!  I took the medicine and ate some ginger root, but I was down for the count. I didn’t leave the hostel that night for fear of ruining my shoes (they were a gift). It took almost a week to get back to normal, thanks to five homeopathic pellets of Arsenicum Album, this which every world traveler should add to their repertoire.

So there it is folks, the reason…I’m lying, this is completely an excuse because I wouldn’t let a little lot of poo get in my way! I have been having fun all over the place, and if you followed me on Snapchat or Instagram, you would know that.

Even so, I promise to stay more up to date on my post. I’ve had so many amazing experiences and had lots of time to be very introspective, so there’s plenty to come. Stay tuned!

K.I.T

As I prepare for my RTW Trip (only 2 months away, yay!), I began to research the best way to “Keep In Touch” with my family and friends, old and new alike. I’ve found there to be two ideal options for staying connected while traveling abroad, using the sim card method: calling plans (calls + data) or data only packages.

First, I considered a calling plan. After much research, I came across the Mobal sim, as it had the best offers for $59/month. With this plans you’ll receive:

  • no contract
  • 1GB FREE 4G Data
  • Unlimited FREE incoming calls and texts
  • coverage in over 100 countries (including all of Europe)

All of this, coupled with low cost out going calls/texts, is a great value; however, I found this option to be more for a business traveler, or a digital nomad, someone who needs to have a consistent phone number. For a budget traveler, this is a bit more costly than the data only package.

With data only,  you can use voice calling apps (i.e Viber) or messaging apps (i.e WhatsApp, which also offers voice to voice calling) to stay in contact, specifically voice to voice calls, but just how much data would you need? Well, that would be based on which messaging apps you use.

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Photo and data from Quora.com

Based on this data, I am going to have to download a new app! I am a WhatsApp whore, but a whore no more, am I. Kakaotalk does have the lowest data usage per minute, however, with Facebook only using a few more kbs, I find it to be more ideal, with most of my friends and family already using this app.

So, how much data will you need? Well, there really is no correct answer. Do you like to use a real map or prefer a step by step guide through a map app? Do you enjoy the occasional Facebook video binge? Are you a talky talkerson? Whatever your data needs, you can probably find the best plan with Globalgig. Globalgig offers monthly contracts (1 or 3 months at a time) and based on where you are located on the globe, there is an ideal package for you. Also, with globalgig being so global, you will rarely have to change your sim!

Since I am starting my trip in Europe, and with so much gratis wifi, I think I will start with the Essential 5GB option for $16.82/month. With the month to month option, I will adjust as necessary.

Please share if you have alternative or better options. Thank you!

Strikhedonia

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I was strolling through my Instagram feed and came across a sponsored page which truly caught my attention. It said “What’s your word?” I was intrigued, so I clicked the link, and as I read through the site, I knew I had to define my year of travel.

What is my word…“Wanderlust” just didn’t describe it and “Fernweh” didn’t cut it; these are words every travel spirit knows, so I dug a little deeper. I did an internet search for “travel words” and I came across an interesting website. Approximately a quarter of the way through the page, there it was:

Strikhedonia” (originating from Greek), definition: The pleasure of being able to say “to hell with it”

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It not only described the openness I wish to embrace while on the road, it also relays the pleasure I feel in leaving my current life behind.

I have many people tell me  “I’m so jealous” or “I wish I could do that”. The truth is, you can. It’s a conscience decision, a passion, a desire. The Universe is conspiring to give you anything you want, as long as you “ask, believe, receive” (It’s The Secret!). As my grandpa used to say “[…] ain’t goin’ nowhere. It’ll be here when you get back.” (He’s from Georgia, if you didn’t catch that). It’s ok to leave home because home will always be there when you need it, and although it usually doesn’t change, after an adventure, you’ll realize you have.

Whatever you journey may be, define it. What’s your word?

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Why am I talking about…

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Travel has given me pleasure, peace, and sanity. Eight years ago, I lost my job and was unemployed for almost 2 years (I was a financial planner), and I realized I wasn’t likely to find a job anytime soon. I started renting my spare room on this “new” site Airbnb.com, and I began to meet travelers from all over the globe. Being the social butterfly that I am, I would show my guest around Miami and they would tell me stories of their homeland. I started to get a yearning to visit, like I should have seen these places long ago (the Germans call it Ferweh). Next came, Couchsurfers, many friends kept talking about them and I constantly met them, but didn’t really grasp the concept, until one drunkin’ Miami night, I sat down on the beach with a cute Croatian girl who enlightened me, and over night, I decided to sell everything and backpack through Europe.

My three month backpacking trip started in London and ended in Italy, with a Sensation White Party thrown in there somewhere. It was fun, and lonely, and sexy, and scary and sad, and funny and….it was worth it!

When I returned (1/6/11), I started to look for a job in my field. I sat in front of the computer and went on resumes.com and started sending out my resume and within an hour I knew I couldn’t go back to an office job, plus I wanted fast cash because I came back and had $4 in my bank account. I had heard many a times that I would make a great server, so craigslist is where I went and clicked food/bev/hosp. The next day I had an interview and the day after that, I had a job. I have been serving and bartending for the last 6 years and I have loved every second of it and I thank traveling for that, and now…I’m depending on this next trip to show me my new path (although, I may come back and realize Bartending was perfect for me!). Travel life matters to me because it gave me life, it give me a new outlook and made me realize there are no rules to this life.

I started this blog because I want to take you on this journey with me and I hope that I can inspire one person, more particularly, one female to throw caution to the wind because there may be a glorious adventure waiting for you!

What am I talking about?

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In a time where everyone is saying black lives, and blue lives, or all lives matter, I can only think of one life that matters to me, travel life. Don’t worry, this will not be some political blog and I am not taking a stand against or for anything, except traveling, because I believe traveling gives perspective, patience, experience and consideration which could erase a lot of the hate that is currently at boiling point here in the States.

I have been lucky to have some amazing travel experiences, my most recent trip took me to Thailand, The Land of Smiles, and it truly was. I smiled a lot, mainly because everything was so cheap. It had been 6 years since I’d left the country and being there made me sick…I caught the travel bug and it has burrowed its way into my soul.

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So! It’s time to get back out there to seek and explore the beauty of the world. I have decided to spend one year, or how ever far my money can take me, out in the world. I will start in Lisbon and end somewhere in Mexico. I decided to start this blog for two reasons, one, so my friends and family won’t be too worried about me in places where wi-fi is lacking, and two, I hope to inspire through my experiences, photos and anecdotes.

I have seven months before I start my trip around the world (RTW). My departure date is June 5, 2017. So, stay tuned for planning strategies, travel equipment ideas, fears, doubts, and excitement.