Ten-twentytwo in a hostelroom in Philly

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It is odd how close power and vulnerability lie together.

Even though I’m traveling alone, I’m not really traveling alone. It has occurred to me that I often use the term traveling alone the same way I used it when I was 17 years old, fresh out of high school and traveling through Europe, alone with a friend. Alone, meaning that I did not travel with my parents. I wasn’t truly alone though.

I traveled alone to Thailand, Togo, and Tanzania. Sure, I did meet people right away though. How could I not, when I was living and working with them 24/7? So again, I was traveling alone, but never truly by myself.

I pride myself on the fact that I’m doing these things. I do travel alone. I make the plans by myself. I go there, not really expecting to meet new best friends, but people with more or less the same mindset. People I’ve never talked to before. And people I’ve barely talked to since.

This year is different though. Once again I’m traveling alone, but now, sitting in this hostel in Philadelphia, truly alone for the first time in…. forever?! This has a new meaning to me.

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But the real challenge is happening right now. Right here on my bunk bed in an all-girl dormitory in the heart of Philly. Do I dare go out and sit in a restaurant on my own? Hostesses do not badger me to eat at their establishment as they did when I was walking around with another person. I’m just a random girl in a plain T-shirt and holey cotton tote bag, roaming the streets by herself.

Do I dare go and strike up a conversation with the random guy down in the hostel lobby?

Do I dare be by myself and find peace?

Do I dare say, “Screw it!” and make new friends?

I will have to step out of my comfort zone either way, so it’s win-win and lose-lose. It’s both and it’s terrifying and exhilarating. It’s empowering and making me feel vulnerable. It’s thrilling. It’s learning more about myself with every step I take, every word I say. It’s thoughtless words and middle-of-the-night facepalms. It’s my life right now. Right in this second.

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(Authors Note: This was written right where I said it was (in a hostel room in Philly at 10.22pm) but somehow got lost in the incredible amount of blog drafts that piled up over the years.
I ended up going for dinner by myself the next day. I ended up saying ‘screw it’ and got a table for one in the secret garden of a very cute little restaurant, having a lovely chat with the waitress and eating an amazing salad. Thank you, Philly for teaching me so much about myself and my capabilities.)

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Thank you, 2014

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What a year.

No really: What. A. Year.

So much has happened, so many things that I’ve learnt, so many opportunities that arose, so many people who I’ve met.

I honestly could not be more thankful or appreciative.

I don’t even have words to explain everything that happened this year or how it changed me and helped me become the person I aspire to be.

One of the things that stood out most to me were the people I got to meet this year. I’ve made new friends all over the world. I met inspiring and hardworking people. I was fortunate enough to talk about life and get a glimpse into their view of the world and learn from them. The friendships I made in 2014 are probably the most coveted thing I take with me into the new year.
It’s also how these people made me think about the world differently, how they influenced how I feel and think about myself, how I consequently I carry myself now.

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I originally titled this post “Goodbye, 2014” but no, I don’t want to say goodbye, and thanks to all the crazy memories I will never have to say goodbye. I want to thank you, 2014, for teaching me about myself. For allowing me to be brave, for letting me do things I never had done before and for being patient and encouraging.
When I say 2014, I mean every single person I’ve met, everything I’ve done, every song I’ve heard (and obsessed over), every book I’ve read and every stranger that threw me a dirty look on the street for no apparent reason.

I have a feeling that 2015 will be different in many ways but with what 2014 has taught me, I hope it will be easier for me to navigate through the next year.

So thank you, 2014, it’s been real.

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# The Road Wander

I’m aware that I’m a horrible travel blogger but I don’t think I’ve found the right words for my summer yet. I should have by now, but the truth is that you can’t rush reflection. I certainly can’t rush words, – especially not those capable of describing this summer. It’s been a lot of fun, that much I can tell you.

In lieu of more words or pictures, let me leave this fun little video here.

Dear Gina, I miss this every day. I miss you. Thanks for letting me tag along.
Dear America, thanks for being nothing but kind and welcoming to me.
Dear self, take the life lessons, take the good memories, keep both forever. Learn and grow.

 


Two girls. Three weeks. Eleven cities. Nine states. One car. A pack of cellery. A friendly dog. Tons of live music and maybe one drink too many every once in a while: The greatest summer adventure there ever was.

#TheRoadWander

 

Find Gina at http://anothertravelblogger.com/
Music: The Silver Screen by Boxhoused (http://www.boxhoused.la/)
(Tip: watch in HD ;-))

Western Trail

I’m still having a hard time finding the right words to adequately describe my summer, but I made good on my promise to film more while traveling and as a result I can now present you with this little video. I’ve had a great time and saw amazing things.
If you are looking for a fun, inexpensive and adventurous way to travel you might want to check out Green Tortoise. Their bus travel really didn’t feel like a bus travel at all.

Tunes: The Road Wander

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In case you’re on a roadtrip, Gina and I have the ultimate playlist for you. I’m not kidding. We’re obsessed. It’s all we’ve been listening too for months now and we had the best time putting it together.

The first thing after establishing a hashtag for our little adventure (#TheRoadWander) was to work on this playlist. We spent a couple of weeks casually adding songs to this, listened to it on repeat when we were still in San Francisco and arrived in Tampa, starting the car and realising we had no way of connecting our phones and iPods to the car speakers.
Classic.

But nifty and innovative as we are, we hopped into the next Radio Shack and bought some tiny speakers. Not the best quality (duh) but it definitely added character to our car rides. Please excuse the excess amount of (good) country, blues and old school rock on this playlist, but we were driving through the South, after all (and we’re not sorry. Not one bit.).

Listening to the radio proved to be interesting. But now we know that true southern gentlemen won’t ever wear brightly coloured pants, own cats or tweet, because what they have to say is more meaningful than that. (I’m not being sarcastic, this really was something we listened to on the radio. Open mouthed, with stunned (and slightly amused) expressions on our faces.)

You can look back on our adventures with #TheRoadWander on Instagram (G & K).

Here’s the official #TheRoadWander playlist. There’s only one rule: when Proud Mary comes on, you better dance like there’s no tomorrow. We take Proud Mary very seriously (and you better do too ;-))

So judge away. Complain about cheesy pop songs, weird covers and overplayed rock anthems. We don’t care.