wanderer

9 Official Sacrifices of a Wanderer

I always daydream about traveling the world; the places I've been and the ones I'll soon see, all fill my head. It's wonderous isn't it? The idea of constantly being somewhere new? Experiencing new cultures and widening your horizons to levels you couldn't even imagine were possible! I love that feeling. It's in my character. It's who I am. I AM A WANDERER. 

Albeit, I'm not always on the move (although it might quite possibly seem so), there is a good portion of the year where I am stuck at home, heading to my sub-par job, and engaging in my "normal life". It's horrid. All I can think of when I'm in my bedroom late at night, is leaving. Getting as far away from here as possible, and starting a new life in another place. Staring into the dark, it never occurred to me that the wanderer life may not be the Utopia I was searching for. 

I imagined a life on the move to be a constant voyage, to be adventurous, and exciting, and an illuminative scope on my seemingly dreary world, and it was! What I wasn't prepared for were the downfalls of such a lifestyle. I had never considered that the grass might not be greener on the other side. My recent trip to Turkey (with stops in Egypt and Sudan) has made this cliché more of a reality than ever. Although my departure was for a mere month, there was much that I had yet to learn.

What sacrifices must you undertake to wander? Take these into consideration...

1. Living Comfortably
Say so-long to your personal bedroom. You'll now be sleeping in hostels and sharing a room with anywhere from 3-12 other individuals. Get ready for your new roommates to come back at obscure hours, drunk, have sex on your top half of the bunk-bed, and snore. Wonderful, isn't it?

2. Showering Comfortably
Don't take it for granted that when you enter your bathroom at home, you already have all of your shampoos, conditioners, soaps, loofahs, and razors ready. As a wanderer, you must carry everything with you each and every time you want to wash yourself. When you're done, you'll need to lug those same items out. Though not necessary in every hostel situation, if you want to make sure you're the only one using your essentials, its the safest route.  

3. Locking Up
One thing I constantly took for granted is being able to leave my stuff laying around the room. Whether a book-bag or a random pair of shoes, when you're staying somewhere with other people, its always safest to lock up everything, all the time. It might not sound so horrible until you think about how sucky packing is. Now imagine needing to pack everything up every-time you leave your house...welcome to the first level of hell.

4. Family
You already know this one. You're gonna miss them, unless they're on the trip with you. And even then, they'll manage to get on your nerves. Don't take them for granted though, you never know what you have till it's gone. Especially thousands of miles away.

5. Friends
Just like family, except they don't get on your nerves as much. You'll try to stay in touch using apps like WhatsApp and Viber, but it's never the same. Stories become too long to text, overseas connections aren't the best, and you're left in a slew of "I'll tell you when you come back" and "Wait, what was that? I can't hear you...what?...HUH?". The distance will weigh heavy on you.

6. ICE
It's exactly what it sounds like. Ice is a luxury in case you didn't know. Most places don't have ice, and drinks are served at room temperature. My mind was blown too. That aahh-mazing WaWa ice that you love to crunch on? Forget about it. You'll be lucky to get any sort of ice, let alone have a preference. 

7. Wi-Fi
It is available, though scarcely. When you do find it, the signal isn't that great. When you find a great one, hold on for dear LIFE. There's nothing like being able to surf google freely. Censorship is a thing. Oh yea, forget about any Netflix and Hulu dreams. Non-existent. WTF.

8. Central Air
When you walk into your house when it's summer, you feel the cool breeze. When you walk in from the frigid air, you feel the lovely heat as soon as you enter. Central air is seriously sent from the Gods. It's only common in the United States. I haven't been anywhere else where its a "thing". Walk into a room and turn on the air conditioner for that room. Step into the hallway and Satan's air smacks you in the face. Also, bathrooms don't generally have any sort of ventilated air, except a possible window. That smell. We seriously live in a heaven of sorts. 

9. Hot Water
Waking up in the morning and stepping into a hot shower feels like a hug from grandma, warm and cozy. Your wanderer showers will feel like electrical jolts running through your body, cold and crisp. Not the imagery you would've wanted? Get over it. People all over the world regularly take cold shower, and to have a heater warm your water for you is an extravagant addition, one many can't afford. "Jump in, jump out, turn yourself about" will now symbolize your shower routine. 


Most of the sacrifices you'll make will be the ones you don't even think about. There are many things in the United States that other countries don't have, and you don't realize these things until you leave. Say goodbye to the free public library, and free water at restaurants. Free bathrooms with water fountains right outside are only but a dream. Paved roads and citizens who follow traffic signals are a thing of the past. Constant refills? Prepare to pay.

What all of this has taught me is that you can't get something, without giving up something else.  I never thought that I would ever miss my normal life! But I did. I genuinely missed all the things I take for granted on a daily basis. I'm a wanderer, so you'd think that the last place I would want to be is in the same place I've grown up for over half my life.

I didn't know what I had, until it was no longer available. Traveling doesn't only allow you to appreciate outside cultures and experiences, but makes you see how lucky you are on a regular basis, in your normal life. When you wander far, you notice how close your daily blessings are.

 

 

Happy Wandering...

10 Ways To Discover A New City

Being in a new city can be daunting. Visiting, just moved or passing through somewhere new?

Here are some tips I've collected throughout my travels to help me get the most out of each place I wander into, no matter how short or long the stay.

1. Walk
Though not all cities are walkable, there are many that are, and if you happen to be in one then that is exactly what you should be doing. Walk down the streets, around the corners, walk everywhere. Besides it being a great form of exercise, which you will undoubtedly need after all the amazing food you'll want to try, it's a great way to discover a new city. The only way to find those unforgettable hole-in-the-wall's is by walking.

2. Public Transportation
As noted, not all places are easy to walk, if this is the case, then utilize the public transportation system. Even in times when you can walk around, realize that you can only walk but so far. Taxi's are for chumps! Do you want to be a chump? Didn't think so. Now get on that train, tram, bus, subway, metro, whatever. To really uncover the gems of a new place, you must live as the people there live, and unless they have "racks on racks" as my friends would say, they're most likely using one of these forms of transportation. 

3. Talk to Locals
They live in the place for goodness sakes, so who would know the place better? In most places they are more than happy to lend a helping hand. Unless you're in France...sorry Frenchies, your reputation precedes you. (Although in my short 12 hours there, I found one very kind man who was the greatest.) Locals have almost always pointed me in the right direction. Make sure you ask them to tell you where they would go, not where they think you would want to go. You don't want to go to the tourist spots, get a genuine feel of this new place!

4. Get Lost
Today in Turkey, I got extremely lost. Had no idea where I was, and I had the best day ever! Getting lost is beautiful. Sure scary, but oh so wonderful. You come across things you normally wouldn't and are pleasantly surprised by all that you do. Get lost, make the wrong turn, figure it out. Your adventure is awaiting in your confusion. Suppress your need to ask for directions and try to go with the flow. You will appreciate it in the long run. 

5. TripAdvisor/Lonely Planet
No one goes to China and doesn't want to see the Great Wall of China. You don't go to France and not see the Eiffel Tower. It's a part of the experience. For these reasons, I would use TripAdvisor/Lonely Planet. See what is worth your time, and what isn't exactly your cup of tea. Sometimes you don't know what the great things to do are, and this will give you the most touristy of touristy things to see and do. Not a bad idea because at the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, you still kinda are a tourist. Sorry love! Experience the Hagia Sophia and the Taj Mahal with the other tourists before going upon your own route.

6. Tourist Traps
You will undoubtedly get caught in one. It's going to happen. Don't run from it, just take it in. Learn from it and then never get caught again. You will pay too much for a cab before knowing how the metro works, you will pay $10 for a jacket and think it's a steal, until you discover you could have gotten it for $5. It's ok, roll with the punches my friend, just make sure you are learning from them.

7. Get Out
Don't stay locked up in your hostel/hotel attached to your computer/phone and ravaging for WiFi. Yes you might miss home, and you're you, so home definitely misses you, but don't waste your time trying to not miss out. In your FOMO anxiety, you will miss out on what's right in front of you. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. will all be exactly where you left them when you return. Someone will post about their pregnancy, another about an engagement, a marriage, a breakup, a hook-up. Do you really care? Go somewhere! Do something! Don't let FOMO hold you back! This city needs discovering! 

8. Learn the Language
Locals are so much more receptive when they see you trying. They will laugh at your attempts, but internally they will be so pleased that you're trying. Learning the language doesn't necessarily mean you have to take a course. Learn the basics: please, thank you, hello, goodbye, bathroom (that one is important). What better way to immerse yourself in the culture than to slowly figure out what the heck everyone is saying.

9. Find a Friend
They are everywhere! In your hostel, on the streets, at the cafe you like to frequent, there are people waiting to be your friend. Who wouldn't want to be? It's you for crying out loud. Friends can help you get out, can teach you new things and show you all the places they've already discovered. Bond over your love of the city, your hate of the city, whatever! You don't know it all, so find someone who can teach you some things, and who you can enlighten. Discover the city together.

10. Enjoy!
The best way to discover a new city is to enjoy it. No matter the turns and tumbles life hands you, have a great time. The whole reason you're in this new place is to enjoy, so don't deny yourself this wonder. Walk around and enjoy, get on a tram and enjoy, find friends and enjoy, meet locals and enjoy. You get to be somewhere new, even if for a little while, so smile fellow wanderer. The city is welcoming you, so welcome it back!

 

Hope these tips will help you to get out and discover your newest adventure!

What other tips do you have for learning about a new place? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Happy Wandering...

You Can Be In Asia and Europe At The Same Time

Never thought it was possible? Think again. Istanbul is the place for you my friend.

As the largest city in Turkey, this Eurasian beauty is the historical heart of the country. With mosques and churches alike, this is the epicenter of where Europe and Asia, modern and classical, East and West, meet.

Arriving early on in the day, I made sure to take a nap. From the taxi ride leaving the airport, I knew the hills would kill me otherwise. Walking down the hill is fun with a great view. Walking up is not so fun (although great exercise), but there's still a great view.  

Heading towards the Galata Bridge, I got lost. As I was trying to figure out where I was, I came across a tower with a huge line. Intrigued, I waited with the others. The thought ran across my mind to ask where the line lead to, but I suppressed my curiosity. To most this would seem foolish, to me it was an adventure. Why did I have to know where I was going? I could figure it out in due time. 

Amazed at my surroundings, and wondering what the hell I was doing standing in a random line, I continued to wait patiently. My views as I waited:

I love the picture above because it so perfectly describes Istanbul. When you think of the Middle East, the first couple thoughts might include a woman in a burka. True, as seen above. What might catch you off guard was the fact that she was on her iPhone tweeting. She was shocked that people would find it odd. The perfect mixture of culturally classical and technologically forward.

All I can say is that it was delicious. There is no better fruit than fresh fruit from a random cart on your lost adventure. Pretty much anything in a cart is a good idea. It's always well worth the risk! He was also the kindest watermelon man (the only) I have ever met. 

As the line moved forward I was getting anxious. What exactly was I waiting for? Oh yeah, I have no idea. Typical WanderlustWad.

After seeing people pull out money, I decided I had to investigate. I couldn't continue going with this flow of mine when money was involved. After talking to the amused cashier, I found out I was at Galata Tower. I paid the $10 fee and headed upwards to see what the fuss was about.

The Galata Tower was the tallest structure in Istanbul when it was built. It has a 360 view of the city and is breathtaking to say the least. As it turns out that the stars had aligned for me. I had come at golden hour, and and was able to get the most beautiful pictures. 

                     Right before the sunset on the sunny side of the 360 Panorama view

                                         Just a few minutes later on the other side

Standing in a random line paid off. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew it would be an interesting experience regardless.

Galata Tower: $10
Random Adventure: Priceless

Random adventures always pay off, always. Sure they can seem daunting, but not knowing is part of the fun. The anticipation, the waiting, the fear, it's all in the package of adventure. 

Soon after leaving the Galata Tower, I saw where I strayed off and headed towards my original goal, the Galata Bridge. Thankfully the hills were going downwards this time. 

Wandering through the streets, I couldn't get over how lovely this place was. Each street a small community of its own. Shop owners, tourists, and residents alike flooded the cobblestone walkways. It feels so homey

Steps away from my destination I grabbed a $1.50 gyro. I love it here already. I ate my gyro as I watched the rest of the sunset. All alone and extremely content. 

                                            The picture doesn't even do it justice

Walking around afterwards, fisherman waited patiently to get ahold of something, couples held hands, shops hustled and bustled right below the bridge. I wanted nothing more than to come back every single day and watch the sun ascend and descend. And so I will...until I leave that is.

All in all, it was an extremely successful first day. Stay tuned to find out where my adventures lead me tomorrow!

 

What random adventure did you run into? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Happy Wandering...