It’s been a while

My dear friends,
How time flies. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last wrote in this thing.
And what a year it’s been. I’ve been completely location independent for 14 months and traveled to 9 countries and 12 states. I’ve learned a lot during those 14 months, and I guess that’s why I’m back here today. I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. So here it goes, a short FAQ on what I’ve learned after 14 months of working remotely and traveling full time.

“Where do you stay?”

Anywhere and everywhere! I’ve slept on friends’ couches in Seattle, in spare bedrooms, hotels, hostels, Airbnbs, and in Bedouin camps in the Egyptian desert. I try to not impose too much, so if I do freeload off a friend’s couch or spare bedroom, it’s just for a night or two. Mainly, I prefer long-term stay in Airbnbs as they’ll typically provide a discount (between 10 to upwards of 60% off!) for long term stays of 28 days or more. (Note: you can’t cancel these kinds of reservations after you book them.) I like to have my own space to spread out, my own kitchen to cook in, and somewhere to just generally unwind. The longest I’ve stayed in a hostel is 2 weeks, and honestly, I couldn’t do that again. Hostel life is great for a short-term traveler, but for someone who’s in it for longer, it’s just not for me.

“How long do you stay in a specific place?”

It varies, widely. I’ve stayed in places for as little as a week, and as long as 3 months. The longer the better, in my opinion. One month when you’re working full time is really only 8 days of “free time”, and one week is even less if you travel on weekends.

“How do you pick where to go next?”

The places tend to pick me, actually, 🙂 I’ll hear about a place or an event or a trip from a fellow traveler and become fixated on it until I actually go. I do look for a few things when picking locations, though:
  1. Is anyone coming with me? I often travel with my best friend who also works remotely, and I’ll also travel with coworkers or other digital nomads. In those circumstances, it becomes a discussion of finding a place that we all want to go to.
  2. If no one is coming with me, how can I make friends in the place that I’m going? Do I have friends there? Friends of friends? Is there a large digital nomad or expat community?
  3. What’s the cost of living? I generally try to stay at or under my monthly expenses from when I was living in Seattle, which is surprisingly easy when I use my credit card points for flights and book Airbnbs with heavily discounted monthly rates, but there are a few places in the world that are more realistic than others.
  4. What’s the timezone? All of my team works US hours and I need to be cognizant of that.
  5. And last, but definitely not least, what’s the wifi like? I’ve backed out of trips to Honduras, Belize, and Cuba because of potential WiFi problems. I’ll go there on a vacation, but I don’t want to risk dropped calls with partners for a good time.

On that note, “How do you find good wifi?”

This question should (and probably will be!) a blog post on its own. In fact, it should probably be a blog post for each individual city I visit. I do not have much stress in my life, at all, but if I could name one stressor, it would definitely be the constant struggle to find a solid wifi connection. Everywhere I go, I constantly have my phone out speed testing every internet connection I come across, looking for something above 10mps. Before I go to a location, I’ll research co-working spaces in the area and book an Airbnb within walking distance of one, if possible. I’ll message the Airbnb host before booking and ask them (very nicely!) to run a speed test on fast.com and let me know the result.
I consider myself a pretty laid back person, but Wifi is the one thing that I very type A about, and it’s for that reason that I rarely run into WiFi issues in a new location. Even still, it does come up, so it’s good to have a backup just in case. I use T-mobile’s international plan, which gives me free unlimited data and texting all over the world, so in a pinch, I can use my phone as a hotspot if need be. It’s not cheap, but I consider it a necessary expense for this lifestyle. That being said, I’ve also heard good things about Google Fi, or there’s always the option to buy a sim in every new location.

“Don’t you get tired of constantly being on the road?”

Absolutely, yes. There are days where I wake up exhausted and have to check out, get on a flight to another country, take a taxi, check in to another Airbnb, find a grocery store, and start all over in a new location. I’ll be on the flight trying to sleep but unable to, wondering again if this kind of lifestyle is worth it. Thinking that this is my last flight, after this I’m headed back to Seattle and renting an apartment and moving my things back into it. Wondering how in the world I’ll find the energy to figure out how to get a taxi, much less how to get around after I get out of it. But somehow, I always do. And after a nights rest, I wake up in a brand new and shiny location with a whole new city to explore, full of potential and adventure and excitement. I have new people to meet, new cities to walk down, new sites to see. And all of a sudden, the previous days’ exhaustion doesn’t matter because this, this is where I’m happiest.

But, “does that mean you’ll do this forever?”

Absolutely, no. It might mean that, but it also might not. The number one thing that I’ve learned about myself while on the road is that, no matter where life takes me, I’m not going to let it be dictated by societal norms. If I want to “settle down” one day, I’ll do it on my own terms, because I want to. Not because society tells me to. In the meantime, I have no intentions of slowing down. I love the life I live and I’ve never been happier.
But, “don’t you miss certain aspects of having a traditional lifestyle?”
Absolutely, yes. I miss knowing where my mail is going. I miss my friends and family back in Seattle. I miss knowing how to get around without Google Maps. I miss the ease of recycling and composting in the US. I miss having a sense of community and a sense of home.

But….”what do you love about your current lifestyle?”

This is where the list gets infinite. I love meeting new people from around the world. I love finding cute new cafes to work in. I love trying new foods. I love seeing new sites. I love having a lunch break in a hot tub in Alaska, or a tattoo parlor in Tel Aviv, or the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe, or a dive boat in Mexico. I love getting lost in the streets of Antigua. I love learning about new cultures, and languages, and histories. I love that every day is a new adventure, that even the mundane becomes an adventure. I’m not just going to the grocery store, I’m walking 2 miles along the streets of Nicaragua as the sun sets behind me. I’m not just doing my laundry, I’m taking a taxi to a woman’s house in rural Costa Rica and explaining in broken Spanish why my shorts are covered in mud. I love that my commute might be a walk along the beaches of San Juan Del Sur, through the cobblestones of Antigua, a bike ride through downtown Playa Del Carmen. I love that I’m able to travel with my best friend and life partner. I love getting lost, feeling uncomfortable, the anxiety of almost missing a flight.
And that’s just the beginning, I could go on and on about everything I love. It’s a magical lifestyle, and I wake up every day so overwhelmed and grateful to call it my life.
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Why I’ll miss Tahoe

My dear friends,

This marks my final week in Tahoe before I drive back to Seattle for a few months. This Saturday, I take the 14 hour drive at once, and then wake up early on Sunday morning to fly out to Tel Aviv for a 2 week-long adventure with two of my best friends. Keep an eye out for a recap post on that trip later! While I’m sure it will be an absolute blast, I can barely get my head around the fact that I am counting down my last few days in the town I’ve called home for nearly 3 months, let alone think about flying halfway around the world in less than a week.

My time here in Tahoe has had it’s fair share of downs. The lack of snow combined with my injury last month have actually resulted in one of the more low-key ski seasons I’ve had in years. I had a few trips fall through and gas is expensive. I miss Amazon delivery. I miss my friends and family back home. I miss having a bedroom with a door on it. Sometimes, I get lonely or overwhelmed by living by myself in a town where I’m an outsider.

But, for every disappointing, lonely, or frustrating moment, I’ve had 10 more beautiful ones. The lack of snow led to some picturesque beach days. My injury gave me a reason to focus on my art, my reading, and my mental clarity. The trips that fell through meant more time to spend in Tahoe. Expensive gas meant more walking. No Amazon delivery meant less spending. The friends that I made here feel like family. No bedroom door means the dogs that live here can walk in and out of my room as they please. Living by myself has led to a sense of personal freedom that I know I’ll never give up.

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I’ll miss Tahoe. I’ll miss the way you don’t lock your doors and the way icicles form outside my bedroom window. I’ll miss my favorite bartender, Domino, at my favorite bar, Whitecaps. I’ll miss the way the air feels fresh and sharp in the mornings before a big storm. I’ll miss the sound of waves lapping against the shore, as if I live next to the ocean rather than a large lake. I’ll miss the friendly hellos and good mornings from my roommates. I’ll miss the friends I made and the laughter we shared. I’ll miss the sunrise, the sunset, the stars and the moon. And probably, above all, I’ll miss Jackson and Tasha, the two dogs that live with me and stole my heart.

I’m thankful for the pain that comes with goodbyes, because it means my time here was worth it, and meaningful. I’m also beyond excited for what the future has in store for me- in two days I’ll be on a flight to experience some of the most beautiful scuba diving in the world with my best friend, and in two months I’ll be on the way to travel through Central and South America. Life is a magical, overwhelming whirlwind, and I’m loving every last minute of it.

Stay beautiful, friends.
Love,
emily

On Patience, Mental Grit, and Gratitude

Dear friends,

On Monday, I got back from a 5 day trip to Seattle and Whistler, where 20 of some of my best friends went up for an extended weekend of skiing and general debauchery.
Whistler Blackcomb is one of my favorite mountains, but conditions on our first day of skiing were less than ideal. About an inch of powder lay over sheets of ice, and more than once we found our skis skating over rocks and trees. It was a bit of a rough start.
Then, on one of our last runs of the day, I found myself whizzing down a groomer. Due to the icy conditions, I was going fast but 100% in control. Before me was a lip from a groomed cat track. “A fun little jump”, I thought to myself, so I hit it going fairly fast. WHOOPS, I noticed too late that below me was not a groomed line but a heavy mogul field. And that’s what I slammed, knee first, right into an icy mogul, ending my day (and weekend, and month) of skiing.
The good news is it’s not a fracture or full tear. My doctor suggested it was a partial tear or a sprain, and I agree (no MRI yet, I feel fairly confident that it’s just a bad sprain). The bad news is I was unable to finish my weekend skiing at Whistler. The even worse news is it’s starting to snow, hard, here in Tahoe. We’re looking at 7-9 feet over 7 days. It’s been a bit of a bummer.
But, as a good friend reminded me, this is a test of patience and gratitude. It’s easy to wake up to 2 feet of snow and get disappointed that I can’t go out and ski. It’s easy to want to ski on my knee anyways. But sometimes a positive mental attitude requires taking the harder route, and that’s what I’m focusing on. It takes mental grit, awareness, and deep breathing, but I’m 7 days into my cabin lockdown and maintaining a positive attitude. I may not be able to adventure and explore, but the beauty around me is captivating. When the entire lake is whitewashed, a certain magic is in the air. Even just stepping outside to take out the trash, you can feel it around you.
Life is about taking your experiences-the good and the bad- and creating a mental space and awareness in yourself to appreciate every moment. My knee may be hurt, but it will heal. Pain is temporary, but the memories I create here are forever. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to call this place home, if only for a little while longer, and some of the friendships I’ve created here will last a lifetime. That, in itself, makes everything else worth it.
Love and peace, humans,
emily

 

(ps- the picture was taken by one of my friends who had the pleasure of enjoying a bluebird powder day at Whistler the day after I hurt my knee…lucky bastards)

(pps-I still had a blast at Whistler.)

Reflections after 27 years of life

My dear friends,

This past Wednesday I turned 27. If I’m being honest, it was a bittersweet day. If I’m being completely honest, it was mostly bitter.
On Monday I lost one of my closest friends unexpectedly. It was the kind of call you never want to receive, a sobbing friend on the line telling you that this girl with whom you spoke to not even 24 hours before, had passed. Life’s not fair sometimes.
I’m no stranger to death- unfortunately, I’ve experienced my fair share of loss in the last several years. But this particular death truly shook me to my core. It has caused me to reflect a lot on the question of free will, of pain, and of life’s meaning in general.
Looking back at this last year, I’ve experienced a lot of loss. 26 wasn’t an easy year for me, but growth rarely comes from complacency, so despite the pain and loss, I am grateful. And I am stronger than I’ve ever been. So without further ado, I’ll leave you with my top 5 life lessons from my 26th year of life:
1) I am the only person who can control my happiness. This one was a tough lesson to learn. It’s easy for me to fall into a pattern where I depend on others (a significant other, a friend, my family) to bring me happiness. While all of those relationships are wonderful to have, ultimately I’ve learned that my happiness is up to me, and me alone.
2) The most significant growth comes through hardships. Personal growth rarely comes from being stagnant. Experiencing the speed bumps in life are truly what causes us as humans to blossom.
3) With good friends, you can conquer the world. Remember what I said earlier about how only you can control your happiness? I stand by that, but remember, you’re nothing without the people you surround yourself with. Friends who support you, push you, and inspire you are invaluable, and I wouldn’t trade mine for all the money in the world.
4) Your dreams will never happen…if you don’t work hard to achieve them. I had spent most of my life dreaming of traveling the world, of living in a ski town, of working remote. But…I didn’t do anything about it. Finally, after having enough, I changed that. I went from the lowest point of my life to what has become some of the highest. But it took work.
5) It’s okay to be alone. Whether that’s going to a concert, eating dinner in your favorite restaurant, traveling to Texas, or moving to Tahoe, it’s okay to do it on your own. In fact, I would highly recommend it. Doing things by myself has made me fiercely independent, self-aware, and confident. Plus, I talk to myself all the time so it’s basically like I have company 😉

There you have it—all the wisdom I’ve acquired in the last year. Take it or leave it, and I hope you can grow from it.

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I spent the first few hours of my 27th year hiking up Eagle Rock in North Lake Tahoe with a pot of yellow tulips for Kalli. They were planted in the snow as the sun rose in front of me. I love ya, girl.

Love,
Emily

Things to do in Tahoe (besides skiing)

If I’m being honest, the winter here at Lake Tahoe has been monumentally disappointing so far. We’ve seen one storm since I arrived 5 weeks ago, and that snow has all but melted after a slew of balmy 50º days. Resorts are considering closing for the season, bars and restaurants are doing layoffs and cutting shifts, and the city itself feels a bit…empty.

I have a friend who calls it “unseasonable depression”, and he wouldn’t be wrong. There’s a certain gloominess that’s descended on the town, but only in a strictly literary sense. Literally, it’s blue skis every day.

It’s easy to feel myself sliding into unseasonal depression. I came to here ski, damnit! But, as another friend reminded me, we live in the midst of unparalleled beauty. Lake Tahoe is a wonderfully magical place, full of hidden gems with unlimited options for exploration.

So, without further ado, I present to you my continuously evolving list of things to do in Lake Tahoe (besides skiing):

  1. Catch the sunset on East Lake. 26869451_553443905012828_6398979325139353600_n(1)Recommended spots include:
    • Secret Cove: also a nude beach during the summer. A nice trail runs along the slope above the cove and connects several beaches.
    • Hidden Beach: Located just near the mouth of the Truckee River, Hidden Beach is a beautiful, long stretch of sandy shore.
    • Chimney Beach: Tucked behind a steep slope, the large and flat boulders on this beach make it perfect for sunset gazing.
  2. Catch the sunrise on West Lake. sunrise Admittedly, I’ve only made it over to West Lake on two occasions so far to watch the sunrise, but I would argue the sunrise in Lake Tahoe is even more lovely than the sunset. The locations I’ve traveled to are:
    • Skylandia Beach: Once a dog-friendly beach, this stretch of sandy shore has some pretty outstanding views of the lake and west shore. You’ll find it hidden in the back of Lake Forest in Tahoe City.
    • Hurricane Bay Beach: Hurricane Bay Beach extends across a half mile of shoreline with great North Lake Tahoe views and amazing crystal clear water. Plus, it’s dog-friendly!
  3. Grab a beer (or glass of wine!) There’s plenty of bars and pubs around town, but some of my favorite North Lake watering holes are:
    • Whitecaps: Known for its pizza, Whitecaps also boasts some of the best beer in town, in my professional opinion. Located in Kings Beach.
    • Alibi Ale Works: Craft brewery in Incline Village, NV. Dog-friendly and all their beers are brewed from Lake Tahoe water!
    • Spindleshanks: Good food, even better happy hour. Located in Kings Beach.
    • Pete and Peters:  $3 wine for ladies night on Wednesdays. Need I say more? Plus, I can almost guarantee that no matter how many $3 glasses of wine you have, you will NOT be the drunkest skunk in the room.
  4. Go on a hike. hiking.jpgTahoe is known for endless hiking or walking trails, many of which are going to be covered in snow this time of year, but I’ve been doing my best to follow the lower-elevation trails on the Tahoe Rim Trail. 
  5. Rock climb. The gym I joined, High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village, has an indoor rock climbing wall that’s pretty sweet.
  6. Go check out some live music. 26384382_739229242938913_2345438342780289024_nGranted, coming from Seattle, the music scene in Tahoe doesn’t exactly stack up. That being said, there is still good music to be found:
    • South Lake Tahoe often will play live music at the Hard Rock (Murs is coming to town next week!) or Whiskey Dicks (yes-you read that right. I saw Deltron 3030 there last month!)
    • Truckee often has live bands playing at The Bar of America or Moody’s. I was at Moody’s on Friday and the crowd was, well, older, but the vibes were still great!
    • Crystal Bay Casino in Incline Village will occasionally have fun acts come through. Anderson East is coming in March.

So there you have it, folks! Despite the disappointing ski season, there’s still plenty of entertainment to be had in this beautiful city I call home. Time to make the best of it 🙂

stay lovely humans,

emily

What fills your soul?

I was speaking with a dear friend today about her future. She was talking about how she will be up for a promotion soon at her job, and she’d be making nearly double what she makes now. But she isn’t sure if she wants to take it.

So I asked her, “does it fill your soul? When you’re doing your job, do you think, this is it. This is what I was put on this planet to do.”

Because I have a piece of advice for her, and for you, and for everyone who asks- if your life doesn’t fill your soul, you need to find a new life.

I have a little story for you. I took a trip to Italy a while back that changed the projection of my life. Honestly, I wasn’t happy with my job. It was a fine job, don’t get me wrong, but I woke up every morning feeling empty, like something was missing. In a word, I wasn’t fulfilled. Then I went to Italy. And there was some point, maybe it was when we were taking a one person ski lift up the mountain in Capri, or maybe it was when we were hiking up to the summit of Mount Vesuvius, or maybe it was when we were eating Michelin star pizza in Naples, at some point I realized— this is it. My soul is filled. This is what I was put on this planet to do- I am here to travel and explore and see the world. I am here to experience new walks of life, to go outside of my comfort zone, to never sit still and to never be bored. To never spend a day wondering what I will do. To meet new people, to fall in love with their stories and ideas.

And that moment, that trip, is what catapulted me to where I am today. I became obsessed with finding a way to make my dream, my passion, a reality. I researched working on cruise ships, as an international sales executive, an au pair, a teacher. Anything to make my dream a reality. When this job at Zapier popped up, my life was changed forever.

Now, I’m two weeks into my adventures in Tahoe as a nomad. And I can officially say, my soul is full.

Is yours?

Love you all,
-emily

2017 Reflections

For me, 2018 is one of those years that goes against the grain. It’s one of those years where your life doesn’t go as planned. It’s a year for self reflection, self discovery, and self love. It’s a year of uncertainty, anxiety, and discomfort. A year of adventure, spontaneity, and spirit. It’s my 2017 antithesis; a journey to find myself.
If I’m being real here, 2017 was the worst year that I’ve had to date. In the age of social media, we spend a lot of time showing ourselves in the best light. I, for one, am guilty of this and I know for a fact this will come as a surprise to even my closest of friends. An extremely personal relationship in my life was falling apart, I was going through some difficult health issues, and my mental health slowly deteriorated to hit my lowest low towards the end of October. It was honestly difficult in those days to just get out of bed in the morning, let alone go to work or go out with friends and smile like everything was okay.
It’s during those moments that you learn who is truly there for you, and unfortunately who isn’t. That lesson wasn’t easy for me- I lost someone I cared deeply about, and it turned my world upside-down. I am still healing from those wounds. But, fortunately, I experienced so much more love from all other regions of my life. During my most vulnerable, my most broken, my support system embedded itself deeply into my soul, and for that I am eternally grateful.
2018 brings for me a new hope. The last few months have been an absolute whirlwind for me; in between trying to stay busy and have fun, I’ve been planning and organizing my new life. It’s hard to believe that in less than one week I’ll be on my way to begin this journey. I want to take this time to thank everyone who supported me in taking this giant leap of faith. We may be miles apart, but I will forever hold you near and dear in my heart. I love you all!
-Emily