And Now, For an Abrupt Change of Plot. . .

5 years ago I made what, at the time, seemed a terribly difficult decision. At the tender age of 25, I had been preparing to leave the sheltered Canadian province of Newfoundland and go traveling overseas with the unequivocal love of my life. Unfortunately, one month prior to departure an ill-timed and particularly heart-wrenching break-up left me with an awkward choice: Should I still board that plane, even though ‘we’ had become just ‘I’? Or should I abandon plans and allow my limping heart time to heal before hurling it halfway across the world, over an ocean and into foreign lands and potentially disastrous situations?

In the end, it just seemed easier to go. Flights had been booked, visas arranged; momentum was behind me and it would have taken more effort to cancel plans rather than just follow through with them. Still, I deliberated the choice up until the very last moment, having approximately 4 panic attacks in the remaining interim. But in the end, I did board that plane.

Lil’ ol 25 year old me preparing to head off.

Making the decision may have been challenging as all hell but actually leaving my home and job to begin traveling with a broken heart actually turned out to be one of the easier things I’ve done. Continue reading

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Reasons to Travel #02 – Life Sampling

best. cocktail. buffet. ever.

NOMS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like buffets. Boxes of mixed chocolates. Appetizer platters. Miniature bottles of alcohol. Packs of tiny, packaged cheeses.

I like variety. I like sampling, and trying new things (sometimes off plates not my own, much to the chagrin of my company). And yeah, sometimes you just want the old favourite, the comfort of the familiar. . . but you’d never have found that favourite to begin with if you hadn’t, at some point, initially tried it. And tastes change – I’m guessing you weren’t a fan of that rich, smokey scotch you now adore so much back when you started drinking. On the flip side, that sugary crap you downed so enthusiastically back in uni might well turn your stomach nowadays.

Maybe you’re someone with a limited palette. Maybe, even at age 35, you’re still more than content with microwaved hot dogs and instant mac-and-cheese for supper 3 nights a week. And that’s cool. . . as long as it’s making you happy. And, just to be clear, if your diet isn’t supplying you with the nutrients you need to maintain energy throughout the day, or is causing you to become so obese that just getting up the stairs to your apartment is a dreaded struggle for you each and every day. . .that’s not making you happy.

It is, as always, about making choices that positively serve you. And it’s difficult to decide what is good for you if you never step out of your comfort zone to sample the other options that are out there. Continue reading

Taking it Back With You

I am an idiot. I should have known better. This was the third time I’d returned to Canada since I began traveling 5 years ago, and I was fully aware of the many reverse culture shock-y things that can occur when one comes back to one’s country of birth after time spent abroad. I knew that travel had created a healthier life-style for me not because travel was some glorious, magical cure-all, but because of the habits that a life in transit forced or inspired me to adopt; among them, an appreciation of the everyday.

Which is why I feel the prat for not maintaining the habits I was keeping while traveling to record for this blog upon arrival back ‘home’.

While on the road there were 5 things I was never without: my phone, my camera, paper, pen and my passport. Alright, I can probably do without my passport in my home country but the rest were what allowed me to record my thoughts, take notes, capture memories and, through social media, stay connected during the course of it all. This is an ongoing blog. I’m not done. But I stopped these habits. Why? Continue reading

A Vagabond’s Guide to Driving in India:

The short version of this guide is simply, ‘don’t’. But, for those of you not dissuaded by cautionary warnings and sound, informed advice for maintaining your personal safety/sanity, below are some helpful tips I learned from my time on Indian roads.

Firstly, I should point out that I am no expert; not on Indian traffic laws and certainly not on motorcycles. I earned my license the summer prior to leaving for India and had, in total, approximately 4 months of riding experience behind me, gleaned from well paved roads in a quiet corner of Atlantic Canada. My 1984 Honda Magna (aka ‘Michael‘) had been just temperamental enough that I was familiar with stalling in public, how to get a bike going off a rolling start, and what it felt like to find out your ‘fuel low’ light doesn’t work by running out of gas 30 km shy of the middle of nowhere.

My advice will be (as all advice is, really) specific to my experience, which was riding a 2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Electra (aka ‘Hrithik’), over the course of 2 1/2 months, from the Northern town of Uttarkashi to the Eastern hill station of Darjeeling. I’ll get some actual, practical advice up on things like ‘buying a bike in India’ and ‘repairs along the road’ later as a part of a larger Indian resource post. . . .but, for now, one dozen general pointers for touring India by bike: Continue reading

Day One

I sold off or gave away most of what I owned back then, and put the rest into storage. When I left St. John’s, Newfoundland for Dublin, Ireland in the summer of 2007, working holiday visa in hand, it was with a backpack, a laptop bag, and two small suitcases filled with the gear I’d need to tattoo; my occupation at the time and the way I’ve funded my travels to date.

Flash forward four and a half years and both my luggage and destination look considerably different. The backpack is the same, though its contents have switched up a fair bit. I certainly didn’t have Malaria meds and a UV water sterilizer packed when I was heading off to Ireland. And the two suitcases have been dropped, leaving the laptop bag as my only other piece of luggage. Well, unless you count the motorcycle helmet I’m dragging around in anticipation of the Enfield I’ll pick up in Rishikesh, north of my current location: Delhi, India.

South Delhi to be entirely accurate. I arrived at a guest house here after a ride in a cab that was little more than an auto-rickshaw. Pre-paid for at the airport, the approximately 24 km ride had cost 350 rupees, or around 7 Canadian dollars. My flight arrived in the dead of night, which meant that, as I laid down in the guest house bed that evening, I’d no real idea what would be outside of my window come dawn. Continue reading