One Month of Nomad Travel

Heather petting baby elephant
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My big year of change, adventure, and travel has begun, and I just completed my first month of nomad travel.  The month has been filled with crazy bus adventures, meeting up with friends in different cities, making rookie travel mistakes and learning from them quickly, adapting to different cultures, and learning new languages. Oh, and of course taking lots of photographs and having the time of my life! Nomad travel is defined as people who travel around from place to place without having one settled place where they live. The total of my nomad travel in the first month is 18 cities, 11 countries, which five were new, 2,077 bus miles and 10,135 air miles. This nomad travel trip brings my total of countries that I have visited to 23.

 

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Packing

Backpack and Carry on BagPacking for different climates (cold and warm) is a challenge especially since I was only taking two bags with me. I had to remember layers and know that I needed to do laundry once a week. The clothes I put in compression packing cubes which went into the big pack (Osprey Aura AG 65L). All of my camera gear and my laptop I put in a smaller carryon backpack (Osprey Questa 27). I didn’t pack all my camera gear (I would have needed more bags for that); I had to figure out what I would actually need then filter it down further. I also left my heavier tripod at home and swapped it with a smaller lightweight travel one (Slik Sprint Pro Tripod). Overall my large backpack weighed a total of 19.1 kg which is right under the limit for the budget airlines. Yeah! No extra fees!

Flight to Europe

For those that think flying to Europe is expensive, let me reassure you that you can definitely find cheap tickets to Europe anytime. I do all of my flight searching through Skyscanner. This site is by far the most comprehensive and up to date with sales and prices for flights to anywhere. Compare prices on flights with Skyscanner For this particular trip; I started looking in December for a one-way ticket to Europe. I searched from Detroit to Europe and clicked on the whole month of January. I was able to find a plane ticket to Edinburgh, Scotland for $250 leaving January 15th. The only catch was that I had to do a bit of traveling and waiting before I flew over the ocean. I first flew to Providence, Rhode Island (4-hour layover), then a stop in Dublin (5.5-hour layover), before arriving in Edinburgh on the 16th. As I flew toward my future, I saw a beautiful sunset reflecting on the water. What an excellent symbol of the sun setting on my old life as I flew to my new one.Sunset through plane window

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh skyline from Calton HillHigh Street HostelThe first leg of my 2019 world travels – I got into Edinburgh around 2 pm, which was just enough time to check into my very first hostel, High Street Hostel. Then hike up Calton Hill to see the sunset. It was super windy and cold. I was unsure of how my photos were going to come out since I was only hand-holding my camera. After watching the sun go down and freezing my face off, I went searching for MUMS Great Comfort Food. Skye took me here back in October, and I wanted to try it again. After walking down several streets, I found it. And it was just as good as I remembered, especially after freezing on the hill. Digging into the steaming, warm mash potatoes & sausage (bangers & mash), it warmed my insides right up!

I spent the rest of my two days in Edinburgh enjoying past places I’ve been to and spending some time in the National Gallery looking at Monet paintings. Oh and getting used to living out of a backpack and using shared hostel facilities. Which has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. I also had to get my international phone plan all sorted out. I had just switched to T-Mobile before I left thinking I would be all set with their global plan so, I wouldn’t have to get SIM cards. Nope! I get to Scotland and have no data plan. Nothing like being on the phone late at night in my bunk at the hostel talking with the help desk in America trying to get it fixed. Bangers and Mash at MUMS Great Comfort Food

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin SunsetDublin was a surprise for me. I had only been there overnight once before so, didn’t get to experience the city. I made up for it this time by spending 4.5 days in Dublin. My friend, Rebeccas was flying in from England for the weekend, so we had lots of plans to see the most we could of Dublin. We checked out Pinterest to find the most Instagrammable spots in Dublin and made it our mission to go to as many as we could find. The free walking tour the Isaacs Hostel recommended was fabulous, and we got to see Dublin Castle. The hostel even put on a pub crawl that we joined. Rebecca and I explored the city and had a blast taking our Instagram photos and then heading to the Temple Bar area for some Irish Beef Stew. After Rebecca left on Sunday, I went exploring more of Dublin and discovered the Kilmainham Gaol, Lots of Irish history on the rebellions here. But, the highlight of Dublin has to be the Old Library at Trinity College. This is by far the coolest library I have seen.Isaacs HostelRebecca and I selfie at Dublin CastleIrish Beef StewTrinity College Old Library

Grayline Ireland Tour in Northern Ireland

Part of being a digital nomad traveler is to pitch tour companies, tourism boards, brands, and hotels. I did pitch to Grayline Ireland tours but, it was short notice. So, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t hear back from them. I decided to go on the tour anyway and am so glad I did. We visited four areas, Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Dark Hedges. The weather was chilly and windy, which made it difficult to take photos. Several times I felt almost like I was going to be blown over. But, these sites are typically jammed pack with tourists during the summer so, it was nice to get photos with only me in them. I did meet a nice girl, Shaye, from Australia who kept me company during the tour. Plus, it was nice to have someone else there to take each other’s photos. The other pleasant thing is that after a few days I did hear back from the tour company and now I can’t wait to go back and see these places again, but this time in better weather.Dunluce CastleGiants CausewayCarrick-a-Rede Rope BridgeDark Hedges

London, England

My next stop in my first month of nomad travel is London. I visited London three years ago and did most of the tourist sites then. This time I was only here for a couple of days before moving on to France. Since I knew I was taking the bus to Nice, I wanted to stay close to Victoria Coach Station. I ended up using the last of my Hilton Honor points to stay at the DoubleTree Hilton next to the station. It was nice to relax in a huge bed and not have to share a bathroom for a couple of days. This was my little treat to me, a goodbye to my old life.

A really good friend recommended me to go and see Wicked the musical which happened to be right down the street from the hotel. Wow! Words cannot describe how fabulous this musical is. I had tears running down my face at the end of the first act and almost all the way through the second. Absolutely amazing! This should be on everyone’s list to see when visiting London. The next day I explored an area I hadn’t been to before, Borough Market. This is one of the largest and oldest markets in London. I was feeling adventurous so, I was trying all kinds of things (French Duck, Seaweed & Cider Sausage, and my first ever Pad Thai). It was nice to try the Pad Thai in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Thailand and realizing that I actually liked it. On my last day in London, I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. This museum is impressive with all the large, massive sculptures. It is hard to comprehend how big these are and how small you feel while exploring this museum. And last but not least, a must while visiting London is eating Fish and Chips. No visit is complete without doing this!Wicked the Musical at the Apollo Theater in LondonGetting Thai food at the Borough Market in LondonInside the Victoria Albert Museum in LondonLondon Fish and Chips

Nice, France

Promenade des Anglais in NiceGetting to Nice had me on my first cross country overnight bus ride from London to Paris (3-hour wait in the bus station), changing buses then another overnight bus from Paris to Nice. This was a very long two days of traveling, but when we got to Nice, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and blue water on one side and the other had a view of snow-capped mountains so pretty they look painted. Somehow I just knew that I would love this city! And I was right! Things were a bit easier for me here since I can read French although I do wish I could speak it better. Or at least be more comfortable speaking it.

I did meet one lady, Muriel Herrick, who was 91 years old in the hostel and talked with her for a while. She used to be an actress and told me stories of how she remembered Picasso working down on the beach in Nice. She said they called him the ‘Dom,’ Dirty Old Man. What a character she is! On this nomad travel trip, I was learning all sorts of things as to how the hostels weren’t just for young people. Yes, there are lots of them, but I also saw entire families staying in the hostels along with older people.

Waves crashing on the beach in NiceView of beach in Nice

I decided to stay longer in Nice since the weather was so warm and I was having a great time exploring the city. I spent my mornings going to a pâtisserie to get a croissant for breakfast then walk along the boardwalk to listen to the waves crashing into the beach. After that, I would go wandering along all the streets and take photographs. Then a quick stop in a cafe to get a Crepe for lunch. Everyone back home was concerned about my safety on this nomad travel adventure. But, I have to say that I haven’t had any issues of feeling unsafe. The most obvious feeling of security was in Nice where they had armed military walking the streets right next to the tourists and locals. I also think this might have been because they were ramping up for Carnival.Streets in NiceStrawberry Crepe in NiceMilitary walking the streets in Nice

There were a couple of mornings I did try to get up early to photograph the sunrise. With me being not a great morning person, this is going to be a hard thing to do on my travels. But, I am pleased with the ones I did capture in Nice.Nice Sunrise with waves and a fishermanSunrise with a biker silhouette in Nice

Saint-Paul de Vence, France

Saint-Paul de Vence is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riveria. And it is one of my favorite day trips from Nice. The village is filled with winding streets, alleys, hidden gems, cafes, along with tons of modern and contemporary art galleries. They say that Saint-Paul de Vence is where the center of Impressionism in Southern France was. I could totally see that with the fortified city on the hill and the sea in the background. Staying in one place for a while and taking day trips to find off the beaten path towns like this is something that I realized that I really enjoy doing during my nomad travel. Plus, it is convenient to hop on the city buses to drop you off and pick you up when you were finished exploring.

Èze, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

View of Nice from ÈzeÈze Village is another great day trip that I took from Nice. Although this was the day I was heading to Monaco, there is enough time that you can stop and visit Èze Village in the morning before you head over to Monaco. This village sits high on a cliff that overlooks the Mediterranean and provides distant views of Nice. Along with exploring all the winding streets and pathways in the town, there is also a beautiful cactus garden at the top of the village that costs 4€. 

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, MonacoMonaco was the first new country that I visited in my first month of nomad travel. This country or particularly Monte Carlo was a bit too rich for my bank account. As I walked around the town, there were so many high priced cars driving by and parked at the Monte Carlo Casino. I did walk into the casino lobby which had hundreds of glittering stars overhead that actually hid beautiful stained glass windows in the ceiling. To venture into the Casino, I would have had to shell out 17€, not sure if it is worth that. I did visit the Oceanographic Museum which was impressive. Read my post on Monaco if you would like more information on things to do in Monte Carlo.Monte Carlo Casino

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava CastleBratislava, Slovakia was an add to my nomad travel when Rebecca wanted to meet up again someplace new for both of us. We pitched to the Bratislava tourism board and was offered the Bratislava Card which provided us with free transportation and entrance to many museums around the city. We took them up on their offer and explored the heck out of this city; to having fun taking photos at Bratislava Castle, getting spooked out in the torture chamber area of the City Museum, and riding the bus out to explore Devin Castle. We definitely made the most out of using the Bratislava Card and thoroughly enjoyed this fabulous city. Heather in front of Bratislava CastleHeather with Cumil, Bratislava statueRuins of Devin CastleHeather on the Devin Castle ruin walls

Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn PalaceThere are so many activities to do in Vienna that it is difficult even to pick where you want to start. This was the 3rd country that Rebecca and I went to. It cost a whopping 7€ to take the bus from Bratislava to Vienna. We found an inexpensive hostel right next to the Naschmarkt and was all set to explore the city. We did pitch to the Vienna Tourism Board and was offered the Vienna City Card and a couple of food vouchers. Which was very appreciated because the food was amazing and we were loving eating all of it! We did spend quite a bit of time walking around the city and finding all the interesting architecture to photograph. The Schönbrunn Palace was very impressive inside and out. Loved seeing the Albertina Museum, but then again I love any museum that has Monet paintings. St. Stephens Cathedral was a fantastic church to visit even with the crowds of people. One of my highlights which there were many here was photographing Hundertwasser House and Village. The biggest one though was meeting up with my friend and fellow travel blogger, Leigh, and all of us getting Vienna State Opera tickets for 4€ to see La Traviata.Albertina MuseumInside St Stephens CathedralWiener Schnitzel at Glacis BeislHundertwasser House

Stockholm, Sweden

City Backpackers HostelSweden was an unexpected stop on my crazy month of nomad travel. I booked my plane ticket to Bangkok, Thailand through Skyscanner which had me flying out of Prague to Stockholm then to Bangkok. It was the cheapest flight out of Europe even though it had me staying overnight in Stockholm with a 23-hour layover. Before I would never have considered that long of a layover as acceptable, but now this gives me time to see a new city in a new country. Stockholm reminded me of back home with all the snow and to warm up, I went next door from the City Backpacker Hostel to have the most delicious meatball dinner.Swedish Meatballs

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Temples and StatuesSo here I am in Thailand, my first time in Asia and country number 23 on my nomad travel. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the country, people, and food. Some of my initial impressions started rough with riding in what seemed a rickety bus from the airport to my hostel and seeing how crazy they drive here. But, the cool thing is that it only cost me 20THB which converts to 63cents. It is so freaking cheap here! I can eat less than 100THB a day which is only $3. And yes, I am eating Thai food pretty regularly since Western food actually costs a lot more. Pad Thai

Bangkok has introduced to me many new things such as the street food vendors selling meat on a stick. This has become one of my favorite lunchtime meals. I have a couple of favorite vendors that I keep going back to especially the one who will sell me seven pork sticks and sticky rice for 25THB (80cents). Then I pick up a Strawberry smoothie for another 20THB. Yum! The other thing I have learned is how much the Thai people love their 7-Elevens, scooters, and Songthaews (taxis). But, my absolute favorite thing here in Thailand is the massages. I got a couple of foot massages in Bangkok and have moved up to the full Thai massages in Chiang Mai. These are amazingly wonderful! Street Food vendors in Bangkok7 Eleven, Scooters, and SongthaewsThai Foot Massages

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Condo in Chiang MaiI have finally settled down in one place here in Chiang Mai. I took over a lease on a condo so, I don’t have to live out of my backpack. My days consist of waking up and going around the corner to get a Kai Jeow (Thai Omelette) and walk to a cafe to work for the day on my blog or editing photos. I have done a couple of photo adventures here in Chiang Mai like the Elephant Freedom Project. Each day in Thailand has been a new learning experience.Feeding the Elephants

Bathing the Elephants in the river

To really get to know a place genuinely is to live there. As I ease into my new life, I’m enjoying every day here. I’m learning to speak Thai, meeting some really wonderful people, seeing some amazing temples, and I just started working with a local photographer. My first month of nomad travel has been more than I ever thought it could be and I am so looking forward to what comes next. I hope you are enjoying my nomad travel adventures and I will be posting more about these cities and my Thailand adventures. Let me know what you think; I would love to hear from you!

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