Category Archives: Inspiration

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Why You Absolutely Need to Take a Meditation Vacation

It’s a common and admirable goal to travel as a means of “finding yourself,” but sometimes the stresses of being in a new place or cramming in sightseeing opportunities can prevent travelers from actually calming down, getting centered, and coming home rejuvenated.

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Enter the meditation retreat—the ultimate antidote to burnout. Practicing mindfulness during vacation has loads of benefits:

1. It lets you slow down. By prioritizing quiet reflection, you’ll have a chance to reconnect with yourself and your own internal rhythms. Drop the distractions, affectations, and stressors, and remember what it means to just be you.

2. It teaches focus. Setting a goal to be mindful and present—in some ways, doing “nothing”—is actually really tough. Meditation forces you to learn how to stay present and committed to a goal.

3. It provides clarity. Practicing mindfulness requires you to confront personal demons and connect to inner feelings and desires, all of which increases self-awareness and empowers you to pursue goals.

4. It cultivates peace of mind. Removing external pressures and settling into a relaxing space can reduce stress, broaden your perspective, and cultivate equanimity, or the ability to calmly accept circumstances as they arise.

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How to Plan A Meditation Retreat

Intrigued? Then it’s time to get planning.

All-inclusive meditation retreats can be found around the globe, as in Nosara, Costa Rica, a favorite destination of international yogis. The Harmony Hotel, Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, and Costa Rica Yoga Spa all offer remarkable mindfulness retreats.

Some people also choose to go the DIY route and plan their own retreat. Customizing a retreat lets you choose exactly where to be and what to do in addition to meditation. Retreats can include passive activities such as massages, meditation, acupuncture, and spa treatments or more active options like yoga, hiking, dancing, arts and crafts, or gardening—it’s all up to you!

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To plan a retreat, start by selecting a serene location full of natural beauty, whether it’s mountains, rivers, forests, or the ocean. Not sure where to go? Here are a few places that are home to some of the most popular retreat destinations:

After settling on a destination, take the time to figure out where to eat, what activities to participate in, and what you want each day to look like while on retreat—the structure is up to you, but make sure not to cram the schedule too full and to allow room for meditation each day. Do the planning in advance, and you’ll have nothing to do but relax and re-center upon arrival.

Whether you decide to attend an organized retreat or create your own at one of many remarkable destinations, the intention you bring to the experience will determine how you feel at the end of it. May the ommms be ever in your favor.

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The 7 Best Road Trips For Last Minute Getaways

Pack a backpack and grab your friends, a cooler, and the car keys — it’s time for a road trip. Not all adventures need months of planning, and there are amazing destinations closer than you might think. We put together some of our favorite trips for a spur of the moment getaway you won’t regret.

  1.    Cooperstown, New York

Sports lovers flock to Cooperstown, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. After spending time immersed in baseball history, take in a game at Doubleday Field or visit the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum. The village has plenty of other attractions, including Brewery Ommegang,  Cooperstown Distillery, and the Fenimore Art Museum. Stay at the Landmark Inn Hotel, located in the heart of Cooperstown’s historical district and minutes away from Doubleday Field.

  1.    Palm Springs, California

Less than a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a road trip straight into a desert oasis. The town has been dubbed “Hollywood’s Playground” as it attracts celebrities looking for an escape and a relaxing break of their own. Breathtaking views can be found on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or via hot air balloon. If staying closer to the ground is more your thing, stay at Raintree’s Cimarron Golf Resort or lounge poolside at the luxurious Riviera Palm Springs. Dine at the iconic Purple Room Restaurant and Stage for dinner and a show, or go for drinks and entertainment at Rocks Lounge, located in the stunning Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel.

  1.    Indiana Dunes State Park – Chesterton, Indiana

This gorgeous three-mile stretch of beach along Lake Michigan’s shoreline is just an hour outside Chicago and two and a half hours from Indianapolis, making it the perfect Midwest summer road trip. Explore the historic sand dunes and hiking trails, or relax on the beach and soak up some summer color. There are plenty of affordable hotels nearby, like the Hilton Garden Inn Chesterton and Best Western Plus Portage Hotel & Suites. Try your luck at the slots by capping off your weekend at the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in nearby Michigan City

  1.    Bainbridge Island, Washington

The natural beauty of this island is worth the hour-long drive from Seattle (or three-hour drive from Portland). Take in majestic scenes from the Cascade Mountain Range and the Puget Sound while you visit wineries and farmers markets, then learn more about this charming island at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. Book a last minute room at the Best Western Plus Bainbridge Island Suites or bring the pup and check in to the pet-friendly Island Country Inn, complete with pool and complimentary breakfast.

  1.    Beaufort, South Carolina

History buffs will love making the trip to Beaufort with its collection of Civil War-era homes. Take a walking tour of Old Beaufort, hit the links at the Sanctuary Golf Club, or even go dolphin watching. Make the most of the weekend by staying in one of Beaufort’s cozy hotels, like the Rhett House Inn, which can be found minutes from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Don’t forget Beaufort is known for its Lowcountry cuisine, so stop by Saltus River Grill or get your fill of southern fare at Breakwaters Restaurant and Bar.

  1.    Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is a quick two-hour drive from Austin and known for its friendly small-town atmosphere. With a strong German heritage, there is no shortage of bratwurst and beer in local restaurants. In Fredericksburg, it’s easy to find a charming and affordable place to stay for the weekend, like the Fredericksburg Inn and Suites or the Peach Tree Inn and Suites. Downtown Fredericksburg is lined with adorable antique shops and friendly bars with live music streaming from open windows. If that’s not enough, the surrounding hillside is dotted with wineries and breweries available for tours and tastings.

  1.    Boulder, Colorado

Get your cameras ready, because a trip to Boulder is sure to provide stunning mountainous views. Less than an hour from Denver, and two hours from Colorado Springs, Boulder is a great for an outdoor weekend. Visitors can stroll along the storefronts with locals at the historic Pearl Street Mall or go big and take a 1,300-foot climb over the city to Flagstaff Mountain. Stay at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa just off Pearl Street and book a post-hike treatment at their full-service health spa. The Courtyard by Marriott Boulder offers daily cooked-to-order breakfast for free so you can start your day out right before taking in the city.

 

7 Things To Know Before Traveling to Cuba

While adventurous travelers are urged to visit  Cuba before authenticity goes the way of a Starbucks on every corner, travelers should take a little extra time preparing, as heading to the island still isn’t that easy.  Whether planning to spend time relaxing on sandy beaches or exploring on a bike, the all-inclusive resorts of Varadero  are a great options for those just seeking some R&R.  Just note the following before booking your trip:

  1. Prep for the Sky

Direct flights from the US are still scarce and expensive, but that’s bound to change. Make sure to purchase traveler’s insurance when purchasing tickets — it is required to enter Cuba, and customs will likely do an insurance inspection upon arrival in Havana. Regardless of the route take to get there, get to the airport at least three hours before departure time, as check-in procedures are bound to take longer than usual.

  1. Go off the grid

Most hotels will have Internet cards for sale, and Wi-Fi in their lobbies, but with no real infrastructure, access is always spotty. To avoid frustrations, book any tours or activities, before arrival. Download local maps or purchase paper ones, and print out all travel documents that may be needed while abroad.

  1. Get around

Vintage cars converted into taxis are everywhere in Havana, and as glamorous as that may seem, it is important to note that they are not retrofitted. Beware that most cars, both government and privately owned, will have no seat belts, no air-conditioning, and no meters, even though they are supposedly mandatory.

  1. Get rid of the Benjamins

Cuba has two currencies, the CUC (Cuban Dollar) and the CUP (Cuban National Peso.) Tourists should exchange their cash into CUCs, as non-Cubans are not supposed to be in possession of CUPs.

There are very few ATMs around, but if if withdrawing cash is a must, the best bet is to do so at the Havana airport upon arrival.

Exchange rates are horrible for American dollars, and much better for Euros and Pounds—consider exchanging dollars into Euros before heading to Havana, and then exchange them into CUCs once in Cuba.

This may change in the near future, but as of now, it is nearly impossible to use credit cards to pay for anything in Cuba. In any case, make sure to inform the bank and credit card companies about any travel.

  1. Try the Cubano

There is still a heavy embargo on food, so meals may not be as spectacular as expected.  As a rule, “paladares” or privately owned restaurants will always be much better than government-run eateries. When in doubt, stick with local fruit, coffee with milk or “cafe con leche” and a Cubano sandwich, known in Cuba as a “jamon con queso.”

  1. Pack it light

Small doorways and cobblestone streets are not conducive to carrying a lot of luggage. With 24.1 billion bags being mishandled by airlines each year,  there is an advantage to packing all the essentials in a carry-on. Even bare necessities can be hard to track down in Havana,  so try to anticipate any needs.  Forgetting a toothbrush, means it may be days before finding one for purchase.

  1. Learn a lesson

A Spanish phrase here and there will go a long way with the locals. Most people will want to chat but very little english is spoken outside of the resorts. Any effort to speak the language will tend to be appreciated. For those looking to enjoy some salsa dancing, take a couple classes before embarking on the trip. Lessons will only better the odds for joining in on the fun on the dance floor!

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Project Pangia – A Cool Kickstarter Campaign You Should Support

I randomly found the Project Pangia Kickstarter campaign a week ago on Twitter. I’m not exactly sure how — but I’m glad I did.

I watched the video (below), and within 5 minutes had backed the project.

I reached out to the person behind the project, Alexandra Ernst — and had a 45 minute skype/phone discussion while she was in transit from San Francisco down to San Diego. We are both nomads, travel addicts, and committed to leaving this world better than we entered it — so there was lots of common ground to connect over.

Now, go back the project.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Living and studying in the Czech Republic

It was back in fall of 2011 when a good friend of mine had just returned from a semester abroad studying in Los Angeles, California. Apparently he had the time of his life there and wouldn’t get tired of telling me about his exploits, student life and several side trips to sin city Las Vegas and Mexico. I know several of his peers who got tired of hearing his tales over time (maybe it reminded them too much about how boring their own lives were?) but not me! I couldn’t get enough from his stories and eventually I came to a decision. I had to study abroad for a semester as well!

I had never really considered studying abroad and knew virtually nothing about it, except from what my friend had told me. So I rushed off to university and stormed into the ERASMUS office. For those who don’t know – ERASMUS is the European unions organization which goal is to promote student exchange in European countries. It’s a network connecting universities to each other and as a student you can even get a little stipend if you want to study abroad.

The nice woman in the office asked me where I wanted to go and of course I had no clue. The only things I wanted from a guest university I wanted were a) a big city with interesting nightlife b) lots of sun and c) pretty girls!

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Since my timing was pretty bad and I was showing interest at a late time, most slots were already full! But there were still three partner universities available which came close to my wishes: Milan in Italy, Cyprus and Prague, Czech Republic.

I had already been in Prague 10 years ago on a field trip organized by my school and connected great memories with the beautiful city. So my choice was clear: I’m going to study in the Czech Republic!

Armed with some clothes and some basic sentences in Czech I hopped on a night train from Germany to the Czech Republic in February 2012. I arrived on a freezing cold morning the next day. How beautiful this city is!

My contact from Charles University picked me up at the train station and showed me the way to my hostel, which was located right off Václavské náměstí or Wenceslas Square. Talk about a central location! Of course I couldn’t wait to explore the city and spent all day and most of the night just wandering around Prague, getting lost in old town and of course sampling lots of the delicious Czech beer that flows like water in this city.

Soon after my arrival in Prague the semester started and I was introduced to my fellow students. I met great people from all over Europe and also the United States. Right from the beginning my exchange semester was a non-stop blur of various activities. There were pub crawls, ERASMUS parties, field trips to neighbouring countries like Austria and Hungary, visits to sport events like an ice hockey game of Prague’s own team Sparta Praha and of course gallons of Czech beer. Of course sometimes I had to attend university as well!

I could go on and on about my experiences in Prague, how I got a gorgeous girlfriend with blue eyes from Slovakia, how I rented an awesome and ridiculously cheap apartment from a French professor who needed a housesitter and how I found a gym where Jean Claude van Damme had trained in his heyday. But to be honest, I had so many great experiences and met so many awesome people that there is no way to cover even a fraction of it in this short article.

So instead I will just focus on what the experience did for me and how it made me grow as a person.

Pascal studying abroad

What I learned in my semester studying abroad was going with the flow and just throwing myself into unknown situations. Back home I would often stick to my usual routine and meet the same people in the same places. Living in Prague, I would just go out at night, hit a random bar and start talking to all kinds of people. This led to some amazing nights out and often times I wouldn’t get home before dawn and had made a lot of new friendships along the way. One night I would get drunk with Finnish film students until the break of dawn and the next I was hanging out with students from Vysoká škola ekonomická v Praze (Prague’s university of economy). Every day was like a new adventure.

I carried this attitude home with me and back in my hometown I still go out at night just, going with the flow, meeting random people and seeing where the night takes me. So if you have the opportunity to study abroad, go ahead and take it! It’s an amazing opportunity for students and you really don’t want to miss out on it.

Pascal

Pascal is a university student from Germany and spent 5 months living and studying in the Czech Republic's capital Prague. He loves to travel and is the founder of Travel Income Blueprint.

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Backpacking the Havasupai trail in the Grand Canyon

Navajo falls, Havasupai

Within 36 hours, we were as far away from civilization as possible. From San Francisco, we had flown 500 miles to Las Vegas, driven 220 miles to Hualapai Hilltop, hiked 12 miles along Havasupai trail and were now standing at the rim of a gorgeous blue-­green waterfall named Navajo falls. We were in the heart of the Grand Canyon near a village called Supai and this was our first sight of the blue-­green waters of Havasupai. My first thought was, we should jump in now! In front of me lay a surreal but thrilling sight. A pool of water as clear as glass, shining with the iridescence of emerald-sapphire in the sunlight. But let me not get ahead of myself, I should first explain how we found ourselves in this paradise.

Hiking the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim might be more popular, but surely most people would find it impossible to forget their first sight of turquoise-blue Havasu Falls. It’s no surprise that Havasupai is also known as the Garden of Eden. It’s famous waterfalls – Navajo, Havasu, Mooney and Beaver form lush oases of blue-green beauty which are in surreal contrast with the red-rock desert.

View of the canyon from Hualapai Hilltop, Havasupai

Hiking on a Native American reservation is a unique experience. When hiking in a national park, we are aware that no human actually lives inside the park. What we see and experience is inside a protected area, kept pristine by limiting human activity. But a Native American reservation like Havasupai is home to many people. People who live and work on the land, reside in villages, have families, build communities – same as what we do. But what makes this unique is the remote nature of their lifestyle. Supai village is far away from anything resembling urban modernity. In fact, Supai is the only place in the entire United States which still receives its postal mail by mule! Which is not to say that the locals do not live comfortably and have access to internet. But for a village which is deep in the valley of the Grand Canyon where the only way in and out is by hiking, riding a horse or taking a helicopter, the sense of remoteness becomes part of it’s identity. For me, coming from a lifestyle where I was used to being online and available every waking moment, I was looking forward to experiencing this remoteness firsthand.


Backpacking on the Havasupai trail

We drove from Las Vegas to Hualapai Hilltop and started hiking before noon. The trail is rough and strewn with rocks and pebbles. Watch out for fragrant mule dung! We walked through tall narrow canyons with walls pressed in closely on us. We watched the red-rock desert sand glint in a thousand different shades of gold and vermilion as the sun shone brightly overhead. The crunch of sand underneath our feet echoed off the canyon walls. We scrambled aside on hearing the thundering hooves of a fast-approaching mule train. To truly experience Havasupai, it is imperative that one hike it.

There are no evident signs on the trail so most people try to complete the hike in daylight. As we walked, the night got darker and once familiar sights & sounds took on a scary life of their own. Even though we were a large group, there was silence as everybody focused on walking. All was well until a horse neighed loudly in a field next to us and made us all jump out of our skin! Soon a signpost encouragingly informed us that we were a mile away from the village. As we approached Supai, it appeared completely deserted and empty. A few dogs howled loudly, raising a racket as they sensed strangers passing by. It was a spooky welcome but we were looking forward to a good night’s rest after backpacking 10 miles!

Rejuvenated the next morning, we headed out to explore Supai’s famed blue-green waters. Geared up in swimsuits and daypacks we hiked to the nearest falls a mile from the village – Navajo falls. The original Navajo falls used to be 75 foot high, but the present falls were created by the 2008 flash floods. The destructive nature of the floods is evident by how the earth’s crust has been ripped apart and the river has made its way through, as a gentler waterfall. The area is now surrounded by a lush green oasis in the middle of the desert landscape.

Havasu falls, shades of turquoise and blue

From Navajo we continued hiking to Havasu falls which is half a mile away. You’ll hear Havasu before you see it! The water leaps off from a height of 100 feet, crashing into the canyon below. Nearby, Havasu Creek makes a perfect swimming spot with it’s warm mineral-rich waters. The sight of these turquoise-blue waters was so tempting that we jumped in without hesitation for a lazy afternoon swim.

An afternoon swim in one of the many mineral-rich pools formed by Havasu Creek

After swimming and a picnic lunch we had time left for one more waterfall. Beaver falls is stunning, but a good hike away. We decided to visit Mooney instead. Mooney is well known for it’s treacherous and exhilarating climb down the vertical canyon walls to get to the base of the falls. All we could grab onto as we slid down the slippery red-rock canyon walls were rusty chains and huge nails hammered into the canyon. I don’t recall why we were insane enough to do this, but once we started, pure adrenalin just kept us going.

Hiking down the slippery vertical canyon walls of Mooney Falls – Adrenalin rush!

The canyon walls are slick with water since the falls are right next to us. There is no actual path, except for chains and nails. A few wooden sticks and planks are strewn across resembling makeshift ladders. At one point I was swinging from one chain to another like a monkey! Glad to report that this monkey and her monkey friends made it down to the base of the waterfall safely.

We made it! Ecstatic at the base of Mooney Falls

Supai village has a population of approximately 200+ people who live and work on the reservation. They own horses and mules which are necessities for getting around in the desert. Incoming tourists help to keep business going. We saw several locals who were busy driving the mule trains and carting tourists back and forth on horses or flying them in helicopters. They always gave us shy smiles and friendly nods.

Supai Village scene: horses grazing, wooden cabins, red-rock canyon walls

Our day in Havasupai was so wonderful that we did not want to leave! But as it always does, morning came all too soon. As we started hiking back on the trail slowly and steadily, several mule trains passed us. It was a surreal wild west scene, cowboy hat clad locals on horses and mules, galloping along at a hurried trot.

A mule train kicks up dust as it thunders past us on the trail

An old Native American man I met on the trail told me he did this hike twice or thrice every week. He was used to it by now and said he enjoyed the exercise. Since he couldn’t afford a horse, this was the only way for him to commute. I was in awe of his endurance and energy to be able to walk 18 miles round trip every time he needed to go into town!

As we made our way back to Hualapai Hilltop, I looked back and marveled at how even a short time spent in any place, no matter how remote and desolate, opens up its beauty to us. Hiking in the desert, swimming in the waterfalls, talking to the locals, watching out for mule trains and experiencing the raw beauty of Havasupai will stay with me forever.

If you go:

Make sure you get a permit to hike in the reservation. More information here.

What to see: Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls
Where to stay: The Havasupai Falls Lodge
Photo credits: All photos are by Trupti Devdas Nayak

Trupti Devdas Nayak

Trupti Devdas Nayak is a freelance writer and photographer who is as passionate about travel as she is about writing. Her greatest joy is when she combines these interests to craft a story that is both compelling and evocative. Among other things, Trupti has trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, snorkeled with sharks in Oahu, witnessed horses dancing flamenco in Andalusia and has hiked in over 30 national parks around the world and counting. She writes about her experiences at Exploring the Blue Marble.

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Travel Inspiration: An Interview with Matt Barby

Matthew BarbyThis week I welcome Matt who is one of the blogging team behind Melted Stories, a travel blog that offers up resources for backpackers – between the five authors they manage to cover a lot of the world with their quirky team. 

I asked Matt to give me just a couple of minutes of his time to tell me more about how he manages work and travel, as well as current projects and upcoming travels.

1) What do you do?

I manage online marketing for a digital marketing agency in the UK and also own the Melted Stories travel blog. I am a travel fanatic so will often work remotely and backpack across countries as I go. I love to write about all things related to backpacking and also have a big passion for marketing so I always have something to keep me busy!

2) What was your biggest obstacle to traveling and how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle has to be managing my career alongside travelling. I found it very hard at first and decided that it was either one or the other. Over time I realised that this really wasn’t the case and have since managed to enjoy a great balance between pursuing my career and enjoying the world!

3) What are you most excited about right now?

I’m really excited about my next trip that I’m planning to South America. I haven’t spent any time in the continent and it’s always been somewhere that I’ve wanted to go. Peru will definitely be the place that I’m most looking forward to – I get excited just thinking about it.

4) What’s next for you?

I’m always finding new projects to work on and new things to do – my focus at the moment is to build a good following to my travel blog and establish it as a top travel resources for backpackers over the world.

5) What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?

Aside from the charities that I’m passionate about, helping small businesses and individuals achieve their goals and get their messages heard is a big passion of mine. I love working closely with young entrepreneurs to help and advise them on various aspects of business so that they can make the most of their potential.

A big thanks to Matt for sharing; if you’d like to connect or find out more about Matt’s recent travels, you can find him on his OHW profile.

Matt on Twitter and Facebook
Melted Stories travel blog


We regularly feature inspiring travelers who have taken the leap into travel as a part of our travel inspiration interview series. If you’re a traveler keen on being profiled here, sign up for an OHW account and fill in your profile — then shoot me an email (shannon at ohheyworld dot com).

Shannon O'Donnell

A storyteller and knowledge-seeker captivated by the world. Formally an actress and web-nerd, I left in 2008 to travel solo, volunteer, and hunt down delicious vegetarian eats all over the world. She recently published "The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook, and her travel stories and photography are recorded on her travel blog, ALittleAdrift.com.

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Anna in London

Travel Inspiration: An Interview with Anna Zalazar

Anna in LondonA big welcome to Anna Zalazar this week, who has some really wonderful travel lessons to share on not only what she is doing now, but one of the bigger obstacles she faced in leaving to travel, one I shared as well, which was just buying the ticket and committing to travel.

I was fascinated to learn about some of the educational social work her family is doing in Philippines and the impact it has had on the rural communities there. Read on for a little slice of her travels and the lessons she has learned through travel (this links to one of my favorite posts on her site.

1) What do you do?

In 2011, I quit my job and went on a one woman adventure to South East Asia thinking I was going to travel only for 6 months. Somehow that 6 months turned to 1 year. On my way back to the US, I got a connecting flight to Europe and decided to stay. I spent about eight months traveling around the continent, volunteering, living and teaching English in Spain. Overall I’ve been traveling for 2+ years now.

2) What was your biggest obstacle to traveling and how did you overcome it?

I think the biggest obstacle with my decision to travel was in terms of my career. I left behind a very good and comfortable job with a company I was proud to work for in exchange of uncertainty and the unknown. But my dreams and curiosity were a lot stronger than me wanting to stay with the familiar. Though it scared me to death, I felt and knew that there was more to life than being on the ‘safe’ side.

How I overcame it was a bit funny. I stumbled upon a big seat sale with AirAsia and bought 16 flights all around the countries in South East Asia. I knew that if I didn’t do something drastic I would not pull the trigger. Making it irreversible meant that there was no turning back. So after almost half a year of delaying my travel plans, I set a date of departure and quit my job.

3) What are you most excited about right now?

Nothing is more exciting to me than seeing my dreams come to life. In the past I’ve had so many plans that didn’t work out. One example was that I’ve always planned to backpack around Europe but never realized it due to having few vacation leaves. Coming to Europe wasn’t exactly on my travel plans but after going down to Switzerland on a connecting flight and deciding to travel around Europe, I knew I would be back when the three-month visa period ended. I came back to live and freelance in Madrid. Before, I never thought that was even possible. I think that’s the magic of long-term travel. It helps you remove all your mental barriers to let you realize that anything is really possible.

Other than realizing my dreams, I am very excited about getting feedback from my family, friends, blog readers and solo adventurers that are inspired with what I’m doing and have started doing it themselves.  It makes me feel that I’m a part of something bigger. It has always been my belief that if everyone marches to the beat of his/her own drums, the world will be a happier place.

4) What’s next for you?

I’m already overdue for my yearly family visit in the Philippines. I’m off to Manila in a few days. :)

5) What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?

I am passionate about learning and I’ve been fortunate when it comes to getting the best education both from traditional schooling and from the real world schooling with my travels. But it’s not that easy for everyone, especially in my home country.

Last year I went to visit my cousins’ rural province of Jagna Bohol. I found out why both of them had chosen to live the simple life in the province despite having doctorate degrees and amazing work opportunities even after receiving an Asian Nobel Prize award. I learned that their institution employs a dynamic learning program emphasizing independent learning over teacher lectures. The concept is simple and very much like traveling: learning by doing.

The students from my cousins’ school are people from humble backgrounds and so the school provides a low-cost quality education despite conditions of great scarcity and daunting poverty. The results of their program are amazing as a majority (if not all) of the students have passed national exams and university admissions test. Moreover, scientists and Nobel laureates visit them in their small town province in Jagna to learn more about their program. I’ve been lucky to include this small town in my adventures when I have been invited to talk and share with them what I’ve learned in my travels. I fully support and am very passionate about this cause not only because it’s a unique program that woke up the nation but also because of the generosity of my cousins’ hearts. They both serve an inspiration to me on how I want to live my life.

A big thanks to Anna for sharing ; if you’d like to connect or find out more about Anna’s recent travels, you can find her on her OHW profile.

Anna on Twitter and Facebook
Annzventures travel blog


We regularly feature inspiring travelers who have taken the leap into travel as a part of our travel inspiration interview series. If you’re a traveler keen on being profiled here, sign up for an OHW account and fill in your profile — then shoot me an email (shannon at ohheyworld dot com).

Shannon O'Donnell

A storyteller and knowledge-seeker captivated by the world. Formally an actress and web-nerd, I left in 2008 to travel solo, volunteer, and hunt down delicious vegetarian eats all over the world. She recently published "The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook, and her travel stories and photography are recorded on her travel blog, ALittleAdrift.com.

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Travel Inspiration: An Interview with Sara Rodriguez

Sara rodriguez interviewToday I am so happy to welcome Sara Rodriguez to our travel inspiration series because she has a style of travel that very closely aligns with the core mission behind OHW — the idea of mindful travel. 

Sara is from Spain, and her travel blog is unique in that she offers hand translated content in both Spanish and English — a very nifty feature that allows her to share her message and mindful travel tips more widely.  Let’s check in with her and see what she’s up to lately:

1) What do you do?

I have a daily job in a bank, but I’m a travel blogger too, which is my real passion. I always loved planning trips, not just for me but for other people. I have what I call a “Mindful Travel philosophy”: I enjoy every step of traveling, from choosing the destination, organization of the itinerary, traveling, and then the moments back home remembering those special days.

2) What was your biggest obstacle to traveling and how did you overcome it?

I think my biggest concern when I travel is that I love so much every country I discover and I really like meeting other people, knowing how they live, and learning their social problems, and I involve myself so much that I think then I don’t want to go back to daily life.

But regarding the rest of the usual obstacles as money, language, cultural differences…I really enjoy every part these things, and always learn about every scary moment or every problem I may have in my travels. That changes me and makes me grow as a person.

3) What are you most excited about right now?

I’m truly excited about my travel blog. It motivates me every day and encourages me to keep alive two of my passions: traveling and photography. Also allows me to meet amazing people from all over the world and share my desires and concerns.

4) What’s next for you?

Travel, travel and more travel! I don’t perceive my life without my family and my trips. And if I can travel with my family, be with them and discover new places, I’m the happiest person in the world!

5) What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?

When I travel, I always want to be social and respectful with everything surrounding me. I love to meet locals, how they live and their problems, I try to learn about NGOs or social projects in the area and be involved however I can. I think people from developed countries have a duty to try to make a better world and that’s something I always have in mind. Sustainable and Humanitarian travel is possible!

A big thanks to Sara for sharing ways she is able to integrate a social mindset and a humanitarian approach to her travels; if you’d like to connect or find out more about Sara’s recent travels, you can find her on her OHW profile.

Sara on Twitter and Facebook
Mindful Travel by Sara in Spanish and English


We regularly feature inspiring travelers who have taken the leap into travel as a part of our travel inspiration interview series. If you’re a traveler keen on being profiled here, sign up for an OHW account and fill in your profile — then shoot me an email (shannon at ohheyworld dot com).

Shannon O'Donnell

A storyteller and knowledge-seeker captivated by the world. Formally an actress and web-nerd, I left in 2008 to travel solo, volunteer, and hunt down delicious vegetarian eats all over the world. She recently published "The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook, and her travel stories and photography are recorded on her travel blog, ALittleAdrift.com.

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