A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

Advertisements

German Beer Fests and Go Carts

europe, food, musings, Throwback Thursday, Travel

Millions of beer lovers are headed to the annual Munich mayhem of Oktoberfest this month. Starting on the 22nd of September this year (not in October like many think) the celebration is a mass gathering of international beer snobs and party hunters. Yet, itis not the only festival worth visiting in Germany.

While Oktoberfest has captured an international audience with its romantic imagery, Bavarian setting, and set up for the masses, it lacks some of the small-town or smaller festival charm. As the world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest is known the world over as the ultimate beer festival, what many tourists miss is the fun, intimacy, and excitement of other annual gems that dot the German landscape.

In April many metropolitan areas hold a Fruhlingfest, a spring beer festival. This equally enjoyable festival offers the same fun as the September version with a fraction of the people, lines, and a more German experience.

I found myself at a Fruhlingfest in April 2010 while visiting family friends in Stuttgart, Germany. Here it is where I made a dirndl and wore it to one of the best nights of my life. At Fruhlingfest I danced with US military kids, and local Germans. I rode go-karts on a 3-story track while buzzed and giggling insanely. I ate delicious and salty roasted almonds. I drank the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. I listened to 80s and 90s cover bands belt out radio classics. I laughed my ass off at versions of David Hasselhoff adorning rides and booths. I thought the CONDOM MAN was a gem that should be at every event involving narcotics.*

Fruhlingfest was the iconic night out everyone dreams of in Germany at a beer fest. My point being, that exploring in the off season and with locals means you get a deeper experience in a country you visit. I avoided the chaos of 6 million people and had the time of my 19 y/o life. It meant pushing out of a comfort zone, dressing up and joining the crowd, and I will never forget the euphoria felt while driving drunk go-karts.**

Happy Travels!

*the condom man sold funny condoms, funny novelties, and hats that looked like the latex devices.

**I even had a little romance with a Polizei named Mario… maybe named Mario… there was a lot of beer.

Why it Sucks Being a Millenial

colorado, musings

Hi yes, hello it’s me, another 25-year-old bitching about their privileged life with a macbook and an iphone 6s next to me.

I don’t earn a living wage, and I live in income-based housing, the sweater I am wearing has a hole in it and I haven’t had a real haircut in five months.

But by god I have the newest iphone. Yet, what if I told you it’s because I do most of my work on these two devices and without them I couldn’t do ANY work in my field right now? These two devices also guaranteed I could do my MA work and get my degree.

Okay, I could go and work for a retail company, again, or I could flip burgers. But I have a MA and I am trying to understand why that means the only job interviews I have got recently are for Kohl’s and a bank teller position. Both jobs only require a GED or a high school degree. This depresses me.

I have a really fun job right now, taking photos for a local teahouse, and creating newsletters, and running their social media pages. It pays okay, and I love who I work for, the teahouse also donates 10% of its revenue to education in cambodia, so I feel really high in Karma points with this job and it makes me happy. I get a lot of free tea, but it’s hard to pay all my bills and my fiance, who only has a GED makes about three times as much as me as a manager for a gas station.

Yet, this is the reality for most people my age. Some of us are back living with parents, and some of us are having rent paid by our parents. Some of us don’t even have a car, or ability to afford internet at home. I have been able to have both. Most of us have astronomical student loan debt. I’m part of that club too.

I have probably applied for 150 jobs in the last 5 months and have only had 5 interviews. For the majority of jobs I have been perfectly qualified or overqualified for, but I still haven’t got an interview. And I am not only applying for jobs in what I am educated to do, I have stretched and applied for everything in every corner of everything I am qualified to do. Thus, I have only interviewed at Kohl’s and a bank. I turned down Kohl’s because I wouldn’t get much pay, and I wouldn’t have consistent hours. I didn’t hear back on the bank.

This is my life right now, and what is frustrating is that I bought into the idea some 8 years ago in my junior year of high school that if I went to school and graduated, even if I got a lot of student loan debt, things would come together for me to have a good job, even $40,000 a year. Which in reality, if you live in as affluent of a city as I do, that 40k doesn’t go that far. However, I bought into the idea, found things I was good at, got a double major in my BA, and an MA in a year. I even went to less expensive schools and made sure I applied like crazy for scholarships, grants etc. I chose my MA partially because it was half as expensive and half the time of other programs, so that I would have less debt and less problems. I don’t regret my education, but my stomach churns at how much it cost me.

The average income for someone my age is $24,000 a year. At the moment, I would be happy just to make that. The average for other generations is $38,000. Note this includes people of all education levels.

I am not the only one in these shoes, these debt-laden and insecure, scary shoes. It’s no surprise that I am on several medications to deal with my anxiety and depression. Compound that with existing problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, and the loss of 10 relatives and friends I cared about just in the last five years and I sometimes feel like I’m drowning.

I have been very lucky too, but I also have to be honest about the trap I am in. At the moment, I don’t know if there is a REAL opportunity into success and I know a lot of people also feel that way. I have talked to career coaches and I’m even making my own company to freelance. Yet, I still feel in limbo, following coaching and steps that I know work for others, wondering when my big break is coming. It’s not that I or anyone is doing anything wrong, but that so much of the deck is stacked against us.

Anyone that wants to say we’re entitled doesn’t really understand the struggle all of us face. The ones of us that are succeeding are the ones that had resources to avoid student debt, and parents that could financially back certain endeavors. They’re the ones that didn’t have to work part time through school and could afford to join sororities and take unpaid internships. While I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to make and eat gluten-free because of my celiac disease.

I don’t want sympathy in writing this, I just want respect in my struggle. I want to afford my basic needs, and I just want a grown-up job. I think most of us can agree to that. The reality is that the economy compounded with a minimum wage that doesn’t reflect a living wage, and companies and systems that don’t give us benefits and full hours are a big problem. I’m not even talking little guys, but big players that refuse to pay for healthcare….I’m looking at you Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Target etc. I also want a hand up not a hand out, meaning: someone give me a fucking chance!

If you don’t believe this read more here, here, here, and here.

“The most educated generation in history is on track to becoming less prosperous, at least financially, than its predecessors.”

Thanks for listening. I’m going to go apply for more jobs now.

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

I wish, I wish

musings

If only it was as easy as blowing out candles and getting a unicorn.

We all have wishes. Or rather hopes and dreams for our future. We wish for more money, better hair, another child, to travel the world etc.

These dreams give us goals to strive for something better than what we have. Which can be a good thing. The bad thing is when we don’t act on making them a reality. No doubt obstacles come up but fighting for what you want is where real success happens.

Growing up with minimal resources I wished to see the world, instead of waiting for a fairy to come and give me round trip tickets somewhere, I got a job, lived with my parents an extra year, and didn’t own a car so that I could do my first trip to Europe. Since then I have been two more times and have no doubt been able to do this because of others helping me, supporting my dreams and making sacrifices. My student loans can tell you that story, but I believe it was worth every penny of debt. Because it taught me more about myself and my abilities than any classroom could, or therapy session.

Some people get $100,000 in credit card debt, or buy a $50,000 sports car. Which is fine, but I spent my money on my dreams and something that benefited me for my future and it’s not just the travel. My education with that oh so shocking price tag was a chance for me to explore my mind and make something of it. No I may never be a millionaire but I know more and more about the world than I could from any other thing. I know about how to read stories, write stories, share information accurately and how my work can change minds and influence others. For thy pen is mightier than the sword.

Anyway, wishing is great, I wish all the time, for a better job, for more travel opportunities, for more money, to be out of debt, to have a nice wedding. I wish for all of these things, but the reality is unless I work towards them, then I will not get there. No, it’s not as easy as get degree-get job- have wonderful life. Because I bought into that idea for the last 10 years and it’s not reality. Yet, it’s just trying to find ways to thrive in any manner possible. It’s not always glamorous, it’s not always perfect, but I’m learning and working towards the wish(es) and that is all that matters.

So for you, even if you just do one thing today, do something for your future. Buy a book on learning Spanish, download Duolingo and take a few FREE lessons, pin some ideas on a Pinterest board. All around, just do it for you.

Lately I took some steps on reducing debt, cutting back on expenses and contacting others for help on establishing something of value- my own business. It may be ugly for a while, and I might want to stay in a hole, and I might lose hope at times. Yet, at the end of the day I am working on a wish and that is all that matters.

 

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Top 10-Denver

colorado, Colorado Events, musings, Travel

I love the “big city” of Colorado. AKA Denver, which serves as the capital but also as a massive metropolis of something like 30 suburbs and small towns all connected and smooshed together. Denver proper is rather small, but is packed full of exciting and enjoyable activities for any visitor.

10. The Molly Brown House. 

Molly Brown, also known as the unsinkable Molly Brown. Also actually known in her lifetime as Margaret Brown…anyway, lived in Denver and was an activist and feminist in the early part of the 20th century. All around she was pretty badass and did a lot for not only Colorado but also the United States in her lifetime. The house has been restored to reflect her lifestyle and that of the Denver elite in the 1910s and 20s. It’s quite a look at the wealth of the time, and also her life and what she stood for and cared about.

Learn more from a project I did, Acta Historia

brown_gif

9. City Park

If you want to enjoy some of the 300 days of sunshine Colorado boasts about, there is not a more wonderful location in the city than at City Park, which is very close to my number 8 and 7 choices! It’s full of not only some great statues of Martin Luther King and Robert Burns, but also in the summer you can rent boats, there are fountains to play in to beat the summer heat. And always a few dogs to say hello to.

City Park - Heath Alseike-Creative Commons

8. Denver Zoo

Yes a zoo is a zoo, but the Denver zoo boasts an impressive collection of creatures for a mid-sized city, and is home to some amazing habitats! Their recently renovated elephant enclosure is like walking into another country! They offer lots of goodies for kids to interact with, and for adults, it’s just a fun time to get face to face with otters and primates!

zoo-map

7. Denver Museum of Nature and Science

I have been going to this museum at least once a year for as long as I can remember. I even worked here for a while in college, and it was a dream come true! I love this place, and with revolving and evolving exhibits there is always something new to see! It’s always a lot of fun!

406954_885142196202_491952175_n

6. Civic Center Park

This heart to Downtown is an exciting and beautiful layout full of rich classic architecture and the place for downtown happenings and festivals!

265320_10150264031719177_1222908_o

with my friend Fallon in 2011

5. 16th Street Mall/Downtown

This 1.25 mile long shopping mall offers a lot of fun shopping for the visitor, but it also offers a link to other sights in the downtown area. a FREE shuttle connects one end to the other where you can access Lo-Do and then Capital hill on the other end. The strip offer eclectic dining options and ease of access to other city transportation such as the tram-system. My favorite place is The Tattered Cover Bookstore!

4. Denver Art Museum

This MASSIVE museum literally has something for everyone, and is full of relics from all over the world. Enjoy renaissance and medieval, or Asia and the Middle East, South America has rooms and rooms! They also have wonderful modern art, and rotating exhibitions so check it out. Plan a day if you have it, or a few hours to hit the main interests. Kid’s can also intimately interact with the exhibits by checking out an explorer pack!

download.png

3. LoDo

This may be the most Colorado thing about Denver. Not only do you get to enjoy a huge collection of antique buildings but there are a ton of mom and pop restaurants serving up local fare. Then there is the iconic REI flagship store for those outdoorsy types. There is the iconic Union Station that lights up at night for a marvelous view, and Coors field if you want to catch a Rockies game. FINALLY you can Kayak in the middle of downtown Denver! REALLY and it’s FREE, of course you need a kayak…

Denver_Confluence_1

2. Clubbing and music

The clubbing district of Denver stretches along Sherman street, south of downtown. This is great place to grab a few drinks, dance, meet people and check out the local DJ scene. If this is less of your style, stick to Colfax and the music venues! The Fillmore, Ogden (personal favorite) and Bluebird have concerts almost nightly from local bands to grammy winners, there is always something to check out!

1. RED ROCKS- not Denver Proper

Okay if you are going to take a trip to Denver, or are a local looking for stuff to do, then you HAVE to take in a show at Red Rocks. It’s one of those holy experiences that only can happen with music and nature and fandoms come together. My first show there was The Cure and since then I have seen Flogging Molly, Devotchka, and  The Fray and I’m always planning on going back. Not only do the concerts make you swoon, but the park itself is a really cool place to hike around in and take in the Colorado sights and sounds. It’s only about an hour from downtown (give or take due to traffic) and well worth the jaunt. The best part is sharing it with friends, I got to share it with a family friend’s 13-year-old last summer, and not only was it her first concert, but her first big event like that without her parents. Meaning I got to share in her right of concert-going at 13 with Devotchka, at the best venue in the world!

2015-07-23 20.08.26

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Resources

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Parts I, II, III

Based on my travels to Europe, and planning other trips these are my favorite websites/organizations. Many of these are good to look at to help decide on budget and time you are wanting to spend places.

General: Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak

Airfare: Kayak, Cheap Flights, Frontier, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Easy Jet

Sleeping: Air BNB, Booking.com, Kayak, Hostel Bookers

City Passes: London, Paris, Berlin

Regional Passes: Historic Scotland, English Heritage

Train: Eurail, Britrail

Happy Travels!

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part III

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Read Part I and II

BREAK DOWN- 1 month travel- budgeting for Europe

$40- travel guides (or FREE with apps, but I always suggest books unless you know an area)

$1000-$2000 plane tickets, depending on how much you’re moving around and where you’re going

$500- extra travel- buses, trains, metro etc.

$500- entrance fees/travel passes

$200- souvenirs (more if you want jewelry/more expensive items)

$1000- sleeping arrangements ($30/night) (more if you hotel alone, less if you can split rooms/stay with friends)

$500- food and drink

$500- emergency/misc. (Bring an emergency credit card)

Total:

around $4200

The good news is that you can spend more or less  on what you personally like to do. I’ve done trips for $6000 for 2.5 months and only $3000 for a month. Also consider traveling in the off season to get better deals and save money. Keep in mind looking for large tours that can be very affordable ($900/9 days). Comment with questions.

Resources

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part II

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Read Part I Here.

3. Decided where you’re willing to stay.

  • Or better, decide how you can stay.
  • Hostels are great if you don’t mind sharing a room with numerous people, which can be noisy, hot, uncomfortable and busy. The best reason is that you have a kitchen to cook meals. Sometimes hostels have private rooms or smaller women’s dorms that help with the chaos.
  • If hostels are too much chaos:
    • look into less expensive B&Bs
    • Discount hotels like IBIS are very affordable, sometimes as low as $70/night for two people.
    • Look for air BNB options, which is also a great way to make friends.
    • Also, look for small apartments so you can cook and get a more local feel.
  • In Asia it is often best to stay in hotels.

4. What do you want to do?

  • Read about all the things to do where you are traveling and narrow it down. Then add up entrance fees, bus/travel fares etc. and get an idea on how much it will cost to go somewhere.
  • To SAVE: look into city passes that offer transport with it. Such as the London and Paris Pass
    • If you don’t want to see a lot of touristy things, you might avoid this.
  • Decide what you can’t go home without seeing, and rearrange your budget for that.

5. Challenge your budget

  • Figure out how much you want to spend a day and try to stay in that, say $100/day is your budget. If you spend $50 on a hotel/hostel, $20 on food and $30 on adventure you will be at your budget. I’ve tried to stay at $50-75 on many trips and have been successful.

6. Food and where to save

  • ASK LOCALS
    • they will know the best food for the best price, this is especially true in Italy.
    • Look for “meal deals” at mom and pop restaurants and pubs.
      • In Italy there was a dinner deal for 14 euros, which included wine, water and three courses of AMAZING food!
        • They were right by my apartment too
    • shop local markets
      • the best place for the freshest food!
    • Look for local bakeries for breads and sweets
      • they’re often VERY affordable if not dirt cheap and delicious
  • With allergies
    • ask around about this too
    • As the world becomes smaller and more aware many places advertise gluten free products.
    • LEARN what words indicate “gluten free” etc. and then go to the grocery store to stock up on snacks
      • this will save you the most money
    • Ask around about gluten free bakeries

7. Souvenirs

  • Street market
    • good deals, a chance to barter and less money spent on good quality items.
  • Museums
    • support the preservation and work of historical societies that keep up castles and artifacts by shopping in their gift shops. They also charge less, and do much more with the money.
  • Shops
    • if you have time, price compare, and try to barter (totally acceptable in most places)
    • Many times they have some better quality goods, but not always
  • Ask Locals
    • ask around about quality, where goods come from, and what is a waste of money or not. Locals usually have something to say about it.

8. Drinking/Partying

  • Save by only buying one or two drinks and avoiding places with cover fees.

Part III

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part I

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

It’s a common misconception that traveling is far too expensive for the average person.

Which it can be.

But it doesn’t have to be.

True Story Bro.

In total I have taken three trips to Europe, and have only spent a total of $12,000- which you may say “holy shit” that’s still a lot of money. Let it be known that’s 6 months worth of travel. In Europe. In some of the most expensive countries and cities in the world.

So here is how to do it.

1. Figure out where you want to go.

  • Depending on the location, your airfare will vary from around $300-2,000, once you know how much it takes to get there, then you can figure out how long you should stay and how much more you can afford.
  • If you’re going to Europe, consider flying to Iceland, Ireland, or England. Usually flights are cheaper and you can get a connecting flight to the rest of Europe from the airport you hit first. This usually can save you a few hundred dollars if not close to $1,000
  • Research time difference and ask around about jet lag. Many times it takes about a week to adjust to time difference, so keep this in mind. If lack or change in sleep doesn’t bother you much, then just decide how long you can/want to go.
    • I suggest at least a month in Europe, and a week or two if you are staying in the Americas.
  • Think of your bucket list and decide what you want to do the most. For me it was the British Isles, followed by France, Germany and Italy. I’ve done all of them at one time or another. Next up: Asia
  • Consider if you need a travel buddy.
    • In Europe I’ve never needed a travel buddy, but I have had some family travel with me. I’ve also had friends and family to check in. This makes the trip less lonely. But it also isn’t necessary, do some research on staying safe, cultural norms, and how to avoid trouble. Even email and/or try to talk to police officers in other countries to get an idea of how to behave. It made a big difference for me in Germany and Italy.
    • If you are going to Latin America: do your research, especially if you are female, on where to go or not. Ask a lot of questions. Most guidebooks offer tips for solo women travelers.
    • Asia, Africa etc.: Women alone can travel in Asia, but many cultures see solo women travelers in a negative light. If you can travel with at least one man, it helps a lot from what I understand. The good news is that much of Asia is still inexpensive to travel in, and you can save money even with two people.
  • Ask yourself what you want from a trip.
    • Parties?
    • History?
    • Art?
    • Food?
    • Culture?
    • All of the above?

2. What is a realistic amount to save?

  • Look and add up what you think you can afford.
    • If it’s less than $2000 try to go somewhere closer to home such as Latin America
      • some resorts are only about $1000/week
    • If you can raise $3000-6000
      • Consider that transatlantic adventure to Europe or Asia

Part II