As the year 2017 came to a close, I was faced with a choice - resettle in a year-long lease in a city I knew, or do the "impossible" and follow my dreams of traveling the world. Armed with a carry on suitcase, passport, and my laptop, I embarked on my journey as a digital nomad in January 2018. Here's what happened next.
I kick off the new year in my home of childhood nostalgia, Walt Disney World. I've been every year since 1993, and this year I get to celebrate my first ever half marathon in the place Where Dreams Come True. For whatever reason, it's 35 degrees that morning in Florida, but luckily I trained in the Boston winter. I freeze, smile, and run with pride across that finish line, winning a shiny spinning Mickey medal to prove it. In a true test of strength, I walked/ran 40 miles through Disney in 4 days, the perfect way to prep for a trip across the Atlantic.
I land in the Icelandic Capital after a red-eye from Boston. I have an "American breakfast" for 35 US dollars instead of dinner, a culture shock for my body and my wallet. Reykjavik is a great city to get my bearings. It's sort of like being in Disney World, but all the rides are made of ice, and every story features trolls. I quickly learn that grocery shopping and becoming a hostel kitchen aficionado are the secret to making it out of Iceland with any money at all, and 5 hours of sunlight a day make for a great excuse to catch up on sleep.
After spending some time in the capital, I hop on a bus for a 5-day adventure tour. I don't expect to make many friends. Then before I know it, our tour group becomes a tight-nit traveling circus of laughing, strongly-worded review writing, Icelandic radio loving weirdos. We have a blast chasing the elusive northern lights, and attempting to take cute photos in front of frozen waterfalls while wearing 27 layers of non-matching winter clothing. Saying goodbye is hard, but our lively WhatsApp group reminds me of the power of new connections in this not-so-big world.
I finally get to visit the famous London, and fight the urge daily to slip into a British Accent. Jon, my international bff and generous flatmate for the week, makes fun of me relentlessly for it. However, it doesn't stop me from forgetting about my Muggle life as I cross every British thing off my Harry Potter bucket list. Yes, The Cursed Child is 100% worth it, the Studio Tour is not to be missed, and taking shameless tourist pictures is nothing to be embarassed about.
Since I've already started to get used to the whole English accent thing, I decide to pop into Dublin to get in touch with my Irish roots. My first thought it to congratulate the emigrants of Irish past, because Boston looks exactly like Dublin. Job complete. I have the most amazing pancakes of my life which almost helps me forget my sad and desperate journey to find wifi at any coffee shop or Starbucks in a 5 mile radius. The best part of the week was getting the chance to pretend I was a famous Trinity College student. Oh, and the time I took a selfie with a 3 week old lamb.
About a month and a half into my journey, I start to realize that attempting to vacation and work simultaneously isn't going well. I look into co-living spaces abroad, and fall in love with a space in the suburbs of Paris, the Supernana house. I move in with a dozen French roommates and settle into a life of living, working, and loving in Paris. Being locked in co-working spaces all week doesn't stop me from living like a Parisian on the weekends. Exhibit A) getting invited to a free Paris week fashion show and wearing the coolest outfit I'll probably ever own.
Everyone always asked what "mustsees" I wanted to do while I lived in Paris. I saw the big hits....and then I confessed that I really just wanted to go to Disneyland. With two of my roommates/now friends, I got to explore the European version of the happiest place on earth. Highlight was most definitely the Ratatouille ride that was played simultaneously in French and English. Downside was the shocking lack of Mickey Mouse shaped macaroons. The blog has more on my lifetime fascination with Disney Parks.
It was the anniversary of me being single, so I decided to have a Treat Yo Self Thursday, complete with Parisian haircut and photoshoot in iconic French locations. If you have never booked a photoshoot just to have, you are missing out! I always have this vision that my grandchildren stumble upon my photos in an attic and realize I was once young and cool. Then I realize my grandchildren will probably just stumble upon this website while learning to code in preschool on their iPhone XLV. Hi kids!
This photoshoot also marks my last week as an American in Paris.
The only good reason to leave Paris is for love. Sadly, this time it was not my own, but I did get the chance to be the "best woman" at my Dad's wedding! I laid out flower petals, had an emotional toast featuring a Toy Story quote, and requested Despacito from the DJ at least three times. This was my first dismount, as it's called in nomad land, and I was nervous I was never going to head back out on another adventure. To make sure I didn't, I flew immediately from this wedding to a client event at the Wal-Mart HQ in Arkansas. Yeah, it was about as glamorous as it sounds. But it kept the travel bug alive and well!
When your best friend gets into her dream school, you have to do something special. Rather than buy a bright purple NYU Mom shirt (though that's still on the table), I celebrate being home and Archie's brilliance with renting out a Brooklyn apartment for us to live in. She has to practice being a New Yorker, obviously. We shamelessly take photos in the unseasonably warm weather and look in amazement at how hipster and adorable everything is. The last time we were roommates was in Rochester, NY so...you could say this was a bit of an upgrade to our usual hangouts.
At the end of the month, I get to round out my time roaming around the east coast with a quick pit stop in Memphis, TN. I am there to eat BBQ and biscuits, first and foremost, but it's also time for the annual National A Cappella Convention! We had just finished our rebrand (check out that snazzy logo), and the festival was an incredible success. To top it off, I got named executive producer for 2019 at the end! I will always be an a cappella girl at heart, and getting to spend a weekend with my aca-family is always much needed.
Ever since my favorite uncle and fellow family BU alum moved to the West Coast, I’ve tried my best to make it out to the city as much as possible. With my newfound freedom, I became that family member that crashes on your airmattress for a month exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer. My first weekend was CInco de Mayo, where I got to see the Mexican neighborhood of The Mission come to life, eat a burrito the size of my torso, and close out the day with a drag version of Steel Magnolias at the historic Castro theater. SanFran redefined my idea of a busy weekend.
The best part of getting to live in a city is getting to do the silly things locals do instead of the bigger tourist attractions. My personal favorite was this mini-golf course with each hole featuring the design and engineering of a different local artist or architect. My bright pink ball rolled through a submarine, a Dio de Los Muertos ofrenda, and Fibonacci’s horn landing me a feature on the golf course wall!
When you travel, you learn that it’s not the sights that make a place, it’s the people.