Life is full of different types of journeys we must navigate and it’s time for me to start another. Tomorrow I leave my day job and I have surprisingly more feels about it than I thought I would! I absolutely LOVE the people I work with and it’s been a grand adventure that’s taught me much about myself and what I want. It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye!
What I’m learning through this transition is that sometimes Life requires us to move away from something good to get to something even better. The road ahead is so full of uncertainty, which is incredibly scary! It would be SO much easier if I could play it safe and stay with what’s comfortable, but apparently that’s not how I’m wired. My heart won’t let me. It constantly pushes me to follow those big fucking dreams!
Every huge change requires some adjustment. While I don’t know exactly where we’re heading on this new road, I’m excited to finally focus all of my best efforts, time, and energy into creating something here that I hope will bring more joy, love, adventure, and passion into the world!
Before I can really dive into what I’d like to create for you, I need a minute to process the end of this season so I can be fully prepared for the next one. I need time to release what no longer serves for the path forward mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. For me this means quiet time of solitude and reflection, so I’m taking myself into Nature for a few days at Great Basin National Park. There’s nothing quite like dirt and trees to help me get my head on straight 🙂
This means there probably won’t be a blog next week, but I’ll be back on the 12th, and I’m excited to see what new goodies I have to share with you!
While so many of the details are unclear, there are a few things I know are coming for Beyond Reservations. I want to share more of what I love with you – all the surprising and life-affirming awesomeness that comes from independent travel. I’ll still give you ways to put things together, but it’s important for me to share WHY seeing the world is worth your time, money, and energy.
The other major change is that I’m going to focus more on my fellow badass warrior women who want to see the world. Travel has been such an empowering experience for me as a woman and I want to pay it forward to all my ladies out there who want a little inspiration and support. <3
Gents, this doesn’t mean you won’t find anything of value here, and I hope you’ll stick around. You may even learn something that gives you better understanding and insight to the women in your life! 🙂
Catch you on the flip side, friends!
What practices, people, etc. have helped you navigate your major life changes? How do you know when it’s time to make these kinds of leaps? I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about what’s coming! Leave me a comment or shoot me an email from the contact page! 🙂
Hey, friends! Since I’m asking you to let me help with your independent travel, I think it’s important to share some of my own travel stories with you. I want you to understand how I see the world and the kinds of experiences I focus on when planning trips! I’m currently traveling through London and Norway with my wonderful mother, and I’ll share some of the stories from this trip a bit later.
Today I want to share a journal entry I came across from my six-week solo trip driving through Central and Eastern Europe in 2015. I know the writing isn’t perfect, but it was my real and raw experience that day. I’ve only done minor edits for grammar and understanding. 🙂
Well, day two in Sarajevo started with a bit of a hiccup. As I went to get in the shower, I realized my dirty clothes bag was missing. I went out and checked the trunk, but sure enough, I left it in Jajce. In times past this would have totally ruined my day and sent me into a panic, but I called and emailed the hostel and they said they would mail them to my hostel here. Today is Saturday and they won’t arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m really okay with this!
It’s actually good for me to be forced to slow down and really just BE in a place. I spent three nights in Plitvice National Park, but everything else has only been a night or two in the same place. While I like to be on the move and have things to do, but it will be good to just slow down. This may be hard for me so it might be just what I need.
This morning after straightening out the dirty laundry (ha!), I went on a walking tour of the city. What an awesome experience on so many levels! I learned a lot about the history, people, and culture. Our first stop, after a brief intro to the city and country, was the Eternal Flame. This was created in 1945 or 1946 as a monument of gratitude to the people (Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks) who liberated the city from the Nazis.
The only time the flame has been out was during the siege (1992 – 1996), which ironically was fighting among the same three groups. You can still see where the bullets and shells damaged the monument. The people chose to leave them as a reminder of what good can come from working together and the bad from fighting amongst ourselves.
Our next stop was the open-air market. After not being hit with a single shell for two years, in 1994 a shell hit the market killing 67 and wounding more than 100 others. It was the largest massacre during the siege. They have left the small crater where the shell landed and the back wall of the market is now a memorial with the names of all 67 who died that day – Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats. I love that they preserved and remember what happened instead of just glossing over the troubles.
From there we moved to the Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart and a spot where another shell killed someone. The hole has been filled with a red material and the damage to the building was left in remembrance of those who died. The red filled mortal holes are called Sarajevo Roses and you can see them all over the city. They’re used to mark a place where one of the shells took a life.
Next we visited the place on the Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand’s car drove and had to turn around, giving one the assassins the perfect opportunity to kill him and his pregnant wife Sofia. Tomorrow is 101 years since the assassination.
The rest of the tour was the covered market, Bey’s Mosque, the Old Synagogue, the city park with the giant chess board, and the oldest hostel in the city (now offices). I found the parts about the siege most interesting because I remember hearing about it on TV when I was young.
What I found most striking was listening to our guide talk about her experience as a Bosnian. The jokes about the people living in Sarajevo being missed (by snipers) and how they were very athletic because they all ran everywhere in hopes of avoiding sniper fire. The stories of the horrible UN rations of rice that had to be boiled for five hours to be edible and the bright pink meat gelatin are a stark contrast to the first world problems and Junior High drama that was my own life during the same time.
She talked about how the unemployment rate is currently about 50% and even higher (65%) for those under 35. About how they sit in cafes and drink coffee for 1 mark (50 cents US) comparing who has the crappiest life, like a one-upper game. She said overall life is okay, and people are pretty happy just to have the simple things because they have known so much worse.
This got me thinking about the sliver I had in Bled (I got a painful piece of wood stuck in my finger that took up a ridiculous amount of head space until I got it out) and how we spend so much time and mental energy on things that really don’t matter and miss the joys of simply being alive!
Coffee and a conversation with people you love or just met, fresh fruit on a summer morning, being able to walk the streets of a new city, are things many of us take for granted. These are the things Sarajevo is meant to teach me. That’s why I’m here. I have much to learn from this city and its people. (Damn, reading that now makes me all choked up – this was only the beginning of what this beautiful city would send home with me…)
I spent the afternoon eating Čevapi, walking along Marshal Tito street, hiked the road to the Olympic Stadium (the 1984 Olympics were in Sarajevo), had an espresso, read my book, met some other travelers from Germany and Ireland over a beer, and enjoyed a simple backpacker dinner with funky roast chicken puffy chips before a nice chat with my hubby.
When I’m in the bigger cities, I find myself running through the list of things to see. Again, I have much to learn from the Bosnian way and pleasure in the simplicity of life. I will do my best to just relax and let things flow more easily. The best part is that I have the time. There’s no reason to rush!
The next place I want to see is Budapest, so maybe I can learn to chill and I’ll head straight there and spend a week rather than a few days in many of the places along the way. I think part of the mentality for me is, “I’ve come all this way, I should see as much as I can!” rather than slowing down and really enjoying the place, not rushing through it.
Appreciating the simple things and embracing more of the “slow travel” idea is where I’m going to focus for the rest of this trip.
I was on a super tight budget for this trip, so I kept track of all my expenses every day and logged them at the end of my journal entries. Seems relevant. 🙂
$15 hostel, 4 mk tour, 4 mk grapes, 5 mk lunch, 20 mk gifts, 2 mk coffee, 3 mk beer, 1 mk bread, 3 mk beer & chips (Total: $35 USD and one serious fucking education)
In hindsight, I can see how much this single day changed my life. If not for a bag of misplaced dirty laundry, my experience in Sarajevo would have been much shorter and probably just the “highlight reel” of sights. Instead I spent a full week (Bosnian post isn’t the speediest) and fell completely in love with the city. I was able to see and feel the daily flow of life, make friends, and really soak in all it has to offer. I even returned that September and stayed for a full month!
Last fall, I went back for a visit and took a friend along so I could share the magic of this place. It’s become such a huge part of my consciousness and changed my worldview in ways that are difficult to put into words.
I always say, “Sarajevo is where I go when I need to remember how to live.”
Have you had any experiences that blow your mind wide open like this? How did you process that huge shift in awareness? How has it changed the way you see and interact with the world now?
I’ve spent the majority of my time with you talking about how to travel, but I think it’s important for you to also know why I want to help you see the world. Independent travel is so gratifying, but it took a lot of learning and various travel experiences for me to really become an expert in traveling abroad. From the dreams of a little girl to spending years traveling across Europe, Beyond Reservations has been a long time in the making. Here’s how it all started…
I’d dreamed of seeing the world since I was probably 7 or 8, old enough to realize there was a whole lot more than my little corner of the globe. My dad used to visit Italy for work every once in a while, and on his travels met a friend who came to stay with us once, Marino.
He brought plastic necklaces in a rainbow of colors that any little girl would love, taught me how to make the paper dolls that have all their little hands connected, and gifted me a beautiful golden crucifix necklace that I wanted to wear at all the fancy occasions an 8-year-old attends. I was so curious about this person from a faraway land, with his accent and fun presents! As I went through school learning about different parts of the world, Italy remained at the top of my list of places I wanted to see.
Fast forward roughly 18 years later, to September 5, 2008. I’d just moved my life back to Utah for a position that I felt completely unqualified for, but it held the possibility for international travel so I jumped all over it! I’d recently received my shiny new passport and was itching to use it. Thankfully, I was scheduled to be in Brazil for a trade show in just a few weeks!
On this particular day, my boss came into my office and informed me that I needed to visit four of our facilities in Europe for a product launch we were doing. Then he said, “Oh, and I need you to leave tomorrow. Make your plans, go home and pack.” Holy shit balls, what?! I used our corporate travel agent to make my arrangements, drove home as fast as I could, threw whatever I thought I would need in a GIANT silver suitcase (that monster weighed at least 60 pounds by the time I came home) and tried not to freak out. I would be spending the next two and a half weeks visiting different areas of Sweden, Germany, France, and Austria. First stop, Stockholm!
The next morning I got myself to the airport after a night of basically no sleep because I was so excited and nervous. After a layover or two along the way, we descended out of the clouds and onto a runway surrounded by misty pine forest. My first glimpse of Europe! I’d dreamed about this day for as long as I could remember and felt like my heart was going to come tearing out of my chest with joy and gratitude. The first thing that came into my mind was, “I’m finally home.” I know, I was surprised when I had the thought too! Still to this day, when I visit most places in Europe, that’s how I feel. <3
By the time I landed, it was September 7 and this is the day that changed my whole life. I’ll never forget standing in the passport control line (yes, I hadn’t even left the airport) and knowing this is what I wanted to do forever. That was the moment I decided I would pursue this dream to the ends of the earth – I wasn’t going to have children, every job I would take from that point on would have to give me more flexibility to travel, this is where all my extra time and money would go. It became my mission to make travel as much as possible and for as long as possible. This was my life’s purpose, to grab every single opportunity, see as much of the world as I could, and share it with anyone who wanted to listen.
The next eighteen days were magic! I met the most amazing people, visited places I’d read about in history books or seen on the news, and experienced so many new ways of life. Every single minute I wasn’t in an office, I was exploring. What’s around that corner? What’s this new dish I’ve never seen or heard about? What does this person next to me at the pub do for a living? I was in. Hook, line, and sinker. This was it, I had to find a way to make this my life!
I don’t know that I’d ever learned so much in such a short amount of time. I learned that my hairdryer would blow the fuck up when I plugged into European outlets, even with a converter! I discovered that a couple of Irish ladies in Salzburg, Austria could outdrink my 26-year-old self without a second thought. Surprise, the weather in Sweden is NOT the same as Utah in early September! I eventually bought a coat at the airport in Germany after freezing my ass off for a week, and it’s still one of my favorites. <3
Here we are, almost 11 years and 30 countries later. After two shorter international trips for work, the financial crisis put a halt to company-sponsored travel, so I was on my own. I met my husband the following April, and our very first conversation was about travel. We took our first trip together that summer and I finally got to see Rome and the iconic sights of Italy I’d dreamed about for nearly 20 years. We planned the whole thing ourselves, and it was glorious! We made our own agenda, found hidden gems, ate all the food, and I loved every single minute of it. Still, to this day, it never gets old!
I want to help everyone who has the desire to see the world bring it to life! It’s difficult to put into words how the experiences of traveling independently have changed me. They’ve given me a greater perspective, more compassion, creative problem solving, and a thousand other benefits that are completely intangible.
This is why I’m here and what I want to do for you! Tell me how I can help, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure you get on that plane to see all those places you’ve been dreaming about.
Now get out there, the world is waiting for you!