Week 1: Landing in Australia

Australia, the land down under. The place of koalas, gum trees, and stick bugs. Home of the Outback with its kangaroos and dingoes and the significantly different Great Barrier Reef where you will find fish ranging from Dory (Blue tang fish) to the infamous great white shark. Did you know 80% of the creatures here are exclusive to Australia?! In the first week, I sampled delicious kangaroo meat, canoed a river in the Royal National Park, and took nearly 200 pictures of the Sydney Opera House. A lifelong dream has finally become a reality. I still can’t believe it is real, but I take a big breath and that skepticism is laid to rest by the refreshing smell of eucalyptus. 

20160822_233556A glance from afar and everything looks the same, houses, trees, birds etc.-but upon closer review, that is quickly proven incorrect. We all know you drive on the opposite side of the car… on the opposite side of the road, but did you know even the grass here is significantly different- It is soft and mildly fuzzy, almost as if someone cut little blades of grass from an extremely thin felt. Like I referenced before, because of the trees there is a slight eucalyptus aroma, making even the city smell incredibly fresh. The foliage upon closer inspection is also significantly different, most leaves and flower petals are thick with a spongy consistency 20160822_231701that you can fold and it won’t break. The trees do not simply grow straight up with branches growing out, but rather look like they maybe had a little bit much to drink and are all crooked and follow no obvious growth pattern. (Perfect for climbing!) While they do have seagulls-I am yet to find a continent or island that doesn’t- the rest of their birds are quite different. As of 2014, there are 898 different species, of that over 45% are only native to Australia. Here, cockatoos are wild and their obnoxious squawk alerts that they are near. One of my highlights this first week was sitting in a park on a sunny day feed20160822_234314ing cockatoos, kookaburras, and rainbow lorikeets (yes that is how you spell it J ) I even had a cockatoo take food directly out of my hand!! I have even seen parakeets flying around on a few separate occasions! It feels like I am living in an exotic bird cage… but this is natural!

Upon arrival, I was treated to a beautiful drive to Cape Solander on the Kurnell Peninsula. Fun historical fact: this is where Captain Cook first landed before moving on to the more accommodating Sydney Harbour. 20160819_121420 - CopyWe were in the middle of the bush, but every so often could catch a glimpse of the city and I was amazed at its close proximity. One direction had forest as far as the eye could see and then the other direction was coastline with the city a mere 30-minute drive. Listening to  the ocean waves smash onto the beautiful red rock cliffs was amazing. It was here, that I saw my first cockatoo in its true, natural habitat!! 😀 (I maybe was a little too excited about that) Leaving there, we went to a beach where there were shells as far as the eye could see. 20160819_123805To me, this is heaven; I could’ve spent the whole day picking up shells and once again the Sydney skyline was just across the bay.

I spent two full days in Circular Quay (pronounced key), which is where you find the 2016-08-16-10-01-14-259Sydney Opera House and are also close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which creates some great photo opportunities. If I had rushed, I could’ve seen almost everything there is to see in a single day. In fact, my first day, I did start out with a pretty specific agenda-I needed to see this, absolutely must go there, and make sure to try that-but I quickly realized in order to enjoy this experience I absolutely had to throw the agenda out, take longer, and make sure I absorbed as much of Sydney as possible. I spent an entire hour at the end of a pier that had a great view of both the bridge and the opera house and I simply people watched, snapped pictures, and drank my coffee. I finally started my walk back to check out the opera house and had to stop at multiple shops, 20160817_121806 (1) - Copyannoyed birds trying to snap their picture, and again stopped to marvel at the city across the water-In my first hour I probably took 100 pictures. Coming back around to the other side of the harbor, I started to get closer to the Opera House, there were people from all around the world near me and everyone was doing the same thing but reacting their own way and in their own language. While I did my best to still take pictures, I found myself just enjoying the moment, inhaling everything, walking up to and around this icon of Australia. I can’t explain how massive this building is and the intricate detail couldn’t be captured in photos. (Though I did try) This building, that bridge, the water, the view across the water, and all the people around me, it was more awesome than I had ever imagined… which is why I spent about 3 hours in its vicinity.20160817_122018 - Copy.jpg

I ate fish and chips at a little restaurant with the bridge as my view and then went to the Royal Botanical Gardens and found a huge tree to get out of the sun, relax, and again just watch everything that was going around me. Apparently, I picked a good spot because I was able to c20160822_234530atch a group of locals play a quick game of rugby in a quiet corner of the park. Again, it was a “taste of home” just instead of our football it was their football being played. After a while, I got up and continued around the park, witnessing many more crazy/beautiful birds, extravagant plants, and always a glorious city as the backdrop.  

So that is week one in review. Next week I am going to the local aquarium, a small zoo 2016-08-23-00-13-33-695(with kangaroos and koalas!!), watch a snake performer, a rugby game, some more bush walking, and so much more! I can’t wait to share it with you, this place is far more amazing than I imagined, start saving your pennies and schedule a trip! In the meantime, I will be posting a heap of pictures on my Facebook for you to giving you a sample of this phenomenal country. I miss you guys, leave me some love below!

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Escaping the Rat Race

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of”

-Paulo Coehlo

This quote is from The Alchemist, the book that pushed me over the edge whenalchemist I was trying to decide whether or not I should pursue my dream of travel.  A good friend of mine let me borrow it, I read it on a 3 hour flight, and it is now the ONLY book that I have packed with me on my adventures. I would like to start this post out with, if you are contemplating a crazy life change of any sort, read this book!! 🙂

The last few days, I have been reliving the past 3-6 months, when this idea came to me, making the decision, and the work involved to get to where I am now, just a couple days from this idea and lifelong dream becoming a reality. I realized, while I have shared with you bits and pieces, I haven’t gone into any sort of specific details on how I have managed to go from a receptionist at a small company in North Idaho, living by myself, to this: TulumMetaking a break from my job, packing up my life, and jumping a plane to a whole mess of unknowns.

A year ago, I was looking at starting a small business, nothing extreme, but something that I could call mine. At the time I was a receptionist, making enough money to survive and live comfortably, but not enough to put any significant amount of money away. So I decided that my first goal towards starting my business was to pay off all of my debt and get a strong savings, which led to the dreaded decision to get a second job. This meant that
while working the 8-5 Monday through Friday job, I also started serving 3-5 nights a week. Within 6 months I was debt free, so it became time to start getting more serious about my business. I didn’t expect how burnt out I would be after working almost constantly for 6 months, and I didn’t feel ready to commit to this business that would become my baby for the next 2-3 years. I have had a job, sometimes 2, (at one time even 3) since I was 16, I have taken vacations, but nothing more than a week, and they were normally far in between. Taking a couple months off to travel was suggested to me and I started to ponder the idea. Within the week, I found out that my lease was up in two months, solidifying the plan. The next day I started this blog, the original plan to was keep my friends and family posted, but it has become fun, so I might as well see where it goes. Here are the steps that I took 2 months ago to make this upcoming Friday a reality.

I worked WAY too much. I spoke with my boss at the restaurant and told him what I wanted to do, I asked him if he would schedule me enough so that I could pay all of mySDme2 bills and live off of that job. Of course he obliged, which meant I was working at least 2 days a week that were 8 AM -5 PM playing receptionist and then going straight to the restaurant and working 6 PM until it slowed down, sometimes 10, normally closer to 12 AM. On top of that, I would work one if not both weekend days, making some weeks a 7 day work week. That sacrifice made me able to live frugally off of the serving job and allowed me to put my entire paycheck from the other job into savings.

Minimized eating/going out. I didn’t completely do this, but I made a real effort to grocery shop once a month and prepare my meals in advance – meal prepping can be an addiction!- I could live off of a small percentage of what it would cost to go out even just a couple times, and even better, I was eating healthy; from fresh fruit smoothies to steamed fish, it was all delicious, I feel better physically, and this was a HUGE part of being able to save money.

Bargain shopping. I switched from the more expensive groceries stores to Winco-I love that place-Some items I would still go to the better stores for quality reasons, but for most part, I could get the same brand for dollars cheaper. 🙂

Eliminated Unnecessary Splurges. While I do still get my hair done, everything else has been eliminated-pedicures, manicures, etc.- I am now my own nail tech. It is a little silly budgethow much money I spent on things I could do myself or simply just didn’t need! Daily coffees, lunches, even the silly vending machines at work, I tried to minimize all of those-while my morning latte is still a problem splurge, I guess $3 a day isn’t something to get too bothered about, but even that equals around $90 a month if I get one a day.

Sold Misc Items on Local Swap Websites. As I downsized, I would find all sorts of little treats that who knows why I was holding on to them, before I would take them to Goodwill I would post it on Shop and Swap, if someone bought it great, if not, I would just take it to Goodwill. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but, I am also a little to attached to most of my stuff and could’ve probably sold way more….

Saving my change. As a server, I get quite a bit of cash going through my hands. All the change at the end of the day goes into a jar-to be left there until my trip- I have been doing this for 6 months. I don’t have the slightest clue how much is in there… but I get to finally exchange it tomorrow, and I am kind of excited.

Lowering my monthly bills. I started looking at all of my bills and tripiggy banked to get better deals.
Just one example is my car insurance, I was able to do some shopping around and save $20 a month. That means, with that bill alone, I will save $240 this year! 

Freelancing. I am where I wanted to be budget wise, but I still prefer to have the ability to make money while I am travelling. I have not had a whole lot of time to make much money off of any of these websites, but when I am not working 2 jobs my goal is to focus on this more and keep that cushion in my savings account-I will get back to you on the progress/effectiveness of this in the future.

*Summarize*

 I looked at my spending after a month of normal spending-I tried to use my debit/credit card for every purchase so I could see exactly how much I was spendinBeBraveg and what I was spending it on-then set myself a reasonable budget according to category… some things that “reasonable budget” was $0. While my trip is yet to start and I can’t address any successes with that, I can say that I was able to set a financial goal and get close enough that I won’t be stressed about the money side of this trip.


So what do The Alchemist and my finances have in common? I saw my dream, and largely thanks to this book, decided to pursue it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you make, where you live, your eye color, or your favorite candy it is never to late to go after what you want the most in life. If you dream of travel, here are some steps I took, some harder than others, but it worked for me. I have taken my first step out of the Rat Race and am embarking on my own path-that I still have so much to figure out 🙂