One thing I’ve noticed about repatriating to the USA is that people are always asking me, “Are you okay?” Like they are so concerned about me, like they assume I hate being back in the USA. I do appreciate the concern – it was difficult to leave England, and I would rather have some acknowledge culture shock than ignore it! But on the other hand, it was my decision to move back to the USA. I wanted to come back for multiple reasons, and it’s definitely been the right decision for me.
I also feel like I’ve been being a bit negative on le blog lately. These two recent blog posts (1 & 2) were both me speaking my truth, but also kind of downers. Which is all to say, I think some sunshine and rainbows is a bit overdue on Endless Distances!
good things about being home: childhood friends who make you AMAZING get well baskets when you have to go to the hospital!!!!
I’ve been keeping a little note on my iPhone for the last two months that I’ve been living back at home in Michigan. A little list of small things I love about repatriating to the USA. So on this bleary Wednesday… I thought I would share!
What I Love About Being Back in Michigan
Having a fireplace – my favorite smell
So many flat running routes!
I can literally drive down the road and hang out with my childhood friends
Easily finding half & half and gluten free cheerios in the store
THE SOY MILK TASTES SO MUCH BETTER IN AMERICA
Free shopping carts at the store (okay I know you get refunded in the UK but I never had a pound coin with me at the shop!)
Everything stays open later
I can use Poshmark to resell my clothes. It only works in the USA and you get a much better deal than on Ebay.
Not having people ask me where I’m from every time I meet someone new.
Okay, I kind of liked this part of being an expat as it made me feel “special.” But it also got old, and it always made me feel like an outsider. It was always being pointed out that England wasn’t my “home” because of my accent – and no matter how long I lived there that would be the case. And sometimes ya girl just ain’t in the mood!!
Lots and lots of yoga studios – there was only one yoga studio where I lived in England and it closed down!
The little one-screen old-fashioned movie theatre in the town next to mine, where you can see a movie for $4 with $1 popcorn!! I’ve been going every week.
My favorite hairdresser, Wendy.
Actually getting to see my baby niece!!!
Good, cheap sushi
My gym has a hot tub
High quality facials
Seeing my doctor quickly
Also seeing the same doctor every time
Not having to use the dark web/weird internet extensions to watch my fave TV shows
Nobody asks me about Trump like they expect me to explain my entire country’s political division. Nobody asks me about Trump at all. IT’S AMAZING.
Other good thing: This lil pup we are dogsitting
YAY!!! I know not all these things are specific to repatriation or to Michigan… I probably could have found a gym with a hot tub or brought pound coins to the store in England tbh. But, I’m lazy. And some things are just home comforts, you know?!
Tell me what you guys love about home (whether that’s living abroad, or where you grew up, or a new state). I would love to hear about your favorite things.
Hi friends – a short and sweet one for y’all today, in (belated) honor of Valentine’s Day and my never ending love of Slovenia (oh…and the guy who drove me through the whole country). In August, Dan and I spent 11 days driving through Slovenia and it was one of my favorite trips of all time. Honestly, every time a Slovenian athlete comes on the TV in the Olympics now I’m like “I LOVE SLOVENIA!!!!”
So in this post I want to share a short & sweet video I made of our trip. I also definitely want to create more Slovenia content in the future, but here’s a run-down of our itinerary. We did a LOT of research, including advice from one of my professors who is Slovenian, and I would highly recommend the route we took.
on top of vrsic pass with my chauffeur & valentine
Days 4-5: Lake Bled. We rented a car in Ljubljana and drove to Bled. Explored Bled our first day, and did a day trip to Lake Bohinj on our second day. We stayed at Apartmentji Ledrar and were like the only guests (in August!) in this massive BRAND new guest house. It was bizarre but so luxurious for the price.
Days 6-8: Bovec. We did an epic roadtrip from Bled to Bovec, first stopping at Vintgar Gorge (just outside of Bled). From there we took the route through Triglav National Park and (Dan) drove the 50 hairpin turns to the Vrsic Mountain Pass summit. In Bovec we stayed at Hostel Soca Rocks which was definitely the place to be in this tiny adventure town. We did ziplining the first day and white water rafting the second day through Aktivni Planet.
Days 9-11: Ptuj. We (Dan) drove from Bovec to Ptuj with a halfway stop at Skocjan Caves. We stayed at Mestni Hill Farmstay right outside Ptuj which is a tiny farm with dogs, cats, ducks, sheep, chickens… basically I was in heaven. We did a lot of wine tasting including the Jeruzalem Wine Road!
DRIVING THROUGH SLOVENIA WAS MAGICAL.
You can see 11 days in 3 minutes here… (plus a song I’m obsessed with at the moment).
11 days roadtripping slovenia - YouTube
Oh, and in honor of Valentine’s Day…
a post-pizza and beer walk around lake bled led to this self-timer masterpiece
Turns out, it can be really difficult to read when you travel! And not even just traveling, but any kind of busy lifestyle. However… I think I’ve finally cracked the code on how to read more on the go – I’ve read over 15 books just in the two months, including during a long trip to NYC. I’m not a speed reader, in fact I’m kind of a slow reader (I like to savor it!).
But reading more on the go is not just a phase for me.
Reading is important: it’s a hobby, a form of self-care, and makes us more intelligent and open-minded people. If I can’t be traveling, then country-, time-, and culture-hopping through reading is the next best thing. So today I want to share a bit about my own story with learning how to read on the go, and some of my top tips.
How I learned to read on the go
I was on reading overload after my English degree and during my Masters. Not to mention I moved abroad (only a few books of poetry and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban traveled across the Atlantic with me), and started traveling whenever I could. I got to a point where I couldn’t even remember the last book I read for fun. When I started longterm traveling after my Masters, I knew I wanted to get back into reading for fun. But it wasn’t that easy. My tiny duffel bag was always half-full of books (pretty sure I got a permanent back ache dragging it across Europe!). If I took three books with me on a trip, I would inevitably finish them and then be bookless and continue to lug them about. But recently, I think I’ve cracked the code, and I want to share some of my top tips!
My top tips for how to read more on the go
*Some of these include affiliate links – purchasing something through my link will come at NO extra cost to you, but I will receive a small commission. This helps me in the running costs of this blog.
Buy a Kindle, it’s 100% worth the investment
This is my top tip for a reason. I was firmly in the anti-kindle camp for a long time, and still think I wouldn’t ever use kindle as it was in its original format. However the new paperwhite kindles are a game changer! They’re lightweight, small (fit in my coat pocket), but not too small. There are no other apps to distract, and the screen lighting technology means it doesn’t affect my sleep.
I couldn’t recommend the paperwhite kindle more – I was definitely dubious to start with but now I’m in love!
While you’re at it, buy a pretty Kindle cover
I’m obsessed with my watercolor map kindle cover from Etsy. First of all, it’s travel-themed, and of course I love perusing Etsy. It’s so much prettier than any of the covers from Amazon. It was also very affordable!
Investing in my Kindle with a cover not only keeps it safer, but it also makes me want to read from it that much more.
Here are some other pretty Kindle covers on my wish list:
I used to think of Goodreads as just another social media account I didn’t need clogging up my life. But I have to say that since getting a Goodreads account with my Paperwhite Kindle, I only wish I’d done it sooner! I think Goodreads is mostly useful for the “want to read” shelf feature. It’s also fun to track what books you’ve read, though.
The big secret to reading more on the go is always having a book you’ll love lined up for when you finish your current book. Anyone else familiar with that long lull after you finish a good book, and nothing else seems to live up? Well, now I just consult my Goodreads “want to read” shelf and I always have my next book ready.
I know what you’re thinking – obvious – but I put off joining a library when I moved to England for almost two years!
One thing that makes libraries a game changer for reading on the go, though, is the option to get Kindle books for free! You can rent a book and download through Hoopla or Overdrive, and keep it for at least 14 days!
Try out Audiobooks during solo travel
When I was in Amsterdam, I downloaded the free trial of Audible and got the Diary of Anne Frank audiobook. Since I was solo traveling, I listened to the book as I wandered around the city, taking it all in, and managed to finish the book on my final day before my tour of the Anne Frank House. (And yeah, sobbed on the street #audiobooksideeffects).
It was such a memorable experience, and a great addition to solo traveling. Personally, I’m not an Audiobook all-the-time kind of person, but I think they can be really helpful and unique during travel.
Always take a book with you
Simple and sweet: never leave the house without a book! When I was in NYC, I read my Kindle on the subway – it made the time pass that much faster, and I didn’t have to bother with spotty internet and data on my phone as the subway whizzed underground.
Take your book or Kindle to the gym, to the doctors, take it everywhere.
Join an online book club
Book clubs are a great way to motivate you to read, be critical of what you’re reading, and expand your horizons. However when you’re traveling or living a super busy lifestyle, finding and staying in a book club is challenging!
That’s why online book clubs are great. I recently joined the Beyond Words Bloggers book club, which holds discussions on Facebook and through a blog linkup, and would definitely recommend it! I really enjoy their book recommendations (although I think I’ll still be on the library wait list for the February book for a few more weeks…grr). Its co-run by one of my favorite bloggers, Carolann.
There ya go! I hope these tips are helpful – since getting my Kindle, I have really reinvigorated my love for reading. The cute case is just a cherry on top, and makes it all feel more personal. I hope I’ve inspired at least one person to read a book this month – and if I haven’t… tell me what’s stopping you! I’d also love to know all the other avid readers’ tips.
I have had a lot of ‘once in a lifetime’ travel experiences – and for that I am grateful. But more and more, the phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ and the ‘once in a lifetime’ mentality have been bothering me. Especially in how it relates to travelers. So I’ve decided that I’m swearing off the phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ – and I think you should too.
I think that us traveling-types are quick to the buzz-phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ to describe any kind of unique or exotic travel experience. I am definitely guilty of it, myself. When I found out that this month’s travel linkup topic was ‘once in a lifetime’ – well my own ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences started spinning through my head. Which would I choose to write about? I’ve been blessed with so many…
Swimming with wild manatees in Florida…
my lifelong dream came true and all I could think was what a once in a lifetime experience it was.
Why We Should Stop Using Once in a Lifetime to Describe Travel
But are all these unique, amazing experiences truly ‘once in a lifetime’? Of course, that remains to be seen (helloooo rest of my life). But here’s why I’m swearing off ‘once in a lifetime,’ and think you should too.
It perpetuates the travel-is-impossible myth.
Although the travel industry has really boomed in recent years, especially with younger generations, there is definitely still a pervasive myth that travel is impossible. That it’s impossible for the “average person” to travel. Calling certain travel experiences ‘once in a lifetime’ just perpetuates this myth, like, maybe you got here once but good luck doing it again.
Now, I have to say that there is definitely still a lot of privilege associated with travel – some of it that is so unfair and predestined, like the passport you are born into. But there are LOTS of people out there challenging this privilege and proving through hard work and dedication that travel is for everybody. Those ‘once in a lifetime experiences’? They’re for everybody, and if you love them that much, they’re for everybody to have twice.
my amazing friend Vaish has an Indian passport, which meant that when we traveled to Spain together she had to have the plans sorted months in advance and pay for a visa, whereas I didn’t have to do any of that, JUST because I was born in the USA. But Vaish has lived in 3 countries and seen the world and is truly a world traveler and inspiration to me <3
It’s plain unhealthy.
There is a whoooooole mentality behind ‘once in a lifetime.’ It goes like this: Being in Italy is a once in a lifetime opportunity – I can’t waste it!! I’ve gotta eat ALL the pasta and drink ALL the wine!!
Now imagine you are a long term traveler. Eating ALL the cultural parallels of wine and pasta in every country you visit. Partying til all hours – because you’re only there once in a lifetime right? Whatever your personal vice is, you probably go with it when you’re traveling, because it’s a once in a lifetime experience…
This is definitely an issue I ran into during my longterm traveling – maybe it’s lack of self control, but I got so carried away with eating the delicacies of every new country, seeing every sight I could, that it began to seriously affect my health. (One reason I am adding a new niche of wellness to this blog… details here).
I don’t even want to know how much wine I drank in Slovenia.
Saying an experience is ‘once in a lifetime’ is kinda… sad. For example, swimming with manatees was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. I truly dreamed of this since I was a child writing letters to the governor of Florida demanding he put manatees back on the endangered species list (yup, I was a cool kid). For me, this was the epitome of a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience – but who says I can’t do it again?
I truly hope that swimming with manatees wasn’t a once in a lifetime experience. I hope I can show the magic to Dan, or maybe years from now share it with my children.
We won’t get opportunities to do every travel experience we love all over again (and this is a good thing!) – but the ones we truly love? Who says you can’t do it again?
these lil babies are calling me back
It encourages superficial travel.
If you plan your travel around the ‘once in a lifetime experiences’ you see on Instagram or online… you will find yourself chasing a superficial goal. Some of my most meaningful travel experiences haven’t been the wonders-of-the-world sites or massive nights out. They’ve been cooking breakfast in an Airbnb in Vienna with Dan. Wandering the streets of Sienna with my parents. Watching Dear John in the Catalan mountains with my international student friends.
Ultimately… every moment is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. Sometimes the best and sweetest of these moments are the ones we don’t plan. They’re not the ones you look back on and describe in your travel blog as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, but they are the ones that stick with you for a lifetime.
it’s often the simplest moments, like this sunday stroll with Dan down the river Exe, that are the sweetest.
Now… I don’t want to be too much of a grouch, as I am playing devil’s advocate here. But I will say that quitting the ‘once in a lifetime’ travel mentality is encouraging me to appreciate that every moment is once in a lifetime. I’m enjoying the little things more, and I’m hoping that when I travel in the future it will help keep me healthy.
But it’s up for debate! What’s your opinion on the ‘once in a lifetime’ travel mentality?
Just when I thought I was getting away with a mild winter in Michigan, I woke up to a full-on blizzard and 8 inches of snow!! I hope you guys are enjoying whatever wintery weather you’re having. ANYWAY. Welcome to the first monthly recap of 2018!
In 2017, I met my goal of doing a recap every month (you can see them all here), and I’m pretty proud of that! I want to keep it going for 2018 – but in an effort not to get bored, and also because things are changing around this part of the internet… I’ve introduced a couple new headings. Just read on to see what’s new!
Where was I in January?
Michigan, New York City
Most popular Instagram in January…
January adventured like…
January was my first full month back living in the USA. Of course, I still miss England and my traveling lifestyle, but in all honesty I was ready to stop the longterm traveling – thanks to some health issues that were getting too big to ignore (read more on that here).
With all my new Doctors visits and diagnoses, I have been very focused on my health. Which brings me to my announcement that I will be writing a lot more wellness content in 2018… consider it my new niche!! Please let me know any specific topics you want to see, or any questions you have for me.
New things in 2018 were: weightlifting and pottery! Hopefully I’ll get better at both in February, lol.
Of course, I have to mention that I did spend a week in NYC!!! I haven’t written much about it on le blog because, well, is there anything about the Big Apple that isn’t already on the internet?! But I had a great time – ate lots of gluten free food, got to see my college friends and some family I hadn’t seen in years, saw Walk the Moon (who we went to college with, so it was quite cool to see them on a massive stage in NYC!!), and generally had an amazing time.
January read like…
Omg I got a Kindle and Goodreads and my reading life is transformed!!! You can check out my Goodreads here – friend me!
I also joined one of my favorite bloggers, Carolann’s, Beyond Bloggers facebook group and I’m hoping this inspires me to continue on this reading spree I am currently on (If you want a kick in the butt to read in 2018 – join that facebook group)!
I’m in a thriller stage at the moment, so my favorite was definitely Dark Placesby Gillian Flynn although I enjoyed both of her books – surprising myself as I (unpopular opinion) did not like Gone Girl! The most disappointing of the books I read was The Shadow of the Wind – I think I had too-high expectations, and I found the translation to be very clunky and I figured out the ending early on which is always a bit disappointing!
I’m gearing up for a Doctor’s ordered low-FODMAP elimination diet in February. Actually the Doctor ordered it in December and I’ve been putting it off because it seems so intense! There are literally hundreds of things I can’t eat on this diet and it is hard to wrap my brain around. I’m finding that reading books (this one is a life saver) rather than the internet is helpful, and the Monash low-FODMAP app is also amazing. If you’ve ever had to do an elimination diet or a low-FODMAP diet, please get in touch because I’d love some wisdom!!
probably not low FODMAP ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
January blogged like…
I slowed down (only a bit) on the blog-writing front and focused on more back-end things, which was smart because the Endless Distances pageviews almost doubled this month!! I am very happy about that
I have been getting a lot of blog-inspiration this month from Lee from America (a holistic/wellness blog), Gluten Free Cuppa Tea (who I have long-time loved, but now even moreso as Becky also follows a low-FODMAP diet as well as GF), and the #AHeartFullOfDistances Instagram challenge I ran with Annabelle.
January purchased like…
This is a new heading (along with the previous heading) that I want to do! In the past I’ve saved up all my money to spend on travel, but in a way I think that was one of the contributors to my ill health. I would skimp on everything in order to save money for travel, at the cost of things like health supplements or gym memberships or even little treats like new clothes. So one of my goals for 2018 is actually to spend more money (lol I’m probably alone in this).
I haven’t really followed through on this goal much so far, so I think this heading will be more interesting in the following months! But I think my best purchase of January was definitely my pottery class – which was definitely an investment but so worth it so far! I look forward to pottery every week – it’s something I really missed in England as I couldn’t find a good or affordable studio in Plymouth.
There we go y’all! First monthly recap of 2018 done and dusted! I’m going to be a bit more flexible with the categories in my monthly recaps this year so as to keep me (and you guys!) interested – but I’m excited to talk more about behind-the-scenes blogging and my favorite purchases. I would also love to know what you guys bought this month (that furthers your wellbeing).
I have lots of blog post plans in the works for February – but no travel!! Which is very strange for me, as you guys know. Although I dooooo have one sneaky little trip that I may be booking for late Feb, so stay tuned on that.
If sleeping in a space pod in Iceland isn’t on your bucket list, well, now it is! The luxury Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik is not only the best hostel for a stopover in Iceland, but it’s also the introvert’s answer to hostels. During my emotional transcontinental move from England to the USA, I planned in a quick 2-night stopover in Iceland – partly because I’d been wanting to visit Iceland for years, and partly because I was in denial of my nomadic lifestyle ending. I spent ages looking for the perfect hostel for my layover: I love quirky, boutique hostels, that are super clean with a central location and low on cost… don’t ask for much do I?! Well, when I found Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik I was sold. Not only did it have great reviews, and was undeniably the cheapest option in Rekyavik, but I would get to sleep in a space pod. A SPACE POD.
Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik: So What is a Space Pod?
If you’ve read anything about Iceland, you’ve probably seen people referring to its “martian landscape” – that recognizable black lava mixed with green moss and billowing steam that could only belong in Iceland. So honestly, what better country to sleep like an astronaut in a space pod? I stayed in the 24-bed dormitory which had, you guessed it, 24 space pods. As I swiped my key card to open my space pod door, I felt so excited. After a flight delay and a missed bus, and the emotion of leaving England, I was ready to just collapse in peace.
My space pod door slid open to soft white bedding, and a long control panel. I inserted my key into the control panel and began playing with it. When the key is in the control panel, you can alter the lights, from black lights to reading lights to mirror lights, and all different levels. There was also a clock with an alarm setting, a safe, an adjustable air vent, and outlets that I could even fit my UK plugs into. Oh and to top it off – at the foot of the bed there is a TV screen! Unfortunately I couldn’t get mine to work, so I just spent my first night watching A Christmas Prince on my laptop instead. Because, ya know, I have fine cinematic taste like that.
I found my pod to be really spacious (no pun intended). Granted, I am only 5’3″, but it is really spacious. I made a friend whilst I was there who was around 6′ and he had no complaints about the size of the pods either!
Why Galaxy Pod Hostel is the Best Hostel for Introverts
When I posted about Galaxy Pod Hostel on Instagram, I got a few responses saying “wow, that is the perfect hostel for introverts!” And you know what – it totally is. But maybe not in the way you are thinking. I was actually more social at Galaxy Pod Hostel than literally any other hostel I have ever stayed at. I made two friends who I am still in touch with… I spontaneously road tripped the Golden Circle with one of them, and then that evening the three of us stayed out until 4am hunting for the Northern Lights. And this is from me, an introvert!
I am a very friendly person, but I also consider myself an introvert, meaning I recharge my energy when I am alone (versus, extroverts, who are energized by being with other people). I love being social, but I have to balance this with alone time. Which means that usually when I stay in hostels, I can’t recharge my energy at the hostel because I’m constantly surrounded by people. Well, Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik totally reverses that. By having my own space pod, I used my time in there to recharge. To read my book, watch Netflix, just sit by myself on my phone without worrying about anything. Then, when I emerged from my space pod, I felt totally re-energized and ready to make friends and engage in that typical social hostel environment.
So, Galaxy Pod Hostel is the ideal hostel for introverts – and I say this because having personal space helped me be more social, not less.
Galaxy Pod Hostel: The Best Hostel for a Stopover in Iceland
Overall I have to say that Galaxy Pod Hostel is one of my favorite hostels I have ever stayed at, and definitely the one where I have had the most social yet relaxing experience! I would definitely stay here again – and I have a feeling I am going to be one of those hostel pushers. You know the ones. Like, “Oh you’re doing a stopover in Iceland? That’s cool. YOU HAVE TO STAY AT GALAXY POD HOSTEL. YOU HAVE TO. LOOK AT THIS PHOTO. LET ME WATCH YOU BOOK IT. TELL ME EVERYTHING WHEN YOU GO.”
But jokes aside, I insist that Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik is the best not only hostel, but the best accommodation for a stopover in Iceland – especially if you are a solo traveler. It has an amazing location: the Flybus from Keflavik Airport literally drops you off on the doorstep (and will pick you up to take you back to the airport!). It is a ten minute walk into the city center. You can order a capuccino in the lounge and watch the sunrise over the mountains. And the space pods are truly a bucket list experience!
Honestly, I’ve messaged with the guys I met at Galaxy Pod Hostel, and even a month later we are like “I miss my pod.” If you can’t tell, I really recommend a stay at Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik. Iceland itself is a mystery of a country which three days was not enough to experience, but the glimpse I got was incredible. However… it is damn expensive!! I have another Iceland post coming up this month about how I budgeted, and how much money I actually spent during my stopover in Iceland.
Location: Galaxy Pod Hostel, 105, Laugavegur 172, Reykjavik, Iceland
How to Get to Galaxy Pod Hostel from the Airport: Take the Flybus, which will take you straight to the doorstep of the hostel! More details here. Otherwise if you have a car, you can just drive as there is parking right out front.
Eco-friendly: Galaxy Pod Hostel has automatic lighting to reduce electricity usage, and they recycle. They are working on introducing even more eco-friendly attributes!
Price and Room Options: One pod in the 24 bed dormitory (this is what I had) is 7,000ISK, which is roughly equal to £50 and is the lowest price. There are also pods in 8 bed dormitory, a 6 bed all female dormitory, and a reservable 8 pod family room.