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Bi-Weekly World Traveler Interview – Erin from BrokeMillennials

I am well aware It’s been more than two weeks since the last one of this series, thankyouverymuch. I’ll get the hang of it, promise!

This post features a new blogger Erin over at BrokeMillennials, who was lucky enough to live in a bunch of different countries throughout her childhood and teens. She now resides in New York City and is scheming on her next global adventure with a twentysomething budget!

The rest is her words:

Tell us a little about your deal – who you are, where you come from!

My name is Erin Lowry, I’m 23 and 11 months old and I hail from, well that’s one of my least favorite questions. As an expat kid or TCK (third culture kid) as we call ourselves, answering that is a nightmare. My standard answer these days is North Carolina, even though I haven’t lived there in 13 years. I was born in Houston, TX and lived there for a solid three months before landing in Reno, Nevada and before I was speaking in proper sentences I had been taken to Gastonia, North Carolina (near Charlotte).

I spent my early years as a Southern Belle with Yankee parents until I was uprooted in February of 2000 at the age of 10 and we made the big move to Kobe, Japan. We were only supposed to stay for three years and have me back in time for my freshman year of high school. I didn’t come back to live in the US until college.

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Dressed up in traditional garb!

I fell in love with Japan and still consider it my home. So much growing up happened for me there from 10 (we moved in the middle of 5th grade for me) until 16 at the end of my sophomore year of high school. My family had been told we were heading back to North Carolina but when my parents were house-hunting in Charlotte in April my Dad received a call not to put an offer in on any houses. A few months later all our belongings were shipped to Shanghai, China.

I lived in China my junior and senior years of high school. I graduated high school from Shanghai American School in 2007, my sister graduated in June 2010 and my parents finally moved back to Charlotte in November of 2010, after a decade of life in Asia.

What are your earliest travel memories?
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The very earliest memories are of going to Florida for Easter vacation, but my first international excursion was at age 9. My Dad had been doing a substantial amount of international travel for work and had racked up quite the number of frequent flyer miles. For my 9th birthday he told me I could pick anywhere in the world to go and he’d take me as a father/daughter trip. Because he’d spent so much time traveling to Japan, that’s where I picked. When we ended up moving there a year later I demanded a refund.

That trip had a lot of really special memories for me. My Dad arranged for me to spend the day at a local Japanese school. I wore my St. Michael’s School uniform and just remember having to use sign language and drawings to express things to the other kids. We didn’t speak the same language, but we still had a really fun time at recess. Plus, at age 9 I’d already gone through a big growth spurt and towered over most of the Japanese kids at 5’1. I also had blond hair, blue eyes and extremely pale skin. They really enjoyed just staring at me. I remember learning extremely quickly that if I said I liked anything in a store one of my Dad’s Japanese business associates would immediately buy it for me. Japanese are really big into gift giving when trying to establish relationships. My Dad figured out pretty quickly what I was up to and put the kibosh on all my swag. The vending machines that dispensed ice cream were also extremely exciting.

But, the most vivid memory of all was one of the most traumatic experiences of my international life. There was one major flaw in my Dad’s father/daughter trip plan, he clearly couldn’t go into the public restrooms with me. On one of our drives through the Japanese countryside we stopped to use the bathroom. I walked into a stall and became very confused. There didn’t appear to be a toilet, just a porcelain hole in the floor. I opened the doors to all the stalls in the place and just saw floor toilets over and over again. Clearly, I couldn’t get my Dad’s help so I just attempted to squat down and use this strange contraption. Without too much graphic detail, I will say this was not particularly successful and my black, umbra gym shorts ended up a covered in my own body fluids. I ran out of the bathroom crying.

This was so scaring that I didn’t even attempt to use one again until I was 16 years old and on a Habitat for Humanity trip in the rural area of Yunan, China where western toilets absolutely do not exist. I am now an absolute master.

In case you don’t know what an Asian toilet looks like:

How did you perceive living in new places while young?

When we moved I was old enough to remember my “American culture” and have ties to my home country. Compared to most kids in my international school(s) I was a bit of an anomaly. Most kids started the expat experience much younger and had little to no understanding of their mother land (my sister was 7 when we moved and didn’t really “get” American culture until she moved back for college).

But, being 10 I was also adapted pretty quickly. The first few days included a lot of crying, door slamming and confusion but once I started school I got over that pretty quickly. Japan is a wonderland for kids. It’s safe and has public transit so at the age of 10 we were taking off to the movies, malls, pools and other hang out spots without needing our parents to pick us up or drop off us.

Being a Caucasian American in a homogeneous culture also put me in a huge minority both in public and at school, even though it was an international school. It was a strange feeling at first, but it also gave me the sense of being “special.” A common situation for European and American expat kids in Asia.

Moving to China was a bit of culture shock. It was so different from Japan and I missed the organized public transit and rigid structure of Japanese culture. I was 16 when we made that move though and had been to China a few times before so I wasn’t as baffled as the first move from America to Japan.

Bring us through a few day’s itinerary on one of your most memorable trips.

My mother was always the itinerary planner and I regret that I don’t have her detailed plans saved anywhere. I’m sure she does though.

I'm in the Duke sweatshirt!

I’m in the Duke sweatshirt!

My parents always took our requests and incorporated them into our plans. They also were dedicated to truly exploring countries. We didn’t just do Australia one, we did it six times and went to new cities and towns each time. I have a great memory of exploring Kangaroo Island in South Australia. First grade teacher went to Kangaroo Island and I thought that sounded like the coolest place in the whole world. About seven years after I first heard about Kangaroo Island my Mom put it in our itinerary per my request.

We explored the Great Barrier Reef, saw the New Years fireworks in Sydney, watched the Wizard of Oz on Australia’s Broadway with actors trying their hardest to sound American. We got to swim with dolphins in New Zealand, ride horses through the Outback and get up close and personal with puffins in Iceland. Clearly, we like animals.

In Iceland my parents drove straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon where we got to relax after our flight and soak in the world’s best skin exfoliate.

It’s hard for me to remember full days from all our international adventures. Instead I have a highlight reel in my head of favorite moments, be it a water village in Halong Bay, Viet Nam, walking the Great Wall of China or dining in an old Irish castle.

What is the craziest person you’ve met while on the road?

I throughly enjoyed walking the beach in Viet Nam and a girl, no older than seven, telling my father she’d “bust a cap in his ass” if he didn’t buy the flowers she was selling. Got to love the lasting legacy American GIs left in “Nam.”

Truthfully, it isn’t so much the crazies that stay with me, but the faces of all the young children in various levels of poverty who wanted hugs, smiles, candy and just to speak with the strange-looking foreigners. My Dad’s blog has a post recapping some of our families best experiences:


Tell of a stereotype you thought about a place and how your perspective may have changed.

The cliche answer would be Paris. In a combination of expat kid and broke millennial fashion, I cashed in half my frequent flyer miles to take a trip to Paris my senior year of college. A good friend from my high school in Shanghai was taking a semester away from Cornell to study in Paris. I went to visit her prepared for all the American stereotypes of French people disliking us and identifying me immediately as an American before I even opened my mouth.

Truthfully, I had nothing but a grand time in Paris filled with pleasant people. I even tried my hand at ordering for myself in French at most restaurants and didn’t get a single sneer. Having never spoken a lick of French before visiting I knew my accent was atrocious, but everyone I interacted with seemed to at least appreciate the effort.

In my chances to travel I’ve really learned to always attempt to speak a few words of the native language.

With a friend in Versailles.

With a friend in Versailles.

Anything else you’d like!

Growing up as an expat is something I value and credit for a lot of who I am today. Even thought it meant constantly losing friends to moves and never really knowing when things could drastically change, I was able to have more travel and cultural experiences by 18 than most people experience in a lifetime. It’s also a lifestyle I hope to get back to one day. Even now, it’s hard for me to image staying in one place for longer than three or four years.

Thanks so much Erin! You can check her blog out here and follow her budget adventures at @BrokeMillennials. In the next few days the Texas series will continue. Feel free to reach out with your own great travel stories (even if they’re just dream right now!) I love chatting travel.

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Where else can I find you online talking about travel?

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Although I’m lacking in sleep, my time in Texas has been absolutely fantastic. It’s true what they say though – most of Texas wine is drunk in state, and I am certainly the one drinking it all. I can’t keep up, there’s so many delicious varieties! Besides wine, there’s art galleries, Texas nouveau cuisine, cozy accommodations and really, truly, the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

But that’s all I can say for now, because our days are jam packed with things to do! I’m on call in 20 minutes and haven’t showered yet!

While I wander around, I thought I’d just offer all the other places on the web I’m actively chatting about my adventures. I’d love to find you there too and interact!

Twitter

Instagram

Foursquare

ViviTrip: A fun little site that acts like Facebook for travelers – allowing you to post pics, comments and track your trip on a world map alongside others.

Quilt: This primarily is a smartphone app where you can hook up with other travelers and “stitch” together the story of your trip through posts, tips, photos and whatever else you like to share.

Even LinkedIn!

Look forward to connecting on all platforms and I’ll be back soon with details from this Texas trip!


A joyful journey to the end of the world – travel in Lagos, Portugal

I have a lot to see on this planet, which often deters me from stepping in the same place twice. But when the chance to go back to Lagos, Portugal, I couldn’t resist the crazy perfect beaches, cliffside views and vibrant nightlife that pulses through the cobblestone streets. Historically it’s been a busy port city, and now it’s a hub of Portuguese culture, food and fun. Last time I was there I was 21 years old and out of my mind, so this round was a little more subdued. But let’s be honest, it was still a carnival ride of hazy colors, breezy shores and the friendliest people around. I went for a long weekend with the party boys at Discover Sevilla and my new au pair friends from the U.S. and Denmark.

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If you find yourself in this southwestern corner of Europe, you have to see the sunset at “The End of the World” in nearby Sangres. The wind is so strong you can barely hear yourself think but it adds to the excitement of being hundreds of feet off the ocean floor. If you are going to jump an let the wind catch you like these two are doing, for the love of God, do it far away from the cliff.

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Photo fans can’t miss the chance to capture this endless view of sea and sky and some memories with their friends. Everyone was keeping it pretty classy here, but I certainly saw people let loose later on. A definite stop on your nighttime magical mystery tour should be Joe’s Garage downtown. It has a spring break vibe but it small enough to feel personal. Either get ready to take shots on fire and dance on the bar throughout the weekend, or grab a calmer cocktail during the week when the crowds usually head home.

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A lighthouse marks the cliffs to avoid some serious damage.

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Beach all day, dance all night. Some of the areas are a little run down with abandoned buildings. But everything is clean and sunny, so you barely notice. I personally think it distinguishes it from some of the other resort towns. This image was on the way to the beach where we swam and played volleyball all day in the heavenly weather. Plenty of restaurants are located along the ocean as well, stocked with seafood specials and drinks to help handle the heat. If you speak a little Spanish or Portuguese it’s helpful, but you’ll be more than fine getting by without it – pointing and smiling is pretty universal.

PS – Happy Valentine’s Day all you crazy lovebirds! I’m going to partake in the madness and enjoy some lovey gushy stuff myself, but you do you today and own that bowl of ice cream or hot date, whichever it may be. In fact, I am going to indulge both.


Preview of my dream coming true: Mazatlan, Mexico

I can’t believe it took me this long to visit our neighbors south of the border. Being an East Coast native I assumed I’d be visiting Cancun or Playa del Carmen on my first adventure, but instead I was assigned to Mazatlan. Located in Sinaloa, this city is hugged by a fantastic, warm ocean and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They had a field day making fun of my Spain accent, yes ha ha laugh it up I know I sound like I have marbles in my mouth.

Besides that though, like seriously, Mexico is wonderful. All those rumors were laid to rest the second I met my insanely sweet driver for the week and the super helpful hotel staff who calmed me down after my luggage was lost. I met a woman from Bolivia who took charge as tour guide because she had already been there, and we were able to see a side of this city I’m sure many don’t experience. I had a lot of moments, like the time I was the only ‘gringa’ in a sea of a thousand locals at a beach-side Halloween party at 3AM, where I just though wow, oh wow, it’s all happening.

The full story will be featured in the winter issue of Canadian World Traveller, so here’s a sneek peak. The photos are out of order because, well, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Special festivities to honor the dead Part IV

Knocked this one off of the bucket list – witness Dia De Los Muertos first hand. They really went all out and had a massive party in the historical plaza, plus a parade with crazy Banda music. It’s a cross between Mexican Mariachi and German marching music – I know right?

Walking through the Osuna Distillery Part IITequila, except it’s not tequila. Only certain areas of Mexico are allowed to call it that, so this was Mezcal  Same thing though, don’t let the advertisers fool you!

Dia de los Muertos

Dia De Los Muertos again. Many businesses and homes had altars covered in skeletons, tortillas and pictures. Even the duty free shop in the airport had an altar.

Ocean and island views

When I first threw open the drapes in my hotel room I saw this and squealed like a kid at Disney World. It was just starting to get cold at home, so it was perfect timing. The resort is the Royal Villas Hotel and it was the best base for exploring Mazatlan – airy rooms, tasty breakfast and located really close to everything.

Sun goes down, stars come out

Some people stayed at the golf course, while I got this view. NO complaints.

Margaritas

Mango margaritas. At every meal. That is all.

Living like a local

This kid, rockstar. He was running around his parent’s salon and noticed I had a camera. We had an impromptu photo shoot with him checking every shot in between to make sure he looked good. “Otra vez! Otra vez!” “Again! Again!” We were in stitches, he is a born entertainer.

Hiking up to El Faro

He had tags but was all alone at the top of El Faro. Super friendly puppy, wish I could have spared a bit of my water, but it was like Satan’s bedroom up there and I thought I was going to pass out.

Elegant Marina El Cid

Being a guest at one of the swankiest gigs in town was definitely an experience. I wish I brought a prettier dress. The tourism board really outdid themselves and has everyone wear white to complete the look. We arrived and were greeted with a mango margarita and a boat ride across the harbor to this massive tent for more drinks, of course, and a four course meal.

A parasailing perspective

Parasailing was terrifying.  I HATE heights. But just like the kid egged on to lick that freezing pole by his peers, I couldn’t very well let the other writers show me up. So I did it and was rewarded with some of the most ridiculous views ever. Gliding along felt awesome, until I had to figure out how the hell to get down. Glad I still have all my limbs.

Sunset and horses

Adios Mazatlan, un beso!

In the near future I’ll share my London trip and maybe do a throwback to Spain, since it’s my fave. I got my press pass for the upcoming Boston Globe Travel Show in February, which will hopefully create more leads and more adventure! Here we go!


Grenada’s Array of Natural Exports

Grenada’s Array of Natural Exports

Photo by RAStr on Flickr

Photo by RAStr on Flickr

A little blog I wrote for the gorgeous La Luna resort in Grenada. I’m ready to hit up this exotic island right now. Over this snow in Boston, and going to another cold city this weekend  but maybe a trip south is in the works soon!


Next stop: Zoo York City

There will a little adventure to be had in New York this weekend! I scored tickets to the New York Times travel show and couldn’t be more thrilled – thanks to the people at InTheKnowTraveler and a Lithuanian tourism company I’ll learn more about when I get there. It will be hectic and nuts, but I’m thrilled to be a part of it all.

Not only will I be at the conference for a couple of days, I scored a stay at the Hotel Americano, which may just be the hippest place to be in Chelsea. It will be fantastic, I’m sure, to have such a charming, sleek home base with all the work&play I plan to do!

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Oh yeah. Swanktastic.

Luckily enough Gary was free this weekend and will be joining me for support and to take notes when I forget. It will be fun to be a team again – he’s looking for memorable places to drink and be merry as we speak.

A little anxiety is creeping into my plans which I’m trying to keep at bay – mostly because I couldn’t find a lot of motivation this week and I’ma bit swamped. Hopefully I can get word to paper tonight and tomorrow so I can focus on the task at hand in new York this weekend. Fingers crossed.


Well? Things are going….FANTASTICALLY.

I haven’t quite decided if I should keep going here or go out elsewhere. BECAUSE, I have arrived. I am no longer unemployed. Sortof.

Jobs are flowing in, if not perfectly steady, and my numbers continue to rise. My reviews are flawless and most clients are satisfied with what I’m doing for them on a freelancing basis. I’ve found that with a lot of my clients I’ve been moving into a different direction, encompassing more marketing and social media help. Thta’s fine by me, it’s still somewhat steady.

Now, for the challenges. One, time management. I have absolutely none. It’s very late and I’m blogging now to continue to avoid the task at hand. Which reminds me, I should get back to work.

But good news? Yeah, free trip to Mexico. It happened. In less than six months of venturing out on my own I earned a press trip to beautiful Mazatlan to rub shoulders with some incredible personalities and writers for a week. Oh and enjoy some time at the spa, ziplining, drinking tequila and dining on all the shrimp I could eat. Things are happening. It’s all happening.

Viva la Mexico!

 

Job Hunt Tip #9: Confidence is key, but don’t be an egomaniac. Feed on a few recent compliments and use your best assets of charm and grace to snag that interview.


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