Browse Category by Inspiring Stuff
Inspiring Stuff, Trip Planning, USA

Hayden Hits New York City

It’s been a while since I posted on here guys. Even though it’s not an excuse, admittedly I have been really busy! I’m back in school and most of my current homework is not overly riveting – but, if you’d like, I’d be happy to tell you about the USA’s average propensity to save or maybe you’d prefer the 7-layer OSI model?

(this is usually when my audience runs in terror)

That being said, I’ve been saved from the dullard of the day to day via the adventures of someone else. Something I hope I provided to you while I was traveling ­čÖé

The Big Apple, The City of Dreams, The City That Never Sleeps, The City So Nice They Named It Twice – no matter what you call it, NYC is one of the most renowned travel destinations in the world.

Annually, New York City attracts more than 58 million visitors, bringing in over 42 billion dollars worth of tourism revenue. Visitors from both domestic and abroad, but no matter where you come from, NYC is a sight to behold, making it a top destination on any traveler’s list.


When dipping your toes into the traveling adventures pool, it’s typical to start with something like the capital of your region, or perhaps a road trip with a group of friends or a family vacation.

If you know me either personally or through this blog, you probably know I like to go big or go home! I love this about myself and love to see in others.┬áMy first camping trip was to travel to Burning Man (solo) to spend 9 days in the desert with a bunch of people I met on the internet – sounds totally safe, right? It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

Since returning home from Asia, I’ve set up shop working at a little pizza dive in my hometown while I’ve started my degree. We serve up delicious, unique, New York style pizzas made from dough we make daily and produce that we cut ourselves. It’s so good, it makes you cry (or maybe that’s from all the onions we’re cutting?).

I hear from a lot of people that travel seems like something they’ll never be able to do. Too expensive, too busy, too [insert reason]. While all of that is valid, I try to show people who are interested that it truly can be done by anyone.

It may have been our pizza, it may have been my constant reminiscing about previous travel adventures but no matter the persuasion my still-under-21 coworker Hayden recently went on his first big city solo travel adventure – hostels and all – to New York freakin’ City!┬á


Behind the scenes

Spending about $600 he enjoyed all the Big Apple had to offer over the course of 5 days.

  • $35 for a metro pass for the week
  • Kept meals under $10
  • Hostel accommodations: $300 (prime location is worth it!)
  • Gas and parking: ~$80

From dining atop the highest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere to fending off cash-hungry homeless people he was able to experience the full monty that often comes with big cities.

Straight from the source

Q: What’s some advice you would have for first-time, solo travelers going to NYC?

A: “Advice would be to write down the subway directions and a notepad and keep your phone off in the subway because it drained my battery. I also used my phone compass a lot in the subway to make sure I was going in the right direction. It’s super easy to get on the wrong train. And, it sounds bad, but if someone comes up to you on the street or subway be quick to make it clear you don’t have any cash or they will hassle you.”┬á

Solid advice, I would give the same!

Q: Did you ever feel unsafe or have to ask a local for assistance? 

A: “I never felt unsafe, [there were] police on almost every block. I never even reached for my pepper spray. I never asked for help from locals but I did help a ton of other people who didn’t know where to go.”

Hayden always does the nice thing.

Q: What did you see that you didn’t expect?┬á

A: “There was trash everywhere, but it wasn’t too bad.”┬á

Some of the highlights of the trip were meeting people from all over the world at the hostel he stayed at (NY Moore Hostel), just walking around observing the city, and (duh) the amazing food. Specifically, the New York style pizza made by ‘real Italians who argued the whole time they made it’ (lol). We all know that frustration crushed tomatoes and roughly punched dough tastes the best! Maybe we’ll have to implement these techniques at my shop.

We’re all thrilled to have Hayden back at work (though maybe he’d rather still be in NYC) and I’m so happy to have someone else to talk about how delicious big-city food is compared to my tiny town. Though, I find myself in a bit of an inspiration maelstrom. I’ve passed the travel torch to another and now I’m losing hours on the internet scheming my next travel adventure after being re-inspired by him…I guess that’s not so bad. ­čśë


I hope that you feel moved to take the torch from us and give a go to your own adventure. It doesn’t have to be big or drastic, but if that’s the way you like it…you can do it!

Until next adventure……

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Burning Man, Inspiring Stuff, Travel, Unusual Adventures, USA

How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 2.

How Burning Man broke my self identity

We had arrived.

Continued from part 1.

Part 3 can be found here. 

I’d read about the dust, and with it billowing around us, there was no mistake. We had made it to the playa.

Pulling into the bus depot, we all rush off the bus – we’re here, we’re here! As the baggage gets unloaded, we’re herded into a small group where the virgins are asked to step forward. Knowing that’s me, I move to the front of the group. We’re given a hammer and told to hit a bell as hard as we can as part of our initiation ceremony.

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Burning Man, Inspiring Stuff, Travel, Unusual Adventures, USA

How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 1.

With Burning Man quickly approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how my first trip to Burning man in 2014 broke my self-identity, rebuilding me into who I am today.

This story deserves to be told it its fully glory, so this will be a mini series. To make sure you don’t miss parts 2 & 3, subscribe via email using the menu on the left (below for mobile). ┬á

*Jurrasic park voice* Welcome…. to part 1!┬á

If you’ve never heard of Burning Man, you were just like me.

I had just gotten my first ‘big-girl’ job working in downtown Chicago. As such, it was my first job with paid time off. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I’d been working there for a while and had saved up enough money to take a vacation. Where was I going to go? Continue Reading

Inspiring Stuff, Thailand, Travel

Why I didn’t visit the Karen Long Neck villages in Thailand.

I chose not to visit the Karen Long Neck villages in Thailand – or any native village for that matter. Why not?

During my month in Thailand, I noticed that most activities for tourists were things that were ‘awesome photo opportunities’. Admittedly, I gotta say, part of the draw of coming to Thailand was for exactly that – sweet, sweet photos. Bring on that Reddit karma, baby! Visiting native villages, like the long neck villages, is one of the most popular ways to get those photos.

Let’s address two questions:

1 .What is considered an “awesome photo”?

2. At what cost do these photos come?

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Inspiring Stuff, Japan, Travel

Rationalizing Violence

Can acts of violence be rationalized? I wrestle with the question while visiting Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

“Free tour of Peace Memorial Park at 10 am – meet in the lobby.”

Hmm..I pondered the sign. I like free. I like tours too. Peace memorial park was on my list. Truth be told, it was the whole reason that I was in Hiroshima in the first place.

I asked the receptionist, “How long is the tour?”

“Three hours. You’ll want to bring lots of water – it’s hot out.”

Psh, don’t┬áneed to tell me twice! Japan, being an island, has been one big sauna everywhere except the miraculous Tokyo.

With a bubble of immediacy bursting inside of me, I signed up for the tour. I then headed up to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.

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