Live Inspired: 10 things I learned after one year as a nomad

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

In many ways, it feels like my journey as a nomad has only just begun. But that day in late June when I packed up my backpack and left my old house in Minneapolis? That feels like CENTURIES ago, some black-and-white movie I once watched.

The last 14 months have been an exercise in almost complete change — I sold everything, left all that I knew and charged into an indefinite journey of solo travel. To do that, I had to unlearn how to live, how to think, how to operate, and then calculate and build a new normal in a totally new existence.

After more than a year as a nomad traveling mostly through Central America, here’s what I learned:

Live Inspired: the hours before takeoff

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Every time, it’s the same.

On the night before I make a new, big move, I don’t sleep.

Before that point, I think about my plans ahead very differently. Now, over a year into this wild, nomadic existence, there is an element of normalcy in what I do — plunging myself into the unknown, alone — even though at times it feels totally insane.

I know I’ll fall into my flow. I know I’ll fall in love. The constant move, more than anything else now, is the new order.

But in those hours before the next leg begins, a particular feeling takes over — some blend of excitement, anticipation and anxiety — and my pulse raises, my stomach turns.

Live Inspired: An ode to slow travel

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

At sunset in Panajachel, Guatemala, a line of snack stalls abutted the Lake Atitlán.

Each one offered beers, swaddled with napkin bibs, and fresh ceviches with their own little twist. Living there for over a month, I could have tried them all. But walking by every night, I chose the same one — not because I was uninterested in trying something different, but because being a regular just felt good.

Live Inspired: Why I love being a solo female traveler

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Traveling with others can be a lot of fun, and let’s be honest, it’s definitely the most popular way to travel. But solo travel, especially solo female travel, has become trendy for a reason and it’s not just the great selfie ops (selfies are actually really hard to take solo, I’ve learned).

I get a lot of questions about my solo female traveller lifestyle — whether I get lonely or bored or feel uncomfortable a lot.

Those answers? All a resounding “no!”

Traveling alone isn’t a consolation prize; for me, it’s actually the pinnacle. Whether you’re taking a weekend trip within the U.S. or wandering across a continent, solo excursions can be incredibly refreshing and stimulating. Going alone has taught me a ton about myself, about my independence and what I’m capable of.

Once you start, it can be addicting. Here’s some of why I love moving through the world alone.

13 discount codes to make your trip cheaper

Related content: how to eat for cheap; how to travel the U.S. as a broke nomad.

Let’s be honest: if you live in the U.S., travel — both nationally and internationally — is constantly threatening to break your budget and leave you with post-vaca woes. Partly thanks to our geographical location and partly thanks to an airline industry that’s completely out of control, flights can be really expensive! Most hotels are honestly nuts, too. ($400/night just to get some shuteye? Are you disconnected from reality??!) And transportation in a given place isn’t always much better. If you’re doling out $2,000+ just to arrive, sleep and get around, your whole travel plan gets squeezed — perhaps causing you to skip some of the actual, you know, SIGHTS.

That’s tragic. And really, really defeating. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to save some bucks on the logistical costs if you know how to work the system, play the points game (get loyal: with a credit card, an airline, a hotel chain, etc.) and SHARE SOME CODES.

Here are 13 of my own personalized codes you can use to cut the costs on your next trip. (Bonus: for most of these, I benefit too!)

How to travel with friends (and remain friends after traveling)

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably realize that I usually travel solo. That’s not an accident. I love being alone on the road for a multitude of reasons: I get to be totally selfish in my choices, I move at my own pace, I find I use my senses to better experience moments and I’m also more vulnerable (in a good way) to new interactions and friendships.

But the truth is, most of us travel with someone else — and I enjoy that, too. The trick, of course, is aligning your goals and desires with another (or multiple!) humans, a feat that isn’t always easy. Most of you have probably already realized that a great friend/partner/family member at home doesn’t necessarily equal a great travel partner away from it. Being in totally different settings from a normal existence — read: 24/7 interaction, bathroom-sharing, schedule-sharing — can test the closeness of and tolerance for any relationships.

So how do you have a stellar time with your bestie or your significant other without devolving into petty fights and frustration? Here are five of my favorite tips for having a swimming vaca —and still loving each other on the other side, as evidenced from my recent trip to New Orleans with my great gal pal Megan.

17 ways to be more eco-friendly while traveling

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Growing up in a family where we washed and reused plastic bags, grew much of our produce, composted more than anyone I knew and camped our way across America, I’ve always tried to be conscious of my impact on the environment.

But traveling through Central America this last year — watching waves of trash wash up on beaches and sewage pumped directly into rivers and lakes as well as the effects of climate change, such as great drought  — has caused me to think even more urgently about living green.

The problem is, in many parts of the world, particularly poorer countries, being eco-friendly isn’t always convenient or even possible all of the time. In vast areas of Central America, for example, messaging about waste and realistic alternatives for single-use plastic are rare while large-scale recycling programs are entirely absent. Compounding my own personal mark are the tiny toiletries I’m forced to buy (small bottles vs. large bottles) thanks to living a life on the move, and the wet wipes I use constantly because of the lack of clean water, soap products and space. (I’m far from perfect.)

It’s easy for a lot of us to throw our normal standards to the wind while traveling or vacationing — when room service, eating out and sightseeing create different patterns than the perhaps more eco-friendly habits we’re used to abiding by at home.

Still, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and travel more sustainably whether you’re venturing across the country or overseas — if you’re only willing to put some thought in and make moderate sacrifices.

Live Inspired: How to eat (well) on a tight travel budget

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

Last week, as I jetted to Denver, I solicited my social media fam for recommendations for cheap eats.

Along with some genuinely solid ideas and many not-so-solid fast food solicitations, I heard one comment over and over.

“I don’t think anything is cheap here,” was a variation I heard from several people.

Though I’d never been to Denver, that assumption surprised me. In just about every U.S. city, particularly the big ones, there are top-notch budget eats and drinks to be found — if you only know where and how to look. The problem is, a lot of people seem to find the logistics of just that confusing, leading to limp wallets, defeated drive-through runs and sad, store-bought sandwiches.

So since I don’t want you to be that person, since my life mission is making sure everyone  achieves culinary exhilaration without draining their savings account, I wrote this mini guide with tips to find super tasty deals for super tasty prices. (Don’t forget to look into public transportation so you don’t blow all your savings on Ubers):

Live Inspired: trading objects for experiences

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

This past weekend, I cleaned out my remaining closet of stuff.

I dumped a lot of stuff to donating centers. I sold a fair amount of my favorite pieces of clothing on Instagram. 

As I did, I received a bunch of messages. Among them:

“Good for you, lighten the load.”

And, “How refreshing.”

I understand those well-meaning sentiments and where they came from. Meanwhile, however, I was focusing on not puking in the sink.