Month: April 2014

Getting Back into Planning

April sort of got away from me. Between playing host to visitors, bucket list and catch up dinners, and a weekend trip to wine country, I feel like I haven’t done anything productive toward my departure for a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a ton of fun during this planning hiatus. Many many bucket list activities were checked off and I spent time with some of my favorite people in the world, family and friends. I don’t regret it at all.

But April is almost over and it’s time to get back to it. I’m at the 6 and a half week mark until my flight to Brazil, and I was feeling a little stressed that I wasn’t close enough to being ready to go. So I scheduled in some planning time to do things like post furniture to Craigslist, start clearing off my bookshelf, and read more of my next how to plan a RTW trip guide. It was while reading this guide by Rough Guides that I came across their incredibly useful “Departure Checklist.”

Starting from what to do at 6 months out and counting down until the day before you leave, I discovered it perhaps a little later than I should have. I took a deep breath and read on, hoping I was at least somewhere near where I should be according to them.

Rough Guides' Departure Checklist

Rough Guides’ Departure Checklist

I am happy to say I am right on track. With just under 2 months to go, I have checked off everything I was supposed to by this point at pretty much the exact intervals they suggest. I am now in the middle of all the doctor/travel clinic/dentist appointments, and have figured out strategies for all my visas. Everything that is left to do is in the one month or less categories, and it is all things that I was planning to do either in the next two weeks or in the three weeks I have on the east coast with all the time in the world to go get the rest of my gear (I had the great realization that I won’t have to go to work anymore; so much more free time!).

So thank you Rough Guides for making me feel better. And thank you me for planning just like a guidebook. I am feeling better but there is still much to be done. There is also still a lot to be said, so hopefully this marks my return to blogging. Stay tuned for some decisions on what to bring, more bucket list fun, and general reflections as I approach my departure. 


3 Year One Way Anniversary

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

Today is my 3 year anniversary of moving to San Francisco. Which means it’s also the anniversary of the first one way ticket I ever bought.

Traveling one way felt so final. Until that point I’d had round trip journeys – college was limited to 4 years from the start, my flight to study abroad in Germany was 5 months before my return but still round trip, and while living in New York City was a move I always knew I wouldn’t be there forever. The move to San Francisco was the first big decision I made that felt so profoundly life-changing.

Now, on my 3 year anniversary of this first one way adventure, I find myself in a place where I have purchased 7 one way tickets in the past month. SEVEN.

I’m going to take a second and let that sink in. Because that is sort of insane…


I remember moving to San Francisco like it was only 3 days ago. While I could write a whole separate blog full of anecdotes about my love for this place and all the people I know here, what stands out for this blog is what that move meant to me in relation to this trip.

After graduating college I landed in NYC more by convenience than desire. Graduating with no job and in the middle of a recession, I applied to internships in the closest metropolis I could, which, being from New Jersey, is NYC. After my internship turned into a full time job I moved into the city. I’m happy I did, I always liked the city and had thought about living there so I wanted to try it out, but it was never meant to be final. I had a plan – NYC for 3 years, travel for a year, then move to SF.

See, San Francisco was my end goal. I had visited family in SF many times growing up and fell in love with it. I knew one day I would be here, and everyone who knew me knew that was my goal. So when I was offered a job for an amazing architecture firm in my dream city, I couldn’t turn it down, it was too good to be true. It was also too early. It meant I had to adjust my plan and move to my dream city before doing my trip.

I viewed this is as a delay, not a cancellation, of the trip. And when I moved out here, instead of thinking I ended up at my destination too soon, I saw it as a sign that I could follow through on my convictions. I had talked about moving to San Francisco for so long and I finally did it. I left behind my comfortable East Coast life (grew up in NJ, college in upstate NY, apartment in NYC) and most of my close friends and immediate family and set off to live a dream.

It has been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons, not the least of which was proving to myself that one day I would have the courage to make the same decision to take off on my trip.

Now that I’ve made this next decision, I am as excited and nervous as I was then, which actually gives me some comfort. If I was right with that risk, I’m sure I’ll be right with this one. So while it’s a little odd to celebrate an anniversary of somewhere I’m about to move out of, it is also a celebration of the confirmation of how right that one way flight can be.

And besides that, my 3 years here are completely worth celebrating. They’ve been some of the best years of my life and I love this city. One day I hope to return and stay for good. Assuming, that is, that after this trip I’ll ever be able to stay in one place for good.

Super Mario Bros Tour San Francisco

Anyone who has spent some time in San Francisco has see the GoCars: tiny, yellow, people-carrying vehicles that troll around telling their riders anecdotes like who donated the gate at the entrance to Chinatown or why Lombard Street curves like it does.

Anyone who grew up with Nintendo 64 has imagined these GoCars racing around the streets with shells on their backs and banana peels ready to be flung at their enemies, hoping to get star power so they can blast invincibly past their competitors.

GoCars and Mario Kart. It’s the 20-something San Franciscan’s dream.

And then one day a friend and I found ourselves with an empty afternoon and a costume box. This is how one of my favorite bucket list activities happened.

While it would’ve been great to get a group all dressed up as each of the Mario Kart characters (apparently no one has ever shown up as Donkey Kong), when there’s only two of you there is an obvious duo to portray: Mario and Luigi. So we donned our overalls (thank you to SF’s costume loving culture, without which our friends would not have overalls just lying around), our green and red tshirts, hats and sunglasses, and our fake mustaches, and set off on a mission to live the Mario Kart GoCar dream.

We looked good, but we brought an additional prop that really elevated our success: a Jambox. On which we played the Super Mario Bros theme song. On repeat. The entire walk to the GoCar store, the entire 1 hour ride around the city, and the entire walk home. That’s about 2 straight hours of the Super Mario Bros theme. It was stuck in my head for a week, but it was so incredibly worth it.

We picked up the car and, after a quick stop to say hi to our friends on Jackson Street (for photographic evidence, of course), we hit all the major tourist spots. We went down Lombard Street, through Chinatown to Union Square, up the Embarcadero and past Fisherman’s Wharf.

The reaction we got from people was amazing. I couldn’t even pretend to count how many pictures of us were taken. People waved at us, laughed, clapped, and even ran up to high five us when we were stopped at a red light. They yelled out “you’re awesome!” and “that’s the way to do it!” People danced along with the song as they crossed the street. My favorite reaction was the SUV that passed us on the Embarcadero, whose driver rolled down his window to wave a banana peel at us.

I am pretty sure I looked like an idiot smiling the entire time. And because I was bopping along to the song – it is pretty catchy. But the whole thing was just so much fun.

Did we learn a lot about San Francisco? The way the tour was meant to teach us, no not really. I can’t tell you all the historic facts that the car lady was trying to tell us; she was pretty much drowned out by the theme song. But I did experience that people in SF are pretty awesome. There’s nowhere else where I would feel totally comfortable and accepted, hell even loved, walking/GoCar-ing around dressed as Mario and Luigi in the middle of the day for no other reason than because we wanted to.

This was one of my bucket list items that I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to complete, at least the costume part of it. Dream fulfilled.

Mario and Luigi in our GoCar

Mario and Luigi in our GoCar

P.S. Big shout out and thank you to Luigi for entertaining this idea and coming along for the ride.