Russia & The World Cup: A Pre-depature Note

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Each trip I take has a different excitement leading up to it. Some trips, I’m excited for the people I’m going with, others for the places I’m going, and some for a particular activity I have planned.   As I think about this trip to Portugal, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Moscow, and London I have to admit it’s a true combination of all three.

If I’m being honest, at first, I was mostly excited about the people.  When I touch down in Lisbon I’ll be meeting up with 11 of my good friends (most of who don’t know each other) from across the world (USA, Australia, Greece, England, Egypt, Iraq will all be represented).  Each of them trusts me enough that when I messaged them to meet in Lisbon and share an Airbnb with a bunch of “my friends” none of them hesitated. Last year’s Asia trip was the same way. After our weekend in Lisbon, eight of us will travel on to Russia and then England.  By the end of this trip, people who had never met will be lifelong friends, which is pretty neat.

While I enjoy traveling and exploring new places I love connecting people and (humble brag) it’s something I’m good at.  I know really quickly if I have a connection with someone and as soon as I do I can’t help but bring them into my life and connect them with everyone I know.  Two of the people coming on this trip I barely knew (had met in person once) before I invited them to come with. If you’re wondering, we haven’t even left yet and they’ve already great additions.  

What can I say, when I know, I know.  

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Lisbon already has my heart

Few things beat introducing two of my friends a few hours later they are inseparable.  It’s a double validation of sorts. It’s them both saying “hey you’ve got good taste.” I love the number of group chats I’m in with people who met through me and now spend most of the group chat teaming up to make fun of me.  My need to bring people together is the main reason why I’ll never be able to stop saying “oh man, you should come with” whenever I travel even when it makes the trip planning and logistics more difficult. It’s why if I had one magic wish it wouldn’t be for gold or immortality; it’d be for all the people I love to live in one place.  For the last few months, it was the thought of bringing everyone together that really got me excited.

While I’m still excited for the people, I’m fascinated by the locations (minus London).  I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for years. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s all the things I’ve read and heard about it.  It reminds me of when I became obsessed with Prague and knew my life wouldn’t be complete until I went there. Now, in this case, I have no intentions of moving there for half a year like I did with Prague, but Portugal has been a place that’s been on my mind to visit for far too long.  When I got the opportunity for a, granted short, trip to Lisbon I took it. I actually had to spin the situation and manipulate the group a bit to make this dream a reality.

I’ve had countless people scoff and say “why would you ever want to go to Russia?”  I don’t know Carol, because it’s fucking huge? It’s a world power? It’s full of history?  It’s completely different than where I’m from and that is usually good for perspective. Since when did learning about people and places different from your own become a bad thing?  We as a society have become so fearful of what’s different that we’ve stopped looking at how differences can help us change and grow.

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Tough to say no to Russia

I’ve always said I’ll go anywhere so when the opportunity to go to Russia fell into my lap I had to pick it up and run with it.  I knew next to nothing about Russia before deciding to come and honestly, I still don’t. But I’m excited to learn, to eat caviar in St. Petersburg, jump in the Dead Sea near Sochi, and drink a vodka shot (or two) in Moscow.   Eight months ago I had no intention of going to Russia ever and now I’m on my way. In my experience, those types of trips are the most memorable.

I’m not going to even pretend to be a big soccer fan.  Sure I played when I was a kid, but I’ve always preferred football and basketball.  In college, when all my friends were obsessed with playing FIFA it just never really captured my attention. So when my buddy Seif asked me if I wanted to go to the World Cup I almost said no based off the fact that the US didn’t qualify and how little soccer I’ve watched/played in my life.

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The World Cup won’t be so bad…

Then the World Cup started and I noticed something. The more games I watched and articles I read I began to realize that the World Cup isn’t just about soccer.  It’s about the atmosphere and national pride. It’s about coming together to experience something that only happens every four years with people from all over the world.   

Over the past two weeks, I’ve become more and more interested in soccer.  I’ve actually watched more matches in the last two weeks than the 27 years beforehand.  I know the different groups, who’s favored to win, and the scores of each match. My excitement to actually go to three matches in different Russia cities has grown so much in such a short time.  Each match I watch I see the crowd going insane, chanting, signing, and just think “that’s going to be me soon” which is a little hard to comprehend right now. As of today, I don’t really care who wins the World Cup (which will probably change once I get there), but I’m still excited to go because it’s an experience about so much more than soccer.

I’m curious 5 years from now when I look back on this trip if I remember the people, the places, or the World Cup experience more or if they will all be too intertwined to separate.  Over the next 17 days, I’m going to do my best to document different parts of my trip through photos, videos, and blogs without sacrificing truly experiencing what’s going on around me.  Hopefully, when I look back on those they’ll remind me about the times I had that were too unexpected and ridiculous to share with the world.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

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What to Pack: World Cup Edition

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It’s finally time.  Time to pack for my first international trip of the year.  The one I’ve been quietly counting down the days till for months.  Okay, maybe not so quietly, but it’s finally time for Portugal, Russia, London, and the World Cup.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for Burning Man and Greece with SandiClause, but this is the main event of the year. With the World Cup only happening once every four years and the entire world watching it’s going to be an experience even I may not be ready for.  Throw in the random hodgepodge of people I’ve managed to assemble for this trip and quite honestly, anything could happen.

The main focus of the trip may be the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still have to pack for a 2+ week trip, 3 countries, quite different situations and am choosing to only bring one bag.  But any traveler will tell you this is what we live for.

With one bag, choices had to be made.  Leaving my “Embrace Your Weird” shirt in KC.  No room for my hammock and I may regret choosing to bring my drone instead of a jacket (Russian and English weather are fickle at best) but live and learn (my thinking on drone over jacket is once I’ve bought my Russian Adidas tracksuit I’ll have a jacket for those Russian White Nights.

Below you’ll find a list of everything I am bringing with me on my 17 day World Cup journey. Unlike my trip to Costa Rica I’m only bringing my Cotopaxi 35L Alpha with one rule as law: if it doesn’t fit it’s not coming.

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Essentials

  • Passport
  • Fan ID
  • World Cup Tickets x 3
  • Wallet
      • Credit Card x2
      • Schwab Debit Card
  • Global Entry and Priority Pass Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Sleep Mask
  • Notebook
  • Personal copy of Oh the Places You’ll Go
  • Nebraska Flag
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    • Contact solution and container
    • Razor and trimmer
    • Comb

Clothes

  • Cotopaxi Windbreaker
  • Borrowed Soccer Jersey (thanks Sims or Seif)
  • 7 T-shirts
  • Tank Top
  • Long Sleeve Tee
  • 6 pair of boxers
  • A pair compression shorts
  • Surfing Rash Guard Longsleeve Shirt
  • Gym shorts
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • Boardshorts
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • Sandals
  • Pair of vans
  • Running shoes
  • Serengetee 5 Panel Globetrotter

Tech

  • DJI Spark Drone
  • Drone controller
  • GoPro Hero 5 and 3-way stick
  • GoPro Accessories
      • 3 extra batteries and charger
      • Clamp mount
      • Surfboard Mount
      • Additional holders
  • Macbook Pro & Charger
  • Hard Drive
  • Battery Pack
  • Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones
  • Travel Power Strip
  • Converter x 2
  • International (unlocked) cell phone
  • Phone charger

 

That’s the complete list of everything I’m bringing with me and honestly, I’m surprised everything fit.  I’m not sure if that’s because of my amazing packing talents or the fact that for a 35L backpack the Alpha has tons of space. 

Either way, fingers crossed for weather that is more favorable for droning than jackets.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold

 

F*ck Happiness – and Other Thoughts on Mindfulness

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Chasing happiness is overrated.

There I said it.

But let’s take a step back.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness.  About life and the emotions which so often control us.  I couldn’t get past how certain emotions are labeled as “good” and others as “bad”.  How if you get upset or jealous you feel ashamed and try to stop the feelings as quickly as possible.  We think we can hide an emotion long enough that it will make it go away. We truly believe that if we don’t admit to feeling something it means we don’t.   

Out of sight out of mind right?

People do their best to hide from bad emotions and only feel the good ones, but that’s not how life works.  We are a constant mix of happiness, anger, anxiety, surprise, and disappointment (amongst other things). It’s vital to not dismiss any of our feelings as unimportant but instead learn to focus our awareness on the present moment.  One of the most important things we can learn in life is to calmly acknowledge (and more importantly), accept our feelings, thoughts, and flaws as part of who we are.

We all need to learn how to sit with our emotions whether they are “good” or “bad” and I’ll be honest, it’s fucking hard sometimes.  But until we accept that all emotions have equal importance in our lives we won’t be able to find peace.

With the rise of social media and the constant bombardment of everyone else’s life highlights it’s hard to imagine other people struggling with “bad” emotions (even though we all do).  We all want to be the person we portray on our Instagram and Snapchat and I’m as guilty as anyone. Who doesn’t want to be the cool, aloof, and carefree person that can just coast by.  We don’t want to bother others and bring them down with our fears, jealousy, or anxiety. But the hard truth is that we can’t put a filter over our life, up the brightness, lower the contrast, and magically make life “better”.  We do our best to fake it, but in the end we feel how we feel and the bravest thing you can be in life is unafraid to feel.   

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I’ll be honest, looking back I got lucky.   Don’t get me wrong, mindfulness is still something I struggle with every day, but traveling alone for three years put me ahead of the average 20 something.  At the time it didn’t feel like luck. It was lonely. It was hard. It forced me to listen to myself about what I feel and why, which is a habit I’ve done my best to keep.  Without having anyone to talk to I was forced to check in with myself far more frequently than at any other point in my life.

Over time, I started to become more and more comfortable with what I was feeling regardless of it was “good’ or ‘bad”.  Emotions, and even events, lost the stigma and simply just were (maybe a tad stoic but its true). I discovered I was okay being angry as long as I then asked myself “why”.   It was okay to be jealous. It was okay to be exhausted from my nomadic life. It was okay to feel whatever I was feeling.

Once I started accepting my own emotions I began to realize how most emotions are temporary. It may sound obvious but in the moment, it was hard to remember that regardless of what I was feeling, it would pass.  The old story goes that King Solomon asked for a magic ring to be made that “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.”  What subscription ended up on the ring?  “And this too shall pass” Ah the power of a good quote.  The goal of the ring was to keep the wearer from ever getting too high or too low and remind him to not overreact based on emotions or what was going on in his life.   

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This understanding is what’s triggered my annoyance and disbelief at all of the people chasing constant happiness.  So many friends, family, books, movies, and social media telling me that as long as I’m happy my life is good and fulfilled.  That being happy is all I need to aspire to in life. But what happens when I’m not happy? Does my life go from being fulfilled when I’m happy to worthless the moment I’m not?  After all, it’s in our nature to eventually become bored with things that once brought us joy.

The issue with trying to be constantly happy?

It’s not possible.  

It’s a fool’s errand which isn’t healthy.   Human beings feel. It’s our greatest strength and our biggest weakness and this belief that we’re supposed to be happy all the time is what’s causing all of us so many issues.  We’re ignoring other parts of who we are and refusing to accept them because they are messy. Because they take work and make us uncomfortable. We’re becoming more anxious, stressed, and broken trying to hold ourselves to some ideal image of what we should be based on what feels good.

I’m not saying to avoid happiness.  

I’m saying to not rely on it; that it shouldn’t be the only thing we’re chasing.

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If I could pick one thing to chase?  

It’s passion.

Passion is what keeps us going even when happiness is gone and things are hard.

Passion is the light we can see through the anger and hurt.

Passion is the driving force that gives us confidence in where we’re going and peace in who we are when everything else is falling apart.

By pursuing passion you get happiness, but more importantly, you get purpose and I can’t think of a better goal than that.

Stay Gold.

 

Finding the One: Who or When?

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Last week, out of nowhere, a friend asked me if I thought “the one” was a who or a when.  I told her I’d give it some thought and get back to her.  Instead of shooting her a text, I decided to make it a blog.

I’ll admit, I’m by no means an expert on love so keep reading at your own risk.  Over the past few years, I’ve spent more time single than not.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone on dates and had flings but nothing I would consider to be “love”.  Traveling made finding a significant connection that I could maintain difficult.

The quote that best describes my love life is: “a pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”  I had no difficulty finding a girl who caught my attention.  It was the stuff that follows the initial attraction that I found difficult.  To be honest, it wasn’t something I was looking for.  

The time I’ve spent single has been valuable.  It’s given me a chance to learn about myself, why I believe what I do, and what I want out of life- both romantically and otherwise.  Not rushing into a relationship allowed me to take a step back.  I was able to see what I value in a significant other and not settle for less.

Even after years of being single, I remain, at my core, a hopeless romantic.  If you talk to my friends they’ll tell you I fall ‘in love’ easily. Every few months there’s a different girl who could be “the one”.  A smile.  An unexpected adventure. An in-depth life chat is all it takes for me.  When I feel that connection my mind starts racing with the potential possibilities.  What can I say, I love love and cheer for a good love story whenever I can.

Though I haven’t found it yet I like to think I’m more ready for it now than I was when I was 22.

Before I explain why here are some ground rules:

  • I’m fully aware that there are hundreds if not thousands of different variables that decide if a relationship is successful (location being another huge one).  It’s not as simple as “who’ or ‘when” but as that was the question I was asked, those are the rules I’m playing by.
  • “Soulmates” and “The One” are different things to me.  I believe soulmates could be friends or lovers who come into your life (and usually leave) but help you grow.  “The One” is the person you voluntarily choose to spend the majority of your life with.
  • I think you can have more than a single “the one” over the course of a lifetime but this is rare.  If your “the one” dies you can find another “the one”. If you get divorced or break up that person was never really  “the one” even if you thought they were.  Believing something doesn’t make it a fact (though some may argue otherwise).
  • If I asked 100 people this question I would get 100 different answers and that’s okay.  It’s still interesting to debate because everyone can relate and there’s no “right” answer.
  • Your personal beliefs on destiny/fate will have a large impact on your opinion on this topic.  For the record, I don’t believe in destiny/fate I believe that where we end up is because of the choices we made in the past.

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Honest answer. I think “the one” is a combination of who and when.  But, that’s cheating.  So if I had to pick, to me, it’s more of a when then the who.

I spent my last two years at Creighton in a relationship with a great girl (she just wasn’t for me).  After I graduated she had another year in Omaha. I decided to defer law school for a year (little did I know it was actually forever) so I thought it made sense to stay in Omaha while she finished school.  I took a job at a trading company in June and by the end of July, we were broken up.

At first, I was devastated.  This was the girl I honestly thought I was going to marry (22-year-old Todd had no real plans of adventure).  All of the sudden, that future was gone.

After I got over the break up I spent the next year angry at myself and full of regret for staying. I had a chance to leave but I didn’t.  I was trapped in a job I hated for no reason other than quitting “looked bad on a resume”.

It was then that I promised myself I would never let another person decide if I stayed or went.  And I would never ask someone to stay and give up what they wanted for me.

In the end, it all worked out.  A few months later I took a job on a cruise ship in Australia and my life trajectory completely shifted.

Over the next 3 years, I had zero interest in finding “the one”. My last relationship ruined any desire I had of wanting a girlfriend and let me be clear I would have been a terrible boyfriend. I saw relationships as a hindrance.  As something that gets in the way as you attempt to pursue your dreams.

During that time, I could have met Emma Watson (the love of my life) and would have told her to fuck off.  I wanted to be selfish.  I wanted to explore the world.  I wanted to go and never look back.

But since returning to the States, finding a great job and a kickass group of friends, I’ve begun to feel differently. Life is good and I’m happy, but I’m not in the same “need to be selfish” mindset I was before.  I’ve explored and grown over the years.  I’m not looking for a relationship, but for the first time in years, I’m open to one.

My friends Zoran and Priya have played a role in my mentality shift.  Yes, I’ve matured since I was 23 (I hope), but watching them over the past three years has been eye-opening.  I’ve been with them at Burning Man and backpacking Southeast Asia. I’ve watched from afar as they went to Yacht Week, Spain, and helped each other through med school and now residency.  They’ve shown me that when you find “the one” it shouldn’t hold you back, quite the opposite.  The right person (at the right time) enhances all the things you love to make them even better.  But they didn’t meet and instantly date.  The timing had to be right for their relationship to become what it did.  Which is why Priya pursued Zoran for months before they got together.

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We meet a handful of people over the course of our lifetime who we truly connect with.  Each of these people could be “the one” we end up with.  However, them being “the one” depends on when we meet them.  At some point, you’ve heard someone say, “It didn’t work out between us because the timing just wasn’t right.”

Timing is everything.

It’s likely that you’re able to recognize how amazing someone else is, or vice versa, but if the timing is off, giving or receiving love will be difficult. It honestly doesn’t matter how compatible two people are. If the time isn’t right in someone’s life, they won’t be able to love completely which makes the relationship doomed from the start.

It’s also why you hear ‘we used to just be friends, but one day it just clicked.’  It wasn’t that the other person changed overnight.  It was the timing and situation shifted and you saw the same person in a new light.

Over the past five years, I’ve met a girl or two with whom I know I could be happy with in the long run if the timing had been right. Each challenged my thinking, loved adventure, was attractive (to me), opened me up to new ideas, and were equally interested in me. But we met at the wrong time (and lived in the wrong places). I wasn’t in a place where I was interested in making it work.  It had nothing to do with them and everything to do with where I was at that point in my life.

Our timing being off doesn’t change the fact that they are special to me.  It doesn’t take away from the feelings we had for each other.  It simply means that in this lifetime, our stars are not aligned.  We will both have to keep waiting for the variables to align to help us find “the one”.

I believe there are multiple “the ones” out there for each person and it is timing that dictates who we end up with.  Not believing that destiny pushing you toward one person

doesn’t make it any less special when you actually find “the one.”  Quite the opposite.  It means that everything had to align just right for the two of you to end up together.

Stay Gold.

 

The Key to Getting What You Want

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The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock.

Life isn’t complicated.  But we wouldn’t be humans if we didn’t make it difficult.  It ends up being difficult because often times, we allow our emotions to control us.  We give in to fear, embarrassment, and jealousy, which cloud our reasoning and yield inaction.  We find it easier to lurk in the shadows and complain than risk being the fool and stepping into the light.

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are useful, but only when we understand how they impact our lives.  It’s our responsibility to harness our emotions (both the good and bad ones) to get what we want out of life.

Those who know me would agree that I tend to get my way.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why. This has led to conversations about assertiveness, manipulation, luck, and even divine providence.

I don’t claim to have any superpowers, but more often than not I find myself in good situations because of great people. Until recently, I had never given it much thought.  Maybe it was naive, but I just thought that was how the world worked.

As I’m apt to do, I started analyzing everything.  I had three recurring beliefs that shaped how I view the world, other people, and has guided me to one simple principle that is the key to getting what I want out of life.

People are generally good.

When you believe the best in people, it’s easy to approach them.  Most people will be helpful when given the opportunity (assuming you’re not being an asshole).  It has been proven to me time and time again over the years.  It’s why I rarely have an issue asking a stranger for help.

You get what you put out.

If you’re an asshole, you’re going to get treated like an asshole (crazy how that works).  People feed off each other. When you’re negative all the time, you’ll get met with negativity.  Being conscious of your attitude will go along way in getting you where you want to go. When people like you, they’re a lot more likely to help when you ask.  As the phrase goes, “Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.”

Take the first step

Most people enjoy doing stuff, but hate getting started.  It’s why the first person to suggest a place to eat usually gets their choice of restaurant.  If you are willing to take the first step, most people appreciate it and will gladly come with. When I shared the itinerary for the trip to SE Asia, I told everyone that they were free to do whatever they wanted but this was my plan.  They ended up following my plan to the T.

But none of the above make a difference if you aren’t willing to

Ask for the thing you want

You have to get over being afraid to hear the word “no.”  You have to get over feeling ashamed or embarrassed.   Don’t feel self-conscious because you’re voicing what you want.  The people who never ask will never get their way.  It may sound unfair, but no one can read minds, so life tends to reward the people who say want they want.  

Last year I was out in California visiting a client with my boss, Adam, and coworker, Drew.  We spent the day at the client’s office reviewing their website, discussing SEO strategies and ways to increase sales.  At the end of the day, they presented us with three identical green backpacks.  I had spent six hours looking at their website and had seen they also had a grey backpack (which I liked more based on the photos).  Before leaving I asked Kaitlyn if I could swap the green backpack out for the grey one.

She said, “not a problem, I just have to go and grab it.”  She returned five minutes later with the grey backpack.  Turns out it was bigger, nicer, and honestly a better product.  The rest of the trip Drew and Adam laughed at me because I couldn’t accept the free backpack I was given.   Two years later, we all still use our backpacks, and I’m the one laughing because my backpack is better.

I give 0 fucks about how asking a question is going to make me look.  It’s how you learn.  It’s how you take steps toward what you want.  How was Kaitlyn to know I preferred the grey backpack if I didn’t tell her?  What’s the worst that could happen?  She might say no?  Which means, I’d be in the exact same spot I was before.  What did I have to lose?

At the end of the day, it’s better to ask twice than lose your way once.   This mindset has gotten me to where I am today. When you want something and are willing to make other people aware of it, the universe finds a way to help you achieve it.  

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I have a friend who hasn’t been loving his job the past few months.  The other day, I was speaking with him on the phone and he made the comment, “They’re never going to let me paint.  I think if I could paint I’d like the job more.”  So I responded, “Have you asked? Do they know you want to learn to paint?”  He said, “Well, no.”  

How would his company know he wants to learn to paint if he’s never told them?  I told him if it’s something he wants to do he needs to tell his manager.  He needs to take some kind of action or else he has no right to complain.   He spoke with his manager the next day.  Two weeks later, he was painting.

My friend’s situation isn’t unique to just him.  Learning to ask is a skill that has taken me years to develop, and even now I sometimes mess up.  When I graduated from Creighton, I told myself I was going to get my first job on my own.  I wasn’t going to ask anyone for help.  I didn’t need to.  I was proud and had a chip on my shoulder.  

I was an idiot.

Because of my unwillingness to tell people what I wanted and ask people (who had connections) for help, I ended up at a job I hated for over a year.  I thought things would just happen for me. I didn’t yet realize that I had to make things happen for myself, and oftentimes means asking for the thing you want.

Regardless of what some people may believe, in life, you’re going to need help to get where you want to go.  

Two things to keep in mind.   People won’t help you if you’re an asshole, and people can’t help you if you haven’t communicated what it is you want.

If I could give one piece of life advice, it’s this: Don’t be afraid to tell the world what you want.  Don’t let the worry of someone saying “no” keep you from asking.  Understand the only shame is in never making the attempt.

When you understand that, magic happens, and before you know it you’re on your way.

Stay Gold.

These Must be the Places: 2018 Edition

 

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It took less than four weeks to schedule out all the vacation time I have for the year.  In reality, it took less than four days, but I am who I am.

People accuse me of not having a “real job” or that I have unlimited vacation time.  I don’t. I’m lucky enough to work at a place that sees me as more than a number.  We’re a small company which means everyone knows traveling is one of my biggest passions. It is something I will always make a priority.  And if push came to shove something I will always choose.

Knowing this, they not only tolerate my vagabond side they embrace my free spirit.  Adam (my boss) gets as excited as I do for my trips.  He’s always telling clients about my next trip. He knows that allowing me to take a few trips a year allows me to focus on the company the rest of the year.

With that in mind the more notice I can give Lifted Logic, the better.  Which is why after I got back from Costa Rica I started thinking about the year ahead.

I considered quite a few places to check out in 2018.  I knew instead of doing one 35 day trip (like Asia last year) and one 10 day trip (Costa Rica) I was going to do 3 or 4 shorter trips. I daydreamed about places like Chile, South Africa, Iceland, Guatemala, New Zealand, Egypt, Japan, Ecuador, Lebanon, South of France, and Morocco.

All appealed to me for different reasons.  Some for the scenery, some for the culture, and some because I had a free couch I knew I could crash on.  Full disclosure, I’ve never needed much of a reason to go somewhere. Once, I ended up in Santa Barbara because a girl I met in line for the bus at a music festival told me I could crash on her couch if I was “ever in the area”.  Be careful what you say to me, I may take you up on the invitation (thanks, Emma <3).

It’s no surprise I like to go to places a little off the beaten path.  I like the look on someone’s face when they ask “why would you ever go there?” Based on past experiences, I know that those places are usually the ones that stay with you.  They’re different.  They challenge you.  They help you realize there’s no right way to live and that’s something I am always pursuing when I travel.

I enjoy solo travel as much as traveling in a group (maybe more so).  I enjoy each for different reasons so, as odd as it may sound to some, that never factored into my decision.  If I want to go somewhere I’ll go; whether it’s just me or nine of my closest friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about my 2018 trips, but picking these destinations reminds me how many other places I want to go and I’ll have to wait.  Regardless of what anyone says, FOMO is real.  Choosing one thing always means missing out on another.

Below are the places I’ll be visiting, the dates, who’s coming with, and why it made my 2018 list.

Portugal

Lisbon

Location: Lisbon
Date: June 21-June 25th
Crew: Me, KB, Haider, Pat, Steph, Zoja, Scott, Jessica

The Reason:

Because I saw an opportunity.

Originally I was flying from the States to London and meeting up with my friend Seif before heading to Russia for the World Cup.  We moved the dates of our trip back a week. This meant Seif was going to miss Russia v Egypt game in Saint Petersburg (Seif is from Egypt originally so this is a big deal).  In classic Seif fashion, he told me he wasn’t missing the game and was going to Russia early, I could meet him there.

I wasn’t heartbroken at not having to spend time in London.  Honestly, not one of my favorite places.  I started researching flights to Russia.  I had to have a layover somewhere in Europe.  So like all good travelers, I started asking myself where do I want to go for a weekend that is (kind of) on the way.

It wasn’t a hard choice.

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If I can surf, I’m there…

Lisbon has been a city on my “short” list for a few years now.  I didn’t get a chance to go when I backpacked Europe in 2014 and haven’t had a chance to since.  I’ve heard amazing things from each of my friends that have gone. I constantly hear: the food is incredible, it’s cheap, drugs are decriminalized, it has the art, architecture, and culture I love, rooftop bars, and last but not least, it has surfing.

I didn’t have to try too hard to convince KB that Lisbon should be our first stop.  I reached out to a few friends that live in Europe and now we’re planning to meet up for a weekend.  We’ll only be there for three days but that’s plenty of time to enjoy Lisbon and catch up with some old friends.

In the words of Seif, all you have to do to enjoy Lisbon is ‘follow gravity’.

Russia World Cup 2018

Moscow

Locations: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Other Russian locations TBD
Date: June 25th to July 8th
Confirmed Crew: Me, Seif, KB, Sims

The Reason:

Because why the fuck not.

This is the major trip of 2018 and I can’t tell you how or why it’s happening.  The World Cup has been on my bucket list since I wrote it years ago.  But it’s also true that I don’t love soccer (not a top 3 sport for me). I was in Europe during the 2014 World Cup and the atmosphere was truly amazing.  The games were being played in Brazil, but the environment is something that stayed with me.  I promised myself then that if I ever got the opportunity I would attend a World Cup match.

Seif and I were discussing a South Africa/Egypt trip when out of nowhere he asked if I’d be down to go to Russia for the World Cup. The World Cup was something we both wanted to do and agreed there was no way we were going to Qatar in 2022.  So it was Russia or wait a decade.  Waiting is not something I’m good at.

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Seif and I on one of adventures

One of my many flaws is that I don’t say no to much and a few days later I was putting in the vacation request.  The next thing I know, in typical Todd fashion, I’m inviting people on the trip with me (not really thinking anyone would come).

Kelly Blake (KB) who’s never been out of the country claimed a spot in the group.   The final spot in our foursome is going to my friend Sims who is the only real soccer fan in our group.

I’m excited to cross a big item off my bucket list, make more memories with Seif, show KB the world, and see if Sims can pull off furs in July.

Burning Man

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Location: Black Rock City, NV
Date: Aug 26, 2018 – Sep 3, 2018
Confirmed Crew: Me, Zoran, Priya, Seif, Shreya, Neil, Aubrey, (to name a few)

The Reason:

Because once wasn’t enough.

As amazing as Burning Man was in 2016 I could have done it better.  Not that there is a “right” way to do Burning Man, but the first time you go it’s overwhelming.  There is so much going on all the time.   It’s a sensory overload of sorts.  No amount of reading or watching videos can prepare you for it.  It’s not like other festivals (it’s not even a festival).  There is no start time or an end time.  There aren’t organized activities.  There are no rules. It takes 4 or 5 days to adjust to the level of freedom you have.  By the time I started feeling comfortable it was almost over.

The biggest lesson I’ll be bringing back with me in 2018 is to be present and enjoy what’s in front of me (This must be the place).  If you find something once odds are you won’t find it again. I spent too much time in 2016 looking for things and people I’d found the day before instead of exploring and finding new stuff.

I know this year I’ll have a better idea of how to prepare, what to expect, and how to let go.

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Ready for round 2…

More importantly, it’s the only full week that both Zoran and Priya have vacation at the same time in 2018.  (It’s tough being a resident pursuing the admirable career of doctoring)

Simply put, if Dr. Zoran is going, I’m going.

After all, we made a promise after we went in 2016 that we would take a year off and return in 2018. A promise is a promise.

Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Date: October 4th to 15th
Location: Athens, Santorini, Other Greek Islands TBD
Crew: Me and Sandi Clause

The Reason:

Because my mom deserves to see the world (and has an exceptional memory)

When I told my mom I was taking a month off to go to Asia in 2017 she asked if she could come.  I told her “Not a chance.”  She looked at me with that sad, offended, make you feel terrible look that I believe all mothers have mastered.  I explained to her that backpacking Southeast Asia for a month was not her type of trip.

Sandi has never been out of the country. Maybe I’m a bad son, but I didn’t think a trip involving $7 hostels, overnight trains, and unlimited rice wine was the best first trip for her to take in her 50s.

 

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Look out Greece here we come

 

I flippantly told her we could do Italy or Greece in 2018. It was mostly so she’d stop looking at me with those sad eyes.  I started planning the Asia trip short after and completely forgot about the promise I’d made.

A few weeks later (yes this was in 2016) she started sending me stuff for Greece. At first, I was confused.  Then I remembered and realized it was really happening.  No backing out.

I haven’t started to plan it yet, but I booked our tickets to Athens so it’s a thing.  It’s cool to see my mom this excited about something. She’s already asking me which suitcase she should bring and if she should get a new camera.  I make jokes about it, but bringing people along on my trips is one of the things I enjoy most. The desire to share the experience is one of the reasons I write as well.  Making memories with a person you care about and seeing it impact their life never gets old.  You get to see them outside of their comfort zone and exploring the world for the first time.  Seeing the other side of the world through the eyes of someone you love is something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once.

Portugal. Russia. The World Cup. Burning Man. Greece.

With 2018 destinations set it’s time to start planning…for 2019.

Where will you be going this year?

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

 

What it Costs: 11 Days in Costa Rica

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Now that my Costa Rica trip has come and passed I wanted to write my “What it Cost” recap blog.  I started doing the financial rundown of my trips after I spent a month in Southeast Asia last year and followed it up with What it Costs to go Backcountry Camping in the Grand Tetons.

The main reason I started to do my “What it Costs” blogs were to show people what an adventure really costs.  The biggest reason why people tell me they can’t travel is because they “can’t afford it”.  I hope that after each one of these blogs you realize that traveling isn’t that expensive (cheapest it’s ever been really) and if you really want to do it you can.  

I’ve written about life priorities before and how it’s important to decide yours.  Is eating out more important than my next trip to Russia?  Not for me.  Is another night at the bars or a random purchase on Amazon better than saving up for a house?  Again no.  

At the end of the day it’s all about what you value.  The old phrase “every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” is 100% true.  Instead of saying you can’t afford something, say it’s not a priority and see how that sits with you. Being honest with ourselves is the only way to achieve what we really want.

 

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Below you’ll find a line by line list of what I spent on my 11 day trip in Costa Rica last month.  

But first, a few notes:

  1. Cheaper flights were available, however, I was very particular about the days and times I wanted to fly.  I didn’t want to leave at 8 pm on Thursday (getting to San Jose at 4 am) and I didn’t want to leave San Jose at 7 am (basically taking away my Saturday night).  If you don’t care about flight times you can get a round-trip flight for closer to $400.
  2. When you travel alone things tend to be more expensive.  I didn’t have anyone to split the price of the rental car or gas with.  But for this trip, I was completely okay with that.  This trip was more about exploring the world on my own and it was worth every additional penny.
  3. I brought a few things with me: a handle of Seagrams, spray sunscreen, and bug spray just to name a few to save money as I heard from Jordan that they were more expensive there.
  4. Costa Rica isn’t cheap, especially for Central America.  Guatemala and Honduras are cheap.  Costa Rica is a fairly well developed from a tourism standpoint.  If Guatemala is Vietnam than Costa Rica is Thailand.   I would even compare it to Kansas City, in most places you’re paying $4 to $6 for a drink and $12 to $15 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant.  They’re not exactly giving stuff away.
  5. I didn’t party much on this trip.  Honestly, I didn’t have the urge to.  Each day was filled with activities that by the time 10 pm hit I was ready for bed.
  6. Costa Rica is incredible, but part of me (and I don’t care if this makes me sound like a travel snob) hates places where I can use English all the time and have the option to pay for everything in dollars.  I feel cheated out of experiencing their culture and challenge of being uncomfortable figuring it out as I go.

 

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Pre-Departure Purchases:

Flight:

Kansas City to San Jose Flight- $649
$25 checked bag (One way) x 2= $50

Rental Car (11 Days):
Alamo 4 wheel drive SUV Rental car & insurance: $279 – $50 (talked myself into a discount)  =$229

Total: $928

San Jose to Jaco:

2.10 chips in airport
$20 for local SIM card
$4 In tolls to Jaco

Total: $26.19

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Jaco- 3 Nights:

$43.26- Room2Board hostel 3 nights
$30 surf lesson and board for the day
$10 surfboard day rental
$6.50 hostel breakfast
$8 guac/lunch
$8 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco
$6 Breakfast at hostel- surfer wrap
$6 2 imperial beers
$14 on 2 whisky waters
$10 Drinks at bar
$6.50 breakfast at hostel
$10 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco

Jaco Total:  $158.26

Jaco to Pavones:

$12 lunch at Flutter by house room
$22.83 gas driving to Pavones in the Osa Peninsula

Total: $34.83

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Pavones- 2 nights

$45 Surf House Pavones –  2 nights and Surfboard rental
$8 Dinner in Pavona
$6 snacks in Pavona

Pavones Total: $59

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Dominical- 1 Night

$8 Lunch (pasta and nacho)
$18 Cool Vibes hostel *private room split with Jay 36 total
$10 Surfboard rental
$10 Snacks. Pineapple, munchies, nuts,  ice cream
$3 Beer at Cafe Mono Congo

Dominical Total: $49

Dominical to La Fortuna

$8 burrito Jaco taco  (coming back from Osa)
$26 gas

Total: $34

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Arenal/La Fortuna – 4 Nights

$43 Arenal Backpackers Resort
$85 Whitewater rafting the Pacuare River (top 5 in the world)
$25 Rafting CD of photos
$8 Nachos for dinner at hostel
$16 Las Brasitas dinner
$6 Breakfast at hostel
$12 Parque National Park entry
$38 Entry to Hanging Bridges National Park with Tour Guide
$15 La Ventanita (Best Burrito of my life)
$68 Souvenirs
$28 Bottle of Whiskey

Arenal Total: $344

La Fortuna to San Jose

$28 gas

Total: $28

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Return Trip

$30 Corona House in Miami dinner ($30 credit from Chase Card Priority Pass perk)
$5 wifi airplane
$2 lunch at airport

Total: $7

Trip Total: $1,668.28

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Before I started planning the trip I was estimating around $1,500 total.  All in all, I’m not mad about spending a little less than $200 more.  I didn’t count pennies at all on this trip.  I ate less street food and at more restaurants.  I explored national parks, went white water rafting, and drove over 1100 km up and down Costa Rica.  I had total freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I could have spent more or I could have spent less, but in the end, I had an amazing trip that will stay with me for years to come and there’s no real price tag on that.

 

Stay Gold.