A Love Letter to My Backpack

Dear Backpack,

I just left you and I miss you.  I dropped you, empty, on the floor, surrounded by what was once inside you: clothes, shoes, plane tickets and restaurant receipts.  I hope you’re not lonely.

I hate to see you empty and deflated in the corner of my room, sometimes doubling as a laundry hamper.  I don’t think that was what you had in mind when I bought you.  When I went to the store three times before choosing you.  You, bright blue, calling to me from across the room.  I looked at a few other packs for show but I knew you were the one.

I think you’re the most yourself when you’re full.  When you’re on my back, in transit.  When I can pack each of your compartments with special items – toothbrush here, electronics in this pocket, passport here.

I think you like to hurt me, hurt my shoulders, pain my back, and even clip parts of my skin when I’m not careful.  But that’s okay, I’m a little rough with you too.  I know I stretch you too thin, pack you too tight, and throw you around as if you don’t matter.

But know that you matter.  Know that you’re keeping me together on long journeys and short, from Morocco to Bulgaria to Greece and our upcoming adventure in Asia.  I’m counting on you to be strong and hold on because I don’t know how I’ll make this trip without you.  You hold everything that matters to me and I can’t and won’t let you leave my side.  See you soon.

Love,

Casey




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Questions to Ask Your Traveling Friend

I am fortunate/lucky/brave/bold/wild/crazy enough to have been working remotely and traveling for over three months now.  That in and of itself is a mouthful.  I make things happen to make this work for me every day.  Every day I’m working.

I am blessed with countless friends and family following me along for the ride, and even visiting (Dad’s coming next month!!!).  I’m blogging and sharing on Facebook and posting pictures on Instagram and writing emails and sending texts and enjoying FaceTime phone calls.  As I hit Stop #4 and passed my 100th day of traveling with Remote Year, I realized I still have so much more to say.

I notice sometimes that the conversation with a loved one back home can grind to a halt.  I haven’t seen you face-to-face in months, and our catch-ups may not be very lengthy or deep.  Maybe I’ll tell you about my most recent weekend but we haven’t chatted in six weeks.  Maybe you tell me about your day, but that’s it.  How do you connect on a deeper level?  How do I share the craziness of travel without completely dominating the conversation?  How do I explain what an AMAZING time I’m having without making your life seem dull or ordinary (because I never think that!  Travelers crave routine and home comforts too!).  How do I get you to open up and share with me?

I struggled myself when talking to friends who took side trips to other countries.  How was Stockholm?  It was great!  …… Cool!  …….. Now what do I say?

I started to form a list of questions to help myself and hopefully help all of you who know someone who travels.  It could be a weeklong vacation, or a semester abroad in college, or a permanent life of travel: everyone wants to share.  Here’s what to ask.

  • What was the best food you ate in THIS CITY?
  • What was your favorite moment this week?
  • Tell me about where you stayed.  In a hotel?  Apartment?  With a friend?  Did you like it?
  • Does THIS CITY have a signature drink or food item?  Tell me about it!
  • Tell me one thing that you did and don’t regret.
  • Tell me about the local culture in THIS COUNTRY.  How is it different from back home?
  • What’s the weather like?  Did you pack appropriately?
  • Did you feel like a local or like a tourist while traveling?  Why?
  • Could you ever live there for a long period of time?  Why or why not?
  • Tell me about a time you found peace and quiet.  Where was that?
  • What moment made you feel the most alive?
  • What moment made you wish you were back home?
  • Have you connected with any locals or expats?  Who?
  • Do you recommend me putting that on my bucket list?
  • Do you have pictures you could send me?

 

 

 

I Like to Like Things

Last month I told a fellow Remote Year colleague how excited I was about traveling to Sofia, Bulgaria.  She asked Why did I feel that way?  Any particular reason?

My response?  “I have no idea.  But why the heck wouldn’t I like it?!”

I don’t need to have a reason to like something — sometimes I just assume I will.  My positive disposition takes over – us Carr-Joneses ‘like to like things,’ as my sister Tori put it.

I wrote a blog post before I left for this trip about how I may not tell you about all the sad and sucky parts of this journey.  Partly because those don’t make for good storytelling and partly because I don’t dwell on that stuff, I move forward.  This gets a lot of crap on other blogs – tell it how it is, be raw, be real bullshit.  I am being real.  I haven’t had any freakouts yet.  I’m not homesick (what is home to me anyway?).  I miss my friends and family sometimes but am staying fairly connected via video chats and email.  I don’t get overwhelmed by their absence because I made a decision before I left: I will miss birthdays and weddings and holidays and babies.  I will deal with it, because the tradeoff is moving to a new country every month.   Which is, by the way, freaking incredible.

 

You might be asking yourself, Why is Casey so gosh-darn happy in her blogs?  It can’t be reality.

It is reality – for me.  Not for everyone here, but for me, I am loving it.   This can get me in trouble if I try to force people to feel the same way (working on this one).

 

I’m happy with the big events and I’m happy with the day-to-day routine —- the otherwise normal mediocrity except for the fact that I’m doing all of these things in a new, exciting place.  I spent this past weekend doing work and laundry and buying groceries and shopping for a new white shirt (red wine be damned) and getting an iced cappuccino from Dunkin Donuts and none of that is remarkable except I did it all in Sofia, Bulgaria and I HAVEN’T HAD DUNKIN IN THREE MONTHS AND IT WAS HEAVEN.  And I’m not trying to write a blog about my boring commonplace weekend (except I just did?).

 

I like to like things.  I seek them out.  I go into adventures thinking I already like what I’m about to do.  No, I’ve never done a yoga retreat in Bulgaria BUT I’M SURE I WILL LOVE IT.  Thailand sounds great, I SHOULD GO THERE.  Do I like hiking?  SURE!  LET’S GIVE IT A GO! Do I want to go on a pub crawl?  Well that one should be obvious.

I liked Morocco, and it’s okay to like a place and still be happy to leave it.  I may have not liked getting a bit sick from the water, and maybe it was dirty and hot sometimes and maybe we ate the same food over and over but I still liked it.  I liked my apartment and I liked our coworking space and I liked the medina and the argan oil and the fresh fruit and I liked how much my group bonded by adjusting to a totally new culture.  And I really like Sofia!  In a completely different way.

This particular stop on our itinerary was a dark horse.  It was a place I would never have visited had I not joined Remote Year.  I had no clue what to expect, and as per usual I did a minimal amount of research before arriving.  So I leave the airport and drop my bags in my apartment and start to walk.  As we wander around town to get our bearings and enjoy our first traditional Bulgarian meal, the golden light hit the green and gold domes on the Nevsky cathedral and WHAM – my original theory  “I will like Sofia” came to be.  It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy but I’ll take it either way.

I like to like things.  And I especially like to like things that involve a nice Bulgarian beer.