Elizabeth the Island Enthusiast

a celebration of unconventional adventures

Category: Miscellaneous

Back.

Well, it’s been a little over 6 months since I last posted, and a little over 4 weeks since I returned to the states after a remarkable year abroad.

I used to think long-term travel was just something I needed to ‘get out of my system,’ or I would somehow feel content with carrying on with normality after finally doing so.

The biggest thing I’ve learned? None of that is the case.

All I’ve been able to think about since returning (with the exception of the solid 2 weeks I spent sleeping off jetlag and fatigue) is when can I do it again


I feel no obligation to offer any sort of explanation as to why I’ve neglected posting for so long, other than this: life happens, and sometimes you just need to live. And nothing else.

There are so many stories I want to tell. I’m in the process of pondering the best possible method to share these stories with the world, and when I do, it’ll be my greatest accomplishment thus far.

Following my dreams is significantly harder than I could have ever imagined, but when I think of the alternative, I’m glad I took a chance to break free a year ago. Things are far from perfect, but at least I feel confident I’m on the right path.

One of the many glorious sunsets I witnessed while in Sydney, Australia

Although I’m not currently traipsing about internationally, much to my chagrin, I’m going to finally start posting about the destinations I visited since Thailand, which include places in every continent except Antarctica and South America.

I can’t wait to share my adventures with you. Get excited.

Thoughts from Koh Phangan

As I sit here on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand in my bikini at the water’s edge, staring out into the blazing sunset on the horizon, I can’t help but think… damn I’m lucky.

Favorite activities these days include wandering up and down the beach with my headphones on listening to Panic! At the Disco albums on repeat and watching local fishing boats drift by. I’ve given up on wearing shoes (I’m probably going to take them off anyway!). My tan lines are absolutely phenomenal.

Just a month ago I would have never imagined being in the position I’m in now; this bewildering, beautiful, blissful, miserable, chaotic, confusing position.

Even despite the amazing view, and even despite the incessant bug bites, I’ve never been so happy and so distressed at the same time in my life.

I have so much to be thankful for – here I am on a gorgeous tropical island right now, enjoying the warm, salty sea breeze in my hair and the sun on my skin, accompanied by the soothing sound of waves and rustling palm fronds. I have nothing to complain about.

Yet, how do I cope with this underlying longing sensation of just wanting to be wanted? I can choose to go anywhere in the world – but I’m not sure how to decide. It’s an incredibly awkward feeling being infatuated with a situation I have zero control over. I can’t get myself to cry because it all makes me too happy, but if I let elation consume me it’s quickly overcome by an aching sickness I can’t begin to describe.

Recent weeks included some of the best emotions I’ve ever experienced, as well as some of the most bizarre. Certain moments replay over and over in my mind, seeming more dreamlike than real.

KohPhanganPalmKohPhanganBeach

I’ve particularly struggled with writing lately because I feel like so many other blogs out there focus on advice or various wise practicalities I’m too stubborn to try, because, well, being conventionally realistic and practical never got me anywhere. And if so, I can’t explain how.

I have no advice to give. If I wrote post after post about what my travels have really been like, methodically outlining my journey step-by-step, most people would cringe.

Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything (with the exception of some weird Couchsurfing experiences in Australia, but that’s a much different topic).

Hell, I’m living my freaking dream. I’ve never felt more alive. I don’t know if I’ve ever found myself more positively distracted by something in this way, and I only wish I could completely give into this feeling. There are far too many unknowns – the only thing I can do is choose to trust this won’t fade away.

What can I say?

It’s out of my hands now.

KohPhanganSunset

10 ‘Truly Essential’ Travel Essentials

I’ve been adrift almost 3 solid months now (WEIRD!), and at this point I’m starting to realize what ‘travel essentials’ are actually, well, essential.

Not long ago I wrote a somewhat sarcastic post about some of my lesser-practical ‘essential’ items (including but not limited to my large TempurPedic pillow and constantly-exploding oversized jugs of Aveda shampoo) I’m happily dragging along with me.

While yes, that pillow has caused me a few issues in terms of my luggage weight and the shampoo bottles keep exploding in flight, arguably I *could* do without them (granted the one night I decided to try a hotel pillow I awoke the next day with awful neck cramps… I digress).

Here are ten things I’ve personally found truly essential, and probably won’t travel without again:

FLIGHT0014-in-1Adapter

1. FLIGHT 001 4-in-1 Adapter. This little device is fabulous – it’s small, portable, and color-coded to make it simple for easily confused people (like me) to figure out what power adapter is required for what region. So far, this adapter has worked brilliantly with everything I’ve needed to charge – I also have a slightly more cumbersome adapter that doubles as a power converter, but really haven’t needed the conversion function.

ApricotArganOils

2. Apricot and Argan Oils. I know these aren’t at all necessary for everyone, but as someone who often deals with very dry skin and hair, I’m VERY happy to have these with me!

CoconutTonerFaceSpray

3. Coconut Water Face Spray. Works great as a toner; works great if my face feels parched and merely needs a hydrating ‘pick-me-up’. Again, not necessary for everyone, but I certainly appreciate it!

CetaphilGentleSkinCleansingWipes

4. Facial Cleansing Wipes. I enjoy having a clean face (don’t we all), and there are plenty of occasions I don’t have time to properly wash my face (such as when I’m running out the door at 4:00 am to catch an early-morning flight). Cetaphil is the only brand I’ve found that makes facial cleansing wipes that actually make my face feel genuinely clean and refreshed… Still prefer a good wash with my Clarisonic facial brush, but that can be difficult in a hurry!

AustraliaMacadamiaOilCream

5. Macadamia Oil Cream. To be honest, I just found this macadamia cream on sale in the check-out line at a Target store while trying to find some new lotion on my first day back in Australia, but I LOVE IT! Smells awesome, makes my skin incredibly soft, and the tub-like container conveniently doesn’t explode in my checked suitcase…

NewMalaysiaGlasses

6. ALL Doctor Prescription Notes of Every Kind. This one is probably obvious, but I keep the original doctors’ notes and all documentation for every single medical prescription on me at ALL times, including optical prescriptions…

This was particularly handy when I decided to buy a new pair of eyeglasses my first day in Malaysia (to finally replace my old pair that’d been very broken for over a year…). I didn’t even have to bother with an eye exam – I had all the documents they needed regarding my vision on me, so my new glasses were ready within 20 minutes after purchasing the frames (and for the record, the price of my new frames PLUS the lenses cost less in Malaysia than the lousy rebate from my old vision insurance company, not to mention a fraction of the total cost back home… and in my opinion, the product I got here is significantly better quality)!

HeadphonesAndMiniSpeaker

7. Wireless Headphones. Seriously, the wireless part is awesome… Nobody likes getting tangled up in cords and wires, especially when long hair is involved. But, when these headphones do inevitably run out of batteries, they come with a regular connecter cord (or whatever the proper name of that thing is…). Plus, the rose gold hue matches half my stuff!

8. Mini Portable Speaker. Again, the wireless part is awesome, but the sound quality on this one is surprisingly good too… I always love being able to play the music of my choice out loud in my hotel room (or wherever I’m staying), and this little mini blue speaker is small enough I can take it anywhere!

RollsRoyceOfEyeMasks

9. The ‘Rolls Royce’ of Eye Masks. I bought mine a few years ago at the airport right before a long-haul flight to Scandinavia, and it basically feels like a wonderful PILLOW on my face… All I remember is choosing to invest in the slightly nicer eye mask (versus one of those standard, er, flat ones) and I’m so glad I did – it blocks out virtually all light, meaning I can have sleep-worthy darkness no matter the time of day, and create a sense of privacy no matter the sleeping circumstance! To me, that’s priceless.

10. Multiple Notebooks, Journals, & Planners. Considering I’m a writer, this is hopefully self-explanatory… I take tons of notes on my iPhone too, but honestly it’s so much nicer being able to physically write down my random thoughts and ideas, as opposed to thumbing away on my partially-cracked touch screen while fighting an endless, infuriating silent battle with auto-correct…

Additionally, I’ve gotten in the habit of documenting my travel itinerary plans in numerous locations and forms – let’s just say it pays off to have hand-written hotel addresses and directions when the airport doesn’t have free wifi to access all the necessary info in my gmail account!

LillyPulitzerNotebookAndPlanner

Down Under & Out of Commission

Hello all – apologies on the lack of activity on here in the past week. Just as I started to overcome my culture shock from arriving in Australia a little over a week ago, I came down with a NASTY case of strep throat that essentially rendered me bedridden the past 6 days. If it didn’t feel so lame, I’d probably still be in bed right now (I’m not in Australia to lie around in bed all day, after all!).

Because my head was throbbing incessantly (not to mention a variety of other unpleasant physical problems), I let myself take a week off from writing and staring at a screen for extended periods at a time.

That didn’t stop me from writing something though…

I’ve found terrible, terrible moments and/or illnesses often inspire some pretty good bad poetry (the only kind of poetry I excel at).

So, I present to you…

STREP THROAT REALNESS:

Pain
Oh, the pain
So severe
My lymph nodes
Can be seen quite clear
Oh, so much pain in my throat
I’m really not one to gloat
But my tonsils appear exemplary
Compared to WebMD’s symptom image dictionary
Damn you, streptococcal
You make it impossible to swallow more than a spoon-full
I could go on and on in prose
About the fluids spilling from my nose
Caused by the dis-functioning in my mouth
Let’s just say I’ve been drooling more, since heading south
When will I recover?
Not for 6-10 days, I gather
Fingers crossed the fever’s gone
I don’t like tossing and turning until the break of dawn
The worst part of having strep throat yet?
It’s just so inconvenient…

BrisbaneTea

Earl Grey Tea – my best friend for the past week

I’ll save the other really good bad poem I wrote a few years ago entitled “My Hangover” for another occasion…