12 months. $25,000. One journey.
Under a 3 minute read, these brief anecdotes land in your inbox every evening for the duration of the 365 day adventure, allowing you to accompany one expedition from beginning to end – right from your armchair. The subject matter is drawn from events transpiring earlier in the day, providing you with real-time updates from the road.
Think unscripted travel-themed reality show. Just, you know, minus the whole TV-screen thing and with one or two fewer love triangles.
You can get the full lowdown here.
Day 95: Dispatched From Guayaquil, An Unexpected Delight
“What is there to do in Guayaquil?”
Just don’t go.
“Ok, say I did go, what is there to do?”
Nothing. Don’t go.
“Let me put this another way, I have a flight booked and am 100 percent going to Guayaquil so what is there to do?”
Sorry, all I can tell you is no, don’t go.
This is how every conversation with every Ecuadorian I met in Quito went when I told them I was going to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city… READ MORE
Days 86 – 94: Dispatched With An Email Tech Glitch
I’ll be honest, I have no idea who is reading this right now (if anyone at all).
The universe has it out for me. (ok so actually the universe has been pretty kind to me – it may just be technology that has it out for me. A month after my robbery I have yet to be able to replace my cell phone!). After my last post, I’ve been sending out the regular dispatches as promised.
Only apparently no one has been receiving them… READ MORE
Days 83 – 85: Dispatched With a Bunch of Things To Do in Quito
They say never bring attention to something you don’t want attention brought to. Even if you think it’s something everyone has already noticed (which they may not of) and you feel the need to address it.
That’s how I feel about the not-so-daily daily dispatch emails I’ve sent (and not sent) over the past 2 weeks… READ MORE
Days 77 – 82: Dispatched From a Secret (and Illegal) Ecuadorian Party
Everyone loves the romantic notion of a speakeasy.
It evokes nostalgia for a time when everything was word of mouth and low-lit dens of debauchery buzzed with life behind their nondescript doors. There’s an allure to the mysteriousness of it all; one cities the world over continue to chase in a bid to bring the feeling of a bygone era to the modern world…READ MORE
Days 75 & 76: Dispatched While Bartering and Trading Animals
I went back in time Saturday morning. A time before currency, where the only way to “purchase” new goods was through the art of trade.
Two hours outside Quito is the town of Otavalo. Hedged in by the Andean peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi, and Mojanda, the rich volcanic soil has, for generations, lain ripe for farming. Agriculture remains a key economic industry for the Otavalenos – the pre-Inca tribe of indigenous people who reside in this Northern province of Ecuador… READ MORE
Day 74: Dispatched With My Best Advice For Booking Cheap Flights
There are a lot of myths when it comes to finding cheap flights online. Most aren’t proven fact or fiction, making the art of the online flight deal an inexact science.
As I’m struggling with whether or not to pull the trigger on a couple flights for the next leg of the Travel Dispatch journey, I thought it time I share with you my favorite methods for digging out cheap flights deals… READ MORE
Day 73: Dispatched With a Lesson in Ecuadorian Currency
Don’t let the title put you off. Beneath its snooze-fest demeanor is a Cinderella story.
Or (for my male demographic) a modern-day Robin Hood adventure complete with villains, heroes, and heroes-turned-villains.
The Ecuadorian currency is the US dollar; a fact I considered curious but not curious enough to warrant a Google Search as to why. Let’s just say finance isn’t my thing. Mainly because I’ve never had any.
For three months in 1999 neither did Ecuador… READ MORE
Day 72: Dispatched While Drinking at Church
Don’t worry guys, God’s cool with it.
Him and I struck a little deal after our misunderstanding on Tuesday.
You see, I was stuck on how to write an in-depth piece on the importance of having travel insurance. I didn’t know how to tie in my signature personal spin on the article because while I did indeed have an insurance policy, I’d never actually had to use it. So I asked him for a little divine inspiration, thinking he’d send one of his muses to whisper new story angles into my ear.
Instead He sent two guys to mug me… READ MORE
Days 69 – 71: Dispatched After Getting Robbed
I guess that means I’m a real travel writer now.
I mean isn’t it some unwritten law that you have to have at least one robbery victimization incident under your belt to reach true travel writer status?
Day 68: Dispatched to Say “OMG I Forgot to Tell You This!!!!”
Ok so I’m human and completely fallible.
I’m also a total Type-B who struggles with predominantly inattentive type ADHD so it’s no wonder I forgot to tell you what I originally planned on telling you back on Jan 15th. I mean I even had it written down on my to-do list… READ MORE
Days 66 & 67: Dispatched After Getting a Job in Quito
Actually I’m not getting paid cash money so job may be the wrong term.
Work exchange maybe? Ok, yes, that sounds better. Yesterday I accepted a work exchange in Quito, Ecuador… READ MORE
Day 65: Dispatched From the Top of Quito
As tourists we like to go high.
Think about it, what’s the first thing we do in any new city? We go up something. In New York it’s the Empire State Building. In Paris it’s the Eiffel Tower. In Brazil it’s Christ the Reedemer.
And in Quito it’s the TeleferiQo – a cable car that gives going to the top a whole new meaning… READ MORE
Day 65: Dispatched After Two Full Months on the Road
I’m going to sound like a broken record with these monthly recaps but – how on earth has two months already gone by on this current 12-month Travel Dispatch journey?
As you saw in yesterday’s dispatch, I’m marking the end of Month 2 and the beginning of Month 3 with travel to a new destination – Ecuador. While I begin my exploration and shift of cultural subject matter to this new country, below is a look back on all the highlights from Month 2 which was spent in Colombia… READ MORE
Day 63: Dispatched While Traveling With Someone
So I did a thing and followed a boy to Ecuador.
Ok wait, no. That’s a dramatic exaggeration because I’m a writer and that’s what we do – of course I didn’t follow a boy to Ecuador. Not completely.
I only kinda sorta maaaaybe followed a boy to Ecuador. I know it sounds insane at first but let me de-crazy it down for you.
In real life people open themselves up to the possibility of love (or at the very least the possibility of deep like). They accept a first-date invitation and if it feels natural and right they go on a second. Then a third. Then a fourth and so on until… READ MORE
Days 61 & 62: Dispatched From La Guajira, Where True Adventure Can Still Be Found
They say technology has killed adventure.
Ok so I’m not sure who “they” are and that’s not an actual quote but doesn’t it feel like its been said before? In the current era of social media and constant connectivity I’ve often wondered myself if there’s anything left to explore.
Does true adventure really exist anymore?… READ MORE
Day 60: Dispatched With Everything You Need to Know About the Lost City Trek
It was 6 in the morning and I was knee deep in the Buritaca River about a three days’ walk from any paved road, mobile signal or A/C unit.
With trail shoes gripped in one hand and a walking stick enclosed in the other, I forged through its brisk waters, almost plunging into the shallows as my bare feet slid over the rocky floor bed. I emerged (mostly dry) on the other side, shoved my mud-caked shoes on my feet and dashed onto the trail ahead. Twenty minutes later I stood alone at the first of 1200 stone steps rising up the mountainside and pointing the way to the Lost City… READ MORE
Days 52 – 59: Dispatched to Say I’m Baaaaack
Remember me? The girl from this very maudlin email.
I wrote it in the middle of my first true meltdown of this 52 week, round-the-world journey. I was tumbling downward into a slump I didn’t recognize was a slump until today when re-reading the last words I sent you.
At surface level the tears streaming down my breakout-ridden cheeks had everything to do with my computer troubles; in reality they were over so much more than that… READ MORE
Days 50 & 51: Dispatched While Crying Tears of Frustration
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been on the phone the past hour bawling my eyes. I haven’t let go and cried like this in ages. Seriously, you should see me right now. My face looks like Flubber exploded all over it there’s so much snot.
My Future husband is a lucky man let me tell you.
I left the town of Paso del Mango, Colombia this morning and canceled my plans to travel to the neighboring town of Minca because of the storm systems recently passing through. I’ve already told you about my lightening saga and there was another power outage last night (hence no dispatch yesterday).
So I decided instead to start the challenging, multi-day-logistical-nightmare-to-get-to journey up to the northernmost point of South America, Punta Gallinas… READ MORE
Day 49: Dispatched While Deciding Where To Go Next
I’m going to keep this one brief for two reasons:
a.) I’m still on limited, borrowed wifi thanks to the other night’s lightening strike.
b.) I really want to have my article (and email dispatch) on the Lost City up for you by end of day tomorrow. Therefore I need to dedicate 90% of my day to it.
So I thought I’d ask you to quickly help me with a wonderful dilemma.
For the past week I’ve been going back and forth on where to travel to next. For the short term I’m planning on finishing my exploration of Northern Colombia… READ MORE
Day 48: Dispatched While Almost Getting Struck By Lightening
Everyone warned me Colombia would be dangerous.
They told me I’d be kidnapped by guerrilla forces. Or that I’d get robbed by corrupt officials. Some feared I’d get lost in the jungle or eaten by snakes. Others (like my ex) cautioned me about the allure of cocaine tourism. A drug I’d never touched in my life.
Yet not one person predicted my downfall would be lightening… READ MORE
Day 47: Dispatched To Say Happy New Year and Share Travel Inspiration for 2018
Happy New Year!
I hope your night was as amazing as mine.
What did I get up to in Colombia on NYE you ask? Well, I went to this poppin nighttime spot called Club Duvet (aka my bed).
Yeah I was lame and dead asleep by 10pm. But in my defense, yesterday marked my return to civilization after my 4 day trek to the Lost City. This hike was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Much harder than that one time I thought it’d be fun to climb a 13,000ft volcano.
It tested my endurance, pushed me to my limit, and made mosquitos move up to enemy numero uno on my hit list… READ MORE
Days 44 – 46: Dispatched From the Lost City
Past Me is worried about how Present Me is currently doing on the difficult 5 day Colombian trek she’s on.
I hear the mosquitoes run rampant and curses abound en route to the Lost City (I know right? Lost City sounds so dramatic and mysterious), an ancient civilization hidden deep in the jungle. One that pre-dates the famed Machu Picchu.
Send your prayers that Present KS makes it out of this Jumanji/Indiana Jones hybrid. If she does, she’ll be back in your inbox on New Year’s Day.
Day 43: Dispatched While Only Spending $1788.63 in 42 Days
I know right?
I’ve been on the road 42 full days now and I’ve yet to crack $2000.
The real kicker is I’m not even being all that stingy. I haven’t cooked once since leaving the US and I’m not missing out on the costly excursions I want to do (i.e. sailing from Panama to Colombia and the jungle trek I’m currently on).
When I send out my weekly financial reports I often get responses asking how I travel so cheaply… READ MORE
Day 42: Dispatched From the Past (Again)
This is Past Me speaking to Present You (again).
I know I did this a few weeks ago when sailing from Panama to Colombia but I once again had to be fancy and pre-schedule the next few days’ worth of dispatches.
Why? Because I’m somewhere in the Colombian Jungle and as “advanced” as the supposed ancient civilization I’m hiking to is rumored to be, they never mastered a simple thing like WiFi… READ MORE
Day 41: Dispatched With a Lesson in Street Food Etiquette
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s street food. How complicated can it be? You approach the cart. Order a [insert greasy meat of your choosing here] on a stick and eat it.
Yeah, no. Not in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Here it’s an intricate dance. One involving swift movements, precise timing, and lots and lots of confidence… READ MORE
Days 39 & 40: Dispatched To Say Feliz Navidad Para Todos
I first want to start this missive with a heartfelt thank you for the overwhelming amount of responses you sent in about yesterday’s dispatch. Maria’s story resonated with so many of you and I never could have anticipated this kind of reaction.
I know you come to this blog for travel inspiration and advice and perhaps to occasionally laugh at my more-often-than-not mishaps so it means the world to me that you embraced my diversion into heavier subject matter. Not only did you embrace it but you requested more of it. I promise to try and share more about the locals I meet during this journey. After all, meeting these people and hearing their stories is my favorite part of traveling… READ MORE
Day 38: Dispatched While Discussing Venezuelan Migration to Santa Marta
The benefits of having a daily routine in Santa Marta (or anywhere for that matter) is seeing the same faces day in and day out. Sometimes these strangers become acquaintances and occasionally these acquaintances turn into friends.
After 5 consecutive days spent working from the corner table next to the outlets in a nearby coffeeshop, this happened with me and the waitress. She had just gotten off work and sat next to me to have a post-shift maracuya drink. We’d been making small talk all week with her mostly teasing me about how I must have the menu memorized by now.
But for now the time had come for our first real conversation and it was sobering. Maria only moved to Santa Marta from Venezuela three months ago… READ MORE
Day 37: Dispatched While Eating Every Weird Snack Found in a Colombian Supermarket
“Hey Kristen! How’s everything going? What kind of crazy adventure are you getting into now?”
I received this text from an old work colleague this morning. My initial response was “ok clearly you aren’t signed up for my dispatches so are we even close enough for you to have my phone number?” But knee jerk reactions have never been my strong suit so I erased the text mid-formation and wound up not responding at all.
Not because I was actually mad she doesn’t want me invading her inbox daily; but rather because the past 4 days I haven’t really done anything at all… READ MORE
Day 36: Dispatched While Celebrating My First Full Month on the Road
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance” – me 5 weeks ago.
Ok so some other guy actually said it first but if the shoe fits (spoiler alert – it does) why not borrow it? It was only a little over a month ago I took 25k in cash and set out on the first Travel Dispatch journey, the 12 month round-the-world trip you’ve been reading about for the past 35 days.
It’s hard to believe a full month has already come and gone. At times its felt like it has flown by and at other times its felt like I’ve been gone forever. Today I took a look back on all the adventures (and misadventures) I’ve had since the journey began and collated them into the below dispatch…READ MORE
Day 35: Dispatched With Updates During a Power Outage
I know what you’re thinking – how did we all of a sudden jump from Day 30 to 35?
Truth is I’m as lost as you. One of the few perks of adulting is never having to show your work on a math problem so I can’t trace back to where the first miscalculation began. Clearly it’s a matter of me just not being able to count. How I survived to the age of 30 is something I ask myself everyday.
In the name of maturity, I’m going to place the blame on something else and attribute my 4 missing dispatch days to the temporary loss of my computer and briefly update you on what’s been going on the past few days…READ MORE
Day 30: Dispatched From a Car, Motorbike, Minibus, Boat, and from the Bed of a Pick-up Truck
It all happened because of flamingoes.
They stood majestic in a sea of pink that stretched across the horizon as far as the eye could see. Webbed feet pushed against the lagoon’s surface as a group prepared to take flight, their graceful movements mirrored in the now rippled waters below.
That was the picture I sold to Karo and Lilly – the last two left from our original sailing crew who I’d been exploring Palomino, Colombia with for the past 5 days… READ MORE
Days 27 – 29: Dispatched Without a Computer
My most logical fear happened.
I say logical because the rest of my fears are so irrational I’d be embarrassed to say them aloud. For example I’m pretty sure I won’t be sold into a child sex ring because last I heard they’re not in the market for 30 year olds whose gray hairs are multiplying by the day. Yet I’m terrified every time a man tries to sell me candy on the street. Which happens pretty much on the reg in Colombia.
So while my situation could be way worse, my logical nightmare that became canon yesterday was my computer breaking on me…READ MORE
Days 25 & 26: Dispatched With a View to Let You Draw Your Own First Impressions of Palomino
I spent the past 32 hours exploring this small village in Northern Colombia my new friends talked me into coming to and well, let’s just say I saw some things.
Things I spent the better part of an hour trying to write to you about.
But then an idea came to me…READ MORE
Day 24: Dispatched While Letting New Friends Introduce Me to New Places
You would think after 6 days spent in too-close-for-any-kind-of-comfort quarters on a small sailboat that me and my fellow seaman would want nothing to do with each other any time soon (especially after learning as much about each other’s bowel movements as we did).
Yet 5 days after reaching dry land, we continue gravitating toward one another.
It started in Cartagena, Colombia when half our group stayed in the same hostel. There were the 3 Australian party boys, the 2 Swiss friends, the German female solo traveler, the German male solo traveler, and the token American (me)…READ MORE
Day 23: Dispatched From Beyond the Wall
Cartagena, to be entirely cliche, is charming. Beautiful. Stunning. Colorful. Lovely.
And to be entirely un-cliche, I’m not referring to this Colombian city’s historic Old Town. The one set within 16th century-built walls and filled with a maze of cobbled streets, sprawling squares, and colonial architecture that attracts mostly honeymooners and wealthy Colombians.
But like I said – I’m not talking about the Old Town. I’m talking about the Cartagena beyond the wall. The one with fewer tourists, lower prices, and (in my opinion) the best food in town. It’s not hard to find yet most tourists miss out. I promise there’s no need to wander far or seek out dodgy streets to find it…READ MORE
Day 22: Dispatched After a 6 Day Sail from Panama to Colombia
I’m not a pirate and rum disagrees with me.
Yet I found myself on the aft deck of a sailboat in the middle of the Caribbean pretending none of that was true. I, along with 12 other mateys and a cat I wish I could say had a peg leg, were on an adventure. One taking us from Panama to Colombia via the high seas.
The seas were f*ckin high.
I wanted to puke and the rum had nothing to do with it. Storm systems circled overhead, churning the waters beneath our hull. The boat shook this way…READ MORE
Days 16 – 21: Dispatched With an Out of Office Message
I mean realllllly out of office.
I’m currently sailing from Panama through the Caribbean en route to Colombia (playing the drunken pirate of course) and am wifi-less for the next 5 days. Regularly scheduled dispatches will resume upon my disembarkation back onto solid ground.
Sea you on the other side.
Day 15: Dispatched From the Path Between the Seas
An old boyfriend once asked what I liked most about myself.
It was a question that, as far as I could recall, no one had asked me before. Yet the answer came easy – the thing I liked most about myself was that I could eat as many Crunchwrap Supremes from Taco Bell as I wanted without my derrière losing its rounded shape and firmness.
While my boyfriend conceded that my behind indeed did not reflect my poor eating habit, he also pointedly let me know my deflection technique wasn’t going to work. His patience could outlast my jokes…READ MORE
Days 13 & 14: Dispatched After Letting Myself Get Ripped Off
“No, ocho. Pay ocho.”
“No. I have 5. Tengo cinco.”
“I take you for 8 only.”
“How about seis? Will 6 work?
“No. Ocho. Eight. Eight. Eight.” Sighing, I opened the door of the cab at Albrook Station and threw my bags…READ MORE
Day 12: Dispatched After a Very Immature Poop Joke
Based on the subject line of this email you probably thought this was going to be a lighthearted travel tale involving a mishap in some foreign bathroom.
Either that or you clicked delete immediately because any discussion involving bowel movements makes you uncomfortable. To that I say, “meh, fair enough.”
But what you probably didn’t expect was an introspective post on my feelings about transient relationships. A topic inspired by a container of coffee dregs that looked like a bowl of sh*t. I watched my new friend scoop it up with a spoon and pretend to eat it, all the while laughing like the 17 year old I’m definitely not anymore…READ MORE
Day 11: Dispatched From a Mud-filled Pool
I needed a spa.
What after my harrowing biking experience yesterday and all the hiking I’ve been doing in the surrounding jungle of El Valle de Anton, Panama this past week. The only problem is I’m no longer in New York City and I’ve committed to traveling for a full 12 months on a $25,000 budget. I can’t stray from it because I made the mistake of telling the internet about it. You know, in the name of accountability and all that.
Then I realized I’m literally staying in the crater of an extinct volcano and volcanoes = hot springs. A.K.A natural spas for the poor. Thinking this revelation was as good an excuse as any to talk to the good-looking receptionist at my hostel, I asked him where I could soak my sore and morbidly out-of-shape body…READ MORE
Day 10: Dispatched From a Bike to Nowhere
I don’t cycle.
Hike up a mountain? Yes. Rappel down a bluff? Sure. Run down the street? Maybe.
But ride a bike? No.
And yes, I’m talking about a bike bike. Not a motorbike, not a motorcycle, but like, you know – a bicycle. Historically bikes and I don’t mix. Gravity and I barely get along when my two feet are on the ground, much less when precariously balanced on undersized pedals straddling two wheels…READ MORE
Day 9: Dispatched Late
Anything can happen while on the road (think no wifi, travel mishaps, and my inability to sometimes juggle my work load while on the road). Day 8 was one of those days and because of it I missed my weekly recap email and had to play catchup today.
So without further ado, here’s my Week 1 recap…READ MORE
Day 8: Dispatched With Full Transparency
Yesterday was supposed to be my first weekly round-up dispatch.
Home to my weekly practical post letting you guys in on the who, what, where, when, and how of the journey, Wednesday’s were going to house short informational guides for those interested in planning their own trip to the destinations I’ve been dispatching about throughout the previous week – i.e. how to book the same tour, what gear to bring, where to stay, how to obtain a visa, and more.
But this week I seriously struggled with my new work/life balance. I’ve only been living on the road for 8 days and am still trying to find my groove. It’s not as easy getting back as Stella makes it look…READ MORE
Day 7: Dispatched From Atop a Sleeping Indian
Ok so not the human kind. La India Dormida in El Valle de Anton, Panama is more like one gigantic Chia pet.
Taking the trail up over her head and traversing across the rest of her body before descending back down to town is a rewarding loop hike that lasts approximately 3 hours. En route to the summit you’ll encounter cascading waterfalls, dip pools, butterflies, and even pre-Columbian petroglyphs…READ MORE
Day 6: Dispatched Alongside a Change of Plans
The one thing I excel at in life is procrastination.
Whereas most people look down on this character trait, I look at it as an asset.
It’s not difficult to see why when looking at where I am now – lounging on an outdoor hammock surrounded by a lush green jungle I never knew existed until a few hours ago.
My failure to reserve a sailboat to Colombia after procrastination hit me with a bad case of the I’ll book passage tomorrows is what brought me here. I put it off for four days only to get my act together in time to find all crossings for the week were fully booked. The earliest available slot wasn’t until Nov 30th. Needless to say this put a wrench in my plans…READ MORE
Day 5: Dispatched From the Old Town Where I’m Glad I Didn’t Stay
According to everyone I know who has visited Panama City, Casco Viejo (or the Old Town) is THE place to stay.
And of course by everyone I know I really mean guidebooks because I don’t have any friends who have been to Panama City. Not that I can recall anyway.
Far from the Miamiesque Marbella District where I’m currently staying, the Old Town is home to restored Spanish colonial architecture housing the city’s best restaurants, boutique hotels, and chic bars. Here, decrepit and derelict are replaced with buzz word descriptors like vintage and time-honored when characterizing Casco Viejo’s crumbling buildings and aged ambience…READ MORE
Day 4: Dispatched From the Mercado de Mariscos
By George it actually worked.
Me calling out the rain yesterday must have earned me its respect because – despite the dismal forecast – the entire day went by without a drop of rain. It was glorious.
The sun shined. The birds chirped. The skyline sparkled.
I left the hostel like I left my last boyfriend – quick and with euphoric bliss. Walking for 45 minutes along the Cinta Costera, a scenic waterfront pathway…READ MORE
Day 3: Dispatched While Pandering to the Rain
After three long days it continues to taunt me.
Or hell maybe it’s me doing the taunting. Honestly it’s been going on so long I can’t keep track of who has the next move – me or the torrential rain.
To see what I’ve been dealing with since arriving in Panama just check the weather app on your phone for Panama City. It looks something like this…READ MORE
Day 2: Dispatched Over “Un Juego de Pool”
A Panamanian, an American, a Venezuelan, and a Kiwi walk into a bar…READ MORE
Day 1: Dispatched From the Wrong Panamanian Bus Stop
Panama City was supposed to be easy.
What with its large American expat community, a cosmopolitan atmosphere not unlike Miami, its many English-speaking citizens, and a no-visa-needed policy for US residents. Hell, even its currency is low maintenance (hey there US Dollar, lookin’ fly).
For a seasoned traveler this was going to be cake.
Despite leaving my toiletry bag on the plane and having two machines reject my passport at border control, I waltzed up to the local bus stop at the end of the hidden outdoor corridor looking every bit the poster child for self confidence…READ MORE