My Friend, The Traveler: “Swiggy” from the States

It’s baaaaaaack!

Man, I absolutely LOVE these interviews I have been doing with friends that I have made from around the world. They always remind me of my own stories and experiences I have had, and get me so pumped up for all the traveling I still intend on doing. 

It is my hope that by reading these, you also have a similar desire to embark on your own journey and have your own crazy stories to share with the world. 

Maybe skip that next Starbucks, or buy generic instead of name brand, and instead, put that extra money in savings towards a trip for yourself…that money starts adding up.

Even if you only want to go to a city that is only a 2 hour drive away, GO. It’s still traveling. It’s still adventuring somewhere new. 

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This week on My Friend, The Traveler, we meet Mike “Swiggy” Swigunski. We met about a year ago through mutual friends when I was in Prague, and he was teaching at a university there. 

Swiggy has done quite a bit of traveling and living in different places, so he, of course, has a lot of insight to share with those who have never done much travel, or are just starting out. 

Enjoy!  

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When I see travel’s influence on my life, I can’t afford to have a life that is absent of it. I am my best version of myself when I’m traveling and upon immediately returning. One day I may meet a girl on my travels who challenges my love affair with travel by having such an impact on my own life, prompting me to make room for both, but until then, and long after, I’ll keep a packed bag by the door with no regrets.

Do You Want To Have A Year That Matters?

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Let’s cut the crap. Life is short, you have less time than you think, and there are no baby unicorns coming to save you. So rather than doling out craptastic advice to you about Making!! It!! To!! The!! Top!!™, let me humbly ask: do you want to have a year that matters — or do you want to spend another year starring-slash-wallowing in the lowest-common-denominator reality show-slash-whiny soap opera of your own inescapable mediocrity-slash-self-imposed tragedy?

This is the first paragraph of an article recently written by Umair Haque for the Harvard Business Review, titled “How To Have a Year That Matters.”

Before even finishing that first paragraph, I was in love. (With the article, not Umair - although I am sure he is a top-notch guy.) 

I am obsessed with writing like this. The ass-kicking, motivational kind that doesn’t sound cheesy or fake, splattered with clichés - just honest.

It asks the straight-forward questions. The questions that don’t bullshit you, but just gets to the point and gets you thinking. 

  • Why are you here?
  • What do you want?
  • How much does it matter?
  • What’s it going to take?
  • Who’s on your side? 

Hell yes.  

This got me thinking about a lot of things. About a lot of decisions I need to make. Decisions that will make a difference in the rest of my year, and possibly my life. (Woah, scary.) 

My mind started racing like crazy, but it was the good kind that brought a smile to my face and a feeling that good things are about to happen. 

However, if I want this year to be one to really impact me, and one that I can be proud of, then they are decisions that I have to make (or start making) NOW, instead of sitting on my ass catching up on episodes of New Girl and stuffing my face with yummy chips and salsa. 

Don’t let this year be another year that flies right by you. Grab it by the balls. Show life what you are made of. 

Make this year matter. 

And you can start by doing yourself a favor and reading the article now. 

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Travel Video Awesomeness: Make It Count

This is one of my favorite travel videos that I have ever come across. 

Life is short.

And unpredictable.

Why spend our lives working in a job that we don’t enjoy, in a city we don’t love, buying things we don’t need?

Your life should be something to be proud of. To enjoy every single day. 

What is it that makes you happy?

What can you do to make your life better? 

What do you enjoy? 

DO THOSE THINGS.

We are only given one life. Make it a life that you love. A life that makes you wake up every day with a smile on your face. 

Why not start now?

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"Thank fuck for Skype!" aka Keeping in touch with people back home

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I will be the first to admit that when it comes to keeping in touch with people, especially family, I am really really bad at it. This isn’t something intentional and it doesn’t mean that I don’t care, because I really do love my family to bits, but I am just very easily distracted. When I am off running around some random foreign town, it is almost like I forget I even have a family and a life back home. I get so caught up in my new life abroad, which is very easy to do. However, with all of the new technology and apps and everything coming out nowadays, there is pretty much no excuse for not keeping in touch, and I vow to be much better about it in the future. 

The following are my favorite programs that I used to keep in touch with friends and family while I was gone, and continue to use every day to stay in contact with all my friends I have gained around the world.

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My Friend, The Traveler: Gethin from ‘Straya

Man, I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to this guy. 

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There aren’t enough positive words in the world to describe who he is and what he means to me, but I will give it a shot.

I met this kid a couple weeks into my 17 months abroad and we quickly became quite attached to each other. He worked for the pub crawl that I had just started working for (as the only female employee as well) and he did a good job of taking me under his wing and showing me the ropes.

We had an INSANE 8 months together.

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Coffee with a purpose.

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When I was in Europe, I fell in love with quaint little coffee shops and bistros, growing to hate the chain ones more and more with every one I would see popping up around town. Well, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Emma wanted to get together and have coffee and catch up on life - as girls often feel the need to do more often than probably necessary. My first reaction was to hop on Yelp! and find somewhere for us to go that didn’t make me want to stab the person behind the counter. Somewhere where they play good music, and you can sit for hours chatting away, without feeling the need to vacate as soon as your beverage is done. Somewhere that felt like being in your own living room, but with coffee that tastes better. What I came up with was a place that had me immediately hooked and instantly became my new go-to, now that I am back home…for the time being.

Origin Coffee & Tea

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As soon as I walked in the door, it was love at first sight. First off, look at how damn cute it is! I loved all seating (a variety of comfy couches and lounge chairs, mixed with tables and chairs for working or socializing), and the exposed wood floors and ceiling beams made it feel clean but not clinical. The menus are all hand written and they sell clothing and knick-knacks and gifts made by people in the community. 

The best part of it all…

Origin is a NON-PROFIT, FOR-BENEFIT coffee house! 

All of the money that they make selling coffees and teas and delicious homemade snacks all goes to a wonderful cause - stopping human sex trafficking. 

Just have a look at their story below: 

Amazing, right?! 

Not to mention, everything I have ever purchased here is yummy and, even though the staff are all volunteers, they are always really friendly and make and effort to ensure that my time spent here is enjoyed.

Next time you are in the area, even just passing through, be sure to stop in! 

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