What Nobody Tells You About Coming Home After Traveling

Everyone tells you about how amazing travel can be – how it captures your soul and changes who you are. Everyone tells you about how your life will be forever altered by travel, and that once you catch the travel bug….there’s no turning back.

But nobody tells you about the return home.

Nobody tells you that when you come home – everything around you is exactly the same. Your friends are the same people, working the same jobs, dating the same people, drinking at the same bars on a Friday night. Your parents are the same, cooking the same meals, in the house that hasn’t changed a bit. Everything looks, feels, and smells the same.

But you…..you have changed

You have seen and experienced magical places that you’ve always “liked” on Instagram. You have breathed in new air. You have sank your feet into foreign soil. You have been surrounded by different cultures, different languages, and different religions for weeks, maybe months, maybe years.

Sure, it’s exciting coming home. Seeing your family and friends and getting back to work, sharing all of your stories and getting hugs that could squeeze the life out of you.

But then everything goes back to normal. You’re back in your routine. Everyone is used to you being home – everyone is living their day-to-day normal life.

I just want to scream. Everything is moving around me – but I am frozen. The return home is always difficult for me because I can’t relate to “home” anymore.

You see – my home is foreign streets and airports. It’s waking up at 4 AM in Cambodia to catch the sunrise behind a temple. It’s renting a moped and getting lost on unfamiliar roads. It’s $4 hostels and waking up to geckos on my bed. It’s dancing on the street in the pouring rain because it’s the Thai New Year. It’s showering in flip-flops and wondering when the next time I’m going to do laundry is. It’s living out of my backpack and wearing the same outfit 3 days in a row.  It’s sleeping on night buses and boats so I don’t waste a day traveling to my next destination.

I come “home” and I am restless. I am anxious. I don’t feel the same – and nobody understands me. I am constantly thinking about the day I finally runaway. Constantly thinking about selling everything I own – packing my bag – and just leaving. For good.

I love my city, I love my state, I love my family, and I love my friends. But this small town isn’t where I belong – and frankly, there’s nothing actually holding me down here.

I dream of waking up in new cities, where nobody knows my name and the possibilities are endless. I dream about working odd jobs and connecting with kindred spirits as I make my way around the globe.

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Nobody tells you about the emptiness you feel inside after you return from traveling. That as soon as you land and give and receive your hugs – you’re wondering “what next?”.

My hometown will always hold a place in my heart. But I am sorry – because I can no longer call it home. Home is the unknown – and I will spend the rest of my life chasing it.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com


Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration almost daily – @waddupkim


• XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS 

What Nobody Tells You About Coming Home After Traveling

WHY SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT

passion

I figured one of my favorite quotes was a good starting point here. This quote has always stood out to me because not only is it absolutely true, but I witness people doing exactly this every single day of my life.

self-ful·fill·ment
ˈˌself fə(l)ˈfilmənt,ˈˌself(f)ə(l)ˈfilmənt/
noun
  1. the fulfillment of one’s hopes and ambitions. 

Can we talk about this for a second? Self-fulfillment. This shit is important. Being able to find your passion and being able to find your deepest desires and come to a realization with who you are and who you were meant to be….amazing. Figuring out what makes you happy and pursuing that shit? Yeah. That’s what life is all about.

 

They say that every human being has a purpose. Everyone has a reason on why they’re here. Some people are meant to go through the social norms of life, graduating and going to college, achieving degrees and building their dream house with a golden retriever named Buddy. Woof! Then there’s those crazy ass people that go after some crazy ass goals because they think societal norms aren’t for them…..yeah, that’s me.

 

I refuse to live a routine life and I refuse to ignore what sets my soul on fire. I refuse to do this even if people don’t agree or support me with this lifestyle….even if it’s my own family.

We have to remember that our lives are just that – our lives. This means nobody else has the right to tell you if you are living “right” or “wrong”. This means that nobody has the right to tell you how you should be living and nobody should be able to impact your happiness or ability to achieve your goals. Whether you are going to college to get your degrees, you’re pursuing your dream to be a rapper, or you’re living out of a van and touring the 50 states …..make it your choice, and nobody else’s. Don’t let ANYONE or ANYTHING get in the way of living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

As cheesy and corny as it is – we only get this one life, ya know? I don’t think people take that into consideration too often. On average, we live for around 78 years….if we’re lucky. But sometimes – that 78 years gets cut short. People die unexpectedly constantly…..and my goodness, we never ever can guess what tomorrow will bring.

So why not do what makes you the happiest fucking person alive?

Never forget that everything happens for a reason and everything will end up exactly how it’s supposed to be at some point in time. Never forget that this life is yours – and it can be lived however you’d like it to.

I refuse to be unhappy. I refuse to work a 9-5. I refuse to wake up everyday and think about how miserable I am with the life I am living. I refuse to wonder “what if”.

BECAUSE THAT IS NOT ME.

So yeah, my goals are quite vast and thought of how extensive my dreams are is absolutely terrifying…..but Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said it best….

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So, please, chase after your intimidating goals and prove to yourself and everyone else that you can do whatever the hell you set your mind to. Do what you feel you were meant to do. Don’t live a life full of regret and don’t live a life that you aren’t happy with. 78 years is a long time to be thinking “what if”. Live for yourself. And be fucking proud of it. 

SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT, DON’T LET THAT SLIDE.

LIVE WITH INTENTION. BE BOLD IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY. LIVE THE LIFE YOU WERE DESTINED FOR.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

Contact me if you’re interested in working with me in any way by e-mail as well.

XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.

WHY SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT

What’s in my backpack?!

I receive the “What do you pack?” “How do you prevent yourself from overpacking?” questions quite often, but it’s hard for me to answer because everyone is different and has their own preferences and necessities.

Depending on where I am going and the length of my trip, I carry all of my items in two bags. Yes, two. Read on…

Okay, so this is my very first backpack I bought years ago when I headed to Europe for the very first time. I bought it at MountainWarehouse for super cheap and I’ve used it for the last couple of years.
bagFor the most part – it works really well for what I paid for it. I didn’t expect myself to get addicted to travel I guess, so I just spent like $50 during a huge sale at Mountain Warehouse and called it good. It’s a 65L bag, it carries quite a bit. It opens from the top and also has a bottom storage area. There’s two large pockets on the side that I find useful and I like the pockets on the top portion (there’s one on the inside and the outside).

I’ve used this backpack for backpacking Europe for a few months, for traveling to Indonesia for about a month, for my trip around the US, etc…etc…..

I’ve also used it for longer hikes: A hike in the desert to Havasupai for a few days (didn’t like my bag for this hike), the Trolltunga hike in Norway in lots of snow for one day, etc etc.

I see people using their $200-$400 bags, and they’re nice, but I’m cheap and this one works fine for me. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it 😉

WHAT’S IN THE BAG, KIM?

Depending on what kind of trip you’re taking, what weather you’ll be dealing with, what you’re going to be doing, and how long you’ll be gone……is how you’re going to pack your backpack full of fun.

For my lower half:

  • ALWAYS a black pair of leggings. I usually travel in these because they’re comfortable and I get really cold on airplanes. Leggings are also just usable pretty much anywhere, so, yeah.
  • A pair of jeans. If I’m going somewhere tropical, none. If I’m going somewhere cooler, usually two pairs. But if I’m dealing with different temperatures, like when backpacking Europe, one pair will do.
  • Shorts. If it’s somewhere tropical, again, this is pretty much all I’ll bring. I’ll pack maybe 2 or 3 pairs.
  • A pair of athletic pants. These are important if you do any type of hiking, running, etc.
  • A pair of athletic shorts. Once again, used for my hiking/running. And if I’m just having a lazy night in maybe I’ll hang out in them.
  • Socks and hiking socks. I like to bring two pairs of ankle socks, and one pair of regular length socks. I also bring a pair of hiking socks. I wash these throughout my travels, so I don’t need many. ESPECIALLY if I’m going somewhere tropical, maybe I’ll only bring one pair of ankle socks and my hiking socks.
  • A pair of sandals. I always pack a pair of cheap flip-flops with me. Even if I’m going to Antarctica. Why? I use them in hostel showers. And if I go somewhere warm, I’ll bring a nicer pair of sandals, too. (And by nice, I mean a pair of Target sandals that were on clearance, probably).
  • A pair of casual shoes. (ex: Converse)
  • Hiking boots or shoes. Of course, if you don’t intend on hiking, these aren’t necessary.
  • Underwear (# depends on length of trip) Once again, I wash my items as I travel so I don’t overpack these, either.

Upper half: 

  • Tank tops. I like to bring one white tanktop and one black tanktop.
  • Bras. I take one tan bra, and one black bra. Simple.
  • Sports bra. Because I like to exercise, run, and hike during my travels.
  • A couple of shirts. I like to bring quarter sleeve shirts because I can wear them practically anywhere I go, but this also depends on the weather. If it’s tropical I’ll bring 5 or 6 tank tops and short sleeves. If it’s cooler, I’ll bring 5 longer sleeved shirts. Either way, usually around 5 shirts will do for my trips.
  • A dress. Nothing fancy. Something easily rollable. For the nights I go out, whether I’m going dancing or out to dinner with someone. A simple dress from Marshalls is all a girl needs, I’m tellin’ ya.
  • A sweatshirt. I like to bring one crew-neck or zip-up with me.
  • Jacket. I tend to always bring a light-weight jacket that is waterproof. I can use it outside and during my hikes.

Now, for my miscellaneous items, I pretty much buy anything travel sized.

I carry a small bag for toiletries including:

  • Travel size shampoo/conditioner
  • Travel size soap/body wash
  • Travel size face wash 
  • My medications 
  • Travel size first aid kit
  • Travel size tooth brush and paste
  • Travel size hair brush
  • And usually a small makeup bag

Other random items that come with me:

I always travel with: My GoPro camera, my Canon camera, my GoPro mounts, a bathing suit, my license, my SSC, my passport, emergency information sheet, and other necessary travel documents.

On the right side pocket of my backpack you will find: Ziplock bags, plastic bags, a small travel umbrella. Super weird: But I promise, they will come in handy and I will forever carry them with me. Ziplock bags come in handy for food items and work well if you hike. Plastic bags for dirty or wet clothes. Umbrella…..well…..rain.

On the left side pocket of my backpack you will find: I do a lot of hiking and sometimes camping overnight – so I will carry reusable plastic silverware, a whistle, a flashlight, matches, and a compass.

 

And if you need anything on your trip – just buy it there. Easy peasy. If there’s something you might forget…..you can probably buy it wherever you’re going. Don’t worry. 

 

My second bag is my beloved daypack.

I have a couple different daypacks that I bring with me throughout my travels. Basically, this is my carry-on bag with my folder (I usually have a travel folder with all my papers), my cameras, and other random things that don’t fit in my backpack or some items I’d like to have with me on the plane. When I get where I’m going to – I use this bag for my day trips and my hiking. So, I always make sure my daypacks have good holders on the side for my water bottle and/or a bag that allows me to use my Camelbak Hydration Pack. (Meaning there’s a little hole towards the top of the bag where I can run the water tube through).

OVERPACKING TIPS:

Get together what you think you’ll need and you can probably take away half of it. It’s hard to pack, really. But just think about how this backpack is going to be on your back for numerous hours some days – and truly decide on what is a NEED and what is a WANT. You don’t need to bring 5 dresses unless you plan on going out every night to a nice dinner. You don’t need to bring a bunch of shoes. Needs. Needs. Needs.

This was a more difficult blog to write out because EVERYONE and EVERY TRIP is different, but on average, this is a list that I tend to follow along with. A lot of people have been asking me what I pack – so hopefully this helped the slightest. Happy traveling!

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

Contact me if you’re interested in working with me in any way by e-mail as well.

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.
What’s in my backpack?!

The Beauty of Balinese Hindu Ceremonies

To learn about the meanings behind these ceremonies: CLICK HERE.

This month I spent some time in Indonesia – and one of the best memories I have taken from it was attending Hindu ceremonies in a small village called Amed in northern Bali.

I’ll be posting about my entire trip to Indonesia probably within the next week, I just really wanted to post about the few days I experienced the ceremonies….

So, I was staying at a scuba dive center in Amed…..

I was laying in my bed and I heard a lot of music, chanting, people talking, and children laughing. I rushed to the front of the scuba dive center and saw a parade of local people dressed in traditional ceremony clothing. Baskets of fruit and offerings were being carried on the heads of some beautiful women, and children were clapping and skipping along to the music as they all headed towards the beach.

I immediately ran to my room and grabbed my camera and headed towards the beach on a motor scooter. When I arrived to the beach, there were groups of men playing instruments and everyone was taking seats in the rocks or the black sand.

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As expected, I got a lot of stares. I mean….I look quite different from the other 500 people I was surrounded by.

Here are some photos from the beginning of the ceremony:

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Before prayer, I was trying to play with the children. They were a bit confused by me. All of their eyes were on me, but they wouldn’t approach me. So I made eye contact with them, I got down on my knees on the black sand beach by myself and I started collecting small white rocks and shells. I brushed my hand over an area of the black sand, cleaning the area and creating a blank space. I began to make a sun with the white rocks on the black sand, beautiful contrast 😉 The children continued to watch me.

Suddenly, a brave little girl walked slowly to the front of the beach towards me. I later learned that her name was Ketut, she was the fourth born. We shared the same Balinese name. She got down and started to collect white rocks and she sat down next to me and started placing them on the black sand, helping me create a sun. We exchanged smiles. More children approached me, excitedly running around and finding white rocks, ready to help.

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OUR MASTERPIECE.

The kids then started touching my arms, and my face, and my hair. I played games with them, where they tried to slap my hands but I moved them away quickly before they could reach them. They thought this was the best game ever. We played in the water, splashing each other with the salty ocean water. I started to copy them as they moved their legs and arms, jumping, the faces they made…..then they did this to me in return. This was now the best game ever.

Every single one of them spoke zero English. 

We didn’t communicate with each other verbally due to the extreme language barrier. All of them surrounded me, trying to speak and yell over one another in Indonesian, and I couldn’t tell them I didn’t understand them. So I put both hands on my chest and said “No Balinese. American.” and pointed at them and said “Balinese”, then back to myself, “No Balinese”. I then said “Hello, my name is Kim, and I am from America” – so they would understand we don’t speak the same language. They looked at me in awe….and then continued to play with me. I brought out my camera and we invented another new game. The one where I pretend I am about to take their picture and they r-a-n.

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They were having so much fun, running, laughing, running….

I ended up snagging some really beautiful photos, however….

I heard a bell ring, and it was time for prayer. I sat down in the middle of a bunch of beautiful Balinese people, sticking out like a sore thumb, but ready to learn and experience. The boys next to me gave me pieces of the flowers to use during prayer. I followed their direction and caught on immediately. I was smiling from ear-to-ear as I prayed, and then placed bits of flowers on top of my head and behind each of my ears.

Men came around with holy water, showering us each individually. We then cupped our hands as they poured. We drank from our hands three times, and the last times we used the holy water on our face and hair. Then, we were approached with a bowl of wet rice, where we placed rice grains on our forehead, our temples, and chest.

To see an example of this ritual: go here.

After this, the kids ran to me again, because the ten minutes away from each other was too long. One of the little boys ran up to me with a rose made out of a napkin, he laughed and pointed to the group of boys behind us and they waved at me and laughed too. They spoke broken English, but managed to ask me to take a photo of them:

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I continued to walk around with my camera, and people continued to point at the camera and then to themselves. I shot photos and they rushed to see the back of my camera for the results. Giving me a thumbs up, a smile, and occasionally a “HEEEEYYYY!”

A few of the adults that spoke broken English came up to me, holding my hand and thanking me for coming, making the kids happy, and appreciating/respecting their culture and religion. I teared up numerous times.

 

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Moonlit sky over the beautiful ceremony

Over the next few days, I got to go to the actual temple and experience the ceremonies there. I went each night. I didn’t capture as many photos like I did from the beach/nor were they the best quality…..but I will share them with you anyways.

 

This post doesn’t fully capture the beauty I endured these nights – nor will it ever amount up to the amount of love and pure, genuine happiness I held in my heart throughout my time there. I really hope you looked into the provided links to take a look into their culture/religion.

I will never be able to thank all of the beautiful souls I encountered in Amed for their open arms and amazing energy. I will always remember the little girl that first approached me and hung onto me throughout the entire evening.

Also: thank you to Nyam for taking me to the temples with you and your family and letting me experience all of this first hand. You are the greatest and I will see you in Amed again one day. This is another home for me.

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Thank you for reading my blog post about my experiences with the magical Balinese Hindu Ceremonies in the village Amed. Hope you enjoyed.

As always, you may e-mail me at kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com with any comments or questions.

Find all of my travel photos on my instagram – @WADDUPKIM

Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

 

 

 

The Beauty of Balinese Hindu Ceremonies

Why I chose to gain my education from world travel – to those who I have disappointed.

This post may have a little more text than normal – but I’ll throw in photos too, don’t fret. Bear with me and read on.

I strictly remember a moment months ago where I was visiting my old high school to watch one of their shows for theater. I was walking down the hallway and stumbled by my old high school vice principal. He stopped and greeted me. Typical small talk ensued – and the questions “What are you doing? Where are you going to school?” couldn’t have jumped out of his mouth any faster after our “hello”.

I’m thinking to myself……everyone else he has seen since graduation would probably answer that question like:

  1. “I’m graduating from Michigan State University in 5 months with a Bachelors Degree in business”
  2. “I’m an engineer now – I graduated from Michigan Tech this year”
  3. “I’m a nurse working at the local hospital”

But here I am. Wanna know what my answer was?

“I’m not in school currently. I work at Lucky’s Steakhouse. I decided I’d rather travel the world for now. But!!! I graduated from Delta College with my Associates Degree last semester…..pretty cool, huh?”

I got the whole ‘Aw, Kim. You’re better than that. Get back to school!” spiel. I just kind of smiled…..walked away…..and then thought to myself……

Wait, what? Did he really just say “you’re better than that?” I was 20 years old when he told me this. When he told me this I had traveled to almost 20 countries. When he told me this I had lived with local families from numerous countries: literally living within different cultures and experiencing life from various perspectives. I was gaining education every single second while I traveled. I wasn’t sitting in a desk or writing in a notebook – but I was becoming more and more educated everyday.

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This is the problem. Two words.

Societal norms.

We are expected to graduate from high school and immediately enter a community college or University. We are expected to continue our college education consistently for years and years until we reach the desired degree. Putting ourselves into a massive debt just so we can get a “good job”….that we may or may not be miserable doing…..just so we can…..pay back all that debt? Wait, what? Skkkkuuuuuurt!

No. Not I.

You see….

I’m young. I am now 21. I don’t quite know what I want to do for the rest of my life – but that’s okay. Why should I? I still have a lot to experience and when I fall in love with something I’ll work to make it my career. I’m not going to waste my money and time going to college right now to take random classes and rack up a huge debt under my name. And honestly – I just wanted a break. I’ve been going to school since before I can remember (literally) each and every year.

So….the world is my classroom.

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I get every subject out of it, too.

Sociology. Math. Science. HISTORY. Language. Art. Fitness. Religion. You name it.

I am learning about humans from all around the world. I am learning about their cultures and how they live their daily lives. I am learning about different countries’ history – strolling through ancient sites and ruins in Rome, visiting concentration camps and WWII museums in Germany, or paying a visit to various sacred temples in Indonesia for example. I am seeing and touching what I would be looking at in a textbook.

I’m constantly surrounded by different languages and accents – where I’m picking up words, phrases and rules as I go. I’ve been eye-to-eye with some of the most important/impressive pieces of art in the world at art museums like The Louvre in Paris and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. (Yeah, I have a selfie with the Mona Lisa….no big deal). 

I have to use my brain and do math while traveling – estimating costs of plane tickets and how much I spend each day. Converting currency daily and being able to do conversions for distance, weight, temperature, etc…..

I am exposed to different religions everywhere I go – being able to visit their churches, mosques, temples. Going to ceremonies. Experiencing their way of worship.

And of course – I have my fitness class. Not only do I walk miles on end with two large backpacks on both my front and my backside….but I hike. I swim. I scuba. I hike mountains, in the desert, through the water, and sometimes even an occasional volcano. I’ll do yoga in Bali and I’ll scuba dive in Hawaii. My body is constantly moving, on the go, and working hard.

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And I’m happy. 

I am doing what I love to do. I am living my passion. I am living out my dreams and goals.

 

As of right now, I don’t want to be in a classroom setting. I don’t have any idea what I want to do. I’m young. I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m finding myself. And that’s okay.

So – yeah, Mr. EX Vice Principal….if you so happen to read this….

I’m traveling the world instead of going to college right now.

But I’ve got one hell of an open-mind, a big heart, and a zeal for life.

Sorry to dissapoint you….but I’m happy with this lifestyle for now. And that’s all that really matters.

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I am living – not surviving. 

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.

 

Why I chose to gain my education from world travel – to those who I have disappointed.

Advice for every 20-something year old that doesn’t want to just work and die.

You’re what – 18? 20? 23? It doesn’t matter.

The fact is that if you want to live – no matter what age you are at – you have time. You can. You will.

Half of us at this age aren’t quite sure what we want to do with our lives. You’ve changed your major 3 times this year, you’re still undecided after 4 years at a community college and you feel hopeless. That’s fine.

You’re normal. You’re not supposed to have your entire life planned at this age. This is the age where you’re supposed to be learning about yourself – learning where you want to head in life. Learning what path you should take – and when to take it.

Within our society, we are told “know what you want to do by 18”. We’re supposed to go to college for years and years, rack up this college debt as we try to get a degree in something we might like doing, then get a job that we may or may not be miserable at, and work our asses off trying to pay off that college debt and also have money to “survive”. I say survive for a reason, because that is exactly what is happening. Surviving. Not living.

As we get older, we cringe at the fact that we can’t save up some cash and fly to Scotland for three weeks because 1.) we have children 2.) our job won’t allow us 3.) extra cash to travel? Riiiiight.

Some people want this life – sure. Some people want to follow these “societal norms” and want to live under Dorothy Smith’s idea of a “Standard North American Family” (SNAF).

But I know that many of us don’t – but do anyways. Why? Because it’s what is normal? Because it is what is expected of us? Because we were taught this way?

ADVICE TO THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS: GO AGAINST SOCIETAL NORMS IF THAT IS WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

Yeah – I said it. Go against the norm, live your damn life, and quit worrying about where you’re going to be in 35 years. Chill out.

Truly – the best education you can receive is within traveling. Within experience.

You learn a lot about yourself, the world around you, and how to act with experience. Surrounding yourself with different cultures and languages. Eating new foods. Going to museums in Europe. Hiking in South America. Volunteering with the elephants in Thailand. Whatever.

If you want to live – if you want to experience – please do it. While you’re young. Right now. Don’t waste your money at college if you don’t know what you want to do yet. It’s okay. Many employers are going to be more impressed with you traveling to different countries and having life experience rather than you getting a degree in a perfected 4 years with a 3.6 GPA.

We weren’t made to work, pay bills, and die. We just weren’t.

Live while you can. Live while you’re young. Find yourself. Find your passion. Find your calling. Whatever that may be.

Take a deep breath because everything is going to be okay.

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Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.
Advice for every 20-something year old that doesn’t want to just work and die.

Benvenuto a Milano // Welcome to Milan.

Traveling from Switzerland to Italy – I knew there would be a shift in atmosphere, weather, culture, and food. And you know what? I was so ready for it.

Ahhhh, Italy.

First stop: Milano. Also where I would be couchsurfing for the first time EVER! 

It was a long, deadly train ride to Italy. (Wasn’t actually that long….I was just hungover and running on less than two hours of sleep. Does that make me a bad person?) 

I got off the train and met up with my host in the Milano Centrale station, his name was Gian. We walked for miles to his cozy flat in the middle of Milan. I think that this walk would have been a lot more enjoyable if I wasn’t hungover, it wasn’t super hot outside, I wasn’t dehydrated, and I didn’t have a 65-liter backpack holding me down. We made it there and I was relieved. Mostly because the flats were so beautiful. There was going to be another couch surfer, and he was going to have to pick her up as well. So he told me I could nap on the (my) couch while he waited for her arrival. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep so fast.

A few hours later, I heard the sound of the door unlocking. My host and the other couch surfer from China, Lee, had arrived. And that meant…time to wake up and conquer the first day in Milan.

We walked again, the three of us, for what seemed like days. The buildings stood tall, each with an eye-catching architectural design. 

We made it to Parco Sempione, or “Simplon Park”. As you walk through this park, there are many different pop-up shops with gelato, t-shirts, post cards, key chains, and water for the hotter, it’s-hard-to-breathe kind of days. This park was established in 1888……I don’t think any of you were born back then. But it’s beauty is unreal. It is filled with people of all ages juggling soccer balls, groups of friends singing with a guitar, and many sunbathers.

Anyways. It is located smack-down in the historic city center of Milan. It lies adjacent to two of the most important landmarks within Milan, too.

Can you guess?

The Arco della Pace, or Arch of Peace, and the Sforza castle. 

Now, I didn’t snag any awe-inspiring, totally need to share, photos of the castle. And that might have been because when you walk through the castle, there are many stray cats and kittens taking over the area. And if you know me…..you know I was the one calling the cats, petting them, and trying to make friends with them. One of the cats. Cat whisperer. 

Whatever. I DID, however, get a picture of the Arco della Pace in all of its glory as I stood below. It doesn’t seem crazy huge…..but it is.

We continued to walk. And walk. And walk. Through the park. Through the gardens of the castle. Through the shopping center….it was a slower walk, through this, because a girl has to window shop, you know.

WHOA. Bold AND italicized that because at the end of the shopping street, I saw what I have been wanting to see with my own eyes for years.

Behold….the Milan Cathedral. 

Duomo di Milano.

  

I’ve always seen photos, but I never expected the location to be where it is. I never expected there to be SO many people surrounding it. And you know what? I never expected there to be so many birds, either. Those things swarm the Duomo di Milano like it is THEIR cathedral and nobody is supposed to be there. 

The inside of the cathedral is so beautiful.  (Go on a Sunday and you get in free!) I don’t think I could ever get tired of inspecting the architecture, design, color, and hidden beauties of this place. It is truly breathtaking. 

 
Then we walked some more.  

We went to Navigli, the most romantic and picture-worthy part of Milan in my eyes. It’s so beautiful. Filled with amazing shops, restaurants, bars….and on some days….some type of Flea Market along the water. You can kind of see that in the photo provided below.
  
During the night  – the streets and bars are FILLED. I went to a place called “MAYA” (?). It was a buffet and had the best cocktails I had in Italy. After meeting Gian’s friends there, stuffing my face with great Italian food, and drinking fruity cocktails….it was time for bed. 

The next day…I headed to EXPO MILANO!

Yes. The World Expo in Milan. Where I also didn’t take too many photos – rather just kind of lived in the moment and took each pavilion in.

But I did take a photo of the horribly long lines to enter the expo.

But Kim. Wait. Before you move on.

What exactly is the Milan Expo?  

To keep it short and sweet, the Milan Expo is a Universal Exposition. This year, it was held in….yes, you guessed it….Milan. Each year the expo is held…there is a theme. There are pavilions from each country that build up their own personal ideas to represent and support this theme. And I mean….the expo is HUGE. Each country’s pavilion is an entire building itself. It’s very, very, very intriguing. You can’t see the whole thing in just one day.

This years theme: “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”.

   





Terrible photos I snagged of the expo. 

$$$: The tickets are reasonably priced. I paid €39 and spent an entire day here roaming the pavilions I wanted to see most. Stopping at one of the food carts and enjoying Dutch fries mid-tour. 😉

 
We stayed all evening and took a long, crowded, train ride back to the flat at night.
My last day in Milan I started off with walking around the city with Lee, the other couch-surfer. We found a pizza place in the perfect location. I mean…check out my view for lunch.

  Not to mention this was the best pizza eveeeerrrr.

It was a relaxing day. I spent it with my feet in the Fountain of Piazza Castello, wandering the main shopping streets, and spending money on clothes I shouldn’t have. AKA: successful last day. AmIRite?  

Ciao, Milano. Thank you for the many calories burnt from walking the city, and the many calories gained back eating your hard-to-resist pizza. 

See you again. 

Benvenuto a Milano // Welcome to Milan.