Tips

One Simple Way To Make Better Decisions

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

Yesterday, I signed up for my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. This exciting decision has been a long time in the making, and like any big decision, not without its fair share of uncertainty.

When it comes to making big choices in my life, I do not often have a crystal-clear, lightning bolt moment that speaks to me and tells me exactly what to do. Whether it’s been deciding where to go to university, or if I should backpack for three months on my own, or move abroad to teach English in a foreign country, for me the process is not always simple or intuitive.

I do believe strongly in intuition, and I’m always working on listening to my gut and choosing the path that feels most right to me. I try to pay attention to what I feel in my body: does it feel exciting or does it make me anxious?

For me however, things that are exciting can also be extremely overwhelming. Things that make me anxious can end up being exactly what I need to do. I’m still working on figuring out which signals are red flags that I should listen to, and which are just par for the course when you’re making the kinds of choices that push you far outside of your comfort zone.

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

Last night when I was turning this decision over in my head, at one point I just Googled “How to make decisions”, and the first result was a TED talk by Ruth Chang. Her talk (which you should really watch) really resonated with me because it articulated something I feel I’ve known and acted on intuitively but never realized it’s what I was doing.

Her idea is that hard choices are hard precisely because both options have major upsides and downsides, making neither necessarily better than the other. She says: it is not that one of the two options is better and we are too stupid to know the difference. Instead, the two options cannot really be compared because hard decisions like these are driven by our personal values, not statistics or objective data.

Her recommendation is to see hard choices as a chance to create our own reasons for making a particular decision. We can use hard choices as an opportunity to express our personalities and become the people that we want to be. 

That was what I subconsciously did when I chose my wonderful university in a vibrant city over the other great one that I also loved the idea of. It’s what I did when I mapped out an itinerary for myself traveling by train through countries in Europe I’d never visited. It’s how I decided to move to another country instead of settling down back home and starting a 9-to-5 job. And ultimately it’s how I decided to travel to the birthplace of yoga in northern India next year to study, even though the idea of it intimidates me.

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

All of the big choices I’ve made in my life have not been immediately obvious to me as the “right” or “perfect” decision. All of them have scared me both before and after I made them. And all of them have led me to exactly where I feel I was meant to be. One of my favorite quotes from Marie Forleo is: “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” You may only know what’s right for you once you start walking down the path, after you make the decision and take the risk.

I know I want to be a person who follows her heart, who does things that scares her, who invests in herself, and who pursues adventure despite uncertainty. These are the things I hope my choices reflect.

The truth is, I am so lucky to have had these decisions to make. I try not to take them or myself too seriously, because as one of my great friends says, “I have no reason to doubt that everything will work out just fine”. After all, it always has so far.

The next time you find yourself faced with a big decision, realize that the answer may not be as simple for you as checking in with your gut, and that’s okay. Try using the choice as an opportunity to make a statement about who you are or who you want to be. See what happens when you make your decisions a conscious blend of intuition and intention. Ask:

What do you want this choice to say about you?

6 Free Helpful Apps for Travelers

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

Travel goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty. Every day you’re traveling, you’re bound to encounter problems you didn’t foresee, which will require creative ideas to solve. There’s no way around the fact that traveling is fraught with changes of plan and a lot of unknowns. But there are ways to make this process easier on yourself when the inevitable issues do arise, and one way is to embrace the magic of technology. We all know how much power and utility are now packed into a device that fits into the palm of our hand. The key is to harness this power in a way that serves you the best. There are countless free apps on the market now which can help make your travel process a whole lot smoother and easier to deal with. Here are my top six recommendations for apps that will make a huge difference while you’re traveling.

Ulmon Guides: City Maps 2 Go

These are far and away my favourite apps for travel. They are comprehensive off-line city maps for most major cities worldwide. The compass function allows you to navigate the city in real time without an Internet connection, a tool that has saved me so much of both time and money. The app often also has the city’s metro system embedded within its map, as well as the descriptions and locations of all major tourist attractions in the area. In fact, there’s not much you can’t search within these apps. They are a very valuable resource for any traveler.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

ICOON Picture Dictionary

Truthfully, I didn’t use this app very much on my trip to Europe, But that could have been because I was mostly traveling through cities that get a lot of tourism and thus have a fairly good grasp of English. However, as I start to plan my travels in Southeast Asia, I can see this app coming in handy a lot more often. It is in essence a digital version of a Point-It dictionary with pictures of lots of things you might find the need to ask for such as bathrooms, a telephone, or where you can get the best massage in the city. If you’re going somewhere with a language barrier, this could be a lifesaver.

Oanda Currency Converter

This is the app I use to check exchange rates wherever I am. If you don’t have an Internet connection it will tell you that you need one, but in my experience you are able to search off-line, if not with the most real time exchange rate available. There are some currencies I have found difficult to calculate in my head (some coming to mind are the Croatian Kuna, the Japanese Yen, and even the British pound) which makes an app like this tremendously helpful.

Kayak or Momondo

When I was traveling through Europe last year I didn’t know about Momondo so I was using Kayak exclusively to search for cheap flights. I’ve recently fallen in love with the former though, and will probably be using it more often in the future. Both apps scour the Internet to find you the cheapest flight deals to where you want to go. Momondo has a great feature where it will also show you an overall quality score for each flight which combines both price and length of flight.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

Hostelworld

For most of my trip last year, I didn’t know there was a Hostelworld app, and so made all of my bookings online through their website. Hostelworld has always been my site of choice for booking hostels because I find it the easiest to use and that it has the best reviews from other travelers. Their app is easy to use and very straightforward to check reviews and book.

Google Apps

Okay this is more than just one app but these products are so good they’re worth a mention just in case for some reason you don’t have them installed already. When I have an Internet connection I like to use Google Maps, as it tends to know the locations of most of the things I am trying to find even if they’re small businesses or restaurants. If I know I won’t have Internet when I’m navigating the city the next day I’ll usually take a screenshot of the location and then try to compare it to my current location shown on one of my Ulmon maps or in a pre-loaded Google map. I keep all my important travel documents as well as my massive trip spreadsheet stored in the cloud on Google Drive, and can access and edit them from the Docs or Sheets apps. And Google Translate is my service of choice for asking questions in another language, although you do need the Internet to use it.

Honorable Mention:

Rick Steves Audio Europe: Guided audio tours of many interesting historical tourist spots in Europe, including museums. I listened to a lot for Italy, including the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Forum. The guides are really interesting and totally free.

***

These apps have really smoothed out some of the inevitable kinks I’ve encountered while travelling. They’ve kept me from getting lost in Tokyo and spending too much money in London. They’ve helped me keep track of restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam from fellow travellers and book good, cheap accommodation on the spot.

What’s a great travel app that you would recommend? What was a time that technology has saved you some time or money on your travels?

What to Pack When Moving to Korea to Teach English >> Life In Limbo

Top 5 Most Useful Things I Pack When Travelling

Top 5 Most Useful Things I Pack When Travelling

If you’re anything like me, you do a lot of researching and reading of packing list posts on the internet before you actually pack your bags and go anywhere. But I find that sometimes it can be hard to tell what items on the list will actually be helpful once you’re on your trip and which things you’ll wish you left at home.

So far my only long-term trip has been a 3-month one through Europe, and there are some things I packed with me on that trip last year that I’d wished I left at home and others that I was so happy that I had with me the whole time. Here are the top five most useful things that I packed with me on my backpacking trip (& some honorable mentions!).

1. Packing Cubes

Top 5 Most Useful Things I Pack When Travelling >> Life In Limbo
I always thought that packing cubes were bit of a gimmick, a way for companies to squeeze a little bit more money out of you while adding no real benefit: I was wrong. Packing cubes were the single best addition to my backpack on my trip last year and on every trip since. They’re such an easy and effective way to keep your backpack organized when you’re on the road. You don’t need many, I’d recommend one large, and one medium-sized. Most of the time I use the big one for all my shirts and the smaller one for socks and underwear, but you can of course customize their use depending on what you prefer. I have two of these Eaglecreek packing cubes that are incredibly lightweight and take up literally no space when they’re not being used, but they have totally changed the way I pack to travel.

2. Headlamp

It might seem a bit extreme for a backpacking trip, but if you’re staying in hostels, a headlamp can be your best friend. Most of the time your schedule won’t match up with that of the people sharing your hostel room, so sometimes by the time you get home, an early bird may have already turned off the lights for the night. While some of the more modern hostels now have individual bed lights, many do not. Take it from me: rummaging around in your bag in the dark trying to find your toothbrush while not making any noise is a nightmare, and you should never be that person who turns on the overhead light after everyone else is already asleep. The flashlight function on your phone will work in a pinch, but I tend to prefer having my hands free.

3. Smart Phone

Top 5 Most Useful Things I Pack When Travelling >> Life In Limbo
Having a device that can connect to Wi-Fi makes any travel experience that much smoother. While I was travelling in Europe I used my iPad mini for almost everything: finding directions, reading books, booking hostels, sending e-mail, blogging, FaceTiming, storing photos and navigating new cities. Of course it doesn’t have to be an iPhone or an iPad, but something that can connect to the internet and has helpful apps available for download is a tremendous help while you’re traveling.

4. Quick-drying towel

These might seem more suited for a camping trip and are not the most fashionable items on the market, but they are worth their (not very significant) weight in gold. There is nothing worse than carrying a damp towel around in your backpack, especially if it’s also big and bulky. Look for a towel that is close to full-sized, folds up small and doesn’t weigh much. This is the one that I used on my backpacking trip. You can hang these out on the end of any hostel bunk bed and they’ll be dry by morning. Bringing your own lightweight towel is also wise economic decision because although you can rent towels from almost any hostel, the cost of renting them quickly adds up.

5. Combination lock and/or suitcase lock

I very nearly left my lock at home, thinking that any hostel with a locker would also have locks. I’m so glad I brought it though, because while many hostels have lockers, they don’t always have locks, or they charge you to rent them, which again can add up. I carried both a classic combination lock and a smaller suitcase lock with a key, and was glad I had both. If you only have room for one, I’d probably recommend Samsonite Luggage 3 Dial Travel Sentry Combo Lock, Black, One Size“>a good combination suitcase lock as some of the lockers in European hostels are very small and some can’t even accommodate a classic lock.

Top 5 Most Useful Things I Pack When Travelling >> Life In Limbo

Honorable Mentions:

  • Collapsible water bottle: This was such a lifesaver on my trip. It saved me a lot of money by not buying bottles of water, and collapsed down as it emptied so it could fit in my purse most of the time.
  • Ziploc bags: I bring several. Smaller ones to hold things like memory cards and pens, larger ones to protect books or journals from possible water damage, and even bigger ones for damp bathing suits or dirty laundry. I adore Ziploc bags.
  • Earplugs
  • Diva Cup (for ladies): once you get the hang of using one, there’s no going back. Easy, clean, lightweight – perfect for travellers.

What do you make sure to never leave home without? Is there anything that you’ve packed on your travels that have made your backpacking life easier?

Q&A: How to Edit a Podcast in Garageband

How To Edit a Podcast in Garageband

After writing my post about starting a podcast, I wanted to create a walk-through of how to edit together a simple podcast, especially if you have more than one audio file to mix, want to add a jingle, or create an introduction.

For our podcast, we recently began using a system that is totally free but gets us better audio quality for our listeners. It’s outlined in detail on this blog, but the basics are:

  • We talk to each other using a program like Google Hangouts or Skype.
  • We all wear headphones while recording.
  • Each person records their audio on their own computer using a simple voice recorder such as Garageband or Quicktime, which is what I use. The resulting audio doesn’t pick up the other people’s voices, so each one is crystal clear and it is easy to synchronize them.
  • The editor blends the 2+ files together using an audio editor such as Garageband and exports to create a single mp3 file.

This process, while it seems complicated, is actually really straightforward to put into practice. But if you’re just starting out on your podcasting journey (yay you!) then I’d encourage you to just use whichever system is easiest and most straightforward for you, even if that means simply recording the other person talking through your computer’s speakers. We used an inefficient, roundabout method that was not ideal until only about a month ago! The important thing is to just start, and add in the more complex things later. If you’re ready to take your podcast to the next (albeit still fairly simple and straightforward) level, then check out this little tutorial.

The video walkthrough is about 11 minutes long, and contains a step-by-step of how I edit a podcast from start to finish. You will see how to synchronize two separate audio files and export a finished podcast. I try to include lots of helpful tips such as how to fade out different parts of your audio, add a jingle to your intro and outro segments, work with different file formats, and add a beep if you accidentally swear. You’ll also get a chance to see how the various controls on Garageband are used and an idea of the settings I work with to create the best files I can. The tutorial is specific to the built-in Mac application Garageband.

I hope you find it interesting and helpful, and as Seth Godin would say “most of all, I hope you do something with it.”

Thanks for watching!

If you have any questions for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments below or through Twitter or Instagram.

Scroll to Top