Advice

Q&A: How to Blog While Backpacking

How To Blog While Backpacking

How easy has it been for you to blog so far [while you’ve been travelling], especially with just an iPad Mini? If you don’t mind me asking, which app are you using to help you blog?      -Jan

I got this question in a comment and answered it already, but I thought it was definitely worth expanding on in a full post.

While I was away on my trip, I used blogging as a way to keep my family and friends back home updated with what I was up to. Since I wasn’t sending out lengthy emails and was constantly on the move, blogging felt like an efficient way to keep everyone in the loop. Also, since I’ve been writing about my life online for almost ten years (before this blog I was on WordPress, and before that Livejournal, ha!) it feels more unnatural not to blog at this point. Whenever I go too long without using words and photos to express myself, I start to feel lost and out-of-sorts. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:

Choose a way of documenting your trip that works for you.

How To Blog While BackpackingBlogging on the road can be kind of challenging at times. Since I’ve been blogging for so long, I know how to fix typos from my phone, and how to easily edit the back-end html of my posts if something doesn’t look right. I’ve had lots of practice with typing out blog posts and hitting publish, so in general it doesn’t take me very long to write new content. But if it’s brand new for you as you start your trip, you might get frustrated along the way and give up if it starts to suck up too much of your time. After all, you’re on a trip to experience brand new parts of the world, not to sit around in internet cafes hitting your head against the proverbial wall because your latest post just went up in a puff of smoke.

But I think documenting is so important! Preserving memories is such a great way to process and appreciate them, and of course to have them for later. So that’s why I would definitely recommend looking at different types of documentation if blogging isn’t your thing. In the past, I’ve kept a scrapbook on trips, similar to Austin Kleon’s tour notebook. When a friend of mine went on an exchange to France, she wrote weekly emails to her family and friends that were full of anecdotes and photos. A lot of people I met on my travels were keeping a photo blog on Tumblr, and others are just consistent about uploading photos to Facebook or Instagram with detailed captions. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a method you’re comfortable with that’s easy for you to keep updated, and remember to:

Keep it simple!

When I was blogging on my trip, the whole process consisted of uploading photos to my Flickr account, pulling them into a blog post, and adding a few paragraphs worth of memories and favourite places I’d visited. I didn’t include any links, I rarely wrote captions for the photos, and sometimes I wrote very little. But the pictures spoke for themselves and I was happy to just get everything written down and shared with my loved ones back home. Almost one year later almost 100% of the names of all the restaurants and areas I loved in each city have disappeared entirely from my mind, but I would have been devastated to lose them forever. My sister spent this past semester gallivating around Europe and she was able to visit several of my favourite places because I got them written down in this simple form.

It reminds me a lot of one of my favourite sentiments: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” meaning done is better than perfect.

Pick good tools.

How To Blog While Backpacking

For the record, blogging from my iPad mini was totally fine. Definitely at times I missed having a full keyboard and some other features I like to use on my computer, but since I kept my posts so simple it wasn’t usually a problem. I realize that an iPad isn’t a traditional thing to bring backpacking and that it’s definitely a specialty item. Mine was a graduation gift from my father and I wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my own otherwise. But regardless of what technology (if any) you bring, you can still blog.

If you’re using a tablet, I would recommend buying an SD card reader for your device. This lets you totally sidestep the need to put photos from your camera onto a computer and saves you a ton of time. My card reader sometimes had a few issues but most of the time got the job done and couldn’t have been simpler to use. I have this iPad-specific one, but I’m sure there are similar products for other tablets.

I absolutely adore the Blogsy app. This one is specific for iPad, but I have also had great experiences with the WordPress app which is available on many different platforms for both phones and tablets. My favourite feature of Blogsy is that you can pull in photos from other social media platforms like Flickr and Instagram. Since I don’t have a mouse for my tablet, this drag-and-drop feature made my life a lot easier.

Before I received my iPad as a gift, I was planning to blog using only my phone and computers at hostels or internet cafes. If you choose this option, just make sure you bring a USB stick to keep your photos on and either a USB SD card reader to attach to the computer or your camera’s USB cord in order to upload your photos. I think this is definitely a good option as long as you test your tools before you leave and remember to keep it simple!

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I hope that helps! I absolutely love reading and looking at accounts of people’s travels, and I always say the more blogs the better. Memory keeping can be so valuable, so long as it doesn’t interfere too much with making the memories themselves.

If you have any more questions on this or any other topic, let me know in the comments or by email: stephanie @ lifeinlimbo.org. And if you have had success blogging while travelling, I’d love to hear your method! Add your thoughts to the conversation in the comments below.

Dealing With Feelings Post-Graduation + An Update On My Life in Korea

DSC_0160Somehow it’s been over a year since I graduated from university and since then I’ve had a roller coaster’s worth of highs and lows. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, and to have found opportunities that I didn’t realize would be possible for me. I also spent several months working at a job that required me to serve people through a drive-through window in -25C weather while living back at home after 4 years of living on my own. Needless to say, in the past year I’ve felt on top of the world and I’ve felt totally distraught. I’ve felt hopeful and hopeless. I’ve felt confident and I’ve felt totally unsure of myself. I’ve felt so, so close to my loved ones at times, and at others I’ve felt very distant and lonely.

For me though, the good has far outweighed the bad. Even at my lowest points I still felt generally loved, supported, and grateful. Life has brought me wonderful experiences and opportunities that I never could have predicted or expected and that’s a pretty exciting thing. The past year has taught me so much about choice and acceptance and gratitude and being humble and staying positive and taking care of myself. It’s been difficult at times, but it’s also been so exciting to feel like I’m growing and making progress.

I try to be transparent on this blog and in my life because I think it serves precisely no one to pretend that everything is always great all the time. As you know, for the past three months I’ve been teaching English at a private school in South Korea. Yesterday, my boss told me that our school is closing down at the end of July. Everything is still very uncertain and confusing, but the gist is that I need to find a place to live and get a new job.  Yesterday I was mostly panicking, my brain going a mile a minute trying to figure out what my options were. I also spent quite a while in denial, hoping I’d wake up from a bad dream, and a bunch of time feeling sorry for myself. Today, I’m alternating between feeling totally overwhelmed and feeling like it’s going to be okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset and I’m still scared. Living in a country where you don’t speak the language is hard at the best of times and this, safe to say, is one of the worst things that can happen for a foreign teacher abroad…and I say that without any self-pity. And I know that it could be worse – some teachers get only a few days notice before their school closes, or turn up to find the school shuttered – in the grand scheme of things, my situation is better than some.

There is a lot I still need to figure out, but: I’m okay. I think I’m going to be okay. I think (I hope) that everything is going to work out. I can’t help but think that if this had happened to me right after graduating university I wouldn’t have been as well equipped to handle it. I’m proud to say that I haven’t completely fallen apart. After a minor panic attack in the bathroom, I reached out to my friends and acquaintances and asked them to put out feelers for me. I’ve been feeling all the crazy feelings I’m having (and I’m having lots of them) and putting them all out into the open where they seem smaller and sillier. I’m trying to square my shoulders and say “abundance abundance abundance” over and over and over to myself. I decided pretty early on that I was going to try to make this work, on my own terms.

I still don’t know how things are going to pan out. Like I said, there are lots of feelers out there, plus I’ve been researching lots of positions on the job boards and I’ve already heard back from one employer. I don’t know what my life is going to look like in two months, but this is a good reminder that nothing is ever certain or guaranteed. One year after graduating, I’m proud that I’ve grown into a person who knows she has a choice to either wallow and wring my hands or to react as gracefully as I can muster and take action.  I know that I can make the choice to be strong and generous instead of indulging the part of me that badly wants to use this as an excuse to be petty and small and selfish and to eat a lot of ice cream – which, let’s be honest, I still might do. I don’t always make the right choice every time, but I’m trying my best.

We recorded this episode of the podcast yesterday morning, before I found out that my school was closing. We talked about handling weird feelings that come up after graduating from university and going out into the “real world”. Little did I know the real world was going to feel so much more real in only a few hours!

The situation is scary and uncertain, but I’m trying to feel confident and to have faith even though I feel pretty overwhelmed. It helps that all my loved ones have nothing but confidence in my ability to handle this and to figure it out. They believe in me more than I believe in me, and while it’s hard to take their word for it, I’m trying. I’m trying to stay calm and fake it til I make it. Stay tuned.

Inspiration | May 23

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Instant perspective when you’re having a bad day.

My new favourite Instagram account, if only because it’s trying to expose all the fake, perfectly curated lives that we see on social media. I’ve personally been thinking about this a lot lately and it’s been bothering me more and more. “People buy a box of macarons, or doughnuts, or an ice cream. They photograph it in front of some big landmark, like the Eiffel Tower and it’s like, Boom, I’ve got a successful Instagram post!”

A few years ago, one of our favourite restaurants in Montreal, Nantha’s, closed down. Happily, the chef Nantha Kumar is back! My friend Jake wrote a great profile of him and what he’s been up to, and it made me want to be back in Montreal again, pronto. Summers in Montreal are magic on another level and the article gave me big pangs of nostalgia. This will be the first summer in 3 years that I won’t spend in that beautiful place.

Dylan wrote about our beautiful sunset cruise last Sunday and simultaneously coined the term “sunset gratitude” which I couldn’t love more if I tried.

I don’t think I’ll ever need to stop reminding myself of this sentiment. “Let’s all say, “way to go” more often. Let’s be proud of each other, proud of ourselves and most importantly, content with the gift of our lives, right now and in this moment. It’s all too short and too fleeting to spend one more moment thinking you’re anything less than amazing.”

I’m sorry, but Joy the Baker made fancy jello shots. (I’m not sorry.)

Automating your life + batch processing = more time for the things you really care about. Awesome advice for mastering your mornings and your life.

“Don’t be cool. Ask stupid questions. Stay up late.” Yes and yes.

Two Instagram accounts I’ve been loving lately: @lerause is a friend of mine from when I lived in Montreal, and he takes such stunning photos of the city. @bakersroyale_naomi posts photos of food that make me feel like the cookie monster.

Some oldies-but-goodies: heart-shaped nail art (for your wall, not your fingers), today be gentle.

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This weekend is shaping up to be a quiet one. I’ll be starting it off with some beach yoga (I’m so glad it’s becoming a routine for Saturday mornings), and maybe trying to learn how to surf! You can see what I get up to as always by following me on Instagram @lifeinlimboblog. Have an awesome weekend!

PS. I’m re-starting my monthly newsletter! It’ll go out by email on the last Friday of every month with the highlights from that month on the blog. If you’re not usually a frequent blog reader, this might be a good option for you if you want to see what I’m up to. You can join the newsletter here and when you do I’ll send you a copy of my Happy Life Manifesto! Thanks for reading.

Inspiration | May 16

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This article listing 33 Amazingly Useful Websites kind of blew my mind. Some I knew about, some don’t seem that helpful for me, but some are just awesome.

Some very sage, practical advice for writers. I immediately sent this article to two of the writers I know because it seemed like a must-read.

We all always want to make big drastic changes, but most of the time what we really need are small, baby changes, one thing at a time. An excellent reminder.

Laura told me I was “winning” at this list, which is a huge compliment but I don’t think totally accurate. It’s good advice though, full of things that I think all us 20-somethings should strive towards. I’m definitely trying!

Tips on getting rich quick. It’s not what you think (it’s better).

Such a good, much-needed perspective on not shopping while travelling: “In general, shopping takes us into a mindset of “lack”. We go into a mode of “needing” something, of fear that we’re missing out on something. We can spend an entire day in changerooms and High Streets that could be anywhere, frantically on a mission.” I’ve fallen victim to this kind of mindset while travelling before, and I’ll be sure to keep it in mind next time I’m on a trip.

I listened to another old but excellent episode of the TED Radio Hour this week about millennials and how they (we) might be the next greatest generation. It talked about doing good, meaningful work and making your own jobs.

I liked reading about what mothers want to teach their kids. It seems like stuff we should all keep in mind: get enough sleep, treat ourselves with kindness, be grateful, talk about hard things.

This A-Z of Dance was super cool and well done.

Joy the Baker talked about her new cookbook this week! She inspires me big time, all the time. That title! That cake!

Some things I want to make + eat: best vegan nachos | strawberry rhubarb crisp bars | coconut date shakes.

Two Instagram accounts I loved this week: @cahmun (absolutely gorgeous food photos) and @8ruecaffarelli (a perfect-looking pastel life).

Some oldies-but-goodies: zucchini fritters for what ails ya, a few books for summer.

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This weekend I’m doing some beach yoga and going to my first Korean baseball game, which should be a ton of fun! You can see photos from my adventures by following me on Instagram @lifeinlimboblog. Have an amazing weekend, everyone!

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