Tag Archives: Travel Blog

How a Video Game Inspired Me To Visit a Certain Country


Many of you already know that I have a pretty deep fondness for Nepal. But what most of you don’t know is how and why I chose to visit there in the first place.

Well, the answer is kinda amusing.

You ever heard of this video game?


It’s called Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a universally praised title developed by Naughty Dog that originally released for the PlayStation 3 system in 2009.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s about a world explorer (like me!) named Nathan Drake who gets caught up in an Indiana Jones-style adventure across the world, trying to obtain a lost treasure before a group of international baddies get their grubby hands on it. Of course, this game is right up my alley, so I had to play it. It also doesn’t hurt that it is one of the best-reviewed video games in history. Play it if you haven’t!


One of the game’s chapters led me (Nathan Drake) into a fictionalized, battle-bruised version of Kathmandu, Nepal. I’ve heard of Kathmandu before, but I knew absolutely nothing about it. But I have to hand it to the game designers, they made Kathmandu feel engrossing (even with all the rubble) and after playing through the chapter, it sparked an interest in actually going there.

I googled Kathmandu and did an image search and was happy to find that the developers of the game were faithful in recreating Nepal as accurate as possible: the colorful prayer flags strung across the old, almost crumbled brick buildings, the temples, the lighting, the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. Everything was just like I’ve seen from the images.

This is what part of Kathmandu looks like today…


…before Naughty Dog created a fictionalized battle-beaten version.


That yellow taxi even looks like the ones I caught while I was there!

Suddenly, Nepal skyrocketed to the top of my list of countries I must explore.

I made the decision then and there. I had to go.

About a year or so later, I booked a flight to Nepal and worked with an organization in Kathmandu to volunteer at a school in Pokhara. And from there, the rest is history. It sounds a bit farcical and cliche to say this, but it changed my life forever. For the better.

It’s crazy to think that if I’ve never played that game, then I probably would never have gone to Nepal. At least not so suddenly. It was never really on my radar until the moment I blew up bad guys with a grenade launcher in the middle of Kathmandu.

Thank you, Naughty Dog.

P.S – There are two amazing sequels that have also been critically praised. I have yet to play the fourth but will do so whenever I find the time.

Has anything unorthodox ever inspired you to visit a specific place? Please let me know! 🙂


This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

You would think that after almost a decade of travels, I would be a travel pro.

I’m no amateur, but I wouldn’t consider myself a master in the art either. I still make costly mistakes.

Stupid ones.

I recently went on a 20-month long trip around the world to every continent and made a ton of mistakes regarding expenses. I do learn from my mishaps, but then I go ahead and make new unforeseen ones. It’s like a never-ending cycle. I also learned a lot of neat ways to save money during these adventures that I will highlight on a future post.

Always remember this: There is no such thing as a perfect way to travel adventurously around the world. That’s what makes it an adventure.

With that said, during my recent trip I jotted down all of the costly mistakes I made while traveling along with tips on how I could have prevented it. I hope my blunders set an example of budget mistakes you can avoid on your next adventure.

Missed my flight from Dubai to Tajikistan because I didn’t have a visa. -$400

United Emirate Airlines wouldn’t let me board my flight to Tajikistan because I didn’t apply for a proper visa to enter the country. I guess I missed the part about having to apply for a visa in advance. Whoops.

This almost happened again for my Brazil tourist visa. Thankfully, there was a Brazilian embassy in Cape Town, where I was situated at the time. Dodged that bullet!

Always, always remember to check the visa conditions for a country far in advance. In Tajikistan’s case, US citizens need to apply for one in advance and pick it up at the airport.

Went to the wrong bus station by accident in Germany. -$25

I needed to get to Cologne, but I went to the wrong freaking bus station. You should have seen me wandering around trying to find my bus that didn’t exist. I later checked the reservation email on my phone and found the address to the correct bus station listed at the bottom of the email.

I had to catch a more expensive train to another bus station, to catch the connecting bus I already booked prior.

Do read your email reservations carefully. Many travel reservations will have the direct address of where you need to be.

Ignored flight alert from South Africa Airways. -$340

This was pure procrastination on my part. While walking across Spain, I received an email alert from South Africa Airways that my credit card didn’t go through for my flight to Johannesburg in a few months and that I needed to contact them soon. I ignored it, thinking I would get to it later. Well, I ignored it for too long!

When I later tried to rebook the flight, my original departure was filled up. Thus, I had to book a new, more expensive ticket on an earlier date than I planned for.

Don’t put things like this off or it may deter your travels. If you get an alert from an airline saying to contact them immediately, then do it immediately!


This is me kissing my hard-earned cash goodbye!

Took an Uber to the wrong terminal in Mumbai. -$10

This is another example of not carefully reading my email reservations. It clearly stated to go to Terminal A on the bottom of the ticket. I didn’t see it until my driver dropped me of at Terminal B and I was wondering why I couldn’t find my airline. No problem. I ‘ll just walk to Terminal A.

Sounds simple enough if Terminal A wasn’t all the way on the other freakin’ side of the giant airport. I had to catch a taxi to get there.

Another case of reading your email reservations carefully. For flight reservations, check and see if there is any text imprint about which terminal you should depart from.

Accidentally stuck the wrong Aussie note into a ticket machine. -$30

I just landed in Melbourne from Tasmania. I needed to catch a train into the city. I went to the ticket machine to load up my Myki card (the cards locals use to get around on public transportation) and instead of putting in a smaller note, I accidentally stuck in a $50 note and I couldn’t get it back! There was no way I was going to be using this card all that much unfortunately. I used only about $20 of it. I gave my Myki card away to a backpacker I met in India who was on his way to Melbourne.

This I could have EASILY avoided if I just paid attention to what the heck I was doing. To be fair, it was an Australian note, which I wasn’t used to. Not a great excuse, I know.

Familiarize yourself with foreign currency. It can be confusing.

I have cheap friends. -$30

During my birthday in Nepal, my friends were so broke that I bought THEM drinks.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to be the only drunk one…That’s just no fun.

Don’t have cheap friends.

Dropped new iPhone into ugly water in Fiji. -$1,100

This was my biggest budget blunder I made during my trip and it happened fairly early into it.

I had my new iPhone I just bought a few months ago slung around my neck in a waterproof shell. I stood on the top of a cliff on a gloomy day, ready to rope swing into a pond of poopy looking water. I knew darn well that the day was unfit for recording any awesome footage, but so I went anyway. I rope-swung into the poop water and as I fell in the air, my iPhone came loose around my neck and landed into the water as I plunged into it. I quickly surfaced to try to retrieve it, but the water was so brown and 15 meters deep. I couldn’t see nor even attempt to get it.

It was still early into my trip. I needed to have a phone and more importantly, I needed my music. I had to buy a new iPhone in Suva, Fiji’s capital which costed me way more than it did at home in the States.

I still kick myself for that one.

Don’t be a dingus like I was. Sometimes it’s not worth risking your expensive gadgets. Think about it first. I knew perfectly well that there was no need to have my phone with me that day. My gut told me to leave it behind, but no. I just had to show off.

Wasted Airbnb’s in South Africa. -$300

I left too much in the hands in one my travel buddies. I left it to him to book our Airbnb’s in South Africa and boy did he splurge. The accommodation’s looked stunning…but perhaps too stunning and way too big for just three of us. I knew this from the get go. We would spend most of the time out and about and wouldn’t be able to properly utilize our accommodations. Now if it were a larger group of us to split the costs, then yes, I’d be all for it. The other third traveler in this group and I were fine with being in hostels, which turned out to be a lot more fun.

To be fair, my friend did ask us for our permission and thoughts before he booked them. My gut was telling me to say no because it would be pointless, but I let it be. My own fault for not speaking up.

His budget was only for South Africa. My budget was for the whole world.

If someone in your travel group is being too extra and wants you to be extra too, then let them know because we all have different budgets.


There’s no doubt this pricey place was amazing. But we were barely there and it was way too big for just three people.

Bought wrong type of visa in Zambia and Zimbabwe. -$30

Victoria Falls is claimed by both Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. A buddy and I went to Zimbabwe to visit the falls, not realizing that the fun part of the falls was on the Zambia side. By fun part, I mean swimming in a pool on the edge of the waterfall. We couldn’t miss this so we repaid for another visa to get us back into Zambia and then back to Zimbabwe. Then we had to cross back into Zambia the next day to catch a flight. I never crossed a border so much in such a short amount of time.

Once again, pay attention to visa requirements and also do your research when booking excursions on your own. Being that Victoria Falls was in both countries, we should have checked which side had access to the pools.


Total Amount Wasted (in USD) = Approximately $2,265+


I put the “+” because I’ve made a ton of smaller scale mistakes, among these bigger budget blunders. Like accidentally using my non-travel credit card on a foreign purchase resulting in foreign transaction fees, getting ripped off while bargaining, etc.

Heed my advice and avoid my mistakes well for your own adventures! If you made any costly blunders on your own and would like to share, then please do!

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A Backpacker’s Guide to Mzoli’s Meat in Cape Town

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Imagine this.

You’re in a scant South African township in the far outskirts of Cape Town. You and a few of your friends go there to attend a braai (bbq) in the middle of the township. Only this braai isn’t your typical braai. There, you eat boxes and bowls full of deliciously grilled and sauced up meat with your bare hands while deep South African house and marimba music jam out in the background to mobs of vibrant dancing and celebrating. The libations and springbok shots are aplenty. The music is pumping. The meat is plentiful. And the guests there are a mix of locals and international tourists from all around the world, together under one large red tent simply having a good time.

It’s called Mzoli’s and it’s happening somewhere special in Cape Town. And after personally experiencing it on a handful of joccasions, I have outlined for you the best guide to experiencing this the proper Mzoli way.

What is Mzoli’s? 

Some pronounce it as em-zoh-leez, fewer as miz-oh-lies, but I, along with most other people pronounce it as miz-oh-leez. 

A man named Mzoli Ngcawuzele began the tradition more than a decade ago in the township of Gugulethu in Cape Town, South Africa. Basically, it’s a South African BBQ (braai), but turned up quite a few notches. Mzoli’s restaurant is all about the people, the rhythmic South African house music, the drinks, and most importantly the “Tshisa Nyama” (braai meat)! It has become so popular throughout the years that international tourists in addition to Capetonian locals began popping up year after year to be a part of this unique experience.

When To Go

First and foremost, plan on going only on a Sunday.That is the day when Mzoli’s is most alive. I went there on a Wednesday once and it was absolutely dead. Sunday is the day to attend, year round. It’s still very possible to go during the day during the week but then you’ll be missing out on the true experience.

Mzoli’s Butchery is open every day from 9am to 6pm. However, the tent stays open later.

I usually get there around noon in order to make sure I have a table ready for my friends and I before it becomes packed with guests. It’s first come, first serve here. I normally leave no later than 6pm. Since you are a tourist in the middle of a township, it’s the safest idea to leave before it gets dark.


Getting There

Getting to Mzoli’s is simple. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Cape Town.Simply take a taxi or better yet, an Uber. Taxi drivers are used to taking passenger’s there, as well as Ubers. When using the Uber app, Mzoli’s in Gugulethu pops up as a drop-off location on the map. I personally wouldn’t drive myself there. There isn’t anywhere suitable to park. Plus, it can be a tad dangerous leaving your car parked in the middle of a township.

Leaving Mzoli’s is another story. If you have data service, requesting an Uber is simple, but without service, you must simply find a taxi service. Taxis are usually located nearby the premises. Like I mentioned earlier, its best to leave the area well before it gets dark. Another option is to ask your previous taxi or Uber driver to pick you up from there at a certain time. You’d be surprised how willing they are to help.

Cost and Fees

The cost to enter Mzoli’s is 20 Rand (as of 2017).

You pay this fee in the meat shop directly next door to the main tent. The cashier will give you a receipt. Take this receipt to the security guy at the front of the tent entrance and he will stamp your hand for admittance. Now, you are free to come and go in and outside the tent as much as you please. Just show your stamp upon re-entry each time.

Mainly mixed drinks and shooters are served at the two small bars located inside the tent, but it is allowed to bring your own drinks from outside. There is a small bottle shop about three minutes walk just a block or two from the main tent. Ask someone nearby for easy directions (I also provides a map below), but know that they may want to escort you there and then ask for a tip at the end. It’s safe just to go on your own. Just mind your belongings.

I typically go to the bottle shop and buy a couple bottles of red along with packs of beer to save some money.

Now you need some ice to keep your beer or even your wine cold. Next door to the meat butchery is a convenience store. There you can buy bags of ice, along with other snacks and goodies if you wish. Ask for an extra bag to store your ice or even better yet, you can ask for a cardboard box from the aforementioned bottle shop. You may even see some locals on the corner selling cardboard boxes if you wish. It may be worth it in order to store your ice and booze comfortably.

I found the maps on Google pertaining to Mzoli’s to be a tad outdated, so I customized it to make it current:

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 4.53.34 PM.png

1= Actual location of Mzoli’s

2=Convenience store

3=Local bottle shop to pick up cheap booze in bulk. You cannot actually enter the store. Instead, tell the woman inside at the counter what you would like and she will fetch it for you.


Note: In between 1 and 2 is another small bar where you could pick up beer and wine which is just a touch more expensive.

Right outside of the Mzoli’s tent is a stand selling modified glass bottles customized into cool drinking chalices. There you can buy a glass for your wine. The prices start at R10 and go slightly up from there.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Ordering Your Meat

Sorry vegetarians, meat is the only thing served here and it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to grill, if not a little longer depending on how busy it is. I found it more enjoyable to wait a little into the day, maybe around 3pm before going inside the meat shop to order the meat. Try not to forget! Then in about an hour, go back into the kitchen with your ticket to retrieve your bowl of your delicious barbecued meat!

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Take it back to your spot in the tent and chow down! No utensils are necessary. Eat with your hands!

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

You have a variety of meats to choose from: sausages, chicken, steaks, ribs, and lamb fillets. Just point, mix and match if you want, and the butchers will weigh everything on a scale for pricing.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

Once you receive your container of raw meats and sauce…


…take it to the back of the kitchen and deliver it to the hard-working grill masters. They’ll keep your order separate from the rest and prepare it especially for you. Keep the ticket they give you.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

If you’re really hungry, order a little more than you think because drinking and dancing all day in the tent works up an appetite and there is nowhere else around to get more food. Plus, grilling will shrink the meat a bit. I always managed to order just enough or not quite enough to satisfy my craving. If you order too much, then other patrons you meet will be happy to share. I’m not exact on how much you pay per kilo, but for a box full of meat, we paid R350 to split between four of us hungry dudes and it was the perfect amount.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu

More Useful Advice

The area on the patio (the narrow section to the back not covered by the tent) is a great place to bunker down when the weather is nice. There is a small under-utilized bar and a few tables to stand, drink, eat, and mingle with other patrons. Mind the sneaky local kids who sometimes put their grabby hands through the uncovered holes in the gate.

mzoli's meat south africa cape town gugulethu


–Avoid the man with the drum. My last few visits, there was always a local man walking in the tent carrying a bongo-style drum. He would then go up to groups of patrons, introduce himself, and tell a story about how he helps the community and then urges you to beat his drums. Then at the very end, he drops the bomb and persistently asks for money. I would just politely say “no thanks” right from the beginning. He claims the money would be used for the community, but my gut tells me otherwise.

Mind your belongings. I’ve never felt to be in any danger while at Mzoli’s but pickpockets are a thing there. On one visit, my friend felt a hand reach into his pocket, grabbing his phone. It happened so quickly that he wasn’t able to catch the culprit. However, out of the several times I’ve been, that was the only incident that occurred within my group while I was there.

There is a restroom facility inside the main tent. Don’t expect much. It gets the job done.

–The woman who sold bottles of wine from her home on the corner of Mzoli’s a few years ago is gone. Sad.

Get there early and stay there all day! Mingle with the locals and the tourists alike and have a fantastic time being a part of such a cool South African experience you can only find in Cape Town.


Mzoli’s is always evolving, so if there is any information I should add on here or modify, please do let me know!

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Top 10 Moments From My Quest to the Seven Continents


I began and ended this quest in ice…

…from the Arctic north of Alaska to the frozen continent of Antarctica. In between the two poles, I largely ventured in warm, subtropical climates. From the East to the West, the journey from the oceanic islands of the South Pacific all the way through across the Atlantic to the eastern coast of South America was enlightening, spur-of-the-moment, and the most adventurous of all my tales.

After a little more than a year and a half of constant travel, I successfully completed my Quest to the Seven Continents: North America, Oceania (Australia), Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, & Antarctica.

These are the TOP 10 Greatest Moments from that journey around the world. 

 From August 2016—February 2018

#11. Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro  (Honorable Mention).

adventure born

I had to include this as an honorable mention because it was just so damn special. Attending New Year’s Eve on the exotic beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been on my ATLAS (bucket list) for years and for good reason; it was truly something remarkable. Coming off the worst hangover of my life (lasting two days!) with a bunch of party-hard backpackers and insane Brazilian locals—I donned in mostly white attire and got silly again with them on on the eve of the New Year. I stood in the shimmering ocean as fireworks were booming and each jump over an incoming wave signaled all the best luck heading into 2018. I was sandy, soaking wet, and buzzed, but on a personal high I haven’t experienced in a long while. Rio delivered to the quest.

(I have yet to publish a post about this moment. Look out for it soon!)

#10. The Gift on the Great Ocean Road


Some of the best moments are the unexpected ones. A few years ago while backpacking through Laos, I met an Australian traveler by the name of Alison who taught me how to ride a motorbike for the first time. Fast forward to November 2017, I still haven’t seen her since. Knowing she lived on the East Coast of Australia, I contacted her and asked if she was around to reunite for a bit. Unfortunately, she was working on assignment in the Middle East.


Completely out of nowhere, she offered her entire home to me while she was away and encouraged me to bring my friends. It was a vacation style house, an utterly perfect luxury abode sitting right at the start of Australia’s Great Ocean Road. I graciously accepted her generous offer, heeded her advice, and invited a handpicked selection of trusted friends who were around the area along. To say our weekend there was a blast would be an understatement. Even more amazing, was the fact that this woman, Alison, whom I’ve only met once in a random country years ago, trusted me with her home. I took great care of it and still plan to one day return the very generous favor to her in some way. This was a very unexpected, yet appreciated compliment to my quest.


#9. Diving With Bull Sharks

Bull Sharks in Beqa Island, Fiji while Scuba Diving

The only thing I wanted to do in Fiji was scuba dive with bull sharks. I got the opportunity on my first day there when a group of scuba divers at a beach house I was staying at randomly asked if I wanted to join on a shark dive the next day. What luck! You would think seeing a gang of ferocious sharks underwater, just a few meters away from you would be terrifying, but not in this case. It was thoroughly mesmerizing in every way. I did three more shark dives in Fiji after that one. One of my most desired travel dreams was accomplished very early in the quest.


#8. Finding A Needle In a Haystack (My Lost Passport in Ukraine)


This can also count as one of my most tense moments during the quest. The lengths I went through to find my lost passport to get out of Ukraine is nothing I will ever just shrug off. The complete language barrier, the bizarre police rides, the mysterious messages from Russian women, the apartment complex puzzle-solving, and of course, the shady man in the trench coat who tried to kidnap me in his alleyway vehicle…I still give myself a gratifying pat on the back for a triumphant ending. When I nearly gave up hope, I miraculously found my passport and was able to leave Ukraine in the nick of time. This quest was not without its trials and this is one unforgettable example of that.


#7. Summiting Annapurna Basecamp


The Himalayas are perhaps the most fearsome mountain range in the world and I wanted to trek it. Not Mount Everest though, I’m not ready for that yet. Instead, I opted for its smaller-scale neighbor, Annapurna Basecamp. A buddy and I trekked up through vivid scenery for nine days until we peaked at 4,190 meters in the cool snow with relative ease. Annapurna Basecamp is the second highest climb I’ve ever done (Kilimanjaro is the first) and the highest summit I’ve conquered on this particular quest.


#6. Lost in Indian Mountains During Christmas


I was sitting in a hostel in Mumbai minding my own business until a local Indian man came up to me and asked if I wanted to hike Fort Torne with him and his friend on Christmas Eve, which was just a day later. I gave an immediate “yes”. Fort Torne was a small mountain range just a few hours bus-ride east of Mumbai where tourists don’t usually go. We left late in the evening and had to sleep on the concrete floor in a small temple at the base of the mountain to avoid wild leopards during their primal hours. We got lost in the pitch black during the hike up which resulted in us sleeping on a random villager’s stack of hay we stumbled across, alongside a stray dog who kept us company the entire night; all while keeping watch of any looming leopards. The next morning, we found our way through Fort Torne. I wanted to do something unique for Christmas, but never could I have expected this. This would have been my favorite Christmas ever, but the Christmas of 1998 still reigns supreme—the year I received a Nintendo 64.


#5. Sparking The Most Colorful War On Sarangkot Mountain


I just so happened to be in Nepal during their Holi Festival. A holiday where everyone celebrates life by throwing colored powder at each other among other traditions like shooting water guns and lobbing water balloons at everyone. Once I found this out, the child in me came all out. I bought a ridiculous amount of colors and water guns, bazookas, balloons, and even silly string and snow spray. I was completely ready to wreak the most colorful havoc on my village and they were prepared as well. It was me versus nearly the entire lot of kids in the area in what was the most polychromatic, rainbow war that I’ll ever participate in…at least until next time when I exact revenge. They completely destroyed me. On that day, Holi Festival became one of my new favorite holidays I was fortunate to experience for the first time ever during this quest.


#4. Walking 500 Miles Across Spain


A friend in Manchester told me about El Camino de Santiago; an 800-kilometer pilgrimage from the France border across most of northern Spain. Many do it for religious reasons. Others do it to find themselves. I did it solely for the challenge. On the way, I met an eclectic range of personalities while walking through whatever the camino threw at me: villages, mountains, highways, forests, cities, farms, grasslands, and the nefarious Meseta region, a hot and dry portion that required all of my mental prowess all while eating rock-hard bocadillos every single day. I completed the camino in 32 days along with the group I met along the way. It was a gracious feeling knowing I could achieve such a major accomplishment to close out the European portion of the quest.


#3. Creating The League of Extraordinary Events


The idea of removing three of my American friends from their normal everyday lives and throwing them into one of the biggest unexpected twists of their lives sounded like complete brilliance. For months, they were certain I was taking them on a special road trip down to Florida. Instead, I pulled the rug right from under their feet by flying them out to Alaska and then immediately to Hawaii to participate in eight extraordinary events and activities I’ve been planning for months. Little did they know that the unknown events involved sharks, icebergs, mountains, booze, ATV’s, rapids, oceans, and so much more. This extraordinary feat kicked off my quest around the world.


#2. Voyage To Antarctica

IMG_1264 2-2-2.jpg

Learning how to sail the Europa, a tall Dutch ship across the infamous Drake’s Passage into the icy wonderland that is Antarctica is arguably my greatest adventure of all time! I’ll never forget stepping foot onto the continent for the very first time, completing the short, yet arduous list of the world’s seven. Over the span of 22 days, I learned the basics of sailing and became a crew member for the Bark Europa vessel. Add on the abundance of wildlife, mountainous glaciers, icebergs taller than skyscrapers, the nights of unavoidable sea seasickness, and the natural beauty beheld…the voyage to Antarctica was truly the ultimate pinnacle of my entire quest.

(I have yet to publish a post about this moment. Look out for it soon!)


#1. Nepal


It was the most heartwarming decision I made on this quest.

The only reason I went back was to fulfill a promise I made two years ago to the class nine students; to take them on a field trip, fully funded by me. If it weren’t for that sole purpose, I probably would have never returned, but I’m so glad I did.

I kept that promise and took that same class, plus a couple other classes on a special trip, but what I didn’t expect was to gain a family while I stayed in the villages in Sarangkot Mountain. I got to know my host families much better this time around and in the process created an unbreakable bond with the people there. I gained a few new “brothers” and never once did I feel like a tourist. I stayed for three months, much longer than I anticipated, and even returned for two more months, just a short time later. I felt completely at peace.

The family foremost culture in Nepal is something I don’t really have back home, I hate to admit.  I always think about the country and how it’s now one of my absolute most favorite places in the world. I already am looking forward to my near future trips to see my “family” and friends there once again. My newfound love for Nepal was the best gift this quest presented me.


Here are some other interesting numbers:

-I visited 26 countries during this quest. Not including airport layovers and transfers. 8 of them are ones I’ve been to before.

-I spent the most time in Nepal (5 months total), which also means I spent the longest time in Asia out of all the continents.

-Not counting being home, I spent the shortest amount of time in North America out of all the continents.

-The longest consecutive time I went without any internet is 22 days.

-I flew on 36 different flights around the world (not yet counting the ones taking me back to Michigan)

-I spent 35 consecutive days without eating meat.

-Out of all of my travels, I’ve been sick the least amount of times during this trip. Only a 24 hour flu and a brief stomach bug. Both occurring in Nepal.

-The absolute worst hangover in my life occurred in Brazil. (Lasted for two days.)

-I learned to say basic phrases in 6 new languages. (Hello, Thank you, Please, Excuse me, etc)

-I held 6 different phone numbers total during this quest.

-I’ve driven a vehicle in 6 countries during the quest. Only one of them was on the right side of the road.

-Around month number 9 is when I first began to feel travel fatigue.

-I always accidentally receive some sort of semi-permanent scar on my body from a trip. With this quest, I came out unscathed.

-I stayed in a total of 104 different hostels, hotels, lodges, and airbnbs. A bulk of this is from the camino in Spain. This doesn’t include homestays, volunteer houses, and friends homes.

-I vomited in 3 different countries during this quest: Poland (intoxicated), Brazil (very intoxicated), and Antarctica (seasickness) (I’m also counting that as a country).

-“Despacito” and “Shape of You” are by far the two most popular songs I’ve heard during most of the quest in many countries.

-The highest altitude (without flying) during this quest was 4,190m (Annapurna).


And now my watch quest has ended.

What could possibly be next? I have no clue. But, I still have a bucket list to complete…


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What To Do When Your Travel Buddy Sucks At Taking Photos


If you have a budding eye for photography, then this post is for you. 

This usually happens.

I’m often the one in my group of traveling comrades that is the one taking all the photos. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I’d say I have an eye for taking some sick shots of people. All using my expensive camera no less.

Rarely will I ever get someone who is more adept or on par with taking pictures. And when it does happen, man is it such a blessing! Especially when I don’t have to ask. I hate asking for photos of me to be taken. I don’t want to put the burden on others to take five seconds out of their lives to take a photo of stupid me. I’m not worthy.

But sometimes, I have no choice. I MUST get my photo taken by someone else when it absolutely calls for it. Let’s say I want a picture of just myself with the Eiffel Tower in the background. First, I’ll willingly offer or basically tell my travel companions to pose for a shot in front of it. Then right afterward, I’ll ask them if they could get a shot of me doing the same. I could give a crap about their photo. It was all a ploy so I wouldn’t feel as bad for asking of one of me to be taken. I don’t do this often though.

But do you know what grinds my gears more than a crappy photo?

It’s when people ask me for all of my photos at the end of a trip when they haven’t been taking photos at all! I don’t mind sharing, but it’s a two-way street.

If I don’t have a camera savvy friend nearby, then here is how I cope when my travel buddies suck at taking photos:

camera-icon-hi Never Hand Your Camera To An Old Person…

Unless they are rocking one of those gigantic, real fancy DSLR’s around their neck with the zoom lens longer than your arm! Then they obviously know how to work a camera. But in most cases from my experience, many (not all) old folks just aren’t tech savvy like the younger generations. Your photo is probably going to come out of focus or disproportioned.

Take this photo for example…

I took a group shot of my friends in Fiji for this beach scene.


Easy. Focused. Clean. Closeup. 

Then afterward, I mistakenly asked the elderly (but ever so lovely) woman to the far right to take another photo, except with me in it this time.

The result…


Ehhh… Too far away. No worries, yet. Maybe I can crop it to get rid of all the unneeded scene?


Blurry. No Bueno. You get an ‘A’ for effort Karen.

Instead, look for younger people. Couples are a good target because they have experience taking photos of each other all the time.

 camera-icon-hi Take An Example Shot First

What I mean by this is, say I want a shot of me doing something silly somewhere cool. The composition is key, so I need the background to be in a specific position. So first, I’ll take a photo of exactly how I would like the settings, framing, and composition to be and then I will show my friend the photo so they get an idea of how I want it. This usually works out better than not giving them any idea at all.

 camera-icon-hi Set Them Up For Success

Get the camera settings correct before you hand off your camera to someone else. Odds are, they point and click on one automatic setting all the time which is my absolute nightmare. Get the settings straight and make sure they know how to focus on a subject (I’m always baffled when people don’t know how to focus and zoom). It’s pretty straight-forward.

camera-icon-hi Temporarily Switch Cameras

There would be cases where there are two of us taking photos of each other and we won’t have time at the end to exchange photos. So instead, we swap cameras so that way, their camera will be filled with photos of mainly themselves and vice-versa.

camera-icon-hi Don’t Make Them Feel Bad For Taking A Bad Photo…

Unless they are a friend, then I tell them how bad they suck at life. If time permits, I’ll give them a free generic mini-lesson of the basics. Don’t fault kids and elderly folk, or anyone kind enough to take photos for you. Just find someone else.

Take in point, my friend Veronica. She doesn’t get offended by anything I say.

I took a photo of her standing on the edge of this mountain.


“Alright, Veronica. Can you get one of me in the same way?” I thought that me holding a beer high above the city would be so cool!


“Veronica, this is shit. You can’t even see the ocean! This is NOT how I showed you.” So she laughed and tried again.


“Still shit, Veronica. I’m out of focus.”



All it takes is a little training.

camera-icon-hi Get Them In The Mood

To get people in your travel group in the mood to take photos, you can inspire them. Sometimes, once they see the lengths I go through to get that quality photo and then they see for themselves how awesome the photo is, they will inspire to do the same. It has happened for me on many occasions and it’s also a great method for them to get experience.

camera-icon-hi What About The Ones Who Do Take Lots of Photos On Their Own, But The Photos Are Never Good?

Well, all you can do is hope is they don’t post them on any social media. I suppose you can just untag yourself?

I’m talking about the unflattering ones like this for example…


I’m a big fan of candid shots, but Jesus I look like a Goomba.

In cases like this where you do have a travel buddy who takes lots of photos albeit hideous ones, try to inspire them by showing them your own amazing shots. I’ve met loads of professional photographers during my trips who put my own photos to shame. All it did was motivate me to become better at the game.

camera-icon-hi Do It Yourself

Sometimes when there is no one around or when you just don’t trust your travel partner’s photography skills or you also want them in the picture, then find ways to do it yourself. Most cameras have timer modes on them. Some cameras even have features where you can connect your phone to a DSLR as a remote option.

Take here for example…

There was no one around to claim witness to Hamish and I conquering Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. Of course, we both needed to be in the photo. So, I set my camera on a safe patch of snow and connected my iPhone to my Canon wirelessly. And so, I was able to control how the photo looked and was able to shoot with my phone as a remote. You can see the phone in my right hand if you take a closer look.

If you want things done right, then you have to do it yourself.


And there you have it! My advice on how to manage when your travel buddies suck at taking photos. 🙂

If anyone has any input or other pieces of useful tips, please share with me!

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