- December 30, 2014 - 

"You got tired of Hawaii after living there for only one year?"

Well, technically it was only 11 months but one year sounds much better so I say that instead.

But this question has come up again and again as I meet new people in Portland and mention that I just moved here from Hawaii.

"There were a lot of factors" is my go-to response. Usually they don't press on but some people do ask for details. A couple of the reasons I feel comfortable sharing in casual conversation, others I don't.

I'm not an island girl

Yes, Hawaii is literally heaven on earth; my walk to work involved strolling under palms and plumeria trees, on my lunch break I could go for a swim with sea turtles, and then on the way home enjoy a rainbow and an epic sunset.

But I'm an Ohio girl at heart. I crave weather that changes through the year and gives a sense of time. I like going on long road trips and not being stuck on one rock in the middle of an ocean. I like being able to wear layers of clothing, drink tea, and take a hot shower with out feeling like a sweaty mess.

While Hawaii is an excellent place to vacation, it just didn't resonate with who I am as a person and what I need in my life.

My career had no future

I may be young but I'm definitely looking to build a career and I thought I had found the right company to do that with. The company I worked for had plenty of business coming in and was making millions of dollars but our internal team was small which meant it was easy for me to get noticed.

And I did get noticed.

After a couple months I had become close to the founder/owner of our company and he would personally tell me what a great worker I was. I worked my ass off to impress my superiors and started doing things beyond my job responsibilities. At one point I was working from 6 am to 11 pm everyday between running our companies social media, collaborating with our sales department, and even doing construction work in addition to my actual office job. Mind you, this was all while being paid what is basically minimum wage when you consider the cost of living in Hawaii.

So one day I finally went to my manager and directly told her I wanted a raise.

"You are the perfect candidate for a raise. We will definitely consider it!" She replied.

Months passed. I continued to work tirelessly and my pay never changed.

This time I went directly to the owner of the company.

He instantly promised he'd put me on a salary that would double my pay as well as several other bonus checks for my hard work.

Months passed. I still was getting the same paycheck. I became disheartened and jaded. First I stopped doing any thing that wasn't a part of my job description and eventually I started slacking at even the most basic requirements of my job.

I realized that this company had no intention of allowing any employees to grow and make their way up the cooperate ladder. They simply wanted me to stay at the bottom and maybe pick up some extra work while I was at it.

I was so fed up that I quit. Not only quit, I wanted to show how angry I was by leaving the entire fucking island.

I had developed an eating disorder

I actually haven't shared this with anyone until now. In fact, I didn't even realize I had an issue until I started my trip to Asia.

If you've never been to Hawaii you might not be aware that the cost of living is quite high, especially when it comes to food. I got two paychecks a month and the first one would go entirely to my rent. That didn't leave much for eating.

So it began slowly. I started skipping breakfast and only eating lunch and dinner. No treats, just the basics to survive. Soon I became obsessed with money and how I spent it on food. I started equating feeling full with being irresponsible and feeling hungry with being financially sensible.

Eventually I was turning down food, even when it was offered to me for free, and just eating a bowl of rice a day. I didn't realize it but subconsciously I was patting myself on the back every time my stomach growled because it meant I wasn't spending money.

My five weeks in Asia

I'm not going to go so far to say my trip was a life-changing, spiritual adventure but it was definitely fun and eye opening.

Firstly, I got to cross a shit ton of things of my bucket list. My college major was East Asian Studies so it was awesome to go to all these places I had been reading about for years. And I got to use my language skills again which is always fun for a language nerd like me!

Also, I finally recognized that I had an eating disorder and worked to correct this bad habit. I developed a mantra which I would repeat to myself throughout the day: "Feeling full is good! Spending money on food is ok!" I'm happy to say that I have now overcome my eating disorder!

Lastly, I learned that I'm not as much an introvert as I thought. While traveling I began craving human interaction and friendship like I had never before in the past. This trip helped me develop new social skills which allowed me to make friends everywhere I traveled.

A proper write up on my Asia trip will be coming soon!

Life in Portland

The first week of my new life in Oregon was hard. I didn't know anyone here other than one college friend and it was unbelievably cold (for someone coming from Hawaii, anyways). Since adjusting to the weather and the timezone, though, I've been having fun slowly exploring the city.

I'm in a really trendy district which provides plenty of coffee shops and bars to explore and I'm meeting some really fun people. One sunny day I even made a trip out to the coast which was beautiful and was an awesome excuse to eat lots of delicious seafood.

Currently I am still looking for employment but hopeful that it will be happening soon now that the holidays are over. 

If you have any tips for what I should see/eat/do now that I'm in the Pacific North West, please leave your recommendations!

Lately I've been all about living life in the moment. As such, I have horribly neglected my blog so that I could simply enjoy travel without feeling like it was work. Here are some quick shots from my recent travels, starting with Hong Kong.


I'd like for it to be known that my time in Hawaii hasn't been completely spent lying on the beach watching sunsets and rainbows. In fact, I good portion of my time was in an office, working as a reservations specialist for a tour company. My time here has opened up doors to so many opportunities in the travel industry and taught me a lot about travel in general. Moreover, it helped me reflect on myself and learn about my own travel goals.

1//I want to travel while I'm young
Time and time again I was contacted at work with the question "I have a cane/walker/wheel chair, will I be able to do this tour?" or "I get tired easily, are there lots of rest breaks on this tour?"

First of all, congrats to these troopers for getting out there and seeing the world despite their age!

I, however, do not want to be that person.

I want to take advantage of the time in my life when I have nothing physically holding me back. The time in my life when living off of fast food and getting hardly any sleep is fine as long as it means I can save up for a plane ticket. The time in my life when I can jump off a 40-foot cliff. The time in my life when my body can handle trying sketchy street food. The time in my life when I have the energy to go to a museum during the day and party at night.

I could save my money for that day some time in the future but unfortunately that will be a time when I will not fully experience travel as much as I can right now.

2//I want to travel before I have kids
Don't get me wrong, if I ever have kids I intend to make sure they are worldly. I'll raise them with both English and French spoken in the home, their palettes will know foreign tastes from a young age, and, when they're old enough, I want them to see the world too.

However, another question I encountered daily at work was "I have kids, will this tour keep them interested? Do you think they could last on a tour this long?" This was usually followed by exasperated sighs and one woman even admitted "Once you have kids, everything gets more complicated, ya know?"

I'm sure one day it will be great to have children but right now I am not ashamed to admit that I just want to be selfish. At this stage of my life I want to focus my time, energy, and money on cultivating myself before I have to worry about supporting another person.

3//I want to travel when I can afford it
Allow me to rant for a hot second but why the fuck does everyone think they deserve a discount? By far the email/call I receive most often is "Hey I'm booking two/three tours can I get a discount?"

First of all, on a business level that makes no sense. You just admitted to me you're going to buy them anyways so why would I give you a cheaper price? Secondly, if you truly need a lower price, you shouldn't be buying it in the first place.

As one of my favorite quotes by Oscar Wilde so eloquently puts it: “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

Do you really need to buy that expensive tour or can you accomplish that same agenda on your own for a cheaper price? If you like the convenience of a tour then that's what you pay for.

I, however, being a Cheapy McCheapskates know that if I want to make travel a priority in my life then I must be willing to make the sacrifices to afford it which can sometimes take some creativity.

4//My gut has the best instinct
This isn't something I noticed right away. It took months of working a phone line before I understood the pattern. Day after day of people calling in, not to book a reservation but just to chat.

"Hey I kind of have this itinerary idea (5 minutes of explaining their travel plans later) What do you think?"

I couldn't understand this need for people to call for reassurance for a plan they had already quite well created when I realized, how many times have I myself done this very behavior? How many times have I gone on to travel forums, written out my entire travel plan that was already fully fleshed out and researched just to get that encouragement from someone else? At what point did I stop trusting my own judgement?

From now on, I intend to listen to my own intuition more and stop looking for reinforcement from others.

What's something you've recently learned about your travel goals?

When it comes to travel quotes, I tend to see the same ones over and over again. No offense, St Augustine's “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” quote is lovely but there's really no call to action. It's more of a statement than a prompt. 

What I want out of a quote is something that actually inspires me to make a change. That's why the words I find most motivational aren't necessarily about travel and how wonderful it is. They're the ones that make me question societal norms and challenge how I look at life.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Around twenty-five, most people are set on their path and it's not necessarily one they love. They get comfortable and focus on constantly working for the future and not living in the present. Next thing  you know you're grown and missed out on a lot of great opportunities.

Rome, Italy
A reminder not to settle for mediocrity. I could be good at my desk job but will that lead to the best memories when I'm older? Probably not. I'd rather take the chance on doing what truly makes me happy.

Prague, Czech Republic
I think we all know the conventional plan: school, college, marry, buy house, have kids. This is the pre-designed life plan which, while great for some, is absolutely boring to me. 

Have the courage to create your own goals and not just live by everyone else's standards. Most people will think you're crazy for wanting to travel constantly but what does it matter if it makes you happy?

Berlin, Germany
Would you be satisfied with your life if you put off traveling for a year? And what happens when that year passes and you come up with more excuses for why you can't travel? If you truly love traveling, do it today. There's no reason to wait.

Beijing, China
Strongly related to quote number three, let go of the belief that you have to do what everyone around you is doing. Don't compare yourself to others. Just pursue your own life.

Mont Saint Michel, France
This has been my life motto since I came across it. I have a tendency to get stuck in ruts and get conformable. Lately I've been pushing myself to do things that are terrifying. Things that will be a little bit more challenging then just relaxing at home and surfing the internet. Travel is one of those choices that can be terrifying and amazing. I intend to be doing more soon!

What quotes inspire you to travel?

Tomorrow officially marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere. I'm trying my best to feel festive about my favorite season but it's not quite the same living on a tropical island. Everyday is the same; sunshine, blue skies, temperature in the 80's, and a little drizzle at night. Even drinking a pumpkin spice latte doesn't help when you live in an eternal summer.

I miss the fall colors, the smell of leaves, the feeling of being cold, and the excitement in the air that Halloween and Thanksgiving are coming. I'm an Ohio girl and I've gone over 20 years with a clear and defined autumn. Now September has nearly crept away and I never even realized it.

Colorado, I ache for your beautiful, aspen-lined paths.

Kepler Pass, Colorado
Notre Dame, Paris
Red Rocks, Colorado
Road trip through Utah
Graveyard in Le Havre, France
Salt Lake City, Utah
The plains of Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

What's your favorite things about autumn?

When people come to Hawaii, they are typically coming to stay in Waikiki. To clarify, Waikiki is a region in the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu. And to be honest, Waikiki is a city in and of itself. Many people will come to the island and never leave this area and if they do they certainly won't head over to the west side of the island.

The west side of Oahu is very different from other parts of the island. First of all, it gets way less rain and is practically a desert. Two, there are almost no tourist attractions over there. In fact, if you do any tour of Oahu called "Circle Island" it will certainly cut out this chunk. Three, it's known for being the places where "real locals" come from.

Many people do not realize, however, that this is also the best part of the island to meet another kind of locals; dolphins.

Spinner dolphins are one of the four types of dolphins that can be found in the Hawaiian isles though they all go by the name nai'a in the native language. Despite the many myths and stories surrounding dolphins in Western cultures, dolphins are surprisingly absent in Hawaiian history. Which is funny because sharks are actually quite common in Hawaiian mythology and are generally depicted as kind and benevolent towards seafarers. Perhaps there was a translation error somewhere?

After about a 40 minute drive from Honolulu (which is really the longest you can drive on this island without ended up where you started) we arrived at Waianae Harbor. The staff on our small boat are all young and friendly. They give us the basics on how to use our snorkel gear and the boat sets out.

Except we don't really set out to sea. Our boat motors for a couple minutes, just barely out of the harbor, and stops.

'Alright, there they are!"

'Really?' I thought to myself looking back at shore, 'I could swim to here from the beach. There's no way dolphins are just chilling this close to land.'

Putting my faith in the crew, I get my gear together and jump in the water. I look down into the water and, to my disbelief, is a pod of dolphins swimming briskly right below me.

"Now don't swim at them," our guide reminds us, "They're technically sleeping so swimming towards them will trigger their defenses and they'll wake up."

This is a rule I didn't mind abiding as I know how much I hate being woken up. Also, as I mentioned when I did my shark cage dive, I'm all about tourism that considers the health and safety of the animal.

So I did exactly as the guide instructed; watched the patterns of the pod who were in fact just swimming in an oblong circular pattern and then swam to the next point they were going towards rather than swimming after them.

This proved to be a great technique and allowed me to get quite close to the dolphins without disturbing them. And look at that tiny little baby! I think I was living the dream of 8-year-old Aryn.

After snorkeling with the dolphins for a bit the crew gathered us up and boated us over to a 'turtle cleaning station'. I didn't know this would be a part of our itinerary but it was awesome!

All around us were tropical fish, nibbling at the shells of honu (sea turtles) in a beautiful reef. We swam with them for a while before returning to the boat for lunch and paddle boarding. The whole time we swam in the bay I could look out and still see the dolphins coming up for air from time to time.

I am happy to say that this tour is a great option for someone who is looking to see dolphins while traveling in Hawaii. While there are plenty of places to go on Oahu that have captive dolphins, I will continue my practice of only supporting organizations that promote the safety of the animal over monetary profit.

What's your favorite animal encounter while traveling?

This Wild Dolphin Snorkel was done with Discover Hawaii Tours in partnership with Eo Waianae Tours. Mahalo nui loa!

+ Always have a bathing suit with you cause you never know when you're going to find an amazing beach and have an impromptu swim session.

+ You may be tempted to wear tank tops but don't do it! You will surely burn unless it's evening! For the day time, wear a top that covers your shoulders.

+ In Hawaii we have a constant ocean breeze which can make wearing skirts or dresses awkward. Stick to shorts which will give you coverage and keep you cool.

+ Unless you're here for business or intend to do some hardcore hiking, there's no reason to even pack closed toe shoes. Stay comfortable and live in sandals, just like the locals,

What would you wear/pack for a tropical vacation?

Sometimes you just don't know where to go next or where you should be now. Sometimes you can browse the internet and scroll through guide books for hours and just think "What place in the world is right for me? Where do I belong in the world?"

Well, have you ever considered that the stars may have the answers?

Just like people have astrological signs, so do places! Finding a place that coordinates with your sign can help you find balance in certain areas of your life. The first step is to...

Find Your Signs

Most people know their star sign which is the position the sun was in when you were born. When people ask the question "What's your sign?" they're referring to this but did you know you have other signs? In fact, you have one for every planet in the solar system (and the major moons as well!) based on the position of that particular heavenly body when you were born.

So the first step to figuring out where to live based on astrology is to find out your signs for each planet. Here are links for seeing all past and future planetary positions for Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Mercury. To help figure your sign for each planet, I'll use my birthday as an example. I was born April 28, 1991. When figuring out my Venus sign I scroll through the list and find that on Apr 12, 1991 at 7:10 PM, Venus entered the sign of Gemini and remained there until May 8, 1991 at 8:28 PM. Therefor, my Venus sign is Gemini.

Moon sign is a bit trickier as you have to have much more exact details. If you know exactly where you were born and the time you can use this calculator to find your moon sign.

Great, so now you've got all of your signs! So now what do you do with them? Well, first you need to understand...

What Each Planet Rules

If you're into Roman mythology you will probably already have a clue as to what each planet means symbolically as they were each named after a Roman god and thus, assigned the qualities of that deity.

Venus was the goddess of love and sensuality. Travel to places ruled by your Venus sign and you can find love (romantic or friendship). Jupiter was the king of all the gods. Traveling to places ruled by your Jupiter sign will bring you to spiritual enlightenment or push your cultural awareness. Jupiter also represents luck and chance and can be a good place to "start over". Saturn was the god of time. Traveling to places ruled by your Saturn sign will help you learn patience, self discipline, and hard work. Mercury was the god of communication and intellect so visiting countries ruled by your Mercury sign can help stoke your own intellectual curiosity. It can also be a place to amp up your social interactions.

Your sun sign rules your career so these places are where you'll have most success in that area of life. Your moon sign represent emotional well-being, material comfort and home. When picking a place for a permanent move, consider your moon sign.

Colorado falls under my sign of Jupiter which is Leo

Putting the Pieces Together

So now you know your sign that aligns with each planet and what each planet rules. Now it's time to put all that information together and find out which places align with you. Here is a brief list of countries:

Palestine, England, Germany, Poland, Syria, Israel, Lithuania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe
Cyprus, Tasmania,  Ireland,  Capri, Switzerland, Rhodes, the Greek Islands, Cuba, East Timor, Serbia, Tanzania, Yemen
Iceland, Sardinia, Morocco, Tunisia, Belgium, Wales, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guyana, Kuwait, Norway, Montenegro, Tonga
USA, Paraguay, Scotland, New Zealand, Holland, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Burundi, Cape Verde, Columbia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Dijibouti, Kiribati, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia
Afghanistan, France Italy Macedonia, Romania, Sicily, Zanzibar, Bhutan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, The Ivory Coast, Gabon, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Mongolia, Seychelles, Singapore, Ukraine
Crete, Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, West Indies, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Qatar, Tajikistan 
Tibet, Argentina, Austria, Burma, Canada, China, Japan, Siberia, Botswana, China, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iraq, Israel, Lesotho, Nigeria, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Tuvalu, Uganda
Angola, Morocco, Queensland, Korea, the Transvaal, Bavaria, Antigua, Barbuda, Cambodia, Dominica, Latvia, Lebanon, Micronesia, Panama. Turkey, Turkmenistan, Zambia
Spain, Australia, Chile, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Singapore, Bangladesh, Barbados, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania
India, Bulgaria, Mexico, UK, Albania, Afghanistan, Lithuania, India, Bosnia, Brunei, Czech Republic, Haiti, Nauru, Slovakia, Sudan
Iran, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Ethiopia. The Holy Vatican City, Sri Lanka
Normandy, North Africa, Portugal, Samoa, Egypt, Scandinavia, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia 

And also U.S. States:

Maryland, Louisiana, Minnesota
S. Carolina, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wisconsin, W. Virginia
New Hampshire, Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming
New York, Missouri, Colorado, Hawaii
N. Carolina, Nevada, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Washington
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama,
Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska
Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Kansas, Arizona
Vermont, Ohio, Maine, Florida, Nebraska

Hawaii is also ruled by my Jupiter sign of Leo

Case Study

So how much truth do these hold? Going over the list of countries which corresponded with my various signs I realized 1) Wow, I've hardly traveled anywhere in the world and 2) I've almost exclusively traveled within my Jupiter sign which is Leo.

In fact, every place that I've lived for an extended time (Hawaii, Colorado, France) falls under the sign of Leo. If we recall that Jupiter represents spiritual growth, I would have to say that this list of places is eerily accurate. I consider my time in France to be the time when I really came out of my shell and started understanding who I was and my time in Colorado was extremely meditative and helped me figure out my goals in life. Jupiter also represents luck and I've never experience luck more than I have since moving to Hawaii. Honestly, I got off the plane with nothing lined up and had a job in two days after four months of unemployment!

However, that's about where my case study ends as I haven't spent much time in any of these other places which align with my signs but I am curious to apply this to future travels. Not necessarily that I will plan my travels around astrology but it will be fun to look back after each new trip and see if it coordinates with the information that I have just presented to you.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your guy's feed back. Does any of this hold true to you and you travels?

*Countries and state astrological signs from Astro Lada