Adventurous Accounts is a semi-regular feature that gathers the experiences from adventurers to learn what travel has meant to them. I’ve recently started following Laura on her blog, Roam + Go Lightly where she encourages others to lead a creative and adventurous filled life. In 2014 she left everything behind and spent the summer in Europe. So I asked her to share with us a little bit about her experiences and how seeing the world has shaped her.
Hey Laura, thanks for sharing with us. So tell me, when you’re looking for a place to visit, how do you pick?
I’m a traveler who prefers experiencing culture over sightseeing. Meaning, I’d rather take up local recommendations over museums, shops and historical sights. Although I truly do appreciate and love doing those things, they aren’t the decision makers for me. So, I guess you could say I go on an experience-hunt when determining a place to travel to!
That sounds like my kind of trip! What are some ways you balance touristy things with an ‘authentic’ feeling trip?
I try to avoid touristy areas during any and all meal times. Not only are they overpriced, but also just plain lame (there are exceptions I’m sure). Eating like a local helps a lot. I also try to research local customs and daily habits so we can get into the swing of their lifestyle too. It’s something I can’t wait to do this summer in Thailand!
What made you decide to travel somewhere so outside your comfort zone?
When deciding to go to Thailand and Japan this summer, the idea of experiencing a completely different culture was totally worth the initial uncomfortable-outsider feeling we expect to be having. Luke and I realized that we wanted to learn. We wanted to truly take it all in, to be sponges. Comfort is a state of mind we’re willing to forgo initially. However, as we are both pretty flexible, easy going people, I know deep down that we’ll be just fine!
Speaking of Luke, I know you two moved to Europe in 2014 for the summer. Did you have a favorite place you visited?
Last summer I fell in love with Trastevere, Rome. Blame it on the romantic old buildings, the food, the orange hued hazy mornings, the people, the humidity… this little corner of the city stole my heart! Trastevere is the “working man’s” section of the Italian capital, so the streets were filled with real Romans (who of course were too stunning for words). Living in Trastevere was as close as I’ve ever felt to being a true Italian. Because I lived there for an extended period of time, it really started to feel like it was my space away from home to be an artist. My boyfriend Luke and I even love-locked the Ponte Sisto to commemorate the beautiful experiences we had there together.
image via Madewell
I’m writing this post counting down the hours until I’m off to revisit one of my favorite US cities, New Orleans. We’re jumping on the plane tomorrow morning and going to be down south by the afternoon. I can’t wait to visit some new and old spots, and share a little mini-vacay with my main guy. We’re staying near Frenchman St, and I’m excited to explore the newer areas of the Marginy. It’s also super close to the the Quarter, so we can walk over if we’re feeling like it.
I am sad to say the weather going to be less than desirable, but at least it will be a tad warmer than it is here in Colorado right now. I’m going to make sure to pack my rain jacket and umbrella… just in case. But here are some other items that I’m packing for New Orleans.
After spending my fair share on a plane, I know comfort is more important than style. That’s why I have a go-to outfit with just the basics and in easy-wear fabrics. But when I have a short trip booked, I like to be able to get right to the fun stuff as soon as the plane hits the tarmac. So I put some colorful statement accessories in my carry-on. That way I can throw them on when we land, freshen my makeup, and go.
I’ve been on the search for the perfect travel bag for ages and am still deciding, but this one from Madewell looks pretty perfect. Not only am I particular about the look of it, but also the durability, and if it will give me a shoulder ache after lugging it around all day. That’s why I tend to lean towards the cross-body bags that can also work tote style.
Keeping my bag close to my body not only deters pickpockets, but also gives me a nice option if I want something I can shop with. I have to make sure it’s a decent size so that I can fit in all my little necessities for the day as well as a dslr camera! To keep my smaller items from rolling all around my bag, I put them into a small zippered pouch that is easily noticable. It also makes it easy when I’m switching between bags during my trip.
The last items going into the suitcase? My jean jacket. I love that I can layer a hoodie under it for warmth and it’s still stylish. It’s also a jacket you can wear almost anywhere. From a hole-in-the-wall bar to a nice walking tour of the Garden District. Just switch up the layers underneath and it works. Plus a good denim jacket has an approachability and familiarity. Which a southern town like New Orleans can appreciate. PS I’m really wishing I could pack this graphic floral top from J. Crew, so gorgeous!
If you want to see my travels in real time, follow me on Instagram @observantnomad
As an experienced professional, you might hesitate to give away your valuable time and work, since you know that can lead to a slippery slope. The most common reason people give free (or almost free) work is when they’re first starting out. But I’ve been in the industry for a little while now, and I’m fortunate enough to have moved beyond those days. At this point, there are only three times I feel comfortable gifting clients with free work.
1) When a close friend or family member needs something, and it makes me feel good to help them out. 2) When I know it is a small ask, and will nurture a larger or long-term relationship with a client. 3) When I know the work will mend a relationship with a current client… especially if things have fallen apart on a recent project.
Now I don’t mean I royally screw up (that has yet to happen and I hope never will), instead it’s when outside factors cause huge headaches. You might already be familiar with the less-than-glamorous situation when things take a turn for the worse. A challenging project falls apart right at the end, or you tried something new that didn’t 100% pan out. It doesn’t matter but the fact remains that we’re all people, and people sometimes make mistakes. What determines your professional character is how you bounce back from them.
Let me give you an example. Not too long ago I was helping a client re-design and develop her website. It was back when I was first starting taking on freelance work, and I was learning a lot about where my strengths lie within my business. About two years before, I had moved away from being a WordPress & front-end developer to a full-time digital art director. I still knew enough to be dangerous, and was often helping people out with basic stuff and front-end coding.
Fast forward to the end of that project, and we encountered some database problems that were residual from her first site. These little bugs started to cause some major issues with the final site. The site would go down for some time or one page wouldn’t work and caused discrepancies. Don’t get me started on automatic file replacing… ugh.
After exhausting all my professional experience I called in the big guns. I talked to the hosting provider for a long time, several times, trying to get to the bottom of it. Then I finally hired another developer with more experience to consult on what the issues were. A combination of both paid off, and in the wee-hours several weeks later we finally cracked the problem and fixed the site. I learned a ton about back-end database development. But wow – I definitely didn’t want to do that again.
These days I’ve shifted my speciality to focus on clarifying my clients’ brands and their design. That way I can focus 100% on what I’m great at, and leave the other parts to people who have much more experience than me in those areas. I still develop websites from time to time, including my own site and basic template updates. But I’ve learned where my limits are.
That’s all great for me, but what about my original client? Well, I felt terrible that her site was causing such a headache for her, and I didn’t want her to feel that her business wasn’t important to me. So I knew I had to make it up to her. Instead of running away with my tail between my legs, I decided I wanted to make it better. It didn’t matter if she ended up never working with me again, I wanted her to know I took the situation seriously.
So I offered her some free work. I sent her a short email apologizing for the way the project unfolded, and how I wanted to make it up to her. With a free business card design project.
It was a small gesture that would help benefit her business by unifying the new design both online and off. She was so grateful and said yes right away. So we set up the project like any other. Outlining deliverables, drafting up a contract, and setting limits on the amount of work covered. She was on board and we busted out some fun business cards that she ended up loving.
I’m so happy and proud to say that to this day we are still working together. Currently we’ve started social media work and even a 20+ page wedding service booklet. Recently she’s even started to ask about a possible rebrand! Not only did the work repay her for her patience, but it also deepened our working relationship.
Offering free work might not always turn out like this. But sometimes you have to ask yourself if you’re 100% satisfied not only with the final product but also how you got there. I find that small gestures like this, can make a world of difference with clients, and lead to making cents ($$$). With so many options out there, not only what you make is important, but so is how you make it happen.
Do you know what I spend a lot of time, maybe more than I’d like to admit, thinking about? Food. Things like, what crazy half-day long recipe am I going to make on Saturday. Or the latest hip little restaurant that I absolutely must check out, and what dish do I have to get there. I’m such a sucker for great food, I’m the shopper willing to splurge the extra cash on some velvety Kerrygold butter when needed.
In college, my roommates and I had food programs playing 24/7. Perpetual Bobby Flay, Alton Brown and Barefoot Contessa teaching me the history of chocolate, or how to properly season your pasta, and even the particular science behind poaching eggs. I love poached eggs. I soaked it all up. But I didn’t really delve deep into cooking until about 7 years ago, when I became vegetarian.
At the time I still lived at home and no one else in my family even knew where to start with my new-found lifestyle. So it was up to me to pull out some cookbooks and put what I had learned to the test. I started cooking all the time. Both for myself and for my loved ones. Vegetarian cooking became a creative outlet where I adapted recipes to my restrictions. But it also was a way to extend the olive branch and introduce people to new and exotic dishes. I bonded with fellow veggies over the dislikes of frozen soy-burger patties and the endless search for an elusive yet perfect eggplant parmesan.
Fast forward to 2015, and my diet has become much more complex yet flexible. Day-to-day I remain mostly vegetarian. My grocery list hasn’t changed too much, the only difference being that from time to time, fresh sustainable seafood makes it into my basket too. And ok, I sneak some hot wings once in a while. But these days, it’s a list of personal rules I feel most happy eating within.
With my passion for cooking, it’s surprising I haven’t shared it anywhere on this blog. But, if you follow me on instagram you might have noticed the occasional dish pop up, from coconut curry mussels to fig + almond butter french toast. So it might not come as a surprise to you that I’ve decided to start posting it here on the blog too.
There are many ways to try new foods, and sometimes it’s all about simply adding a single strange or unique item to your basket. With a little bit of research and bravery you can often transform these scary things into a favorite dish. So with that in mind, I thought I’d do the same thing here. I’m calling it Exotic Ingredients.
Each month I’ll choose a new and (more or less) exotic ingredient to cook with. I’ll show you a single delicious recipe that compliments it, and might even surprise you. They’ll mostly be vegetarian, sometimes not. And I’ll show you some additional ideas on how to use it in everyday cooking as well. First up? Chipotle Pepper Paste. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks to see what deliciousness appears.
I was thirsting for some fuel to kick start my day today. So I put together a little inspiration of some recent visuals that were calling to me. I noticed that they all had something in common… capturing a single still moment. The feeling of a warm ray of sunlight hitting your face. The pause right before you sip the bubbly thick foam from the top of a perfect cappuccino. Or the few fleeting seconds before the sunset finally hits the horizon.
Hopefully it will encourage you to stop and enjoy a still moment within your day.