It’s Thursday November 29th, 2018 and I am still in Los Angeles. I went to work today just like every other day this week. It rained several inches which is pretty abnormal for southern California so obviously traffic was a shit show. Nothing particularly special about today…..but it was very special for me.

I bought my last plane ticket for my trip. It is HAPPENING!

During a time where I’m an emotional wreck – I’m stressing out over making decisions for my future a.k.a. grad school, and I am pretty much living out of two bags in the trunk of my car and couch surfing – I finally have this trip settled.

Not everything is set in stone right now. I still have to book accommodation in Mexico City, Budapest, and Copenhagen, I need to secure the work exchange I want in Puerto Rico, I decided to apply for a couple seasonal field biologist jobs in the summer so my return ticket won’t be booked until I hear if I got any of them. But even so, I’m ready to do this and the next 30 days cannot go by fast enough.

I’ve got my backpack. My packing list is pretty much set. I bought packing cubes, a quick-dry towel, a pack-able day pack, and some zero waste supplies because you have to start somewhere on the zero waste journey. After living with Alli from Note to Trash  in St. Croix for three months, I was inspired to go further with my waste reduction. Reusable bottles, grocery bags, and glass Tupperware have been a staple in my life. I already use package free bar soap and I have been struggling on my quest to find a good waste free shampoo/conditioner combo – Devacurl has just been so good to my curly/wavy locks and shampoo bars haven’t been cutting it – but I’m trying! I made another step for this trip – and life – by switching out my plastic toothbrush and floss for a Wowe bamboo toothbrush and Dental Lace floss. I’m simplifying my beauty routine for the sake of space and weight on this trip. I normally use a witch hazel toner after I wash my face morning and night. That means I was using and throwing away two cotton pads EVERYDAY. I’ve been looking for a good reusable alternative that will hold up and I finally took the plunge and bought a pack of 14 reusable bamboo cotton rounds. Baby steps ya’ll! Oh, I also bought some cloth napkins. I’ll be bringing a couple along on my trip but also putting some in my car, and any bag that I use on a day to day basis. I’m not a huge napkin user to begin with (I don’t know, I’m not super messy?) but I definitely have a stash of fast food napkins in my car as “just in case” napkins and I’m going to replace them with the cloth ones.

Back to travel talk! My flights ended up costing me $1115 and I’m planning on getting my return flight covered with my travel credit card reward points. “Whoa, you dropped over a grand for this already?” Yep and I’m damn proud of the deals I got; thanks Google Flights! Round-trip to Hawaii out of LAX, two cities in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia for a grand? I’m new to this travel thing but I think I did pretty well. I do not spend my money willy-nilly. The spreadsheet I created for this trip was very involved and it hurt to pay my credit card statement this month and see the money add up in my budgeting app. But I have to keep reminding myself that I paid less than two months rent for 7 flights so in the grand scheme of things I’m in the green. And if you want to get technical, I’ve got a 12 hour layover in Boston on my way to Budapest so I’m technically visiting 11 cities (not including places I may day/weekend trip to). An average of $100 to get to each place, not too shabby.

Theoretically I do have more than enough money saved up to be comfortable throughout this whole trip *thanks YNAB for being an awesome budgeting software* but frugality is my MO. I’m fortunate enough to be staying with a friend in Honolulu and family in Guadalajara which has helped keep costs down. I also am opting for a work exchange experience via Workaway in Puerto Rico which means I will be exchanging a set hours of work per week in exchange for free room and board.  I’ll be booking hostels or Airbnb’s for the rest of my trip aiming for the $9-$14 per night range.

I’ve still got a lot of day to day logistics I need to plan, like attractions I’m going to visit or any specific food places I’m going to try, but the first milestone has been achieved. Stay tuned as the adventure draws near!

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