Recent Reads that Inspired Solo Travel into Deep America

This first appeared on on 4/17/2019

I love books. Reading is my stress buster, my preferred form of escapism, my nervous habit. I’m more likely to go on a book bender than a Netflix binge. They light up new places and fuel my need to go travel.

This book list spans the genres of travelogue, in-depth journalism, memoir, and self help. The books have almost nothing in common, except that I’ve read them in the past year and they all confirmed my need to stop everything I’m doing and muscle-power myself across the USA for a summer.

This past spring, I bought a house in Denver and started nesting so hard. Then summer came, and I had an idea. I decided to list my cute little nest as a vacation rental and fly the coop while guests stayed there.

Four months later, I’ve hosted over 25 bookings and more guests than I’ve managed to count. Here are some questions that come up when I tell people about my experiment.

So where did you stay?

Here’s how I explained it to my guests in my Welcome Booklet:

I became a first-time homeowner here in March 2017, and I’ve been in love with this…

Free intercambios (and tapas) for polyglot travelers

Art courtesy of Sean Whelan

The best things in Granada are free. Tapas — small-plate surprises served alongside every €2 beer, wine, or tinto de verano ordered — will replace restaurants and groceries if you let them.

The lesser-known freebies in Granada are language exchanges, or intercambios. In a nightlife-loving city where so many students, travelers, and locals are looking to sharpen their foreign language game, conditions are right.

A Look Inside World Responsible Tourism Day

The “Mayans” at the Guatemala booth. WTM, 2009

Tuesday Nov 8 is an important date for Americans — we’ll be hiring a new president. Meanwhile, across the pond in London, it’s also a big day for the global tourism community. Nov 8 will mark the 10th annual World Responsible Tourism Day, celebrated as part of World Travel Market (WTM), one of the biggest annual trade shows of the industry.

At face value, the WTM trade show looks a lot like “business as usual”. In a huge conference center, reps from big-name travel brands network with public tourism boards and deep-pocketed destination marketing organizations (DMOs, in travel-speak). Execs strike…

These four are foe real

courtesy of the photo monster

Over the past ten years, I’ve moved abroad five times, lived on five different continents and visited over 30 countries. Most of it has been solo travel, for better or for worse. After the last big solo trip, I journaled “I’m done. Too many monsters.”

But here I am, back in the solo travel saddle. Along with all the wonder and beauty of it, I still face the same old beasts. So I’m learning to keep them in check.

Bansko, Bulgaria is home to the Balkans’ newest coworking community

I wanted mountains. After over a year of doing the nomad thing from equatorial climes, my highlander heart made a few requests. Snowcapped peaks. Alpine hiking. Wool sweaters. Fall foliage.

By chance online, I ran into Matthias and Uwe, cofounders of Coworking Bansko in Bulgaria. They also come from mountainous locales — Germany and Austria — and envision a nomad destination with both mountain access and €2 restaurant meals. They invited me to spend the month of September in Bansko to try out their new space.

About a year ago, I searched for a way to turn off my Facebook News Feed. Here’s how my Facebook homepage has looked since then:

How I did it

I’ve experimented with three different tools to make my News Feed disappear but keep pretty much everything else. They’re all browser extensions, so they only clean up my Facebook page on Chrome (my default). If I’m really craving the newsfeed, I can just log on through a different browser. But now that the habit is broken, I rarely do.

  • F.B. Purity — this is a great little tool that allows for all sorts of customization…

Photo credit: Creighton Wong

Thoughts from the Hacker Paradise group in Bali

New to nomadism? No problem. Planning a digital nomad experience has never been easier. Great tools are popping up for DIY remote workers abroad. Airbnb solves longer-term lodging. Sharedesk finds coworking spaces all over the world. Nomadlist points you toward the best cities for remote workers to live.

When I started researching my own digital nomad trip, I was ready to piece it all together myself. I’m a seasoned long-term traveler, but I wasn’t looking forward to going solo.

Then I stumbled upon organized trips for nomads. First to cross my radar was the 12-month Remote Year, then month-by-month Hacker…

“Digital nomad” doesn’t quite fit me. I’ve tried the label on for size and decided it’s unflattering. I’ve worked remotely from abroad for months on end — with no home base — true to digital nomad form. Here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I’m surrounded by other digital nomad types.

So why am I still reluctant to brand myself as such? Asking around, I found others who aren’t big fans of the nomenclature either.

A salty Reddit thread on the topic begins:

“I cringe whenever i hear anyone refer to themselves as a digital nomad.
I cringe when i hear myself refer…

Family is a big deal to me. Literally. The Ord clan is best known for its prolific numbers. I’ve got two parents, two older sisters, two brothers-in-law, two younger brothers, and a new niece and nephew.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between family, livelihood, purpose, and travel. Sometimes all four seem to get along, but more often they’ve been clashing like rival siblings on a long car trip.

I’m a little adrift in uncertainty right now, making decisions about where I want to be and what I want to be doing. Keep moving until spring? Return…

Cynthia Ord

Colorado native. Inveterate traveler. Writing, editing and content strategy for travel brands. Current project:

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