3 Months Of Backpacking: The Part Nobody Talks About

This Week:

  • The energy of Paris on a Sunday night in the city.
  • The part of traveling that no one talks about.
  • Getting a real glimpse into the struggle to figure my life out.

October 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • Paris, France
  • 🚅
  • Lille, France
  • 🚅
  • Strasbourg, France
  • 🚅
  • Frankfurt, Germany

Live Travel Map 🌎

The Night Of Feels (Paris, France)

Yep… 😌

I spent most of Sunday working on posting my photos and putting together last week’s Life Update. The wifi in the hostel was… sub-optimal at best 😅 (4Mbps/0.3Mbps)

In the evening I did some exploring on the south side of the city from Île Saint-Louis down to the Rue Mouffetard (shoutout to [Paris train girl] for the recommendation!).

Had an amazing burger (Mobster Diner), then got a delicious freshly made crepe (Crêperie Genia) and stood in the square.

As I stood in the square, eating my crepe, looking around, seeing all the restaurants absolutely packed with people eating outside, people walking around, listening to this randomly amazing saxophone guy, things just felt… right.

It’s so difficult to describe in words, a feeling I just continue to have in Paris.

There’s a certain shared energy in the air. An energy that made me think, “yeah I feel like [Paris/France] is doing something right.”

Is… That Your Camera?

I got back to my dorm around 10pm.

It was this 8-bed dorm, but when I entered only one other person was back. This girl was crouching down over her suitcase, moving things, and unpacking.

We made a quick eye contact and I let out a soft “hi” before walking to my bed to put my stuff down and start getting ready for bed.

But as I sat on my bed, I couldn’t help but notice a Canon DSLR camera sitting on her bed, strap hanging off the side.

My curiosity piqued.

I wonder what kind of photos she takes?

I wonder if she’s a professional?

Should I ask her? What would I say?

But, there was no good opportunity. She was facing away from me, moving clothes and such back and forth between her suitcases.

I passed it off. “Ah, whatevs” I thought.

But my curiosity persisted…

Hmm, what if I just said “hey is that your camera?”

Wait, what if she doesn’t speak english? That’d be awkward.

“Eh, it’ll be easier if I just don’t try” I thought.

With all this back and forth in my mind, suddenly I thought, “what would my future self want me to do here?” “Would this go in my Life Update post?”

There was only one answer…

She moved to the side of the room. I thought, “alright next time she turns around I’m going for it.”

She turns around.

I make eye contact and speak up.

“Is… *points to camera* that your camera?”

She hesitates, “sorry… my english is… not good” as if she’s recalling the phrase whenever someone speaks english to her.

I point back to the camera, “Camera? Photos?” with a smile on my face.

She nods “yes” and reaches down to grab her phone.

She pulls up her Instagram and shows me the photos she took today and they were absolutely incredible.

Instantly I felt this rush of emotion, that same creative inspiration I feel standing in an art gallery looking at a huge landscape photo on the wall.

Perspectives I would’ve never seen. Depth and framing I never would’ve taken.

It was amazing to see just how differently the two of us chose to capture Paris.

I pull out my own camera from my backpack and show her.

She says, “and your photos???” with this tone almost like, “oh com’on you HAVE to show me yours!”

I pull up my Portfolio page and Photography page.

She goes “woowwwww”

I heard a bit of a Spanish accent to her, so I ask “where are you from?”

“Argentina” she says, “you?”

“The U.S.,” I respond. “You speak Spanish?”

She perks up, “hablas Espanol?”

I waver my head, “un poco”

We continued in Spanish, digging back up my high school Spanish which proved to be even more challenging since I started learning French 😂

I ask her if she’s a professional photographer and she said “nooo”

She asks me back if I’m a professional, almost with this tone like “surely you must be, right?”

I say “nah, it’s just a hobby, it’s my creativity.”

I asked for her Instagram, genuinely curious to look through more of her photos as we ended the exchange.

Now lying in my bed, I had this huge grin on my face. It was as if I just found a new photography art gallery to browse, something you’ll know that I’ve had quite a lot of trouble finding lately.

I sat there thinking, “what if I never took the chance to speak up?”

Imagine sitting here, being in the exact same position, but NOT knowing the absolute gem that I just found…

Back in August, the girl from the U.S. I met in Lisbon (The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels#The Highs) said something that really stuck with me about situations like these,

“All it takes is 5 seconds of courage.”

Signs From Above

Coincidently, the same night, my mom texted me “Btw…your photos from your travels are exceptional. I hope you plan to make a coffee table book when you put a bookmark in this trip.”

On the back of journaling I did just 2 days ago, The Week I Got In Trouble With The Monaco Police#Feeling Lost, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “what’s life telling me right now?” 😄

I can’t say I’ll do anything with it, but it was really interesting to notice.

I… Don’t Know What To Do (Lille, France)

As I got to Lille, I kind of forgot why I even decided to go there…

The only real reason was that I was chatting with a French person I met in Vienna and she said the people are incredibly nice in Lille.

So on my full day there, after my morning routine of waking up with an espresso and pastry (croissant or pain au chocolat), I got back and thought, “man, I actually don’t know what to do today…”

My toe has actually been feeling better. It still gets a little swollen with a bit more blood than usual after walking a bunch, but I don’t have the same pain pressing on the top like before. I’m still carrying my boot/shoe thing but I’m thinking I’m gonna ditch it soon.

That said, I felt like I could do some walking, but not the extent of what I used to do pre-fracture.

Nothing felt interesting. The big park was a 30 minute walk away, I already did a bit of walking around the town center, and I wasn’t super interested in learning the history.

So I just put my headphones in, put on some music (lately it’s been a lot of house/techno house/groovy music), and just started walking.

I ended up walking to the park and just wandering around.

“but not the extent of what I used to do pre-fracture.” he says… *proceeds to walk 6.3 miles* 😂

It was actually really nice. The park was huge, with tons of greenery, lots of nature, and quiet. The architecture in Lille definitely feels different, it’s like a mix between French and Dutch (i.e. what I saw in Amsterdam), which, when looking at a map, is maybe obvious 😂

The walk turned out a lot better than I was expecting! I’m glad I went.

Ended up doing roughly the same thing the next day before my train out.

The rest of my time in Lille? Some exploring the town center for lunches and dinners, and a whole lot of watching YouTube/social media.

Although, I did take a 2hr stretch to update my Ski Resorts Map. The website traffic has been picking up and I felt the obligation to update it for the 2023/2024 season. Pretty cool!

That drop at the end, Oct 9th, is when I switched it to a new URL.

Food from Lille:

  • La Sandwicherie Libanaise – fantastic sandwich and fries, so good I ate there twice (after my walks)
  • POKAWA Poké bowls – poke bowl
  • Salad&Co Lille – salad buffet

Counting Down The Days (Strasbourg, France)

That feeling of not knowing what to do didn’t exactly go away when I got to Strasbourg.

It was a lot of the same. Wake up, find a cafe/coffee shop, have an espresso and croissant/pain au chocolat, do some journaling, then a lot of “resting” (i.e. watching YouTube in bed), and some exploring and walking around for meals (lunch/dinner).

I will say, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg IS magnificent.

Food from Strasbourg

  • Bang Burgers – the place with the 99.89€ slice of tomato, yes it’s real, I asked 😂
  • Amorino Gelato – 4€ for a small cup! ehhhhh
  • Starling Burgers Krutenau – got the recommendation from Mike from my room, the weed guy in his 50s(?) who’s been all over the world, he deserves a story of his own 😂, but also the place where the server’s response (twice) when ordering was NOT one of the 3-4 responses I expected and know in French 😅😅😅
  • La Rizière – Vietnamese bo bun, saved a euro by doing takeout, just as great!
  • Bioburger Strasbourg – gosh I’ve eaten so many burgers lately
  • Boulangerie Pâtisserie “Au Wegele” – cookies!
  • Little wok – interesting concept, cheap (5-9€), made daily, prepackaged meals, reheated in a microwave on site. Value was about worth the price.
  • L’Artisan du Wrap – fantastic wrap, but IMO logistically a mess with fork+knife

Pen To Paper

I’ve noticed I’ve been doing quite a bit more journaling lately, with particularly a bit more in Strasbourg.

If you need some context or a reminder before diving in, I wrote about some things last week here: The Week I Got In Trouble With The Monaco Police#A Peek Into My Mind

I Passed The Test

October 9th 2023 | Turning It Around

Real quick, I passed the test lol!

I'm at Ten Belles again [in Paris].

I said "un cafe espresso, sur place, s'il vous plait"

And she didn't switch to english! She said "simple ou double?"

I said "simple."

She said "c'est tout?"

I said "c'est tout and nodded."

Let's gooooo

A lot of times people will just switch to english, sometimes on a slip up, or on any kind of miscommunication, so this was notable!

Still learning French! I’m up to a 55 day Duolingo streak. Although, my motivation has started dwindling… Knowing I won’t be in France anymore has made it harder.

That said, it really has been rewarding and useful, as I’ve actually been able to get around with the basics. In 80% of cases, I know the 3-4 responses that people will say back to me when ordering food!

That’s certainly something I never thought I would’ve said 2 months ago when entering France. I thought this language would be impossible to learn.

A Positive Reflection

October 11th 2023 | Gratitude

So I was just thinking about what to journal about.

I thought about yesterday, talking to Colleen, feeling just off.

But then I thought, I feel like my journaling is always critical, when things don't go well.

What if we journaled about what IS going well?

- Chatting with Colleen yesterday, saying all the places I've been since we last talked. It wasn't really about what I did in these places, just the fact that I've been to all these places, even if I'm just existing. I'm grateful to have been able to go to all these places.

- I'm grateful for my financial situation. Many times it feels like I don't have much money. Then other times it really feels almost infinite. [...] To be able to continue to do that, I'm very fortunate.

- I'm grateful that life is getting more challenging - navigating the uncertainty of travel/backpacking, figuring out my career path, [...]. Life is raising the difficulty, maybe because it knows I'm capable of stepping up to the responsibility.

- All of this unstructured life, constantly moving, it's reminded me of how much I've liked working and routine. I hope/think I'll appreciate it just a bit more.

- All things considered, I'm grateful this trip has gone smoothly so far. My backpacks/luggage has been honestly perfect. I've only lost 1 sock, gotten a couple tickets, and only fractured my toe. Like hey I've been able to walk, things could be mush worse.

A Critical Reflection

October 12th 2023 | Bali, Modern Men, Entitlement

What's on my mind ce matin ("this morning")?

I feel like yesterday was actually big.

I watched this YT video of a coworking hostel & Bali, and man... I really felt like those were my people - working on personal growth, building businesses.

That really opened my eyes and I really felt/feel excited to go there, both SE Asia and specifically coworking hostels like that.

It's like the best of the U.S./Denver coffee shops plus a tropical paradise plus a community of people all of a similar mindset.

I really haven't felt connected with really many people in Europe. I think I'd need to find coworking spaces, but I imagine everything is just expensive, another reason SE Asia shines here.


I'm excited now. I see an end to this middleground travel period, I see a life of working, routine, and something potentially cheap and sustainable. That is exciting.


I watched this video from 1st Man yesterday - Modern Men Are Frauds.

The message was, modern life is easy now, everything is done for you. But, if shit goes wrong, how many of us men truly know how to, say, build a fire, repair a car etc. the truly fundamental skills.

Not, knowing how to fish, but knowing how to create the fishing rod.

Our minds are getting "fat" and we're too often crumbling when faced with true challenge.

Personally, I really resonated with it.

I feel like I'm not challenging myself and keeping my mind sharp. But also like how many base level skills do I actually have? Like, skills my grandfather had?

I started to question and realize, I think I feel weak, I feel entitled (not necessarily from this video, but related).

Like I recognize self actualization feels like it's the most important thing in the world because my survival needs are met... But like boo hoo, "I don't feel fulfilled while traveling around Europe for 3mo [...], then going to SE Asia." Like boo hoo.

There are people out there who fear for the lives of themselves and their family's in Israel/Palestine, in Ukraine/Russia.



That's all.

That's at least on the "entitled" front.

On the "weak" front, I felt the desire to get my life back together.

To a place where I could start challenging myself again.

I just feel so weak right now, just existing.

I want, and frankly need to figure out how to incrementally challenge myself, taking on new uncomfortable situations, pushing my boundaries, learning new skills.

That seems to lead to the path of living a life I'm proud of.

If not? Well, I may just end up continuing to "float" down the river of life, and what a waste of potential that'd be.

Starting To Piece My Life Together

October 13th 2023 | Figuring It Out

What's on my mind this morning?

I mean you already know this, but I really feel bored with nothing to do. I'm just waiting, waiting until [I fly to Thailand].

Wake up, cafe, YouTube, lunch, YouTube, dinner, YouTube, sleep.

My toe generally feels better, but I've been walking more and it's now been feeling a little more swollen, further giving me reason to just sit around.

Direction-wise, what's been going well? [context: feeling lost about life, direction, my career path, making money, etc.]

- I've found a mode of creative expression, photography, that I like and that I really feel proud of. I feel fulfilled looking back at all the photos I've taken.

- I'm not working a 9-5 anymore.

- I know from the past year that working, creating, problem-solving, progress, leads to feeling fulfilled.

- My financial situation is strong honestly, strong enough to take and afford risks.

- I'm not yet in a situation where I need to do things; need to get a temp. job, need to live w/ parents, etc.

- I have a lead on what things I deeply enjoy and might be my long-term strategy: coaching, problem solving, deep conversations about life.

- Side note quickly, just had a quick thought like, why not start sharing that online, like Nathaniel Drew build my personal brand and attention around talking about life. More on that, by let's continue. [These ideas are] what I wanted to have happen.

- I have software and coding skills, I've always said it's less about the programming, more about the problem solving, but nonetheless, I can code, and I can learn to code, both useful skills.

- I have Al now, what a game-changer. I have the whole human knowledge base at my fingertips.

- I'm really good at organizing, capturing, documenting, formulating, presenting etc. information. Like, I've already learned and uncovered some of my deep nature, skills I have that come naturally to me.

- I know what lifestyle I resonate with - working in coffee shops, laptop work, building things, sharing things. Another reason I'm excited for these coworking/digital nomad places in SE Asia. The lifestyle looks like exactly what I've grown to love the past 2 years.

So, I kinda feel like I know the basic vehicle, I just don't really know the direction to drive.

Like I know how to work, just not what to work on. I do feel like that's valuable progress.

- I'm starting to feel like I want to take a similar path as [my cousin]. So, I'm grateful that she's going through this process, that we've gotten closer, and that we resonate with each other.

- All things considered, despite feeling weak, lazy, and lost right now, I feel like my desire to get back on the grind is growing (i.e. the rubber band effect - from Grant). Get me to Bali! lol.

This process, figuring [my life] out, I think will be one of the most rewarding things of my life.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Tough First Impressions (Frankfurt, Germany)

My last stop before my flight!

First impressions?

Unfortunately the area I’m staying in is a lot more crummy than I thought (“crummy” is being generous)… They said this area is the red light district of Frankfurt (which it is). I was expecting something like Amsterdam’s red light district, which looks… clean and spotless compared to here 😅

Trash everywhere, tons of homeless people, sketchy people just chilling in groups, walking in the streets. It actually reminds me a lot of parts of San Francisco… not in the good way… Walking out the door not knowing what to expect.

But gimme a couple days to explore the rest of the city, there’s no way it’s all like this.

To leave it on a high note, I had a fantastic long chat catching up with my cousin and ate some amazing pad thai (sooooon!)

What’s Next?

See you next week from Thailand! 🤞



  1. We were just talking about how much we (your distant relatives) are enjoying reading about your travels! Keep it coming! Love the commentary about life and exploration. We are all passing through and finding those moments that make it more memorable.

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