Strange Places Podcast: The Ups and Downs of Solo Travel with Kristin and Gretel

Kristin and Gretel join us for a nice conversation about traveling solo and sharing some crazy stories from the road.

Listen to the episode:

full-width Photo: Gretel looking for love in the Hamburg train station.

full-width Photo: Kristin hiking in the Grand Canyon

In this episode learn about:

  • Traveling to Ecuador solo as a woman
  • Becoming more assertive by being forced to ask others for help as a solo traveler
  • Losing your sense of embarrassment (whether it's about speaking broken spanish or not knowing how to use the NYC subway)
  • Camping in Iceland on a carry-on only !!
  • Rolling luggage on cobblestones (and how to avoid)
  • Mailing things home (like when you need gifts for your entire extended family)
  • How the Danish live
  • Spending $0.80 on hostel without A.C. but eating at michelin-star restaurants
  • WWOOFing for free lodging (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
  • What it's like at an Italian wedding (prepare to eat for 8 hours straight...)
  • How to react when men with machine guns board your chicken bus in South America
  • Kristin booked a Flights Machine deal to Barcelona !
  • What happens when you get stung by both a stringray and a jellyfish (hint: peeing on it is a myth)

Episode transcript:

Thom Hi, welcome back to our podcast for episode two. This is Thom Allen, I'll be hosting today. And I have Gretel with me and Kristin. And we're gonna be talking about travel here today. I guess to get started off, I will ask you guys a couple questions, and you can introduce yourself. So Kristin, tell us a little bit about your travel experience, and what you've been doing the past couple years.

Kristin Yeah, I started traveling with family, like at a younger age. My aunt and uncle thought it was important and they took me my first trip. And I was like, 14, and I did a big trip. I lived in Greece for a year with my school and college. But it was always very structured. And I think growing up, you never really knew that like, there are alternative ways to travel. It was very much like people on cruises, or you're traveling with your family. And it was very, like, everything was planned. And so when I moved to Utah, I kind of made a lot of friends who had traveled I guess, alternatively, or whatever. And I had a friend who was an active travel bicycle lead across the world. And she had done a lot of solo travel, and I never occurred to me to travel solo as a female before, especially in America. It's like very taboo, like your woman you can't go places by yourself, because it's very dangerous. And I went on my first solo trip to Ecuador, and that was like, people did not think that that was legit.

Thom People thought it was a bad idea.

Kristin Yeah, because you think like, South America just has such a stigma, especially Ecuador, like people go to like Argentina, Chile, and no one really think there's like Columbia and Ecuador's safe especially for a solo female. And so that kind of started for me, it was just like a whole different experience traveling by myself kind of being forced outside of your comfort zone and like learning new life lessons that kind of apply across your life. It's made me a lot more confident and I started traveling a lot because you know, because, you know, I always try to get my friends to go on trips with me. Like every trip they've gone on solo has been open to friends. But it's hard when you're an adult to get people to go with you. Like, you have to coordinate schedules and they have their own traditions they want to go on and like their boyfriend can't calm or they don't want want to go that their boyfriend or they want to go like Mexico and like sit at a resort. And so I just stopped doing things are not doing things because other people do it with me. I'm like, if people aren't going to do it, just go. So yeah, and I've gone on trips and stuff.

Thom Awesome. Yeah, well all all ask you more about those in a minute. But Gretel, tell us a little bit about some of the, I guess, travel that you've done. And the reasons why I've done it.

Gretel Yeah, a little bit different than Kristin’s. I actually didn't grow up traveling at all, which I always wanted to. And I grew up in China, a lot of my friends because they're the only child in the family. And so it's very easy for their family to, you know, go on trips and take time out for that and I have a slightly bigger family in Chinese standards. And my mom did a lot of solo traveling when she was young. So she always wanted us to have that same experience as well. And so she was “You know, I'm not stopping you, if you like, save up your money, you can do whatever you want”. And so it was a little discouraging when I was younger, because I see all these people, you know, doing all these family trips. And, um, but it helped me make this a priority me once I had my own resources and time that I really just knew that I have to put traveling as a priority. So my first trip was with school as well. We did a study abroad in the Middle East in Jerusalem, and we traveled to Egypt and Jordan. And then after that, I was like, “You know what, I'm just going to find time and find money to do that”. And so after that, I did some solo trips as well. Kind of the same reason with Kristin. And it's just really hard to coordinate with people. And also I think I'm, I just like to take, take things at my own pace and do things more, more particular how I like.

Thom That's the best part of solo travel. Yeah, you don't have to consult with anyone.

Kristin Yeah, and you can, like change your plans...

Gretel It's just more self discovery when you can actually follow. Yeah. Do you know how you feel at the moment? Sometimes it's nice to be with friends, but I think depending on why you travel, solo traveling, it's definitely possible for a female as long as you're smart. And you do some planning ahead.

Thom Awesome. Yeah. So I guess one of my questions would be when when you first were traveling solo, what were some of the things that you learned? And like, what was what was that experience, like going out on your own?

I grew up traveling, like, kind of with family. Mostly. But my, my family wasn't the adventurous type. You know, it was mostly cruises and, and yeah trips down to like St. George and Lake Powell in Utah. And then when I went off, at like 22, I was not well versed in a lot of things like getting to New York and riding the subway was like, actually difficult. And I remember one time just on my way to Europe, I was in New York, and I went down to the train platform. And I was like, Oh, this isn't the right side. I need to get to the other side. And so I'm just like, “How do I do that”? And I went to ask the guy at the at the little booth working there. And he's like, “Are you serious?” And he’s like, “Walk up to the street, walk across the street and go down”. Yeah, so I was like, “Okay, sweet”.

So I go up to the street. I see the other stairwell and I like, walk down and I go scan my ticket again, walk through the turnstiles. And then I'm just like, “I'm on the same side again!” and I turn around and make guys looked at me, and he is like, “Dude, you're on the same side!”

Kristin Yeah, well, like you, you kind of lose your sense of like, shame. And I don't get as embarrassed like in my life as a whole. Because you're put so far out of your comfort zone at like, things that you normally would think like, you want to be polite, or would it be like embarrassing to ask someone when you're traveling. So you have to ask, especially, you know, before you had data, and you could use your phone, places that like, you have to kind of put yourself out there and ask people in your broken Spanish or, or whatever, like gesturing, body language to figure out, like, where to go, or what to do. And I feel like, that translate to like, to that to your plan. Like, I don't get as embarrassed or like, I'm, I've always been assertive. But now I'm like, especially sort of been like, don't have that same shame. Because this is like, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Gretel I think I learned to trust people, kind of going along the same lines that you have to rely on people to help you. And a lot of times, you know, even when I'm back home, I think when I see strangers on the street, I kind of trust them more. And I think that they would help me if I, you know, treat them as the mark of the mess. My friends and people that are here to support each other. I was just thinking about what I've learned solo traveling. I think what I learned the most is just my flaws. Because there's not a second person is check the second like, double check what you're doing. I just I mean, I always knew I'm a forgetful person. But solo travelling, you really, really just have to take time to to know what you're not good at. And then hopefully become better at little things that might go wrong.

Thom Yeah, for sure.

Kristin I’ve had a lot of really close calls because just I travel really loosely. And like I'm, I've kind of enabled that part of myself at this point. So I'm like, I'm probably just a nightmare for people to travel at this point. Like, oh, it's like, figure it out. Probably.

Thom My girlfriend and I always are battling because I like to go to the airport really late. I mean, like, right before the flight. She likes to be there, like, five hours. So you're just playing it real safe, you know?

Kristin Yeah, that's me. My best friend too. So we compromise because, like, I’ll get there as the plane is boarding. Yeah. And especially in Salt Lake.

Thom Salt Lake is easy. Yeah, go like 40 minutes early. And you're good.

Kristin Yeah, exactly. Especially if you're not checking in a bag. And I never do. And so my, my best friend, my roommate. She is like a two hour early person even in Salt Lake. And so we compromise and do like 90 minutes or an hour.

Thom Do you usually travel without a checked bag?

Kristin I usually I like to do carry on. It's just so much easier. And it really makes you forces you to kind of figure out what the essentials are. In the summer and went to I did two separate trips in one trip. My family was having a big like party and Scotland because I have a cousin who lives there its her 20th wedding anniversary. And so we're going out there for that. And I was like, well, where can I go after Scotland to make it worthwhile. So it's not just like going out for a week to hang out with my family. And so I went to Iceland. I had my roommate meet me in Iceland. And because it's just so cheap to get there, it is now the hottest spot in the world right now. But it was just so easy to get to from Scotland that just made sense. And I we camped the whole time because I like to do budget travel. And Iceland is so expensive especially, and Scotland is too.

Thom And in Iceland, you can camp on anyone's land, right, without permission or anything. How does that work?

Kristin A lot of places have, like, campsites. So like a hotel will have a campsite or hostel will have a campsite. Yeah. There's campsite everywhere. So it's like, I think you can camp anywhere. It's just about like, the general respect, like here, like peering on someone's yard or something.

Thom We picked up a hitchhiker there in and he was camping in just some, you know, like ranch. He just like hop the fence on the ranch and set up as tent and yeah, really, that's like, kind of protected under Iceland's laws.

Kristin Yeah, I think they are trying to discourage people from doing that. I think it's still like, a law that you can, but it's like, there's just so many people going there now. So much cheaper. And so I've gone for like, three or four weeks. And so I had to have like enough stuff for like a family, like party and trip. And then also like, camping in Iceland and there’s there is like, unpredictable weather. And that you have to really figure out what your priorities are when you're not bringing a bag and you have to take camping gear.

Thom Yeah, Iceland's very unpredictable weather. Yeah,

Kristin I mean, climate change is real, man. We had a really good weather the whole time we were there. It was gnarly. Like we they say it's like it'll just hail or rain like randomly, and we are there for two weeks. And it rained once.

Gretel When did you go?

Kristin August. Yeah. So it’s still summer, but it's still like, really like, usually rains and hails.

Thom So you've traveled in Europe as well Gretel?

Gretel Yeah.

Thom What, uh, what countries have you been to?

Gretel I just want this past summer I was in London, Berlin, Prague. And then I was kind of all over Italy for a month, Denmark and Greece. It was cool.

So I only took a carry-on for two months which was was a little rough. But I was saying with some friends and some cities. And so I was able to do laundry and wear very simple t shirts and

simple colors. And it worked. Yeah, I didn't think of work as I love my clothes. I love colours and style. And like to dress up when I'm home. But I decided to try to go minimalistic, and really, really with life changing. Just to condense it to your carry on and see if I can live with that. And I was able to and it totally change everything. After I came back I'm like, you know, I don't need all these things. I really can live a much more simple life. And that aspect really, really changed me. And I encourage people to try that. They can just see if you can do it. Maybe if you are used to, to big suitcases maybe try one or a size down then you can focus on what's more important, the experience. And not just a pretty picture with the colors.

Kristin But yeah, exactly. I feel like it makes you more present. Right? So it's like, you're not packing like, cute outfit, and like, oh, I might go here. I might go do this. Like you have to wear the same thing. Everywhere you go.

Gretel And then you focus more and your surrounding area. Yeah, people and you kind of blend in a little bit more too.

Thom With just the backpack rather than lugging around a luggage.

Gretel Or just like really extravagant clothes or really sharp. I mean, sharp colors are great. But I just think it's just a mindset thing.

Thom Those cobblestone roads in Rome are so romantic until you have to roll your luggage on them. Just seeing people, the places they drag their luggage to is pretty hilarious.

Kristin Or like the people traveling and they just have a backpack. It's like an 85 or 90 litre.

Thom A lot of people, I am guilty of this too, I end up buying stuff along the way. It’s hard.

Kristin But that's the problem two is like, when I was in Ecuador, I was like, Oh my gosh, it's August. Like I can get all my curses presence in Ecuador. And they'll be meaningful and cheap. And like handmade and I had no room like, I guess presents for myself.

Thom You can mail stuff from some places, though.

Kristin I feel like that expensive.

Thom I mailed a big box back from Thailand. And it was pretty heavy. And it was like, probably 30 inches by 12 inches box, you know. And it actually it was pretty cheap. I think it was like 40 bucks to send it home, and but time a slow boat. So three months to get here. I don't even know how they ship so slowly. It probably went around the world. So you can sometimes ship stuff I haven't done it too much.

Kristin I guess I just always assumed it would be expensive. So I just never thought of that option. Yeah, but it's always worth looking into. Yeah, especially if you're in like Thailand or South America. It's gonna be pretty cheap.

Thom It worked out pretty well. I shipped it with the Thai post. And then it didn't show up for months but then it finally did show up.

So with with your travels in Europe, Gretel, where where were some of your favorite spots?

Gretel Oh, wow. I don't think there's any place I didn't like but personally, I really think what made my experiences are the people and so when I'm able to communicate with them and makes my traveling a lot more meaningful, a lot more deep. I write a little blog, it's kind of for personal and friends use. But when I have conversations are really meaningful interactions. And I feel like you're more of an urge to write it. And then I remember it better. And so I think because of the language barrier, when I was in some countries like Italy, I was in some rural parts it was a little harder for me to communicate with them. But I mean, I love it for other reasons. Like the food and the culture. And people are very warm and very beautiful sceneries but just for the people, I think Denmark and Germany, I was able to talk to friends and make friends on this street and go to their activities, go to their homes, and see what life is like, and ask them what they think about things. So I really, really liked Denmark, and I wasn't in Germany at 10. So I, I don't want to say Germany, but Berlin, I was in Berlin for a few days. And just people are very, very sensitive and very intelligent. I learned a lot from them. And the Danes they just live the perfect life. They just, they're just so happy. And their quality of life is so high but not materialistic. You don't really see the fancy cars or fancy stores on the streets but everyone has like really nice tops, really nice tables, and they're really nice to each other. And they care about their community, but not in a bragging way.They don’t think they're better and that's when you know me with my backpack I’m like, I really want to mimic this minimalistic, live and bring back Hygge and try to absorb the things that they do there because it's really, really eye opening.

Thom Yeah, my girlfriend's really into the Hygge.

Gretel Yeah, it’s the season now, yeah, winter, gotta get cozy.

Thom Kristen, what are what are some of your favorite spots in the world that you’ve been to.

Kristin I like to go places where you can get like, a lot of different experiences. I think that's why I've kind of gravitated towards like Central and South America. It's like if you're in South America in one trip, you can be in the jungle you could be at the beach and you can be on a mountain and I love places where you can get that full experience and just really experience a whole country and Iceland is kind of similar where there's just so many different landscapes and it's incredible and you know, you drive 50 miles and it's completely different. So that's kind of what I love. Nicaragua special to me. It kind of is what started my new life in traveling as an adult because I went there with a group of friends. And it was my friend I mentioned earlier who has traveled and does, like, active guiding, and I just love Nicaragua and figuring out, you know, like getting outside of your bubble and riding on the chicken buses. Yeah, and, like, talk to people. I'm like, I'm half Puerto Rican. But like, I don't speak Spanish. I have very broken Spanish. And so being forced to speak your terrible Spanish to people and improve it. And they really appreciate when you make that effort. I have noticed I was in Barcelona this year. And it's like, they have no time for your fake Spanish, like in central South America they love it. And they like really appreciate that you're making an effort. But like in Barcelona, they're just like, they're either they spoke English, or they just didn't care.

Thom That's funny. It can go a long way, though. To just know least make an attempt.

Kristin Yeah and especially if you're going someplace like, just learning basic, ask questions and places like how to pronounce places that you're going on as an Iceland they just made so much fun of Americans for not even knowing like, the main cities and how to pronounce them. And yeah, I think that goes a long way.

Gretel Yeah, definitely. Because I went when I was in Italy, I just wish I even you know, duallingo just do level one, like just saying phrases so that you feel comfortable even just greeting people. With basic pronunciation.

Gretel Because they know if you're trying, they see enough people coming in and out that it does make a difference, depending where you are, like, South America, Central America, I was in Mexico for Thanksgiving. And I don't really speak Spanish either. But just knowing just greeting people like “Hey, Buenos Dias!” and they, you know, there's warm and nice and they can take the time to teach you. But some places maybe not so much. You just have to just have to know that and keep not being ashamed and embarrassed.

Kristin Yeah, doing like, basic research in language and where you’re going on the culture and stuff goes a long way as well. Because especially for Americans, they just get such a bad rap for being ignorant and kind of just trying to take our culture wherever we go. And so just figuring out basic pronunciations, you know, what they eat, what local traditions are, and holidays, like, sometimes you accidentally are traveling over a really important holiday. Yeah, and you don't know what's happening. And that can be like, you know, a little offensive to them and stuff. So just like it goes a long way, especially as an American and feel like put in just even a little effort to figure out what you're doing and where you're going. And the area around you and the people and the traditions, I think that they really respect that.

Thom Like what you were saying about the diversity of nature and landscapes in some of the countries you've gone to. So I lived in New Zealand for for a short amount of time, like six or seven months. And that place was like that. It was amazing where you could be in this area that was like, you know, coastal sandy beaches and tropical looking. And then you drive like an hour and a half. And you'd be in what looked like Wyoming with big pine tree and stuff like that, that was like, really pretty crazy to see that much diversity. So yeah, I love that too.

So what kind of things are you guys usually focused on when you travel. For you Gretel, is it food, or activities?

Gretel Definitely food. I was just talking about it to a friend. He was like, “Gretel how much like when you go travelling, what's your budget, like kind of like how much money do you spend on living food and souvenirs and actually like well I live in the cheapest place I can possibly find. Like in Thailand I lived in like a 80 cents hostel, I don’t care. If there is a bed, I don't even need AC, it's fine. I went in August too, so, but it’s all the experience so yeah. But I try to eat well because I think there's a lot in the culture especially coming from culture I'm Chinese so our cultures just so focused on food there's a lot you can learn from that and I believe that a lot in the food how its prepared what is grown there, what they how they do it. So I really enjoy that and I just like talking to people twice. Take a huge chunk of my time just walking around kind of wandering and seeing how people live and talking to vendors or shopkeepers if I have the ability to and I try to to even with like, whatever language I'm trying to learn and with some English and some body language so that's usually how I how I do traveling.

Thom Nice. Do you ever do cooking classes?

Gretel I have in Thailand. It wasn't something I found online, it was kind of my hostel host, she invited us to go to her house and she was teaching us how to cook. Yeah, and in Italy I was with my school for a little bit. And so we went to school to learn how to some cooking school to learn how to make pasta and different dishes and I did “woofing” or in Italy as well. So it's more, less structure, but more just, you know, my host mom was teaching me how to make pasta the way she wants me to remember.

Thom Woofing for people listening who don’t know what that is - Worldwide Organic Opportunities In Farming, I think? Something along those lines. Woofing to my understanding, and I've never done it maybe you should talk on this is you volunteer on a farm and they're all organic farms, right?

Gretel Yes.

Thom And then they give you a free place to stay basically, and feed you?

Gretel Yeah, they feed you and they're more technical things on the website. Like, they're not going to, like put you into slavery, like have you work all day and not give you food, they should just only, you know, give you two days off a week. And have you worked like maybe five to eight hours a day or something like that. And they are, they should all be organic, they do different things. So some, some of them are like repairing walls and like grow a little bit of fruit trees. And some are more about like bushes like lavender and herbs. And so there are beekeeping. There are ton of different...

Thom Cool

Gretel Yeah, I only went to two and I stayed in each farm for a week. They're both in Italy - once I'm on the east coast in a little city called Jesi (?) and that was really fun. I went there when there was a Italian wedding going on. So I got to help them make food and serve and it was really crazy. Italian weddings are really over the top. So that was really fun.

Thom Don't they just like drink to like, sunrise on the wedding night?

Gretel They just eat they for eight hours straight. Yeah. Like there is no activity in between. There is no like speeches. It was just like...

Kristin That’s you get you like the best experiences if you happen upon it. Or if you know someone that lives there. Like my cousin's 20th wedding anniversary in Scotland was incredible. Because we were staying in this castle with our whole family. They were Scottish dancing, we're all drinking scotch, and they're all in kilts and like just like singing Scottish songs and dancing and, and talking about, like teaching me about scotch and it was just like the one of the most authentic experiences I've had traveling and it was just incredible. It was so fun.

Gretel Yeah, when I was just gonna do Woofing a lot of my friends and I “Are you sure like, what is this?” and when I told my parent, my parents were a little skeptical. They're like “What farms are these are they industrial farms, what if you never come back?” And I was a little nervous too, because nobody I knew have done it. I just googled it. But I'm really glad I and I was really lucky. I've heard people who you know, it really depends on your host. And I was lucky to have to really good host that really try to give me the experience and were really kind to me and really patient with me. And I learned a ton and I saw a lot and so I'm really glad I took that risk and just kind of trusted in that and but yeah, there's like weird little things going on. Like I mean, do research. You know, there's obviously exceptions.

Kristin You have like this such a selfless open approach to handling and I love that make me feel like a jerk. I'm more into like, budget, like active travel. So it's all about like, what can I do in this country in this amount of time. And like, just like, go, go go. And like just constantly trying to, like, hike this. And like raft that. And so I'm like, “Where can I surf?” Yeah. So I love, I like I went to Barcelona this year for four days. And it was it was, I think it was a flight I saw on Flights Machine. And I bought it and I went to Barcelona for like four days over Presidents Day. So I only have to take one day off. And because I already had a three day weekend, and I kind of took that approach or just wandering the streets. And I didn't really have any plans. And I just ate and I found this little hole in the wall. And like we just talked to people. And that was such an incredible experience for because I was like, even then I had the tendency like, “Okay, go hiking”, “Like what kind of excursion can I do”. And I only had like, three full days there. And so it really forced me to like, cool it and just really taking the experience of like being somewhere for a longer amount of time. Because usually just been a city for like a day because I'm like, “What do I want spend so much time in a big city for, this country has so much open space and so much nature to experience”. And so it was like the first time I've really kind of slowed down. And like I tried to take in the culture wherever I'm going. But it's usually like quicker pace in like a very structured like today after I like go hiking. I'm gonna have like, a little time for to go for dinner or something. And wondering on the town. And then tomorrow I’m gonna night bus out of here. And so it was the first time I really meant like, slow down and just like wandered. And it was amazing.

Gretel There's so many different ways of traveling. And you really just have to find your style. And I think it's good to try different ways. And then you'll settle you'll feel what's natural to you. And then, you know, traveling will become more and more natural. More and more like, enjoyable because some people don't like traveling on understand that if you're you know, if I'm with a tour group, I would just want to kill myself. But that doesn't mean I don't like traveling. I just do it so differently.

Thom Yeah the tour groups can be pretty crazy. You go down to like Nepal and there's, you know, it's either Koreans or Chinese or something. And they have like, 40 people in a group and they're hiking through the Himalayas. And yeah, it's just like too many people.

Kristin And it can ruin your experience to as it like, as a more responsible traveler. Like I, I very purposely, like when we're in Iceland, researched, often, like remote remote spots. And we pretty much have avoided huge groups of people. There's like, we went to a couple of the bigger waterfalls, where it was just unavoidable. But for the most part, I was like, really like proud of how llittle people we saw in like, the most popular destination right now for traveling.

Gretel And it's really amazing. Just you take a little turn can be totally different.

Kristin I know. That's what's amazing is most people don't want to walk the extra half a mile down a path, or try the extra… And then it'll even more space for you.

Thom Yeah, you just go hiking and you leave like 99%. That's my solution.

Kristin My, I guess my theory at this point is just like trying to do as much as I can, and then figure out the places that I want to, like, experience more of of, I definitely want I didn't have time to go to the Galapagos when I was in Ecuador. But I think like, that's something to really appreciate, when I'm older and can like, have more time to, like, be chill enough to like, be okay, just going to Ecuador to be in the Galapagos. Because, like, at this point in my life, I feel like that was kind of wasteful to just be in one spot in a country not experienced more of it. And so I feel like my theory at this point is like, I'm still young and can travel like, cheaper and harder and, like, not care about where I'm staying, and be able to looser about my plans and kind of experience as much as I can. And then I'm when I'm older, like, I still want to travel. I still on a hike. But I can kind of go back to Iceland just for like, a specific backpacking trip to or, you know, and figure out from there.

Thom Thorsmork is on my list.

Kristin Me too. We didn't have time we thought about doing it. We did camp there for two nights. Just in like, we took a bus in and like, did day hikes, but I really want to get up on that glacier.

Thom Oh, on on top of the crazy named volcano.

Kristin Yeah, its ????

Yeah, we were the whole time we were in Iceland we were like, “Where's, where's this volcano?” you see evidence of it across the island, right? It's like, you can tell that there's been like a recent explosion, and we're just trying to figure out where it was. And then we're talking to these Americans and they looked at us like, we were like, idiots, and they're like, “It's right there”. And we were we've been camping at the base of it for two days is like, “Oh, the smoke, give it away?”

Thom Next on my bucket list is being there for a volcanic eruption. When we went to Bali earlier this year. And the volcano erupted right before we got there. And we were so mad, then we weren't in the country while it was happening.

Kristin Yeah, if you have a flexible schedule like your work, we can expect you back when you're grounded. And yeah,

Thom I mean, yeah, it's, it's a, you know, a lot. It affected a lot of people in terrible ways. But I still would love to be present for those things. Because they are like crazy, probably, like I was talking to me on Lembongan is like a little island off of Bali. And they said, they watched it from the island and they're only like, 30 miles off. So it was just like this thing, they could just sit there and watch. And it was it was huge, huge explosion. So that would be pretty cool to see.

Kristin That would be. I would be too scared of natural disasters.

Gretel When Hawaii was having eruptions earlier this year, and it's all the picture that people just like golfing. And I'm like….

Kristin My cousin just got married in Hawaii last month. And I was there for that. And earlier this year, like everyone's like, “Are you sure” like there's a volcano happening and now there's a hurricane coming like “Yeah, no, I’ll be fine”. That would give me too much anxiety if I was getting married in a place that was having an active volcano. I would not want that stress.

Thom I've never seen flowing lava and so I really want to go to a volcano National Park. Is that a Maui I'm not sure. I'm not sure which island that I know it's in Hawaii and you can see the lava flow into the ocean which would be pretty cool. Yeah I've seen footage of drivers that have gone down and like film the lava going into the water.

Kristin I'm gonna get my dive cert this winter because I've been so many places that were almost wasted not being able to dive so adding that into my repertoire. Think would really just like one more thing that I can add to my heavy list of things I tried to do on my list while traveling.

Thom Diving is really fun. I did a bunch diving in Bali and a lot in Thailand and stuff. I really liked it. To be honest. I like snorkeling about as much though.

Kristin I've heard that as an in Hawaii. When you do the night dives with mantas it's snorkeling.

Thom I snorkeled with mantas in Bali. And it was incredible. I've snorkeled enough where I can like hold my breath and dive and swim pretty far and so I swam like right over the back of a huge Manta and was like swimming with it. It was incredible.

It was pretty crazy place though like Manta point on whereas this I think it's on Lembongan. Yeah it was it was on Lembongan and it really scared Annette because it's big waves sloshing around and you're like bobbing up and down like five to 10 feet at a time. So if you're not a good swimmer, it's pretty intimidating.

Gretel All I've done is all pretty still water.

Thom Yeah, this place was not not. This was it was pretty wild. And there were like thousands of jellyfish in the water. Which freaked me out and I was trying to figure out if they stung or not. And was asking our, you know, guys, I'm like swimming and dodging them, and he's like, “They're fine! They're fine!” And so I finally like grabbed one and was like, “Okay”. I mean, there was a lot of them. So yeah.

Kristin I went to Belize two years ago, and I stranded myself alone on like, a little island to camp by myself. And I like had a like a dive boat drop me off 10 miles off shore with a sea kayak. And I was snorkeling and that was like the most scared of been cos’ I was like, if something happens to me, like, not even a shark but just like cutting yourself or like getting pulled out a little too far. It's like, there's no one there to help you. So it's like, there was like the potential for some of the best snorkeling have ever done those like too scared I was like, I cannot risk it by myself out here.

Thom Can be scary for sure. I got too close to a stingray in Thailand. And I was just like diving with a GoPro like filming it. And it like got its stinger up and almost like stung me. And I've been studying for on a separate occasion by a stingray and it was extremely painful. They're really, really painful.

Kristin Yeah, what do you do?

Thom No, you... I got stung. So this is actually a great story, because I would love to talk a little bit about layovers because people are always afraid of layovers. I was on my way back from a long trip through Europe, or through Asia. And I had a eight hour layover in Los Angeles International. So I called my friend, I was like, “Dave, come get me let's go surfing”. And so he came and picked me up and we went surfing. But I got stung by a stingray. And he told me he's like, “Make sure you drag your feet when you walk,”

Kristin The stingray shuffle.

Thom Yeah, the Stingray shuffle. And I just didn't do it. And it's like, what? Because he didn't explain to me there’s like 4 stingrays. And of course, I got, I felt this little prick that was like, just a, like, a felt like a stick. Just put my foot and I was like, oh, that kind of hurt. And then about 20 seconds later, it was like, throbbing serious pain. And I was like, I was like, “Dude, so thing, stung my foot!” And he was like “Oh, Stingray”. So we like went to the beach. And the lifeguards were were there and could clearly see something was wrong and grabbed me. And they have this bucket of water that just sits in a black plastic bin. And the sun heats it. And when I put my foot in that it like dissolves. I guess it dissolves the proteins in the in the venom. And that made the pain go away pretty quickly. At least to a level that was bearable. Yeah. So it was it was pretty, pretty gnarly before that, yeah.

Kristin What they don't tell you like surfing places where they don't tell you movies. And TV is like if you get stung by jellyfish no one’s peeing on you. Like you just have to deal with it. And it hurts really bad. You just get pieces of jellyfish just stuck to your body while you're like surfing or snorkeling or swimming and you just have to deal with it and it sucks.

Thom I've heard those are pretty nasty.

Kristin Yeah, I've never gotten a bad one. But it's it's always like a lot of like, break off. Just get stuck to you.

Thom Yeah, I think I was talking to a woman in we were in the Dominican Republic and she was saying her her toddler was in her arms and like reached over her back while they were in the ocean and grabbed a jellyfish and she turned to see what he was doing and he screamed and threw it on her face, yeah she said it was like really really bad so she had like the blisters all over her face.

I got stung on the lips while I was in limbo gun dive in. And it was it was these weird little jellyfish. That area you can't see they’re like long. They're like the size of your of your pinky, like the tip of your pinky. And then they have this longs these long strands. And they said that's probably when I got hit by because I got out of the water after this dive and I was like, I was like, “Hey, my, my lips hurt really bad”. And they're like, “Oh, you did you get stung by jellyfish”. And I was like, I don't know. it just feels like I have intense hot sauce on my lips or something. And then I got worse and worse. And so they busted out vinegar and put vinegar on my face. And then that helped a little bit. But again, it just hurt for like 30 minutes or something.

Kristin Being an ocean person. Like you have to have a short memory like you can have the best experience and the worst experience because you're just getting beat up by way of bizarre like something scary happens. And and who knows what isn't in the ocean. It's terrifying. And so you just kind of have to be able to compartmentalize what you're doing and have a short memory for all of your bad experiences.

Gretel Traveling like that too. We just have to move on something really bad happened to and you just have to keep going or elsewhere. whole trip will be ruined. Are you have a bad taste for that country forever? Okay. You know, that person, you know, messed up or I messed up. But you know, it'll be better.

Thom What's a some of the, I guess like some crazy things that have happened to you guys while traveling? Have you gotten into any trouble? Or just like, into a pickle?

Kristin When I was in Ecuador with my first solo trip, and everyone talks about, like, everyone is freaking out. Like, you cannot go to South America by or something like that is not legit. And I was like, no, it's fine. I had kind of a I had a great experience when I got there. Like, was in the jungle in the Amazon. And it was just like my dream. Like, I'm such a jungle person. And it's just incredible. And we're doing night tracks. And it was just the most amazing experience. I when I left. I don't always plan the best and so I almost got stuck in this little town. No hostels just in the middle of the jungle, like over, I don't know what I would have done if I got stuck by end up getting on a bus. And I was sleeping. It was a night bus. And so all of a sudden, like the bus stops. And I kind of like wake up and look around. And these dudes with machine guns get on to the bus. And I'm pretty sure they were soldiers. And they had like the bus driver, like had the men get off the bus. And like the women in front of me had a baby and they just sat there and I didn't really know it was happening. And one of them came down on like, looked at me like talking to me in Spanish. Like, oh my gosh, and I got off the bus. I had to go have my... they like took me into this little office. And it's like, the bus is going to leave me like I'm screwed. And I don't know where I am, like this part die. And they asked for my passport and like asking me questions. I had no idea what they were. I assume it like it had to be like a drug stop or something. They're like this lone white girl on the bus. Like definitely trafficking drugs. I mean, maybe that's my ignorant assumption. But I was the only one that they that we did that with. And luckily, the bus driver, like took such pity on me. And he, like, waited for me. And like, ushered me back onto the bus afterwards. And when we got to town we had to do like a bus switch. He grabbed me took me like bought my ticket talks to another, got another person who took me and like put me on the right bus in the middle of this station so that I could get to like this other little jungle town but I was just like was having this is where I die.

Gretel That was amazing that he went that far to help you.

Kristin I know I was so lucky. I've had so many moments like that where like I would have been screwed up on one thing hadn't gone really right in the middle of something going really wrong.

Gretel I've been fortunate I don't think I have I don't have any experiences like that where I was like really really in a place where I'm not familiar with or I didn't have resources like my phone to like help me out but I do have occasions where because of poor planning or maybe miscommunication were like got on the wrong train and like when super far but I was able to get back on and like buy my ticket again or like got on the thought of the bus ride would be like 5 hours and then and then it would be like 19, stuff like that but the right direction and just have to be patient and just know that it's you know it will be unpredictable and you have to be spontaneous and be like “Okay well I got to look outside and see Austria a little bit longer” you know yeah you just make the most out of it. And you know but nothing super crazy and I'm I’ve solo travel in some countries who so I just think I've been hearing a lot of my friends they would never do that it's not something they like to they don't like to be alone and stuff but you're never really alone you meet so many more people.

Kristin I feel like it's something that I encourage like all my female friends to do is travel solo. Because it just really bring something out in you like a confidence and like an empathy that you don't have traveling like with your boyfriend of their friends or their family. It really like forces you to like, get in touch with parts of yourself that you wouldn't get otherwise in your normal life for years. Super comfortable. And so I always like to get, even if they just are going to like Costa Rica, and just staying like a nice resort. Or like in a hostel that has like all the amenities and like go with planned activities for you and stuff. It's like, just go by yourself from where you don't have to go somewhere gnarly, but even like just going on a road trip by yourself.

Thom Yeah you can get out to just a weekend trip by yourself. I wish I did more of that with camping. Because I never go and camp alone.

Kristin It’s scary here because there are cougars.

Thom Oh, yeah. I saw tracks today. A lot of cougar tracks. Yeah. I took some pictures of them. I'll show you.

Kristin Yeah, that's been my like, trying not to not do things because people won't do it. Like, if I can't find someone to go like backpacking with me cos like all of my friend group they're, like, very specialized in their activities and I just have a backpack. And so it's like a lot canyoneering or climbing and so it's like, I'm just like, “Okay, let's go backpack in the desert by myself”.

Thom Well, do whatever you want. If you go alone, right? Yeah.

Sweet. Well, I think we

I think we can wrap it up here. Thank you guys for coming on the show. And we're gonna have to have you guys on here again. I didn't know you - Yeah, thanks - Yeah, I didn't know you had booked a flight through Flights Machine.

Kristin I did.

Thom You're gonna have to tell me more about that later. It was the one to Barcelona?

Kristin Like last January.

Thom What you pay?

Kristin It was like three or 400 bucks. It was super cheap. It was on Norwegian, which is a budget airline. And I feel like that, like a lot of people are scared because of like, Spirit and Frontier. But it was actually super nice. It's one of the nicest planes I've been on.

Thom I didn't know Norwegian was a budget airline.

Kristin Yeah, it's like WOW Air. Something like that. It was super nice.

Thom Sweet. Well, glad you had a good experience. And thanks Gretel for coming on the show.

Gretel It was fun.

Thom You guys were great guests, we have to have you on again. Thanks to everyone out there that's listening. And yeah, definitely check out our other shows, we’ll be releasing more I'm going to be recording two more shows this month. So thanks for listening. See ya.

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