When one door closes…

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My first apartment in Long Beach

When Mat and I left French Polynesia, it rained. The hostess at breakfast looked directly at us and said, ‘Bora Bora cries for you’. It stuck with us. This past Monday it rained in Long Beach, and we remembered her words-to us they meant ‘Long Beach cries for you’. It was so foggy out that from our balcony you couldn’t even see the ocean just feet away from the door. It’s as if she was hiding – not wanting to say goodbye (for now). Perhaps these are just things we tell ourselves to make choices that might be hard, seem easier. Either way, we know just how lucky we are to have these choices and remind ourselves of that each and every day.

It took just over ten days to clean, sort, dust, bubble wrap, pack, box, lift, lug, schlepp, donate, pitch, tape, patch, store, arrange and move from one tiny studio apartment to a 10 x 15 storage unit. With the help of many (friends, family and professionals) and a lot of aching muscles, it’s finally done. Stuff that took a decade to build and collect is now divided between a studio apartment in San Diego and a big giant box on Long Island. Locking the garage door of the unit, we looked at each other and said, this is ’our life in a box’. But we are more than our stuff and we choose to create memories over purchasing things…we will be just fine.

Life in a box

We felt that twinge of the past creeping in as we closed the door to apartment 2N for the last time. This was my first apartment. This was the first place that we lived together. Separate and together, we had many amazing moments inside and out of those four walls. Dessert nights and picnics, movie nights and sleepovers, dinners with friends and family, engagement joy and wedded bliss, travel planning, daydreaming and so much more happened here. It’s amazing what an empty apartment looks like at the beginning and end of a stay, but, it’s the magic in the middle that counts.

at 830 Shore Road-Long Beach

You never get another first apartment. Having always wanted to live on the ocean, I am so very lucky to have been able to call this one mine. The community at Sunrise Point Each was welcoming from day one. There have been people to look after me and learn from, those to celebrate and struggle through with, break bread with and deliver treats to, be part of the ‘beach crew’ with and to say hi to in the laundry room, hallway, lobby and lift as is what happens in any type of communal living setting. They’ve been a part of this past decade and won’t soon leave my life or memory.

So very many happy memories

I’m sure all people make transitions in their own way. For me, it’s nice to be able to have some sense of closure when possible and this trip to NY to close up that first apartment gave me that. With limited risk, we leave 2N to spend some time in what we’ve learned is known as ‘America’s finest city’ (San Diego) to experience a summer everyday lifestyle, work life balance and dine on an array of fish tacos greater than the amount of taxis in New York. As Ferris Bueller said, ‘life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’

We’re doing just that. Spending some time ‘looking around’, experiencing another adventure and learning as we go. None of this takes anything away from the years spent growing, learning, experiencing and building in 830 Shore Road in Long Beach-I believe it’s what’s provided some of the building blocks that allowed me to make this jump. Thanks to all at Sunrise Point East and the LB Community at large who helped me grow. We’ll be back…that city has a way of doing just that-calling you home. Although it won’t be at apartment 2N, who knows, it might just be another one in the very same building that started it all. Meet you on the boards and see you on the sand, Long Beach.

More adventure yet to come!

Thank you, Long Beach.

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Azores Beach, Long Beach, NY

Somewhere between nine and ten years ago I moved out of my parent’s house into my first apartment. The building’s been renovated a few times, slammed by a couple of hurricanes, seen a turnover of renters and owners but has always accepted me with open arms. Long Beach has been my home. Waking up to the sight of the Atlantic at Azores Beach and drifting to sleep each night as the waves crash at the shore has comforted me more than words. The lights from the perfectly aligned cargo ships waiting to enter New York harbour each night no longer look like alien encounters, but nightly friends showing up to say hello. Starry nights, fabulous fireworks, the answers to life’s questions in the whitecaps of the waves and sand beneath my toes at any day I wish have been constants, comforts and joys for the past decade. To say I will miss it is an understatement, but it’s time to spread my wings.

Anniversary at Azores

Everyone’s time frame in growth and life are different. I feel like I grew up here. Perhaps the thirties for me may be the twenties for someone else, but I found my way in Long Beach. I went from teaching/advising to event planner, from inactive exercise to anti-gravity yoga, from barely walking to training for 2-day walks on the boardwalk’s boards, from aquatics director to freelance writer, from single to married, from islands only to world traveler and from town resident to active volunteer, participant and organizer all in this city by the sea. I got married on this beach.

Magic on the sand

Through the world of social media many have witnessed this change but as I look back, I never would have guessed that this girl from Plainview would be me. Long Beach helped me get here and for that I am forever grateful.

Long Beach Boardwalk, Long Beach, NY

I can’t thank the people and this city enough for helping me find my way. I’ve spent more time than I can count breathing in that magical ocean air and pondering life’s questions on those special boardwalk benches. This city never leaves you. On the first Sunday in February, I wore my Polar Bear gear with pride in solidarity with those jumping into the freezing Atlantic.

Wedded bliss at Azores

I’ll smile the week of Memorial Day knowing that my forever friends, those bright orange lifeguard stands will make their appearance once again and shed a small tear on Labour Day weekend knowing that it’s their time to get some much needed rest for the winter. I’m sure someone will make sure to bring snacks (they’re big fans of chocolate cupcakes) to my friendly lifeguards (Henry, Matt, and Marv) on Azores swim and surf to check up on them and thank them for being there day in and day out all summer long. I know they won’t forget me as I won’t ever forget them. I’ll check the city website in the summer and get that same giggly feeling knowing that it’s craft fair weekend in Long Beach, some of my favourite weekends of the entire year! Long Beach is a part of me.

Friend! xo

I always wanted to live on the beach. There’s not one minute of being here that I’ve taken for granted. Even when leaving by choice or force of nature, I knew I’d be back. That said, we KNOW we’ll be back-perhaps just not in that very same first apartment with that very same view (it’s the only Long Beach one I’ve ever lived in), but living here has taught me that the things I love are worth fighting for and if I can find a way to have those joys all the time, I should go and get them! A friend of mine once told me that I was lucky. She categorized that ‘lucky’ by the things that made me smile were both inexpensive and easy to find. ‘You’re happy with your toes in the sand and $1 flip flops on your feet’, she said, why can’t you have that all the time? She’s right – it’s time to give it a shot!

On 'our' lifeguard stand at Azores Beach, Long Beach, NY

Thank you, Long Beach (and apartment 2N at Sunrise Point East). The people, the smiles and lifeguards, the kindness and compassion, the guidance and the friendships, the cupcakes and picnics, the memories, the sandcastles and s’mores, the birthdays and magical moments, the smell of the ocean and the toes in the sand kind of days-for all of it, thank you! There’s a special place in my heart for this building, this city by the sea and all who have called it home at one point or another. We know we’ll be back!

Love on the sand at Azores, Long Beach, NY

After a December spent road-tripping across the US and avoiding the winter’s snow in southern California, we’ve decided we’re just not yet done with sunny San Diego. We’re hanging here for a bit longer and as always…all are always welcome.

A very special place

And I promise, no matter where I am in the world there will always be a shell in my pocket and sand in my shoes. Whether it’s today, tomorrow, next month, next summer, next year or sometime in the next decade…we’ll grab an ice cream at Marvel, meet you on the boards and see you on the sand.

With love from Long Beach, Long Beach, NY

Interview: Sherry Ott of Ottsworld

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I ‘met’ Sherry Ott of Ottsworld through the online world of travel. Her story resonated with me on many fronts. The career break after over a decade in a profession, the teaching, New York City, the event organizing (Meet, Plan, Go), the volunteering and of course, the TRAVEL. Having made a jump from IT to travel nomad, Sherry wanders the world telling stories, sharing experiences, and looking for life’s adventures beyond the traditional ‘office walls’. Here she shares a bit of her knowledge and wandering wisdom with me.

sherry ott 5  - hiking the Lycian Way in Turkey

1.When did you get started traveling? I left my corporate career in September 2006 with the plan of traveling around the world for one year on a career break. And yes – 8 plus years later I’m still traveling. Yes, there’s been lots of changes to that original plan!

2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? My addiction to wanting to experience new things every day. I really loved being on the road every day when I started traveling; experiencing new cultures, new ideas, new scenery. And only 3 months into my initial career break travels I decided that I had to figure out a way to keep this travel going. I didn’t want it to end. I spent the next 12 months trying to figure out how to make it happen – and finally settled on teaching ESL in Vietnam in 2008. However things have really evolved from there into what I do today and my travel is quite different these days. But the majority of the time I’m still experiencing new things and cultures.

sherry ott 3 - teaching at Iolani School in Oahu

3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? Strangely when you’ve been doing this as long as I have the naysayers all give up and go away. I don’t really recall any naysayers at this point. I think I’ve proven that it’s possible to be location independent and to build a life around travel. After all – it’s been more than 8 years of this lifestyle – and that’s longer than I ever stayed in any one job or apartment for that matter! The benefits are plentiful – but mainly it helps me accomplish that desire for newness and learning.

4.How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’/traveling often? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent/travel-based life? I saved money for my initial career break trip – but after that I’ve been now working on the road to support myself. I scrap together a living basically. It took a long time to get to where I am today in my travel blogging/writing/photography career. It’s evolved further each year – which is a good argument for why you need to just persevere and time has a way of helping you along. I started as just a career break traveler and kept my own personal little blog, then started teaching ESL, I also started managing websites for expats, I housesat to save money, I wrote for expat magazines, I started another travel website/business (MeetPlanGo.com), I started getting paid to travel and cover destinations or tours, I did other teaching and lectures, I run social media for small companies, I am a contributing writer for a number of online website and travel companies…you name it…I do it. I’ve had to hustle and be scrappy – but it has kept me a float and on the road.

tour, phone, motorbike, saigon

5.How do you choose your destinations and for how long you’ll stay? What type of accommodations do you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? About 40% of the time I choose my destinations myself and simply go there and 50% of the time my travel writing work decides my destinations. Destinations invite me to come cover them in my writing/social media outlets and they pay my way and make most of the decisions on where I stay (mainly hotels). However when I decide myself and pay my way, then I normally just choose based on what flight is cheap, what new country I want to tick off, or what friend I want to see. I stay in short term apartments or rent a room in someone’s home normally – the thing I use most is Airbnb. However recently I have been choosing destinations by activities or adventures that I want to do. I spent 7 weeks in India because I wanted to do the Rickshaw Run Race, I was in Spain for a month walking the Camino de Santiago trail, etc. I based a lot of my decisions on unique adventures I hear about and they speak to me for some reason so I end up making my way there to do those things. The other 10% of the time my nieces decide my destination. I take each one of them traveling with me after they turn 16 yrs old and they get to choose where they want to go in the world and I take them there. So far they’ve chosen Italy, Vietnam, and Peru.

6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? Well – I don’t have a home or a car or anything for that matter…I live out of my suitcase and have a small storage unit in NYC. My only regular bills are insurance, cell phone, and storage unit. I need around $15,000 to $20,000 to support this lifestyle. This comes with the assumption that a lot of my travel is free if a destination has invited me there. The key for me is that I keep my expenses very low – then I don’t have to make much.

sherry ott 2 - playing in Holi in India

7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? I do freelance writing and am a contributing writer on a few different sites, sell photography, get hired for social media marketing campaigns, run Meet Plan Go events, do travel consulting, I run a facebook page for a photography company, I do speaking engagements, and I sell advertising on my travel website occasionally. And whatever else comes up! I don’t really save for retirement – however I had a 14 year career in corporate IT and saved during that time – so now those are investments that I don’t touch. I was very diligent about saving for retirement ever since I was 22 years old and had my first corporate job. I’m quite conservative financially – so my goal is to simply break even every year and as long as I still love to travel and this lifestyle then I stay on the road. If I weren’t breaking even – I wouldn’t be doing this.

8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? I have an expat healthcare medical insurance plan that covers me when I’m in the US and all around the world (GeoBlue). I have a CPA that I work with to file all taxes electronically. I use Expensify app to help me keep track of all expenses for tax purposes – so everything is electronic. I always ensure I have internet access with my Telecom Square mifi devices. I actually wrote a post on this subject! Basically use a bunch of phone apps for document management – and visas and passport needs are handled when I’m in the US or at embassies of the countries I’m in – it’s all pretty simple. I think most people think it’s much harder than it is.

Rickshaw Run-India (Sherry Ott)

9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? I have no idea.

10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/travel-heavy lifestyle? It all sort of depends on what you want to do to make money. Are you a tech person designing websites, a travel writer like me, a yoga instructor, an ESL teacher? For me what worked was to pick a place that is cheap and go there and stay for a while, network, use the time to live cheaply, and explore. The key is to go slow – give yourself time to get settled into a place and find a rhythm – and more importantly network and figure out a business strategy for how you are going to make money. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you go – it presented itself while I was in a place going slow.

sherry ott 8 - hiking in Patagonia

11.In your experience, what have been the two most significant gifts of travel? These aren’t actually gifts of ‘travel’ per se, but they are more gifts of living nomadically for this long: It has taught me how to live a simple lifestyle and hone down what is really important to me and live with basic necessities. And whereas it has separated me in many ways from my old relationships and friends, it has given me new friends all over the world, and has brought me a much tighter bond with my own family.

Check out her website for more details.

Choose Positive

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Choose positive...at Iguassu Falls, South America

Last night my husband and I flew to San Diego from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Hoping (of course) for nothing out of the ordinary, our six-hour journey (which arrived safely and slightly ahead of schedule) was punctuated by an act of kindness that warmed our hearts and we could only repay with a ‘thank you’ and a smile. Read the rest of this entry

Headed East for a visit!

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Long Beach, NY

Tonight we fly to New York for a visit. Weird. I’ve never before heard myself say ‘New York’ and ‘visit’ in the same sentence since for almost forever it’s been my home base. We know how to ‘visit’ Melbourne, Australia and of course ‘visit’ friends in other places, but never ‘visit’ New York. Read the rest of this entry

Weekend Wanderings-Part Two (Baseball in the Desert)

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This past weekend was our first ‘major’ road trip from San Diego. Joined by our friends for a weekend adventure involving all things baseball, we journeyed to Phoenix, Arizona-the land of the Cactus League for Major League Baseball Spring Training.

happy at spring training

Having never been to spring training, none of us knew what to expect. Deciding to make the most out of the adventure, we stopped just over the border in Yuma, Arizona. Reminding me of my dad’s favourite western movies, at 8am on a Saturday morning, Main Street in downtown Yuma is completely deserted. Cherishing remnants of its history, these storefronts are reminders of Yuma’s western roots and earlier times. Seems like a perfect place to have a snack before getting back on the road. Read the rest of this entry

Weekend Wanderings-Part One

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at Joshua Tree

While life in San Diego has proved pretty amazing for the both of us, we found ourselves venturing outside of the city these last two weekends. Seeking a journey of a few miles and a wander through a different portion of the west, we took our trusty CRV to the road to see where life would take us just a few hours away from the Pacific.

Joshua Tree National Palr

Our first weekend destination was Joshua Tree National Park. Just shy of three hours from San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park beckons hikers, climbers, campers and tree-huggers to a desert climate filled with Dr. Seuss-trufula tree look alikes, boulders of all shapes and sizes and cacti as far as the eyes can see. On our way, we stopped in Murietta at Pie Place Bagel and Bakery selling Australian pies for a well-deserved taste of home. Continuing north and west, we wound our way past twirling wind farms, giant boulders the likes of a scene from The Princess Bride and endless land to Joshua Tree. Open year-round, Joshua Tree National Park is a haven for climbers and hikers thrilled to know that trails are merely suggestions here-the entire park is fair game! Aside from the parks of southern Utah, this has been the best RV watching spot around so far. Caravans and campers of all sizes, shapes and cost litter the campsites peaking out from behind boulders tucked beside the trails. One of these days I’m going to have to go RV shopping to see the insides of these mobile marvels. Read the rest of this entry

Seuss and Ships in San Diego

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February is Museum Month in San Diego, California. Macy’s department stores sponsor this month long event offering fifty-percent off most museum entrance fees to any holder of its free museum month card. But, would they be interesting? Would they keep my interest? Or would I just wish in each moment that I was outside on an adventure somewhere or at the beach? Trust me, I am as surprised at the experience as you are!

We’ve been privy to a few museums in our stay so far in what I’m quickly understanding wins the token name of ‘America’s finest city’. We spent time at the San Diego Museum of Art watching as a man whose name is synonymous with philanthropy in this city donated to the art community; a brand new painting. We also met up with one of Mat’s friends from high school and his family to spend a day as pirates and submariners at the Maritime Museum. There we boarded vessels of all types, tried our hands at swabbing the deck and to my mother’s dismay, slithered our way through the tiny crawl spaces of both an American and Soviet submarine-now that was cool. Read the rest of this entry

A San Diego Weekend to Remember

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Embrace the sun – Soak up the Vitamin D – Live in the moment – Go outside and play

These phrases all bounced around my head this weekend. As photos of another Northeastern blizzard bombarded my Facebook pages, we jumped head first into San Diego’s outdoor lifestyle. Except for the time we lived in Melbourne, I can’t remember another February that I was this active. All of my other Februarys have been spent huddled under blankets, swaddled under layers and layers of thermals and sweats and drinking as much tea as my bladder could handle (amidst one week of fabulous sunshine). This one is different. This one we get to be outside. It may seem silly, but for me, the weather makes all the difference.

fun on Valentine's Day at the Melbourne Zoo Read the rest of this entry

Travel and adventure in downtown San Diego

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This weekend was the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. Attending as press, I was allowed in Saturday morning for a one-hour session filled with a meet and greet, photo sessions, activities and an early look at the travel options available.

at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show

I could actually walk to a travel show from my apartment-so that was already an exciting start to a lovely Valentine’s Day. Press time here had about fifteen people ready and willing to jump straight into a weekend of travel. We were greeted by the Founder and CEO of Travel and Adventures shows, Jon Golicz. After riding in on a Segway, he hopped off and shared the theory behind these shows that dare travelers to gather and learn about their travel dreams. He told his listeners that in all of their studies, they’ve found that many of today’s travelers ‘like to plan as much as take their trip”. Hopefully, by visiting this travel and adventure show, they’ll not only be able to create that next holiday, but without a doubt, remember it! Read the rest of this entry