It’s been a while but I’m back with a ridiculous surplus of adventures to share from the past two months of my life. I’ve felt more alive in the past two months then I can ever remember. I feel as if I have said that before on my blog but with little fear of redundancy I dare say it again. I must be doing something right if I continue to feel more and more alive with each chapter of my journey. As if moving to Australia wasn’t exciting enough I also stumbled into what still feels like a fairytale right before I left home. There are so many clichés that can make you crazy, especially about love, more specifically about love when you are doing everything in your power to not be tied to anyone or anywhere. But the old cliché that “it always happens when you stop looking for it” has reared its ironic little head into my life. I had no idea who I would find, staggering through Benjamin’s with more wine than blood in my veins, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Our circumstance seems impossible but as always I am a firm believer that everything works out the way it is supposed to. I am trusting in my gut, the universe, whatever you want to call it and I’m sure everything will fall into place. Thanks to my new partner in crime my last month in America was kicked into overdrive with lots of new friends, good food, long nights, surprises, Coronas and heart to hearts and the grand finale of jumping out of a plane for the first time. We went skydiving the day before I left for Australia and it epitomized how the last month felt; intimidating but extremely exciting, vulnerable but free, anxious but genuinely joyful. I guess it’s most easily explained as serendipity, finding something good without looking for it. And honestly, I still can’t stop smiling.
The next day I hopped in the minivan with my parents, my ridiculously stuffed backpack(s) and boarded the plane with my new traveling partner, and lifetime partner in crime, my older brother Nick. We started off strong by being dropped off at the wrong terminal at JFK. After 27 hours, lots of bickering, and an exploded beard oil can (leading to an extreme drug dog scare at customs) we finally arrived in Australia(or Straya…what we lovingly call it now). We got a shuttle to our hostel in Brisbane, which is the center of the east coast of Australia. We had one night booked at our hostel and absolutely no further plans. I am not exaggerating. We explored the city all day, hit up a street food market and called it an early night. We decided to book another night and wait for the arrival of the final member of the #Wandernuts trio, Jackie, to arrive from Fiji. The owner of the hostel just laughed as we came down to reception the next morning and asked to book another night. He said, “Yeah I planned on coming to Brisbane for a week… 9 years later…” Nick and I looked at each other with an “OH SHIT” kind of glare and #9yearslater became a running joke for the rest of the trip.
It is absolutely mind blowing how many people I have met in Australia in the past month who had no intentions of staying one place or the other but were enticed by the beauty, the freedom and the kindness that saturate every corner of this country. Brisbane served us well and who knows how long we would have been trapped there if it wasn’t for Nick & Jackie’s deadlines to get back to America. If you are visiting Brisbane be sure to check out the XXXX Brewery tour, Koala Sanctuary, rent bikes and tour the riverfront, botanical garden and lagoon. If you are looking for an amazing hostel check out Brisbane City Backpackers, awesome location, sweet set up and the staff was so helpful. The people we met in Brisbane truly made that city come alive. In the blink of an eye, we went from having no plan to having every single day, bus, hostel, ferry and boat trip planned for the next two and a half weeks. Shout out to Jake at Wicked Travel Brisbane, thanks for simplifying our lives and making our holiday experience perfect!
We bought a hop on hop off Greyhound pass from Byron Bay to Cairns which is a great way to backpack up or down the east coast. You can use it as many times as you like, book trips online and change them if you decide you simply can’t leave a place yet. We started in Byron Bay and went on a mad dash up the east coast stopping in Surfer’s Paradise, Noosa for Bush Camp and some intense canoeing in the Australian Everglades, Hervey Bay for a night, a 3 day 2 night camping trip on Fraser Island, a few nights in Airlee Beach and a 3 day 2 night catamaran sail to the Whitsunday Islands. After a magical time staying in the Whitsundays, we went back to Airlee Beach and despite a missed bus, massive hangovers, and my brother nearly eating all of the Big Macs in Australia…we made it to our final point up north in Cairns. The amount of memories, goon sacks, tim tams, accents, new mates, random bug bites/rashes/sicknesses, deep convos, sunsets, drinking games, bush walks, snorkeling, boat rides, and laughs packed into that two weeks certainly can’t be summarized in one blog post. Since the east coast is very popular to backpack through we met so many people in Surfers or Noosa who we continued to run into as we traveled up the coast. By the time we finished in Cairns we had a group of about 15 friends who now felt like people we’d known forever. We’d run into them on the street, checking into the same hostel or out dancing at the night club… Serendipity.
The people truly make the place and despite a shitty tour guide or two, hypothermia, brutal sleeping arrangements, no cellphone service, wifi or let alone outlets…I was reminded why I travel in the first place. Traveling opens your eyes every single day. It opens your eyes even when you felt as if you’d understood it all. Every day is a new conquest and you have no idea what you will see, who you will meet and how you will get there. There are so many bumps along the way and the highlight reel you see of the photographs are NOT the entirety of the journey. Not even close. Yes, I have been in paradise for a month but I promise you every day is not sunsets and lounging. You have to be willing to sacrifice, you have to be willing to talk to unique and semi creepy individuals, endure long uncomfortable bus rides, cook with pots and pans that may or may not be from 1965 and sleep in bunk beds with strangers who may pack all their shit at 5 am or scream while you are trying to rest up for a day of diving. But good mates make the ride bearable no matter what the circumstance.
Backpacking is a culture that you can’t quite explain. You learn to value what little possessions you have, appreciate every luxury as if you have never had it in your entire life, rely on strangers and be inspired by people you never dreamed were out there. As soon as these gems enter your life they quickly leave but sometimes you leave knowing you will see them again. Not every friend, but there are the precious few you hold onto, and the rest you learn to value as temporary entities in your world. You cling to nothing because you have nothing and you realize that being alive, young, willing and ambitious is simply enough.
I’m writing this lounging at the pool of the hostel I chose to settle into in Mission Beach. I came here to meet up with a friend we met earlier in the trip and for skydive #2(this time over the Great Barrier Reef…INCREDIBLE) and found a mini retreat in Scotty’s Beach House. I met a few friends and got them on board to do a detox with me, yoga on the beach in the morning, clean eating, no alcohol and a dose of my favorite program Insanity in the afternoon. It’s awesome to bring my passion for health and fitness with me around the world, especially since my company Beachbody does not sell our products or workout programs overseas. A few of my friends at Scotty’s solely refer to me as “Insanity”, which seems to fit in more ways than one. Admittedly, during my month of backpacking I partook in far too many “cheat days” but I tried to stay as active as possible with canoeing, hiking, running, or even squats between the bunk beds in the hostel. Everything in life is a fine line and I am a firm believer in savoring the experience in front of you… even if that involves downing kebobs and ‘roo steaks at 4 am. But, I am so excited to spend the next month detoxing, fueling my body right, practicing my yoga, working my new job that I stumbled into and reflecting on the amazing journey I just experienced. Serendipity is back again.
For the first time, I am a solo traveler. It was so sad for Jackie and Nick to return to the states but I am excited to experience the independence of existing in a new country alone. Jackie sent me a quote from Mitch Albom after she got back home and I think it sums it up perfectly, “Learn to detach…Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.. But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate fully.” Don’t be scared of what is to come, don’t dwell on what you miss from the past, take control of today, cherish the beauty around you. Life will continue to change, sometimes we are in control and sometimes we aren’t but you can always control yourself. You can decide to appreciate the journey, let experiences penetrate you, trust in serendipity and refuse to settle for less than your wildest dreams. It’s not luck, it’s not money, it’s The Secret. “It’s not I’ll believe when I see it. I’ll see it because I believe it.” Goon on ya. Cheers to making the fairytale continue. Xxxx