I took a week to get my Advanced Open Water certification in Honduras with two of my best friends, and here is some of the footage that came out of the trip:
It turns out that long days commuting on trains can be quite productive, and I've come to look forward to my few hours of semi-internetless time each day. Take a look at the new Instagram I've launched, called the Sketchball, that started as random sayings inspired by friends and have since manifested themselves into strange illustrations. If anything, the illustrations have made this otherwise insane travel time turn into a rather zen place for productivity.
There comes a time on every adventure, when you need to take a step back and reflect just as to how long you are meant to be in one place. Although California has treated me quite well over the past few years, it has come that time to head back to the big city and regroup with friends and family on the East Coast. However, as anyone who is permanently bound to NYC from LA would naturally do, you take the long route and make the best out of the transition along the way. Here are some photos and highlights of the cross-country road trip home I was lucky enough to take with one of my best friends.
Phoenix AZ: It was a great (and hot) place to stop with some gloriously sweaty hikes. People in Phoenix are ambitiously active at scaling those desert-like mountains, however they do serve a great burger and a beer when you are desperate to stop after a long drive.
Marfa TX: It is a long drive through Texas to Marfa that is most definitely worth it. A historically failed booming oil town from the 1920's that was revitalized by a group of artists in the 60's and 70's, Marfa is home to many contemporary art galleries through it's charming streets. We stayed at El Cosmico, which famously hosts many summer concerts and pop up events, that I hope to come back to in the future!
New Orleans LA: We were lucky enough to get to spend 3 nights in New Orleans along this trip, and if there was more time we definitely would have stayed even longer. From staying at charming boutique hotels right by the French Quarter, to traversing the New Orleans Oyster Festival with fellow hostel mates, there was plenty to do.... and drink, along the journey.
Atlanta GA: Was an exhausting drive back from New Orleans, which ended up being our hotel sleep savior. Sorry Atlanta, we can only handle so much in one week and will have to come back!
Asheville NC: One of the most darling brew towns in North Carolina, that is home to many biscuit-loving restaurants and outdoor jam band bars. Perhaps you come for the art scene or the cocktails, but regardless just make sure to take the Blue Ridge Parkway home.
Blacksburg VA: Was a necessary "buffer stop" to spend a night with my sister before officially heading home. However, she did know where to get the best margaritas in town and gave us a lovely tour of campus and the farms.
A few things that couldn't have gotten us along this trip were: Hotel Tonight (a phenomenal app for finding great last minute deals on hotels. You can't beat $80 for in the French Quarter... use code LBORCHERT1 for a $25 discount), regular oil checks (who knew that was the reason my steering wheel was shaking for so long?!), and the Weather Channel App (Texas rainstorms are serious business!).
Working for yourself has become easier than ever these days. With the power of some simple website creation tools, easy to use accounting software, and your standard email, getting started is as easy as powering up in the morning and finding the systems that work best for you.
But the business of freelancing is not always so tangible. What happens when a relationship is more than a click away and finding clients is harder than getting more followers on Instagram?
Here are three things that helped me navigate my own-employment world and hopefully they can be there to guide others too:
1. Be ok (and learn to love) the instability:
Sometimes, you are on top of the world with projects. Regular client meetings, a steady work flow, and a brand new portfolio piece you are pretty damn proud of. Others, you are scratching your head wondering what to do with your days and contemplating if you are ever going to eat again. The instability is one of the hardest things to get used to with self-employment, but also one of the biggest perks. Use this “down time” to revamp your portfolio or contact some of those clients you’ve been thinking of and just haven’t had the push to yet.
2. Find a mentor:
Unlike working in an office full of co-workers to ask wonderful questions to, as a solo-preneur, you need to find your own network. Finding a mentor may not be so easy, but after attending a few events (see below), reaching out to old colleagues who have also gone solo, or connecting with other freelancers on the internet (not really my style, but I’ve seen it work for others!), you can start to get a feel for who you can trust and see is willing to help you. It is beyond helpful to have someone as a sounding board to ask questions to with everything from how to deal with a certain client situation, to which software is better to use. Who knows, they may even have some work to pass off to you when their plates get too full too.
3. Be ok with networking:
Working from home all day by yourself sounds amazing, until you realize that you have haven’t seen people in days and seriously need to leave the house to just confirm that you aren’t a hermit. For me, networking started out as a mere attempt to meet other like-minded creatives and start to navigate a new scene I wasn’t familiar with yet. Joining groups and getting out there not only introduces you to new and interesting people, but is a great way to meet everyone from clients to mentors in one room.
Finally took some time to bring friends with me up to see Ventura and the lemon farm up in Santa Paula. I absolutely adore these towns North of LA. An hour from the city, a walk from the beach, and a quick train ride up to wine tasting in Santa Barbara, you truly have the full Southern California experience without all of the people and the traffic.
Bangkok: Stayed at quaint and centrally located House by the Pond // Visited the bustling Klong Toey Markets (a must see!) // Trekked around Wat Pho Temple // Ate at the hidden gem Eat Sight Story // Day trip + camping Erawan Falls (I highly recommend staying at their very accomodating camp sites, because you can wake up early and beat the crowds to the falls)
Koh Samui: Night Train to Surat Thani // Stayed at Harry's Bungalow and Resort in Maenam; which was close to the pier, but still off the beaten path // Drinks and pool day at the Saree Samui Resort // Ladyboy Cabaret Show in Chaweng // Big Buddah Temple + Markets // Sunset Cafe for an amazing sunset view and cocktails // Maenam Street Market
Krabi: Had a great time staying at the Pak Up Hostel // Lunch at Chalita Cafe nearby // Sunset boat tour of the local fish markets + bat cave island // Explored the Krabi Town night market // Day trip to the Hot Springs + Emerald Pools // Played with monkeys and climbed the steps at the Tiger Cave Temple // Night out in Ao Nang Center Point
Koh Phi Phi: Amazing views at our stay at the Arboreal Resort // Sunset hike up to the View Point // Early morning adventure out to Maya Bay for snorkeling and sightseeing (which was great because we were one of the first boats there and really got to enjoy the view) // Ciao Bella for lunch on the beach
Koh Lanta: Stayed at the accomodating Lemonade Boutique Hotel not far from peaceful Sala Dan Beach // Dinner at Time for Lime cooking school + charitable restaurant // Paddleboarding at Sala Dan // Afternoon lunch + sunset yoga at the beachfront the Asylum cafe // Night out to the local Laanta Lanta Reggae Festival // Amazing dinner at the Mango House in Old Town Lanta
Koh Tao: Couldn't have asked for a better bungalow than our room at the luxurious View Point Resort, complete with infinity pool and ocean front bar // Got our open water diving certification from the amazing crew over at Ocean Sound Dive + Yoga // One night stay at the Thalassa Hotel in Sairee Beach // Dinner and drinks Fizz bar + restaurant with our new diving buddies // Shopping + massages until our Baht and time ran out
Tips for Thailand: Pack light! You will want to buy more than you bring, and the inexpensive clothes they sell at the markets are much more suitable for the Thai heat // Fall in love with the street coffee // Learn to haggle // Plan your trip ahead, but wait until you get there to buy all of your tickets for day travel. All of the online ticket sales go through 3rd party vendors who jack up the prices for tourists. // Take advantage of the cheap massages! // Be open to change, and be happy with the trip however it unfolds for you :)
I still think it is pretty epic you can wake up in the snowy mountains, and travel only a few hours to be back home right by the ocean. Saturday, we went snowboarding in peak conditions. 40 degrees with powder for snow. This morning I woke up to 80 degree weather. Back to my usual jeans and flip flop routine, like no snow fall had ever passed.