While it would be difficult to live a completely plastic-free life in this day and age, it is fairly easy to reduce our dependence on plastics without sacrificing our creature comforts, as some people fear. Just making a few good decisions every day can make an impact. Most travelers I know care about the same things I care about, so here we are, with some tips to help reduce our plastic dependency while traveling.
“I’m Irish, too,” I said to the cab driver on my way to Dublin from the airport after a few days in Lagos. “You were born here?” he asked, raising an eyebrow with his toothpick in his mouth. “Well, no, but I’m Irish, my dad’s 100% Irish.” “Oh. You have Irish ancestry,” he responded, looking back at the road, uninterested in chatting for the rest of the ride.
It has been almost two and a half years since I’ve returned from India, the country I’ve spent the most amount of time in outside of the US. I think about it every single day. I brought back a lot literally from India (including tons of dangly earrings, gorgeous scarves, elephant charms that hang outside my bedroom, a plastic rickshaw toy on my bookshelf, and a broken foot). I also brought a lot back philosophically, if you’ll allow me to steer a little bit that way for this post:
When you don’t have the time (and, okay, the funds) to travel like your heart desires, how do you lean into your intense wanderlust? As nerdy as it may sound totally is, it may spark joy to dive into new worlds in a different way than you’re used to—by reading a sh*t ton. In 2018, instead of counting countries, cities, and National Parks, I counted pages—26,733, to be exact, of the 85 books I completed. Full disclosure, 20 of these books were listened to while getting ready for work or washing dishes, but physically reading 65 books in one year is still something I’m strangely proud of, especially because it’s more than I read in the previous four years combined.
I’d missed the last two autumns in New York, arguably one of the best times to live here. I was excited to see what my neighborhood in Brooklyn would look like when the brownstone owners decorated heavily for Halloween and the colors of fire erupted onto the leaves of the trees lining my block. I was not disappointed, until a blizzard surprised us randomly in the middle of November, which is too early in the season for a woman who wishes it would only snow once in January and once in February, if at all. Strangely enough, some of the leaves held on to their branches for dear life for a few more weeks as if Mother Nature had heard my pleas for more fall weather and duct-taped them up there herself. But yet again, just as I felt in Spring and Summer, I feel like I didn’t have enough time in Brooklyn, as much as I loved the activities and trips that filled my calendar. Perhaps I should have lived here from the beginning.
While Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, and Paris are all different from each other, I realized on my last trip that I have a certain way that I approach each European city I visit. Since I also get a lot of requests for travel advice from people I haven’t spoken to in years (keep them coming!), I thought I’d share what I do in each city that makes me feel like I’ve gotten to know each one.
While I’ve known about Lithuania’s existence for a long time, having been seated next to a new student from there in my eighth-grade English class, I had never heard a thing about it from a tourism perspective. I knew that Riga, Latvia was a cool city based on what my friend Marie had told me about her long layover earlier this year and I knew that Tallinn, Estonia was a frequent stop on Baltic cruises. It just made sense to add Vilnius into the mix if I was already visiting the other Baltic capitals, but I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I found fascinating during my quick two days of exploring:
Okay, let’s be honest here. The rain is terrible. I get it. I totally get it. The plants, they need it to live. Taylor Swift needs it so she can keep writing songs about kissing it in. When you’re already planning on staying in and having a Netflix day, it’s awesome. But when you’re traveling and you only have a few days to explore a place you might never get back to? It is terrible. So you eat. A lot.
My name is Erin and it has been TWELVE MONTHS and three days since my last trip to Europe, but I am thankfully returning THIS WEEK. And yes, I’m super late with my Croatia content because I went right from that trip to finding a job to finding an apartment to settling in to a busy spring and summer. But some of what’s in Zadar hasn’t changed for centuries, so I’m pretty sure everything I loved about this picturesque town on the Adriatic Sea is still the way that it was a year ago–even if nothing about my own life is the same as then.
At one time in my life, I decided that Summer Erin is the best Erin. I suppose this was when I was in college, when Summer Erin had ALL OF THE FUN. Working at a seafood restaurant, playing (drinking) games until bedtime, sleeping over, and going to the beach with her best friends for 90 days in a row. These days, Summer Erin isn’t totally different from Spring and Fall Erin, though she is definitely way better than Winter Erin. Anyway. I had a summer. It was fun, but not summer 2005 fun, which is probably a good thing, because I am an adult now.
If you follow this blog or know me in real-life, you may be thinking this is where I finally reveal that I shouldn’t have traveled with someone to Croatia who I had just met in August in Ireland a few months earlier. After all, I have yet to even mention my Croatian adventure beyond my recaps (October, 2017, Where to Travel in 2018). But the truth is, that wasn’t a mistake. In fact, since my traveling companion and I didn’t know each other that well, it was easier to go with the flow than if we’d been traveling with people we knew for longer. And we’ve stayed friends, even meeting up in NYC just a few weeks ago.
Okay, listen. I had all intentions of keeping up with my blog with my full-time job, but it’s difficult! Not only am I busy from 8 to 6:30 (that’s including my commute), but I have a social life again after being gone from the city for almost two years. Your girl is straight-up tired. AND here’s the (somewhat) sad truth. My days run into each other, my weeks run into each other, and my months run into each other. Not much changes day-to-day so it would have been a veritable copy/paste from one month’s recap to the next. So instead of being late with my April and May recaps where I also might have had to address that I turned 33, I present you with my SPRING recap, or rather some highlights from a very busy season, that started with a weekend with my family for Easter:
Since I began my new job in mid-March, it’s taken me a few weeks to settle in and figure out my commute, schedule, and energy level. I’ve been trying to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while as well as get to know my new coworkers (who are all nice, funny, and welcoming, for the record). I’ve also still been working on my apartment and the exploration of my neighborhood which takes up a good amount of time. I know, “excuses, excuses”, and I’m sorry I’ve been quiet on here, but I promise, I’ll still be around. Here are some fun things I did in March:
When I first moved to the NYC area, I started off in Jersey City, near Grove Street. I lived there because I found a penthouse suite (okay, the top floor of a three-story building) for way less than anywhere I’d seen in Manhattan, right down the street from two of my closest friends Caitlin and Tyler (one of whom has an awesome food blog). I only lived there for a year and two months because I had gigantic dreams of living *in* the city, not just right next to it. This was also during a time in my life when I was staying out until 4 a.m., and not just on weekends, so I thought Manhattan would be easier for my social life.
I didn’t spent a lot of time working on my blog in February because my life was kind of insane, in the best way. That’s because I moved back to New York City this week after being away for more than a year and a half!