<![CDATA[ADVENTUROUS ALEXIS - Lifestyle]]>Fri, 25 Mar 2016 14:06:12 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Why I Travel with PTSD]]>Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:50:56 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/why-i-travel-with-ptsdThe scents which most remind me of home are a Ralph Lauren perfume, incense and spaghetti. They make me think of when I would sit at the table, listening to CBC Radio and playing my Gameboy while my mother cooked and tried to force me to listen to her cooking lessons. I never did learn to cook but these things remind me of good, serene times in my life. Sometimes though, I’ll smell or feel or hear something that brings me back to a place a lot less warm. Sometimes it will be something as simple as sitting in the backseat of a cramped car or other times it will be when I look into the mirror and see the eyes I inherited that will bring back awful memories of a person I both hate to think of and almost never stop thinking about with each waking moment I have. This is part of my PTSD.

I don’t entirely know exactly what moment sparked it or if it was a collection of moments because my memories are tainted or missing. Almost half of my life I can’t remember and the rest is trying to piece together the truth - something I’m never sure of. This is not because I am paranoid but instead because I was brainwashed as a child by someone I should have trusted. I was hurt by them in ways I’m not sure of entirely. I’ve thrown out every photo I own of them too but still their face is as clear to me as the computer screen in front of me right now. I’m not alone in this too.

As I’m only 22 there is a lot of stress that goes along with your mind playing tricks on you and how it tries to combine with senses and emotions to give you hints as to what really happened. As I’m only 22 this stress is amplified because I’m trying to find myself as every young adult does. It’s enough to make a girl feel like Raoul Duke. 
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Me, walking through Camden Town. 2015.
Learning to cope is something that takes years to do - learning how to recognize the symptoms for each person can take a while because you are constantly bombarded by things that might remind you of things if you don’t have PTSD due to combat because you haven’t been physically removed from the place where your trauma happened - at least not in an international sense of the word. Maybe you’ve moved houses or cities but for the most part the difference within a country isn’t night and day. It is more like night and later that night, if that. The people still have the same accents, have the same colloquialisms and do generally the same things.

The change in place is key to living with less flashbacks - they won’t go away entirely but they do lesson with the least amount of familiarity that you have. This is why I travel and why every one who has PTSD should too. 

When I travel I create new memories for myself. I collect them like someone might collect coins. When I travel I am able to have a weight lifted off my shoulders because my fear is replaced with excitement for the newer and better adventures that come with travel. I am able to feel free from the deep sinking pit I always find myself in when any one of my triggers might arise because I don’t have any in places I’ve never been to.
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Two travellers and myself in Italy. 2013.
When I was bathing elephants, eating delicious food, dancing in packed salsa clubs, or even just taking a train further away from where I’d ever been I didn’t have any flashbacks. I didn’t even worry that I might! It’s practically unfounded back home where people with PTSD, myself included, have to learn to bring themselves back to centre from a flashback or dissociation. The new experiences simply don't give you that sense of dread which makes you feel like you’re in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at times. 

When a person with PTSD travels it saves their lives. When a person with PTSD travels it gives them hope that one day, back in their home country, they won’t be constantly afraid of having them because the frequency is so low abroad. When a person with PTSD travels it gives them a much needed break from the hard life they have so obviously lived.

This is why I travel and why I encourage others too because before I had left for my first flight I had never thought that this sort of life was even possible to live and the hope that things could get better for someone with PTSD is very important.

If you, or someone you know, is living with PTSD travel is the best fix there is.

Resources:

PTSD Association of Canada
Suicide Prevention Hotlines in Canada
If  you or someone you know might be having suicidal thoughts due to PTSD or otherwise please seek professional help.
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<![CDATA[how to rideshare]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:23:05 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/how-to-rideshare
Honestly, travel within Canada is a cost I’m not exceptionally willing to bare. Unlike neighbouring America, Canada doesn't have a regulatory board for travel costs so they fluctuate and rise more and more. With the monopoly that the Canadian airlines have to boot, it’s hardly an easy thing to fight so luckily there is an option for budget travellers with a little bit of patience.

Similar to Uber, there is a program that you can take part of where you can travel cheaply and, for the most part, conveniently. With the constant rise of the internet companies, there are several websites where you are able to pay for a membership to assure that your driver has all the necessary paperwork and it allows for some sort of security that they’re not a murderer. Generally these sites offer previews of who your driver is - including gender, driving history and a photo for some. For the traveller, it asks for photo, perhaps some I.D. (particularly Student ID where you are liable for a discount if you are a student) and a little bit about yourself.

This is all well-and-good but how do you make a decision about which person to chose to drive you where you need to be? Well it’s the same as any other type of travel. You make the best decision for yourself, regarding times, prices and if applicable the history of said driver. Most sites will offer the option to rate that person once they have driven you to your destination. The hope is to give assurance to the person who will take the same route in the future. It’s all about kindness within the budget travel community, right?

I, however, did this a little more recklessly because that is just who I am as a person. On Kijiji I found a rideshare option that best worked for me and was a cost that made the most sense. So, trusting that this person wasn’t a serial killer I took the trip. It turns out he wasn’t one because aside from a bit of traffic when he went to pick me up on my trip from Ottawa to Toronto there were no issues. The driver, Shane, kept mostly to himself but was nice and made sure I got to the street car station I needed to be at and we went on our separate ways. Still, if winging it isn’t for you there are many websites you can use to get to your next location whether it’s in Canada or Europe.

Rideshare sites within Canada: RideKar, Kangaride and Carpool.
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<![CDATA[the liebster award goes to...]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:15:49 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/the-liebster-award-goes-toPicture
If you don't know what The Liebster Award don't worry, I'm here young grasshopper. The Liebster is the bloggers version of tagging your friends in those Facebook note based quizes circa 2009. It's a way to get to know the blogger more and a way to get to know more blogs that have less than 1000 people following it. All in all, it's pretty awesome so I am touched that Mareike from Simply Wanderin nominated me for The Liebster Award. 

Now down to the questions.
  1. If you had to pick three awesome things that happened to you in 2015, what would you pick?
    I started 2015 off with crossing something huge off my bucket list. My first time in New York City for my 21st birthday just before edged into New Years Eve in Central Park with a crowd of at least 100 people I'd met that night and regular New Yorkers avoiding Times Square all to celebrate the end of 2014. Shortly thereafter I moved back into London, England which made me happier than I could ever describe after living in the suburbs for a few months for work. Finally, I took a day trip to Amsterdam after spending a night in a casino on the East End, listening to jazz and drinking over priced wine. I visited some of my old stomping grounds and even ran into someone I knew for basically no cost.
  2. What are your travel plans for 2016?
    I hate to be so covert about it but right now it's pretty much under wraps. For daily updates please follow my Facebook page here.
  3. If you could donate $1000 to any charity, which one would you pick and why? 
    Difficult question but the only charity I've worked with in any sort of 
    intimacy has been Elephant Nature Park in Thailand where they take in abused elephants and give them ethical care and lots of love. Lek, the founder, is the most generous person I've ever met.
  4. If you could move anywhere in the world, where would you want to live? 
    Difficult question but I have always wanted to move to Japan. Pretty much everywhere in Japan but I would like to go back to the martial arts roots and learn in a proper dojo. It's been a dream of mine since I got my green belt when I was so much younger than I am today.
  5. If you could travel back in time, which century or country would you want to visit? 
    Personally, I'm much more interested in travelling forward but if it has to go back I would say to Chile or Brazil during the height of Pablo Neruda's career. Poetry has always been a big part of my life and Neruda kickstarted that.
  6. Which country or city would you want to visit again and why? 
    I didn't spend as much time as I'd like in Berlin. I missed so much of what I wanted to do as I was only there for a weekend.
  7. Do you have any advice for other bloggers? 
    My advice to bloggers is the same as my advice to everyone else: be as kind to people as you possibly can be and good things will happen.
  8. Why did you start blogging? 
    I started blogging because after backpacking and moving abroad several times I always felt like I was giving travel advice to people or encouraging them to travel and so I decided to start a blog where I could do just that without having to repeat myself all the time.
  9. What’s your favourite book at the moment? 
    My favourite book at any given moment is the one I'm currently reading, generally speaking. So right now it's a book about an elderly woman who leaves her home, her husband and everything she knows bringing not much more than a shot gun to walk to the sea which she's never seen. It's called Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper.
  10. How do you manage to stay in touch when you travel? 
    I actually wrote a post about having friends on the road. If you haven't already read it, I recommend you do.
  11. What’s your favourite life mantra/motivational quote?
    Most recently it's based off of a movie, actually. The whole movie isn't something I particularly like but in one particular seen it offers a reworking of the alphabet. ABC. A-Always. B-Be. C-Closing. Always Be Closing. You see, I have a nasty habit of procrastinating that I've decided makes me nothing more than a loser whereas I want to be a closer. Not in sales so much as anything I do in life. I know a person learns more from finishing something rather than not because they can't do it perfectly so to me this quote from Glengarry Glen Ross inspired me to complete any task I start even if it means my perfectionism isn't appeased.

Another thank you to Marieke from Simply Wanderin' for these questions. I hope they have given you and all my readers that much more information about myself. So now to nominate even more people for The Liebster as they will have to answer the questions I provide to win. 

1. Ana from Ani Anywhere.
2. Michelle from Sonderbarmii.
3. Roota from Roota's Travel Escapades.
4. Evelyn from Girl Gone Gallic.
5. Francesca from Frankie Goes to Milano

Please  check out their answers to the following 11 questions they must answer:
1. Who inspires you?
2. What do you do to combat any of the negative sides of travelling?
3. How do you plan your trips, if at all?
4. If you could pack up everything you own and move right at this very moment where would you move to?
5. What song do you listen to most on the road?
6. What is your favourite app on your phone/tablet/etc?
7. Which blogs do you check daily?
8. Fill in the blank: ____ and Chill.
9. Which blog post are you most proud of?
10. What is your top 3 items on your bucket list that are not related to travel?
11. What luxury item do you bring on your travels? Why?

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<![CDATA[5 Reasons to Not Be Limited by Identity On The Road]]>Mon, 28 Dec 2015 20:33:19 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/5-reasons-to-not-be-limited-by-identity-on-the-roadTravel is my heart and soul but it’s not my only heart. I’m a girl who loves girls and not just in a Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins kind of way. Maybe I haven’t loved a particular girl yet but it’ll happen someday, that’s not really what this is about. Actually it’s about a question I get asked often since I’ve come out as bisexual. Why do I travel to countries where being part of the LGBT+ community can get me shamed at best, executed at worst? Well, you noble land mermaid let me tell you why.

1. Queer Countrymen

The absence of a voice doesn’t mean there is an absence and this is most prevalent in places like Russia where I could very well be jailed just for being who I am. Maybe I’ve not been yet but when I do go, because I will, I know that I won’t feel as if I’m attacked because a day or two back in the proverbial closet won’t do me much harm. It’s not as if many Westerner’s really believe my sexuality exists anyhow. What it will do is offer a voice to any person who isn’t free to be themselves to know that they are not wrong for feeling this way ever. It’s to let them know that I stand with them, fighting for their rights just as beautiful women fought for mine in the Stonewall Riots.

2. I Want To

If I let every bigot keep me from doing something I wanted to, I’d honestly have to stay inside all day. While I understand that some in the community might not feel the same way I do about giving money to often a corrupt system for entry I still want to see beautiful things and meet beautiful kind people. 

3. Reppin' It

For many queer travellers I’ve met it’s scary to tell complete strangers you meet in hostels that you’re not straight, not cis, not a majority member basically because you don’t know what their reaction will be. Aggression, disgust, hatred, confusion, inappropriate curiosity are all valid concerns and there will be this in some places, to be sure, however my travel story began to combat fear. Maybe the fear was not about my identity but instead a long string of worries I’ve had about my future and now as an openly queer solo female traveller I must say that it is in the back of my mind but I will not let that stop me. Travel is the biggest combatant to narrow-mindedness and if it has to fight against something let it be against those who don’t want me to love who I love. Sometimes all people need to do is realize we are just people and don't have an agenda more than any other traveller does. Like with Americans pretending to be Canadians out of fear of judgement, I say that we're here and they should get to know us and they can only do that if we represent ourselves the way we want to. 
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Photo by Jonathan Oldham at Shelter City Youth Hostel.

4. Surprise Yourself

If you think that the world is full of people who hate us you’re dead wrong. Sorry to say if you’re more of a pessimist than I am but it’s just not right. You and I deserve to be surprised by the overwhelming acceptance you’ll face even in the most conservative places. In Amsterdam I worked at a Christian youth hostel as a cleaner and not only did they not mind that I am in no way a religious person, they supported my endeavours and showed me only kindness and when I came out there was an outpour of support from people I met there, even the most conservative people that I would think would never have and this shocked me most. Not because I thought them as hateful people because stereotypes ruin us all and if you never leave your comfort zone you will never see them shattered.

5. Pave Paths

There was the first female Indian surfer who is making surfing known more to girls everywhere and if I have to pave a path it might as well be doing the very thing I love to do and do it while being exactly who I am. I ask you to do the same and be safe about it too. I won’t give any PDAs but maybe that’s because I don’t believe in them much anyway and I’ll be aware of what I’m doing or saying where and to whom but it will not stop me ever. 
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<![CDATA[off the beaten path: the myth]]>Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:28:36 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/off-the-beaten-path-the-mythWhen we decide to pack our backpacks and then repack them because they're too heavy we all have this thought that we're going to see the big cities and then get whisked away to find some beautiful destination practically untouched by any one else. The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio comes to mind, without all the death... But it's a fallacy - a big one.

When I left Canada in 2013 I didn't have a plan outlined because I wanted to leave space for spontaneity and experiences that would leave me off the beaten path. Instead I spent time playing rock, paper, scissors with myself in train stations or taking travel advice from people in my hostels but for the most part I was going to major cities in each country I went to. These were all wonderful experiences but I kept wondering when am I going to have my own slice of heaven? Arrogant, right? 

Like most things in life you have to make it happen. You have to do detailed research and more often than not you'll need a local guide or independent transportation. For the good old run of the mill traveller it won't happen to you. Sometimes it'll involve a lot of hiking or skipping certain experiences all together. For instance, I missed out on Southern Italy because I spent time in Tuscan villages where they didn't speak a word of English or I, Italian and yet we all were able to interact on such a beautiful level. I saw fields of sunflowers from hill tops and ate figs straight from the trees but only because the research and planning was done.

In short, you'll never get whisked away to places you've never heard of but you can whisk yourself away with a whole lot of planning and a bit of pluck.
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<![CDATA[friends on the road]]>Sun, 25 Oct 2015 10:13:40 GMThttp://www.adventurousalexis.com/lifestyle/friends-on-the-roadPicture
We’ve all done it. You meet the friend of your dreams - your ride or die - and then find out that they're from the other side of the planet so you enjoy your time with them anyway because everything is temporary in the end, right? Sure, that is a way to think about it but instead of promising to see one another again but never actually doing it, there are steps you can take to make sure you do and fulfill your soulmate friendship destiny!

If this seems farfetched, it’s probably because you are caught up in your own world which happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that to another person we are a minor character in their very unique biopic. While out of sight and out of mine can be very real there are ways to combat this. Firstly, don’t be afraid to join Facebook. Everyone has it for a reason. it makes long distance communication so dreadfully easy. If you’re a private person, just keep up your settings to the people you trust! Still, Facebook isn’t enough. You have to make the effort to talk. It’s tricky, trust me. If you see them posting in your newsfeed or dashboard or have a fleeting thought about them or your trip, just say so! It’ll make them feel appreciated which is a really good stepping stone to continuing a conversation.

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It’s also important to make definitive plans and yet still be open to compromise. While your life is happening, so is theirs. It might not happen right away but if you make it clear that you want to see them again it’s very possible. Skyscanner helps too! Know that if it's years down the road, too, that you see them it's very likely that you will have a friendship close enough to pick back up where you left it because that is the magic of the travel lifestyle and meeting people on the road. They have a nomadic soul too.

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