2012- A Nomadic Year in Pictures

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is drawing to a close, especially after it being so eventful for myself, as well as most of the world.

Hilary in Banshee Canyon Continue reading

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That Time I Met The Muppets…

“Okay, so this is where the magic will happen,” Bill Baretta gestured to the open space lined with dozens of tables. “Jane will be here shortly to set up The Workshop. I’m sure she’ll be happy to have you. We can always use an extra set of hands.” I nodded, still stunned I was talking to the Bill Baretta- lead Muppeteer with the Jim Henson Company.

Billbarretta2011

My dad leaned over and whispered to me as he left to go work on set, “You should hear him do all the character voices. It’s incredible.”

I believed it. I’d never met a Muppeteer before, but there was something about him that was- for lack of a better word- whimsical. Did all Muppeteers possess this magical quality? Or were my powers of analysis dulled by my extreme excitement over being a Muppeteer Assistant for a day? Continue reading

How A Year of Blogging Changed My Life

Here I sit in a coffee shop in downtown Brisbane marveling at the artwork that is my cappuccino. I absolutely love foam artwork, probably because it’s both beautiful and delicious. This is such a perfect moment.

As I survey my surroundings, I start thinking of all the steps I’ve taken to get to this particular place, at this particular moment, in this particular region of the globe. It’s been a long journey and isn’t anywhere near done. But really, how did I get here?

I mentally rewind the moments in my head, backing them up through the preceding months. I watch myself walk backwards on the plane, unpack my suitcase, repack my suitcase, fly backwards in time to the Northwest, skip my way down the steps of Montmartre, slide up the side of a volcano, and perfectly seal all the rejection letters from the psychology graduate programs and place them back in the mailbox. Wait. Play. I watch myself cry and use the envelopes of the letters as tear-catchers. I watch myself log onto WordPress and write my very first blog post. Wait. Pause. Has it really been a year since I began this unconventional journey? Continue reading

The Las Vegas Lowdown: The Female Tourist Misstep

As I’ve navigated my way from Australia to Fiji, I can’t seem to stop uttering mental thank-you’s to all of my fellow travelers and readers out there. Reading your blogs and messages with tips and suggestions about where to go and what to do has significantly eased the stress of this adventure. I am so grateful to have such a gracious following and have been touched by the offers I’ve received for guides in each city.

As a solo female traveler, I often have to rely on the kindness of others for directions or advice, but the generosity I have received has been paramount in making this journey a memorable one!

I can’t wait to share with you all that has gone on, but while I wait for more consistent internet access, I’ve decided to give back to you the only way that I know how: by sharing my knowledge base. You’ve been so kind as to share with me your advice on your home cities, now it’s my turn to do the same. Continue reading

Tuning up: The Airplane Travel Playlist

Thirty seconds after arriving at the McCarran International Airport, this realization I keep compartmentalizing hit me again. It burned its way into my consciousness like the jet fuel smell was doing to my nostrils. I couldn’t push it away anymore and this annoyed me, but there it was: I hated flying.

It’s not that I’m afraid of flying, it’s just that the whole process kind of makes me uncomfortable. Between the security check point strip down, the looming armrest battles, and funny airplane smell, it’s hard to find your zen. But quite possibly the worst flying battle to try and overcome is a bad luck of the draw with seat assignments. Every time you buckle up for your next destination, you’re playing a risky game of social roulette. If you’re lucky, you get the cute newlywed couple or the mom and pop type who think you are, “A very well behaved young woman.” But I’m from Vegas. I know the odds of winning. The statistics were not in my favor. Continue reading

The Road to OZ: WTF, Universe?

“Marvin, you don’t understand. These are my hopes, my dreams, my only future plans hanging in the balance here!” I made some indiscernible whining noise in the hopes of emphasizing my exasperation. “You know I’m good for it, and you know this isn’t my fault.” I looked at my clock and winced at the time. “Marvin, I’m tired, it’s five in the morning here and I don’t know what to doooooo.” I surprised myself with how I howled through the o’s. Clearly I was desperate. Coyote desperate.

The Aussie on the other line chuckled warmly and said in his sexy-but-slightly-indistinguishable-accent, “I understand Miss Billings, but until you manage to get your bank on board there’s not much that I can do for you except assure you that we will not cancel your booking at the moment.”

I rolled over on my bed, staring at the plaques and medals dangling on my wall. It had been awhile since I’d spent a night in my childhood room. I was reminded of the late night phone calls I’d had with my girlfriends in high school. And reminiscent of those days, I was once again up all hours of the night.

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The Ask All Tell All’s of Nomadic Life: Financing Your Fun

Are you interested in pursuing a gypsy lifestyle? Traveling the world professionally? Constantly making new friends and exploring new places? Welcome to the club!

Don’t know where to start or how it can be done? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, I am constantly receiving e-mails and comments from people asking how they too can pick up and go.

Often times, I feel like its difficult for people to fathom how I lead my life. It’s like I’m constantly trying to act out the season finale of Lost. No-one gets me.

This is partly my fault. I just kind of started this journey and continued to blab about it without much regard for others looking to travel. Sorry about that.

So this is the beginning of a series of blogs elucidating the best kept secret of full-time travelers: how they manage to make it happen. You’ve asked for it, and now I’m giving it to you, starting with the foundation: finances. You can send me a thank-you card later. =) Continue reading

Want me to jump out of a plane and blog about it? Read on…

Okay, I am the first to admit that I hate asking for help. I would rather walk down the Las Vegas Strip barefoot in the deadly summer heat than ask my friends or family to spot me a twenty. But unfortunately for my pride, this time around I need you to help me achieve one of my long fantasized and romanticized adventures: skydiving somewhere beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Bucket List Publications

When I was seventeen I wrote out my first bucket list (naturally, in sparkly pink gel pen). Skydiving was one of the first things I scribbled down in my cramped unabomber handwriting. I remember confidently deciding this was the perfect experience for me because it combined by biggest fear (falling to my death) with my most coveted super-hero power (flying). Continue reading

Hilary Goes Hiking Part II: Adulation for Banshee Canyon

I am nothing if not a fan of losing my way with words. But the more I explore the more I struggle to elucidate the memories. It’s almost as if every word in the English language is too restrictive or cliché to do the scenario justice. Sometimes all I can think is, “Wow, what a wonderful world we live in.” Other days, if you’re lucky, I’m a little more articulate than a drooling baby.

Hiking through Banshee Canyon was a spiritual experience, seemingly observed and emboldened by the faces in the gorge. I could feel the wisdom of the earth seeping through my skin, brought in on the twisting winds and carved out in the petroglyphs.

I believe every person given the opportunity to take a climb up the rings and into the canyon will take away a piece of the peace and love that lives there. I’d like to think that’s why the canyon is filled with divots and holes; the magic and history that fills the soil is literally given to each traveler. Continue reading

Hilary Goes Hiking Part I: The City Girl Adjustment

I sat on the curb in the still of the morning, listening to the hum of traffic on the I-15. I glanced at my phone, wondering if my decision to get up so early would end up being as regrettable as it felt at the moment. There was nothing I wanted more than to crawl back into my bed and drift into a deep slumber. I, however, had committed to seeing this day through. I had never been hiking before and today was the day I decided to redress this sad fact. Damn me.

I’ve always been aware that my home town sits surrounded by beautiful hiking trails that would take little effort on my part to experience. And for as much crap as I have gotten from my friends about it, I’ve just been more focused on having foreign adventures. But now that I was back in town, it was time for me to start familiarizing myself with the beauty surrounding Las Vegas.

When fellow writer and friend, Matthew O’Brien, expressed interest in checking out one of the national preserves, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my hike on. So here I was at the crack of dawn sitting on the curb in front of my house, cursing my enthusiasm.

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