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Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

 

So here it goes again, that same familiar feeling that I crave yet despise. My bags are packed and I’m just counting down the minutes until I have to leave for yet another airport, but this time is different. This time I’m leaving heartbroken yet rejuvenated. This time I’m leaving to start my life, again. I came to Dubai to visit Jeff so we could go to a blogging conference in Sri Lanka. It was nothing like I though it would be. This trip, this adventure has been one of the most difficult I’ve had to date. It wasn’t hard because of the travel, but instead because of what I have learned and what I am now leaving.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

Meeting all the other bloggers at the conference was eye opening. Here they are, the top travel bloggers in the world who are all coming together to share their stories and their insight and somehow, with our little blog, we were invited to join. There are a thousand things I learn logistically about running a blog; SEO, social media, but the most important thing that I learned was how to put myself into our stories. There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.

“There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.”

 

Our story started back in 2010. I was in photo school in California and meeting Jeff for the first time at a gallery opening for a project he had just completed. I was memorized, I was taken away by his stories of his travels, something I had never done before. We became inseparable, best friends. Everyone kept telling me that he wanted more, but I was too naive to listen. That friendship lasted even after college until we finally started dating. He became so much more than just my best friend and I was certain he was it for me. It wasn’t long after we got together that we decided to quit our jobs and travel the globe. We moved straight to the other side of the world and started our lives in Thailand together.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Jeff & Marina in college, one of the first photos of us ever.

The next year would be the most difficult for me. I left everything I ever knew, everyone I had ever met and was in a strange place, a place were I would grow to love but at the same time resent. I was scared and felt so alone, even though Jeff was by my side. We started the blog and things on the outside were picture perfect, but inside I was screaming to get out. I had everything most people wanted so why was I so depressed? I think for me I wasn’t ready to be everything to someone, I was still young and selfish and unconsciously grew to resent Jeff. He was so strong, he had it all figured out and it made me insane with jealousy. We did everything we could to make it through, but for me all I wanted was to go home. Even after traveling non-stop for 6 months together, a trip that was perfect, I just wanted to run away. I needed a break to figure myself out and emotionally get back on my feet. It’s ironic looking back now at how good Jeff and I were during this trip, when all we did was have the time of our lives.

 

When I got back home I jumped right into another relationship, a relationship that ended up hurting me in every way a person can be hurt. It wasn’t right and it was exactly what I needed to ignore the pain of the breakup with Jeff. That relationship ended badly to say the least. While I was home ignoring those feelings, Jeff was back in Thailand facing them head on. For me it was out of sight out of mind. Coming to Dubai to visit Jeff, where he was busy starting a new chapter, should be easy, I was moving on, I started seeing someone else, someone good and so was he. I thought it would be like before were we could just be best friends and hang out like old times.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Desert safari in Dubai

I arrived in Dubai to reunite with my best friend and yet my ex boyfriend. Everyone told me what it would be like, but I just shrugged it all off telling myself, “you’re over him.” Nothing prepared me for the rush of emotions I felt when I walked though that door. It was him, but he was different and he wasn’t alone. Since we had been friends for so long before and since he had taken the past six months to get over me, something I just ran away from, he treated me as one of the guys, but for me it was like he had just taken a hammer to my heart. I never expected to feel that way and didn’t know how to handle it. I played it cool. The three of us hung out all night, and they had no idea how much I was hurting on the inside. That night I cried myself to sleep, I couldn’t handle knowing he was in bed with another girl just on the other side of the wall from me.

 

When we went to the conference we were faced with the awkward conversations of explaining that although we had started a couples travel blog we were no longer a couple. Everyone had questions, “How?” “You guys get along and travel?” “Wait, you’re both seeing other people?” They had no idea how I was feeling on the inside. We hadn’t been together since we broke up, since he had moved on, since I thought I had but clearly hadn’t.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking UpIt wasn’t until we returned to Dubai that I completely fell apart. There is nothing more agonizing then the pain of getting over someone, yet doing it in front of them. Jeff did everything he could to still be my best friend and to be there for me, but there was nothing he could do. So now I’m back in that moment, waiting to leave for the airport to return back home. A part of me wishes that he would just ask me to stay, but I do know that there is a reason we fell apart in the first place and decided to end our relationship; those reasons haven’t changed. I’ve never felt this way before. On one hand, we still want the world and are so inspired to push the blog to the next level and travel full time, but on the other hand we’re both just trying to survive and live our lives. For me that means getting over the love of my life yet at the same time I’m about to board a flight to go back and tell the man I’ve been dating that I’m not over my ex, that I don’t know how to be with anyone right now. He’s a good man and deserves to know the truth. If I had known I felt this way I wouldn’t have started seeing him. I ‘m leaving one side of the world with a broken heart to go back to the other side to break someone else’s.

 

“We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to

share them with you.”

Traveling has taught me so much about myself. It has made it so easy to run and hide from the things I am too scared to face, but now I welcome the challenge of new beginnings and the next chapter. .Jeff and I will always be the best of friends and we will always travel and I am thankful to have him in my life. Getting over the heartache and moving forward both as friends and as business partners will be the first step.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Always celebrate the good times!

Life will always throw you curve balls but it’s when you come back a stronger person you realize why it was so difficult in the first place. Traveling has given me strength I never thought I had. Moving home has been anything but easy, but I have made some amazing friends who want to experience new places and start to travel. I’m thankful for these past few years and I am thankful for Jeff. He has inspired me to always be stronger and better. My life would never have been the same without him and although it is difficult for him not to be with me yet I am finally ready to move on and am looking forward to the next chapter.  I will never regret the choices that have lead me down this road. Jeff’s friendship has made me stronger and I’m so happy for him and his new life. He is doing incredible things and sharing this blog with him is a blessing. We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to share them with you.

 


 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

 

Living abroad was one of the best and most difficult things I’ve ever done. It was exhilarating and exciting and besides who doesn’t want to live on a tropical island? When we moved to Phuket, Thailand I was ready to become an expat and enjoy every minute of it. Life in the United States wasn’t going the way I had envisioned. I was working like crazy, struggling to pay of my looming student loans, and just overall didn’t feel free. Everything changed the second I decided to move to Thailand.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeI never thought that two years later I’d be coming back to live in the United States. I was ready to be back on U.S. soil and see all my old friends and family, but it prove to be much more difficult than I thought. When I was abroad, it was hard being away and not having many people to talk to. I was ready for all the comforts of home and to finally be able to share some of my travel stories, but I didn’t expect to feel like a failure. The more time I was home, the more I started to feel like I had moved backwards in life. I had done such a crazy and adventurous thing by moving abroad and taking control of my life, but moving home just felt like all of that was all for nothing; it felt like I had failed.

 

Nothing prepared me for when I would talk to new people and explain that I had once been an expat. Their eyes would light up with excitement and delight just to be followed by such a disconcerting look followed by those words, “And you moved back home?” Nobody seemed to understand and it was easy to assume that living abroad was perfect. I’d call my friends and they’d ask, “How is it there?” and before I could respond they’d say, “Oh its so beautiful, life must be perfect!” How could I ever explain that it wasn’t? That life, no matter where you live still has its ups and downs? So I kept quiet.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

“I can’t help but feel sad

at the thought that it is

all behind me now.

Why did I move home?” 

 

 

The past two years of my life have been the most exciting ever and I can’t help but feel sad at the thought that it is all behind me now. Why did I move home? I guess some backstory is in order. Jeff and I moved to Thailand as a couple. He and I both always wanted to live abroad, but never really had the courage to do it alone. We were what we both needed to take that huge step into the unknown and I was so grateful I had my best friend by my side while I did it. When we pushed that button to book our one-way ticket to move to the other side of the world, we both knew that it would make us or break us as a couple. We talked about how things could end badly, but in the end it was worth the risk.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeAfter selling everything we owned, moving out of our apartments and even quitting our jobs, we were off. Once we settled into our new life, reality started to settle in. It was confusing. We were in such a beautiful place, yet it seemed so dark. We went from being best friends and a couple that worked all week and lived 70-miles apart to living together on an island, working and running a business together and being our only friends. After struggling we both decided that something had to give, and unfortunately that was the relationship. For me, I’d rather have my best friend and be single then loose everything we had built together, and Jeff felt the same way. So I decided to move home, it was difficult, but I needed it.

“I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.”

 

Now that I’ve been back home for six months, I find myself feeling depressed and out of place. I keep thinking about moving abroad again, but I know that it would be scary to do alone. I’ve become so comfortable in my little bubble being back in my hometown that moving again is scary. Is in normal to feel this stuck? The answer is yes.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeI think that moving home whether you lived in Thailand or just lived in a different town or state can be difficult. It’s easy to feel like you’re moving backwards, but just remember, all that matters is what you need at that moment. For me it was coming home so that I could rediscover why I moved abroad in the first place. I needed to feel this way so that I could be remotivated to fight for it. I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.

 

I can finally feel myself starting to pull out of my funk and although it took 6 months to get there it was something I just had to go through. I love traveling and without it I just don’t feel like me. I need to get back out there and start exploring again. I know that Jeff and I breaking up plus moving back home has been a really difficult thing for me to get over, however it is time for me to focus on what makes me happy – TRAVELING. Although I don’t know if I’ll ever live abroad again, I can at least explore the world and all it has to offer!

 


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Expat: How to Talk Dirty to Any Traveler

Confessions of an Expat: How to Talk Dirty to Any Traveler

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It’s funny what turns you on as a kid, and even funnier to to see how that changes over time as you grow up. What once might have got me all excited and giggly as a kid just doesn’t do it for me anymore. No matter how much root beer I find when I open the fridge, I won’t share the same excitement I would have at the age of 11 and no friend telling me their parents are gone for the weekend is going to have the same effect it did on me in high school. And so it goes, from year to year, what excites us changes and what turns us on and off does as well. One thing will always stay the same however, we all still get turned on and if you want to talk dirty to any traveler, here is how to do it.

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4) “We have free wifi” –  Like hearing your friend stole a six pack from their parents basement, being told you are somewhere with free wifi just makes the day or night a bit better. In this day and age it really isn’t cool to not offer free wifi, but some places still try to charge for it. A 24 hour wifi code will run you $20 at some high hotels and don’t even try to get wifi on a cruise or you’ll be paying the better part of $30 an hour. So while free wifi might not be as exciting as a warm can of beer in middle school, it sure is exciting and way more productive – unless you use the money you save to buy a round.

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“While not as exciting as paying a visit to Pacific Sunwear or Abercrombie and Fitch  to buy new clothes in high school, the only thing that matters while traveling is finding a way to keep the clothes you do have clean…”

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3) “You can use my car” – There is no better feeling then when you board that plane for a far off land and leave your car behind, or better yet have sold your car altogether. However, just like having access to your Mom’s mini van in high school for that hot date, having a friend on the road with a car is super awesome and nothing to be taken for granted. Have you ever tried getting from LAX to Pasadena using public transportation? I didn’t think so, which is exactly why having a friend with a car in most cities around the world is incredibly handy. A car was freedom in high school (plus one million cool points) and it is freedom today. So while you might not be needing a car these days to meet your friends in the park at 11pm and sketch out the whole neighborhood, having a car is better than taking three buses and walking two miles any day of the week, especially with a backpack on stuffed with all of your dirty clothes, which brings us to number three.

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2) “We have a washing machine” – Clean clothes are something we all take for granted when we are off the road, but as soon as we hit the road again, having somewhere to clean your clothes is of upmost importance. While not as exciting as paying a visit to Pacific Sunwear or Abercrombie and Fitch  to buy new clothes in high school, the only thing that matters while traveling is finding a way to keep the clothes you do have clean. Plus, even if you are washing your jeans and socks in the small sink of a shared bathroom in a hostel at least your pants earned the tattered and torn look through world exploration instead of spending $89.99 for a pair of pre-frayed shorts at A&F back in 1999.

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1) “I’ve got an extra room you can crash in” – The equivalent to the girl you had a crush on in 9th grade telling you her Mom wasn’t coming up until later, telling any traveler you have an extra room will have the same effect…ok maybe a bit less exciting. We all need a roof over our heads, and while some are happy to simply sleep in the middle of central park for the night (we’ll save that story for later), most enjoy the knowledge of knowing they have somewhere safe and preferably indoors to lay their heads at night. Offering an extra room, bed, couch or even floor to a traveler is just about as good as it gets – although, let’s face it, nothing beats someone’s parents not being home in high school. And while it might not be as exciting as rounding first base and heading for second, nothing beats a free place to stay on the road – and who knows, some great relationships start on the road, so you might get waved home anyway.

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**BONUS** “We’ve got hot water” – Anyone who travels a bit more off the beaten path will appreciate this one and what a hot shower can mean to someone slumming it through mountains of Northern Vietnam for a couple weeks. Taking a long overdue hot shower on the road is almost as good as an out of control pool party in high school. While it might lack the drinks, girls, laughs and shenanigans of a Friday night in 11th grade, you’re still having a party, a party for one. And anything is better than bathing in that bucket of cold rain water for the fifth night in a row.

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So there you have it, the best ways to talk dirty to any traveler. It’s funny how most of us grew up with all of the things listed, yet probably never thought twice about taking a hot shower or using the family wifi as particularly luxurious. And while nothing beats the excitement of teenage trouble making, it’s the little things that matter most on the road. While I’ve been able to walk into a store and buy beer for almost a decade and all of my friends parents are always gone for the night (because most of them live 500 miles away), it really is funny to see how things change over time. However, in the end, all that matters is that there are still things in our lives that turn us on and while it might have been going to see a PG-13 movie with that cute girl in high school, today I’m happy to say that a hot shower, a clean bed (or dirty couch) and free wifi is just fine and will keep me happy for a long time. So find what turns you on in life, go after it, chase it and never stop searching for that which excites you – unless it is just finding wifi to post a picture of your espresso on Instagram.

*Photo provided from Flickr by Tito Tito Juga

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Confessions of an Expat: Turning 30 on the Road

Confessions of an Expat: Turning 30 on the Road

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As far back as I can remember the idea of turning 30 years old was always far off in the future, a magical age by which I would be full grown with my education behind me, a family in the making, a steady job, a steady income and a maturity I had yet to discover. But here I sit, in a small apartment in the mountains of Thailand as I flip a blank page in the book of life, between two seemingly monumental chapters of my existence.

Life has a way of changing in the blink of an eye, and providing the opportunities and chances for each of us to leap into the unknown, unsure of what, if anything, will catch us when we fall.

While I couldn’t have seen this moment years ago, here it is, a monumental day in the life of any young adult, as I sway on the edge of what can only be looked on as major, and very different, chapters of my life.

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Sitting on the sand dunes in the Arabian desert on the outskirts of Dubai.

Sixteen months ago Marina and I took another leap and moved to Thailand, with nothing but each other, our cameras and a longing to see the world, explore the unknown and take a chance on life we felt we absolutely couldn’t pass up. The last year and a half has been incredible, challenging, life changing, filled with ever lasting memories and moments neither of us will ever forget. We were lucky enough to visit over 35 countries, step foot on five continents, fall in love with Paris, swim in arctic waters, explore Machu Picchu, play with tigers in Thailand and visit the Great Pyramids together.

We’ve made life long friends during the process, tried foods we never thought existed and taken chances we never thought we would, and we did it all together. As I sit here looking back I can only think how lucky I’ve been to go on such an adventure, and to do it all with my best friend by my side.

Two weeks from now I’ll be sitting behind a desk at an office in Dubai, working with a group of new friends and taking yet another leap into an equally terrifying new world. And while I have no idea what the future holds and where this next chapter will take me, I smile knowing that whatever happens will be yet another layer to the amazing journey which is life and trust that each experience I have been through thus far will guide me going forward. I can only trust that the seemingly unconnected lessons I have learned while living on the road will act as stepping stones to guide me as I go into the unknown of a city, culture, people and lifestyle I know nothing about.

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Snowshoeing in Salla, Finland above the Arctic Circle.

.I’ll be honest, the road I’ve chosen hasn’t been easy. Change is hard, moving on is hard, starting something new is hard. Travel has a glamour that can easily be fantasized about through facebook posts and instagram pictures. But few know the deeply lonely feeling of arriving in a new city, wiping the slate clean and having to build your entire life from the ground up, a feeling not easily captured in social media interaction. I’d be lying if I said I never envied those who desire to stay in one place to build a solid foundation, community, life.

I don’t know why I have the constant push inside me to escape, explore and experience. Sometimes it feels more of a duty than a desire, a task more than a dream, a mission more than a fantasy. And yet I continue down the road in search of the answers, unsure of what I’ll find.

Travel has been the best education I could ever ask for and has provided the tools needed to tackle my life head on, with the knowledge that can only come from blindly jumping into the world and facing the trials and tribulations that come attached to such an act.

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Sitting on our camels after our trek to the Great Pyramids.

 

Travel will always be there for me to turn to when I need a slap in the face, a dose of reality, a lesson needing to be learned.

No matter where I go in the world, I bring with me the kindness and warmth of those I’ve been lucky enough to meet along the way, igniting the light behind my eyes and helping me to navigate this crazy adventure we all call life.

I have many more memories to capture, mistakes to make, friends to meet and as I fall asleep each night I dream, excited to wake and greet them all.

So here I sit, 30 years old, nothing more, nothing less. And while my childhood vision of what I would be by this age is as far off as the stars in the sky, I am filled with so much more than my wildest imagination could never have dreamed, and for that I am endlessly grateful.

The world has shown me what I have needed to see up to this point. It has taught me what I needed to know and introduced me to those whom I have needed to meet, all adding to the great kaleidoscope that is a human life, and we are only just getting started.

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Hanging with the mysterious guests at Carnivale in Venice, Italy.

To those I meet down the road, I can’t wait to look back and be truly unable to imagine my life without you in it. To those I’ve met thus far along the way, you’ve impacted my life for the better, no matter the size of the role we’ve played in each others lives. And to Marina, I could have never had such an amazing adventure without you and cannot wait for the memories and adventures we have yet to make, whatever form they come in.

Family is so important when traveling, whether in friends, strangers, siblings or parents and I couldn’t have asked for a better family to encourage and support all my travels thus far. While living so far away hurts at times, I think our mutual love for travel has only acted to bring us all closer. (Thanks Whatsapp)

So thats it, the sun has set on another birthday. I’ve waxed poetic and the only thing to do is move on to see what tomorrow brings. Last year on my birthday, as the clock struck midnight, I was in a tuk tuk in route to the emergency room with a case of Dengue fever, a birthday adventure I’ll never forget. And while this year’s birthday is a more reflective one, I appreciate it all the same.

However, above all else, I am most shocked that a small patch of my beard still hasn’t filled out.

I mean come on, I’m 30!

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Taking pictures on the beach in Casablanca, Morocco.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

365 Days of Travel - Our One Year Travelversary!

365 Days of Travel – Our One Year Travelversary!

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We are happy to say that today marks our 365th day of travel since we boarded an Asiana flight headed towards Thailand and the unknown! Since our arrival in Phuket one year ago, we have made life long friends, made everlasting memories, tried things we never thought we would and never regretted a second of it. We had no idea what to expect when we stepped foot on that airplane and the last 12 months have been nothing we could have planned. There is an amazing feeling of freedom and terror when you sell all your belongings, move out of your house and leave all you know behind in hopes that the unknown provides the adventure and satisfaction that you are craving.

While we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into (and no idea where we were going to live!) we faced every challenge with a smile on our faces (most of the time…) and took every opportunity we had to try something new, do something that scared us or take one step further out of our comfort zone and into the unknown.

Below are some of the highlights of the last 365 days of travel, from the good to the bad, the hysterical to the mysterious. We have loved sharing our journey with you all this last year and so thrilled to be able to see so many of our friends along the road the last few months as well as make so many more life long friends during our travels.

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1 – Landing in Phuket with no idea where we were going to live

2 – Playing with tigers, elephants and monkeys all across Thailand

3 – Jeff getting dengue fever on his birthday and laughing the whole way through it!

4 – Visiting Kuala Lumpur and the Patronas Towers with Jeff’s sister

5 – Filming a documentary about Malaria on the border between Thailand and Burma

6 – Meeting an amazing group of expats from all over the world in Phuket (we can’t wait to get back!)

7 – Visiting our friends in Ireland and being shown the best of the Emerald Isle with true friends.

8 – Snorkeling in Phi Phi with our friends and seeing some of the most colorful sea life imaginable.

9 – Taking a thai cooking class and learning how to make some of our favorite dishes.

10 – Falling in love with Paris!

11 – Taking our first cruise through Italy, Portugal, Spain and Morocco.

12 – Sledding in the Alps of Austria with childhood friends

13 – Visiting Jeff’s sister Julia in Boston and visiting the Sam Adam’s Brewery

14 – Being able to see friends and family in California for the holidays

15 – Visiting Finland for the first time and discovering it to be one of our favorite countries!

16 – Driving our motorbike in the pouring rain through Phuket.

17 – Watching Marina experience her first snowfall in the Arctic Circle

18 – Experiencing the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, the craziest on Earth!

19 – Finally experiencing Carnevale in Venice, Italy

20 –  Visiting 18 countries on 5 continents (Australia we are coming for you!)Driving our motorbike in the pouring rain through Phuket.

21 – Jeff waking up at 3am every Monday morning to watch the Redskins lose.

22 – Driving our trusty motorbike all across Phuket and only pay $3 to fill it up

23 – Riding snowmobiles to the Russian border on a frozen lake and eating snow to stay hydrated

24 – Eating the creepy, crawly fried insects

25 – Taking pictures every day and documenting our wild adventures

26 – Being able to experience the world together as best friends and truly live the life we dreamed about back in California

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I do not believe in luck, I think people create their own paths and therefor make happen what they wish, but I will say that we are very happy and blessed to be able to chase our dreams and see the world together the way we dreamed of, but in no way how we planned. I never would have believed 365 days ago that I would be writing this post while sitting in a hotel room in downtown Helsinki, but I could not be happier at how our path has unfolded. We have remained happy, maintained our love for adventure and reinforced our strong belief in the amazing benefits of world travel and leaving your shell, comfort zone and familiar surroundings. We cannot remember life before we jumped on the road and what it was like without the amazing friendships we have made and maintained.

Travel has given us so much and we absolutely love sharing all of our mishaps, victories, funny stories and wild experiences with you all. So heres to another 365 days and the unknown adventures it will bring us, we only hope you will join us and we will cross paths somewhere along the road.

 

Cheers and travel like you mean it!

 

Jeff & Marina

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365 Days of Travel - Our One Year Travelversary!

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Confessions of an Expat: The Challenge of Coming Home

Confessions of an Expat: The Challenge of Coming Home

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I can’t quite pinpoint the moment the house I grew up in ceased to be “home” anymore. When I went away to college my grandmother would correct me when I said I was going “home” for the holidays. But that was still too early for me, I wasn’t ready to hear it yet then. Through all my travels after college, I always thought of my flight back to the US as my return “home”, I just couldn’t shake the feeling. Finally, after becoming an expat, selling all my belongings and moving to Thailand, although I still say that I’m coming home for the holidays when I refer to the US, I really don’t mean it anymore.

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“My family home taught me what to seek out in the world, and now that I have found what I am looking for, home is simply wherever I am.”

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Home is what feels comfortable, what you know best and home is the place that challenges, pushes and encourages you along your way. While the four walls of my parents home no longer feel like home to me, they have been replaced with equally important elements. Now, the view through my camera lens, the contents of my backpack and the feeling of freshly cleaned socks make me feel at home. The feeling of home is always changing, but so am I, and I have come to accept that. My family home taught me what to seek out in the world, and now that I have found what I am looking for, home is simply wherever I am.

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Being caught off guard by your own culture is always an insightful experience, no matter how trivial some elements are. After spending extended amounts of time outside of US boarders, I’m always firstly surprised by how silly the US dollar looks. The colorful Euro, beautiful Thai Baht or the One Hundred Trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe are all unique in their own way, but I grew up with the dollar and it is always funny to me when it begins to look strange.

Culture shock takes many forms, and for many, the feelings of returning home are simply indescribable. The first few times I returned home from meaningful adventures abroad, I feel into what I could only assume was depression, a feeling which until then was quite foreign to me. I would sit alone on the couch, in silence, simply replaying the memories and experiences of my journeys in my head. I would ache to return to the road, to do anything else but be back in my familiar surroundings.

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Confessions of an Expat: The Challenge of Coming HomeEach time I step off the plane back in the US, its not the typical things that throw me into reverse culture shock. I’m not in a mad rush to run to In-n-Out for a burger, or sprint to the pub for a pint of my favorite beer. I’m not rushing to flip on the tube and catch up on reality TV or enjoy the luxuries of western life, like using a washing machine or a microwave. What hits me first, and what sticks the longest, is the silence. The silence of the people around me, the strangers on the street, the silence of the community, the city, the country. I never notice the constant humming of other countries, the sound of community, interaction and connectedness, because it always feels normal, real, like life should feel. Maybe it is all lost to me in the excitement of being in a new place, but one thing is certain upon returning to America, the silence is eery.

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The scariest part of the silence of the US is that it is nothing new, it is not something that developed since I left, it is not created in my absence. The silence is a core element of our society, and something that we all become numb to. It terrifies me that it becomes the norm, the regular and the expected. After a few weeks, the silence disappears, and life is just normal again. All the life breathed into my senses before I returned is rubbed away, forgotten, muted in the back of my mind. Replaced by the mild, the minute, the mundane.

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The silence used to terrify me, but now it motivates me. The silence isn’t bad, it simply isn’t for me. It reminds me of what is out there, what makes me happy and the feeling I am always chasing yet never hope to catch. By those who travel often, the feeling of knowing what is out there is often described as somewhat of a curse, a disease an addiction. Now that I know what is out there, I am incapable of not exploring it, no matter the challenges or obstacles that lay in the way. Because at the end of the day, struggling to chase the dream will always be better than succeeding at comfortably living in the silence.

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all.

A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.

Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!


Dengue Fever Video – Symptoms, Treatments, and Information

When I was a kid, say eleven or twelve, if you told me that as the clock struck midnight on my 29th I would be whizzing down a dark road in the back of a Tuk Tuk on the way to the Emergency room in Phuket, Thailand with a bad case of Dengue fever, I would not have known what to say. First of all, I’ll never be 29, thats so old! But most importantly, what’s Dengue fever?

Over the course of my unfortunate experience we recorded each step of the way to give more information to others who end up facing the same set of circumstances and hopefully help point them in the right direction. Many people get a fever, the flu, chills and generally feel crummy for a day or two while traveling to exotic places, but sometimes it can be something pretty serious if left untreated.

Dengue fever is a mosquito born disease which is the result of a mosquito bite. Symptoms might not show up for 3 to 10 days after getting bit so you can never be too careful with the use of a good bug spray and a long sleeve shirt. If you have flu like symptoms and break out in an itchy red rash from head to toe, we would advise jumping in the nearest taxi and heading to the closest hospital. Dengue fever only kills 1% of the people it infects, but it can be very severe, resulting in the coughing up of blood and severe dehydration.

Make sure to know where your closest emergency room is, pray they speak your language, and know it’s never to early to get a doctor’s opinion. Many companies offer travel insurance, or if you are traveling for longer periods of time check out companies like BUPA or Cigna for overall international health insurance.

So have fun, go explore, know your surroundings, and make sure to cover up after dusk, you never can be too careful out there!

 



thailand postcards

Homesick

69 days… I can’t believe we’ve lived in Thailand for 69 days. Boy, how time has flown by. We spent months preparing for this, packing, planning, researching and now we’ve been here for over two months. I really do love living in Thailand. Jeff and I had a good life back in California, however working 50 hours a week in an office didn’t suit us. We wanted to see the world and tell the stories the world has to offer. As photographers, we had held our breath for so long that one day we would get the right job allowing us to tell stories and take photos to show the rest of the world. Finally we had waited long enough. If you wait for someone to hand you want you want in life you’ll never be happy. That’s why we decided to move. Why wait when we could just move and make our dreams come true. Over two months and no regrets later I couldn’t be happier. I find myself happier and healthier even though the road hasn’t been perfect.

For me this move has pushed me to become the person I always wanted to be. Its been hard to get up everyday and even though I’m here with my soul mate and best friend I still find  myself feeling alone. I miss my family, my friends and the familiarity of home.

The first few weeks were full of excitement and a yearning to explore, yet I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Everything was so different. I couldn’t just hop in my car and go explore. Oh and the heat. My whole life I’ve been spoiled by the perfect Southern California weather and despite what most people think, California isn’t that warm, but in Thailand it’s extremely humid. The humidity was depressing. It made it harder to want to go outside.

Now, nearly 70-days later, I feel like I’m finally over that hump. The heat no longer keeps me inside and I want to explore and live. Although I’m homesick, I’m incredibly grateful to be here. I get to live a life that most people dream of and I’m fortunate enough to do it with my best friend. We’ll be going home for Christmas and knowing we’ll be going back to visit helps me push through the feeling of missing home. I know all my friends and family will be there and soon we will have visitors!

 

Marina

 

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina is the co-founder of Latitude 34 – Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

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