AirBnBing in Joshua Tree and Yosemite.

I just turned 27. My best friend Anthony works for AirBnB, doing social media stuff. Part of his photography job is to take pictures of sick AirBnB’s. So he invited me to come along with him to keep him company.

It was a very last minute arrangement, but I got a last minute flight from NYC to LAX and we jumped in the car. First, spending a night under the stars on a hill at Joshua Tree (pictured below), and second, spending a day in Yosemite.

When I landed in LA, my friend was at work so I ubered to Venice beach and proceeded to get day drunk (so glamorous.) In the bar, I met a fellow nerd and we talked about World of Warcraft and Skyrim. Hilariously enough, the bar tenders joined in and we had a rousing nerd conversation.

The next day, we drove out to J Tree. I was made anxious by the desert (PTSD from living in Southern Arizona without an A/C), but by the time I got to our AirBnB I was ecstatic. We took pictures of abandoned houses and walked through the rattlesnake infested fields. Joshua Tree does feel extremely peaceful, and it feels as though you can reach out and grab the horizon.

We drank a bottle of wine on the rocks under the stars and talked about our lives, as we are prone to do.

The next day we were off to Yosemite. It was a grueling drive through typical central Californian boredom. But when we arrived at the foothills of the Sierras we were once again lightened. The rolling green hills looked like something out of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” A completely surreal landscape, winding higher and higher into the mountains.

We listened to “Say Hi To Your Mom” as we ascended the mountains at sunset. It was my first time listening to that band, and I was completely taken aback by the combination of “basic-ness” and smooth-as-butter melodies. I’m glad I found a new band to listen to. Here’s probably the most catchy song on the album:

We took pictures of the AirBnB for work, and headed to Yosemite Valley where we spent the day winding through trails and seeking boulders to barefoot climb. The granite in Yosemite is extremely unforgiving compared to the boulders of New York.

That was my birthday. I was out of cell phone reception, so I was unable to receive calls from friends and family, but I received an overwhelming amount of facebook attention and it touched my heart as always.

I can’t say the experience this week has been wholly positive. I am exhausted from the heat and the desert. I was planning on spending summer in LA but now I am thinking twice. My friend had to leave early due to a family emergency which is definitely bringing down the mood and making me think twice.

I am sitting in his apartment in LA, waiting for tomorrow, when I will fly back to NYC by midnight. When I get home I just want to close my heavy blinds, watch netflix, and sleep for 24 hours, but I have work on Monday morning.

That’s okay – I know the exhaustion will pass.

I get exhausted easily. It makes me second guess living a nomadic lifestyle – but I know I am fine as long as I am slow traveling and not racing around the country, having 12 hour flight days multiple times per week. In fact, I find that kind of jet setting to be the epitome of anxiety for myself.

The reason I made the last minute flight was simply because I wanted to experience something amazing. And I did. But now I am tired.

There’s so much to this story that I was unable to recount here.

~ Good night from Culver City.


A Month in a New York City AirBnB

I’m writing this at 7 AM on the morning I leave my AirBnB. I woke up early due to drinking IPAs last night (I don’t handle hops well.) But it was just as well, because I’ve packed up and cleaned up my AirBnB and I’m ready to go.

A month ago I embarked on a journey to New York for 3 months to test my ability to live a backpacker lifestyle. At the end of these 3 months I am planning on going back to Florida for a bit, getting a passport, hanging out with a friend in LA before backpacking the summer in Southeast Asia or Europe (haven’t decided.) This trip is a test of my ability to slow travel with just my 40 Liter backpack (Osprey Farpoint). It’s also a test of how much I will enjoy living the digital nomad lifestyle.

So on to my month-long minimalist nomad/AirBnB experience in New York.

Where, and How, I Lived

I lived in Greenwich village, which is located next to NYU. Notable venues are the Film Forum, IFC theater, Washington Square Park, The Uncommons (boardgame coffee shop), and a host of cool bars. I lived in a 2 bedroom AirBnB with a work roommate.

I generally felt inspired. The energy of the city and the freedom of my life gave way to heightened creativity. I am now more interested in colors, design, art of all types. The world seems brighter, my brain feels lighter.

For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to relax on weekend days. “Wasting days” sleeping in, reading, etc. I believe the reason I could do this is because my apartment was very dark (since it is shaded by taller buildings.) Also, because I felt that I was “part of the action.” I never felt “cut off from society”. Rather, my apartment was my refuge, and I took it very often.

Contrast this to suburbia where I go stir crazy in my apartment after 8 hours.

I am chronically stressed, so this is actually a huge step forward in my life. I can nap and “chill.”

I worked hard. I worked out hard. I chilled hard. I socialized hard.

As an introvert, I am more social when I travel, and that feeling never left me. I met a lot of new people. I went to a lot of new venues. I had more than one hangover. I love /r/nycmeetups!

Backpacking Thoughts

I didn’t bother washing my clothes at a laundromat – I just did it in the sink. It was a fun experiment and the clothes came out pretty well. Will continue doing this.

It’s hard to be minimalist during winter. You need a lot of heavy clothes and various layers. It’s definitely possible, but I imagine having an all-year wardrobe that fits NY’s unstable climate would be a challenge. I suppose this is why most backpackers hang out in balmy countries (southeast asia).

I purchased a couple of things – a Nintendo 3Ds, an Amazon Kindle, some jogger pants, and a new shirt. I had to get rid of a pair of pants and a shirt to make room for the new ones, but it felt like a good  trade-off. Everything I bought was with the intention of being travel-friendly.

I had to be conscious of travel size while making purchases. This kept me from making unconscious/rash decisions to buy things, and saved me money.

It was very easy to eat well without any cooking supplies. I don’t foresee any issue eating regular meals as a backpacker, provided there are some restaurants and grocery stores around.

I started thinking about having a permanent residence. Some kind of hunger for a “house” to “settle down in.” I suspect this is a consequence of feeling transient. All things in good time, I suppose.

The 30-day residence quickly felt like home. I rarely felt out of place. I felt happy.

Final Thoughts

I definitely feel that this lifestyle fits with my personality. It will take work in order to make it work long-term. It may be that I need a bit more than just a 40L backpack to do this long term, simply due to the difficulty of having a varied, all-season, minimalist wardrobe. But maybe I’ll figure it out.

I am also realizing that I’m a city person. I have such a craving for energy. New York is the only city that enjoys walking almost as much as I do. Please don’t make me drive a car, ever again.

I feel focused, clear, and simple. My life does not feel stagnant right now. I feel that I am living in the Tao. No complaints, mannnn

~Om Shanti