A Little Reading… Seven Thoughtful and Engaging Travel Stories

rwanda, africaFor three years now I have shared travel stories and narratives of my travels around the world. This blog started as a way to share advice and inspiration with other travels, while also recording my trip for posterities sake. When I planned my own travels back in 2008, there were very few other long-term travels sharing the hows of planning a round the world trip. A lot has changed since then. The travel community is huge, I’ve finished my own round the world trip, and I’ve also decided to shift into long-term, open-ended travels. Throughout all of these changes, throughout the dozens of countries I have visited, and within the thousands of new stories I’ve encountered, the heart of this blog has remained true. It’s the same spirit of stories, advice, and inspiration that I continue sharing my journey.

In all of these years, however, a lot of time has passed and I blogged prolifically. Some of my favorite and most useful posts were published and buried in the archives. With that in mind, I dug through my country and story-based archives to unearth seven varied posts. These seven stories range from the most popular to the most useful, to the most under-rated — and a lot in between too! Here goes:

My Most Popular Travel Story

A Little Chiang Mai Living… A Thailand Cost of Living Breakdown
Probably the first truly viral post on A Little Adrift, people loved knowing the breakdown of exactly what it cost me to live in Thailand earlier this year.  Not only did I list out my specific monthly costs, but I also shared what exactly I got for that amount of money. A thanks is in order to Johnny Jet for mentioning the post in his newsletter, as well as BBC Travel, and the dozen or so others in the blogosphere who pointed to this post as a “this is what I want to do too!”

The point of being here and living each day is about quality of life; this post proves that, if you want it,  it’s possible to live a full and enjoyable life for a lot cheaper outside of Western countries and you don’t even have to sacrifice too many Western comforts!

monks taking alms in thailand

A rainy, overcast day as the monks walk the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand for morning alms.

My Most Controversial Post

A Little Confession… Cuba Gets an “ish” from Me
I rarely call out a travel destination in a negative fashion — every person’s travel experience is different. How we experience a place is impacted by our own states of mind, and our own expectations just as much as what we find once we arrive. And yet, my time in Cuba left me confused and underwhelmed. I would hate to discourage anyone from fulfilling a dream trip to the island, however, since they could arrive and have every dream and expectation met. So take this as merely my experience, your mileage may vary.

Before writing this post, I mulled over my Cuba experience for a full year, never truly sharing my thoughts until I decided to just give it straight: I loved elements of traveling through Cuba as an American, but I never got under the surface of the country. I left Cuba unhappy with the sum total of my experiences. But with more than 85 long and thoughtful comments and counting (about one person a week still stops in to share their Cuba stories), my Cuba post stirred up controversy and lively debate in the comments. If you missed it, why not pop over there now  and let me know what your thoughts on traveling through Cuba!

horse carriage in trinidad, cuba

A horse clops down the colorful streets of Trinidad, Cuba.

My Most Helpful Post

Round the W0lrd Travel Planning Resources
This resource page is among the most popular resources on my site, and it’s the most comprehensive spot for trip planning advice for anyone taking a long-term trip. I’ve spent every month since November 2008 making it chock full of answers to long-term travel planning questions. It contains everything that I learned as I traveled, and everything I wish I had known before I left.

This resource has taken years to assemble, and I regularly update it with the answers to the most commonly emailed questions that enter my inbox. Wondering what size backpack to take or if you should buy a RTW ticket? Check here for my thoughts on the subject. And if you have a question that isn’t yet answered, join me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let me know your question — I answer every single new message.

Travel planning resources, tips, and advice for round the world travels

Surprisingly Successful Post

A Little RTW Budget… Costs to Travel Around the World for a Year
I meticulously recorded all of my trip expenses and budget during the 11 months I traveled around the world. I have a bizarre obsession with pretty excel files and this post shares just how far my budgeting geekdom stooped. This post includes country by country cost details, and I share my grand total for the year of travel (it came in at under USD $20,000 including Europe!). I was eager to put my stats out there for other long-term travelers coming after me and I am pleased as punch that other travelers regularly use my blank budget spreadsheet to track their own travels.

With more than two million views so far, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to think of all the other budget-geeks out there tracking their travel budgets. ;-)

Budget breakdown of the costs to travel the world for a year

This is how excited I was to share my budget breakdown of the costs to travel the world for a year.

My Most Beautiful Post

A Little Spice… Taste Buds and the Global Palate
This one was a hard one for me to choose. I think my photography has progressed incredibly well over the past three years, but is far from professional level. I upgraded my camera last year to a Panasonic micro-four-thirds camera and the depth of field is stellar. This foodie post was photographed during my Jordan travels and I think the food is well captured, well lit, and I hope my upcoming food posts this summer are similarly pretty as this one turned out!

I love my landscape photography too, but I think I’m a bit harsh on myself because I wasn’t sure that any were quite up to snuff to go in this spot. So, I solemnly swear to start working even harder on my photography so I have some wanderlust-inspiring photo-essays to share here in the future!

A spicy chili dish in Jordan Golden rounds of pita bread Falafel with a dab of hummus

Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved

A Little Mystery… Secrets in Ireland’s Heart
I loved writing this post and it makes me smile to even read it because it conjures up images of a chilly, windy, and rugged Ireland where I ended my year around the world. I’m Irish-American and I inherited my dad’s fascination with the country. I think if it does nothing else, the post taps into a bit of that mysterious playful quality I found in so many of the locals I met while I drove around Western Ireland for three weeks. I love it and I think you might too. :)

Boat before high tide

A low tide on a sunny day in Connemara on Ireland’s west coast

I’m Most Proud Of…

A Little Love Letter… On Travel and Leave-Takings
I wrote this post sitting at a rickety table behind a great smoothie lady near my hostel in Bangkok, Thailand. I slurped down my icey-cold orange juice and thought about my flight that evening back to the United States. I had just been living in Thailand for five months and I was sad to leave, but happy at the prospect of hunkering down somewhere familiar with family and friends nearby. I was negotiating the feelings of “how can I be a traveler if I spend five months of the year at home?” I penned this post into my notebook, which is a rarity for me since I most often type.

I love my traveling lifestyle and I had a lovely moment of convergence in this post: it’s personal, the thoughts just flowed out of me in 30 minutes flat, and I like the tone because it wholly captures the feelings that settle over me each time I return to the U.S. from traveling.

Street stalls Bangkok in Thailand

Writing among the empty tables at a cluster of street stalls in Bangkok, Thailand


So many stories on my site deserve to make it onto this list. In the years since I wrote these seven links, I have ventured through more than 40 more countries. I’ve shared more advice, I’ve shared thoughts and confessions about the life of a long-term traveler. And I’ve created a thriving community of travelers who I have met up with all over the world. What a blessing this blog and community has been over the many years. I give thanks for your support reading and sharing and I hope these seven travel stories help educate, inspire, and entertain.


14 Responses to A Little Reading… Seven Thoughtful and Engaging Travel Stories

  1. Claire July 22, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    I have been enjoying these from various bloggers. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dina VagabondQuest July 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Now I’m really curious about the Cuban post :)

  3. Audrey July 9, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    I had missed your “my most proud” post too! It came out when we were in Tanzania and offline and I had declared RSS bankruptcy and missed it. I’m so glad that I had a chance to read it now. Not only is it beautifully written, but it shows that you know what’s important to you in your life. Travel will always be there as a trusty friend, but sometimes being with family is more important. As our parents get older and we spend more time away from our friends, I think about this issue more often. Thanks for sharing this personal letter. 

    • Anonymous July 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      Thank you Audrey, the balance of travel is one of the few truly tricky
      parts…enjoying the experience and weighing it against visits back home. It
      sounds like your holiday plans back home this year are well timed in your
      journey :)

  4. Kirsten Alana July 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Thank you so much for picking me Shannon!!!! I really love this look at some of your best posts. Now I have to go read all the ones I haven’t already seen.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      You’re welcome Kirsten! Glad you’re game to participate – yay! Can’t wait
      to see some of your best posts I’ve missed too :)

  5. Bluegreen Kirk July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I never saw the Secret’s In Ireland Heart so i checked it out and really enjoyed it.  I really wished there were photos to go with the post though.  Great list!

    • Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks Kirk! There are a bunch of very pretty Ireland photos in it
      though…not sure if my offsite photo hosting was down, but they’re up for
      me and they are oh-so pretty :)

  6. Nomadic Samuel July 7, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    I enjoyed checking out your cost of living in Chiang Mai and food post.  It’s incredible the value one can achieve lliving in Thailand.  It’s no surprise so many backpackers, travelers and bloggers come there to stay indefinitely.  The food post is wonderful!  If you’re even in Bangkok a restaurant/guest’house called Green House has excellent Mediterranean food.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

      Thank you Samuel :) I find Thailand’s pull reaches me even when I’m happily back in the States on a visit! I haven’t tried Green House, but I definitely seem to fly through Bangkok often, so I’ll check it out, appreciate the tip, love Mediterranean food! :)

  7. Stephanie - The Travel Chica July 7, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Love the Jordan food post.  Delicious photos!

  8. Erik Smith July 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    The one you picked as your ‘Most Proud Of’ may be the best blog post I’ve ever read. Considering I have 138 blogs in my RSS feed (I know- It’s a little out of control) that’s saying a lot. :-)

    • Anonymous July 6, 2011 at 3:00 am #

      Thank you so much Erik, I really appreciate you saying that. And as for the
      blogs…wow! I’ve been trimming down lately, but not sure I ever hit quite
      that many! :)

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