Thursday, February 2, 2012

Final Days at Home: Couchsurfing, Packing & Eating

When I moved back to my mom's house after college in September 2009, I was more than $8,000 in debt.

Moving home was necessary. With no savings, a small student loan and a big balance on my credit card, I had absolutely no idea how to manage my money, let alone how to afford living on my own.

My mom had turned my high-school bedroom into her office and filled it with big, heavy furniture. I was more than welcome to move my stuff back into the room if I would pay to move the office furniture into a heated storage unit, but I was already so deep in debt. No dice.

Instead, I stuck my bed into a nook at the back of the one-story house and slept there, with only a bookcase partially blocking the area for privacy. I lived that way for 16 months.

The nook. Picture my queen-sized bed on top of this rug. At least I had a skylight!

In January 2010, I began focusing on paying off my debt, and I became debt-free just six months later. I continued to budget and save like crazy, which allowed me to move out of my mom's house that December with more than $10,000 in the bank.

I was so thrilled not only to move out, but to have a bedroom again. Four walls, a whole closet to myself and a door — that locked, even! — seemed like such luxuries. And to top it all off, my room was huge and had its very own balcony. I caught some incredible sunsets on that balcony.

Thirteen months later, I've left that awesome, private room behind... return to my mom's house once again. I sold all this furniture to the next tenant, so I don't even have my bed anymore.

This time, though, I haven't moved home because I have to. I'm just crashing on the couch for a few days as I prepare to travel the world.

Try telling that to the girl who, two years ago, sat in this house sobbing because she was completely drowning in debt.

She never would have believed this adventure was possible.


Now that I've moved out of my townhouse, all I have left to do is pick up a few last travel items and start packing. 

I've been buying things over the past several weeks and collecting them in one big bag. Yesterday I dumped everything out and began removing excess packaging, cutting off tags and organizing the items into categories: clothing, electronics, toiletries, medicine, etc.

No, I'm not bringing that remote control. I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio with George Clooney. : )

I was happy to find that everything fits nicely and compactly into my packing cubes (toiletries, medicine, cords/chargers) and compression sacks (clothes, underwear, socks). This was the first time I actually looked at everything and envisioned how it'll fit into my backpack.

Once I pack for real, I'll put together a detailed post with pictures and a list of everything I'm bringing. I found other travel bloggers' packing posts to be so helpful when it came to determining what I needed for my trip!


I'll be seeing my mom quite a bit before I leave since I'm, well, living in her house, but my dad and I have to make more of an effort to spend time together. We had lunch this past weekend, and last night he took me out to a wonderful going-away dinner at Big Fish Grill.

Lately, I've been torn between trying to eat healthily because I'll probably be wearing a bikini soon and wanting to indulge because I'll be hesitant to splurge on good ($$) food and treats for myself while traveling.

I did a bit of both last night. : )

I had the Big Fish Cobb Salad with salmon, scallops and shrimp, as well as all the traditional Cobb fixings...

...and then rounded it out with the Double Chocolate Brownie, featuring vanilla ice cream, candied pecans and caramel sauce. My dad and I could have split one of these huge, evil creations, but we each got our own and I ate most of mine.

I may not be training for a marathon anymore, but I can still pack food away just like the good ol' days!

A note on food: I love it, and I'll try anything. I hope to sample tons of new, exciting and weird foods as I travel, and I plan to document the highlights and lowlights. The only thing is that I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy foods — hello, Southeast Asia — but I may just have to put on my big-girl pants and suck it up.

Three-and-a-half days until I leave!


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  1. I didn't notice one lying about in your bundle of bits and pieces so thought that I'd scribble a wee note to recommend that you bring along a dry-bag / waterproof liner for your back-pack. Saved me from soaking clothes and wet electronics a couple of times on my travels!

    1. Thanks for the reminder — I DO have a rain cover for my pack! Very important, as I hear it's quite rainy in NZ. You're right in that it's not lying on the floor; I think it was still in my big bag when I took this pic.

  2. Just wanted to send you well wishes on your travels. I started reading your blog a couple months ago and am excited to read about your experiences as you travel the world. This year, my own travel is quite limited as my grad school loan repayments are starting to kick in. Traveling vicariously will have to do for now. I'll just have to add the cool places to my own travel bucket list. :)

    1. Thanks, Ellen! Definitely start planning your dream trip. : )

  3. It's the final count-down! Sorry I couldn't you'll have a lame 80's song in your head thanks to me. Good luck on the next few days...look forward to tagging along on the adventures ahead!

    1. Thanks, D.J.! I love a good 80s song stuck in my head. : )

  4. Is it sad or hilarious that the first thing I noticed in your pile was the remote!? So excited to follow your adventures, Devon. Enjoy your final few days at home... well... as much as you can, anyway!

  5. Moving out can be painful at times especially if you hate to leave special memories behind but I'm sure that your happy now that you left.


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