Libby’s Travels

Notes and personal experiences from Libby’s travels, musings.

My first trip to Spain vs. my most recent trip – a 20 year comparison

Less than 20 years ago, I took my first trip to Spain.  Today, I arrived again in Spain.  But this time, the trip was completely different.  I made a list on the plane of some of the differences.  The future of travel is exciting, thanks to technology many barriers we used to face are being removed.

My first trip to Spain – pre 2000 

- I went alone on a study abroad trip and took months to prepare

- Packing took 3 long weeks and it ended up being all wrong

- I had to get a visa for long term travel

- I was not used to speaking or getting by in a foreign language

- Mobile phones didn’t exist, or were not at least mainstream

- Email was new, and we only had an account with our school

- Internet cafes were just popping up, there was no such thing as a computer at home

- Facebook didn’t exist

- I had to buy a phone card, not a SIM card

- I had to buy my ticket approximately 3 months ahead of time

- My ticket and itinerary had to be sent to me in the mail, snail mail – and it was my only copy – I could not lose it!

- I had to go to the Spanish embassy in Chicago to get my visa

- My ticket cost approx. $300 USD round trip Milwaukee to Madrid

- I drank wine on the plane at 20 years old without being asked for ID. And it was free.

- My journal was in a notebook

- I carried books to read

- It took 6 weeks to get pictures sent to Spain to show my host family photos of back home

- They were just building a metro line to the airport in Madrid

- I had to go to Milwaukee to a national bank to change US Dollars to Pesetas

- I carried travelers checks in case my money was stolen

- I didn’t know anyone prior to arriving, and when I arrived I only met my host family

- I stayed in hostels without wi-fi and had paper maps for directions

- I was scared sh*tless

Most recent trip to Spain – 2015 

- I decided the day before I was going

- Packing took 20 minutes with everything I needed

- I bought a ticket on standby last minute

- I already had my passport ready, it’s always in my backpack

- I casually rolled up to the airport and changed my flight when I arrived to a more convenient time

- I speak Spanish (from having lived in Spain)

- (even if I didn’t) I’m just not afraid to look around, ask for directions, or find someone who speaks English if I need it

- I am over the novelty of free wine and not being carded.  And the wine is no longer free 

- My phone tells me how to get from the airport in Madrid to the bus station

- I have an app to buy a bus / train / plane ticket when I land

- I haven’t had to print anything – it’s all been electronic and on my phone

- I can text my friends via Google Voice, Whatsapp, Facebook, iMessage, and my regular cell phone plan without extra charges

- I can call my friends via Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, and my phone – without having to get a SIM card

- My ticket cost $240 each way (standby)

- My journal is a WordPress blog

- I listened to books on the Audible app on my phone

- All of my pictures are digital and accessible within minutes

- A metro ride from the airport to the bus station is 6 stops, 30 minutes

- For local currency, I wait to land in Madrid and then I take out Euros from the ATM at the airport

- I carry a backup credit card in a separate location from my primary one in case it’s lost, stolen, or canceled

- I use online banking

- If I lose my computer, everything is backed up in the cloud

- I met people online via Facebook before I left and I’ll meet them when I land

- I’ll be working from a co-working hostel

I can talk to my doctor on the phone or Skype and view medical results online 

- I feel bliss

What will the next 20 years bring?  What will future trips look like?  

- I will use a service like AnyPass to manage my travel for me and carry a digital passport (non government) to live and work anywhere I choose

- My phone will work wherever I am with an integrated international plan, without changing SIM card

- I’ll be able to pay for everything, internationally, with my phone

- I’ll no longer carry a credit card

-  More people will speak more languages, and a shared common language will become more ubiquitous

- ??  What does the future look like for travel?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

As much as I love adventure and I love finding my way, it’s also nice to be able to just go.  I love knowing that more and more people are doing the same.

This lifestyle still may not be for many, but for those for whom it is or will be – welcome.

Tell Your Story! Travels of Marco Polo

I was recently in the archaeological museum in Montreal at a Marco Polo exhibit.  I didn’t know much about Marco Polo until this exhibit.  But what I learned inspired me.  There were many explorers and adventurers.   What is so interesting to me, side note, is that every one has a different story about the past.  Some people didn’t believe Marco Polo’s stories, some people said he was wealthy while others said he was poor.  Maybe it’s up to our interpretation – as with, arguably, all stories.

Marco Polo’s stories, however, were written and popularized while he was held in prison trying to leave China.  Had he not been in prison I wonder if he would have taken the time to write so much.

But his words inspired the famous journey of Christopher Columbus.  His stories were translated into many different languages before ever even leaving prison.

Why were people so fascinated?

Marco Polo’s message was to see the world in a new way.   Also, his books were used for learning about trade and commerce opportunities.

There are always new things to discover, new places, new people, and new experiences.  The world maps were still being formed at that time and the idea of some of the things Polo saw in China was so far fetched that they seemed impossible.  What are those unknown waters and lands today?  Are we so caught up in the world we know that we don’t wish to explore.

I caught the tail end of the guided tour, where the guide finished by saying “If he (Marco Polo) were alive today he would tell us to travel.  To see the world in a new way!  To experience, to tell, to share and give back by sharing the stories of our adventures.  

I thought - Why would the world want to listen to me?  There is SO much noise out there and I am not doing anything new.  But, each of us has story to tell.  I do have something unique to share – I have MY stories, stories that I hope will help others see the world in a different way, and inspire them to set foot on their journey and their travels.   Everyone has a story – tell yours.  


Every bit of the experience IS the experience

Some people would say I’m not seeing enough. There are bus tours, walking tours, shops!

But the entire experience to me is all part of it. Yes I worked until 3 pm today in the hostel.  I only just came out of my hole.

But, I walked onto the cobblestone streets of the one of the oldest cities in North America.

I’m at Paillard having a chocolatine and a latte.

Last night I was out until late listening to drunk locals carry on about their great city.  I literally got a tour of Quebec at midnight from a tour guide who didn’t ask for a tip but who instead bought ME a beer.

That’s the real history. That’s the real culture. That’s the real Quebec.

Two local men arguing over a pint over the greatest local spots.

People who were willing to let me practice French and to teach me a few words – versus today they immediately switched to English when they heard me fail to pronounce “chocolatine” properly.

The streets are crowded with tourists today. But I feel very content knowing that I got to taste the heart and soul of the city.

Now back to my chocolatine!

Christmas Day in Mexico DF

Got up that morning, the day was fresh, sunny and cool. I was on my way to Starbucks and passing by a church, I decided to pop in.

I sat with others in silence, as people came and went. Overall, my feelings were of freedom, relief, independence. But among those were traces of sadness, guilt, and homesickness. I wasn’t with my family at Christmas.

I had flashbacks of being in Spain when it was in similar climate, in a church or cathedral feeling lonely but content. That was the changing point (Spain) in my life that I dreaded at first, then loved and hated, and eventually regretted.

I also had flashes of being in Berlin, and the blog post I wrote about feeling free of “shoulds” and demands. I had felt liberated from technology.

When I have flashes of images from other times and places, I recognize that the feelings are similar. It’s not just that I’m reminded of those times, but of the feelings that they brought me.

The crisp, fresh, morning when I was walking down the road in Hovland with Aunt Mary Beth, and of feeling so privileged that she asked me to join her on her morning walk. Or when we went to Grand Marais, to the laundromat. The air was crisp, the sun shining, the seagulls (or “seagles,” as I used to spell at the time) were hanging out looking for food. These times, when the , remind me of feelings of happiness. Pure joy and happiness.

As I sat there in the church, I thought about those feelings I had felt before. And I recognized that although I was sad at the time, and felt guilty for not being at home, overall I was feliz. Mucha alegria. Lagrimas of some sadness, some joy. And best of all, I was completely anonymous. Nobody in the world at that moment would have had any idea where I was or what I was doing, which at that moment gave me paz. I was hidden within the walls of the church, within the city of Mexico. Anonymous, happy and free.

Traveler vs Tourist

There’s a difference between traveling and being a tourist. There’s a pretty big difference, in fact.

Scenario: You take a cruise to Turkey with your family. While there, you walk around the capitol city buying expensive trinkets to show your friends at home that you are a world traveler. You hurry back to the boat after shopping to get away from those weird people who dress funny. They’re heading back for the pre-paid dinner on the boat and to relax by the pool.

Pop quiz. This describes:

a. A tourist
b. A traveler

(Answer at end)

The tourist takes a week off work after carefully studying where the Internet says to go and getting advice from their other tourist work friends.

They make a packing list from tips they learned on a Rick Steves series. Then they go to REI and other highly recommended travel stores to get:
- 1 pair of pants that unzip at the knee, so they can conveniently convert into shorts (2 in 1!)
- A breathable button down that is conveniently also sun-resistant (move over sweaty pits!)
- 3 pairs of socks
- 10 pairs of underwear (plus a few extra)
- 1 shower towel (these are too ‘cute’ and your friend’s sister’s cousin took one on a trip and said they save SO much room, and you are packing light!) Disclaimer: I DO have one of these.

They travel in groups, packs, or pairs. They eat the foods they know, use guidebooks, and impose their own language and cultures.

As I’m writing this 2 German tourists are sitting next to me on the subway with… wait for it… giant cameras around their necks (you thought I was gonna say fanny packs, didn’t you?). After just having been at Battery Park, feeling like I was at a camera store slash outdoor photo shoot.

The tourist plans a trip around his/her work schedule. The traveler plans life around his/her travels.

Travelers often travel alone, avoiding groups and packs. They seek out the local foods. Instead of asking questions, tourists make assumptions based on what they already know versus what they could learn.

Travelers see through the trinkets. They collect little bits of conversations with locals, new foods, foreign vocabulary and customs, and non-audio-headset tours of local history. These are their souvenirs.

For example: Collecting a non-engraved pebble with no price tag (translated: real) from the beach at Plymouth Rock in England, versus a skewed picture of you in the I <3 NY tee (oh you know the one) pretending to squash the statue of liberty with your ‘huuuge’ finger. Or better yet, posing in front of the GW (thats g-dub-yuh) statue with yo’ best gangsta poze so all your homeys on Facebook can give u props. Word.

The traveler learns about themselves, history, culture, and embraces differences. The traveler has washed their underwear in the sink and has dried off using their t-shirt.

(Answer to question above: if you don’t know, you’re a tourist)

What Matters – Using Tools to Free Ourselves and Follow our Vocation

It’s becoming increasingly apparent why I need to write about ways to live/work anywhere.

A friend called last night, distraught, and said ‘I feel like my life is empty. Can you help me do what you did?’. I’ve always wanted to travel. I feel like I’m doing what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing. I have a good job, car, etc, but… my life feels so empty. Can you help me put a plan together?”

I was shocked.  This girl is tough. Everyone is intimidated but respectful of her. To see her break down, I actually asked her if she was kidding, to which – of course, she said ‘no’. There are so many people that have fallen prey to a system that doesn’t work anymore. Or to a system that is fake with so many ‘rules’. But all the rules were invented, they are part of a game.   We allow others to take control of our strings like a puppet.

Everybody was meant to be free, to live life the way they intended – not sitting in front of a TV but going out and experiencing our passion, unleashing our creativity, and following our vocation.  Instead of taking control of our lives, we allow systems to manage our life for us.  The world is becoming increasingly borderless and there are tools that we can use to build the life we want, including especially not being limited to a particular job or location.

As this blog continues I hope to provide more tools and tips on how we can live and work anywhere we choose.  Follow me also at and (@libtuck).


No me sale. No puedo dejar de pensar en ello

No me puede salir.  Estoy todavia en la imagen

Como viviendo con un pie en un mundo y otro aqui, dividiendome

Por que .. no se

Me ha convertido no se como ni una explicacion seria suficiente

No tiene sentido

Ya que esta dentro de mi alma

No esta fuera de mi cuerpo

No lo puedo quitar

… y hombre te digo q no quiero quitar

- de sentir

- de vivir

- de cantar

He cambiado, lo puedo sentir.  No me puede despedir no quiere separarse con la pie.

Estoy contando pensado en pesos

Quiero saludar con un beso, un abrazo, un hola

Prefiero estar en the calle (ca-shay)

Donde suponeria que estuviera un monton de gente pero no hay

Estoy sola.  Estoy sola?  Bajo las nubes la lluvia el cafe moreno como la gente sin sueno

Porque no lo descubri antes, se q despues de ocho anios y la vida pasando en los dos pies siempre

El Tiempo es precioso

Y que gracioso que no me di cuenta bajo mis pensamientos mi rutina aburrida y me pasaba la vida


Me siento otra persona.  Me siento despertada.  Tengo ganas de convertir en otra persona despertada de verdad.

No se en total que significara pero en los ultimos dias me he sentido otra.

Como si estuviera durmiendo la pie y ahora me siento el hormigueo, no dolor, despertador.


Lo definitivo es renunciar la habitual la normal y continuar subiendo el cerro de hormigas, triunfante.

Ahora metas alcanzadas, dejando de la ‘ruida’, de lo caotico, enfocando en lo que me empuje lo que me envuelve lo que me ayuda, y lo q me da la motiva de seguir


Recuerdos and the Random Finale

Last night in BA.  I’ve spent it working, recovering from last night’s goodbye party, organizing, and eating Chinese takeout.

I’ve gotten teary eyed a couple of times.  I’m sad to leave.  I’m realizing that a place can really touch you but also the people around you make a difference.

There’s still a lot to share, but I decided to do a summary of parts with some memories.


I learned how to roll my R’s.  FINALLY!!!  After 7+ years studying Spanish, living in Spain, Central America, and now South America, finally – and in an unexpected moment on the rooftop terrace eating dinner, out popped a new sound that I’ve been trying to make for yeeeaaaars!  My host brother teased me years ago that I had a speech impediment and that people like me belong in therapy :) – if he only knew.  I did it! Still I need practice and that I’ve been doing, but I finally did it!

The Christmas Package

My mom sent me a Christmas package.  Thinking it would never have arrived not only due to the time of year but because the package contained food – Gram’s apricot bread and Aunt Renie’s cookies – finally on Jan 11 I got the notice.  Since nothing in Argentina runs smoothly, I decided to arrive when the office opened.  A long line of people and a 3 hour wait later, plus a second waiting room – one was to check in, the other was to wait for the package – finally it arrived.  Smart, mom, for vacuum sealing them.  My roommates and cousin Barry, and me, were all extremely happy! Worth the wait.


After 5 years of no insurance and not having gone to the dentist, I decided I would go here.  An educated workforce, but still distrustful of unknown practices, I went in for a cleaning.  I had to be rescheduled for a week later due to the machine breaking (as if I wasn’t nervous enough), but the dentist greeted me with a beso on the cheek, genial.  1 teeth cleaning, 3 cavities, bill total approx. $70 usd.  Score!  I’ll miss some of the costs of living here, including the $5 leg waxing and the dentist.

People, Greets, Dogs

People greet each other here on the street or at work with a kiss on the cheek.  It’s the normal greeting, which seems strange at work, but also very nice.  The people here are really friendly.  In the city, nobody says hello or smiles on the street.  However, if you stop to ask a question or talk to someone, they love to chat with you.  Dinners and lunches last hours as people sit and chat.  When walking in the store, you always look at the owner and say hello / good day / how are you.

Today I saw a lazy fat cat just chilling on the step outside of a restaurant.  It’s amazing to me how the dogs and cats just do their own thing.  Dogs, like the humans, don’t pay any attention to anyone, as nobody else on the street – like in the states – bends down to pet them.  Animals seem well taken care of here and happy.

Upside Down in South America

Did you know that the toilet flushes the opposite way here?  Or how about that instead of the Big and Little Dipper, I see Orion.  Supposedly the Southern Cross too?  Haven’t yet seen that one.  It’s amazing to realize how much the world changes and how we are truly a round earth, not flat!  We eat, walk, sleep the same but we see and experience different parts of the planet.

More useless ramblings to be added…

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