Friday, April 20, 2018

I'm An Adventurer, Looking For Treasure

Dungeon Master James and Halfling Tori (who's playing from South Korea)
I mentioned way back over here that I had started playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends. It’s been a while since we’ve played though. It is a bit hard when your group is spread across the world after all. And life in general has a nasty habit of getting in the way. Quite hard indeed. But the game is something that I’ve thought about more and more lately.

But it’s not really thoughts about the game itself that pop up, though those thoughts are there too. Instead, it’s about the similarities in my life right now with my characters.


I generally roll poorly when it counts...
For those who don’t know, Dungeons and Dragons is a classic pencil-and-paper role playing game (RPG). It’s pretty much what it sounds like. You create a character (or adventurer) all with his/her own personality, strengths, weaknesses, traits, flaws, etc. In essence, you become that character while you play. Not unlike creating a character for a story you are writing. And that character gets thrown into situations dictated by the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM). Those situations can revolve around conflict (“Your group gets ambushed by a horde of goblins in the dark! What do you do?”) or more socially (“The elf with the tattoos and her Halfling companion beckon you over. What do you do?”). But regardless of what type of situation you find yourself in you must react as your character would.


We had two games going and I played two different characters. Dorn is a human bounty hunter from Waterdeep who’s created a bit of a name for himself there but is trying to branch out a little bit. He’s confident in his skills and his attention and focus is on the fact that he has a job to do.

And then we have Flynt. I really miss playing Flynt. I had great plans for him when I came up with his character. Originally he was supposed to be similar to the nameless minstrel from Gaining Music, giving out inspiration and confidence to his companions. But from the start I knew that wasn’t going to be who Flynt was. I started envisioning him as a dashing rogue and a bit of a con-artist. Quick to get in trouble, and equally quick to get out of it. However, that’s also not who Flynt is. Flynt is, in a word, Flynt. Insanely charismatic, he’s a bit of a dick at times and started off as quite cowardly. As the sessions went on, though, he started to grow and became less cowardly. Instead, he has a great sense of self preservation.


From that time Tina, Will, and I adventured our way into Mordor
As much as I’d love to be as courageous as Dorn, or as charismatic as Flynt, the harsh reality is that I’m not. Nor do I believe I ever will be. They are exaggerated after all. But I’m slowly coming to the realization that I’m more like them than I thought. At least in one respect. Like them, I’m an adventurer looking for treasure. And like them, I’m forging relationships with other adventurers I'm meeting along the way. The treasure I just happen to be seeking is memories, experiences, and friendships instead of money, weapons, and items.

Maybe Jay is right. Maybe I actually am a people person as I’m finding great enjoyment and enrichment in meeting other adventurers along the way…



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Unavoidable Costs of Travelling

Travelling isn’t cheap. I know that from first hand experience. But after a fair amount of travelling, I can also tell you that it isn’t as expensive as one thinks it is. And because costs seems to be a big fear that stops people from travelling, I’m hoping that with this post I can dispel some of belief that it’s out of someone’s reach because of costs.


Unfortunately this is one cost that you really can’t get around. It fluctuates immensely depending on where you’re flying to as well. Though apps and websites like Skyscanner and Hopper can help by keeping an eye on flights and prices for you. Top tip: Search for flights in a private browser window. Airline websites store cookies and if they notice you looking up flights often, they will increase the costs of them. In a private window, no cookies are stored and you should get the best of the deals!


Flights and accommodations will be the most expensive costs that you incur. There are, however, some ways to costs on the accommodations front. For example, I am a huge fan of hostels over hotels. In fact, if I can avoid it, I won’t stay in a hotel. Hostels have a bit of a communal feeling to them and it’s quite easy to meet people. Especially when you are travelling alone. And I find that the average price for a hostel is between $25-$30/night. Of course that’s in western countries. It might even be cheaper in South East Asia, but I can’t comment on that from experience. My friend Melissa wrote a blog post on choosing the right hostel, and you can find it HERE.


This is a cost that can fluctuate quite a bit. Myself, I like to choose a hostel that’s somewhat centrally located and then just use my own two feet to get where I’m going. That saves me quite a bit of money with public transit, but doesn’t do a lot of good when I’m switching towns.

If you plan on doing a lot of travel in a region, I would look at options such as the Eurail Pass for Europe or the JR Pass in Japan. Both would save you considerable money if you actually travel from place to place.

Food and Beverage

Eating out is expensive. There’s no two ways about that. So by far the cheapest way to get your daily sustenance is actually cooking. Spending some time grocery shopping at the supermarket, prepping and cooking your food in the hostel kitchen, and getting to know your fellow backpackers. All part of the travelling charm. And it won’t break the bank.

Don’t let that stop you from having a nice meal every now and then. Just don’t make it a habit. Because that will add up really quick and you’ll be back on your way home before you know it.


The extra adventures are the ones that you really need to budget. That Skydive? That bungy jump? That island cruise? Those are the expensive costs. But I’ve had just as much fun, if not more, hiking in New Zealand or wandering around Kyoto with my friends Lio and Sierra. Walking is great exercise, and it doesn’t cost a thing either. You also get to experience so much more of the country that you’re in.


I travel light. So that naturally means that I just travel with a carryon. It saves me the cost of checking my baggage on the airlines and I won’t actually be without my luggage when an airline loses cargo. And I won’t have to wait at the carousel to collect my bag at the airport! That being said, I needed a good backpack that had to fit carryon regulations and last me for a long time. I bought one and couldn’t be happier with my choice (Osprey Farpoint 40, in case you were wondering). There is one glaring negative point of the laptop sleeve buying on the outer side, but I’m willing to over look that in light of the positives.

I also use packing cubes to organize my clothing in my bag, which makes it easier to find things when looking. But it is also a cost to be taken into account if you don’t already have the items. There should be some links to Amazon on the right hand side if you needed to purchase anything so that you can do a little travelling.

The Breakdown

In reality, travelling can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want, really. There are some costs that are inescapable, but in the long scheme of things aren’t as much as you would think. In fact, I spent less when I went to Spain than I would have had I stayed home. A grand total of $1500 went into Spain (not including flight, which was paid off by the time I left) and my monthly rent at home was $1400. And of course, the cost really depends on where you plan on going for your trip and your travelling style. I personally have a minimalist style of travelling and don’t seem to acquire a lot of things while away.

All in all, I would say that if you could budget for $50 to $75 a day for a western style country, I believe you would be quite content for your travels.