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This Is the Year to Start the Blog You’ve Always Wanted to Start and Here’s How

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

With a new year comes new inspiration and resolutions to propel us to new heights. If you’ve always dreamed of one day having your own blog to share your travels, your style or even your day-to-day thoughts… this is your year.

It’s been about five years since the formation of Dame Traveler’s blog, and over this time we’ve collected some outstanding resources for new, or soon-to-be bloggers. Here they are!

Beginner Steps on How to Start a Blog

Find A Niche

Many influencers in the past have claimed that “blogging is dead” – but we wholeheartedly disagree. Sure, we live in a oversaturated media age… but by no means does that mean there isn’t room at the table for everyone. Each one of us has a perspective and a voice worth hearing. It’s time to share yours! There is an audience out there begging for your knowledge, your style, your voice. Do it, girlfriend.

Finding a “niche” comes down to getting clear about your passions, as well as targeting problems you are capable of solving or areas of need. For example, if you are incredibly passionate about outdoor adventures, look into competitive blogs out there and see what is missing or you’d personally had loved to see years ago when you started.

Pick A Name

What’s in a name? Choosing a name for your blog is perhaps one of the hardest elements for most! Some things to note, choose a name that stands the test of time. This is not the time to get too trendy! As years pass, many bloggers have turned to more classic names (or even changed their branding to simply be their name).

Choose evergreen qualities associated with your ideals or mission. Make a list of words and descriptors associated with your niche and your pathos/ethos, see what sticks! And from there, simplify once more. Your name should be simple enough for new readers to remember!

P.S. changing your name down the road isn’t the biggest headache… so don’t get bogged down in this step of the process or have it stop your progress! Move forward with something that fits, you can always change it later if needed.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How


After you’ve picked a name, it’s time to commit! Buying a domain is simple and straightforward. Choose a reliable registrar (we happen to love using GoDaddy) and run a domain name search to see if yours is available. This can get a bit picky in today’s day and age as many domains have been used or are already existing by other users… so get creative. A simple change your “.com” to something similar to “.co” will do… or add hyphens between words.

Side note: be sure your name’s social media handle is available in some shape or form!

WordPress / Plugins

There are many other blogging platforms others adore, so be sure to do your research. We’re huge fans of WordPress‘s customization, and can’t argue with its price point for beginning bloggers. Another huge benefit to WordPress it that all users own all of their content. Plus, it’s a simple integration from your domain website and presto! Once you’ve gotten set up on WordPress, it’s time to download some plugins to streamline your blog’s functionality. Some of our favorites include: YoastSEO, Classic Editor, WP Instagram Widget, Really Simple SSL, JetPack by, and Contact Form. 

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How


Templates are a blast to explore once you’ve set up the backend of your blog! When searching for a template, it’s important to choose a theme that stays true to your “brand” – colors, fonts and layout cannot be overlooked. If you have no idea where to start, start sifting through your favorite websites and see how they organize their websites. Do you enjoy having a series of blog posts mentioned on your homepage, or are you looking for a journal-esque entry? What fonts do you love? Do you like clean, minimal templates or detailed, playful ones? WordPress has many templates to experiment with (ours is the Rosemary Theme)… so just start trying! There are also amazing template designers out there too, so don’t be afraid to reach out to theme/template creators if you’re willing to invest.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Our Standby Resources

Once you’ve got a solid foundation for your blog, it’s time to get into the fun stuff! Below are some of our standout resources we’d happily invest in over and over again.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Replica Surfaces

Foodies know that having a handful of props helps any and all shooting circumstances. We discovered Replica Surfaces earlier this year and are obsessed with their photography backdrops. They’re lightweight, realistic backdrops to photograph any time, anywhere with. Their textures and portability can’t be beat!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Fujifilm X-T20 or Fujifilm X-T30

If photography is something you’re hoping to delve into with your blog, the Fujifilm X-T20 or the Fujifilm X-T30 are excellent mirrorless cameras that pack a punch. Needless to say, the ability to capture stunning photographs is a crucial element to blogging in today’s day and age… so investing in an excellent started camera with advanced settings like these are a must. (P.S. read more our photography gear and tech resources here.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Google Pixel 4XL

If you’re a soon to be blogger on the go, the Google Pixel 4XL is an awesome addition to your line up. The camera on it are just as high of quality than many other beginner point and shoot cameras (if not better)! P.S. if you’re looking to upgrade your smartphone travel photography skills… read this post!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Google Analytics

To deeply understand your blog’s growth and content your readers are referring to… or to brainstorm some goals month to month, Google Analytics is your go-to resource! Google Analytics is a web analytics service that reports traffic on your blog, giving you insight and a clear idea on what’s most popular. You can also easily see where your followers are coming from, from the keywords that drew them to your site and what content they’re engaging with most. It’s a one-stop look into the details of your blog’s growth!


Tailwind has completely refreshed and rejuvenated our Pinterest posts! Essentially, Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling app that uses an algorithm to identify when your posts will reach the biggest audience and the best engagement. It also re-shares evergreen content that is re-pinned and loved by Pinterest followers too. Tailwind is not only a streamlined way to keep on top of Pinterest, but it’s grown our blog readership tenfold!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How


Canva is an excellent resource to create graphic designs yourself that align with your blog’s branding and design. Whether a Instagram Story template that directs your followers to a new blog post, or a collaged collection or photos for a chic roundup post… Canva has a design for everything. They also have printing services too! Perfect for business cards and other PDF designs you may make.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How


If you’re ready to start upping your photography skills with your new blog, experimenting with photography looks is a fun step of the process. Finding a look and vibe that you’re excited by is a crucial step of the creative process and presets can help!

Find Us Lost Presets

We love Find Us Lost Presets, especially their full collection of Adobe Lightroom presets, inspired by various destinations they’ve traveled to. You’ll find endless options, no matter what lighting situation you shot in during your travels, as well as a really handy editing tutorial video and installation guide to answer any questions you run into! (P.S. if you’re on Instagram and not following Find Us Lost, stop what you’re doing right now and do so. We’re obsessed!)

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Bon Traveler Lightroom Presets

Another of our favorite photo editing collections is Bon Traveler’s Lightroom Presets! Created by Jessica Wright (one of our favorite travel photographers and bloggers), these presets have such a dreamy, creamy tone to them. Created to take out the guessing when it comes to editing photos – these presets are balanced, have the hues and luminance to create a warm “vibe” to each snap you’ve captured. You’ll find each collection has a desktop or mobile option to choose from, which is perfect for synching up any smartphone photos with your DSLR shots for a uniform look. We also love that each collection mentions what they were inspired by and how Jessica uses them for various locations.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Everybody Lies Book

If Instagram growth and monetization are your two biggest goals after establishing your blog – read “Everybodies Lies” and thank us later! It’s a dive deep into the world of social media, candidly uncovering the experts and influencers’ unspoken secrets. If you’re at all curious about what it takes for entrepreneurs and aspiring influencers do to cultivate their audience, this book breaks it down in a simplified and streamlined manner. Expect all the tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere on the internet!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How


We truly believe this is the time to really start that blog you’ve always dreamed of creating. Happy blogging!

Featured Photography Tech

A Look Inside Nastasia’s Photography and Tech Gear

A Look Inside Nastasia's Travel Photography Gear

Easily the question I get most often as a full-time traveler and photographer is what gear I use and what I’d recommend most. So, today I wanted to share an inside look at my stand-by travel photography gear!

​​​​​​​Truth be told, I’m a pretty minimal, no-frills photographer. I believe in investing in quality gear that does the job over have every gadget under the sun. So, the items you’ll see in this list are those that choose to carry with me – they’re sturdy and absolutely reliable.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera

The Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera is so lightweight and great for travel, while still maintaining the image quality and vibrant colors of its heavier counterparts in the Canon family!

I use two lenses for shooting with this camera. One being the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS Lens, which comes with the camera itself. I love it because it doesn’t require an adapter and has an excellent wide range.

The second lens I carry with me is my trusty 16-35mm Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens. I love shooting wide to capture the effect you see on @dametraveler (small woman subject in juxtaposition with a grand, epic landscape). This one is a must for me! It’s also great for interior shots and hotel rooms. That being said, this one does require an adapter, so be sure to get that if you’re looking for a similar set up!

A Look Inside Nastasia's Travel Photography Gear

If you’re perusing any sort of gear, I love shopping at the Adorama store in New York City as well as their awesome website. as my one-stop shop for all things photography.

For Beginners: Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera

This is my favorite camera ever. It was my very first camera when I started travel blogging and I still use it from time to time. It’s discreet and super light weight but takes incredibly sharp and beautiful photos. Small but mighty! I highly recommend this as a beginner camera as it’s also easy to use and you can change out the lenses.


Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera

I’m also a big fan of the Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera which is a bit on the pricey end but a great investment if your skills are a bit more advanced and you’re using it professionally. It eventually pays for itself!


Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS E-Mount Lens

I’ve been using this zoom lens a ton lately because I got tired of carrying so many lenses and having to constantly change them out. The zoom is super crisp and is great for street photography and landscapes.


DJI Mavic Mini CP

This mini-drone by DJI is everything! It’s a tiny wonder that weighs the same as an iPhone, but packs a serious punch in terms of flight control, and simplified flying experience. Given the precious space my backpack is, I’m super grateful for its small and compact size! With 30 minute maximum flight time that can be synched up with my iPhone to view the perspectives I’m aiming for easily, there’s nothing better if you ask me! I purchased this gem at Adorama (one of my absolute favorite camera gear stores in the world!), and I could not be blown away.


DJI Mavic Mini

Fujifilm instax Mini Instant Camera

Such a fun and easy way to create nostalgic and vintage looking photos in an instant! I love the Fujifilm instax Mini Instant Camera as it comes in many colors, the price point is reasonable and it’s lightweight.

Mophie PowerStation

This portable battery is a game changer simply because I love how reliable it is in all circumstances! It charges over twenty hours for my iPhone and is specially made to coordinate with Apple products. s. Its two USB ports on the side allow me to charge other stuff all at once. Plus, it’s slim and easy slides right into my bag! Another little fun feature this guy has is that it will prioritizing charging your tech when plugged into the wall, then charge itself afterward. Genius!

Zagg InvisibleSHIELD iPhone Screen Protector

Speaking of protection, having a great tempered glass screen protector for your phone is a must. Knowing that if you accidentally drop your phone won’t result in a serious headache feelings amazing. I love this one by Zagg for iPhone because its slim but sturdy, 100% clear and bubble free.

Incase Neoprene Classic Sleeve For MacBook 13″

I love this simple laptop sleeve for its reliability and its plush details. Inside it has the coolest faux-fur lining that helps prevent scratches on your laptop and, yet, it’s still lightweight and slim.


Adjustable Cell Phone Stand

I love this hands free cell phone stand that’s easy to store and travel with and most importantly, gives your hands and fingers a break!

DJI OM 4 Handheld Gimbal

I love using the new DJI OM 4 Hnadheld Gimbal  to capture super smooth videos while I’m out and about. The gimbal gives your videos a high quality, cinematic effect and it’s super lightweight, easy to carry. Just snap it onto the magnetic attachment to your phone and you’re good to go!


A Look Inside Nastasia's Travel Photography Gear

I hope you all enjoyed an inside look at my travel photography gear! If you have any other questions about gear, don’t be shy. I’d love to help!


12 Films That Will Inspire Any Woman To Travel

Sometimes, travel inspiration comes in unexpectedly. It can happen through the pages of books, conversations, photos and life changing meals. But we’d be lying if we didn’t tell you that some of our biggest travel inspo comes directly from films. Yep, some of our biggest wanderlust strikes in the midst of compelling movies set in far off places. Today, we wanted to share twelve of our favorite films that will inspire any woman to travel this world!


1,100 miles of extreme solitude and wrestling the natural elements of the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl Strayed’s journey from the Mojave Desert to Washington State isn’t just her ticket to recovery, but also to fulfillment and courage. “Wild” had our hearts pounding, and we’re sure it will inspire you to reconnect with nature and push your boundaries externally and internally.

Roman Holiday

Is there a more classic travel film? We think not! Audrey Hepburn stole our hearts in her iconic role as rule-breaking Princess Ann, who gleefully whisks herself free from her royal schedule for a night in Rome. If there’s a more charming travel movie, call us liars!

Lost In Translation

After feeling trapped in the confines of their hotel, a neglected woman and a has-been actor form an unlikely friendship… and their boredom is dashed aside after they take on the bright lights of Tokyo awaiting them. This film’s cinematography brings the intense beauty of Japan to life. It’ll be hard not to book a one-way flight to the eclectic, ancient island nation.

Eat, Pray, Love

The journey to self discovery comes in many forms… and Eat, Pray, Love proves it. Told from the perspective of a woman who sets her sights on a new life’s direction, this movie is jam packed with all the good stuff women travelers hope for. Discovery, enlightenment, deliciousness, romance – it’s all there. We love how Eat, Pray, Love illustrates how travel brings more than beautiful destinations, but lots of self reflection and awareness.

P.S. we’re big fans of the book too! Check out some of our other fave female-focused travel books.

Thelma & Louise

The ultimate road trip movie! The dynamic duo take a trip of a lifetime, while escaping the law and finding love and discovery along the way. “Thelma & Louise” is a story of friendship formed over intense experiences together – quite like those we experience when traveling. Wouldn’t you agree?

Away We Go

The travel movie we’d recommend to any young couple. While awaiting the birth of their first baby, Burt and Verona travel across America searching for the perfect “home” for their new family. Their misadventures across the country bring them closer to old friends, and ultimately each other and themselves. We love the message of this movie – home isn’t always a place. It can be so much more than that.

Under The Tuscan Sun

A writer impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany – and the plot ensues! (Don’t we all wish this was our own reality?) After a heartbreaking divorce, Frances Mayes finds herself in Italy surrounded by new faces and unknown territory. “Under The Tuscan Sun” is the perfect movie for any female traveler making a big change in her life. Tuscany is truly the star of this film!

Out Of Africa

Africa’s stunning natural beauty will leave you breathless while watching. It’s no wonder that Meryl Streep’s character is swept away by more than the big game hunter she’s destined to fall for. “Out Of Africa” is shot with such detail and illustrative imagination, you’re bound to find yourself longing to experience the heart of Africa yourself.

Whale Rider

If you’re looking for an excuse to visit New Zealand – look no further. This relatively unknown film is incredibly moving. Set in the quiet and fascinating Maori village on the island, “Whale Rider” tells the story of a girl of the tribe struggle to find her grandfather’s acceptance while highlighting the struggles of the indigenous people. It’s truly one of our favorites.

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

Four best high school friends living in Maryland set off on their summers separately – on to Mexico, another to Greece, and others right at home. The storyline weaves their collective experiences beautifully, while also featuring the beauty and contrasts of experiences had solo. This movie may be an unexpected choice – but we promise you’ll be reinvigorated to connect with your besties while also craving your next adventure.


When craving a trip of solitude and reflection, lead character Robyn embarks on a solo trip from Alice Springs, Australia to the Indian Ocean. With her faithful dog and four camels in tow, this story illustrates an impossible journey completed by an unexpected hero. Truly a remarkable film that will illuminates how travel allows us to face our fears, and find our way.

Before Sunrise

This series is perfect for the romantic traveler. On his way to Vienna, Jesse meets Celine, a student on her way back to Paris. After a conversation of a lifetime, the two get off the train and explore Vienna. The rest? We’ll let you watch and see. This film is truly a glimpse at the romance of discovering a new place with and new person.

Did we miss your one of your favorite films that inspired you to travel? Let us know your favorites in a comment below!

Featured Guides Hotels North America

A Dame Traveler Insider Guide To Chicago

‘My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.’ – Oprah Winfrey

8 years ago, I took a leap of faith and left everything I’ve ever known in the suburbs of Michigan where I grew up, to start a new life in the city of Chicago. At the age of 20, coming from a strict Middle Eastern family, this was no small feat. I was on my own financially, emotionally and mentally, and pushed my way through obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at the Loyola University Chicago’s nursing school, successfully graduated and got got a job. I’ve traveled all over the world but whenever my plane lands in Chicago, my heart flutters and I’m reminded again and again why I love this city so much.

Sadly, I said farewell to Chicago to move to New York City in 2016 which was bittersweet time for me but Chicago will always be one of the most beautiful and special cities in the world in my eyes so I’d like to share this i guide with you all to encourage you to visit this incredible, underrated city.

Stunning architecture, friendly locals, gorgeous Lake Michigan, tons of speakeasys, world class restaurants and more, Chicago truly has something for everyone.

Things to do

Take a helicopter ride

There are so many viewpoints of Chicago’s stunning skyline but the best is surely from a helicopter. Chicago Helicopter Experiences Tours took us on a 20 minute ride over the city during twilight hour and it was pretty incredibly to watch the sky turn pink and the sun sink down. Hands down, one of my best Chicago memories to date!

Visit during Springtime

Located in the Midwest, Chicago is home to all four seasons in all of their glory but Springtime in Chicago is super special as the city defrosts from the cold winter and blooms beautifully. Michigan Avenue is covered in blankets of tulips and flowering trees hover over Grant Park. It’s truly a sight to see!

Experience Summertime Chi

Chicago is one of the best places to visit during Summertime- the lake, the outdoor dining, the beautiful sunsets, rooftops and more. The energy is amazing and there is so much to do.

Skydeck Chicago

There is no shortage of epic views in Chicago but one of the coolest is from the Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Perched on the 103rd floor, the observation deck boosts incredible 360 degree views of the city but the thick pieces of glass that create a ledge for you to peer down on the city at your feet is an exhilarating experience, especially for adrenaline junkies! I recommend going 1 hour before sunset as the light is best then.

360 Chicago Observation Deck

It’s really tough to choose which observation deck I like the best but the lake views and city views from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, at 360 Chicago are just stunning. the observation deck also features, TILT!, a tilting glass lookout 1000 ft. up

The Art Institute of Chicago

A classic and one of my favorites in Chicago, you’ll admire works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and more.

Photo op Tip: find this heavenly (and Instagrammable!) staircase in the modern wing.

Feel like you’re in New York City by exploring the West Loop

One of the reasons why I love Chicago so much is because it’s so neighborhoody which makes a big city feel more intimate. The West Loop / Greektown was the last place I lived before I moved to NYC in 2016 and I loved it because it reminded me of New York City a bit. If you ever visit Chi, I highly recommend making it out to the Weat Loop where you’ll find awesome views of the Willis Tower, cool SoHo-esque lofts and some of the best restaurants / coffee shops around (@girl.and.the.goat@auchevaldiner and my personal fav, Greek Isles, opa! just to name a few!

Where to Eat & Drink

The Hampton Social – Streeterville

The Hampton Social has seven locations in the US, inspired by East Coast vibes. We visited the Streeterville location in Chi and loved it! The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio on the second floor and the aesthetic are just as awesome as the dishes.

City Winery Riverwalk

The City Winery Riverwalk is one of my favorite places to have a drink and watch the boats go by. It’s an incredibly relaxing atmosphere and they have great bites too!

Bernie’s Chicago

Chicago is booming with tons of new restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. One of my favorite spots for lunch is Bernie’s Chicago. We indulged in everything from Pan con Tomate, Lamb Hashwi to Hanger Steak Salad and Croque Madame with their signature (and to die for I might add) Sangria to accompany this epic meal. Bernie’s is chef owned and operated by Chef Zack Sklar and Executive Chef Ryan Sand.

Where to Stay

Sonder Stay – Chicago

Life has really changed since March and I’ve been on lockdown in New York City ever since, so I decided that I needed a change of scenery and head to Chicago for a break from New York City. At first, I was hesitant to travel anywhere because I wasn’t sure if accommodations were ready to keep travelers safe, until I discovered Sonder Stays. Located in the South Loop of Chicago (they have many other locations in major cities around the world), my stay kept me feeling confidentially safe to enjoy my socially distant getaway. Everything was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and the building and unit felt brand new! I loved my stay and will definitely opt for a Sonder Stay for my future, domestic short getaways this year. Check them out here!

  • Self check-in and contactless service, key fobs in unit to access the building
  • Professionally cleaned and disinfected
  • Stylish and cozy, comfortable design
  • A user friendly app to give you the scoop on your stay and provides you with a code to help you enter your unit
  • Text message service for any questions you may have you may have
  • Fully stocked kitchen (including coffee, pots, pans, cleaning products, etc) and bathrooms
  • In unit washer in dryer – huge plus

Virgin Hotels Chicago

The Virgin Hotels Chicago is one of my favorite hotels in Chicago because of its incredible vibes, perfect location steps away from the Chicago Riverwalk, its amazing views, awesome rooftop, Cerise, 26th floor and impeccably designed rooms. But I’m not surprised because anything by the Virgin brand always brings good vibes!

Langham Chicago

For architecture lovers out there, the Langham Chicago is set in a Mies van der Rohe landmark tower, surrounded by stunning views of the Chicago River and a glimpse of Lake Michigan.  

Due to the recent pandemic, Langham Chicago also kept my mind at ease with their Covid precautions. Everything from taking mandatory core body temps at the door, to sanitizing every inch of the place constantly, to hand sanitizer at every corner to electrostatic sprayed rooms and spaces and more. I appreciate how seriously they’re taking this and have been loving social distancing from here, surrounded by views of the Chicago river and Lake Michigan.

You may also want to consider booking the Langham’s Club Lounge which is open all day and offers breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and canapés. The lounge offers also offers sweeping views of the city, the river and the lake but my favorite feature? The gorgeous Writer’s Corner and Library. It’s safe to say I spent a ton of time here, relaxing while I worked.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

I was hosted by Choose Chicago and and the partners above. As always, all opinions are my own.



Featured Journal

The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore and the questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? How does your 401k look for retirement? (Ok, a little dramatic on my part.)

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?

You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of traveling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.

This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.

This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.16

Author Kellie Donnelly is a PR girl living in Indiana and navigating the awkward post-college years. Read more of her pieces on Thought Catalog.