AK Monthly Recap: October 2020
Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks! It’s crazy how different October 1 looked from October...

Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

It’s crazy how different October 1 looked from October 31.

At the beginning of the month, life in Prague was almost normal. Restaurants and bars closed at 10:00 PM, and masks were required indoors, but other than that, it was Prague as usual, operating in full.

Then the Czech Republic’s COVID infection rate became the highest in the world.

New restrictions were added every few days: first, restaurants closed at 8:00 PM, then they closed altogether (takeout and delivery are still okay), then all nonessential shops closed, then we could only be outside for essential or exercise reasons (this does not seem to be enforced whatsoever), then there was a 9:00 PM curfew, where you could only go outside if you had a dog and stayed within 500 meters of your home.

The good news is that while the infection rate in the Czech Republic is still quite serious, the city of Prague has improved significantly. Our transmission rate has fallen and we are now one of the lesser-hit regions. And this time around, people are hospitalized and in intensive care at a lower rate. The current restrictions last until November 20.

I’m very glad that we are not facing a lockdown like France’s, where people are kept indoors for nearly the whole day.

And now you understand why I didn’t leave the city limits this month.

A yellow building in Karlín in the background, several trees with red-brown leaves in the foreground.
Welcome to my neighborhood — Karlín!

Destinations Visited

Prague, Czech Republic

Kate's hand holds a beer while overlooking the treetops and yellow and orange buildings of Prague
Before everything closed down, we enjoyed an outdoor beer in Vyšehrad.

Highlights

I got my Czech bridge visa! Originally, I was planning to get the freelance business visa, but my agency and I decided to change gears and go for family reunification visa instead (yes, unmarried partners count as family). Though I wanted to get a visa on my own business merit, we couldn’t ignore the advantages: family reunification is faster and cheaper to get, it lasts for longer, and most importantly, I could do it all in Prague without having to make two trips to Berlin, at a time when travel is significantly restricted.

We’re still in the process of getting the main visa done — but I can stay in the country! I have a four-month bridge visa for now; my official visa should finalize in that time period (and if it doesn’t, I can just get another bridge visa). Best of all, once I get my official visa, it’s good for FIVE YEARS!

Even better? I’m now considered an EU resident, and most of the COVID restrictions in Europe are based on residency, not citizenship. That means that I can visit most European countries with a negative COVID test; Americans can’t visit most European countries at all.

My next step is getting my živno, my Czech trade license, which will allow me to run my business from here and pay Czech taxes.

Do you need a Czech visa? You need an agency to help you navigate the process; it’s impossible to do on your own if you don’t speak Czech. I recommend my agency: ExpatZone.cz. Tell them Adventurous Kate sent you and they’ll take especially good care of you.

The old living room: tall wooden bookcase, wooden table with black plastic legs, and old gray futon.
Before: old bookcase, mismatched table, and 19-year-old futon.
The new living room: two bookcases with industrial black metal and dark oak wood shelves, a white glossy coffee table with brass hairpin legs, and a modern teal sofa with a yellow blanket on top.
After: industrial bookcases, hacked mid-century coffee table, and modern teal couch!

Redecorating! I talked about redecorating in a post this month, but we made three major changes: the futon from 2001 was replaced with a modern teal sofa; the IKEA BILLY bookcase was replaced by two modern industrial oak-and-steel shelves, and the IKEA wood-and-plastic frankentable was replaced by a glossy white IKEA TOFTERYD coffee table, on which we added mid-century brass hairpin legs!

It will look more put together when we add more books and decor, but it’s well on its way.

Voting from abroad! I cast my vote from Prague this month, and though it didn’t have the same feeling as voting in person, I was happy and grateful to do so.

Lots of Prague exploration. I love taking long walks, and walking around Prague on my own has helped me get to know the city better. I got to see more of the “cool” neighborhoods of Žižkov and Vinohrady, and we enjoyed a cool beer garden in Vyšehrad, overlooking the treetops.

Getting my first haircut in 15 months. Yes, you read that right — 15 months. My last cut was in July 2019, before I flew to the Caucasus! I had waited a long time, but then the pandemic hit and it didn’t feel safe to get a haircut.

Long curly hair gets kind of mermaid-like when you keep it going for that long, and not in a good way. My stylist, a lovely Brazilian guy named Gil Claire, told me that I had waited WAY too long and made me promise to come in SOONER next time. Oh well. I got it done a week before we found out about the new lockdown.

Mirror selfie of Kate getting a haircut in a leopard-print bib, wearing a mask. Her stylish wears a mask while blow-drying her hair.
I really needed that haircut.

Challenges

Watching the city shut down little by little. The worst was when our Saturday farmer’s market shut down. At least we still have our smaller Friday market.

Canceling our chalupa. In Czech, chalupa means cottage (and it’s pronounced ha-LU-pa, not like the Taco Bell way!); we had plans to go away to a cottage with a few friends in our bubble. New restrictions canceled that; you can’t book a rental with more than two people if you’re coming from multiple households.

A scary accidental detour through the woods. Walking back to my place in Karlín from the neighborhood of Žižkov, you usually take the tunnel, but I had never been in the tunnel and was uneasy about taking it at night. Instead, I followed a route that Google suggested, and looked normal. It was NOT normal. It took me on a COMPLETELY UNLIT path through the woods on an incredibly steep downhill path and several flights of stairs!

If you’re a woman who has walked through an unexpectedly isolated place at night, especially from places that could potentially host encampments of people who don’t want to be disturbed by outsiders, you know how scary that can be.

Construction in our building. One of the units in our building has been under construction, making it profoundly annoying to work through all the noise (including knocking down a whole chimney — I didn’t even know our building HAD chimneys!). Ordinarily, I would go work in a coffeeshop, but PANDEMIC — there’s nowhere else to go!

A view of Prague's Astronomical Clock on the left, with a blue and gold clock and several rings moving around. In the background, Old Town Square with pointy church steeples sticking above the peach-colored buildings.
The Astronomical Clock usually draws a huge crowd. Not this year.

Most Popular Blog Post

The Biggest Mistakes Travelers Make in Italy — The best part were the Italians who told me that I was actually right! Italians are not generous with praise ordinarily, so that meant a lot!

Yellow and brown buildings in the foreground, one draping a Czech flag from the window, and in the background, the silver, space station-like TV tower.
Žižkov is most famous for its TV Tower, Prague’s infamous eyesore!

Other Blog Posts

Redecorating a Prague Apartment: These Are the BEFORE Photos! — A preview of how we are going to be redoing our apartment.

How to Spend Three Days in Dubrovnik: The Best itinerary — Three days is the perfect amount of time to explore Dubrovnik! This is how I would plan three perfect days, down to the best beaches and restaurants.

On Sustainability, Travel During a Pandemic: A Look at Maslina Resort — A fascinating interview about how to do sustainability in 2020, how to open a hotel during a pandemic, and what everyone else in the hotel industry is getting wrong.

In Karlín: a green crenellated building next to several trees with yellow leaves underneath a blue sky.
We had the most beautiful yellow leaves this month.

This Month on Patreon

This month on the Adventurous Kate Patreon my long-form post was an essay about the island of Vis, Croatia, and the frozen-in-time town of Seaside, Florida. What did those two destinations have in common? They attracted wealthy people — not in a flashy way, but discreetly wealthy people. And what does it mean to enjoy a place that caters to the wealthy? How do you balance your personal beliefs in a place like this?

I also published a few mini posts — a post on my favorite foods I’ve discovered while on the road (and had no idea they existed before I got there), and also an inside look at how I’m turning a crappy little post I wrote in 2011 into a long-term moneymaker that earns good money.

A wavy modern office building with panels of autumn leaves in between dark glass windows, yellow and orange trees in the foreground.
Love the fall look of this office building!

Book Club This Month

Our next Book Club is going to be on Sunday, December 6, at 1:00 PM EST. Our book club features books by women of color from around the world, and so far our reads have taken us from the high-rises of Seoul to the pristine beaches of Haiti to the dark bars of Johannesburg.

This month, we’re reading our first book by a Southeast Asian author: The Night Tiger by Malaysian author Yangszee Choo.

“Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths racks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming-of-age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.”

You can get your ticket here. It’s pay-what-you-wish and I suggest $5; Patreon members get in for free.

If you haven’t come to a Book Club meeting yet, why make this the month? They’re fun! We’ve got an awesome core group of regulars each month, but it’s always nice to add some new faces!

Kate smiling in a hot pink peacoat that hits just above her knees with an upward facing collar. She also wears jeans and tall black boots and big black sunglasses. She is smiling and in the background is a two-tone pink crenellated building.
I love this coat!

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

I needed to get a medium-weight coat, something more formal than my puffer jacket, and I assumed I was going to get one of the ubiquitous black and white tweed coats everyone is wearing at the moment. Then I tried this one on at Marks & Spencer and it just transformed me. If a piece of clothing makes you feel like that, you should get it!

A short walk from the mall is my favorite pink building in Prague. I had to pose in front of it! You can follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.

What I Watched This Month

The Queen’s Gambit is a lovely miniseries on Netflix! It’s about a teenage girl who is a chess prodigy in the 1960s. It’s a beautiful period piece and I’m in love with all the costumes and styling!

Another great show is World’s Toughest Race: Fiji Ecochallenge on Amazon. It’s one of the world’s top adventure races around Fiji, with insane athletes from around the world, all of them people you can’t help but root for. Bear Grylls hosts it. (Yeah, it’s made by Amazon and Mark Burnett, both of whom I can’t stand…still, this show is worth it.)

Other than that, we got in a bunch of movies. Borat — OH MY GOD. I had no idea if they could pull it off a second time, but they did.

Spy was a hilarious and wonderfully feminist comedy starring Melissa McCarthy.

BlacKkKlansman and Goodfellas were both worth a rewatch. And I finally introduced Charlie to Mean Girls. (He laughed hard at “Oh Danny DeVito, I love your work!”)

Super excited for The Crown to come out this month. Finally, the arrival of Diana is here!

A yellow building with crenellation underneath a blue and white sky in Prague.
One of my favorite buildings in the Old Town.

What I Read This Month

This was a very good month for reading and a few of these will make my “Best Reads of 2020” post at the end of the year.

Luster by Raven Leilani (2020) — Edie is a directionless twenty-something woman: she’s living in an infested apartment in Brooklyn and working a dead-end job with no opportunity for advancement due to some poor choices she’s made. She becomes romantically involved with a forty-something man in an open marriage, and soon she becomes pulled into his and his wife’s orbit, filled with mind games and deception.

This is the best novel I’ve read this year. It made my skin crawl; it felt like I myself was living through Edie, coming face to face with my worst choices. And Raven Leilani’s writing is sensual in every way. Like Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, which I read a few months ago it’s another story of a young Black woman existing and observing in the lives of Good White Liberals who fall short in their actions, though not quite in the same way. A book that I’ll be remembering for a long time.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (2020) — Gifty, a neuroscience researcher and daughter of Ghanian immigrants, is studying the effects of addiction and reflecting on her brother, who died of opioid addiction as a teenager. As her suicidal mother, a devout evangelical Christian, comes to see her, Gifty reflects on the nature of addiction, race and the African immigrant experience, and how science and faith can coexist in the same world.

What an absolutely beautiful book. Gyasi’s first novel Homegoing blew me away, and Transcendent Kingdom has that same quality — you hold on to the book, read each paragraph carefully, and marvel at just how good it is. What impressed me the most is how she layered so many different topics in the book, and there wasn’t a single weak link. It was perfectly balanced and incredibly captivating. Very, very much worth the read.

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller (2019) — For years, the world only knew Miller as Emily Doe — the rape victim of Brock Turner. In this book, Miller takes back control of her story, telling the complete account of what happened, and the exhausting and disappointing aftermath.

Miller is a fantastic writer. This is what she was born to do. (Also, her mother is a celebrated novelist in China.) Everything was written in a painstakingly beautiful way. But as for the content of the book, it was shocking. When Miller woke up, she didn’t even know she had been sexually assaulted because NOBODY TOLD HER. Stanford’s behavior toward her was reprehensible. And the way Brock Turner’s lawyers treated her was horrifying. Even when her original letter was published, people who were supposed to be on her side claimed there was no way she could have written a letter that good.

But it’s hopeful. It shows how she leaned on her art, how she coped with her boyfriend and family, and how she wasn’t the only victim — they all suffered in different ways. Especially her sister, who felt responsible for what had happened.

There is so much that needs to change in America about helping victims of sexual assault and changing rape culture. This book clearly illustrates so many of the things that we need to change. I’m so grateful that she wrote this beautiful and sad book.

A giant gravestone featuring a man's head and a green angel statue.
This cemetery made a spooky pre-Halloween excursion.

I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir by Chasten Buttigieg (2020) — When Chasten Buttigieg’s husband ran for president, he became the first same-sex spouse of a presidential candidate. Within weeks, the world learned that Chasten was incredibly witty and a joy to be around. This book tells the story of his life, from growing up queer in a conservative part of Michigan to navigating college as a first-time college student in his family to finding what he was meant to do in theatre and education. And, of course, meeting Pete and the whole campaign.

Chasten is just lovely, and he seems like a great person to hang out with. More than anything, this book encapsulates the vulnerabilities of first-generation college students navigating a system that can financially cripple them for decades. Even so, I felt like this book was a bit…political spouse-y. It’s obvious that Pete has a long political career ahead of him, and when that’s your future, you need to hold yourself back. I would love to see a more unleashed Chasten!

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett (2016) — How can you build your life in the same way that designers design things? You isolate for variables, build prototypes, test, and find out what works. This book, based on a popular course at Stanford, teaches you how to build prototypes of your own that build a work and career life that works for you.

I found this to be a very thoughtful book that shows you how to build a life that works for your personal needs. I loved the examples from the book — some people end up in careers that are poorly suited for them, and some think they need a new career, but end up much happier after making some specific tweaks to what they’re doing. And honestly, by reading this, I’ve realized that I’ve been designing my own life for a long time, and ended up in something that actually works quite well!

If you know anyone in your life who is a new fully remote worker, or is the kind of person who keep going around in circles, saying they’re going to change but keeps ending in doing the same thing over and over, you should get them this book.

Prague Castle and St. Vitus's cathedral atop a hill; in the foreground, churches and the Charles Bridge, all set on the river.
Prague Castle as seen from the river.

Coming Up in November 2020

Yes, this post is a bit on the late side — honestly, election week was so insane. I originally planned on taking off just Tuesday and Wednesday, but I was so preoccupied with refreshing Twitter that I didn’t work all week. (The best thing about being self-employed is getting to take time off for things that mean a lot to you!)

I’m thrilled that Biden was elected, and fired up for the Georgia run-offs on January 5.

(Do you know any Georgians turning 18 before January 5? They can register to vote now! Do you know any college students in Georgia? THEY CAN REGISTER FOR THE RUN-OFF WITH THEIR COLLEGE ADDRESS! Register here by December 7! Please spread this to any Georgia high school or college student you know!)

Beyond that, Prague is scheduled to be under the current restrictions until November 20. I doubt I’ll be going anywhere else this month; if I do, it might be some nature exploration near the city.

Work-wise, I know I have to get in the posts I want before the end of the year, as December is for my “best of the year” posts. I’ve got some more Croatia posts in development and I’m excited to share them with you.

What are you looking forward to in November? Share away!


But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. tera celebrate a full decade since I stumbled my way out of the U. K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets around the world. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things.

One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your orgie will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your orgie so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing-sounding town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.

Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.

If you do only one thing before you leave, make it getting travel insurance. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travellers injuring themselves in remote places and ending up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because you know those travellers thought that, too. I’ve use World Nomads for my travel insurance provider for six years and recommend them to everyone I know. They were fantastic to deal with when making a claim.

People laughed at me when I said that I was carrying around a dozen spare passport photos, but they’ve been incredibly useful and saved me a ton of time and hassle. Who wants to wander the streets of some rural town in Cambodia searching for someone who can take your photo ? Friends of mine had to do this !

I’ve used them to apply for visas around the world, to get a new passport when mine expired while I was on the other side of the planet, and I even needed one to buy a local SIM card in Nepal ! Having spares in my backpack meant that I didn’t have to waste a day researching and then wandering around a city to try to find someone who could take a passport-sized photo of me.

I’m fortunate to have never had to deal with lost luggage, but I did have my backpack ripped open on a flight and I was grateful to have not had anything valuable in it at the time. I’ve also been on dodgy buses in Southeast Asia where we’ve arrived at our destination and people have had items stolen by someone hiding out in the luggage hold while we were transit.

If there’s anything I’d be upset to lose, I keep it in my daypack, which is always by my side on travel days. For me, that’s my passport, laptop, camera, external hard drive, a debit card, and some spare cash. As long as I have all of these, I can survive indefinitely.

When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island-hopping and beach time, as well as entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer or a body that’s blanketed in leathery wrinkles.

There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After eight years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll mean a lot more to you when you look back at them. You’ll gain more respect from the locals if you can at least say hi, please, sorry, and thank you. On that note, remember : if you don’t speak the language, it’s your problem, not theirs. And please don’t start speaking louder to make yourself understood. Try miming instead, or using a translation app on your phone.

Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud bars nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.

I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed variantes of them ! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these ! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.

Sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and sometimes you could even lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least three debit/credit cards with you that are all linked to different accounts ( with money in them ! ) Keep one in your backpack, one in your daypack, and one on your person.

I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worse-case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U. S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.

When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget back in 2014, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past eight years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself ! If you know it’s safe to travel somewhere, but can’t find out much else, go for it. It’s probably far easier to get there than you think. And if not, it makes for a good story.

I’m definitely testament to that ! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless ! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.

It achieves absolutely nothing and makes you look like an asshole. Instead, calm down, put a smile on your face, think of how this will make a great story one day, and rationally figure out an option plan. This too shall pass.

What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your mail confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery ? I always make sure I have a copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.

So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my second year of travel, and man, I missed them so much ! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear pantalons to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris !

Checking out is when you’re most likely to lose something. Whenever I check out of a place, I check the bathroom, I check under the beds, I check the desks, and then I make sure I have my passport, laptop, camera, money, phone, and external drive. I’ll be fine if I leave anything else behind. Having a routine that you go through every single time will help you keep track of everything. I learned my lesson with this one when I left my passport behind in a guesthouse in Bagan, then left it in an apartment in London two months later.

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