10-day vacation for TWO with only ONE carry-on bag

 I love budget travel. I ride the cheapest airlines, sleep in 12-bed rooms, and use the hostel kitchen to cook half my meals. Some people might look at it as giving a lot of things up, compared to how they typically travel. And it’s true, I sacrifice a lot of comforts and sleep to do things this way.
At the same time, though, I think taking cost-cutting measures is rewarding. One of my favorite ways time and money is to travel minimally, packing only what I really need to get by.
For our 10-day trip to Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin, my boyfriend and I flew with WOW, a super cheap airline that doesn’t offer a free carry on or a checked bag at all.
Of course, for a trip that long, especially in November we needed at least one piece of luggage. We opted to keep things cheap and simple by sharing this hiking backpack between the two of us.
Here is a complete list of everything I brought along, including everything I was wearing and what was in my free hand item, a pretty average size leather purse. My boyfriend brought a laptop bag (without a laptop inside) as a hand item and filled the remaining space in the backpack with clothes.

 

Carry on (including what I was wearing): 
  • 1 QT liquids bag: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, BB cream
  • Deodorant, makeup (mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, BB cream), toothbrush, ear swabs, chapstick
  • Power converter, cell phone charger
  • GoPro, GoPro charger, mounts
  • SIM card tool
  • Water bottle
  • Laundry detergent, dryer sheets
  • Prescriptions, ibuprofen
  • Padlock
  • Clothing
    • Socks (3 pairs)
    • Tights (2)
    • Underwear (4)
    • Plain black Leggings (1)
    • Skirts (2)
    • Black dress
    • Shirts (3)
    • Sweater
    • Sports bra, bra
    • Coat
    • Balaclava
    • Winter hat
  • All of Ethan’s clothes
Hand item:
  • Passport
  • A book
  • Journal, pen
  • DSLR camera
  • Phone with “phone wallet” for cards and cash
  • Earbuds
And that’s really everything!
Sharing a majority of the bathroom products and our chargers saved a lot of room. But I would say the real secret was reducing the number of clothing items we brought. We saved a lot of space by doing laundry during our trip. Both of us ended up pretty sick of wearing the same few outfits but we felt it was worth the sacrifice not to be burdened by big, heavy bags wherever we went. I would recommend traveling this way to anyone. It’s shockingly stress-free and keeps you super mobile so your stuff never holds you back.

Berlin

Ethan and I found super cheap airplane tickets to Europe and did a 10-day tour of Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin late this month. Here’s a post I wrote about my experience in Berlin on the flight back to Chicago.

 


Budget hostel with a bar

We stayed at Wombats City Hostel-Berlin in a six-bed hostel room. It cost about $12 per night and interestingly included a free drink at the rooftop hostel bar at arrival. They also had €4.50 unlimited (and good) German breakfast in the morning and €2.50 Berliner Pilsner pint-sized beers at night. I met quite a few people there from different English-speaking countries that went out with us later that night.
And the bar had a great (though misty) view of the city.
IMG_1050
Coffee everywhere 
I loved the fact that Berlin had coffee shops everywhere. I didn’t love that the cups were so small! I’m used to drinking relatively huge coffees in America so learning to savor a single shot of espresso was a challenge. I typically drink Americano-style plain black coffee, which isn’t very popular in Europe. I grew to really appreciate espresso macchiatos by the end of my stay, though.
IMG_1053
Free historical sites 
We visited several free historical sites including the Brandenburger Tor, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and preserved portions of the Berlin Wall.
berlin wall
Thrift shopping in a trendy area near Eberswalderstraße
I met a young German woman about my age on the bus from Hamburg to Berlin who recommended the Eberswalderstraße area to me. I ended up just off Eberswalderstraße on Oderberger Staße and found the best thrift stores. I bought a tiny glass bottle there that was made for a pharmacy in Berlin–way better than anything that could be bought in a tourist shop. Then I checked out some of the vintage clothing stores and got some new-to-me clothes.
thift shopping berlin
Vegan burgers, vegetarian restaurants 
 Again on Oderberger Straße, Ethan and I stopped at a restaurant named Burger World. It was an unfortunate name for such a cute, boutique style place. I ordered a delicious vegan burger. The atmosphere was beautiful, complete with a tablecloth, candle, etc.
 burger world berlin
Across from our hostel, we also stumbled across a great organic/vegetarian-focused restaurant called Rose Garden. Their foods were seasonal, healthy, and ethically sourced. We had pumpkin ravioli there the first time then went back there a second time for coffee and some very generously piled avocado toast.
Craft beer berlin
At Burger World, Ethan and I had tried BRLO beer on a whim. It was great and made in Berlin, so we decided to see if it had a tap house. It turned out to be newly opened, in a building made of 38 international shipping containers and one of the trendiest, top-rated new restaurants in Berlin. I’m not crazy about expensive but very small meals, so Ethan and I shared one, drank a variety of their beers and picked up some falafel sandwiches on our way back to the hostel.
IMG_1057

Back at it

I graduated from the University of Iowa in May, which caused me to lose access to a lot of their amazing film equipment… but I just bought a Braun NovoScan 120 film scanner so I can finally make digital copies of my images again.

I’m still getting used to it, and I’ve been having trouble getting the colors right. The scanner makes almost all of the adjustments automatically. Ektar is so saturated, I’m sure that’s throwing off the colors completely. Or maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always had this issue while scanning Ektar.

I won’t write a review of this scanner until I try using it with some other (more scanner-friendly) films. I just wanted to get some images posted on my blog to celebrate the fact I’m back in action.

All of the following images were created in La Porte City, Iowa using a Mamiya 645 1000s camera and Kodak Ektar 100 film.

PICT0015

PICT0009 copy copy

PICT0001

PICT0004

PICT0005copy

 

Alternative Grad School September update

I’ve been trying hard to keep up with my goals as I started my full-time position. It was difficult the first month when I was first starting my new job, of course, but I feel like I’ve really started to adjust and am learning how to accomplish more tasks after 5:00 p.m. and on the weekends.

Since I wrote my last list, I’ve read the following books, putting me at a total of three fiction books and 10 nonfiction:

  • The Gathering by Anne Enright
  • Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryū Suzuki
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • The Gangster of Love by Jessica Hagedorn
  • The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

And I can now communicate in very basic Spanish. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to travel and use it soon.

The biggest news is that I’ve totally completed one Alt. Grad School goal: Publish three freelance stories. All three were published in Iowa City alternative press magazine Little Village in 2017.

  • Profile of Jane Elliott, an anti-racism advocate famous for her Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes exercise she performed in her 3rd-grade classroom the day after Martin Luther King Jr. died. Jane is 85 and has lived in Iowa her whole life. I had the privilege of interviewing her in her home in Osage.
  • Profile of Bridget Fonseca, a 24-year-old who graduated from the University of Iowa and started an organic farm with her partner Jake Kundert.
  • Current affairs story about young women getting IUDs, a long-term birth control method, because of their fears about the changing healthcare system.

And one last goal I made headway on during these first two months… I’m training to run a 10K (6.2 mi) in 60 minutes or less. On Aug. 27, I completed my first 5-mile run and on Aug. 31, I was able to run 5 miles without taking any breaks to walk, which took about 55 minutes. This may not be a major feat for all runners, but it was big for me! I’ve been slowly increasing my running capacity over the last two years and it’s encouraging to see that, though very gradually, I was able to reach this point. I remember when two or three miles was a significant challenge. Reaching 6.2 miles in 60 minutes will require me to average faster than 10:00/mi, which will not be easy, but I’m confident I can get there by  June 1.

Alternative Grad School

On June 1, I started working on my personal version of Alternative Grad School, an idea borrowed from Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Non-Conformity. I was someone who really loved college because I was constantly learning new skills and information. Unfortunately, the world lacks structure for lifelong learners. While I am glad for the limitless opportunity I now have in lieu of arbitrary classes, required assignments, etc., structure helps me work, so I needed a framework in order to continue educating myself. I bought a new notebook and created a list of things I would like to learn, do, memorize, experience, and so on over the next year before June 1, 2018.

You can find Guillebeau’s list here.

My list is very similar with a few adjustments to make the program feasible for me while working full-time. I’ve also added a few of my own, completely original requirements.

  • Memorize every country, world capital, and leader of every country in the world

  • Travel to a new continent

  • Read the basic texts of the major world religions: the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, and the teachings of Buddha

  • Listen to a Spanish language-learning podcast 5X/week for a year and practice with Ethan

  • Loan money to an entrepreneur through Kiva.org 

  • Train to run a 10K in 60 minutes

  • Show Once Familiar in an Iowa City coffee shop or other public venues

  • Compile a graphic design portfolio by completing 15 Briefbox projects

  • Read 30 non-fiction books and 20 novels

  • Start a blog and post bi-weekly

  • Listen to Grammar Girl and read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

  • Read Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

  • Publish three freelance stories

  • Complete a photography series by 12/31/17 and another by 6/1/18

In my three weeks of Alternative Grad School, since June 1, I’ve focused on several requirements more than others. I tried tackling the biggest, most time-consuming requirements right away, the most daunting being reading 50 books in one year.

So far I read:

  • Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland
  • Tell Me If You’re Lying by Sarah Sweeney
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Utopia for Realists: The Case for Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman
  • Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America by Stephen G. Bloom

Books June 2017 copy.jpg

I also started learning about Buddhism by reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Meditation and Practice. It isn’t exactly a Buddhist “text” like my Alt Grad School goals outlined, but it’s a compilation of talks given by Shunryu Suzuki at the Zen Center in Los Altos, California.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
—Shunryu Suzuki

I also started learning Spanish via the podcast Coffee Break Spanish, which I discovered on Spotify but is also available on iTunes. I used it to refresh my German studies in the past. Once you get used to the teacher’s Scottish accent, it’s a really great podcast for picking up the basics of a language. So far I don’t know much (Me llama Carly. Vivo en Iowa en Los Estados Unidos.) but I’m getting there.

Goals in which I’ve been behind are my 10K run training (I was truly sick over the past few weeks, I swear), my photography projects, and graphic design. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some progress in those areas in July.

Wish me luck. Comment with any other important life skills you feel should be on one’s Alternative Grad School list.

 

Pinhole Project Update

I’m beginning my last photo project of undergrad and I’ve decided I’m going to build pinhole cameras out of mostly salvaged materials and make into a camera. Essentially, I am trying to explore what photography could look like after an apocalypse of some kind, like an environmental disaster where the latest Canon $3,000 DSLR could become useless.
screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-11-36-51-am

For reference I’ve mostly been using a book I bought used on Amazon, Pinhole Cameras: A DIY Guide by Chris Keeney, as my guide. I’ve also been reading Minimal Aperture Photography Using Pinhole Cameras by John Warren Oakes and Pinhole Photography From Historic Technique to Digital Application by Eric Renner, though these are more complicated.

Below is the first image I was able to create using a large peanut can and 5×7″ darkroom paper. I scanned the image and reversed the values in Photoshop.

scan

The best piece of advice I ran into was suggested by Keeney’s book: scanning pinholes to bring them into Photoshop and measure them. I used an online pinhole calculator to determine pinhole sizes for various containers. The focus on each of the cameras I’ve made so far has been far more sharp than I ever expected.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-6-57-38-pm

Here are a few images I took just this week. You can expect to see a lot more as I start cramming my project into my last few weeks of undergrad.

pinhole0001

pinhole0002

pinhole0003

31-Day Challenge

March 1: My photography professor, Jeff Rich, recommended I look at the work of California photographer Jeff Brouws. Vintage signs, square frames, stunning colors: what’s not to love?

Jeff Brouws.jpg

March 2: Stephen Shore is another photographer my professor recommended I look at because he felt his work is similar to what I’ve been trying to achieve in my Once Familiar project. Every time I tried to pick a favorite to share here on my blog, I flipped to the next image and loved it even more.

Stephen Shore 3.jpg

March 3: Brian Finke’s work is essentially a wide sociological representation of various groups: truckers, flight attendants, frat boys, etc. And his use of flash outdoors is flawless. Plus, he makes work for National Geographic, New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine—no big deal.

Brian Finke.jpg

March 4: Jennifer Greenburg inserts images of herself in found mid-20th century images to “hijack the memories.”

Jennifer Greenburg.jpg

March 5: British photographer Simon Roberts explored 200+ locations throughout Russia for his series Motherland.

Simon_Roberts-Motherland-20.jpg

March 6: The following image is from Paul Shambroom’s Meetings Series for which he took photos of official meetings in small towns.

paul-shambroom-meetings-missouri-urbana

March 7: Kyle Ford’s project Forever Wild is currently in progress. Click the image below to see some of the shots he’s created so far.

Kyle Ford.jpg

March 8: I adore all of Lacey Criswell’s quirky Minnesota images. She clearly is a genius at finding remarkable locations.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.23.28 PM.png

March 9: I’m always a fan of surreal photography though I don’t care to produce it myself.

New York City-based photographer Brooke Didonato is “influenced by the subconscious and its correlation to emotions and perceptions,” according to the bio on her site.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.35.56 PM

March 10: Martha Rosler explores the implied freedom of major American roadways in her series Rights of Passage (which includes much better quality images in book form).

martha rosler.jpg

March 11:  Many photographers probably know Alec Soth’s large format work, but I finally got my hands on a copy of Songbook. I’ll always be biased toward his book Sleeping by the Mississippi because I grew up on the Mississippi River in Iowa, but seeing his black and white work for Songbook was a new take.

Alec Soth Songbook.jpg

March 12: Stephanie Calabrese is largely an iPhone photographer who made this Georgia series featured by the New York Times. 

Stephanie C.jpg

 

March 13: EI just finished watching Manufactured Landscapes, a documentary of Edward Burtynsky photographing industry in China.

Edward Burtnksy

March 14: Tom Wood photographed bus rides in Liverpool over a period of 20 years for his series Bus Odyssey.

Tom Wood

March 15:  Antti Janjunen is a London-based photographer I ran across while looking for examples of exposures made on Velvia on Instagram today.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.34.32 PM.png

March 16: Margaret Morton made this documentary series about young people living in an abandoned glass factory in Manhattan.

Margaret Morton Glass House.jpg

March 17: If you love vintage signs, Zack Vitiello’s Instagram is for you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.47.35 PM.png

March 18: In Juan Fernandez’ series Façade, he removes all distracting elements in Photoshop to create an increased sense of tension in his architecture shots.

Juan Fernandez.jpg

March 19: German photographer Elmar Ludwig’s zany work caught my eye in a used book store in Chicago last weekend called Our True Intent is All for Your Delight. Unfortunately, he’s slightly difficult to track down on the internet and I regret not buying it!

Elmar Ludwig.jpg

March 20: John Hinde is an English photographer with a nostalgic feel, especially in postcard version.

John Hinde.jpg

 

March 21: Tamara Reynolds explored transient town Oak Grove, Kentucky for this Oxford American project.

Tamara Reynolds.jpg

March 22: Throwback to my angsty high school years when my all-time favorite photographer was Brooke Shaden. 

Brooke Shaden.jpg

March 23: Jennifer Bolande was commissioned to create billboards that matched their scenery. 

Jennifer Bolande.jpg

March 24: Drone + Photoshop = Aydin Büyüktas’s photo manipulations 

Buyuktas5.jpg

March 25: Homai Vyarawalla was a photojournalist at the time India became independent from the British Empire.

Homai Vyarawalla

March 26: Shelby Lee Adams is known as “Picture Man” among the locals he photographs in Kentucky.

Shelby Lee Adams.jpg

March 27: Lori Nix builds dioramas of imagined abandoned spaces for her project, The City.

Lori Nix.jpg

March 28: David Plowden tried to capture elements American heritage that are threatened to be erased by industry and progress.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 4.32.01 PM.png

March 29: It’s impossible not to love the work of street photographer Elliot Erwitt.

Elliot Erwitt.jpg

March 30: Recommended by Eirik Johnson, who is currently visiting the University of Iowa’s photography program, Robert Adams. How have I not heard of him before?! His photos are just my style.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 4.39.02 PM.png

March 31: The series Animal Logic by Richard Barnes had me laughing out loud all the way through.

Richard Barnes.jpg

 

Just for fun shoot

I so rarely go out to shoot for myself. It’s a good thing Ethan’s there to make me get out there and create images just for fun. I’m always glad I did.

Graveyard 2
Mamiya 645 1000s, Kodak Ektar 100

 

Graveyard 3
Mamiya 645 1000s, Kodak Ektar 100

 

 

Graveyard 8
Mamiya 645 1000s, Kodak Ektar 100

 

Graveyard 10
Mamiya 645 1000s, Kodak Ektar 100

 

Medium format comparison

Take a guess: Which of the following images is medium format digital and which is film?

Graveyard digital mamiya

 

mediumformatbattle

I took the opportunity to borrow the University of Iowa’s Mamiya 645 camera with a digital back out to shoot and compare with my own Mamiya 645 1000s, which uses film.

Both cameras absolutely have their advantages and disadvantages. The digital is bulky, creates enormous files (which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage), and would cost thousands of dollars (probably $20,000+) if I were to buy it myself. Obviously, as a soon-to-be college graduate with a liberal arts degree, this isn’t feasible for me and likely never will be.

At the same time, I could see my images instantly on the back of the camera, never had to deal with film, and had great results.

I’ll keep this post short because I’m not going to debate which image is the winner. The compositions of these two images are of course not equal (I think the top image’s composition is much better) but it’s fascinating to finally observe them side by side.

Answer:

Top image: Mamiya 645 with digital back

Bottom image: Mamiya 645 1000s, Kodak Portra 400 film