Free Consultations to Start Your New Side Hustle

About seven years ago (in 2014) I started this travel blog:

At the time, I was living in the UK and continuing my education in law — a field that I was trying to force myself to enjoy.

But that just wasn’t working.

No matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t love working as an attorney. It wasn’t in my DNA.

Sure, there were some nice moments. Some pretty fascinating cases, a few thrilling victories, etc.

But that wasn’t enough to sustain my happiness.

Virtually everyday, I would spend time thinking about alternative careers. I just couldn’t accept spending years doing something I didn’t truly enjoy 100%.

Deep down, I knew I wanted to do something with travel but I just wasn’t sure exactly what.

And more importantly, I had no idea how to even get started.

I had already tried to start two blogs and failed and I had zero direction from anybody.

But something would not let me give up on the dream and thankfully, after years of experimenting and some serious ups and down, I finally found success with travel blogging.

I ended up giving up my career as an attorney after only a five years and went full-time blogging, and it absolutely changed my life. Sure, my life is not perfect but it is exponentially more enjoyable now that I have the freedom to be my own boss and create my own schedule.

Last minute trip to Mexico? No problem.

Want to go to Yosemite National Park this weekend? Let’s do it.

And now, I’ve ventured into other areas like developing apps and performing consulting for start ups and individuals trying to accomplish the same goal I once had of switching their careers and building something amazing.

If you’d like to get started with changing your career, I offer free 20 minute consultations that can get you started on your dream. Not with pie in the sky ideas but real actionable advice.

If it’s truly important to you, I can also help you on a monthly basis and walk you through your transition every step of the way.

Whether it’s building a new blog or website, a new app, or even a brick and mortar shop, I’ve got experience in all of these areas. I can help you through the planning and idea stage, through the financing/business plan, stage and even with things like design, logos, etc.

Unlike some consultants who only focus on strategy, I can also help you recruit and hire talent like writers, designers, etc.

While I can help just about everybody, current professionals are who I tend to help the most because we can really see eye to eye since I was once in their shoes.

If you’re ready to take the next step to a new career, schedule a time to chat now!

Coming Out in Homophobic Countries

One of the first things I learned after I came out was that coming out is a constant process. You are continuously deciding whom to come out to and when.

Whether it is a new job, new neighborhood, or a fellow fan sitting next to you at a ballgame, you are constantly choosing whether or not the situation warrants you revealing that side of yourself at any particular time.

For someone like myself who some describe as a “straight acting” gay person (yes, I hate that term) 99% of people that I meet assume that I am straight.

I can’t tell you how many people genuinely have thought that I was joking when I first hinted that I was gay.

In fact, there is even a moment where I can just see the gears turning in their head as they realize I am not the heterosexual they initially thought they were talking to.

So when I am checking in to a hotel and I reference my spouse, I almost always get asked things like, “When will she be arriving?”

I always make it a point to correct them and explain that the “she” is a “he.” 

I don’t correct the hotel staff on pronouns because I’m offended or want to be a jerk, I do it because I believe that some people need simple reminders that anybody they are dealing with could be gay.

When traveling domestically I rarely think twice about coming out.

But when going abroad, coming out requires a little bit more contemplation, especially when traveling to destinations in countries where homosexuality is illegal and subject to criminal punishment.

And that can make things interesting.

A situation that I often run into is having a nice conversation with someone who assumes I am straight and essentially being forced to come out as the convo gravitates toward hooking up with women.

And as you might imagine this gets tricky in locations not known for being friendly to gay people.

When staying at the Hyatt Ziva in Jamaica (a country Time magazine once labeled “the most homophobic place on Earth”) there was a waiter who insisted that we (Brad and I) go over to a table of girls to hit on them.

Initially, I didn’t care to come out to him.

He had a thick Jamaican accent and was a little hard to decipher but we were having a good “bro-to-bro” conversation, chatting about things like the different hotspots in Jamaica and debating the merits of jerk chicken.

As our conversation went on, I could sense that revealing my sexual orientation to this fellow was going to catch him off guard.

I did not want to ruin the vibe, so I tried to steer the conversation away from the girls. 

But after he returned to our table several times and would not let up about playing matchmaker with these girls, I decided that it was time to let him know that Brad and I were a (recently) married couple.

Once I dropped the news, it was as if time stopped for a second and right on cue that bamboozled look I am so familiar with was all over his face.

The conversation sputtered for a few seconds and eventually returned close to the lively level it was before — but it wasn’t quite the same after that.

The table visits were shorter, the eye contact was fleeting, and there was no enthusiastic “come back and see me tomorrow!”


Sometimes, even when you are not pressured into coming out and things appear to be going smoothly, the feeling that you are behind enemy lines does not completely dissipate.

On our trip to the Conrad Maldives last year, I was very curious as to how Brad and I would be treated.

The Penal Code of the Maldives adopts Islamic Shariah Law to punish homosexual acts through prison sentences, fines, and even lashings.

So understandably, someone in our shoes could be a little reluctant to visit.

But from the moment we stepped foot on the resort, the staff was extremely warm and welcoming and we felt right at home.

In fact, when we had lunch at the underwater restaurant, there was another gay couple dining under the sea as well.

Even though I never got bad vibes from the staff, paranoia still found a way to creep inside my head during our stay.

The first night there, Brad and I sat relaxing in the hot tub located in the back of our secluded overwater villa.

The night sky was filled with stars and all you could hear were the bubbling whirlpool jets and soothing ocean waves below.

It was the definition of a perfect travel moment.

That is, until Brad looked like he saw a ghost.

I turned around to see what he was looking at and there was a man rummaging inside our villa!

My mind immediately went to paranoia mode.

Was he some sort of anti-gay government spy?

Was this a man who was going to report us to the government for “homosexual activity?”

Was shit about to go down?

Turns out that we forgot that we had put in an order to get the TV fixed earlier that morning and it was a repair man from the resort working on the TV.


Worrying about coming out when traveling in countries that have homosexuality criminalized in the books can mean added stress.

But other times a nice surprise awaits you on the other side of that stress.

In 2018, Brad and I were able to fly the new Singapore Airlines suites on our anniversary, February 22.

For those that don’t know, Singapore is another country that has stiff rules on homosexuality. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal (even if consensual and committed in private).

Knowing this, I still contacted the airlines beforehand to see if they could do anything special for our anniversary.

In the emails, I was purposely a bit vague about the gender of my partner, even though they would clearly see that he was a man when looking at the itinerary.

I was vague because I wasn’t sure how acceptable it would be to make a request like that, especially since Singapore Airlines is owned by the Singapore government.

I didn’t want to ruffle feathers (or worse, put us at risk of some sort of adverse outcome) but I also did not want to let our anniversary go unacknowledged on such an amazing flight. 

Singapore Airlines responded amazingly.

They brought us out a cake and even gave us two teddy bears with our names hand stitched onto the bears (which they stitched on during the flight).

I noticed that there was a “boy” and “girl” version of the bears (my name was stitched onto the girl).

While that might be such an insignificant detail to some, my mind immediately drew up a scenario.

I imagined a staff meeting where a table of executives discussed how to handle “teddy bear distribution” for homosexual anniversaries in their first class suites.

One side of the table was vehemently opposed to the idea of recognizing them and the other side of the table wanted to be as progressive as possible.

The compromise born out of this would be that traditional male and female bears would be used for gay anniversaries.

As this ridiculous scenario played through my head, a flight attendant placed a huge card next to the bears.

Once again, I saw another symbol of a traditional male and female couple, located on the right side of the card.

I took a closer look at the huge card.

It was covered in signatures and little scribbled messages from a lot of crew members.

And then I noticed a little image of two little bears sketched near the bottom.

These were clearly two “boy” bears.

Another scenario popped into my head.

I thought about a flight attendant sitting there trying to think of something to write on this card and them thinking about how offering traditional male and female symbols to a gay couple could dampen an anniversary celebration.

I pictured this person going out of their way to sketch this little picture just to show that: hey we might not have the perfect system in place for recognizing your same-sex relationship via stuffed teddy bears, but I am going to go out of my way to show you that your relationship is just as special to us as anyone else’s.

It felt like progress and it was the perfect touch to our anniversary.


Pursuing romantic experiences in places like these as a gay couple is admittedly asking for somewhat of a bumpy ride.

But, in my experience, there is little to worry about at many of these places if you use common sense, and some destinations might even surprise you with how welcoming they will be.

I’m not saying to let your guard completely down, since these draconian laws are still alive in the books and outside of resort areas, things can get very real.

But the world is changing quickly, and I think there are more reasons to be excited than afraid for gay people who want to enjoy romantic experiences abroad.

And I also believe that by showing up to these locations and interacting with locals, you help to breakdown stereotypes and erode prejudice. It might be a small impact but it is an impact nonetheless.

My Darkest Travel Hour: Flat 7

This is the story of my darkest travel hour.

I’ve always wanted to share this story because there is so much to be learned from the experience but it has taken me several years to feel comfortable with opening up about this series of unfortunate events.

Mostly because it just makes me look like an idiot but also it was just a painful experience to re-live.

But with the hopes others can learn from my mistakes, here goes….


In August 2014, Brad and I were moving to the UK where I was set to earn a master’s degree in law over the next 12 months.

Moving abroad had been a dream we’d constantly talked about for over a year but things just always seemed to fall through and I don’t think anybody — friends or family — really took us seriously each time we brought up this aspirational move. 

But this time, we were for real.

In the months leading up to the move, I’d been working insane hours at a legal internship, trying to prepare for the move and any travels that would go along with it.

To help me power through the long days at the law firm, I set my phone’s screensaver to a brilliant photo of Big Ben lighting up the London sky at night.

Throughout each day, I’d look at that photo for a little travel inspiration. And surprisingly, it really did help, as I looked forward to the dream of soon living across the pond.

But all these long hours led to us taking care of some things for the move last minute.  

For example, (with the help of family) we secured Brad’s dependent travel visa on August 15th – less than two weeks before our departure date and we still didn’t have housing in London.

For such a big move, we were cutting things extremely close.

But once we got Brad’s travel visa, we said our goodbyes to our families and were ready to head out to Europe and begin this exciting new chapter of our lives.

Departure day, August 27, 2014.

Instead of flying directly to the United Kingdom, we decided to make a stopover in Iceland along the way for a few days. Iceland seemed like such a fascinating destination and we really wanted to see the national parks and hopefully the northern lights.

Unfortunately, the trip was pretty much an unmitigated disaster.

We did see the northern lights on our way flying into the country but after that little surprise light show everything pretty much just went downhill.

Within 12 hours of arriving in Iceland I came down with the worst virus I’ve ever had.

The symptoms were rough: nonstop dry heaving, the chills, delirium, inability to stomach any food or liquids — and then don’t forget to throw in a large dose of jet lag.

I remember waking up several times throughout the week and not having any recollection of where I was or how I got there.

We called it “Viking Flu” and it was just a very bad time.

To make matters worse the weather was insanely crappy and intense.

In fact, a dying hurricane was blowing through Iceland the same time that earthquakes were rattling the country and a volcano was erupting and we were caught right in the middle.

So I feel like I’m dying, it looks like the apocalypse outside, and then to make matters worse —  Brad then came down with the Viking flu…

Knowing first-hand what could be in store for Brad, I decided to drive to a nearby pharmacy to find some medicine.

I darted outside in the cold rain to find the rental car.

It was my first time driving in Iceland but I’m a pretty good driver and wasn’t worried. I started the car, blasted the heat on high, pulled out the parking lot, and right after turning down a street – boom!

My first 30 seconds ever driving outside the US and I’d been in a car accident.

The next thing I knew, I was in the back seat of a police car and praying that whatever the police were saying in their native Icelandic tongue was in my favor.

Turns out it was an underage girl driving without a license that hit me and I’d be off the hook.

But as you could probably tell, I could not wait to get out of the country and onward to the UK where we could finally escape the chaos and settle down into our new place in London.

Car accident in Iceland, September 2, 2014.


When we left Iceland, we still didn’t know where we were going to live in the UK but that wasn’t really an issue.

During my law school years, I moved around a lot. There were several occasions where I would show up to Berkeley, California and within 12 to 24 hours I would be relaxing on a couch in a fully furnished apartment sipping Napa Valley’s finest merlot.

Ok, so more like sipping a Four Loko but the point being: moving to a new country without having a designated place to live just wasn’t a big deal to me.

So we arrived in the UK and decided to get a hotel room in London while we tried to find a place.

Arriving in London (LHR), September 3, 2014.

We were still feeling pretty bad from being sick so the first few days were extremely unproductive when it came to apartment hunting.

In fact, I remember barely even leaving the hotel room, which by the way was just a little 3-star hotel with rooms that one reviewer aptly described as “dingy and small and looked somewhat dirty.”

But after a few days, we started to spend a lot of time searching for housing options online.

With so many different neighborhoods in London the searching was a little difficult but we were able to narrow down our preference to Islington – a trendy borough in Central London known for its creative scene.

We’d found several listings and followed up on them but when we called about them, they were either already taken or we ran into a catch 22.

The landlords wanted us to have a bank account, but the banks stated we needed to have an address to have a bank account.

The hotel bills were starting to seriously rack up and our limited cash was getting burned up every day.  

Luckily, Brad had a high school friend who was in a military family stationed in the UK, about an hour outside London. She was a veteran and with her husband they had two little kids.

We realized that it would probably be a good idea to connect with them and continue our apartment hunt from their residence.

They were great and very gracious to take us in. Brad and I even tossed around the idea of living there.

But, I knew it would never work.

Their place was a good hour outside London and moving into a house with a family I’d never met just seemed intrusive and like we’d be giving up all our privacy.

I also really liked silence and little kids are obviously not the quietest roomies.

So while I was happy we connected, I knew we still needed to find another place for us to live.   

Eventually, we found an option in Islington on Popham Street.

I loved the location. It was in one of the neighborhoods I wanted to live in and the prices were pretty reasonable. But the biggest draw was that it was not going to require us to have a bank account. Instead, they would accept a cash transaction.

Finally, a way around this catch 22.

Brad and I went down and visited the unit with the landlord, Mustafa. He was a skinny guy who didn’t smile much but seemed like he had a good grasp of the real estate market and local area. 

During the visit, he showed us how the gates work, gave us a tour of the unit, and went through some of the paperwork and income verification process.

We then said we’d think about it and let them know but it didn’t take long. Within a day or so we decided it was the right fit and arranged a meeting so I could sign the contract and put down our payment. 

So the next morning, I packed a large zip-lock bag full with $5,000 worth of purple £20 notes and stuffed it in my backpack.

It looked like I was set for the ultimate drug deal and it sort of felt that way.    

So later on, I met up with Mustafa at a Costa Coffee shop, one of the coffee shops I saw myself frequenting in the future. 

Waiting for Mustafa on September 9, 2014.

We went over several pamphlets, reviewed the lease terms and my income verification, and he answered all my questions while making a little small talk.

Mustafa asked me what I did and I told him, “law.”

His eyes perked up a little bit and he asked, “What kind of law?”

I told him I dealt with things like fraud and white-collar crime and then he sort of just nodded away.

After about 15 or 20 minutes the contract was signed and he gave me our keys.

Then, I casually unzipped my backpack, pulled the heavy zip lock bag full of £20 notes out of my backpack and pushed it across the table.

I then stood up, thanked Mustafa for his time, and reached out for a handshake at which point Mustafa offered me his rubbery hand.


Two days later, September 11, 2014, was move-in day.

I was ecstatic to finally have a place to call home!

I’d already mapped out my train routes to school, found a local gym, and a few other local coffee shops where I envisioned myself working for hours on end like a true Londoner.

Brad and I packed our heavy suitcases and hopped on a train that afternoon and then made our way into Central London to the “Angel” Tube Station.

After hauling our heavy luggage through the bumpy sidewalks and streets we made our way to our new apartment.

Our keys got us through the gate and then we went up the stairs to our unit with anticipation. I put in the key, turned it, and the door swung open.

To my amazement, I saw a fully furnished apartment. Except that it was a little bit “too furnished.”

That is to say that the prior tenants had still not moved out!

They were still in the process of packing up and had left clothes all over the place as well as a MacBook and passports — even the fridge was still full.

It really bothered me when people botched these things.

I pulled out my cell phone to call the landlord but my throw-a-way UK cell phone didn’t have good reception and I couldn’t get through.

This was very frustrating and we decided to get a bite to eat and then come back. Perhaps the tenants would be back then.   

When we came back, we unlocked the door but then found it was now dead-bolted and we could no longer open the door….

A startled woman then popped her head out the door.

Who the heck was this lady? Was she the tenant taking her sweet time to move out?

After a little exchange, we learned she was the cleaner.


Again, I was frustrated by the poor management but now at least I understood what was happening.

The cleaner thought the old tenants would already be moved out and she was trying to get the apartment ready for us.

But some things still didn’t line up.  

This cleaner didn’t know of Mustafa and she looked confused, even a bit worried. An unnamed landlord was now heading over to the unit in a hurry. My phone calls to Mustafa were still not going through.

Then a young, innocent-looking and soft-spoken blonde girl showed up to the apartment.

Just like us, she had a few bags on her.

And just like us, she was trying to move in.

Intrigued by this coincidence, I asked what unit she was moving into and she said, “Flat 7”

“Flat 7?” I thought, as a pit in my stomach grew.

I then looked up slowly to the room number posted on our second-floor apartment door: “Flat 7.” 

And that’s when it clicked.

Those weren’t the belongings to the prior tenants inside the apartment – they were the belongings to other people who had just moved in and hadn’t finished unpacking.

My phone calls weren’t failing because my service was shoddy – they weren’t going through because Mustafa had deactivated his phone.  

Mustafa wasn’t the landlord and that wasn’t his real name. He was a professional con-artist who had rented this unit out from the real landlord, appropriated their contracts and literature, made duplicate keys, and then “rented” it out to unsuspecting victims.   

This had all been an elaborate scam, and now I really wanted to hurt this Mustafa guy.   

Some drama ensued after this that involved the owner of the units arriving to the scene, his TV missing, him lying to the police, and me shouting and banging on a door threatening to see the “coward landlord” in court and then getting offered hot tea by a sweet, elderly neighbor. 

Those details, while funny and full of many additional layers of drama, are largely irrelevant but what I recall the most is sitting outside of the apartment as the police were wrapping things up.

The sun was setting and the crisp September air was getting chillier with every breeze.  

My gaze was frozen on our five luggage bags lined up along the curb and all I could think about was how I would do anything to rewind the last 48 hours and do everything different.


Getting scammed for $5,000 dollars now would still feel very bad. Heck, getting scammed for $5 would not feel good.

But getting scammed for your hard-earned $5,000 when you don’t have much money and you are trying to establish yourself in a country after a week-long disaster of a trip avoiding hurricanes and volcanoes is an altogether different beast.

I felt defeated. Mentally, physically, spiritually — you get the drift. 

Brad voiced that maybe we should just say screw it and fly back to the US.

I insisted to him we should stick it out but on the inside I agreed with him 100%. Our trip to that point had been nothing short of a disaster. We were already in way over our heads and we still had 12 months to go (but now with a lot less money).

But throwing in the towel seemed like the wrong move.

I looked at my phone’s screen saver and thought about all those early mornings and late evenings at the firm when just the sight of Big Ben motivated me to keep pushing. 

I thought about the countless hours I spent imagining the sights we’d explore, the food we’d try, the people we’d meet, the photos we’d take, and the unforgettable memories we’d make.

I realized giving up on this would mean giving up on a dream – something that just wasn’t in my DNA.

Plus, if we stayed, maybe one day I’d spot Mustafa on a London street corner, chase him down, pimp slap the ever livin’ out of him, and hurl his skinny ass right into the murky brown River Thames.  

It was tempting to call it quits but I’m beyond grateful that we didn’t as our luck was going to soon turn around.

First, Brad’s parents were able to bail us out and get us back on our feet while we waited for my financial aid to arrive.

This gave us security when we needed it most.   

But we still faced some major issues.

Our travel funds had vanished. We still did not have a bank account. We still did not have an address. And school was going to start very soon.

But remember the military family?

We had the option to move to Banbury with them and arranged a situation where Brad could lend a helping hand with the kids and in exchange we’d be able to avoid the high rent in London.

This would allow us to save over $15,000 on rent over the next year.

But this would also mean facing a few challenges.

The first was living in a house with a family.

I’d already felt like it would be difficult to give up our privacy, but this ended up not being a major issue since we were up on the third floor and while we did give up some privacy, we forged new friendships and it worked out way better than I ever expected.

Another challenge involved distance.

Living in Banbury would mean I’d need to commute into London for school, which would add up in time and costs. But this challenge led me to engineer my class schedule to where I only went to campus one day out of the week.

Yes, it meant one long hellish day a week. But with the savings and the flexible class schedule, our travels opened up, allowing us to explore places like Paris, Amsterdam, Portugal, and Spain – not to mention many weekends venturing into London.  

The extra time and savings also allowed me to fulfill another dream: writing and publishing my first travel book, Hidden Gems of the Western US (and not to mention starting this blog a month later).

So we not only miraculously ended up in a better position financially, but we had more opportunities to do what we loved: travel the world and create tons of valuable content.  

It had been a wild couple of weeks and I’d learned some seriously painful lessons while being on the brink of giving up on something I’d dreamed about for a long time. 

But at the end of all the chaos — the Viking flu, hurricanes, volcanoes, and one God-awful scam — we were still standing and our world travels had just began.

Stonehenge visit, September 21, 2014.