The Last-minute trip that Saved my Life! (Part I)

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Last Updated on January 6, 2013 by Christine Kaaloa

Sometimes, your own Buddha is hard to
Sometimes, finding your Buddha is hard work


Like life, booking travel abroad generally involves a fair bit of planning.

Or so I thought…

Last year, people asked me if I had a travel plans. What a ridiculous question,  of course I had plans!

…. I just didn’t know what they were, where I wanted to go,  how I’d be able to swing it on my inconsistent freelance schedule or how I’d afford it when I hadn’t earned much of an income this year.

If you live  in Hawaii, travel is expensive.

The cost of flights from Hawaii to the mainland U.S., average anywhere from $400- $1,500, depending on season. Travel internationally during winter, and you’re in for a shock. Travel to Australia prices climb from $1,100- $3,000. Go eastbound to Asia/Southeast Asia and costs ease up, ranging from $700 – $1900. Oddly, Europe, SouthAmerica and Africa tend to hit a  medium of $980- $2,300, even though they’re on the opposite end of the globe. ( Keep in mind, with winter travel I’m going from warm weather to cold.)

Thus in Hawaii, international travel feels like a sizable investment. It’s an “event” you’d ordinarily save for, take your time researching and planning.

It’s hardly something you’d want to have to wing at the last minute.


But when life doesn’t send you ideal opportunities, you must create them for yourself…

OPPORTUNITY, luck, ambition, grrr

I was in desperate need of a travel break for some time. My startover life wasn’t easy.

Work dribbled in… unpredictably. The challenges of finding work in acting and of a reviving a freelance career, in a place that wasn’t matched with my actual industry, was turning me jaded. It was hard getting a foot in the door; hard for others to take the chance on someone new (…and yeah, maybe being a girl unconsciously works against me).  Shape-shifting to a new  industry, required big skill alterations on my part. Opportunities were limited;  not as sexy as New York or Los Angeles.

I wasn’t  sure if investing in the struggle and frustration of re-starting a career in Honolulu would reap worthwhile results.

I’d have to fall backwards, before moving forwards and the road looked longer than I hoped.

Could I build a career as an actress,  eventually reclaim my old job as a cameraman, earn a solid income as I did in New York, have a fabulous travel life, and work on fun projects that furthered my career? ( Yeah, I wanted it all. That’s how I am)

To be honest, all of it felt unlikely.  This weighed on me like bricks. So I’d  bury my head down, pushing myself harder to find a solution…

“Don’t stop until you’ve exhausted all resources, ” was a silent mantra.

“Because only after you’ve tried everything your imagination is capable of,  can you give up on this place,  if things don’t work out.”

Then the darkness entered…

By my sixth month, my smile was worn thin. When you don’t see many ways for you to move, you feel handicapped. Suffocated. I panicked, felt self-combustive. I was unable to do any of the  fun stuff that I loved. It was all getting to me.

This is where the pain entered.

I enjoy acting but my old career was my long-standing breadwinner. I was a woman working a man’s adventure and everything I did, places I went and skills I used,  mimicked the things I love most about travel.  I was on the field, moving, meeting people in colorful situations and  operating my camera. I was exploring and telling stories through my lens.

For a physical and social person like myself, 10 hours of running around chasing people with a camera, didn’t feel like work at all.

It was travel.

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Filming with Jay-Z for BET in New York City, of course.foodnetkitchens The kitchens of The Food Network where they test out their ideas: Guess which is my camera? 

26 GVH-1’s hidden camera show, Motormouth: Doing stealth squats waiting to surprise  Location: New Jerseyn622891751 761888 3237  MTV’s My Super Sweet 16: The 16th birthday party was a Vegas casino theme.     Location: Montreal or North Carolina

DBTV ToddJosh   Valentine’s Day w/ Todd Oldham: One man shoot. I am the only camera shooting the show.


This is a short flashback and one with crappy pictures but in a nutshell, this is where I left off in my old life.

When I initially left my career to move to Korea, it was because I was searching for a ‘travel life’ more fabulous than this.

And I eventually found it in solo and expat life.

Now I was trying to recreate my travel life in Hawaii.

Good luck.


Life is too short to be lived unfulfilled; sometimes, you need to know when to walk away.

Mental and emotional health in my life and work is very important to me.

The moment I turn in on myself in frustrated rage or self-hate, for things beyond my control, its time to Stop!  This push for career revival, was giving me more pain than joy.

I needed to feel movement, acceleration, to feel powerful, commanding, passionate again. My environment was making me feel the opposite.

I denied myself of a travel break for some time. Now, I needed it.

I needed to feel me.

When I finally found a hole in my schedule, I pounced on it before it could seal up.  I catapulted  onto the internet search engine with rocket fast instinct, fearful that if I wasn’t quick, the air-tight vault would close up again, locking me in with my death.


 Find me the cheapest ticket to somewhere far from here…

Korea was the cheapest ticket at $580 (RT).   I could visit friends, do errands and I was longing to return.  It was ideal.

Through the gods of the Kayak search engine, the flight I found also afforded me two layovers in Japan; one of which, I extended into an 8 day trip.

Starved for travel, two countries wasn’t enough. I wanted a third country on my plate.

My requirements were: A cheap ticket to somewhere neighboring…. A place I hadn’t been before and one that didn’t require waiting on a visa.  

Perhaps a place like….

$428…  Hong Kong (and while I’m there, I could visit Macau too).

(Tickets weren’t as cheap as I knew it could be, but three RT flights at $1008 didn’t sound bad.)

There was one slight drawback to my lightning perfect plan, however… my departure date was in two days!


I booked a trip to four countries. I had two days to prepare for it.

Was I nuts?!

Correction:  I created an opportunity and as imperfect as it was, I was going to take it.

Life was  calling to me the way it did before (My GrrrlTraveler Challenge #2). There was a larger world outside my tiny bubble of life and it was telling me to leave behind this weakness and frustration. It wanted me to rise.

There was another person I would become.

And that person would have the answers…


What was your craziest breakaway move or trip?

Next:   Surviving a last-minute trip: Things I did well and things I didn’t  (Pt 2) (Pt 3)

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  • How exciting! I’m becoming more and more tempted to travel that way–just see what the flight deals are (the Kayak tool, “Explore,” tells you where you can go and for how much) and buy a ticket! Good for you, Christine! 🙂

  • twitter_SoloFriendly
    January 9, 2013 4:49 pm

    Wow, I’m such a planner, I can’t even imagine doing this. In fact, I’m freaking a little about not being prepared for my trip to Texas, which 1.5 weeks away. Heading to 3 countries in 2 days with no preparation? I’d be a nervous wreck. But I’m so glad you had the opportunity to travel again!

    • @SoloFriendly: Gray, I’m glad I took that opportunity but I’m totally there with you also… I’m more comfortable with planning, as well. But I was very frustrated with my life; it felt a matter of life or death.. and death was not an option. 😉 Because you’ll be able to plan your Texas trip, it’ll be amazing and you’ll not stress the way I did!

  • Ain’t that the truth about traveling outside of Hawai’i as an “event”. I hate that we have to pay SO much more for everything…EVERYTHING. I hate when people say, “I wanna spend $50 per week on groceries”. I look at them and say, “I WISH I could just spend $50 for three days of groceries.” LOL Hawai’i problems.

    I think you have the coolest job! I LOVE Underage and Engaged. One of my secret pleasures on TV. It must be harder to film reality than a normal set show, uh? I imagine you have to run around and try to keep out of other camera person’s shot.

    • @Jen: Yeah, we don’t have it cheap. Let’s not even go there w/ the cost of gas. You know how it is…

      Thx I HAD one of the coolest jobs. =) ha ha. ha ha… In reality everything happens on the fly. You have to anticipate the action and when the shit might hit the fan. Like shooting news, it’s unpredictable but you learn how to dance around other crew, as well as listen to what’s actually being said, so you can come back w/ questions to keep the action rolling. I know, your secret pleasure is revealed in your blog posts. Have to see the next one that’s up!

  • “But when life doesn’t send you ideal opportunities, you must create them for yourself…” ~ Amen!

  • We were in SF plan to go to australia on nov 10, but I couldn’t get the automatic visa, we had to be in vietnam on jan 2, so we looked for a cheap flight, ended up in phillipines, then singapore, then overland through malaysia, thailand, then vietnam and cambodia, no advance reservations over xmas and newyear. It was great

    • @Debbie Ann: I love when last minute turn of events turns out to surpass the adventure of your original plan! But the no reservation part for xmas and new years would scare me. Bravo!

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