How to Travel Like Vivian Maier

A few weeks ago I sped after work to the Landmark theater to see a movie that I had been really excited about seeing. I was getting coffee when I noticed a small poster advertising the Vivian Maier documentary as a limited screening with a Q+A with the filmmakers. I'm always a sucker for those, since I usually have questions after I watch a doc. 
I raised my hand, and Jeff Garlin, the producer of Finding Vivian Maier, pointed to me saying, "You with the hair!" 

My question was this: "How did Vivian afford to travel so much?" 

The answer of course, was painfully simple. She simply saved her money and got outa town. Being sponsored to go places is great, and I certainly don't complain when asked to travel for a job, but there's something tremendously romantic in the pleasure of doing it for oneself.

The woman went everywhere. She went to India, Puerto Rico, Canada, Yemen, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, all throughout Europe and America as well as countless other places. The woman knew how to be on the road, and she did it alone, shooting anything that grabbed her eye. I have been a traveler my entire life, and try to get out a few times a year. It helps me balance my addiction to beauty.


Last year, I didn't leave Los Angeles a single time, completely losing track of the "portable" Sera, and missing an aspect of myself that I have always viewed as paramount. This year I promised myself that things would be different- that I would set intentions to travel, for both work and pleasure. So far this has worked out very well. I even have trips already planned for 2015. 

So here it is. My frugal life.  My version of frugality is probably very different than others, because in no way does it mean I will refuse going out for a drink, or picking up a beautiful something at the flea market, or turn down a brunch if these are things I want to do. It simply means that before I go for a drink, or to the flea, or to brunch, I'll first ask myself, "what do you want, what do you need," in context to the present VS. the future. Disallowance usually leads to resentment, and I would much rather continue to live my life in full, giving myself enough to feel continuously pleased, but not so much resulting in boredom or ambivalence. I never want to forget the luxury of small beautiful acts of self-generosity. Being kind to myself reminds me what others might feel when they receive kindness. Sometimes it's the kindest thing to say "maybe later" to something that isn't going to serve me. It's not always about yes. Sometimes it is. The idea is to be self-referral and real. When I see something that I feel like buying, I have to weigh it against a plane ticket. This has made me smarter in spending, and lets me realize how goals actually help shape life, who I am, and how I fit into that big bad beautiful thing we live on.