Gifts That Do Good

Tired of getting your family members gifts that just pile up? Want to buy a gift that helps someone or something but don’t want to make an outright donation? Here are five ideas to get you started!

  1. The Ocean Cleanup develops technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Recently their system that I like to call the mega-skimmer has successfully started catching plastic, from huge pieces to microplastics! My brother, who claims he only cares about the oceans and not the environment, will be getting a sweatshirt from their teemill store to support continuing efforts!
  2. LifeStraw, and their 501 c3 Safe Water Fund, do a lot of good for the world. Using a reusable water bottle is great for the environment. Drinking filtered water is great for my taste buds. Buy your friends, relatives, and yourself a 22 oz bottle here. Not only do you get five years of safe drinking water, but LifeStraw products all come with a one purchase, one child, one year of clean drinking water! Bottle:
  3. Pajamas are great. Jammies made by women in India working to remain free from sex slavery is even better. I’m getting this anju robe for my mom:
  4. When you buy a hat from Love Your Melon, you are also buying a hat for a kid with cancer AND donating towards charities that work towards ending pediatric cancer.
  5. Over 400 babies were born today with HIV, and the same thing will happen tomorrow. Project (RED) has been working for years to eliminate the threat caused by HIV and AIDS. Shop from the wide range of products that support their cause here:

Burnout journey: Road to Recovery

I WOULD describe myself as being at a stand still. Right now, I recognize what is wrong, I am taking steps to fix it, but I know that the timeline won’t let me recover fully right now. At least I know that what I am experiencing is a bad case of burnout. Here is my burnout timeline and the actions I am making to recover:

APRIL 2019: After three months of therapy, I accepted I was experiencing a bad case of burnout. It was an emotional realization! I like my boss. I like parts of my work. But this had been my experience for at least six months.

JUNE 2019: Took a full week off work. This was not easy. I am a type A control freak and I am alright with this. There are things I do for my job that I am very attached to, and letting go for a week was a good exercise for me. Also I got to travel to Washington DC and visit a bunch of museums. Fun trip, good experience, made me feel better about my burnout brain for exactly one week after.

JULY 2019: Started intense research on other jobs. I turned 29 and decided to give myself one year to make some major changes. I did have the startling realization that permanent true recover could not happen in my hometown. I need to change the scenery I live in for a significant amount of time.

AUGUST 2019: Breakdown. Nothing feels like it’s making me happy. All the research into other jobs is making me stressed out, not making me feel like there a way to move forward excited about life. Finally, it dawns on me: there is no job that will make me feel fulfilled. To feel this way again, I am going to have to take time off and let my brain heel. But I know how to do this! Travel! I turn my year of making changes into my year of preparing to travel long-term in SouthEast Asia! Finally, I start to feel excited about waking up again.

SEPTEMBER 2019: Create this blog. Writing is nice! I give myself the task of recording my journey and not worrying about using this space for anything other than creative expression at the moment. I also make some major steps forward in preparing for my trip:
I am 37% of the way to having no non-student loan debt!
I made appointments to start the vaccination process!
I started selling some of my things on eBay!

OCTOBER 2019: one week of scheduled do-nothing time off. Eight days of not having to wake up to an alarm! No scheduled travel time! I am going to do nothing that requires me to make money for one week. I am so excited.

I am happy with where my journey is taking me and I am looking forward to charting my progress moving forward.

5 Easy Tips for Traveling Ethically

Traveling ethically is not complicated. All it takes is common sense, and twenty minutes of research online!

TIP ONE: Spread your money out and avoid corporate chains!

It can be hard when traveling to completely avoid spending your money at chains. The Holiday Inn! It’s right there, and we know it’s clean! McDonalds is just so convenient! But staying and eating at places like that doesn’t benefit the community in which you’re traveling. Do some research before booking. Look for bed and breakfasts, locally owned hotels and hostels, or Airbnb and VRBOs. Booking your stay through places like that will do more to benefit real communities.

When eating out or buying souvenirs, try to spend your money around. Don’t eat at the same place twice and avoid chain restaurants. At markets, try to buy souvenirs from a few different places as opposed to the same stall.

TIP TWO: You’re traveling, not visiting a human zoo. Photograph respectfully.

What if someone came into your workplace, your neighborhood, or your home and started taking pictures of you like you’re a spectacle? That would suck. Treat people the way you want to be treated, especially when you’re taking pictures. At the very least, ask first!

TIP THREE: Don’t exploit wildlife.

If you’re allowed to pet a wild animal something is wrong. Tigers are not domesticated animals, and neither are monkeys. If you’re interacting with an animal, do your research into how the animals are being treated.

TIP FOUR: Don’t litter. Seriously, how rude is littering. So rude.

Say you’re traveling in Laos. Laos does not have the same trash disposal services as other places. When you travel in a place like Laos, you need to be more conscious of the trash you produce. Bring a reusable water bottle. Bring your own spoon/ fork/ knife and avoid using disposable plasticware. Say no to plastic bags! Leave the places you visit the same if not better than when you came.

TIP FIVE: Do a little research on local culture before you travel.

Learn some key phrases before you arrive. Everyone everywhere likes when you at least attempt to speak their language. “Hello! Nice to meet you! My name is Emily! Yes please! No thank you! Where is the bathroom? May I please have some dessert/ beer/ wine?” YouTube is great for pronunciation.

Is it offensive to eat food with your left hand? Is it considered weird to shake hands? These are things you should try to know.

Represent yourself while travelling in a way that would make your parents proud. Or better yet, make your dog proud. We should all want to make dogs proud. Basically, don’t be a dickhead.

When I travel, I try to ask myself if my presence in an area is helping or hurting the people who live there. Tourism does not have to harm. Tourism can be a positive thing that benefits the region in which you are traveling. All it takes to travel responsibly is a little bit of research.

What to do when you realize you are burnt out, but can’t afford to quit

YOU make a plan.

IN February 2019 I realized something was horribly wrong. I was depressed and had been depressed for months but did not know why. I dreaded getting out of bed to go to work. Doing work I used to enjoy took more effort that ever. I buried myself in credit card debt to try find some happiness. The core of the problem, I finally realized, was my job had burnt me out. My whole life was suffering because I could not find a way to make myself happy any more. I needed to make some major changes, but I knew I needed to woman-up and make a real plan to change my life.

I CALLED my therapist. I had not been going regularly for a few years and knew this needed to be my first step in fixing my life. So far, it is the kindest thing I have ever done for myself.

WE made a plan. Well, I made a plan, she let me know if I was going off the rails. My job as a data analyst was ruining me. I used to enjoy my work, loving throwing myself into a new project. My boss is still a great boss, and the idea of letting him down hurt me. But it’s my life, not his nor my parents. I needed to come up with a new plan to change. I started calling it EmilyChange2k19. Never pass up the opportunity to give your plans fun nicknames.

SO many things crossed my mind. Should I work as a paralegal for an immigration law firm? Could I afford to take the necessary pay cut to become a paralegal? Or could I become a history teacher, a profession I have always been interested in. But could I afford the additional degrees I would need? Clarity came when I realized the two things I am most passionate about: travel and helping people. Very basic, I know. But at least it was giving me some kind of framework when deciding my future.

THEN there was the elephant in the room. The debt I had gotten myself into. Credit card bills, a small personal loan, my car, my student loans. If I were to make a major change, I would need to buckle down and pay off my (non-student loan) debt as fast as possible. I created a stringent budget. I’ve always tracked my spending on an excel spreadsheet, but this time I was determined. I made my plan to be free of consumer debt by April 2020. As of 15 September 2019, I am 30% to my goal.

NO I haven’t quit my job. Nor have I fully dug myself out of debt. But I am so much closer to my goal now than in February. EmilyChange2k19 has a solid framework and a realistic schedule that will allow me to move from the corporate world into being a freelancer. These are my intentions.

  • I will pay all off non-student loan debt by April 2020
  • I will quit my corporate job by July 2020
  • I will become a digital nomad

THIS blog is where I will document my process of gaining independence. Welcome to DonaTravels: from Burnout to Bliss

My name is Emily Donahue

Although I go by Emily Dona for short

Originally from Buffalo, New York, I am a travel enthusiast who is documenting the process of becoming a digital nomad.

Other things I love and will write about!

  • Liverpool Football Club
  • Crocheting
  • Running very slow, over very long distances
  • Tea
  • Dogs
  • The television shows of Michael Schur

I am using this blog to hold myself accountable to my goals as well as to write about things I find interesting. You are welcome to join me on my journey.