The Freedom Life: November 2019

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Whats it really like to travel the world and work as a location independent digital nomad? Its the Freedom Life! Visiting home for the holidays as a travel bloger #travelblogger #digitalnomad #locationindependent #california #vegas

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What I Was Up to This Month

This month I finally headed back to the US for the holidays! I spent time with my parents in Palm Desert, headed to Lost Angeles for Thanksgiving, and I even took a quick trip to Vegas to see my brother perform with Sabrina Claudio!

November was also the month that my episode from House Hunters International aired, which was super exciting! I loved watching our adventures house hunting in Hoi An, and it was so fun to finally share our episode with you all.

Where I Went in November

  • Palm Desert, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
House Hunters Hoi An

Our House Hunters episode!


Overall this was a pretty good month! Here are my favorite moments from the month of November!

I Was On House Hunters International!

For those of you who didn’t know, Chris and I appeared on an episode of House Hunters International featuring our house hunt in Hoi An! While we filmed quite a while back, our episode aired this November on HGTV, and it was so crazy seeing everything come together.

If you’re a fan of House Hunters, be sure to keep an eye out for repeat airings of our episode titled: Luxury and Frugality in Hoi An. You should also be able to watch it online if HGTV is part of your package!

Chris and I got a lot of great feedback about our episode, and many (clearly biased) people told us we should make our own travel show. That would be the dream! For now, I’ll just have to take my D-list fame where I can get it.

Do you have any questions or want to know more about our experience? Let me know because I definitely want to write a blog post about it all for you guys! Of course, I can’t give away all the production secrets, but I’d love to fill you in on what it’s like to house hunt in Hoi An, and how fun it was to film the tv show.

Palm Desert

A Palm Desert sunset

Relaxing in Palm Desert

While I loved my honeymoon this October, I was pretty exhausted after all our traveling and moving around. It was great to just have a month in California where I could cook my own food, get caught up on work, relax with family, and unpack my suitcase.

Chris and I relaxed at the neighborhood pool when the weather was good enough. We borrowed my parents’ bikes to go for afternoon bike rides and watched $5 movies at the local cinema on Tuesdays. Overall, it was a really great month to relax, recharge and get into a healthy routine again after eating out for every single meal.

Las Vegas Blue Rondo

Meeting up with my brother in Vegas

Watching My Brother Perform in Vegas with Sabrina Claudio

For those of you who didn’t know, my brother plays keyboard for Sabrina Claudio and has also produced some of her songs. They played at Coachella, and have gone on tour in the US, Asia, and Europe. But despite all of that, I’ve NEVER seen him play with her!! I know right? Horrible sister.

Well, my parents, Chris and I took a road trip down to Vegas to see them play at the House of Blues, and we had a great time! The venue was absolutely packed with a ton of superfans, and I felt extremely lucky to get great seats (thanks Derek!) and we even got to go backstage and meet Sabrina and the band afterward!

It was honestly so cool getting this glimpse at my brother’s epic life, and I’m actually obsessed with a bunch of the songs on Sabrina’s new album.

If you want to listen to a few of her songs, here are my favorites:

Christmas apple pie

My homemade apple pie!

Celebrating Thanksgiving in LA

Can you believe this is the first time I’ve had Thanksgiving with my family since HIGH SCHOOL? Wow… that’s actually a decade. I went to college in DC and wasn’t able to fly home for Thanksgiving, and then I promptly moved to China and have lived abroad ever since.

Well, this year I was able to head to LA to have Thanksgiving dinner with a family friend. My parents and brother have been doing Thanksgiving there for the last few years, and it was so great to join. Whenever I’m home I’m always in charge of the pies (probably because my pies are actually amazing), so I brought FOUR pies (two apple and two pumpkin), to add to the amazing Thanksgiving meal.

This was also Chris’ first real Thanksgiving which is super exciting!

Hells Kitchen vegas

Eating burgers at Gordon Ramsay Burger in Vegas!


Not everything this month was perfect. Here were a few of the challenging moments.

24 Hours of Flying!!

Flying to LA from Singapore literally took over 24 hours. We flew from Singapore up to Beijing, had a lengthy layover, and then took another 12-hour flight to LA. After our solid 24 hours of flying, we spent the night at an airport hotel and then proceeded to take a 3-hour bus from LA to Palm Springs, where we then had a 45-minute uber ride the rest of the way to Palm Desert.

I almost died when I finally made it to my parents’ house.

Cliffhouse Palm Desert

Cliffhouse with my parents in Palm Desert!

Crashing Hard in the US

Once I did make it to California, I crashed hard. Firstly, I was weirdly jetlagged for the first time in a while (I now just pop a mild sleeping pill if I need to sleep on a long-haul flight because I don’t have time for jetlag), and I was also just exhausted from all the flying and moving around on the honeymoon.

Chris and I went straight from the wedding to the honeymoon (seriously… don’t do that) and had to bring a year’s worth of stuff with us (also, definitely don’t do that). While we did relax a lot at first, we got a little restless towards the end of the trip, which meant that Malacca and Singapore were filled with sightseeing.

I’m also not good at relaxing properly… I need active relaxation, otherwise, I feel like I’m missing out. For example, “We need to go to the pool today, and also to the beach, and we should take our snorkeling masks so we can look for fish while we swim, and also we need to go out to this one restaurant…”. Who makes a checklist for their relaxing vacation? Apparently I do.

When I got to California I had so much work to catch up on but I was SO TIRED. My parents probably thought Chris and I were super weirdly antisocial homebodies, but in reality, we just wanted a date with our bed and the tv for a little bit.

Snow southern California

Isn’t this Southern California??

SNOW in Southern California?

Our quick 2.5-hour drive from Palm Desert to Los Angeles turned into an epic slog through SNOW as we encountered a blizzard on the highway. Ummmm what? Wasn’t it 80 degrees last week?

Southern California highways (and cars) are just not meant for the snow, and people were still driving like crazy (seriously California drivers, you guys are all a-holes). My parents were super stressed out on the drive to Thanksgiving, which took twice as long as usual, and I honestly don’t blame them.

stress hair falling out comic

Cartoon by Lazy Fairy comics

My Hair Started Falling Out??

Starting on the honeymoon in October, I started having some weird hormonal issues. Firstly, I was breaking out all over the lower half of my face, which is super convenient because the last thing I want to do is wear makeup on the beach… I never really had much of a problem with acne, and it was like every other day I’d get a new pimple on my chin.

Once I got to California, in addition to the pimples, my hair started falling out. Whaaaat?!!

I first noticed it when I was detangling my hair in the shower. I always end up with a little clump of hair when I finger detangle since I don’t really shed like a normal person because I have curly hair. However this time, my hair clump was literally twice the size as normal.

I didn’t think much of it until the next time I took a shower and even MORE, hair came out. I started noticing that I was losing hair even as I gathered it to put it in a ponytail, and my scalp also hurt. People may not have noticed my hair was thinning (because it’s curly) but I definitely noticed it was about half the thickness it usually is, which really freaked me out.

Thankfully after about three weeks, my hair went back to normal and my acne started to calm down. I eventually met with a doctor who said it was nothing to worry about since it only lasted three weeks. She said it was possibly stress (wouldn’t surprise me) or an iron deficiency. Either way, I’m back to normal now, but let’s just say I was not a fan…

What I Created in November

This month I wrote three blog posts and filmed a new Youtube video! Look at me for actually publishing stuff for once…

Not only did a publish a recap of my wedding and honeymoon, but I also wrote a post talking about why living and working in China is an incredible experience and published my updated 2019 gift guide for traveling girls! If you need some help shopping for the female (or male… there’s some good unisex stuff in there) traveler in your life, I definitely recommend checking that one out.

If you want to teach abroad, you definitely can’t miss my new Youtube Video, Teach Abroad Contracts: 5 Things to Look For So you Don’t Get Scammed. This video will go through the main things you need to look for in your teach abroad job contract to make sure you don’t fall into any of the traps that first-year teachers typically miss!

Makeup Eraser cloth for travel

Photo by Amazon

Travel Product I Can’t Live Without

Well, firstly if you haven’t had a look at my 2019 gift guide for traveling girls, what are you even doing with your life? Just kidding… but not really.

That said, I do want to highlight one thing off the gift guide that I never talk about even though I’m OBSESSED: My magic eraser makeup remover cloth.

This sustainable reusable makeup remover cloth is literally a godsend for anyone who wears makeup, especially people who travel. Why? It’s a magical washcloth that removes all your makeup with PLAIN WATER. Seriously, all you have to do is get it wet in the sink and you can easily wipe all of your makeup off your face.

I actually didn’t believe it could really work (despite seeing someone post about it on Facebook), so I ordered one for myself. I was so incredibly shocked by how good of a job it did (better than a disposable makeup remover wipe), that I immediately purchased another one. The best part is that these cloths last 2 years, and all you need to do is throw them in the wash once a week.


women bathroom joke

This bathroom at a highway diner freaked so many people out…

Best Reads of November

Here are my favorite blog posts from the month of November!

How to Take a Japanese Bath in Tokyo – Goats on the Road

I love taking traditional Japanese baths! Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to get photos and videos of an onsen or sento because everyone is naked inside! So I appreciated that they were able to get some great footage of three different sentos to explain Japanese bathing culture for all of you!

Merida: My First Taste of Mexico – Alex in Wanderland

I’m considering moving to Merida this summer, so I really loved reading about Alex’s experience exploring this fantastic Mexican city!

My Top Africa Travel Tips (After 10 Years) – Helen in Wonderlust

If you’re planning on going anywhere in Africa, you need to check out this guide! Helen is definitely an expert, and I wish I would’ve spent some more time reading her blog before I moved to Tanzania.

Best Stops on the Trans Siberian Railway – Journalist On The Run

The Trans Siberian Railway seems like such an incredible experience, and I loved reading Janet’s take on her favorite off-the-beaten-path and unique destinations during her month-long Russia trip!

CGM travel

My hair actually behaving in California. I had to document!!

What I’m Up to in December

This December I’ll be heading up to Seattle for the holidays! After Chrismas, I’ll immediately be flying to London for a UK wedding, and I’ll be living in Europe until May. Surprise!!

Do you want to hear more about House Hunters or preparing to move to Europe? Let me know what kind of posts you’d like this month! 

The Freedom Life: November 2019



About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

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