A Photographic Ode to Hattiesburg, Mississippi

A Photographic Ode to Hattiesburg, Mississippi

I lived in Hattiesburg for six years, but it took me three years living away to appreciate the most remarkable thing about it.

US Highway 98, Hattiesburg, MS.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi isn’t a place that engenders recognition by most people I talk to nowadays. I usually have to add that it’s in South Mississippi, and that it’s an hour and a half’s drive from Jackson. I also add that it’s about an hour and fifteen from the Gulf of Mexico, two and a half hours from New Orleans (two if you’re speeding), and no, it’s not anywhere near the Mississippi River. In a lot of people’s minds, Hattiesburg exists only in reference to somewhere else more recognizable. For me, however, Hattiesburg is a home.

Clouds over West Hattiesburg.

Longleaf Trace.

Scenes from the Pine Belt.

Longleaf Trace, Jackson Road Station.

After moving from Dhaka, Bangladesh – one of the largest megacities in the world – my family settled in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a college town with somewhere between forty-six to forty-eight thousand people. I went to high school in Oak Grove, which is the more “up and coming” half of town. Afterwards I went to college down the road at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I spent four years getting to know the town intimately.

The Fountain at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Centennial Lawn.

The Student Hub on USM's campus. Hattiesburg is nicknamed The Hub City.

I enjoyed going to college at Southern Miss. I learned to appreciate the small-town feel and the quiet, oftentimes indolent rhythm of Southern life. I loved the fantastic food and the vibrant music scene downtown. I enjoyed the occasional trip up to Jackson, or down to the Gulf or New Orleans with friends. I got to see my family often, who lived only fifteen minutes away. I knew, however, that I wasn’t going to stay in Hattiesburg. I was born and raised in the city, and my true calling was and will be the city—wherever it may be. After graduating I moved to Washington, D.C. for two years, and then moved to Berkeley, California in the San Francisco Bay Area for graduate school. I visited Hattiesburg a handful of times during the past few years, mostly to see my parents and a few friends who I’ve kept in touch with. And in spite of loving city life, I find myself enjoying this place more and more as the years go by.

Mississippi Hall.

Scianna Hall.

I lived in Hattiesburg for six years, but it took me three years living away to appreciate the most remarkable thing about it. During all those visits it felt like Hattiesburg has stayed the same, and yet it also feels like it changed a lot. Hattiesburg one of those places where the old always coexists with the new, in that characteristic Southern way.

A new retail store might pop up where there wasn’t one before, but right next to it stands an old office building from the early 1900s. A new restaurant serving vegetarian/vegan cuisine pops up down the street from the barbecue joint serving meat by the pound for the past thirty years—and both are rolling in customers. The new College of Business building on campus stands newly finished just around the corner from one of the first college dormitories built back in 1911. Downtown in the historic district, there’s a new music school, a new pub, a new café. Within eyesight is the old post office, the old (and still operational) train station, the old antique store. On the surface, Hattiesburg is the same as it has been, but just underneath so much is changing.

T-Bones Records & Cafe, a popular haunt for Hattiesburg residents.

Looking towards the old part of Downtown Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg Amtrak Station.

To many, Hattiesburg, Mississippi may just be another small town on the way to New Orleans, but to me every visit back to the ‘burg offers something new. It feels good to be here, and I know I’ll always have a good time when I visit. Never change, Hattiesburg. But keep on changing.

Cover Image Credit: Arik Shams

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10 Tips For Traveling On A Budget In 2018

How to travel smart and not go broke.

St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Taking time away from work, breaking out of your normal routine, experiencing a different culture, and learning more about yourself are just a few of the benefits of visiting someplace new.

Unfortunately, nothing in this world is free and traveling is no exception. As an avid traveler, I know just how quickly a trip become overly-expensive if you don’t know how and where to look. Bearing this in mind, here are some tips to help you travel cheaply and ensure that your next trip stays within your price range.

1. Find a location that matches your budget

This should come as a no-brainer but cannot be overstated. Pick a country or region that has a favorable exchange rate and less expensive amenities. For example, traveling in Southeast Asia is going to be far less expensive than most places in Europe. Do your research and be open to something off the beaten path!

2. Do not travel during peak season

Traveling during the right time of year will make everything from flights to lodging less expensive. If you are able to handle slight changes in weather, you can get a great experience at a fraction of the cost. Just be aware that peak season is different for every country depending on the hemisphere and weather, so do your diligence beforehand.

3. Know how to shop for flights

If you keep your ear to the ground, there are many opportunities to buy flights that are well below market value. Be on the lookout for sales, subscribe to newsletters such as Scott’s Cheap Flights, and visit websites like slickdeals. Just last year, a co-worker of mine was able to fly round trip to Thailand for $650 on Singapore Airlines. There are many resources out there for travelers on a budget, so utilize them! Also be sure to take advantage of frequent flyer programs and rewards points so your current purchases work towards your next adventure!

4. Book in advance

Again, this should come as no surprise, but the further out you book, the better deals you can get. Plan ahead when possible and make sure that you are booking the most important pieces of your trip well in advance.

5. Stay in hostels and budget hotels

Let’s face it, during your travels, you will likely spend most of your time outside your room. All you need is a bed, a shower, and somewhere safe to keep your belongings. In addition to sites like Expedia, Kayak, or Travelocity, be sure to check out region-specific booking sites as well; Agoda for Southeast Asia travel is a great example. Many hostels and hotels also have an included breakfast, so load up before you go out for the day!

6. Spend money on experiences

We all know the sentiment – material possessions are temporary, experiences last a lifetime. Are you really going to wear and appreciate the “I heart Amsterdam” shirt even a month after your trip? Stay away from purchasing souvenirs and instead focus on experiences like renting snorkel gear, snowboarding, or taking a boat tour.

7. Find free activities

In pretty much any destination country, there are many free options for entertainment. Hiking, sightseeing, strolling through outdoor markets, and lounging on the beach are all free ways to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and have fun without spending a dime. TripAdvisor is going to be your best friend when it comes to finding these experience and getting helpful reviews.

8. Travel insurance

Although insurance seems like an unnecessary, additional cost, it can provide huge savings down the road. Travel insurance plans only cost between 5 and 10 percent of your total trip cost but will cover you cancellations, delays, and most importantly medical emergencies. According to a personal injury attorney in San Antonio,

Justin Hill, there is no guarantee that your regular health insurance will cover you while abroad in the event of an accident and it may be difficult to establish jurisdiction for a lawsuit if negligence was involved. This exact situation happened to my friend when his mother was struck by a taxi in Italy. Especially if you are engaging in more extreme outdoor behaviors like rock climbing or surfing, a small cost upfront can be worth it in the long run.

9. Walk and use public transportation

It may be tempting to take a taxi or use ridesharing services like Uber if they are available. While this may be more convenient, walking and public transportation options are generally cheaper and in certain countries, just as accessible as a car. Moreover, trains and buses are going to give you a more authentic experience overall.

10. Research and create your own itinerary

With all of the resources available on the internet, you should never need a travel agent. You can do all of this yourself! Whether it is finding the best flights and hotels to creating your own self-guided tour, many aspects of travel can be done for free with a little time and effort. Doing plenty of independent research will also give you a idea of prices so that you are not scammed out of money or overcharged.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

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I'm The Girl Who Won't Stop Wandering, I Fall In Love With Every New City I Land In

My feet are never grounded.

By brand, I’m a Montana native complete with a closet of Patagonia wear and 406 stamped t-shirts. But, I was born halfway across the world in the not so small town of Melbourne, Australia. It’s in this island country that my wanderlust roots spread from, growing and deepening as I become another year older and possibly wiser. I may be a Montanan, respectively, but Australia is home to my feet and to at least part of my heart.

Endless traveling, exploring and meeting new people helped cultivate my truth that being immersed in other cultures is vital to creating a wider world perspective and feeding an ever-present wanderlust.

Growing up in ‘big city’ Montana, the small-town world was a bit of a culture shock all the time. A landlocked state only brings in so many tourists and foreign cultures. I am always thinking and yearning for the Vic Market and a bustling city full of the most interesting people. Holding my identity tight, I continue to never sit still and never forget the cobblestone that I came from.

The Victoria Market in central Melbourne has one of the strongest footholds on my heart. Rows upon rows of cobblestone walk sided with multicultural vendors selling fruits, flowers, and trinkets with everything imaginable in between. My heart and tummy do a backflip every time I smell the sugary greatness of a steaming hot jelly donut.

Walking the streets and seeing faces aged with movement, immigration, and sanctuary has become a welcome and needed part of my life. A wider perspective on the world was gifted to me here, no need to stress about anything because all that really mattered was who had the freshest oysters and best bottle of wine for seafood night.

My eyes have been accustomed to spending hours walking the markets and snacking on the tastiest street foods.

Street artists painting the walls so beautiful today and changed completely tomorrow. Sharing the footpath with strangers that are glad to give you a smile and a wave. Diversity, this is what shaped my heart with wanderlust. The sound of the city brings sleep to my eyes and peace to my mind, the hustle and speed of a growing metropolis may have just set my heart up for failure if it ever had to leave. The strongest coffee you’ve ever tasted, dog bowls on the path, wine on the terrace after watching a footie match, and street musicians have a home in my heart. Down under shaped my body and soul; good food can change a girl.

Traveling is still, to me, nothing that words can completely capture. I fall in love with a new place every time I arrive. Melbourne's Flinders Street Station steps were the place to be. Anytime you were set to meet someone in the city this is where you met. Lovers, best friends, and people from all over the world in full embrace at the base of an architectural dream in the middle of the city. My feet long to walk the cobblestone alleys that hid the yummiest milkshake shops, or the coolest hole-in-the-wall deli’s that had mesmerizing smells wafting out of every crevice. The idea that new experiences and places are just around another corner sparks my feet and makes me want to run to a new city whenever I can.

I'm afraid this wanderlust will never go away, and for now, I am calling beautiful Montana home. Someday I'll go further. Someday our wandering will be satisfied.

*This article is comprised of bits and pieces of a personal narrative I wrote in September of 2017.
Cover Image Credit: Olivia Romei

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