A Quick Thank You (and a small giveaway)

by Brenna Holeman

Brenna in Tel Aviv

In Tel Aviv, Israel (2013)

I woke up this morning hungover. Yesterday was one of those jam-packed days in London that had me running all over East London, and it culminated in a really fun and random night of pub-hopping with amazing friends. I stayed in bed for a very long time, too comfortable and warm to get up despite the sun streaming in my windows, a welcome sight after some gloomy London weather.

When I finally got up, I made a coffee and sat on the couch. I live alone, and I relish these long and lazy mornings, especially on days when there are no pressing deadlines. I didn’t have plans until the afternoon, so I took the time to call my mum, read a few chapters of my current book, and then go online. I saw on Facebook that my blog’s page reached over 6,000 followers overnight, and part of me just can’t believe all the support and kindness that I’ve received through This Battered Suitcase.

One could argue that those are just numbers, whether they be on Instagram or Twitter or anywhere else online. But those “numbers” are real people – people like you who have read this blog and have shared your travels and your dreams and your fearsΒ with me, and allowed me to share my own. It really does boggle my mind that – thirteen years since I first started blogging – I am still so blessed to be part of such an amazing community.

Because of this blog – because of readers like you – I have had so many doors open. As I’ve talked about before, This Battered Suitcase really has contributed to every single aspect of my life. Through it, I realised my love of writing, which spurred me on to get a master’s degree in Creative Non-Fiction and to finish my first book. It led to a career in the travel industry, doing what I love. It introduced me to hundreds of new people, including some of my closest friends. Recently, it allowed me to apply for a Graduate Entrepreneur visa here in the UK, which I was granted last month, meaning I get to stay another year in London in order to start a business (which I can’t wait to talk about one day soon). It also allows me to work with tourism boards and travel companies, the most recent being Visit Israel – I’m heading to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea this week, and will have lots of articles and photos to share from that trip soon.

None of this would have been possible had I not had the support from the people who read this blog… you. And while they may just be numbers to some (and, in terms of blogging, they may be very small numbers to others), I am overwhelmed by the encouragement from all of you, from the personal emails and messages to the shares and likes; each interaction drives me to create a place online that I hope you can relate to and enjoy.

So before I get too sappy (it might be too late for that), I just wanted to say thank you. While I can never adequately pay you all back for everything, I would like to send out some postcards from Israel. And while I’d love to send one to everyone, this time I’ll be sending out seven postcards. If you’d like to have the chance to receive one, please comment here with… well… anything. Tell me about your day. Tell me something funny that happened. Hell, just say hello if you want to.Β Please comment by Sunday, March 20th, when I’ll choose seven comments at random.

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of your support.

-Brenna

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84 comments

Jill March 14, 2016 - 12:50 am

I love your blog. I wanted to go to London for years. And I mean YEARS! Lol. Finally went last year and I fell in love! I’m going back in April and I love reading a blog by someone that lives in my favorite city!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:05 pm

Thank you so much, Jill! Have fun on your second trip to London, I’m glad you agree that it’s a great city!

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Sara March 14, 2016 - 1:59 am

I love getting real mail and my last (and only) trip to Israel was 10 years ago this May!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:59 pm

I hope you get to visit again soon, Sara!

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Angela March 14, 2016 - 2:00 am

I just recently found your blog, and have been ADDICTED to it – browsing through random articles while also being inspired to start my own travel blog. What I love most about your posts is that you write so well and personal that it makes it so unique from other travel guides. I’m really looking forward to your book and am curious about your business venture. Happy travels! πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:00 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Angela! That really means a lot to me. I hope you’ll keep reading and good luck with your travel blog! πŸ™‚

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veena March 14, 2016 - 5:11 am

I woke up still drunk on Saturday morning after my flatmate’s farewell do on Friday night. It is now Monday morning, and I am moderately sure I have finally purged all the alcohol from my body, but I very well might be wrong. Here’s to fun weekends with great friends.

Also, if you send me a postcard, I will send you one from my upcoming travels in May and June! Your options are Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bhutan [yes, I’m going!], Ladakh, Delhi, Memphis, or NYC πŸ™‚

Happy travels! xx

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:01 pm

Wow, that’s so awesome! I’m SO happy you’re going to Bhutan!!

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Melanie March 14, 2016 - 6:36 am

Hey!

I came across your blog about 6 months ago whilst searching for what to wear to India as a women. We have such a similar vibrant style and I was so glad I came across your post as it really helped me in my packing endeavours. Since then I read your posts each email I get, they’re always delightful to read and fuel my wonderlust just that little bit more. Sometimes your posts really sing out to me. You recently wrote about heartbreak, and I commented with my story and recent break up. I’m learning more and more to grown and move on, I really thank you for the post you wrote- it helped me amazingly.
A little funny story from me! It’s was my sisters hens night (like a bachelorette party) the other night and with my curiousity I was genuinely intrigued as to why a man would choose to be a stripper/dancer (yes we did the ClichΓ¨ strippers thing!) so I striked up a conversation with one of the topless waiters. After a good deep and meaningful conversation about his passion for dancing and making all the ladies happy, he noticed he wasn’t appearing so macho anymore. He then says “well if the ladies get to touch me, I touch them,” he grabs my hand and puts it on his chest, then put his other hand on my boobs and gives a huge grin! Haha!
It would’ve make a hilariously awkward photo!

Hope you got a little laugh out of that!

Thanks for your posts. We enjoy reading them as much as you like writing them

Mel

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:06 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, Mel – it means so much to me! I’m so glad that you’ve been able to relate to some of the posts.

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Eleni March 14, 2016 - 6:40 am

It’s been almost two years since I stumbled upon your blog, and I absolutely love it! I so appreciate how relatable your writing style is–I often find myself nodding along, laughing out loud or tearing up when I read your posts. Your work is truly inspiring and it’s great to see you getting the recognition you deserve. I can’t wait to read your book!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:33 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Eleni! I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Sigourney Stansfield March 14, 2016 - 7:16 am

Congratulations! I’ve been following for about three years, one of the first blogs I started reading and reading about your adventures inspired me and made me realise that I wanted travel to be a big part of my life. I graduated in July last year, packed my shiny new suitcase and I have been in Australia now for over 4 months! (With a slightly more battered suitcase of my own)

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:34 pm

That’s so awesome, Sigourney! I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Didi March 14, 2016 - 9:12 am

Getting a postcard is one of the things I do when I go abroad and I know it always brightens up my friends day. It’s such a lovely thing to do.
The whole act of buying them, finding a cosy cafe to write them and walk for miles to find a postbox always turns into adventure:) happy you got your visa and good luck with your business venture and most of all happy travels πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:34 pm

I agree, sending postcards is really fun! I wish I could do it all the time. πŸ™‚

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Sel March 14, 2016 - 9:53 am

I have been reading your blog from the beginning. I love losing myself in your travels, as im not able to travel much due to illness, i feel i can live my travels through you.
Keep doing what your doing & enjoy life. Hugs ????????????

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Sel! I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Ratika March 14, 2016 - 12:16 pm

Congratulations! I just recently came across your blog, and it’s just what I was looking for. You’re writing is really beautiful and I love it! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:36 pm

Thank you so much, Ratika! I’m so glad you like the blog.

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Zeynep March 14, 2016 - 12:52 pm

Hello! A big thank you too! Reading your posts always gives a support and smile πŸ™‚ Have a good time in Jersualem! <3 and hope to be the one of those receiving your postcard…

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:36 pm

Thank you so much, Zeynep!

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Jessi Sturges March 14, 2016 - 12:56 pm

Congrats on the 6k! Not sure about something funny today, seeing as it is currently 5am and my alarm is gonna go off in half an hour haha. But I did have a good laugh with my dad yesterday. I discovered that his great peraneese dog Odin, who is usually calm and gentle, doesn’t like having air blown into his face. He went from big stoic and chill dog and turned into big playful puppy in a matter of seconds. I have finally found my dogs playful button haha =)

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:37 pm

Aw, that’s really cute! Thanks for the comment, Jessi. πŸ™‚

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Karen March 14, 2016 - 1:02 pm

Hi I love your blog it’s fab and inspiring, plus I’m jealous of your Israel trip! Today I’m in Tromso Norway getting ready to come home after a weekend of learning cross country skiing and seeing the northern lights. … amazing !

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:37 pm

Oh wow, I would love to do that! Thanks for the comment, Karen.

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Alisa March 14, 2016 - 1:12 pm

Just wanted to say I love your blog! I’ve been reading for awhile now and your posts are always so well written and engaging.
Also. I’m actually moving to the U.K. for grad school next year (still need visa and loans but fingers crossed) I’ll be living in Nottingham but your pictures/posts have me super excited to visit London. Maybe I’ll run into you there πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Alisa! Sure, let me know if you’re in London. πŸ™‚

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Alisa March 30, 2016 - 11:28 pm

Thanks! I definitely will πŸ™‚

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Sally March 14, 2016 - 1:15 pm

Israel is on my bucket list so plenty of info please πŸ™‚ My day ?… well how ordinary can a day be ? lol my car is in the garage getting work done .. .. Ive just done my 10k steps .walking , the weather is lovely today so that nice ;). and now about to begin a day of manditory housework .. :/

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:38 pm

Sometimes we need those ordinary days!! πŸ™‚

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Jenny Fa Fa Ho March 14, 2016 - 2:12 pm

Thank you so much for all your inspirations! Needless to say, I love your blog and can’t wait to read about all your latest adventures!

Over the years I realise that there’s always a bit of fun in everything we do and just want to share something that I encountered on the tube last Saturday evening.

* * *

We got on the end of a train carriage on the underground.

There was a family near us, presumably a dad with a son and a daughter. The kids looked about 6/7 years old.

As you may know, there are usually a couple of cushioned areas towards the end of a train carriage for adults to lean on.

“Can I sit on this?” the son asked.
“No, these are for leaning.” the dad said.

Quite obviously (and not surprisingly) the son climbed and sat on it.

The daughter wanted to do the same but couldn’t because of her smaller stature.

“Use your inner ninja!” the son said.

* * *
=)

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:03 pm

Thank you so much for sharing the story, Jenny, and thanks for all of your support! I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Jenny Fa Fa Ho March 31, 2016 - 8:20 am

Thank you so much, Brenna! You’ve made my day! I will PM you my address X

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Tempesst March 14, 2016 - 2:16 pm

I discovered your blog almost three years ago, and have been addicted ever since! Recently I’ve been going through your Eastern Europe archives, as I will be headed to that region next month. You are SUCH an amazing writer and reading your posts is such a treat. Have a great week and a great time in Israel!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:04 pm

Aw, thank you so much! I’m sure you’ll love Eastern Europe. I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Sheryl-Ann Stephen March 14, 2016 - 2:40 pm

Congrats, Brenna! Your blog is my favorite travel blog specifically because I love your writing style. Good luck in all your future endeavors! Wishing you all the best, as I travel throughout Southern Africa. I’m presently in Mafikeng, SA having driven from Gaborone yesterday. Enjoy Israel and looking forward to your posts from there. Cheers!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:38 pm

Thank you so much, Sheryl-Ann, I’m always so appreciative of your support! Have fun in SA πŸ™‚

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Stacy March 14, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Hi Brenna,

Thank you for your blog! I love your writing voice and reading about your adventures tides me over in between my travels. Enjoy Israel and best of luck with your business!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:39 pm

Thank you so much, Stacy!

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missy March 14, 2016 - 3:48 pm

Not for a post card but simply to say: keep up the good work πŸ™‚
You are not only an inspiration in ur varied endeavors but also feel like a distant friend in many regards ( swear I’m not a stalker). Love reading ur blogs, posts and comments as a way to “catch up” and see ur personality with all its humour and quirks showing thru.

And then I of course learn a few things along the way. For someone who knows all- I am the last omniscient lol- it is great to read about things that are not only enjoyable but informative.

So plow on, fight the good fight, etc etc… well y’know, keep doing that what u do, being who u r. Congrats- it is deserved.
And thank u πŸ™‚
M

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:40 pm

Aw, thank you very much, Missy – I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the blog! I really appreciate your support.

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Paige March 14, 2016 - 4:16 pm

: ) oh but thank you Brenna!! I’ve been reading for about a year now and your blog is such a source of inspiration for me, both as a writer and I guess you could say aspiring long term traveler? Speaking of which, I’m currently in transit on my way back from a weekend on Cape Cod with family, and this morning I successfully directed someone to the correct Green Line track at Park Street in Boston, which made me feel like a local even though I live in small town New Hampshire an hour north of here. I love the little confidence boost of knowing a place enough to help another person. I must also look like I know what I’m doing, and I’d never even done Boston transit stuff solo until several months ago because I found it intimidating!

Can’t wait to hear about your new work!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:15 pm

Oh, I love that feeling – that others believe you’re a local! Thank you very much for all of your support, Paige, I’m really glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Ashley March 14, 2016 - 4:58 pm

Congratulations on all your successes, Brenna! I’m looking forward to following your adventures in Israel; the Middle East is a region that is really calling to me lately!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:53 pm

Thank you so much, Ashley! The Middle East certainly is a fascinating region.

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Mary March 14, 2016 - 5:04 pm

Oooo! I am so excited that you were granted the Visa and can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for you! It’s Monday morning and I’m starting my day off with a warm mug of Earl Grey tea!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:53 pm

Thank you so much, Mary!

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Jessica Weber March 14, 2016 - 5:13 pm

Hi Brenna,

Congrats on 6,000 – what a feat! I love your blog and always look forward to new posts πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:53 pm

Thank you very much, Jessica!

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Camila March 14, 2016 - 5:53 pm

Hey Brenna! Your blog has been very inspirational to me, and it has helped me in choosing destinations and planning my travels, so thank you!
I love postcards, would love to receive one for you!
Love from Brazil!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:15 pm

Thank you so much, Camila! I really appreciate your support.

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Lauren Bishop March 14, 2016 - 8:59 pm

Congrats on reaching 6000 followers. What I like best about your writing is that it is unique and personal. I come back to read your stories for travel inspiration and for meaningful connection. Anyone can list top 10 things to see in London, but you transport me to the time and place of your stories, and truthfully, make me feel like we are friends. Enjoy Israel, I can’t wait to read about it and travel there “with” you!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:16 pm

Aw, that’s so amazing, Lauren, thank you so much for letting me know! I really appreciate your support.

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Tracey Parker March 14, 2016 - 9:46 pm

Hi Brenna,

Stumbled onto your blog as I was researching about India and what my daughter and I should be wearing on our trip this September…..thanks to you we are now well and truly organised. We loved the way you just fit into their culture and were aware and considerate of their religious beliefs in the way that you presented yourself. Varanasi has been on my very long list of places to experience and I am finally going to be able to tick this off the list. I have also decided to go back to my Tourism studies this year……the thing that I love the most in the world…..all thanks to your amazing insight into the world at our fingertips.

Keep up the amazing work you are doing to bring the world to others that may not be as lucky as us…..as we can experience it for ourselves.

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:54 pm

Thank you so much, Tracey, I’m so happy to hear that! I really appreciate your support.

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Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine March 15, 2016 - 1:51 am

Congrats to YOU, Brenna! I just started my Facebook page for my blog and I can’t even imagine that many people right now. I’ve got to say, I am so happy that such a number gets to read and experience your work. You know I love your writing!

As for my day, we’ve had some pretty lousy weather and I seem to have fallen asleep from 6:30-8:30pm. Whoops! So much for laundry!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:54 pm

Oh no, I hate those evening naps! I’m guilty of them, too. Thank you so much for all of your support, Amanda!

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Ella March 15, 2016 - 6:44 pm

Congratulations!! I’ve been following you for 2 years now and you’ve always been a source of inspiration for me as a traveller, blogger, storyteller and also simply as a woman who is doing her thing and doing it well. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve hit 6000 Facebook followers and I’m looking for the upcoming milestones that you will without a doubt reach. I can’t wait to hear your stories from Israel.. Tisa Ne-ima! (Have a great flight haha ???? )

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:16 pm

Thank you so much, Ella! I really appreciate all of your support over the years… and all of your kind words, too. πŸ™‚

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Jennifer March 16, 2016 - 12:45 am

It’s nice to see that the kindest you never fail to show your readers and avid fans isn’t going unnoticed. You have this unique ability to draw people in and make them feel like the most important people in the room. You are the Leslie Knope of the blogosphere (that is probably the highest compliment I could give anyone, so enjoy it :). Safe Travels!

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Jennifer March 16, 2016 - 12:46 am

I meant kindness… Blame Daylight Savings Time.

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:19 pm

Thank you so much, Jennifer… that is quite a compliment indeed!!! I love Leslie. πŸ˜€

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Rachel @ Meandering Mermaid March 16, 2016 - 5:19 am

Your blog is one of my favorite travel blogs to read!! I’m currently in the process of moving to Australia from the USA in order to start my PhD. I spent today in LA, where I met some very interesting people and also got pooped on by a bird. That supposedly means good luck, right? Taking it as a sign of good things to come on my move! Have fun in Israel!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:17 pm

Ha ha, I think so! Thank you for all of your support, Rachel, and have fun in Australia!

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Expatkerri March 16, 2016 - 3:41 pm

Your stories pull people in, and your photos and humour keeps them coming back! Congratulations on your successes, and send me a postcard from Israel please! πŸ˜€

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:55 pm

Wish you had been there with me! πŸ˜€

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Julianne March 16, 2016 - 4:16 pm

Congratulations! That’s an impressive milestone.
Israel sounds incredible – I’ve known some people who’ve been/lived there, and from what I hear, it’s beautiful. I’d love to go. Honestly, though, I’ve added pretty much every place you’ve talked about to my “one day” list haha. Four countries down, the rest of the world to go. πŸ˜›
Anyway, congrats again! I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and I absolutely love your posts. You definitely deserve the readership.
Have fun in Israel!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:18 pm

Thank you so much, Julianne! I’m so thankful for your support over the years. πŸ™‚

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Adriana March 16, 2016 - 6:10 pm

just came across your blog today for the first time. Wow, within a few minutes of browsing through every one of your posts, you’ve given me more inspiration that most people in my life. rock on, girl.

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:55 pm

Thank you very much, Adriana, I hope you’ll keep reading!

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Jacquie March 16, 2016 - 11:04 pm

Brenna I would love a postcard from you!! I would pin it up at my desk to further fuel my wanderlust until it’s a completely unmanageable fire that I can’t do anything about until I have enough money and vacation time.

I would look at it and be happy that a fellow Canadian is out there LIVING THE DREAM!

This week has been good for me – Vancouver FINALLY has sunshine, and I’ve started a running program. I’ve always been active but never really given running a proper shot. After my first run on Monday, I felt so happy and peaceful and like I can handle my life and actually really enjoy it, which felt amazing.

Happy Wednesday! πŸ˜€

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 5:18 pm

That’s great, Jacquie! I’d love to send you a postcard, so please contact me with your address. πŸ™‚

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Isabel March 17, 2016 - 6:09 am

This is so incredible! I hope you have a wonderful time in Israel, it seems like such an interesting and unique country.

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Thank you, Isabel!

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Lina March 17, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Brenna! A while ago I wrote you a message asking you how to get a better combination of privacy as well as authencity while traveling (I had previously only been staying at either hotels with no authencity, or host families with no privacy), and you recommended me to try hostels. Since then I’ve stayed in hostels in Athens and Cambridge and had such wonderful experiences, and I might not have had those experiences if it wasn’t for you! It is very sweet and humble of you to write this post expressing your thankfulness to your readers, but don’t forget that all of us readers also have you to thank for a lot. I am far from the only one who’s gotten inspired by your pure existence, and for that I would like to say thank YOU! I hope to be able to read about your travels for many, many years. Have a great trip in Israel!

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Lina, and I’m so glad that you’re enjoying staying in hostels! Thank you for all of your support. πŸ™‚

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Julia March 18, 2016 - 11:54 am

Congratulations! πŸ™‚ Your blog and social media inspired me to travel alone, something I always wanted to do but was too scared. So thank you! And please keep writing, I really love your stories and adventures! πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:57 pm

Aw, that’s great Julia! Thank you very much for letting me know.

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Diane March 18, 2016 - 4:03 pm

I’ve just come across your blog – I have no idea where I found it but I am so glad I have! I’ve only read a few posts but you’ve got a great writing style! I’ll be back for more for sure.

Congratulations on hitting 6,000 and more importantly have a great trip! πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:57 pm

Thank you so much, Diane! I hope you’ll keep reading.

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Eleanor March 20, 2016 - 12:04 pm

I love your blog so so much! Congratulations!! I feel inspired and in a good place whenever I read it! Have a wonderful trip πŸ™‚

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Brenna Holeman March 30, 2016 - 4:58 pm

Aw, that’s awesome, Eleanor! Thank you very much.

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Natalie April 6, 2016 - 12:40 am

Hi Brenna!
I definitely agree with you that travelling allows us to visit and experience all these new cultures and people, essentially building and making us the people we are today! I am currently 16 and been have been fortunate as yourself, to travel the world with my parents. Next year, when I am 17 I am thinking of doing some travelling in the first half of the year and starting university in July. What do you think of au pairing? I have a friend who has done it and she loved it! I speak French, so I think France would be ideal for me. Would very much appreciate your thoughts!

Thanks,
nat xx

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