Lost Girls of the Week: Kim Pitingolo and Coley Nelson

Lost Girl of the Week — By on October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

This week’s lost girls are friends Kim Pitingolo and Coley Nelson who were inspired to plan a trip around the world and are currently traveling through New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Laos.

Kim is a 20-something, adventure-seeking, culture junkie with the desire to inspire. Kim caught the travel bug while studying in Australia in 2009 and hasn’t been the same since. Armed with coffee in one hand and her camera in the other, she aspires to improve global awareness and advance intercuturalism through her travel blogs, videos, and photography. She is determined to prove to the world that it’s possible to travel on a ridiculously low budget. Kim’s idols include: Carmen San Diego, Anthony Bourdain, and The Lost Girls.

Coley is a 20-something firecracker from the ‘burbs of Chicago who hopes to spread positive light and learn about kick-ass culture wherever her travels may lead. Coley aspires to work in the hospitality industry so she can get sweet discounts at Disneyworld. Kidding. But really, she hopes to help people realize the value of travel and make their travel dreams a reality. Hobbies/boarderline obsessions include: dance, The Food Network, & her sorority, Phi Mu.

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It all began a little over a year ago in the coffee shop line at Elmhurst College. We had just gotten out of our intercultural communication class and were waiting for our traditional post-class pick-me-ups. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we went backpacking next summer?” Coley said completely out of the blue. “Yeah, it would,” Kim agreed while thinking to herself that practically, it would never happen. But as time passed, we began to consider that maybe we actually could turn this coffee shop dream into a reality. At that point, we had plenty of time to plan, budget, and save, and there was no more of an ideal time to do something like this than our last summer of college. We really had no reason not to follow through with the idea…so we did.

After reading countless blogs, scanning through numerous travel guides, and engaging in frequent late-night chats, our destinations were chosen–New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Laos. Our next steps in the process? Buy a backpack and book our plane tickets so there’s no turning back. Despite the fact that many of our family and friends didn’t quite understand the concept of our crazy trip plans, we were determined to prove to the world that it was possible to do something like this. With tickets purchased, backpacks packed, and a 7 week trip ahead of us, we landed in Auckland, New Zealand this past June with no idea what was in store for us.

Now, it is extremely difficult to sum up the experiences of one country, let alone four. The common thread that wove our experiences together into one big masterpiece? Adventure…and plenty of it. Between bungee jumping, glacier hiking, riding elephants, black water rafting, ziplining, and Zorbing, we stepped out of our comfort zones and into the “Lost Girls” lifestyle. Our schedule revolved around jumping from hostel to hostel, unpacking and re-packing our bags, constantly meeting new people, and adapting to different languages, foods, environments, and cultures. With no responsibility except waking up to catch our bus or plane, we never felt so alive. We were finally experiencing the world at our feet.

Now we’re currently back to the books and seeking to keep adventure a part of our daily lives. The big question everyone asks us is “when is your next trip?” At this point, we don’t have any trips planned for the near future because we’re focusing on finishing up our senior year of college and our post graduation plans. However, we’re both hoping to incorporate travel into our lives after school. Coley is seeking to work as a traveling chapter consultant for her sorority, and Kim is hoping to teach English as a second language in Asia. We will never forget the memories made during the summer of 2011, but we are excited to see what the future holds. Because sometimes it’s not about where you’ve been in life but where you’re going next.

Check out their backpacking adventures at theworldatyourfeet.wordpress.com.

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