5 Things I Learned In Haiti

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I recently traveled to Haiti and that trip taught me a lot. So in this blog post, I will share 5 things Haiti taught me.

1. My Love for Culture and People of Color

Living in America in predominantly white places, I have never really gotten a chance to be surrounded by people of color for extended periods of time. The feelings I got in Haiti were quite similar to the ones I got after watching Black Panther. It’s hard to describe, but there is so much power in being around people who look like you. Very cliche, but I felt at home in Haiti. I didn’t feel like I stuck out, I didn’t feel out of place, and I loved it! Also, I loved the culture. Coming from a household of blended cultures (Nigerian and Kenyan) it was no surprise I fell in love the with Haitian culture and the similarities I found between it and the environment I was raised in. I saw simplicity, work ethic, and joy just to name a few but also just a strong sense of community. Most of all I saw beauty in the way the people around me lived their lives, and I found God at work in the details, the big picture… I saw Him in it all.

2. Paved Roads and Driving Laws

The last time I went to Kenya, I was two, so I don’t remember much. I rely on the stories of my parent’s childhoods to paint the picture of living in a third world country. My mom has always talked about how long it takes to do things there. Doing one thing can be an all-day event, and most of the time it’s simply because of the commute. The minute we hit our first gravel/dirt road, I finally began to understand what my mom had been talking about for all those years. Paved roads are truly a blessing and driving laws are too because they save you for almost having a heart attack on the road.

3. The Importance of Communication

As a black girl, the most frequent questions I got when I was in Haiti were are you Haitian, do you speak Creole, and do you speak French, to all of which I answered no. People were in shock, mainly because I look like them and they just assumed I was or could do all of the above, but also because it really limited my ability to talk with them. Thankfully I had wonderful translators around that were more than amazing, but I felt so entitled and even rude to be in their country without knowing even a little Creole, yet they knew anywhere from one to four languages. To say the least, I don’t plan on visiting a country without knowing at least a few common phrases. But in all honesty, I’m in the process of learning Creole as you reading this.

4. People are People

Cultures are different but people are people. While languages don’t always translate, smiles do and thank God for that! It’s funny how when you can’t communicate very well sometimes that’s when it’s easiest to see someone’s heart. It’s easy to get distracted by looks, status, etc., but nothing says more about a person than they’re joy, they’re smiling, and their heart.

5. Less Is More

A lesson I’ve been learning recently is that there are pros and cons to everything. I love living in America, but because of the privilege I have living here, a lot of my worries and concerns are of things that don’t actually matter. To put it more simply, the things I worry about most are things that I am privileged to actually worry about. But living in a third world country, many people only worry about the things that actually matter: God, food, clothing, and family. It’s amazing how short that list is how long I make mine sometimes. Or how often times we think things will bring us happiness when in reality the exact opposite is true.

So those are a few of the things I learned while in Haiti. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to visit the wonderful country. It is beautiful!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light.

Tips & Tricks for Traveling Around a Walking City

I recently took a trip to New York City to visit a friend. While I had been to New York before, it was my first proper visit to the city, and to say the least, it was quite a learning experience.

I travel often, so when it comes to packing light or packing less, I’m pretty good. But just as all cities are different, your packing list should be too. For example, how you pack for a walking city is different from how you pack for a driving city and let’s just say I wasn’t fully prepared for the major walking city that is NYC.

With that said, I want to share my realizations with you all just in case you’re heading on a trip to a major pedestrian city anytime soon. These are some things to consider and might save you from being sore, tired, and uncomfortable by the end of the day.


1. Travel Light

Now, I don’t mean pack light for your travels to the city… but you might want to do that anyway. I mean pack light for your travel around the city. Being from Atlanta, a city that relies heavily on driving, I never thought twice about the things I carried around with me. This is partly because I never had to physically carry them for long. But that all changed during my recent trip to New York City. As you all may know, NYC is a walking city; therefore, whatever you bring with you for the day, you will literally have to carry for the whole day. I made the mistake of packing heavier, as I usually do, and I learned my lesson very quickly as my arms began to fatigue early on in the day from holding my heavy bag. Maybe you don’t need your big sunglasses case, 10 lip products, and your big bulky wallet with every single membership card you own. Instead, you might just need your ID, one or two cards, and chapstick. It’ll be way easier for you to carry around, and it’s less for you to worry about.


2. Backpack or Crossbody > Purse or Handbag

This tip is more for the ladies but opt for a smaller bag, preferably one whose weight can be evenly distributed across both shoulders. Again, I made the mistake of bringing a shoulder bag to the city and boy did I feel it in my shoulders by the end of the day. I was constantly switching my bag from shoulder-to-shoulder, hoping to give one a break while the other worked. I highly suggest that you skip the issue altogether and just get a small backpack or cross body. You won’t have to deal with as much fatigue throughout the day and probably won’t be as sore the following day either.


3. Your Shoes Matter

On my first day in NYC, I walked over 11 miles. Yup, I walked 6k. I really thought the shoes I wore were great because they usually got the job done in Atlanta. But in New York, that was a different story. Now, I completely acknowledge that the average person may not walk 11 miles during their typical day in New York. I’d love to pretend that I was really on the move and sightseeing, I actually walked that far because I got lost…very lost… multiple times. 😬 With that aside, I still recommend you wear your best walking shoes. I wore Converses and I began to regret that decision on mile four. There were seven more miles to go that day. 😩


4. Google Maps & City Mapper

Shout out to mobile GPS apps… they’re the real MVP! But honestly, I would have been so lost, I mean even more lost than I already was, if it wasn’t for these apps. They do a great job of giving you the most efficient routes to your destinations, as well as a range of pricing options to get there. For example, Uber is more expensive than the subway, but it’s more efficient, so depending on your budget and the time you have to get there you could choose your preferred mode of transportation accordingly. I found myself going between these apps to get to where I wanted to go, find food, and much more.

So I hope these tips gave you something to think about next time you head into a major walking city. I really wish I had thought more about these things before my trip, but these were great lessons learned, and I got the chance to share them with you guys.

If you liked this post or found it helpful, be sure to share it on social media and subscribe to my blog, so you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

Through My Eyes: Goose Island

Hello, everyone! I hope this post finds you in good spirits! If you follow me on Snapchat (@kidsyd_44) you may have seen a few, well maybe more than a few, snaps of me at a Goose Island event a few weeks back. If it looked like I was having fun, I was! But before I tell you all about the event, you might be interested to know how I got there. Well no worries, I’m covering all that and more with pictures, snapchats, and a video in this blog post.


How I Got There

One day I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers, Erik Conover, and he mentioned that he was partnered up with Goose Island for their Road to the Harvest event. He said that there was a contest going on, and all we, as his subscribers, had to do was Instagram a picture of our latest adventure and include a few hashtags for a chance to win a trip to the event as well. The incentives were the free trip of course, and the opportunity to meet him.

Having recently come back from Ireland (if you’re curious about that trip you can read about it here) I had plenty of adventure pics, some of which had already made their way onto Instagram. So with a few clips and an edited caption, I submitted my photo.

 

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The winning photo!

 

Weeks went by, and I thought nothing of it. I mean, I never win these things… I never even enter them. But sure enough, I got an email saying that I had won! 😲 Yup, you read it right. I won! Confused and excited I read through the contract and quickly accepted my offer. The best part was that I could bring a friend. Well, to make a long story short, everyone I asked who I thought might be interested in luxury camping and beer had other plans. So once again, I was faced with the dilemma, to go by myself or not to go at all.

I think we all know which one I chose. 😉

So with that said, on August 18th I packed my bags, got on a plane (2 planes) and found myself on a bus from Spokane, Washington to Bonners Ferry, Idaho for Goose Island’s Road to the Harvest!


What is Road to the Harvest?

I’m sure you’re wondering what this event was all about. Road to the Harvest is an event focused on the harvesting of Goose Island’s hops for the following year’s brews. This event celebrates the harvest by bringing contest winners, influences, and distributors together to learn more about Goose Island beer, how the hops are harvested and to celebrate.

But this can only take place in one location, Bonners Farry, Idaho, where the Goose Island hops are grown. Now I don’t expect you to know exactly where that is, but it is extremely far north. We were 10 miles away from the Canadian border, and lucky for me, the bus I was on to get to Elk Mountain Farms overshot the destination by exactly 10 miles allowing me to see the Canadian border. 🙌🏾

 

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I saw the Canadian border!!
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I missed the other “Welcome to Idaho” sign from Washington so I got the one close to the Canadian border.


Camping? No, Glamping!!

I like nature, but I wouldn’t say I’m a camping kind of girl. I’m the girl who wants to go on a hike, but also wants to sleep in her own bed that night. But glamping definitely changed my perspective! Now, I know glamping is exactly what is says… glamerous camping, and this would be unrealistic in many other normal, non-contest winner circumstances, but I made the most of my glamp. Honestly, I think I slept better there than I do at home, and despite it getting cold at night, the blankets and comforter were superb.

It was what I would imagine VIP camping at Coachella to be like!

Not pictured (or snapchatted) were the luxury showers and bathrooms. They were in trailers so at first I didn’t expect much, but again, I was pleasently surpised.


The Ultimate Dining Experience!

One of the major draws to Road to the Harvest is the opportunity to have a meal prepared by an iron chef served in the middle of a hops field. It was as amazing as it sounds people! For those of you Bravo Iron Chef fanatics, I was fortunate enough to have a meal prepared by Stephanie Izard. 😱 For those who don’t know, she is best known for being the first female chef to win Top Chef.

Residing in Chicago, she has three restaurants, The Girl and The Goat, Little Goat, and Duck Duck Goat, which are all to die for, especially for you foodies out there. But considering I haven’t had a proper visit to Chicago yet, I’m glad I was given this amazing opportunity to dine with food prepared by her outside of the Windy City.

 

Now, she prepared the meal the first night I arrived and it truly was amzing. But every other meal we were given at the farm was prapred and served by renowned chefs as well. To say the least, I did not go hungry. I walked away from every meal stuffed!


Learning About Hops

If you can recall from my Ireland blog post, I don’t really drink beer. That little taste of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse was my introduction to beer, and it didn’t go over too well. Since then, I hadn’t tried any other beers. But while in Rome (or Elk Mountain Farms) you do as the Romans do. I’m happy to say, this time around I liked it so much more. I enjoyed it more because…

  1. It tastes WAY better than Guinness.
  2. I got a first-hand look into how the beer was made.

  

I, along with everyone in the group, examined the hops in the fields, watched them get picked, witnessed the drying process, and finally saw them get packed away to be turned into beer as we know it. To say the least, I had, and still have, more respect for what actually goes into making Goose Island beer. Gaining that perspective made the beer taste that much better in my opinion.


🙌🏾 The Entertainment🙌🏾

With everything I had experienced already, I truly felt spoiled, but the surprises didn’t stop there. During our down time, Goose Island had a hot air balloon come on the property to take event goers for a ride. Again, I couldn’t believe it. 😱 Taking a ride in a hot air balloon had been on my bucket list for quite some time, and while the ride was short, I’m still proud to check it off my bucket list.

Fun Fact: I’m afraid of heights, so that was really a stretch for me. 😬

Also, Wilco, the band, hosted a private concert for us in the hops field. While I had never listened to their music before, I really liked them! They honestly performed like they were in front of a crowd of thousands when in reality there were probably under 300 people there.

What I found most entertaining during their concert was one of their guitarists, Nels Cline. He was so into the performance! See snapchats below.👇🏾😂

   
There you have it, folks! My time at Elk Mountain Farms with Goose Island in a nut shell. If the snapchats and pictures weren’t enough, I made a mini video of what it was like to be at the event through my eyes. Check it out!

Oh, and as a side note, I did get a chance to meet the YouTuber who made this all possible for me, Erik Conover. He is an awesome guy and just like he seems in his video, down to earth. If you don’t know who he is, check out his YouTube channel. He makes awesome travel content, so if you have an affinity for wanderlust, you’ll love his stuff.

Erik, if you’re reading this, thank you!

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If you liked this blog, please be sure to share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

Through My Eyes: Ireland

In early May I took a trip to Ireland. It was kind of spontaneous except for the fact that I had been planning it since November. So, maybe it wasn’t as spontaneous as I claim it was, but what was so special about this trip was that I booked it by myself, with no friends.

While it wasn’t exactly a solo trip for reasons I will explain later, it was pretty close. In the past year, I’ve become so much more comfortable with doing things for myself, by myself, because I want to. I genuinely enjoy my own company and have come to realize that sometimes you just have to do things, whether people want to join you or not.

I love to travel and really want to make it a major part of my life, but as many travel enthusiasts know, getting people to join you can be a struggle.

Most people like the idea of travel.

Few people like the idea of planning.

But even fewer people like putting money aside to make it happen.

Often times the conversations go like this….You tell a friend about an awesome place you want to go. They agree that it would be just as awesome. You begin to plan the logistics and when you present it to them with the price, all of a sudden they are no longer interested.

Suddenly they have to take care of something that was of no importance moments before, and that responsibility falls on the exact dates of your trip.

Now, I don’t blame them. To some extent, travel isn’t necessary, and it can be pretty pricey, especially for recently graduated college students. But just because travel isn’t important to others doesn’t mean you have to put my dreams aside.

My motto for this year has slowly become, “Do it, because if you wait for others to make plans, you’ll be waiting a lifetime.”


So enough about the motivation behind this trip, let’s talk about the actual trip.

On May 6th, I boarded a flight at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to Dublin. Somehow I got the last seat available on the plan, which was crazy because my flight had been booked since March. I guess it was typical airline overbooking.😑 (The lesson here is, always arrive early to your flight… or early enough. Personally, I’m not about arriving 2-3 hours before for my flight. But I’m also not about missing my flight either.)

With that said, when you’re the last seat, you are definitely a middle seat, and so I was for the eight-hour trip across the pond. I didn’t sleep at all, and my excuse is not because I was uncomfortable. I actually had a pleasant flight, but why sleep when you can catch up on every movie you never went to see in theaters? (BTW… Delta’s international in-flight service and movie selection are a 10/10. I would definitely recommend!)

Fast forwarding to landing in Dublin… I got through customs and met up with my travel group in the airport. Now would be a good time to talk about how this was not a solo trip.

I booked this trip with a travel company called EF College Break that creates and hosts fun trips year around for people between the ages of 18-28. I chose Ireland because it was a trip that worked with my schedule, wasn’t too long or short, and was one of the cheapest tours they offered.

I chose EF because their prices are reasonable, they literally do everything for you (even book your flight), they are a trusted name in the travel industry, and they provide a “no interest” payment plan for you to pay off your trip before going, without breaking the bank.

If you’re interested in booking a trip through EF and want a $100 discount, send me an email at sydumeri@gmail.com. You’ll get $100 off on your next trip and so will I! 😄

So back to the story… once we were all at the airport and past customs, our tour guide/trip director got us on a bus and on our way to North Dublin. We stayed at The Generator. It’s an excellent hostel on the north side of Dublin, steps way from the River Liffey, and there is an awesome cafe/bar downstairs.

On the first day, we were all just getting acquainted with the area and each other. It was wonderful, but I literally felt like I was dying from lack of sleep. One thing about me is that if I’m tired, I really can’t fake it. My eyes were closing in mid conversation with people. Talk about a good first impression! 😬 Due to a major lack of sleep and being up almost 24 hours straight, the majority of that day was a blur to me. All I remember is walking the streets of Dublin trying to familiarize myself with where I was.

While in Dublin, I saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and went to the Guinness Storehouse among other things. While St. Patrick’s Cathedral was interesting, and Trinity College was well… a college. I’m sure what most people want to hear about is the Guinness Factory, so that can be found below, as well as small write-ups on other places I visited while exploring Ireland.


Guinness Storehouse

Disclaimer: Before going to the Guinness Storehouse, I had never had a beer.

The Guinness Storehouse was pretty impressive. First of all, the building is shaped like a huge pint (of Guinness… duh). It’s basically a huge museum for Guinness beer. As you walk from the first floor to the top, you are told of the history of Guinness, how it’s made, and a little bit about their advertising history. On the way to the top, you also get the opportunity to experience a Guinness tasting and/or pour your own pint.

I decided to do the Guinness tasting. It was interesting, to say the least. Everyone in the room (you had to be of age, so 18-years old) got a shot size amount of Guinness, and then the guides taught us how to drink it properly.

According to them, you have to swish it around in your mouth before swallowing to experience all of the flavors. I confirmed I wasn’t missing out on anything by not drinking beer or Guinness to be exact.

After the tasting, it was off to the races. Everyone just wanted to go to the Gravity Bar. The Gravity Bar is at the top of the Guinness Storehouse and is where you can enjoy a full pint while looking out over all of Dublin. It was definitely a cool experience, and I enjoyed the views, but I genuinely couldn’t bring myself to take another sip of Guinness let alone attempt to finish a pint. I happily enjoyed the views and gave my pint to one of my group members before making my way down to the gift shop where I browsed but made no purchases.

 

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Guinness Storehouse

 

 


Belfast

Earlier in the day, before going to the Guinness Storehouse, our tour guide, about 50% of our group, and I went to Belfast, Ireland, which is in Northern Ireland. We learned about the history of Ireland, its separation from the UK and much more. But one of the primary reasons we traveled to Belfast was to see the Titanic Museum. Belfast specifically, is most known for building the Titanic.

Disclaimer: Belfast built the ship. They didn’t sink it!

I’ve never been a big Titanic fanatic, but it was awesome to learn more about it and be in the location where it was built. I also got a chance to see the Titanic’s much smaller sister ship, the Nomadic, which was cool as well.

 

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Writing on the walls that divided Ireland for years. (No laws were broken in the making of this photo. 😬)

 


Glendalough Forest Park

Braveheart, P.S. I Love You, Leap Year and Black Lake are just a few of many movies that have been filmed at Glendalough Forest Park. To say the least, it was beautiful being out in nature and standing at places where particular scenes in popular movies were shot.

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Glendalough Forest Park

Blarney Castle

This might sound bad, but even after visiting Blarney Castle, I still couldn’t tell you why it’s significant. I just remember that it’s tradition to kiss the Blarney Stone. The stone is known as the Stone of Eloquence, so after kissing it, you’re supposed to be one smooth talker.

 

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Kissing the Blarney Stone. Anticlimactic and unflattering.

 

Update: Nothing has changed. I speak and sound the same.

Everything around the castle was beautiful! They had so many gardens, waterfalls, streams, etc. So if you’re one for beautiful views, I highly recommend you visit.


Ring of Kerry

From Dublin, my group and I made our way to Kerry, Ireland. It was quite the drive, but for some reason, drives are far less boring in foreign places. The landscape of Ireland is beautiful and for me looking out the window never got old.

Ultimately the Ring of Kerry, is basically a big circle, more like a figure eight, with different spots to stops along the way. We stopped at many different places, lookouts, waterfalls, beaches, etc. and each place looked so different than the last. Though I consider myself to be a “city girl,” being surrounded by nature was awesome.

 

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Locations and views on the Ring of Kerry.

 

 

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Locations on views the Ring of Kerry.

 


Galway

This was hands down my favorite spot of the whole trip! Galway is fantastic for many reasons, some of those reasons are, 1) it’s a college town, so the population of people there is very young 2) the shopping area or main street (Quay Street) is wonderful. You can find anything and everything you need from food to souvenirs, etc. But 3) it’s right on the water.

Almost every morning in Ireland I would run to familiarize myself with where I was and to get a good workout in. The morning I attempted to go running in Galway I ended up running for two minutes, stopping, walking, and taking pictures for the rest of the time. I “ran” along the shore where there were swans, seagulls, and the island of Causeway in the distance. It was about as fairytale-like as it gets.

 

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Good morning from Galway!

 


Cliffs of Moher

On our way to Galway, we stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, which is one of the primary reasons I wanted to go to Ireland. It was beautiful!

Disclaimer: Parts of the Cliffs are roped off for tourists to walk, and other parts are not. In my opinion, to get quality pictures, you have to go where they claim it’s not safe to go. I’m not recommending it, I’m just being honest. Ropes and signs can really ruin a quality picture.

 

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Cliffs of Moher

 

Despite how breathtaking the Cliffs were, my excitement while there faded very quickly and for a good reason. There were so many signs talking about mental health, suicide, and things of that nature.

On a more somber note, the Cliffs of Moher is actually the number one place in Europe to commit suicide, and once that became a reality to me, it actually took the fun out of being there. It was still beautiful though!


Aran Islands

The Aran Islands were our last stop, and they were… interesting. We only went to one Island, but one was enough. The locals of the island don’t have much, and there isn’t much going on.  It felt quite underdeveloped, as they had just got cable TV on the island within the past decade. It was just weird to take a 45-minute boat ride and go from having everything at your fingertips to nothing, especially while still being in a first world and highly developed country. To say the least, it was eye-opening.

Regardless, the Islands had some of the best souvenir shops and also Don Aonghasa, which is another famous cliff in Ireland. There is nothing like a beautiful view that you don’t see every day to cap off your time in a beautiful country.

 

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Don Aonghasa

 


So with all of that said, my trip was wonderful! I could literally write for days and continue to explain parts of my experience, but who has time for that? Instead, I’ve put together a less than two-minute video of my time there. It captures many of the sights I saw while abroad, a few of my group members, and is ultimately a mini video travel diary for me to look back on in the future. I hope you enjoy seeing Ireland through my eyes!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life.

Travel Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but there is something about a full flight that really stresses me out. The stress and anxiety are in full effect on flights where I have both a carry-on and a personal item. If you know me, that’s is all the time! I rarely check a bag, and if you listen to the advice of many travel experts, they’ll tell you to avoid doing so as well.

By only bringing a carry-on you’ll eliminate the chances of your luggage getting lost and can hit the ground running when you land. But nobody ever talks about the stress of bringing a carry-on onto a full flight.


It all starts at the beginning of the boarding process for me. As the gate attendants are getting their premier, skymile, platinum, gold, and whatever else they call their most valued customers through the boarding gate they make an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a full flight. If you would like to check your roller bag to your final destination, please come to the gate desk.”

This statement usually makes me cringe because with my luck I’m in one of the last boarding groups. That means no overhead space for me. Also, full flight make me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’m claustrophobic, and I don’t know it, or maybe I simply don’t like the boarding process.

Does it ever feel like everyone who’s already seated is staring at you? It literally gives me anxiety just writing about it. Plus you have the pressure to move quickly because you don’t want to be the person holding up the whole boarding process.

This brings me to my main point. It’s so stressful to move quickly during the boarding process when there is no overhead space. You have to get creative, and hopefully, there is some space before you reach your seat. But if there isn’t, you have to walk toward the back to find some. Usually by then, flight attendants are telling you that the overhead bins in the back are full, and you should take whatever space you see available.

So you’re stuck with a rolling carry-on that’s kinda heavy, well mine always are, and you have to do that awkward “Excuse me. Pardon me,” song-and-dance back to the front until you can find space or can shuffle other people’s bags around to create space.

Let’s pause there. Some people are really protective of their bags. Once they put them in the bin they don’t want anyone else to touch them. For some people, this stands true even if they put their bag in the wrong way or could just shift it over a tad to create a little more space for someone else’s bag. This scenario has definitely happened to me, but most of the time people are pretty nice.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “You could have just checked the bag for free before boarding.” In some cases, if I know I’ll have time on my hands when arriving at my final destination, I will. But most of the time I don’t have time and checking a bag would defeat the purpose of me fitting my whole life into a carry-on in the first place.

So instead I uses these three trips to deal with my full flight and carry-on anxiety.

1. Talk to your gate agents about possible upgrades, or changing your group number.

Sometimes you just have to turn on the charm. A big smile and bright eyes never hurt anybody. The worst they can say is no, but usually, they’re pretty accommodating. By upgrading your seat or changing your group number, you most likely will be able to board earlier without all of the hassle, and most importantly,when there is more overhead space.

2. Ask about courtesy/valet bag checking?

This is where you get a tag and leave your bags at the end of the boarding tunnel right before you get on. Then at the end of that specific flight, you line up to retrieve your bag just outside of the plane doors. This is way more convenient than check a bag because it’s generally quicker, free and saves you the anxiety of pacing the plane aisle looking for an overhead spot.

3. Board early anyway.

Now, I’m not super proud of this tip, but it gets the job done. I only recommend this if you notice your gate agent isn’t really looking at the tickets as they allow people to board. If they just scan them and let people go, then feel free to jump in with one of the earlier regular boarding groups. Flashing a smile to keep them from looking too heavily at your ticket is a good idea too.


While I know many of you are unbothered with boarding a full flight with carry-on luggage, I hope those of you who share my same travel anxiety and discomfort got a few ideas on how to navigate the situation. Feel free to leave tips on how you combat travel anxiety in the comments down below.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life!

Road Trip Tips

Recently, I decided to drive home from Lawrence, Kansas to Atlanta, Georgia. To give you some context, I’d never completed a road trip over three hours by myself, but for some reason, I was extremely confident in my ability to drive half a day.

I had wanted to make this trip ever since my dad drove 12 hours and 30 minutes to drop off my car and a few other things as I settled into my new school last August. (If you don’t know, I go to the University of Kansas, and I’m a graduate student.) I was so appreciative that he gave up his weekend to bring me my things that I was determined not to make him or my mom have to do that again.

You see, my parents helped me move out after graduating from the University of Virginia. While I really appreciated it, I didn’t think that was necessary this time. I had far fewer things and didn’t think they needed to spend their weekend driving up to Kansas to meet me and then back down to Georgia with all of my stuff. Also, a solo road trip was on my 2017 bucket list/resolutions, and this was my opportunity!

This process was an interesting one considering it wasn’t just a road trip, I was moving. Nonetheless, I learned some pretty interesting lessons along the way, and have some tips to share as you prepare for your next road trip.

Snacks
This goes without saying but yes, you will get hungry and stopping every hour or two can really delay your travel. I like to knock out as much of the trip as I can and only stop for gas. While stopped for gas, I can get food at a local eatery and use the restroom. Outside of that, I’m not stopping.

But if you know me at all, you know I like to snack. I decided to pack my favorite healthy bars (jimmy bars), trail mix, and fruit. I also packed a gallon of water. I know it might sound contradictory… pack a lot of water but don’t use the restroom? Well, you still have to stay hydrated my friends. The gallon of water I packed came in handy as I would have run out of water within the first few hours if I used my Swell water bottle.

Playlists and Podcasts
The radio sucks when you’re driving across the country (unless you have XM radio) and when you’re going solo, you don’t have anyone in the passenger’s seat to keep you engaged and focused on the drive. This is where Spotify comes in.

Yes, you can easily use iTunes, but I prefer Spotify because I can make my own playlists, and when I’m tired of them, I can listen to someone else’s. With that said, finding a few good Spotify playlists before you take off is a must.

I also recommend podcasts and audiobooks, but I didn’t really use them for my ride. What helped me the most was a playlist I put together of old songs from middle school, high school, and the first two years of undergrad. I blasted the songs, knew all of the words, I sang along at the top of my lungs, and gave a car concert performance for anyone who drove past me and dared to look in my direction.

Pro tip: Spotify Premium is a must on road trips. That guarantees no commercials, and trust me, the commercial will kill your vibe. If you’re a student, you can get Spotify for $4.99 a month. It’s worth it!

Hotel Tonight app
While I didn’t use this app, it could definitely come in handy if you need to stop and get some sleep during your drive. Hotel Tonight is an app where they post local hotels that have open rooms for the night. The prices are discounted and relatively cheap because the hotel would rather have people stay there and make some money than none at all.

Pro tip: The earlier in the afternoon you can book the more options you have and the better your price.

Packing your car

For most road trips you won’t have to pack your car to the brim, but I did since I was moving my life to a different state. My biggest lesson learned was if you are putting things in your passenger’s seat, buckle the seatbelt before doing so. I didn’t do that and found out the hard way that the annoying (but lifesaving) ringing/beeping noise cars makes to remind you to buckle up will go off, and it will last a little while. While most cars are smart enough to stop the noise after a while, just avoid it all together by buckling the seatbelt before you stack heavy items onto your passenger’s seat. You will thank yourself for this later!

I hope you found these road trips tips helpful and that your upcoming road trips go smoothly. Leave a comment below with any road trip tips you have or lessons you learned the hard way after traveling. I know I have quite a few.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life.

Wanderlust Bucket List

Last year I was fortunate enough to travel to Paris and Nice, France and Montreux, Switzerland with my division one college basketball team for our foreign tour. While across the pond, I realized just how amazing it is to experience other cultures and learn about how other people live life outside of America. The whole experience sparked a huge movement of wanderlust within me, and now all I do is dream about where I want to visit next. We all have places that we’ve always wanted to visit, and for me to be able to go to many of these locations, it will take a lot of planning and a considerable amount of money. Though a broke college student, I still hope to visit these places in the near future, so here is a list of five places I would love to visit, and a few activities/locations in those cities that I must experience while I’m there.

We all have places that we’ve always wanted to visit, and for me to be able to go to many of these sites, it will take a lot of planning and a considerable amount of money. Though a broke college student, I still hope to visit these locations in the near future. So here is a list of five places I would love to visit, and a few activities/locations in those cities that I must experience while I’m there.


 Dubai

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about visiting Dubai until I looked into an MBA program that would allow me to study there for 6 weeks. Now, I’m still unsure if I want to apply to the MBA program, but am firm in my thoughts that I need to visit Dubai. Just from the pictures, it looks like a beautiful and amazing city, but here are a few places I have to check off of my bucket list when I go.

Burj Khalifa

 

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Burj Khalifa

 

This is the tallest building in the world, and it beats its closest competition by 1000 feet. I’m not even a fan of heights, but it would be unfortunate to go all the way to Dubai and not go up to the Burj Khalifa observation deck.

The Palm Islands

 

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Palm Islands

 

The Palm Islands are man-made islands, where each branch of the palm is home to beautiful beaches, million dollar hotels, homes, and even shopping malls. I would love to explore the Palm Islands in two ways. First, through tram or subway to actually see what it’s like to be on the ground there. Second, by helicopter, because it would be awesome to witness the sheer magnitude and beauty of these islands from above.

Desert Safari

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Desert of Dubai

Just as I want to see the city, I definitely have to see the desert too. In my mind I picture myself riding through the desert on a camel or sand surfing, but rolling through the sandy dunes of Dubai on a 4×4 doesn’t sound so bad either. Whatever form of transportation I use, seeing the desert is definitely on my bucket list.


Cape Town

After watching Ben Brown and Nicole Eddy vlogs on YouTube, I’m sold on the fact that Cape Town is a place I must visit. First, I highly recommend that you go watch their vlogs. Nicole is from South Africa so much of her content shows her doing fun things around the city of Cape Town. Once you see some of the amazing activities she does, Cape Town will be on your bucket list as well!

Boulders Beach

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Boulders Beach

This isn’t your average beach… there are penguins! Who doesn’t love penguins? I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day that you get to interact with some of nature’s most interesting creatures in such a warm climate. I’ll be sure to bring my camera and you should too!

Table Mountain & Lion’s Head

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Table Mountain & Lion’s Head

I wouldn’t say I’m a big outdoorsy person, but I’m definitely one for a view. I would love to hike Table Mountain all the way to Lion’s Head not only for the great workout but for the fantastic view. You can see the whole city from up there!

Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

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Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

Ever wonder why we have five oceans, but in reality, it’s all one big body of water? Well, here is the spot where you can see the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Trust me, you can really see the difference when the cold water from the west meets the warm water from the east. This activity ranks right up there with standing on the equator for me.


Vancouver

After spending the majority of my summer in the pacific northwest, I have a big appreciation for the weather, landscape, and overall beauty of the area. I’ve heard it only gets prettier as you head north into Canada. Sad that I didn’t make the trip to Vancouver when I was only five hours away, I plan to head back to the Northwest sometime in the near future to see all that Vancouver has to offer.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

Why not get your heart racing as you cross a 450-foot suspension bridge hanging 230 feet above the Capilano River? It’s a true tree top adventure! While this is supposedly not a free experience, if you’re running a little low on cash you can always cross the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge instead, it’s free.

Granville Island Public Market

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Granville Island Public Market

There is nothing like a public market. Fresh food, good people, and excellent homemade healthy products for sale. The market on Grandville Island is considered to be a gem of Vancouver, so if you’re ever hungry, and you will be, be sure to head that way for a bite to eat.

Gastown

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Gastown

Cobblestone streets, beautiful Victorian architecture, and an iconic steam clock can all be found in Gastown. Gastown is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Vancouver for tourists to visit, so why not check it off of your bucket list? There are beautiful shop and restaurants everywhere, so you won’t get board.


Iceland

Yes, Iceland is a country, not a city, but there were just too many awesome activities and place to visit that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one city.

Blue Lagoon

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Blue Lagoon

While the Blue Lagoon isn’t a natural lagoon, it’s still pretty cool! It originally started as a small pool of runoff water from a geothermal plant nearby. Now, out of Iceland’s 1.3 million annual visitors, 70% visit the lagoon. Just as a heads up, the lagoon is 50 minutes away from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. While many people fly into Reykjavik, the lagoon is actually closer to the Keflavik airport, so plan accordingly.

Northern Lights

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Northern Lights

There are only so many places in the world that you can see the Northern Lights and Iceland is one of them. Finally, a light show that you don’t have to pay for and it’s all natural! The Northern Lights shine when charged particles from the sun enter the atmosphere and collide with gas atoms. But put simply, the world is kind of amazing and everyone once in a while, it gives you a breathtaking lights show, so don’t miss out!

Crystal Caves

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Crystal Caves

I would love to take a tour of an ice cave. While they are a bit pricy, around $150 USD, I think it’s worth it. When will you ever get another chance to do this? I’m sure there is nothing like walking through a cave walled with ice, and all you can see are different shades of blue surrounding you. It definitely takes exploring to a whole new level!


Santorini

Does Greece ever sound like a bad idea? I didn’t think so. If you’re a beach person, you can’t go wrong with visiting Santorini. Chances are you’ve already seen a million pictures of the place on Pinterest. And if you’re an Instagram fanatic, the architecture and beachy back drop will totally be your aesthetic, just bring your camera and start snapping.

See the Blue Domes

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Blue Domes

 

It’s one thing to see these domes in pictures, but I would rather see them for myself. Not only is the whole area aesthetically pleasing with the white buildings and blue domes, but I couldn’t think of a more instagramable picture. Grab and friend and have a photo shoot. It’s not like you go to Santorini every day.

Red Beach

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Red Beach

Just steps away from the ancient site of Akrotiri, you can walk the volcanic and rocky beach of Red Beach. While the beach is small and often crowded, it’s worth the experience, even if it’s just to see it from afar.

Museum of Wine

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Koutsoyannopoulos Winery

I don’t like to drink, but I will make an exception for wine, and I’m sure wine tastes better in paradise. The Koutsoyannopoulos family has a museum of wine in the beautiful village of Messara, and the museum is housed in a natural cave. After the tour, you get a chance to taste four of the best wines that the winery produces. If you claim to not be a wine person, you probably haven’t been drinking the best ones. Why not start in Santorini?

These are just a few of the places that I’m dying to visit and hopefully I can do so in the next year or two. While the list goes on-and-on, I would love to hear where you guy plan on visiting, or even places that you just wanderlust about. Share them in the comment below!