Posts

posts, travel

Friends in all places

The first thing I always try to do on a big trip is: make friends! No matter where you’re going or who you’re going with a friend on the way isn’t going to hurt you. Chat up the bellman when you’re checking into a hotel, or ask the taxi driver where his favorite place to eat is. Locals love it when travelers genuinely care about the places they’re going and connecting with people will help you feel more grounded.

Chat up the bellman when you’re checking into a hotel, or ask the taxi driver where his favorite place to eat is. Locals love it when travelers genuinely care about the places they’re going and connecting with people will help you feel more grounded.

fullsizeoutput_2ef

When I took my first solo trip, which was to Greece, I was terrified that I would be doing so many fun things, but that I wouldn’t have anyone to share my experiences with. Once I made a few friends I quickly loosened up.

Making friends while traveling will also teach you about their culture as well as the culture of the place you’re traveling.

For instance, there is no way a person can spend two weeks with a group of Australians and not pick up some of their lingoes. Like substituting “Avro” for “Afternoon” or saying “How good?” ironically when you know that something is very good.

The friends that you make while traveling will be life-long companions. Whether they’re tourists or locals they will be an asset.

They will be people you meet up with when you travel to their home cities, personal tour guides or places to stay. They will be memory boxes; people you can reminisce with about past travels. Or they will be fleeting experiences that do not last forever but do make an impact.

In any situation, when you have the chance to make a travel friend, take it!

Some quick tips on how to make friends

fullsizeoutput_2b4

Advertisements
posts

There is nothing wrong with taking a staycation

According to the dictionary, a staycation is “a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

To me, a staycation is a trip where it takes less than five hours to reach your destination. Since I am from the U.S.A five hours does not get you very far travel-wise; I can’t even leave my state.

However, this does not mean that I can’t take a staycation. There is so much to discover about wherever you live if you do a little bit of research.

I am from Florida so almost all of my staycations involve being on the water. From weekends at the beach to snorkeling in springs, to sporting in lakes. We never leave the water, and that’s how I like it. AF53195C-0DF8-4F41-9E36-1AAF9CC3B07A.jpeg

Since a staycation is not usually a big event, usually you don’t spend a lot of money on it. My most recent staycations were to Clearwater Beach, Fl and North Naples, Fl. I love going to little spots I’ve never been to that are close to me where I can still live like a local! For instance, this picture is from the edge of a tiki bar in Clearwater Beach.

There is no shame in needing to get away from stress at home, a staycation is perfect if you cannot take much time off work, or if your budget is lacking. It’s also good if you want to bring a few friends along, everyone can pile into a car, and hotels can be cheap because you aren’t staying there for long periods of time.

Airbnb’s are great for staycations, and trip advisor can give you insights on activities you may have never heard of before.

Often when people think that they want to go traveling they imagine far away places, but you would be surprised at all the things to do relatively close to where you live now! There also aren’t as many things that can go wrong, you don’t have to worry about big problems because you’re not far from home if there’s a problem!

If you want some additional ideas for things to do on a staycation you can find them here! Step out of your comfort zone, open your mind to the things right under your nose!

 

posts

The time I jumped off a cliff in Santorini

I really want to start this off by saying that Greece is the most beautiful place I have ever visited.

That’s not an easy decision either, Ireland and Scottland are definitely up there. However, I am a die-hard beach brat who loves being in the sun.

Summer 2016 I was blessed enough to be able to spend two amazing weeks with a Contiki tour group hopping the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Ios.

Santorini was our middle stop and by far the most laid back island we visited. The daredevil in me has always wanted to go cliff jumping and the whole trip I had been bugging my super cool tour guide for some inside information on the best spots to go jumping.

The night before our free day in Santorini he finally gave in and told my small group of girl friends I had made to talk to our hotel receptionist in the morning and she would get us situated.

So the next morning me and four other girls meet at the lobby bright and early to start our adventure.

My broken Greek and her broken English were not a problem because as soon as I mentioned “Cliff-jumping” her whole demeanor brightened. She gestured to all of us excitedly and when I nodded she quickly told me that she would call us a taxi right away.

Our 45-minute ride across the island, featuring beautiful landscapes and commentary from the driver, cost the lot of us only €40, but as we finally drove down a steep road none of us expected how beautiful our drop off spot would be.

If you’ve ever seen the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants you may recognize the bay as I did, not by name but by memory. As soon as I saw where we were I pointed out that this was the famous place from the movie (No one believed me).

If you’re traveling to Santorini and want to visit for yourself ask a local how to get to Amoudi Bay.

IMG_3430

The driver pulled right up to a concrete pier lined with open air cafes overlooking a small bay with the most gorgeous coloring I had ever seen. Behind the shops were rocky cliffs with a sudden incline leading to the town of Oia, which looked like white toy houses.

We were instructed to walk through the restaurants, around the edge of the island to a spot that we “Can’t miss.”

Walking through the bustling restaurants getting ready for lunch was fascinating, everyone looked at us in our swimwear knowingly, and the excitement only grew with how excited the locals seemed for our obvious path to their well-known spot.

The Agean splashed against the rocks to our right as we came around the bend, stumbled over some rocks on the path, and finally made it to the place that everyone had raved about.

Before us, was a flat outcropping on the land,.where people had laid towels down to sunbathe and someone had built a shelf to help swimmers more easily enter and exit the water.

Just beyond the edge of the land was a small island where someone had built a little church, with stairs, and a place to jump off of into the sea. The only way to get to it was to swim, which we did, and then to climb up the rocks to the stairs.

The water was clear and cool. You could watch your feet for prickly sea urchins, and it looked as if you are standing on the sea floor even though it’s so deep you can’t even touch it if you dive.

IMG_3434

Each of us jumped off of the around 20-foot cliff three times, I don’t think we could have taken much more.

The first time was amazing, I landed just right and immediately wanted to try again. The second time, my ears popped when I went too low in the water and I landed a little harder than the first. The third and final time I jumped the impact made me release the hold on my nose and salty sea water cleared out my sinuses extremely well.

I never wanted to leave the water, but by lunch time we were forced out by hunger and the cold. After sunbathing on our own a little bit we began the trek back to the cafes on the sea to eat lunch.

img_3478.jpg

As hungry as we were there was plenty of freshly caught seafood to sate us and we sat on the water watching the boats come in and out of the harbor until our taxi driver arrived again to take us back to our island home.

If someone had to ask me about my favorite day, it would be this one.

For anyone trying to spend two weeks in the best place on earth, here is my exact trip:

https://www.contiki.com/us/en/destinations/europe/tours/greek-island-hopping-131

 

posts

Now that you know that you want to go somewhere, here are some ways to start doing it

The first thing to do after you have decided you want to travel is to decide how you want to travel.

There are many ways to travel depending on your age and the level of comfort you want. the best way to figure out what you want if you’ve never traveled before is by asking around.

There are loads of travel groups and forums with real people testifying their experiences. These places are extremely friendly and are almost never backed by any companies, so you don’t have to worry about trying to be advertised to.

Another great travel resource that many younger people don’t consider nowadays are travel agents! I planned my six weeks in Europe almost exclusively with a travel agent and it was probably the best decision I made money-wise.

They do get paid commission so at first, they may try to upsell you, but if you know your budget they will honestly always be able to find you what you’re looking for in your price range. After all, if you don’t go they don’t get paid.

Travel agents also get pretty good deals to offer to their customers, which is great for travelers on a budget.

Another resource I highly recommend is credit cards that allow you to gain points as you spend. Whether you’re buying groceries or plane tickets, you will be basically getting paid to spend money you were already going to spend.

Save your spare change, find out how much of your paycheck you can live without and save that piece for travel, you can even start cutting unnecessary expenses out of your daily budget. Do you really need that second cup of coffee or new handbag? The sacrifices you make today will be rewarding in your travels.

The first book I read when I began to plan my Europe trip is called “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” by Matt Kepnes. If you don’t want to get his book he also has a website you can checkout called “Nomadicmatt.com” where he posts some tips as well.

Getting an idea of where you want to go and then making real mental goals around it helps keep you motivated. Remember, the only one who can truly dissuade you from your goals is you. It’s okay to take the big jump.

IMG_3471
Cliff jumping off of small cliffs on a small island off of the coast of Santorini, Greece

 

 

posts

When trying to travel never say never

If you are looking for a sign to finally start getting serious about traveling, this is it. I am telling you now, you won’t regret it.

The hardest part of planning a trip is finding the motivation. Most people will tell you it’s impossible to save up enough money for a worthwhile vacation. Others will say that they never have enough time.

If you truly want to travel you’re the only person that can motivate yourself.FullSizeRender

You are just as capable as every other world traveler to get out there and see the world for yourself. Taking the road less traveled is extremely rewarding.

Putting your mind to what you want is the only way to get results. You don’t have to make big steps, you just have to believe in yourself. Doing a few little things each day can help you reach your goals.

Start a change bank, where you keep all of your loose change, that is dedicated to travel. I’ve even heard of the tip to save every $5 bill you receive instead of spending it right away. Things really do add up.

When I was in the fourth grade I became friends with a girl who lived down the street from me, so I would often visit her house.

Her dad was very young and adventurous. He had so many stories to tell about his adventures that because of him I fell in love with the idea of travel.

When I was nine years old I began saving money for my first big trip. I got it into my head that I wanted to backpack around Europe when I turned 18 and I didn’t let anything stop me.

My family thought it was cute at first, every birthday or Christmas I would separate some money out for my travel fund. As I got older I got into the habit of splitting any money I earned immediately. Half went to me and half went to my travel fund.

It was hard. No one is ever going to tell you that saving money is easy, but when you have a clear goal in your heart the only person that can stop you is you.

Of course, I wanted to spend the money on clothes, or the newest phones and accessories. The fact of the matter is most good things in life take sacrifices, and unless you are really lucky, traveling is going to take some work.

Some words of advice from my favorite travel book, “You sacrifice now because of the rewards later”

When I got into my junior year of high school I told my mom that I needed to talk to a travel agent, I had saved up enough money, and I was going to go on my trip right after graduation.

She couldn’t believe it. No one could believe I could do it but I did, and you can too! My mom ended up dipping into her savings so that she could accompany me on my trip and it was the time of my life.

I have memories that will last a lifetime and an insatiable travel bug that makes me want to start a new adventure every time I get the chance. But these things did not come from other people.

If I had listened to everyone else’s advice I never would have made it to my own trip, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends abroad, I wouldn’t have spent six weeks in 7 countries, and I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from experiencing greatness.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  -Robert Frost

Book mentioned: “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day”

If you have any travel anxiety you can find some helpful tips here.