Back in December, my best friend Mallory gave me a cigar box with two cards inside; one asked me if I would be her Maid of Honor and the other said, “Will you go to Cuba with me?” with a plane ticket attached. We set off on our Cuban adventure in February with two of our other closest friends. We had four days to visit, but you could spend months and never get bored. I have NEVER returned from a trip and received so many texts, DMs, emails, etc. from people asking me for tips and suggestions so I thought I’d make this easier for everyone to share with their friends, etc. by writing it all here. Below are some tips and tricks, as well as our itinerary. I linked to Instagram geolocations so you can visually see what these places are like. Hope this is helpful for everyone planning a trip to Cuba! exchange USD to CAD or Euro before you go and then to CUC when you arrive — much better exchange rate was very easy to get the visa, and to return to the US. There will be a special check in kiosk for travelers going to Cuba. We flew United from Newark. We walked up to a small desk, bought our visas (no one at the visa desk even questioned us), and then we went to check-in like you would for any normal flight; the woman there asked us our purpose for traveling to Cuba. I said journalism and showed her my camera, the other three girls said ‘people to people exchange.’ No one even questioned us at customs on the return. know that the money exchange at the airport has a HUGE line. we stood in it for 30 minutes and didn’t move so told our […]
A little over a month ago, I took off on a 10-day adventure to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Lucky for me, I had a 15-hour layover in Istanbul. I am finally finding the time to sort through my images. I couldn’t wait to post these two–definitely two of my favorites. Keep an eye out for the rest of the photos, as well as a ’12 Hours in Istanbul’ itinerary.
Packing is really hard. Packing is really really hard when you’re planning to be gone on a 4-month trip (which turned out to be 8 months), and planning on taking as little as possible, all while making sure everything fits into a carry-on bag. Oh, and not to mention having to shove a huge jumbo ziplock bag of Silly Bandz into that 22″ backpack–yeah, that made things a lot more difficult. If only I had talked to Jeff from the Eagle Creek marketing team before my trip; I could have packed much more quickly and efficiently. Check out my Q&A with Jeff on how to Overcome Packing Procrastination!
Most of you know that I was applying for the Jauntaroo Chief World Explorer position, a position that seemed ideal for me – traveling to 30-50 destinations in one year while taking photos, shooting videos, blogging, volunteering, and managing social media (with a $100,000 salary); what most of you don’t know, however, is that I was contacted last Sunday and told that I was one of the Top 100 candidates (out of over 3,000 original applicants!).
It’s always nice to get away from NYC for a weekend. Don’t get me wrong, every weekend in this city could be filled with trying new activities, eating at new restaurants, and exploring a new neighborhood. But, hopping on a five hour bus to Washington DC was a nice weekend getaway, especially for a music festival. Virgin Mobile’s Freefest; a lineup that included Robin Thicke, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, and Kaskade to name a few. Bags packed with raincoats and a change of clothes, we hopped on a party bus with about 25 other DC friends and headed to the soppy festival. The rain held off for a good five minutes and then it began to downpour, soaking everyone in sight. The pouring rain didn’t stop us from purchasing funnel cakes (I know you want it), french fries and beer, though. I think a good time was had by all.
One new text message, and it’s from ‘Ping from Cambodia.’ Sometimes that’s what I wake up to in the mornings. I met Ping at the Temples of Angkor one rainy day last October. He worked at the temple, and if you are one of the five people who read my blog, you may remember me talking about Ping this time last year in a post about my experience in Siem Reap. Little did I know that this Ping, this complete Cambodian stranger, would still be popping in and out of my life—unfortunately only my digital life, not my physical life—a year later. That’s the greatest/weirdest/craziest part about traveling—the people you meet. I’ve met a ton of people who have impacted my life over the years; Ping is just one of the ton. Ping texts me often, usually telling me how much he misses me and that I am his very best friend—we hung out for maybe an hour. One time we tried to Skype and it was an absolute disaster, (but it’s the thought that counts, right?), as the wifi at his house, or wherever he was, obviously wasn’t strong enough. After all, supporting your family on $200/month probably doesn’t give you the best of Internet connection. That’s what Ping does–he supports his family with the tiny amount of money that he is given to work at the temple. Ping also keeps me updated on my sweet little Pia, who I still can not get off my mind to this day. Pia and her mother were also mentioned in the same Siem Reap post from last October. Ping told us that Pia went to work with her mother at the temple every day, as her father had left them with no money and no support. Ping tells me that Pia […]
Three years ago (tomorrow), I set out on the journey of a lifetime — the summer 2010 voyage of Semester at Sea (SAS). What college student wouldn’t want to go on a 66-day voyage on a ‘floating university’ through the Mediterranean with 700 undergraduate students from all over the world? I was fortunate to see Canada, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco, all while making lifelong friends and earning a semester of college credit. SAS has given me friends from all over the world; I believe that if I visit any major city in the United States, there will be at least one fellow SAS’er there to share a drink with. Dubai, London, Beijing, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Miami, New York, DC, Chicago; these are just a few of the places that are home to some of my closest friends from Semester at Sea. A friend of a friend from SAS hosted me at her chic apartment in Copenhagen. SAS gave me Hannah–a friend who hosted me while in Beijing–who then introduced me to her friends that took me on the camping trip of a lifetime on the Great Wall of China. One of my favorite people that I have been blessed to know from Semester at Sea is Mallory; a neighbor on the ship who turned into my New York City (summer) roommate, which then led to us sharing an 8-month journey around the world together. I couldn’t have done any of it without Mal. Below, I have shared a couple of photos from the summer 2010 journey, as well as two photos of me with my Mallory–one is of us in the rice fields of Sapa, Vietnam and the other is us in cozy Sweden–along with the final video of the SAS Summer 2010 […]
Central America is a place that I believe Americans take for granted. It is so accessible it’s almost a joke. A three-hour (cheap) flight from Atlanta flies you directly into Guatemala City. Since our trip was a short one, we were only able to see Guatemala, Belize, and one beach in El Salvador. It was the perfect amount of time, and we did it all; hiking, kayaking, and swimming in some of nature’s prettiest pools in Guatemala, sailing and snorkeling the Belizean islands, and ending our trip by surfing in El Salvador, we were able see and do all that we wanted to do (and for cheap). Here is a video (but not really, because it’s mostly all photos), that I have put together entitled, ‘3 weeks, 3 countries: Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador.’ Photo diary coming soon! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzlAZLola8w&w=560&h=315]
Most of you probably know about ‘The Silly Bandz Project’ by now; for those of you who don’t, here is a brief runddown: During my time in Morocco during August 2010, I handed out Silly Bandz to a few kids that I met on the streets. They went crazy for them and when planning for my big RTW trip, I decided that I wanted to do something special for the kids that I would meet during my travels. I built a 5-page PDF explaining the trip to Silly Brandz Global, and requested a donation of Silly Bandz. Low and behold, 4,000+ Silly Bandz arrived at my doorstep in June 2012, right before my departure. Kids went crazy for the Silly Bandz, especially in SouthEast Asia. I documented the project through photos, and I have pulled some of my favorite images. A preview of the selected images is below; see all of my favorites shots from the project here.