Plans for the Upcoming Year

I am lucky enough to have a family that brings me on amazing trips almost every year and I cannot thank them enough for it. This year, the fam is venturing to Marco Island, Florida. I haven’t been to Florida since I went to Disney as a kid, so it’ll kind of be an entirely new experience for me. My parents have been thinking about moving down there after they retire so the trip is really half vacation/ half location hunting.

My mom is the planner of the group, so she rented a beautiful house along the canal to stay in for the week. It includes an enclosed pool, fishing access, and a bedroom for each of us. My family is funny when it comes to vacations because we all have different preferences. I am happy with going to the beach and relaxing for a week. My brother likes the country and open roads, so a road trip is his cup of tea. My dad can never stop moving, so any kind of place with a lot to do and see is perfect for him. My mom is the mediator, so she tries her hardest to make everyone happy. Last year we went to North Carolina (as previously mentioned) and that trip was more for my brother and dad. This year is more for me, because we’ll be by the beach and have a pool and will be able to hang out as a family.

This trip was planned awhile ago, but I just found out that I will probably be going on another one in the winter. My sister lives in California with her husband and she just broke the news that she is pregnant! I’ve never been to California and every time I asked to visit my dad said we will go when we have a reason to go. Well, a new nephew for me (and a grandson for him) is a perfect reason! So we will probably be going to visit sometime between September and December to see the new addition to the family. Sounds pretty awesome to me because not only do I get to travel more, I get to do it for an amazing reason. I can’t wait!!!!

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What to Pack in Your Carry-on

The perfect carry-on is difficult to pack but not impossible. There are many sites you can go that supply a check list of items that people should not forget to pack, but have you discovered the perfect carry-on bag? I have and its called the O.M.G. bag from Lo & Sons. Check this out.

It has a pocket for everything you could ever need. It includes sections for your laptop, your tablet, extra shoes, phone, make up, wallet, passport, and more. Instead of lumping all of your belongings into one or two pockets which creates havoc and could lead to losing things, this bag has a place for anything you may need which allows for easy access and makes it possible to remember where everything is.

So now that we picked the perfect bag, what do we need to pack? I like to create a list before I begin so I have everything written down. This way, it is easier to spot if I am missing something because everything is right in front of me. Let’s say you are traveling internationally, what do you need for the traveling process?

In my carry-on, I will pack my passport, plane tickets, wallet, phone, laptop (if needed), head phones, tissues, an extra shirt, my make up bag, and a snack or two. The first few items are obvious, but the last few may not be considered for a few of you. I bring an extra shirt because you can never be sure of the temperature that the plane will be compared to the temperature outside. Also, lets say you are traveling in the winter from New Jersey to the Bahamas. You will probably not want to wear the same shirt that you put on in Jersey while in the much hotter Bahamas weather. Bringing snacks is also a necessity because if you are someone who is not thrilled by airplane food (like me) or you are on an airline does not provide complimentary food, you do not want to be starving for the entire trip. By picking up a bag of chips or piece of fruit, you are taking a step to making yourself more comfortable on the trip.

Overall, everyone has different items that they find necessary while flying. Aside from the obvious, there are a few things we can bring in our bags to make our trip more enjoyable. It is up to us to remember them!

The Perfect Airport Outfit

When I go to the airport, I want to comfortable and I’m sure I’m no the only one. As I previously mentioned, I went abroad this past Spring Break. During that trip, we had five different fights (there were two layovers). There were some days that I practically lived in the airport and then would spend hors upon hours on the plane. If I was wearing anything other than sweats, I don’t think I would have survived.

I like to rock the sweatshirt and leggings vibes, just like so many others. My go-to outfit usually included a t-shirt with a pull-over sweatshirt that I could easily take off, black leggings, and sneakers. I wore minimum make-up and sometimes rocked my Monmouth baseball cap (if my hair was a mess).

I recommend wearing comfortable clothing while traveling because you want to be in a good mood while going somewhere amazing. Wearing something that makes you uncomfortable will ruin your travel experience and you don’t want that. Everyone finds different things more comfortable than others, so if you’re one of those people who think jeans are the most comfortable piece of clothing, or even weirder, a dress, then be my guest. It really depends on the climate, your destination, and your own preference.

For warmer, Summer weather I would recommend wearing a t-shirt and leggings. The reason I still say to wear leggings is because shorts can cause your legs to be directly on the seat which could cause you to sweat. For the colder months, I recommend a long sleeve and a heavier sweatshirt that you can remove easily. The reason I do not bring a winter coat is because they are often too big to fit in that tiny seat and if the plane gets too warm, there will be no comfortable place to put it.

These are just a few of my ideas but it is really up to you to decide what you feel most comfortable in. Keep calm and travel on.

Tips to Save Money Abroad

As a college student, I learned a few tips before and while going abroad in order to stay somewhat afloat in regards to my financial situation. Since I paid for the trip myself, I knew that I had to be very careful about what I spent money on. Here are a few things I learned throughout my experience

  1. Walk as much as you can! Transportation fees can really add up if that’s what you use to get around for the majority of the trip. If you go to a city or somewhere conducive to walking, be sure to pack comfortable shoes so you can use them to save money. Cabs, subways, trains, and buses may be convenient, but walking is healthier and useful.
  2. Budget your days! If you set aside a certain amount of money for each day, you will be less likely to spend too much on one specific day. One way to do this is take some cash out and only take that amount with you while you travel for the day. This will force you to not go over your limit each day.
  3. Stay at hotels with included free breakfast! It may seem like a small thing but three meals a day can really add up. By getting a complimentary breakfast, you will eliminate one full cost per day that you are there. That money can be used for something more useful, like touristy things or drinks.
  4. Take advantage of the free walking tours offered by hotels! It is the best way to see the sights of wherever you are by people who know what they are doing with no cost. Going on tours with a official tour group could cost a good amount of money and trying to walk around without help could be unsuccessful.

Kiawah Island

I wanted to back track a bit to talk about one of my most memorable vacations in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I went with my best friend and her family because her father, who is a carpenter, had a job down there.

Now, the place was unbelievably beautiful with amazing beaches, bike paths, cute shopping areas, and a lagoon with alligators in our backyard (we rented a house), but that is not why the vacation was so memorable. Get this. I saw two of my high school teachers there, together, on the brink of getting engaged.

Now lets remember that I haven’t been in high school for a few years so I haven’t seen these teachers in a while, but one of them, my all-time favorite teacher ever, was one part of this pair. And while I was in high school, these two teachers of mine were not together. Or maybe they were and they kept it a secret. But let me set the scene for you all.

It was our second day on the island and my friend and I decided to ride our bikes to the beach. It was a few minute ride with a gorgeous view. During our ride, we pass this couple and the guy was wearing a shirt from our high school. Weird, but it didn’t really register in our minds until the man said “Hey, how’s it going” as we passed. At that moment, it clicked. I screamed his name (not completely positive that it was him) and I had no idea who the woman was. It wasn’t until we turned around and met up with one another that I realized that it was in fact my favorite teacher with another one of my teachers. They were on vacation with his family so I figured they must have gotten pretty serious since I’ve left the school. The awkwardness was unbelievable. I can still feel it when I think about it now. We explained why we were there, acknowledged how weird this was, found our they were staying a few houses down from us (which is crazy because it is a big island!!) and when we couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore, we parted ways.

When my friend and I got to the beach, we could not stop talking about our strange encounter. We figured out that they must be pretty serious considering they were on vacation together and we decided we wanted another chance to make it up to them for being so weird. Luckily my friend’s family knew our one teacher because they met while we were in high school, so we invited the couple over for drinks. Yes, drinks. As in we were drinking with our high school teachers, which really just topped off the obscurity of the entire situation. But when they came, it felt casual once again. We were able to catch up and have great conversation which made my friend and I feel a lot better after our strange occurrence before. After that successful night, I don’t think we ran into them again which is probably a good thing because I’m fine with seeing them on bikes, but I don’t think I would have survived another encounter with my favorite teachers on the beach.

Moral of the story is that even if you travel far, the world is still a small place.

Perks of Traveling with Friends

I give props to those people who can travel across foreign countries without any companions, but I think I’ll stick to exploring by my friends’ sides.

I think being with the people you love in a place you may have never been before is an amazing experience that many people do not have. Or if you have been there before, there is something magical about showing your friends your favorite place away from home.

Friendships grow (usually) while experiencing something as wonderful as travel. Many relationships are stationary, as in they exist in the same place for possibly their entire existence. But when you are given the privilege of seeing new things and experiencing new places with those people, you see a new side of your friends and can fully know them.

Another, more common, reason of why traveling with friends is better than not is because seeing famous buildings, statues, parks, art, etc. is more fun with people you know and love. Being able to witness Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Duomo were all so much more memorable because I was with my closest friends. Now we can look back on what we experienced together and the pictures we took and remember those times. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Europe not only because I was able to see the amazing architecture that I’ve learned about for years, but mainly because I was able to see those things with my best friends.

Traveling Europe in 10 Days

I would like to give you all just a short synopsis of my trip because I simply cannot stop talking about it.

So just to get things started, I am 100% going back to Europe ASAP.  My friends and I are already planning our next Spring Break trip to Florence and Dublin (so we are there for St. Patrick’s Day) while our other friends are planning their stereotypical trip to Cancun. Don’t get me wrong, that will probably be a great time, but once you spend a week in London and Florence, you probably would rather go there instead of a beach too.

There is probably not one thing that I did not like about this trip. Okay, maybe the men trying to sell roses and selfie sticks were kind of annoying, but that was nothing in the grand scheme of things. The beauty and excitement that was at every turn was nothing like I have ever experienced before.

I was surprised by how comfortable I was with traveling the world with just a few friends and building relationships with locals. I suppose that had something to do with the fact that a few of my traveling companions had been to the places we went before, so I knew I was in good hands. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable, even when I was with just one or two friends instead of the entire group. This was especially the case in Florence, where I often walked around with just one person just to explore. Even if we got lost, we never felt unsafe or felt the need to ask for assistance. We were actually kind of forced into that because the majority of us did not have service while abroad so we really did not have much to rely on when it came to directions.

Overall, this trip solidified my desire to travel the world and see as many places as possible. I have always been told by my parents to travel in my twenties because that is the time to do it, and I’ve always agreed but never really made plans. Now I am creating a list of all the places I absolutely need to visit before I’m tied down with a family and a career. Point is, traveling changed my life and I’m only 20. I cannot wait to see how it changes me as a person and helps me grow within the next ten years.

Traveling Venice

My day trip to Venice was an interesting experience. I was amazed by the amount of tourists all around and the beauty of the small streets within the canals. It was not the nicest of days but the experiences we had made it worth it, even though there were a few strange occurrences. Overall, I was able to walk around the squares, go on a gondola ride, and see the crowds of tourists on tours of the city.

Speaking of the gondola ride, my friends almost made the guy lose his license.

We didn’t do it on purpose, but there is a rule that there can only be six people on the ride at a time but we had seven people. Sure, we could have split up and gone on two rides, but it was the tale end of our trip so we were all running out of money and each ride was $80. I simply did not have an extra $30 laying in my pocket that I could spend on a ride (I would much rather spend that kind of money at a bar). So we stood by the gondola men for a while discussing our options when the guy says to us that he can take us on the ride, but only through the canals instead of the entire tour. We agreed because it didn’t matter how long we were on the ride, all that mattered was that we got to experience it. So we all squeezed in a small boat and went merrily on our way. Right when we got off the boat, the man mentioned that he could have lost his license for that, so we quickly paid him and the ran away.

That was not the only strange encounter my friends and I had in Venice. When we first got to the city via water taxi, we decided to get some lunch. We ventured to Piazza San Marco and found a small restaurant in the middle of the square. We figured this was the perfect place as it was in the middle of all the action. Wrong. It was the worst meal in my entire life. I went into the trip thinking that Italy had the best food so I would never have a bad meal. I was clearly mistaken. It was a sandwich and pizza place, things you would think would be hard to mess up. Wrong. My friends and I all ordered sandwiches and we were very surprised when they came out looking like a thrown together, not fresh, store bought pieces of crap. Unfortunately, we were in too deep at that point and way to hungry not to eat anything so we scarfed down those disgusting sandwiches. Not only was the food gross, but the service was not much better. My friend ordered the same sandwich as me but it didn’t come when everyone else’s food came. We waited and waited and eventually asked our waiter if her food was coming. It wasn’t. The kitchen did not have her order. So then she ordered again (keep in mind we already are aware the food is gross). We waited and waited again until finally her sandwich came out. Nope. It was the wrong sandwich. So they take it back. At this point we are all finished with our food and are fed up by this place so we cancel her order, pay for the pieces of cardboard, and leave. Lesson learned: do not buy food in the most touristy parts of the city.

Other than that, Venice was actually very beautiful and I understand why it is such a popular tourist destination. If it was any other group of people, I’m sure they would have had an amazing time without taking so many losses, but since it was my friends I’m not surprised at all by the experience we had.

Traveling Florence

Being in Florence was an amazing experience and something I will never forget. Unlike London, when I was in Florence it really felt like I was abroad. The history and architecture is unlike anything I have seen before, and the city itself was full of colorful personalities and experiences. I was amazed by almost every sight, including the Duomo, the many piazzas, and the mini streets with cute shops and restaurants.

Obviously, Italy is known for their food, and when I visited, I was not disappointed. I ate my weight in pizza and pasta at almost every meal so its actually pretty impressive that I didn’t gain at least twenty pounds by the end of the trip. Two of my friends had studied abroad in Florence this past summer, so we were able to find the best (in our opinion) places to eat. One specific place that we continued to go for dinner night after night was Dante’s. It had fantastic food and I ate an absurd amount of pasta every time I went. Another main reason that we continued to go to this place was because if you are a student of the local Florence college, they gave you unlimited wine for free. We were not students at that college but they assumed we were so we did not complain.

Another thing that you should be aware of when you go to Florence is the amount of people selling things on the street and the gypsies that walk around asking for money. The amount of times I was asked to buy a selfie stick is unbelievable; I didn’t even think there were that many selfie sticks in the world. They also sold a lot of purses, bracelets, and roses. The key (which I learned after the fact) is to completely ignore them. It sounds bad because that is not what we are taught in our culture, but if you show any kind of interest, they will not leave you alone.

Overall, Florence was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life so far. I met so many amazing people because workers are so kind and welcoming. My friends who came on the trip with me met a few people when they studied abroad so when we went, we met up with those same people and built friendships with them. I cannot wait to go back, and I’m already planning my next trip there for next Spring Break!

Traveling London

As some of you may know from my Instagram posts, I have just recently returned from Europe on my Spring Break trip! I travelled to London and Florence with a day trip in Venice. The experience was more than I could have ever hoped for and I am already planning my next trip oversees.

When people ask “What did you like better; London or Florence?” I cannot give them a straight answer. There is simply no way of comparing the two cities because they are so different yet amazing in their own ways. Today I will focus on London, as it was the first place I visited.

London surprised me. I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I went there, but it was definitely not what I thought it was going to be. London is pretty much a cleaner, quieter New York City. I loved being able to walk around and see the amazing sights like Big Ben, the London Eye, and Tower Bridge right in front of me. I guess I felt the way that people who travel to visit NYC feel when they see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building for the first time. (Do people feel that way?) I was lucky enough to have a few days of being a tourist, going over the bridges, onto the London Eye, and through the streets of famous markets. I was accompanied by my friend who is currently studying abroad, someone who previously studied abroad, and her friend who was born and raised in London. I found that to be a blessing because I got to experience the local’s spots in the city. I was introduced to little alcoves and hideaway bars that I never would have thought to go to if I was with a bunch of tourists.

If any of you ever visit London, here’s a few things that I did that I think are definitely worth it:

  1. The London Eye: I highly recommend this because you get to see a view of the entire city and it is unbelievably cool.
  2. The Tower Bridge: If you take the tour of the bridge, you get the opportunity to take an elevator up and walk across the top. While you are up there, there are glass floors and a mirror ceiling which makes for awesome views and pictures.
  3. Abbey Road: Little did I know, this road is in the middle of a busy intersection and cars are constantly trying to get past which makes it very difficult to reenact the Beatles picture. But if you do get the chance to take a successful picture, it is definitely worth it. There is also a gift shop dedicated to all of the music that was born there.
  4. Tea Time!: There are so many tea shops all around London and if you are anything like me, you want to be able to say you drank tea like an average Londoner.
  5. Buckingham Palace/ Changing of the Guards: I did not actually get the chance to see the Changing of the Guards because we ran out of time, but I have heard it is a great thing to witness at least once. I did get to see the palace which is so beautiful (and well-guarded)

Those are just a few of the more touristy things I got to do while in London. There were also a lot of pub crawls and margarita spots we found that aided to the fun of the trip.