travel

WHAT I FOUND IN FAIRBANKS

Booking spontaneous trips is a habit I got into after I turned 21. I wanted to go everywhere and see everything, which meant that anytime I had any extra money to spare, I booked a ticket and searched for the cheapest hotel, AirBnb or hostel around. In August, Chicago was hot and humid and I was tired and getting a little loony during my long retail days. During a lunch break, I decided on Seattle. It looked like my type of city: by the ocean, with plenty of culture and coffee. And so began my countdown for October and my continuous search for things to add to my list of sights and eats to check out while I was in Seattle.   My friend and I were on a brunch outing when she commented on my upcoming trip. With enthusiasm, I began sharing all my travel plans. That’s when the idea to visit Ala...

BLUE IS A PLACE

The Blue Ridge Mountains are varied hues of blue at sundown. Cobalt, sapphire, navy and midnight blues against a sunset ripe with fire-burning clouds hanging low over heavens. These are heavens stretching far out to where the mountain peaks greet the sky. There I was with no cell signal, a flask of Jack Daniels and a sixer of unopened Budweiser. An open blanket of stars like loud graffiti mandalas stretched across the Southern sky. I played John Denver songs from my phone’s music library until my phone ran out of battery. I scratched out new poems in an old journal I’d thrown into my backpack at the very last minute. I listened to the choirs of cicadas and realized I was finally writing enough words again to call myself a writer. I was lonely. But this was only a loud cry for self and my s...

FOUR DAYS IN U.S.V.I – OUR GIRLS TRIP

Now that my daughters are older, I wanted to plan a trip for just us, a getaway that combined the things that all of us enjoy. After some research, I settled on the U.S. Virgin Islands — St. Thomas and St. John, to be specific. As I have noted in previous posts, we travel when others don’t typically – so travels not too expensive and we can enjoy more. We traveled over the 4th of July holiday, flying when others were barbecuing and watching fireworks. The resort I chose had an all-inclusive option, however, I did not opt in to that part. While I enjoy all-inclusive for some trips, I don’t on all, as it forces you to get out and explore; to find dining options and to take tips from locals.  On day one, we just relaxed and decompressed from our hectic lives. The resort offered a ...

WHAT THE HECK DOES HOME MEAN ANYWAY?

Fall River, MA Boston, MA San Diego, CA Buenos Aires, Argentina Warsaw, Poland Prague, Czech Republic The first on this list of cities brought me up to the ripe age of 17. A lot of the population in Fall River hangs right around the poverty line and I knew my fair share of heroin addicts. I thought gangs and knives at school were normal occurrences. My mother and father were young when they were made parents and neither got to finish a 4 year degree with the pressure of raising children and paying a mortgage. But I knew, even at a young age, college was expected of me. After graduating 12th in a class of 600, I left Fall River and went just an hour north to study in the pre-med program at Boston University. The idea of fulfilling a lifelong dream (become a M.D.) in one of the best ranked c...

GIRLS WEEKEND GETAWAY TO CLEVELAND

About two months ago, three of my closest friends from college shocked me and showed up on my doorstep for a girls weekend! I was pleasantly surprised and while I obviously didn’t have an opportunity to plan much, we had a great time exploring my lovely hometown of Cleveland, OH. If you’re interested in planning a girls weekend getaway, I would highly suggest that you consider CLE as your location. Take a look at my below suggestions and start planning your girls weekend getaway to Cleveland! Getting There: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is located only 12 miles away from downtown Cleveland and offers over 150 daily nonstop departures. If you’re on a budget, there are quite a few low-cost airlines that fly in and out of the LAND like Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines. If you’r...

ONE WORLD CUP JOURNEY

Our World Cup journey began with a “hey, we should” – how most things start with us. Once those words come out of our mouths, the gears in the brain start working and somehow the plan begins to form. I was not a big soccer (futbol) fan at the start, in fact, I had never watched a match from start to finish, much less live in a stadium. We were living in Chicago and there happened to be the final of the Gold Cup taking place and Soldier and I, on a whim, we went. The United States beat Panama and it was so exciting, not bad for my first experience. See, we needed to know I enjoyed it if we were going to travel and experience all that the Cup offers. We researched the lottery for the tickets and what we needed to do to get to Brazil. We had an idea, but nothing would even make sense if...

HOW MOVING 1,500 MILES SOUTH SHOWED ME THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

One disadvantage about moving to another state, let alone one 1,500 miles away, is the fact that you have to make friends all over again. I must admit it can be a little scary. Yes, I am good at making friends, but I have never lived in a southern state. ‘What would the people in South Carolina be like?’, I thought. Would they be nice and friendly like I had heard about for years on TV? Was it true that everybody in the south is friendly, warm and welcoming of strangers? I am an outgoing and personable lady but I have never even visited a southern state, let alone thought about moving to one. That all changed the day I let my son move to South Carolina with his dad. Before they left, I made my son a promise. I promised him that I would move to South Carolina one day when I had enough money...

A FASHIONISTA’S GUIDE TO UBUD, BALI: WHERE TO SHOP

Illustrious comes with a complete guide for a fashionista in Ubud, Bali, showing you the best places where to shop and giving you tips for your “little” luggage on what to pack.  Bali is a piece of heaven; yes, we know! But besides that, it is a hidden gem for fashion lovers and hunters of amazing unique clothing pieces that will for sure pass the test of time.  Bali Boat Shed I have read about it in one of the few articles on the web about shops in Bali, but then I completely forgot that I did. So I was very pleased with myself when I bumped into it. I was just walking around in Bali without an agenda in mind, with a map, just chill window shopping, to find this treasure. Linen, cotton and satin were the materials that were most present in the clothes. Most of the pieces had simple patter...

HOW I GAINED A LIFE PARTNER IN 10 DAYS

I believe I found the one on a trip to Machu Pichu.  No, I did not meet him there, but I believe in all of my heart I found my partner there.  Over the years we have been together people ask how did you meet and well, that is a story in itself for another time.  We really did have an unprecedented start.  Shortly into our spending time together, but not actually dating, he asked me where were my top five places I wanted to go in my life.  I rattled them off thinking nothing of it.  One week later he showed up with plane tickets to Peru and said tag you are it. The ultimate game of chicken, no?  I paused and said hold that thought.  See, I was divorced and raising my daughters alone and we did not have family around; I needed to figure it out.  One day later, I said yes.  His response was, ...

FINDING MY COURAGE ON THE ROAD

Sometime during these last two years on the road, I became someone new. I left the United States a nervous, insecure person whose fear of failure eclipsed her desire for adventure, and now I find myself sitting in Australia applying for jobs out of my reach, taking the leap into becoming a full-fledged travel blogger, and loving myself. I do not know if the travel alone is what did it or if it was a combination of that, growing up and having the people in my life to support my growth, but somewhere along the way I found my courage.  My first memory of the slow break down of my fear of rejection was in Sweden, my first long term backpacking trip and my first time traveling solo. I had arrived in Sweden a couple of days earlier and was waiting for my friends to arrive to start my adventures....

4 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A SOLO WOMAN ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL

If you are interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail, or just want a peak into what life is like out there, then this one’s for you.   I had dreamt about thru-hiking the entire 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail for a long time. I had gotten it stuck in my head that *one day* I would hike it, but was always waiting for the perfect time. I was always waiting for a chance to take 6 months off work, waiting for enough money to be able hike for that long, waiting for a buddy who was as desperate as me to do this thing.   Waiting, waiting, waiting.  Until one day, I realized, my car was about to be paid off and I had just about enough in savings to be able to launch a frugal-style hike of the Appalachian Trail.  My boyfriend, and coworker, at the time had always talked about wanting to hike ...

72 HOURS IN LONDON

As I write this I am on the plane headed home to NYC from London listening to Brett Young, Sleep Without You, and thinking how amazing this trip was. I don’t regret one moment, one penny, one pence, anything. In all fairness, my trip to England was longer than 72 hours, but I only had that amount of time with my  mister before I was on my own and he was committed to work. See, I hopped on his business trip. He has been many times, I however, had never been, and the time was just right for me to tag long. I am not even sure if I can come close to fitting my amazing time in one post and I am sure I will leave something out, but I will try to come close.  We took an overnight flight from JFK to Heathrow; yes, we slept as much as possible and in all honesty, over-the-counter sleep aids help th...

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