Category Archives: Travel

Reflecting on Pandemic Life – 2 Years Ago From Today and Moving Forward

I don’t think many people would have ever predicted that they would be living through a pandemic within their lifetime. I know for me personally, it was something that never crossed my mind and now it is a life experience that we can all agree is unforgettable and one that we will remember looking back on for years to come. When I reflect about where I was exactly two years ago on March 15th, 2020–it is a day that I can reflect upon quite vividly. I was on an airplane flying from Arizona back to New Jersey. No one was really wearing masks yet and I was not so concerned about catching the virus but was more nervous about whether I would be able to fly back safely without being in a situation where we would have to be quarantined. Covid-19 was labeled a global pandemic just a few days prior and everything was beginning to shut down. I remember thinking to myself on that plane ride that I cannot get back home to New Jersey fast enough. A few days before my flight, people were encouraging me to cancel my trip altogether but I knew then that it was now or never. I am glad that I followed my instincts because I have not been on an airplane since that date and things progressively had gotten worse as time went on.

In addition to my flight home, I also had a wake to attend later that same afternoon. Everything was normal at that time as a normal wake would be but if it had occurred even a week or two later, I do not know if there would have been a public wake service at all because there was a point where wake and funeral services had to be put on hold or just not occur at all.

Although I had arrived back home safely on March 15th, just two days later on March 17th was when everything had officially shut down in the USA which meant schools, gyms, restaurants, and so much more. It is crazy to think back at that time where everyone was asked to quarantine and stay at home for so many months. It felt like there was a pause button placed on our lives yet we were witnessing on the news day in and day out how many people were suffering throughout the entire world. It was a time of such uncertainty in our lives and impacted every single individual one way or another.

Fast forwarding a full two years to where we are now on March 15th, 2022, I would say that although the pandemic is not officially over, we are finally at a good place where cases are going down and it appears that the virus has become much milder since the initial variant. It is the first time in a really long time that I feel as though we are moving towards a more “normal” life again although it might take many years to ever live a life that was close to our pre-pandemic lives. While the pandemic brought upon us many challenges and misfortunes, I do believe with that comes many life lessons. It was also a time to appreciate some of the simplest joys and to embrace those moments of solitude which might have made people feel lonely at times (myself included). As the pandemic begins to fade away, I look forward to seeing the people that I haven’t seen in a long time and I cannot wait to travel again, even if that means domestically at the present moment. Little by little, things are bound to get better again and we just have to keep looking forward with a positive state of mind.

Why I Love to Travel – 3 of the Best Traveling Decisions of My Life

My love for travel started at a young age in which I give credit and gratitude towards my parents who made it a point to plan at least one family vacation a year. I think being born into a lifestyle where travel was appreciated allowed for me to not only find vacation time to be a norm but also gave me an opportunity to cultivate an interest in exploring new destinations and learning about new cultures. As a child, I also developed a unique hobby where I would write to pen pals from all over the world. I loved getting to know people from different countries and learning about what life was like in various places. As a result, my passion for travel extended beyond my childhood because travel provided me a chance to actually experience new cultures as opposed to just learning about them through letters from pen pals. Although travel can be an expensive hobby, I don’t think I can ever recall a time that a vacation was a waste of money or that I regretted spending money on going away to a foreign place. I do believe that creating memories and experiences are way more valuable than spending money on tangible things. So while flights, hotels, excursions, and other traveling expenses can add up rather quickly, I can still justify the cost and believe it is worth every penny.

Although the ongoing pandemic has put a hold on travel and I have not been on a plane since March of 2020, I hope to get back into traveling again sometime in the new year. While I miss traveling very much, in the meantime, I can reflect on some of my most favorite trips and what I consider to be the best traveling decisions thus far in my lifetime.

Visiting a School Friend Overseas – (Finland – April, 2016) – One of my childhood friends was living in Finland for graduate school and at the time that she moved, I promised her that I would find a way to visit her at some point during her two year stay. Although Finland wasn’t necessarily on the top of my bucket list, I was still intrigued and receptive to going since I had a friend who was living there while attending school. To this day, I still consider Finland to be one of my favorite trips which was a pleasant surprise because I really did not know what to expect. I think it was a combination of loving the culture along with being able to meet up with a friend who could show me around which made it an extra special experience. Although I usually don’t go to the same places twice all too often, I would go back to Finland in a heartbeat and cannot wait to eventually explore the surrounding Scandinavian countries.

Taking A Solo Trip For the First Time – (Iceland – August, 2018) – I always preach how I do not believe in missed opportunities and when an opportunity presents itself, you have to take it! I was looking into go away at the end of the summer and had a few days off where I could plan something; however, none of my friends or family were available to travel during the days that I was free. I was looking into going to Iceland and was lucky enough to find inexpensive flights for the dates that I wanted to go. I decided I was going to go anyway, even if that meant going by myself. The idea of exploring a foreign place was exciting and I was up for a solo adventure. I talked to a few friends who had gone on solo trips before and they all highly recommended going because when you go by yourself, you have the freedom to do anything and everything on your own terms. Iceland is a beautiful place and is another destination that I would definitely plan a trip in the future but next time would want to experience it with my significant other, specifically the Blue Lagoon which exceeded my expectations and was beyond amazing.

A Last Minute Long Weekend Abroad With My Mom – (Switzerland – November, 2019) – It is hard to imagine that two years ago from this time of year that I was in Switzerland with my mom considering the world has changed so much since then. We both had been wanting to plan a trip together and I was able to find a weekend that I could go away. She was open to going anywhere and Switzerland was a place I had taken a day trip once in the past when I was in Italy and knew that I would eventually want to go back to see more. Although we were only there for a long weekend, we had planned many fun activities within our stay and created special memories that I will never forget. I cannot express how thankful I am that we booked this trip because we had no idea that a few months later that we would be experiencing a global pandemic which would put a halt on international travel for awhile. It has taught me the importance of living life to the fullest and to plan vacations–whenever possible!

Traveling and Dating – Who Should Pay for What?

I actually have had this question asked a few times in regards to wanting solid advice on what is the right thing to do in terms of how couples should handle expenses while on vacation when they are ‘just dating’ (not married and perhaps have only have been dating for a short time). To be honest, there really is no set answer to this one because there are so many factors involved and each dating situation is different. For example, are we talking about a weekend getaway or full week vacation overseas?

I think that if one person (usually the man but hey, it’s 2020–anything is possible nowadays) is paying for all or a contribution towards your travel expenses such as the flight and accommodations then it can be expected that once you arrive at the destination, you can pick up a good amount or at least some of the food and entertainment tabs. Personally, it just feels good to reciprocate if someone is that generous to pay most of or all my travel fees up front.

If both people are paying separately and in this case for me as the woman, the man I am dating is not paying anything towards my personal travel expenses, then I do not really expect to pay for meals or much during that time away. In a normal situation when I’m NOT traveling, I do expect a man to pay for most meals (unless it is a special occasion or I am asked to pay the tip). Why? I firmly believe in gender roles and that they should still exist. Whereas I know not everyone might feel the same because the counter argument could be that most women are in the work force today. If a woman has a stable career/job and can pay for meals as well, why is she not paying those bills? I totally understand this way of thinking, it makes sense to me as well but it does not change the principle or belief that I have which is that a man should want to pay for the dates. It actually for me has nothing to do with money being spent but to do with showing a woman that he wants to take care of her along with being chivalrous and conveying his financial strength. Especially in the early stages of the dating game, if a guy is asking the woman to go 50/50 or to pay for dates, then my immediate thought is, “Next.” I do not mean that in an entitled, conceited, or stuck up kind of way. I might still stay to get to know the guy better but I am not going to invest too much of my time because I have been in the dating game long enough to know that this is the golden standard (if you ask most men, they actually do want to pay) and there are an abundance of men who would never ask a woman to take her wallet out. So why would I make an exception now or settle for someone who is a 50/50 kind of guy? I actually do not encounter those kind of men in my life because I set my standard from the start what my expectations are (which mind you, I don’t think is even much to ask) and if this were to be a problem, my response would be, “Then don’t date me.” In other words, I am not going to lower my dating standards as I could keep it moving at that point. However, with travel, I recognize things can add up fast depending on where you go and how long you are away in which I think offering to pay for things from time to time is classy and often appreciated.

Note for Men: I think it is extremely important to consider, if you do NOT plan to pay for much during the trip or expect a more equal contribution financially with how money will be spent throughout the duration of the vacation, then you absolutely need to have this conversation and set those standards. Just as it is important for women to set standards, men should be doing this as well. I have had many male friends complain to me how they do not like having to pay for things all the time when they are dating–especially if there is not a relationship status or if they are unsure how much they like the other person. I ask if they have expressed that to the person they are dating and often times the answer is, “No.” Most women would not know this is bothersome unless it is brought to their attention. Chances are, they would be more than willing to contribute or to pay for things too. Like anything in life, you just have to ask.

Is Solo Travel for You – 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

I believe that any opportunity to travel is always a wonderful experience as it allows you to see new places and explore things that are different from your everyday daily life. Often times people plan a trip with a friend, family member, significant other, or perhaps with a small group of people. However, have you ever considered traveling alone? Solo travel is the term to describe exactly that, planning a trip by yourself. It might be expected you naturally would want to share a travel experience with someone else but there is definitely nothing wrong with going somewhere by yourself.

Before you go ahead and plan a solo trip, there are a few things you should ask yourself to see if it is the right choice for you.

Am I okay with going on a vacation by myself while fully being able to enjoy myself? – This is probably the most important question to first ask yourself. If you are a little scared with the idea of traveling by yourself, think about how many activities you currently do by yourself. I look at it like this, if I am someone who does a good majority of daily things by myself, then traveling should not feel much different. If the idea scares you, maybe start off with a local trip and see how you feel about that first. If you enjoyed it, then you can consider taking it to the next level and planning something bigger. In life, it is good to step outside your comfort zone but as I mentioned, it can still be done in baby steps.

Do I have the time to plan a getaway? – If you do not really have the spare time to go then I would say either make time for it or wait until your schedule frees up. Without the actual time needed to plan a trip, it is not something you can really book until you have the actual availability to go.

Do I have the money to go? – When planning a trip with someone else, budgeting is usually easier as you get to split the accommodations and other activities with the person you are traveling with. When you plan a trip by yourself, be prepared for every little expense from the big expenses like flight and accommodations to the small things like food, souvenirs, etc. Traveling can get expensive very fast depending on the destination (also keep in mind with currency exchange rates, your currency might not be worth as much in certain countries). It is important to travel within your means and if going by yourself is going to be too much of an expense, it might be better to plan a trip with someone to keep costs down or to save money up so you can comfortably travel by yourself without breaking the bank.

Do I have the passion to go on the trip, even if that means I am by myself? – If you have a deep desire to go to a destination with or without someone, then I would say it is worth looking into. Remember, even if you are traveling by yourself, that does not mean you have to be completely alone at all times. You can sign up for group tours and be in situations where you meet other people along the way such as other tourists like yourself or locals who can make recommendations of things to check out during your stay.

Will I feel safe going to this destination alone? – Your sense of personal safety is definitely an important factor when deciding whether or not to go on a solo trip. There are certain places that I think might be enjoyed better with the company of others and as a safety net while there are places that are known to be incredibly safe to go to on your own. This is research you can do on your own if you are unsure whether or not you can venture to the destination safely.

Solo travel might be a scary thought to some but absolutely liberating to someone else. I can tell you from my personal experience, I have done it once (so far) and it was one of the best decisions of my life. By that, I can confirm I had a wonderful time and I would absolutely do it again in the future.