I can’t believe it! My blog has been going for 5 years now! The date came and went a couple of weeks ago, but I still wanted to take a moment to mark this occasion.
I am proud of the fact that I have kept this blog completely ad-free and non-monetized. I earn nothing for the content I post. And after 5 years of consistently posting at least every other week, there’s a lot of content.
This means my posts have naturally been picked up by search engines and are still offering people some of the best tips on travel hacking and travel in the countries I’ve visited. Although modest in comparison to other travel blog giants, I am proud to share for the first time some of the analytics that represent my totally organic readership!
When I visit new places, I rarely spend a lot of time in the main tourist areas. But the Otrobanda, Punda, and Pietermaai districts of Curaçao's capitol were unique and rich with history, art, culture, food, and fun. I am glad I spent time in this area both during the day and at night to discover the atmosphere in both settings.
I got stuck on a floating bridge, found a secret beach, uncovered unique historic landmarks, and posed with lots of street art. Everything I did I could easily experience in one full day of exploring Willemstad!
My favorite way to explore a country and its culture is through its food.
I enjoyed experiencing Curaçao's unique mix of Caribbean and Dutch food through some of its restaurants, grocery stores, and other little gems I found!
Below I write all about what to eat in Curaçao, including the foods I tried (like iguana!!) and some that I (sadly) missed.
Back in January, I took a vacation for 9 nights to the beautiful, culturally rich Caribbean island country of Curaçao. Typically, a trip like this would cost at least $2,000 in hotel and airfare alone.
My trip cost me about $800 for everything. That included airfare, airbnb stay, car rental, trip insurance, car insurance, local SIM card, all food/meals, diving and snorkeling.
I made this happen through a combination of points, some careful budget planning, and a little luck. In this post, I share the breakdown of what I did to find these deals, including the breakdown of all the costs.
Call me crazy but I love change. I thrive on change. Lucky for me, I have come to understand that change is the only, reliable constant in life.
And so here comes my next big adventure…I am moving to Miami! I am moving for a new job. It’s my dream career, in fact. And I am so very excited about it.
Learn more about this move and my thoughts on it in this quick update post.
This month is the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the 3 year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. So I have decided to write a bit about my experience visiting the Pulse Nightclub memorial back in November 2018.
Like many of my fellow queers and friends in the LGBTQ community, I was devastated on June 12, 2016 when I learned about the mass shooting that took place at Pulse nightclub resulting in 49 dead, 68 injured, and a world in shock.
While I went to vigils up in New York, my visit to Orlando was my chance to pay my respects in person and reflect more deeply on the reality of what happened.
Being there was even more powerful than I anticipated.
When friends invite you to travel across the border for a one night adventure—you take it! My friends Chelsea and Dayle headed to Montréal, CA last summer for a friend’s wedding. They offered to bring me along for an adventure of my own.
I couldn't pass up the chance! I decided to meet up with an old friend whom I met in my travels. It was an opportunity to catch up with her and see more of Montréal after visiting in summer 2017.
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. There is a ton of history and culture to explore and lots of adventures that will give you some epic coastal city views.
In this post, I share 11 highlights or things I experienced in Cape Town and the nearby areas. Perhaps this will inspire you to visit or revisit to see and do some of the things I did!
Table Mountain is iconic to Cape Town, South Africa. Reaching the summit of Table Mountain is necessary to complete any visit to Cape Town.
I chose to hike Table Mountain on my second to last day in Cape Town. This hike challenged me with its constant upward incline. But the views were immediate, making it worth every ounce of sweat!
Below, I take you on my journey while answering some common questions about this iconic hike. Take it all in and consider it a must-do for when you visit Cape Town!
What happens when two solo travelers meet with no plans that evening? You get instantaneous travel companionship and spontaneous adventure—that's what!
My Polish dive buddy in Cape Town turned out to be a solo traveler looking to hang out. It started with me gladly accepting his offer to drive me into Cape Town. When he suggested we take the "scenic route," I gladly accepted again!
The route we took led us to epic coastline scenery, beach sunset views, and a lookout point over Cape Town at night. This perfect evening spent between two random, solo travel companions marks one of my favorite memories from this trip.
Trying to control what you will experience as a traveler is a fool's errand. Especially when it comes to diving and anything in nature, you cannot predict what you will see or not see. This was the major reminder I was given when diving False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.
I decided to dive False Bay in South Africa because of its kelp forest, cow sharks, seals, and healthy coral reef. In the end, I only got to experience 3 out of 4 of these highlights. While I could have let this get me down for the remaining few days of my trip to Africa, I decided to stay positive about the experience.
In this post, I write about my dive experience in False Bay. While disappointing, I managed to find the positives in the experience anyway!
I am a lover of the sea. Between exploring the Namibian desert and touring the South African bush, I was feeling landlocked! Luckily, Simon's Town is a quiet, coastal neighborhood on the cape peninsula of South Africa. Famous for its views of False Bay, Simon's Town offers the "closest encounter with penguins in the world."
I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town late in the evening of June 9th. I was coming directly off of a 5-day safari tour, ready for the final 4 days of my trip to Africa.
It was a rainy day my first day in Simon's Town. I was there to SCUBA dive but I had to wait for better conditions. Instead, I made the most of my first day there exploring this little seaside village.
After a terrible experience witnessing unethical animal tourism, I was ready to finish up my safari tour on a better note. The rest of Day 4 for me could only get better—and it did!
I had a nice time getting a personal tour of the tree house lodging where I was staying. I even spotted some baby warthogs on this walking tour. Then I had a final game drive in a very special reserve. There, I saw cheetah, lion, and rounded out my Big 5 sightings with a white rhino!
On the ride back to the airport in Johannesburg, we stopped at Blyde River Canyon. I caught gorgeous views of mountains, forests, and the river below. It was a great final 24 hours on my 5-day safari tour in South Africa!
On day 4 of my African safari tour, I found myself bursting into tears and walking out of the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. What upset me? It was a culmination of unethical animal practices that I saw, ending with the enslavement of cheetahs.
Yes, I said enslavement, and I'll tell you why I use that word in this post.
I have been very vocal on this blog about animal tourism around the world. There’s a lot that goes on that we don’t know about until we actually go there and see it. My hope is that this post sheds a bit of light on what is going on in South Africa, even at the best of the options among the various tourist attractions that exist.
Moholoholo does a lot of good for endangered African species. But, in my opinion, it has improvements to make. Either way, you can take in the information I provide and decide for yourself what’s right for you when you visit South Africa.
The 3rd day of my 5-day safari tour was spent inside Kruger National Park. On the other days, the tour took me to private game reserves on the outskirts of the main park. This time we would be going in for a full day of safari adventuring!
This post will be filled with photos and anecdotal stories to provide some context for various animal sightings throughout the day. The goal of the day was to see as many of the "Big 5" animals as possible. We missed spotting rhino but were lucky enough to see buffalo, elephant, lion, and leopard! I saw many more animals, too, such as wild dogs which are super rare!
Our safari vehicle encountered so much throughout the day, including a run-in with a very disgruntled (and aroused!) elephant. It was during that encounter I learned the meaning of "Elephants have 6 legs."
The second day of my safari tour in Balule Private Game Reserve marked the first full day I had on safari. The day before was devoted to driving half the day from Johannesburg to the edge of Kruger National Park.
On this second day, I saw tons of wildlife on a 4 hour walk through the bush, spotting some of the deadliest predators in Africa. I even tasted giraffe droppings! A late afternoon game drive proved extremely fruitful when I got to see some of the most quintessential African wildlife all at the same time—elephant, giraffe, and zebra! It was a dream come true!
The day came to a close with an unexpected performance by a local tribe. Then I slept out in the bush under the stars with nothing between me and the predators of the night!
Happy New Year!
This year was amazing for travel—I fulfilled childhood dreams and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. It was a wonderful year for travel opportunities all around!
2018 was also a year that presented some challenges for me personally.
This blog is often a place for deep, personal reflection. I do it in most of my blog posts, but also intentionally through random life updates. I did this on a monthly basis during my extended trip 4 years ago (4 years ago, whaaat?!). Now, I only post updates about once a year around the new year. I love making the celebration of the new year into a time to look back and look ahead in a more intentional way. It's good for the heart, mind, and soul!
For this post, I look back on my travels this year, including my top 5 favorite travel experiences! I also share my reflections on life and personal growth behind all the travels. I do this mostly for me. But I know readers also appreciate the honesty and clarity about what's going on with me!
So here we go! This was 2018.
Finally, the day had arrived for my first ever African safari tour! In early June of this year, after a week in Namibia and a weekend exploring Pretoria, I was pumped to search for and see the Big Five animals (and more) of Africa.
This first day of the tour involved bonding with others on the drive to the reserve, a sunset game drive with tons of wild animals sightings including elephant and lion, and a BBQ dinner in the African bush.
I honestly could not have asked for a more fulfilling first day. Hopefully, this perfect day wasn't going to spoil me for the remainder of my 5-day tour!
An African safari tour was a dream experience of mine since I saw the Lion King as a kid. But I always assumed the cost of such an experience would be astronomical. Most safari tours I looked into casually required thousands of dollars. As much as I wanted to have this experience, I really didn't want to go bankrupt because of it! And so the research began!
I'm all about balancing the cost of things when I travel. I'll lay out money for a really extraordinary experience—but it better hit all the marks in all the right places. That's why I spent lots of time researching tour options for my trip to South Africa. Through my research, I found the perfect tour. For a minimum price, I maximized the experience for my first African Safari tour in Kruger National Park. It offered the kind of accommodation I wanted, the right number of days, and, most importantly, the best chance at seeing tons of wildlife!
This post is all about the decisions I made: Why I chose Kruger, why I chose a guided tour instead of self-guided, how I searched for tour options, which tour fit all my needs, and what the actual benefits were. Perhaps the approach I took will help you find and plan your perfect African Safari Tour, too!
Johannesburg, South Africa is often talked about as a pretty unsafe city for travelers. The most common crimes are petty, such as having valuables stolen from your person or your car. But that's the kind of hassle you don't want when you're having a good time on your trip.
Most places in the world are safer than you assume. But realistically, some places are going to be less safe than others. When the facts point to unsafe conditions where you're traveling, you don't necessarily need to avoid the place entirely. You just need to enact some precautions based on local recommendations.
In this post, I describe one night I spent in Johannesburg and my tips for staying safe. I only had to make small edits to my behavior. I chose to stay in a better neighborhood, I walked around with a friend, and I didn't carry my phone with me at night.
The result was an easy going night of listening to local music with a new friend. No issues. No sweat!