Travel Books Part I

One of my greatest loves in life is getting sucked into a book that is impossible to put down. I’ve composed a list of my favorite books, some of the books are specifically are about traveling and some are just because I resonated with the characters. Lets dive in!

The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Countries, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman. This book is basically the Eat, Pray, Love for broke girls in their twenties. This book was  the book that had me ready to break out of my mold and just  take that leap to really travel.  Seriously my number one travel book recommendation for all girls in their twenties.

That being said I feel I need to include Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in the list. This book initially was hard to connect with because financially Gilbert never seems to have to budget. This quickly dissolved.  Gilbert’s heartbreak, questioning her own religious beliefs, and stepping away from the status quo; that is something most travelers/ humans can relate to. Gilbert creates a story so fluid that all of a sudden its three hours later on the beach and you have the worst sunburn (Oh wait, thats just me, okay moving on then).

These next two page turners combined my passion for history and anthropology that made it impossible for me to put them down. Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step At a Time by Mark Adams! And The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann! Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Adams is about an author who breaks away from his desk to follow the path Hiram Bingham III set out on to get a sense of the significance of Machu Picchu. It is a humorous tale of a person who had never slept in a tent before and how he adopted to life at high altitudes and no electric power. It will have you wanting to quit your cubicle job for living life hiking up the Andes. The Lost City of Z by Grann follows a journalist as he attempts to weave the truth about what happened to the explorer Percy Fawcett in his quest for this ancient civilization, El Dorado, rumored to be located in the Amazon Jungle. Grann like many before him become obsessed with the idea of the Lost City of Z and drudges through the Amazon himself looking for the truth about Fawcett and this rumored lost city. But side note whoever I let borrow these books, I want them back!! I need to reread them again!

Speaking of my love for anthropology… This next book isn’t a travel book per se, but I wasn’t able to put it down. This book would make a perfect plane read! Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin, is a humorous tale the follows Martin as she attempts to view the moms of Park Avenue through an objective anthropological viewpoint. Martin attempts to assimilate into the culture to understand the moms better, and in the process gets a little too involved. But it is kind of is a travel book, in that numerous people attempt to assimilate into a new culture when they travel. Plus to be honest I do the same thing to y’all on the plane!

Finally (for this blog) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed, I mean how can I not include this one? It is the story of Strayed after some heartbreak, self destruction, and a feeling of being lost, decides to take some time for herself. Strand decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail which tested her physical and mental strength. It is an honest dialogue about solo travel, of course Strayed had to be a badass and go to an extreme. Or if you hate to read you can always watch the movie (but the book is better).

Okay this went way longer than I imagined, so I’m going to divide this in half, and on the next one I will talk about my favorite travel authors! But let me know what are your favorite travel books 🙂

 

 

 

Vancouver Goals

The spontaneous trip to Vancouver, BC with two of my favorite co-workers! This trip was literally planned with less than a weeks notice. It all started when my friend Kelby mentioned she wanted to go to Canada to catch a game for the Women’s World Cup; and of course I was down! This was also my first trip out of the country EVER!! Allie was able to join us to complete our little trio. Our initial plan was to get to Vancouver a day early. Explore on day one, game on day two, and leave on day three; but Vancouver was full of sweet surprises that quickly altered our plan. Here are a few of my favorite things from the trip.

Stanley Park: There were sailboats, sculptures, and totem poles… what more could you ask for?

 

Game Day! USA vs. Nigeria: The game was close and exciting but USA won in the end with a 1-0 victory!

Hiking Grouse Mountain! This was one of the most rewarding challenges I have ever faced! I grew up on the coast with not even a hill in sight. I was definitely not prepared for the hike up the mountain but was rewarded with a beautiful view once we made it to the top.

The Market on Granville Island: This market was everything! From decadent chocolates to crisp vegetables to fresh caught salmon. The trip ended with a stop by a brewery to try some of Canada’s beer.

Sunset Park: This was the highlight of the trip for me! I love the idea of people coming together to watch the sunset. And let me tell you the sunset did not disappoint!

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The trip was such an amazing experience for me. From being my first trip out of the country to enjoying an easy public transportation system to having sweet people to enjoy the trip with. Even when extending our trip to almost five days we still were not able to see all that we wanted to. I would definatley recommend at least a week for this destination!

Things You Need on Every Flight

As a flight attendant I see people come on the plane and are underprepared for the flight. Picture your plane ride like a TSA approved road trip. I’m going to list everything I think you need to make your life easier at 32,000 feet. I’m going to show you how I fit the below items in a bag small enough bag to fit under your seat!

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  1. Important travel documents & medication. Just in case your bag ever gets checked, make sure all important documents and medication are in your small carry on item, such as copies of all your travel documents, passports (A PEN for customs forms ), boarding passes, etc. There are some really adorable wallets that can hold your passport, your boarding passes, your credit cards, and they have the RIFD technology. What is RIFD you ask? It’s just an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for someone to steal your credit card info.
  2. A change of clothes. This one becomes more difficult if you have kids or if you are going into a cold destination. But I think it is always a good idea to have in case something happens to your bag, which has been known to happen from time to time.
  3. An empty water bottle. Yes, I know TSA doesn’t allow full water bottles, but an empty one is totally okay. And  I would say a vast majority of airports if not all have a water fountain. Look, I mean this in the most loving way but I get a little annoyed when passengers come on and immediately ask for water. Were you not out in the terminal for goodness knows how long? Do you not see us trying to deal with catering, the pilots going in and out to check on the plane, your luggage, and all while trying to greet y’all with a smile? This is a simple solution to make everybody’s lives easier. On that note…
  4. Hydrate. More than just water, your skin gets so dry when you are in the air. My fix for this is lotion, facial mists, and chapstick. Facial mists just are a spritz of hydration to your face; I’m using one by Eau Thermale Avène at the moment and I love it. My go to chapsticks are Burt’s Bees, but just be sure to research before you buy to make sure you are getting a quality brand. And you can get all these products in a TSA approved size!
  5. Warmth. News flash people but it gets cold on planes! So please bring a small blanket, a jacket, or my favorite an oversized shawl. I love the multi-function of a shawl! Yes, I know, Im sorry we do not have blankets for your hour and half flight!
  6. Earphones. Even if there is no entertainment system on your flight, earphones are a good idea. They help block noises, such as a baby crying, or the two moms on their first girl trip since the kids who won’t stop talking, or maybe my lovely important announcements. Every plane is different, so please don’t assume your flight attendant has earphones for you. And that brings me to…
  7. Entertainment. Look we are flying at 32,000 feet, sometimes the wifi and entertainment system goes down, and no your flight attendant is not a technician and cannot magically fix it. All we can do typically is press reset and that is about all we can do. Especially if you have kids please bring their favorite small toy, or a coloring book, or cards. Some entertainment suggestions are downloading a movie or shows onto your iPad, a great book (I will be writing an article about my favorite travel books later), and a portable charger.
  8. Snacks. I’ll be the first to admit that I divulge more than I should in airplane food, but the simple fact is, airplane food is not good for you. It tends to be loaded with preservatives and sodium, so just bring some snacks. Some examples of approved food are fruit, a wrapped sandwich, pretzels, granola bars. However, if you are going to an international destination be sure to finish all fresh food before you arrive.
  9. Misc. Some of my favorite miscellanies items include eye masks, some tea to help calm me and hopefully put me to sleep (my favorite is Yogi’s Bedtime Tea) , and ear plugs. Especially if you are making a long international flight.
  10. The end stretch. Whether it is a two hour flight or an twenty hour flight by the end you will need to freshen up a little. I recommend some mints or the disposable toothbrushes (such as the Colgate Wisps), a hairbrush, deodorant, a touch up on your makeup, and depending on where you are flying into a change of clothes. I love how much lipstick can make you look put together, when really you’re actually being a walking zombie.

IMG_2599Respect & Manners. Ladies and Gentlemen you are flying at 32,000 ft in a metal tube, this is not your home, and yes its going to be a little cramped. So please be courteous not only to your fellow passengers but also your flight attendants. There is a good chance someone around you is fighting a battle you can’t see, so just always be kind and patient. Some people walk onto the airplane and it is as if no one ever taught them any manners. There are a couple of routes that are worse than others. But to tell you a secret I just smile and say Bless Their Heart. And on a final note please don’t take your frustrations on delays and mechanicals out on a flight attendant, trust me when we say we don’t want any of you to miss your connection or event, but we can’t control delays or mechanical any more than you can control the weather.  Just remember kindness and respect. Okay now you are ready for your flight!

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**Every airline is slightly different, so although I tried to make it a neutral article, some airlines might have different resources and policies than those that I listed. Happy flying!

 

Puerto Rico (April 2015)

Puerto Rico. My first trip where I tested the non-reving waters, I had no idea what I was even doing. I was going with my best friend Lindsey though for my birthday, so no one is better at going with the flow like her. The flights were all super full, but I was able to jumpseat and went down to Puerto Rico first. We figured this way I could go get the car from the rental company and go check into the hotel. The only problem was we sent the wrong person. I speak very little Spanish, while Lindsey is fluent in it. The road signs were in Spanish and the GPS used the metric system, also Puerto Rico has it’s own rules of the road, but we will get into that later. By time I managed to find my way to the hotel, park the car in this sketchy lot they had a mile away, get checked in, it was time to give myself another heart attack and drive back to go grab Lindsey from the airport. I made Lindsey drive back to the hotel. We were finally both in San Juan, it was surreal.

We were only spending a day in San Juan as it seemed like the rain forest would offer more adventures. Our plan was to go to dinner, take a power nap, and then hit the town. We were so tired from the process it took to get to San Juan that neither one of us felt like getting up to go out. It was probably for the best as we were able to wake up early, check out of our hotel and go explore Old San Juan. The colorful buildings, old forts, and crystal blue waters had us enchanted. We spent most of the day walking around el Morro. A former Spanish fort, until the US Navy was able to conquer the fort during the Spanish-American War. This was due largely to the fort having outdated equipment. After a morning of non stop walking and getting lost we finally headed to our hostel on the outskirts of the rainforest. When we arrived at the hostel, we learned we were the only two staying. The hostel was beautiful and I quickly found my spot, in a  hammock that overlooked the bay.

The next morning we headed to the rainforest and after getting lost a couple of times we arrived. We must have looked lost because a local offered to take us up into the rainforest  I would not normally recommend this, but there was two of us, and we trusted our gut. And he led us up into the rainforest on this crazy path, to the point where we had to hold on to vines to climb. It was not the path that most tourists take. To cool off about half way through he led us to a mini waterfall. The rainforest was like nothing I’ve experienced before and I sometimes had to stop to catch my breath but also take in the view. After the grueling hike he led us through this persons back yard into a local swimming hole. Where we jumped off a mini cliff to get down into the water. We laid out to dry off and watched the locals do dives and flips to jump into the water. Alas it was time to say goodbye to our local tour guide and get ready for dinner.

The couple who owned the hostel recommended a section to heads towards for dinner, once we were there we immediately saw people advertising for the bioluminescent bay. We walked around and asked and it appeared everything was sold out and we were about to give up when we were told that one group had a last minute cancellation and we jumped on the chance. What is a bioluminescent bay you ask? Well it is where a bay appears to have shooting comets under the water. (Warning: up coming science talk) This is due to a micro-organism called dinoflagellates who capture the light by their chlorophyll and the glow occurs whenever the organism is agitated. And the reason why the dinoflagellates thrive in this particular bay and few other locations is due to the small size of the bay and the abundance of mangroves which provide an excellent source of B12 which is necessary to their survival.  Okay enough science talk. The point is, it was beautiful, but also another risky adventure. For starters we were kayaking at night, and as previously mentioned there are a ton of mangroves surrounding the bay, and there are crocodiles and a couple of dangerous snakes in Puerto Rico, and Lindsey and I of course were leading the group and got separated once or twice. Once we were in the bay however it was lovely, the stars were bright, there was a peaceful silence, and of course underwater shooting stars. When we safely arrived back we walked around a little bit and came across more advertisements and found one where we would kayak and snorkel with sea turtles and sting rays. We jumped at it, since it would be our last full day in Puerto Rico.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and caught a ferry to an island off Puerto Rico called Culebra. Where we caught a van over to a beach and kayaked out, tied everybody’s kayaks together, and went snorkeling. If you know me, you know I love sea turtles, if I could be any animal it would be a sea turtle! For me that was the highlight of the trip being able to snorkel with them! It was a dream come true swimming with the sea turtles, the sting rays, and around the colorful coral! After we had our share of snorkeling (I could have floated with the sea turtles all day) we were shuttled to Flamenco Beach which was rated one of those most beautiful beaches in the world. I believe it! After a day of getting sun burnt it was time to head back to our hostel to pack up and head home.

Tips and Tricks on Puerto Rico (based off our visit):

  1. Eat the local cuisine! Plantains, so much plantains, you won’t be able to eat another banana for at least a month. Our favorite sweet treat was a pastry called Mayorca! They are a large distributer of rum and coffee, so both are always on the menu.
  2. Explore old San Juan, but adventure outside the city. There are so many great adventures to be had on this island. From hiking El Yunque (the only tropical rainforest in the United States) to snorkeling with sea turtles. And we did not even make it to the west coast of Puerto Rico which we heard moved at a slower pace and called the old Puerto Rico.
  3. Puerto Rico is not like any other part of the United States, sometimes it’s okay to not take the official tour guide but instead rely on a local. Just be safe and trust your gut.
  4. Renting a car is probably the cheapest option to really getting around Puerto Rico.
  5. The hostel we stayed at was really nice, if anyone is curious it was Hostel Bahia Del Paraiso in Naguabo, Puerto Rico.
  6. Driving in Puerto Rico gave me the biggest anxiety. Two ways roads would all of a sudden become one way, there were very few speed limit signs. I seriously made Lindsey drive most of the trip, because driving in Puerto Rico…ay dos mio!