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Travel

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Planning a trip to Thailand? Find out what it’s like being a black tourist

I’ll start this post with a disclaimer that we had a great time, for the most part, in Thailand, and would definitely return. However, as black travelers, we had a few unpleasant experiences, and this post addresses that. “Do you know why I wear this umbrella?” Our Thai tour guide asks as we walk through the elephant nature park. “It’s so that I don’t get darker.” It’s a sunny, and very warm day in November, signature of the Thailand climate, and there is not much in the area in the way of sun protection. The land is flat, and the greenery has been cleared down. The handful of guides leading other groups of people around the park, are all wearing straw hats. Our brown-skinned guide continues his explanation on why he doesn’t want to get darker. He tells of how the darker skinned people in Thailand are looked down upon,…

9 reasons you should add Bali to your travel list

Bali, Indonesia was my first destination outside of North America, and my gateway into Southeast Asian culture. Just consider me a Balivangelist, because I will tell any and everybody that they need to go there. We (My husband Rob and I) originally chose Bali for three reasons: Its low cost of living The tropical climate Its location in Asia However, after spending three weeks exploring, I fell in love with the island, and would return in a heartbeat, but for reasons entirely outside of these factors. I would return for the beauty and calming-nature of the lusciously-green rice fields, for the delicious local and international cuisine, and for the rich culture. Everything else is just icing on the cake. This island within the Indonesian archipelago feels more vast than it looks. Nicknamed, ‘the island of the Gods’, the island has nearly two dozen cities and towns to choose from –…

Six lessons after six weeks abroad

This week officially marks six weeks since we said goodbye to our friends, packed up our backpacks, and headed to the airport to launch our travels. I was thrilled that it was finally travel day, but also filled with anxiety because all our friends were successfully settling down, buying homes, starting families, and progressing in their careers, while we were going on a complete alternate path. It led me to question our decision, but luckily, one of my best friends (without even knowing of my internal struggle) sent the sweetest note that reminded me of some of the reasons we chose to travel in the first place. She said I was taking control of my life, and that she was proud of me. “Take your happiness and your life into your own hands. Enjoy life. Travel the world. Don’t wait until they tell you that you have to retire to…

My holy grail of travel gear: Don’t travel without packing these items!

Let the internet tell it, and your travel must-haves would be a mile long, or more aptly, several suitcases full. I have read so many articles that include long checklists of everything from a headlamp to an emergency blanket to an “anti-crease shirt transporter.” But, most of these things would be better categorized as nice to haves (in my opinion, anyways). Excluding the absolute essentials like luggage, your electronics, rain jacket, underwear, and such, there are some items that I have found over the last month and a half to be my absolute must-haves — my holy grail of travel gear. 1. Travel adapter This is number one on my list for a reason. Traveling outside of North America requires different power needs, and without a travel adapter, I would have been unable to recharge my laptop, cell phone, and power bar. If my must-have list had a VIP section,…

A travel guide to Ubud, Bali

After three days of flying, and about an hour and a half of driving, my husband Rob and I finally arrived to our destination of Ubud, Bali. As the first city we visited in Bali, it was our introduction to Balinese culture. Ubud has the best of both worlds – a bustling tourist district filled with restaurants and shops, and on the outskirts, a calmer zone with breathtaking views of the sprawling rice fields, and farmland. The centre of the town had a familiar energy. It felt like I was walking the downtown strip of my hometown of Nassau, Bahamas (save for the language differences). Much like Nassau, Ubud is a town that is reliant on tourism, and it is reflected in the streets, in the people, and in the culture. The main streets in this area of Ubud bustled with a mixture of taxis, scooters, and pedestrians crossing to…

Six must eat spots in Ubud, Bali

I had one of the best pizzas in my life in Ubud. It was from a booth-sized restaurant on a busy side street that happened to be one of the only places open after 10pm. It was a last ditch effort for food, after the restaurant we had really wanted to go to was closed. But, when I took that first bite, I was completely caught off guard. via GIPHY I wasn’t ready for the flavors, and the authentic taste. Bali is generally known for being a place where people can enjoy a tropical vacation at a fraction of the price. And I can tell you that food, especially international food had never crossed my mind when I thought of Bali. That is until now. In my mind, Ubud will forever be linked with the quality of its cuisine. I have had some of the best food here — to…

Do minimalists have more opportunities?

In just over one week, nearly everything that I own will be in one carry-on sized backpack. Everything I will need for my day-to-day living for the next four months (and potentially beyond) will be in this bag. And if I’m being honest — this terrifies the bejesus out of me. This process of preparing for travel has taken my minimalism journey to new levels. At this point, it’s not exactly an active choice that I’m making – I just don’t have the space for anything else. But oddly, as terrifying as it is, it also feels equally as rewarding. I feel that my ability to be unattached is unlocking so many opportunities. While I may feel free as a bird now, this is a stark contrast to one year ago. At this point, my husband Robert and I had recently upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment, a place where we…

Escape to Exuma, Bahamas: 3 days in paradise

The Exumas are one of those places where you see a picture, and you immediately know you have to go there. I don’t remember exactly when this moment was for me — but I’ll place it somewhere during high school, more than 10 years ago. I’m thrilled that after so many failed attempts (Rob and I were actually supposed to honeymoon here), I finally made the trip with my family for a 3 day adventure. As our airplane approaches the Exumas, still several thousands of feet above the ground, the beauty of the islands are beginning to unfold. The Exumas unleash their charm, revealing a delicate and charming presence scattered along a chain of more than 360 islands and cays — most of it pure and unspoiled. The water surrounding these islands and cays is completely clear, save for the patches of a darker blue formed by the shadowing of the clouds.…

I quit my job today

Every weekday for the last two years, I have taken the journey up the 24 step staircase that leads to my office. What may seem like an insignificant conduit between the building’s front door on the ground floor, and my second floor office holds so much meaning to me. My life has come full circle, walking up and down these steps – it is where my journey at this company began, and now, where my journey has come to an end. I remember the nerves and anxiety I felt my very first time stepping foot on them for my job interview. Hopefulness and ambition climbing the staircase on my first day on the job. Gloom and melancholy on mornings when I would have much rather stayed in bed. Excitement every Friday at 5PM as I would be practically running to start my weekend. And today, a mixture of sadness, joy…

We travel hacked our way to free flights around the world. Here’s how we did it

It’s official — we booked our tickets. This is me trying to be calm and cool and collective, while meanwhile inside I’m really like… via GIPHY I feel like I’m living in some sort of dream land, and some loud noise from outside, or the ring of my phone will wake me up and push me back into reality. To say, I am excited, would be a massive understatement – but at this point, I don’t know what else to say. So folks, I am excited. After months of research and planning, we turned this concept that was so crazy and foreign to us, initially,  into an actionable plan, and made it real life. At the age of 27, we are taking what seems to be a leap of faith to many,  putting aside typical life goals, and taking time to ourselves. I’d say we both have somewhat of a…