Category Archives: Solo Travel

How Travel Has Helped Me To Be…. Me

You ever sit back and evaluate your life? I mean really sit and reflect on how far you’ve come? You remember that one thing that finally pushed you out of your comfort zone and sparked a change of pace for your growth? I can remember feeling like I needed something more out of the life I was living. I was merely existing, too scared to take a leap or give in to whatever crazy idea I had floating around in my head. Too scared of the possible outcomes of acting on something that I genuinely wanted to do. I placed limits on myself where there shouldn’t have been any.

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I went the majority of my life feeling like the person that I truly wanted to be wasn’t realistic. I couldn’t be adventurous with student loans. I couldn’t be inquisitive about exploring other parts of the world when I had a career to plan. I was responsible Latricia, who always made the most informed and logical decisions because I over analyzed everything. And then one day something happened. I stopped giving a f@$k. That one thing that pushed me out of my comfort zone? A plane ticket to Northern California. Travel is my thing. It keeps me sane and happy. Without it, I’m a grump.

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“I guess travel is so important to me because it gave me a voice I didn’t know I had.”

My path has not been easy ( I don’t think I know anyone who has had an easy path, honestly). But being able to travel has made it easier to balance, to center myself. I guess travel is so important to me because it gave me a voice I didn’t know I had. It made me more self aware. It made me less fearful. I gained a whole new outlook on life when I was in one of my darkest places. Meeting new people. Discovering new places. Immersing myself into a culture. Its all helped to shape me into the woman that I currently am. I’ve always been pretty self sufficient, but having to rely solely on myself and my ability to adapt to new things at a rapid pace in a completely foreign country has made me realize that I’m pretty f*$king fierce.

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I’ve learned that I enjoy my time alone more than anything else in this world. I stand firmer in my decisions to do things alone. And I’ve seen the fear of being alone slowly start to dissolve over the years since I ventured off onto my first solo trip. And yet on the contrary, travel has also turned me into somewhat of an extrovert. Me, the girl who would have instant anxiety attacks when walking through crowds of people in the student union on the way to class in college (social anxiety disorder is a bitch).

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Some may say that its not that deep. That life would go on without being able to take trips as freely as I want. And that is true. But man, would it suck (for me at least). Its like not being able to do the one thing that you’re passionate about. Life is all about finding your passions, exploring them and cultivating them. Life without passion is like sleep walking. I honestly am at a point now where I don’t know what I would do if I were not able to travel and explore. My ability to travel always come to mind when considering job offers. It comes into play when I plan out my yearly goals and when completing my personal budget.

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard

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There’s like this secret bond that I develop with every place I visit. For the duration of my trip, the destination knows my fears, my worries, my stressors and anything else that may cause me grief. I begin to get comfortable enough to where none of those things even matter anymore. All that matters is the moment with which I am in. This goes back to what I said earlier about being centered. I don’t have the usual distractions that Im used to at home and this new place requires all of my attention. And when its time to go back home, I take a little bit of each place with me. These little bits serve as reminders. Reminding me that I took a chance on life and chose to actually live it, full force.

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A Curly Conundrum: Natural Hair Maintenance while Traveling

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A self-proclaimed curly girl, I’ve been wearing my hair in its natural state for about 7 years. I cut it all off to start over after years of chemical processing. Best decision I ever made. Since I began seriously traveling about 5 years ago, I’ve learned what works for my hair (and what doesn’t) when I’m in a new place braving new elements.

Sometimes Humidity is Your Friend

I know you read that and thought “since when?”. I’m here to tell you, my best curls were on a trip to Miami. That Florida humidity whipped my curls right into shape. I only had to do water rinses and a light moisturizer and let nature do the rest. I usually co-wash every other day but that can cause build up.  Obviously, straightened hair in Florida is a resounding NO for me when visiting. Because then, me and the weather wouldn’t get along too much.

Hard Water Setbacks 

When I was preparing for my trip to Mexico, I knew the water wasn’t going to be all that great. So I planned for it by putting twists in my hair to prep for a twist out and packed my favorite moisture rich conditioner (Garnier Fructise). My twist out lasted me the first 2 days. I had also made a mixture of my favorite moisturizer diluted with a little water  and a light oil (I prefer grape seed or almond) and put in a spray bottle to create somewhat of a leave in conditioner. It worked wonders!

Windswept Days

For extremely windy days, I usually wore my hair pulled back. I would love to be able to whip my hair through the wind. However, the detangling process would be a nightmare. French braids and twists have helped me get through many windy days so that I could focus on my adventures ahead.

Dry and Dull

Drier climates I may opt to straighten my hair, depending on where I’m going. Both times I’ve visited Napa Valley, I’ve always worn my hair straight. No wind + No humidity= A great hair day. While visiting the Texas Hill country, it was a very dry heat. I wore my curls but kept a spray bottle with water handy to spritz when needed.

Some people skip the maintenance and opt for protective styles like weaves or braids. I’ve personally only wore weave in my hair once and it only lasted 3 days. The constant feeling of having a helmet on my head wasn’t appealing at all. This also makes swimming difficult, so it wouldn’t work for me since I like to swim under water.  A trick I learned for dealing with swimming pools and ocean water is to throw some conditioner on my hair before going swimming or simply wetting my hair before diving in. It helps alleviate the dryness that comes from salt water and chlorine.

I’m all for keeping it simple. The last thing I want to be worried about is being miles away from home suffering from bad hair days.

Wanderlust-ing: My 2015-16 Travel Wish List

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So I have finally put the finishing touches on my travel wish list! Because my job’s fiscal year is September through August, I have to plan my trips around our year beginning and end. This also aids in knowing which locations I can visit during what times of year for the best price, based on busy/slow months at the office. The list stretches into 2016 (I’m pretty handy with budgets and spreadsheets). I also incorporated a “wild card”, just in case I find some extra money floating around. What places does your travel wish list consist of?

1. Tulum

2. New Orleans

3. Oregon

4. Niagara Falls

5. Breckenridge, CO

6. Big Bend National Park, TX

7. Belize

8. Great River Road Drive (Louisiana road trip)

9. Ireland

10. Charleston, SC (wildcard)

Tulum: Day 2

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Slowly I’m falling in love with this place. Everything is so relaxed. The people are so friendly. The food is GOOD.  I’m so glad I decided to change my trip up last minute. It’s so quiet here, which is great for meditation. I slept like a baby last night. I’d like to thank the ocean and it’s crashing waves for that.

Today, I ventured off into town and to a cenote for some snorkeling. What a cool experience. The cenote was perfect for swimming. I found the ocean a little bit choppy.

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There weren’t many fish to see. But I did catch a glimpse of a few turtles. I then ventured off into town or Tulum Pueblo. I walked around, taking in the sights and people watching. Families walking together, friends chatting over cold ones. Something about Tulum gives me a huge sense of community. Like everyone looks out for each other. I will say this. The locals are way more friendlier than some of the out of towners. Locals didn’t hesitate to say hello. Everyone else took a bit more work. But whatevs, I didn’t come here solely to make friends.

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I decided to stop at El Tobano for lunch, where I had the best ceviche ever! Again, the waiters were super friendly and helpful. And the ginger margaritas were amazing! After I walked lunch off, it was beach time. I sat bathing in the sun, with a book I decided to re-visit (Hill Harper’s “The Conversation”). I seriously think I was a beach baby in another life. This is totally my happy place.

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Then came Gitano. I was a little skeptical about this place because of the mixed reviews. But the bartenders were pretty cool. They weren’t the chattiest, but if you spoke they weren’t hesitant to respond. I’ve never had a Mezcal before, so I gave Jungle Fever a try. Pretty good. Super strong! Or maybe I’m just a light weight.

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All in all, today was great. The day was gorgeous with its vast hues of blue and turquoise. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as great.

7 Basic Travel Tips for Beginners

Planning your first trip and trying to figure out pre-trip precautions? There’s nothing better than feeling fully prepared for a trip. Things happen, which is why its good to be as surprise proof as possible. Here are some of my basic travel preparation tips I’ve gathered along the way. For anyone just starting out with travel, whether it be domestic or international.

1. Call all banks and inform them of travel plans.

This is to make sure that your credit/debit cards have full functionality while you’re traveling. Most people do this when they travel internationally, but I have had my transaction denied while attempting to pay for gas in California. Highly inconvenient.

2. Write down all contact phone numbers of credit/debit cards in case of loss or theft.

This way you will be able to contact the institutions immediately if you suspect your cards have been lost or stolen. I try to keep a physical copy or store in my phone.

3. Send all trip itineraries and hotel information to a family member or friend.

I always send my flight and hotel information to my mom. If I’m going on a highly adventurous trip, I try to send her a round about summary of activities I plan to do, along with the times and days I plan to do them. Of course, this more so applies to short trips rather than extended stays.

4. Scan copies of driver’s license/passport.

This really comes in handy in case of theft or losing your wallet. Passports are kind of a big deal, and it can be a headache getting them replaced. So having a photocopy will give you a head start on the process. I either send the copies to my mom or save it somewhere I know I can have easy access to (Dropbox is cool because of the verification process in retrieving documents).

5. Purchase reusable toiletry containers.

This mainly applies if you only plan to use carry on luggage. Because I have naturally curly hair and because most of the products I use don’t come in travel sizes, this helps me maintain my mane. I simply pour my fave products into the containers and voila! Beats having to spend money on travel size toiletries.

6. Know before you go how much cash you’re going to withdraw.

This is why its a good idea to develop a trip budget! This mainly applies to foreign travel, just because of the international transaction fees charged by your bank. You don’t want to pay fees for multiple transactions because it adds up to a significant amount. So its good to take out money in one go, if possible. If you are traveling some place where most credit cards are accepted, keep in mind fares and tips for cab rides. Also, small local shops may not accept plastic.

7. Double-check hotel front desk hours.

The last thing you want is to have a delayed flight and show up to your hotel 3 hours later than planned, only to find out there is no one there to help you. Always check front desk hours and keep the hotel number handy to notify them in advance of any potential delays should you arrive after business hours.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful. Some I learned after the fact. But luckily you won’t have to worry about that:)