Do I Have Zika?

As you all know, this Summer was filled with Caribbean flavor. From Barbados to Trinidad to Guyana, I consciously ignored the travel warnings about Zika floating throughout the tropical region. I never thought I would contract the disease and imagined dousing myself in mosquito repellent. I knew there was still a probability of extracting the disease, but considered the risk minimal.

Lesson #1: You are not immune.

So many of us think that we are invincible; that things can not touch us. So we are reckless. We allow ourselves to be reckless. To do reckless things. To give in to our inner desire for danger, and adventure. 

I loved Trinidad most, of the places I visited in the Caribbean. It felt like home. A place that seemed to fit in places you didn't know could heal you, love you, and feed you (and boy, could they feed you!). Trinidad was magical like that. I stayed at Pearl's Guesthouse. It's a beautiful Victorian home with hospitable hosts and kind, enlightening travelers. There I met a friend who showed me around Port of Spain, took me to eat Bake and Shark, and introduced me to how Trinidadians live. 

After some time, I left Pearl's Guesthouse and began my first Couchsurfing adventure (read here) with Phyllis. Phyllis showed me a whole new world. We explored a good part of Trinidad and she introduced me to the warmest of her friends. In the weeks I stayed with Phyllis, I heard of 2 individuals who had contracted Zika: my friend from Pearl's Guesthouse, and a friend of Phyllis'. This got me thinking heavily about my chances of getting Zika. 

Was I being careful? Was I using the right mosquito repellent? Had I even been wearing repellent? Sometimes, but not consistently enough.

Thankfully, neither of the individuals who contracted Zika were women of child bearing age. But I am. I had researched and found the best mosquito repellent spray before embarking on this adventure to the Caribbean, I had just been failing to apply it regularly. It seems that I planned to have this amazing repellent, but never put it on. Lazy girl issues. 

Lesson #2: When you adequately prepare, make sure you follow through with your plan, especially if it's life or death

So I started to regularly wear this repellent, dousing myself in it every morning after my shower. It lasted me all day, was never sticky or oily, and had no foul smell. Deet was the best! It saved my life. As it turns out, I DIDN'T get Zika, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't have. I put myself in a risky situation that could have permanently altered my life or my future child's. Which leads me to lesson number three.

Lesson #3: The universe always has your back.

Sometimes you make dumb decisions, take a big risk and regret it after the fact. Sometimes you have unprotected sex and you end up pregnant, other times you don't. Sometimes you make an illegal U-turn and no cop catches you, other times they do. Sometimes you fly to a Zika infested region, don't use mosquito repellent and still don't contract Zika, but other times you do.

No matter where you end up, there is a reason you are there. I was blessed, but others weren't as fortunate as I. There is always a time to take into consideration the risks and benefits before making careless decisions. It wasn't till recently that I've noticed the long-term effects Zika can have on people, and it's particularly difficult when the individuals suffering are people you have grown close to. So spray that Deet! 

What risky behavior have you participated in? Did it work out? Did the risk outweigh the benefits? Let me know in the comments below!


Happy Wandering...



9 Essentials for Every Plane Ride

Hopping on a plane can be exhilarating, terrifying, boring, entertaining and everything in-between. To make the best of your experience, there are some required essentials that you shouldn't forget. Lucky for you, I've labeled them all for you. Why should you trust me? I've been on over 30 flights in the last 9 months. This has taught me way more than I would like to know about planes, and how to make the most of them. So here is your official list:

A sweater
In general, airports are cold, so you'll need it there, but being elevated thousands of feet in the air makes it a necessity for the plane. I've only ever been on one flight that was hot, while on every other one, I shivered. Yes, the airline will most likely supply you with a blanket, but is it enough? No. Bring your coziest sweater and nestle comfortably.

It doesn't matter if you applied moisturizer after your shower that morning, on the car ride to the airport, or 3 seconds before they called for boarding, you will need lotion. Your skin will get drydrydry. My hands have actually started to hurt from being so ashy, and LAWD don't get me started on those feet! Just save yourself the embarrassment, the hassle and the ultimate struggle. Pack a nice sized lotion to keep you moisturized in that dry sky.

The sweater is for your top half, the socks are for your bottom half (sort of). Not sure if your calves ever get cold (weirdo) but mine don't. The best advice I can give you is to slather lotion on your feet and slip the socks on almost immediately, barely giving any air a chance to creep through. I'm so serious about not allowing my feet to snap, crackle, pop from all the ash that would accumulate. Also, while your butt, and your top half will have some friction with the seat, your feet are dangling all lonesome. Show them some love, bring socks.

To continue with the "dry" theme, don't forget about those precious lips! Dab some Vaseline on them or bring along your favorite Burt's Bees flavor and thank me later (*cue Drake*). Cracked lips are not cute on anyone, so be prepared.

It helps when your ears pop, which I have almost gotten used to. Not to mention, when your breath is as hot as the flames of hell, it helps to keep it at bay, specifically during those long flights. If not for you, just keep some present for the poor kid next to you. Save them from embarrassment and yourself from smelling their horrid breath. Imagine them sleeping with their mouth open and snoring in your direction, yuck! 

Travel Pillow
I used to think these things were so bougie, until I invested in one. On long airplane rides, or if you anticipate on taking a nap during your voyage, there is nothing better. It helps keep your head in place so you're not looking like a bobble-head in these streets. Find one that's perfect for you, there are millions to choose from. I love the ones with memory foam!

It works the best for me and reduces my headache pain. Sometimes the cheapest flights aren't the easiest ones, and since I'm always looking for the best deal, I often end up with dummy-induced headaches. Those are headaches brought on by dealing with, you guessed it, dummies. So in times of need, I require that my Advil is handy. You never know who you'll encounter, keep your Advil on deck!

Wet Wipes
I keep these handy because they are great sanitizers for those yucky bathrooms, and they're refreshing! Don't bother getting out of your seat to wash your hands before and after you're served food, just pull out a wet wipe! They also smell great and will leave you feeling clean.

This sounds like a ridiculous essential because "I can just borrow one from someone, right"? Wrong my love, individuals are ever so un-prepared. On most international flights, you will be required to fill out some type of paperwork for entry. You could wait until you land and head over to the designated tables that provide pens with everyone else. Just be prepared to wait...forever. Or, you can bring a pen, fill the sheets out on the plane, and pass the masses. #travelhack

Don't be a dupe while traveling! Remember these essentials to make your plane ride as comfortable as possible, whether you're sitting first class or towards the back of the plane. The majority of these essentials requires that you not depend on anyone for anything. Don't depend on the airline to give you a blanket because they might not, don't depend on someone's shoulder to sleep on, bring your travel-pillow, and don't depend on your saliva to keep your lips moisturized, gross. Be adult, be prepared, and get ready to begin your journey!

What are some of your essentials? Let me know in the comments below?


Happy Wandering

10 Ways To Discover A New City

Being in a new city can be daunting. Visiting, just moved or passing through somewhere new?

Here are some tips I've collected throughout my travels to help me get the most out of each place I wander into, no matter how short or long the stay.

1. Walk
Though not all cities are walkable, there are many that are, and if you happen to be in one then that is exactly what you should be doing. Walk down the streets, around the corners, walk everywhere. Besides it being a great form of exercise, which you will undoubtedly need after all the amazing food you'll want to try, it's a great way to discover a new city. The only way to find those unforgettable hole-in-the-wall's is by walking.

2. Public Transportation
As noted, not all places are easy to walk, if this is the case, then utilize the public transportation system. Even in times when you can walk around, realize that you can only walk but so far. Taxi's are for chumps! Do you want to be a chump? Didn't think so. Now get on that train, tram, bus, subway, metro, whatever. To really uncover the gems of a new place, you must live as the people there live, and unless they have "racks on racks" as my friends would say, they're most likely using one of these forms of transportation. 

3. Talk to Locals
They live in the place for goodness sakes, so who would know the place better? In most places they are more than happy to lend a helping hand. Unless you're in France...sorry Frenchies, your reputation precedes you. (Although in my short 12 hours there, I found one very kind man who was the greatest.) Locals have almost always pointed me in the right direction. Make sure you ask them to tell you where they would go, not where they think you would want to go. You don't want to go to the tourist spots, get a genuine feel of this new place!

4. Get Lost
Today in Turkey, I got extremely lost. Had no idea where I was, and I had the best day ever! Getting lost is beautiful. Sure scary, but oh so wonderful. You come across things you normally wouldn't and are pleasantly surprised by all that you do. Get lost, make the wrong turn, figure it out. Your adventure is awaiting in your confusion. Suppress your need to ask for directions and try to go with the flow. You will appreciate it in the long run. 

5. TripAdvisor/Lonely Planet
No one goes to China and doesn't want to see the Great Wall of China. You don't go to France and not see the Eiffel Tower. It's a part of the experience. For these reasons, I would use TripAdvisor/Lonely Planet. See what is worth your time, and what isn't exactly your cup of tea. Sometimes you don't know what the great things to do are, and this will give you the most touristy of touristy things to see and do. Not a bad idea because at the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, you still kinda are a tourist. Sorry love! Experience the Hagia Sophia and the Taj Mahal with the other tourists before going upon your own route.

6. Tourist Traps
You will undoubtedly get caught in one. It's going to happen. Don't run from it, just take it in. Learn from it and then never get caught again. You will pay too much for a cab before knowing how the metro works, you will pay $10 for a jacket and think it's a steal, until you discover you could have gotten it for $5. It's ok, roll with the punches my friend, just make sure you are learning from them.

7. Get Out
Don't stay locked up in your hostel/hotel attached to your computer/phone and ravaging for WiFi. Yes you might miss home, and you're you, so home definitely misses you, but don't waste your time trying to not miss out. In your FOMO anxiety, you will miss out on what's right in front of you. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. will all be exactly where you left them when you return. Someone will post about their pregnancy, another about an engagement, a marriage, a breakup, a hook-up. Do you really care? Go somewhere! Do something! Don't let FOMO hold you back! This city needs discovering! 

8. Learn the Language
Locals are so much more receptive when they see you trying. They will laugh at your attempts, but internally they will be so pleased that you're trying. Learning the language doesn't necessarily mean you have to take a course. Learn the basics: please, thank you, hello, goodbye, bathroom (that one is important). What better way to immerse yourself in the culture than to slowly figure out what the heck everyone is saying.

9. Find a Friend
They are everywhere! In your hostel, on the streets, at the cafe you like to frequent, there are people waiting to be your friend. Who wouldn't want to be? It's you for crying out loud. Friends can help you get out, can teach you new things and show you all the places they've already discovered. Bond over your love of the city, your hate of the city, whatever! You don't know it all, so find someone who can teach you some things, and who you can enlighten. Discover the city together.

10. Enjoy!
The best way to discover a new city is to enjoy it. No matter the turns and tumbles life hands you, have a great time. The whole reason you're in this new place is to enjoy, so don't deny yourself this wonder. Walk around and enjoy, get on a tram and enjoy, find friends and enjoy, meet locals and enjoy. You get to be somewhere new, even if for a little while, so smile fellow wanderer. The city is welcoming you, so welcome it back!


Hope these tips will help you to get out and discover your newest adventure!

What other tips do you have for learning about a new place? Let me know in the comments below!


Happy Wandering...