5 Ways to Combat Pre-Trip Nervousness

In mere hours, I’m leaving for the airport. After a two-hour flight, I’ll finally be able to start my China Adventure. For some reason, I’m very nervous about the trip. The logistics of getting from here to the airport, meeting up with my tour group, and taking the subway is blowing my mind.
For last two weeks my mind has been flooded with everything that could go wrong. So, I’ve triple checked everything and packed days in advance. We’ll see how this planning thing works out. (If you can’t tell, I’m usually a wait until the last-minute  kind of person.)
 
Now that I’m just twiddling my thumbs, I decided to write about essential steps to take when planning a trip to China – or anywhere. I hope they come in handy.
 

5. Confirm in Advance

A few weeks after reserving plane tickets or hotel/hostel reservations, I always call or email to confirm that everything is in order.

4. Look Up Directions Before You Get Lost

When traveling alone, I find it really comforting to look up directions before the trip. Obviously , you can’t schedule and mapquest every moment of the trip but you can save time by finding out how to get to the hotel or a main attraction.

3. Go App Crazy

I spent most of the week looking up apps that will be helpful. I found a few phrase books, translators,and maps that all work offline for when I’m in a jam.

2.  Budget Your Money

Making sure you have enough money for food,transportation,shopping, and sightseeing is imperative. It also helps to have some funds set aside for emergencies. 

1. Double Check One Last Time

For this point I have a little story .

One spring break upon a time, me and two friends planned a trip to Florida. It was March and still snowing in NYC so we were eagerly awaiting beaches and shorts. In line for security,  my friend-let’s call her Red- started looking through her bag and pockets for her ID. I made a funny little comment about how horrible it would be if she forgot it , we all laughed, and then seconds later, she turned and said, “No. I really don’t have it.”

We ended up getting the ID in time but in some freak accident , we  ended up boarding the plane without Red and spent our first hours of vacation waiting for her to fly in on a later flight.

My friends and I constantly talk and laugh about this accident now but at the time it was a really tense sequence of events. It all could have been prevented if we took a few minutes to check everything before leaving home.

What are some other essential things to do before going on a trip?

Away to China I Go

Photo Credit:Wikimedia commons.org

Photo Credit:Wikimedia commons.org

In two weeks’ time, I’ll be on my way to Beijing, China.

Shortly after arriving in Korea, I invested in the 8-day tour with Gap Adventures. The first few days will be spent exploring Beijing (I’ve already been day dreaming about pandas and toboggan rides down the Great Wall). From there I’ll head to the see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an and after a few more stops and an overnight train through the countryside, I’ll spend my last weekend sightseeing in Shanghai.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months but I’ve also been eager to start documenting my adventures.

So, in the upcoming weeks expect lots of pre and post-trip posts.

Updated Blog Awards

In the past month and a half, I somehow managed to rack up 3 –yes 3!- award nominations. I delayed sharing the news because I wanted to wait until I had enough time to mull over wordpress and find new travel bloggers. As soon as I finished the first list another nomination came in and then another. Instead of putting it off longer, I decided to switch up the rules. I’ll pick 5 bloggers for each award and include them all in this post. * There was one more award from The Travel Wench but her site seems to be down at the moment. When she’s back online, I’ll add her award as well*

Thanks once again to everyone who nominated me. 

liebster-blog-awards

First up, is the Liebster Award given to me by The Harrises of Chicago .  This one requires 11 random facts to share, 11 travel questions to answers, and 11 questions to ask the new nominees.

11 Facts:

11. Recently, I’ve started reading grammar books for fun.

10. I’ve loved Motown music since the age of 8.

9. I went to my first concert alone at age 18.

8. At one time I had 11 piercings.

7. I never realize how much I like living somewhere until I move.

6. I don’t like eating foods that are filled with things. For examples, jelly -filled donuts or cheese- stuffed anything.

5. I was a vegetarian for three years and still feel uncomfortable eating certain types of meat.

4.  I’ve wanted a pet bunny since I was 12.

3.  There’s only one animal that I’m absolutely terrified of. I won’t reveal what it is here because I fear the information will fall into the wrong hands and someone will use it to blackmail me.

2. There are two books I remember most vividly from childhood: Big Brother and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

1. The one thing I’m most proud of? I usually accomplish the things I say going to do—even if I don’t do it quite the way I thought I would or if it takes longer than I expected.

On to the 11 questions:

1.What is your favorite destination?

So far, my favorite place was London. 

2.Are you multi-lingual?

I can speak Spanish but am nowhere near fluent.

3. Where is the one place you MUST visit?

Oh no! I can’t narrow my list down to one place… but I definitely don’t want to die without seeing all of Africa.

4.Good or bad- what surprised you most about a location you visited?

Back in Spain- and now in South Korea -the number of stares I get is always surprising.

5. Do you prefer well-planned or improvised travel excursions?

I like to plan enough so that I know the major to-dos and where I’m going to sleep for the night. Other than that, I like just wandering and getting lost.

6. To which location is the farthest destination you’ve traveled?

South Korea.

7.  What are the tip 5 items on your bucket list?

Visit every continent before age 30,  live in London, travel to Africa, learn how to swim, become fluent in Spanish.

8.What do you dislike most about traveling?

The fact that I always leave without seeing something or going somewhere I wanted  to.

9. What do you love most about traveling?

Personally experiencing the cultures and things I’ve read about or saw in movies.

10. Have you ever lived outside of your birth country?

Yes! I spent a semester living in Granada , Spain and I am living in Pohang,South Korea right now.

11. Do you mix service projects with your travels?

In Spain, I would feed the homeless weekly with a group of other students.  Here in South Korea, I’m looking for similar opportunities.

Now, 11 questions for the nominees:

1.What attracted you to a life of travel?

2. What is the top thing on your travel bucket list?

3. Do you prefer solo or group travel?

4.What do you find to be the hardest part of maintaining a travel blog? Which is the most fulfilling?

5.How does life abroad change the way you view your own country?

6.What was the biggest mistake you’ve made while traveling?

7.Do you read any travel publications? If so, what are they?

8.What is the one comfort item must you have on the road?

9.What do you miss the most about home while traveling?

10. How long have you been actively traveling?

11.What travel experience has had the most impact on you? 

  And finally, introducing the 5 nominees:

The Unwitting Traveller 

Travel.Food.Ideas

Temporarily Lost 

Pinky Binks

What an Amazing World 

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award1

The next award is the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers gifted to me from Footprints and Memories.  I’m very honored to be perceived as a “World Blogger” so many thanks to Amy. This award requires me to answer 10 questions and pass it on to other bloggers.

First , the questions:

1. Your favorite color?

Pink 🙂

2. Your favorite animal?

It’s a tie between bunnies and alligators. Quite random, I know.

3.Your favorite drink?

I love coffee. Especially carmel-flavored coffee.

4. Facebook or Twitter?

I’m not big on social media ( You can ask my 14 twitter followers)  but I do realize it’s important in this industry. Maybe , I’ll start tweeting soon. 

5. Your favorite pattern?

I’m not sure. I’m pretty girly so naturally I’m attracted to anything with hearts.

 6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

 I like picking out  unique gifts tailored  for  the individual. I try to remember tidbits about people so I can get them things they really like. 

 7.Your favorite number?

 3

 8.Favorite day of the week?

Saturday.

 9. Favorite flower:

I don’t think I have one. 

 10.What is your passion?

 I’m passionate about traveling and writing and finding ways to combine the two.

 Here are my 5 nominees for this award:

 Go Where There is no Path and Create a Trail 

 After Musing

 The Friendly Giraffe

 A Thinking Traveler 

 The Vintage Postcard  

Hello, South Korea :Jeonju Hanok Village

It’s  hard to believe thar this week marks my month anniversary in South Korea. Between starting work, finishing up my EPIK orientation, and trying to settle in to a new life I haven’t blogged at all. It’s about time I catch up and what better way to start than with my first official outing in South Korea – Jeonju Hanok Village .

Walking into Jeonju Hanok Village

Walking into Jeonju Hanok Village

Located in the now developed city of Jeonju, Hanok Village is a well-preserved testament to traditional Korean culture.

Along with my orientation group, I  started off with a walk through the village that included a stop at a traditional paper factory and store. We got to see how the women actually make the paper goods from start to finish. And of course we got to view the finished paper craft products in the near-by store.

Making Paper

Making Paper

Paper  Crafts

Paper Crafts

Paper Crafts

Paper Crafts

After a sampling of traditional Korean wine, we headed off to view many of the historical buildings in the village. Among these were the first Christian church built in the area, a  school-house, and numerous religious sites.

These curved roofs are a signature part of Jeonju Hanok Village

These curved roofs are a signature part of Jeonju Hanok Village.

Schoolhouse

Schoolhouse

First Christian Church

First Christian Church

The highlight of the day was lunch. It was my first time getting to try bibimbap. The dish is as traditional as Korean food gets and is one of the main reasons people travel to Jeonju. They’re known for making the best bimimbap.

bibimbap

bibimbap

A Typical Korean Lunch

A Typical Korean Lunch

I burned off lunch with a quick walk around the neighborhood. I wondered in and out of more shops, found some intriguing street art, and even more intriguing street food. Worthy mentions were hottek ( a pancake filled with brown sugar and served warm) and it’s even more appetizing counterpart–silk worms.

Silk Worms -Yummy

Silk Worms -Yummy

The day ended with a traditional drumming lesson and a tea ceremony , which for me , was the highlight. A woman dressed in an extravagant Hanbok(a type of Korean dress)  schooled us on the origins of Koreans’ love affair with tea, why green tea is so healthy, and how to properly make and serve a cup.

The Tea Ceremony Begins!

The Tea Ceremony Begins!

Instructer in traditional  Hanbok

Instructer in traditional Hanbok

Attempting to play the drums.

Attempting to play the drums.

Jeonju Hanok Village offers a lot more than I got to experience. If you’re ever in the area you can try making your own paper crafts, learn to do the dragon dance, and even spend the night in their village’s sleeping accommodations. 

 

Bye,Philly: The Road to South Korea

My last week in Philly was supposed to be epic. I was going to do so many things and have so much material for this blog. I planned out a week that included seeing the Liberty Bell, stopping by the Edgar Allan Poe House, a photo next to the Declaration of Independence and finishing it all up with one more night on the town in South Philly.

Instead , I did a lot of cleaning, packing, and stocking up on deodorant. Then  I had family to say goodbye to, friends taking me out for farewell drinks, and on my very last day-I just wanted to sleep in my own bed one last time.

However, I did manage to fit some exciting things in my last weeks at home .

My friends took me to Korea Town in NYC to prepare. We stopped by the Mandoo Bar and I had my first taste of Korean food. It was pretty good but I must say-the food here in South Korea tastes better. Maybe it’s just the environment? 

Mandoo Bar 

2 W. 32nd St( Between 5th Ave and Broadway), NYC

Kimchi

Kimchi

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Mandoo

Miel Patisserie 

204 S. 17th St. Philadelphia, PA

Back in Philly, a high school buddy and I tried out Miel Patisserie, a bakery in the downtown area. The prices here are a bit high for the small pastries but they’re pretty rich. You can probably get a coffee drink and a sweet or two for under ten dollars. It’s a nice place to come for a quite chat or to catch up on some work alone. They also serve lunch here so that might be another option.

Macaroons and Latte

Macaroons and Latte

Vango Lounge & Skybar 

116 S. 18th St , Philadelphia, PA

Next up we stopped by Vango Bar. I was bit skeptical about this place; they have some pretty horrible reviews on Yelp.com but my friend had a Groupon special and cheap drinks are better than none. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised. The staff was nice and courteous, the drinks strong and generous, and the food was the best I had in a long time.We shared four small plates of spicy tuna roll, vegetable dumplings, grilled claims, and teriyaki chicken. It was delicious-especially the  sushi. The decor is pretty special too-glass bottles are actually built in to the wall and illuminated and instead of chairs, there are couches for you to recline on. If you want a party, I suggest coming during the weekend after 8pm. If you just want to relax and enjoy your company, try a weeknight or come before 7. We visited during the slow hours and found everything to be great.

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Snapshots of McClellanville,SC

After our stop at the South of the Border, we continued on to our destination: McClellanville, SC. This is where most of my maternal side of the family originated from and that fact is apparent even when driving around the town today.

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My cousins still live in the same house my great-grandmother owned and I have cousins as young as 14 who are still attending the same high school my grandmother graduated from in the ’50’s.  There’s a graveyard behind a church where over a dozen of the great-aunts, great-uncles, cousins, and the infamous great-grandmother I grew up hearing about are resting. It feels a bit contrived to say I feel a connection to a place I’ve visited maybe two or three times in my life. Even so, standing on a dock where my  great-grandfather used to shrimp  some 80 years ago is a feeling that I don’t think can be recreated anywhere else.

Even if you’re not kin to me, I would suggest visiting McClellanville if you ever get the chance. It’s a tiny fishing town with every type of seafood you can imagine, people who look you in the eye and greet you when passing, and lots of small town charm.

A country road in the middle of the afternoon

A country road in the middle of the afternoon

The Shrimping Docks

The Shrimping Docks

 This seems to be the golden rule of Mccleallanville

"Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Imported Shrimp."

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Imported Shrimp.”

South of the Border

Last month, my family went down to McClellanville , South Carolina to attend a funeral and visit other relatives. (There’ll be a separate post on that soon.)  On the way down there, we stopped at South of Border. It’s a famous landmark on the border of North & South Carolina.  It’s not as impressive as it was in recent years and it was unsurprisingly dead in the middle of January. However, if you’re passing by during the summer and need to stretch your legs, it’s worth a visit. They have some interesting restaurants (ice cream and corn dogs, anyone?), a new attraction called Reptile Lagoon, and lots of shops and rides to keep everyone entertained.

You’ll See the Signs A Mile Away

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Browse The Merchandise- Don’t Forget The Fireworks!

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One Lovely Blog Award


Today , I feel like I’ve accomplished something. The very gracious Rockmad of Rockmad & Sweetums has nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. It’s been enough just to receive response through likes and comments but to know someone likes my blog enough to nominate it is beyond great.

So without further  ado, I present to you the rules of The One Lovely Blog Award:

1.Thank the person who nominated you (Thanks Rockmad!)

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3.Nominate 15 bloggers you admire

4.Leave a comment on each of these blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

 

First up, 7 Things:

1.I was terrified of flying until last year. After 14 flights in one year , I’m missing being airborne.

2.I’m obsessed with reliving the good ol’ 90’s. I spend my free time on Youtube looking up Nicktoons. I think my favorite is Hey Arnold or Doug.

3.I’m also obsessed with Harry Potter. I’m trying to read the series in Spanish.

4.I’m very accident-prone. I ended up in the E.R after trying to cook dinner when I was 15, my baby toes are crooked because I’ve broken them so many times, and just a few weeks ago I managed to pepper spray myself.

5.I also have the tendency to almost drown. It started when about I was about 4 and my cousin had to jump in the pool, Baywatch style, to save me.

6.I am a freelance writer for Sesi Magazine and just finished an article I’m really proud of.

7.Just in case you haven’t noticed-my favorite color is pink  .

 

Next, The 15 blogers I want to pass this award to are :

Get Set and Go

AyoOutloud

Travellersoul76

Liz’s Fantabulous Day 

The Wanderlust Gene

Pound per Pound

My nyc photography

Life portOfolio

EmilyLuxton

Curvy Girl on a Budget

One Stop Backpackers

Wanderlust

The Walk & Talk

Elena Levon

                                                                           Tahira 

I’ll be contacting everyone shortly and my next post will soon be up!

Check Out Sesi Magazine & Update

I’ve mentioned before that I just graduated from college this past May with a degree in English & minor in Hispanic Studies. We won’t talk about how the employment search has been going but I do want to highlight one writing opportunity (besides this blog) I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.

Sesi Magazine is a first of its kind; it’s aimed at African -American Girls between the ages of 12 to 19 and provides a community for them by covering topics relating to school life/college,beauty, fashion and much, much more. 

Sesi Magazine is hoping to relaunch this Winter and needs some help getting on local shelves. Distribution would make this publication more accessible and affordable for its audience.

Click here to read more about Sesi Magazine and its cause or here to read my blog posts, and others, at Sesi’s blog site.

Please spread the word!

And Now For Me

I’ve also said before that I’m dedicated to living a life of travel and I wanted to share my first step to fulfilling that dream. I recently signed up for a TEFL course and , hopefully, after completing it in December I’ll be off to some distant and unknown land. I figure there’s no better time than now. I’m really excited about the possibility of teaching abroad and , of course, actively traveling again. You all know I spent last fall studying in Granada and , before that, I studied Spanish in high school and college. It’s going to be interesting being on the other side. 

Coming soon: A list of the funniest things overheard while traveling and an overview of my time in Rome, Italy.