On the Concept of Home

home sweet home

In my short 30 years on this planet, I have lived in more than 18 homes. Most of these have been centered around two geographic areas, but 18 different bedrooms, 18 different streets, and 18 different Zip codes nonetheless.

When I decided to stay put in Pennsylvania for a while after my travels, I had to register my car in state and get a new driver’s license. The lady at the DMV noticed in my records that I’d previously lived in Pennsylvania, and when she handed me my paperwork to go have my photo taken, she simply said, “welcome home, honey.” Welcome home. It’s something I haven’t really stopped thinking about since.

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Top Destinations for First-Time Solo Female Travelers

top destinations for first-time solo female travelers

I’m not the world’s foremost expert on solo female travel, but I have traveled around (at least) ten countries alone so I have a bit of insight on the subject. There are people on both sides of the fence regarding solo female travel–some are strongly for it and some are strongly against it. I fall on the side that stands strongly for it. While I don’t like always traveling alone, I think there’s something really special about going it solo–relying on yourself for every decision, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, etc. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and the world while traveling solo.

Before my very first solo trip, I was so nervous that my teeth were chattering and I swore my heart my burst. Things were a bit crazy, but I fell into a routine that was comfortable for me. Then, years later, when I decided to travel alone for an extended period of time, I was dreaming up every imaginable horrible thing that could possibly happen to me. I decided that the best way to go about it was to ease myself into the long-term solo travel by starting with an “easy” country. So, with that, here are my top solo female travel destinations.

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Photo Friday: Philadelphia

philadelphia skyline from loews hotel

I’m not typically a fan of overly processed photos, but I loved playing with this photo of Philadelphia’s skyline. I made probably 15 different edits of this in a variety of ways, but I loved this super saturated and colorful version of this city that I love. I usually stay with friends when I go into the city, but this particular time I stayed at the Loews and requested a view of City Hall (my favorite building) and was rewarded with quite the view. Watching the sun go down over the city was fabulous and made for quite a few great photos over the course of that long weekend. Philadelphia is such a beautiful city, and this view was perfection.

What to Wear: Maxwell Scott Bags

maxwell scott medolla

For years I’ve been searching for the perfect bag to travel with. I’m not only picky when it comes to the style of the bag, but there’s a big bill to fit in terms of must-haves. I want something that is classic and can be carried in any season, any country, and with any outfit. I need something that offers organization; is large enough to hold everything I might need for an entire day out on the town; that can be carried cross-body (bonus points of the strap is adjustable to be carried on my shoulder); and that has either a zipper or flap closure to keep away those prying hands. While it might sound like a lot, I don’t think any of these things is extraordinary. So why is it so difficult to find one bag that encompasses all of this?

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Traveling with an Anxiety Disorder

anxiety girl

I have touched on my issues with anxiety in other posts, but never fully in depth. I think a lot of people are unfamiliar with exactly what it means to have an anxiety disorder–instead thinking that sometimes those of us with one are perhaps just a bit too Type-A personality/high-strung. While that’s probably not a stretch for some of us, anxiety disorders are more than that.

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Photo Friday: Innsbruck

innsbruck austria

Last year I went on a road trip through Europe with a friend, making stops in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Czech Republic. While I enjoyed each country in its own special way, I really liked Austria, and especially Innsbruck. As soon as we parked the car and began our walk to the old part of the city, I found myself struck by its beauty–the bright facades of the buildings and the snow-covered Alps as the backdrop. I took a ton of photos in Innsbruck, but this one has always stood out as one of my favorites. I love  the blurred movement of the bus as it passes down the street and how still and calm everything else appears–even the sole figure waiting to cross the street as the bus whizzes by.

How Roatan Changed Me

west bay roatan honduras

Aside from the once-yearly trips we’d take to the beach when I was a child, I’ve never been much of a beach kinda gal. I mean, I love the sound of waves rolling in over the beach, watching storms gather over the water, and indulging in copious seafood, but there are also plenty of things I’ve always disliked about beach.

I hate sand, with a passion. I don’t like the way it gets in everything and stays there for weeks even after you’ve left, I don’t like how it burns your feet, and I don’t like how it’s lumpy and uneven when you’re just trying to get comfortable. The sun–also not really my friend. I’m pasty white and I kind of dig my transparency. Even with loads of sunscreen, plenty of coverups, and a giant hat, I can get burnt in almost any situation. And it’s not like that burn then turns into a tan. Oh no, it goes from being bright red, to orange, to pale again in about a week and a half’s time. Also, that relaxing thing that everybody seems to dig? Again, it’s not really a thing that happens for me. I might be able to spend a day or two max just lying around reading and feeling good, but then I start to get antsy and dream up the million productive things I could be doing.

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Photo Friday: Roatan, Honduras

roatan honduras

I haven’t written about my trip to Roatan yet, but I had an amazing time. I didn’t know that places like that actually existed. One of the days that I was there, I arranged a tour to go snorkeling in a few different areas. It ended up being one of the best tours I’ve ever been on–it was small (just six of us, including my sister, and two tour guides) and so relaxed. Our boat driver, Patrick, told us that he didn’t have anything else to do for the day, so he was able to keep us out even longer. On the way back from our long day of snorkeling, we stopped off at an abandoned, tiny island where we swam for a bit in this shallow, crystal clear water and surveyed the conch shells and bits of coral that had washed ashore. It was one of the most perfect days I’ve ever experienced while traveling.

Five Greatest American Cities

five greatest american cities

It’s almost Independence Day and while people around the country will be taking advantage of the three-day weekend by traveling, having cookouts, going to see fireworks, drinking themselves into stupors, and playing with sparklers, I want to celebrate the United States by highlighting what I think are the five greatest American cities (which are in no particular order).

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Photo Friday: Cinque Terre

manarola cinque terre italy night

When I was in Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy, with Brendon of Nerd Travels, we were both really eager to try to get some sunset shots of the village. We tried to scope out the best spot and made our way up there to set up our tripods to wait for the sun to drop. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the spectacular sunset we were hoping for, but the light just around dusk was really beautiful and made for some decent shots as all of the lights in the village came on, illuminating the different-colored facades of the stacked houses. It was almost exactly as I’d seen on postcards from the region, and I was so excited to be standing there taking it all in.