Personal Thoughts · Travel · Uncategorized

After this Pandemic

Next weekend I was suppose to go to Chicago. It was going to be my first solo trip without a tour group or staying with a friend. I was going to be in my own airbnb in the cute neighborhood of Pilsen. I would of enjoyed some beautiful street art in Pilsen, eaten delicious deep dish pizza, visited local bars, met up with an old friend, see the Willis Tower and other tourist areas in Chicago. Obviously, the trip had to be postponed. Now next weekend, I will be at home. I have been doing that for a month and I am fortunate to be able too. However, I think its making me lethargic. That’s why I had to go for a walk outside yesterday. Also, the fact that we will not be getting back to normal for awhile is making me feel like I am wasting so much time. At least before, I could control going on a trip and seeing friends/family. Now I do not have control, I just have to wait. I have to wait till things get better and not concentrate on things I can not control.

This pandemic has made realize even more that we need to do things we love when we can. We do not know whats going to happen in the future. I did not know this pandemic would happen. Even though experts predicted it, I did not pay attention. I was not prepared and I did not always do things I wanted. Things I love doing are traveling, trying new restaurants, and exploring my city. I can not do any of those things right now. Now I wish I would of traveled more and explored more things. I wish I would have gone to Italy last summer, visited my parents more, and went to the state fair in Dallas, last year for my birthday. After this pandemic, I want to hug my friends and family, I want to travel more (in Texas, United States, and out of the country), complete all my bucket list blog posts, take more time off, to not wait to go somewhere, and just appreciate what I have. I know being at home all the time is taking a toll on mental health but I feel like this pandemic is going to make me appreciate things more when its over. I do not know when that is going to be. I’m hoping sooner rather than later. So for now, I’m going to sit on my couch, look outside my window, and  pet my cat. I will be taking this pandemic one day at a time.

 

Personal Thoughts · Travel · Uncategorized

Things to do at Home

I was talking to my mom this week and she was saying she should of traveled more. Her excuse before was that she would go later. So she would put off travel because she thought she would go later, when she retires. Now with this pandemic, she wishes that she traveled before it. I know right now is a difficult time for everyone. Especially, for people who have lost their jobs or are in jobs that are really essential that can come across coronavirus everyday. It’s also made me think a lot about many things I took for guaranteed just like my mom feels. For today I decided to be positive about the whole situation. Right now I am fortunate to have a job where I can work from home. Also, I am not alone I’m with my boyfriend and I have great friends that I have been video chatting with.  To continue being positive in this situation and handling things I can control,  I wanted to a create a list of things we can do at home:

Things to do at home:

Decorate your apartment: I have been doing this a lot lately. I think it’s because I moved into a new apartment a month and a half ago. Today, I think I am going to set up my new couch with my new pillows. Then, I will watch a movie and relax on my new couch.

Take a break from social media and the news: I have not done this and I need to this because I really think its getting to me. There was one night, I could not sleep and keep thinking about everything this virus has done. Tomorrow, I will not look at social media, the news, or youtube. 

Have a video chat with friends: I’m so happy that video chat exits. I have been able to use zoom to video chat with friends. I had a happy hour last Friday and a Sunday brunch this past Sunday. It’s been great to connect with friends again and it reminds me that I am not alone. Zoom is free for 45 minutes. I noticed when it logs you off after the 45 minutes, you can log back in.

Plan Future trips: My mom and sister have been wanting to go to Greece. I am hoping summer 2022 or March 2022. I will start saving for that. I know that is awhile but it gives me time to plan and save money. I told my mom we should plan something when she told me she wanted to travel. I’m hoping by mid-late 2022 there is a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 and it will be safe to travel again.

 

Personal Thoughts · Uncategorized

Staying at home for Awhile

I have been home since March 15th for social distancing to flatten the curve for coronavirus. I went out once for groceries but other than that I have been home because I am able to work from home. Last week I was working in my pj’s and I notice that it made it harder for me to concentrate on work. Now I wake up and get dressed like I am going into the office. This has really help me concentrate on work and feel like I am in the office. The days all seem the same now, its difficult to know what day it is. Work does help because some days I have meetings and it helps identify the day of the week. Social distancing and quartieen for a long period of time is something I have never experienced. It is good to take a break from getting dressed, being in traffic, and driving to work. I can catch up on shows that I have been wanting to watch (Game of Thrones), clean and decorate my apartment. I even have a video chat for Friday and Sunday with friends. Friday is happy hour so I need to get my drink of choice and Sunday is brunch.

When I first heard about coronavirus I got scared because I had this feeling in my stomach that it was going to be bad. My mom called me and was worried about me because I had gotten back from Malaysia and Thailand about 3 weeks before it came out the news. I got sick after my trip but I usually get sick after international trips because my sleeping schedule is all off. Back in December coronavirus was not in the news. I know it was happening in China at the time but I did not know about it. I do not think anyone did. I did not get a cough or anything and Malaysia did not have any known cases at the time it was out in the news. I think there was in Thailand but not in Phuket. I think my mom got me paranoid. I had been back from my trip for almost a month. Also, when I got back I just stayed at home with a really bad cold. I had to be on antibiotics afterwards because I could not stop sneezing because I had gotten a sinus infection. That is when my mom called me was during my antibiotic treatment. It was weird because I did get a feeling that coronavirus was going to be bad but then I forgot about it. I lived my life like it was not going on in the rest of the world. I did not prepare with can foods or frozen foods or any disinfectants. I went out with friends and traveled to other Texas cities. Then, I got another call from my mom at the end of February to prepare and get can food in case I had to be quarantine for 14 days. My brother had told her to prepare and that is when I remember about it again. Now, it’s really bad in the United States the WHO says we will be the next epicenter. We are actually number three in the United States with coronavirus cases and that is actually not a true number because we do not have enough tests. Our number can be double what is currently recorded. Also, we prepared later than Italy did. We just barely got put on lock down two weeks ago. So for right now I have a lot frozen foods, I have not been going out, and I have been talking to my friends. I am very fortunate that I can work from home and that I have good friends.

I heard a podcast called Factually with Adam Conover. Adam asked a doctor what he thinks the next 2 months looks like. He said that he feels positive because he really believes people will flatten the curve and that more tests will be available. He thinks some cities in the United States will be able to open bars and restaurants back up. Cities that do not have a lot of cases of coronavirus. He says we will not be able to have big events until a vaccine or really effective treatment is out. It can take about 18 months to create a vaccine. Basically, 2020 will be a very interesting and difficult year but we will get through is. I do not know what the means for people that have trips schedule later in summer or fall. I rescheduled my Chicago trip to October and Italy is for September. I might have to cancel both depending on how my city is and how the other places are. I am positive about everything. I know China and South Korea are doing a lot better. I really do have hope that it will get better in the United States too. I like to thank all health care professionals, grocery story staff, truck drivers, and everyone else who has been helping during this pandemic. We will get through this, we just need to do our part so health care workers are not overwhelmed.

 

 

Travel · Uncategorized

My Future Italy Trip

I have a trip planned for Italy and Amsterdam for mid September. Right now Italy is on lock-down because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). I do not know what it will look like in September but I will keep an eye out for it. If not I will have to change or cancel my trip. I have been wanting to go to Italy for awhile. I remember back in 2013 I had a trip planned to London, Paris, and Rome. Those are three places I really wanted to go. I ended up going to London and Paris in 2014 and canceling Rome to return to work early. I just started a new job and did not want to take an extended vacation.

I made a plan to go to Italy in 2020. My trip is to go to Venice, Florence, and Rome with EF Ultimate Break to get a true Italy experience. They’re even taking us to Italian Riviera & Cinque Terre and the Vatican. I planned this trip back in February of 2019. It’s crazy how advance I planned Italy before I even knew I was going to Spain or Malaysia/Thailand. Some things I want to do is take a gondola ride in Venice, tour the Colosseum, and eat as much pizza and gelato as I can. As much as my stomach will let me. I also want to make a wish at the Trevi fountain to return to Italy. I’m really excited about this trip, I am hoping the coronavirus goes away or they can approve a vaccine really quick. However, I do not what is going to happen, so I will keep my eye for it. I bought travel protection with EF ultimate, if I need to make a trip cancellation or change trips.

Currently my Amsterdam trip is suppose to be a day then I have to head to Venice. I am thinking of extending my Amsterdam trip for an extra day. I do not think one day is enough. I will have to book my own place and find my transportation to Venice. Once I get to Venice everything is planned because I booked with EF ultimate break. They let you extend your trip and I decided to add Amsterdam to my list before heading to Italy. They made sure to tell me I needed to book things in Amsterdam and I need my own transportation to Venice. If any of you have stayed in cute airbnbs or hotels in Amsterdam let me know. Mostly likely I will take a plane to head to Venice from Amsterdam.

 

 

Travel · Uncategorized

Things to do in Brenham TX

This past weekend, I went to Brenham Texas for my friend’s Sydney’s bachelorette party and Texas independence day. It’s a city about 15,716 people and it’s where Texas got started. It’s about an hour and an half east from Austin. Our airbnb was amazing and had a beautiful view. It was a good place to sit outside, look at the view, and drink coffee or tea. We did just that and I loved every moment of it. It was good to get out of the city for awhile. I think it was a creative idea for bachelorette party and I had a lot fun. Here are some things you can do in Brenham Texas:

Blue Bell:

This is the original Blue Bell Factory. They no longer give tours but you can see how the ice cream is made from the observation deck. They also have a gift shop and you can a  dollar per scoop of Blue Bell ice cream. They have flavors at the ice cream shop that you can not get anywhere else. I got milk and cookies it was vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookies. It’s a flavor you can only get there. Blue Blue is closed on the weekends so we took Monday off from work to visit.

Brazos Valley Brewing Company:

They had a crawfish boil when we went and a band playing. Usually, they do not sell food but they had a food truck when we went. We ate the crawfish, drank some beer, and listened to music. We also played a bridal game at brewery. We would get dare cards and had to do dare or buy the bride a drink. Brazos Valley Brewing Company has a good selection of beers, if you’re a beer person and are in the area come to this brewery.

Downtown Brenhham:

They have cute shops in the area. We visited some antique shops and got some coffee. My favorite store was Ballad of the Bird Dog and they also had a coffee shop inside. I feel like downtown Brenham has a lot character. It’s like stepping in to history. Keep in mind that on Sunday’s the majority of the stores are closed. I would go on a weekday or on Saturday.

Brenham is a cute city that has everything you need and has a big country feel. The airbnb was an a rural area and it was nice. It was very quite and beautiful. This a place I want to go when I want to take a break from city. To get away from the noise and all the lights. For Texas independence day we were able to go to the festival where they had food, shops, and the history of Texas. It was located in the Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site where Texas got started. Spring is a beautiful time to visit Brenham because of the bluebonnets. I hope I can go back in spring to enjoy the bluebonnets. I am so happy my friend Sydney invited me to her bachelorette party and I can not wait for her wedding.

Personal Thoughts · Travel

Portable WIFI for Traveling Abroad (TEP Review)

TEP wireless provides internet for international travelers anywhere they go. TEP calls it pocket WiFi and it’s secure unlimited internet and you rent it for $6.95 a day. Awhile back I wrote a blog post about staying connected abroad.  Usually when I travel internationally, I depend on finding WiFi at my hotel or coffee shop. My past two international trips I did not do that. It was such hassle not having access to my phone at all times. So for my Spain and Malaysia/Thailand trips I  got the TEP, portal WiFi and unlimited internet. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I did not want to spend the money on the TEP before but it was so worth it. I was able to stay connected with people back home with Facebook messenger and whatsup, yelp restaurants, use apple maps to find my way around, and request an uber. It was amazing to have my phone abroad at all times.

For Spain, I only had to use my WiFi for one country. It was about $66.81, I got a coupon for 15% off for my first time use. If it’s your first using TEP, email them for a promo code. I carried the TEP in my purse. The majority of time it worked. There were times it did not. For instance, I was buying wine at a grocery store and it did not work there. I think because the grocery store was underground. Also, if you’re going to be out all day. I would bring a probable battery charger to charge your TEP. I had to do this anytime I knew I was about going to be out all day because the TEP would run out of battery. Other then that, TEP was great.

Malaysia in Thailand I had to choose the Asia country option.  It was about $122.50 for 7 days. It was more expensive than Spain because I was going to more than one country. However, I wanted to have my TEP  work at all times. So, I was willing to pay the extra when I was in Thailand for 2 days. My TEP was similar like it was in Spain, it worked the majority of the times. It do not work very well when I was on my boat tour in Thailand but everywhere else it did. I can’t imagine traveling internationally without TEP now.

The TEP will not work on making regular phone calls or text messages on your phone. I was able to use other apps to make phone calls like Facebook messenger, facetime my parents, and TEP has an app too for phone calls. Also, anyone that had an iPhone I could imessage them. The TEP provides unlimited WiFi, a TEP voice calling app, and an emergency service. The way it works is your order the TEP for the country or countries you’re going too and the dates. Then they ship it to your home and when you’re traveling connect with the TEP to your phone. After your trip you can ship it back to TEP. I completely recommend it and they have fast customer service if you ever have a problem with your TEP. I know its extra money for your trip but if you don’t have an international plan or do know want to get a SIM card, I would get the TEP.

 

Travel · Uncategorized

Future Chicago Trip

Back in the summer, I talked about my United States Bucket list. To accomplish my bucket list, I wanted Chicago or Portland Maine to be my next United States trip. I decided on Chicago and will be going at the end of April. Both by plane ticket and airbnb are booked. It will be a four day trip and my first truly solo trip. I do have a friend that lives in Chicago and I’m hoping to meet up with her. However, I will be staying solo in my airbnb. I chose to going in April because it was way too cold for the winter and I hear summer is really hot there.  I am so excited and I am hoping its not very cold. I have been wanting to visit Chicago for awhile, I think ever since I saw the movie While You Were Sleeping. Here is some things I have planned to see:

Millennium Park:

To see the Cloud Gate, the sculpture that looks like a bean. I want to explore the area and maybe even go ice skating. I want to do this the first day I am there. I arrive at like 5:30 PM. I want to check in my airbnb and drop off my bags. Then go to the park. It’s suppose to be a 10 minute uber ride. If I do not have enough time that day or traffic is bad, I will go the next day.

Willis Tower:

This is also a 10 minute uber ride from my airbnb. I do want to do this the first day but I might try to save it for the second day i’m in Chicago. This will help me go early an hopefully avoid crowds. Touring the sky deck is $24 dollars. I feel it is worth it to see a good view of Chicago.

Boat Ride:

I want to do a boat ride in the Chicago river. To learn about the history of the city. I can admire the architecture and just experience the city. This will definitely be a second or third day thing.

Now that I am thinking of it, I feel I should explore the neighborhood by my airbnb first. There is a good deep dish pizza near by and I can get drinks after. Then the next day I can save it for the Millennium Park, Willis Tour, and the boat ride. Hopefully that night I can meet my friend for dinner. Then the 3rd and 4th day can be more calm days where I can relax and enjoy more of the city. If anyone has any recommendations please let me know.

Personal Thoughts · Uncategorized

What I Learned in Three Years of Blogging

Feb 8th was the day of my blogging anniversary. I still can not believe it has been three years, time really does fly by. I started my blog because I was having a career meltdown. Well not a meltdown but I did not what I wanted to do with my life. My friend Carl calmed me down and asked what I like to do. Thanks to Carl, my “career meltdown”, and my love of writing my blog was created. In my blog I talk about traveling, things I do around Austin, and my personal thoughts. My blog has taught me a lot and it helps me have something of my own. Something that makes me who I am. Here are three things I have learned in three years of my blog:

Be Active:

Be active with your blog by posting often, interacting with other bloggers, and if you have social media post it on your blog. The more active you are, the more interaction you will get and the more people you will meet. It really helps to be active and making your blog a part of your life. Believe me it so worth it.

Prepare Your Future Blog Posts:

What has been helping me is drafting my posts in advance. I write in a post note and place them in notebook about ideas I want write about. Then I draft my posts on word press. It has been helping me post once a week. Before I left to Malaysia, I wrote down three blog posts I wanted to write about. From there I posted in my drafts and updated my blog to make it public. There have been times where I am constant with my posts and times I have not. This is helping me be consistent and I want to keep it up. Whenever I do not post its in the back of my mind and I want to stop that.

The Blogging Community is Amazing:

I feel like other bloggers really care about other people’s blogs. They want to support you, give you tips, and get to know you. I have met really great people and I have read many amazing blogs. I feel like communicating with others helps you be more engaged in your blog. I’m so happy for the other bloggers I have met and I am happy that I have continued my blog for three years.

If you’re interested in my first blog post, you can find it here: Work mornings

Personal Thoughts · Travel · Uncategorized

What to do When you Have a Long Layover

When our trip to Kuala Lumpur came to an end. We flew back to Doha Qatar where we had an 8 hour layover. We originally were going to explore Doha and stay at a hotel. However, we did not qualify for visas. We decided it would be easier to stay at the airport. When we first got there, we immediately ask staff if there was anywhere we could sleep. They told us there was a quiet room where you could sleep. The quiet room was packed. I feel like we got really lucky when we found two sleeping chairs next to each other. We laid there on sleep chair and tried to sleep. When we were not sleeping, I watched my downloaded movies because the airport wifi did not work. While Lydnsey read her mystery novel. The majority of the time I could not sleep and we really could not explore the airport together because we would lose our seats. We did take turns taking care of the seats, so the other could go to the restroom or get something to eat. I was able to explore the airport a bit and got some snacks. My sleeping seat was almost taken away from me. Lydnsey told me she was falling asleep and a guy was taking my backup off the chair next to her. She woke up because she felt someone there and told him someone was seating there. I’m glad we had each other because if we were alone, we would of lost our seats, anytime we had to go to the restroom. Here are some of tips on what to do on a long layover at an airport:

Find a good quiet place to rest:

When we got to the Doha Qatar airport, we asked an airport staff member where we could sleep. She did tell us of rooms we could pay for but we were looking for something free. She told us about a quiet room that was free where we could sleep. The quiet room was full because it was late at night. However, it was a good room to rest because they had sleeping chairs. When we get to the airport and have you have long late night layover, ask  a staff member for a good place to rest.

Have sleeping gear:

I was freezing in the quite room and I got jealous of the people who had blankets. If you know you will have a long layover, I would bring a blanket, a sleep masks, fuzzy socks, and ear plugs to make it more comfortable. I had a sleeping mask and comfortable socks and it made getting comfortable a lot easier.

Have other entertainment:

If you can not sleep have other entertainment with you. Bring books, downloaded movies on your phone, or a podcast to listen to. Sometimes airports have wifi, so you might not have to download anything. I download things just in case they do not have wifi. My downloaded movies saved me on this layover.

It was disappointing that we did not get to explore Doha Qatar but at least we were able to relax. It is something we needed after our Malaysia and Thailand trip. Especially, with such a huge time difference. Long layovers are easier with a friend. They can help take care of your stuff when you go to the restroom and you have someone to talk too. If you’re going alone to a trip and have a long layover. I would look up the airport before you go. That will help get you extra prepared.

Travel · Uncategorized

How to Survive a Long flight

My flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was in all day event. I drove to Dallas from Austin and that can take 4 hours. After arriving to Dallas, I had a flight from Dallas to Doha Qatar for 14 hours then 7 hours to Kuala Lumpur. Coming back from Kuala Lumpur, my flight was 7 hours to Doha Qatar and 16 hours to Dallas. So getting to Malaysia and coming back was the longest flight I had ever been on. It was an interesting experience. I am happy to know, I can survive a long flight now. That was always in the back of mind if I could survive more than an 11 hour flight. Now that I have, it has given me more of a travel bug. Here are my tips on how to survive a long flight:

Movies:

Usually internationally flights provide movies. However, when I was flying to Spain my friend’s TV did not work and it was a full flight. So I recommend that you download movies on your phone just in case. Also, bring your own headphones.

Sleep:

If you’re like me and have trouble sleeping on a plane, take Melatonin. It’s a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. They make chewables or pill form and can be bought at your local grocery store. Sleeping makes the plane ride go by so much faster and melatonin can help you sleep. Especially, if its a 16 or 17 hour flight or longer. I had 5 Mg and took one and it was not enough. I had a coworker told me he took 3 of the 5 Mg’s when he was going to Japan and that helped him. First, I would take one and see if it works then take another if you can’t sleep.

Books:

Movies are not enough sometimes, so bring any books, magazines, or comics you have been reading or want to read. My friend Lydnsey was reading an interesting mystery novel and I regretted not bringing a book.

Snacks:

For internationally flights they feed you but just in case you get more hungry. This also helps if you have a connecting flight and do want to spend money on airport food.

Stretch:

This can be difficult since planes are small but try to walk around the plane. I sometimes walk near the restroom area or the aisle to get some stretch. I like to seat with a friend because it easier to get out of you seat to walk or go to the restroom. However, sometimes I can not sit with a friend or I am traveling alone. That’s when I try to get an aisle seat or sit by the emergency exit for my leg space. Usually you have to pay extra for both things. If you do not want to pay extra, the day of your flight ask a airport staff of the your airline if it would cost extra for an aisle seat or to seat by the emergency exit.

Wear Comfortable Clothes:

This is a must because you will be sitting down for a long time. Bring compression socks to promote blood flow from the legs back to the heart. Also bring comfortable pants, and a shirt.

Bring Toiletries:

I like to pack my toothbrush, wipes, deodorant, pair of underwear, comfy socks on my long flight.  I  treat a long flight like a sleepover. I even pack an extra shirt. The extra clothes also helps if your check in bag gets lost.