Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Trip

Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Trip

Many people that I converse with about my travels are people who do not currently have the time to travel or did not have the opportunity to in earlier years of their life. For anyone who is considering traveling more, whether that be domestically or internationally, it can be extremely overwhelming with the amount of resources that exist today.

It is no secret that advancements in technology, especially social media, completely flipped the way we communicate and share information. Similarly, this means that it is hard to decipher what to trust. There is so much out there on the web, so where does one start? Well, the beauty of planning of a trip is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing it. But here are a few steps I take when I am thinking of going somewhere I have never been:

  • Google
    This one was a no-brainer. First, I like to see what the city is about with a simple Google search; this includes major attractions, current news, and how many results for blog posts come up. I also use this time to browse on Google Maps to get an understanding of the location and what it’s close to which further helps me get an idea of how to pack.travel guide 1
  • YouTube
    As a fellow vlogger, I like to watch vlogs of the city I am interested in visiting. Narrowing down what to look for or to watch is completely subjective, but something I definitely like to do is put in the city and “black” in the search to see the city through a lens I can relate to (e.g. san juan vlog black). Mini vent: often times, the most popular results on any website are pretty, skinny, white women and/or white couples and, depending on the city I am visiting, I just know that my experience is not going to be like theirs. img_4281Vlogs allow me to see how accessible the city is on foot, how crowded certain areas are, and, frankly, what the city actually looks like!! For example, I am planning to visit Lisbon, Portugal later this year and had no idea it was a hilly city until I watched a couple of vlogs. It’s an added bonus that making specifications in my search allows me to find and support other black creatives. 🙂
  • Instagram
    Once I have narrowed down what I am personally interested in, I go on Instagram and search the Tags. For example, I saw there is a place in Portugal called Sintra that is an easy day trip from Lisbon, so I will search “sintra,” pick the tag with the most results, and see how many different photos come up.img_4282
    If I find that a bulk of the photos are showing the same attraction/photo op, that lets me know I should research further if the day trip would be worth it. If you want to keep the search broader, you can just follow the Lisbon tag (if you have an Instagram) and get ideas that way for things to do or where to eat, especially to see where locals are tagging themselves.
    Another thing I like to do is if I love how a picture looks, I will visit the Instagrammer’s page to see if they have any highlights for their visit and watch it to get ideas for restaurants and neighborhoods. For example, I had no idea that the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico had a black sand beach until I watched this woman’s Instagram highlight. img_4283
    The good news about Instagram is that you do not have to create an account to browse it, but you will have to to follow tags/accounts or set notifications for when someone posts.
  • Word of mouth
    Of course, there’s always the good old-fashioned grassroots approach of reaching out to people or friends of friends who have visited the city you are interested in. That is yet another benefit of social media since we can see these things in real time, save/bookmark the information, and reach people directly. 🙂

Continue reading “Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Trip”

My Social Break and How It Affected My Goals for 2019

On December 3rd, I made a decision to quiet my mind for the last month of 2018. This meant less of anything that caused my thoughts–specifically negative thoughts–to run rampant in order to give myself a mental break. There are things I cannot avoid like having to interact and be ‘on’ at work, but when I get home, I try to do whatever I can that allows me to be productive without making my mind spiral. As recently written, I am finally delving into the causes for my depression and seemingly increasing levels of anxiety. But in order to do this, I needed to almost fully break down. I intentionally retreated for most of December and part of my retreat was disabling my social media.

I did not deactivate my Facebook or Snapchat because they do not give you an option to temporarily deactivate, so I just deleted the apps from my phone. Instagram, however, does give you an option to temporarily disable so I did that as well as deleting the app from my phone. It’s funny because despite the content I create and how much I enjoy sharing it, I barely spent any time on social media in terms of engagement. I only view what my closest friends are posting and then I close the apps. But that’s kind of weird, isn’t it? I don’t scroll or engage with other people because I don’t want to see what people are doing. I already know that it will cause me to start comparing my life to others’, despite my logical side completely refuting it. So, I avoid it altogether. That’s just…not good.

I am a product of my generation, so I ended up signing back in on December 30th to share my most recent project. I wrote part of this post ahead of time in anticipation of having a list of new revelations from the break; however, I found myself re-reading what I wrote on my first post of 2018 and realizing I am in the exact same position, if not worse. I am not going to sit here and talk about how disappointed I am that I did not commit to making things better for myself this past year. I wish I had a list of things that I concretely learned this past month from being ‘disconnected.’ Instead, I am making a decision that I no longer want or need to do better–I have to. I will say, if I learned anything from this break it is that my journey to love and acceptance (in all forms) is going to be a long, strenuous but necessary process. No matter how I write it, there will be people who do not understand or cannot relate to what I am talking about, but what others think is slowly becoming less of a priority.

If 2018 was the year of letting go, 2019 is the year of closure. I pride myself in recognizing my shortcomings and I hope plan to look back this time next year and say, “Look how far I’ve come.”

xx, AE

Mind Control

Mind Control

If you read my last post, I talked about how a component of grasping self-sufficiency was dealing with my personal emotional stability. When I reference emotional stability, I don’t mean that I’m walking around perfectly fine then all of a sudden I’m smashing things, but I’m acting, as most of us do, in a way that does not reflect how I really feel. I suppress things because it’s better to not deal with them, to save others, and/or to hope that they will eventually go away. With suppression, I’ve tried to tone this part of me all the way down so I am not perceived as crazy and it has only translated to me lacking display of emotions altogether and leaving me with people constantly questioning, “What’s wrong?” I robotically answer, “It’s not me, it’s just my face,” but I’ve recently started to center in on the “it’s not me” portion. When I found myself an emotional low point this semester (yes, it’s possible even when you’re having the time of your life), a friend of mine recommend I meditate. Continue reading “Mind Control”