Cuba was so much more than anything I’ve had expected! To be honest, a few weeks before our trip, we considered switching for Columbia. I simply did not think that there was so much to do in Cuba for 8 full days. Boy was I wrong! Not only did this trip surpass anything I could have hoped for but I actually would not mind going back and exploring other cities. Havana and Vinales have been a dream and I can’t wait for you to go through this post so you pick up some useful tips in case you plan on visiting soon. Continue reading “A guide through Havana and Vinales”
I remember it like it was yesterday. When at 19 years old, I boarded on a plane, all by myself to go to Barcelona. My semester studying abroad in Finland had just ended and I was packing my things, reminiscing on all the countries I had visited for the last 5 months. (about 7 countries to be exact). I had visited them with my roommate and sometimes with groups of students, I had went to London alone but it was only because I had a friend who lived there at the time and I would be able to stay with her as she showed me around. But this time, I was really about to do it on my own. I did not know anybody in Barcelona, I had no plans, no fixed destinations. All I knew was that, deep in my heart, it was something I needed to do. Deep inside my soul, I had a thirst for new discoveries, to see the world from a different perspective and to learn new things.
If you are young and trying to figure out the meaning of this burning desire inside of you to jump on a plane and discover new things, here is a little motivation to start traveling!
You can start small
You do not need to start by booking a one way ticket to Alaska. It is OK to start with small steps: A one week trip somewhere close to you or somewhere with a relatively similar culture to yours. Some people like to start big and that is OK too but you do not need to fall under the pressure that it needs to be grand in order to be meaningful.
Do not be afraid to start alone
If traveling is something you really want to do, you do not need to wait for anybody’s approval to do so. Stop waiting for friends to make up their mind or for your environment to understand why you want to do it. At 19 years old, when I said I wanted to go to Barcelona all by myself, many people, including my parents did not fully understand. It sounded scary and even a little crazy but I did not let that stop me from doing what I knew in my heart to be right. If the people you wanted to go with keep changing their minds, if they do not seem to want to save up the money, then leave. Remember that it is YOUR journey and your personal growth. Stop waiting for people to validate your choices.
If others can do it, you can do it
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. It can be scary to start your travel journey. I remember being so confident, but then, sitting on the plane thinking “What was I thinking” but my travels have shaped me into the person I am today and I have never had one single regret. Many people start traveling really young. I remember meeting this 18 year old German girl who decided to take a leap year after high school to serve in different countries and learn more about herself before starting college. All it takes is a little courage to go against the norm and do what feels right. Life is nothing but a daring adventure and you’ll never know until you try.
Do not wait till you have “Everything figured out”
Waiting for the perfect timing? Good luck with that. Truth is, the more you wait, the less likely you will be to actually book that ticket and leave. So what you just work part-time at a little restaurant? So what you do not feel 100% confident? Dare to take the first steps while your legs are shacking. It is all about finding the courage to step out of your comfort zone and LIVE.
Make it a priority
It is all about priorities and if you truly want to travel, you can make it happen! Start saving up for your adventure. Find ways to put a % of your pay-check on the side, create a travel box where you put your change, open a savings account, stop eating out every day, sell things you do not need. There are so many ways to save money for your trip!
If you were waiting for a sign, this is it! Traveling is something that you spend money on and that can only make you richer. Do not wait for a steady job, for retirement, to for whatever else you use as an excuse. The moment you were waiting for, is NOW.
Looking for more inspiration and motivation? Here are a few other blog posts you can read:
A Travel Lover
In my Previous Post, you’ve learned about Gabby a designer from New York on a culinary journey, who I’ve had the pleasure to welcome to my home country Haiti for Mennen’m La Tour.The journey first started at Bo Village where Gabby received a typical Haitian hat with a tiny Barbancourt rum bottle and a little Haitian souvenir. We served her some local fruits, then it was time to leave around 3PM to pick up two other girls who would be traveling with her.
The ride to the Nippes department was longer than usual as there was a lot of traffic in the capital city on that day but at 8:30 PM the girls finally arrived at Dine’s house, our host for the trip. They were welcomed with some good food: Fried plantains, Salad, rice and fried beef croquettes. It did not take long for everybody to lay down and rest as we were all tired from the long ride.
The next day, as the rooster sang, we all woke up refreshed and energized for breakfast.
First, they all went to the river for the morning bath. The fresh and cold water was all it took to get them excited about their motorbike ride to the waterfall planned after breakfast.
The meal was served by the river on green banana leaves. Fresh fruits, bread, eggs, cheese… they were ready for a feast.
The ladies enjoyed their meal as Simone, our cook, thought them how to prepare coffee the haitian way. It was an interesting learning experience for all of them as they watched the fresh coffee powder melt as the hot water fell in the grèp (Haitian creole way of saying Grep) used to strain the coffee.
It was soon time to leave on the back of motorcycles to the Saut du Baril waterfall.
Sitting behind the driver, the ladies enjoyed the view: Miles of water just flowing between mountains while the air blew on their faces and the road got sometimes bumpy.
At the waterfall, they enjoyed fresh mangoes while bathing in the magical waters.
On their way back, they stopped at Fabienne’s house, a local of the area who often prepares fresh coffee for our hikers. The ladies got to ask Fabienne’s mom some questions and take pictures of the modest and cozy house. Before jumping on the motorbikes to go back to Dine’s house, they could not resist the smell of hot, street patties, called pat kòde. This patty filled with salt cod chicken, a boiled egg, hot dogs and sauce was just what they needed after challenging their bodies to reach the waterfall.
At Dine’s some pasta with was waiting for them! The non stop eating had definitely started at this point. Some labapen (chestnuts) was also served as well as some kremas, a Haitian drink.
After the feast, Gabby and Wilmar jumped on a car with the driver to go get the masseuse. It was a perfect excuse for them to take pictures of the view of the Port of Miragoane, which they had missed the day before because of the darkness.
A massage was waiting for them by the river. The ladies were in heaven. What better way to relax the muscles after such a busy day.
As the night settled in, It was time for a candle light diner animated by a live Twoubadou band.
The next morning, after breakfast, a surprise was waiting for the ladies. By the river, Simone, our cook was waiting for them for a Beny, the traditional Haitian bath given with leaves and sour oranges soaked in hot or warm salty water. The leaves that often have different therapeutic properties are used to treat inflammation, soreness, muscle stiffness and stress. In the Haitian tradition, the bath is given by someone who rubs the leaves on your body, specially in the places where you feel pain and stiffness. The goal is to feel relaxed and good. The ladies were so fascinated by this experience and said it was nothing like what they had experienced before. No need to say I was delighted to introduce them to this tradition.
It was then the start of a fun day where the ladies got the participate in a Haitian cooking class! A table was set up in the garden for the ladies to cut, mash and shred. All the tolls were there waiting for them to have fun with them. On the menu: Kalalou (Okra), Fried plantains and sweet potatoes, Accra (typical Haitian appetizer made with fried malanga) and some more salad. The ladies had so much fun as they tested their skills in the garden before following Simone to the kitchen and frying and filming.
On Monday morning, it was time for a road trip to Grand Goave (cloder to the capital) where they would take the boat for a day at Balanier beach, Haiti’s little paradise!
Hope you enjoyed reading this post as I tried to fit everything in just a few words and pictures. What did you think of their journey? Panning on visiting Haiti soon? Comment below for the chance of winning a free trip with Mennen’m La Tours.
Until next time for more adventures!
A travel lover
Last week, I got the pleasure to welcome Gabby to Haiti. Gabby is a designer I met in New York last year before flying to Vietnam! Not only is she one of the most stylish people I have met but she is also on a journey to be become a chef! I am honestly not sure she can get cooler than this. At a little starbucks cafe, my friend Shelcy, who is a Fashion vlogger set up the meeting. I remember our day being so busy that day as we had so much to do and so little time before the flight. But Shelcy insisted “You HAVE to meet Gabby”. Because I work in cultural and social tourism in Haiti, and that Gabby was just starting a cultural project where she wanted to gather people around food and history, Shelcy figured we could absolutely do a collab. It did not take long for Gabby and I to connected. It was a quick, natural, meant to be moment where we both felt like we had known each other for the longest time. I learned more about her passion for culinary arts and she learned more about the cultural tours I organize in Haiti. We exchanged numbers with the usual “We have to see each other again!!!”but you never really know if you’ll really see someone again as you each go your own way.
A few weeks ago, as I was posting some pictures of my trip to Jacmel on my Instagram travel page, Gabby reached out to me saying how amazing my pictures of Haiti looked. Then she asked if she needed any shots before flying. I guess I did not know how serious she was until she sent me her flight itinerary! And this was the start of a journey filled with adventures, discoveries, food, nature and laughter on this island of mine. I got to take her on a tour with my company and I will tell you all about this excursion. But for now, here is what we did on our first day!
First stop was Place Saint Pierre where we probably bought every souvenir we probably could! Gabby got a chance to meet some Haitian artists and learn more about our artisanat. From the paintings, the bags made with coconuts, the sandals, the jewelry, Gabby was in awe, not able to say No to any vendor. There was so much to see that even I had to buy something!
Next stop was the fruit market
The colors were so vibrant we knew everything had to be healthy! As a foodie, Gabby was in heaven and wanted to learn more about our fruits and veggies and ways to eat them. She was in heaven when we included a Haitian cooking class in the tour activities!
It was then time for a trip to the mountains …
Gabby was fascinated by Haiti’s majestic scenes. As the air got cooler, we rolled the windows down to feel the wind and enjoy the views. We stopped for some street food, then the magic began as we discovered an abandoned looking alley. There was nothing pretty about it but it was attractive. Its weird, how something so ugly can also be so beautiful but only to certain people’s eyes. I guess these are the ones God created with an artsy spirit. So we started walking in that alley and stopped in front on colorful walls with paint falling off. There was dirt on the floor and it was hard to imagine people lived there. But as we kept walking, a delicious smell started floating in the air. I saw a little window on an orange little house. “Boulanjri kay ti machann”. I saw 3 men taking bread out of an old oven. Man it smelled gooood. So we bought bread. 6 pieces for 20 gourdes, not even 50 US cents. And it was absolutely amazing. I love falling deeper in love with Haïti.
We then stopped at a fort called fort Jacques for some histotry and pictures. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations but Gabby got to catch some nice views.
The day was full of activities but oh so worth it!
I cannot wait to share what we did on tour!
Until next time
A travel lo lover.
Hello travel lovers!
This post is long overdue! As you know, I came back from Vietnam 2 months ago and it was one of the best trips of my life! I really want to take the time to write this post to encourage you to visit Vietnam if ever you plan on traveling south east Asia any time soon. Many people ask ‘Why Vietnam’. It seems like some people do not see Vietnam as a place tourists should visit but I can assure you that Vietnam is a must on your list. And if you are hesitant, here are 5 simple reasons why you should visit vietnam:
- The diversity
Vietnam has so much to offer! My boyfriend and I traveled from South to North and trust me, no city looked the same. From the South where we had beaches, through the dunes in Mui Ne, to the mountains of the North, Vietnam is the land of diversity. If you are planning on backpacking, you will not be disappointed because there is just so much to see. So open your mind and get ready to be amazed.
2. The food
Can we puh-lizzzz talk about the street food? Street food has always had a soft spot in my heart especially in Asia. In Vietnam, it is important to look for the small, discrete places. From my experience, I can tell you that they are the best. Vietnamese eat a lot of rice, grilled meat, soup, fried noodles and smoothies. Yum! Plus, you will barely gain any weight because the food is so light! So if you are a foodie on a budget, Vietnam is the place for you!
3. The prices
That wonderful feeling when you are finally a millionaire ! haha. Life in Vietnam is super cheap. Especially when you convert US dollars. You can get a full meals for about $1 to $2, full days of activities for about $6, 12 hours transportation from one city to another for $20, rooms for $6 a night… It doesn’t get any better than this! So if you plan on traveling to Vietnam but are worried about the costs, just know that it will only really costs you money to get there but once you arrive, you won’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun and taste good food!
4. The tailor made clothes
Hoi An, in Vietnam is tailor made clothes paradise! Many travellers go there, give their measurements, go visit another city and come back to get their clothes. Not only are they very professional, but the clothes are cheap, high quality and ready on time! my boyfriend got multiple suits done and I got some outfits and sandals done! If you are traveling in Vietnam, I highly recommend planning a stop in Hoi An.You surely wont regret it.
5. It is a great way to meet backpackers
Many backpackers love traveling through southeast Asia. In Vietnam, you will meet many travelers. It is a great way to bond with people who share the same passion as you. Don’t be afraid to change your plans based on their suggestions. It is always good to be flexible and see where the road leads you.
Hopefully this was enough to convince you. I hope to see your pictures from Vietnam soon
A travel lover
Vietnam has so much to offer in terms of adventures. There is always something to discover, a place to go, something to try. During our first stop in Saigon, we have been able to do so much! Our day trip at Mekong river is one of our adventures. Here is how we had a full day of fun for just $6 ! Continue reading “A full day of adventure at MeKong River in Vietnam for $6 !”
Saigon in Vietnam, also known as Ho Chi Minh is a busy and vibrant city in the south of Vietnam. Close to the Cambodian boarder, it welcomes many tourists all year long and is famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War
Among different activities, the private motorbike tour is a great way to discover the city and have a local experience. The tour was great especially because it felt so private. I felt like 2 friends were taking us on a ride to know more about their city. It was very personal and allowed us feel like locals. Through my Instagram page, a girl who was also traveling in Asia saw that I was in Saigon. She kindly reached out to me and gave me the contact info of this guy living in the city who offered night tours. I sent him an email and negotiated for a day tour. He answered quickly and soon enough, we were set for the next day!
We got picked up at twelve by Han Phan and his colleague on 2 different motorbikes. We jumped on and it was time for the adventure to start.Han Phan explained that he works in marketing and that taking tourists around the city was his part time job.
Traveling on motorbikes was so much fun! Busy Ho chi Minh city has never seemed so vibrant. The noises, the chaos, the heat, they all combined perfectly to create the scenery we could witness so well on the back of these motorbikes.
Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral next tot he post office. Our guide told us about the history, the french occupation, Ho chi Minh’s reign and answered our questions. We could not go inside the cathedral but staying outside was just good. We could see the similarities with the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. Inside the post office, souvenirs are quite expensive. This is due to the fact that it is a touristic site. I advise not to shop there but simply walk around and listen to the guide’s explanations.
Next stop was a pagoda where we learned about the local’s traditions and beliefs.
Then we were dropped at a flower shop street. Many shops were next to each other and we could see different types of flowers. Of course I had to snap a picture of my favorites
They then drove us to the China Town where we had some good tea in the streets and visited a local shop. Tea was naturally sweetened with honey and made my stomach, who was a little upset in the morning, feel much better.
Then it was time for some lunch. It was hard to decide what we wanted. But a friend of mine told me that I absolutely needed to try the Pho Vietnamese Noodle soup. Our drivers took us to a small local place and it was simply perfect! Only locals were sitting eating their soup, which is a proof that the place is authentic, good and cheap! The soup was delicious! It was my first time having it and I am glad this first was with the real deal.
We then stopped on the sidewalk for dumplings. The place was just opening as we arrived so dumplings were fresh! I am not a crazy dumpling fan so about 3-4 were enough for me.
After a 20 minute ride to an area where we saw the city council, some fancy shops and restaurants. We ended the tour and got dropped of at the hotel.
If you are in Saigon or planing on going to Saigon, contact Han Phan (on the right) for a great experience: firstname.lastname@example.org
He is professional, with a good dose of laidback and freindly. I
The tour lasts about 3-4 hours and you won’t regret it. If you do, do not hesitate to share picture with me!I am available for any further information.
A Travel Lover
Hello travel lovers!
As promised, I will share with you how I have been able to travel to Dallas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Washington and New York for absolutely free!
So before I let you know the big secret
I want to remind you that , just as any other thing in life, traveling can become way easier once you make it a priority. When you truly love something , you are willing to do the effort it takes to make it work.
So here it is. I had been selected for an entrepreneur exchange program for the months of October through mid-November. The YLAI (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative). During this program , there were many networking and learning opportunities and the best part is that it was all paid for. That’s right. There ARE actually programs who decide to pick you to travel and meet people who can help you shape or develop your current business or business idea. And it’s actually more do-able than a college exchange program as exchange programs are not free (unless you get a scholarship or something). Continue reading “How I have been able to travel to 6 places for absolutely FREE!”
I am a big fan of mural art. For some reason, I don’t really enjoy museums. I’ve always had this crazy idea that art can’t be contained between walls, that it needs to be a part of our every day life, incorporated in things we see and touch, to remind us that life itself should be filled with wonder! Here in Reno Nevada, they are strong advocates of everything artsy. I think this is one of the top reasons I love the city so much. Continue reading “Experiencing the Art Walk in Reno,Nevada”
Last January, I traveled alone to Costa Rica for a 4 day weekend. The months leading up to the trip, every time I would mention it, let it be to friends or co-workers, the reaction would be the same: are you crazy? Why would you do that? I would laugh it off every time. But how, you ask, did I decide to book a trip by myself in a foreign country with minimal to no knowledge of their culture? See, initially I was supposed to take this trip with a good friend of mine after our college graduation. However, I ended up going to Haiti that summer and was not able to make the trip. Fast forward to a year and a half later, after having worked a total of 18 hours on black Friday in a fast paced store, my mind was set: I was booking my trip that night! I needed to get away so badly. Continue reading “I TRAVELED SOLO BECAUSE : ANNE-LAURA IN COSTA RICA”