Travel updates, solo travel, future plans and other general thoughts
A lot of people have asked me why I haven’t posted on this site in so long, so I decided it is time for an update. And boy has a lot happened since my last post in over a year. I’ll try my best to touch on the highlights (and lowlights) as comprehensively as I can. Thanks for reading! : )
My South American travels
During the summer, I decided to spend the last 4 months of the year exploring cities in South America. My travel strategy has not always been so coordinated (e.g. exploring countries in the same continent at once), but for several reasons (e.g. proximity, art/photography opportunities, my interest in South American economic development, language similarities and cultural synergies), it made sense to focus on South America through the rest of the year. And of course, since I have renewed my dedication to being fluent in Spanish (which I started learning back in 2006 and has been quite a struggle journey ever since, haha), South America was a natural fit.
And so began my 2015 South American tour :). Of course, this isn’t my first time traveling to South America. I’ve had multiple trips to cities in Brazil, Argentina and Peru. But there is still so much to see, learn and explore in South America and I was curious to dive in. Realistically, I knew I could only focus on a handful of countries within a 4-month time frame. As is true to me whenever I travel, I try to immerse myself in that country/culture to the best of my ability. Never has the saying been more true that I prefer quality over quantity. So I focused on the cities (and their surrounding areas) that have been on my list for quite some time now: Santiago (Chile), Quito (Ecuador), Cartagena (Colombia) and Montevideo (Uruguay). I still have Montevideo to visit in a couple of weeks and hope to write a more comprehensive post on my experience after that, but thus far, my traveling through South America has been rewarding, eye-opening, humbling and exciting all at once.
Being a global citizen is not always an upbeat journey. Travel can serve many purposes, but it is not only about having fun and hopping from country to country, hereby increasing your country count along the way. My travel is driven by my intense desire to learn about the world and the people in it to the best of my ability. Seeking beauty, cultural appreciation and the joys of new experiences, but at the same time, recognizing that the realities of the world can also be daunting. In those instances, you can get a point where traveling can jade you. It is such a big world out there, but at those times, you can feel like you’ve seen it all without actually seeing it all – the ups, the downs, the in-betweens of the world. The good, bad and ugly so to speak. Subconsciously, you start to mentally compartmentalize countries in your head. But you can never truly gain what you set out for with this attitude. The reality of the world is that it is not perfect. But there is so much beauty and opportunity in that imperfection and even at the times when you feel the unattractive side of traveling is getting to you, you have to keep pushing. With every new country that you visit, the clock essentially resets itself and you start all over again. You have to completely leave your preconceived notions at the door and be as open minded as you possibly can to each experience. That’s the only way, in my opinion, to get the most out of travel.
I have gained so much new perspective and learned a lot from my South American travel experiences, mostly from a cultural, economic development and socioeconomic perspective and will write a more comprehensive post after wrapping up my travels this year.
And even with my “tour” this year, there is still a lot of South America left to explore. I still have not visited Bolivia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela, but I hope I can get to them in the near future :).
Other than my South American travels, in the last year, I have visited other places such as Cancun and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico (PV in April, Cancun in August), Nice, Cannes and Eze in France (June), Monte Carlo in Monaco (June), Oslo in Norway (April), Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE (in January, then again in March), Panama City in Panama (the location for my first global immersion program through my Youthfully Global initiative that I started), Milan, Rome and Venice in Italy (November ’14) and Lima in Peru (October ’14).
I am often asked how I get to travel so often, and I credit a lot of that to my intense curiosity and hunger to learn, coupled with my advocacy for solo travel. I have written in detail (complete with tips on how to) on solo travel here. It is something I continue to advocate for simply because I don’t think not being on the same schedule as your friends/family or being single should ever hold anyone back from wanting to see the world. If anything, that should encourage you to live it up while you have your own time and complete freedom!
The genesis of my solo traveling was initially out of necessity. I had daydreamed for years about being able to travel the world, but never thought it could ever be solo. But then I began traveling the country solo on work assignments when I was a young Analyst at a Consulting firm (at age 23). From there, I realized that if I could travel the country myself and visit places like Idaho, Iowa and Nebraska, which frankly felt like another world to me back then as a Northeasterner, I could in fact travel the world on my own as well! It was a gradual foray, initially visiting places like London where I had lots of friends and family (so I wasn’t actually all alone), but then I started pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone. And that didn’t take much convincing for me :). Since I made the decision to start, I have not looked back.
Today, I have many solo adventures under my belt. Some of my favorite travel experiences have been solo. I’m more immersed, more aware and more in tune with my objectives when I am solo. I’ll always cherish the memories I’ve made and the people I’ve met on my excursions. Some of my favorite solo excursions were to Seoul (Korea), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Tahiti (French Polynesia) and my most recent trip to Cartagena (Colombia).
Of course, I always love my trips with friends and family, and traveling with a partner can be especially exciting, but the point is, solo travel is no longer taboo. There are so many resources on how to do it as efficiently as possible. I know about the fear of being on your own, but we are a lot more courageous than we give ourselves credit for, and frankly, if we can’t enjoy our own company, how do we expect anyone else to? : ) In short, nothing should stop you from living your life – you only get one. Do as much as you can with loved ones, but never ever feel restricted or at the mercy of anyone else’s agenda. And that’s true with most things in life, not just travel :).
And while we’re on the topic of living your life…
I have termed myself an avid life adventurer on a mission to get the most out of my time on earth. One of my favorite quotes is “life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all“. That is verbatim how I look at life, in every regard. Whether daring myself to do things I’ve never done before, challenging myself to achieve goals academically, personally or professionally, or living my life as a true individual dancing to the beat of my own drums, regardless of what others may think I should or shouldn’t be doing, I am embracing all aspects of my life adventuring.
Life will not always be easy (seldom ever is, right?). Plans don’t always go accordingly, and sometimes you will have experiences that at the time can feel like a major setback. But it’s all a part of the growth and evolution process. Life continues to teach me many lessons along the way, but the most important lesson of all is to learn from, embrace and grow from each experience. It is true that the most constant thing in life is change, and in order to move forward, you have to embrace change. It is easy to get comfortable with staying within a comfort zone, but nothing great ever emerged from being stagnant. I have embraced change in several important aspects of my life this year, including professionally (e.g. leaving the firm I had been at for 4 years to join a new consulting firm earlier this year), changes in my exercise and eating habits (directly resulting in changes to my physical appearance – e.g. losing somewhere between 15 – 20lbs depending on what I ate the day before :)), and changes in how I spend my personal time, to name a few. I continue to challenge myself to not be afraid to take risks, to be deliberate in going after my goals, to continue to love with no apologies and to do what feels right to me. Embracing change and taking risks can sometimes mean putting yourself out there, doing what may be unpopular with loved ones or getting hurt. But I can truly say I wouldn’t change a thing! With each day, I am becoming more and more of the woman I’ve always dreamed of becoming, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision :).
To anyone experiencing life’s many ups & downs, all I can say is, it all makes sense in the end, and if it doesn’t make sense yet, it is not the end… keep pushing. It gets better : )
As mentioned, it has been quite some time since I last updated this site, something I had initially felt bad about, but soon came to terms with. First, I must apologize for my absence. There was a reason for it. I initially started TravelSeeLove to be a comprehensive travel resource that a variety of people can leverage in pursuant of travel objectives. Over the years, I realized I was consistently getting asked the same questions about how I travel and fielded a lot of similar inquiries for recommendations, tips, advice, etc. My friends and family consider me a wealth of information when it comes to traveling, so I thought it could be great to put it all together on a platform that others could also access and benefit from. I initially started the site on BlogSpot, but the designer in me found the interface too restrictive. So I decided to create a separate platform and identity, hereby birthing TravelSeeLove. So much effort went into creating and standing up this site, and after realizing how much even further effort goes into writing a very comprehensive post, I started thinking of possibly monetizing the concept to gain some rewards for all the effort.
The travel industry is growing and I continue to have a lot to contribute, but I soon realized that my initial strategy of creating, developing and generating content consistently was going to be a little bit more strenuous than I initially thought it would be. Frankly, it takes a lot of time and effort to run a comprehensive travel site and many successful travel bloggers do it on a full-time basis. I did not want this site to be just a display of pictures of “my fabulous life” and experiences nor did I want it to simply be an aggregation of user submitted photos, but truly a resource that others can tap into to help them plan, strategize and realize their travel dreams. As thus, I decided to write posts complete with every resource I felt a first time traveler needs, such as flight info, tourist activities to engage in, cultural lessons, dos & don’ts, etc. The average post took about 10-12 hours to pull together. Soon, I was dedicating all my time on nights and weekends to writing posts, but still could only manage to squeeze out 2-3 posts a week, if that. I quickly started to burnout, and when you burnout with anything you love, it takes the fun out of it. I explored the contributor route, but as a new start-up with only self-funding, and with the time-intensive nature of creating quality posts, it was a challenge recruiting other content creators.
Eventually, I decided that as noble as the intent was, it was just not going to be sustainable to keep the site active under the initial model while maintaining a full-time, successful but demanding career in Strategy Consulting.
Travel will always be my passion and I will continue to find ways to share my love for the world to the extent I can (currently, I do this mostly through my social media platforms, such as Instagram). I am not giving up on travel blogging, but I recognize the initial strategy and approach has to evolve. I am working on a couple of solid pathways to achieving this and growing the brand in a sustainable way. Thanks to all who have supported thus far, and continue to support as I re-strategize. I hope you’ll stay tuned!
Thanks for reading. Ciao!