February 27, 2012

Crete, Greece

There are many countries in the world that I would like to visit, but on the top of my list is Greece.  More specifically I would like to go to Crete (which is the largest Greek isle and has the largest population).  Having taken latin for 7 years, I have been educated in ancient Roman and Greek history, and would like to visit some of the places I have learned about.  Not only is it a beautiful location, with a gorgeous setting, but the country has a rich history which I would like to learn more about and see first-hand.  One of the elements of traveling that I enjoy, is the fact that on every trip there is the ability to learn something new.  While some people may argue that you do not have to go anywhere to learn something new, traveling to a new location makes the learning experience interesting and engaging.  Which is why, with its rich history and beautiful scenery Crete, Greece is on the top of my list of places I would like to visit.

All the rage

So one of the new trends, as far as vacations go, is traveling to a different city or state to see a music festival and "rage".  While there have been festivals in the past, such as the infamous Woodstock, many of the festivals that are popular now feature electronic or house music.  The locations of these concerts take place all around the world.  Some of the most popular ones in the United States include: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the Electric Daisy Carnival, the Electric Zoo, and Ultra Music Festival.  The Bonnaroo Music festival is located in Manchester, TN and many people drive rv's to the concert, due to the fact that there are no accommodations near by and the alternative is camping.  The Electric Daisy Carnival originally started in Southern California in 2000, but in the past year has changed its location to New York.  The Ultra Music Festival draws a more universal crowd and might require a bit more travelling (depending on what country and city you prefer).  The Electric Zoo began in 2009 as a 1-day festival, and has since, due to its increasing popularity, added 2 additional days, spanning over Labor Day weekend.  The Ultra Music Festival takes place in Miami-FL, Sao Paulo-Brasil, Buenos Aires-Argentina, Ibiza-Spain, Warsaw-Poland, and Seoul-South Korea.  Being an avid traveler and listening to this type of music, I would love to visit some of these other countries in which UMF takes place.  Given the fact that I have not been to any of these locations except for Miami (which was an amazing experience going to UMF there), I would love to explore the culture while being able to connect with other people around the world, given that we enjoy the same kind of music.  Adjacent to this post is a picture I have embedded of me and a friend that I went from NY to FL with at UMF last year.  I encourage people to experience these concerts, and I have made connections and friendships that I still hold from my experience.  In my opinion, traveling always enables new opportunities.

Top 5 (things to bring in your carry-on bag)

Related to my previous post, I though I'd share the essentials of what should be packed in your carry-on bag.  They are listed in order from most important to least important.

  1. Underwear- I know I listed this as my #1 thing to have in your checked bag too, but if your bag gets lost, an extra pair may be all you need till you get to your destination
  2. A book- a book can always help fill the time, when you are waiting for your flight, your taxi, or on the train
  3. Sunglasses- whether your destination is a hot or cold one, sunglasses can always come in handy
  4. Snacks or Gum-you might not like the food served on your flight or wherever you are going, so snacks can help fill the void until you get to a restaurant.  In addition, gum always helps when easing the pressure on your ears when taking off and landing.
  5. Jewelry/Valuables-if your bag gets lost when traveling, you might not be able to retrieve it, which is why I always carry any valuables in my carry-on

Top 5 (things to have in your checked bag)

We all forget things from time-to-time when we go on vacation.  Whether it is a hat for a beach getaway, or a pair of extra warm socks for a ski vacation, something always seems to get left behind.  Being an avid traveler, I have had much insight into the essential things you must pack in your checked luggage in order to be prepared for any trip that you are about to take.  I have listed them below in order from most important to least important.

  1. Underwear-always an essential...you can wear the same clothes if you have to but in my opinion you can never run out of clean underwear
  2. Travel-sized toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner)-Not only should travel-sized toiletries be more then enough for the vacation you are about to embark on, but they also help save space in your suitcase (which is great if you tend to overpack like me)
  3. Travel-sized umbrella or a rain jacket that folds well-you never know when it's going to rain
  4. Comfortable walking shoes- whether you prefer sneakers or sandals, and depending on where you are going, I recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes.  I personally love to walk around wherever I am visiting to get a better insight into the local culture.
  5. Chargers, extra batteries (possibly even an extra memory card for your camera)-if you love to take pictures, then there is always the possibility of the batteries dying or filling up your memory card (which is why I always like to pack a charger and extra memory card in my suitcase)

February 20, 2012

I prefer jetBlue

Airlines are constantly trying to find ways to get people to spend more and more money.  As if purchasing a flight isn't expensive enough right now, most airlines are also trying to get us to pay for a checked bag.  In addition, if the bag is considered "heavy" you will be charged an extra fee.  While there are certain airlines that have started to charge people for a checked bag, jetBlue is one of the few that still allows one checked bag for free.  In addition to allowing people to check one bag without a charge, jetBlue also offers extra leg room, free television shows, movies, and snacks.  Personally, jetBlue has become my favorite airline to travel with in the United States and Carribean.  Many of perks they offer for free, most airlines have started to charge people for.  Not only has traveling with jetBlue made flying more enjoyable, but the amicable staff also attends to each customer assuring that you have a positive experience when travelling with jetBlue.

Looking for travel tips and recommendations?

One of the most important aspects of planning a trip, is researching where you want to go before you book it.  There are new media items which help enable anyone to research their trip, even when they are not at home.  The invention of the iPad has helped many people plan trips, research hotels, and learn about activities while they are on the go.  While new electronic devices are helping people make use of their daily commutes (and often unused time), I personally still like to refer to magazines for advice when planning a trip.  One of the magazines that I always refer to when booking a trip is Departures magazine.  It features one location in each issue and elaborates on what to see and which activities to partake in.  If an issue does not focus on a specific location and the "5 things to do, see, and buy" there, it might focus on a season, and where to go and what to do during that season.  Although not everyone can get the hard copy of the magazine (you must have an American Express credit card), they also have a website which provides just as many travel tips and recommendations as the magazine.  I hope that sharing this very useful travel resource will encourage and enable many people to start traveling more!

(For more information, and specifics, look at the useful sites I have listed, and there is a link to the Departures magazine website).

My Summer in China

A few years ago, I spent a summer in China.  While I might say to some people that I went purely for educational reasons, I am also willing to venture to say that I went for a much bigger reason; that is, I went to receive a better understanding of the differences between the United States (a country in the Western World) and China (a country in the Eastern World).  While in China I took a few classes, including: ancient Chinese medicine, Chinese seal carving, and a course focusing on the relationship between the United States and China.

But rather than focusing on each individual things I learned on this trip and while taking these classes, I will focus on what appeared to be the most eye opening for me.  Some of the most influential experiences came from the weekend and overnight trips that I took.  While on these trips, I was really able to see the differences between the two cultures.  One night I had the pleasure of having dinner with a family in Shanghai (which is one of the largest cities in China).  While having dinner with this family, which has a daughter about the same age as me, I was able to learn a lot about their day to day interactions and activities.  While talking to the daughter, she informed me that after she attends school each day, she comes straight home and starts helping the mother.  A woman's role in China is changing constantly, and as described by the girl I met, the daughter helps the mother on a daily basis.  Due to the fact that China still upholds the rule that each family can only have one child, most chinese families still wish for a boy, so that the boy can help support the family when he gets older.  If a family wishes to have more than one child, then they must pay a fee; which is exactly what the family did that I had dinner with.  I was able to take away the fact that while a women's role in Chinese society is still not honored, a woman in a chinese family plays a big role in day-to-day life.  While this dinner was not necessarily the most exotic thing I did while on the trip, it definitely helped me get a so-called "insider view" into chinese culture (more specifically the one-child policy) and learn from the perspective of someone the same age as me.

February 8, 2012

Traveling is Relaxing...at least to me

There are many different reasons why people like to travel.  Whether it is to visit family, go on a relaxing vacation, or being able to get away with your friends, I believe that traveling is relaxing no matter where I go.  Technically I travel every weekend to visit my boyfriend who lives an hour away from me.  One thing that I have a strong opinion on, in regards to traveling, is that I always have to bring something to read with me.  I find that reading helps me relax even more.  It can be gossip magazines, a book I am reading for my own enjoyment, or a homework assignment.  Not only does it help the time pass when traveling, but it also provides a sense of relaxation for the mind.  Next time you take a trip, I highly recommend bringing some reading material!