Tips for Solo Travel

Hey everyone! I am back from my month-long trip to England and I am ready to get back into blogging. If you weren’t aware, I went to England to visit/meet my long-distance boyfriend for the first time! It truly was the best month of my life, and I am so excited to go back very soon! For now, I really want to share some fresh new content with you all. In today’s blog post, I wanted to discuss and share some tips for those of you who are planning to/want to do some solo traveling in the future.

Leaving for this trip was really nerve-wracking for me because it was my first time traveling alone. While I have traveled with family and with a study abroad group in college, I have never been completely on my own. I have traveled internationally before, and I felt like I knew what to expect at the airport due to my past experiences. Still, traveling on your own, especially through an airport and internationally can seem pretty overwhelming and intimidating. Whether you are going to be alone for your entire trip, or you are going to meet a friend, I am hoping to calm your nerves and ease your mind about solo travel!

My Tips:

  • Pre-Plan EVERYTHING

At times, planning for trips can get stressful, so it is very important to prepare ahead of time. This includes booking a flight and any attractions/activities, being aware of your own personal budget, checking the weather etc. You can make a checklist so that you do not forget any important steps. You can even plan out what days you want to accomplish certain tasks leading up to your departure. If you have your airline’s app, you can check-in and pay for luggage before you go to the airport as well. Anything that will save you time is worth it! Since the pandemic has begun, travel has become much more restrictive, so there are also factors relating to Covid that you must look into (such as booking any Covid tests, quarantining, mask mandates, etc.). Please remember that if you do plan to travel at this time, be safe and do your best to distance yourself from others, wear your mask, and definitely bring some hand sanitizer with you!

  • Keep all valuables in one place

When traveling, there are important documents/valuables that you may need, and it is essential that you keep these items close to you and in a safe place (but be sure that they are easily accessible as you make your way through the airport). An example of this would be bringing a laptop case and using this as your personal item. In the case, I had my laptop, phone, passport, and a folder with my negative Covid tests and other important forms. By doing this, it saved me from having to dig around in my carry-on. Constantly check to make sure that these valuable items are on your person, and never leave your bags alone or with a stranger.

  • Read about the airline/requirements beforehand

While airline rules and regulations tend to be pretty similar across the board, there is always a chance that you could miss some important information. Airlines will typically have certain rules in relation to the size and weight of your luggage for example, so it is best to look into these things ahead of time. I flew with United Airlines, and looking on their website as well as downloading the app was very helpful. I highly recommend downloading your airline’s app because it will be your guide for many things. You’ll be able to see any changes made to your flight, information on your luggage, and all of the details relating to your trip.

  • Be adaptable to change

Traveling can be unpredictable at times. There can often be delays, schedule changes, lost luggage, the list goes on. It is important that in moments like this, you take a deep breath and calm yourself down. Getting angry or upset is not going to help you in this situation, and everyone working at the airport is doing their best. These things are out of your control, so there is no point in panicking. Things definitely did not go perfect for my first time traveling alone! My first flight kept getting delayed, so I had to speak with someone to help me get on a new flight. Then when I arrived in London, my bag was missing (it took a few days for it to be located and brought to me). Things will not always go according to plan, but as long as you stay on top of these things and speak to someone right away, you are going to be alright.

  • Be aware of your surroundings

This tip should relate to your everyday life, and even more so when traveling alone. Never take your eyes off of your bags, and never leave it with someone you do not know/aren’t traveling with. As annoying as it may be to drag along your bags with you to the restroom or to grab a quick bite to eat, it’s better to keep your belongings with you. Also, keep an eye out for anyone acting suspicious. Since you’ll be alone, there won’t be anyone to do this for you. If you notice anything strange, be sure to tell someone working at the airport about it. Traveling alone can already be nerve-wracking, but you can’t let this distract you from your surroundings.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I know many people who would rather have a complete breakdown trying to figure something out on their own rather than asking for help. Please never think that asking for help is a weakness (in any situation in life). When you are experiencing something new, you are most likely not going to have all of the answers. If you aren’t sure where your gate is, or if your luggage was lost, don’t hesitate to walk up to someone working at the airport. Chances are, they will know exactly how to help you (or at least they will tell you where to go to get the help you need). That is after all, what they are there for. Plus, it’s better to be absolutely certain of something by asking another person or people instead of thinking you know everything.

Of course, I could go on sharing even more tips, so please let me know if a part two would be helpful! I hope that this blog post has inspired you and encouraged you to think about solo traveling. Trust me when I say that it is not as scary as it seems! Plus, as you do it more often, you will become more and more comfortable. I will be traveling alone again very soon, but this time around, I feel much more prepared and less nervous. I guess it all comes down to what you really want. I knew that I desperately wanted to be with my boyfriend in person, so a little nervousness wasn’t going to hold me back. If you are set on the idea of going somewhere on your own, or you’ve dreamed about it forever, do it! You will never regret traveling, and taking a step toward independence can be such an eye-opening, freeing, and overall wonderful experience! Thank you so much for reading! Safe travels, and I’ll see you next time!

My Trip out West: Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and More!

Hey everyone! I am now home from my two weeks away! I had an amazing time on my vacation with family, and of course for my first blog post back, I really wanted to share my trip with you all! When it comes to my travel posts, they tend to be a bit lengthy, so I’ll try to go over all of it without going on for too long! All photos in this blog post were taken by me (besides the group photo of my family/photos of me).

We left for the airport on June 7th, and we took a short plane ride to Sioux Falls, South Dakota! When we arrived, we wanted to see all that we could, so we hopped in our rental car and left to see the sights! It was actually very hot for the first week of our trip. There was a heat wave going on, and from what I understood, this is pretty unexpected for the area. We decided to first stop by Falls Park, which was very close to the airport. We walked around for a bit to explore the falls, and then made our way to Mitchell, South Dakota. While driving through, we ended up passing The World’s Only Corn Palace, so we got out to see what was inside. It was built in 1892 and the purpose of its creation was to present the products of the harvest of local farmers. There are murals outside and inside the building made up of corn and other grains which I thought was pretty cool. It is free to go inside the palace, so if you are in Mitchell, SD, it is worth a quick stop!

I will never forget the sunset we saw that first evening. We were driving through what felt like the middle of nowhere (aka prairielands), but it was the most peaceful and beautiful thing. The sunset seemed to last forever; slowly falling below the horizon as time went on. I’ve never seen a sunset like it before! The sky was orange, yellow, and pink, and no picture could do it justice, so trust me when I say that it was incredible. On this entire trip, the sky was so blue, and I’m not used to seeing that daily! Make sure to look up and appreciate the wide blue sky out west! While service may have been a bit spotty throughout this trip, it allowed me to be fully present and to not miss such beautiful natural sights.

The next day we saw Badlands National Park. This stop was truly incredible, and there was so much to see at the park including the many rock formations, canyons, and spires! When traveling to many national parks, you can expect to do quite a bit of driving to different locations and then stepping out to walk around and enjoy the views, which is exactly what we did. Also, we were excited to see the wildlife in this part of the country, which you can spot on your drives through the parks in this area. As the day came to a close, we saw yet another gorgeous sunset! We were really hoping to see the stars that night, but sadly it was a little too cloudy. We still decided to stop by the amphitheater at Badlands to hear more about the stars from two astronomy rangers.

Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park

The next day, we were in Rapid City! This was definitely a bit different compared to our previous stops. This looked more like a typical small city, which I really liked! Our first stop of the day was Chapel in the Hills. This chapel is an exact replica of a church in Norway called Borgund Stave Church. The architecture was really unique to anything I had ever seen before! Something about it even reminded me of the architecture you may see in Asian countries such as China. It was a small but beautiful chapel, and I enjoyed being there. We went on a short prayer walk, and then stopped by the gift shop where we picked up a couple souvenirs.

Chapel in the Hills

That same day, we went up to see Deadwood, which was a very fun town! Everything about it definitely looked old western, and walking around there almost felt like we went back in time. We even saw a short performance of an old western gun fight! There is a lot to see and do there, and I highly recommend stopping by! Later that evening, we walked around Rapid City, and concluded our day with dinner and ice cream.

The next day was a very exciting one! We were heading to see the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It’s one of those things that you have to go and see in your lifetime! While we were driving, we could start to see parts of the monument from our car. When we got in, we walked along the Avenue of Flags, and stood right before the monument itself. There are 56 flags total and they represent the 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the U.S. I’ve heard a couple people say that seeing it in person was actually quite an emotional experience, and for me personally, I wasn’t very emotional but I was definitely amazed! The fact that people were able to carve such incredible detail into the rocks really fascinated me. While we were there, we were able to learn more about the people who worked on the monument and what their working days looked like. I’m sure it was very dangerous and risky, and hundreds of people worked on it from 1927 to 1941. I actually thought that it was a bit older than it really is!

My family and me at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial

After our time at Mount Rushmore, we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial. I was not aware of this memorial previously, but I recommend visiting, especially if you are around Mount Rushmore or visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Crazy Horse Memorial is still being made, and it has been in the works since 1948! The Black Hills actually belonged to the Sioux Indians and Crazy Horse was a war leader who fought to keep their territory. At the time, the president of the United States agreed to leave this land to the Sioux Indians, however when gold was found on the land, it was taken over. This monument is being made to honor the war leader Crazy Horse and his people. They are making short-term goals and are unsure of when it will be completed. I thought this was really amazing to see, and while I can’t imagine the amount of work and dedication that this has taken and will take, I do know that the end result will be outstanding! We took a short bus tour, where our tour guide explained the meaning behind the monument as well as the history. We then stopped by the Indian Museum of North America as well as the Native American Cultural Center.

The Crazy Horse Memorial in progress

The next few days were spent in Custer, South Dakota! I really liked this area, and I enjoyed walking down the main road with all of the restaurants and shops. For our first day, we went to Custer State Park. One of the highlights of this trip had to be when we got into the park, and just a couple miles in we were stopped by a herd of buffalo! Up until this point on the trip, I don’t believe that we saw any, at least not up close! Obviously it is very important to keep your distance from wild animals, so we all stayed in our car. We watched in awe as they all passed us by; taking videos and getting pictures. They took their time walking in and along the road, and a long line of cars was forming on both sides of the road. Eventually they started running. It was a really great start to our day! On this trip, we saw buffalo, antelope, moose, elk, horses, and even prairie dogs. We also saw a black bear and two cubs from very far away. We ended up doing a hike at the park and we took the Cathedral Spires Trail. I highly recommend this hike if you are visiting the park! It wasn’t an incredibly long trail, but it was a little strenuous in parts. It is worth it in the end (trust me)! After, we went to Sylvan Lake, which is also in the park. We walked around the entire lake, which was stunning! Many people were out on canoes, swimming, and relaxing by the water.

Me at Custer State Park after hiking the Cathedral Spires Trail

The next day, we went to Wind Cave National Park! We were able to take a tour of wind cave, which I thought was really cool! My family and I have taken a couple tours of caves in the past, and I always find it so interesting. We first saw the natural opening of the cave which was pretty small. If you stand in front of it, you’ll feel a blast of cool air hit your face and blow through your hair! We obviously did not and could not go into the cave this way, and we went for the manmade entrance instead. Our group had about 40 people (including us), and we all stayed together while we went about 200 feet below the surface. The cave is more than 500 feet deep (only 5-10% has been discovered). Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and she was able to tell us about the history of this cave and what it meant to the Native Americans. She also shared stories with us about the young boy who was the first to explore the cave.

Later that day, we took some time to relax at Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa. I had actually never been to a spa before this, so I was really looking forward to it! It was a very quiet place and there really weren’t very many young people besides my siblings and me, but it was very relaxing and enjoyable! It was a beautiful and tranquil place, and we had fun swimming in the natural springs. It was a perfect afternoon after all of the walking we had done on the trip so far!

We had a wonderful time in South Dakota, but the next day, we drove into Wyoming! We decided to stop and see Devils Tower National Monument. I don’t think I had ever seen anything quite like this before! We took the loop trail that surrounds the tower and read about the legends, history and how it was formed. The next town we stopped at was Buffalo! I really liked this town, and thought it was adorable! I liked walking along the streets and we spent some time souvenir shopping and looking at antique stores which I absolutely love to do! We also saw the Occidental Hotel, which apparently has a lot of history behind it. I loved seeing all of the vintage furniture and items from many years ago. We even saw a book complied of many newspapers from the 1920’s! We ended up having lunch at the saloon attached to the hotel.

Devils Tower National Monument

The drive from Buffalo to Cody was just breathtaking! We drove along the scenic route where we saw and drove through snowcapped mountains! If you are traveling from Buffalo and making your way toward Yellowstone, I would say it’s worth it to drive into Ten Sleep and then to Cody. By doing this, you will be able to see more, and the scenic route is beautiful! Ten Sleep is a super small town, and there wasn’t a lot to do there, but it was nice to see. We also saw some Native American Petroglyphs nearby, which was really incredible! To know that these carvings and symbols have been there for many years and the fact that we could still see some so clearly was remarkable!

We eventually made it to Cody, which was another town I really liked visiting! We stayed in an adorable cabin with a few horses outside and a river flowing through the backyard. We fell asleep to the sound of the river, which was the most relaxing thing and it helped me to fall asleep so easily.

The next day we went to see Old Trail Town. This is where cabins from 1879-1901 were brought and reassembled in order to preserve them as well as the artifacts from this time. The cabins were all from different areas in Cody. We walked through some of the cabins and peeked inside others. There are 26 buildings at Old Trail Town as well as a gravesite. Some of the people who were reburied here are Jeremiah “Liver Eatin” Johnston, Jim White “Buffalo Hunter”, Belle Drewry and more. It was very interesting to see these old cabins, and to think about what may have happened inside. Some were homes, some were hiding places, and others were shops and saloons.

Old Trail Town

After this, we finally made it to Yellowstone National Park! Along with seeing Mount Rushmore, this has been something on my bucket list for quite some time! If I am being honest, although I had wanted to come here for so long, I really did not know much about the park. If I knew anything, it was that the park is very big. It is around 3,472 square miles and it all sits on top of a volcanic hot spot! There are so many things to do and see here, which is why I am so grateful that we had multiple days here. I would say that if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, you should at least stay for three days. There are five entrances to get into the park. On that first day, we went into the park through the east entrance. We stayed in a town called West Yellowstone in Montana, which is apparently the most popular town for Yellowstone visitors. We did a lot of driving in Yellowstome (we pretty much drove through entire park on this trip). I will never forget seeing Yellowstone Lake for the first time. It was our first stop in the park and deservedly so! The water was a gorgeous teal/blue and it almost seemed like an ocean. In the distance, we saw snowcapped mountains which was always incredible to see! We enjoyed this spot, and we talked about possibly booking a boat trip on the lake during our stay. We continued on after this and took a hike on Natural Bridge Trail. I was a little nervous about seeing bears or really any wildlife while we were out hiking. Luckily we did not see anything at this time! It is a flat hike, and it was around 2.5 miles. The end was beautiful with a waterfall and of course, the natural bridge! We then went to see some of the sulphurous pools and hot springs which are very dangerous. If you go, make sure to stay on the boardwalks and to hold on tightly to your belongings. These pools and springs are incredibly hot, and you can burn yourself if you get too close. Some temperatures of the pools can reach up to 456 degrees Fahrenheit! It was so interesting to see the steam rising from these pools. A couple of the things we saw that day include Chruning Caldron and Dragons Mouth Spring.

Natural Bridge in Yellowstone

The next day at Yellowstone, we stopped by Firehole Falls, which was a gorgeous sight! Something about waterfalls are always so majestic. Seeing the sun shine on the water was stunning. We continued the pattern of driving and getting out to see more of the sulphurous pools and springs. On this day, we saw some pools that were a gorgeous intense blue color! Some were more of a lighter sky blue, whereas others were more teal/dark blue. We also saw the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the U.S.! This was definitely a favorite stop for me, and I highly recommend seeing it for yourself! The colors were just phenomenal, and even in the steam, we could see the vibrant colors of blue, orange, and yellow. Later on, we made our way to Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s most famous geyser! Many people gathered around to wait for the geyser to erupt. Old Faithful is very predictable, and its eruptions are estimated pretty accurately (it goes off every 35-120 minutes, and lasts for 1 ½- 5 minutes). It can get up to 90-184 feet!

A hot spring in Yellowstone
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone
Old Faithful erupting

If you’ve never heard of Grand Teton National Park, all I can say is please make plans to visit this wonderful place at least once in your lifetime! Before visiting, I had never heard of it, but I am so grateful that I was able to go! It ended up being a highlight on my trip. You can enter this park through Yellowstone, or by going around it. The views were breathtaking, to say the least! Seeing the mountain range sitting in front of us truly felt like we were looking at a painting, and the photos don’t even seem real! Being here made me wonder about all of the stunning places in the world that I am not aware of. I loved exploring this park, and if you’re going to Yellowstone, you might as well check out Grand Teton too!

Grand Teton National Park (my favorite photo I’ve taken on the trip)

For the last few days of our trip, we were back in Yellowstone to see the other side of the park. This time, we were entering through the north entrance and staying in Gardiner, Montana. This day was a bit more relaxed for us. We went to see a very pretty waterfall and spent some time simply enjoying the view at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (though my mom and I are scared of heights, so we enjoyed it from further back). That evening, we finally went on our boat ride on Yellowstone Lake! I love going on boat rides, and we do this on most of our vacations. Our tour guide took us to different stops where he was able to tell us more about the park and its history.

We saw Mammoth Hot Springs the next day, which is another popular stop. Most of our day was spent around this area. We walked along boardwalks to see the complex of hot springs, and even saw photos of what it looked like years ago. The scenic views were outstanding here as well! For our last day, we decided to go on a hike. We were hoping to do the Fairy Falls Trail, however it was extremely popular and crowded. We ended up choosing the Bunsen Peak Trailhead. This trail was 2.1 miles, and getting up to the summit was a little bit difficult at times (though uphill is always more of a challenge). The view was worth it though, and once we got to the top, we were happy and relieved. We could feel the cool breeze and the sunshine on our skin. For the final time, we were able to soak up the incredible views of Yellowstone before making our way back down and exiting the park.

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone

That concludes our trip out west! We flew home from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. I am extremely thankful and appreciative that I was able to go on this trip and see more of this beautiful country. There were moments when I forgot that I was still in the U.S. I think at times, we forget that this country is very unique in that there are so many different and special landscapes, mountains, beaches, parks etc. around us. Exploring each state is still on my bucket list, and now I don’t have many more left on my list, which is so cool! I know this post was long, but I hope you enjoyed reading about this very memorable trip! While I enjoyed it very much, I am happy to be home and back to blogging regularly! Thank you again!

How to Become a Citizen of the World

For today’s blog post, my boyfriend Tom and I wanted to share some of the ways that you can become a global citizen. We understand that not everyone has the means to travel, and that is completely ok! There are so many different ways to become more culturally aware, and you do not need to have a ton of money to be able to learn about other people and cultures. You simply have to be respectful, open-minded, and willing to learn.

It is so important to understand that your own city/state/country is not the entire world. People all over the globe do things differently, and it’s not about doing things right or wrong. It can truly benefit us all to learn about these differences and even the similarities. By doing this, we can avoid egocentrism (the inability to understand others thoughts and ideas) and get out of our comfort zones.

Do your research

One of the simplest ways to become a global citizen is to do your research. If you find that you are curious or you have questions about a certain country or culture, don’t be afraid to look it up! There is so much information out there, whether that be in books, magazines, or the internet. If you have always been fascinated by the Inca Empire or Ancient Greece for example, you can find plenty of resources out there. There are a variety of educational articles and videos as well. If you are a student, you have most likely had to or will do some kind of research project or paper on a historical event or culture, and you can use these opportunities to expand your mind. What’s great about this is that when you learn something new, you can pass on the information to others. For example, I took a global communication class recently, and I was able to learn about different topics that interested me such as Buddhism and I learned about a popular festival in Zimbabwe: the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Tom and I also decided to try participating in Nyepi, or Bali’s Day of Silence (except we did it on different days). It all starts with doing some research, and it truly doesn’t take too much effort due to the fact that this information is essentially right at our fingertips.

Participate in different cultural events in your area

While you may feel like you live in a city or town that is not very diverse, there are most likely still going to be different cultural events going on nearby. For example, in my town, there is never a lot going on, however if I were to drive about half an hour away to a larger city near me, there is always something to go and see. We highly encourage you to look into different museums (online or in person) and/or diverse groups and organizations in your area. By doing this, you can get to know real people who are different from you, yet living in or around the same area. If traveling is not an option for you, you can look around and get involved in your community. Maybe there is a festival relating to music, art, or food from around the world. Most of the time, these events are worth attending.

Learn a new language

There are plenty of ways to do this, however it can be time consuming and it takes a lot of hard work. You can use different apps or websites that make it easier to learn a new language (for example: Duolingo or Babbel). Also, if you are a student you can take advantage of the language courses that your school offers, and you can continue to progress from there. Learning a new language can be challenging, so of course, it’s best to start with basic topics (greetings, foods, places, etc.). You do not have to learn a new language if you are traveling to another country, however you should learn the basics so you can greet others and be respectful throughout your stay. It can be very beneficial to become multilingual, not only for travel but for work as well. It will also be much easier to communicate with people from other countries.

Show respect to others

Showing respect to others looks like understanding differences through unconditional open-mindedness. This is an important, proactive approach to always practice, including for travel. It is beneficial to walk into situations and amongst people with zero preconceptions, to enable ourselves to learn from the ground-up, just what makes other people tick. It’s a dangerous thing to follow the judgmental opinions from some others about different people, like those living in different countries or those partaking in different cultures. 

If you decide to travel somewhere new, it is always best to look into the different laws and cultural norms so that you avoid upsetting others. There are some things however, that can only be learned during your travels, and often times, the events that are unplanned can end up being the most memorable and even educational. Showing respect to those around you should always be a priority. It is important to take an interest and overall to be kind to those around you, no matter what. Love and respect can transcend borders, and at the end of the day, we should celebrate the different people, places, and cultures in the world around us.

And of course…

Travel

There is something so incredibly eye-opening about immersing yourself into a new culture. You’re able to learn about different celebrations, important days, unique foods, and all of the cultural norms. I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my life, and with each trip, I learned something new. Through my university, I was also able to study abroad in France for a week, which was a dream come true! During my travels, I recognized not only the differences from my own culture/country, but the similarities as well, which are also important. By seeking out the similarities, it can bring us a sense of comfort and we are able to relate to others this way.

A great way to work towards world citizenship whilst travelling is to be intentional in meeting local people and spending time with them, learning first hand about their background and lifestyle. From personal experience, engaging in simple conversations and showing genuine curiosity is a prudent path to earning respect for both parties. Provided that language itself isn’t a barrier, so much valuable information can be learned from verbal interaction, but willingness and a warm smile can go a long way too!

Stepping into an unusual culture scene may seem daunting at first, but as this is undertaken more and more, feelings of anxiety should subside and the ability to adapt confidently will strengthen through experience. Encountering a different interpretation of the arts is something likely to be witnessed, with unique expressions of music, dance and other physical creativity. Provided the activities have good harmless intentions, it shows acceptance and respect to join in. It’ll be a guaranteed mind-opening experience and you’re sure to have fun too!

Once again, we understand that not everyone has the means to travel, which is perfectly fine! If the opportunity ever arises for you, we highly encourage you to travel and take full advantage of the new experiences!

We definitely recommend doing all that you can to explore the world around you, to educate yourself on other cultures, and to find the courage and confidence to truly experience something new, even if it is intimidating or it seems strange to you. Always remember to be kind, compassionate, understanding, and respectful toward others, even if they live their lives differently from you or they don’t look like you.

Tom and I live in two different countries, England and the United States, so we have been able to learn more about each other’s cultures and the ways that we live our everyday lives. We often discuss some popular meals, places, and events in our areas, and we even like to joke around with each other about the different words we use for the same objects. We have hopes to travel together in the future, and due to our long-distance relationship, we will be traveling to see each other very soon!

We hope that you found this blog post inspiring and helpful! By following these tips, you are on the right track to becoming a citizen of the world! Thank you for reading! – Amanda Sacchere & Tom Patch

My Trip to Peru

Hey everyone! Today I have another travel post for you all! I always enjoy writing these posts because it gives me a chance to relive my trips through photos and videos! I like to look back in order to remember certain events and to simply reminisce on wonderful experiences! Today, I am going to be sharing my trip to Peru with you all! (All photos in this post were either taken by me, or a family member.)

In June of 2018, my family and I went on a trip to Peru! This was quite the surprise, and I was thrilled because I knew I was going to be doing more exploring, and that by going on this trip, I would be able to check another item off of my bucket list! None of us had ever traveled to South America before, so we were really looking forward to it. Of course, before I travel anywhere new, I really like to do some research on the country, the culture, the people, the food, etc. Doing this makes me more knowledgeable, and I also feel that it is respectful to learn as much as you can before going to new places (you never want to make others uncomfortable or do something that can be seen as disrespectful).  I was able to learn so much, and I even shared the information with my family. For example, I learned that due to the elevation in Cusco, some people who travel there may feel a bit nauseous or out of breath for some time.  Also, it was important to keep in mind that when it is summer in North America, it is winter in South America, so even though we went in June, we had to pack some warm clothes!

For those of you who do not know, my grandma is from Spain, so my mother’s side of the family is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. This was very helpful for us while we were away. Even though you do not necessarily have to speak a certain language in order to travel to a different country, I feel that people should at least learn the basics (hello, goodbye, thank you etc.) in order to be respectful. The locals in Peru mostly spoke Spanish, however they did speak some English in the areas with a lot of tourists. For those of us who don’t speak Spanish, we were still able to communicate somewhat easily.

We soon arrived in Peru, and our first stop was Cusco. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel called Niños Hotel Meloc. Although we were all feeling pretty tired and jet lagged, we were ready to do some exploring! In order to beat any altitude sickness, the hotel staff gave us all coca leaf tea. Luckily, we all felt fine, however this is not the case for many visitors.

I fell in love with this beautiful city! It was vibrant, exciting, and there was so much history surrounding us. The people were amazing, and there always seemed to be some sort of event or celebration going on, and the locals were wearing colorful, traditional clothing. I loved walking down the streets of Cusco and seeing the incredible Spanish colonial architecture. I really loved walking through the Plaza de Armas! Nightlife in Peru was unique to anything I had ever seen before. Many young people would be out dancing in the streets, all in sync with one another. We stopped to watch and I remember in these moments, I just felt really grateful to be able to experience a new culture. That night, we all went out for ice cream at a place called Qucharitas ice cream shoppe, and we all agreed that we needed to go back for more before we left Cusco (it was that good)! One moment that stood out me while in Cusco, was when we found ourselves walking through an open-air market.  It was interesting to see because it was not something that I was used to, and we were able to see how the locals lived their everyday lives.

The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús in the Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

The next day, we were able to go see the statue of Christ (or Cristo Blanco) standing tall on top of a mountain, guarding the city. The view from this spot was breathtaking, and I although you can see the statue from many different spots in Cusco, I feel that it’s worth it to get up close. The statue also glows at night, which I thought was really beautiful. After, we went back to the Plaza de Armas to see if any events were taking place, and to take some more photos. We saw the Statue of Pachacuti, who was the ninth ruler of Cusco, and later on, the Emperor of the Inca Empire. He is a very important figure in the history of Peru, so we sat on the steps for a photo.

Cristo Blanco
Cusco, Peru
A few family members and I at the Statue of Pachacuti in the Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

Throughout our time in Peru, we saw many alpacas walking around, which I absolutely loved! I thought they were so adorable, and we even stopped to take a couple photos holding the baby alpacas! Next, we decided to stop by the Qorikancha museum, which I found so interesting. The architecture was absolutely beautiful as well. Once again, we were able to get a gorgeous view of the city from here!

Me holding a baby Alpaca
Cusco, Peru
Me at the Qorikancha museum, admiring the view
Cusco, Peru

The day after, our driver took us to multiple locations where we were able to see some of the Incan ruins of Peru. This was a truly incredible experience, and we really enjoyed traveling around to see the stunning views and ruins. At one point on our tour, while we were in the car, a herd of sheep stood in our way in the middle of the road! We had to slow down and let them pass, and I thought they were just adorable! We were able to see the Pisac Ruins in the Sacred Valley, and being there felt so unreal. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and I could have sat there admiring the view all day long. We also stopped to see the Maras Salt Mines. These ancient salt pans have been around for over 500 years, and I thought it was so cool to learn about. This day-long tour ended with our driver taking us to our next stop, which was a town called Ollantaytambo.

The Pisac Ruins in the Sacred Valley
The Maras Salt Mines

We spent a couple nights in the small village, and we also traveled up the hillside to walk along the Ollantaytambo ruins. It was here that we were all given pisco sours to try at a restaurant in the town. This is a classic Peruvian cocktail, and these are given out at many restaurants throughout the country. Although I don’t really drink alcohol, I actually enjoyed this!

After, we made our way to a town called Aguas Calientes, which is where tourists stay in order to see Machu Picchu! I was so excited because this was something that I had been wanting to see for a long time. We all woke up around 4 in the morning so that we could see the sun rise over the famous Inca ruins. Our hotel was giving out breakfast to-go, so we took our food and stood in a long line of tourists, eager to get to Machu Picchu. We were on the bus for a little while, but soon enough we arrived! I couldn’t believe what was standing right in front of me. We decided to explore the ruins on our own, which was amazing, and then a few of my family members decided to hike Huayna Picchu. I decided not to, due to my fear of heights. Later on, those family members told us that there were steep and narrow steps toward the top of the mountain called the “Stairs of Death”, so I personally think that I made the right decision. If this doesn’t scare or intimidate you, then you should definitely try this hike. The view at the top looked amazing.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Afterward, we went out to eat. Before arriving to Peru, I was not sure that I would enjoy the food, however I was pleasantly surprised. The food in Peru was so delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed most of my meals! Aguas Calientes really caters to tourists because the town is full of restaurants and gift shops (this is most likely because many people have to stay there to see Machu Picchu). The restaurants in this town definitely seemed a bit fancier, and the presentation of each dish was really unique and pretty! I found myself trying certain foods that I would normally avoid, and I thought it was all so tasty!

For the second week of our trip, we went to Máncora, which is a resort town right near the border of Peru and Ecuador. The reason it wasn’t cold in this location is because we were right by the equator, where it’s warm all year long. We stayed at a gorgeous resort called Máncora Beach Bungalows. We spent the entire week out on the beach and in the pool, soaking up the sun and relaxing in our bungalows. We also did some exploring in the town. It didn’t seem to be a very busy time of year, so things were pretty quiet, however we heard that nightlife in Máncora is pretty big during their busier months. Once again, we really enjoyed the food in this town, and almost every night, we would watch the sunset, when the sky would turn beautiful shades of pink and orange.

A beautiful sunset in Máncora

For our final day, we went back to Lima, the capitol of Peru, to explore the city. It was pretty different compared to the other cities we went to. It was more modern, however there were some buildings that were much older. I really loved walking around the Plaza de Armas de Lima (or Plaza Mayor), and we stopped to take a look at the Government Palace and the Catedral de Lima. We also decided to go inside the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, which was in walking distance from the Plaza. The inside of the cathedral was very unique to anything I had ever seen before. I always love walking into ancient cathedrals because I get to admire the architecture and it makes me think about how many people have walked by or inside since it was first built. Also, underneath the cathedral, we saw the catacombs, which was really cool. Lima was a very lively city, and we spent most of our last day taking it all in and reflecting on our favorite moments throughout our trip. This concluded our summer vacation, and the next morning, we were up and ready to head over to the airport so we could go home!

Basílica y Convento de San Fransisco de Lima

I was and am so very grateful that I was able to travel to Peru. Out of all of the places I have ever been, I think that Peru was the most different from my home country. It was unlike my life in the US, and I found so much beauty in this wonderful country. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommended traveling to Peru. It is such an incredible feeling to step outside of your own bubble, to see how other people live their lives, and to immerse yourself into new cultures. I will never forget this experience.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to Peru! I am finally all caught up on my travel posts, however I am hoping to share more travel related content very soon! My family and I have plans to do some more traveling this year (safely, of course), so I am looking forward to sharing that with you all! Thank you for reading!

My Trip to the UK

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share another travel post with you all! After this, I have one more recent vacation to share, and then I will be all caught up on my travel posts for now! This post will be pretty long, but I hope that you will stick around and read about this memorable trip! (All photos were taken by myself or by a family member).

In June of 2017, I went on a family vacation to the UK! There was so much that I was looking forward to crossing off of my bucket list, and I was so excited to go! We traveled around different parts of England and Scotland, and we even spent one morning in Wales.

When we arrived at Heathrow airport in London, I remember feeling eager to see all of the sights, however we were definitely a bit jet lagged. We gathered our bags and met with our driver who took us straight to our first stop, Bath! On the way there, I was feeling tired, but couldn’t fall asleep because we were driving on the wrong side of the road! I was a bit nervous, but I also found it so interesting! I loved seeing how different everything looked from my town in the US, and I also thought it was so cool to be in a country with so much history. We soon got to the hotel and after checking in, we decided to explore the city of Bath!

I absolutely loved this city, and felt like it was the perfect first stop on our trip! As to be expected, we did a lot of walking in pretty much every city, but any time I am in a new place, I really don’t mind because there’s so much to see! We eventually found ourselves standing in front of Bath Abbey. Of course, we stopped to take photos and to admire the beauty that surrounded us. We went to take a look and spent some time inside. After, we continued exploring and we walked by the Royal Crescent; one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks. I found the architecture to be so interesting and unique to anything I’d ever seen before! Sadly, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Bath (it was only a couple days), but I really did love what we saw! Just a few years later, and this city now holds a very special place in my heart.

My older sister and me standing in front of Bath Abbey
The Royal Crescent

Next, we were on our way to see a very historic landmark that I am sure most people have heard of, and that is Stonehenge. We first drove from Bath to Avebury and then to Stonehenge. When we arrived, we all were given a headset and device so that we could stop and listen to learn about the history of Stonehenge. I didn’t really know very much about it beforehand, but I was aware of its importance in the UK. I think it is amazing that these stones have been here since 3000 BC to 2000 BC! I also feel that it is so important that we keep these monuments protected and taken care of; not only to attract tourists, but because of the interesting history behind it. After our tour, we decided to stop by Salisbury Cathedral which was incredible.

Stonehenge

The next day, we made our way over to Wales to see one specific site: Tintern Abbey. This was so cool to see because the Abbey is a ruin, but so much of it has been preserved, so we took a tour inside and around the area.

A few of my family members and me at Tintern Abbey

Back in England, we spent some time in Chipping Campden, which is a small market town. I loved our hotel, which was close by. It was small, yet very nice and I liked that it felt private for my family. I believe this is where I was introduced to the typical full English breakfast! While I did enjoy most of what was on my plate, I found it so strange that beans are considered a breakfast food because this isn’t the case in the US. I remember really enjoying the food in this area. One day for lunch, we were at a restaurant close by, and there was a group of about four people and they were playing some traditional music while we ate our food.

One of my favorite areas was the Cotswolds! I just really enjoyed being in the countryside of England for part of our trip because it felt peaceful to be out in nature. On one of our hikes we saw many horses, cows, and sheep walking around as well! I absolutely loved seeing all of the charming villages!

We soon made our way to our next destination: Keswick. I really enjoyed staying in this town because it is right in the northern Lake District, and we were surrounded by the beautiful mountains! I thought it was the cutest town, with some stunning views! My family and I took a little boat ride on Derwentwater which was beautiful, and then we decided to go on a hike at Lake District National Park. The views were truly breathtaking! It was a pretty long hike, but it was still very enjoyable because we had such perfect weather and the fantastic scenery around us.

A view from our hike at Lake District National Park

After making our way to the North of England, we went a bit further to spend some time in Scotland! I didn’t think I would, but I absolutely fell in love with Edinburgh! We arrived on a cloudy day, but something about this felt perfect. The architecture and mood of the city just seemed a bit gothic and dark which I surprisingly really liked! I just love big cities because there is so much to do and see! As we walked around, we saw the Scott Monument which I thought was so cool! We also stopped in front of St Giles’ Cathedral. The crown spiral was awesome, and I felt that it was a bit more unique compared to other cathedrals I had seen previously. We walked up Calton Hill to see a gorgeous view of the city with many monuments in walking distance. I have such a fond memory of our first night in Scotland. When we went out to dinner, it started to rain, and normally this would bring down my mood, but I was just so happy that I didn’t care! I was laughing and having a great time with my family.

St. Giles’ Cathedral
Our view from Calton Hill with the Dugald Stewart Monument

Eventually we got to Loch Ness, which is a very famous lake in Scotland. It was actually pretty cold when we arrived, but we still wanted to spend time in the area. Despite the cold weather, we all got some ice cream (because I don’t care how cold it is, I will NEVER say no to ice cream)! After, we somewhat spontaneously decided to take a boat ride on the loch, however we split up, so a few of my family members went on a larger boat to tour the lake and search for Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster), and the rest of us went on a high-speed boat tour, which was so much fun! We had to wear some protective gear (goggles, a life jacket, etc.) as well. I was a bit nervous, but I spent almost the entire ride laughing with my brother sitting beside me!

Preparing for our high-speed boat tour

We also went to check out Tynemouth Castle and Priory. I loved seeing this because it was in such a beautiful location; overlooking Tynemouth Pier! Although it was windy, it once again seemed to perfectly add to the overall mood of the castle. I really loved exploring things like this because I had never walked through ruins quiet like it, and the fact that so much of it is still standing after so many years blows my mind!

Tynemouth castle and Priory

After our time in Scotland, we made our way back to England for the end of our trip. We only had a couple more stops, but first we went to York! This was another city that I really loved! As we were walking, we ended up seeing York Minster Cathedral. This medieval building is very important to the city of York, and it is one that you definitely cannot miss! There’s something so nice about just walking around a new city. While it is the simplest thing you could do, it is so exciting as well! It was another day where I simply felt happy and not for any specific reason either! I enjoyed walking by all of the shops and the food was delicious as well!

York Minster Cathedral

Our trip was coming to an end, so of course, our final destination was London! I completely fell in love with this city, and I never wanted to leave! I was overjoyed to be there! It was a bright and sunny day when we arrived, and we saw most of the tourist attractions that day. We saw Westminster Abbey, which was amazing, and then we saw Big Ben which is, of course, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world! Throughout our entire trip, we stopped to take a ton of photos, but once we got to London, the amount of photos doubled! After admiring Big Ben, we stopped by the London Eye. We debated whether or not we wanted to go on, but we decided to keep exploring instead (though I hope to go on one day)! We spent some time relaxing in Trafalgar Square which was very crowded, but I didn’t mind at all. I really enjoyed being around new people, and it was nice to just take in everything in that moment. I was really looking forward to seeing Buckingham Palace because it is historic and one of the most popular tourist destinations in London, so this is where we headed next!

Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
Standing in front of Buckingham Palace

The next day, it was a bit rainy, but that was definitely not going to stop us from going out! On this day, we went back to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards! Then, we went to Picadilly Circus. A lot of people tend to say that all big cities look the same. People also compare London and New York a lot, saying that Picadilly is just like Times Square.  In some ways it did remind me of New York, but it was different in some significant ways too. Things like the red double-decker buses, the architecture in many areas, and of course the well-known landmarks and monuments made this city really stand out to me. We stayed in this area for a while, walking past all of the shops, seeing the attractions, and hearing musicians playing on the streets. Eventually, we made our way over to the British Museum. We were able to see a few different exhibits, but we had to see the most popular exhibit, which is the Rosetta Stone! Seeing the Egyptian Hieroglyphs in person was really incredible, and it made me think about the different ways that people could communicate through writing/symbols.

Everyone is familiar with the playwright Shakespeare, and it was really cool to walk by Shakespeare’s Globe, which is not very far from where the original theater once stood! We also happened to walk by a colorful mural of him which I loved! On our final day of the trip, we saw a few more important landmarks, and of course my family had to buy a couple souvenirs from the gift shops! We saw Tower Bridge and also London Bridge, which both cross over the River Thames. Up until this point, I had yet to try fish and chips, and as cliché as it sounds, I didn’t want to leave without having it! This was one of my last meals in the UK.

A few of my family members and me standing in front of Tower Bridge

The next day, we were off to Heathrow, catching our flight to head back home to the US! I was so sad to leave because I had such a wonderful time on this trip! Now, I have all of the happy memories to look back on through photos, videos, and stories.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to the UK! I know that many of us really miss traveling right now, but I truly believe that sometime very soon, we will all be able to see more of this beautiful world again! Thank you for reading!

Can’t forget the classic phone booth photo:

London, England

My Trip To Hawaii

In June of 2016, my family and I were off to Hawaii! This was another very memorable trip for us, and I got to cross a few things off of my bucket list while we were there! I have been reminiscing on past vacations since summer time is upon us and that is usually when we do our traveling! Today, I wanted to talk about this trip with you all. I am sharing this story by memory (and with the help of photos). All of the photos I share with you were taken by myself or a family member.

I remember that the flight was a pretty long one. We actually had a layover in Arizona, and then we flew straight to the beautiful island of Kauai (The Garden Island). I believe that the flight from Arizona to Kauai was 9 hours. I was so excited to go on a tropical vacation. Hawaii is one of those places that everyone dreams of going to, and I was and still am so grateful that I had the chance to go.

Kauai is very dreamy and beautiful, and even though we went around June, the island was not really crowded with tourists. This island is definitely less touristy than some of the others!

We stayed in the cutest Airbnb right by the water. The décor was tropical, and my favorite part was the balcony that looked off at the pool, and behind it, the ocean. Waiting for us on the table was a lei and a note from the owners. I loved the beautiful plumeria flowers that we would always see in Hawaii. We didn’t do much that first day because we were pretty tired, but we were looking forward to our 2 weeks of relaxation and exploration.

The view from our Airbnb in Kauai

One of the things I remember hearing about Hawaii was that it is extremely humid, and while I did feel the humidity, it wasn’t terrible (though my frizzy hair may have said otherwise). The weather was so beautiful on this trip. Every day was sunny and 80 degrees, and it really only rained while we were sleeping. I love sunny days and I am not a fan of rain, so I was happy!

On our first day, we all put on our bathing suits and drove down the road to the beach. The water was a stunning turquoise blue, and the weather was perfect. Poipu Beach was where we spent a lot of our time on this trip. When we drove around the island, we stopped a couple times to take some photos. We often saw beautiful waterfalls that would seemingly come out of nowhere.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

We spent most of our days relaxing by the water. When we weren’t at the beach, we would be hiking, swimming in the pool, exploring the island, and trying new restaurants. I remember that one of my favorite places was called “Bubba Burgers”. I still think that these may have been the best burgers I have ever tried! I tried some great seafood, and I often ordered my favorite dish: pasta (doesn’t matter where I travel, I always look for pasta on the menu)! I also had some white pineapple which was so delicious!

We went on a few intense hikes on this trip! One of the biggest ones was at Waimea Canyon State Park.  I reffered back to my Instagram post where I called it, “the craziest hike of my life”. To some people I’m sure this was not the case, but I guess at the time I felt that it was intense! We walked by some cliffs which terrified me, and I remember falling on my butt a couple of times as well! By the end of the hike, we were dirty and sweaty, but I didn’t care too much because the view was absolutely stunning.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

We also hiked some of the Kalalau Trail. This trail is very famous and it is, get this… 22 miles long (roundtrip)! We did not get that far, but what we did see was still beautiful. We stopped at an area that looked like a small beach. I can’t imagine hiking that long, but I’m sure the view at the end would have been amazing!

From our hike on the Kalalau Trail, Kauai

One of the highlights from this trip was a boat ride we took along the Na Pali coast. Kauai is not as big as some of the other islands in Hawaii, so we rode from one end to the other. We had so much fun, and tour guide was able to show us some gorgeous views. We were on a speed boat, so the wind was blowing and I remember laughing most of the time. We even saw a few beautiful rainbows through the waterfalls.

The Na Pali coast, Kauai

One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the wildlife. We were able to see Hawaiian Monk Seals pretty much every day. They would come up to the shore to sleep on the sand. Of course, we couldn’t get too close to them because we didn’t want to bother them, but they were adorable! On one day in particular, we put on some goggles and brought a waterproof camera out to the beach with us. Everyone spotted a baby seal with its mother, and a sea turtle, and I got to swim very close to them! It was truly incredible.

A Hawaiian Monk Seal, Kauai
A Hawaiian Sea Turtle, Kauai

Another highlight from this trip was when my family and I went on an ATV tour at Kipu Ranch. We went in 2 separate ATV’s and we followed a tour guide with other tourists. We would drive for a bit, and then stop to take photos and talk about the island. Although I’ve never seen “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, or “Jurassic World”, our tour guide told us that they filmed these movies on the island.

Our ATV Tour at Kipu Ranch, Kauai

Toward the end of our trip, we were able to see a luau. This is something that I think everyone pictures when they think of Hawaii, so this was really cool to see in person!

The last major highlight from this trip was a really big surprise to us. I always wanted to fly in a helicopter and that’s exactly what we did! This was such an amazing experience. We flew with a company called Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Our tour guide was very friendly and he knew a lot about the island. The views were absolutely gorgeous, and for someone who is fearful of heights, I was surprisingly not scared. We were able to have the tour recorded, so we can always watch it back and remember this amazing moment.

From our helicopter tour of Kauai

I am always so very grateful that I am able to travel the world with my family. Being with my family makes me incredibly happy, and when we travel, we get to experience something new and exciting together, making it even better. I am hoping that we can travel again soon, however our health and the health of those around is much more important, especially right now.

For now, I’ll be dreaming of traveling again. Until next time! Mahalo!

My Dream Trip to France – 2020

Hey everyone! I am back from my trip to France! Although I was so sad to leave, I was also happy to see my family again. To be in my own space again. I finally got to go on my dream trip, and I am so extremely grateful that I was given this opportunity. I am very excited to share my trip with you all today! I took a break from blogging while on my trip, but if you would like to see some more photos from France, check out my Instagram: @sacchere14.

The week before I left, I felt a mix of emotions. With every day that passed, my nerves intensified. What’s funny is that leading up to the trip, I was more nervous than I was when I was actually on the trip! I also thought I would be crying and missing my family every night, and while I did miss them, I was enjoying myself and having fun. I spoke to them every day.

I’ve wanted to go to Paris my whole life, and I felt like I was waiting forever to get there. Then the opportunity came up and I said yes. Everything happened so quickly after that. Before I knew it, I was in Paris.

Our first day was honestly a bit of a blur. After traveling and barely sleeping on the flights to France, we were exhausted to say the least. As soon as we got to Paris, we had to hit the ground running, and let me tell you, this was not easy. It was hard to enjoy that first day because of the jet lag, but we got to the airport, and we took a coach bus to our hotel. On the bus, we had a tour guide show us around Paris. We saw pretty much all of the big monuments/attractions from the bus that day. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. We walked down the Champs Élysées, and did a bit of shopping. On the night of the first day, we had a group dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.

My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower
Paris, France

We had to learn how to use the metro system, which was a bit difficult. My friend and I got lost a couple of times, but we ultimately got to where we needed to be. We walked so much on this trip though, which in Europe, is kind of expected. One day, we walked 13 miles! We decided that it was easier than trying to figure out the metro, but we still tried to take the metro when we could!

The second day, we walked to Sacre Coeur, which was absolutely beautiful. It is a giant cathedral sitting on top of a tall hill. On the way up, a few of the girls and I stopped at a couple souvenir shops. I know it’s cliché, but I decided to buy a couple berets. One in black, and one in red. I also bought an adorable key chain of the Eiffel Tower with some macaroons. Typical tourist, I know. Then we made our way up the hill to see Sacre Coeur. On top of the hill we had a beautiful view of Paris. After, a few of us decided to get hot dogs, and they were AMAZING. I’ve never had a hot dog with melted cheese on top. I don’t know what kind of cheese it was, but it was SO good.

Sacre Coeur
Paris, France

After lunch, we decided to check out the historic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Apparently, the owner of the store, George Whitman, would allow writers to sleep in the shop so long as they wrote something during their stay. And me, being a writer, loved hearing this. We then walked around the Latin Quarter and stopped by a couple of  boutiques. While looking for nothing in particular, I found a beautiful green and gold dress that I decided I needed to have.

In the evening, we all went on a Seine river cruise. The walk from our hotel to the port was amazing because we got so close to the Eiffel Tower. It was so beautiful, and we got some great pictures! A few of us went outside of the boat to get the best pictures and videos. The Eiffel Tower was lit up and standing tall right in front of us. A couple of the girls and I went out to dinner by the Eiffel Tower and had a really great meal together. We did it the French way, and stayed longer than we normally would. It’s funny, in the United States, everything feels so rushed. We are always on the go and we don’t always prioritize some time for ourselves or the people we love. In France, they have that time. They make that time. And it made me wish I could live the way that the French do. It just seems like a healthier lifestyle overall.

Paris, France

The next day, we walked to the Musée d’Orsay. We were able to stay for a while, and I got to see the self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as a few paintings by Monet. After this, my friend and I were on the hunt for the Moulin Rouge. We decided to walk from the museum which was a very long walk, and Apple/Google maps were not all that helpful. We got a bit lost, and even though our feet were killing us, it was kind of fun getting lost in Paris. Trying to find our way around and exploring the city.

On the way, we saw Ladurée, and that is THE place to go if you want macaroons. I was so excited, so we made a quick stop! It was not the one on the Champs Élysées, but the little shop was adorable, and we decided to try some macaroons. I got chocolate, rose, pistachio, and vanilla. We continued our search for the Moulin Rouge, and after so much walking, we decided to stop for lunch.

We finally found the Moulin Rouge, and we took some photos in front of it. We then made our way back to Sacre Coeur because it was a stunning area. We ate our macaroons on top of the hill, looking down on Paris. The macaroons were absolutely delicious! They were so flavorful, and I was so glad we got to try them.

Trying French macaroons for the first time
Paris, France

We then explored more of Montmartre. We were able to see a ton of artists drawing and painting, and we walked around the small, quiet village. Before dinner, our professors invited us to the Montparnasse Tower on the 56th floor, where the restaurant was. We had an amazing view, and we got to see the sunset go down over my new favorite city. My friend and I went to dinner afterward, and had what we both believe was the BEST pasta we’d ever had in our lives. It was a small restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. The food on this trip was so, so good. Almost all of my meals were delicious, but this one took the cake!

The view from the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower
Paris, France

The next day, we took a train to Lyon. If I’m being honest, I had never really heard much about this city. I didn’t really know what we would be seeing or doing here. The first day we were there, we had time to ourselves so my friend and I explored Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). We walked up a hill to get the best view of the city. We saw some amazing cathedrals and incredible statues around every corner. Seeing such old buildings and statues always fascinates me. I truly can’t believe that buildings like this are still here today, and that people actually made this at one point. I am so glad that the people in countries like this have taken such good care of these beautiful buildings, so that generations and generations could enjoy it as well.

Saint Jean Cathedral
Lyon, France

One thing I really wanted to try was chocolate, so I found a place in Lyon, and bought a few pieces. The employees at the little shop brought out a fresh, hot batch of brioche with praline roses. We tried some, and I was in heaven. It was so good.

The next day, we had a guide give us a tour of Old Lyon. She knew so much about the city, and she was able to tell and show us some things that we didn’t know about. She told us that the best place to get the brioche with praline roses was the exact place my friend and I went to the day before! I bought some praline roses so my family could try them! It was a really cold and rainy day, but we were looking forward to our cooking class that night. We were all able to help make a meal that we enjoyed as a group.

Vieux Lyon
Lyon, France

For our last full day in Lyon, we took a tour of the newer side of the city. This side was not as interesting to me, but it was still very cool to see the new buildings. It all looked very futuristic. The buildings were built in a way that allowed sunlight to reach almost every window. They were very unique and different from anything I’d seen before. After our tour, we decided to go back to Old Lyon. My friend and I were looking forward to trying crepes and they were really good, though they reminded me of pancakes.

We then stopped by a few stores. I was on the hunt for a nice brown trench coat. We walked into a department store and saw quite a few. I found that many were a bit too pricy for me. I saw one for $900! I knew I did not have too much money to spend, but we found one at a store called Pimkie, which I believe is similar to H&M. I bought a thinner brown trench coat for $50. It is not exactly what I pictured, but I fell in love with it.

The next day we took a train back to Paris for our final day. As soon as we arrived, all of us took the metro to the Louvre Museum. I was really excited to go because lately, the museum has not been open very often. We got to see the Mona Lisa, and we were amazed by the museum as a whole. After our time at the museum, my friend and I went off and stopped by Shakespeare and Co. again. We made reservations at Ladurée on the Champs Élysées because we needed to have macaroons one last time! The next day, we were headed to the airport to go home!

Seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum
Paris, France

Any time we heard people speaking English, my friend and I immediately wanted to talk to them. We would ask them where they were from, and what brought them to France. The locals were always very kind and helpful to my friend and I, and we never had one bad interaction with them. We found the negative stereotype that the French have of being “rude” to be very untrue. We even struck up conversations with a few of the locals and it was really interesting to learn more about their culture. I love being around people from all over the world because it truly shows you that there is an entire world out there besides your own city, state, or country, and it is incredible to see.

Something that I learned while being in France is that they have their dessert before dinner. Around 4-5, the French will go out for something sweet, and they usually start eating dinner around 7:30. It took us a while to learn this because after dinner, we would go out looking for crepes or ice cream, but most places were already closed!

While in Lyon, I realized that many of the locals did not know as much English as the locals in Paris. This made a lot of sense, seeing that so many people travel to Paris from all over the world. Lyon does not have as many tourists in comparison. It made me think about the fact that many Parisians most likely have to learn some English. The language barrier really wasn’t much of an issue, but in Lyon we did struggle to get our point across a bit more.

I was able to bond with some of the girls on the trip, and getting to experience this with them was fun. I always imagined that I would live out this dream with my family, but dreams don’t always work out the way you think they will. I think that things happen for a reason, and France taught me to say yes, to take risks, and to chase my dreams.

I feel so lucky that I was able to do this. I feel proud of myself for taking a big step, but what I’ve realized is that maybe I was more ready for this than I thought. Before leaving, I was fearful. Fearful of leaving my family, of having to take care of myself without them, and fearful that I wouldn’t enjoy my time. I didn’t know any of the girls going on the trip very well, and I thought of all of the things that could go wrong.

This trip really did allow me to get out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to gain independence and confidence, and it brought me so much joy. Deciding whether or not to do it was difficult, but in the end, I chose to chase my dream. Sometimes life is going to hand you certain opportunities, and you need to decide if it is worth taking a risk for. My trip was not perfect, but it was my dream, and I am so happy that I got to live it. Like I said, I’ve wanted to go to Paris forever. I always hoped I’d get there, I just never knew it would happen so soon.

Thank you so much for reading! I have many more dreams and goals that I can’t wait to share with you all one day. I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure. Until next time!

Pack With Me for My Trip to France

Hey everyone! I recently shared with you all that I am going on my dream trip to France over spring break, and I am leaving VERY soon! I am a little nervous but so excited! I can’t believe that I am already packing for this trip! Anyone who knows me knows that I love creating lists and planning things out, so packing for a trip is always exciting for me! Now unpacking…. that’s another story!

I am going to be gone for a little over a week, and since it is technically still winter, it is going to be a bit chilly in France. Although you can never be 100% when it comes to the weather, I always like to do a quick google search to see what the weather is typically like at the time of year I am going on a trip. I also constantly check the weather app on my phone prior to and during my trip. After checking the weather, I try to pack accordingly. I do not necessarily mind the cold weather, but I hope it isn’t going to rain too much. When I picture France, I don’t often picture a lot of sun, but I am hoping for the best!

Clothing :

Long before I go on any trip, I like to plan out different outfits to wear.  I will typically take pictures of them and save them in my phone so I can remember what I wanted to bring.  I also tend to go shopping before a big vacation for a few new pieces! I am not the type of person to simply throw a bunch of random things in my suitcase and call it a day (my sister does this and it drives me crazy)!

I often travel with my family, but they will not be coming with me on this trip, hence, why I am a bit nervous. I tend to over pack, and I will sometimes need someone else to carry a few of my things. This time, I need to pack light and really narrow down my options.

For clothing, I plan on bringing a couple light sweaters and long sleeved shirts. I am bringing some t-shirts, a cardigan, and a zip up hoodie for layering. I have this beautiful black pea coat that was given to me as a gift on Christmas, and it is perfect for France. The other jacket I am bringing will be more of a rain coat that I could wear on rainy/possibly warmer days.

As for undergarments, I like to bring extras. I’ll pack enough socks (long and short), underwear, bras, and a couple tank tops for layering purposes. 

Two of the days will be travel days, and I want to be comfortable on the long plane rides. I will be wearing some comfortable pants (most likely leggings), a loose t-shirt, and my boots. I am also going to wear my heavier jacket on the plane. Many people say that when you are traveling, you should try to wear your heaviest items so you don’t have to try and fit it all in your luggage. I am not the biggest fan of this tip though, because when you go through security, you’ll most likely have to take off those layers.

 I will be gone for over a week, so I think that bringing 2-3 pairs of shoes should suffice. I am going to try to bring a nice pair of flats, an athletic (and comfortable) pair of sneakers, and a pair of black boots.

Accessories:

I bought a matching scarf and hat set for the colder days. I also love cross body bags for travel, so I am bringing a simple black one that will match all of my outfits. At first, I did not want to bring a backpack because it is just another thing to carry, but I decided to get a small black backpack in case my necessities do not fit in my cross body. This way, if I need to, I can throw a couple things in there throughout the day. Or, if I buy something new, I can throw it in there as well!

When it comes to jewelry, I don’t go too crazy. I am going to bring a couple necklaces and bracelets, and a few different options for earrings.  I also wear two gold rings every day, so these are also coming with me!

Although it may not be very sunny, I like to bring sunglasses on every trip. I bought a simple black pair from H&M recently, so I will be bringing those!  I am also bringing a small umbrella, just in case!

Beauty:

When I pack my makeup, I try to think realistically about what I am going to use. I don’t really wear too much makeup on vacation (especially when I am at the beach), but I still want to look presentable. Luckily, I am a member of Ipsy, and many of the products I receive from them are sample sizes, which is perfect for travel! A few of my everyday beauty essentials are foundation (I use this as concealer. I never do a full face on vacation), powder, mascara, lip colors, and eyeliner. Since most of the beauty products I am bringing are fairly small, they can easily fit inside one of my glam bags, and inside my carry-on!

When it comes to skincare, I still do not necessarily have a set routine, but Ipsy has sent me many skincare products to try recently, so I am bringing acne wash, moisturizer, eye cream, and a facial cleanser.

I am unsure if I want to straighten my hair for this trip or leave it natural. I don’t really do too much to my hair when I am at home, so I may leave it natural because it’ll be a lot easier.  I am going to bring shampoo, conditioner, a mini hair brush, as well as a few hair accessories (hair ties, hair clips, bobby pins etc.).

Toiletries:

I like to be prepared for anything and everything, so my list is a little long, but I’ll keep it short for you. I plan on packing tweezers, deodorant, body wash, contact lenses (and extra contacts), glasses, toothbrush and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and razors, just to name a few of the items. I also think that it is important to pack some kind of pain reliever such as aspirin or ibeuprofin. When traveling, there are bound to be days when you aren’t feeling so great, so it can be a life saver to have this on you.

Technology:

I ALWAYS bring my portable chargers on any trips because we are usually out sightseeing all day when we travel as a family. This is an essential in my opinion. I will simply charge my phone and my portable chargers at night, and then I am usually good to go for the day! I also try to keep my phone on low battery mode, and when I am not using it, I will keep it on airplane mode. I am also bringing my headphones for travel days!

Miscellaneous:

Since I will be traveling out of the country, I am going to need my passport. I was given the most adorable passport cover and luggage tag for Christmas! I also need to bring some Euros in case certain places will not accept cards. I am bringing both my ID and student ID (for discount prices) as well!

I am so excited for this trip! This has been one of my biggest dreams for so long now, so the fact that this is actually happening is so insane to me!  I am definitely nervous to leave my family for a while, but I know that this is going to be good for me. Getting out of my comfort zone really does feel scary, but when I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone more often, I meant it. This is a big step for me, but I know I’m headed in the right direction.

I will not be blogging while I am away on my trip, but I will share my entire trip with you once I return! If you would like to keep up with my daily life, follow me on Instagram @sacchere14 (I will be posting many photos while on my trip)! Thank you for reading! Now, I’m going to go live out one of my biggest dreams! France, I’ll see you VERY soon!

Au revoir (for now)!

My Trip to Italy

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to talk about my family trip to Italy. In 2015, we packed our bags and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Italy. This trip was so memorable because it was my first time in Europe and although I was only 15, I remember almost everything about this vacation. (All of the photos that I am sharing with you were either taken by me or by one of my family members.)

When my family surprised us and told us that we would be going to Italy in June of 2015, we freaked out to say the least. We were so excited for many reasons, one of which was the fact that we had dreamed of going, and since half of my family is Italian, it was exciting to imagine that we would be going to the country that my ancestors were from. The plane ride was probably the longest I had ever been on. It took about nine hours for us to get to Italy, not including the two plane rides we had to take before the one to Italy.

Our plane landed in Rome, and we quickly got on a train to Venice (we were saving Rome for last). I remember we were exhausted when we arrived, but I felt wide awake due to the excitement and the view as soon as we stepped out of the train station. I will never forget what I saw and how I felt in that moment. I felt like I had traveled back in time, and that I wasn’t even on the same planet. The view was stunning, and I couldn’t believe what was in front of me.

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

We first had to find our hotel, which we had a bit of trouble with. In Venice, there are no cars, so we walked everywhere we went in the city. It took some time walking through narrow alleys, and crossing cute little bridges with all of our luggage. We finally found the hotel and it reminded us of a dollhouse. We had two separate rooms since my family is rather large. We had beautiful weather in Venice, and I believe that it was cooler here because we were by the water. I truly did feel like I was living in a movie or another world that I was just not at all familiar with.

We did some exploring, and one thing that stood out to me was the fact that there were so many giant cathedrals and they would come out of absolutely no where. We would turn a street corner and all of a sudden there was an incredibly beautiful cathedral right in front of us. I couldn’t believe the detail of these cathedrals, and I questioned how on earth anyone could have built this. It also made me compare the architecture to that of America.

Venice, Italy

In Venice, we walked through Piazza San Marco, and at night it was lit up with bright yellow lights. I found myself getting pictures of every little thing that I saw in every city. I remember taking a photo with my older sister at Piazza San Marco, and I laughed because it looked like we photoshopped ourselves into the picture! My family decided to go on a gondola ride which was one of the highlights of the trip. That is something that many people dream of doing if they were to travel to Italy, so it was really incredible to experience it.

My family and I on a gondola in Venice, Italy.

Of course, we had to try pizza, pasta, and gelato (we ate gelato most nights and I was in heaven). I remember feeling nervous about having to communicate with the locals, but I believe many of them spoke English, at least in the cities that we traveled to. One of my favorite things about traveling is being around different people from all over the world. Hearing new languages and seeing how other people live their lives always fascinates me.

Our next stop was Pisa, where we were able to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Campo dei Miracoli (or The Square/Field of Miracles). Once again, we turned a corner and there was the leaning tower, along with the three other buildings in the complex. We got a family photo in front of the tower, and we ate lunch at a small pizza place close by. The pizza in Pisa was probably the best pizza that I tried while in Italy (it’s always the small corner restaurants that do it best)!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Pisa, Italy

Next up was Florence. We got to see the Florence Cathedral which is one of Italy’s largest, and yet again, the detail amazed me. After seeing Florence, we traveled to the coast and spent some time in Sorrento, and it was beautiful. Right across the water, we could see Naples, which is where my Grandma’s family is from. We then took a train to Pompeii and we were able to walk through the ruins of Pompeii and see some of the old artifacts. We also walked up Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD, ultimately causing the destruction of Pompeii.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Our next stop was Amalfi, which was one of my favorite cities that we went to. Our hotel in the Amalfi Coast was gorgeous. Both of our rooms had a balcony; one with a view of the water, and one with a view of a cathedral. When I woke in the mornings, the sun was shining through the windows of the balcony, music was playing, and I could hear the crowd of people walking around below me. We also spent some time swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and when we would turn around, we would see all of the colorful buildings sitting on the cliffs.

My siblings and I swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Amalfi, Italy

Our final stop on this trip was of course Rome. I was so excited to be in this city because I had dreamed about it for so long. It was incredibly hot when we arrived, but I didn’t let the heat ruin my time. We waited in a very long line in front of the Vatican in Vatican City to walk through the cathedral. The Pope was there the same day, and he spoke to the crowd. When we walked in, I just could not believe everything I saw. There was so much detail, even on the ceilings. This had to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen to date.

We went to see the Trevi Fountain, and although it was under construction at the time, I still tossed a euro and made a wish! On our last day, we got to see the Colosseum. We walked up a long road full of vendors and we stopped to eat some fresh fruit on the way. The entire time we were walking, the Colosseum was in sight. There were crowds of people waiting to get in, and we somehow got lucky, and we were able to skip most of the line! As we walked around, we saw old artifacts and I thought about the history of the Colosseum. We took a family photo, and this concluded our amazing trip.

Me standing in front of the Colosseum.
Rome, Italy

Whenever I travel somewhere new, I am always fascinated by what I see (especially when traveling outside of America). I always think to myself how amazing it would be to live in a place like Italy. The fact that people may walk by the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa every day, amazes me. The people who live in Paris may walk by the Eiffel Tower every day. The people who live in London may walk by Big Ben every day. Tourists may stop to take photos and get in the local’s way. I think that sometimes we forget to appreciate what surrounds us. I do not live anywhere glamorous, but when I travel I get to leave my home and explore and appreciate new places. Italy stole my heart the second I walked out of that train station, and if I could go back every year, I would. I know I’ll go back one day.

Thank you for reading. Italy will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget this trip. Leave me a comment below and tell me about your favorite vacation, or your favorite place in the world, whether it is in your city, or all the way across the world.