Taking a step back can be a big decision but today, I wanted to share 5 reasons why you should be slowing down and how it can lead to major growth.
So, as many of you know, I spent the last week slowing down and enjoying the beauty of Porto, Portugal. I had decided it was time for a trip all on my own and I couldn't have been happier. The past week was an opportunity for me to really step back and appreciate all that we have in this beautiful life. It held moments honing in on the little things and practicing radical self-love. With the end of summer, we normally envision the idea of 'starting over' in the fall and beginning with a blank slate. For me, this trip was a realization that life is really beautiful at the moment and with that beauty, comes peace.
I'll be writing a few articles over the next few weeks with tips from the trip, some of the best places I explored and the importance of slow + solo travel but for now, I'll share in the way I know best, through photography. Special thanks to the lovely people at Casa do Conto, Rosa Et Al, Pensão Favorita, Spazo Zen, Wine Quay Bar and Taste Porto Food Tours for helping make the trip that more special.
In four days, I’m heading out to Porto, Portugal for a much needed solo trip. This is my second “big” trip of the summer, the first one being Berlin in June.
Planning a trip is always one of the most exciting things, it's also psychologically proven that the anticipation of a trip can make you happier than the trip itself. We're talking, the affect of vacation anticipation boosts happiness for up to eight weeks. Get planning y'all.
I've decided to share some of my trip planning tips that have allowed me to have some unforgettable experiences in the past year.
It doesn’t hurt to ask
Okay, so I’ll let you in on a little secret. The past three big trips that I’ve taken (Barcelona, Berlin and now Porto), I’ve stayed in top-notch, five-star accommodation and I’ve done it all for free. Never in a million years did I think I’d be one of those “travel bloggers” that jets off and stays in luxury places but sometimes, life works itself out and here we are.
More often than not, establishments are willing to give you an exchange, where they allow you accommodation (or services) if you give them press by sharing your experience with your audience. Now technically, it’s not ‘free’ because you are working (creating content, photo and video footage for them) but the experiences are often so enjoyable that, it doesn’t seem like a hard job at all.
If you have outlets or an engaged (not necessarily large) social media following, where you can highlight companies, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. Quite often, individuals are more open to collaboration than you would think.
To be noted: This also sometimes works for restaurants and tours as well. I'll also be experiencing Wine Quay Bar on Rio Douro in a few days.
Social media is your friend
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love it for so many reasons but sometimes I dislike how much time I spend on the web and on my phone. But, one of the fantastic things is that social media connects you to people from literally anywhere all over the world! Whether it’s through travel Facebook groups, expat groups or Instagram accounts; I’ve been able to find local spots and link up with people in the cities that I visit.
My trip next week to Portugal is actually (surprisingly enough) my first solo trip and I couldn’t be more excited for the chance to meet new people and find local spots on my own.
Here's a tip: Instagram (we all know I’m a junkie) has a ton of wonderful new features where you can explore the 'gram by location. So of course, I spent all of last night checking out photos taken Porto to see different things from what people were wearing because of the weather (it’s 30 degrees cooler than Murcia right now and I don't remember the last time I had to wear a sweater) to what foodie photos I liked so that I could check out those restaurants.
This is something that I continuously have to work on. I’m known to be an over-packer but little-by-little I’m realizing the benefits of light packing. One trick I’ve been using is only bringing my favorites but also packing things that can be worn in more than one way. Your favorite romper can turn into a completely different outfit if you throw a cute button up over it, it's been proven. And don't worry, odds are, you aren’t going to need that third pair of shoes you’re planning on bringing.
Another issue that normally comes up is that when I travel, it's not necessarily a kick your feet up type of vacation. In other words, even though I'm on the road, I'm often doing work at some point during the trip which means... so. many. electronics. When it comes to bringing gadgets along, it's about packing smart.
As you might know, I recently received the Mod Laptop II from This Is Ground which I’m continuously in love with. While packing for this upcoming trip, I was overfilled with joy when all of my major electronics and travel necessities fit inside (read: laptop, iPad, cell phone, external hard drive, pens, travel journal, work notebook, credit cards, passport, chargers and keys) AND it fit into my normal travel purse with tons of room left over to accommodate my camera, tripod, travel sweaters and scarves.
Learning to pack light is really helpful and will eliminate hassle, especially if you’re flying RyanAir. Less is more.
Don’t plan too much
I’ll be honest. I’m a planner. I’m the kind of girl that writes at least three to-do lists, has three year goals planned out… we could go on forever. Although I'm a planner, when it comes to traveling and seeing new places, I like to keep a relaxed schedule. No one likes feeling rushed on vacation. I thrive on the concept of slow travel (a piece on that is coming soon) where I fully explore a city for at least 3 days before feeling satisfied. The best experiences I’ve had haven't come paired with tourist locations or big historical buildings but instead while strolling back streets and getting to know locals.
In each city that I go to, one of the most important things is trying the cuisine and getting a real feel for the people of the town. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with strangers (sorry, mom). Find the hole in the wall restaurants, sit at the bar and chat with the locals. Stumble upon cultural events and see what excites others.
We see different places and long for different cultures to truly experience life and learn about ourselves. One of the joys of a new trip is not just getting out of the city you live in but it’s about opening yourself up to new worlds and new parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. Start planning your next trip and don’t let fear or hesitation hold you back.
What are your must-do's before heading on your next trip?
Decided to kick off the beginning of summer vacation with a weeklong trip to Berlin. I'll be sharing photos from the trip as we go along so I hope you enjoy!
Had the opportunity to spend the first night at Gorki Apartments, by far one of the most luxurious yet contemporary hotels that I've ever experienced. The ambiance makes you feel like you're at home (or a home you wish you had) while still being extremely accommodating. The design is fantastic from their individualized apartments, each one having it's own name, to their choice of using the organic brand Dr. Bronners in the bathroom. The entire experience was quite welcoming, the central location made it easy to explore what was close by although, to be quite honest, the apartments are so enticing that you'll want to spend as much time in the room as possible.
On the first night, we were also invited to dine at Dao Restaurant which is a Thai restaurant that also has a cooking school. Let it be known that the food there was phenomenal and the curry is unforgettable. I got to spend quite some time with the owner, who is not just passionate about what she does but has a contagious energy. The experience you'll have at the restaurant will have you wanting to come back soon after.
Here are some more photos from the first two days in Berlin. Enjoy!
There is something about packing for a trip that has always seems to bring me joy. Maybe it's the combination of putting together my favorite outfits or envisioning myself exploring new places. As I get ready to head out for my next trip on Sunday, I decided to pack as light as possible... really trying to get this minimalism thing down.
This trip is going to be both business + fun so I decided to bring some my favorite travel essentials. Obviously my computer and camera are going onboard, necessary needs for daily happenings but I've detailed some other necessities for short-term trips.
I rarely go shopping but I recently brought a new pair of flowy summer pants that I'm absolutely in love with. Flowy bottoms give off cool vibes while still be extremely comfortable to romp around in while exploring a new city. I normally pack a lot of light pieces or dresses while traveling because they take up less space while still being versatile.
During my last trip to New York I got to spend some time with Cyndi Ramirez, fashionista and Use Dailē founder (an amazing skincare brand). I normally have quite a bit of trouble finding the perfect solution of my skin but since using this lightweight moisturizer, I don't want to use anything else. It's fantastic and not only that but hey have sample sizes which is the perfect solution to bring along for your next flight.
I'm a notebook addict, without a doubt. My favorite brands are Moleskine + Rifle Paper Co. I use my Moleskine for all things business and Rifle Paper for more creative things. I love being able to create on the road and I definitely work best while in transit so, train rides and flights are seemingly almost always productive. Notebooks are also wonderful for those late nights or early mornings after experiencing something completely new and reflecting on how great life is.
The Perfect Playlist
Of course, the perfect playlist for a trip is an essential. Music and memory are so strongly connected, when a certain song comes on I'm sure it reminds you of an experience you once had. I love spending time before a trip putting together travel playlists so that I can spend time jamming out or relaxing while in transit. Some artists I have on repeat right now are Laymah, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Rufus ft. Chaka Khan, and Corinne Bailey Rae.
What are some of your travel must-haves?
As many of you might know, I made a big move around eight months ago. I quit my job in NYC, left family and friends and jetted off for Spain. Why did I do it? I did it to continue creating a life that I love while dedicating time to things I'm passionate about. I moved to find balance and live a sustainable lifestyle. Since last September, my journey has allowed me grow both personally and professionally in so many ways.
In the past few months, major shifts have been happening and things are coming to fruition that I would've never imagined. My dreams are being actualized every day. Of course, it takes a lot of work, time and dedication but all of that pays off. I've decided to share some of what I've learned along the way in hopes that it might inspire you.
Create a Vision Board
Take time out to create a vision board. Visualize the type of life that you want. What does success look like to you? What's your ideal lifestyle? Don't focus on using words but instead choose the images that you're drawn to. Vision boards activate the law of attraction that pull things from your external environment to enable you to realize your dreams. By choose photos that incite emotions and passions, they'll begin to manifest in your day to day life. I have a physical vision board above my work desk and I constantly find myself looking at it, gaining inspiration each day. I also use Tumblr to find many different images that reflect the kind of lifestyle that I want to be living.
(Hint: Lots of plants, open space, style and minimalistic vibes)
Make Small Goals Every Day
Every night before I go to sleep I try to make a list of things I want to accomplish the next day. I reflect on how productive I was and then make adjustments moving forward. Making small goals + keeping your list manageable definitely helps with productivity. Take your bigger projects and break them down into smaller to-do's and be sure to diversify your list each day. If you have multiple creative projects, use one to give yourself a break from the others. There's such a liberating feeling that comes with completing everything that you set out to do so be sure to make your goals attainable. Be sure to give yourself a limit as well. There will always be more to do but remember to stop, spend time outside and enjoy your life outside of work.
Start Now + Keep Sharing
It's so easy to hold off on a project until you feel it's 'perfect' but what you're really doing is just holding yourself back. No one will ever know your potential until you start creating and sharing. Don't be afraid to take the necessary steps. Shoot the photos you've always, launch that website, start the blog, write the poems. When you look back, you'll be happy that you started when you did. Your work will get better with time but that's part of the journey. Don't be afraid to share and put your work into the world. Start now and push the fear aside.
Find a Support System
Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you. Those who push you to be a better person and who challenge you to take risks.
I'm so grateful to have so many supportive people in my life who believe in my visions and who also give real feedback, helping me evolve into a better version of myself. Life is too short to spend time with those who bring negative energy into your life. Focus your efforts on those who you feel have pure intentions, those who are both supportive and honest. Be sure to surround yourself with people who you admire. Odds are they'll be more than happy to share wisdom and help you along your journey.
Take Breaks and Celebrate Progress
So often, when you're chasing a dream it can seem like the work never stops. There is always more to be doing. Of course this is true, but it's so important to take breaks and celebrate how far you've come. Once a month, I take a few days to disconnect, step back and reflect. It helps me put my work into perspective, note progress and reevaluate where I want to be going. Also, be open to the fact that your dreams might change with time, we are constant evolving and something you thought you've always wanted can manifest itself in a different way. Be open to change and keep pushing forward.