10 Benefits of Traveling Solo

Because You Can

You have the ability to travel solo, everyone days. One of the simplest things that you gain from traveling solo is that you realize you can do it! If you are over the age of 18 you can do it whenever and wherever you like. Your mind may be holding you back but other than that there is no reason you can’t travel on your own. Maybe there are some other obstacles in your way such as money but that does not make it impossible. If you want to see a certain place in the world or have dreams of seeing the whole world, its time to realize that you have the power to make that happen.

Gain Confidence

When you accomplish traveling solo, you will realize what you are really capable of, especially the first time. This is a huge confidence boost, whether you are already a confident person or not. It will allow you to believe in yourself in ways that you never knew was possible. The feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with doing it on your own is hard to explain and probably different for everything. No matter how your solo trip turns out, one thing is for sure you can feel proud that you did it. Not everyone is brave enough to go for it.

You Choose

You get to choose where you go, what you do and exactly how you spend your time. You don’t have to compromise with anyone or do things that you may not want to do. You can spend your days exactly how you want to without having to think of anyone else. You can have a late night out or an early night in without any judgment or guilt. It is freeing and allows you to fully have the experience that you choose to create. 

the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

You Don’t Have to Wait

You don’t have to keep waiting on someone else. If you are waiting for that friend, family member, significant other or anyone to accompany you to somewhere you have always wanted to go, you may never get there.

Traveling solo has the ability open up a world of opportunities. You can choose to work remotely and travel, work abroad in another country or start a travel blog to document your journeys. There is so much you can do when you are not relying on anyone else or their timeline or expectations. You don’t just have to take a short vacation alone, you can go beyond it. Trust me, once you get that travel bug, you will become addicted and try to figure out how you can do it more.

Overcome Fear 

It gives you the opportunity to overcome your fears when you travel solo. I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t fear their first time traveling alone. Maybe your fear is small or maybe its huge but I don’t know that there is anyone who wouldn’t feel a little nervous or scared. If you are one of those truly fearless people, then lucky you, but if not, then don’t worry you are just like the rest of us. I have been traveling alone for some time now. Traveling solo can still can be scary the second, third time and so on. It does get easier, but that doesn’t mean its easy. Going somewhere new for the first time on my own always gives me butterflies in my stomach both for excitement and the unexpected. Traveling solo leaves room for me to grow each time and allows me to continue to not let fear stop me from doing the things I want to do in life. 


Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

When you travel solo you are continually pushed outside your comfort zone in so many ways. Not just when it comes to the fear of traveling alone but also the comfort in having a companion by your side at all times. You may have to sit and have dinner with ourself. It takes courage to enjoy your own company. It also pushes you to meet and connect with people from different walks of life. You may have to overcome language barriers, difficult situations, cultural differences without someone else to advice you or confide in. All of this is a part of personal growth and allows you to get to know yourself better. 

the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Meet People 

I touched on this in the previous section but it is really amazing the connections you get to make when you don’t have anyone else by your side while traveling solo. Yes, you can also meet people while traveling with others but I have found the best ways that I force myself to put myself out there more to make friends and get to know people is when I don’t have someone that is already by my side. 

When I first moved to China I knew nobody. I was lucky to be bunched in a group of other teachers right away, who became family in an instant. I have gained many other life long friends by putting myself out there on my adventures. I have had wonderful conversations with locals, briefly met other solo travelers that I now follow on instagram and continue to inspire me. Small connections along the road of travel and last a lifetime.


Experiences 

The experiences while solo traveling you can gain are priceless. Seeing something with your own eyes can never compare to a photo, no matter how fantastic the picture is. There is a feeling that can’t be captured. When traveling solo and being in the moment, having the experiences by yourself is also something very new. Experiencing alone may feel different or you may wish that there was someone to share it with but it will allow you to realize how special it is for you to have that moment to yourself. It can be a story you tell to others and something personal you can keep for yourself. You don’t have to share things with anyone in order for them to be special. 

Chengdu, China

Chengdu, China

You Don’t Have a Insta Husband

You may look at this title and immediately think it is a con, rather than a benefit of solo travel. I have a lot to say on this matter. In each situation I choose to look at the positive aspect. I love a good instagram photo and I have no judgment for anyone who wants to snap a beautiful photo while traveling or anywhere for that matter. I have also found ways to be creative in taking my own photos while traveling solo while not being afraid to ask a fellow traveler sometimes. I had a small tripod with me for my phone and I was not afraid to use it sometimes, but it suddenly broke. In overall crowded places it won’t work. When I do ask for someone to take my photo I don’t expect a ton. I am just happy with what I get, but we all know that it takes about 100 shots to get the perfect one, haha. I do believe its so great to have photos of yourself in the places you have been as a memory for yourself and to share with others.

However, when I travel solo it forces me to be more appreciative of the moment. I don’t have someone to constantly take a photo and I also don’t feel I have to take a selfie every second. It allows me to slow down and appreciate all my surroundings more and for this I see it as a blessing. Again, I have no judgment for those that are all about the photos and lets face it you need to take several to get a good one. But what does always make me sad to see when I see people pass through somewhere of history, a beach or anyone and take a photo then immediately leave without getting to know the history, taking time to enjoy the nature or whatever is but simply take  photo and walk off. What good is that? Thats all you came there for. That I don’t understand but to each their own. 

Discover Yourself

There is no better opportunity than solo travel, to get to know and find love for yourself. You are stuck with many of your own thoughts and it creates a great opportunity to really understand who you are. We all need time to ourselves whether you are single, married, or if you are the most extroverted personal in the world, everyone has good things to gain from alone time. Use this time to keep a journal, read a book or do things that you love.

Desert of Al Ain, UAE

Desert of Al Ain, UAE

These are just 10 of a numerous amount of benefits you can personally gain from traveling solo. We all have different perceptions. The way you experience something is individual to you. Regardless of the experience you have one thing that is guaranteed from solo travel, is the opportunity to learn and grow. I can’t wait to see where your adventures take you!

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney

Everyone.png
solo travel blog.png

The City in the Desert, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the bustling capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is often over shadowed by its nearby neighbor Dubai. There are many beautiful things to do and see in Abu Dhabi, it is worth a visit of its own.


Abu Dhabi is a great choice of a place to stay rather than Dubai or in addition to visiting Dubai. Abu Dhabi gives you a better taste of the local culture as well as even more beautiful beaches to enjoy.  


There are many beautiful sites, you will not run out of things to do. 

the Abu Dhabi Skyline by Unsplash

the Abu Dhabi Skyline by Unsplash

Things to Do:


The Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque (Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque) is probably the most well known structure in Abu Dhabi. It is also one of the biggest mosques in the world.

It is a stunning structure that you don’t want to miss. This mosque was designed to incorporate different muslim civilizations and embrace cultural diversity.

You must wear an Abaya to enter and they are provided for you at the entrance if you do not have one. The Mosque will leave you in awe from the outside, in. The amount of detail and beauty is truly amazing. The perfect instagram worthy shots are waiting for you here.

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

Taking a Desert Safari offers a great experience away from the city. You are picked up in the afternoon, then taken on a short drive to the sand dunes. The four wheel drive vehicles take you for a fast paced thrilling ride through the dunes. It’s not for those who get motion sickness easily.

Next you are taken to a camp that allows you to participate in some activities of your choice. The one we attended had sand boarding, camel riding, henna, and a booth for trying on traditional clothing. It ended with a nice buffet meal and entertainment of some traditional dancing before heading back to town.

This was a great way to spend an afternoon & evening. There are many different companies you can choose from for an evening in the desert.


Yas Island

 

Yas Island is the place to go for all of your entertainment needs and beyond. It has Farrier World, Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld and Warner Brothers Studios, as well as it’s own beach. There is also an abundance of shopping, restaurants and nightlife to enjoy in this part of the city. There is something to meet any interests.

Corniche 

Corniche Beach is a great area to go for outdoor activities. There are long walkways and boardwalks that are perfect for taking in the view of the beautiful Arabian Gulf. Cycling and pedestrian pathways line the beach, along with free sports facilities that can be used. There are different areas of the beach you can enter depending on if you are going as a family, single or group. Corniche is a perfect way to spend a beautiful day outdoors with all kinds of activities.

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Saadiyat Island

The public beach at Saadiyat Island is a perfect place to spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun and swimming the clear gulf water. It is clean and the water is clear. You pay a small fee to enter the beach for the day and you can pay a bit extra if you want a lounge chair included. 

the Public Beach at Saadiyat Island

the Public Beach at Saadiyat Island

The Louvre Museum

IMG_6593.jpg


The Louvre Museum is a highly recommended attraction to visit while you are in Abu Dhabi. The Louvre is a civilization and art museum that opened in 2017. The museum is full of all kinds of paintings & artifacts from around the world. The building itself is beautifully designed, you will be in awe as you walk through the different sections.  

This is the first museum in the Arab world that really celebrates being culturally open. A beautiful water feature runs throughout the museum and the laced roof was created to emulate palm trees that used to top houses.

You can really spend hours here if you choose to, taking in the design and exhibits throughout.

Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi

Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace Hotel


The Emirates Palace Hotel is another iconic landmark in Abu Dhabi. It is an immaculately designed hotel that was created with a mix of Arabian design inspiration along with modern luxury. It is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. If you are not a guest, you can still visit and wander around inside and out.

Where to Stay?

There are many amazing and beautiful hotels throughout the city of Abu Dhabi. For my recent stay I chose to spend my four nights at The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi. I highly recommend this hotel! It is a perfect mix of affordability, convenient location between the airport and downtown, great service and it has all the important amenities you could want. 

The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

room with a view, The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

room with a view, The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

The rooms have a beautiful view with floor to ceiling windows. The room was thoroughly cleaned and restocked daily.

the buffet breakfast has everything you could ask for and more. Having a good breakfast you can walk to is such a great benefit in my book when on vacation!

The gym facility is clean and also includes a sauna, steam room and outdoor swimming pool. Having gym access is a big bonus for me on my travels.

I also had a lovely massage in their spa that helped me to overcome my jet leg and relieve the tension of travel.

IMG_6620.jpg

There are several great food options within the hotel. I highly recommend trying Stock Burger. I tried my first Camel burger here and it was delicious! The prices are also really good!

All of the staff at the hotel were so kind and had exceptional hospitality. I will definitely stay here again when I come back to Abu Dhabi. To learn more information or book your trip check them out here: Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi


You can also follow them on instagram @holidayinnabudhabi and the restaurant @stockburgercoad

I hope you get to visit this awesome city in the desert and I can’t wait to hear about your experience.

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney


Why Visit.png

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

1.  Take your vitamins 

I believe that we can get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, but it is also ok to supplement. Just supplement responsibly. First of all, choose supplements that are organic or naturally made. The point of taking supplements is to nourish the body, don’t add extra toxins or chemicals along with it. Before traveling it’s a good idea to increase your vitamin intake, especially vitamins like vitamin C. This can help to give your immune system a boost. When flying, you can much more easily catch those circulating germs while on an airplane in the confined space. You also don’t know what you will be exposed to once you are in a new location. It is best to be cautious and if you don’t already, start taking vitamins a week prior. Bring some vitamins with you along the way and take them daily to keep that immune system up as it is not always easy to predict or know if you are getting what you need by the food you eat. 

 

2.    Immunizations 

I am a bit indifferent when it comes to how I feel about immunizations. I do not want to put a specific opinion on you but, regardless of your opinion, it is a good idea to look up any precautions about the country or region you will be going to, to see if there is something to be aware of. You can check by searching the Center for Disease Control (link below). You can also see a local travel nurse that can help you with this. Then it’s your choice if you want to get the recommended medication or shots before your journey. Despite whatever you choose it is so important to educate yourself and know what you may be exposed to along the way. It is especially important when you are traveling to remote places, in the wilderness or certain countries that have more serious disease risks.

Check recommendations here: CDC

3. Essential oils

If you read some of my other blogs you may know how much I LOVE my essential oils (quick reference guide = coming soon). I always have oils handy and I think they are the perfect thing to take while traveling on long trips or even with you day to day. I am all about natural healing as well, the less pills, the better! I especially love the roll-on essential oils, as they are less likely to leak and they make it easier for application while on the go. You can use lavender, for example, to help you sleep on the plane or feel calmer if you are a nervous flyer. This can also come in handy outside of flying if you have trouble sleeping in places other than your home. Peppermint is another good one to have with you as it can help with headaches as well as nausea. Eucalyptus is great to have for your health, it can help clear sinuses and congestion. I am such a big fan of oils, that on long trips I will also bring a travel size diffuser, so I can use it next to my bed at night anywhere I go, for whatever I need.

 *also make sure that whatever oils you choose are 100% pure like the ones below. You never want to take in extra toxins/chemicals as it defeats the purpose of using oils. 

Check out this oil travel pack from @sacredlifeoils:

brittany-neale-597651-unsplash.jpg

 4.  Pack some snacks 

It is a good idea to pack some snacks if you can manage to make the room in one of your suitcases. Personally, I like to have some sort of snack bars with me and maybe some nuts or seeds. I am not at all a picky eater and love trying the local cuisine but sometimes it is nice to have a snack with you that you know is healthy and something you like to eat. This is not just for health but for convenience. If you end up staying somewhere that does not have a breakfast, it’s an easy way to eat and even take on the go and start exploring. Sometimes the flight food is also not so great, so its good to have something with you to help or to eat in between. It can also prevent you from snacking on things less healthy along the way. Life can get busy on the road and it’s important to not overlook meals. Eating regularly will help you have a more enjoyable experience and keep your body running smoothly.

 

5. Stay Hydrated 

This, obviously, you know is important. I pack my lightweight Camelbak water bottle with me when I travel. See the Amazon link below. I love this one because it is lightweight but also BPA free. I love to always have this with me because you can have them feel it up on the plane as much as you want, and I tend to drink more water this way. Also, it’s a great idea to have with you daily while you are out exploring, rather than buying and using plastic water bottles everywhere you go. Yes, there are some countries that you cannot drink tap water. It is important to be aware of this. Typically, if you are in a hotel in these countries they will have water clean water dispensers or a kettle in your room so you can boil it first. I do my best to not only stay hydrated but to protect the environment in the beautiful countries I visit. I hope you will too! 

6. Probiotics & Street Food 

Taking probiotics, a week before travel and a week after travel are also a good idea. Unfortunately, you never know what bacteria you may pick up while eating food in different countries. This can help control any bad bacteria you may ingest. Be cautious when eating street food. Some of the best food I have ever had abroad has been street food, so I do risk it, but I also make sure that food is hot, cooked in front of me and doesn’t seem to have been sitting out. Use your judgement on what looks sanitary and what does not. It is important to be aware of fruits that have the peel on them in Asia and also if things are in water that is cold, as it may not be clean water. Here again, I recommend doing a quick research on the country or countries you are visiting to be aware of any food precautions. Despite if there are any precautions or not, it is a good idea to have your probiotics because even a change in the type of food you typically eat can cause slight discomfort and probiotics can help ease that. 

yummy street food, Chengdu, China

yummy street food, Chengdu, China

7.  Make healthy choices 

Food is one of the best ways to experience culture. I am all about balance when it comes to enjoying life and eating what you want, while staying healthy. I do think when you visit a new country or even state, you should enjoy and try the local cuisine. It is all part of the experience, but you an also make healthy choices too. Balance yourself out by not always eating processed foods, foods that are deep fried or full of bad fats. Most of my travels have been around Asia and let me tell you, if you eat the local food, you are eating much healthier than the typical American diet. In Bali, for example, the food is so amazingly healthy and fresh, and it may even inspire you to eat better back home. The point of this is to tell you, enjoy your vacation, take in the cultural cuisine but also be mindful of what you eat, nothing is worse than feeling awful on your vacation. I do not believe in “diets” or counting calories whether you are at home or on vacation, I believe in finding YOUR balance. 

8.  Stay Active

There is a good chance, that when traveling, you will be on your feet a lot. You will hopefully be out exploring, seeing something new everyday. However, you may also travel somewhere to relax and unwind on a beautiful beach. Being active should be a lifestyle, something consistent. I also believe in balance when it comes to exercise. You do not have to have a heart thumping crazy workout everyday if that’s not your thing. Just do something that moves your body. I take the below bands with me so I can workout in my hotel room, if there is not a gym there. Go for a scenic run or find a local yoga class. If you change your mindset and stop looking at it as a chore, movement can become a part of your normal life. And yes, on your feet walking around all day does count 😊. Staying active also can help to flush bacteria from the body, reducing your risk of illness.

9.  Sleep

Sleep is important to our overall wellbeing, it’s how our body can reset and restore. Traveling can really mess up your sleep pattern. If you are traveling to a different time zone then it can be a bit difficult to get adjusted, sometimes jet leg is worse going there and sometimes it is worse when you get home. I talked about how using essential oils can help you get to a calmer state and even help with sleep. If this does not work you can also bring along some melatonin, like the gummies below. Have a blast on vacation, enjoy some nightlife but also let yourself get the needed sleep. Your travel will be much more enjoyable when you are rested. It gives you more energy to go out and see everything you want to, as well as be more focused during that time, to be in the moment. When you do not get good sleep it can also affect your immune system and increase your susceptibility to illness.   

rodrigo-pereira-1131087-unsplash.jpg

10. Treat Yourself

Indulge in a little bit of self care and take a trip to the spa or anything that helps you unwind. This is the perfect thing to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. I highly recommend also making this a cultural experience, by finding some local treatments you can indulge in, for a one of a kind experience. For example, when I was in Kerala, India we went to a local Ayurvedic spa. Travel is amazing, but it is not always easy and it an be very exhausting. This is one of the best ways to get a digital detox, relax and learn more about the culture all at the same time. Do a little search of what is a specialty in that country. China has healing hot springs, Bali has spiritual healing and countries may have spas that look like something your used to, but look for specialty services that are once in a lifetime to try. I understand the want to be go, go, go and see as much as possible, but I hope you can also see that it is ok to a day to take it easy and recharge. Massages and other treatments can also help push out unwanted build up in the muscles and lymphatic system to keep healthy.

 

11.  Be Open Minded

Maybe you see this step and think, what does this have to do with my health. Emotions, thoughts and feelings are a part of our mental health and can have a direct effect on the physical body and its functions. When traveling, especially to a culture so different then your own, I cannot stress enough the value of being open minded. If you want to know what you are getting into, do a little research first to understand the people or what differences you might run into. I have seen people in a foreign country be so negative and bothered by things they are not used to. Yes, it’s normal to have culture shock, but try to find the joy in the differences. If you are not looking at it with an open mind, it can ruin your experience. It can also cause distress on the body, such as headaches, the ability to sleep and weaken your immune system if you are consistently harboring negative emotion. Even if you do not agree with the a certain practice or way of life, the take away can be appreciation for how you live. It will create a happier and more pleasant you from the inside out. 

12. Travel Insurance & know your surrounds

Travel insurance may not help you stay healthy, but it is a good precaution to take before travel. Many countries outside the U.S. also have much more affordable health care. If you do find yourself coming down with something, find a local pharmacy. You may be surprised that you can just walk in and get a lot of things over the counter for very cheap. I know this is for sure true in Asian countries. I also loved learning about the use of natural medicines, I would also ask for that first when available. Having travel insurance is not too expensive and if an issue does arise, then you know you are protected.

 

These are just twelve of many ways to keep yourself healthy while traveling. Of course, do not forget the basics like, washing your hands. Health is a part of our everyday lives. Maintain consistency no matter where you are in the world. Happy & healthy travels!

 

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney 

The Ultimate Guide.png

10 tips for traveling china

Tips for Traveling.png

Living in China definitely teaches you a lot. If it is your first time visiting the country, you may be in for a bit of a shock. I absolutely experienced culture shock when I first arrived, both good and bad. Overall I had the most amazing experience living in this vast and beautiful country. With that being said, it is not the easiest place and there is some getting used to. Here I will share with you 10 tips that can help you with your travels, including different Apps to use, how to get around, as well as clarify some false or exaggerated information I read before I went.

 

1. Have an open mind

If you are from a western country, even if you have traveled quite a bit, you still need to take in China with an open mind. The way of life and how they conduct themselves socially, and daily may come across very unusual, but don't be too quick to judge their character by your first impression. Places get very crowded and it can be overwhelming at first if you are not used to it. Standing in a neat line is not the norm, you must learn to stand your ground or people will cut in front of you. You may see people spitting on the side of the road and there is no laws against where you can smoke. Don’t let these first impressions turn you off from the kindness of the Chinese people and their eagerness to get to know you and help you in any way they can.

2. Plan out time

I highly recommend spending a good amount of time in this country if possible, more than a week would be ideal if not longer. There is so much to see and varying differences from province to province, from the landscape to the cuisine, to the language. See some different cities, both big and small, if you have the time. There are amazing huge cities to wander as well as beautiful countrysides of varying landscapes. Experience some of both if you can.

 

3. The language barrier is real

 I lived in the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of China. This is a large metropolitan city of 14 million people, which I highly recommend a visit. Despite the fact the city is big, you most likely will have a difficult time finding people that speak English, or that speak it well. Do not let this stop you from visiting, this was part of the fun of the country. I recommend downloading a good translation app, such as google translate. Not only can you translate by voice or typing in, but you can also take a photo of Chinese characters (which is all you may find at many local restaurants) to help you get by.

Get Google Translate for Android

Get Google Translate for iPhone

The Sichuan Mountains in China

The Sichuan Mountains in China

4. Transportation

 

China has amazing public transportation, both within the cities and between the cities.

 

Trains:

They have beautiful and clean high speed trains that can be a fun experience which also allows you to easily transfer to nearby places in a shorter time. They also have regular trains but I personally did not go on one, choose high speed if possible to get the most comfort and efficiency getting to your next destination. Always purchase your ticket a head of time and have it printed out before you go because the train stations can be a nightmare. It is very unclear what line to get in and when we had questions could not find anyone that could help us and almost missed our train. You can purchase tickets online with an APP I will share below or find a travel agency that can help you. You can purchase tickets at the station but again I do not recommend it, as they can get sold out and knowing what super long line to get into can be a guessing game.

 

 Taxi & Cars:

Taxis and hired cars that are equivalent to Uber, called Didi, are also a transportation option that you will find inexpensive. Uber itself has gone back and forth with functioning in China, however I highly recommend you download the APP Didi as it has less expensive fairs and, unlike when I first moved there, there is a full English option.  The taxis can be good sometimes, just be aware that some may try to scam you. I found that most will not, but where you need to look out for those taxi drivers that might, is near major tourist’s spots. If they notice you are a foreigner they may try to take advantage. Regardless, you will find that both Didi and taxis are very affordable compared to these types of transportation in America and possibly other Western countries. We even ordered a Didi from Beijing to the Great Wall, which was about an hour drive for a super low price of maybe $15 USD each way.

 

Metro:

Most all major cities have a good metro (subway) system. It may take a bit of a learning curve to understand how it works, but once you get it, you will find it super easy to use and very inexpensive. You can pay by trip, just use a little kiosk and choose your destination stop. Another option is to buy a metro card that can be purchased at 7-11s or Metro stations. You add however much you want onto it and then just scan your card each time you enter and exit the metro station. You do have to scan your bag when entering the metro. You can have liquid but they must scan the liquid before you enter and make sure you do not have any aerosol products, they will make you throw them away or not allow you through. At the end of this article I also share an App with metro that works in many major cities across China.

 

Buses:

Local buses within the city are also super convenient and easy to use. Each bus comes frequently, they are nothing fancy but comfortable enough. Do be aware that both the buses and metro can get very very crowded during early morning and late afternoons during work commuting. The same card that you use for the metro system can also be scanned and used as you enter a bus. You can also pay the bus per ride.

 

Bikes:

Cities in China have jumped on the grab and go bikes which I loved. This is a great way to get places and see different parts of the city or countryside you are visiting. Choose one of the bike APPS such as OFO or MoBike. Those are the major brands, but there are many more companies that have popped up you can choose to use as well, you just need to download the corresponding App and load money onto it. Depending on what city you are in I would research what mobile bike companies are the most popular. Ofo and Mobike have bikes literally everywhere. You add money onto your App then scan it on the bike to unlock it, take it then leave it wherever you end up and pick up a new one for your ride home. I loved getting around this way!

Mobike APP download

Ofo APP for Android  

Ofo APP for Iphone

Ofo bike ride, Chengdu, China

Ofo bike ride, Chengdu, China

5. Don't be afraid of the food

Chinese food in China is nothing like what you get in Western countries, it is so much better and so different. Do not be afraid to try new things, including street food. Of course be cautious if you don’t feel it is being heated properly or has been sitting out for some time. I tried all kinds of food from places that did not look so clean and never had any issues. Sometimes there is a lot of oil used that can maybe be upsetting to the stomach and just like anywhere else food poisoning can happen. Don’t let it stop you from trying all the amazing cuisines that China has to offer like Sichuan Hot Pot, Peking Duck, Steamed Buns, Handmade dumplings, Biang Biang Noodles and so much more.

 

6. Personal space is not a thing

When I say have an open mind, having an understanding that personal space is not something that the Chinese really care about, is one of those things. In line someone may stand right up next to you and you can feel their breath down your back or on public transportation you will be pressed up against everyone else with no room to even move. This is normal and not unusual to their everyday life. It may not be some thing you can’t necessarily get used to but having patience and not stressing yourself out is going to make your time more enjoyable.

 

7. Get to know the locals

 There is nothing better than experiencing a country through the eyes of a local. The Chinese are wonderful people and so willing to help. The language difference may be difficult to make new friends but if you come across people who do want to get to know you or show you around, do not turn it down. This is the best way to discover the best places, best food and learn more about the culture firsthand. I have made some of the most wonderful friends that I continue to be in touch with today.

8. You may want a VPN (virtual private network)

 If you are planning to do any work while you are traveling in China or if you want access to your social media accounts, you will want to get a VPN for your laptop and/or phone. There are free Apps that you can download for your phone but they may or may not work. The government blocks certain websites such as Instagram, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp and even Google. If you want to have access to these you need to have a VPN, which is a virtual private network. Basically you choose a location outside of China and it runs your IP address in that location instead so you are able to access those sites. If you want a VPN that is reliable I highly recommend Express VPN, it can be downloaded and used on both your computer & phone for one price. There is a cost but it is worth it if you want something that will for sure work for you and not be too slow. Regardless, be aware that even though China is such a large country and WIFI is widely available, it can be very slow at times even in a large city.

Get Express VPN

Sichuan Hot Pot, Chengdu, China

Sichuan Hot Pot, Chengdu, China

9. Don't just focus on the tourist spots

 There are some absolutely amazing things to see in China such as the Great Wall in Beijing, Terracota Warriers in Xi’an, the many incredible Buddhist Mountains, the karst mountains of Yangshuo & Guilin, and so on. Places such as this are absolutely worth going but I highly recommend also taking time to step outside of the famous sites and go see places not normally seen. This is where you will get a feel of the true China, the best food and really see what daily life can be like. Also, be aware of when you choose to go to any of these hotspots. You may have seen horror pictures, such as the Great Wall, filled to the brim with people. Don’t worry, this is not every day, but it is good to make sure that before you do go to highly visited tourist spots, that it is not a holiday (and there are many). This can drive very large amounts of traffic to those places and you could find yourself very frustrated waiting for hours or in claustrophobic crowds just to get a glimpse. I recommend seeing some of those places but leaving some days to just wander as well, or take a bus to a nearby town you know little about. Do not be afraid to get out and explore but just make sure you are prepared in knowing how to get back.

 

10. Other useful Apps:

Apps can become your best friend to help you get around and get through daily life in China.

 

WeChat: If you are spending a good amount of time in China, I would download this App. They use it for everything, it’s there equivalent of Facebook + Apple Pay and everything else. This will be the best way to stay in contact if you make any friends there and it can also help you communicate with others back home. There were a few times that VPNs did not work at all, but WeChat you can always use. Have people back home that you really want to be sure to be in contact with download it too, before you go that way you can for sure always be in touch. You can also load money on here for the metro/bus, as well as using the bikes. You can also order food delivered right to you.

download WeChat

 

Hello Chinese: This is a great APP to learn Chinese. Start practicing a little bit before you go, the Chinese people will be ecstatic if you know a little bit, even just to say where you’re from or to tell them your name. Simple phrases can make their day. Also, memorize “I don’t understand” (Wo ting bu dong) in Chinese as you will find yourself saying this phrase a lot to help avoid them continuing to talk at you. Learn other little phrases here or take it all the way to become fluent in Mandarin.

download Hello Chinese

 GlobeConvert: This is a currency exchange APP. It will help you to understand the price you are paying in your local currency. Everything you see will be in RMB (also called Yuan). On that note it’s also a good idea to get cash. Some places will accept cards such as visa but if you go to small restaurants or markets they may not.  

download Globe Convert

Ctrip: This is a hotel/transportation booking APP or website and gives you the best prices within china. You can use it to book your stays, train travel and flights. It is easy to use as well. You can use either the App on your phone or go directly to the website http://www.ctrip.com.

download the Ctrip App

Taobao: this is even better than amazon. If you are just there for short term, you may not need this APP. For those going to China on longer trips or moving as an expat this is such a great resource. It is like the Chinese version of Amazon and you can literally get anything you want at such cheap prices. This one I did feel needed some help setting up the delivery by a local friend but if you are there for some time this is a great place to buy things.

 Taobao for Andriod

Taobao for Iphone

Explore Metro: this can help you navigate the local metro system and see what the different stops are. It works in several of the large cities, just double check that the city or cities you are visiting are available through this App first. Go to the below website and see if the city you are going to is on the list.

Get the App

 

Air Quality China: This is important, especially if you have any issues with asthma or other breathing issues. Most likely you can tell by looking outside how bad the smog is but it is good to have a look on the pollution on an App to decide if you should choose to wear a protective mask. It's a good idea to have some good quality ones handy. You and find them everywhere for cheap once you are there if needed.

 Air Quality for Android

Plume Air for iPhone

I truly hope you choose to include this beautiful country in your travels one day if you have not been already. Yes, it is very safe, but not always easy and a bit overwhelming to get around on your own. If you are prepared and give yourself time to learn, then it can become a lot easier.

 

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney

 

The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), Beijing

The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), Beijing

Top Travel Accessories of 2019

The best Travel.png

There are no so many cool gadgets and little things that you can get now to make your life easier while on the road or in the air. I love finding different products to make my travels more comfortable and easier. I am sharing with you a list of things that I love, plus some products that I think look so awesome. These are my top travel accessories for 2019. Happy Travels!

*this contains affiliate links where I may make money if you choose to buy a product, but at no additional cost to you

1. Bag organizers

Organizers for you luggage are so nice to have. They are not real expensive to buy, but they are so nice for making it easy to organize all the different things in your suitcase. This makes it so much easier to find what you need, especially if you are actually living out of the suitcase for awhile like I do. These packing cubes are very light, which is important because you are trying to keep it under weight. They are also really durable, plus this set comes with a bonus of a laundry bag. Check these out below.

2. Essential oils 

I use essential oils regularly, for everything. Packing a bunch of the small bottles can bring down the weight, plus I am also guilty of not closing them all the way and having them leak. The pack of oil blends below are perfect and really the only 4 you really need. I love that they are roll on because, for example the sleep one is works great to rub on your palms on the plane to help you feel more relaxed. Included as well is defense blend to help fight all those added germs we are exposed to. The breathe blend is great for when you are sick or congested and the muscle blend helps to relieve sore muscles. These are much less likely to leave and great as a carryon on flights or just for everyday in your purse.

3. Wireless charger/portable charger

Either a wireless or portable charger can come in handy when traveling. For one it’s always nice to carry less cords with you and sometimes you also need to be able to charge without an outlet. I highly recommend all the eco-friendly products that nimble has to meet any of your charging needs. They use recycled materials to make their products as well as packaging in 100% recycled paper, no plastic. They also recycle one pound of e-waste for every one of their products that is sold. How great is that? Awesome, products, that are also eco-friendly. A win-win.

4. Cleansing Packets

I am obsessed with this, I always have some in all my bags when I travel. The ones below are especially fantastic because they are natural and made with therapeutic essential oils. This is the variety pack so you can use which every oil is good for that moment. Use them to clean off makeup, to wiping down the food tray on an airplane. This are great not only to have for your travels but everyday in your purse or car.

5. Luggage 

Of course, when traveling, you can’t forget luggage. Personally, I prefer the hard case rolling suitcases when I am going for long tavel. They seem to have more room in them and are more durable. It is important to find ones that are of good quality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do this. No matter how nice of a suitcase you have, they will get scuffed up gong through those conveyer belts. Another positive is the lightweight of these and they come in so many colors. I have given options for two good brands below to choose from. One a little bit more reasonable priced, maybe for less frequent travelers. The other may be a better investment for those who travel often and need something that can withstand the conditions of going from airport to airport.

6. Jewelry organizer 

If you have ever packed jewelry, you know it can become such a tangled mess. This organizer helps to prevent that. You could also use this bag to organize a variety of little things other than just jewelry. It rolls up nice and small and weights practically nothing. This is a must for me.

7. Workout bands 

I take these with me when I travel. It is important that I maintain my active lifestyle, even when not at home. Not every place I stay has a gym there or nearby. These bands are so lightweight and there is an endless amount of great exercise you can do with them. If you are not sure what exercises, just do a quick search on Pinterest and there you can have a good quick workout right in your hotel room. These are actually just great to have at home as well. They may seem like not much, but trust me, you can get really sore from the littlest movements using these.

8. Tri-pod for camera/Phone

This is a great thing to have, especially when traveling solo. I believe in living in the moment and stepping away from the phone but there is balance there. I also think its great to document your travels, you can tell a story with photos & videos you take. As a blogger, it is also essential because you don’t always have someone there with you to take photos for you. These Tri-pods are nice and small so it is easy to pack with you. These are both in packages that have all that you need. The first is a bit more affordable but the second has the advantage of having flexible legs on it that give you more options of uses.

9. Fold up duffle bag

I always pack one of these when I go on my travels. They are so great because it is light, and takes up very little space in your suitcase. It is good to have because sometimes you want to buy some things while on the road, right? This creates another bag you can use along with way to help with extra room you may need or if you find your bag is overweight. Sometimes having to pay for an extra bag can save you more money, then having to pay for an overweight bag.

10. SIM card storage

When I travel country to country, I get a SIM card for most every country a go to if I am there over a couple weeks. In many countries it is really inexpensive to buy a small data plan to use while you are there. This is something I find really comforting and helpful as a solo traveler. If I go out exploring I know that I can use my phone to map out where I am, order an Uber or if need be cal for help (though luckily I have not had to use it for that). This comes in handy because those little SIM cards are so small and if you are having to swap them out this is a great way to store them safely, so you don’t lose your original one, plus it has the little PIN to easily change them out.

11. Infinity scarf with pocket

One of my essentials that I take on a flight is a scarf. I love to have one for a few reasons. It can get cold on flights, no matter the temperature outside so it is a nice thing to have for added warmth. Also, sometimes, you end up sitting next to someone that is sick or there is a smell that you don’t like, this is an easy way to cover up your mouth or nose to avoid some of those discomforts. Or if you are sick your self, a polite way to keep from coughing on other people. This scarf gives you another added bonus with a pocket. It can work as storage for anything you may want to have close by such as your passport, chapstick or some headphones. A bonus is it comes is so many colors to choose from!

12. Camera Lens

If you are like me, you use your phone also as your camera as you travel. I have to say my iPhone xs takes some pretty amazing photos. It may not be as fantastic as a nice professional camera, but for me and what I need it works perfectly. This is a pack of 6 camera lens to help take your photos to the next level. Great for added zoom, wide angle and more. A much more cost effective way to get higher quality photos. These are compatible with iPhon, Samsung and other phone brands.

13. Travel adapter

If you are traveling to different countries you need a travel adaptor. It’s best to purchase this before you go, because going through the airport they are much more expensive and sometimes buying them in the country, you don’t find ones that are as high quality. This one is so great because it is small and comes with ports that work for just about all countries around the world. Plus it has several USB ports which can be great for charging multiple things.

14. Travel door alarm

This is another great item for those solo female travelers, but can really be good for anyone that wants that added security. This is easy to use and nice and small for traveling with. It’s a small devise that you hook up to a door and if someone enters while you have it up it will sound an alarm. I have actually heard nightmare stories of people traveling when even hotel staff have tried to come into their room at night. This is an inexpensive and great precaution to have. Really, this can also be great for your home or apartment. If you do not want to pay costly at home alarm systems, this can be a cheaper alternative that can also help give you piece of mind.

15. Waterproof bluetooth speaker

This is something extra to bring along while traveling if you enjoy music. It can be great for when you are on the road or even just when you just want to have a speaker that doesn’t require a plugin. This one is nice and small and light. The bonus on this is that it is waterproof, so you can even use it in the shower or don’t have to worry about it, if you want to take it for your day at the beach.

16. Travel size oil diffuser

I am obsessed with my oil diffuser, so this is a must for me. You can add in some lavender to help you sleep in places that are not your bed, or add in some eucalyptus to help you elevate congestion. It is usb portable so you can take it anywhere you want. It is a great option for the car, hotels or anywhere you choose.

17. Underwater phone case

These are great to have, especially in the summertime or while traveling somewhere tropical. This keeps your phone safe, gives you the ability to take photos underwater and having it around your neck helps you not to lose it.

18. Portable Hammock

Who does not love relaxing in a hammock. A portable hammock can be an awesome thing to have anywhere you go, from the beach, to camping, to your own backyard. It is lightweight and packs up easily to to take with you anywhere.

19. Passport holder

I love having my passport holder that also works as a wallet. I can keep not only my passport but money, cards I need and my fight ticket without having to have my whole walled or purse out. This make it easy to find in your bag and keeps it from getting bent and warn as well. There are many designs to choose from too.

19. Travel Pillow

I actually have this one and I like it so much more than the traditional neck pillows. It takes up less space too and it is super comfortable. It may look a little funny but it is worth it, especially for a long flight. I felt that I got much better sleep with this.

20. MacBook Lightweight laptop

I have an older version of this from a couple years ago but it really was the best purchase I have made. I love my Mac, it is super easy to use but the best part is how light it is. Before this I had a laptop that was so heavy to take in my carry on bags, it was so annoying. This one is the perfect reliable laptop when you are typically on the road. Plus I always get compliments on it. If you are looking for a new laptop I highly recommend it. It is worth the investment! This is the latest version.

These are just 20 of many amazing products that are perfect for travel in 2019. You can check out my amazon store for more travel recommendations as well as all of my favorite amazon products. Happy shopping and safe travels!

SHOP MY AMAZON STORE

Health, Love and Happiness,

Courtney

From North to South, The Incredible India

1. First stop, New Dehli

New Dehli, from the moment we got off the plane the sites were a feast for the eyes and mind. After living in China, I was ecstatic to finally have somewhere that gave me that culture shock feeling again. Firstly, we arrived on the night of Diwali, and what better way to start an adventure in India. We were so lucky to be hosted by a local family who gave us the taste of traditional with fun, the perfect night to remember. Next we met our Airbnb host who became more than that, he was our friend, driver & protector. He thought where we wanted to go was crazy but gave in and joined us. Our time in Dehli was short but we chose to see the raw, real part of the city. We wandered through the craziness of Chowdni Chawk, a mind-blowingly huge market filled with people, all kinds of smells and makings for an indescribable experience. Dehli was overwhelming but beautiful in its chaotic way. 


Gurgaon, Dehli, India

Gurgaon, Dehli, India

Chandni Chowk, Old New Dehli, India

Chandni Chowk, Old New Dehli, India

2. The tourist must, Agra

The thing to see in Agra is of course the great Taj Mahal. We felt it only made sense that a trip to India must include this famous structure. The  trip there and back was a grueling 4 hours there and 4 hours back. We chose to do it in a day due to our limited time and next destinations. I do not regret it. Yes, its typical & touristy and you have seen the photograph a million times, but I think thats also what makes it special. Its a feeling hard to describe when you have seen so many pictures of something, then you finally lay your own eyes on it. Once was enough for me but I am happy to see that I have seen this wonder of the world. If you haven’t, I do think its worth it.


Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

IMG_0953.jpg

3. The underrated Amritsar, Punjab

 Just a little over a year ago I was marveling at the glorious structure in the middle of a sacred pond, known as the Gold Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab, India. The Golden Temple is also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, translated to abode of God. The beauty of this place may have been a beautiful vision for the eyes but what really left me awe was what take place here every single day. I did not know much about the Sikh religion before coming here, but I left with a special appreciation for these giving   non-judgmental humans. Everyday a process called “langer” is given at all Sikh temples, this being the largest. It is a free meal that is given to anyone regardless of race, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. This feeds 40,000 to even 100,00 people a free meal each day. The experience of that was priceless. 


The Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India

Langer at the Golden Temple, Punjab, India

Langer at the Golden Temple, Punjab, India

4. Feel the pride at the Wagah Border

From Amritsar, a short drive away, is the Wagah  border. It is a border that divides India and Pakistan. The Wagah border ceremony is preformed each night a couple hours before sunset. It is a friendly ceremony where hundreds come on both sides to enjoy & show pride in their country while the military puts on an entertaining stomping performance. I loved this experience and I think it is well worth it though the ceremony itself is short. Seeing how far these two countries have come & also feeling the sense of pride was special. 


Wagah border ceremony, Punjab, India

Wagah border ceremony, Punjab, India

IMG_1112.JPG

5. Find Peace & Serenity in Alleppey, Kerala

We were pretty crazy & planned pretty much none of our trip before we got to India. This is what made it so amazing at the same time. The state of Kerala had not previously been on my radar but oh how glad I am that we chose to go there. After the chaos of the North, the smaller southern city of Allepay, Kerala provided us some much needed tranquility. The highlight was renting a houseboat to ourselves (which was ridiculously cheap) to spend the day and night moving through the backwaters. I can’t describe how beautiful, relaxing and incredible this was. We had our own chef that made the best food and even sang karaoke with us into the evening. An unforgettable tropical paradise I cannot wait to go back to. In Alleppey we also experienced an Ayurvedic spa. This was a very unique experience that I loved, it included Shirodhara (a treatment in which oil is poured onto the forehead in slow dripping) and Herbal Bolus Bag therapy (which is a cloth filled with dried herbs and massaged into the body).

the backwaters, Alleppey, Kerala, India

the backwaters, Alleppey, Kerala, India

IMG_1456.jpg

6. Last but not least Bollywood aka Mumbai

By the time we got to Mumbai it was getting to the end of our two week adventure through India. I love Bollywood movies, so being in this city was so exciting. To be honest we did not go do a whole lot but we had a blast. We stayed near the “gateway to India,” wandered the near by market and visited the famous Dhobi Ghat.  Dhabi Ghat is an open air laundry mat that was created in 1890 and cleans thousands of pieces of laundry from hotels & hospitals in Mumbai. We also met some lifelong friends that took us around and gave us a personal tour of their city. 


Dhobi Ghaut, Mumbai, India

Dhobi Ghaut, Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India

I could go on and on about my experience in India, this is just a little taste. The food was incredible, the people so kind, the culture was fascinating, the sites were mesmerizing. It was not an easy trip but it was everything I wanted and more. It is a difficult place to put into words as it creates a feeling that you need to experience to understand. I can’t wait to go back. A few of these places we ended up were places a little underrated in my opinion. It is not easy to see the poverty and conditions that are lived in throughout the country without being able to do much, but the smiling faces & kindness we experienced in each city regardless gave me some reassurance that happiness does not come from what you have but how you feel within. The special thing about India is what it teaches you rather than just what you see. 

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney


street art, Kochi, Kerala, India

street art, Kochi, Kerala, India

New Dehli.png