For as far as it has come, travel media needs to do better

Over the past few years, I have spoken out on the lack of diversity in travel media. In the process, my social media space has been further enriched with an array of travelers from all parts of the world, of various shades of brown, of all sizes, and in different stages of their lives. There are endless hashtags that showcase the work and travels of a more diverse people than what is still often displayed in media and I have found inspiration and empowerment in these communities.

I have continued to enjoy the opportunities to speak publicly on these issues, most recently with a beautiful group of travelers brought together by the On She Goes team, who see the need to give space to our community of color and a platform for the conversations that affect us so personally.

In the almost 10 years since I have been exclusively working as a travel blogger and freelance writer in the travel media space, I have seen more content creators of color find their voice, be celebrated in the space, and even gain access to opportunities that have been exclusively, for so long, white.

Lessons learned in my first year of homeschooling

This week marks one year since I took my kids out of school just a few days shy of their official end-of-year date. We headed off on a volunteerism trip  to the Dominican Republic, which was work for me, but also served as a kick-off to their homeschooling journey and experience in volunteering abroad.

I honestly can’t believe that a year has already gone by, or how I feel about it all now.

Coney Island, a beloved part of New York history

There are certain things about Brooklyn that still make me smile: a pizza slice from Johnny’s on 5th avenue in Sunset Park, the Manhattan skyline from Sunset Park, riding the F train to the highest subway point in the city (Smith and 9th Sts.), the mist from an open fire hydrant on a hot summer day (fire hydrants can be opened legally by requesting the local Fire Department to provide a spray cap, which they install, on the hydrant you want).

And although much of what I love about Brooklyn has vanished to give way to the trendy, hip, and new, there are still pockets that embrace the history and the endless memories of those of us who were born here and spent so much of our childhood here.

Family vacation, unplugged in Woodstock, VT

My friends, it’s time to unplug and go on a vacation.

These feel like insane times. Turn on the news, read the paper, go online, and it feels like you just can’t escape it. At home, kids seem addicted to video games, YouTube videos, and if they are on social media, even worse (I have managed to keep my younger ones off it so far – though YouTube is a problem). Information overload, or Cognitive Overload as referred to by health experts, can lead to depression, indecisiveness, and stress, and Smartphone addiction is a real thing which can lead to sleep deprivation, mood swings, and even a lack of focus.

Travel choices: When ethics, community solidarity, and ambition for personal growth collide

But first, let me tell you how spreading ignorance, fear, and misinformation of a place has influenced me personally.

When my husband and I decided to get married, we decided to do so in the Dominican Republic. It is not only a beachy, sunny, beautiful destination, it is also where half my family is from. Because my father owns vacation rentals there, we were able to secure a few beach apartments free of charge for my husband’s family all of which were traveling from Wisconsin and had never been to the island. We were all going to be close to each other and they would never have to navigate the area alone as I would always be around to translate.

We gave everyone a year’s notice to plan their trip and settle their budgets. Almost all of them were excited to come.

Except for one of my husband’s closest relatives. They were unsure about the safety of traveling to a “Third World Country”, a descriptor that no longer applies to the small island, whose technology is the same as that of the U.S. and which leads in comparison to most Latin American countries.

Making the case for the “newbie” blogger

When I started blogging, in 2008, I inadvertently joined a world that I was completely unaware of and unprepared for. What started as a way to talk about my life in NYC with my then toddlers and tween, while also sharing what there was to do here when you visit – specifically targeting my family out-of-state – turned into a step into a digital world I never even knew existed.

I confess, I hadn’t really read a blog. I didn’t know the key players, I didn’t understand this ever-changing landscape, and I wasn’t really sure what to do. All I had in my pocket were the years of working in public relations, an industry which itself hadn’t really caught up with blogging either, and a lot of sudden noise online.

Romantic weekend getaway to the Hamptons, off-season

While sitting here planning and booking our summer escapes, the kids summer camps and activities, and seeking out all the potential available during the summer months, it’s easy to ignore that 1) I am in desperate need of a vacation and 2) there are some really great options now.

For example, the Hamptons is a fabulous escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The warm beaches, the bars and eateries, the activities hosted all throughout this seaside community and its neighboring towns. Things tend to pick up mid-June and continue on well into September.

However, if what you are needing is something more of a quieter escape without the traffic or the crowds, the area delivers that and more during the off-season as well. It’s true that most businesses are seasonal and not open during these months, but that isn’t to say you will have nothing to do.

Finding the best of Jerusalem

I arrived to Jerusalem with eyes wide open with excitement for my first visit to a country I had only heard so much about.

The city itself is very segregated, divided up into 4 quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian) and I was curious about how this influenced the feel of the city. Would it be unpleasant at times? Would it feel dangerous navigating any one area as a foreigner?

I only had 4 days to spend in Jerusalem, so I made sure leave sleep for when I got home and focus on seeing and learning as much as I could in my short time there. Here are some of the best ways I was able to do that:

The awakening that is Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine

I woke up looking forward to my venture into Bethlehem. I had been in Jerusalem for 3 days now and after several walking tours and meetings with state officials, I was looking forward to experiencing something more.

Before visiting Jerusalem, I was very much like the average American traveler and their first time in Israel. I knew about its significance religiously and I knew a lot of the struggles politically. I also knew whatever was already shared online; that it was beautiful and exciting and a wonderful place to visit.

What I didn’t know much about was what laid on the other side, in the West Bank. In fact, what I did know was shaped by American discourse and that narrative told me that this was a place of danger. Terrorism stemmed heavily from these parts, as did the terrorists themselves. In talking to anyone at home about my visit to the West Bank their first question was, “Is it safe?”

Road Tripping in Los Angeles

Driving through Los Angeles means getting stuck in traffic. Unless you plan on staying put in one neighborhood (and why would you?) you might as well prepare yourself for the inevitable.

With every trip I have gotten better at being more patient with what is a true LA experience and reaching out to locals who are great at letting me know about travel times to avoid and expressway to skip all together. But if you do get stuck in traffic, the best thing to do is take a deep breath, find a fun tune, and enjoy the ride.