Seeing London for the first time

For years London had been on the top 3 destinations I have wanted to visit the most. I don’t know why, but I always suspected it would be a place I would love. I also wanted to visit on my own – not for work or while on a press trip, but with my family, which is honestly my preferred way of traveling.

So when my husband had a work trip there, we took advantage of a few extra days after to join him and see some of the best London has to offer.

Maybe it was all the British movies and shows that influenced my expectations of what London would be, but what I immediately found interesting about this great city is how incredibly diverse it is. I found it to be this wonderful melting pot of cultures and religions and ethnicities and styles and lifestyles. I soon discovered that London is a lot more colorful than I expected.

Return to the Finger Lakes Wine Country, NY

One of the places that I have continuously returned to over the years and still manage to find something new is at the Finger Lakes, NY.

It’s about a 5-hour drive from my New Jersey home, but a wonderful escape that feels a world away from my everyday life. My family has gone with me over the years, but I think on this last trip the area really managed to carve a special place in my kids’ heart, so much so that they didn’t want to leave.

What I have come to love about the destination is not just the beautiful outdoor experiences one can have there, but also the community. Whether I am spending time with a farmer working at a local orchard or winery, or with an artist in residence at the Corning Museum of Glass, that sense of pride and community that I feel every time I am there is the thing that makes us feel so welcomed, so at home, and so in love with this place.

We cannot escape this

Travel has always served as a form of escapism. From the stresses of work, from our daily routines, from a life we want to leave behind. It has always been promoted as the thing that one must do to regain their sense of self, their well-being, and mental balance.

Travel has been many of those things for me and remains a great source of reprieve when I need it most.

But as we see our country implode, its ugliest, angriest, and most violence facets come to surface, there is one thing I have learned for sure: we cannot escape this.

There is no room for silence. There’s not time for sideline standing. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to get involved. This is happening. 

How blogging has motivated me to keep my young kids off of social media

Despite the fact that I spend so much time on social media promoting my work, networking, and engaging with my friends, family, and readers, I have not allowed my younger children, now 12 and 10 to use it. I had a temporary lapse of judgment and allowed them to start a YouTube channel where they weren’t showing their faces, but sharing info on toys – because it’s what all the cool kids are doing these days – but I almost immediately regretted and deleted it.

I never allowed my boys to jump on the Pokemon Go! bandwagon, and they do not have Facebook, or Instagram, or Snap, or any of it. The most they can do is play video games and we have to approve (and personally know) anyone they connect with online with for joint gaming. They do love to watch YouTube gaming videos, which means hours of setting up filters, and guards, and passwords, and online time limiting software to keep them away from the garbage often found there.

You would think that as a blogger who has experienced success online that I would be onboard with my kids picking up the tricks of the trade as soon and as much as possible, but after almost a decade exclusively working online, I would prefer they find success in other ways. If my kids never blogged outside of an official, paying job, I wouldn’t mind it at all.

Fun-filled summer vacation at Massey’s Landing in Delaware

There is no denying that I am a huge fan of road trips. I wasn’t always and it took our wanting to travel on a limited budget and 3 kids in tow to really get us to consider it as a preferred method of travel for our family. Since our first major trip in 2009 from NYC to Montana, we have been going on road trips every chance we get, whether here in the states or overseas. (Our next big road trip adventure will be through Ireland this fall).

As our family gets older, we have also been seriously considering more road trips in RVs. Now, I’ve RV’d a few times and it takes some getting used to, but I’m learning that if you have the two most important factors in place, which is an RV that works best for your family and travel style, as well as good company (because, let’s face it, sharing small enclosed quarters with anyone other than those whom you truly enjoy spending time with can be torture), it can be an absolutely wonderful experience.

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.