Currently NOT Traveling (And Being Okay With It!)

Welcome back everyone! I’m definitely getting off to a late start this morning, after a nice holiday weekend I’m now catching up on lots of school work for the week – but it’s crazy to think the semester is over in just a few weeks. Switching to online classes halfway through has definitely shortened the semester a bit!

Speaking of online classes, I wanted to take this week’s post to just share my thoughts on everything going on right now, as I haven’t completely touched on it yet. It’s definitely been a roller coaster of emotions, but I now feel that I’m at a point where I’m settled enough – both physically and mentally – to talk openly about the situation, and hopefully bring some positivity to whatever the future holds.

I understand that all people are talking about nowadays is what’s happening next with the coronavirus, and when will the quarantine end, and how many positive test results have come back each day, and how little protective equipment there is available – and these are all very valid concerns. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that stressing about the logistics which we cannot control is not going to help me in any way, and reading the news (that’s usually the same every day now) is only going to bring me more fear and anxiety. Of course, some people do need to pay attention to the news, especially those who still need to go into work every day; however, for the most part, I urge you all to take a step back and focus on some more positive content while we have the time. So, I’m here this week to help promote that positivity.

Obviously this did not all start on a positive note, though. Looking back to about a month ago, I received an email explaining that my courses would be online for the remainder of the semester, and I was expected to move out of my apartment within the next four days. To say I was confused, sad, angry, or frustrated does not even begin to explain what was going through my mind. After my fall semester abroad, I had just returned to the home I know and love, and was expected to leave after just a month and a half? My junior year at Boston College was way too short.

The next couple of weeks were filled with chaos, stress, and feeling way too frustrated about what the rest of the semester was looking like. I’m sure everyone remembers their own experiences as life began to change drastically throughout the last month. However, like I said, I want to focus on the future. After spending the last month moving and settling in my home, and now the last couple of weeks getting into a somewhat regular schedule, I’ve grown more comfortable with the current situation, and I’m gaining a more optimistic outlook on what’s to come.

Of course this is not ideal for anyone, and we will be in recovery for months and months to come, but that doesn’t mean this is going to last forever. I think the only way to get through this right now, at least for me, is to look at the bright side of what’s going to come in the aftermath. I don’t mean to diminish the horrendous level of deaths and illnesses occurring – this is not a good thing. But we can find some good in it, at least enough to get through it.

I think everyone has realized how much they took for granted, whether that be nature, seeing family and friends, going to school, going out to eat, and simply being able to give someone a high-five. I’m optimistic that, at least for a little while, people will embrace one another and take advantage of everything this world has to offer, once we’re able to get back to a “normal” lifestyle. Especially being in college right now, I can pretty much guarantee that my final year of school will be unlike any other – not only being able to live with roommates again and eat meals with friends, but actually being able to walk into a classroom and discuss material in person – something so many of us complain about on a daily basis! The next few years are going to be some of the most wholesome, uplifting times of our lives.

Looking more closely into the future, this has given us all the time we’ve been asking for for so long. Every one of us has at least one goal we’ve been meaning to accomplish, but can never find the time to do so. Well, here it is! Even if you don’t have the motivation to get anything done and this has been too overwhelming, you also have the time to accept that and just relax – you are not missing out on anything. I think the world was at a point where we all needed to just slow down and take a breath, and of course a pandemic wasn’t the only way to go about that, but it sure has showed us what life is like when we do slow down!

This lifestyle definitely took some adjusting, but I’m now becoming more and more at peace with how simple everything can be right now. I have more than enough time to take care of myself – physically and mentally. I’m about to graduate next year and move on with my life, and now I’ve been given an extra few months to spend at home with my family before taking that step. I’ve been able to devote more time to both schoolwork and personal projects, so by the time this is all over, I’ll be in a strong position to move forward with my goals. And I’ve learned who is really there for me, and which relationships in my life I value – I’m starting to talk to my friends even more now that we can’t actually see each other, and this is a lesson I want to carry with me once we are able to rejoin.

Beyond just myself, I’ve noticed a major shift in the health of the environment with the massive reduction in air pollution, which gives me hope that society will start to protect this earth a little better, since right now it’s really all we have. I’ve also seen a huge boost in humanity, with people coming together (from the safety of their own homes) to help those either sick themselves, or those helping the sick. People are outside every day, enjoying the nature we do still have, the one constant factor in our lives right now, waving to each other from across the street and making the most of any small interactions we can get throughout the day.

So, although I’ve been rambling and touched on both the hard parts and the good parts of this situation, I hope you can all agree with me that there is some good that will come out of this, whether that’s right now or a year in the future. I can’t reasonably make it through the next few days, weeks, or months, if all I do is think about how hard this is and how much I’m missing. Because in reality, I’m not missing out on anything – everyone is on hold right now. And all we can do is obey that.

In the past, I’ve always grown anxious without having an upcoming trip planned, or a flight booked for the future. Staying in one place was my worst nightmare. I’ve taken this whole situation to be a lesson for myself that staying put sometimes is okay – and I need to learn to enjoy it. I’m now coming to a place where I’m truly comfortable being at home, and I’m even looking forward to this extra time and space I have to work on myself.

I hope you can all do the same, and once again, I hope you are all staying safe at home 🙂

xx,

Megan


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Staying Active at Home

Good morning and happy Monday!

Writing these posts each week makes me aware of how much time is going by, and it’s crazy to me that this is already my third post from quarantine. I’ve had to get creative with some ideas, but the timing worked out – right when I wanted to take a turn with my content away from travel for a bit, the world gave me a sign to do that 🙂

As most (or all) of us are pretty much at home, inside for most of our days, I wanted to share some things I’ve been doing to stay busy and keep some normalcy in my routine. Until the past few days, I really haven’t felt like I’ve had an excessive amount of free time, which I expected to feel immediately after coming home. Although a lot of my time is still being taken up by schoolwork, I’ve found some other ways to stay active in the free time that I do have, which has really helped me to stay levelheaded throughout this whole situation.

First, since I mentioned that most of my time is spent at my desk on the computer doing schoolwork, as soon as I’m done for the day I find myself with lots of energy and a drive to be physically active. One simple thing I’ve made a point to work into my daily routine are long walks and runs. Now that it’s getting warmer out, these are getting easier and more enjoyable as well. For at least an hour every day, I’ll either walk or run around my town/neighborhood, or through local parks and woods. I usually switch off with walking and running every other day so I don’t get too tired of one or the other, but especially during this time, I’ve found it so much easier to clear my head and actually enjoy the exercise, since it’s the one time of day I can set aside to safely be outside of the house. I’ll use the Nike Run Club app to track these runs, which is nice to see how much I’m moving in my free time, since otherwise I’m not getting around too much!

Continuing on the exercise path, I’ve really increased the at-home workouts I’ve been doing (as most of us probably have!) I’ve always been into at-home workouts, so this is not a new concept for me, but I’ve also always had access to a gym or a space where I can do these workouts, and where I can add whatever equipment I like. Now that I only have what’s in my house, I’ve had to really set aside a time and space to get these workouts in – but it’s working! All I use at home are a yoga mat, dumbbells, and ankle weights – pretty much all of which can be substituted by household objects if you don’t have the equipment!

I’ve been doing some at-home classes straight from YouTube just by searching a 45 minute or 1 hour HIIT workout class, or a full body exercise (whatever you’re feeling, I’m sure they’ll have it!) I did a one-hour kickboxing class last week that was so different from my normal workouts, so I was definitely sore after! I’ve also been using the Nike Training Club app, as right now all regular and premium workout videos are free! There are so many workouts put together on this app, varying from length to intensity to muscle groups, so you can definitely put together as short or as along of a workout as you like. I’ve been FaceTiming some friends at home so we can do these workouts together, and it’s been such a nice way to catch up while also making sure we’re both getting in some activity for the day!

Now that life has slowed down in all aspects, I’ve finally found the time to really get into yoga – something I always felt was too slow for me before. I’ve tried a number of different yoga classes, and while I love it when I’m in the middle of it, it’s not something I can usually justify taking the time out of my day to do. Not only would I prefer to take a spin class or a bootcamp class to get the most out of a 45 minute workout, but yoga puts me in a much more relaxed mindset – something I previously couldn’t afford to do in the middle of a school day. Now that I have extra time in the mornings, at night, and between classes (without anywhere to be), it’s been much easier to incorporate shorter yoga classes or segments into my day. I also get some of these from the Nike Training Club app, and others from YouTube.

Again, now that the weather is finally starting to look a bit brighter, being outside has been so much more enjoyable (and even when it’s cooler out, I can appreciate the fresh air so much more.) So, just spending time in my yard, playing pick up sports, going for short hikes/walks in the woods behind my house, and really just taking the time to think and appreciate nature right now, has significantly boosted my mood and kept me calm during this time. I’m normally an extremely busy, active, and organized person, so not having a schedule or places to be has been hard. However, scheduling my day like I normally would – with my classes, workouts, and phone calls all in my calendar – has given me more structure and allowed me to take advantage of the free time I find myself having more and more each day.

These are just a few suggestions of ways you can stay moving and keep it fun while we’re limited right now – this is obviously not an extensive list, but this is what I’ve been doing, and what’s been working for me. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please let us know in the comments!

Once again, I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe, and please continue these distancing practices to keep others safe as well! Have a great week, and I’ll see you all next Monday 🙂

xx,

Megan


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How I Became a Spin Instructor

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and somewhat busy during these difficult times. I’m finally catching up on schoolwork and housework, and getting back into a relatively normal routine, so hopefully I can keep this up!

This week I wanted to go in yet another direction, avoiding talk of travel for now and touching on another fitness aspect of my life – my job. Over the past year and a half, I’ve trained to become a spin instructor, gotten my certification, and begun teaching classes. Unfortunately I am unable to teach at the moment due to lots of gyms and studios closing, and this is not a format which can easily be transferred to online classes, so for now I’m just hanging tight and prepping for future classes, whenever those might be.

This is definitely not the most traditional career path, but it’s something I’ve developed a strong passion for and hope to continue for as long as I’m able. I get a lot of questions about what the job entails, what it’s like being an instructor rather than a participant, and how others can get involved – so I want to address these here for those interested, and also share some things I’ve learned which I didn’t know before teaching myself.

Why I Started Instructing

I had only been to a handful of indoor cycling classes before starting college, most of which were mandatory team workouts for my swim team. So, this was never something I sought out on my own, or something I thought much of other than a workout moms did in their free time. When I got to college, I found that my school’s fitness center offered a number of group fitness classes for students for free, ranging from yoga to barre to kickboxing to, you guessed it, spin. I still wasn’t comfortable taking a class on my own, so I signed up myself a long with a few friends to try out a spin class one night. This was the best decision I ever made.

After that first class, I completely fell in love with spinning to the point where I would take 4-5 classes each week just for fun. Not only was it a great workout, but the atmosphere of a dark room with loud music filled with 29 other students doing the same workout as me, made the 45 minutes go by without even feeling like a workout – it was honestly just fun to be there. What really kept me going back, though, were the instructors. I found a couple whose classes I couldn’t stay away from, to the point where I would only go to their classes, but I would go to all of their classes, each week (and instructors typically teach 3-4 times/week).

By the time I was a sophomore, I found myself still regularly attending spin classes, but also doing 45 minute cycling workouts on my own. I would line up 10-15 songs, hop on a bike, and go through the motions of a regular spin class in my head, thinking through the cues I would be given if I were being instructed. It soon occurred to me that I liked a certain style of cycling and instructing – to the point where I was instructing myself – and I was already going to classes nearly every day, so why shouldn’t I teach them? This is where my journey to becoming an instructor began.

The Process

Becoming a group fitness instructor of any format is not easy. Becoming a spin instructor was even more difficult, I would argue, because there’s really no way to practice or train with proper equipment without access to a bike or a studio. Fortunately, Boston College has a group fitness prep course, along with a mentor program, which I was able to take during my sophomore spring semester. This course taught me how to actually teach a room of 30+ diverse participants, how to write not only a workout but a playlist to go with it, and how to assess any potential medical concerns and instruct accordingly.

This prep course had both a classroom and an in-class portion, as I mentioned with the mentor program. I chose my mentor because she was really the only instructor whose classes I was taking at that point, simply because I loved the structure of her workouts and the energy she brought every day. For about 10 weeks, I shadowed and eventually helped teach her class once a week. By the end of the semester, I was ready for my final audition, which consisted of me writing and teaching an entire class on my own, and being evaluated by BC’s group fitness coordinators (and I passed!).

Alongside BC’s prep course, I also had to be certified from an outside company. I took an online certification course from Spinning™ throughout the spring semester, so by the time I auditioned and was hired by Boston College, I was also a certified instructor. As you can see, this was not a quick or easy process, but I learned so much valuable information that I never thought would be necessary to lead a group fitness class, yet I’ve found crucial not only in my classes but in my personal life today.

How I Teach My Classes

Before BC suspended it’s group fitness classes due to the current situation, I was teaching three scheduled classes each week, and subbing here and there for other instructors when I could (so usually ~4 classes/week). There’s a lot that goes into each class, including the workout sequence, the choreography of each set, the playlist, and the cues. I make a new sequence and playlist for each class I teach (unless I’m teaching multiple in one day), since I usually see the same set of participants, and as a rider I appreciate a variety in instruction and music.

I can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to two or three days working on a playlist, depending on how quickly I need it done and how motivated I get for the class. I love looking for new music and building playlists to hype up my mood, so my Spotify spin collection has gotten very lengthy over the months.

As far as my actual classes go, there’s nothing I hate more than riding to a different beat than the music. I find it so much easier to keep pace when your speed matches the music, even at faster speeds – so, 95% of my class is on-beat. This makes building a playlist slightly more difficult, but it’s always worth it. I tend to stick to the same general outline of climbs, sprints, jumps, etc., but I’ll play around with the order and occasionally try out new sets. I teach my classes in the format I like to take classes, so I enjoy doing this multiple times each week and I attract participants with similar riding styles.


All in all, I love my job as a spin instructor and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start back up again in the (somewhat) near future. I’m definitely going a bit crazy not being able to ride at home, but I know this break will only energize me more once I come back!

This week’s post was definitely on the longer side, but I figured with all of our new free time that more content is always better, and there’s a lot about group fitness instruction that people don’t know! I could talk about this job for hours, so if people have any questions or want another post like this, please let me know and I would be happy to share more. For now, I’m going to keep working on my playlists and find some exciting new music so we come back strong 🙂

As always, I hope everyone is staying inside and staying safe, and I look forward to sharing more health, fitness, and hopefully travel content soon. Have a great week, and I’ll see you all next Monday!

xx,

Megan

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What I Eat at Home: Meal and Snack Ideas While Stuck at Home

Good morning!

I’m finally starting to get settled at home after moving back from college, and I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy as well. Now that I’m getting into a more normal routine, I want to start putting out content that will actually be useful during this time. Obviously I won’t be traveling in the coming months so it will be harder (and not as relevant) to post travel content right now. So, this is the perfect time for me to start introducing some other ideas I want to talk about!

Now more than ever I’m looking for new meal and snack ideas, since I’m pretty much preparing everything for myself at this point. I normally cook for myself anyways, but not being able to eat out or order food to-go as easily is putting more pressure on me to get creative so I don’t get sick of eating the same things every day (which I tend to do). I love a routine with my meals, but changing things up a bit is definitely necessary right now since I’ll be eating at home for a long time.

I’m sure lots of you are facing the same struggle, so I just wanted to share some of my go-to’s and some things I’ve been trying out lately to give you a couple new ideas! Most of these are things I’ve been making in my apartment at school, so they’re definitely not gourmet home cooked meals, but for the most part they’re relatively quick to make, and easy to take on-the-go!

Breakfast

I typically eat the same thing every day for breakfast, because I love starting my morning off with a routine, and then the rest of the day I can see how I feel. The first thing I make in the morning is hot lemon water, which helps warm up my body and wake me up a bit before I eat anything. I have pretty bad allergies, so this always tends to clear out my head and soothe my throat when I wake up. Either with my lemon water or shortly after, I’ll have some kind of fruit. I either make a big bowl with berries, banana, coconut flakes, cinnamon, and occasionally yogurt, or I’ll make a green smoothie (spinach, frozen banana, frozen pineapple, almond butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds, collagen powder, and coconut milk). I never know what I’ll be eating the rest of the day, so I like to get my fruit in right away.

After my fruit, I’ll start getting ready for the day, and this is usually when I work out as well (except when I have class). Once I’m set for the day, and usually by now I am hungry again, I’ll make my second breakfast, which is always avocado toast. I crave this every morning and never get sick of it, so it’s definitely a staple in my routine. I make my toast on Food For Life rice bread (double toasted), then top it with mashed avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes – so good! I’ll also typically have an iced coffee with my toast, otherwise I’ll get one later in the day.

Lunch

I normally don’t make a huge lunch, but rather bring a few larger snacks with me to get me through the day. I like to eat more smaller meals instead of three big meals – I find this keeps me energized longer and I don’t feel as full/uncomfortable after a big meal. Here are a few of my go-to lunch snacks (I usually have about two of these throughout the day between breakfast and dinner):

  • Banana-chocolate chip overnight oats: Fill half of a mason jar with rolled oats, then add chocolate chips, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, cardamon, and almond milk (just covering the oats). Refrigerate 3-4 hours, then add sliced banana (and sometimes peanut butter if I’m really hungry) on top!
  • Yogurt and granola: Very simple, but always good and easy on the go. I like coconut milk yogurts, either Chobani or So Delicious, and sometimes LAVA plant-based yogurt. My favorite granola is the Purely Elizabeth Original flavor. If I have the time, I’ll also add some berries, cinnamon, and coconut flakes.
  • Roasted brussels sprout salad: This year I discovered how much I love roasted brussels sprouts, so I always make a huge batch in the beginning of the week and save them to snack on throughout. My favorite salad to pack for lunch includes: spring mix, roasted brussels sprouts, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, a lemon dressing, and topped with either falafel, a veggie burger, or salmon if I have more time.
  • Apple and peanut butter: This is definitely a more simple and smaller snack, but always a go-to. I will slice up a gala apple, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and dip it in organic peanut butter!

Dinner

My dinners in college tend to be quick, easy meals that I get in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. That being said, I’ve found some favorites, and these are becoming even more handy now that I’m living at home and want to limit my trips to the grocery store (so less fresh produce, more frozen meals!). My favorites include:

  • Cauliflower and kale gnocchi
  • Cauliflower rice stir fry
  • Broccoli-cauliflower patties
  • Southwestern and masala veggie burgers
  • Cauliflower pancakes (dip in coconut aminos!)
  • Any frozen veggie mix – so easy to add to rice!

If I’m making a larger meal, these are some of my go-to options:

  • Green lentil pasta with pesto and roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts
  • Green lentil pasta with an olive oil and garlic sauce, mixed with sautéed spinach and heirloom tomatoes
  • Coconut rice with beans, topped with stir-fry peppers and onions, and either avocado or guacamole
  • Veggie tacos with (sometimes rice), beans, stir-fry veggies, and guacamole
  • Sometimes all I want is a huge plate of roasted veggies! I normally add broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and zucchini.

There are obviously a lot more recipe ideas which I can discuss further if you enjoyed this post, I just wanted to start by sharing the snacks and meals I’ve been eating most lately (especially now while in isolation!). I hope this helps give you some inspiration, and I’d love to hear some ideas from you as well. Let me know if you have any feedback or want to hear more, and I hope that this new type of content is interesting for you!

Again, please stay safe and healthy during this time, and I’ll do my best to deliver relevant (but not overwhelming) content for you all. Thank you and I’ll see you next week!

xx,

Megan


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My Top 50 Photos of 2019

Welcome back!

This past week has definitely been crazy, as I’m sure it has been for all of you as well, so I’m doing my best to adjust and move forward in whatever ways I can. That being said, lots of things have changed, including future travel plans being cancelled and having to move out of my apartment at college, so my blog updates will definitely be a bit out of order in the coming months.

While I try get things back into order, I thought I would finally go back and look through everything I did (and photographed!) in 2019. As the year was ending and 2020 was coming to a start, I had a feeling that 2019 was too good for 2020 to be the same (or better). So far, I think most of us can agree that 2020 has been testing us. So, to lighten the mood a bit and reflect on some things to be happy about, I’ve compiled what I find to be my best and favorite photos of 2019. I’ve chosen some for the actual quality and beauty of the photo, and others for the memories and feelings attached with the moment. Please enjoy reflecting on these with me, and hopefully I’ll be able to look back just as fondly in the next year 🙂

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed looking back at this past year with me and my favorite moments! A lot of these photos I’ve already posted in different travel blogs from while I was studying abroad, but this was such a huge part of my 2019, so I had to include them again here.

I hope everyone is doing well and holding out through this difficult time, and I’m looking forward to a brighter road ahead once we get past this stressful situation. I will continue to post content, I’m just not sure exactly what that schedule will look like now that everything has been thrown off. Thank you for being patient, and I will see you all at some point next week!

xx,

Megan


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Spring Break in Florida!

Good afternoon and happy Monday 🙂

I’m finally home and back in the swing of things after my very long and much needed spring break! I flew in from West Palm last night, and I’m back at work bright and early this Morning getting things going. I had an amazing couple of trips over my break, between visiting family in Maine and spending lots of time in the Florida sun, so it’s only fair I get into all the good stuff with a new travel blog.

I’ve definitely missed writing about new travels since I returned from studying abroad, so I’m super excited to finally have some new content. In my post last Monday, I mentioned that I’d been spending some time somewhere warm. I flew into Florida on Monday and spent the week through Friday in Deerfield Beach. First of all, the weather throughout the week was beautiful, so it was the perfect week to just lie on the beach, read, and relax. While in Deerfield Beach I was alone, which I was a bit nervous about at first because while I loved my solo trip to Eastern Europe, by the end of it I was going crazy – but this week ended up to be the perfect amount of alone time! After the first day or two I got used to the fact that I was alone and actually really started to enjoy the quiet relaxation. I was able to cook for myself throughout the week which was great, and I caught up on so much work, rest, and TV shows!

I was about a mile and a half from the beach, which was perfect for my morning runs. I pretty much followed the same schedule every day, running to and from the beach before it got too hot, making myself breakfast and getting ready for the day, then heading back to the beach until late afternoon, when I’d head back and make a late lunch/early dinner and just hang out for the night. I definitely needed a low-key week to recharge after my busy week of exams before break, and I’m actually really glad I had this time to myself to do so.

By Friday, though, I was ready for some human interaction and a change of scenery, so this was the perfect time for my brother to join me. I headed back up to West Palm for the rest of the weekend where I ended up having to book an Airbnb last minute after I found out our hotel had a 21+ check in policy, but this actually turned out to be really nice. We had a great bedroom/bathroom set up with access to the backyard pool, grill, and fireplace, so I’m glad we ended up getting the privacy and comfort of a home rather than a hotel. 

While I waited for my brother’s flight to get in I hung out by the pool, caught up on some homework, and took in the last of the sun I’d see for the week. He eventually got in around dinner time, so we quickly got ready and headed to dinner at ER Bradley’s Saloon, right by the harbor side of the water. After making myself vegetables for almost every dinner so far that week, it was amazing to have someone cook for me, and I finally got to have my fish tacos that I’d been waiting for. The food here was SO delicious, especially the bourbon-soaked banana bread I had for dessert.

Saturday was Kyle’s only full day in Palm Beach with me, and my last day overall, so we got an early start and hit the beach before it was even 9AM. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so great (much cloudier and windier, and therefore colder :(), so we didn’t last very long, but we’re definitely beach people so we had to at least spend some time there. By 11 we’d had enough of the sand blowing everywhere, so we walked back over the bridge to the mainland and got brunch at a restaurant right next to where we ate dinner the night before – Avocado Grill. Once again, I got fish tacos – a vacation must! Afterwards we found a huge farmers’ market just a block over, so we walked around here a bit before finally heading back to the beach one more time. We spent some of the afternoon here, and then eventually had to accept that the weather wasn’t great and head back to our Airbnb.

Kyle spent the afternoon in the pool while I (again) got some more work done, then we ended off our vacation with one of the best meals I’ve had to date. We decided to splurge for our last dinner, so we made a reservation at the Breakers Palm Beach Resort’s Italian Restaurant. We got to the resort early enough so we had some time to walk around and take pictures, and the whole environment was so amazing, I’d definitely love to go back. This whole area was right on the ocean side, so despite the wind and clouds, the views were amazing. Once we actually sat down to eat, the food was amazing as well. Everything from the complementary rolls to our bruschetta appetizer, to my shaved cauliflower salad and Kyle’s meat lasagna, all the way to his cheesecake and my s’mores pie dessert, was beyond delicious. This was the perfect way to end off our vacation!

Kyle had a very early flight home Sunday morning, and I left later in the afternoon, but now we’re both back in Boston and I’m very glad to be settled and back into my routine. This past week was so amazing and I loved every minute of my trip, but as much as I love traveling, I love coming home and getting my life back together just as much.

I’m so excited for the rest of the spring and summer, as I do have a few more trips in the works, as well as the new direction in which I’m hoping to expand my blog. Thank you all for following along, and please subscribe below to continue receiving content! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, and I’ll see you all next week 🙂

xx,

Megan


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Current Favorites & Travel Essentials

As promised, I’m back now with LOTS of new content now that I finally have some time to focus on my blog! As I transition into more lifestyle-centered posts in addition to my travel theme, I’m going to start off with a little bit of both in this post. I’ll be getting into my current favorites – everything I’m loving right now, from health products to books to social media – while also including some of my travel essentials – things I couldn’t live without on my trip this week!

First, I want to talk about what I’m reading right now. This is both a favorite and a travel essential – this is The Girls book series by Rachel Hollis. There are 3 books in this collection: Party Girl, Sweet Girl, and Smart Girl. I just finished Party Girl and am now starting Sweet Girl. I’m hoping to finish all three while on vacation this week, as they really are the perfect vacation books. I’ve already read Hollis’ other books, Girl, Stop Apologizing and Girl, Wash Your Face, which I highly recommend as well. These are all the kinds of books you can mindlessly read while relaxing (in my case on the beach!) and still get a lighthearted, feel good story.

Moving on from reading, I’ve also been catching up on my TV shows this week, and aside from my regulars like Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, and The Bachelor, I’ve started a couple of other new series as well. On my flight here, I started getting into Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, a three-part Netflix documentary series. I’d always been interested in this case and finally had the time to get into the documentary, and there is so much more going on than I thought – definitely a good series to get into, but one that you need to pay attention to while watching. Another show I picked up this week that I can’t stop watching is Netflix’s original reality show, The Circle. This is another one I’ve been wanting to watch for a while and I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I’m so glad I finally started watching! This one is definitely more laid back and I don’t have to pay too close attention, but it’s still such an interesting concept for a show and I’m getting more and more into it each episode.

One more TV favorite is another Netflix documentary – Miss Americana. This is Taylor Swift’s documentary which I just recently watched, and I would hands down recommend this to anyone, even if you aren’t a fan. I’ve always been a pretty big Taylor Swift fan, but even watching this documentary completely changed my perspective on her success and the changes she’s made throughout her career. Once again, there’s so much more to her story than we see on the outside, so I definitely think documentary is worth a watch.

Moving on, a few things I couldn’t travel without (besides these books and shows) include:

  • My 40 oz. (extra large!) HydroFlask – I drink SO much water, so having this on a long flight was necessary. It’s also been great to have with me throughout the week so I don’t have to use plastic, and have enough water to get me through a long beach day.
  • I’ve never been one to care too much about germs (except for your normal hand washing/sanitary norms), but this week I am not taking ANY chances in an airport, so I stocked up on Clorox wipes and Purell, which definitely made me feel better on my flight down.
  • In general, I always end up feeling kind of gross after flying, so keeping a pack of facial wipes with me (any simple cleansing wipes – I like micellar water wipes!) helps A LOT after landing!
  • Having enough good content downloaded for any flight is a necessity. I know I mentioned all of these new shows and movies I’ve been watching, but I also love listening to Podcasts when I get sick of music. For this flight I downloaded an episode of Gals on the Go Podcast and The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast – my two favorites!
  • Gum and snacks are always a must for me on planes, no matter how short the flight. On this trip, I brought a banana from home since it was early in the morning and I wasn’t too hungry yet, but usually I’ll buy a sandwich or some trail mix, and an iced coffee on shorter flights.

For now, that’s all I’m going to get into, but I’ll definitely be back soon with an update on my spring break trip (so far, doing great)! I’m very excited to expand more on my writing and get into more things I’m passionate about, so I hope you’re all on board 🙂 

Let me know if there’s anything specific you want to hear from me, and subscribe below to stay updated when I post new content! Have a great rest of your week, and I’ll see you soon.

xx,

Megan


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Spring Break Travel Update

Hi everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted – this past week has been crazy with exams and assignments, but I’m finally on spring break and have some time to catch up! I’m writing this from the airport right now before I head off for a week at the beach, so I just wanted to check in about where I’ve been and some upcoming things.

This past weekend I spent lots of time with family up by Old Orchard Beach in Maine, so I definitely got my cold fix in for the week. The rest of this week I’ll be spending somewhere warm, so look out for a post on that part of my trip sometime next week!

Obviously I am not traveling as much anymore as I was while I was studying abroad, so this blog has taken a turn to more advice and guide related posts. I would like to continue the “travel” theme of my website, but I also want to start writing more lifestyle content, as I have lots more to talk about! While I have some time off this week I’m going to start planning some new things for the future, so hopefully this blog can expand into something bigger than it is at the moment.

I am very passionate about travel, but there are other things I’ve become knowledgable about as well, so I want to start incorporating more aspects of my life into this page. I hope you’re all on board!

For now I must start boarding my flight, but I will definitely be back later this week and next with lots of content and exciting new stuff – see you later, and happy Monday!

xx,

Megan

10 Tips for Traveling Alone

Happy Monday!

I’m back this week with a very important (and very relevant) topic: solo travel. While studying abroad last semester, I knew I wanted to take at least one trip alone for a few reasons. First, I wanted to have a very productive and busy weekend, which was definitely easier to plan without having to coordinate a schedule with others. Also, there was a part of me that just wanted to prove to myself that I could plan and go on a trip entirely by myself. You might remember that this first solo trip was a long weekend of “backpacking” (it was only four days) through Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. I have another semi-solo trip coming up soon, so I thought I would share some of my tips with you all for solo travel, since it’s definitely something most people avoid!

  1. Do your research! Your trip will be a lot more comfortable and less stressful if you plan where you’re staying, your transportation, activities, etc., in advance, so that you know you’ll have things to do and you’ll be safe while traveling. Look into the hotel, airbnb, etc., that you’re staying at to make sure it has good reviews, and try to get local recommendations from friends/family of things you can do/places you can visit.
  2. Plan to be busy. Especially since you’ll be by yourself, it can get boring if you don’t have much to do. It might be an exhausting trip, but you’ll be much happier staying occupied than sitting around relaxing (for the most part!)
  3. Pack a lock for your things – especially if you’re staying in a hostel or a more public residence. This will keep your things safe overnight, and will also be useful if you’re doing activities throughout the day and don’t want to carry everything around the whole time.
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time! From my experience, breakfast and lunch are pretty easy to figure out, but it can definitely be weird eating dinner alone, so making sure you have somewhere to go will be helpful.
  5. Plan dinner dates – going along with my previous point about eating meals alone, it can be nice to have a phone call or facetime date planned so you’re not really eating alone.
  6. Figure out transportation ahead of time. You don’t want to get stuck without a ride home or to the airport, so research transportation options in the area you’re traveling ahead of time and see what’s available near you. Whether you need to book a taxi in advance, or confirm that Uber operates in your city, this will relieve lots of stress while traveling!
  7. Be careful at night! Especially if you are a girl (unfortunately), be aware of your surroundings, and try to stay in groups/in public places if possible. Be responsible and try to avoid any potentially dangerous situation. While I was in Eastern Europe alone, I completely avoided any danger and simply stayed in after dinner (which helped me start my days earlier anyways!)
  8. Keep track of important belongings, especially when you’re alone.
    In general, you should keep tabs on your phone, wallet, and passport, but when you’re by yourself, you don’t have a friend to fall back on if something happens to these. Keep them in a safe place and be careful of pickpockets!
  9. Know where you’re going. Of course you won’t know exactly how to get everywhere you’re going, but having a general idea of landmarks and names of sights or restaurants can help in the case that your phone dies or you need to ask for directions. Quickly mapping out your day before you head out can help a lot.
  10. Meet new (or old) friends! Lots of people are trying solo travel nowadays, so it’s likely you’re not the only one where you’re going who is alone. Especially if you’re staying in a hostel or similar residence, there are always lots of young people who you can hang out with. Similarly, if you know someone who lives in the area you’re visiting, plan to catch up!

Personally, I think everyone should try solo travel at least once while they’re young, because even though it can be scary/uncomfortable, it’s definitely a great learning experience and truly shows you how independent you can be. Not only that, but if there’s somewhere you really want to explore and can’t seem to get a group to go, this is a great way to completely design your own schedule and your own trip so that you can accomplish everything you’ve been wanting to.

During my first trip alone, I learned the hard way that I really don’t like being alone. That being said, I wouldn’t change anything about the experience, because in the end I had a great weekend and it made me more comfortable doing things on my own. I packed so much into those four days which I don’t think I would’ve been able to do otherwise, and I’m now looking forward to planning more solo trips so that I can enjoy traveling alone.

I hope these tips are helpful and that this encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to traveling. I’m excited to finally be taking a couple more trips soon, so I’ll have some new content for you in the future. Subscribe below to come along with me, and I’ll see you all next week!

xx,

Megan

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TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Welcome back, everyone!

If you remember from my previous post, one of my final weekends abroad was split between two major cities: Paris and Amsterdam. This was definitely an ambitious travel plan, but we were able to make the most of what time we had in both cities, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Out of everywhere I traveled while studying in Madrid, Amsterdam was definitely my favorite. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made this trip stand out over all of the others, but the atmosphere and the culture I experienced here was like a fairytale, and I know I’ll be back soon. We spent about a day and a half in Amsterdam, but everything we did could have been condensed into one day. So, if you find yourself in Amsterdam for just one day, keep reading for my recommendations.

Before even getting to Amsterdam, you’ll want to book tickets to the Anne Frank house – these sell out VERY quickly, so make sure to look into this as soon as you start planning your trip. When I visited, we booked the weekend too late, and so by that point everything was sold out. These tours are fairly quick, so I recommend either starting or ending your day with this, so you don’t have to break up your entire schedule.

A great way to see the city is by taking a canal cruise, and these run all day so you can plan this around the rest of your schedule. You’ll likely need to purchase tickets in advance for this as well, but they’re much more available and flexible. This cruise is, in my opinion, the best way to see the buildings, the nature, and the whole environment of the city in a relaxing way. Each canal is lined with such beautiful apartments and bridges, so it’s definitely worth exploring.

Another more underrated activity that I think is definitely worth your time is the Heineken Experience. The Heineken brewery is located in Amsterdam, and what we thought was going to be just another tour of the building turned out to be one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. The whole event is way more than a tour, so while you do get to see and learn about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the brewery, you also get to experience an entire show, ride, game, and party (it sounds crazy, but there’s no other way to explain it). Once again, you will need tickets for this, but it was the best $20 I’ve spent.

Aside from scheduled activities, I definitely suggest taking some time to walk around on your own and see some smaller city sites. Dam Square is a beautiful place to explore, and there are lots of shops and boutiques in the area, so you’ll have lots to do. Amsterdam is also home to a number of wonderful museums, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh, and the Moco. If you find yourself left with any extra time in the day, this is a great way to fill it.

If you’re looking for something to do at night during your short stay in Amsterdam, I would say the best scene is a bar. This is all we did during our stay, as we’d been told the club scene is not the best, but its definitely a very social city and there is always lots going on at night. Lots of the smaller bars and restaurants were the most fun, as they weren’t too crazy and we could all relax together after a long day of activities.

As far as transportation goes, Amsterdam is a very walkable city. That being said, most (if not all) locals bike everywhere. So, if you’re looking to get around quickly, or just to fit in with everyone else, renting a bike for the day is a great idea. If you choose to stay on foot, though, be careful crossing the streets!

For housing, be aware that Amsterdam is not a cheap city to stay in. This was by far the most expensive Airbnb I booked while traveling abroad, but it was very much worth it. If you’re looking to spend a little extra for a cool experience, I also suggest looking into a houseboat – you’ll see these all along the canals, and if I ever return to Amsterdam, I will definitely be staying in one!

This wouldn’t be a proper travel guide if I didn’t touch on the food, so, here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Pancakes (or poffertjes – mini pancakes)
  • Cheese
  • Stroopwafel
  • Frites and mayonnaise
  • Herring (I never tried this, but I’ve heard it’s great there!)

In the end, you really can’t go wrong in Amsterdam, and if you’re ever planning a trip to Europe or don’t know where to go next, this city is my number one recommendation. While there is so much to do, there’s also a very relaxed feel to the city, so even though we were always going during our stay, I never felt overwhelmed. I would love to hear any of your experiences in Amsterdam, and I’m always available for questions or further suggestions. That’s all for now, and I’ll see you next week with some more travel tips!

xx,

Megan


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