Reasons to Travel Alone

5 Reasons On Why You Should Be Your Own Aladdin

You can show yourself the world because you deserve it.

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In March of 2018, I set out to New York for the first time ever with a luggage full of winter clothes, a carefully typed-out agenda, and a heart full of wanderlust. I financed, planned, and executed this solo trip on my own, for the most part, and was able to stay with family and friends to save money and guide me around the city. What I wanted out of it was entirely up to me, however. The thrill and independence that comes from planning a solo trip is an experience I suggest many people consider pursuing, and here are five reasons why.

1. Self-care, duh. 

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Life. Is. Stressful. You find yourself juggling social life, family life, academics and/or work life, and your personal advocacy all the time. You deserve a little alone time on vacation. There is a quiet serenity and beauty in wandering a foreign place by yourself. It's a "treat yo self" moment when you are able to make decisions such as where to eat or what to do to fulfill your personal satisfaction from the trip. The trip is for you.

2. It's a learning experience!

when there's just...so many things to learn about yourself and it feels like you have different faces on

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Trying to navigate city streets, unknown sidewalks, and different cultures can be a stressful nightmare. However, the way you're able to navigate and figure out how to get from point A to point B helps you learn more about yourself and your abilities. Maybe you find that you're more impulsive than cautious. Maybe you prefer walking from place to place rather than taking the train or bus. And, though you can learn these things in your hometown, there is something about being alone in a foreign place that just emphasizes this need to learn about yourself and adapt that to your environment that makes it all the more special.

3. Practice event-planning skills

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Whether you have a knack or ambition for it, or neither of the two, you're always going to have to plan an event. That could be a birthday party, meeting, project, or get-together, but you'll find yourself pulling resources together to make something work. Planning a solo trip is very much like this experience. You have to run through all the logistics, make sure you have costs budgeted, routes shortened, and time used efficiently. You can be a professional party-planner by the time you figure out your plans! Though winging it isn't a bad idea either, I suggest planning or mapping out some parts of your trip, especially when it is 1) a foreign environment and 2) you're solo (out of your safety).

4. Becoming independent

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Emphasis is, again, on being alone. You learn to become dependent of your own self- to get you places, to make your decisions, and to budget your time, money, and look-out for your safety. Your sense of independence grows exponentially because you have to maximize the potential of the short amount of time you have to spend on your trip. You find yourself planning things out, relying on your instincts, and depending on just you.

I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, do you know what that means?

5. Open your eyes and see a whole new world

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The vital message about travel is exposure to cultures different from your own. You learn about new places, people, and things. Travel sticks a bug in you that never wants to go away and you will continuously chase that moment of awe when you're in a new place.

Go ahead. Take that carpet ride to anywhere your heart desires. Plan a budget, an agenda, and a to-do list.

Better than any spa treatment, massage day, or night out, solo traveling is a breath of fresh air in a whole new world.



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12 Struggles Only Portuguese Girls Can Relate To

It's like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" but Portuguese edition.
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As mentioned before in my "8 Ways You Know You're Portuguese" article, I'm 100% European Portuguese. Which means that if you're reading this, you're probably somehow related to me (see #5). You know these 12 things to be true if you grew up in a Portuguese household:

1. You're pressured to marry a Pork Chop.

A Pork Chop is a Portuguese person. The older generation feels that this term is derogatory, but Portuguese Americans self identify as 'Pork Chops.' Some families will probably disown you if you don't marry a Portuguese guy, but I lucked out and my family is pretty open minded. Let me put it this way, if you're not married by the time you're 28, your grandma and your mother are going to take you to the Portuguese club to find a nice Pork Chop to settle down with. You may not be forced into a Portuguese marriage, but it's highly preferred that you marry within the culture.

2. You're always too fat, even if you're skinny.

Portuguese people are a feminist's worst nightmare. They will body shame the hell out of you and feel no remorse. You could lose 20 pounds and look/feel amazing and a Portuguese person will still say "well, you could stand to lose a few more pounds."

3. You must remember your Portuguese classes that you took when you were five years old.

It is a crime against humanity to a Portuguese person if you don't at least understand the language. If you can speak it, read it, and understand it, you've automatically earned yourself the "golden child" title. Every time I move to a different state, my Grandma's only warning is "don't forget your Portuguese," because someone's got to carry on the culture.

4. Am I white? Mixed? Hispanic? Unclear.

I grew up thinking I was some kind of Latina just because the Portuguese language is so similar to Spanish. You probably feel comfortable in Hispanic communities because of your Portuguese background. I eventually realized that I'm white, but I still get told that I look racially ambiguous. Whenever someone asks what nationality I am, I give them three guesses. It's rare that people ever guess Portuguese, but upon finding out that I am, I suddenly become "exotic."

5. You have 55 first cousins.

This is not an exaggeration. My dad actually has 50 first cousins. I have 13, but I have way more cousins in Portugal that I've either never met, or I've met them, but wouldn't be able to pick them out of a line up. If you go to Portugal and visit all of your relatives, the faces and names start to blur together and it's safe to call every man "Joao" and every woman "Maria" or "Ana Maria" and they'll be delighted that you remembered their names.

6. You have to make sure you don't marry your own cousin.

Portugal is such a small country that if you meet a fellow Pork Chop in America, chances are, you're somehow related or your families are friends. I suggest drawing an extensive family tree before shacking up with a Pork Chop.

7. Somebody is always praying for you.

Portuguese people are devoutly Catholic, so it doesn't matter if you're temporarily down on your luck or a self made millionaire, you have a tia (an aunt) that you probably only see when someone in the family passes away, who prays on the rosary every night for you.

8. You must have a name that can be pronounced in Portuguese.

There are two criteria for naming a Portuguese baby: is it the name of a saint, and can it be pronounced in Portuguese? If your uncle twice removed that you see every six years when you go to Portugal can't say your baby's name, you need to pick a new one. Names like "Riley" and "Jackson" won't get Grandma's approval.

9. You're considered adventurous if you move out of your parents house before you're married.

It's rare that Portuguese women don't live with their mothers until they find a spouse, and even once they do get married, it's not uncommon for their mother to move in with her daughter and her (hopefully Portuguese) husband.

10. You've been given something with Our Lady of Fatima on it.

Fatima is Portugal's claim to fame. It's the city in Portugal where three kids claimed they saw the Virgin Mary in 1917 and it's now a popular, religious tourist destination. Your grandma has probably given you something with the Blessed Mary on it to put in your car or in your bedroom so that you stay '#blessed' all the time.

11. You're not allowed to be a vegetarian.

Portuguese people are fishermen and their specialty is codfish, so it's nearly impossible to maintain a vegetarian diet in a Portuguese household. You can be pescatarian though!

12. You have to warn people before you introduce them to your family.

Have you ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" That's what it's like to bring a non-Portuguese boyfriend to a Portuguese family gathering. Good luck.

Cover Image Credit: CDMPHY / Flickr

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6 Reasons Traveling Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Soul

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

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Have you ever traveled to a new destination and felt your mood instantly improve? Are you like me and feel happiest when you're on vacation? This is because traveling is a way for you to renew your soul and step out of your comfort zone. It keeps you happy and allows you to experience new things.

Visiting new destinations can open your mind to experiences you didn't even know were possible. You can meet new people, fall in love, try new foods, and see remarkable sites all while traveling. There are no limits to the places you can visit, and the things you can see. Currently, I am on a mini weekend trip to Arizona, and being here has opened my eyes and made me realize how impactful traveling really is on your mind, body, and soul. Traveling should be something you do as often as possible and whenever you get the chance. Here's why:

1. Traveling makes your heart happy 

Traveling is something that most people enjoy. It keeps the heart young and childlike. Traveling brings people joy because they get to experience new things that they love with the people they love.

2. It teaches you to embrace every moment 

Traveling can be unpredictable, especially because you are experiencing new things. Although it can be challenging, we learn best from these unpredictable moments. When we travel we learn to embrace every situation that is thrown at us.

3. Traveling relieves stress and improves mental health 

Traveling reduces stress and allows you to relax. More often than not, you take off work when you go on vacation and you focus on renewing your self. You get away from all the crazy things going on in your life, and you can just relax and focus on your own happiness.

4. It broadens your horizons 

Traveling lets you branch out and experience different cultures. You can try new foods, new activities, and meet all different types of people. You learn diversity, and you learn respect for other people and their culture's. Traveling helps you learn other perspectives around the world and lets your mind think in ways it never has before.

5. It keeps you healthy 

Traveling actually plays a big part in your physical health as well. During vacations, you often walk a lot to destinations and participate in calorie burning activities like hiking and swimming. Activities like these are often why you still are able to get your workout in while on vacation.

6. Traveling reminds you what is important 

Most importantly, traveling reminds you of the important things in life. We live day by day forgetting that every moment is remarkable. Sometimes, we get stuck in the same old boring routine and take for granted the life we have been given. Traveling reminds us that memories are valuable and that our lives should be cherished.

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