I had no idea that March 29th 2020 would be the last time I saw the love of my life. For the past two years, we had travelled to several countries and were making the most of our time apart while we planned for our future together and worked towards closing the gap. With the flip of a switch, our entire lives as we knew it changed.
As we sat in the Winnipeg airport, after travelling to the country we planned to move to, we booked flights to Greece for March 8th through the 11th. I would fly to Ireland and surprise my boyfriend before going to Greece and fly back just a few days later. As I prepped for my travels, those that I knew, cautioned me to wear a mask and to be safe. My parents encouraged me to cancel the flight. To me, the idea of the Corona Virus was still a joke. I got on a shuttle bus packed with people, and made my way to the airport. I saw maybe twenty people amongst busy crowds wearing masks and I mocked them. “What germaphobes?!” I thought and laughed it off.
Upon arriving at the Dublin airport, I was flashed with yellow Covid-19 signs every few feet. Still, I stood amongst several others, mask free and in a foreign country, waiting to board a bus that would bring me to my boyfriend. I arrived to his home and hid in his room waiting for him to get off of work so I could surprise him with my presence.
A few days later, we were on our way to Greece. Going back to the airport just a few days later, things were drastically different. It was still busy, but most people were wearing masks. I found my seat on the flight and was greeted by an elderly couple wiping their seats down, wearing gloves and masks and loading up on sanitizer. Part of me thought they were insane, because I was stuck in my own little bubble-internet free and with my boyfriend I hadn’t seen since January, but there was this other part of me that thought “Fuck, this might be real.” I remember texting Stephen, who was seated a few rows ahead of me, “The start of an apocalyptic horror film” It was all laugh and giggles but I was getting scared. I was quick to tell myself it was my anxiety and that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal and I was just trying to forget about it- I mean, I was on my way to Greece where I would be staying on the beach with my lovely boyfriend.. I was so excited for Spring Break vacation!!
We got to Greece and made our way to our hotel. Oh it was so incredible. We paid close to nothing for this gorgeous hotel that sat on the beach with a balcony and all. I am thankful to have had this experience right before Covid-19 hit. In a way, I feel like it was such a blessed experience to have a beach vaca with my boyfriend as the pandemic got to settle, because had we not gone, the last time before this all happened would have been January in Canada. Everything was timed to the minute of working out. For some random reason, it was the first time we had ever decided to buy tickets for the next trip while we were still together on a trip. For some random reason I decided to surprise him and come a few days before Spring break. Had we not done either of these things, it would have been 10 months since we had seen each other instead of 8.
Everything was perfect, until my fears became a reality as we entered back into Ireland.
We have the entire world at our finger tips. No, I don’t even mean the internet or our phones, or any electronic for that matter. I mean to say that we have the freedom to do as we please with our one life. There is no one to hold us back but ourselves and our fears. I could do anything I wanted to do right now. Yes, I may face repercussions for doing as I please, but the fact of the matter is that the goals that I have and the dreams I have conjured can become a reality if I just TRY.
I often claim that I am so lucky. “I am so lucky for my opportunities to travel”, “I am so lucky for my career”, “I am so lucky for my grades”, “I am so lucky to have the life that I have”, so on and so forth. But the truth is that nothing in my life that has happened has been due to luck. I worked 60 hour weeks between four jobs to be able to afford my travel. I took a risk through my passion and drive to get the career I possess. I receive the grades I have sacrificed sleep in order to obtain. Every day, I keep in pursuit of the things that I want. I have not been given this life out of luck. I have been given this life because I have earned it.
I feel as though I am coming to the point of a quarter life crisis.
I am completing my second year of college in just one year and most of my time in college has been spent in Zoom University. I have two months left and I have never felt so disconnected to my academics. At times, I let this thought overtake me and in other moments I take it as a challenge to work harder. I let it serve as a motivator; that I am, in fact, obtaining my first degree during a genuine pandemic that has affected my life in many different aspects. This is something to be proud of. I am grateful that our technology is to the point of allowing us to take courses from home. Other times, I crash and I burn. My grades are okay for the current state of the world. Currently, I have 100% in Astronomy, 80% in Human Bio, 98% in Cinema Communications, and 94% in Family Relations. At times, I am proud because I acknowledge that it hasn’t been easy, but other times I cry feeling like this semester has been a waste. My GPA is currently 3.8 and I know I won’t get a 4.0 and that is something I burden myself with knowing. I put so much pressure on myself and so much value on my academics and I feel absolutely pissed at myself, at times, that I will never be good enough for the goals I place for myself. What I fail to realize is that my entire life flipped on me this past year and I have endured the unexpected. I should be proud on my self for being a PTK member and for being on the Deans List and for continuing to putting effort into my classes even when I feel defeated by them.
My emotions the last 8 months have been a rollercoaster. I strive for positivity and have made so many changes in my life, yet other times I hit an all time low and ponder my existence.
I hate the loss of normalcy. I am defiant to believe that this could be our new “normal” even though we have adapted to this new way of life over the past 8 months. But if I had the chance to change life and keep Covid-19 from happening, I wouldn’t because despite the terrible aspects it has brought to my life, it has also changed my ways of life for the better.
My relationship has changed vastly in its dynamics over the last eight months due to this pandemic… and although it seems to be the worst thing that could have happened to a long distance relationship, it has also been so beneficial for us. I am grateful for where Stephen and I are and I am so emotional at the thought I will see him again and that we will be living in a brand new country together next year.
I believe that the Universe puts you through a challenge right before bringing to you what you have asked for because it wants to test you to make sure what it will give you is what you truly desire. Maybe this isn’t true, but believing that I am currently being tested and that good is to come after I prove myself is what is, seemingly, keeping me alive.
I have been deserving of all the good that has come my way, and I will deserve all the good that is yet to come. I have just this one life and it is important that I place such value on my life. It is up to me to make my life worth it in the eyes of my self. This is why I am actively in the process of changing my outlook, perspective, and thoughts on myself and life. I am eager to continue my growth and I am eager to see all that I can achieve in this life that I have.
I am here to make something of myself.
Affirmation of the day: I am deserving of all good things that I have earned.
What am I grateful for?: 1. My transforming outlook on life. 2. My persistence to strive for more. 3. My desire to achieve goals and remain motivated. 4. My family 5. My relationship 6. My cat 7. My babies that I care for. 8. Technology advancements that allow for me to continue school during this time and video call my boyfriend who is 3,636 miles away. 9. My friends. 10. Having physical representations of past memories that I can look back and reflect on!
-Use storage cubes for organization. (Sealed ones for optimal space.)
-Look up the airport rules and regulations to come better prepared.
-Bring extra bags in your carry on to separate items.
-ALWAYS pack extra clothes in carry on, incase of luggage delay.
-Create a checklist, to ensure you don’t lose any important items.
-Have updated contact info on your luggage incase it gets lost.
You will hear me again and again, addressing the concept of optimal space, and this is because when packing, it is so important for you to be able to squeeze in all of your belongings as comfortably as possible, and hopefully have some extra space for souvenirs, if that’s what your heart desires.
When I solo travel, I use my backpack luggage by Osprey. More specifically, I use the FarPoint 70 backpack. I’ll provide a reference photo below, alongside the link for it, incase you are interested!
Frequently, when I am packing, I am prepping for travel from Minnesota, in the United States, to Ireland. Most of the time, I will be packing enough clothes for a month long stay, and as a girl going to stay with her boyfriend, this, more than likely, translates to nearly two months of clothing… half of which will never even be touched.
Learn from me. I waste so much space bringing an unnecessary amount of clothes. Plan ahead and bring only what you will need. Try not to think of “what if scenarios” and instead ask yourself when the last time was that you wore that item and how likely you are to wear it on this trip. If you are going on an extended holiday, pack for two weeks and then wash your laundry and cycle through your clothes. If you don’t have access to a washer and dryer, consider buying some laundry powder meant to wash your clothes by hand in the hotel sink.
Organizational packing cubes, for me, are a must!
The ones that I have been using for the past two or three years for out-of-country travel are just some cheap ones from Amazon; If I can find them, I will link them below, otherwise, I will find some similar ones to share.
So, because I have an expandable backpack, as opposed to more sturdy luggage that holds it’s place, it is more important that I have some cubes to ensure I can get maximum use out of the space that I have. These cubes are also crucial to maintaining organization with my items.
The smallest cube, is typically used for my makeup and bathroom necessities. Usually this doesn’t include a lot. Something I do, when traveling, is buy some of my cheap basic needs once I have arrived to my final destination. Things like shampoo and conditioner are cheaper for me in Ireland, and because I stay for longer periods of time, it just makes sense for me to buy a full size there instead of a travel size here. It also frees up space in my luggage.
This set comes with two large packing cubes, used for my everyday clothing wear. The first one typically holds my everyday jeans and pants and the other is used for my everyday shirts and tops.
I should mention that my preference for packing individual clothing items is to roll them up as opposed to regular folds, because I find that I get more space when I do so.
The two medium compartments are meant for special occasion clothing, and pajamas. Any item that is too large, such as jackets and baggier sweatpants, get flat folded and placed beneath these storage cubes. By personal preference, I place my undergarments in my mesh pocket of the backpack itself, and because I do have a months worth, or so, of underwear and socks, I see this to be the most suitable space for maximum storage.
One thing I will say, is that, although I have yet to invest in some and try them out for myself, I have been curious to try the vacuum sealable compartments. I think that the rolling ones are incredibly convenient, and I can only imagine the space you could save with these!
A detachable day pack comes with the FarPoint 70 backpack by Osprey. This additional storage is awesome to stuff a pair or two of shoes in. Usually, when I am packing, depending on where I am going and the time of year, I will bring my tennis shoes, that I wear to the airport, a pair of slides (Summer) or slippers (Winter), a pair of rainboots (when I go to Ireland) and a pair of shoes for any special occasions. The slippers/ slides will go into my carry on because they don’t take up much space and my special occasion shoes will be put in my daypack along with my rainboots.
For both my luggage, and my carry on, I print out a laminated check list for all of my items. This is important to me, so I can ensure that I am never forgetting anything needed throughout my travels. This tip is especially crucial if you are constantly changing your locations throughout the trip.
For my carry-on, I use a North Face backpack alongside my personal purse. In my carry on, I have a quart bag from my previous time at the security checkpoint, that holds all of my liquids. I will also have all of my medications in a separate zip lock baggy to make security just a little more hassle free.
I will make a blog post in the future sharing with you how I make my time at the airports quick, easy, and stress free both prior to departure, and after landing.
My carry on does not hold much, but it is more so just for my necessities of travel. (i.e., my neck pillow, medications, electronics, personal identification, and money.)
I have lost my luggage in transit so many times due to short transfers, so I’ve learned through such experiences to ALWAYS pack additional “emergency” clothing into the carry on, along with anything important that you will need for your first few days of travel. On a side note, I also recommend that you make sure to have your updated contact information written on your luggage, so if it does happen to get lost, it will have an easier time getting back to you.
Another trick I have found to be useful is to bring extra bags stuffed in your carry on.
Once I get to my gate, I can separate my items into what can be kept with me on the plane, and what can be placed in the overhead bin, that I won’t need during my travel.
Please keep in mind, that there are most likely a few things I forgot to mention in this post, despite having tried to cover all bases. There is a lot that goes into travelling, especially when it comes to packing. It is also important to note that these are just a few tips and tricks that make travel easier for me, and what might be great for me, might not work as well for others. Take this personal information as guidance, and expand through research on other tips and tricks to find what works best for you!
Share in the comments below any advice you might have for effective packing!
When you begin to acquire as many insane stories as I have, in as short of a time as a year, you’re quick to realize that some of the most prominent stories of your life deserve to be shared with the public.
When I was just 17 years old, I began planning for a trip of a lifetime. I was determined to make one of my wildest, most impulsive, dreams a reality. In 2018, just 2 months after graduating high school, I set off to the United Kingdom to take back control of my life and to say a big ‘Fuck You’ to my anxiety that had ruled my every decision prior.
I stayed in the United Kingdom for just about five days, gaining my first ounce of freedom, and developing a sense for who I was. My first week in the U.K. was one of the most scary experiences in all of my short teenage life; but this feeling was exactly what I had been seeking. I had never felt so alive- nor had I ever been happier.
In my time spent alone in a foreign country, I gained a life time of experiences.
I arrived to my Airbnb, only to find out that my host wasn’t who he had made himself out to be online. I spent my first day, not only fighting jet lag, but searching hours away for a safe place to stay.
Finally, after making way to the SafeStay Hostel, I prepped for my upcoming travels to Chelmsford, where I would attend a music festival, featuring all of my favorite British Pop Stars. To this day, my time spent at this festival marks one of the best days of my life! For 12 hours I was surrounded by my favorite music, talking to all these beautiful people with the loveliest of accents. I was completely immersed in my dreams.
Once I had returned to the hostel, I was quick to become friends with one of the guys I was bunking with. After a quick exchange of “hello”s, we got drunk and wandered the city together. We shared our life stories as we ventured around listening to street music and buying local foods. Eventually, as the evening approached, we made our way back to the hostel where we gained a group of friends from all over the world- one by one.
My time spent in the United Kingdom was fast paced, but on August 21st, I left to venture to Switzerland. I spent three weeks in the most beautiful country in the world. I couch surfed, hiked the Swiss Alps, and ate a shit ton of cheese and chocolate.
Switzerland was an absolute dream come true, and is still marked as my favorite country in terms of natural beauty. I was so sad to be leaving my friends, but this was quick to change after I had arrived to Amsterdam where I met my current boyfriend.
Stay tuned for my next blog post for the beginnings of a lifetime of stories all made within the span of a year!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should probably preface the beginnings of my blog by making mention that this past year has been filled with the unthinkable. Since my first solo travel experience, to this current point in my life, there’s been nothing but moments of sheer insanity. I’m part to blame for the stories I have to share, but take them as you want because, every memory I’ve gained from my gap year has left me with only a grander appreciation for people, the world, my self, and the life I have made for myself.
Leave a comment below letting me know your most intense travel story!
When I was seven years old, I hopped on my first flight to leave behind everything I had ever known back in Minnesota, to welcome in a new way of life in Arizona. As I cuddled in to the airplane seat, I gleamed out the window awaiting to see if the rumors of the sight were deemed to be true.
To much dismay, the people didn’t appear as ants and there was no sightings of my house from above.
Despite the acknowledgement of having been lied to by my peers of my first grade class, I remember the bewildering feeling of lifting off the ground and the immense amount of joy that came from watching everything grow smaller as I lifted off into the sky.
From a young age, I had acquired a longing for adrenaline. The more my heart pounded, the more I felt alive. The way my ears popped as the pressure increased, and the way my stomach dropped when turbulence hit, I felt as though I was on one of the biggest roller coasters yet. I remember the fear that the plane would accidentally lift off into outer space, and the way the tilting of the wings made me feel as we prepped for landing. From the free snacks, to the games played by the flight attendants,
I fell in love with everything to do with flying just as soon as it was brought to my attention.
I had big aspirations for my future, and as I ventured into the second grade after travelling to the opposite side of the country, I had it set in my mind that I wanted to make a life out of travel.