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  • Articles,, Travel

    Across The Pond and Beyond

    travel tips

    All the must-do travel tips before you leave for your vacation overseas.

    Know before you go

    Before you leave for your trip make a point to do some research on the parts of the country that you will visit.

    • Learn key phrases
    • Find fun restaurants to try
    • Look for the most popular attractions around that area

    Packing Do’s and Don’ts

    When packing for a vacation, especially in a foreign country, it’s imperative to check the weather before you pack! By checking the weather you are a step ahead by knowing the temperatures all week. 

    Tip: Always pack a lightweight jacket just in case you find yourself somewhere chilly! 

    Sometimes packing is my enemy… ugh. I always over pack, it’s like a disease. So, when packing, be sure not to bring too much of one thing. 

    For example: Try to evenly distribute the number of socks you pack per each pair of shoes. Hint – you don’t need 12 pairs of socks if you are only going to be gone for a week. 

    Preparing for an Overnight Flight

    When flying on any plane it can be very drying to your skin, my secret weapon is always making sure I have a face mask with me. (It might look silly, but you’ll thank me later) 

    I also can’t forget my lotion because my hands get very dry too! 

    Tip: In my experience shorts on a plane is the worst! When you’re on a plane the air is usually much colder in the air. Comfy joggers or leggings are the way to go!!

    Here are a few of my fave joggers and face masks for a long plane ride!

    How to Battle Jet Lag

    Jetlag is the absolute worst! It leaves you feeling tired and moody, and sucks all of the energy out of you when you most need it. The number one thing to remember when fighting off the lag is to not fall asleep when you get to your destination. Whatever you do, I repeat, do not go to sleep. Trust me, your circadian rhythm is so off that you will not wake up for hours and you might end up wasting a whole day. Drink tons of water and stay hydrated! Soon enough your body will adjust and your rhythm will go back to normal. 

    Thanks for reading these travel tips and bon voyage!!!

    Even if you’re just going on a two-hour car ride to your grandparent’s house, you can make your trip ten times more fun with these road trip tips.

  • Articles,, Tips, Travel

    Packing Hacks

    packing hacks

    Do you find yourself, moments before you have to leave for the airport, cramming things into your suitcase, jumping and sitting on it, just praying that it’ll zip up? 

    Well, I do. In fact, more often than I’d like to admit. I travel pretty frequently and almost every time I find myself in this situation. Not only do I tend to overpack but I also tend to put the chore off as late as possible. The outcome of my packing procrastination is almost never good with forgotten necessities, wrinkled clothes, and popped zippers. 

    Soon I’ll be leaving for a three-week-long trip. For this trip, I have decided to push myself to break these packing habits. In order to do so, I am planning out my packing with lists of everything I need to bring, giving myself plenty of time, and testing and utilizing several packing life hacks I found online. 

    Packing Checklist

    The Hack:  Create your own checklist or Google a checklist online.

    My Opinion: This was super easy. All I did was Google a packing list. Being able to visualize everything that I pack is super helpful. I got to feel satisfied as I completed the checklist and make sure that I packed everything that I needed. (Here’s a really great one!)

    Packing Cubes

    The Hack: Essentially, these are containers that help organize your suitcase by compartmentalizing all of your belongings. 

    My Opinion: I really enjoy these because they allow me to stay super organized while traveling. The cubes make locating everything in my suitcase super fast and simple. Also, unpacking the cubes is super convenient. Additionally, the cubes help to use up every bit of space in my suitcase, so I can maximize the amount of stuff I pack. In short, I will use these for my trip.

    Here is a tutorial on how to use them:

    Rolling Your Clothes

    The Hack: Roll your clothes like burritos instead of folding them. 

    My Opinion: I quite like this hack because it seems to save a bit of space as well as prevent wrinkles that folding can cause. I plan to use this hack in combination with the packing cubes. 

     Plastic Wrap On Toiletry Bottles

    The Hack: Place plastic wrap over the opening of your bottles/containers then recap the bottle. 

    My Opinion: I have been using this hack for a while now and it definitely is effective in preventing the contents of the bottles from leaking out everywhere. Although, I would prefer a hack that is more environmentally friendly and can be reused.
    If you like this idea, here are some other ways you can use plastic wrap while traveling.

    Travel Size Toiletry Bottles

    The Hack: Reusable bottles that can hold your toiletries.

    My Opinion: I like these a lot because they are reusable and come in a size that is TSA-approved. Transferring more viscous substances, such as lotion or moisturizer, into these bottles is tricky but possible. I recommend the bottles without sharp corners because the product tends to get trapped in those corners. Also, I recommend labeling the bottles. 

    Dryer Sheets

    The Hack: Place dryer sheets in your luggage to prevent odors.

    My Opinion: I found that the dryer sheets helped to keep my clothes smelling nice and fresh. Also, by placing a couple of sheets with my shoes, any odors from my shoes were kept in check and not transferred to my other belongings.

    Final Thoughts

    In conclusion, packing under a reasonable time frame and with optimal organization makes the whole experience way more enjoyable. Traveling is definitely a stressful experience, but the stress can be reduced with proper time management and preparedness. 

  • College, Lifestyle, Travel

    Simple Tips For A Hassle-free Asian Gap Year

    Gap Year Travel

    Simple Tips For A Hassle-free Asian Gap Year

    In 2016, Malia Obama, daughter of then-president Barack Obama, decided that she would take a gap year before attending Harvard University in the fall of the following year as a member of the Class of 2021. Over recent years, taking a gap year after graduating from high school has become increasingly popular among Americans, with approximately 40,000 teens engaging in the practice every year. While destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Peru remain hot favorites among adventurous youngsters looking to explore the world before settling down in college, there is one destination that possesses a mystical appeal like none other: Asia. Traveling to such a far-off destination may initially seem harrowing for a teen girl, especially as far as funding the expedition is concerned, but a few simple guidelines will make it easy to plan a memorable gap year in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

    Decide on your destination and draw up a budget

    The first thing you need to do after deciding on taking a gap year in Asia is to pick a destination. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore are all exquisite, and can offer a girl an exceptional gap year experience. Whether you remain in one place or travel the entire continent is entirely up to you. Just make sure you plan your route and draw up your budget accordingly. Take into consideration everything from your plane tickets and accommodation to your food and other basic living expenses, and ensure you will have some extra money at your disposal should an emergency arise.

    Find cheap flights

    Your flights will more than likely be the biggest expense you incur when traveling to Asia for your gap year. Whether you’re looking to book a simple two-way ticket or plan to travel extensively and make use of multiple flights, make the effort to search for the most affordable flights available. Be flexible when booking your flights, and make use of a reliable fare finder tool to find the best deals available. If you travel frequently, you can also benefit from making use of a credit card that will reward you with airline miles, which will take the pressure off significantly.

    Making money in Asia

    Unless you’re extremely wealthy, chances are you will have to find a way to fund your gap year while abroad. Thankfully, living and traveling in Asia is typically very affordable, which means you can make your money last for longer. If, however, you want to extend your stay or have more spending money at your disposal, there are a number of ways you can earn extra money while exploring the continent. If you have a way with words, you may want to consider becoming a digital nomad and start your own blog that documents your travels. You can also offer other online services, such as web page and logo design, copywriting, and online editing that will enable you to earn money while traveling. If you consider yourself to be eloquent, why not take up a job teaching English as a foreign language? You can offer this service either online or wherever you’re staying, depending on how frequently you’re planning to change your location. 

    There is something distinctly magical about Asia that makes it the perfect gap year destination for adventurous girls. As long as you plan your trip properly, there’s no reason why your year abroad couldn’t become the most memorable time in your life.

  • Articles,

    Portrait of a Gap Year: Work, Activism, Writing, Self-Care, and Self-Discovery

    Interview with Allie and Sonita

    Guest Post by Alexandra Zehner

    Ever since middle school, I had my life all planned out: graduate from high school, launch straight into college, graduate from college, and immediately enter grad school or a career. Straying from this pin-straight path didn’t seem like an option; however, here I am, writing this piece at the end of my gap year.

    Looking back, I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m taking a year between high school and college.” Because this option did not pop up on my radar until eleventh grade, the only way to describe my decision is as the perfect collision of four distinct circumstances. First: at the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging. Second: in the fall of my senior year, my family hosted two young women, Priya and Winona, who were in the middle of taking gap years to travel the country, interview people about their intersectional identities, and write a book on racial literacy. Third: I met Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, an organization dedicated to making bridge years between high school and university a socially acceptable norm. Fourth: after continuously pushing myself throughout high school and becoming co-valedictorian, I was afraid of burning out.

    So, I committed to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York last spring and asked for a deferral of admission, elucidating my gap year plans. Barnard approved my request, I filled out a one-page form, and just like that, I was taking a gap year.

    And so the year began.
    In the summer, I worked part-time jobs and saved some money.
    In the fall, I worked with Sonita Alizadeh, a young activist who uses music as a tool to catalyze social change, particularly looking to end the detrimental traditional practice of child marriage. Through my work with her and a nonprofit, Strongheart Group, I conducted research, interviewed young activists from around the world, and traveled to the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit in New York City.

    In the winter, I started focusing on curating a book about the next generation of young women. Formatted as a collection of essays, I will write about half of the chapters and other teen girls will write the rest. From omnipresent social media to an extremely divided political climate to gun violence, this book will speak to the most pressing, serious issues my generation is facing on our journey to adulthood. Learning through doing, I taught myself how to write a book proposal, draft a query letter, reach out to agents, and build a website.

    In the spring, I was extremely fortunate to travel to Colombia, where I practiced my Spanish, attended a women’s conference, and shadowed an incredible nonprofit, Juanfe, that works with teen moms in Cartagena. And, coincidentally, I met another teen who is taking a gap year to live in South American cities, work, become fluent in Spanish, and volunteer. I have also spent the spring loving (pretty much) every second of learning how to write a book.

    The other key aspect of this year is that, having struggled with a chronic illness since the seventh grade, I made time to see doctors and get necessary testing. While I still do not know the root cause of my health issues, I am better equipped to manage my symptoms and look after my own well being: two things I did not prioritize in middle and high school.

    And that is my gap year in a nutshell.

    Let me just say that taking this year and venturing from the extremely narrow life path I had envisioned has been one of my best decisions. From around the time I could walk, I was in school five days a week, seven hours a day. For 15 years, being a student was absolutely core to my identity.

    Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, friend, sister, and global citizen.

    I will be attending university this fall. Contrary to what is sometimes believed about gap years, I will be going back to school with an immensely stronger sense of self, more direction, and a readiness to return to the classroom. I could not be more ecstatic to finish my book throughout freshman year and continue to grow as a person.

    Gap years are not for everyone, but they should be considered a viable alternative to going straight to college. My hope is that society recognizes the immense possibilities bridge years can hold.

    Originally published by Rowland Hall, a Salt Lake City preK–12 school inspiring students to lead lives of learning and purpose.

  • Travel

    Top 20 Road Trip Songs

    School’s almost out and the holiday season is upon us. It’s that time of year again where most of you will be traveling with family or traveling home to family. I have a list of Top 20 songs to help get you through some of your trip.

    Let’s start with our ladies of the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s:

    1. Ariana Grande—Side to Side
    2. Britney Spears—Piece of Me
    3. Bonnie McKee—American Girl
    4. Miley Cyrus—We Can’t Stop
    5. Charlie XCX (ft. Troy Sivan)—1999
    6. Zara Larson—Lush Life
    7. Hailee Steinfeld—You’re Such A
    8. Little Mix (ft. Stormzy)—Power
    9. Kesha—Tik Tok
    10. Anne-Marie—2002
    11. Fifth Harmony—BO$$
    12. Demi Lovato—La La Land
    13. Spice Girls—Wannabe
    14. Taylor Swift—…Ready for It?
    15. Meghan Trainor—NO
    16. Natasha Bedingfield—These Words

    For the last few songs we have some guys (and Fergi) from the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s:

    1. Panic! At the Disco—Death of a Bachelor
    2. My House—Flo Rida
    3. Black Eyed Peas—Let’s Get it Started
    4. One Direction—Drag Me Down

    This list is only some of the more upbeat tunes from each artist. They boast a playfulness that keeps everyone in the car singing along. You could always slip in a Disney song or two, but nothing beats older hits and Pop music.

    I could have gone on all day adding songs, but at some point, you have to stop yourself and let someone else give it a try. Be generous with the radio and let whoever is traveling with you add a few songs. I’ll link the playlist down below, but feel free to write in the comments some songs you would have added. Maybe they’ll end up on it! Be safe traveling and a happy holiday!

    Spotify Top 20 Road Trip Songs Playlist:

  • Articles

    Photoshoot Inspiration

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  • Books

    Flower Meanings

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