4 Reasons to Travel Solo

Everything Travel

This is a post that will be near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown so much and attribute much of that to having traveled solo. Traveling alone even once, especially as a young woman is life changing in so many ways. There are reasons beyond this post that I believe that traveling solo is a great idea. If you are a young woman, be open to traveling alone and the opportunities that come with traveling solo.

I have traveled by myself to Belize and Puerto Rico (kinda). I went to Puerto Rico and my roommates met me there but I spent most of the trip exploring San Juan alone because I had the desire to see some different things than my friends wanted to see. Here are 5 reasons why traveling solo can be wildly amazing, scary, but totally worth it.

1.You will develop a greater sense of independence.

Traveling alone requires a person to rely on their own ability to plan and execute the details of a trip. You have to book your flight and feel confident boarding that flight alone. Then, you have to book your hotel or hostel and check-in alone. After that, you get to spend your time however you see fit. However, I don’t think there are many more experiences in life that are more liberating than this. Doing what you want on your time is just a feeling unmatched. It is scary at first, but you may end up thriving on it.

2. You will get to know yourself better.

The time I’ve spent traveling solo have truly taught me so much about myself. There was the time I went on a private plane ride over the Blue Hole in Belize with 2 perfect strangers and LOVED IT. There was a time that I went shopping and enjoyed a solo meal in Old San Juan from sunrise to sunset by myself. I didn’t have the voices of friends in the background rushing me along. I didn’t have the rush of having some place else to be to make sure that everyone got to do what they wanted. I talked and laughed with shop owners and restaurant goers. I took photos of everything I thought looked nice and realized that I love small cobblestone streets and appreciate murals. My very own voice was the loudest in those moments and I could hear it more clearly than I probably ever had.

3. You will realize how strong, smart, and resourceful you are.

Imagine landing in a foreign country where the primary language is not English and you are now trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the city with minimal cell service and no understanding of the local language. Imagine figuring it out on your own. Imagine fearlessly and confidently taking control of the situation and getting sh*t handled. You are strong, smart, and resourceful even if you don’t know it yet.

4. You will want to travel solo again.

See the above reasons.

Oddly enough, you might actually like the feeling of independence, liberation, and freedom that solo travel provides. Solo travel isn’t for the faint of heart BUT it also is not that hard.

Comment below: Would you travel solo? Why or why not?

As always, please feel free to email with questions about solo travel or any travel.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Everything Travel

During my time traveling, chatting with followers, or chatting with friends of the blog and shop, I am often asked where I’m currently living. If you know anything about me, you know that I love to explore new cities. I also have always longed to satisfy a certain obsession I have with discovery, travel, and change.

I wanted to create a blog post about my experience living in Austin so far for the past 2 years. Some of you may be thinking about making a move or you may just be curious about my experiences in the places I have lived. Whatever your interest, I wanted to give you a raw, honest, look at my feelings about living in Austin.

I have been very vocal about the fact that I am NOT a huge fan of living in Austin and it is temporary for me. SO here is my rationale for the opinion. I have decided that the best thing to do would be to organize this post by pros and cons of living in Austin. I want to provide things I like and things I dislike about Austin. Lastly, I want to preface this post by saying that everyone is different. I can’t tell you whether you can live in Austin or not. I do not know anything about you as a person. I can only give my experiences and thoughts based on my time here as a African-American female in her 20s. With that said, here are the things I like about Austin:

  1. There is so much to do in Austin – There are so many things to do here, that a 20 or 30 something will almost never be bored. If you are looking for fun, chances are you will find it easily in Austin whether you are a night-owl or a day adventurer. We host music festivals including ACL and SXSW each year. There are also countless happy hours, brunches, and live music events going on ALL THE TIME. Sixth street is a strip known for the variety of clubs, bars, music venues, and food that make Austin come alive on weekend evenings.  There are amazing activities and green spaces available for nature enthusiasts. From fishing to hiking, kayaking, and biking, a nature-lover will truly fall in love with all that Austin has to offer. There are lots of lakes, trails, green spaces, and parks in and around the city. Also,  I can literally wake up on a Saturday and google “things to do this weekend” and come up with an abundance of activity choices for myself.

2. Weather is amazing- I love living in places with warmer weather and so theres isn’t much to say here. I really enjoy the super long summers and short winters. I enjoy the abundance of sunny days and the fact that it is not quite as humid as Houston or other cities closer to coastlines.

3. People are friendly- I would say that of all the cities I have lived in, people are probably some of  the nicest in Austin. It can be super intimidating to move to a new city, not knowing anyone, going places alone, and trying to make friends, especially as a woman. People in Austin have been very kind and very friendly. That can be really hard to find in major cities. Austin is a mix of liberalism and a little bit of southern hospitality.

4. Austin is Beautiful – Simply put, Austin is very aesthetically pleasing. From the abundance of green spaces to the clean streets and hipster neighborhoods, Austin is adorable. I love that there are lots of places where you can simply take in the scenery and enjoy the views. Austin has lakes, rivers, rolling hills, adorable wineries, vintage shops, and all the “cute” stuff that tends to be fun to look at in addition to stunning landscapes.

Austin is clearly an awesome city with lots of potential to be an amazing place to live. Now, here are the things I do not like about living in Austin.

  1. Lack of culture (living in Austin while Black) – Austin is whitewashed, gentrified, hipster-land. Most of the people who live here are transplants from California  and other parts of the country. Austin is honestly just not culturally diverse enough. Yes, there is a large Latino population, not so large black population. The black population is also currently declining in Austin.  Additionally, there are not enough spaces where Black professionals (not college students) can enjoy diversity or familiarity in food options (think soul food, caribbean food, etc), music selections, or even just people that are of color. Austin is just not super inviting culturally for a young African-american working professional. There are spaces, but they are hard to come by and mostly cater to college students which brings me to number 2.Honestly, Im the only black person at my job and in most places I go which can sometimes attract those little things comments because of lack of education about black hair, lack of good black hair stylists, etc. Comment questions for more on this?

2. Austin is too college – With Texas State in San Marcos(about 30 miles away), University of Texas in Austin, and other surrounding colleges in the area, Austin can be very college sometimes. This means that students are everywhere and student culture is strong. It is hard to find a venue especially a bar where students do not go. This also makes some job markets a tad over saturated especially in the realm of what I would consider part time work or side jobs. Being 5 years post-grad, I don’t want to constantly be around college students in my apartment complex, at the bar, at restaurants, etc. I was once that age but I am not anymore and I would rather be around professionals in social settings.

3. Austin has way too much traffic- Because Austin is built around one major highway and is growing exponentially every day, there is a ridiculous amount of traffic on said highway. There is traffic almost every day of the week for most of the day. Traffic starts in the wee hours of the morning and depending on starting location, you can forget about getting to a downtown happy hour in a timely fashion. Parking and traffic are a nightmare. The city’s roads and highways literally cannot accommodate the amount of people moving to Austin. It is a very real problem and there is a lot of construction in progress to remedy the issue. However, that actually temporarily makes the problem worse because there is heavy traffic and ongoing construction on the only major highway in and out of the city. Yeah, what a mess!

4. Austin has a high cost of living and low salaries – Something that makes it really difficult to like Austin is that for my particular industry (education), the pay is very low considering that Austin is an expensive city. However, rental prices are high in Austin and surrounding areas. I don’t know if this is true for the pay of those in other industries. Rental prices are high because everyone is moving to Austin, the tech scene is booming, and the city is gaining popularity. If you are wanting to live in the actual city of Austin, 1000 a month really won’t get you that much as far as rent goes. Under $1000, apartments are tiny and lack modernization. You have the option of living outside the city but then you face traffic issues and longer commute times. Again, I can’t speak on too many other industries but education pay is low and cost of living is higher than in other areas of Texas or even other southern cities.

So there you have it…

This was my comprehensive opinion on living in Austin especially as a black female. Maybe you are looking to move here, already live here, have visited or are looking to visit. Please comment below and let me know what you think? What has your experience been living and working in Austin or even visiting?

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

SE Asia in Photos – Part 1

Everything Travel

These photos show my trip from Singapore to Siem Reap, Cambodia with my friend Kate. We had an amazing time, exploring the temples of Cambodia together including Angkor Wat (the largest religious monument in the world)! Look out for more photos and details from my trip to Southeast Asia.

Highlights

  • Events pictured took place over about 4-5 days
  • Landed in Singapore, spent a day touring downtown ( 10 hr layover was part of my flight from Houston to Bangkok ~980 USD when booked a month in advance)
  • Landed in Bangkok, spent a night in a small apartment style hotel (not pictured) ~25 USD per night
  • Landed in Siem Reap via AirAsia (Asia’s budget airline) (~60 USD!)
  • Stayed at Mad Monkey Hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia ~ 8 USD per night
  • Toured 3 temples in Cambodia ( about 30 USD for passes and 15 USD for all day tuk tuk ride from temple to temple)

What questions do you have about my trip? Comment below!

Belize in Photos

Everything Travel

Welcome to a journey in photos through my time in Belize, Central America. Enjoy. 

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Landed in Belize City. Took a 45 minute ferry to Caye Caulker for a quiet night on the island.

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Had a quesadilla and margarita at a local bar. Walked along the short stony beach on Caye Caulker Island. Plenty of small boats and local eats on Caye Caulker Island. Quiet, private, and slow. Next stop, San Pedro, La Isla Bonita.

Walked the streets of San Pedro island. 45 minutes from Caye Caulker, about 90 minutes by ferry from Belize City. Beautiful beach, local shops, local restaurants, bars, and beautiful artistic flare.

more local shops, school children, a Belizean chocolate shop, small city streets and the infamous golf carts, and views from my hostel.

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Me making new friends and letting those friends convince me to go on a private plane ride over the blue hole. If you have never heard of the blue hole, google it. You will def want that on your bucket list!

Thank you for the lovely memories and another amazing solo adventure, Belize.

Email me with questions, comments, anything.

See you in the friendly skies.

IG: Laceyalannam

SC: Laceyalanna

10 Ways to Save on Travel

Everything Travel

First and foremost let me say, I am ashamed and mortified of how long it took me to write this post. I have been wrapping up the school year (teacher life), TRAVELING (a week in the Dominican Republic, 4 days all over the east coast), and then interviewing for jobs. I’ve been super busy but I feel like a slightly horrible human being for making you guys wait so long with all the summer vacation plans waiting to be made. All that aside, I’m so excited to give you guys what you have been asking me for forever. Please read on to learn how you can save big money on travel allowing you to travel more often and have more money to splurge in the areas where you want to!

So these are just ten ways that I save money on travel expenses or spread out the cost allowing me to be able to travel multiple times a year. There are more but I wanted to get you guys these tips so that you can plan an amazing end of summer vacation that doesn’t completely ruin any budgeting you are attempting ( if you’re anything like me, attempting is the appropriate word here).

 1. Book airfare midweek and use tons of different tools to compare – I have found that if I sit down to look at flight prices on a Tuesday evening, I have much better chances of finding airfare in my budget than if I sit down when I have time on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night to book a flight. I’m not sure why, maybe because of web traffic but remember to always search flights at the beginning or middle of the week for the best prices possible. I always search flights for at least a week and a half span before purchasing to make sure I’m getting the best price (which also means I clear my web browsing history between searches. Flight prices shown increase  when sites notice that the same itinerary is being searched repeatedly.) Lastly, use tons of different tools to compare prices including direct airline websites. I use Expedia, Kayak, and Justfly. Once I price a flight on two to three of those sights, I also go directly to the carrier website to be sure that I’m not being charged an extra fee for using a third party site and that the deal I found is the best deal possible to fit my search criteria.

2. Be open about travel destinations when possible – Some of my best trips have been mostly to unintentional destinations. When I’m in the planning phases of making my vacay happen, I literally choose a budget and find accommodations and a destination that fits within that budget. I’m not usually too picky about where I go but I may have an idea of what my destination will be like i.e. warm, tropical, beaches, etc. I use a feature called explore on kayak.com to make this possible. I have included the link below. You put in the amount you want to spend on airfare, your home airport, the month & year or season and the feature shows you a map of all the places you can fly within that budget. Its amazing! I have booked two trips this way and had a great time in beautiful places.

https://www.kayak.com/explore/IAH

3. Be flexible about departure cities, times, etc. – So this one can be hard but when booking flights be flexible about departure airports. Sometimes it’s worth it to drive to an airport an hour away to get a cheaper fare. It is also worth it to take more days off work than you might need when possible so that you can make very flexible travel plans as far as times are concerned. Sometimes it is totally worth it and sometimes it is not so use your discretion there.

4. AirBNB vs Hotels – Don’t be afraid to stay in an AirBNB or hostel in your destination rather than a hotel! Some really decent spaces can be really inexpensive and allow you to do more such as cook in your living space and stay for an extended period of time at a great reduced rate.  When I went to Puerto Rico, I stayed in an amazing flat for like 250 for 4 or 5 nights and was able to refrigerate my snacks and lounge on the couch if I wanted to. I always go local because its cheaper and gives me the more authentic experience that I always look for.

5. Go Local! – I save money by going local. Buy some local food, cook in your hostel or flat, visit local bars for the cheapest drinks (with a friend of course), and stay away from resorts at all costs! I eat local street food and explore the city on foot whenever possible. I save a lot of money by being open to learning about a new culture and exploring and improvising where appropriate. Of course, if you are a solo traveler as I am most often, please please please use your best discretion when it comes to your own safety especially when traveling internationally.

6. Book in Advance! – I cannot stress this tip enough. I always always always book at least 2 to 3 months in advance when booking any vacation. That goes for flights and accommodations.  Flights are much much cheaper in advance as well as accommodations and some activities at your destination. This also gives me a chance to snoop around for flight deals for a few weeks before actually deciding on the best deal and purchasing my flight.

7. Travel on unpopular days – Flights and hotels/hostels are simply cheaper on weekdays especially midweek, so concentrate your travel around those days in the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, sometimes Thursday).

8. Never settle on the first deal – when you get to your destination and want to buy souvenirs, goods, local products you should never settle on the first offer. Look at almost everything as a negotiable when buying from street vendors or small shops so that you can get items for much less than sticker price. You would be surprised how low your vendor is often willing to go.

9. Research the economy of your destination – Before planning to go to a place, take a moment to look at the price of accommodations, activities, food and drinks in that location. I can have my heart set on going to Paris and buy a cheap flight only to discover that food and accommodations are extremely expensive and I have no idea how I’m going to manage within my budget once I arrive. It is important to research the economy, cost of lodging, cost of food, transportation, and other details BEFORE booking your flight. This has happened to me and I wasted 200 dollars on a flight because I could not afford to stay in the destination where I had booked the flight. That sucks…hard.

10. Lastly, Read and follow my blog and contact me for more! I am currently looking to help you plan your next trip so definitely shoot me a message!