It’s hard to believe that we’re already smack dab in the middle of 2015! In many ways, I feel like time has been flying, but in other ways, I feel like it’s standing still. Earlier this year, I launched my premier product, Time Card Express. Since then, business-wise, things have been a whirlwind, especially as I’m getting ready to launch another resource that’ll help people learn how to travel affordably without sacrificing luxury. While I love connecting with other travel bloggers here on the blog, through my business, I get so much joy from connecting with everyday travelers who are eager to discover ways to incorporate more travel into their lives without breaking the bank. Ultimately, I think that’s a desire we can all relate to – right?
On the other hand, time seems to be on pause – especially in terms of my own travel life. With the exception of a few much-needed weekend escapes to San Diego and Laguna Beach which I’ll be sharing more about soon, our travels so far this year have been non-existent, and it’s been driving me nuts. As Jave and I channel our time and finances into dreams outside of travel that we need to invest in so that we can fully live the life of our dreams (not just the travel life of our dreams), I’m finding that it’s somewhat difficult to strike a healthy balance.
As I continue to finalize the details of this year’s travel plans, I’ve been simultaneously creating a list of all the places we want to travel to in 2016. At the same time, there are many things that we need to take care of on the home front first – especially in terms of home improvements and really digging into our plans to move. More and more, it feels like travel is taking a backseat, and I’m really trying to make peace with that. I constantly remind myself that the lulls in our travel life will only be for a short time, and we’re ultimately setting ourselves up for a life of freedom, being on our own schedules, and a life of more travel! That dream is what keeps us pushing forward.
With that said, we do have a handful of destinations lined up for the rest of the year starting in September…
The Bay Area + More California
Living in L.A., you’d think that I’d make frequent trips to the Bay Area, but that’s just not the case. Since graduating from college back in 2001, I rarely return. Not because the Bay Area isn’t great, because it absolutely is! It’s just that I’ve been busy exploring other parts of California and other parts of the world. And the last time I was in the Bay Area with my friends, we didn’t even venture to San Francisco or to my old stomping grounds at Berkeley. So I’m super-duper excited to be headed back there with Jave this coming Labor Day. While I have a bit of business to take care of while there, we plan to spend the rest of our time getting lost in San Francisco and re-discovering Oakland and Berkeley before we head south to the Monterey Bay area for my goddaughter’s baptism. Truth be told, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea are probably my favorite places in California. I’m so excited about the entire trip! Throughout the year, I’ll also be digging deeper into my own backyard right here in SoCal including a summertime camping trip somewhere in the Central Coast.
It’s been nearly 28-years since my family and I left Panama. Twenty-eight years! And this fall, my family and I – complete with my parents and brother – will all be making the journey back together. It will be a full circle moment. It almost makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. Panama was such a sacred part of my childhood, and in many ways, I still consider it home. While we plan on discovering some new neighborhoods in Panama City and new parts of the country that we didn’t venture to while living there, we’ll also most definitely take a walk down memory lane by visiting the site of our old neighborhood, the ruins of Colón, and eating our weight in ceviche.
While growing up in Panama in the ‘80s at the height of the drug trade, traveling to Colombia was simply unthinkable. But Colombia has been cleaning up its act, and tourism to the country is picking up more and more. So we didn’t hesitate to incorporate Colombia into our travel plans this time around. We’ll be traveling to the beautiful Caribbean coastal cities of Santa Marta and colorful Cartagena along with Medellín, Bogotá, and Valle de Cocora where we’ll reconnect with nature by exploring coffee fincas and fields of wax palms. Colombia is one of my dream destinations, so I’m really looking forward to our time there!
Originally, our trip to South America was going to include Chile and a return trip to Brazil. And because my brother really wants to go to the Galápagos Islands, we added in Ecuador. But our original plans have changed as we won’t have time for Chile or a return to Brazil this time around (it really, really breaks my heart), but Ecuador is still in the mix. And while I initially had zero interest in Ecuador, and I mean zero, the more and more I research this country, the more and more I realize that it has the potential to become one of my favorite destinations. I’m really looking forward to exploring Quito, the Otavalo Market, the Avenue of Volcanoes, and of course, the Galápagos Islands. Adding the Galápagos to our plans ain’t cheap, but it’s definitely cheaper than it would be if we were traveling directly from L.A. to the Galápagos. So we may as well go while we’re in Ecuador – right? I’m not sure if we’ll have time, but I’d also LOVE to have a few days to explore Baños and Cuenca. We shall see…
Earlier this year, there was a major glitch fare on Etihad Airways for Dubai, South Africa, and certain other destinations, I believe. By the time I found out about it, the fare was gone. I was totally unbothered, because Dubai was never really a priority although it’s near the top of Jave’s wishlist. In any case, a few months after the glitch fare ended, my friend forwarded a Travelzoo deal for Emirates that I totally didn’t pay attention to in my own inbox. I immediately called Jave and told him that Emirates was offering a BOGO deal to Dubai. “Book it!” he said. And I did. And so we’re headed to the UAE in early December. We won’t be gone long – it’ll be a quick, weeklong jaunt to the Middle East. We’ll also be checking out Abu Dhabi. If we had more time, we definitely would’ve squeezed in a few nights in Oman as well, but we’ll just have to make due with Dubai and Abu Dhabi this time around. The more I research these destinations, the more I realize that we’re literally heading to a desert-Disneylandish oasis for adults and I’m thrilled!
A trip to Jamaica is loooooooooooooong overdue! I haven’t been since 2011, and Jave hasn’t been back since his best friend’s funeral in 2013, so it’ll be good to spend Christmas there with family and friends and bring in 2016 on the beach! This will be my first Christmas away from my parents (can you imagine?!), but I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas Jamaican style with a plate (or two, or three) of delicious curry goat and rice and peas. I consider Jamaica my second home, and I’m so happy to finally be going back. I used to go multiple times a year for about three years, but once Jave immigrated here, we decided to postpone trips to Jamaica so that we could pursue other destinations. Going forward, we plan to re-prioritize annual trips to Jamaica while still exploring other corners of the world. Return trips home will be especially important once we start a family of our own.