18 Ways To Stay Safe While Traveling (And Still Have a Kick-Ass Time!)

How To Stay Safe While Traveling and Still Have a Kick-Ass Time #travel #explore #wanderlust

“Aren’t you scared?”

How many times have you been asked that same question about your travels? I know some people get annoyed when their parents or loved ones try to deter them from exploring out of fear. Maybe they aren’t worried. The truth is, I can get quite scared when I travel, which is one of the reasons I do it. One way I avoid soul-crushing anxiety is by keeping myself prepared for the worst and being (slightly) vigilant. I’ve written briefly about the time these tour guides were trying to separate my friend and I in Thailand. Not saying I’m perfect, but I’ve definitely picked up a thing or two. As we say at my Alma Mater, “It ain’t my first rodeo.” Okay, they might say that elsewhere, but I can only speak to what I know.

The point is…

Over 98% of my travels have been perfectly safe, and plenty of explorers never have a bad experience. 

But there are some tips and tricks to the trade! This isn’t going a post regarding potential scams around the world, but rather specific concepts that come in handy when you’re alone or in an unfamiliar area. Having a wild trip doesn’t mean you have to get hurt or in trouble. Don’t get anything stolen, don’t end up in a hospital, and don’t get arrested. 

In Ghana, a group of us (five North Americans under 30) were hanging out in Cape Coast a little late at night. It was the night before President Mahama was to speak in the city, and the drumming ban was lifted. Down the street, people were partying like crazy and we wanted to join! Before we even got within 50 feet of the festivities, multiple children told us we should leave before we get robbed. Having lived in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, I knew better than to be hanging around in an area after I’m told not to. My best buddy on the trip, K, has also lived outside of D.C., and gave me the look. So, after collecting the valuables from one of our group mates, we started walking back to the hotel.

The difference between 7 p.m. in Cape Coast and 10:30 p.m. is vastly differently. People were smoking the ganja everywhere and believe me, I would’ve gladly joined if I hadn’t already been warned that pretty much only the legitimate gangstas smoke weed in parts of Ghana. Gun-toting, people snatching gangstas. And college kids at the University of Ghana.  And as soon as we pass the group, for the first time in my travels, someone grabbed my arm hard. I ripped my arm away and screamed, “NO TOUCHING! ANY OF YOU!” like a crazy lady. And continued to walk down the middle of the road. Because that’s how you keep people from f’king with you when y’all don’t have cash for a cab and have a mile until the hotel.

Within 15 minutes of us getting to the hotel, our group came back. They had been robbed.

Before You Arrive

Map Out the Embassy

Even if you aren’t visiting a capital city, you should consider finding the address of the embassy as well as the phone number. If your passport gets stolen and you don’t speak the local language, having the embassy number will be a major time-saver.

How To Safe While Traveling = Map Out Embassy

Read The News

With the internet giving us everything we need to know at the touch of a fingertip, it’s easy to stay up to date on local politics. Some things to be wary of are: protests, elections, important speakers, royalty’s birthdays, national holidays. You can still enjoy these aspects of travel, but from a well-informed distance.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Read The News #wanderlust #explore #tips

Get the Recommended Medicines

Getting yellowfever is no joke, not to mention they usually won’t even let you inside certain countries without the vaccine. Malaria medication is recommended to start prior to a trip and waiting to contract the disease will really give you something to bitch about.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Get Vaccinations

International Health Insurance

Just do it. My last policy was about $16.00 for a month of travel. Especially if you’re heading to a part of the world you’ve never been before, health insurance is a necessity. Something as simple as brushing your teeth with tainted water can put you in a hospital. Going somewhere with limited healthcare? Be sure to sign up for a contract that allows air-evacuation.

Sorry First Class, The Safest Seats Are In The Back

The chances of your plane going down are slim to none, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take extra precaution for that slim chance! Luckily, most airlines let you choose your seat before you arrive at the airport. Check out seat guru to ensure your seat isn’t too far from an exit window.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Sit In The Back #explore #tips

During Your Travels

Sit By a Window On Public Transport

Not only will you be able to take in the views, you’ll be more mobile than if you were squished in-between people. Being able to remove yourself from a tro-tro/tuk-tuk accident is a matter of life or death. Not having any luck finding one? Feign like you have motion sickness that will only be cured by watching out the window (LOL- I hate myself a little for this advice, but sheet we all gotta do what we all gotta do) and surely someone will remove themselves for you.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Sit By A Window On Public Transportation #tips

Keep Important Info Available

Your phone WILL eventually die. Even with those little battery packs, I’ve gotten stuck for 6-12 hours without my phone + notes +emails + maps. Write down on paper, yes REAL authentic paper, the address of your hotel and the number to get directions.

Stay Safe While Traveling - Write Important Info Down

Let Your People Know Exactly Where You Are

This is a pain in the ass, I know. But sending updates, multiple times a day, will be essentially to getting you safe if anything bad happens. And with all the options we have- call, Facetime, email, whatsapp, etc., there’s no excuse! Not only major destinations, but any national parks or day trips. Be sure to give clear, specific details and names of any person that joins you during your travels.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Keep In Touch #traveltips

Take Photos of Your Cab Drivers Info

Unfortunately, there have been incidents of fake taxis kidnapping or assaulting innocent passengers. Let ’em know you aren’t playing games by snapping a photo of what they are legally required to display. Anytime someone gets flustered, get a new ride. There are always plenty around.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Taxi Rules #explore #tips

Don’t Split Up!

LADIES- we all have urges that might feel uncontrollable, especially while on a grand adventure, but don’t leave your friends for the D! Showing up at an unknown location for a temporary romp is not only a serious safety hazard, but you could get lost trying to get back. If he/she wants you that bad, they can find a nice private hostel room near by (sorry mum).

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Stay Together

Listen to the Locals

If you are told that you are probably going to get robbed, you should leave. If you “have a feeling” you aren’t welcome there, you should leave. Your life is not worth a few Instagram pics to prove you did something wild!

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Listen to The Locals #explore #tips

“Lock” Your Door With A Door Stop Or A Chair

fF you aren’t expecting anyone during the night, take a little extra precaution and pack a door stop. Already traveling? Grab a chair (usually will have one in your hotel room and if in hostel, check the lobby) and nuzzle it under the door handle.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Lock Your Door

Walk Where You Will Be Seen By Most At Night

Realistically, if someone is planning on doing something sketchy, they will have seen you WAY before you see them. Hiding on the side-walk right next to alleyways is just silly. Walk in the middle of the road (until a car comes!) and assert your dominance.

how to stay safe while traveling - walk where you will be seen #travel #explore

Stagger-Walk in Groups

If it’s you and two friends walking down a dark street at night, consider staggering a few feet away from each other. No one needs to know who is on your side and who isn’t. Avoid huddling up and appearing small. When worse comes to worst, at least one of you will be able to scramble away to get help or swoop in to save the day.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Stagger Walk In Groups #travel #tips

If It’s About To Go Down…

Consider Your Defenses

Unless you’ve been trained to specifically defend yourself, chances are a man twice your size will probably be able to over-take you. Nail scissors are small but helpful in bus situations. My favorite weapon? My Go-Pro stick with Go-Pro attached. I’ll whack a mofo if I have to.
How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Consider Your Defenses #traveltips #explore

Act Batshit Crazy

No joke. Just start screaming and thrashing about. Not many people feel like dealing with a mentally unstable person, let alone one who seems to be expressing their illness. Throw in a little spittle at the mouth, just in case. I’ve used this while walking home alone in major U.S. cities and I have (yet) to be messed with.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Act Crazy #travel #explore

Play Possum

Okay just to verify, playing dead with bears only works in certain situations, like a mother protecting her young. I’m referring to dealing with an active shooter situation. Not a fan of sensationalizing tragedies so I won’t point to any specific events, but playing dead in a violent situation like a mass shooting isn’t a bad idea. While the first movement is ideally physically removing yourself, it’s always necessary to have a back-up plan in you get trapped.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Play Possum #traveltips #explore

Trust Your Instincts

There’s a good chance if you’re a traveler and you’re in a violent situation, you won’t be speaking the language of the perpetrator(s). Any time a group starts to gather, be aware of the aura of attitude. Just because you don’t understand what’s being said doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what’s going on. That physically draining gnawing at the gut you get? Listen to it.

How To Stay Safe While Traveling - Trust Your Instincts #travel #explore

Overall, use that lovely little brain you have and enjoy yourself. Hope this helps!

What To Do With Your Old Birch Boxes

 

Don't know what to do with your old but adorable #birchbox ? Look no further. || a tipsy gypsy life

“Ah, Birch Box. We’ve been friends for quite some time. You’ve introduced me to Coola, dry conditioner, and a host of other goodies. You always manage to be tastefully colorful and I can’t stand to throw you away, even after all of your presents have been depleted…”

Have you ever had this conversation with a handful of old Birch Boxes? They are so hard to throw away! Maybe I’m a hoarder (I’ve been told this once or twice), but I know I’m not the only one who keeps almost every Birch Box.  I suppose you could recycle, but I prefer to keep these cuties around in the following ways. Here are some of my favorite uses for old Birch Boxes.

 

Photos

It does take a little bit of effort to actually print pictures out, but having them on hand is necessary. I’m always worried my cloud will be altered and all my favorite pictures will be lost!

Thank You Cards and Stamps

Having your cards and stamps together saves a load of trouble- it took me two minutes to write my thank you cards for christmas and two weeks to finally remember to grab some stamps while out and about.

Memorabilia

Train tickets and boarding passes, graduation announcements, or festival wristbands- whatever floats your boat should be stored and easily accessible.

Desk Accessories

My favorite place to store pencils +erasers that won’t fit in my desktop pencil holder. Also great for paper clips, washi tape, and folder clips.

Business cards

The best part about traveling is meeting people and since I don’t have a facebook, often times my only hope is grabbing a business card. I have a collection of cards from all over the world.

Hair Ties and Rogue Bobby-Pins

Both a blessing and a curse, bobby-pins are here to stay in hair culture. Partner them up with your hair ties to create grab-n-go pairs for travels, exercise, or work.

Letters to Yourself

Sometimes we need a reality check that we can only get from ourselves. Write to yourself when you’re feeling feisty, sad, or a excited. You might surprise yourself.

 Costume Jewelry

Faux-gold bangles with nowhere to go, feathers for halloween, and cloth Mardi Gras masks have all found a home in a Birch Box.

 

What’s your favorite use for an old Birch Box? Do you throw them all away or hoard them all?

10 Shameless Ways to Stay Sane While Traveling

 

How to stay sane while traveling || a tipsy gypsy life #travel #happy

shamelessly sleeping in Jakarta

As my girl and I approach our 9th hour of a flight delay, we keep coming back to the fact that we aren’t that bothered by it. Not that I don’t want to be in Bali, trust me, I do. But there was a volcano that erupted ash so safe is always better than sorry, right? Enjoying yourself is a huge part of traveling and sometimes we get so caught up on checking of lists and whatnot that we don’t even enjoy ourselves. Here are my 10 tips on staying sane while traveling.

1) Slow Down

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to spend a whole day in your hotel/hostel reading and eating chocolate do it! Here are my favorite books for travel.

2) Ask Questions

People are so helpful when you’re sweet, so do it with a smile.

3) Take Care of Yourself 

Drink water, eat well, move your body. A mini workout in the morning does wonders. Simple as 30 squats, 20 push ups, 2- minute plank. You can do it!

4) Write Write Write!

Better to take your emotions out on your journal than a flight attendant, amiright?

5) Take a Train

This will force you to slow down and absorb your surroundings. Pop in some headphones, pour yourself some wine, and watch the world go by.

6) Keep in Touch with Friends and Family

We have email, texting, Skype, snapchat… No excuses, love!

7) Remember Why You’re There

Maybe you want to find yourself, see unique landscapes, or meet new people. But never forget your people are rooting for you to have the time of your life!

8) Treat People Like People

You know the friend that always bitches that people are rude to her? Then you watch, mortified as she snaps at a waiters? Don’t be dat gal.

9) Learn How To Say “Who Do I Need To Talk To…”

In a kind tone. This one is really tricky and it varies by culture. I’ve noticed in America, when an airport personnel tells you no, they usually just don’t have the authority to say yes. Something gentle like “I know you’re’ doing everything you can, and I appreciate it, do you know anyone around that might be able to help us further?” And if they’re hesitant, move to the next employee and repeat the question. Like I said- this can be tricky and seems to be mostly a way to deal with traveling in American.

10) Treat Yo-Self!

If you plan on backpacking in hostels, put aside a little money for a night in a decent hotel when you start feeling like a creature.

 

 

Overall, remember the only thing you can control is yourself. Don’t take everything so seriously, and enjoy the fact that you are doing something incredible!

 

Do you have any tips for staying sane while traveling? What are your favorite travel books?

 

10 Reasons You Must Visit St. Petersburg, Florida

10 Reasons You Must Visit St. Petersburg, #florida in #2016 #explore

You know the old tale where you search the world only to find out that what you were looking for was at home the whole time? That’s my hometown, Saint Petersburg, Florida. Locals lovingly refer to it as St. Pete or less often, the Dirty Burg. With beaches and cultural events galore, everyone finds a little slice of heaven here. Here are my top 10 reasons why you should visit St. Petersburg, Florida.

 

10. It’s the sunniest place in the world.

The city holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for most consecutive days of sunshine. Don’t forget your sunscreen! My favorite is Coola, get it here .

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Saint Petersburg #florida #explore

source: orbitz.com

9. It’s home to the most Dali pieces outside of Europe.

The Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg is filled with works from the genius. Not to mention the building itself is a work of art. Oh, and they do yoga on Sundays.

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit St. Pete || #explore

source: orbitz.com

8. It has 35 miles of beaches.

Whether you want seclusion (Sunset Beach) or a good time (Clearwater) you won’t be let down. The water temperature stays pretty warm year-round with a low of 62 F in the winter months.

10 Reasons You Must Visit St. Petersburg #Florida #explore || a tipsy gypsy life

7. It has killer views.

Need I say more?

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit St. Petersburg #florida

6. It’s home to one of the best flea markets in the U.S.

The motto is “If you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist,” and with over 2,000 vendors it rings true. this family-run business has been around since the 1960’s, and is open every Saturday and Sunday. Find out more about it here– Did I mention my grandparents started it?

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit St. Pete || #travel #explore

5. It has a theme park (with lions, gorillas, and more!)

Even if you aren’t too fond of the phenomenal roller coasters, the attraction is home to plenty of animals to catch your attention. Most of the animals, like the black rhino, are part of world-wide conservation efforts.

10 Reasons You Must Visit Saint Petersburg, #Florida- Did you know it holds the record for most consecutive days of sunshine? #explore

4. It’s great for quirky day trips.

Go hang out with mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs located a little over an hour north of St. Pete. Or drive on the iconic Sunshine Skyway bridge to the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

10 reasons you should visit St. Pete, Florida #wanderlust #explore

source: glenlakes.com

3. It’s a little bit historic.

Panfilo de Narvaez landed in the Jungle Prada area (the neighborhood I grew up in!) in 1528. And the first commercial flight was flown out of the St. Pete/Clearwater airport!

10 Reasons You Must Visit St. Petersburg #florida #explore

source: theclio.com

 

2. It’s (close) to the home of the 3rd largest parade in the U.S.

–Gasparilla! The day of pirating around the city and catching flying beads happens every year towards the end of January. This year it will be held on January 30th.

Saint Petersburg is well-known by Floridians. Read the 10 reasons why you must visit. || a tipsy gypsy life #explore #travel

 

1. It has one of the cutest hotels in the world.

The Don CeSar is one of the most pleasant buildings in the city. Most musicians will take the drive from Tampa to stay at the iconic hotel- Aerosmith was stayed at the suite I got for my graduation party the night before.

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit St. Pete #florida #travel

source: doncesar.com

 

Are you planning on visiting my hometown? Where is your favorite city in the U.S.? 

 

magnificent day & Weekend trips from St. Petersburg, FL #travel #explore #summer

Kick-Ass Mantras for Monday

Tomorrow is the FIRST Monday of 2016, and I don’t know about you but I’m ready to crush it. I feel the mantra thing, I really do. But something about repeating “I am enough” to myself as I’m being a lazy-ass isn’t  what I need at this point in my life. We’re young, able-bodied, and ready to conquer the world, right? This weeks’ theme is “hustle.” Here are a few motivational quotes to get you through the week.

 

Kickass #mantras for #monday || #positivity #quotes

“Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

7 Kick-ass #mantras for #monday || a tipsy gypsy life #positive #newyearnewme

“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

Kick-ass #mantras for #monday || a tipsy gypsy life #quotes

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

Kick-ass #mantras for #monday || a tipsy gypsy life

“You are only confined by the walls you build yourself.”

Kick-ass #mantra for #monday || a tipsy gypsy life #hustle #quote

“If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

Have a kick-ass week! What’s your favorite motivational quote?