First Class - The World is your Oyster

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By Victoria Gaines - 

bacon enthusiast. queen of anxiety. rabid lover.

2018 is here! So where is your next trip? What countries have you visited? The world is your oyster -- as cliche as it sounds, it's very true. As a young girl growing up in a rural town I was always curious about the world and loved any type of road trip. I would hop in the truck with my dad or grandpa whenever I saw them grab their keys. After graduating from college, I took my first flight ever to Miami, then a couple years later I finally got my passport and I’ve been exploring the world ever since. I’ve learned so much from traveling. In each place, the incredible people, the rich history and culture, and the delicious food (can’t forget about the food) have all shaped my views of the world in some way. Below are just a few key things I’ve learned along the way from my traveling experiences.

It doesn’t hurt to learn a new language.

I took three years of Spanish in high school but I still only remember basic words and phrases. I wish I would have taken a class or two in college to become fluent. It amazes me how a lot of people in other countries are fluent in at least two languages. There’s also a chance English will be one of them. There are places where you may not have to open your Google Translate app at all, but then there may be places where you will be at a complete lost. While in Cuba I had a scary experience when trying to locate my friend in the airport. We were departing from different cities so we planned to meet at the airport at the currency exchange once we arrived. After a couple of hours of waiting I tried to ask around for help. It was difficult communicating since I knew very little Spanish. With no internet or phone service I was on the verge of freaking out because I had no idea where she was. But luckily I had a very nice cab driver who didn’t mind waiting and also helped me walk around both terminals until he found a woman that also looked like she might be lost. I know we are taught not to speak to strangers, but I’m so grateful he was there to help. Being able to communicate and connect with people in their own language can be such a heartwarming experience. So I encourage you to learn a little more about the language of the country you’re visiting instead of always depending on technology. Be open to meeting new people and engaging with the locals. You can also locate educational tours that will immerse you into the language and local culture. Are you up for the challenge?

Discover new foods

So don’t be one of those picky eaters when you’re in a new country. Try something new! Discovering new foods is such an amazing experience and you may even discover something you’ve eaten several times before with a totally new flavor. I’m a huge foodie so I’m always down to try the local cuisine. The most exotic food I’ve tried so far was a camel burger in Dubai. It was actually pretty tasty, but I did feel a tad bit guilty about eating camel meat.  

Another great experience to try is a cooking class. While in Cuba this past summer I learned about the different spices and herbs that goes into cooking an authentic Cuban meal. We also made a special mojito with honey and dark rum. We cooked so much food that we couldn’t eat it all. It was such a fun culinary experience to get a hands on demonstration with the cooking staff. I can’t wait to shake up a few special mojitos of my own for my dinner guests.

Take the scenic route.

Road trips can be fun if you have your essentials: good company and good music. It’s been a few years since I’ve driven anywhere further than 3 hours away, but I don’t mind long trips every now and then. It gives me time to think and to sing my heart out. I also like stopping in random cities. I took a road trip once from Texas to Nevada and I explored so many historical landmarks along the way such as the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and the historic Route 66. By the time I reached Vegas I was too tired to party and gamble! But it was worth it. I’m sure I’ll make my way back to Vegas, but this time I’m definitely flying.

Design the life you want

Struggling to find the balance between adulting and living the life you want? I know it can be draining, but it’s possible. I view traveling as a form of self-care so I do my best to incorporate travel plans into my schedule. Even if it’s just a long weekend trip, I have to get away. I bought a plane ticket to Athens, Greece nine months in advance; so yes, I’m a little obsessed with planning. But there have been times where I’ve bought a flight deal spontaneously because I just couldn’t pass on such a cheap deal. Travel doesn’t always have to be planned. Just pack your bags and go. I’ve had friends that have taken the leap of faith and quit their jobs to travel or relocated to another country to work, teach, and live. So whether you work a typical 9 to 5 or freelancing, it’s never too late to design the life you want. I’m sending good vibes your way as you plan your next adventure!