your travel horoscope: where to take your next trip

Hi loves! Got a case of wanderlust but don't know where to head next? Well look no further! Check your travel horoscope to find your perfect destination:

 photo credit, japan:  www.citycookie.co.uk  // photo credit, new zealand:  instagram.com/fearlessflashpacker

photo credit, japan: www.citycookie.co.uk // photo credit, new zealand: instagram.com/fearlessflashpacker

aries: japan & new zealand

Your energetic and ambitious nature means that you’re looking for an exciting destination that moves just as quickly as you do. You’re adventurous and brave, and you need to go someplace that can get your adrenaline pumping!

Visit Japan for the fast-paced city life in the capital, Tokyo, and get your adrenaline pumping on the world’s steepest rollercoaster or paragliding Mount Fuji. Or try visiting New Zealand, home to the adventure capital of the world where you can bungee jump, ski, surf, dive, and even jump off of the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere into downtown Auckland.

 

 photo credit, italy:  instagram.com/elitravelbug/  // photo credit, uae: Candi Hartman

photo credit, italy: instagram.com/elitravelbug/ // photo credit, uae: Candi Hartman

taurus: italy & the united arab emirates

You are dependable, reliable, and well-prepared, and you appreciate art, music, good food, and the finer things in life. Traveling to a classic, beautiful, and elegant destination is the way to go for you. 

Travel to Italy for incredible food, wine, art, and iconic sights like the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Statue of David, and Vatican City. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more out-of-the-box, try visiting Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. With its towering, futuristic skyscrapers, man-made beaches, and gorgeous mosques, the UAE is an incredible balance of classic and luxury.

 

 photo credit, indonesia:  instagram.com/thewildwildzest  // photo credit, greece: Gloria,  The Blog Abroad ,  instagram.com/glographics

photo credit, indonesia: instagram.com/thewildwildzest // photo credit, greece: Gloria, The Blog Abroadinstagram.com/glographics

gemini: indonesia & greece

You’re constantly looking for excitement, but the key to a good destination for you is duality that matches your personality. You need to visit someplace where you can explore the city and enjoy the nightlife, but also have a spot to unwind. 

Visit Bali, Indonesia for an exciting combination of incredible temples, markets, beaches, nightlife, and nature, all in a tropical destination. Or travel to Greece, where you can immerse yourself in history and explore the gorgeous islands during the day, and then dance the night away.

 

 photo credit, cyprus: Gloria,  The Blog Abroad ,  instagram.com/glographics  // photo credit, saint lucia:  roarloud.net

photo credit, cyprus: Gloria, The Blog Abroadinstagram.com/glographics // photo credit, saint lucia: roarloud.net

cancer: cyprus & saint lucia

You are sensitive, intuitive, and emotional, and your next trip should be a time for you to unwind and relax. Cancers thrive in the water, so you need a destination that lets you lounge at the beach in peace!

Cyprus is an island off the coast of Europe, home to adorable, colourful towns and inviting beaches. It’s not very popular with tourists yet, so make sure you go before it gets too crowded! For a truly beach-focused getaway, visit Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. This pristine, relaxing destination was made popular on Juan Pablo’s season of The Bachelor (and even though he wasn’t amazing, Saint Lucia sure looked like it was!)

 

 photo credit, spain:  www.citycookie.co.uk  // photo credit, egypt:  www.mylifeuntethered.com

photo credit, spain: www.citycookie.co.uk // photo credit, egypt: www.mylifeuntethered.com

leo: spain & egypt

Leo, you know that you’re royalty and adore traveling in style (hello, first class!). You want the biggest and the best, so make sure your next trip is to a bold destination that knows how to make you feel like a king or queen.

Travel to Spain to experience rich culture, amazing food (and sangria!) and to explore the streets of cities, like Barcelona and Granada, or take a luxury tour through Egypt to see the pyramids, soak up the sun at a resort by the Red Sea, and to experience legacy that the country’s royals left behind in ancient times.

 

 photo credits:  instagram.com/hailey_rch

virgo: france & israel

You are well-organized and a planner, always observing the world around you and taking in every little detail. Although you’re a planner, you also appreciate having brand-new experiences and learning about where you are. 

Take a classic trip through France to see the iconic sights of Paris, enjoy the countryside and French Rivera, and take a day trip to the luxurious neighboring country of Monaco. Or travel to Israel to explore, learn about its complex history and the religious significance it holds for so many people in the world.

 

 photo credit, croatia:  instagram.com/elitravelbug/  // photo credit, thailand: Sam Gross,  thereshegoesagain.org

photo credit, croatia: instagram.com/elitravelbug/ // photo credit, thailand: Sam Gross, thereshegoesagain.org

libra: croatia & thailand 

You thrive in the company of others, and are bright and intelligent. You are captivated by the beauty of art, music, and nature, and need to travel to destinations that give you a social experience while still being surrounded by beauty.

Try staying at a hostel in Croatia, where you can explore castles, churches, and the incredible coastline that so many travelers are dying to visit! Or take a trip to Thailand, where you can learn about Buddhism, visit temples and the famous Thai islands, bargain at the many markets, and enjoy the company of other travelers who are just as excited and amazed as you are.

 

 photo credit, tanzania:  http://amusedobserver.com/en  // photo credit, brazil:  instagram.com/thewildwildzest

photo credit, tanzania: http://amusedobserver.com/en // photo credit, brazil: instagram.com/thewildwildzest

scorpio: brazil & tanzania

You are bold, brave, adventurous, and always up for a challenge. You are passionate, determined, and resourceful, and can handle anything the world throws at you. Push your limits and travel to an exciting and unpredictable destination.

Travel to bright, bustling, busy Brazil to experience city life in Rio de Janeiro and try your hand at paragliding (if you're lucky, you may be there in time for Carnival!), or trek into the Amazon to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure experiencing the unique wildlife. If you’re a fan of nature, try traveling to Tanzania, where you can take a safari, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, or visit the gorgeous beaches of Zanzibar. No matter what, either destination will be sure to keep you on your toes!

 

 photo credit, mongolia: Danni Moody at Junkateer // photo credit, morocco: a capriciouscompass.com

photo credit, mongolia: Danni Moody at Junkateer // photo credit, morocco: acapriciouscompass.com

sagittarius: mongolia & morocco

You are a free-spirited explorer at heart, constantly willing to open yourself up to new cultures, experiences, and people. You’re the type of person who is constantly working to learn more and take in the world around you, and you enjoy the journey just as much as the final destination. 

The nomadic culture and sprawling landscapes of Mongolia are things you could fall in love with given your explorative nature. You could try spending the night in a yurt, or traditional tent to try something new and get immersed into local culture. If you’re looking for a destination that’s a bit less isolated, try visiting Morocco to experience bustling city life and and a culture with both European and Middle Eastern influences.

 

 photo credit, germany:  instagram.com/btzar/  // photo credit, china:  instagram.com/globaldegree /

photo credit, germany: instagram.com/btzar/ // photo credit, china: instagram.com/globaldegree/

capricorn: germany & china

You are driven, and your strong work ethic and organized nature mean that you’re a planner who enjoys taking well thought-out trips full of history and tradition. Travel to destinations that are rich in both.

Travel to Germany to learn about the country’s history and to visit historical churches, castles, and significant locations to the history of World War II, or maybe take part in the tradition of Oktoberfest! Take a trip to China to experience a country that is still very traditional, with many sights and buildings that date back to ancient times juxtaposed with its rapidly growing and very modern cities.

 

 photo credit, fiji:  instagram.com/jess_ismore/  // photo credit, south africa:  instagram.com/thewildwildzest

photo credit, fiji: instagram.com/jess_ismore/ // photo credit, south africa: instagram.com/thewildwildzest

aquarius: fiji & south africa

You are energetic, and you love to pack your schedule full when you’re traveling. You are very curious, compassionate, aware and conscious of the people and the world around you, so make sure you travel to places that spark your inquisitive nature. 

Travel to Fiji and stay in eco-friendly accommodation as you experience the incredible beaches and marine life as well as the kind local culture that the country is so well-loved for, or take a trip to South Africa to get your heart beating as you skydive, climb Table Mountain, explore Cape Town, and even swim with great white sharks!

 

pisces: bhutan & iceland

You are sensitive and comfortable within your emotions, and you have a desire to immerse yourself in order feel and experience things on a deeper level. Your next destination should be one that allows you to unplug and reconnect with yourself and the world around you. 

Travel to the tucked-away nation of Bhutan to experience a Buddhist country that very few tourists have ever visited and to truly get in touch with the local lifestyle, or if you’re more looking to connect with nature, try taking a trip to Iceland, where you can hike and explore the beautiful sights to your heart’s content.

 

I hope this gave you some travel inspo! Special thanks to the amazing communities of Girls LOVE Travel, Girls vs. Globe, and Global Degree for their amazing photo contributions and constant support. 

xoxo,

-Nish 

#mancrushmonday: andrew santos

Hi loves! Today I'd like to introduce you all to one very lucky fella. Last week, his life was completely changed when he was selected as the winner of this year's Global Degree contest. He leaves April 6th for an all-expenses paid trip to every single country in Europe, and I had the chance to get to know him a little bit better before his big departure! Check it out:

 A moment from Andrew's winning video!

A moment from Andrew's winning video!

Name: Andrew Santos

Age: 22

Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia

Current Location: Burnaby, British Columbia

Instagram: @andrewsantosmedia

What are four words you would use to describe yourself?

Adventurous, outgoing, ambitious, and creative.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a video game artist for Electronic Arts. I did a programming summer camp in Grade 8 and quickly realized it wasn't my thing. Shortly after that I fell in love with film and I've wanted to make videos for a living ever since. 

What have your experiences with traveling been so far?

I’ve been on a few family vacations here and there, the biggest one being a month in Europe traveling from London to Greece via Euro rail. I took my first solo trip to Bali, Indonesia for six weeks last year. It was amazing, I’ve always wanted to go on my own adventure and it definitely was an adventure! Traveling solo made me step out of my comfort zone and I made a ton of amazing new friends. It was a life changing experience and it's what got me hooked on travel! 

What are some of your favourite places you've been to?

Bali, Indonesia, Santorini, Greece, and finally Whistler, BC (in my own backyard!) which my all time favourite and my second home. 

What's the craziest thing that's ever happened to you abroad?

I got stopped on my scooter in Bali for not having an international drivers license, so I ended up bribing the police with $10. Although it’s a pretty common thing there, it ended up happening twice to me! 

 Andrew on his scooter in Bali (where he got stopped by the police twice!)

Andrew on his scooter in Bali (where he got stopped by the police twice!)

How did you hear about the Global Degree contest?

I first found out from watching Mike and Alex’s Facebook announcement that they filmed while parasailing in the Maldives. 

What made you decide to enter?

Traveling while making videos has always been something I wanted to do. I was working a regular 9-5 office job and felt really tied down. As soon as I found out about the contest, the travelling aspect sounded really appealing to me! Getting to work on video too is obviously a bonus! 

 Andrew relaxing in the beautiful Bali, Indonesia

Andrew relaxing in the beautiful Bali, Indonesia

How did you come up with your (hilarious!) video?

For some reason I’ve always wanted to do a parody of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I thought this contest would be an awesome opportunity to do it and help me stand out in a creative way. I’ve also done music videos for clients, so I knew I could do it well. 

What was your reaction when you found out you won?

Shocked. I still don’t think it’s fully hit me that in just a few days I’ll be leaving on a trip of a lifetime. I’ve also been overwhelmed with the support not only form my friends and family but other contest applicants who have congratulated me and are genuinely excited for me. I am so grateful. 

Which European destinations are you most excited about?

I’m Portuguese so I’ve always wanted to go back to Portugal. The last time I was there I was 7 years old. I’m also really looking forward to Croatia, Greece, Norway. I’m actually excited for every country cause any one of them could be my favourite! 

 Andrew living it up in Whistler, Canada

Andrew living it up in Whistler, Canada

What are three things you HAVE to bring on the trip with you?

My camera, laptop, and toothbrush. The camera to capture everything. Laptop to interact with the Global Degree community, something I want to do a lot of while on this trip. Toothbrush, well, just for good hygiene. 

How do you plan find a balance between creating content (taking photos and videos) and living in the moment and enjoying your experiences in Europe?

I’m not too sure yet, I guess I’ll find out through this trip! But now with technology being so advance I feel like it’s only getting easier and easier to be creating content while getting to enjoy the experience at the same time. Super curious to find out the answer this one out myself. 

What advice do you have for others about traveling or following their dreams?

Put yourself out there, you never know what could happen. Work hard at whatever you are passionate about and be the best at it. I enter a ton of online contests and competitions and have lost my fair share, the most important thing is to keep going! 

 Baby Andrew on his family trip to Santorini, Greece!

Baby Andrew on his family trip to Santorini, Greece!

rapid-fire questions!

Extra legroom or in-flight Wifi? Extra Legroom 

Skydive or SCUBA dive? Skydive

Night out or night in? Night out

What would your superpower be? Teleporting (Would save so much time!) 

Who would play you in a movie about your life? Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool was sick!)

Don't forget to follow Andrew on Instagram, and if you want to check out his winning video, you can do so here.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing week!

Love,

Nish

#womancrushwednesday: alexis rivard

Hi loves! I am so excited to introduce you all to one of my honorary big sisters, the amazing Alexis Rivard! Alexis is so kindhearted, open-minded, and supportive, and I hope you have just as much fun getting to know her as I did!

Name: Alexis Rivard

Age: 22                                                          

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Current Location: Ottawa, Canada

Blog: www.adventurousalexis.com

 

Sum up your adventures in four words.

Exciting, trying, life-changing and eye-opening. 

What are the top five places you have visited?

I'm going to cheat, sorry Nish! I've lived in two of these five and so I know them a little bit more intimately than your average traveller.

In no particular order: 

1. London, England. This is quite ironic, really, considering the first time I visited I absolutely hated the city. It's all about experiences though. Now it's one of my favourite cities in the world.

2. Tha Ton, Thailand. This small village is outside of Chiang Mai and has a river running through it that leads you to Chiang Rai and is worth a stay for at least a few days strictly for the calibre of the locals and how charming and lovely they are. Of course, the scenery helps too.

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Some of us might think it's all drugs and sex but there is so much more to the city than that. I definitely recommend visiting with a clear mind.

4. Tuscany, Italy. In 2013 I travelled through some small villages by car and stayed at peoples homes through AirBNB. I'll never forget looking over a field of sunflowers and eating figs off the tree for breakfast.

5. New York City, America. It's pretty cliche but I adored NYC. I'd go back in a heartbeat if it wasn't for the cost of it.  There is so much going on at all times of the day that it's hard not to love.

 A photo that Alexis took in London, England, one of her favourite cities!

A photo that Alexis took in London, England, one of her favourite cities!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A journalist. Radio to be exact. I had my entire life planned out by the time I was five, actually. It hasn't really gone to plan at all and for the best reasons!

Tell me a little-known fact about yourself!

I'm a martial artist - or at least I was. I want to pick it back up one day to get my black belt because I got pretty close but travel is my main focus now and it's hard to get into dojos (karate studios) when you're on the road although I did attend a Tae Kwan Do class in Stuttgart, Germany to counteract all the kebab I was eating there.

Tell me about one of your most memorable adventures!

It's hard to choose but in Chiang Mai I spent two weeks volunteering at Elephant  Nature Park. During my time there I not only got to see elephants up close and take care of them I actually knew that I had helped. I did something good for these beautiful creatures that had been hurt so badly because of tourism.

 Alexis volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Alexis volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand

What’s your guilty pleasure or "luxury item" while abroad?

I bring my laptop with me, not because I like the extra weight. For photos or writing, and with my upcoming trip, so I can edit and upload video. It's a luxury but it's necessary for me.

If you could go ANYWHERE, RIGHT NOW, where would you go and why?

Cape Town in South Africa. Well aside from the endless beauty in Cape Town there is just so much to do! Especially for an adventure traveller. I'd really like to do the Cape Camino at the start of my trip then try abseiling and finish off with a huge variety of water sports that are there. I've always wanted to try wind surfing and I've read it's a good spot for it. Plus South African wine is always a big plus for me!

What are your top three items on your bucket list?

Visit every UN country in the world, sky dive and meet Ellen DeGeneres. A girl can dream about the last one, hey?

 Amsterdam, The Netherlands: one of Alexis' top five destinations she's been to!

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: one of Alexis' top five destinations she's been to!

So you've found yourself in some pretty crazy circumstances-- like being in Thailand without any money (check out her blog to read all about this!). What advice do you have for travelers to handle scary situations?

Allow yourself to freak out at first after that you have to realize that it's solvable. Everything is always solvable. Once you know that you can figure out a solution and you will be perfectly fine. It doesn't hurt as well to ask for help from people too.

I've noticed a theme on your blog is looking past stereotypes (which is really really cool). How do you keep an open mind and why do you think this is important while traveling?

I hadn't actually realized that but it's nice to hear, thank you. I'm able to keep an open mind in part because of the way I was raised and also because I force myself to be educated about the plight of others. As I'm a fairly privileged person, it would be so easy for me to ignore it but I'm also a minority and have faced a lot of closed doors as a result, which never gets easier. I would hardly want to contribute to this in any way. In short, it's about being an active person - being aware isn't enough anymore. As far as travel is concerned, I believe that if you want to see more than what you know you have to be open to more whether it's food, people or experiences. At the end of the day, you are a foreigner in their country and it's only right to be open to the way they live because that country was made for them and you are there to learn about it. Unless you're willing to do these things, you might as well stay in your home forever.

If you could give a new traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?

Plan your travels as best you can but allow for spontaneity too.

 Alexis in Times Square, New York City

Alexis in Times Square, New York City

rapid fire questions!

Sand or snow? Sand.

Sky dive or SCUBA dive? Sky dive!

Spend the night in a tree house in the Amazon or a European castle? Tree house!

Hostel or hotel? Hostel. Definitely hostel.

Oktoberfest in Germany or Carnival in Brazil? Carnival! I've already been to Oktoberfest, actually.

Don't forget to check out Alexis' blog over at www.adventurousalexis.com to read all about her adventures!

Much love,

Nish

5 reasons why you should visit exmouth

Hi Loves!

In June, I was lucky enough to find this little hidden town tucked away in a far corner of Australia. Here's why you should make a trip out to Exmouth, Western Australia next time you're down under. 

1. Escape The Crowds

 The view from my apartment at the gorgeous Novotel Ningaloo Resort

The view from my apartment at the gorgeous Novotel Ningaloo Resort

Every time I need to explain where exactly Exmouth is, I'm reminded of this fact: Exmouth is not a huge tourist destination, and most people don't even know it exists (yet). Exmouth has a local population of 2,000 which reaches 6,000 at the most during peak season.

Since it's on the west coast, it isn't as easily reached as the usual destinations of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane (which makes it all the more worth the while!) Not many people get out to this part of the country, and the few people who do know about it tend to be Australian locals.

2. The Location

 Shot from the plane flying into Exmouth from Perth

Shot from the plane flying into Exmouth from Perth

Exmouth is located about an hour and a half's flight north of Perth, on the west coast of Australia. The weather stays in a nice 80-90 degree Fahrenheit range during most of the year during the day, meaning that it's always nice enough to be outside on the beach and if it's a little cooler, to check out the Cape Range National Park.

Exmouth is a nature lover's paradise, since it's in this wonderful position of having canyons and this amazing park which reaches out right to the water, where the Ningaloo Reef is located. Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringe reef in the world, and it's like the lesser known cousin of Cairns' Great Barrier Reef. Although the corals itself are much less colourful than on the Great Barrier Reef, the marine life is incredible (more on that later!)

3. The Road Trip

 In Coral Bay at the beach by the Coral Gardens reef formation

In Coral Bay at the beach by the Coral Gardens reef formation

Exmouth is about a two-hour drive from a cute town called Coral Bay, and the drive between the two takes you on a gorgeous trip through Cape Range National Park. Not only is the destination of Coral Bay a great little touristy area to spend a day or two in, the journey itself also lets you see some really neat things, like kangaroos, lots of sheep, and termite nests taller than you are (which can be enjoyed from a reasonable distance!)

On a side note, a couple of tips for this road trip: 

Tip #1: If you rent a car to do this drive, remember that they are not insured after 5pm due to kangaroo activity at dusk! 

Tip #2: If you take this side trip, it's a perfect opportunity to enter the Ningaloo Tourism Board's Photography Competition, where you can win up to $1000!

4. The Beaches

Clean, no crowds, cool sand, clear and warm water where you don't need a wetsuit, and calm lagoons created by Ningaloo Reef's fringing the coastline.

 Shot in Coral Bay while free diving the Coral Gardens

Shot in Coral Bay while free diving the Coral Gardens

Need I say more? 

5. The Marine Life 

 Taken on a GoPro Hero 3+ during my day with Three Islands

Taken on a GoPro Hero 3+ during my day with Three Islands

To be honest this was the entire reason I made the trek out to Western Australia. I took a whale shark trip with Three Islands and it just might have been the highlight of my life. The staff was so friendly and kept us entertained and well-fed in between shark swims. We were very well-informed of the marine park's regulations and our interactions with the sharks were not disruptive of the animals.

If you don't feel super confident snorkeling and swimming in open water, don't worry! There's a lagoon snorkel at the beginning of the day and they provide life jackets and noodles if you need them! I was lucky enough to see four whale sharks, as well as a hammerhead shark, dolphins, manta rays and a turtle the day I went out on the boat. 

Amazing marine life can be viewed year-round, with manta rays always in Coral Bay. Other large pelagics like whale sharks and mantas make an appearance in Exmouth during the winter, with humpbacks coming in the spring and turtles nesting in the summer and fall. Check out this nifty wildlife calendar for more information, but know that no matter when you go you're bound to be amazed!

 

Exmouth can be reached through flying to Perth and catching one of the two daily flights up to Learmonth Airport. If you have any questions about places to stay or things to do, please drop me a message on the "Contact" page! 

Much love!

-Nishaa

xoxo

mind the gap: things to think about before taking the year off

Hi Loves!

I know some of you are in that exciting time of year right now where you’re a senior in high school and considering what college to go to in the fall; and I know that decision is difficult enough on its own but I’m about to give you some insight on another option: a gap year.

A gap year is basically taking a year (or maybe just a semester) off between graduating high school and beginning college. Some people do it to take a breather because they’re feeling burnt out, some work, some do internships, some volunteer, and some travel. It’s the first time you have this much time to do anything you want to do, so the options are endless, and you don’t have to pick just one.

 The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria Australia

The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria Australia

The Good

When you take a year off, you’re actually at an advantage in the competitive job market and college admissions. It can show self-motivation, a global awareness, and you quite literally have a full year to do nothing but build up your resume and fill your life with experiences to discuss with potential employers and to build networking connections. Lots of people come to college having never worked a job, and you have the opportunity to come in with job experience and it’s worth considering a domestic or international internship.

You can work on yourself and you get the chance to mature. I made a conscious effort to do the things I was afraid of and be more adventurous, became more independent, and grew as a person through having to be responsible for myself and the decisions I made while traveling. When you’re doing things like navigating a public transportation system in Australia and you can’t use Google Maps, suddenly the idea of going off to school isn’t so intimidating. And after taking the year off, it becomes much clearer what you’re looking for in both a career and a college experience, and you will be much more well informed in making your decisions.

If you decide to volunteer during your gap year, you can do good in the world. You can work locally by volunteering in homeless shelters, or even at your old elementary school. which is what I did when I wasn’t abroad. You can also go to another country and volunteer, which I’ll touch on more in a bit.

 Pacific City, Oregon, United States

Pacific City, Oregon, United States

The Bad

The biggest problem with gap years happens when you have a lack of planning, which can lead to too much time on your hands. If you don’t make at least a few firm plans for your gap year, you can end up lounging around the house, sleeping until 2pm (which is totally okay every once in a while, don’t get me wrong!) and possibly even losing your motivation. There were definitely times last year where I would be super down, felt like an actual potato, and was worried about being able to go back into a school environment at all.

Which brings me to my next point, some aspects of starting college become more difficult. While you may be at an advantage, aspects of your social life may become harder. I just started my freshman year of college about a month and a half ago, and there are times where I can’t really connect to the people around me, because in taking the year off, I did a lot of the maturing and learning that people do during their first year of college (the crazy drinking? Not so appealing anymore!). I’ve found myself hanging out with a lot of upperclassmen even though I’m not technically older than my freshman class since I graduated at sixteen, and then took the time off, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because upperclassmen are a fun time.

 The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Queensland Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Queensland Australia


The Options

Working is a great option, and it’s what I did for a majority of my gap year. You can go into a mall and work retail, host or wait at a restaurant, work at a parent’s friend’s office, babysit, or nanny. When you don’t have to work around being in school, you have the chance to make WAY more money. When you’re going around from job interview to job interview, you learn about the best way to present yourself and what your strengths are, since you get asked ALL the time.

Interning is something interesting, which can be done locally or internationally. Personally, I decided to intern with a travel agency in my hometown, which allowed me to learn a lot more about the world, my own travel goals and also how to work efficiently with others. You can also intern abroad, which allows you to travel the world AND build your resume!

A Working Holiday does something similar to an internship abroad, and it’s not an option that a lot of people are familiar with. Australia and New Zealand have working holiday visas for U.S citizens between the ages of 18 and 30, where you get to work in the country for half the year, and then adventure and travel within the country with the money you made for half the year! Expect a lot more information about this since it’s my plan for after college.

Volunteering is also a great option, and so is Adventure Travel. You can do this through a tour group or company, like Rustic Pathways (which is the company I volunteered in Costa Rica through), or you can travel independently (which is what I did for Australia and New Zealand)! Rustic Pathways is super cool because they offer volunteer and adventure options for gap years, which can be found at http://gap.rusticpathways.com

 Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica (photo by Andrew Jenkins, sign by yours truly and the Rustic Pathways crew)

Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica (photo by Andrew Jenkins, sign by yours truly and the Rustic Pathways crew)

Tips

Have a plan and goals before you take your year off! This can help to combat that potato-ness that tends to happen sometimes. Even if you don’t have your entire year planned out day by day, you at least have things to look forward to and work towards.

Mix it up! You don’t have to pick just one of the things I listed above. Personally, I volunteered in Costa Rica, worked/interned/volunteered locally, went to Canada, worked, and finished things out in New Zealand and Australia on a solo trip.

Know where you want to grow. Consider the areas where you want to grow as a person. Maybe you want to be more independent, more adventurous, or more outgoing. Have a couple of goals and make choices to help you work towards those goals..

A gap year is amazing, but it isn’t the best option for everyone; make sure you feel that it is for you before you decide to do it!

And as always, if you need advice hit up that contact page!

Much love,

Nishaa

xoxo

 

liebester award

Big thank you to Jessica Elliot with How Dare She (howdareshe.org) for the nomination and sending me these fun questions!

What is your goal with blogging?

I’d like to be the youngest woman to visit every United Nation, which I know is quite the massive undertaking! My goal with this blog is to document my steps along the way, raise awareness of other countries; both their beauty and their social issues (specifically concentrated on women’s and children’s rights, education, and marine conservation), and encourage youth to travel and make a difference themselves through my project Making Waves. 

What is your second favorite place you’ve visited, and why isn’t it number one? 

I would definitely have to say the Maldives, which is only second to Western Australia (specifically Exmouth and Coral Bay)! Both places are hotspots for larger marine life like sharks, whales, and manta rays, and as a freediver and lover of all things beach and ocean, they’re exactly where I need to be. Western Australia is more for backpackers, whereas the Maldives is more for luxury travelers and honeymooners. While both places are isolated, the Maldives is much more so than Western Australia. I also really enjoyed making friends and connections in WA, which isn’t something I got to do in the Maldives because of the nature of accommodations.

How do you decide which boxes to check and what you’re ok with missing?

I’m really big on volunteering and doing good whenever I enter another country, so if I am lucky enough to get to volunteer that automatically takes priority over sightseeing.

Usually next on my priority list are beaches, dive sites and major landmarks, and I also like to ask my friends for food recommendations before I go someplace new. I’m very much all about making relationships and having interactions while abroad, so usually deciding which boxes to check and which ones to miss comes from talking to other people. A lot of the time you find out that something isn’t always worth the hype and then you save yourself a lot of time. 

Do you travel mostly solo or with a compatriot? What do you think are the pros and cons of it?

I’ve only traveled a couple of times solo and the rest of the time has been with family, and as of right now I prefer traveling solo out of those two options. I love the freedom that you have when you’re solo because you get to decide every aspect of your trip, and it’s also way easier to make friends. The only major drawback is the loneliness that you experience in that weird phase of your trip before meeting people. I have yet to travel with friends or companions that I’ve decided myself, though, so I don’t feel like I have a fully formed view of traveling with a companion yet.

What challenges you when it comes to traveling and blogging?

I’m still getting the hang of traveling WHILE blogging! It’s hard because I’m very much someone who lives in the moment and gets caught up in the experience of things—half the time I forget that I’ve got blog posts to write when I get back to my room and it doesn’t end up happening. So I’ll awkwardly be posting about my Australia and New Zealand trip three months after the fact. I’ve made a point of making little notes in my phone about things I may want to put into the blog, and that’s helped a lot.

What’s been a time traveling that you found yourself surprised?

The biggest things that I’m surprised by are my own strength and the kindness of others.  This probably sounds ridiculous but I kind of feel like a superhero version of myself when I travel. I’m much more likely to try new foods, adventure more, and go outside of my comfort zone—I got through a ropes course with no problem and literally jumped off of a 192 meter building last time I traveled!

When it comes to the kindness of others, I’ve always found that the world is a much nicer place than the media would like us to think. Of course there are issues everywhere you go, but as long as you’re respectful of people and the culture, locals are always incredibly friendly and helpful.

What is your approach to language when traveling?

Personally I’m obsessed with languages, so I could be a bit biased here. I think that it’s really important to have at least some basics in the local language when you’re traveling someplace. You’re the guest in their home, and I think it’s incredibly unfair to expect an entire country to accommodate to you and speak English rather than taking the time to learn simple things like “hello”, “goodbye”, “do you speak English” and “I don’t speak ____” in the local language. And it’s not too hard to learn the basics! You can do it on the plane/bus/train ride to your destination.

What’s your approach to photography when it comes to capturing the moment vs. experiencing the moment?

I’m big on experience first, photos second. Then again I’ve found that it’s not usually something I have to decide between and I can have it both ways. For me, it’s a matter of taking a deep breath and taking it all in before jumping to find the best angle for Insta.

Cost-aside, what would be your ideal 2 week trip?

I would LOVE to island hop the South Pacific and visit Vanuatu, Samoa, Palau, Kiribati and Micronesia by flying out of Auckland. Like I said, I’m a freediver and have an obsession with marine life, so these places are super high on my diving bucket list. They’re also among the least visited countries in the world and are practically untouched in terms of both their nature and their original cultures and traditions. I don’t know a lot about South Pacific culture so I think it’d be really fascinating. 

What is a time you’ve felt really proud (preferably about yourself)?

My very first trip without my family was with a volunteer group to Costa Rica, and unfortunately I got appendicitis while I was on that trip. I had to get my surgery done in Costa Rica without any family or friends with me, and unfortunately was also the victim of a violent crime on that trip as well. The entire experience and the time afterwards was the most terrifying in my life. To this day, I’m proud of myself for picking myself back up and seeing that the world still isn’t such a bad place, and continuing to travel.

If people only took a few nuggets of what you write, what would you hope it to be?

I hope there are students and young adults out there who read my blog and see that it’s okay to be brave, take that leap of faith, and go seize the world. Whether that be actual travel or asking someone out, applying for that job, or making that big move they’ve always wanted to make but have been afraid to. I hope I can show people that they can overcome obstacles and inspire people to do their one big thing.

 

the most amazing place you've never heard of

I felt the need to share this country with all of you as soon as possible, because with climate change and rising sea levels, it won't be around much longer.

Ever heard of The Maldives? 
Don't worry, most people haven't. In fact, it's not even on most maps.
 


Let's zoom in a little.
 

Here's Southeast Asia. The Maldives is a chain of islands located on the southwest coast of India, it should be in the bottom left corner of the above picture. See where all that ocean is? Yup, somewhere in there, that's The Maldives.

Even though it's not on a map, I think that everyone needs to visit this little treasure of a country. It's made up of about 1,200 islands, only one of which is inhabited by Maldives Islanders. There's 199 more that are home to resorts, and the other thousand are completely untouched. The bigger islands are bordered by rings of coral reef, creating beautiful dimensions of blue. When you're flying in from Europe or India, the beauty of The Maldives will take your breath away before your plane even lands at the airport on Male (pronounced Mah-lay).

 

#50shadesofblue

Once you arrive there's a pretty big selection of resorts ranging from about 300 to more than 800 dollars per night on the islands surrounding Male, as well as budget accommodations on the island capital. If you're staying on Male, it's important to remember that this is an Islamic country, and you should stay more covered to respect the locals and their beliefs. Indian rupees are also not allowed into the country, so make sure that you exchange them to US dollars (the currency used in The Maldives) before departing if you're coming in from India.

However, most people go for the resorts, reached by boat or seaplane, and opt for over-the-water bungalows or villas. When my family and I went in 2012, we decided to go for a "garden bungalow" at Kurumba, which was significantly less expensive. The best part? Even with this discounted room, it barely a minute to walk to the beach. 

The four days spent on Kurumba were pure bliss. 

This is the case with a few of the islands, but Kurumba is especially known for its shark population. Mother black tip reef sharks come to the calm lagoon surrounding the resort to give birth, meaning that there's a lot of baby sharks hanging out by the beach! Like this one, who we called Timothy, who had a brother named Jimothy (I know, super creative).

 

We also learned to stand-up paddle board while on the island, which cost about $30 per person including equipment rental for the day. However, the highlight of my time in The Maldives was the snorkel safari that my sister and I did (approximately $100 per person).

Snorkeling on the coral reefs that surrounded uninhabited islands was incredible. The water was crystal clear, and we were able to see the ocean floor. Clownfish, tangs, and sea anemones were abundant, and we were soon joined by turtles and three different species of sharks. Whenever I'd read about sharks being eight to ten feet, I never thought much of it. That seemed on the smaller side, especially compared to the sixteen and twenty feet great white and tiger sharks. Being in the water with these graceful, agile, powerful creatures that are twice your size is the most humbling experience, that I'll never be able to fully articulate. 

Growing up I was a huge nerd, especially when it came to the ocean. I've been dreaming of interacting with sharks in the wild ever since I was in kindergarten, and I'd always stood by the idea that sharks aren't vicious man-eaters. Not only was I able to live out my childhood dream on this trip, I've also been able to come back and talk to kids about the misconceptions about sharks. 

 

The Maldives sound pretty great, right? Well you'd better hurry and get down there since they won't be around much longer. 

This country is the world's lowest, with its highest point being seven feet and a majority of it sitting below sea level. As our climate changes and ocean levels rise, The Maldives are quickly sinking. It's estimated that this country will be completely underwater within the next fifteen years.

That seriously sucks. If you're like me and want to honeymoon here after getting married, you'd better put a ring on it really fast. Unless we seriously turn our actions around and combat the damage that we as humans have done to the environment, The Maldives won't be a place that our kids and grandchildren get to see. WE might not even be able to see it. It's easy to brush the idea of climate change under the rug, to think it's not a big deal, but we are drowning a beautiful and amazing country.

The Maldives are one of the last pristine, untouched places on earth where you can experience nature above and underwater first hand, and they hold a special place in my heart. I hope that every person who reads this is able to experience it. In the meantime, raise awareness! Talk to people about climate change and about The Maldives. 

 

If you'd like to get seriously involved, visit the "Making Waves" tab to learn more about my new campaign (more on that next time), and if you're planning a trip, feel free to get in touch with me for any questions!

Much love,

-Nishaa

xoxo