Journey with Jo

Follow me as I blog about my various journeys across the globe, making budget travel look luxurious!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

As someone that's on the go quite often, I have a bunch of things I can't do without. As a seasoned traveler, these are some items I'll never leave home without.

Honorary Mention: My Passport
Not on my technical list (because when traveling domestically, it's not necessary), but it's def worth a mention. When you're country hopping, this little book is your only way in and only way out. Hence the reason it's so doggone important. 

When I'm on the road internationally, I always keep on the inside of the bag or purse I use when I'm in transit. I never take it out during my daily excursions, unless if absolutely necessary. That way I always know where it's at and it minimizes my freak out sessions trying to figure out it's location.

Now...on the actual list

1. Powerbank (Portable Charger)
Coming in as numero uno, this is an essential travel tool for when on the go. From updating social media, to texting with friends/family, and taking photos, I don't want to miss a beat when I'm out and about. Doing these things simultaneously is a drainer on this iPhone battery.

As someone that is often in foreign land solo, I can't and won't  risk having my phone dead. Not being able to use essential things such as WhatsApp or Google Maps is not an option for me. If you're a traveler or about to become one you better go ahead and get you one of these babies!

Check out this link for the powerbank that I use, which comes in different colors.

2. Baby Lips
I was debating whether or not to put this as number one, because this is one thing I truly cannot live without. Ever. EVER. (One of my students even got me a few of these as my Christmas gift, because he recognized the obsession was real).

This simple lip balm keeps my lips moisturized for hours on end and I love the subtle glisten it gives my lips. I also use it sometimes as a base for lipstick, which comes in handy when I'm using a matte one, because let's be real...matte gets super dry, super quick! (And if you know of a matte that doesn't, please drop a comment below and let a sista know!)

When traveling (and in normal life) I always have 1-3 of these babies in a bag, jacket, suitcase, pants pocket, etc. Because God forbid I loose one and don't have a backup!

Baby Lips comes in a variety of shades, but I use the "Quenched" one, because its clear and gets the job done. It's super cheap on Amazon ($1.99 as an add-on item), so check it out here!

3. Tripod/Selfie Stick
Being alone is not an excuse for me to get a dope picture. There are many times when I don't have the luxury of having someone take my photo. And to be honest, most times it's better I take it myself, because I know what I want/am looking for. 

Hereingoes....dun-dun-da-da...the tripod/selfie stick combo! I love this little tool, because not only can I mount my phone on here, but it also comes with a bluetooth remote for which I can snap, snap away. 

I scout a place I want to get the shot, place my phone on the mount, pose and click the remote hiding somewhere in my hand. It's super compact, lightweight and helps me to get the job done. I'm telling you, this makes traveling alone + capturing a great shot effortless!

If you want to use this stick with solely a cellphone, click this link for the one that I use.
If you have have a GoPro and want to use it interchangeably for that device and your cellphone, then this is the one that you need!

4. Sunglasses
Sunglasses are the one accessory I can't live without and its super simple why. 

I hate the sun being and my eyes, and I love the way I look in aviators (other shapes too, but the a-vee's are my fav). 

I got these pair from Aldo Shoes about 3 years ago (yes, I've held on to these for 3 whole years), but I tend to get all my others off the streets of NYC, where I can bargain for them.

5. Journal
There are many instances where I'll have some downtime while at a beach, restaurant, or waiting for a flight. For me, this is the perfect time to get my thoughts down on paper.

I enjoy being able to look back on my journeys to see what I was feeling, thinking, seeing, smelling when I was writing. It's a great way to get out what's on my mind and gives me memories to last forever. 

I tend to get my journals from Marshalls/TJ Maxx, because they have an assortment of them. It also takes way too long of a process, because there's so many to choose from and it's always hard for me to choose from all the pretty covers they have. 

** Undoubtedly, there are other things I travel with that make my life easier, but these 5 are my essentials and I'm never, ever leaving home without them.

What are some must haves you can't leave at home without when hitting the road?

Let's chat! Let me know below.
Another no-so-shamless plug for this tripod. Who needs a cameraman? Not me!
Location: Bali, Indonesia

Saturday, August 4, 2018

I can't believe I finally made it out here! China, I can say that I've touched your soil. Years prior, coming to China was a thought I could never fathom. Believe it or not, I used to be vehemently afraid to fly.!

One of my motivations for visiting Beijing...The Great Wall!
Welcome sign inside Beijing (PEK) airport
Growing up, I used to get panic attacks when I thought about flights. Yes, I've had my fair share of flights as a youth, but it was always a struggle. I always said if a flight was longer than 3 hours, then I couldn't do it. I made peace with myself at a young age that parts of the world was going to be off limits to me simply because of flight time. Fast forward many years later, and that time has absolutely no bearing to me on whether or not I will see a certain place.
Riding the subway in Beijing
I didn't have too many expectations prior to coming to China. The main reason for my coming here was as an entry point to Southeast Asia. I decided to go with Beijing, because I figure I could knockout the Great Wall since I'd be coming here.
Cute location right down the street from our AirBnb
Surprisingly (inset sarcasm) I stayed at an AirBnb, located in one of Beijing's residential areas. 
Nearby street in the neighborhood of which we stayed
Everything was fine with this place and our overall trip, until our last few hours in the country, when I was startled by a very disturbing message from our host. Long story short she didn't follow the proper measures to register us with the local authorities, and they found out we were staying there undocumented. 

We had to spend our last night at a local hotel (paid by the host) in order to avoid an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement. 

This situation was crazy, to say the least (and sounds much calmer here than what it actually was). It really put a damper on my last day, because half of it was spent dealing with this fiasco.

Another thing worth noting that any attention I've received while abroad was magnified times 1000 in this country, and it's undoubtedly because I'm black. I'm totally OK with garnering attention, after all, it happens frequently in my everyday life, but the one received here was on a whole other level.

For three days literally almost every person we passed did a double take, tried to sneak pictures of us, or outright asked to take a photo of or with us. Upon asking a local what they fascination with us was, we were told that many of the people (especially in the tourists areas) weren't natives of Beijing. A lot of them were on vacation as well, coming from various parts of the country. It was explained to us that many of these people have never seen people that looks like us, which is why they acted in that manner.

I totally get it. When you finally get to see something in person of which you've never seen before, it's fascinating. However, these people (overall) lacked a sort of couth about themselves. Pointing, laughing, subtle giggles and trying to hide behind others to sneak a snapshot...

It should also go with saying that there were some people that actually had manners and asked politely to take pictures with us.

But it was simply overwhelming at many points and times, to say the least but we made it through :)
Kalina taking a photo with locals
Because of the way our trip ended with the AirBnb fiasco and stared at (or dismissed) almost everywhere we went, made this trip simply OK. I'm more than glad that I came, because I got to see so many historically sights, but it's a place I'd be OK with not visiting again. There are other places in China on my list for sure and I'm certain that I will get there in the near future. 

Check out some photos below of my time in Beijing!
Yummy noodles I had for breakfast on Day 1
Outside the famous Tiananmen Square
Inside the Forbidden City
Just outside the Forbidden City

The ladies I traveled with
Sitting on the side of the Great Wall
Very nice young fellow we met from Hong Kong while climbing the wall

With our tour guide
One of the highlights of my time in Beijing: a tea ceremony
Have you been to Beijing? Any other parts of China? 
Have any desire to visit this country? 

Let me know below!