Journey with Jo

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

Monday, July 29, 2019

Hey travel family!

As you know, I take an overwhelming majority of the photos you see on my blog and on my Instagram all by myself. Last year, I shared a tripod/selfie stick I use in a previous post, but since then, ya girl has upgraded!!

Watch my video below to see the recommendations of the 3 tripods I typically carry with me. Here is also a direct link to YouTube.

The links to the products are inside my video, so please watch or open up a new window to find the direct links to buy any products you're interested in.

Drop a comment below if you have any other questions or if you decide to purchase!!

Monday, July 22, 2019

This past June, I decided on a whim to go on a cruise, all on my lonesome. I didn't have any summer plans set in stone and realized that I needed to get out of the country.

To maximize the amount of places I could see, I decided to search for a cruise. Now, to be very honest, I've never been a big fan of the sailing hotel. Having gone on 3 of them before, I'd always preferred trekking out on land and having the option to move how I wanted. And being that I do my trips a-la-alone, the price tag associated with going on a cruise solo was something I never wanted to dish out. I mean seriously, why charge someone double the price for going somewhere by themselves! If anything, being that much of a badass deserves a discount! Right???

But after doing some research and seeing that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), had special cabins (and rates) for solo travelers, and not having to pay for double occupancy, I just knew I had to try it out. 

I opted for the 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway, leaving out of Miami and sailing to Honduras, Belize, and two ports in Mexico. I specifically chose this itinerary, because I've never been to Honduras or Belize, so this was a great opportunity to do so. 

The thing that I, undoubtedly, am the most pleased about is the way Norwegian catered to solo travelers. Some of those things included:

1. Solo Studio Accommodations 
There is a certain section of the ship, that houses the Solo Studios. These cabins are specifically designed to lodge one person. Albeit smaller than a regular inside cabin, I did appreciate the window that was in the room. 

A tour of my solo cabin

I know a small room, without an ocean view isn't appeasing to most, but for me it was fine. I'm only in the room to sleep and bathe, so it didn't bother me to not have extra square feet to walk around.

Just enough space for me to sleep and get my nightly journaling in
2. Solo Lounge
At the end of the hallway, there was a lounge, specifically for solo guests. It was a chic, two floor getaway that came completed stocked each day with snacks, beverages, and a bar.

Snack & Beverage Station/Seating Area

Lower Level of Lounge

Our board for daily announcements/schedule of activities
There is also so nice seating area and a TV for use. I thought this was a really nice "extra" and I was able to meet different people while coming in from time to time to grab some snacks.

3. Solo Staff Member
In addition to the lounge, there was also a dedicated person from the entertainment staff who was assigned to the solo travelers for the week.

Each night, at 5:30PM, all the "solos" convened in our lounge to meet with Merlina, our wonderful host who hails from the lovely island of St. Lucia. At this time, she went over the most popular nightly activities, shows and events that were happening. What I loved about this was, it was not necessary for us to reserve seats for shows that required advance notice. All we had to do was tell Merlina, and she put our names on the list, without worry.

The solo gang with our lovely host, Merlina
This was also helpful, because it allowed for us "solos" to be sat with one another at these events. It was a real treat having her able to arrange that for us.

Additionally, after spending 30 minutes at our daily meetup, we all (those who wanted to) went to dinner with each other. It felt really good knowing that I wouldn't be at a dinner table alone each night. Now of course, I don't mind, and have done it dozens of times on my travels, but having the chance to sit with people, get to know their stories, and catch up on the day with each other was super refreshing.

Beyond the way Norwegian ensured the solos were well taken care of, all the other amenities of the ship were fantastic. There were top notch, Broadway shows each night, a comedy club, a casino that may or may not take all your money, and interactive events.

Speaking of interactive events, I even participated in a lip-sync battle.

I hope I made Whitney proud

Another dope thing was that I really made some great connections and met people from all over the world, literally. Amongst our solo group was a man from South Africa,, a female doctor from Miami, a woman from Botswana, a man from South Carolina, and two other women from New York (one from upstate and the other, the city).
My South African Buddy

Travel friends from South Carolina & Botswana
I also have to put it out there, and am very pleased, that all of the solo women in our group were beautiful, strong, talented, educated, Black Women. I truly believe the travel gods arranged that. That kind of thing doesn't happen a lot in the travel world.

Cheers to my solo friend for celebrating a milestone birthday on the ship!

Hanging out before dinner
These were honestly some of the kindest and funniest people I've ever met. I'm so thankful that this was my "crew" during this week and couldn't have hand picked a more eclectic, wholesome group of people to be around. 

If you're thinking about doing a cruise solo, I would highly encourage it. I am also putting a huge-superbig-shameless-plug to do it with Norwegian. I've not been on many other cruise lines, but from talking with avid cruisers and also from doing my research prior to making a choice, it seems like Norwegian has the game on lock when it comes to making a person traveling by themself, not seem by themself.

I know for some people, being alone isn't the easiest thing to do, especially on a cruise setting where everyone is either with their significant other or family. This is where I believe Norwegian sets themselves apart from others. You don't have to feel alone and can opt-in to spending time with new people that have also came with themselves only.

All in all, I had a fantastic week, filled with laughter, making friends, first time experiences (scuba diving anyone??), and the opportunity to see the world.

Treated myself to an all week spa pass was one of the greatest choice I made!
Driving a jeep in Mexico

A short snippet of my time Under De Sea

I hope this post inspires someone to take the leap and book that cruise, especially if you're someone that has thought about it. And if you haven't, you too, go ahead and do it! We have one life to live and missed opportunities don't have to be if you decide other wise!

Peace & Love Always!

P.S. Through this process I was able to connect with a lovely representation on NCL that can assist with getting the best rates. If you're interested in booking, reach out to me so I can connect you!

Monday, June 24, 2019

What a journey life has taken me since I've last posted on here!

Life, as it always does, dealt me with some of the highest and lowest of times, in the span of a few months, but one thing I always am is grateful. Grateful for everything I go through, because I know for a fact, it is for a reason.

As many of you have asked about, and seen, I've taken a substantial break from hitting the friendly skies. For me, a break is anything longer than two months (how blessed I am to be able to say that). Even though it's been a while, being still and not exploring the world has taught me a ton about myself.

1.) Local Journeys Count
During my time not being airborne, I was able to take a few trips, not too far from NYC. Prior this, I was always in the frame of mind that I had to get the passport stamped to feel like it was a true trip, but not anymore! 

Hitting the streets of Philly (a 90 min. drive from NYC)

Hiking the trails of Breakneck Ridge, in upstate NY
Not only is it better on my pockets to travel local, but I'm still able to immerse myself in what that city has to offer.

2.) The Real "Followers" Remain
There was a point and time that I was not posting any photos to my feed, let alone stories. I was living my life and Instagram, was honestly the furthest thing from my mind.

I think it's a good practice to step back and take social media detoxes, as you deem fit, because sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming and/or time consuming.

But the thing I noticed while I was gone, is that so many of y'all showed so much love. I had a crazy amount of DMs of people simply checking in. Simply to see how I was doing, asking if everything was OK, or inquiring about the next trip/blog post. You all had no idea how comforting it was to have that type of outreach. 

Such a nice message to wakeup to, in the midst of my hiatus
It's one thing to have people hit you up and show love everytime you post something or upload to your stories, but it's a whole nutha thang for you to get hit up when you're not posting a damn thang! Let that marinate...

3.) I Love Traveling
Now this one could quite possibly go without saying. You may be thinking, "Duh Jo, we know you love traveling, it's obvious." Yeah, that might be obvious, but as with most things that you love, you recognize its importance in your life when it's not there.

These past 9 months of not taking an epic journey has really solidified the presence that travel has in my life. If I don't know anything else, what I know for sure is that a definite void has been placed within me from not being abroad. 

This is a void, I now realize I absolutely cannot go without for a long period.

During this time I went the G-R-I-N-D. 

I became a whole professor and got a major upgrade in my status as a teacher to a K-5 math coach for my school. Professional growth is just as important to me as my personal one. Those goals couldn't be accomplished without me dedicating myself to my craft and spending time to hone my skills.

Again, know that the universe put me in this season for a reason, but what I also know is that with every season, lessons are taught and growth happens.

So with that being said, the journey shall be continuing and solo travel is back on the horizon in T-MINUS 5 DAYS :)