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Airplane Skin Regimen? Yes!

Kira West

An airplane skin care regimen is so necessary! I'm trying to keep the glow going as I touch down in a new destination.

I realized after my first long haul flight to Asia in January of this year that my skin suffers on long flights. Since I booked another trip to Thailand the following month I knew I had to figure something out. I have sensitive skin that tends to be oily. Usually it's all good since I've learned to manage my skin day to day. Somehow being on the plane at 30,000 feet messes it all up. The reason my skin doesn't react well to long flights is simple. Cabin air is extremely dry, the processed air on the plane lacks the humidity my skin is naturally used to. Since I committed to traveling often and love flying in general, I had to find a way to make flying work for my skin.  

I did a lot of research. I read articles and blogs. I took trips to Sephora, Caudalie and Kiehl's. Went to Target and Walgreens more times than I can count just to see what would work. Over the past few months I've tried several different products but I think I've finally figured out what works for me. I realized the key to keeping my skin clear and glowing after a long flight is to ensure my skin is prepared before the flight. I need to get it clean and really moisturized before flying and then maintain while on the plane. I also stopped wearing makeup when flying since that adds a whole new level of complexity. 

Here's my quick little routine before getting on the plane: It usually takes me 5 minutes at most!

First, I drink water. This seems to help me enjoy a more comfortable flight overall. Drinking water is essential for life in general but especially before a long flight. I try to drink at least 1 Liter in the few hours before a long flight. If my flight leaves at 9pm, I'll be drinking water all afternoon. 

Before I leave the office or my house to head to the airport I wash my face. if I can wash my face with my Clarisonic Mia 2  (which I love, love, love) I definitely will. It makes a big difference but if I'm not home I'll use the Foreo LUNA Play which is my new go-to for travel since it's both compact and easy to clean. Either one will get my face clean and ensure any makeup is taken off. Along with the above tools, I've been using the Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser for the past year and I LOVE it. I found it at my local drug store for $5.99, it's perfect because it does exactly what it says it will do. If I don't have time to fully wash my face because I'm running late for the flight and don't love airport restrooms I'll use a cleansing wipe or two. I'll usually use favorite cleansing wipe by Simple. There are so many brands of cleansing wipes out there but these remove makeup without being too harsh.  

simple cleansing wipe

After my skin is clean I'll spray with my favorite calming and moisturizing spray from Kiehl's. The Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist is the best! This stuff gives my skin so much life and always leaves it feeling a little more moisturized but still clean. I use this before makeup and in general just every day but especially before a flight. One or two quick spray's and I'm good to go. I will also use this through the flight and as soon as I touch down to keep the moisture going!

After letting my face air dry for a few minutes after the spray I'll put on a moisturizer. I always use something a bit more heavy duty than I would typically use day to day under makeup. My two favorites are the Kiehl's Skin Rescuer (conveniently already travel size) and the Jose Maran Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter with a few drops of pure argan, coconut or jojoba oil beforehand. Either one does it for me but If I'm in a rush, I usually opt for the Kiehl's since I can even put it on in my uber to the airport. 

So now I'm all set for the plane with my face clean and moisturized! Once I get on the plane depending on the length of the flight I'll need to reapply. I find that usually on shorter flights I'm good to go with a spritz of my Kiehl's spray at landing time. In my mind 4+ hours is long so on long flights I usually spritz of the Kiehl's Cactus Flower and add a little moisturizer every few hours. I tend to try to stay asleep on long flights so I'll do it whenever I'm awake!  I keep the Kiehl's products with me since I bought both travel size. 

Now with anything skincare or beauty, EVERYONE is different. This is what works for me and will likely work for someone else with sensitive, somewhat oily skin. I encourage you to figure out what will keep you glowing!

Before my last flight after making sure my skin was ready to go! Per usual i was rushing so the moisturizing happened in the Uber.

Before my last flight after making sure my skin was ready to go! Per usual i was rushing so the moisturizing happened in the Uber.

6 Tips for Working Out on Trips

Stephanie Emenyonu

While many people view vacations as a time strictly for relaxing and taking part in no physical activity (no shame), some, including myself, find exercising relaxing, fun and a great addition to trips.

I recently went to Palo Alto, California to visit some family and found that taking a little bit of time to exercise during the trip was the best thing for me. I know there are many constraints on working out during travel that make exercising unappealing. So here are 6 tips to help you plan and be motivated to workout during extended trips.


1. Strategic Packing

A major hassle of working out during travel is packing workout gear to begin with. However, it might not be as complicated or weighty as you think. During your location research factor in the climate and environment in relation to exercising. You may realize that you do not need some items after a little investigation (e.g. if you are going to a beach, you may not need hefty sneakers because you can workout barefoot in the sand).

2. Apps Can Save the Day

Often times figuring out the types of workouts that can even be done where you’re going can be difficult. You may not be able to tell about the structure of the area or the space you will have just based on the internet. To help, download apps like the Nike+ Training App to generate workouts for you and keep track of your progress. This way, you don’t have to do too much planning and can limit your excuses for not exercising.

3. Friends Who Travel Together Workout Together

While we don’t always have control over this, your travel partners can really determine your workout schedule during the trip. Take advantage of exploring the terrain by going on long walks/jogs together or even just attempting a mini workout to see if it is something you’d like to do throughout the trip.

giphy (16).gif

4. Scenery Can Be Key🔑

Research some of the most visually stunning open areas of your travel location and opt to do a run, walk or even HIIT workout there. While exercise is stressful (but good stressful), being in a beautiful location can be motivation to take in the gorgeous scenery while elevating your heart rate.

6 tips for working out when traveling!

5. Simple Workouts

If getting an App does not work for you, opt to look for simple workouts beforehand. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest have great ideas for exercise routines and repetitions that are simple and to the point.

6. Use (Inexpensive) Items Around You as Equipment

For those who like to use equipment, you can utilize everyday objects around you as workout items. Using a countertop for tricep pushups or a wall for wall-sits is a great way to take advantage of your space both during travel and even at home.

Images: Giphy

Gabby's Guide to Cartagena: Day 1

Gabrielle Hickmon

Since I am unable to sit still, I convinced my friends Ash and Des to skip class and go on a girls trip to Cartagena, Colombia this March. (Yes, I am aware that it's May. Life be lifeing. School be schooling. Y'all gone get this guide anyway). We had an AMAZING time and Cartagena is one of those places I wouldn't mind going back to - which says a lot because there aren't many places I want to go twice. We were there for five days and for sure maximized our time. Read on for all the glorious deets, tips, tricks, and recommendations! 

Day 1

Upon landing and getting our luggage, we took a taxi to our hotel. Shoutout to Kira for hooking a sister up with the Hilton, a place I would highly recommend as it was lit. You can absolutely take a taxi from the airport to your hotel or Airbnb. I would just advise having the address/location screen shotted in your phone to show to the driver. Upon checking in and getting cute, we set out for the first day of our Colombian adventure. 

Our wanderings took us to Old City, which is the part of Cartagena that was occupied by the Spanish during the colonial era. There we simply wandered around and took in the sites. Old City is extremely vibrant. It seemed like every wall was painted some beautiful color and popped out at you while walking by. The balconies were overflowing with flowers and you could tell the area was "alive." 


I always try to do some research before going on a trip so I knew I needed to go to the Plaza Santo Domingo while in Old City to see one of the churches and a famous sculpture, Gertrudis, a large, plump, naked woman, done by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. From there we headed to La Cevicheria for the best ceviche I've ever had. It was better than the ceviche in Peru and Spain. It was delish. When you go there, order the shrimp ceviche, with plantain chips on the side and thank me later. 

Post food, we wandered into a bar across the street to watch a football (soccer match) where I promptly fell asleep which was clearly a symbol it was time to head home. We left the hotel and decided to get in the hot tub before dinner. You know, relaxing without napping. 


Day 1 takeaways: 

- You can take a taxi from the airport no problem. No need to pre-arrange pick up unless where you're staying offers it for free. 
- Hit Old City the first day. It's chill and will give you a good first look at Cartagena. 
- La Cevichera is a must eat spot. 
- Change money at the airport. I only changed about $200 USD to Colombia Pesos and the cash lasted until the third day of the trip. You'll need the cash for cabs and any street purchases. 
- Take your time. Cartagena is a city best explored slowly.
- Be prepared to speak Spanish or have something available to translate. 

GGTCartagena Day 2 coming to you next week! 

12 Hours in Cape Town

Kira West

When a good friend of mine, Korey got the job he had been working toward in South Africa I was all about visiting. You have friends who say they'll visit and then friends that actually follow through. I've always been the follow through friend.

As the follow through friend, I booked a 4 day trip to Johannesburg with a lovely day layover in Zurich. I'm a sucker for day long layovers, especially in Europe since the city center is usually a short train ride away. With a long layover during the day it's like you get two trips for the price of one! But, back to Africa, I booked my round trip out of Johannesburg since I got a good deal and that's where most of my trip was planned. After buying the flight and doing further research I realized Cape Town is a must see and determined to get a taste of Cape Town if nothing more. I mean, how many more times in this lifetime would I pop over to South Africa? 

Turns out there are flights several times a day between the two major cities and the price was about $100 round trip. Fly out early morning and fly back late evening, simple enough. One Hundred Dollars is reasonable but if you're going to spend just one day in Cape Town, how do you make the most of it? Wandering around on your own is great but without a car and with limited knowledge of the city probably not the best way to maximize time. I looked at a handful of group tours but none of them were as comprehensive as I had imagined. I found a few that would be great if combined so I started looking into private tours and made a list of the places I wanted to see. I made a list of the places I wanted to go and started emailing private tour companies. The company I was originally interested in was committed on the one day we were there  so they referred me to PG Tops Travel and Day Tours. For about $300 Or R4,000 two people got a good taste of Cape Town. 

We got in around 7am on a Monday morning and hit the ground running with our guide picking us up at the Airport. Where did we go? Everywhere.

Top of Table Mountain: The view from the top was worth the little line we waited on and the short cable ride up. Good thing we came on a day with lower winds and some sun! 

Top of Table Mountain

Top of Table Mountain

Quick City Sites: Since we had packed a lot into the day we did a quick tour of the city seeing the highlights by car. Great little markets and some cool architecture. I'd have done a walking tour of the city or just wandered around if we had more time.

Bo-Kaap: We stopped to walk through the streets of Bo-Kaap on our way out of the city after the quick city tour. This area of Cape Town is well known for it's brightly colored houses and historical ties to Cape Malay culture. Before getting on the road we stopped for quick bites at Biesmellah Malay Restaurant (AMAZING samosas & baked goods). 



The Drive out to the Cape of Good Hope: We drove along the coast for most of our ride and it was breathtaking. We stopped at various points along the way to take a quick walk, take a few pictures and just enjoy the moments. This reminded me of walking along the coastal areas of Australia. Great views!


Boulders Beach & Penguin Colony: There are quite a lot of penguins as you walk through the colony. It's great but a bit touristy so there's also a little beach nearby where you can get up close and personal (not too close though, they're wild). There is also a cute little ice cream shop in Simons Town nearby with unique flavors and good coffee. 

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach

Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point: Table Mountain National Park was the main attraction of our drive. The Cape of Good Hope is a part of the larger park with tons of outdoor fun for anyone into hiking or wildlife. The views are beautiful! At one point in time Cape Point was thought to be the southern tip of Africa but science later proved this untrue. It was super windy near Cape Point so I'm glad I bought a light jacket.

Cape Point

I would go back to Cape Town in a heartbeat and spend more time exploring but you would be surprised by how much you can see in just one day! 

    Domestic Travel: Santa Catalina Island

    Stephanie Emenyonu

    Last spring break, my friend Tailour and I ventured to Santa Catalina Island for an impromptu adventure. Catalina is a Californian island located off the coast (~1 hour ferry ride depending on your location in CA). There are 2 tourist locations on the island- Avalon in the south and Two Harbors in the north. We chose to try our luck in Two Harbors, the more secluded and nature-oriented side of the island.

    Our bed-and-breakfast was equipped with gorgeous ocean view rooms. It was located on one of the highest points in Two Harbors, so we could see the ocean from all our doors and windows. The vegetation was stunning as a mix of natural shrubbery, palm trees and decadent flowers coated the island. Because there was such a small local population, we could take in the peaceful and meditative surroundings with minimal distractions.



    1. Relaxing on the beach

    The beach was small but had plenty of room for laying out some blankets, throwing on sunglasses and basking in the sun. There was also a built in volleyball net for impromptu games with other islanders/tourists. Canoeing was on our bucket list of things to do while there, however, we could not go because of high wind speeds. Yet, the gentle waves and the majestic caves laced along the shoreline would have made the canoeing trip an amazing addition to our spring break adventure.

    2. Hiking

    We definitely took advantage of the hiking trails all along the mountains of Two Harbors. As a not-so-seasoned hiker, I found the trail easy with breathtaking views. As the elevation slightly rose while we walked, we could see stunning portions of the island that were inaccessible. Hiking was also a great opportunity to bond as we celebrated the fact that we were able to make our senior year spring break trip a reality.

    3. Cozy night life

    There is one restaurant in Two Harbors called the Harbor Reef. It had a romantic and relaxing vibe as all the visitors came to eat there at dinner time. After dinner, we explored more of the island along the long trails through the valley before sunset.

    Santa Catalina Island is a great location for anyone looking to travel within the U.S. on a budget. My main tip would be to figure out which side of the island (north or south) is best for you and/or your travel group. Also, look on Groupon for deals on island activities (that is where we found discounts for canoeing- thanks Tailour's mom!). Overall, the trip to Two Harbors was perfect for small group bonding and peaceful meditation and reflection.

    Photo & Video source: Tailour Garbutt

    Peace, Love, and Flights

    Kira West

    Whenever I'm stressed out, a little bored or just looking for a new adventure I end up looking for flights. Some people meditate (which I do on occasion) but more regularly I search. For me it has almost become a game, knowing that if I can fit the puzzle pieces together, I can get a better deal. For me, the promise of new adventure can somehow be calming. Thinking back to where this all started, I have to give my Stepmom, Genene credit since I was raised by the trip going Deal Goddess herself. 

    Anyway, when I'm searching it's always helpful to have the right tools. I really couldn't live without the following Apps and Websites. People always ask me how I find the deals and honestly, I don't always find the deals sometimes the deals find me. 

    The Flight Deal & Secret Flying: Both sites tweet flight deals and there's a handful of deals every day. The Flight Deal focuses on major US airports while Secret Flying gives you deals throughout the world. I rarely ever use the desktop sites but I follow both on twitter and have alerts set up so that I get all the deals. I'd rather scroll through more notifications than miss a good deal!

    Skyscanner: If I had to choose a favorite, this would be it. I've never used it for hotels or car rentals but for flights it's the best! The explore feature is so much fun. You can choose to “explore” and literally search from your home airport to EVERYWHERE. You can narrow the search by time of year, month or even weekend to find the best deals. Skyscanner lets you track flights and sometimes you'll find deals via Skyscanner hours before they're listed by any flight deal website. Google Flights has similar features but I find Skyscanner to be a bit easier to use and overall a bit more intuitive.

    Hopper: If you have a specific destination in mind and some time before the trip Hopper has helpful insight that will tell you when to buy. While I would love to buy every good flight I see, sometimes you just can't. Hopper will tell you if flight prices are predicted to go down up or stay flat and can also give you a good idea of the average flight price. While the lowest fares they list never seem to be the lowest (thank you Skyscanner), the trends are usually on point and give a little more perspective to the deals.

    A few words of advice coming from someone who has missed a few good deals. If you have the money in the bank, can get the time off of work or school and see a deal that's really good...BOOK IT!  Most companies give you 24 hours to cancel so that's a whole day to think deeply about it.

    Peace, Love, and Flights!

    Gabby's Guide to Costa Rica

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Tamarindo Playa, Costa Rica

    Tamarindo Playa, Costa Rica

    You ever take a trip that's exactly what you needed at exactly the right time? That's what my Thanksgiving vacation to Costa Rica last year was. I know it's 2017 now, but y'all gone get these pictures and commentary anyway. 

    I've always said and will forever say that I am my best self when I'm traveling, forced out of my element, exploring and experiencing life in a place and way that is different from mine. I can just think clearer, hear my voice better, and take the world in deeper.  This was the first international trip I took purely for tourism since before going to Cornell so the experience was an adjustment, but amazing nonetheless. 

    View from the Hilton Panama roof. 

    View from the Hilton Panama roof. 


    The trip started with an overnight layover in Panama City, Panama. Thanks to my lovely linesister, we stayed at the Hilton Panama, which was probably one of the nicest hotels I've stayed at when not in the U.S. Our room had a gorgeous view of the water and great lighting for selfies. I arrived hours before everyone else because I booked my flights late, so had some time to chill and just take in being away. After getting cute and meeting my friends + LS, we went to dinner at LAZOTEA, a roof top restaurant, again with a view of the water. Uber works in Panama City so we Ubered there and Ubered back. Look at God and modern technology. 

    The next day we caught our flight from Panama City, Panama to Liberia, Costa Rica. Once we landed in Liberia and got through immigration, we took about a two hour van ride to Tamarindo Playa (Beach), Costa Rica where we were staying and the vacation really began!


    There days were spent at the beach, napping in our hotel room, laying out by the pool, and drinking shots of Tequila and margaritas by the hotel bar! We were actually there during Hurricane Otto so when it wasn't raining, we were making sure to capture the suns rays and take them in as our own. 

    Costa Rica is also a great place to go adventuring. For us, this looked like a zip lining, horseback riding, mud-bathing, hot springs day and a sunset boat cruise. I would advise against booking your activities ahead of time unless you know for sure you'll be able to cancel them if you find a cheaper deal in-country. This happened to us with our adventure day and luckily we were able to cancel our previously booked tour and find something with the same excursions for less upon arrival in country. Just have in mind what you want to do and book it when you get there. That's a tip from me to you!

    All in all, Costa Rica was an amazing trip and great country to start my third set of 10. 30 before 30, here I come. Colombia, you're up next! (I'll try to be quicker with that post too. LOL).


    Travel in Style

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    One of my favorite things to do before a trip is outfit plan. I think outside of the actual traveling part, serving looks while on vacation is my favorite part of any trip honestly. Below you'll find some of my favorite brands to hit in general, but especially before a trip (domestic or international). 

    Shop AU

    Shop AU is run by one of my favorite creatives, Asiyami Gold. The current collection was inspired by her time in Oaxaca, Mexico. I definitely have the straw bag in the picture on the right and am scheming on one of the off the shoulder tops too. 


    One night, when I couldn't sleep and was scrolling through my Instagram explore page, I came across LLULO's Instagram and was captivated by the swimsuit you see below. So of course I copped for my trip to Costa Rica. LLULO creates "original products that are culturally infused to help you stand out." Go support.  

    Apolis Global

    Apolis Global is a company that sells many things, the most famous of which is probably their market bags. You can buy a bag that has your neighborhood, state and country making it a fun way to truly be hardly home but always reppin. 

    Loza Maléombho

    Deep Instagram scrolling also led me to the work of Loza Maléombho. I copped some shoes and the rest is history. I took them with me to Costa Rica, but to no fault of the shoes, none of those pictures are cute enough to make the blog. Nevertheless, you want a pair of these sandals in your carry-on for your next trip to the beach or any warm climate. 

    Cult Gaia

    Apparently this bag has garnered a cult following, which now includes me as its latest member. After having my eye on this bag for a while, buying a few flights within the last week gave me just the reason I needed to bite the bullet and purchase it. Can't wait to style it on my next trip!

    Res Ipsa

    Buy me a pair of loafers and a bag so I know it's real. Res Ipsa is a company founded by two lawyers and the brand is travel. "The thing speaks for itself," something each of their vibrant products surely does. 


    AAKS is another company I discovered by lurking on Instagram pages weeks back at a time. Founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi with the goal of introducing the world to Ghanaian weaving techniques while also creating sustainable jobs in Africa, AAKS is a brand with gorgeous products and a mission we love. The Pissie Tassel bag will be mine. Just wait on it. 


    RiotSwim is a company I literally just discovered last night when a friend DMed me the link to their site after tweeting that I needed a new site for swimwear. Needless to say I already copped a suit and can't wait to break it out on my next trip. It's Sexier When You Riot and I love the minimalist design of their swimsuits. 

    Some other more mainstream favorites: ASOS for swimsuits + day looks, River Island for swimwear, and Steve Madden for sandals.

    What are your favorite sites/stores to hit before a trip? Let us know in the comments!

    All images are either
    from the merchant and linked
    or my own. 

    liabilities & assets: how (not) to love a girl who travels.

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    I have always worried that my sense of adventure would be a liability and not an asset. "Oh she's fun." "You're so spontaneous." "She's down for whatever." "My girl been to 5 continents." "Damn, you're going where?" "Wow, you're gonna be gone a month?" "I feel like I never see you."

     Liability. Not asset.

    See, it's cool to love a girl who travels until you realize she might not ever stop looking for flights. It's cool to love a girl who travels until her adventures are taking her everywhere except to you. It's cool to love a girl who travels until picking her up from the airport becomes more like a chore than something to get excited about.

    Liability. Not asset. 

    My childhood was filled with trips so wandering has been a part of my life, my energy, my aesthetic for as long as I can remember. Wandering. A wanderer is who I am.

    Only I don't wander aimlessly and everywhere I go has a purpose. Each trip carefully designed to bring me closer to myself, the world, love, God - you.

    As a kid it was cool. Teen, unique. In college it was awe-inspiring. As a young adult, people still ask me, where are you going next? And it used to be that I'd proudly proclaim my next city or country, only now I've realized that at a certain point, people expect the wandering to stop, the restlessness to fade away, and for settling down in one place/city/space to become a priority.

    I know he did. They do. 

    Want you to be around. Able to have tabs kept on. To occupy a space that "makes sense" which more often than not just means a mold fashioned for you that doesn't fit. Because now, the very thing they fell in love with, your free spirit and wild heart, has been fashioned into a noose they've hung around your neck that only gets tighter and tighter with each new destination and pretense of being happy for you about it.

    That's not how you love a girl who travels.

    Gabby's Guide to Copenhagen

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Alright, so I'm like a year and some change overdue with these pictures, but, life be lifeing. So, here's to last fall and my first solo trip to Copenhagen! I'm thinking of exploring another European city solo soon. Stay tuned. 

    Inside the Round Tower (also the only picture of me because I'm shy and didn't ask for too many)



    Architectural detailing on the side of the Round Tower

    Copenhagen was such a cool city and a great place for my first solo adventure. It's easy to navigate, the weather was pleasant (mind you I was there in November) and the people were so nice. I only spent a weekend there, but did my best to take in the sights and make the most of my time. 

    Row of bikes next to the beginning of the canal tour

    Row of bikes next to the beginning of the canal tour

    Inside the Round Tower

    Inside the Round Tower

    Safety spokes on top of the Round Tower

    Safety spokes on top of the Round Tower

    Upon arrival at the airport, I took the train into the center of the city and walked over my hostel. Of course I don't speak Danish, but signs often also had English on them so it was easy enough to get around. My first night there got dinner and walked around the area close to my hostel. Day Two was when the adventure really began. 

    The Round Tower

    The Round Tower

    The Marble Church

    The Marble Church

    View from the Round Tower

    View from the Round Tower

    Copenhagen, like Amsterdam is a city full of canals. In the morning, I went for a canal tour that showed me Copenhagen from the water and provided background + history about the sights and city. For me, the best part of the tour was seeing Nyhavn, which is a 17th century waterfront that's lined with vibrantly colored houses and seeing the Little Mermaid statue, which was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen in 1913, based on the fairytale written by H.C. Andersen. 

    Another cool Copenhagen fact is that a lot of the fairytales we read and watched on TV as children were written by H.C. Andersen and originated in Denmark before becoming Disney "classics."

    Danish Tulips

    Danish Tulips

    The Little Mermaid (from behind)

    The Little Mermaid (from behind)



    Yummy Danish strawberries

    Yummy Danish strawberries

    After leaving The Little Mermaid and finishing the canal tour, I went to a few museums, visited the Round Tower, did some shopping (Copenhagen has a great shopping district), visited The Marble Church and met up with a friend of  a sorority sister for dinner. 

    All in all, Copenhagen was a great city. One that I would love to explore again some time. Be sure to try some Danish strawberries, get out onto the water, and eat a Danish hot dog off the street which is nothing like a hot dog in the US because it's so much better. Copenhagen also has some amazing coffee shops, museums, and gardens, so be sure and maximize your time in this amazing city. 

    View from the Round Tower

    View from the Round Tower

    I went to South Carolina for Spring Break, shot fireworks with my friends and was afraid of getting shot the whole time

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Spring Break is supposed to be a happy time in a college senior's career. It pretty much marks the end of one's collegiate career and starts the turn towards celebrations of accomplishments and graduation. So you know I had to go on a trip - to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - with some of my very best friends. 

    Don't get me wrong, we had a great time and I no longer want to pull my hair out. Making it to graduation now feels doable. But, for one of the first times I can remember, there was a point at which I was very afraid during our trip. Obviously safety is always something that I'm negotiating as a Black female, but it's never really been something I've dwelled on during any of my travels and in South Carolina it was. Once we settled on South Carolina, we were excited because we realized that fireworks are legal there, so you know we had to go to the store and get some. We then proceeded to figure out where we could legally shoot them off at because you can't just do it anywhere. Our Google search directed us to Garden City which was about 30 minutes up the beach from where were staying. We grabbed our fireworks, lighter, and jacket and were off! 

    Shooting the fireworks was so, thrilling and exhilarating. It felt like some big secret that only we were in on, even though it was totally legal and okay to do. Until someone screamed at us to stop from their balcony window. At that moment, for me at least, fear kicked in. My mind instantly went to Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and a host of other unarmed Black people who were minding their own business one minute and dead the next. I kept turning around and looking for people on the beach and thought that every noise was a police siren on it's way to get us and either take us to jail or kill us all. I got so distracted that I forgot to shine the light on the fuse for the fireworks a few times delaying the process and resulting in a few burns of my friends hands. Basically, I was stressed. 

    As a Black, female, I'm always aware that my safety is a very tenuous thing that is constantly being negotiated and changing based upon where I am and who is around me. But, I've never been afraid like that before. Totally terrified that someone would threaten us for not breaking the law and that we would end up in a terrible situation because of it. What if that man had called the police or the security guard of the apartment building? What if they thought were were going to lash out and harm them? What if they saw the lighter and immediately pointed guns at us? I couldn't help but think that the four of us, all seniors at Cornell with our plans for next year solidified, could be gone and none of that would matter. Cornell wouldn't save us. Putting our hands up wouldn't. Running away wouldn't either. If something had happened we would have been completely at the mercy of the police officer or vigilante who decided that we were dangerous and a problem. 

    Thankfully, nothing happened. But, those fears unearthed something in me. A very tangible awareness of the way my Blackness can impact situations that would probably go differently for people that don't look like me. It made me aware of the need to not only be vigilante about my physical safety, but also to remain conscious of how my skin color is interacting with the world around me when I travel. My race won't stop me from exploring the world, but it might add an extra burden in that effort. 

    I went to South Carolina for Spring Break, shot fireworks with my friends, and was afraid of getting shot the whole time. It's unfortunate that traveling while blacks means having to negotiate and worry about things like that. 

    Gabby's Guide to Barcelona

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Today we're going to throw it back to Barcelona, Spain where the temperature was warm, food had seasoning, and there was no snow in sight (even through spring is hopefully here to stay in Ithaca).

    Barcelona was probably one of the places I was most looking forward to going during my time abroad and it was sure not to disappoint. The city is so vibrant, easy to navigate, and full of things to do and see. Plus, I had never been to Spain before and y'all know how I feel about new passport stamps. Jakira and I set out for Barcaaaaa late into our term abroad and truly saved the best for last. Our days were spent wandering around the city, viewing La Sagrada Familia, eating tapas and paella, exploring huge flea markets, soaking up the sun, and eating lots of pan (bread). Barcelona is absolutely one of my favorite places and I'll have to be sure and spend some extended time in the city later on in life. Maybe I'll teach English in Spain or something, wouldn't that be a treat?!

    Barcelona must do's: 

    • Go to the Arc de Triomph
    • Eat paella, tapas, and lots of bread
    • Visit EVERYTHING Gaudi (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, etc.)
    • Go to the clubbb (Opium was cool)
    • Go to the beach if it's warm enough (sadly it wasn't when we were there)
    • Wander down Las Ramblas and off into the corresponding neighborhoods (avoid the men that ask if you want to smoke weed though)
    • Visit the flea market 
    • Go to an art museum (Spanish art is amazing and if I remember correctly Barcelona museums house a few Picasso's)

    Gabby's Guide to Milan

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    So, I went to Milan two weekends ago! Outside of Venice it was the only major city in Italy that I hadn't been to. (Venice, I'm coming for ya!) Milan is a really cool city with AH-MAZING food, the first Prada store, and canals designed by Leonardo Da Vinci. Basically, if you love fashion and food, you should go! 


    Duomo di Milano

    My first stop was the Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral. It's the cathedral church of Milan and is dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity. It's the 5th largest church in the world and the 2nd largest church in Italy. Milan's Cathedral is one of the most important Gothic style buildings in the world and it took over six centuries to complete. When I came out of the metro station and was greeted by this massively beautiful structure, I was in awe at the workmanship, detail, and gravitas of the building. The Duomo must be on your to see in Milan list. If you can, go inside and climb up to the top. I've heard it offers an amazing view of Milan and I wish I had taken advantage of it. 

    Navigli District

    Remember those canals I mentioned earlier? They're located in the Navigli district. They were designed by Leonardo da Vinci and connect Milan to Lake Como. This is a really pretty area with painted buildings, lots of quaint food spots (I had the most amazing pizza/gelato here!) and cool, unusual shops. To get here, take the metro to Porta Genova, once you come out of the station, walk directly down the street in front of you. If you want to eat, I'd recommend going after noon because it seemed like most of the restaurants were closed until then. I can't remember the name of the restaurant where I had the delicious pizza, but I'm sure anything on that street/in that area would be good. 

    *Go to the fashion district as well. I don't have pictures of this because I didn't want to look like a groupie taking shots of stuff I can't afford yet but one day!! You should make sure you see the first Prada store as well. It's in the mall just to the right of the Duomo if you're standing on the steps of the Cathedral.  


    Italy does architecture, passion, but most of all FOOD so well. This was a lovely change of pace from uni (the British term for college) where I eat cereal and sandwiches in order to feed my travel habit. Anyway, if the food in your life sucks, take a holiday and go to Italy. The gelato, the lasagna, the wine, the pizza- will restore you soul. I'm def only eating bread with vinegar and olive oil once I have a house because it's just so lit. Go eat at La Locanda del Gatto Rosso, order the lasagna and let your life be changed. 

    Tips and Tricks

    • The metro is super easy to navigate, you should have no real reason to take taxis. 
    • You don't have to stay super central to the Duomo to get around easily. I stayed in an Airbnb that was a little out of the way but I was always able to get into the city center within like 25 minutes. If being centrally located is important to you then by all means go for it, but if not, save some coins and stay a bit out of the way - you won't be missing anything. 
    • Having minimal Italian language would be very useful. Most people speak English but if you can ask how much, for directions or etc. in Italian, your life will be easier. (If you can't speak it, screenshot, screenshot, screenshot!)
    • Make sure you have Euros in cash. Everywhere I went in Milan took card but then then the ticket to the metro machine wouldn't read my card for some reason- I had no cash, so I had to go to an ATM and by that point I ended up just taking a cab. Make life easy on yourself. 

    Travel snob?

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    My friends call me a travel snob. Now I'd like to think I'm not snobby but who knows... I'm the person that gets annoyed when people don't know how to properly do airport security (i.e.: DONT put your life back together as your bins come down the conveyor belt. NO. STOP. THATS WHAT THE TABLES AND CHAIRS ARE FOR- you're holding everyone up!) Rant over. Maybe I am a travel snob but, I'm not going to apologize for traveling and doing what it takes to make sure I see the world.

     At the end of the day, planes are going where they're going- you're either on them on you're not. I'm 21 with two more continents to reach and I fully intend to do so before 25. I also fully intend to see the 7 wonders of the world before 30.

    Traveling isn't hard, anyone with the means to do so can. I don't mean that to say it's not expensive. It can be. But, at some point once you reach a place where you can use your disposable income on leisure activities, whether or not you travel is all about priorities. That Starbucks you drink everyday? It adds up, that could be a flight or hotel room if you saved the money in a high yield interest account + caffeine is addictive. Let it go. Those shoes you think you absolutely have to have? Half of a round trip ticket to somewhere in the US you've never been.

    You wanna see the world? Have you signed up for free flight alerts? Are you flexible with regards to your destination or the timing? Are you willing to fly solo? Because at the end of the day, all you really need is yourself, a mode of transportation and maybe a backpack with some clothes. Wifi will come and go. You might miss an event or two. But the thrill, the memory of wherever you venture off to, that will never leave you. The lasagna you had in Italy, the lover you took in Paris, power you felt after climbing Mount Everest, and peace you found in Bali- will never leave you. They are who you are now.

     I spent last weekend in Milan and I was reminded why I fell in love with traveling- not *touristing* in the first place. I can't explain it any way other than to say it makes me feel alive. Wandering down streets into restaurants, shops, random body's of water while trying to remember where I am so I can figure out how to get home- it's exhilarating. It's the best high there is for someone like me.

    Falling in love with people and places I've never been has always spoken to my soul more than the routine of staying where I am for extended periods of time has. I get tired of people. I get tired of places. I get antsy, stir-crazy, claustrophobic. Being a traveler is a serious thing. It's a constant love affair with places, people, and things you haven't even found yet. It's always leaning towards the next destination- remaining ready to go. It means not settling and if you're afraid, you go, you jump, you explore anyway.

    I've always valued freedom above all else. The ability to be in charge of my own life- don't tell me what to do or where to go. Hell, don't tell me how to get home, let me figure it out.

    I travel to test myself. I travel to renew my faith- in humanity, in God, and in myself. I am my True North. I am my way home.

    Gabby's Guide to London

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Ello mates! In case you didn’t know, I’m studying abroad in England for the term at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. Coventry is about an hour outside of London via train and two or so hours via bus. I’m here studying Business Management and so far really like it. England feels super comfortable and I could totally see myself moving here in the future. My first weekend here I went into London with some newly made friends who are also exchange students. We just did a quick overnight trip, but were able to fit in some cool stuff that I'm excited to share! 

    Once we arrived in London, after feeding ourselves, we jumped on the tube (subway or metro) and headed over to our hostel in Holland Park (whole post coming on picking your hostel soon guys!) to drop our bags before going out to conquer London! Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. 

    Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence for Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. It's a must see in London, especially if you can catch the changing of the guard. (I didn't see it this trip, but have in the past and it's pretty cool.) It's also a big deal if the flag is up because that means the Queen is in residence. But, even when she isn't the building serves as offices for those who support the everyday activities of the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, and their immediate family. 

    Next, we walked over to Westminster to catch Queen Elizabeth's Tower aka Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and the London Eye. It was a quick walk so instead of ubering, catching a cab, or hopping back on the tube, get some exercise in and take in more of London's sights while you're at it. (I took like 27,000+ steps this day according to my FitBit so yay for healthy travel lol)

    From there we went over to an area close to Trafalgar Square to grab lunch at this restaurant called Nando's! (OMG if you're ever in London you have to go. It was so good! Seems to me to be England's equivalent of Chipotle as far as hype around it goes.) After lunch, we went down to the SoHo district to check out a few museums and just the general area. We ended up going to the Victoria and Albert Museum and then grabbing some coffee/hot cocoa from a charming outdoor cafe. (Everything in England is charming and quaint lol).

    After hitting up the museum for some culture, we went to down to Oxford Street for a bit of shopping, Ben's cookies (these taste better a day later), and the Rugby match. (Apparently Rugby is a big deal here - who knew!) Before heading back to our hostel to gear up for the next day. 

    Day two was spent having a charming brunch of banana french toast & bacon before heading to the Imperial War Museum and Camden Market. Both of which I'd recommend you see. The Imperial War Museum is extremely well done - not boring and stodgy like some museums can be. Camden Market is just full of shops - some of which are tourists traps, but if you take your time you can find some really cool, unique stuff for decent prices. 

    There's my first weekend trip to London! Stay tuned for another post on London tips, tricks, and travel hacks. Cheers! 

    Guest Post: Tourist or Traveler?

    The Reign XY

    When I first arrived in China, I was asked the serious yet simple question:

    Are you going to be a tourist or a traveler?

    I chose traveler! Becoming a traveler is not an easy task but I promise once you choose to be a traveler you will be rewarded with great satisfaction and purpose. As a traveler in an unfamiliar environment, I was uncomfortable at first. So, I realized quickly I either had to adapt really fast or be that one annoying person who wouldn’t stop complaining. So, I chose to adapt and adapt QUICKLY!

    The difference between a traveler and a tourist is simple; a traveler is willing to adapt to a new environment, ultimately becoming one with the people, places and things around them. Travelers deal with adversities and adjust to differences with ease. On the contrary, tourists are willing to seek new experiences and go to different places but only to a certain extent. Tourists are more willing to visit places just to get a 15-minute “tour” and then get back to their plush hotels and stable Wi-Fi. Travelers are not afraid to go beyond their comfort zone and get their hands dirty if they must. Clearly, it is much more rewarding, fulfilling and fun to be a traveler!

    Within my first two weeks, I traveled to Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Wenhai (Naxi village), Lashihei (Nanyi village), Shangri-La/Tibet and Chengdu. In each place I studied Ethnic Minorities, Development and the Environment. Basically, I had to actually stay in villages and live like the ethnic minorities that called these places home – resulting in an adventure I’ll never forget. 

    I have clubbed in Dali with locals, spent hours aimlessly walking around markets in Dali and Lijiang, observed the way locals interact with each other and tried to blend in to the best of my abilities despite my obvious skin color difference. I hiked up mountains for a total of 5 hours just to get into the Wenhai village. Then, I spent two days without electricity, hot water to shower with, and to top it all off- I had to use a squatty potty in order to go to the bathroom! It was difficult, but I made it work and have no regrets or complaints. During my time in these villages, I learned that many villagers only eat potatoes and corn everyday simply because those are the only two things they can grow. I learned that simple things like being able to have food options, hot water, or even paved roads were all luxuries - that I would’ve normally considered necessities. Many villagers have to hike hours outside of their village to work so they can make a living and feed their families. Paved roads were only built about 3 years ago, so traveling was mostly done by foot. (Can you imagine?!) 

    Having the chance to experience how ethnic minorities in the Southwest of China live was such a humbling experience for me. I did my best to make myself right at home with the villagers by helping them clean and prepare dinner, as well as, talking to them to learn about how they make a living in such poor environments.

    On the brighter side, Tibet was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I visited one of the biggest Buddhist Temples in China, located in a town called Shangri-La and learned so much about the way monks live. In Chengdu, I spent hours in a Giant Panda reserve and discovered that pandas are more like humans than I thought. Their mannerisms resemble a lazy old man, especially when they are laying down eating bamboo and sleeping. Though they are becoming an endangered species, there are people in China who dedicate their lives to the study of Giant Pandas and are finding ways to help them survive.

    Every experience I had while traveling through the Southwest of China has contributed to my enlightenment. Overall, my experience was been one for the books and I am so excited to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

    Being a traveler has allowed me to expand my mind, get out of my comfort one and most importantly grow. I learned so much about myself during those two weeks and can say with no hesitation that I am a much better person because of it. I am more open, less ignorant and more tolerant of other people and cultures. The thrill of traveling is something I do not think I will ever lose. The more I travel, the more I learn and the more I learn the more I want to travel. 

    So, my advice would be: travel, get lost, find yourself and lose yourself some more only to find yourself again. Be in the moment and love every minute of it whether it’s good or bad - because those moments are something you will always hold on to and think of with a smile. 

    Be a traveler, not a tourist. 

     Felicia Romain is a senior at Syracuse University, majoring in Political Science (Pre-law track) with a minor in Chinese studies. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Felicia enjoys traveling and expanding her mind on different cultures, religion and people. She finds great fascination in the Chinese culture and considers herself a Chinese enthusiast. Her aspirations in life are to explore the world, while doing what she loves by one day obtaining a career in Comparative Law. 


    Hardly Home, Always Reppin

    Gabrielle Hickmon


    Traveling is this amazing thing. And at the risk of sounding trite, let me just say that it really does open your eyes and heart to so many pieces of yourself and the world that you never knew existed. The one downside in my eyes is that it can mean being pulled away (if not mentally, then physically) from the ones you love. And let's be real, a virtual hug from your mom, kiss from your partner, or gossip session with your friends just is not the same as the real thing. It's not. For all of our technical advances, we still have not been able to replicate the magic that results from human connection- praise Gawd! 

    You see, I used to think that the college I attended, newest purse, or journeying to some far off land would make me truly happy. And yes, there is joy derived from those experiences/items. But, I've realized, especially during this trip to Peru, that the things we do, see, and accomplish, mean nothing if there's no one to share them with. Peace, happiness, joy, is baking red velvet cakes with my mom on Christmas Eve. It's watching the NBA playoffs with my dad and talking trash because we're cheering for different teams (for some gawd awful reason he is a Lebron fan). It's snuggling up with my baby cousins as they fall asleep on my lap at family functions. It's sharing memes or discussing relationships with my guy friends that are really more like brothers at this point. Joy is in dishing about the guy I met two days ago and won't like in a week with my girlfriends. 

    This is of course not to say that my happiness is contingent upon them. Life has taught me that only I, through God's grace, can give myself that gift. No, it's to say that humans were created to live in fellowship with each other - making contact with others essential for our survival. And, in-spite of all the places I've been and still want to go, there is just no place like home. Because, as fun, important, and necessary as it is to go, do, be, explore, venture, visit, travel, unearth, and wander, it's equally important to come home. 

    It's worth nothing that instead of being sad about missing people, birthdays, weddings, or graduations, I've learned to be thankful that my life is so full of people to love and celebrate in the first place - even if it is from afar sometimes.  

    After all, when the love is real, it's limit does not exist.  

    T-10 days until I'm home. T-22 days until I'm on the road again. 
    I might be hardly home, but I promise I'm always reppin. Thanks to the tribe of people in my life that make coming home something to look forward to. And, thanks for understanding my deep need for wandering. I love you.  

    #nomadGab: Peru Week 1

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    "We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch... service [is] the work of the soul." - Rachel Remen

    Sometimes, I wonder if there's actually any service in service-learning or if community engagement/international development work actually does anyone any good. Then, I remember that it is not about "doing good" or "helping." It's about service. 


    My time so far in Peru is proving to me that there is service in service-learning and working collaboratively with communities towards the greater good. My first week with the Light and Leadership Initiative is over and I've gone from observing/co-teaching to head teaching. There's a great responsibility that comes with teaching children- no matter where they're located around the world.

    I'm teaching English and find myself remembering how it was taught to me (I hated grammar), discovering things about the language I didn't realize until I had to teach it to someone else (example: I'd sounds like "eye-d" + a whole bunch of other rules we break when we speak that are hard to explain), and worrying if I'm doing a good job.

    It's only been a week and I've only taught seven classes, but I can tell the work matters because of the random hugs I receive after class to the tune of "Miss, Miss!", by the enthusiasm in the way my students raise their hands or slap the table during flash card games to review their lesson of the day, and the concentration evident during reading time. (One of my students saw me in the street yesterday, ran up to me to the tune of "Teacher, teacher! Miss, miss!" and proceeded to give me a huge hug and kiss. My heart pretty much melted.)

    A desire to learn is the same in every country and I'm honored to be of service to Peru's young minds. PS: Stay tuned to read about and see what the rest of this month has in store! :)

      "Service is the only thing that heals."  - Rachel Remen

    Unearth the World x Gabrielle Hickmon

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Growing up, I always knew the world was bigger than my own backyard and this knowledge created in me a strong desire to explore. As a child, I traveled all across the United States with my parents, went on a cruise to Mexico, and at the age of 16 ventured to Europe as a People to People Student Ambassador. Enter Cornell University. When I began at Cornell University as a Freshman, I knew I wanted to travel. But, I had no idea the doors that desire would open for me! 

    My love of travel is coupled with a passion for serving others. I can remember participating in community service projects with my church, school, and now my sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (at the time my mom was the member, not me) as a child. But, it never occurred to me until I came to Cornell that I could combine the two through service-learning. Service learning is "a form of experiential learning where students and faculty collaborate with communities to address problems and issues, simultaneously gaining knowledge and skills and advancing personal development (Heri, 2009)." I did not know what service-learning was before I started Cornell. Nonetheless, it has come to define my undergraduate career by shaping the opportunities I have pursued and participated in, as well as, shaping what I am now choosing to do with my time, energy, and life post-Cornell. 

    Through service-learning experiences, I have been blessed to travel to and engage with communities in Panama, Thailand, and Ghana (twice). Of course, as a person with insane wanderlust, I still want to go to more countries and engage with more communities. But, I also feel a responsibility to do more. I want to share with other students the joy, blessings, and lessons that service-learning and responsible volunteer travel have given to me. That is where Kathryn Pisco and Unearth the World come into the picture.

    During the fall of my junior year, in my capacity as a Student Ambassador for Cornell's Engaged Learning + Research, I met Kathryn Pisco ('05) and learned about her social venture, Unearth the World. After our initial meeting, I sent her an email to set up a phone call to learn more about Unearth the World and discuss potential ways to get involved. After learning more about Unearth the World's mission and work, I shared my involvement with service-learning at Cornell, as a participant. Kathryn then challenged me to think about ways to step my engagement up even further. She challenged me to consider leading a service-learning trip for Cornell students in partnership with Unearth the World. I accepted her challenge and we have been working together ever since then to bring the great work Unearth the World does to Cornell's campus. 

    It still astounds me that our work together stemmed from one phone call -showing the power of "informational interviews" (blogged about HERE). In my capacity as College Partnerships Intern for Unearth the World, I support Unearth the World's efforts to partner with colleges/universities -specifically Cornell. This fall, four Cornell students, including myself will be traveling to Huaycán, Peru to work with the Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI) on projects that will be developed collaboratively between LLI and Cornell students beginning this August. LLI - in collaboration with Unearth the World - works to improve Peruvian education by providing free afterschool workshops and classes. We will be working to support LLI's education program and women's artisan project. 

    As the leader of this small group of students, I will help Kathryn facilitate Unearth the World's pre and post-trip global service-learning training curriculum and help coordinate logistical travel. I will even be making my own visit to Peru this summer to lay the groundwork for a long-term partnership between Unearth the World, LLI, and Cornell students. I feel blessed to be the student leading this trip and to have another chance to do what I love and longed to do all those years ago - travel, serve, and learn - all at the same time.

    If you're a student like me that loves of be of service to others and wants to see the world while doing it, then I encourage you to not only check our service-learning programs offered at your college or university, but to check out and connect with Unearth the World. They have programs in Peru, Nicaragua, Ghana, and Zambia. If you want to travel and be of service to the greater good while doing it, then Unearth the World and Kathryn Pisco are an amazing organization to connect with (and I'm happy to help facilitate that if you reach out)! 

    Stay tuned for pictures, videos, and blog posts from my upcoming trip to Peru + a blog post on resources for college students that want to travel. I leave on Wednesday, August 19th, and can't believe my dream/goal of making it to South America before I graduate next May is actually coming true...

    10 hours in Amsterdam

    Gabrielle Hickmon

    On my way back from Ghana, I had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam that actually ending up being more like 12 hours due to delays but that is neither here nor there. Ten hours gave me plenty of time to explore so I booked a full-day tour with Holland Stopovers for some guidance and saw Amsterdam! I'm absolutely in love with this city and will for sure be going back when studying abroad in England this fall.