Tag Archives solo travel

GAP YEAR MOM

by Monday, June 20, 2016

EMPTY NEST STAGE:

This is that time of year when parent’s of seniors in high school start thinking about how it will be when their child goes off to college in the fall. Being a mom of a senior who is taking a different route, I’m in quite a different boat than most. I’m a gap year mom. I not only have to feel the empty nest stage that we all experience when our kids go off to college, but I have the extra unknown of where, what and how my daughter is doing while traveling the world, on a gap year.

A GAP YEAR: AN ALTERNATIVE TO COLLEGE

We have selected an amazing program through Winterline. This gap year program has the students visit ten different countries and learn 100 new skills.  The itinerary of the destinations and planned projects they will be involved in look so well thought out and over-the-top awesome! However,  there may be times, due to weak wi-fi, or her being in a remote location, or the time change being so different, that I won’t be able to hear from her on a daily basis, as I’d like to. (kidding, not kidding)thewanderlustyogi.net

We have talked about her possibly taking a gap year off and on throughout her senior year, but we couldn’t find a program that had what she was looking for.  I even wrote an article about this, mainly due to the fact that when we talked about this to others, nobody we knew had done this, and many we knew, had never even heard of such a thing, nor understood it.  I wanted to explain what a gap year was and why it offers some genuine benefits for young adults.  Australians and Europeans have already embraced opting for a gap year-long ago, and has reaped its many benefits.  (Here’s the link: the benefits of taking a Gap Year )

PLANNING STAGE:

In the fall, we did the traditional college tours and she applied to five schools. She got accepted into many, but not into her top choice.  This only made her start looking deeper into researching gap year programs.  “Maybe this was a sign and meant to be?”,  she thought.  She didn’t want to settle for a college and spend all that money on a school she wasn’t completely excited to go to, not to mention, her wanderlust was calling.  She wasn’t even sure of what program she wanted to apply? She went from thinking she wanted to do fashion, then considered business and marketing, now she is interested in global business and non-profit work.  Who knows what it will be the next week?thewanderlustyogi.net

For these reasons and more, it seemed like taking a year off to explore the world and learn new skills, might give her the time and self-awareness she needs to make these major life decisions. She just wasn’t ready yet.  Some kids know from the time they can talk what they want to do for a job.  Some kids, even adults, change their mind constantly. I’m guilty of this myself, but when you really contemplate that a seventeen year old has to decide their lifetime career choice at such a young and complicated age, its pretty crazy to think.

DECISION STAGE:

That’s when we found Winterline.  She couldn’t stop thinking about world travel and wanting to be able to do it before she has all the responsibilities of a job, bills, a car, an apartment, etc. Adulting is hard! She knew this and knew if she waited, she might not have the time or funds to do this after college.  She felt as though this experience would not only benefit her in so many ways, but it would give her a starting point to what kind of impact she wants to make in this world. This was it! After many long discussions, our family all felt it was a perfect plan for her, and knew she would thrive in this unique, alternative experience.thewanderlustyogi.net

She began the rigorous application process with Winterline.  She went through all of the steps; writing essays, Skype interviews, getting recommendations and sending her transcripts, to finally get accepted to this competitive program.  She also was awarded scholarships for video and blogging.  You can follow her travels on her YouTube channel: Maddie Meets the World

thewanderlustyogi.net

GAP YEAR MOM:

Now that I am officially a Gap Year Mom, I don’t know what I’m feeling? I am so excited for her to be able to have all of these experiences, but also know I will worry, a lot, and will miss her profoundly.  How I choose to manage these emotions and feelings is to blog about it.  I figure this is way to get things off my chest; the good, the bad, the ugly. In addition, I think this may be a great resource for other moms/dads who are considering letting their child go on a gap year. I wish I had something like this to read right now. Although I did meet a Gap Year Mom whose son just got back in May, that gave me her card and offered for me to call anytime for advice.  We are a rare group of parents and need support, lol.

GAP YEAR MOM SERIES:

My plan is to blog about what she is doing, which from the itinerary, looks amazing! For example; she will get scuba certified, Thai massage certified, be building a house, learn to sail a boat, learn to make a Bollywood movie, study mindfulness and meditation for a month, take driving school at BMW, learn robotics, work on a farm and many other unbelievable things. I also will give you feedback of how things feel back at home in her absence and how I cope with it.  I plan to interview her dad, her brother, her friends and possibly other gap year moms and dads.  Furthermore, I have two potential planned visits with her. The first one being in Costa Rica, during her first semester, which my husband and I already had to re-visit to finish his dental work.  (Here’s the link to that story:

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

The second one will be during her last semester, where I plan to visit her in Spain. I’ve always wanted to go, now, what a better excuse than this? Maybe even one of her friends can join me? That’s  not for a while so I’m not sure what will exactly happen, but the plans are in the works.

I hope that my Gap Year Mom series will not only help me, but others too.  It also will be a great way to look back on this amazing life-changing journey for my daughter Maddie, but will also be a life-changing journey for me too!

She leaves in September, so watch out for updated posts to follow. If you are interested in her sending you a post card from one of the ten countries she visits, leave a comment with your address or email me privately at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com and we will pick one randomly per country.thewanderlustyogi.net

Traveling Through Terror

by Monday, November 30, 2015

Over the last few days, due to the horrific events that has happened in Paris and Beirut, my normally excited, cheerful wander-lusting, women’s travel group https://www.facebook.com/groups/girlswhotravel/, has now become scared. Many sharing their condolences, some stories of first hand accounts, and others now considering rerouting or canceling, all together, future travel plans. Traveling through terror is something that many women, or men for that matter, are afraid to do.

This is understandable, but also very sad. The normally, bubbly and enthusiastic globetrotting girls, are,  instead of talking about upcoming trips, and sharing amazing photos of exotic locations, are now asking advice on if they should go on their previously planned trip to Paris or anywhere in Europe at all.  Many are talking about all of the deaths and some are discussing the bigotry that has now, and sadly, not surprising, that has spiked against Muslims.thewanderlustyogi.net

One girl shared that she was in the club when the attacks happened and laid on top of dead bodies, pretending she was dead to save herself. It was very scary to hear about and we were all so happy that she was okay. Another Muslim girl shared that since the attacks, she has been kicked out of another travel group because of her race[religion]. It was awful to hear and we all gave her words of comfort and acceptance.

thewanderlustyogi.net

shirt worn by a girl who was at the nightclub in Paris when the terrorists attacked (she played dead, lying on dead bodies)

Now these women, are in reality, strangers. I don’t think I’ve met any of them personally, all except the four girls that I encouraged to join the group, but we all feel like sisters.

It’s a very weird and beautiful thing. There are  over 20,000 active members worldwide in the girls who travel group; coming from all races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, belief systems, etc,  yet this group has that common bond of the love of travel. We give each other travel advice, inspire each other that we can travel solo, support each other during breakups or hardships, and come together during a crisis, like we did when a girl was mugged at knife-point in Sri Lanka and came to us for help.  The outpouring of assistance made me so proud to be a member of this group. We were able to give her the phone numbers and address of her Embassy and contacted her mother. Thankfully she is totally fine and after her return home, updated us that she was okay, and how appreciative she was from all of our support.thewanderlustyogi.net

Many of these girls have since joining the group, have done meet-ups and some became long-term travel partners. I hope to someday, through my travels, end up meeting one of these lovely ladies. This group has something magical about it. Most of us can’t go a day without popping in just to say hello or read some advice or a story that one of us has shared.

Through this group, I have been inspired to  finally get the courage to take my first solo trip, which is coming in just two short weeks, to Belize.  This group also helped me find an amazing travel steal, where I got tickets from Boston to San Jose, Costa Rica, roundtrip for $150.00!!  This group also gave me insight on places I my have never considered visiting before, such as Tel Aviv or places I have never heard of, like Seychelles. I also felt a connection when girls would share their heartfelt break up stories and how travel gave them a new lease on life.

thewanderlustyogi.net

Seychelles, Africa

Since I started writing this post a few weeks ago, I stopped it altogether, midway. I was at a point where my social media was a constant stream of bigotry, anger and hatred. I literally needed to just get away from it all. I decided it was best for me to go on a social media detox for a few weeks, to reset and regroup my emotional state and disconnect a bit.thewanderlustyogi.net

This was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.  I was in tune with my body enough to notice that the emotional distress I was having, due to all of the upsetting things I was reading, was actually taking a toll on my health. I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating, I felt teary at times, out of the blue, I felt agitated and extremely stressed.thewanderlustyogi.net

In my absence from social media; I read, spent quality time with my family and friends, where I was actually completely present, I meditated, did yoga and through this I felt a subtle change happening in my body. It was a cleansing and it was exactly what I needed.

 

 

thewanderlustyogi.net

The Ultimate Yogi DVD collection by Travis Elliot-my favorite go to yoga/mediation fix

http://www.theultimateyogi.com/

Now that I am back, I am happy to report that although things in the media are still heated and distressing, my girls who travel group is back to its old self again. I was so relieved and happy to see, that the massive posts of asking if people should cancel their trips, were now filled with stories and pictures of girls on their travels all over the world, some even in Paris. This made me smile.

thewanderlustyogi.net

me in Paris at the “love lock bridge” near Notre Dame last August (2014)

This world can sometimes be a very cruel and scary place, but when you think about all the good it has, you realize that the world can continue to hold beauty and love if you choose to seek it out.thewanderlustyogi.net

 

 

I Took a Brooklyn Bridge Walk at Sunset and This is What Happened

by Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I was in New York City for a quick 24 hours, or actually, even less than a full day, to be exact. I did a few things during that visit; I toured a college, had lunch at the Seaport, got a mani/pedi at Spring Nail Salon for only $22.00 (I still can’t believe it was that cheap!), but I also did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I took a Brooklyn Bridge Walk at sunset and this is what happened. 

location and information for Spring Nail Salon

I walked along the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, along with hundreds of others, seeking to take in, that chance warm evening, and wanted to trick ourselves into believing that winter would never come.

Carriages were being pushed by young mothers. Eldery couples were walking at a snail’s pace.  There were new lovers walking hand in hand, flirting playfully with one another. There were bikers, trying to make their way through the stopped crowds. There were tourist from all over the world, speaking languages that I didn’t recognize.

And then there was ME.

thewanderlustyogi.netI was alone on this walk. I have wanted to do this for a while now, but for some reason or another, I never got the chance on all of my previous visits to the Big Apple.

I didn’t mind being alone. I wasn’t afraid or anything. There were people everywhere. I actually used this time to see how it would feel to be a real “solo traveler”, which I was aiming to become. It was a little experiment, I guess you could say?

A link to my thoughts about how solo travel might be

How I ended up here, was my daughter and I toured Pace University (http://www.pace.edu/) and then she did an overnight in the dorms, staying with a student that she knew from high school, who was currently a student there.

thewanderlustyogi.net

My daughter, Maddie and her friend Ally in front of Pace University

I stayed at my cousin’s apartment in the Eastside, sadly unable to visit with her, due to a previous speaking engagement she had at a medical conference in Washington DC. She is a doctor. I’m very proud of her. However, I did have the company of her handsome cat, Rafi. It also made it very convenient for me and saved me some money, which I was extremely grateful for.

thewanderlustyogi.net

My cousin’s cat, Rafi

After dropping my daughter off to the dorms, I tried to think of something to do. I was pretty wiped out from the last two days of college tours, driving, and all the walking we did, but I wasn’t ready to turn in just yet.


On a side note: one of the colleges we toured was  Marist College(https://www.marist.edu/), where my uncle is the Dean of the Math and Computer Science department.  It is in Poughkeepsie, New York. After comparing the two colleges we toured (Pace University and Marist College), it was clear that Marist College offered so much more, for what my daughter was looking for, with her college experience, and she really could see herself fitting in there. She decided that Marist College was her number one choice and wants to apply for this upcoming Fall semester. She is hoping she gets in and is accepted into their amazing Florence Freshman Experience (FFE) program, where she could study abroad in Florence, Italy for her entire freshman year.  She also has the travel bug and would absolutely love an opportunity such as this. We are crossing our fingers. 

thewanderlustyogi.net

My daughter, Maddie, excited about our tour at Marist College


The location of Pace University was directly in front of the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge. It seemed meant to be. I have always wanted to walk it, it was freaking 75 degrees, in November, the sun was about to set, and I had the time. It was perfect!

As I made my way through the crowd, I, at first, felt a little awkward. I was looking around at all the people who had “their people” with them as I was there, flying solo. This was still a strange feeling for me, but I’m forcing myself to get used to it, especially since I will be doing my first official “solo trip” in one short month from now, to Belize!


I Took a Brooklyn Bridge Walk at Sunset and This is What Happened:

I learned Three Benefits of Solo Travel:

  1. You can do whatever you want!-I took my time and stopped to take pictures. What did it matter? I wasn’t holding anyone up. It was nice to not have to discuss with anyone else, how long we wanted to stay or not stay. I just did whatever felt right to me. It was kind of freeing.
  2. You are completely “in the moment”-Everything felt so surreal and I’m not just saying this for dramatic purposes. It really did. I didn’t know why, but I think I was more able to be completely “in the moment” because I didn’t have any other distractions as I would with another person, with conversation, non verbal communication and just their presence in general? I loved that feeling.
  3. People are So Much more Friendlier When you are Solo-Then there was the people. I don’t know if I’m just making this up, but everyone seemed so much more friendly towards me, being alone. (other solo travelers have shared this exact sentiment) This was crazy to me. I mean, I was in New York City, where, if you know their reputation? -Not super friendly folks. (This is kind of a stereotype, but it’s what they say. Just like they say Southerners are friendly.) Yes, this could be because I was mostly around tourists, but I could absolutely tell, people were approaching me more, because I was alone. It must have made me more approachable. Which makes complete sense. If you are with others you seem to be more closed off and in your own private world. People will sometimes interact with you, but mostly respect your space. When you are alone you are open to engage with everyone and anyone. I met and spoke with more strangers in that hour  I spent on the Brooklyn Bridge, then I think anywhere else I’ve ever been? People were chatting me up about the weather, asking me to take photos for them and just paying attention to me, smiling at me, as if to say “Hello, I see you.” I felt a real connectedness with total strangers that I have never felt before. It was awesome!

    thewanderlustyogi.net

    My token headstand picture, for my 365 day inversion challenge (this one was number 134) taken by a sweet couple, that I think, thought I was nuts for doing it!

http://www.thewanderlustyogi.net/yoga-inversions-around-the-world


I took a Brooklyn Bridge walk at sunset and got so much more than I ever intended out of it.  I not only got to observe some benefits of solo travel, but I also got to be alone with my thoughts and was able to reflect on my life; all of the good and bad events that I have gone through, that has brought me to where I am today. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Even the bad. For it has molded me to be a stronger and wiser person and made me really appreciate what was important in life.thewanderlustyogi.net

I never thought if I took a Brooklyn Bridge walk at sunset, that I would be able to receive such unexpected joy. I was filled with gratitude, so thankful for my existence and everything I have experienced thus far in my life,  and it made me even more excited for Belize, and traveling solo.thewanderlustyogi.net

By taking that walk on the Brooklyn Bridge alone, I sensed a real connection with other humans and I encountered a feeling of self-awareness and empowerment, which only made me long to explore these feelings more, through solo travel.  I don’t think solo travel will end up being my favorite way to travel, since I do enjoy sharing these experiences with my loved ones, but I realized that solo travel is a very different and authentic way to travel. I feel that solo travel should be experienced by everyone, at least once in their life.

If you are ever in New York City and have a chance to walk to Brooklyn Bridge, I highly suggest it, whether alone or with others. You may get even more out of it, than just burning a few extra calories. I know I surely did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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