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It’s a talent to look so poised, yet be so clumsy.
While I’d like to believe I piss glitter and walk on water, the truth is,
I DO I’m just short of a hot mess, and that sh*t is a skill.
It’s my most treasured talent the way I’m able to finesse my way out of the strangest and most awkward situations, but just like I did last year, let’s toast to my inability to function like an adult and recount my ten worst travel moments of the year.
I want you guys to always remember that no matter how professional of a profile I try to maintain online, there’s a raging toddler on the inside sh*tting her pants. So have no fear, let’s recap my
highlowlights of the year!
10) SOMEONE ACCIDENTALLY TAKING MY BAG FROM THE LUGGAGE CAROUSEL
For those that don’t know, I’ve been fully nomadic for over 4 years now, so everything of value to me, fits inside my two check-in suitcases. I wrote a detailed Facebook status below that you can click through to read where I went wrong and how I learned from this mistake.
You always hear of these kind of things happening to your friends and on TV shows, but you’d never think it’d happen to you. In 2018, let’s leave behind black suitcases for good. When 70% of suitcases are black, you run the risk of someone who’s half-jetlagged (
and arguably coherent), walking off with your goods.
Lesson definitely learned and all my things were bought back unscathed.
9) A BABY SH*TTING ITS BRAINS OUT AND THE DAD NOT CHANGING ITS DIAPER ON A 1-HOUR FLIGHT
So I don’t mind kids on planes, because at the end of the day, I’m going to be a mother in the future and I would want people to have compassion for me the same way I’ve had compassion for them. I also tend to have window seats and wear noise-canceling headphones to silence the cries.
But I was flying a really small aircraft that was too big to be a private jet but too small to look like a functional plane, nonetheless, the flight was just over an hour and we were going from one Caribbean island to another.
We had literally JUST taken off before the baby in front of me unleashed what must’ve been God’s wrath for sin and the devil’s breath wrapped up in rotten eggs in that diaper, and of course, her father wasn’t trying to acknowledge or change it.
The rest of the passengers covered their noses and exchanged looks of concern while I was an arm away from reaching for my oxygen mask.
And because I was directly behind them, I felt like the baby’s diapers had a direct passageway to my nostrils and that was the longest 60 minutes of my life. The flight attendant was so professional though, and I think she’s smelled worst, because her poker face was unmatched.
*exchanges more uncomfortable stares and sets fire to nostrils to ignite an eternal flame*
8) HOUSEKEEPERS THOUGHT I WAS RECORDING A SEX TAPE
I’m sure housekeepers have seen it all. I’m sure they’ve also learned to stop judging what they see. So when I was staying in a luxury resort doing a hotel collab, and the cleaners came and saw my camera mounted on my tripod in the corner of the room, they likely assumed the worst.
So when I came back to the room, they had the camera facing my bed and angled downward, as if I was recording a sex tape.
I let out the biggest cackle (and those who follow on Instagram definitely remember the day).
I was there with my assistant at the time and we had a good laugh for a few days. And every time I passed the housekeepers while on that property, they were extra friendly. Safe to say, they welcome all adventurous types of travelers to their property.
7) FORGETTING TO APPLY FOR MY INDIAN VISA
So I started a tradition with my dear friend Dakota, where we travel to a country that we think is underrated and deserves more tourism dollars, and create some beautiful imagery and visuals.
This year our choice was India, and as I tend to have most of my travels sponsored or organized by travel brands or tourism boards, I might’ve forgotten to do my due diligence and research the entry requirements.
And I found myself on my flight date, trying to check in online, realizing I needed a visa to travel to India and that it wasn’t one that I could just purchase on arrival.
In fact, Indian visas take 1-2 weeks on average, but because Dakota was already en route, I had to scramble, pull some strings
and hair, and shell out almost $1,000 for a new flight and expedited 1-day visa.
Needless to say, I learned my
very expensive lesson and for anyone traveling to India soon, the company I used was Go India Visa and they were very professional and quick (well, because I paid for them to be, LOL).
This was also a privilege check and reminder that my passport grants me access to so much of the world, this is usually never an issue. Someone with a third world passport might have to apply for a visa several months in advance, sending over bank statements and personal information, a process most Americans will never have to deal with. It was a great lesson in humility as well.
6) BULLIED BY A TAXI RINGLEADER
So I was in Morocco and returning from a desert excursion to Marrakesh when I pre-ordered a taxi and gave him an estimate of my arrival.
Because of Marrakesh’s crazy traffic and random police stops on long roads, the ETA kept getting pushed back. I updated the taxi company as often as possible, but we got to a stretch where I had absolutely no service or connection, even with my T-Mobile plan that works in over 210 territories.
Nonetheless, as I get closer, I’m getting angry text messages telling me that he will be charging me for every minute that I’m late.
Immediately I tell him to cancel, that I don’t need his services anymore because I can’t control the traffic, nor why we kept getting stopped on the highway.
As this man orchestrates a bunch of drivers in Marrakesh and doesn’t actually drive any cars himself, he intended on pocketing the tourist tax he was trying to get out of me, while the driver, who was also texting me, had no issues.
The driver arrives and is a complete angel. He takes me to my riad and I pay him the amount we agreed upon, not including the ridiculous per minute overtime the ringleader tried to charge.
Once the other guy got word that I didn’t pay the extra money, he rang the worker of my riad and has her hold my suitcase hostage until I paid the rest of the money.
She was a gentle person and I can tell she didn’t want to do this, so I tried to reason with her and explain why the charges were ridiculous and how he’s literally just trying to get more money from me. I think she picked up every 10th word or so as her native languages were French and Arabic.
At this point, I felt bullied and trapped and decide to get the hell out of there and check out early. I was staying in the medina, which is a hard place to navigate, but still had the most authentic riads (traditional homes turned into hotels).
I just wanted to get as far as possible from this ringleader, who I wasn’t sure if he was on his way, or was going to send his driver back to collect more money.
I quickly went online and booked a ridiculously-overpriced 5-star luxury hotel outside of the medina center, because I knew it’d come with a driver who would come and collect me.
I placed the extra $50 of cash (mind you, this was a 7-minute drive I already paid for) on the table with the woman on my way out, because at that point, I didn’t want this man tracing me down in any way.
It wasn’t about the money, it was about the principle and standing my ground from a greedy @$shat who thought he could make his week’s salary in a couple of hours.
I got to my new hotel and it was about 3AM at that point. I was exhausted, delirious, and ready to collapse into a ball of tears. I couldn’t even sleep because I was so furious about the situation and how I allowed someone to take advantage of me. So I ordered a coffee, self-pitied for a few minutes, then started journaling.
Though it’s rare I ever feel in real danger while traveling solo, had I known that THAT moment would escalate to what it did, I would’ve paid triple just to avoid it.
You soon learn that greed can truly corrupt people and when someone finds any way to manipulate you into thinking you owe them more, try to look at the bigger picture and figure out whether it’ll be worth standing your ground. I treated myself to a massage the next day, blocked his number, and charged this to the game.
I got hustled. Happens to the best of us.Behold, the things that don't make Instagram: My 10 Worst Travel Moments of 2017. Click To Tweet
5) HUSTLED [AGAIN] BY A SUITCASE SCAMMER
Speaking of getting hustled, I was in Beirut, Lebanon — a city I absolutely adore and would go back to in a heartbeat! But I unfortunately got caught up in supporting an illegitimate shop.
Every now and then, my suitcase gives into the pressure of being hauled and lugged around constantly and it gets replaced every six months or so.
I was in Beirut when I needed to find a replacement. There were a ton of random shops in this outdoor market, but they all had a store front nearby.
I decided to take a peek at some of the suitcases outside and then found one that looked suitable for my travels and went to find the owner.
A man was walking around the suitcase, so I start questioning the price on a few. Normally when vendors want to sell something, and they can spot that you’re clearly a tourist, they’ll triple the prices on the spot.
A good way to combat that is to quickly ask for the price on 3-4 different sized items. On one of them, they’ll let the *actual* price slip, and then you can start haggling from there. Everything is marked up, but it is what it is.
We finally settled on a price and as is the case with most outdoor markets, you give them cash on the spot and walk away with your goods, no receipt needed.
Welp, it only took a few hours of being home for that suitcase’s wheel to fall off. Annoying. It wasn’t super expensive, but it wasn’t cheap either. I was definitely going to take it back for an exchange or refund.
I arrived the next day with the suitcase and there’s another man working there. I explained the situation and described how I just bought it yesterday. The suitcase still looked brand new, but just randomly had a wheel fall off.
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He then tells me that he’s the only one that works at that store and he doesn’t remember selling anything to me. So I described another man to him and he acted like he has no idea who I was talking about. Clearly, he wasn’t trying to have me return the faulty item.
At this point, I’d just be happy with an exchange, screw the refund — but NOPE! They didn’t want to do that either.
Infuriated that he was really trying to act like he didn’t just sell me a defunct suitcase, he got a couple guys to shoo me away. I was pissed, but I had too much pride to storm off while still rolling a 3-wheeled suitcase (LOL), so I left it there and told him I would be coming back.
I went to have dinner with my Lebanese friend and told her the situation and asked if she could go back with me to speak in Arabic, liaise, and maybe reason with them.
We went back and guess what this crusty man did?! My suitcase now had marks, cracks, scratches, and was in way worse shape than before. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT. He literally scraped the suitcase up more to make it seem like I was the one that did that damage.
There’s now a belligerent lady
whose oversized veneers were screaming HELP who’s telling me I must’ve dragged the suitcase all over town, but I’ve literally been taking ubers everywhere and didn’t even get a chance to even put clothes in the suitcase before the wheel popped off from simply standing it up.
My friend was an angel and tried to reason with them and mediate, but the lady was yelling in my face and I was a good two seconds from needing Jesus to intervene.
I had never been tested like this before, but when I don’t have home court advantage (aka, not in the U.S.), I had to think twice about my actions and where they could potentially lead me.
Needless to say, after more yelling and gross insults hurled at me, I gave in, left the suitcase behind and charged yet another L to the game.
Whew! If you’ve read my book, you know that I had a really troubled past and in my teenage years, my temper got me in a lot of trouble. I’ve come a looooong way since, but ya girl was a prayer away from ending up in a foreign jail.
4) KINKY HOTEL SCENE
When I tell you it’s practically a skill how I find myself in the most awkward situations with housekeepers, man oh man. You read incident #8 from Bali, but this was a little worse because I was still in the room.
So I was in New York City for the inaugural TPG Awards (hosted by The Points Guy) and I had a make-up artist coming in that afternoon to do my make-up, so I order a high chair to my room for the following day.
Brian (the guy behind the TPG brand) also had chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne delivered to the presenters’ rooms, which I halfway devoured by my lonesome around 2AM before passing out on the couch. It’s a glam life I tell ya.
The next day as I was getting ready, I kinda just stripped down and left my clothes and draws on the floor to put away later as I hopped in the shower.
As someone who basically hops from one hotel to the next, I couldn’t be bothered to put small things away in the moment because my hotel room is my safe space to just relax and be.
Well I got a knock on the door and as I usually have my DO-NOT-DISTURB sign on, I was a bit startled and forgot about the high chair I ordered the day before.
I quickly thrust my clothes around the corner, tightened up my robe, and answered the door. The man had the high chair in his hands ready to place it down. I told him by the door was fine, but what does this
NEGRO man do?!
He waltzes all up in my space, and that’s when I discover my bare @%$ thong out in broad daylight, in the middle of the floor.
CRAP! When I grabbed my clothes to throw around the corner, my thong didn’t make the cut, and stayed behind to expose my heathenry.
Not to mention, where is my thong lying next to? Yep. The table with chocolate-covered strawberries and half dranken — drunken(?) champagne.
He saw the situation,
evaluated my sins, then proceeded to continue walking, where he now was in the direct path of the trail of my jeans, shirt, and bra, all spread out respectively inches from my bed, setting the perfect scene for the kinkiest night ever, as this invisible man wines and dines me, strips me down, and we launch into the bed to do some “adult wrestling”.
Needless to say, eye contact was not made after he paused and saw the state of my room, and I couldn’t wait to get him out. Fix it, Jesus.
3) BED-RIDDEN STOMACH BUG
When I have one of those hellacious 40+ hour transatlantic journeys, it’s inevitable that I’ll get a little flu en route.
Airplanes are literally a box of germs and you’re sitting there with strangers bringing all kinds of bacteria 30,000 feet in the sky with you.
After suppressing a cough for a few days, it finally all came crashing down when my flu mixed with a stomach bug in Italy and I felt like I was either about to birth a meteor or sh*t an ocean. I ought to charge for the depth of my analogies.
I laid in bed wailing in pain (as it was therapeutic for some reason) and rocked myself side to side until I could muster up the energy to puke whatever was willing to come out.
I chugged a bunch of water (to ensure I would wake up to urinate in a few hours, best alarm clock everrrr), said a prayer, and passed out in a puddle of my tears.
I promise you I’m every bit as pathetic as I sound.
I had a friend run to the pharmacy to get some over-the-counter medications and stayed in bed for a couple days until my head stopped throbbing.
I don’t remember what exactly pushed me over the edge, but I remember telling myself that I hope I don’t die without my eyebrows on.
I survived and my eyebrows lived to be
drawn seen another day.
2) APPLICATION VIDEO FILE BROKEN
When it comes to my work, opportunities come and go like crazy. One morning, I’ll get pitched by a couple dozen companies. The next morning, it’s nothing but cobwebs.
But on those busy mornings, I try to jump on the exciting campaigns ASAP, and there was an opportunity that would not only pay more money than I’d ever made with a single contract at the time, but it’d also take me back to a country I’d been dying to see more of.
It was down to me and two other candidates, and the final decision would depend on a video application we needed to send. I went out and shot the video that afternoon (because I had a flight the next day), and stayed up to edit all evening.
I barely slept 30 minutes, but when it was time to export, my laptop was going too slow, so I decided to plug my project file into my friend’s laptop and export from their computer.
I had an older version of Final Cut Pro, but didn’t think it mattered when I clicked “YES” to convert my project file to a newer version.
It was time to leave for the airport, but my project hadn’t exported in time. I canceled it and decided to just do it from my laptop in the car.
I said bye to my friends and got in another friend’s car and we made our way to the airport, which would be about an hour’s journey. I plugged my external hard drive into my laptop, re-opened Final Cut Pro, and my file link reported as broken because I had converted the file to a newer version of Final Cut Pro.
Basic logic that I of course bypassed in the moment. Oy.
I started freaking out and my friend does too, but I didn’t explain why yet, hahahaha. She was so supportive.Life is much more fun when you're a trainwreck. Said no one ever, ha! But come read about my random hiccups on the road anyway! Click To Tweet
I had to think on my feet and ask if there’s a nearby coffee shop to buy and download the latest Final Cut Pro over wifi. That was the quickest $300 I ever spent. The download took what experts would measure as a decade, but I finally had it and rushed back in the car to head to the airport once I no longer needed the wifi.
The sponsor was asking where my video was as I was about 2 hours late at that point, and I quickly explained that I might just miss my flight to make sure this exports and sends on time.
I checked alternative flights and realized that the price of this decision would be one where the reward didn’t outweigh the risk. At that point, I was already late and accepted that they’d moved on with their decision.
I boarded the plane feeling a little defeated, but still had the intention of sending it anyway, just with less hope, as they could keep it on file and consider me for a future opportunity.
I whipped out my laptop one last time to check the progress of the export. Still just at 30%. I quickly snapped a phone pic of me with my laptop on a plane and sent to the sponsor to let them know that I was literally in the middle of exporting.
This janky plane didn’t even have outlets or USB ports so guess what happened when my file was at 80%? Yep, computer died.
The sense of humor this universe has. Beyond me.
3 long hours later, I landed in my destination and rushed as fast as I could to baggage claim to find an outlet in the corner where I quickly powered up my laptop as I waited for the bags to come.
It took a good 30 minutes for the laptop to finally export the complete final project as I would jolt to the carousel to grab my bag one at a time, abandoning my laptop in the corner, mid-exporting.
When it finished, I sent a final email basically apologizing for the late submission and wishing them the best of luck with the gig, and to still keep me in mind for the future if opportunity permits.
I got an email back a couple hours later, when I had already moved on and accepted the job was no longer mine. They LOVED my video and chose me. The director literally postponed the decision until my video was submitted because he was rooting for me from the start.
Crazy! That $300 purchase turned out to be one of the best investments I made this year. That paycheck was a pretty lil’ thang and reminded me of my value and the unique skillsets I bring to the table.
When your brand is so strong, positions will be created for you, and this was a testament to that.
1) TWO EARTHQUAKE SCARES IN BALI
I host two Bali Blogger Bootcamps a year alongside my co-host Alyssa and this year was a little more adventurous than others. By the way, if you’re interested in attending in the future, you can add yourself to the waitlist HERE.
But it’s basically a week-long retreat where a bunch of aspiring travel bloggers from around the world fly to Bali and we host them in a luxury villa and teach them everything we know and have learned about blogging and creating six-figure incomes with our brands.
Our first week was off to a great start until a volcano erupted on the nearby island of Lombok and aftershocks were sent all throughout Bali.
Our chandelier shook and the building trembled as everyone rushed outside and we all embraced in a circle.
The week carried on, but here I was, having to maintain composure and now consider the safety and security of everyone and I found it so hard to feel enthused or excited about exploring the island when I went into Mama Bear mode and just wanted to make sure everyone felt 100% safe.
When you’re the host of an event, people turn to you for comfort and trust during scary times, and as the death toll of the neighboring island was rising by the hundredths, it was so hard not to have the earthquake be the center of every conversation.
I’m so thankful for Alyssa, my co-host, who stayed so poised and composed, and launched the efforts to raise a few thousand dollars for us to go out and buy food, shelter, and supplies to deliver to Lombok.
It was a humbling moment and reminder that no one is immune to natural disasters and tragedy can strike anywhere, but having a protocol in place, safety procedures, and practicing emergency evacuations were our best friends. Though the aftershocks continued throughout the week, nobody in our group was hurt or injured in any way, but boy was that a nerve-wracking experience for everyone.
At the end of the day, life, at the most fundamental level, is nothing more than a sequence of events where we try not to make an @$% of ourselves 🤷🏾
Instagram is a highlight reel of perfectly curated, preset-filtered, half-truths sprinkled with emoji diarrhea.
Nobody’s life is perfect, but there’s beauty in the mess and struggle.
We’re all just a couple detours and weak GPS signals away from hitting rock bottom, so let humility and compassion be your guiding lights of your growth.
So cheers to 2018, to my fellow clumsy travelers, and to a future and platform that I hope to never take too seriously.
The goal is to make you guys feel like you’re a part of my journey, not by peeking over the headrest in the backseat, but by riding shotgun and seeing, feeling, and experiencing life with me.
My mission has always been simple: Life is short, so see the world and spread your joy with as many people as possible.
Mission Accomplished, 2018.