‘travel’ Category

19 May 2015

The good, bad and ugly of my trip

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random, travel

Yes I may be one of those bloggers who talks a tad at length about about her trip. But really, nothing else exciting is going on right now.

So in this post, I’ll talk about the good/bad/ugly of the three month journey to Southeast Asia and sojourn to Australia.

The Good

  • Food! Yes, despite having food poisoning. I loved a lot of what I ate while gone. Lots of carbs, but also, a lot of just delicious stuff. Meat in Australia = awesome, Banh mi in Vietnam = stop it, so good and cheap, pad thai omelette in Bangkok = yes please! Yes, some meals were a disaster but overall, I liked everything I got to try.
  • Sights – There are a lot of beautiful things in the world, some more unconventional than others. But, if you allow yourself to see beyond your initial reaction and take in the moment, you will be surprised. Temples and elephants in Thailand, Cambodia at “golden hour,” the streets of Vietnam, rice paddies of Indonesia and the amazing coastlines of Australia. Even if it’s not what you expect, its still beautiful.
  • People. Sure, some people in Southeast Asia (and Australia) are assholes. Rude, mean, out to con you. But, despite that, I met a lot of really cool people while I was gone. I had some great roommates in southern Thailand, Cambodia, Australia and Laos. And we all had one thing in common: travel. We love it. It feeds us, and it made me realize how LITTLE vacation time we actually get in the states. I can count on one hand how many people from the US I met while I was gone. And that’s a damn shame.

The Bad

  • Bug bites – Bugs are everywhere. It’s the climate and just what to expect there. And being fair skinned and VERY attractive to bugs, I got more bites than I can count. It was not super fun, at all. Thank god for Tiger Balm.
  • Bad roommates – You never know what you’re going to get in youth hostels. Ever. And I’d say my roommate experience was 50/50. I had some that were great and some that were bad. Like in Laos where a roommate brought back a guy at 4am to have sex and proceeded to do so in our dorm room (with me and two others “sleeping”). That was something I don’t think I’ll forget…or be able to ever unhear. Other bad roommate examples include: dragging your suitcase across a tile floor at 6am when others are sleeping, fighting over the AC unit, snoring, sleeping with the light on that shines in my face, etc. Nothing surprises you.
  • Jet lag – I’m not a great sleeper to begin with and jet lag kicked my ass so hard when I got to Asia. I would say, I didn’t sleep well until more than a month in to the trip. Maybe it was the time difference with the US, but I just didn’t sleep well very much. That was not fun.

The Ugly

  • Weird health stuff – Asia is very different from the US. And because of that, my body would just react weird to the dirt and the dust. It was annoying, especially because it’s so hot that you have to wear shorts and when your skin reacts weird it’s like, damn what happened there!
  • Food poisoning – It is normal to get that there because food isn’t prepared or kept the same way as in the US. Our stomachs are just a bit more…delicate. Anyhow, I got food poisoning twice. One that was worse than the other. It was awful. Like, really awful. I also thought I would be skinner after puking for 24 hours straight…twice.

More to come on the trip and what’s happening on my end now, but I thought this was a great way to just give you guys a peek in to what happened.

What are some of the good/bad/ugly things you’ve run in to on your trips?

04 May 2015

Hello strangers

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random, travel

Hello everyone! No, I did not forget about you, or this blog. I’ve just been…busy.

Quick recap: Lost my job, lost my grandmother, lost my drive to do anything but wallow in sadness, so, I picked up and left Chicago for a three month adventure in Southeast Asia.

I needed perspective and a change of scenery. And holy f*ck did I get both.

Coincidentally, five years ago this week was my first solo vacation ever, in New Orleans. And just over four years ago I started solo traveling overseas w/a trip to Italy.

It’s funny how things come full circle.

I’m thinking through how I can write a recap on my experiences overseas. The good, bad, ugly, the tears and the moments of being truly happy for the first time in months. It was a bit of everything.

And I took 2,100 photos so, that’s going to take me some time to edit down and post on Facebook, but I promise I will.

Coming back to Chicago and “real life,” has been…tough. That’s a post for another day though too. For now, I’m back to a semi-good sleeping schedule and back to my own bed and shower. Trust me, you miss that after three months of hostel dorms and shared bathrooms.

So, more to come here, but I wanted to let you guys know (if you’re still out there) that I’m back, and will be back to normal (or semi-normal) soon.

How are you? What’s new??

14 October 2012

Belated London recap

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random, travel

Cheerio readers! Or, the handful of you that might still be out there. Things have been a little crazy since I’ve been back.

But yes, I am back from the other side of the pond. Yes, the London adventure is in the books and it.was.amazing.

And honestly, my first overseas trip where everything just…fell in to place. Paris and Italy both had a few bumps but London was mostly bump-free, and I did not mind that!

I don’t even know how to start summarizing everything that happened or all of the awesome stuff I saw, but my inner history nerd is satiated with joy from what I saw/learned and my inner shopper is happy too (and a little poorer). So let’s hit some highlight/lowlights and some photos!


  • Buckingham Palace State Room Tour – So.cool. The Palace State Rooms are open only two months out of the year (August/September) when the Queen is at Balmoral. I signed up for a private after-hours tour that ended in the gardens with a glass of champagne. Much like biking in Versailles, that was a moment of being truly happy
  • Big Ben – My first time in London, it took my breath away and it still does. I’m moderately obsessed with the structure and the Parliament building. I won’t tell you how many photos I have
  • Nerding out at British history – So many museums, castles and history at your finger tips, I truly could not get enough
  • Beer – It’s good there and so readily available. Almost ever bartender questioned if I could drink an entire pint solo, I proved them wrong :)
  • Shopping – London is expensive but the shopping is amazing. And not only at stores but at the markets too!
  • Abbey Road – I love the Beatles so seeing the studio exterior up close and the personal messages people left on the gate was so cool


  • Weather – Yes, I know it’s England but it still rained on/off every day and one day was ALL RAIN. Ugh.
  • Tube construction – The Tube is your main mode of transportation and my station was all but closed one day, extremely inconvenient

I really loved London and had a great time. Coming home was definitely bittersweet, but now I’m re-adjusted and back in reality (suck).

I cannot wait to go back. Solo adventures are on hold now until spring but coming soon: Costa Rica, possibly Spain and Greek Islands!!

How is everyone else? What’s new!


25 July 2012

Five Days in Napa

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel, work

Of all my solo vacations, one of my favorites was Napa Valley. It was my second solo vacation and the longest (at that time). And for seven days, I rotated between wine tasting, dining out, walking around and being deliciously buzzed.

It was heaven.

And, two years after being in Napa for the first time, I got to go back, for work. Yes, I know how fortunate I am.

But it wasn’t all sipping champagne and laying by the pool, they were long days, but it was in a beautiful place, so I won’t complain too much.

We got to eat at amazing places, wine taste and go in a hot air balloon ride. Yes, it was just as amazing the second time. If you’re in Napa and looking for some amazing eats (of which there are many), I add Redd, Morimoto, Kitchen Door and Oenotri to my list from the first visit. All three were incredible. I also still dream about the lobster risotto with truffle and lemon at Redd. O-M-G.

So here are some photos from my five days there. I got a little Instagram happy while I was gone, and for good reason!

Visiting/Trepassing on winery property (shhhh)

The bar at Bouchon

Cheers to the mountains!


Me in the basket (be kind, I was up at 4:30 am)


One of the best US cappuccinos I’ve tasted

I always said I would come back for you Tartine lemon tart. xoxoxoxoxoxo

Seriously though, Napa makes me happy. I think that will join Nola on my list of favorite places. I just, love it. I would move there in a heartbeat. I have to go back here again soon, I cannot stay away.

What was one of your favorite vacations?

12 July 2012

London calling

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

The first time I went to London I was a 20 year old college kid going for a weekend before she flew back to the states from study abroad. It was January, cold as f*ck and I was about as poor and I could get at that time. But I went.

I rode the Tube for four days, ate next to nothing (to save money for the tourist spots) and stayed in the most disgusting hostel ever (fortunately, with nice American roommates).

Side note, eating a sandwich under the Harrods overhang in the middle of winter? HUMBLING MOMENT.

And on the chunnel back to Germany, I swore to myself that I would go back to London when I had more money so I could see it again and do it right.

That time is now. Or will be in September.


That’s right, I’ll be in London for 8-9 days and now that I’ve started trip planning, I am so excited I could scream out loud.

That’s the benefit to living alone, you can do that without sounding (too) crazy.

Right now, airfare, deeply discounted hotel (which is still pretty f*cking expensive but yay Travelzoo!), Buckingham Palace tour and play at Shakespeare’s Globe are booked, and this week I’ll be pouring over my guide books more to set up a schedule of what to see and do.

My inner history nerd goddess is jumping up and down with excitement.

And for some giggles, here is a photo from 2000 where I met up with a few other study abroad kids. Yes, that is my natural hair color…and how I looked back then :)

¬†Another funny note, I took this photo of this photo with my phone because I don’t have a scanner. I fail at technology.