Have you heard of Tarranea Resort in Palos Verdes? It’s an amazing resort perched on a cliff with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. But it’s not just aesthetically pleasing, they have a restaurant called Catalina Kitchen and I can’t imagine you would be disappointed if you ate here. I had lunch with my mom and we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals, and our waitress was so kind! The service was impeccable and when you combine that with the view and the food, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
The menu has many choices but boy oh boy am I glad I got salmon. It was cooked to perfection and extremely tasty.
I love the way they present tea. I’m really big on presentation and from the tea bags to the honey it was lovely.
It can be a bit windy but you don’t have to worry, there are heat lamps outside that keep you warm in case it’s breezy.
Even if you don’t live near, it’s worth it to make the drive and eat here. Palos Verdes is a lovely city, why not put Catalina Kitchen on your list?
Gonna say farewell until Monday where I will be back with a new post, and Tuesday I’ll be featuring another amazing person who has lived and studied abroad. You definitely don’t want to miss her, she’s a dynamic woman!
Enjoy your weekend and I’ll be back with you on Monday!
I’d like to introduce you to Michaela Hall, a fabulous Travel Blogger of color that is doing remarkable things with her travel abilities. Read on about her travel escapes and let me know what you think about them in the comments!
1. You spent four months traveling across the South/SouthCentral US on a wildland firefighting crew. How did you get involved in that?
I’m still pinching myself in disbelief that I actually spent time fighting fire!
I work for the USDA Forest Service and wildland firefighting is one of the many careers offered at my Agency. In fact, a huge portion of our budget goes towards activities dealing with wildland fire. Because it’s such an important part of our mission, I wanted to get a closer look at what happens “on the ground.”
The chance to join a wildland firefighting crew offered professional and personal growth: a better understanding of the work I do and the chance to see more of the country in a unique way.
2. What training was involved in being part of that?
Training involves a week of classroom study on fire behavior, weather, equipment use and best practices. Then, there is a day of hands-on training to practice and reinforce classroom training.
After testing, trainees must pass the Work Capacity Test, commonly known as the pack test. You have to complete a three mile walk in 45 minutes carrying a 45 lb. backpack. Honestly, it was one of the most challenging things I’d done in my life!
The hardest part of wildland firefighting is getting a permanent position. Because the majority of fires are seasonal, many wildland firefighters have temporary positions into which they must be rehired yearly.
3. What places did you go and how many fires did you put out?
I traveled to Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky on fire assignments. As a crew we worked on 9 wildfires and 43 prescribed fires. Prescribed fires are fires that we set to burn debris from the forest floor. It decreases the chance of large wildfires by clearing the forest of burnable material. So if a fire starts, it grows much slower because it has little to burn.
Fun Fact: Our most famous icon, Smokey Bear, used to say, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” We changed his message to, “Only you can prevent wildfires,” because of the prescribed fires we set in the forest!
In all, our crew managed 46,000 acres of fire equal to about 34,500 football fields!
4. You spent a week in Costa Rica living in a tree house, why?
In more than one way, lodging is a big part of travel. Not only is it a chunk of the budget, you also spend quite a bit of time in your home away from home.
After my first few international trips, I grew bored of staying at hotels. Lodging is what sets a culture apart, and so to experience travel in a new way, I needed to shake up my accommodations.
The truth is that I chose to travel to Costa Rica because of this tree house.
5. How did you find the tree house and how would you describe the overall experience?
Airbnb is jammed with interesting and unique places across the world. On a whim, I searched for tree houses and fell in love.
Staying in the tree house was an amazing experience. A colony of curious Howler Monkeys lived in the trees on the property and they would make all kinds of crazy sounds into the night.
It was refreshing to lie in the hammocks in the morning, surrounded by nature and pretending to be only people in the world. The place was far enough away that we didn’t have to be bothered with anyone, but close enough to civilization that we could find restaurants and activities within minutes.
Added bonus: there was a pool onsite!
6. You took a train ride from Portland, Oregon to New York, New York with a spectacular group of Millennial Leaders. Can you explain what Millennial Leaders are?
Have you ever heard that quote, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”?
I can say proudly that I was definitely in the right room on this train ride full of Millennials – those born between 1980 and 200.
The Millennial Trains Project takes innovative and entrepreneurial minded Millennials across the Country to explore challenges and opportunities in America’s communities while advancing a project that benefits others.
My project focused on getting young people outside and enjoying their natural spaces. Other projects targeted a variety of issues including food sustainability, racial healing and child labor.
Five Fulbright Scholars also took the train ride; so now I have friends from Russia, Columbia, Pakistan, Yemen and Indonesia. And those friendships come with open invitations for personalized tours of their countries!
7. What made you all take a train ride and not a plane?
The Millennial Trains Project chose the train as representative of the pioneer spirit of the United States and Millennials. The trains were chartered Pullman cars from the 1950s, including a dome car with 360 degree views.
There were also sleeper cars, a dining car and a hacker’s space. The hacker’s space was a place to think creatively and release creative energy.
This train became our home for the ten days that we traveled across the United States with stops in Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Whitefish, MT; St. Paul, MN; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL and New York, NY.
An airplane wouldn’t have offered the same level of mobility during travel or the awesome views.
8. You were recently in South Africa. Why did you choose to travel there and how did that trip change your perspective?
It was in Morocco that I first fell in love with travel. In South Africa, I reignited that love affair.
On my blog, I often talk about the importance of being in travel group. My travel group takes trips several times each year and last year South Africa was one of the locations visited.
South Africa took my breath away. We spent our time split between Johannesburg and Cape Town – cities that are relatively close, but seem to be worlds apart.
Our trip took place at the peak of the Ebola media hype and we faced concern and ridicule from others. During that trip, it was reaffirmed just how massive Africa is, how ridiculous mainstream media can be and how important it is having support from others who share your love for travel.
9. What are some of the misconseptions you think some have about SA that you saw aren’t true?
Accurate visuals of South Africa aren’t always shared. There are small villages in South Africa. But, there are also skyscrapers, subway systems and highways. Some people have a generalized way of looking at African countries that’s wrong. It’s like believing that the entire United States resembles New York City. Can you see how that would be grossly inaccurate?
I also learned that while I took the internet for granted, it was too expensive for the average person to use in Johannesburg! I was chatting with a guy who was interested in learning more about videography and I started rambling off all these places to go online to get free training. After an eye roll from others in the room, he gave me a well-appreciated lesson about his difficulties in accessing the “world wide web”.
10. Why is travel and experiencing different types of travel an important part of your life?
I am so curious about the world I live in and I want to see it all.
I want to touch an elephant and I want to throw paint at Holi and I have to dive the Great Barrier Reef.
I’m pulled to do all the cool things that I hear about from other travelers and those stories are constant motivation to keep moving and exploring.
I find it sad when I stumble across a travel blogger who has become burned out on travel or who thinks traveling has grown “old.” I think that by mixing up your travel modes, lengths, locations, companions, purpose and activities, you can keep travel from becoming stale. I put effort into being whimsical when I travel because I know that humans are creatures of habit. If I do too much planning, all of my trips will resemble one another. And where’s the fun in that?
Michaela Hall wakes up early hoping to change the world and stays up late looking for fare mistakes. On her blog, Awe Inclusive, she shows new and aspiring tripsters how to create the travel life of their dreams. Join her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagra
On Tuesdays I feature a traveler and today I’m featuring Courtney Stricklen who has studied abroad in two different countries. Most people don’t study abroad in one country let alone two! And guess which Supreme Court Justice taught one of her courses? Read on to find out and please comment with your thoughts on her answers, ok?
1. What made you study abroad during law school and how did you find out about the programs available?
I was a total nomad. I figured there wasn’t going to be a better opportunity to go while I was in law school, and since I was paying for school anyway, I may as well make a vacation out of it. I also teach full-time so summers abroad just called to me.
My law school, South Texas College of Law, is really great about diverse opportunities and there was always someone available at a table or in the classrooms that could answer questions about studying abroad.
2. Why did you choose London and Malta?
I chose Malta because the program offered there that summer was a course with Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court. As a law student it was kind of a why the hell wouldn’t I thing. Especially since it was right on the heels of the historic Obamacare decision which he very carefully avoided mentioning anything about. I tried.
Also, I had no idea Malta existed until this trip. When I got there I realized how amazing it was that I ended up there because it turns out one of my favorite novels, The Count of Monte Cristo, mentions it, and it is also the country where the apostle Paul was shipwrecked.
I chose London the following year because my husband was working there and would be for four months. So it worked out perfectly that the immigration courses I wanted to take were being taught there (I’m now an immigration attorney). We were able to spend the entire summer together in London traveling across Europe.
3. How long did you study abroad?
I was in Malta for 8 weeks, and London was a 6 week program. But I stayed a bit longer each time.
4. Where did you live while you were studying (dorm, apartment, home stay).
In Malta we stayed in arranged housing (though not really student housing) that consisted of apartments. Ours was a 2 bedroom split between 4 people. It was certainly not as western as I’m used to, but it wasn’t bad.
In London my husband and I stayed in a remarkable corporate apartment in Spitalfields. Amazing accommodations via his employer. But I did visit with some of my friends at the student housing which was very nice, modern, and dorm-like.
5. Did you notice any major cultural differences while you were living abroad?
In Malta, I did notice that there was some mistreatment to the other black girl in our group. She was darker skinned and she attributed the treatment to that. I’m half-black and was only greeted with curious stares, complimentary mostly, of people trying to figure out what I was, ethnically. Other than that, there was no huge cultural difference to me. Aside from young teenagers smoking and drinking out in public, and the smoking in general. But I soon came to realize that was a euro thing and not just a Malta thing.
In London, I really appreciated how diverse it was. I live in Houston and it’s very diverse. But it’s a segregated diversity. I didn’t get that sense in London. It was very free and open and accepting in my experience.
6. What differences did learn about that you grew to appreciate? Are there any cultural norms of either country that you now do in your own life?
I think I may have answered the first part of this in the previous question. Both countries were western enough for me not to feel as though there was any cultural norm in particular I could or should adopt. Other than really admiring the European public transportation system, which in Texas would be hard to match because of the size, there wasn’t much that I would want to adopt.
7. Were you able to travel at all while you were living abroad?
The best part about spending more than a month in Europe was being able to travel so easily to other places. I had the mindset that it would never be cheaper than it was while I was there. So I went to Athens and Rome and Paris and Mykonos. I tried Egypt but they were on the verge of their rebellion so that was a no for me. But it’s still on my list.
8. You don’t hear much about Malta. What are some things about it that people may not know? Did you feel safe throughout your stay?
Malta was a wonderful experience, mostly because I knew nothing about initially. It’s a very small island in the Mediterranean. Right between Sicily and Greece. It sounds like beaches, and there are one or two sand beaches but mostly they’re rock beaches. It is a very popular vacation spot for Europeans. They have one of the biggest parties in Europe on the island of Gozo (I went, it was INSANE). Historically, they have a UNESCO heritage site that boasts one of the oldest burial sites in the world. It is a very religious country with crosses and churches and remnants of Paul’s visit on just about every street. They have a huge immigrant population that are mainly refugees from Africa. There is some friction there between them and the locals. Which may explain the mistreatment of my friend.
As far as safety, I probably felt safer there than some places I’ve been to right at home or in other places in the states.
9. How did your study abroad experience change the way you view life?
This experience did nothing but whet my appetite for more travel. And travel beyond Europe to the more discreet countries people don’t really know about. You think you’re open-minded before, but travel really does nothing but show you how much you don’t know and how much more there is to know. About people and how and where they live, what they like and do. The world is a huge place. And studying abroad is the best way to really learn more than what’s in the books.
Bio: My name is Courtney Stricklen, wife and mother, teacher, lawyer, and born-traveller. I’ve been to many states in the US, and outside of Europe have also travelled to Mexico and the Caribbean islands.
Facebook: Courtney Stricklen
Twitter and Instagram: strictlycourt
Blog: Stricklen’s Law for Dummies
Living abroad on different continents isn’t impossible, and here to show you how fabulous it can be is Wandi, The Travel Ninja of the week. She’s a dynamic international traveler of color (who has a chance to go to Cuba! Find out how here) with a zeal for living her best life. She is so interesting!
You had a good job yet you left it and moved to Europe. Why?
My airport job had run its course. It was an amazing experience to support the preparations for 1996 Olympics at what was already the world’s busiest airport.
What tops that?
The Olympics exposed me to an intercultural dynamic I had not previously known , but fell in love with immediately. I found the break-neck pace of preparing the city to receive the world…addictive.
After completing a project that had consumed six years of my life, I didn’t know what to do afterwards that would give me that sense of urgency and accomplishment. I couldn’t even remember what I was doing before the Games bid was won. To feed that craving, I chose to chase the Games to the next summer Olympics city, which happened to be Sydney. I chose to arrive there via England and France.
How many countries have you lived in and how long did you live in each?
I immersed myself in the culture and history of England and France for roughly a school year; cultivated a tiny art import business while living part-time in Ecuador for nearly three years; taught at universities and managed sporting event hospitality in China for about six years; and served on the organising the Doha Asian Games in Qatar for seven amazing months.
You have worked for some amazing organizations/companies in several different countries. Who have you worked for and what were your job descriptions?
London was easy. It was on the way to Paris and I had a cousin already living there. Paris because of the magical allure of the Latin culture, cuisine and exquisite red wines! I connected with an amazing community of performing and visual artists there.
I visited Quito on a trade mission and founded a wonderful little art business that kept me returning there every other month.
Yang En University, near Quanzhou (Fujian province, China) recruited me to teach business management. It was at the tail-end of the SARS epidemic and the beginning of the US economic meltdown. I was determined to start learning Mandarin immediately, to become a complete professional in time for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Teaching at universities is an EXCELLENT way to immerse oneself in the cutting-edge of all cultural happenings.
I finally had my Aussie experience when I taught at the Sydney Institute of Language and Commerce at Shanghai University. A serendipitous call from a Qatari recruiter landed me in a Contingency Planning position at the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee. I had never HEARD of Doha before, but I knew that the Games role was an incredible opportunity on my path to the Beijing Games.
After Doha, I returned to Shanghai and served hospitality management roles with the Formula One Races, the Master’s Cup Tennis Tournament and the Special Olympic World Summer Games, building credibility in China as a Games organizer.
How do you manage to get such interesting positions? What is your educational background?
Aggressive networking. Meeting as many people as I could and expressing to them my commitment to my ambition. My degrees are in aeronautical administration and aviation management from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation & Technology.
How do you compare living and working in America to your experiences of living and working in different countries?
I have found that people everywhere are striving for a better life for their children. In most places I’ve been, education is much more coveted than in the United States. Regarding working, I LOVED working a 35 hour week in Doha that was considered full-time. Qataris made the workplace extremely comfortable for employees with all sorts of amenities, such as “Tea Boys” that would deliver coffee, tea and snacks to your desk at any time throughout the workday.
All the fast-food places delivered and people were generally autonomous in their work. The facilities were quite opulent as well. Cultural orientations could have been handled better at ALL my gigs. I’d like to support organization that are on-board expatriates, by providing them with more comprehensive guidance for navigating the new culture AND preparing the local employees to better understand their expatriate guests.
How has your perspective changed since working abroad?
My perspective on work and relationships has changed dramatically. Career remains important to me, but MORE important is the quality of the relationships we build around us. That’s with family, friends, colleagues….everyone. I found there was more TIME devoted to cultivating relationships when I lived abroad. I miss that. Dinners typically would go on for hours as friends and family gathered and REALLY connected with each other over lovingly prepared food.
I once had a Greek flat-mate wonder aloud why I was eating alone at the kitchen sink. She found this very American habit extremely strange. It made me laugh. Now I make it a point to sit down and enjoy my meals rather than slam them down my throat. Work is a means to support a lifestyle. It shouldn’t engulf one’s entire life. Balance is something I’ve found sorely lacking in the United States.
Your current projects are to return to Brazil to work the Rio Games and the other to visit space. Please explain your role in the games and what your plans are for visiting space.
I am campaigning for a role at Rio’s Olympics. I started studying Portuguese last year in preparation. Additionally, I’ve earned a certificate as a Cultural Detective and graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School. I network as much as I can Stateside. Last year, I took a short reconnaissance trip to Brazil. I am keeping my eyes and ears open for an opportunity that will soon come.
Space travel is an adventure I’m pursuing as a result of befriending the son of an astronaut in Shanghai. Our friendship led me to witness two space shuttle launches, meet Dr. Mae Jemison the first African-American woman in space, and Nichelle “Lt Uhura” Nichols from Star Trek and an amazing array of spectacular NASA opportunities and interests I’d never previously considered.
One of the many things I’ve learned is that a phenomenon occurs to astronauts as they observe our planet from space. They observe earth as one organism rather than many nations and it causes a shift in their consciousness. They return with a heightened realization that we’re all in this together. They’ve named this phenomenon the Orbital Perspective or The Overview Effect.
I want to expose more of the underserved and underrepresented to the possibilities of space travel, the importance of developing oneself continuously, tolerance and intercultural collaboration.I want to encourage a consciousness about the significance of climate change and impending environmental disaster, if we continue to neglect the health of our planet.
How does your family feel about the way you are living your life?
On Christmas day, an astronaut friend called with season’s greetings while I was at a family dinner. She graciously chatted with each of my tweenaged cousins, encouraging them to live their dreams.
Later, I overheard a 10 year old ask a 13 year old how I knew an astronaut. Without looking up from her texting on her cellie,the 13 year old replied, “She’s a hippie!”
If you could give someone advice that wants to work outside of their country, what would you tell them?
Plan, plan, plan!
Network before you go!
Learn the language and culture of your host country and spend some time learning the stages of culture shock so you’ll have some understanding of the feelings that you’ll inevitably experience.
Transitioning to the rhythm of the host nation is much faster (albeit challenging) when living amongst the locals, but know where to the expats are.
Have you worked abroad? Isn’t Wandi fascinating?
Today I want you to meet Constance Collins, The Travel Ninja of the week. She’s a fascinating traveler dealing with lupus. Please read how she deals with her condition and her desire to travel.
1. How old are you and how long have you been dealing with Lupus?
I am 25 years old and I have been dealing with Lupus for 7 years. I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was a freshman in college.
2.You are focused on living your best life. How did your Lupus diagnosis affect your desire and ability to travel?
I have always been interested in traveling. As a child, I traveled a lot with my family so I have always had the desire to get away and explore new places. I knew when I was a freshman in high school that I wanted to go far away for college and I used to dream of traveling to exotic locations. When I was diagnosed with Lupus, I was 18 and free-spirited so being diagnosed with Lupus just felt like something I had to deal with while I chased the things I really wanted, which was boys and travel. I really just took it in stride and never let it stop me from doing the things I wanted. I stayed in school, to the dismay of some of my family members and I even went to Paris for a study abroad program five months after I was diagnosed. Once I started getting sicker, it made me crave travel even more because I just needed to get away sometimes. Staying stagnant makes me uncomfortable, being sick and stagnant is torture.
3. Where have you traveled since being diagnosed?
In the summer of 2013, I did a solo backpacking trip through various cities in France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. Then I traveled to South Africa for the World Transplant Games in Durban. It’s like the Olympics for people who have organ transplants. It was such an awesome experience worthy of a post of its own. I have also traveled to Canada and I had a layover in Russia twice, does that count?
4. What do you have to do differently when you travel now that you deal with a chronic illness?
During my senior year of college, I was on peritoneal dialysis for my kidney failure that was caused by the Lupus. The type of dialysis I was on required me to hook up to a 40-pound dialyzing machine at home nightly for 9 hours and I used two 2-liter bags of fluid per night that circulated through my peritoneal cavity to remove waste. I had a catheter in my abdomen and I was not allowed to carry items that were more than 25 pounds to avoid getting a hernia.
My friend, Jamel, worked for AirTran and had given me his companion pass that year which granted free travel to any destination serviced by the airline. So that year, I was traveling a lot on weekends and during school breaks so I had to be very strategic about how I traveled. I had to call Baxter, the company that provided my dialysis fluid, so they could deliver enough fluid for the duration of my stay to my destination. When in the airport, I always requested a wheelchair so that I would not have to carry my machine through the airport. I had to carry the machine on the plane with me because it belonged to the dialysis company and if lost or damaged, I would be responsible for thousands of dollars for repair or replacement. I had to get a special note from my doctors that specified this. Since I was a standby passenger, I was usually cleared right before take-off and there was no room for my machine on the flight so the flight attendants would try to check it which I would not allow to happen under any circumstance, so that created problems at times. I usually got some stares in the airport when my 21-year old, healthy looking self whizzed past the security lines in the handicap lane, but it never bothered me.
I had a kidney transplant in 2011 and now my main focus when traveling is making sure I carry all of my anti-rejection and pain medications with me onboard. I always reserve the window seat so that I can rest during flights. While I am in a new place, I just listen to my body. I try not to do more than I can. The adrenaline I get from traveling usually carries me through my trips.
5. You have described Lupus as an “invisible disease’. What do you mean by that?
Lupus affects different people in different ways and in my case, it is systemic meaning it has only affected my kidneys, heart, and joints. It causes severe pain and chronic fatigue, but on the surface, many people who are affected by this disorder look perfectly healthy. This can be both positive and have some drawbacks. Let’s focus on the positive first. When I look healthy, I feel healthy. In the summer of 2009, I gained 40 pounds of water weight in the course of 1-week and I looked so unhealthy. When I looked at myself, I was unrecognizable. When others saw me, I felt insecure because they either commented on my new look or I felt like they were judging my appearance. I looked unhealthy and it was apparent to everyone and I could not get used to it, especially since it happened so fast. I am very happy that I returned back to normal within a year, save for stretch marks all over my body. I feel relieved and sometimes I can fake it until I make it.
Now for the negative, having an invisible disease makes it hard for others to relate and understand what you are dealing with. Some people have their own ideas of what you are supposed to look like and what you should be doing when you are not feeling well. This made my past job a struggle sometimes. I felt mostly supported at my job, but there were times when I just did not feel well and I could not fake it, and there were things said about me that were not very kind. I always wonder if when I wasn’t feeling well and I appeared outwardly how I felt inwardly if I would have been described by those same terms. I even had a situation where someone reported my activity on social networks to my superiors when I was in the hospital. I can’t imagine something like that happening to someone who has a more well-known disease such as cancer or an ailment that leaves a physical impression. That situation actually really scarred me because it validated one of my worries: that people may not believe that I’m sick because they can’t see it.
Also, when I feel sick, sometimes it is even hard for me to come to terms with it. Like I said before, when I look healthy, I feel healthy, so when I feel crappy but still look awesome, I sometimes feel a sense of guilt when I need to call out from work or bail on plans I make with other people. Sometimes, I overexert myself because of this. One moment I can feel perfectly fine and the next moment can be hell. It’s very strange and I wish I knew how to reconcile this because it is so difficult. I try to connect with other people who deal with lupus and kidney disease, but so many people who deal with this are either much older than me or aren’t working full-time, demanding jobs so I find it hard to understand the best ways of dealing with this. I’m slowly but surely getting to the point where I realize I don’t need to PROVE that I’m sick to anyone and allow myself to feel the way I feel with no guilt or regret whatsoever. I’m getting there.
6. When you travel, how do you deal with chronic fatigue and pain?
When I travel, I am able to do as much or as little as I’d like to. When I feel tired, I can rest and take it easy. I usually try to get a caffeinated drink because traveling for me isn’t really about sitting around, not by a beach, not in a fancy hotel. I like to be out and exploring so I rest as much as possible and get out when I can. I always have pain medication when I am traveling, especially since I like to walk around a lot. I usually find nice places to sit, like a café or park, when my knees are unable to bear my weight any longer. I always purchase travel insurance when I travel for extra protection.
7. How is travel therapy for you?
Travel is therapeutic in so many different ways! My mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health is all connected. When I am traveling to new places, I feel free. I usually travel alone and I am able to do whatever I want, when I want, with who I want and that’s exciting. I get to make my dreams a reality and be at peace with myself. I enjoy solitude and introspection and I also enjoy meeting new people; when I travel, I can combine the two. I truly believe the happiness and peace that I get from traveling contributes to my physical health. When I am happier, I have more energy and I make better choices for my body. I can exercise regularly and I chose better food for myself. Everyone has something that makes them feel alive, traveling and connecting with the world is my way of doing that.
8. Have you ever had any flare ups or setbacks with your illness while traveling? If so how did you deal with it?
I’ve never had a flare up while traveling but I have had a flare up right before a trip to South Africa and I had to cancel the trip. I was going to study abroad in South Africa and Swaziland in the summer of 2009 and about a week before my trip, I had an abscess on my leg and I went to the doctor to have it drained. While at the hospital, they found something else wrong with me, I can’t even remember what it was, but it kept me in the hospital for a few days. My mom came to be with me during that time and the doctors suggested that I don’t go to South Africa, so I didn’t. I was devastated. I probably should have just gone anyway.
9. What are a few things you want people to know about Lupus?
I don’t have anything specific to Lupus. I would like people to be more understanding of others’ situations. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up.
10. If anyone is reading this who has lupus and is afraid to travel, what do you want to tell them?
I would urge anyone, regardless of age or ability, who has Lupus to travel and don’t wait on anyone else to do it! Be kind to yourself and treat yourself to a vacation, even if it is just for a weekend. We can’t let sickness stop us from living the life that we want. If you want to travel, DO IT! You will surprise yourself. Lupus is not a death sentence, it only becomes one when you stop living and you let your pain destroy you. This goes for people on dialysis as well, probably even more so for those people on dialysis because there is more of a physical restriction attached to dialysis. Don’t be afraid to travel. Listen to your body. Trust that things will work out. And if you are afraid to travel and need a travel buddy who understands your illness and your limitations, just buy my plane ticket and hotel, and I will go with you.