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What I Learned While Flying Over Afghanistan

What I Learned While Flying Over Afghanistan

In July 2016, I took a commercial airline that happened to fly over Afghanistan en route to London from Delhi.

I remember sitting comfortably only moments before, almost asleep in my seat, when suddenly a voice came over the PA system informing us we would likely be experiencing turbulence. We were about to fly over mountainous terrain near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Wait… what? Did they just say Afghanistan…? I shrieked to myself. Now wide-awake, I felt my heart begin to pound in my chest, louder than an African drum. I proceeded to tighten my seatbelt and adjust the clasp in record time.

I’ll give the airline credit – we were gliding effortlessly over the mountains at a very high altitude (38,000 feet, to be exact), yet I distinctly remember being frozen with fear the moment I learned where we were.

Like many people around the world, I had bought into the sensationalism created by the mass media, especially when it came to places or countries in the Middle East with a perceived stigma such as Afghanistan.

Yet just as quickly as fear arrived, a feeling of curiosity unexpectedly replaced it. I found myself reaching over and opening the window shade beside me.

As I did this, I saw cloud formations lining the mountainous landscape that seemed to stretch on forever. Instead of being overwhelmed with thoughts about the potential threats that lingered below, I found myself wondering about the Afghani people who lived there.

The everyday men, women, and children who resided in and around Kabul, as well as the far-flung stretches of this war-torn country.

Every single day they undoubtedly lived in a state of perpetual fear, yet every day they also had a choice to live in the hope of possibility – the hope that one day soon things would get better.

I slowly closed the window shade, panged with the realization of my innate privilege that so many others lacked. I reflected on the fact that I was seated on an airplane flying over this region (unlike those who were on the ground, living daily among the terror and warfare).

I was grateful to be able to catch a small glimpse of Afghanistan’s rugged beauty. Although the moment was short lived, I was in awe, it was truly breathtaking.

I have since learned about the warmth of the everyday Afghani people. Their hospitality is said to be just as beautiful as the country’s rugged landscapes, and one day I hope to be able to experience this firsthand.

The more we wander out and explore our magical world (or life itself), the more we’re likely to be faced with uncertain moments. (In fact, it’s guaranteed that we certainly will.)

And while I’m not advocating that we intentionally send ourselves to war-torn countries or places of perceived imminent danger, it’s important for us to realize that wherever we are in the world, life is truly operating like a mirror.

Life will continually reflect back to us (and show us) whatever we are choosing to see.

Our job is to be aware during these moments of hesitation and to consciously choose to consider the possibilities that lay before us, instead of succumbing to our fears each and every time.

By doing so, we ensure that we are open and available to experience the truly magical countries, cultures, and people of our remarkable world.

 Stay in your pursuit of magic!
How To Travel Despacito

How To Travel Despacito

By now, most of the planet has heard of the hit Spanish song “Despacito” (which means “slowly” in English). Thanks to Justin Bieber, the Canadian crooner who helped it go viral (especially with its English translation remix), the track has become the most streamed/downloaded hit EVER.

Meanwhile, the song’s success has caused a unprecedented and unexpected tourism spike in Puerto Rico, where the video was filmed. It seems that everything associated with this Bieber kid goes viral, right?

However, for the purposes of this blog, I want to explore the meaning of the word “despacito” itself rather than the sexual connotations it embodies within the lyrics of a hit song. I want to delve into the idea of what it means to travel slowly, purposefully and with intent. 

So how do we maximize the limited travel time we have, without being everywhere and seeing everything, leaving us tired and burnt out (the exact opposite of what a vacation is meant to be)?

To help you travel despacito, I’ve compiled a list of the top three tips I’ve learned while traveling—juggling time constraints, and yet doing my best to never miss a moment of the magic!


1.Never follow the crowd


One of the biggest mistakes a traveler can make is choosing to follow the crowd. Whether you’re spending the day at Disneyworld or at Machu Picchu in Peru, make a point to forget about what everyone else is doing.

Just because others are willing to wait in the hot afternoon sun in order to go on all the rides (with a two-hour wait line per ride) it doesn’t mean that you have to as well.

Maybe you prefer people watching, or eating an ice cream on a park bench. Maybe this means you’ll only get to enjoy a few rides or a leisurely stroll along the mountainside versus a jam-packed afternoon rushing to see every possible tourist attraction there is.

Personally, whenever I see a crowd go one way, I prefer to hightail it the other. This usually leads me to a quiet cafe, a picturesque landscape, or an opportunity to engage in interesting conversation with the locals.

You’ll feel a lot more content (and calmer) when you decide to do things your way versus shuffling along with the crowd doing what tourists are “supposed” to do.

2. Plan for the fact that nothing goes to plan!


That’s right … the more you travel, the more things will likely go wrong. Now, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here and put a damper on your travel plans, but it’s important to realize that the more we put ourselves out there in the world, the more opportunities there are for the unexpected to arise. Flights are potentially going to be delayed, baggage lost, tours canceled or someone in your group may even get unexpectedly sick.

I’ve traveled extensively, which means I’ve basically experienced all of the above. My best advice is to acknowledge that these things may happen, so allow extra time that you might not have previously factored into your itinerary … and breathe.

If nothing goes to plan (and remember, it likely won’t), relax and take a moment to laugh about it.… As they say, it’s not what happens to you in life, but how you react to it that matters.

3 Experience SMS


Let’s discuss SMS, and I don’t mean “short message service” or what most people refer to as texting. I’m actually talking about the recently coined term for SMS, which basically means taking a social media sabbatical.

Hands up if you’re addicted to your phone. I’m pretty sure most hands in the virtual room would be raised here (myself included).

Whether it’s checking emails, answering work calls, or simply scrolling through social media, most of us have fallen victim to being on for most hours of the day.

However, think about it for a minute: If we are staring at our screen, how can we be truly present wherever we are? The sad fact is that we may very well be missing the breathtaking landscape (or person that is sitting directly before us).

Take a moment, a few hours, or even a few days if you can while traveling and simply unplug altogether. Your body, mind, and traveling companions will be eternally grateful for fewer distractions and your undivided attention.

Finally, to travel despacito simply means to travel slowly and be present wherever you are. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and traveling the world shouldn’t be expected to be experienced in one vacation either.

There will always be other opportunities in life to revisit the places you truly love, or instead, you may prefer to create new and exciting adventures along the way. As they say, if there is a will (and strong determination) there will always certainly be a way.

Stay in your pursuit of magic!

5 Reasons You Should Travel

5 Reasons You Should Travel

For years I’ve been teaching kids about the colorful cultures, people, and countries that make up our world (through my children’s book series) and I’ve learned many incredible insights along the way.

Traveling has taught me so much about both myself and others and I truly believe it’s an invaluable education for us all ( one that cannot be taught within the four walls of a classroom).

There are so many reasons I would encourage each and every one of you to travel, for now, though here is a list of my top five.

1. To Humble Yourself

Many of us come from a first world country, which has allowed us a certain standard of living. This includes yet is not limited to the basics of running water, food to eat, a roof over our heads and access to a basic education.

(That’s not to say that each of us hasn’t experienced our own set of struggles or even financial hardship at times), yet for the most part, we have been given the opportunity to not only survive but thrive.

However, this is is not the case for millions of people around our world right now and the more we travel the more our eyes are opened to a very stifling reality that many endure.

We become humbled when we discover that not everyone has access to food and water on a daily basis, which allows us to both connect with their struggles on a deeper level, as well as develop a greater appreciation of where we come from.

2. To Learn About Other Cultures

Despite the many adversities that people face around our world, we often find it’s those who have so little, who are the ones that greet us during our travels wearing a large smile upon their faces.

They emanate pure joy at the simple opportunity to invite us into their homes, share what little food they may have and proudly introduce their families. They too have many hopes and dreams if we are willing to engage and listen.

There are over 7 billion people on the planet right now, and yet despite our perceived cultural differences, beliefs and or language barriers we come to find that we are not really that dissimilar.

Through connecting and sharing stories with those we meet during our travels, we learn that all humans have the same basic universal needs which include the need to feel safe, the need to feel understood, and the need to love and be loved by others.

3. To Appreciate Experiences Versus Things

We live in a time when consumerism is at an all-time high and many of us have been conditioned to think that the more we buy or have, the happier we will ultimately become. Unfortunately many times we find that buying more stuff doesn’t equate with us feeling happier at all.

Sure, don’t get me wrong it may provide us with instant gratification, yet when the novelty subsides ( usually within a few hours, days or weeks), we are continually left with a void of some kind.

If our lives are lacking connection, love, adventure or purpose no amount of stuff is ever going to fill this perpetual void. However, choosing to fill our free time with meaningful experiences either solo or with those we love, provides us with a sense of adventure and childlike curiosity.

4.To Stay In The Pursuit of Magic

The more we seek, the more we find. Just because we grow up into well-meaning adults doesn’t mean we should ever lose our childlike sense of wonder or stop in our pursuit of magic.

From the time we are born we are constantly growing and discovering new things about ourselves and others and this should continue to be an ever-evolving process throughout our entire lives.

No one person has the same set of interests, likes, dislikes, etc yet through choosing to engage in new experiences as often as we possibly can ( ie trying a new hobby, taking a day trip, exploring somewhere new, or even going abroad), we allow our senses to run wild and explore.

This shapes our identity, creates a lifetime of meaningful memories and allows us to save a small fortune on buying a garage full of unfulfilling stuff.

5. To Connect

No, I don’t mean staying connected via the internet ( although the high-speed connection is always a good thing ;), rather I’m talking about connecting with other people and more importantly finding your tribe.

If we forever stay in the same town, only ever chatting with the same individuals we’ve known since grade school (or our fellow office workers we’ve known for the last 10, 20 or even 30 years), how will we ever be able to view life from a different perspective?

We may know what we know ( or think we know what we know), yet what about everything else? What about the amazing experiences yet to be had with like-minded individuals who we perhaps haven’t met yet?

If we never travel, we risk not meeting people who will either teach us something, encourage us to become something, or simply enrich our lives in some way.

The more you put yourself out there and engage with new people, the more you discover the types of people who you really want to be part of your tribe.

Ultimately, when we connect with like-minded individuals, whether it be family, hometown friends or people we’ve met throughout our travels, we establish a core group of positive people, who will powerfully encourage us to become the best version of ourselves.

5 Reasons I Travel the World

5 Reasons I Travel the World


I have been traveling the world for years now ( since the age of 16), and there are many things I’ve learned along the journey. People often ask me how and why I travel, so I’ve compiled the following list. I hope it inspires you to travel too!

1.Finding Happiness Through Experiences Versus Things

We live in a time where society has been heavily influenced and blindsided by consumerism. I grew up with the ideology that the more stuff I owned and obtained ( ie car, house, electronics etc), the happier I would become.

However, while attempting to keep up with the Jones so to speak, I realized that material possessions and “stuff”, never seemed to equate with any sort of long-term happiness or fulfillment.

Sure, don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy a good stroll throughout a local marketplace as well as having the basics of an Android phone, Laptop etc, yet true happiness for me comes through connecting with others, as well as meaningful experiences versus buying material possessions.

2. Becoming A Better Human Being

Traveling, particularly off the beaten path to places like Morocco and India has opened my eyes and helped me understand how the rest of the world lives. Coming from the first world and experiencing first world type problems, it’s been important for me to identify with others struggles on a daily basis. Through doing this I believe I have embraced a good sense of humility.

3.  Educating Myself Through Travel

Although I’m a huge advocate for higher learning and extremely grateful for my college education, I believe that in order to successfully grow as human beings, we need to travel. From the time I was born until the age of 16, I resided in a small Western Australian seaside town where everybody virtually knew each other by name.

Don’t get me wrong, the sunsets were beautiful and I was afforded the luxury of living in a community that both thrived and was safe, however, in doing so, I virtually knew nothing about the world at large.

I understand that not everybody wants to travel internationally (although I’d highly recommend it for the purposes of meeting the amazing cultures, countries, and people that exist out there). In any case, I would definitely encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone and more importantly their town or city, as often as they possibly can.

Every single time I have traveled I have learned something. Whether it’s allowing myself to have a greater appreciation for nature, connecting with others who are living differently from myself or simply evaluating my life’s purpose – traveling has always been the catalyst to see that happen.

4. To Face My Fears ( False, Evidence, Appearing, Real)

If we listened to the media we would probably never ever travel. On a daily basis, there are acts of terrorism or violence happening somewhere around the four corners of our globe. I believe much of what we hear is sensationalism hard at work keeping society living in perpetuating fear.

As a female traveler, it’s definitely important for me to research any given place I will travel to, in order to ensure my safety, however, I try to avoid reading too many articles and simply rely on my intuition and common sense.

I’ll admit that I do often experience a level of hesitation when trying new things, yet the other side of me is always seeking to push the boundaries in all facets of my life. This includes visiting new places, taking airplanes when I’m scared of flying and making an extra effort to meet strangers on the journey ( when at times I can be an all out introvert).

Fear, when broken down, is simply false evidence appearing real and most of the time all it does is prevent us from living our dreams. I’ve decided that fear is just an innate survival skill trying to protect me and yet I  can still choose to “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

5. To Find My Tribe

Since High School and college, I’ve grown as a person and both my interests and pursuits have changed. This isn’t to say that I love nothing more than connecting with some of my hometown buddies ( they truly are some of the most beautiful spirited people I have ever met).

However, living in New York has made me a different person. Traveling and seeing the struggles of the people within the tiny villages of Rajasthan, India has also changed me, in ways that are hard to explain.

I’ve seen many things (both good and bad) throughout my journey, and often its hard for others to understand where I’m coming from or be able to connect with my stories unless they too have traveled

Since “being on the road”, I’ve met many like-minded men and women who are simply seeking something different. They’re wanting a change from society’s perceived idea of normal, and they too long for a sense of freedom.

Through exploring our magical world, I believe I have found more meaning and purpose in my life and I hope to inspire others to find their true purpose too!