5 Important Travel Tips

Travel is the only thing that makes you richer

 Hello everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Reader’s Q & A, Fall Edition.

Autumn is now well installed and brought shorter days as well as chilly nights. We had a great summer, so I have absolutely no complaints! Now it’s time to enjoy sweater weather, coffee, hot chocolate and watch Nature do what it does best, offer us a grandiose show of colors🙂

You know that I LOVE receiving correspondence (a.k.a=emails) or messages from you, whether it is through Social Media or to by Inbox! It sure encourages me to keep doing what I have been doing for over 5 years and also know that what I write does not fall on deaf ears, which is quite a relief😉

I sure am very humbled and quite honored when a reader, whether young or young at heart confide in me and write me to ask for advice. It is a great opportunity not only to share what I know and but also share my own experiences or lessons learned.

As in previous installments, I replied to my reader’s email by being as honest as I possibly can and give my two cents.

The following caught my attention as soon as I read the subject line and knew I simply had to respond!

Here is the question:

“Dear Karla, I am an avid reader of your blog and decided to write to ask you for some advice.

I graduated from high school a few months ago and want to travel before going to college.

I was wondering what you recommend or suggest for first international trip.

Thank you so much for your help!

Jenny

 

Here is my reply:

Dear Jenny,

Thank you so much for your message!

It makes me happy to read that my blog posts are well received by people all over the world and young adventurous souls like you.

First of all, congratulations for your graduation! Well done. I am sure that you are proud of your accomplishment and deserve taking a break before continuing your studies!

As someone who took a gap year, before going to college, and also studied abroad (even though it was only for a month but what a fun experience that was!), I absolutely encourage anyone to do the same.

Trust me, it will be very helpful and you will learn many valuable and necessary lessons in many areas for which you will be grateful later on!

Now I applaud you for having the courage to leave your comfort zone and for wanting to go out there into the world and explore it (while always having your safety in mind of course).

Since you asked, here are my 5 Important Travel Tips I offer you.

These 5 important travel tips are for first time travelers but also for travelers in general. It is important to keep them in mind in order to have a great time whether it is locally or globally!

1- Please remember how valuable our passport is. Never take it for granted and guard it very closely.

My most valuable travel companion is my Canadian passport, it opens many doors and allows me to enjoy the sights of any place I visit, anywhere in the world!

Proudly holding my passport in Hong Kong and getting ready to go back home! Yes I once backpacked🙂

 

I have already shared with you how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am for having 2 passports (Canadian and Salvadoran) and how much work my father went through in order to get it for me, my siblings and my mother.

There is not a time I don’t stop and say in silence, father thank you, I appreciate all the sacrifices you made in order for me to be able to wander to the four corners of the world.

My trustworthy and very valuable travel companion is my Canadian passport, not only it opens many doors around the world, it reminds me to be very grateful for the freedom it provides and the experiences i am able to live because of it!

I sure have been to a few places thanks to it.   Not everyone can have it, so whatever you do, always keep it in a safe place while travelling and make photocopies in case (God forbid) happens. I always have it in a passport cover and carry photocopies inside my luggage and wallet.

 

2- Always buy travel and health insurance.

As you know by now I LOVE adventures and they have taken me to places I didn’t think I EVER would.

Feel the fear and do it anyway! Learning to Kayak on a river with Phoenix Rising, in Charlotte Harbor , SW Florida

There’s no better way to connect with Mother Nature and oh yes, went kayaking for the first time!

 

River Kayaking in Southwest Florida where crocodiles live and are in their natural habitat? Check

 

Zip Lining with Canopy Safari Tours in Costa Rica was just what i need to kick my fear of heights! What an exhilarating experience ;)

The 50 foot drop! Feel the fear and do it anyway🙂

 

Zip Lining through 18 platforms deep in the Costa Rican the rain forest? Check

 

One of the symbols of the Finnish capital is Helsinki Cathedral which overlooks Senate Square. It is a place to recharge batteries!

Helsinki Cathedral seen from Senate Square

 

Finding myself in one of the most beautiful Scandinavian cities for the first time? Check

 

Colorful façade seen in Chalchuapa, El Salvador, Central America

Traveling through my home country and taking my family on many road trips? Check

 

This is View of Coex Mall & World Trade Center as seen from Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul, South Korea.

Living and working in one of the most crowded yet fantastic Asian cities for a year? Check

 

I could go on and on giving you examples but they all have one thing in common. I bought individual and comprehensive travel and health insurance, both individually and others for a year (great value and protection).

As they say, it’s better be prepared and not need it than needing it and not having it. Starting any trip with peace of mind and knowing that you are covered in case something happens to you while abroad is simply priceless! I know It can add up to the cost of your trip ($40-$50 extra?) but think of how much it would cost if (God forbid) something would happen to you, like an injury or medical emergency (which would come from your own pockets and who knows how).

So I am an enthusiast advocate of insurance and greatly recommend you get one EVERY . Single. Time you go somewhere. It is totally worth it, do trust me on that one.

 

3- Make a list of things you absolutely need

This is something I learned the hard way and I am sure some of you have as well. Nowadays your luggage weight is very important if you don’t want to end up paying unnecessary fees.

I see people at the airport trying to squeeze things into one suitcase or their carry-on (I’ll get back to this). And it is obvious that it does NOT fit so why sweat over it?

Before you leave home, take the time to sort all the things that you want to bring and narrow down your selections. Do you really need 5 jeans and 10 pairs of shoes, seriously?

The great thing about point No 2 is that after buying travel and health insurance, the company or website I buy it from sends me a very handy check list which helps me plan and pack for any trip.

You can tick the boxes as you go along and in the end you have your basics (hygiene products, clothing, skin protection, documents, important info etc.) It has worked pretty well for me thus far and I highly recommend anyone to at least look at it.

Now I have mastered the art of packing light, roll things up neatly so that there is more space left for things you will bring back and being organized will help you locate things quicker!

 

4- Do some research on the destination you are visiting

Whether it is for work or leisure, it is important to have the right electronics or equipment to allow you to work, research better! You can also bring them during your travels and stay productive.

Photo credit: wilofcom

Thanks to all the information available to us within easy reach allows us to virtually visit any town, city or country with just a click of a mouse. You can buy a real city guide or download many maps or guides available online to your computer, mobile or tablet.

Learning some basic words (like good morning, hello, good-bye, thank you) or expressions will greatly be appreciated by the locals! They see that you are making the effort and even though language may be a barrier, a smile, kindness and gratitude go a long way!

I must admit that I am the first to avoid touristy and overcrowded tourist sightseeing spots and often go off the beaten path but I am careful and not wander where I shouldn’t. I always have a map with me or ask locals how I can find my way back to a subway station or starting point.

I have been a very fortunate and happy recipient of Random Acts of Kindness but that has taught me great and important lessons.

Ah bring enough funds to cover all your expenses and perhaps just one credit card with enough funds to cover a real emergency but not to go on a wild shopping spree.

One of my biggest mistakes EVER was to have plastic cards. It can totally ruin your finances and transform you into a slave to the credit card companies or bank (you’ll be like a hamster on an endless spinning wheel), use it with great caution. Again bring your ATM card and liquid funds and keep them in a safe place. Do not flash it as a lot of people still do!

 

5- Immerse yourself in the culture and do as locals do

The whole point of traveling to a new destination is to become immersed in the local culture, history and do as locals eat, live and play!

Do not go to restaurants like you do back home (golden arch, I am talking about you), try a local eatery instead.

Be open to try local specialties, be adventurous with food! Why not take the time to actually sit down at a café and enjoy your drink with a view or strike up a conversation instead of running/walking away with a cup in your hands?

There is no better pleasure in life than taking the time to sit down and taste a delicious cup of coffee, whether at home or anywhere in the world. If you need to refuel, get some caffeine flowing in your veins to see and do more ;)

Photo credit: JayMantri

I also highly suggest to go to festivals, exhibitions, where the locals gather. Interact with people, they can tell you stories of the place you are visiting. They are the natural story tellers!

Overall, be nice and respect them. After all you are the guests! So be good ones.

 

Extra

If there is an important piece of advice I could give, it would be the following.

 

Set a good example for yourself, your group AND your country!

When I worked at a store and restaurant, I witnessed and served loud, rowdy and rude visitors and had to stay calm and not let it get to me. Their superiority attitude was a real shame. It made the rest look bad! Have good manners, please do not trash!

I have seen people throw bottles, cups, paper bags, wrapping paper or just different things in broad day light while others look and think it’s not a big deal. Well, newsflash, it IS a big deal.

There are bins for that purpose so keep it clean. Ah, something very important I am forgetting is to be considerate and orderly where you are staying (hotel, hostel, Bed & Breakfast, vacation home).

Do not waste unnecessary resources (letting the water run, leave the lights on, leaving the room as if a tornado hit it etc.) Again, be a responsible traveler, a good guest and leave with positive and unforgettable memories!

So that rounds up my 5 Important Travel Tips I can give.

I hope you will go on many adventures and have a great time. I know you certainly will!

Now I’m turning it over to you.

Tell me (us)

Do you agree with what I said?

Would you add something else?

 What do you wish you had known before you first traveled?

Share your stories and speak your mind in the comment section!

Until next time, hasta la próxima.

Happy Travels, Felices Viajes!

Tashi Delek, All the best

Karla🙂

Hearty and healthy Greek salad is a hit every time

7 World Foods which take Cheese to a whole new level

 

Age is not important, unless you are a cheese.

– Helen Hayes

 

 Cheese is one of those rare foods loved the world over. You’d be very hard-pressed to find any culture which doesn’t adore the stuff, so today we’re going to take a look at 7 world foods which take cheese to a whole new level.

Love cheese? Come take a look at these 7 world foods that take cheese to a whole new level! Foodies will love :)

 

Khachapuri – Georgia

Khachapuri cheese with bread and eggs

 By sunriseOdyssey CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Cheese. Bread. Eggs. Say whatever you like about the Georgians, but they clearly have terrific taste buds when it comes to simple savory treats.

The dish of Khachapuri is very easy to make, but has a simplistic genius about it – with bread that has been stuffed with cheese often served up with a fried egg sitting atop it.

The dish can be garnished with whatever herbs you like and is most commonly created with mozzarella cheese. Whatever combination of flavors or cheese brand you use, you’re without question onto a winner here.

 

Paneer – india


Paneer cheese, vegetarian food from India

By Mdsmds0 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

It would be wrong to single out just one recipe which constitutes the Indian cheese of Paneer as the main ingredient, simply because there are so many out there.

This cheese is incredibly high on the acidity charts and made by curdling milk with added lemon juice or vinegar – helping to create a strong and unique tasting dairy product.

The versatility of Paneer means it can be incorporated into both savory and sweet dishes, and would certainly not be out-of-place in a curry.

 

 Maine Crab and Gouda Stuffed Mushrooms – USA

This dish goes down as an US one, but the reality is it’s primarily popular in just the state of Maine alone – although it’s slowly starting to translate across the country as a whole.

The recipe is a relatively simple one – like a lot of the best foods in life – with mushrooms that are hollowed out and filled with melted Gouda and baked Maine Crab.

While seafood and cheese doesn’t sound like a mixture that would always work together, it’s a tried and tested combination when it comes to this increasingly popular delight.

 

Sardinian Maggot Cheese – Italy

Maggot Cheese or also known as casu marzu is a very peculiar cheese made from sheep milk with larvae inside. Definitely not for the faint at heart but adventurous palates!

Photo credit: By Shardan (Own work) CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, we know we promised you delicious foods, but there’s always an exception to the rule. For us, Sardinian maggot cheese is that anomaly.

Sadly, this isn’t some clever or misleading name – rather it’s quite literally cheese that’s been made from sheep’s milk with live insect larvae inside.

The legality of this dish is currently up for debate in Sardinia, but one thing for sure is that you’re going to want to hope you don’t come across a fully grown maggot – with some which can leap up to 15 cm and leave a strong aftertaste. Enticing, or what?

 

 Pear Salad With Tamari Pecans and Blue Cheese

This dish isn’t native to just one nation in Asia, but instead has become a popular dish all across the Eastern continent.

Blending together a mix of sweet and savory flavors, this light yet somehow filling meal sees a perfect combination of fruit, nut and delicious – and pungent – blue cheese.

The kick from the potency of the cheese after the sweetness of the pear is a fantastic juxtaposing flavor combo, while the crunchiness of the tamari pecans serves to provide a fantastic texture.

 

Obatzda– Germany
Obatzda cheese with pretzel from Germany

Following along the popular theme of cheese and bread, Obatzda is a Bavarian dish which is made from aged Camembert.

The soft cheese is mixed with roughly half as much butter, before being flavored with a variation of different spices – including paprika, horseradish, cream cheese and even beer.

The bread element comes from its traditional partner-in-crime, the German pretzel. It’s common to see these two central European dishes served up together on the same plate.

 

 Spinach and Cauliflower Gratin – Australia

In what is arguably the healthiest dish you’re going to see on our list, the last meal which takes cheese to a whole new level is one from the land down under.

This recipe sees spinach and cauliflower – two items which will do you a power of good – combined together amid a bed of the cheese of your choosing.

Good old-fashioned cheddar is a popular choice for this one, with the mature variety often working best to create the right texture and consistency for this relatively healthy bite.

These are just seven of many different world foods which take cheese to a whole new level.

 

BONUS

 

I couldn’t end this post without adding some cheesy (pun intended) and other well-loved meals such as:

Greek Salad

Hearty and healthy Greek salad is a hit every time

A staple in every Greek Diet and also a national dish. It is made with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, black pepper and a dash of extra olive oil, greek of course. Say yum!

 

Pizza Margherita

 Pizza Margherita is a classic and delicious pizza that originated in Naples, Italy

There’s nothing more Italian than Pizza Margherita which was created in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy by a pizza maker in Naples.

It’s main ingredients are the same colors of the flag, basil (green), mozzarella cheese (white) and tomatoes (red).

Needless to say that a century after its creation, it is loved by everyone in every corner of the world!

Last but not least

Pupusas

Pupusas are El Salvador's national dish and for many good reasons. This corn or rice flour tortilla is filled with cheese, meat or vegetables and grilled to perfection. Served with coleslaw and tomato sauce, it is the best snack or comfort food loved by nationals and foreigners around the world.

El Salvador’s national dish is a delight, not only for your eyes but for your taste buds.

Made with either corn or rice flour, Pupusas are round tortillas filled with various kinds of traditional cheese such as queso duro (hard cheese), queso fresco (fresh cheese).

They are put on the grill until the cheese melts and each side has a brown, crunchy crust. Served on the side with curtido (coleslaw) and salsa (tomato sauce with spices).

Normally it can be had with coffee or hot chocolate, aguas frescas (fresh, natural juices), soda or traditional drinks such as horchata (drink made with barley).

It is THE perfect snack and comfort food.

Why not try one of these dishes for yourself at home? – or, better yet, actually travel to one of these places and experience the genuine article for yourself.

 

Now we’re turning it over to you.

Tell us…

 

Do you love cheese?

 What’s your favorite kind?

 What is your favorite meal to which you add cheese?

 

 

Tell us all about or show us (go ahead, make us drool!) by including links to your photos or blog posts.

Until next time, hasta la próxima!

Karla🙂

Beach and huts in Cancun, Mexico

What To See and Do in Cancun, Mexico

It’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times. 

– Asian Proverb

 

Imagine this. Walking on warm turquoise waters, feel soft, powdery white sand beneath your feet, your face caressed by the sea breeze, enjoying plenty of sunshine and sipping a frozen cold drink? Say “Si, por favor. Translation= Yes please!)”.

It is hard to believe that Cancun was once a sleepy fishing village up until the 1970’s when hotel investors and the government saw the tremendous potential of this naturally rich area, thus joined forces to transform it into Cancun, a magnetic destination it is today!

Cancun, Mexico is bordered by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea

Strategically located at the northeastern tip of the Riviera Maya (in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo) bordering the Caribbean Sea and located only a few hours by airplane from major cities, Cancun is such an appealing city for travelers of all ages, from the young to the young at heart.

Besides working on your tan and get some natural vitamin D and vitamin Sea, you can enjoy a wide array of water sports, go swimming, snorkeling or diving in clear waters, go for a stroll along the beach or simply rest and relax poolside or soak up the sun right next to the Mar Caribe and hear the sound of waves gently reaching the shore.

Here are some suggestions of What to see and do in Cancun, Mexico.

Looking for a fun, sunny, affordable and easy to reach destination in the south? Find out What to see and do in Cancun, Mexico

Reveling in history and culture

El Rey archeological site

Mayan ruins still stand tall in El Rey archeological site in Cancun, Mexico

These ancient ruins, known as their playground, are a reminder of the great Mayan civilization who was present in a large area from Central America all the way to the Yucatan Peninsula.  They established themselves and build some impressive structures which have stood the test of time and Mother Nature’s elements.

Island Hopping

Isla Mujeres

This small island, measuring only 7 km in length is located approximately an hour from the mainland.

Its name means “Women’s Island” and is a quick and fun escape. The best way to explore this tiny island is to rent a golf cart or simply go on foot.

Adventures

XCaret Park

Have an adventurous soul and are a thrill seeker? Then head to Xcaret Park in Cancun, Mexico for guaranteed fun!

Xcaret is known as the best ecological and archaeological park in Cancun and in Mexico. Several activities are offered to visitors, both local and international and they are included in the admission. Among them are: Exploration of underground rivers, Fauna observation (in their natural habitat), Mayan ball games and attend a colorful and spectacular show at night.

Xel-Ha Park

Aquatic sports lovers will be impressed with this theme and ecotourism park. It was built on the site of an ancient archaeological site, Xetha. Visitors to the park can go snorkeling, scuba diving, observe Flora, fauna and see underground currents.

Underground Caves or Cenotes

Enjoy the silence while swimming in one of Mother Nature's spectacular creations, underground caves or cenotes in Cancun, Mexico.

If the hustle and bustle of the city is too much, go under…to the underground caves otherwise known as cenotes which are fresh water wells and a system of caverns and rivers dating back centuries.

It gives a whole new meaning to enjoy the silence and beauty of a place. A must for adventure lovers and thrill seekers.

 

Beach hopping

Who says that you have to stay in one place and go to the same beach day after day when along the Zona Hotelera in Cancun there are many public beaches waiting just for you?

Life sure is better at the beach. Cancun, Mexico has many public beaches where you can enjoy views such as this.

From Playa Marlin to Playa Chac Mool to Playa Delfines,

Dreamy Playa Chac-Mool in Cancun, Mexico

the choice is yours. Simply put in your bag a towel, sunscreen, water and a snack. There is nothing like a great and relaxing day beach. In Spanish they say: “La vida es más sabrosa en la playa” (Life is so good at the beach).

Mexican Culinary Experiences

When in Mexico, you have to taste the colorful, flavorful and delicious food!

How about some Tacos?

Feed your senses with delicious and colorful Mexican food with traditional tacos which are a must.

Perhaps Enchiladas?

A true feast for the eyes and palate. Try enchiladas and the works in Cancun, Mexico or elsewhere in the Republic. Foodies love it!

Whichever meal you decide to sink your teeth into, your taste buds will thank you.

Let’s not forget the drinks!

A frozen Margarita

Nothing quenches your thirst better than a frozen drink. This is a Margarita, one of the many refreshing drinks to be had in Cancun, Mexico and worldwide.

or the Mexican National drink by excellence, Tequila

Tequila IS the national drink of Mexico, thus you must taste it while in Cancun, Mexico or even right where you live!

Retail Therapy

To burn off some of the calories digested; it is a great idea to go for a walk. Fortunately Downtown Cancun is a great place to go on foot.

There are many shops and malls such as Plaza de Las Americas

La Isla shopping mall

Go for some retail therapy at La Isla mall in Cancun, Mexico

And Plaza La Fiesta

 

Bonus

If you still have energy left or if you wish to travel a bit further and take advantage of your time in Cancun, here are some other Day trip suggestions:

Playa del Carmen

Uncrowded unlike its famous neighbour, Cancun, Mexico to the north, it has become more and more popular and it is easy to see why. A great coastal town that has lots to offer visitors and locals.

Photo credit:  Brad Nelson (Own work) CC BY-SA 2.5  Creative Commons Licence via Wikimedia Commons

Far less crowded than Cancun yet loved by both locals and foreigners alike, Playa del Carmen is slowly catching up to its neighbor to the north.

This coastal city is more laid-back, relaxed, and friendly but also lots of fun. It is a must stop for visitors going to the surrounding islands.

Take a walk along Quinta Avenida, have a good meal at a local restaurant or have a drink at one of the many bars with a million-dollar view. It will be unforgettable.

Cozumel

Located only an hour away from the Mainland, Cozumel is Mexico's largest island and is a scuba diving paradise. It also has some fine beaches and a nice place to recharge batteries.

Right across Playa del Carmen is the island of Cozumel which is the Mexican largest island.

It is known for its reefs (arrecifes) which are the delight of scuba divers. There are lots of water-related activities (fishing, sailing, kayak etc.) but it is also a haven for those who seek to be in contact with nature.

Of course, it’s the Caribbean, therefore tranquil, white-sand beaches abound. The choice is yours.

Tulum

Tulum Ruins facing the Caribbean Sea in Tulum, Mexico. A must see in the Riviera Maya.

No trip to Cancun and Rivera Maya would be complete without a short or extended visit to one of the world’s most stunning Mayan archaeological sites, Tulum.

You probably have seen El Castillo, or the Castle which is within Tulum National Park and overlooks the Caribbean Sea.

How can such an advanced and brilliant civilization found that specific location, built a walled-city, lived and thrived many centuries ago and disappear after the arrival of the foreign invaders? Simply puzzling and mind-boggling.

Tulum is of the best preserved Mayan archaeological sites and obviously one of the most popular and visited in the country for many good reasons.

Besides its rich history and breathtaking beauty, it is a perfect place to relax and unwind at the beach. Because after all you will never find such a million-dollar view!

As you can see there is so much to see and do in Cancun, Mexico. The only thing you will miss is time, more time to explore more.

Whether you go for a holiday in the sun solo, with family or perhaps on your honeymoon

Make some amazing memories and fall in love, not only with your spouse but with Cancun, Mexico as well!

or simply to live exciting and unforgettable adventures, you  now have a great option!

Now it’s your turn…

Tell us,

 

Have you been to Cancun or would you like to go?

What have you heard or read about it?

 

 

Share your two cents with us in the comments section below.

Until next time. Hasta la próxima!

All the best, todo lo mejor.

Karla🙂

These 5 awesome photo editing tools for social media will help you find free, high-quality and colorful images for your posts or updates, TS76, photography

5 Awesome Photo Editing Tools for Social Media

An image is worth a thousand words

 

We are currently living in a society where Technology and Social Media rule and the way we communicate is right at our fingertips. Our text messages, wall posts, tweets or snap chats are delivered immediately. It is always accompanied by an image which says more than a thousand words. It piques our curiosity and leaves us wanting more right?

I have already shared with you some fabulous photography websites where you can search and find free, high-quality, original, colorful photos to be used in for your updates on any of the many social media platforms.

Now I would like to share with you 5 Awesome Photo Editing Tools for Social Media

These 5 awesome photo editing tools for social media will help you find free, high-quality and colorful images for your posts or updates, TS76, photography

that I currently use and how they improve my own photos as well as those I download from the sites mentioned previously.

Here they are in no specific order:

Canva

Canva, photo editing online tool, photography, TS76

Canva, photo editing online tool, photography, TS76

http://www.canva.com

Canva is a very cool site where you can create or design stunning and visually attractive images from scratch, by uploading your own photography and customize it for the social media account you wish to publish it on.

What’s great about Canva is that you can also select among the free pictures and layouts, change the font and text and prepare it to download!

There are tons of images for purchase for a very low price but the choice is endless.

I have my images saved and can go back anytime to modify and download them as necessary.

BTW another awesome feature I LOVE is the design type, I have been playing around with blog graphics, résumé builder, biz cards etc.

To honest, it can be quite addictive but it is quite a lot of fun to use!

 

Landscape

Landscape, Social Sprout, photo editing online tool, photography, TS76

Landscape, Social Sprout, photo editing online tool, photography, TS76

http://sproutsocial.com/landscape

Finding Landscape photo editing tool by Sprout Social truly surprised me. It is a true gem that I am glad exists!

The great feature or function is that it will resize any of your photos for the chosen social media network and it even has different size options or it can be customized to your specifications.

You really cannot go wrong and you will have an image that will stand out from the rest. Isn’t that what we’re all after?

 

PicMonkey

Picmonkey, online photo editor, photography, TS76

Picmonkey, online photo editor, photography, TS76

http://www.picmonkey.com

I have a confession to make. I am a HUGE fan of PicMonkey; it is actually my absolute favorite photo editing tool and use it for just about every photo for my blog posts!

It is super easy to use. All you need to do is simply follow the instructions according to type of image you are editing or enhancing. The results are no less than spectacular. I often found myself saying “Wow, this great…now it’s ready to go”.

What I love the most are the many filters, effects and fonts that you can choose to make your image simply memorable!

Even if I regularly use it for individual photos, I’ve to try to do a collage one of these days.

 

Pixteller

Pixteller, online photo editor, photography, TS76

Pixteller, online photo editor, photography, TS76

http://www.pixteller.com

I honestly do not know how I ended up finding Pixteller ( I love to search on Google) but as soon as I discovered it, I loved it!

After going through the sign up procedure, you can start creating banners, posters, add text to a picture and so more.

I mostly use it to create Pinterest images which have helped me greatly and just by looking at the analytics in the past few weeks, I realize that it has made a big difference and will continue to improve my already existing boards! BTW you can find me there as Travellersoul (add me and I’ll add you right back).

Besides the loving the fact that it is absolutely free, you can share your images on your other accounts!

It’s a win-win situation. Try it!

 

Fotor

Fotor, online photo editor, photography, TS76

Fotor, online photo editor, photography, TS76

http://www.fotor.com

As their slogan says, it is simple but powerful.  Fotor is a great online photo editing tool that allows you to edit, create collages and design your own images and later shared.

Their dashboard is pretty straight-forward, the only thing you need to do is to select the dimension or format for the desired platform and then proceed to create.

Check my first attempt

Fotor, online photo editor, photography, TS76

The final image is the one that you find above. It is very quick and easy and looks great!

 

BONUS

Love Quotes? We all do.

To create some memorable ones, there’s one site you must go to:

Recite

ReciteThis, quote maker, online quote maker, photography, writing, TS76

I used it for my post on How to Get More Followers on Twitter

ReciteThis, quote maker, online quote maker, photography, writing, TS76

http://www.recite.com

To say that I love Recite would be an understatement. I absolutely adore Recite and use it every time I need a quick image with text that looks good on any social media platform, particularly Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

It is super easy, simply enter the desired quote (copy + paste), select the style or frame you want it to appear on and last step is to click on create and voilà! Your design is ready to be downloaded and shared. What’s not to love about it?🙂

So there you have 5 Awesome Photo Editing Tools for Social Media that are available to you for FREE right now!

Now I’d like to ask you…

 

Which one of these are you currently using?

What other programs or software do you prefer to edit images?

Do you know a tool that we should all look into?

 

Do share it with us in the comments section! Have your say or enlighten us!

I hope this was helpful to you.

Until next time, hasta la próxima.

Tashi Delek, all the best

Karla🙂

Tuscany, Italy, Landscape, photography, travel

Why Taking a Gap Year is a Great Idea

Travel is still the most intense mode of learning.

– Kevin Kelly

Gap Year, benefits of taking a gap year, why taking a gap year is a great idea, travel, learning, education, experience, travellersoul76, photography, TS76

 

A gap year or a bridge year,  not only represents freedom to explore a wide world of possibilities (as well as uncertainty) but also the unique opportunity to take some precious time off after a major milestone or life event, such as graduation or the end of a contract or working position. It helps to truly focus on something that fuels our passions, prepares us for the life ahead or simply gain some invaluable (and much-needed) experience. In return, it teaches many skills in a completely different environment (which will be very useful later on).

The media created a big buzz after the White House announced that President Obama’s oldest daughter Malia had graduated from high school and decided to take a gap year before pursuing her studies at Harvard University (and following in the footsteps of her famous parents).

Of course, not everyone has the financial mean$ to travel around the world on whim or set plans or pursue other interests before starting college or a career. However one does not need to have six or seven digits in a bank account, or come from a wealthy family to do something truly meaningful and productive with the time available to use as they wish.

In the past few weeks I have received a few emails from some organizations and companies that created and run programs for students who want to take a break from their education path and they asked me what I thought about and if I’ve ever done something like that.

The answer to that question is a resounding and enthusiastic YES! I firmly believe that a gap year is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of the best investments of your life (same goes for Studying Abroad) and truly is a smart move anyone can ever make. It ultimately will pay back many times over under different forms or reward you with rich experiences (and leave you with precious memories) that will transform you…FOREVER. Life, as you know it will never be the same, EVER again.

How do I know?

Well let me tell you my story…

After graduating from community college (which is an institution where you study for two years prior to entering the university), I decided to take an entire year off to work and save some necessary fund$. That was quite a leap of faith and honestly, I needed to take a long break because I had been studying and working since I was about 12 years old (From delivering newspapers starting at 5 a.m. with my brother in the neighborhood, to babysitting neighbor’s kinds, to running errands, I know the value of time, work, discipline and compensation).

Now I did quite a few things during my time away. I worked at a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch (see, I was a Foodie in training); I was a part-time salesperson at a major department store (that position lasted a few years and definitely sharpened my communication skills) and was also a private tutor for kids who had summer school (I’ve always loved sharing my knowledge, thus being an educator later in life was much easier).

Quite frankly, I do not know where I exactly found the motivation and energy to do all those things for an extended period of time but I had clear goals and was very proud that I kept working towards them every single day. Ultimately, I reached them and succeeded!

Thanks to those “gigs” I was able to save for a trip to Central America (where I am originally from), which was a real eye opener and it completely transformed me.  Little did I know that I was going to learn to be humble and grateful for my life back then.

As I look in retrospect, I can honestly say that it was definitely necessary for my growth on all levels and everything I went through began to make sense.  They say that everything happen for a reason, well I am truly glad I got out of my comfort zone and faced the unknown. Those risks were totally worth it and paid off big time.

What are benefits from taking a gap year? Here are 8 of them.

Time management

I learned all about schedules, timelines and deadlines. I encouraged myself to go to sleep earlier (even if I admit that I am a night owl, my brain is so active that sometimes I need to wake up in the middle of the night and write down some thoughts or ideas!) and woke up before sunrise at 5 a.m. to be at the bus stop to get to the subway station and catch the first train in order to be at my workplace for opening at 6 a.m. I did that for about 3 months during the busiest season, rain or shine, hot or cold, tired or motivated. Excuses were neither accepted nor existing.

One of the strong values I learned from my family is to be where I need to be at least 30 minutes in advance. They say that it’s better to get there early than being late which is an embarrassment and that is a fact. You can do a few things while you wait: read the news, have a cup of coffee, prepare for the day ahead or just start your day in a good and positive mode which still rings true to this day.

A gap year is such a unique and wonderful opportunity to have complete freedom with your time, and it is a once in a lifetime chance to make the most out of it, so use it carefully and think it through as you may not ever again get the chance to do everything you have always wanted to do on your terms. Trust me on this one, you will get busy and life will make sure you have lots to keep you busy. 150% guaranteed.

Value of money

As I mentioned above, I have been working for quite some time now, trust me I do know how it feels to work hard and earn each a shiny dime or gold dollar.

You must learn to give great (and genuine) service and time in exchange of a paycheck or compensation and also teach yourself to set aside a specific amount (which will be used immediately right after or at a later date) but forming the habit as soon as you start receiving an income is an absolute requirement.

It may be tempting to go blow it all or burn it or drink it (Happy Hours anyone?) but remember all the time and effort it took to have it.

It is important to have goals and write them down. That way you know what you are working and saving towards!

I had my university tuition, books and other things that were top priority, so I just had to force myself not to go nuts.  However I did treat myself to a trip of a lifetime (that travel bug bites hard and there’s no cure :)). That whirlwind trip around Europe (I visited 16 countries during a period of 2 months, clearly one of my best adventures EVER). It goes without saying that working, saving and keeping that goal in clear sight and all the sacrifices that had to be made in order to make that life-long dream come true was absolutely worth it and would do it all over again.

A gap year will require an amount of money which can vary depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. Of course at home it is the least expensive (or not) but in some countries it will last much longer due living costs.

In my humble opinion, I am not a big fan of paying to participate in a program which costs thousands including administration fees and other expenses. Why? If it’s a non-profit, why does it have to have to be so high for students or adults taking time away to help or contribute?

If it includes airfare, accommodation, meals and transportation for the duration of the program ok, it’s understandable and fair. On the other hand, the funds can be used more efficiently if you do your own research and find something that really appeals to you and is trustworthy.

If it is an education program that will allow students to get college credits it is also something to consider, however these organized trips defeat the purpose of what a gap year truly is.

The School of Life has plenty of lessons to teach us and we must be willing and ready to graduate from one level to the next!

There is no other time in your life where you will be able to feel free and not be weighted-down financially because that is a big responsibility that we all have, there’s no escape to that right?

My motto is the following:

Read, learn, earn, save, and go🙂

Team work

No company or project is successful without a group of individuals who have a common goal or objective. Every person has a different personality and we must be flexible, open and willing to work with a multitude of characters, therefore patience is a great skill to have and improve!  We all have something good to bring to the table and getting along is a must.

What I learned is that every single person you meet has something important to teach you and it is up to you to figure out how to apply the knowledge acquired or how to improve your own life!

Immersing in a new culture

We all know how exciting it is to plan a trip and making a detailed list of everything needed in order to make it a reality becomes an exciting challenge!

The marvel of getting on an airplane, flying to a distant location in only a matter of hours and once arriving at a destination, have our senses bombarded or actually waking up to a whole different world than the one we’re so used to!

Getting out of your comfort zone does take a whole lot of courage but it is well worth it at the end of the day.

As a guest to another country is to learn all we can and immerse ourselves in their culture, observe the way they live. It makes them who they are and they are more than happy to share their history and stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next.

Find out what they are passionate about and be open to conversations, ideas, etc.

Testing your taste buds

Fortunately I was born with the wanderlust and adventurous genes which includes experimenting and tasting food from different corners of the globe.

From a young age I have been exposed and introduced from delicious fare, from Portuguese, to Hungarian to Vietnamese, to North African to Ibero American to Middle Eastern to Latin American culinary specialties.

I am very grateful and fortunate to have had a family where trying something different to what we were accustomed to was highly encouraged. This certainly prepared me for all my adventures and the times I lived in different countries later on.

One of the great ways to get to know the culture of a country is through FOOD!

Meal times in a foreign country are quite an experience that should be lived. It brings people together and makes us appreciate each and every one’s presence. Not only the local and freshest ingredients are used, the preparation and presentation (as well as the history behind its creation) is served on the side🙂

Test your taste buds by savoring local and typical dishes. Be adventurous and give it a try! You never know and your palate might really like it and you’ll associate memories to it.

Food is a sensorial experience, thus all your senses will be active participants and also the people around the table will be looking forward to seeing your reaction or getting your impression. You will have plenty to talk about alongside drinks!

After all, we remember feelings, moments, colors, flavors and sounds right?

Make new friends (and perhaps lifelong)

As the saying goes, people come into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime!

Breaking the ice and connecting with the locals and making new friends is a skill and it is just something you must do in order to grow on many levels.

Talking to strangers may be uncomfortable, if the language barrier is an obstacle, but one must stretch and also push yourself to be more compassionate, understanding and accepting.

As human beings we need to communicate and are social by nature, thus one has to make the first step in order to get to know others and who knows what connections you can make!

I’ve spoken to complete strangers on planes, trains and automobiles and some even were angels in disguise.

Even if you travel alone, you are NEVER lonely! Honest, warm, friendly, kind and welcoming people from all walks of life will cross your path and some are like Godsend and thank you Lord for that. They are like unexpected but great surprises.

They will teach you more than you could ever ask for. I learned the real meaning of friendship when I met some incredible persons who are still my friends even two decades later! God Bless them.

Never miss an opportunity to make new friends!

Become conscious and appreciative of the environment

It is absolutely true when they say that you never know what you have, until it’s gone…or when you are far, far away.

I’ve realized that my own country is abundantly blessed with lots of green spaces, mountains, clear lakes, modern roads, clean streets and gives recycling a high priority.

We must be protective of what we have now so that future generations will also enjoy and respect the environment because it’s our duty to keep it or safeguard it.

See your home country with a new set of eyes

Your house or apartment is a castle, luxurious. A hot shower is a present, firm bed and soft pillow, uninterrupted electricity, efficient transportation system, democracy, freedom, education.

All the things we normally take for granted on a daily basis suddenly become luxuries rather than necessities and all it takes is for us to be away from our normal environment to realize that and actually be thankful and know that we’ll find it again upon returning home. It does open our eyes and definitely makes us more appreciative and humble.

In summary

I firmly believe that everything that I’ve experienced and learned so far was not only necessary for my personal growth; I learned extremely valuable lessons by facing my fears and got them out-of-the-way. We all have to do what scares you EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!

Traveling to different sides of our planet made me realize that the freedom we enjoy (and take for granted more often than we think) today truly is a gift, a once in a lifetime opportunity that may never come again!

That is why we must make the most out of our time here and get involved or take a look at the numerous options available to locally or internationally:

It can be

Volunteering

There is no shortage of causes or destinations that need our contribution, time, help or intervention.

Internship

Learn all you possibly can by working at a company or organization that is highly successful since it will help you become a professional equipped with the right tools and have the right mindset. Anything knowledge or skills you acquire do not have a price tag or can be counted.

Teaching

As an educator, I can personally say that is one of the most gratifying things to share what you know with eager and curious minds that will benefit from your knowledge to improve their lives. To see them succeed is your retribution. Education is the wing on which dreams fly!

Studying

In this technology-driven society (and world), a wealth of FREE information is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime!

Take the time to study ANY subject at your pace. There really is no excuse nowadays as to why you cannot take free classes online or head to the local library which has millions of documents, books at your disposal for your own growth and progress. Oh, did I mention it’s FREE?

As someone said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!” Those are certainly true and words right?

Now you know Why Taking A Gap Year Is A Great Idea.

I’m turning it over to you.

Tell us…

 

Did you ever take a Gap Year?

If so, what did you do or where did you go?

If you didn’t, what stopped or prevented you from doing it?

 

 

I’m pretty curious to find out more, so please don’t be shy and tell us all about it in the comments!

Until next time

Tashi Delek, All the best.

Karla🙂