Category Archives: jamaica

Why I Donate and Volunteer While Traveling

There is no arguing that donating items or volunteering your time is universally a good thing to do. I especially enjoy doing this when I’m traveling. For me, it’s a wonderful way to feel more connected to a destination. In fact, my favorite travel memories and connections have been when I volunteered or donated supplies to those in need. I am so fortunate to be able to travel and visit different parts of the world. It’s a small thing I can do and it goes farther than many realize.

cambodia habitat for humanity

My first travel volunteer experience was with Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia. It was truly so meaningful to me. I learned so much about myself on that trip. I had never been to Asia before and knew no one on my build. I had never seen that kind of poverty before. But working side by side these people living in poverty to build them a better home was truly so enriching. I will never ever forget the local people working on my build. They were such kind spirits that touched my heart. And, I believe they won’t ever forget me either.

india

But there are other small ways to give back that don’t take a week-long commitment. When I traveled to India I worked with an organization called Globe Drop to find a donation opportunity. I was able to purchase items in India for an orphanage of girls. The purchases helped the local economy and cost a fraction of what it would in the US. It was a win-win. All I had to do was take the time to buy the items and then go deliver them to the orphanage. A small amount of time that went a long way making these girls learning and living experiences better.

jamaica

Another small way I helped on another travel adventure was to collect and deliver children’s books to a foundation in Jamaica that help to educate impoverished children who would not otherwise have an education. People are always looking to give away books over time and, in many cases, they’d like them to go into good hands. I just took a little time to build up a collection and then contacted Rockhouse Foundation and asked if they would like them. They said yes so I packed them up in my bag and traveled to Jamaica. Again, the delivery just took a little time out my day and was so worth the cause.

peru1

My most recent volunteer/donation experience was in Peru. My friend and I found an opportunity to help orphan children with their school work and play with them for a few days in Cusco. To see their smiles every day brought so much laughter and joy to us. The same organization, Peru Trek 4 Good, that connected us to the orphanage also collects clothing and toys for poor people living in the mountains. My friend and I were able to bring three suitcases full of clothes, coats and toys to be delivered to a small Andean community as Christmas gifts – more than 200 parents and children. Again, so many people have things that they want to give away that others could really use. It was just a matter of collecting items, paying to get them to Peru and delivered to the organization. We were thrilled when we saw all the happy faces at Christmastime.

peru trek 4 good

This week I’m off on another volunteer adventure in travel. I’m excited to be participating in a new concept in travel – Impact Travel with Fathom. I will be cruising to the Dominican Republic and doing a few service projects over the days I’m there. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and see the smiling faces of locals there. You really learn so much through these experiences and get more locally connected. I think Impact Travel is the way forward. You’re helping out others, raising awareness and empowering people to think about traveling and giving back.

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Filed under cambodia, india, jamaica, travel

15 Fabulous Airplane Shots

airplane shots

I’ve loved to travel for most of my life and in the past few years I’ve made a bit of a job out of it. While it’s not always terribly lucrative, it has been fun. I DO really LOVE to TRAVEL. I like virtually everything about it. BUT I didn’t always love to fly. Now I’ve truly grown to love it. AND, to me, one of the best things are some of the amazing shots I’ve gotten from the window seat of an airplane. I hope you enjoy the view!

aerial miami beach

Flying over Miami Beach. One of my favorite views.

aerial thailand

Up in the friendly Thai skies. Aren’t the clouds so gorgeous?

aerial atlantic sunset

Catching sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. What a sky!

aerial london

Descending over Londontown. Ello River Thames.

bali

Leaving beautiful Bali. What stunning blue water!

aerial china

Sunset somewhere between Mongolia and China.

aerial iceland

The stunning south coast of Iceland.

aerial greenland

Brrr! Greenland below.

aerial jamaica

Coming in for a landing. Welcome to Jamaica, mon.

aerial india

Sunrise goodbye to India.

aerial boston

My pretty hometown of Boston!

aerial english channel

Last bit of land before the English Channel en route to Paris.

aerial harbor island

Pink sand beaches of Harbor Island, Bahamas. Wow!

midnight sun iceland

Seeing the Midnight Sun in Iceland!

aerial new orleans

Saying goodbye to the mighty Mississippi River in New Orleans.

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Filed under airlines, bahamas, bali, boston, iceland, india, jamaica, london, miami, mongolia, new orleans, travel

Six Discoveries about Jamaica

landing in Montego Bay Jamaica

Aruba, Jamaica oooh I wanna take you… You know how the song goes. I wanna take you on a little quick trip to Jamaica with me. I love the Caribbean and decided this year I needed to see a bit more of it. So, on a snowy weekend in New England, I looked for the best deal I could find to get down to the Caribbean in March. Jamaica was the lucky winner and BOY I am so glad. I had always been curious about Jamaica but it wasn’t at the top of my must-see Caribbean islands. Now that I’ve been I’m really am not sure why that was. It is the perfect place for me. There you can find a little bit posh and a little bit rough around the edges – my favorite sort of destination. Here are six discoveries I had about Jamaica.

Beauty

Seven Mile Beach Sunset

Jamaica has stunning beauty. I stayed at a small boutique resort on Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach. The beach was sugar white, soft and clean and walking into the ocean was like walking into a bathtub of clear blue water that was the perfect temperature. You can literally see the sandy bottom for feet and feet. Everything I could want water sport wise was offered on this beach. OH and being located on the western part of Jamaica, the sunsets were right in front of me every night. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

SafetySandy Haven Resort Jamaica

Safety is something you hear about in Jamaica. I may have lucked out in choosing Negril because safety was never an issue. I would venture to guess it’s become a bit safer in general in Jamaica but you can find problem areas (just like any country) still for sure. Sandy Haven Resort was a gated property and, in addition, they had security on the beachfront too. Apparently this is not a common thing on Seven Mile Beach and I learned that this was a nice thing to have. While I definitely enjoyed the locals pedaling their wares during the day on the beach, they weren’t permitted to come onto the property so I never felt pressured or harassed. Also, any time I took a taxi service from the property, they asked when to return to pick me up so I never had to be concerned with finding another taxi and they always showed up on time!

Poverty

RockHouse Foundation Jamaica

Another thing you know exists in Jamaica is poverty. You cannot help but see it when driving from the airport to Negril. And, since this is Jamaica’s reality, why wouldn’t you wish to see it? But by being a tourist and especially not staying at an all-inclusive, you can get out and support local businesses. Buying handcrafts and locally produced food at small food stands keeps the economy going. Also, you can support different charities if you so choose. I found a charity in Negril, Rockhouse Foundation, that educates local children and I brought a collection of children’s books from the states to donate to them.

Friendliness

Sandy Haven staff member Jamaica

I always heard that Jamaicans are friendly but I now think this is an understatement. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been somewhere more friendly EVER. From Antonio Airport Transfers that shuttled me from Montego Bay Airport, to the amazing staff at Sandy Haven, to the on-property taxi service – Kenny Tours, I was blown away. Even fellow tourists were unbelievably friendly which I attribute to the Jamaican culture being so friendly it attracts friendly travelers. Veteran Jamaica goers were thrilled to share where to go and what to eat to get the best of what Jamaica is known for in Negril. Meeting locals at the market stands was an amazing experience too. So grateful for the business. Shaking your hand and introducing themselves. Giving small gifts as a token of gratitude.

Pride and Character

Seven Mile Beach Jamaica

From the moment I got into the initial car service to Negril, pride and character was oozing from Jamaicans. People are proud of their country. And, they want to tell you about it, have you experience it and thank you for coming. They are proud of their “don’t worry be happy” attitude, their country’s past and freedom, and Jamaica’s overall beauty. Even the beach peddlers were full of pride and character. For me, this was a huge source of culture and entertainment. You can learn a lot about the culture just from watching at a distance from your beach lounger. What do Jamaicans eat and drink. Where is the party that the locals will be going to that evening. Even what Jamaicans wear!

Costs

Niah's chicken curry patty

Jamaica is a relatively inexpensive place to visit. I found a package deal through an airline for my plane ticket and hotel. After seeing other options in Negril, I think I found one of the best out there. I loved Sandy Haven Resort and would definitely stay there again. Continental breakfast was included in the rate but I wasn’t shy about eating and drinking whatever I felt like during my stay and at the end of my short visit my balance was surprisingly minimal. You could find comfort food or Jamaican food on their menu – so that was also great. Given that it wasn’t an all-inclusive, I set off to find other places to eat and drink. Niah’s patties on Seven Mile Beach are a Jamaican specialty and cost $6 US. Treehouse was another spot that had delicious Jamaican jerk chicken. Finding small roadside stands for drinks was a fun and cheap option as well. The most expensive spot I checked out was Rick’s Cafe in the West End. Even though it’s touristy it really should not be missed. The cliff diving is incredible and the sunset is gorgeous from this spot. You can even walk over to the lighthouse found there and tour it.

Rick's Cafe Negril Jamaica

I will definitely return to Jamaica and Negril. Next time I will spend a little more time there and explore the West End further. Rockhouse Hotel looks like a fantastic property. I would like to volunteer with their foundation as well next visit. And I am going to most certainly make it to one of the coolest looking bars I’ve ever seen – the Pelican Bar. Now that I know how safe, friendly and affordable Jamaica is, you cannot keep me away. PS – they take US dollars there and really actually prefer it.

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Filed under caribbean, jamaica, travel