Globetrotting with a Bootleg Phone Plan and No Data: A Solo Travel Guide

Happy Friday the 13th y’all! I’m in Berlin at the moment…I arrived yesterday evening and spent about 13 hours sleeping. 😂

As I eat currywurst (the national fast food of Berlin) for the first time in my life in a spot called KreuzBurger, I figured I’d also take the time to let y’all know how to survive solo travel in lands far, far away.

Pro tip: Don’t stress, plan less, and learn to wing it!

Easier said than done for most, I know, but don’t get caught up in all the little things when traveling abroad! As long as you have your plane ticket, a phone, cash/credit, and your passport, you’ll be just fine!

What about an international phone plan, Jackie?

Take it from someone who has an $80 LG phone that runs on Virgin Mobile and has been to 12 foreign countries…you don’t need an international phone plan. Once I leave American soil, I turn data off and solely rely on WiFi.

Of course, if you’re traveling to more remote places, etc., then investing in an international plan may be smart.

The great thing about most foreign countries… especially big cities in Europe…is that they have free public WiFi all around! Outside, inside, in the metro stations, on the buses, and essentially anywhere else you’d need it!

Also, did you know Google Maps works without WiFi?! As long as you know where you’re going, the locator dot will continue to tell you where YOU are on the map! So, as you move along, you can see if you’re heading in the right direction or not.

If you’re traveling alone, I recommend getting flights, trains, etc. that arrive during the day… especially if you plan on walking to your hostel, etc. once you arrive.

Berlin is the first foreign city I’ve ever traveled to alone where the main language isn’t English (save for Iceland, but I had been there before), so I booked a flight that got in at 5pm. This gave me allowance to get a bit lost in the streets as I made my way to my hostel (and I totally did 😂), knowing I’d have plenty of daylight to work with. Plus, I’m always sure to keep to main streets and, if Google maps isn’t helping me, I pop into a nearby cafe or shop to grab some WiFi. 😅

It may sound stressful but it really isn’t. I tell myself that if worst comes to currywurst, I can always hail a cab! (Hopefully… 😅)

Coming from NYC, I feel confident getting around any major city…even without relying on my phone!

Pro tip: Look up and actually READ the street signs and don’t fear getting lost!

I’ve found that folks who rely on their cell data and mapped out routes in foreign cities often miss out on little things because they’re so fixated on not missing a turn. I actually just met a girl from Australia who also said she doesn’t have an international plan because she doesn’t want to be staring at her phone during her travels!

This is the time to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to talk to folks and SEE what’s around you! We’ve become so dependent on our phones but we don’t need them!

What do you do when you go abroad? Let me know in the comments!

Also…if y’all have any tips for Berlin, let me know! I’m here till Monday and have done zero research…whoops! 🤦

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

Sunday Inspiration

Sunday Inspiration

Happy Sunday, y’all! The sun is finally BACK in NY on this Mother’s Day…it’s been grey and dreary all week. In addition to celebrating my mom today, I’m taking time to do some spring cleaning and some writing.

Now that I’m back in the working world and commuting every day, I’ve taken less time to write – both here on my blog and in my personal journal. Eek, no good! I miss it. But, I’m happy to say, I genuinely love my job. I’m not dreading work tomorrow – I’m looking forward to it!

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Also, life has been so wonderful since quitting Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. My boyfriend even decided to ditch Facebook the other day (he never snapped or insta’ed to begin with). Yay for social media not ruling our lives!

Enjoy your family and friends and all of the little things you love – life is short folks!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

For My Fellow Late Bloomers

For My Fellow Late Bloomers

Note: You can find an updated version of this piece on Thought Catalog, here.

Hi! My name’s Jackie and I’m a so-called late bloomer. The good folks at Wikipedia define a late bloomer as someone whose “talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.” My definition? Someone who played with Barbies wayyyy after their “fun and cool” expiration date. 

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Stuffed animals NEVER go out of style.

I recently found out that my 13-year-old cousin has a boyfriend. Naturally, it made me think back to when I was 13; I had just started 8th grade and was rocking some fresh braces. My wardrobe was largely made up of the latest Limited Too fashions and zero bras because, let’s face it, I didn’t need them. My “Aunt Flo” was still three years away, my first drink was six years away and my first relationship was still 11 years away. 

I watched my friends around me as they dated, and listened as they gushed over first kisses and everything else that I had zero experience with. I never had anything to contribute to these conversations and felt totally lame. But then I’d go home and watch Boy Meets World and believe that my Corey (or Shawn or Eric or Jack) was out there and I’d meet him soon enough. So I didn’t fret. I focused on other things like school and reading and writing and daydreaming…lots of daydreaming.

Graduating high school without ever having kissed a guy and without ever having had a drop of alcohol seemed to go against everything I’d ever watched on Gossip Girl. But then again I wasn’t living on the Upper East Side and my name was not Blair Waldorf (though I totally did dress up as her my senior year of high school — the irony now kills me).blair-waldorf

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Oh and remember that time I was Napoleon Dynamite during my freshmen year?

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Is this why I didn’t have a date to prom? lolz

I’m choosing to write about this now because I think it’s important. It’s important to know that you don’t have to compare yourself to others or feel weird because you’re “behind.” You’re not behind. You’re not missing out. You’re being true to yourself and that’s awesome.

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Me circa 2008.

I used to be so embarrassed about all of these “milestones” I still hadn’t reached. Like, oh my gosh I’m entering my second decade of life and have never been kissed! I’m Drew Barrymore! I realize now how ridiculous my worries were and I hope that someone feeling that way now will read this and feel better. We shouldn’t feel pressured to change because society tells us we should’ve done this or that by a certain age. That’s not fair to anyone.

Being a “late bloomer” ha1146550_10153160366260118_1918045206_ns actually given me more confidence today. I’ve learned over the years to be happy with my life and understand more of why I am the way that I am. I’m a patient person who doesn’t like to feel rushed into anything I’m not ready for. Why should anyone be embarrassed for that? I’m glad I didn’t waste years dating duds because now, at 24, I’ve found a gem of a guy who I love very much.

I’ll leave you with a quote from fellow LB Anna Kendrick: “When I was a teenager, I was an ultra late bloomer, and my mom would say it was a blessing because it means you never have to wonder if guys are only interested in you because you’ve got boobs.”

Amen, AK.
Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie