Cheers to 2019!

HI, IT’S JACKIE HERE. I’m currently listening to the 80s pop channel on Pandora (sidenote: apparently I’m a grandma for still using Pandora?!?? whatever), sitting in my new, cozy room in Michigan (yes, MICHIGAN), and reflecting on what the hell has happened in 2018. It’s been a fucking journey. I went back to read the blog post I wrote this time last year and realized I DIDN’T EVEN W4407.CR2RITE ONE. Like, I wrote a “Cheers to 2016!” and “Cheers to 2017!” but I was in such a crappy place this time last year that I couldn’t even properly ‘CHEERS!’ to the New Year. In fact, I was DREADING 2018. This time last year I was four months into a marriage that I knew I shouldn’t be in. I eloped for all the wrong reasons and felt young, dumb, lonely, and lost. And it makes me sad for my 26-year-old self. But, GUESS WHAT!? I’m 27 now (weird) and things are great (fab, in fact) and I’m SO EXCITED for 2019.

I learned so much about myself in 2018. For starters, I let go of a relationship that was sucking the life out of me. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but I’m so much happier for doing it.

thank u, next.

I reflected A LOT on my own self and what brings me happiness and why I am the way that I am and all of that good stuff and I wrote THIS piece and so many of you responded with such kind words and I can’t thank y’all enough for that. I wrote another piece for a writing competition (which I hope to do more of in 2019) that was more of a reflection on my past relationship and, though it didn’t win, I’m thinking I’ll share it on here soon. It’s 5,000 words though, so…grab a cup of coffee first. Writing is extremely cathartic for me but sharing my words is a bit more difficult and I haven’t mustered up the courage to publish that piece yet but I’m working on it…

Earlier this year, I moved to Astoria and then, after six months, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was raised to be a city girl and I have plenty of close friends who live in and around NYC but I craved something a bit simpler, yet more grand and awe-inspiring. I’ve always loved lakes and mountains and I felt like I was forcing myself to be Carrie Bradshaw. Although, we all know she wouldn’t have EVER lived in Astoria. Anyway. I moved back home to Northern Westchester and gave myself some time to figure things out…

…But not before attending a gala, because duh that’s what everyone does in NYC, did you not watch Gossip Girl? JK we kinda snuck in but shhhhhh it’s fine it’s fine. 😂😂

29792962_10155308396201196_4992215602547392512_o.jpg20180323_215744.jpgThen, in July, I booked a one-way ticket to Europe because, let’s face it, all my best stories start with a one-way ticket to somewhere. See: “Why I Quit My Job in Broadcast and Booked a One Way Ticket to California.”

It was my first time back in Europe since Sept. 2017 when I went to Spain with Shanna and her family. This time around I went back to Iceland for a quick 20-hour stint before hopping along to Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England! I traveled by myself, with my best friend, and with friends both new and old…and it was splendid.

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Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 4.41.00 PMimg_20180710_064558_821806280922.jpgscreenshot_2018-07-14-14-13-00385184914.pngDSC06522.jpg^Monica captured a real ‘Jackie’ face there. 😂

Read more about my time in Europe here, here, and here!DSC06470Screenshot_2018-07-14-19-22-27.pngIMG_20180803_143030_908.jpgfullsizeoutput_b25I did A LOT of cool things in Europe. From eating danish danishes in Denmark and searching for Nessie in Loch Ness to partying in Edinburgh and taking a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, it was an adventure. But, the true highlight may have been nerding out at the Michael Jackson On the Wall Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. OH – and when I was in Berlin I saw the balcony where he dangled baby Blanket from that one time and that was great too. 😂😂😂😂😂

IMG_20180803_153622_469.jpgAnd then there was my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY. I turned 27 on the 27th of September and on that day I found myself on a flight to Kalispell, Montana. By myself, with my Man of the Woods album in hand (of course), I was ready for another adventure. And I’ll save the ravings because I already wrote about how freakin’ awesome it was HERE.

But here are some pics to prove just how PRETTY MONTANA IS:

fullsizeoutput_c0afullsizeoutput_c2420181004_175800.jpg20180928_135128fullsizeoutput_c1cfullsizeoutput_c39From Montana, I flew to LA where I reconnected with some of my FAVORITE people who reminded me to listen to my heart and soul and that making big moves and changing things up can be scary but super duper fulfilling. ❤

20181006_231601.jpg20181008_18204720181008_19595320181008_200306Back in NY, I celebrated Spencer’s 30th (he doesn’t look a day over 25) and I was even a bridesmaid at Shanna’s wedding! So much good stuff to be happy about — I love you guys! ❤

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Holy bananas, 2018 was a good one. I mean, I even witnessed a dog WALK ON WATER earlier this year, like, COME ON ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! LOOK AT THAT MAJESTIC CREATURE.

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My goal for 2019 was to finally move out of NY but woohoo I hit that goal earlier than expected! I’m in Michigan for now but it’s more of a stepping stone (though I’m enjoying it so far!)…I’m getting my feet wet before making the bigger move to MONTANA. I can’t wait! I’ve let go of a lot of things this year (both material and emotional) but it’s allowed for really exciting, incredible things in my life.

Also, this has been my first full year working completely freelance with no in-office jobs and it’s been a hustle but sooooo worth it!!!!

Anyways, thanks for being a part of the adventure!
And thank you to all of my new and old friends who’ve made 2018 super kick-ass.

Cheers to 2019!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Howdy, y’all! I’m currently writing from an Airbnb in Grindavik…the same little town of 3,300 that’s home to the popular Blue Lagoon!

Last time I ventured to Iceland, I stayed at the Kex Hostel in the “big city” of Reykjavik. Since I’m only in Iceland for a 20-hour layover this time around, I decided to stay local and not stray too far from KEF airport.

And, since the Blue Lagoon is just a 20-min drive from KEF, I decided to spend the day there after my arrival. Prior to coming here, most of the reviews I had read about BL were from groups or couples…so, here’s my guide for all you fellow solo travelers!

Book in Advance

I booked my ticket for the Blue Lagoon exactly one month in advance of my trip. My flight was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 AM and I wanted to give myself enough time in case of delays, etc. so I booked my Lagoon ticket for 2 PM. I also booked a shuttle in advance through Airport Direct for an added fee (you can actually add this right in when you purchase your BL ticket online). I had about an hour to kill at the airport before my 1 PM shuttle but I didn’t mind! A lot of folks encourage visiting earlier or later in the day, but the lagoon itself is huge and it didn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded at all, even in the middle of a summer afternoon!

Purchase the ‘Comfort’ Package

I read a lot of differing opinions on what type of ticket to buy for the Lagoon. To me, comfort was key. It included admission, a towel, a free drink at the swim-up bar (beer, wine, smoothie, etc.), and unlimited silica masks. The fancier package includes a robe and slippers and another type of mask but those added bits certainly aren’t necessary. Especially the mask part…more on that below.

Being Alone Isn’t Lonely

Ok, admittedly I did feel a little weird going to the Blue Lagoon alone…but I’ve done everything else alone so no big deal. Turns out, it really wasn’t! There were plenty of other solo peeps, and even folks who were with others ended up floating around, doing their own thing. There is plenty of bench seating along the interior of the lagoon, so you can just pop a squat like I did and people watch/meditate/etc.

ALSO…get chatty with the folks who work there! The lifeguards loved to talk, as did the folks doling out the mud masks in the middle of the lagoon. In fact, I struck up a great conversation with one such worker named Stefan who ended up giving me algae and lava masks for free! They were supposed to be like $10 each! Yayay!

The Showers Are NBD

I read so many posts detailing how you have to shower totally naked before entering the lagoon and folks made it sound like the showers were all open and there would be employees watching my every scrub. That wasn’t the case AT ALL. The bathrooms have individual shower stalls, complete with frosted glass, hair conditioner, and body wash. There was nothing weird about it, even for a prude American like myself. 😂

Odds and Ends

Bring a waterproof case for your phone! I bought a cheap one on Amazon that worked perfectly. Plus, I didn’t want to risk damaging my DSLR, but I wanted a few photos to remember this experience by!

There is no limit for how long you can stay at the Blue Lagoon. Once you arrive, you can stay till closing if you want! Plus, there’s a cafe and restaurant inside to keep you satiated.

Also, ladies and gents with long hair — it’s encouraged to keep it tied up and conditioned before entering the Lagoon. The shower stalls offer a bounty of conditioner which I saturated my hair in. I didn’t rinse it out before tying my hair up and going in. My hair ended up getting wet, but it didn’t turn into straw because I had put so much conditioner in — both before and after!

One last note…be careful upon entering the lagoon itself! The floor is actually really slippery and I nearly went completely under after losing my balance walking in! I also had no one to laugh it off with (#solotravelprobs). 😂

Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? What’d you think? Let me know!

Next stop: Edinburgh

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

A Commitment-Phobe’s Commitment to Travel

Jobs, relationships, apartments, vegetarianism . . . these are all things I struggle to commit to.

Heck, I still even question the college I went to . . . and I graduated 5 years ago! 😂

Always on the hunt for new opportunities and experiences, I fear getting stuck in a rut.

The term “settling down” gives me nightmares.

I recently met up with a fellow traveler I met three years ago during my first solo expedition and we talked about our insatiable need to explore and see the world. I confessed that sometimes I wish I had no desire at all to travel; that I could simply be happy in one spot – stable, committed, and satisfied.

But el oh el then I wouldn’t be RUNAWAY RAPETTI!

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While some people can commit to jobs and places and people for years and years and years, I can commit to something too . . .

TRAVEL!!

Planes, trains, and automobiles – if there’s a ticket in my name, you can bet I’ll be there.

Not only that but it also goes hand in hand with my commitment to always be learning, dreaming, and growing. As much as I loved school, I’ve learned that the best classroom is somewhere right outside of your comfort zone.

I’m a textbook INTJ and yet I choose to travel solo because it gives me two things:

  1. My much-needed alone time. Hallelujah! 😂
  2. The push for ‘extroverted Jackie’ to come out and meet new folks!

Whether you’re a vagabond, a gypsy, or a runaway like me, I hope you enjoy every minute of your journey – and don’t forget to spread kindness and cheer along the way!

Next Stop: Grindavik!

Will you run away with me?!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Reykjavík Vlog

Hey, y’all!

If you read my last post, then you already know I’m applying for WOW air’s Summer Travel Guide competition. I could not be more excited about this opportunity! The chosen winner will live in Reykjavík from June 1st to mid-August — with their best friend!

Oh, and the pair will travel to not one, not two, but EIGHT WOW air destinations during their time abroad, creating unique and entertaining travel guides along the way!

AND . . . the chosen pair will get to actually PICK where they’d like to go. From Alicante and Amsterdam to Salzburg and Warsaw, WOW air flies to SO many incredible places.

The airline is looking for a “dynamic duo, ideally two content creators” to embark on this journey. While I don’t have a massive YouTube following by any means, I am a content creator by day (mostly written content), but I actually really enjoy video editing.

After editing and uploading my WOW air submission video, my creative juices were still flowing and I put together a short little piece about my time in Reykjavík. I went there for just a couple of days back in Feb. 2016 and fell in love with this quirky little city. If you want to see what I thought of eating fermented shark and sheep’s brain, definitely watch the video for a laugh!

Disclaimer: This was before I chose the vegetarian life!

And, if you haven’t already, please watch my local’s guide to NYC!

Give it a thumbs up, comment, and subscribe to my channel!

I plan on posting some more short vlogs from past travels — and hopefully more from upcoming travels this summer!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Let me know what you think of my NY local’s guide — did you already know about these hidden gems? What would you recommend folks see in NY or in your own hometown?

Let me know in the comments!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

WOW: A Dream Job!

Hey guys! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything new for y’all — it’s already May and I have yet to hop on a plane in 2018! Eek! Something’s gotta change! Speaking of . . .

This month, I had planned to book some trips for the summer, as well as a trip to Montana for my 27th birthday in September. While I still plan on doing Montana, my pending summer plans may change. Why?

Have you heard about WOW air’s Summer Travel Guide competition? No? Check it out here! It’s an incredible opportunity to create content for this wonderful budget airline, all while traveling the world with your best friend! So, naturally, my bff Spencer and I made a video of our hometown: New York!

I can’t imagine a better way to spend the summer! In fact, I feel like I’ve been training for this very job over the past couple of years. I’ve been writing a lot of content for The Vacation Times as of late (you can always catch my recent posts here) and I’ve been attempting to step up my Insta game as well!

Remember my trip to Iceland back in 2016? I flew there via WOW air from Boston for $99! Doesn’t get better than that. Plus, who doesn’t want to fly in a bright purple airplane?

imageI’m still convinced I have Icelandic blood running through my veins (forever in denial about these DNA results of mine). I prefer the cool weather anyway (I’m currently melting in this NY heatwave we’re having ughhh)! Watch my video, subscribe to my YouTube channel, throw us a ‘thumbs up’ or a comment, and I’ll be forever grateful!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie