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Four countries in one week Part. II “No, your basic Spanish won’t help in Portugal”

Welcome to Part. II of “How I survived my impulsive solo adventure(“No, your basic Spanish won’t help in Portugal”) 

This series will detail my personal experiences while traveling solo in the hopes of encouraging my fellow solo travelers! I also want to explain the side effects of making impulsive decisions (when you rush into a trip without planning it right).

So, cheers to more careless mistakes I’ve made that snowballed into the best experience of my life!

Comfort zones are overrated

I really want to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone(s) and experience something or someplace new even if it’s just once…a year.

Even if the adventure doesn’t go exactly how you planned, the trip is still worth a shot; you don’t know what’s out there in the world until you get off your butt and see it for yourself!

Not everything (travel wise) will be perfect but, hey, it’s all about your perspective and you should be determined to take the good with the bad in any “fail” or “bust” as I’ve learned to do!

I’ve met so many people who are satisfied with where they are in life and who feel at ease dwelling in the same city blocks of their hometown.

I’ve always wondered about the people who are OK existing in a world where they’ve only traveled around >10% of it.

As if traveling somewhere new isn’t attainable or is so much of a farfetched idea (maybe this is just out of fear); I’m here to share that this big ole world is yours and it’s time to get out and explore it!

You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about yourself when you’re in a brand new place.

American Privilege: Imagine That

Imagine: standing in long customs’ lines, being questioned about your history, whereabouts, and intentions in a country you are trying to enter then receiving the ultimate prize: entry across the border!

Imagine saying “I’m just traveling for fun!” and getting the response “oh, I see you’re on holiday.”

This was only the beginning of my experiences last week and I melted inside at every accent I encountered, every smile, and every frown!

If you’re American, like me, all of this may be a new experience for you, with your American privilege and all…you really don’t get how foreign you are until someone is pissed at you or impatient because you don’t know the language or if you take time to examine each coin before paying for your food.

Lisboa 🇵🇹

Originally my trip to Lisbon was only supposed to be a fourteen hour layover but since I was no longer going to Africa I figured why waste the $50 ticket? Maybe I could still go to Portugal and experience a really cool day trip.

I was determined to see the best of Lisboa (in turn, this was also a bust but a beautiful learning experience nonetheless).

After spending two hours in the customs line and spending the next two getting drenched by the rain and trying to make it to Castelo de Muros just to get there and find everything shut down I was so disappointed and declared it another BUST!

I waited for a bus that never came, I walked up a steep hill-ed street to another bus stop just to find out I needed the bus going in the opposite direction, and it was just a bad experience.

Picture this: you’re wandering around in a country where YOU are the foreigner.

It may seem scary at first but the more you explore the more you see yourself in other people; humanity becomes more than just a word, it becomes a realization.

There are people on the of side of this world living their lives, and they’re so much like you but so different at the same time.

Language Arts

To all of the people (who love to make impulsive decisions as I do), I would first like to say learning everything possible about the places you want travel PRIOR to booking the flights is key. One thing I regret is not taking the time to learn Portuguese.

*Take time to learn the language (No your basic Spanish won’t help in Portugal) and trying to sound out places with your American accent will be frustrating.

“Este Rios” is NOT pronounced how it looks…I found that out the hard way.

PLEASE, I can’t stress enough, even if it’s just the basics, take the time to learn the official language of the places you’re traveling and don’t rely so much on a translator because most times they won’t work as they should…

This was a huge inconvenience for me in Portugal and one of the reasons it was my least favorite stop along my travels. I couldn’t understand anyone and they couldn’t understand me so it made traveling via their public transit system.

I fried my brain trying to decipher these maps but I pride myself in finally figuring them out…my mission was to get to Sinatra to see the Castle of the Moors, I needed to take the 427 bus from my location, get off at “Este Rios” catch a train to Sinatra and I’d be set.

By the time I got there everything was shutdown so I had to turn right back around and head back to my hostel.

The moon was absolutely beautiful at night and I came across this massive church that I admired for a bit.

Hostel Stay (Corujinha Hostel in Portugal)

To be honest the best part of this trip was the view of the moon and my hostel stay.

Being cheap once again, I decided that instead of spending a ton of hotels I would stay in hostels.

Why pay money for hotels that I would hardly spend any time? Also, Air BNB got a bit pricey and all required prepayments!

I did so much research on hostels and read hundreds of reviews (thank you Trip Advisor, Booking.com & Reddit).

I went to college so the idea of sharing a room with a stranger didn’t scare me at all.

I stayed at the Corujinha Hostel in Portugal and I give them ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ five stars. It was extremely clean, had an awesome common room full of musical instruments and TVs! Very homely compared to so of the other hostels I encountered (I’ll do a separate blog post rating the others so stay tuned).

I’ll see you next time!

I will most likely give myself five years to learn Portuguese and go back five years after that but I WILL go back not let this experience be the only memories I make in Lisbon.

For more on my impulsive solo adventures, and to see what other countries I actually ended up in after this second FAIL, continue on in this series!

I PROMISE IT ISN’T ALL BAD PLANNING & FAILS! IT ONLY GETS BETTER FROM HERE!!!!!!!!

Click here to visit Part III of “Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventures”

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Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventure Part. I (“Ghana was a FAIL- why do vaccines and travel visas cost so much?”)

“I’m going to Africa and I ain’t going back and forth with yall!”

My impulsive, solo, trip started with just an idea: Investing in myself will be my top priority and I would kick this idea off my by committing to international travel.

It was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate myself like I never had before so I thought “what better way to celebrate (my 27th trip around the sun) than to plan a trip to Accra, Ghana 🇬🇭

I decided I would travel to West Africa which was a no brainer because I have roots there; my father was born and raised in Ghana and I wanted to explore his old stomping grounds, possibly meet some of my family, and overall get a feel for where I come from.

What would be so terrifying about traveling to Ghana solo?

It is completely beautiful and I don’t care what the narrative may look like through mainstream America’s lenses…

I wanted to find out all about Africa’s beauty for myself (and solo if need be!).

I figured if I waited around for other family/ friends I could possibly lose my nerve…there’s no time like the present…right?

No time to answer that! I just began booking!

SHE did it & so can I!!

While being so inspired by the many female travel bloggers/IG influencers making their mark all over the world (like “@thecatchmeifyoucan”) I convinced myself I could do the same thing.

This is so true HOWEVER, planning, researching, networking, and just being honest with myself would have been key and it took a few mistakes for me to realize this.

I dedicated the past couple of years to facing my fears and accomplishing so much; I was about to cross out another “need to do” up off of my list (or so I thought)…

RESEARCH is key

I began “researching” and I started accumulating some of the “must haves” every solo female traveler should have.

I had gained all of the materials but none of the actual knowledge it would take to carry out a successful trip to Africa.

The materials included (but weren’t limited to): an awesome carry on suitcase (with a built in TSA approved lock, a great sized traveling backpack, rain proof slip on sneaker protectors, Anker power bank, travel adapter, new digital camera and mount, selfie stick, travel SIM cards, and a variety of apps downloaded on my phone to help with everything else (what’s app, hopper, WiFi map, cash app, money exchange, google translate, hotel tonight, etc.).

Before I knew it I was in the hopper app finalizing the flight arrangements because I set set, right?

WRONG!

Yes, I would have the physical things I needed for traveling, but the most important question was “could I actually meet the requirements to enter into the country?”

Caught up in excitement, I was overlooking key elements, like securing my safety all in the name of trying to live my best life.

I didn’t consider all of the vaccines until I contacted Penn’s travel medicine and looked into the type of travel visa I needed.

I told the angel and demon on my shoulders “I’ll be fine” and “I ain’t going back n forth with Y’all” (in my best Lil Duval impression).

Without doing the ACTUAL RESEARCH needed to actually be prepared for Africa I booked an expensive flight…

If you’re catching on to how irresponsible this trip was about to be you’re keeping up.

My biggest mistake was not doing enough research first! If I had, I would’ve realized in addition to paying almost $400 for the flight, I needed a visa to travel to Ghana (~$280), and needed to get pumped full of vaccines (averaging over $300).

At this rate, I needed to spend at least a month out there in Accra & Kumasi (and not just a week of vacation time I saved up.

For someone who was balling on a budget, I sure started off by wasting a TON of money I already didn’t have…and needed to dish out more if I wanted to step foot on the continent.

I was honest with myself and admitted I just couldn’t afford this trip (not at this point in time).

I would’ve spent all of my money just trying to get there and one week wouldn’t be enough time at all to enjoy it all!

I was going to keep this trip a secret but as discouraged as I was becoming I decided to talk to my mom about it.

I was so reluctant about that because I knew she would freak out at the idea of me going anywhere solo let alone the place where she had the worst experience of her life.

My parents honeymooned in Ghana with back in 1990 and my mom was so homesick and out of her element so I just knew she would be totally biased against me going.

Anyway, I decided to share my dilemma with her I started off with “mom, I booked a crazy trip” and smiled reluctantly.

She asked where and when I told her she said she was sad and didn’t want me to go but I already knew that.

She said it’s not like it’s Cali it’s Africa lol okkk I realized that I started explaining the money situation because I value her opinion.

Finally, I decided I wouldn’t go all the way but stop in some places where I didn’t need any vaccines or visas, just my passport which I had and was eager to get it stamped.

GHANA WAS A FAIL (for now…but with better planning I’m definitely taking a crack at it again)!!Hopefully I’ll go when I turn 30!!

We all make mistakes and sometimes they cost us big time. I’m thankful I listened to my gut and my mom (and went back and forth lol) because I could’ve spent all of my money just to get to Africa and I probably would’ve had a terrible time (being short on money which isn’t a good look!).

For more on my impulsive solo adventures, and to see what four countries I actually ended up in after this FAIL, continue on in this series!

Click here to visit Part II of “Four countries in one week: How I survived my impulsive solo adventures”

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