Road Tripping Alone Across Croatia During the COVID Pandemic

Croatia is a destination that many travelers dream of exploring. It’s a small bucket list country, with just over 4 million people, with countless places to visit that will take your breath away!

Given the limited number of countries that one can travel to with an American passport during the pandemic, I narrowed my search down to a few of the countries that would allow for my nationality to come in and travel freely: Croatia, Turkey, and Mexico.

To mix things up a bit, I decided to revisit each of them, starting first in Croatia.

I will note that my travel situation is different than others because I have Spanish residency, which allows me to travel freely within Europe, stopping in nearby locations, such as Montenegro. Without my European residency, I would’ve needed a COVID test upon returning to Croatia from Montenegro, even if it was just for a day trip.

If you are planning to travel to nearby countries, check the latest updates so that you do not run into any problems along the way.

How to Get There

I started my road trip from Split, a beautiful coastal city that serves as a perfect access point to many other parts of the country and the Croatian islands.

I flew from Barcelona to Split on Vueling Airlines for around 35 dollars.

I also searched from other destinations and found the country to have many excellent connections to other parts of Europe and the USA, for a very reasonable price.

I always use www.skyscanner.com to find all of my flight deals. This will give you the ability to search all of the dates for the entire month (or year) in order to find the date that has the best fare.

Getting Around

Without a doubt, the best way to get around Croatia is in a rental car. In total, I traveled a bit more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) by car, which gave me so much flexibility to see everything that I wanted to see and the freedom to stop in the places that are a bit harder to get to by a bus.

I like to book my cars by www.rentalcars.com, which always gives me a good variety of cars to choose from, with excellent and competitive prices.

There are two different options for driving with car insurance. You can either get the full insurance through the company that you rent from, which will be an extra 20-30 dollars a day, or you can get the full insurance through the search engine website for around $75 for 6-7 days.

In total I paid:

Car Rental: $90 dollars (77 euros) for 1 week

Full Insurance through www.rentalcars.com : $87 dollars — (74 euros)

Total: $ 178

Gas is a bit more expensive in Croatia than in other places around Europe, but in total, I paid around $120 for fuel, which was not so bad considering how many miles I drove!

Also, keep in mind that if you are traveling across the country, you will need to budget in the additional prices of the highway tolls, which could be up to $50 in total, payable by card or local currency. If you have more time and do not mind going slower, you could drive the coastal highway, which is free of charge.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es IMG_0471.jpg

If you are in Dubrovnik and are looking to rent a car for just a few days in order to see some of the surrounding places, such as Bosnia or Montenegro, I highly suggest the local company called, Avax Rent a Car.

The price was about 35 dollars for the entire day, with full insurance included and no extra fee for crossing into the neighboring countries. I picked the car up in the city center and returned it to the airport, which was saved me a lot of time on my path.

If you are unable to travel by car for whatever reason, it’s very easy and cheap to get around by bus, but you will have more limitations.

Choosing the Best Route

If you have around 2 weeks or more, I highly recommend starting with a rental car in Dubrovnik and making your way up along the coast, ending in Zagreb.

This route will give you the chance to stop and see many amazing attractions and towns along the scenic coastline.

I started my journey in Split and then bussed to Dubrovnik. I then rented a car from Sixt car rental and started my road trip from there.

I highly recommend Sixt because if you start in Dubrovnik they will allow you to drop your car off with no one-way fee in Zagreb! I searched almost all of the companies and most were charging hefty fees to drop the car off in another location. If you rent a car in Zagreb and try dropping it off in Dubrovnik, the one-way fee will apply.

Places to Visit
SPLIT

Split should be on the travel itinerary of every person traveling to Croatia. In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to visit a second time and I still found tons of new places to discover upon returning.

The old town is absolutely stunning. It is a UNESCO site and you could walk for hours throughout the streets and never run out of places to explore.

Some popular attractions include:

DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE: Incredible landmark built in the 4th century. If you are passing through the old town, it is impossible not to run into the palace.

SAINT DOMNIUS CATHEDRAL: You can actually climb up the tower to get amazing views of the city, which is highly recommended.

My favorite part in all of Split was the Marjan Hill viewpoint. You will have to walk up lots of stairs to get there, but all of the effort will be worth the incredible views that you get of the city and ocean. There is a walking trail up there if you want to continue exploring, which I highly suggest, especially if you are looking for a good running path.

If you want a good introduction to the city upon arriving, they have free city tours available. This can be an excellent experience to give you an orientation to all the city has to offer and give you the chance to ask a local for all of the best places to see, eat and explore.

DUBROVNIK

This is one of the most popular, if not THE most popular city in Croatia. Just like Split, Dubrovnik has an incredible Old Town, which is said to be one of the most well preserved medieval cities in the entire world!

I walked aimlessly through the Old Town, stopping in all the little shops, exploring the narrow hidden side streets, and indulging in some delicious local food.

I would highly suggest giving yourself at least 3 hours to walk around this area and at least 2 additional hours if you want to pay around 30 dollars in order to climb upstairs and walk the perimeter of the town.

Dubrovnik is a haven for history buffs, Game of Throne lovers, and photographers that are looking for unique photo and video opportunities. The city an excellent mix of has palaces, churches, monasteries, and historic monuments.

ZADAR

This was a nice stop that served as a midway point from Dubrovnik to Istria. I did not spend much time here, but I did get the chance to explore the city, stroll along the water way and see some ancient ruins, historic buildings and medieval churches.

Zadar also serves as a great location if you are looking for a central place to stay in order to be connected to many popular places, such as Plitvice Lakes and other surrounding islands.

PLITVICE LAKES

This is one of the most popular attractions in Croatia, located about 1.5 hours from Zadar or 2 hours and 15 minutes from Zagreb.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es ll-1024x768.jpg

This national park covers over 73,000 acres and is a great place to go if you love the outdoors and are looking for a place to hike. There are 7 different routes you can take, which are easy to follow so that you do not get lost.

The most basic route should take you around 3 hours and the longer ones could take up to 6-7 hours, which will allow you to see everything. There will be a bus and a boat included in the price that transfer you to different parts of the lake.

Important reminder: Drones are not allowed. I carried my drone in my bag, but there are cameras at different locations and many signs indicate that it is prohibited.

The hours are from 7am-6pm

The entrance fee is was 180 kuna (26 USD).

I had read that the park tends to get very crowded before the pandemic, but I barely saw anyone during the time that I was there.

Where to stay: I booked a small guest house from booking.com, which was only about 6 miles (10 km) from the waterfalls. I highly suggest staying nearby so that you can get up and arrive there early.

Accommodation ranges from about $20 + for a private room.

TROGIR

Trogir is located about 35 minutes by car from Spit (50 minutes south from Sibinik). This is an absolute must, especially if you love history and beautiful architecture.

Trogir was labeled a UNESCO site in 1997. There are some beautiful historic sites to visit, the most popular one being the Cathedral of St. Lawrence.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es IMG_0463-1024x768.jpg

It is a town that is much calmer than Split and directly on the water. I did not get the chance to spend the night there, but most locals recommend that it is an ideal place to stay for at least one night.

SIBENIK


Sibenik is another charming coastal city, which has 2 UNESCO sites and is a famous spot for Game of Throne fans. On my tour through the town, I was shocked to find that Sibenik is only one of five cities in the entire world to have 2 world heritage sites in it.

Don’t forget to check out St. Jacob’s Cathedral and Sv. Nikola Fort

ISTRIA

Istria was my favorite area that I got the chance to visit in Croatia and the place I decided to spend my birthday.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es food-2-768x1024.jpg

This is a perfect area of Croatia if you love gastronomy and wine. In fact, this area is known as the “Tuscany” of Croatia.

I have traveled the world extensively for the majority of my adult life and some of the best dishes I have ever tried were in this part of Croatia.

Istria is a paradise of truffles! White truffles are only grown in two parts of the world, Istria and in another region in Italy. Ordering a pasta dish with white truffles is an absolute must while there.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es 2truff-768x1024.jpg

In fact, I loved the truffles so much that I even went out hunting in the woods with the dogs! I highly suggest having this experience with Karlic Tartufi. They are a local family that has so much passion, experience, and knowledge about truffles. The experience was very interactive, informative and the truffle tasting after was delicious!

Where to Stay: I highly recommend Roxanich Wine and Heritage hotel.

I stayed there for two nights and I had an amazing experience. The hotel has 32 rooms, all uniquely designed in beautiful and bright colors. The environment is very laid back, quiet and the views around are lovely.

I love the fact that this hotel has a nice outdoor swimming pool, an indoor spa, with 2 saunas and a Turkish bath.

Below the hotel is 4 floors of wine cellars, where they prepare the wine. They have tours available daily, with wine tasting, which was worth the experience!

Where to eat: I had such an amazing experience at Konoba VRH restaurant that I thought it was definitely worth the mention. They offer an excellent selection of traditional Istrian cuisine.

I had a huge dish, with 5 types of pasta and truffles for my birthday lunch and I left feeling so happy and satisfied! They even made me a dessert with a candle for my special day. Highly recommended!

ROVINJ

Rovinj is a popular town in Istria, which attracts around 40,000 visitors a day in the regular season. The town has a very cozy and artsy feeling to it, with tons of amazing photo opportunities for anyone that loves photography.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es photo-1024x768.jpg

This is a great place to spend a relaxing day, exploring the old town, strolling along the harbor, or even taking a boat for the day. There are boats available to Venice, Italy on a daily basis, which only takes about 3 hours.

There was an excellent market in the center of town, which sells local products, souvenirs, and of course, truffles!

Where to eat: I had an incredible lunch at Hotel Adriatic. I ordered sea bass, with a truffles pasta and a lemon tart for dessert and it was all delicious. Highly recommended!

OPATIJA

Opatija, located in Kvarner Bay, was one of my last stops on my road trip across Croatia. If you research information about the area, you may hear it being referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”

Slatina Beach is the biggest beach in Opatija and is a fantastic place to visit, but my favorite location was the 12 km promenade built in the early 1900s.

The views are stunning as you walk along the ocean. I highly recommend stopping to see the statue of the Maiden with the Seagull, which is the most photographed place in the whole area.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es pearl-1024x768.jpg

There are many nice parks, one of them being the Park Angiolina, dating back from the 19th century. This is claimed to be one of the most beautiful parks in the whole country.

Opatija is in an excellent location if you are looking to take a road trip across multiple countries. It is only a 2-hour drive from Slovenia and Italy, so you could visit Opatija and then cross over and see Lake Bled in Slovenia, which is SO worth the trip!

Where to Stay: I suggest the Hotel Navis, which is an upscale hotel, located on the water. I stayed here for 2 nights and waking up to the sound of the ocean waves was the PERFECT way to end my stay in Croatia.

The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, where you can order fresh fish, traditional Croatian dishes, and specialty wines.

Another great place to eat in the Kvarner region that was worth the mention is a place called Konoba Zijavica in Mošćenička Draga, located right on the water.

This a family-run restaurant (over 40 years and counting), that specializes in seafood plates. The shrimp and octopus plates are highly recommended.

USEFUL INFORMATION:

  • Money: Croatia Kuna (6.4 kuna – 1 USD)
  • Language: Croatian, although English is often spoken
  • Visa: no visa (90-day max)

Don’t forget to also check out:

5 IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE LEARNED DURING SELF QUARANTINE

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

10 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ON TRAVELING ALONE TO SAUDI ARABIA

SARAH DODDRoad Tripping Alone Across Croatia During the COVID Pandemic
read more

Leave the Worry Behind and TAKE ACTION!

I’ve had a lot of worries in my days, most of which have never happened.  Mark Twain

Do you ever find your mind drifting away, either projecting out into the far future or dwelling on some thought or experience from the past? 

It’s so easy to get caught up in our minds and spend the majority of our time focusing on everywhere except for where we are right now. The past and future can be amazing places to visit and excellent references in order to feel more inspired and motivated, but for most people, this is not the case.

Let’s think about the future for a moment…

If you look towards the future in a positive light, you can easily feel excited about your future possibilities, dreams, and all the amazing things that might come to pass one day. While thinking to the future can be helpful in order to get more inspired, it can equally be a place of extreme fear, uncertainty, and doubt, especially if you are not clear on what you want in life, or your dreams seem so big that you are overwhelmed with the question of “HOW am I ever going to reach my big end goal?” 

The future is often associated with feelings of stress and anxiety, given its nature of uncertainty.

Our minds are programmed to dwell and stress about future scenarios, related to health/safety of our family, national, financial and job security, disease, retirement, pandemics, and even afterlife.

….

Given this truth, it is key to do everything you can to center yourself in the NOW and not allow your mind to create a multitude of mental images of all the things that could possibly go wrong in the future. 

Now, let’s take a minute to explore the past…

The past can be an excellent place to look towards in order to feel a sense of gratification for all that you have lived until this very moment. As with the case of the future, it can equally be a dark and lonely place, full of shame and guilt for all the things that you did not do or could´ve done differently.

The present moment is truly the only moment that exists in time and we must plant ourselves there.  

In 2015, I decided to say my goodbyes to Spain and set off on my next adventure. I had already lived two amazing years there, reached my goal of fluently learning Spanish, and suddenly felt deep within my heart that it was time to move on to something bigger and better.

During that time of transition, I reflected on a lot of different ideas for my future, all of which would require me to step drastically out of my comfort zone into the world of the unknown. When it came down to making a final decision, I decided to do something that I had never tried in my life and travel full time during a 6-month time frame, completely alone.

…..

I can remember the sleepless nights building up to my first big trip like it was yesterday. While I tried to keep a peaceful state of mind, I could not resist the negativity and fear that came upon me on some days.

….

I had clear mental images of all the things that could possibly go wrong and found myself always programmed to think to the worst-case scenarios of what could happen to a solo female traveler, which never had a happy ending. I imagined thoughts of getting robbed, kidnapped, or lost in the night and as much as I tried to avoid the thoughts, they just came. This went on for weeks before leaving, to the point that I almost called it quits.

These fears restlessly filled my mind until I reached a breaking point, to where I literally screamed at the top of my lungs:

“Enough is ENOUGH! I am finished with letting my mind take control and lead me into a negative future! I choose today to take action and follow my dreams, despite the intense fear that I have.”

It was on that very day that I decided to walk out the door and start my extensive world trip, which was originally supposed to be only 6 months. One door after another opened as I followed my dreams and this small trip turned into one that has taken me alone to more than 120 + countries across the world, to some of the most dangerous and untraveled areas on Earth.

Was I afraid when I started? More than I can possibly express (keep in mind that I had NEVER traveled a day in my life before Spain, not did I have a passport). 

Do I still feel scared while on the road? Absolutely!

Our goal in this life is not to try and eliminate and avoid fear.
.

This experience taught me the importance of not allowing fear to paralyze and hold you back from what you desire to do.  The best remedy for dealing with fear is centering your life and thoughts in the now taking action towards the unknown path. 

 

Do not let fear hold you back another day from your dream life.

Leave the worry behind and take action today!

 

 

Don’t forget to also read: 

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

5 POSITIVE ACTIONS TO TAKE DURING QUARANTINE

WAYS TO SAVE ON ACCOMMODATION WHILE TRAVELING

 

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comLeave the Worry Behind and TAKE ACTION!
read more

5 Important Things I Have Learned During Self Quarantine

Life lessons come in many shapes and sizes and often in times in which we least expect it. On my own personal journey across the world, I am constantly faced with new lessons (some harder than others).

As I am traveling, my mind is constantly being exposed to new ideas and beliefs, which is why traveling is so addicting for me.

I have had many realizations throughout my travels, but what I have realized is that the BIGGEST and most transformational lessons that I have had until this moment have been when I consciously took time to “disconnect” a bit from the world and connect deeper within.

When I say “disconnect,” I refer to just a slight change in pattern from my normal digital nomadic life, where my computer and phone are always in hand, and my mind is constantly in motion, thinking of new ways to earn money while on the road so that I can continue to live my dreams of traveling the world.

As a digital nomad, the amount of time you spend connected to your computer, creating content and pitching ideas to companies, highly depends on the amount that you will make (or not make) at the end of the month.

Just a disclaimer: I would NOT trade my nomadic lifestyle for the world. Everything in life has its pros and cons.

I do admit, however, that a little disconnection from time to time is not only healthy but absolutely necessary.

Since 2015, I have traveled extensively across the world, trying to experience as much as humanly possible while I have no significant other or family to answer to.  Traveling is not a vacation for me, but rather a lifestyle. It has become my norm so much that even the thought of “settling down” or staying in one place for a short amount of time makes me feel a bit claustrophobic.

SO far from the normal right?

Most people my age, especially from where I am from in the USA, are looking for stability, a promising job, a good husband, and eager to start a family.

And me….

Well, I am an oddball and definitely the black sheep of the family, BUT that’s okay. We all have to live our own dreams, although it might be off the wall, right?

My life as a traveler is everything but isolated and quiet. However, in the midst of the world COVID crisis I am forced into solitude. All my travel and life plans have been completely turned upside down and we are all left to wait and see just what happens next.

In this article, I wanted to share 5 lessons that I have learned (or better said, just realized to a greater scale) during this isolated time in self-quarantine.

1. IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTION TO SELF

 

We are meant to connect and share with other human beings. For many people, these human physical/emotional connections are everything and without them, they feel completely empty and alone.

In a time of strict isolation, it is normal to feel disconnected, and even a slight feeling of loneliness. 

I think we have all felt it at some point or another, no?

Sure, we live in a technology age and in just a click of a button we can connect with our family and friends all the way across the globe, although it’s just not as good as human to human contact (in my opinion).  The crazy part is that many people say that this global crisis has actually caused them to connect more than they ever have in their lives with others.

I have to admit, this has not been my case.

You would think with a person that is constantly on the go and meeting and talking to new people every day, like myself, would be going a bit crazy and reaching out to as many people as possible.

But no…..

It has been very strange for me.

I am an extroverted person, but this quarantine has caused me to walk in the shoes of an introvert. I have spent hours a day reading books, going on long silent walks/runs, and just keeping to myself. I have been trying to fully engage myself in my own personal growth and development journey and just simply living in the moment.

While it is great to have a community and connect with others, it is even more important to first be truly connected with yourself, on a deep and unconditional level.

This sort of deep connection to self (where the mind is not at work) is hard to reach in the midst of chaos, noise, and constant motion. This is the still, calm part of us, that has no connection to time. Some people call it God, others call it pure energy or self.

But why try and put a label on something so deep and beyond our understanding?

Once you tap into this space, it does not matter if you are in complete isolation and quarantine, or you are in the worst moment of your life, you are still able to enter into this timeless space and find the infinite joy, peace and love that is there and accessible to everyone.

The easy thing to do is fill that quiet space with noise and the emptiness in your heart with excessive materialistic possessions, fancy houses, cars, and relationships, with the hope to find some sort of fulfillment in those things.

Unfortunately, those things will never truly satisfy you in the long run. 

Connecting with yourself in a deeper way and feeling a sense of peace and satisfaction with being alone is not something that comes overnight, but rather a journey that you can choose to take that will absolutely transform your life forever.

2. IMPORTANCE OF MAKING YOUR HEALTH AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY

 

During quarantine, it is SO easy to fall into a love relationship with the couch or comfy bed. They are both so warm, cozy, and welcoming.

To be honest, it can be very hard to not say NO.

It brings great comfort to be all wrapped in your favorite blanket, watching Netflix, with some Oreos, brownies, and/or your favorite bag of potato chips and popcorn.

Sounds pretty magical no?

Now don’t get me wrong: I am absolutely a firm believer that it is absolutely necessary and healthy to set aside certain days to just splurge, chill out, and not take yourself too seriously.

However, some people turn those “occasional days” into a very frequent encounter, especially during a time in which they are stuck inside, with no set schedule.

During the first days of being trapped indoors in a small apartment in Ecuador, (where I was originally quarantined) I was totally relaxed. I just chilled in my pajamas, ate when I wanted, and allowed my schedule to be all over the place.

However, as soon as I realized how bad the crisis was becoming and fully grasped in my head that the quarantine would not be only a week or two long thing, I decided to get serious about taking control of my time and life.

It doesn’t matter if it is only 20 minutes, prioritizing your health is KEY, not only for your physical health but to your mental and spiritual.

 

Ideas for getting a jump start on your physical health:

  • A quick 20-minute exercise Youtube video (cardio, abs or strength training)
  • Guided yoga video
  • Simply putting on your favorite jam and moving your body in a hidden place (if you are a bad dancer, like me)
  • Jumping (with our without a jump rope)
  • Running in place
  • Strength exercises with a gallon of milk or some heavy product in your house.

There are millions of free resources online that you can use. If you do not take advantage of that, then you are making excuses.

Do not sacrifice your health during this time and allow yourself to come out of quarantine undisciplined, more out of shape and heavier than ever.

This is your chance to take control of your health. If you have not made good choices until now, it is never too late to start!

 

3. IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE JOBS AND STRIVING TO CONTINUALLY BECOME MORE DIGITAL & SELF RELIANT

 

While it seems like this is the polar opposite of what I mentioned in #1 about the importance of disconnection, it is really not.

There have been a tremendous amount of jobs lost during this COVID crisis, which has affected millions of people across the globe. While I feel empathy for everyone in an unfavorable situation, I feel equally a sense of gratification for having random online jobs during this time, which have not been affected by the crisis.

Sadly, most of the jobs that have been affected are the ones in which you physically have to go into an office, while many online businesses have skyrocketed.

This realization has helped me to see the importance of not putting all of my eggs into one basket, especially as a self-employed person. It is more important than ever to continue to explore the vast options that are available online, whether it be writing, teaching, translating, marketing, managing, coaching, or whatever it may be.

This also has wakened me up to see how much more I can do with my own client base with coaching, online courses, and projects. We are moving very quickly into a more digital world and the more onboard you are with that movement, the more you will be able to profit from this now and in the future.

 

4. POWER OF OPTIMISM

 

As a nation, now is the time to practice optimism. Not when things get better and the crisis passes.

No, NOW…

Everyone has their own story of how Corona has destroyed their plans and has left them to worry about how they will get by. Many have been forced to cancel their big travel plans, weddings, or even a honeymoon as well.

It is all VERY frustrating and disappointing.

If you would’ve asked me in January 2020, I would’ve told you that I was going to spend the whole 2020 year on the road traveling. In fact, I did get to spend from January-March in the Caribbean and South America, so I am thankful for that time that I did have.

All the big plans that I had for the rest of the year have been placed on hold, and no one knows what is going to happen in regards to future travel, especially international travel.

What kind of new restrictions will they have once the virus gets better?

When will we be able to travel again, without the high risk of getting sick?

As I mentioned, traveling is not just a vacation for me, like most people. It is my life and what I do year-round. Like everyone, I am not able to travel and at this moment I do not even have the option of going back to my home to Spain, where I have my residency and apartment.

With all of that said, it is so important that we do not sit around and focus on our own LOSS during this time.

If we dig deep enough, no matter how bad things may feel at this moment, we can all find something that we are grateful for and some way in which we can benefit from this extra time we have to stay home.

If you capable of shifting your focus and directing it towards what you ARE able to change, such as your health, keeping your inner peace, and strengthening your relationships, you can come out of this quarantine feeling more empowered than ever.

 

5. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRODUCTIVITY

 

I have woken up between 3:45 and 4:45 in the morning every single day of this quarantine.

Seems quite crazy right?

At this point, waking up early is such a normal habit that it does not even cross my mind. I love the sense of getting a head start on the day and finishing so many things before most people wake up. During this time of being forced to stay inside, I have realized just how many things you can do by waking up at an early hour and then going to bed around 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

That is a lot of hours of daylight, even if you do add a small nap in there.

Most of the successful notable people of today (and in history) all work with the same amount of hours as you and I do.

Your lack of productivity is not the fault of a lack of time, but rather how you structure and organize that time.

Do you hit the snooze button five times and then just roll out of bed?

What motivates (or discourages) you to start each day?

Do you wake up with a strong intention for the day?

What are the first thoughts that go through your mind when you wake up? Excitement, dread, fear, anxiety…..

How we start our mornings and the decisions we make first thing highly impact how the rest of our day will go.

Getting a head start on the day and setting strong intentions will energize and set you up to move closer to your goals, whether it be personally or professionally.

I have heard it more times than I can count…

But Sarah, I wake up, set good intentions, but shortly after something happens and I completely lose my motivation.

If I relied strictly on how motivated I am to get things done, I would probably never accomplish anything.

Emotions highly affect our motivation, which is why it’s key to set good habits and standards for yourself. This way you do not need to depend on your motivation in order to feel good enough to get moving and reach your goals. Your strong habits and standards will take over and dominate when you just don’t feel like doing what you know you need to do.

Other suggestions for productivity:

    • Write down any mental blocks and limited thoughts that stand in your way.
    • Take a shower and get dressed and pretty (even if you are at home in quarantine). This will make you feel much better and more productive!
    • Try setting aside blocks of undisruptive time (1-2 hours with small breaks) in order to take on a big task
    • Move your body and stretch first thing when you wake up (with a big glass of water).
    • Outsource any work that other people can do for less time. This will free you up for more creative things!

 

Don’t be a prisoner to time and let it take over your life.

Take advantage of this time that you have in quarantine to strengthen yourself: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

.

 

.

Don’t forget to also check out: 

5 POSITIVE ACTIONS TO TAKE DURING QUARANTINE

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

 

.

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.com5 Important Things I Have Learned During Self Quarantine
read more

5 Positive Actions to Take During Quarantine

People are constantly complaining about being overworked and needing personal time for themselves.

In fact, if you ask the average person why they are not reaching their own life goals outside of work, you better bet that the excuse is a lack of time.

Why do you not exercise? Well, I have long work hours and I’m EXHAUSTED when I get home.

Why do you not learn another language, like you have always desired to do? I work 6 days a week and my mind is fried at the end of the day.

Why do you not spend time with your family? My boss asks me to stay late and I can’t say no….

We all have our excuses and reasons for not taking action towards our dreams and goals.

However, at some point in our life, it is important to stop and take time to reflect on WHY we are not achieving the results that we desire.

In the case of many, it takes something life-changing to get their attention and wake them up to the point that they take action. I am sure that you have met many people that are out of shape, consuming fast food on a daily basis, and told they should change their habits, but they ignore the advice. This person might be told this over and over again, but the real action takes place when something more serious happens, like a heart attack, or news from the doctor that they have a serious case of diabetes or high blood pressure.

Many of us wait for something huge to happen before we take action when we have the opportunity TODAY to be proactive and make changes in order to create the life we desire.

Right now, the whole world is in a state of panic with the Corona Virus. Thousands have lost their jobs and the price of this tragedy in our world is well over the billions. A large percentage of the world is being placed on strict home quarantine, unable to go to work, and with an unlimited amount of free time on their hands.

I want to first say that I am by no means trying to lighten the situation and tell everyone that all is okay and that we should all just be happy and positive during this time.

This crisis has been traumatic for many of us and getting motivated and proactive during this time is not exactly the highest on the priority list for lots of people. The easy thing is to lay in the bed, go deep under the covers, and just give up.

I think many of us have felt that way at one point or another during this time, especially ones that have lost family/friends, have had a reduction in their income, have lost their company, and simply have no idea how they are financially going to survive.

As much as we all hate it, there is nothing that we can do to change what is happening right now. We must all have patience and know that this will eventually pass. If we start to program our mind in a different way, we will actually be able to see this downtime as an opportunity to pause and reflect on all the things that we want to accomplish in our lives, the goals and dreams we have in our hearts and our personal life vision.

Being as sensitive as possible to people in all walks of life, I wanted to write this article to inspire you on 5 ways that you can raise your vibration and create positive changes in your time in quarantine so that you are able to take advantage of this time and feel more accomplished in your own life.

MAKE A POSITIVE MORNING ROUTINE

It is easy to lose your normal routine and fall into some bad habits, especially the more free time that you have on your hands.  If you are in quarantine and see that you are not being intentional about your time and actions, I really want to intervene and challenge you to try something different.

A few months ago, I came across a book that truly shaped my life, called “Morning Miracle” by Hal Erod. This book has been read by millions of people across the globe and the teachings in this book are used by many successful entrepreneurs and leaders.

This book talks about the importance of waking up early in the morning, setting positive intentions, which in return will give you a huge advantage on starting off your day and reaching your own personal and professional goals.

The book challenges readers to use the 6 SAVERS each morning to power their morning and get their mindset in the right place. How you wake up, the thoughts that you think, and the actions you take will set the foundation of your day, so we must be intentional about making our first minutes count.

S — Silence (meditation)

A — Affirmations

V —- Visualization

E —- Exercise

R —- Reading

S — Scribing (journaling)

If you start your morning off by just doing just 10 minutes of each of the SAVERS, that is equal to just one hour of your whole entire day–that is NOTHING, especially if you are home all day.

After the quarantine, if you want to implement the SAVERS in your routine, but you do not feel like an hour is humanly possible, even one minute of each of these can be a game-changer. Sometimes all it takes is just waking up with this intention, even if it’s only 6 minutes of your time. This will force you to break the “autopilot” mode and get you more conscious of what you are doing and feeling in the first part of your day.

GET INSPIRED

It is easy to get caught up in the negative talk about what is happening in the world right now, the financial crisis, the failing economy, and all the rising cases of the Corona Virus all over the world.

While it is important to be up-to-date on what is happening around the world, it is actually more important to take care of your mental health and to create a positive space for yourself.

As I always say, your mind is like a computer. If you’re constantly downloading junk into your computer, it will run slow and contract viruses. Along the same line, if you’re always absorbing the negativity of the world, your performance and energy will be hindered.

During this time of being locked inside, it is absolutely fundamental to take care of your mental health and stay motivated. There are so many resources out there that can help get us inspired, whether it’s an interesting self-help book or video on Youtube.

PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING

There is no better time to practice intermittent fasting than during a time in quarantine, where you are stuck inside the house and less active. Some of the most common benefits of intermittent fasting include:

      1. Loss of body weight and belly fat.
      2. Reduction of the risk of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
      3. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels.
      4. Increase in energy (from my personal experience).

There are many different options for the ones that want to practice intermittent fasting.

The fast that I LOVE and recommend to everyone is 16:8 fast.

I use an application called Zero in order to check in on my phone when it is time for me to fast (and when my time is over). This makes it easier to remember when I can eat again so that I get my full 16 hours in. In addition, this application keeps track of all my past fasts in order to measure my progress, which is extremely motivating. It is absolutely free and I could not recommend it enough!

During the 16:8 fast, one practices withholding food during a 16 hour time frame and only chooses to eat during the 8-hour window. I have to admit, I am not strict about this 8-hour window, as long as I am getting a full 16 hour fast each day. I like to stop eating between 1930-2030 and start eating the next day around noon.

Other fasting options out there include:

      • 18:6 Intermittent: 18 hour fast, with a 6-hour feeding window.
      • 36 Hour Fast (aka Monk Fast).
      • 20:4 Intermittent: 20 hour fast, with a 4-hour feeding window.
      • Custom Fast: creating a fast that suits your lifestyle and schedule. Get creative!

I absolutely SWEAR by intermittent fasting.

Without a doubt, the thing that I love the most about fasting is that fact it puts me in control of my health and habits, instead of giving full control over to my human desires and cravings.

When we are constantly eating throughout the day, without regards to the time of day, or what we are actually eating, we lose a sense of control. When you give yourself healthy restrictions and are more conscious about your eating habits, the life transformation can be HUGE (I am a witness to this statement).

Even if you do intermittent a couple of times a week, it is still better than nothing! If you do not feel like you could fast 16 hours a day, start with something small and then work up to more.

START TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE OR SKILL

If I could pick one lesson to share with others that I have learned traveling around the world and living all of my 20´s abroad, is the importance of taking time to learn a second language. I recommend this to all ages, but I LITERALLY cannot stress it enough for younger people.

We live in a world with so many free resources and online tools that can help give us a jumpstart to learning a new language from the comfort of our home. Being stuck in the house all day is a perfect opportunity to form a habit of dedicating time each day to learning the basics of a foreign language. Starting with the basics and memorizing some of the most common words and sentences is an excellent place to start.

I learned my first word of Spanish in 2013, so I know that feeling of learning a foreign language TOTALLY from scratch. I dedicated my 20´s to study Spanish each and every day and finally got to the point that I can comfortably speak on stage in front of thousands of people.

However, in order to get to that point, I had to start with the basics and create a consistent habit of studying Spanish each and every day.

The exciting part about learning a foreign language is that it is a life long process. I am fluent now, but I understand that there is so much more that I have to learn, even in my native language.

With that said, I still continue with the habit of sitting down each day to strictly read Spanish books, articles or listen to podcasts. I always have my phone on hand to write down words that I have never heard of before and different ways to structure my sentences.

Learning a language is SO much fun. Hands down, my Spanish learning time is one of my favorite times in the whole entire day!

MAKE A BUCKET LIST AND VISION BOARD

I am a huge fan of positive thinking and creating our own personal reality. There is no better time than being stuck inside for weeks on end to really sit down and think about your goals and take time to reevaluate your plans and the direction that you want to go in your life.

Do you have a written bucket list?

If not, this is a good place to start. Sit down in a quiet place and let your imagination run free about all the things that you would like to achieve in your future, both personally and professionally.

Do you want to travel the world?

Do you want to start your own company?

Do you want to create an inspiring blog?

A nonprofit organization?

Attend the university or a trade school in order to learn a new skill?

What exactly is it that you want to do?

Maybe you are like many people out there and simply have NO idea. That is totally fine as well. In fact, the more you dive into your bucket list and become absorbed in your dreams and desires, the more likely you will find a path or dream that is right and inspirational for you.

Once you create your bucket list, then you can start using that information to create a vision board. I have a full vision board on the wall of my house in America from years back. However, now that I am traveling the world, I use a digital one in order to have a visual of the goals that I would like to achieve in my future.

Visualization of your dream life is very important as you are working and striving to make that goal become a reality.

Get creative with your bucket list and do not put any limits to your imagination

Take advantage of this time in quarantine do not forget that no one is alone. We are ALL in this together.

.

.

.

.

Don’t forget to also check out:

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

SUAN MOKKH: 10 DAY SILENT & MEDITATION RETREAT IN THAILAND

admin5 Positive Actions to Take During Quarantine
read more

Suan Mokkh: 10 Day Silent & Meditation Retreat in Thailand

When people think about traveling through South East Asia, the first thought that typically comes to mind is the idea of pristine beaches, wild parties, elephants, delicious exotic food, beautiful women, and unique temples. Many eager travelers from all across the world flock to Thailand each and every year to get a little taste of their paradise, at a price that will blow your mind!
.
After an amazing month of traveling throughout Thailand, immersing myself in their culture, meeting all kinds of amazing people, exploring the islands, and even attending one of the craziest parties on Earth, the Full Moon Party, I started to feel a strong connection to the country and their easy-going way of life.
.

My whole experience couldn’t have been more epic…

However, just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, life threw a huge curveball…..

On the morning of the Full Moon Party, I woke up extra early in order to explore the island of Ko Samui by motorcycle before making my way later in the evening to the next island, Ko Phangan. My perfect day of exploring the island turned tragic in the blink of any eye when my driver suddenly lost control of our bike and sent us both flying across the highway and crashing directly into the cement.
The intense impact caused both of our helmets to go flying and we both suffered serious injuries. We were taken 45 minutes away by ambulance to the closest hospital and from there all of our plans completely changed.
.

This unfortunate situation truly opened my eyes and helped me to see how fragile life really is and how EVERYTHING can change in just a blink of an eye.

After my accident, I was told by the doctor that I would not be able to travel for a period of time, especially the way that I was used to traveling. I was only 2 weeks into my 5 months long trip through Asia and this news was a huge shock and disappointment to me.
Instead of losing hope, I decided to find the positive in the situation and explore the few options that I could do in Thailand with a collarbone that was broken in half. After the x-ray, the doctor told me that an operation was not necessary and informed me that if I take a couple of weeks off with no movement, I could later continue traveling (later I found out that was NOT true).
.
It was in a moment of desperation that I found a 10-day silent/meditation retreat called Suan Mokkh just a few hours from I was located at that time. Most retreats require pre-registration, but this one was on a first-come, first-serve basis and was only a week away from starting.
I just KNEW that this unique experience was meant to be!
.
I had previously done a 10-day retreat called Vipassana in India which absolutely changed my life, but Suan Mokkh was a whole different type of experience, combining different styles of meditation (sitting, walking, group) and yoga.
.
The experience seemed suitable for me in my crippled state, so without a second thought, I packed my bags and headed to Suratthani Thailand to embark on an adventure that would continue to test my human limits and force me mentally to the next level.
 .

My mind was a crazy, uncontrolled disaster upon entering into Suan Mokkh.

I felt wild and untamable…..

.
All of my thoughts were going in different directions. I spent hours a day worrying about my previous collarbone injury, wondering how I would manage to stay in Thailand with my situation, and not to forget to mention, the INTENSE pain I was experiencing because of this.
.
As if that were not enough, I felt an additional overwhelming sense of stress related to work assignments, social media, and collaborations that I was completely behind on. As much as I was excited to take on a new challenge, I felt totally incapable of disconnected from the world and entering into a totally silent world, with no electronics for 10 whole days!  

WHAT IS SUAN MOKKH? 

 
Suan Mokkh is a monastery located far out in the middle of nature, where many monks live and study. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, which means “Servant of Buddha,” is the one that founded this magical place in 1989. Since then, thousands of people all over the world have been able to visit, live, and have a powerful spiritual experience.
.
As a guest, I was able to live with the monks for 10 full days, in a stress free atmosphere, surrounded by nothing more than other international mediators, monks, and the calming sound of nature all around me.
.
.
.
Suan Mokkh is a magical location, that attracts more than 1000 foreigners each and every year. The experience can be a very powerful and life-changing one, but it is not easy. In fact, many of the mediators never actually make it to the end to experience the sense of satisfaction you can feel from disconnecting with the world and reconnecting without yourself for 10 full days in silence.

RULES

  • No talking or nonverbal communication for 10 full days.
  • Zero Electronics (includes: cell phone, Ipods, cameras, computers, video games, radio, etc.)
  • No personal books (you may read books that they have assigned during break time after day three).
  • No sexual activity (including masturbation).
  • No alcohol, drugs, caffeine, or tobacco.
  • No snacks
  • No shared rooms (males and females in separate buildings).
  • No meals after noon time (2 vegetarian meals/day + 1 drink in the evening).
  • No shoes in meditation hall, rooms, or kitchen.

.

NOTE: This retreat is not for the weak-minded.

I can tell you from personal experience that it can be a total shock to the body and could possibly cause you moments of severe anxiety, especially if you have any sort of addictions (caffeine, cigarettes, etc).

Keep in mind that all of the comforts that one tends to have on a normal day to day basis, such as eating 3-5 meals, sleeping in a comfortable bed, sleeping in until late, freedom to talk and interact with others, are COMPLETELY monitored and restricted.

.

If you keep your mind open and embrace the changes around you, it can be a transformative experience.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

 

Registration is done in person on the last day of the previous month by 3 pm. The option is available to sleep there the night before registration (free of charge) in order to ensure your spot in the retreat.

Location: Suratthani, Thailand.

Cost: 2,000 baht (non refundable) = $65.00

Language: All Dhamma lessons are taught ONLY in English.

It is very important to have a good level of English if you want to get the most out of the daily lessons. In fact, it’s possible that they will refuse your application if you do not speak English, due to the importance of actively listening to the teachings given each day.

Arriving: The cheapest way to get there is by bus from Suratthani.  Mention that you want to get off at Wat Suan Mokkh and the driver will lead you there for around 50 Baht  ($1.45).

.

WHAT TO TAKE

 

The retreat is located far out into the woods and mosquitos are a HUGE annoyance. Mosquito nets are provided on-site, but you should load up on repellent and take socks (even if it’s hot) to serve as extra protection against them.

It’s mandatory to wear loose-fitting, non-see-through clothing. Anything that draws attention to your body, such as open shoulder shirts or short shorts are prohibited and you will quickly be advised to change your clothes.

All bucket showers must be done modesty, with a sarong placed around you, which they will provide free of charge on day one.

They have a small store available in the cafeteria with everything that you might possibly need, such as sanitary products, first aid, toilet paper, repellent, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

The heat during the day can be quite intense, so it’s important to stay hydrated. There are many places on-site that you can fill up your water bottle with fresh water, so don’t forget to pack a big bottle to carry with you at all times.

Keep in mind that you will be required to walk in the night and early morning, so carrying a headlamp or flashlight can be helpful. If you do not have one, they will provide you with a lantern.

You will not be required your phone as a flashlight like you normally do!

 

.

————-WHAT TO EXPECT—————

.

.

REGISTRATION

After making your payment, they will do a short one on one interview with you and ask you questions regarding any past mediation experience you have had. They like to get this information because you will be asked to focus solely on the techniques you learn in Suan Mokkh. They also ask that you don’t openly combine other practices that you have learned in the past, which might be a distraction others around you.

After the interview, you will be asked to store all of your electronics away and prepare for our first group talk, which will clearly indicate the rules and expectations of the retreat.

CHORES

In the registration process, you will be required to choose a chore that you will be required to do on a daily basis during the full 10 days.  There are different options available, from sweeping the dorms, washing the tables after lunch, to cleaning the bathrooms. The earlier you arrive on registration day, the better your chances are of picking a chore that you enjoy.

I was assigned the task of sweeping outside the dorms multiple times a day and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed my time sweeping in silence. I turned my duty into a form of working meditation and found a lot of peace in the experience.

MEALS

Mealtime was hands down my favorite time of the day.

Before each meal, we listened to a small message from our instructor, followed by a short meditation that we were instructed to read out loud in order to ground and focus us before and during our mealtime.

All meals are 100% vegetarian and absolutely delicious! The food was very tasty and the serving sizes were quite large, normally allowing enough for seconds.

After about 1 pm, we were required to fast until 8:00 am the next day.

While this might seem impossible for most people, especially if you have never fasted a day in your life, you will most likely be surprised about how your hunger tends to diminish when your body gets used to skipping a few meals.

In the evening, a drink will be provided, which might include hot tea, hot chocolate, or coconut water.

SLEEPING

I entered the meditation retreat with a collarbone that was broken in half, so my sleeping situation was quite complicated.

You will be required to sleep on a concrete bed, with a hard, wooden pillow. It’s very uncomfortable for someone without a broken bone, so just imagine how it must’ve felt with a broken bone to lay on.

If you fear bugs and spiders, you will need to overcome that on day one.

While I didn’t see many creatures entering my room in the night, I know many others had awful problems with them. I heard many random screams in the night from other meditators due to spiders and large bugs entering into their bed.

As I mentioned before, mosquito nets are provided, so that does help to protect creatures from crawling inside.

 

DAILY SCHEDULE

 

0400- WAKE UP BY MONASTERY BELL

0430- MORNING READING

0445- SITTING IN SILENCE MEDITATION

0515 YOGA AND EXERCISE

0700- MEDITATION AND DHAMMA TALK

0800- BREAKFAST AND CHORES

1000- DHAMMA TALK

1100- WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1145- SITTING MEDITATION

1230- LUNCH AND CHORES

1430: SITTING MEDITATION

1530: WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1615: SITTING MEDITATION

1700: CHANTING & LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION

1800: TEA TIME & HOT SPRINGS (OPTIONAL)

1930: SITTING MEDITATION

2000: GROUP WALKING MEDITATION AROUND THE POND

2030: SITTING MEDITATION

2100: PREPARE FOR BED

2130: TIME FOR BED

.

DID I REALLY ENJOY MY EXPERIENCE?

My experience at Suan Mokkh was unbelievable! I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to stay there and grow in the ways in which I did. It’s an experience that I will carry in my heart for as long as I live.

It was not easy at all for me, even having had previous experience with a similar 10 day retreat year back. However, I left the retreat feeling very grounded and truly shaped from the inside out. Personal growth and development is not an easy thing. This experience made me feel like I was going to pull my hair out at times, but I truly believe in the quote:

No pain, no gain. 

The sense of satisfaction I felt making it to the end was something that cannot be put into words. Many people in my retreat dropped out early on, but I worked through the pain and discomfort and finished what I started.

I still cannot believe that I have spent 20 full days of my life in total silence!

.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE: SUAN MOKKH OR VIPASANNA?

 

Both meditation retreats are unique in their own special way, but if I had to choose one, it would be Suan Mokkh.

What I loved about my experience there was the variety of meditation styles and the opportunity to practice yoga each and every morning as the sun came up. It was magical!

I believe there is a strong connection between the mind and body movements.  Having the chance to meditate, while exercising and walking, opened my eyes up to a whole new aspect of meditation.

In Vipassana, we were expected to sit all day, incorporating absolutely no form of exercise.

I love to move my body and I find a better connection to the universe and myself with I implement yoga and walking into my meditation practice. One of the neatest experiences I had in Suan Mokkh was the nightly group waking mediation around the pond.

The sound of bugs filled the air as we circled barefoot around the pond in total silence. The peace I felt in those moments is something that can’t be put into words.

The sky was clear and filled with thousands of stars. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.

MY MAIN LESSON LEARNED

There are so many lessons that I learned from spending another 20 full days of my life in complete silence. Slowing down my pace, disconnecting and reconnecting within my heart and soul allowed me to deeply reflect on my life, blessings, and relationships.

Being away from all materialistic possessions and distractions of the world allowed me to learn more about myself in a more intimate way and fall deeper in love with who I am.

Slowing down allowed me time to generate more love and respect for the others around me find more appreciation for nature.

I felt greatly connected with the present moment and free to release the barriers that were holding me back in the past and the fears that I had for the future. I learned, through practice, how to focus on the breath and meditate focusing strictly on that.

.

HAPPY & SATISFIED GROUP AFTER 10 DAYS OF PURE SILENCE…..

.

.

.

Don’t forget to also check out:

 

 

adminSuan Mokkh: 10 Day Silent & Meditation Retreat in Thailand
read more