Overland Travel to Liberia, Africa: A Country of Long Standing Resilience

After an incredible three week overland trip across Sierra Leone, I finally reached my next stop, Liberia, country #98.

I have been intrigued about this place since the first time that I heard about it years back. Unfortunately, many people have only heard about Liberia through its tragic past with war and ebola, and to be quite honest, fear often holds travelers back from venturing off to that part of Africa. 

I truly met some incredible people during my stay there, some in which suffered things that you couldn’t even imagine during those dark years of war. 

As I traveled through the country, the word that stuck in my mind was RESILIENCE. It is a country that has had it share of suffering, but somehow they have kept moving forward..

If you are not familiar with Liberia’s past, I will give you a very quick summary….

In 1989, civil war broke out when a group of rebels, led by Charles Taylor entered into the country through the Ivory Coast and began killing off the ethnic groups siding with President Samuel Doe. This war lasted over 7 years. Not too long after, the second civil war began, from 1999-2003.

Sadly, more than 200,000 people died during those years of war and the survivors were sent to neighboring countries to refugee camps. 

Many years later, in 2014, Ebola broke out in West Africa. Liberia was the first in the region to report it, and from that moment there was a downward spiral, taking the lives of over 11,000 Liberians..


Let’s be honest…

 

Fear is the factor that prevents people from visiting new places and getting outside of their comfort zone, especially in parts of the world where war only happened a short time ago.

In the case of Liberia, I would not say that I was fearful, but more hesitant and cautious as I made plans to visit there. Many skeptical people warned me and would say:  

 

“Sarah, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into. Danger is all around and you must stay away from there.”

“It is very unstable and it not a place you should visit, especially as a solo female traveler.”

 

I understand that many people mean well in their concerns for me, but these warnings are the same ones that I heard years back when I first mentioned to people that I was going to travel alone across the world. Everyday during that period of time people would warn and try to instill fear in me, but luckily I did not take their advice and stay home just dreaming about traveling.

I took the the most important step that most people tend to skip: ACTION! 

Fear…

Most people live in a prison of fear…

Fearful of change…

Fearful of the unknown….

Fearful of what COULD happen…

Trust me, I know….

Before traveling, I lived in that overwhelming prison of fear…

In fact, if you would’ve told me 15 years ago that I would be taking a solo, overland trip across West Africa, into Liberia, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. 

Through my years of traveling, my idea of fear has completely changed and my current mission in life is to take on any challenge and go into new situations with an open mind and heart.

That is exactly what I did going on my trip to Liberia…

 

                              Liberia. Country # 98

 

 
                             Country: Liberia                       
                             Capital: Monrovia 
                             Language: English
                             Money: Liberian Dollar

                           Visa: 180 USD (this is what I paid, but this can vary                                       depending on where you get it).

 

I crossed into Liberia overland from Bo, Sierra Leone. According to Google Maps, the trip should’ve taken around 5 hours.

 

After having had traveled from Mauritania-Senegal-Gambia-Guinea Bissau-Guinea-Sierra Leone, and then to Liberia overland by public transportation, I knew without a doubt that the estimation of 5 hours would be double or triple that time.

 

Anything can happen while traveling in West Africa and if you are serious about visiting there, you will need lots of patience and a good sense of humor.

 

If you want to pay half the price, you can ride on top!


Without that, you will NOT survive. 

 

My first stop on my wild adventure to Liberia was in Robertsport. 

 

I must admit, there is no better place in Liberia (in my opinion) to make a stop for rest and relaxation than Robertsport. It has a reputation for it’s beautiful beaches, relaxed environment, great surfing spots and a common place to meet other travelers.

For anyone traveling from Sierra Leone to Libera overland, this is convenient place, not too far off the main road, that you can enjoy and see a part of Liberia that you will not see just visiting the capital city. 

 

HOW TO GET THERE

 

The route that I chose was from Bo, Sierra Leone to Robertsport.

It is important to note that road conditions are not the best in this part of the world. Some parts of the highway are brand new and in perfect condition, but the majority of the roads are not good and it literally feels like you are going on a bumpy roller coaster the whole time.

If you tend to get carsick, this is NOT the place for you. 

Also, the conditions of the shared taxis are quite bad and it is VERY normal to have to get out of the car multiple times during the trip in order to help push the car up the steep hills. 

 

ARRIVING TO THE BORDER

After crossing the border from Sierra Leone there is a motorcycle that can take you to the Liberian border for a small price. From there you can catch a shared taxi going straight to Monrovia.

 

 

If you want to stop at Robertspoint, you will need to inform the driver that you need to get off at the road going in that direction. The driver will drop you off along the highway and there will be motorcycles and taxis waiting that can take you the rest of the way for less than 5 USD. 

I chose to take a motorcycle from the main highway to Robertsport and it took us around 25-35 minutes. 

To continue on to Monrovia from Robertsport, you can get a shared taxi and the distance is around 80km. 

 

ENTERING INTO LIBERIA 

There are many different routes that enter into Liberia from the three surrounding countries:

  • Sierra Leone

  • Ivory Coast

  • Guinea.

If you plan on taking the safer option, you can arrive to Liberia via in their main airport, Robert’s International, but keep in mind that flights tend to be quite expensive to and from there. 

It is very important to get your visa situation figured out before arriving. The immigration officers told me that it is possible to get a visa at the border, but I do not recommend it.

There is not an “official” price, meaning that they can try to change the cost to whatever they want. I can tell you from my own experience that it is much better in most cases (if traveling overland) to get your visa in the neighboring country. 

 

MONROVIA (CAPITAL)

This is the largest city in the whole country, and the capital. It is a city filled with history and an interesting place to go in order to get a better idea of Liberia as a country. Passing through the city you can see the remains of old 19th century town houses that were destroyed from war.

 

 

Given that the war happened in the last 30 years, the results of the war are still seen in many parts of the city and in the areas outside of Monrovia. 

 

Ducor Hotel 

This was West Africa’s first 5 star luxurious hotel and an important symbol of prosperity for Liberia throughout the world years ago. This hotel was built in 1960 and attracted people from all over the world to Liberia, for business and tourism. 

It had a beautiful rooftop, with incredible views of the city, 106 spacious rooms, a large swimming pool, tennis court and many other fantastic amenities.

 

 

I took a trip to the hotel and walked through each floor, until I reached the top. I could not help but think about how the hotel might have been more than 30 years ago. What I learned during my visit there was that the hotel was closed in 1989, the year of the first Liberian Civil War.

The hotel was destroyed and anything of value was taken out. What used to be this elaborate, luxurious hotel, was soon nothing more than a destroyed, empty, abandoned building.

 

 

As of today, the Ducor Hotel is one of the most visited places and all of Liberia.

The climb up is quite steep, but at the top you can get beautiful 360 views of the whole city.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY 

There are tons of options available to stay throughout the country, but there are two places that I visited during my stay in Liberia that I absolutely fell in love with.

If you are planning a trip to Liberia, you do NOT want to miss out on lodging in these places. 

 

Libassa Ecolodge

Libassa Ecolodge is located about 45 minutes outside of Monrovia (easily accesible by private or shared taxi). This is a perfect escape from the busy city capital. 

 

 

It’s located in a beautiful area right in nature and only a short walk away from the beach. 

One aspect that I loved about this place is that it is totally surrounded by palm trees and not a single one of them was cut down in order to build this place. The trees that are used to build the hut are replaced with a new seed, bringing life to a new tree in its place. 

The huts are so orderly and cozy. The water is restricted and each room is limited to 200W of electricity. All the products are recycled and each day they are coming up with new ways to help save the environment. 

 

 

Libassa has the only wildlife sanctuary and the whole country.

Sadly, in West Africa it is a very common to see wild animals being used as pets or sold on the street. They do everything possible here to create awareness, educate and help stop illegal animal trafficking throughout the country.

 

 

As of now, more than 265 animals have entered into their sanctuary and out of all of these 123 have been released back out into the wild.

Going to the sanctuary was a touching experience and I recommend it to anyone. Not only will your see cute animals, such as a little pangolin, but you can also get that feeling of satisfaction, knowing that your $5 entrance into the sanctuary is going for a good cause.

 

 

If you are reading this and are not able to make a visit and are interested in donating to the cause, enter into their website make a donation.

Even one dollar can make a difference into the lives of these innocent wild animals. 

Click here for more information. 

 

Nana’s Lodge 

 

Nana’s Lodge is the very first place that I stayed in when I first arrived into Liberia in the town of Robertsport.

 

 

One of my favorite things about staying here was the chance to wake up to the sound of the ocean. They have many styles of beach side bungalows. The one that I stayed in had two double beds, a fan and a lovely balcony that faces the ocean.

 

 

Also, if you want to camp next to the beach, you can bring your own tent or rent one from them. As I mentioned, I chose to stay in a bungalow and it was definitely a great decision. I totally recommend it!

The lodge is located just steps away from an area that is very popular for surfers. In fact, I heard that Robertsport has some of the best waves in the whole country.

If you wake up early, you can find many surfers of all ages out in the ocean surfing. 

 

 

The lodge also has a volleyball net, large beach beds next to the ocean and reclining chairs to relax and read a book.

 

 

If you are adventurous, you can take a one hour hike along the beach to find a ghost ship wreck.

I must admit, it’s not the easiest hike in the world and you must be VERY careful because you have to climb slippery rocks (it is very hard to do with flip flops), but the experience was SO worth it! 

Click here for more information: 



My Liberian Nightmare….


Traveling the world is not always a fun, pleasant, happy adventure like people might assume it is by watching through Instagram. There are many moments in my travels that I have found myself in very uncomfortable situations, alone and totally lost. 

The obstacles that I have faced while on the road are part of the experience and with every situation that I have lived, I have come out with more wisdom and prepared to not make the same mistake again. 

With that said……..

After an exciting week exploring Liberia, my adventure took a major detour…..

I arrived at Libassa Resort, checked into my cabin and instantly started exploring the area. The lodge is a mini paradise, with a large pool, beach area and completely surrounded by nature. As I was walking around, I felt a strange sensation take over my body that only grew with every step. 

As always, I remained positive and said to myself, “This is only the exhaustion from endless travel.”

The weakness grew over the next two days to the point that I could barely make it from my bed to the bathroom. My stubbornness told me not to go to the doctor and to just keep drinking water and that everything will be okay…

However, it was not….

On the third day I found myself hunched over, weak and barely able to make it through the door of the International Hospital in Monrovia.

The doctor gave me a look of concern, took some quick tests and within 2 minutes diagnosed me with Malaria, a disease spread from mosquitos. 

 

HEALTH 

Malaria is very common in many parts of Africa and throughout the world. 

It can be easily treated if caught in the right time, but if you wait, it can and will kill you. In fact, thousands of people die every single year because of untreated Malaria.

If you plan to travel to Malaria zones, travel with precaution and realize that this is a disease that you don’t to mess around with. 

Don’t hesitate one second the moment you start to feel any sort of strange symptoms, such as unusual back pain, fever, weakness and fatigue.

Quickly find a local clinic or hospital in order to get tested. The earlier the doctors can diagnose Malaria, the quicker you can get the treatment you need in order to continue on with your life.

Unfortunately, my trip to Liberia was cut short after nine days of being there. The rest of the time I was either laying in a hospital bed or alone in the house of my American friend who allowed me to stay there while he was out of the country. 

 

 

It was hands-down one of the scariest experiences that I have had while traveling. It truly was a nightmare, especially being completely alone. 

 

People continually ask me “Why did you not get the vaccination for Malaria?!” 

 

As of now there is no vaccination available. 

Many people mistake the vaccination for Yellow Fever that you must get while traveling to Africa for Malaria. 

There are anti-Malaria pills available that you can take during your travel, but given that I was traveling for 4+ months, this option was highly discouraged by my doctor. The pills are quite strong and over a long period of time it might actually cause major problems. 

 

 

If you plan to travel long term in a Malaria zone like I did…..

 


My Words of Advice:

  1. Load up on mosquito repellent and apply it multiple times a day.
  2. Always pack long pants and sleeves and wear them as often as possible, especially in the evening hours. 
  3. Wear a mosquito bracelet (some people swear by these). 
  4. Wear socks any chance you can. 
  5. Sleep inside of a mosquito net. 
  6. For short trips, take the anti-Malaria mediation. 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to also check out:

Top Solo Female Travel Myths EXPOSED: Part 1

10 TRICKS BEFORE SPEAKING ON STAGE

THE ONE THING THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT

 

 

adminOverland Travel to Liberia, Africa: A Country of Long Standing Resilience
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The One Thing that you Should NEVER Travel Without

In just a blink of an eye, life has the ability to throw unexpected twists and take you down paths that you had never planned or imagined.

As a traveler, I am always making plans about where I am going to visit, what places I will explore and the adventures that I will take. Traveling is a very enriching experience that brings me joy and just the planning process alone is an adventure in and of itself, that gives me purpose and adds a bit of spice to my every day life.

During the planning stage, it’s my time to let my imagination and heart run free. Its my dreaming time, to where I think of all those bucket list items that I have always wanted to do, brush up on my knowledge of the destinations that I plan to visit and learn all that I possibly can about the culture, gastronomy and traditions, so that I will be better informed once I arrive to my chosen destination.

Knowledge always helps in order to better know the area and to engage in meaningful conversations with locals and other travelers.

Over my years of traveling alone to almost 100 countries around the world, I have learned many valuable and important lessons on how to plan my trips. Each and every travel experience that I have teaches me something brand new and helps me to be just a little bit more prepared and organized.

Honestly, so much of my learning has to come from making lots of mistakes and learning from each of them.

One of the key lessons that I have learned recently is, while in some cases it is good to have a free spirit, let go and not follow pre-established plans, in many countries this is not always the wisest decision. In fact, it will save you lots of stress and money in the long term whenever you take that addition time to inform and educate yourself on where you will be traveling, especially in under developed countries.

I once traveled without much of a plan, but I have now chosen to have a plan A, B, C and even a D!

Each and every year in the south of Thailand they celebrate the famous Full Moon Party, which is internationally known as one of the largest and wildest parties on the beach in the whole world. It attracts thousands of people from all over the planet every full moon and the night literally turns into a wild, chaotic, overcrowded party full of drunken tourists.

While traveling in Thailand, I decided to get involved in all of the fun and live the experience at least once in my life while I was in the south of the country. I  flew to a nearby city, Surat Thani and then took a boat to Ko Samui and then went on to Koh Phangan, where the party is celebrated.

However, sometimes no matter how long you spend planning and organizing your life and travels, life does not always the way we want it to go.

When I least expected it, life threw me an obstacle that completely changed my plans and adventure throughout Southeast Asia.

It all started with a beautiful sunny day, exploring the beaches of Ko Samui, then riding on the back of a motorcycle through the mountains and enjoying the amazing scenery of this spectacular island.

However, in just a blink of an eye, my friend lost control of the motorcycle and we suddenly were laying on the hard asphalt, with blood covering the both of us.

These are the kind of experiences that one does not usually take time to plan for, but that happen on a daily basis. I hear horror stories of other travelers, but I never expected something to happen to me. In that day I learned that no matter how careful we are, accidents can happen to all of us when we least expect it.

In that moment of disbelief, all I could do was lay there in the middle of the road and wait for someone to help us. I could feel my skin burning from the road burn and I had such intense pain in my shoulder that I knew without a doubt that something had to have been broken.

Strangers came quickly to help us and call for an ambulance.  I felt instant gratification for the fact that we were both alive, but at the same time a sense of frustration, knowing that I was only 2 weeks into my 5 month adventure through Asia.

It was just the beginning of my travels all I could do was wonder how in the world I would be able to continue my travels with a serious injury….

The ambulance arrived and put me on a stretcher and took me away in the ambulance. In the midst of all the chaos, although I was frustrated, I had a feeling of peace and security. I was grateful for my life and had a sense that no matter what the outcome was, that I was going to be okay.

The sense of peace and confidence that I felt came from the fact that I took time before starting my adventure to ensure that I had good international medical insurance, something that I did not have as a new traveler years back.

My insurance plan not only covered me in my country of residence, Spain, but in all the countries I had planned to visit.

After my accident, I had to go to four hospitals in 3 different countries and found out that I had a broken collarbone, in addition to severe burns on my legs that became infected.

In the moment of the crash my helmet went flying off and I hit my head against the asphalt, but luckily I did not suffer any damage. They performed a few different tests: X-rays, MRI and a brain scan to ensure that I had no internal injuries.

Looking back now and seeing all that I had to go through over that period of time,  I do not know what I would have done without my international health insurance. I am very grateful to MTZ Seguros, because they were by my side at all hours of the day and quickly answered any questions that I had.

I was able to talk to them directly by phone, with a very little wait time. They calmed me down, answered my questions and reassured me that they would send all of the paperwork and authorizations necessary in order to cover the costs.

In the end, my insurance kept their word on all of their promises and sent all the authorizations to the hospitals and they covered all of the costs. I ended up flying back to Spain to get collarbone surgery and my private insurance covered 100% of the operation, the hospital stay and the rehabilitation sessions after, without any problem or hassle in the process.

It’s important to keep in mind that I’m not Spanish. I am North American and when I contracted the insurance and suffered this accident I did not even have residency in Spain yet. The operation was also done in a country different than my country of residence at that time, but even so, everything was covered by my private plan.

As a foreigner living in Spain, having insurance for less than € 50 per month, with no copay, has been has been a huge blessing, especially as a world traveler.  When I was given my annual rate, I thought it was a scam. When I was living in the USA I was paying close to $ 500 a month, with a high copay every time that I went to the doctor.

I know people from my experience working as a nurse that have had serious accidents and have had to go with an ambulance, stay a couple of days in the hospital and in the end had a hospital bill of $30,000 dollars or more. Even if one has insurance, they are still required in many cases to pay a high amount to cover costs and that can quickly create a financial crisis.

I always recommend my insurance to my friends who live in Spain, because it is much more practical and affordable than the coverage that they will get in the USA.

No matter who you are, if you are traveling abroad, obtaining excellent international health insurance coverage before leaving is key, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.


I have officially traveled alone to almost half of the countries around the world, with the goal of visiting them all. I have many new countries that I will visit in the coming years and I am very certain that I will never travel to any destination without my international insurance.

Traveling can be an enriching and life changing experience, but do risk something as important as your health when you take your next trip.

 

My hope for you all is that you will never be in the situation where you will have to use your insurance, but don’t risk it!

 

 

MTZ Seguros
www.mtzseguros.com
 635 311 059
info@mtzseguros.com

 

 

 

Don’t forget to also check out: 

ECOLOGICAL BRANDS THAT YOU MUST KNOW!

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

EXPLORING THE ISLAND OF MALLORCA, SPAIN

 

 

 

 

adminThe One Thing that you Should NEVER Travel Without
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Most Common Travel Mistakes: Part 3

As you all now know, if you have been reading this three-part series, that there are many travel mistakes that travelers can fall into that could be the difference between a beautiful experience across the world, or a total nightmare.

There are so many precautions that we can take and lessons that we can learn from other travelers that have personally had terrible experiences. Given that I am the queen at making lots of travel mistakes, I desperately seek to help and inform other travelers so that they don’t find themselves in the same problems that I have been in multiple times throughout my journey across almost 100 countries.

With that said, let’s continue on to the last part of this series of “Most Common Travel Mistakes.”

28. Traveling with your Normal Habits and Patterns

When my parents traveled all the way across the world to visit me in Ireland, one of the first places we went to was an American restaurant to have ribs, something that they had eaten for dinner at home just two nights before. It is so important to break your routine and try different things while traveling. 

Experiencing new things is part of the travel experience and adventure. Get with a local and see how they live their life, try something new, and make new memories through new experiences.

29. Not Taking Time for Exercise and your Health

I know many travelers that gain weight while traveling, simply by just not caring about what they eat or taking time to exercise daily. Traveling and finding that balance is not an easy thing, but believe it or not, I have lost weight while traveling and have come to find a good balance, with healthy eating and exercise while on the road.

This may be something difficult for new travelers, but it’s something you must be aware of, so that you can take positive steps towards a more healthy future. 

30. Depleting your Budget Due to Alcohol Consumption

This has to be one of the biggest problems I have heard from backpackers from all over the world. Keeping up a nightly drinking pattern can get very expensive, even in the countries that have a reputation for being cheap to travel to. Many claim that alcohol is their biggest expense and something that sends many of them home early and totally broke. 

This is an easy fix: find enjoyment and a life outside of being drunk.

31. Eating Near the Major Touristic Sites

Want to get ripped off in just one second?  

Find the nearest major attraction and eat at the restaurant next to it. This is a guarantee way to get ripped off. Instead, take a five minute walk away from the site and have lunch, especially if you are on a budget. Not only will you save money by leaving the touristic areas, but you are more likely to find more local restaurants and people. 

32. Waiting to Buy all your Last Minute Gifts at the Airport

I seem to make the same mistake every time that I travel when it comes to buying gifts or postcards in a country. I end up finding the perfect gift in the city center, but then waiting and saying that I will go back and buy it another time.

Time has a way of getting away from me I find myself desperately running around the airport at the last minute trying to find something quick to buy.  The prices are much higher in the airports, even in most duty free areas. I had to pay up to 4 euros just for one postcard in Jordan in the middle east!

33. Booking your Trip too Early Without Insurance to Change your Dates.

Already planning your trip for next year?

That’s not a bad thing to do, but do not book your flight for a year out without insurance to change your ticket, because you never know what will happen.

Yes, flights are cheaper, but if something happens and you can’t go, it doesn’t matter how cheap your flight was, you will end up paying double in many cases. Many airlines offer insurance for less than 20 dollars and this can give you the peace of knowing that no matter what happens, you are covered. 

34. Paying for Rental Car Damages that you NEVER did

Ever rented a car for a week without a single problem, only to return back and forced to pay fines? How does that happen?

Not checking your car over the minute you get it.

Don’t assume that the car is without damages when the inspector finishes looking it over and taking notes. Go around and analyze the car and take pictures from every angle, especially in cheaper rental car companies.  This can save you a lot of money, and in if they try to accuse you of a damage that you did not do, your pictures will be your evidence.

35. Not Taking Time to Renew your Passport

Many countries will not even let you into their country if your passport is about to expire.  I personally had to stay three weeks in the south of India in order to wait for a new passport.  Also, make sure to pay attention to the number of pages in your passport if you are a frequent traveler and do not reach the very last page if you plan to continue traveling abroad.

Most countries will ask for a full page upon arrival for the entry and exit stamps.

36. Traveling to the UK after staying close to 90 days in Europe

This was one of my biggest mistakes that cost me over $500 in missed flights + fees.  I traveled through England on the way to Iceland after being in Europe for about 80 days. Due to the fact that they thought I was trying to live there or do a visa run, they detained me overnight for questioning (although in the end they never asked me anything).

Many people that travel in Europe for 90 days go there for a period of time and then go back to Europe. In order to prevent this or the possibility of you trying to live there without a appropriate visa, they will deport you, even if you are slightly questionable. 

My biggest tip would be to visit England only after being in Europe for a short time, or going with a round-trip ticket, showing that you will be going to a destination far away from Europe after your stay.

37. Not Taking the Proper Safety Precautions

We have all heard the obvious safety precautions:

  • Avoid wearing flashy clothes, jewelry or purses.
  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially as a woman. 
  • Avoid walking around in the evening with your camera around your neck.
  • Avoiding talking on your phone while walking through the city (especially at night).

These are pretty standard and these precautions are there for a reason. I broke a couple of these rules and had to pay a hefty price. I was in a Central American country walking alone the evening to my hotel while talking quickly to my mom on the phone.

All the sudden I looked up and saw a man in all black running at me with a gun. He yelled at me, put the gun to my head and robbed me. He was not happy to find out that I had no money with me, but at least he got my IPhone 7.

38. Passing through a Small Airport if you are in a Questionable Visa Situation or Processing a European Visa. 

I saved one my most dramatic travel mistake for last. I was detained and quickly deported out of the small Milan Bergamo Airport in Italy due to a minor mistake that I could’ve prevented.

Long story short, my Spanish visa was being processed, and while I was waiting, I left the European Union to visit Belarus. I was not aware that I was not allowed to leave the European Union during the time my visa was being processed and that I would run a high risk of not being able to enter back into the Schengen Zone.

I was stopped by Italian officials and they did a full analysis of my passport, marking on a piece of paper all of the times that I had entered and left Europe.  In the end they officially counted that I was 3 days over my maximum limit in 180 days without a visa.

What did that resulted in, besides being locked up and police escorted out of the European Union?

A beautiful X in my passport.

Lesson to learn: Do not leave the EU if you are processing a visa. Wait until you have the visa and then travel without restrictions. If you are over your 90 day mark, DO NOT leave the European Union and try getting back in without a problem.

Don’t forget to also check out: 

adminMost Common Travel Mistakes: Part 3
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Exploring the Island of Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is the largest Spanish island, located to the east of the peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. It is known internationally for its beautiful landscapes, beaches and nightlife.

When most people think about this island, they tend to think of only a beach destination, but after visiting there several times I discovered that it has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches!

Mallorca is rich in history, with delicious cuisine and many incredible places to explore: mountains, traditional villages, beaches etc.

It is perfect for a family vacation, a couples getaway or even for those who travel alone, like myself.

It is also an ideal location for professionals or companies that are looking to organize or attend activities and events. There is always something happening on Mallorca island!

During this last year, I have had the opportunity to travel to Mallorca, combining both work and pleasure.

During my first visit, I was invited to attend the annual Travel Bloggers Meeting of the Balearic Islands. During the five days that I visited, I stayed at the beautiful Meliá Calviá Beach Hotel, which was in a beautiful area, full of attractions and night life.

For this event, they invited 17 influential travel bloggers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Poland, the United States, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. During this trip we visited different parts of Calviá and explored different key parts of the island.

Apart from being one of the invited influencers, I was also the invited keynote speaker that was asked to share about my experience traveling alone to almost 100 countries around the world and working as a full time media influencer.

On my second trip, I was invited to speak at DESTINO MICE at the Congress Palace in Palma. This is an annual event aimed towards meeting and event organizers that seek to promote Mallorca as a specialized destination.

In the afternoon, I gave a 2 hour training on Emotional and Social Intelligence applied towards management.

The next day, I was one of the five inspirational women invited to speak in Inca for an event with MOTIVATING TALKS organized by Creativity Events.

Resultado de imagen de MOTIVATIONAL TALKS de Creativity Events.

After spending some time in Mallorca, I quickly realized that it is much different than any of the other Spanish islands that I have visited so far. In my opinion, it was a huge advantage visiting in the low season, because I was able to escape the crowds and experience a whole different side of Mallorca that many people might not get to see in the high, crowded season.

Mallorca is so much bigger than I thought, so I decided that renting a car would be the best way to get around and explore.

I chose Roig Rental Car, a car rental company located less than 5 minutes from the airport. I was picked up by a shuttle at the airport and taken quickly to their main office. I was given a small, fuel efficient car during the week that I was there. It was very practical and I got my around the whole island on just one tank of gas!

This is hands down the most comfortable and affordable way to get around, especially if you are traveling with multiple people.

Recommendations:

There are many hotels and places to stay on the island, but given that Mallorca is known for its beautiful beaches, I decided to look for something as close to the beach as I could. The ocean always gives me energy and helps me to recharge my batteries, so finding a place with beach views was a must.

Hotel Nixe Palace

After a late evening flight and dinner, I arrived to Hotel Nixe Palace quite exhausted. The reception was friendly, helpful and had everything prepared for me as soon as I arrived. Upon entering the room, I was surprised to find a nice welcome note, fruit platter and a bottle of cava. The amazing detail as soon as I entered my room was priceless!

The room was very spacious and the bed was soft and comfortable.  I instantly opened the curtains and saw that there was a large balcony. I stepped outside, took a deep breath of the fresh air, with a gentle breeze coming from the ocean, and instantly felt relaxed.

I was so excited about having the large outdoor area with seaside views that I actually woke up each day way before the sun in order to have some quiet time before my events and calm my mind with the sound of the waves and deep breathing exercises and mediation.

Each day I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet in order to enjoy a delicious healthy breakfast with amazing ocean views.

Given that I travel a large part of the year, it’s very important for me to have healthy options for each meal. Most people travel and skip their diets, but given that travel is my lifestyle, I make it a rule to eat healthy when on the go, just like one would do in their regular day to day lives.

In the evening, after returning to the hotel, I finished each day by a nice workout in their gym and soaking in the spa. I was so impressed with all the amenities of the hotel. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to Mallorca!

Click here to read more about Hotel Nixe Palace.

GASTRONOMY

Mallorca is an island known for its gastronomy. The food has a rich history, with African and Roman influences.

I tried many different restaurants during my stay in Mallorca, ranging from classy sit down places, to stand up tapa bars.

In my first visit to the island, I found a place called Urban Food in Calvia. It has a very modern atmosphere that attracts many international tourists and is perfect for trying different types of Mallorcan food and tapas.

I loved this area because of the different options of food available and for its young, hip environment. This area is also perfect for shopping, night life or just simply an evening stroll.

Restaurants:

Lume & Co

This was the very first place that I visited after getting my rental car and starting my adventure through Mallorca. This was recommended to me by others and they have excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

It is located in Genoa, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Palma, about 10 minutes by car from the center.

Upon entering, I fell in love with their cozy and romantic atmosphere. It is located in a 15th century historic building, next to the castle of Son Berga, which was restored and modernized from stables to a beautiful location to dine.

Their speciality is quality meats (without hormones, antibiotics and additives). However, there are many vegetarian options, as well as wild fish.

It was a perfect place to start off my trip through Mallorca: good food, romantic atmosphere and excellent service!

Click here to read more about Lume & Co.

La Cuadra Del Maño

Strolling through the old town, near the Plaza Mayor in Palma, a strong smell came over me that reminded me of my days back in USA when I used to have barbecues.

I followed that smell down the street until I found La Cuadra Del Mano, which was absolutely FULL of people. They had long lines of people waiting outside to enter, but I decided that given the amount of people there, that it must be a place that was popular and that I should not miss.

Although the restaurant was packed, they still managed to find a small place for my guest and I. We told the owner that we wanted to try a little bit of everything in small portions so that we could try out many different things that they had on the menu.

Within 10 minutes, the waiter started bringing large plates of food out, ranging from olives, cheese, morcilla, meat and home made bread with olive oil. Once we got started, it was very hard to stop eating.  We stayed there for 2 hours and we left feeling very full and satisfied!

I am not a meat eater, but there are other options to choose instead. However, without a doubt the best part of the experience was feeling the lively environment and the staff (its a family run business) that will treat you just like one of the family.

Food&Friends

This is a perfect place to hold business activities, events, special occasions or just a good night out with a group of friends. After the MICE event, the organizers and speakers went out to have a unique gastronomic experience, where we learned how to make new delicious dishes together.

This is an excellent way to learn about the local gastronomy and have a fun interactive experience for everyone!

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Apart from the delicious gastronomy, there is so much to enjoy in Mallorca, such as its coastal towns and cute traditional villages. I would of have liked to spend more time on the island in order to explore much more, but given that time was limited, I only had the chance to explore the following:

Porto Colom

This is an adorable fishing village where you can enjoy beautiful post card views and see small colorful houses and fishing boats. Many historians claim that this is actually where the famous explorer Christopher Columbus was born and for that reason it got its name, “Port Colom.”

I enjoyed walking through the town and seeing all the gorgeous views around sunset time. For those who have lots of time, boat trips are available, something that is highly recommended by others.

The ride from Porto Colom to the hotel was absolutely breathtaking. The sky ended up turning pink and yellow and I couldn’t help but stop the car and get out and take some pictures in the hay field.

Santayi

Walking through the old town you can see many cute shops and charming houses. Every Saturday there is a local market and its a great place to find traditional local products, homemade cheese, wine, fruit, jams and all kinds of different souvenirs.

If you are a wine lover, there are different places to stop along the way way to try different wines and to find a good quality bottle to take back home with you. One of the places worth mentioning is the Son Alegro Wine Cellar. They are known for making organic wine and highly respecting the environment.

I have to admit, out of all the places that I visited in Mallorca, this area was by far one of my favorites, because it is just a few kilometers away from the famous Cala del Moro. It is a small hidden beach, with beautiful blue waters and surrounded by rocks and groves.

There are many places to explore, but this is the most recognized area. There was not a single person in sight, which was the perfect opportunity to fly my drone and get some amazing video and footage.

Pollença

One of the things I quickly discovered walking the streets of Pollencça is that they actually have their own dialect. This is a great place to go and learn more about the culture of Mallorca, interact with locals and have an authentic type of experience.

This is also a nice place to relax and watch people. The environment is relaxed and good for taking a nice stroll and checking out the artsy places around. There are different areas that you can visit, but if you like to hike, I highly suggest you visit the Mountain Puig. You can walk it in about an hour and the views are lovely.

Strolling through the village was a nice way to end my time there. I found a very romantic restaurant that I fell in love with called FOGONEU

It is perfect for a chilled out evening, enjoying the good cuisine and wine with their tasting menu.

Valldemossa

This is a lovely place in the mountains of the “Serra de Tramontana”, a quiet and relaxing place with incredible views. You can visit different art galleries, enjoy delicious food, visit the monastery and walk through its artsy streets.

For all nature lovers, there are many trails in the area for hiking, with neat spots that you can stop and get nice panoramic views of the sea and Mallorca.

Foto: Domingo Vázquez

Deià

This is a coastal town in the western part of the island, known as the village of artists. It is a great destination for art lovers and those love to walk aimlessly though art galleries. Many claim that this is a great place to live if you are looking for a calm and relaxed way of living. There are many fantastic outdoor areas, with good hiking trails and excellent opportunities for photographers.

Mallorca is truly a hidden gem that one needs to discover and explore. I really believe that this is one of those places where you can visit countless times each year and still never run out of exciting places to discover.

Don´t forget to also check out: 

HOW I GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN 1 YEAR WHILE TRAVELING FULL TIME TO 20 COUNTRIES

7 GESTURES YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID IN OTHER COUNTRIES

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

adminExploring the Island of Mallorca, Spain
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7 Gestures You Might Want to Avoid in Other Countries

The more I travel around the world, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. Each and every day while being on the road life seems to teach me new lessons in regards to different cultures, lifestyle, people and completely new and distinct ways of thinking.

Traveling and having the opportunity to interact with countless individuals on a personal and professional level from all different cultures, ages and lifestyles has changed me from the inside out and has completely transformed the lens in which I see the world and the people in it.

Over the last 5 years that I have been living and working abroad, I have immersed myself completely into the cultures that I have visited and have studied the ends and outs of communication, with a special emphasis on non verbal and intercultural communication.

As of now, I have visited almost 100 countries completely alone, speaking at conferences, seminars and life coaching individuals who seek to reach the next level in their personal and professional life.

Throughout all of my travels, I have learned the power of communication and how it can be such a powerful tool to connect us and absolutely transform the world.

At the same time, I have also seen how much communication varies across cultures, especially in terms of non verbal communication and the gestures that we use in our day to day lives.

In this article I wanted to dive deeper into the topic of the gestures that we are used to using each day and talk about some of the very interesting lessons that I have learned in reference to this while traveling across the world.

Focusing and learning more about our gestures and how they are interpreted across cultures could save all of us a world of problems while traveling abroad.

10 Gestures that is important to know when traveling and doing working internationally:

1. Direct Eye Contact

Growing up playing sports I was taught on a daily basis the importance of respect for adults and the importance of never losing eye contact when someone is speaking, especially an adult. Having had this drilled into my head from an early age, its quite difficult to not look at someone directly in the eye, no matter who they are.

However, while traveling in the Middle East I quickly learned a cultural norm, which is not applicable in every situation, but is a good rule to follow if you don’t know exactly what to do, and that is not making direct eye contact for periods of time with someone from the oposite sex.

This all depends on where you are and the type of environment that you are in. Of course, if you are with friends and the environment is relaxed, then there is no problem in most cases. However, if you are a complete stranger, the environment is a bit intense and the people there tend to be more traditional, then its better to focus your attention in connecting, talking and making eye contact with just the women.

Eye contact can come across very flirtatious and can be completely interpreted in the wrong way in many cultures, including America. It can be an issue as well if you are making eye contact with a man who has a wife by his side, even if you have no wrong intentions. Not in all cases, but this could be uncomfortable and insulting to the woman.

I write this one as #1 based on personal experience. Like I said, you could just be just a friendly person and have no flirtatious intentions, but in some cultures more than others, this can be portrayed completely the wrong way.

Also, in reference to looking at others directly in the eyes, in Latin America, and even parts of Asia, I learned that looking at an adult that you respect in the eyes is a sign of disrespect. In many of these countries the children grow up learning to not look their teachers or elders in the eyes in order to show them the respect that they deserve.

However, it’s even aplicable for many adults who are in the workforce. They are taught to have high respect and courtesy for their boss, and one of the ways of showing that is by not making eye contact at any given point with him or her.

I grew up learning that if you do not make eye contact that you are most likely lying or trying to hide something. In law enforcement they pay special attention to the victims eyes, their movement, eye contact and these can lead officials believe that a person is telling the truth or not. With that being the case, I tend to make eye contact with anyone that I am speaking with, whether it be a teacher, boss or high authority.

I just say that a good rule of thumb is to be careful with your eye contact in very unfamiliar settings and you should be just fine.

2. Thumbs Up

Ever since I was a young, I have been using the thumbs up gesture. It’s something that I have used over the years while playing sports and a gesture that others have shown to me when I have done a good job.  Without even saying a word, the thumbs up sign has given me a sense of security in many situations and the confidence to know that I am on the right path and doing a great job.

However, the thumbs up is not always interpreted in other parts of the world like it is in the USA.

For example, in many parts of the Middle East, South America and parts of Africa this gesture is what people would use to say “up yours!”

This can be especially tricky for those who travel across the world by hitchhiking, because your friendly sign showing that you want a ride can come across as very offensive in many countries.

I actually learned this while in the car with someone that picked me up on the side of the road on my wild hitchhiking adventure years ago when I started traveling.

It may seem silly, but there are people out there that literally take these things seriously.

3. Peace Sign

When I visited Asia the first time, especially in countries like South Korea, I quickly learned their love for the peace sign. It’s very common in many Asian countries to show it and for many countries, including the USA and most Western countries, it’s absolutely harmless.

However, when giving that friendly sign, it’s important to not turn the finger around the other way because just a slight tilt of the hand in countries like Ireland, England and Australia would be the same as giving someone the middle finger.

4. OK Sign

“Everything is A- OK!”

This phrase, combined with the OK hand sign, is something that I have used and continue to use when nonverbally communicating with people from around the world.  It’s another one of those signs of approval to show that you are doing a good job with what you are doing, whether it be in school, work, sports etc.

Also, for those scuba divers out there, like myself, it’s the sign that you show while underwater to tell your dive partner that everything is good and you have no sort of stress or problems.

I learned this while being in Brazil during the few weeks that I was there during the Rio Carnival in Rio de Janiero. To my shock, I found out that the OK sign is anything but approving for the Brazilian people. Although you may do it with a good intention, others can interpret it as you if you are calling them an asshole.

When I was studying about non verbal communication and gestures before around my trip through Brazil, I came across an article that was talking about how in 1950 Richard Nixon went to Brazil and gave the OK sign and everyone booed him and showed high disapproval of his gesture.

This is a perfect example of a national world leader, that obviously meant no harm, but in the end he ruined his image with people by just one small gesture of the hand.

This is also very offensive in Turkey. If you make the OK sign with your hand you can maybe assume why it may be somewhat offensive no? If not, think harder and maybe you can figure it out. In Turkey this gesture is used to tell to someone that they are homosexual.

Hint: OK with the hand looks like a butt hole, which is where the insult comes from.

5. Horns

This is the classic sign that many Americans use if they are into heavy metal music. This is the sign that shows “ROCK ON MAN!” I personally have never used this sign, but growing up I have seen many people make that sign as the “cool thing” to do.

To my surprise, I found out that this is quite offensive in many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Portugal and even Spain.

I will admit, I have lived many years in Spain and have never heard of any Spanish person talk about this as being an insult. However, from what others have explained, it really depends on which part of the country that you are in and the context in which you use the gesture.

If you uses the horns with a happy face in one of these countries, it most likely will not be a problem. However, if you show it with a face of disapproval, then this could be interpreted as “your significant other is cheating on you and you are too dumb and ridiculous to realize that is happening.”

I have to admit, when I learned about this gesture it made me laugh because I have never seen or heard of anyone these days with with any problems using this gesture, but that is not to say that it does not come across as offensive in different parts of these countries.

6. Crossed Legs

Most of the time when we are sitting in a chair with our friends or in a meeting we don’t even pay attention to how we are positioned. Most of us change positions multiple times in one single meeting without it even crossing our minds. However, if you start working in other countries, such as the Middle East, India or even Japan, it’s important to pay attention to how you sit.

If you are in a meeting or sitting with your legs crossed in the presence of someone that is older than you in Japan, this can come across as very insulting for that person.  Along the same lines, in the Middle East and Asia, it’s very offensive to cross your legs to where the other people can see the soles of your shoes.

During my visit to the south of India, I learned this lesson the hard way. I had absolutely no idea years ago that showing your sole was offensive to them. During my 10 day mediation/silent retreat, I was sitting with others with my legs crossed and my sole showing.

Obviously I did not do this to offend anyone, but it was something that I was pulled aside and told to never do. Although it was an innocent mistake, I was given unfriendly faces during the rest of my stay by the person that I had offended, even though I never did it again after being called out.

7.  Calling Someone with Index Finger

Every chance that I get to talk with local people about strange cultural norms in their country I do, because culture and different forms of living absolutely fascinates me. Every single day I seem to learn something new, which is why I love the experience of traveling and staying with locals and interacting on a daily basis with complete strangers.

Probably one of the most shocking pieces of information that I have heard regarding gestures is when it comes to calling someone to come to you with your index finger. We all do it from time to time, whether it’s to our kids, friends, animals or whoever and whatever it may be.

However, this is not something that you want to do in the Philippines because this gesture is actually punishable by arrest!

When I spoke with my hosts in the Philippines about this they told me that it was not a joke and if you did that towards an authority that you would be facing jail time. They claim that this is a disrespectful gesture that is only suitable for dogs.

They did mention that if are with your friends in the street and signal one of them with a finger and a police sees you, that he will not arrest you. However, if you turn around and do that to the authority, you would have major problems.

 

 

Do you have any crazy stories about gestures gone wrong while traveling or working abroad?

Do you have any gestures to add to this list?

Connect on Social Media and Share your Stories!

 

 

Don’t forget to also check out: 

HOW I GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN 1 YEAR WHILE TRAVELING FULL TIME TO 20 COUNTRIES

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

 

 

 

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