21 Things I’ve Learned at 21

I absolutely love the theme of this post, and funnily enough I think I skipped it for my 20th birthday last year! I think there is something so rewarding about reflecting on our experiences in life, and sharing them with others. I know that I love to read what other people have learned over the course of their lives!

This year has been quite a whirlwind for me–so many new experiences and a level of comfort in myself and my world that I hadn’t experienced previously. My birthday came quickly this year, and more generally the time felt as though it went by faster!

So without further ado, here are 21 things that I have learned at 21:

1. Change is inevitable–we must learn to adapt

For many years my life stayed relatively consistent. I went to the same school for consecutive years, had the same schedule, went to the same places, etc. Any amount of change would be accompanied with undue levels of stress and discomfort. Sitting in the unknown was the most uncomfortable feeling, and I would run to the nearest form of familiarity.

When I got to college, it was all thrown out the window. I was in a new place with a new schedule, new people, new classes, new routines, changing routines, and new dynamics. Each day something would fill me with a sense of panic and discomfort, and I would fight against the desire to run and hide in the past. After a while, I started to become more comfortable with discomfort. I would allow myself to be in it, and to feel it despite the challenges. During my second semester I traveled on my own for the first time, staying with people I didn’t previously know and experiencing a new life for a week (on an internship). This experience created a new side of me, one that liked to jump in the deep end and learn how to swim in each current (this is a funny analogy because swimming is not my favorite activity…).

This year I became a part of so many new environments and experiences that I have honestly lost count. In fact, in the past few months the unknown has been the only consistent element of my journey. Every day comes with new challenges, but I no longer feel the need to hide in the known.

2. You can choose to be happy

This past year–though one of the most challenging in many ways–has definitely been my happiest. My days were long, but always filled with sources of joy. My friends, my family, my college community, my classes (studying my passions), and my journeys.

I used to think that happiness was the ultimate destination–something that I would achieve sometime in the future. But happiness is the now, and it’s the everyday. The weather, a cup of coffee, laughter. Happiness is something we can choose to have, not aspire to acquire.

3. Vitamins are essential

This might seem like an odd thing to say that I’ve learned–but vitamins have had such a positive impact on my health this year in particular. When I got back from my summer travels, I found that I was feeling quite off and more exhausted than usual. I did some research and started a new vitamin regimen, and wow has it made a difference! It’s also led to some funny moments (the surprise of airline agents when they see that half my carry on luggage is supplements…).

4. The universe works in interesting ways

In my experiences this year, I have found that the universe seemed to bring me everything I needed at the most opportune times. This is not to say that these moments were purely magical and perfect in nature, but each moment gave me something important. From making networking connections with people at the same metro ticket kiosk to meeting other world travelers on a stalled train in Amsterdam (getting help from travelers who spoke Dutch to figure out how to get on another train after a long travel day)–even chaotic moments brought positivity in some form.

5. Shop with a positive purpose

This year I was fortunate enough to discover local organizations that sell consignment and used clothing, and who use the proceeds to continue a cycle of community support. I have mixed up my wardrobe more times this year than consecutive years in the past, and have saved money while supporting organizations for change. I have also traded in my clothing for new outfits, and shopping has changed from a chore to something that I truly enjoy! I encourage you to find local consignment and thrift organizations to support–and to give your wardrobe a new look (and in doing so give someone else the chance to do the same)!

6. Less is more

You may recognize this quote from a documentary that premiered on Netflix called Minimalism. One week in the spring semester I decided to give this documentary a watch and it completely changed how I saw my life. For a long time, material possessions were something that I was really fond of (I used to perseverate on things until I could save up enough money to buy them). The result? Bins and bins and bins and bins of things that I forgot I even owned. After my journey of shopping with a purpose, I started to question the value of owning something that you couldn’t actually use on a regular basis.

I was able to sell and donate so many items for others to use in more constructive ways (I had clearly forgotten about them, and thus they were not adding value to my own life). Soon I was left with items I used every day, and getting rid of four times as much as I acquired (and if I did acquire things they were usually consumable). The morning that I woke up after a weekend-long process of clearing out, I felt physically lighter. I switched on my well-used water heater for coffee in my favorite mug, and put on my favorite Spotify playlist (because clutter comes in digital forms too!).

I used to think that things could make me happy. By giving them up I released a burden I never knew I carried.

7. Home can be more than one place

I wrote about this a few weeks ago (now that I think about it, it was probably a few months ago and time just keeps flying by like that). After traveling for months on end (and to still be traveling), home has become a concept more than a location. I used to think that going home was returning to where I grew up every so often while in college. But home became so much more. Home became my friends, my family, my college, my college town, multiple states, multiple places. Home became something that I could create anywhere–a concept that travels with me. Long discussions with friends and family, making new connections, reflecting on my experiences, creating the familiar in the unfamiliar.

8.Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely

2017 has been the year of solo travel for me, and one of the questions that I often get is about feeling alone. I have rarely experienced feelings of loneliness during my travels, and have actually found it to be an amazing way to connect with others and make new connections internationally! I also enjoy being able to take the time to reflect on my experiences!

9. Spontaneity often kindles life’s best moments

A few years ago, I was not at all a fan of spontaneity. I am a planner at heart, and for a long time I thrived on established schedules. But when I think about the best moments in my life, most of them came from spontaneous decisions and have left a lasting impression! I’ve learned that there is a wonderful balance to be found between planning and going with the flow of life.

10. The breath is a powerful element of holistic health

This year I started a commitment to a meditation practice, and it has changed my life for the better. The breath is something that is always with us, but that we are hardly aware of. Our breath changes as we experience different things, and can often be a root indicator of stress. By controlling our breath we control what we let into our emotional lives.

11. Sometimes having no plan is the best plan

This goes with spontaneity, but is also a reference to travel. I have had the best experiences when I arrive with a loose plan (lodging and some logistics). I arrived in Amsterdam with very little sense of what my week there was going to entail, and I left with some of the best memories and new friends!

12. Don’t fill your schedule just for the sake of being busy

This is something that I learned over the course of my college career so far, and I am so glad that I did! There is definitely a difference between being busy and having a schedule full of things that you love to do. When you fill your time with things that add value and meaning to your life, you find that the days, months, and years fly by!

13. Laughter is the best remedy for a bad day

Laughter is underrated–it can turn your day around and make you feel connected to the world once more. When was the last time that you laughed so hard that you cried and couldn’t breathe? Make it a goal to laugh at least once every day!

14. Creativity inspires creativity

Since becoming a blogger I have noticed creative blocks more than ever, and over the course of the year have discovered that seeing creativity inspires my own. When I feel lost creatively, I look at all of the amazing work that creators of all mediums are doing. It inspires me to try new things, which often sparks new avenues of creativity!

15. Live the adventure

This year I have embraced adventure more than ever, and it has inspired me to find it wherever I go. No matter where I am, I find that adventure is out there! (Love that quote from UP!) Live the Adventure is originally from creator Louis Cole, and I love what he has done (along with so many others!) to live a life of adventure and purpose!

16. Kindness goes a long way

It costs nothing to be kind, and kindness has a way of brightening the world like rims of water on a pond. Kindness is a ripple effect, and something that we can always use more of in this world. Everyone displays kindness in different ways (I love to connect with people every day, and I show my compassion towards animals with my vegan lifestyle). Embrace your own kindness and share it with the world!

17. Self-love can transform your life

I have been on a long journey with self-love, and only recently has it been a positive one. It took me years and years to embrace qualities and aspects that I could only see as flaws, and to accept myself as I truly am. When I made that switch, it’s like the lens I saw my life through completely changed. Everything was brighter, lighter, and happier. It is a hard journey to follow, but it has completely changed my path and how I relate to the world.

18. Everyone has something to teach you

I learned this the most this year, though I have always thought it to be true. Everyone that you meet has something to teach you. Regardless of anything, everyone has experiences to share and wisdom to impart. Listen to the stories and experiences of others, and you will find connection and knowledge is abundant!

19. Always show your appreciation

You can never show enough appreciation, and oftentimes it can make a huge difference in someone’s day! It is so easy to take the support and love that we receive on a daily basis for granted, and expressing your appreciation can help you stay grounded in gratitude and happiness.

20. Dreaming and reflecting rekindle inspiration

Whenever I feel like I have lost my direction in any aspect in life, I like to journal and write down my dreams and goals. It helps me to think about what I really want, and inspires me to start taking the steps to get there!

21. Work hard to change your world

Sometimes it feels as though we are too small to make a difference, but we are strong. We have the power to change the way our world works. Find what you are passionate about, and follow the path of change. I went vegan for this reason, and I have never looked back. Sometimes it may feel impossible, but no voice and no impact is too small.

I hope you liked this post! I loved reflecting on what I have learned, and I would love to hear what you have learned over the years of your life! I am currently quite busy on my semester abroad, but I hope to post as regularly as I can and keep you all updated on the happenings!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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How I Prepared for my Study Abroad

This post is sponsored by ClassTracker, and I received a copy of the planner in exchange for my honest review. There are also affiliate links featured in the post, through which I may receive a commission for purchases made through them. Thank you for supporting what makes The Wise Willow possible! 

Where did the summer go? I feel like just last month I was leaving my room in college and getting ready for my summer travels! Now it is the 23rd of August and normally I would be moving back into a dorm on campus and getting ready for the semester. But this semester is different, and it’s hard to believe that it came so quickly. I am packing my bags once again and getting ready to go to Serbia for the semester! This can be quite the process, so I wanted to share how I’m going about it for anyone who might be going through the same thing!

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

A lot of planning goes into a regular college semester, and even more goes into a semester abroad. More extraneous logistics and details have to be figured out ahead of time, but it’s all more than worth it. However, I’m not one of those people who can remember everything that they have to do without help. Which is why I love planners so much! I was looking for a new planner to use for this school year, and the ClassTracker planner is the perfect fit.

I was looking for a minimalist planner that would allow me to write down everything I need to do in a way that would be easy to decipher when I take quick glances at my to-do list (has anyone else taken a look at their to-do list and felt completely lost?). I have made many lists that make it hard to remember what to prioritize and when, but the ClassTracker planner has many sections in the weekly layout for all of these details!

Each day I will fill in the top “remember to” panel with important logistics that are usually unrelated to my studies (for example, “remember to send _____ email or remember to go to the store to get more almond milk”). Then there is a space for “quizzes/exams/papers/projects” which I haven’t been filling out yet for the most part as I learn more about my classes upon my arrival.

The “assignments” space is the one I use the most at the moment to keep track of the pre-semester reading assignments and my progress. I write down the specific sections I am going to read each day to make sure that I stay on track. The bottom “activities” section is quite helpful for remembering what other commitments I have each day as I prepare to leave. The monthly pages let me plan big events (like my study abroad departure date!) and keep the big picture in mind.

Preparing to go abroad can be an overwhelming task, but planning really does help to alleviate a lot of the stress that comes along with it! From remembering what to pack to keeping up with reading, writing it down gives me peace of mind that I will have everything I need for my journey. I highly recommend this planner for all of your academic and activity needs! There are a bunch of colors to choose from (I chose the coral color and it’s beautiful!) and it’s perfect for all kinds of students!

Preparing, Preparing, and More Preparing

Now that I have written everything down, it’s time for the actual prep! I received an email to my campus inbox (make sure you’re checking that regularly even though it’s still summer!) about all of the last minute details I would need to know for my program. I joined the online group and printed out the materials that I would need to read over (orientation guides and logistics). They also supplied a list of required and recommended reading materials. A study abroad semester makes this aspect a bit more difficult, as I wasn’t sure whether to look for electronic copies of all of the books that I needed to save space and weight in my luggage. However, I know myself as a student and know that used hardcopies work the best for me.

With that, I went to Textbooks.com to look at the prices of their books and they had all but one of the books I needed. I spent $20 on six books and was able to get the other one quickly from Amazon! They arrived faster than I thought they would, which gave me time to start the readings for the semester and to really reflect on the material. I also bought sticky notes, BIC Atlantis gel pens in black (my favorite pens ever–I’m someone who never uses pencil so I go through pens so fast! But these last for a long time and are super comfortable!), and a five-subject notebook so that I would only have to worry about carrying one notebook around with me. I also picked up two composition notebooks for homeworks that don’t need to be submitted, as I can use the paper in the notebook to turn in assignments. The last part of preparation, and possibly the hardest part, is packing.

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

Since I have just arrived back home from all of my travels I am a bit more prepared than I normally would be to start packing. However, this journey is four months long instead of two months and requires more logistical thinking.

To start, I determined how many bags I would be bringing with me. This is a really important step, because it determines the amount of space that you have to work with. When I traveled this summer, I took three total bags: a small waterproof backpack, another slightly larger backpack from SOLO NY, and a SOLO NY duffel bag/backpack combo. This was perfect for two full months of travel–but since I will be bringing a few more things and school materials I knew I would need more space.

So I have decided to bring the following: my small waterproof backpack (this is the perfect bag for valuables!), a large backpacking bag from Eagle Creek (I got this from a thrift store for $30!), and a small rolling luggage piece for my books and other materials. Now that I know how much space I have to work with, I can start the more complicated part!

For clothes, I checked the forecast for Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as the recommended packing list sent by my program. I allocated my entire backpack and a small portion of my rolling bag for clothing–given that I need four months worth and clothing for different temperatures. I also looked on Pinterest and through my copy of Organizing for Your Lifestyle (if you haven’t seen my minimalist travel tips check out the post here!) for packing inspiration and space-efficient ideas.

I am also bringing all of my supplements (I recently changed up the ones I am using due to what I discovered about my wellness and travel–post coming soon!) and will put these in the rolling bag. I highly recommend bringing all of your supplements and normal wellness remedies with you to make sure that you stay balanced among the changes that come with travel!

Finally, I made sure that all of my important documentation was copied and kept in multiple places to be on the safe side. I also made sure I completed all of my preparations for the semester, and had all of the materials that my program required (an unlocked smartphone that is SIM compatible, for example).

Are you studying abroad or preparing for a new semester? What are your preparation tips? Let me know in the comments!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Travel Vlogs: Save the Frogs Costa Rica EcoTour 2017

In July I went on the Save the Frogs Costa Rica EcoTour after my time in Chile, and it was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had! This entire summer has been filled with wonderful experiences, and I wanted to be able to share moments from them with you.

I took footage on a number of our excursions, and will be editing them and uploading vlogs every Saturday about my travels and other aspects of my life. I have had so much fun exploring the creative opportunities of video through my YouTube channel, and it has added so much to my blogging journey!

Below is the first vlog that I edited, with footage from our first full day in Tortuguero. It was one of those days that I know I will remember for the rest of my life. Not included in the vlog footage is watching a mother sea turtle lay her eggs and return to the tides under red light (the only light that does not significantly harm the turtles). This was one of the moments in which I wanted to be completely present with the wonders of the world, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be fully emerged in something that few people get to experience. If you are interested in learning more about the dangers that sea turtles are facing in our world today, you can visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy website. It is a wonderful organization protecting animals that have graced the earth with their beautiful presence.

The second vlog is from our boat tour through the jungle, looking at the wide variety of species that live in close proximity to one another and that inhabit the small section of jungle that we went through (there were many more species than I thought possible!). This was another experience in which I felt as though it couldn’t be real–exploring the jungle via boat and being surrounded by natural beauty in all forms.

I hope you enjoy these vlogs as much as I enjoyed filming them! I am so excited to share these moments with you, and hope that you can experience some of the same magic. If you are interested in going on an EcoTour with Save the Frogs (which I highly recommend!), you can learn more about the trip options here!

If you want to learn more about what I took with me and how I stayed healthy while traveling this summer, you can read all of my posts here! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Home.

Home. A place of refuge and warmth. Familiar and welcoming. Withstanding the test of time.

 

Home. A place of community, laughter, and memories that last a lifetime.

 

 

 

Home. A place of peace and calm among unfamiliar surroundings.

 

Home. A place that resonates with your soul, and brings back memories of a past long gone.

Home. A place with furry tails and frosted faces that remind you of the unconditional love you have been given for eight years.

 

Home. A place of true connection, despite its physical location.

 

Home. A place of adventure with others who share life visions.

Home. A place you will always have in your heart, no matter where you are.

Home.

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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New Adventures and Travel Skincare Routine

Time has a way of flying by lately, and it is already time for me to say goodbye to this beautiful country. In many ways I feel as though I just got here, and in others I feel as though I have been here for much longer. Lately the years have felt like that, both flying by and standing still. Each day is full of moments and memories, and before I know it a new day, week, month, and year has begun.

I started this adventure on the first day of June, and now it is almost the middle of July. I have spent time in different communities, being welcomed and feeling as though I was truly part of every place that I went. I learned new words, and facts about places, and I learned about myself.

As I set off on new adventures, I know that the memories that I have made here will last a lifetime. As my first solo trip, there was a lot that I had to learn. But I am excited to continue the adventure of life, and I know that I will be returning here in the future.

So where am I off to? Costa Rica! I am super excited to have the opportunity to join the EcoTour being held by Save the Frogs! I hope to share with you what I learn about the importance of amphibian and environmental conservation, and to show you the beautiful landscapes that make up Costa Rica!

But with going on new adventures comes travel, and with travel comes long days, potential stress, and changes in climate. My skin is quite sensitive to these changes, so the night before a long travel day (in my case, 26 hours) I like to give it a little more attention than usual. As I was going through this routine, I thought it would be something you might be interested in if you will be traveling soon! (This is not sponsored in any way).

Those of you who know me quite well will know that a few of the things that I like to invest in are good food and skincare products. I like to take care of my body, both inside and out. Eating a nourishing plant-based diet helps my skin to shine, but sometimes it needs a bit more help.

I start by washing my face with the Stone Crop Gel Wash by Éminence Organic Skincare, and gently pat dry. I then take a few taps of the Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant and add a spritz (I love that word!) of water. This turns the powder into a liquid exfoliant, which is perfect for getting rid of any skin woes! I rinse and pat dry once again, with my skin feeling super clean!

I then take two drops of the Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster-Serum (seriously love this stuff, plus it has Willow in it 🙂 ) and smooth it over my face. I wait about one minute to let it absorb into the skin, before continuing on to the next step.

I then take a pea-sized drop of the Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer (a little goes a long way!) and gently dab it into my face and smooth out any excess. For my eyes, I use the Tarte Maracuja-C Eye Treatment and smooth it gently over my eyelid and under my eye to moisturize and protect.

The final step involves smoothing a small amount of the Clear Skin Probiotic Masque over any problem areas, like acne spots or redness. This has a cooling feeling to it, and is perfect for getting rid of skin problems before they worsen!

And that’s it! In the morning I will use just the regular gel wash and moisturizer as well as a mineral tinted sunscreen (another one of my must-haves) and be good to go! What is your travel skincare routine? Let me know in the comments!

If you want to see where I have been for the past few days, check out the video I filmed about Iquique below! And make sure to follow my Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date on my journey! 🙂

© 2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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6 Minimalist (and green!) Travel Tech Essentials

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

I have been traveling abroad for one month and two days now, and I have learned a lot about what I use on a daily basis. As a minimalist traveler, I had to choose carefully what I packed with me on this trip. After one full month I have realized that I keep reaching for the same six items over and over–so I wanted to share them with you!

1. RFID Blocking Passport Holder

I knew that I was going to be traveling through airports and streets, and was aware of having my passport physically taken or lost. However, I was not aware of digital data that can be taken from passports as you travel. I decided to get the Travelambo RFID Blocking Passport Holder, and store my passport with all of my important IDs in it. Not only does this make it easier for me to keep track of my passport (I got it in purple, my favorite color and one that is easy to see in my bag), but it gives me peace of mind during my extended travel. It also makes it easier to go through security!

2. PowerAdd Portable Charger

I have definitely been in one of those travel situations where my phone is running low on battery and there are no charging stations available. This adds extra stress, especially if you are traveling somewhere you have never been before. I bought the PowerAdd Slim Portable Charger to use for my phone, and I can tell you that I have reached for it quite a few times after long travel days. Each full charge will give me an extra 8 hours of full phone use, which has saved me from many a stressful situation. On my second weekend we had a massive storm that cut the power where I was staying for a full day. I had charged up my portable battery in preparation, and am so glad that I did! I was able to let everyone know that I was safe, and to keep updated on conditions and use my phone flashlight.

3. Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt

Many of you know that I own what I call my “keychain of life” aka a lanyard that has the most anyone has probably tried to put on a lanyard… and I knew that this would not be the ideal wallet to use while abroad. It had many items I did not need (cards for local stores, etc.), and was bulky to carry around. I knew that I would be carrying three bags on my own, and have only one free hand. I decided to use this Eagle Creek Money Belt to store my cash and credit/debit cards under my clothes. This made it discreet, but also allowed me to easily access money without being worried about holding on to lots of items. It is also very comfortable for walking long distances or wearing for long periods of time (I have definitely tested this out), and sometimes I forget that I’m wearing it!

4. Reusable Water Bottle

I decided to leave my Nalgene water bottle at home for my travels, because one liter is simply too big to carry around consistently and with ease. However, sustainability and health are two of my primary concerns when it comes to minimalist travel so a reusable water bottle was a must. I opted for one that was easy to distinguish, and that holds half a liter of water. It is easy to clean, and has saved me lots of money at airports when I can pass on buying $6 disposable plastic water bottles. As someone who recognizes the importance of hydration as well, it has ensured that I stay healthy and minimize dehydration risks from long travel days and changing climates.

5. Mable Bamboo Toothbrush

Sustainability is something that I am very passionate about, and bamboo products are one of the best ways to manage your environmental impact while traveling. MABLE bamboo toothbrushes are self-standing and gentle on the gums, which makes them perfect for my sensitive teeth. They also have removable bristles so that you can reuse the handle for sustainable projects! (I think I am going to use mine as a label for an herb garden). For $10 they are more than worth the investment! You can read more about their initiative and goals here!

6. Dollar Shave Club Razor

Last–but not least–is a Dollar Shave Club razor. I joined back in May when I realized that I was paying way too much for a razor. As someone with dark hair, I shave quite often. I was intrigued by the idea of a razor subscription service, and decided to give it a go! Now I am someone who uses blades for longer than they probably should, but the Dollar Shave Club lets you change how often you receive replacements. As someone who cares about the environment but who knew that a safety razor would be hard to take traveling, this made perfect sense. The handle is durable and well-made, with detachable razor blade cartridges. It cost a grand total of $5 for me to get a razor and five blades, and I still have four of them left. I used to pay $10 for a good disposable razor that would last me a few months, but would have to throw the entire thing away and repurchase). Not only did I spend a lot of money, but I created a lot of trash. Now I have reduced my costs and my environmental impact! If you are interested in joining, click here!

These are the six items that I find myself using almost every day, and ones that I know I will continue to use as I travel through Costa Rica and Serbia for the rest of the year. What are your minimalist travel tech essentials?

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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6 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy Abroad

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

When it comes to traveling abroad, there are many things to consider. Location, clothing, emergency planning, work, and sightseeing. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something that most people forget to consider prior to going abroad.

As you all know, I observe a vegan lifestyle. I also love to travel. My declaration of this combo is often met by many with “good luck” and “you will probably end up reverting back to a ‘regular’ diet,” but I am here to tell you that maintaining your current lifestyle abroad is both possible and important.

Seeing as I am currently abroad, I wanted to give you a list of things to consider in order to stay healthy while abroad.

Know your Limits

Regardless of what lifestyle you observe, nobody knows your health better than you do. You know how much you can change without upsetting your body’s natural rhythm, and that should be your first consideration.

For me, I know that I must avoid consuming meat and dairy products to avoid major imbalances. But, I can generally change the time of day that I eat without experiencing problems (I attribute that to my very varied college schedule! 😛 ).

Research and Prepare

Many people forget to think about what resources their destination will have prior to arriving. As a vegan, this was something that I wanted to research ahead of time. Arriving hungry and without viable options is definitely something that you want to avoid! I learned that Chile’s agriculture laws prevent anyone from bringing in food items to the country, and am so glad I knew this ahead of time.

I was able to eat at the airport before my long flight, and make sure I wasn’t brining any items that could have caused me problems upon my arrival with customs.

I had also informed as many people as possible about my dietary restrictions and health preferences ahead of time. Something that I considered after I arrived (and was adjusting to the food) is remembering to eat foods as similar to my diet back in college as possible. I didn’t do this for the first week or so (lots and lots of rice and bread, which I have to admit I love). The result was that I felt very drowsy and unbalanced all week long, and I am still trying to regain the balance that I had during the semester. It takes a lot of self control to reach for more fruit after a long day (I really want to treat myself to bread sometimes!) but if I am feeling a bit unbalanced already I know that eating these other foods will be better in the long run.

Be prepared to politely decline offered food

As a vegan (and someone that has a sensitivity to dairy), declining offered food is something I do many times per day. This can be quite difficult at times, as you don’t want to seem ungracious. However, it’s important to maintain your diet in all situations (especially if you have it for sensitivity reasons).

In as many circumstances as possible, I quickly explain the reason for my declaration and assure them not to worry about it at all (as I have often eaten beforehand). I love to offer to buy ingredients and cook meals, as cooking is one of my hobbies and it makes me feel as though I am contributing instead of creating special circumstances for meals. 🙂

Think about how to realistically commit to an exercise regimen

This is one of the most difficult aspects, especially if you are traveling to multiple places or never in one consistent location. For me, I am staying for at least one month in most places and have the opportunity to create a schedule for exercise. However, I have learned that walking is one of the best modes of exercise that you can engage in everywhere. I walk as many places as possible, loving the combination of the fresh air and the exercise. 🙂 If you have access to internet, Blogilates and Yoga with Adriene are amazing resources for staying fit in a small space! Definitely check them out!

As I mentioned in my most recent travel post, it’s important to also be open to spontaneous opportunities! For example, I went to a zumba lesson on my first full day here and had a blast! I met so many new people and it was an amazing workout!

Be prepared with snacks throughout the day

Regardless of your dietary preferences, being prepared with snacks throughout the day is super important for keeping balance and for fighting off low blood sugar moments! As a vegan, this can be a challenge. However, GoMacro bars are both delicious and portable! They have a lot of flavors (cashew caramel is one of my favorites, and if you know me you know I’m a bit obsessed with cashews…). These bars are available on many different sites, including Amazon and ThriveMarket! (If you want to get a subscription to Thrive, it’s very easy and much like an online version of Costco with wellness items!).

Fresh fruits and veggies are also great options, and the possibilities are endless! Having snacks available is a great way to be able to eat while at gatherings or during work breaks.

Bring remedies and other natural products

In the past two weeks that I have been abroad, I have learned that it is a good idea to have remedies and medicines with you in order to recover as quickly as possible from inevitable ‘under the weather’ days. I have had a few recently, but have been able to get back on track with a few remedies and by eating more fresh fruits and veggies.

I hope that you enjoyed this post about staying healthy and fit while abroad! It is something that not many people think about ahead of time, but it’s so important for wellbeing and enjoying your experience!

What have you learned about staying healthy and fit while abroad or while traveling? I would love to know what you recommend!

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Mi Primer Día en Chile (2 Junio 2017)

Quiero escribir sobre mis experiencias durante este verano cuando ocurrieron porque viajes a cualquier lugar tiene ajustes y momentos que va a recordar por su vida.

Mi vuelo a Santiago de Chile empezó a las nueve de la noche ayer. Cuando encontré a mi asiento dentro del avión y puse mi maleta en su propio lugar, sonreí a la mujer que sienta al otro lado (¡no había alguien en el asiento del centro!). Ella sonrió también, y dice “habla español?” a que respondí “¡Si”. “Eres Chilano?” ella preguntó, y la conversación empezaba con mi respuesta de donde vengo. Hablo español por la duración del vuelo, y era un viaje cómodo.

Dormí por cuatro de las nueve horas, y cuando levanta esta mañana la gente tiene sus ventanas abiertas para ver a las montañas y el océano. Hablaba con esta mujer por el resto del vuelo, y ella era la persona más simpática que siento con en un avión en todo mi vida. Ella dice “¡Mira! A este lado (la izquierda) hay montañas grandes, y a este lado (la derecha) hay el océano. Chile es tan largo (ella muestra con sus manos) pero muy ancho!” . Lo que dijo era verdad, la naturaleza del país es diferente a algo que veo en el pasado. Cuando terminó el vuelo, ella dice “¡Quiero darte un beso! ¡Espero que viajes bien y que disfruta a esta país magnífica!”.

Tomé un bus por tres horas hasta el sur del país, y era una experiencia interesante para alguien que está viajando por primera vez en un lugar. Pero, hablo con la gente durante el viaje y miraba al película “The Martian” en español que fue presentando en el bus. Tomaba más café porque definitivamente estaba cansada, y finalmente conocer a la familia que estoy quedando con durante mi tiempo aquí.

Con esto, estaba en Chile. Es mi primer tiempo viajar sola por el mundo, y mentira si digo que no tiene miedo. Para viajar es algo que cambia a personas. Hay experiencias diferentes y muchas personas que conocerá durante sus viajes. Es mi primer día, y si en algunos aspectos hay mucho cambio. Casa, idioma, personas, países, tiempos de comer, horarios, y todo eso. Pero, pienso que viajar es uno de las cosas que cambian a la manera en que ve al mundo. He estudiado español hasta que tenía once años, y siento que fue tiempo para viajar y conectar con las culturas y personas que hablan sobre durante mis estudios.

Empieza mi tiempo ayudar en la escuela lunes, entonces tengo el fin de semana para disfrutar y ajustar.

Quiero terminar todos mis reflexiones con una lista de todo que estoy agradecida por durante mi tiempo aquí, porque si hay obstáculos y cosas difíciles pero lo que importa es las cosas que traigan comunidad y memorias.

Lo que estoy agradecida por hasta este punto en mis viajes: 

  • La mujer simpática en el vuelo, nunca voy a olvidar a ella
  • Las personas que me ayudan cuando estaba tomando los dos buses
  • Que tengo todo mi equipaje (no fue perdido durante el viaje)
  • Que puedo encontrar comida vegana sin problema aquí para mantener esta parte de mi vida
  • El apoyo de mis conexiones aquí en Chile, y de la familia que estoy quedando con
  • La oportunidad para ver al mundo, y la apoyo que tengo por mi misma para lo que siento

¡A próximo! 🙂

____________________________________________________

I want to write about my experiences as they occur, because trips like these have adjustments and moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.

My flight to Santiago, Chile boarded at 9pm last night. When I boarded the plane and put my luggage in the overhead bin above my seat, I sat and smiled at the woman sitting on the other end (there wasn’t anyone in the middle, which gave us both extra room!). She smiled back and asked if I spoke Spanish, I responded with yes and she proceeded to ask if I was Chilean. Our conversation flowed from there, and after dinner I was able to sleep for four of the nine hours.

When I woke up in the morning, everyone had their windows open and was looking at the landscape. She looked over at me and said “Look! Out this side (the left) there are mountains, and out that side (right) there’s the ocean! While Chile is very long, it’s very skinny!”. What she said was true, it is by far one of the most unique landscapes that I have ever seen! When the flight landed, she turned to me and said “Let me give you a kiss! I hope you have great travels and that you enjoy your stay in this magnificent country!”

After I left the airport, I took two buses. The last bus ride was three hours long, and took me to Talca where I met my wonderful host family. During the bus ride, I talked with many people (and tried to keep up with their fast-paced Spanish!) and watched the movie “The Martian” that was playing on all of the screens.

With that, I was in Chile. It is my first time traveling the world alone, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all. But traveling is something that changes people. It is my first day, and yes there are a lot of things that have changed. House, language, people, meal times, schedules, and more. But I think that traveling is something that changes the way that you see the world around you. I have been studying the Spanish language since I was eleven years old, and I felt like it was time to immerse myself in the places that I have learned so much about.

I start helping at the local school on Monday, so I have the weekend to relax and adjust. I want to end all of my posts with a list of all that I am grateful for, because although there might be obstacles and challenges, what matters most is remembering what brings us joy and happiness.

What I am grateful for at this point in my travels: 

  • The kind woman who sat near me on the plane and wanted to talk about my travels and wish me well, I will never forget her
  • The people who helped me navigate the airport and bus systems, and who wished me well in my travels
  • That all of my luggage arrived with me (none of it was lost in the journey)
  • That I can continue with my vegan diet here easily
  • The support of my connections here in Chile, and the host family that I am staying with
  • The opportunity to travel the world, and the support that I give to myself when I am feeling uncertain or overwhelmed

Until next time! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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The Art of Abandoning Your Comfort Zone

I will soon be leaving for what is the biggest adventure of my life to date, and I have been meaning to do a public reflection on what it means to me. As I have talked about before on this blog, leaving my comfort zone is something that 17 year old Alyssa would have done reluctantly. I enjoyed having a routine and a predictable life, but 20 year old me feels like it’s time to move on.

Back in spring of 2016 I took a huge leap and did a solo trip sponsored by my college to shadow an alum in Virginia. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, landing and staying with complete strangers on a whim and having an unpredictable life pattern for an entire week. It was invigorating, exhilarating, and left me feeling as though I could never go back to living a life of routine.

In the summer of 2017 I lived on my own for the first time, managing a 45 hour per week job and all of the maintenance that comes with being an ‘adult’. I grew leaps and bounds that summer, managing my finances, groceries, and building connections. I also got to spend the entire summer with my best friend which was absolutely amazing! 🙂

This past spring I did another solo travel trip, this time to Kansas, and had a great experience yet again. This gave me the confidence to apply for a study abroad term and to further pursue the adventures that I am about to have.

In high school my desire to travel the world grew as I followed travel bloggers and vloggers on their adventures. I never knew that one day that would be me.

As I set off on new adventures I can’t help but feel full of joy and excitement. I am following my dreams and my passions, and living in the present moment as I have learned to do over the past year.

I feel enriched and full of live, like I am truly living.

I can’t wait to bring you along with me as I embark on these adventures! I will be posting here on my blog, as well as on Twitter and Instagram. I will also be making more videos (hopefully), so feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel! 🙂

I would love to hear about how your recent journeys have brought you into alignment with your true self. <3

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Clothes: Minimal Packing to go Abroad

Since I will be leaving on my travels soon, I decided to film a video today of how I have been preparing! I will be abroad for two months this summer, and will be taking one bag of clothes, one bag of wellness items, and one carry-on!

In this first video, I explain all of the clothes that I am bringing with me (most of them are thrift store purchases!) and how I fit them all into one bag!

I have a few more days until my journey begins, and I wanted to update you on the process and how I have been preparing for the past week or so. I hope that you enjoy this post and video, and if you know of anyone preparing to travel soon feel free to send it their way! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Alyssa DeBella

21 | Lifestyle blogger | Minimalist | Dreamer ✨| Language Lover 💕| Animal Obsessed ❤️🐶| Double Major 📚| Vegan 🌱 |Traveler ✈️ (currently in: Europe)
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I had the honor of photographing Carl the Cow’s 1st Birthday Party at @IAfarmsanctuary on… https://t.co/vJ9vJf8eX8

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