The Best Way to Fly Domestically? JetBlue Mint.

Low and behold the coveted throne seat.

Not only was I able to cross off tons of destinations on my bucket list this summer, but I also flew on business class for the first time in my life. It’s safe to say that it was a transformative experience. I flew on JetBlue Mint, arguably known as the “best business class in America,” by tons of airline critics and fanatics across the country. While I’ve never flown on anything but economy, and Delta’s Comfort+ if I was ever lucky to be upgraded, I instantly became certain that JetBlue Mint is the sweetest of deals out there. I was so hooked that I ended up flying Mint six times this summer! In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the Mint experience from start to finish.

JetBlue Mint route map. The Caribbean/Latin America routes are seasonal.

Before we jump right in, I wanted to give some context to the story behind Mint. Prior to 2014, JetBlue only offered its standard economy offerings, which speaks true to its humble roots of being a low-cost, high-amenities carrier. Although the airline had only been around for 15 years at this point, JetBlue shook up the industry by offering free, unlimited snacks and drinks, wifi, DIRECTV, and great legroom. By setting the bar so high, other carriers started to follow by offering some of the same amenities that JetBlue has always had. Then, CEO Dave Barger announced that he wanted to shake up the industry even more, by offering a premium flight experience on JetBlue’s longer flights, but at a fraction of the cost. For example, other major legacy carriers were charging thousands of dollars for its business class fares, but JetBlue was able to offer Mint for just $599 each way. Since then, Mint has been an extremely popular way to fly, especially from coast-to-coast.

Again, Mint is only offered on select routes, on its newer A321 aircraft. As an intern, it was difficult at first to land a coveted Mint seat. But after weeks of trying, I finally scored my first Mint seat, from New York (JFK) to San Diego (SAN). I was traveling with a couple of other intern friends, who all also landed Mint!

At the airport

Captured from my very first time flying Mint.

On the ground, having a Mint boarding pass allows you to have access to a couple of great perks. There is a separate, dedicated Mint counter, with a crewmember there to assist you with any of your needs. Additionally, this ticket automatically allows you to move through JetBlue’s “Even More Speed” line. This is a great way to start your trip, as you’ll be able to move quickly through security in busy airports such as JFK. And once the gate attendant calls for boarding, Mint and Mosaic customers always board first. There are only 16 Mint seats, so it’s pretty cool to board the plane when no one else is on it.

On the plane

The Mint cabin is at the front of the plane, where a friendly crewmember greets you and shows you to your seat. There are five rows of Mint seats total; in a 2-1-2-1-2 configuration. This means that if you’re in rows 2 or 4, you’ll have your own “throne” seat where there’s even your own door for more privacy. Out of all six times I flew on Mint, I only got the throne seat once. It doesn’t cost any more to select these seats, so if you have the chance to fly Mint, I would highly recommend picking the throne.

On each seat, there’s a plush comforter, pillow, and a welcome kit full of thoughtful goodies. My favorites include the JetBlue socks and the lip balm. The socks are so soft, and I wear them around my house all the time. The lip balm is also high-quality and is something that I carry around with me in my backpack.

As soon as you’re seated, the crewmember greets you and asks whether or not this is your first Mint experience. If this is your first time, he or she will demonstrate how to use the remote controls for the lie-flat seat, which extends to 6’8″. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of Mint, as I loved having the freedom to lay completely flat and sleep comfortably throughout the whole ride. Afterwards, the crewmember offers you a refreshing Mint cocktail, which you can get with or without vodka. All of these personal touches make for a great first impression onboard.

Another fantastic perk of JetBlue Mint is the in-flight entertainment. The screen is touch-screen and significantly larger than the screen in coach. It was the perfect size to catch up on JetBlue’s great offerings of movies and TV shows, as well as switching to the route map every so often to see how much longer in the flight was left. But let’s be honest—I never wanted the Mint experience to end.

Once in the air, the crewmember presents you with a menu, which has different offerings depending on what type of meal service is offered at that time. There are three menus: breakfast, lunch/dinner, and shut-eye (for overnight flights). I’ve had all three options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. The lunch/dinner option was definitely more filling, in my opinion. You also have the option to choose from lots of beverages. In fact, I was able to fly my Mom on Mint four times this summer, and she raved about all of the coffee offerings, but especially the cappuccino and espresso. I, too, enjoyed their coffee, but also delved into the wide assortment of wines they had. They were all fantastic.

Each meal, however, starts with an appetizer, which could range from a croissant to a bowl of fruit. You are allowed to pick three of the entrees off the menu. Each entree is small, but just the right-size to have a few different options. And in reality, I’m sure you could pick a couple more than just three if you were really hungry. The end of the meal comes with a dessert, which ranges from a Milk Bar cookie or ice cream from a local creamery in the area you’re flying out of.

I cannot skim over how amazing the food was. I mean, really. If plane food could be this awesome, always, I would never complain again about the dry, tasteless offerings other airlines usually have. The Mint menus change every month and are curated by local chefs, so you’re really getting the real deal. The rest of the summer, some of my intern friends and I always joked around about how we could use our standby benefits to fly Mint and back somewhere, just to have a free place to sleep and eat. In reality, one of my friends and I did exactly that at the end of the summer. We flew to Seattle after work and hopped on the flight right back to New York, just because we could.

…and here’s me and my friend Reed flying Seattle and back. Just to get Mint.

Throughout the flight, the crewmembers are so friendly and helpful. I made some great personal connections with a few of them this summer. They are truly there to provide you the most elevated and luxurious service. And with so much going on, the flight feels much shorter than you want it to. You’ll wake up from your nap under your snuggly comforter never wanting to leave, thinking that maybe Mint IS the destination, after all.

Of course, I would never have been able to afford all of these flights without working for the airline and getting to experience Mint for free. However, if you’re in the mood to treat yourself and you have the option to fly Mint on your next vacation, there really is no better way to fly domestically.

All-Inclusive Cancun

JET Summer Interns forever!

The summer was coming to a close, and my intern friends and I wanted to pick one last destination to fly to. I spent my weekends spent all over the place—from Puerto Rico to San Diego, from New Mexico to St. Maarten. But as a final group trip, we really wanted to visit another tropical destination.

We chose Cancun as it was an easy, four-hour flight, and we wanted the all-inclusive experience, which I had never done before. It sounded more than ideal to pay an upfront cost and to have all meals, lodging, and amenities included. If you’re on a time crunch and on a budget, you can totally manage to enjoy the craze of Cancun in its entirety! Here is a breakdown of everything we did during our epic final adventure.


Itinerary at a glance

Saturday, August 10th

  • JFK – CUN 7:20AM-11:38AM
  • Day 1 Resort
  • Dinner at Porfirio’s

Sunday, August 11th

  • Day 2 Resort
  • CUN – JFK 1:00PM – 4:40PM

Picking an all-inclusive resort can be overwhelming, especially in a place such as Cancun that is known for its endless amenities. In fact, Cancun has (& what is formally known as) “The Hotel Zone,” which is the strip of land that spans for miles of hotels and resorts on end. Realistically, we were only going to be spending one night in a resort, so we wanted to make sure that this resort was safe and had all of the amenities we needed at a fair price. We settled on the Occidental Costa Cancun, a 4-star hotel located 30 minutes fom the airport. In the end, the rates were super fair. There were four of us on this trip, so we split a room with two double beds. Each of us paid $130, which felt extremely justified as it included unlimited meals and drinks, access to the beach and pools, entertainment, and more.

The hotel itself was very clean and had a fun, tropical vibe to it. There was a nice mix of families, couples, and young travelers, such as my group. While we opted for the cheapest room, there were definitely options to upgrade for a more luxury experience. We arrived at the Occidental a couple hours earlier than check-in, but the staff were very accommodating and allowed us to store our bags upfront until our room was ready. We visited the first bar, which was located next to the check-in counter, and celebrated with a delicious piña colada. As a general note, I would make sure to bring some sort of cash (can be USD) with you, as the employees are very friendly and deserve tips for providing excellent service!

Next, we changed into our bathing suits and spent the next couple of hours at the beach. There was a beachside bar, and plenty of chairs and towels available. The beach itself was relaxing and picturesque, with stretches of white sand and turquoise water. However, we did notice that there were patches of brown seaweed in the water. Apparently, this happens in Cancun during “sargassum season,” which runs from April to August. Depending on the type of day, the seaweed wasn’t too bothersome, as resort employees did attempt to clean it up periodically. This is just a heads up if you will be traveling to Cancun during these months! Again, I wasn’t too affected by it, but I did prefer being in the water in Puerto Rico and St. Maarten for this reason.

While our room was eventually ready, we wanted to spend as much time in the sun as possible. Once the sun started to set, we headed back to the room where we quickly showered and decided to make our next move. The dinner tonight at the resort was barbecue-style. However, one of my friends is vegetarian, and she asked if we would be willing to leave the resort and have dinner somewhere else instead. We were all down to explore more of Cancun than just the resort, so we took a very cheap Uber to the restaurant called Porfirio’s.

I assumed we were going to a no-frills Mexican restaurant with cheap eats, so my hair was still soaking wet from my shower, and I was wearing my college t-shirt and athletic shorts. When we got dropped off at the restaurant, I immediately knew that I made a mistake. The restaurant was gorgeous, with beautiful dimmed light fixtures and glass tables. We had a table outside looking over the water, which was even more stunning than the interior. There were about ten different waiters waiting to serve us. I wished that I had known how fancy the restaurant was going to be, or I wouldn’t have shown up in what I was wearing!

After living in New York City all summer, I was nervous at how expensive dinner was going to be. The menu at Porfirio’s was extremely vast and was entirely in pesos. But after doing some calculations, the dishes were surprisingly inexpensive. I ordered a margarita and a squid dish, which were delicious AND under $20 total. For how classy and elegant the restaurant was, I was more than ecstatic that we were able to dine on a budget. It was a phenomenal experience as we watched the sun set, and we had about eight waiters tend to us the entire night.

During our car ride back to the resort, we passed by a ton of nightlife and shopping areas. Although we didn’t have time to experience anything else while we were in Cancun, I could tell that these were popular areas for tourists.

Day 2 was more like a half-day, as our flight was at 1PM. We wanted to take advantage of all the resort had to offer, so we spent an early morning at the beach, eating at the restaurant at the resort and having a bite to eat later at the snack bar. The food at the resort was decent, and there were lots of great options to choose from. And soon enough, it was time to pack up all our belongings and head back to the airport.

Although our vacation was extremely short-lived, I had a great time in Cancun. I would definitely visit again, as the all-inclusive resorts made for quite an affordable tropical vacation. Next time, I would love to spend more days at the actual resort, but we were definitely able to get a quick taste of the Cancun life.

Day Trip to Boston

On a whim I decided to chop off six inches of my hair. This is usually a sign that I am ready for a change of pace. More than halfway of the semester was over, and I was already exhausted by the mundanities of my day-to-day routine.

My fool-proof solution? Get away from home, wherever that may be, and spend a day away from all of your responsibilities and social life. Be okay with being by yourself. Spend time in a place where no one may know you. Remember how it feels to be alone. It’s like that old saying—if you only had one day to live, what would you do? Well, it doesn’t have to be as morbid as that, necessarily. But in my 21 years of living on Earth, I’ve quickly learned that no matter how stressed you are, or how stuck you feel in the everyday, every single moment ahead of us is fleeting. So if you can, take some courage to escape for a little bit, ground yourself, and come back feeling charged to accomplish your goals. A day trip is not enough time to get behind on your commitments, and it is totally worth it for your mental health and sanity.

Flight itinerary for almost 12 hours in Boston!

I flew from my hometown airport (RDU) to a city over 700 miles away: Boston, Massachusetts. JetBlue had a crazy flash fare sale that had $31 fares during the week of Halloween, so I jumped on this opportunity. My options out of Raleigh were Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Boston. The last time I was in Boston was in August with a couple coworkers from my internship this summer, when we decided to fly to Boston after work just to grab some dinner and then leave. It’s such a gorgeous city, and I wish that I had more time to spend there. So, I picked Boston. By using only 2,600 of my TrueBlue points, I really only paid $11.20 for the roundtrip flight, which was simply just the domestic flight tax.

And so on a Wednesday morning, I arrived at the airport with just a purse. Having no luggage felt extremely freeing, knowing I would just return at night. The flight was just two hours long, and suddenly, I was in a new city.

Boston is a FANTASTIC place to visit if you are on a time crunch. Whether you’re wanting to spend a quick day trip there or simply just have a few hours in a layover, I would highly recommend stopping into the city. Unlike the proximity of airports in New York City for example, downtown Boston is only a 10-15 minute drive or 20-25 subway/bus ride from the airport, and the entire city is extremely walkable and easy to navigate via the public transportation system.

I took the T Silver Line bus from the airport and transferred to the Red Line at South Station Train Terminal, where I got off just two stops later at Park Street. I wanted to start my day in the Beacon Hill area, near the beautiful Boston Common park. I walked along the Freedom Trail, taking in all of the natural beauty around me. If you’ve never been to Boston before, it’s a quiet city that has beautiful historic architecture mixed with lots of green spaces. Fall was in full swing at this time of year, so I really got to appreciate the delightful weather, which was at a comfortable 60 degrees and sunny.

After walking around for a couple of miles, I wanted to stop by my favorite foodie spot, Tatte Bakery, which is where we ate for dinner last time I was in town. It’s extremely popular, and they have delicious sandwiches, baked goods, coffee, and more. I got the prosciutto and fig jam panini last time I was here—and two months later, I was STILL craving this sandwich. I ordered one with an iced latte, and spent about an hour eating and checking up on emails on my iPad.

Newbury Street

Afterwards, I spent a couple of hours walking along Newbury Street, which is most known for its many shops and restaurants. I stopped into some of my favorite stores, such as Zara and Reformation. Nearby was a really cool mall called the Prudential Center, and I stopped by in Aritzia and Lululemon there. To my surprise, I didn’t end up buying anything at all, which was great for my wallet! I still had so much fun window shopping and walking around.

It was already almost 4PM by this point, and I wanted to keep moving along. I hopped on the Orange Line to the Samuel Adams Brewery, which took about 20 minutes. Once I was there, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the next tour, which gave me time to charge my phone and rest my achy feet for a bit. I was also surprised to learn that the brewery tour was totally free, which was completely unexpected! I had only done one brewery tour in the past when I went to the Heineken Experience tour in Amsterdam, and that was a hefty 21 euros per person.

The tour guide took us through the brewery and explained the history of this beer and the exact ingredients that go into it. I’ve always loved Sam Adams beer, and I didn’t realize that it was one of the sub-brands under the Boston Beer Company, which also owns Angry Orchard and Truly. The entire audience sat down in a room where we all tried three or four different styles of Sam Adams brew, my favorite being the Oktoberfest. The portions were extremely generous, and pitchers were being passed around all of the tables. It was a great experience, especially as it was a free activity!

I was set to meet a friend for dinner around 6PM, and because it was dark and started to drizzle by this point, I decided to take a shared Lyft back to Boston. I met my friend Kevin at MIT, as he is a graduate student there. He was also an intern with me at JetBlue this summer, so I was glad to catch up with him! He showed me around MIT, which was a totally interesting and quirky place—almost all of the classes and dorm rooms were in one massive building. It felt like a confusing maze of indoor hallways. But it was so fun to tour a different school, and I could tell that the general vibe of the school was hardworking and innovative. There were endless engineering and design spaces for students to collaborate and build—it was cool to see it all in action. My favorite part about seeing MIT was one of their study spaces, which had boxes on boxes of bananas for students to take at any time. I took a baby banana as a fun souvenir.

After walking around the school, we got dinner at a Korean restaurant called Kaju. We ordered a feast—dukbokki, kalbi, and two sundubujigaes. All of these dishes are some of my favorite classic Korean dishes.

An excellent dinner at Kaju!

Soon enough, it was time to return back to the airport for my 9:30PM flight. I took one easy bus back to the airport. I was wiped by this point and fell asleep on the entire plane ride home. I had a wonderful day trip to Boston and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Besides paying for transportation and lunch and dinner, I spent almost nothing at all on this getaway.

Next time there’s another flash sale, I will definitely be booking another adventure like this.

Eight Hours in Nantucket

I flew to 12 different cities in 10 weeks…and in each trip I took this summer, I spent no longer than 48 hours in one place. Once, I flew from the East Coast to the West Coast, only to spend a grand total of 15 minutes in the airport, and then I just hopped on a plane right back home. Through these crazy experiences, I fell deeper in love with aviation and travel, quickly learning that this is absolutely the right career path for me. It’s all because I said yes to everything, living and appreciating every single moment.

While I didn’t blog this summer, I now want to use my blog as a platform to highlight each trip to show how you can maximize your travel experience in less than 48 hours.


The first trip I took to was a Sunday day trip to Nantucket. A quaint island off the coast of Massachusetts, its extremely short flight of just 40 minutes from JFK made it an extremely desirable day-trip option. Nantucket is a difficult island to get to, as it costs $400 to drive your car to the island. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Boston that takes about four hours. However, JetBlue had just expanded their seasonal summer service from JFK to Nantucket, and since it was still the beginning of the summer, there were plenty of empty seats on both routes.

Sunday, June 9

The flight was scheduled to depart bright and early at 7:10A.M. Peter and I both lived in the city, so we split a Lyft to the airport. Since it was Sunday AND not even 6A.M., we got to the airport in just 25 minutes. The city felt like a ghost town at this hour.

The plane was relatively empty, so Peter and I were able to score two ‘Even More Space’ seats together in the front. The plane, an E190, was older, but was super comfortable and provided tons of legroom. Even on such a short flight, the inflight crewmembers provided full service with our famous unlimited snacks and drinks. If you ever fly JetBlue, please try the Popcorners. I unapologetically take at least three extra bags of them on each flight.

I blinked, and somehow we had already landed. The airport was the smallest airport I had ever been to—it felt like I was in a cute beach house instead of a terminal. Peter and I took an Uber (no Lyft here) to the downtown area, which took about 15 minutes. It was only 8A.M., so there really was nothing going on in the town. We each got an Americano and just started walking around. Eventually, we found our way to one of the famous lighthouses, Brant Point Lighthouse. Built in 1746, it was small and had that old-time charm to it. We saw many boats come in and out of the port. Since it was still very early in the morning, the weather was just barely above 60 degrees. However, it felt really nice; the sun was shining down, and it was the perfect weather for just a tank top, jeans, and sandals. The beach was also quaint and beautiful.

Afterwards, we walked through the close-by neighborhood and admired the different houses. We made our way back to downtown Nantucket, where we continued to explore the area. At around 11A.M., we got brunch at this restaurant with gorgeous outdoor patio called Or, the Whale. I opted for a classic—the lobster roll with a side salad. The meal was delicious. I couldn’t leave Nantucket without trying this Northern staple.

Since it was Sunday morning, Nantucket felt slow-paced, as people were gradually rolling out of church. But I enjoyed how peaceful it was compared to the hustle and bustle of New York City. We walked through more neighborhoods, got some ice cream at Jack + Charlie’s, and just as a whole appreciated the historic feel of the buildings.

We then took an Uber back to the airport and made it to our 4:40P.M. flight home. Since the airport was so small, we boarded the aircraft while being outside on the tarmac. I snapped this picture of myself with the plane, where I was happy that my first trip was a success. I started small with Nantucket my first weekend, and it gave me the confidence to keep on using my travel benefits to the fullest for the rest of the summer.

Navigating Paris Like a Local

My love for traveling didn’t truly start until I studied abroad. Summer 2017, the summer after my first year at Carolina, was when I embarked on an incredible journey called UNC Summer in Paris. For someone that studied French all of her life, I was eager to immerse myself into the culture immediately and take advantage of everything that Paris had to offer. Additionally, I had never been to Europe before this experience. But by the end of the program, I was able to navigate Paris like a local.

On the Notes app on my phone, I have a running list of my favorite memories, places, and experiences from Paris that I share with others who may be visiting the area. I am excited to share this list with you in this blog post, as it will have some classic tourist sites but also underrated hidden gems that you should visit.

The Parisian Lifestyle

In the 14th arrondissement

Anytime you travel somewhere new, it’s really important to read up about the local culture, as there will be etiquettes that are different than your way of life. Being aware of these differences will also ensure that you are safe and respectful as a tourist.

In Paris, I would say the number one difference that I noticed is that not everyone may be nice to you. As Americans, we are taught to smile and greet everyone that we see, even if they are strangers. Parisians typically are more private than we are, but don’t mistake their behaviors as being rude or discourteous. In fact, if you are polite enough, most Parisians will be willing to help you out.

While most Parisians can speak English, don’t assume that everyone has a perfect knowledge of it. You won’t have to master French perfectly in order to feel like you fit in, but you should know the basic words to be courteous. Saying “bonjour” in every shop you enter is important and is a sign of respect, and simply saying “merci” can go a long way.

City life in Paris, while busy, also can seem a bit slow. Parisians prioritize their leisure time, hence why many work 35-hour workweeks and why the majority of shops are closed on Sundays. To truly live like a local, slowing down the pace of your vacation will help you relax and immerse yourself into the Parisian culture. That’s why the best (and also free!) things to do in Paris include just walking around, sitting at a café, or sitting outside to enjoy the nice weather. These are some of the elements I miss the most about Paris, and it’s hard to enjoy your free time when everyone around me seems to always be on the go.

What’s an arrondissement?

Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements, or neighborhoods. An important geography note: the city of Paris is roughly a circular shape, and the arrondissements may seem randomly placed at first glance. However, they are actually organized in a snail-shape, starting from the 1st arrondissement in the center, then spiraling clockwise until you reach the 20th arrondissement.

Paris is also divided into the left bank and right bank, according to the Seine River that cuts through the city. The left bank is south of the Seine, while the right bank is north of the Seine. This division has a lot of historical context; for example, the left bank is where a lot of artists and students used to live as it was considered as the inexpensive part of town. The right bank was considered to be more wealthy. This is definitely not the case anymore, but this is a fun fact to note about the context of the city.

Where to stay in Paris

My apartment in the 14th arrondissement

The length of your stay in Paris is a large determining factor in where you stay in the city. If you’re only there for a few days, you should definitely stay in areas that are near the sites you want to see. The arrondissements I recommend for a short visit include anywhere in the 1st through the 7th because they are centrally located. Accommodations will generally be more expensive here, but it’s definitely worth staying here to maximize your time.

If you have a few weeks or longer in Paris, staying in a more quiet and residential part of the city isn’t a bad idea, and you’ll be able to save more money that way in the long run. However, the metro is extremely easy to use and gives you quick access to any part of the city. I recommend the 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th.

My own apartment was located in the 14th arrondissement, which is a safe area where a lot of families and university students reside. It was a quick 15-minute metro ride to my classes at the Sorbonne, located in the 5th arrondissement.

And as an overall note, I always recommend staying in Airbnbs over hotels, especially in Paris, where Airbnbs are abundant.

Food

While I have recommendations for places to visit, I do not have any specific recommendations for must-visit food spots. This is because Paris is a foodie’s paradise and is not short of amazing restaurants. In fact, I ate mostly within my neighborhood, which is where I found the best sandwiches, cheeses, pastries, baguettes, chocolates, and more.

Feel free to Yelp restaurants beforehand, but everything I ate was so good that I can’t pick my favorites.

Places and spaces

Sacré-Cœur

Montmartre: located in the 18th arrondissement. Put on your walking shoes because the neighborhood is quite hilly. However, there are many beautiful views and rich history to be enjoyed here. In Montmartre, the arts are widely celebrated. Here, you’ll find the Moulin Rouge, a famous cabaret theatre founded in the late 14th century. You’ll also find Sacré-Cœur, a beautiful Catholic church atop a hill dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Rue de Crémieux

Rue de Crémieux: a beautiful street located in the 12th arrondissement. It looks vastly different from the rest of the architecture in Paris, but it is a row of pastel colored homes. This is a great place to take pictures.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg: a lovely garden located in the 6th arrondissement. This was one of my favorite places to picnic, as it was in between my apartment and where my classes were located. Enjoy a nutella crêpe here, walk around and take in all the scenery.

Le Tour Eiffel

Le Tour Eiffel: located in the 7th arrondissement. How could I not mention the Eiffel Tower? While it’s a large tourist trap, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time is a moment in my life I will never forget. My favorite time to visit was just around sunset, when you can enjoy wine and cheese in the grass. Once the sky gets dark, you can see the tower sparkle. You can also pay about 17 euros to go up the Eiffel Tower and enjoy views of the entire city.

Trocadéro

Trocadéro: located in the 16th arrondissement. This is another great view of the Eiffel Tower, but from a distance. It’s a perfect place to take a picture of the entire monument.

La Seine: located across multiple arrondissements. Another one of my favorite activities was walking along the river, having a picnic, and reading a good book here. Time seems to slow down when you’re hanging around by the Seine.

Le Quartier Latin

Le Quartier Latin: located in the 5th arrondissement. This was my favorite arrondissement in Paris, as there is so much to see here here. The Latin Quarter is where the Sorbonne is, the school I attended while in Paris. You can also find Shakespeare & Company, the must-see bookshop. I also thought that the Latin Quarter was the prettiest neighborhood in Paris.

Rooftop Café Oz

Rooftop Café Oz: located in the 13th arrondissement. This was my favorite bar because it sits along the Seine and is beautiful to visit at night. There is also great music, a young crowd, and overall a good time here.

Museums

Le Louvre

Le Louvre: located in the 2nd arrondissement. The Louvre can take you an entire day to go through, as it is truly a maze. This is a must-visit museum, as it is stunning and has many famous artworks that you must see in your lifetime.

Le Musée de L’Orangerie

Le Musée de L’Orangerie: located in the 2nd arrondissement. This was the most memorable museum I had visited in Paris, as it had these beautiful Monet paintings located in an oval room.

Le Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée d’Orsay: located in the 7th arrondissement. This museum is full of Impressionist paintings.

Shopping

Rue de Rivoli

Rue de Rivoli: located in the center of Paris along multiple arrondissements. This street is bustling with the best stores and trendy fashion.

Rue de Rennes

Rue de Rennes: located in the 6th arrondissement, near the Montparnasse Tower. Similar to Rue de Rivoli, but has some more affordable stores. I visited Rue de Rennes much more frequently because it was right next to my classes.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann: located in the 9th arrondissement. This is a huge luxury department store with multiple levels. I couldn’t afford anything here, but it is so fun to walk around and has beautiful architecture.


Paris has become a huge part of my identity and my Carolina experience. It is an unforgettable memory that I often feel nostalgic about. My hope is that this blog post showed off how amazing the city of Paris is, and makes you want to visit sometime soon.

Why Puerto Rico Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Loved Puerto Rico so much that I went back this past June!

For your next tropical vacation, consider visiting Puerto Rico. Flights from the East Coast are just a few hours long and are relatively inexpensive–you can find deals for under $300 roundtrip. Because Puerto Rico uses the American dollar, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. And according to Forbes magazine, tourism is a way to quickly inject money into the economy, as the island wasn’t receiving the federal assistance it needed from the damages of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

My group of friends and I flew into San Juan Luis Muñoz Airport on a Monday afternoon. Ubers aren’t available from the airport, however, you can taxi to your destination for a flat rate to avoid petty crime. The five of us hopped into a van with all of our belongings for $20.

We stayed in Isla Verde, which was recommended to us by multiple people who are from Puerto Rico. I highly recommend staying in this area because it’s centrally located: it’s 10 minutes from the airport and Old San Juan is just 15 minutes away. Ubers were also very cheap.

Our apartment in proximity to the beach!

Our Airbnb was an oceanfront property in walking distance to a ton of shops and restaurants. We felt very safe the entire time with 24-hour security in the lobby. We ran into four other groups of Carolina students who had Airbnb’s in the same building. All the amenities were fantastic for an affordable price, and I would stay here again if I go back to Puerto Rico.

Try the Puerto Rican hot dog!

The weather was perfect the entire week–sunny and 85. There were also multiple food carts on the beach, where I grabbed a quick bite to eat for under a couple of bucks. There were also multiple beach bars and cafes where you could sit in the shade and eat if you wanted to. We could have occupied our time in Puerto Rico completely by just laying out on the beach all day.

Our favorite activity in Puerto Rico was the catamaran boat tour. We booked ours with Salty Dog Catamaran, which had great reviews on TripAdvisor. For just about $70 a person, you’ll get to go on an amazing 6-hour boat tour with unlimited drinks, lunch, snorkeling, and a visit to an island. All of the boat tours leave out of Fajardo, which is about an hour east from Isla Verde.

Another must-do is to check out Old San Juan, and we especially loved visiting before sunset. Old San Juan is picturesque laid out with cobblestone and colorful rows of homes. The famous pink umbrellas are located next to the governor’s mansion on Calle Fortaleza. You can walk around all of Old San Juan in a short amount of time. At night, the streets are well-lit with crowds of people moving from bar to bar.

Puerto Rico is a wonderful place and I am so glad I got the chance to visit for spring break!


Here is a list of my recommendations for must-do activities and restaurants.

GOOD EATS:

Mofongos
  1. Raíces (Old San Juan): an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant! Try the mofongos, which is a signature Puerto Rican dish featuring plantains.
  2. Señor Paleta (Old San Juan): refreshing popsicle shop with a variety of flavors. A great treat after dinner!
  3. Panaderia Alturas (Fajardo): an amazing bakery featuring sweets, coffees, and deli meals. In close proximity to the ports for all of the catamaran tours.

DAYTIME ACTIVITIES:

  1. Salty Dog Catamaran: half-day long boat tour.
  2. Calle Fortaleza: street featuring the pink umbrellas.

NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES:

  1. La Placita (San Juan): historical landmark known for its many bars and exciting nightlife.
  2. Calle San Sebastian (Old San Juan): a street located in downtown with fantastic bars.

How to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

I was inspired to write this blog post because one of my best friends texted me this earlier today. He just came back from a spring break vacation in Madrid, Spain.

The worst part of going on vacation is coming back from one.

Let’s face it–it’s difficult to go from sipping a piña colada on a beach to immediately come back to miserable weather and sitting in classes all day. I just came back from an incredible and relaxing vacation in Puerto Rico, and there’s no doubt that it was hard to adjust back to my normal routine. I constantly find myself daydreaming about the memories from last week.

It’s natural to have these feelings of nostalgia after coming back from a trip. But when post-vacation blues starts to affect your productivity levels and work habits, this becomes a problem that you need to tackle from within.

Puerto Rico with my best girl friends!

Here are my tips for getting over those post-vacation blues to take charge to find the beauty in your own life.


Be in tune with your surroundings.

On vacation, I love being able to turn off email notifications and forget all of my responsibilities back at home. Catching a break from the mundanities of life is essential to feel recuperated from your day-to-day routine.

Instead of feeling dread about returning to work or school, take some valuable time to see the positives in your everyday life. I am guilty of this, as I am always dissatisfied at my seemingly boring life.

However, while vacations are amazing, we forget that constant travel and moving from place-to-place can take a toll on you. At least for me, I was getting pretty tired of having to Uber everywhere instead of having the convenience of my car back at home. Travel can also be stressful, as you want to try to see as many sites as you possibly can in a short amount of time. Also, when you’re traveling in a group, you do not have any privacy or time to take care of yourself.

I was running on campus when I stopped to take a picture of this beautiful view.

Therefore, it is nice to come back home to a routine that you feel comfortable and confident in tackling. It might not be the most exciting place in the world, but it is important to be mindful and grateful of where you live and your routine that keeps you grounded. Chances are, where you currently live will not be where you live in a few months or years down the road. Cherish every moment you have, even when it’s not on vacation.

Learn a new language.

Every time I travel, I always leave with an admiration of foreign languages. Being trilingual, I have been lucky to travel to destinations where I can understand and converse with natives.

However, I still have a desire to improve my conversation and listening skills in Korean and French. I have also created a goal for myself this summer to start learning Spanish, as it is a language I have always wanted to learn. By doing this, I will want to continue to travel so that I can practice these skills on future trips.

Some resources I recommend include Duolingo, listening to podcasts, or watching films or Youtube videos in the language you wish to learn.

Plan your next trip.

In six weeks, I will be wrapping up the semester and enjoying the last summer as an undergrad. I will have about a month before my internship starts in New York City, but before then, I have been thinking of possible trips I can take. Sometimes, all it takes to beat the post-vacation blues is keeping yourself motivated.

So excited to work in my favorite city this summer!

By planning your next trip, you’ll feel more motivated to work hard and save your money so that you can have another awesome experience. If all my time was spent vacationing, I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate living in the moment.

Spring Break 2019: Puerto Rico

This year for spring break, my friends and I traveled to Puerto Rico. We had a blast, and I would absolutely return in a heartbeat. Our Airbnb was located in Isla Verde, but we also visited awesome sites in Fajardo, Old San Juan, Condado, and more. Stay tuned for a future blog post detailing everything we did in the trip!

Five Best Secrets for Finding Cheap Flights

Ever since I studied abroad in Paris during the summer of 2017, I had this ever-growing desire to keep traveling and see the world. Because I grew up in the same town where I now attend college, I gained a newfound appreciation for traveling, especially to big cities that are bustling with sightseeing opportunities.

So in 2018, I wanted to make traveling a priority. Given my busy schedule as a college student, I would say that I was pretty successful. In the span of one year, I visited eight major metropolitan cities: Miami, Las Vegas, NYC, DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vancouver, and even Seoul.

As a college student however, I have many limitations, especially when it comes to budgeting. Flights are a huge cost when it comes to traveling. There are some obvious tips that most of us know, such as purchasing flights earlier rather than later and flying on discount airlines such as Frontier or Spirit Airlines. But in this blog post, I will bring you my five best secrets for scoring your next flight deal.

Use Google Flights as your flight search engine.

In 2018, Google improved the design and functions of Google Flights. I now use it as my sole search engine for flights because of its simple and customizable interface. I do not use other websites such as StudentUniverse or Expedia anymore, because I have consistently found better deals from Google Flights.

Do you know when you want to travel but are unsure of where your next destination should be? By simply inputting the dates you would like to travel, Google Flights can show you a list and map of different destinations and their respective prices.

This is a game-changer as you can explore various options for both domestic and international travel. Especially as a college student, you may be limited to just weekend trips or over holidays and long breaks. By knowing which dates you are free, you may find yourself traveling to a place you never considered before.

Most people know that return flights on Sundays are expensive, and flying on weekdays is significantly cheaper. Therefore, if you have a little bit more flexibility on your dates of travel, Google Flights can show you a price grid showing how much you could save if you simply adjusted the days you travel.

You can also check out the price of flights over the next few months by using their price graph. Depending on where you visit, flights in the summer and winter will typically be more expensive.

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Caution! Google Flights does not show flights from Southwest Airlines. Don’t forget to double check Southwest’s website when conducting your search, as they can have some pretty awesome deals too.

Consider flying out of a different airport (somewhat) near you.

My local airport, Raleigh-Durham International, is the second-largest airport in North Carolina. While I have found many cheap deals out of RDU, it is still pretty expensive to fly out to certain cities in the United States, such as to the West Coast. Additionally, you will almost always have a connecting flight if you are flying internationally at RDU, which can make flights more expensive.

A huge tip that I have learned for saving money is to fly out of different airports that are bigger and tend to have more flights available. For me, Washington D.C. is a good option to look at, as there are three major airports that are a four-hour drive. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the largest airport in the United States, is about a six-hour drive. I have even considered flying out of any of the airports around New York City, which is an eight-hour drive. The sheer volume of flights at these larger airports makes driving instead of taking a connecting flight worthwhile.

For my upcoming spring break trip next week, my friends and I are flying out of Atlanta to catch a direct flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico for just under $300. Meanwhile, flying out of our local airport cost upwards to $800.

Again, for international flights, this is an excellent way to save money. There are many direct flights out of New York to destinations in Europe or Asia for under $400.

Find out which flights and airlines are most popular at your local airport.

If you don’t have a car and driving to a different airport isn’t a viable option for you, getting to know what your local airport has to offer can help you find cheap flights.

A quick Wikipedia search can tell you important statistics about your airport. At RDU, the top destinations are Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, and Orlando. Typically, flying to these cities will be cheaper, because there is a larger number of flights that service to these areas. On your search for your next trip, consider flying to any of these cities.

Furthermore, if certain airlines have larger shares at your airport, they will offer more flights that will also be cheaper. At RDU, Delta, American, and Southwest are head-to-head on their percent of market shares. Understanding this will help you narrow your search on which airlines to fly when you’re going to a specific destination.

Sign up for rewards programs or credit cards with travel benefits.

Check out the rewards programs for airlines that you fly most often. Signing up for these is essential, as the miles you fly can translate into steep flight discounts or even free flights. The more you fly, the more benefits you can redeem in the future. Airlines will also have credit cards that will offer amazing travel benefits such as free checked bags and priority boarding.

Credit card companies such as Chase or Discover will also have their own type of travel cards that translates your everyday spendings into rewards for flights on any airline.

By signing up for any of these programs, you will also receive exclusive emails for flights, so it is worth subscribing.

Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Scott’s Cheap Flights is a free newsletter that emails you some of the best flight deals to international locations as they pop up. There is a premium version of $39 per year, where they email you ALL of the deals that they find. However, as a free user of the service, I have gotten about 2-3 emails per week, which I have been satisfied with thus far.

Each email will detail the location they found, the dates to fly, and which airlines these deals are on.

If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to travel somewhere new, Scott’s Cheap Flights can show you some really great deals across the world.

Let me know if you use any of these tips to find yourself a great deal!