San Diego Solo

My actual conference was boring. When I first arrived the room was full and people were standing in the back so I found a comfy spot against the wall in the back corner and made myself at home. It turned out to be awesome! I had room to stretch my legs and switch sitting positions and even a plug to charge my phone!

I attended all the morning classes then I ventured out for lunch followed by a trip to the San Diego zoo. I was running later than expected so I just grabbed drive through on the way. Since I was on hold with Hornblower Cruises trying to book a bay cruise tour. I stopped at the ticket booth between the airport and the conference but they were not in yet. I eventually gave up after listening to hold music for about 30 minutes and just went into the zoo.

The San Diego Zoo Although big, is still a zoo. It’s also very hilly. I was not prepared for all those hills. The cool thing is they have an app with a map to guide you to where you want to go, *note* on the top there is two options “walking” and “accessible” some areas have stairs and some the incline is too steep for wheelchairs/scooters. If you want the walking rote double check that when you pull your phone back out of your pocket that you did not accidentally hit the accessible route or you could find yourself wandering in circles and wondering why you are back at the hippos, again and again and again. This little setback made me run later than expected so I skipped the other museums in Balboa Park that I intended on visiting, stopped at a grocery store to pick up some snacks and checked into my room where I took a shower, put on my pjs and binge watched Netflix on my iPad the rest of the evening.

San Diego here I come! part3

It has been a while since I have been anywhere alone. It felt very weird going to the airport by myself and boarding the plane.

The only hiccup I encountered was my rental car. I searched for “San Diego Airport” but didn’t confirm so it gave me a pickup at another location in San Diego. It wasn’t a problem. They still had cars available and rented me one, although this one didn’t have GPS and being as directionally challenged as I am, I had to use my phone. It took a little getting use to, but I eventually got the hang of it although I did miss seeing the route on the dash.

For my room I booked an Airbnb. It was my first time using one even though I have stayed in many Home-Stays around the world through the years before Airbnb was a thing. It was a little hard to find, but once I did the host was friendly and the place was incredibly clean. I have always had good luck with home stays and have found it to be a more authentic experience to see how the locals do it. Although you are not on “hotel row” you will find that things are cheaper when catering to locals rather than tourists. I love hole in the wall places to eat with good prices and awesome food. Staying in places like this is the best way to find the off the beaten path places that the locals frequent.


My Easter traditions change a little bit every year and I’m still working out what I want to do. The dream I had growing up of holidays has been edited because things are just different with a special needs child.

Three years ago we just moved into our new house and we’re just getting settled with a 3 year old and a baby.

Two years ago my older son got released from the hospital after his 3rd open heart surgery on Easter Sunday.

Last year we started forming our traditions. Some things like coloring eggs and doing an Easter egg hunt just started. But last year we also got a puppy and she jumped up on the counter and ate maybe 20 deviled eggs. Let’s just say a dog that eats that many hard boiled eggs puts a damper on the festivities.

So this year we are trying again! I took off Friday and Monday to get things together. I’m hoping to someday get the holidays together so they are easy, fun and memorable.

San Diego here I come! part2

Well, not quite yet. But I have completed my planning! My flights, room and car are all booked. As for my plans once I arrive… I plan on getting the city pass.

I’m a big fan of the city pass. I like that I can pass up lines and go in and out of places as much as I wish. I’m planning 1/2 a day at the zoo safari and 1/2 a day at the zoo to check them out as possibilities to take the kids later. I’m also planning on the Carlsbad flower gardens. Those are my big 3. But I see on the city pass there is a lot to do so I’ll spend some time plotting where everything is, adding the hours and seeing what I can come up with to efficiently do as many things as possible on the pass. Let’s see just how many I can check off in a few days.

I believe in having a good plan, and a backup plan… just incase. I don’t get stuck when something doesn’t go as planned. I step back, regroup and go to a backup plan.

San Diego here I come! part1

As part of my day job I have continuing education that I need to keep up. It’s boring, but I have to keep it up. Prior to having kids I would travel to big educational conferences, spend the mornings in classes then enjoy the afternoons and evenings seeing the sites. Once I had kids the travel part became…complicated. Well that is all about to change as I go to my first educational conference in almost 10 years in San Diego, California.

Now it is far from my first trip there but times have changed and so have I. My plan is to head straight to the conference as soon as I land and get started. Unlike other trips, I’m renting a car for this one so I can get around a bit better and see some things.

First up, since I’m part mermaid the beach can not be ignored! I found a nice Airbnb a few blocks from the beach and I’m an early riser so expect some nice sunrise photos while I enjoy a nice walk with my bagels with cream cheese and coffee for breakfast as I watch the sun rise. I figure I’ll do that…yeah, every day. 😎

Up next the Wild Animal Park can not be skipped. I plan on an afternoon there photographing the animals and scouting it out to see if it’s an option to take the kids to. While my younger son loves animals and does well in new places my older son does not. So I’ll be looking to see if it’s an option. He doesn’t do well with loud or crowds but usually does ok outside. Welcome to my world living with Autism.

The only other thing I know I want to do is to see the flower fields. For my other afternoons I’ll make it up as I go along.

The historic gas lamp district will end up being one of my evenings dinner and entertainment. I’m sure another will be somewhere on the beach (see part mermaid above).

What to do

The first time I go somewhere I always see whatever the big thing(s) are in that area. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I don’t think anyone should go somewhere and NOT see the iconic sites of that area. You can usually find a hop on hop off bus or a day tour that will take you to all the “must see” places in 1 day or less.

Up next after my “must see” items I look to see if any holidays will be celebrated while I’m there. Participating in the local celebrations is an awesome way to remember your trip and celebrate with the locals!

I’m also in for food and shopping! If there is a local dish or food they are known for (no matter how strange) I want to try it. It may only be one bite, but I’ll try it. If there is an amazing or iconic market, I want to shop there. Food and shopping don’t need to be a high priority, I’ll eat at some point but I want to know what the area is known for so if I see it I can get it while I’m out and about. For the shopping, I’ll usually do that on a free afternoon or evening.

The next thing I do is look for the secondary things I want to see or do. These are not the iconic “must see” things for the area but things I’m interested in. I scuba dive so if I’m somewhere that it’s an option I try to fit it in at least one day of my trip. I’m also a sucker for priceless jewels, butterfly sanctuaries, aquariums, old churches, Castles, ancient temples and ruins. I was an art minor in college so if there is important pieces of art in an area or artists I’m interested in I try to fit seeing those.

Part of my secondary things to do I look for an unusual tour. They have always been a highlight of my trip and very interesting. Some examples of things I have done in the past a flashlight Jack the Ripper tour of London and a Haunted tour of Sydney in a hearse. I did an erotic tour of different kinds of brothels and sex shops and learned all about the sex worker industry that was quite enlightening. I did a symbolism tour of an old graveyard. Some destinations have them, some don’t. But I have learned the quirky tours are usually a blast so if there’s one available, I try to fit it in.

The last thing is a bit of pampering. I try to book this at the end of my trip or after a long day. There are day spas and salons all over the world waiting to pamper you. It may be a mani-pedi, facial or massage a little pampering is nice. If there is something unique to the area I try to give it a try.

My only piece of advice is: Don’t pre-plan every day, every minute. Try to book one thing a day so you have time to do other things you didn’t know about until you were there. I usually book a tour or activity in the morning leaving my afternoons and/or evenings free. If I have an evening activity that I want to do I make sure that the next day is not an early morning (like diving) and if I have a morning tour that day it needs to end by lunch so I have the whole afternoon free before my evening out.

One Step Closer…

Every time I start booking a trip I get excited.  I like to pay for as much as possible up front so my credit card is empty and most of my trip is paid for before I ever set foot on the plane.  A few days ago I started booking my solo trip to the UK in the fall.  My air is booked and my trip to Stonehenge.  It is all becoming real.

I have made a general plan.  I’ll fly into London and spend a day there, then I’ll head to Stonehenge the next day Followed by another day in London before I leave for Scotland where I will spend the rest of my trip. I have a list of things I want to do and see and with my limited time I am going to try to see as much as I can.

But for now, my air is booked. I have a date and time that I leave and a date and time I return.  Now its turning from a dream to a reality.

My photography…

In 4 months I have not only gotten my website up but I have had several photos in galleries around the world. I have not had anything in a gallery since college.l until this point.

I also just found out that I’m going to have a photo published in a magazine! I have never been published before so I’m very excited about that. This is the photo that will be in the magazine:

It’s going slow, but it has been great to have a creative outlet again. To see more of my photos check out my website at

Living the travel dream…

Ok maybe not quite because I’m not crazy rich with tons of spare time… but I get as close as I can.

This spring I’ll be heading to San Diego, CA for an educational conference for my boring day job that pays the bills while I treat of traveling the world taking photos. I’ll bring my camera and make the most out of the trip catching every sunrise and sunset in a different place so be prepared for lots of beach photos. I have a thing for the ocean. 😁

Then in the fall I will be checking off a box on my bucket list and finally seeing Stonehenge! (Yes, I know it’s just a bunch of big rocks. But I want to see them.) After I see the rocks I’ll be heading up to Scotland for the rest of my trip.

I’ll be booking both trips in the next month. My UK trip needs a bit more work than San Diego. But it will be an awesome trip.

How to do your own thing…

Congratulations on making the decision that you are comfortable enough to do your own thing abroad!

The first step is to figure out what kind of trip you want to do and what your priorities are. Is your priority to relax, catch up with friends, see the sites?

When I travel alone I like to find a central “hub” to stay in then do day trips out from there. Once I have seen all I want in that area, I move to my next place (if I have one) and repeat. This saves you from constantly changing rooms and spending a lot of time “traveling”. Look for day tours, busses, trains or rent a car to get where you want. I don’t like to waste time so I usually book a day tour in the morning and leave my afternoons/evenings open to do whatever I want and explore the city. I’m a big fan of street food and night markets so this works well for me. Also, many cities don’t have much going on in the morning so traveling to a destination allows you maximize your time. If I know I’m going to have a late evening then I leave the next day free to explore the city.

A few booking/money saving tips:

1. Most major cities have a city pass of some kind and/or a hop on hop off bus. I’m a big fan of both. For starters, the bus will usually take you anywhere you want to go for a flat fee for the day. You hop on going whatever direction you need and ride the loop. The city pass gets to into museums/attractions free or at a discounted rate. **note museums usually have a restroom near the entrance. Many places do not have public toilets. So this can be a great way to save yourself from wasting time searching.

2. Day drips. Many tour companies will offer day trips to popular destinations (similar to excursions on cruise ships). Shop around because not all day trips are created equal and read the details. You can usually find one that is going where you want if not, then it’s time to do it yourself. You can book it yourself by hiring a taxi or car service to go where you want. The farther you go and the longer you are gone the more it will cost you. You can also rent a car and drive yourself if you really want to be adventurous. 😁 But if there is something you really want to see and it’s off the beaten path, don’t skip it…just work it out.

3. Alternate modes of transportation. When booking your own trip look into different modes of transportation. Sometimes it’s easier to fly but the train offers incredible views or sailing makes for an incredible day out on the water as well as getting to your destination. Look at commuter trains/flights/boats and travel like a local rather than a tourist at a fraction of the cost. *check out first class…sometimes it’s cheaper to travel like a local in style than to travel like a tourist. 😁 first class often has larger seats, WIFI, more comfort and service and better food and drinks. So don’t limit yourself.

4. Food! Do not eat at large worldwide chains while traveling. Eat local. Look for places with long lines of locals waiting to eat there. The food will usually be cheap and amazing! Eat on the go from street vendors. If it smells amazing it will probably taste amazing. Ask locals what their favorite is and give it a try. Also, always have snacks in your bag for travel delays. They happen. When they do you will be happy you have snacks. Last tip…eating on the go can be messy/sticky. Buy a pair of chopsticks in a “case” and learn to eat with them. You will not need to worry about if your hands are clean or where to wash your hands on the go.