I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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I just returned from visiting Egypt this week, which marked the 30th country I’ve ever visited. I honestly can’t believe I can say that! After all, I didn’t start traveling until my early 20’s.
As I spend the day desperately trying to overcome the jet lag (which has become increasingly more difficult to overcome as I’ve gotten older), I’m looking back on all my experiences in 30 different countries. I’m amazed at the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve met, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
After all, if it weren’t for travel, I wouldn’t have met some of my bestest friends in the whole world. I wouldn’t have started a blog that turned into a business. I wouldn’t have met my husband. I wouldn’t have taken the trip that inevitably led to my divorce from said husband. I wouldn’t have gotten lost and eventually had to find myself again.
It’s been a wild ride, to say the least.
Despite its fair share of challenges, there’s something about traveling that just makes you feel alive. The sense of adventure, new sights, sounds, smells, and the feeling of being in a completely unknown place all combine to create a rush like no other.
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that life is too short not to travel. I’m happy I was bitten by the travel bug at such a young age. Because if I wasn’t, who knows what my life would look like today.
I remember visiting Canada a few times, once with my family as a kid and once on a high school yearbook field trip. My mom had a friend who lived in Washington state right on the Canadian border. I remember spending the day in Vancouver and just thinking, “wow! This place is cool!”
The second time visiting was in high school for a field trip to Winnepeg. It was my first time leaving the country without my parents. I went during the end of one of the hardest years of my life. Just six months prior, my high school sweetheart of 2.5 years passed away from a car accident. It scarred me to my very core and still affects me emotionally some days.
During this tough time, my parents didn’t know how to handle my emotive outbursts and cries for help. I spent a lot of time in my room, alone in my car, or hanging out with a few of my closest friends. It was a lonely time.
When the trip was presented to me, I contemplated even going. But with the encouragement of my friends and yearbook teacher, I went and had an amazing time. I did a lot of healing on that trip.
Besides going on a family cruise in 2014 to Ensenada, I also (as a college graduation present to myself) went on a 4-night Mexican cruise with a few of my closest nursing school girlfriends. It was such a fun time, and a much-needed release from all the stress nursing school had put on our lives!
Fiji was another trip that presented itself during a difficult time in my life. I was just getting over a bad breakup when I came across a service learning opportunity provided through my college. I applied- and got accepted!
I spent the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 on a beautiful, remote island in Fiji. This trip forever changed my life because it sparked a passion for travel that carries with me today! I’ve written an entire blog post about it here.
Ireland was my first stop on my post-college backpacking trip through Europe. Here, I met my closest girlfriends (my soul sisters!), who are still a significant part of my life today!
Ireland itself was a beautiful country filled with so much history and culture. I’ll never forget the incredible landscapes of cliffs and mountains. And singing and dancing the night away in Irish pubs!
My first time in England while in London, I met a local one night in a bar. He was super cute and asked me to dance with him. I didn’t hesitate to say yes! We exchanged phone numbers and the next day he asked if I wanted to spend the day with him. He’d show me around London to all the local spots.
Dare I say first vacation romance?!
In hindsight, it was. We continued talking long after I left London, and he’d eventually make his way out to California to visit me later that same year. But with all vacation romances, they must come to an end. At least ours did gracefully, and to this day, we still follow each other’s socials.
I had an absolute blast in Amsterdam. The thing I valued most wasn’t the bike rides through the tulips or the Red Lights District city tour but the incredible food (yum!) and incredibly kind people.
On our last night before leaving Amsterdam, my friends and I visited a local cafe owner we had met earlier that day. When we finally got to his shop, he had already locked up for the night.
We hung out outside his place, drinking wine, smoking weed, and drowning in laughter and storytelling.
We must have been loud because he came down from his upstairs apartment and let us inside his cafe to continue the party. During our visit, we talked, we laughed, and he poured us wine while he shared the story of how he started this cafe in the heart of Amsterdam.
I learned that people are friendly, welcoming, and generous all over the world – no matter their culture, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic background.
You can learn a lot about a place from its food – so try everything! I learned Belgium holds true to the delicious Belgium waffle, chocolate, and beer!
Having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower will always be a memory I hold near and dear to my heart. Many hours were spent here laughing, playing, and embracing my authentic self for the first time in my life.
From the beautiful landscapes to dipping stuff in hot cheese, what’s not to love?!
I’ll always remember getting all dressed up and visiting the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco!
The food is impeccable in Italy, so try it all! While visiting Venice in 2018, I stopped in a sandwich shop to get something to eat (I was traveling all day and hadn’t eaten anything yet). As soon as I walked out of the shop with a sandwich in hand, a bird swooped down and stole it!
Dancing until sunrise in the Barcelona nightclubs! My friend Ashley stepped on some broken glass in one of the clubs, so we girls went to the bathroom to tend to it (which was just wrapping it in paper towels), so we could continue partying!
After getting back to the hotel room in the morning, I whipped out my first aid kit and did a much better job.
Spent a 12-hour layover in Taiwan and accidentally stumbled upon Taiwan’s annual Lantern Festival!
From all the delicious food and exotic culture to Bangkok’s fun nightlife, there are many reasons why Thailand will forever remain at the top of my list for one of my favorite places visited. I loved getting to care for elephants in an elephant sanctuary and learned just how playful these gentle giants are.
While I had an amazing time in Laos hiking to majestic waterfalls, inner tubing through caves and kayaking down a river; I’ll remember one thing about this trip most of all: getting horrible food poisoning after eating the street food!
Cambodia is a beautiful country filled with some of the kindest people. Unfortunately, it has such a dark (and recent!) history. I’ll never forget learning and visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and killing fields.
A trip that sparked another vacation romance. Except for this time, it would be with the man I would eventually marry. I met my (now ex-husband) on a yacht tour that sailed through the Mediterranean Sea for a week. We visited the coast of Turkey and hopped around the Greek Islands, and had an unforgettable time.
We stayed in contact after this trip and held a long-distance relationship for a while before he eventually moved to California to live with me.
Spent New Year’s Eve in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. While there, got incredibly sick with a sinus infection and UTI, dealt with canceled flights trying to get from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, and got scammed by a taxi driver, resulting in us having to walk across the Nicaragua and Costa Rica border. Phew, what a trip.
Despite still being incredibly sick, I still had a great time and met some incredible people in Costa Rica.
I traveled around Croatia for about a week exploring Dubrovnik, Split, and many of the national parks. Croatia is such a beautiful country that I hope to go back to one day!
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, was iconic. I dedicated an entire blog post about it here.
I spent 3 weeks backpacking around the Philippines, and it quickly became the most breathtaking country I had ever visited. Three weeks didn’t even scratch the surface of what this country offers, so I hope to come back for another visit soon.
Sailing down Ha Long Bay was another bucket list activity I can happily say has been checked off! Vietnam is a vastly underrated country- its nature and landscapes is something out of a fairytale!
I went to Aruba to live like a beach bum for a week. I also wanted to hike around the island and test out my new drone. Unfortunately, I crashed it into the ocean on the first day of the trip. Luckily I was able to swim out and retrieve it, but it left me with one waterlogged drone and one hell of a story!
Just one visit to Puerto Rico wasn’t enough! So for my 29th birthday, I decided to go back to explore some more of the diverse island.
In February of 2020, my partner and I took a cruise to the Bahamas. During this trip, he asked me to marry him. I said yes!
Shortly after, the world shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic. Having no idea how long the world was going to be on pause, we continued to plan a wedding in the hopes that it would be resolved by October (the date we picked). Boy, were we wrong! We decided to get married anyways, with just 10 of our closest friends and family by our sides.
In retrospect, even though this marriage didn’t last, I don’t regret it. I learned a lot about myself during this time and forced myself to heal and grow from the trauma I endured during the two years we were married. Maybe one day, I’ll write an entire post about how I escaped narcissistic abuse.
Antsy from being on lockdown for two years, I decided to start 2022 with a bang and head to Peru! Here is where I hiked the Inca Trail to the iconic Machu Picchu and also spent three days living in the Amazon Jungle alongside the monkeys and jaguars.
With this country came huge changes in my personal life.
I left the states feeling like my life was in shambles. I had just gotten into (another) fight with my husband, whose road rage had gotten so out of control I feared for my safety. When telling him to slow down, he looked at me with eyes of hatred and proceeded to shout horrible profanities.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t abnormal in our marriage. I spent years being called a “worthless b*tch” that I actually started believing it. I felt so trapped and lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore. No one knew what was happening behind closed doors – I hid it so well.
I spent the first day in Lisbon alone in my hotel room, feeling confused and lost. I eventually ventured out to do a pub crawl, which resulted in me drinking away my sorrows. At one point, I got so drunk I frankly didn’t care what happened to me. I wanted to forget. I wanted it all to go away.
I was incredibly thankful that the German friends I had met at the pubs called an Uber and got me safely back to my hotel.
That night, I dreamt my husband was having an affair. I had caught him in the act and was confronting him about it. I woke up in a panic, and when I told my husband about it, I was met with the typical gaslighting response I always got from him.
“Stop having stupid dreams like that.”
“Why would I cheat on you?”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you to question me.”
I spent the entire 10 days in Portugal questioning everything about my marriage. When I got home, I did what I never thought I would do as a trusting wife – I hacked my husband’s computer and cell phone. After all, my body was trying to tell me something, and I couldn’t ignore that feeling any longer.
Without even much effort, I found everything. Over a year of affairs with multiple women on multiple dating apps and social media accounts.
This was it. This was my ticket out of my emotionally abusive and manipulating marriage.
There’s a reason there have been no posts from me since August of this year. And this is why.
First trip as a newly divorced woman and feeling good! Despite everything I was going through, I decided to do something for myself and hit my 30th country right before my 30th birthday. I’m so glad I did, not just for the mere number, but it also felt like a fresh start as a newly empowered woman.
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