The Day Pass Travel Hack

So you’ve contacted me for a cheap vacation to wherever right? You want to save as much money on getting there and sleeping there right? You realize you may not be able to afford the 5-star hotel or resort on your budget, but you still feel like you SHOULD experience the finer things in life right?

Well I’m here to put you on for a travel hack I’ve been using since forever.

The Day Pass Travel Hack.

Last week on my Twitter page I had happened to mention I was planning for my upcoming trip to Antalya, Turkey. I’m there for nine days and tried to find a nice cheap place to stay for that duration, even though this specific city has a plethora of beautiful all-inclusive beachfront hotels/resorts as options. I didn’t go that route because 1) I’m not paying that much - 2) The purpose of me being there is to get my teeth done - 3) What’s the point of an all-inclusive when there might be days I may not be able to chew? Etc etc. But only because I can’t afford to be in one of those/don’t want to be in one for whole time, doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out there for ONE of my days. So I began sending e-mails to some of the nicest places I could see to inquire if they offered day pass options. (Hopefully they respond and say yes.)

This is how a whole thread on the usage of day passes came about. I realized with the interactions I got that not everyone has necessarily tapped into this simple travel hack. So here we are. Let me put mans on.

First of all, there are plenty of apps and sites nowadays for day pass options. I personally have never used one because I like dealing with the place directly via e-mail or in person, but just to name some:





So if you don’t want to take the leap and contact places directly, I guess try one of those. Again, I personally haven’t tried any of them myself so I have no feedback to give. Just here to provide information and options.

I will give you four examples of how this has worked out VERY WELL for my personal travel experiences and for the awesome fancy pants pictures you’ve seen on the blog.

Santiago de Cuba:

I’ve been going to this city since about 2012. It is my favourite place in all of Cuba, but it lacks something the rest of Cuba has an abundance of. Beach. There are some beaches nearby, but they aren’t the picturesque white sand images you usually see in Cuba and they’re kind of far via taxi. So how do you cool off in a busy city with no beach? Well your only option is either standing naked in front of your air conditioner or going to a pool. (I don’t judge either way, FYI)

For the three times I went to Santiago de Cuba, I would always stay in the same casa particular. This was basically a guest house a wonderful couple would rent out to me for $25 a night which had a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and they would also make me a fresh breakfast every morning. Unbeatable price. Down the street from where I’d stay was the Melia Santiago de Cuba. This hotel is impossible to miss with its tall frame and red paint. The cost of staying there for two nights would run you about $200. So to show you the math of that, $25 x 7 = $175.00…. what I’d pay for a week in my casa particular would be less than what the cost of two nights at the Melia were.

Now, the one thing the Melia had that was of use to me was a very nice pool to cool off in. There was a bar there, kitchen, numerous lounge chairs and a really attentive staff. For $10 CUC ($13.47 Canadian today) you would pick up a day pass at the front desk to be by that pool THE WHOLE DAY, aaaand it would include a whole pizza and two drinks!! Seriously. Is that not an amazing deal or what?

I capitalized on that deal at least 3/7 days I’d be in Santiago. I hope they still have it.

Views from the Melia pool…..

Views from the Melia pool…..


When I went to Bali back in 2016 I tried to do it on a pretty small-mediumish budget. My hotel for a whole week had come to about $215 and I loved being there because it was located in the center of Kuta where all the action was. Unfortunately, if you have ever seen the beach in Kuta it was somewhat lackluster and didn’t look as inviting to go swim at. Totally awesome place to hang out by and people watch, yes. Definitely do that if you are ever in Kuta, but when you’re in Bali you want some nice beach time as well you know?

The person at the front desk of the hotel I was staying in had mentioned he previously worked at this hotel/resort that had a really nice beach and that they offered day passes. I believe it use to be named something completely different, but when I was there this hotel was called The Hilton Bali, in Nusa Dua. The cost of staying there for two nights will cost you about $400. So again, the math, $215 for seven days at hotel I was staying at vs $1400 for a week at the Hilton. I refuse to spend that much money on an island that is as thrifty as Bali. But I did want that beach life.

I took a taxi down to Nusa Dua and spoke to the front desk. If my memory serves me right, the day pass was about $20 USD. ($26.94 Canadian today) Although their day pass didn’t include the food and drinks like the spot in Cuba did, it was worth the peace and quiet. The resort is beautiful, the staff is really nice and the beach was secluded. My favourite kind of beach. There was at least four different sized pools, numerous lounge chairs by the beach and you could help yourself to as many towels as you needed. Along with that, you could order food to your lounge chair!! So I had a burger and french fries served to me on the beach and just paid with cash.

The day pass was totally worth the chill day on a beautiful beach.

The Maldives:

This is where the SUPER DUPER pricey stuff usually is. We all think of getting to the Maldives and getting one of those sexy overwater villas we see on fantasy IG travel pages.

I went to the Maldives in December of 2017 with my best friend Sherry. We opted to stay on a ‘local’ island called Maafushi because we wanted to get a full experience of being around people from the Maldives just as much as relishing in the incredible beaches and views. Not to mention, have you seen the goddamn prices for those villas and for staying on the private islands? To hell with that. I don’t need liquor that much. The cost of our beautiful (beachfront) hotel on Maafushi was $495 per person (so $990 total) for six nights. Definitely a steal.

Naturally though, we did want to at least visit one of the super fancy resorts on a private island so we could fulfill the Maldives dream, if only for a day.

Our hotel (and many, if not most hotels on the local islands) offered various excursion packages/day passes to these private islands. After Sherry and I discussed it, we decided to go with The Olhuveli Beach & Spa resort. If you guys had seen this place? Oh my goodness.

It took about 30 minutes to get from Maafushi to Olhuveli via our hotels speed boat and from seeing the place as we arrived to exploring the island - complete paradise. Perfect white sand, places to drink, a beautiful infinity pool and just an overall idyllic setting.

Again, time for the math. For 6-nights at THIS place the cost for the cheapest room was $3004 total vs the $990 that Sherry and I had paid. This is for the CHEAPEST room, if you wanted like a fancy room or maybe the all-inclusive option it would be north of $5000.

Sherry and I each paid $125USD ($168.35 Canadian today) which included the roundtrip boat transfer and getting to be on this amazing island for about 7hrs.

Well worth the money to indulge for a day in a place that looks so perfect. I should also note, this day trip reaffirmed that we made the right decision to NOT stay for a week on a private island because it was all couples and families. Yawn.

St. Moritz:

If you’re ever in the mood for feeling broke - go to St. Moritz in Switzerland.

In December of 2018 I had made it to one of the places I had dreamed about for a long time. I took a day trip from Zurich (6hrs roundtrip) to get to St. Moritz. This is the place you think about when you’re young and wonder if you’ll ever be wealthy enough to finally see in person. I definitely was NOT wealthy enough to fully immerse myself to the depths that others may, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t take advantage of experiencing some part of it.

Prior to traveling to Switzerland I did my research on things to do in St. Moritz and this one spa kept coming up. The name of the hotel it is located in is Badrutt’s Palace and the name of the spa is Palace Wellness.

I will give you a second to go peruse the website to see the luxury of this place.

Okay, you good? Yeaah, you see what I mean right? So fancy pants.

The hotel I was staying in for the four nights I was in Zurich I believe came to about $300 total, which is a STEAL for Switzerland’s insane pricing and exchange rate compared to the Canadian dollar. So now, the math for this? ONE night in the cheapest room at Badrutt’s is $467 CHF which is $619.89 in Canadian. So very VERY simple math was that four nights in my hotel cost me 1/2 of ONE day at the hotel in St. Moritz. Remember what I said about being in the mood for feeling broke?

I got very lucky though. While doing my earlier research I found out the spa inside Badrutt’s offered day passes for $100 CHF ($132.74 Canadian today). I e-mailed the spa directly and asked if there was availability for the day I intended on coming and they got back to me the next day saying that they didn’t have many spa bookings so I would be more than welcome to use the day pass. YAY.

The pictures don’t even do the spa any justice. I realize they are pretty, but absolutely nothing can compare to exiting out of a pool indoors to go directly into an outdoor hot tub where you’re surrounded by the snow-covered Swiss Alps. Nothing. You get to use the pool the whole day, the hot tub, mingle with the actual super wealthy who are staying at the hotel and you can pay with your card and have food brought to the lounger you’re relaxing at with the touch of a button.

Spend the time to come here and get this day pass if you’re ever in Zurich or in any other part of Switzerland. You will not regret spending the $132.74 for a memory like this.

So there it is. Don’t pay lavish prices to stay somewhere that you could totally just go visit for a day at like 1/5th of the price of the stay. Before you go on any vacation, look up somewhere that might look like a fairy tale or dream you’ve once had and go make it a reality for a couple of hours or a day.

Although we may not be wealthy yet, doesn’t mean we can’t also enjoy the finer things sometimes. I’m super happy when I can find a cheap (safe + clean + well located) place to sleep for the duration of my trip. This leaves more money to eat all the yummy local food and get to experience places like I mentioned above. Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford actually staying at places like this, but let’s be serious, I’d probably still want a cheap spot to stay and just go visit 2-3 of these places for a day.

Do your research. Reach out to resorts/spas/hotels and find out if they offer day passes to whatever it is you’d like to see. Even super popular family places like Atlantis in the Bahamas and/or the naughty Hedonism in Jamaica offer day passes. Go live lavish on a budget, even if it’s for a day!

  • Mirna

Most Popular Travel Destinations for 2019

A smarty pants friend of mine (shout out to itsjustvanessa) gave me the idea that I should have a blog post about the hottest destinations for 2019 - based off the itinerary requests I was receiving. I don’t have the super duper tourism statistics like big companies do, however, because of the volume of personalized itineraries I do and what seems to be popular on my blog, I do have some idea of where folks are off to in 2019.

Do your 2019 travel plans align with any of the top five?

#5: Wynwood, Miami

I don’t know what it is with you artsy hippies, but boy do you love yourself some Wynwood. I’ve never even been to Miami but I do know if I want to see a lot of nice murals and cheaper stays (in comparison to South Beach) apparently I should make my way over to Wynwood.

There must have been at least one request a week this year where people were asking me for flights to Miami and places to stay specifically in Wynwood. I’m not exactly sure if the Art Basel event takes place in and around there as well, but that might also have something to do with it. So if you are planning to go there, you are obviously on trend.

Photo by  E. C. Crippen  on  Unsplash

#4: Da Nang, Vietnam

This is one of those place I really wanted to go visit because of how nice their beaches looked and also, the great costs of being there. But in 2018 the city of Da Nang added something so incredible, it seems to have really boosted the rate of tourism.

The ‘Golden Bridge’ that opened in June is the current main attraction and booooyyyy is it working. Last year I maybe had 2-3 itinerary requests specifically for Vietnam and that number really skyrocketed this year. I guess the influx of pretty pictures and YouTube videos of this bridge really increased traffic, both for the city and in my request forms.

An example of a 2019 itinerary I had posted on the blog was Toronto to Singapore & Da Nang for under $1500.00 per person which can be found here.

Photo by  Reuters/Kham  - August 1st, 2018

Photo by Reuters/Kham - August 1st, 2018

#3: Santorini, Greece

I went to Santorini in 2015, yes, BEFORE RICK ROSS HAD A SONG ABOUT IT. Kidding, who gives a shit when I was there. What matters is, in 2019 people are still fawning over the island of Santorini and nowhere else in Europe came with THIS many requests to travel to it.

The funny thing was in the middle of 2018, people started to post a lot of their own pictures in Santorini. To the point that social media turned on those posting and began calling Santorini ‘overrated’ or just being jerks because obviously, they never got to experience such an enchanting place. I took advantage of the situation and amidst all the bullshit posted a Toronto to Paris and Santorini Trip for under $1500.00 per person which can be found here. I felt that if I could show people that you can get to Santorini for a damn fine price, maybe people would travel there more and understand what the obsession with the place is. Plus, capitalizing off a social media topic is ALWAYS a win, amirite?

That specific post ended up being one of the most popular posts I’ve ever had on the blog. People were very interested in going to see Santorini for themselves and for a good price. I must have done 2-3 itinerary requests per week that included Santorini in 2018.

So if you are planning Santorini for 2019, you are well on trend. (even if people want to talk shit about it)

Photo by  Tom Grimbert  on  Unsplash

#2: Bali, Indonesia

Let’s talk about Bali.

This island is on MANY people’s bucket list destinations, whether from when they watched Eat, Pray, Love or just because they see the influx of amazing photos that come from there on their IG feed.

I went to Bali for my 30th birthday back in 2016 and I have been telling people to go visit from timeeee. I tell so many people to visit Bali that just last week I made my own Things to Do In Bali post because once people finally do choose to go, they want to know what activities to do.

Bali is expensive to get to (from Toronto) but if you can find a good flight? Oh man. Once you get there you feel like royalty. The Canadian dollar kind of sucks so anywhere we can go and actually enjoy some benefit to the exchange rate, I would highly encourage going.

Recently I posted an itinerary that was Toronto to Bali for $1500.00 per person with all flights and stays included, that you can find here. Aside from that post, I easily get 5-10 personalized requests for Bali-related travel from all across USA and Canada every week.

Get going, once you’re in Bali your soul will feel better.

Photo by  Aron Visuals  on  Unsplash

#1: Jamaica

This was the only place I didn’t put a specific city for, because….. THE WHOLE ISLAND IS FRIGGING POPULAR for 2019.

I posted an itinerary for Jamaica Dream Weekend 2019, shit went viral. (Negril)

I posted the costs associated with traveling to Carnival in Jamaica AND a Carnival in Jamaica 2019 itinerary, they’re both in top FIVE for Google searches related to Carnival there. (Kingston)

I should also add for this, I myself was in Jamaica for carnival earlier this year and posted my recap here.

My throwback post about My Trip to Hedonism as a Single Woman is the #1 most visited blog post on my site that gets traffic from literally everywhere in the world constantly. (Negril)

And finally, the continuous requests I get for people wanting solo trips, baecations or group trips to Montego Bay made Jamaica easily the most popular destination for 2019 on my end.

Recently, I had even posted a one-week baecation Toronto to Montego Bay for $750.00 per person that you can find here. It was very very popular.

Whether you’re planning to skin out in Kingston for Carnival, get up to some shenanigans in Negril at Hedo or just relax in Mobay - I probably had a request about it this year. Over and over these requests came in and I’m happy to do them because Jamaica is a super fun place, they have delicious food and they have excellent music. Why wouldn’t you want to go?

Furthermore, now that the new low-cost carrier Swoop has roundtrip flights from Hamilton to Montego Bay sometimes for under $350.00? I bet I’ll be finding even cheaper deals for all.

So there you have it, my top 5 most popular travel destinations for 2019 based off what I experienced with my blog.

I hope many of you go to some/all of these places in 2019 (or even after, just go!)

The form to request personalized itineraries will be back up on my contact page starting January 7th, 2019 - I’ll be back in full swing helping all of you find good deals to travel to all these destinations and wherever else you’d like to go. (Just please, no all inclusive requests)

Happy travels!

  • Mirna

Things To Do In Bali

I realize there are probably a MILLION pieces online for what folks think you should do while you’re in Bali. Look, I’m about to be 1,000,001 OK?

Because I plan SO MANY Bali itineraries I get asked frequently what I would suggest people do while visiting Bali, so instead of me having to send screenshots and links every single time, putting it in a blog post made the most sense. So here goes nothing, I hope I manage to steer you in the correct/fun direction. Everything listed below is something I actually did during my trip, so it isn’t hearsay or second-hand knowledge. I did this shit, and would suggest you do some of it too.

(Note: I tried to include as many descriptions and links to stuff as I could! So click around.)

Tanah Lot at Sunset

If you do absolutely nothing else, make sure you catch the sunset views at Tanah Lot. There will be at least another thousand people there with you so don’t expect much romanticism or mystique - but you will love it nonetheless. This temple looks unreal in person! Sometimes the water comes up really high and you can’t walk too close to it, but other times I saw people trying to walk/swim as close to it as they could for the perfect picture.

Spend the Day at Potato Head

This is the activity I did for my 30th birthday back in 2016. I literally spent the ENTIRE day here. What you do is show up at 9am and pick the cabana you want on their map. Once you do that you are given a little wooden ticket and have to come back at 10am when they open to enter your cabana. There are also choices for lounging chairs by the pool etc. I opted for the cabana because obviously I wanted to go all out for my birthday.

The minimum spend on the cabana was $1,000,000 Rupiah which converted to $100.00 Canadian. So to have the cabana for the whole day, I had to eat/drink $100 worth alone? Very easy. Very very easy. Embarrassingly easy. The cabana is awesome and you should definitely splurge on it. You have your own shade, towels, pillows and there’s a man with an AK-47 next to it guarding your stuff while you go swim. So quaint.

I really had an awesome time spending the whole day at Potato Head because you get to meet so many people from everywhere in the world that are looking to party, as well as getting enough relaxation by the pool and beach while profusely drunk and full of delicious food. Make sure if you can’t go early to get the cabana, that you still make it later in the day to at least get a drink and watch the sunset. Awesome day spent.

Visit the Rice Fields in Ubud

I truly hope the day YOU do this it isn’t 42 degrees outside like it was for me. The rice fields in Ubud are a must-do when in Bali because your eyes will thank you and you could potentially work off some of the food and liquor you’ve ingested while doing this activity.

The cost of a driver for an entire day in Bali is usually between $35-$40 and you should have the person get you to these rice fields at some point during this day. Make sure you wear some very comfortable running shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty because if you intend on going up and down on these hills, the mud and lack of traction are a bitch. The day I was visiting the rice fields was blistering hot outside so also make sure to wear a hat and a lot of sunscreen since there is no where to shelter yourself from the sun.

If Ubud is too much out of your way (depending on where you choose to stay in Bali) this website has an awesome list of other places in Bali to see the rice fields!

Spa. Spa. Spa.

My biggest regret from being in Bali was not going to the spa EVERY SINGLE DAY. The cost of going to a spa in Toronto for one hour won’t be under $100.00 at the very minimum. But in Bali? I spent almost 2 1/2 hours there for $35.00. THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS. I got a 45 minute neck/scalp massage, a 30 minute facial and a 60 minute full body massage. The spa I went to was in central Kuta and the name of it was Smart Day Spa. Recently, two of my fellow travelers took my advice and went there while in Bali also and enjoyed it just as much as I did. Not only is the service cheap, the spa is really calming and nice to be in. Don’t expect that you’re walking into some musty place with sketchy people! Make sure you hit the spa in Bali.

Take a Day Trip to Neighbouring Nusa Lembongan

One of the things people won’t tell you about Bali is that their waters are no frigging joke. To swim there you’d better be a hell of a swimmer or really into surfing. I consider myself a pretty good swimmer and even with that, when the undercurrent on the Balinese beaches hits you?? Yep, suddenly you’re 20 meters out into the sea. It happens so quickly and for someone who is more accustomed to the tranquil waters of the Caribbean, there is no wading in the water to chill. You better swim for your life! (kidding, little over exaggerated)

This is where I would really recommend a day trip to Nusa Lembongan. It is a really small island but the beaches are very clean and tranquil. You can take a walk around town where they sell beautiful shawls made on the island by hand or you can just hang out at the beach. This island was definitely the more chill version of Bali, it was like Tulum where all you saw was hipsters and surfer dudes/ladies wandering around. When I went to Lembongan there was an excursion that had a party in the middle of the water and a canoe that would bring you over to the island as well and I think it maybe cost $125.00 for all of it.

Get a Day-Pass Somewhere Private: The Hilton

I love day passes to places. It’s like you get the experience of that location, without having to pay the full price of staying there as a guest overnight. This is how I made my way to The Hilton Bali.

There are probably dozens of high-end hotels/resorts you can get day passes to in Bali but I happened to stumble onto The Hilton because the owner of the villa I was staying in told me he used to work there and that it was worth the $20.00 charge. Sure. Twenty bucks will do.

This ended up being a really good place to relax all day because majority of the people at the beach were 60+ year old foreigners without kids that just wanted to tan. You pay the fee for the day pass and get to use their pools, get your lounge chair on the beach and access to their change rooms with towels etc. I especially loved that even though I wasn’t a guest of the hotel, I could order food to my lounge chair on the beach and just pay with my debit card for it. (or cash)

Try the Coffee and Tea

I do not drink coffee nor do I drink tea. Figured I’d get that out of the way before beginning this section. The only time I drink tea is when I’m horribly sick and coffee? The smell of it alone makes me a little nauseated. HOWEVER, whether you like or do not like them - you have to try and make it to these coffee/tea plantations where the stuff is made super fresh.

Fun fact - the most expensive coffee in the world is actually Kopi Luwak Coffee which is big business in Bali. Basically, this animal called a civet (super cute, you get to see them on the plantations) eats coffee beans and then poops them out to become, yep, the world’s most expensive coffee. Now I know you’re wondering wtf is wrong with me, but trust me, you have to try it. I tasted EVERY tea and coffee on the menu you see in the picture below (yes, they have you try a sip of all of them) and it was the first time in my life there was a coffee I enjoyed the taste of. I even bought a whole bag of it, Coconut Coffee.

Splurge at Kisik or Rock Bar: Ayana Resort

If you are about spoiling yourself, this part is for you. The food in Bali is very cheap so there is really no need for you to go to this place, but naturally, I am extra AF so I had to do it.

I took myself out on a $200 date in Bali. Now, that is the equivalent to $2,000,000 in Rupiah. Most of my meals were under $8.00 until this point, just for comparison. Sometimes you have to spoil yourself and do fancy things right?

While researching my trip to Bali I had read about this place called the Ayana Resort. I believe the cheapest room there per night is $300.00, meanwhile MY hotel cost $300.00 for a whole week. Crazy right? But there were two awesome bars/restaurants on the grounds of this resort calling out to me to visit.

One is called Rock Bar and from my understanding it is seating for only hotel guests. I had my eyes on their other restaurant called Kisik. I made a reservation a month ahead for seating at this restaurant because they fill up very fast because of their incredible views, and incredible food.

I ate a seafood skewer, I drank and also bought a whole lobster to myself. In the picture below you will see they even had my name on the table because I told them it was my birthday week so I felt extra special. Fresh seafood and an awesome view at sunset, there truly was nothing more perfect. I did have a small heart attack when my bill came but it was also expected, kind of.

Make sure if you choose to go to Kisik to make a reservation for around sunset, get there early so you can wander around the Ayana resort and definitely walk over to Rock Bar to take pictures as soon as you finish your dinner. Splurge a little on yourself, you already made it all the way to Bali right?

Trust me, Bali has so many activities and incredible things to do that you will never ever be bored there. This list of mine didn’t even touch the surface of all the beautiful places you could go see in Bali that I didn’t even have time to make it to. (I.E: Broken Beach in Nusa Penida, Mount Batur, Mount Agung and of course the Uluwatu Temple) There’s just so many things you can fit into your itinerary while there because one of the best parts of being in Bali is - RELAXATION.

I hope those of you reading this make it to Bali one day and get to do some of the aforementioned activities. If you have been to Bali before and think there are other MUST DO activities or sights for Bali newbies to try, please make sure to leave it in the comments!

  • Mirna

Group Travel Checklist - Should I Travel With These People?

Here you are wondering to yourself if you should embark on a trip with 10 people to Thailand for a wedding or maybe to carnival in Rio. You aren’t comfortable traveling alone, but you’re also unsure about the weirdos you call your friends and their reliability.

I’ve made this checklist just for you! If the people/person you intend on traveling with (regardless of how many of them there is) can pass this checklist - you’re cleared for take off. Now I understand this check list won’t be perfect science, bullshit happens ALL the time on trips that you just can’t foresee. Also, I didn’t give this checklist an actual number of items to discuss, because I began writing it and just things kept popping into my head. I truly do believe this list will REALLY make you think about who you are going with and make your decision much more straightforward.

  • Does this person have a solid source of income?

    • Not here to insult those who may not be gainfully employed, not at all. But if this person is a ‘oh shit forgot my wallet’ type or someone who isn’t consistent with their actual bill payments, this ain’t the one. Drop them. If they can’t take their bills seriously, they sure as hell won’t take this trip seriously.

      • Special mention to those who are also cheap. There’s people who DO have a very good, steady job but won’t spend a cent on living it up a little on vacation. If you are the ‘YOLO IM ON VACAY’ type of spender, and the other person is frugal Freddy, this probably won’t work.

  • Does this person arrive on time for group outings?

    • I realize this will offend some of the people who are (undoubtedly) good people but just bad with time. Trust me, don’t travel with those either. The last thing you need is Tommy Toolate making the whole group miss an activity because he was hungover and you were all too nice and waited for him.

  • Is this person a scammer?

    • Don’t do it. You don’t want to find out at the gate that the credit card used to purchase their flight was owned by Henry Connor the 3rd but it’s Rachel Smith that’s somehow on the flight with you. You don’t want to get to your destination country and suddenly ALL those credit cards in hand have been cut off because the actual owner(s) of them caught on and now your travel partner has no funds.

  • Can you be near this person without feeling a murderous rage for an extended period of time?

    • I realize some folks travel with people out of availability, not necessarily because they WANT to travel with them. Folks are afraid of traveling alone and whatnot. You really have to think to yourself if this person is someone you will not want to kill. Traveling is already taxing on GOOD relationships. When there are delays, lost bags, you’ve been in transit for 40+ hrs etc. So now, think about the person(s) you chose to go at this with very carefully.

    • Also, to add to this one - when it comes to personalities make sure you’re choosing someone/a group of people who is/are either very much like you so you can do everything together OR is/are nothing like you but has/have a strong sense of independence. You definitely do not want someone who doesn’t have similar interests as you accompanying you to shit they don’t want to do and you have to listen to them complain whole time. You want someone who can be independent and feels comfortable going off to do their own thing as well.

  • How is this persons hygiene?

    • I know, I know - this not the most comfortable conversation to have with yourself nonetheless with another person. But seriously, do you want to travel with Tamara Toostink? Hygiene is a big deal in a travel partner because you do not want to be stuck next to someone who bathes twice a week in a hot-climate country for a 15-hr direct flight home. Also, in your hotel/AirBnB room this will be the most unpleasant of situations for someone who is a clean freak. Now, if both of you smelly I guess this might work out. But if you are someone who takes pride in washing your bushy parts regularly, I would REALLY advise against traveling with someone who avoids bathing like I avoid middle seats in an airplane.

  • Food. Food. Food.

    • Are you a squid in its own ink broth eater? Or maybe you like chicken fingers and fries only? You see how this could end up being an issue right? If you are someone who absolutely loves to eat anything and everything but your travel companion won’t step out of the foreign McDonald’s - this could cause a lot of shitty situations. I also mean, literally, shitty. Because if you are traveling with someone who has a very weak stomach or even might have a seafood allergy etc. Oh boy. Obviously this one isn’t a complete deal breaker, but you really should consider that you may not ever have a meal together in a seafood restaurant because they may have a severe allergy OR that you may be stuck bringing your yummy kebabs off the street into the local Pizza Hut to appease your travel buddy.

  • How is this person with cultures/people/places different than theirs?

    • This one falls perfectly after food, because a big part of experiencing other peoples culture is enjoying their food.

    • There’s no nice way to say this, but is your travel partner some country bumpkin that might embarrass you or a whole nationality/race when you get there? There’s always an A for effort to those people who are trying to get out and explore the world so that they can be exposed to different types of people, languages and cultures. However, are they ACTUALLY about that life? When I was at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, my friend and I watched a pale European woman make fun of and pretend to make her eyes different to match a statue of Buddha. That’s frigging disgusting. Also, we watched countless women at the Mosque in Abu Dhabi be told over and over again to cover their hair. Is this really the kind of people you want to be with when you travel? I would personally die of second-hand-embarrassment being associated with someone who behaves like that.

  • Does this person have a substance abuse issue?

    • Another very uncomfortable conversation to have. This is no way meant to demean those who have drug or alcohol abuse issues, I hope all of you get help for those issues. However, big big HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you should bring those people on trips with you while they’re still in full abuse mode. People who abuse alcohol at an all-inclusive resort might actually drink themselves into oblivion. Or imagine at carnival? All those all-inclusive fetes or playing mas in the hot sun with all that liquor on the road. Do you want to be with someone who will drink over their capacity and you’re now finding them almost getting run over by the big truck? Or they’re so sick, you have to now LEAVE playing mas (that you paid a lot of money for) to take them home and care for them? Fuck that. Moving on to drugs, I mean smoking a little bit of weed in Jamaica or Amsterdam won’t really cause you too much issue. When you get into places like Bali or shit, even maybe Vegas? Don’t be out with the person who will be doing lines of coke off the toilets in Vegas. Even worse, don’t be with the person who will do hardcore drugs in Bali and now they end up in jail for life because they had meth on them.

  • What is their relationship status?

    • Oooooh spicy time! Let’s talk about what you might have to consider when it comes to both SINGLE people and TAKEN people on vacation.

      • Single People: Honestly, is this person going to be Battry Betty on your trip? Obviously plenty single people travel just fine and don’t bring back their shenanigans to your hotel, but what if this person does? You go to a club and your travel buddy picked up some foreign girl and brought her back to your hotel, she crazy, now she has stolen your damn passport and your toiletries. I realize this is a little wild, but seriously. If the person you are traveling with is single, you probably should find out what (who?) they’re trying to get into while you’re vacationing. You might be single and just NOT want to participate in any shenanigans, while your travel partner thinks he’s running his own brothel.

      • Taken People: I’ve had worse experiences traveling with those who have a significant other, than those who are single. That’s just speaking for myself, but holy shit does that come with its own set of problems. Is the girl you’re traveling with going to argue with her man the ENTIRE GODDAMN TRIP? You leaving for Egypt for two weeks, right before you leave, her man pisses her off. Guess what that flight, the whole trip, all activities etc. gonna look like now for you? Now you’re stuck with Miserable Mindy for the whooooooooole trip just because she is CHOOSING to argue with a man who is six time zones away. There are plenty boyfriends and girlfriends who will intentionally start arguments with their s/o that is going on a trip without them, just to ensure they are miserable and therefore, do not cheat or DARE NOT have a good time without them present. (stupid, I know) But sadly, this WILL become your problem as the person on the trip with them. Be sure they’re in a stable relationship situation or just know how to ignore people a million time zones away while traveling.

  • Is this person FUN?

    • This one might seem kind of silly, but seriously, are you really going to have a good time with this person/group of people? It doesn’t matter how well prepared, smart, reliable etc. someone is - will you actually have a bomb ass time with them on this trip? There are some people who are super hype for a trip, have their money right and everything but then when you get to your location they are just lame and boring or want to stay in the hotel on Twitter or watching Netflix. Why the hell did you even come on the trip then? Booerns. There are vacations that are meant for relaxation, absolutely, but if you planned out a whole fun trip with someone and they might end up being homebody Harry the whole time, you really could have just gone alone.

(Special mention: People who will take good pictures of you for IG, definitely take with you. People who know how to swim if you don’t, definitely take with you. Nurses, always take nurses with you. Definitely don’t take vegans anywhere. People who know how to shut the fuck up, definitely take with you.)

Whatever you do - stick with your gut when it comes to anyone you will travel with. That’s really the most basic tip to give. I wrote a post before on How to Travel In a Group and Still Remain Friends, because even the best of friends can have problems while on road. All of these weird logistics and factors are also the reason I prefer to travel alone, although I am fortunate to have fun and reliable friends.

I really hope this either made you laugh, offended you or maybe even (by some miracle) helped you with some group trip you were contemplating. You can put in the comments below what are some of your red or green flags when choosing to travel with people!

  • Mirna

RIP to the Entertainment District, I Miss You

I was walking through Liberty Village yesterday on my way to the Eaton Center and all I could think about was ‘holy shit this is a lot of condos!’ I feel like all of us downtown dwellers think about this regularly. It probably also extends to those who live outside of Toronto, those who once upon a time enjoyed the fruitful spoils of the Entertainment District in downtown Toronto.

When I was younger my friends and I would drive from Hamilton to Toronto on any given Friday or Saturday (even Sundays) to find a good party in the Entertainment District. You wouldn’t even need to have a specific club in mind because one stroll up Richmond St. would lead to encounters with dozens of promoters trying to get you into THEIR club.

This definitely is no longer the case. I can’t even tell you the last time someone spoke to me on Richmond St. A while ago I read this piece that was in Toronto Life discussing the ten signs of the death of the Entertainment District. Not only is that area dead, it’s basically in the Good Place with Kristin Bell trying to decided how the hell it got there. Yes, the answer is gentrification. Sure is.

I miss dancing. I miss dance clubs. I especially miss Fluid and Kool Haus. I understand that Kool Haus isn’t even in the Entertainment District, but I had to shout it out real quick. The amount of amazing fetes I went to there and in the entire Guvernment Complex are epic EPIC memories in my mind.

Maybe I am showing my age? Perhaps the younger people enjoy the stuck-up King West bars where people spend more time on Snapchat than dancing. Where a bottle costs 1/3 of your monthly rent (if you live outside Toronto, of course). This really didn’t use to be my reality. During my clubbing times I was in the musical epicenter of Gully v Gaza clashes and you wouldn’t step into ONE downtown nightclub without hearing some remnants of that. Remember when dancehall use to play downtown? HA. I mean gunman chunes, not One Dance. This is not a drag of Drake, I like him and his music, but which song are we truly throwing a gun finger to for him? OK.

If you walk by now all you hear is fuckboy music lite playing everywhere. Again, not a slight against the actual artists, but everyone from Toronto knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s that Weeknd-PND-Whoeverthehellispopularrightnow type mix. The Bay Street millennials who can afford the bottle but can’t keep beat. The guys commuting in from Woodbridge who absolutely cannot wait to jump on a couch at a club in their spikey kicks, because you damn well know their mom not allowing that shit at home. The girls who not there to dance, they’re just there to screwface but smile and turn up the second a camera is on them to prove to their IG fans how FUN and not cunty they are.

I miss Circa. I miss Fluid. I miss Seven. Shit I’ll even go as far to say I miss Frequency and Wetbar, minus the violence at the former. At least people in those clubs danced, felt free, the music was amazing and if you had bottle service no one even gave a shit because you still were dancing.

Everywhere I use to party is basically a pinch condo now. How do you bring in MORE young people to downtown but make partying less available? To go to a decent party now would require a minimum of a $30 Uber ride one way. As people came in from the suburbs, the clubs went out there. What a damn shame.

SOOOO far gone are the amazing Sunday nights you would listen to Spexx and/or Dr. Jay while you’re driving into Toronto that would get you hype as shit for the night you were about to have. Those were some of the most fun times in my life.

I’m happy we still have boat rides downtown, but obviously that is very limited to only summertime in Toronto which literally lasts a second here.

It’s crazy I was a bouncer for five years in this city and just watched it burn to shit right in front of me. Less and less dancing, more and more posing, and yes, condos. There’s a genuine sadness about it because I feel like although I am lucky enough to have experienced it, the missing of it sucks pretty bad. It’s one of those, ‘is it better to have clubbed and lost, or to have never clubbed at all?’

I am sad. RIP to the Entertainment District.

  • Mirna

I Wish I Could Be More Like The People I Love

You ever look around at the people you love and be like, 'wow, ______ is so good at _______, I wish I had more of that in me?'

This happens to me regularly. I've been blessed to (now) have a solid foundation of humans around me that I love dearly. They all do have things in common also; loyal, good looking, smart, hard working and hilarious - but, this is about what makes them different and so much better. 

I do have a LARGE support system around me that extends past these seven people, and I appreciate the rest of them greatly too. I've been fortunate enough to have good taste in people for 95% of the time, I think. These seven have things I see in them that I admire and wish I could copy and paste to my own personality and behaviours. Yes, people can change, but what they possess I just don't see happening in my personal future. #LuckyNumber7

I wish I could be more like my dad.

There have been many nights where something I have nothing to do with keeps me up at night even though, again, it has nothing to do with me. I worry about things that really shouldn't concern me and that is probably why I have had gray hair since I was 17. My incapability to just 'drop it' when it comes to worry is ridiculous and has cost me a lot of sleep and happiness. This is where I wish I could be more like my dad. His ability to just not worry or care about much is remarkable. I truly believe he could see a car accident and sleep just fine that night. I know he cares about me and my mom, but aside from that? He has these emotions made of steel that clearly were not passed down to me. If I even had 10% of that stoic personality, I'd sleep better at night.

I wish I could be more like my mom.

I could write a whole blog post just on this one. As an only child I realize there will always be some selfishness to my personality. I admit it and I move accordingly. Because I am an only child my whole life has been about me and me alone. Now imagine someone whose whole life has been about just being selfless? That is my mom. Not only did she grow up helping take care of my aunt in her earlier years, she also had this fat bundle of joy (me) about 31 years ago. My mom would do anything for me and does do anything for me. I try to be a good kid and not abuse that privilege, but the depth of love my mom has for me is some next level stuff. I guess because I'm not a parent and I don't plan on being one, I won't ever understand how someone can be so devoted to another human being. I mean yeah, my dad is important too, but when it comes to me I genuinely believe my mom would go to the ends of the earth to keep me happy. Absolutely no where in my personality do I have this kind of selflessness. No where. I wouldn't say I'm entirely selfish but...... I mean, the idea of 24/7 availability to help someone else because I love them THAT much? I don't know about that still. This woman took me through some real bullshit in Bosnia to come to Canada and made sure I'd still imagine I had an OK childhood and work hard to have a better adulthood. The world would be a better place is there was mom's like mine everywhere.

I wish I could be more like my boyfriend.

This person, out of all seven, is going to hate their paragraph the most. Why? Because he doesn't like to be acknowledged for anything he does. He thinks he's regular, but I think he's exceptional. I was a bouncer for all those years and I still can't stomach conflict. If I see two people arguing that I know, I want to crawl up in a ball and hide. Physical altercations I have no issues breaking up, but to be involved in outright arguments? You can miss me with that. It makes me really uncomfortable witnessing conflict like that. This is where some piece of Mark's personality would suit me very well. He is 100% about that life, whatever that life may be. If someone begins an argument, he will argue with you until you can't speak anymore. If someone begins a fight, he will fight until he knows you're not an issue anymore. Mark lacks fakeness. There is nothing fake about him. I try to play peacemaker in all situations and it keeps backfiring, while Mark is the 'alright lets war then and get this over with.' He is perfectly fine with conflict, sometimes I actually think it entertains him. I wish I could be more like him in just saying whatever I feel all the time so even though it creates instant conflict, at least there's no confusion long term. 

I wish I could be more like Jummy.

People push that whole, 'forgiveness isn't about the other person, it's about you' bullshit and I'm not with it. I hold grudges and I hold them forever. It isn't that I necessarily wish any ill on the person who wronged me, I just pretend they're dead. Simple. This also makes me a bit of a hot-head and I react outlandishly to situations that didn't require my blood pressure rising. This is where my best friend Jummy is an idol of mine. She is the most calm and forgiving person I have ever met. She doesn't hold grudges (although, that doesn't mean she forgets the fuckery) and she doesn't let herself get worked up over nothing. She is always the first person to tell me to let things go because she is able to do so in her kind soul. If there was any way for me to have some of Jummy's ability to not hold grudges, I'd probably be a nicer person overall. But....... God (and Jummy) forgive, I don't. She's going to read this and disagree, but I DON'T CARE OKAY? Jummy exemplifies what the Bible talks about in just being a good person and understanding people make mistakes. 

I wish I could be more like Sherry.

I would like to start this with: little people are crazy. Okay, now that we got that out of the way - I am really a pansy compared to my friend Sherry. She is literally half my size in height and weight but you'd never know it by her personality. I think what draws me into people like her and Mark is their ability to sort out the bullshit when it comes at them accordingly. I wish I could be more like Sherry because she literally gives NO FUCKS if people like her or not. The Sherry I know is loving, sarcastic and hard working but the Sherry she shows to people can be off-putting and mean because she really doesn't want to deal with anyone's nonsense. I like that she is someone that makes it known that you don't want to cross her. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that if she doesn't want you near her, you just won't be there. I love that someone who might be the biggest hoodman I know is also someone who is a great friend to me. 

I wish I could be more like Lorren.

Ever known someone who just might be able to tell the future? You should probably meet Lorren. I'd like to think I have an 'OK' bullshit meter about people but Lorren I think has a whole frigging formula she developed at home for this. While Mark and Sherry are swift with getting rid of bullshit, Lorren forecasts said bullshit coming. In the years I have been her friend, if she said she had a bad feeling about someone it literally showed itself within a short period of time. She has the most amazing gut feelings about people that she shouldn't waste her time on. I'm kind of pathetic when it comes to 'give people a chance' - eventually I'll learn not everyone deserves chances. See, Lorren doesn't even let people get to the stage of fucking up with her, she already knew to keep you at a distance as soon as you made yourself known. My gut feeling always protected me from violence when I was a bouncer, but if I had some of that impeccable bullshit meter that Lorren has it would better protect me from the waste friends that come around too. 

I wish I could be more like Darren.

So I try to be a peacemaker - but you ever seen a warlord try to do peace talks? I know that I can be difficult, mixup and stubborn when it comes to peoples drama and yes, I DO TAKE SIDES. This is where a friend like Darren would be wonderful to share some of his personality. He is the epitome of 'I am Switzerland' when it comes to drama and conflict among friends. You have to have the one friend who remains unbiased in certain topics that arise. Yes, it cheeses you because you're like 'NOOOOOOOOOOOO DONT YOU SEE I'M RIGHT?' but it's for the best that you have someone who also tells you that even though you're right, the situation may not be. The calming effect that Darren has when you go talk to him is uncanny. You can be revved up and ready to go throw a complete tantrum and he will just tell you to settle down and explain how else to go about the situation. I wish I could be more like him because while people like me sometimes add gasoline to a fire, he is the blanket that puts the fire out. 

- Mirna

Catching Flights vs. Catching Feelings

'I don't catch feelings, I catch flights' - quote under an IG pic by someone who is about to fly from Toronto to Wyoming for their grandmothers Knitting Expo.

I realize I'm being a tad bit facetious (tad), but come on guys. Well, I mean, if you do catch flights and not feelings then you wouldn't feel any way about this blog post then correct? Splendid.

The reason this quote always makes me laugh is that people that don't actually travel frequently have no clue that traveling is ALL about catching feelings. Although they may not be the romantic type, which I assume this quote usually alludes to, they are still feelings. 

The feeling of saving enough money to book a trip? Joy.

The feeling of booking a error-fare flight? Orgasmic.

The feeling of finding your hotel in a perfect location, with perfect reviews and a perfect price? Elation.

And no, traveling and catching flights isn't always those positive feelings either......

The feeling of missing your connecting flight? Anguish + Anxiety.

The feeling of your 'perfect' AirBnB cancelling on you two days before you arrive? Torment.

The feeling of missing a good price on a flight? Heartbreak.

Travel is all feelings and maybe a couple of flights. That is the whole point, how traveling makes you feel. The same reason we rather have experiences instead of material things is because we want to keep those memories forever to revisit the feelings of a certain trip. The same reason we take pictures (okay, like, 50% flexing) is so that on those shitty days at work we can look at those pictures and remember how we felt on that beach or at that museum etc.

You should be catching both, feelings and flights. Only difference is, one of those is insurable and the other isn't.

Happy Travel Tuesday!

- Mirna 



Being Humble is Overrated

I said what I said. This is definitely a rant.

I'm not sure what people's obsession in North America is with being humble. All I ever hear about is 'be humble', 'I hope someone humbles them' or 'always stay humble'. HUMBLE FOR WHAT? Are you the damn humble police? That is some damn nonsense. 

People who tell you to humble yourselves only do so because they feel inferior or insecure in their existence, and don't you ever forget that. You think Michael Jordan was humble? Tom Brady? Zlatan Ibrahimovic? If you work hard at school, work, on your body, on your mind etc. YASSSS SHOW OFFF!!!!!

You know why folks want you to be humble? Because it makes them uncomfortable that someone is out here being loud and proud of their accomplishments. This obsession with trying to remain humble so that you may not offend others is stupid. The hell should I be humble for?

Now, don't get me wrong, there are people who are just naturally humble and do not want to brag about anything they do and keep it low - they are more than entitled to do that. It is their choice. Just like they can be humble, the rest of us can be loud and braggadocios. That is the point, you should be able to be either or. Never hear someone saying. 'wow, someone needs to arrogantize that person!' (I made up a word, that's how annoyed I am)

Also, please stop with the 'humble brag' nonsense. Pick a damn side, ain't no HALF-WAY humble/bragging. Even the humble brag is people trying to silence their greatness in fears of retaliation for those who have nothing going for them. Don't do this disservice to yourself and your greatness. 

If you worked hard and got a promotion - KUDOS!

If you went to the gym and worked your ass off to get losses/gains - AYEEEE!

If you finished your degree finally - WALK IT LIKE YOU TALK IT! 

I'm here to tell you that I love all of you who loudly exalt your successes. There is so much damn negativity out here that seeing those who boost themselves makes me so proud. Because guess what? If you're not your biggest fan, who will be?

I always get some bullshit for being loudly in love with myself and everything I accomplish, especially with travel. But you weren't with me working these damn 70 hour weeks were you? You didn't do these damn overnights. NIZE IT. 

My mom and I had a whole conversation about being arrogant and how I feel that myself and my fellow Bosnians are pretty damn arrogant. She said to me, 'after all the bullshit the people and the country have been through, I rather they be arrogant and proud than lowly and sad.' My mom, the philosopher. 

I had a coworker who always described people he liked as, 'hes a good dude, so humble'. That was the main trait of admiration for any person we worked with. Guess I knew where I stood....yikes.

This culture of humbleness is also the reason a lot of you go to interviews and when they ask 'so what are the best traits you posses or can bring to this company?' you freeze - you are not accustomed to saying nice things about yourself. I bet you had your answer for 'what are the negatives about you?' ready though huh? 

I need all of you to love yourselves more. I don't care if that is quietly or loudly but do it how YOU feel is best. If humble works for you, then go be great and humble. If arrogance works for you, then go be great an arrogant. The whole point is - go be great and show off your accomplishments how you see fit and not how society wants it.

- Mirna 



My Problem With 'Suffering' Tourism

Whether you call it dark tourism/grief tourism (tourism directed to places that are identified with death and suffering) or thanatourism (personification of death, refers more specifically to peaceful death) - I need to know what the hell draws you to it?

I'm going to call it suffering tourism because you are going out of your way to be a tourist in places where suffering took/takes place. Now, I do understand there is no place in this world where suffering hasn't taken place. That I fully grasp. But going there to experience these things as an outsider who wants to FEEL immersed in it? Are you sick fam? 

Recently there was an article on Twitter posted about a war hostel in Sarajevo. The title of this article drew me in pretty quickly, 'Recreating death for a living: Inside Bosnia's War Hostel'. 

What? Šta? Co? Qué? Quoi? क्या? Ano?

The only way to explain my 'what the fuckness??' was in like seven different languages. 

So I went along and read the article and yes, it was exactly what I thought. This place offers an immersive experience 'where visitors get a taste of daily life in a warzone.' I'm not even sure where I can begin to tell you how I feel about this. I've read the article like four times now and I'm still wondering what the hell is wrong with people. In the article the person who owns the hostel says they offer it so that people can learn what happens when '...people get divided into us and them.' They can't go read a book? They don't have Google? You need to tell me, the only way for people to understand divisive politics that lead to genocide is to pay money and pretend they were us during the worst times in our lives? 

*refer back to the seven languages of WHAT?! above*

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I had done an itinerary for carnival in Brazil and went wandering into activities and tours one could do while in Rio. There was a nice option for a visit to the Christ the Redeemer statue and some hang gliding, awesome. Then I saw something called 'Tour of the Favelas'. I'm there reading this description and it's saying something along the lines of it is a RESPECTABLE tour of some favela in Rio. 

If you don't know what a favela is, it is basically the hood area in Brazil. The disproportionately low-income and high-crime area. When my Brazilian friends tell me about going to Brazil, this is exactly the area they tell me to stay away from. Tours? So, you're going to do what? Walk by and look at the poor people like they're circus acts? What is it that could possibly make you want to pay money to go observe these people? Nah. I don't see anything respectable about that.

My friend Kenya was Tweeting along with me the other day about this topic, she was saying how she has no interest in going to old prisons, asylums, Auschwitz or Elmina castle in Ghana. I felt that. Accurate representation of how I also feel about places with such horrific histories.

However, this is one important part I would like to add in right now. Those who are of certain diasporas wanting to go to these places in researching their OWN history? That is not the same as suffering tourism. Those of the Jewish faith visiting Auschwitz makes sense. Black people in USA, Canada, Caribbean etc. wanting to go visit Elmina castle in Ghana makes sense. 

As a Bosnian refugee I have zero interest in visiting a damn war hostel in Sarajevo. Granted, that isn't necessarily my history as I was fully alive and present for the war in Bosnia. I'm good on all that, I don't need to feel, see or experience that shit. That is actually my life. 

I had also seen that there is a tour in Sarajevo that takes you into the underground tunnels that were made by the army to get around the city while there was snipers outside. I.... Ok. No thanks, again.

When I told my mom about these things she said it all has to do with money. If people can somehow make money off any aspect of tourism, they will. Some people are 'history buffs' (I'm using this term VERY loosely) and want to be immersed. You an anthropologist?

Few weeks ago there was an article I came across from a journalist describing his trip to (I believe) it was Auschwitz as well. He was saying how it was crazy going to a place with such a sordid history but the tourists there just running around eating their snacks and taking selfies by the gas chambers. That does not sit well with me. I want no part.

Why wouldn't you travel to places in search of times of jubilation? Happiness? If you are going to Carnival somewhere, why aren't you educating yourself about that aspect of your trip? Why do you need to go to a favela tour if you're in Rio or a plantation tour if you're in Barbados? Is that absolutely necessary for you to experience?    

The best way I could explain it to some of you is by using what happened a week ago today in Toronto. The monster who decided to kill a group of innocent people at Yonge and Finch.

Imagine if two months, two years, two decades (whatever) from now - someone decided to make a 'Van Massacre in Toronto Tour' Taking tourists from other countries to see and IMMERSE themselves in one of the worst days this city has ever experienced.

How would you feel if someone was offering 'Residential School System Experience' as a tour? Given we know the horrific things that the native population in Canada went through in those buildings. Would make me sick.

So I ask some of you who clearly don't accept books, school or Google as being ENOUGH for your learning of history, why? If it wouldn't be acceptable in showcasing the tragedies in Canada for profit, why is it OK for you to go see it everywhere else?

- Mirna 


It Could Always Be Worse

Don't you love it when your life is in shambles and someone tells you, 'it could always be worse?'

I hate that nonsense. I consider myself someone who tries their best to remain positive through the bullshit so when I hear people saying things like that I have to side-eye them a little bit. 

Those moments happen a lot to me. Everyone knows that feeling of when something shitty happens to you and you spiral down the rabbit hole of unhappiness thinking of all the other shitty things in your life. Have to think to yourself like yeah it could always be worse, but shit, it could always be better too no?

I'm plagued with being an empath when it comes to people and situations that have nothing to do with me. I will watch the news, see an armed conflict somewhere happening and not be able to sleep because it eats at me inside. No doubt this has something to do with my own childhood experience in a war torn country, which I wrote about before here.  

Sometimes I think to myself like, 'wow, we only get one life and why the hell did my life have to involve being a refugee?'

And then I go to, 'nah, shut up Mirna, your mom and dad have it worse at least you grew up in Canada.'

Which then leads to, 'You're being ridiculous Mirna, think about all the people who didn't make it out - stop feeling sorry for yourself!'

That is how my thought process goes unfortunately. I tell MYSELF regularly how much worse things could be. I attribute some parts of my positive personality to knowing exactly how much worse it could be for me. I try to think about how different my life would have been if I was still back in Bosnia, I think about things that anger me in terms of 'five years from now, am I gonna be pissed I even spent time thinking about this bullshit?' 

Most of the situations or people currently angering you or stressing you out might not even be something/one you think of in five years. Heck, might not even in five months. Try not to get yourself worked up (like some of us do) because in the long run you are just doing a number on your psyche. 

The way I look at travel can even be related to the title of this post. There are countries I probably could have traveled to 5-10 years ago that now have conflict and I may not get to ever see. There are places that I never went to that have now been devastated by natural disasters and will never be the same. I travel as much as I can when I can, because the reality is politics and natural disasters can ruin countries quicker than I ruin a pillowcase after I dye my hair. 

It could always be worse, yes, it could fucking be OK? But let us focus on that it isn't and that you still have to sort out whatever situation you are currently in to the best of your ability. 

I'm not here to tell you that everything will work out because the unfortunate reality is sometimes you lose people, you lose money and you lose opportunities. There will be times in your life where every damn thing feels like you're taking an L. But you know what? Don't let anyone tell you it could always be worse - think about how you can make it better. It isn't always how you fall down, it is how you recover after said fall.

Happy Monday everyone.

- Mirna 

Safe Travels! My Top 5 Safe Destinations For Women to Travel Alone

Bet some of you REALLY sick of waiting on others to get their shit together so you can travel right? I know those ones still. So now you're in this situation like, 'can I go there alone? am I going to be safe? is my self-imposed curfew going to be when the street light turn on?' 

Relax. I got you. I've been traveling alone for almost 12 years now and I've managed to make it out in one piece. 

The first thing I will mention before going into this list is, if you are sick of your friends trying to get their funds together, get time off work etc. etc. etc. I made a blog post with a manifesto on how to go about traveling alone that you can read here. Also, I made a whole post about your biggest tool when traveling alone (and it can definitely apply to groups as well) - trusting your gut while traveling

Now let's get into this list! 

All five weren't necessarily somewhere I did travel to alone, however, I would definitely return to them alone at any given time.

#5: Somewhere super close, CHICAGO!

Before you start with the nonsensical media-only-fueled notions of Chicago - zip it. The amount of times I have endured the 'omg you're going to Chiraq?' questioning is ridiculous at this point. I love Chicago. I have traveled there with a friend, I have traveled there alone twice and I love the place so much I even brought my boyfriend there last year for his 30th birthday. Not a single person I know that has actually stepped a foot in Chicago had anything negative to say about it. (Minus my friend Martha, who didn't like Harold's chicken. Disgrace.)

I found the mid-westerners to be incredibly nice and cordial. There was a couple of occasions where I was staring down at my Google-maps directions and a stranger would come up to me on the street and ask me if I'm lost and then offer their own directions. In the bars and restaurants I found locals to be really welcoming and nice to talk to. When I was at some breakfast place near my AirBnB two years ago for the NFL Draft, one of the servers sparked a conversation about NFL with me. I ended up sitting there for an extra hour with three other patrons AND that servers just talking NFL. 

Do not let the media dictate your opinions of Chicago. Go there, eat some pizza, go to the million sports events they have, go walk down the Magnificent Mile, make some friends at the bars (or on Tinder?) and yes, go to the South Side to get some Harold's Chicken with mild sauce. Heck, lay down on a glass floor and have other tourists take pictures of you on it like I did in the header for this piece. 

#4: Somewhere super friendly, ST. MAARTEN!

This is the only place on this list that I didn't travel to alone. I mean, the second I find a cheap flight back there I would gladly go there alone ASAP. This island was warm, fun and you just felt really good being there.

Between the really nice staff at every establishment we went to eat or drink at, to the amazing drivers and just overall friendly locals - I can't imagine a friendlier place. When I saw 'The Friendly Island' as a licence place I was like OKAAAAAAAAAAAY this is the place for me. As soon as my friend Lorren and I landed in St. Maarten one of the first cab drivers we had was so friendly and hospitable that when he found out if was my birthday the next day, he offered us a free ride to and from the nightclub we were going to. NO charge. When we went out the following day, he was there to pick us up and also to drop us off. Just as a kind gesture to some tourists.

Also, we made a friend on the beach in Philipsburg who was so cool he actually gave us a tour of the entire island (French + Dutch), got us into a nightclub for free, oh, and did I mention? Randomly let me drive his car because 'you said you didn't know how, so figured it's a good time to learn.'  

Would be back on that island as soon as I can. The generosity and hospitality there is nothing like I have ever seen before. Well, except for my #1 place if you keep reading :). 

#3: Somewhere super touristy, CROATIA!

I guess for this country I would be a little biased, having spent a lot of time during my childhood there and having family that still lives there. But how could you not love and feel completely safe in a place like Croatia? It's incredible there.

For any woman trying to enjoy beaches (ALL BILLIONS OF THEM IN CROATIA it feels like), get good food and just mingle with nice locals and tourists alike - Croatia is your spot. I've been to Croatia alone and although I'm fluent in the native language there, English would have been perfectly fine as well. The place has become a tourist haven so everyone speaks English, along with, German, French, Italian.... it is totally normal to meet people in the service industry in Croatia who speak 5+ languages. 

Croatia is so safe that they have nude beaches. Yes, you could go full buck nekkid and no one will even blink an eye at it. As someone coming from the suffocating censorship and body issues of the North American continent ESPECIALLY, you will feel liberated in Croatia. All body types and ages prance around on some of the nude beaches. Living the good life, no tan lines.

#2: Somewhere hella far, SINGAPORE!

I went to Singapore alone and was out wandering the streets at 2am on Christmas, drunk and eating tacos. What else do you need to know? Can a place possibly feel ANY safer than that? 

Singapore is the cleanest city I have ever seen. From their airport, to the transit system and to their incredible downtown waterfront. Doesn't matter what time of day it is, there is young people everywhere walking around and enjoying life. Not bothering anyone and in fact, asking you to join in THEIR shenanigans instead. There was just so much to do as a lone traveler in Singapore that it almost felt like they were catering to my Snapchat feed. Everything was impressive. Everything was beautiful. Everywhere felt safe.

I wouldn't suggest chewing gum or spitting on their streets if you'd like to keep your sense of safety, but otherwise it is a great place to roam alone. Just remember when you go to bring lots of money as the cleanliness and luxury you feel in that city definitely will cost you more.

#1: Somewhere exceptionally hospitable, CUBA!

My favourite place.

I have been to Cuba on numerous occasions with family, a boyfriend and alone. This is by far the country I feel safest in when visiting. From the people I made friends with there, to the staff at various resorts and casa particulars, to even the customs agents at the airport. For an overall sense of being welcome and safe - Cuba tops all the countries I've been to.

When I would travel to Santiago de Cuba alone, I would be out at all hours of the night. On several occasions I would ask the motorcycle taxi drivers to give me a ride into the center way past midnight. I would sit in a bar alone and just people watch from 1am to 3-4am in the center. I loved those moments. 

I realize some women complain about Cuba not feeling safe for them because of the men giving them too much attention. For me personally, I don't mind the attention. I've learned to block it out. It just never bothered me as much as it does other people and I am not here to tell them how to feel. I just know that not one man that ever whistled or yelled 'que linda!' at me ever took it past that point. Whether I was out in the market, at a baseball game, at a nightclub or on a beach. I always feel safe when I am in Cuba.  If you are a woman trying to embark on your first solo trip - this would be an awesome place to start. 

Tell me readers, what country did you feel safest in? Leave a comment.

- Mirna

I Worked in A Swingers Club for Two Years

There was a lot of thought put into if I wanted to post this piece. It may be 2018 but the taboo over certain things still lingers around all of us. I'm here wondering what my current job, future jobs etc. will think if they were to read this piece. It's strange that although you worked somewhere and did not actually participate in the activities - the more conservative types would definitely feel uncomfortable with my previous work space. 

While trying to get my degree at the University of Toronto, I worked many jobs. Living in the downtown core is a bitch because well, rent. Rent is hiiiiigh. I was going to school full time, trying to get good grades and at any given point was working at least 2-3 jobs. I was bouncing at Bier Markt or at Crocodile Rock or at the Rockpile. I was part-time at Foot Locker. Then, I also became security at a swingers club. 

The thing that attracts you to bouncing is getting paid cash, plus, with school during the week - nighttime work on weekends is bless. Unfortunately, with bouncing comes certain dangers and an overall possibility of physical harm at any given moment. 

I had written about my experience going to Hedonism in Jamaica and after returning from that trip I had seen an opening to work as a bartender at a swingers club near where I lived. Perfect! I am cute, I know customer service, this is close, I get along with swingers just fine. Yessss.

Well, I was a really shitty bartender. My short-term memory is awful and the idea of talking to people without being able to leave bothers me. This swingers club became more and more busy and with the popularity of their 'singles night' there was security needed. Finally, MY TIME TO SHINE.

Those dangers I had mentioned earlier with bouncing were not a thing at the swingers club. Not at all. In two years of working there, I never once felt unsafe. Let me tell you, naked people don't want to fight anyone. Think about the logistics of the situation. Would you, fully unclothed, want to risk the chance of being tossed out on Jarvis St. like that? Unlikely. 

I loved working there. I could socialize, make sure everyone was having a safe and fun time - plus EVERY bouncer has incredible industry stories but I feel like with two years at the swingers club, mine definitely are a little wilder.

People have misconceptions about what happens at swingers clubs. I use to get a range of questions like;

Do you have to have sex there? - No, forcing someone to have sex is absolutely never a thing. It's more of a 'choose your own adventure' like a Goosebumps books. Most of the patrons were either nudists or maybe wanted to go swimming and get no tan lines. No one forces you to do anything in there that you don't want to do.

What do you mean people have sex there? - Uh, yeah?

Will there be hoes? - N/A

Is it clean? - There are sanitary wipes everywhere along with towels that literally EVERYONE lays down before proceeding to get into any fornicating. 

Does your mother know you do this? - Yes, she knew the whole time. In fact she came to the swingers club during the day once to see what it looked like and make sure I was in a safe space.

I bet only weirdos and gross people go there right? - From judges, to police officers, to housewives, R&B stars, you name it - we had them. I'm not sure what folks consider weird.

If I pay cover, will I get a girl? - Go to a brothel fam, this is NOT one of those.

There are so many wild interpretations of what goes on at swingers clubs that at one point I had made a video to explain what to do and NOT do in there on YouTube. It got so many views, but then I took it down because I always thought having worked there other employers wouldn't hire me in the future. 

Maybe my paranoia is accurate and maybe it isn't. At one of my other security jobs a coworker had told me, "Make sure no one here learns you worked at a swingers club, they'll think you're a whore." Dead serious. A man really said that to my face. Comments like that hit pretty hard because although that person might just be a jackass who deserved the wickedest uppercut, maybe he isn't alone in his thinking. 

I don't ever regret working at a swingers club. I learned a lot there about human interaction and relationships overall. My coworkers were amazing, the patrons were awesome and I got to make money for my schooling. Because guess what? Yes, many college and university students take on WHATEVER jobs they can get to make money to afford the high cost of schooling and overall high living costs in the city. Also, I think while working there and regularly tweeting about it, some younger people took a leap and went to check it out as well. Anyone who has been to a swingers club will tell you the demographic is more people in their 40s-50s-60s. I'd like to think that when I was educating and telling more people in their 20s about it, they became interested and checked it out too. Because the answer to most things in life is educating people instead of judging them, so they are no longer ignorant to whatever the topic may be.

So here I am, telling you I worked in a swingers club for two years. Make what you want of it - just know I am definitely not ashamed. And if you ever have questions about going to one, my DMs on Twitter are always open to discussion. 

- Mirna 


Traveling While in A Relationship

"How does your man deal with you leaving so often?"

"My girl could never!"

"You know the shit girls do on their lil' girl trips!"

Oh, men and their opinions on your traveling. Been there, had that. As someone who travels as much as I possibly can - some of these comments and questions come up regularly in my life/on my Twitter page. 

When I was single and going on dates with various men, my love of travel would always come up in the conversations. Travel is a big part of my life and if someone wants to get to know me, they'll know I often will just book a flight to go somewhere and leave for a long weekend or a week or Christmas etc. My lifestyle would not work for an insecure man who can't even leave his girlfriend to go pee alone in a bathroom, clearly. 

While it seems men get to use being well-traveled as a bonus in their dating repertoire, it kind of seemed to do the opposite for me. Not all men, but MANY men are not cool with their girlfriend doing things without them. Yikes. Stay far away from those.

I've been fortunate enough that the men I did choose to actually date are cool as heck with my travel goals. It really couldn't have gone any other way. If it is between travel and a boyfriend I rather spread the pages in my passport than spread my le.... well, you get it. 

The thought of a man trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with my traveling gives me gas pain. I was traveling before these men and I will do so while with them and after them. It is one of my loves. (along with food and the NFL) I go on girls trips to Europe, I go to Carnival and attend soca fetes and I travel alone to the NFL Draft. That's me.

It is totally possible to find a man who is A-OK with your travel habits. My ex was cool with it and my current boyfriend is as well. I take the greatest amount of satisfaction when my boyfriend actually travels with me, but I also take the same satisfaction in him not being weird about when I travel alone or with my girls. I'm really happy with that. 

Travel requires a lot of trust with it, and if someone doesn't trust you in the confines of your relationships they sure as HELL won't trust you flying somewhere without them. Also, to the men, if you ever worry about your girl doing dumb shit like cheating while she travels then perhaps that is NOT the girl for you? I assure you, she was waste way before she got on that flight. 

- Mirna 

A Post for The Women; #InternationalWomensDay

First and foremost, I want to wish all of you reading this post the most incredible International Women's Day.

Not even sure what I was going to write in this piece but as a travel blogger, suppose it should be something about women and traveling. We sure do travel a lot eh? We go on group trips, we travel on baecations with our significant others, we travel with our families and we also travel alone. Imagine? We earn less than our male counterparts, yet (in my life) it seems the women travel more. We are less safe traveling alone, yet again, it seems we still do it a lot. 

We should travel.

We should see how women elsewhere live, survive, maintain.

We should be safe while doing it in groups or alone.

I want you all to keep doing what you're doing and enjoy every minute of it. In some parts of the world women aren't even allowed to go outside to the grocery alone alone - but you are capable of earning your money, saving your money, getting a passport and flying to see destinations some people can only dream of. I want you to do this. I wish everyone was able to do this. Women should take every opportunity to go explore because I don't trust the world enough to think we will always have this privilege. I probably watched too much of The Handmaids Tale and have become paranoid in my early 30's, but you really never know. 

Historically everyone just wants to control our bodies, our movements etc. While you have freedom, you should be capitalizing on it. I also happen to know someone who can help you plan for a trip when you're ready :)

On this International Women's Day take a moment to think about how lucky you are to be where you are and to where you have traveled to. Think about all your goals and plans. Also, be proud of yourself because you are strong, work hard and get shit done. 

- Mirna 



Stop Being Beg

I'm starting to believe some of you have no shame. Like, did your parents not teach you independence?

This culture of beggatry is really starting to get on my nerves. Between the Begatrons and the Begckies - I don't know which one is worse. Every time I just pray people are joking but they are dead ass serious.

Someone will post, 'went to Cheesecake Factory today!' and some beggar will automatically respond with 'no invite?' 

Someone else will post, 'can't wait for this party at X house!' and some beggar will go message X about 'no invite?'

Or, my favourite, when you post a travel plan and suddenly 3-4 people on some 'can I join?' tip.

Do people not realize if someone wanted you there, they would have included you from the jump? Perhaps they want to do something alone, or with a significant other or with close friends. None of that pertained to you. Like, at ANY point. So when whole adults proceed to be beggy for people to invite them to stuff, I always side-eye it. That is really strange to me.

Everyone is grown and has their own plans and goals. Not everyone is invited along for that ride and that's fine. Don't put people in an awkward position and guilt them into inviting you somewhere, don't do that. It has gotten so bad that I was telling my best friend Jummy the other day for my travel plans I won't even mention them unless I already have a ticket to said place booked. Because I'm not sure where people come off asking me to tag along if I didn't ask them to nor know them particularly well. 

Whether it is house parties or travel, people have to realize those are intimate experiences/places for some and you don't just go inviting yourself along. If you didn't get invited, just hold your peace. Can't say I have ever seen another person talk about their birthday dinner or travel plans and been tempted to be like 'OH SO NO INVITE? OKAY OKAY!'

You are hurting WAAY too loud kids. Stop it. 

I won't even get on the topic of the romantic beggatry because I am currently taken and that has nothing to do with me. Just know - I see that nonsense too. You could just ask folks on dates instead of 'NO INVITE?' them to death when they say they took a shower. Weirdos.

What's even worse is that those who never speak to you nor engage you socially at ANY other time always want to come along to your adventures suddenly. That's strange too. Oh, now I exist? That's interesting. Good to know.

Please, stop being beg. Have some pride and go make your own fun.

- Mirna 


Why Toronto is The Greatest City in The World

"It's too expensive."

"The transit sucks."

"People are mean."


I believe Toronto is the greatest city in the world and no one can tell me otherwise. Although I understand where people from New York and Los Angeles are coming from - you're just not us stillllll. We don't have Donald Trump as our leader bean and we also have universal health care, thank God. I know Montreal and Vancouver are also going to try and chime in but like, 1) Quebec & Religion (enough said) and 2) Do they even have fetes in Vancouver? Do you have NBA teams? Oh. You don't. 

This post wasn't made to put others down though, this was to boost about why Toronto is awesome because I feel in the winter we temporarily forget that. 

The sheer arrogance of Toronto makes my heart warm. As someone who is also arrogant, I couldn't imagine being in any other place. I made a short list of 10 things I really like about where I live. There is definitely many MANY more reason but since I am a true millennial Torontonian, who has time to write all that between two jobs to afford where I live? 

  1. We have MLB, NBA, MLS and NHL teams in the city. No other Canadian cities have all of that going on, so boom, we already superior. (yes, we also have a CFL team but as a devout Tiger-Cats fan, I'm not even going to get into that)

  2. The smorgasbord of different foods available to us at ungodly hours is never ending.

  3. Fete after Fete after Fete. You'd better believe there is a soca fete to attend every weekend at any time of year. Summertime is even better because there is boat rides to go to nonstop so you can jones and wukkup while looking at our awesome skyline.

  4. Our slang is the most ridiculous, obnoxious and brilliant thing all at the same time. When someone asks how many languages you speak 'Toronto Hoodman' should be listed in that.

  5. Along with the different foods available regularly, the insane amount of food festivals during summer is a marvel in itself. One weekend you are at Jerk Fest and the next you are at Salsa on St. Clair or downing some gyros at Taste of the Danforth.

  6. Caribana. We have the biggest street festival in North America EVERY year showcasing our biggest treasure. (see #7)

  7. Toronto Women. I feel like I don't really need to explain this one - if you've visited here, you already know you can't walk five feet without seeing a 10. Now imagine Caribana, where there is thousands of 10's everywhere dancing? Bet.

  8. I realize I would get some side-eye for this one, but Toronto men as well. I love our Toronto men because who else will understand you when you're at your FULL Toronto Hoodman talks? After a while it gets annoying explaining to your American bae what 'nize' and 'cyattie' are.

  9. Although we may be a bit brash (as per most people living in a Metropolis) I really do believe we still have that super Canadian kindness to visitors. The constant 'I'm Sorry!' when walking into people proves it enough as well.

  10. We are the most multicultural city in the world, as per the BBC Radio. (TAKE THAT LONDON!)

What do you love most about Toronto? Let me know in the comments!

- Mirna 

Tips for UAE and Maldives

I'm one of those people who LIVES on message boards and reads everything I possibly can about places I am about to travel to before I get there. Preparedness, I find, keeps me out of unnecessary situations when traveling. For my recent trip to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Maldives I read up on the rules, laws and other touristy stuff. I even made a whole blog post asking people to help me with their tips for traveling to the UAE along with a financial breakdown for those wondering how much all of this would cost. 

Even after ALL of that? There was some things that caught me completely off guard once I landed that I don't think these message boards explained well or were just very vague about. I've fallen down the rabbit hole of Tripadvisor reviews and message boards but it can be pretty confusing and not definitive at times. I wanted to just tell everyone some of the things that I was either surprised by or not prepared for. 


The first surprise we were in for was the taxes at the hotels on food. My goodness. I swear to you, EVERYTHING had like a 22% tax on it. I wish I had taken better notes of it but it was something along the lines of a 10% tourist tax, another 10% property tax and I can't really remember what the other 2% was. Now imagine? Our breakfast was already a walloping $35 per person or drinks were $10 per person, now add 22% tax to ALL of that. This is a necessary piece of information for all of you to know because adding almost 1/4th + tip to everything when you go eating and drinking can really add up.  

On the topic of eating, the food prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were really ridiculous. I'm sure that there are cheap eats somewhere in those cities, however, we would have needed to taxi or Uber to those locations which would defeat the whole purpose of trying to save money. There were moments we would go into restaurants and wonder how it was possible the appetizer and the main course were only a $3 difference? Makes no damn sense to me. Luckily, Maldives had very fresh food that was much much cheaper in comparison to our spots in the UAE.


Note that there is no Uber in Abu Dhabi but there is Uber in Dubai. I did read that somewhere in the message boards but I figured I would include that here because it may save you some time and headaches knowing beforehand. The nice thing about Abu Dhabi's taxi services is that they are heavily regulated and they all had Wi-Fi inside. And when I say regulated - the taxi drivers dashboard would begin making a noise if the he went above a certain speed limit 'YOU ARE GOING ABOVE THE SPEED LIMIT. YOU ARE GOING ABOVE THE SPEED LIMIT. PLEASE SLOW DOWN'! Imagine that being a thing in Toronto or NY the way our cabbies drive? No chance.

In Dubai, all the Ubers we got were either a BMW or Lexus (that's basic Uber, not even Uber Black) and yes, they do have UberCHOPPER there as well just in case you want to fly over the traffic. Wild. Do note that there are now designated Uber pickup locations in Dubai so you can't just be picked up everywhere and anywhere like we can here in Toronto. In places like Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall there are two or three areas where they are allowed to pick you up or otherwise face a fine. 

On the topic of transportation, I would highly recommend using the bus between the two cities that only takes about 90 minutes and costs $9.00 (Canadian) one way. There is no need to pay all that money for a taxi to bring you from Abu Dhabi to Dubai or vice versa when these buses are safe, they have reclining seats and are well air conditioned. I was pleasantly surprised.


Dubai airport is the busiest place I have ever seen. When they tell you to be there two hours early, please do listen to them. I suppose because we flew from there on Christmas Eve maybe it was a little extra busy but I wouldn't risk it there. There are people yelling across the room everywhere and even some standing on the conveyor belts to push the massive cargo going through. Also, be prepared that in some parts of the airport there are still just squat toilets. Wish I had known that before wearing a romper.

On the other side of this spectrum was the main airport in the Maldives. We were told that during the holiday season the recommended time to arrive was three hours before departure. I am so happy we did NOT listen to that. This airport is very small and there is nothing to do there, so if we had sat there for three hours? Our journey home would have felt even longer than the 40hrs it already was going to take. We arrived at the airport about 45min before boarding and still had time to spare. Maybe everyone else listened to that three hours before nonsense and that is why there was no lineups, I'm not sure. I just know we arrived and were blessaz.     


I was completely unaware of how dense the fog in Abu Dhabi and Dubai was. Wowzers. I just assumed these were hot places with nice weather all the time and the occasional sandstorm. There was some mornings in Dubai we couldn't see our own hotel if we looked up, that is how dense the fog is. When you book activities like going up to the Burj Khalifa or doing the Dining In The Sky, this fog situation is really important because it can make the experience not as awesome as it should be. 

Probably the most VAGUE thing I read about was clothing in the UAE. Everyone is full of shit. I'm just going to tell you that from the jump. I'm not saying you should be out there in pum pum shorts and a crop top, but seriously, it is NOWHERE as strict as some people try to make you believe. When we got to Dubai I threw on a backless maxi dress and not a single soul screwed up their face at me at all. Everywhere had tourists walking around in shorts and tank tops just fine. I could have brought ALL my thottie dresses to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and gone to the club without any disturbance. So please, bring your thottie dresses to go out at night - no one cares.

My one final piece of information that kept coming up with others when talking about this trip was that many people are unaware about the liquor laws in UAE and in Maldives. In my experience there, drinking in Abu Dhabi and Dubai went great. We were inebriated in Abu Dhabi twice in one day and in Dubai we were able to drink by the pool as well. Not saying you should get publicly intoxicated or expect wine and beer to be served in restaurants - but it is definitely accessible. Now the Maldives? Ah. We stayed on a local island not a private one. Note that on these local islands there is NO LIQUOR. It is completely dry. No liquor at the restaurant and no liquor at your hotel. I believe it is even illegal to bring liquor in your checked-in luggage to the Maldives. (I'd do some research on that one) The private islands are the ones that have access to alcohol so if you are trying to go on your honeymoon and get wine lusty, local islands are NOT for you.

If you feel to add any other tidbits that you think people traveling to UAE and Maldives should know, just comment below this post. I'd love to read your tips as well!

- Mirna 


What Constitutes A 'Visited Country?'

I have been pondering over this for a long time now. It has come up in my conversations with fellow travelers and with randoms on Twitter. I also talked about it with my mom and then with some of my friends. I looked it up on Google..... nope, still no consensus on the topic.

WTF do you count as a 'visited country' when telling people where you've been to? 

This seems to be the equivalent of asking the NFL what a catch is. (shade, SHAAADE) No, but seriously, the variety in answers to my proposed question was pretty wild. Due to colonization and just the general makeup of overseer countries and their holdings abroad - deciding what to count in your numbers of places visited seems to be really complicated.

I wrote a blog post before titled 'The First Twenty Five Countries' reminiscing on the places I had been to. It was stupid listing that I had been to France and Britain. Why? Because I had NEVER stepped a foot into either country. However, I had been to St. Barts (French) and Anguilla (British). I am ashamed to say that I initially got my 'what is a country?' info from the U.S. State Department page. On their page, neither Anguilla nor St. Barts are listed as an actual country, they are listed under the 'Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty' page. Okay, so I was politically correct saying that I had been to France and Britain because I had entered one of their foreign dependencies. I still don't feel correct saying it. 

Then I stumbled upon the 'Travelers Century Club' which is a social organization representing world travelers who have visited 100 or more of the world's countries and territories'. You catch that last word? TERRITORIES. For their members, they counted territories as places visited. I was thrilled. Therefore, Anguilla, St. Maarten and St. Barts were now to be a part of my total and I would remove France and Britain. This was all fine and dandy until I actually looked at this clubs' OFFICIAL alphabetical list of countries and territories. A total of 325. What? There are only like 195 countries in the world, how did they get 325 even WITH territories? So I read their official list.

Gems I found:

- Bosnia is separated from Herzegovina 

- Trinidad is separated from Tobago

- St. Maarten is separated from St. Martin 

- Puerto Rico is separated from the United States

- Bali is separated from Indonesia 

How the f....??? Come on now. I don't need to pad my stats so bad to separate actual countries into pieces. If this is how people get to their century marks, I want NO part of it. I don't travel to boost any number, I just travel because I enjoy doing it.

I asked my boyfriend about what he thinks constitutes a country visited and he said to me, 'I don't travel that much but it seems these numbers are just used to boost peoples egos.' Thanks honey. 

The only conclusion I have come to is that it really will differ from person to person. For me, I think it is ridiculous to go to somewhere like Bermuda (NOT on the State Dept. list of countries) and be like 'yeah so I visited England basically.' Nah. That doesn't work for me at all. These places have their own culture and way of life, so British, how? 

Therefore I changed my # of countries from 28 to 29. I removed England and France from the list and instead listed St. Maarten, Anguilla and St. Barts. I guess this may not be politically correct, but anyone who knows me personally would say I've never been one to be politically correct anyways.

Let me know your opinions in the comments!

- Mirna 

Culture Shock: First Year of Being in My 30s

I turn 31 tomorrow. December 16. 

I really looked forward to turning 30 last year, I thought it would come with some cool experiences and insta-maturity or some shit. False.

My first year of being in my 30s was a never ending hodgepodge of people around me being weird or disappointing. From the moment I turned 30 in 2016, people began to show either true colours or new colours, I'm unsure yet. I'm unsure about a lot.

I enter my second year of my 30s in a constant state of unsure. 

I'm unsure where a lot of my relationships in the past year took a nosedive. I'm unsure what my job will be by the end of 2018 because alas, I am still working in a contract position. I'm unsure what many peoples true feelings about me even are. I don't know if I hit 30 and magically some filter came off my brain and I was better-able to see people as they are or folks just took their masks off.

Fortunately, with the unsure came the ABSOLUTELY SURE as well.

I am absolutely sure I love my closest friends who stay by my side and talk/walk/cuss me through everything.

I am absolutely sure my parents are still the coolest humans on the planet.

I am absolutely sure that travel is the love of my life and I will continue to foster that love.

Also, I am absolutely sure my boyfriend is one of the most incredible people I have ever met and I enjoy being with him.

Feels like a constant imbalance in my life when there are such polarizing parts in it. Feels like I only live in absolutes sometimes, there's never a middle in anything I do or anyway I feel about situations or people. 

30 was equally rough as it was okayish sometimes.

I was fortunate to turn 30 while in Bali, the year started out amazing and I did travel with Mark to Chicago, I did have the most incredible time with Jummy in Barbados and my upcoming trip to the Maldives with Sherry will be epic. 

Not sure if I accomplished anything in my 30th year of life but I'm still here and I'm suuuuuper cute. (and clearly, still have a very high opinion of myself)

Wait. There is something I am really proud of in the past year; I got much better at basketball! When I played my first game I was wheezing and felt like I would die in a corner, now I'm basically a superstar scoring anywhere between 1 and 13 points in a game. Yay. 

Genuinely hope all the weird stuff and negativity of 2017 remains there. Last thing I want is more difficult lessons in my next year of life transpiring from the oddities of this year. Always amazing how around your birthday or the holidays people show their asses right?

Hopefully, in my 31st year I also quit working so much and just accept that relaxing is a completely normal concept that other humans do.....maybe.

I would give my 30th year of life a grade of B- overall.

Not good enough to get into a Masters program at U of T but still doing better than a lot of people.

Here's to 31 being better! 

- Mirna 



I (We) Work Too Much

I was sitting at dinner the other night with my friend Sherry and we were having a discussion on our work lives. She has a great job working at a clinic and finally has the stable 9-5 living that many wish they could also have. However, Sherry (like myself) is thinking about getting a weekend job AGAIN. 

This got me thinking about how I don't have many friends who only have one job. This isn't to say they can't afford to live off the one good job they do have - but something about our lifestyles just keeps us having another one as a backup. 

When I got this awesome job at U of T I was ready to scream from the rooftops 'THIS IS IT! I WILL RELINQUISH WORKING 70 HOURS A WEEK BETWEEN THREE JOBS. WOOOO!!' - yeah so, that definitely didn't happen. I make great money at that job, but I keep the second job at a condo because 1) this position is not full-time permanent yet and 2) to fund my constant travel.

Could I travel with just the U of T job? Absolutely. But it would be smaller trips like the U.S. or the Caribbean (minus carnival, because that costs waaaay more). In two weeks I leave for the United Arab Emirates and for the Maldives, could I have afforded this trip without the extra job? Absolutely not. 

So what the hell is wrong with us? We can live comfortably with one job but we keep a second for what? Are we bad at money management? Do we want more than we can afford? But is it really 'more' if we find a way to afford it? 

Are we greedy?

I can't speak for my friends, but I know all my extra shifts are specifically for travel. I keep the second job as a security net just in case I don't get a full-time permanent position, because the reality of contracts is they could end at any time. I said to my friends back in April that I would quit working weekends.....when in reality, my travel habits prevent me from such a grandiose statement. I say I'll only work weekends for when I have a trip coming up - but seriously, when DON'T I have a trip coming up? 

Really beginning to wonder if all of us are just accustomed to working insane hours that coming off of such a lifestyle is unnatural for us. I have friends who have never worked a double shift nor an overnight in their lives and they seem perfectly happy with working a normal Monday - Friday schedule. 

Perhaps we are masochists. We are monetary masochists. We put our bodies through double shifts and overnights to fill some capitalistic need. That must be it. But I can't blame us for wanting more. Getting-by and being comfortable just may not be good enough for some of us. If you earn more, you can buy/pay off more and travel more.  Not sure if this lifestyle is healthy in the long term, but it feels REALLY good when I pay off a large credit card debt or when I leave on a lavish vacation. 

As someone who has heard the stupid 'OMG why do you work so much?' about a billion times - I realized that I'm completely justified in telling people I enjoy an abundance of money. Because asking such a question is a private matter to me. You don't know if a person is paying down debt, helping family or maybe working towards a down-payment on a house. You just don't know. And quite frankly, it's none of your goddamn business.

So, to all my fellow monetary masochists - DO YOU and keep doing you. We just live at a different pace.

- Mirna