Yes, the hashtag was completely necessary. I literally can’t with the horrible plane etiquette I’ve seen lately. For the longest time I thought the majority of these things were just common sense, but apparently I have been proven wrong. Small request to God, let’s implant the following things into every person’s brain that will fly on an airplane in the future.

  1. Can you just not throw your jacket onto the person sitting next to you? (AKA me.) I’d rather not have your thick, hot jacket draped over my leg because you decided to cover up the entire two seats instead of just yourself. Then you decide to leave it there.
  2. Just stop humming and singing, please. This doesn’t even have to go for just plane etiquette but etiquette in general. When you’re in an enclosed space when someone and they have no way out and are trying to mind their own business, listen to their own music, read, etc., they don’t want to hear you singing. They just don’t.
  3. Literally, we each bought a plane ticket to have our own seat on the plane, not to have half of a seat because you want to spread yourself over the entire arm and half of the seat beside you. Most people don’t even want to touch some random person, let alone have them sharing their seat when you already have plenty of room.
  4. STOP YELLING IN MY EAR. If I can hear your entire conversation to the point where I could actually chime in because I know exactly what you’re talking about, stop. Seriously. You don’t have to yell — you are in the SAME row as your friends, no one else wants to hear your babbling about hair products and what you can’t believe some girl did and how you want tacos. No one. Were you ever told to use your inside voice as a child? Oh, right, apparently not.
  5. As we line up in the order of our boarding numbers (Southwest flight-goers), don’t tell someone you’re after them but “couldn’t move back any further” then stay there as the line clears out and proceed to board in front of them. Perhaps I’m taking this too far (or perhaps not), but we all paid and booked and received our own spots in line to ultimately choose our seats (*Southwest is open seating), so don’t tell me you’re supposed to be behind me, then board in front of me. Just don’t. Isn’t there some saying like, “The early bird gets the worm”? Yeah, I was the early bird, until you decided to overlook etiquette and rules.
  6. I completely understand if your child is crying, yelling, whatever. That’s what kids do and their ears hurt on planes so I have a lot of sympathy for you. Even if someone else around you is annoyed at the baby, I can’t imagine your own frustration and desire to calm them down, so I feel for you here. However, if your child is kicking my seat, please pull them away, put their legs down, sit them in your lap, or AT LEAST apologize and tell me it’s completely uncontrollable. Don’t knowingly let your child kick my seat and then do nothing at all.
  7. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT open up your smelly food on this plane. There is nothing worse than the inability to escape the strong aroma of weird smelling foods on a plane. (Except numbers 1-6.)

***Bonus: No, you can’t bring your cell phone with you through the metal detector.

Did I miss something that you’ve seen firsthand while flying? Tell me your worst and most shocking flight stories below and let me know what should be added to my #PlaneEtiquette list.

Not so typical St. Patrick’s Day in New York City post

I’m not sure what I expected, but four Elmo’s on every street in Times Square wasn’t it. I mean, switch up the costume just a little at least. It was like déjàvu every time I crossed the street and saw AT LEAST four Elmo’s standing there… That was one thing in NYC I was excited to leave.

So, here we are taking in this flood of green – tshirts, sunglasses, hats, socks, shoes, drinks – everything. Everyone was decked out, both tourists and locals, and the streets were almost as busy as New Years (but not really). They all started before 10am, and that’s how I knew if they were locals. They owned the streets with their on-a-mission, loud attitudes and drinks in paper bags and they came in packs. One thing I loved the most, though, was that all the locals and all the tourists were dressed the same and, in that sense, you couldn’t even tell them apart.

We wandered over to Broadway, checking out the tons of bars and trying to pick out the most local looking, and we landed upon one in which I met some of the most wonderful people in my life. So rather than go on about the bar, it’s truly the people that made this place stand out. It’s always funny when I meet people in New York because they’re rarely from New York. I wonder sometimes if there are even people from New York or if everyone here just moved here with hopes of something greater. These Londoners I met though were so friendly and possibly the funniest, most down to earth couple I’ve ever talked to.

We spent a couple hours having an awesome time with Lucy and Phil, being completely out mastered in sarcasm by Phil, finding a newfound love for Arsenal, the soccer team, and thoroughly improving my slang words. I left that bar having expanded my vocabulary to include all of the following:

  1. Mate (friend)
  2. Bollocks (rubbish)
  3. Fag (cigarette; much less condescending and harsh in their country)
  4. Pissed (drunk)
  5. Dizzy (to explain someone lacking common sense)
  6. Wanker (jerk)
  7. Bird (lady)

Next, we wandered over to this three story Irish pub called Social Bar, only to be completely amazed at the 15 or so men that  just happened to be playing bagpipes on every floor of the place. We couldn’t have gotten any more Irish than in that moment. I think it’s cool, completely random experiences like that that bring people down to the same level – no outside distractions, no arguments, no societal problems, we’re all one just enjoying this thing together.

The place was packed, but less and less the higher up you went. There were window “balconies” overlooking the streets, Irish and American flags waving to everyone below, old creaky wooden floors and a random girl who started Irish tap dancing in the middle of the room. As we moved on we grabbed some of the best pizza we’ve ever had (can’t beat New York style $1 pizza) and went on our way to meet a friend at Stout NYC.

And here’s yet another awesome NYC bar that was ironically right next to Blarneys, where our London friends were meeting their friend that night. So, Stout is packed, not that we expected anything less on St. Patty’s Day, and there’s great Irish music and it’s all an awesome experience. We step over to Blarneys pub for a little less crowded and more intimate hangout with our new friends and had a great time.

In all, this is more so about these people I met rather than the typical NYC St. Patty’s Day experience. Or maybe I hit it head on and brought out the true meaning of it all. I always say that all paths cross for a reason and every single thing that happens leads to something else in the end. These wonderful Londoners were the people every Facebook addict, every desensitized and insensitive person should meet. These two have the greatest hearts and truly care about those around them that they meet while traveling and on a daily basis. It’s people like this that make my travels worthwhile – that bring new lights into my life and show me what I’m striving for on a regular basis. So here’s to Lucy and Phil, and all the others who have made a great impact on my life during my travels. And here’s to the best St. Patrick’s Day I could have ever asked for.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.”

Thanks to Silver Wings, every year I am able to take a small mid-semester weekend getaway to a city or state in the South for our Area/Region Conclave. While this year’s was quite different, as I played a part in the organization, planning and running of the conclave, it was quite eye-opening as well. This year’s conclave was in Auburn, AL and Tuskegee, AL. Although it was my second time in Auburn, it was my first time getting to truly explore the city, and it was my first time visiting Tuskegee. A lot of people might wonder, “What’s even in Auburn or Tuskegee?” So, here I am, ready to backup those cities and shine some light on their significance.

Cool, Auburn is home to Auburn football…but it’s so much more than that. Driving into Auburn you can’t help but to be in awe at the beauty of everything around you. The university buildings are truly remarkable, almost making you question why you didn’t choose that college over your own. Everything is within walking distance – restaurants, shops, bars, classes, etc. Of course, our first stop was Toomer’s Drugs for some of the famous lemonade. Seriously – this stuff is life-changing. And addicting.


Selfie with Toomer’s lemonade because I had to.

Our next stop was to take those completely cliche and overly popular pictures in front of the university. But, it’s completely necessary. I mean, look at that building. My clock obsession didn’t help either.



That night we went to Moton Field, in Tuskegee, home to the famous and previously controversial Tuskegee Airmen/Red Tails. I thought I knew about them before, but this museum truly opened my eyes to what they went through and how hard they fought just to be able to fly planes. The short film we watched really gave us insight on their struggles and how people viewed them during that period of time.

The next day was a day of running business sessions, public speaking (which has improved tremendously since my first year of college), minor freak outs, presenting the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action ceremony speech at our banquet, meeting the wonderful AFA President for the state of Alabama, hearing Colonel Eric Wydra speak, and making tons of new friends from Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. That night we all went out and experienced the Auburn nightlife, and I realized that I am still not into clubs, but rather enjoy actually hearing the people I’m having conversations with. Below are two wonderful people I met earlier this fall, who have become great friends and just happened to make very long drives and flights from Oregon and Washington to visit their favorite Region President at her ARCON.


Sweet Josh & Emilie!

I make this post to conclude with many things I’ve recently learned. While I harp to many people on the fact that I have met so many wonderful people from Spain and Taiwan, the United States has beautiful people, too. Without the organization Silver Wings, I more than likely would have never had the chance to meet the amazing people that I have. To me, it’s crazy to think that without it I would have very few true friends, but since I became a part of it, I now have lifelong friends all over the United States – from Alabama, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, New York, South Carolina, and so many more. I know that these people would be there for me in a heartbeat if I needed them because of the bonds we’ve created through these passions and dedications we have.

I’ve come to realize that although my heart is begging for me to go to other countries and see the years of history and so many different cultures they have to offer, that these things can be found at home, too. While the U.S. might not date as far back as other countries, we still have history. We still have the Tuskegee Airmen, that are often overlooked because no one remembers that Alabama has something that amazing lying within it. We still have different cultures and lifestyles that are quite obvious when you step out of your backyard and talk to others from a different state.

I say these things to encourage myself to continue opening my mind to what is still here in the United States. After my trip abroad this past summer, things seemed dull here – so common and un-extraordinary. But Auburn and Tuskegee showed me that even I, living in Alabama all my life, have not seen everything it has to offer. I am so ready to see new countries and new cultures that sometimes I forget I haven’t even seen the beauty or history of my own state. And while my wanderlust will never go away, and I will never try to limit where I can go, I realize that need to try and tell myself that things will come when it’s time. I will get my chance to visit India and Germany and South America and everywhere else when the time is right. With the passion I have for visiting new places and meeting new people, I know they will happen, but it will take time. Going abroad isn’t as easy as visiting a state in your own country, and why not do that while you can?

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – William Hazlitt

Barcelona, Spain: So Much More Than a Tourist Trap


I was featured in the University of South Alabama Study Abroad blog! Read the post to find out a little about my experience abroad.

Originally posted on south alabama study abroad:

After her first trip abroad, she returned to her college town with a deep passion for traveling and experiencing new cultures. Six weeks in Spain was everything she’d hoped for and more – from making friends from all over the world, improving her speaking ability in another language, gaining a new family, and more. This week’s featured blogger is Kaley Rector, an International Education Ambassador at the University of South Alabama, who just recently returned from a summer in Spain.

After returning from my study abroad in Spain, I found a quote that couldn’t have been more fitting: “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” This quote, by Pat Conroy, explains for me what I can’t put into words. This summer was more than just studyingIMG_7990 abroad, it was about…

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The dreaded, “What should I pack in my carry-on?”

As I sit here planning out what to take on my next trip this coming week, I come to the dreaded question, “What should I pack in my carry-on?” After quite a few recent trips I’ve come to realize I might just be able to answer this really easily, while a lot of people are still out there struggling. So, below are my suggestions of the essentials to pack in your carry-on.

1. Phone charger.

2. Laptop & laptop charger (or iPad/Kindle/Tablet/etc). I’m not sure if there has been any trip I’ve taken where I haven’t needed this with me at some point, including when I’m just bored. This is awesome to have during your long layovers and flights. Be sure to pack it where you can easily remove it for security checkpoints.

3. Reading material. Whether this be an actual book, a magazine, or a Kindle, this is a must-have for me when traveling. If you’re going abroad, a book about the place you’re traveling to is awesome but my favorite is having travel magazines like Lonely Planet.

4. Extra set of clothes. Just in case a flight gets canceled or you’re stuck somewhere longer than expected, bring an extra set of clothes. I always tend to pack a t-shirt and my favorite shirt out of the ones I’m bringing, pants, socks, and underwear.

5. Toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, medicine, glasses, makeup, etc). While you might not use these, you won’t regret having them if something happens and your flight is really delayed or canceled. Just make sure to have the liquids in Ziploc® bags ready to put in the bins at the security check and remember that they can’t be over 3.4 ounces.

6. Jacket/sweatshirt.

7. Headphones. I add this because I see a lot of people using headphones for the majority of their flights. However, I’ve gotten by a couple times without them because longer flights provide them.

8. Wallet (including license, credit cards, cash, boarding pass, passport, if necessary, etc). Pack these things where you can get to them easily because these will be the most used items in your carry-on.

A couple extra things that I always have are:

  • A notebook & a pencil. As a writer, I always tend to get inspired as I’m up 30,000 miles in the air. I’m also a list-maker, so something to write on is a must.
  • Any homework I have. If you’re in college and taking a trip, homework or tests are still happening as your miss classes. I like to bring anything I can do on paper or on my laptop/iPad to save me from having any heavy books to lug around the airport. (*If you absolutely need your books for a class, you can always take a picture on your phone of the pages you need to have.)
  • Snacks. I usually pack a couple small snacks for the airport and in case I can’t easily or quickly access food once I land. (Don’t forget gum!)

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From my lens

I recently read two photography based posts from The Daily Post and became really inspired to do my own take on them. As stated by Laura Cook, humanitarian and travel photographer, in her recent blog post on visual storytelling, “You can easily take a photograph, but not all photographs tell rich stories.” She provides ten pieces of advice on how to create the best story through your photographs – and I’m choosing to incorporate “Paint a scene with a photograph,” “Break the rules,” “Find the best POV for your story,” and “Frame your stories,” into my own post. In the second blog post I read, by Cheri Rowlands, she took the concept of framing your stories and elaborated on it throughout her entire post. The ideas I’m incorporating from her post will be “Architecture,” “Nature,” and “Windows and mirrors.” While I can admit that I am definitely not a photographer, I love taking pictures. So, here is my take on these ideas.

Painting a scene with a photograph:


In a beautiful city, in the center of a widely known park, surrounded by families of all kinds spending the afternoon together.

Breaking the rules:


Breaking the rules because it took me a lot more than one try to get this one. Two sisters dancing flamenco in Spain. The setting for this picture couldn’t have been more perfect.

(*Te quiero = I love you.)

Finding the best POV for your story:


Which point of view do you choose? Just to inspire a little thinking.

Framing your story:


Cuenca, Spain.

Framing your story through architecture:


Framing your story through nature:


A little abstract, but nonetheless, through the ivy roof.

Framing your story through windows and mirrors: