Lessons from my First Road Trip

Hello from the East Coast! I’m currently on vacation in Sackville, New Brunswick on my first-ever road trip. It’s only been a few days, but I’ve learned a lot already! Here are some of the road trip lessons I’ve learned so far:

Be Flexible…

The prospect of a road trip was initially pretty stressful for me. Planning routes, stops, and excursions was a lot, not to mention having to rely on the weather’s cooperation! I’ve learned over the past couple of days, though, that having an open mind and a flexible schedule makes for a much more relaxing trip. This was especially clear when we realized we accidentally set our Bed & Breakfast check-out a day too early! Rather than panicking and trying to stick to a rigid plan, we took the opportunity to book our extra day in Gaspé to hike in one of its National Parks. I’m looking forward to the (unplanned) adventure! Continue reading

Cruising in your Twenties

When you’re in your twenties and feeling the tug of wanderlust, you’ll find so many travel options. Between backpacking, road-tripping, all-inclusives, cultural experiences, and much more, you face the tough choice of how to spend your vacation days and best see the world. Have you considered taking a cruise? I personally just returned from my second Royal Caribbean cruise in as many years, and had an awesome time. Cruising in your twenties isn’t usually the first vacation that comes to mind. But cruises aren’t just for families and older travelers. Depending on the experience you’re looking for, it might be a great choice for you! Continue reading

Life Lately: Cruise!

Long time no see, friends! I’ve had an extremely busy couple of weeks, so unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for the blog. That’s a hard thing for me to say, to be honest. I’ve never been one to claim that I’m “too busy” for a commitment. But when it comes to Flinntrospection, I see it as a personal development project more than anything. And if I feel the need to step back from a project to benefit my mind, body, and soul, then so be it. Continue reading

what i miss about home while on vacation

Now that I’ve been home from my tropical vacation for a couple of days, it’s starting to sink in that I’m back to the old grind. No more nice weather, free food, fun activities, or relaxation. If you’ve ever been on a long vacation, you’ll know that coming home is a bit of an adjustment. But something I hadn’t really anticipated was how much I would miss about being at home while I was away. Perhaps noticing these things was just a product of my inherent travel pessimism, but there were definitely a number of luxuries and details of my daily life that I would have preferred to have with me on my trip.

My Cat.

This was my first major vacation since Joe and I got Lorelai back in July. Sure, we went camping in August, but because it was only for a couple of days, we let her stay home with a couple of checkups from our families. For our ten-day trip this time, we were fortunate enough to have my cat-loving aunt and uncle look after our fur baby while we jetted off to the Caribbean. So while we knew that she was in great hands and was having a blast with her babysitters, Joe and I still found ourselves idly thinking, “I miss our cat!”

And of course, we called her halfway through the vacation to make sure she was having a good time. Who wouldn’t, right?

The Internet.

I go back and forth on this one. We opted out of any Internet packages while on-board the cruise, so I had no access to anything online until we returned to Port Canaveral. Admittedly, I didn’t really miss having access to my work email. This was especially true because I knew I couldn’t very well deal with any issues remotely anyway, so there was no point in knowing about them until I was back and ready to tackle them. But I struggled with being out of the loop when it came to the news, Facebook, my personal email, and even some of my favourite apps like Bloglovin’. I couldn’t even think about posting on my blog! (Not that I had lots of leftover energy for that anyway…) I probably won’t buy myself Internet access on my next vacation, either — so I guess I’ll resign myself to complaining about it then, too.

Random Clothing/Accessories/Amenities.

My suitcase was almost double the size of my boyfriends’. And even then, I wasn’t prepared for the countless unexpected situations I faced on the cruise. It felt like a constant struggle, realizing, “I should have brought that!”, “I have that exact thing that I need at home!”, and “If I had known about this, I would have been so prepared!”. While many of these situations came up simply because of my cruise inexperience, some of them simply couldn’t have been anticipated. I suppose all you can do is pack for generic disasters and hope for the best!


Remember what I said about getting back to the old grind? Well, as it turns out, I kind of like the old grind. I like to have a structure to my day, a reason to get up and go, an external motivation beyond just “having fun”. It was nice to have the flexibility to do anything I wanted at any time. But then I didn’t know how to decide how to spend a particular moment. So unfortunately, this led me to “deciding” to nap a lot more often than I usually do, rather than making a real decision. For future vacations, I think I may need to make myself more of a schedule, just to ensure that I actually get out of bed and do something that I actually want to do.

Tim Hortons.

Gotta love that caffeine withdrawal. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really like coffee unless it’s Tims coffee. I can handle Starbucks Blond Roast, but the coffee on the cruise ship tasted like bitter dirty water to me. And I often ended up having to put cream in my coffee instead of milk (or worse — creamer…). On Monday, when we got back to Canada, the first thing we did once we cleared customs was grab some Tims.

The Weather.

*Looks outside…*

Just kidding.

What do you miss about home when you’re on vacation?

royal caribbean cruise highlights

I’m back from vacation! Just got in this afternoon from a lovely week (and a bit) away on a Royal Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. That’s seven nights away, stopping in at Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather throughout. This was my very first cruise ever, so there was a lot to take in! And while I said I was going to blog throughout the trip… yeah, I didn’t. That’s okay! I took some pictures and had some fun — and I think that’s the important thing anyway. 😉

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary

For reference, here’s a map!

I could go on forever describing, reviewing, and rating everything we did on this trip. But rather than bore you with the details, especially since this is my first cruising experience and I don’t have very much experience with which to compare, I figure it might be more useful for me to share some of my favourite activities. If a Caribbean cruise is on the horizon for you (har har), be sure to check out these options!

Labadee, Haiti — A Royal Caribbean Cruise Exclusive

Labadee was our first stop on the cruise, and our first (and only) beach day. It was beautiful. We enjoyed the weather and the view both in and out of the water. Labadee also hosts a number of active excursions, like parasailing, ziplining, and a variety of water sports. Joe and I opted for the little Alpine roller coaster after he won a pair of tickets, as I will explain shortly. It was one of those little coasters where you control your own speed, so we got a nice view of the beach as we cruised down the track.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - labadee

I was travelling with Joe’s family, and the six of us booked a villa like those in the picture. While it was super nice, I will say that it definitely wasn’t necessary to have a great time on the beach. Royal Caribbean owns this destination, so the only way you’ll be able to visit is on one of their cruises, which includes the Celebrity line as well. I would definitely visit Labadee again, or somewhere very much like it.

Jamaica — Green Grotto Caves

We spent almost our entire day on excursions in Jamaica, which included climbing up Dunn’s River Falls and touring the Green Grotto Caves. To be fair to Dunn’s River, it was quite the experience, but you definitely need to be dressed for the occasion — that is, getting soaked. Bring your own water shoes and a bathing suit you’re comfortable hiking in.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - green grotto caves

Anyway, back to my Jamaica fave. The Green Grotto Caves were really cool, and not something you see every day. The tour was a nice blend of history, nature, and just a little bit of campy comedy. Also bats. (Hey Mom, this one is not for you.)

 royal caribbean cruise highlights - bats

Grand Cayman — Pedro St. James & Cayman Turtle Farm

This multi-part excursion was awesome for its variety. To start, we visited Pedro St. James, a historic house for Grand Cayman. The tour of the house was accompanied by an introductory video — Canadians, think “Heritage Minutes”. If I were a kid, I probably would have hated this hour-long stop, but we ended up finding it quite endearing (and also pretty funny in the end).

royal caribbean cruise highlights - pedro st. james

The turtle farm was the real highlight. We got to learn about turtles, hold baby turtles, watch people feeding turtles, and then actually snorkel with turtles. I know, that’s a lot of turtles, but it was a really neat and immersive experience.

royal caribbean cruise highlights - cayman turtle farm

Onboard Game Shows!

Heading into my first Royal Caribbean cruise, I had been told that there would be musicals, comedy shows, classes, sports, shopping, and the like. But I wasn’t expecting all the free stuff, especially from the contests and game shows that seem to be running all the time! Admittedly, a lot of the “free” stuff isn’t really free. You’ll win things like discounts, small items you can trade up for larger items for an additional fee, etc. Sometimes you get lucky, though — like when you have a boyfriend who’s willing to star in a game show and win it all!

royal caribbean cruise highlights - onboard game shows

That’s right, Joe went up in front of the audience and took on some trivia, and went home feeling like a millionaire! He won a water bottle, a backpack,  a Del Sol colour-changing beach accessory prize pack, a charm bracelet (for me, haha), an excursion for Labadee (that roller coaster!), an art auction coupon and print pack, and a free scalp massage. The massage certificate expired before he used it, but everything else was great! Now, Joe didn’t win every game, of course. But it was still fun to watch and play along with others.

My understanding is that a Royal Caribbean cruise is meant to have something for everyone. I don’t know if that’s true, but there was definitely lots for us to love.

What are your cruise must-dos?

20 thoughts you have before a vacation

Hey there, Internet friends! In less than 24 hours, Joe and I will be on a plane to Orlando for our cruise vacation! This is my first cruise, so while I’ve heard lots of details and advice from others, I’m still not quite sure what to expect. I think it goes without saying that we’re very excited. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures. I also hope to blog throughout, but the actual post frequency will depend on the state of my Internet access. We shall see!

If you’re like me, getting ready for a vacation isn’t all fun and games. I’m both organized and scatterbrained, so the preparation for any trip or event of this magnitude is an emotional roller coaster. My pre-vacation thought process is all over the place!

  1. “This vacation is ages away… It’s going to take forever! At least I have lots of time to get ready.”
  2. “I’m actually kind of excited to go away. I mean, sure, it’s far off, and I’m not really sick of the daily grind yet, but it’ll definitely be a nice change.”
  3. “Wow, trips are expensive.”
  4. “Maybe I could just have a stay-cation instead? We could go to a bed and breakfast or something. It could be close to home, and we could take in the beautiful Canadian landscape…”
  5. “Canada is freezing. But only when it’s inconvenient.”
  6. “I feel like I’m forgetting to book something… I do have a plane ticket, right?”
  7. “I need a new bathing suit.”
  8. “I need new sunglasses.”
  9. “I need new luggage.”
  10. “On second thought, luggage is expensive. I’ll just borrow from my parents…”
  11. “I hate packing.”
  12. “I’m forgetting something.”
  13. “Google sent me a push notification for the weather in Orlando! Too bad I’m not there yet.”
  14. “What did I forget to print out? Or was it something I was supposed to look up?”
  15. “I can’t wait to go on vacation!”
  16. “Oh my gosh, I leave tomorrow? That took no time at all! There’s so much more to do!”
  17. “I am going to miss my cat so much.”
  18. “I hate packing!”
  19. “Okay, okay, calm down. You made it to the airport! You have all of your luggage! You even remembered your passport!”
  20. “I know I’m forgetting something…”

My biggest challenge when going on vacation is setting aside all of the worries and stresses that come along with it, and actually enjoying it — which is the whole point! Here’s hoping I’ll be successful this time.

Does this sound a little like you? How do you prepare for a vacation?