Well, here ya go... my extremely tentative itinerary for my New Zealand trip!

Week 1: Backpacking the eastern half of the North Island

Week 2: Backpacking most of the South Island

Week 3: Backpacking some of the South Island and the western side of the North Island

Week 4: Visiting college roommates in Brisbane, Australia

Exhibit A: Snapchat from Davis I woke up to this morning

Exhibit A: Snapchat from Davis I woke up to this morning

My former roommates, Lindsay and Davis, moved to Brisbane after graduation (just for shits and gigs). After I confirmed I was visiting, they told me to research what I want to do with them in Brisbane and let them know... girlfriends, I have enough to research for my solo trip! I told them that I'd arrive and just go with the flow.

But I am really so excited to see them; I miss them dearly! They've been in Australia for most of the summer so they're practically locals! It's funny seeing the Snapchats they send me because usually as my alarm goes off at 6 am, they send me a Snap of them out drinking or laying on the beach (See Right). 

Looks like my kinda life!

I traveled around Australia in 8th grade for 3 weeks through People to People. I feel so fortunate to go again. I'm sure not many people on this side of the world can say they've been to Australia twice!

Who knows? Maybe this time I'll just stay and move in with Davis! (Sorry, Mom)

I leave in 3 days, but I have so much to do before I go.

I already...

  • Bought tickets Philly -> Auckland and Auckland -> Brisbane
  • Got new hiking boots (already broke them in a bit thanks to some hiking with my friend, Leanne, last weekend)
  • Got Moleskin band-aids to help my poor hiking feet
  • Got a small fast-drying towel
  • Got a travel backpack that'll replace a suitcase
  • Bought travel insurance
  • Notified my banks that I'm traveling
  • Bought a travel wallet [This is the one I ordered]
  • Booked 2 nights in my Auckland hostel
  • Ordered some $NZ through TD Bank (I ordered about US $300 to start me off)
  • Bought a neck pillow for the plane [this one is amazing]
  •  Got a selfie stick (Hey, a solo traveler's gotta do what a solo traveler's gotta do)

I need to...

  • Go to Best Buy and figure out to transfer my DSLR photos easily to my phone/tablet (follow me in Insta @livemaxlivewell
  • Have a Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movie marathon  [Why?]
  • Get an external phone battery
  • Get an extra Canon camera battery and SD Card
  • Make sure I have enough birth control to skip my next period ('cause no one's got time for that)
  • Call my health insurance to see if they'll save me in case I fall off a cliff in NZ
  • Strategically pack my clothes (and make sure there's extra room for souvenirs)
  • I feel like I should probably put more on this list--I feel very unprepared

Even though I kind of know what I want to do in NZ and I have my first hostel booked, I do feel a bit unprepared. However, I think my unpreparedness will just make this trip more fun. I'll be able to just go when I want to and get recommendations along the way. It'll definitely advance some of my skills that will help me in my next life endeavor (AKA a job). Maybe I'll go into that in my next blog post :)

Keep updated!




Top 10 Destinations for Solo Travel

I haven't decided 100% if now is the time I should solo travel. 

But I know I want to one day. 

I hate saying that. One day.

Anyway, I've been searching for the top places for a solo female to travel and below is a list of repeats from many different lists. 

1. Iceland

Iceland came up a lot in my search.Travel and style blogger, The Blonde Abroad wrote in one of her blog posts, "The city of Reykjavik is famous for its music scene and nightlife, so you'll have no problem meeting locals and fellow travelers. There are countless reasons to visit Iceland, but it's her natural beauty that steals the show."

Gullfoss Falls  Photo Cred:  The Blonde Abroad

Gullfoss Falls

Photo Cred: The Blonde Abroad

2. Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)

I have a friend that traveled abroad to Copenhagen then ended up getting a job there after graduation! Apparently, it's a pretty badass city. 

As far as adventures go, there’s certainly no shortage. Scandanavian cities are lovely to travel around, being less crowded than places like Paris and Rome.
— Woman Travel Blog
Nyhavn - New Harbour Copenhagen  Photo Cred: Victoria Selover

Nyhavn - New Harbour Copenhagen

Photo Cred: Victoria Selover

3. New Zealand

Amanda from A Dangerous Business Travel Blog says that New Zealand is perfect for solo travel because of how easy and safe it is to get around. It has awesome landscapes, activities that'll keep you busy. The great hostels are perfect for younger travelers to meet each other.

Photo Cred: A Dangerous Business

Photo Cred: A Dangerous Business

4. Thailand

The Blonde Abroad believes that Thailand is a great place for the solo traveler with its "beautiful leafy jungles, famous sandy beaches, mouth-watering cuisine and affordable prices." 

It’s ideal for someone who wants to really experience a vibrant cultural destination with a wide range of sightseeing options.
— The Blonde Abroad
Photo Cred: Jessica Stein (@tuulavintage Instagram)

Photo Cred: Jessica Stein (@tuulavintage Instagram)

5. Canada

Did you know that Canada has rich urban arts scenes? Winnipeg actually has one of the best ballet companies on the planet. I'd be so down! In addition, Canada has plenty of festivals held every year. I'd also love to hike through (easy) parts of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. 

Photo Cred: Samantha Chen (@thesamanthachan Instagram)

Photo Cred: Samantha Chen (@thesamanthachan Instagram)

6. Costa Rica

Costa Rica kept popping up on lists for best solo travel. According to laurencebradford.com, even though the crime rates aren't as low as some of these other destinations, Costa Rica has a very high HPI (Happy Planet Index) and considered the "happiest country on the planet!" How fun! Costa Rica has a rain forest, volcano, and beautiful beaches so I'd definitely have plenty to do. 

Photo Cred: LaurenceBradford.com

Photo Cred: LaurenceBradford.com

7. Ireland

I've always wanted to go to Ireland after seeing the film P.S. I Love You. From my research, it seems that Ireland is extremely safe and easy to do day trips from Dublin. Based off my college friends who studied abroad in Ireland and couldn't stop talking about it, I'm assuming it must be something special. 

@TourismIreland Instagram

@TourismIreland Instagram

8. Scotland

When I think of Scotland, similarly to Ireland, I think of green hills and castles. I like the sound of both! Edinburgh sounds amazing, as well as safe. Another thing I'd look forward to: Scottish accents. YES PLEASE. 

Kiltrock Falls  (@ susannemj  Instagram)

Kiltrock Falls (@susannemj Instagram)

9. Bali

For some reason, I've always wanted to travel to Bali. I don't even really know much about it. I think I've just seen photos of this incredible place and just fell in love. Luckily, it's also on The Blonde Abroad's list for safest destinations for a solo female to travel!

Temples, yoga, relaxing beaches and inexpensive food & accommodation are just a few reasons why Bali is the ultimate solo female travel destination. With a great backpacking culture for young people, budget travelers will always find someone to hang out with. And with all those beautiful beaches, you bet there are some incredible resorts for a little bit of luxe.
— The Blonde Abroad
Pura Luhur Lempuyang, Karangasem  @explorebali

Pura Luhur Lempuyang, Karangasem @explorebali

10. Amsterdam

I might have been the most (pleasantly) surprised to see Amsterdam pop up on a number of these places to travel solo lists. 

@17lilc Instagram

@17lilc Instagram

If you have any suggestions for solo travel, please comment below!




Work vs. Play

I've always been a passionate traveler. But I'd so much rather hike the Inca Trail than sit on the beach in St. Maarten. I was so lucky to get such a wonderful internship at the top advertising agency in Philadelphia right after graduation, but I was also very jealous of my friends who decided to travel the world before getting a big kid job. 

Erin is killin' it in Copenhagen, Victoria got an internship in Milan, and Lindsay and Davis are living it up in Brisbane, only after Davis traveled to India, Greece and Croatia. Let's just say, the FOMO is real. 

    Tambourine Mountains, Australia   Photo Cred: Davis Tousignant


Tambourine Mountains, Australia

Photo Cred: Davis Tousignant

Duomo di Milano, Italy    Photo Cred: Victoria Selover

Duomo di Milano, Italy

Photo Cred: Victoria Selover

Like, what? I wanna go. I've basically been on the Skyscanner app for the past 48 hours. If you haven't used Skyscanner before, you should. It's a global travel search site and app offering and comprehensive and free flight search service. It's great because you can browse prices across a whole month or year so you can search the best deals. I've been suing the "Destination Everywhere" feature that shows you air travel prices to... literally everywhere. Just keeping my options open, ya know?

I can afford to travel for now. I've had a job since I was 12 and have been saving for years. I basically only spend my money on traveling, food, and, when I'm feeling sad, new clothes.

I recently splurged on this amazing new vest from Zappos. Officially happy and pumped for fall.

I digress.

I don't have a car, mainly because I was saving for my semester-long study abroad trip to Buenos aires. I'm also living with the best parents (Hi Mom! Aren't you proud that your unemployed daughter is blogging now?). I have no financial restraints so why not travel while I can, right? Well, maybe. I was just so inspired by the people I met at my last internship and how focused they are on their communications careers. I've always been incredibly determined all through school and my internships. I'm very serious about my career, but I'm starting to think that what I need right now is to figure out what I want and get it together. I want a job that will further my career, even if it's not my dream job. However, I think I need to learn and mature a bit in other ways first.

Yup, that's me (practically) vertically climbing Machu Picchu.

Yup, that's me (practically) vertically climbing Machu Picchu.

I met a girl who stayed in our hostel room in Colonia, Uruguay named Vimi. She is originally from Vancouver, but after quitting a job she didn't like all that much, she decided to travel through South AmericaALONE! She knew that while she was young and didn't have to worry about vacation time (which, I believe, is much easier to get in Canada than in the U.S.) she might as well travel a bit.

Ever since meeting Vimi, traveling alone sounded like the ultimate learning experience. I asked if she was nervous traveling alone as a woman. She told me that if you're always afraid of being a woman, then you're never going to fully live and do what you want, because, the fact is, unless you really, really try, you're going to be a woman for the rest of your life. 

Me, Sheridan and Vimi in Colonia, Uruguay.   Photo Cred: Sam Maher

Me, Sheridan and Vimi in Colonia, Uruguay. 

Photo Cred: Sam Maher

Long story short, I am very passionate about furthering my career. But at the same time, I think traveling for a bit may put my post-grad life into perspective. Should I not waste any time and immediately look for a job or should I take a couple weeks to travel to Copenhagen or Alaska? 

Shelly, get it together, girl. 





Tips on surviving in the Amazon Rainforest (in an eco lodge)

Here I am starting up a new blog! 

To begin, I wanted to repost one of my favorites from my previous blog (http://alternateangles.wordpress.com/).


October 24, 2014

As you can tell by my recent posts in my study abroad blog (http://portenashelly.blogspot.com.ar), I hung out in the Amazon rain forest for 4 days during my spring break to Peru! Obviously, when I packed for Buenos Aires I didn’t have the Amazon jungle in mind so unfortunately I didn’t bring many things I needed.

Here are a list of things I wish I had, things I had but didn’t need, and tips about staying in the Amazon.



I spent AR$150 on malaria pills before I came and apparently the Puerto Maldonado hasn’t had malaria in the area for about 30 years. Also, Sheridan got unbelievably sick because she started them late and had to take many doses at once. She threw up at least 10 times at the hostel, in the airport, on the plane and on the bus to or lodge. She was miserable for the whole day and one of our guides said there had been increasing problems with the side effects of malaria medication and an extreme decrease of actual malaria.

He told her to stop taking the medication and she’d start feeling better and she did! The only reason the rest of us didn’t get sick from them is because we either started them a week ago and only needed one dose or didn’t take them at all.

It’s true, malaria pills are a pharmaceutical scam… Like many medications nowadays.



Fun fact about the rain forest: it rains. And even in the dry season (now) it rains hard. Sometimes it’s too hot for a rain jacket so make sure to being a poncho.

Our bus broke down on the way into the jungle so we decided to eat lunch on the side of the road until help came.

Our bus broke down on the way into the jungle so we decided to eat lunch on the side of the road until help came.


You need your backpack for your daily excursions to carry food, water, and anything else you might need.

Mine is cool cause it has a chest strap to make it more comfortable and two things on the front straps to which I could hook my camera case and a water bottle for easy access. Having a water bottle in your view at all times really reminds you to drink up.

For my next hiking backpack, though, I definitely one that has a waist belt so less of the weight will be on my shoulders and back. I’d also want bungee straps on the front of my bag to carry anything too big to fit in the bag, like a jacket, or anything wet. 



Even if your backpack says it’s water proof… Most likely it’s water resistant… for a drizzle. It POURS in the Amazon. One day, it rained longer and harder than I’ve ever seen before. It’s a pain to get your things wet because everything takes so long to dry there because of the humidity.


Also, when it pours, you will hike straight through puddles. There’s really no choice. Your shoes well be soaked and it’ll take forever for them to dry. Bring extra, comfy shoes. I had my gaucho shoes (Tom’s) and it was nice to walk around in them when I had to.



Water is key. I had two plastic water bags with carabiners that were nice because I could attach them to my backpack and when I was done with one I could just fold it up and stuff it in my bag. I got them at the dollar store so they’re super cheap and still strong. It’s better to get one with reinforcements on the hole for the carabiner so nothing rips.

Our lodge provided us with purified water… Even though the girls swear that’s what made them sick.



Our lodge had a swimming hole but it would have sucked to dry off in the same towel we use for the shower since the water was a bit dirty.



We have a good amount of down time here between our excursions. We either nap or hang out at the main lodge. But when I don’t want to nap or before bed, I read my kindle :)


9. CAMERA!!!

BRING A CAMERA. A real camera! Don’t use a stupid smart phone camera. There’s no way you can capture the beauty in this jungle on a phone.

I got a new camera for my birthday mainly for this trip which I love but my friend Sam had an old DSLR and her pictures are phenomenal. I’m so jealous. I may look on Ebay or go to a camera exchange place to look at prices when I go home. I love my camera but I really think a DSLR is worth the price.


I traveled with a group of 5 other girls and I’m so happy I did. They all bring ideas and fun times to the table and really made my experience great.

Our hiking group consisted of Claus, our tour guide; Bie and Peter, a Belgian couple; and my friends, Carla, Christina, Mindee, Sheridan and Sam.

Our hiking group consisted of Claus, our tour guide; Bie and Peter, a Belgian couple; and my friends, Carla, Christina, Mindee, Sheridan and Sam.


I had running leggings which was too hot to wear but I also had yoga pants which weren’t bad. Since you can’t wear shorts because of the mosquitoes during the day, long airy hiking pants are the way to go.



Again, because of mosquitoes, long or 3/4 length sleeves are recommended. A breezy, loose (maybe button-up) long sleeve shirt is best for hiking.


I didn’t see the need to buy hiking shoes and I’m glad I didn’t because they really aren’t necessary. All you need is a good pair of sneakers; I had running sneakers.


Again with the rain… You don’t want your valuables getting ruined so bring different size (sandwich to gallon size) zip locks with you hiking.

Covering your feet in plastic bags don't keep them dry when you're hiking in a downpour.

Covering your feet in plastic bags don't keep them dry when you're hiking in a downpour.


If it downpours during your hike or if your van breaks down on the side of the road, don’t worry about it. It’s a great experience and an even better story later on!


The eco lodges in the Amazon run on generators so expect limited electricity and zero wifi. Make sure you tell your loved ones at home that you can’t be in contact for a few days while you’re in the jungle or else they’ll freak out when they don’t hear from you!

We had the yummiest meals at the eco lodge. The fresh fruit and plantains were my favorite!

We had the yummiest meals at the eco lodge. The fresh fruit and plantains were my favorite!


It’s great protection from the sun, bugs and the rain.


It’s an awesome opportunity if you can swim in a swimming hole because it’s so darn hot.



Yes, mosquitoes can be vicious. Make sure to bring DEET 35-80. I know DEET is super bad for you but it’s necessary, especially when it’s too hot to wear long sleeves.



Most of the time, there are so many trees that the canopy blocks the sun.


They’re great for when your clothes haven’t died yet from the rain and you have to continue in your travels around Peru.



We stayed in g lodge which has lodges all around the world. Everything is included for your stay which is so helpful. The lodges are really nice and somewhat resort-like. Much better than actually camping in the Amazon if you’re not an extreme outdoorist.


There’s really nothing to buy in the Amazon lodge except for extra drinks.



All of the girls I am traveling with had stomach problems. Definitely bring Imodium and other stomach/digestion medicine.

There was so much fresh fruit to eat!

There was so much fresh fruit to eat!


Nothing is worse than waiting for days for your clothes to dry cause you have to keep packing them up… That’s what happened with my sneakers and yoga pants.


There’s only candle light in the bungalows and zero light in the shower and bathroom. Bring a flashlight for having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night/showering at night and also for the night excursions.


That’s about all you need to know about surviving a few days in the Amazon (in an eco lodge).

I had the BEST time and I’d suggest going to the Amazon to anyone who wants an adventure.