Biden Won. Now What?

After a few days of a cliff hanging presidential election, America finally decided on Joe Biden as our next President. People celebrated around the world and it felt, for a brief moment, as if we had risen from a deep depression. At some point we will but, for now current issues needs to be addressed and fixed before we can get back to a “normal” way of life. Here are a few things that we may see changing in the travel industry once Biden takes over in Jan. 20, 2021.

A Solid Health Guidelines Protocols
To wear or not to wear a mask. There’s always been inconsistencies in enforcement since the beginning of the pandemic and it is likely that there will be protocols across the board.

“as the focus goes back to helping airlines get back on their feet, getting the virus under control, and putting in place national policies to allow people to travel safely, both internationally and domestically.”

~ Jesse Neugarten, CEO and founder of Dollar Flight Club

Visiting Colorado
for the First Time

These are the times
of a New Normal

Stimulus Plan Extension
This is one thing that both Biden & Trump agreed on. We all know that the travel industry has been hit the hardest from the Coronavirus crisis. Both agreed to extend the Stimulus Plan to help bail out the airline industry and recover.

Increase Test Sites
Before people can become confident about traveling they need to feel safe and part of that initiative is to increase test sites. A few airports have already implemented these facilities.

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier, agrees. “The travel industry needs two things. First, it needs the Covid crisis to be controlled better, and then it needs borders to open. Those go hand in hand. So I think the prospects of borders reopening sooner are likely to be better with a President Biden,” he said.

CNN


The “Rail Revolution”
Biden’s infrastructure plans includes improving the rail system. This is one that I am excited about as it will make it much easier to get around domestically as another option other than taking an airplane.

No one knows what the future holds but, we can be sure changes are upon us. I am excited to see how the travel industry will shape after we tackle on the coronavirus once and for all.

Stay tuned.

My Top 10 Posts of All Time According to You

As I looked into my blog in the last few days, I came across one of the first posts I created in 2015. Like a diary, it became my day to day platform to write a story or two about my life abroad. Fast forward 5 years later, I’m still writing on this very same platform. It seems that the posts I wrote abroad, during and after had a higher impact and I can see why. I was once that same person searching for answers that would help my move abroad easier or what to do when returning back home. To this day, those posts are still relatable even to me. Here are my top 10 posts of all time.

10 – Volcano Night Tour (Hawaii, The Big Island)
In 2017, my cousin invited me to her wedding destination at The Big Island, Hawaii. I was excited for her finally tying the knot and the fact that we were able to do a family reunion marked an important date for all of us. On the last leg of my trip I decided to book a Volcano Tour to finish off my vacation. The tour had series of activities from onsite plant observation of trees used to make coffee, to doing coffee tastings and lastly, ending the tour walking through a park where we had sightings of the active volcano that we all learned erupted a year later.

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9 – Why NOT Milan?
This post was written before my big move to Milan in 2015. I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my knowledge of the city based on google search results. Re-reading this post now reminds me of the excitement I felt in getting ready to embark on this year long journey very soon. I was nervous of the unknown yet looking forward to the possibilities of my new life. For the most part, all of the information I had on this post was spot on except #4 & #9. I did not see a Filipino community anywhere nor did I meet anyone who was Filipino. As for #9, well, I managed to learn a few words here and there but, I never became fluent.

8 – Roadtrip to Scottsdale, Arizona
Probably the shortest post I’ve ever written but, stands to be one of the highest views of all time. At the time, I was a few months in after returning back from my yearlong study abroad program. I was lost, unsure of where to go from here, I debated whether I should stay or go and the most random thing came to my mind which was to go on a roadtrip.

7 – Tanning & Topless in Ibiza. Oh My!
Ibiza was one of the most fun trips I went on while studying abroad. V, my travel partner, and I spent most of our time scoping out the best beaches around and we succeeded. On our first day we walked around our hotel area with one thing in mind and that was to go to a nearby beach. We found one that wasn’t too crowded, plopped on the ground with our items and basked in the sun. As soon as we settled in our beach blankets, we both looked up and saw a woman run towards the water, topless. At that moment, we started noticing from our left to right sides that there were others too that were topless. We had no idea we were in a topless zone….or so we thought. On another day trip to a different island and a different beach, we learned that there were many other women who were topless there too. We concluded that Ibiza would be the Topless Island; hence the name of the post.

6 – The Most Resourceful Study Abroad Expat Blogs
As I mentioned, google was my main source of information before my trip abroad. I was determined to find the most resourceful information I could get to help me prepare for this year long trip. Imagine, I was going alone abroad for a year without knowing anyone and my memory from previous trips in Europe was the only thing that comforted me on this new journey I was about to take. These articles and bloggers were very resourceful and are worth sharing.

5 Top 9 Favorite Meals in Europe
If I could eat every meal on this list again I think I’d have a feast everyday. It’s tough to pinpoint which one was my favorite as they were all very good.

4 – How to Get an Electronic Metro Card in Milan
I remembered the first time I had to get my monthly metro card in Milan. It was downright confusing and I dreaded the whole experience from buying the metro card to using the machine. It was not my favorite thing to do to say the least but, I am glad it helped a few of you.

3 – Dichiarazione di Valore
Another system with a complicated process yet, a highly important document to have. Getting one would require a long lead time before you officially take off abroad as this document requires careful attention and definitely not to be missed.

2 – Apartment Hunting in Milan
Between dealing with paperworks and looking for an apartment in Milan prior to moving was stressful. I’ve moved several times but, never abroad. This was an event that no one ever prepared me for. Later on, I learned that everyone I knew in Milan also had the same issues I went through which helped ease my worry a little bit. However, at the time when I was searching for an apartment in Milan I was alone. I had no one to lean on regarding my troubles because no one understood what it was like looking for an apartment abroad, the resistance I was facing, the language barrier, the time difference and so forth. However, one thing I learned through it all was that it taught me resilience and patience that I never knew I had.

1 – You Know You’re (an American) going to Study Abroad in Europe when…
And when everything finally comes together nothing beats the exhilaration and excitement of it all. I could not believe the time had finally come to move abroad. Honestly, I don’t even remember going to the airport, flying and landing. This post reflected the last minute details I had in mind prior to leaving. Everything was a blur at that point on. Time moved quickly after I landed, I traveled from one country to another, met so many people, left with new friends & next thing you know the year had already gone by. It was one of the best time I had that shaped me in many ways and if someone asked me if I could do it again? Of course, in a heartbeat, I would.

O-JAI!

Ojai

Here we go folks! On the last leg of my trip I made a detour down to Ojai as I made my way back home to Orange County. The sun was already shining by 10am and I was very happy to be warmer than it had been in the last few days being in the rain and all.

Heading towards Ojai required driving through a narrow lane overlooking an infinite backdrop of the mountains. There were a few moments of exhilaration. The drive reminded me a lot of the view I saw when I went up to Sequoia National Park but, with less trees.

I decided to stop in one of those lookout points and observed my view. I can’t remember the name of the lake that I saw, however, it fit itself quite nicely between the rolling hills providing calmness to the overall scene.

After a few photo ops, I finally descended my way to the windy roads of Ojai and made it in downtown within a few minutes. Upon my arrival, I noticed how busy it was with people crossing the streets, walking in and out of the shops, dining outside, a few playing with their dogs at a park or casually reading in one of those benches outside the stores. It made me want to jump out and explore the town right away.

Parking was ok. I looped around the block a couple of times and finally settled on a parking spot in one of the shopping centers. I started walking around the area and found that the Farmer’s Market was the cause of the early morning traffic. aHA!

I made my way around the front of the city center and thought how similar Ojai was to Paso Robles. It is small yet packed with boutiques, home goods, restaurants, etc. with a hippie feel. I ended up at Bart’s Books, an outdoor bookstore that was featured in a teen comedy movie called Easy A among other documentaries, newspapers, etc.

I came across a museum and decided to bypass it as I wanted to stay outdoors for a bit longer. After an hour of walking, I ended my day eating at a local pizza spot and finally wrapped up my mini getaway vacation.

Pit Stop in Downtown Paso Robles.

Downtown Paso Robles

I arrived late afternoon in Paso Robles. The rain had stopped but, the weather stayed cool under 50F. I was freezing. Still, I went on like a trooper to inspect what the hype was all about.

Downtown was shaped in a circular motion lined with shops, restaurants, bars and a park situated in the middle of it all. Parking was fairly easy and free on a Sunday. I walked around looking for a good happy hour at a bar then, decided on dinner at Basil Thai Restaurant. It looked cozy from the view outside which drew me in. Surprisingly, the food was delicious.

I ordered the Thai platter plate that contained fried calamari, Thai rolls, crispy tofu, two golden bags and a sauce. As a side, I also ordered a plate of Pad Thai Noodle doubting that I may have ordered way too much food. It turned out I was hungry and ended up eating everything.

After much food coma realization, I paid for my dinner and headed out to walk a bit more around town. I was surprised to find that there were quite a bit of shops in the area beyond what you see from the center. I went in one of the stores that sold different types of olive oils and did a few tastings. That was another thing that I found out that was a popular activity in Paso Robles is olive oil tastings. They have a few of these stores around.

I walked a few more blocks when the rain started dropping. That was my cue to go home. Although, I didn’t end up doing any wine tastings on this trip, I can assure you that Paso Robles is the place to go. Coming in to town I came across a few wineries that were worth checking out but, due to time and weather I opted to come back another time.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Travel Abroad.

Me in Bergamo

Over the last few months, there have been a number of unexpected trips that have taken place, and I’m looking forward to going someplace I’ve been meaning to go for as long as I can remember in the next few weeks. My last trip abroad was about a year ago, so my travel finesse has gotten a little rusty since then.

While planning my next trip, some important items came to my mind that I seem to have forgotten. I wrote down my Top 15 Questions right away when I started planning for my next vacation abroad.

  1. Will there be a language barrier?
  2. Is early check-in possible?
  3. How far is the main attraction from my accommodation?
  4. Is taxi or Uber available?
  5. Are there any public holidays happening during the days I plan to visit?
  6. Where are the nearest public restrooms?
  7. Where is the nearest airport?
  8. Are there cheaper airports to fly into? Is it worth it?
  9. Is the place safe for solo travelers?
  10. Things to do besides the obvious? What about when it rains?
  11. What time are the regular business hours of operation in this city?
  12. Do I need a visa?
  13. What are the must see places or attractions?
  14. Do I need a voltage converter?
  15. What’s the currency difference?

A trip to Venice Beach.

Yesterday, I drove early in the morning to L.A., trying to by pass the rush hour traffic. The sun was already bright and shining; providing a moderate temperature of 75 degrees F by 9:30am. Ah, you gotta love Southern California weather, you can map out your day with no problem and you’re almost guaranteed to have a consistent weather throughout the day. As my friend and I wondered off to Venice Beach, we made a stop at my bro’s solo art exhibit at Superba Restaurant. Continue reading “A trip to Venice Beach.”

The top 5 places to see in San Juan Capistrano.

San Juan Capistrano is that small town that you may never know unless you’re a local, you grew up in the area or you’re a very savvy tourist. It is one of the places in O.C. that I can go back to multiple times and never get tired of it. To me, it feels like home. There’s a sense of a community and it offers quite a bit, probably, more than you think.  Continue reading “The top 5 places to see in San Juan Capistrano.”

Why Digital Transformation Matters for the U.S.

U.S. Customs has gone digital. For years, I think the Immigration process was a hassle for anyone. In example, filling out the Declaration Form itself was one hot mess. I remembered, on several of my flights having to scramble in my bag to find a pen. That, alone was a problem. Sometimes, I didn’t have a pen with me therefore, I would have to ask a flight attendant to borrow one or embarrassingly ask my seat neighbor. If, that’s not enough, there’s also the point of having to take out my passport, find my flight itinerary and finally, actually filling out the form. Then, all of those items would have to be put back in my bag. In addition, there was also standing in line at customs, waiting longer than necessary to be called and be interviewed about my whereabouts. All in all, the whole thing was an ordeal and thankfully, someone decided it was finally enough. Upon my arrival on my recent trip from Mexico, I was surprised by the new changes of the U.S. Customs’ Immigration process. They’ve streamlined the process now from the minute your plane lands to exiting the airport. This was explained on the television while my plane was descending in the air. Apparently, there are two different sections of navigating incoming traffic at the airport (nothing new) for International flight arrivals. You either fall under APC (new) or the Global Entry (new). Here are the differences:

Continue reading “Why Digital Transformation Matters for the U.S.”

The East Escape

bajacalifornia | astintabroad

I’m writing to you from our porch within steps from the ocean. Looking up, the water is inviting and appearing to be magnetic trying to draw me in. Ah, the East Escape is a paradise to me. Still, considered unspoiled and untouched, I come here almost every year with my family for a dose of sunshine, warmth and the ultimate serenity.
Continue reading “The East Escape”

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Visiting The Gallery District

TheGalleryDistrict | astintabroad

One of my favorite things to do in San Jose Del Cabo is walking through The Gallery District in downtown. It is definitely a must see and do when someone comes to visit for the first time. The streets are lined with small shops, art galleries, cafe’s, markets, restaurants, and much more. If, that’s not enough, every Thursdays there’s an art walk event between 5-9pm. The town comes alive with locals and tourists flocking the streets. Normally, the art galleries will have new exhibitions or a chance for people to meet with the artists. What’s not to like, right?
Continue reading “Visiting The Gallery District”