My Top 10 Travel Moments of 2019

My 2019 was all about living boldly, staying connected to people and places that bring me joy, and of course trying new things! Here’s a recap of my top travel moments of 2019.

Experiences that Never Get Old

Hosting Guac Fest in NC

Although it’s been 1.5 years since I moved from Durham to NYC, I still feel really connected to NC. NC definitely won this city girl’s heart, but it’s mainly because of the truly amazing community I’ve developed there. While living in NC, my friends and I started hosting an annual guacamole competition called Guac Fest. Last year, my friend Joy and I both flew back to NC to host guac fest with our friends. It was a memorable night filled with friendly competition, fun, and delicious guac!

This lovely tradition was passed onto me by my friend Lera, and now I want to share the fun with you! Here’s how to host your own Guac Fest:

  1. Divide your friends into teams of 3 or 4

  2. Provide the basic ingredients (2 avocados per team, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, garlic)

  3. Each team brings their own secret ingredient, comes up with their team name, and a theme song to be played while they are making their guac

  4. Before making guac, each team member take a shot of tequila or any liquor of their choice

  5. Each team gets 3 minutes to make their guac and clean up

  6. The winning team is determined through blind taste testing. Each Guac Fest attendee gets two papers to cast their vote.

  7. Hand out the team prizes, eat more guac, and enjoy the company

Hostesses with the mostest!

Besties Reunion in Puerto Rico

One of my friends from my adolescent years, Frances moved to Puerto Rico to help push restoration efforts post-Hurricane Maria. It was such a treat to visit her with some of my closest friends and explore the island through her eyes. Traveling with locals is one of my favorite ways to experience the world.

Read about my 5-day adventure in Puerto Rico here.

Reaching New Milestones

Hosting my First Group Trip

After years of being the designated trip planner amongst my friend groups, I decided to branch out and organize a trip for my broader travelJewels community. The trip was a relaxing and adventurous Memorial Day Weekend getaway to Grenada! Twelve women from all over the country trusted me to provide them with an unforgettable experience. A lot of thought and intention went into the trip and I was happy that everyone had enjoyed themselves and tried at least one new thing during the weekend.

Attending the World Influencer Congress in Uzbekistan

This past summer, I was invited to the World Influencer Congress by the Government of Uzbekistan. It was a pivotal moment in my blogging career because it was my first press trip and I met so many amazing content creators. I also appreciated the opportunity to explore a country that wouldn’t have normally been on my radar.

Read about my magical time in Uzbekistan here.

Improvising Abroad

Journey to Find Curly Hair Products in Uzbekistan

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!

I went through so many emotions when I unpacked my suitcase in Tashkent and realized I left my hair products at home! After the initial shock, I decided to make an adventure out of it and try to find products to maintain my curls during my time in Uzbekistan. I spoke with many locals to find a nearby beauty supply store and eventually found one. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t any products catering to thick, curly hair, so I had to improvise and get items that would give my curls a little moisture in the extremely dry heat. The two guys who worked there spoke limited English, and my Uzbek speaking skills were non-existent, but somehow, we made it work!

Favorite Excursions

Jungle Cenote Excursion in Tulum

I finally made it to a cenote in 2019! There are over 6,000 of them sprinkled throughout Mexico. We zip-lined our way passed annoyed Howler monkeys to a secret cenote in Punta Laguna Natural Reserve.

Check out my 3-day Tulum travel guide here.

Bioluminescent Bay Tour in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Kayaking through the Bioluminescent bay in Fajardo was one of my most majestic travel experiences. There are only five bioluminescent bays in the world, and Puerto Rico has three of them. The shimmery glow produced by the microorganisms in the water can’t be captured with most cameras. Despite, not having photos of the experience, the picture is still vivid in my mind. It was so calming to kayak under the moonlight with glowing water.

Work Travel Fun

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

In 2019, I started a job in communications which requires me to travel quite a bit across the country. In pure travelJewels fashion, when possible I like to extend my work trips and have some fun.

During a work trip to LA, I flew in earlier to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park, with one of my blogging besties, Joshua Walker. This was my first time camping in a National Park! We had so much fun bouldering and camping underneath the clear star lit skies.

Eating my Way Through the State Fair in Dallas, Texas

I had an extended birthday celebration in Dallas, which was my first time in the state of Texas. If you’ve ever been to a Southern State Fair, you know you are in for some entertainment. My time at the NC State fair primed me to all the different types of fried foods and personalities fairs can attract. But as they say, everything is bigger in Texas, I was excited to experience the Texas State Fair. It didn’t disappoint! We had a great time trying the different foods and catching the different performances and expos.

The moment when you meet the most famous Texan, Big Tex!

Reconnecting & Recharging

Ending the Decade in the Motherland

I started the decade in South Africa and I ended it in the best way possible: a trip back to the motherland, visiting Ghana. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared 2019 the Year of the Return in Ghana. It marked the 400th year since the first slave ship left Ghana to head to the Americas. Although, this was my second visit to Ghana, this experience had different energy to it. It was amazing to see so many people of the African diaspora returning back to get reconnected with the continent. It was the greatest homecoming!

More to come on this experience soon!

I hope some of my experiences will inspire your 2020 adventures! Where are you going in 2020?

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Paula Pins

    What a great year you had! I love it and it inspires me a lot! Keep up living your best life!

    1. Jewels Rhode

      Thank you Paula! Happy 2020!!

  2. Jessica Redler

    The cenotes of Tulum are insanely gorgeous! Definitely a top travel moment!

    1. Jewels Rhode

      Yes! I can’t wait to explore more of them when I visit Playa Del Carmen in May.

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Jewels Rhode

Frequent Flyer. Chief Enjoyment Officer. Helping you make your travel dreams a reality!