Photo Source: Melissa and Instagram
Few of us can or even want to quit our jobs to travel the world. This is why we love hearing from those who manage a 9-5 while prioritizing travel. Meet Melissa, who works in healthcare communications by day and is a travel blogger and photographer every other time.
1. Tell us about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? What inspires you to travel?
Thanks for having me! I’m Melissa, a travel and lifestyle blogger based in the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area who is always looking for my next adventure. I’m a busy 9-5er by day, working in Healthcare Communications. I love exploring new places on the weekends, especially local hidden gems. I’m of Ghanaian descent, and I was raised in New Jersey. I’m also a photographer (you can check out my work at capturedbymel.com), and I love going to concerts, reading, cooking, baking, and spending time with my family. Travel has been a huge part of my life since my childhood. My parents always made sure to expose us to new places, whether a new town or a new state. We took many weekend trips and day trips. This instilled a love of travel that continued into my young adult years. Growing up, our favorite destinations were Washington D.C., Orlando, Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia. When I was in college, we went on our first family trip to Ghana, which was an incredible experience. During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Thailand over the summer. This was my first solo trip and my first time traveling abroad. I was extremely nervous but also really excited to experience this new adventure. I’m so happy that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and was able to experience the beauty of Thai culture. Thailand will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope to revisit it soon. To date, I’ve visited 26 states and 8 countries. My love of culture, food, nature, architecture, and meeting new people inspires me to travel.
2. What does it mean to live vibrantly, and why is it important to do so?
To me, living vibrantly means living your life in a way that is fulfilling to you. It means creating beautiful moments and incorporating joy into your life - no matter how small or large those moments are. Whether through new travel experiences, wearing bold prints and colors, trying new cuisines, experimenting with hobbies, enjoying nature, freshening up your decor, or meeting new people, your life is your own. You deserve to make it as magical as you want.
I love this question! As a full-time employee, making time for travel can often be challenging. However, I’ve found creative ways to make it possible. And ultimately, I created my blog to help busy young professionals do the same. I believe that there’s more to life than the 9 to 5, and that adventure can be found anywhere – in your backyard or across the globe. A few ways I balance travel with my 9-5 are by becoming a tourist in my hometown, working remotely, booking trips around holidays, extending my weekends (taking off on a Friday or Monday - or both), and planning out my trips in advance. I talk about this a lot on my blog and social channels, so be sure to check those out for tips on how you can travel while working full-time.
4. What is your advice to those that would like to implement more travel in their lives?
Make it a priority. Start by exploring your local area. Visit parts of your home state that you haven’t yet visited. Follow your state/city’s tourism board to stay current on events. For example, I stay up-to-date on my local happenings by following Visit NJ and Visit Philly. Every state (and major city) in the U.S. has a tourism board, so it’s easy to find them with a quick Google search. Begin taking weekend trips or day trips. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll discover (and re-discover). Look for travel deals and sign up for Google flight alerts. Stay updated on what’s happening in the travel industry by subscribing to travel newsletters, such as Travel + Leisure, Tripsavvy, Travel Noire, and C.N. Traveler. If travel is something that really interests you, don’t wait. Don’t wait until you retire or for your friends to join you. Make a plan, save, research, and book the trip!
5. What is your favorite aspect of exploring locally? Why should others start taking on this practice?
My favorite aspect of exploring locally is trying new restaurants and visiting new attractions and events/festivals. When the pandemic hit, I put my international travel plans on hold. I had planned to take 2 trips abroad in 2020; however, that didn’t happen, so I was forced to adjust. As a result, I decided to make an effort to focus on local travel around the tri-state area and the northeast USA. I wanted to share cool spots with my audience and expand my knowledge of the Greater Philly area to provide great recommendations to those who asked. It’s been so much fun discovering new towns and cities that I overlooked in the past! I must say, it’s given me a greater appreciation for the region I live in. Everyone should explore locally because it exposes you to new things, experiences, and people. It also helps you become a travel “expert,” so to speak. You’ll be able to share recommendations with people who visit from out of state or abroad. I’ve lived in New Jersey for almost 3 decades and still have so much to discover. I’m always surprised to learn how many interesting things there are to do, whether it’s a festival, museum, walking trail, or restaurant.
Where else can folks find you?
You can find me at theglobalghanagirl.com. I’m also on all social media platforms as ‘theglobalghanagirl.’ If you’d like to book my photography services, visit capturedbymel.com. If there’s a topic or place you’d like me to cover on my travel blog, please don’t hesitate to reach out via D.M. or email.
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