15 Life Lessons Learned on the Hike to Sant Jeroni

I try my best to learn SOMETHING new when traveling solo and my recent hike to Sant Jeroni in Montserrat was definitely life changing. The highest peak is 1,236 m (4,055 ft), the hike is an estimated 4-5 hours going up and down, but it took me close to 7. I wanted to turn back so many times, but I happy to say I completed it. Here are fifteen life lessons learned when hiking up the mountain to Sant Jeroni.


Sant Jeroni Smiling

Sometimes you have to go alone

The trip to Barcelona, the journey from Barcelona to Montserrat and the hike was done on my own. I initially wanted to take a tour, but my indecisiveness caused me to miss out on the one provided by my hotel. With some tips from the concierge and my own research I was able to find my way (and save money). I initially wanted to go to the top to get nice aerial views but it became more motivational after a while.

There will be obstacles

From narrow paths, rocks, stairs going up and down, to me not wearing the proper shoes, many things were in the way at times, but it didn’t stop me from going forward. Similarly to life’s journey, you should always find your way through any obstacle.

Sant Jeroni paths

Find a source of encouragement

With no one there to cheer me on, I had to find a source of encouragement to keep going. I spoke affirmations, sang encouraging songs and pushed myself to the very end.

You’ll encounter different people along the way

On the hiking trail to Sant Jeroni, there were many men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds along the way. Some were nice while others just passed me by. It didn’t affect my end result in any way.

Don’t compare yourself to others

While going up I became discouraged when people that started after me got ahead before me. I immediately checked myself because I realized everyone’s journey through the hike was for different reasons. There were 15-20 minute trails, the full hike to the top and others were there for rock climbing or have picnic lunches. Comparison is really the thief of joy. Appreciate each step you take in your own walk.

Rest when needed

I barely work out and became breathless often. Had I not rested and recharged, I could’ve passed out or something much worst. Don’t believe the “sleep when you die” hype. Everyone needs to take a break every once in a while.

Follow helpful signs

Along the trail there were helpful signs allowing me to estimate the amount of time left going up and down. It’s your choice at the end of the day to follow the sign or get lost making the journey a little longer than it should.

Sant Jeroni Signs


3 Ways I’m Looking to Grow in 2017

I took a break for the past few days to spend time with friends and family, practice self care and map out how I want this year to go. Last year I set goals and pushed myself to Do Better and it resulted in me becoming [somewhat] more consistent and realizing the value I have in the platforms I’ve created. I decided that my goal for 2017 will be Growth.

Grow /ɡrō/ verb

  • to become larger or greater over a period of time; increase.
  • cause (something, especially a business) to expand or increase.

Grow on Social Media

Since starting photo funday in the end of the summer, I started posting better quality photos and saw more engagement online. I finally hit milestones on Twitter and Instagram and hope to continue the trend of gaining more followers through my online platforms.


Joanna E. Best of 2016

2016 was a great year for the Joanna E platform as a whole. I’m truly grateful for every social share and excited to see what 2017 has to offer. If you’re new here or have missed a few posts, here is Joanna E.com’s best of 2016

10 – 3 Ways to Find Extra Money to Travel

Written for those who ask how I find the money to travel so frequently, this post shares three simple ways to get extra money for your next solo, group or family vacation.

9 – What to Do When You Find a Glitch Fare

If you ever see an unbelievably good price for a flight, chances are it’s probably a glitch fare. I share the do’s and don’ts associated with flight deals after finding them online.

8 – 5 Ways to Make Adulting Easier

The only post that’s NOT travel related, turning 30 this year made me feel like a “real adult”. I share five things that have made the adulting process a little easier for me throughout the years.

7 – Best Hairstyles for Playing Mas

Carnival Season is official here and before you know it, it’s carnival Tuesday. If you’re playing mas for 2017, I share different styles to wear your hair for any carnival. You can also check out my “Get Ready With Me!: Carnival Edition video below:


6 – Lifestyle Holiday Vacation Club Resort Review

This post was written in 2015, but seemed to peek its way in the best of 2016. It is a room tour and full review of the Lifestyle Holiday Vacation Club resort in Puerto Plata. I’m hoping to do another all-inclusive resort review when I visit Cancun in March.

5 – 10 Must Haves for the Perfect Beach Day

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I LOVE the beach. In this post, I compiled a list of ten essentials for a successful day at the beach. 

4 – 10 Museums in the US that Promote African American History

Also found on the Huffington Post for African American History Month, I gave a list of 10 museums promoting black history. I received so much great feedback on Facebook, I share 10 MORE Museums the week of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opening.

3 – 100+ Caribbean and Black Owned Businesses to Support this Holiday

A huge “Thank You” to everyone that shared my list of Caribbean and Black-Owned Business post. Hopefully it helped in the purchase of awesome Christmas gifts.

2 – How I spent 3 Days in Barbados

Visiting Barbados was both relaxing and enjoyable. Even though my cousins and I missed Oystins Fish Fry, we still made it to see sights in Bridgetown, Harrison’s Cave and party on the St. Lawrence Gap.

1 – Travel for Cheap! How to Get a Flight Deal

With an exception of Thailand, all of the trips I went on in 2016 was finding a flight deal online. I share my resources and give tips on what you should and shouldn’t do when you actually get one.

From the results, I see my readers love travel tips and buying black; I’ll definitely share more of both in 2017. As mentioned, I am going to be doing more travel, beauty and style videos on YouTube so make sure you’re subscribed to see updates.

Joanna E. Best of 2016

What has been your favorite post for 2016?

2016 Travel Roundup

2016 is coming to a close and I’m excited to share a roundup of my travels for the year. Between discovering extra vacation days and finding flight deals, random trips seemed to come up a lot this year. Including day, weekend trips, and days off,  I visited 5 countries and enjoyed each and every experience. Here’s how I traveled in 2016 while still working a full time job.

2016 Travel Roundup


January: Atlanta, GA

I kicked of 2016 by visiting Atlanta again for Martin Luther King Jr weekend. Although it was a planned and I enjoyed away time with my sister and god sisters, it ended up being more business than fun. We did get to rest, and I got a chance to test drive the Ford Escape.

Days used – 1 + weekend

February: Cartagena, Colombia

My first time in South America was to Cartagena, Colombia. It was my second solo trip and while I didn’t have the best time ever like Curaçao, it was still a great experience to be away on my own again. I did a Trolley tour, walking city tour and visited Playa Blanca in Isla Barú.

Days used – 4

March: Ocean City, MD

The first of many. In March, I visited my god parents in Ocean City, Maryland for a Frozen themed birthday party. The price and location was great and I got time to bond with my nieces and nephews. I even used the option work remotely since I left from Pennsylvania instead of NYC.

Days used – 0 + weekend

April: Christ Church, Barbados

Planned 3 weeks ahead, my cousin and I celebrated my 30th birthday a week early in Barbados. In addition to our great stay at the Bougainvillea Resort, the highlight was linking up with my cousins from Trinidad who happened to be visiting the same weekend.

Days used – 2 + weekend

Bridgetown Barbados


Natural Thai Takeover: How We Spent 8 Days in Thailand

It’s been a little less than 10 days since returning and I’m still excited about my girl’s trip to Thailand. In the little time that we spent in the country, we tried our best to do something everyday. If you haven’t had a chance to check highlights from my Instagram, here’s how we spent eight days in Thailand for the Natural Thai Takeover.

Natural Thai Takeover How We Spent 8 Days in Thailand

Day 1 & 2- Exploring Bangkok

After traveling for 24 hours, we checked into the AETAS Lumpini hotel in Bangkok to shower and get lunch at Chandrphen Restaurant. We also checked out Khlong Toei for dinner, nightlife and fun-filled Karaoke. Our second full day in Bangkok was more formal as we drove through Chinatown, Little India, the fruit market and Wat Pho. We also took the train to Bangkok Chatuchak weekend market for some souvenirs and last minute necessities for our trip to Phuket. I had the BEST coconut ice cream from CocoJJ

reclining buddha at wat pho

Day 3 – Island Hopping in Phuket

We left dinner at the hotel early to catch our flight to Phuket for a day. The tour chosen made stops at Maya Beach, Phi Phi Don and Khai Nok Island. It included round trip transfers, some snacks, unlimited soft drinks, water, lunch and fruit. We used the Sunday to take fun vacation poses and relax.


natural thai takeover - phuket island hopping (more…)

5 Tips For Visiting Temples in Thailand 

On my recent trip to Thailand, our tour with Gate 1 included trips to several temples (or wats) including Wat Pho, (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Chai Wattanaram Temple, Royal Summer Palace and Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic). Much like Mosques, Synagogues and Churches, there are do’s and don’t’s associated with ones appearance and behavior. If you plan on visiting some of the temples on your visit to Thailand, here are 5 tips to be mindful of.

5 Tips For Visiting Temples in Thailand 

Get there Early

The temples get very crowded throughout the day. As mentioned, the country is mourning the death of king Bhumibol Adulyadej, so people go to the temples to pay their respects. It is also a time where the people bring food and gifts for the monks.

Get a Guide

It’s very helpful to get a guide when visiting the temples in Thailand. On our visit to Wat Pho, we learned:

  • Prangs and stupas have former Siamese kings, revered monks or disciple’s cremated ashes enshrined in them.
  • Some stupas have Buddhist and Hindu motifs
  • The doorways to the temples are statues of Chinese warriors, philosophers and Marco Polo

5 Tips For Visiting Temples in Thailand 

Cover Up

It is extremely important to be modest when visiting the temples in Thailand. Our tour guide suggested we avoid wearing “Bow Wow” clothing (when you bow, the people say ‘wow’). Stay away from clothes that don’t cover your knees, shoulders and mid section. Hats aren’t permitted either. Depending on their discretion, you may need to rent clothing. When visiting the Royal Summer Palace, I wore a maxi dress, but they determined it was ‘too sexy’, so I rented a wrap skirt and top for 500 Thai Baht.


2016 Travel Gift Guide

This is not a sponsored post, but some links contain affiliate links. For more information feel free to check out my Disclosure Policy.

Christmas is a few days away and if you’re like me, you haven’t started (or finished) shopping. As busy as I am, I do know what traveler’s like. If you’re looking for quick gift options for adventure and travel lovers, read more of my 2016 Travel Gift Guide.

2016 Travel Gift Guide

Smartphone Camera Lens

If you’re limited on funds, purchase a smartphone camera lens. Most lenses like the Mpow Mlens has 3 different lens types for different photo effects. 

GoPro + Accessories

If your traveling friend or family member is more of an adventure traveler, a GoPro is a great action camera that is also waterproof. Most of the newer models are also wifi enabled to upload pictures and videos to a phone, tablet or computer. Purchase the camera by itself or save some money by getting an accessory bundle.

Luggage Set

A gift I personally purchased for myself. A new luggage set is an awesome gift for someone on the go. Do some research to get the best ones available. Most sets come with 10+ or limited lifetime warranty. Popular brands include Nine West, Samsonite, Kenneth Cole and Traveler’s Choice. Try not to purchase a black set since it is hard to identify when picking up from baggage claim.

Packing Cubes

Make packing easier by using packing cubes. These are great for families and long trips. Read more on how I used packing cubes to fit a week’s worth of clothes and bathing suits in a small carry-on.

Waterproof Smartphone Case & Dry Bag


3 Easy Ways to Combat Dry Skin This Winter

I received the Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer for my review. As always, opinions expressed are my own

I’ve lived in NYC my whole life and I have yet to appreciate the wintertime outside of the holidays. Having visibly dry skin when winter comes around isn’t attractive so like my hair, I had to create a regimen to keep my skin moisturized. If you suffer with dry skin when it start getting cold out, here are three easy solutions to keeping it moisturized.

Daily Cleansing

Cleansing your body on a daily basis helps get rid of unpleasant smells and bacteria buildup. If you’re a regular gym user or perspire a lot during the day, shower or bathe more than once a day. A 10-15 minute warm bath or shower is best because it doesn’t strip the body of it’s natural oils. Use an antibacterial soap with moisturizing properties for a better feel. 

 3 Ways to Combat Dry Skin this Winter


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin from the surface of the epidermis. Results of exfoliation include softer skin, clearer pores, and prevention of potential acne on the face and body. You can purchase face and body scrubs from your local beauty supply and health stores or make a quick one at home using salt, sugar or even coffee as a base. 


The third way to managing dry skin is to moisturize. After showering, consider using a wet skin moisturizer like Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer. I first tried a wet skin moisturizer last year in Curacao and called it a “conditioner for my skin”. The Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer works by penetrating the skin’s surface and brings moisture to the source of your dry skin. It’s immediately absorbent once applied and doesn’t feel greasy at all. Even though it’s been a few weeks, I’ve already seen a difference in my skin’s appearance. Along with other winter favorites, the Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer will most likely be a staple.

Do you suffer from dry skin in the winter? What steps do you take to keep it moisturized?

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