Welcome to A Passion and A Passport!
My name is Jessica and I’m a 30-something living in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband Noah and new puppy Kona.
I created this site to show you, a badass professional with a full time 9-5, that adventurous, cultural, and downright delicious travel is still possible with your already hectic lifestyle. I mean, not everyone wants to pack up their life and head out on a never-ending journey (sounds way too exhausting if you ask me).
Dreaming of faraway lands and epic travel adventures? Book that flight, indulge in that exotic dessert, and experience that culture. I’ll show you how to make your travel dreams a reality.
As I always say, don’t quit your daydream!
Born and raised in the suburbs of Long Island. Was obsessed with my furby + tamagotchi, pasta with parm, and collecting sea shells. Took many trips to Cape Cod, Florida, and my sweet grandparents houses for weekend sleepovers (where we ate ice cream for breakfast and went off adventuring on the hilly roads). Got my longing for exploration from my dad. Took 10-mile bike rides, went to tennis camp, and swam in the L.I. sound/slept in cabins/learned how to rough it at sleepaway. Begged our parents to go on cruises, resulting in many family memories on the Caribbean Islands (like that one time we all fell off the banana boat).
Graduated early and got my undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2008. Went on my first international trip sans parents → a 2 week whirlwind trip around Europe. Moved back home to study for my masters degree in Speech Pathology in 2011. Got engaged to my high school sweetheart (barf, right?) a bit after. Moved to NYC with my new fiance. Hated the long subway commutes to work but loved the kids. Got married in June 2012 on the prettiest June day. Froze to death in the tundra that is NYC from November → April, where I curled up on the couch blogging my little heart away.
Called the concrete jungle quits and moved to California (San Francisco to be exact) in 2014 for a bit of foggy sunshine. Started treating my little baby blog as a business, and worked with brands for the first time (!!!). Found my love for solo travel in 2015 (in Seattle) and became very interested in providing the tools for others to do the same. Worked in an elementary school for a bit while exploring our new backyard, playing with our cute niece + nephew, met some cool people, and adjusted to California life in general. Psst – burritos are so much better over here. Celebrated my 30th birthday by conquering my biggest fear – jumping out of a plane in Hawaii!
I live in the Bay Area with my husband Noah and our fluffy new puppy Kona, along with many plant babies (half real/half fake, what can I say?). We spend our time indulging in new restaurants in SF, taking day trips to Sausalito and Santa Cruz, paying down our ridiculous Bay Area mortgage, and planning our future trips to anywhere and everywhere in the world. Although business is booming (yes, this blog makes real money!), I still keep my current day job as an SLP (I love me some benefits and the kids are just too funny). Noah works in tech, because let’s face it, this is Silicon Valley after-all.
What i’m known for:
My ridiculously detailed 372 page itineraries
Never letting a vacation day go to waste
My insane obsession with boba and avocado toast
Busting out in spontaneous solo dance parties
We moved to SF just over 5 years ago, and have been loving California life ever since. The city is eclectic and exhilarating, diverse and delicious. And it’s absolutely stunning (the fog just adds to the fabulousness).
Looking for posts on San Francisco? You’ve come to the right place! Learn about my top things to do, favorite places to eat, popular San Francisco day trips, and where to find the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.Explore San Francisco California Bucket List
Let’s get this outta the way:
I’m fortunate to work in the education world and therefore follow the school schedule. And yes, that means I get a 2-week winter break, 1-week spring break, and a 10-week summer break (yes, TEN whole weeks). → And no, I don’t say this to brag; since I can travel more than the average folk, I can create more travel itineraries for all of you (so you can be sure your next trip is overly-epic and exactly what you need).Current Bucket List
(it’s always changing)
- African Safari in Tanzania
- Back to Bora Bora
- Road trip through New Zealand
- Snorkel in Great Barrier Reef
- Travel around Colombia
- Island Hop in the Philippines
- Road trip through South Africa
- Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia
- Churchill to see the polar bears
- Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland
- Jordan and back to Israel
- More of Morocco
CLOSE TO HOME:
- Carlsbad Flower Fields
- Sunny San Diego
- Palm Springs + Joshua Tree
- Disneyland with my nephew
- Whale watching in La Paz
- Celebrate Dia de los Muertos
- North Cascades National Park
- Denver to see the fall foliage
- Sister trip to Savannah
- Eat all the noms in Nashville
- Stargaze in Death Valley
- Eat at French Laundry
Completed Bucket List ExperiencesOverwater bungalow in Bora Bora Hot air balloon in Napa + Scottsdale Island hopping in Thailand Cherry Blossoms in Japan Road trip through Norway Cooling off in Croatia San Blas Island Fantasy in Panama Beach Days in Bali Hike an active volcano in Guatemala Skydive in Hawaii Make Pizza in Rome Meet the dragons in Komodo Color Overload in Chefchaouen Greek Island Honeymoon Paraglide in Austrian Alps Sister trip to Spain/Portugal
A bit about my adventures in solo travel:
I took my first solo trip in 2015 (to Seattle), and have been to countless other places completely solo since then! My top spots to travel solo thus far have been: San Miguel de Allende + Oaxaca (Mexico), Iceland, Hong Kong, Croatia, Mostar (Bosnia), Lisbon (Portugal), Singapore, Mexico City, Paris, and London.
If you’re thinking about taking the leap into solo travel, I highly encourage it! I leave every trip feeling so empowered, and learn a bit more about myself each and every time I’m on the road. And psst – it’s not as scary as you may think!More female travel solo tips!
Quick Travel Timeline
Care to low-key stalk me? Here’s a collection of my most memorable and adventurous travels, proving that you can, too, travel wild and free with a full time job my friend.
→ Read my in-depth annual travel recaps over here!2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Coming Soon Wanna be closer friends?
Here’s what you can do next…
Say “Hello” at firstname.lastname@example.org
See my daily life over on Instagram, where I especially love to show off my weekend trips around California and chat about all the foodie spots in SF on stories
Sign up for my monthly newsletter to get my travel itineraries and updates before the masses
Check out my Pinterest boards to see what’s on my radar for practical packing tips, easy domestic travel, far-flung bucket list inspiration, and my favorite travel items
Travel FAQSYou seem to travel A LOT! How much time off do you get? Expand
Since I follow the school calendar, I get a winter break, spring break, random holidays off, and yup, I’m able to take a 2 ½ month summer hiatus every year (I don’t have a choice- school is closed). :-p I realize I’m extremely lucky to get more PTO than most in your typical 9-5, at around 14 weeks off or so. And don’t worry- I travel every chance I get in order to continuously bring fresh new content to the site!How can you afford to travel so much? Expand
My TWO jobs, ya’ll! I work as an SLP during the week, and work on this blog every other chance I get. That sometimes means on my lunch breaks, after school for a few hours, or until the wee hours of the night on the weekend. I’m lucky to partner with some awesome brands and sponsors, which helps reduce the cost of traveling at times. However, I typically pay for my travels myself out of pocket.I work full time. Any tips on how to travel more this year? Expand
I wrote a whole entire post about it! Check that out here for tons of tips.Who do you usually travel with? Expand
I travel with a whole slew of different travel companions throughout the year. My husband tags along on a bunch of trips, but I also enjoy traveling with my sister and friends, and occasionally my parents as well! And believe it or not, I actually travel solo on more than half my trips!Isn’t traveling solo super scary? Do you have any tips to get over my fear? Expand
I’m in the middle of a bangin’ new post alllll about this subject, so watch this space. A few quick tips though:
- Keep your drinking to a minimum (know your limit and don’t go past it- no matter what). I have a hard limit of 2 drinks whenever I’m traveling solo.
- Always stay with a buddy at night (so important- you’ll most likely meet someone at your hostel – but still, don’t drink a lot, you just met them)
- Know where you’re traveling, and I don’t just mean the name of the country. Read up on safety, transportation, modesty, etc. Come prepared and you’ll feel much more at ease.
- Trust your gut. Always. If you don’t feel comfortable in a particular situation, get yourself out of there. Lie if you need to, it’s ok. Your safety always comes first.
Well, quite a few actually! I reached my goal of traveling to 30 countries by the time I turned 30, and I’m now up to ~45 (I think).
I’ve been to Aruba, Austria, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia + Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, French Polynesia (Bora Bora), Hong Kong, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, St. Martin, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the good ol’ US of A.
Phew, that was a lot of alphabetizing. :-p Check out my destinations page for more.Are you trying to visit every country in the world? Expand
Nope! I just travel to the places that interest me. And trust me, the more you travel, the longer your destination wish-list becomes. Here’s mine, which needs to be updated drastically!What’s your favorite country? Expand
This is SUCH a hard question and one that SO many people ask me. I’ll give you my top 5 (as of today but it constantly changes): Japan, Guatemala, Canada (yup, didn’t expect that now did you), Greece, Croatia, and Portugal. Ok, you got 6. 😛 But it’ll probably change tomorrow.See All Destinations >>
Blog + Biz FAQSIs blogging your full time job? Expand
No- but sometimes I secretly wish it was! I actually have another full time job (yes, I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic, but I’ve gotten reallllly good at perfecting my work-life balance over the years). And oh yea, I’m a school-based speech language pathologist (SLP)!When did you start the blog? and WHY? Expand
My first post went out in 2010, but I kinda dropped the ball and didn’t post again until 2013. Blogging was relatively new-ish back then, and I had no clue what this little baby of mine would turn into! I’m scared to go back and look at my old posts – don’t search for them please (they’re guaranteed to be absolutely horrendous….)
And the why? I’ve always loved taking photos and documenting my trips, so I started this site (which looked WAY different back then) as a public diary of sorts. Once I realized people were actually reading it and blogging was a real-life thing with the potential to gain popularity and work with sponsors, I started to treat it more like a business.What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog? Expand
A few pieces of advice, actually:
- Be prepared for a biiiiig time suck, with little to no return the first year or so. You gotta put in your time!
- Do it because you genuinely enjoy the topic, writing, building a community, all that jazz. If you’re only in it for the “freebies” (which you’ll quickly realize aren’t actually “free” at all) or potential money, you’ll be wildly disappointed.
- You gotta love your side hustle like it’s the best thing since sliced bread (or boba in my case). As I’ve alluded here, blogging is a shiiiiit ton of work.
- It’s easy to get caught up in all of it, but be sure you don’t forget about making a LIFE when you’re busy writing about your past life experiences. Make plans (that don’t involve your blog) and don’t spend alll day everyyday behind your computer. Way more advice over here and here’s how to start a blog of your own.
Ha- not at all! I have a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Everything on this site I’ve learned from trial and error, watching a ton of YouTube tutorials, and talking to others in the field.Do you make money from this blog? Expand
Yeahh… in a few different ways! Whenever I recommend a product, hotel, tour, or possibly something else and a reader clicks/buys it, I make a small commission. And see all those ads (un)-strategically placed all over? Yup, those make a decent chunk of change each month. I also work with tourism boards, product sponsors, and travel brands from time to time. It’s fun, but a whole lotta work!Do you write allllll the content on this blog? Expand
Most of it! But I am constantly looking for destination experts to bring you guys even more content on places I haven’t traveled to yet. And note that some of the images are stock photos, as I’m extremely lazy to browse through my 935638439437 photos before hitting publish. Trust me – if I didn’t use stock photos, there’d be waaaay less content on this site because yup, lazy me!Girrrrrl, why’s there so much advertising on your site? Expand
A girl’s gotta eat, amiright? In order to keep all this (awesome) content absolutely FREE for all you lovely followers/readers, something’s gotta give. And that right there, is ads. Read more about my decision to plaster ads on my site here.More Blogging Tips >>
Other StuffI’m visiting San Francisco soon. Do you have any tips for me? What should I do? Where should I stay? Expand
Ohhhh you’ll LOVE SF! First things first, never ever call it ‘Frisco or San Fran. The rest is here.You’re a NY native, correct? Why the move to California? Expand
Why yes, yes I am. Born and raised riiiight outside the Big Apple, then moved into the city once I got engaged and started working in NYC. NYC life is overwhelming to say the least, and after a few too many horrifically freezing winters, I had to make a change. I never really felt like I was meant to end up on the East Coast anyways.
So when my husband got offered a job in Silicon Valley, it didn’t take much convincing to make the move out west. Plus, I’ve always had a secret love affair for the #westcoastbestcoast. Check out our ridiculously quick cross country road trip from NYC to SF here. It was a doozy, and full of lots of sights and fast-food.Other hobbies besides traveling?! Expand
I’m into semi-moderate hiking, playing around with my camera, cheesy rom-com movies (it’s a love/hate relationship), early 2000’s hip hop, walking around target for hours (true story), and puppies. Gimmmeeeee alllll the puppies.
I’ve dabbled into astronomy, Broadway shows, realistic sci-fi movies, crafting/scrapbooking, and running (hate it in the moment, love the high I feel once I’m done). And I recently began playing a bit of tennis, which is fun when I can get the ball over the net.Are you really that obsessed with boba tea and avocado toast? Expand
Yup – no shame! What’s boba you ask? Check this out.