About

SONY DSCHi! I’m Christina and I author this little blog called Stories N Suitcases.

I never intended to author a travel blog. I never really intended to do much traveling. In fact, up until about eight years ago, I’d never left the United States. I didn’t even own a Passport.

Several years later, I’ve traveled to nearly every continent on the planet—Antarctica, I’m coming for ya—and 18 countries.

So, how did I acquire a case of the travel bug?

Unintentionally.

After I had finished college, I took a job at an international aid organization headquartered in Chicago. The charity focused on humanitarian needs, primarily in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

I wish I could tell you I’ve had a burning desire to dedicate my life to social services, but I can’t. I wasn’t particularly choosy about where I worked after college, just so long as I was working. I also had a line on an apartment in the city, so when I got the call that I had the job, I couldn’t get the words, “I’ll take it,” out of my lips fast enough.

Fast forward to eight years. I’m still with the same organization, and it has completely changed the way I see myself and the world.

My first big overseas trip was for work. I had a packed schedule and was assigned to visit several of our aid projects. I started in Egypt, then moving on to Jordan, and ending the trip in Israel.

egypt
Egypt
2015-04-05 17.02.16
Israel
IMG_0576
Petra, Jordan

My time in the Middle East gave me perspective, and those that I met there provided me with encouragement to continue to go out into the world to see and learn from others unlike myself.

That sounded like pretty good advice, so I took it and haven’t looked back since.

Along Came An Aussie

In 2014 took a trip to Eastern Europe with a travel company called Contiki. On that trip, I met an Australian who, inconveniently, I fell in love with, which wasn’t on my tourist itinerary or included in my five-year plan. Equally inconvenient was the fact that the Aussie felt the same way. Apparently, love doesn’t consider agendas or time zones when it decides to strike. Did I mention that I live in Chicago? So, what’s a girl to do?

Ken and I in Prague
Ken and I in Prague

After about a year of dating long distance…really long distance, we had the talk about who would move where, visa options, living expenses, and job possibilities. If we were going to do this, we needed to REALLY do this, which meant one of us was going to experience some serious changes ahead. That person ended up to be me.

Family Dinner at Greek Islands, Chicago, IL
Chicago: Ken Meeting My Family for the First Time!

Leaving my whole life behind to start a new one on the other side of the planet was one of the hardest choices I’ve ever made. However, it was one that I knew I had to make or else, I would risk wondering about the “what ifs” down the line. It sounds cliche, but when you’re pushed to choose between your heart and your head, it doesn’t feel cliche at all.

My Beautiful Family

A lot of soul-searching happened throughout the year of dating long distance, and in the end, I knew what I wanted, and I was willing to take on the challenges that I would face to achieve it. That’s not to say there haven’t been some tough days since I’ve made the move, but I’d still make the same choice if I could do it over again.

Visiting Ken in Australia
Visiting Ken in Australia

What I Write About

My favorite parts of traveling are the unexpected moments that stay with me long after I’ve returned home. Sometimes, those moments are epic, such as when I saw the pyramids of Egypt, rising against a bright, blue sky. And, sometimes, the unexpected moments are epically horrible, such as when I got scammed in Ireland and paid $900 for a cab ride (Yes, that happened).

Travel experiences have helped me to grow as a person more than I’d expected. The good, the bad—it doesn’t matter—it’s all part of a journey. Stories N Suitcases is a place, where I share my longing for home, my tales of exploration, my difficulties in being a foreigner, and the many stories of people I meet along the way.

Living in the Same Timezone :)
Living in the Same Time Zone 🙂