Meet Melissa a.k.a. The Global Ghana Girl, a British-born Ghanaian-American based in New Jersey. A Healthcare Communications Specialist by day and travel blogger/digital creator by night, she shares her personal travel experiences and inspires young professionals to balance travel with their careers so they can live vibrantly outside of their 9-5.
“I believe that there’s more to life than the 9 to 5, and that adventure can be found anywhere – whether that’s in your backyard or across the globe,” says Melissa. “Travel provides us the opportunity to recharge, experience other cultures, and connect with new people. I enjoy sharing my advice with others who would like to travel more often but aren’t sure where to start.”
Through her blog, www.theglobalghanagirl.com, Melissa helps young people easily incorporate more travel into their lives while expanding their horizons and embracing new adventures – near or far. On her blog, you’ll find travel tips and guides, hidden gems around the tri-state area, lifestyle content, food guides, and photography tips.
“Travel has always been an important part of my life. Growing up, my parents always made sure to expose us to new places and experiences. As such, we went on many weekend trips and day trips. This ignited a love of travel in me that continued into my young adult years. Our favorite destinations to visit 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 also had the opportunity to study abroad in Thailand. This was my very first solo trip. 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 that I was able to experience the beauty of Thai culture.”
Some of the ways in which Melissa has been able to effectively balance travel and work include working remotely, booking trips around public/national holidays, extending her weekends (taking off on a Friday or Monday – or both), planning out her trips in advance, and becoming a tourist in her hometown/home state. Through her blog and social channels, Melissa highlights the many benefits of local travel.
“I think everyone should explore locally because it exposes you to new things, experiences, places, and people. It also helps you ‘become more of a local travel ‘expert, so to speak. You’ll be able to provide awesome recommendations to people who visit from out of state or abroad. I’ve lived in New Jersey for nearly three 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. In addition, traveling locally (day trips and weekend trips) can be a great way to save money!”
For those who want to travel more, but aren’t sure where to start, Melissa recommends beginning with exploring your local area by visiting parts of your home state that you haven’t yet visited.
“Follow your state or city’s tourism board to stay up to date 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). Be on the lookout 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. 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!”
Focusing on local travel around the tri-state area and Northeast USA has allowed Melissa to expand her knowledge of the region. Discovering new towns and cities has helped her gain a greater appreciation for the region she calls home She is now able to provide great recommendations throughout the Greater Philly area to anyone who asks, including us! Travel Noire asked and The Global Ghana Girl delivered. Here are some of her favorite Tri-State gems to check out:
Cape May, NJ: It’s a very charming, historic town located at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore. Honestly, it looks like something out of a storybook! I recommend visiting Cape May Lighthouse, The Historic District, Washington Street Mall, and Cape May Winery.
Wilmington, DE: Delaware is a small state, but it really packs a punch. Wilmington has a small-town charm coupled with the conveniences of a big city. While in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, you must visit Nemours Estate, Winterthur Museum, Mt. Cuba Center, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington Riverfront, Delaware Art Museum, Wilma’s, and Riverfront Bakery. You can check out my Wilmington guides here and here for more information.
Lehigh Valley, PA: Lehigh Valley makes a fun and convenient getaway as it’s only an hour from Philadelphia and about two hours from NYC. Lehigh Valley is made up of Northampton and Lehigh Counties and has three unique cities: Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. The good news is they’re very close to each other so you can see all three on a weekend. Whether you’re interested in museums, trails, parks, great restaurants, or festivals, Lehigh Valley has it all. I recommend visiting The National Museum of Industrial History, Allentown Art Museum, Historic Bethlehem, and Downtown Easton. Don’t forget to go on a covered bridge tour as well! For great eats, check out Sports & Social, Bayou, and Zest Bar and Grille (my personal favorite!) I have a full travel guide on my blog here.
Hudson Valley, NY (Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Hudson): The Hudson Valley is a splendid place to visit during the summer or fall. There are tons of quaint towns to see such as Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, and Hudson. I think it’s absolutely possible to make it a one-week trip. If you love murals, coffee shops, beautiful landscapes, and historical landmarks, then you’ll love the Hudson Valley. Some of my favorite places around the Hudson Valley are Olana State Historic Site, Fishkill Overlook Falls, Walkway Over the Hudson, Bear Mountain State Park, and New Croton Dam. Grab a delicious pizza at Pizza Shop or tacos from Hudson Taco.
Bucks County, PA: Bucks County is brimming with restaurants, cafes, museums, bustling towns, and natural attractions. This also makes for a great weekend getaway or day trip. While there, be sure to visit Fonthill Castle, The African American Museum of Bucks County, the Michener Art Museum, and Downtown New Hope. If you’re looking for dining options, Solstice in Newtown, PA is my favorite restaurant in Bucks County. The food is just spectacular! I have a guide on my blog that provides a more in-depth look at what to see and do in Bucks County. You can check it out here.
Lancaster, PA: Lancaster (also known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country) is a bustling city filled with rich history, beautiful farmlands, unique architecture, and excellent cuisine. It’s located about two hours from Philadelphia and about three hours from NYC. You’ll want to visit The Turkey Hill Experience, Strasburg Railroad, Amish Country, and Central Market. If you’re looking for great places to eat, I recommend The Exchange (rooftop with excellent views), Lancaster Cupcake (for a sweet treat), Lancaster Brewing Company (good brews and pizza), and Prince Street Café (delicious wraps and healthy options.)
In the future, Melissa hopes to visit Jim Thorpe, Martha’s Vineyard, The Finger Lakes, Stowe, Vermont (especially for the foliage), Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap, Smithville, NJ, Van Vleck House & Gardens, and Deep Cut Gardens.