Staying fit on vacay

Working out is supposed to come naturally but for me is a struggle!!!  But as one of my IG friends well quoted “I still struggle, I just don’t give up”!

I get tons of body compliments of being “thick” in the right places, or as I’ve heard recently that I’m getting “skinny” because I work out more frequent 😬😔. Well on the contrary; I am 158 pounds and 5’5” I just carry the weight in the “right places” thanks to my mama :). My metabolism with this body type is extremely slow and my appetite is always high so I have to work out to stay somewhat in shape.  My goal is 150, toned arms and less cellulite…sounds easy right?  I also work out for health benefits and life longevity.  It relieves stress which as an Air Traffic Controller I live in a lot of it! Heart disease and stroke is the No. 1 killer in women, and stroke disproportionately affects African-Americans. Working out and diet is more important than vanity for me, although what I see in the mirror makes me happy and directly reflects my discipline.

My travel lifestyle obviously presents a challenge because diet options are not necessarily  a choice.  Some airports, specifically smaller overseas airports have only bar food options.  And I live for bar food!  When you are trying to lose weight or have a health goal that includes working out you have to be transparent and honest with yourself to succeed and for me that means I can admit that while on a trip all of my food choices will be in the moment with a hint of good decision making IF there are options.  I also indulge in alcohol which also inhibits good diet decision making, among other bad decisions lol.  With all of that being said I am open and honest with myself so that I work out a little harder before trips, meal replace, and plan to meal replace upon return so that I can live more in the moment and enjoy one of the best parts about traveling which is food!

I always pack at least one workout outfit on my travels!  I don’t always get around to going to the hotel gym, and when I am in an Airbnb that’s all the excuse I need to not work out!  Most of my vacations include exploring the city and walking around which is where I get the most of my workout.  I will walk a thousand miles 🎶🎶🎶 no but seriously I might if I have a drink in my hand and I am enjoying the views.  I will schedule a cheap yoga session, or work out on the beach which is actually pretty fun.

This year I plan to work out on EVERY trip, and I plan to not let 2 days pass without some sort of activity in my workout gear lol! Below is a video of exercises my trainer, Tisch, gave me for those Airbnb trips where all I have is a 30 min window and a living room.  This can also be enjoyable outside as in the video, and on a beach!  They were very challenging and I plan on perfecting all of these moves!

Hopefully this motivates you to get in a workout or two while living ya best life!  Or even to walk a little further.  Just get something started!

Visit Go Red for Women for cited facts and more information about the health benefits of working out, and how to educate our black community properly.

Additionally if you are in the Atlanta area book Tisch Tosch Training for some personal training sessions, or just visit her site for some cool health blogs and meal plans.

Cancun Feb 2018

This trip was a last minute birthday trip for me!  I found it on Groupon!  Yes Groupon has vacations that are super affordable and all inclusive through travel agents.  They do NOT pay me (I’m not that noticeable yet) so you can trust this review. 2018-02-20_13-22-40_000

So I booked a “Travel by Jen” vacation from ATL to Cancun Mexico and it was just under $400 per person, including the hotel that was all inclusive for adults.  When booking these Groupon travel agent deals, you must keep in mind that the cheapest deal must come with an open mind.  Most of the flight deals are on the low budget airlines; this trip it was Spirit airlines.  It does not warn you on the Groupon checkout!!!  I am not sure if you can be refunded if you do not like it, but you can upgrade it with the initial phone call to other airlines if you like.  Yes, you will have to call and talk to someone because Groupon purchases alone does not confirm your flight information.  If you choose to upgrade your airline it will be much more.  We opted to stick with Spirit because my travel coins are very important and last minute flights are expensive! Obviously are bags were extra and our layover in FLL was not that comfortable, specifically coming back home.

Our hotel was not that impressive as far as the “all inclusive” part, but it was cheap so I was satisfied.  The overall free food was not that great except one restaurant where we had to make appointments.  The liquor was free, top shelf, so that definitely made this worth it.  The location was amazing and the beach was amazing.  The “all inclusive” included all water activities except boat tours.

We opted for a tour to Chichen Itza, one of the worlds seven wonders, and booked it through our hotel.  It was very easy and the total was about $60 and included breakfast and lunch.  The tour lasted all day!  I mean the pyramid is about 2 hours away deep in Yucatan so they broke it up with a few stops, one in a “cenote'” underground natural pool.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and fell for the tour trap liquor bottle with our picture lol!  But the pyramid is filled with tourist traps and people hanging out selling things so be careful!  Nonetheless it is worth it and beautiful.  We were educated with lots of Native American heritage along the way and learned the history behind the entire land.

To summarize,  traveling does NOT. have to be all lavish and expensive.  I actually try to spend the least amount of money to make more trips possible fit into my budget.  Budget airlines are not my favorite but the experience of the trip and culture outweighs the sacrifice.  Thanks for reading!

Havana, April 2018

Honestly one of the most rewarding trips, probably because of the lack of wifi and cell service lol. Because I knew there would be a lack of internet I kind of planned ahead a few activities with my girls that I will post below. The best part of our trip was the hospitality of the Airbnb host that I will also leave below. Navi made sure that we had everything we needed included taxis, internet cards and restaurant suggestions. The city was very colorful and all of the men were friendly to us lol, something I am finding to be constant in more latin countries. Everything was affordable! Our flight was less than $200 from Atlanta to Havana and every entree there was less than $8! Very affordable. We split the Airbnb and it was about $100 pp. The chemistry between my very diverse friends was awesome which gave me the idea for the travel club. Traveling together creates for an affordable and bonding getaway that creates lifelong memories. I will be forever grateful for this experience!

Cuba tips:

  • Travel for “support of the Cuban people” and book an Airbnb. That is supporting a small entrepreneur in the country.
  • Take toiletries or small items that fit in your luggage to give away. They still do not get simple imports that we take for granted. We brought female sanitation items and gave them out. Its cheap and only takes a few moments to pass out and they will be thankful.
  • Don’t sweat your Cuban visa! Purchase it at the airport, and don’t let that stop you from traveling.
  • Airbnb housing: Host Navi
  • Airbnb experiences: It wouldn’t allow me to share those via a link, but search for “Cuban soul through pictures” and “Cuban dance” Join Airbnb

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Happiness is a Choice

Don’t let anyone take away you ability to choose.

I grew up in humble beginnings.  I always thought about how great it would be if I lived in an actual house versus an apartment, own a car instead of rely on public transportation,  make a salary, etc.  Then I grew up and all of those dreams aligned to something totally different, bigger, and even more out of reach making me unhappy.  One noticeable measure of happiness is my career and going to work everyday doing something I thought I loved. I would never in a million years as a child thought life with co-workers would ever be the way it is; I would have never thought that life would be so unhappy and miserable for people with salaries and material things that I only dreamed of as a kid.

Negative energy transfers, meaning if you wake up in the morning in a good mood, go outside to check the mail and the mailmen kicks your dog for barking at them and curses at you when he drives off, then you may get an attitude with the local barista because they forgot the “no foam” on your daily coffee.  In actuality, you were so caught up in the morning madness that you actually forgot to tell them “no foam”, so now that barista is rude to the next few customers, and then is continues to transfer.

One thing I am working on is stopping the negative energy.  Gossip stops with me, attitude stops with me.  I refuse to pass it on, and I choose to be happy.  Sometimes life can be like a dog chasing its tail and we are chasing happiness.  I am learning that that is fine!  Dogs are some of the happiest creatures anyway lol and we could learn from that.  Find something in the unhappy situation you are in that makes you happy and work on that all while deflecting negative energy.  Happiness is a choice!

Decide today that you will be happy 🙂 20170228_131237

My advice for finding cheap flights

This is definitely my most frequently asked question and no, I don’t get discounts from my job. No, I’m not rich. I just prioritize my happiness and take the time to research 💜

I’m sure everyone wants to travel at heart but a couple things get in the way; schedule and affordability. I can’t help your schedule because we have to do what we have to do in order to survive and sometimes that takes a lot of our time. But once you see some free time coming up, is your budget the only issue stopping you? Maybe this blog can help!

There are many “finding cheap flights” blog posts out there, trust me I’ve scoured them all! But this one’s mines! (Yep, mines!)

Firstly, you need a travel credit card! If you don’t like credit or you have bad credit, then maybe traveling isn’t for you unless you plan on driving to London from LA. My current credit card is a Delta AMEX (I am in no way affiliated or vouching for the company, nor do I have any loyalty with them). Click here for a link to apply. The reason why are the bonus miles you get when you sign up (read the terms) which regardless of company, is about 2 round trip free flights far away so it’s well worth it. Cancel it later who cares but those initial points are worth it. If you choose to keep it you will obviously accumulate miles with purchases so the longevity of it will gain you more free flights.

Ok, since I plan ahead, oh did I mention that? No? Oh crap, yes plan ahead! Flexibility is a must when traveling for less. I know an almost impossible task, but you can do anything you prioritize. Plan! Tickets are cheaper in advance.

Google Flights is my absolute go to flight planner! Skyscanner and Kayak are pretty awesome but have yet to surpass my Google flights experience. Ok let’s search Atlanta to Miami.

This is what initially showed up if I wanted to go exactly a week from now, for one day, but I want to go in December. Click on the dates box to get an entire price calendar.

Ok, so the next point I can intertwine here; it’s cheaper to travel in weekly intervals. It may not be feasible but for a future vacation, keep that in mind. So, the 4th thru 11 is $77 which is cheap; not as cheap as I’ve seen ($50) but relatively cheap for such an awesome city.

So in this scenario I am picking the 5th thru the 8th because my days off of work are Thursday/Friday. Tying in another point, Tuesdays and Saturday will be your cheapest travel days!!! So Frontier is my cheapest option, round trip for these days. Here is where it gets technical because Frontier will nickel and dime the hell out of their customers along with Spirit. I have a Delta card and the flight will be more comfortable and my checked bag is free (def worth it). But to save $68 for a random trip, yes Frontier is a hit, just pack light enough to fit under the seat.

Research your local hubs: in the example above, Miami is an American Airlines hub so you can get a cheap flight with them, ATL is a Delta hub, Charlotte American, etc. A loophole to getting around Miami prices is Ft. Lauderdale being a Southwest hub 🤔 definitely worth researching before purchasing that flight. Unfortunately Southwest is not searched through Google flights but from my experience they’re not much cheaper and offer 2 free bags which may behoove you if you have a lot of luggage. Its worth a shot to search their site also.

When flying overseas keep in mind flights are much cheaper over there! Just save your money and get there! Another feature I love about Google is you can track a flight! Try it! They will email you when the price fluctuates and honey I use that all the time! I don’t get discounts and I refuse to pay the man more than I have to!

So back to the hubs…. once time I booked a flight to Honolulu from Salt lake city for cheap…Hawaiian Air had a hub in San Francisco Francisco they offered $300 flights from there. I just had to book a flight from SLC to SFO, where Alaska Air had a flight for $40! I just had to book each leg separately, and ensure the was enough time to layover and recheck my bags. Definitely worth the money I saved; at least $200 per ticket!

To sum it up flights are much cheaper than you think, they’re just not when you’re not flexible and open minded! These companies have already figured out holidays and popular travel patterns and reflect that in their prices.

Here are some examples of cheap flights that I would have thought were more expensive below.

So, a lot of you may not live near a hub. I used to live in Norfolk Virginia (ORF) and Pensacola Florida (PNS) and that takes some thinking outside the box and planning. Booking well in advance will be a life saver for you guys. One method is to research your closest hub; for ORF Baltimore (BWI) is my closest Southwest hub, and DC (DCA, IAD) has 2 whole airports that cater to Delta and American. You might have to drive to save, or book separate flights!

Another blog topic, but save money with Airbnb, a home away from home. My definite go-to with a group of friends, or our future travel club. I’ve spent as little as $80 for a weekend on a shared Airbnb with my girls.

Whew! That was a lot! I plan on making a YouTube video going thru all this and searching with you guys so stay tuned!

This is definitely my most frequently asked question and no, I don’t get discounts from my job. No, I’m not rich. I just prioritize my happiness and take the time to research 💜

Euro trip 2018

photo of eiffel tower
Photo by Eugene Dorosh on Pexels.com

Hey!  I took some video footage when it was on my mind this trip to log our trip instead of writing.  I can’t say I prefer this method yet because I come up with some great ideas and words after the moment in reflection.  I do however love the idea of a video log and I just think it will take some practice!  Challenge accepted!  In the meantime check out this raw footage from this Euro trip we had!

Some other things I reflected upon are the food and my favs.  The food honestly was not the best because of the lack of seasoning lol I swore to take some Lawrys next time.  There was lots of bread and carbs are not my friend!  I did indulge 🙂 but as far as my favs, the diversity in Paris was everything, along with the croissants.  There was an unlimited amount of things to do in Barcelona and we definitely were overwhelmed.  London was slightly chilly in July, but the views were amazing.  The French language is amazing and I would actually like to try to learn it!

Thank you for reading!

Picture Me Living Travel Club

nature sky traveling airplane
Photo by Tarik Nachat on Pexels.com

Hey! I’m starting a travel club to visit a few different cities in 2019. Just something I thought of to get people together.

Some will be kid friendly for the moms that find it hard to travel. Some will be couple friendly but not mandatory, or I should say “male friendly” lol. I have male friends and I don’t want to exclude them; I will just specify which destinations will accompany men/kids. They’re kinda the same anyway lol.

-Must be open minded! No bad attitudes allowed or you will not be welcome on other trips!

– The idea is to save money on lodging so be prepared to share an Airbnb. (Basically a house that we rent and you have your own room but share common space with the other women.)

-Also ideal for women traveling solo. You don’t have to know the other women on the trip! Initially it’s all people I know and people they know; very intimate. Bring friends but please inform me first so that we can discuss it together.

-Have fun! Each city will have a light itinerary but will mostly involve great attitudes and laughs. I don’t know what the food will be like, party scene if any, or culture since these cities (abroad) I’ve never been to. I’m just bringing the fun and so should you. *****Lesson learned: By light itinerary I mean some “fun” isn’t for everyone. Please read the description of events before agreeing to respect my time organizing and others splitting the cost. Once you agree the event is nonrefundable and I do not plan on entertaining complaints. If an event does not appeal to you ahead of time I can help with finding another tourist event to pass the time for us to meet up again. #Openmind is what traveling is all about right?

-You are required to purchase your airfare and I can help find cheaper tickets. Purchase them whenever you’re ready, but tickets are cheaper further away and during the middle of the week. Pro-tip: Driving is not recommended for a vacation, unless it’s a short distance. Also, try to travel in the smallest group possible to enhance your travel experience. Unforeseen circumstances happen on a long road trip/airport that bring out the worse in people.

– The end of year party is a bonus and is only for those who’ve traveled with us. Please respect the invite only and lodging at my house is first come first serve. Kennyon wants to do an Airbnb in the city so it might be there. This is a thank you for trusting my travel vision and keeping an open mind.

Tell me which ones you might attend so we can make this happen!

February– Invite only

March- Cabo Invite only but open to close friends.

June- (12-16) Grand Cayman Islands!  Notify me ASAP of your interest with a deposit so I can secure lodging!!!

July– (27-30) Glamping (Glamorous camping) Family and friends trip in Utah/Nevada

September– (23-29) Italy Rome,Florence, Venice. Details soon! Kids invited!

October- (12-15) Boston girls only trip 😼👸🏾💃🏾

December– Kid and Male friendly

Atlanta Year end NYE Pml house party invite only

Please click here to send me an email of your interests!

This post will be updated frequently with new information.

 

Writing an Open Letter

Do you have someone you would like to get something off of your chest to but you can’t because you are afraid, or they are ignoring you, or distance is in the way of your sincerity?  Well an open letter may be an option.

pexels-photo-356331.jpegI have always preferred writing!  (Clearly) But seriously I felt like there was no one to ever listen to my endless thoughts as a child so I would write.  I even wrote my teachers when I needed help with work!  Honestly, writing is maybe the truest form of communication that I have ever practiced because I prefer not to argue, and if you haven’t heard the phrase, “angry people, drunk people, and kids are the only truly honest people” then you will understand the thought process of arguing and how that is a very effective method of communication (As long as one person talks at a time and it’s non-violent).  Another reason I prefer to write is because a lot of verbal communication is fake…people normally send a representative of themselves and personally I just can’t take it.  Maybe one of my personal flaws but hey I’ll just keep writing in the meantime until I work on it.  Text messages are ideal, but they can get lost in translation, or lost in the limit of characters.

An open letter is a letter that you write…to yourself…to a younger version of you…to your children….parents….friends…..whoever!  They may not be able to read it but that is not why you are writing it.  You are writing it to get closure.

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I have some open letters, specifically one to my mother, who I can hand deliver it to right here in my city, but she will not “receive” it. ( Deep) She will appreciate it, but not be receptive of what is in the letter.  At the time I wrote it I was deeply hurt and the only healthy way to release that energy was to immediately get those thoughts onto paper and boy did it feel better.  Another letter I wrote was to my younger self.  Will I ever get a time machine to deliver this said letter to myself?  Probably not!  (If you have a time machine, I’ll just settle for sending my younger self some winning lotto numbers). The letter to myself was very hard to write, yet relieving.  It was hard to write it without the feeling of being judged.  I will blog these letters later because if I had something like this blog to read when I was younger, well it would be like reading an open letter to myself!

I would like to Guest blog some of your open letters!  They can be anonymous but just remember your road that you traveled, someone else may have a similar path filled with the same distractions that your words can help navigate through.

The Art of “No” Part 1

By far the hardest part about growth.  If it is easy to say no then chances are you are selfish and this article is not for you.  We were taught at a very early age to share, but not to say no, and being selfish is bad, but is it???

Confession:  I have been jealous of selfish people in the past!  All until I learned to become selfish…to take care of MYSELF first!  I had to learned I was taught the one-sided definition of selfish.  I had to learn that one can not ask something of me selfishly, then call me selfish when I say no.  It just does not work that way!20170223_105608

You have to put yourself first.  Mind you, if everyone is selfish in every aspect then how will we have healthy relationships?  At some point you have to extend yourself for the sake of being selfless for the ones you care about!  Please do not mistake that for this!  You have to balance your needs and mental health while being there.  Absence is not all good either, unless you plan on being alone. You have to discern who is really there just to take, and then take some more.  Some people are there just to drain you and they may not even know it and it is your job to say….NO!  When it comes to family or long term friends, it is not always intentional which is why this becomes really difficult.

No I can’t babysit.  No I can’t lend you any money right now.  No I can’t take you to the store.  And NO you do not owe an explanation!  I have definitely fallen victim to the latter.  And when others tell you no then realize they are prioritizing their life, and it’s not right to make my poor planning their emergency!  They would if they had it and I should plan better next time.  It is no ones responsibility to bail me out of my messes except my own!

This is definitely a sensitive subject and deserves some practice.  Practice saying no today in a healthy way and see how better you feel without the weight of some other issues, even if it is as simple as you relaxing after work for a few more minutes because you demanded some time alone.