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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 💜

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.

Traveling Alone

pexels-photo-490411.jpegWhat are your comfort zones alone?  I can do anything alone….except travel!

Personally I love to be alone.  After a while though I want to be an extrovert again which is a fear of traveling alone.  It is one of my 2018 goals…..I thought I could do anything alone since I thrive doing things alone such as movies, dinners, even a drink or two at a local bar!  I absolutely love shopping alone I mean I despise it with other people actually lol.  But I was recently faced with the opportunity to travel to Cuba alone and I froze.  There is no way I can go to Cuba alone with all of their rules right?  But it’s one of the safest places for an American to travel abroad, yet I just couldn’t.  I can literally travel to Los Angeles for a weekend alone and have the time of my life though!  My comfort zone was not having it.

I believe the paranoia came from my US Navy port visits and the unlimited trafficking/customs training we received.  Our number one priority was to remain in a group of at least two.  Sometimes you would pair up with someone you didn’t even know just for the sake of getting off of the ship.  I’ll start a checklist for traveling solo:

  1. Research the place!  You can “fly by the wind”, but have a plan!  At least a loose one that includes where to go in an emergency, lists of things you want to do, and “touristy” places.
  2. Let someone know where you are! Self explanatory.  Close friends/family should have a copy of your itinerary.
  3. Know the customs before you go!  That way if you are in a situation like my Cuba one, you will know that it is best to at least meet up with an online travel buddy than to go alone.  Some customs are as simple as women covering up.  For me, I would rather go with a group to a country with strict women rules to ensure I don’t overstep with my Western first world entitlement.
  4. Meeting new people.  Specifically love interests, let someone know what and where you will be doing whatever it is you plan on doing.  Judgment aside, sex trafficking is real.  It is good to meet up with travel partners from travel groups you are apart of that have similar interests.  I’ve read a lot of success from those and some even turn into lifelong friendships you would not have made otherwise because of distance.
  5. Popularity.  Ensure when booking your lodging that it has multiple high reviews!  Air b-n-b will provide you with ratings of the hosts along with honest travelers reviews, even detailing the location, amenities and availability of the host.  Hotels websites obviously sell a dream but their stars don’t lie!  And neither do the travel agent sites such as hotels.com/Priceline/Orbitz etc.  They allow the actual paid customers to review honestly.  RESEARCH!  Also, some lodging is a shared residency/room (Air-bnb or cruises)  Read the fine print and call ahead to request single occupancy, or book a different air b-n-b.
  6. Free Wi-fi.  Self explanatory, especially overseas.  Or at least plan on overage and data roaming added to your phone bill.
  7. Plan to set your alarm early.  Yes you are on vacation but you can sleep in on your day off at home!  Enjoy every second of your hard earned vacation.
  8. Plan some tours.  A lot of them are on Groupon and affordable, just don’t overload yourself because some tours are draining!  Research the tour because they will tell you what’s involved such as hiking or swimming and what you will need.
  9. Plan some “Me time”.  Blog, beach, Snapchat, spa.  Whatever floats your boat but make sure its what you needed.
  10. Do something different.  When traveling with others it is hard to do the things you want to do because of the compromise so when traveling alone, fit that thing you wanted to do last trip in.
  11. Take pictures.  You ever hear the phrase “If it’s not on FB then it didn’t happen”?  Well you don’t have to post every picture but I will tell you from experience you WILL regret not taking any pictures at all, especially if it is out of pride because “that’s what everyone else does” or “I don’t want to miss the moment”.  My first couple of years in the Navy I went to some bomb places, particularly Rio and I only have my memories, one of my only regrets.  Don’t be like young me lol take plenty of pictures!  Old you will thank you later!
  12. Keep it short and sweet. Now this one is my preference.  Take as long as you need but keep in mind that vacations can turn into the twilight zone after a while, and you can run out of money and it can turn upside down.  I like to keep some trips short to keep the memory fresh and fun!
  13. Stay safe! Remain positive and as long as your trip is researched and planned you will have the time of your life!

You can do it!  Please email/tag me in any of your solo vacations I would love to feature them.  Include a short description or journal entry.

 

The Blame Game

Stop blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong in life!  I have learned that it is NOT ok to accept being the bad guy in a situation, all the time!  It came full circle for me to learn that people needed someone else to be that “bad guy” to make themselves feel better and that is not ok!  It will wear and tear on you mentally.

pexels-photo-45718.jpegAccepting and owning up to your mistakes is a major maturity event.  Both sides of an argument have to do that!  Sometimes mediation from a “voice of reason” can help alleviate the need for a “bad guy”.

Once you own up to your part, then let it go!  From that point forward if the other person does not do the same, just move on and forward.  You did your part and your conscious is clear.

 

Balancing; Part 1

 

How do you balance your friends?  Women are notorious for talking about one friend behind their back with another friend then not disclosing that information to the talked about friend.  A friend of my family once told me when I was a kid that “You know someone talks about you when you are not around when they talk about others when they are not around to you” and somehow that shaped my friendship style and followed me for the rest of my life!  Like literally I am afraid of breaking a bond if I talk negatively about another friend when they are not around. Now I joke don’t mistake me what-so-ever, but I will be able to disclose what I said because it had NO ill intent.  I like to ask the question “Would they be offended by this?” and if the answer is yes, I shut up!  I’ve noticed in this social media age that a lot of people just don’t know when to be quiet!pexels-photo-356148.jpeg

By balancing though, I mean do you balance your most amazing thoughtful friends with the friends who are secretly jealous and don’t have your best interests?  Because that is definitely not fair and another thing I think we do as friends that we just don’t realize until we lose a great friend.  I know there may be some confusion on this topic so Ill try to clear it up.

When you plan a party that involves everyone splitting money and time, you see who really gives a sh** right?  Well on the other hand your really good friends are like “how in the world does this person I give my all for is friends with this selfish person?  Didn’t they cancel on me before to go hang out with them” etc. You will have friends that are willing to participate in your party 110% while watching your other friends barely put in any work.  And I’ve heard this story many times from bridesmaids ladies!  Beware who you ask to stand next to you because there is no way you have 18 true friends!  Just sayin…usually the true friends are the ones you know you can call in the middle of the night to come bail you out of the police station lol.  Thats who needs to be standing next to you, and that is who needs the most balance. pexels-photo-279470.jpeg

You just have to be mindful of things like that when balancing friends, and also vice versa.  You cannot be upset when a friend tells you no because they have to be there for someone else.  Maybe you aren’t the closest and that is ok we all have a place in life with different people.  Accepting that is maturity.

It’s My Birthday!

The significance of the Holiday known as birthdays.

We all have holidays where we are “trained” from birth to celebrate.  Well I’m not a big fan of them!  It feels too much like protocol…like a military muster lol.  I celebrate the silver linings…for example Christmas I love to see family and see on social media all the happy kids and happy parents, happy couples exchanging love I mean it all gives me joy (more-so the free time off).  But one holiday I love that WE control, that no one can take away from US, is the day that we were blessed with life.

I love how we all have a story to tell!  We all have some sort of family issues, personal drama, or a perfect life where nothing went wrong lol but its our life and our day to celebrate just that!  You get to decide how you want to celebrate it, you get to dictate what you want to do.  I like to reflect.  A little personal secret is it is when my new year starts! I get to decide to make changes on my terms! I like the entire Aquarius season to celebrate because…its the best season!  I’m a control freak I know but hey it’s our lives why not take control of them?

If you are having trouble taking control, you can start with your next birthday! Plan a dinner, shopping day, low key date, whatever fills that New Year in the world!  Celebrate your day the entire month!