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.

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.

 

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.

 

Finding the perfect swimsuit

I live for a great swimsuit selfie!  For me it showcases the hard work you invest into yourself, all while enjoying not working hard!

20180304_165447 copy This time in Miami I decided to opt out of the beach and chill by the pool since it was an impromptu last minute trip.  I got a lot of girl talk in with my cousin Ayanna and we laughed a lot about personal issues because hey if you can’t laugh at yourself then what’s the point?  Communicating is important because it is a relief of stress, even if only temporary, and it helps relationships.

IMG_20180305_110020_427.jpg

This swimsuit is from Icon Boutique.  It is their “Overboard bikini-wine” and it was only $22!  (I also live for affordable swimwear) If you shop for frequent swimwear then you know $22 is an awesome price!  It arrived fast and I couldn’t wait to wear it!  I have a couple more from that company I will wear next vacay and upload this post.

For me finding the perfect swimsuit is according to my mood.  Each vacation has a different mood since they are different times of the year in different lifestyle changes.  Some seasons call for bright colors while others call for dark.  For me when I need a pick me up I urge brighter colors and red is one of my favorites! Well, maybe yellow.  They are tied lol.  Then when I need a quick suit that covers bulges well, black is the move always.  I have at least 100 black swimsuits of all styles!  Purple is my favorite tho, yet hard to find.  Either way, find your to go suits that you can just grab-n-go, then get your extra cute ones like these for those flawless photo shoot!

 

Glamping! (Glamorous camping)

May 2017 Bear Lake Utah/Idaho

Dare to be different; dare to be YOU-nique!  The idea of “Glamping” was lame to family and not as enticing as a trip out of the country with friends, but it’s something that I wanted to experience while I was living out west.

 

 

 

It was like…The Oregon Trail (game I played in elementary school) but our version with Wi-Fi and Blue tooth speakers.  We slept outside by a campfire and roasted marshmallows like they do on TV lol, but most importantly we bonded.  Something completely out of the norm made us a lifetime of memories and I would love to do it again!

 

Hawai’i

Honolulu, Oahu
Feb 2017 journal

This vacation was in conjunction with Kennyons and my birthday. It was very planned and thought out (the price makes you put thought into it).

Traveling to Honolulu with my family was a dream come true for me.  I was in the Navy for 8 years, Kennyon 20 years, and we got to travel frequently, but alone and apart leaving our families behind.  Joining the Navy I found my love for new culture, new ideas, and new memories that last a lifetime and humbled me as well.  Taking pictures is my way of ensuring these memories do not get lost in my everyday lifestyle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Air b-n-b will give you the opportunity to live life a native of that city by renting a place that is in an apartment building, condo, or even someones house!  You have to grocery shop which enables you to meet locals and forces you to find stores and your way around!  It is also intimate since no one is there to clean and you get to enjoy your own mess!  The owners always leave a to-do list of things/experiences in the area along with restaurants and known nuances of the neighborhood.  Then theres the hotel experience which is always a delight while vacationing, its just that sometimes hotels can become somewhat of a tourist trap….a twilight zone experience is what I call it.  Touristy drinks, the hotels idea of what native food is, live bands (while you are relaxing) and maids knocking on your door at 7am!  There is obviously good and bad about both of them which is why I like to enjoy them both while on a long vacation.

We drank mai-tai’s and honestly I have had enough pineapple for the rest of my life!  We learned that it takes 5 years to grow a pineapple at the Dole Plantation which was not a fun tour lol but we did it.  We took a boat ride and watched for whales and snorkeled then sailed away into the sunset.  We learned some new vocabulary like Mahalo (Thank you) and Aloha (Hello, Goodbye).  We toured native parts and learned more about Hawaii’s foundation and toured Pearl Harbor.

Initially we lodged in an air b-n-b and it was amazing!  Picking an air b-n-b blog coming soon!  Then we lodged at the Hilton Waikiki and it was pretty touristy.  We got away from the tourist traps by hanging out with some military friends that happen to live there.

Moment of reflection:  We work hard, not for the American Dream, but to enjoy life on OUR terms.  Traveling is mines and I own that opportunity as long as I work hard.  I vow to enjoy life as hard as I work.  I vow to enhance my cultural experiences and teach my son what hard work rewards you with along with a cultural enlightening.

Thank you and I hope you enjoyed the memories I shared.

 

P.S…..Some items that made my trip easier.

Dreadlock hair jewelry. Works well with braids as well as dreads and a lot cheaper here than purchasing at a hair store considering the amount you receive.
Sumind 100 Pieces Dreadlocks Metal Hair Cuffs Hair Braiding Beads Filigree Hair Accessory, Assorted Colors

My handy-dandy backpack!  Great for airport shenanigans and a tour bus guided day trip on your vacay!

Sunglasses and Cover-Ups!

SojoS Classic Aviator Mirrored Flat Lens Sunglasses Metal Frame with Spring Hinges SJ1030 With Gold Frame/Pink Mirrored Lens

SojoS Cat Eye Mirrored Flat Lenses Street Fashion Metal Frame Women Sunglasses SJ1001 With Gold Frame/Pink Mirrored Lens