Tips for Choosing the Right Travel Partner

Tips for Choosing the Right Travel Partner

 

Every time I return from a trip, I get a ton of messages from people asking me to let them know when my next trip is.  I’m always flattered that people want to travel with me, but I how do they know I’m a good person to travel with?  They don’t!   One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while following my passion of wanderlust is to be careful who I choose as a travel partner.

Today I’m giving you tips on things to consider when you’re choosing a travel partner and I’ll also share a few of my horror stories.

 

Check Their Temperament and Their Manners
I’m a pretty go with the flow type of person so I like to travel with people that are the same way.  I do not enjoy having an itinerary when I’m on vacation. I’m down to do maybe one or two excursions but after that, I want to do things at my own pace or do nothing at all.   I have an itinerary Monday-Friday so I don’t need one on vacation okurrrr.  Some people love having their whole vacation planned out.     If you’re not a turn up and go clubbing type of person, you may not have a lot of fun with a person who is that way, and vice versa.  This is extremely important to consider.

You’ll also want to consider your travel partners manners. Do you really want to travel with someone that is mean and rude?

Story Time: On two recent trips I traveled with people that were a bit on the rude side.  Everywhere we went they were nasty and rude to the locals.  While you shouldn’t be rude period, I definitely think it’s important to not be rude when you’re visiting a new place (especially another country).

 

Make Sure they are Open Minded
You may find yourself in some pretty unique situations when you’re traveling.  This is especially true when you are traveling internationally.   Make sure that you’re traveling with people that are comfortable with being outside of their normal environment and know when and when not to make comments about what they see.

Story Time:  On a trip to Mexico we did a tour through the forest.  The tour guide was excited to show us the Mesoamerican tree.  This tree produces a gum that is often used to make chewing gum.  Each person in the group grabbed a piece from the tree and we were encouraged to try it.   I have to admit the gum was pretty gross, but we all knew not to make comments about it.  However one woman proceeded to yell that the gum tasted like (insert expletive) and she spit it out.   Her friends were pretty embarrassed and the tour guide was definitely insulted.

 

Hang Out with Them First
You’re going to be in close quarters with your travel partner for an extended amount of time.  So, before extending an invite to someone to travel with you, think about how it is to hang out with them.   Ask yourself: “Do I like spending time with this person?”  or “Are they prone to get on my nerves?”  If it’s someone you’ve met on social media, try planning a casual meet up see to how you vibe with them first.  Chances are, if they get on your nerves at home, it’s going to be even worse on a trip.

Story Time:  I took a trip with someone that kind of got on my nerves.  I can be kind of moody, so I thought it was just me trippin’ and she probably really wasn’t that bad.  Nah bruh, sis was REALLY THAT BAD. When other people told me they caught the same vibe, I sighed in relief because it wasn’t just me!  She really showed her true colors when we took a trip half way across the globe! Man sis was needy, bougie, pretentious and just plain old irky.   I found myself getting ready to spend $2000 just to get home early because I couldn’t deal.    Lesson learned!

 

I’m Ready for My Close Up
This is going to sound vain but, in order to be my travel partner you need to know how to take a GOOD picture.   As a travel blogger, snapping the perfect shot is important to me.  So, ideally I like to have a travel partner that:

  1. Doesn’t mind taking my pic until I get the right one
  2. Understands the art of capturing the right picture (I gauge this based on peoples social media pics LOL)

The only time I don’t post pics of my trips is if I didn’t have a good photographer. One of these days I’ll invest in a tripod so I can take my own… but until then I’m relying on my travel partner.

If photos aren’t a big deal to you, then this doesn’t matter.  But, if you want the right snapshot, test out your future travel partners photography skills.

 

Money Matters
Money isn’t everything, but it can definitely make or break a trip.  When planning a trip with someone you want to make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to the budget for your vacation.   You don’t want to lower your standards for your accommodations because the person you are planning to travel with is being cheap.

Money can also be an issue when it’s time to pay for a trip.  As a rule of thumb, only book travel when you have everyone’s money in hand.  If they don’t have the money when it’s time to book then they’ll have to catch you on the next trip.   You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’ve paid for everything and you’re chasing someone down to get your money back.  Plus, if they don’t have the money when it’s time to book, then they probably aren’t going to have money on the trip, and that will take you down a whole other rabbit hole.

Story Time:  My relationship with one of my family members is pretty much non-existent after a girls trip gone bad due to money matters.  We went out of town and she waited until we got to our destination to let me know she had limited funds.  She asked me to cover her and promised to pay me back when we returned.   When we got back, she stopped answering my calls and texts and I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

 

Patience is a Virtue
Think about your patience level while traveling, this is especially important if you are traveling with someone that doesn’t have much experience.   When traveling with a newbie, there are going to be a ton of questions and you are going to have to explain a lot.    Traveling can be really overwhelming at times, but if you’re traveling with a beginner it can make things feel even more chaotic.   Take a minute to analyze your own patience levels and if you don’t think you can travel with a beginner, then save yourself a headache and don’t!

Remember, all travel partners weren’t created equal!  Choose wisely!

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Beautiful Curacao

Beautiful Curacao

 

Bon Dia!

Last month, I took  an amazing trip to Curacao!    Did you know Curacao is one of the cheapest islands to travel to during the winter?   Airline tickets drop as low as $300 and hotel accommodations start at $96 during the winter months.   If you’re on a budget like me, it’s the perfect travel destination!

Curacao is the most colorful island in the Caribbean, it is known for its brilliantly hued buildings and beautiful beaches.   You’ll fall in love with just exploring and learning more about the culture.

 

The Weather
Curacao is beautiful all year round!  It’s not extremely hot, they have the perfect weather.   One of the best things about Curacao weather is that the island is generally not affected by hurricanes, the hurricane frequency is about every 28 years.  The last hurricane to hit Curacao was Hurricane Felix in 2016.

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The Culture
Life in Curacao is just as laid back as it is on any other island in the Caribbean.  I had to remind myself when service was slow, that I was used to everything being so rushed back home.

Most of the people on the island are Afro-Caribbean, however there are also many Dutch, French, Latin American and Asian people on the island as well.  It’s a melting pot just like America!

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Curaçaoan man outside of Kokomo Beach

While English is widely spoken on the island, we took time to learn the local language Papiamento, it’s a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Some of the phrases we learned were:

Bon Dia – Good Morning
Bon Tardi – Good Afternoon
Bon Nochi – Good Night
Ayo – Goodbye

We also learned the term “Dushi”, which sounds like a bad word but it actually has a beautiful meaning:

dushi

There’s very little crime on the island, the local jail only has 75 inmates.  Clearly, a huge difference from here in the US.

For the most part, the people are friendly.  We did run into a bit of racism in the Jantiel area of the island.  Nothing too extreme, just a lot of pointing, staring and laughing.   We brushed it off and continued to have a great time.

 

Exploring
The Punda District in Willemstad is known for its’ colorful buildings.  Buildings in the area used to be all white.  Word on the street is, the Governor of the island suffered from severe headaches which he believed stemmed from the brightness of the sun hitting the stark white buildings.   He ordered that all buildings be painted any color but white.   It was later discovered that the Governor had a large share in the islands only paint store… #shadyboots

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Colorful buildings in Willemstad

 

Street Art is EVERYWHERE… every corner we turned we found beautiful murals

 

One of my favorite things about Willemstad was the shopping.  There were so many cute shops and restaurants in the area.   I highly recommend stopping past Bamali, it’s a cute accessory and apparel shop in the middle of the Punda District.  It’s owned by a woman name Marjorie and she makes everything in the shop by hand.

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The hat I had made by Marjorie, designer and owner of Bamali

 

While you’re in Willemstad be sure to buy a Chichi.  Chichi’s are symbolic in Curacao, they represent the older women in our lives that we hold in high esteem, like mothers, grandmothers, mentors, aunties etc.  The Chichi statues are curvaceous and beautifully painted.  I didn’t buy one, but I def took a pic with one… and I may or may not have checked to make sure she didn’t have breast cancer.

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Me and the Chichi

 

Oh and be sure to stop by the Punda Love Heart to “Love Your Love”  before you leave Willemstad!  The Punda Love Heart was created to celebrate the local artists in the community.  But, love locks have a deeper history.  Over 100 years ago a school mistress and a Serbian army officer wrote their names on a lock and placed it on the Bridge of Love in Serbia.  This tradition spread throughout Europe and people have “locked their love” on bridges all across the continent including the Ponts de Arts Bridge in Paris.

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Punda Love Heart
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Locking our love

 

As I mentioned before, the beaches in Curacao are amazing.  We were fortunate enough to get to two of the beaches, Kokomo and Mambo beach.  The most popular and most beautiful one is Klein Knip beach.   I can’t speak for Klein Knip beach, but be sure to bring water shoes with you to the beach, the rocks in the water are slippery and kind of painful to walk on.

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Panoramic view of Mambo Beach

 

Kokomo Beach has the cutest swing in the water that is perfect for snapping a pic for the gram.  Unfortunately, my lack of upper body strength and coordination wouldn’t allow me to get on the swing.  I’m determined to able to get on it next time!

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Sunset view of the Kokomo swing

 

Food in Curacao
Food is a major part of my decision to travel to Curacao.  One of my foodie friends told me how good the food is in Curacao and she was right! Everything we ate in Curacao was absolutely amazing!  It’s a big difference from the junk so many of the restaurants here in the US serve.  I didn’t see one McDonalds while we were there, but they love Subway – I saw quite a few of them.   I highly recommend Zest Beach Grill in Jantiel, Mistral Bistro in the Punda District in Willemstad, and De Visserij in Piscadera Bay.   Fresh seafood is incredibly inexpensive and will not disappoint.

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Shrimp basket, fried tuna, french fries and “funchi hassa” (fried polenta)  – De Visserij

 

Here are a few things I wish someone told me before I left:

  • Taxis are expensive, rent a car it will cost $40 per day. We spent $250 on taxis in just three days. (someone actually told me this but I thought I knew what I was doing)
  • Racism is Alive and Well – Certain areas like Jantiel seem to not like persons with highly melanated skin. It’s nothing too extreme but it’s definitely noticeable.
  • DO NOT stay at the Floris Suite Hotel, they have cockroaches, the rooms smell like mildew and the customer service is terrible. Even TripAdvisor will make you think this hotel is beautiful… trust me it’s not!
  • If you like to partake in libations, bring your own alcohol, the majority of cocktails we had were severely watered down.
  • Don’t leave without visiting Klein Knip beach… the locals call it Kinippa
  • Bring mosquito spray, the mosquitoes are definitely hungry down there. Oh, and beware of the flies… there are a lot of flies!
  • When you go to Mistral Bistro, ask Robert to make you a Rum Punch… its BOMB!
  • Stay at the BijBlaw (pronounced BAY-BLOWWWWW),  the hotel is beautiful and the food is bomb!
  • Bring cash with you, they accept US currency everywhere!
  • Oh, and remember “Dushi” isn’t a bad word!

 

 

I really hope you’ll check out Curacao!  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Ayo Dushi!! (Goodbye Beautiful)

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9 Tips For Surviving Your First Flight

9 Tips For Surviving Your First Flight

 

So you’ve booked your first trip via airplane and now you don’t know what to expect, right?  Well, I can help you with that!  First things first… calm down and take a deep breath!  Flying is a breeze and there’s nothing to worry about!  You’ve got this!

 

Secure Your Travel Documentation

In order to board your flight you’re going to need various travel documents like a driver’s license or a passport.   Personally, I like to put my passport in my personal bag I take on the plane months in advance.  One of my biggest fears is not having my passport when I arrive at the airport.  It’s also a good idea to print your airline and hotel confirmations. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

Verify Baggage Information

The first time I had ever planned a group trip, I didn’t realize that airlines had started charging for checked luggage and I didn’t account for that cost.    Many airlines charge for checked luggage and carry-on bags, so before you head to the airport make sure you know what to expect when it comes to baggage restrictions and costs.  Skyscanner.com has a great feature where you can find baggage restrictions and fees here.

 

Be Patient

I cannot stress this enough.  Flying takes a lot of patience.  There are lines EVERYWHERE, lines at the check-in desk, lines in the security line, lines to board your plane.  Remember that everyone at the airport has the same goal… and that’s to get to their destination.  If you find yourself stuck in line at any point, take a deep breath and remind yourself to be patient.  You’ll get to your destination, don’t worry.

 

Arrive Early

As I mentioned previously, there are lines everywhere at the airport so ensure you arrive early so that you don’t run the risk of missing your flight.   Some airports like Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare, are known for having long lines to get through security.  Even after arriving early, I’ve come VERY close to missing my flight at these airports due to the long lines ( this, prompted me to get TSA pre-check cuz I ain’t missing no flights honey).

Here is the method I use:

  • If I’m not checking a bag, I arrive an hour early
  • If I’m checking a bag, I arrive 90 minutes early
  • If I’m traveling internationally, I arrive two hours early

This method has yet to fail me!

Note: Many airports provide information on their website regarding wait times at the security checkpoint.

 

Check-In First

When you arrive at the airport the first thing you should do is check-in at the airline desk, so that you can get the documentation you may need, like boarding passes.    This is a better method than checking in at the Skycap because you’ll be able to ask specific questions pertaining to your flight as well as get any updates.

Note: download the app for the airline you’ll be flying with so that you can obtain an electronic copy of your boarding pass.  This lessens the amount of paperwork and documentation you have to carry in your hand.   

 

Go Through Security

When going through security remember that there may be lines, so please be patient.   Be sure to bring socks, you will have to take your shoes off and it’s disgusting to put your bare feet on airport floors.     Be sure to pay close attention to the direction of the TSA Agents and things will go smoothly!

Note: If you see the TSA Agents with their dogs, this indicates that you don’t have to take your shoes off!

 

Head to Your Gate

Once you get through security, before you run to the bathroom or grab a bit to eat, head to your gate so that you know exactly where you are going.   There will be large screens throughout the airport that air flight information, including gate information and departure status.    Take a minute to check the screens to ensure your gate Hassan not been changed.

Note: many airports are going silent and are not announcing gate changes and updated flight information over the intercom.    Be sure to check the status of your flight via the airline app or flight status screens throughout the airport. 

 

It’s Time to Board

Planes are boarded by zone, you can find your zone on your boarding pass.   Once you board the flight, look for your seat number.  You’ll find it right below the overhead bin.   Once you’ve found your seat be sure to quickly put your personal items away as others are still trying to find their seat and get settled, you could be holding them up.

 

On the Plane

When flying, due to the change in atmospheric pressure, your ears will pop.  It’s not really painful, but it is pretty uncomfortable.  To avoid the discomfort of ear popping you can do things like, chew gum, use filtered ear plugs, or taking a decongestant.  Additional tips can be found on the Mayo Clinic website

Flight attendants will come around offering complimentary snacks and beverages (depending on the airline).  If you’re feeling a bit fancy or want a little more than pretzels and peanuts, many airlines offer other menu items at an additional cost.  Cash is not accepted, so be sure to have your credit/debit card handy.

 

Happy travels… and congratulations on getting your wings!

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Benefits of Traveling with a Tour Group

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Recently, I returned from an absolutely amazing trip to Antigua.  One of the coolest things about this trip was that I went with a travel group.   Now that I think about it, this wasn’t the first time I had traveled with a group, but it was one of the best tour group experiences I’ve ever had.  All fun and no drama… just 22 women with the common goal of exploring the world and having a good time!

There are so many benefits to traveling with a tour group:

Everything Is Planned For You

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Catamaran boats

Planning excursions when I travel has always been really overwhelming for me.  There are always so many options to choose from.  But in most cases, when you’re traveling with a tour group, everything from meals to excursions is planned for you.  For this particular trip, our excursions and accommodations were all planned for us.

Our trip was kind of short and our only excursions were a day trip to Barbuda (I didn’t go) and a catamaran cruise to private beaches, which were absolutely stunning!  As a special treat, our coordinator even hired a professional photographer to document our experience on the catamaran!

Our accommodations were at the brand new all-inclusive Royalton Antigua resort and it was absolutely beautiful.  I’ll get into my experience at the resort in another post. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

 

Great Way to Organize Travel with Friends

When it comes to planning trips with friends I often find that people just don’t want to split up the duties that come along with planning a trip. That either leaves one person to plan it all or no one at all.   Since everything is already planned for when you travel with a tour group, you can eliminate the anxiety that comes along with planning a group trip and have a stress free vacation with your friends.

 

Someone to Show You the Way

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Wes, our amazing coordinator

You don’t have to worry about getting lost or finding the pickup point for your excursions because your guide will show the way.   Many tour group trips come with a guide to lead you on your journey.  They can translate for you and answer any questions you may have.  They can even order food for you (I definitely had to get my guide in Morocco to order pizza from pizza hut for me because my French was TERRIBLE)

On this particular trip we didn’t have a guide, but our coordinator had visited the island a few weeks before we arrived, to ensure that everything was in place for us.  Seriously, Wes was the best coordinator ever!

 

 Your Parents Can Relax

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Day one, and we were already feeling like old girlfriends

 

My mother is the epitome of a worry wart, so when she found out I was going to Antigua and didn’t know anyone on the trip she was definitely nervous. But, she didn’t really need to worry.  When you’re traveling with a group, it’s completely safe for you to go without knowing anyone.  You’re literally never alone until it’s time to go to bed (unless you share a room with someone).  There is always someone to go exploring with, have dinner with, or lay out on the beach with.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about going on this trip alone.   I’m not even sure why I felt that way.  I go to concerts, restaurants, and festivals alone all the time when I’m at home.   I just knew that I would spend my entire vacation alone and doing my own thing.  The truth is, from the time I arrived at the resort until I landed back in the U.S., I was never by myself!

 

Photographers Everywhere

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Mini photo shoot in the pool

I know I get on my friends nerves always asking them to take my picture.   When you’re with a travel group everyone is willing to stop and pose for pictures and be tagged in them so that their friends and family back home can see.  Of course, they’ll take great pics for your personal collection too!

We were regularly taking each other’s pics, and we took it seriously too!  We were constantly telling each other which way to pose, and ensuring each pic got the right amount of lighting.  It was pretty fun and absolutely hilarious!

Some of the most epic pics that depict group travel can be found on social media pages like Melanin Globe!

 

You Leave With a New Group of Friends

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Melanin Globe should feature us! #travelgoals

After sharing so many memories and hilarious moments… how could you not leave a group trip without a set of new friends?   You’ll develop a network of friends from all over the country!  It’s an awesome way to stay in touch with the new people you’ve connected with to visit them or even travel together again!

From the start of our trip we were all already feeling like we had been friends for years.  We laughed, and some of us even shed a few tears.   By the end of the trip, we were all already thinking about a trip together in 2020.

Keep in mind that your experience with a travel group all depends on the group you’re with, but having a good attitude about it will make all the difference. You’ll get to meet some cool people and make a lot of awesome memories.

If you’re interested in traveling with a tour group, here are some of my favorite people that plan frequent group trips:

 

I really hope you’ll make your next trip with a travel group!

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National Lipstick Day 2019

National Lipstick Day 2019

 

Yea yea, I know I’ve been gone for a long time!!!  I promise you I’ll be back soon and I have so much to share with you guys!  But, first something more important!  Tomorrow is National Lipstick Day!!!!!!

Apparently National Lipstick Day was started over a decade ago, and while its not a real holiday its definitely a fun day for myself and fellow beauty junkies!

In celebration of such a wondrous day, several cosmetic companies are offering special deals to customers for National Lipstick Day:

Mac Cosmetics

When you spend $25 at MAC, you’ll get a free lipstick!

Tatcha

For all of you rich ladies… Tatcha Cosmetics is giving customers a free  Silk Mini Lipstick when you spend $100, the more you spend the more free lippies you get!  I love love love Tatcha products, but they definitely do not fit my current budget.

Tarte

Tarte is being a bit more respectful of my budget and is offering 50% off of their must have lip products…  I’ve never purchased any lippie from Tarte, but they had me at 50% off and I think I might have to partake.

Smashbox

Smashbox is also being respectful of my budget.  They are offering 40% off of their lip products!  I’ve heard great things about their lippie in the shade “Bling” so this just might be the perfect time to try it out!

Anastasia Beverly Hills

Anastasia is offering buy one get one free on their lip products.  *Whispers* If you go on Nordstrom.com you may find a few of their liquid lipsticks for 50% off.

NYX

Chile I remember when NYX was only sold in the beauty supply store and nobody was really wearing it.  I used to buy NYX in high school just because Lil’ Mo said she was wearing it… SO LAME but anywho…  NYX is offering 30% off of their entire lip collection.  I’ll probably go re-up on all of my faves from their Lingerie line.  If you see me in a nude lip, chances are its NYX Lingerie.

Urban Decay

Chile, Urban Decay’s matte lipstick in the shade “Pandemonium” changed my life! I haven’t been able to find it since I first purchased it a few years ago and I’ve been holding onto the last of it for dear life.   Urban Decay has several sales going on, they are offering BOGO for their LO-Fi Lip Mousse, and if you purchase a lipstick from their VICE collection, you can you use the code LIPSTICKDAY to get another free VICE lipstick… chile thank me later.

Target

Even Target is getting in on the National Lipstick Day fun!  They are offering 25% off at checkout for brands like W3ll People, Honest Beauty, Pixi and more!

Huda Beauty

When you buy a full size lip product, you can get a free lip product from Huda Beauty… idk why they didn’t just say buy one get one, but yea girl go get that free lipstick.

Lime Crime

Lime Crime is definitely one of my faves when it comes to liquid matte lipstick.  They are offering 50% off all of their lip products when you use the code LIPSTICK at check out.

Is your money kind of funny and you can’t really afford to get anything good for National Lipstick Day?  Don’t worry!  Just use the Klarna app and make payments every two weeks for all of your favorite websites!  No credit checks, no interest, all you have to do is be a person of your word!

While I’m grateful for National Lisptick Day I feel we need a holiday to specifically celebrate RED LIPSTICK!!!!

Let me know if you all end up taking part in the special deals!!!!!

 

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U by Kotex Alternatives

U by Kotex Alternatives

Recently, it was announced that U by Kotex recalled certain tampons due to reports of them unraveling inside the body.

If U by Kotex is your preferred brand of tampons, you may be on the hunt for a replacement.   Here is a list of alternative tampons that are healthier and more reliable than conventional tampons.

Cora

3sifbxr66dyfylgyaqiq.jpgCora is a brand of organic feminine care products.  Cora products are made from cotton that is free from genetically modified seeds and pesticides.   The Cora brand believes that feminine care products should be healthy for consumers, farmers, and the environment.   For every Cora product purchased, they send feminine care products and provide health education to women in need.

Cora believes that feminine hygiene products are a necessity and not a luxury, so they pay all sales taxes on their products and continue to advocate for tax free feminine care products.

If you purchase a Cora subscription online, you can customize your box based on the length and flow of your period.

Price: $6 – $34
Products Available:  
Pads, Tampons and Bladder Pads
Where to Purchase:
Target and the Cora website

Lola
I remember when I first heard Vicky Logan talk about the Lola tampon subscription service.  I thought she was just being super extra, until I did my research on the chemicals found in conventional feminine care products.

Lola is another brand of feminine care products that can be purchased as a part of a subscription.   The Lola brand has dedicated their mission to producing trusted products that are free from synthetic fibers, additives, and mystery ingredients.  Lola has you covered, whether you’re looking to improve your sexual health, sooth the effects of menopause, or improve your menstrual health.

Price: $8 – $34
Products Available:  Tampons, Pads, Liners, Daily Supplements, Essential Oils, condoms, lubricant, and cleansing wipes.
Where to Purchase:  Lola Website

L.

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If you follow me on Instagram you know how much I love the products from L.  L. products are free from pesticides, rayon, fragrances, deodorants, or dyes and it says so right on their packaging!

L. is dedicated to making health products accessible to women around the world that are in need. For every L. product purchased, feminine hygiene and sexual health products are provided to women in lesser serviced countries.
Price:
Products Available:
Pads, Tampons, Liners, and Condoms
Where to Purchase:
Target, CVS, and This is L. website

My hope is that this recent scare with U by Kotex, will encourage women around the world to pay more attention to the products they use for their feminine care.  Take a minute to do your research on conventional feminine hygiene products and make the switch to non-toxic products today!

 

Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

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If you’ve got big plans to go to that amazing destination that’s on your bucket list, chances are its going to require a long flight. Personally, I love long flights.  But for some, long flights are the absolute worst!  They don’t have to be though,  long flights can be really comfortable and a breeze to get through as long as your are prepared.

Here are a few tips to get you prepared for your long flight:

Wear Comfortable Clothes
Nobody wants to be stuck in restrictive clothing on a long haul flight.  So be sure to wear loose and comfortable clothes that you won’t mind being in for 10+ hours.   My go to outfit for travel is leggings, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a long cardigan.  It gets cold in the cabin so it’s important to dress in several loose layers so that you are as comfortable as possible during your flight.  

Make sure your footwear is loose and not too snug since your feet may swell at high altitudes.   Those hideous slide sandals everyone is wearing these days are perfect plane shoes and they definitely come in handy when going through security.

Oh yea… and wear compression socks to help with your blood circulation.  When purchasing your compression socks, be sure to get the right size because if they are too small, they can be painful to wear.  I’ve gotten the wrong size before and ended up with painful bruises on my legs. 

Reserve a Comfortable Seat
Mannnnnnnnnnnnn! I remember when I was flying back from Sydney two years ago, I picked the worst possible seat ever.  I misunderstood what I was seeing on the seating chart and selected the seats in the middle of the plane, so there were four people sitting with me.  I got an aisle seat, but the woman next to me ordered a beer every time the flight attendant offered beverage services.  Needless to say, I got up six times during our 15-hour flight to let her go to the bathroom.  I tried to switch seats with her but she refused.  The lesson I learned, pick a seat you can be comfortable in and not have to move around much.  I’ve gotten a window seat on just about every long-haul flight I’ve taken since then.

A few other seating tips:

  • If you want to avoid children, don’t sit at the front of the plane.  The front of the plane is typically provisioned for families with small children and infants on international flights.
  • If you feel you’ll want to move around a lot, be sure to get an aisle seat. 
  • For more leg room, opt to sit in an exit row.  Be sure that you understand the responsibility that comes along with being seated in an exit row before you select your seat.

Prepare for Sleep
If you’re on a long haul flight, most likely you will be on a plane for half a day or more.   For this reason alone, you’ll want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.  Be sure to pack a light blanket (I’m scared to use the blankets provided on planes), ear plugs, an eye mask and make sure you invest in a really good neck pillow. 

You may also want to consider buying some form of a sleeping aid in case you find yourself having trouble sleeping.  My go to is Zzzquil, they have a medicated version, as well as, an all-natural vegan supplement. 

Bring Your Own Snacks
You’re guaranteed to get a meal on a long-haul flight.  However, you may not get food when you really want it.  On my most recent flight, I had pasta for breakfast and hash browns w/ tofu scramble for dinner.   You may find yourself attempting to sooth the pains of hunger and silence the loud growls of your stomach.  I always try to pack a few snacks for the flight just in case I find myself getting hungry while waiting for the food trolley to come down the aisle.   When packing snacks, opt for foods that can easily fit in your carry-on luggage and can be reached easily like cereal bars, trail mix, or granola.

Stay Hydrated
The air in the cabin is very dry and there is a high chance that you may become dehydrated during your flight.  It may be a good idea to bring an empty water bottle on the plane with you so that you can fill up when the food and beverage trolley comes around.  This way, you can stay hydrated in between food breaks.  You should also make sure that your skin is hydrated as well, so be sure to bring some form of moisturizer with you.  Avoid using sprays like rose water and hydration sprays as the cabin air mixed with the sprays makes the skin even drier.

Charge Up
Make sure all of your electronic devices are charged up.  While many airlines offer outlets to plug up electronics, it’s been my experience that the outlets don’t provide the best power.  The last time I plugged my phone up to a USB port on a plane, my phone was at 26%. Cut to a few hours later, my phone was still on 26%.   You don’t want to find yourself bored on the flight because you forgot to charge up your iPad.

Select a Good Airline
This probably should have been the first tip.  There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable international flight.  So, be sure to research airlines before booking your ticket.  The cheapest airline may not always be the right choice; depending on your needs.  I selected Ethiopia Airlines for my flight to South Africa and I quickly regretted my decision after boarding.  

While there were awesome food choices, there was no Wi-Fi, the legroom in each row was less than any other airline had flown before, and the seats were old and raggedy.

The mistake I made was going with the airline that had the cheapest rate, without researching the airline.  Lesson learned.

By following these guidelines, you are sure to have a comfortable experience during your long haul flight.    Have you taken a long flight before?  How did you survive?

 

Jennifer

 

Skiplagged

Skiplagged

We all know flights can be super expensive, but there are a ton of tips and tricks to finding flights at cheaper rates.   One of my favorite ways to find cheap flights is “Skiplagging” using the website Skiplagged.

What is Skiplagging?
Skiplagging may be a new term to some, but the technique has been around for many years.  It was something that just wasn’t spoken about. Kind of like an underground travel technique that wasn’t to be spoken of in a public forum.

Skiplagging, is a cost saving method travelers use by booking their flights through the place they intend to go and departing the trip early, at the through point.   Make sense?   Let’s say you want to travel from DC to Atlanta but the flight is $400, however, a flight from DC to Miami with a layover in Atlanta is $200.  The customer, would simply book the flight to Miami via Atlanta and depart the plane in Atlanta, skipping the flight to Miami.  Using this technique saves the customer $200.

Airlines HATE Skiplagging, and in 2015 United Airlines tried to sue the creator of the Skiplagged app claiming that the technique was illegal.  Don’t worry, a judge through the case out and the app is here to stay!

The Rules
There are a few rules and tips for using Skiplagged.  Take my advice and don’t break them because you WILL ruin your trip.

  • Don’t tell anyone you are skipping a flight, especially the airlines. They will cancel your trip
  • Skiplagging only works one way. So, you’ll have to book two separate tickets.  One for your departure and one for your return.
  • Once you miss a flight, your reservation is cancelled. That’s it, that’s all – no exceptions.
  • You cannot check a bag when Skiplagging. Remember, you are getting off at your layover so checking a bag means your luggage will not be with you at the layover point. Pack wisely and take a carryon.
  • Do your best not to abuse this technique.
  • Don’t use your frequent flyer miles when Skiplagging. You can try, but it may cause issues in the end and it’s probably not worth the hassle.

By the way, United Airlines tries to be a big bully when it comes to Skiplagging claiming they’ll come after anyone that uses this technique.  It’s highly unlikely that they’ll follow through with their claim however, I suggest not Skiplagging with United.

Do I use Skiplagged?
Anytime I travel I check Skiplagged first.  I may or may not have recently purchased a ticket to Atlanta for $102 using Skiplagged and I may or may not be traveling to Mexico in a few weeks for just $220 using Skiplagged.

Don’t Think Your Clothes Can Fit in a Carryon?
Packing everything in a carry-on bag may sound like a chore but I promise you it’s not. I’ve become an expert at packing enough clothes for up to a weeklong getaway with just a small duffle bag and a cross body purse.  It’s possible, trust me.  Maybe I’ll do a pack with me post before I leave for my next trip! In the meantime, check out one of my favorite YouTube videos on how to pack for 12 Days in Europe in a Carryon Bag.

Check out Skiplagged and let me know what you think!

WOW Airlines… What You Need To Know

WOW Airlines… What You Need To Know

 

If you frequently check web pages like Travel Pirates or Secret Flying, you may have come across a few really cheap flights to Europe via WOW Airlines.   One of my friends recently scored a ticket to Paris via WOW Airlines for under $500.  Before you get excited about the price, there are a few things you need to know prior to booking with WOW.

No Frills
WOW Air is a no frills airline similar to Spirit Airlines.  This means that the flight prices that display on the WOW Air website or through travel search engines are base prices. Once your flight is booked, you are still responsible for paying for your seat, checked bags and carry-on luggage.   I used WOW Air last year, and I definitely booked with them because of how cheap the flights were.  I have to admit I was stunned when I realized I still had to pay for my seat, checked luggage and carry-on bags.  Even after paying for all of the add-ons my tickets still came out cheaper than if I had flown to Iceland using Iceland Air or any other airline.

Example of fees charged by WOW Air. Additional Fees can be found on their website

In Flight Entertainment
Wi-Fi is nonexistent on WOW Air flights, so you’re responsible for keeping yourself entertained on your flight.  Not having Wi-Fi may not be a big deal for some, especially if you’re like me and can’t manage to stay awake on a flight.  If you really feel like you just can’t live without Wi-Fi then, WOW isn’t for you.  The good thing is, WOW Air does have charging outlets so you can keep your electronics charged up while you’re keeping yourself entertained. 

Snacks and On Board Service
One of the great things about long flights is that airlines offer meals, snacks, and beverages (including wine, beer and sometimes libations) all included in the price of your ticket.  Not with WOW… you either need to bring your own food or you can pay for it on board.  A single sandwich is around $10 and honestly the food isn’t that great, but is plane food ever really good?

The flight attendants on board are really friendly and their uniforms are really cute. 

No Pets
WOW doesn’t allow pets of any kind onboard unless it is a service animal with proper registration.  Service animals have to be registered one week in advance, have a muzzle and must sit in the owners lap during the duration of the flight. 

 My Thoughts
I flew with WOW last year when my mom and I traveled to Iceland.  It was an overnight flight, so I wasn’t too concerned with not having Wi-Fi because I knew I would be asleep the entire flight.  I’m also super frugal so I usually bring my own food on flights anyway, so not having a meal wasn’t an issue. 

WOW Air is a pretty good airline as long as you know exactly what you’re walking into.  Prior to booking, compare prices with other airlines to see if you really are getting a good deal after paying the additional fees.  If I were to see a deal to travel to Europe via WOW Air, I’d definitely book with them again!

Are you planning on taking a trip to Europe with WOW Air?  I’d love to hear about your experience!

 

 

Natural Deodorants: Revisited

Natural Deodorants: Revisited

My journey to find the perfect natural deodorant has been quite a struggle.  You may remember some of my previous posts on natural deodorants.

After years of trying what seemed like millions of natural deodorants, I had just about given up! Until, another bad experience with a natural deodorant led me to finding the perfect one.

I had high hopes for the Schmidt’s Naturals deodorant. So many people told me that it worked really well for them. So, I decided to try it for myself! I purchased the Lavender Vanilla scent at TJ Maxx.  To my surprise, it was perfect! It lasted all day, kept me dry, and it smelled really good.

After a few weeks of using it, I realized that my under arms had become extremely dark in some areas and in other areas, my skin was red and raw.  After doing a bit of research, I found out that I was having an allergic reaction to the baking soda in the deodorant.  I posted about my experience on InstaStories and Schmidt’s Naturals reached out to me asking if they could send me their sensitive skin formula. They told me that it is usually a better option for people that have had a bad reaction to the original formula.

After the burns and rashes healed from the bad reaction I had, I began using a body scrub from Shimmer in the Dark; it was great for peeling off all the dead skin.  I also made my own gentle deodorant using coconut oil, arrowroot, and cornstarch (I only used this to mask the odor of sweat, it did not work as an antiperspirant).  Within a few weeks, my skin was back to its normal color and I was finally able to try out the sensitive skin deodorant.   They were right! The sensitive formula was exactly what I needed.

I’ve been using the Schmidt’s Naturals Sensitive Skin formula for about four months now and it works just the same as the original formula, it keeps me dry all day and it comes in amazing scents like Coconut Pineapple.

Unlike many products on the market, Schmidt’s Naturals Deodorant is both a deodorant and an antiperspirant, so it keeps foul odor away while keeping the underarm dry.

After three years of trying natural deodorants, I’m happy to finally report, that I’ve found one that works and fits all of my needs!