Do you remember your first flight.. or even vacation?? Well…
I equate flying to those memorable moments like: first riding a bike or driving your first car; you never forget your first flight and where you went.
For me, my first flight I remember (assuming you’ve read About Me) was to the Bahamas!
I was 22 years old.
I had been to the island before, on a day to cruise as a kid. The family nicknamed it the “Bruise cruise”, it was that terrible!
So the experience was not the same, memorable, but not the same.
On the flight, I can remember being scared, nervous, excited, so many emotions. Luckily, I was traveling with “The Girls” (3/5 of best friends since grade school).
I think everyone’s first thought is…
I read somewhere your odds are 1 in 11 million if that makes you feel better. Anywho…
The youngest out of the group was getting married. So the rest of us were bridesmaids (That’s me in the middle) The trip was a life changing experience, and I wasn’t the one getting married. The irony!
I decided Traveling would become a Priority, and it was!
By this time I had already had Jacari and Jordan, I knew I wanted them to have the same experiences. They will appreciate it more once they become part of “travel conversations.”
We try to make room for several trips throughout the year, rather it is…
Ship, plane, or car, we are always on the go!
So how am I a Travel Outlier???
Me?…Are you ready??
I am a:
black woman, who was a teenage mom, a college dropout, who married young (24; we’re still kicking it) had 3 children, became a football mom, a cheer-leading mom, who somehow went back to school, got a degree, while working full time… who used travel to grow!!
Okay… so… I think I speak for us all when I say “I can’t believe we’re here.” I mean seriously, just 2 months ago I was celebrating my 2nd year in business, on a cruise I hosted in the Bahamas.
Now I’m adjusting to what I feel may be our “new” normal due to COVID-19. However, with following the social distancing and quarantining rules, I can’t help but to think I’m also not the only one whose wanderlust spirit is in dire need of refilling as well.
I decided that if I can’t go physically, I would travel mentally. I would create the reality I want, instead of the one starring me in my face currently. So to do this I looked to some of my favorite inspirational travel quotes, and NOPE I am not ashamed to admit it. The cheesy the better. Similar to affirmations, they have this way of resonating and encouraging you to take action. Even providing a little moment of clarity and truth hidden in the subtext.
Hopefully a look at some of my favorite travel quotes will help refill that void and remind you what is waiting on us when this is all over; or at least to the point where it’s safe to roam again.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert David Runes
“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B. Yeats
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein
Juggling jobs, children, and whatever else life throws at a marriage… can be tough. One of the ways my husband and I reconnect is through Travel. Studies have shown couples who travel together have a better sex life and more romance. So yea we travel lol. Last year for our 7th anniversary we decided to go a little further. The plan originally started with us visiting Thailand, with stops in Bangkok and the Phi Phi Islands.
I’d been working on a reasonable budget (or at least I thought) for the 2 of us for about $3000 which was to include: flights (there, between, and back) and hotel accommodations. Although Thailand offers great luxury for budget, getting there can be pretty expensive. So needless to say, I wasn’t able to find what I wanted. There’s 2 things travel has taught me: 1. Always be flexible 2. Stick with the budget.
I was desperate until I received a flight deal to Tokyo, Japan. I guess the 3rd thing my travels have taught me is deals don’t last long, so be ready to purchase! Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of our friends and family on the east coast. So to adapt to the jet-lag, we added an extra day (Oct 2 – 9, 2019). Now the only thing left to do was finding somewhere to stay for the week. We didn’t realize we’d be traveling during the World Cup Games, but again the sale brought us here lol.
Despite what you may think, Tokyo hotels are pretty reasonable. There are many budget conscious hotels in the area, but the only problem is they are a little on the small side. That’s not what we wanted for a week. Operation 31 Euro taught us how to really navigate the public transportation system, so we’re like pros now (insert gloat here lol). Not to mention Japan has one of the most efficient subway systems in the world. So as long as our hotel was near a substation, we were game.
We decided on Hotel Celestine Tokyo Shiba, which is about an hour away from the airport. I like to have ground transportation already figured out when the ride is this long. Our superior double room had a great view of city and plenty of USB chargers (another favorite). So there wasn’t a need for that $40 adapter I bought from the airport before we arrived (insert sarcastic tone). The service was impeccable and the wait staff was extremely polite. The hotel offers a main dining room that serves buffets / course meals, a café, and bar lounge. Prices were pretty steep in my opinion, so we opted for a more local approach aka The McDonald’s around the corner.
Thanks to the 2 subway stations that were within walking distance to our hotel and Rome2Rio app, we were able to really explore on our own terms, saving money along the way. Here’s a list of some of our favorites stops and neighborhoods:
Located in central Tokyo, this was also where our hotel was located. I’d consider this more of a business district, but a great spot for first time visitors who’s looking to save some money (by not staying in the city’s center). It’s also home to some of the most iconic architectures in Tokyo.
Tokyo Tower- a communications tower and observation tower that was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and is the 2nd tallest structure in Japan
Zojoji Temple – A major temple next to Shiba Park established in 1393, the main gate is said to be one of the oldest wooden structures in Tokyo
This is considered Tokyo’s upscale district and offers the latest in fashion. Here you’ll find luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, Patek, and so many more. The Ginza Yonchome Intersection is the perfect place to start your Ginza walk to see some of the symbolic architectures, like the Wako Clock Tower and the Mitsukoshi Department Store. It’s also home to Ginza Six, a 13 story commercial complex with 241 stores, the largest in the district.
One of Tokyo’s major stops and considered Japan’s greatest entertainment district. It’s home to some of Tokyo’s tallest buildings also. Since stores are typically built on top of each other, I’d suggest looking up… you never know what you might find. Keep walking and you’ll find Kabukicho, known as the town that never sleeps. This is Japan’s largest and wildest red light district featuring countless restaurants, bars, pachinko parlors (slot machines and pinball games), love hotels, and a variety of establishments for all sexes and sexual orientations. Explore with caution.
If you’re not sure where you are just look for the large hotel with Godzilla on top lol
Located between Shinjuku and Shibuya is Harajuku, the center for Japan’s teenage culture and fashion. The focal point is Takeshita- Dori Street. It’s known for it’s colorful street art, pop culture, vintage clothing stores, plus more. The narrow streets are lined with sweet shops, crepe stands, fashion boutiques geared towards a creative pop culture vibe.
If you’re looking to party, this is the spot for you. This entertainment district is filled with bars and nightclubs that both tourists and the locals will enjoy. Coming from a city whose nightlife shuts down at around 2 am, this was the total opposite. Most clubs here don’t close until like 6 or 7 am. So yes, this is definitely party central.
This was by far my favorite spot of them all. It spoke to the history lover in me. This district has an atmosphere of Old Tokyo and the streets are lined with old established shops that let you feel the mood of the Edo Era. Here you’ll find some of Tokyo’s oldest temples and shrines:
Sensoji Temple – A Buddhist temple, said to have been built in 628. It is the oldest temple in Tokyo and the symbol of Asakusa. It is also famous for it’s main Kaminarimon Gate, where a giant lantern hangs.
Nakamise Shopping Street– Next to the temple on both sides are shops and restaurants where you can purchase your souvenirs plus more.
Tokyo Skytree– Not to far from the old town, is another broadcasting and observation tower and the worlds highest broadcasting tower. It is open to the public but unfortunately it was closed during our visit
Of course there were many more stops like Shibuya and their famous Shibuya Crossing, rumored to be the most busiest intersection in the world. We made sure to get lost in country, after all that is the best way to explore. I know you’re probably thinking … what about the food?! Sorry, this is the wrong post lol. Although I have somewhat of an adventurous spirit, I can not say the same for my taste buds. I’m the girl who only sticks with what I know. I’m still waiting on my taste buds to grow up unfortunately.
TOTAL TRIP COST
Oct 2 – 9, 2019
(2 )Round-trip Delta Airlines from CLT to NRT (w/1 Stop)
Hotel Celestine Tokyo Shiba
Thoughts to myself like…
WOW another continent crossed off the list with my partner in crime and travel. After 7 years of marriage and 3 children later, we still manage to find time to spend with one another. Traveling together has had a positive affect on our marriage, not to mention the way we communicate with one another. There’s something to be said about being submerged in a different culture where they speak a different language. This trip saw some highs and even lows, but we managed to overcome them to together. Also adding he likes when I stay under budget lol!
Dream. Travel. Live. Repeat…
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Dubai, a city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates, known for it’s luxurious shopping, tall skyscrapers, modern living… I mean the list goes on. It’s one of those places that everyone should see. Although I haven’t been yet, I had the pleasure of curating a very special birthday vacation for some Outliers I know. So if you’ve never had thoughts of going, then maybe this testimony will change your mind…
Capricorns in Dubai
Dubai…WOW… is pretty much all we can say. It was by far the best vacation we’ve ever been on. I’m one of those people who will go to a place and never return once I mark it off my list, but Dubai is different … we shall return. Being that there’s so much to do and see, and we didn’t get to accomplish it all, that alone gives us more reasons to return.
Due to the threat of war with Iran prior to leaving, I was a little nervous. My partner and I had a heart to heart and mutually agreed on our positions while on vacation. I was the narrator and he would be the defense. If and when the other wasn’t pulling their weight, then the other needed to step in.
When we first arrived I was kind of let down because it was raining. The people we talked to said it had been raining for 2 days straight. The following morning, I took a trip to the grocery store located in the mall adjacent to our hotel, The Sheraton Mall of Emirates Hotel Dubai. I learned that Dubai rarely gets any rain, and when they do it’s light. I also learned that this was the most rain they’d had in 24 years! Luckily for us though it let up so we could continue to enjoy our vacation.
On our first official day, we spent most of the day trying to figure out how to get around. The Uber and Taxi rates were doubled due to the circumstances of the road. The metro is definitely your best bet and the cheapest. On the metro Women and Children are separated from the men’s compartment to help cut down on the sexual offences that could occur.
When it came to food, we basically stuck with what we know. Their fast food places were similar to the ones we have in the States, but with different names. For example, in South Carolina we have a fried chicken fast food chain called Church’s Chicken. Their equivalent was called Texas Chicken. However, if I must say the food did not excite my taste buds. In my opinion, it was as if it was missing something. My partner is very picky so nothing outrageous for him lol. I was the one who was always eating and room service was our friend.
We got a chance to visit the Burj Khalifia, the tallest tower in the world. It’s also an observation deck which we took to the 147th floor; there’s 163 floors total. It’s connected to the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall in the UAE. Since January is the month Dubai holds their annual Shopping Festival there were people everywhere, even during the week. It seemed as if no one works beside the people providing a service lol.
We got a chance to experience a dessert safari tour where we rode on camels and rode a 4×4 over the sand dunes (it was so much fun). I’ve never felt sand so soft before. We also went to the hood. However, we didn’t feel comfortable at the first stop, so we ended up back on the train. Thankfully that was a good call, after realizing the guy we asked for directions were trying to set us up. On our final day we got the chance to visit The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which was about an hour away from our hotel.
Everyone seemed in a hurry. In the US, well the South, it’s common for us to let someone pass or move out the way. They don’t do that. Even the cars don’t care if you’re a pedestrian lol. The women were so beautiful too. Most females in my generation feels like nudity attracts but, seeing them covered you know that’s not true.
This trip was by far the best vacation I’ve ever experienced. I learned so much about myself and even more about the world around us. At first I had a lot of anxiety due to what was being communicated in the media at the time, but I am happy I pressed my way. I took from this, and I hope that you understand, that it’s always good to KEEP YOUR HEAD ON THE SWIVEL. Be cautious and observant, but relax. It’s better to fit and not stand out in this case!!
January 9-15, 2020
Round trip United Airlines from CLT to DXB (Dubai) with 3 stops **recommendation** less stops and upgraded seats
Boy am I glad my Outliers pressed on. I knew they were a little nervous, but it was my job to keep them calm. I wanted to ensure this was the something magical. One thing I’ve noticed on this travel journey is people who haven’t experienced life outside of their hometown and the United States will project their fears onto you and before you know they’ll become your own fears. The key to always KEEP YOUR HEAD ON THE SWIVEL. Maybe the level of caution isn’t the same, but the same can be said about us here in the United States. Live your life to the fullest. Everyone has an expiration date what matters is what happens before you expire….
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No words are truer, especially when it comes to a vacation. It’s the reason most only end up looking at vacation pictures on Instagram saying “Next year I’m taking a vacation!”
So to avoid another year of the same “bad love song”, why not start planning today? If you start now, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is what to pack. You’d be surprised at the budget friendly options that are out there. To get you started, my friends and I would like to cordially invite you to join us on some…
As a wife, a mom of 3, and an aspiring FULL time entrepreneur, sometimes you just need a break. This cruise was intended for that person in mind. Set Sail on Carnival Liberty’s Cruise LineFebruary 28 – March 1, 2020 for a 3 day cruise with an overnight stay in the Nassau, Bahamas!
If February is too soon, and you would prefer a cruise the whole family can take while the kids are out of school for Spring Break, then Your Travel Remedy is literally… your remedy! Set Sail on the Royal Caribbean’s “Mariner on the Seas” April 13-17, 2020 for stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Royal Caribbean’s private island Coco Cay!!!
Mother’s Day, the day we honor our maternal bonds. Take it from me, moms love to feel special on this day. So why not honor the lady in your life, and make her feel loved with a special get away and some fun in the sun? Set sail on Carnival’s Sunshine May 7th – 11th, 2020 for a stop in Nassau, Bahamas!
May 15th, 2020 / Port: Norfolk, VA
See It and Go Travel
There’s nothing like getting together with people you haven’t seen in a while, because let’s face it, with life and yea more life, it gets hard. So why not plan to take a couple of days out of your year to get up with your family, high school classmates, old friends etc for your own Reunion! Set sail on Carnival’s Sunrise May 15th – 20th, 2020 with stops in both Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas!
Maybe you’ve already been to the Bahamas and now you’re looking to go further and really explore the Caribbean. Famous for their white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, it’s a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. So with that being said don’t just book it, Kiss and Tell Travel It! Then get ready to set sail on Carnival’s Horizon December 6th – 12th, 2020 for stops in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel.
With these affordable cruises to take in 2020, saying Travel is expensive can no longer be an excuse. So start planning and book your 2020 cruise with one of the independent travel agents mentioned above.
Yep that was my introduction to Memphis literally. My husband is a huge fan. So when the Yo Gotti Birthday Bash with Special Guests came around, we had to go. We’d been to Tennessee before, but never Memphis. I was just excited to finally visit !!
It’s an 8 hour drive from Greenville, SC to Memphis, TN. We hit the road around 6 am and arrived with just enough time to grab something to eat, check in, and get dressed for the concert. Our apartment was within walking distance of the Fedex Forum. When staying in Memphis, I’d suggest downtown. You’re center to just about everything: Restaurants, bars, Beale St, Fedex Forum, National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, plus so much more. Our 2bd/ 2ba apartment was $480 for the weekend (split with another couple of course).
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I was super excited to try this restaurant I found on Facebook Trap Fusion, but when we realized it wasn’t a sit down eatery, we had to look for other options (they’re not open on Sunday). I will add though, I am planning our next return just to try their “Gang Gang Skrimps”.
Our other options led us back downtown to the “Home of the Blues” or Beale Street. We went with Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe, and it did not disappoint. When it comes to eating, I’m sure you’ll find a spot for your taste buds. So next up… Drinks!! It was a hot day, and Wet Willies was the perfect solution. What’s better than adult icee (with alcohol)?? I’d suggest mixing flavors (Sex on the beach and Mango is a pretty good combo.) After walking around for a while, we decided to take a break and catch a horse and carriage ride (45 mins = $60).
Beale St. is an important staple to the city and black culture, dating back to 1841. Thanks to a black businessman, Robert Church, who purchased it in 1878. Beale Street became a commercial district for black Memphis allowing entrepreneurs to open clubs, restaurants, and shops during a time of racial injustice. It also helped Church become the first African American “millionaire” of the South. Using his wealth he developed banks, parks, auditoriums, and a church all for black people. The historic Beale Street Baptist Church built after the Civil War by freed slaves is Tennessee’s oldest surviving African American church.
Within walking distance of Beale Street you’ll find The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. I’d heard really good things about the museum and was pretty excited to see it. The motel turned museum was the final stop for Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination. The cost to enter is $16 which covers entry to 2 of their museums. It’s a lot to take in, so take plenty of pictures to go back and look at later. The museum showcases several exhibitions ranging from: Slavery in America, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, to the Black Panther Movement and so much more. The last stop is the room 306. A reconstruction of King’s room before his death. Your ticket gives you access to the Legacy Building which was the boarding house from where James Earl Ray (King’s alleged killer) fired the shot. Here you’ll find information on the case and the conspiracy theories surrounding it. Yes a lot to take in…
Wheeewwwww after that we had to deprogram…that meant food and drinks. So it was back to Beale Street. At night all of the bars and clubs charge a cover charge, I’d suggest purchasing a $10 cover charge bracelet, giving you access (sold in front of the entrance). For dinner we went with BB King’s Blues Club, another good choice. You have to try the bread-pudding for dessert!! The idea was to hit the streets afterwards, but after that food it was back to the apartment lol.
Since our check-out was at 11 we hit the road. This is actually when we realized Trap Fusion was not open, again we were coming back for the “Gang Gang Skrimps” but instead we decided to grab something quick and hit the road. I mentioned in Alabama for the Night how Atlanta for us, is always that stop through city when traveling. So naturally we took advantage and went with Pappadaeux.
Thoughts to myself like…
We came, we saw, we ate plus more. What started as pure entertainment ended with a history lesson. For a city so rich in culture, there’s no way you can do and see everything. For that reason we will be back to cover more ground. It’s amazing what us “black folk” can do with a little togetherness. One man, a black businessman, purchased a failing area that allowed for a other black entrepreneurs to thrive, during a time when they were not allowed to anywhere else. Only to fast-forward to being within steps of Martin Luther King’s last stop. The highest form of a human act is to inspire. I’ve been inspired by Yo Gotti, seeing how whole the city came out for one man is amazing. I’ve been inspired by MLK Jr. and by the history of the city. Memphis owes me NOTHING!!
For this family vacation we decided it would be a good time to head out of the country. We have been on cruises before and visited the Bahamas, but this trip was different. This trip required for the family to get passports!! Since my husband and I already had ours that left my mom, the kids (3), and family friends. I’ll add we did not have a great process either, as 2 of my children’s passports did not arrive until literally 5 days before we were set to leave. Imagine the panic… don’t let this happen to you. So if you happen to need details on applying for your passport click here !
I always suggest Mexico/ Caribbean to my clients as a nice introduction to their international journey. So for the family, the same rule applied. Since this was also their first time experiencing an all inclusive I had to go for a really good one, but I did more than that…
I think I may have found paradise
No seriously, I have never been to a place like Hotel Xcaret. It exceeded our expectations plus more. The hotel’s website describe it as
more than just a resort, it’s a destination rich in history, art, and entertainment
And I would agree. This All Fun Inclusive resort features unlimited food and drinks to all 10 restaurants. I’m talking authentic food from all over to fit any and all taste buds. They even offer 24 hour room service, and if that’s not enough, throughout the resort are taco and fruit stands.
You’ll have unlimited access to their 9 parks: Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor, Fuego, Xsavage, Xoimilco, and Xenses, as well as Xenotes and Xichen tours. Only 2 requires reservations (Xoimilco and Xichen) and you can visit and eat as many times you like. Yes, the parks have restaurants also, and serving the same quality of food. No need to worry about transportation, because it’s included between the parks and even airport. On arrival, you’re giving bracelets which serves as keys to your room. Throughout the resort and parks are cameras to take pictures, you’ll use these bracelets to activate them. At the end of your stay they’re bundled in a package for you to purchase.
Out of the 8 theme parks we only got a chance to visit 4: Xcaret, Xcaret Fuego, Xsenses, Xchichen. You’re likely to spend the entire day at all of the parks except Xsenses. The parks all have children areas but most rides don’t accommodate for children under 5 years old. So that was out for us as we were traveling with a 4 yo. Even with this information, I would still recommend it if you have little ones.
The grounds are stunning and a lot to take in. Walking through, feels like your apart of the Mayan jungle. There were caves and rivers flowing throughout the entire property. All rooms are suite style, the only difference is the view. For us, we went with the Suite River, overlooking the river of course. Your mini fridge is stocked daily with soft drinks, beers, and snacks. Yep also included. It was impossible to see and do everything but we tried. Our 5 day / 4 night trip wasn’t nearly enough time. Out of the 10 restaurants we only ate at 5, and this was eating in a different restaurant everyday lol. When we arrived we were greeted with fresh made popscicles, and since it was a pretty hot day this was needed.
Restaurant of choice for lunch was #1 Mercado De La Merced. Decorated like a traditional Mexican Market, this restaurant offers 10 theme stations with everything ranging from Fresh fruit/Deli, to Tacos with all the fixings, to a pasta/pizza station. Here you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We spent our first day getting to know the hotel. Or at least trying to get to know it. It seemed everywhere you turned there was something new. Even better there’s taco and fruit stands located throughout the resort. For dinner, we went with restaurant #2 La Trajinera. This restaurant is centered near the main pool and swim up bar. I’m not the foodie of the group so I’m not exactly experimental with my food, so it wasn’t a hit for me. However the others in our group enjoyed this a la carte menu that mixed of land and sea dishes using a Caribbean flair.
started with Breakfast at restaurant #3 Chibali, serving International food buffet style with themed stations and snack bars. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this when I read it was next to the Family Club (Another place we didn’t get to see apparently lol.) From here you can take a boat to Xcaret Park. Since the river was low we wasn’t able to take the boat, but again the shuttle runs every 20 minutes.
Xcaret Park is considered Mexico’s Majestic Paradise. There’s more than 50 attractions including archaeology sites, underground rivers and animals. Since the restaurants on the parks are included there were a number to choose from here. We went with the International Buffet.
After coming back to rest up, later that night we went to Xplor Fuego. The only nighttime park in Riviera Maya. here we were led through jungle caves and trails on ATV’s and zip lined on the highest zip lines in Riviera Maya. We got here pretty late so we missed out on the BBQ rib buffet, but we were able to relax by a campfire enjoying s’mores (provided also).
started a little late and we had lunch at #4 Las Playas an a la carte restaurant overlooking the beach area of the resort. I’d suggest the fish tacos. After lunch we took the shuttle to Xsenses. A half day park that challenges your senses and nothing is what it really seems. Walk through “The Town”. It completely defies the laws of physics! Be sure to bring your swimsuits and water shoes. Unfortunately we forgot and it was so hot that day we didn’t see most attractions.
We had dinner reservations for a dinner show recreating Mexican culture in the 1950’s at what would have been restaurant #5 Teatro Del Rio, but we didn’t make it. This is one you have to make reservations for. With some resorts it can be hassle, but here no problem. Most restaurants only required you to make dinner reservations. Since we didn’t make our dinner show we decided to go downtown Mexico, Playa Del Carmen, to see what it had to offer. The hotel even arranged a cab who stayed with us the entire night while in the city. Round-trip was $60. The hotel warned us about vendors who’ll see your bracelets from the hotel, and pretend to have been your waiter, only to trick you into buying things. DON’T BELIEVE THEM. He was right each vendor we came across tried to run the “I was your waiter” line but they didn’t know we had already been put up on game lol.
Side note…Outside the resort will always be the best place to buy souvenirs (just remember Head on the swivel). For example my husband caught a bad case of swimmer’s ear. The medicine I purchased on the resort was $10, that same small bottle was $4… So yea ..
Day 4 Last day
we celebrated Zoe’s Birthday and decided to take the XichenTour. An all inclusive tour that takes you on several different stops: Chichen Itza (a new 7 wonder of the world), lunch at La Casona in the historic city of Valladolid, and ending it at the Mayan Cenote Zaci. The bus rides takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, so be prepared for an early morning. Don’t worry though the ride is extremely comfortable. Since this is one of the parks that does require a reservation be sure to make them. If not each party in your group will be charged $20, simply because your space is reserved. Although it was a hot day, they provided umbrellas and plenty of drinks and water to keep everyone hydrated.
After returning we were beat. So we grabbed lunch from Mercado de la Merced again. Later for dinner we had dinner at restaurant #6 La Cantina Los Faroles, serving Mexican cuisine including meats cooked to order in a traditional cantina environment. Since this was our last night and we had an early flight, after dinner we decided to call it a night.
Things we missed out on:
Parks and Tours
Xel-Ha’ : A place to flow with nature where water is born. Enjoy snorkeling and water slides and a ton of other water activities.
Xplor: Similar to Xplor Fuego you get to enjoy ATVs and Ziplines through the Mayan jungles
Xenotes: The only tour in Riviera Maya that takes you to visit the 4 types of cenotes (deep water filled sink holes) semi open, open, ancient, and cavern. You’ll also get to enjoy activities like kayaking, zip lining, and for the adrenaline junkies cliff jumping
Xavage: Xcaret’s newest park for the thrill seekers and the only park in Riviera Maya with the boldest activities. Enjoy jet rides, paddle boarding, white water rafting, and so much more
Xoimilco: Mexican party on the water while tasting some of the best Mexican food and listening to a Mariachi band (reservations required)
Bio: A vegan and vegetarian option serving fresh and healthy food seasoned with super-foods and Mexican spices.
Las Cuevas: A unique culinary delight explores Mexican specialties, blending with international trends, in a gallery of caves carved out of the peninsula rock. (Dinner Reservations required)
Fuego: Intimate restaurant to enjoy a long after-dinner. Exciting gastronomy inspired by Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of Mexican-ness, (exclusive for casa fuego guests/ Adult only)
Xin-Gao: Serves Asian cuisine cooked on a teppanyaki grill with a sushi and Mixology Bar to enjoy (dinner reservations required)
Xpiral: Offers a variety of Mexican dishes with views of the Caribbean sea
HA’ * : An intimate dining experience with a world renowned chef . This is the only restaurant no included.
Cost of the entire trip:
2 adults with 2 children (10 & 4) 5 days / 4 nights
Delta roundtrip flights from ATL to CUN
Hotel Xcaret All Fun Inclusive Program
With a resort so grand, it’s impossible to do and see everything but we really tried. This is probably the most we’ve ever spent on a vacation, and with it’s All Fun Inclusive program it was worth every penny. I’ve never been anywhere like it. We’re already planning a return for next year to do some of the things we missed out on. You should definitely join us!!!
When your cousin calls you to catch up and casually mentions she’ll be going to Florida for her birthday to visit more family … and only paid $157 for her round-trip flight… You have to book immediately!!
Yep that’s how my recent trip to Florida went down… Although my ticket was a little more. It was then I was able to come up with the premise of this trip. I was looking for budget with Big Frills! Contrary to popular belief it is possible.
Here’s how I managed:
I am a firm believer that when you see these prices, you have to be prepared to jump on them. Waiting a day later will cost you, literally. I purchased my round-trip non stop flight with Allegiant Airlines from GSP to FLL for a total of 206.50. That included my “picked” window seat (I like to get a picture before I land) and my $40 ($20 each way) carry-on. Since this is a no frills airline you’ll have to pay for amenities. It’s best to do this at the time of booking because waiting later, even at check in will cost you more money. Check out how to fly Allegiant here.
Since we would be flying into Ft. Lauderdale, we decided to stay there also. We saved a lot of money doing this and because it was 3 of us for a 4 day/3 night stay that was $152 per person. Traveling in groups will always save you money. Just make sure you like your travel buddies. Luckily for me I was traveling with family, because the first night we all had to sleep together. Yep! Again we’re family so we’re used to it, and it was all about budget remember. Actually the house we booked through AirBnb was booked the 1st night because we waited too long. Again, you have to be quick with these things. Also adding it was a mansion annnddd the owners (wife) is a celebrity stylist and designer. I even got to play creative director for my cousin’s photo-shoot for her own clothing brand Simply Sacoyia while we were there. We took full advantage of our one room mansion lol. For the remainder of the trip however we stayed in a nice size apartment that fit the 3 of us a much better (2 bd/ 2ba).
Bahamas for a Day
With the money we saved renting the room for one night, we put that towards dinner. As you can see we have no problems entertaining ourselves lol. We had an early morning anyway and had to be at the port for our day trip to Freeport, Bahamas. We bought our tickets from Groupon for $107 ( $25 entry fee included) and rode the Balearia Caribbean Fast Ferry. It was much better than I expected. The ride was very comfortable and they offered food and snacks. The seats even have charging ports. This is a big deal for me, as I am that person who always need to charge their phone lol. If you are booking, PLEASE PRINT YOUR CONFIRMATION. The systems going through security are a little outdated so don’t expect to scan anything with your phone or you will be waiting in line! We thought we would be late checking in.
While waiting in line we were able to secure a driver, Patrico, for the 5 hour day trip ($130). Always remember, the driver is your connection to the local community. He stayed with us the entire time, made sure we were good, and for 3 girls traveling outside of the country that’s pretty awesome in my eyes. We avoided all of the tourist traps and instead stuck with all things local. Besides, that’s where you find the best food anyway! In the words of Patrico “that other watered down stuff is costly” and you already know the point of our trip. He told me in order to be a driver he had to go to school to learn how to be a Bahama’s host. You learn how to create and fulfill experiences and that he did!!
He took us through the 8 Mile Rock community stopping along the way for true Bahamian food and culture. The first stop was E&E Restaurant (I believe was the name) where we had their pepper steak and rice with macaroni and cheese ($10). Anything with rice, I’m hooked and it was as good as it looks!!
Our next stop brought us to Pat’s Restaurant and Bar. Originally we were there to pick up more food, fried shrimp and fried conch ($12), which was amazing by the way. Once we heard the music from the door, we ended up staying for shots and dance lessons. Thanks Pinky lol!!
Next up on our tour, Patrico brought us to The Battery Hole, this swimming hole is amazing. So much natural beauty, it’s a must see. We also got a chance to meet the “Shell Man” and his beautiful conch shells. I bought one from him to take home.
After our little mini photo shoot it was on to the next spot. Patrico’s family was having a cookout to help raise funds for a family member due to illness on Taino Beach. Of course we joined the family’s cookout to help show some support. We got there just in time and my cousin was able to grab a snow crab plate. Afterwards we hit the beach for more pictures.
Right along Taino Beach you’ll find Tony Macaroni… stop by and try a Gulli Wash (Gin sweetened condensed milk and coconut water). He also serves fresh food using local ingredients.
To end our apparent food tour, we stopped by Da Crab House for some crack chicken and fries ($10). Another good option. It’s amazing the things you can do in 5 hours thanks again to Patrico!
Wynwood and more
Any time I’ve been to Miami I seem to always head to Oceans Drive/ Collins to walk the strip. This time I was determined to see a different Miami. So the next day we headed to Wynwood. After paying $10 for parking for 3 hours, our first stop was for food at the Wynwood Yard. This entrepreneurial hub is home to food trucks of everything ranging from cuban food, to burgers, to Pountines. We went with The Food Dude serving authentic Caribbean food and settled for a shareable with jerk chicken and shrimp and 2 sides. $22 which was enough food for the 3 of us.
After eating we headed to WynwoodWalls an outdoor destination that features huge murals of street art. There’s literally art, shops, and restaurants everywhere. Street art has become my new thing to look for, so I immediately fell in love. While inside we grabbed an icee from ParadICE for $6. I had the Tropical Passion, but I’d suggest the Beat Miami Heat. Ask to try the flavors all are delicious. A few blocks from Wynwood Walls, you’ll find Bubble City in the heart of Wynwood. This unique space is home to pop up shops housed in bubbles. It’s free to enter and while there you’re able to grab a drink and hit the dance floor.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around because we had tickets ($25) to a the B.Fly Beauty Exquisite Fashion Show. This was my first fashion show and it was fun. It’s great to see so many entrepreneurs share the same space supporting each other and the fashion was even better. We had an early morning flight so afterwards we grabbed food at a diner a few blocks away and headed back to the house.
Thoughts to myself like…
As a wife and mom, who stills work full time with a business on the side, it’s important for me to take time and let my hair down. With those roles, I also understand the value of stretching a dollar. When those two mix you’re likely to have a good time. This trip was nothing far than amazing and I got to bond with family all for less than $700. That included flights, houses (2), a day trip to Bahamas, food, and things to do. Not too bad, but next time I feel I should restrain a little more.
One of the best things about having my own website is the ability to say whatever it is I want. It’s my safe haven.. it’s my venting tool.. it’s my therapy.. it’s my business. However, I don’t take that power for granted. I know that through my site I have a responsibility to hussle (intended to be spelled wrong) and motivate. It’s through discipline that I keep going, but it’s through faith that I know i’ll be rewarded. I understand that if I am not putting my dreams to work they’re just wishes.
Just like I wish this was a post about a fancy destination, or tips about where to go and what to do, but it’s not!
You know I always say the Dream is the first step, but even then you have to face the reality. Too much hurt and pain will dim the light if you let it. Just recently we lost, in my opinion one of the greatest leaders of the black community, Nipsey Hussle! Being only a fan, I wasn’t expecting the impact to be so hard. It’s not like I had ever met him or anything nor did I get chance to see him in concert.
My coworker compared it to when Tupac was killed. She was able to describe that day, where she was, and what she was doing. I guess it’ll be the same for me. We were at the movies watching Dumbo (ironic a little). It was instant sadness. So much so it still hurts as I write, and the pain is deep. It was sudden and violent, and that will always affect me. I felt he taught me so many lessons. Music has always spoke to me, but his music was my blueprint
Hussle and Motivate…
It was through him I realized, The Travel Outlier was my own special business ecosystem. I had somehow created an economic community where I now produce goods and services that’s of value for those same Outliers in the system. A method he spoke on. It’s my take on owning the supply chain from production to consumption. Through our motto Dream. Travel. Live. Repeat… I am able to test different theories, test different business models, simply because I have control over my platform, giving me the option to create leverage. Now that I have leverage, I’m able to curate an experience, a specific type of lifestyle: through my blogs, the travel agency, and merchandise. It’s amazing what you can learn from a Crip from Crenshaw through music…
Hustle the Hova way / That’s why they follow me, huh / They think I know the way / Cause I took control of things, ballin’ the solo way / And if you counter my trend, I make you my protege’
He taught me that if I am going to be a leader and the boss, I must be willing to do EVERY JOB! It’s hard as sh*t!!. Trust me I know. Within the last year I’ve become a CEO, a travel agent, content developer, editor, marketing director, brand ambassador, event planner the list goes on… I mean I am the company and the company is me!! I don’t do it because I want to control everything, I do it to fill in the time while I’m in the trenches. It’s the true definition of “self-made”
Ain’t really trip on the credit, I just payed paid all of my dues / I just respected the game, now my name all in the news
Steps that the outside never see are the same ones most people hate to climb, but it’s through that process and that grind that makes us who we are. You learn patience. There’s a time for everything and a lesson for each journey. He told me to stick with the script, be strong, and give my heart to it. Be the Outlier i’m supposed to be. “You learn all the secrets to the game on your way up.”
Passing through stages in life / through the ups and downs like it’s all just another test / Live by the rules like a f***in ref
His platform demanded a call to action I didn’t ignore. He hooked me with the lyrics, but by the time he finished the story, I wanted to know the business. It was strategic and purposeful. He was the champion behind ownership. “The new mindset is we don’t want advances, we want equity. We don’t want 1-off endorsements.”
Prior to The Travel Outlier, I wasn’t an owner of anything and If I was, it didn’t increase my assets so It was nothing. According to him, you’re not a hustler if you don’t own anything. All Money In he would rap, it was about investing your profits. I think we can all agree “scared money don’t make money.” Start small and then add onto what you have… soon you’ll be able to multiply it !!
F*** living basic, I’m taking risks / F*** what they saying, i’m saying this / Don’t waste your time if it don’t make you rich / it don’t mean nothing so f*** em, lets make a grip / Double up, triple up, make assist
Thoughts to myself like…
It feels like I lost an uncle, brother,.. a friend. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this when I realized why. You see every morning as I got ready for work I’d blast my Nipsey Compilation. In my mind we had created a friendship, his music was advice, his book suggestions were guides, and his community service was inspiration. I realize it’s natural to feel like this and based on my timelines on social media, I’m not the only one who felt that deep sadness. Energy can not be destroyed, only transferred and his transcended to the masses. I’ll never understand why our great leaders leave the way they do. So instead of trying to figure it out, I’ll take the knowledge they left and form a plan. My own call to action. Just maybe I’ll inspire someone to Hussle & Motivate it’s what Nip would do …Self made No Excuses!
Thoughts and prayers to Nipsey Hussle’s family and friends of near and far
Every Friday (well almost because I’ve been slack lately) on my Facebook page (The Travel Outlier), which you should definitely go like by the way (after you finish reading of course), I host International Friday’s. I post quotes for random places around the world. It’s my way of really showing people Travel isn’t expensive. One of the cool things about being a Travel Agent is the access. I selfishly use it for my own desires lol and post quotes from my own bucket list. Recently, it featured a 5 day/4 night vacation package, with round-trip flights from Atlanta to Barbados, staying at the Hilton Barbados Resort for $2093.54 ($400 deposit). Luckily for me, I was able to link with another Outlier, and fellow Travel Agent willing to give me the details from a recent trip…
Travel’n With A Purpose – Barbados
It was my first time there this past December!! I immediately feel in love with the turquoise water, paradise beaches, and killer rum punch!
I stayed Dec 5th-9th (5 days). I stayed in a rental home because it was cheaper for the time frame. If I would have opted for an all inclusive resort, I wouldn’t have gotten my monies worth. When I travel, I like to mingle with the locals, sight-see, and I’m a foodie. The all inclusive would have kept me bound to the resort. I would have lost out on interacting with the locals and understanding their culture. The people there, (Bajans) are very friendly, always asking if you need help or directions… and very welcoming of people from other countries. My aunt came along with me so she has a friend who was born and raised there. She now lives in Orangeburg, SC. She came over for school, SCSU. Her parents and siblings still lives in Barbados so they came over to the Airbnb and sat with us. Gave us tips on the nightlife and things to do as well.
Barbados is known as “the birthplace of rum”. So don’t forget to check out Mount Gay Distillery or any of the other rum distilleries around. The signature drink all across Barbados is the rum punch!! I found my best dish there. I had the red snapper and the grilled marlin. As far as the food goes, Bajans eat quite a bit of local fish!! That’s kind of their thing. Since they have to import almost everything there, most of them fish and sell to local markets. Plantains and rice goes hand in hand with almost every dish.
Barbados is relatively flat compared to other islands, but that doesn’t mean driving won’t be a bit challenging. I recommend renting a car if you would like to tour the entire island. Hired cars can be easily recognized by the ‘H’ on their license plate. Remember that in Barbados they drive on the left side of the road and the vast majority of vehicles are right hand drive. It was scary driving on my “wrong side” of the road! You have to be cautious. They don’t have many traffic lights either instead they use roundabouts. I got it (license) from AAA… no test or anything. I wasn’t sure of the rental car process, so I got it just in case it was a mandatory requirement. To hire a private driver was like $40/hr, the rental car was $135 for 3 days.
Now the attractions!! …
Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, and raised in Bridgetown you can find the home of Rihanna, located on Rihanna Dr.
Harrison Cave is another popular tourist location to add to your list. This crystallized limestone cave is made of flowing-streams, deep pools of crystal clear water, and towering columns. Chalky Mount is the highest point of Barbados..(use caution when driving). Green monkeys aren’t rare, you’ll see them running around in the northern parts of the island. They are pretty cool, and even a little cute. The Crane Beach is one to check out after a long day. If you’re looking for a more upscale environment near a beach check out Nikki’s Beach.
Animal Flower Cave was one of the tourist attractions that I took advantage of… Right on the northernmost tip of Barbados, which is called, St. Lucy. This is the rugged Barbados. There’s nothing more relaxing than listening to the waves crash against rocks. Taking photos of the jagged rocks, and the multiple shades of the blue water!! Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at the onsite restaurant while taking in the breathtaking views.
If I could redo anything I would have to say.. make my stay a little longer and I would bring or invite others to join. I know I have a travel company, so I’m trying to live up to the name, Travel’n with a Purpose!! When we travel, we travel with a Purpose!! My motto is, One destination, once a year, one new traveler!! I’m trying to change my community, even if it’s only one trip and one new traveler!! I still feel like I’ve accomplished my mission.
– Dyneshia Pauling-Colter of Travel’n With a Purpose
Travel’n With A Purpose was established 2013. It started as a hobby with her planning their group’s annual trips. Until one day it clicked, that she should benefit from the late night research (hours I might add from personal experience) of booking trips, and become her own travel agent. As years and different trips went by, more outside people became interested.She opened up the travel group to friends and family. Like anything new, she was hesitant at first and didn’t think she wanted to be exposed until she stumbled across her niche… Group Travel!
Thoughts to myself like…
As The Travel Outlier, I understand the importance of separating from the pack to truly find that purpose. Since I’ve been on that journey, I travel with that purpose, taking it everywhere I go. The best thing about that is, although I’m separated, occasionally I bump into other Travel Outliers. So meeting someone who’s made it a business was bound to happen. So was it a coincidence when we found out we worked for the same host company, live in the same state, and are both Virgos??? Nah… probably not!!
This year for our family vacation, the Outliers will take on Mexico. I’m excited for a couple of reasons:
It’s our family vacation
It will be the children’s first time out of the country
Hotel Xcaret (Bomb!!!)
with that however, comes passport fees for 3 children ughh … but hey I’ve spent way more on other meaningless things, and I’m sure you have too. So in my opinion, that was money worth spending.
Close to half of the population own a passport. I’m curious to know of that number how many are African Americans (research for a later time lol). As I went through my own process, I figured why not share the dets…
Passport Application Process for First Time Applicants
Passport Book $145
Passport Card $65
Passport book $115
Passport card $50
** All fees include both application and execution fee**
Passport book vs Card…
If you’re like me, you’re always looking to save. Although the passport card is a lot cheaper from the book, this is probably not the best choice for the long run.
Besides the difference of one being a book and the other a card, passport cards are not valid for international travel. So if your international travel plans include air transportation forget it. The card is only valid for re-entry to the United States, Mexico, Bermuda, and Caribbean for only land and sea crossings. **The card also only allows 24 characters in your name**. The standard passport books covers all of those bases, regardless of how you travel.
Along with your application filled out in black ink (Obviously I had to do it in blue right). You will also need your driver’s license (government issued id) and a certified birth certificate (long form). If your name has changed due to marriage, you’ll need a copy of your marriage license.
For children, if both parents can appear that would be great. You will need to bring a copy of the child’s long form birth certificate (shows relationship to the child) and both your driver’s licenses (government id).
If only one parent is present and both are listed on the birth certificate you’ll need one of the following:
second parent’s notarized written statement given consent
court order showing guardianship
written statement explaining why 2nd parent is unavailable or
If there is only one parent listed, just your information is required.
Contrary to popular belief you ARE allowed to smile. That’s actually on the application you will need to fill out. Most places that print pictures offer some type of passport option for a fee of course. The post office charges $15 to take a picture. However if you have a membership to Sam’s or Costco you can take a passport photo for around $5. For AAA members depending on the level, it’s free!!
16 and under – valid for 5 years
16 and over- valid 10 years
Now in a perfect world, we don’t have these issues but that’s not the case. So in case your reading this and have a checkered past (convicted felon) this does not disqualify you totally from your passport. However there are certain offense that will like:
Convicted of international drug trafficking
currently charged with a felony / outstanding warrant
Owing over $2500 in child support / certain federal loans owed
certain drug related offenses
At the end of it all you won’t know until you know… you’re guaranteed to get your moneys worth.
The entire process will generally take 4-6 weeks. Unless you need it sooner. If so be sure to visit the website below for pricing
For more information be sure to visit the Department of State website here